Date: March 4, 2011
Kanami and her "supervisor", Masa, go out to complete the former's assigned task… Killing a great warrior and freeing a mighty serpent from imprisonment.
Warning: Contains depictions of a topless culture.
"Serpent's Servant - Enter The Snake Goddess"
Tropical Island - Location Unknown
The Serpent's Pass turns out to be an intricate block of stone covered in seals. The rock stands nearly sixty feet high, the seals tiny, each about the size of the tip of a human's finger, and cover the gray-brown surface so much it almost appears black. None of them seem to be repeating, but one could likely spend years studying the stone and perhaps not cover and identify each mark, the rounded boulder giving off an aura of infinite hours of work put into it's construction. One large space on the enormous rock was left bare, nearly thirty feet across, a 'hole' as it were. The woman known as Masa had simply touched and activated a few seals, before the barren, empty circle had begun to shine brightly enough that it was like looking into a miniature star. Stepping through the portal, a very advanced form of reverse-summoning, was a bit jarring, as if getting yanked through a warm, bright hole by an unseen force and flung across immeasurable distances.
Where they had been deposited was in an alien landscape somewhere in the world few humans from the great countries in the north had ever been. It was far, far to the south, a mountainous region filled overlooking thick jungle valleys. While the valleys were sweltering ovens, the mountains were relatively cool, if a bit barren. Each mountain was a few hundred feet high, standing up and apart from the trees, forming a semi-circle around one of the more lush valleys. Each had a village set atop it, most likely for defense, with fresh water and food only a quick descent away, making the entire community spread out over several miles self-sufficient. The largest village was set on one end, on the tallest of the mountains, facing north.
The architecture of the villages was primarily stone-work, which seemed to be in plentiful abundance. One had only to carve it from the mountainside. The design was rather primitive, the people dressed in simple cloths of woven cloth, with reds, yellows, and greens seeming to be the culturally-favored colors. Houses were thick, ungainly, utilitarian in purpose and built upon each other in tiers, as mini-pyramids, seemingly for defense. Each village was fortified by a high wall with a single gate, and the most defensible structure of each seemed to be the temples, which were only accessible by a single, very exposed stairway that traverses seven levels before entering the main body of the towering temple-pyramid.
The culture of the peoples could be considered barbaric by someone of Kanami's refined tastes. Four days they had been here, and already Masa and Kanami had been witness to an orgy of violence. Prisoners had been put through grueling, violent matches that involved shoving a ball through a hoop high on the wall, and the losing team had been publicly sacrificed to the local pantheon of dieties, tortured and cut apart until the temple stairs had run red with blood. And now was the day after, a day of celebration and feasting that would last for four days, one for each cardinal direction. The first day was the Day of Hummingbird, the Creator, who brought wind and air into the world with every beat of his wings. Should his wings ever stop beating, the wind would cease and the world would suffocate.
Of course, while Masa more or less blended in amongst the dark-skinned peoples, despite being easy to pick out in a crowd with her white hair and tall build, Kanami, with her exoticly-light skin and 'odd' manner of dress was openly stared at every time she walked in public without a henge. This had proved to be a blessing in disguise, as it caught the attention of almost every noble in the area, many of whom desired to have the company of an exotic, beautiful woman. The Nogakujin had daily callers for her attention, but one of which had suited her and Masa's plans: a nobleman who was taking her upon his arm to the grand banquet at the temple-palace of Da Guo-Wei himself, a place which was forbidden to all without invitation. To even set foot upon the bottom stair without the great Da's blessing was punishable by dismemberment and decapitation, to have every piece of one's body buried in a separate location, forever apart, causing one's ghost to wail upon the earth in eternity, unable to move on to the afterlife. To actually enter the temple itself was to invite the same punishment, as well as death by strangulation for the entire offender's immediate family.
"I know it is hard to make one such as yourself beautiful, mammal, but do try to hurry." The dark-skinned snake-woman was dressed in local 'finery'. Finely-woven cloth of muted yellows and light greens covers her body. The toga-like garment covers her from one shoulder to both ankles, leaving everything from her right shoulder to right hip bare, for these people had very different differences in views of 'modesty'. To bare oneself in this hot and humid land above the waist was common, even for women. Even ceremonial garments tended to be simple and airy. Strings of beads and precious stones wind around the platinum-blonde's neck and wrists, her arms crossed across her torso, her hands on each of her biceps as she waits impatiently in the quarters they have been provided. "Our escort is already here."
