Date: January 28, 2015
A contract has been made, and Keiji intends to complete it. A small hitch the plan arrives in the form of a certain raven-haired berserker….
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"The Clash of Assassin and Yojimbo"
Beneath the path on the road was a decent sized cavern. Within the darkness of the cavern the white portions of a man's eyes seem to glow slightly. His dark pupils and irises remain still as he studies a picture on the ground. The man was none other than Keiji of the Shippodoku clan. The man in the picture was his target, Fukushaka Kuroji. His life was worth enough to draw not only Keiji but multiple assassins out after him. From what Keiji had heard, the man had been raising an army fight the injustices of the local, corrupt authorities. "It is time." Keiji states as he stands up. Soon he would be rising from the ground to a path in the road. The sun was just starting to set and ahead of Keiji was the house where his intel had traced the man to be living.
Although grateful to Kuroji for allowing her to stay for an evening or two, Rise was somewhat less than happy with the price that came with it. Guard duty was nothing new to her. In fact, playing the part of yojimbo had been her main means of acquiring funds on the road. Unfortunately, she learned belatedly after their arrangement that the man had not only been stirring up trouble, but with authority figures no less. Corrupt figures that would no doubt go to a great many lengths to see the man silence. Part of the reason how she would up in his company had involved thwarting one such would be assassin on the road.
As the sun begins its final descent, Rise lets out a tired sigh while resting upon the roof. "Its only a couple of nights.. then they'll arrive and can take over." She murmured, hoping to assuage her agitated spirit. It fails miserably, eliciting another sigh from the girl as she rolled over on her roof top perch. She chose the spot in part because it gave her the most wide range view of the area, and meant avoiding more property damage should a fight break out. That was the idea, in anycase. Rise blinked in confusion and straightens out abruptly. Someone was approaching…
Kuroji was so pleased to have a shinobi guarding him. It meant that his life was extended for a while. He had been fearless for the sake of those around him. It was all fine and dandy until he found out someone was trying to cut his life short. "Those usagi." the man mutters under his breath as he waits down in the house below Rise. She had done a fine job for him so far. The fact it was only for a few days left him wondering what he was going to do after she left. He had to think of something. The man grabs a glass a of water and moves to a seat. He needed to calm down so he could think straight. He knew to stay away from the windows. So he had the chair moved to the far side of the living room where he could not be seen sitting.
Keiji moved off of the path towards a small grouping of trees. He wanted to sneak through and get a closer look. His information told of a failed assassination. So he knew the man was already on guard and that he had some form of protection. So Keiji tried to sneak along the trees. He wanted to use the cover of night to cover his movements towards the house however, that relied on him getting past the guard on the roof.
Rise eyes narrow to slits. The direction of the sun was playing havoc with her sight. Too much, it would seem, seeing as how no alarm goes up when Keiji's figure disappears. After a tense moment of silence, Rise hesitantly rubs at her eyes, wondering not for the first time if tension or her own mind was playing tricks on her. Rise trusted her instincts more however, so remained on guard and gathered her chakra through a single seal. With only one arm to work with, the woman is sluggish to achieve her goal. Immediately after, Rise knocked on the roof. One of three signals she managed to work out with her employer. She hoped he recalled, heard, and became on guard. Granted, it wasn't as if the man had relaxed all that much since they got back…
Kuroji nearly soiled himself when he heard the knock. "One knock… run? No…be alert. Thats it. Yeah thats it. Phew…" he says as he settles back down into his seat. His eyes continued to glance back and forth between the door and the hallway. He was on alert alright. He pondered just what it was that Rise had seen to cause him to nearly leave his own skin. She knew he was on edge. Maybe she was playing tricks. He really did not want to test that theory. "Maybe she could smuggle me out of the country." It was less of a question and more of a statement in his own head.
