It was the crack of dawn when three dark figures awoke.
"..Higa, speak with the locals, find out if there was another sighting of her. Specifically around the inn. Anything out of the ordinary. Keep your senses sharp, if Hime-chan uses any chakra, I want you to feel out where."
Higa gave a grudging nod.
"Tanu, see if you can pick up a trail. Start at the docks. See if you can find the merchant vessel she used. I'm going to visit some friends."
The other two looked at each other before shrugging. Tanu and Koen fled through the window straight upon the adjacent rooftop.
Still in the room, Higu sighed. Sealing up her mask, armor, and black uniform, she quickly unsealed and donned a more 'normal' appearance of a civilian wearing an ordinary kimono. Her long red hair and green eyes told of her heritage. Having a sexy tall hourglass figure only gave more weight to keeping her to seduction, espionage, and assassination missions.
Sighing once again at being forced back into her original duties, she quietly left the room. Thankfully there was nobody up yet to question why she was in an inn she hadn't booked.
A few figures were loading crates into a horse-drawn carriage. It was all too obvious what they were to anyone that looked at them. Several were spilling out rice, others had some weeds sticking through the top of the lids. A few holes littered each box, put there intentionally, but in a way that made it look completely natural from wear and tear. It gave the impression of 'poor' to anyone that would look within the merchant's stock.
There were, or course, a few of these that didn't have anything spilling out, but the boxes weren't supposed to allow this anyways. But having the rest do so gave the impression needed to cross without worry.
A few of these were out of reach, and knowingly placed as such. The gruff men loading the carriage were handling these with care. Not all held the same contents, but they didn't know what exactly was in each. What they did know was what each had a high possibility of holding.
Quickly finishing, two of these men quickly took reign.
They would be passing the gate guards, and out of the village not a few minutes later.
"Nothing at all…"
The two that hadn't spoke looked at each other before back at their leader with tense nods.
"No indication of her chakra at all today. Nobody has seen her either… Even a few men" she spat, "I worked had nothing. Nobody has seen another redheaded girl since yesterday morning. The last time she'd been seen was when you captured her clone. It was quite the spectacle apparently. There weren't very many around at the time though."
"Heh, still that dislike dealing with men. I guess that wouldn't just go away, would it."
She glared at Tanu, who conveniently shifted into giving his report, "The scent trail is a bit convoluted, but never circled around. It led straight here from the docks. No outside trails or lingering scents about the village. It was primarily along her initial route."
"I see… The samurai haven't seen anything, neither have any of the Uzu merchants. I would have expected her to have tried to find someone to give her direction or lead away from the town."
"Repeat the process Higa. There's a clue somewhere, always is. She disappeared around the inn. I need you to ask about anyone and everyone seen around that time. Someone has to have seen something. Tanu, you too this time.
As for myself, I'm going to have a little chat with a few.. unsavory characters. However, we'll wait until tomorrow morning to start. At this point, any trail is likely gone. While highly doubtful, if she simply ran, the princess may be halfway across the country already. Mostly likely, she found a way to hide within sight. Our best best are clues, and those shall appear more as time passes."
"-know, get somethin' nice, huh?"
A grunt was his response. "Hey, loosen up. It's more likely to get us in trouble if you're all tense. Damn samurai look for the nervous bunch."
A sigh was barely heard.
Ngh~ Ouw~, what the heck hit me?! Squeezing my eyes tight, I tried to filter the pain. However, shifting around didn't do any good. Everything was all stiff and cramped.
"Why can't you just talk, I mean we still have another few hours until the next town. Nearly two days, and not a single word."
Eh? Huh..? The muffled voices sounded like they were coming through walls, but I couldn't really tell who they were. Not even vaguely familiar. Gah! What's that taste! Ow! What's happening?!
Once more, my cramped body tried shifting, and I tried pushing whatever tasted so terrible out of my dry mouth. Nothing moved at all. Finally the pain from my head subsided slightly. Opening my eyes revealed nearly pitch darkness. A few streams of light filtered through some small holes just above my head, but little more could be seen. Even the tiny bit I could see was barely visible.
"Fine, at least answer why you think the boss let her keep her clothes. They looked too expensive to just let go to waste."
