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Old 07-04-2017, 05:55 AM   #11
kyzuko
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There was no sound in the dark room but breathing, two figures on the bed coiled closely together beneath a blanket, a noticeable void in the space, all illuminated only by a narrow beam of light stretching across the room from a door left cracked open. This beam that lit upon the sleeping forms of the girls from the hallway led back to the man that they had come to meet, standing beyond the door, running water in the sink and looking at his hands.

Shibata Ishii had a troubled mind.

He avoided catching his own reflection in the mirror of the medicine cabinet, opening it up and withdrawing a bottle of pills that the sawbones Morimoto-san had on staff kept him well-supplied with for the aches and pains. Not that Ishii was generally bothered by the average aches and pains of any average man. No, his aches and pains were of joints pushed beyond their limits for decades, bones broken and rebroken too many times to count, internal injuries that many wouldn’t be able to walk away from. Everytime the man walked to the cage, he was acutely aware of the feeling of his tibia and fibula shifting uncertainly against the weathered cartilage of his knees. Everytime he raised the belt before and after a match, the champion was well aware of the grinding feeling he felt in his shoulders, bone grinding against bone. He was a bombed out ruin of a man.

And yet, here he was, victorious. He smiled at himself in the mirror undearneath in the leather mask that had hid his face since he came to Metsubishi all those months ago. If he was a bombed out ruin, what did it make the trail of bodies he had left behind him?

Even bandaged as he was, the man cut a fearsome image as he stood in the bathroom, hands gripping around the edge of the sink. What flesh wasn’t covered by the bandages from the Doc features a story told in ink and scar tissue. Gashes and slashes and burns marred a canvas featuring hyenas and bats and snakes. A withered face inked in purple and gold with the mouth stitched shut and pronounced red X’s over each eye stared back towards the bedroom, the warrior’s ‘concubines’ recuperating. It was clear everything about the man had a story and that story was one of savagery and conflict and pain.

And, ultimately, of victory.

But then, the clapping started. But then, Shibata Ishii, the Iron Devil of Bird Country, was no longer the only presence.

But then, an impossible thin, pale, angular figure strode into the reflection of the medicine cabinet. ”Well, well, another impressive showing from the champion tonight, hmm? It certainly looks like it got you quite the purse—or purses, I suppose.” The Intruder was clad in a white dress shirt with a black vest and slacks that all seemed to more hang from his linear body than be fitted to any form. His face was angular and malnourished, a broad smile of bright white teeth that seemed too full, crowded such that they seemed to jostle for position, pale blonde hair swooped back and two-tone eyes sunken above strong cheekbones.

This was the figure that troubled the mind of the champion. This was the man who had spoke to him in the middle of this match. And the last one. And the one before that, more and more present each time. This wasn’t the first time this ‘Thin White Duke’ figure had haunted Ishii’s mind.

”Was there ever any doubt?” The voice was low and quiet, not wanting to wake the women in the other room. He reached back with his foot, pressing the door shut.

That grin. That stupid fucking grin. ”No, not really, but you were taking your sweet time about it, weren’t you? Got a bit tidier once I stepped in, didn’t it?” He leaned against the wall now, removing a shiny silver cigarette cases from the vest and lighting a thin white coffin nail.

The man recalled that moment in the fight, the whistling, and then…then it was all blank until he was in the doctor’s office. Sadly, that wasn’t the first time that had happened either. More and more, the man known as Shibata Ishii had begun to lose or blur parts of the day. Part of him wondered whether he was suffering some sort of brain injury. Another part of him, however, wondered if someone was messing with his mind, trying to sabotage him or Morimoto’s operation. Either were serious and possible.

What the man did know with certainty is how this smug bastard’s trompings through his brain made him want to start ripping out the bones that must have been 90% of this little shit’s body. ”Just what the fuck do you think you are doing? Do you have any clue who I am?”

A smoky chuckle came from around the lit cigarette, superiority and arrogance radiating through the air. ”Do I know who you are? Do I? Brother, do you have any clue who you are? Or have you lost it after all those months playing make believe behind that stupid mask?”

The hateful scowl was mostly hidden by the mask as Ishii looked at the thin white nothing leaning against the wall behind him through the reflection, unable to deny that he had a point. He wasn’t lying. Shibata Ishii wasn’t even a thing until he put the mask on and started fighting here. And he had worked hard to stay in this character, to be nobody else but the masked champion. That mask stayed on most of the day. Eating, sleeping, training—it was always on. Because that was Shibata Ishii.

