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Stat Page : Dracoso Hehane
Mission Record : Learning Path
Summoning Contract : The Okamis of the Haze
Familiar : Sutsui Hehane
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Clan Specialty : Ninjutsu
Village : Kirigakure
Ryo : 88570

Statements of the Soul Empty Statements of the Soul

Sat Sep 24, 2022 10:59 pm
Ever since he picked up the mission form, he wondered just how much trouble there would be for him. He had finished an early morning nap to help after the night of work he had just done, but his mind was still racing for how he would handle this upcoming mission. He had sent a message to his teacher about the details of the mission and the response was a bit mixed. "You have dealt with death and those who have suffered due to it. You may have the knowledge you need, just be gentle. In most cases, you deal with the aftermath of loss. This time, you will be right in the middle of it. Consider the feelings of those who have lost a close one but make keep in mind the role of those who care for the village."

Dracoso finished reading the note again and rolled it back up as he ran his mind through the details of the story again. An escort mission had taken a turn for the worse when a small squad of foreign shinobis had appeared and attacked the caravan. The caravan had been carrying a mix of food supplies and weaponry which was to be delivered to a poorly protected town on the outskirts of the island country. Four shinobi had been assigned to protect the caravan on their trip and had posted up each at a corner of the group. During the attack, the foreign shinobi seemed to take more care to avoid involving civilians, such as the drivers and children, than those who were assigned to escort them.

As the intensity of the combat increased, the several wagons in the caravan were damaged with civilians experiencing injuries. One ninja from the defending escort squad was killed, causing another to go into a fury and begin to use far more powerful jutsu than the situation demanded. Due to this, the several civilians were caught in the crossfire and ended up with severe injuries. One civilian, a young boy barely out of his teens, was hit with a powerful ninjutsu and very little remained of his body afterwards. While the attacking ninjas were either killed or driven off, leaving half a dozen bodies behind, the mother who had been present for the escort had become inconsolable. 

It took a day of work and recovery to repair the wagons and heal the majority of wounds before they could complete their trip out to the town. The story began to spread about the shinobi who had killed a civilian and many in that town were unhappy with the outcome. The shinobi squad was forced out of the town by several townsfolk who felt unsafe with them remaining there and demanded that they be charged with reckless manslaughter for their neglect in combat. At this point, the mother was taken away and has been held in a secretive location to avoid any kind of retribution for the uprising that was coming as a result to the situation.

The shinobi had returned to Kirigakure and were immediately taken in for questioning by the ANBU. The three remaining members of the escort squad had become tight-lipped and refused to share any information beyond what had already been revealed from their written reports. As word spread to the main village, many civilians were beginning to question whether the village would take action against the shinobi responsible or if there was any evidence in the situation to determine exactly what happened. As the mother and the majority of the civilians involved in the transport were now refusing to help, either due to demands for convictions or simply out of stubbornness, the situation had stalled. With this stall, tensions were rapidly rising on both sides. A distance was forming between many civilians and the shinobis set to protect them. Small arguments and fights had broken out which were being managed by the guard, but it was slowly becoming an open arena between those involved.

That is where Dracoso came into this mess. When he first picked up the mission, it described simply handling a tense situation between a grieving mother and one of the local shinobi. As he spoke with the receptionist, she outlined that the mission had rapidly progressed in the hours since he had picked up the mission form. There was now a time set on the mission to complete his task in the next few days, otherwise blood may be shed. He was given permission to visit the three shinobis of the escort squad for discussion and questioning and he was given the last known location of the mother in the hopes to talk with her and settle this situation. 

He was also given access to the three reports presented upon completion of the mission. The first was from the head of the squad detailing the events of the mission from beginning to end. The second was a report by the shinobi in question who had killed the civilian. This report detailed the incident and the injuries experienced by the deceased and living civilians and shinobis in the battle. The final report came from the head of the caravan and their recollection of the events of the trip and the combat. Dracoso sat down in his room as he opened the first report from the head of the shinobi squad and laid the document out in front of him.

'The squad convened at midnight to leave with the least chance of interruption or issue. The squad was made up of myself, Pora, Iatsol, and Cerslo. We connected with the civilian travelers before meeting with the remainder of the caravan. In total, there were 25 accounted for beings, four from my squad, 20 civilians, 14 adults and six child or adolescents, and a pet dog. There were five wagons in the caravan moving in a line formation with myself at the front, Pora position on the left side of the caravan, Iatsol on the right, and Cerslo in the rear for support. Air-tight containers within each wagon held a mix of weaponry, protective warding seals, medical supplies, and barrier seals for individual use. 

The total trip took three days of travel with little incident on the first and final days of travel. While the majority of issues during the first and final day amounted to tiredness of the children and concern over the danger of the mission, distractions were kept to a minimum.

The incident occurred on the second day of travel just past noon, as we were crossing a river in a sunken portion of the path. Morale was neutral that day as the civilians were experiencing higher levels of tension than they were accustomed to, and my team seemed sensitive to this tension. One of the wagons had gotten stuck while cross the river and a woman in the wagon was becoming upset with the delay. As she was raising her voice, Iatsol raised an alarm to an incoming attack. I was able to identify close to fifteen enemy combatants from the front and sides of the caravan with several more reported by Cerslo from the rear. I began by creating a pair of shadow clones to aid me in combat and used several earth techniques to form a blocking barrier to either side to close off the majority of their advance from the front. With carefully planned strikes, we were able to take down a half dozen individuals at the front using silent wind techniques and rapid moving fire techniques.

