Date: December 27, 2011
Itami, Keiji and Konsatsu go on a mission to figure out why and possibly solve a soot problem in Suna.
"Curious Caper of the Cave Fire"
Border of Wind Country and Stone Country
Canyon Entrance [Land of Wind]
The narrow canyon continues along from the east to the west, the walls almost identical the entire length of the way. The onlor different and outstanding thing in this area is a smaller pathway that actually rises out of the canyon to the north, leading along to the distant land of Stone.
The canyons above are littered with large rocks, and offer hundreds of vantage points to rain deat down on unwary travellers in the canyon. The stony floor of the canyon offers stable ground, and the river that formed it has long since run dry, allowing rather easy passage.
They've finally arrived. Here at the cave mouth leading to the Land of Stone where soot has been ejected every so often from its mouth. Speculation has been had regarding the activity around here and it's been decided that this problem is something manmade. The earth, usually, has a way of letting someone know of it's activity and so far, the ash doesn't seem to be volcanic in any way.
"I suppose it's time for us to go inside," Itami announces to those with her. "I don't know what we'll run into, but that's what we're here for. So, let's go in, see what we can find out and return," she explained while kneeling down to take a sample of the ash. Perhaps it may provide some clues to what they're dealing with.
"I don't get why we are here. There's a lot of soot. Not my problem right?" Konsatsu would question the whole of this mission while following close toward the others, his eyes scanning about the area from under his hood to gain in the area around him. A momentary glance would be given to Itami whom he was sure had brought him out here simply to dispose of him. If that were the case though he would be ready since when he was around her presence he made sure to keep one hand on his clans weapon in case the need arose. "If the problem is coming from the cave, I say we simply collapse the cave. Problem solved."
Keiji looked at the entrance of the cave before glancing back at Konsatsu. "Easy Konsatsu. What if this soot eventually changes the terrain or kills off some of the wild life in the area? It could change things drastically over time." The boy then thinks over his brother's suggestion. "If there is a heat pocket, that could cause it to explode. If that is not the case, it may only temporarily disable it. We need to find the source." Keiji says.
Then Keiji looks towards Itami. "We should be careful of going underground. If we walk into a heat pocket, we could fry. So keep your eyes open and stay above ground."
"Maybe. It may not be your problem, but it may be others problem which is why we're here," Itami states matter of factly. "So, we have to do what we can about this soot." She went quiet soon after this as Keiji began to reply to Konsatsu's statement. She hummed, though it gave no indication of whether she agreed or disagreed.
They continue into the cave to find out what the soot could be. There's different possibilities, one of which Keiji mentioned could be a heat pocket and that could prove troublesome. Mother Nature wasn't exactly easy to handle and so, if it was something of nature, it'd probably be best to warn the others that use this network of the dangers. Should it be something else, well, they'd see when they got there.
The cave mouth was well taken care of by both sides, though there are some signs of wear from the Land of Wind side. There's not much that can be done about that except for areas that may be of some danger to civilians. There are markers on the ground, keeping way of the path, but upon getting to a forked road, they cut off with no hint of what could have been done to them. "It appears we've hit a snag…" She states. "The markers have disappeared from this area.
Where they markers once lay is upturned dirt, so that may lead them down the right path, but does nothing to solve the riddle of who was responsible.
Konsatsu spent a few more moments glaring at Itami from under his hood, his eyes trying to pierce into her flesh like daggers as she spoke to him…down to him. Hearing his brother, his attention turned in that direction. "Yes, I guess that concerns me. Some." He still wasn't fully decided on the fact, but if the others were to continue forward, he would as well. If only to find the appropriate time to slit the womans throat.
When the group reached the next junction, to where the were to continue on, he dropped his hood down to reveal his features and his black eyes scanned around once again. "If a snag blocks our way, we merely cut it down to size." He'd look from one path to the next. "Have you not been here before woman? Surely you remember the correct way. If not, then I say that way." Not even bothering to point or gesture which way he speaks of.
It was not hard for Keiji to recognize the eyes of Konsatsu. He laughed slightly as he continued down the path. He looked at the ground and then did some hand signs before placing his hand to the ground. The boy was trying to determine if there was something else that was living down here. He then glances towards Itami seeing if she knew the way. Of course he also was half watching to see if she would back hand Konsatsu.
