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Secrets In The Steam [P]

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Age : 29
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PostSubject: Secrets In The Steam [P] Tue 04 Sep 2012, 2:03 am

The borders around Konoha met with no fewer than seven countries and as such, the great nation had invariably played host to all manner of visitors. Most were travellers, often tradesmen or women looking to bring their product to Konohagakure and beyond. Sometimes they were shinobi, returning from a mission or leaving to embark upon one. Of course, there were rare occasions when a smaller country sought to exploit their geographical proximity and by force or subterfuge, would launch an ultimately unsuccessful offensive on their neighbour. Then there was the rarest of visitor - the wanted man. Or woman, in this case.

Pulling her wrappings close across her face, Uriko wound her way through the thinning copse and out into the open grasslands. Already she had put some distance between herself and Konoha's western border; but as her journey took her deeper into the country, a greater challenge arose. The kunoichi was quite aware of the rising risk of detection and while the prospect of having to elude would-be assailants provoked little reaction, she did not want her movements reported or worse, followed. If Konohagakure got wind of the fact that Uriko was nearby and heading north, they would most certainly be hoping to keep tabs on her from then on - jeopardising the entire purpose of the woman's travels.

The vast, open space stretching out before her was a wholly unwelcome sight. Amongst the trees or across rocky outcrops the kunoichi could lose a tail in minutes. The plains she was cutting across right now offered no such protection and Uriko felt uncomfortably exposed. This was, of course, the fastest and most direct route through Konoha and into Yu no Kuni. In the gap between the woven garb covering most of her features, the woman's sharp eyes flitted from side to side. Coming to the conclusion that she was entirely alone, her pace immediately quickened. Long, slender blades of grass whipped at her legs as she shot past and only the sound of her scarf fluttering madly in the wind gave any indication that the area was not completely vacant.

Some twenty minutes passed and still there had been no sign of the border. Squinting against the morning sun (for Uriko had been travelling through the night without rest), the kunoichi smiled as she caught sight of a shadowy structure on the horizon. Spurred on, she whistled through the grasslands at extraodrinary speed until - Shit! She exclaimed silently, immediately dropping the the ground and flattening the grass under her lithe form. It wasn't until she had come so close to her goal that Uriko had noticed the guards at their post. While Yu no Kuni had no formal military, the border patrol were either local conscripts or Leaf shinobi. Normally the female nukenin would quietly dispatch of her quarry and continue onward. But today she couldn't afford to be seen at all, just in case a last-gasp message was sent to those in Konohagakure.

A small cloud of dust and dry earth had been kicked up when the woman had skidded and fallen flat. She could only assume that the landscape would usually be more verdant and that recent hot weather was to blame for it's current arid and colourless nature. Regardless, one of the troublesome guards seemed to have noticed the disturbance and had risen from his seat to investigate. Peering through the needle-like blades of grass, Uriko could just about make out his approaching figure. "...alone. Pro...y.. rabbit! A faint voice called out, presumably trying to deterr their colleague from bothering to check. The fact that the man had even noticed such a slight movement suggested that these were trained individuals, most likely from the Leaf village. The kunoichi knew she would have to tread rather carefully if she was to evade their notice in such an environment.

Moving as fast as she could under the circumstances, Uriko nipped her thumb and formed a short set of seals before pressing her hand flat to the earth. Instantly, a dog-like creature appeared beside her, grinning inanely. "Hachiro - hold." She murmured, motioning for the Tanuki to stay quiet and flat to the ground. Bringing a brown paw to his mouth, the quirky animal pursed his lips and nodded in understanding. Rolling her eyes, the kunoichi leaned in closer. "I want these out of my way - unharmed - and I need a substitution." The young Tanuki paused to take the instruction in before nodding vigorously and darting off toward the approaching guard. Waiting for the inevitable 'yelp', Uriko soon began crawling across the plains toward the outpost.

"Damn animal! What was that?" The nearest patrolman exclaimed, glancing around for a sign of what had bitten his leg. Performing his duties admirably, Hachiro leaped out from the grass at that point and hared off in the opposite direction. With a grunt of satisfaction, the guard gave chase. Uriko meanwhile, made good use of the distraction and continued to close the gap between herself and the wooden building that marked the border. Having lost his target, the more animated of the two guards trudged back to his post and took a seat beside his partner. The two exchanged words, but Uriko was too far away to hear what they were talking about. Instead she focused on the hut, where a small figure had just scaled the wall. Hachiro made short work of the wooden beams and sent a small log up into the air when he was done. Right on cue, his mistress formed a single seal and disappeared from sight. The deep brown stump fell amongst the tall grass with a muffled thump and Uriko landed deftly just behind the outpost, a wry smile on her otherwise emotionless features.