Keiji moved slowly and gracefully across the dark shadows of the night until he reached the house. He was silent like a field mouse. Now if only he had been the size of a field mouse. It would have helped him get inside the home. As he moved along the side of the home, he would look into the windows. He was not only attempting to gain an access point, but he also wanted to see who was where, inside the building. As he moves he continues to search for both.
Her unease grew as night fell, but nothing strikes at her as worth investigating. Rise is tempted to go inside again, seeing as how her only reliable senses for the dark was smell and sound. The former of which was more attuned to blood and wildlife. But she ignored the temptation, and remained at her post, wary of even the slightest hint of trouble.
The silence of the house was almost unbearable for Kuroji. Was his protector still there? Had she run off into the night? Thousands of doubts circled through man's head. The pace of his eyes quickened between the hall and the door. His fingers idly tapped at the top of his thigh. There was no sound. It was maddening. The man would have killed for a cricket or a woodpecker. Then something stops him. He closes his eyes and takes three deep breaths.
Keiji had not exactly found his target, but his searching paid off. The door in the back of the house was unlocked. His fingers slowly turn the knob on the door until it opens slightly. He then applies pressure to the hinge as he opens it just far enough to slip in. The pressure was an attempt to keep them from squeaking in the near dead silence. He wanted the element of surprise to remain his. As he moves into the house he stands inside the kitchen not knowing that his target is just on the other side of a wall.
Rise chewed on her lip, suppressing the urge to scream out her growing frustration. She should've been glad the night was so quiet thus far, not miffed! It didn't help that her instincts kept egging her on to act when there was nothing to act out against. Eventually, Rise simply can't stand it anymore. Perhaps talking to Kuroji about seeking local aid would distract her from her worrying. With that thought in mind, Rise rolled to her feet and made her way towards the back as per Kuroji's order. Why he refused to listen to her and just keep everything lockdown as she suggested was beyond her.
Keiji moved lightly across the wooden floor. His steps were like that of a satanic angel floating over the floor boards. He moved down the hall and offered only a glance which would give him a surprising present. The man was sitting in a chair there with his eyes closed. The confirmation had been made. Without wasting a moment, Keiji dipped his hand into uniform to grab a deadly poison. He dashed towards the man aiming a fist directly towards his face, only missing just slightly. The pincer was sticking out from Keiji's hand less than a centimeter from the man's cheek.
Finally Kuroji's breathing had returned to normal. That is until a single creak of a floor board caused him to open his eyes. They opened extremely wide to find a man hovering over him with a fist next to his face. The fear was enough that he could not scream though he desperately wished to. To make matter worse his eyes followed the hand to find some circus blade contraption at the end of the man's finger. He took a deep breath in as he was preparing to yell for help. He did not know why the man misses his face, but he was going to try to use it to his advantage.
As soon as she passed the threshold, Rise sucked in a breath with the intent to call out to her employer, only to nearly sputter. The door just now had been ajar. Self-preservation almost wins out, but duty pushes her to ignore grabbing the combat knife strapped to her side and rush forward instead. Stealth is all but abandon in the process, though some half-hearten attempt is made, delaying the announcement of her approach until she was within the room.
A quick scan is all she dares to take before cursing inwardly and striking out with a rising kick. If successful, she'd lodge Keiji's head in the roof long enough to properly see to Kuroji.
As Kuroji moved to scream, his lungs started to burn. At first it was just a heated cough. Then it seemed almost as if someone doused them in gasoline. He let out a gasp of air that sounded like he was choking. Unfortunately for him, his entire body became paralyzed. He was only able to widen his eyes as he see's Rise behind the man. She had not left him yet. She was attacking him. Despite all the pain he was grateful she had not left him yet.
Keiji was about to say some kind words as the man started the short process of passing into the next world. The eyes of the man widened and shifted towards something else in the room. They were not alone. The young Shippodoku dashes to the side of the room evading the kick. At this point, Keiji was certain that man would die without medical treatment. All he needed to do was keep the one armed wonder busy for a few moments. His hands move together forming seals. Anyone familiar with them would know them to be earth seals. As he finished hands of earth would rise from under the floor boards, breaking them apart. These hands were reaching for their target, Rise.
