Date: February 13, 2013
Mission Objective - Pose as common folk driven from the lands around Konohagakure that came to Tokkuriji to look for work. Determine if the city holds tension against the shinobi of Konohagakure. The team found a local inn to gather information on the locals. Finding out about the catacombs, the Head Mistress Mariko of the Ladies of the Night (prostitutes), and a local thug Iwata Takeshi leads them team to split ways and investigate all three leads. Midori and Nori find and run from the Black Adder Cult, Hideaki speaks to Mariko and finds out she will remain neutral if the shinobi leave her alone, and Naru learns that Takeshi will poison any and all shinobi his large group of orphans and men run across.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Struggle With No Reward - Tokkuriji Village Infiltration"
Tokkuriji Village in the Land of Fire (an actual village in cannon)
The world of the shinobi is always a dangerous place, but this may be the first time that the enemy is domestic instead of foreign. When the Land of Fire's own citizens are the suspects of treason, who do you trust? Walking down the street just wearing your Konohagakure head-band breeds tension, flashy jutsu causes strife, and saying that you are here to help gets people all huffy…but what can you do when you really do think you are here to help?
Uchiha Narusegawa was given a mission, and the names given to join her were chosen for very specific reasons. The mission read:
Travel to the city of Tokkuriji in the Land of Fire. Take Uchiha Midori, Hayashi Hideaki, and Yamanaka Nori along with you. Pose as common folk driven from the lands around Konohagakure that came to Tokkuriji to look for work. Determine if the city holds tension against the shinobi of Konohagakure. If they do, infiltrate any gatherings and gather information. Do not engage citizens unless attacked. If attacked, use as little force as possible to ensure retreat. Report back any findings.
So, everyone has travelled to Tokkuriji already as a group of wayward vagabonds. Nori personally is dressed in his Fuuma Alley garb…no shirt, dirt smeared everywhere, hair up in a turbin, and pants made out of rags (are those the same rags from his winter jacket???). He asks, "So, what does everyone think we should do to…you know, get into the in crowd?"
Earlier on, despite his best efforts, Hideaki did a poor job hiding his distaste at being forced to dress down and dirty. Still, he has preformed the task admirable. His chuunin vest is well hidden under a baggy grey tunic, and his black slacks are wrinkled and bloodstained… Conveinently, the very pair that was rather ruined from assisting Nori only days ago. He glances over at the others. "If you will allow me, I think I have a thought-"
With that, Hideaki calls out to one of the passersby. Immediately, his voice changes, taking on a rural lilt. "'scuse me. We're travelers, displaced from our farm. Is there someplace we could rest for the night 'round here? We don't have much, but we'll give what we can for some shelter."
It was unusual for a mission to be organized against the citizens of the Land of Fire, however it was a necessary action in order to ensure stability throughout the land and of course Uchiha Narusegawa would whole heartly agree with such an assumption. Much like Nori the young Uchiha was adorned in clothing not at all traditional to her usual garbs. Instead her shoulders and upper half exposed remained to be exposed flesh. From her waistline all the way to her breasts her body was garbed in thick stained bandages, the bottom half of a hakama bellowed down by her ankles, wrinkled, partially ripped. She looked her part of a beaten mercenary, especially with the blade sheathed at her backside. " I do have some ideas…" Naru spoke softly, though with Hideaki taking the first notion, she abstained from blowing their cover for now… Nori was going to have a big part of this mission from his skillset, if they could get somewhere with a lot of people that would have been their best bet.
Midori had been highly surprised to find that she'd been given a mission, even one with as little conflict as this one. Maybe it would give her some extra credit towards graduating next time the Academy Exams came around? In that case, she might actually stand a chance of passing! Nevertheless, she'd travelled to Tokkuriji with a mixture of excitement, anxiety and fear. Of course, when she'd arrived the young girl had realised that her dainty, upper class kimono wasn't going to do her much good when it came to blending in, so she'd immediately headed for the shops to purchase a change in clothes, and when she returned to the group the young Uchiha was wearing a badly made, bright red skirt over ladder-riddled opaque black stockings and a tight black singlet top. She still didn't quite look as poor and downtrodden as the rest of the group, but she hoped that being the youngest would give her some sort of an edge. After all, no one ever suspects the child, right?
