Date: December 13, 2016
Reina, who left Tea Daimyou Nagamura Shuuren's employ without warning just before a poisoning attempt on him, runs into some bounty hunters in Fuuma Alley.
"The Wanted Poster"
Land of Rice Paddies [Fuuma Alley]
The Land of Rice is, not surprisingly, made up primarily of a rambling collection of rice paddies, each attended by multiple farmers. The farmers spend most of their days performing this work in shallow pools of water, collecting the grains of rice that are both food and livelihood. The various "tiers" of paddies canvass the sloping hills, but there also are narrow dirt roads that wind their way through, to allow travel both by farmers and by others, such as traders, without risking damage to the rice stalks.
One road in particular, broader than the others, cuts a path at an angle through the paddies, heading towards the dark outline of a city proper. Fuuma Alley is not too far off, perhaps a couple hours of walking, but it is distant enough that the thick black smoke and occasional flickers of fire do not seem to taint the air as much as they do in the city itself. At sunset the silhouette of the city makes it appear to be some sort of titanic, demon centipede, with spikes that spew hellfire and ash into the atmosphere protruding from its back.
On our way from point A to point B, Aburei and Reina find themselves in Fuuma Alley. Convenient how it so often seems to be in between places. :) Anyhow, Aburei looks around at the mean streets and of course sees people in need. "I wonder if there's anything we can do to help folks while we're here," he ponders aloud.
Meanwhile, a few eyes are on the travelers as well…
Reina's eyes are dark with wariness as they go through Fuuma Alley. She's not the only one. People are either victimizing or victims here. And looking ready to throw down is one good way to ward off the bullies. Which is why Aburei looks as gentle as he always does, and Reina wears the expression of a Yakuza thug who has come to collect. "No," Reina says. "To help people they need to /want/ to be helped. You know, back in my younger days I myself led a band that operated from here. And I can tell you from experience even if you tried to help, there's too many people profiting from making others suffer here. You'd be in danger."
Aburei scratches his head. "Profiting from making people suffer? I know there are plenty of ways people try to get money that cause others to suffer, but I don't see how the suffering itself benefits them. Why should they care if we tried to help them out a bit? It'd be sort of like a fox objecting to chickens being fed."
The traffic behind Aburei and Reina changes subtly. A number of men in tattered cloaks just so happen to be moseying in the same general direction. "That her?" murmurs one to another. "Think so," comes the muttered reply. "She looks a little different than on the poster, but nothing that couldn't be done with a little effort."
"My wording is a bit off," Reina says. "There are trades people know. Extortion, blackmail, violence, lying, underground marketing, and other things that just…disregard the fact that it results in suffering. Besides, charity only lasts for a finite amount of time. If you have a better idea though I'm all ears."
That's when she notices they're being followed. And it's by more than one person. Reina places a hand on Aburei's arm. "One of us is being followed. And it's probably me. Some people know me here…" Clearly, she considers this an incident that came from the distant past. She looks at Aburei. "You should go."
Aburei shrugs. "I realize it's a never-ending struggle. 'The poor you will always have with you,' like He said. But that's no excuse to do nothing. At the very least, I'm sure I could find a few sick folk to — " Aburei glances down at Reina's hand. "Huh? Go? Where?" c.c
"Hold it right there." A man at the front of the coalescing procession speaks up, throwing the folds of his cloak back over his shoulder. He has a short beard and a flinty look in his eyes. "That's some cute make-up, but it don't fool me none. There's a certain gentleman back in the Land of Tea who wants a word with you, missie. You comin' quietly?"
Reina flicks Aburei hard against the head. He really is oblivious. This is the point where he should high tail it! Problem is he'd stay all the more because there was danger. For that he gets another flick, before she turns back to the flinty eyed man. And she looks mildly surprised, but just for a moment. "I'm afraid I don't know what you're talking about," she says blandly. "I'm…Abura. And I have no idea who you are. We're going." And she'd do just that, making to leave without a confrontation.
