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Tian-Di

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Chuunin
The temple looked like it had seen better days. Located far from the beating heart of kirigakure it served as little more than a home for vermin and the occasional yokai. Surprisingly enough though the place seemed to have retained some degree of structural integrity even after centuries of abandonment. The statues while covered in moss remained solid and if one looked closely they could make out the details of dragons rearing up from the ocean.

This had once been a holy site dedicated to Di's grandfather – the dragon god Bailong. People from Kiri (mostly fisherfolk and those whose life involved the sea) still worshipped the being but did so in either smaller personal shrines or the city temple in the modern capital. The place was still sanctified however and Di could feel it calling to him like a beacon. Such a place was once a locus for prayer and faith and thus it called to him as would any site of worship dedicated to his people.

Di had flown in earlier in the morning on the sea winds. He figured that it was time to do some training. Back in his home he had attended the dojo regularly working through kata and sparring with his brothers and the servants. While in the land of humanity he had received an education of a different sort. Mostly to do with how little he was prepared for the myriad methods that people , spirits and everything else under the sun used to harm one another.

Di needed to keep learning how to adapt to any sort of situation that might arise. So he had sent his messenger hawk out to Izumi's mansion. There it had delivered a message to the lady Nova, a puppeteer of surprising talent who piloted deadly mechanical constructs. Much to his delight Di had received a response saying that Nova would indeed take him up on his offer – that of a training bout between the two so that they might hone their respective skills.

Now Di stood in the middle of the courtyard the afternoon sunlight glistening on his black cloak and hat. Trying to clear his mind Di thought about the cases that he had recently worked at. The one involving the captured ghost had been something of a handful as he had almost had his back broken by a spirit bear. Then again the escapade in which he fought a lunatic dressed as a giant bird leading a flock of murderous avian assailants had also been quite a handful. Though he couldn't complain about his cases being totally awol as the incident he investigated with Mokuzai in the onsen had turned out to be much more by traditional crime scene with a murder who while a cold blooded killer wasn't a complete basket case.

Finally even the feelings associated with the Yatagarasu case began to slip away from him. It felt like a weight had been lifted from his shoulders. Detective work could be rewarding but it carried a heavy toll on the psyche.

(508 words)

Nova Makato

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Special Jounin
Nova realized that she was going to be late, not for lack of preparedness nor not leaving in time, rather she had become occupied studying a bit of an artistically carved marble pillar that though no longer supported any type of roof over it was ornately carved and gilded by an unknown craftsman some time ago. A few nights before, she had received a sealed letter from a man she had met on the shores of the island that Lord Osada's mansion sat upon, and then in a much different state of mine in a club of sorts. It was a request for the opportunity to train together, which Nova found quite interesting and wondered if her nearly blacked out memories of that late evening did him justice for the information she had unveiled. What she had been able to remember in bits was watching Di drunkenly turn into a dragon, after which she sat upon his back and instructed him to return her to Izumi's mansion. While she herself did not recall their landing, an irate Izumi informed her the morning after that their shapeshifting friend had taken a crash landing on the rose bushes besides the front door and fell asleep, but not before having emptied his stomach of the alcohol he had consumed in their evening out. In her mind, the dragon towered over her and made her feel small and insignificant, though that could have been the combination of her inebriated state as well as her lack of confidence that she experienced when she found herself without the company of at least one of her puppets.

Despite her interest in seeing him again, she was stuck on the ground on a grassy knot of earth as she sketched the outlines of the maintained temple into her sketchbook, lost in the moment for longer than she had realized. Both Doku Tsuki as well as Kurogokegamu sat motionless besides her, their armored shells glinting in the early sun as her pencil scratched away the pad she held in her other hand. Sighing and stretching back, she noticed that the sun was higher in the sky was she was expecting. Dropping her pencil and twitching her fingers to draw the threads of emerald chakra from their tips as they would shoot towards Doku Tsuki. Seconds after the connection was made, she had to close her eyes for just a second as she adjusted to the overflow of sensory information from the tremor sense that was built into the scorpion puppet. As she was only on the edge of the grounds for the temple of sorts, and being behind flora growing in the gardens had not seen Di's approach. Now that she felt the earth through her puppet, she was able to sense him standing in the center of the temple itself. The gold enlaid marble glinted under the sunlight as she turn to walk to meet him, met with the striking view of him in his black cloak, standing starkly out from the brightly colored area around them.

Nova's puppets would trail behind her, her glowing emerald strings directing them simultaniously. With her free hand she would wave and call across the grounds towards him, “Di! How are you?!”. Though she knew that she would be fighting him as a dragon, she was somewhat relieved that he had elected to show up under his human guise. Also her interest was struck that she would be able to watch the man turn to dragon in a less inebriated state and perhaps learn more from it this time. Her limping footsteps landing heavily with her wooden leg, she would near him rather slowly, “How have you been?”. She would exchange pleasantries, catch up for a moment, before settling down to the reason for their meeting. “So lets set ground rules for the spar and begin”. Though nerves were flowing fast, a bit of excitement had started to run through her blood at the thought of testing her abilities.

[671 WC]


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Tian-Di

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Chuunin
Finishing the slow but sweeping movements that were integral to the form he was practicing Di turned to face Nova. The puppeteer looked to be in good spirits this morning, which fit well with what seemed to be the general tone for the day. While Nova herself was fair for a daughter of man (No doubt her lover Izumi had many rivals) it was her two mechanical constructs that drew most of Di's attention. The spider he had seen before wood and lacquer fashioned into the form of a great arachnid. Now beside the eight legged construct stood a terrible sibling – an armoured automaton of gleaming metal that was unmistakably the progeny of a scorpion and an engine of war.

Di flashed Nova a quick smile before answering her questions.

“Worn out I think. Life here goes by at such a breakneck pace it's sometimes a little hard to keep up with it all. But it's good for me really, being among humans helps get ones perspectives in order. Honestly we dragons tend to focus so highly on the macro we tend to lose track of the fact that personal matters are also very important. People aren't just statistics or faceless commodities to be toyed with and treated as disposable. Each victim the crow faced killer takes has their own dreams and aspirations as well as loved ones that they leave behind.”

As Di spoke he drew his hands forward towards himself focusing chakra throughout his form. Before Nova's eyes Di's skin would begin to flake coming away like blossom being swept from a cherry tree. Beneath were scales of silver and azure hue. Antlers would follow next bursting through the already disintegrating mass that was Di's hat. Finally Di's form would lengthen and twist in a powerful but graceful motion until before her floated Di's true state. What's more the dragon prince had grown since their last meeting now seven and a half meters in length

“I hope your partner Izumi can forgive me for my disgraceful behavior when we last met. Your relationship is a great encapsulation of why valuing life is so important and I would hate to cause strife between you with my actions. As far as ground rules go for the spar – does no eye shots and immediately cease all action when one party yields sound fine to you? If there are other stipulations you would like to place I'm more than willing to accept them.”

Di had sparred with his brothers as well as servants from the various servitor races that served the dragons – Kojin (Shark men) and Suiko (Large relatives of the more common river Kappa) in particular. Allowing the subtle forces that kept him suspended within the air to give way Di landed on the ground raising his front half and readying his clawed arms in a waiting stance. So often people suspected dragons to fight simply as beasts. In foreign lands that may well be the case as Di had heard of such creatures that were distantly related to him but bore little in his kinds great intelligence. Not so here however as Eastern dragons had been practicing the martial arts long before humanity and had even created some of the most popular and enduring examples.

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