Date: November 1, 2014
Atsuro, Kenta and Tsukino finally gets together again after their investigation of the missing Immortality Scroll was derailed by the Silence attack on Konoha. They meet at one of the hospital's laboratories to go through the satchel that the red haired thief left behind at the Temple of Embers. Tsukino eventually discovers an Uzumaki concealment technique on a kimono and manages to break through it to find a highly complex, yet incomplete seal inked into the silk. What little she understands indicates that the finished product is supposed to sever or suppress the power of another seal placed on an individual or object. This leads to another discussion about the possibility that the thieves were being controlled by another person. Tsukino reveals information about a presumed dead Uzumaki girl named Natsumi, who was stolen away by a giant fishing hawk at the age of six. Atsuro brings out the file on Inuzuka Takato, which indicates that he also went missing at the age of six after getting swallowed by a giant duck. Both cases have similar threads running through them. Kenta analyzes a pond scum stain on a stack of futa paper from the satchel and finds micro-organisms that's usually found in the southern most waterways of the Land of Fire.
"This Immortal Coil - Ink in the Cloth"
Konoha - Hospital Laboratory
It's nearly two months since the Immortality Scroll, as Kenta dubs it, was stolen from the Temple of Embers. Things have been a mess since then due to the Silence attack on the Land of Fire. It meant no shortage of tasks for every shinobi in Konoha and all the laboratories in the hospital were booked full to deal with tests required from the large influx of patients. It's only now that Kenta finally manages to reserve one of the labs for a few hours of private use. Hopefully, the thieves hadn't had much time to do further mischief during the delay.
Kenta arrives at the laboratory first out of the three people scheduled to use it. It's mainly because he was already in the hospital to do some work. The young medic-nin is wearing a clean set of scrubs with a lab coat over it. His hair is still damp from the shower that he took. Kenta had also sent a note to Tsukino and Atsuro to clean thoroughly before they enter the lab. One of the most important things about using a sterile environment to do their investigative work is to make sure that the amount of contaminants brought inside is minimum. Kenta checks to make sure that all the equipment is in working order while he waits for the other two to arrive. It's unlikely that he'll need to do more than use some of the microscopes, but who knows what surprises the rogue Uzumaki that they fought left behind in her satchel.
Tsukino came to the hospital a bit ahead of schedual so she could use one of their showers. So when she emerged she wrung out her hair then asked a nurse to braid the wet mass of deep crimson hair. Once that was done she donned sterile clothing. Placing her usual clothing in a locker, Tsukino brought with her just a single belt of pouches and the scroll they were supposed to be examining today. She entered the lab quietly, looking around. Soon this would be her domain as well and it was kind of daunting. She would have a lot of studying to do before that came about though.
She offered a bow to kenta and brought over the scroll, setting it on a cleared table. Unrolling it and placing a beaker on the paper end to keep it down. This exposed the seals that kept the satchel inside. She would wait to unseal it until all three of them were present.
"Hello, Kenta-san. How are you today?"
Following Kenta's instructions, Atsuro has scrubbed himself down in the shower and scrubbed Taizen down in the bath before coming to the hospital. He wears his usual shirt, but it's been meticulously cleaned, and he wears it buttoned up and tucked into his pants. His vest and equipment are missing, as is Taizen's vest. They've taken all this cleanliness business quite seriously. In fact, they only have two other items on them: their identifications, and a file containing the findings of their own research. They're ready for this!
The door to the lab opens, and one of the technicians stands in the doorway. "In here, Inuzuka-san." Then Atsuro and Taizen appear, walking into the lab. "Thanks," Atsuro says to the technician. He starts to look around the lab, but stops as his eyes reach Kenta and Tsukino. "Both here already," he says, "Good!" He claps his hands once. "Let's get down to business." He puts the file on the nearest unoccupied counter. "Hello, Kenta. Hello, Tsukino," says Taizen.
Kenta lifts his eyes off a microscope that he had been examining. The young medic-nin bows shallowly to Tsukino. He straightens back up and knuckles the small of his back to relieve a minor ache there. "Konichiwa. It's been a busy morning, so I'm a little tired. But I'm glad that we finally have a chance to examine the contents of the satchel. It's been eating at me for a while now. How about you?"
