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merdle
03-07-2014, 01:00 AM
"And you'll love this part, seriously. I wasn't me that threw the 43rd kunai at all. Get it? Get it? I wasn't the one who threw the 43rd kunai."

Daisuke looked at the bartender, and the man starred back at him with a blank expression. Daisuke on the other hand was smiling, though he seemed a little wobbly in his seat.

"I think I told it wrong," He said, "You would find it hilarious if you got it."


He took another drink from the bottle in front of him, and enjoyed the smooth retreat before the bottle hit the bar again.

"I should have done this drinking thing a lot earlier," Daisuke said, "Whenever I try to think why I was afraid to do it, I can't, and then I try it again."

Daisuke wasn't his typical self. The stubble on his chin was out of control, and his hair was a bigger mess than usual. Plus his shirt seemed dingy, with his usual coat tied around his waist. The man was a wreck, and anyone could see he was somewhere between about to get drunk and just stopped being drunk. Considering everything he had gone through, that was no surprise. If he was in the right frame of mind, he would realize that he had been away from hidden leaf for far too long. If he was in his right frame of mind, he probably would have made his trip to Iron a lot earlier. But he was finally there now, and something had to give.

Most people avoided him, and anyone used to the little bar he had been frequenting in the last few days knew not to sit next to him unless they wanted to be subjected to his attempts at socializing.

Virtual Dream
03-07-2014, 08:47 AM
“That's a self-destructive path, my friend.”

Her voice was a sweet violin against the brass cacophony of the bar. She had moved from the entryway and across the floor like a leaf dancing on a stream's surface, so naturally and without purpose that it was as if she had snuck up on the misplaced shinobi. She was close to him, leaning against the bar with both of her palms, her fingertips and manicured nails drumming the worn and cracked wood in a soft rhythm. Her warmth was amplified when you considered the snow that danced outside, some of which still remained in her honeyed hair, melting to the purest of water. It punctuated her odd beauty, she of noble birth and righteous training, a simple dashing of snow like accents on a fine blade. She was more than a woman from Iron---this was Iron, in woman form.

However, it wasn't her beauty that might shock the shinobi. It was her presence. She was impressively tall, holding a few inches on him that he might not notice until he stood up from his stool. She was toned and fluid all at once, a sure sign of martial training. However, her skin was flawless and her clothes were simple, and all she had on her was a traveling bag tied up around one shoulder. A sweater and long winter coat might hide other surprises, but she was relatively nonthreatening. Just a tall, leggy blonde with swollen assets and a line of worry on her lips.

Daisuke wore his station like a scarf. It draped on his shoulders and weighed him down to the floor. From his footware to the tied headband on his arm, he wasn't making any attempt to hide that he was a traveling ninja, but worse, his state of drunkenness went beyond having a few days off from the rigors of military lifestyle. He was lost and dishonored, stuck between here and there, and it was something that the ronin was dealing with on her own.

The barkeep, who was perhaps relieved that he didn't have to work out the arcane styling of Daisuke's humor, wordlessly took a coin from between the woman's fingers and produced a clean glass, filling it with a dark spirit. Scotch, maybe. It appeared that the young woman had made several rounds to this bar in the past. In truth, she was carefully establishing a network of information, but someone like Daisuke warranted extra effort. Besides, he wore the headband of Konoha. She knew Konoha.

After taking a sip from the rim of her glass, she settled into the stool alongside the ninja, and tilted her head towards him. Her long hair spilled down her shoulder, hiding her face from view. A curious eye peeked out through the strands.

“That symbol is from the Fire Country. Are you here long?”

merdle
03-08-2014, 12:17 AM
Daisuke heard the voice, but he was afraid to look. There was this whole problem where he would react to people he thought were talking to him, just to find them looking into the eyes of some dear friend. Daisuke would be left looking like a fool on a bench.

He peeked over his shoulder, and he saw her. His beer in hand, Daisuke was stuck in that position. She had some sort of regal appearance, something he only occasionally saw during life in Leaf. It usually came from people pretending to be something more important than they were, or a Hyuuga. She wasn't a Hyuuga, her hair looked too nice, and her skin wasn't strange enough.

This lady was bouncy.

Daisuke opened his mouth to talk, but instead his arm put the bottle of his drink between his lips. He occupied himself with his drink while she sat and passed off her coin. She was sitting too close, an unnatural close.

"It is a leaf," Daisuke said, "The symbol I mean. Like, I think it is supposed to be a leaf in the wind? But that doesn't quite seem brave enough does it? Who wants their soldiers wearing leaves in the wind..."

He was rambling, which scared him. It meant that bad things could happen, and he was here to make sure bad things didn't happen. He put the bottle back, drank more, felt it go down, and his heart simmer.

"...Are we supposed to be brave..." He whispered to himself.

It occurred to him that he hadn't answered the other question, or was that her only question? Too late to remember now. She wanted to know what he was doing there, or how long he was going to be doing her, doing it. Some combination of those words.

"I'm here until they start worrying," He admitted to her and himself, "You from Fire?"

He stuck out a hand for a sloppy handshake.

