Date: October 15, 2010
Following the sealing of Ankoku Cave's main entrance, and the discovery of the horrors lurking within, a rescue team has been assembled to try to retrieve Fuyu from the dark depths of the supernatural cave. Meanwhile, injured and exhausted, Fuyu fights not to succumb to the temptation to give up and die.
"Darkness Rising - The Dark-Light Stone"
Ankoku Cave - Land of Fire
Hashi had been busy indeed, sending out request to a few other shinobi, orders for those that would be technically in charge in her brief absence. She then took with her two Jounin ANBU and headed towards the Ankoku caves. She had planned her route that they would most likely intercept the Hyuga elder and have him accompany her back to the caves. "I really don't know for sure what is going on Akomura-san. Uma-san said that Fuyu-san was trapped in the cave. She also reported something odd about the way it pulled at her Byakugan. So, I would recommend leaving the Byakugan off." She stated as the group flew at ninja speed through the trees towards Ankoku. "Did you find anything of note?"
Akomura motioned for the long blonde haired male to follow he and the Hokage before Akomura spoke, "How long did Uma-san have it active before she started feeling the pull? And did she mention what kind of 'pulling' sensation it was? It may explain something we don't yet know.. or at least can guess at." Akomura was already thinking of being a ginue pig in case people had to actually see what happens to someone. But at what time, and at what cost should he do such? He had someone waiting for him on the other side if something happened to him, right?
Don't think like that. Akomura silently thinks, waiting for an answer from Hashiramako as Akomura's team member from the Yamanaka clan followed behind them.
Hashi looked at Akomura and shook her head. "I'm going to be perfectly honest, I didn't take the time to ask." She said, sounding a little gravely. "I heard that Fuyu was trapped and that was the primary thing on my mind. It wasn't until after I dismissed her, that I put two and two together about the possibility of someone trying to be after the eyes of our Uchiha and Hyuga. So, I am in a way, sad that I'm asking you to return here. I don't want to put you in danger, but if they can capture Fuyu, they can capture just about anyone. Of course, I suppose the question is, did Fuyu go willingly? I think she kinda enjoyed the role of Hokage. But no, Fuyu wouldn't do something like that. She may have been a student of Madara, but she is not her sensei." She then glanced over to Three "I know you were here before. Do you recall anything of significance referring to dojutsu? If so, that could be helpful."
Akomura followed along listening to Hashiramako. "I know you wouldn't ever willingly put any of Konoha in danger's way. And if it was willingly, whatever it is in there must have quite a way with bringing out peoples darker sides. Something else to watch." He stopped and watched as Hashi asked Three about the happenings regarding doujutsu, and patiently waited for an answer from the ANBU operative.
Three, unhenged as he was in the presence of both the Kage and the leader of the ANBU, would have remained silent most of the way towards the cavern. Whether he had nothing to say, or spoke only when necessary was likely know nas the latter to these individuals if not the other ANBU that came along. "My first mission was to assure the safety of the initial squad sent in to investigate. Alot of presumption was made, very little fact was uncovered. Based on that instance, and the reports now, the primary threat or source within no longer has as much influence if any as it did during the initial investigation. This leads to two possabilities. The weakening of the source, or the removal of the source, and the remainants now being free to pursue other goals. It is assumed that these actions are new and likely unrelated to some degree to the original intent of this cavern. The cause of this change is uncertain at this time. There was no significance to doujutsu during the initial visit." Perhaps overly thorough as always, Three reported just about everything he could based on the information that he was provided and aware of.
"From a tactical standpoint, Kiakichu are immune to the effects of the caverns influence. Humans senses themselves are particularly vulnerable, and chakra usage appears to be adapted to by the presence within the cavern, perhaps even felt and identified. I would suggest a minimum use of manipulations. Tags and seals may be without negative consequence."
"We may be using your Kikaichu heavily to scout and map out the cave. I heard there was a cave in, so I don't know how steady the chambers will be." Hashi said casually, "You say to be careful with the use of manipulations as well, Three? That is slightly disheartening, I had planned to use some of my wood manipulation to reinforce the chambers if they had been damaged. If Fuyu is injured, it may have been very helpful to evacuate her." She said. "Anyway, the day isn't getting younger." With that, the Kage put a little more force into her step and it would seem the team was now moving even faster to the entrance of the Ankoku Caverns.