After a moment, Keiji pointed to the right. "There is something down here. It's this way, but I am not sure exactly what it is." The boy then clicks his pincered finger and glances back at the other two. They should be prepared for some sort of conflict down the tunnel.
Itami didn't seem to notice Konsatsu's glaring or if she did, she acted like she didn't. She started down the right path as Keiji pointed out the way while replying to Konsatsu saying, "I've been here before, yes. Have /you/ been here before? I imagine it's a spot that many shippodoku would flourish in. Mild tone of light, somewhat cool. What say you?" She asks of Konsatsu, though the question could be answered by either one.
The further they went into the cave, the more the situation seemed to unfold. The area grew drier and hotter while a thin layer of smoke lazed near the ceiling. The soot was becoming more prevalent, with the walls turning a soft white from caking. Maybe it was volcanic. "It's odd…" She starts. "I haven't experienced this before coming down this way. Whatever you pointed out must be something to behold. I don't know if it's dangerous or not, but well, look at all this…" She places her hand against the wall of the cave and scrapes off a bit of ash.
"Under these conditions, it may be best to keep watch of whatever—" She's cut off as a sound echoes through the area. It's faint, but can be perceived with a bit of focus.
"That's what I said." Speaking in regards to which direction Keiji pointed. Go ahead, call him a liar. Konsatsu glanced to his brother, "Whatever it is up ahead brother, it will meet its end at the hands of the Shippodoku!" The boy would then roll his eyes, sighing some when he realized the woman was still about. "Her as well, possibly. Maybe." He'd shrug, not being a fortune teller or what have you. "It just may be a spot where shippodoku flourish. Perhaps that is who is the cause of all the soot. If it is so, then depending on their reasoning for doing so, I may let them live."
As they continued ahead, he'd do so in silence, keeping a constant eye on the woman only to glance away periodically to check out the walls of the cave. It was like nothing he had seen before, but the heat…it made him feel warm. Not an uncomfortable hot, like one would imagine, but an enjoyable one. "A noise echoes." He'd whisper quietly. "If it be alive, is our presence already known?" The boy would begin to sink into the ground only to quickly remember what his brother said about heat pockets and instantly resurface.
Keiji moves down after Itami. He glances towards Konsatsu as he talks. He laughs a little bit as the boy realizes Itami was still there. It was a comfortable warm, even for Keiji. It was almost like rising from the sand as the sun began to set. Then as they hear a noise, Keiji listens in closer. He looks back towards the two. "Someone is coughing." He points further down the tunnel.
Drawing closer reveals the sound of crackling, the sound known most notably to fire. The walls glow faintly with an orange light while the coughing fit continues from within the smoke. Itami removes her sash and proceeds to tie it around her mouth and nose in order to block out the smoke from getting into her lungs. She then directs the same for Keiji and Konsatsu.
"I don't think there's much of an end that needs to be met here…" She stated as she kneeled to the ground and crawled below the smoke. The individual coughing on the ground was trying to get away from the fire and so far has only been spared from what may have been an immediate death due to being low on the ground and away from the majority of the smoke in the air. "Hello!?" She called out, causing the man to reply back, struggling as he did so. "He-hello? Help…help please…" He gagged and coughed once again.
Konsatsu didn't like the idea of following after Itami, heeding her words and taking the advice given, but if she didn't do it first he would have done it anyways. He'd let her know about it later, but for now he pulled some loose cloth from his waist and wrapped it around his mouth and nose. He took a couple steadying breaths to reaffirm it was correctly in place, then dropped to his knees and moved forward beneath the smoke.
It wasn't until the woman called out, that he looked back at her once again, surprised she would give their positioning away so quickly. There went the element of surprise. The ambush they could have easily secured were they to still have the advantage of not being detected. However, neither seemed to matter with the response back from a voice needing help. Konsatsu felt no urge to rush forward as the mission wasn't to put his life on the line for someone needing help, so he stayed the course allowing the others to rush forward if they felt the need.
Keiji also placed a piece of cloth over his nose and mouth. He then crouched down a bit and moved forward. As they came to the man, Keiji took a piece of cloth from his pocket and placed it over the man's mouth and nose. He looked towards Itami before making some hands signs and watching an earth clone appear. He then points his head towards the entrance. The clone picks the man up and starts to move him towards the entrance of the cave.
