Taking the High Road


Hige, Tsuna, Shugo

Date: January 19, 2016


A case of missing merchants sends Team Konoha's Fang off on a mission that might give the five of them more than they bargained for if they're not careful!

Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.

"Taking the High Road"

The Land of Fire

Messages went out early in the morning to Hige's team to meet him at the gates of the Village. They had a mission and they would need some haste to complete it in a timely manner. The weather was fair enough despite the season, overcast but no rain or snow and a bit of additional warmth thanks to the layer above. Hige and Konsho are waiting at the gates dressed for travel which is to say nothing different than normal. Hige doesn't even wear a cloak, but he's never minded the cold so much. Konsho is chasing a moth around, playfully nipping at it and likely giving the creature a heart attack. But he's having fun!

Tsuna and Onyx arrive at the gate on time and dressed for an adventure. The younger Inuzuka has his backpack with him and the little pup seems happy to be there, too. "Hi, Hige and Konsho." Onyx also barks a greeting and then runs over to Konsho and licks him on the leg…cause he's too short to reach his face, although the pup is indeed growing. He's twice as big as he was before. Tsuna is wearing a bigger coat to protect himself from the cold, and Onyx..well..he's got fur.

Shugo would arrive in due time as always, which was code for a few minutes late with a yawn if you spoke Nara. The trick to it however, was that Shugo was up for a while and living with Hige mead it hard to claim he was actually asleep and not doing something that was probably far more lazy than it needed to be. Still, Shugo arrived wearing his baggy pants and his haori draped over his upper body with the addition of a scarf wrapped around his neck. Scratching at his hair, Shugo made sure his scarf was low enough on his neck that it didn't successfully cover the few bruises the Nara had on him. Still, that scarf kept the cold out which was its true purpose while Shugo's hands were wrapped in goves that had a fur lining to keep the chill from his fingers. "Hello, hello…Been a bit, Tsuna; how have you been?" Shugo asked while pulling free some of those beefy treats from his pouch and holding them down for Konsho and Onyx to enjoy at their leisure.

Konsho yipped a "Hello" as each person arrived, leaning his fat head down to lick Onyx on top of his head in return greeting. Hige just nods to each as they arrive, grinning faintly at the group as they greet not only him but each other. After a few moments he waves his hand to draw them all closer, which brings Konsho in as well. "Alright guys, we have a trade caravan that has gone silent. We're to locate the caravan and get it back on track. They suspect there may have been some hold up with all the weather but are sending a team just to be sure. Questions?"

Tsuna turns to high-five Shugo. "Hi, Shugo-san. We've been well. Been training hard and we developed a new technique." He grins, showing fangs. "I think you'll like it." As Tsuna listens to Hige speak about the mission, he shakes his head slightly. "No questions, Sensei. Seems like a typical search and possible rescue job. Onyx and I are born for this kind of thing." Unlike how he's been over the past few weeks. He seems to have pulled himself out of the slight depression that he was in and actually seems a bit more confident. "I'm ready to go when you are."

Shugo returned that high five with a chuckle and a whistle at the good news while looking Tsuna over to see if the Inuzuka was banged up from practicing it or not. "Yeah? I'm looking forward to seeing it in action whenever we get sent onto a dangerous mission." Shugo tilted his head a bit at the mission.. all in all it sounded pretty basic and… to be honest he was surprised Hige hadn't eaten the poor merchants alive for having him appointed the mission long before Shugo himself arrived for the job. Still, a job's a job and an easy job in the cold was a nice job to have. Shugo wouldn't have anything to ask and shook his head, his ponytail barely moving an inch behind his head from how thick those brown locks were… perhaps it would sag in the rain but the snow only succeeded in making it look like some kind of dirt mountain standing behind the Nara's head.

"Alright then," Hige says, a nod given when neither of them have any questions. "Let's get to it." He turns then and takes to the treetops immediately, not moving along the path that leads out of the village exactly but on a more direct route through the forest. He keeps the speed a decent pace but ensures he isn't wearing his team down while they went. "We know where they were traveling so we'll head to the halfway point and see what we can find there. Stay alert. Tsuna, Onyx, I'm going to rely on you to help find their scent."

Tsuna salutes Hige. "Yes, sir." Onyx also barks an affirmative as the two of them take to the trees right behind Hige. Tsuna sniffs the air as he follows along, having Onyx do the same. Their nose wasn't as strong as Hige and Konsho, but if he said that he would be counting on them, then the young Inuzuka duo would not disappoint their sensei. Tsuna glances behind him to make sure that Shugo was following along.

Shugo followed along with the Inuzuka pack, which was what they were beginning to look like as the four of them charged through the forest in a unique manner for dogs to do. The Nara wasn't about to let them leave him in the dust however, kicking off of the branches firmly to propel himself forward so that he could keep up with them. Still, with their sharp noses and ears searching about, Shugo didn't put too much work into scanning the area or being on high alert. The Nara did however form his hand seals to begin shifting the nature of his chakra comfortably back to the shadowy state that lurked beneath his feet.

