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Niro
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Post by Niro » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:27 pm

Tatsuo awoke extremely early in his tent as his clone dispelled itself. The memories of the night and the feeling of its chakra remerging with his own was enough to rouse him from his slumber. He stepped out of his tent and towards the fire, letting the flames the clone had kept burning warm his everything. The sky overhead was still black and filled with stars while the horses kept warm by lying by the fire and huddling together. There was no immediate danger but his clone had finally been so bored it had decided to dispel itself. Tatsuo opened up the cooler of brains, fat, and meat and grabbed some of the boar meat and bear fat.

The Bannin moved to the fire with his bounty and found the pan from last night. He placed everything within it while he fetched two tin mugs and plates. Once found, Tatsuo placed several chunks of bear fat in each mug and sat them by the fire. The cube would render into oil by the heat of the fire. Tatsuo took out the boar meat and cut it thin like bacon before tossing it into the pan with a small amount of the bear fat for added flavor.

By the time Maru woke up, he would find Tatsuo eating breakfast and sipping from a tin cup. He bit into a slice of bacon before picking up and handing the boy his own separate plate and motioning him to sit next to him, a second mug for him already prepared.

"Sleep well?"
#MakeIwaGreatAgain
NameVillageRankTeam
Kosuke [color=#DC143C]Miracle CountryC-rank
Tatsuo [color=#940839]IwaBanninTeam 18 Jousai
Kinomichi [color=limegreen]IwaGenin

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Post by ShinobiTruth » Thu Nov 21, 2019 6:55 pm

Iwamaru rose a bit later than Tatsuo but still early enough that the sun had not yet crested the horizon. The chuunin had decided prudently to simply sleep in his clothing. The weather had been cold enough and his cloak and blankets thick enough that he'd had no concern for perspiration or anything of the sort whilst he slept. The sharp morning air hit his nostrils and snapped him awake. Quickly locating his shoes (which he'd made sure were free of snow and had been kept under his blankets so as to keep them from being ice cold when he awoke), he quickly put them on and exited his tent. Not at all surprised by what he saw, he approached the fire.

Maru nodded in thanks for the cup and the plate, both still steaming from the heat of the fire. He immediately bit into the boar meat, its fattiness a welcome taste after all of the traveling they had done the day before. "Well enough, Tatsuo-san," he confirmed as he took a seat. "I take it we're on track to meet up with the clan today, correct?"

After taking a few bites of the boar meat, Iwamaru picked up his mug and gave it a sniff and momentarily blinked at the pungent smell that rose from the tin cup. It took him a moment to recall that this was the bear fat. Welp, this was probably the most interesting breakfast he'd ever had. Taking a small sip of the bear fat in the cup, he slurped a small portion of the bear fat into his mouth, which quickly dissolved and melted into his mouth, covering his tongue with its powerful, earthy flavors. It was certainly good, but all of that umami condensed into a small package was like getting his teeth kicked in. Iwamaru took a bite of the boar afterward to try and balance out the earthiness of the bear with the salty fattiness of the bacon.

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Niro
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Post by Niro » Fri Nov 22, 2019 5:25 pm

Tatsuo laughed at the expression on Iwamaru's face after he sipped his drink. It was the same one that everyone else gave him when he first introduced them to it. It was an acquired taste but it was not without its benefits.

"This stuff will power you better than any coffee or energy drink. One of the many uses for lard and a very handy survival trick." Tatsuo commented in between bites of bacon and sips of bear fat oil. He had first been introduced to it by the monks who taught him Metal release. It had been quite some time since his last visit; Iwamaru would probably enjoy being introduced to them as he reminded Tatsuo of some of them.

"Yeah, 'Maru. We should be arriving at the rendezvous by afternoon today." Tatsuo explained as the sun began to crest the horizon and illuminate the forest surrounding them. The horses began to stir and birds begin to chirp around them as the forest came to life. "We'll break down camp after breakfast and get back on the road. Take your time, we've got plenty." He assured Maru then went back to eating his fill of bacon.