Nori isn't about to question the Chuunin, so as Hideaki calls out to one of the locals, Nori just waits and watches. The local man looks up and smirks, "Yeah, well…good luck with that. I thought I had a safe place to stay last night and I got robbed of what little I did have. Still, you guys are a group, I'm just one man. Maybe you'll fair better than I did." He considers it for a bit and states, "If you have any ryo," and the man looks at Narusegawa then, "there is an inn…but don't trust the inn-keeper. They also charge far more than they are worth. If you are anything like the rest of us, there's a few that are gathering beneath the city in the catacombs." He looks to Midori, "Have the girl ask the other street urchins where the entrances to the catacombs are. They won't give her as much grief as the rest of you. They'll be sweet on her from the looks of it." He winks and then turns and continues down the path out of the city.
Hideaki offers a swift, "Thank you, san," to the stranger before glancing towards the others. His voice drops to a murmur, so as to hide his previous act. "That was surprisingly informative, assuming it was all true. The catacombs sounds like the likely hotbed of unrest, especially since it is hidden from view." He then bows his head to Naru. "I apologize if I was overstepping earlier, Narusegawa-san. I did not want us to look too supicious by talking among ourselves overly much before reaching out the crowd. I follow your lead, of course."
Everything surprisingly went according to plan, Narusegawa honestly thought the stranger of a man would blow them off, however instead he decided to spill the beans right then and there and while the lead was conclusive…for some reason Naru wasn't completely convinced. Why would someone be so open about those details, a trap maybe? " We need to becareful, though this is the only lead we have thus far, it isn't a problem at all Hideaki-san, it seems like it was a good idea to say something," she says with a smile, though points off towards the village. " How about we head for the inn for now, we need to get as much information as possible before we settle upon what we should next,"
Midori's eyebrows skyrocket as she listens to Nori, and her mouth flaps open and closed as she tries to respond. Sweet on her? Surely he couldn't actually think Midori was pretty? But she finally lets out a sigh and nods. "Alright, I'll go talk to the street kids and see if I can find some entrances to the catacombs," she says, then bows politely to them and starts walking off into the streets to find some other kids to 'play' with. It doesn't take her long, and within half an hour she's headed towards the inn to meet back up with the team, the locations of two entrances to the catacombs already memorised.
Nori stares along blankly and then shrugs when Naru says the inn is their first destination. While Midori is off talking to the kids, it takes the rest of them that entire time just to find the inn. It seems the group lucked out with their first conversation because the rest of the locals give the group a hard time and send them in circles. Still, eventually they find the inn. Midori on the other hand would have been walked by the local boys to the inn without any issues.
Once inside the inn, there are a few patrons to talk to…and the barkeep. Two of the patrons look to be wealthy traders by some of the wares they are keeping underfoot (one quite literally). Another patron looks to be drunk beyond recognition, and a fourth is most likely some sort of embassador from another region by the looks of the scrolls he is reading.
Hideaki eyes Naru and her respones carefully, especially the bit about being carefully. "I have the same worries you do about the low hanging fruit, Narusegawa-san. Still, if this is bait, following it may be the only way to learn more about the people setting the bait."
As they enter the inn, Hideaki's eyes are immediately drawn to the ambassador. He frowns, then leans over to the others, "Does he seem the most out of place in this room?"
Hideaki wanders over to the bar, but chooses a strange, circutious path that takes him close behind the diplomat, attempting to subtly sneak a peek at the documents he is reading without being noticed. He then moves over to the innkeep, asking for simple water and bread from thier group. Though a more lavish meal might be desired after thier travels, the cover must be maintained.
Narusegawa left it up to intuition for them to gather informations. Once they managed to slip into the Inn after such a long period of time eventually they split themselves up within the Inn. Hideaki decided to take his chances with the bartender while peaking over the diplomat's shoulder. Instead, Naru decided to try her luck with the drunk, she wasn't entirely perusasive so perhaps the drunk wouldn't mind fibbing up some information. " So there…" Naru spoke softly to the drunk as she took a seat next to him, her legs lightly crossed along one another, her fingers trailed along the edge of the bar infront of her. " You seem to be going off well.. .You know anything about getting a few jobs around here?" Naru asked the drunk, " Or perhaps you might have an idea…as to any recent happenings I might be able to invest into," She questioned an arched an eyebrow, though she had to becareful around a drunk.