Kanami has taken readily to the role of 'exotic outsider'. She cleaned off all the 'desert-native' water-proof bodypaint during the trip, as well as returning to her normal human form as opposed to the half-serpent form she had assumed prior. She has had days to spend learning the ways of Masa. She has kept hidden as many details about her own true self as she can, trying out different lines of conversation, different types of behavior, and has quickly narrowed down the general 'feel' of conduct among the Snakes. She takes Masa's derogatory tones and words in good humor, or at least does not react to them in a way that would give the Snake woman any satisfaction. Humans are inferior to her kind, apparently, so protesting would just be evidence to support that, and failing to contradict her would be evidence too. The only way she can prove anything — if she even cares to try — is to show with her actions what her capabilities are.
Masa aside, the natives of this place are… Interesting. Very, very interesting. The architecture, the art, the displays, the customs… It's all very dramatic in a way that they most likely fail to realize, being that they live in such a place all the time. Kanami has taken much of her time wandering about to simply observe, and to enjoy all that life on a very different country has to offer. Nothing seems to be poisonous that she has been served so far, the water is clean(ish), and there has been no need to use any jutsu of any kind. Even so, she always keeps at least one of her Nogakujin Masks with her at all times. The other is usually hidden at whatever quarters she has been given, with the promise of swift and fatal retribution on any who dares to try pilfering it. Plenty of nasty traps built into those Masks.
Carrying herself regally, Kanami turns after finishing applying some dark-green eyeliner in a pattern of swirls and other serpentine shapes. She has attempted to work both local designs she has seen and her own experiences with theatrical make-up together to form something new and fitting her image as 'exotic'. She also keeps the theme of any decorations or ornamentation as snake-like as she can without being blatant about it. Oddly, there are a lot of snake-based jewelry and similar to choose from. Perhaps they worship snakes as well as… 'Hummingbird'? Either way, Kanami eyes Masa up and down as she adjust her own toga-like garment. Walking around essentially topless is a bit new to her, but she has to play her role. "…Mmm. Well, I am prepared, Masa-san. How fortunate that the fashions match the environment. Otherwise I might have been denied an opportunity to view your own beauty in such detail."
Kanami raises from her seat and walks closer to the Snake disguised as a human woman. "It seems that no matter what form you take, you are pleasing to the eye…" One hand comes dangerously close to touching Masa's shoulder but instead just traces the air a couple inches away from the curved surface before being withdrawn and turned into a flourish. "Please lead the way, Masa-san."
"Of course I am." The white-haired woman snaps as her shoulder slightly, almost involuntarily, pulls away from the almost-touch, as if she feared Kanami's hands were somehow unclean. "One doesn't appreciate true beauty until one has been stuck in this disgusting soft-skinned form. If only I hadn't been born in i-…" The dark-skinned woman cuts off abruptly as she narrows her eyes with a scowl at the Nogakujin. She then turns imperiously on her heel and heads through one of the T-shaped doorways out into the late-afternoon sunlight. The irregular shape of the doors kept the buildings cool, the narrow bottom keeping the cool air in, while the much-wider top allowed the rising heated air to escape.
The heat of the jungle atmosphere was every bit as oppressive as the desert Kanami had just come from. The difference was that this 'wet heat' did not sap the moisture from a body and leave it dessicated and dry. Sweat was simply an everyday part of life, clinging to clothes and skin alike, and heatstroke, rather than thirst, was a constant threat. Masa pauses just outside the doorway, just shy of a quartet of large, burly guards wearing very little other than loincloths and weapon harnesses. Each carried a large, bronze-tipped spear as tall as a man, as well as various implements of warefare about their torsos: handaxes, knives, and short, wide-bladed swords. The snake-woman lowers her voice enough for only the Nogakujin to hear.
"I will be accompanying you as your…" The next word comes through gritted teeth, as if it physically pained her to say it. "…servant. The moment you give me a chore is the moment you die."
The warning-slash-request given, the dark-skinned woman backs up a step and bows her head at a respectful angle, her hands clasped in front of her modestly, eyes downturned. The gruff guards shift to emcompass the women between them, forming a loose square around them with just enough room for the pair to walk comfortably, Masa two steps behind Kanami.
"Hrrrrrunh!" The head guard growls, shaking his spear ahead of them, getting the small procession under way. Like all of the most personal and trusted guards, these four had had the dubious honor of having their tongues cut out, that they may never have temptation to spill the secrets of their masters. The four brutish men's yucca-sandals thump rhythmicly in time with each other as they plod down the paved stoneway. Citizens, even those in the midst of the revelry in the streets, make way for the guards. The warrior caste was second only to the priests and priestesses.
The procession makes no detours, turning only once onto the main road leading towards the great temple-palace itself and it's forbidding stairway. Children run amok, trying to peer through the legs of the warriors at the 'foreign witch woman', commenting on her 'skin like a twinkling star' and making warding signs against curses. This carries on until one of the warriors raises a meaty fist and shakes his weapon at them, at which point they squeal and flee into the crowds.