Breakfast ended a bit after. Tatsuo took to putting out the fire by dumping snow on it and then moved to resealing the utensils and cooler. It took a good bit of work with the ground being wet and the items having to go atop of a paper scroll. Eventually he figured it out and their rewards from last night were secured. Tatsuo then broke down his own tent; he'd given Iwamaru the task of breaking down his tent and then getting the horses ready. Once done with everything on his part, Tatsuo strode over to Iwamaru to secure his belongings on his horse.

"Ready?"
#MakeIwaGreatAgain
NameVillageRankTeam
Kosuke [color=#DC143C]Miracle CountryC-rank
Tatsuo [color=#940839]IwaBanninTeam 18 Jousai
Kinomichi [color=limegreen]IwaGenin

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Post by ShinobiTruth » Fri Nov 22, 2019 7:53 pm

Iwamaru nodded. "Tell me about it. I feel like it's almost a day's calories in just a single cup," he acknowledged. "I've certainly never tasted anything like it."

Iwamaru would make certain to eat his fill before tending to the horses. He decided to tend to them first since there might be unexpected issues that would pop up with a living being, and such complications were not as likely with inanimate objects. Making sure the horses were properly fed, watered, and saddled, he then turned to his tent. Quickly and neatly folding his blankets and rolling his bedroll, Maru would have his tent disassembled in mere minutes. It wasn't a particularly difficult task. Often times, teardown took less time than setting something up, and erecting and deconstructing a tent was no exception. He would likely already be in the process of securing his cargo to the horse. He knew that there were some unpleasant things he was going to face today, but he knew that running from it would do nothing. He would tackle those unfortunate realities with urgency and conviction.

"Whenever you are, Tatsuo-san," he replied, swinging himself up onto Snowfire. The horse snorted impatiently, and Iwamaru chuckled, patting her on the neck. "It looks like she is, too."

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Post by Niro » Mon Nov 25, 2019 6:51 pm

Tatsuo finished strapping his backpack and other gear onto the back end of the more ornery horse. Surprisingly the beast only snorted once before he swung himself up and into the saddle. He immediately urged the horse onward with his heels and their ride commenced. No snow or rain had fallen around them overnight so the coating of snow on the ground was old, dirty, and littered with the marks of animals that have passed in the night. Tatsuo kept his eyes peeled, just in case anything dangerous had decided they would be fun to hunt.

The duo's trip through the massive coniferous forest that spanned entire regions of the country wasn't without its own natural beauty. They passed by and rode on the lips of ravines, some cut into the forest by natural forces and others testaments to the strength of shinobi who had battle here. Mighty snow-covered mountains loomed in the distance as they made their way to the rendezvous point. The chattering of animals had followed them since they had departed but now, if one listen, they'd find the ambient noises long gone.

Tatsuo dug his heels into his mount and it slowed to a stop. He looked around slowly before knocking out a lengthy yet specific pattern on the tree closest to him. The tension, born from his initial stopping, only increased before finally there was movement along the tree line.

Figures began to move out from behind the trees surrounding them. Lightly tanned men wearing the hide skin clothing of the tribes who made the countryside their homes made themselves known to the two shinobi. A figure, taller and more muscular than his brethren, stepped to the forefront to greet the shinobi. He was bald with striking green eyes, a prominent nose, and thin lips. Dark tattoos could be seen peeking out from underneath the man's long sleeves and around the color of his fur lined Hood.

"Welcome, shinobi. Come with us." The man spoke rather unemotionally, his eyes distant and looking through them rather than at them. "Please, follow us to the village."

Tatsuo immediately knew something was off. The entire situation reeked of something fishy but it wouldn't help him figure out what by immediately jumping down their throats as to what was going on.

