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 Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you

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Sakurai Akira

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Thu 13 Feb - 5:25

Akira was ecstatic with her find. She would've exclaimed she found a backpack, but Sasori wanted them to keep it down. So instead of shouting, she tied the pouch around her hip, put the bottle with soldier pills in it, slid the ninjato in her red sash and stuffed the rest into the backpack that she then slung over her good shoulder. She couldn't believe her luck with finding the backpack. They could take lots of things with them now.

She walked back along the row of bodies towards Hina. When she passed Sasori she made sure to walk in a wide arc around him, giving him ample personal space. "Look Hina!" she said when she reached her friend and showed her the backpack before dropping it on the ground. "Also, these." She patted the pouch and the ninjato, on opposite sides of her hips. "I think we're set as far as weapons go. I only found two water bottles though, so we'll need to look for the other ones tomorrow morning. And Hiten... I haven't found a trace of him," she finished sadly.

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Fri 14 Feb - 15:31

Sweat beats upon Meran's brow as he works to remove the dirty sand from in from of the cave opening. It was hard to distinguish between clean and dirty sand, so he expects to have to continue his work tomorrow. If only to show his intent to Sasori. He didn't want to leave the man in his mess, especially since he himself had wrecked his home. Though it was more like a laboratory.
Meran again took a good look around. Akasuna no Sasori, the man that had managed to kill his great grandfather and had almost killed his own father. It was a strange realization for Meran to sit on the bed of one that had hurt his family so often in the past. But Meran did not have the urge to kill the man. Besides the fact that even thinking it would probably be a death sentence for him, the urge was not present, not like it had been present with the Blood Brotherhood.

Was it because Meran was not alive when the events happened? He remembered it clearly when they had lost his brother. Though he was young at the time, his brother and he were close. Not as close as Hina was at the time, but for the young Sabaku, his brother was an image to grow to. Though Gaara and Kazenkou are talented with the sand, his brother was far more talented. Even when death took him at such a young age, the middle Sabaku child was not just a prodigy of sand usage, the boy was a genius. That loss he had known... But why didn't the attack on his father bother him as much?

Meran was stuck in the dilemma and it preoccupied his mind mostly, vivid images flashed before his eyes as dreams started to take over, dreams of his brother and father. But he shook them away. He needed to stay awake just that little bit longer. The girls were still out there, he could not sleep just yet.

The Sabaku boy could barely see the two standing at the piles of bodies. The one they were standing over was clearly not Hiten. But why weren't they out looking for Hiten?! Meran felled his heart sink as he came to realize what it meant. Hiten was no where to be found. He had to fight back tears as he looked at the two girls standing and debating. He wanted to go out there and help them find their friend. He felt so useless as he sat there looking at his friends.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Tue 18 Feb - 4:29

Who would seal a scroll with a seal with a heart on it..? 'Is this a love letter or something?' she wondered. But she couldn't dwell on it too long because Akira walked up to her, seeming pleased. "I think we're set as far as weapons go." "More than set, I would say." Hina patted the two pouches with weapons hanging on her hips.

Water was going to be an issue though.. And apparently Akira hadn't found any sign of Hiten either. This worried her. "I think he was over there." she said, pointing to the site where she had delivered him the bottles of water. That had to be the place where he had been last, right? "We could go look for something. The has to be something."Perhaps they could find something, even though the ground was pretty roughed up from all the people, the fighting, and the sand.

She walked over to the place where she suspected Hiten to have been last, expecting Akira to follow. As they were walking she showed Akira the two scrolls, "By the way, look at what I found. These weird sealing tags, there's something.. odd about them. And this scroll. Look at the heart on the seal. What do you think that's supposed to mean?"

When they had arrived at the place where she thought Hiten had been before he wasn't there. Worry gnawed in her stomach. She started looking for clues. Signs in the sand, or anything else that could indicate what exactly went down and where Hiten could be now.

(Rolls: Subterfuge C (maybe?), Investigation E, Tracking D.)
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Tue 18 Feb - 5:50

When Hina patted her items as well, Akira beamed at her. The people in their village wouldn't be able to believe where they'd gotten all this stuff from. And what would they say to them anyway? "Hey, we met this S class criminal who slaughtered a battalion of blood brothers and then we looted their corpses and armed ourselves"? It was another thing she'd need to discuss with Hina and Meran.

She followed Hina to the place where she thought she'd be able to find traces of Hiten, but Akira didn't think it was going to work. She refrained from saying so though, not wanting to quell the spark of hope Hina still held. Akira took the scroll with the heart-seal from Hina's hands and studied it closely. She was suddenly reminded of the seal she'd seen on the stone underneath the corpse, but for the life of her she couldn't remember what it had looked like, even though she'd planned to ask her friends about it later. Well, much had happened in these last couple of hours.

Back to the issue at hand: who would put a heart on a seal? What would it mean? She mentally cursed herself for having such little knowledge about sealing and summoning scrolls.

(rolls: investigation D, subterfuge C, trying to figure out more about the scroll and the seal)

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Tue 18 Feb - 8:03

As Hina and Akira would arrive at the place they thought Hiten would have fallen, Hina would notice stepping on something hard and slippery, which almost caused her to fall on her back. This wasn't something a desert kid was used to.
It was dark in the bushes they were standing. Far away they would notice Sasori drawing lines on the ground. Hina would have to move the torch all the way too the ground to see a frozen liquid on the ground.  On further investigation she would see it was red. Frozen blood, pointed into the south east. There was no sign of anything else but the darkness surrounding them.

