Date: February 3, 2011
A simple meeting at a bakery in Kirigakure may result in a significant relationship development for both a supplies and logistics officer and a wandering Medic-Nin…
"Wheeling And Dealing"
Foodstands - Kirigakure
It's early morning, with fog shrouding the large island that Kirigakure is situated upon. The sun is still in the process of waking and raising its sleepy head, but eventually it will turn from barely-present glow to fierce blaze. This will impact the temperature, but to visitors from other lands the Land of Water remains cold, clammy, and (above all else) wet.
Already the marketplace and the merchants therein are ready to do business. The earlier one starts the more money there is to be made. However, not all customers are interested in wares this early in the morning, regardless of what deals might be offered. Infact, the majority are focused first and foremost on the wide variety of food stands that are preparing to feed the civilian and shinobi population of Kirigakure.
Many aromas mix together, sometimes sickeningly so, and yet to those use to the concoction of scents there are few things more welcoming in the frigid, misty mornings. The fog horns sound mournfully in the distance, near the beaches, but here in the Mist Village there is only the clamor of freshly awakened workers, warriors, and others, all of whom are seeking sustenance. There's a day full of work ahead, after all.
Dressed in a warm cloak and hood, a foreign man with no indication of specific nationality evident upon his person nor any sign of being special in any way is making his way towards a bakery. The air is far colder than he is used to, and some warm bread sounds like a good idea.
Though the crowds still have to grow, there are enough people around to make progress through the market slower. Unless that is, you bear the forehead protector of a shinobi. Some are respectful, are are not, but none want to be caught in the way of a shinobi. As Kataru walks down the food stands, the crowd parts, a fact that he seems to be most apologetic about. "Ah, don't mind me…" he says, "Just passing through."
He slips into the bakery, then smiles at the baker, "Ah, Yoishi-san, good day." he says, "I am here for the delivery of fresh bread for the Kage's place, as well as some trail ration paste." The baker nods and bows slightly before calling to his assistant to fetch the order, something that seems to embarass Kataru. It is only now that he looks around his environment, making note of the stranger, but this being a public market not thinking much of it.
The white-haired man has been standing in line for a couple minutes now, trying to warm his hands. It's definitely warmer in the bakery than outside. However, when some young man seemingly close to the stranger's own age walks in and gets his order ready immediately just by speaking up… Well, Honto is not annoyed. Really, he's not. But he IS curious about why this person gets preferential treatment. Is it due to being a ninja? Honto's eyes travel up to the hitai-ite on Kataru's forehead for a moment. "I see…" Honto murmurs. Then at a somewhat more conversational volume, he asks, "What type of bread does the Second Mizukage prefer? Wheat? White? Rye?"
Kataru glances down at the new figure, then seems to go into thought. "Ah well… I never asked." he admits finally. "The order includes several kinds and as far as I know it is so all his guests may have their preference… after testing it for poisons and so of course, they placed orders here for years but you can never be too careful about what another village may attempt." he flashes him a wide grin, "But now I am curious too… I myself prefer brown but you never know…" He thinks about this for a second, then shakes his head to clear it, giving the newcomer a proper look, "Ah, but I am being rude… I am Hishen Kataru. Are you a newcomer to our village? I do not recognise you… but then again, I have only lived here a few years myself…" he seems like he will babble on for a while yet if noone stops him."
The bespectacled man listens to what Kataru has to say. It would be pretty rude not to when he just got done asking a question of him! "Ah, yes… Poisons… After the unfortunate disappearance of the First Mizukage, I can imagine how it would serve the interests of Kirigakure to ensure the safety of Nidaime Mizukage-sama by any means possible…" Nodding along with the somewhat one-sided conversation, Honto eventually interjects, "I'm Honto." Did he just say he's 'really'? 'Really' WHAT exactly??? Or… Is that his name? Seeming to assume that there may be some confusion — potentially from such occurring in the past — the white-haired man says, "My NAME is Honto, that is. And yes, I am 'new', you could say. This is my first time visiting Kirigakure. I heard that there are some leeches dwelling in the area known as the 'Blood Marsh' here in the Land of Water. They are supposedly suitable for medicinal treatments. Some are even said to be Chakra sensitive… To think that such simple animals could respond to the energies wielded by shinobi—Ah, but I'm probably boring you!" Honto squints his eyes shut and puts a hand on the back of his hooded head in embarassment.
"…which is of course why how they came up with the title of 'Mizukage' and gave it to the First when the village was founded." he finally concludesm then blinks as he listens to Honto's interjection, "Oh, Honto? Thats a really nice name." he grins widely, "Good meeting you, Honto." he listens to Honto's story with some interest, then falls silent for a few seconds, thinking. "Well… I do believe some of our medical ninja breed them." he says at last, "For special blood or chakra letting treatments as far as I know… much better growing them in a lab than getting them from the wild where they likely come with all manner of diseases." He tilts his head a little, "What do you need them for?" Kataru seems to be acting a little more serious now.
