Date: June 25th, 2010
Imagine all the bad in the world somehow gained sentience and searched for a body in which to spread its evil in a plague from which humanity would never survive. Somewhere, I know there are heroes that gave their very lives in the battle to protect us from this evil. The threat is over, but I grant you a glimpse of what might have been…
"Broken Memories Pt. 2 - Where Bad Dreams Come To Die"
Ankoku Cave - Land of Fire
Mune, Datura, and Kanami have been left to their own devices for a few weeks now. They have been free to travel and do as they please, in order to both keep them happy, and allow them to rest up after that mission to the Waterfall. Technically it could have been a lot more strenuous of a mission, and the three kunoichi would learn soon enough that much more difficult jobs lay in the future for the Tao Shih, but for now the man called 'Amuro' wished for his allies to be fully recovered, and fully recharged — not just in terms of the physical, but also in terms of the spiritual. The stress of combat and infiltration and so forth can be quite wearying if prolonged. This had been nowhere near what Amuro considers 'prolonged', but he wants everyone at fully strength for the next part of the plan.
At the moment, some of Amuro's many minions have located the three women, regardless of where they were, what they were doing, if they were dressed appropriately to be receiving visitors, or anything else. They simply managed to get into the rooms or locations of each kunoichi, and informed them that they were to journey to a cave in the south-western portion of the Land of Fire. 'Ankoku Cave' was its name, and though it was presently off-limits to travellers, and under inspection by officials from the Land of Fire's government >and< Konohagakure's leadership, it remains the place that Amuro desires for his team to go.
They had three days to get there from wherever it was they had been when they found out. Amuro did not say what would happen if they were not there on time. He also did not say they had a choice about arriving on time. That means that they >will< be there in three days, whether they're busy with other things or not.
It has been three frantic days of travel all the way out to Ankoku Cave's entrance, in the middle of nowhere. Much like most of the Land of Fire, the area is a forest. But here the forest is not healthy and vibrant as in other places. The trees have been twisted into unnatural shapes that resemble tortured faces screaming in pain, or demonic visages leering with malicious intent.
Even though it is afternoon the area is dark with some foul-smelling green miasma that rises from the fetid soil, and blocks out most of the light from the sky. Unwholesome white things protrude from the ground, perhaps some odd form of root… Except that occasionally they >move<. Most wildlife avoids this place, and what few animals have not fled have become ill, with lesions all over their bodies, fur falling out in clumps, open and bleeding sores, and worse. And they're a lot more aggressive than is natural too.
Still, they watch from the shadows for now as the trio arrives. They may be in pain, they may be beyond any normal instincts that they would have had, but they are not stupid. Prey in numbers can be dangerous. It is better to wait until the prey is vulnerable…
The cave itself is simple. Barely a hole in the side of a rocky cliff. However, it is not its appearance that makes it unpleasant, but the sensation of a terrible Chakra radiating from the blackness beyond the entrance, and the total absence of light within. Hopefully the three ladies are prepared for spelunking, or at least have light sources of some kind. There is no immediate sign of Amuro outside the cave.
Having received the summons while in her bath wasn't exactly the height of enthrallment for the young blonde kunoichi, and the urge to harm the messenger, mortally, had been strong, especially given that he was interrupting her with news she did /not/ want. Ultimately he'd gotten away with only a bar of soap hurled at his head that was shaped like a woman under a waterfall, followed by Datura leaving her bath in a rather foul mood. After notifying her rather upscale resort that she would not be staying an additional night, she'd made arrangements to have her things transported to her penthouse in Fuuma Alley and made ready to travel.
Once more, she'd donned clothes that befitted travel, yet still suited her aesthetic tastes: shorts and a light, sleeveless shirt made of dark material, as well as a tiny skirt that blended with the spandex shorts. Most of her jewelry was absent, replaced by a silver ankh around her neck and a few rings sporting a skull, a gargoyle head, and a thorned rose, the flower of which was carved from a ruby.
Her thoughts on the cave, and it's surrounding landscape are summed up into a single syllable, placing a hand on her hip as she hops to a stop from the rapid pace of shinobi-travel. Though she'd travelled lightly, bringing only a small pack on her back with the bare essentials for survival and a scarce change of outfit, it still took her almost the entirety of the seventy-two hours in order to reach the destination. And now she stood with a scented kerchief folded and held to her nose to help overpower the nauseating aroma of the local flora.
And she really was not looking forward to going into the creepy dark hole in the earth.
Being able to attack people with their own worst nightmares didn't make one immune to fear, after all. After a moment, she frowns, or pouts, it could pass for either, and looks towards the other two who'd arrived, provided they haven't already charged into the cave entrance. She points mildly at it.
"Think if we wait here long enough, he'll just come out? I'm not dressed for a mining expedition."
Kanami had — amazingly — not been in the bath with Datura. Instead, she had been in the middle of a rather heated conversation with the leader of a small town. It wasn't too far from where Datura had been staying, but it still would have taken some time to travel between the two locations. When Amuro's minion appeared, just as Kanami was insinuating to the town leader that her original offer of carnal pleasures in exchange for the information she wanted could easily be swapped for a much less pleasant and very slow torture session, she took it in stride.
Was she happy about the interruption? Abso-bleeping-lutely NOT. But she had her orders. She couldn't just leave the town leader though. By the time she finished with Amuro's job and returned, there would either be a thousand people ready and waiting to stop her from getting back into town, or the leader would have fled or otherwise gone into hiding. So she poisoned him. "I have diluted the venom somewhat," she told the man as he clutched at the bleeding wound where a snake had just bitten him… A snake that came out of the Nogakujin's sleeve! Kanami then continued to explain the town leader's circumstances.
"The diluted venom will take one week to reach the culmination of the amassed damage it will inflict to your body. I must leave for a time, but I will be back before seven days have passed. It will take me three days to travel, and then another three to travel back. That should be more than enough time to think over my offer: The antivenom — and thus your life — in exchange for the information I desire. The venom will continue to flow through your veins, burning you and destroying your muscle tissue, nervous system, respiratory and circulation systems… Even if I provide you with the cure, it will take months, or in the worst case years, to recover. You will likely never have your full health or strength again. But by the end of the seventh day, the damage will be permanent, irreversible, and will render you naught but a paralyzed lump of useless flesh, requiring others to feed you, move you, bathe you, and take care of your bodily waste. You will never walk again, and you will be lucky if you can speak in even a limited fashion. If that is what you desire, feel free to continue being stubborn. Otherwise, I will see you six days from now."
Then she smiled sweetly and departed.
That was three days ago. She has met up with the other two kunoichi and arrived with them in the section of the forest surrounding Ankoku Cave. She has never been here before, and thus is depending on the directions given by that messenger, and a crude map he also provided upon request, to find the proper location, and then identify the hole in the cliff as an actual cave.
She is less disturbed by the odor, the sights, the sounds, and so forth as the sinister Chakra source that radiates from the cave. She does not want to go in there. It feels almost similar to that one other type of Chakra she has felt before… This is weaker than that other Chakra, but it is no less fearsome. It makes Kanami's pulse race, and her heart speed up against her will. She does not truly fear most things. Believing that the rest of the universe beyond one's mind can not be qunatified as 'real' sort of has that effect. But her body has other ideas, and responds to that terrible sensation by flooding her with adrenaline and otherwise activating her fear responses.
Clearing her throat once, Kanami answers Datura with, "That is a possibility. I am not exactly enthused with the prospect of entering myself… Proper garments or no." She is, infact, wearing something different from her usual assortment of kimono. Kanami is wearing a black sleeveless top, black spandex shorts, a thick grey obi about her waist, and a ragged maroon scarf tied around her neck, and hanging down her back. Boots with metal shinguards on her feet, and gloves with metal armguards complete her outfit. This is not the Kanami that most recognize. Perhaps she intended to be less conspicuous? Maybe she just realized that kimono were not all-purpose garments? Maybe this is all that was clean!? Whatever the case, she is dressed different, and could probably handle a trip into the cave. The simple fact of the matter is that she does not WANT to.
Kishi Mune was, similarly to Kanami, seeking information. Her investigation had no tinge of violence and menace to it, however, as she was simply examining the texts belonging to a neutral Medic-Nin. How had she gotten access to his personal collection of medicinal books and scrolls? That's between Mune and the other Medic-Nin. What's it to you, anyway? At any rate, she had discovered some interesting information that was relevant to her interests, when suddenly she wasn't alone. Looking up, she found one of Amuro's minions — not that they ever wore anything to identify themselves as such in terms of clothing or tattoos or otherwise — standing across the room from her. She had three days to get to the Land of Fire, and find some piddly cave out in the forest somewhere. She was less than pleased with this directive, but at least she was given a map — however crude it might be.
And so, Mune joined up with the other two at the border of the Land of Fire, and together they travelled with ninja swiftness and agility to the proper destination — mostly guided by the directions given to Kanami, rather than the crummy maps. Before they even arrive at the cave proper, Mune has detected the sickly sweet odor of death on the air. Her nose wrinkles in disgust behind the high collar of her long coat that covers the bottom-half of her face. By the time they arrive at the cave itself, Mune has given up trying to determine what kind of chemical agents might have been responsible for this kind of change to the environment. Some of it might be possible through chemistry or alchemy, but there is a distinct design to these changes that have been wrought… It speaks of the hand of one with means beyond the natural sciences influencing this region. Ninjutsu? Some kind of experimental ninja weapon? Something else entirely? Mune does not know. She just knows that there is some seriously Bad Mojo(tm) going on here.
"And Amuro-sama said to meet him here? Or did he say to meet him inside? If he said to meet him outside, then we will remain here. Otherwise, we should not waste time." She crosses her arms under her chest and tries to see if she can detect any other human presences in the vicinity. She is not a Sensor-type ninja, however, and with all the other things to sense in this place… If there is anyone other than the two kunoichi next to her, she is unaware of them.
