Age : 27
Posts : 1836
|Subject: Commencement [Private] Sun 22 Mar 2015, 7:00 am|| |
• Travel Thread •
Roughly three days of travel had passed until Masquerade was at the end of journey. It took one day of riding on a horse-drawn cart to reach the border between Cha no Kuni and Hi no Kuni; an additional two days on foot brought him to the house of one Yuuji Subaru. The Sun had been up for some time. Probably an hour or two, judging by the celestial body’s position in the sky. The air still held the cool, refreshing feel to it that could often be found in the early hours of the morning, before the Sun started heating everything up. Stepping lightly over a floor of dewy grass, Masquerade failed to stifle the yawn that overcame him. He had been walking for several hours without rest or proper pause. Exhaustion and drowsiness were doing their utmost to coax him into slumber, but he resisted the temptation. He would sleep once he reached Subaru’s abode, and maybe after voicing his thoughts to the man.
Soon enough, he stood on the cobbled doorstep of a three-story mansion. The building’s design implied that an abundance of money had gone into its construction. An architect would undoubtedly think of this mansion as a piece of art. Masquerade, on the other hand, cared little for any aesthetic appeal it may have. The only significance this house had to him was that it was Subaru’s residence. This was the second time he had come here, the first over five years ago. Funnily enough, he had come seeking Subaru’s assistance last time, and the same reason had brought him to his finely-polished, mahogany door once again. Smirking to himself, Masquerade secured the brown, leather satchel he had slung over his shoulder, before raising a skeletal hand to rap his knuckles against the wooden door loudly.
His wait lasted a mere twenty seconds at most. The resident’s assuring call of his approach heralded the door’s opening. In the doorway stood a taller, middle-aged man, clad in a decorative, gray yukata. Messy locks of electric blue fell all around face. His narrow visage of pale, grayish skin, was clean-shaven, save for a short, pointed goatee that looked as rigid as rock. Almond-shaped eyes with bright yellow irises blinked in surprise upon seeing the familiar figure at his doorstep.
“Masquerade! Now this is a nice surprise! Come on in. It’s great to see you!”
Based on the beaming grin, Subaru was genuinely delighted by Masquerade’s appearance - despite it being unannounced and unexpected. After all, the man had repeatedly told the Nukenin to stop by whenever he wanted. Masquerade was always welcome here - those had been the words uttered frequently by Subaru. And indeed, he was welcomed at this very moment: Subaru opened the door wider and stepped aside to invite his guest inside. With a thankful nod of his head, Masquerade entered the man’s sumptuous abode. As always, he felt the need to wipe his feet before doing so, but only because the place looked so spotless and lavish. Fortunately, Subaru was not so strict. Still, Masquerade was well-mannered, and removed his footwear at the entrance as per etiquette, prior to being led further into the fancy house by Subaru.
“Rumi-chan! Guess who was at the door!” Subaru called out happily as he strolled down the hallway. The words were clearly directed at someone other than the shinobi behind him, and the addressee came into view as the two males entered a luxurious living room.
Seated in a seiza stance at a rectangular, low table was a five-foot-tall woman - sylphlike, brunette, and unarguably pretty. Her name - or rather, the “alias” that she was known only by - was “Rumiho”. In this petite woman’s manicured hands was an ornate yunomi, the steaming contents of which she was sipping slowly and measuredly. She was somewhere close in age to Subaru, but just like him, she looked younger than she actually was. Her attire was a sleeveless, high-quality kimono with a base of red and a complementary color of brown. The woman’s hair, as brown as toffee, was so long that it pooled behind her on the floor. It probably reached to her ankles when she was standing, and that was when some of it was being held up by the very ornate, butterfly-shaped hairpin that she wore! As Subaru and Masquerade came into sight and she into theirs, the female’s shrewd, cyan eyes focused on the masked man, and narrowed in visible distaste. The noticeable act elicited a faint snicker from Masquerade as he seated himself at the table, directly opposite her.
