Kenshin and the blue-robed waterbender lowered their weapons as the gong rang out. The samurai clenched his fists and sent a hard glare at the waterbender, his breaths pumping loudly though his nose. It was all he could do to keep him from charging at him out of sheer frustration. Interruption of the Emperor's Tourney was unheard of. Hundreds of years of tradition were shattered with the sound of that gong! What sort of cruel punishments will the Spirits exact on us now? Who is responsible for this!
But Kenshin closed his eyes, remembering his honor. He would not let his frustration overtake him. Soon after, a voice boomed from just outside of one of the dugouts. "You three! Over here!" He looked over to see the visage of the Faceless Warrior, the one they know as Death's Hand, the personal guard of the Emperor himself. Bewildered, he walked over to him, scooping his helm off the ground as he went.
He greeted the Emperor's right hand with a bow. "Forgive me, Lord Shi No Te, but I am not a man to honor formalities. I must know the meaning of this disturbance. It goes against centuries of tradition, and surely the Spirits are not content."
Kadon was walking away dismayed. He was pretty disappointed that the fight was ended so quickly, limping away with his cast. He paid close attention and was quite shocked when he noticed that the large man was pointing at him. What was his name again, Death's Hand?
He began limping over to him. As he got closer, he heard the burly shadowbender complaining.
((best post, I just don't really know what to say :| ))
Death's Hand stared at Kenshin from beneath his helmet. "The Spirits are the very reason you stand before me at this moment. Rest assured this is where we want you."
He looked at each of them in turn. "I do not know how much time I have; we must be quick and to the point. The emperor has had a stroke and is now dead. Someone must be aware of what is going on within the court, and I can see you each have the proper aura. It is you four who must complete this task."
"Aura? Task?" Yumi asked. "What are you talking about?"
He raised his hand in a demand for silence. "Do not worry yourselves with the trivial details. Listen, you must leave Hashama as soon as you can and make your way to The Elder City. With the emperor dead there will be a massive power vacuum in Tokugawa, one of which I am certain the Water Nation will attempt to fill. Their army is powerful and they have been silently anticipating that this day would come. If we are to avoid massive bloodshed and the death of soldiers and civilians from all five Nations, you will need to act quickly. Go, go to The Elder City! Travel northwest through The Old Forest, and you shall come upon it. Everything will make sense once you arrive."
Shingen heard the words of Death's Hand. He wasn't pleased by the thought of spirits choosing who was important or not, but he was amazed that he of all people was chosen. A barely-trained airbender, who really only knew how to fight with a lance or sword! He would do his best to make sure the choice was not a vain one.
He quietly said to himself, "The Elder City? I've heard tales about such a place, but surely a city with such mystical powers is a myth?"
He then addressed the group of four that had gathered, after making sure the warrior in black was done speaking.
"I have urgent business I absolutely must attend to, but I will meet you all at the northern gate. I'm sure you all have something to take care of briefly before you go as well, so shall we establish a time to meet? I'd prefer to go tonight, before the mass exodus of people begins."
"I would lose my honor if I abandoned my military station. Forgive me, but I cannot go without the consent of my lord. If I am not at the gate when everyone is ready to leave, go without me," Shingen said, and bowing to Death's Hand once more, began running as fast as he could back to the inn.
Imagawa would most likely allow him to pursue a mission given by the emperor's will. Still, he made all haste. If he lost too much time, he would not be able to catch up with the group.
Akira was looking around, irritated, and barely listened to what the people around him were saying. He wasn't interested in this at all - he just wanted to go to sleep or fight. Or both. The crowd in the stands had begun to disperse, and a boy - he assumed from one of the fights, given his injuries - limped over to the group. Akira snorted at Death's Hand hand at looked at the suit of armor with fire in his eyes.
"What's in it for us?" It was the first thing he'd said for a while now, but he knew it had to be said. He wouldn't do this unless he'd be in for fighting or money. Or both. Expecting anything less of him would be ridiculous.
OoC: ♥♥♥♥ty post i know but im tired
deal with it
~If you were my son I'd give you a swift kick in the ass~
"Undertaking this task will allow you to feed the fire the fire in your heart, the fire that craves the call of battle. There are those that will try their hardest to halt you. But I am confident you will prevail, and upon the completion of this quest you will be all hailed as heroes. Your names and legacy shall be remembered as extravagantly as the ones who founded each of the nations."
"That's pretty big!" Yumi chimed in.
"Yes," Death's Hand nodded, "You will live with a prestigious status until you one day pass on, and will then be remembered as legends. Surely that is tempting enough, Akira?"
Kadon was standing nearby listening to talk of them being legends. He wasn't one for fame, but "legendary status" had a nice ring to it. He thought of the legendary battles he would fight, the legendary rivals he would meet(and defeat), the legendary adventures he would go on.
However, something troubled him.
"Excuse me, but as of right now, I'm still in dire need of a teacher, or some sort of guidance with my Earthbending. I'm afraid that as of right now, especially considering my injuries, I'm in no fit state to make this journey. Of course, this will be healed in a few weeks, and it's not incredibly immobilising, but I still need a teacher."
"Fine, I'm in." Akira held back the hint of a smile as the kid he'd noticed earlier decided to speak up. It didn't sound important to him, so he chose to ignore it. Instead, he fixed his mind on what was to come.
