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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%

Touring The Land of Rice Empty Touring The Land of Rice

Sat Jan 02, 2021 2:58 pm
Mission Specs:

Mission Link

Mission Name: Daughter Delivery
Rank: B
Type: Escort
Character Requirements: Missing Nin
Mission Location: On a country border's forum
Word Count Requirements: 3000
Challenges: none
Repeatable? yes
NPC? no
Reward: 3000 ryo, 7 ap

Task: The daughter of a Lord is in need of shinobi escort on her tour around the country. Help take her to where she needs to go and defend her from threats along the way.

The long and winding road through the Land of Rice continued for Yasahiro Yagami. His brief detour to help Hanako and her father Hanzo took five days out of his initial plan. As a result, he now found himself walking long hours at odd times to make up for the unexpected delay—it was a bit of a drag, but he didn’t want to make Asahi wait too much longer for him, he was late as it was.

Long shadows painted the Land of Rice as the sun disappeared behind the horizon leaving both Yasahiro’s path and the rice paddies by which he walked in darkness. The only true source of light remaining hung from a rung in the samurai’s hands: a dim lantern whose glow danced up and down with each of his strides. Thankfully, the deeper the man traveled into the interior of the country the better the roads became making the lack of light less and less of an issue—the wealth of the land seemed to flow towards the water, such was the way of things.

The solitude of the road and overcast night gave free rein to his imagination. Sometimes this meant seeing figures stalking through the rice paddies out of the corner of his eyes and at others it meant hearing the screams of his mother hundreds of miles away. Logically, he knew such visions were merely artifacts of his own exhaustion, but such knowledge did not prevent him from casting an uneasy gaze over his shoulder every once in a while nor did it stop the uneasy thoughts of family and home from drifting through his head. Perhaps he should have stayed the night at the last inn after all.

Always pushing yourself too hard, what would Asahi say if he could see you now?

Of course, his younger cousin was probably just bumping up against last call at some bar somewhere on the other side of the country, so he probably wouldn’t—or rather couldn’t—say much of anything. That said, were his cousin sober, he would almost certainly have told him to take it easy and visit the closest bar. For whatever reason Asahi’s answer to most problems was to drink them all away into oblivion. It wasn’t Yasahiro’s preferred method of dealing with problems, but it did work, he would give Asahi that much.

CLANG! CLANG! CLANG! CLANG!

The distinctive sound of metal on metal jilted the exile out of his thoughts and back into reality. The clash of swords was not one he would mistake for anything else in the world, for it was a sound he grew up with ringing in his ears and one drilled into him for hours on end thereafter. Whatever fatigue he felt before all melted away in the wave of adrenaline that now surged through his veins at the sound of combat ahead and urged his legs to move faster and faster.

The feeble glow of his hooded lantern was no longer the only light to be seen, another much brighter source lit up the road ahead and came to dominate the night as it jumped and flared violently. In his haste, the samurai threw his own lantern to the side as shrill screams cut through the night air. As before when first meeting Hanako, his hands instinctively fell to his blade; there would be no half measures this time—this time there was trouble and he would face it head-on.

The buzz of his blade slipping from its sheath never got old. Strange although it may be, it was a sound that comforted and centered his very being, two things he very much needed when happening upon the bloodbath before him. There were three bodies strewn across the ground and blood everywhere across the road running so thick it trickled lazily into the nearby rice paddies. At the center of the commotion stood a mangled carriage that proved to be the source of the flickering light from before, for flames crept up its sides and devoured its wooden frame with gleeful snaps.

Bandits, the thought came to Yasahiro at once only for it to be confirmed upon spying a pair of individuals surrounded by a group of five darkly dressed individuals. Judging by the difference in attire, the pair being surrounded carried some wealth; the glint of their silk garments in the firelight was proof enough of that. Regardless, it would seem that the samurai was not destined for a peaceful trip to the sea.

Pulling his blade from his side and moving forward with all the speed his legs could afford him, the exile fell upon the bandits with a fury that scared even himself. Arcs of blood jumped through the air wherever his blade swung and the screams of his opponents fell in its wake. The bandits were clearly not well versed in swordplay, they fell for basic feints and parried when they should have dodged. It was not much of a battle, but rather a massacre of the inexperienced.

Soon all but a single bandit lay on the ground and the one that remained scampi away into the darkness clutching a stump for a hand. Yasahiro, for his part, was unscathed save for the streaks of blood that painted his face and clothing making him look like some kind of demon from the stories Asahi always told.

It felt good to taste blood again.

“Thank you stranger, thank you,” the wizened voice of one of the previously surrounded individuals croaked. “I don’t think we would still remain among the living were it not for you. They intended to take my daughter and ransom her.”

The samurai’s eyes flicked to the other figure; a small delicate woman probably no older than twenty wearing a blue kimono that contrasted sharply with her fiery red hair.

“You should be more careful,” the exile seethed, his blade coming down on one of the bandits as they tried to crawl away—he needed more blood. “The roads are dangerous this time of night.”

