The streets were bustling with the midday market. People from all over the world we're currently making their way through the financial heart of the village. There were all kinds of people. Foreign merchants peddling their goods, yelling at passersby to try and grab their attention. Local merchants enjoying the luxury of having regulars as they bartered with friendly faces. Various patrons of both kinds of businesses, some shouting back as strange items caught their eyes. Neighborhood moms haggling over prices of scallions and meats. There were of course people who simply came to eat. From office workers, manual labourers and even Shinobi.
Shizuka was one such Shinobi. She sat at an izakaya that served ramen noodles. There she had ordered a small-sized shio ramen. All around her the noise drowned out itself. From sounds of shouting, haggling and general chatter, from the clattering of utensils on bowls, the overly enthusiastic greetings from restaurants staff members. The market was truly a hub of people. Shizuka played with her food, shifting the scallions in her soup and pulling on her noodles a little bit. She took a sip of her tea and then cut her boiled egg in half. Humans were a social animal, the need to converse with others was a deeply instilled nature of them. There Shizuka sat, drowning out the unnecessary noises.
The sound of the slurpy eater as the noodles whipped about his face. Ignore the noise of the kettle in the back kitchen whistling away. Drown out the waiter loudly stacking bowls and chopsticks. Shizuka listened carefully almost putting herself in a trance. She could hear little thuds, like miniature drums here and there. There was a party of them just entering the restaurant. Construction workers, they had just got off for lunch, still upbeat from their work. Irregular beats? Shizuka honed in, was it from anxiety? There were two of them but they belonged to an old couple. Their opinion on the current political affairs didn't interest her.
Shizuka returned back to the normal world. She slurped at her ramen a bit, tasting the savory broth and chewy noodles. Her inner sanctum was currently at peace. Sometimes letting the children out to play brought her sanity she rarely got. She took another sip of her tea, enjoying the slightly bitter taste that it had. Despite the hot food and drink, she would feel a chill creep through her. She would let out a satisfied sigh from her tea, it would be the last moment of silence for a long time.
"Eheee Shizu-chan, the young couple over at the Dango store are talking about what to do when they get home. He's trying to guess what color she is going to use today." Shizuka wished she could drown out the noise of her new resident. Yet, that would mean ignoring herself as well. She took a bite out of a piece of charsiu and waiting for the resident from room 1 to say something.
"Hmmph you were sent to do a job, not drool on young children. You should be ashamed."
"There is nothing wrong with love! Also, I bet everyone looks young to you, you old bag of dust. I bet you died a virgin."
"HA! The only thing I've done more than slay people with my blade was to lay women with my C-."
"-Chicken Dumplings please!" Shizuka shouted out. The kitchen in the back called back out to her and would soon bring her 4 small potstickers.
Shizuka took a deep breath, trying to keep her cool. The Yurei clan needed to do a sort of personality test. To see if the spirits would work well together. Some spirits even needed to be just let go from the clan. For one, sexual degenerates was a group she wished was let go of and ancient dust bags were another. "Anything actually useful?"
"The tea merchant? The one that moves around in the cart. He's not a merchant." Shizuka paid for her for food and thanked the owner. She would leave the restaurant and immediately her eyes would scan for the tea cart. The spirits might have had their flaws but they were still members of the Yurei clan. They had the same training as Shizuka and more experience than her. Her eyes caught the cart being pushed by a man she did not recognize.
"Look at his hands." They were slender, with knicks and cuts. "My girlfriend's family were tea merchants. Their fingers were always swollen and red from all the boiling hot water..." Shizuka approached the cart, smiling at the man. His face was leathered from the sun. Shizuka thanked the man for the tea, holding onto his hands as she handed him over a few coins. She winked at him before moving away. "His hands are calloused from a tool... like a blade." The man could be a farmer, it would explain the suntan and calloused hands. The thickened skin from sickles and spades.
"Well... he's not tea merchant." His water looked warm, which was understandable IF it had not been midday. The time of day was busiest. Any self-respecting merchant would have stopped to make sure his water was boiled to the right temperature.
"He didn't even rinse the dry leaves to activate them either..." He was not a local, not a tea merchant nor was he a farmer. The distinct smell of manure and dirt was missing from them. Instead the smell of ashen fires and dry sweat... Mountain bandits. Shizuka would follow him from a distance, watching for what he watched. There was a big heist that was being planned. Shizuka would report it to the village.