Midori bows politely to the street bows, saying, "Thank you so much for showing me those entrances, and bringing me to the inn!" The boys reply, "Its alright, but are you sure you want to stay at an expensive dump like this?" Midori nods enthusiastically, and the local boys say their goodbyes as they head off. Midori moves on inside the inn and back to the rest of the team. She doesn't want to break cover in public, so she simply sits quietly while the team assesses the situation, waiting to give her report when its a little more private. After a couple of minutes sitting, she wanders over to the bar and asks the barman for a lemonade. The older man grunts, chuckles a little at the cuteness of the girl, and prepares her drink. Midori comes wandering back over a moment later, looking happy with the sweet drink in hand.
The diplomat's nose is burried in his scrolls, so he doesn't notice when Hideaki moves around him. The scrolls appear to be about the local governmental structure. A list of town councillors, local businessmen with influences, and even the occasional criminal of importance. Down near the bottom of the list are two names with stars next to them that look to have been added recently. Iwata Takeshi & Mariko (no surname listed).
When the bread and water is ordered, the innkeeper produces the food and drinks, but he holds onto it all and gives an exhorbitant price for their purchase before handing them over. Midori is obviously cuter than Hideaki.
The drunk looks up as much as his sagging head can manage and grunts. His breath smells of ale, his eyes are blood-shot, and his teeth are rotten. He most likely spends whatever money he makes during the day on his booze at night. With another grunt he manages, "I can't pay you for your services…so scram." At that, the barkeep looks over to Narusegawa and says, "If you're a lady of the night, I'd suggest you get back out into that night. If you're a paying customer…then produce some ryo and buy something." Can't she be both?
Hideaki moves back to the main group. He puts a hand under his chin thoughtfully. He looks over at the rude barkeep, raising his eyebrows and moving in between Naru and the barkeep. "We are traveling together, and I believe I have already forked over plenty ryo." Sadly for him, Hideaki does not talk much like a commoner. He then looks over to Naru and murmurs to her, trying his best to not be overheard "The strager has an intriguing list of names. A list of power players in town, I believe."
"I've been having a rough patch of luck, do I raelly look like a "Lady of the night to you? this blade at my back says other wise," Narusegawa responded back to the Inn keeper, while shrugging her shoulders at the drunk not willing to buy her services. From within her bandages she pulled a thicket of ryo, placing them upon the table, enough for a drink or two. " We are just looking for some work, something to pass us for the next day. You can keep the ryo and your drinks as long as you give us some useable information," Naru commented giving the Inn keeper her offer hopefully he would accept in order to determine their next objective.
Midori takes a seat away from the others, waiting and watching to see how the scenario in the bar's common room unfolds. The little girl slowly sips at her drink as she watches, looking back and forth between the innkeeper and his conversation with Naru, and the wealthy looking man the Hideaki is lurking around. She almost looks a little too interested for a girl of her age.
The barkeep looks over Hideaki and then to Naru and then back to Hideaki, "Fine…but if you're going to be needing a room, I don't charge per hour…so you'll be paying for the night." The barkeep apparently still thinks Naru is a lady of the night, but Hideaki is just her John. When Naru speaks up, he laughs, "Hey, some John's get rough. You wouldn't be the first one I've seen all banged up, nor packing weapons…some seen, some," and he tips his head to look her over more closely, "unseen." He winks.
With the money on the counter, not only does the barkeep look her over, but so too now does everyone. The barkeeper asks, "What kind of work you looking for? For that kind of money, you could service everyone in here, but then you'd be just breaking even for my telling you that." He chuckles, but it is a dry chuckle. Nori meanwhile has been staying quiet, walking around. He's tiny enough to not really get in the way or be noticed. As Hideaki murmurs something about the list, Nori says something directly into Hideaki's mind telepathically, <Were there any names we can ask about? Maybe offer our servitude to them?> That might just take Hideaki aback a little. If Hideaki says something mentally, Nori will hear it.
The two traders get up and approach Midori, looking her over, "Hey, what is a little halfpint like you doing in a bar like this? Don't you have someplace to go honey? Shouldn't you be going to sleep soon too?"
