Noboru - A Shinobi's Tale: The Lost Crow

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Description: "The young crow fled home. Lost to time she has survived. A Mountain brings hope." Will the young crow survive her encounter with the mountain, or will fate finally claim her?

Peck. Peck. Peck.

'Cooo~. Coo~.'

A few days ago, Seori had done it. A fellow student had dared her to imitate a pigeon, and, after a few tries, she had managed to not only do a very convincing pigeon (or dove, no one was quite sure), she even managed to lure a pigeon in with an offer of food, after the group of students had disbanded.

"C'mon, shoo. I don't have any more food." Now, she's regretting it. Five pigeons peck at the ground expectantly, surrounding the girl as she attempts to walk from class. She pauses, adjusting the teal scarf protectively wrapped around her neck and underneath her jacket in an attempt to ward off the cold, only to see another two have joined.

She's surrounded.

There is only one way. Seori breathes in.

The raucous call of a crow scatters the pigeons in a wave of panicked feathers, leaving Seori to move the scarf to mask the lower half of her face. She rubs her gloved hands and sticks them into the pockets of her patched winter jacket.

"Gonna have to refill the kerosene heater before long..." She's probably going to need to get another scarf, too. A normal one that's nice and fluffy and warm.

"Hungry pigeons Coo

Winter's breath, chill the evening.
Fear the young crow's kaw."
The words come rumbling down quietly from above, the speaker's Japanese holding an oddly folksy, even archaic quality. Not the voice of a student, but an adult. An adult who is apparently standing on the gently sloping roof of one of Gedo High's scattered side buildings. But, maybe that isn't too horribly strange. Who else but an eccentric would spout such spontaneous poetry?
If Seori were to look up in the direction of the voice, she would see the building in question. a squat, dull grey lump of a structure with a gently domed roof of fresh black shingles. And standing upon that roof, hands clasped behind his back and midnight blue coat fluttering in the chill breeze, is a powerfully built gaijin in a militaristic shinobi costume. Between the shaggy golden-brown hair, ruined left eye, and silk mask covering the lower half of his face, the figure could have stepped from just about any ninja-themed manga in existence. But, of course, this ninja happens to be here, in the flesh, and his undamaged eye is fixed sharply on Seori, glacial and blue.
Was he standing there just a moment ago? And where are the kids that normally hang out on that particular roof?
Tilting his head only slightly, the hulking shinobi seems to glance past the young student, cold gaze fixing on the spot so recently vacated by her feathered friends. It is anyone's guess why he might be studying the landing zone, but it has the unsettling side effect of pointing that milky white eye at Seori. It is as if it is peering into her. Through her. Seeing things unknown and unknowable. But surely not. Surely it is only an eye, tragically damaged and now useless.
Surely just an eye.

There's something very specific in how Seori reacts to the quiet murmur of a haiku on a winter's breeze. Noboru's cloudy gaze may see the way the young girl's chi starts reacting, leaking into the bottom obscured parts of the cloth around her neck. Condensing it. Reforming it.

This bodily response stops as soon as those dark pupils spot Noboru, relaxing and releasing back into the body. Even if she regards Noboru with the brief suspicion of someone feeling cornered, her body's reaction seems more on an automatic level.

A one-eyed ninja. A large one, with a hair and eye color one wouldn't expect. Seori knows better than to ever disregard a person on the basis of such attributes, especially if they seem to be ones that would suggest a disability. But why is he here?

The girl then dons on a wide grin, and begins lightly clapping her gloved hands. "Ah, a poet? Did ya do that right on the spot? That's impressive." Like night and day, she turns on her slight accent, assuming her guise as a country mouse in a school of city slickers. "I don't think I know your face at all- maybe Gedo finally got that new gym teacher? And to have that person be a ninja? That'd be a plus, I think."The man is posing almost akin to a gargoyle or a- "I didn't think Gedo had some komainu statues installed. Though usually those come in two. Where's your pair?" She tilts her head, a beaded tendril of hair hanging in the air.