Having fought both with and against Michiko enough times, Rise knew what would follow all too well. Still, there's a moment of hesitation on her part. The slightest movement from Kuroji both gave her hope and nearly doomed the raven-haired berserker. By some miracle she manages to leap in time to avoid the hands, and after several mid-air rotations, found herself adhere to two connecting walls in the corner of the room. Rise did not think for a second that she was safe there. After a moment's pause she realized in hindsight what had been the man's intentions as well when he failed to go after Kuroji.
She gritted her teeth and clenched her hand into a tight fist. He would not succeed, this much she swore. Two chakra gates are forced open in quick succession. Keiji has perhaps a heartbeat or two to realize the change before the girl's form distorts. In another, Rise is crouched before him, trying again to kick him into the ceiling, and well through it if possible.
Kuroji simply watched in horrible pain. It was as if someone set his lungs a blaze. He had no physical wounds, but he was dying. His little home just had the floor destroyed before his eyes, now Rise was pursuing the assassin. They were both too quick for his eyes to truly keep up. Given the pain he was in, tears started to stream down his face. He was barely breathing now. The pain was simply too much.
Keiji watched as Rise escaped the hands from the earth. He was mentally cursing her as she began to change. He had seen the gates before. As she charges towards him, his tail sprouts and a few arms grow. Unfortunately he's unable to evade them and ends up kicked through the cieling onto the roof. He's momentarily stunned. He knew she had a choice now. She could attempt to help the target or she could try to pursue him. He doubted she was able to do both.
Rise only allows a brief smirk to be expressed before her visage became stony. As much as she wanted to pursue the assassin and finish the job, Kuroji came first. She acts without further hestation, forcing a pill down the man's throat after only the briefest of explinations. Her minor medical training helped guide her through the process of making sure the pill reached its destination, though doubts lingered. In any case, they could no linger there, so she threw the man over her shoulder and took off for the still open back entrance.
Rise was no fool however. She knew gen well there could be another assassin waiting outside, if not the first already recovered from his impromptu trip. Sadly, there wasn't time to do no more than stay low and move fast. The former of which was considerably easy for a woman of her small stature.
By this point Kuroji was pretty well out of it. Breathing still hurt and he was forced to swallow something. He was unsure he had actually swallowed something, but it kind of felt that way. Then he feels his body being picked up. He's unable to really open his eyes. Behind the pain, though he trusted Rise.
This was becoming upsetting to Keiji. All he wanted to do was kill the man and be done with it. He dusts himself off as he sees Rise take off outside the house. He's quickly on her tail in pursuit. From behind him, his tail lashes out to strike her with his own paralytic venom. Her taijutsu was easily his own level if not better. He needed to bring them both down and quickly.
Eyes that had been so keenly focused on finding a clear enough path through the surrounding forest widen abruptly. Following a rough landing on both feet, Rise bounds high and forward, barely missing both tail and tree branches during the leap. She alights atop one of the thicker ones and grudgingly half-turns to face her pursuer.
Shippodoku, Puppeteer, or some sort of amalgam. Regardless of which, the man was far too persistent to turn her back on him again. Rise clenches her teeth behind closed lips, then reluctantly situated Kuroji against the trunk of the tree. In the darkness she couldn't tell for certain if his condition was improving or deteriorating, so she hoped for the best, and left another pill in easy reach for the man. Afterwards, she allowed herself to drop down to the ground, and explode into action a second later. Two more gates are crashed through in haste before she actually reaches the man, a red oni wrapped in a green aura that spun at the last moment and tried to deliver a powerful spinning back kick to his chest.