Akira wouldn't notice anything more about the seal at all. It was just a seal, the seal didn't feel weird at all and it was only meant to be opened by someone.

[O MY GOD I SUCK]
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Wed 19 Feb - 4:20

Hina walked over to the place where Hiten had been, Akira was still carrying the torch. Suddenly her foot slipped. 'Wha-?!' She let out a surprised "eep" and flung her arms around, she got a hold of Akira's shoulder and used her friend to make sure she wouldn't end up on her butt. She had.. probably never slipped before.

"The hell is this?" she muttered, feeling slightly angry at the offensive "thing"/"stuff" that had damn near caused her to fall. How dare it?! She crouched down to the floor and motioned for Akira's torch. When/if the girl would hand her the torch she brought the torch down to the stuff. A confused frown played on her face. It was flat and reflected the light. 'Metal..?' she thought, as she brought one of her fingers down to the flat thing. It was freezing cold. It was frozen! With a soft sound of disgust she quickly withdrew her finger and quickly wiped it on the ground.

Then realisation struck. Frozen. Blood. She looked up at Akira, "It's blood." She noticed the trail was leading south-east. "And it's going that way." She pointed in the direction of the trail and got up. "We have to follow it."
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Thu 20 Feb - 3:02

The moment Hina clung to her shoulder Akira thanked the heavens it was the one of her good arm. The weight of a human was definitely too much stress for her hurt arm and shoulder to bear. "The hell is this?" Hina said indignantly, and Akira gave her the torch she held when she wordlessly asked for it. What made Hina slip turned out to be a thin frozen veil of blood on the ground. The fact it was frozen could only mean one thing: it was Hiten's doing. "And it's going that way. We have to follow it." Hina pointed in the south-east direction, but Akira shook her head. "No. I understand why you're saying that, but it's late, it's dark, and we're only the two of us. Besides, we can't leave Meran." And we can't take him with us on a wild goose chase either, she added in her mind. She frowned at the thin veil of iced blood. Hiten had left them this clue, that much was obvious. But there was just no way they could go through with this right now, however much that made her feel awful.

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Thu 20 Feb - 3:08

Again, I skip my turn due to having little more to add, separated and alone and handicapt.(Sorry girls)
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Fri 21 Feb - 7:13

As Hina and Akira would realize this wasn't the best time to go Hiten-hunting in the dark they all went back inside the cave for a well deserved rest. Sasori had put up two futons next to each other, as if he had been expecting Akira and Hina back soon. He himself was still busy with moving around the bodies and inspecting them one by one.

--- small time skip ---

Within four and a half hours they would be waken up again by Sasori in a very subtle way. Subtle in this case means: 'Wake up children. Sun's up. We have got to move.' and shaking them awake. He was in a bit of a hurry, so it seemed.
The first light of the morning sun was shining. Morning dew was on the leaves of the trees, dripping off. It was a bit cold outside,  but being children from the desert they would know it would warm up soon enough and within hours. Everything seemed really peaceful and quiet - that is apart from the chirping birds everywhere.
The first thing the aspirant shinobi would probably notice as they looked outside the cave was the lack of bodies lying around. There was no sign of the massacre that had happened last night. Even the sand seemed to be free of blood and organs. On the table Sasori had collected the rest of the waterbottles and food to last for about one more day: some apples and berries, a few sweet uncooked potatoes and two smoked fish. 'Breakfast is on the table,' he muttered, almost ashamed about himself he was taking care of some children. 'You can take the rest with you on your trip back to Suna. Get your belongings together and eat while walking.'
 The boy gazed across the room, waiting for the children to wake up and get ready.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Fri 21 Feb - 9:10

"Wake up children. Sun's up. We have got to move."
The voice sounded far away, somewhere...
Then the world started to shake... wait, no... Grey eyes flew open as she woke with a gasp. "Wh-what?" Someone was shaking her. Immediately the emergency bells in her mind went off and Akira crawled away, mowing her arms around to fend off her assailant, but that bird had flown. When she turned where she sat she saw a red haired guy walk away. The sight of him made the memories from last night resurface, making Akira instantly forget her tiredness. She'd slept way too little to her liking, but there was nothing to be done about it for she was awake now and there was no point going back to sleep. They had a long day ahead of them.

So without complaint she stood, stretched the tiredness from her limbs and rolled up her futon. For a moment she felt the need to change, but then she realized she had slept in her clothes so she only needed to gear up, which she did. She said good morning to Hina and Meran if she'd see them awake. Then, a chance look outside puzzled her. She would have sworn the ground was smeared with blood and organs last she saw it, before she went to sleep. That couldn't be right. Or maybe she was still dreaming.

"Breakfast is on the table," she heard Sasori speak, interrupting her thoughts. When she turned to look at said table, she felt blown away. Definitely still a dream. He had recovered their water bottles and fetched them apples and berries and fish and potatoes. What? The moment she realized the surprise was likely showing on her face, she schooled it back to neutral... well, the best she could. She walked to the table and stood before it, eyeing the food. She resisted the urge to shake her head in disbelief. "Uh... thank you," she muttered, giving Sasori a curious glance. Giving thanks was appropriate, she supposed. She wondered why he'd done it. He didn't care for them, did he? Of course he didn't. Well I certainly don't care about him, she thought, and she was sure the feeling was mutual. Wasn't it?

