Date: May 27, 2015
Takeo has decided to go traveling to seek out what Isobu has directed him to. After recovering, he now begins his journey with Kaido, a former student.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Takeo’s Turtle Quest - The Start of a New Chapter"
Land of Fire
Three months ago, Takeo has been kidnapped by the Recluse. Since then, a lot of things have happened. The former Jinchuuriki was operated heavily on, his chakra network ruined after Isobu's extraction. A new Jinchuuriki has been chosen, the new host of the Three Tails getting used to his new companion after many years alone. War has been declared, and now the Inuzuka, with their Hidden Village, are in an open battle with the Recluse. And Takeo has finally figured out, perhaps, what Isobu meant with his final words: Seek near the water. Turtles.
And now, Takeo was going to go on a journey? The appropriate measures were being taken. Takeo had told Daisuke, and the Hokage didn't mind that he was going. He was free to take companions, provided they were also given permission. Everything was going to go fine…. maybe
It's why Kaido came, SOMEONE is going to have to make sure Takeo doesn't get himself into too much trouble. Or forget who his friends and family are, going on a quest like Ueshima Taro did is hard enough as it is, and a little reminder now and then that there's still a home and family back in Konoha waiting for the man is good. Not that this is a hardship for Kaido, after all, it was Takeo himself who took him under his wing and helped get the harshest restrictions on him after the trial eased and for that alone he'd go on this journey. But Takeo is family, a friend and a teacher and those bonds coupled with Kaido's strong sense of duty and feeling of debt to the man is why he asked the Hokage if he could leave to go with Takeo as well. Permission was granted and so, off they go, satisfying Kaido's need to see the world again after long months of village confinement.
Save for the scar upon his stomach, risen and shaped like his former Jinchuuriki seal, Takeo appears to be more or less as he was prior to the kidnapping. Such a miracle required the long work of the village's top medical shinobi, who managed to salvage his chakra network and mastery of water. Unfortunately, nothing could be done to fill the void left by Isobu's theft. Their friendship, the power the Bijuu gave him to protect Konohagakure, the inner peace, all gone.
Takeo didn't meet with the Three Tails' new host prior to leaving. It was too soon, too raw a pain. He suspected that his lost friend had provided the salve, the means to a new path, and it involved the mysterious message which had repeated in his mind for months. Then, one day, the meaning clicked. That was when he decided that he was leaving on the journey, even amidst a war.
"You don't have to come along, you know," Takeo comments to Kaido, his tone still a touch subdued as it has been since the kidnapping and the trauma which followed. "It's going to be a long trip for a gamble, and they might need you for the battle against the Recluse."
Kaido shrugs as Bandit and Bolt trot along beside him and look at each other and then at Takeo. He then says, "I know I don't have to come along, but truthfully, they don't really need me. This war isn't going to get settled by the time we get back, think about it, they took you, a Jinchuuriki who was pretty much at the peak of his abilities. That takes a lot of planning, manpower and resources. A group that can do that, isn't going to be easily defeated as that."
He takes a breath as he settles his pack on his back a bit as he walks and says, "Truthfully, the rescue mission that I went on showed me just how ill equipped I am to face people who have mastery over seals and things. For all my expertise in strategy and tactics, I'm just not strong enough to face the kind of foes our Alpha is likely to send me up against. That's one of the reasons why I want to go on this journey with you. I want to try new things, outside of the village where it means my life and death rather than in a spar where I either have to hold back, or someone holding back on me. I'm hoping going with you will help me attain that which I lack."
He falls silent as Bandit speaks up, "And Bolt needs a lot of training and experience handling himself outside the village, he's not up to nin-ken standards, at least up to my standards yet." Bolt looks a bit down at that pronouncement but then perks up and yips ~That maybe true! But this'll be an awfully fun adventure won't it!~ With that optimistic pronouncement, the trio continue on.
"It's not the first time I've fought them," Takeo comments in reply. "Actually, the last time I did battle with that bunch, they'd kidnapped the very same Uzumaki who had sealed Isobu within me." Everything about current events and recollections both seems to come back to his Bijuu and the loss. "They're a dangerously powerful lot. I'm not sure of what they planned to do with Isobu, but I suppose it's a good thing they were stopped before anything happened." He 'supposes,' but then, he probably means to say that he wishes he'd been able to reclaim his charge.
