Many were the villages that dotted the landscape of the Moonlit Grove, tiny little hamlets home to only a few dozen people. Some were larger than others, of course, becoming sizeable settlements that frequently saw the transit of civilian and shinobi alike. Though numerous, they were spread out enough that communication between them could be scarce. In the lush jungles and woods of the Moonlit Grove, it was quite difficult to get information through. Word of mouth quickly transformed a fairly typical rumour into an outlandish tale that scared the living daylights out of the superstitious villagers that lived in the jungles.
This time, yet another odd tale. An oni in the woods, a menacing presence that scared travellers and attacked any who approached. In the night, it would come to the village in the cover of the darkness and steal children away to eat them… or consume their souls… or any number of terrible things. Though these tales would typically amount to nothing more than folktales for bored villagers and not warrant the attention of the main shinobi body, there had been reliable sightings of a horned being in the woods, as well as the cries of children.
Whatever the reality was, it was worth investigating.
They sent for any available shinobi to look into this case, an open mission of sorts. It wasn’t a high priority, by any means, but Gekkousato would reward any who brought out the truth from this situation. Even a foreign shinobi.
Kanon sat in a peaceful little grove. The smell of tobacco filled the air, the oni woman having taken to smoking her kiseru to pass time. This time, she had simply opted to let her mind wander, contemplating… everything. Past, present, future. Sometimes, it was nice to go with the flow of her mind and feelings while she smoked.
But the cry of a child snapped her out of it. Of course, she was hanging around here for other reasons as well. Children frequently got lost in the woods, and she had taken it upon herself to lead them back to their villages. Being a shinobi, she wasn’t wont to get lost in the woods, nor would she be threatened by the vast majority of creatures that inhabited the Moonlit Grove.
Getting up from her spot, she walked towards the sounds of the kid, very quickly finding her. A small child, maybe seven years old, at most. Her clothes were muddy and her eyes were bloodshot. The moment her eyes laid upon Kanon, she widened them and began to shake in fear, to which Kanon immediately responded by trying to comfort her.
“Shhhh, shhh, it’s okay, dear. I’m not going to hurt you. I know I look scary, but please trust me, okay?” She said to her, slowly making her way towards the child and hugging her. The girl froze… then broke down crying, hugging her back.
“Poor baby, you must’ve been so scared. Don’t worry, I’m going to take you back to mummy and daddy, sweetie. I’ll need you to hold my hand and don’t let go. Can you do that?”
The girl looked at her for a few seconds, then nodded. She was in no mental state to be suspicious of her. She was an adult, so she’d make everything fine again, right?
“Good.” Kanon said with a smile, gently holding the girl’s hand, “Now, tell me what the name of your village is. What it’s like, anything you can think of.”
Kanon could not imagine that she was being tracked.