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Old 12-10-2018, 02:00 AM   #1
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Default [Calamity - Task] The Good, The Bad and the Golden

The Oracles believed that each of the champion was named for a particular reason, and that their respective parts to play in the grand scheme of things would eventually be revealed. Daisuke was not the only one to stay behind – some sought knowledge in the Grand Temple's library and archives, or pestered the wardens for leads. Others came and went on small errands, surely fulfilling something. According to some of the wardens, it simply appeared that Daisuke's purpose had yet to present itself.

A handful of the destined-few, barring those from Wind country, seemed to know who he was – or, at least, of him – a level of notoriety that Daisuke was still getting accustomed to. Despite that, he'd basically been ignored and it only fueled more suspicions about the motives of several of the more questionable champions that didn't even bother to look his way when he made his exit. It was definitely a mixed bag. He wondered if maybe it was a good thing he hadn't left on a fool's errand with any of the more unscrupulous characters – Enzan's orders, after all, included avoiding any and all unnecessary risks.

And so, for several days prior to the summit and for several days after, Daisuke didn't contribute much. He'd considered keeping tabs on a handful of the champions who rubbed him the wrong way, but did not want to deal with the consequences of being caught on the off chance that something were to go wrong. Just as well, he'd made no further attempt to remove a tome which caught his eye on the second day of his occupation there after the head librarian Kotono had noticed him making a motion towards forming a handseal. He hadn't expected so many others to have been roped into the same mess that he was--the clashing cultures and loud personalities were a lot to deal with, and not fully knowing the motivations of both those who purportedly required his services nor those others caused him enough anxiety that he figured it would be better if he kept his head down.

By day, he monitored those coming and going from the larger central temple structure to the outlying fortifications. By night, he left a shadow clone in his place, and by the door to the meager accommodations that the wardens had managed to provide him despite his unexpectedly early arrival to the mountain. Admittedly, he hadn't been the most vigilant – officially, he was on leave.

Whatever, he thought, stretching his arms above his head and yawning. He looked around, gazing out onto the horizon and down the mountainside as far as his eyes could manage. Night was falling rapidly – he figured it was unlikely that teams would return that evening unless they had another means of transportation (he himself had flown there initially on the eagle Kohaku). Guides from the lowlands probably wouldn't want to make the climb in the dark.

Just as he rose to make his way back to the meager quarters the wardens provided, he caught movement in his periphery – something shining, like beaten silver in the moonlight. It bobbed and swayed before it became a full, albeit pint-sized, silhouette of a boy sporting an afro streaked with snow.

Daisuke did not recognize him from the summit. He knew that the wardens were predominantly female and so it seemed odd that he might be affiliated with them. He also knew that several young kids had been named as champions from a number of villages, so he figured it was possible that this one was just late to the party. The sword he carried suggested as much – the scrolls and books were another story altogether.

"Oy," he called, quietly enough as to not disturb the nearby wardens finishing their dusk-ly duties. He raised a hand, beckoning the kid to come over to the gatehouse.

As the boy with the afro got closer, Daisuke asked, "What's, uh... goin' on?"
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Old 12-12-2018, 04:46 AM   #2
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Ugh...

The boy felt the frustration curving his brows.

–Catching up was so difficult.

Tufts of curled hair sprinkled in the hue of snow were radiant beneath the highlights of dusk. The past couple of days, or weeks, even, had become particularly difficult for the young Blacksmith of Kirigakure no Sato. First, his whole being was shaken to the core by a rather bizarre dream entailing a mysterious coin flipping man in a suit, and then the next thing he knew he was being summoned to a distant mountaintop to partake in saving the world. It was difficult to deal with, so much so that his tiny caramel hands – fastened about a book entitled The Art of the Smiths Through the Ages no less – quivered as he paced beyond several interlinking corridors that comprised the Grand Temple of the High Wardens. All the talks about mysticism and end of the world scenarios weren’t even the worst part for him, not at all. The icing on the cake for Echizen, anyway, was the amount of people and champions called to the mountain.

Being surrounded by too many people he didn’t know made him anxious, and although he’d been working on being social–

It was too much for the kid.

So he opted out on most of the group meetings and became entrenched in the Grand Library like the little introvert he was. As a number of days passed since the large gathering of champions had met and their respective quests became clear, so did Echizen’s. Out of everything, if there was one thing that Kirigakure’s Number One Rookie knew – it was books. Books and research. Books, research, and Blacksmiths. Researching Blacksmiths – specifically. If their end game was forge together a mystical weapon, the Blacksmith was the key to all of this. And so this is what Echizen spent the last couple of days doing:

Research.

