Date: April 13, 2011
The investigation of the sites of the thefts begin the day after the team from Kirigakure arrives in the Koumorite Village.
"The Bat Hand - To The Bat Cave!"
Koumorite Village - Land of Water
The day after the meeting with the Elders, Yuri and Yuuka have been shown how to navigate the bamboo bridges and walkways that lead up to the caves that lie in the faces of the various cliffs surrounding the Koumorite Village. They have also been shown which caves they are permitted to enter, and which to avoid. So far, the thefts have only been from three caves, and so these three are the ones that the pair of kunoichi are expected to investigate first.
The first cave they arrive at is is not very deep, extending only about fifty feet into the earth, and has modern support structures and bracing to ensure that the cave's ceiling remains where it is. Not that this appears to be necessary, given that it is made of solid rock, but one can never tell when an earthquake might occur. Inside, there are various images painted on the walls in many different pigments. They do not mean anything to Yuri, but she is hardly familiar with tribal paintings to begin with. Some are recognizable as primitive stick-figures, but a lot of it is symbols and markings that no doubt hold some special significance to the Koumorite — and >only< to them.
Small jars and vessels lie along the edges of the walls on each side. No light source was provided for exploring the cave, but given the time of day, the sun gives adequate illumination for most of the cliff-hollow. "According to the Koumorite, the relics taken so far have been jewelry, items of precious metals and gemstones, and similar. The more art-based relics have been left alone, or in some cases actually broken," Yuri explains to Yuuka as she stands a bit within the entrance of the cave, turned to allow the younger woman to enter as well. "The Koumorite value the cultural value of their relics more than the monetary worth of the materials. So a solid gold necklace or a diamond as big as your head or whatever else would have the same worth to them as a threadbare dress worn by an ancestor a hundred years ago. They thus believe that the thieves are 'outsiders' — which is to say, non-Koumorite. The treasures taken have all been of significant value to 'private collectors' or those looking to make some cash. I agree with the assessment of the Clan. So we should look for any signs of who might be responsible."
Yuuka narrows her dark blue green eyes slightly as she takes slow steps through the entrance of the cave, following a few steps after Yuri as the Kaguya kunoichi carefully scans the various collection of jars and pottery that line the cavern wall. "If that is the case… how is it that outsiders managed to get inside the caverns without the Koumorites knowing about it." Yuuka murmurs lightly, "This cavern is dim at best. How is it an outsider got inside, found everything with monitary value, then left without a trace, in what I can assume to be pitch black darkness. It sounds a bit farfetched…"
Yuri cautiously treads the center of the passage, the grace that comes with being both female and well-trained enabling her to proceed with perfect balance and minimal concentration. Yuuka can likely manage the same, because kunoichi are the >best<. But the dim lighting is a factor to consider, and the floor is not exactly flat and even. Being careless in here could be the last thing they do in this Village. Yuri does not wish to return to Kirigakure with the news that she bungled the diplomatic mission because either she or a team members put a foot through a priceless vase.
"There is that mystery, yes. Then again… There are some Ninjutsu that can allow one to pass through earth and stone as though it were air, and I am pretty sure that there are jutsu and Kekkei Genkai that allow one to navigate in the dark as well. The Yamayuki Clan can 'feel' sound waves. The Uchiha Clan have their Sharingan, which amplifies normal vision to incredible levels… We even had a Swordsman in Kirigakure for awhile who could both sense vibrations in the air and ground, and >negate< any vibrations he might be producing, effectively making him absolutely silent. I heard he died, though. No one knows what happened to his sword either…"
Stroking her chin thoughtfully, Yuri looks for signs of the walls being disturbed recently. Hidden Among Rocks Technique is one possibility… But there are other techniques, as well as simple excavation tools. Can someone have tunneled into the cave from a different location? "The Koumorite are not usually specialists in Ninjutsu. They don't even practice medicine very well, from what I understand. There's probably a lot of things they wouldn't even think of to defend against. But that still implies that whomever these 'outsiders' are, they know enough about the Koumorite and the Clan's capabilities that they can counter-act what defenses and security measures >are< in place. So we may be looking at an 'inside source' being used as well."
The mother of two children concludes her search and sees nothing that jumps out at her, even when she reaches the back of the cave. "Let's check the next one."
Yuuka quirks a pale brow as she continues to glance around with some curiosity, narrowing her deep aquamarine eyes as she breathes out slowly. "I had already considered that possibility as well, yes. That this might have occured because of someone within the clan. Perhaps a mole…" she murmurs. Firming her jaw faintly, she rubs her fingertips together and gives Yuri a sideways glance, sprinkling small shards of her own bone from her fingers as the kunoichi lowers her chin with a nod. "Alright."
Yuri turns to look carefully at Yuuka. Then, in a very obvious and >exact< tone, she says, "It is unlikely that members of the Koumorite Clan would betray their own. They are very loyal to their Clan, and are very honorable — in their own way, at least. I was thinking that a merchant or worker or similar individual who is being allowed to stay in the village long-term might be abusing the trust placed upon him or her. We should inquire if there any individuals like that who have been acting suspiciously…" Yuri then strides back towards the cave's mouth and exits. She says nothing further until both she and Yuuka are well away from a cave's mouth, and the general noise of a community going about its business can cover their words.
At >that< point, she turns towards Yuuka and says quietly, "I'm not an expert on accoustics, but the Koumorite have exceptional hearing. I have no doubt that we are being observed to some degree, so we should be careful what we say if our words might echo or otherwise travel to where someone >else< might hear…"
"Someone that easily goes unnoticed perhaps? Someone that visits the village regularly? Sounds viable." Yuuka murmurs lightly, glancing at Yuri for a brief moment before turning and following after the other kunoichi, making sure to avoid important artifacts as she exits. At the entrance, she lifts a pale brow and gives the other woman a sideways glance, gaze narrowing as they walk to then look behind them out of the corner of her eyes. "Hm. Seems likely. Though right now we are just spinning theories. It is not like we know beyond a doubt what happened and who did it." Yuuka whispers back.
Yuri nods knowingly. "So our first step is to ask around. I will check official sources first. You should talk to any 'outsiders' around the Village, and see if you hear any rumors or anything suspicious. I'll join you eventually. Basically, just get friendly with the non-Koumorite if you can. We have two other caves to check first, but we can split up to get it done quicker. No reason to have to sets of eyes doing what one pair can do just as well… And perhaps better, given your unique skills." Yuri winks and then heads towards the second cave, pointing out the third for Yuuka. It looks like they have their work cut out for them.