"I don't know but I've been told!" "I DUNNO BUT I BEEN TOLD!" "Nights on march get mighty cold!" "NIGHTS ON MARCH GET MIGHTY COLD!" "If I see you nap on watch!" "IF HE SEES YOU NAP ON WATCH!" "I will kick you in the—COMPANY, HALT!" Akimichi Noab, at the head of a small team of Konoha nin, calls a sudden stop. "Looks like we're getting close," Noab says, pointing at some of the aberrations of nature sitting around, "and it's worse than last reported. Everybody stay on high alert! Kango-san, analysis?" The medic of the group takes a moment to feel out the area. "It's definitely not healthy around here, but brief exposure shouldn't hurt us too much." Noab nods. "Acknowledged. All right, let's press on, quietly now." There are a couple of eyerolls after Noab turns forward again, but everyone follows him closely, keeping a sharp lookout for any dangers.
As the three kunoichi stand outside the cave entrance, hesitating to enter, there are apparently a number of reasons to continue to remain outside. The cave entrance is relatively small — it is big enough for most human beings to fit through, but not with a ton of room to spare. There is a curtain of black moss with vivid red splotches on it, growing (or rotting?) from the cliff face and draping over the top-half of the cave entrance. Seriously, black and red moss!? That can't be healthy to touch, whatever it is! And who knows what's in that cave!? And the steady flow of malicious Chakra throughout the area likely doesn't make crawling into a dark cave any more appealing. Infact, the only thing crawling is likely the skin of those nearest to the cave. It just feels… Wrong here.
As far as Amuro's instructions, he did not specifically say to enter or to stay outside. He just said 'meet me at Ankoku Cave'. Via his messengers, that is. A low growl suddenly starts up off to the right. A very threatening deep-chested rumbling that is emanating from a haggard wolf that has creeped out from the slime-coated forest undergrowth, and is now standing between two twisted trees. The wolf is not well. Not at all. One ear >dangles< off its head, green saliva drips from its bared teeth, and bleeding sores are visible all over its snout, face, and even larger patches of raw flesh further back on its body. Its eyes have turned a purpleish-blue coloration around the edges… Or are those tiny fungal growths? Whatever the case, the canine is very unhappy, very unhealthy, and looking at the three women like they're lunch. It takes a few slow steps forward, one at a time, lifting a paw cautiously, and then putting it down, again and again, advancing on what it sees as prey.
Meanwhile, as Noab's team proceeds closer to the cave entrance proper, they would similarly witness strange behavior from the animals. A wasp nest on the side of a blackened tree looks like it has exploded outwards and then frozen in place. It's the size of an adult male human's torso at least, and has wasps swarming out of it. But the insects aren't buzzing around looking for food. Instead they're… Fighting. Furthermore, they'e fighting their >own nest mates<. Many wasps already lie dead on the forest floor, like a carpet of yellow and black. No scavengers of any kind have appeared to feed on the dead insects. They are simply left to dry up and rot — something that seems unlikely to happen given the moisture in the air, thanks to the foul-smelling miasma.
"Aw, don't worry, Kana." The youngest of the kunoichi smiles winningly and tilts her head in the direction of the third member of their group. "Mu-Mu can get between us and anything down there that bites, rips, rends, or mauls. Right?" The same, cheery, winning smile is turned on Mune, as if Datura had just tried to guess her favorite color, instead of volunteering her as the group's meat shield against danger.
As Mune weighs in on whether to move forward or not, Datura removes the kerchief from her nose, despite the absence of it's fragrant scent making her want to gag, and gestures grandoisely towards the entrance of the cave. "Hey, be my guest to take point on this one. You can call back to us about anything gross we might step in." She points down towards her footwear, a pair of leather and suede boots which likely cost more than the average fisherman's living room furniture. "I hate to ruin a good pair of boots."
It's the growling that takes Datura's attention away from the worries of her footwear, used as cover for her reluctance to enter the cave first, much less at /all/, snapping her pale blue eyes in the direction of the intimidating noise. Her head turns slowly, unwilling to make too many sudden movements around an angry animal, and even as she hooks a thumb in it's direction and pops off at the mouth again, she's stepping slowly away from it, circling around to make sure the other two kunoichi are between her and it.
Seriously, it just looked like breathing the same air as it would give her a disease.
"Okay, so who wants to make the gross-looking doggy go away? Mu? Kana? Um… anyone?"
Wolves were known pack hunters, so she doesn't hesitate to cast a few glances to the left, right, and behind to try and spot if the canine had brought any of his friends along for the 'good eating' that had walked so willingly into their territory.
Less than enthused over the possibility of going into the cave, Kanami says, "We can wait another twenty minutes or so outside before we consider going in… If Amuro-sama does not appear in that time, we may have to send at least one of our number to investigate." Before anything further than that can be decided/suggested, however, there is a complication. A growly complication.
"…Hn." Kanami offers. She turns her attention on the diseased wolf, but does not move otherwise. She's not sure if Genjutsu would be effective on an animal in this state, and she would have to have her Doujouji Mask on her face or in her hand in order to use her other Ninjutsu… And sudden movements might be unwise right now. Still, just as Datura likewise makes sure there are no other potential threats sneaking up on them, Kanami lifts up on her toes slowly, to get a better look at the environment. She almost thought she heard some people shouting in the distance… She's not sure if that is a good thing or a bad thing.
Mune turns her head slowly so that she can stare incredulously at Datura as the blonde suggests that Mune act as an 'advance scout'. "Baka," she mutters under her breath as she ignores any further ideas of that kind. She's a healer and a scientist. Sending the most integral part of the team into a hostile environment because one of the team members doesn't want to get her boots dirty is pretty daft, in Mune's not-so-humble opinion.
Her train of thought is derailed by the already-threatening environment becoming even more so, with the appearance of some kind of infected beast. She almost doesn't recognize it for what it is at first. And when she does, her first reaction is not fear or preparedness to fight, as with the others… It's pity. "…What the hell could have caused this?" she asks, without really expecting an answer. She knows this is a wolf, not a domesticated canine, and that even dogs can be dangerous when they are ill… But she can't help wanting to help the animal regardless. She has been trained in the arts of healing, after all. And here is one in need of healing if she has ever seen such.
Reaching one hand up to her long coat, she tries to slip a hand into the interior, and obtain a vial of chemicals from the many she stores in the straps there. She's like a walking laboratory. Perhaps more specifically, like a walking chemical warfare laboratory. If she can get to it without being jumped, she'll prepare the vial in her hand and attempt to gradually move into position to use the substance contained within.
Unlike Datura and Kanami, Mune does not check for additional enemies, being more concerned on what's in front of her for the moment.
There are no signs of more wolves at first… Until the half-whimper/half-growl of a pained animal comes from behind the trio. A glance around reveals that a second wolf is limping its way out from behind a twisted tree, and from the way half its face appears to be falling off, it is probably in a great deal of pain. One leg is deformed or broken, and probably is the cause of the limp and the accompanying whimper-growl with each step taken, but the left eye, which is set in the intact part of the face, does not look any less intent on killing these humans — regardless of its injuries.
Only two wolves. Not quite a pack. Are there more in the area, but still hidden? Or did the rest already die off from this strange affliction that is hitting all the other forms of life so hard? Mune successfully retrieves the vial of chemicals, and the first wolf to appear gives a throaty sort of 'half-bark' as Mune prepares to use her chosen weapon. Wolves do not have the same vocal chords as dogs, and thus are not well-suited to barking. But if the other threat-displays were not obvious, even such a strangled noise as the wolf produces should be sufficient for getting the message across.
It has been said that when normal dogs bark, what they are really saying is, 'Hey!' If this is true, then what this wolf is probably saying when it gives its threat-bark is, 'Meat!' Then there is no more time to consider what the canine may or may not be saying, because it lunges forward, dashing across the distance with remarkable speed — definitely faster than a normal human in such a state of health would be capable of, but perhaps not quite 'ninja speed' — and heading right for the nearest kunoichi's leg with its jaws! …That's Datura, by the way.
From behind, the other wolf hobble-runs forward as well, likewise heading for the second-shortest and second-scrawniest-looking member of the team. Mostly because she's nearest too. The limping wolf moves slower, however.
"Probably ate something with, I don't know… leprosy on it?" Ahhhh, Datura's natural medical training at work. She also begins to object when the medic of their group proceeds to start moving closer to the vile-looking animal! "What are you doing!? Don't touch that filthy thing! You can melt it just as easily from back here if you throw the acid!" Helping an injured and sick animal was not high on her list of priorities. Ever.
The appearance of the second wolf behind them causes the youngest member of the kunoichi trio to turn around on her heel and face the limp-walking member of the two-beast pack, backing back up the way she came in order to put other people between her and /this/ animal, too. Unfortunately, she can only have the other two women on one side of her or the other, not both, and it puts her into convenient target range of the first wolf. Looks like someone should have paid attention.
There's a split second between when the sound of soft paws hitting dead grass reaches her ears and when the canine's mouth full of sharp teeth open up to take a sizeable chunk of flesh out of her pale-skinned calf to react. And she apparently fails utterly to do so, turning to look down at the beast closing it's jaws around her leg with wide eyes just as those teeth begin to dimple her flesh…
Canine teeth chomp into the half-rotted partial trunk of dead wood, even as Datura appears in the missing material's spot, clinging to the side of one of the dessicated pieces of wooden flora decorating the landscape like a kaola in search of eucalyptus. She does not look happy.
"…Fuckin' hate dogs."
