Date: December 19, 2010
Residents of the apartments grow upset at news of gold being hidden within the confines of the walls and a great deal of them want a piece of it. However, what they think is gold actually turns out to be more than what they think it is. Itami, along with the help of Hei conduct an investigation, ultimately securing the safety of the residents of the apartments while Hiru tries to cut a bit of a profit from the unknowing gold hunters.
"Sunagakure Gold Rush"
Apparently, there's gold in those there apartments to be found and some people have set out to dig it up. Problem is, the manager of the apartments isn't having it. Property damage isn't something Ms. Nawa wants to pay for. She also wants to cash in on the gold herself. So far, it has been assumed to be gold, but no one knows for sure what it is. They just want to get it. Treasure usually equals money, after all.
Word has floated around about the treasure and it ended up right on Itami's desk. Too many people were claiming it as theirs which prompted her to put a lock down on this whole thing until its settled in regards to who it belongs to. Entering the complex, she clears the way through the small amount of crowd gathered around in the lobby, some of which are arguing about the gold and why its theirs. She has the crowd clear out leaving Ms. Nawa, the apartment manager, which she tells to resume her job. No need in her trying to take advantage of this thing while Itami's investigating.
Among the ranks of the many greedy treasure hunters is Hei. Not that he is a greedy treasure hunter. Rather, he's using the crowd of greedy treasure hunters for his art. A painting of Ms. Nawa surrounded by various hangers-on, mooches, and the much smaller number of people who might actually have a legitimate claim to the gold, or a trenchant commentary on society's greed and lust for undeserved material wealth? You tell me! (But the answer is both.)
Being kicked out of the lobby with the rest of the crowd is more of an inconvenience for Hei than most people, however. For one thing, he has to stop painting, for another, he's going to have to paint his subject from memory now, for a third, he has to pick up all his art supplies to move and awkwardly shuffle his way along with the others to get, carrying a still-wet painting under one arm, the easel under the other and a bag of art supplies… under his third arm? No, there's room under the second.
Hiru has situated his makeshift clothing tent outside of the hotel in order to sell to silly tourists like himself. The hullaballoo only works in his favor, as he can also lure in unsuspecting natives into checking out his wares. He chuckles sinisterly to himself and causes a few of his customers to sidle away from him.
"Alright, so now to get to work…" Itami remarks as she starts to ask Ms. Nawa where the gold is supposedly at. Ms. Nawa replies, "Hey, you! Make sure your paint doesn't get on the floor!" She shouts at Hei. Itami looks back while the woman shuffles over to Hei to try and push him out. She notices Hiru as well and says, "Don't freeload around here! Sell your wares in the market! Like everyone else!" This still didn't answer Itami's question, but it does manage to distract her for a few moments.
"Hei! Greetings!" She states. To Hiru, she says, "Hello. It is nice to see you again." To Ms. Nawa, she contines, "You still need to answer my question. Where is the gold at?" Ms. Nawa frowns, "It's said to be in the basement level somewhere. I was going to get it myself, but other people. Those flies! They came around and made it more difficult." Itami hums. "Err, thank you…"
"Huh?" Hei looks confused, "It's watercolour! They can't— ow!" Hei does not handle attacks very well, even those from angry apartment managers. "Um…! Hi!" he replies to Itami as he gets bump-bump-bumped out of the room. "Hey, this easel is really expensive! Be careful! I'll-I'll make you pay if you break it!" That protest is about the only thing he does to actually defend himself really. Well, he was already on his way out when Ms. Nawa started shoving him, but now he's stumbling rather than making a proper exit, so that's sorta slowing things down…
Itami winces as Ms. Nawa shoves Hei out the door, but she grabs the woman and gently nudges her away from the doorway to stop the assault. "My apologies, Hei." She states. "I came for an investigation, I didn't know you were here. So, I'm sorry if I interrupted your painting. But…" She pauses and looks back to Ms. Nawa as she huffs and snarls somewhat at Hei, "Uh, what did you hear about the gold that was hidden here? Anything in particular? Anything helps. Rumors, lies…truth?" She chuckles.
