Awake The Snake - Pt. 4


Shuuren, Anzu

Date: February 5, 2017


Anzu undertakes her trials to be permitted to make a contract with the snakes of Ryuuchi Cave.

"Awake The Snake - Pt. 4"

Ryuuchi Cave

As the wave of smoke fades from around the group, it becomes apparent that they have indeed changed locations. Rather than an open clearing, they now stand in a cave. Not only that, but they are before a giant throne that is a giant slab with designs of red clouds around a solid blue center stripe. Behind it stand many enormous pillars formed with spirals like snakes all the way up to the cave ceiling. Sitting upon this throne is a white snake even larger than Ryutaro that seems to be an elder compared to him.

There are very few times one will see Shuuren offer a bow first as if to denote respect for a position equal to or even higher than his own. This is one of those times apparently, and even Ryutaro seems to have his head bowed out of respect.

"Elder," the Daimyo greets him before rising back upright. He then gestures toward Anzu to introduce her. "This is Anzu." And then to her companion. "And this is Astarot."

"Shuuren-san." The elder serpent looks to the suit-clad man before looking over to those he is introducing. "… This is the one you've chosen as your apprentice then?" His tone, though authoritative, doesn't appear to be one that would denote he's judged her either way just yer. Giant yellow eyes, however, study her and Astarot over as he flicks his tongue to catch their scent to help him to study them.

Anzu stands before the elder, keeping her head bowed respectfully, unsure of protocol for snakes. Astarot has come along for the ride of course and seems sedate about the entire situation… Though coiling subtly into a defensive posture around his charge, just in case.

Perhaps Astarot can sense the elder's power or something. But if Shuuren is bowing, then Anzu will be too. Maybe even more deeply, given her even lower stature! She has little to offer right now, given it's not her place to speak… But if she is invited to, she will do so. While she's never been scared of snakes, she also respects that she could probably be gobbled up in an instant if she does the wrong thing.

Respecting the threat to one's life for Anzu does not mean she is afraid. Those Cloud Ninja scared her more than the Elder. But she did not respect them.

Astarot tastes the air as well, but if he is the type of snake that talks, he has no words to offer right now.

"Hai, Elder. As I'm sure you can tell, I believe she has quite a bit of potential locked away that would make her worthy of being the next partner of your clan under my tutelage," Shuuren says with a nod, keeping his eyes fixed upon the Elder for now. He speaks with a respectful tone, though with enough conviction that one can tell he believes what he is saying.

Looking down at Shuuren and the other two, the Elder squints slightly in thought before he finally nods. "Very well, Shuuren-san, but, as you know, all must earn their place and prove their worth to be granted a contract with us."

"Of course."

The Elder looks to Ryutaro a moment before returning his eyes to Anzu with a rather serious look. "… As I'm sure Shuuren has informed you, there is turmoil amongst the summon clans. Many are attacking others' summoners in an attempt to weaken them. Shuuren himself has already been dealing with this, but it will give you a good chance to prove yourself if you fight at his side against one of the clans that has made itself our enemy. Ryutaro has information on the movements of one of these clans through an informant. Aid them in halting the coming attacks and your trial will be passed."

Anzu bows even though she's already bowing, as she is informed of what she is to do next. "Hai, Elder-sama! I'll definitely do my best—No, I mean I'll carry out the instructions and complete the trial! There's no way I'd let the snake village be in danger from whoever is causing trouble!" Sure, she barely has any ninja training at all, but maybe Shuuren is banking on her tapping into her potential intuitively, spurred on by the heat of battle and the drive to survive.

Of course, there's always the chance that this won't work and she'll die, and then he'll have to explain to Anzu's mother, but them's the breaks with snakes.

At the very least, Astarot is here to help protect her as well, and he possesses hidden power all his own. Mostly so as not to draw undue attention to his charge than because he doesn't know how to use it though.

That being said, the kimono-clad teenager hopes her response was acceptable. While she has no fear of snakes, nor even giant snakes, she respects the authority that the Elder wields. She's kind of weird like that. Even a horrible monster is less scary to her than a horrible monster with a badge. Perhaps why she is so eager to please Shuuren as well, given he's the Daimyou of a country.