She looked at the food again, then back at Sasori, then the food. She grabbed one of the water bottles and shook it, checking if it was filled or empty. Her grey eyes flitted back to Sasori once more. "So... did you sleep well?" What was she doing, asking such arbitrary nonsense? Then again, he didn't look tired. But he didn't look like he'd slept either. And then there was the sight outside. He had cleaned it up, he must have. But that would surely have taken up all night, so how could he not be tired? Akira stared at the redhead, searching for dark lines under his eyes... but there was just nothing there. No one could skip a night and not feel anything, right?

(common sense roll: is the water bottle empty or filled?)

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Fri 21 Feb - 10:57

Music
Hina was walking through a dark forest, all around her the sounds of animals were heard. The forest made way to an opening. The desert. She walked forward out of the forest, being glad to get rid of the suffocating feel of something surrounding her. She loved the openness of the desert. It allowed for room to think. She looked up to the sky, but it was dark, there weren't even any stars. This didn't strike her as odd though. Because everything was peaceful. She was at ease.

When she looked down she noticed a scroll, almost as if illuminated by a spotlight. She curiously walked over and picked up the scroll. 'Maybe I shouldn't open it,' she thought, sluggishly, but as soon as that thought had entered her mind the scroll seemed to spring to life and unraveled, snapping at her with the teeth it suddenly had! She dropped the scroll and backed away, a scream never left her lips.

Switch the music to something more fitting.

Where the scroll fell to the ground the sand turned red, the colour spreading out from it like a taint. She sand became soaked in blood. The colour spread underneath her soles and soon the entire desert was red. Red sand with a black sky. Quickly after the colour came the scorpions.. She couldn't produce a sound as the scorpions poured from the scroll. She couldn't move either. She was slowly sinking into the sand as the scorpions crept from the scroll and reached towards her.

"Why did you do this, Hina?" she heard a ghostly voice from behind her. She turned to see her friends standing there, all horribly wounded. Meran seemed to have broken every bone in his body, but he could still stand for some reason, there were shards of beaker-glass littered over his body. Akira was missing an arm and an eye, blood smeared across her face. Hiten's throat was cut, his lower jaw hanging limp, and frozen trickles of blood led from his eyes, as if he was crying frozen blood.

"Why did you open the scroll?" Meran said, a couple of glass shards falling to the ground. "Why did you let me fight Souran?" Blood dribbled from Akira's mouth. "Why didn't you try to find me?" Hiten's slack jaw wobbled back and forth morbidly.

Hina screamed and leapt backwards from her friends, falling into a black abyss. The scorpions were pouring around her. She tried to bat them away, but the were crawling all over her. At the top she could see her friends staring down at her. She landed on her stomach, the scorpions were gone. She lifted her head to see.. a huge scorpion, and it wasn't Sasori's puppet this time. This one was genuinely huge. Suddenly a familiar redhead stepped in between her and the scorpion. She thought he was going to protect her and was grateful. But he moved awkwardly, jerking. His head swung around 180 degrees and stared at her with a dead look in his eyes. "How does it feel, Hina?" His voice sounded hollow, and at the same time seemed to come from everywhere, filling the entire air, pounding in her head. "To have caused all your friends to suffer?" She felt something wet and slimy under her hands and looked down.

The ground wasn't solid at all, it was made from corpses and intestines floating around in a thick, sticky liquid. And she was sinking.. She struggled to stay at the surface. "It is all your fault." She tried to protest, but couldn't open her mouth without it being filled by the gory substance she was currently doing her best to not be pulled down by. Sasori's head was back on the right way again and he was bending over her drowning body, her maimed friends standing around her as well. She glared down at her with accusing eyes, hatred blackening their irises. From behind them the huge scorpion walked up to her as well. Her eyes widened in utter panic as the stinger rose. She let out a gurgled scream. The stinger of the giant animal swept down towards her face, coming closer and closer. And struck.


Hina awoke with a scream as she was being shook awake by Sasori. Her pupils were contracted, she was bathed in a cold sweat and shudders wracked her body. She was hyperventilating as well. She looked around the cave that was slowly starting to light up. Akira was standing next to her fuuton. Meran was lying on the medical bed. Sasori was standing in a corner of the room. She looked outside and thanked any and all gods out there that there were no bodies lying around anymore.

She took a shuddering breath to try and calm herself and lowered her head in her hands. 'It was all just a dream. Be rational. It was just a dream. Nothing to get worked up over.' The only thing that was wrong was Hiten not being here. The image of dream-Hiten flashed before her eyes, and she tightly screwed them shut, trying to block out the image, as she drew another ragged breath.

If anyone would try and walk over to her to comfort her she would just hold up one hand to keep them away, indicating that she just needed a little time. She felt like crying. She wasn't a morning person anyway, and waking up from a hellish nightmare at the break of dawn was not her idea of fun. After a couple of minutes her breathing had calmed down and she lifted her head. She slowly stood up, feeling exhausted. She had slept poorly, and the nightmare had just been like kicking her while she was already down anyway. Dark circles were under her eyes.