"It would be difficult," Noboru rumbles with grinding solemnity, "to know the face of one in a mask." The words are stated so matter-of-factly that it might be a deadpan joke, or perhaps not. Either way, at least half of the man's face is exposed, and with that scar and his ruined eye, it isn't much of a mask.
Tracking his good eye back onto Seori's face, the big shinobi takes in her smile, the tilt of her head. And as he thinks, the freezing wind blows past his perch, ruffling his shaggy hair and tossing his open coat flapping to the side. Beneath it can be seen a weapon harness, blackened buckles and straps blending well against his tight undershirt. It is a strange accessory for a gym teacher.
"I am Noboru." The big man states, treading forward with surprising silence for such a bulky guy, "Of the Miyama clan." Stepping off of the roof, he drops the ten feet to the ground and lands with a crunch of gravel, hands removing themselves from behind his back. They are large hands, thick fingered and encased in tight black gloves. As he curls the right into a fist, his knuckles pop with a series of ominous cracks.
"The legacy of another is worn around your neck." As these words rumble from beneath his mask, Noboru shifts his right foot forward. His stance is loose, right fist casually raised, shoulder forward, and open left hand held low and easy. Still, it is very clearly a fighting stance. His icy blue eye tracks up and down the young woman, before his face turns and she is once more presented with the blank white of the other.
"Come, young crow. Shed your disguise. Prove your strength and earn hope."

COMBATSYS: Seori has started a fight here.

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Seori            0/-------/-------|

COMBATSYS: Noboru has joined the fight here.

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Noboru           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0            Seori

"Ah, so you're not a statue after all. Or a... gym teacher. Though I guess Gedo's kinda different, so I'm open for surprises!" He's not falling for her questions. There's no indication he's alone or with someone else. Noboru. Miyama clan. Come on. Think! Seori's brain draws through the scant amount of information her father provided her on other clans. It doesn't ring a bell. The only ones she knew about where the stray shinobi that tried to attack her father. Old enemies bearing old grudges from days before she was even born. Their actions didn't necessarily reflect on the clans they were from; Tetsuji was very clear on that.

It dawns on Seori that her knowledge of clans is ridiculously lopsided. A clan with a gaijin as distinctive is this man is? She'd think she'd know!

'The legacy of another is worn around your neck.' The words rile up a deep sort of pride in the young ninja; she's forced to bite the side of her mouth to avoid betraying any sort of reaction beyond maybe a wince. The stifled reaction may leak into how the girl's chi flows; even if she is usually not exactly the perfect image of the hot-headed and passionate youth that frequent Gedo High, she is still young. She's still relatively inexperienced. Her emotions are still that of any unsure teenager.

The good news is that her public guise has held firm. She is not of the Ryouhara clan, nor is she of the Hirano family. She is simply Seori Kouhara, a member of a stray family of one type or another that managed to get ahold of a weapon of a dead clan. Maybe she's a ninja. Maybe she's just someone who likes the general mystique of one.

She can fight him safely here, regardless. A few yells and any students within earshot would take what was a display of prowess as something far more threatening- not that her pride would allow for that. She's new here, after all.

"I guess word gets around, but I didn't think it'd be that quickly. You're not taking this, though." Chi flows into the teal fabric of the scarf, reacting like a live current. What was physical matter flows from neck and body to Seori's hands, steadying into metal shapes of the kyoketsu shoge- a flattened ring and a hooked blade, both joined by a length of fine chain. "But if you're asking just for a spar, all you really need to do is ask." She starts spinning the metal ring side of her chain weapon clockwise as she speaks, an easy smile on her lips.

She can't let down her disguise. He still could be here to kill her. She needs to test out what this man is truly made of, if only to see what she'll need to do if this match goes from a test of strength to a death battle. First- just how quick is that large frame?

Seori's foot catches the length of chain just above the hoop, snapping it counterclockwise. As it swings violently at the top of its arc, Seori releases a length of chain, allowing the metal ring to sail towards Noboru.

COMBATSYS: Noboru blocks Seori's Uzumaki Reverse.