In the midst of this, the majority of the civilians retreated off to the forest a short way off from the path. They attempted to conceal themselves with three being captured by enemy ninja. Iatsol was engaged by three ninjas of his own and used the water nearby to capture most using clones with water prisons and starch capturing fields to restrain them. Iatsol broke off from the defensive to hunt down the three ninjas who were attempting to kidnap the now restrained civilians and drag them away. Due to his distance from the caravan, and the enemy ninjas becoming more desperate in their attacks, Iatsol received several injuries due to a combination of Genjutsu, Space/Time, and lightning techniques. While he was able to save the three civilians from being kidnapped, he succumbed to his wounds shortly after defeating the third ninja.

Pora was engaged by four opponents of her own and was able to put down three through rapid taijutsu maneuvers. Many of the opponents we faced seemed hesitant to use jutsu that was too powerful as they seemed to be avoiding damaging the wagons we were escorting. It became obvious when two ninjas fighting Pora broke off sets of handseals which may have released powerful area attacks that would have struck the wagon still stuck partway across the river. Upon realizing this, both myself and Pora placed ourselves nearer to the wagons which were empty of the already retreated civilians and put forward a defensive front.

While most of the events occurring in the back of the caravan are unknown up until this point, Cerslo had moved up and became aware of Iatsol's injuries and passing in combat. I imagine it was due to this news, combined with the earlier tension felt over the day, that led Cerslo into something of an emotional state as he became far more aggressive. He rushed towards Iatsol's position and was engaged by several ninjas at the time. A second wave attacked both Pora and myself and we were cut off from the view on the other side of the caravan where Cerslo had gone.

After dispatching another half dozen ninjas, the enemy forces retreated. After checking over the manifest later, it was found that four containers of supplies had been taken. At that point, I went to check on Cerslo with Pora and found him kneeling in the middle of the shallow end of the river. He was unresponsive at first and the body of one of the civilian children, a boy named Racen, was found nearby covered in a combination of fire and lightning wounds. Upon closer inspection, the wounds matched two of the abilities known specifically to Cerslo and appeared to have been dealt at full strength. An enemy ninja could be seen fleeing in the distance from the general direction the body was laying from Cerslo. 

I attempted to ask Cerslo for what had happened and have him report to me immediately on the events, but he refused to speak at the time. He was dealing with a heavy amount of grief as he and Iatsol had known one another for some time before this mission and losing one or the other was a very personal loss to them. Medical attention was applied to all who needed it and the bodies of those who had fallen were placed carefully within the wagons for transport. The bodies of the enemies were recorded for details and were either burned or buried near the river. 

The civilians were tense on the remainder of the trip to the town and seemed to treat us with less tolerance than they had earlier on. As the travel passed, the relations between the escort team and those they were escorting degraded rapidly. By the time we arrived at the town, the escort team was refused entry into the town and was asked to 'await further judgement' as was stated by the head of the town. After several hours, the report from the individual who requested the mission was delivered to me and we were sent off back to Kirikagure. The return trip was done mostly in silence with the body of Iatsol secured within an alternate dimension to avoid deterioration before a proper burial could be achieved.'

The note ended off and Dracoso could imagine this being the point they had turned in the reports and then been ushered off to be interviewed by the ANBU. The main points Dracoso took away from this was that the team had encountered far more danger than they had anticipated, there was a disconnect in the action at two important points, and that tensions were already running high from the start of the mission. The leader was not present at the time of the child's death, but there was evidence that it was Cerslo's techniques that had done it. He could see how the villages could have taken this as a failure to protect them and lead to a rather negative view on their protection.

He unrolled the next report from the head of the caravan who had put in the request initially. It was written in a less formal format with a viewpoint from the civilians' experience. From the timeline of the squad leader's report, this document was written during the point right after arriving at the town.

'We had arrived at the village late at night and loaded each of the wagons with the containers as directed by the shinobis in charge. In total, we had five families traveling with us at the time, one for each wagon, which I was in charge of for this mission. Many of the parents were concerned about the safety of their families but understood the need to leave so late at night to avoid sticking out as we would in the daylight. With the long trip ahead, we wanted to reduce as much possibility of danger to our people as possible. I had the parents take turns in each wagon driving and keeping watch just as a precaution.

I believe some of the parents may have learned of what exactly we were carrying, and I divulged to the group during lunch on the first day of the extent to what we had with us. Several individuals became reluctant to go forward with such a small group of ninjas escorting them, but I was able to convince them that we had to make do with what we already had at hand. While we appreciated the escort team keeping us safe, two of the ninjas seemed rather on edge and would keep to themselves, even in regard to their own team. This made it seem like even the people who were meant to protect us were not fully looking out for one another. Because of this, we also had the children keeping an eye out the next day as we made our way forth.

The second day is when we encountered an enemy force. We had come to a wide, sunken section of the path where a river ran through and came just up to the knee. With two wagons across, the third was making its way when the escort team suddenly began shouting. Several men dressed in foreign outfits were suddenly surrounding caravan and were rapidly moving in towards us. The escort leader began constructing earth barriers at the front of the caravan and the woman of the group began to fist-fight with a small group off to one side. With how dangerous the combat was becoming; I began running down the caravan and yelling at the drivers for the people to empty out of each wagon and to make their way into the nearby treeline.