The population of the villages, especially the head village, swelled to near bursting during such ceremonies, as people from outlying communities come to view and participate in the religious ceremonies, hoping to carry blessings back to their families. Slaves had been ordered to complete their chores at dawn, and most of them were confined to their quarters during the merriment. The great road lead right to the foot of the temple stairs, the other end leading out of the village and towards the south, a major highway of trade for these people. The warriors begin to walk up the stairs without hesitation, herding the pair of women along with them.
Kanami remains silent in response to the almost-divulged information from Masa. She managed to get under the Snake's skin. Good. When Masa's back is turned, Kanami smiles faintly for a moment. She has turned from being at the mercy of the reptiles to being the one in charge. Not just due to Masa yielding control for the purposes of her 'role', but because Kanami is getting her figurative fingers under the edges of Masa's facade and prying the mask off inch by inch.
She acknowledges the warning silently and without physical indications of doing such. Instead she strides out into the tight formation of burly guards as they protect Kanami and Masa. What they need protecting against exactly is an open question and one Kanami is interested in finding out about without a first-hand demonstration. For now, however, she just does her best to look around without seeming to gawk, catching glimpses of the village in the meager spaces between each guard. The air may be warm, but the excitement of the moment, the fragrances, the sounds, the colors… It all appeals to the actress on a fundamental level. Add to that the fact she is embracing something considered 'taboo' in the lands she grew up in by walking around with parts of her hanging out for all to see, and… Well, let's just say she is enjoying the whole of this mission and celebration and that this is physically evident.
But not once does she lose herself completely. She has an eye out for escape routes, for weapons or things that can become weapons, for things that can be toppled as a distraction or to aid an escape, people who look like they can be intimidated or manipulated, and anything that resembles what she has come here for:
Blood and a Seal that needs to be broken. She has no intention of dying in a place like this, but she also will accept as little of Masa's help as possible. She has to show she is in control here, both as an intellectual superior and as a more powerful lifeform. The Doujouji Mask hangs at her waist. That is all that she needs.
The stairs seem to take forever, and likely would leave the average person rather out of breath. But for a ninja, a woman who was usually a snake, and four well-trained guards, there is likely no indication of weariness. The entrance to the temple, like most places, has no actual door, just an carved, squarish opening in the stone. However, unlike most buildings, it uses its sheer height to ward off attack, and plenty of doorways and balconies line the exterior, all on the seventh tier or higher, to leave the interior well-ventilated. As they near the entrance, a gentle breeze tugs at the group, as if tryng to suck them inside. This is indicative of how it is within the cool, stony walls, a gentle breeze always seeming to blow due to the architect's design which allows constant, natural ventilation to flow through.
The four guards halt, not entering the temple, bowing their heads respectfully to the pair of guards standing at the temple's entrance. If the four guards sent by Kanami's enamoured noble were large, these were giants among men, each nearing seven feet tall, looking as if they could wrestle a great brown bear and win. The quartet turn and depart, apparently not having leave to enter the actual sacred ground. One of the giants motions with his head for the two women to enter, but before they have a chance bustles out the fat man himself.
Da Hei-Hi was one of Guo-Wei's many cousins, a man whose sense of merriment was as robust as his waistline. He had sought after Kanami the moment he had set eyes upon her, seeking to add her to his collection of wives as the fourth. Gifts had arrived almost hourly, believing the young, pale-skinned beauty to be some sort of foreign noble or perhaps dignitary. Masa had of course advised that they go along with the charade, seeing as an unaccompanied foreign woman of unimportant station would likely make a valuable and easily-acquired slave. Whenever the portly male was around the Nogakujin, his eyes twinkled with a mixture of enjoyment and lust, his smile constant, causing his small eyes to disappear even more into his fat cheeks. The male wore a skirt of finely-woven fibers, opulant jewelry, and an ornate headress, no clothing upon his sweaty upper body to hide his bulking stomach.
"Ah, my sweet Pale Flower. You are as one of the Blessed Star People come to earth. Come inside, my dear. I desire all to see your beauty and marvel!"
As the fat, dark-skinned male holds out his hand to escort Kanami within the walls of the palace that so few were even allowed to see, the white-haired woman bows her head and looks at the floor as she trails them inside, as if not daring to look upon the wonders of the great temple. Despite her best attempts, she proves herself only a mediocre actress, a barely-believable slave, or perhaps one not yet broken. Her shoulders, her bearing, the way she carries herself, all too proud to have had the fight and self-interest beaten out of her.
Inside, the 'great holy place' of these people was something right out of a Bacchanalian carnival. Soft pillows abounded in no particular order or scheme other than for people to sit upon. Doors lead off into other rooms, where the sounds of conversation, and sometimes the whisper of something more intimate, come from. Barely-dressed slaves rush about, serving the elite rich foods, mostly of the grown variety, though meats were also in abundance, though only these wealthy patrons could afford them, almost unheard of in the lower reaches of society. These men, and a few women, lived in utter hedonism and leisure while the world below and around them toiled in labor to elevate keep the elite elevated.