Kanami may not be very strong physically, but she has at LEAST Chuunin-level speed. Meaning that when those two wolves come in, she leaps away! …Even though they aren't going after her at all. Besides, this way she has more time to act, due to the distance between herself and the diseased wolves. And she uses this time immediately to snap up her white-serpent face mask, the Doujouji Mask, and place it on her face, where it adheres like it's glued there. She then casts out one hand, and seemingly coming from behind Kanami, despite there being no signs of them existing prior, a half-dozen snakes slither out at high speed and streak through the air! The serpents seem to stretch impossibly long, and then bite into the lead wolf — who has gotten a mouth full of rotten wood.
If the snakes manage to get through the shaggy far, or strike at any of those exposed patches of skin from where fur has fallen out, this wolf's day will go from 'bad' to 'badder'. Snake venom does that. Why waste Chakra on a sick wolf? Because she sucks at using weapons, of course! Duh!
Mune ignores Datura's advice, except to say, "It's not acid." When the wolves come charging in, she doesn't bother to explain her plan. She just leaps straight up into the air and hurls the vial down at the ground once she sees that everyone is out of range. Hopefully it will shatter and releases its contents into the air — a cloud of powerful sedative-like gasses that will hopefully make the two animals pass out for about a month.
She backflips at the crest of her vertical leap, white longcoat flying out behind her and flapping about her body, and then she lands on the side of the cliff face above the cave entrance. If this doesn't work, she'll try something else — maybe something related to stabbing — but she hopes she can just put these two into a deep slumber, if for no other reason than to study them later on and find out why they're like this.
Datura's successful evasion confounds the illness-wracked animals for at least a few seconds, before the one that did >not< bite into rotten wood spots her and starts heading for Datura's new location! However, Kanami's snake attack comes out of nowhere and successfully strikes the lead wolf, causing it to yelp and snarl before struggling to get away from the fangs that pump venom into its weakened body. The struggles come to an abrupt end as Mune's sedative chemicals fill the air. One whiff, and the canines pass out immediately, simply falling to the ground in heaps.
One of them is breathing more shallowly and erratically than the other. Probably the one that was poisoned. He or she is most likely not going to live much longer.
And it's about then that the sound of heavy footfalls — boots specifically — clopping on stone, may be heard in the sudden quiet following the skirmish with the wolves. Kanami did hear someone yelling. But that was coming from a different direction. >This< noise seems to be coming from much closer… The direction of… >The cave<!?
The noise keeps coming closer and sounding louder, until it suddenly >stops<. Whoever is producing those noises is right there in the cave entrance! And that's when one large hand reaches out and brushes the black and red-splotched moss curtain aside, from where it hangs over the mouth of the cave. And a familiar mask emerges, attached to the face of a rather large person who barely fits through the cave entrance. "…You took long enough to get here," is Amuro's greeting to the three kunoichi.
The blonde-haired Yamanaka skirts another foot or so up the tree just to be sure that she isn't within wolf-bounding distance from what was once probably a forest floor, looking down on the animal with a mixture of disgust and disdain. Sure, it had her treed, but only because she didn't want to have to risk going down there and /touching/ it! She's about to resort to her most abhorred of all activities, that being physical violence, when Mune's knock-out gas manages to take both the wounded wolf and it's companion out of commission. She takes her time, picking her steps carefully, as she shimmies back down the tree until her patent leather boots hit dead grass once more.
Noises from the cave cause her to look up, staying close to the tree in case it was time to climb again, a tense frown growing on her face as a large hand sweeps aside hanging moss and reveals… their employer. Letting out a breath, she begins dusting off her bottoms and shirt from tiny bits of bark.
"We had to take some breaks to, uh, climb trees. It's not like we were close when you called!"
She passes near Kanami, she gives the older woman a solid nudge with her elbow, as well as a put-out mini-scowl. "I'm fine, thanks for asking." With her arms loosely crossed in front of her, she raises her yellow brows up minutely, indicating towards the cave's entrance, and the man dominating it, with her chin. "We know where we're headed next?"
Kanami didn't really get the chance to ask if Datura was okay before Amuro showed up, so she arches an eyebrow at Datura as she is nudged. It nearly makes her stagger. Of course, with her serpent mask on, no one can really see her eyebrow being arched, so she removes the Noh mask and places it back in her obi. "Glad to hear that you are well," she answers Datura politely. Then she turns her attention on Amuro, who is apparently unconcerned about the bodies of the two wolves lying there on the ground in the middle of the clearing.
"We came as quickly as we could, Amuro-sama. There was some confusion as to whether we were to enter the cave or wait outside. The messages we received did not specify." She looks around at the sickly vegetation, the rotting earth, the diseased animals lying a short distance away… And then she asks, "Amuro-sama, do you know what is causing all of… This?" She gestures expansively with one hand at their general environment.
Mune watches for a few more seconds to make sure the wolves are truly out of it, and then she leaps down to the ground — but not too close. Those fumes, as has been demonstrated, are very potent. She'd rather not join the sick canines in drug-induced sleep. And since the gasses themselves are colorless and invisible to normal eyes, there's no telling where they've drifted. At the noise of boots, Mune turns around to face the cave entrance and backs up a few steps, getting ready just incase they've somehow awakened whoever — or whatever — lives in this cave.
When Amuro appears, she relaxes a bit, but not completely. They're still in a very hostile environment after all. "We were occupied with these," she points at the downed wolves. "I'd like to know the answer to Kanami-san's question as well, Amuro-sama. This isn't natural, obviously. Someone or something is causing this. I am interested in studying these two subjects, and finding out more, but if this is something that spreads… I'd like to know in advance so I can be somewhere else."
She also glares towards Kanami briefly with her red eyes, though why might not be evident at this point in time.
Standing around inside a dark, damp and particularly creepy cave wasn't how she envisioned her new life in the great outdoors and the 'real world' as she sometimes referred to it as. Ever since she was allowed to leave home to be on the road, as it were, with her Papa… well, it wasn't full of so much excitement as it was standing in a cave.
Being new to the world, Tomoyo wasn't use to all the new things she was experiencing. Like the oppressive maliciousness that was just seeping from the depths of the cave. It filled her with a feeling of dread, and she wasn't liking it at all. She wanted to get as far away from this place as quickly as possible. But… since Papa wanted to be here, she also would steel herself. Her lack of real world experience something that would cause her much trouble. Now and probably in the future.
The sounds of the outside were mostly amplified as they filtered into the cave.. but the mossy portal that acted as a door tended to muffle some of the sound. But she could hear the sounds of wolves, and people talking. "Aah.. Papa, where are you going now?" she asked in a hushed voice, as if whatever was making her feel so cold was going to hear her and come after her for being left behind. But he didn't get to far away, still within her line of sight since the entrance to the cave and the corridor just inside was relatively straight. Save for the pointed protrusions that lined the walls and probably ceiling.
Amuro listens to the responses from everyone, may or may not glance at the wolves (it's hard to tell with that mask on), and then answers, "We are going inside." That's for Datura. For the the other two, he answers, "That is what we are going inside for. Come on." He then disappears back into the cave, letting the moss fall back down. However, diseased as it is, it just sort of… Sloughs off the cliff face and falls to the ground in front of the cave entrance with a wet 'plop'.
He does not comment on whether Mune will get the chance to examine the wolves/'subjects' or not. But surely they'll be coming back out of this cave eventually, right? They can just pick the unconscious/dead wolves up along the way. If anyone can be convinced to touch them.
For those who do as instructed and enter the cave… It is bigger on the inside than it appeared to be from the outside. It is also considerably less pleasant on the inside than it was on the outside. The darkness is heavy, as though it were a physical thing. It is palpable even, and it seems to be intent on sucking the heat and life out of anyone who dares to set foot in the cave. Amuro provides a light source in the form of a red flare, causing some of the surroundings to be illuminated. But mostly the light doesn't travel nearly as far as it should. Perhaps it's more of that mist from outside? Though that was green, and this is just… Black.
The floor of the cave is surprisingly even, almost as though it had been worked with tools. It is not a proper path, per se, but it's level enough to walk on without fear of twisting an ankle on some sudden step. Rocks protrude from the edges of the cavern walls, however, and they look plenty sharp. Falling onto one would be no less harmful than being run through with a blade.
Other than these details, and occasional bones from small animals, there does not appear to be any immediate danger. Just that throbbing pulse of wicked Chakra that seems to emanate from the entire cave, and the unpleasant idea that everything in this part of the forest — even the >walls of the cave< — wants these intruders dead. The cave continues ahead, into a more-or-less straight passage, down which a new face for three of the group can be seen.
Amuro just keeps walking ahead, assuming everyone will follow him instead of dawdling. Once he reaches Tomoyo, he pauses briefly to indicate her with one hand as he turns back to face the three kunoichi that follow. "This is Tomoyo," he introduces in that extremely deep voice of his. There is a pause, and then he begins walking again, not bothering to name or introduce the others to his adopted daughter.
"Who cares what causes it, let's just not stick around long enough to catch it." Datura's sage pearl of wisdom comes along with a curled lip of distaste as she shoots one of the unconscious, diseased creatures a putrid look. For a woman who prided herself on her outward appearance as much as the runaway Yamanaka, a wasting disease was likely up there in her worst fears section. She gives a small shudder as she looks away.
"Inside. Great. Just what I was hoping for."
With disgruntled muttering and a despondent sigh, Datura follows the leader of the Tao Shih into the cave, grimacing as she steps over the wet moss, and turns sideways, limboing underneath if necessary, to avoid touching any of it that was hanging. She follows the eerie red light, trying to focus on just breathing in this oppressive dark atmosphere, pale blue eyes taking in the dimly-lit path as she puts one soft-soled shoe in front of the other. Her arms hug around her torso, each hand gripping the tricep of the opposite arm as she compacts her body while walking to conserve space.