A few people received minor burns and cuts while they ran, and I was able to make my way towards the back of the caravan. The last ninja was taking on close to a half dozen when I came close. He used a jutsu to electrify a few and drove off the rest with a large fireball that exploded and evaporated a few meters of the river. When he saw me watching, he yelled that he did not have time to protect every one of us and that we needed to stay together, otherwise someone might die. After that, he ran off towards the side his ninja friend seemed to be on. I found two of the families hidden in the forest on the side of the river we had started from. As I found most were unscathed, a loud, painful yell came up. From the raised area I was in, I could see the ninja from earlier charging towards the opposite tree line and what looked like lightning and fire were coming from his hands.

From the distance I was at, I could only make out that he was rapidly using some kind of jutsu at the enemy and was driving them away. Several jutsu came back at him, but he seemed to either absorb or deflect them before continuing on. When the barrage stopped, the man turned around and walked back to the river where he stopped. He fell to his knees in the river looking over what appeared to be a body. I had helped the people near me to recover and we made our way back over to the wagons. We sent the children to the forward wagons to avoid the sight of bodies and death and I had some of the men in the group move the wagons forward. I found the escort leader softly shaking the man from earlier as the body of Racen, Alvia's son, was laying nearby. She was a widow, and he was the only family she had left at this point. I tried to ascertain what had happened, but the man refused to share any information with either myself or their leader. From the wounds on Racen's body, I could see burns and scorch marks from both lightning and fire. 

Others in our group saw the wounds as well as we loaded the body up onto the wagon and many asked for more information. When no information could be given, several began to make assumptions that the ninja may have caused those wounds due to his enraged state. Many of the families in the group felt unsafe with the ninjas escorting us and requested to have them travel a bit further off, but I rejected the idea as it would only make the group less safe in the case of possible future attacks. Four containers were also found to be missing after the attack and were presumed taken by the enemy ninjas. When only three of the escort squad showed up to leave, I asked what had happened and learned that one of the men, the one the lightning and fire ninja was close to, had fallen during the combat. The man was silent for the remainder of the trip to the town.

Most of those under my care agreed to tolerate the escort team up to arriving at the town but demanded that we refuse them entry due to their inability to protect us. I tried to convince them otherwise, but the group simply backed their claims by showing the injuries they had sustained due to the fight and how inconsolable Alvia was. At first, many of the group had simply been trying to give her support and stay with her to provide a caring presence for her during her grief. Across the third day, several of the group had taken up keeping her out of sight from the escort team and to avoiding them interacting directly around her wagon. It seemed as though they were trying to keep her from reliving the experience with the people who may have been directly involved, but it was quickly turning into the concept that the escort team had caused this issue.

By the time we arrived at the entryway to the town, the group no longer interacted with the escort team. Two of the women went on ahead and delivered a story to the town mayor about the death of Racen with a heavy emphasis on the escort team being held responsible for it. I had just organized the rest of the group to begin preparations to unload the caravan when some of the town guards came and refused entry to the town for the escort team. They stated that the guards could handle the mission from here and to await my report before leaving. I put two of the more responsible individuals in charge of unpacking and went to speak with the mayor. He informed me that Alvia would be put into a protected location and supported going forward and for me to avoid any further contact with the escort team if possible. From how he laid out the situation, it was being taken that the lack of full protection from the escort team led to Racen's death and that it was quite possible that the cause of death was from jutsu used by one of the escort team. 

I tried to reason with him and explain the story, but the mayor was unwilling to listen. He demanded that I write down the following requests in my report, otherwise our town will be unhappy with the outcome of this mission:
1. The individual in question from the escort team be stripped of any rank and punished as negligence of duty. 
2. Proper declarations of protection be made for one Alvia **** to avoid any future retaliation efforts
3. A formal apology be provided by Kirikagure and compensation for the loss of Racen **** be provided to Alvia ****.

I do hope this can be resolved peacefully.'

Dracoso put the note down and sat back as the thoughts ran through his mind. The civilians had seen the attacks, but it seems like none had truly been aware of what had happened other than the general combat going on. The story of what happened to Iatsol seemed to be completely missed in the midst of this as well and left a few gaps in the second story as to certain events. From what he could tell so far, Cerslo had been in a frenzy during the combat, but no one could report when exactly Racen was struck. This story also made Dracoso realize that the escort team was not as put together as the first report made them seem. 

His eyes fell upon the final report. This one looked much shorter and was written in a messy handwriting that seemed to jump from thought to thought, as if in the middle of the very situation it was describing.

'The mission was a very simple one. We were supposed to protect some villagers as we delivered supplies for them back to their town. Iatsol and I had taken this mission because it seemed like easy money. 

We were wrong. 

The villagers all seemed really tense and Jilar, our team leader, kept telling us to be understanding and to try to lower tensions. It didn't really matter though, because no matter what we said or did, those people seemed to just stare at us like wild animals. Iatsol and I were positioned separately to protect different parts of the caravan and pretty much only felt comfortable during mealtimes. The leader and Pora seemed to have a thing going on between them, so me and my bud would enjoy eating on our own. Things were going well until those damn foreign ninjas attacked. I had a half dozen come at me from the start and most seemed to just want to get past me to the wagon I was guarding. I put a couple down with some quick lightning techniques, but more just kept popping up. 