Takeo shakes his head slowly at Kaido's self-deprication, but he allows the other Inuzuka to voice the whole of it prior to speaking up. "Nonsense. Those weren't your average shinobi, or even your above average shinobi. The ones who went after me would've given the five Kage trouble if they were just as organized." He lifts a hand without turning, one clawed finger held up. "I've been proud of your progress and how you've realized so much of your potential. Now that I'm no longer Jinchuuriki, it wouldn't surprise me if you surpassed me in battle, Kaido. Think better of yourself and your ninken."
Taking in a deep breath, Takeo turns for the northwest and begins to head in the general direction of the Land of Earth. He's traveled afar so many times, he knows where he's going, though he isn't certain of whether it's the right place or not. Just instinct, interpretation of a mysterious bit of guidance. "We're going to take the most direct route to the water's edge in the Land of Earth. I believe that there, among the craggy shores, we're going to find who I'm supposed to meet. I'm not unhappy to have you along, but I wanted to give you the chance; a long journey's ahead."
Kaido shrugs and says, "Either way, I'm coming with you." He grins, "Besides, I might learn something along the way, now that I've mastered the Shadow Clone technique, I'm thinking of branching out into maybe a summon and possibly Seal Mastery." He considers, "Besides, I need to figure out a way to increase my chakra pool because Shadow Clone takes so much of it to use… although, both Bandit and Bolt have learned it, so we're working on ways we can take advantage of it. Again, that's why I want to go on this journey with you."
He continues to follow Takeo and says, "So what exactly are we looking for anyways? You never did say, all I know is that you were babbling something about turtles while I visited you all that time in the hospital."
The … one, two… three four? would move out of the village and towards the North, adding some westward movement to their path. They would have to follow the river for the first leg of their journey, if they didn't want to get amazingly lost, slowly moving along. Nothing exciting was about. There were no bandits to face. Everything was peaceful enough that they could continue talking for however long they wished.
Bolt perks up and says ~Huge turtles?! Are they good to eat?~ Bandit reaches over with a paw and SMACKS poor Bolt on the back of the head who drops and yelps and whimpers at Bandit who says like the grizzled old veteran nin-ken he is, "No you ninny! He's talking about turtles who if you can get them to agree to a contract you can summon them… don't you ever listen to what I tell you?" Bandit snorts and shakes himself and mutters, "Stupid nin-pups today, no sense at all." Bolt pads a bit behind Bandit and says meekly and whimpers, ~I'm sorry?"
Kaido raises an eyebrow and simply says, "I think the kind of turtles Sensei is talking about would be a BIT too big to eat." He chuckles and pats Bolt on the head, "Don't worry about it, we'll get you up to speed with us by the end of this journey. It's why I'm glad I'm no longer under restrictions and I'm no longer demoted, you more than anything need experience. We've taught you a lot from books, but books can't show you the type of stuff you need to know."
Bandit snorts and says, "Yeah right, like I was ever that dumb…" Kaido raises an eyebrow and says, "I beg to differ, I seem to recall a certain incident when you were Bolt's age having to do with the Academy headmaster and thinking he was the Hok…" Bandit says, "Ok! Enough, you've made your point!" Bolt perks up and says, ~What? What? Tell? Tell?~ Bandit just gives Bolt a look that makes the pup cringe back again.
Kaido turns to Takeo and says, "So you're going to try and make a contract with them huh? It'll be interesting to meet them and talk to them at least… If /I'm/ going to make a summon contract, it'll probably be something closer to my personality, like a raccoon or ferret or something." Bolt speaks up, ~Ferret tastes really good, but raccoon's are too tough to eat!~ Bandit just hangs his head and mutters, "Oh boy…"
Takeo's actually prompted to grin just a bit at the question of the turtles' culinary potential, showing his fangs. "I don't think you'd want to try, Bolt," he says. "These turtles are about the size of a small house. They can use ninjutsu, taijutsu, who knows what else. I've actually never met a member of a summon clan, that I can recall. Just a lot of tales."
"I'm a little biased in favor of turtles, for obvious reasons. Isobu really wanted me to go to them, too, even though you barely hear about this clan." Takeo shakes his head and furrows his brow, obviously still a little perplexed on that point. "I do plan to ask one of them to sign a summoning contract with me, yes. There'll be a lot of training to do once that's finished. I just get the feeling there was more to it than that, by the way Isobu said it. Guess I'll find out, right?"
As the pair bicker behind him, he smirks. "My parents abandoned me when I became Jinchuuriki, so the elders put me under the Hokage's tutelage. I started calling him father. Still do, sometimes. On the one hand, it seems to write him off. On the other, he's yet to roast me, so maybe he likes it deep down."
