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Verdandi

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Verdandi was enjoying the day. For once the weather wasn't too bad. The snow was very light and barely gave more away than a gentle little curtain over the small village of Heidel. The wall repairs finished. The watchtowers finally put all back into shape. The basic frame of the castle was fortified and the holes in its walls were evened out. The castle insides were yet another matter. Verd's family was living in the main hall, their bedrooms tied right next to it and the throne room where mom was working was upstairs.

The castle itself had over 80 rooms and yet barely three of them had been renovated, cleaned and prepared for use. The library only had gotten as much attention cause princess Urd was in charge of it. A little infirmary had been built near the entrance gate as the hospital was yet still in repairs giving much grief to Verd's father, Deacon, who as a retired Medical-Nin was certainly looking forward to set up his office in the hospital once more.

The servants were busy cleaning while the carpenters and supervisors would organize the newest shipment of wood, stone and clay that had arrived. The village itself was in high spirits as the coronation of Lady Dao has yet not been all too long ago. The festival had brought back life into the sober community and the change in colours as well as the strong rebuild effort was generally getting people into a hopeful mood. A large monument shaped in form of a simple ice pillar had been raised into the town square as a memorial to the fallen ones that died during the tragedy of Hao's assault.

Life had come back to the place. Hot spring Onsen was in high demand and the bar was getting packed with more customers. Verd stumbled with some papers into her mom's office. Placing them as usual onto the throne. Oddly enough, the Queen didn't like to sit there and use it as a pile maker for her to do's instead. Verd didn't lose a chance to tease her mom with either 'Your highness' or 'My lady mother' and would often be thwacked by Motoko for misbehaving.

She giggled as she ran down, past her sisters that were also getting ready for work and made her way to the gate. There were messengers coming that brought the shipment they just received. They would be lead to the 'throne room' or rather Mom's office upstairs and Verd totally wanted to see who it was. Hearing that at least one of them was a rather important figure of sorts.... who could that be? While she was trying to stalk them, Urd and Skuld were arguing about which rooms would get refurbished next. Considering the library was already done, Skuld demanded that the office for the Guards would be setup but Urd was rooting for storage… Verd let them argue and made it to the gate to get a peek on the strangers as they would pass by on their way to Mom’s.


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Jun

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Genin
Eyes closed, Jun heard rather than saw the curtains in her room being ripped open. She groaned as the sunlight hit her face. Before she could try to dig her face into the pillow, she felt it being torn from her grip.

"Rise and shine, kiddo! We're traveling today," she heard her grandmother say. Again, per only response was a groan. "Pack up, we'll be gone for a few days. I'll meet you outside in an hour," the older woman continued. "Also, make sure to pack warm clothes. We're going up north."

Begrudgingly and cursing under her breath, Jun got out of bed and started to pack. She went through the motions almost automatically, throwing whatever she found first into a backpack. It couldn't be that much colder where they were going. Besides, she came from Suna. She didn't exactly have winter clothes. One hour and a quick breakfast later, they were off on their impromptu trip. Jun wondered how long her grandmother had known about this and whether she consciously decided not to tell her or if she just forgot. Both were just as likely.

The trip itself was somewhat long, but Jun did her best to keep up the pace. She disliked knowing that the older woman was purposely holding back so that the younger could do so, though. It only made Jun want to push herself farther. By the time they arrived at their destination, her entire body ached. It only made matters worse that the only thing that kept her from actively shivering was the fact that her skin was numb from the cold.

"How do you like your first visit to Yukigakure?" Her grandmother asked as they paused to look at the view.

Jun was... unimpressed. The few scattered houses could hardly be called a village. It was small and had the looks of a primitive settlement. She grimaced at it. This place wasn't worth her time. Why had she even been dragged here? Oh right. To carry a bunch of useless supplies. Merchants probably never made their way here, after all. These people were cut-off from the rest of the world. What an awful way to live.

"Whatever your thoughts are, keep them to yourself. The Mizukage's brother lives here - he's married to the Queen." This took Jun by surprise. She was unaware that Lady Ayakashi had a brother.

"Why the hell would a place like this have a Queen?" She asked instead. It made little sense. It was like building a few houses on the swamps of Kirigakure and calling it a new country.

"Read a history book, kiddo. This used to be quite the village," Gin stated before setting off towards what Jun could only assume was the main building - a run-down castle that could barely be called that anymore. With a sigh, the silver haired girl followed.