She walked over to the table with food on it. She felt like she had to say "good morning" to the others, but as a matter of fact, this morning pretty damn much sucked fucking monkey balls. So she opted for a raspy "Hey." instead. She cleared her throat and looked at the food. Her stomach growled but her mouth felt like it was the place where the desert originated from. But apparently they had to eat while walking, so she grabbed two bottles of water, some berries, some potatoes and a one of the fishes as well. If the other guys really wanted to split the fish evenly, she'd share. But in all honesty, the fish was the only stuff that even looked mildly appetising right now. She doubted she'd stand the crunch of the apples, the juicy acidness of the berries, and don't even mention the raw potatoes. No. The soft, sweet, filling taste of cooked fish was the best option now.

She walked back to her fuuton and gathered her belongings, clipping on the pouches with the weapons around her waist, and putting the food in them as well. Lastly she picked up Chouchou and swung her around her shoulders. Not with as much vigour as she normally would do, but the puppet was in place, and the familiar weight was comforting. She also tied the scarf around her neck in such a way that she could easily pull it up to shield herself from the desert sun.

"Are we going to look for Hiten?" she asked in general.


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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Mon 24 Feb - 10:49

As the girls returned to the cave, Meran's hope was low. He wasn't talkative, he knew as well as the girls that not finding Hiten now, there was little hope of finding him alive tomorrow.
Meran could not face the girls right that moment and besides that they were all too tired to stay awake much longer. Meran faced the wall as he softly wept for their friend. He did not sleep for a while, besides being bone dread tired. Tears drip down his cheek, tonight he was a boy who feared for the live of a brother he chose, tomorrow he would have to be hard and be a big brother once again.

Eventually he nodded off, his throat dry and his cheeks salty from the tears. It was far from a pleasant night. With images of his older brother, altered with those of Hiten. Both faced the same threat and both were ripped from his life like rag-dolls. In his dreams he felt like a puppet in a play, just waiting for something to cut his strings. But who was the puppetmaster pulling their strings? And who was cutting those strings?

He woke up with a shiver as he heard the voice of an actual puppetmaster telling them to get ready.
Hina woke with a scream, which caused a sharp reaction from Meran, before she would know it, a shield of sand was between her and any possible threat. After realizing that there was no actual danger, Meran would allow the sand to return to his own body, slowly allowing Hina to be exposed to the world. For her it must have felt like the cave slowly lighting up as the shield was cleared.

Meran's body was stiff and uncomfortable as the pain of his leg returned to him. He didn't look forwards to the trip, but knew they had to get on their way. He got up, but not as fast as the two girls, everything to considerable effort, just standing was hard enough. He looked at the other two with a weak smile, attempting to hide the pain, but failing. Slowly he grabbed two bottles, placing them in his pouch, he would also approach Hina for some painkillers, but he was careful only to take a small dose, it was a long trip and the meds would have to last him quite a while.
He would also help the girls get as much food as possible into the backpack, as well as any other things they might need and he would not be able to carry. Hell he could not even carry himself, he made a point to look out for a long stick he could use as a brace.... He doubted for a second then he turned to Sasori.
"Sir, I would like to thank you and I am ashamed to ask, seeing you have done so much for us already, but would you have something for me to aid in my walking ability, like a long stick or a staff or spear?" Meran looked doubtful, but he wanted to try. If Sasori did not have either or did not want to present him with it, he would instead follow his earlier thought and look for one once they were on their way. He wouldn't have long before they reached the desert, but still...

Meran cringed as Hina asked if they were going to look for Hiten, but quickly made his resolve and took a big brother stance. "We can look for him on our way out, but we must get back home. If he lives and we find him, we can help him. If we find his body, we can bury him. If he is alive, but not here, the best we can do is to record what we do find and get back home to tell father. Hiten would have a better hope then, we can do so little after all..." He was reminded of the fight that happened the day before, where he had little to no effect on the outcome.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Wed 26 Feb - 2:21

Water bottles are filled with fresh, cold water and cleaned.

The puppeteer watched the kids get up and to all of them it seemed like his mood had gotten slightly better. Still, it was hard to judge since the boy didn't show much emotion to begin with, but all seemed fine. He had been quite busy when the kids were sleeping and they seemed to know that as well. The violent girl, Akira suddenly started to have small talk with him, which felt a bit forced and akward. "So... did you sleep well?"
'I didn't sleep,' he simply replied. It was the truth. As a matter of fact: he couldn't remember the last time he had slept.

Sasori looked at the Sabaku and listened to his request. He still didn't like the boy, but he could also understand how the boy had felt last night. 'I probably have something around, Sabaku-kun.' Sasori walked towards a closet, which was filled with all kinds of medical devices: from bone saws to scalpels to injection needles and also a pair of crutches. Really old-fashioned ones. They seemed to be at least forty to fifty years old, made of wood and if Meran tried them they would be a bit too small for him, but still good enough to give him some grip and help to walk.
As Sasori handed Meran the crutches he spoke:'You can borrow them. However, I would like to have them back some day.'