Virtual Dream
03-08-2014, 03:53 PM
The ronin nursed her drink, peering politely at Daisuke as he reflection on the symbol on his arm. It didn't seem fair to interrupt him, considering a bar like this was a place for sorrow to be nursed and locals to gather. It wasn't a youth bar, it wasn't a seedy bar...it was a comfortable bar. So, as he slurred his drunken words around, Jun'ko decided to join him. Soft burning tickled the back of her throat, filled her chest with a dying fire, made her lips part and glisten. The rambling of a lost man almost seemed soothing, at this point. Much better than the cold outside, anyway.

He was awkward. Straight up clinically anxious. Deep within disorders and complexes, not someone you'd really want in a squad. It might just be the alcohol coloring his quirks, but he didn't seem threatening. But Jun'ko knew all to well how cleverly shinobi could hide the demons that they were, wearing the face of someone friendly. It wasn't worth it to get too attached to one of them until you thought you could trust them...and even still, they could break your heart.

He nursed his beer and she her whiskey and she pondered him. Was he intentionally seeming broken? Was this a plot to skirt out information from her? Should she be worried? Her actions in Iron lately where as subtle as she could manage, but coin had a way of making people talk. Her eyes made contact with the barkeep, who shrugged at her with an embarrassed smile. He didn't seem the talking type.

It took her a pause to respond to the shinobi. “Fire? No, too anemic for me there. I've Iron in my blood, all the way down.”

A swift, dainty handshake. Like she had been taught, like she had known to do he whole life, offering him only a few of her fingers in a quick gesture of camaraderie.

Ice clinked against her glass as she sipped from it, and she reached into her pocket, pulling out a small cloth. Inside, carefully hand-rolled cigarettes. She put one in her mouth, let the barkeeper light it, and offered one over to Daisuke.

“I travel from here and there, though. I see ninja with that symbol on occasion, see 'em working with the poor folk. Good works, sometimes.”

Delicate fingers twained around the cigarette, and young lips pulled smoke from the end. She exhaled, politely away from the shinobi, and smiled. It wasn't a happy one.

“Sometimes see 'em doing bad works, too. I'm Jun'ko, by the way.”

merdle
03-08-2014, 06:06 PM
He took her extended fingers, and expected them to be soft. They weren't, they were fingers that had trained hard. There was something about this woman that he was missing.

Then he let her words really sink into his head. Iron all the way through, she was from around here. If anything, a woman like this, she had a long history in Iron that Daisuke would barely be able to understand. Of course, understanding things wasn't what he was paid for.

When she started to speak of the acts of leaf shinobi, he felt a small burst of pride. He didn't often get to see how outsiders saw Leaf. He was used to living deep in the village, seeing shinobi bouncing around him all day. Outsiders were categorized as victims or targets. Occasionally, even a shinobi earned those categories.

Then she pulled out her cigarettes, and dropped the other shoe.

Jun'ko.

"Good and bad huh?" He said before going back to his bottle. He was going to need it. With a few taps, he drained it dry, and began to worry.

"I once knew a man, a friend. We grew up together even. He tortured me for most of my childhood, made sure I knew that I was the worst shinobi he ever met. I thought that I hated him, then he saved my life from two people trying to kill my students."

The story came out so easy, but Daisuke didn't know why he would just tell it to someone. Especially this woman who was not a shinobi. What did she know about genin teams, or the life he lived. She was, as she said, Iron all the way down.

"I'm Daisuke, also. I used to have a nickname, ka..." He thought about it, and cut himself short, "Nevermind. Women don't want to hear nicknames, I've heard. They're childish, or something, I think... I need another drink."

He eyed her cigarettes as he waved at the bartender. It was the closest he could come to looking straight at her. Those would touch her lips, and she would blow out their smoke. It was close enough for now. She was iron, she could take the lack of attention.

Virtual Dream
03-10-2014, 06:26 PM
The end of the cigarette smouldered, the crackling sound of the burning paper audible during a lapse in conversation. Smoke curled up and out of her mouth, twisting around her smooth skin and disappearing as it faded into the air. The sounds of the bar had lost their steady rhythm, and someone at a table a few feet away made an awkward joke to his partner, who politely laughed. Jun'ko felt as if someone was staring at her, as the hairs on her neck started to tingle. Maybe she was just remembering a certain someone who'd do anything for his own genin team.

She smiled, more sincerely, and tipped back her glass again.

“I believe that honor exists even in blackened hearts,” She said, playing the coquette. “There might be redemption for even the most sinful of deeds.”

Her heart was beating so firmly that she was afraid the shinobi next to her might be able to hear it thumping away in her breast. Hopefully, his drunken state might hide her disarray...there was definitely someone eying her. She crushed out her cigarette and let the last of the brown alcohol slide down her throat in one impressive motion. As if drunk, she leaned in towards the man.

Daisuke. He was doing his best to keep his eyes off of her, be it that anxiety or an odd sense of politeness.

