[Plotboard] The Bridge on the River Onan

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Toshi
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[Plotboard] The Bridge on the River Onan

Post by Toshi » Thu May 16, 2019 3:21 pm

Nestled between the sheer, icy cliffs of the Hokkyou Mountains and the unforgiving wastes of the Kosshi Desert flows the lifeblood of Rock Country; a winding network of rivers simply known as the Onan. Lush swathes of grasslands and golden wheat blanket this region in times of favorable weather, its rivers and fields tended by the Heisui people for generations on generations. The fisherman and farmer folk of a small but prosperous village within the boundaries of Azuma would find themselves in the throws of celebration and revelry.

Another of Rock Country's legendarily harsh winters had passed and Spring had breathed life into the world once more. Nyuubai was upon them and the villagers welcomed it with open arms.

The drink flowed, stories older than the storytellers were spoken over firelight and music filled the air like a sweet summer breeze. This small village, known simply as Yūyo, hosted famously competitive events ranging anywhere from displays of martial arts to boat racing and everything in between. Men laughed, women sang and children played. Even the barbarian tribes of the North found their way to villages like Yūyo, hoping to resupply for the coming winter as well as join in on the celebration of Spring's return.

On an ordinary night in this extraordinary time the skies were clear and the stars shined down on Yūyo, almost as if joining in the celebration themselves. The boats had been tied off at the docks and the competitions had drawn to a close until the first of morning's light. Campfires dotted the village like hundreds of fireflies and people moved and danced about, casting long, twisted shadows on the thatched cottages the Heisui called home. Many found themselves indoors this night, either preparing for the long day of competition ahead or enjoying the company of loved ones, friends and distant travelers.

One particularly lively inn practically shook with the excitement of celebration. Inside men and women sang songs they'd sung as children, and had since taught their children and even their children after. Songs of fine harvests and the Spirit of Spring smiling on the people of Yūyo, songs of the rainy seasons that saved them all from hunger and want. Stringed and woodwind instruments accompanied the bangs and pounds of drums and hands on tables as they all sang and drank and danced, intoxicated with the promise of kinder months ahead.

One man wrapped his arms around the shoulders of two others, belting what little of the words he knew to these songs and sometimes making up some of his own. His black hair was pulled back into a loose ponytail with unruly, escaped strands bouncing and weaving as the men swayed from side to side with the music. At the end of each song they would raise their sake cups, toast to their good fortune and throw their heads back in laughter after a long sip.

"Have I *hic*... Hey, have I told you guys about the one *hic*..." sputtered the pale skinned man, his already thin eyes heavily lidded with the spoils of the night's festivities. His free hand fumbled at the air as he tried to collect a thought that had already flitted away. "Ahhh no... Not that one, the one with the donkey and the other, smaller donkey..."

One of the other men, a burly fisherman, slapped him on the back and laughed, the sound overwhelmingly infectious to everyone standing nearby. "Didn't they teach you how to drink where you came from?" he asked mockingly, sticking a finger in the black haired man's face. The motion nearly sent the fisherman toppling over until the two men caught each other. The fisherman let out another laugh, his nose and cheeks radiating red. "Come on, just one more! Don't leave me with these mouth breathers!"

He vaguely gestured to the nearby villagers, who in turn replied with a mix of unsavory gestures, taunts and cheers.

The black haired man considered the offer for a moment before raising his glass and saying, "All right, all right! One more round on me!"

The group cheered and applauded and the band began to play another folk tune that got nearly the entire room on their feet and dancing.
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[Plotboard] The Bridge on the River Onan

Post by Kao » Fri May 17, 2019 6:49 am

The inn had been buzzing since midday, when all of the villagers and visitors had taken a brief break from the day's activities for lunch. Since then patrons had been in and out of the establishment, all varying degrees of excitement, age, and friendliness. The wait staff were adroit at keeping their customers happy, flitting from table to table to keep glasses near overflowing with beer and liquor. Intoxicated guests were happy guests, and the happier they were the more they spent. In the midst of all the enthusiasm and zest, however, was one patron who remained wholly indifferent to the festive atmosphere.