The patrolling shinobi had noticed the disturbance the substitution had caused. Now that there had been two incidents in the area however, both of them decided to investigate. Neither had been able to observe the nukenin's movements, given that they were sat - rather conveniently - on the other side of the guard post. As soon as the coast was clear, Hachiro gave the kunoichi a cheeky wink before disappearing into thin air. Following his lead, the woman darted out from her hiding spot and put on a burst of speed as she left the grasslands. The landscape changed dramatically over the next few minutes, as oceans of grass broke over the less arable land and became a gritted pathway, winding through the surrounding hillocks. It was a well-travelled road and only a short time had passed before Uriko met others on the same route. A pair of what looked like traders observed the kunoichi with interest, clearly suspicious of her veiled visage. Muttering to one another as they passed, the female nukenin decided to make a few alterations to her appearance.

Using a transformation technique was out of the question. It was easily pierced and difficult to maintain over long periods. No, given the lack of any distinct military presence in the country, simplicity was key. Grasping her head scarf, Uriko pulled it away and cast it aside, immediately feeling the warmth of the sun's ray on her features. She did the same with her outer garments and armor, storing it safely within an item scroll for later use. Rummaging around in her item pouches, she soon located a short length of string and wound it around her hair, tying it into a more elegant pony tail. Last but not least, she removed a small flask of drinking water and gently drizzled it across her face. With the moisture still lingering, she ran her hand around her cheeks, nose, mouth and eyes, scrubbing the dirt and dust from the skin. The change was startling and despite her unmissable flaws, Uriko looked a new woman. Though she had yet to master the smile.

Uncomfortable though she was in this new guise, the kunoichi noticed immediately how little attention she attracted. And as her upper robes hung loosely across the arm, it was difficult for anyone to ascertain that she was missing a limb. Striding confidently through the human traffic for the first time in an age, Uriko made quick progress in and then out of Yugagakure, past the most obvious tourist spots and into the far corners of the country where few dared tread. There was little to fear of these misty spots, yet most avoided them like the plague. Perhaps it was the removal of their strongest sense, lost as they could be amongst the deep fog. The threat of the unknown took ahold of people's hearts like no other danger - Uriko knew well that it could be an extraordinary tool if harnessed. She herself felt no anxiety as the mists closed in, only satisfaction that the environment offered all it had promised.

Relying now mostly on her ears, the female nukenin could tell there were on or two others in amongst the fog with her. For those that braved this strange part of the land there were indeed rewards. It was said that an oasis was to be found and that this was the source of the mist. As it turned out, this haven was rather easy to find. The thick, clouded air did not travel far from its point of origin and Uriko soon located the trickle of water. Listening carefully for intruders, she slipped out of her clothes and secreted her stock of items underneath the fabrics, covering all of these with earth and loam to hide them from view. Then, slowly, she slid into the ever-warm water, feeling her muscles relax with every centimetre. The woman sighed, realising only now how tired she had been. She knew her task was to establish a refuge here for those who belonged to the Jukai, but the atmosphere and water were intoxicating. It could wait for a few minutes, she reasoned.

The few minutes soon became half an hour, then an entire hour and still Uriko felt unwilling to move. After a mental and physical struggle, she forced her legs to stretch and bring her to stand. As she did so however, the kunoichi's feet lost their balance on the smooth floor of the spring and she slid ungainly into greater depths. Reaching out with her arm for the edge of the pool, the woman was surprised to feel a slight motion in the water that had seemed so still a moment ago. It was the faintest sensation, one that could only have been detected by someone with a highly advanced somatosensory system. A medical expert, in this instance. Treading lightly and carefully, Uriko followed the current to the opposite side of the spring. Here it was a little stronger, more easily traced. Allowing her head to sink below the surface again, she opened her eyes wide and glimpsed her discovery.

A hole in the wall of the pool. Large enough for a man or woman to fit through and smoothed by the waters around it. The inquisitive mind of the wily criminal led her straight into the gap and beyond. It was strangely colder here and a faint light glimmered in the distance. Uriko pushed on, safe in the knowledge that her techniques would not allow her to drown. Fortunately, she would have no need of them. The passage had led her down so far but had quite suddenly risen, light trickling down from above. The kunoichi followed the current up and broke through the water's surface, gulping the air gratefully. As she climbed out onto dry land, she was surprised by how dark it seemed when only moments ago she had seen clear light. A quick search identified the problem - a small crack in the ceiling sat right over the underwater tunnel, but provided little by way of illumination for the rest of the den. Ignoring this problem for now, the woman set off to explore the grotto.

The floor was covered in dust and dry earth, the air musty and the light minimal. Yet Uriko was impressed by the size of the cavern, with a large entrance 'room' that thinned into a small passge before opening up into another, even larger cave. While rustic, it suited her needs to a tee. Gazing around, she imagined the armory lining the walls, young proteges sparring against one another and their masters and mistresses looking on - all united under the same purpose. It felt so real, so close by that it she need only extend her arm and reach... A faint smile crossed the woman's lips, disappearing barely a second later. "No time for dreams." She murmured. "Work to be done." The kunoichi concluded, striding purposefully back toward the water-filled tunnel.

Techniques Used:

Objectives Completed:
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