Chapter 3-Kiyoko's Story
"So do you want to tell me what's going on?"
Kiyoko looked up at him as if he would eat her, tears forming in the corners of her eyes.
"Look, Kiyoko. I'm not going to hurt you, but I do need to know what the situation is if I'm going to help you at all. I can't leave you here and I can't bring you back to my Hokage without knowing why you're here in the first place."
Kiyoko realized he had a point, she was asking him for help and he was willing to give it, he deserved to know what her story was. "Ok."
Raido thought she sounded like someone who was being marched off to her own execution. "Let's sit down in the shade. And here." He pulled some of his emergency food out of his pack and handed it to her. "I know you said you weren't hungry but you sure look it."
She took the food gratefully and followed him to shade while she wolfed it down. "First, may I know your name also? Or aren't you allowed to tell it to me?"
Raido almost laughed out loud. "I can tell you my name. I'm Raido Namiashi. I'm a member of the Hokage guard in Konoha." He left out that he was also an assassin, that was more likely to terrify her than anything else.
Kiyoko's eyes widened, a hokage guard! "Does that mean the Hokage is around here?"
Raido chuckled, "No. I'm on a mission." He left out that it was probably a fake one.
"Well, you already know my name. So I'll start at the beginning. My mother died a few years ago leaving my father to care for myself and my two younger brothers. We lived on a farm, my brothers helped with the farming and I helped in the house. Although I know my way around the farm pretty well."
"My father decided to remarry this year, he'd met a woman who had two daughters of her own. She took a disliking to me because I wasn't hers. And two weeks ago when my father and brothers left town she sold me to a slave trader." She looked at Raido trying to determine his reaction.
"Really? How do I know you're not lying to me? How do I know that dumb and dumber's story isn't the real one?" He doubted it was. He knew Iwagakure and Takegakure and knew that it was more likely she had been sold than that they had offered her passage in exchange for housework.
"Well," she faltered, "I guess you'll just have to take my word on it."
"So why'd you run away?"
She looked up at him with fear. "Because they didn't buy me to clean their house." She hoped that he got the meaning she was trying to get across.
A light came on in Raido's head. Hadn't the younger one said something, he thought back to the conversation. He'd said 'I didn't think she was meant to clean the house.' Yes and then Funio had tried to shut him up. Raido had been suspicious at the time but now his worst fears were confirmed. He was disgusted to think that some men stooped to that level just to feed their appetites. He looked her over, if she'd been clean she was probably fairly pretty. "may I ask how old you are?"
She looked up at him, she'd told him the truth, and he hadn't rejected her story, yet . "I'm twentyeight."
Raido was shocked. "You're a little old to be living at home, aren't you?"
She shrugged. "I didn't want to marry the first guy that came along, I wanted to be in love. And after my mother died I was busy taking care of my father and brothers, and the house. There wasn't much time for boys. Although I suppose marrying the first guy would have been better than this."
"Hmmm, maybe. Oh well. What's done is done."
"Are you going to return me to them? Now that you know they own me?" Her terror showed in her eyes. She knew he was an elite ninja but she wouldn't go back, not without a fight. She'd rather die.
Raido was surprised by her question. This girl, she kept catching him off guard. "No. We have laws against slavery here in the Fire Country. If it got back to my Hokage that I'd returned you...well let's just say that it wouldn't be pretty and I'd probably be out of a job."
"So what will you do with me?"
"Well first we are going to retrieve your clothes." He got up to go get them and she followed. "I understand; why you don't want to leave my sight. Those two slugs outweigh you by a lot, you wouldn't have a chance against them."
She followed him down to the rock where her clothes where drying in the sun. They were dry and as stiff as boards. The mud had rinsed out of them but they were filthy and they still smelled. She collected them and shook out the pants so she could put them on.
Raido looked away while she changed shirts. He had to give it to her, she was tough. He knew a lot of girls who would have refused to put those rags back on. When she was done she cleared her throat, "Here's your shirt. Thank you for letting me use it. I'm afraid it smells a little."
Raido grimaced, it smelled a lot. "So did you escape from them in Takegakure?"
