A bell chimes in the night. Cutting crisply through the silence. A lone figure walks down the deserted street. His rice hat hides his face, but his aura is clear as day. I see him. I hear him. I feel him in my bones. I do not know his name. The chiming of his bell grows louder...louder...soon he's at the my doorstep. He pushes back the curtain, we do not have a door. The incense wafts around him, the purple hue of it commingling with the red and black of his cloak...the light brown of his rice hat. It assaults his nose; I watch him breathe it in.
"I would like my fortune read." He says to an empty room. I am not there, I am never there when the customers first arrive. The beaded curtain rustles as I walk out. My breath is stolen from me. His aura does not match his physical appearance. What I once deciphered as peaceful yet forlorn has transformed into a dark and brooding man. His strong hands are folded in his lap. I sit behind my table which is covered in the old skirts of those Seers who came before me. A time honored tradition of my people. I can see him staring at them.
"Concerning?" Comes my softly voice. It is always soft, as not to disturb the quiet atmosphere of my shoddy little temple. I watch him as he watches me. His eyes betray no emotion to the naked human eye...but I see it. See it buried deep inside. He thinks he is keeping a secret from me, but he isn't. I may not be skilled in the way of the shinobi as he is, but there are other secrets in this world he knows nothing about. I can almost sense in his demeanor; that he thinks less of my people. And yet, certain questions nag at the back of my mind...then why are you here? Why have you come here, great shinobi? Why do you seek our wisdom, if we are below you?
"My health. I have an illness. I am under the assumption it is fatal, and I need to know when it will take me." He speaks of this casually, but I see underneath that. He is frightened. Terribly so. It's in his eyes, you see. They are fathomless, black pits. But I see. He cannot stop me from seeing.
"Put your money on the table. Give me your hands." We all must make our profit some how. He slowly sets his paper money in the wicker basket on the far side of my table. Even slower, he extends his hands to me, gently resting his elbows on the skirts of my ancestors. I take his hands in mine. They are cold, as I expected them to be. Cold, like his soul.
His hands tell a sad, tearful story. These hands caused many deaths. They were soaked in blood, soaked in shame. I took some of that sorrow into my soul, relieving him of just enough to get him to open up. To open up his soul. I see it, then. A festering red energy swelling in his chest. But it is not permanent. It can be relieved.
"Yes, I see your ailment. Buried deep within your chest; in your lungs. But you have been lied to. It is fatal, but it can be removed." At my words, his face forms a scowl. I can see the anger brewing behind his eyes. He pulls his hands away from mine.
"You are not a doctor, gypsy woman. Just tell me how long I have before it takes me." His tone is harsh. My curtain of black hair shades one side of my face as I grasp a burlap bag from underneath my table. Inside it are bones, of many shapes and sizes. They are used to detect the date of someones death. I rest the bag in my lap.
"You intend to let this kill you, Shinobi?" The questions falls over his ears like a tidal wave, but he brushed it off by pretending to ignore me, examining is lacquered nails. I am put off by this. I am good enough to use at your leisure, but not good enough to converse with. That is always how it goes. I reached into the bag, feeling the bones soft, smooth texture under my fingers tips. I pull out a handfull, and toss them across the skirts covering my table. The message is spelled out clearly. I see him trying to make sense of them...trying to read them for himself.
"You have one month."
I see him try to mask the shock. To an untrained eye, he is doing it magnificently. But I see past it, and into the silent storm that rages behind those deep black eyes.
"I need more time. Give me more time." Now he is demanding it. Demanding the skill of my people. If there was one thing that i hated about the Shinobi, it was their lack of appreciation for our art. Our lineage. Just as I lifted my hand to point to the door to direct him out, I caught his eye. His pleading eye.
"Please." The word was whispered, carried on the back of his breath as it ghosted over me. I could smell the illness now, as it invaded my senses. Shaking silently from the chill of it, I nodded.
"Kairi," The name of my younger sister, I call her from her room. I hear her footsteps, the rustle of the beaded curtain, and then she is there in front of us. Her long, golden hair hangs about her cherubic, porcelain-pale face. Weaved into her tresses are feathers of red and blue. I smile at her. "Kairi, this man is in need of your skills. He has a terrible ailment." The explanation must have seemed short to our guest, but he does not know that a majority of our communication happens on a subconscious level. She nods, turning her bright hazel eyes to him.
"Your hand." She says it like an order. She treats the customers differently from I. She has never had much respect for them, but they have no respect for her. If I could, I would treat them the same was as she. He obliges, though, and give her his hand. Her big eyes bore into his, and I can see her ability unraveling before my own. She can look into your very soul, your very existence, pick apart what ails you, and knows just what herbs to combine to combat it. She is a natural born medicine woman. She pulls away after a few moments, her eyes narrowing.
"You're soul is dark. You are lying to yourself. This illness isn't just sickness. This will take more than medicine. Himitsu," As she turns to me, I bow my head. "You're technique will be needed to give him this." She busies herself with gathering the herbs for the man's medicine. He sits patiently in his seat, his black eyes watching us. I move to collect the bones on my table, when his hand shoots out and wraps around my wrist. There was no way I could have been quick enough to pull away. His speed was incredible.
"Those bones. Are they human?" His question is light, but I can tell he really wishes to know. I nod slowly.
"Yes. These are the bones of our mothers. Eventually, my bones will reside in this bag, and so will Kairi's." I explain. I can tell by the look on his face that this tradition was foreign to him. It confused him, and he pulled away from me. Suddenly, there was a crash.