Last he moved to Hina, who seemed to be slightly traumatized - probably by the events caused the day before - and asked her: 'Are you alright?'
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Thu 27 Feb - 3:29

Akira was a little surprised he deigned her with a reply at all, and his words confirmed what she'd suspected... though she was in disbelief. How could someone not sleep through an entire night and look like he did? He had obviously been busy cleaning up and getting rid of the bodies... but surely that must have been very laborious work. "How come you don't look tired at all?" she asked while she started to work on loading the food into the backpack, helped by Meran and Hina, who she was going to ask what she'd dreamt of later. She half expected Sasori to come back with a stupid witty retort, like 'can't help it I was born with good genes'. She inwardly balked at this thought. Like 'good genes' explained his youthful appearance when he must be many decades old. It all just didn't add up. She took a sudden sharp intake of breath when the thought occurred to her that maybe... maybe... he was immortal. Dear baby jesus... immortal. Could it be? No way. There was no such thing as immortality. She held one apple back for her to eat when they started walking, and turned around, leering at Sasori with suspicious, appraising eyes. He looked no older than... 17, at most. At most. It was impossible, but her eyes didn't betray her. Then... maybe it was his appearance that did the deceiving.

He wasn't human, that must be it. Even though it sounded ridiculous. He didn't tire, he didn't age... When the backpack was ready, she slung it on her back, summoned her courage and went up to Sasori after he'd spoken with Meran and Hina and they were all making to leave. Only one way to get any definite answers, assuming he'd answer at all and if he did, speak the truth. "You're immortal, aren't you?" she whispered to him, staring up into his blank, youthful face. "You're old... no offense. But you don't look old. Far from it."

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Sat 1 Mar - 7:04

When Meran asked her for the painkillers she reached into the medpack in one of the pouches and handed him some. "Here you go." she had said with a smile. "And thank you for.. when I woke up." she didn't want to talk about her nightmare. She had never had a nightmare as bad as this one, and had been completely out of it, but not so much that she hadn't noticed Meran's sand protecting her. Ever the big brother. She had also offered him the two packs of ninwire she had found the previous evening, claiming with a smile that she hadn't forgotten about his souvenirs.

She was sad, but not completely surprised, when Meran stated that it wouldn't help if they were to look for Hiten now anyway. She had already figured as much. She took out a bit of the fish, and held it in her hand, staring down at it, but even the fish didn't seem appealing anymore. She stuffed the food back in her pack and brought one hand to her closed eyes. Trying to push back the image of dream-Hiten once more. She had the creeping feeling she wouldn't get rid of those images so easily..

She hadn't noticed Sasori walk up to her and when he spoke she jumped a little and her right hand was already up, a split second away from attaching strings to Chouchou, while her left hand had jerked towards the kunai in one of her pouches when she realised that it was Sasori who had asked her if she was alright.

What the hell did he expect her to say? "Fine, thank you, and you?", "Just fucking peachy.", or maybe he expected her to start spewing her feelings about the nightmare she just had? The thought alone almost made her snort. Chikamatsu no Hina didn't do sappy sob stories. And she didn't think for one second that not everyone in this cave was aware of the fact that she had had a nightmare. She had awoken screaming, bathing in her own sweat, and hyperventilating.

"I," she cleared her throat, which was still slightly raspy, I just had a poor night's rest. I'm tired, that's all." It wasn't all. Far from. She had seen horrible things the evening before; Sasori's mere existence had shaken some foundations of what she thought to be truths; scorpions were fucking everywhere, now in her dreams as well; one of her best friends was missing, possibly dead, possibly worse; and instead of giving her the comfort of blissful unconsciousness her scumbag brain decided to give her a nice little recap and cram all that into one horrific dream. But Sasori didn't care about that. He probably just wanted to know whether she would be able to walk out of this cave herself or that he would have to kick her, and if she wouldn't slow them down. But there was no danger of her being the slowest of the group, Meran definitely would be.

In a, possibly, rather obvious attempt to divert the attention from her mental and physical wellbeing she said, "Sasori-sama, may I ask you something? I found something yesterday." If he wouldn't seem to discourage her to continue on she would reach into her pouch and pull out the heart-scroll and the weird explosive notes and ask him, "What do you think this is?"
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Sat 1 Mar - 15:06

As Sasori was getting the crutches out from the closet, Hina came up to Meran, thanking him and as always when they went through this, one of them thanked the other and the other expressed that no thanks were needed. He gave her a short hug to let her know that everything would be alright. Meran would place the nin-wire packs into the pouch that was getting full to the brim. And swallowed the painkillers down with a mouthful of water. He drank sparringly, but he needed the killers to get moving.

When Sasori returned, meran could not do anything else, than express his gratitude to the man. He had already helped them so much and now he was helping them even more.
"Thank you Akasuna-sama, I promiss I will do my best to return the crutches to you, but how can I find you to return them? I could ask father to seal them in a scroll. I will carry them with me until we meet again? But will we meet again?"

Meran looked ready to go walking. It was just a matter of settling the final details to him, before they could go out and go on surviving.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Tue 4 Mar - 10:07

Sasori didn't answer Akira, but in stead smiled at Meran. 'I'm pretty sure we'll meet again, Sabaku-kun. I'm sure we'll figure something out. I've got plenty of time.' As he listened to Hina's bad night of sleep, he didn't reply, but just nodded. Suddenly the Chikamatsu asked him something about a scroll. As he got handed the explosive notes, without really looking at them he arched a brow. 'Wait, let me show you.' In a movement Hina's eyes could not even follow he put one on Hina's forehead and as the girl would await an explosion nothing happened, except for a small spark to fly out and die in the morning light. Hina would realize it are fake notes, really badly drawn when you looked at it in better light.
Next he grabbed the scroll and only half interested gave it a look, continuing doing what he was doing he gave it back to Hina. 'Probably a letter or something.'