One waitress skittered away from a lecher who grew bolder by the glass full, using her obligations to tend to the other guests as the perfect excuse to politely - and firmly - shut down his advances. In her eagerness to maintain her busy appearance, she nearly absentmindedly filled someone's glass and only caught herself when it was snatched away. She sputtered an apology for the spilled beer, quickly realizing she nearly made an error that could cost her job.

Unlike the rest of the patron this one was stone cold sober, and for good reason. He was only a kid, no older than fourteen or fifteen, and the bar had strict rules against serving drinks to children. Unlike the other wily teenagers of the village who tried to smooth talk their way into a pint, this one was more interested in engorging himself with food. He devoured everything he ordered as if he hadn't eaten in days and hardly looked up from his meal. "It's nearing your bedtime, ain't it kid?" she quipped as she picked up a plate piled with chicken bones. He cut his gaze toward her, bright green eyes that contained both a sea of angst and the kind of detached iciness that was usually seen only in the hardened barbarians from up north. Or in soldiers.

The waitress faltered, giving him time to respond, "I'll take another plate of the spicy chicken. And can you get them to make it actually spicy this time? Might as well be ketchup."

The boy licked his fingers as she nodded and scurried away, surveying the room and noting how unremarkable the scene was compared to some of the other hijinks he had seen in his travels. This village, among others, would be bustling with merriment for days to come, and he wanted nothing to do with it. He was only there to fill his belly and sleep in a real bed for the first time in over a week.

The boy's gaze settled briefly on one rather loud man, generous in his inebriation, as a few servers quickly brought freshly poured beers. As they clinked their glasses together a plate of steaming chicken coated in a dangerously red sauce was placed in front of him and stole his attention away. The pungent scent of the spices made his mouth water and for a moment he looked nearly as excited as the rest of the guests.

"You should call it a night. You need your rest, and we don't normally let kids in here without a parent anyway, especially at this hour." To the woman's growing annoyance he not only didn't respond but he waved her away dismissively. This was a kid with no manners who clearly didn't like being told what to do.
Kao's CharactersShow
Akari KotaruJouninIwagakure no Sato Team 18 Jousai [color=#1fb8a3]
Komiya ShizuoSpecial Jounin Iwagakure no Sato [color=#177ba6]
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Akari Kanehara Akari clan elder [color=#80A0FF]
Sakata KannaIwagakure Councilwoman [color=#3DA43B]
Hazuki Shuran Jinchuuriki researcher [color=#E854C0]
Enkouten Kaizen Iwagakure councilman [color=#C65871]

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Toshi
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[Plotboard] The Bridge on the River Onan

Post by Toshi » Fri May 17, 2019 12:15 pm

With a clink and a cheer the fisherman and his thin eyed friend drank with a wordless satisfaction. The two eyed each other with looks of friendly competition as their adam's apples bobbed with each gulp, neither willing to be the first to back down. After several long moments the group of men standing around the dueling companions pounded the tables in tandem and howled their support for one side or the other. The music filling the tavern seemed to appropriately swell with the mounting tension of the abrupt competition, each competitor's face growing more determined with each drought.

Finally the black haired man faltered, sputtering beer on himself and the floor. The crowd cheered and applauded as the burly fisherman arrogantly finished the last of his drink and slammed the mug onto a table before raising his arms in victory. The same infectious, booming laugh filled the room as the fisherman roughly but affectionately clapped his still coughing opponent on the back.

"You're not half bad for a little runt!" he said as the pale skinned man smiled sheepishly, his eyes all but forced shut by drink. "Maybe in a few more years you'll be ale to keep up!"

The black haired man finished the last of his beer with what dignity he could muster, sighing with satisfaction before planting his glass next tot he fisherman's. "If I keep drinking like this I'll be dead before morning," he said, wiping his mouth on a sleeve. "I don't know how you do it, my friend."

The fisherman patted his cauldron of a stomach and shouted, "Years of practice!" His body shook with more booming laughter, sending nearly the whole tavern into an uproar of cheers and jeers.

A nearby waitress making her rounds offered to fill each man's glass, and most took her up on the offer with impaired enthusiasm. The black haired man politely refused and half wobbled half walked towards the back of the inn with the look of a man who needed to relieve himself. He nearly bumped into a trio of rather intimidating looking men as they entered the bustling establishment on his way out, politely offering the right of way before wandering out of the room. The three strangers stopped near the bar, their dark eyes scanning the crowd with a grim efficiency.