After about an hour of traveling at speed they would reach the location that Hige wanted and he dropped from the trees to land in the middle of the empty road. Konsho had, of course, brought up the rear as always to watch their backs. Hands sinking into his pockets, Hige glances around the empty road before he glances back to Tsuna and Onyx. "Got anything?"
The road was fairly well traveled though the lack of anyone in the area at this point wasn't out of the ordinary. The freshest of the scents contained various scents of people as well as food items, mostly dried meat from the smell of things. That scent would lead on a little more towards Konoha before it suddenly branches off the road and goes into the forest. It would be fairly easy to see the wagon wheel tracks going off in that direction as well once the scent was followed to that point. Even for a Shugo.

Dropping out of the trees, the Inuzuka duo immediately began to work over the area. Tsuna drops to all fours as he wanders around, trying to pick up a scent of anything. He starts on one end and Onyx starts on the other and eventually they meet in the middle. "Not yet, Sensei. Give us a bit more time?" He asks as they continue to search.

Shugo stayed in the trees where he was given a better vantage point to scan the area quietly and leave the scent tracking up to those with noses meant for such work. Squinting against the wintery conditions, Shugo would soon enough catch sight of the tracks and then crouch down on the branch he stood upon to call down to Tsuna and Hige. "North-east and do the left side of the road, Tsuna. Start searching in that area." Shugo would call down to the younger duo of the pack before kicking off from the trees to land in the branches across the road where he could begin moving closer toward those tracks and start to follow what he found within reason. The Nara knew better than to go looking too far for more tracks before his team was close by.

Hige nods in understanding to Tsuna. "Focus a little extra chakra to your nose. Just a little. Too much and you'll overload your senses. Same for you Onyx. It'll help increase your ability to smell things." Of course having your teammate help you is an equally equitable option. Hige glances over to where Shugo was calling, then looked back to Tsuna and nodded again so that he could head in that direction.

Tsuna nods to both Hige and Shugo. He looks over at Onyx. "Just a little chakra to the nose. We can handle that, right?" Onyx again barks an affirmative as they go to the north-east and the left side of the road as Shugo suggested. Tsuna takes his time, closing his eyes for a moment to regulate his chakra flow. It was harder than Hige made it sound, but he does give it his best shot.

Shugo was having a hard time following the tracks from the branches and so, he dropped down to the ground away from the tracks by a few paces so he could walk toward them and get a better look at what he was dealing with. The Nara wasn't an expert at tracking and mostly, would leave that up to the Inuzuka closing in on the asrea while Shugo himself simply tried not to contaminate the area with too much of his own scent as he examined what he could see. "I'm guessing this isn't exactly their normal route."

Hige moves over towards Shugo to see what he'd found before shaking his head slowly. "No, they stay on the road because it's the most open and protected area in general. And even if they were taking a shortcut, this is going the complete wrong direction." Hige crouches to look over the tracks, feral eyes flicking to follow from where they'd come to where they went. "Tsuna, Onyx, over here. See if you can pick up the trail."

Tsuna calls out to Hige. "Hai." And the duo move over to where he is. Tsuna takes the time to really lean down and get a nose full. He even licks the ground a little to see if he can get a taste of the smell, since the nose and mouth are connected. "I think maybe I got something, but it's kind of faint." He says after a moment.

Shugo would move in closer once Tsuna mentioned having gotten something of a scent. There was a bit of a smile on Shugo's face as he watched Tsuna doing his work and took a few steps back to stand behind the Inuzuka while he sniffed out the trail. The Nara himself would take to examining the treeline and road for any signs of what might have been in the area to drive the caravan from its normal route.

Hige nods slightly when Tsuna thinks he has something of the trail. "Alright, let's follow it then you two. Don't forget that just because we have a trail to follow that we shouldn't be aware of our surroundings as well." With those words of relative wisdom Hige lets Tsuna and Onyx lead the way and Shugo to follow behind him while he and Konsho follow last.
A ways into the forest, if the trail is followed, they will eventually track down the caravan. Three wagons all without horses any longer. There are other scents as well. People. A number of them coming from inside the covered wagons.

Tsuna and Onyx follow the scent trail until they come upon the caravan. They stop several feet away while trying not to give away their position. Tsuna looks up at Hige. "Sensei, I can smell a lot of people coming from inside the covered wagons. I'm not sure how many people are supposed to be with this, but I'm smelling more than one person.." Onyx chuffs almost silently and Tsuna nods. "Onyx says that he thinks there's more going on here than what we can see. I tend to agree with him. What's our next move?" He asks looking between Shugo and Hige.

Shugo walked with his eyes watching the sides of their little pack as they moved along the trail behind Tsuna. He wasn't as good as sniffing out issues but the best he could do was provide support for Tsuna and Hige in seeking out any hiding enemies with his eyes to ease the burden on those noses of the Inuzuka. Perhaps the Nara would see if he could get himself one of the pups they raised so he could have a little sniffer helping him out at times like these.

Hige and Konsho exchange a glance, a glance that seems to convey a whole conversation before Hige nods his agreement with Tsuna. "Yeah, something here isn't right. There were a number of merchants guessing by the size of the caravan. You three stay back here while Konsho and I go to check ahead." He glances from Shugo to Tsuna and then finally Onyx to make sure they understand before moving up through the trees from hiding spot to hiding spot as quietly as they can.

Tsuna and Onyx hang back like Hige asked them to. Both of them stay close to a tree just in case something happens. Tsuna keeps his nose pointed in the air along with Onyx to make sure that nothing is sneaking up on them.