"Very good. Well met, Anzu-san. I'm certain we will meet again soon," the Elder says with a nod to Anzu. That appears to be the signal for them to be ushered off, as Ryutaro turns to move into another room within the cave system. Shuuren follows right behind him to find out what animal group they're having trouble with this time.

Assuming they all follow, Ryutaro would turn to look at them. "This will be your chance, Anzu-san… If you pass this test, I'll be able to offer you the contract at the end and then you can learn the technique for summoning from Shuuren." After a brief pause, he says, "We are going up against another animal clan. The Racoon Clan has decided to try their hand at taking out Shuuren after the Mongooses didn't quite get the job done. We've planted information with them that he was weakened by their attacks after the poison that hit him a while back left him weakened as well. They'll be expecting to come upon an easy prey… and they will be dealt with."

After moving into the other cave with Ryutaro, Shuuren would listen intently to the serpentine giant's words and offer a simple nod in understanding. "The trap should be pretty easy to lay then. Perhaps I could feign a boat trip with minimal security under the guise of secretly going to get treatment and perform some business tasks in another country."

Listening raptly to the description of the situation, the plans, and the interworkings of animal politics, Anzu keeps her mouth shut once more. She may have seemed like an energetic and talkative and maybe even slightly silly girl at first back at the inn, but she clearly has situational awareness, knowledge of basic manners, and is capable of recognizing when it is better to remain silent, listen, and learn.

Fast-forward some time after the team leaves the cave and secretly winds up back in Tea Country… Nagamura Shuuren doesn't often leave without his normal personal guard or his assistant, but something is obviously up today. There wasn't really any announcement of his departure, meaning perhaps the trip was last minute or secret. Perhaps the oddest thing was that his suit was covered by something other than a formal cloak. This time it was a white shroud draped over him. One might easily enough recognize his form since he's not completely covered, but his features are veiled for some reason.

The small speed ship the Daimyo moved out rather quickly, apparently built for speed in departure just as much as voyage due to some mechanisms he designed. He currently stands at the helm himself, the hood of his shroud covering his body still as he sails seemingly toward the Land of the Sea, a place he has been visiting a lot lately. Perhaps the injuries from the attacks he's suffered lately were worse than he imagined and he's gone to get treatment from an ally. Whatever the case, he does seem to at least be in a hurry and doing his best to not alarm the citizens of his country of his condition.

Anzu is somewhere on board keeping a low profile. Shuuren may have gone somewhere without his assistant and personal body guard… But that doesn't mean he went somewhere alone. There's a tall figure in a black mantle and a conical hat seemingly standing guard aboard the boat. Imposing, silent, and face concealed.

Because, to those enemies of Shuuren who know him at all well, it would be more suspicious for him to go somewhere unattended while weakened than to be sneaking off alone, most likely. It would look like quite an obvious trap, no doubt. By having some mercenary guard or something, sure, there's an additional element of danger, but he's still taken steps to protect himself.

Also, there's a pale woman in a business dress, a slender pair of eye glasses perched high on her nose, and blonde hair done up in a bun, who seems to be accompanying Shuuren as well. She bears a clip board and some papers, which she seems to be taking note on as she tries to maintain her balance on a moving deck in high heels. The unsteadiness and her reliance on hand rails indicates she lacks any ninja training, as does her preference for remaining seated, folding one long, smooth leg over the other, and trying not to get into any unnecessary locomotion.

For any enemies listening in, she also mutters to herself about the schedule, and why she brought high heels on a boat, and why she's wearing a skirt in this weather, and so on. If Shuuren comes near, she tries to accost him about filling out paper work before they reach their destination, so that she can file the proper passport when they arrive.

The figure in the cloak and hat remains silent and stoic, tilting with the motion of the boat without sign of difficulty.

