Date: September 27, 2014
A man of nobility calls in shinobi help when one of the noble's children goes missing. Hayate Akiko (with Keiji) works with what she has to find the boy and uncover the truth.
"Pride of Nobles"
Royal Palace, Land of Wind
Once someone has found their way past the Maze of Cherry Blossoms, they will see an empty courtyard where the Daimyo speaks to his mass subjects. The palace itself is of decent size. The walls have dragons carved into the red wood. The tea paper has been replaced with solid white walls and massive black, iron doors. The doors are carved with designs of samurai on horseback. The guards at these doors are dressed much like the samurai in these pictures.
Once inside the palace, the main hallway maintains the red and white coloring. It also contains several doors although they are guarded by sentries. At the end of the hallway is an open set of double doors that leads into a wide open chamber. This is where the Daimyo of the Land of Wind conducts his business. There is a seat, much like a throne, elevated from the floor by steps where the Daimyo sits if you are lucky enough to visit with him. This entire area of course is crawling with guards. The room contains the same white walls with red pillars reaching at least ten foot into the air before connecting to the ceiling. The walls are lines with statues of guards and other soldiers. These are obviously constructed from clay.
A carrier falcon arrived in the Sand Village early in the morning. It seems there were some royal troubles brewing in the capital city of Rakuen. Almost immediately a small force was dispatched to deal with the issue at hand. The team consisted of a single Jounin and a sigle genin. The genin however happened to be a Hayato.
The noble man looks at Keiji and then then Akiko as they arrive at the palace. "Right this way. I know you must be tired from travelling but time is short here." the bald man says as he moves through the palace halls. "We believe that a young noble boy has been kidnapped from the palace garden. It is where he was last seen playing with other children." He then turns down another hall and large doors with dragons carved into them begin to open for them to pass through. "We have added additional guards to each of the gates. No one gets in or out of this city without us knowing about it right now. We are still hoping the boy and his kidnapper are still within the confines of the city. Once they get to the desert, we are certain the boy's fate will not be a happy one."
"So you think the boy was kidnapped?" Keiji asked as he walked side by side the noble through the hallway in the palace. "What evidence do you have to support this theory?" he asks. Finally he looks at the younger Hayato girl that is travelling with him. "We will need a picture of the boy so that we might track him. Also, we would like to look at the room where you believe the abduction happened. Then as the final request for now, we will need a list of any and all visitors to the palace here. This way if someone slipped the guards we will be able to find out."
Akiko was picked out for this mission, though she didn't really expect it. Being on a mission without Rikuto and Tsuchi hasn't happened in a long time, it felt, and the girl spent most of the traveling time getting used to this fact. Fortunately Kotone was still with her, providing some semblance of familiarity. Her train of thought didn't dwell too much on this fact, however, as she began to focus on the mission. Why was she chosen? Well, she was about to find out. The girl was immediately impressed by her surroundings once she and Keiji arrived at their destination. The Hayato couldn't help but look around every which way and that, Kotone looking in the opposite direction of the girl so the pair could take everything in.
Then the mission actually began. Akiko straightened a bit as the noble started to explain the situation, listening attentively to most of the details. A small nod in agreement to Keiji's requests, thinking that she can't find what she doesn't know. She decides not to speak for now, uncertain what to even say, especially in the presence of a noble.
"Of course it was a kidnapping!" the noble man exclaims. "What else could it possibly be?" he asks. He then turns once more and opens one final set of doors. It leads out into a small garden courtyard. There are a few toys placed on a stone table and a fountain that trickles water down the side of it. "As for the list of visitors, you are not high enough ranking to get your hands on that information. I will go get you a picture of the boy as requested. Until my return, do not leave this room. Security is very tight in the palace." The noble man then leaves the garden and the two are allowed to begin their investigation.
Keiji had put some of the words together to form other meanings than the obvious. For example, the noble did not know what was going on. A kid vanished and they figured they might have a security breach. Everything else seemed to be a show for their own egos. His dark eyes scan over the garden taking in as much information about the situation as possible. "Ok Hayato. Take a look around and tell me what you think. Then tell me why you think it. This is going to be a very common type of mission for you due to your… abilities."
