As the Fox appeared, Kanari tilted his ears towards her while maintaining his glare at the "Kemurikage." Her voice was strange, though he knew it could be no one else. "Well done, Fox." Kanari was brief, but the situation demanded it. The notion of a Suna ANBU attempting to murder one of Konoha's own was more than a little disturbing, however. If Kyōsuke couldn't even control his own ANBU, what could he do? An ironic thought, of course, given the nature of the Darkeater, though not hypocritical.
He gently raised his free hand and waved a wave that would seem to suggest "hold steady."
"Barbarous and greedy? Hah! That's rich. Do not act like your village is any different than ours, Kanari. We are not some villain, and your people are no saints. If you're going to lead your people to war, at least be honest with your reasons."
Kanari watched with unmoved eyes as the woman before him spewed whataboutisms and references to the past- as if it even held weight. Had Konoha subjugated Kumo? Yes. Was Kanari intimately involved in the events of the ensuing rebellion? Yes. Even so, a sharp gust escaped his nostrils at the mere notion that that was relevant. In his eyes, stained by zeal and the power of the status quo, Kumogakure was at its best during those many decades of servitude and, most importantly, there was peace. It was their rebellion that cost so many lives. It was their people that incited an all out war. And it was that war which Kemuri used to annex Konoha land! Land Kemuri then used to bridge their homeland with a sovereign minor country they conquered! They were no different? Sure, but only if the world had forgotten context.
"Konohagakure warred against Kumogakure for nearly ten years in order to maintain its place as their ruler. All that came from the occupation was status and riches to yours, without concern for Kumogakure's people. And yet, you call us the greedy ones? At least my predecessors cared for those that they took over."
A 10 year war to reestablish peace... A peace that had lasted for decades prior... A disintegrated peace that led your people to do what you now seem to hold so detestable...
Had she really just condemned Konoha's occupation of Kumo while they occupied Ame no Kuni? Could she really not see the wealth they had plundered and siphoned from the place her own Kage's father ruled so harshly?! Kanari was now stuck in his own head, constantly repeating his logic for this war as she continued to demonize herself in his eyes. Each word was another brick in the foundation that affirmed his belief more strongly than ever. These people are not fit to rule.
She spoke of the past, where shinobi that no longer live made decisions that Kanari could take no responsibility for. But who were those shinobi? Members of an alliance that had existed for the better part of a century between Konoha and Oto itself. These people... Kanari sneered in his head; to him, now more than ever, they seemed like children carrying explosive tags. Stupid, naive, dangerous. Had she, who preached for an independent Kumogakure, forgotten that it was a former Otokage who deemed their village too dangerous to be allowed to persist? Had she, who condemned those that accepted prosperity at the expense of others, forgotten that Oto had been siphoning money from Kumo alongside Konoha?! Was she, whose village marched through and taken friendly territory, really surprised at the animosity?!? Had she, who seemed so invested in the past, forgotten that it was Saizo's own father who occupied sovereign land in an attempt to rekindle the superpower that Oto used to be?!?!
What crazed nonsense is all this... Kanari might not have been wise, but he knew war. He studied war, he studied wars past, he studied what caused them, who won them, why. Now this facade dare lecture him on such misguided views of what had brought them here?! Kanari gripped tightly at his staff and gritted tightly at his teeth, his slightly protruding jawline being their tell. It was then, however, that a voice of reason spoke up.
"You're showing our shinobi mercy. What is your goal in this war? Is it to take out those in charge that you deem so barbaric? If that is your aim, then why don't we settle this between us and leave the rest of our people out of it: The Hokage versus the Kemurikage?"
Turning to meet the other woman, Kanari relaxed a touch. Widening his eyes in disbelief at this offer, Kanari actually cracked a smile. An interesting pair... He noted; admittedly somewhat respectful of this woman's tact and poise. He hated to admit it, but he could almost see them being adequate enough to warrant the post.
"You are definitely a brave women, "Kemurikage," I will give it to you. Hokage versus Kemurikage, one battle to report the war and reinforce lives... I will accept it gladly." This was exactly what Kanari had wanted, the chance to end the war swiftly and without bloodshed. In a single bout, the world would be spared a country so steeped in greed, violence and blindness.
It was then that Seto and Saya arrived with words of their success and failure. Having had a clone in that room, Kanari knew their status, but the aerial confirmation that Saizo was not in the vicinity solidified his decision. Extending the same gesture he had given Rei, the Handsome Hokage turned on his heel to face all of his subordinates.
These were good people, these were his people. Importantly, these were strong people, people that had more than proved their capability to end what Kanari saw as a certain path towards global war. If he could help it, he wouldn't have placed any of them in this position; but Kemurigakure had showed its hand, that its ambitions superseded even the goodwill of former allies and friendly nations. Closing his eyes, the Handsome Hokage softly nodded his head before turning back to face the Pairkage; they had still not reconciled the most tragic misguidance: that Saizo was alive and well. Until he came to justice for his part in disrupting years of peace, this village was still his. Until he came forward, renounced the atrocities of his father and returned the land he had seized, the man did nothing but further Kanari's trust that a Kemuri under Saizo would be more of the same.
"What shame because Kemurikage is not here!" In a sudden flicker, the Handsome Hokage would be reduced to a blur as another swathe of the enemy score dropped to the grass and he returned to the front of the gate facing the Konoha shinobi.
"Genin, send the security guards! Everyone, stop this gate! Remembering: Do not kill the enemy!"
With that, Kanari turned and lunged forward to the gate and forced the head of his staff into its wooden face.
316/320 Gate HP