Most of Shuuren's time would be spent at the helm, but he would give the lady heed should she approach when he is able to keep a straight course for a moment. Of course, that is just as easily settled with a Shadow Clone, but he must appear weakened, so using high level jutsu is out of the question for the moment. He would retrieve a pen from his coat and make the correct markings on the pages, glancing them over even to be sure they are correct.

As he does, however, through the mists of the sea, he spots something and blinks. "… Is that a ship ahead?" he asks. A bit ahead of them in the water, indeed, there would be a ship a bit larger than their own, seemingly a merchant vessel. Unlike theirs, however, this one is dead in the water. Only the waves move it along. The sails appear to be torn, the deck of the ship devoid of life.

"… An accident?" the Daimyo asks aloud, casting his gaze toward the businesswoman and then the cloaked figure before he turns his attention back to the ship. He seems curious as to what might have happened to it and concerned for whoever the victims of might be… In reality, however, he casts a masterful sensor jutsu to try and detect what might actually be on board that ship, figuring this might be the trap they're trying to counter-trap.

The 'businesswoman' can't afford to appear to be anything other than a normal civilian, thus all the acting at being unsteady on the sea (which is only partly an act, because she has never been to the sea before that she can recall. She was very excited about it at first, but the nature of the mission kind of dampened her enthusiasm). Shuuren may or may not be known to be a sensor. As far as anyone else knows, Anzu is not. So if there's someone over there capable of detecting sensors, there's no reason for more than one sensor to reveal themselves as being aboard.

Besides, there's probably nothing that Anzu can pick up that Shuuren can't. Appropriate application of resources is important. For the most part, while Anzu feels a little bit more confident in her abilities after the training she endured with Shuuren between the meeting with the Elder and now, she learned mostly how to use Earth Style Ninjutsu… Which isn't terribly useful on the high seas. At least not at her skill level.

So her options are limited if she can't get into melee range. Until either they get closer to the boat or the enemies come to them, she is stuck acting helpless. Adjusting her eye glasses, she doesn't have to try very hard to feign nervousness. "Be careful. Pirates sometimes use this ploy to lure in rescue vessels…" She read it in a book. A fiction novel, sure, but it seems plausible as a tactic. And by not identifying who they're REALLY on the look-out for, she can still warn of her thoughts on the matter.

The cloaked figure, actually a certain white snake in disguise, tastes the air for some sign of danger, but whatever sensing abilities he possesses that surpass those of a normal snake, if he picks up any one else in the area, he does not risk exposing his foreknowledge by providing indication of it.

Businesswoman Anzu the Blonde gets up wobbily and wanders up behind Shuuren after a little while, resting a hand on his shoulder for balance and asking, "What shall we do, Daimyou-sama?"

"That's a good point. We'll have to use caution," Shuuren says with a nod to the businesswoman before he turns his eyes back to the ship. He turns the wheel carefully so that the ship slows and comes up just beside the other and eases almost to a stop. 'Coincidentally' this brings them close enough that a Taijutsuist can easily leap between the vessels for close range combat with any foes that might be on board.

The hand on his shoulder would draw a slight glance her way before he returns his gaze to the ship once again and calls out. "Is anyone alive on your vessel?" his smooth voice rings out, hiding any sign of suspicion as he watches for any movement that might signal a threat from the ship.

It wouldn't take long to get an answer. After a few moments of silence, a racoon twice the size of a grizzly bear leaps out of the water up onto the deck of the Daimyo's ship and lets out a fearsome growl. As soon as he is there, a couple dozen smaller racoons of various size begin appearing from below the deck of the other ship and making their way onto Shuuren's to prepare to attack.

"R-raccoon…!?" the businesswoman lets out in surprise as it leaps up out of the water and lands on the ship. Then as more come scurrying up from below decks and try to board as well, she calls out, "Shuuren-sama! There's more of them!" He was probably already aware of it, but even now, she's mixing her own actual fear and surprise in with the role she is playing to great effect. Because of how genuine those emotions are, all she has to do is put a layer of professional businesswoman over it to make it convincing.

Of course, by this point the raccoons have made their move, so there isn't too much point remaining in maintaining the disguise, but just incase there's a human summoner aboard the other ship still (because how else did all these raccoons get here anyway), she tries to wait until he or she has been lured out before revealing her true identity.

