Date: September 23, 2016
Rinoko is left behind by her team, because to stay and fight for her would be suicide. But now she is left behind to try to decypher a jutsu that could either save her and the Hidden Leaf… Or doom the Shinobi World.
"Bloom and Grow - Pt. 7"
Unsealed Cave, Land of Fire
As she raises a second barrier of chakra around herself within the larger barrier holding herself and the enemy shinobi inside the cave, Rinoko looks only briefly to her team, all of whom, even the temporary member in Mihoshi, have done their best not to leave her here. And yet this is the path she has chosen. It is better that she take this calculated risk than have all of them fall when they are not prepared for this challenge. If she should fall, so be it, but the rest of the team will not. She can only hope that Saori can preserve Aru's life long enough without her help so that she can be healed better back at the village.
No tears. No begging for escape. The formerly socially awkward librarian kunoichi doesn't even look nervous. Whatever fear she may have is only fuel to the fire inside her that is pushing her ahead here. The second barrier around her directly even drops so that her chakra may be reserved for the one keeping them inside… and hopefully keeping rocks and debris from crushing her.
Her eyes move to the present Mihoshi left behind for her… the arm… She wishes she could have that returned to her before it sustains too much damage so it can be reattached, but the chances of that are slim to none at this point unless…
"… If you want me to be able to pull off the jutsu you need, I'm going to need this," she says as she reaches down to pick the arm up slowly. Once she's risen back up, she holds the arm out. "One of you has Ice jutsu, correct? Preserving this is essential so that the seals within it aren't affected by decay."
She then looks over to the one Tsugumi called grandfather, studying him over for a long moment. "…. You have quite a legacy, Uchiha-sama… It is my understanding unfortunately that the Second Hokage robbed you of your rest in this manner to protect the village, but she is gone now… We do not have to be enemies. What is it you need me to do?"
The Shirayuki girl is still off chopping up the enemy ninja that had filled the forest, single-handedly dealing with dozens of ninja of unknown skill, but adequate stealth capability to have been monitoring Team 13, a unit comprised of sensor-nin, without detection and for who-knows-how-long. As Rinoko begins talking about preserving the arm, the assembled unusual shinobi, whom Rinoko has seemingly just accepted are dead people, alternate either looking at her, looking at each other, or just taking in their surroundings after being locked up in a cave for so long.
The Land of Hot Water guy 'tch's in annoyance, his combination tea-ceremony/ninja outfit not matching with his wispy moustache and goatee, 'western' features, or his inverted eye colors. Which one was he again? The Kaguya called him 'Kotatsu'? "Are you trying to tell your captors what to do? We'll decide what you need and don't need!" He raises a hand and points it at Rinoko, steam leaking from his fingersteps and a sound like boiling emanating from him. Little bubbles start to form on his skin, even!
Kotatsu sneers a bit, relishing the ability to kill once again. The hand of the Kaguya woman snaps out and grabs him by the wrist, however, forcing his hand up towards the sky. Kotatsu glares at her briefly, but the white-haired, red-eyed woman in the leather harness glares right back.
Her killing intent earlier was enough to strike instinctive terror into everyone around. Miniscule now compared to then, nonetheless Kotatsu 'tch's again and looks away, letting his skin return to normal and the steam stop flowing from his fingers.
The Kaguya woman looks back to Rinoko and says, "When Nana returns, I will ask her to preserve it. That does not mean you will be allowed to access it."
Right on cue, the ice mirror that the blue-haired Shirayuki girl made, that has been hovering in the air, suddenly serves as a portal for her to emerge from. She hops down, in a floofy kimono with a waist-ribbon in back, looking like an adorable little princess… With seams on her legs and face, and the same inverted eyes as the rest. And also lots of blood spattered all over from the people she just killed.
Rather than immediately broaching the subject of the arm, the Kaguya, Narui she was called, asks the more pressing question. "Did you get them all?"
Nana shakes her head. "Mm-mm. Some went out of range."
Narui asks, "Did you at least get her allies?"
Nana thinks about it. Then she says, "I think I only got one."
