Date: October 18, 2014
Red and Mushi go looking for Goh.
"The Goh Hunt - Part 1"
Toshi Sagan Entrance
News of Goh had drawn Red and Mushi to the southern edge of the Land of Wind. It'd take days to reach the port. But Mushi at last demonstrated her summon to Red: a hummingbird large enough to carry four people. It was easily over twice as tall as Mushi. The ride would be surprisingly easy. Despite the humming of her wings, Kirameki had some natural ability or perhaps actively used her chakra to make it not only easy but effortless to remain on her back. They'd gone at light speed over the desert and reached Toshi Sagan before the morning even began.
"Thank you Kirameki-chan," Mushi says. The hummingbird replies in a feminine, trilling voice, "Of course, Mu-chan. Summon me any time you wish." Then she'd disappear in a poof of white steam.
"Believe it or not, there's to be a festival and their pickled wares are far famed," Mushi says. "Perhaps one will be Goh-kun. Or maybe the news will also draw him in." She smiles to Red. "Even if we don't find him, there's other things to enjoy at the fair besides pickled vegetables." She'd start forward with the boy.
While Red thought he had done many things, nothing had prepped him for travelling at light speed on the back of a humming bird. It was a bizarre and surreal experience, one that has him feeling slightly dizzy as he disembarks and grips his forehead.
When Mushi speaks to him, he just sort of nods a little, perhaps still trying to clear his head. Flying itself is something he had not done before! So this was a big step up. "Far famed?" He asks groggily. "You mean like… people actually come here to EAT them? Without being forced to?" The youth seems not entirely sure how that could possibly be true, though falls into line next to the female. Ready for her to lead the way. "What sort of other things? And do you always fly everywhere, now?" He asks. "Don't you think it's kind of wanderer-cheating?"
"Some people like them," Mushi says with a shrug. "There are other things of course. They're well known for their sweets—especially their fancy cakes. There's also some booths and games. It's a traveling caravan. They mostly wander the more neutral countries, so it's a stroke of luck we get them here. The Honey Festival it's called, since they're from the Land of Honey." She smirks.
Although she laughs at Red's question about cheating. "It doesn't come without a cost. It's more useful to walk. You meet people and pick up new information on the ground, but none in the air. I use it for emergencies. If someone sends a message and needs my medical services I fly on Kirameki. And this caravan is only here for a few days before moving further north…we'd be chasing them if we walked."
"I like honey." Red answers with a widening grin, seeming easily won over by all of the talk of cakes, booths and games. He did very much want to find his Dad again, but this was a great fallback if nothing eventuated.
There's a slow nod from Red when Mushi explains the case to fly, his black hair wavering just a bit in the salty wind that the port provides. He still wears his thick, heavy-set clothes. However, they're likely far more comfortable to wear here than in the desert.
"Well, what are we waiting for then? Let's go! I'm starving. Can you buy me some pancakes and some juice? And then we can go find Dad."
"Not pancakes or waffles," Mushi says. "Remember what I said about sweets here? We'll do crepes. Crepes with powdered sugar and strawberries. Yum." She'd lead him off to the booth and a long line of people waiting. The smell is mouth watering. Fortunately, the merchants behind the stall are making the food at high speed, so they don't have to wait too long. There's other toppings besides strawberries. Syrup, other fruit, powdered sugar, cinnamon, and the like. Mushi gets just what she'd mentioned, along with some drinks, and lets Red really go all out if he wishes. She'd sit at an outdoors bench and start to dig in. "Not bad, hm? But be careful. See those men in uniforms? They protect this area, and don't even have mercy for kids. After all, pickpockets are more commonly kids than adults."
Red doesn't seem as impressed with that idea, even going so far as to pull a face when she mentions crepes. "But crepes are just sissy pancakes." There's a loud and exasperated sigh when he follows as painfully as he can, looking like someone who had just been given his marching orders. His feet drag along the ground, expression looking morbid even as his beautifully crafted crepes are handed to him on a paper plate.
It seems that any reservations on having this meal are quickly made void when he downs the first bite, clearly brightening. His crepes have ZERO fruit on them. Just sugar, cinnamon, syrup and some more sugar. Which he is clearly enjoying.
"I could smash 'em." The boy speaks with a mouth so full of crepe some comes flying back out. "You trained me really hard. I think I could take anyone down now!" Swallow.