Takeo traces a path in the air with his index finger, its clawed tip following a straight trail. "We should be able to cut right across the Land of Earth and to the shore. I've been there before. Granted, I didn't see any turtles, but I wasn't looking. We'll pass through all sorts of places on the way, though, so maybe you'll figure out the kind of summon clan you want to seek out."
Kaido reaches into his pack and pulls out an extremely detailed and well-drawn map, hand drawn in fact. It seems that on top of Kaido being a skilled strategist and tactician, he's also a extremely skilled cartographer. Kaido checks the route that Takeo wants to take and says, "Oh hey, looks like there's a couple small villages along the way we can stop, there's also plenty of shortcuts we can take too if you want to make it go a bit faster. He pulls the plastic over the map and grabs a crayon from his pouch and showing Takeo, circles the villages and the shortcuts and draws a line through them to the shore.
Bandit is ahead with Bolt and barks at the pup, "Bolt! You need to get with the program! You're not going to be a pup for much longer, so start acting like a nin-ken and not a nincompoop!" Bolt looks at Bandit and tilts his head and look puzzled and says, ~Nin-ken poop? Are you constipated Seifu?~ Bandit nearly goes apopletic with fury and shouts, "No you MORON! Nincompoop! Not nin-KEN poop! I mean… ARRRRRRRRRGH!!!!!" Bandit growls and chases Bolt who yips laughter as with his greater speed (matching his name) sends Bandit on a fruitless tail chase. It's a fun game for the pup as the group walks the long trek through the Land of Fire and into the Land of Earth towards the shore.
Takeo travels more by memory than by map, but he does slow his pace so that he can have a look at Kaido's work. As he does, he smiles. "Let him be a pup while he can," he advises Kaido. "So long as he's learning to work with you, that's enough for now. I've come to realize that it's important to value your happiness while you have it." In examining the map, he taps a claw upon the nearest village circled.
"We'll stop off here for a night," the Tokubetsu decides. "I'd imagine if we resupply there, we'll have plenty enough to get us to the shores in the Land of Earth. I'll have no trouble drawing a meal out of the water there. They might have a ryokan with a nice hot spring, too." Some things never change. Whenever Takeo travels, if there's a ryokan, he has to stay there. Must be among his favorite things to do, even in his most grim hour.
"I don't know what dangers we're going to face along the way, though, so don't let your guard down too much. This is pretty much placid territory right now, and the Recluse have no more reason to come after me …" A meaningful pause. "Still. Could be random bandits or who knows what else out here, particularly as we get further away from civilization and closer to the rocky part of the shores."
Kaido nods and puts the map away and watches his nin-ken a bit indulgently, "Yeah, I know what you mean, Bandit and I never had a real childhood thanks to the Clan Wars, so maybe I think Bandit envies Bolt a little for being able to act like a pup." He puts his hands behind his head and says, "Kind of wish all the wars would stop so that we could retire, or at least stop needing to fight, be nice to go back to being trackers and scouts again."
By this time, Bandit and Bolt have tired themselves out chasing each other and are barely able to keep up with the two. Kaido slows down a bit and says, "That'll serve you two right for fighting…" Bandit just looks up and curls his lip at Kaido and Bolt just pants and looks particularily forlorn and Kaido just chuckles, "Silly nin-ken, what am I going to do with you two…" He smiles at them affectionately and scritches them both behind their ears and feeds them some trail rations to bring up their energy a bit.
"I know the feeling." Takeo looks up at the sky for a moment, thoughtful. "I used to be a normal Inuzuka when I was younger, and I even had a ninken. When everything fell apart after the binding, I thought it was a curse. Turns out that I hadn't really realized how much that relationship changed me for the better in the end." He lowers his head and smiles at Kaido. "For your sake, I do hope the wars end and you can retire. If anyone can lead the way, it's Taiki-niisan. I'm on the elder council, sure, but he's the one who can shake villages when he's worded off."
Finally, the question does come out, albeit somewhat reluctantly. "Have you met Isobu's new host? Do they seem fairly sharp? I wasn't exactly prepared …" Again, he parts his hands. "It's just that, at the time, they needed a host and I was the only match in the entire village. Strange how the last resort managed to bond so well with the Bijuu. I want him to be taken care of, treated well."