Shugo stayed in place as directed and after a moment, formed hand seals to begin letting his shadows wrap around himself so he was less noticeable than usual. It might be a bit unnecessary but it was the best that Shugo could do while trying to keep Hige in his sights as well as Tsuna and Onyx.

For a few long moments nothing happens as Hige seems to vanish from sight. But then he reappears and motions the other three forward. "Come on guys, help me get these people untied." And with that he goes back inside one of the wagons. When the others arrive they'll see that there are indeed a number of people tied up. By the looks of their clothing they would be the merchant, though any jewelry is gone as well as all the foodstuffs that was in the wagon. Only the scent remains.
"It was those villagers from the other day!" One of the merchants says when Hige ungags him before he cuts the ropes loose. "They wanted us to leave our supplies there for free instead of delivering them to Konoha. Of course I told them no way, but then they attacked us. Tied us up and took everything!"

Tsuna moves out when Hige says that it was okay. He begins to help untie people as Onyx also helps by chewing on the ropes to help. Tsuna also noticed that anything of value seems to have been taken. Looks like they didn't get here in time, but at least the people are still alive.

Shugo closed in as directed and peered into the wagon with a bit of interest on his face, a smile pulling at the corners of his lips as the contents of the wagon weren't corpses this time. Small victories and all that. Everything was gone aside from the clothes on their backs, and that included the jewels off their fingers and necks… quite the greedy villagers it seemed. "It not normal for villagers to make such demands of travelling merchants… did you notice anything out of sorts about them?" Shugo would question while reaching out with a kunai to help free the people bound within that wagon.

Hige and Konsho work to free some of the others though the teen pauses a moment to glance back at Tsuna. "Tsuna, Onyx, see if you can find the trail of these villagers. See if you can find which way they went and how many there were."
"Some of them seemed a little hungry and one said that they'd had a bad harvest, so they didn't have enough food for the winter. Not our fault they didn't plan ahead." The merchant is quite perturbed by this. "And for them to attack us on the road, a full on ambush. It was absurd!" The man rubs his wrists to get the feeling back as he speaks. "I hope they all die horrible deaths for this."

Tsuna comments, "It may have been an inconvenience, but people do drastic things when they're hungry." He nods to Hige and he moves to carry out his request. "That's still no excuse though." He and Onyx begin sniffing around while looking for a scent and probably freaking the merchants out at the same time, cause they're sniffing on them, too. Especially if they were touched by the villagers.

Shugo would finish freeing the few that were nearest to him when he joined in and help rubbing the feeling into their wrists with a steady circular stroking to help the circulation return without too much pressure or repeated rubbing where the ropes had been tied. "No need to hope death on the hungry even when they've attacked. It may have been out of desperation." Shugo explained to the merchant calmly while he repocketed his kunai and smiled once more. "That isn't to say they won't be punished when we find them. Did you notice anything particularly special about any one of the group that attacked you?" The Nara questioned to try gathering more information.

Some of the merchants are a little freaked out by the boy that sniffs at them and one even tries to push Tsuna away. A look from Hige calms the merchant down though as they likely would prefer Tsuna rather than the annoyed looking teen to do whatever they were going to do. "Shugo's right. People will do crazy things when they're starving, especially if they have family. The fact that they left you alive is something you should truly be grateful for."
Luckily the trail is rather apparent thanks to the fact it hasn't been too long that the attack happened and the villagers came and went with their own carts and wagons. All of it leaves it's own tracks and the scent of unwashed villagers isn't exactly weak. "They were led by the son of the village Elder, that's all I know! I'd recognize that shady boy anywhere. They all had pitchforks and such and threatened to burn our wagons if we fought back."

Tsuna had to calm Onyx down when the one merchant shoved him away. The pup might tease him a lot, but he was fiercely loyal when someone that wasn't him put their hands on Tsuna. The Inuzuka waves his hand towards the pup to let him know things were okay, and after a few minutes, Tsuna says, "We got it, Sensei. The trail leads off towards this way." He points at a path that leads through the forest. "The scent is strong, they're not that far ahead of us."

Shugo stroked his jaw gently as he thought on jthe matter of why the son of the elder would be leading it and not the elder or a guard working under him. After a moment, Shugo would lean toward Hige to whisper to him in a tone loud enough that Tsuna also could hear his speculations. "I think the elder might not know what it is that his son is doing. We should be careful about what we say when we persue this."

"You can stay here or go back to the road and continue to Konoha," Hige tells the merchants after he's released the last one. "Don't go back to the village. You'll only cause more trouble." When Tsuna makes his report Hige nods. "Come on, let's follow it. Tsuna, Onyx, you have point." He's not very pleased with this revelation so far. He and Konsho prepare to follow Tsuna and Onyx only giving a nod to Shugo in understanding. "We'll find out."
The merchants are grumbling but the one that's been doing the most talking starts to lead the rest towards the road that leads back to Konoha.

Now that they've got the scent, Tsuna and Onyx take back to the trees and continue to follow it while leaping from branch to branch. He looks over at Shugo. "I have mixed feelings. I know it was wrong for them to rob the merchants, but maybe they were just so desperate that they felt it was their only option?"

