Date: December 3, 2010
A moonlit night in Sunagakure. A man planning vandalism. A woman seeking relief from her illness. The Academy doors open when they should be closed. The stage is set. Let the horror begin.
"Blood Red Sandman - Let The Bodies Hit The Floor"
Ninja Academy - Sunagakure
Ever so slowly, the moon inched across the sky, ever so slightly approaching it's final destination, sinking towards the ocean, already well past it's zenith. And the sky.. the sky was cloudy this night, overcast with a red color that suggested rain, after all, it was Fall season, and the leaves of a nearby maple scattered across the streets, it's color, like the sky, dark crimson.
But nearby, in a shadow, stood a young teenager. Arms crossed across his chest as he stared towards the academy, curious even. He had nothing to hide his face, and one well acquainted to the Chuunin around Sunagakure could recognize him as 'that kid from the Seishukuni clan'. And well, it seemed as if he was popular too, particularily because of the style he used in battle. Crystal Style. And to others, he was also despised, for the fact that some time ago he didn't see things as the Kazekage, and has protested and even 'nearly' attacked Sunagakure once. Though, he was pre-emptively stopped.
So, what was he doing here this late at night?
What is Kureno doing here this late at night? A mystery for another time, perhaps. Right now there is a slightly more important question to answer… Namely, why are the Academy doors OPEN this late at night? It is not as though they are open in welcome, either. They hang half-open, just enough to reveal they are not closed securely if one looks carefully, but from a distance all would seem to be normal to an eye untrained in noticing details.
No lights are on in the Academy. Perhaps it is the night janitor? Maybe someone just forgot to lock up? Or maybe there is something wrong here. Maybe there is a reason why the air seems colder even than a desert night should allow for. Maybe the way the shadows seem to squirm like worms and writhe like snakes without any light to make them dance so is NOT just a trick of the imagination. It is possible, even, that something BAD is happening here…
And yet there is only one real way to find out, is there not? Inside the main hall of the Academy, just beyond the doors, a vaguely humanoid figure is dragging something behind it. It turns a corner and whatever is being dragged follows. It is not as though the burden has a choice in the matter, in his current condition.
No one would really know, but that may be an understatement. Someone may have an idea, but to question it is grounds that are felt not safe to walk upon. At this time, most would be asleep, but those ever vigilant eyes of the village, those that gossip and guard, they watch, but even still nothing may come of the watching other than a satisfied curiosity.
Late at night, the sound of leaves brushing across the path picks up, announcing the presence of…a simple villager sweeping the crimson leaves away from the door and into a small pile just beyond the walkway. Passing by would be Itami who was on some sort of mission to get something to eat. She was in need of some soup, for she felt ill and needed something to help in breaking the fever she had.
A sniffle here and there, but not much else comes from her other than a quiet shuffle. As she continues her walk down the walkway, she takes note that the Academy doors are open. Curious.
She begins to pick up the pace to investigate, making sure to quiet her steps as she approahces. No time to laze about the village now as it appears a matter needs to be dealt with. These doors, why were they open so? She wouldn't be able to answer the question until she reached them.
The teenage chuunin noticed the door a while ago. It was what stopped him from doing whatever he wanted to do. Was there someone still there? It wasn't supposed to be like this. He pondered for a moment, wrapping his resolve around the idea to just take a step towards the academy.. and than another. But he stopped in his tracks when he saw another unexpected thing. Itami. Not necessarily a /thing/ but still unexpected. He paused. Hesitated. For as long as three heartbeats could take. Everything seemed to sink into silence, only his heart echoing in his own ears. No, it's not the kind of heartbeat one gets when they see the girl they're crazy about coming over towards them. Besides, Itami was moving away from him. It was the moment of fear that made him freeze. What would she think if she saw Kureno, if she were just a few minutes late…
He slowly stepped out of the shadows, heading towards Itami. Ever so slowly. He tried to focus on his own shadow as he walked, stretching in front of him across the lightly illuminated path.
Finally he raises a hand in greeting, casts a glance towards the academy and narrows his eyes, he thought he saw something in one of the windows. No, he was sure he saw something. So, someone was there.
Looking again towards Itami he says, "Hey, Itami-chan. You don't look so great. Why don't you go home, I'll watch over the academy for you." He said, with a slight blush.
Shortly after Kureno speaks to Itami, a sudden, dry, frigid wind comes out of nowhere and slams one of the doors of the Academy shut as surely as though invisible hands had done the deed. The noise of wood on wood may be jarring in the deep quiet of this late hour. Doubly so when the OTHER door is blown OPEN. It is stopped by its own hinges and frame, but it is just as loud.