The true actress here continues to behave as expected of a foreign noble. Yet she adds into the confident manner in which she carries herself both manners and warmth. Courtesy is offered to the rotund Da Hei-Hi, and even to the guards. As her first set of guards moves to depart, she does something that may well be unheard of in this culture… She turns and says, "Thank you for escorting me here." Thanking the men for doing their job? Some might see that as absurd but… The fact that a noble would recognize their efforts and actually speak words of thanks may make quite an impression. Whether that is a good impression or a bad one is yet to be seen.
Kanami, meanwhile, turns to face forward as she indicated to go within. Da Hei-Hi approaches, and Kanami offers an inclination of her head rather than a full bow. The habit of bowing is a hard one to break, but she manages to blunt it at least. "Your way with words is as profound as your good humor and health, I see," the pale-skinned woman replies as she daintily accepts the offered hand. The difference between desert and tropical climate continues to strike her, making her feel vaguely as though she is suffocating from the combination of heat and humidity. Of couse, this only means to observers that her chest rises and falls a bit more quickly than is normal, and combined with the other evidences of her excitement at the splendor surrounding her, including a bit of a faint blush on her pallid cheeks, it could easily just be construed as happiness to be here or… Something similar.
Once invited within, Kanami observes that there is more an atmosphere of festival than of prayer. No ritual other than the recitation of conversation and the movements of bodies against each other in some places out of sight. Turning her brown eyes on Da Hei-Hi, she asks quietly and innocently, "I have heard of one known as the 'Rain Serpent' who is said to have guided your people at one time… Does he still dwell amongst us in this world, or is it true that he departed across the sea on a boat of reeds?" Listening to the talk of others for the past few days has been very enlightening. Asking a few curious questions has been even more so. She cannot claim to be an expert on these people, but that is only fitting as it grants a more believable aspect to her guise.
Speaking to the guards almost seems to startle them! They glance uncertainly at the woman before departing, obviously being used to either receiving orders or being treated as a part of the background. And, of course, their lack of tongues prevents any sort of reply. But they depart all the same, back down the stairs, perhaps off to return to Hei-Hi's home, or some other place he directed them to wait. The male takes the Nogakujin's hand in his meaty, sweaty fist and guides her inside as if she were made of gossamer lace. Masa is completely ignored, left to trail in behind them at a suitable two paces back.
The temple seemed to be separated into areas of importance. The entry ways were occupied by the general revelers and lesser nobles, as well as important guests, such as wealthy traders who brought in large measures of trade goods to the towns. The higher chambers were the province of the most holy artifacts and ceremonies of the jungle peoples. Kanami was taken down a flight of stairs, into the very bowels of the great stone pyramid, deeper into the home of Da Guo-Wei, the Ruling Sun. As they descend the stairs, the celebrations become less subdued, less boistrous, though perhaps even more decadent in the relative isolation and privacy of the stone corridors. The acoustics of the place tended to rebound voices rather than carrying them, ensuring that, despite the lack of doors, relative privacy could be assured.
"Ah, to think you know so much of our history, yet we know so little of yours!" Hei-Hi sighs almost wistfully as they pass down a series of corridors, towards a large, bightly-lit doorway at the end. "Yes, the honored Rain Serpent did dwell amongst us at one time, and our bounty was such that our kingdom was the envy of the world. But when Terrato, the Destroyer, came to end this world, he departed to search for a hero who could defeat him. Da Ma-Jin came from over the great waters and subdued the God of Destruction himself. He was the first of the Da family. And on certain days, you may see the Rain Serpent's multi-colored body stretching across the sky as he revists our land. His appearance is a good omen, meaning that our great chief has his favor."
A soft scuffling sound that may have been a woman's scoff, or the whisper of a yucca sandal across stone, comes from the white-haired snake-woman behind the pair. Hei-Hi, apparently only having eyes for his 'Pale Flower', deigns not to notice. By the time the legend has reached its end, they are emerging into the central chamber of the temple-palace.
The chamber is both expansive and opulent, occupying the majority of the second tier of the pyramid. Here again is a lavish banquet set out, but a bit more structured. The Sun Chief's personal slaves saunter too and fro, wearing fine, thin garments that reveal more than they cover, serving guests with platters made of torquise, jade, and obsidian. The higher nobles occupy the room, accompanied by concubines and consorts, some in small groups, discussing such things as were important to them. The walls are lines with gilded and ornate weapons, as well as rings of skulls and scalps, as these people believed that some parts of the enemy empowered the killer when taken reverently as a prize. Benches and low seats line the walls, as well as a large, central dias upon which would normally sit the great chief himself in audience. Today, however, it sat empty, and Guo-Wei was leaning indolently against the easter wall, surrounded by a pair of nobles, each seeming to try to talk at once and gesturing quickly. The chief himself looked rather bored.