Kenta turns to bow deeper when Atsuro and Taizen enters. "Taizen-senpai. Atsuro-senpai," he greets somberly. The Chuunin squints his eyes at the human pair of his higher ups. There's something different… something to do with that shirt. Wait, no exposed abs! That makes Kenta blinks a few times. "Ummm… Right, let's get to business. What's that you just put down, Atsuro-senpai?"
Tsukino looked up and smiled to Atsuro and Taizen, bobbing her head to Atsuro and reaching out to scratch behind Taizen's ears. "Hello Taizen-san, Atsuro-san." The Uzumaki princess watched as Atsuro put the file down on the table. She peered at it curiously for a moment then she turned, looking Atsuro up and down. Her head tilted a bit, noting the shirt being buttoned for once but she didn't say anything.
At Kenta's suggestion that they get to work, Tsukino went through a few hand seals before she placed her palm on the sealed scroll. A poof and a second later the satchel sat on the table waiting to be dug through. She stepped back, looking to Kenta for a lead here. She'd never done anything like this before and did not wish to make a mistake.
"Oh yeah," says Atsuro, "Uh, hi everyone!" He glances at the file. For once, eagerness has overridden chattiness. He grins and take a look at Kenta. "Look at you," he says, "You look so professional in that doctor uniform. Costume. Outfit?" He picks up the file again. "Oh this?" he asks, "I made a copy of the clan records on Takato. It has some useful information." His lips flatten slightly. "I don't know if it has any actual leads, though. Anyway, since we're in the lab, we should probably do this analysis first, right? Speaking of, what exactly does this involve? What will we find out?"
"Uniform," Kenta replies to Atsuro after taking a second to think about the question. He tugs a pair of latex gloves over his hands with a double snap. Then, he pulls two more pairs from a container for Atsuro and Tsukino. There's nothing for canine helpers, so Taizen will just have to refrain from handling anything directly. "It's hard to tell what we're going to find out until we actually start taking a look at the contents. I know that we took a quick peek back at the Temple, but nothing thorough. It's possible that there's something inside hidden compartments in the satchel. We might also be able to find some other clues by inspecting the materials under a strong microscope and look for substances such as plant matter and organisms not from this region."
Since he's probably the most experienced at this type of stuff among the four of them, Kenta goes to open the satchel himself. He carefully brings the contents out one by one to place them in an easily accessible row on the clean counter space. There's a pair of lacquered hairsticks with carvings on it, a bundle of clothing, a stack of blank futa tags stained on one end by a gritty brown substance, a big packet of jasmine tea, another packet of traveling rations and finally some writing utensils.
Tsukino watched Kenta put on the gloves and was glad she came prepared this time. She bent down and laid out a small scroll before she tapped it and some jerky and a large bone popped into existance before Taizen. She smiled at the nin-ken. She hadn't thought he could do much if kenta wanted the sterile envoronment, so she'd brought a few things for Taizen.
Thhen she accepted the gloves, slipping them on delicately as though they were lace and not latex. She nodded understanding as Kenta went through the list of things they might find useful within the satchel. She set her hands on the table. "Be careful not to rip tags or foorce something to move. There are booby traps made like that. And several I'm sure I don't know about." But it seemed there was no danger as Kenta began pulling out items. Tsukino looked over the hairsticks and clothing, curious for them to be laid out. "The clothes should tell us what conditions she's living under at least." Princess or slave it all showed in the clothes and how clean they were kept.
Unless Kenta stopped her, though, she would reach out to examine the writing utensils. A practiced eye flickered over them, new or used? Which side was the brush bent? Was there ink stain on the britles? S lot could be told by such details.
Unaccustomed to using medical gloves, Atsuro very carefully handles them only at the bottom of the glove with the tips of his fingers, then fumbles them onto his hands with a septuple snap. He and Taizen share a glance. "Somehow I feel like I might not be too useful here…" Taizen gives what appears to be the dog equivalent of a shrug, then picks the jerky and bone up in his mouth and moves backwards away from the analysis.