After his morning fun with Hina and the other kids he suddenly heard Akira say - in a way as if she just found all the answers in the universe: "You're immortal, aren't you?"
'Hm?' Sasori replied.
"You're old"
'Old..?!' he spoke, almost in an angered tone. Angered maybe wasn't the right word. It sounded more like a boyish cry in panic, short of. It would still be hard to figure out for the kids, since his voice was always monotone, but it had a vague hint of panic. He managed to calm down a bit after Akira continued.
"... no offense. But you don't look old. Far from it."
 Sasori looked at the girl with quite the grateful face. He still didn't really reply to the immortal question, but then again: he didn't feel like he had to. "Thank you." He looked around again. 'Well... if you kids could hurry up now. I have things to do here before I leave myself.'
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Thu 6 Mar - 10:49

Hina was.. almost thankful that Sasori didn't go on about the dream. She wasn't surprised, but she was thankful anyway. She didn't want to tell these people here the roles in her dream. She didn't want to talk about Hiten. She just wanted to forget about the bad dream. The thought of Hiten being.. wherever... made her wish that all this was just a bad dream she could wake up from. A small part of her - the optimistic part, the naïve, the innocent and emotional - hoped that they would stumble across Hiten somewhere on their way back. Or even just his tracks. Perhaps he had laid out a trail for them to follow.

"Wait, let me show you." 'Wha-?' Before she could even finish the thought he had smacked one of the seals against she froze up, eyes wide. Would he kill her now?! Why now? What had she done? If he didn't like questions he should blow Akira up!

But nothing happened. The seal didn't explode. Neither did her head. Just a tiny, ridiculous, spark flew from it and fizzed out in front of her nose. She grabbed the seal from her forehead and crumpled the paper in her hand. "Mean.." she muttered under her breath as she slightly glared at Sasori, a pout on her lips. It was a look that Meran and probably Akira as well would recognise, if they had seen it that is. It was the same the look that she would give Meran whenever he was treating her like a little kid. Like a baby sister. And when she was acting like one. The absurdity of Hina being teased by a legendary shinobi as if he was her big brother didn't dawn on Hina however, because he was looking at the scroll.

Or, well, looking might be a big word. "Threw a glance at" might be more accurate. Hina however looked intensely at the scroll. She didn't trust scrolls. Not anymore. True, this one didn't have "Private! Keep the fuck out you nosey little bugger!" written in bold red letters across it (neither did the other scroll, but hey), but still... It was a scroll. A sealed scroll. He gave the scroll back to Hina and she took it with a, "Thank you, Sasori-sama."

She was staring at the scroll while Akira was talking to Sasori. She only listened with half an ear. Yeah, she would guess him to be immortal as well. Or, as close to being immortal as anyone she had ever met. Or probably would ever meet.

As they headed out she was still staring, glaring, at the scroll. She opted for walking next to Akira. "I think he might be immortal, too. Or as close as anyone would get, that is. Then again, he hasn't reached an un-human age yet. He might just die at 80 but still look like a teenager." She kept glaring at the scroll, as if expecting it to spontaneously combust in her hand. "Hey, remember this? Sasori-sama says it's harmless." She looked at Akira, almost defiantly. "I am going to open it."

With almost shaking hands she broke the seal and held the scroll at arms length, before she pulled the scroll open. She closed one eye and averted her head, just in case the scroll would explode something on her. Throw a building at her or something. At least they were outside now, so if it would summon forth a herd of angry elephants at least they would have enough space to run away. But then again, Sasori had said that it probably just was a letter, and for some reason, she trusted him. His calm and sure presence felt comforting. And he had killed all those enemies the evening before. And he was a legendary puppet master. And it almost seemed as if he seemed to dislike her the least.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Sun 9 Mar - 2:03

Meran smiled as Sasori told him he would get the chance to keep his promise. He bowed to his fellow red head and said "I swear I will do my utmost best to return your belongings to you one day. On my honor! And I hope to be able to show you how much we have improved, perhaps we can save you next time!"

While Meran was making the final preparations for travel, unexpectedly Sasori played a prank on Hina, which after the joke was made and he saw Hina's reaction, made Meran laugh honestly for the first time since he suddenly had a lab. on his back.
Hina's reaction felt so incredibly genuine, as if the last few hours had never happened.
The thought of those hours though, made Meran stop laughing abruptly. His thoughts and emotions were with Hiten and he wondered what they would say to Gaara or worse, to Hiten's parents when they returned to Suna.

Meran fell silent after that and when the rest started to head out and away, Meran would follow and try to keep up with the girls. A wretched feeling in his chest.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Sun 9 Mar - 10:52

Sasori's reaction to her words was epic, and she'd be sure to remember it forever. He'd appeared almost panicked when she said he was old, and looked grateful after she added he didn't look his age at all. She was absolutely positive she'd hit the nail on the head with Sasori being immortal. He didn't want to become old, he wanted to stay young. Really young. And no sleep, no fatigue. I suppose there's something to be said for it, she thought to herself.

Pleased with the reaction she'd gotten and simply overall surprised with Sasori's behavior this morning, she moved out soon after, joining Hina and Meran. Hina soon started to amble closer to her and started speaking, making it known she'd been listening in a bit. "I think he might be immortal, too. Or as close as anyone would get, that is. Then again, he hasn't reached an un-human age yet. He might just die at 80 but still look like a teenager." Akira shrugged. "Might be you're right. Still, think of how nice it would be to have a young and supple body at eighty instead of an old and wrinkly one! I get the appeal." She wondered how on earth Sasori had made it possible at all. He was over fifty years old already. "What fountain of youth did he fall into..." she pondered out loud.