Narui shrugs, the bones in her shoulders snapping and popping from the motion, loudly cracking and grinding as she moves her own skeleton around with the casualness of someone popping their knuckles. "Maybe they'll try to rescue her. Then we can kill them." Narui notices Nana looking down at the arm, and then says, "Oh. Can you put that on ice, little flower?"
Nana raises a hand and encases the severed limb, covered in seal marks, in ice. A box without key, lock, or lid. But inside gruesome treasure is hid.
Uchiha Fudou has been standing idly by the entire time, making no attempt to fight after his brief skirmish with Senju Gato.
Gato is busy trying to count all the bodies from here and see if he can identify any as Senju or Uchiha.
The Hunter-Nin masked woman is picking up the spear that dragoon guy was using before Narui impaled him with a bone javelin and then tore his throat out. She snaps the spear in half over her knee and then takes a few practice swipes with it. "It's missing string, but I'll make due." she says with a sigh.
Weren't there seven ninja who emerged from the cave? But it looks like there's only six here now…
Fudou tilts his head as Rinoko addresses him, and asks, "What do you know about my 'legacy'? That woman who called me grand father… I'm assuming she's one of my descendants?"
Gato breaks off his scanning of the forest to say, "Perhaps she means your grand daughter is an extremely promiscuous—" But his words are interrupted by a fist driven into his mouth by Fudou, without looking, tearing the lower half of his face off. Just like the previous times they suffered injuries, no blood appears from the injury, and scraps of… 'Flesh' seem to gradually flow back into place, drifting through the air and repairing the damage.
This time, however, Gato doesn't waste time challenging Fudou to battle, he just raises a hand and unleashes what appears to be a handful of black rose petals that appear from nowhere. Fudou turns and tries to slice them out of the air, but where they touch, his sword ceases to exist. His Sharingan blazes and Gato reels back for a moment, seemingly under the influence of Genjutsu, only to surge with an enormous amount of Chakra, throwing the paralysis off, and roaring out, "Erasure Release: Wall of Nothing!"
Fudou leaps backwards, only his Sharingan saving him as the ground between them is suddenly just indented. Like a wall was there at one point but isn't now. Or like there's something there erasing everything that tries to pass through it.
Sudden a broken spear rams through Fudou from his blind spot, punching through his torso and out the other side before he can even turn to look at his attacker, the masked Hunter-Nin, the former wielder of Nuibari, and a Seven Swordswoman, has already appeared in the path of her own thrown weapon, which she grabs out of the air and throws at an angle that skims the invisible barrier Gato put up, and through Gate himself. Again, as Gato turns, in slow motion from the Swordswoman's perspective, she simply shoots right by him, appearing behind him, catching her weapon out of the air, and then returns to her original position she threw from when she attacked Fudou. Then the masked woman pulls and both Uchiha and Senju get yanked around in a whip-like motion that has them swinging around the invisible barrier and then into the visible one Rinoko is maintaining with enormous force.
"Found some string," the masked woman says casually. The 'string' she appears to be using is made of sinew and other grisly things she extracted from the corpse of the dragoon. "I've had to sit through I don't know how many years of you two being total jerks to each other. You're fighting ALL THE TIME. I'm tired of it. Knock it off, at least until we're free to go our own ways."
Fudou and Gato seem to be trying to get up, regardless of their impact or lack thereof upon Rinoko's barrier, but it's like their movements are hindered by more than the bloody 'string' running through their torsos. From the smoldering of the muscular strings, and the crackle of electricity over the two undead shinobi, it looks like the Swordswoman is using Lightning Release to paralyze them.
She looks at Rinoko through the eye slits of her mask, features hidden, and says, "We want only two things from you. The first, is for you to see if you can decypher a certain jutsu from scrolls within that cave and teach us how to rescind the associated summoning contract. The second, is to tell us exactly how the sealing jutsu used upon us was broken, so we can do it ourselves if Tobiramako ever tries to lock us away again. I'm assuming since you said she was 'gone' that means she isn't responsible for you being here. So, you set us free, we don't kill you, and none of your allies get hurt. Pretty sweet deal, right?"
The masked woman looks to Nana and says, "Oh, right. No MORE of your allies get hurt, I mean." She then cuts the flow of Lightning Chakra, and the Uchiha and Senju break apart almost immediately, leaping to opposite sides of the clearing.