As the 'new girl' is introduced, she gets a glance from the blonde, and it's not a very pleasant one. A single look down, and another one back up, Datura's expression showing that she's not impressed as she continues on in their tall leader's wake, rudely not introducing herself.
"I think… we found the place where bad dreams come to die."
Kanami notices the glare from Mune but just smiles back at her, since she has no idea what she may have said or done wrong. When told they are to go inside, she sights and follows after. She is the second one into the cave. And it is truly miserable in here. Hard to see anything through the dark mist, hard to feel anything through the numbing cold, hard to think through the instinctive fear… Maybe she doesn't truly believe in the existence of others as anything other than an extrapolation based on the information being fed to her brain through some external means… But her body is certainly telling her that this is all sorts of bad and wrong.
Upon hearing Tomoyo's name, and looking around Datura to see the younger woman, Kanami bows slightly and says, "A pleasure to meet you, Tomoyo-san. I'm Kanami." Her voice is quiet, however. The cave does not seem to lend itself to especially loud speech. Moving to follow Amuro and and Datura, she wonders why exactly they are going into such a dank and EVIL place as this. Her instincts tell her to get out of here while she still can. But being rather proficient with Genjutsu, she has the will to resist such impulses — for now.
While Amuro is secretive at the best of times, he normally provides SOME form of explanation for what he does and why he expects his allies to do what he asks of them. But not this time. So maybe he doesn't want them to know yet, or there is someone else around that he doesn't want to know. Hmm… Mune slips into the cave after taking a moment to look back at the wolves. She says quietly, "Wait here." Then she turns back around and enters the darkness completely.
She has not experienced many things even remotely similar to this before. This amount of raw malice and unnatural, life-sucking cold is completely new, though. Huge amounts of Chakra? She can handle that. Huge amounts of EVIL Chakra that can corrupt the forest and the animals living in it just by existing? That's something else entirely. And plunging into the apparent source of that malicious aura is not on Mune's list of things she considers to be smart. Still, she proceeds anyway, if for no other reason than safety in numbers… And her curiousity. Her hunger for knowledge is acting up, sending Mune into places and situations she'd be better off staying out of. But if she doesn't keep going, what then? What might she miss out on? What secrets might be left undiscovered?
She almost doesn't notice Amuro introducing Tomoyo as she loses track of things. But she stops a few steps beyond Tomoyo and nods to her. "Mune," she offers. Then she turns around to face forward again, waiting for Tomoyo to rejoin the group before the dark-skinned woman resumes walking.
The only light inside the cave was that of the red flare that Papa had been carrying with him. Sadly, the light seemed to be continuously smothered by something in the air as the light failed to travel as far as it should. This made wandering to far ahead a bit of a troublesome matter, since who knows what could happen to someone alone in a dark, evil smelling cave. Yes, even the cave reeked of some sort of evil. With building tension of just being inside the cave, Tomoyo would impatiently tap the tips of her shoes against the solid stone floor several times every couple minutes until Papa would return.
The sound of the cave moss door hitting the floor with that disturbingly wet plop startles the girl and she jumps slightly. Lucky for her, nobody was inside the cave yet to see just how jumpy she was. She wanted to make a good first impression! Even if she looked like some ordinary person. The only hint that was given off by her appearance was the fact that her eyes were completely white.
Finally it was time to get things under way! The plopping of the door signaled Papa's return to heading into the cave and would stop briefly in front of her to give a short and sweet introduction of the newest member of the group. Was she really a member? Or was she just a tag along? A hostage!? Snapping to attention, she turns towards the three kunoichi who trailed in after and gave them a bow. "That's right. I'm Tomoyo. Let's work well together!" she says in a hushed whisper that was filled with suppressed excitement to meet new people.
Quite the shock though when the blonde one just walks right past her without so much as a hi. It sent a chill down her spine, was she already hated? A burden? The compulsion to continually prove her worth began to bubble. She also wondered if what the blonde girl said was directed at her… At least the second one to come in seemed polite.
The last one to head into the cave was a dark skinned lady who looked suspiciously like a mad scientist or something. With the lab coat.. and just the general feel Tomoyo was getting. And she seemed preoccupied with something else as the girl walked right past her before realizing she was even there! Only to get a single word in passing. Her name. Tomoyo had remained in a bowed position until they all passed before standing straight up again.
Once everyone was inside, Tomoyo quickly turned about on her heels and began trailing along behind everyone to provide rear coverage. She had her new friends backs! Even though she was constantly fighting off the urge to turn around and run… let alone the chill that was starting to set in. Maybe she should have worn some heavier clothes today.
Amuro grunts slightly at Datura's words. He is not exactly pleased with how the Yamanaka failed to respond politely to his adopted daughter, but manners are not his primary concern at the moment. Instead, he is focused on keeping them on the right path. Once they head far enough into the main passage, it begins to slope downwards, heading deeper and deeper underground. It gets colder the further in they go and… Is it the imagination or is there a hint of whispering voices in the background? Stopping to listen would not provide any answers in that regard, if anyone chooses to do so. Whatever noise may have been heard, or imagined being heard, it does not repeat immediately.
As they proceed further underground, the passage narrows gradually, forcing them to walk more-or-less single-file. And that's when one of the people present would hear it. A faint female voice… Faint, and yet clear. "Ryoko," the voice says. It comes from the left, down a dark side passage. But only >one< person hears it. Datura.
If Datura looks down that side passage, she'd see nothing but darkness… And some white whispy something just barely spotted, disappearing around a bend in the tunnel. "Quickly…! In here!" the voice whispers urgently. It's a voice that Datura should be very familiar with, though one she likely never expected to hear again, let alone speaking that particular name.
For everyone else, there would be nothing to distract them from proceeding ahead… And yet for some reason, if Datura stops or goes anywhere, it >might< almost seem like… That's 'okay'. Like it 'doesn't matter'. Why should any of them care if Datura wanders off? Why should anyone care if she stops, or if she heard something? Really, why? Just keep walking… Further and further… Into the darkness.
Amuro continues to lead the way, bearing the flare overhead. The sparkling red light is almost hypnotic, and as terrible as this place is, it also seems to numb the mind to a degree.
As they continue walking along the narrow, worked path, the outcast Yamanaka brings her hands up near her mouth and rubs them together, periodicly pausing in her rubbing in order to breath warm air onto them, only to commence creating heat via friction. The first things for cold to settle in were always the extremeties, but at least her feet were clad in boots. She wasn't wearing any gloves today, which left her fingers at the mercy of the malevolent chill prevalent in the underground passage. Her metallic rings were becoming like tiny bands of ice wrapped about her knuckles.
"Kana-chan, don't you have a kimono I can wrap up… in…"
The youngest of the kunoichi quartet stops in her tracks as a name almost forgotten by the world comes whispered out of the depths, pale blue eyes narrowing into the darkness, her head cocked to one side as if straining to catch that stray sound again, but only managing to hear a drip of some distant drop of water, likely condensation helping to form a stalagmite. "Did anyone else-?" Her question remains unfinished, and those who choose to walk past her as she continues glaring into the side passage would have to pick their way around her slim form, at least until she takes a slow step away from the group, towards a flicker of… something.
The word is the barest of sounds from her lips, more breath than language, as her feet carry her first one step, then another, into the off-shoot tunnel, out of the pale red glow of the flare, plunging her into darkness. She couldn't even see the kunai she was holding in her own hand, at least not until she lit her own flare, it's blue-green light casting back the shadows only partially in her area.
Kanami only WISHES she had worn a kimono for this mission instead of tanktop and shorts. This is what she gets for trying to be more 'ninja lady' and less 'traditional Japanese lady'. She is pretty cold herself, but she only manages to make a negative noise in response to Datura's question. The sudden stop is vaguely annoying, but shortly it ceases to matter, because Datura has moved along down the side passage — at least a step. But then she goes further, and soon she is out of sight and out of mind.
All that matters is going further ahead… Even though the further she goes, the less she wants to do so. But what other choice does she have? Go back? There is no going back. There is no escape. Not here. The only thing she is allowed to do in this hellish place is to go deeper. The suffering will continue to increase without end, as she marches through the darkness for eternity…
She's not sure where such thoughts are coming from, but she attempts to shake them off a couple of times. Yet the sensation keeps creeping back into her of… Numbness. Sure, she's suffering. But who cares, really? What is suffering exactly? Why does it matter? Her eyes wander over the dimly-lit passage ahead of her, seeing the stone spikes thrusting out of the walls and ceiling as the teeth of some great beast. And they might as well be. For it certainly feels as though she is being consumed.
Mune is curious about this place, but she is also cautious. Strange black mist? Physical darkness that you can feel on your skin? Strange whispers that go silent when you try to hear what they're saying? And everyone seems to be behaving oddly… Marching blindly ahead, deeper into a place where none of them wishes to be. How long have they been walking? Hours? Days? Years? She can't recall when they entered this place, and the lack of time-telling devices on her person certainly doesn't help — if she could even see them in the murk.
When Datura stops, Mune doesn't. She just squeezes past, having a bit of a hard time doing so thanks to her build, but otherwise succeeding in not knocking the other blonde over or anything. It doesn't occur to her until some time later — though she doesn't know exactly HOW long — that there was something odd about just passing Datura by and leaving her behind. She can't think of what it is, but it's nagging at the back of her mind…
The only thing worse than the oppressive presence that seeped into the very pores of the rock was the near complete silence of the entire group as they delved deeper into the cave in a single line of bodies. The only thing that broke the silence was the brief grunt that came from Papa, and then the various sounds that one might encounter while being inside a cave. The occasional sound of water dripping… maybe even some noise that echoed in from outside of the cave. Even the sound of wind was magnified by the silence.