In the reflection of the ice in her glass, she saw movement. The bartender coughed as he finished wiping off a glass, carefully putting it under the counter. You simply couldn't trust anyone these days, especially if you earned their loyalty with coin. There would always be someone with a stronger bid, especially when bounties came into play. She felt a bit shameless, but her low profile was already at risk, she didn't need---

The hand of a man who dwarfed even Jun'ko's impressive height landed neatly on her shoulder, tight enough to bruise her fair shoulder. The leather of her traveling bag bit down into the fabric of her clothing, the contents pressed tight against her back. Composure washed over her. Fear replaced with acceptance, trepidation with hubris. She had cut down bigger men.

“Seems we have our bounty, boys.” The awkward funnymen of a table a few feet away got to their feet. Jun'ko caught the barkeep politely excusing himself into a back room. Her shoulder started to go numb from the pressure.

There were innocent people in this bar. It wouldn't be appropriate to start cutting down simple bounty hunters.

“I think you might have the wrong girl, gentlemen--”

The side of her face went sharp in pain as the man released his grasp of her shoulder and slammed it against her ear, in a violent and sudden slap. “Don't need your lies, ronin!”

He spit the word, both literally and figuratively, as dribble landed notably on the bar before her. Said it with such venom it sounded like the worst thing he'd ever said to someone...and for truth, it was the first time Jun'ko had heard it said towards her. Self-pity and doubt wobbled around in her stomach.

merdle
03-10-2014, 11:17 PM
Redemption. Daisuke let the word echo around in his head. He had heard it a million times before, seen it used to excuse criminals, to shut the eyes of the doomed and dead. Redemption was something he knew, but today it felt like he was hearing it for the first time. There was no such thing as redemption until this woman said it.

Jun'ko.

What could she possibly know about his heart? He felt like an idiot even thinking about it. It wouldn't be the first time either. Whenever he let someone take a peek, he felt like a fool. Like revealing a desk of scattered notes to someone and trying to explain it as a masterpiece. No, he had to show organization, he had to keep things straight so they could at least think that he wasn't the sort of person who needed pity.

He needed something else to drink.

"Bartender," Daisuke said, but he realized then that the bartender had walked away.

Daisuke turned just in time to see the large gentleman with his shoulder on Jun'ko.

"Oh," Daisuke said. His first thought was, taken.

The look on her face was one of calm, even though the man touching her was practically bursting with excitement. Then he said something about a bounty.

A bounty? Bounty hunters? Here? This was Iron, that was ridiculous.

Jun'ko spoke, and the man struck her in a way that sent a flare through every nerve in Daisuke's body. He found himself standing, with a hand squeezing the man's dramatically larger wrist.

"Whoa! no hitting her, we were talking."

The man shook Daisuke's hand, "Don't touch me, ninja. This has nothing to do with you, don't get involved."

Daisuke put his hands up so fast that he nearly wobbled over backwards, "Okay, if you leave her alone."

The others in the bar had surrounded them now. Several men, all looking angrier than the last.

"Or you'll do what?" The man said with a laugh. The joke bounced to his friends, and soon they were all chuckling.

Daisuke looked back at the counter, his empty drink, "I don't want to kill anybody..." Daisuke mumbled.

Virtual Dream
03-13-2014, 07:38 PM
The chorus of laughing men only made the pain of her ear start to ring tighter, and a familiar urge started to play around in her fingers. These men weren't familiar enough, and they didn't carry themselves like samurai, so they must be hired hands. The way they spoke to Daisuke meant they weren't likely shinobi, either...so that put them down to be standard mercenaries, but without military training, they weren't likely to be much of a threat, even with their size and number.

And that self-pity wobbled away quickly as she heard Daisuke whisper to himself. She smiled, broadly, despite the fading redness on her face, and stood up, her heel so deep into the man's gut that it was hard to tell where his firm abs and her firm legs began apart from each other. He doubled over, eyes wide and spit dribbling, and took a few steps back to dislodge the stylish heeled boots from his stomach. The few others seemed a bit shocked, as if when they heard runaway samurai, they thought coward. Jun'ko ripped her traveling bag open with one hand, and out spilled the simple contents: a katana and wakizashi pair, with family insignia proudly displayed. Even a peasant-tool using shinobi could tell these were the real deal, the daisho fit for Kings and Lords. The mark of a samurai.

She slipped both scabbards into the belt tied around her petite waist and held her fingers near the tsuba—the crossguard—and turned to look over at the men. Her attacker, in particular, was already recovering, standing up with fire in his eyes.

“My name is Kiku-ichimonji Jun'ko, from Sennou no Shi. My blades have cut through Iron's best and brightest threats for over a decade. Don't make me dull it on your worthless hide.”

Self pity melted away, replaced with purpose. She didn't want to kill anyone, but she was honourbound take any proper challenge to the death. This, in a way, was her own path to redemption. She wouldn't kill the innocent man anymore...but she would kill to protect what was important to her.

If she could show that to this Konoha ninja, then she'd have something to be proud of.

Two of the men started to move forward, but Jun'ko's swift and graceful stance change was enough to cause them to hesitate. She moved ever so slightly to her side, closer to the drunken ninja.