They made their way to a dilapidated throne room where a regal woman with white hair sat. Gin gave a small bow and forced Jun into one as well. "Your majesty!" She began, her tone somewhat teasing. "It's been a while. I thought I'd make the trip up here myself this time around and introduce my granddaughter. One of your daughters is around her age, if I'm remembering right. I brought a couple of barrels of your favorite sake, too," Gin said, setting down some of the supplies that she still carried on her - a ludicrously large backpack that was nearly three times her size. The rest they left in a kart for the guards to sort out.

The gears in Jun's head, meanwhile, went on overdrive until something clicked. "You bring me to this piece of shit village in the middle of god kn-"

Before Jun could finish the sentence, Gin had wrapped an arm around Jun's face, lifting the younger girl up in the air while she comically flailed. Her teeth dug into the older woman's forearm, only to taste metal. Way to backfire and go for the prosthetic arm. Well, at least she hadn't chipped a tooth.

"You're gonna have to bit way harder than that to get me to let go, kiddo," she whispered through the gritted teeth of a fake smile.

"Apologies for my granddaughter, she doesn't get out much. And she was kidding, right Jun? Tell the nice lady you were kidding," the older woman said as she set the girl in question down none too gently.

"-god knows where for a fucking play date?!" She finished the sentence. Let it be forever known that Kuroka Jun never backed down, no matter the consequences. She braced herself. Knowing her grandmother, she wouldn't be let off the hook easily - or at all.

"Bring it, you old hag," her challenging look seemed to say.

Before she knew what was happening, Gin's prosthetic arm had gripped her shirt collar. She wound the girl up like she was a rag doll. She spun the arm holding Jun around like the teenager was a baseball. One, two, three and crashing out the window she went. Jun crashed face first into a pile of snow outside, leaving a two meter dip, roughly in her shape. Getting out of this would be a pain. And she swore she could feel a couple of broken ribs. Ouch.

Noticing that someone else was in the room, Gin approached. "Verdandi, yes? Would you mind digging my idiot granddaughter out of the snow? And if you could spare a coat for her, I would much appreciate it," the older woman said, her smile pleasant and almost innocent.

[950]

Verdandi

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Verdandi would watch the visitors arrive, the woman with the huge backpack was carrying an amount of goods that civilians usually needed caravans for to transport them. The backpack alone seemed heavy enough to require multiple horses to carry them. Giving the while first impression a rather overkill status. The cute girl next to her seemed yet to give off an awfully bratty attitude. Considering Verd used to be the ‘black sheep’ of the family she had sympathy but as a girl raised within specific manners this one certainly had an annoying attitude. The village itself was hard at work. The barely four hundred villagers within the walls a mere shadow of its former glory.

Gin was one of the few who knew this place before Hao basically laid waste to the whole country alike to how he did it with others, including Kirigakure itself, twice. She was probably the only foreigner able to understand, that considering Hao’s devastating and evil powers, to have a castle more or less survive his attack was but a blessing of sheer luck. It took them years to rebuild the walls, watchtowers and the basic structures. Roads, buildings for storage, the docks, the houses for the villagers. All of it had been damaged and would have been worse if the flames of Amaterasu would have burned them down as well. It’s not that it has been that long ago to take an elderly woman to understand it. It’s the simple fact that prior to Yuki’s ill fate not many people from the main countries even knew that the land of snow existed. The castle of Heidel might have long ago been part of Yukigakure, but the actual hidden village was further up north from here. The seclusion of the spot probably being the only reason why it didn’t get burned down as well.

As she passed the gates, the guards were very aware of Gin’s presence and renowned reputation. Bowing to her accordingly as if one of the royals themselves were passing by. They walked right past Urd and Skuld, probably noticing the well-dressed girls with pretty hair but the two of them were way too young and living too secluded to have a clue who Gin was. Maybe Urd had knowledge about her but was simply ignorant and busy within her head to be upset about her fight with Skuld.

Verdandi peeked after them and slowly stalked her way upstairs. Not really sure how Gin made that backpack fit through the small corridors of the castle but it somehow malformed itself and simply had to bend along being pulled by a woman whose strength seemed to be as scary as aunt Aya’s. Once inside the entrance part she would move behind the pillars of the throne room to stay hidden from sight, slowly moving on tip toes to get a closer look on the two. Once she had dropped the goods some of the guards within the throne room would start picking it apart, having a comically long time to do so considering the sheer amount of goods carried by this single woman.