Akomura stopped as they neared the entrance of the cave, reaching down to check his radio on his sash, clicking the volume knob off then on to hear the low electronic clicking sound proving it was still charged. "Alright," he folded a robe flap back over the radio to hide it, "We need to figure out where it begins such actions on senses before we go near. Have you been able to poke your kikaichu in deep enough to find anyone else, namely Fuyu-sama?"
"I advise caution with using chakra primarily due to the spiritual nature of the enemy. While spirit and chakra are not the same, chakra is a manifestation of ones personal stamina reserves and their spirit. It may be a way that the enemy can identify you. The enemy may be "blind" other wise to your particular nature. Theory may suggest that the haunting apparitions and occurances may be part of the enemies probing for information, causing a reaction that allows it to gather more information on the entities that draw close. This may not even work as i envision in the end. May you guide us beyond my pure assumption, Mistress Kage." Three would once again spill out a very long but thorough reasoning behind his thoughts.
While doing so, he was already communicating with his hive in order to instruct them in search patterns, priority targets, and certain specified observations to prioritize in communicating back to him. Kikaichu were not computers, thus as effecient as they were, their commands had to be either specific or broad with little room in between for "common sense" or "contextual adaptation". The more specific he could be, and micromanage within his scout teams, the far better information he would gather about those specifics, even if they miss important details. This was the strength and the weakness of insect based scouting. One of these orders was, if a trace of Fuyu was found, to communicate that back and for a female to be released and to remain with Fuyu's presence in order to be pin pointed. In a strangely near dramatic pose, Raion would point his finger towards the caverns entrance that was covered and a large mass of kikaichu would exit from his sleeve. "We shall see." he would answer Akomura.
Amokura turns his radio's volume knob off, and then on. It works fine. Infact, it works so well that sounds are picked up the moment it is turned back on. It is faint at first. If the volume is turned up, it is clear that the sound is static. The static is a continuous, electrical sizzling in the background. The closer the team gets to Ankoku Cave, the louder it becomes.
And when the team actually arrives, whether the volume was turned up or not, faint scraps of sentences and words can barely be made out. It may need to be tuned a bit to hear them properly. Is Fuyu trying to contact those outside? Is she trying to call for help?
The entrance that Akomura and his team found originally lacks the pervasive feeling of dread that the main entrance -- now sealed shut -- did. It is not a pleasant entrance by any means, but it is also not radiating evil or clouded with wisps of utter darkness made physical and tangible. It appears that the entrance itself is far enough outside the 'range' of the evil of Ankoku Cave that alterations to the environment have been minimal.
It still smells like bat feces though, and the floor is covered with scavenging insects that will just as soon eat a newborn bat that loses its grip on the ceiling, as they will the guano produced by the bats themselves. The kikaichu can fly, but so can bats. The ground is not particularly safe, nor is the air. So how will they get through? Attack the other animals? Ignore them and try to get through unmolested? Just scout the entrance's exterior and don't go inside?
It has been a long two days for Uchiha Fuyu. She stayed behind to deal with the broken artifact that she suspected may be a special 'Stone', like the one that was used to attack Sunagakure, or like the one that the Mizukage tried to take from Akuu Goh. How did Fuyu know about those two incidents? She has informants scattered all over. It may take awhile for information to trickle to her, and then be assembled, but it does trickle eventually. The main issue is figuring out how it all fits together. She managed to figure out that the two Towers each had a relic inside, but the exact nature of those relics, other than the vague descriptor of 'Stones'. They apparently grant great power to whomever wields them… But the price of that power, and all the rest, are unknown to her.
Or were before she tried to fix the thing that lay broken in Ankoku Cave. She didn't know how she knew it was broken. She just knew that, whatever that pillar of light was, and whatever the fragments of blackness that orbitted it were for, its intended purpose was not being met. Instead of doing… Whatever it was supposed to do, it was drawing in all the evil, all the pain, and then rejecting it into the general environment. Fuyu could intuitively understand it was broken. But anything beyond that was purely guesswork based on her observations. A wave of SINS would radiate outwards from the pillar every dozen seconds or so. Fuyu got to experience the wicked deeds of others first-hand.