Hideaki is more than a little surprised to hear Nori's voice. <Can you hear me?> He replies, waiting for confirmation before continuing to think to himself. <One in particular stood out. I am going to try something. Please watch my back. Odds of this plan succeeding are uncertain.> He then moves back over to the diplomat, seating himself without asking. "Greetings. A mutual friend asked me to approach you. She is cautious with her name, but she assured me you would know her." Hideaki watches the man carefully for a reaction.
For the most part Narusegawa kept herself quiet after that comment, she could hear something poking her in the mind but the idea of someone talking to her definitely threw her for a loop at the moment. Briefly the Uchiha blinked her eyes, idly even as she peered back toward Nori though not saying a word. " Look do you want it or not? the type of work we are looking for is subjective at best, if we can get close to breaking even a little more than we already have then we have at least made some progress…" Narusegawa responded back, oping to push just a little bit more for information. "If you can't tell me that then point me to someone who can,"
Midori takes another long sip from her drink, then wonders idly whether she's getting a room of her own or if she's going to have to share with the rest of the team. She glances around at the other team members, all of whom seem to be very involved in their own conversations, and sighs. Putting down her drink, the little girl decides that she's going to go out again and find the street kids. She quickly pulls out a tiny note and, when she thinks no one is looking, slips it under the flat, old cushion on the chair she'd been sitting on. The note simply explains where she's going and why. And with that she wanders back out of the inn, hopefully to gather some information from the kids.
Nori confirms nearly instantly, <Yes>…and then a moment later, <Sure.> When Hideaki goes for the interaction, the Diplomat's head snaps up from his scrolls and he blinks for a moment at Hideaki. Eventually, he states, "Um…eh….and what name might that be?" The man seems a little nervous.
The barkeep looks at Naru and shrugs, "Hey, not my fault if you don't know what kind of work you're looking for. Still, for the ryo…if it is honest labor you're looking for, I suggest going to the graveyard. They're always looking for help with digging graves down there. If it is less than honest labor, Iwata Takeshi is always looking for muscle…but he's just as likely to rob you blind as he is offer you work. Finally, if you're here to find some Johns, the catacombs house most of the Ladies of the night. You might have an issue with the head mistress of the Ladies of the Night though if you're looking to step onto their territory without being one of them. Hideaki might notice that the Diplomat looks over to the barkeep quickly as the Head Mistress of the Ladies of the Night is mentioned.
Nori catches Midori's exit and notes to the others directly into their minds that he's going off with her. So, with that, Nori runs out too. He calls after Midori, "Hey, where are you going?" The kids are waiting for her outside the inn, figuring that she would be back out instead of sleeping in the craphole that is the inn. They note Nori and look back to Midori, "You okay?" they ask her, eyeing Nori.
"It starts with an M. I was assured I would not have to spell it out more than that," He frowns, as if in annoyance. He may fake the speech of a commoner badly, but Hideaki's lies are as slick as butter, in the same cool deadpan he always speaks with. "I was told to escort you to a meeting place. I trust you know where I mean. Or will I need to draw pictures at some point during this conversation?"
The Diplomat errs and looks down at the list he was just looking over and then back to Hideaki. "Oh, eh," and he whispers, "Mariko?" The barkeep looks over at the whispering and says, "Did you really have to just go out and say her name like that? The Head Mistress has ears everywhere, I swear." The barkeep actually looks a little frightened. The Diplomat meeps and bows his head, asking for forgiveness. He looks back to Hideaki. "A meeting? Oh, eh…I guess I have time now. I'm not sure what I can offer her, but sure. I take it we are headed to the catacombs then?"
The barkeep looks back to Naru and states, "Well, he's a local thug that's in charge of most of the muscle around…except for the Head Mistress, he's got most of the area under his control. If you think you can take him though…" and the barkeep trails off. A moment later, he starts up again, "Why don't you just go talk with him. You can probably find him at the local fight ring inside the warehouse down the road. Like I said though, good luck. Now get out of my inn, you're scaring the other clients." He's kicking you all out.