Motoko would get up and quickly greet Gin, who seemed to amuse herself about the lady’s new title and position. Last time she was here, her uncle was still in charge and she was nothing but a very motivated and clever administration helper. Seeing the young woman finally within the position she always worked forth would hopefully raise some sympathy within Gin. “Welcome back old friend. I trust the journey here wasn’t too bad?” she said while the guards finally finished picking the supplies apart and starting to pile them somewhat sorted onto a table.

Motoko moved a bit to her knees to welcome the young kiddo “Well hello there, young lady. How are y-“ she would be interrupted as the girl obviously didn’t care a second and even mentioned this village to be a piece of…. Now that was simply rude. What an awful little brat. But before Motoko could have said something to make way for her thoughts Gin was already basically suffocating the kid within her grip. Watching them go at each other until granny seemingly had enough and tossed her own offspring out of the next best half open window.

Verd who stumbled on her butt after this rather crazy display of powers and… seriously crazy relationship between granny and youngster was hence approached by Gin. The senior shinobi had probably noticed her the very moment she stepped foot into the castle unlike Motoko who was sort of upset that Verd had sneaked herself in her when she should be helping her sisters with their chores. Motoko eventually let it go as Gin seemed to find use in her presence. Verd quickly nodded to the scary granny and jumped by mum to get to the window. She would yet return half way once to pick up a coat from the racks as she had forgotten it first in her confusion. Her eyes staring at the scary woman who just seemed to smile like an all-knowing god into the room.

Once Verd had left Motoko faced Gin once more. “Charming….” She said in comment to Jun’s little show of lacking manners. “I see the runny tongue is something still continuously inherited within your family Gin.” She mentioned teasingly and laughed. Offering her friend, a proper seat as well as one of Yuki no Kuni’s own sake brands. It had been prepared prior to her arrival. Motoko knew to indulge into the whims and desires of Gin. Leaving them some space to talk about the state of affairs and rebuilding process of Heidel. As well as to how they were doing.

While the elder ones were enjoying a stiff drink, Verd had jumped after the little bundle of hate and saw how she had fallen deep within the snow. Using her natural gift towards hyouton chakra, Verd shortly touched the snow and basically commanded it to ‘go away’ as the fluid within the ice crystals and the soft breeze within the air were suddenly motivated to move further down and away from the young girl. Once unburied from her snow grave the snow would form itself into a large version of Verdandi’s face. A bored one, with her head leaning to her palm in a sort of “Oh please tell me more” kind of sarcastic expression on it.

While Verd’s artwork was judging the young girl, Dandi handed the jacket to her and looked at the young girl who seemed to be in pain. “You alright?” she said, while her actual concern for the brat’s well-being remained to be within limited enthusiasm. She eventually stepped closer, staring at her and noticed that hey both had the exact same combination of eye colours. Heterochromia rosso. The genetic reaction that turns a blue eye red. Verd wasn’t sure if she was annoyed by the fact someone else was alike her or if she enjoyed the idea. However, didn’t wish to get too close to the girl having seen her rather hostile attitude.


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Jun

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Genin
Gin stood proudly, looking out the window after the young princess left the room to do as she had asked. The young girl didn't seem like the enthusiastic type, despite the curiosity she had shown by coming here and hiding behind one of the pillars. The woman looked at the lady of the castle and her smirk turned into a wide beam. Mischief colored her features, something that had never left her with age. "In her case, it skipped a generation. Reiko never gave me this much back talk - not to my face, anyways," Gin said. On the surface, Jun's mother had always been the best behaved of the twins. Upon closer inspection, however, Gin found that she was often the mastermind of Chie's destructive rampages. It seemed that Jun leaned more towards that outwardly aggressive behavior.

"Misao's the only one that doesn't have a temper. She's teaching at the Academy in Kiri now. It suits her well. She gets along with kids and has a knack for dumbing things down for 'em," she explained. There was a hint of pride in her voice. She very much loved her youngest - well, youngest biological child. She was the odd one out, with her more pacifistic nature and the fact that she was the only one to not inherit the Kuroka genes. "Tsuneo is still off rampaging somewhere, but that's nothing new," she said, speaking of one of her adopted children and likely the most out of control of them all. The boy - he would always be a boy to Gin - had a frail mind, made so by the brutality he was exposed to as a child. Last she had heard, Tsuneo was off somewhere in Iwa or Konoha, she forgot which one. She knew, however, that she would have to set off and find him at some point.