Being the one to bring up the rear guard, Tomoyo would have to pace her steps so she wouldn't start stepping on the backs of Mune's feet. Why was this a worry? Because the girl would try to walk faster as if that'd speed things along. Plus, the movement was also a means to try and ward the chill from her body as it began to feel like the start of winter was approaching. Quietly, she'd rub her hands together for warmth before slipping them into her pockets.
Noticing, if only barely, that Datura seemed to come to a slow stop after complaining about the cold.. she felt that it seemed to be 'ok' that she paused. Once the blonde kunoichi takes a step out of the way, the others could scoot around her and press on into the darkness that was only being staved off by the flickering glow of the red flare that Papa was holding up overhead.
For a time, her attention would drift to the flare, watching it moved with each step taken by its wielder. Dancing in the darkness that attemped to smother it out completely. Then her eyes would drift to the backs of the heads of those in front of her. Wondering just what sort of people she would be traveling with now. The cold first meeting between Datura pops up in her head.. what if the others secretly disliked her, and they were only being nice? This train of thought would continue to eat at her as her neutral expression shifted to that of an unhappy look.
Oddly, even before Datura lit her flare, she would have been able to make out something ahead of her vaguely… No light to see her own kunai, but in the distance, it seems, there is a speck of color in the darkness. When the flare is lit, the immediate environment resolves from darkness to cavern passage. But around the bend, it seems there is some infinite void of blackness where more cave should be. And floating in the middle of the void is the house where Datura was born. It's identical to her childhood home in every way. And standing in front of it on the lawn, back to Datura, is a slightly younger woman in a white sundress. Her long, silky blonde hair hangs down her back. She's taking down clothing from a line, where it had been hung up to dry. Even in the nearly total void that surrounds the house, it seems that, somehow, there are rays of sunlight shining down on the house and yard… But especially on that girl. A very, very familiar girl. If Datura chooses to walk towards that house, floating in nothing, eventually she'll find that the flare stops revealing cavern floor slowly, and instead its light shows only a dirt path leading towards the yard. The yard where it appears that Datura's sister is waiting for her.
The rest of the group proceeds without Datura. At least until Amuro stops where he is. He turns around to face behind him, and sees that they are down by one member. "…Where is Datura?" he asks. The question may not seem to make sense at first. Datura? Where is she? Why does that matter? Amuro turns completely to face the group, the flare he is holding up barely lighting up the right edge of his mask as its fuel starts to die. And just before the light goes out, there is a creeping sensation that goes up the spines of those nearby, and then a sudden empty feeling in the pit of the stomach… Like all of one's innards had dropped out. It is, infact, a similar sensation to the hypothetical situation of arriving home from school as a child only to find your family slaughtered in the living room and in the process of being eaten by your neighbors. In short, it is one of the worst sensations one can possibly feel. A mix of horror, repulsion, panic, and… Something else. Something there are no words for. But it is >bad< whatever it is.
And it's coming closer.
"…What a bother," Amuro mutters. Then the flare goes out. All is darkness.
As if drawn by a presence just beyond her understanding, Datura's feet carry her towards the distant speck of light, and it's not until she's off of the cold cavern floor and onto the living grass that she notices she's no longer standing in the cave. It's the fact that her bootsteps were no longer clomping that clues her to look at the 'floor' beneath her, the seeming light making holding the flare up seem silly and pointless. It's tossed off to the side, on the ground.
There are very few events in her life that she doesn't remember, and most of her childhood comes flooding back to her readily, much of it seemingly not of her own accord. Inexorably one foot is placed in front of the other, walking in the pale sunlight, approaching the figure standing outside of her house. She could see her father's fishing pole leaning against the outside of the door, her mother's flower garden taking up almost the entire right half of the yard. She was sure that if she looked around, she could see the rest of the Yamanaka village here in the heart of Kadomai.
But she was unable to take her eyes off of the blonde figure before her, so much like herself.
"…Riku…" Her hands were shaking. "You can't be here." Datura's feet stop, she pauses in her steps, her pale blue eyes wide with shock and disbelief. Slowly, her head begins to shake. "You can't be here. You're dead. You're dead."
Kanami manages to dredge her thoughts of the pit of suffering she has been wallowing in in order to stare blankly at Amuro. "Datura?" she asks in polite confusion. "Why… She is…" Kanami ponders, and then realizes she has no idea where the youngest blonde on the team went to. She turns around to look behind her, but in the fading light and the darkness beyond, she sees no sign of their companion.
And then that FEELING hits her. That horrible, gut-wrenching, soul-shattering FEELING… Since Kanami has spent her entire life detached from other human beings, with no regard for human life whatsoever… Not even believing that who and what she interacts with is necessarily 'real'… To be hit with such a feeling of… Fear. Disgust. Loss. These are things she has never even considered existing within the scope of her own mental and emotional 'reality'. And now for them to be thrust upon her in such in an extreme and undeniable fashion…
Well, it's difficult to cope with. And yet, due to the fact that her detachment from others is not a personal choice but a psychological inability… She recognizes, even as her legs go weak, her heart speeds up, her breath comes in gasps of frigid and foul-smelling air… That these are not her own feelings. Something else is causing them. Something horrible and impossible and which should not exist under any circumstances. And yet it's here. And it's coming for her. She just knows it.
She looks up at Amuro, and the dying light. And then there is nothing but the Black, and the noises of breathing from herself, and likely the others — unless they stopped breathing for some reason.
The Medic-Nin of the group is right behind Amuro when he stops. She wonders for a moment if they've found what they're looking for. She wonders if, perhaps, there is the secret that both herself and the Tao Shih leader have sought for so long, just ahead of the line of ninja, out of sight. And that hunger for the power that comes with secrets of any kind nearly consumes her thoughts, even as Amuro turns around to face behind. She moves to look around him, annoyed that he is blocking her view, and only finds… More darkness. More tunnels. Her mouth slips into a frown behind the high collar of her coat. What game is Amuro playing at?
When the tall man asks about Datura's location, it does not mean anything to her in and of itself. "Amuro-sama…" she begins in a warning tone, perhaps thinking he is playing a game. Perhaps he is dragging this out in order to make some 'big reveal'. But Mune is not interested in the anticipation. She just wants to know NOW. But then she is torn from the strange state of mind she had sunk into, regaining at least part of her normal faculties, as the most horrendous aura of… Well, despair is a pretty good word, because it drives out any hope of light, or love, or anything else. How can such things exist in the face of such a hideous burden as this that weighs down upon her — mind, body, and spirit?
When the light goes out, she barely notices, too caught up in her thoughts about what this all means to her personally. Is this it then? The end of her quest for immortality? The end of her quest for knowledge? She refuses to let that be the case! And yet… That sensation… It's growing as it comes closer. She tries to fight it off with all the willpower she can muster. But who knows how much her will has been weakened already by exposure to the black mist? Who knows how long she can hold out until… The end? She searches blindly in her longcoat, trying to find a couple things by memory alone.
If something is going to try to eat her soul, she's going to fight it to her last breath… Or, preferably, until this abomination's last breath. "Prepare…" is all she manages to get out to the others.
As the group of shinobi press on into the darkness, no end in sight, Tomoyo continues to be riddled with much thoughts of doubt about her ability to be able to get along with her new comrades. What if they all didn't want her here in the first place? Like being a third wheel of sorts. What if Papa ends up sending her back home to live all alone again. She didn't want that at all, but the intense feeling of dread that had filled her since entering the cave lead her to believe otherwise.
And then, the marching stops rather suddenly and that voice… his voice… Papa's voice. It quite quickly snaps her out of the dismal train of thought she was stuck on.. like watching a train wreck in progress. Unable to look away. "Uwah? Datura..? That's the blonde one…" she mumbles. Putting two and two together to figure out that the only one who she didn't know by name was the one not present. But why did Papa care where that one was? She was rude. "I'm sure she's fine… we should continue." she suggests. It seemed that the others also had the same approach to the matter. She was probably fine! Probably.
The dying flare causes whatever light it was still able to put out to cause any shadow around it to start wavering and sputtering, only a matter of time before it'd give out and blanket them all in darkness.
With her regular temperment slowly regaining a foothold, it was suddenly and utterly snuffed out by an intense feeling. If it were something physical, it would have hit Tomoyo like a sack of bricks. She felt queazy as nausea overtook her and her legs began to lose strength in them. Wrapping her arms around her stomach, a futile effort to try and quell the feeling, Tomoyo sinks down into a low crouch and begins to whimper quietly to herself as the impending feeling of dread nearly crushes her. "Nnn… *hic*" the sudden hiccup followed by a sniffling sound just as the flare went out. "Papa… do something…!" she was suddenly deathly afraid and her body refused to want to move from where it had huddled up.
Riku pauses in the middle of folding a sheet, when she hears Datura's voice. Then she turns around to face her sister. Her lips quirk a bit as her blue eyes indicate confusion, as though trying to understand a joke that had just been told. But then she smiles broadly, her eyes nearly squinting closed. "Yes, I know," she answers Datura's accusation. "But there's still things that need doing." Her eyes open fully again, but her smile remains as she turns to a basket nearby and places the folded sheet inside neatly.
"Because, sooner or later, our parents will be here too. And if everything isn't squared away, they'd be awfully unhappy. You know how mother is about leaving things half-finished," she ends in a matter-of-fact tone. "And my business with you is not finished." She then turns back to the clothesline, and removes some undergarments from where they held up with wooden pins. "These are yours, aren't they, Ryoko? Why don't you take care of them." She turns and holds out the unmentionables.
