Date: March 23, 2016
While the Three-Tails jinchuuriki battles, the rank-and-file ninja play their part engaging with lesser horrors.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Blood-Red Sandman - Monster Monster"
Dead Sands - Northern Desert [Land of Wind]
Almost a decade ago, a monster of the Land of Wind was exposed, and, driven by forces even it did not understand, it raised an army of the dead to kill all of the living. The situation is dire. Because, in addition to this threat, a Jounin of Sunagakure was kidnapped by the Ghoul.
And her sister, the Three-Tails Jinchuuriki, and others of her team mates, have gone after her. Along with them, many other shinobi of the Hidden Sand have gone forth to support the hero of Sunagakure in saving everyone, and saving one of their own as well.
The battlefield that the shinobi come onto is a gruesome one. Far to the north, in the sandy wastes that have long been associated with death and the dead. Others ahead of them seem to be dropping out of sight every once in awhile, the sky dark with some supernatural shroud that blots out the stars and the moon. Like storm clouds, but… Not.
Shemri may recognize them as being not unlike a miasmatic cloud cover that turned the whole world into a veritable ice ball in another world. The difference here is, while it is cold down here in the darkness, the effect is not anything as simple as a mere temperature difference.
The very ability of the air to convey sound seems stifled. And, of course, there's the fact that the ground keeps swallowing up comrades, withered limbs reaching up to seize ninja by the legs and pull them down into the thirsty sands.
In this darkness, and with the muffled noise, those without enhanced senses might not even be aware of what's happening as they simply head towards what they see in the distance… A blazing aura of Chakra, near-smothered by unnatural darkness, serving as the only guide post for navigation.
Why. Does. It. Always. Have. To be. DEAD THINGS!?!?! DX<
Shemri moves along with kunai in both hands…and all four sashes for that matter. It might be a bit of a drain on her chakra to keep the sashes active while traveling, but she wants all the chances she can get to fight back if one of those horrid hands snags her. Shiikaa is perched on Shemri's shoulder, the better to go into fusion mode at a moment's notice, and also to keep him off the ground. ^c.c^; Waaaaay too easy for a small critter to disappear without notice in this situation. "Be alert!" Shemri shouts to whoever can hear her. "These things are not invincible, but they are many and fearless. Shout if you are taken!"
Morai Hideki frowned a bit as he tightened some of the bandages around his arms and hands. He had some seals already prepared, but he wasn't sure how well they'd end up working against these demons. That being said, he would move along with Shemri and Shiikaa. It was one of his first times being our as a Chuunin on one of the more difficult missions Sunagakure had to offer, even if he had heard of rumors on what all had been happening out this way. Something about the dead and clouds and … other things. Whatever it was, it wasn't to his liking. "Will do," he says, frowning… He didn't like this at all, nope.
Shemri's message is a good one, and does not go to waste, but soon another problem aside from attackers below the ground emerges. A pillar of bones and desiccated bodies seemingly woven together into a column of arms and faces. Though ninja begin helping each other, hacking at the limbs of the dead as they try to pull their comrades into the desert, the empty sockets and silently moving mouths of another horror focus on Hideki and Shemri, closer to it, and perhaps identified as more powerful than the others.
More full of life to extinguish.
The conjoined limbs reach for the pair, grasping, gnawing at the air, an illustration of what fate awaits them if they are seized.
And in this murky darkness, almost more like a black mist than anything as mundane as the absence of life, even seeing where the arms are coming from as the pillar churns towards them through the sand, may be difficult.
Darkness is fine for a Maneshi and her cat. They can see in dimness that would seem opaque to most human eyes, and hear when light fails entirely. This is more than just darkness, though; it is something which physically obstructs both sight and sound. Still, Shemri and Shiikaa can sense better than most in it, and a sharp yowl from the cat gives warning just as the monstrosities come within striking range. Shemri crouches and stabs down with her kunai at the nearest limbs, and Shiikaa spews a sickle of wind chakra at those coming up behind. ^>o<^
Hideki is sorta useless when it comes to darkness. The good news is that he has a few torches on him. The bad news is he can't really use them right now, otherwise that's a hand lost… The man would sigh faintly and just try to keep close to the Maneshi, knowing that those two could at least see with their night vision. "Well, see anything, Ma-?" he asks. His voice is cut off by the yowl from Shikaa, though, and he'd jump back into the arms of … ummm… limbs… The man would kick at a number of the ones that sought to grab him, chakra reinforcing the blows he would deliver in hopes of sending the arms flying.