Eh~? Where am I? Why does my head hurt so freaking much?! Twisting again, trying to get into a more comfortable position, my cramps returned along with more pain. J-Just what is-"
"...He is honoring their agreement. The clothes she is wearing are not worth anywhere near what she is. The girl will be given safe passage to another town, and allowed to keep her attire for comfort until arrival, with payment taken upon reaching our destination. Those were her conditions."
Uh? ..Agh! What is this?! Having the pounding in my head finally leveling off into a more manageable state, so much became apparent.
"Bwahaha! 'Safe passage'! 'Payment'! Ahaha! She's definitely worded it right! And Gazu-sama lives up to his reputation of always keeping his word! ..Still, over two damn days, and that's the only thing I can get you to say? You really do need to loosen up. It's not all about the job. Even the only question you answered this entire time was about the girl."
The pain around my wrists were probably from chafing. It slowly became obvious as they were held tightly together. My arms were uncomfortably pulled behind my back, and my knees kept against my chest. Obviously it was to fit me within the small space. Gah! Did they drug me?! Ew~, They stuffed dirty cloth in my mouth!
Okay, keep calm. It's just disgusting cloth… It's just a bit of.. Okay, I really want to kill them!
"Really? The silent treatment again? ...Sigh~*"
Just remember your training… Breathe in.. and out.. Need to escape. No way am I going- did they say two days? Freaking crap! ...no, that's a good thing, but it explains why I'm so hungry and thirsty. Taking a few deep breaths, I focused on where the binds were, and where I needed to cut.
"..You really do need to find a hobby or something. I swear you're going to turn into a mute."
If I heard right then I was plenty far enough away. My seals were still active, and despite my lack of nutrient intake, my forced sleep had probably evened out the exchange. Still, the drain was already getting to me. Even if I had set it to naturally draw once I started focusing the chakra into them, it wasn't something I had planned on keep up continuously. Already half my chakra was gone. Obviously my estimation of a week was more like four or five days.
Focusing on wind transformation, I gathered bits of chakra into my wrist before pressing outward, carefully avoiding my arm warmers. Almost instantly I felt some slack. Repeating this process allowed me to get completely free quite quickly. Including the cloth around my head. Gah! Never again! Disgusting!
"Fine, fine. Just going to start talking to myself again…"
Unfortunately the box was too small for me to move around, not even enough to pull my arms around in front of me. Think, how can I get out of this stupid box? Actually, that's quite easy… If I could get my arms in front of me!
"Really..? Nothing? Nothing at all?"
Shifting around, finally free, my cramps soon started settling down. Okay, so a sealed wooden box. This is almost what I had expected to be smuggled inside, just not so cramped. Leaning down, I pressed my hands and feet against the bottom - side? - of the box. Manifesting wind chakra again, I forced it deep into the side around the edges. Unfortunately this didn't produce quite as deep a cut as I predicted. This might take a while…
It was nearing mid-day, and Koen was getting frustrated.
He slithered down the rooftop of the large mansion. It wasn't the biggest one in the large port town, nor the highest profile, but it was enough to ensure constant operations. This was the fourth 'crime lord', as they enjoy being called, he was entertaining to visit.
The clans knew of these miscreants, but allowed their operations for exchange in information. If they could get away with it, they would. But if a clan came calling… the criminals knew to hand over the information voluntarily. They would sometimes even pay for services from the ninja clans. But mostly, it was avoided.
For the clans themselves, it made tracing their goals much easier, sometimes. There were many trades and bargains to be done in the underground, and an inside link was often preferred to a random mess that would likely occur if the criminal order went around headless. It also helped that these people avoided angering the stronger or more violet clans.
Slipping past the inner guard, Koen silently opened the door, and slid through.
Almost instantly, the three inside went alert. The sight of black, while not unfamiliar, was quite terrifying. In normal wear, it was simply that, daily clothes. But for it to cover the entirety of a body meant the person in question was hiding their identity. And doing so completely usually meant assassins of some sort. The two guards, ex-samurai, knew they were a match for most normal ninja. But not one like this. Still, they moved in front of their employer, even as the invader simply walked forth, undaunted.
"W-What is it, you n-need?" The business-like man croaked out.
"We have recently lost one of our own. A high profile child from my clan has gone missing." Koen relayed, his ambiguous voice further scaring the three.