"No, we were outside of town but not very far outside."
"How did you get all the way here? That's almost a two day walk."
"I know. I ran it."
Raido's respect for her went up a notch. "How long have you been out here?" Hadn't Fumio said they had been looking for her for three days?
"Ummm. I escaped the day before yesterday, it was just about midnight. I ran as far as I could that first night and then rested. When I woke up I ran all day and then hid in some bushes to sleep. I did the same today, until you found me. I was resting in that bush and trying to figure out what I was going to do. I lost my sandals yesterday and that slowed me down."
"And in the middle of all that you fell in the mud and ran into a skunk?" This girl was possibly having an even worse week than he was.
"No. I didn't fall in anything. As soon as I could find water I rolled in the mud."
Raido looked at her questioningly.
She sighed, didn't he know anything? "We used to play hide and seek on the farm when I was young. It's much harder to find someone who blends in and mud makes you blend in when you're in the forest."
"And the skunk?"
"That was intentional also. Although it was luck that brought him across my path. The first night I was out here I was hiding and a skunk came looking for food near me. I got the idea that if I got sprayed it would keep other animals off of me, and perhaps the smell would keep Fumio and Kin from searching the bushes if they smelled it first. I hope it fades soon."
Raido laughed out loud. "I'm impressed. You've found camouflage, and covered your scent. Plus you found food to eat on the run."
"Well, the skunk thing was luck. It didn't occur to me until the last moment, but thank you."
"I have one last question."
"When I first found you, you had no chakra signature at all, but you have one now. How did you do that?" He was suspicious that she could mask her chakra.
"When I was a child one of the boys who liked me at school was trying to train as a ninja. He tried to teach me a few of the things he learned in order to impress me. The only one I ever mastered was hiding my chakra signature. It helps that I don't have much chakra to begin with, I think."
Raido was really impressed and he wasn't angry anymore. He wanted to help this brave young lady. "So do you want to go back to Iwagakure?"
"I don't think that's a good idea. There's nothing there for me anymore. My stepmother rules the house and she'll just accuse me of lying anyway. But I don't know where to go. Is there a village near here that I might be able to find work in?"
"I don't think so. And besides, you'd risk staying too close to Takegakure. I think you should come back to Konoha. Perhaps my Hokage can help you. If that's ok with you."
Kiyoko nodded that she was willing to give it a try. What could go wrong? She didn't have anywhere else to go.
"Now, lets feed you."
"Please don't leave me."
Raido considered the situation. He knew he didn't want to hunt with her on his elbow but he also understood her fear. "Here's what I'll do." He picked her up and leaped up onto a low tree branch. "I'll stay close so you can see me. But I need to find you some real food because we have a long walk back tomorrow."
Kiyoko settled onto the tree branch. "Ok. You're right. I'll wait here." She had no choice but to trust him again, he didn't seem like the type of guy that would go back on his word.
She watched him from the tree as he drew a small amount of string out of his pocket and sat down on the river, her eyes widened, she'd never seen anyone sit on the water. It took him about an hour but he turned around triumphant with four good sized fish in his hand. He leaped up to the branch she was sitting on and said "hold these. I'm going to gather some wood for a fire." And then he jumped back down.
Kiyoko had never seen a real ninja in action before but she'd heard stories about them, especially the Leaf Shinobi. They could single-handedly overpower ten men at a time, leap over canyons so wide you couldn't see the other side and walk straight up cliffs on their flat feet. Somehow she felt a little let down that he had to gather firewood to cook the fish.
He returned with some wood, retrieved her and the fish from the tree and set to building a fire.
"Aren't you worried that the fire will let people know you are here?"
Raido looked up from his work. The sun was beginning to set and he knew they needed to spend the night out here. "Not really. They already know I'm here and I don't think they offer much of a threat to me. Sure they could get reinforcements and come back but we'll be gone before they get here."
Kiyoko was in awe of her rescuer, to not be afraid, she wished she could do that. It seemed like the last few weeks had been nothing but fear for her. "So how long have you been an ninja?"