I was already upset from being split off from Iatsol combined with the rudeness of the people we were protecting. At this point, the ninjas just kept irritating me to no end. By the time I finished off the last of them, that old guy in charge of the villagers ran past me towards the forest nearby. It is stupid to split up during combat and put yourself in more danger, so I yelled at him to not get himself killed and to stay close as I could protect everyone. Since my side of the fight seemed handled, I looked over towards Iatsol and saw no sign of him. I figured he might have been in trouble, as his skill was more for handling smaller numbers, and so I ran up the wagon line to see if I could find him.

I did find him, just not alive.

Some of the villagers had run off into the forest at the head of the caravan and were probably being taken away by the enemy ninjas when Iatsol had hunted them down. He had dealt with as many as I had, but by the time I got to him, he had gotten himself killed. Getting yourself killed on an escort mission, how stupid does that sound? He was laying there, covered in puncture wounds and burn marks with a smile on his face. He looked like he had really done something good at that point and was content to just die with it. A little girl a few feet away said thank you to him before turning and running away. This whole mission was his idea to join, and he was the one who got himself killed. Goddamn idiot.

I got really pissed at that point and just felt like I needed to break something. I thought I knew where all the villagers were, so I started to chase after a group of the enemies I had found. The blood was pumping in my ears, and it felt like everything was tinted red as I charged at them. I think I was yelling something at them as I started to rip the ground apart with lightning and fire techniques. Most of them came away far worse than I did for it and ended up running. One jerk who looked like he was in charge tried to get in my way and started returning a lot of my attacks. He ended up barreling into a thicker area of the forest near the riverside and I had to run parallel to him just to keep up. I kept throwing one technique after another through the woods, half the time losing sight of him before his attacks seemed to return suddenly.

It was like a mix of fire, earth, and wind were flying all around me as I replied with my own fire and lightning. I lost track of what was happening as we ran through the woods, feeling like we were only catching split second images of one another. in the midst of all this, I felt like my adrenaline ran out and I stuttered to a stop as I threw one more lightning bolt blindly. I think it took the guy off guard, because I heard a shout and suddenly all of the enemy ninjas were running away. I got up, sore as hell, and made my way back towards the caravan. I tripped over something as I made my way and came face to face with that kid. Racen, I think his name was. I picked him up and was carrying him back when I noticed that his wounds seemed very familiar. The kid was covered in burns and scars from jutsu very similar to my own. For a second. I tried to remember if the kid had been in the middle of our fight, and I just could not recall. All I remembered was chasing the guy and throwing all I had at him.

I was overcome by emotions at that moment. The grief from losing Iatsol, feeling helpless to have stopped it, feeling truly alone at that moment. I dropped the kid's body on the edge of the river and kind of just zoned out in my own mind in the emotions. I could not feel anything until Jilar was shaking me awake. He wanted to know what happened, but I had nothing I could say. The rest of the trip was quiet, and the villagers thought I had killed the kid. The problem is, I don't know if I did or not. All I know is that he was dead when I found him, and he was near our fight.'

Dracoso groaned softly, putting a hand to his forehead. Even the guy being accused is not sure of what happened in his note and seemed to think it was possible that he had done it. Dracoso paused as he let the information flow this his mind. The tension around the villagers, the events leading up to Cerslo finding Iatsol, it is all accounted for so carefully. Yet it is in that moment of what was happening with Racen and Cerslo that everything seems to become shrouded. If he could wind back time and watch the event, maybe he could figure out what had happened. For now, he had to figure out what his next steps would be.

Dracoso rose from his bed and resealed the documents before storing them in his sealing bands. Sutsui shifted from her sleep as he left the house and made his way towards the ANBU post. The two main figures in this situation were Cerslo and Alvia and they were the ones who would control the flow of the situation to its outcome. All Dracoso had to do was determine where that flow was going and how he could help to divert the worst of it. Many of the people Dracoso knew waved to him with smiles, yet many he had yet to meet looked at him questioningly. Almost as if asking if he was there to protect them or if they should be protected from him. He shook off their looks and focused on his travel as he arrived.

The guard on duty took the documents from him and led him into one of the transfer areas. The guard closed the door they came through and left through a second door before returning with a man at the age of 18 with scars and what appeared to be tired, swollen eyes. Dracoso took a seat on one side of the table while the young man stood and quietly kicked his foot to distract himself. With a small gesture from Dracoso, the guard left the room and locked the door behind him. The man glanced at the door, then back at Dracoso, before letting out a breath and relaxing.

"So, you came to ask me the story too? Of how I probably killed that kid?" the young man asked, avoiding eye contact. "I came to ask you about the man you were fighting at that time, Cerslo" Dracoso started. Cerslo glanced at him, a little confused, then shrugged and stepped over to be standing across the table from Dracoso. "What do you want to know about him?" Dracoso leaned back as he said, "it sounds like you were fighting him through a pretty thick cover of trees and underbrush. Did you get a good look at him?" The man nodded and said, "yeah, he was some older man with some pretty good abilities. He kept avoiding my fire and lightning pretty well too." Dracoso nodded and asked, "did you see any of your abilities injure him or cause any damage?" Cerslo thought for a moment and nodded, "yeah, I think so. I got him with one or two quick shots of lightning, but he seemed really good at getting away from my fire techniques." Dracoso nodded.