“Daisuke! I'd hate to spill blood before tea. What say we continue this conversation elsewhere?” She was transformed—the coying flirtatious voice of before became like iron, cutting the air better than even her swords might. Force generated from her stance and pose, force generated from a lifetime married to a blade---this was a samurai.

OOC: Up to you if we fight these dudes.

merdle
03-14-2014, 04:36 AM
Daisuke was shocked when Jun'ko jammed her foot into the man. It seemed like the situation was going to explode at any moment, yet she managed to keep things under control. Gone was the woman that was sharing a drink with him, this was someone different.

He knew that look. It was that moment when you had to discard everything else, and turn to the one thing you were trained for. He saw it in his mind, when he relived recent missions. When he had to save genin from burning boats, when he had to escape missing-nin who wanted to kill his team. It was hard to mistake for anything else.

This was going to get bloody.

When she went into her stance, Daisuke understood what she meant by being a samurai. He saw sword users before, people who liked using a katana before blowing their opponents away with ninjutsu. This felt like something different.

"Oh," Daisuke said as she invited him to leave, "Okay."

His hands were still up in the air, and he didn't know if they were going to let them leave. They were outnumbered, and their bodies were poised to attack. He could see it, as his eyes scanned over their vitals and weak points.

"How far do you think you'll get," Said the leader of the little group, still holding his gut from the pain of Jun'ko's attack, "Everyone in this city wants your head, ronin."

Daisuke followed Jun'ko as they inched their way around the aggressive men.

One of them flinched, and Daisuke's hands moved to his... he wasn't wearing his jacket correctly. Still, the speed of his movement was enough to make the bounty hunters back off.

Why wasn't he wearing his jacket correctly?

They got out to the street, and Daisuke took a long sigh of relief.

"Were they really going to break the law here in Iron?" Daisuke said with panicked eyes, "I'm pretty sure that is illegal."

He didn't know where he was going to go, but it was definitely away from there. He reached out to grab Jun'ko and lead her through the streets. His mind wasn't clear, but he knew he had to get away from that bar.

Virtual Dream
03-14-2014, 07:57 PM
It wasn't until they had backed out of the door that Jun'ko let her arms relax, her hands resting down on the smooth scabbard of her swords as she let some of the tension out of her back. If it wasn't just a bluff, which she doubted, the man's words were probably more upsetting than his sudden attack. At least she didn't have to cut anyone down...yet. She met Daisuke's anxious gaze, and smiled at him—that same false smile she had used earlier.

“Breaking the law might always be illegal, Daisuke-kun.” She reached over and quickly adjusted his jacked on him, like a doting mother might, and smoothed out the wrinkles as best she could, before buttoning down her winter coat. Her blades shifted up alongside her back, staying attached to her belt by virtue of her ample rump. “But Iron has a tendency of settling things with steel before justice. You can't compare this outlet to the City of Kings.”

She let him take her hand and lead her swiftly out through the streets. While she was fiercely independent, and distrustful of shinobi, Daisuke had endeared himself to her, and if he felt he might be better at escaping—which shinobi tended to be very good at---she was better off following his lead. As they finally rounded a bend and ducked into an alleyway, out of the wind and cold, out of view, she lightly slapped herself on her forehead.

“It's sad, I'm justifying this escape against my honor as a swordsman. At least I didn't have to cut anyone. I---thank you. If you hadn't said something, I probably would have cut them all down then and there.”

The young woman blew her breath into her gloves and lightly padded her cheeks with them. Living here or not, cold was cold. That, and she felt suddenly very self-conscious. She could use Daisuke, and the poor ninja was hopelessly between drunk and smashed. So she could watch over him, too.

“Hey, I think you might have had enough of the somber air of this country. I could use the warmth of Fire's forest myself. Here...”

She reached into her bag, providing documented proof of her comings and goings from Konohgakure no Sato. “In a way, we're allies, and I think we both could use a straighter path than boozing and barfights.”

merdle
03-15-2014, 02:47 AM
Daisuke felt a needling sensation in the back of his mind. It was slowly overwhelming him as they ran through the streets, and it pounced to finish the job as they turned the corner in the alley. He was doing something wrong, and he didn't quite know what it was.

They got there, and Daisuke realized he had held Jun'ko's hand the whole time they were running through the streets. He pulled back, squeezing his hand with his other hand. He felt a wave of anxiety. He needed another drink, maybe a lot of drinks. That seemed to take care of the problem, and getting in fights with violent strangers did the exact opposite.

Jun'ko was talking, but he couldn't hear her thanks. The words poured in slow.

"No no," He said, "Sorry. I shouldn't have grabbed you back there. You know what you're doing, I shouldn't have gotten in the way."

At least his jacket was on better now, and he was away from the fighting. He didn't need any fights here. Instead he was forcing himself on samurai women, and worrying on top of worrying.

"Sorry."

It was strange. She was worried about her honor. Not her life, or even her money. It was all about her honor. Honor wasn't something that Daisuke worried about, it wasn't something a lot of shinobi had to worry about. Most of the time Daisuke wanted to fight someone from the maximum distance possible where he could still maintain accuracy. This was different, her idea of honor was different.