Boot clad feet shuffled quiet against wood paneled floors as he balanced books and scrolls between each hands. Deep brown eyes peered past large circular spectacles as his focus lay on reading. With Afro tied up in a large nappy ponytail with a satin sky blue head wrap blanketing his ears and forehead, the little boy looked rather clean cut in his button down and haori as he moved throughout the compound. That’s all Echizen was doing. Walking and muttering. Muttering and walking. Researching, walking, and muttering. Taking notes, walking, muttering, and research–

Oy

Echizen’s body snapped to attention.

What's, uh... goin' on?

And at a drop of a dime, the gentle Genin began to fumble everything he balanced in hands.

W-what? Missed meeting? W-wow, I didn’t even notice! I was with Librarian Kotono-dono the whole time and – phew, just, just time flies by when you’re uh...when you’re reading, ya’know? O-often even I just am so enthralled with the literature that I just lose track of time, you’ve experience the same before, haven’t you? I mean it’s not like I was avoiding anyone, I just wanted to make sure I could be as useful as I could be and I got the gist of what and where everyone was going and just felt that the best course of action for me, personally, anyway, wastobearoundheretogetmoreresearchdonesothatwe’r e all evenmorepreparedforwhat’stocomeoratleasttrytobet heonetofindthekeyingredienttoputtingthesword together could....be...–

The boy paused, and then bowed real deep, breathing slow.

S-sorry,” It was difficult communicating with people. Echizen clutched the books and scrolls tighter, “Nerves, is...is all.

A curious eye lifted, looking at the shinobi before him:

W-what are...what are you still doing here?

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Old 12-13-2018, 02:23 AM   #3
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Shipori stepped into the low light of sunset on the mountainside and squinted up at the sky while his eyes adjuster. The research was finished, he thought, at least as far as he could gather from books and scrolls. The Wardens had managed to keep the right amount of information to raise all sorts of interesting questions while providing minimal satisfying answers. He knew enough to get himself into trouble, for sure, and maybe just enough more to keep himself alive through the ordeals to come. The rest – he'd have to write that himself, appended to all the notes he'd copied into his own tomes.

Nothing new.

Shipori tapped his cane against the ground and started to walk. The limp came out obvious on one side; what he had once exaggerated now seemed genuine. He had become the frail old man he had been playing his whole life. A few people still milled about outside the shrine and its facilities, some Wardens finishing their duties for the day and a handful of shinobi visitors making final preparations.
He shook his head. Not shinobi exclusively, they had other miko here, a samurai or two, and perhaps stranger things besides, from all across the continent all pledging to work together.

That part is new.

He hobbled along in a meandering route back to the lodgings for the night. Shipori may have grown out of pretending to be old, and pretending to be young, but he still had a few more roles to play on this particular stage before the curtain fell. Going to bed early was a privilege.

Not leaving a helpless old man behind, that's what he's still doing here. I had a few loose ends to tie before heading to Bird Country – I hope you've finished any of your own preparations.” Shipori recognized the older boy, though he didn't know precisely why he was there. The younger boy's name eluded him, but he'd spent enough time in the library to know his face.

I won't tell the Wardens, but I think we might be approaching curfew for the both of you.” Shipori lifted one hand off his cane to wriggle his fingers. “They say all sorts of spooky things happen on the mountain after dark. You might just get spirited away.
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Old 12-14-2018, 07:29 AM   #4
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Tch–

If only he'd been paying more attention – the arrival of the afro-samurai-scholar (although Daisuke still hadn't put it all together, he could tell that the kid knew how to fight – he was probably a ninja) had caught him off guard long enough for a slightly more familiar champion to make his way into the scene.

Daisuke wasn't so sure about him.

Still, he figured there was a decent chance that his nerves had just gotten the better of him--the aftermath of the skirmish with the Sennin-level nukenin Tsuriau Iemitsu still haunted him so intensely that he'd assumed the dream (which each of the champions had supposedly repeatedly shared) was really just her psychic influence.

To his credit, she could (if what scraps of information he managed to obtain about the "potential" extent of her abilities were true) effectively read his thoughts, see anything he saw, hear what he heard, and experience any other sensations or perceptions that he himself might. She had already demonstrated the ability to communicate with him telepathically, and when word reached the Tsuriau elders that Daisuke had sought to "bribe" the young Tsuriau Rina into divulging further information (in a half-baked attempt to find a way to sever their connection), they pulled strings within the administration to have her placed on an extended leave-of-absence. Indirectly placing further strain on the already tense relationship between the Tsuriau and Sunagakure provided all the more reason for Enzan to send Daisuke away... if and only until the end of the world.