She blinked and shrugged it off. Meran was quiet, managing to keep up pretty well, thank goodness. Despite his silence now, he'd been in a pretty good mood this morning. She'd heard how he'd laughed when Sasori pulled that prank on Hina. She had to admit, it was good to hear that laugh. It meant his spirit had returned to him.

"Hey, remember this? Sasori-sama says it's harmless." Hina interrupted her thoughts and showed her the strange scroll. "I am going to open it."
Akira's grey eyes widened. "You sure that's a good idea?" And what's up with the -sama? You respect him that much? You trust him that much? She sure as hell didn't. Then again, she admittedly had trouble trusting people and Sasori had kinda proved he wasn't out to kill them. Right now.

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Tue 11 Mar - 4:49

As Hina opened the scroll another lab would summon on top of Meran nothing happened. The only thing she could see where letters, written in a shaky handwriting.

Dear Fuuka, it began...

My dearest love. How are you? I hope you're doing great.

Last time I wrote you I told you I would be coming home soon. In this letter I send you the good news that I am. I have just one more job left and then I can finally come home! We can finally start living our lives together, my dearest Fuuka. I am filled with happiness and joy! To be able to see your beautiful smile again, to hold you again. I might even be home on time before the baby is born. We can build a house with the money I have saved in a country far-far away and never have be with these people again. We'll be free. I have paid off my debt here.


As Hina read more and more she'd remember the person she had taken the scroll from was the person she had kicked in the face for gushing human liquids on her shoe.

My dearest Fuuka. I can't wait to hold you again, to wake up next to you. We could build our house by the sea as you've always dreamed of. We can watch our kids grow up far away from this corrupted and rotten world and finally get married as I promised you.

Shiratoshi Fuuka I shall see you within a week after you have received this letter. I promise.

Love,
Midoriiro



[OC Note: I would very much appreciate it as you started moving back to Suna in your next post]
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Tue 11 Mar - 10:24

"You sure that's a good idea?"
"Yeah. I'm sure this one will be fine." She tried to sound confident, but the small quake in her voice gave away her uncertainty. 'What if this one explodes as well? But Sasori-sama said it would be fine, so it should be fine.'

As Hina quickly read the letter she felt a block of ice forming in her stomach. They had killed a person. Well, technically Sasori had killed a person. A whole bunch of them. And she had been happy. But that was before she knew that he had a lover named Fuuka, and an unborn child. Before she knew that this person thought his home was a hell-hole and that he wanted to leave. That he only did this because he was indebted. Before she knew that he liked the ocean and that his name was Midoriio.

Akira apparently wasn't impressed by the letter in any way shape or form. So on the outside Hina kept calm and was laconic about the whole scroll-thing. "Well one thing is for sure. He's not 'doing great'." But on the inside the block of ice was growing, it's coldness seeping through her veins. She stashed the scroll in her pack. If anyone would ask her she would say it was because she didn't want to leave any trace of anything behind.

As they set off towards Suna she looked down at her shoes and noticed that there was some discolouration where bits of Midoriio had been only hours before. She felt like throwing up. These shoes would definitely have to be burned.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Sat 15 Mar - 23:45

Akira read the letter quietly, not feeling impressed. So whoever Hina had gotten this scroll from had a lover somewhere, pregnant with a dead man's child. She couldn't find it in her to feel sorry. This man died trying to kill her and her friends. If it hadn't been for Sasori, it would have been their families grieving instead of this pregnant woman.

"Well one thing is for sure. He's not 'doing great'," Hina remarked, trying to sound like she didn't care either. However, Akira had known her longer than today and sensed something was off. This had affected Hina more than it did her, but she couldn't say how much. "Occupational hazard," she said. "If he hadn't tried to kill us first, he need not have died."

She shrugged and moved along, once again admiring how clean the area was considering it had been littered with blood and gore just the night before. She looked over her shoulder to the cave entrance and wondered what Sasori was going to do now and whether they'd ever see him again. He seemed set on getting his brace back from Meran, so mayhaps they'd cross paths again in the future. She didn't know if she felt happy about that. For the moment, she was leaning towards 'not quite', despite how he'd helped them out. She didn't really know what to think of him, but she'd have more than enough time to ponder that in the next few days.

"If you need support, don't be proud, just call for help okay?" she told Meran as she came up next to him. The way back home would be long and Meran definitely needed to see a medic. She didn't know how long he'd be able to hold out so it'd be best if he didn't strain himself too much.

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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Wed 19 Mar - 15:39

As the group proceeded (at a soft pace, as one of them had a broken leg) the one remaining boy was lost in thought and sorrow. He felt lost, or better yet, a part of him felt lost, like it was ripped from his body and he had to live without it from no on. It felt like an open wound that was bleeding and he had done nothing to stop the bleeding.

He knew he would survive, but he would never be whole again and it hurt more than his leg could ever feel. The worst part is, he hadn't even had the chance to say goodbye. Meran softly thanked Akira for her concern and assured her he would if it was necessary, but there was hardly any passion in his voice. It was so hard to concentrate on something happy, not when this wound was still so fresh and bare to the world.