Kaido quirks a smile at Taiki being able to shake villages and says, "That's why he needs people like Old Man and you on the Council with him, he's barely sane when he gets worded off." He whistles, "When you were captured, even /I/ got scared of him, more scared than when he was judging me at my trial… I really was worried he'd do something stupid and get himself killed." He shakes his head, "Hopefully he'll settle down and raise a family soon, maybe it'll calm him down a bit and keep him from being Mr. Zero to Rage Machine in 60 seconds."
When Takeo brings up Isobu's new host, Kaido turns thoughtful and says, "Actually, no, I haven't, I'm not even sure who it is. It's not like the Hokage, Taiki and the Old Man would tell me." He shrugs, "I'm sure he's fine, I mean, heck, he managed to bond with you after all and you're about as cuddly as a porcupine." He grins fangly at Takeo and slaps him on the shoulder, "So stop worrying, Isobu will be fine, focus on yourself for a change, just because he's gone doesn't mean you're nothing. Heck, since you're not a Jinchuukuri, why not adopt a nin-ken again, since even if you get your Turtle Clan summon he's not going to want to always hang around, a nin-ken might help fill more of the void."
Takeo furrows his brow as he looks up at the sky, more in an annoyed fashion than anything else. "I know. He did the same thing when he found out the clan was turning its back on me. I love him like a brother, and the feeling's obviously mutual, but he can't go around berserk every time something happens to me. Knowing me, he's probably back in Konoha blaming himself for not saving the bond." The annoye expression fades, replaced by a frown. "I should've spoken with him before I left. Well, there's always when we return, and maybe he'll feel better if I come back with the answers I'd sought."
Lifting a hand with his finger outstretched and chin held high, Takeo retorts, "I'll have you know that many people find me too affectionate. I like to hug, for example." Dreadful, positively dreadful. As to the suggestion, Takeo shakes his head. "I can't. Even though Isobu's gone, I'm still … not Inuzuka. Not like you and the others are. Maybe, through the Turtle Clan, I'll learn a new way of doing things. Perhaps that's what Isobu wanted."
And suddenly, with not much warning, two bandits decide to swoop in and try to rob Takeo and Kaido. Perhaps they aren't that smart. Or maybe they thought they stood a chance with the element of surprise. Regardless of what they thought, they attack, swords at the ready as they try and chop both Inuzuka in half. Never mind about the nin-ken over there that seem a bit tired… Just go for the humans! Those are the ones that are the threat! … right?
Kaido snorts himself and says, "Oh for <censored>s sake, that's complete <male cow excrement> and you know it. You're as Inuzuka as I am…" Kaido was about to continue on that vein before Bandit sniffs the air and calls out a warning a half-second before Bolt growls and yips, "We've got incoming!" Kaido senses sharpen and he jumps quickly out of the way before they can slash him and Kaido smirks at Takeo, "You were saying?" Before he yanks out his chakram and gathering his chakra, specifically wind elemental chakra, he infuses his chakram with them and they spin faster than can possibly be seen as he launches them, intentionally missing the bandits, but using his control of the wind elemental chakra attached to it, he boomerangs them straight at their backs.
Takeo sees the attack coming before it can reach him, the glint of light against the metal of the blades. He apparently still has his very unusual level of control over water, for it takes but one hand sign to wrench it from the air and form ribbons whirling about his body. They turn the strikes aside before dissipating, drawn together so as to rest upon the young man's palm.
When Takeo extends the same hand toward them, the water explodes forcefully ahead, much like a shotgun blast directed upon the pair. If they aren't already dead or out, this is when he takes his clawed hand back to address them both on a more reasoned level. "I take it you two are in need of money," he says. "If you're hurting like subtitle right now, and you see you're outnumbered two to one, take a minute to think this through. Is what we're carrying worth your lives, or could you be doing something better with them?"
Hooking his thumb over his shouler, Takeo says to the pair, "There's real work to be had in Konohagakure. A war against people who wouldn't hesitate to slice you into little pieces, unlike myself. They'd pay you and feed you in return for your blades, with no need to lower yourself to this banditry text."
Well, that plan didn't come to fruition! While both men duck at the incoming chakram, there's a giant blast of water that comes at them! "Prosaic #@$&!!" *blurgl blargl* When they recover from the tide of water that had come at them, after a lot of sputtering and gasping for air, they glower a bit at Takeo. "If they're all gonna treat us like that, then /no thank you!/" Yeah, it's not like they didn't just try to attack Takeo and Kaido and the others… Nope! They're completely clean!
The two spring up to their feet, eyes narrowing. "Just give us some money and we'll be on our way," they request, a bit more reasonable now that they know these two could probably kick their butts.
