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Team Seven: In Sheep's Clothing

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  • #16
    Hidden panels? Hidden panels! Hiryo couldn't even register what their sensei was saying at first because he wanted to berate the man for his complete lack of professionalism. Maybe it was a lack of thoroughness. Whatever it was, he couldn't believe they were made to suffer when they could have easily aired out the barrels during the trip down the pass!

    Hiryo squinted at their sensei, and peeked over at Eiko's barrel.

    "This seems obvious."

    The Leviathan hunts, it seeks out the prey that must be destroyed to protect the people. In this case, Hiryo was sure, that meant finding these people in the tavern and using them as leverage to find the others. Going up the pass was too slow, it let them be the victims!

    "The Emerald Drake does not play dead, roll over, or show his belly!" He almost got too loud, and calmed himself down, "we should strike here, at the tavern. That detail here sounds like they are part of this. We squeeze them, we learn where the rest are right away."

    He was sure of it, that had to be the right answer. The fact that he had sweat through his clothing had nothing to do with his urge to get out of there as fast as possible. Besides, with his Jounin with them it was likely they could make quick work of anyone that got in their way. He would at least be good for that, hopefully. He was Shinrai after all. They were supposed to hold to a high standard!


    • #17
      Indignation wasn’t quite the word to describe the expression on Hiryo’s face. Incredulity might have been more accurate. Tanryoku let the boy’s vehement eagerness wash over his own patient demeanour and merely raised an eyebrow. Truth be told, he was impressed by the Spartoi student’s restraint. Eiko, bless her, was using the moment to cool off. In hindsight, it might have been a touch harsh to force his new students undergo such a gruelling transit. But the life of an active shinobi didn’t leave much in the way of comfort. Theirs was ever the path less travelled, and the one less predicted. For professionals who worked in the shadows, success was determined by whomever could bear discomfort the longest to outlast their mark’s expectations or get them to lower their guard.

      This, he reasoned, had now been achieved. The foreman hadn’t let on that he suspected anything more than the story Tanryoku had fed him. If anything, he seemed a little too accommodating.

      "You’re probably onto something, Hiryo-kun. That detail does sound suspicious. Like Takai said earlier: we’re the ones to sort this out because the people making the problems have complete control over this vital choke point. Some people get through, others are never heard from again. So we know they’re being selective. The ones who make it through are the small traders with inexpensive wares. That pattern has emerged. And they mention this place also, a helpful waypoint bustling with activity. But no mention of the bandits they expected to see. That rumour, in fact, appears to be just that. Planted, no doubt, so that merchants who can afford guards do. And it's more cost effective to hire guards less often, so you'd want to have the ones you're paying guarding bigger, more valuable caravans so you can still make your deadlines. Those are then the ones waylaid by unexpected hinderances."

      He pinched his chin, brow furrowing for a moment as he mentally checked off a suspicion before continuing.

      "I told the foreman on our way in we had a precious cargo. Delicate stuff. Almost immediately he fed me a line about the rock slide taking longer to shift than they’d anticipated. An update on what that water seller told us, maybe. But could also be a convenient fabrication. Though it doesn’t confirm my theory, it definitely raises a flag."

      He paused again, curious. Eiko was the first to break the silence, peering over the lip of the barrel. With her thick, part-dishevelled hickory mop all but masking her currant-red eyes, she jutted out her lower lip and exhaled upwards in a sharp puff, blinking away perspiration and stray hairs.

      "Then we probably know all we need to know," she said, matter-of-factly. "Anything else we can learn by watching their movements, can’t we? Especially if they don’t suspect us. I mean, if it were up—" she continued, then realised all eyes were on her, although Takai's were hard to see. She freed up a hand, smoothing her hair back into place.

      "To you?" the Stork offered, taciturn.

      "Well…yes…then I’d suggest we stick to the plan. Nothing changes. We remain in the barrels, an armed cargo to catch them red-handed, like I said before. You and Tanryoku-sensei can then do as you please: enter the inn or investigate the rock slide. Both will probably yield answers — although I’m even more convinced now that the latter is less a pile of rocks and more likely a band of opportunistic cutthroats. So…I stand by my choice not to split up, if at all possible."

      She shrugged and sank back. Takai was nodding slowly. And Tanryoku knew Hiryo’s position.

      "Then we do that," he said.

      It might even be the best of both worlds, if he could manage it.

      "You two stick in out in here. Use the panels when you have to, but get familiar locking them in place to go incognito. Don’t immediately engage if someone takes it upon themselves to move you. Track any movements, lie in wait. I trust you to figure out the right moment to make your presences known. Takai-kun and I will head inside, see what’s what. Put a squeeze on anyone who doesn’t feel right."

      He would have clapped the lanky boy on the shoulder if he could reach him, but Takai hadn't moved from the driver's bench, merely swivelled in his seat. So instead, clasping his hands around raised knees, Tanryoku cocked his head back so that his voice travelled up.

      "Stay alert, Takai-kun. You’ll have fewer facial tells for obvious reasons, so don’t let your body language give anything away. You’re my bodyguard and we’re there to take the opportunity to rest. We won’t be volunteering to help. I want to see how far we can take this precious cargo ruse."

      He glanced at Eiko’s tuft, where her hood had slipped from the crown of her head.

      "Don't worry. We won’t be splitting up."
      Last edited by Calibur; 03-25-2020, 02:55 PM.


      • #18
        It sounded a lot like splitting up. If they were going to be out in the barrels, waiting for something to happen while those two were inside, it sounded exactly like splitting up. Hiryo was starting to question what it took to qualify as a Jounin in Hidden Sand.

        But for now he needed to play along. Once this plan went terribly wrong, he would be able to fix it and make sure that they were back on the right path.

        "Fine," Hiryo said as he sank back into his hiding spot, "for now, we wait, and observe. If there is an emergency, we will let you know. I doubt anything will happen though. Right?"

        That last question was for Eiko, who he turned to with an inquisitive look. She seemed prepared, and while she was a dangerous one, Hiryo knew that she would at least be able to back him up in a fight.

        "Go and relax, we'll do all the hard work...sensei."

        Hopefully there would be nothing to do. The man's assessment of what was happening was, at least partially, sound. They were being lead. From where he was, he could hear any planning the fiends did out loud, or strike if they left themselves open. More likely, he would be in a prime position when the enemy did expose themselves as thieves.

        He closed his barrel up, and started to fiddle with the hidden panel to see how quietly he could open it.