"What can we offer ya?" the barkeep asked in a friendly tone. "Our spicy Hinomoto Chicken is a local favori-"

Before the barkeep could finish his offer the closest of the trio to the bar drew a heavy steel club and smashed it onto the counter, shattering a few glasses and splintering the stained wood with a violent crack. The room slowly simmered before growing silent, the band's music abruptly stopping mid-chorus at the sound. The man with the club stepped forward with a deliberate slowness, allowing the tense silence to linger. The stranger towered a full head over most of the inn's patrons. He wore dull iron armor reminiscent of ancient samurai with thin metal plates banded together by worn leather. His face rested with a comfortable indomitability, his receding hairline giving way to a large, wide brow. Dark eyes nestled in sunken sockets as the man's gaze wandered from patron to patron with a calculating intelligence.

"Good evening," he said evenly, almost politely. "Sorry to interrupt but you'll all be happy to hear that me and my compatriots are here to offer the opportunity of a lifetime."

The patrons muttered in confusion as the man pulled a chair away from the bar and sat in it with a casual grace, facing the crowd once more. "We're looking for able bodied young men to join our cause. The only cause that matters in these parts, really. You river hicks should be honored to serve the Haruko Brotherhood in any way you can."

Several of the inn's patrons made a move for the door at hearing the man's affiliation. Without a word the two thugs accompanying the armored speaker stood in front of the room's only entrance and exit, fingering the brutal looking clubs at their hips. The patrons slowly backed away as the leader continued speaking.

"I'm not a man who likes to repeat himself so listen closely. We don't want to have to ruin all this fun by smashing some heads in. I'm busy, you're busy, we're all very busy people. So here's the deal: round up a few dozen, uh... 'volunteers' we'll call them, before the break of morning. Me and my men will be waiting just off the northern gate and if I don't see a fresh batch of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed recruits marching up to join us, well..."

The man held up the heavy club and gave it a few test swings, standing from the chair. He slowly walked over to one of the waitresses, who looked too terrified to breathe so much as move away, and smiled down at her.

The armored man rested the club on her shoulder and said, "Let's just say if that happens, we're going to be very disappointed."
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[Plotboard] The Bridge on the River Onan

Post by Kao » Sat May 18, 2019 2:13 am

His mouth was delightfully on fire. The boy's lips tingled as he tore into the chicken, tearing the meat away from the bone with loud slurping and chewing noises. The sudden sound of crashing followed by sudden silence wasn't enough to distract him from his much improved meal. His attention was torn away from the food only when a lone voice started speaking and he finally recognized the situation for what it was. There were only three of them, and although the man speaking referred to the crowd as 'river hicks,' there wasn't anything remarkable about the men. The apparent leader - a huge man who was well over six feet tall - wore some sort of samurai armor, but it looked so dated and dull that the boy wondered if any old sword could pierce it.

The teenager watched as several of the guests bristled at the name 'Haruko Brotherhood;' some even attempted to leave but were blocked by the two sidekicks near the door. There was no need to rack his brain for information about the group. There were dozens of organized crime groups throughout Rock Country, most of which Iwagakure ignored until they became an issue. The Haruko Brotherhood didn't ring any bells, and no one had mentioned the group to him despite the fact that he had a recently developed tendency to take on jobs that required a bit of scouting throughout the country along with the occasional bandit cleanup.

He had recently finished one of these jobs, in fact. It was a boring endeavor that hardly involved dismemberment or murder or anything fun. Planting seeds of distrust in an already fractured group of criminals was a cake walk. A few broken minds and bleeding bodies were all that was required of him, and his targets essentially took care of the rest on their own. The entire job should have taken at least a week and a half but the shinobi managed to get it done in a few days. Akari Kotaru was nothing if not efficient.

Kotaru looked on as a man a full head and a half shorter than the bat-carrying thug stood to his feet, his legs unsteady due to alcohol and fear. "We don't want any trouble from you and your men," he started, his voice breathy and wavering as he looked between the armored man and the waitress. He was several tables away from the thugs, and despite his boldness to stand and speak he made no effort to move closer. "We're simple folk, farmers and fishermen. Not fighters. You don't need us."