“Indeed,” the older man conceded. “It wasn’t always like this, but of late it seems bringing even an armed guard is not enough to stave off the wolves.”

The man clearly did not get the implication of the exile’s words.

“Well,” Yasahiro sighed, the bloodlust waning and the father and daughter pair unknowingly narrowly missed the same fate as the bandits around them. “I should be going, good evening.”

He nodded once to the wealthy man and his daughter before moving along, back into the darkness.

“Wait, wait,” the man’s voice cut through the air with an edge of desperation. “You can’t leave us out here, they’ll surely be back.”

“That’s not my prob—”

“I’ll pay you for your services.”

Sheathing his sword, the exile paused and glanced back at the man. Though his features were cast in shadow the lord would not fail to see the slim smile that spread across the rogue’s face. Of late, it was difficult to turn down a good-paying job or he would soon find himself with an empty stomach and distinct lack of sake, two things that were decidedly unacceptable.

“Very well,” he made his way back to the man and his daughter. “I take half my payment upfront and the rest upon completion of the mission, is that acceptable?”

“Entirely,” the man rummaged through his silk-lined pockets and pulled out a stack of ryo. “Here you are; the job is simple bring me and my daughter to Hekateki Castle safely and you’ll get the second installment there.”

“Agreed,” the exile sighed, pocketed the ryo, and wiped the blood from his face. “Sir, Ma’am, we should be going now then. It won’t do to linger here or they’ll be back.”

“Good, we are both from the honorable Kita clan from the southern Land of Rice,” the man intoned, taking his daughter’s hand as the newly formed trio began the trek. “I trust you will need no further details? The nature of our movements is secretive by necessity.”

Leading the way, Yasahiro shook his head and the group fell silent. The inner workings of the lords and ladies of the world never interested the samurai in the slightest and he found it best to let them keep their secrets. After all, it was their secrets that got people like him killed over and over again, meddling could only end in death and a dishonorable one at that. They simply existed in a different world from himself and his cousin and he had no interest in stepping past the veil to join them.

The evening was spent on the move. Somewhere around midnight, the overcast sky cleared up to reveal a half-moon that served as an excellent guide to the road ahead of the trio. It also helped that both lord and lady Kita knew the land like the back of their hands. More than once, they had to take refuge in the irrigation canals for the omnipresent rice paddies as mounted riders galloped by scouring the night for any souls unlucky enough to get caught up in their net. Fortunately, his new traveling companions took instruction well and they had not run into any trouble just yet.

“This is the work of Zukumiki,” the lord spat after a particularly close encounter. “His men ravage this land and make it their own without recourse. The major villages don’t even bat an eye at his atrocities because he keeps the rice export stable and his men away from their border—”

“Father,” Lady Kita spoke for the first time in a while. “Please, this isn’t the time for all that.”

“Ai,” the lord snapped, revealing his daughter’s name. “This is the perfect time for ‘all this’. We are made to be prisoners in our own land—it’s not right”

“Let’s keep our voices down,” Yasahiro cautioned, drawing glares from both Ai and her father. In the distance, however, the neighing of horses dissolved whatever disagreement was brewing quickly as the trio flung themselves into the irrigation channel again; another patrol was coming through, they were becoming more frequent.

This particular patrol stopped on the road directly above the canal that the trio now occupied, did they know? Bringing a finger up to his mouth to hush whatever sounds the lord and lady could, he then returned his attention to the footsteps above him that were drawing ever closer to the side of the road and, in doing so, closer to the trio. Soon Yasahiro could see the silhouette of the man’s figure above with a spear in hand—a few heartbeats more and they would be found out.

SHIIIINNNNGGG

The sound of Yasahiro’s blade being drawn filled the air once more; far better, in the samurai’s opinion, to take the initiative when it came to combat. In a swift movement, his blade erupted from the back of the unfortunate bandit’s skull—his attempt to lookdown into the canal ended her life prematurely. The dying gurgle of the woman alerted the four remaining bandits and threw the night into a chorus of blades being drawn and curses.

“Stay here,” Yasahiro huffed in the lord and lady’s direction, removing his blade from the dead bandit. “I’ll handle this.”

Not waiting for a response, the exile pulled himself up onto the road to face the four bandits that now made a semicircle around him with their sword drawn. Above the moon bathed the combatants-to-be in a soft light and for a moment everything was still. Both sides took a collective breath before the night broke out into human screams and whining metal.

The next couple of minutes was a blur of bladed choreography accompanied by the passing of four souls. Dodging a weaving each strike, the samurai allowed his training to take over; parry here, counterattack there, and, finally, sidestep the feint. It was all too easy or, rather, it was until the familiar sting of a blade across his right shoulder—he had tried to dodge when he should have blocked, a mistake one made when unfamiliar with fighting against a group.

Letting out a bellow, the exile redoubled his efforts as his attacks became more erratic. Where once he flowed from each movement to the next he now hack and slashed like some crazed butcher losing all sense of form. This change, however, must have had some effect on his opponents because one by one they all fell beneath his blade in pathetic gurgles and pitiful whimpers.