Kaido catches his chakram and raises an eyebrow at Takeo as he gives the bandits an opportunity and when they decline he shakes his head. Both Bandit and Bolt are ready to give the bandits a good thrashing and Kaido sighs. He finally says, "Bolt! Bandit! SIC 'EM!!!" The pair look at each other and grin before they leap attempting to chomp them at the wrist to make them drop their swords as Kaido pulls out a small bag of silver powder and mutters to Takeo, "Close your eyes and don't breathe for 5 seconds…" With that, he tosses it into the bandits faces while they're distracted with his nin-ken. Bandit and Bolt are smart enough to already know what's coming.
"It never ceases to amaze me. They throw their lives away for the money of two men, when they coul have steady, honorable work with the village. It's always the same." Takeo doesn't want to kill them. They're probably just desperate idiots who've never had the opportunity to learn any better. When it comes down to it, though, they're the ones swinging the swords and he can no longer afford to be so casual about taking injuries.
As the ninken rush in to attack, Takeo makes another hand sign. Mist explodes around the bandits, and the chakra laced through it is blinding even to supernaturally perceptive eyes. It just all looks like the same chakra, no defined people within. That should give the dogs fine cover to do their thing, with their noses as guides. "I'm still willing to let you go and find honest work, you know. Assuming the ninken do, anyway."
He doesn't know what was in that vapor Kaido just sent at them, but that could pose an issue for the pair, as well. His mercy extends only so far, and it ends by lack of choice with failure to cooperate.
The men blink as the poison bomb explodes, not far away enough to avoid inhaling the mist. They end up completely paralyzed in a very painful way. So much so that they can barely react to the mists and Takeo's offer to release them. Instead of speaking, they just yell out from the pain of the poison. Or they would, if they could. The tension in their muscles was so great that it prevented them from speaking.
Kaido sighs and moves over to them and goes to one knee before them and says, "That poison'll kill you in about oh, 2 or 3 minutes… I'm not quite sure exactly…" He pulls out his infamous notebook and a stopwatch and says, "I could get really good data from seeing exactly how long you'll last before you finally expire, in agony." He watches their muscles and writes a few notes down, taking his time, "Hmm, the poison is especially effective on your kind of metabolism, good… good."
He gives the pair just long enough to think that they are going to die and says, "Well Takeo… I think they learned their lesson don't you… should I give them the antidote and let them go, or should we just wait until it's over?" He raises an eyebrow as he reaches into a secret pocket of his vest and pulls out a couple of epi pens.
Bandit and Bolt just stand by, watching the bandits, not exactly caring one way or another if they die.
Takeo crosses his arms as he looks over at Kaido, considering his question. "I'm a Tokubetsu Jounin. Teaching's supposed to be my responsibility," he says, neatly setting aside that he teaches water jutsu. "So, I guess I'll make this a lesson for you. You'll decide whether to give them the antidote or not, and then you'll explain why you made the choice."
He figures he has just enough time to play around and teach the lesson, given the time dictated by Kaido. Failing that, hopefully the stuff's made of water and still gaseous enough to be pulled from their throats. Otherwise, things are about to get very unpleasant.
Kaido raises an eyebrow and turns and looks back at the bandits and says, "And there you go, your lives are in my hand… I can end them… or save them at my whim." His smile turns evil a bit and says, "What a conuumdrum…" He stands and paces a bit, "Which would serve the greater good, such an ethical question.."
He stops and taps his chin, "You know, I really can't decide, on one hand if I save them, they may end up killing and stealing from innocent people. They've already shown they aren't willing to give up when they know they're outclassed." He paces again, "But then again, they aren't a threat at the moment so does that not then require me to save them? Such a hard question." He moves to sit beside the two bandits and says, "I'll tell you what… I'll leave the antidote in your hands, all you have to do is simply plunge it into you anywhere you can reach and the syringe is designed to inject you automatically. That way, it's up to you to decide whether you want to live or not… to see if you have the strength of will to fight and overcome your own sins and reach redemption."
He then nods to himself and says, "That's what I'll do…" He puts one of the antidotes in each of their hands and moves their hand with it close to their body and says, "I leave it up to fate and to your will to live." He stands up and brushes himself off and says to Takeo, "Shall we go Sensei? We're going to be late reaching the village thanks to this little distraction." He turns and whistles for Bandit and Bolt, "We're moving out Bandit, Bolt!"