With a lean build, Guo-Wei had likely once been a heavily-muscled youth, though years of easy ruling had softened his forty-something frame somewhat. Still there remained a hard, steely glare in his glance and a seemingly-permanent unpleasant set to his jaw that tended to set others back. Despite his lean body, his presence seemed to outweigh the rest of him, and he somehow projected an aura of respect and intimidation. He did not wear ornate jewelry as did many of the nobles, and his clothes were rather simple, consisting mostly of shades of yellow.
"Welcome, my precious dear," Hei-Hi gestures expansively as he speaks. "It is quite the honor to be invited into the inner sanctum of my cousin!"
Taking in the sights, the sounds, the smells, and even the feelings of air moving across bare skin, of the sweaty skin of Hei-Hi, Kanami is pleased with this assignment from the serpents so far. Just on the visceral level alone, this has been fun. But when she succeeds beyond any expectations the Snakes might have, and returns triumphantly, that will be best of all. They will have no choice but to acknowledge they underestimated her then. The genuine smile of happiness that idea brings may seem as though she is overjoyed to be brought here by Hei-Hi. In reality she is just wondering if she should leave him alive or consign him to a more grisly fate before she leaves.
"Indeed, Hei-Hi-san. I appreciate that you would bring an outsider such as myself into the same general location as your cousin, let alone providing me the possible chance of speaking with him — should he desire, that is." She smiles broadly at Hei-Hi and moves in on tip-toes to plant a quick kiss on one of his chubby cheeks. "You are very kind. I am sure your cousin values your generosity, amongst your other qualities." She then moves back from such close proximity, unless for some reason she is kept from doing so. Her gaze focuses back on Guo-Wei.
The actress tilts her head and examines the man thoughtfully. "Hmmm… I wonder if anyone has ever seen his lordship fight before." She quickly tacks on, "Anyone who survived that is. Perhaps allies or family that he may have defended against harm?"
The steely gaze of the Ruling Sun moves over the delicate frame of the light-skinned stranger in their midst… and then moves past her, sweeping about the rest of the room as he stifles a yawn without a care as to offending the pair of men of either side of him. He motions for one of them to be silent, then gestures at the other, speaking briefly. Both men again erupt into conversation, before the first one is silenced with an upraised hand again. He quiets immediately.
Hei-Hi, however, has barely glanced at his cousin. It was hard to even tell how they were related, considering one was lean and severe, the other rotund and merry. The fat man's face reddens a bit as his smile grows, showing off many of his teeth at the sign of affection bestowed upon him by the Nogakujin. "W-Why would you want to speak with him? No, see? He is much too busy…" The large man flusters, apparently afraid of losing his prize to his cousin's influence.
Even as Kanami moves away, his hand stays glued to her hip, as if held there by some invisible, unknowable adhesive. There was no mistaking the glint in his eyes, the glint almost any man has when he sees something he must carnally possess… Though his gaze strays slightly when a thinly-clad servant saunters by, wearing little more than jewelry upon her head, neck, and hips.
"Ah, you wish to know of my dear cousin's exploits, do you? Yes, they are quite many and marvelous." Still grinning broadly, he glances towards his kinsman, who isn't even peripherally paying attention to them. "Unlike the treacherous Fire Dogs to the south or the godless Hohokam to the east, Guo-Wei truly leads his men. Many of the slaves in this very room are ones captured by him personally on raids against the other nations! They say he fights like a demon possessed, even now as he should be settling down and allowing the younger men to take the forefront in warfare."
Kanami smiles and pats Hei-Hi on the arm reassuringly, seeming to realize his discomfiture. "No need to worry, Hei-Hi-san. It was you who has invited me here, you who has given me so many presents, and you who I am the companion of during this wonderful event. I would not so cruelly abandon one such as you. Your cousin may be great indeed… But he is not YOU." She does not attempt to move away from the hand on her hip.
Hei-Hi is momentarily distracted, and Kanami takes a moment to focus her Chakra. Not a lot of it, but she is preparing herself at least. One never knows who might be able to feel or see such things, so she tries to keep it as subtle as possible. Then she tosses out an attempt at Linking her Chakra with Guo-Wei's. Nothing further is done yet.
Meanwhile, once that momentary lapse in attention ends, Kanami hangs on Hei-Hi's every word. "Indeed, he sounds quite proficient… It would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to watch him fight a worthy foe… There are probably very few that exist still. Fortunate for us all, hm?" She leans against Hei-Hi as though he might be able to protect her with his presence against some imaginary 'worthy foe'. She is already calculating what her next move will be. It all depends on whether the first part works, of course. But in her experience, most Taijutsuists suck as defending against Genjutsu. And Guo-Wei sounds very much like a Taijutsuist so far.