“Ahhh. Rumiho. What a pleasure,” he drawled to her, and in a manner that was blatantly flippant. The woman in the red-brown kimono smiled at Masquerade’s tone. Her demeanor in response to his presence was in complete contrast to Subaru’s. She was sporting a discourteous glint in her eyes, despite the smug grin. Regardless, Rumiho’s disapproving air did not detract from the tranquility of her composure as she sat sipping her tea. She even returned the shinobi’s greeting with equal cheek, albeit more condescendingly.
“Yes, it is. Mask-kun,” Rumiho answered by way of greeting, smirking smugly.
She said nothing more, but those words had been sufficient in yielding the desired effect. As she predicted, the masked man’s hands twitched visibly, as if he was trying to restrain himself from physical action. Indeed, anyone that had been around Masquerade long enough would know how he despised being referred to by nicknames, or having his name - err, alias - perverted in any way. It was one of his biggest pet peeves, and despite knowing how childish it was, Masquerade was unable to stop himself from fuming whenever someone addressed him so… “cutely”. And Rumiho, being the mischievous woman that she was, purposely referred to Masquerade in such an endearing way, just to grind his nerves. This was just another reason for the Nukenin to feel disdainful towards her.
Rumiho smiled sweetly from over her teacup at Masquerade, whose smiling mask was mirroring the false cordiality that the female was displaying. Clearly, neither liked the other very much, though it was for entirely different reasons. Masquerade knew why he did not enjoy the woman’s company, and that was because he did not trust her all that much. She probably felt the same regarding his fidelity, but there was surely another cause for her displeasure that eluded Masquerade’s knowledge. A puzzle for another time.
While the wily woman and the masked man eyed each other with insincere geniality, Subaru hovered in the background uncertainly, looking a tad bit anxious. He intervened before either of his companions aggravated the situation further, taking a seat beside the Nukenin (where he had been previously seated, judging by the position of the yunomi placed there). With a loud and obvious clearing of his throat, Subaru acquired Rumiho and Masquerade’s attention, prior to the addressing the taller (and younger) of the duo.
“So, uh, Masquerade - what’re you doing here? You never told me you were planning on visiting.”
Last edited by Ulkira on Sun 29 Mar 2015, 6:55 am; edited 1 time in total
Age : 27
Posts : 1836
|Subject: Re: Commencement [Private] Sat 28 Mar 2015, 4:17 am|| |
Prior to coming to this country, Masquerade had been enjoying a little “vacation” (a word best used loosely) in Cha no Kuni. There, he had been received a letter from Subaru; the letter asked the Nukenin to locate a casket that was supposedly stored in a hideout that his father had established in Cha no Kuni. Long story short: Masquerade had found the casket, along with two other items of interest. He had then journeyed to Hi no Kuni to deliver the casket in person to Subaru. He had been carrying the located item in a satchel, which the shinobi had set down on the table he was currently seated at. Now, as Subaru changed the subject of the conversation, Masquerade looked away from Rumiho, and slowly reached into the satchel to pull out the gold-and-brown, wooden container.
“I found your box,” the Nukenin declared curtly, but not rudely. As these words were uttered, he held the rectangular item out to the blue-haired man on his right. Subaru blinked his yellow eyes in surprise and took the casket in his hands. His handsome face broke into an excited grin right away - an almost childish one, actually.
“Aww, yes! Excellent! This is exactly what I was looking for.” His elation made Masquerade wonder just how important the casket (or its contents) were to him. The Nukenin had tried to open the container when he first discovered it, but the lock had been too tough for anything on his person. He considered asking right now, but his curiosity for such matters had diminished. There were more crucial issues that he wished to focus on.
Still beaming down at the foot-long container of wood, Subaru continued speaking in a happy manner to the rogue. “Great job, Masquerade! I was worried you wouldn’t be able to find it, but I’m glad I was wrong! I should have known Yashin-san would be keeping this thing in that specific hideout. It was his preferred one, after all. He always used to stay there; you know, despite Hi no Kuni being his birthplace and stuff.” The ecstatic man then paused, his forehead wrinkling as a thought occurred to him. Subaru fixed a pair of puzzled eyes on Masquerade. “But, why did you bring it yourself? Didn’t you get my letter? I said to hand the casket over to Tougai-san once you found it. He was supposed to bring it to me. There wasn’t any reason for you to make the trip here.”