Then she recommended they leave. Was he causing that much trouble?

He looked at her documents, though he didn't really question if she was telling the truth.

"I'm sorry about your honor, I think," He started, "But I don't know if I can go back yet. This air, surrounded by killers, and hard rules, it might be exactly what I deserve. You said you're from here, what do you see in Fire that's so much better?"

Virtual Dream
03-18-2014, 05:04 PM
The samurai folded up her papers, tucking them away in her bag. Her eyebrow raised at Daisuke's apologies, and remained suspended. She had thought after something like that, anyone would be eager to go home...but Daisuke was punishing himself with her homeland, which was a bit of a backhanded way to look at someone's native country. Still, it wasn't exactly welcoming to her, either, and yet, here she was.

“It's not here,” She finally admitted. “The reason those men are after me is...loosely related to a Konohagakure shinobi that taught me that honor comes in different forms, and sense my own honor was broken here in Iron, I'm looking for redemption in Fire Country. Or anywhere, to be honest.”

At some point, her hands had dropped down to her swords, fingers resting against their beautifully wrapped hilts, rubbing them as her eyes lost focus on the man in front of her. “Konoha isn't a place of honor, like the City of Kings. Yet, you have a...”

She smiled, a bit awkwardly. “A thieves' honor, I guess?”

Her boot crunched audibly as she shifted her weight. It was weird, saying this stuff out loud. Then again, it was probably good for her to get her current philosophy out in the open like this, if only to test how ridiculous it sounded outside of her head. A mixture of the light injury and cold seemed to make her feel lightheaded, or maybe it was a steady embarassment of sharing something like this with a stranger?

“Why do you think to deserve to be separated from your comrades? I'd give nearly anything for my seat alongside my fellow samurai.” It hurt to say the words, but she powered through it.

Yet, here she was, actively adding reasons why she could never go back to her list of crimes.

merdle
03-20-2014, 06:44 PM
Daisuke couldn't look at Jun'ko. It was hard enough to say anything, his throat felt swelled shut and he everything that tried to come out was turned into a squeak. He didn't know if he just didn't want to answer the question, or couldn't answer the question. Why did he deserve to be here?

"I think I'm losing my mind," Daisuke finally said, "I've worked my whole life to try and be a competent shinobi, and now that might be the only thing I am."

There was more than that. There was fighting with former teammates, friendships he let go too far, and lives he saw fall in front of him. All of that together, he had never said it out loud, but it weighed on him.

"Two of my students have died, one of them I failed completely. I feel like a danger to students, instead of a teacher," He shook his head, "The best I can do for them is teach them to be killers."

Maybe it was the last waves of the alcohol talking, or maybe Daisuke was accessing the last small bits of his motivation, the last of himself. He felt red in the face, despite the cold. His fingers were tingling.

"Ms. Jun'ko," He looked up at her, "Your samurai friends deserve you. You're confident, smart, beau-... nice, and I can tell you're strong. I'm not confident, I can't talk, or strategize, I can barely cope, and still I'm just a competent shinobi."

He felt like an idiot. If there was one more failure to stack on top of everything else, admitting his weakness was a proper final straw. Daisuke wiped at his face with his hands, and came away with a deep breath.

There was still work to be done. Whether he deserved to go back or not, there was still work.

"It isn't fair though," He said, "I can't complain right, if you can't go back to your home. I will escort you back to Leaf, if you can't find anyone better."

Virtual Dream
03-22-2014, 09:08 AM
Jun'ko's stomach dropped, and she felt a cold sliding inside of her body that rivaled the snow around them. Her head swirled around in a sudden dizziness, and it took some considerable amount of willpower to center herself again, watching as Daisuke opened up his heart to her. He was a kindred spirit, someone going through the same doubts as her, but he was saying them so openly and so freely. A guy like this, despite what he was saying about himself, was an intrinsically good guy. Jun'ko couldn't bring herself to say it to him, though.

Instead, she reached out, and took his hand, as he did outside the bar. She bent her knees slightly so she could look at him directly in the eyes, a motion of lowering herself that she had previously reserved only for great lords and guests to the city—lowered herself to his level, that of a shinobi.

“Daisuke-kun, I betrayed centuries of tradition and a lifetime of training to protect what I thought was my honor, and in that selfish act, I lost not only that honor but my place as a protector of this country.” She slid her hand up his arm and rested it firmly on his shoulder. “We all do what we think we must in this lifetime. You wouldn't be trusted with students if your village didn't think you could handle it. I know how hard it is to protect children when they're in danger...and sometimes the best thing you can do is teach them to protect themselves. We live in a bloody world, Daisuke—being a killer isn't a sin, it's a way to survive.”

She broke away from the awkward embrace, feeling her body swoon about again. It was physically difficult for her to say things to opposed to her lifetime of bushido. To think like a ninja, to try and comfort this good man who was lost in her country. She moved alongside him, and lightly pressed against his back to get him moving.