Nori grunts as Midori goes running off and he sighs. Rather than leaving her alone though, he follows along after her. He is stealthy enough for a Genin, and he moves through the shadows, trailing Midori. He calls back to Hideaki's mind, <I'm tracking Midori. Not sure where she's headed.> The kids bring her to the catacombs. Nori reports back to Hideaki exactly how to get to the catacombs in case he needed to follow them. <So far, all safe.> The entrance, not too surprisingly is in the local graveyard, but without help from the street kids, it would have been very difficult to find the right crypt to enter by. The leader of the kids looks to Midori and asks, "Ever been in a crypt before? It's pretty cool right?"
"You really have no sense for subtlety," Hideaki notes, and then stands, motioning to the door and letting the diplomat walk in front of him. "We've wasted enough time here. Do not worry about what you have to offer her. If she wants to meet you, why is her business." He motions for Naru to come closer, and if she does, murmurs one word to her as she gets close. "Catacombs?"
Nori would have relayed exactly how to get to the graveyard and which crypt to enter to get into the catacombs back to Hideaki via Telepathy. The boy would then say he was going quiet to conserve chakra. Luckily, as Hideaki and the Diplomat enter the catacombs, a Lady of the Night steps forward, looking to solicit the two of them for a night of pleasure. When the Diplomat asks to be taken to Mariko, the Lady of the Night looks over the two of them, shrugs, and says, "Suit yourself…" She turns and starts walking through the twisting tunnels. There are plenty of people down here. There are also plenty of Ladies. It is easy to tell them from the regular girls because of the amount of makeup they wear and the fact that they hold candles. With this many of them down here, it makes sense that their leader, the Head Mistress Mariko, would hold power.
Nori and Midori had just run off into the catacombs. Naru was going to go see Iwata Takeshi in a local warehouse that was doubling as a fighting ring. The guy was supposed to be gathering up men for…something. Meanwhile Hideaki went off to see the Head Mistress of the Ladies of the Night, Mariko.
Naru found the warehouse without much of an issue. As she entered though, two armed guards levied swords at her and asked her what she was doing there.
Midori finds herself going very very deep into the catacombs with the boys. They have a lantern with them, so it isn't too bad…but up ahead is a large cavern with a light. The boys look at eachother and ask, "What is that? Want to go see?"
Hideaki eyes the many… colorful people they pass along the way. About what one would expect along the way to see someone styled 'the Head Mistress.' He has been making up his moves as he goes along, and now he is rather neck deep in what can hardly be called a plan. Still, he has more information than when he arrived. He considers ducking off into the shadows now, but decides to keep playing along, following in silence while he waits to meet with the elusive mistress.
Narusegawa wasn't at all intimidated as she had entered the warehouse with swords leveled against her, her expression remained stoic as she raised a hand gesturing for them to bug off. " I was thinking about getting some guys together to help bring down this little strong arming you guys have been doing, but a little bird told me it might be more benefital for me to work with you instead, as long as the price is right…" Narusegawa spoke with a slight grin, playing her part quite well at least that is what she thought. "So what's it going to be? I'm here to see Takeshi for some work, you can take it or maybe this town will be better off without you all,"
Midori paused as she saw the light up ahead in the catacombs, and she glanced around the group of street boys nervously. "Ok, but you boys have gotta promise to keep me safe, alright?" she asks them, looking around at each of them. Even though she was -mostly- shinobi trained, the Academy Student was far from being able to graduate yet, and was very worried about the possibility of being killed before she even managed to achieve the rank of Genin. "You guys go first, and I'll come right behind, ok?" she asks, taking a loud, anxious gulp as they progress along the tunnel towards the source of the light. As soon as all the boys are ahead of her, and they can't see her hands, Midori forms a handseal and focuses some chakra, just to be ready for anything.
The Lady they are following comes to a stop just outside of an offshoot that leads into the dark. From inside, the sounds of moaning and groaning can be heard, but whether these are pleasurable sounds or the opposite is quite hard to discern. The Lady thumbs inside and hands over a lamp, "In you go…the Head Mistress is inside. Good luck. I hope she doesn't eat you alive." Hopefully she doesn't mean that litterally? As she leaves, the Diplomat turns to Hideaki and gulps, "Okay, you…you…you want to head in first and announce we are here?" The man is obviously nervous.
