#1: Dazed and Confused Nov 15, 2018 18:22:18 GMT -5
Post by Oliver on Nov 15, 2018 18:22:18 GMT -5
#1: Dazed and ConfusedOliver Blackwell turned his head to the opalescent sky. Fat white flakes drifted down from above, a gentle wind carrying them across his field of vision. A few landed on his nose and eyelashes. He blinked rapidly, exhaling. A cloud of steam puffed from his lips, and a small smile found its way to his face. He adjusted his cape. It was plenty cold outside, but a nearby tavern had warm drinks and warm fires, and it had been a while since he had last enjoyed himself like this... He clutched his tome closer to his body, little notes and stray pages threatening to fall out. He stood like this for a while- it could have been seconds, minutes, hours- but when the nip of frost began to grow painful, he made his way indoors. His boots clicked softly and rhythmically on the stone pathway. The morning sun glistened above through the clouds, bright enough to make him squint. His right eyelid twitched beneath the monocle. Winding his way through streets that were less crowded than usual, he passed many samurai, scholars, monks... Truly, the capital of Steam Country was a metropolis unlike any he had seen before. Especially back in Sand Country- both the desert and the mountains. Eventually, though, he retreated into his thoughts. His goals were to study genjutsu, of course, but there was another subject that fascinated him- the tailed beasts of legend. It was difficult to separate the truth from legend, of course, but what he knew for a fact was that they were mythical creatures of unfathomable power.
There were nine of them, supposedly, but few who have seen them had lived to tell the tale- resulting in very little information to go around. But perhaps he'd have more luck in a ninja village? They were bound to have more information, after all. Much of it would be classified, of course, but perhaps if he agreed to share his findings, more leeway would be provided. Of course, until then, there were plenty of other things he could invest his time into researching- clans, bloodlines, jutsu... Genjutsu, even. He swallowed. A chill wind blew by, ruffling his pinkish violet hair from behind. Eventually, he had managed to find a bookstore of sorts, and he ducked inside. The smell of tea leaves overwhelmed his nostrils. Jars upon jars of dried tea leaves lined a wall- the rest were decorated with book-filled shelves. He nodded in polite greeting to an elderly woman behind a cluttered desk. She wore a dark green kimono, and silver curly hair rested on the top of her scalp. He began browsing the shelves, finger trailing along the titles. Many were classical works- The Tale of Genji, Kojiki... He had to crouch down uncomfortably in order to reach the nonfiction. He found a few interesting books, which he pulled out and placed into a gentle stack on his arms. There was a book on the history of shinobi clans, an interesting catalog on fuuinjutsu (nothing hugely powerful, of course, but the theory remained interesting), and a simple book on poetry that he decided to peruse in his free time. He made his way over to the counter, placing the books down gently. The old lady stirred from her work, opening the cover of each volume to check the prices marked down on the inside. "Your total will be four hundred ryo," she remarked gently. His left eyebrow twitched upwards subtly. Quite a price to pay for three books... She must have caught his micro expression, because the corners of her mouth tipped up into a smile. The elderly woman pointed towards the fuuinjutsu catalog before speaking once again. "That's a rare volume. It was taken out of print by ninja who didn't want civilians to learn about chakra." it was very odd that it would be here for sale, of all places. He was about to open his mouth to sate his curiosity, before she started laughing to herself. "Now, now. This particular copy I came across two weeks ago. Brought to me by a wandering mercenary." That... didn't do much to quell his suspicions, but Oliver decided to keep his mouth shut.
He placed his purchases into small, barely noticeable pouches sewn into his robes. He was weighed down considerably, but he preferred to have at least one hand free at all times. If something happened, that way it would be easier to cast genjutsu. He yawned slightly, nodding to the woman once more before Oliver made his departure. The door to the bookstore opened with the tinkling of a small bell, and he stepped outside once more into the freezing winter air. The temperature had improved slightly, he noted. Not enough to melt the snow, of course, but when he looked up, he realized that there was a break in the clouds, and that the precipitation had stopped. Interesting. As he walked the streets of the Iron City, he realized that he didn't really need to head back to the inn at which he stayed immediately- it wasn't that cold outside, and perhaps he might stumble across something interesting? Time would tell. Children had started to trickle their way outside to play in the freshly fallen snow, and a deeply ingrained instinct to duck had him nearly tumbling onto the street to avoid a poorly thrown snowball.