"Curse it all!" Kairi hissed her words as she stared at the broken glass. Her hands were shaking.
I just couldn't hold the glass jar, I couldn't grip it, couldn't wrap my hands around it because of the images of the man. When I had grabbed the customers hand, even though I was thoroughly disgusted by him, I saw into his past and I saw this beautiful man. He was wearing the same black cloak as our customer, but his hair was long and yellow. His eyes were blue, peircing, and there was nothing separating me from him but the distance of wherever he was. I only hoped that the image of him would stay with me long enough to draw him.
You see, I'm not only a medicine maker. I can look into the future, just like my sister. But I cannot speak of what I see. I can only reproduce it with my hands. I've found away around it by drawing what I see, with rice paper and a stick of coal. I shut my eyes tight. I don't want to forget his face.
Once I collect all of my ingredients, I sit down behind my table and begin my work. I was gripping the mortar and pestle tightly. His face was fading...fading fast...with one last grind to the herbs and oil, the medicine was complete...but his face...I was forgetting it...
Suddenly, the temple is flooded with sunlight as the curtain is pulled open. It blinds me, and I raises my arm to shield my eyes. I hear him before I see him.
"Uchiha. Why are you wasting your money in a place like this, uh? I didn't peg you as the superstitious type." His voice is silk, and it caresses my ear. The sunlight fades as the curtain is closed. I finally look at him. I cannot breathe. His long blond hair, done up in such a way that is indicative of Iwagakure. His blue eyes shine in the dim light. His is glaring at our customer. They much know each other. None of that matters. He is here, and I don't want him to ever leave.
But then I notice the man behind him. The chain around his neck. Rage sinks in to my bones.
"Get out of here, you demon!" I scream. His white hair is slicked back. He has a scythe on his back that is larger than me! He is a follower of Jashin, the Bringer of Death. To have him in our temple is blashphemy!
He grabs his scythe. The man with blonde hair turns, shoving the demon toward the opening of the temple. "Just get out, hmm. You piss people off wherever we go. I'm just going to stop bringing you!"
The demon is gone, and I can breathe easier. The man turns to me. My hands begin to shake. He opens his mouth to speak.
"If you think that's bad, try living with him." He is talking to me. I nod my head.
"We do not wish to have scum such as him in our temple. But you...you can stay here if you'd like. To wait for your comrade." I want him to stay for...other reasons, but those were to remain my private thoughts for the time being.
He is grinning at me now. I glance over at my sister. What have we started?
((POV Change – Third Person Past Tense))
Himitsu took the vial that her little sister offered her, bowing her head. "You're skills never cease to amaze me, little sister." She smiled affectionately, and yet she doesn't miss that longing look in her customer's eyes. She knew he missed his younger sibling. She had sensed it when she's read his future. Perhaps he had a little sister as well? Musing this over in her head, the Himitsu turned back to the man.
"Please follow me to the back, I need to administer this. You will have to come here once every two months." She explained as she showed him the way. As he passed through the beaded curtain that separated the front tables from the rest of the temple, he realized upon closer inspection they weren't really beads, but rather shells.
"These are from the ocean…but you are so far inland." He offered. Small talk. Himitsu nodded, agreeing with him.
"Yes, I know. Kairi made it. We each are meant to go on a journey and bring back something we've found while away." She said as they finally reached the dark, smoky room where the customer would receive his medicine. "Lay here on the mat, please. This shouldn't take very long." She pointed to a soft mat that lay in the center of the room. He settled down there, and Himitsu busied herself with unzipping his long black cloak with those curious red clouds. The blond man who still resided in the front of the temple with her sister wore the same one. Perhaps they were in a gang?
"Where did you go?" The customer's voice cut through her thoughts. She shook her head, pushing the sides of his cloak open.
He folded his hands across his lap, getting comfortable. "You said your people travel. Where did you go?"
Himitsu reached for the vial, before pushing up the customer's black fishnet shirt. She was unable to stop the blush that crept up her cheeks. She was new to all of this, her mother only having died a single winter ago. This wasn't her first administration, mind you, but it was the first time the customer had been so closer to her age…and so handsome. Dismissing these thoughts, she took the vial into her hands and poured some of it into her small hands.
"I haven't gone yet. Our mother died shortly after Kairi got back. I had to stay with her to support her, and then we had to take over this temple." She said as she spread the oily medicine over his solar plexus and up his chest. She heard him take a sharp breath. It must have stung.
"I'm sorry for your loss."
She wiped her hands on a rag near a small table to her right, and grabbed a stick of incense and held it over the flame of a flickering candle, which was the only light in the room. As the stick began to burn, she ran it centimeters above the oil on his chest. The oil caught on fire, and he gasped.
"What are you-"
"Be calm." She whispered as the fire burned out. His chest was dry after this, and he looked shocked. He reached up and wiped his chest, before pulling his shirt down. He sat up, eyeing her. She suddenly wanted to be anywhere but under that gaze. She picked absentmindedly at her fingernails.
"You won't be charged for this session. But you must come at this time, two months from now. It will be the same every time. Kairi keeps an amazing mental record of all of our customer's medicines. I just…need your name?" She whispered, standing up. He followed, zipping up that curious cloak.
His eyes met mine again, but now they were red instead of that deep black she'd come to covet so much. She gasped, her knees shaking.