The men laugh and then lower their swords. "We're just the underlings. Feel free to go talk to the man." They walk into the main part of the warehouse and point out Takeshi and let her go talk to him. The man is older, probably about sixty or so, but he is still chiseled. What Narusegawa would notice is that the warehouse is absolutely packed…and not just with men. There are boys here too, some as young as five or six, and a few burly looking women. Everyone is gathered around a ring watching two men kick the snot out of eachother with Taijutsu only. As Naru steps forward, Takeshi smirks and says, "A fresh face…what do you want exactly?" The two men with thet swords that let her in speak, "She said she was going to take you down Iwata-sempai…but instead she came to her senses and wants to join up with you for the right price." The old muscular man raises an eyebrow and laughs. "Oh? And what exactly is your price…and if I say no, what are you going to do?" The little kids start to watch Naru.
The boys all nod, obviously infatuated with Midori. "We wouldn't let anything happen to you." They chuckle and then run off ahead. Nori steps out of the shadows when Midori focuses her chakras. He holds a hand up to his lips and speaks directly to her mind, <I'll be here…if you need anything, just speak in your mind. I'll come running.> The boys turn off their lanterns as they leave and Midori and Nori are suddenly left in darkness. The only light is the second lantern up ahead. Assuming Midori eventually follows after the boys, she would find that they are at the edge of the light, watching a group of 4 figures garbed in black robes, whispering over a small shrine. On the shrine looks to be a dead goat; the blood spilling out of its throat and onto the shadows circling around the floor.
Hideaki eyes the man up and down. "I must confess, I have made a miscalculation. I thought you were someone to be suspicious of, but you are clearly a bit too slow to be much of a threat. Therefore, I have a proposal. The Head Mistress is not actually expecting either one of us. I believe it would be advantageous to you to run off and conveniently forget you had any involvement in bringing me here while I go in alone. I will happily allow you to do this in exchange for a brief explaination as to why you were keeping that intriguing list of names at the inn.
"Or… You can come in with me, and you can think up a good reason as to why you are bringing strangers to her doorstep. Your choice," Hideaki shrugs, his voice perhaps a tad icier than usual, but otherwise the same toneless speech as always.
Slipping further into the compound she took in the area about her, the place was absolutely packed and not at all what she was anticipating… It was obvious that there was more illegal activities brewing out within this part of the Land of Fire, but Naru was goin to make sure to immerse herself into it. She smirked and peered up at the man, her fingers turned to rest against the butt of her katana blade by her side. " My family… My band of warriors have been displaced and we have been wandering this side of the Land of Fire doing odd jobs… We are always looking for the next job, shinobi tends to take away what we are sorely good for however…Something about a better reputation…But you have that right? " Naru questioned with a slight twitch of her eyebrow. " Pay for our roof, food and water for a weeks time… We ask nicely or we might have to swipe it under your nose. The Shinobi have been stealing under ours so it is necessary for the sake of our survival…"
As Midori gets closer, and the weird animal sacrifice ritual comes into view, the girl shirks back and tries not to make gagging sounds. The sight of blood still sometimes made her feel a bit sick, and this time was no different. Still, the boys around her seemed to just think it was cool, and if she was going to fit in she'd have to try and stomach the scene. Midori turns her gaze back to what's in front of them. She takes a better look at the men in black robes, trying to see their faces or catch any sense of their voices in the tunnel in order to work out exactly what's going on here. She glances around to check if she can see Nori anywhere, but doesn't call for him just yet. After all, she wasn't in any kind of trouble.
The Diplomat sweatdrops and nearly falls over. When he has regained his composure, the man says, "Then who are you? I had compiled the list of important people to try and establish who was actually running this village. I am an ambassador. I need to know who to talk to about making decisions regarding the village. I need to get traders into and out of the city, bring ryo in, get shinobi…or in the case of Mariko…mercenaries…as she dislikes shinobi into the village. We may not be a Hidden village, but we still have problems. As with everything, knowledge is power." He frowns and then looks inside, "Well, I've been looking to speak to her…I guess now is as good a time," and there is a scream of pleasure cutting him off, "as any?" He sighs. "What do you want with her?"