"Uh, that's okay," Hei says, trying to keep his distance from the now feral Ms. Nawa. "I can do the rest from memory anyway. Got all of the… framework stuff done, so I can just use that as a guide to finish the rest. Plus, it's hard to correct mistakes when you use watercolour, so I was sorta worried about doing it in the middle of the crowd like that anyway." He scratches his chin. "Uh, what have I heard? Uh, well, someone said it was planted under the building by a bunch of bandits who stole it. And someone else said the building was built on an ancient king's tomb, or something like that? And someone else said there it wasn't really gold. Just gilded jewelry."
As an artist (sorta) himself, Hiru doesn't enjoy seeing the hotel manager bully a fellow artisan. He grins in response to Itami's greeting and slinks his way over to Ms. Nawa's side. Hiru smoothly sashays the woman away from Hei, purring conversationally, "Dear Ms. Nawa, I believe I should explain to you all the reasons why it is better for me to sell right here…" As Ms. Nawa struggles against the sashay, Hiru points to a door in the hallway marked for janitors. "This is a closet, right?" As soon as the confused woman finishes nodding, she finds herself dragged into the closet with Hiru. There's a quiet 7 minutes and the purple haired merchant slinks out of the closet without the woman. Smoothing out his clothes, Hiru purrs, "There's a wierd wall in the basement level, but Ms. Nawa hasn't had enough time to properly check it out. She also said that the cook does wrong things to the salad, so it's not a good idea to eat it."
Itami nods softly. "I see. Well, whatever it is, these people are riled up about it and want to get in on it…" She looks at Hiru as he takes Ms. Nawa away into the closet. It was quiet. A little too quiet and when he exits, she frowns. Ms. Nawa didn't come out… "I think I might need a little help with this Hei. Just some assistance. Won't be much. Come on inside." She gestures to him with a arm wave into the apartments.
As for Hiru…"So, a weird wall, huh? Well, that is more information that helps the case here. Not so sure about the salad, though, but I'll keep that in mind." This place isn't really a hotel, so she doesn't think she has to worry about any tainted salad… "With that info, Hei, I ask that you search around in the basement for the weird wall. I think I'll ask around a bit more to gather info about this gold or treasure that's still hidden here." With that, she leaves outside where the people are all sitting around.
Down in the basement, the wall would be hidden, but noticable to someone with training. The walls all look the same except for one that seems a bit different. Unlike the rest of the building, the foundation was made with what appears to be sandstone blocks stacked like bricks. They might be a little heavy, but that's only an illusion. The bricks that cover the hidden treasure have a subtle outline. The bricks that support the rest of the building have a filling to keep them sealed together.
Hei watches as Hiru pulls Ms. Nawa into the closet, then just waits there (the whole seven minutes!) in a bit of a daze. Honestly, this is not the sort of situation Hei usually finds himself in: people yelling at him, strange men pulling the yeller off into closets, strange men revealing the yeller's secrets to everyone… In any case, he's now found himself stuck with the task of investigating the basement. "Can I talk to the people instead…?" he requests, but Itami's already off, leaving the building for the crowd outside. Hoping he isn't about to be murdered by some thug who's heard about the gold or bitten by some venomous desert spider, he accepts his quest with a hard heart and heads down into the basement
Luckily, his artist's eye is able to discern subtle differences in architecture. Of course, that isn't much compared to the fact that he's hardly trained for this sort of thing, and he'd honestly rather just leave, but he does manage to find the strange section of the wall. "Uh, well…" he speaks aloud nervously, talking to nobody but himself, "I guess I'll, uh…" He pushes against the panel, though he only puts some of his weight on it. He's not quite willing to throw himself against this brick wall, especially since it might lead to any number of horrible traps or murder rooms.
Itami, after gathering all that she could about the treasure, she came back with absolutely nothing. "That was a waste…" She sighs. Ms. Nawa was still in the closet and Itami went to go check on her just to see if she was alright. She was…genuinely shocked. Maybe she should call over a medical team…Hm. Turning back outside for a few moments, she shouts, "Someone go and get a medical team, please!?" She inquires. "What about the treasure?" Someone asks. "I'll show you the treasure when it's shoved deep into your rear end. Go and get one now!" She states. Without any further threats, a few people deviate from the crowd to go and retrieve a medical team.