Mushi watches Red as he eats. It's not like she hasn't taken care of kids before. Some of the aspiring healers at the medical center had wandered in and began tutelage in their single digits. But it's different with Red somehow. She lets out a small sigh. She suspects they aren't going to find Goh here. He's in the Land of Hot Springs hiding at a ryoka, soaking it up. Somewhere far from traffic. How could he leave this little boy? The thought that he might be dead though is too dreadful; she hasn't even been able to voice it. Has this kid considered it?
Her gaze has turned worried. She struggles to clear it up and enjoy her crepes. And she smirks when he says he can take any of the guards. "If you can't take me, you can't take those guards," she says. "Don't get carried away with any power you get in the future."
"Eeeeehhh? You think these guards are better than you?" His nose wrinkles as he turns to face the guards in question, his pupils looking them up and down in an appraising manner. "Na. I don't think so. But s'alright. I won't cause trouble. I don't wanna get thrown out. Um," He begins, noting that Mushi is suddenly looking down. "Are your crepes no good? That's what happens when you put fruit on them."
Finishing off his meal in the next few minutes, the now rounded bellied form of Red stands up clenching slightly raised fists. "Now I'm full and ready to go!" Eyes dart around at the many, many people in the fair. There were legitimately heaps of them all around!
"Where are the picklers?"
Mushi observes the guards for a minute and says, "You can never know until you try someone. You know, I used to underestimate people without 'names' who weren't 'worth' knowing. Then I had a run-in with a bunch of yakuza. I would've handled it…except for one. I have no doubt he was an S-rank class shinobi. That kind of man just living in a no-name, out of the way village. I nearly died. It was all I could do to get away. After that, I've learned that even 'ordinary' shinobi can pop up from anywhere."
She smiles at Red. "What are you going to become? A famous name worthy of people challenging brawls to? Maybe you can do that before we find your father, maybe you can give him a run for his money. Let's go." They'd head for the pickled section, but smell it before they saw it. And there it would be, stands of different pickled products, samples, displays, all kinds of things. Mushi's nose wrinkles.
"I'm happy to become a kid who never has to smell pickled vegetables again." Red lifts his index finger and thumb to pinch his nose when the duo arrive in the designated area, the smell truly overpowering for someone not used to it. Yet still, many people were in this area. All sampling the various pieces of veg for sale. It's a booming industry!
"I don't see Dad anywhere." Red's excitement has died considerably, the youngster standing a little smaller as his vision does not pick up the form of Goh.
He wasn't here.
What IS here however, is something that Mushi might find familiar. Over in the corner, with various ceramic pots placed upon it, is an orange rug with embroidered details along the edges. It's Goh's. Or at least, WAS his. The very rug he used to sit on and sell his goods. Even the ceramic pots that sit atop of it look similar. Yet the man selling the stuff is certainly not the pickler. It's a far older gentleman, with a bald head and a scraggly grey beard.
All of this detail has gone completely by Red. He was looking for the man himself. Not his tools.
Mushi doesn't look surprised when the pickler isn't amongst them. She's reaching out to comfort Red when she notices that orange rug. For a long moment she stares at it, not quite believing. Then she seizes Red's hand and drags him along with her to the salesman. "Your wares are wonderful," she says with a smile. But she's looking at that orange rug, and eyeing the merchandise on top of it. She smiles to the man. "I'm Mushi," she says, "and I'd like to ask you about this orange rug. I believe I know its previous owner. Can you tell me what you know of it? And perhaps what you know of the man who had it?" Her voice is polite, but her eyes are focused and intense. They'd hold anyone captive.
"Wo—eagh!" That's pretty much the noise that Red makes when Mushi grabs his hand so suddenly, the boy dragged along to the corner stall. He squints, still unsure of why they're here. He seems confused by the questions that Mushi asks though, looking up at her. Then down at the rug.
"I don't… want any trouble, Ma'am." The older figure is certainly that. Older. Easily into his late seventies, if not his eighties. Hard leathery skin formed from a brutal life on the land makes him look even older. Eyes seem like they're in a state of being permanently shut, or just open wide enough to see a few feet in front of him. Every word is said slowly, as if some thought has been put behind every sound. "This is the stand of a Mr. Goh. I am his employee. If you want to know about who owned it before that, you had better ask him."