Gin had sat on the ground at some point while she spoke. She made sure that one of the packages she brought with her wasn't taken away from the guards and began to unwrap it. "I've been thinking about retiring soon," she said, taking out a bottle of sake and two supt with it. If Motoko wanted to drink, she would have to come and sit on the ground with Gin, who poured one cup for each - Motoko's first, then her own. "Not sure what I'll do with my free time, but at least I'll be around to see my family for once," she said. The woman was only 50 years old. Conventionally, she wasn't exactly old. However, living such a long time in her line of work was a feat worth admiring. "To family!" She said, tilting the traditional cup backwards and downing it in one go.

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Face first and buried in about six feet of snow left roughly in the shape of her silhouette, Kuroka Junichi lamented her existence. To be fair, though, she should have known that this was how back talking her grandmother and insulting pseudo-royalty - she refused to acknowledge this ruined dump as a full kingdom - was going to end. She groaned. At least the mountain of shaved ice around her numbed some of the pain.

Moving around as little as she could and wincing from the pain, the white haired girl pressed her fingers to her right rib cage, getting a feel of the bones beneath. She was far from a medic, but she knew what a set of broken or cracked ribs felt like. It had happened to her more than once since her training had begun recently, and in ninety percent of the cases, her grandmother was to blame. It was a wonderful form of family bonding. "Yeah, that's... one... two... three... no, just two. Two broken ribs. Thanks grandma. You're great," she said to herself, unbeknownst to the other girl approaching. A few seconds later, the snow  surrounding her dissipated, parting like it had been commanded to. It turned out that was exactly what had happened.

Wit ha groan, the young Kuroka turned around and sat up, eyes following the extended hand that offered her a coat, up to the uninterested face of a young girl with dark green hair and cherubim features. What draw Jun's attention the most were her eyes, though. The girl had eyes not unlike her own - a mismatched set of blue and red. Albeit, Jun's blue eye had a greenish tint to it. Her eyes would lock with the girl's and would linger there. For a brief moment - missed in the blink of an eye - her expression showed amazement."Tch. Freak," Jun finally said, turning her head briskly to the side after realizing that she had been staring too long. She took the coat roughly from the girl, almost ripping it from her. The teenage girl through it over her shoulders, immediately feeling warmer. She wouldn't show it, but she was grateful for the added layer of clothes. She had definitely been ill prepared for the snow.

She sighed and let out yet another groan as she made an effort to stand up. "Stupid fucking hag, showing off like she needs to. Could've sealed all that shit in a scroll, but noooo, she just had to fucking carry it all and cart it around like she's some sort of glorified pack mule," Jun complained. "Ayakashi has her doing grunt work and she keeps acting like a trained dog," Jun said as she began to limp across the courtyard.

After a few steps, she realized that she didn't know where she was going, exactly. She turned to look at the girl, a slight tint of pink spreading across her cheeks. "Where... Where's the medic here?" she mumbled. Back in Kirigakure - or even in Suna - the solution to big bruises and broken bones was simple. He aunt Misao, having inherited the Uzumaki bloodline, offered her wrist for Jun to bite. The flood of pure vitality was instant and mended any ailments in the blink of an eye. Here, though, she had no other choice but to rely on a conventional medic, no matter how much she hated the notion.

[1992]

Verdandi

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Motoko didn't really bother much with Jun, she did however notion that the kid had certain similarities towards Verdandi. Which was sort of interesting showing how their bloodlines were yet not that closely related as other Clans of interest. She couldn't help but think that the girl would be able to live in Yuki no Kuni and no one would ever guess that she was a foreigner with that hair of hers. Motoko nodded, she used to live in Kiri for a while after the war. Even though the Yuki's and Dao's were among the first to return for the rebuild call, they had spent a long time in the country of mist.

Motoko was remotely familiar with the name Reiko but she couldn't remember any more if they ever had an actual talk with each other. Misao might be someone she had seen while taking Verd to the academy but not necessarily tied up with directly as a person. Tsuneo was a name she did have heard before but out of context and not in relation to Gin or her bloodline or kin. It could have been that during their last talk, Gin had already told Motoko about him, but she was not afraid to admit that she forgot about it if asked. The concept of Gin retiring anyhow was something new in this prospect.