Takeo doesn't interfere with Kaido's choice. To do so would shame the young man when he was supposedly handed the decision as to whether the pair would live or die. As the other Inuzuka calls his ninken back and starts along for the village, he drops his arms from their crossed position and follows in step.
"No need to call me sensei. I don't actually teach combat ethics," Takeo says with a smirk. "Still, there was no right answer to the opportunity I gave you. You were right that sparing them could mean they'd go on to rob or kill others. You were also right that proving their inability to kill us might obligate you to save their lives. In the end, you chose to give them the antidote but make them struggle to administer it, not knowing with absolute certainty whether they'd be able to."
He thinks on this as they advance along their way toward the village, mindfully glancing over his shoulder once to make sure the pair aren't in pursuit. "It's not easy, deciding what'll serve the greater good. Your choice to make them struggle for their lives, the antidote only inches away from injection, could lead to a grudge against Konohagakure later on. They might focus in on our viillage for targets. On the other hand, your choice to give them a chance at survival rather than just killing them could help them to see the errors of their ways. Death has a way of doing that, believe me."
Takeo tilts his right hand from side to side. "Cause and effect. You can always create the cause, but you can never quite determine the effect until it happens. You just have to go with your gut and your observations. After that, the two points just sort of flow into each other, rather like water."
The two bandits eye Kaido as they await his decision. The poison's paralyzing effects were still there, but they were growing weaker. Weak enough to move. Weak enough that they could stab themselves with the antidote. But … should they? The two shinobi they just faced were right, in some ways, about many things… They didn't have much to live for. They just wanted to make a quick buck. "Tch…" One mutters, thinking. The other doesn't hesitate, though, immediately stabbing himself with the antidote that was offered.
Kaido listens to Takeo as Bandit and Bolt trot along in front of them and then he says, "Well, the only alternative was to simply put them out of their misery. I believe in second chances, but I also believe in making people EARN their second chance. If they focus on Konoha for this, then so be it, but I think either way, it's a valuable lesson to them." He considers, "If they do choose to continue to be bandits, then they do so knowing that likely as not they'll be killed. Most shinobi wouldn't be so generous and let them live. And if not, well, then we've just helped to rehabilitate two lost souls. To me you'll always be Sensei, because you took me under your wing and taught me a lot, deal with it."
Bandit speaks up then and says, "Personally, I'd have finished them off, you should never leave a live enemy behind you, that's always bad strategy." Bolt blinks and yips, ~But that's not right… they weren't a threat anymore, that's murder!~ Bandit snorts and says, "Yeah, like what they were going to do to us if we didn't do what they wanted?" Bolt looks down and says, ~I'm just a nin-pup, but I don't think it's right to kill someone who can't defend themselves, no matter what the situation is… that makes us no better than them.~ Bandit just snorts, but Kaido smiles and moves to hug Bolt, "That's very true Bolt, and good for you to speak up like that for what you believe in. There's nothing wrong with that, as a rule, we shinobi don't kill someone who can't defend themselves unless absolutely necessary and there's no other option. Some people you just can't leave alive, but that's always on a case-by-case basis." Bolt gives a doggie grin then and wags his tail vigorously.
"I considered that line of thinking for a minute." Takeo clarifies, "When the Recluse were about to kidnap me. It occurred that I could just stab myself in the heart with my kunai, release Isobu, and let him wipe them all out. That's one cause with many, many potential effects. It would've destroyed the Recluse trying to take me and safely extract him, but what then?" Sighing lightly, he says, "Don't ever grow eager to give death greater weight than life on the scales, Kaido. True, there are times when killing is the best option, but do you really think those two had a chance against us? If there's even a pinpoint of hope, I like to give people an opportunity to change as I once changed. It's the same reason I took so many under my wing and gave them the second chances I was never offered."
Rolling his shoulders back into a long stretch, Takeo says, "The village ought to be coming up soon, I'd say. We've been going on for quite a while. I hope the ryokan's good and the spring's hot. I'll treat you to a room, to drinks, and to the soak." He comments to Kaido as an aside, "I don't spend much of my pay at all, so don't worry about it. Comes in handy for trips like these, and it might be our last chance to relax."
"Change must be a good thing," Takeo thinks to add in a comment to himself, "because here I am, back at it again."
As the two continue on, they would eventually find a village in their path, as Kaido had pointed out earlier. They would get to rest and relax for the time being, but there was really not much else to do. This was only the beginning of their journey, after all. The sun would rise and set on many days to come as they traveled, making their way slowly to the northern shores of the continent they lived on.