"Oh!" she lets out as she remembers something. "I know what you're thinking! You think this is a dream, right? Or a Genjutsu? Or maybe, just maybe, that I'm a ghost? Well, I have just one thing to say to that." Then Riku leans closer and lifts one hand to try to tap her sister on the nose four times, in order to accentuate each word as she speaks. "None. Of. The. Above." She pulls her hand away and grins. If her finger touched, it would have felt just as real and warm as living flesh. Just like the sunlight that was previous simply illumination is gradually becoming something that can be felt on Datura's skin — warming her up from the freezing cold of the cave she had been in. The smell of the flowers is gradually becoming more noticeable, adding to the feel that… Even in this unreal situation, these things that are happening might actually be real after all.
Amuro can feel the same thing as everyone else. It's just as horrible a feeling for the masked man as for his travelling companions and adopted daughter. But he does not fall or weaken. He just turns around to face the way he was originally travelling before the darkness claimed them. Or at least what he guesses is that direction.
"It's coming. The source of this profane darkness… You are our secret weapon, Tomoyo. You are the one who can protect us. But just as you protect us, I will protect you." That's possibly one of the longest things he's ever said in the presence of Kanami and Mune, and certainly different in tone than his usual annoyance, or boredom, or whatever his monotone indicates he is feeling or not-feeling.
"If we do not stop this here, we will not be leaving this cave alive or otherwise. So, stand up. Get back on your feet. And… When I tell you to, use your special eyes to see the Beast we face, and then >wound it<." Amuro is resisting the tendrils of black mist that try to seep into his mind through any opening they can get. He's fighting back. He has >experience< with this sort of thing. But that doesn't make him immune. Not by a long shot. And thus, even as he waits for the Beast to come within range, dancing before the eyes that lie behind his mask, there are flaming buildings, burning towns, that fly crazily past him out of the blackness, and then vanish somewhere behind him.
The heat from the fires can be felt in passing, indicating this is not a normal hallucination — if that's even what it is. Then dead bodies start to rain down from the sky (sky? He's in a cave!) and land on the ground in twisted heaps, like marionettes with their strings cut. As the dead continue to pile up by the dozens, and then hundreds, he dares to turn around and look behind him to see how far back this void stretches. He can't see any of the Tao Shih members. He can't see Tomoyo. But he's pretty certain they are still around him somewhere despite the fact that, to his eyes that should not be seeing anything, there is only a giant lake of boiling blood behind him, from which the remains of former allies, comrades, enemies, victims… All those who Amuro has seen die in his long, long lifetime… Are rising to the surface. Flailing their burning, blood-soaked arms as they scream for help, trying to drag themselves ashore despite the fact that the lake is lines with jagged spikes, it is a disturbing sight to say the least. So Amuro chooses not to look at it.
Instead he faces forward again, waiting until he sees a certain woman starting to claw her way out from under a pile of corpses at least twenty feet high… And then he dares to do what he has not done since entering Ankoku Cave. He uses his Chakra. Transmitting his thoughts to Tomoyo via a certain Seal she bears, he sends simply this: « Now, Tomoyo. »
To Kanami, she would find herself alone in the darkness. No sounds of breathing other than her own. No sound of heart beats other than her own. No more cold, no more solid stone beneath her, no anything. She's just hovering in nothing. No sense of movement, or distance, or gravity… She is alone. Cut off from everything. Nothing else is real, except that sensation of being alone.
Mune, meanwhile, would get the rather unpleasant experience of her skin starting to dry up, crumble, and fall off her body in pieces. Her entire body just falls apart gradually, drizzling to the ground in the form of dust. No, Mune will not be discovering immortality this day. Just the decay of death. There's no obvious enemy to fight. No obvious target to lash out at. Just the feeling of crumbling into a pile of dust.
Tomoyo will not experience any particular vision or sensation other than that of the encroaching evil. But, whether what Amuro was experiencing was real or not, at least his message would have gotten through. Whether the girl acts upon it or not is yet to be seen…
The blonde-haired young woman parrots the words before her brain can even begin to catch up to her mouth. Her sister was here, smiling at her with that same caring, loving look of sisterly affection she'd seen almost every day of her younger years. Even as they'd grown up and Datura had begun acting out, her sister never looked at her any differently, never judged, never seemed to hold any malice for anyone she was close to…
Riku had always been an idiot.
"Mom and Dad?" The mention of the girl's parents causes the murderer of the pair to spur her brain into action, placing a hand to her temple, the other holding her kunai as she shakes her head and does her best to deny the vision. "No, they're not here. They're in Konoha. We left this place. We left it after the Clan Wars ended! I don't know what your game is, but you won't change the… the facts."
And now Ryoko was staring down at her underwear in her sibling's hand, being held out for her to put away, just like when they were kids. Pale blue eyes blink once, then twice, before a hand hesitantly reaches out, pauses, and then takes the bright-white undergarments into them. Before she gets a chance to begin folding them into near little squares, she finds her nose being tapped, the kunai falling out of her limp fingers in surprise.
On autopilot, her fingers hold a pair of the panties against her flat stomach, beginning to fold them into thirds. Her eyes remain steadfast on her older sister, unable to look away. Whatever this was, it solidly had a hold of her for now.
"This has to be an illusion." Even as she speaks the words, she can feel the warm sunlight on her skin, smell the flowers from the garden, feel the wind teasing the ends of her yellow hair. "If it's not… Then it's revenge, then. Or I'm already dead. And my punishment is to spend all of eternity with you."
Kanami is experienced with Genjutsu… She has willpower… But this is something else. It's not just a Genjutsu. If it was, she could probably break out of it and… Genjutsu don't change how you feel emotionally. They manipulate senses, but the Nogakujin woman knows of no Genjutsu that can influence the mind to such a degree that one can be made to experience non-physical things in this manner. And at the moment… Well, she feels nothing. Sees nothing. No temperature, no texture, no light or dark… She's alone. Just like she always knew she was. What if this is really it? What if this is what everything is really like? What if every experience in life up until now has been some kind of stimulation to her brain that is causing to her feel, sense, and thus believe in things that do not really exist? If this is really how things are… Well, there's certainly a degree of satisfaction in knowing she was right. But knowing the truth detracts from that feeling, because now she has no false world to interact with. She has been left to float in nothingness… Alone… Forever.
Maybe she can restart the stimulation somehow? Maybe she can apply her willpower to this problem, and… Recreate that world she left? She tries. If Chakra is but a concept created by her imagination, then there is little point in attempting to use it. And yet, if it was her own mind that created it to begin with… Then maybe it will provide an avenue back into the false-world through familiarity? She tries to put her hands together to focus, but can't tell if she succeeds or not, since she can't feel her hands, or any other part of her body. But she tries.
Mune hears Amuro's words, but doesn't get the chance to respond before her mind succumbs to the darkness. She has never really been afraid of DYING per se… Not any more than any other human being, at least. But failing to obtain the knowledge she seeks, failing to become immortal and be able to study for eternity, failing to achieve anything more than her late mother did… Those are things she objects to and, yes, even fears.
So starting to fall apart like this, whether it's real or not, is definitely not something she appreciates. As she feels her legs decaying, turning to dust, and crumbling away to pile up on the ground, she looks down at herself, and then tries to run or move! Maybe getting out of this cave is the answer. Maybe it's the cave that is causing this with that evil Chakra it possesses.
But movement of any kind is likely going to fail. No legs to run with, for one thing, even though she remains standing upright in the void, as though her limbs still existed. She screams out at the darkness, trying to challenge the being or phenomenon responsible for this to come face her in a fair fight. Maybe she's not much of a fighter, but she'd rather face a real foe, as oppposed to the unstoppable march of time, and its withering effects on the body.
Paralyzed by a weight of fear she had never known before, Tomoyo found it getting harder and harder to breathe let alone try and stand up again. She knew that if she couldn't stand back up to watch over her comrades, people who weren't exactly her friends… Then she would fail them.. and more importantly fail Papa. Huddled up near the floor, she could only sit there and wonder just what was going to happen to everyone in this horrible place.
Again, just like moments before, Tomoyo was reeled back in by the sound of Amuro as everyone else seemed to know him as. At least enough for her to hear him speak to her directly about being their secret weapon.. Against what? This oppressive feeling? How could she fight something that wasn't really there?
Unwrapping her arms from around her still churning stomach, she brings them up to clutch the sides of her head, shaking it slowly back and forth over and over. "I.. I can't. I can't move. I'm to afraid." her tone was quiet, and mostly to herself. But the silence only made her sound all the louder. "I'm not ready for this! I just wanted to be outside… with Papa." she says sullenly, ashamed of her selfishness. It put the entire group in danger now because of her insecurities being thrown right in her face.
All her training, all that hard work seemed to be in vain now. She wasn't able to do anything for anybody… She was useless afterall. "No. I don't want to be useless… I was saved. Given another chance." continuing to mutter to herself, but she seemed to be calming down.. and that pit in her stomach seemed to feel less and less troublesome. "Papa wants me to stand up and fight for him." sounding more and more resolved to prove her worth.
Struggling to push the remainder of her doubts and fears aside, brushed away like a pesky insect, Tomoyo pushes herself to her feet. Her legs were still like wet noddles, and they wanted to just tremble the rest of her life away. "I'll do it. I'll use my special eyes to protect Papa. And everyone." steeling herself as much as she could. Clenching her fists until her knuckles turned white. She waited for the moment she was told to use 'them'.
The minutes, and even seconds ticked painfully by as she stared into the inky blackness that surrounded her. Not even the tiniest trace of light was allowed in to let her eyes adjust.
The sound of that familiar voice deep in her head was the signal she was waiting for. Clenching herself, she focused her chakra into her eyes. Activating the special ability that she was told only she could do in the group.
The darkness seemed to bleed away from the center and vanish off to the sides into nothingness. The veins at her temples bulging as her eyes became suddenly very alert as if she could actually see. And she could. Everything became varied shades of grey and white now. She could see them all. Papa, Kanami and Mune all just standing there now as she was almost blinded by all that she could see after being blind for some time. What was it she was looking for… is what she'd think as she scanned from left to right. Up and down.