Fudou focuses on Rinoko and the masked woman for now, intending not to be taken by surprise by the latter's speed again, and still wanting to know the answer to the former's comment about his 'legacy'.
Gato is brushing himself off, disgusted with having had the Uchiha lying on top of him, as Kotatsu teases him about yaoi and risks another fight starting.
What a dysfunctional bunch.
…And there WAS a seventh figure in the smoke after the cave got blown open, right? That wasn't imagined?
Even as she is threatened, Rinoko stares right ahead at the man with furrowed brows. Has she lost her fear of death? Or maybe she's simply resigned that this lot won't kill her because she is the one that unlocked their cage and right now their only hope of accomplishing whatever it is they want accomplished since they disarmed the only other seal master in the group… literally dis-armed because Rinoko is holding her arm right now. Or maybe because, if she dies, they won't get what they want and Konoha will probably be safer…
Whatever the case, she hardly even flinches at the sight of the jutsu about to be aimed at her. She only regards the Kaguya that saves her from the jutsu with a light bow of her head and two simple words. "Of course."
As the blue-haired woman returns, Rinoko looks her way and lifts an eyebrow slightly as she tries to figure out just how much of that blood might be from her teammates. Her eyes dart back and forth between this woman and her friends, counting each of them as she does so… One is missing… and at least one of her teammates has been injured or killed, but which one… This is not good…. She managed to bring all but that one back, but, if that one happens to be the strongest… Hopefully the team is ready for whatever's coming after them…
At last the arm is preserved, restoring some hope of being able to use it for jutsu in case the Rankoro woman needs it and of reattaching it to Mihoshi so she doesn't go the rest of her life without it.
Glancing at the former Hunter, she would cant her head slightly in thought, but that would be cut short as Fudou begins to address her words about his legacy. Just as she is going to answer him, one of the otheres makes a comment that almost makes Rinoko herself want to slap a seal on his face and see if it recovers from being blasted to bits. Luckily Fudou takes care of that for her, beginning a rather frightful battle. The jutsu they are capable of using is quite extreme… and so is the jutsu used to restrain them. Tobiramako did not take lightly her choosing of shinobi to guard this place.
While she tries her best to keep the barrier up, it's is shaken by the fighting. Luckily these people are held back, so she is able to use her chakra to put it back in place well enough… And finally she is spoken to again… She has to wonder exactly who of her teammates has been taken down, but she also has to focus on the task at hand. With a nod she says, "It will take some study, as these seals are not made by amateurs, but I believe I can learn what I need to know to be able to tell you how to escape your bonds." A summoner's contract, huh… If it's basically seal-based, perhaps she can manipulate the seals and put herself in the position of controlling this contract and turn this entire situation around. She will have to take her time to recover her chakra as best she can while doing so. "Recreating the jutsu to unlock your cage is no easy task, but, given some time to calculate the formula given your various chakra abilities, I could probably figure it out."
Her eyes then finally drift back to Fudou, offering him a nod that invites him to come speak to her when he wishes to know more. "… Should I get started?"
The Swordswoman reaches up and removes her mask, squinting and smiling at Rinoko when the latter agrees to help. "Suzaku Yuri, of the Seven Ninja Swordsmen of the Hidden Mist. Wielder of Nuibari. A pleasure to meet you. Let's keep our association brief though. I've just spent a long time cooped up with THESE jokers, and the sooner I get away from them the better."
She jerks a thumb over her shoulder at where Kotatsu and Gato are arguing now that Gato has reformed his mouth. Kaguya Narui seems to just be crouching down and watching Rinoko even more intently than Fudou. Her red eyes gleam. Nana is sitting next to her and slowly licking the blood off her fingers like a kitten cleaning her paws after her first kill. But this is clearly not her first.
Seems Narui isn't going to cease her watch… Meaning either she doesn't trust Rinoko (why would she?) or she expects some sort of escape attempt. Or maybe she's just eyeing up another piece of meat. Despite Yuri's promise of safety when this is all over, it may be noted that none of the others agreed to it, and that some might simply intend on breaking the promise… Yuri herself might even, given she's an infamous mass-murderer guilty of countless war crimes on the battlefield.
