|[Sep. 18th, 2013|10:23 pm]|
The unexpected jolt of chakra caught Genma’s attention away from plotting a course for the day. In the firelight, Katsuko’s hair was a wild crown of recently-shocked strands. “That’s a good look for you, Ueno,” he said. “You remind me of those fancy crested cranes at the Fire Daimyou’s tea garden.”|
Katsuko stopped laughing, swiveling her head towards him to show a blank, expressionless face. It was creepy as hell, and she held the stare for just long enough to be actually worrisome. “Caw, caw,” she said abruptly, then burst into a fit of cackling laughter.
For someone who professed to hate morning, she seemed remarkably on top of her game. Or at least, certainly back to her normal self already. The same could not be said for Kakashi, who had looked rather the worse for wear as he stomped off wrapped in his blankets.
Ryouma returned from his morning ablutions looking fresher faced, with his dark hair wet and slicked back after what Genma presumed was a dunk in the stream. He helped himself to coffee and wandered over towards Katsuko. “S'there a reason Kakashi's wearing his bedding?” he asked.
“He’s the blanket king,” Katsuko explained. She left Ryouma with that to ponder and went to confer with a pair of her clones.
Raidou, who had resumed doing kata, barely gave her a glance as she passed by. After a week and a half of training with her, Genma was getting the idea that she was just always like that. If she ever made linear sense, he probably ought to challenge her for a password or check her for fever.
“I'm startin' to think it's a good thing we don't have regular team sleepovers,” Ryouma said. He took a long, appreciative drink. “Good coffee, though. Where're we going today?” He came to peer over Genma’s shoulder at the map.
“You’re welcome,” Genma said. “Sumatora beans. I picked them up on my last mission down south.” He moved the lightstick to illuminate the map better and traced a path over the contour lines with a finger. “I figured we’d take a route that hugs this stream northwest for a bit, then cut up and over when we get closer to Isegawa province. But you used to operate in this area, right? Got any advice?”
Ryouma crouched next to Genma, cradling his gently steaming cup of coffee in one hand as he frowned at the map. After a moment, he extended a finger and traced another water line, following it along till it met their spring-fed stream. “I dunno if this one has a name—we called it Hell Creek—but we want to cross before we meet it,” he said. “There's white-water when it joins our stream here. Too deep to ford, too rough to chakra-walk. We'll know before we hit it, though.”
Genma nodded. “Then maybe if we cross here?” he asked, pointing to a place on the map where the contour lines were closely spaced. “Looks steep, but that means it won’t be swampy.”
Ryouma sipped his coffee as he studied the map, then traced a quick line from Genma's finger up toward Hayama, the town where the most recent disappearance had taken place. “There should be a ravine we can follow most of the way without skylining ourselves,” he said. “Might set us up for an ambush if it is bandits, but we could probably use the exercise.”