Bazaar Encounters (Open|NK)

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Bazaar Encounters (Open|NK)

Post by Roku on Sat Apr 14, 2018 12:12 pm

Until you managed to memorize what the sun’s position in the sky was at certain times of the day, and how to find it in spite of the blinding glare that surrounds it, there was not an accurate way to know what time it was without a timepiece. Shadows were only useful points of reference when you were aware of what direction you were facing while observing them. And if the shadows weren’t cast by the sun then they were never reliable in the first place, were they? The exact time of day didn’t really matter, but not knowing every minor detail left his understanding too incomplete to come to a conclusion about it. At this point it seemed that one tiny detail was another lost to his memory, and he was really the only one who still cared to know, so moving past that was the current change Rokumaru was working towards.

Intentionally distracting himself was a concept that sounded unreasonable to Roku at the time, preferring to remain aware of everything that happens in his general area. Now, however, it further emphasized how unreasonable and unpredictable the human mind could be. Focusing on determining the time had kept the teenager occupied for nearly a year now and was a fun side project, but the disappointment of never finding an answer would have to be eroded by time rather than introspection. The annoyance he felt will be much harder to dispose of.

In the end, stressing over what time it happened made a fine addition to his collection of distractions, actually managing to beat out the metallic taste that he could feel faintly in his mouth when this dream came. Rokumaru’s sense of smell had always been underperforming, but sometimes he wondered if there were any scents that would have made for decent focuses. His father had often said that the smell of burning flesh was simultaneously repulsive and appetizing, similar to roasting pork, and Rokumaru was sure that such a scent would have made it into his memory if the boy had been paying better attention at the time. The foremost three distractions were all excellent in their own right, with the damned time being a solid third that would be hard to beat.

The redhead realized he had managed to wake up when the echoes of a dog’s bark made its quiet way past his window, the sudden silence a jarring yet welcome change. Dim electrical light shining through the sheet Roku had cut into a curtain cast pale yellow hourglasses on his wall, and he sat up in bed to stare at them for a while while he regained his breath. Looking at the distance between each one revealed that he had been imprecise with his measurements and cut the shapes out of position, but at the moment he could appreciate that they were there. It had been so long since he had that particular nightmare; it dampened his spirits to know that was still an annoyance he was stuck with.

The novelty of staring at the shapes of light on his shadowed wall wore off within a few minutes and Rokumaru pulled himself out of bed to take down the imperfect sheet, the stiff joints in his body popping on his way to the window. Pulling aside the glass barrier flooded the room with cool desert air; another few minutes were spent enjoying the crisp nighttime breeze, weaving the spiky locks of maroon hair he allowed to grow to his collarbone into their two tidy braids. Roku shook his head slowly and enjoyed the rhythmic tapping they made against his neck. He dug under his blanket for his kunai and cut the curtain/sheet into long, thin strips before rolling the cloth into a ball and tossing it in the closet for later.

From his closet Rokumaru pulled together an outfit to wear from his collection of dusty trousers and shirts, choosing a pair of shinobi boots to wear as well and sat on his bed while lacing them. Clean clothing was a luxury in the water-scarce village of Suna which meant that many simply wore their least dirty items of clothing, with all laundry handled by professional businesses that washed clothing in bulk loads. Roku, wearing a pair of grey trousers with a hole in its pocket and his favorite dark red shirt, collected his dirty clothing scattered around the bedroom into a pile before stuffing it all into a laundry bag made from polyester. This bag was tossed against the front door as Rokumaru continued his morning routine.

The apartment Rokumaru occupied contained no refrigeration unit nor a freezer forcing the boy to stock his cabinets with non-perishable items, and the yawning redhead looked through the sparse contents of his food supply. Stale bread and canned legumes did not seem to catch his interest, and the boy deduced he would buy himself a meal instead from the Bazaar. Looking at the clock that hung in his wall, he knew the villagers would rise and begin their day long before the sun ever did. Deciding to get his own day started, Roku grabbed his bag of dirty laundry and left.

While locking up his front door behind him the redhead picked a route through the village to the Bazaar, carrying the polyester bag with his laundry over his shoulder to drop off along the way. Laundry was a hassle that Rokumaru could deal with, mostly because it involved dumping it off onto someone who was paid to deal with it.

The immense amount of free time at his disposal was a much more daunting foe to overcome; he hoped a meal and a trip to the wall would take up his time until morning.