"If you'd have told me fifteen years ago that you'll actually live to see this day I'd have told you to get off your horse and admit that it's time to prepare your own grave you know..." Motoko said in a dark and sarcastic voice but knew well that it was true. "Wow, how old are you again? 48? 50? You are going to outlive me if you keep going..." she added mockingly. "Skuld and Urd are doing fine. They spend a lot of time trying to impress their Dad who is, as so often, too busy to really notice it enough. But he's trying so they are happy for the most part. Skuld became a warrior as expected and Urd a scribe and scholar.... couldn't have asked for more."

It seemed obvious that Motoko kept avoiding the topic of Verdandi. Probably under a little pressure she added. "We didn't know she would end up with her fathers cursed blood you know... but she seems to embrace it. We didn't want her to become a ninja Gin. Don't misunderstand me. Please. You know me better than that. But we had hopes that none of our children would ever be exposed to this sort of violence. I don't have to tell you what a shinobi's life is like. She seems to enjoy it but.... Have you seen Ayakashi lately? Mizukage and all set aside this woman has seen things... I don't want my daughter to go down that road.... Do you know what I mean?"

Within that, she cheerfully pushes the offered drink towards Gin's in a gentle "To family" as she did certainly enjoy the woman’s company but the very moment this wise old badass appeared here would immediately turn her urges on get some parenting-figure like advice. After all. As much as she adored her third child. Verdandi had already seen ten times more blood, slaughter and intestines spilling than any of her other kids. There was no denying into shinobi's business being a sick and twisted line of work.

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While Verdandi watched her guest with curious eyes she couldn't help but naturally react to her emotions. Verdandi's unusual high-pitched empathy would easily go so far as the she would touch her own ribs after seeing the pained facial expression in Jun's eyes and mimic the nerve stimulation of pain in her head. She could hear her own brain saying "ouch" for a second. Verdandi had no control over this ability. But the power of absolute empathy would for once give a person the chance to understand the character and vulnerability of Jun that was obviously trying to bury a large amount of emotional pain under a huge layer of tough talk and a pretty rude attitude. It was but only logic that, however, if Verdandi would confront the girl with this very easy psychological calculation, the girl would not only deny it but also eventually insult Verdandi or try to physically harm her for even implying that she had a weakness. However. Her own studies had shown that the easiest way to deal with persons like that, was Verdandi's absolute most favourite way to deal with things. Doing absolutely nothing, saying nothing and giving her not the slightest ammunition to even try and complain about things, because she will, with or without fuel from Verd, complain about anything, all the time.

However, all this heavy calculative information was flooding Verd's mind, she could yet not put any of it in a proper reaction that would fit her realization. Hence, she just kept observing while the girl in front of her seemingly indeed, enjoyed to talk and complain, a lot.

The snow pile that had formed itself into the "Oh really" kind of shadow would make a confused facial expression. But since it was behind Jun it would just shrug its shoulders and Verdandi would follow suit and do the same, not knowing what to do with the situation. If Jun would turn around, the snow-face would slowly crumble back into a pile of non-chakra imbued elemental fabric and eventually disperse back into the rest of the snow around them.

As Jun stared at her, Verd would instantly blush up thickly from the cute expression paired with those very familiar looking eyes staring up at her. Verdandi was very excited to see someone with heterochromia rossa, but she wasn't naturally able to show her feelings without probably giving away a rather creepy expression. So, she'd rather not do that and simply smile. Being called a freak in return didn't really hurt her much.

Jun would proceed her most well-trained skill, complaining and yet it did bore Verdandi a little bit, it seemed like the girl had sort of a knack for exhaling unuseful information in the sorts that would leave a negative taste in one’s mouth. Eventually, Verd would place her finger for a split second on Jun's lips. She didn't linger as she calculated a chance of over 70% that if she'd keep that up her finger would most likely be bitten by the... brat.

Before Jun could actually decide to get angry for Verd behaving like this. Verd placed her palm forward and kept her eyes locked on Jun. "Don't move. I will fix you..." she said in a calm voice. While her hand started to glow on Juns skin. Verd whistled once and a little droll ice bear cub would stumble from the castle's entrance into the snow pile next to them.

"Avalanche, go get daddy. We need healing." she said and gave her cute little snuggle bear a little pat on the butt. Being trained as a ninja pet, the bear would fluently understand what Verdandi had said, it just had not many ways to speak back. Hence, the little furball would soon be seen how it stumbled off towards a large building past the courtyard but very close next to the castle.