"Sorry mister!" a high pitched voice apologized, and he got the distinct feeling that they weren't sorry. At least they seemed to be having fun, though. He smiled to himself before responding.
"N-no, everything is quite all right," Oliver answered in a stuttering baritone. The children went on their merry way, and he waded his way through the cold in order to take the scenic route back to his room. He passed a few stores, a blacksmith, and quite a few restaurants- he figured that he would begin to see progressively more expensive locations the closer he got to the city's center district. He exhaled a gust of steam, tilting his head forward as he did so. Places to see, theories to evaluate... Perhaps he might even find something on the tailed beasts of legend.
Retiring to his room at the inn, Oliver finally had time to think. The room was relatively small, a scratchy cot pushed against the corner holding most of his belongings. He usually slept at a makeshift desk in the corner, anyways. Truthfully, it was just a large bedside table that he had re-purposed, and pushed a chair up against. He gently stacked his books on one corner, and carefully put some papers on top of them- it wouldn't do to lose his notes, regardless of the fact that his focus lay elsewhere at the moment. He pulled out the book on shinobi clans and a fountain pen. As soon as he started leafing through the pages, he began to underline important parts as well as add little annotations on the sides of the paper. The preface- a simple introduction to clans, as well as how they were influenced by the geography of the continent- was carefully skimmed. He already knew most of this information, but a refresher wouldn't hurt. Hmm... He flipped a few pages, arriving at sections which sorted clans by location. Of course, much of the information in this book was rather general, due to clan secrecy, but he figured that more knowledge couldn't be a bad thing. Besides, who knew? He might learn something interesting... To the northeast, the dominant clan was the Kaguya, a clan feared for taijutsu. Also populous were the Yuki, Akimichi, and Uchiha, who had banded together to form Chusekigakure. He wondered if the cold weather influenced the population of the Yuki... Perhaps it caused it? That was a thought- environments influencing the development of kekkei genkai. He'd have to do some more research on the subject for a later date. He left a little note in the corner of the page to remind himself to do so. Next, of course, was the far west- in Sea country, five clans had battled for dominance: the Inuzuka, the Hoshigaki, the Uzumaki, the Hozuki, and the Yamanaka. Due to the Hoshigaki's efforts, an extended campaign was launched to unite all clans under the Hoshigaki banner- something which resulted in the expulsion of the Inuzuka to Marsh country, where they assisted in the founding of Numachigakure. The remaining clans in Sea Country founded Shimagakure themselves. Of course, peace wouldn't last. Most everyone knew of the costly war that broke out eleven years ago, even if he was only a boy at the time. News traveled slow to his mother's cloister, but things like war could quickly escalate to involve the whole continent. Eastern Sand Country was relatively safe, though. Sakyugakure lay in the west, as was the majority of the country's population. Speaking of Sunagakure... Two of the founding clans, the Kurama and the Chinoike, had constantly battled for dominance. Perhaps it was a genjutsu clan thing?... That sounded odd. However, the threat of a tailed beast was enough to unite them, as well as two other clans: the Sarutobi and the Hyuuga. They ended up founding Sakyugakure forty seven years ago. And, of course, that left Numachigakure- founded by the Senju, Nara, Aburame, and Inuzuka (after their expulsion), it was economically the weakest of the four major villages, especially after the disastrous war with Shimagakure. Hm... There were footnotes on the Otsutsuki, a legendary clan, which apparently had a compound in Steam Country, but... Other than that, there wasn't much else on them. What was he supposed to do with the definition 'legendary shinobi'? That could mean quite a few things... He made a mental note to learn more about them later. He scratched his nose, underlining a few sentences in his notes as he did so. This was taxing... Perhaps he should return to this subject later?