Shugo took off after Tsuna at a steady pace while nodding his head lightly as he moved. "I think you're right about that, they may have done it out of desperation and need but it's still wrong and we have to judge it as such… on paper at least." Shugo explained to state that he wasn't the most loyal of people in some ways. If they were truly doing it out of need he could recover most of it and neglect to recall key faces. There was no way Konoha would expect them to try bringing in the entire village if everyone claimed to have been the leader.

"They may have been desperate enough to attack, and they may be hungry, but we also can't just let it go. Otherwise they and anyone else will think that this is something they can always do and not be punished for," Hige says from behind as they travel. "I want to try and solve this peacefully, so I need you both to be alert for any tells, got it?"
The village wasn't far from where the attack had happened and they get there in short time. The scents would lead them right to the village of only perhaps a few hundred people at the most. When the shinobi arrive people pause to watch them warily, almost as if expecting some bad news of some sort.

Tsuna nods to Hige. "Understood, Sensei, but I still feel bad about it. I keep putting myself into their shoes. What if Onyx was starving and I knew that the only way to feed him would be to steal it from somewhere else. Would I do it? Would I try to find another way?" He shrugs slightly. "I'm not saying it right..but I am saying that I understand how they could do such a thing." Onyx barks briefly and what he said was akin to. 'I don't care what you have to do. Tell them a bedtime story, spit in their eyes, it doesn't matter as long as you feed me.' Tsuna blinks at the pup briefly and then looks over at Hige. "This is what I have to deal with daily, Sensei. You're lucky Konsho is so well behaved." Once they arrive at their destination, Tsuna hangs back to see what Hige wanted to do. He did say that he wanted a peaceful resolution.

Shugo nodded along with Tsuna at Hige's words. They made sense to him and were fair enough but… The Nara couldn't help wanting to help the village in some way to resolve the issue rather than scolding the reaction. Besides, there was no harm in it if done properly, right? Shugo would linger in the trees for a moment just as he had at the road with the cart, scanning the village carefully to take in what he could of the people in the area. There wasn't truly much to see but he could at least tell that they seemed to be less than surprised or comfortable with the appearance of ninja in their seemingly humble village. Hearing only half of the conversation with Onyx seemed enough for Shugo to get the just of what was going on though.. The pup wanted to eat the merchant back there. "They say killing is perfectly legal as long as you dispose of the evidence." Shugo chimed while peering down at Onyx with a bit of a smirk.

Poor Onyx, Hige would flick ahead to flick him on the head. "This is a mission Onyx, think oh how to solve the problem." He'd thump Shugo on the head on his way back as well. "You too." After they'd arrived Hige watches around carefully for a few moments until an elderly man approaches them from a house.
"We don't want any trouble," the old man says.
"We don't mean to give you any," Hige responds, stepping forward. "But we have something that must be discussed." The old man looks over the group before he motions for Hige to follow him inside. Hige looks back at the others. "Look around, don't cause any trouble if you can help it. See if you can find where they're hiding the supplies they took." With that he does go inside with the elderly man.

Onyx looks abashed as Hige chastises him. Tsuna grins. "Told you your mouth would get you in trouble." He nods to Hige as he and his partner go wandering around the village, hoping their nose would lead them to the supplies.

Shugo would nod a bit as he began moving off toward the main raid of the village to see what wares might be on sale and how willing they might be to converse with the visitor while he asked about some simple things. The Nara wasn't after the information involving the merchant robberies however, he was more interested in what was going on with their harvest and herds that would result in driving them to such extreme measures.

The scents were still strong and Tsuna and Onyx would have no trouble following them. However they would find a roadblock as a couple of villagers stood guard in front of the building that the items seem to have been taken into and they weren't at all happy to see the Inuzuka. In fact they glared at them quite angrily and anger as well as fear seemed to waft from them.
Some of the few merchants in the center of the village were selling their wares but very few of them were food based. Those that were were incredibly sad looking, poor, and very expensive as the supply and demand is a bit out of whack.

When they reach the area where the food is, Tsuna stands up straight while looking the guards in the eye. "Hi, there." Hige told them not to start anything, so the boy and the pup simply stand there staring, acting like they're all kinds of curious. "What's in there, mister?" He asks, pointing to the door.

Shugo would keep up his search on the matter of the why, even paying some of those absurd prices for food while asking questions on why exactly it was so high at this time of year. He was trying to stay at a casual tone and yet also trying to find out what was going on in the village.. perhaps a drought of some sort was causing this.. Shugo would give one of his playful smiles as he asked about the state of the village's water and if the irrigation was playing a part in the higher prices of the produce. Still, Shugo had bought a small bag of fruits at the expense of all of his pocket change.

The men standing guard in front of the food building stare down at Tsuna and Onyx with rather unhappy expressions. "What little food we have left kid. Now get lost. We don't need more people around eating what little is left of our food." This all comes from the biggest of the men as he crosses his arms over his chest, glaring with narrowed eyes.
Most of the merchants weren't very talkative to Shugo and a few even refused to sell him things and simply told him to move along. But finally an older couple would speak to Shugo. "Don't mind the others," the elderly man says. "They aren't used to the hard times that come with living. This'll pass, just as it always has in the past." His wife speaks up from there. "Oh we've had a bit of a shortage of usable water as some of it was tainted. We aren't sure how. We only knew it was foul smelling and killed any plants. There's also been some insects that are always around but are in larger amounts than usual this year."