"Please, lead the way." Tatsuo told guide while keeping his even. He waited until the man and his kin began to lead them to turn and shoot Iwamaru a look that likely keyed him in that something was wrong. The trip to their modest village was short but upon arrival that feeling of wrong continued to increase.

They were led to a stable by the village member from earlier who waited outside of the stall for them to put their horses away. The stable itself with small, only five stalls in total. The other three were already in use by horses with much darker coats and different proportions than their own. Tatsuo removed his pack before leaving the horse in the stall and strapped it to his own back. He looked around for a moment before looking to Iwamaru.

"There's something they're hiding or they can't talk about. Be on your toes. He'll be taking us to the slaves shortly."
#MakeIwaGreatAgain
NameVillageRankTeam
Kosuke [color=#DC143C]Miracle CountryC-rank
Tatsuo [color=#940839]IwaBanninTeam 18 Jousai
Kinomichi [color=limegreen]IwaGenin

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Post by ShinobiTruth » Tue Nov 26, 2019 5:43 pm

Iwamaru rode in silence along with Tatsuo enjoying the harsh beauty of the Rock Country in the winter. The evergreen trees, ever resilient against winter’s bite, stood tall and unmoved, even in the face of the massive scars left in the land by nature and man alike. It was his first time being so deep into the country still, and it made him start to understand how the parks inside of the village had been constructed. Despite having lived in the village for his entire life, there was a pleasant sense of familiarity he enjoyed being in this forest.

Things, however, quickly turned sour as a more unpleasant truth reared its ugly head. Abruptly coming to a stop, Iwamaru stood by as Tatsuo knocked what he quickly recognized was a large code onto the trunk of a tree. The air became unnaturally still, and as the sounds of movements muffled by snow echoed around them, Snowfire looked to either side. Iwamaru gave the horse a pat on the neck to calm her.

Iwamaru immediately sensed that this was abnormal. Something was clearly amiss. For a tribe that seemed to regularly do business with the village and profit off of it, this man’s tone was rather cold and detached, bordering on antagonistic. A quick look to Tatsuo confirmed it as his eyes caught the Bannin’s look. Casually rolling his shoulders, he followed closely behind the Akari, keeping a sharper eye on his surroundings.

As they were led to the stable to put up their horses, Iwamaru nodded silently at Tatsuo’s warning. He figured the fewer words they had to exchange, the better. If they thought him ignorant and targeted him, it would be something he could use to catch them off-guard. For now, he would continue following Tatsuo’s orders without question.

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Post by Niro » Sat Nov 30, 2019 1:39 pm

The two shinobi of Iwagakure no Sato exited the meager horse stable and were greeted by the bald, stoic clansman who had lead them to the village in the first place. The same detached look lingered on his face as he bowed to the two and held it for a moment. He stood up and turned on his heel to lead them to a large hut outside of an even larger long hall. The hut was poorly put together with the thatched roof barely staying together and cracks everywhere throughout the walls. The entrance to the hut was merely some tanned hide that did nothing to keep the cold out. Tatsuo's mouth drew into a thin line as he stepped up to the hut and looked at the clansman hard. He in turn avoided the man's gaze, instead finding an interesting spot on the ground.

Tatsuo threw open the hide-door and sun light streamed into the hut. Candles lined the walls of the hut providing minuscule amounts of light and warmth but inside was a wriggling mass of poorly cared for people: men, women, children. The bannin took a deep, deep sigh before stepping out, covering the exit, and looking at the man. The look on his face was one of barely restrained rage and for those who didn't usually partake in these missions, it was probably a strange sight to Iwamaru for someone who was buying slaves to be furious with the supplier.

"Y'know..." Tatsuo started speaking with a low, threatening tone. "Iwagakure has standards when it comes to allowing slaving to happen within Rock Country." He began to peel his gloves off and stuff them in the back pocket of his trousers. "Villages that are captured are below a certain standard of living and then once enslaved, proper care is to be given until the product is purchased and picked up. Buyers back home see their slaves as more...pets. Like a dog or a cat. They develop actual emotional attachments and if a slave is treated poorly, like I'm seeing here, they're taken from that master and given a better situation or freed."