So she plays the role of strong-willed-but-ultimately-helpless lady in distress, trying to climb up on top of the captain's cabin and fend of any raccoons that come near with a live preserver wielded as a club, swung back and forth awkwardly with both hands.

The figure in the hat and mantle, meanwhile, moves rather quickly around from the rear of the boat to the fore, seemingly trying to strike the mammalian attackers over the railing and back into the water with blows so swift their nature can scarcely be discerned. The strikes, if successful, are almost… Whip-like in nature.

Astarot, in his guard get-up, is also refrainin from using his full capabilities to try to lure out the summoner. They can make a show of resistance for a short while, but unless the raccoons make an attempt to restrain and capture them so that it's safe for the summoner to appear, there's only so long they can probably fight without using lethal force before they have to assume there is no summoner.

As the creatures board the ship, Shuuren looks up at the big one and then around at the smaller ones rather calmly. "Well, well, what a surprise," he says with a hint of sarcasm in his tone. The Daimyo chuckles a bit and grabs his shroud, tossing it to the side along with the bandages under it to reveal his face… and that he is not actually injured at all. A sly mirk tugs at the corner of his lips as he steps into a relaxed stance and glances around at the racoons of various size.

"How kind of you to make your presence known," he says as he looks at the other shrouded figure that's already started striking at the racoons. "You have an option. Run away and don't ever come at me again or we do this the hard way… and your injuries will tell the story to your elders of why this is a fool's errand."

It seems the beasts aren't too impressed with the Daimyo's bravado, however, as they begin to charge in full force. Almost like a dark cloud of fur and claws, they charge at the Daimyo and the woman at his side with intent to shred them to bits..

… Only to be met with a puff of smoke as the Daimyo puts one arm around the woman behind him and the other hand in a pocket to pull a scroll open. Another puff of smoke lets out above the cabin to show them reappearing on its roof looking down at the racoons. In that moment the Daimyo apparently also changed clothes, as, rather than his signature white suit, he now wears a black outfit with pouches and sheaths and such obviously built for combat. "… As you wish."

As the creatures board the ship, Shuuren looks up at the big one and then around at the smaller ones rather calmly. "Well, well, what a surprise," he says with a hint of sarcasm in his tone. The Daimyo chuckles a bit and grabs his shroud, tossing it to the side along with the bandages under it to reveal his face… and that he is not actually injured at all. A sly mirk tugs at the corner of his lips as he steps into a relaxed stance and glances around at the racoons of various size.

"How kind of you to make your presence known," he says as he looks at the other shrouded figure that's already started striking at the racoons. "You have an option. Run away and don't ever come at me again or we do this the hard way… and your injuries will tell the story to your elders of why this is a fool's errand."

It seems the beasts aren't too impressed with the Daimyo's bravado, however, as they begin to charge in full force. Almost like a dark cloud of fur and claws, they charge at the Daimyo with intent to shred them to bits..

… Only to be met with a puff of smoke as they come at him as he puts a hand in a pocket of his coat to pull a scroll open. Another puff of smoke lets out above the cabin to show him reappearing on its roof just behind Anzu, looking down at the racoons. In that moment the Daimyo apparently also changed clothes, as, rather than his signature white suit, he now wears a black outfit with pouches and sheaths and such obviously built for combat. "… As you wish."

Businesswoman Anzu continues to act frightened and out of her element, helpless except to swing around a life preserver, while the cloaked figure below makes swift, nearly-invisible strikes with an unseen weapon or appendage. But when Shuuren joins her atop the cabin, and reveals himself to be okay, and the raccoons continue to attack despite the warning, it seems clear that it's time to stop acting. Though Anzu thought the plan was to try to lure out a summoner… Does this mean the plan changed? Or did Shuuren determine no summoner was involved (in which case, how did the raccoons get out here? That makes no sense without aid of some kind)?