Tsuna rocks back and forth on his heels while looking up at the men. He's trying his best to look cute and unassuming. "Oh, we're not hungry. We just wanted to see what was in there. Have you thought about doing some hunting? I can help if you like. I've got a nose for it." He points at his nose and grins, showing off his slight fangs. "Just cause things are hard right now is no excuse for you guys to be so mean. Maybe it's karma? You're being punished cuz you're mean. Ever think about that?" Onyx is sitting next to Tsuna's foot and looks up at him with a bemused expression. He woofs faintly. Tsuna looks down at him and shrugs. "Sounded better in my head." He murmurs to the pup.

Shugo was a bit put off by the attitudes of those in the village but the older couple saved him from considering not caring any longer. With the information the elderly couple gave him, Shugo would smile gently and nod his head while thinking over some what they said about the water. "I see… that's a real problem, it could be threatening more than just this village too. I'll make sure that I look into it for you." Shugo would offer as kindly as he could before bowing his head and beginning to step off for a few steps to tell Hige. Pausing not far from the elderly couple however, Shugo would turn about and look at them with a curious expression. "Actually, I'll look into it now, can you tell me where I can find that foul water and the bugs?"

The big man bristles at Tsuna's words and his hands drop to his side, clenching into fists as eyes narrow even more at the young Inuzuka pair. "You don't know what you're talking about. Now leave us alone you little altitude, before I send you back to your village broken and beaten." It seems he wasn't very amused by the joke.
"Oh the water comes down the canals we made a few years back. It comes in from the stream a few miles up. The bugs…well, just go out to the crops son, they're all over the blasted place!" The man says, though he's still quite friendly about it. "Just don't drink the water or let the bugs bite you. We've had people collapse after being bitten."

The moment the man makes an aggressive move, Onyx begins growling. Like to the point where he looks like he might take a chunk out of this guy. Tsuna pats him on the head. "No worries, partner. There's no need to rip his throat out. He's just being mean because he's hungry. I think it might be a blood sugar issue." He flashes another fanged smile before turning to walk away. He wanders around a bit more and then decides to head off in the direction he saw Hige walk.

Bitten means collapsing… Yeah… Time to get the guy whose skin deflects knives. Shugo turned about and began walking past the elderly couple in the opposite direction. "On second though, I'll go find my captain to deal with the bugs… He'd in the village somewhere so I'll try getting him to come with me or I'll settle it myself. Don't worry." Shugo would assure them while waving and making his way toward the direction he remembered having seen Hige go. Perhaps the Inuzuka wouldn't mind being Shugo's personal bug zapper if he promised to make him his favorite dish for a week..

Hige is inside the house of the elderly man, speaking with him on what happened. Konsho is outside waiting for him and keeping an eye on the other three. While Shugo may be able to get there without further issue, the large man steps after Tsuna after his next barb and reaches to grab for the back of his shirt. "Listen here you little loft. You don't get to talk to people that way. Now apologize before I punch your face in!" Apparently he doesn't think the dog is much of a threat or that he'll really have any issue at all.

Tsuna stops in his tracks as soon as the man touches him. Onyx wastes no time. He runs towards him and curls up in a ball as he spins end over end aiming to smack him in the chest. The move should stun him enough to let Tsuna go. After that, the duo wouldn't attack, but just continue walking. "Don't touch me. Next time we rip out your throat."

Shugo was on his way toward the building Hige was with the elderly man when he heard the man shouting at Tsuna and would narrow his eyes slightly. Even though Onyx had launched at the man, Shugo was still moving toward the trio to make sure the man didn't get himself far more hurt than he needed to for touching Tsuna. A short and brief whistle would sound from Shugo's lips in an attempt to get the attention of not only Onyx but tsuna as well. "Come on, I think I have a bit of a lead." Shugo would announce, leaving out what the lead was on to hopefully misdirect what the man could know, and to give Tsuna only enough information to hopefully make the Inuzuka interested. A part of him was hoping that whistle reached Hige and Konsho as well.

The man was taken off guard by the speed of fierceness of the pup and it caused him to stagger back a few steps before falling on his rump, mud splashing up from the weight. He lets out a string of curses as another man comes to help him up, but the sight of Shugo as well as his words quickly silences the pair and keeps them from doing anything further. Muttering, the man wipes some muck off while he turns to walk away.
Hige comes out of the house with the old man after he hears the whistle, a brow quirking as he sees the state of the man. Konsho fills Hige in silently, the two glancing at each other. The smallest of moments tells a tale when you know what it means and are looking for it. "Tsuna, Onyx, Shugo. Come here, tell us what's going on." Us apparently includes the elder and the looks Hige gives the three seems to indicate to tell them everything they'd found out.