As they reached the edge of the trees and could look out on the vast desert he felt he could no longer put one foot in front of the other. The pain was just too much. He just stood there and looked into the vast reaches of the desert, but it was like a hand on his shoulder begging him not to go, to stay, to not leave him behind.

A shiver went down Meran's spine, no body was found, but would the men have killed Hiten before taking him, was it a ghost? The boy shivered, which reminded him about the shivers only Hiten could give him. "I can't..." He managed to get out, even softer than before, but he continued in a stronger voice, though still not loud... "I can't go on without saying goodbye.." He knew it would sound silly, but the tears in his eyes said he meant it. Meran tried to never show those tears to the two girls, he was the oldest one, the tough big brother that could take the hits, but he could not hide his feelings from these two, not after their loss... He had wept before falling asleep, but had the girls? Did they realize how big a part was cut from their lives?

Flashbacks past before his eyes as he thought of all the times they had shared together, would they ever happen again? He remembered how his icy exterior hit a heart of fire, that few were privy to have seen. How Hiten had spoken full of passion of the dreams he had for himself and how he had wishes for the rest of them as well. How he had always found his own part in the group, though he might not have seemed the most involved, he was always there with them.

(I assume here that Akira and Hina stop to hear Meran out and seeing this is my last post for this event I will also assume that the girls will support Meran and at least hear his eulogy for Hiten and promise, should this not be the case, I will edit my post. You girls are of course more than welcome to join in etc. You know the drill. ^^)

Meran looked at the two girls and continued, thought there was a noticeable silence between these words and his last. "Sorry Hina, Akira... But I can't go on until I have honored Hiten's memory, I hope he is alive somewhere, but I fear for the worst. I want to honor my memories of him and make him a promise. I know it seems silly, but could you please wait for one minute?" Meran looked at the girls begging for their patience and would then ask them to sit with him in a circle.

"Dear Hiten,

I am so so sorry this happened to you, I wish I could have helped you. Forgive me, but I could not. You were my friend and I could do nothing but sit there. I was useless, but I cannot take another step without thanking you. For your courage that inspired me, for being the calm in the storm that Hina and I can be and most of all for your friendship that you gave unconditionally. You always had our back and I do not know how we can go on without you. It will be so different without your silent presence, though I do not believe you will ever truly leave us.  You will be with us and you will always have a place in our lives."
Meran would start to dig a hole in the ground, only a small hole, though he did not have anything to bury

"I give you this memory I cherish;
I will always remember and cherish the day we found out your heritage. How you never feared to share it with us and always trusted us to keep your secrets. The outside world might have only seen the cold outside, but with that you showed me the warmth and trust you had for us. And I love you for it."
Meran wiped a tear from his eyes and touched the ground in the hole with it. He would follow it by throwing a handful of sand back in the hole he had made.

"I promise you that I will become stronger so I can protect the girls and that I will find out what happened with you and why." Meran wiped a tear from his other eye and touched the ground again, before spreading a second hand of dirt in the hole.

Meran would wait for a bit, giving time for the others to participate, however he did not force them. It was a very very old ceremony, hardly ever performed anymore in Suna and most kids their age would only know it from books and stories by the elders of the village, but it had always intrigued Meran.

When they all had done what they wanted to do, whether the girls did anything or not, Meran would get up with help he asked from the girls and he would say the final words, which were the most know from the ritual (as it was still used as a saying).

"May the last embrace of the mother welcome you home."

After that all he said was "thank you" to the girls before turning around and continuing on their path.
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PostSubject: Re: Chapter 4 : May the winds guide you   Thu 20 Mar - 10:20

When the three of them reached the edge of the forest and the vast expanse of the desert stretched out before them as far as the eye could see, Meran couldn't continue onward. He looked broken and absolutely wretched, murmuring he couldn't go on without saying goodbye. Seeing him like this made Akira feel like a heartless bitch for having pushed Hiten from her thoughts ever since it became apparent they wouldn't find him on their own.

Knowing herself, she'd push the fresh memories away until the moment she was back home, lying in her bed and staring up at the ceiling of her bedroom in the middle of the night. That was the moment when her thoughts would return to her unbidden. The same thing would happen the night after that, and would undoubtedly continue for many more nights to come, leaving her to mull things over in silence. Akira was not the type of person to break down and cry, even when faced with something like this. She'd deal with it in her own time. Besides, she didn't want to believe Hiten was dead.

That was what she had intended to do. Instead, she found herself following Meran down to the ground, completing the small circle the three of them formed as they sat down. She heard Meran speak his solemn and heartfelt words. When he was done, she wondered if she should be next. For some reason she didn't feel adequate enough. For all the emotion that filled Meran in this moment, she herself felt strangely empty. Still, it was only appropriate she said something as well. She owed that to Hiten, at least.

While she spoke, she dug a little hole in the sand with her hand. "I remember when we first met. You were quiet and alone. And though you never became a person of many words, you did become my friend. Our friend." And that was saying something, coming from her. She was wary of people, and spurned intimacy, not letting anyone in... an exception being made for three people. "I saw something in you, something drew me to you, and I'm glad you were part of my life for such a long time." Meran had put tears in his hole, but Akira's eyes were dry and had no tears to give. It is just as well, she thought. Hiten wasn't dead, she wouldn't believe it. This felt like a burial ceremony, as if he'd already met his end. "I hope we'll meet again, sooner rather than later, and in good health," she finished, and closed the little hole with sand.

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