'Bad idea,' Kotaru thought as his gaze went back to the leader. He didn't seem like a man who could be reasoned with. The boy gave a small sigh and began to finish off the last of his spicy chicken, savoring every fiery bite just in case this interruption ruined any chance of a third plate.
Kao's CharactersShow
Akari KotaruJouninIwagakure no Sato Team 18 Jousai [color=#1fb8a3]
Komiya ShizuoSpecial Jounin Iwagakure no Sato [color=#177ba6]
Important NPCsShow
Akari Kanehara Akari clan elder [color=#80A0FF]
Sakata KannaIwagakure Councilwoman [color=#3DA43B]
Hazuki Shuran Jinchuuriki researcher [color=#E854C0]
Enkouten Kaizen Iwagakure councilman [color=#C65871]

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Toshi
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[Plotboard] The Bridge on the River Onan

Post by Toshi » Sat May 18, 2019 11:26 am

The armored leader continued smiling down at the terrified waitress as one of the villagers shakily found the courage to speak. The other patrons shifted their gaze from their trembling friend to the man with the club, some adopting defiant expressions while others grew pale and worried for their countryman. As the farmer tried to reason with the thugs the leader idly raised his club and almost gently ran it along the brunette curls that fell past her shoulders, the man's eyes fixated on the way they bounced and shined in the inn's warm light.

The woman closed her eyes, trying to stifle the tears that threatened to spill over onto her cheeks. Still she dared not move as the farmer finished speaking.

"There's always one," the thug said matter-of-factly. He patted the waitresses's cheek and added, "I'll be right back," before pulling away from her and turning to the farmer.

The thug pointed his club at the outspoken farmer as he slowly walked over to him, each footstep deliberately loud against the silence that had once again fallen over the inn. The villagers standing near the farmer slowly backed away from the approaching man like a school of fish fleeing a shark. What confidence the farmer had mustered to speak up in the first place had all but abandoned him and the man could only stare up at the armored thug towering over him.

"I like a man who's self aware," the leader said, raising his club and pressing the end of it into the farmer's chest. The shorter villager shot a glance down at the heavy, brutal looking weapon before turning his eyes back up to the man holding it. "You're right. We don't need you. And 'simple' is a little gracious if we're being honest."

The two men guarding the door chuckled at the insult, but otherwise remained quiet. The armored man began twisting the club methodically, pressing the blunt steel harder into the farmer's sternum. "If it were up to me we wouldn't be having this conversation at all. Not the talking type, myself. More of the pillage and burn you inside of your homes variety of fella."

The farmer grew paler as the thug spoke, thick beads of sweat beginning to dot his wrinkled forehead. The leader smiled at the villager's distress. "Lucky for you and all these fine folk here, the boss man's nicer than me. He sees potential in you. I think he's batshit crazy but hey the guy signs my checks so here I am, telling you how things are going to shake out all calm like."

After another long, tense moment the thug pulled his club away from the farmer and clapped him on the shoulder. He moved to turn away from the farmer but suddenly turned and drove an armored fist into the man's face. The farmer was nearly lifted off his feet from the force of the punch as he stumbled backwards, crashing into a table and sending it and everything resting on it toppling over. There were gasps and screams as the farmer fell to a bloody heap on the floor, motionless with limbs sticking out at awkward angles.

A few brave souls made to move against the thug but were held back by wiser friends. Many shared a similar expression of outrage intermingled with hopelessness. The leader, his own expression hard with anger and frustration, pointed his club down at the bloodied farmer and said, "This isn't why we're here. We're better than this, so I'm going to tell you one. More. Time."

The man opened his mouth to speak but was interrupted by the sound of someone chewing loudly. He tried to speak again but again, the sound of someone gnawing at meat and bone threw him off his rhythm. The leader let out a slow sigh before turning around, glaring at the source of the noise.

His cold, dark eyes would rest on a boy seated at a table near the bar. The youth's back was turned to the thug and he appeared to be completely ignoring the situation unfolding around him in favor of his meal. Petty frustration flitted across the thug's face as he walked over to where the boy was sitting. Without another word the man brought his club down on the child's plate of food, smashing the chicken into an unsatisfying mess and sending cutlery clattering to the floor.