Atsuro quickly looks over each of the items in the satchel as they appear. How can they find out where the group is operating out of with just these items? "Does the tea have any labelling? Any sign that it's been imported?" he asks, "I suppose if we have to, I could visit a tea shop and compare the smell with different blends. Speaking of…" He walks over to the tags and uses his hand to waft the air around the brown substance under his nose, inhaling slightly and trying to identify it by smell.
"They're pretty clean," Kenta announces when he starts spreading out a long kimono to inspect it. The material is white silk with pink peonies embroidered along the ledges of the cloth. There isn't a single spot or stain on it, which makes sense, since it must have been an expensive purchase. It doesn't really fit the rest of the outfits. The other pieces of clothing are fair more utilitarian in their appearance. There's a plain pair of navy pants, a shirt with a double row of buttons in front, some feminine undergarments… most of them are faded from use, but not stained either.
The writing implements that Tsukino are inspecting seems to be very well used. There's an black inkstone carved to look like a flipped over tortoise shell along with an inkstick carved with subtle lines to mimic wood grain. One end of the stick is very worn while noticeably grooves in the inkstone's well show the favored pattern of the owner when she grind her own ink. Touching the inkstick makes Tsukino's fingers tingle slightly. The brush is a new one, probably only used a couple of times, since the bristles are still tightly bundled together. No block of dried ink is included with the writing utensils, but a faintly bittersweet scent clinging to the items indicate that the owner preferred a blend different than the norm.
"I should also take a sample of the tea to figure out what exactly is in it," Kenta mentions while he watches Atsuro sniffs at the brown stain on the futa tags. It looks a little like dried shit to him, but Atsuro's noise can tell something different. The stain is actually traces of mud mixed in with organic matter similar to dried algae or another form of pond scum. There's also an almost unnoticeable drop of ink splashed onto a single tiny corner of the topmost futa tag, only detectable by Atsuro because of the unique ink scent. Something else in the possessions give off even thicker waves of the same scent, but it's not the writing utensils. It's closer to where Kenta is standing than where Tsukino is.
Tsukino obviously could not scent as well as Taizen or Atsuro, but she did recognise that the ink was strange. She carefully lifted the inkstone and sniffed it lightly. "She uses a strange kind of ink. Perhaps she makes her own, or buys from a foreigner, but I've never smelledink like that." Not that she could remember…. Did she? She took a breath when the kimono was exposed. She looked sad then, somehow keeping her hands back and away from the items.
Her mind slipped away as they went on, her mind on the information her grandfather had sent her. Tsukino chewed her lower lip for a long moment. She wondered if this was a good time to mention what she'd learned and recieved from her grandfather or if she should cofus on the items themselves first… But that kimono was not something that just any servant could posess. It was well made.
Blue eyes narrowed and she bent closer to the Kimono's hem, looking very very closely at the embroidered peonies. What she saw made her furrow her brows. "This is…. There are seals embroidered into this fabric." Her statement was mostly neutral, there was just a hint of intensity as she tried to figure out what the seals meant….
Atsuro takes a couple more sniffs of the brown stain. "You might wanna take a sample of this too," he says, "Seems like she dropped these in a ditch or something." He knits his brows slightly as he catches the scent of ink coming from these cards. "There's actually a little bit of ink on this one. She might've dropped them while she was writing on them or something," he suggests, taking another whiff and trying to focus on the ink now. He puts down the tags, then starts sniffing at the air, trying to determine where that strong scent is coming from. "I'm smelling a lot of the same ink from over there," he says, "Are there also seals done in ink?"
Then he frowns slightly, seeming to forget about the extra ink for a moment. He glances at the file. "Maybe a lake…" He shakes his head. "Nevermind, that would be a little too much. Lemme see here…" He moves over to the package of rations and starts removing the individual food items, inspecting them both visually and by smell.
"Hmmm, I'm definitely going to need to analyze that brown substance. Different bodies of water have different signatures," Kenta tells Atsuro. He frowns at the kimono in his hands. "Are you sure that you see seals, Tsukino? I don't…" The young medic-nin leaves the kimono on the counter and walks off to get magnifying glasses. The young medic-nin returns quickly with two, one for himself and one for Tsukino. "You take one side and I'll take the other," he instructs her.