The wind vanishes almost as quickly as it arrived. It just… Dies out and leaves no indication that further such winds will be present to stir the air.
Itami wasn't focused on anything that was around her. That would probably be a mistake if she wasn't under the impression that she felt secure within her own village. Maybe that's too much trust… Halfway towards the door, she began to adopt her lazed shuffle, but it wasn't intentional. Her focus was lacking and her body reacted to another round from her fever. She sniffled and placed her hand up to the ridge of her nose to squeeze it lightly. This was going to be a bit tough.
Before she could reach the doors, let alone the Academy itself, she was called by someone. Looking over her shoulder would reveal that person to be Kureno. "Ah, Kureno-san." She regarded him softly. "I can't go home, now. I was on my way to procure some soup, but now there's this…" She gestures to the Academy. "I intend to figure out who has decided to inva--" The frigid wind and subsequent slamming of the door redirects her attention.
"I have to go inside there." She says to him and without any further words, she hastens herself into the Academy, utilizing the door that was blown open to enter inside.
Crystals rise in front of the entrance, and as soon as they appear, blocking the path, they begin to fade. Temporary. No doubt after a few seconds they'd be too brittle to stand against a 4 year old, much less a trained shinobi.
"Don't go in there, Itami." Kureno says. He had no idea what was going inside, though, it didn't creep him out either. He doesn't believe in ghosts. He believes there is a logical explanation. Even about the incident that happened to him at the Canyon of Ghosts. The event that raised him to chuunin status. And Kureno still believed that the enemy nin in that incident is still after Kureno.
"Please… Itami. You musn't be here… you can't see this." He says, and what the hell is he talking about.
After he said that, he slowly walked forwards, dismissing the crystal and peering slightly into the hallway before he looks back again and narrows his eyes slightly at Itami, as if emphasizing his previous words. And than.. and than he makes a determined step inside, glancing in all directions trying to pick out anything out of the ordinary.
The most immediately obvious thing when Itami and Kureno enter is that the floor is wet. Why is the floor wet? HOW is the floor wet? They live in the desert. If the janitor is wasting water on the floor instead of using steel wool and non-water-based chemical cleaners, then there will be a hell of a price to pay. But no… Even the darkness, the wetness does not look like water. Water would reflect the moonlight that barely filters in through the open door in a completely different manner than this. It would gleam. This substance… Is dark. It just shines on the surface. Is that… Blood?
A hand-held lantern lies on a small table on the left-hand side of the hall. It is not lit, but there are matches lying nearby as well. How convenient! If anyone cares to light the lantern, he or she would find that the trail of dark liquid is bright red -- definitely blood -- and further it goes around the first corner up ahead, to the left. It looks like someone or something was being dragged…
Itami stopped as the crystals rose, but soon after they began to fade, she said, "I have to, Kureno-san…" She looked at him once more and saw his eyes narrow as he pleaded for a second time. Shaking her head in silence, she walked through the entrance of the Academy and inside.
Something was on the floor, something she didn't quite see, but…she sniffles. "…"
Looking about the area, she looks down at the wet floor. She couldn't quite see, but she kneeled down towards the ground to investigate further. This time, she smelled the air instead of sniffled. A faint scent picked up in her nose, but she couldn't place what it was.
"…I need some light." She remarks to herself and rises from the ground. One final look around the area reveals the lantern on the table in the hall. This was odd. She can understand working by night, but she doesn't imagine lanterns sit out all the time here. Since it's available, she utilizes it for the time being. Striking the match and lighting the lantern, she holds it up as much as needed to illuminate the area properly. "There's a trail." She guides the lamp along it and holds it up to see where it leads. "That way." What is blood doing in this Academy?
What is /responsible/ for this is the better question.
Kureno muttered something to himself. "I am not telling you to not come because I am afraid of your safety Itami." Kureno says calmly as he walks in, after Itami, and looks at the ground. Blood. Though, he doesn't pay it as much attention even though he looks towards Itami, "I think the janitor is dead. This is your last chance. Leave." He says as he follows the trail, glancing around, at the walls, trying to figure out any forensic data. Like bloody handprints, where the attack could've come from. The weapon used.
"I suppose you won't listen to reason. Alright, I suppose," He says. "But it's at your own risk." And mine. He thought the last bit instead of saying it out loud. Kureno has already proved that he'd go out of his way to protect Itami.
And as he followed the trail, he near-silently uttered, "Ascension of the Crystal Fields" And petals made of crystal began to rise around him. Not many though, just enough to catch any light and increase it's luminosity through them. And in this darkness, a few prism shaped crystals even split the light beams into individual small rainbows, painted on the walls.