Towering over the youth the man grimaced. "Are we boring you, kid?" he asked, his voice quiet and sharp. "Because I can liven up this party real quick."
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[Plotboard] The Bridge on the River Onan

Post by Kao » Sat May 18, 2019 6:06 pm

So close. He was so close to finishing his meal but just as he thought, there wouldn't be a third plate. One moment he was eying the last four chicken wings in front of him, and in the next food and forks were flying across the table and onto the floor. The room tensed further as a few patrons gasped in alarm, and worried and furious eyes settled on a kid that had nothing to do with the situation. But the armored leader's display of force discouraged anyone from intervening, even for the sake of a child.

Kotaru paused, hands poised over the table as he looked down at the mess in front of him. Chicken bones had fallen into his lap, staining his clothes with the dark red, delicious sauce. His hands slowly clenched as he tilted his head; his stare first moved to the steel club that did the damage then up to the man wielding it, tilting his head all the way back to view the man upside down. The thug truly was gigantic, but the boy wasn't someone that was intimidated by the height of a mere man; he had fought much larger and far more terrifying enemies. His black tongue ran across his sauce-stained lips and then his features twisted into a scowl. "I was eating that, you stupid simian fuck." His words were slow and deliberate, resembling a hiss at the end as he barely swallowed his quickly bubbling rage.

He could almost hear one his best friend's advice, almost feel the hand on his shoulder that had so often held him back from acting rashly and making moves fueled by anger. Almost.

"Yanno, I was doing you a favor by ignoring your bullshit intimidation tactics. I don't care about you, your cronies, or any of the twenty-one other people in here. What I did care about," he continued as he grabbed the steel club and roughly pushed it away from the table, "was my fucking food." The chair clattered noisily to the floor as he suddenly stood to glare up at the armored gang member, his head still tilted quite far back due to their height difference. In a different situation it may have been humorous, but the onlookers knew this was no laughing matter. A few of them looked as though they wanted to grab Kotaru and usher him away to safety, but no one dared move against someone in the Haruko Brotherhood.

"You're right though. Common street rats bore me and I don't usually bother to exterminate them. Not worth my time. So pay for my ruined food and be on your way and we'll call it even."
Kao's CharactersShow
Akari KotaruJouninIwagakure no Sato Team 18 Jousai [color=#1fb8a3]
Komiya ShizuoSpecial Jounin Iwagakure no Sato [color=#177ba6]
Important NPCsShow
Akari Kanehara Akari clan elder [color=#80A0FF]
Sakata KannaIwagakure Councilwoman [color=#3DA43B]
Hazuki Shuran Jinchuuriki researcher [color=#E854C0]
Enkouten Kaizen Iwagakure councilman [color=#C65871]

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Toshi
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[Plotboard] The Bridge on the River Onan

Post by Toshi » Sat May 18, 2019 6:50 pm

Disbelief flashed across the thug's face as the young boy stared up at him, less terrified than expected. Disbelief turned into downright confusion when the child insulted him before roughly pushing the man's club away. An almost amused smile touched the leader's lips as the boy stood up, defiantly stared up at him and demanded that he pay for the ruined meal. If the patrons looked horrified before, they looked like they'd seen death in the flesh as they all watched Kota stand up to the thug. Even the two men guarding the door looked incredulous, shocked beyond finding any amusement in the outburst.

Several long, tense moments passed before the armored man let out a chuckle. That chuckle slowly built into laughter as he stepped away from the youth, eyeing him up with something close to appraisal. He idly spun the steel club in his hand and paced back and forth, clearly deep in thought.

"I'll give you this, kid," he said, casually gesturing the club in Kota's direction. "You got some truly sizeable balls to speak to me like that."

The armored thug looked over at the men standing near the door and nodded his head at the boy. "Looks like we've got our first volunteer!" he said with mock enthusiasm. "It'll take some doin' but we'll break you in, boy. And I'm going to enjoy every second of it."

The two, shorter thugs took the hint and started walking towards Kota. One of them drew a steel club while the other unwound a length of rope. Without a word the one with the rope tried to grab the child to force his hands behind his back.
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