Takeshi grins, and now that Naru is closer she might notice that he is missing several teeth. "Warriors hmm? You shinobi yourselves?" He calls out to the others, "What do we do to shinobi around these parts?" They all call back in unison, "Poison them." The man nods and looks to Naru. "Even if you say that you aren't some shinobi…how would we know for sure? You say you want food, water, a roof…I want someone that can fight." He pauses and looks at the two men fighting…one has just downed the other, who quickly taps out. "I can tell alot by how someone fights. I'll tell you what…you take the next fight in the ring and we'll see." It really isn't much of a ring, but more of an open space splattered with blood. A lithe man steps up and gets ready to fight. Of course, if she loses, she's in trouble…and if she wins then there is the possibility of being found out.
Nori is using stealth and is holding back further in the tunnels like he said he would be. The men in robes suddenly look up and stare at the children. One steps forward, but even in the light it is hard to see under the hoods they wear. The one that steps forward says, in a voice that is neither male nor female exactly, "Chhhildrenssss. Come into the lightssss." From out of the robes creeps a snake that skitters out of the light and into the shadows. It is fast. The next thing the children and Midori know, the snake is behind them, pressing them forward into the light. The other black robed figures step forward then and move to grab Midori and the boys. Uh-oh.
"Someone from out of town looking for information. As you say, knowledge is power, and I am afraid I have less of it than I pretend to." Hideaki's brow furrows at the noises from inside, but he continues. "This is plainly the den of the local keeper of secrets, whether or not she is running the village. If anyone has the information I seek, she surely does. As to whether or not she cares to assist," he shrugs, "I will have to see what I can negotiate. I will do us both a favor and not mention how it is we came here together. I do believe you wanted me to go first? I suppose I owe you that much."
With that, Hideaki steps into the dark offshoot.
If this was any other time in Naru's past the young Jounin would have gulped. But this time she was unflincing and unwavering, instead she perked a brow and shrugged her shoulders. " Kick one of your goons to the curb? Sure I will do that," Naru qickly finalized and without a word she skipped forward almost slipping out onto the ring, she didn't hesitate to unsheath her blade from it's hilt, pointing the glistening edge in the mans direction. She readied herself for combat, waiting for any sudden movements from the lithe man and while there was none, she moved forward quickly though careful in her step to make sure she wasn't like a shinobi, it was actually easy considering her eyes had memorized some of the normal bandits she had fought against. with the Same movement she moved forward, trailing the edge of her blade forward and brining the butt of her blade towards the man's stomach, attempting to knock him out cleanly then duck down to bring him straigh on it back with a swift sweep.
Midori shrieks at the sight of the snake, stomping her feet and desperately trying to avoid the creature. Of course, this just means that she's easily shepherded back towards the robed figures. Then she spins and sees the men getting closer, but she still isn't ready to call out for Nori just yet. "What do… do you want?" she asks, a nervous twitching making her stutter momentarily as she tries to look angry and intimidating to the robed figure, although it probably comes off looking more like 'grumpy and cute'.
It would take Hideaki a moment to gather his senses. The light inside the offshoot is negligible, but it is there. The Diplomat would nearly walk into him as he quickly tries to follow. Once Hideaki's eyes have adjusted to the low light, what he would see is a makeshift bedroom, complete with 'toys' scattered about. As young as Hideaki is, he might have an idea what some of these toys might be used for. The Diplomat meeps lightly denoting that he does indeed know what the toys are. On the bed is a man, tied up and partially naked. There is a woman standing over him who turns upon Hideaki and the Diplomat entering. It looks like she has a mask on, but it is hard to tell. Her eyes are at least blackened like a racoon's.
The Head Mistress asks, "What do you two maggots want?"
Naru's opponent is indeed knocked down. It is the steps that make Takeshi not question Naru. If it were any other shinobi, that would have been enough for the sixty year old to notice. So, when she is clear of her opponent, the old man nods. "Fine. We'll let you stay. Get her some food and some water…and a place to sleep. You said you had a group right? When you get a chance…go get them. I'd like to meet them too."
Midori's gaul to question the robed figure makes it laugh with a hiss. "We want…secrecy." The other boys jump in, "Oh, we won't go telling anyone what you were doing down here." This boy is grabbed and the robed figure speaking for the group says, "Oh…we knowssss. We want blood too." The boy that is grabbed suddenly falls to the ground with his throat cut cleanly. Nori calls out <Run!> and Nori takes over the leader who then says…in Nori's best imitation voice, "And blood we now have. Let the rest go." Hopefully that works. The others seem to pause.
