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© Masashi Kishimoto

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Yasahiro Yagami
Yasahiro Yagami
Missing-Nin (C-rank)
Missing-Nin (C-rank)
Fame : 355
Ryo : 3000
100%

Ravens Amongst The Rice Empty Ravens Amongst The Rice

Sat Jan 02, 2021 12:24 pm
Mission Specs:

Mission Link

Mission Name: ”I am the punishment of God”
Rank: B-rank
Type: Defence
Character Requirements: N/A
Mission Location: Country borders
Word Count Requirements: 3000
Challenges: N/A
Repeatable? Yes
NPC? N/A
Reward: 3000 Ryo & 7 AP
Task: A group has been ravaging the countryside, wiping out settlements and villages one by one. They are trying to cut the country in half by force. The citizens of one village in particular pitched in to try and hire a group that will protect them from the impending invasion. You come across someone from the village looking for help. Speak to the person and follow them to the village.

Spires of stone jutted out from the landscape of the Land of Rice like fangs dulled by years on years of weathering. Nestled between the nooks and crannies created by these massive spires lay neat rows of crops that lent the land its name, rice. The rice patties themselves were works of art with each carefully curated by the farmers of each plot to create a truly mesmerizing effect in the dying light of the day—how adjoining fields seemed to meld with the next and sway in the wind was a sight to behold for one unacquainted with the wonders of agriculture. Indeed, if it weren't for the suffocating humidity, Yasahiro might even have considered the latest stop on his wandering to be a nice place to settle down for a while.

Perhaps, for once, Asahi had made the right call in pushing for a change in scenery.

It all started a few weeks back with his cousin's request that they visit the sea which, after some back and forth and no shortage of sake, the exile agreed to. The pair then spent a few weeks preparing and planning their route finally settling on the Land of Rice because of its out-of-the-way locale and general lack of a major shinobi force. In the wake of the annual local New Years' festival, both Asahi and Yasahiro left their swamp-side town that they had called home for months since their hurried flight from the Yagami compound. If the exile was being entirely honest, he wasn't going to miss waking up to an alligator making off with breakfast or getting eaten alive by mosquitoes through the night. Yes, despite his want to lay low, moving on to more temperate climes was probably for the best.

Traveling under the auspices of a local merchant caravan prepared by Yasahiro's former employer, the pair moved along the borders relatively unseen and unbothered. It turned out even the other rogues along the borders paid no mind to a small caravan carrying only rice. That being said, they did pass by the remains of a few other caravans that had not been so lucky and around the campfires each night the merchants told tales of veritable demons that stalked the borders with impunity. The very idea of meeting men and women whose sole purpose was to cause mayhem and suffering did not sit well with the samurai—he had been made a rogue by circumstance, not by choice, and the fact that some made that choice was both revolting and deeply troubling.

Thankfully, neither the merchants nor Yasahiro dwelled on these stories much. Instead, much of their time was spent keeping an eye to the horizon and their stomachs full of sake. If the older of the two cousins had his way they would have stayed on the road forever, bouncing from settlement to settlement without a care in the world. Alas, it was not meant to be and Yasahiro had promised Asahi they would spend time by the sea. So, once the caravan came to the borders of the Land of Rice, the pair parted ways with the merchants and struck out on their own once more.

No sooner had they arrived, however, than Asahi and Yasahiro parted ways. Temporary although it may be, the two cousins had rather divergent agendas: Asahi wished to tour the many sake houses on the way to the coast and Yasahiro simply wanted to take in the unique landscape. Of course, the two agendas were not entirely divergent, but the older cousin also wanted to spend some time alone and so the two decided it would be best to go their separate ways only to later meet up along the coast. After all, the pair had been together for months on end now, everyone needed a bit of alone time now and again.

And so, this was how Yasahiro Yagami came to find himself walking down the rural roads of a foreign land. The single-lane road, run deep with ruts from passing carts and lined by coarse overgrown grass reminded the samurai of the road that used to lead into the Yagami compound. It was a small detail, but one that triggered a nostalgia of days long past—how nice it would be to see that same road again and walk it with the people he called family.

"Please," the cry of a woman jerked Yasahiro from his melancholy. "Please, sir, you have to help me."

The woman, about Yasahiro's age, with brown hair and a gaunt face, stumbled out of a rice paddy that lined the road. Mud caked her legs up to the knee and a look of desperation was plastered across her face. She was clearly distraught, but something felt off and Yasahiro's hand instinctively fell to the hilt of his blade.

"Excuse me," Yasahiro replied, his tone stony and uninviting. "I'm afraid you have the wrong person."

"No, no, you have to help me," tears began to well up in the woman's eyes. "They'll kill us all."

The woman moved closer and the exile's reflexes got the better of him: he half drew his sword in a grinding sound of metal on metal. He recalled a story he heard from the merchants wherein bandits would use a woman to lull travelers into a false sense of security only to rob them.

"Not another step or it will be your last," he cautioned, his eyes narrowing and the grip on his blade tightening. "Now, tell me what this is all about."