Tsuna tries his best to look innocent while looking at Shugo and Hige. "Well, the big one tried to touch me and Onyx got real mad at him for it. All I did was offer to help them hunt for some food. I guess maybe they enjoy being hungry. See what happens when you offer to help people? It's just mean, Sensei." Onyx growls low under his breath and Hige would hear him threaten the guy in dog language. ~Next time I bite your balls off. Nobody touches him.~

Shugo would give a slight sigh and would have gone to give Tsuna a bap on the head but Hige came first and so, Shugo would move over to their commander so he could speak with him. The Nara was interested in what Hige had learned but the water problem was a priority to be honest. "Well, I found out the people here mostly don't want to sell anything, even if you're willing to pay their horrifying prices.. Aside from that, their water's been tainted and there are some kind of toxic bugs infesting the area near the water. I was going to find out what was going on, but the people that told me about the insects and I think the last thing we need is me wantering off and collapsing from bug bites." Shugo reasoned, not to say that Hige was expendable but.. he was elevated near indestructible.

"Yes, the Elder here told me of the bugs and the water problem. I told him why we came. Tsuna, Onyx, did you two locate where the stolen food was taken?" Hige asks simply, apparently including the Elder in their discussion at this point. The man looks rather disturbed by the thought of the thefts but he also had a bit of a grim look on his features. Almost as if he wouldn't quite be surprised if something like that had truly happened…

Tsuna points at the place where the big man was standing guard. "Yep. It's right in there. I know because I can smell it, and the guy was ready to take my head off just for asking to take a peek inside. I think he's probably one of the people that helped rob that caravan. I knew his stink smelled familiar."

Shugo was watching the elder for a moment before he'd nod gently to Hige's words and then give the elder a slight bow of greeting. "I think the water turning foul and the insects may not be natural. I don't think it's an invasive force but it may be a spill of some kind." Shugo explained, thinking over the possibilities for it.. perhaps a new toxin being tested on the locals before being used on a larger scale? There was no telling without inspecting it in person of course.

Hige nods slowly as he listens to Tsuna, then Shugo, before his eyes turn in that direction. The Elder lets out a pained sigh. "That man is my son. I was afraid he might do something like this. You have my apologies shinobi. We are in tough times but there is never a good enough reason for this. I will personally make sure it is delivered to your village."
"Your son and any who helped him will need to be punished. They will also need to work off the portion of food we're leaving. They will need to come with you. If they refuse then let them know we'll track them down and the penalty will only be worse." Hige instructs the Elder before looking to the other three. "We're going to go check on what's causing the issues as well. But first I want you three to get a quick inventory. We'll leave half here to help this village. But first…" Hige and Konsho walk towards the big man who was guarding the warehouse. It doesn't take long before he starts yelling and quickly finds himself knocked out. The others that were helping guard quickly retreat, leaving the building clear.

Tsuna politely points out. "I could have done that for you, Sensei, but you told us not to cause a scene." He flashes Hige a smile before going over to stand by Shugo. "You were saying something about a taint, right? Something to do with water and insects?" He pauses. "It's not mosquitoes is it? I really, really don't like those."

Shugo would glance around innocently when Hige moved off to take care of business with the son. It was not as messy as Shugo was expecting but Hige was no doubt trying not to kill this one. That made things easier. Shugo would start toward moving to the building so he could get to work on the inventory but Tsuna's question stoppted the Nara briefly. "I didn't go in case I didn't notice one and got a bite that took me down." Shugo admitted while shrugging his shoulders a bit. "I'd rather have backup in case something like that happens."

"Better me than you in this instance," Hige says over his shoulder to Tsuna as Konsho goes over to the unconscious man and sits on him to keep him down. "Also, I don't think Onyx could do /that/." He looks to Shugo and hmms softly. "We'll go check it out. If it's something that could be that dangerous we may need to come back with a medic." He looks back to the Elder thoughtfully before he gives a small nod. "Let's sort through the supplies here quickly. It will be enough to take care of the villagers for a time until we can come back with Taiki or Kenta."

Tsuna watches as the much bigger dog walks over and sits on the man. Onyx woofs slightly and Tsuna nods at him. "Yeah, it'll be a little bit before he can do that. Geez what do you feed him, Sensei?" He nods to Shugo. "Good call. Sensei's right though. I wouldn't feel good about investigating something like that without medical backup. If those insects are poisonous we'd need immediate help, but it couldn't hurt to just go look." He points to the shed. "I'm gonna go help sort out the food." And then he and the pup walk over to just do that.

Shugo would follow along with Tsuna so they could get things done quickly. "I'm not sure if it's deadly, the people I spoke to only mentioned someone collapsing. Still, it's not a situation I want to be in alone or without someone that can help deal with it in some way on hand." The Nara would comment while nodding to both Hige and Tsuna on the matter of the bugs. As he passed Konsho, Shugo would slip the large dog one of his treats from that ever filled pouch that Shugo carried with him. Always ready to feed the well behaved pups of the world. "The fact they showed up together is a bit troublesome however…" Shugo muttered with a slight frown on his face.

Hige stays out to speak with the Elder some more and plan while the others sort through the food stuffs. Once it was done Hige would take a wagon and horse to get half of the supplies back to Konoha. "We'll be back in a few days to look into the problem of your water and those bugs. Keep your people out of the area for now. And remember this food will be earned by the people who stole it, so take care of your people, don't worry about the cost." Once the wagon was loaded he would have his team climb aboard as well as the bound son of the Elder. And then they'd be off.