”Come on, then. Why don’t you take off that mask and remember who you really are. Shibata Ishii is nothing compared to what’s really under there and we both know it.”

The champion felt compelled to obey somehow—something which only served to make him angrier. Noentheless, his hands were now on the laces on the back of the mask, untying the knots and loosening the laces. As the mask came up and the battered face came into view, Shibata Ishii vanished, replaced by the honest to god truth.

”There we go. Welcome back to reality, Kuma.”
__________________

"The more I see of what you call civilization,
the more highly I think of what you call savagery!"

Robert E. Howard, King Kull
||GM, Arechihana Bloodline Clan of Sand||
||Co-GM, Shoda Bloodline Clan of Cloud||
\\Shoda Hoshihana, Cloud Jounin//
//Arechihana Sasori, Spartoi\\
||Yotarou Ouji, SUNA chuunin||Koike Kano, ANBU||
||Hasami Kuma, the Iron Devil of Sound||Tsubasa Kinoshita, Rain Jounin||
Jutsu||Items
\\Taka//
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Old 07-25-2017, 01:13 AM   #12
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It wasn’t so much that a spell had been lifted than a reverie had been broken. The past few months as Shibata Ishii were comfortable and simple in just the way Hasami Kuma needed: show up, kick ass, get paid, leave. It was the life he had come to age in, being tested daily in the clashing of blood and bone.

Ishii’s was a simple and direct life. Hasami Kuma, bunraku of Sound, was not so simple. It had been simple once, a threadbare thing of survival and desperation. But that was before the catacombs, before the Naga, and before New Sound rose from the depths of Sound’s past, a gleaming revenant amongst the ruins of of the old village, haunting the world which rejected it, searching for acceptance this time rather than dominance.

But so many things had changed so fast. The tents were gone, replaced by apartments and homes and whatever else fit the needs of the former nomads. The bunraku found themselves elevated from the elite wetworks force of Sound to a position of honor and ‘respectability’, a reward for their faithful service. The monster among men had never been a silver spoon type. His parents were rank and file shinobi of Otogakure. His mentor, a seasoned and disfigured Decaying Fist master known only as “The Devil” for lack of any memory of his true name, had kept them moving, the master and disciple living as drifters and owning only what they could carry. The closest the man had ever gotten to luxury was during his time in fighting rings in Coal, River, Wheat, Wave, and anywhere else that life took him, and he had similarly fled from that at the first word of the nomadic remnants of Sound.

But now? Hasami Kuma was presented with as near a mansion as he could ever imagine, all gleaming walls and double paned windows and ceiling fans and indoor plumbing. These trappings of civilization didn’t really suit Kuma. It was like stiff new suit, having all the appearances of elegance and class but chafing in its rigidity. There was a freedom and simplicity to the Sound Nomad life that was sundered in New Sound and the brute felt it quickly.

And so, like the story of the savage taken from the jungle and put into all the components of the life denied him by tragedy, Kuma had cast them off and fled screaming into the savage, fatal wilds he had known best. Back to River, back to Metsubishi, and back to a smoke-filled den, a steel cage, and blood. The owner was different after all these years and so was the style, but it was all the same at its core. Put on a good show, sharpen iron against iron, and collect your purse.

But now, that was very clearly at an end. The White Duke was getting more and more persistent. He had been pestering him for four months now, first as a conspicuous figure in the crowd before advancing to a voice ever in his head and, now, here he was, inspecting the smoldering cigar Kuma had been enjoying after his victory celebration with the ringrats. He had never been so present or insistent or annoying as he was at this moment.

”Okay, I’ve had about enough of you butting in. Just who are you?”

Running the length of the half-smoked cigar beneath his nose, savoring the powerful and rich aroma of the gift one of Morimoto’s sponsors had given him a month ago, the stick figure of a man took his time responding, casting that smile—that lopsided, arrogant smile, one eyebrow raised and an unveiled superiority beaming outwards in all directions—upon his angular, chalk-white face. ”Oh, come now, Kuma-san. Surely you haven’t forgotten me already? Or has your brain truly started to go down that path already? Are we going to have to come up with some overwrought moniker for you like that teacher of yours had?”