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Noboru           0/-------/-======|-------\-------\0            Seori

"Your strength will decide what is taken." Noboru rumbles calmly, seeming vastly unconcerned by the distant sounds of students in play and conversation. His bad eye remains angled to her, head tilted as if looking away, giving her privacy to prepare. His hulking form has fallen still. From him can be felt a spreading tranquility, a slowing, and matching of himself to the stones beneath his feet.
The young girl's chain whips through the air, gaining speed, and the older shinobi lets out a long breath.
As the ring rockets toward Noboru's still form, he twists his shoulder and lashes out with a single, pin-point blow of his right fist. Knuckles meet ring, and the forward momentum of the weapon is halted, chain going slack from lack of motion.
Did he just punch her kyoketsu shoge? What are his bones even made of?
As the metal ring begins to drop toward the ground, Noboru ends his stillness with a sudden muscular surge of motion. Where some fighters blur with speed, and others move with fluid grace, the hulking shinobi seems to shoulder reality out of the way. Through sheer explosive power he hurls himself across the distance separating him from Seori and twists his shoulders around to the right, left foot slamming to the pavement between the younger shinobi's feet. Toes digging into the cement with unreal strength, he brings his body to a sudden halt, transferring all of his forward momentum into a rising palm strike, apparently with the intent of lunging his left hand straight through Seori's stomach. Or, well, that might be how a teenager sees it.
"HRRRRUGH!" comes the grunt from deep in his stomach, likely the closest thing to a battle shout the brute has.

COMBATSYS: Noboru successfully hits Seori with Fierce Punch.

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Noboru           1/-------/=======|======-\-------\0            Seori

Noboru's words chill Seori. It was one thing when she was fighting Ryuko and Kazuki- even that assassin she stopped wasn't interested in taking anything from her.

Just focus on the fight. She'll defeat this man, show him just what this little crow is made of. No one will help her. It'll be quick. He suspects nothing of her, he'll underestimate her and then-


He punched her weapon. Metal met fist. Bones and cartilage *don't* make that sound.
Wait, just how did he...? oh god he's coming at her dodgedodgedodgedodg- NO BLOCK he's too fast NO DODGE A BODY CAN'T MOVE THAT FAST

She tried to to dodge. It was a real\, actual effort, a twisting of a body used to evasion. She was trying to evade his foot. That was the plan. Slip to the side, don't try to go back from his body.

A fist that should have felt air feels cloth and flesh, the small body of the little Ryouhara ninja is thrown back by Noboru's left palm, rolling across the pavement. The metal of the ninkou snaps back to cloth, wrapping around the girl's arms as her tumbling slows to a stop.

Just because she was already taking Noboru seriously does not mean she was prepared for *this*.

A couple of Gedo students notice the scuffle, and react appropriately: by giving proper encouragement for Seori to get back up and proudly prove the Gedo High name. Their involvement stops there; this is a matter between warriors. Besides, why watch a streaming video of a fight when decent one's starting up right here? Sure, things might be a little lopsided right now, but that's how Gedo High rolls! "C'mon, ninja girl! Get back up!"
"Get some pigeons to attack him!"
"Vultures would kickass."
"Dude, there are no vultures here!"
"I'm just sayin'. Don't judge."

He's going to take it. He's going to take the Koumei Hagoromo. He can't have it. It's hers. It's all she has, aside from a doll and a few scraps of days gone by. Her dad, who had even less, gave it to her. Entrusted her. She coughs bile as she staggers upwards, steadies herself. "... Sorry, but you're not taking it." Her voice is soft to avoid being overheard by any students nearby. They can't interfere. There goes the mask; one could almost hear it tumbling at the raising ninja's feet. The way the girl stares at Noboru is something raw, a deep pride and hard will cut hastily from rough cloth. She really is a young crow when compared to Seishirou, but she's Ryouhara.

She slouches forward and moves quickly, blue, teal, and black admist pale skin. Her ninkou isn't operating. It's still wrapped around one arm. No, if Noboru looks, he'll see Seori's chi moving to the pointed fingers of one hand\, arcing upwards to jab at the bend of the his shoulder. If that blue-grey chi manages to get connect into his flesh, the effect is akin to water splashing away from a rock. There'd be a short stab of pain as chakra in the immediate area is disrupted and pushed away\, leaving a hollow numbness where nerves should fire.


COMBATSYS: Noboru blocks Seori's Horou.