No, Rinoko honestly can't trust them to keep their word.
It's not until Yuri heads back over to break up the argument between Gato and Kotatsu that Fudou takes his time coming back over. The hole through his torso seems to already be gone. Regeneration or something? This jutsu is incomprehensible. It brings the dead back to life… Or some twisted form of unlife, like a puppet. They seem to be ACTING like people and have amazing abilities, but their bodies just reform from dust and detritus when they suffer injuries. What kind of crazy summoning technique was Senju Tobiramako performing?
Uchiha Fudou finally comes up to Rinoko, his hair smooth and straight like Tsugumi's, though shorter. There is a clear resemblance. But rather than ask questions about what Rinoko was talking about, he simply says, "Come with me. The sooner you get started the better." Then he turns and starts heading towards the cave, and the scrolls.
If Rinoko follows, he waits until they're alone inside the cavern within before speaking to her again, ignoring all attempts at communication until then. There's a shrine in the center of the cave. It's not very spacious. Perhaps 30 feet in diameter. A very crowded location for seven people who don't get along to stay for days, let alone years. No wonder they're so eager to get away from here and from each other.
Though he seems to have a temper, Fudou also keeps his cool most of the time. Another trait Tsugumi seemingly got from him. He eventually says, "I think, if I had seen my daughter grow to adulthood, she might have looked like the woman who was here. I almost thought of calling out to her, infact. Meiko…" He turns around to face Rinoko and says, "Who are you exactly? You're not an Uchiha, are you?"
Rinoko looks back to the masked woman as she removes her mask and affirms her identity… Yuri… as in… Who the heck names their kid that? Even if it's a nickname she gave herself… Well, at least it's known what the woman wants people to be thinking about when she introduces herself. "Rankoro Rinoko. I will do my best," she says with a light bow of her head.
Feeling the eyes trying to drill holes through her, the Rankoro woman looks over at the Kaguya woman and lifts an eyebrow slightly. Indeed, there is no trust lost here. Rinoko just has to play along and gather information and learn what jutsu she can do get herself out of this before her time is up and these zombies lose patience and decide to kill her.
As Fudou takes back over, she looks back his way, first eyeing his healing injury and then simply nodding and following behind him. She takes the hint easily enough to be silent as they walk. When at last they reach the place where they area where they are basically alone at the shrine, she turns to look at him and nods. "I never know Meiko, but your granddaughter's name is Tsugumi and her daughter's name is Suzuha. I am not an Uchiha, but I am their teammate and… umm… a loved one of your granddaughter." After a brief pause, she says, "I don't know much about you, but, from what I can tell, she and you are somewhat alike. You would be very proud of her. She is powerful and respected… You really do have a great legacy behind you."
Fudou's Sharingan glows in the dim light of the cave, though it seems there's some hole up near the top filtering down sun light as the afternoon progresses. Perhaps they couldn't get out that way while the seal was in place, or it got opened up in the explosion. It would be even more awful to have to sit around in the dark with a bunch of unkillable enemies. Geez.
The dead shinobi says, "Tsugumi… A team mate and loved one but not an Uchiha?" He hmphs quietly. "Well, at least it appears that my Clan has survived… When that Senju woman, Tobiramako, summoned and bound me to this world, and I learned her sister was the leader of a 'Hidden Village' supposedly founded by the Uchiha and Senju together, but dominated by only one Clan… I feared the destiny of my people would be forever overshadowed by our bitterest enemies. The fact they found a way to end the wars was something… But at the cost of our identity? Our independence?"
He shakes his head in exasperation. "Still. Meiko survived to have a daughter, hm? Given all the times she tried to volunteer to seduce enemy kunoichi, I'm surprised she found a husband. Well, I suppose it was just a phase. And I suppose since Tsugumi has a child as well, I'm a great grandfather at age 27." He actually smirks and chuckles a little bit at that. Then he rubs his forehead as all humor fades from him.