It was unpleasant. And then she tried to affect the broken relic with her Chakra. That was when she lost all awareness, all consciousness. To those outside, unnatural black flames poured out the main entrance and fused the stone closed. Inside… Fuyu had no idea. She didn't know what happened. She woke up briefly, feeling her mouth dry, hunger gnawing at her stomach, and cold all over. She managed to drag herself a few feet across rough, jagged stones, and then went back to sleep. She repeated this she doesn't know how many times. Each time she woke up feeling worse than before. Like her life was leaving her. She couldn't tell if she was injured. Her entire body was numb from the cold. She just wanted to sleep… But she wouldn't let that happen.
So she kept dragging herself. Eventually she saw a light in the darkness. Just a pinhole of light shining somewhere above her. She tried to stand, but her lack of sensation yielded little result. So now she sits propped up against a cave wall, staring at the tiny spot of light about 25 feet above the floor, in the opposite wall. She doesn't know how she's going to get out of here, or if she is going to die. But even though she is awake, she dreams. She dreams of good times and bad times. The memories swirl around her, playing out in this antechamber in ghostly form.
It didn't take long before the discovery of the bats caused a slight wrinkle of worry across Hashiramako's forehead. "Well, wasn't expecting them, but it doesn't surprise me either. One bat can eat I think it was twice its weight in insects in a single night. And I'm seeing a lot of bats in that cave. We can try genjutsuing the bats to think the kikaichu are something else. Or we can find some ninjutsu method to flush them out." She said casually. "Or, we can wait till nightfall when they leave on their nightly hunt." She looked at Akomura, Three, and the others here briefly. "However, the latter is an option of last resort. We don't know what kind of condition Fuyu is in. We have to get her out of here."
Akomura watched the bats for a moment before he moved that flap of cloth to look at his radio, peering at it for a moment before he touches the tuning knob, clicking it only once at a time, both directions in increasing numbers each way until whatever crackling gets clearer, searching for the exact frequency over which the noise is being sent. "Did anyone else hear that?"
The screeching, hungry, vermin with wings would be noted rather easily as the swarm entered the cavern and the buffet began. Three's hidden brows would forrow slightly before he would clasp his hands together, and several smaller squardens of kikaichu would form and swirl around him. A couple of Kikaichu would return fro mthe fray, heading towards Raion with a bat following them swiftly. Three would grasp the bat out of the air as it devoured one of his forward scouts, taking a look at it briefly. His free hand would change in to a hand sign and a strange, sickly *POP* as well as the screaming of dozens of bats would be heard suddenly. Gesturing forward, the squadrons would head in now, swirling around each other seperately, seeming to be divided but still of one mind. The bats that remained, and there were many, would find that the squadrons now had defenses against them. Every squadron had several "Interceptors" that caused a sense of peace and calm once they bit the bats. There were also a few "Defenders" as a last resort, exploding within or near bats that broke through the "Interceptor" lines. Lastly, what ever remained would have a swarm methodology, simply attacking and drainnig chakra from the bats to allow one kikaichu to escape, as that was truly all it took in the end to scout per group.
"Watch your step." Three would warn shortly. "It seems i will have to enter the cavern as well, to insure that the information is not destroyed on it's way back to me." he would state as he'd begin to enter. Above their heads, a strange battle of aerial supperiority would ensue. Rabid flying beasts versus an organized air force. Many deaths would happen, some due to explosions of gooey flak, others due to sheer numbers, some consumed by the large predators, and yet there was still a good number that were simply leavign the fight to go back to sleep or to somewhere out of the way calmly. The walls immediately upon entering the cavern were thickly covered with bat innards and pieces and viscous acidic stubstances as well.
The bats are combatted by the kikaichu, and either killed or subdued. That still leaves a lot of flesh-eating insects on the floor of the cave, but other than that, the way appears to be clear.
Something else becomes clear too, however. The voice on the radio. It seems that someone is speaking, but it's not Fuyu. As the static fades somewhat, a male voice cuts in in the middle of a sentence, "--no matter how far I went I could never catch up with you… you are the leaves--" *HZZTCH* the static breaks in. "--the roots that grow in the--" *FZZZT* A different voice, female gasps and then coughs wetly, before managing to get out, "Do it."