Tsuna rides in the wagon beside Hige and he's silent for some of the trip until he looks over at Hige, his expression serious. "That was a good thing, you did Sensei." Onyx barks his agreement from Tsuna's lap. ~No pup should go hungry.~ Tsuna nods and then says to Hige. "How are you planning for the villagers to work off their debt? Just out of curiosity?"

Shugo climbed in along with Tsuna and sat down not far from the son of the elder while forming hand seals to let his shadows bleed into that of the son so that if need be he could restrain the man along with the bonds holding him. "I agree with Tsuna, it was a good choice. I'm glad you're going to be looking into the issue too." Shugo explained though he was a bit saddened they weren't doing it now. It was better this way in some ways though. For one, no one would be collapsed for long if they brought a proper medic along with them." Shugo would nod his head calmly a few times and then look to Tsuna as the young Inuzuka mentioned his very good point.. Slave labor… make the thieves work in a maid cafe, caning them.. what would be done with the thieves that wouldn't end in Hige getting all bloody?"

Hige nods a little in response to the other three though his eyes don't leave the road ahead. Konsho lays in the wagon as well, watching around them with big eyes. "I'll leave that to the Village's discretion," he says distractedly. After a few more moments he draws the wagon to a stop and sighs softly. "Things can never just go easily, can they…"
The scent would encroach and Tsuna would be able to smell it as well. More of those people that had stolen the food. Before long there's a small group on the road with various farm utilities and a few actual weapons. "Let Dran go. He was only trying to help the village. He doesn't deserve to be punished."

Tsuna absently reaches back to scratch Konsho as he speaks to Hige. "So you're going to let them figure it out? That old guy you were talking to must have agreed with what you were doing. You trust him to keep his word." His nose crinkles slightly. "Uh-Oh.." He looks back at Shugo. "We got incoming, Shugo-san." He sits up a little straighter in the wagon even as the men come into view. He sighs and rubs his forehead underneath the headband. "Not these guys again.."

Shugo was just getting comfortable and beginning to drift off to the gentle rocking of the wagon when Tsuna told him that they were going to have friends coming to visit. A mildly irritated groan left the Nara's throat before he'd push to his feet and peer out of the wagon at the villagers standing there. They had a good reason to want to help him but Shugo would only frown at their demand as it was. "He was trying to protect your village in the wrong way. You don't justify attacking and robbing merchants with it being because you were hungry. Someone needs to be punished before everyone believes that stealing is alright if you want what someone has bad enough." Shugo would call back to the villagers.

Hige just sat at the front of the wagon and…didn't say a word. "He was just doing what he had to. We'd all be dead otherwise and then there wouldn't be any way to help us at all." They don't seem like they're going to let this go very easily.
Hige hmms softly to himself before he leans back a bit while counting. Almost twenty. That was a high number even for non-shinobi against his own group. No wonder the merchants had given up their goods. "What do you three think?" Hige asks behind him quietly without glancing back.

Tsuna comments to Hige. "Shugo-san and I can handle this, Sensei. But I kinda feel sorry for them. Should we tell them that we left food for them? Maybe that'll make them happy so they leave us alone?" Onyx starts growling and Tsuna pats him on the head and behind his ears. "Easy, boy. We don't want to fight unless we have to."

Shugo would frown a bit at their commentary and raise a brow slightly as he let his brain process what they had said. "You would all have died by now? If that is true, how many other merchants has he stolen from to feed the village? How accepting would you be if someone chose to steal from you, endangering your lives just to satisfy the needs of their own?" Shugo questioned as he began moving from the wagon slowly to step onto the road and face the villagers on even ground.. even if there was nothing even about their numbers. Fighting was a last resort however, he'd rather talk the people down.

"Just don't kill anyone," Hige says with a soft sigh as he stays with the wagon to make sure that they don't try and sneak in to free their friend while the shinobi are distracted. Or to steal any of the food back. "Somehow I doubt that would settle them down Tsuna."
Indeed they just seemed to be more riled when Shugo started talking. "No! We haven't stolen from anyone except those last ones, and only because they were being unfair to us!" A few of the men lunge towards Shugo and Tsuna, rakes and pitchforks striking out towards the shinobi.

Tsuna hops out of the wagon just as the villager lunged at him, he twists his body to the side to dodge and then sends a punch towards his face, and then he spins around, kicking behind him. He's not trying to kill anyone, but he does want to hurt him. "We don't want to fight. Your friend broke the law and he's got to be held accountable for that. Go home." He motions for Onyx to stay in the wagon with Konsho and Hige. He's got this.

Shugo would frown as the people attacked and raise a hand up while his shadows bled from within his haori to glove his hand from harm. When he grasped the blade of the tools being lashed at him, the Nara would narrow his eyes slowly. "I'm not going to hurt you, so stand still." Shugo would announce while his shadows continued bleeding from the Nara, reaching out to grip hold of whatever those shadowy hands could wind themselves around. He was true to his word about not trying to harm. He just wanted to hold as many of the people in place as he could. "I can understand desperation and need far more than you might believe yourselves to.. Don't make me hurt you.."