The corpulent male relaxes visibly as Kanami assures him that she will not abandon him to seek favor elsewhere. Not after he has done so much to try to win her attention! His eyes practically disappear into his smile. If he notices the gathering of chakra by the Nogakujin, he gives no sign of it.
Fortunately for Kanami, other than the exception of Masa, there doesn't appear to be anyone in the room, or even the entire town, that was proficient in any level of chakra-usage. Appearances could be deceiving, but it seems as if her subtle intrusion into the mind of the ruler of these primitive, barbaric people has gone unnoticed, as well as successful. When her link is established… nothing happens. No hidden guards emerge, no change in the male's body language occurs. He continues arbitrating between the two men with no apparent outward show of having noticed anything was wrong.
The white-haired snake-woman, however, seems to have grown impatient, something which could spell trouble all its own. She clears her throat so softly it's almost uncertain if there was a sound at all. But there is no mistaking the gentle brushing of her hand as she turns subtley, as if simple shifting the way she was facing, against Kanami's other hip, the closest she could get to nudging the dark-haired woman without being noticeable.
"Ah, sadly he does not engage in the bloodsports. The Ruling Sun is far too valuable to lose on such petty concerns as entertainment, you see. Why, if such a thing happened, Father Sun himself might turn away his face from us forever for allowing his favored son to become harmed for our amusement, leaving our people in darkness forever." Hei-Hi bobs his head in the direction of his kinsman. "Yet he does love to watch the ball games. His specially-selected team has never lost!" A full belly-laugh. "But then the losing team is always sacrificed, so a winning streak is essential, henh? Ah ha ha ha!"
Kanami laughs lightly at Hei-Hi's humor. She ignores Masa for a moment. Then she turns to face Masa, and all mirth is gone from her face. In its place she has snake-like pupils in her eyes and she is very specifically directing her immediate intention to kill Masa if she does not back off. Killing Intent. It is not simply for intimidation. Acting in a way other than as a servant/slave could jeapordize everything! 'And impatient worm like her does not get to ruin my performance,' she thinks coldly. There is no anger in her expression. Just the calculating expression of one who can and will kill without hesitation… And quite possibly enjoy it. "Tell me," she says in a rather intense tone, before turning back to face Hei-Hi with a suddenly innocently concerned expression upon her face. "Is lord Guo-Wei ill? He looks a bit… Unwell." As though to emphasize this, she raises a hand to gesture at the man. At the same time, she casts a Genjutsu. A rather simple one, really. It tells the mind that the body cannot breathe or is at least having a hard time doing so. It is brief, but very useful for exhausting a foe.
Asphyxiation is its name. And Kanami casts the Genjutsu twice in a row on the same target. It's all part of her plan. Now that she knows her victim is susceptible, she can ramp things up until it's time to reveal her true purpose here.
That's when things will get REALLY good.
Masa's lip curls, showing her teeth. It could almost be mistaken for an awkward smile, if the bearer of such were anything other than a serpent. Baring fangs was, of course, a sign of intense aggression among snakes, and for a moment, the tension between the two women is palpable enough that even the dim-witted Hei-Hi takes notice of it and furrows his brow. Time seems suspended in the air for a moment. Will the white-haired cottonmouth ruin everything? It wasn't her mission, after all, and Kanami's success or failure was dependent upon her report back to the 'Judge Snake' that had 'sentenced' Kanami to this most unusal community service. She could simply expose the other woman and return herself to her home with no ill effects to her standing, considering she could blame the entire thing on the human.
The moment passes and is gone as Kanami turns away. Though from the icy look on the white-haired woman's face, who had not the acting skills of the Nogakujin to cover her emotions, was not forgotten.
Even as the fat man looks in the direction of his cousin, the ruler of these people puts a hand to his chest as his face strains, the pair of squabbling noblemen setting aside their arguement to exchange confused, concerned glances. Nearly the whole room stops what they're doing to look at the male as one hand clutches his chest, the other his throat. Several ask if he's choking, but remain only confused when he shakes his head.
Hei-Hi himself leaves Kanami's side and half-jobs, half-powerwalks to his cousin, who seems finally able to breath, sitting forward, sweating. Hei-Hi and one of the nobles help him to his feet, a bit unsteady despite his reassurances to the crowd that he was fine. One of the servants is already out of the room, gone to fetch one of the medic-priests, even as others suggest that the revelry has gone on long enough for today and the Ruling Sun should return to his chambers to 'think through the matters that have been discussed'. A polite way to save face.