The two talked for a bit longer, discussing possibilities of where or how Racen may have been positioned during the fight, but most of it was a blur to Cerslo. The most he could determine was that Racen may have come across the fight and been hit by a rogue attack, but it did not make sense that he would have been struck by both fire and lightning and survived. As their chat began to wind down and move into speculation, Cerslo became silent for a moment before he asked, "how do you deal with losing someone who depended on you?" Dracoso stopped and felt the sudden tension in the air. He could see Cerslo waiting for an answer. 

Dracoso released a breath and spoke softly, trying to be gentle with his words, "it depends on what they meant to you. From your report, it seemed like Iatsol was a caring person who wanted to do well by others. Even in the tougher ways you described him, it felt more like he was a brother to you." Cerslo's hands had closed into fists, his body tensing. Dracoso had experienced this once before in himself and he said firmly to Cerslo, "and you cannot hold yourself responsible for what happened to him."

Cerslo slammed his fists down on the table and pointed at Dracoso, "You have no right to say that! I was there! I could have saved him if we were separated!" Dracoso looked firmly at him, feeling the echo of his own pain of losing someone because of his own lack of ability to do anything. "You may be right that I have no right to say it. But just as you want to say you are responsible for how he died, you have no right to say that you are responsible for how he lived." Cerslo was caught off guard, a touch of confusion and raw emotion showing in his eyes. Dracoso continued in that moment, "he chose to put himself there because he wanted to live the way he chose best. Even if you had been right beside him, you know he would have thrown himself into that danger for the sake of others just as quickly." Cerslo was fighting with Dracoso's words and his own emotions and said, "well he didn't need to go and die for them! He could have stayed safe and just protected the smart ones who stayed close! Those who ran off were just idiots!"

Dracoso could see the helplessness in Cerslo's eyes, wanting an answer for why he had to lose someone he had been so close to. Tears had started to form in the edges of Cerslo's eyes, but he was fighting them with all he had it seemed. Dracoso looked to him, a pained compassion as he said, "but then he wouldn't have been the Iatsol you knew, would he?" Cerslo seemed to pause, as if frozen by the words. A tear formed on the edge of his own eye as he gave Cerslo a strained smile. "After all, we can't decide what others are going to do. Whether they are going to be idiots, or heroes. Now, can we?" Cerslo slowly came back to life, tears beginning to flood down his face. He wiped away the tears with his sleeve, only for more to replace them. He began to bawl softly and fell to his knees as Dracoso walked over and held the younger man as he cried. The spoke of the past and many of the events Cerslo had experienced alongside Iatsol to help remember him and ease the pain.

Once the tears had stopped and Cerslo was ready to head back, Dracoso left with a smile on his face, thinking on the details Cerslo had shared. he made his way out the village gates at a steady sprint with only one more thing to check before he went to speak with Alvia.

The original trip for the caravan had taken three days due to the large number of people and items they were carrying. On foot, the escort squad had returned in one day's time to report, and the situation had deteriorated over the next night when Dracoso had accepted the mission. It had now been a total of three days since the incident and less than half a day of travel returned Dracoso to the site of the combat. Much of it was laid out as described, a low laying area between two raised banks. Forestry on either side with a river running through the middle of it with rather thick mud. Remains of earth walls and burn marks along the shoreline indicated smaller scuffles. It was on the far side of the river that Dracoso found the majority of burn and scorch marks from fire and lightning attacks.

He slowly investigated the area, tracking the motion of combat and found where the path of battle led to where several trees were scarred on both sides. While the fire and lightning markings were quite obvious, several branches had been cut clean through with disturbed pathways of dirt and mud scattered between. It almost seemed as if the sun and sky had attacked from one side while the wind and earth returned in kind. So many elements were present here that it almost seemed more like a roadmap of pathways than the path of combat. Several attack patterns seemed to abruptly stop at the start of the returning patterns, as if they had successfully impacted their target. From the number, it was surprising that the individual was still going by the end of the fight. Dracoso came back along the pathway and tried to ascertain the most likely point that Racen had been struck. Only a few clues gave him insight as to the spot and even from there, it seemed to be crisscrossed in marks from both sides.

Dracoso sat down, irritated by all of the facts and information spinning around him. He fell back onto the ground with his eyes closed and let out of a frustrated sigh. A few minutes passed as he continued to move the pieces around in his mind like a jigsaw puzzle before opening his eyes and just staring up at the sky. A swirling mass of clouds had begun to form, signaling an oncoming downpour. Small bursts of lightning flashed in the distance within the curling masses before a thought came to him. A slow growing curiosity mixed with adrenaline began to build as he sat up and tracked the pathways of the techniques. Little by little, he found his way to his answer and realized that he only had so much time to act. He sprinted back to the pathway and made his way at full pace towards the town as the clouds moved in.

By the time he arrived at the town, it was already pouring heavily. It was difficult to see very far, but Dracoso had Sutsui camouflage them in her chakra as a precaution before he made his way onto the wall of the town and then onto the buildings. With footsteps silenced by the wind, he quickly moved from house to house and had Sutsui scan with her mind's eyes for individuals within. Many only had a few individuals and most were going about normal business, such as cooking or managing basic tasks. With Sutsui's overly focused awareness of beings around her, she could repeat back imagery of the motions or general positions they took during tasks and communicated them to Dracoso so he could translate them to learn what they were doing.