"It will feel cool. Don't be scared." she said and concentrated. Using a portion of the chakra she usually used to create her ice armour, Verdandi commanded the snow around them to slowly crawl onto Jun's abdomen. It would linger around the damaged area and slowly freeze into solid form. Verd made sure to make it as warm as possible without melting the ice. The frost would softly numb the pain and directly occupy the nerves of Jun's brain to send completely different information of importance to the central nerve system. Verd was very interested in medical things but far from a trained medic yet.

Whilst Jun was busy to realize what had happened and probably testing how the ice was somehow suppressing both pain and also keeping the damaged bones within check below. Deacon Yuki would slowly appear on the peripheral horizon. Ahead of him a small little cute furball that would miscalculate his running speed and ability to stop and eventually stumble hard and plant his face against Verdandi’s back who luckily wasn't touching Jun anymore but got a little scared from the sudden bump.

While Verd would proceed to scold her little fur monster for being a silly butt. Deacon would kneel down to the both of them. "Verd, did you hurt your friends while playing again?" he'd ask in an almost stern voice and Dandi would shake her head simply and point at the makeshift wound numbing frost on Jun’s stomach. Within a few seconds, Deacon would press his healing hand of unique high medical skill onto Jun's belly and slowly force the chakra to influence cell regeneration and even repair the fractures within the bones of Jun.

The technique was done. Nothing more he could do here. "You know, I'm not your personal fixing buddy Verd, I have a whole hospital to take care of. Try to not get carried away for once, alright?" Verd would simply nod. She didn't have the interest to actually talk things out and before Jun could yell at him, Deacon was already gone again, without even saying hello to her once.

"He's busy." she would say and then slowly help Jun up onto her feet. Leading her towards the entrance of the castle again and back into the living room. Gin and Motoko would remain upstairs whilst Jun could sit down with Verdandi on the large and comfy couch next to the fireplace. The atmosphere was cozy. It was very warm inside. Many pillows and blankets around. "Wound will heal in a bit, when done the ice will melt." she said and stared back at Jun once more. Wondering what was going on in her head. "Your grandma is very violent." she added once more in a little act of sympathy. Not that Jun would want any... but hey. Small talk?


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Jun

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Genin
Honestly, her retirement was a surprise even to her. She had always expected to die in combat, maybe poisoned or maybe even assassinated in her sleep - violent deaths, all in all. This, the chance to live the rest of her life peacefully, was entirely unexpected. She still didn't know if it was a welcome change of pace or not. Without a doubt, her life would become quiet and mundane. Would she miss her time as a warrior? She was certain she would. It was all she had ever known, all she had ever lived for. Now that it would be over, what would she do? She pondered questions like that frequently now. "I'll need a hobby, that's for sure. I might visit more often, since I'll have the free time," she said. Gin supposed she could travel. Maybe the world would yield a different view through the eyes of a civilian.

Gin listened to Motoko speak - a sort of nervous ramble, trying to tread through what she saw as delicate territory. Most civilians - no matter their rank or status - had a tendency towards carefulness when dealing with Shinobi, especially someone of Gin's rank and reputation. She had seen similar behavior before. People often saw her as little more than a dangerous animal, as if she would attack if she got upset. Initially, it bothered her. In her age, she now found it mildly entertaining. The older woman closed her eyes and smiled.

In the end, all Motoko wanted was advice, a way to keep her daughter from facing the crude reality that came with the type of life she had chosen. She waved her hand dismissively and looked back up at the queen. "I know what you mean, old friend, and I know you don't mean any offense by it," she began. "You know, my own mother tried to keep me and my brother from being Shinobi. She decided the best way to do that was to keep our heritage a secret. I found out anyways and so did he. He went to Kumo and years later, I went to Suna. Neither of us saw her for ten years," she said. She poured herself another cup of sake and sipped on it slowly before continuing. "My blood drew me to this life. The nature of the Kuroka does that. Violence is in our blood. Had I been a Nara like my mother instead, my life may have been very different. She tried the same with my daughters. She nearly succeeded with Misao - the only one to not inherit my blood. But she failed all the same. She tried once more with Junichi, but that child was born a true Kuroka," she explained. Her anecdotes illustrated her point. She was sure that Motoko saw it. The noble queen was not alone, but what she was facing was nearly inevitable.