Shemri's kunai does little to deter the withered arm, though she damages it easily enough. Shiikaa's wind slash is a bit more effective, as it cuts into the trunk of the construct, sending the mass of fused corpses tilting at an angle. When Hideki is captured, he may feel cold air escaping from dead lungs on the back of his neck, the rasp of dry and withered flesh on his own, the clutching of weak arms that possess strength only due to their numbers as he fights his way free.
And possibly something in the noises that escape the foul things. A tiny undercurrent on the air. Not the moans and groans of the dead one would expect of zombies… But more like whispers. Whispers he'd probably prefer not to hear or understand. As the pillar topples, bones and corpse limbs torn off and scattered, other corpse columns erupt from the sand ahead, and around them. Their fellow shinobi are fighting too, wielding wind and sword and earth and fire and hardened cloth and explosive tags… But it's a chaotic mess, with little direction, even trained shinobi panicking in the face of the hungry dead coming for them.
And in the distance an enormous surge of Chakra arises, and the ground trembles. Even with sounds stifled, the rumbling roar of an enormous beast in the distance reaches the ears of the ninja… Though distorted, and almost dream like, in this battlefield of nightmares. The Three-Tails has just appeared.
Hopefully that's a good thing.
Decisions, decisions. :/ The obvious tactical choice is to attack from range as much as possible, since these things don't seem to have much way of doing harm until they can grab hold and cutting them with knives isn't proving all that effective. Trouble is, that puts the whole burden on Shiikaa, and this is looking like a battle of attrition that will require endurance. :P And then there's the fact that it's difficult to pinpoint targets in this twilight, not to mention friendlies. e.e
Shemri decides to risk closer combat in order to lessen the chakra consumption on her feline companion. In a *POOF*, Shiikaa turns into a furry gauntlet running the length of Shemri's arm. With wind chakra keening along her claws, Shemri dashes past the nearest corpse column and slashes through its midsection.
Hideki would shudder a bit at some of the whispers that he couldn't understand. It was overall just very creepy, and the meaning behind whatever was said is lost on him. But even with that, he had a feeling that it wasn't anything good being whispered. He would try to get away from the beings that were trying to drag him down, a seal barrier suddenly surrounding him like a bubble so he could buy himself more time. He noticed that wind chakra seemed useful… Which he did not have. So he chose to draw out a few scrolls at his side, and he opens it to blast a huge amount of flame at the nearest column of limbs.
Both Shemri's tactic of slashing through them and Hideki's flames appear equally effective. One disables their ability to move, the other turns them into wandering torches. That latter thing isn't necessarily great, since now there's the threat of being burned for melee attackers as well, but one good thing does come of it: They're that much easier to see, meaning they're that much easier to avoid. Other ninja pick up on this tactic, those capable of using Wind Release and Fire Release cutting down the corpse columns at range or via quick dash-in-and-dash-out melee attacks, and then others setting the stranded creatures ablaze. They'll burn down to charred bones eventually, especially with such dry flesh, but while animated bones are still a threat, the benefit of not being chased or blocked by them any further, and being able to just go around them saves a lot of time.
All of the ninja, working together, with Shemri and Hideki in the lead, are clear to abandon this endless battle and go forward. Towards where that ominous Chakra radiates, and the roars of a great beast in the midst of combat continue to echo as though from down a deep dark well.
Oh good, it works. Shemri can't count how many times she's been in situations like this against things-that-ought-not-exist, and her taijutsu-oriented skills simply couldn't do much. =.= She had to watch while her ninjutsu-oriented (and admittedly more advanced) team-mates did the heavy lifting. 'Course, even now she's only managing thanks to a little ninjutsu contribution from Shiikaa, but she'll take it. :P With the immediate problem mitigated for now, Shemri takes off toward the center of the battlefield.