"I-I see? Indeed, I have had a few children come through in the past few weeks." Gazu nodded. "The only ch-child that I know of being from a clan was a female, had brown hair, brown eyes, and was no younger than six, and no older than eight years old."
Koen thought for a small moment. "Even while sleeping?"
Gazu nodded vigorously. "Slept overnight before getting shipped out. Drugged even."
Koen then relayed his target's aspects, both for further confirmation, and just in case a sighting appeared. Only finding that a few thugs had seen the incident at the inn, and no further knowledge about such a girl.
Gazu sighed in relief, wiping sweat as the black warrior left. Koen escaped the premises as he entered, silent and invisible.
He didn't know it, but he was merely the fourth. And there were over half a dozen within the town for Koen to scare.
My hands slid a little further over, pressing more chakra against the wood, silently slicing deeper. The side turned into a failure. Even if it now had a possible opening, there was another box in the way. Instead, I started going through the top where a hole allowed light to flow through. It was a ridiculous mistake on my part, and I had been berating myself upon it for half an hour.
A few more finally had the last bit of wood cleanly sliced through, which in turn allowed the free wood to fall down on my side. Carefully, quietly, yet still quite easily, I pushed it back into place and out the box entirely. Gently sliding it onto what I presume to be another box sidled up against the one I was unfortunately forced into.
Slowly I pulled myself from the box, working my aching muscles while holding my voice in from the cramping pain. The torment of rough wood and small space was terrible. Even more when said torment was jerking its contents, me, about the entire box.
Whatever drug they used on me had actually kept me out for two days! As an Uzumaki, that's quite impressive. For another girl, it probably would have been double that, maybe more. I sighed in relief as I stretched. Honestly, I was all too thankful that I was still clothed. Most kidnapping and horror films and books I'd read usually had some sort of cruel captor stripping and beating their victims. I'm not entirely sure it's true, but this world is supposedly more violet than my last. Such a prospect frightened me more than I thought it would.
But there was no time for that now. Using a steady flow of chakra, I kept my body from completely touching anything around me. This is what allowed ninja to safely jump between roofs and other areas that would usually cave in from their weight, while also keeping their movements quiet.
What got me was that this entire area was enclosed in darkness. Strange for a carriage, but this isn't my world. There was probably a lock or something on a door to keep the 'contents', me or other 'prisoners', inside. Most likely, it was just a precautionary measure. However, it meant that I had more work to do.
Obviously my paranoia was well placed. I shouldn't have eaten their food. I shouldn't have gone to the people who break the law so easily. Even if they can take care of such things so easily, smuggling a girl out of town in my case, it obviously wasn't worth it. I don't even know if the two driving could sense chakra!
If they could, I still had to be careful. Get through the wood slowly, silently escape, and then mask my leave somehow, just in case…
Even if I did have to be careful, it was time to stop holding back.
Higa sighed as she walked away from another woman.
She had been at the incident, heard the loud sounds, and ran towards the scene of a black clad ninja kidnapping a beautiful redhead. That's all everyone saw. No other mentions of their primary target.
Though she finally had something different from the rest, it wasn't quite conclusive. There was a brown haired child running away from the sounds. She didn't see where the girl came from, but it was the only different story she had heard. The kid could have been playing, and ran from the scary sounds, or been the princess in a Henge.
There was no sign of such a girl around the town either. For whatever reason, she had been unable to find evidence the girl lived there. A few had seen her wandering about a few days before, but that was it. So even if it was their princess in hiding, it might be she was already long gone…
Another sigh followed as Higa entered the inn.
Slowly, her emotions turned towards the darker side as she came into the room. Both teammates were waiting, obviously without results.
Once more, Tanu had gone around the town. Though Koen had told him to forget his line of tracking, he knew it was impossible to completely mask a scent trail. There were simply too many variable that were left behind. But if scent didn't work, then other methods would have to do.
But he didn't ignore his orders either. He simply included both together. Still, the only result he had found was the mass spread rumor of Koen kidnapping their princess. He would have laughed his ass off if they weren't still searching for said girl.
Slash that, he did laugh. But because they hadn't actually be capable of doing what the rumors stated, no matter how much it appeared they succeeded. It was humiliating to say the least. Their success was everywhere, with failure being truth. It was usually the other way around, especially in sensitive missions.