Frustration was starting to build within the assassin. His moves were slow and Rise seemed to have the upper hand easily. As he felt her chakra start to change, Keiji tried to match it by shifting into his scorpion form. Unfortunately, he must have had a lousy breakfast cause fate no longer seemed to be on his side. He ends up back kicked by the girl. The pain is minimal but still an annoyance. With only one move left, the giant scorpion rushes towards Rise. His giant pincer swings right near her face. This was one move she had not completely seen yet. He pondered if it would be enough to get the toxins into her system.
Having read his movement, Rise lofts a brow. Her moment of hesitation nearly costs her again, and yet fortune favored her. The wind from her high speed rush to the side disrupted the poisonous mixture as surely as the movement itself placed her out of its reach. The margin is a narrow one, she noted idly as she skidded to a stop. Words played at the tip of her tongue, but not a one slip out. Her lips only part long enough for there to be signs of an attempt before she focused keenly on her next course of action.
The assassin isn't the only one who could enter a higher state. Rise once more breaks through two more gates, cracking the ground beneath her feet, and finally making her keenly aware of the toll of releasing the restraint on her muscles. She forces the awareness down before it could overwhelm her, and again risked engaging the assassin in closer quarters. Like he, Rise stopped short but the force of her rapid flurry of punches ignite the air in their wake.
Frustration slowly turns into rage with each failure. Rise was powering up. Keiji had no choice but to take his final form. The armor of the scorpion falls to the ground and turns to dust leaving only the armored humanoid form. He easily evades the morning peacock. It was not even close to hitting him. Attacking Rise was not working. The entire plan had become a waste of time and energy. So the dark eyes turn to the victim or target in this case. Keiji's speed is fast. It is fast enough the eyes cannot track it. He makes a beeline for the man with a pincer extended. This was his deadly venom concoction. If the man was not already dead, this in his blood stream would seal his fate. Rise was a different matter. Despite having one arm she only seemed to be getting faster.
She knew she wouldn't be fast enough. She knew it the moment Keiji started to become a blur to her. It did not matter. Rage took the forefront, virtually blinding her of all else. The darkness lit up for her, as well as for Keiji and Kuroji, though in a different way. One more gate of power rushes through her system, threatening to finish the job that its predecessors started. Unlike before, the pain doesn't even register to the girl. It could not touch her once Rise allowed her rage to full control. Rage and thoughts of revenge. She burst afterwards, intending to break Keiji in half with a severe kick to the side the instant his claw broke skin.
No sooner had the pincer broke the skin, Keiji once more vanished from where he was. This left Rise looking at Kuroji's final moments alive. The assassin had taken to his hiding place. He no longer had a need to fight. The man was damaged beyond saving. Even if it were possible to save him, the tissue damage in his lungs would confine him to a bed the rest of his life. It would be a horrible life of looking at the roof of the room. Luckily for him, he'd soon be seeing the lights of the afterlife.
The initial prick of the pincer did not seem to bother Kuroji, who lay propped against the tree. The pain that followed caused him to make a whimper noise from his lungs. The pain was so great that he passed out. With tears in his eyes the man follows over onto his side. It is over. The curtain of his life fell. Someone stuck a fork in him. The fat lady had sung.
Rise had no clue as to how she managed to correct her course in time, only that she managed it, if albeit barely. Though she meant to pursue the man immediatly while consciousness and the trail remained fresh, her eyes do a double take.
The brief glance turns into a lingering look of disbelief. Some small part of her had foolishly hoped that she succeeded in intercepting the assassin, and with her next technique, the man would've put down long enough for her and Kuroji to escape. But seeing the rebel take his last breath robbed her of any hope pertaining to that. Rise hardly knew the man. But still, now more than ever, she yearned to avenge him. She starts to turn away to do just that. However, her conscious would not allow it. Her reason was not so pure as to excuse her from venting her remaining frustration and anger upon a monstrous foe.
Tears are never shed even as the Shirokiri approached the man, lifted him up, and carried him with as much dignity as she could. They would not fall until much, much later…