If he was to keep a low profile, he'd need to keep his suspicions to himself. So, he played along, fully aware of the fact that this mountain and much of the surrounding lands, including the Hazy Mountains which extended into the western reaches of his home country, played host to all manner of things which go bump in the night.

"Don't get jittery on me kid – if the boogeymen wanted to get anyone they'd grab this old geezer first."

He flashed a smile at the boy, nodding in the old man's direction, but his smile faded quickly.

"I'd be more worried about the Warlords in Bird than the witches – speaking of, what's the deal there, gramps... you're not trying to leave right now, are you? Wasn't there another shinobi – that swordsman?"

Daisuke was pretty sure it was the guy who recognized him, but didn't remember if he ever caught his name.

The old man hadn't exactly been forthcoming with his own name either, instead leaning on his cane, his wit, and his pocketbook. There was a certain comfort in anonymity when dealing with those types, Daisuke knew, a truth which usually cut both ways.

He wondered whether this nameless boy intended to come with them as well. If he hadn't attended the meeting, there was a chance he was unaware of the promises of payment that the old man had made. At the very least, his precariously balanced collection of books and scrolls suggested that the kid had done his homework – perhaps he knew something that could prove useful to them?
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Old 12-22-2018, 08:35 PM   #5
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Echizen, making friends with creepy old men, again?

A flash of yellowed, jagged teeth as the swordsman took a swig from a rust-colored flask, pocketing it away in his heavy jacket before stumbling his way close to the group. He smelled like sweaty musk, cheap spirits, and the sea. That salty freshness hung around him like an aura, even this far up the mountainside. It didn’t do much to soften the rankness of everything else. He glared over his gloved hand as he wiped away at his mouth, and pointed with the hilt of his scabbard-ed sword at Daisuke. “Kirigakure ain’t floating any free agents towards Kaze no Kuni anytime soon, Midori no Yurei-sama. They say you fly around, breathing fire like a dragon. You pray on little boys too?

He glared at the man for a few seconds, sharp behind his blade, before breaking out into laughter, like he had told some great joke, slapping at his knee. A few times he hiccuped with enough force that something crawled up his throat, before thumbing over at Echizen. “Kid don’t look like much, but he’s pro’ly better’n half the men sent up this mountain. Yours truly no exception. But no time to talk shop, swear to the sea below and skies above time works weird on this mountaintop. Like months have passed overnight, right? I ain’t the only one, right?

Daisuke’s - - the aforementioned “Midori no Yurei-sama” - - contract with the shinobi Eagle house offered them the swiftest transportation known to ninja-kind: on the back of Shitou, the brick-shithouse of the family. Legends of the bird itself preceded and perhaps rivaled the mysterious green ghost and his many deeds. They made an odd pair, but you couldn’t ignore the thematic appeal of being a man from Wind making friends with the Eagles. And riding one into Bird Country! Even half illiterate, the pieces seemed to be falling into place.

Literally, in Ren’s case - - over the flight there, his relationship with Shitou quickly soured. They were both the type to try and pick and peel at someone else’s scabs, so he was thrown violently from the back of the bird as they came close to Baku, the village that was the closest to the forested temple that supposedly held some two-hundred year old witch. Ren wasn’t one for older women.

However, it didn’t take long for a gaggle of younger girls to catch his eye - - as far as he could tell, the place was a ghost town, except for the red and white priestly robes of a giggling group that were coming up to meet him.

Fellas! It’s happening again! More friendly miko!” He called to the others, holding out his arm as politely as can be so one of the girls could start to lead him. “Don’t worry, I’ll handle the talking - - heeellloooo there miss, mind showing me the way to the Temple? I’m actually very pious. Really! Aside from the drinking and swordfighting….fellas! Don’t miss out on this!
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Old 12-23-2018, 10:37 PM   #6
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Spooky?

As the old man hobbled into their conversation, Echizen lifted scroll and book filled arms in an attempt to help the man as he approached, just in case said elder needed a helping hand. But, what took the young Hyousetsu off guard the most was how the man with the olive eyes mentioned a swordsmen – and then his superior aboard the Gallant Steam naval ship, Gushiken Ren, appeared out of thin air. Well, no, this was a lie. Being a Blacksmith of the sea as well, Echizen smelled him before he arrived, and it wasn’t like the boy held some out of this world advanced nose either. It was the salt that hung about Ren’s aura, alongside the scent of spirits the boy recognized, that gave him away. It was a shame, though, that there had been such a long stretch of time since the two had seen each other – of course courtesy of the natural nature of The Gallant Steam. Echizen was pretty sure that Ren wasn’t aware of the reverse-blade sword he wore now, which hung off his little hip like a fighter’s prized boxing gloves.