"About time, mammal." Masa hisses as all attention is diverted from them for the moment. "I am going to follow them to the fool's room. You will make him dead and secure his blood before the sun rises."
Kanami ignores Masa. The fact that everything is going as planned almost makes her forget how the snake-woman has nearly ruined everything.
But she can show quite well that she is in charge here and fully capable of executing a task like this without the aid of a whiny, humanophobic, self-absorbed, pretentious, cowboy-boot wannabe! She waits until Hei-Hi is at Guo-Wei's side, and then she casts her next Genjutsu. It's not a Genjutsu that most people use. It's very specific to the Nogakujin. 'Kousatsu! <Strangulation!>' Kanami utters silently in her head. A pair of solid-seeming arms, connected to the incomplete upper-body of some kind of… Snake-man or some such would appear directly in front of Guo-Wei. The powerful arms, with claw-tipped fingers, then wrap around the human's throat, and attempt to start STRANGLING him with a bone-grinding, vice-like grip! A monster has appeared and is trying to kill the lord of the land!
And he'd be the only one who would even see it.
The focus should very shortly be ENTIRELY upon the Ruling Sun and his condition. Just a few seconds more, and she'll be able to enter the second-to-last part of this play. In the mean-time since all are going to be looking away from her, she flashes two hand seals and a mass of 'temporary serpents' appears at her side that are already disguised the moment they show up. They look like a humanoid snake monster similar to the illusory one that should be strangling Guo-Wei. Kanami backs away from her Serpent Clone as it begins to stride purposefully towards those nearby Guo-Wei, completely obvious and in the open should anyone look back and notice it.
The snake-in-human-form (or was it the other way around?) watches the events unfolding with her arms crossed under her chest, one leg cocked, a look of mixed interest and disdain on her face as she observes the humans panicing. It was not the look of a slave, but then again, no one was paying attention to her. They were trying to figure out what was going on with their god-king, who was even now grabbing at his throat and swinging his fists seemingly at random as his face begins to turn blue.
Hei-Hi was thundering for the priests and for the others to restrain the monarch and hold him face down so that they could induce vomiting to get whatever poison he might have swallowed out of his stomach. The nobles were trying to grab the limbs of their struggling ruler, but Guo-Wei was indeed a warrior and skilled from a lifetime of combat. Just as quickly as a limb could be grabbed, it would snake out of one's grasp and lash out seemingly at random. Eventually numbers begin to prevail and hands try to pry open the Ruling Sun's mouth that they might perhaps be able to see what was obstructing his breathing.
Footsteps could be heard, very faintly, from down the hall, as well as incoming voices. No doubt the slave returning with the medic-prophet-priests here to 'cure' their leader of whatever poisoned him, as well as guards. The form of Masa melts away, becoming that of a six-foot-long black snake, which quickly slithers to the base of a statue in the room, behind it, and is gone from view.
A woman's gasp brings a male's attention to the writhing snake-monster now approaching them. The man shouts, points, drawing more of his fellows attention, most of whom grab their still-struggling ruler and pull him away from danger, putting themselves in harm's way. Not all of them are unarmed, a few carrying knives that were to be used for ceremony, but now may find actual use.
The snake monster is no ordinary snake monster. It resembles a towering woman wearing a skirt of writhing snakes and a necklace made of human hearts, hands, and skulls. Her feet and hands are adorned with claws and her breasts hang flaccid from nursing. Her face is formed by two serpents facing opposite directions. This is a figure drawn from the memories and beliefs of these people… Kanami is no mind-reader, but she has not wasted her time during her stay here. Questions asked, imagery and idols examined, stories listened to attentively… This monster is Coatlicue, the Mother of the Gods. And she is as horrible as any story or legend has ever painted her as being.
She roars in synchronous serpentine voices, "GUO-WEI! YOU HAVE FAILED TO HONOR ME, COATLICUE, AS IS PROPER! TOO MANY SACRIFICES HAVE BEEN OFFERED TO MY DESCENDANT, QUETZALCOATL! TERRATO'S SEAL IS WEAKENING! ONLY THE BLOOD OF GUO-WEI WILL KEEP THE MONSTER-SERPENT CONTAINED! OBEY, OR YOU WILL ALL BE FLAYED ALIVE!"
Kanami remains off to the side and pretends to be scared or confused throughout this. If this goes as planned, then they will do her work for her. If it does not go as planned… She has other options.
The high priest, possibly the one person who might know enough other than Guo-Wei to undo this little charade, enters at a run. He pulls up short before the terrible visage of thier deity come to life. The attendant slaves behind him pull up short. The male faints dead away, the girl backs up slowly, before turning and fleeing back down the very same passage they had just come from! The high priest's bladder lets go and his knees fail him. He falls into a muttering heap, mumbling nonsensicly in a quivering mound of pallid flesh and white hair.