Masquerade did not enlighten Subaru right away; but that was because Rumiho interjected herself into the conversation before he could say anything. “Unless he wanted to ask you for something,” she offered as a theory, the conceited expression still on her pretty face, as she continued to serenely drink her tea. Masquerade shifted his masked face her way momentarily, while Subaru concurrently snapped his fingers in understanding.
“Ah! Of course! Rumi-chan’s right! That’ll be the reason!” He crossed his arms and nodded his head fervently, as if he was proud of himself for figuring out the reason for Masquerade’s visit (despite Rumiho being the one to deduce it). An expectant gaze was directed to the Nukenin at this point by middle-aged male. “So, whaddya need, Masquerade? How I can help you?”
For a short while, Masquerade maintained his silence, with the thin fingers of his left hand rhythmically tapping against the tabletop. A curious gaze slowly shifted back-and-forth between the jolly Subaru and the patronizing Rumiho. He resisted the temptation to chuckle in amusement at their expense. Simply because the humor he found in the situation would not have been appreciated by the two. One of them was amiable and accommodating to the Nukenin, whereas the other was cold and contemptuous. Subaru’s mannerisms were genuinely kind and good-natured, while Rumiho was more aloof. How two people with such disparate personalities could be such close friends was a source of amusement to the masked shinobi. Truly, whatever history these two shared, it had given birth to a bond that was not easily broken by such clashing mentalities.
Adorable, Masquerade thought mockingly. Instead of showing some backbone and voicing his derisive opinions, however, he focused on his satchel once again, this time pulling out the remaining two items. A small journal and a photograph were lifted out of the bag and tossed onto the table, the throw’s momentum causing them to slide across the surface to stop at Subaru’s elbow. Masquerade had found both these items at his father’s hideout, and had chosen to bring them with him after a thorough examination. Both Subaru and Rumiho eyed the items curiously, the former picking them up in his hands for a closer look. While Subaru inspected the journal and the photograph, Masquerade offered some
tiresome verbal exposition to the duo.
“Whilst searching through Otou-sama’s belongings for your casket, I happened across these particular objects,” he stated matter-of-factly, gesturing to the book and picture. Subaru looked at the photo briefly, then opened the book to peruse through the pages. As the bearded man did this, Masquerade continued speaking. “As you can see, the photograph is centered on Otou-sama, a woman, and a newborn child. This book, meanwhile, contains details and information acquired during Otou-sama’s search for a particular someone - not me, but a woman by the name of Kinomi. More specifically, the woman in the picture, who is evidently his wife.”
A family photo, and a journal containing Yashin’s deepest thoughts about his missing wife - thoughts centered on love and regret. Both were objects of sentiment that the guilt-ridden man had kept with him. And now, Masquerade had taken possession of them, for reasons that could probably be called sentimental, too.
“Wow…” “Stunned” would be a fitting description for Subaru’s current demeanor. The blue-haired man’s brow furrowed heavily in thought, confusion having dominated his facial features. His expression was very similar to Masquerade’s, back when the latter had discovered the book and photograph in his father hideout. Except, there was no covering of pure white to obscure the bewilderment. Also, a hint of sadness could be seen in the man’s yellow eyes; Subaru appeared to be saddened by the heartfelt words he was reading, no doubt causing him to feel pity for the writer. Indeed, Yashin’s journal entries could be seen as touching. “I had no idea that Yashin-san had been looking for his wife. He never once mentioned that he was, or even asked me for his help.”
Masquerade lazily tapped a bony index against his temple. “The Shichibi informed me that both my parents were present on the night I became a Jinchuuriki. She spoke in particular about the quarrel that had transpired between them.” A spidery hand gestured inquisitively at the bearded man, being held out with the palm facing up. “I assume you encountered my mother on that occasion, as well?”
Subaru shook his head, his eyes still fixed glumly on Yashin’s journal. “No. I never met her. Kinomi-san had been hiding during the entire Sealing Ceremony. She only showed herself after me and the others had left. At least, that’s what Yashin-san had said. He told me what happened afterwards. But like I said earlier: I never realized that he had been searching for Kinomi-san all these years. If I had known…” The man lapsed into silence, not bothering to finish his sentence or ponder on any possible “what ifs”. He was wise enough to know that dwelling on such matters would not change anything that had happened. What was past was past, as they said.