The man would be moved to safety, although there was no one to tend to him and Itami wasn't sure who to leave to the task. Not that they couldn't tend to someone's health, but eh…
"Thank you," she offered to Keiji. "We may have to cut this investigation short. The man is barely able to breathe and he may have information about all of this that can be useful," she offered.
Yet, as soon as she mentioned these details, the cave began to crack and dirt sprinkled from the ceiling, giving way to the stones to drop down and seal up the way out between them. This upset the smoke and created more of a problem with dust floating through the air and reducing visibility, yet they should be able to get out of this easily enough. There were two ways out of here, one of which they could slip under the barrier or proceed further into the cave in an alternative exit towards Iwagakure. They also had the chance to stay and investigate, but that meant that a life may be lost should they take too long. "It would appear we're stuck. The heat dried the walls further and caused them to crack…" She sighed. "Well, we can try to investigate the fire or we can return home."
Konsatsu withdrew his pincer weapon in front of him, "Cut this man short you say?" He'd gladly oblige, but was far too quick at withdrawing his weapon that the moment he finished his sentence he heard the rest of what was said. "If you think he has information about this mission, then he must be spared." He tucked the weapon back on his belt as he looked around, weighing his options. "Returning home seems like wasted grounds if only to return later and staying as you said a live could be lost." He heard that part the most, which caused him to raise an eyebrow at the woman. She was going to be so out in the open with threatening his life…Whom would end whom! "I think we should head out the cave that leads to Iwagakure, regroup outside the caves and then head back in."
Keiji watched as the cave started to collapse. "Lets hurry up and investigate the fire. It makes no sense to turn away now." He looks further down towards where the soot was coming from. "If we can solve the problem quickly, we will not have to worry." The boy then looks towards Konsatsu. "Quit being hostile." is all he says.
Itami paused and soon smirked behind her mask. "So now we've reached an impasse. Leave the cave or investigate the fire?" She asked while they sat inside the cave. "So, it makes no sense to turn away now… Your brother says that the man must be spared. Hmm." She began to chuckle. "Ah, this is interesting…" She glanced at Konsatsu as he was spoken to with a bit of a glint in her eye. "Let's keep moving, then." It seems she's okay with letting the man pass should it prove to be a successful investigation…
Further movement into the cave would reveal that the fires are the result of belongings that were tossed inside and set ablaze to rid of evidence. Whoever did this probably hoped the increasing lack of oxygen would soon burn the flames out, but they weren't deep enough inside for that to happen. Some of burning objects were people, but have long since been charred, the rest being belongings of all sorts. Wagons, tools and other such things. It's not known who did this, but that may be found out later.
Konsatsu quickly turned toward his brother, titling his head some in confusion and seeing his elder in somewhat of a different light. The answer he had given was indeed unexpected or at least, it wasn't what he was expecting but couldn't object.
When they reached the room, Konsatsu didn't know what to make out of what he was seeing. Everything was burning and the smoke, soot and ash they were breathing in…was basically dead bodies. Quickly he lifted up his clothed mask to throw up to the side. It was intense to think about, but he wiped his mouth returned the cloth then looked back ahead.
Keiji did not elborate the reason he wanted to continue on. Depending on the source of the soot though, this could potentially endanger more people than just one man. As they reached the room, Keiji glanced at all the burning items, even bodies. They had to stop the fire. This deep under the earth though, it would require a water source, or they would have to burn out the oxygen in the room. "We need to get back into the tunnel and cause a collapse to seal off the room. Otherwise it will continue to burn. If we can seal it off close to the room, we can burn out of the oxygen and maybe save some evidence." The boy then turned and moved back into the tunnel. He looked towards Itami. She had the power to cause a collapse.
Itami nodded at Keiji's words, getting the hint of what he'd like to happen. So, she braced herself to change and take shape into her reptilian form so she'd have the strength to make the action happen. She didn't go fully into her transformation, only needing so much power to bring about a collapse in the cave.
Proceeding forward, she began to strike the walls of the cave with her tail, whipping it around and utilizing heavy hits to shake it up and cause it to crack. When it did so, she began to drive more force into the walls by using her ninjutsu to send up pillars of earth to strike the ceiling and sides, ultimately shaking it enough to send it all crashing down. Some parts of the area would be spared due to the pillars holding up some parts of the ceiling, but with the collapse, the fire was as good as choked. The only path left was the alternative route to Iwagakure, that is, unless they wanted to slip into the earth and under the barrier blocking the path to Suna.