He looks back for a moment at Itami, thoughtful.
There is no sign of a struggle. Nothing on the walls at all. From the sheer amount of blood near the entrance it looks like, whatever happened, the bleeding individual -- or entity -- was lying there for awhile. The blood is only luke-warm. Room temperature. Around the corner the trail continues down the next hall, in a straight line… The classrooms are all locked up, as they should be. But a storage room for exercise equipment that is normally out in the Training Fields, but is brought in during sand storms and similarly harsh weather, has its door wide open. And the blood trail leads right through the darkened doorway.
A sound can be heard now. Faint. Difficult to identify. Sharp senses might liken it to a turkey's or chicken's clucking noises, only… Not quite.
"Well, your concern is noted, Kureno-san." Itami replies with a slight sarcastic air about her. It's nice to know someone isn't considering your safety, but at the same time, she walked into this one. Guess she's on her own. Sighing, she says, "I'm listening to you, but if you haven't noticed, this someone or thing is in my village, in this academy, and I have a duty to protect it. Whether or not the problem is mine is not my concern." She explains and watches him summon up crystals to gather light and magnify it.
Sniffling once more, she shakes her head to rid herself of the faint pressure she has while following the blood trail. "It leads this way…" She reitterates and goes around the corner. Now within the hall, she shifts her eyes back and forth to check the rooms in order to identify some changes. So far, the rooms are locked up. "Since you've been pressuring me so much about this, I have to wonder about what it is you know about this situation?" She asks while following the trail. "You seem upset and tense about it. Tell me something I should know." She states as the faint sound of noises begin to filter into her ears.
Kureno peers down the hallways, following the trail of blood, and even though he steps in it a few times he doesn't seem to mind, as long as he doesn't slip. The unnatural calm about him in this situation, except the tenseness when he was trying to convince Itami to leave, may strike out as odd.
He closes his eyes for a moment listening to a faint sound. "Either someone's killing a turkey or choking someone. I.. think?" He obviously avoids her last question but after a moment of walking he stops, and looks back to Itami, face grim. "It's nothing Itami. I am just worried about you, that's all." Though, the way he said it, it sounded as if it wasn't this situation they were in that worried him. And than he said, voice not even trembling, determined. "Whoever is doing this, is gonna make a terrorist attack look like a heroic work." And than the walls started crystallizing slowly, as he slowly walked forwards, towards the sound.
And Itami may know, the last time walls started crystallizing bad things started happening.
As the crystals refract the light from Itami's lantern and cast it all around the hall, and Kureno continues to advance towards the storage room, nothing pops out to greet them. No one attacks. No one reacts to the voices echoing throughout the building here in the dead of night. But that clucking noise continues, on and on and on. It is not until Kureno and Itami have brought the light to the storage room and looked within that they would realize the room is empty. No one else is in here.
But someone WAS here. And very recently too. Because there is writing on the wall directly across from the doorway. Written in blood that dribbles down the wall with its freshness -- not yet coagulating -- are six words in a spidery, jagged script.
Perhaps difficult to really put together in a situation like this, is the fact that the exclamation point on the end is upside-down. Also it looks more like an arrow than punctuation. An arrow pointing… Up?
If that's not enough of a clue, warm, wet droplets fall from the ceiling, splattering on the ground and anyone standing underneath them.
"Killing a turkey?" Itami inquires with some hint of incredulousness in her voice. She thinks the latter might be more appropriate. Though, you never know. People can do some crazy things. "I suppose I'm glad that you've decided to change you mind. I'd much rather like to work together than to act separate." Seeing how this case was, she really didn't want to be separate from anyone.
She sniffles again and attempts to hold back a sneeze, but it doesn't work all that well when she approaches the storage room. The scent of iron draws the sneeze out. "Ugh…" She sighs and sniffles. "…What… what is…?" She doesn't finish the sentence as she lifts the lantern up in the room to be able to identify some things. "S.t..op me..before..it gets..worse…" She looks back at Kureno.
"You have to see this and… please, try to control yourself… I don't want this Academy suffering any destruction, well, beyond that of what we're already seeing." She states in regards to the crystals gathering on the wall. "I can't make out that last part." Was it an exclamation? A…what…it looked odd for an exclamation, but…what could it be? She thought it might have been some sort of distortion, but there's a great deal of her that's uncertain about that.
Kureno stops inside the room, listening to Itami. Though, he may have misunderstood exactly what she meant, though he felt a bit… honored. And angered at the same time. And than the last coment made him lose his cool for a moment.