Well, whatever the case, it's time to stop pretending. Anzu is still scared, but as a cloud of smoke erupts from her, dissolving her disguise and revealing her in an abbreviated version of her innkeeper's kimono, with black tights, granting her greater leg mobility, she is at least now prepared to fight back earnestly.

Astarot does the same, discarding his cloak rapidly and leaving the hooded garment flapping in the air as he targets a raccoon scrabbling at the side of the cabin and attempting to climb up, and then attempting to sink his fangs into the beast's throat and inject a sizzling purple venom that should be both painful and lethal. The white snake is still holding back a little, because this is meant to be Anzu's trial, but if there is a need for him to go all-out… He certainly will.

Anzu, meanwhile, draws a pair of kunai, throwing one at one of the raccoons to attempt to distract it, while keeping the other close and her back pressed to Shuuren's so they can cover each other. Though honestly, Anzu needs the cover more than Shuuren if the big bushy-tailed beasts decided to target her instead of the snake summoner.

"So I guess there was no summoner aboard?" she asks, still operating under what may be a false impression of their motives here.

Fortunately for Anzu, or maybe unfortunately, there are plenty of these furry beasties to go around. As she throws the kunai, the racoon it is thrown at gets grazed and turns around to hiss fiercely at her before charging and lunging straight for her throat to try and tear at her with its teeth and shred her torso with its claws.

Astarot's luck… is about the same. His strike at the racoon lands and allows him to begin to inject his poison into it, but that one being on the verge of losing consciousness doesn't stop its buddies from leaping at the snake from all sides to try and tear him to shreds.

Meanwhile, as Anzu steps to his back, Shuuren glances back at her and nods. Solid tactic for eliminating threats in mass like this, though it does restrict some options for offense… to most people. Shuuren could probably break out jutsu to overwhelm these things in a heartbeat if he wanted, but this is a test for the girl, so he must let her be tested. "I doubt there was a summoner involved. Most of them view me as an ally or potential employer. Then again… money has tempted people to do more foolish things, but I don't sense a human among them."

Of course, being that he IS actually the target here, the racoons are paying attention to him as well. A few of them charge him and lunge his way… to distract him as the most giant of them bounds into the air and tries to come down directly on top of him.

Just as the racoons appear to be about to reach him, the Daimyo pulls a tag of paper out of his sleeve and holds it upward almost nonchalantly. What happens, however, is anything but, as the racoons coming down at and toward him are met with a shell of chakra that deflects their attacks away from Shuuren as he simply smirks at them. He even offers a calm wink that seems rather taunting as he brings his hands into a seal. Rather than call out the jutsu like some without tact, he merely lets it be seen as a copy of him appears above the giant racoon driving a downward heelkick directly at the back of his neck.

Anzu feels fear run through her when the raccoon comes charging at her. A ferocious animal making creepy, threatening noises, baring its fangs, and rushing right for her!? Until recently, she was an assistant innkeeper! Basically a maid/waitress! Momentarily distracted by the attack upon Astarot, and Shuuren's words, she barely manages to let out a high-pitched shriek and hold out her kunai as the raccoon charges her, hoping that with its huge mass the creature dropping upon her will simply impale itself on her blade.

"Wh-what? No summoner? I guess ninja raccoons are smarter than I thought if they can pilot a ship!" she lets out light-headedly in her terror, assuming she isn't horribly maimed and mauled. The jutsu that Shuuren is using at her back is too far beyond her ability to understand to really grasp what he's doing, but she tries to drive her kunai into her raccoon attacker's chest despite the revulsion this causes her.

The revulsion she feels at trying to carve up and kill another living being, however, is paired with another feeling. An even more horrifying and alien sensation. A sort of… Enjoyment? A desire for this? Like a hunger to kill and inflict pain and watch as something squirms, that has long gone unsated, and now… Is getting a taste of crimson sustenance once again?

Astarot finds clawed paws and teeth trying to tear their way past his white scales, but a layer of Chakra flows through them, turning them hard as armor. The raccoons may find a way through eventually, or use their own abilities, but at least for this moment, buying time, he appears to be uninjured as some of his true power begins to show itself. But he's still keeping his Chakra levels low. Even if that means, in the end, that he isn't using enough Chakra to keep himself from harm.