Akiko follows the noble out to the gardens, looking around with a more practiced eye than she had before actually realizing the assignment. A small frown crosses her face as she looks about, everything looking to be in perfect place. Wait… Everything was a bit /too/ perfect… The girl glances to her partner falcon, the two silently communicating their observations and pointing out one or two things to each other for a minute or so. Finally, she says, "It's… Too neat. Too perfect. Everything's in order. Either the aids thought it'd be a good idea to clean after the kid was kidnapped, or the kid wasn't actually kidnapped." She pauses, thinking. "It seems more likely that the boy just wandered off on his own, really. He didn't bother to play with his toys and felt like exploring or something. There's no sign of any fighting or a struggle."
Keiji nods his head in agreement. "Yep. Things do seem to be pretty neat for the story given. Nobles have a lot to hide. It would not surprise me if evidence had been removed. There are a lot of guards here in the palace. Even this city is better guarded than any other I've ever seen. If someone kidnapped the kid, they would have a hard time doing it from the outside. As we are not allowed a guest list, we assume it would have been an inside job. By now there would have been demands or a ransom of some form asked. So what do you think our next move is?" Keiji asks.
"Would it be possible to pick up the tracks?" Akiko wonders, peering closely at the garden before her in hopes of spotting /something/ that would give the trio a clue. "Or could we figure out if maybe one of the guards kidnapped the boy somehow? Like… if there's no struggle, then maybe that's because the boy went with the kidnapper willingly. That's possible. Like, if the person was someone the boy trusted or something," Akiko surmises, glancing to Kotone to see if the falcon had picked up on anything. Kotone gives a slight shake of her head to say 'nope, not yet'.
"It is possible." Keiji states. "I doubt the guards did it unless it was a group effort. How do you get the kid out without someone seeing them? If the child walked out the front door, there would be at least 12 guards. If the kid went down a hallway, at least two guards would have seen him." Keiji once more glances around the courtyard. "There must be a secret door somewhere round here. Unless we can find a way out, the kid is probably still here hiding."
Akiko hmms lightly and steps a bit further into the courtyard to try and get a better perspective of things. She spins in place, looking around at eye level while muttering about 'secret doors'. Then she blinks and crouches down to about where a young boy might usually be about, looking around like that. It may look silly, but the girl is able to spot something, obvious by the perking of her entire body. She stands up, perhaps a bit abruptly for Kotone's liking, and points over towards where the water is draining. "Over there. It looks big enough for a kid to fit in." She then jogs over to the grate and gives it a curious tug, finding it loose. A few wiggles and she ends up making enough space that, indeed, a child would be able to crawl into. "Ta-da~!"
The noble man returns with the photograph just in time to see Akiko pull the grate from the drain for the water. "Oh my…" he states as he holds the picture up. He does not say anything though his face seems to turn a little red.
Keiji turns in time to see the noble man's entry. He had wished the guy had not seen it. He hated playing these games when the simple truth was so much simpler. He reaches over and takes the photo out of the man's hand. "No need to be embarassed. We might actually find the child. Now lets stop playing games and tell me where this drain comes out at."
He then extends his hand outwards to Akiko. "We have to assume the child did not find a way out of the city. Familiarize your falcon with this. We will need his vision to find the kid if he's still here."
Keiji might get a glare from Kotone before the falcon turns her attention to the picture, scrutinizing the various details that one can gleam from something so simple. "Kotone is a female, Keiji-san," Akiko mildly corrects, murmuring something to the falcon to try and get her to calm down. The bird gives a light shake of her head before hopping off the Hayato's shoulder and stretching her wings out. Akiko then looks at the picture for a few seconds and then hands it back. "We're ready to go! Just give us the word, and we're off~!" Akiko says cheerfully, happy that the solution to this mission /seems/ simple.
The noble looks at the grate for a moment. "All of the water drains out into the garden of cherry blossoms." He then moves to swipe the picture out of the girl's hand. "We will take it from…"
The wrist of the noble is grabbed by Keiji as the man is cut off. The Shippodoku moves close to the man and whispers something in the noble's ear. After a moment he pulls away and the man turns a pale shade. "Come Akiko. We will be leaving the palace. We start our search in the garden of Cherry Blossoms." Keiji then pushes the door open and walks into the hallway. He expected Akiko to follow behind as things started to seem little hostile. "My apologies for implying Kotone a male." Keiji says as they come upon an intersection of hallways. "Which way did we come from?" he asks.