"I can only hope she is powerful enough. Do you intend to follow through with your promise? We have had a long time to study the scrolls Tobiramako left here, though we could not touch them due to the seals upon them. We couldn't discern everything. But we learned enough to devise a plan based around rescinding the summoning contract. It would allow us to remain in this world indefinitely. Immortal, restoring ourselves even from total destruction, and with unlimited Chakra. That could be a real problem to deal with. Only Sealing Jutsu can stop us." Fudou tilts his head to the side. "You appear to be a sealing specialist. Are your skills enough to seal away these shinobi without dying in the process?"
This place does seem uncomfortable to be squeezed together with that bunch for so long. Rinoko doesn't plan on being here as long as these people have, but she would stay here that long if it meant keeping her team safe.
"I'm not an Uchiha by name, no, but your family has been kind to me and I love them in kind," the woman says with a smile. "The Hidden Village is much different from when the Clan Wars were going on. There have been troubling times, but I think your clan is actually doing well as part of the village. Our team especially is doing great." She then giggles a bit and says, "Yes, a great grandfather… even as young and fit as you seem to be."
She then nods and says, "I will learn these jutsu… But I cannot allow them to harm Konohagakure. My jutsu may not be enough to stop them… but they just might be by the time I'm doing studying all this.
She then looks toward the scrolls and steps over, letting out a low 'hmm'. "… First I'm going to have to figure out how to break the seals keeping these locked." This whole process is a big seal combination process. Still, this is what Rinoko lives for, gaining knowledge in service of her friends and village.
Well, it seems Fudou is trying to help Rinoko. That's probably better than she might have hoped for after being taken prisoner by a bunch of undead ninja with a definite violent streak and some kind of scary powers. Rinoko has been keeping a cool head, but having an ally on the 'inside' so to speak is a definite advantage.
Fudou observes as Rinoko easily reaches through a barrier that fails to even activate her. So it was designed to keep the Reanimated out specifically… Though the second set of seals keeps the living from easily accessing them as well. The Uchiha man seems to think for a moment and then seals, "I have some knowledge of fuinjutsu and the summoning technique. I am no specialist like yourself, but if I can benefit your studies at all, I'll offer what I can. Of course, I can't seem to be supporting you openly. None of these people trust each other. Except maybe Kaguya Narui and Shirayuki Nana. As a matter of fact…" Fudou thinks for a moment and then looks at the scrolls.
"…I should tell you what I know about all of them. I can't say how long you'll be here, but despite what you might think, more than a few of them are willing to kill or torture you even if it hurts or ruins their chances of getting out of here. They may be stupid, or insane, or overconfident enough in their own skills now that we're out of the cave. But you are not safe. The sooner you're away from here the better.
"Preferably, it's because you've succeeded in putting a stop to them. But if all else fails, getting help is a greater priority. One of the most crucial limitations built into this summoning is that we have a limited range we can act within while retaining most of our power and personality. The jutsu is incomplete, preventing fully autonomous personalities and integration. So Tobiramako anchored us to one location, our initial summoning point."
Fudou points outside the cave. "Out to a range of about 1 kilometer, we can operate at mostly full strength. We weaken proportionally the further we get to that boundary. If we go beyond it our awareness starts slipping. We can feel where that border lies, so tricking any of us beyodn it isn't possible. But it means there's a limit on how far you, and your allies, can be pursued. If you could escape beyond that, you could get help and bring them back." The Uchiha shrugs and says, "The problem is getting that far without hobbling these shinobi somehow. And for that, you'll need to not only advance your sealing skills, but target their individual weaknesses. On the other hand, if you feel learning how to counter the summoning itself somehow is a better option… Well, either way, I'll provide all the help I can without tipping off that I'm aiding you."
The cantankerous voice of Kotatsu, the steam-user, echoes down the cave tunnel, the tea-ceremony-wearing man yelling, "OIIIIII. What's taking so long!? I want to be set loose already! I've got places to be!"
Fudou yells back, "You've got nowhere to be, you stupid zombie! All your appointments are long cancelled!"
Kotatsu 'kk!'s in annoyance and surprise and yells back, "WELL MAYBE I PLAN TO MAKE NEW ONES, HUH? EVER THINK OF THAT, SMART GUY? HURRY UP AND GET THE SCROLLS BEFORE I FILL THAT CAVERN WITH SCALDING STEAM! Takkun! <Geez!>" He then spins around and storms off.