Rage. Unparalleled, burning, seething, rip-a-man-in-two rage took over the senshi’s body inch by battle-hardened itch, leaving just one island adrift in the tempestuous sea that was not rage, but something most would say is foreign to Hasami Kuma: fear. The fear that this pompous, smug son of a bitch was right.

The Thin White Duke could see his mission was accomplished, though. Kuma was an animal—a powerful and fearsome animal, to be sure, but an animal. ”You want to do something about me? About it? You know where I’ll be waiting, Kuma. Come and get me.”

And with a flickering of the lights, the taunting wisp was gone. It was just Kuma in the bathroom, the cigar returned to its original place. With a growl and a sigh, the gnarled knot of a man returned to the mirror. Duke was right. He had to know.

And that meant, for the second time in his life, it was time to go back to Hidden Sound.
__________________

"The more I see of what you call civilization,
the more highly I think of what you call savagery!"

Robert E. Howard, King Kull
||GM, Arechihana Bloodline Clan of Sand||
||Co-GM, Shoda Bloodline Clan of Cloud||
\\Shoda Hoshihana, Cloud Jounin//
//Arechihana Sasori, Spartoi\\
||Yotarou Ouji, SUNA chuunin||Koike Kano, ANBU||
||Hasami Kuma, the Iron Devil of Sound||Tsubasa Kinoshita, Rain Jounin||
Jutsu||Items
\\Taka//
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Old 07-25-2017, 07:41 AM   #13
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Another round of knocking finally brought a response, the door opening before Morimoto Kaito, the middle-aged businessman walking the fine line between ostentatious and classy at all times. ”About time, champ! We gotta ta—oh, uh, excuse me, ladies.” Ever the gentlemen, Morimoto stepped aside, but not before producing two business cards to hand over to the women, obviously bedraggled despite their hurried best efforts to gather themselves; a seasoned veteran of these sorts of businesses knew potential when he saw it, though, even when performing a bit of the old “walk of shame”. ”You girls ever want to make some real money, come and find me. I’m always in need of harming specimens such as yourselves.”

The girls didn’t respond, but both cards were gone as they left. Morimoto looked after them in confusion. What’s got them so spooked? Don’t tell me he is in a bad mood. I don’t know a man who can come back to his dressing room with a briefcase of money and wake up angry. “Hey, Shibata-san, you all right in there?”

The response was silence. Stepping inside the room, the only light was in the bathroom, the door partially shut to leave a beam of light across the expanse. The scene it revealed was one that seemed a different sort of messy than a roll in the hay with two groupies. It looked more like someone had packed up in a hurry. Aw, shit. Please don’t tell me he is gone.

Proceeding across the room to the bathroom, Morimoto closed his eyes and slowly pushed the door open, hoping that when he opened them, he would see his champion in just about any state. He’d deal with the consequences or intrusion, but he just needed the big son of a bitch to be there. A creak accompanied the opening of the door, heralding the opening of the booker’s eyes.

”Well, fuck…”

There was no Shibata Ishii. There was just an empty bathroom, the heavy gold and silver championship belt hanging from the towel rack, the dark leather of the Iron Devil’s mask accompanying it and a small note nearby. With the hesitant curiosity of a man hoping he isn’t about to see his fortune ride off into the sunset, Morimoto crossed the bathroom, his expensive shoes making light taps across the tile, before coming face to face with the Kings Road Championship, now defaced with a large eighth note carved directly across the engraved golden globe. Morimoto was worldly enough to know that symbol, processing the meaning after a few seconds.

Quickly grabbing up the note, the businessman devoured the words.

Quote:
Morimoto-san,

Seems I have some explaining to do. Thank you for giving me the space to do what I needed and to remember who and what I am. Time has come for me to go. I left half my winnings behind as compensation for the inconvenience, but I hope your fortunes and that belt won’t diminish.

After all, not everyone can say their champion was Hasami Kuma.
His mind was whirring, trying to place the name, plugging together the symbol carved into his belt and the name to recall that tournament from months ago that had brought a bunch of shinobi against each other. The runner up had been none other than a Hasami Kuma of the once extinct Hidden Sound Village.

Slinging the belt over his shoulder and clutching the note and the mask in each hand, Morimoto ran. For the first time in years, he was running. Out of the room, up the hall, up the stairs to the office where his underlings were tossing around ideas for the next match. They stared at him in confusion as he tossed the title onto the heavy maple table, followed by the note and the mask. The men looked from their boss to the items and back again, confused. But before they could voice their confusion, the promoter spoke.