There are much less kind theories than the racoons actually piloting the ship, but it is possible they did it rather than the alternative theories that the Daimyo doesn't care to burden the girl's mind with amidst combat. Especially when she's doing pretty well in the situation thus far.

The racoons attacking Astarot don't take long to start losing patience. That could be their downfall, but it is also fairly dangerous apparently. Their claws begin to glow with chakra as they try tearing at the snake again to try and bring him grievous harm even if they can't save their buddy at this point.

The racoons coming at Shuuren and Anzu, meanwhile, decide to get more creative to try and break them apart. As one takes a kunai to the chest, he falls backward and skids on the deck of the ship a bit before vanishing in a puff of smoke. The big one, seeming rather dazed by a kick to the back of the head, rolls off the wall of chakra underneath him, looking as if the kick knocked him out… Except he gains momentum by rolling even faster and blasting a hole in the deck of the ship with his weight. A moment later it comes up through the deck right under Shuuren and Anzu to try and tear into him from below. The dozens of smaller ones around them then attack, half charging from all sides and half starting to leap into the air and try to come down at them to shred all three.

This leaves a rather interesting choice… To shift the seal wall in what direction. Ultimately the Daimyo leaves it above to try and keep the horde above at bay. He winds up yanked down by a pair of jaws on his ankle with some of the sea of beasts coming down on top of him.

Astarot starts to take injuries as the raccoons resort to more advanced attacks, scales cracking and bleeding beneath the onslaught. In return, he lashes out more forcefully with more of his body, trying to sweep his enemies aside, crush them into the deck, and uses his fangs deliver multiple bites to weaken his opposition instead of focusing on pumping gallons of venom into a single target.

Anzu has little time to spend worrying about Astarot as a living being falls back with her blade still stuck in its chest, and she feels the terrible sense of familiarity. She just somehow knows… She has DONE THIS BEFORE.

She is pulled from her reverie, a mix of fascination and horror, by the deck beneath her feet exploding in a hail of wood shards as a racoon comes tunneling upwards like a horrifying furry wood chipper. She shrieks and leaps into the air as best she can, but when she comes down, her paper-white skin is covered in scratches in the few areas she left uncovered. Squinting at the summoned beast with one eye, the other closed in a mix of pain and irritation from wood fragments, she sees Shuuren's ankle get bitten and then him getting pulled down, and then… All those beasts piling on top of him.

Her body goes cold, and she feels a surge of panic and desperation fill her as she sees the writhing mass of furred bodies trying to claw and chew their way through her teacher, the man she agreed to help protect, who agreed to help her in turn.

Something goes *click* inside her head, and suddenly Chakra radiates from her in abundance, cold, dark, and murderous. It is not human Chakra. It is something distinctly inhuman. Like a monster wearing human skin. Some serpentine creature masquerading as a person.

She leaps on top of the pile of raccoons in a frenzy, shrieking, teeth demonstrating a certain sharpness in places, pupils vertical and reptilian, as she tries to use her newfound strength to attempt to seize and pull the raccoons off, grabbing them by their fur and simply hurling them away, clawing through their backs the same way they seem to be trying to claw through Shuuren.

Even if she is bitten or clawed in retaliation during the process, her sheer overwhelming drive to rescue the Daimyou keeps her from reacting to it. Her long-time companion and her teacher are both in immediate mortal danger. And something has kicked in that will not let them die on her if she can prevent it.

Whether Shuuren is actually in any trouble is questionable, but the sequence of events plays its part quite well in bringing out the power Anzu is normally not able to tap into due to her condition. As she attacks the beasts on top of him, some attack her in return with fearsome claws and teeth, but she is also quite successful in her venture to pull the pile off the top of the Daimyo.

By the time the girl reaches the bottom of the pile, she would find the Daimyo and the largest of the racoons covered by a shield of chakra keeping them off him. He is in a sort of wrestling match with the giant beast, but the more surprising bit might be that he has two extra pairs of arms. One set is holding the racoon's claws back, another his maw, while the normal set executes a series of rather brutal looking punches at its torso and throat.