With that, she goes back inside and proceeds into the basement. Down there, she meets with Hei who has just discovered the outline in the wall. "Find anything interesting?" She wonders. The panel on the wall pushes in and causes the bricks to collapse, but without any chance of structural damage. "Hei!" She calls and runs towards the wall. She wonders if he's okay. The dust takes a bit of time to clear, but once it does, it reveals a small carved cavern or cave mouth. It looks deep, but is about 2 to 3 meters before hitting another wall. Inside this place was the treasure that everyone was looking for. Covered by an old wooden hatch, beneath that was an ornamental box that's gone untouched for many years.
Hei is indeed okay, for his scaredy-cat nature has paid off! When the wall starts to give way, Hei immediately throws himself backwards, giving a cry of shock. He lands on the floor, face completely white for a moment, then colour slowly returns to his face as the dust clears and he sees that nothing behind the wall is particularly threatening… for the moment, at least. "I think it's trapped," he tells Itami hastily, "I'll be right behind you."
Hei was almost a blur to Itami considering how fast he managed to get out of there. At least he was alright. "I see. Well, I'll be careful for the both of us, then." Nodding, she proceeds cautiously into the cavern like area of the building. She tries to make sure she doesn't step on anything or trigger any traps, but there don't appear to be any. At the end, when she lifts the hatch, she pulls out an ornamental box decorated beautifully.
"I guess this is the treasure that everyone is seeking." She states to Hei. "Suppose we should take a look inside." She remarks as she begins to flip the latches on the box that lock the lid. Opening the box, it is revealed to be a large silver orb that appears to have an odd glow about it. "I can see why people wanted this so much." She smirks. "This thing does look visually appealing." She continues to observe the orb then shows it to Hei. "What do you think?"
For a moment, Hei is content to simply continue sitting on the basement floor. But he /did/ say he was going to be right behind Itami. So he gets up and creeps over to the cave's entrance, then he creeps into the cave a little ways once Itami is pretty much at the hatch already. He leans forward to look at the box without having to actually move any farther into the cave. "Looks really nice," he comments, still a little nervous, "Not really the kind of art /I'm/ skilled in, but…" He tilts his head a little as Itami shows him the orb. ""Well, that isn't what people wanted though, is it?" he points out, "I mean, everyone came here looking for gold, but that isn't gold." He frowns a little. "Um, is the light hitting it strangely, or is it just my imagination…?"
"It does, doesn't it?" Itami replies to Hei's remark about the orb. "I can't say I'm skilled in this kind of art either, but whoever did it had some great craftsmanship. It's excellent." She compliments. The glow doesn't get past her, but she considere dit to be an interesting part of the art. Although, it did look a little odd. "No one knew exactly what the treasure was. Everyone had something different to say about it. Gold was the most common idea. I think looking at this, they might be a bit disappoitned." She hums and reaches out to gently wave her hand over the orb. When it makes contact with the haze, a small jolt of lightning strikes her hand and she freezes.
No other words would come from her at this time, but there's something wrong with what just happened. She was simply frozen without much movement other than the occasional shake of the hand nearest the orb. It was becoming clear this wasn't any ordinary artifact. This thing was dangerous. While it isn't exactly clear what it has the ability to do, it doesn't look like a good picture seeing a frozen councilwoman. She needed assistance in breaking free. Pulling her away from the orb should do the trick.
With the sudden spark of electricity, Hei jumps a little. "Geez, that scared me. Are you okay, Itami-san?" He pauses and waits for an answer. "Uh, Itami-san?" He scratches his head nervously. "Uh oh. Uh… hold on. I have an idea." There's no way he's going to risk touching that thing himself, but luckily he was practically born to solve this problem. Grabbing a lump of clay from his bag, he slips it into the mouth in his right hand and chews for a couple seconds. Then he holds up his hand and spits the clay out like gum. But, a split second after leaving his mouth, the clay forms into a majestic eagle. Flying skillfully, even in the cramped confines of the basement, it gathers up speed, then rams itself into the orb in an attempt to knock it out of Itami's hand.
Ramming proved to be even more effective as it knocked the orb from her hand and sent it rolling away. She was released from whatever binding that it had on her as reality began to return to her. "What happened?" She inquires to Hei and then looks at the orb once more. It rapidly spins until the odd glow grows brighter, yet the haze remains transparent enough to see the silver surface of the orb.