For some, Dracoso leaned over and glanced through windows to see what the person was doing, and he ended up finding several scenes, one or two very private ones in nature, occurring. Using this method of inspection, he made his way around the town until he found a small building with levels reaching underground a block down from what appeared to be the town hall. Two guards were posted, one inside the entrance and one patrolling the floor between the surface and the lowest floor. Dracoso realized that he would need to silently get to the mother and avoid any contact awareness until it was over. With that in mind, Dracoso created a shadow clone andit transformed into a squirrel which ran up and rapidly knocked on the door with a nut. The guard threw the door open and looked down at the squirrel before making aggressive shooing motions at it. 

Dracoso took this opportunity to silently climb down over the roof of the building and over the top of the doorframe to step in within touching the guard. As he moved into the building, he realized that the invisibility helped him from being seen, but that he was still soaked and dripping water wherever he went. He quickly summoned up his water mizu senbon, using the water soaking him to form them, and launched them out the top of the slowly closing door the guard was handling. The jutsu had removed all of the water from his body and they fell harmlessly fifteen meters out from the door without alerting the guard. The guard returned to his post and began reading from a small magazine he had hidden up his sleeve that described how to raise a good family.

With a small shake of the head, Dracoso made his way in and used one set of stairs to reach the middle floor before easily moving over the top of the guard to reach the second staircase on the opposite side of the floor. At the bottom of the stairs sat a single door leading into a room where Sutsui could sense a woman kneeling. Dracoso opened the door silently and closed it behind him as he took in the scene in front of him. The room was decorated with many amenities for comfort and relaxation. A kitchen with plenty of fresh food and a stove for easy cooking was set across from a sitting area and a television to watch. In the back, a rather comfortable looking bed sat with several plush pillows and cushions. The lighting was soft, but bright enough to see clearly in every corner.

And in the center sat an older woman with red, puffy eyes which were staring directly at where Dracoso stood. She spoke in a worn, raspy voice as she said, "so, finally come to silence me, have you?" Dracoso raised an eyebrow, then realized that he was still camouflaged from sight. he sent a quick sensation to Sutsui and she dropped her technique to allow him to appear before her. She looked at him in a bit of confusion before saying to herself, "blue hair and a pale complexion... are you that Genin who has been running around helping everyone?" Dracoso gave a soft smile, feeling like people knowing who he was might end up being a bit of a blessing and a curse. "That sounds like me. To clear one thing up, I am not here to kill you, or do anything to you for that matter." The woman looked at him confused as she leaned forward for a better look at him.

"You sneak in here in the middle of the night, during a civil feud, under the noses of the entire town with guard included... and you aren't here for anything?" she asked, trying to find the reason. Dracoso gave a soft chuckle as he walked over and took a seat in front of her. Sutsui enjoyed the dimmed lighting and cool even air in the subterranean room. She slowly shifted off to sleep as Dracoso began to speak with her. "I am here to talk with you and to share a bit more information on what happened during the battle and to try to give you a bit more peace on the event." The woman's eyes narrowed as she looked at him and replied, "If you are here to try to get me to forgive that ninja for what he did to my son-!" Dracoso put up his hands quickly and said, "woah, woah, woah. I am not here to ask you to forgive him. I am here to tell you what really happened."

The woman had a quizzical look on her face as she processed these words. "You were not at the battle." Dracoso nodded as she continued, "no one was around my son other than that ninja when it happened." Dracoso shook his head and said, "there were a few aspects to the story that no one considered to look into. Not until I took up the mission." Alvia sat back in her seat and crossed her arms, showing a bit of resistance, but reluctantly held out a hand, gesturing him to explain. Dracoso settled into his seat as he began his story.

"You were there for the majority of the story and saw the civilian's side of it. There was tension because the ninjas did not seem to be taking it seriously. This led to the combat where your son died, and the only person reportedly nearby was the ninja, Cerslo. The parts about the story which was not known is what led up to the battle and the person Cerslo was fighting. Cerslo's only remaining family was the other ninja who had died at that combat, Iatsol. They were half-brothers who had both sides of their family killed a few years back in an attack on their homes for organ harvesting." Dracoso remembered clearly the stories Cerslo had shared with him. The woman's resistance seemed to soften as her crossed arms relaxed.

"Iatsol had requested to come on the mission because he wanted to make sure the civilians returned home safely. He was able to convince the other two ninja to join him and his half-brother Cerslo on the mission as few were willing to protect such a large caravan without a number of guards beside them. Without their say so, your mission would have probably been delayed another week or so at the minimum due to the number of recent issues arising with the shift in kages. Putting that aside, the two stayed separate from the rest of the group because Cerslo still had issues trusting people and Iatsol was trying to help him reconnect. That is why they did not eat with the rest of their squadmates, other than the possibility that the leader and the female ninja had an interest in one another." Dracoso would pause to let the woman process and she would nod, shifting in her seat slightly to show a touch of impatience.