Kenta lowers his face to the kimono and inspects the embroidered edges of the fabric with his magnifying glass. "You're right. There are very subtle seals embroidered here and hidden by the peonies. I can't really tell what most of them are… I do know that this one means to hide… There's one that means change… A couple related to locking and unlocking… Maybe this kimono is defensive armor of some type. Wait…" Kenta takes a big sniff. Now that he's aware of it, the kimono smells like ink, even though it has no stains.
Tsukino can tell a little more from the seals. The pattern created by them is the focus of a subtle jutsu that only an Uzumaki would recognize. The characters are part of a set of seals that some of the more paranoid residents of Uzushiogakure would use to conceal secrets or deflect attention from an important object or location. The jutsu is mainly illusion base, but a strong one. The illusion can only be undone using a specific key, usually a long series of hand seals. Removing the seals directly once the jutsu is active rarely deactivates the jutsu itself. Like Kenta, Tsukino can also smell ink from the fabric when she puts her face close enough/
Meanwhile, the items that Atsuro are sniffing at don't reveal anything too damaging. The state of the traveling rations and the tea are still very good. They've been preserved very well and should last for several months unless they get wet. Maybe there's more, but scent doesn't tell much this time.
Tsukino looked up as Atsuro asked if there were seals on the ink as well and Tsukino tilted her head a bit, thinking. Then she looked at the ink stick again. Carefully she picked it up once more, that strange tingle noticeable when she paid it more attention. Was that a seal or something else? "It…It's possible there are seals carved into the ink, Atsuro-san. It tingles when I touch it." Considering she's wearing gloves…
She looked even more distracted, though as she turned back too the embroidery, trying to figure out what those specific seals meant… She couldn't remember and she'd left her books onseals in her satchel in the locker. Well, the next best thing would be to bring to seals with her. So she looked around until she spotted paper and a pen of sorts.She accepted the magnifying glass from Kenta with a wuiet 'thanks' and lowered her head to examine them closer. The Uzumaki princess then proceeded to copy the seals put together by threads. "My book is in the locker…I could be wrong but it looks like a stealth seal I saw my brother using when I was younger… He's a Jounin." She suplied that last statement more because her family was not well known in Konoha. Perhaps this was the time to mention the information Grandfather had sent her… Finally copying the lat markings of the seals to paper, Tsukino stood up and looked a touch nervous befoore she began.
"Either we can send someone to get my satchel in the lockerroom here or I can compare this to the books later, but if I'm right we don't want to be prodding at it or guessing. If I'm right it could incinerate the entire Kimono. It looks like seals meant to divert attention away from something. Usually they would be placed on something that needed to be hidden.. Perhaps she was trying to hide herself.. Or something could be sealed in the Kimono's fabric itself… If she's this far advanced and.. the Kimono and rations.. She … she has access to money and probably powerful people."
She looked to the side, uncomfortable with her next bit of iinformation. "By description and approximate age my Grandfather sent me information on one Uzumaki Natsumi…" she lowered her eyes then and her voice dropped. "If it really is her we might be dealing with a very powerful shinobi… She, if it really is Natsumi… She is one of very few that are able to use an Uzumaki-only ability." She hated talking about this clearly. And so she pointed at the seals. "Those are sensitive and unless we can figure out the correct seal sequence…" She made a guesture that suggested an explosion.
Atsuro sighs. "Can't all be crucial pieces of evidence, I guess." He sets the packages of ration down. He glances over to the hairsticks — the only things they haven't examined yet. He gives them a cursory examination, followed by some sniffing. He's not expecting to smell anything important or recognize any seals, but he may as well try, right. Once done there, he puts the sticks down and walks over to where Kenta and Tsukino are. "So there is ink on there," he says, "But I don't see it." He glances to Tsukino and shakes his head. "No, I was smelling ink from the clothes. I can't smell seals, just the material that makes them. And that kimono smells like ink."