R-Ren-taichou?

Honey hued pupils spun in brief disbelief, but by the time Echizen could attempt to muster another sentence into the fray, he was whisked off in this entourage of people he assumed were shinobi as well. Eagle summoning trips and a tossed Ren later, they landed near Baku and, dear lord-

-Why is it so quiet?

Was it just him? Or was this town really creepy? Salt and pepper curls of afro hair bounced with the turn of his head as he peered from the older gentlemen to the olive eyed ninja. He couldn’t be the only one to find this strange, right? Even as Ren flirted his way by their group, surrounding himself with giggling Miko, Echizen’s hesitant hand reached outward in protest.

W-wait, Ren-taichou!

M-maybe it’d be easier if we just traveled…

...Traveled as a collective, right?


Maybe his words fell on deaf ears.

A helpless sigh escaped his little body. Although most of the crew members of The Gallant Steam were fellows older than he, including his aniki Gen, Echizen always found it odd how he felt like he was the most responsible. This time, though, instead of chasing after the Jellyfish outright, the Silverfin Carp paused, and took a deep breath. He needed to relax, he knew this, but his jittery antics – like the index of his right hand tapping against the wrist of the left – was apart of him. Echizen offered a subtle gaze toward the shinobi of Sunagakure, ninja from there always seemed the most approachable. Well, to him at least.

Sooooo….what exactly should we do, uh, sir?

What honorific would be best for this guy anyway?

I’m...pretty confident that we shouldn’t be walking into town just asking for Sengo Muramachi – or, least saying their name around the villagers.

Echizen cupped his little armor guarded hand against the side of his lips, whispering:

I heard they are pretty nasty to outsiders...
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Old 12-24-2018, 01:17 AM   #7
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Shipori nodded to Daisuke in line with his comment about the other swordsman and, soon enough, Ren appeared in a hurry to get everyone up into the air.

Eagle back was not the most elegant form of travel, but it was efficient, and it satisfied the urge for speed over caution that shinobi tended to carry. Shipori preferred travel under his own power, on his ink constructs, or via common carriage, but he deferred to Ren here. All for the sake of the charade.

Aizawa. My name. I'm a professor of sorts, and I'll be happy enough to leave any of the shinobi and samurai scuffling to you three.” Shipori tapped his cane against his weak leg.

They had landed in this tiny village in the boonies, all they had to do was wait for the locals to respond, and it didn't take long. A procession of miko slithered their direction – and Ren set about causing further ruckus.

Maybe Shipori could convince Keiko to kill him.

He considered it, and turned his attention to the genin. Shipori leaned to one side with both hands folded over the cane. “I had drawn a similar conclusion. Unfortunately, I think our arrival has attracted a bit more attention that I would have preferred...we still ought to keep the specifics of our pilgrimage for Keiko herself.

And sure enough, the few villagers who had witnessed their landing had already returned to their homes. They cleared the street and shuttered their windows as soon as the first miko had taken a step towards them. One of the women ignored Ren in favor of the rest of the party. Shipori offered her a bow as she approached.

Honorable miss.

Travelers, and shinobi, too?” She returned the bow and nodded at each man in turn. “We rarely see your kind here in Baku. To what do we owe the pleasure?

We came to seek audience with the oracle.
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Old 12-26-2018, 07:31 PM   #8
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Shitou wasn't exactly thrilled with Daisuke's 'solution' to their transportation problem – thankfully the swordsman-shinobi from the Hidden Mist known as Ren managed to take the brunt of the penultimate Eagle's impertinence. It might not have been the stealthiest way to Baku either, but Daisuke supposed that crossing Bird Country on foot amidst the countless warring factions and harsh terrain qualified as what Enzan would have considered as "unnecessarily risky." And, after all, if what the Oracles believed of the coming darkness was true, and that the research the rest of his party had done was thorough and accurate, there was a good chance that this Keiko – considered nothing short of a witch and deceiver by the Oracles – might already be aware of their quest and expecting their arrival.

They dismounted in turn. Daisuke thanked the great bird for his services and dismissed him. Villagers who were in the streets scurried back to their dwellings. But the welcome they received appeared warm indeed – Ren paraded through the streets with a maiden in each of his arms. Calling for him to keep his wits and stay with the rest of the group, by then, seemed like a lost cause. More priestesses came out of the woodwork to look on the new arrivals from afar – some appeared relatively curious and innocent looking at a distance, but as they came closer, well –

The Miko who had presented themselves to the group bit her lip seductively, locking eyes with Daisuke for a moment before shifting her gaze between Old Man Aizawa and Echizen, the Genin from Mist.