"You realize what I'm getting at, right?" Tatsuo went on, staring down the clansman. "Iwagakure will no longer do business with your tribe after what I just saw. The last time I was here, it was different. They were taken care of more than adequately." He began stepping into the man's space and caused him to backpedal into the wall of another hut. Tatsuo shot out his left arm to prevent the man from running and pinning him in place. "So what the fucked happened?" He hissed out.

"A newcomer killed the old chieftain...he'd used magicks we've never seen before. It was submit to his way or die..." The clansman revealed before sliding down the wall and into the snow. "He didn't care which villages we raided or how we housed the slaves. It was do it or die. He only cares to see blood spilled..."

Tatsuo stepped back from the clansman and looked over his shoulder at Iwamaru.

"Go procure us the largest carriage they have and get them loaded onto it. Once they're on, go. Even if I'm not there yet, head for Iwa." He ordered the chuunin while slipping off his backpack. Tatsuo tossed it to the boy before turning to the long hall. It was where this new bastard chieftain was and he had business to take care of.
#MakeIwaGreatAgain
NameVillageRankTeam
Kosuke [color=#DC143C]Miracle CountryC-rank
Tatsuo [color=#940839]IwaBanninTeam 18 Jousai
Kinomichi [color=limegreen]IwaGenin

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Post by ShinobiTruth » Sun Dec 01, 2019 12:53 am

Iwamaru was stepping into a world for which he was wholly unprepared and was participating in a trade that almost immediately brought a foul, putrid taste to his mouth. Iwamaru had been taught about slaves in the academy and had seen some in the streets of the village. As a young child he, of course, had thought nothing of it. His father had treated it as something completely normal, but his mother was different. Though she was one that believed in living a simple, modest life where one minded one's own business, between herself and her son, her sadness and disgust at the slave trade was not hidden. It was one of Iwamaru's earliest memories of his mother, along with her smile and her love of song. She'd always had a beautiful voice, and many of her songs, which danced through the walls of their home, often contained themes of freedom and imagination, like birds and petals floating on a gentle spring wind.

And now, as he walked amongst these tattered ragtag huts and tents of this group of degenerates that made their livings on stripping people of their own free will, Iwamaru found a feeling in his heart beginning to crystallize, to harden and take form. Of all of the job duties he'd ever performed, this was the only one he could imagine himself refusing moving forward. His hatred of what this place represented was on the most basic, fundamental level, enough where he had to be careful to not allow it to spill over to hating the people who worked in it. Even with the uncertainty that Tatsuo mentioned, he felt the grim despair in the air. This was a place that represented the death of decency and hope. He knew that the life in the village was better from a material standpoint, yes, but money was just that: money. It could be trampled underfoot, broken, burned, melted. Free will, and the capacity to exercise that free will, were not things that could be bought or bartered for... not truly, at least. How many of these people were really criminals or savages? How many of them had been simple people trying to live their lives? Could some of them have even been happy with the lives before that had been ruthlessly shattered, regardless of how little they had materially? He knew that he didn't know everything, and he was going to have questions... but the notion alone was anathema to the chuunin. That would never change.

They walked into one of the larger huts, which seemed to literally be standing by the grace of whatever gods they prayed to. Iwamaru was confused for a moment. 'Where would they be keeping the people? Why is this camp so empty?' he wondered grimly. Tatsuo's quick observations soon answered that question, and the sight of what he saw was so upsetting that he literally felt pain in his heart. They... they were being held underground, crammed into tiny spaces like literal animals, and he could see even from his vantage point that none of them appeared to be properly fed or clothed. Part of him hoped that Tatsuo saw the same injustice as Maru did, but from the words that soon followed, he didn't have much reason to hold out hope. Did he not understand the hypocrisy of what he spoke of? It was possible that Tatsuo was simply focusing on his duties and putting his personal feelings aside. He would have to do much the same, as much as it sickened him.