Red is stunned, staring wide eyed at the older figure.
"Did you want to buy some pickled potato? It is a house specialty."
Red's cheeks swells, and he can feel himself nearly barfing up his crepe at the mere mention of pickled potato. He keeps it down though, not wanting to make a mess. Instead, he opens his mouth to SAY something.
"You old pruney bastard! Tell us where my Dad is!" The bark is not meant with an answer. Just a quiet stare.
Mushi's face lights up. Goh is alive! Maybe he's on another continent, but he isn't dead. At least, that's since this man last saw him. Her smile settles back to a pleasantly calm one. She puts a light hand on Red's shoulder, telling him to stay still and listen. "Goh is the man we're looking for," she says. "This boy is his adopted son, as you can see." Red's face is enough to show he isn't acting. But Mushi is rummaging in her pack. "Plenty of your stuff looks great," she says, drawing out a temptingly fat purse of ryo. "How about you help me out with what you think I should buy? But first can you tell me what you know about Goh-kun? I'm Nikumari Mushi, he might've mentioned me. If you have any information I'd be very grateful." And her gratitude would be both emotional and monetary.
The old man squints at Mushi carefully, appearing to take a good long while to consider her. Then he looks to Red, appraising the youth. Adopted son? He didn't care too much about that.
The fat purse of ryo DOES get a caring look though as he clears his throat. "I am nothing more than a mere employee," He reminds the pair. "I have not seen him for… nearly three months. Last I saw him we were at the marketplace in Kumogakure. I do not know where he is now. I get his goods by shipment. Every Saturday I get a new crate in through the S.S. Bundy. It's the main transport for market goods along the coast."
Red stays quiet for now, trying to take all of this information in.
"I'm sorry. He did not mention you. I have heard of you though. You are the healer, right? Does Mr. Goh need healing?" Then, he waves a hand.
"Pickled ginger is a good product. It sells well."
"Three months ago," Mushi says in disappointment. "Then he won't be there any longer. He wanders faster than that." Anything else the man might say is probably hypothesis. Abruptly Mushi pays for a great deal of pickled ginger. "Quite a bit more to buy at your stall," Mushi says, with a mischievous glint in her eye. "He doesn't need any healing. We'd just like to meet him once again. Is he in good health? What did he say he was going to do? He didn't seem to be in any trouble, did he?" She nudges Red, to let him know he might do as he please. Say anything, ask questions. At this point it's turned to conjecture.
"I… I don't know." The man responds to the rapid-fire questions fired from Mushi. "He looked in good nick. I do not know if he was in trouble. He did not say what he was going to do, or where he was going to go." As Mushi pays for the huge amount of pickled veg, and in particular the ginger, he seems to swallow. "If you want to find him, your best bet would be to find out who is loading the stock that is being sent to me. There would be a trail." A withered old finger with a gross, crusty fingernail atop points to the port.
Red doesn't ask any questions. He's too busy looking horrified that Mushi is buying so much of the pickled stuff! His face looks like it's seen a ghost, before he takes a step back. The smell was becoming overpowering. "Cut your fingernails, old man." It's the only thing on his mind.
Mushi is listening closely to all the information (or lack thereof) the old man has to give. "Thank you," she says. She's reaching for her purse again when all Red can think of saying is to…cut his fingernails? Mushi stares at the boy in horror. Then she'd thump him on the head so hard his knees might buckle. "Don't be rude," she says. She's putting the pickled ginger on a scroll, and then storing it away. But she'd also buy the orange rug and ceramics, much to the vendor's delight. "If you ever see Goh-kun again tell him we're looking for him. Tell him to contact me through Tokio at the Neutral Medical Center. I'll make it many times worth your while if you allow us to meet him." She'd practically bought out half his stall. Then she'd follow where his fingernails (which he does need to cut) are pointing. "By the way, what is your name?" she asks, just before they'd depart from the smelly area.
"Junko. I will keep all of that in mind. Tokio is who I will message." The man gives a brief nod to Mushi, no doubt grateful for the huge amount of ryo that he now had in his possession.
When Rud is thumped, his knees do indeed buckle. The boy winces, immediately lifting both of his hands to rub his skull with frenetic pace. "Ow-ow-ow-ow…" As he straightens up he turns, beginning to head for the Port with still weak knees. "Let's go find this ship, Mushi."