"Please, I don't mean any harm," the woman gasped holding back tears as best she could. "My name is Hanako Asakai, my family lives in a nearby town, or at least we will be for another few weeks. A foul man, Shinji Zukumiki, and his gang have been wreaking havoc across the country claiming villages and their people as his own. Please, help us if you can."

As Hanako spoke, Yasahiro's gaze wandered across the landscape searching for would-be accomplices. Finding none, however, his grip on the sword loosened and it fell back into its sheath with a satisfying click.

"Zukimiki?" Yasahiro asked. "Never heard of him, and I'm not in the business of hiring out my blade to do the dirty work of others. I'm sorry for your predicament Miss Asakai, but I must be on my way."

Without another word, the exile continued down the road, and by the hysterical Hanako with long clean strides. Before he could take a step past the woman, he felt a weight pulling on the hem of his cloak, a distinctly human weight—Hanako clung tightly to his cloak, her cheeks now streaked with long-held-back tears.

"Please...please," she sobbed. "They'll kill us, please."

It was too much, how could he deny this woman and her family aid? The smart play would be to shake her off and go on his way with a clean conscience to meet Asahi by the sea. Though it would be the smart play, Yasahiro doubted he would truly have a clean conscience, he was not so callous as to spurn a people in need. In this case, emotion won out over reason as his bleeding heart beat out his logical brain—he stopped and turned around on the spot.

"Very well, Miss Asakai," he took a breath as if steeling himself for the mistake he was about to make. "I'll help you, show me where your village is."

He offered the woman a hand up. It was clear she was used to working in the fields given the callouses across each of her fingers; this small detail offered some small comfort to the exile, he wasn't about to be duped.

"Thank you, thank you," the woman stammered. "What should I call you?"

"Yasahiro Yagami"

"Yagami," she said, slowly regaining her composure. "Please, follow me, my home is only a few minutes away."

The older of the Yagami cousins nodded and followed the woman into the coming twilight. Traveling across the narrow furrows that divided the rice paddies, Yasahiro kept his head on a swivel and did not speak another word. The woman seemed earnest enough, but one could never be too careful. Plus, seeing the rice up close was quite the treat; he had assumed that the illusion of straight lines would disappear up close, but it simply wasn't the case and the farmer's craft was all the more impressive for it. Each field, he figured as he walked, must have taken hours and days to prepare and plant, perhaps he had taken up the wrong calling?

"It's just up here," Hanako had recovered her wits entirely and her tone had hardened. "I'll do the talking, just please keep your sword sheathed."

His eyes narrowed at the request, but he did not protest.

Making their way around a particularly large stone sire, the small village came into sharp focus. 'Village' probably wasn't the right word, commune might be a better word; it was far too small to be called a village. The commune amounted to about ten buildings clustered at the base of the rock formation each of varying quality and age. It seemed that each building had grown with the families that inhabited them as they grew. It was a certain charm that, as they drew closer, got all the more charming—it was clear that the farmers did not have much, but they were proud of what they had as each roof was adorned with ornate eaves and each door colorfully painted.

The doors were only readily noticeable because each one closed as Yasahiro and Hanako walked by them. It was clear that there was something more to what the samurai was being asked to do. Perhaps he had made a mistake in accepting this particular job. On the bright side, though, it didn't look like he would be robbed immediately, a small comfort to be sure.

"Hanako," a man's voice boomed from deeper in the commune. "Where have you been?"

Turning a corner, the large man sitting by a small fire came into focus, his relation to Hanako was clear in his features.

"And who did you bring with you? A mercenary? We have no use for them here, send them away."

"Father," Hanako's voice was now filled with fire. "This man can help us, you know we can't do it by ourselves.

What followed was a yelling match of sorts between father and daughter. Yasahiro, for his part, simply remained silent taking in the compound around him. It was certainly a far cry from the Yagami household, but it could very well put up a good defense against even the most determined attackers; it helped that it was sheltered by the rock formation at its back—maybe he could actually help here. The argument soon died down into whispers and murmurs before Hanako's father walked up to him.

"Name's Hanzo," the older man grumbled. "My daughter seems to think you can help and, frankly, we're out of options at this point. We can fight our own fights, but we lack the knowledge to fortify our dwellings against Zukumiki and I reckon, judging by the sword on your hip, that you might have some idea. Do this and we'll see what kind of pay we can scrape together for you, do we have a deal?"

Hanzo held out his hand and Yasahiro accepted it.

"It's a deal," he replied, shaking Hanzo's hand.

"Very good then," Hanzo nodded and pulled back his hand. "You can stay here for the night and we'll begin in the morning."

The night that followed was anything but restful. While there was not a single sound save for the insects to keep him up, Yasahiro could not help hearing the twang of invisible bows and drawing of phantom swords in his sleep. Hanzo and Hanako seemed to be on the straight and narrow, but he couldn't be sure. After all, they'd only met less than twelve hours ago. What was to stop them from stalking into the small hut they'd lent the exile and slitting his throat as he slept. No, with thoughts like that dancing around in his head, the samurai did not rest easy all night as he constantly tossed and turned in his sleep dodging attacks that would never come and beating back dream-bound assailants.