Fudou points towards the retreating Steam user and says, "His weakness is his low boiling point."
Rinoko definitely did not expect an alley within the undead shinobi, so that is definitely a pleasant surprise. Having the same undead person be a family member of two of the most precious people to her in all shinobihood was another. Really she couldn't have asked for a better person to spend her time in this cave with.
She continues to study the seals with a low 'hmm', pondering equations of chakra and all sorts of things in her mind. The fact that she is quite likely to die here the longer she stays seems to be a far thought. "Your expertise would be much appreciated," she says with a smile as she looks back to Fudou for a moment.
When he even offers to share information on his comrades in zombiehood, her eyebrows would lift slightly. That has to be dangerous for him… or maybe not since he can't die and none of those people seem like they know enough about seals to be able to put him away. "I got the impression that they are apt to let their impatience overtake them, yes… I'll do what I must to help ease their anxiousness so that I might live long enough to do what I need to do." She would nod then and begin to listen to his explanation of the jutsu and how it affects them.
Just as she is about to ask a question of the Uchiha, a voice echoes down the tunnel from the one in the group that has already threatened her. The most likely to try and kill her first. She'll have to keep an eye on him.
Looking back to Fudou, she smirks and says, "I can tell… Do you happen to know if the anchor point is the area itself or in fact the shrine or perhaps the scrolls themselves?"
Fudou shakes his head. "It could be the shrine. It could be somewhere else nearby. We were summoned outside but there's no reason why we couldn't have been bound inside." The Uchiha starts remembering everything he knows about summoning and then says, "A summoning technique, at its base, is a contract between two parties. One of those parties is the summoner, and the other is the summoned. The summoned, if a thinking being, must agree to the contract… At least in most cases. Some can force a summoned being's cooperation, but they tend not to take kindly to it. Uchiha Madara had the Nine-Tailed Fox as his personal summon, and controlled it with his Sharingan. 'Summoning: Impure World Resurrection Technique', is a jutsu shrouded in mystery. Tobiramako did not explain it to us, and I am not certain even she knew how all of it worked. She explicitly decided to seal away the technique here, infact, because she saw it as too dangerous. An abomination she had made out of a desire to make soldiers who could sacrifice themselves in the process of taking down the enemy, over and over and over again."
Fudou shrugs and says, "Unlike a contract with other thinking beings, I don't believe this jutsu requires our consent to be here. We are forced, and controlled. Some less than others, sadly. I can give you precious little information about the exact mechanics of this jutsu. As I said, Senju Tobiramako was not forthcoming to people she did not wish to know how to free themselves. And I have doubts how much she understood as well. Reaching beyond the veil of death is… Not something casually done or easily possible for most shinobi."
He then scans around the cave, looking this way and that, as though checking for something, before starting out of the cave. The ninja stops half-way down the tunnel and says without turning around, "I should go out or the others will become suspicious. But one thing before I go…"
He looks over his shoulder now. His eyes bear an unusual form of Sharingan. Non-standard. Like Tsugumi's are non-standard when wielding her forbidden power. The rings and tomoe appear more like a head with nails jutting out of it, or like a sun with sharp 'rays' radiating from it. "Your allies escaped successfully. Shirayuki Nana only believes she killed one. In these forms, even the dead are vulnerable to Genjutsu." Then he faces forwards again and continues on his way out of the cave.
A very valuable ally indeed.
Rinoko listens intently to his words, finding them quite enthralling. The woman who lives for information is being given information that no Chuunin would ever be told under most circumstances, especially not one that is not an Uchiha. When he mentions that they are forced to be here, she looks at him with some sympathy, but she is resolved. She will free him from these bonds and put him to rest again, but hopefully not before she gets the chance to introduce him to his granddaughter properly.
"Thank you," she says with a light bow of her head and then she freezes when he mentions having more information to tell her… There was no casualty on her team? That is joyous news. She could almost leap up and hug him, but that would definitely draw the eyes of his companions in undeath… Maybe another time. "Thank you," she whispers out and then would nod before turning to begin studying these scrolls again.