“Leave confidence and strategy to wargames, Daisuke-kun.” The samurai fell into step alongside him. “I've met shinobi from all over the world, and it's always the honest hearts with the most doubts. They're also amongst the strongest men and women I've ever met. Your methods and ideology might be foreign to a samurai, but I can respect a warrior when I see one.”

Inhale. Exhale.

Daisuke, the distraught shinobi. Could honor be found in his heart? At the edge of Iron, in this world that wanted her dead?

“I can't think of anyone more qualified to escort me.” Her face flushed, maybe from cold, maybe from the line. “So, if you could...”

merdle
03-22-2014, 11:30 PM
Jun'ko touched him again, this time on the hand. When she tilted herself, he couldn't help but wonder what she was doing. He wasn't anyone important, he hadn't done anything for her but waste her time rambling out his sad story. Here she was, showing him a gesture of respect.

Samurai were weird.

She was telling her life story, and Daisuke swallowed a heavy breath. He thought his problems were bad, and here was someone who had actually sacrificed. Maybe he was right about one thing, Jun'ko was strong. She was living away from what she loved, and that was something that Daisuke couldn't do much longer. This place let what was left of him fester.

She called him strong, and she was wrong, but at least he thought he could trust her. If that was true, he could listen to her instructions. Leave confidence and strategy to wargames.

"Okay," He said, watching her with worried eyes, "Then we should take the shortest route out."

He walked with Jun'ko, keeping an eye out as they worked their way out of the city. If they headed East, they could touch Snow, then head straight South into Leaf. Iron wasn't that big, so they could make good time if they tried.

Daisuke couldn't say anything as they made it out into the countryside and cold. Jun'ko had poise, and likely could deal with any threat that came her way. He didn't want to bother her, but still, he was there. He didn't know how he was going to face being back home, especially with some of the rumors he heard in his time in Iron.

Their feet crunched through fresh powder, and a forest had popped up around them. It meant they were getting far enough from the frozen hills near the City of Kings.

It also meant they were far from the security of society. The stomp of hooves came up behind them, and Daisuke tried to ignore it. When he peeked over his shoulder, he saw something that made his back go straight.

"Familiar company," He said.

"Stop right there, ronin scum!" barked the leader of the band of bounty hunters.

There were less of them now, 5 horses at most, each carrying a scruffy looking hired-sword. They came to a stop, weapons already drawn and pointed at Jun'ko.

Daisuke put himself between them, arms up like before.

"Not this time, shinobi," Said the leader, "We're here for her head or her sword, whichever survives."

Daisuke looked over his shoulder with an apologetic nod, "I guess there has to be some bloodshed after all."

Virtual Dream
03-23-2014, 11:35 AM
As they started towards the forests that would lead them to Snow, Jun'ko felt her head swimming with weird emotions—conflicts of interest, mostly. It was weird letting the shinobi escort her, considering from his bumbling earlier he probably earned at least some of that self-loathing he was inflicting on himself...but Jun'ko respected honor before good sense, and felt like at least letting him lead her might help him recover as a man. She rose a scarf from her folds of clothing around her face to help beat out the cold, since the Jounin didn't seem particularly interested in talking, either out of his exhaustion or embarassment.

Daisuke...another charming man from Konohagakure. Jun'ko couldn't entertain he idea that she might have a thing for men from the Fire Country, so it had to be something in the village. Even with the horrors and blood on the village's hands, were they not also some of the first responders to global plight? Where they not well renowned for fierce loyalty to their teammates? Maybe it was all ninja trickery, but...yes. Jun'ko felt secure headed back to Konohagakure once again.

When Daisuke went rigid, the samurai held her hand up to her scarf, so it wouldn't billow away as she turned around to face whatever company he had seen---although the shouting of the leader put any confusion swiftly to rest. He was already larger than the samurai, but astride that horse, even a battle-hardened warrior felt pause One hand fell to rest on her katana's hilt, the other pulled her scarf down so she could talk.

“You needn't stand before me, Daisuke.” Honor before sense. “But let's not be hasty.”

She took a few steps forward, one hand ready to draw her sword in the space of a breath. Samurai were well trained in overwhelming odds, but she wasn't sure how Daisuke's drunkeness would affect whatever combat he traded in...he might be a liablilty.

“Who hired you?” Her voice was strong, steel cutting through cold air, with a rumble of bass that came from deep in her stomach. “I assure you, your lives must be worth more than coin. I'll spare none who come at me with iron bared!”

She owed Daisuke at least a chance to see that there didn't have to be bloodshed. He seemed hesitant enough about murder, it wouldn't be fair to drag him into her own petty squabbles. Still, she knew who hired these men—the City of Kings wasn't particularly interested in her crimes. It was her father, desperate to regain his status as an international merchant, desperate not to have any red in his ledger. Desperate to regain her swords, an heirloom that stretched back generations...and her father's coin was probably enough to make men feel bloodthirsty and invincible, considering his virtually bottomless coffers.