He was first to arrive back in the inn they had taken to occupying. Koen soon after, looking disgruntled. Obviously, the lack of information was troubling. Then Higa came in. Thankfully she wasn't complaining of men this time. It was odd, considering she usually ends up groped whenever searching for information. It would be funny if the woman wasn't such an annoyance about such minor aspects of her job. Her skills were supposed to result in such situations! At least until she joined their team. Though she did have an incident that probably forced her to adopt such reactions…
He wouldn't comment upon that again so soon. Getting hit by angry women wasn't fun…
Sighing, he complied, flowing over the events in his day.
Higa came soon after. Before she was through, Koen oddly stilled. The female tracker stopped mid sentence, taking notice of the reaction, before continuing once more, tentatively. Then repeated that bit of information.
Brown hair, brown eyes, a young girl, running away from the inn…
Koen cursed. "We have our clue…" His words meant nothing, but his dangerous tone meant everything. "Gear up, we're moving. Now." No word louder than usual, but the two knew to hurry.
Peeking back out from behind a tree, I watched the squared carriage disappear over the horizon, a small black hole in the back indicating her escape method. It was now quite clear that it was built to keep the inner products safe from the elements. If they were transporting humans in such a way, then they had reason to worry.
Sighing with relief, weight and stress rolled off. I was still sore and cramped, but it was going away fast. But I couldn't use this road anymore. I had to find another. "Okay. Traveling blind is bad. But I can move fast enough that distance won't matter too much. No matter where I head, I'll be able to find another road quickly. But the territory is unfamiliar. I need to keep my signature low until finding a town…"
Looking back and forth, then at the sun, I soon decided to head further inland. But there were a few things I needed to take care of first. Putting my hands into a sign, a simple shock of chakra left my body feeling unnaturally light. For the second time in mere moments I felt strain disappear. Another unexpected sigh flowed from my mouth. Then, one more time, a small flux of chakra deactivated one more seal, returning my appearance to normal. I kept the one hiding my chakra and scent.
A few more uses of chakra had me eating a prepacked meal - saved in a time dilation seal within my arm warmers - upon a soft blanket. There was a container filled with water to hold me over as well, an open storage seal - creating a constant flow, which would allow anything to flow in or out at any time - held enough for a few weeks on the move.
Deciding that time was sensitive, since I didn't know a thing about the two driving the carriage, the food was gone all too fast. And I needed something easier to move around in. The clothing my mother had gifted me was nice. Easy to swap out, few pieces to worry about, and panties.
That was something that had me laughing when kaa-san explained the entirety of it while giving me such a precious, and highly useful, gift. Although girl needed them, or something similar when their biological function starts up anyways. To be trained to ignore shame? Well, it didn't matter much.
Slipping on the new outfit, a one piece kimono top, tight from shoulder to waist, a robe-like opening from the obi to the neck to make slipping my head through easy, a wide skirt spreading from the waist down to mid-thigh, and billowing sleeves that widen to nearly arm length at the wrist. Again, it matched the twin kaiken with black colouring and gray vines wrapping the silky material. Thigh highs to cover my legs, and cloth shoes to allow better feeling and proper grip against surfaces. Though the clothing was still loose due to my smaller frame compared to mother's.
Really, it was much easier to move around in. It was both similar and different to my normal attire, but far more elegant and comfortable. Even the skirt, while loosely swaying around my hips and legs, was still tight enough that it wasn't going to just get in the way or blow up with a powerful wind or kick. Oh, and matching panties kept the wind from distracting me too much anymore. Yea, I couldn't stop laughing at that…
Clearing everything up, I realized that the trail would be obvious. It only took a moment to come up with a way to throw off any pursuers. A smirk found its way to my face as my hands came together in a single hand-sign.
Gazu was once more trembling. Terror crossed his visage as not one, but three figures loomed across from his desk. His samurai guards didn't even attempt to protect him as the killing intent filled the entire mansion.
"The brown haired clan child. Where did you send her?"
Not as long as my normal chapter, but far more interesting in my opinion.
So, anyone figure out which animals I used for Tanu, Higa, and Koen?
Just so people know... I'm an idiot? x_x;
Higa and Koen were the places the animals were found in.
Tanu was the only on that had the first four letters of its name...
Also, anyone have an idea for a summoning contract for her?
Not really sure if I'll actually give her one, but I'm thinking about it.
Nothing over the top, like phoenix or dragon...