The orb rose from the ground, hovering over it as it seemed to make a stand still against the two investigators. Without much warning after this, the orb began to direct itself towards Hei to attack him. Whatever it did to Itami appeared to have an effect. It copied one of the jutsu she knew and utilized it against the two of them. Small bullets of fire would should out everywhere from the orb to keep them at bay. Although, it still seemed to have an interest in Hei's abilities. The orb had never come in contact with a Toujitakumi which meant more jutsu opportunities and something more to add to its library.
"Uhhhhhhhh…" Hei can't really explain what happened himself. "Well, it zapped you, and then you were totally frozen, so I—" He is interrupted by the orb lifting itself up from the ground. "L-look out!" he exclaims in a less-than-manly way, and dives for cover… only to realize that there isn't actually anything nearby that can be used for cover. Fortunately, he can make some. Just in the nick of time, he uses his clay jutsu to protect himself with a big statue of a dragon, wings outstretched to shield its owner from harm. Then he's on the attack again. A bat flutters out from behind the statue and hangs down from the roof. Well, it's not quite a bat, really. Same wings, same body, but the head… is not there. Instead, it's just one huge mouth. What could Hei have in mind for this horrible-looking creature?
"Oh, I see. Well, that's—" Itami is cut off when Hei shouts as the orb begins to shoot out flames around the room. He acted fast in regards to taking cover for himself. Itami did the same by raising an earth barrier to defend herself against the fire that was emitting from the orb. When it finished its firey flurry it went on the offensive against Hei, not minding the bat hanging off the ceiling much. It needed to come in contact with him so it could absorb one of his moves and use them. Sadly, the orb is fairly vulnerable in this state, so it hasn't much in the way of defense.
Itami utilizes seals to fire off a few bolts of fire towards the orb, but it's a bit of a difficult target while its in motion. That and she had to watch out for Hei.
The orb hits Hei dead on and… buries itself in his flesh? No, that isn't Hei, it's just more clay. A Hei sculpture made of still-soft clay, to be exact. The real Hei has managed to slip over to the other side of the statue again. Meanwhile, the mouth-bat has already swooped into action, dropping down from the roof and chasing after the orb, mouth open wide. It sweeps past the statue, turns around and… gulp! Seals its lips up against the Hei statue, engulfing the orb. Now it's a Hei/mouth-bat hybrid with an orb inside. But can it contain the orb?
The orb is now secured inside of the statue and seems to be struggling to get out. The statue rocks back and forth, but doesn't seem to be giving way to the orb. "Okay, I think it's safe, now. I'm not sure for how long, but I think it's secure. We'll have to put it back in that box that I took it out of." She states and with that, she decides to make a break for the box. Once she has it in her hands, she takes note of what appears to be old slips of paper that either dry rotted over time or were burned off in some kind of way. Apparently, this wasn't the first time this treasure was sought after.
"This treasure…I think it might be cursed." She states to Hei upon returning. "This box has various pieces of paper still left on it. It looks like they were either burned or decayed over time. I guess this treasure was popular even then if they were so bent to get the prize inside." She sighs. "Well, the prize will have to remain unclaimed. This thing is dangerous." The clay statue begins to rock more violently since the orb wishes to break free. After rocking for one last time, the statue topples over, but the orb is still trapped inside the bat. Though, it doesn't look like it'll be that way for long.
"Guess I don't have time to think on the past. The orb is trying to get free." She states and makes a rush for the bat to try and lock the orb back inside the box it was trapped in.
Hei peaks out from behind the first statue to see if his little ploy has worked, and it appears that it has. Yay! "Oh, they stuck together?" He scratches his head. "Huh. Wasn't really expecting that to happen. I just wanted the bat to eat it." He squeaks and ducks back behind the statue once his clone falls over. A couple of seconds pass. "It… didn't get out, did it?"
"Not yet, but it's trying to." Itami points out the orb as it tries to shake itself free of the bat. "I…kind of wasn't expecting that to happen either, but just so long as it doesn't get away." She states as she lunges forward to trap the bat inside the box. Only problem is now she'll have to flip the lid shut and that requires some quick hands and some assistance. "I think I'm going to need a little help with this Hei." She grunts. "This thing is still trying to escape. I'm going to need you to help me put a lid on this orb. I'm afraid if I move the box from its current position, the orb will have time to get away."
Hei comes out from behind the statue again and hurries over to Itami to help her. He kneels down to the box and grabs the lid. "Uh, okay. Ready? One… two… three!" He slams the lid shut, hopefully trapping the orb in there inside the bat.