The sight that greeted both the Lord and Lady as they emerged from their hiding place was grisly, to say the least. Breathing hard and clutching his shoulder with his free hand, Yasahiro stood amongst a mess of gore and death. Limbs, heads, and legs lay all around him in a hodgepodge that one would be hardpressed to identify just how the unfortunate bandits fit back together again. The place stunk of sadism and at the center of it all stood a blood-bathed Yasahiro.

“Samurai,” the lord stammered. “A-are you alright?”

The exile’s hungry eyes flicked to the lord as if expecting another enemy. Finding none, however, he let out a gasp as if some evil spirit fled from his body in the same breath. Silence reigned over the land once more as if waiting for the man’s next move.

“Yes,” Yasahiro intoned, sheathed his sword, and began wrapping his injured shoulder. “We’ll need to keep moving or we’ll be caught up in their patrols again. Grab their horses, they will speed our travel.”

The next couple of minutes were filled with adjusting saddles and muted murmurs from Ai and her father. The pair’s eyes seemed drawn to the spectacle of gore perpetrated by Yasahiro not ten minutes earlier. That said, the samurai couldn’t quite make out whether it was fear or awe that he read in their expression. Granted, it didn’t much matter what it was in the end so long as their ryo was good.

“Alright, we’ll ride until our horses can ride no more and then we’ll walk the rest of the way,” the exile explained, climbing onto his horse. “If we meet anyone on the road don’t stop for them, just keep riding.”

“We can’t afford to delay our flight any further, understood?”

Both members of the Kita clan nodded, and they were off.

They rode for another hour or so until the sun pierced the horizon. Their flight from the initial ambush point had taken all night and the samurai was beginning to feel the end of his adrenaline. Fatigue came in waves and he found himself nodding off in the saddle every once in a while; they needed to find somewhere to rest before completing the last leg of their journey or he would fall asleep at the reigns.

Turning off onto a trail that led out to the shelter of one of the Land of Rice’s rock formations the group made camp. Fortunately, a small spring provided water, and the trees surrounding the rock face provided shelter. They would be safe from prying eyes here for the time being and Yasahiro intended to take full advantage of it by watering the horses, tending to his wound, and hitting the hay for a few hours.

Sleep came easily to the samurai.

His dreams, however, came in a torrent of painful memories and past mistakes. He saw Kenzo’s body again scattered about along with the bandits from earlier. It was a horrible sight to behold, for amongst the gore was a figure cloaked entirely in shadow. In the next instant, a thousand swords erupted from his chest and everything went black. Everything went black and he began to fall into nothingness, it felt as if his very being was being pulled from him over and over again until he hit the ground with a sickening splat.

He woke with a gasp that startled lord and lady Kita.

“Samurai, good, you’re awake and well,” Ai said, her voice uneven. “We must keep moving before it gets dark again.”

Casting a groggy gaze up at the sky, the samurai was greeted by a cloudless sky with the sun already falling towards the horizon. How long had he been out for?

“My daughter is right,” Lord Kita agreed, nodding. “We must continue on before we lose what little daylight remains. It isn’t much further now; if we leave now we should arrive by sundown.”

“Mmm,” was all Yasahiro could muster. His whole body hurt and his head were pounding, but hopefully getting back on the road would do him some good. So, he set about packing up camp along with Ai and her father before setting out on horseback once again.

Instead of their previously frenzied pace, the trio moved at a slight gallop; they needed the horses to last for a while longer, and a flat out sprint was not conducive to such ends. Thankfully, they passed no daytime patrols and saw only farmers. It would seem the worst was behind them and for that Yasahiro could only breathe a sigh of relief. Good with a sword although he may be, he doubted another fight would do him any good, the end was in sight. Though, given the general presence of the Zukumiki’s forces throughout the land, the samurai had a sneaking suspicion that his restful time by the sea with Asahi would be anything but that.

Just as the sun-kissed the horizon once more, the trio arrived at a large fortress: their destination. It was a beautiful sight for each one of the party—for different reasons, of course, but beautiful nonetheless.

“This is where I’ll leave you two.”

“Understandable, here is the second half of your payment,” Lord Kita handed off the remaining ryo to his protector. “If I may ask, samurai, what is your name?”

A pause as a gust of wind blew the samurai’s hair to the side and sent ripples through the nearby rice.

“Yasahiro Yagami, farewell.”

And so he departed into the dying light.
---
TWC: 3000
+ 3100 ryo (3000 mission ryo | 100 rank-based mission ryo)
+ 67 (7 from mission | 60 from training)
+ 649 words towards A-Rank Rupture
+ 2000 words towards Blacksmithing
+ 351 words towards Shadow Clone
Satoru Jugo
Satoru Jugo
Missing-Nin (B-rank)
Missing-Nin (B-rank)
Fame : 26
Ryo : 0
100%

Touring The Land of Rice Empty Re: Touring The Land of Rice

Sun Jan 03, 2021 4:17 am
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