Still, there was only five of them. If one of them tried projectile or arrow, she could draw her blade swiftly enough to parry the attack, and she'd already spring forward the wind of her chi in that same instant...after that, they'd drop quicker than they could finish their own attacks. With Daisuke's help, the bounty hunters would be dead before they realized what they had done. This was a pointless battle, that would only end in swift death.

merdle
03-29-2014, 03:45 AM
This wasn't going well, not well at all. There were only so many ways out of this, and Daisuke suspected most of them ended with corpses. Not that he was against killing people, he was trained for it, from a pretty young age. He imagined that Ms. Jun'ko was as well. When you had jobs like them, you knew how to drop enemies.

Daisuke just didn't want to have to see everyone as an enemy. He didn't know these men, and he didn't know their story. For all he knew, Jun'ko was guilty, maybe she did deserve to be caught.

"You know exactly who sent us," The lead man said, and his horse neighed loud.

The other men continued to surround them, their horses spreading out until there was a semi-circle around them. It made Daisuke take a step back, but she was closer. Could he really turn his back on her?

"You think we're afraid of you?" He spat, "Some bitch hiding behind a sword, I hear you ran instead of standing by your own. I thought Samurai were honorable."

These were not good men. They were taunting her, picking at the life she lived, they expected her to be weak.

Two of the men drew bows, nocking arrows in a steady way that made Daisuke realize they were comfortable on horseback. This was their natural element.

With one blink, Daisuke had kunai in each of his hands. He couldn't kill them in one throw, but he could start on a few of them.

"You can't win you know," Daisuke said, his voice more a recommendation than a threat.

"What did you say?" The man said with his sword pointing toward Daisuke, "Speak up dead man."

Daisuke took a breath, let it out, "I'm a Jounin of Hidden Leaf, Any of you she doesn't kill, I'll put down."

These weren't good people. He realized that wasn't an excuse, it was the truth. Bad people would try to hurt good people, and once he knew who those were, he could make them go away.

The lead growled, and motioned with his sword. Daisuke knew the bows had already fired, though the sound would be delayed.

He threw kunai to match them, his arms spread out as the projectiles clinked in mid-air. His extra kunai hit the horses of the two archers, the animals crying out in pain as they bucked their riders.

Swords were drawn, it was time.

Virtual Dream
03-29-2014, 05:49 PM
I thought Samurai were honorable. I thought Samurai were honorable. I thought Samurai were honorable.

The leader gestured for his archers to fire, and Jun'ko stepped forward. She was surprised, in the edge of her vision, to see Daisuke besting her for speed and letting lose throwing daggers faster than the archers could let their arrows fly—in one stroke, he deflected projectiles midair and caused the archers to be bucked from their horses. As the two injured beasts reared back and whinnied, Jun'ko had already drawn her sword. Two archers on their backs, and one swordsman clutching his throat, as if he could somehow stitch together his jugular through willpower alone. In less than five minutes, all of his blood would be emptied out on the snow at his feet. Her second sword took slightly longer to draw, but it was alight with hot wind, blades turning white like fire, and her wakizashi parried the wild overhead blow of the second swordman. In the next second, he his feet left the ground as the samurai's katana broke through his chest and pierced his lung, exploding out of his back covered in black and red gristle.

In just two seconds, both of the bounty hunter's archers were on the ground, one with a broken neck, the other so winded he was losing consiousness. In just two seconds, both of his swordsmen dropped faster than they pulled their swords at the ready---well, one was impaled in the air, but the life was leaving him all the same. In just two seconds, the bounty hunter realized that samurai are not prone to making idle threats.

“Nice work,” She said. “Plenty of tricks in your pockets, ey, Daisuke-kun?”

Her immense strength tossed the swordsman off her katana, and the white-hot wind that generated from her sheer fighting spirit caused the ill blood to boil and slide down the edge of the blade, dripping the blood free like water on a window. She pointed the wakizashi towards the leader.

“You've three horses and a family's worth of blood on your hands,” Her ankle twitched, her calves tried to pounce. Every fiber of her training demanded that she finish the job. It wouldn't do her any good to leave a survivor...and besides, Daisuke had felt the need to reveal his rank and village. She'd let him decide if the man lived or died.

The last of the blood slipped free from her blades, and she let the wakizashi drop, yet remained ever at the ready. “I don't know about you, Daisuke, but I don't feel bad about taking some dead bounty hunter's horses. It'd make our trip more manageable.”

Her eyes never left the eyes of the leader, cold and coiled, like a snake.

merdle
03-29-2014, 06:56 PM
It was over in an instant. No sooner than he could release his kunai, Jun'ko did her work. He had seen swordsmen work, seen many people draw a blade, but that was the first time Daisuke had ever seen a samurai at work. The speed and strength, it was astounding. By the time the horses could push off their riders, she had two more men dead or dying. It left the leader, his head going back and forth to see what a terrible fight he had unleashed on his allies.

"That's why they called me pockets," Daisuke admitted with a proud smile. It felt like an achievement, for once. Maybe it was the recognition, a chance for someone to tell him that he had done right.

He pulled a new kunai, and walked up to stand by Jun'ko. Horses were panicking, and the quickest way to solve this mission would be to kill this bounty hunter and move on with their lives. They were strong, he wasn't. Besides, he would be so easy to kill.