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Noboru           1/-------/=======|=======\-------\0            Seori

Noboru has punched through brick walls. His fists have crumbled cement. His grip has crumpled steel. To many clans, his display of force against the young girl would be looked down upon. A barbaric way to treat one who is still coming in to her skills. But the Miyama, though small, have always been a hard clan. Silent and stern as the mountain they live upon.
As Seori is sent tumbling away, the iron shinobi slowly retracts his hand, bringing both gloved palms slowly together. As they touch, he breathes in, his muscles relaxing. Though his eyes do not close, he seems to take the brief moment afforded to him to once more center himself, the ripples of his explosive activity calming as the energies around him settle back into their natural state. Once more he sinks into a loose stance, feet shoulder width apart and palms pressed together before his face. The taunts of the nearby students wash over him, having less effect than the wind that ripples his coat.
"Your will is strong." Noboru murmurs back to the girl's defiant challenge, accepting her refusal with simple stoicism. The gaze of his icy eye has not warmed as it tracks her rushing approach. He seems, focused. Centered. He does not employ the frantic dodging and complicated signing of a ninja. He is, something else. Something that becomes clear as Seori's fingers dart in past his waiting palms, and drive into the meet of his shoulder.
Striking Noboru is not unlike stubbing her fingers against a boulder. It is perhaps fortunate that she wasn't trying to outright punch him. As it stands, her fingers thump against his shoulder with little physical effect, though the chi that drives forward into his chakra network yields an interesting discovery.
Noboru Miyama has very little personal chi. Though his chakra network is healthy and vital, the energy reserve behind it is minuscule at best. The warrior's great strength and unnaturally solid bones are not chi enforced. They are trained. But deeper,further down, there is something else. Something that feels off.
The scrappy crow's attack blasts through his shoulder joint with ease, seeming to scramble his chakra just as intended. However, as she is pulling back, and her own energy is fading, she can feel a sudden void where his energy had once been. For just a moment, it is as if the hulking shinobi is not there. As if his body were nothing more than a pile of stones, lifeless, and void of energy.
"HRUGH!" Grunting with effort, the Miyama brings his hands down and apart in a sudden blast of explosive motion, the air shaking with tension as every muscle in his body seems to flex at once. And just like that, his chakra network is rebooted. Where there had been no energy before, a fully functioning, undamaged web of energy pulses through his body, Fresh and unsullied by Seori's tampering.
There is a beat, a pause of less than a moment, in which Noboru stares straight ahead. His fists are clenched out to either side, clothing pulled taught by the muscles that have locked beneath them. The final vibrating notes of his breakout fade from the air.
Then his right fist is coiling up and around in a single, pin-point strike aimed directly for Seori's left temple.

COMBATSYS: Noboru successfully hits Seori with Medium Punch.

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Noboru           1/------=/=======|=======\===----\1            Seori

Barbaric? Perhaps. The Gedo students gathered don't seem to mind too much. They refuse to interfere for now, watching and cheering where necessary. Even if he wasn't here to be a gym teacher, Noboru's providing apt instruction all the same. Even Seori, for all her fury, seems less offended by the violence and more from the threat of her valued scarf being taken from her.

Noboru's words barely filter in past Seori's focus. She needs to disrupt his chakra, immobilize his arm. He's strong, but if she can chip at his offense, maybe he might shift to a tactic she would be more apt to handle. One less hand that could take from her. He may leave her alone, then, just maybe-

"....!" The determined frown on Seori's face is disrupted as she briefly is able to notice the chakra of Noboru fading beyond what she was expecting. In that spilt second, narrowed eyes draw back in panic, revealing concern and fear. No, it shouldn't do that. Dad told her it could hurt if she did it wrong. No, no, she didn't want to do that to him!

It's a mercifully brief period before the Miyama's body restarts, the processes of his body flowing anew. He may even glimpse a faint glimmer of relief in Seori's eyes as she makes a willful attempt to duck to the side of his right fist, an effort that still proves to be a touch too slow. Knocked spinning through the air, Seori lands on had clay and concrete.

Seori staggers to her feet, her tennis shoes scratching at the cold ground. Her head is pounding. It's getting harder to concentrate. Maybe that's his method of taking off her mask? At least... he's taking her seriously. It's an approach not exactly new to her. Tetsuji was more a fan of the school of hard knocks, being a Hirano. Want to teach your child how to swim? Toss them off a boat. Want them to know how to fight? Don't hold back.

Noboru wants to know her strength. She'll just have to show it to him.

"Ngh!" Chi shapes the Koumei Hagoromo back into the shape of a kyoketsu shoge, the ring side of which she's already beginning to swing. Her left eye's beginning to swell. She'll need to do this quick. Swinging the the chain around above her head in widening circles, she suddenly loops it around, attempting to slam and wrap it around the ninja's midsection-

COMBATSYS: Seori successfully hits Noboru with Hisui Drop.