Hideaki cuts to the chase. Unlike the diplomat, he doubts this woman will take having her time wasted mildly. "I come seeking information on the hidden villages and, in particular, if the shinobi have any enemies here." He lets his eyes flit briefly to all in the room, to see if any of them react to this news.
Midori doesn't quite run like she was ordered. As the boys start to run off, she bravely covers their retreat. Not that she could really do much if the other robed figures decided to ignore their leader and pursue the kids, but she felt like she'd put the boys in this situation, and she'd take responsibility for it. But it quickly becomes clear that something is wrong with the leader of the 'robes', and after another moment of hesitation she takes off running after the kids. This ends badly too, though, as she trips and hits the ground pretty hard, taking her several long seconds to get back up to her feet and get on with running away.
Nori holds the others off with a bit of a snake ninjutsu. They think it is their proper leader and then the kids run off before Nori can make his way back to his own body and disappear into the catacombs. The boys bring Midori to the surface and then scatter. It takes Nori a little while longer to get out, but eventually he teams up with Midori and heads to the designated meeting point…where they meet Hideaki and Naru. Back to Konohagakure they go to report their findings during this mission.
The woman groans, "What the ring do I look like, a rat?" She steps into what little light there is, and Hideaki would notice that her eyes are covered in black makeup…they're black from having been scorched…and where eyes should be, there are only open holes. "This is what shinobi do." She growls and steps back into the shadows, "What is it to you anyway?" Two Ladies of the Night, having heard the growling, step into the tunnel behind Hideaki and the Diplomat. "Anything wrong Mariko?" they ask, almost in unison. The Diplomat meanwhile remains quiet. He may very well have buckled himself.
Hideaki looks over to the poor diplomat, then Mariko. Seeing as how the truth is unlikely to go over well to someone who has had her eyes burnt out by shinobi, he settles on another lie. "Not a rat. I came assuming you were a businesswoman. Regardless, I come from another village. We are seeking allies should things turn sour between us and the hidden village."
The woman pffts, "And what exactly would I be allying against or towards? The shinobi are power houses bent on eventually taking over every Land. What can we mere mortals do to Kami such as them?" The two Ladies speak out, almost in a cult-like fashion, "We can remove their pillars and strike from the shadows." The Head Mistress pffts again in a growl, "Enough in front of these maggots." Moving forward, Mariko looks to Hideaki and states, "If the shinobi come looking for me, I'll take them down…but until they do, I'm going to enjoy the rest of my miserable life…but be warned that every thing has a weakness. The Hidden Villages all have to be maintained by us rats that squabble under their feet for their scrabs. If we all just stopped…there would be trouble."
"Frankly, we are mostly interested in our own survival," Hideaki replies mildly to her question. "As you say, the shinobi are interested in amassing power. I do not so much care who is in power as long as my village is not the target of violence. I simply have no confidence that the hidden village will do anything except bring such violence down on us. However, if we could bring the hidden villages to their knees by no longer supporting them, as you say, that would be a powerful weapon to have. But it would require more coordination than this one locality, would it not?"
Mariko pffts, "You are not the first maggot to come crawling for my flesh. What you fail to understand, and those like you, as soon as the guerilla warfare were to start, there would be total destruction on both sides. That is why I will not act until they come for me. So leave me now. Tell the flies that are your handlers to quit buzzing around my lair. I am neutral until they push. And if you try to push me, I'll make sure all you love in life and death is destroyed from out from under you."
"My apologies for disturbing you, then," Hideaki replies. He has played out his bluff as far as it will go. He starts to back out of the room now, though he stays in the shadows until dismissed… And to listen should the diplomat have anything interesting to say to Mariko
Mariko does dismiss Hideaki…and the Diplomat, having heard everything spoken, stays quiet himself. He is too nervous maybe? With that, the two Ladies that rushed into the room escort the two males out of the catacombs.
It takes a while to hear from Nori, Midori, and Naru…but eventually they meet up and head back to Konohagakure to report their interactions and infiltrations with the people of the Tokkuriji.