Riku taps her chin with one finger contemplatively, hmmming as she listens to her sister's protests. "Well, that might be true, but this isn't exactly Kadomai now, is it? This is a special place. As for illusion, revenge, and punishment… It could be any of those. Or none. I can tell you what I think this is, though."
She looks upward, where the sun — or at least a light of >some< kind — shines above. The black void that surrounds this place seems to be giving out gradually, fading to the light blue of a summer sky. "This cave… Is not what it seems. It's more than just a nasty hole in the ground. It's a repository for human malice. Think of it like this… What people do in life matters when they're gone. Whether they did good, evil, a bit of both, or didn't really do anything at all, the virtue and the vice do not cease to exist just because their champion or their perpetrator kicked the bucket. People continue to exist who will be influenced by those actions… But more than that, the acts themselves take on a life of their own."
Looking down from the sun and rubbing her eyes to clear the spots from them, Riku focuses on a spot near the edge of the yard, where some humanoid shape is lying on its back, half in and half out of the void. "…The good and evil deeds perpetuate themselves, in the hope of generating more good or evil among those still living. Are they ghosts? Bits of Chakra that bleed out of the bodies of the dead? I don't know. But I know that this cave is where all the bad things that people do have gone for at least several centuries. Probably longer. And further, all that pure evil — the malice of human beings — has taken on a living form."
Riku looks sad for a moment, as she looks towards Ryoko. "But wherever there is hate, there is also love… Even if it's a very small amount. Though all around me is filled with malice… My love for you has apparently made me the representative of 'good' here in the otherwise absolute darkness. I didn't think you'd come. I thought I might have to wait here forever, until you were dead too… But then you might not wind up here. Or if you did, it would just be the part of you that hated me. But I guess maybe I've been given a repreive from my punishment for not being a better sister to you."
She sighs. "I remember when you used to have nightmares… Really vivid ones, back when we were kids. I told you that… If you tried real hard… And pushed the nightmares out of your head… You would master your fears, and make them go away. And so you did. You'd wake up from a nightmare, and instead of crying or coming to get me… You'd concentrate on pushing all the nightmares out of your head, determined that they wouldn't control you. You never wanted to be controlled, I guess. But that might have been when you decided to use Genjutsu, and learn how to get into the heads of those who hadn't mastered their fears."
Riku's eyes are starting to water, brimming with tears that then spill over, down her cheeks… Though she continues to smile regardless. "So this is my punishment. It's my fault that your life turned out the way it did… And my own fault that you killed me. If I had stressed the importance of love… If I had tried to help you in some other way, instead of teaching you that 'control' was the most important thing… Maybe I wouldn't be here now. Maybe I'd still be out there with you."
Her eyes drift back to that body lying on the edge of the yard. Taking a look at it would reveal it to be Riku's own body, dressed in Ryoko's clothing. The body is twisted in unnatural ways… Spine bent, one arm broken, along with both legs… And her face has been reduced to a bloody paste. Exactly how she looked after her sister killed her. "I'm sorry, Ryoko. Maybe the rest of me — the parts that aren't trapped here — will meet you again someday, wherever it is that spirits go. But this is where I'm going to have to stay. And you can't stay with me."
Riku attempts to take Datura by the arm, and tries to lead her back onto the dirt path, away from the warm sunlight and the fragrant blossoms, that will lead back to the darkness of Ankoku Cave. "The others are waiting for you."
As Amuro, Kanami, and Mune are all faced with horrors… Their own fears, whether they knew they feared them or not… Tomoyo's Byakugan would reveal that there are black tendrils of mist streaming into the eyes, ears, mouths, and noses of the other three. Well, it's hard to tell if they're going into Amuro's or not. But they are definitely penetrating his skin. Further, that abominable feeling has reached the point where it couldn't possibly get any worse. If Tomoyo can stand up to this crushing despair and raw malice right now… There's little it can do further in that department. But that doesn't mean that it's only weapon. The air, already cold, becomes colder. The moisture in the air freezes, causing it to snow inside the cave. Further, the very life of those nearby is being sucked out of them, it feels like. How? It might have something to do with the massive concentration of Yin Chakra — the purely negative aspect of Chakra — that is presently slithering its way down the tunnel ahead, headed right for the group and the one in the lead — Amuro. If ever there has been a more disgusting and horrifying creature, it would be hard to imagine it. Because though there is a vague outline of some bestial form, with tendrils extending from it, gaping jaws, and glaring eyes… The outline is less important than the scenes of human wickedness that flicker rapidly like a panorama of evil. Every conceivable thing that a human being can do to harm others, or harm the individual himself or herself, is illustrated in vivid detail within the confines of that monstrous shape.
It is a creature of pure Chakra… But also much more, and much worse. However, whatever evil it might be composed of, it is still Chakra. And Tomoyo has a skill set uniquely suited to dealing with the Chakra of her opponents. If she can overcome or ignore the multitude of malicious images being presented to her, even if it's only long enough for a single strike… That should be enough.
For the other three? Until Tomoyo can wound the Beast, there is little they can do other than keep trying to free themselves.
Even as her sibling looks up into the sky, Ryoko is bending down, placing her neatly-folded undergarments into the basket before standing up again. She's reaching for another garment, a dress her mother used to wear, when Riku continues to explain about the cave. The clothes may or may not be real, she herself may or may not be dead, this may or may not be some form of divine punishment for a life of wickedness led. But it was something simple that kept her hands and mind occupied, something that kept her from wallowing in fear at whatever peril she might now be in.
"A living form? Hm." Pale blue eyes flick onto her sister as she hypothesizes about the purpose of the cave and what was happening within. The gears in her mind shift, and she comes to a conclusion, one which makes her smile, tight-lipped and with narrowed eyes, the smile she gave when she was about to be up to no good. It doesn't last, though, for what hope could she have of harnessing that kind of beast when she was dead? Or trapped? Or… whatever this was.
She ceases her folding as a face that was so similar to her own filled with brimming tears, watching dispassionately, and with unusual gravity, as the tiniest of urges to comfort her sister sparks within her. The flicker of humanity that still remained within her didn't want to look at the broken and torn body of her sister lying there at the edges of the void, didn't want to see the act that had finalized the rest of her life as an unrepentent monster. Instead, she looks away, trying to focus on the flowers, her brow drawn low over her nose, scowling at the sweet-scented flora.
She'd never loved Riku, had always hated her. It was Riku's own fault that she was dead. She was trusting, stupid, weak. She'd deserved what she'd gotten, she'd deserved worse. Datura had no regrets for the life she led, was happy with her freedom, as glad that her sister was dead!
But that didn't change the fact that Ryoko didn't want to leave.
Her sister had her arm, was taking her somewhere else, telling her that she couldn't stay. She tries to protest, tries to stop, to dig in her heels, but Riku had always been stronger, tougher, and she's pulled back towards the darkness of the vile cave. "W-Wait… Nee-chan, wait a minute… Nee-chan, WAIT!"
It was cold again, the flare that she'd lit had gone out. Instinctively, her kunoichi-trained mind knew that meant that she had two left, knew that she had to reconnect with the others, and soon. But the world spun in a sickening vertigo of memories and illusions, a brutal colliding of past and present, and it created a pool of nausea in the pit of her stomach. At a loss for balance, she places a hand against the stone wall, leans forward… and retches in the darkness.
With her eyes finally 'opened', and Tomoyo was now able to even penetrate the inky darkness that had swallowed up the entire group… The girl was silently wishing she had picked the darkness over what she was now seeing. Despite her world now being colorless, she could see that all of her comrades were being attacked by something beyond reason. Tendrils rooted into the faces of everyone, doing whatever it was they were doing to everyone. From what she could tell, they were siphoning out the very chakra that flowed through their chakra network. And if all of it was taken. They would most likely perish.
Fighting back the urge to gag, Tomoyo continues to steel herself. Upon further inspection.. she could see that the source of all this malice was some mass of horror that had no definite shape.. and the things she saw when she layed her gaze upon it caused her to tremble where she stood. Exhaling, her breath would come out in small bursts of fog. The air having grown noticably colder to the point that it was now begining to even.. snow? "Just.. what is that.. thing?" she spoke to herself since nobody around her would probably hear her words at this point.
That 'thing' continued to lurch its way towards them. Towards the one that was at the front of them all. Papa. And with every breath she wasted waiting, was another breath that shortened everyone elses lives that much more. "You can do this Tomoyo. Papa believes in you. Now show him that you're not just another piece of trash!" she said, working herself up into the proverbial frenzy.
First she wiggled her foot.. making sure she could move.. then the other. Before she knew it, Tomoyo had leapt to the front of the group and placed herself between Papa and this monster. Her breath was coming quickly, steaming in front of her face. Her skin was prickling, struggling to retain warmth. "I won't let you take Papa away from me, you… thing!" she said, bringing her right arm up and then down in a slicing motion. Severing the connection the monster had made between it and Papa. Though she had no idea if it would stay that way or not.
Deep breath… exhale… She can do this. Assuming the well trained stance of the Gentle Fist Style.. Tomoyo would ready herself as the morpheous looking blob of chakra lumbered closer and closer until it was finally within range. "You're mine now." frowning fiercely now as all fear was dashed from her mind.
The world around Tomoyo would fall away, leaving nothing but blackness around them. The only thing to illuminate was the shining crest of the Hyuuga clan beneath her feet and several rings that extended outwards around her. Standing, more like quivering where it was.. the creature was in her sights.