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Noboru           1/------=/=======|===----\-------\0            Seori

The chain wraps around Noboru, and in a flash of chi, it becomes a metal ring, binding Noboru momentairely. Turning around, Seori grunts, using her body, the chi flowing through the chain, and sheer baby crow determination to throw the 250 pound ninja over her shoulder. At the top of the arc, the ring collapses into silk, releasing Noboru's body to sail through the air.

"You fight hard, but lack conviction." Noboru rumbles, his body relaxing from the sudden punch into looseness, peace. Like the swelling waves of the ocean, his pattern of sudden hard violence into focused serenity continues to rise and fall as if linked to the heartbeat of the earth.
"You strike for arms. I have two of these. Do you feel I need both to defeat you? You show regret at success." Two forward steps are taken, the hulking man padding silently from unyielding stone to brittle clay made hard by the freezing air. His cold blue eye takes in the young girl's swelling face. The look in her eyes and set of her shoulders. He says nothing, but as she regains her feet and begins to swing her weapon about, he pauses his forward advance and bows solemnly at the waste.
It seems she has earned the elder ninja's respect in at least one area.
Straightening, the iron shinobi plants his feet on the earth and lifts both arms, allowing the weapon to slam into his torso and coil about his ribs. As it does he draws in a sharp breath, expanding his lungs and insuring the chain wont' be tightened to fit an exhale.
Then he stands, statue like and impassive as the girl turns about and heaves on the chain. For the span of one horrible second, the attempt yields her nothing. Lowering his arms into a combat stance, the brute spreads the toes of his split leather boots and digs them into the earth. Throwing him is not unlike trying to uproot a tree. However, as the determined girl strains, there is a crunching sound, and a soft grunt from Noboru.
Abruptly the big man is arcing up into the air, toes still clutching little clods of brittle clay between them. Swinging his arms in a controlled motion, he tumbles ponderously away from his suddenly silk bindings and rolls his heavy body into a slow flip. It is graceful, in its own way. Like watching a whale swim through the water. But it is too slow.
Still upside down, the mighty ninja slams into the wall of the squat domed building with enough force to shake the bricks, having turned enough to impact it back first rather than head on. Dust and bits of paint shower the frigid earth as the big man drops like a stone, shoulder driving into the ground with a hefty 'thud.' But if Seori were hoping for a growl of pain or an easy victory, that is not what she gets.
Hammering his right fist into the clay, Noboru sends a network of hairline cracks spreading out around him. The force of the blow hurls the big man back upright, proving that Even when kipping up, it is less him leaping to his feet, and more him punching the earth out of his way. Bits of dust and paint flake off of his heavy silk coat, revealing a thin rip in the material along his broad right shoulder. Through it can be seen a flash of his black undershirt, and one strap of his weapon harness.
"An impressive strike, but lacking lethality."
Lumbering forward, Noboru fixes Seori with his good eye, approaching with the slow deliberation of a creeping iceberg. Measured and inevitable, unhurried. Each of his heavy steps crunch against the earth, the big man making no move to prowl along silently. Perhaps this is for the benefit of those watching. Or, perhaps it is a hidden lesson. Either way, the iron shinobi takes the 6 deliberate steps to get within striking range of Seori, all the while holding her with his gaze. His hands are down, muscles relaxed. There is nothing in his body language that suggests combat readiness. He feels like a stranger. Someone to pass on the street without a second thought. He isn't going to punch her again...
Like a striking snake, his gloved right hand flashes up from his side. His fingers are curled in a tight half fist, knuckles extended for maximum effect. Twisting his body into the blow, he lets out a breath through his mask, the fist flashing in directly toward the center of her sternum.
In the silence of the body, the two fighter's hearts lub-dub, lub-dub, lub-dub. lub--.
Unless Seori can stop it, Noboru's fist will strike between heartbeats, sending a wave of force through her comparatively light frame and disrupting the natural rhythm of her body. it is not unlike the technique she attempted to use on him, but executed using the bodies own network against itself, and targeting a much more vital area.

COMBATSYS: Noboru successfully hits Seori with Precordial Thump.