"Fine," The hunter broke, his eyes down on Jun'ko's sword, "I give, it isn't worth it."

He jumped down from his horse, hands up in the air, "Take the horse, just go. Don't kill me."

Daisuke pointed his kunai at the man, and almost threatened him. He remembered the man on the road to Iron. A bandit that had attacked a family, ran off, and Daisuke disabled. The man begged for his life, and Daisuke left him there, bleeding out. In the moment, he wished he could take that back. It wasn't his job, and it the man never stood a chance. Why kill him?

"You...we talked about honor, right?" Daisuke said looking at Jun'ko, "Does he seem worth it? We punished him enough, he punished himself enough." It was hard to say out loud.

Daisuke reached out as if to touch Jun'ko's shoulder, but stopped short.

"He isn't our mission. He is a nobody. We can knock him out, and go home." He had a lot to do when he got back, and for the first time in days, he felt excited about it.

Virtual Dream
04-01-2014, 10:03 AM
Pockets, huh?

She coiled a smile at the edge of her face, softening the battle visage she had been wearing just moments before. Pearly white teeth peeked out from full lips, her beauty not distracted from her battle stance. Informed by it, maybe—if you were into strong women. She tilted her head to keep the hunter in her vision as he slipped of his horse, arms raised.

She started to step forward to cut him down, but Daisuke's soft words made her hesitate, fingers dripping her swords so tightly her knuckles were turning white. This man—this hunter—represented her crimes, represented her shame. He'd gladly take money and turn her in, even if it meant she wouldn't have a chance at redemption. It would be simple to cut him down, and then she wouldn't have to worry about her alliance with Konoha to get out to her father, to get back to the City of Kings. She didn't need that, not now. Not while she was still too weak to fight off the real samurai of Iron. Not while she was still too ashamed to call her self a true servant.

Daisuke reached out to her, and she notably flinched away from him—not from disgust, but from her own shame. She leaned her shoulder into his hand and nodded at him.

“Okay. I can let this one live. For your honor, not mine.”

Before the hunter could sigh relief, she was ON him, one heeled riding boot digging into his shoulder, her katana pointed at his throat, close enough that if he swallowed, his adam's apple would tap her point. She sheathed her wakizashi, and as she did so, the white-hot energy that emitted from her blade started to cool. In the snowy surroundings, vapor started to form at the end of the sword, condensation slipped down it, water still hot enough to sting the man as it dropped.

Even her vapor was sharp.

His back dug into the dirt beneath the snow, one of her powerful legs supported her other, digging the heel into the soft pocket of the shoulder. He yelped in pain, and couldn't bring himself to make eye contact with the woman.

“Listen to me, hunting dog. I've got your face. I know your colors. If I hear anyone coming for me with information from you, I'll cut them down, and then I'll come for you. I won't owe you a fair duel if you rat me out, you understand? I won't cut you down easy like I did your friends. I'll see how long it takes my blade to go dull on your festering hide if I have to. Got it?!”

She released her boot, and the man promptly scurried out from underneath her, crying out expletives as he ran, cursing her from high heaven. She watched him start down hill as she sheathed her katana, the steel singing out as it slid into the scabbard. Then she turned to Daisuke, and all that frightening malice seemed to fade away—her voice was still sharp, and the adrenaline high was still bouncing in her chest, so as she tried to soften her expression, she just came off as looking excited.

“Let's ride, okay?” She tapped the side of the hunter's horse and nodded at the ninja. “I've been riding since I was a girl. I can carry you, if you need.”

She pulled herself up on the horse and then stuck out her hand towards Daisuke. This was good—yet another Konoha shinobi was allowing her to understand honor from a completely different view.

Daisuke.

OOC: I'm fine with this ending the thread, if you want. I think I'm gonna keep this horse, bruv.

merdle
04-02-2014, 01:35 AM
He did manage to stop her from killing him, but he didn't stop the aggression. That much he could understand. The man came here with the purpose of stealing her life from her, there was no reason for her to let him live. From Jun'ko's view, he deserved death. What role did Daisuke play in all this, how could he tell her to let this man walk away?

When she scared him off, sent him running back to Iron with his tail between his legs, Daisuke realized how right she was. If he decided to turn on them, and there was no reason to think he wouldn't, Daisuke would have to take action. He couldn't let a single man walk away with secrets like that and just hope everything worked out. In the real world, he had responsibilities.

The idea put a pit in his stomach. Jun'ko got on the horse, and Daisuke looked to her, saw that something had relieved her. Maybe it was letting the man go, maybe something else.

"I think I need," Daisuke said, looking up at her. He frowned, "I mean, I think I need to be carried." That really didn't help things.

He jumped onto the back of the horse, ready to ride. The last time he had ever been on a horse... he couldn't remember. The last time he had to sit this close to a grown woman, maybe just as long.

"Don't go too fast, okay?" He asked.

He had a lot to think about on the way home. A lot to answer for as well, though he was starting to realize that he was the only member on the jury.

At least he had Jun'ko's words with him now.