“Next week, we will announce a tournament for the Odo Championship. The champ has vacated the title. We will bring in the best fighters from around the world to compete in a round robin tournament that will carry us through the next three months. Book the Twin Lions, Scorpio, Bad Luck Aki, Owari Keni, Ibushi, Marafuji, Giant Baba, Misawa, Kawada, Taue, Kobashi, Muto, Chono, Hashimoto, Toru Yano, everybody—hell, even Sanda Raiga if he wants to lace them up! The winner will be the Odo champ and take home the biggest purse in the history of Kings Road! We will call it the Iron Devil Tournament!

And let it be known, Shibata Ishii? He was not the Iron Devil of Bird Country! He was the Iron Devil of Sound, Hasami Kuma! Make the calls and print the posters! We are all going to be very, very rich men!”
__________________

"The more I see of what you call civilization,
the more highly I think of what you call savagery!"

Robert E. Howard, King Kull
||GM, Arechihana Bloodline Clan of Sand||
||Co-GM, Shoda Bloodline Clan of Cloud||
\\Shoda Hoshihana, Cloud Jounin//
//Arechihana Sasori, Spartoi\\
||Yotarou Ouji, SUNA chuunin||Koike Kano, ANBU||
||Hasami Kuma, the Iron Devil of Sound||Tsubasa Kinoshita, Rain Jounin||
Jutsu||Items
\\Taka//
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Old 07-26-2017, 02:37 AM   #14
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The morning sun intensified, banishing the mist along the river road heading out of Metsubishi. The road was starting to come alive, wagons laden for Grass or Leaf heading out of the city alongside some more pedestrian traffic. Farmers, merchants, travelers. All walks of life found themselves alongside one another in travel.

One of these figures was not quite of those three categories, however, though traveler was probably closest. It was a bit grim to call what he did harvesting and he wasn’t quite so mercenary to call it a transaction either. No, this man was best described as a traveler, a battered black duffle slung over his shoulder and garbed in a conspicuous white haori, bandages covering the length of his arms. A nomad carrying his life on his back.

Hasami Kuma had a long walk back to Otogakure. He had considered taking a boat around the Fire and Wheat Peninsula—“The Hot Bread”, he had heard it called by some sailors in his time. But he ultimately decided the unrest in Water Country and the general hawkishness of Hidden Leaf towards his kind made that a less than opimal route, even if it would be much quicker. No, instead the senshi would walk the same route he had taken all those years ago, give or take a few dozen miles. River to Grass, Grass to Bear, Bear to Iron, and finally through the graveyard that was Snow into Rice Country.

It gave him some time to think. Some would say giving a beast like Kuma time to think is a waste, mistaking his brutish nature for a simplicity of thought barely above instinct. But Hasami Kuma was no simpleton and he had plenty to think about, the Thin White Duke topping the list. To be honest, the shinobi hoped for some chances to stretch his legs, so to speak. It had been 7 months since he had really any excuse to use any of his fancier training. Enough time for some rust on the struts, surely. If he could manage to find just a bit of trouble, the Kuma would be glad for it. He always liked trouble.

But for now, he had a long day walking ahead of him to get across the border before Morimoto-san started spreading the news that he was in Metsubishi. Once word got out, Konoha might send someone out to track him. They might not, too, but they might. And if they did, the bunraku wanted to make sure he was out of their jurisdiction. He wasn’t in great condition for any fight, let alone against a hunter-nin.

Lowering the brim of the sugegasa even further and taking a swig of water as he went, the wayward shinobi of Sound decided it best to keep his head down and keep moving. Four weeks. That’s what it should take him, plus or minus a few days depending on what sort of trouble he encounters.

And this was just day one.
Exit Theme: Murder by Death – I’m comin’ Home
__________________

"The more I see of what you call civilization,
the more highly I think of what you call savagery!"

Robert E. Howard, King Kull
||GM, Arechihana Bloodline Clan of Sand||
||Co-GM, Shoda Bloodline Clan of Cloud||
\\Shoda Hoshihana, Cloud Jounin//
//Arechihana Sasori, Spartoi\\
||Yotarou Ouji, SUNA chuunin||Koike Kano, ANBU||
||Hasami Kuma, the Iron Devil of Sound||Tsubasa Kinoshita, Rain Jounin||
Jutsu||Items
\\Taka//
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