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Noboru           1/------=/=======|=======\-------\0            Seori

Why is he... bowing? Seori doesn't even answer; she already knows what he's saying. Her father would say some of the same things, if not in as mysterious a tone. No, he'd probably say something like 'should've aimed for the heart. A killer's not going to care that you're nice.' For a brief half-second, in a haze of clouded logic, the girl almost wished she could bring the man home to her father. They could be friends. Her dad needs friends. There's just the matter of him potentially being here to kill her and possibly her father. If he had attacked her father first, it would have sent a clearer message that she couldn't ignore.

Indeed, the girl who stands before Noboru might as well be a complete opposite of the Ryouhara ninja that attacked Noboru months ago. The potential for lethality is there, a network of logic and pathways built through passive training by a far more skilled man, but the will to use those pathways is far from the razor sharp drive of the Ryouhara ghost. Even the chain that flexes around Noboru's body doesn't shrink more than necessary to gain a hold on the Miyama ninja's body.

Which could perhaps convince Noboru that this lone Gedo ninja is simply that- a ninja, bearing the legacy of another clan around her neck. There's no Kouhara family or clan running around. It's just a family name.

Seori's own posture mimics Noboru's, eyes regarding the man coolly. She looks drunk in her posture, her expression and poise standing on the knife's edge of falling into one identity or another. Kouhara. Ryouhara. Hirano. Girl. He's going to strike, her paranoia says. He's going to strike, and you need to-

For once, that paranoia did more than make for yet another awkward confrontation. Already, her body is reacting numbly, leaning just so in order to bear that unorthodox blow-

That last attack came at a drastic cost, one Noboru no doubt can see in the weakened pulsing of Seori's chi and the pale tint to her lips and cheeks. She's used to lighter enemies, or having the chance to build momentum and rhythm. Had this been a regular weapon, the effort and chi required would have resulted in perhaps Noboru falling on Seori herself, if he managed to be lifted off the ground at all. And really, why do it at all?

Seori's move to block the MIyama ninja's sudden fist comes too slowly. Metal and fabric flaring to aid in the effort now fall uselessly down, draping almost artfully between Seori's arms.

'Should've aimed for the heart.' He's trying to kill her. He just may have killed her. Seori slouches forward, nerves and heart and lungs firing out of sync, just a hair's breadth from falling forward.

Maybe he's the one who did it. Maybe he's the one who attacked her father and reduced him to the state her father is in now. The Miyama clan... maybe they were preying on her in order to gain that last ninkou. The misfiring, logical aspect of her brain objects to this reptile paranoid train of thought. Why would a man like this need ninkou? His attacks don't translate to the sorts of damage she saw on her father's body that day.

Her head pounds. Her heart beats in a staggered rhythm. It's hard to keep her thoughts straight beyond the labored breath of her lungs and the blunt bruised pain of her chest, left temple, the blooming pain in her midsection. Rage provides a lot better life raft than logic in situations like these, however. So, in this instance, throwing identity, logic, and perhaps that gentle sanity that ruled her decisions in this fight.

COMBATSYS: Seori focuses on her next action.

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Noboru           1/------=/=======|=======\====---\1            Seori

Continuing to ignore the gawking students that have gathered to watch, Noboru withdraws his fist from the singular blow and studies his work. In silence he observes the young girl's fluttering vitals, as well as the teetering state of her mind reflected so well in her dark eyes. Looming over her, stony as the mountain from which he hails, the big shinobi meets her gaze.
"When you wake, we will speak." The words are ground from beneath his mask with simple finality. There is no question in them. No doubt as to the outcome of their upcoming contest. She has proven her strength, but it seems the older shinobi feels he has taken her measure.
Right hand having remain curled in a tight half fist, the monstrous ninja twists his wrist with a soft crackle of joints, before lashing out in a single, decisive strike. It is not a fast blow. In fact, it seems slow in comparison to his previous punch. Once more the big man's body twists as his hand is launched forward. However, unlike his previous blow, this one seems to compress the air before it, ploughing forward with a vibrating 'vwoooom'. This is a blow capable of crushing boulders. A blow for ending lives. A single, devastating strike aimed squarely for Seori's third eye. But even if it lands, and her chakra network is shocked once more with stuttering force, she will live.
The blow will be pulled.

COMBATSYS: Seori endures Noboru's Temporary Diplopia.

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Noboru           1/------=/=======|>>>>>>>\>>>>>>>\2            Seori

'When you wake, we wil speak.' The words seem to be coming at Seori from a distant tunnel, the words and meaning muffled into nonsense by the pounding in her head.