Hideki would tuck the fire scroll away, placing it in a pouch that he marked as 'used' in his mind. Any other columns of flame from him would have to wait another day, as he was a bit out of blasts like that. The good news, though, is that now he can effectively assault the columns. He would dart in and out with the melee fighters until the way was clear, then he moved after Shemri. "Maneshi-san, are we heading towards…" He would nod to the area that still held combat and the Tailed Beast. One that he wasn't particularly familiar with.
The ninja all charge forward, evading any more pitfalls that appear, and seemingly able to continue without additional attacks after awhile. The rampaging Jinchuuriki can be seen in dim outline that grows less dim the closer they get. However, even as vision becomes clearer, the air grows colder and colder. It gets to the point where snow begins to fall, the minimal air moisture freezing this close to ground level. The massive blasts of water the Three-Tails is unleashing are simply adding to the amount of frost and ice that is beginning to coat the desert.
And together with that ominous, skin-tingling Chakra of a Tailed Beast, there is another pressure that is beginning to arise. The pressure is… Hollow. Empty. Sickening in its pull. Less like a pressure that is pushing them away, and more like something pulling them in. A hunger to drink the whole world dry.
It's the Chakra of an Undead being. Perhaps the Land of Wind's first: The Ghoul of the Desert, also known as Hone Nai, and a former team mate of Shemri, Rinako, Ruri, and Kara. Sunagakure's Team 01.
How the legendary cannibalistic creature was lurking under everyone's noses all this time is still not publically known. Very few are aware, infact.
But the creature that parents would tell stories of like the Wind's version of the Boogeyman to get small children to behave is here. And the air is cold, and the world is empty, and death is calling for the ninja as they approach.
It's enough to make even those who came here full of determination to reconsider getting any closer.
"This is a fact," Shemri responds to Hideki's incomplete query. "We must find the source of this…this wrongness, and put an end to it." :/ She doesn't know precisely how, of course. She doesn't have much idea what /could/ cause something like this. In her experience, though, there's usually something at the middle of it all, most often with a human component. Bashing that component in the head tends to help quite a bit.
Shemri doesn't know the full story on that herself, as it happens. She's been on a few missions with Nai present, and seen that he has some pretty disturbing techniques, but she hasn't connected him with the legend of the Ghoul or imagined he's behind all this. Indeed, she probably won't recognize him if she comes upon him now, seeing as she's always seen him wrapped up and hooded. But Nai, Ghoul, whatever, SOMEthing is definitely running amok here, and running toward it is proving surprisingly hard. x.x Not in the sense of having to push through, but of keeping on one's feet.
Hideki makes a bit of a face as the changes in chakra and weather occur. This was not pleasant at all… Nope. Not one bit. "I don't know if I like this plan," he says dryly, hand moving to a different pouch and removing several slips of paper. "Any plan beyond going to see this thing? A plan to take it out? Or are we winging this?"
Others are faltering too. Having a strong will is one thing. Being able to push towards something that seems to practically have the words 'YOU WILL DIE IF YOU COME HERE' floating over it in dripping, bloody letters, is another. The ground shakes even more violently as they approach, and it seems that the Three-Tails is fighting something, as the Jinchuuriki turns, its triple tails shredding the ground behind it and sending up a shockwave that sweeps over Shemri, Hideki, and their comrades.
Maybe… Maybe right now getting closer ISN'T a good idea. There's something black and red flickering around over there. And the closer they get to it, the more clear the whispers become. They still aren't exactly understandable, this chorus of hushed voices, but clearly hearing them feels like it would be a bad thing. Either the whispers themselves are a cause of danger, or the clarity of them represents being in danger.
Right then, the choice is taken from them. That blasting sand and dust begins to swirl into little miniature tornadoes, within which lie murky, barely-seen figures. Nothing definitively physical. Wraiths, with glowing red eyes, in vaguely humanoid form.
They hiss with a sound that is both sand moving through an hourglass, and something bestial giving its warning. And then the phantasmal creatures shoot forward, and combat begins again, this time apparently fighting ghosts.
"If you would hunt a beast that none have seen before, there is no choice but to go to its lair and find out what works," Shemri grunts as they keep moving. Okay, probably stretching the hunting metaphors kinda thin there. e.e; And to be honest, the chances of them being able to do something to help out giant rampaging chakra monster against whatever she's flailing against is pretty slim. BUT THEY WON'T KNOW UNTIL THEY — oh shoot, collateral shockwave. x.x; Shemri crouches low and shields her face with her arm as the blast sweeps over them.