The man who attacked Tsuna finds himself getting punched rather ungraciously by the kid and he stumbles back after the kick, dropping his tool and holding his nose that's started bleeding. Two others come towards the Inuzuka, one of them actually with a sword though it's obvious he's not very skilled in it regardless. Shugo's man ends up getting stopped by the shadows and fear enters his eyes when he finds himself unable to move. A few more move forward to try and help him - by attacking Shugo. And then the gate breaks open and the others all rush forward with a shout.

Tsuna crouches as his claws grow slightly as well as his fangs. He tilts is head back and howls loudly before his yellow feral eyes focus on the men. "I said back off. Nobody wants to hurt you guys. Just go home before someone gets killed by accident!" The Inuzuka boy snarls almost beast-like. He's definitely of the right bloodline. "I'm not going to ask again. The next person to attack me is going to the hospital."

Shugo had a better idea than to let them get sent to the hospital by Tsuna and formed several hand seals while lowering down into a kneel. He'd not release the one that was there under his grasp but even still, he would spread out his shadows and begin lifting them from the ground. "I'm going to have to ask all of you to stand still for me." Shugo announced as he counted the members of that charging group and let his shadowy tendrils split time and time again to match the numbers. Then, Shugo lashed out to try catching and stopping as many of those villagers as possible

A number of the villagers are caught up by Shugo's shadow sewing and find themselves frozen in place, the shadows piercing them lightly in spots as they grit their teeth against the surprise and pain. But a few get through and those few go right for Tsuna, apparently not afraid of the feral looking boy. Hige can't help but grin faintly as he sees how Tsuna reacts and he hmms softly. Reminds him of someone he knows…

Tsuna growls. "Fine. Have it your way." He looks over at the pup still in the wagon. "Onyx. Double Whammy." He drops to all fours as the pup joins him before they both take off at a run, Onyx takes one and Tsuna takes the other as they both leap into the air and begins to spin rapidly like a tornado before they go crashing into the two men.

Shugo would click his tongue that some got through and begin muttering a prayer for them in hopes that they'd survive that thorough pounding they were going to get from the dynamic duo. Those pups were turning into another pup he knew all too well and casting a glance toward Hige and that little grin told him that Hige thought so as well. How lovely… Two or three crazed puppies to look after now. Returning his attention to the villagers, Shugo would begin letting his shadows roll off of himself and have those tendrils withdraw so the villagers could have free choice. "We can all stand around looking angry with one another, or you can see how many of you he can bash before he's bored… Your choice."

The two men get smacked by the young Inuzuka duo and go flying through the air with some fresh new wounds. As the shadows release the others they see what happened and they all look worriedly between each other. "Let's get out of here!" One of them says finally and the group turns to run, helping their friends up that had been knocked down as they retreat into the forest.
"Good job you three. Hop on, let's head home." Hige says, waving them to join him back up on the wagon once again so they can finish heading to Konoha.

Tsuna stands up as he calms down a bit. His hand runs through his hair. "Idiots. Told them to back off in the first place." He huffs as he hops in the wagon and then Onyx hops into his lap. He looks over at Hige. "I did hold back on them, Sensei." He looks over at Shugo. "You okay, Shugo-san? Snagging that many people had to have been a little taxing for you."

Shugo would climb into the wagon as well and gave Tsuna a bit of a ruffle on his head before doing the same for Hige while he lowered to sit down in the wagon with a bit of a sigh. While he could grab them, what Tsuna said was true and Shugo felt that urge for a nap coming on even stronger than before. With his eyes drifting closed and his arms tucked into the sleeves of his haori, Shugo answered Tsuna's question honestly, "I'm alright, they were pretty weak so it was nothing. Holding onto Hige in that training match was a lot harder." Shugo would explain in as honest of a lying tone as he could manage at the time. No point in making others worry.

"Mmhmm," is Hige's only real answer to that statement from Shugo. "You did well Tsuna. They survived, that's all I asked. They can use their wounds to remind themselves of how foolish they were." With that Hige gets the horses moving again. There's no more trouble on the way to the Village. Quite a trip and a diversion from the original parameters, but the mission was complete.

Tsuna allows himself the rare opportunity to relax. He leans back in the wagon with his hands behind his head. His eyes are closed even though he's not asleep. Onyx on the other hand is napping while laying on top of Konsho. Growing pups need their sleep, after all. Tsuna opens one eye. "Hey, Sensei? Who are you going to get to go back with us to check out that water and insects? You gonna ask the Alpha?"

Shugo would wake when they git a bit of a bump in the road toward Konoha and snap his eyes open but not move much more than that. He was still in the same position as he was when he'd first drifted off in the wagon, his shadow having once again bonded to the captive's so that if the man tried, he'd not be able to escape and certainly wouldn't be able to without Shugo knowing it. What the Nara couldn't play off as 'just resting my eyes' however, was the wide, jaw-cracking yawn that roared free of him while he looked toward the tall gates of the village wall. He was awake in time to hear Tsuna's question luckily as it was something he was interested in.

Hige wrinkles his nose at Tsuna's question. Or rather, at the way he says it. "I'll ask Taiki or Kenta to come with us when we go back, yes." Hige was never one for titles, even for others, so hearing Taiki called 'the Alpha' just grates his nerves slightly…But the mission is finally over and Hige dismisses his team. "Good job guys. Go get some rest. I'll take this guy." And by him he means Konsho, who gets the man thrown onto his back to carry him back to jail.

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