Dracoso continued, "all of this leads up to the battle. Iatsol and Cerslo were split from one another to protect the caravan when the attack began. Cerslo handled the ninjas in the back and prevented any loss of life and protected the civilians along with the person who put in the request. Iatsol protected the right side of the caravan and, after dealing with his attackers, saw several civilians being captured and dragged away by some of the attacking ninjas. He rushed off to combat them and was successful, but due to being restrained with the civilians nearby, he ended up being heavily wounded and... died of his injuries." He paused again as the woman took in the words and she seemed to be remembering the event in her mind as Dracoso continued. "Cerslo left his position to check on Iatsol and found him dead. He ended up going into a rage and releasing a rather loud roar before charging off to attack the enemies."

The woman looked down sadly and said softly, "and Racen ended up in the middle of it all. Taken out by the attacks of a man grieving the loss of his only half-brother." Dracoso let out a slow deep sigh and said, "not exactly." The woman looked up slowly with questioning eyes. "I spoke with Cerslo and he described fighting what seemed to be the leader of the attacking ninjas. Cerslo kept a constant eye on him, driven by adrenaline, and he was consistently sending out very powerful lightning and fire techniques. Some of which your group saw." The woman confirmed this while still wondering where this was going. "The heavy underbrush and tree cover made it hard to keep track of his target, but the issue is that he never actually saw any of his techniques land against the man. The strange part about this is that the man's path was very consistent, yet many of the larger explosive attacks always missed."

Alvia was trying to keep up and decided to simply ask, "what does this all have to do with Racen? You sound like you were there watching this fight." Dracoso shook his head and said, "while I was not there at the time, the marks and destruction left tell the story all too well. The man Cerslo was fighting knew wind, fire, and earth techniques and seemed to be almost untouchable to fire techniques. A majority of the burn marks that led to where the man was running seemed to almost stop immediately. That is when I checked the upper branches of the trees and found that there were burn marks high above the man." The woman looked very confused as she asked, "ok, so what does that explain?" Dracoso smiled as she was far more receptive than to start and said, "he was deflecting Cerslo's attacks to keep him busy."

The gears in Alvia's head started to turn as she took this in and Dracoso helped to lead her to the conclusion. "As I followed this idea, I saw that as they reached the end point of their combat, one pathway leading towards the enemy leader suddenly turned back towards where Cerslo had been. Cerslo had continued his attacks, and his lightning attack had struck the returned fireball, causing it to veer off course back towards the river. Cerslo never saw the oncoming fireball or the return as he had blind-fired it in the hopes to drive off the leader." Alvia's face began to pale slightly as she realized what he was saying. She spoke softly as she asked, "so, the fireball flew off and just randomly struck Racen?" 

Dracoso faltered slightly as he continued, "actually, I spoke with Cerslo about that as well. Your son... was with the front wagons at the time of the assault, wasn't he?" Alvia nodded and then stopped as Dracoso continued. "It is very likely that your son was one of the three who had been kidnapped that Iatsol had died saving. From what Cerslo said after that, there was a chance that Racen was still in the nearby area and... he may have wanted to help after being inspired by Iatsol's sacrifice." Dracoso knew this was more speculation, but from the slowly growing sadness in Alvia's face, he realized that this may have connected to something she knew. "He always was a very determined child. He saw the guards of our town and how strong they were when they faced the dangers around our town. I always told him to go slow and to try to stay safe until he knew more, but..." She paused as fresh tears began to appear in the corners of her eyes.

It felt like Dracoso either helped to encourage people or ended up leading them to tears, and this time was no exception. He spoke to her softly as he said, "even Cerslo was unsure whether it was his abilities that had harmed Racen because of how subtle his enemy was with his abilities. Wind techniques allow you to very quietly create influences on what is occurring around you while earth techniques can redirect abilities in the way you so desire. With enough practice, you can return an opponent's power back at them with increased strength. I imagine the fireball picked up his thrown lightning bolt as well and the two were delivered straight to where Racen was rushing in to help." He let himself slowly slump down.

"I know it isn't much better to know that he may have died in the way he chose, rather than by someone's negligence. I do hope it at least gives you some peace of mind knowing that the people who were there to defend you really did intend to do just that. I think the dangers that the supplies were meant to answer to ended up raising the worries and concerns of the people involved and it led to the loss of two very determined individuals. I know it is not much, but I have done all I can to try to bring you what I could to understand what happened to your son and say that I am truly sorry for your loss." Dracoso then leaned forward, placing his hands and forehead to the ground in front of her and went still.

The silence in the room was thick as his words finished. Alvia looked over him and slowly deflated from all the emotions and stress and strain she had been experiencing. She turned away, speaking to him over her shoulder, "I need time to process all of this information. It is... a lot to take in so suddenly. If what you say is true, then... Cerslo was not the one to kill my child. Perhaps... Racen really did try to help and ended up as a casualty by accident." The woman sagged in her seat as she raised a hand. Dracoso rose from his spot to his feet as she spoke, "either way, I see no reason to continue this tension between my people and the ninjas. Please, bring me some paper and a quill." Dracoso retrieved them and, after a short period of writing, handed him a sealed letter. "Deliver this to the people holding Cerslo and his squad. I will speak with the mayor here and relay your story. We will send investigators to the combat field, and you can have the ANBU do an investigation as well. If what you say is true, then we have no reason to continue our struggle. Our enemies would have done plenty of harm already." She began to shiver softly, the telltale sign of emotions about to be released. "Thank you" was all Dracoso said softly as Sutsui recloaked the pair again and they left the building in silence.