Gin let her words linger in the air for a moment. She sighed, and spoke again. "They've all seen more than I would have liked them to, but I made sure that they knew what they needed to know to survive and thrive. Trying to stop them, keeping them from training, would only help get them all killed," she said. Her voice had turned somber, tired. "The chance for Verdandi to turn back is long past. Trying to get her to do that will only slow her down and fill her with doubt. She can't afford either. What I'm saying is, if you care at all for your child, make sure she grows in strength, in experience. That'll be the only way to keep her alive."

These weren't the words Motoko wanted to hear, she was sure. It was the truth, though. Gin wouldn't lie or make false promises to ease her mind. She respected this woman. Therefore, she deserved to know the truth.

---

Jun had to resist the urge to squeal when the tiny polar bear cub crept through the snow and towards the girl. It's tiny paws left equally tiny prints, its steps not yet fully coordinated. What a clumsy yet adorable little thing. The young Kuroka wanted to take it in her arms and not let go, but she held back. Maybe she could sneak off to find it at some point. Just as it had come, the small cub left.

Distracted as she was, Jun failed to see the girl get close, only noticing when she spoke. "What the-?" before she could tell her to go screw herself, a thin sheet of ice covered her ribs. The control this girl had over her kekkei genkai was precise, almost impressive. Still, Jun's reaction was tense. "Look, ice won't fix a broken rib, show-off," she said, roughly taking a step back. She had to admit, though, it helped with some of the pain. Before she could say anything else, the little bear came back, dragging a white haired man behind it. After a light scold and a simple touch to Jun's injuries, he left once again. The young Kuroka hadn't even been able to thank him, not that she would have.

"So that's Ayakashi's brother? Doesn't look nearly as impressive as she does," she muttered, mostly to herself. The girl stretched back, making sure that her wounds were indeed healed. No pain. Good as new. She turned to the girl once more. "So you're name's Verd? Stupid, but at least your mom didn't give you a boy's name," she said. Her mood was remarkably better - snarky and confident rather than just angry. Hell, she was almost being friendly. "'Suppose I should give you my name. Kuroka, Junichi," she introduced herself. All the while, she stretched her body as if warming up her muscles.

At Verd's comment about Gin, she chuckled. "You don't know the half of it. She can punch a crater in the ground without even trying. Throwing me out the window was her version of a slap on the wrist," Jun explained. Deciding she had stretched enough, she stopped to look at the other girl once again. "So, we doin' this or what?" She asked as if what she was talking about were obvious. If Verd looked confused or if she asked, she would roll her eyes and clarify. "Fighting, no shit," she would say.

The young Kuroka would sink into a basic stance either way. "The old hag brought me to this shit hole for a playdate, so might as well have some fun with it."

[3146]

Verdandi

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Motoko was far from feeling reliefed after Gin's explenations. Maybe even scared further for a minute. But then again. She already knew all of this. Deacon, her husband, being able to spend most of his career in the hospital was one thing. But then again they just joked about how rare it is that a shinobi would get as old as Gin. Motoko visibly sipped a multitude of cups down to ease her worries. Eventually she sighed. "She really loves her life as a ninja though… The look on her face when she created a snowflake into thin air during rain… the first time she got angry and froze her own feet to the floor in accident… she was never scared of her powers. Ayakashi has rarely visited us. Verd didn't even know about her aunts abilities with the snow and Deacon never had that power within him. But we knew it could happen when we married. Skuld and Urd will have their peaceful times. But before she found this gift, Verdandi was always bored. I think from any of the kids it could have been, it must have been her. It has changed her life and it's seemingly adding to her enjoyment." She sighed once more, realizing that she had probably already consumed more alcohol than she should. Placing the cup back on the table.

"But yeah, I guess you are right. Some of us get chosen to do this, with all the positives and negatives along. Just, just do me a favour and keep an eye on her while she's in Kiri alright? Last time she left for the academy I haven't seen her for almost a year and it already drove me mad." She pouted a little bit. Juggling the feelings of a supportive mother just as Gin suggested along with the worries and wishes that no harm would come to her offspring. After all. To a mother, no matter how old or adult they would turn, they would always be their kids. She could only hope that Verd would be able to become as strong as her aunt without experiencing the same terrors. "Also… she isn't just an ice user Gin… there is something within her…."