Shuuren being safe, however, doesn't mean they're out of the woods yet. Since he is protected by the shield of chakra, that means Anzu and Astarot are now the focus of attack of the others along with trying to break through that shield. Though she and Astarot have been successful in their strikes in injuring the beasts and pulling them away from where Shuuren fell, now the threat to them has increased.

Anzu sees Shuuren is relatively safe, but rather than being flooded with relief, her attention just shifts from protecting someone else to protect herself. Her pale skin has blood furrows carved into it by raccoon claws, she has profusely bleeding puncture wounds in her skin from their teeth, she is battered around, smashed down, and still fights back, savagely, without finesse or sign of human consciousness. She aims for their vital points, trying to penetrate into their brain cases through their eye sockets with Chakra-empowered finger tips. She sinks her now-sharp teeth into fur-guarded throats not unlike how Astarot did when he was pumping venom into his first victim.

Her mouth floods with red, but she keeps on biting and tearing, trying to deal as much damage as she can, even as her own body suffers increasing damage as well, that have left her kimono and her flesh alike in shreds.

Somewhere inside of the monster that has replaced Anzu, actual-Anzu is confused, watching herself dreamily as though from outside of herself. With her sensor abilities, she can feel the Chakra of her enemies around her, and intuitively sense what she is doing from their perspective, so perhaps she actually is, in a way, watching herself from the outside. But she doesn't understand it.

The pain is a dim, annoying sensation, much like the taste of warm blood, and the sound of hissing and growling. It takes her awhile to realize half of those animalistic noises are coming from her.

'Ehh? That's… me? I sound… Awful. Why am I… Fighting so hard? Is it for… Shuuren-sama? Astarot? Myself…?' She watches as her body corkscrews an arm around and tries to jab its fingers into the mouth of a raccoon, despite its teeth, in order to attempt to grab its tongue and tear it right out. '…Is it because…'

'I'm a monster?'

Anzu's consciousness drifts in and out after that, but her body, her instincts, continue fighting on auto-pilot, until either there is no more threat, or she has stopped breathing.

Astarot notices the state that Anzu is in, and intervenes. The trial is less important than his assigned task of protecting her. His tail whips out with far more force than it has thus far. Like a snapped suspension cable, the force is enough to tear a human in half as it whips into and potentially through the summoned raccoons around the large white serpent. Fangs flash, trailing venom but aiming more to sever arteries or blind the eyes than to deliver the toxic payload. He fights his way towards Anzu, and any opponents remaining. No matter how many she has or has not taken down, he is intent on guarding her until she is somewhere safe and has been treated.

Shuuren will have to handle any remaining enemies on his own.

Shuuren watches Anzu through the shell of chakra around himself and the largest of the racoons, taking note of how she fights so that he might present the information to the Elder later as she rips and tears through racoon after racoon. All the while he continues to wrestle with the bear-like beast, almost like he's an afterthought at this point.

When Astarot moved in to resue the girl, the Daimyo nods to him. "Trial complete then," he says, trusting the snake's judgment of the girl's state since he is her permanent companion. He turns his attention finally back to the giant racoon, and suddenly there is a rather frightening shift in his chakra. "… My apologies, but I'm afraid I'm done toying with you."

As the beast leans its head in for a vicious strike, he finds a rather powerful knee striking his jaw as the many arms the Daimyo has grown strike him in a blinding flurry that sends him hurdling back. He tilts his head up, opening his mouth so far that one might assume he has dislocated his jaw like a snake. As it reaches open all the way, snakes suddenly pour from his mouth in waves and begin to strike out at every living thing on the vessel besides Shuuren, Anzu, and Astarot. Snakes by the hundreds cover the ship and then vanish in a puff of smoke as quickly as they came. When the smoke fades, neither snake nor racoon remains on the ship. Perhaps the Daimyo could have ended the battle in this fashion whenever he wanted, but this was Anzu's trial. She had to prove herself here or the point would have been null.

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