The trip back was a solemn one, where even though everything would be resolved, there was no happiness to it. A half-brother and a son were both killed in combat. Whether by intention or accident, the loss of life could not easily be undone or replaced. Perhaps Dracoso could find a way to bypass this, but he would need to research more into the medical field. With that thought in mind, Dracoso raced back towards the village, aiming to settle this issue before any further damage could occur.

The sun was rising by the time he raced past Chap on the gate. Dracoso gave a short wave as he made for the rooftops and crossed to the ANBU post in a matter of minutes. The guard at the front demanding an explanation for the hurry and Dracoso reported that he had a serious message to pass along to the captain in regard to the situation with the civilian uprising. The guard looked at him for a moment before opening the door and gesturing him in. The guard yelled in for Dracoso to be taken to the captain and one of the younger guards escorted him to the captain's quarters.

Dracoso delivered the letter and watched as the captain broke the seal and read the details listed inside. He glanced at Dracoso for a moment before writing a letter of his own and handed it to Dracoso with express orders to have the guards watching over Cerslo's squad to read the letter and follow his commands. Dracoso nodded and rushed back down, delivering the note and watching as the post came to life. In a matter of minutes, a confused looking Cerslo and two others, Pora and Jilar from what Dracoso could tell, were rushed to the front. Cerslo looked to Dracoso for answers and Dracoso gave him a quick abridged version as the captain arrived to ask for an explanation.

After Dracoso gave him a rundown, the captain sent two specialists in sensory out to check the battlefield and confirm what he had found. He then had Jilar and Pora released as they could offer no further information but were expected to remain within the village until they were officially allowed to leave. Cerslo was pulled aside by the captain and told that they would give him time to grieve and assist with his situation to make sure things were handled peacefully. Once Cerslo was sent off to speak with a few individuals specializing in grief and planning, the captain turned his attention to Dracoso.

"A good bit of work you did out there in the field. Hell, I don't think anyone would have looked much closer at the battlefield at this point, as most people had pretty much written it off as a combat loss. I am glad though you found the clues you did. Keep up the good work." As he finished, the captain turned and headed back to his quarters. Dracoso felt like he had been complimented and dismissed in the same action. He figured that was the best he would get and headed out to pick up his reward.

Some people still gave him a questioning look, but most had seen the several ninjas leaving the ANBU post earlier and figured something was going on. The village was building up in activity as Dracoso headed home. He had been on his feet again for almost a full 24 hours and knew that he needed to rest. He would return home and share in some late breakfast with his mother before falling fast asleep in his bed with Sutsui waking up minutes later. She would quietly explore his room while he slept and claim several of the candies he had hidden in his drawers.

The news would arrive while Dracoso slept that the mother, Alvia, had dropped all intention to pursue the ninjas for the result of the escort mission. The specialists on both sides cooperated with the search and found that heavily degraded tracks from Racen led from nearby where Iatsol fell to where he had died. Implying that Racen had willingly headed towards the battle. A few other unknown points came to light, including that the enemy leader had also used several forms of genjutsu on the captured civilians and possibly on Cerslo in the combat to be unaware of the diverted attacks. With this evidence, the town dropped all requests for punishment to be placed against Cerslo and thanked the village for their efforts. Tensions receded rapidly as the news spread and plans for the burial of Iatsol, who would now be regarded as a protecting hero of the people, were back underway. 

By the time Dracoso would have awoken, many people would be aware of his efforts to help avert any further damage to the village and its people. Only time would tell whether this would be good for the young ninja, or if it simply meant more people asking him for help with random issues. For now, we will let him sleep and recover for his next mission.

Mission: Civil Unrest
Reward: 6000 Ryo + 30 AP (all given to Sutsui, Total: 490)

WC: 9804 (rounded to 9800)
Stats Maxed, Ap Maxed - 25% Learning Discount

A Rank - Water Heavens Convergence - 1875/1875 (2500 original) (adding 550 to the 1325/1875 from Measurng through Effort)
C Rank - Kazanami: Wind Waves - 750 (originally 1000)
C Rank - Water Release: Wild Water Wave - 750/750 (originally 1000) (adding 160 to the 590/750 from Those That Work in Shadows) (total so far: 1460)
C Rank - Tempest Release: Microburst - 750 (originally 1000)
C Rank - Spirit Gun - 937.5 (originally 1250)
C Rank - Wind Release: Jump - 750 (originally 1000)
C Rank - Wind Release: Wind Bullets - 750 (originally 1000)
C Rank - Ice Release: Hollow Ice Bullets - 750 (originally 1000) (total so far: 5397.5)
C Rank - Protective Elemental Barrier Seal - 750 (originally 1000)
C Rank - Dark River Breaking Seal - 750 (originally 1000)
C Rank - False Surroundings - 750 (originally 1000)
D Rank - Thunderclap Arrow - 375 (originally 500)
C Rank - Lightning Release: Raijin's Flying Fans - 937.5 (originally 1250) (total so far: 9335)
A Rank - Chakra Enhanced Strength - 465/1875 (originally 2500)
Stat Page : Fu's Fat Stats
Familiar : Archie the Bear
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Village : Hoshigakure
Ryo : 176650

Statements of the Soul Empty Re: Statements of the Soul

Mon Sep 26, 2022 12:41 am
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