Masquerade narrowed his eyes in disappointment, the action hidden as always by his mask. Had he hoped that Subaru would be able to divulge additional data concerning Masquerade’s mother? Certainly. The bearded man had shown that he possessed an abundance of knowledge revolving around the Jinchuuriki’s father, Senju Yashin. Had it been too presumptuous to believe that Subaru would know just as much about Masquerade’s mother as he did about his father? Seemingly so. The Nukenin suppressed all signs of dissatisfaction (a feat made tremendously easy by his concealing attire); it was not Subaru’s fault that Yashin had not shared information about his side quests with him. The two may have been close friends, but even the best of friends kept secrets from each.
At least, that’s what Masquerade believed. He knew that he would not hesitate in keeping secrets from his friends.
Maybe that was why he didn’t actually have any friends...
Age : 27
Posts : 1836
|Subject: Re: Commencement [Private] Sun 29 Mar 2015, 6:54 am|| |
“So Yashin-san had been trying to locate Kinomi-san… But not because he was angry at her.” The man with the messy blue hair narrowed his eyes contemplatively, still reading through the book in his hands. “He was being eaten up by his guilt… It makes sense. Yashin-san mentioned that the two of them had pretty much been trying to kill each other that night - or at least, he’d been trying to. I always thought it was odd that he would try something like that, given how he had only said positive things about Kinomi-san. To think that he was feeling so much remorse, and I didn’t even notice it…”
Subaru’s words trailed off once more as his lowered voice slipped into silence; he set the book down on the table, his head bowed in apparent regret as well. A part of Masquerade wanted to tease the man for being so emotional, but he did not; there was be a suitable time for him to be a smug jackass, and this was not it. Regardless of how badly he wished to roll his eyes at the… “cheesiness” of the entire situation, such a derisive attitude would only be hypocritical, since the Nukenin had been similarly emotional when he had first learned about this endeavor of Yashin’s. He was not in a position to mock, really.
With the cheer gone from his face and replaced with solemnity, Subaru locked eyes with Masquerade. “Let me know how I can help,” he restated resolutely, giving the shinobi an understanding nod. He had fully deduced Masquerade’s reasons for making this visit, and true to his nature, the man was going to be helpful by not turning down the Nukenin’s request. Said request was voiced at last by Masquerade, and in a pensive drawl.
“Otou-sama’s final notes include a possible location for his target’s whereabouts - a location whose accuracy he seemed quite confident about.” Picking up the journal, Masquerade flipped to the page in question, where a big, red circle had been drawn onto a pasted map. “I would appreciate if you could have this location investigated, so as to see if Otou-sama’s information was correct or not.”
Subaru stroked his goatee and cocked an eyebrow at Masquerade. “I’m guessing you want to meet your mother, then?”
For a few seconds, there was silence between the two men (and the female, but she was not part of the conversation). Following the brief pause, the response came in the form a slow, horizontal shake of the hooded head. “No… At the moment, I only wish to ascertain if she is alive, and if she still resides in this specified location. For that, I turn to you, Yuuji Subaru. Once again, I ask you to determine the precision of Otou-sama’s findings, and report back to me with your discoveries. If you please?”
“And what will you do with that information?”
“That… has yet to be decided on.”
“Alright, but… Wouldn’t it be better if you checked out the spot yourself? I mean, if Kinomi-san is there, I’d say it’d be better if her son showed up looking for her, instead of a complete stranger like me. Don’tcha think?”
It was a sensible train of thought - but not one that Masquerade was inclined to agree with. “Possibly, yes. In normal circumstances, your proposition would be the more prudent one. However, such is not the case here. I, unfortunately, know very little about my parents. Or about their relationship. Or their history. You, on the other hand, possess a sufficient amount of knowledge concerning this matter. At the very least, you were closer to Otou-sama than I could ever have been, Yuuji Subaru. In my opinion, someone who was well-acquainted with Otou-sama will be more likely to gain his wife’s trust, rather than an uninformed individual such as myself. Offspring or not.”