He steps back slightly, leaning against an empty counter as Tsukino starts to speak about Natsumi. He nods slightly as she speaks. Then when she's done, he asks, "And she disappeared at some point? How old was she?" When the kimono is brought up again, he suggests. "Instead of worrying about the seals, why not work around them entirely? I bet I can smell them clearly enough to tell exactly where the ink is. If someone stretches it out, then I can stick my nose in close and sorta… trace the seals."
Kenta winces and steps back from the kimono. He lets the corner of fabric that he's holding drop from his hands. "Umm… that really won't be good. I don't want anything exploding inside this lab, especially while the four of us are in it. Tsukino, you're the most qualified person to figure out this Uzumaki seal, so you should take charge of that. Would Atsuro-senpai's idea work? I'll take a look at that brown stuff that Atsuro-senpai noticed while you give us information on this Natsumi person."
Kenta keeps his ears open, but he also bustles over to another part of the lab to get some more equipment. He quickly returns with a glass beaker full of water and a pair of tweezers. The top-most sheet of paper is carefully peeled off the stack of blank futa papers. Kenta sticks it inside the beaker and swirls everything around until the water turns a cloudy brown from material loosened from the stained paper. He brings it over to the strongest microscope inside the lab. The young medic-nin uses a dropper to place a bit of the cloudy water and a drop of chemical dye between two glass sides. Soon, he has his right eye pressed against the microscope as he inspects the substances in the water.
Tsukino nodded her agreement with Kenta that no one wanted an explosion or poisoned gas or whatever traps might be woven into the seals to go off by just testing different sequences. She nodded, though that she should work on the seals' decryption. She chewed on her lip a moment then nodded. "I'll be right back." With that she headed out of the room. She was only gone for a short time before she returned carrying an old tome. Hand bound and written in a calligraphic script that indicated it was done by a master rather than as a mass produced volume.
Setting the tome on the counter she flipped through several pages, each seemed to frustrate her further. Then she looked up and scanned the items before her… Blue eyes caught ont he hairsticks…. They're slender lengths of ebony protected by a layer of clear lacquer. Each one is thicker at one end, but tapers to an elegant point. But that wasn't what clicked in Tsukino's mind. When one looked closer, there were carvings of animals along each hairstick. "Wait a minute.." She reached out and grabbed the pen again, writing down an inscription below the seals on her paper. "I think I have it…" She flipped another page int he book, hand sewn and written in a calligraphic script that said it had been composed by a master, not mass produced. She nodded once more then looked up at Atsuro and Kenta. "I think I can release the Jutsu. Do you guys want to leave the room?"
"A simple no would have sufficed," says Atsuro, "Sheesh." Upon being told to vacate the room, he picks up his folder, then gestures to Taizen and heads out into the hallway. The dog has already eaten the jerky and is now just gnawing on the bone, so he easily picks it up and follows Atsuro outside. Out in the hall, Atsuro leans against the wall idly tapping his foot against the floor, and Taizen continues to gnaw on the bone while they wait to hear news from inside the lab.
Kenta lifts his head from the microscope. He opens his mouth to reply to Tsukino, but snaps it shut again. His nostrils flare as he takes in a deep breath, but he shakes his head at her. "I don't want to be in here in case that thing explodes, but I'm not going to leave you along in here either, Tsukino. I'll stay here with you. Maybe I can contain the blast somehow with a barrier technique if something happens. I really hope that you did figure out the way to unlock the jutsu though…" He licks his lips in a slightly nervous manner, but walks over to close the door securely behind Atsuro and Taizen. Then, he returns to stand by his team mate's side. Kenta's hands lift to make a series of hand seals for his strongest defensive technique, but he holds the second to last seal and doesn't form the final seal yet. "I'm ready," he says in a somber voice.
Tsukino had offered the option of leaving her alone in the room or taking their chances and staying to see what happened mostly because she couldn't give orders and reaally they were adult enough to choose for themselves. So Atsuro and Taizen left while Kenta stayed. She gave Kenta a soft smile that said she appreciated his protective nature. She would have been willing to do this on her own but it was nice to have a wingman so to speak.