~If you were my son I'd give you a swift kick in the ass~
"You will learn as you go, young Earth Bender." Death's Hand glanced behind him for a moment before returning his gaze to the group. "There are other things I must do before I am bound once more. Be off, all of you! To The Elder City!" He put his back to the group and walked off.
Yumi shyly tugged at her hair and skipped a few steps towards Kenshin, who was steadily walking away. "Lets go you two!" she called out.
Kadon was confused. Were they expected to just leave, like that? It was so sudden. Kadon was luckily without any livelihood and travelling was of little issue to him, but others must have families or friends, and goodbyes to make. Surely it could not be so simple. Was this... "Death's Hand" such a powerful man that they would follow his orders without question.
Either way, Kadon decided it would not do to question his new allies' motives. If he wanted answers, he could get them later. Right now he needed to focus on the task at hand.
"What exactly are we even looking for? Do we even know where it is?"
"Whatever it is, we must get there as soon as humanly possible," said Kenshin solemnly. "Shi No Te is not only the Emperor's right hand, he is also his voice, and as citizens of the Five Nations we are sworn to honor his orders." A silence followed, his companions too lost in pondering to come up with words. "I confess that this order from the Emperor is... strange. Ominous, even. For as long as I have lived I knew I was destined for greatness, but I had never thought of anything like this." They continued walking in silence, with the raucous sounds of the bustling city drowned out to a quiet, low buzz. As he watched the workers and traders and commoners of Hashama go through the motions of their daily lives, he felt light, as if he now transcended them in a way, serving something greater than the orders of men.
Soon, they were at the northern bridge of Hashama. Kenshin stopped, and turned toward the others. "Before we continue, we must wait for the other. The Samurai who had to attend to business. I can't imagine we can complete our duty without everyone Death's Hand had chosen. In the interim, we can acquaint ourselves with each other." Kenshin cleared his throat and made an attempt to stand straighter. "I am Nakamura Kenshin, Lord and protector of Ikko Ikki and Grand Samurai in the name of Emperor Fang." He took a deep bow, and rose to meet his companions.
"I'm sure we'll find the city somehow!" Yumi was enthusiastic. "After all, didn't Death's Hand mention that the spirits were the ones who wanted us to go off? Maybe they will guide us once we enter the forest."
Yumi waited and shifted her weight from one foot to the other while they waited for the other.
Shingen ran still through the city, unable this time to focus any gusts of wind, because he was ecstatic at the news he had just received.
Imagawa had given him leave to follow Death's Hand's wishes!
The spears strapped to his back clapped against his canteen and tiny pouch of supplies. He looked like a poor peddler with no cart, and armor. Imagawa had seen to it that he was completely prepared, at the least. He was ever grateful to the man he owed so much.
Rounding what he hoped was the corner he remembered entering the city from, he was greeted by the small group the Emperor's massive assassin had gathered earlier at the arena. They all stood upon a bridge over the river in the distance. He was getting very tired, though, from all the running. He forced himself to focus in spite of this, and mustered a strong wind to push him along. This made the running much easier and faster, and soon he reached the party, slowing down only once he realized he was going too fast. He zipped past them all, finally managing to regain his balance and stop about fifty feet past the bridge.
"I... I am...*gasp*... sorry... For... forgive my... *gasp*... t-tardi- *gasp*-ness..." the samurai panted out, bending over and holding himself up by his knees. He puked from the exertion he had forced himself to undergo. Luckily, the others were far enough away that it wasn't completely embarrassing.
Standing up, but still breathing very heavily, he approached the group on the bridge.
"Forgive me for my late arrival. I am deeply thankful to you all for your patience in allowing me to get permission to accompany you."
"Think nothing of it!" Yumi responded. "I believe we'll need all the help we can get if the situation is half as severe as Shi No Te made it out to be." The sun was slowly setting as dusk swept across the land. "If we push ourselves and walk hard, I think we could reach the next village just before midnight and rest ourselves before continuing," she eyed Shingen, "that is, if you all have the endurance to keep pace with me!"
A woman singled him out as she spoke. She was obviously not samurai, nobility, or anything resembling a higher rank than himself, so Shingen felt confidant in replying the way he did.
"Do not underestimate me. You could not have kept pace with me just now, sprinting as a I did in armor through the city. I have caught my breath, and I could do the same run several times more before I tired."
It was a slight exaggeration, but she'd mildly insulted his abilities, and so he mildly boasted of his ability to keep up the pace. She wouldn't be going too quickly anyways, not with some of these others wearing heavy armor or limping on casts. And by the looks of it, they weren't even airbenders.
Kadon's insecurities were trying to get the better of him, but he wasn't about to choke now when he'd been handed this great opportunity on a silver platter.
"Would you mind not boasting, we should really start now. If you'd rather stand around gawping at each other, fair enough, but I'm going to being the trip. Feel free to join me whenever."
He figured that insult would sting, but they needed to begin soon and they needed motivation, even if it was of a less positive attitude. Kadon began walking away from the group, in the general direction of the north city gate. From there he would travel further north to the crossroads, however he was unsure of the direction to follow after. He was hoping he wouldn't be the one to make the decision.