It would have been nice to have known what those words meant, now that she was fully convinced that she was going to die. Worse, her ninkou was going to be taken and possibly used, maybe sold into the black market like she's convinced other ninkou have. .... Even if she's found no real evidence of this.

The flashing metal of Seori's weapon swings out just as Noboru begins to launch his final fist. If it manages to wrap around Noboru's waist, Seori grips tight and shortens the chain to get closer, using her control of the Koumei Hagoromo to keep from being launched backwards from this one last attack.

The jab of Seori's shaped fingers would land, if it does at all, just as Noboru's fingers strike the smaller girl's third eye. It would land near Noboru's heart, but only near. Even if it had landed right over it, it wouldn't have been enough to kill the man outright.

What's more is one small, final detail, evident in the few nanoseconds before her body's chakra registers the man's strike.

Her hand would be bent. It wouldn't be straight.

She still wouldn't be able to bring herself to do it.

Whether it hits or now, Seori crumples in a mess of black hair and cloth, looking for all the world like she was trying to hug the Miyama ninja. That, or use him to prop herself up in the short moments before her legs give way.

COMBATSYS: Seori can no longer fight.

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Noboru           1/------=/=======|

COMBATSYS: Seori successfully hits Noboru with Gyakusan Horou.

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Noboru           1/------=/=======|

Since his arrival Noboru has been baiting the young ninja, driving her onward with words and actions. The possibility that he might take her weapon, or even kill her, These are only tools to spur her to greater feats of strength. To show him what she is capable of. If he were any less secure in his own abilities, such tactics might be foolish. But the iron shinobi has survived much throughout his life. This girl will not be his undoing.
Or that is the thought.
There is the slightest flicker of surprise in the hulking man's icy eye as Seori lashes out, hooking her chain about his waste and pulling herself toward his oncoming fist. His entire body tenses and strains as he is forced to pull his blow much sooner than anticipated, muscles flexing and locking up in a desperate attempt not to break the fool girl's neck by mistake.
Mid abort, the flash of accumulated energy draws his attention from the physical world to the mystical. There , driving up toward his chest with killing intent, is a blazing blade of chi. To his dual sight, the burning energy is superimposed over a pair of slim fingers. Fingers that he might be able to block or divert? No. They are too close already. he has no time to recover. There is only one option.
"HMPH." Noboru grunts, breath gusting through his silk mask as he channels the entirety of his limited chi reserve outward in a violent, full-body expulsion. The invisible energy floods through his chakra network and out through his skin, blasting dust and debris off of his clothes as it expands ever outward.
As Seori's chi blade hits the barrier, its already bent tip is damaged yet further. The dagger-like projection fuzzes and loses shape, its energy punching through the thin emergency shield and blazing through the big ninja's chest. Robbed of not only its tip, but its shape, the formless energy bludgeons against his lungs and heart, causing both to spasm as if hit with high voltage. Outwardly this manifests in a sudden jerk, the towering ninja swaying back slightly as his young opponent collapses against him.
However, whether it be due to his emergency shield, or Seori's mercy, Noboru's heart is not stopped. Slowed for only a moment, he sluggishly drops both big gloved hands to catch the girl under her arms, supporting her while his internal energies flicker, then die. For a moment it seems that the two are propping each other up. The skin around Noboru's eyes fades to an unhealthy grey, and his heavy shoulders slump with fatigue.
Internally, Noboru's spirit sparks, and his energies thrum back to life in yet another system reset. Externally, the big brute draws in a slow breath. His shoulders square, color returning to his face as he gazes somberly down at the unconscious girl before him. Lifting his left hand to the back of her neck, he presses two fingers into points on either side of her spine, manipulating it with casual calm. Simultaneously he shifts his right hand down her back, thick fingers driving hard into varying clusters of nerves. In this way he flattens out her chi,taking manual control over the inner pulse of her body and stabilizing the beat of her heart. It takes vary little time for him to repair the damage he has done, easing her from near fatal unconsciousness to light sleep.
Glancing over at the gawking students, Noboru steers Seori backwards and slumps her against the wall she threw him into only moments before. Supporting her with one hand, he reaches between them and hooks his fingers through her scarf, looping it back over her neck, safely away from him and any fear he might take it from her. As awkward as it might be for her to awaken nearly held in his arms, he did tell her that they would speak. Noboru Miyama takes his vows very seriously.