Once Atsuro and Taizen were outside Tsukino waited as Kenta closed the door carefully and returned to her side. He went through seals of his own, holding back ont eh last as he prepared and once he said he was ready she nodded and focused. Slowly, deliberately, she moved through the seals in a specific order. Tiger, Ox, Tiger, Dog, Boar….. It was a long complicated jutsu but finally she took a breath and tapped the Kimono's seals lightly with her fingers, trying to unlock whatever they hid….
Kenta watches tensely as Tsukino performs her seals. The further along that she gets, the more alert he becomes. The medic-nin exudes concentration as if -he's- the one working the jutsu instead of his team mate. He sucks in a deep breath and holds it when Tsukino finally finishes and taps the kimono. Nothing seems to happen at first. Then, the entire kimono ripples. The illusion on it dissolves to reveal hundreds, maybe even thousands, of tiny seals written on the white silk in stark black ink. Kenta lets out his breath and gives Tsukino a shaky smile. "You did it!" he exclaims before running to open the door for Atsuro and Taizen to re-enter the place.
The seals written on the kimono are extremely complicated and must be the culmination of many years of work. It only takes a glance for Tsukino to tell that she won't be able to understand it completely without studying the intricate designs for quite a while. There -are- two things that she can tell right away. First, it's an -incomplete- work of art. It's missing the set of closing characters that would round out a seal of such complexity. There are also incongruent white patches between the masses of tiny black characters, as if the creator isn't sure what to put there yet. The second thing that Tsukino is able to decipher is that this is a nullification technique of some kind. Its purpose is to remove a specific permanent seal from an object or person, but she can only guess what type of seal it'll remove.
Tsukino watched the kimono as she tapped the silk, expecting a backlash. She was nearly as tense as Kenta but her breeding showed in that she looked more prepared than scared. Kenta exclaimed and she smiled brightly at him. When he turned his back to her to retrieve Atsuro, though she took a deep breath. That had been rather nerve wracking….
She bent over with the magnifying glass, trying to read the seals that wwere on the fabric, visible now. "Maybe it's some kind of ..armor… Or something?" She looked up at them, a but out of her depth here. Even Grandfather had not spoken of these kinds of seals to her….
Indicating the spaces of blank fabric she said, "These are missing passages. And another here and here.. Without those this seal structure isn't complete… It's very advanced. I'll have to study it very closely to give you much more about it. All I can say otherwise is that it seems to be a work that severs a connection of some kind. It's like she was trying to separate a person or thing from the seals wrought on or in it."
The hallway is not particularly stimulating, so it comes as a relief to Atsuro when he hears that cry from Kenta and heads back into the lab. Taizen follows him in and takes his position off to the side. "What've we got?" he asks, folding his arms and leaning against the counter. The faintest smile appears on his face when she's finished explaining. "I think I know precisely what kind of connection it severs," he says, "Actually, it might be a bad thing that we took the kimono away from her. Now that you've disabled those seals she used to hide the ink, can you get them working again? And, can you tell us anything else you know about this girl? I'm guessing she was abducted or suddenly vanished at some point. Or maybe there was something suspicious about her mother?"
Kenta returns to Tsukino's side with excitement on his face. His hungry eyes take in all the intricate characters written on the kimono. "So we did get something valuable after all. I hope this can lead us to the scroll somehow. If nothing else, I bet that girl would want this back. She might not have a second copy." The young medic-nin sighs softly. "I can probably help you decipher this, but I bet that some of the things that she's using is Uzumaki-only. I don't want to learn village secrets by mistake… Ummm… maybe you can study it for a few days to make sure there's nothing in it that your grandfather won't want me to know. If there is, you'll have to keep studying it on your own. Otherwise, I'll help."
A frown appears on Kenta's face when Atsuro mentions that having the kimono might not be a good thing. "Why, Atsuro-senpai? Are you worried that the red-haired girl… Natsumi… will come after her property? It'll be hard for her to sneak into Konoha to steal it. That'll be doubly true if we can get Hokage-sama to place it in a secure location that only Tsukino and a few selected people are granted access too. It's currently our only lead for retrieving the scroll. Hokage-sama would know how imporant that is…" Kenta lets his voice trail away to give Tsukino a chance to reply to the questions asked of her.