In time, however, the sun came and the samurai woke from his restless sleep both unharmed and exceedingly tired. Pulling on his clothes and affixing his sword, he ventured out into the morning light and the new day. It was time to get to work on fortifications and preparation; funny, Yasahiro could only imagine what Asahi was up to—probably whiling away his time getting drunk.

"Good morning, Yagami-san," Hanako greeted him with a smile. "The rest of the families are waiting at the center of town, I'll see you there."

Maintaining his silence, the exile made his way to where he first met Hanzo. Gathered there he found about fifty or sixty people of varying ages and genders all waiting, waiting for him, for a leader. Swallowing whatever qualms he had remaining, Yasahiro stepped up onto a bench where he could see the small crowd around him.

"Good morning," his voice filled with an authority that he didn't know he possessed. "As you may already know, my name is Yasahiro. Yesterday, Hanzo and his daughter requested help in coordinating the defense of your home. Today I am here to make good on the promise I made to them; I will help you weather the coming storm and fight back with your own sweat and blood."

Murmurs swept through the crowd, they weren't convinced yet.

"I will not lie to you," he conceded. "I am not a grand strategist, but I know enough to help you beat back a petty warlord. It will be hard, but together we can mount a defense that will render your homes and families safe."

That got through to them, nothing like radical honesty.

"Now, we'll need to split up into three groups," he continued, his confidence growing. "The first group will need to start boarding up the windows and removing anything of value from sight. Our hope is to make your homes look as uninviting as possible. The second group will need to gather rocks; we'll be storing these on the roofs where we can maintain the high ground if it comes to combat. Then the third group, you'll have one of the most important jobs: the sharpening of your shovels and gardening implements. These will be your last line of defense if all else fails—Kamis willing you won't have to resort to this, but it is best to be prepared."

"Now, shall we get to work?"

No one raised a single objection and quickly divided up into three groups. Yasahiro then moved between each of the groups showing them how to properly board up their homes, sharpen their tools, and setting rock traps on each roof. Most of the people took to their tasks readily, they clearly trusted in their headman, Hanzo, very much. Well, that or they were desperate; either way, they were diligent workers who, as they warmed up to their interim leader, began to joke and laugh together. The whole thing reminded the samurai of home far more than he cared to admit and often found himself pushing back painful memories as he worked.

Many hours passed until dusk began to fall over the land once again; they had done it. There was not a colorful door in sight, the windows were boarded up, and rocks lined every rooftop ready to fall onto any unsuspecting marauders. As an extra measure, each house was also stocked with a healthy supply of water should they come with fire. It seemed like everything was in order, and in the dying light Yasahiro drilled the farmers in combat with their makeshift weapons. They wouldn't be fighting on the frontlines any time soon, but they would certainly have enough ferocity to drive off anyone who didn't expect them to fight back, the element of surprise was a hell of a thing.

The next three days were more of the same; training, building, and preparing.

"Well, I think that about does it," Yasahiro said on the fifth day. "Your families should be ready for whatever they throw at you."

He paused and furrowed his brow.

"Just remember, if worst comes to worst run. Just run, there is no shame in saving your lives in exchange for your homes; you can always rebuild."

"Mmm," Hanzo intoned. "We are true to our word as well, here is your payment."

Hanako's father handed him a healthy stack of ryo.

"Thank you, I should be going though. I can attract nothing but unwanted attention to your homes and your family. It's been a pleasure."

"Likewise."

"Farewell"

Hanzo bowed, Yasahiro left, and that was that. The samurai returned to the main road with a clean conscience and a spring in his step. He had done all he could short of laying his own life on the line for that group of families. Now all he could do was wish them the best and be on his way. After all, he definitely was going to have a lot of explaining to do when he met back up with Asahi. He could almost hear his cousin's jeers now so much for trying to play the good samaritan. He would have to restrain himself from any further acts of random acts of kindness or he would never hear the end of it.

Then again, the extra ryo padding his wallet didn't hurt. Maybe it did pay to do the right thing every now and then? Regardless, he would have to make it a point to return to the commune at one point or another. He didn't much like leaving their fate as a question mark in his mind—he had high hopes for them and it wouldn't hurt to see Hanako again.
---
TWC: 3011
+ 3100 ryo (3000 mission ryo | 100 D-rank mission completion ryo)
+ 67 (7 from mission | 60 from training)
+ 660 words towards Wind Release: Zephyr Blade
+ 500 words towards Temporary Paralysis
+ 1851 words towards A-Rank Rupture
Satoru Jugo
Satoru Jugo
Missing-Nin (B-rank)
Missing-Nin (B-rank)
Fame : 26
Ryo : 0
100%

Ravens Amongst The Rice Empty Re: Ravens Amongst The Rice

Sun Jan 03, 2021 4:07 am
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