He turns around, and stares at Itami for a long moment. "Don't you get it, Itami? Destruction of property was my intent all along! Though, some idiot decided to thwart my plan an--" He looks up as something suddenly drips on his shoulder. The crystal petals follow, illuminating the ceiling and Kureno's eyes widen. However, not in fear. In surprise.
"Oh my, whoever did this is an mother*bleep*ing artist!" A moment later, "I am gonna tear him to shreds for this. Even if I destroy the *bleep*ing academy now they won't pin this on me and kick me out or execute me and /you/" He points at Itami, ".. risk being charged with associating with me. I don't care if the Kage doesn't care. But chuunin and genin, they don't respect me anymore. I think they despise me. What you did the other was stupid! Even though, it was nice. I never thought someone would like me of all peop--" He looks up once again. "Hey, that bastard is still alive." Crystals rise from the ground, forming some sort of bed and a way to climb up there.
"Looks like they're impaled with railroad spikes. Go up there and remove the spike from the one in the middle. He still looks.. alive." And it was truth, the other guys seemed to be dead. Though the one in the middle had his throat torn out, possibly including the vocal chords, which is the cause of the gurgling sound. The poor guy was trying to scream.
"Hey, you there. Blink once if you can blink." And Kureno was heartless too.
The man in the middle's eyes are bugged out and dialated. The hole in his throat doesn't look like it was made with a weapon. More like… A bite wound. Infact… From the advanced state of decay around the flesh, it might even be an OLD bite wound--No. This is not old at all. Itami could probably tell Kureno that even if he can not figure it out himself. Because Itami has seen a wound like this before. Only the previous time, it was on the leg of a man who was leading a caravan of food, craftsmen, supplies, and similar for Sunagakure. That wound was worse off than this one in regard to deterioration, but even this torn-out throat is showing signs of rapid decompisition.
It is literally rotting before the eyes of the two ninja of the Land of Wind. Different though they may be, it is unlikely that either one has much experience with living tissue that turns to dead tissue in a matter of seconds, while the one bearing said tissue is still alive. The man's throat is rapidly turning a mix of purple, grey, and black. Pieces of tissue are crumbling and falling away in a dry drizzle of dust.
A moment later, the man's eyes close part way. They were forced too far out of their sockets to close properly. He stops his clucking, and any other indication of being alive.
The other two men appear to likewise have signs of sharp teeth having torn parts of them out, and rapid decay. Though the rot is more wide-spread in them. The man on the right is even missing an arm--No, wait. There is the arm. Over in the corner. Or what is left of it. Parts of it have been eaten, and the rest is just a sack of rotten meat.
This is not a normal serial killer. This is not a normal terrorist. This is not a normal jutsu. This is not a normal ANYTHING. This is something that Kureno may have heard stories about as a child, whether he believed them or not. Maybe he only heard them from outsides are traders that may have dealt with the Seishukuni. Or maybe he heard it directly from those around him.
The story of the Land of Wind's very own Bogieman.
The Ghoul of the Desert.
The Ghoul was thought to be leaving Sunagakure alone for some reason.
Apparently that is no longer the case.
Itami frowned, her grip tightening around the handle of the lantern. Her face was slowly distorting into that of a very angered individual, perhaps even a visible eye change could be seen as hers dilated and made room, or lack there of, for thin slits. She was clearly pissed, but…"Artist?" She inquired and looked up to see what he was speaking of. It was enough to snap her out of anger, but that same anger steadily survived with the growing aggravation that was Kureno's shouting.
"Fine. I'll go and remove the spike…" She offers to Kureno, her eyes never quite making their way off the ceiling. This was both…horrible and convenient. That hole… She's seen it before, yes. This one wasn't going to have long to live with something like that. No sooner than she thinks it, the man eventually dies from his wounds. "/This/ is why I'm here. This…endangering the village." She growls.
She's tried, but to no avail. She sees how impossible of a task this is. She decides that she can't work under the current conditions and opts to split away. If she has to run into this thing herself, then so be it. Even still, she just has to find a way to keep from bringing harm to the academy herself and that required being away from Kureno at the moment. "…That thing is here…" She comments to herself as she makes off into some random direction to find it.
Kureno didn't notice Itami's anger until she started walking away. Did he say something? Probably, yeah. Wasn't this the plan? Now that he thought about it. It wasn't. So, whatever it is, has just made it's job easier. Kureno and Itami are seperated.
He sighs and leans against a wall, looking up at the ceiling, "So, what do you think? Women are difficult, aren't they? You want to do something for them, and they get all pissy." He started talking to a deadman. "Do you think that was a break-up?" He asked suddenly, "Hmm, probably not. I think she kissed me just to piss me off. Or well, make me stop destroying property." He laughed suddenly, as he started confessing to a corpse.