Tsukino looked down at the kimono with a frown when Atsuro suggested that she should reactivate the illusion jutsu. She wanted to study the seals and calligraphy before her and reactivating the jutsu would hide it again. Atsuro had a point, though. So when Kenta asked about it Tsukino folded her arms and spoke up. "Well, if this was designed to protect the wearer from the 'reverse summoning', she would be left with no defense without the kimono….In fact this suggests that she is being held or forced to act against her will." She sighed softly.
To Atsuro's question she spoke, but looked quite uncomfortable. "She was born around the same time as me but in the Land of Wind. Her mother was Uzumaki, her father was Amaro. When the clan found her they… discovered she had the right chakra for an ability that is rare amongst even the Uzumaki clan." She couldn't look them in the eyes, but if they could see her eyes they could see a kind of guilt and stress in them, a trigger. Her shoulders tensed. "The ability to create chains from pure chakra. It takes a lot of practice but you need a certain kind of chakra to use them.. They are hard to master… hard to control." She looked to the side. "According to reports a giant Fishing Hawk plucked her from the playground when she was 6. She was presumed dead ever since."
"I don't know how seals work, so I can't say whether or not it's a lead in /that/ respect," says Atsuro, "I dunno, maybe there's something about the location in there somewhere." He shrugs in a highly exaggerated manner, "I am but a simple swordsman." He nods to Tsukino, "Precisely! Imagine that someone is holding them in captivity, using seals to control them. Any thought of escape is totally pointless while those seals are still in the picture. So she starts figuring out a way to get them /out/ of the picture. But her captor won't just let her do that, so with painstaking care, she hides her escape seal with another set of seals, hidden by other means. Now, of course that only makes sense if this captor exists. And she does!"
Smiling with self-satisfaction, Atsuro opens Takato's folder. "Inuzuka Takato was also seen as being exceptional by his clan, and he also disappeared at age 6. While on vacation, his family found a mysterious red-headed girl in a wild cherry orchard near the Land of Fire. She was in a confused and weakened state, and wasn't able to talk to them. But they later found a woman in a hamlet near the border claiming to be her mother. The girl didn't seem to want to go with the woman, though, and seemed interested in Takato's family. Eventually they made it to the Land of Hot Waters. Things seemed normal until one day Takato was swallowed by a giant duck while swimming in a lake." He snaps the file folder shut. "They couldn't find any trace of him," he says darkly, his dramatic flair disappearing quickly, "You'll notice that both Takato and Natsumi were captured by large birds. Three similarities between the cases, right?"
Tsukino's behavior makes Kenta curious, but his concern overrides that. The young medic-nin steps a little closer to her to offer her the comfort of his presence. "I've never heard of such an ability among the Uzumaki before. It must be extremely rare or treated as a secret, since it's unusual enough that people would take note of it. You don't have to tell us the exact details about her jutsu if you can't, Tsukino."
Kenta frowns when he hears the full extent of the background information that Tsukino and Atsuro discovered on the shinobi that they fought at the Temple of Embers. "That makes too much sense," he murmurs under his breath. He continues in a louder voice. "All this would explain the black seal that Atsuro-senpai saw on their foreheads before they were summoned away. It makes me feel a little bad for taking the satchel, but we couldn't just leave evidence lying around. And now, we might be in a better position to help. I just wish we know more about the hypothesized captor. It sounds like the little red haired girl in Takato-san's records is the same one that Tsukino heard about getting taken by a bird. Maybe that makes the 'mother' the captor. We don't know that much about her though…" Kenta holds up a finger. "But she must be very good at the summoning technique. Those giant birds were probably summons. Umm… and she's probably good at some types of seals too. I wish there's a way to dig up more information, especially -where- we can find our targets."
Tsukino looked at the kimono again and listened to Atsuro give his information about the Inuzuka boy, Takato. There were far too many similarities in the cases and clearly the red haired girl must have been Natsumi, weakened in order to lure the boy perhaps. All she knew was that the captor was ruthless and heartless…
"Grandfather said that there was nothing about summoning humans between locations but that there was precident for a summon creature to 'reverse summon' a human using the same technique, but in reverse, as we would summon Xun-sama for example."