In the Academy there was a clear and straightforward schedule to his day; wake up, attend the Academy, go to his residence and review the lecture notes or recover from his near-perfect streak of sparring losses. When he was finished then only a few hours of daylight would remain, easily spent wandering the village or reading ahead in his textbook. Before the Academy was a brief period much like the one he was in now that was spent waiting. The time before that was spent in the hospital, sedated by something or other to the point that the days passed too quickly. I should take a course at the hospital sometime soon. I wonder what sort of plants they used. Taking a shortcut down an alleyway and nodding at a young civilian man rolling tobacco into a paper, Roku wondered if there was a genjutsu that could mimic that sedative effect.

Soon he came to a one-story sandstone building decorated only with a wooden sign stating the business’ name, one familiar to Rokumaru as he patronized the establishment at least once a week, and entered the well-lit lobby through a glass door. The lobby was a small room with a single door leading into the employee area behind a stone-top counter where a brunette woman in her early 40’s stood writing on short slips of paper with a graphite pencil, who looked up upon hearing the Bell that announced Rokumaru’s entrance. The bag over the boy’s bony shoulder made it clear he was here to drop off his dirty clothing, and the woman tapped the counter in front of her to indicate he should leave it there.

The redhead did just so, setting the bag down with a faint thud that revealed how full he had packed it, but the woman took it regardless before handing over a receipt for Rokumaru to sign. He wrote down his name and address, handing the receipt back along with his payment which the woman put into a box beneath the counter.

“Before you ask,” the dark-haired civilian woman cut in after taking his payment, “we are waiting on a delivery of scented oils to arrive, so we will only be able to wash, press and dry your clothing.”

“Very well,” the redhead replied with a hint of disappointment. The scent of lavender was one he was fixated upon at the moment, and he enjoyed when his clothing wafted the aroma in his wake.

The woman took his bag into the back room and Rokumaru left, satisfied to have his laundry issue taken care of. With a strict rationing of water in place, launderers in Suna were allowed only the minimum amount of water to wash clothing in, and so stone presses and bulk washing was necessary to handle the load of dirty clothing the village could create. Some claimed it was a waste of resources, but Rokumaru was thankful that the industry was there. Sand could be comfortable in certain situations, but not when it finds itself into his clothing and rubs at his soft skin as he moves.

Dawn was approaching the village now with the faint brightening of the distant sky and a faint change in temperature beginning to rise, meaning the village would soon be awake in its entirety. Knowing most places of business should be opening if they were not open already Rokumaru set off in the direction of the Grand Bazaar to find something to break his fast.

The streets became slightly more and more crowded as he approached Sunagakure’s financial district, the many civilians that made their living there setting off for their place of business, and Rokumaru let himself be enveloped in the small crowds that flowed through the streets. While normally not a fan of strangers and being around them, crowds of people that so often were a fixture of the Bazaar were something that Roku was fond of being a part of. There was anonymity in crowds, everyone simply focusing on their own life and where they had to go. It reminded the boy that each of these people were their own unique entity with dreams and desires. Sonder, such a realization was called, and the crowds of the Bazaar emphasized to Rokumaru what sonder was. Each of these people had their own lives which were connected by their village, and so relied on each other even if they did not know it. It was his community, and Roku was happy to be a part of it.

He passed by a building that housed a shop selling cuts of fish, rice and vegetables in a dish called sushi, a dish Rokumaru could feel himself craving when he caught sight of a man filleting a fish on a countertop through the glass display window. The decision made for him, Roku jostled his way through the crowd and entered the building, a bell ringing as the door tapped it on its way open.

The shop was a long stone counter with stools in front of them for patrons to sit at, with small tables and chairs tucked into the corners to conserve the limited space. A few people sat around the room, eating their sushi with long wooden sticks, and Rokumaru joined the ones sitting at the counter. The man behind the counter cutting the fish continued his work, Roku watching silently and patiently, before a younger man just a few years older than himself exited the backroom and made his way to the counter. “Welcome,” the brown-haired bespectacled man greeted the redhead. “Are you ready to order?”

Rokumaru briefly scanned the wooden sign mounted on the wall behind the counter, not knowing a single thing about what any of the various sushi rolls contained, and drummed his fingers rhythmically against the counter. “Surprise me, if you would,” Rokumaru said after a few silent moments. The man taking his order let his customer-friendly smile drop a bit, annoyed by the customers indecisiveness, but regained it in full before writing the word Makizushi on his notepad and taking it into the backroom. Rokumaru drummed his fingers against the stone top counter as he watched a set of patrons set down a small stack of ryo and leave, leaving Rokumaru the sole customer besides an old man reading a book at one of the corner tables, empty plate with crumbs set on the table before him. Never having had sushi before Rokumaru was not sure how long it took to prepare, and so he passed the time waiting by watching the crowd of faces pass by the storefront.

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