A faint flinch from Akiko as the noble moves to grab the picture, and Kotone's eyes flash lightly at the sudden movement. Fortunately, Keiji's the one to act, and seems to have the situation more than handled. It's almost funny that the noble turned as pale as a ghost, were it not for the fact that Akiko was shaken slightly. "Right, then!" she manages to say with her previous cheer, following after Keiji quickly so as not to be around that unpleasant noble any further. Kotone glides along with the pair, staying just above the duo's heads. "It's alright. Kotone's the one you have to apologize to, anyway…" The Hayato glanced upward when she mentions her partner before pointing in the right direction. "We came from over there, Keiji-san."
There is a nod of the head as Keiji turns down the hallway. "I am not use to working with a Hayato. It will be a little while before I apologize to a bird. If you want to call it even, I will not make you apologize to my scorpion." There is a slight chuckle as Keiji continues walking until they make the entrance. "By the way, Nobles like to change things as they go. They expect a certain level of control. We were paid to find the child and that is just what we will do. Sometimes they need a reminder of such." Keiji then moves forward through the exit between two guards.
"Fair enough," Akiko says with a nod as well. Kotone isn't too pleased with the end result of that conversation, but the bird decides not to make too much of a fuss about the whole thing. The pair keep following the jounin, staying about a foot behind for most of the way. "Hmm… That's weird, I think. But I guess I could deal with that easy enough if I ever need to…. It sounds more like a nuisance than anything," the Hayato comments idly, looking around in case the boy happens to be anywhere nearby.
"The garden is just ahead. It seperates the palace from the temple and the merchant district. It is a series of mazes made from different sizes of cherry blossom trees. The entire thing is one massive color. It would be only luck if we were to find the kid on foot. This is where Kotone comes in. We will travel on foot, but Kotone will be our eyes in the sky. Hopefully the child is somewhere in there." Keiji then starts walking forward again. After he enters the garden of cherry blossoms, he looks back to the Hayato girl, "By the way, you are doing pretty good. You are definately an intelligent shinobi."
Akiko nods again as she hears the description of the maze-like garden. "Oh, okay. Well, you heard Keiji-san, Kotone!" The falcon moves to fly higher so she's above the trees. Once in a while, Kotone will dip down to make sure she didn't miss anything, but will resurface shortly after disappearing from view. Meanwhile, Akiko just stays on the ground with Keiji and looks around, focusing a bit of chakra to her eyes so as to make her senses a bit sharper. "Ah… Thanks, Keiji-san. Sometimes it's a stroke of luck, I think. I also can be pretty creative when I need to be," the girl says, trying to explain away the compliment.
"In the right circumstance, luck can be even better than skill. Sometimes the lack there of can even negate skill. Lady luck is a good thing to have on your side." Keiji states as he walks over a bridge through the garden. The light of the summer day was not helping his eyes any. Despite this, the sooner the child was found, the sooner they could go home and quit dealing with the nobles. "Lets hope luck is still on our side. If he got to the merchant district he could be anywhere. How is Kotone doing?" he asks.
"Still nothing. But we only just started looking!" Akiko replies, wandering around and just searching for now. The three are looking for a good hour before Kotone gives a cry to alert the pair. "OH! Kotone found him!" Akiko exclaims, shifting from where she was looking at a taller tree to the sound of the falcon. She immediately dashes off, not bothering to check if Keiji is behind her and following. It doesn't take as long to get to the destination now that she has a place in mind, and Kotone's presence only quickens the finding of the boy. "Found 'em!" she calls behind her. To the boy, she says, "Hi there. Sorry if we startled you or anything like that."
Keiji was following behind Akiko as she took off. It was good to see the genin show some excitement. At least there were parts she could still enjoy. Plus it seemed like all was about to end happily for this little mission. As Keiji approached the boy he spotted a girl with him. "Oh… its like that." he states looking towards Akiko. He shakes his head before talking to the boy. "We need to take you home. It is our mission. If you go with us without an issue we will not mention the girl…"