Aburei winces. "Ow! What was that f — ow!" Oh, right, tense situation developing. c.c Aburei actually does wander off to the side of the street, figuring he'll just be in the way. The men eye him suspiciously, but make no move to intercept him. "Abura, huh?" the lead man drawls unimpressed. "Reckon you've gone by a mess of different names. Y'got five seconds before things get ugly." Aburei waves his hand. "Oh, hey, is this about that poisoning thing? She told me about that, it wasn't her that did it." There, aren't you glad to have a friend to stick up for you, Reina-chan? n.n
…Everybody stares at Aburei for a second, then looks back to Reina. "Git 'er," barks the lead man, foregoing the threatened countdown. While the men dash forward, five of them all told, the leader does some handseals. Earthen blocks erupt from the street around Reina's feet, trying to clamp against her ankles.
She might be able to get out of this, so long as Aburei doesn't give her away. He'd probably do something dumb like call her by her name, which is why she pre-emptively made up a new one. She's mentally greasing up her hands to outwit these guys. When Aburei drops her entire identity like a boulder in a puddle. Reina stares at Aburei along with the rest. Is he that innocent…or that dumb? If she gets out of this she's going to do more than flick him. As it is she leaps back to put some distance between the charging man, and chucks a few kunai at them, namely their guts. "Aburei-kun," Reina says. "You should get out of here. It's not your fight."
Aburei holds his hands out in alarm when Reina starts chucking knives. "Ah! Careful, or you really will end up with a murder charge!" O.O; Fortunately for Aburei's conscience, these guys aren't exactly slouches themselves, and deflect Reina's attacks with drawn blades of their own. They move to encircle Reina, apparently well-honed at working as a unit. The leader bends down to touch the street, then stands up with clods of dirt stuck to his fingertips. He fires them toward Reina's lower legs, and the others close in with swords held up to bar Reina from escape.
Reina shoots Aburei a look. "Do you really not know what kind of person I am?" she asks, which may mean any number of things. Her look is dark with meaning. But she doesn't have time to ruminate on her nature because they're closing in from all sides. The area around Reina is becoming uncomfortably hot, to the point anyone nearby would probably be sweating bullets. Then a gust of heat would blast back, repelling everybody nearby with buffeting force. Reina makes a few hand seals, and the next attack comes from above. Columns of wind that'd drop down, pinning her attackers to the ground.
The men wince and try to push through at first, but stinging eyes and burning skin forces them to retreat. Then they're caught under a blustering blast of wind — all except the leader, who manages to crouch down and put a semi-dome of earth over himself. The effect is almost the same in that he can't go much of anywhere until the gale dies down, but he can still move his hands, which is of course a critical difference. "You're the person who saved me from that crazy doctor!" Aburei calls out while the flinty fellow goes through hand-seals. A wave of stone spikes comes popping out of the ground, traveling in Mushi's direction.
Yeah she did do that one good deed. He probably won't let her live that down. She huffs. When the men fall, she takes a quick look around the battlefield. Most are down, one is on the defensive, and so Reina's strategy is simple. She runs! Even if she wins it's a no-win situation, since she's likely beating up her Shuuren's subordinates. She needs to get some distance, and think of what to do. She leaves Aburei behind too. Maybe she's counting on them focusing on her. Or maybe she's just leaving him high and dry. However she doesn't go far. Just out of sight, around the corner. Waiting and listening.
The men get up and take chase as soon as the wind lets them up. One of them pauses to pull out a rolled-up paper and toss it at Aburei. "Kid, I don't know your story, but you need to keep away from that'n! She's a hardened criminal, and she'll stab you in the back the moment it's convenient!" Aburei picks up the paper and unrolls it as the man dashes after his compatriots. He studies it for a moment, then…chuckles. Then laughs out loud. Aburei runs in pursuit of the band. "REINA-SAN! YOU MIGHT WANNA WASH YOUR HAIR!" XD
Meanwhile, of course, Reina's hunters aren't stopping to ask questions. The leader splits off and bounds over the roofs to the other side of the path Reina fled down, while the main group comes up from behind. "End of th'trail, missy." The leader raises a wide, tall wall of earth which slowly pushes toward Reina, forcing her toward the drawn swords of the posse.