When she looks again, they're faced with a new problem. Almost a relief in a way, it means they have a pressing reason to deal with something of a smaller scale. e.e; Not much less unknown, though. Shemri decides it's worth spending a little more chakra to experiment with the nature of these foes at a range. She sweeps her arm in a wide arc, and Shiikaa sends out a scythe of wind chakra at the nearest apparition.
'ACK!!!' Hideki almost loses his footing and trips, which would have been bad, thanks to the shockwave. He would quickly adjust himself so that he was more balanced. 'Bread. Bread bread bread bread bread in a basket bread…' Hideki cursed a few more choice words in his head as he got to witness the Three Tails fighting, as well as wraiths appearing. "I thought we didn't have to deal with more undead things…" he mutters, throwing the slips of paper up and outwards. From them would spring chains of chakra that would try to entrap the wraiths. Who knows what that would do, but perhaps paired with Shemri and Shiikaa's attacks it would end up more effective.
Shemri and Shiikaa don't seem to be dealing damage to the wraiths this time, but they are having a different effect. Because, as the wraiths get closer to other ninja who try to cut them down, they seem to engulf them and start sucking blood right out of numerous wounds that begin to open in their skin. When physical attacks come their way while they are in the process of attacking, they seem to be forced to disengage, getting distorted and swirled around… Only to reform.
Hideki's seals have a greater effect, binding the spirits in place, even if the tags are rapidly blackening and rotting with the foul energies they are absorbing. And attacks launched against the spirits while they are affected by the seals land just fine, even plain Taijutsu. They make red cracks appear in them, and then the wraiths 'shatter'… Falling apart into ice crystals, with frozen human remains mixed in. It seems the Chakra of the Ghoul is what is allowing them to reform as well as to affect the living. If they lose that chakra, they become mere vessels comprised of dead matter and frozen water.
And then, an absolutely HUGE source of Chakra can be felt, heard, seen, as this new method of combating the creatures is discovered. A blue-black ball of concentrate Chakra, right before the maw of the Giant Turtle. A Tailed Beast Ball. It surges towards that red and black shape that has been so evasive up until now, and yet for the moment is standing still.
An explosion goes off. An explosion that dwarfs anything a normal ninja could conjure up. An explosion that produces a huge dome of light, followed by a tidal wave of water, as all that dark miasma is blown away, turning the freezing desert suddenly into a starry night.
The remaining wraiths disperse around the same time.
Is that it? Is it over?
The Three-Tails is still active… But after it takes the time to gaze down into the boiling lake in front of it, big enough to have erased a mountain had one been hit, the Tailed Beast begins to shrink and transform back into a human woman. It seems the fight is over.
…But why, then, is the air still so full of unsettling energies?
Maybe they will disperse with time…
For now, thanks to Shemri, Shiikaa, and Hideki, and their quick thinking and skill, many lives among the rescuers have been saved, and they are only a short ways away from joining up with their Jinchuuriki and her sister. Surely, this must be the end…
Ah-HA! See, just have to find out what works! >D Shemri loosens her sashes to full length and dashes out amongst the constrained phantoms. The sashes strike outward with kunai as she runs, smashing the specters. Man, it feels good to just plain HIT something and have it work! Even if they had to be sealed first.
And then comes the big blast. For a moment Shemri is worried they got a little too close to the main action. o.o; But an ear-ringing minute later, they're still alive, and by the look of it, victorious. 8o Shemri sighs in relief, then shakes herself a bit. "Remain vigilant, there may yet be danger," she calls out, though she hopes she's wrong. "Let us go see what has happened."
Hideki would keep an eye on the seals he sent out, glad that he made a lot of the restraining tags so that he could just toss them around as needed. The man would help his comrades hit their targets, and well… That was pretty nice! Hideki would proceed to get blinded by the attack that was the mighty Tailed Beast Ball. He blinked a bit and tugged at his ears, trying to figure out if the world ended or something. "Umm… Got it," he says, perhaps a bit too loudly in response to Shemri. his ears were still ringing after the blast @_@…