Ready now, she would dash forwards and confront the monster head on and plant her feet solidly before it before lashing out with her hands and laying down two strikes with the tips of her index and middle finger. And just before the last hit finished, the next would come. Another set of two strikes, then four. The rate of hits would continue to rise drastically until they were but a blur. Eight strikes, and then sixteen. Each one would send the girl's chakra into the monsters and disrupt it. Finally, in a flurry of palm thrusts and finger presses. Thirty two would be delivered before she'd skid backwards from the force since the monster was just to planted to be pushed back.
Kanami will probably never find out if it was her own efforts or something else that broke her out of the 'real world' of nothingness. All she knows is that after an indeterminable period of time (if 'time' even exists as more than a concept) she suddenly finds herself on the floor of the cave. The sudden wave of sensations that wash over her — a chill so profound that she doesn't think she will ever stop shivering; the rough stone beneath her numbed body; the weakness that comes with having her very life INHALED by a monster — is overwhelming. It takes her a moment to transition between the void and the world — real or not. But once she has accomplished this transition, she decides she doesn't want to sit around in the dark anymore. And so she grabs one of her own flares off her belt, ignites it, and holds it up above her head. The light after the dark is painful, blinding… But better to know what's going on and who is where, as opposed to being left in the dark to wonder what kind of horror is going to consume you and how soon.
What she sees when she her eyes work again makes her change her mind. She can't see Chakra, of course… But she can see the blackness that outlines where the creature is, and she can see the imagery that flickers within. Maybe not all of it, since she doesn't have a high-definition Dojutsu or anything… But enough to know she doesn't want to be in this particular spot in the false-world anymore.
Still, witnessing Tomoyo assaulting the wicked beast — or its outline at least — Kanami decides this would be a good time to help out as best she can. IF she can. So she rises to her feet as quickly as her nearly-dead body will allow, and attempts to cast a Genjutsu on the thing. She doesn't know if it will have any effect on a Horror That Man Was Not Meant To Know… But it's better than doing nothing. So she tries to make it a bit harder for this 'Beast' to suck out the lives of those present by making it believe it is unable to breathe.
Mune's challenge is answered. Just as she has been reduced to one arm and the attached shoulder plus her neck and head, the loss of feeling in her body vanishes. With a jolt, her body seemingly reconstitutes itself… Even if she can't see anything anymore. Mune can hear Tomoyo yelling and attacking someone, but she can't see until Kanami activates that flare. Her eyes squint at the sudden light, and then open a bit wider at what is creeping down the tunnel towards them.
'This is… Not what I expected,' she thinks to herself. But even as Tomoyo is sent skidding back, and Kanami makes the hand seals associated with a Jutsu of some kind, Mune decides to pitch in as well. She doesn't know what they're fighting exactly, or how she can possibly hurt it. And she's most effective when she knows what something is. So it's time to find out. She dashes forward to take Tomoyo's place, even as the chilling, life-sucking effect of the monster's breathing hopefully lessens — and if not, she'll push through the weakness as best she can.
Drawing a pair of vials from inside her sleeves, each full of a red fluid, she hurls one then the other at the Chakra Beast. Whether they hit the creature, pass right through, or do something else, it doesn't really matter. Because she isn't trying to just hurt it. She's trying to ANALYZE it. When those two vials break, they'd splatter their crimson contents on whatever they touch… And with Mune then sending out Chakra towards the liquid that is sending up plumes of ruby smoke, a reaction occurs. Red electricity crackles through the air, the smoke, the ground, and hopefully the Beast itself. And depending on what kind of reaction occurs, Mune will hopefully know precisely what this thing is made out of, and any other details that are possibly to be found out in such a decidedly non-laboratory setting.
And if it happens to deconstruct the monster partially in the processs? Well, that would be great.
Datura, once she finishes getting sick from her experiences and the impact of being wrenched from some kind of… 'Special place', and slammed back into 'negativity central', would discover, if she happens to pop one of her flares, that the kunai she dropped in the yard is missing. Further, the dress she had started to take and fold — the dress her mother used to wear — is lying nearby on the cavern floor. Illusion? Ghost? Something else? Or maybe just… None of the above? Datura will probably never know for sure what happened in Ankoku Cave. But right now, she probably would rather find the others and get out, instead of thinking about it.
The malevolence of the cave seems to have lessened slightly since the Yamanaka travelled into that void. It's much, much colder… But that vicious Chakra source has gotten weaker. And from the sounds of fighting and yelling echoing through the tunnels, and bouncing into the side-passage that Datura is in, it seems things have kept on going without her.
It should be fairly easy to find the others, if she follows the noises. Otherwise, she can try to backtrack and see if she can find her way out on her own.
Tomoyo's physical attacks have essentially no effect on the creature, other than to cause the dark outline to twist and recoil where struck, and then bounce back into place. But the Chakra aspect of her attacks devastates the Beast. It has simply never encountered anything like this in its entire hellish, abominable existence. It bleeds its Yin Chakra into the air, and with it some of its evil. Tomoyo, initially closest to the creature, is bombarded with images — moments in history when people have done their absolute worst. Invading barbairans killing a woman, cutting her up and cooking her in a stew, and then feeding her to the ignorant husband. An infant being thrown into a frigid river shortly after being born, simply because the baby was a girl, not a boy, and was thus worthless for the purposes of inheriting property, according to the laws of the land. The torture of prisoners by drilling red-hot screws into their skulls for no reason other than that the guards were bored. Murder, theft, rape, lies, hatred, and brutality and violence of every kind lies within this wounded monster. But 'lucky' for Tomoyo, she was only exposed to those three scenes, and not the entire sum of human malice. She might be scarred for life, but at least she won't be reduced to a soulless vegetable.
Kanami's Genjutsu makes the Beast choke on its own breath. It has no true physical form, but it falters in its attempts to regain lost strength through breathing in life essence. Which means that Mune is exposed to less of the Chakra-absorbing and life-stealing than she would have been otherwise. And her 'analysis' has been completed successfully. More the Chakra component than the chemical one, the technique that the Medic-Nin uses makes the previously silent Beast scream out with the voice of hundreds of millions of tortured souls, as the bonds holding it together are broken at random, causing mass weakening of this cobbled-together form.
And then Amuro, standing silent and recovering from his weakness until now, chooses that moment to act. "Seal Technique:" He calls out, pointing at the chaotic and thrashing Beast before him with his right palm. The kanji on his hand rearranges itself to form into a complex jutsu formula. "Sum of All Mankind!" The creature, still fighting to retain its unnatural shape, thrashes several more times as its wicked essence is drawn forward, into the seal on Amuro's palm. It comes in pieces and battles the whole way, shattering the cave walls in places where its tentacles strike, freezing the ground where its body drags. But eventually, all that is left is the creature's head. And as those loses cohesion and collapses into itself… The monster is finally gone. Where? Probably only Amuro knows that. But it's doubtful anyone here wants to go looking for it now anyway.
For a long time, the only thing that she can hear is the sound of her own heavy breathing and her pulse roaring in her ears. She didn't need to be able to see to imagine what kind of disgusting mess was at her feet. Slowly, her pulse dies down and other noises come echoing through the cavern passages, causing her trembling hands to fumble for another flare, grabbing at the second of the three-pack. Unsteady fingers only manage to drop it, and it's the third and final one she lights and lifts up, refusing to look down, even to find the other flare. It was probably not in a condition that she wanted to retrieve it, anyway, likely covered in her lunch.
"Ughnn… Gone for a few minutes and they're getting themselves killed."
Datura takes several steps forward before something catches out of the corner of her eye, causing her to pause, turn, and stoop to pick it up. By the time she's exited the side passage, back onto the main thoroughfare she'd left the group in, one arm is banded around her middle, rubbing her sides to try and keep warm, her other hand holding up her lone, dim light, and a dress that shouldn't be there slung over one shoulder. She makes her way, catiously, towards the sounds, though it was slow-going tracing them, with echoes doing their best to mislead her, causing her to pause at every fork in the tunnel to determine which direction she should follow. Finally, she spots the light of another flare.
The whole group was there, the other three women and the tall, masked male, though it was unlikely that any of them would notice Datura was even paler than usual in such dim lighting. She tries to affect the confident smirk of self-assurance she was usually able to manifest, but fails miserably.
"I missed all the good stuff, didn't I?"
Tomoyo didn't have to react to how gross the monster felt each and every time she had layed a finger or hand on it.. the sensation was something she tried to put out of her mind immediately so she didn't dwell on it any more. If she did, she was pretty sure she'd be regurgitating her last meal onto the cold cave floor. Instead she focuses on the fact that she's still freezing. Thinking about that instead of the quivering mass of beast that didn't like the invasion of attacking chakra into it.
When the negative Yin chakra is expelled from the beast, whether it was from her attacks or as a defense to keep things that could hurt it away.. Tomoyo is overwhelmed by images that cause her eyes to go as wide as they could go. Seeing such horrid imagry in front of her eyes as if she were actually there watching it first hand. Could it be because of her eyes? The shock from such a sight forces her to return her eyes to normal, as if that would make the images go away.
Before Mune would jump in front to throw her vials of chemicals on the monster, Tomoyo would stumble backwards and fall backwards onto her backside. She was covering her eyes and pressing her hands into them rather hard as if she could press the images out of her eyes. The harshness of the world that she had longed to see for so long was thrust upon her in a flash of painful visions. "N..No! Make it stop! I don't want to see this anymore! Papa! Make it stop!" her frightened voice echoing down the corridors of the cave.
Before long, he would make it stop. At least by making the creature go away.. the images would also follow shortly after, right? The evil that saturated the caves interior caused them to linger.. but not as vivid.. like dreams. It left Tomoyo quietly crying to herself while the others would probably think she was just a sissy. She tried her best to prove herself, but in the end, she was just to inexperienced to cope with the things she had to see.