Honto nods as he lowers his hand. Pausing to see that the long line in front of the counter has barely moved at all, he then returns his attention to Kataru. "Well, possibility of carrying diseases actually depends on the type of leech and its environment. Haemophagic leeches — the ones that drink blood — may be the most well-known, but they are the LEAST numerous annelids. However, breeding them in captivity certainly does pose less of a risk of infection—" he breaks off when the suddenly-serious question about why he wants them is posed. "Oh. I thought I explained that already. My apologies. I suppose the long journey has left my thoughts a bit scattered." Chuckling a bit, Honto finally says, "I am a healer — a Medical Ninja to be precise. I am always looking for new ways to ease pain and save lives. I thought I would have to venture to the Blood Marsh itself and try to harvest the leeches in person, but if it is possible to purchase some of these leeches without having to test their stomach contents and so forth… Well, that would save me a lot of time!"
Kataru thinks about this for a moment, then pulls a scroll from his front pocket. He unrolls it with practiced precision, scanning down the lines till he finds what he is looking for. "Ah, I thought leeches sounded familiar… Its on the trade pricelist." he grins, "We have suggested prices for most of the goods we import and export, guides to make sure customers don't get ripped off. You seem to be in luck too, your leeches are on here." he looks down at it, "For around 50 000 ryo you can get a dozen fertile ones, so you can breed your own… 75 000 ryo for three dozen…" he blinks at then, then shakes his head and looks back and smiles at Honto. "Just inquire at the shinobi hospital, they should be able to forward you to where you can buy them."
It is at this time that the baker's assistant returns, his arms full of baked goods. He places them on the counter and bows, "I will add the costs to the village account, with the usual discount of course." the assistant says. "Thanks plenty!" Kataru says, pulling the large scroll off of his back and slipping a brush and some ink with his other. He deftly starts to draw the symbols for a sealing jutsu on the scroll. "So tell me Honjo, a medical ninja… have you ever given thought to settling down?" he asks as he works.
Honto considers the price quoted. "I think I can afford a dozen. I spend most of my earnings on supplies and leave 'creature comforts' to those who have a more permanent living situation, but even bypassing the need for such things as heating, entertainment, large or simply freshly-prepared meals, and so forth, I have to keep some funds on-hand in the event of an emergency."
The line has moved forward while this discussion is going on, so Honto turns and steps up to the counter. "Just a half-loaf of sourdough, please," he requests as he withdraws his money pouch and counts out about 200 Ryo. "The hospital you said? I'll stop by there as soon as I'm done here." Smiling, Honto turns back to Kataru and says, "There's too many people suffering all over the world to settle down just yet. There's too much about life I don't know yet to stop learning. If you were hoping to recruit me, I'm afraid I will have to respectfully decline."
Kataru grins widely at Honto. "Ah, just doing my duty." he admits sheepishly, "You see, I'm part of the Logistics and Support Division of Kirigakure. Deliver supplies to the front lines, keep trade routes clear of bandits, negotiate for profitable trade arrangements and of course procure valuable resources and items." His seal drawn, he places 8 loafs on the piece of paper. A look of concentration seems to cross him as he lifts a hand in a seal and forms chakra. The loafs suddenly seem to become as transparent as water, becoming smaller and morphing into letters in the center of the seal. He looks down at his work, unrolls the paper a little more, and begind drawing the second seal. "Medical ninja of course are one of those resources." he continues, "Both the actual taking care of wounded as well as the medicines they can create." he smiles a little broader, "So… if not the former… Honto-san, the medical-ninja who experiments with leeches and no doubt other interesting medicines that you may be willing to create and sell… how would you like a discount on your leeches?"
Honto listens to Kataru's explanation thoughtfully, accepting a warm half-loaf of sourdough. He places this into a sack after tearing off a piece to eat right now. After chewing on the bread, and hearing Kataru's offer, Honto nods. Then he smiles. "That sounds like a very interesting proposition. I'd like to hear more. Shall we go somewhere else to discuss this?" Honto approaches Kataru and stands ready incase that idea is found amenable. "Though I have to admit I am not looking forward to going back out into the cold," he laughs.
Kataru grins widely. He concentrates and makes his hand seal as he seals the last 8 pieces of bread into his scroll. "Of course, I know this one place with a magnificient view…" he says as he collects his scroll and places the trail paste in a bag at his side, the latter not needing to be kept fresh, "It's high enough to be above most of the fog and in the sun. I used to spend a lot of mornings there when I first moved here." His grin is wide as he starts out the door, Honto following close by.
"I think this is going to be the start of a wonderful business partnership."