"Oh~?" she asked, in a sing-song voice. "All of you? Well in that case, I would happily escort you handsome young men to the temple. I am Mei, Oracle of Gold," she said, bowing again and rising slowly to reveal more clevage than one would expect of a woman of faith. Daisuke averted his eyes. "My lady will be delighted to receive you. If you'd follow me, please."

Mei raised an ornamental device adorned with golden bells, which she rang, and several more Miko swept forward to line that path which lead towards the temple. They exchanged hushed whispers and smiles among themselves as the champions walked past. One or two winked at Daisuke, or flashed some other suggestive form of body language his direction. He did his best not to dwell on it, which became progressively more difficult as more and more priestesses joined the procession through the village streets to trail them or walk alongside them. The two with Ren slowed their pace and rejoined the larger group, giggling with one another. The whole ordeal made him rather uncomfortable – it was clearly a trap, and they were walking straight into it. It was also a reminder of just how lonely he'd become over the last few weeks. He longed for Sango and the comforts of home dearly. Still, he knew that he needed to remain vigilant – surely sex-witches were the worst kind.
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Old 12-27-2018, 06:13 PM   #9
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Man, sex-witches are the best kind!” Ren guffawed - - cut quickly as the soft bit of his torso was pinched hard by one of the girls escorting him.

Sorry, sorry, seductive - - ow! Uh, friendly miko? Hey, alright! I can be charming, too. Listen, listen...” He whispered something into the girls ear, which was followed by a blushing face, before she whispered back. He cackled at her response. “But don’t worry, I’ll protect the kid from any dorky ghosts. I’ve got a magic sword, you know. Cursed and everything! I was actually hoping you girls could help me with that.

A cursed sword?” The Oracle of Gold pursed her lips, suddenly taking an interest in Ren, pressing a finger against her painted lip. She wasn’t really Ren’s type – too pretty, too well put together. The homely one on his shoulder looked like she didn’t have high standards, but this one looked like she only went for guys like, uh…

...well, not Ren.

Yeah, a cursed REAL sword. There’s been a lot of talk about cursed swords lately. I ain’t the only one having, you know, arcane blacksmith problems. Ain’t your old hag of a boss some kinda, you know, expert on cursed swords?

At least he didn’t flat out say the name of the blacksmith, their secret motivation. He wasn’t that stupid. He glanced around at the girls who had all gotten a bit quieter once the Oracle had taken attention to him. She strode over to him, jingling her little bell, but each step seemed more sinister than the last. When she finally got to him, he felt something shrivel up inside of his body, and he didn’t feel much like cracking jokes anymore.

H—hey, by the way, how come everyone else is peeking around their windows like something bad is about to happen? Ain’t much of a...hero’s welcome.

"You've quite the tongue, little man."

"Ye--yeah, you know, ladies tell me th---ah! Ouch!"

The Oracle traced her finger down Ren's face before turning to the rest of the group. "How's about I take you big, strong heroes up to the Temple to have a little rest. I'm sure you're all tired from your journey."
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Old 01-08-2019, 03:02 PM   #10
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A temple plated in gold, a tall structure with motifs of snakes wrapping around every column and pole. The temple of the Golden Oracle was a sight to behold. It was on the far end of the village of Baku, at the top of a climb of stairs that looked worn by ages of use. At the entrance of the temple was a massive set of doors, and above that a balcony looking over the courtyard.

The building was large enough to have many rooms inside. No expense was spared within, every statue or ornament also made of precious metals that shimmered.

The miko all moved into position as they made it up to the temple. They fanned out into long lines to look on their guests. Their faces were a mix of fascination, seduction, and something else.

Mei's face moved between them all. She gave courteous smiles, and little winks when no one else should have been looking. Even her basic gait as she walked before them seemed like a little dance only for the one person watching. When they got up to the temple, she rang her bell again, and the doors to the temple were pulled open by a handful of the Miko.

"You've come a long way, I'm sure. Before we feed you, you can rest up in your rooms. We've one for each of you. Feel free to, take a load off."

Some of the girls giggled at that, and Mei smiled. Then a pair of Miko came for each of them, to take them to their own room within the grand temple.

"The Lady Keiko doesn't like her visitors to be stressed," Mei said, "She will meet you at dinner, so let us treat you before then."
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