Subaru did not answer immediately, scrunching up his face in thought instead. Clearly, Masquerade was not going to offer any more explanations. He had said everything he needed to in regards to the subject at hand. Reasons had been given for why he specifically wanted Subaru to verify his mother’s whereabouts. Maybe the Nukenin’s words had some logic to them, but Subaru did not see it that way. The blue-haired man was still convinced that Masquerade wished to find his mother in order to meet her. As for why he was asking Subaru to investigate, rather than do it himself - well, the bearded man had a feeling it was something along the lines of shyness. Or maybe Masquerade was intimidated by the prospect of meeting the woman who gave birth to him. Scared, even!
To Subaru, these were the possible causes for Masquerade’s decisions thus far. This steadfast belief was not because Subaru claimed to know Masquerade’s mindset so well. He knew a lot about the Nukenin’s personality, but not everything. There were still many quirks of Masquerade’s that puzzled Subaru; oddly enough, he was perhaps the person who knew the Nukenin best. Regardless of how difficult it might be to understand the masked shinobi’s mentality, Subaru was sure that Masquerade would use any information he obtained in the predicted manner. The Nukenin was, first and foremost, an orphan. Exhibiting curiosity towards the people who gave birth to him was only natural, and completely expected.
“Okay. You can count on me, Masquerade! I’ll do my best!” A reassuring grin, an acknowledging nod of his head, and an enthusiastic thumbs-up followed this proclamation. As if to further prove his determination, Subaru held his hand out for Masquerade to shake. After a momentary glance at it, the Nukenin lazily clasped the waiting hand and completed the ritual. A promise had been made, it seemed. Evidently, Subaru was taking this matter very seriously - more so than Masquerade had expected. Somewhere in the back of his mind, the Jinchuuriki surmised that Subaru thought locating Kinomi was of utmost importance to Masquerade. In Subaru’s eyes, it would benefit Masquerade greatly if the latter learned more about his female parent.
He was probably right about that.
“Splendid,” Masquerade stated in his own version of a cheery voice (which sounded more mocking than anything else). He clapped his hands together, looking expectantly at Subaru. “Now then. I’m about to pass out from exhaustion. I actually can’t see either of your faces anymore. So, could I ask for your continued hospitality, Yuuji Subaru, and perhaps be given a futon to collapse on?”
As usual, Masquerade’s odd mannerisms caused Subaru to blink disconcertedly; but only momentarily, as he the Nukenin’s quirks were not so surprising anymore. Nodding, Subaru rose to his feet and motioned for Masquerade to follow him. The Nukenin obliged, standing up to follow his host out of the room; but only after he paused to give Rumiho a departing (and mocking) two-fingered salute. The woman childishly stuck her tongue out at him as a retort. Smirking to himself, Masquerade made his way down the hallway after Subaru. His blue-haired host led him up a flight of stairs to the second floor, where the duo stopped in front of a door. Subaru slid the door open to reveal the bedroom beyond.
“In a way, I’ve kept this room reserved for you. As you can see, I made sure to have it decorated to your liking.”
Masquerade snorted as he looked round at the decorations - or the complete lack thereof. There was a closet on one wall, a window on the other, and nothing else. The room literally looked like it had never been lived in. “Indeed. It is as aesthetically bland as I would prefer it. Much appreciated, Yuuji Subaru.”
His remark elicited a guffaw from Subaru. “Alright. Sleep well, Masquerade. If you need anything, you know where Rumi-chan and I’ll be.”
With that, he left Masquerade to his slumber. The Nukenin remained motionless in the center of the room for several seconds, and then reached into his pocket to pull out the photograph of his parents. Before coming up here, he had pocketed the picture, but chose to leave the journal behind. Subaru would probably need it, and he was sure that Rumiho was probably reading through it this very moment. Facial expression hidden from view, Masquerade looked down at the faded image of his parents, smiling as they held his newborn form in their arms. Shaking his head for some reason, Masquerade slipped the photo back into his trouser pocket, and proceeded to set up the futon folded in the corner. He had asked for Subaru help. Now, he was going to return to his aimless life, until he something of significance came up regarding this whole issue with his mother.
~ Topic Concluded ~
|Subject: Re: Commencement [Private] || |
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