-------

Verdandi's eyes were glowing faintly. The snowstorm that consistently lingered over this island had returned. But for some odd reason the more Verdandi's eyes started to glow, the more it would become clear that the storm was simply… avoiding Heidel. Placing the village in the eye of the storm as if someone with a tremendous tune to the powers of the frost was willingly moving the large powerful winds at her own whim and… forbid it to pass into the village.

Jun's abrasive nature was intriguing. The princess didn't hear so many curses since the day her elder sister Skuld had trashed herself drunk after some sort of romantic quarrel. Coming from nobility each curse word stung a little bit at first. They were forbidden. The harsher the curse the more it'd annoy Verd at first. But She was a person of logic. Emotional reactions were only the last resort. "The ice will remove the pain…" she spoke as Deacon briefly did his job and walked away again. Her father wasn't a bad person. He just wished his daughter wouldn't end up becoming spoiled or a Daddy's girl. She was a ninja and had to rely on her own skills. Despite that some broken bones of course needed tending, she could just as well have brought her friend to the hospital. Making him leave his important job for a personal errand was not something her enjoyed doing.

Verdandi not towards Jun's harsh remark over Deacon being of less impressive nature. She nod again and mentioned. "He's just a medic. Not a fighter. He likes to heal people." she added. "My name is Verdandi." She added once more as Jun seemed to enjoy smashing bad words into her face. "Pleased to meet you… Junichi." However despite the rudeness Verd would never forget her own manners. Showing brash language usually was a way of hiding deep inner pain. Trying to make one look like they are above everyone else would normally hint towards massive insecurities. Hearing about her Grannies powers made Verd wonder if Jun felt so inferior because of the insane power gap between her and her relative. It would seem logic. Then again the girl seemed emotionally instable. Hurt and angry. So much anger inside her. To Verdandi who was supposedly the incarnation of calm behaviour, she thought maybe the young girl really just needed a fight. A way to vent all this anger somewhere.

Verdandi nodded. "I shall fight you." With this she moved to the corner of the courtyard. Avalanche rolled around on the grass completely oblivious towards what was happening. As he wobbled his furry butt towards Verd near the corner of the playground. She looked at him. "Avalanche, stay." She exclaimed and made sure that the little furball wouldn't run into their sparing match. Verdandi would move her B-Rank katana from her belt and place it on the weapon rack, instead pulling forth a C-Rank blade from the rack. Her katana was meant to kill people and inflict serious damage. She did not wish to cause such damage in this fight and as usual would take a training sword instead. It was still sharp. Anything else would be an insult to her opponent.

Back in place she would move into her own stance. Right leg forward. Foot aligned away from the centre. Left leg in supportive stance behind her. Moving slowly a bit into her knees. Lifting the sword above her head while pointing with her left palm forth at Jun. "I am ready." She said, giving her younger opponent the chance to charge first. While she was doing so. The heaven above them would rumble. Verdandi's eyes would shine blueish once more. The eye of the storm was slowly closing. Soon she would release her latent power upon her opponent. Including the intense strength of a storm that would change the very terrain of the courtyard. The first snowflake started to fall as the eye of the storm closed over Heidel. The courtyard would turn dark under the heavy clouds. A fitting background for their historical fight.

As they both become ready. Verd would keep a close eye on her sparring partner. Having not necessarily expected her to be so greedy for a fight. Despite her obviously… flawed personality. It wasn't really judgemental. Even Jun herself would probably admit towards being brash or far from caring much about politeness. Verd was still sure that this originated in a simple psychological trigger probably from Jun's past. But now, Verd would be allowed to get a glimpse of Jun's true self. As they say. In combat, one reveals their very intentions and desires. Showing their passions and their motivations. An ability to express themselves over how they would react under pressure. How they would deal with being denied their objectives and to watch how the already anger issued girl would face the prospect of getting frustrated over battling a clearly more powerful enemy. Verdandi would yet try to not underestimate her enemy. Doing so was the mistake of many that would fall in battle even. Being alert and keen with her senses. Learning about new fighting styles would always prove to be of interest. Many had she seen so far, offensive, defensive, traps, illusions. Little de she knew about the abilities of the Kuroka clan. Their name was well known but Verd never studied the deeper transcripts about their bloodline or their abilities. Seeing as she was a special snowflake herself, she couldn't but expect the same from a prodigy descendant. At least… that's what she hoped a little too.


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