COMBATSYS: Noboru takes no action.

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Noboru           1/------=/=======|

COMBATSYS: Noboru has ended the fight here.

The audience the two ninjas have gathered watch in silence as the 'sparring match' draws to a close. One or two even get up from their slouched crouching positions, concerned that what was supposed to be a match of two warriors had possibly gone too far. After all, both participants look rather pale, even... just possibly-

But Noboru stirs, stopping their movement and tying them back to their previous commitment to not interfere. They keep out of earshot, some even dispersing to get to one class or another, or some even feeling a bit inspired to do their own epic sparring matches elsewhere on campus. A few still remain, steadfastly watching the two, and outright staring as the Miyama ninja seems to be... massaging the other's neck and back? No, something else, maybe.

Ninjas are a hard lot to figure out.

It takes a while for Seori to wake, but thankfully not long enough for Noboru's current position to possibly get too tedious to maintain. Eyelids flutter open, sharp eyes blankly regarding the arm that is supporting her, a spark of recognition finally stirs. A hand shoots up to feel at her neck, fingertips feeling and thumbing at the scarf's fabric like it was a treasured childhood blanket. Her gaze goes over to the Miyama ninja then. "... You didn't take it."

There is an extraordinary level of relief in Seori's expression as she realizes this. "You.. didn't want to kill me. The Miyama clan.. yeah, I'll remember this." She heaves a sigh, trying to steady herself back on her two feet. "... You said... something about questions. You had a question?"

She makes no move to flee. He's earned at least a little of her trust here.

"I would not take that which is rightfully yours. You have claimed it through skill, and spirit." Noboru rumbles in reply, the hand supporting Seori remaining steady as a statue. Both of his mismatched eyes focus down on the girl as she regains her feet, gauging her strength before he relents and takes a single silent step backward. The frosty wind still blows intermittently across the school grounds, but he gives the weather none of his attention.
"Many questions have been answered by our fight. More I will ask you later." the big shinobi continues in his slow, grinding way. Much like his fighting style, his pattern of speech is unhurried but relentless. And like his blows, his words are carefully chosen and precise. Turning away, he calmly reaches up to tug his coat forward and closed, the gash on his right shoulder yawning open.
"Return home. Your body must rest. I have restored you, but much like a set bone you are whole yet unhealed. But know this. You do not search in vain."
His message delivered, Noboru steps away from the girl and begins to pace off across the chilly grounds with slow, silent steps. It seems that after dropping that bomb of information he fully intends to just walk away. But, what else could she expect? he is a ninja, after all. When dealing with ninjas nothing is ever easy. Still, he did say they would speak again later. And as has been demonstrated, Noboru is a man of his word.

'You do not search in vain.'

If he ever needed confirmation that Seori was, indeed, a Ryouhara, her expression may prove to be the final clue. Instantly, the chi signal of her body rouses like a weak but steady flame exposed to a patch of leaves: brief, bright, but not sustainable. Two years of searching, two years of her father's quiet, unvoiced disbelief, two years of silence, save for a dread that followed them whenever they stayed in one spot for too long.

She's a ninja. But she's also a girl who still hadn't come to grips with what had happened. Her hope and her naivete were all she had to keep from falling into the same pit her father had.

She wasn't just in denial. There were others still out there. That lead was truly a lead.

"W-wait." Seori's voice comes out in a croak as she shuffles after the departing Miyama ninja. "Hey, you gotta tell me-!"

Just keep going, just keep-

A fellow student finds her shoulder. "Yo." Gedo students don't interfere. But they do know when a body needs to rest. Seori, new as she is, is one of them. "Me and Umeko-chan're taking you home. Just don't let yer old man try to murder us again, 'kay?" The Gedo student nods to his friend, who quietly watches Noboru walk away.

Seori looks up at the departing Noboru, then, seemingly stunned into a moment of sanity by her friends, slowly nods. "Keep your promise. It's been a while since I've heard anything." There's tears in her eyes, but she smiles. "You'll just have to tell me at some point what sort of tea you like."

It'd be nice to be able to get out the good tea set.

Log created on 22:15:02 12/23/2016 by Noboru, and last modified on 14:33:05 12/26/2016.