Of the men wielding knives, only one manages to hold onto his as the serpent-goddess thunders at them, and he's looking at their god-king like he might seriously be considering stabbing him. The men all pale, the women tremble, more than one of the people urinate on themselves. And all the time, their monarch struggles for breath.
"BRING HIM TO THE HOLY CHAMBER!"
Hei-Hi's booming voice rings out over the crowd, grasping hands grip the struggling king, hefting him up, and the procession begins moving towards the door! Guo-Wei's hands are forced behind him and bound in silk drapes, his kicking legs are held tight, and he's drug down the passageway, nobles, the extremely wealthy, and slaves running in tow, down l turning a corner, and heading deeper into the temple, down some stairs. Soon enough, Kanami, if she hasn't moved… is left alone.
The voices fade further into the temple. The silence in the chamber the foreign woman has been abandoned in rebounds. No trace of Masa remains. Wherever she is, she isn't in the chamber any longer. Perhaps she knows something Kanami does not? Most likely.
Kanami considers the fact that Masa does not like her and probably wants her to fail or at least die in the process of succeeding. She considers that everyone has left the area, including Masa. She considers that this monstrous serpent is supposedly really, really strong, and that he/she is probably very very unhappy about being sealed up for so long.
The actress/assassin comes up with a conclusion. She causes Coatlicue to disperse into her component snakes. They'll slither away and eventually just… Vanish. When Kanami is no longer 'imagining' them, they'll cease to exist. In the meantime, she should get out of here. She proceeds to do so, and just to make sure no one gets in her way… On goes the Doujouji Mask, and her lower body returns to being that of a white serpent. Her escape will require haste, no doubt.
And with a CRACK of her tail, like a whip, she is zipping back through the passages that brought her here.
Will the villagers actually kill their god-king and sacrifice him deep inside the temple? Kanami may never know. But by the time she has exited the temple, pushing aside and running over guards and others in her way, the entire world seems to be shaking. The temple is in an uproar, and outside, in the city, is no different.
The ground is shaking.
These people were rather used to minor earthquakes, but the disturbances rocking them now was collapsing buildings, and all of their buildings were made of stone. The heavy stonemasonry collapses and crumbles all around, crushing the revelers and celebrating people, merchants, elite and slaves alike. People run screaming in all directions, many running for themselves, husbands and wives calling for each other and for children, some children frightened, lost, and alone.
As Kanami slithers up a rise near the gates, she is given an expansive view, all the way to the surrounding villages, and judging from the distant smoke rising from them, they were fairing no better. The entire mountain range was shaking!
Just then one end of the mountains LIFTS UPWARDS, hanging in the air like a colossal piece of airborne stonework, and then SLAMS down in so forcefully even from this great distance Kanami can feel it painfully in her bones! Stone fractures and shatters from that distant collision, wiping out all traces of the villages upon that end, revealing the largest patch of scales anyone could possibly imagine. What's more, a great eye appears, and then an impossibly-huge mouth filled with a pair of fangs, that almost seemed as if it were yawning.
These people had been LIVING ON TOP of this enormous snake all these generations, having built their entire civilization upon the 'mountains' of its serpentine form!
Each thrashing move throws the village into an even MORE impossible state of chaos, making moving coherently in any direction a near-impossibility. But finally Kanami is able to use her speed to scramble down the 'mountain', even as it crumbles to reveal the great serpent, 'Terrato the Destroyer'. The shaking doesn't stop here, however, the ground reverberating and shifting with each movement.
Something lashes tightly to Kanami's midsection, slithering up her body. A six-foot, black serpent. Masa winds up around the Nogakujin's body even as the world goes to hell around them. Once the snake-formed actress is in the snake-woman's embrace, the world begins to fade into a haze of gray and dissolve around them. The last thing she would see is the utter destruction of Terrato beginning to burrow into the earth, an entire people wiped out in a handful of movements through nothing more than a snake's waking movements, hurling 'debris' by the metric tons up into the air for miles.
Kanami has experienced a variety of strange things. Feeling the vibration of the land moving in her bones is a new one though. It hurts. She is spurred on in her flight, however, not by fear but by excitement. Her heart is pumping, her eyes are wide, and she has a broad, serpentine smile on her face that exposes her masks's fangs. Her black, forked tongue tastes the air rapidly, trying to help guide her along the correct paths.
Then the entire island begins to crumble and collapse beneath her! She does not fear death. But she wonders what will happen to her next in this adventure. There is no way the Goddess can die, of course. This is HER story. So what lies in wait? Then Masa snares her, and it becomes clear. 'A miraculous rescue,' she muses. 'How convenient!' Then the world fades away and she is somewhere else. Perhaps it lacks originality, but she is not complaining.