He sighed to himself, pinching his nose. He should deal with this later, when he was less tired. He blew gently on the wet ink, encouraging it to dry faster, before placing it on top of a dresser in which he was keeping his clothes. Next, he started shuffling through a stack of books on his 'desk', pulling out two particular volumes which interested him. A book on mythology in Sand Country, and a book of poetry. The former might not be of much use, of course, but Sakyugakure had suffered a bijuu attack in the past- perhaps there might be something in here on them? He opened the book, and wrinkled his nose at the sight of pictures. Oh, this was a children's book? Hm... There better be something good in here. He flipped through various pages of djinn, ifrit, and mystical spirits, before arriving at a strange page. A smile reached his face. This was interesting... could it be what he was looking for? A picture of a giant monster was splayed against the paper, jaws open wide. No gore was matted in its jaws or clawed fingertips, since it was a children's book, but the message was there.
From deep within the desert sands,
a crawling shape intrude!
A great beast that rose from in
the scenic solitude!
It screeched, it writhed with mortal pangs,
the clans became its food,
and children sobbed at monstrous fangs
in human gore imbued.
He stared at the rhyme for a second, a minute, and then ten. He hummed softly to himself. A great desert beast? That was a place to start. Not much was described beyond that, of course, but not many who had met a tailed beast survived to tell about it. Oliver remained quiet as he gently marked and closed the page, placing it on the desk. Well, he'd read about the clans, mythology in Sakyu, and even a little bit about a tailed beast. That wasn't bad research from one day. But still, he craved more. He stood up quickly, brushing off his robes and leaving the room. The elaborate clothing trailed behind him as he made his way downstairs to the tavern area. He took a seat at a bar, pulling out a stool and sitting down. He stared down at his own pale hands for a long time, not looking up even when the bartender came to take his order. He eventually ended up getting some light, watered down ale, and after handing over a few ryo, he ended up nursing the cup in his hands. Oliver took small, even sips, the liquid trailing down the back of his throat with an odd aftertaste. This wasn't exactly the epitome of quality, but, well... He just needed something to take his mind off of what he had read. It wasn't unsettling, just... He was tired and had focused too hard for too long. With the intent of relaxing, he found himself nodding off gently. He remained at the location for another hour or so, making light, stuttering conversation with whoever approached him. It wasn't due to his nervousness that he stuttered- rather, it was just an inborn tic that had followed him wherever he spoke. He had tried to get rid of it when he was younger, but eventually decided to focus his effort on other things, and keep situations in which he needed to speak at an absolute minimum.
Eventually, he returned to his cramped room. He undressed slowly, before he simply stood in a tunic and light grey trousers. Lining his boots neatly at the end of the bed, he lay down on top of the covers and stared up blankly at the ceiling. As the sun set outside, creeping shadows inched up the walls of the room. He swallowed to himself, feeling oddly uncomfortable. A shudder ran down his back. He felt like he was being watched, but he had checked beforehand- there was no hidden force, no shinobi outside who were doing such a thing. That he could see, anyways, a traitorous part of his mind whispered. A gentle pattern of inhales and exhales later, and the young scholar had found himself fast asleep.
The world around him was dark- multitudes upon multitudes of tiny hands grasped at his skin, ripping and tearing at his skin until revealing the flesh beneath. At least, what should have been his flesh beneath- something was there that wasn't supposed to be- a dark, creeping sensation traveled up his spine. The hands crawled up his legs, his torso, his neck, and when they ripped out his eyes-
he couldn't remember anything past that point when he woke up. Drenched in sweat, despite the lack of covers, he rolled out of bed until he was sitting atop it with crossed legs. He placed his head in his hands and rubbed at his temples. Nothing had happened, of course, but the dream was plenty more disturbing than ones he had experienced in the past. His mind traveled back to the tears in his skin, revealing something less than human, and he swallowed. He hoped it didn't come back to bite him later...
[Total WC: 2,518]