She turned her attention to the ink on the kimono and furrowed her brow. "I might be able to finish this seal for her. If I can figure it out, I might be able to make a second garment to protect the boy as well as complete this inscription. I recognise some of it but I need to study it. Anyway we've had this for a while now, a few more days shouldn't make much difference. I do not want to make a mistake, though. I only wish to give the seals back if it proves that they are in need of rescue. With the Silence about it's possible that this is some form of a trap."
She didn't want to talk about the chains. Her eyes closed. Then she felt Kenta's touch and she looked at him hesitantly. She could read the concern there, but had it been anyone except kenta she would not have continued. As it stood, he deserved to know exactly what kind of person he had as a teammate… Breathing a sigh she spoke quietly. "I have the same type of chakra. I manifested the chains once before but I couldn't control them and….." Her throat tightened, forcing her to swallow. She rubbed her palms over the fabric of her leggings as if trying to wipe something away. "I killed …six men."
Atsuro nods solemnly to Kenta. "That's why I was hoping we could find something using the other items. Like, if we can use that pond scum to narrow it down to a certain region. Then maybe if we knew where something else came from, we could plot the two areas on a map and search in the area where they overlap." He turns to Tsukino. "The Silence is crafty," says Atsuro, "But I /knew/ Takato, remember. They couldn't have just made a false record about a fictional Inuzuka named Takato. If they faked his capture, they're brilliant. As for the seal itself… well, I assume you would know the best of the three of us. If you have time to study it, you'll be able to figure out if there's some kind of trap woven in there, right?" The confession is totally unexpected. "Oh…" he says. "Sorry to hear that." Taizen looks up from his bone. "I am sorry too, Tsukino," he says.
Kenta winces. He touches Tsukino's shoulder gently. "I know that saying it's not your fault won't really help. You should also remember that you've helped a lot of people, no matter what else you did. You can't change the past, only work towards a better future. Maybe… maybe this is also why you need to help that girl. If she has the same special chakra as you do, her captor could be exploiting her talents. We can't let that continue to happen." There's more that he wants to say, but he doesn't want to add his suspicions about Tsukino's past to the mixture just yet.
Kenta purses his lips. "So our remaining lead now is the pond scum. I better inspect it again right away…" The young medic-nin hurries to the microscope where he had left the slide. He bends down to align his eye with the eyepiece again. He keeps fiddling with the microscope's controls as he tries to check the slide under different resolutions and settings. Finally, he makes an excited exclamation. "Aha!"
Kenta keeps looking through the microscope while he explains what he found. "I found something in the scum. There's a type of rare brain-eating bacteria here that's only found in the far southern waterways of the Land of Fire. I can tell the difference because we a patient was infected with this amoeba last year. She visited family down south and did a lot of swimming. The unlucky girl snorted the amoeba up her nose while swimming. When she returned to Konoha, she stared getting headaches and hallucinations. It eventually led to an extremely high fever, seizures and brain hemorrhaging. Her brain looked like pudding when we did an autopsy. I only helped with the laboratory work, but I still…" Kenta sighs loudly.
Even in the unsure footing Tsukino felt she was in about why she was sensitive about the chakra chains she still managed to offer a small smile to Atsuro and Taizen. They didn't seem bothered by it besides the fact that they weresorry she'd gone through it at all. But would Kenta feel the same way? His words and tone soothed her a bit and some of the tension left her body, enough to visibly relax. But she remained quiet for the most part.
Atsuro's question made her nod. "Im confident that with Azuna-san's help I'll be able to decode it before I attempt to do anything with or to it. I ust need some time and my books to figure it out. So, Kenta-san, please set up a room where access can be restricted and I will study it as much as possible. Once I decrypt the existing seals I should be able to complete her work. Once that is done I'll make a second one to protect the boy."
Kenta's evidence revealed, Tsukino nodded slowly. "Then either they were travelling through the south or they are based there. Perhaps we can send some scouts to search for people matching their description." She looked at Kenta again, shifting a bit before she spoke again. "I'm going to run home and gather the books I need and then I'll be back to start working on this. And with that she headed for the door…