Itami, on Hei's count lifted the box enough to close the lid on it and seal the bat inside. "Alright!" She chimed happily. "That's what I'm talking about. Teamwork!" She nods. "Now, the last problem is that I don't think this is the last this orb has to offer. You see these outlines here…" She points them out with a free hand while snapping the latches shut on the lid of the box with the other. "This box requires more than just closing it. It needs to be sealed." She states. "But I'm unsure who it belongs to, still." She shakes her head. "Oh well. thank you for helping me, Hei. I greatly appreciate it." She states and rises up with the box tucked tightly in her arms.
"Ah… sealed?" Hei asks. "You mean that the box needs to be, like, made airtight or something?" He doesn't really see any way to do that down here. "Um, well, you probably know somebody who can do that, right?" He takes a few steps to the stairs back up to the non-scary parts of the building. "'cause I don't really know how to do something like that."
"I could make this thing airtight if I had the ability, but I don't." Itami states as the box thrusts and she jerks with it. "What I mean by sealed is to have the curse controlled. By monks or shrine maidens or…whoever is responsible for that kind of thing." She shrugs and shakes her head. Ms. Nawa still hasn't come out of the closet as they come up the stairs and into the lobby, but there are people waiting for them. A mother and her daughter along with her father. They looked at the box with anticipation…or was it fear? "Can I help you all?" She inquires to them.
The daughter steps forward and bows before Itami and Hei. "I wish to thank you both for subduing the evil spirits in that orb." She states and upon rising she says, "I am Naoki Mitsuru. I am a descendant of a long line of monks and maidens. When we heard news of treasure here, we grew concerned, knowing that it was ours of which they spoke. We did not have the confidence to claim the treasure without exciting people into a fight, so we refrained. Although, our lack of confidence is what allowed the spirits to break free. Thankfully, it has weakened over time after being trapped in the box for so long."
Itami was grateful that she was here, but she really, really wishes she was here earlier to do that instead of have them battle a floating stress ball.
Realizing that he really needs to stop hanging out with ninjas, Hei scratches his head. "Well, uh, just doing our job, ma'am. (Even though it isn't really my job.)" He looks over to the box. "So, uh, you can… you know, take care of it, and all?" he asks Naoki, gesturing towards the box. "It, uh, kinda looks like it's still trying to get out or something…"
Itami lofted a brow at Hei, but focused back on the maiden saying, "Yes, it is trying to get—" She's cut off as the box moves again. "Out." She starts. "Can you do something about this, please?" She inquires and Naoki nodded her head quickly as she ran over and began to pull out a few slips of paper with odd characters on them. As she placed them around the box, the orb tried it's hardest to escape, but Itami kept a tight grip on it. "You'll have to make this quick. This…orb…is….." She closes her arms tighter as the thing tries to fight her. "Well, forget that. Just seal it!" Naoki nods and apologizes as she tries to put the last few strips on the box. From there, she begins her ritual of sealing the box. It might be a little stronger since it managed to absorb a jutsu from Itami, but not much stronger than it started. Hei and her were able to subdue it before it grew to be a serious threat.
Hei steps back from Itami, giving Naoki some room to do her stuff (and also because the orb is scary). "So once it's sealed, then we don't have to worry about it anymore? Like, it's done and we can just find some other place to hide it so nobody else can get it?" On the plus side, it didn't manage to steal his jutsu. He's not really up on ninja topics, but he's pretty sure his clan elders wouldn't be too happy if they heard he let one of the secrets out, even if it was just an orb. And maybe it couldn't use it anyway, seeing as it doesn't have a mouth?
The orb would have found a way or it maybe not. It's not known how much potential it has, but considering how bent it was on attacking Hei, it's safe to say it was pretty confident that it could perform the jutsu he had to offer. While the ritual was going on, the box was becoming noticably less violent as the jerking and shaking softened into tremors until it eventually stopped altogether. "No, you shouldn't have to worry about it anymore after this." Naoki replies as she approaches and takes the box away from Itami. "These seals will last a very long time. I'm not as strong as others, but my seals will last long enough. Thank you both for stopping the spirit." She bows twice to show her appreciation. "We're glad to help. Thank you for serving Sunagakure. That goes for the both of you." She nods to Hei.