Now that Aburei has seen her as a redhead, he'll notice that's about all that's changed. It wasn't a disguise to conceal her from everyone, so much as make her less recognizable at a glance. Reina glances around at the men. "A hardened criminal, ehh?" she says. "Guilty until proven innocent. But from my perspective it's all of you who look like the bandits." She chews her lip. If she's backed into a corner she won't go down easily. In fact, from the glint in her eye, it's her plan to back them into a corner.
That's when Aburei comes up, breathtakingly loyal. Reina almost covers her face in mortification. How did she end up with such an upright kid following her? But she doesn't cover her face; she's using her hands to make seals. And then scalding heat would start to shimmer in the air, almost boil, alive with chakra. They'd engulf her pursuers. Overpowering heat that'd sear inside and out.
Feeling the heat even from behind his wall, the leader narrows his eyes. "FALL BACK!" he shouts, and his subordinates are quick to comply. "Consarn it!" one of them spits as they tumble away from the heat. "How come we ain't heard tell of her havin' a power like that!?" "That's because you've got the wrong person!" Aburei says, catching up. "Lemme talk to her for just a sec." Aburei walks over to Reina and holds up the paper. "Look familiar?" :)
Staring at Reina from a wanted poster is, of course, herself! Or rather, herself the way she CURRENTLY looks, with silvery hair. If you look closely, the nose is a bit smaller and the jaw is leaner, the sorts of things that could be added to with a little disguise know-how. Under the picture, the poster reads, "ENZO DOKUMIN/WANTED REGARDING ATTEMPTED POISONING OF TEA OFFICIAL TORU ICHIMON/500,000 YEN REWARD".
They're preparing to have a fight to the finish when Aburei interjects. Reina seriously considers giving him a clout in the face, when he shows her a strange picture. She squints closely at the picture. "This wench doesn't look a thing like me!" she yelps. "And who the heck is Toru Ichimon?" She crumples the paper up and hurls it at the leader. Though it being paper would obviously have little harm beyond it. She covers her face with her hands in mortification. She is being far too jumpy about that whole poison-the-Daimyo thing. Although her actual supposed crime is ten times bigger than whoever Toru Ichimon is. She places her hands on her hips. She turns and flicks Aburei. "You're insufferable."
The leader lowers his earth wall just in time to be plinked in the face by a wadded paper. B| Aburei chuckles helplessly as Reina flicks him. n.n; "Eh-heh, sorry Reina-san. Hold on, I think they're not quite convinced yet." Aburei pinches a tiny lock of Reina's hair, then snips it off close to the base with a chakra scalpel. He then takes the hair over to the lead bounty hunter and hands it to him. "See? Her roots are red. She dyed her hair that color recently." The leader inspects the hair closely. "Hrm. Sure 'nuff…and if she were really Dokumin tryin' to lay low, she'd dye her entire hair some other color, not just the roots." The leader waves for his crew to put away their weapons. "Reckon we owe you an apology, miss." The leader looks at Aburei again. "What was that about a poisoning she said she wasn't part of, though?" e.e "Oh, the Tea Daimyou," Aburei says without thinking.
*…WIND SWEEPING THROUGH…A TUMBLEWEED PASSES BY…*
The leader straightens his hat. "Well, you keep some interesting company then, pilgrim, but you can stop worrying about that one. They already figgered out who done it."
Reina looks as if she's seriously considering stopping Aburei. Hair is an important thing to a girl. But what's a little hair compared to proving her innocence? When the leader brings up some /very/ amazing news Reina blinks. Her face registers nothing but shock. Then she lets out a sigh of relief. "I'm certainly glad they caught the guy who poisoned Shuuren-kun," she says. The relief in her voice is evident. "I knew it'd only slow him down a bit." She beams at the men. "You know if it was me who poisoned the Daimyou, I certainly wouldn't be dumb enough to be so easily discovered. And who tries to kill the best medic in the world…with poison? (C'mon.)"
But now she regards the men. "About that apology…there's a way you can repay me. We're hungry. If you'd treat us to a nice dinner, I'll even put a good word in for you when I return to the Daimyou. You're very skillful." Then she'd proceed to cajole and flatter them into being their meal ticket for the day. Anything can happen in Fuuma Alley.