"I don't have many friends. Surely you understand in what kind of position I am!" He started insisting, defensive. "Yeah, I guess that's what I have to do." Kureno nods, his head as he takes a step from the wall and crystallizes the railroad spikes, slowly breaking them apart so the bodies start falling from the ceiling. Kureno even comments, "It's raining men, indeed." And than he drags a corpse outside the door and yells.
"Hey, butcher, dinner is ready!! Come an' get it!"
When Itami storms out into the hall, she goes about six feet before a hand reaches around her from behind and snuffs out the lantern's flames with its fingers. At about the same time that Itami would be realizing her light has just gone out and that it probably was NOT accidental, a second hand attempts to grab the shoulder opposite from the arm with the lantern, and spin her around to face the nearest wall!
The hand is attached to an arm. The arm is emaciated beyond the level of death by starvation, and yet retains some sort of dry filmy-substance vaguely resembling flesh, stretched over its bones. The arm is… Coming out of the wall!? Further, also set in the marble wall -- partially crystallized by Kureno earlier -- there is a HEAD sticking out of it. It has sparse, stringy, yellow-brown hair clinging to a rotting scalp in individual strands and small clumps. It is missing its nose and has no lips per se, and thus its features appear skull-like. A lack of eyelids, and the continued existence of eyeballs in the sockets produces a disturbingly wide-eyed, constantly-staring look. The irises and pupils are red: The former bright red and the latter dark red. The teeth are sharpened, almost as if filed, but more akin to the teeth of a meat-eating predator. The gums are blackened strips of flesh. A trickle of blood streams down the horror's chin from within its mouth. Its neck is thin enough that it looks as though turning its head too fast might make it snap.
The shoulder that the wall-arm is extending from is similarly covered in a stretched canvas of dry flesh -- more like a leathery hide than true skin.
The Ghoul of the Desert is within arm's reach… Literally. And it probably could have killed Itami from behind with minimal difficulty in her current state of agitation mixed with her poor health. But instead, as there are noticeable *THUMP*s when the bodies in the storage room hit the floor, the arm extending out of the wall raises one bony finger up to the non-existent lips of the Ghoul, in a 'Shhh' gesture. Then, retaining that position, the head, shoulder, arm, and hand, all sink into the wall and vanish.
It only took the small amount of light going out from Itami's lantern for her to look and see that it was snuffed out. She was baffled, but what could have--She's grabbed and whirled around before she could even process the thought. She's now looking at the wall nearest her and the sight of all sights causes her to freeze up. She hadn't any control over her body at the moment and while she struggled with herself to at least manage some form of reflex, her whole body simply seized up.
Though, the only thing working was her fear and the shaking involved with it. The lantern was tightly gripped, but she couldn't drop it. She only sat and watched this Ghoul as it slowly proceeded to arrange a meeting with death for her. It was so close…so close and she couldn't do a thing about it except *THUMP*. The same thumps that the Ghoul responded to upon retracting into the wall brought Itami to respond with a turn of her head so quick that it could have gone full circle.
"…K-K-k…" She tries to speak, but the stutters make it seem as if she's got a hole in her neck. "Ku--" She tries again, but to no avail. So, one more time, "Ku--." Still nothing and this only manages to frustrate her. Her body was still locked up from being frightened, but she gained some amount of composure to return to hyperventilating as opposed to nearly choking on her own swollen neck. This wasn't good for her health, obviously. The more she calms, the more symptoms she experiences. Watery eyes and running nose.
Kureno walks into the hallway, corpse in tow, and totally oblivious to what is happening. After his heroic shout he turns towards where Itami went and well, she was still there and stuttering.
He blinks in surprise, "Ah, are you trying to apologize or just glad you see me?" He asks, "It's okay, look, it's my fault too." He says, foot drawing a circle around himself sheepishly, and still holding a body. "I really do like you and it's not okay to fight. So let's forget about all this. Okay~?"
There was one thing about crystal style that people sometimes fail to realize when they encounter Kureno. It's that, with the petals around him, he is connected to crystal on a deeper level.
So what does this mean? It means that Kureno felt the flow of chakra to the crystallizing walls being disrupted, which surprised him a lot. How was it even possible?
Either way, the walls continue to crystallize, drawing out stalgamites and otherwise beautiful formations.
"Come on and turn on the light, this is no time to make out in the dark!" Kureno insists, and his words sound even a bit malicious. As if getting revenge.