The tribesman's blank expression finally came alive with desperation and fear as Tatsuo finally tightened the screws... A newcomer? Whoever he was, he sounded brutal. Maru was hoping he might be allowed to accompany Tatsuo and make a lesson of the man, but his wish would remain unfulfilled, instead assigning to the only task that Iwamaru truly wanted to refuse. 'Change won't happen through insubordination, Maru. The most you can do is make sure to treat these people as humanely as possible,' he thought to himself, even as Tatsuo relayed his instructions. "Yessir," he replied firmly, making certain to answer quickly. Perhaps it was better to simply keep these thoughts to himself for now.

Turning around and exiting the hut, Maru quickly scanned his surroundings, looking for the carriage in question. He knew that if he had any hope of completing this task before he lurched from self-disgust, he would have to act with a powerful sense of urgency. Moving over to the stable, he found a large carriage that was large enough to house the passengers in question. He refused, even for a moment, to allow himself to consider them as slaves. He was even more aggravated that the carriage in question was covered merely by a canvas covering. This was the dead of winter. These people would freeze to death if they left in that! Quickly turning, he sought the stablemaster. He would likely have large animal pelts they could place over and in the carriage.

Much like the tribesmen that led them to the camp, the stablemaster was shaved bald and was covered in a number of tattoos, sporting a large mustache and beard. Looking up, he saw the glint in Iwamaru's eyes and immediately became nervous. "What can I do for you, shinobi?" he asked, trying not to sound as scared as he was.

Iwamaru's extraordinary patience was remarkably smaller than normal. "Bring me all of your animal pelts. I'm going to cover and furnish the carriage with them," he ordered, giving no room for argument in his tone.

Both to and against his merit, the stablemaster objected. "We worked hard for those pelts, shinobi. How can a single carriage of slaves possibly be worth-"

Lifting his foot slightly, Iwamaru stomped the ground, and the stablemaster fell over as the ground beneath him shook, the ground around Maru's foot clearly caved and cracked. Iwamaru's tone was cold, even, and had a clear sense of restraint. "Let's get one thing straight. I don't know you well enough to hate you. But I hate what you and your clan do. The only reason why I am not actively disassembling and pulverizing your entire livelihood with my bare hands at this very moment is because my loyalty to my village is stronger than my loathing of your work's heritage. Am I the person you really wanna argue with? If the answer is no, then it means that you're smart. And if you're smart, then shut up and follow my orders."

The look of terror on the stablemaster's face, along with the furious nodding, officially ended any further need for discussion. As the stablemaster was gathering the pelts, he would walk toward the center of the camp and secure food for the passengers. This was going to be a long trip back.
"Sir, one of the Shinobi is coming to see you."

In the large, clearly marked tent, the new tribe chieftain atop a large chair crafted of fine pelts and the desecrated bones and skulls of various animals slaughtered by their hunting parties. A large, hearth burned in the tent, the smoke rising up and exiting via a steeple with vents sewn into the top of the ten. Aside from the hearth, there were other torches that stood on lampstands that provided light, but the chieftain war a large hooded cloak, his face and features generally hidden. The sickening sound of slithering and chitinous clicking and cracking echoed momentarily through the silence that followed the scout's announcement.

The filthy grin on the chieftain's face could practically be heard on his face even though it remained obscured under the hood. "Of course he is. Likely coming to complain about the 'quality' of the product. Completely ignorant to his village's own double standard. Remain calm and don't make any stupid movements. If you do, and he doesn't kill you for it, I will."

His guards swallowed quietly. The tension would be palpable as Tatsuo stepped into the tent. "Welcome, Shinobi-san," he said rather jovially, standing and spreading his arms wide, showing clothing much like the tribe's, comprised mainly of pelts and skins. "Did you see the shipment? We increased our yield by fifty percent from last season."

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