*nothingnothingnothing* A stream of static that seems to have a distorted female voice accompanying it follows, and then a voice that Akomura would likely recognize… "--Audio Log of Anrukatenso, Day 10. I have been in this place for more than a week and I--" Hashiramako's voice breaks in, even though she's standing right next to Akomura and has no radio out. *hahahathewormthatgnawsattherootsoftheworldtreewillbehismountandthekingofthethornswill* "--won't stop. I've tried meditating to calm myself, but the tremors just won't stop. I have to assume it's the cold as I--" *thecrownofboneswillwillrestuponhisbrowandhewillbleedpoisonintothemouthsofbabesandtheywillgrowupintonicebighealthymonsters*
"--keep hearing things. Disturbing things. The voices whisper whenever I try to sleep. They keep me awake for hours, telling me things that I don't understand, and yet they are so horrible that when I finally pass out from exhaustion, I dream of impossible visions and feelings that--" *dearestsisterdearesttobiramakodearestsacrificeforthegoodofthemanydeadwhowillrisetotaketheplaceofthelivingandeatthemallupsothatthekingofthornscanconsecratethenewworldtothevoidanditwillallbecomedust* "--think I'm losing my mind. I keep dreaming that Ako-kun is looking for me. I keep hoping the dreams are real. But he's trapped somewhere, just like me. He's trapped in the darkness, and he can't see me. He doesn't know that I can even be found in this--" *HZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZZ* Then the voice of Hashiramako's sister, Tobiramako, breaks in. "--led the Village well, Hashi-nee-chan. I do not fear evil--" *Fearevil* "--but I fear failing to follow your example--"
The deafening noise of static combined with rushing wind, and then a completely unfamiliar man's voice says, "I am the one who will establish peace and order." Then another man's voice, far, far deeper, says, ">I< am the >Savior of this World<!" *diemybeloved* "--Kage Summit, and tell them that if I--" *HISSS* "--will release the Beast of Blood, and it will--" *KKKKKZZ*
The radio goes quiet for a moment. And then the voice of Uchiha Madara says, "Oh, you know… it's fun, it's part of my plan… to start a war… to bring peace…"
The radio dies loudly and spectacularly. It suddenly becomes very, very hot and bursts into flames, as smoke pours from every opening.
Fuyu has no idea of the disturbing radio broadcast. She has no idea that anyone else is even out there. She has no idea anyone is looking for her at all. She assumes that she was left to die. She told Taji to blow up the cave entrance, not realizing there could be more than one. She assumes that everyone else will assume she's dead. And at this rate, she may well be. Reaching a hand up to her head, as a sudden pain pulses through the numbness, she clutches at one eye.
The numbness seems to be fading, almost like ice melting away from the point that is her left eye. As the ice melts, nothing but pain is left behind. Fuyu has experienced pain before. Lots of it. Having one's collarbone and shoulder chopped through is pretty severe, for instance. So she suffers in silence. Then she realizes there is something sitting next to her on the ground. It was in her hand, but with her weakening body and numbness, she let go. That's why the cold is fading. She looks at the object and almost can't see it initially, because it's just so completely… Black.
But eventually, as the pain in her left eye fades, even though her entire body hurts, even the parts that don't have nerve endings to hurt with, she can finally make out that this object is… Blacker than the darkness that surrounds it. It's shaped like a crystal of some kind… A stone…? She reaches for it, but then catches herself. Whatever it is, it was killing her just by holding it. Picking it back up can't be a good idea. So she struggles to her feet, and moves her hand away from her eye, noticing for the first time the warm wetness that is leaking down her cheek and smears her palm. She can barely make out the fact it is blood in the minimal light. No time for staring at her own blood.
She tries to gather Chakra and almost passes out again. Only through a supreme effort of sheer willpower does she remain on her feet long enough to convert her nearly-exhausted Stamina into Chakra. Then she forms all the necessary hand seals and even says the name of the jutsu she is using. She needs the words and the seals to focus a C-Rank Ninjutsu. That's how bad off she is. However, she finally manages to complete it. "Fire Release…" she says around a mouthful of liquid. "Flame Bullet…!" she calls out and then spits out a stream of oil that is subsequently ignited. It hits the opposite wall of the cave, catches fire, and then ERUPTS in an explosion!
Outside Ankoku Cave, the sound of an explosion from nearby, and the sight of the cliff side blasting outwards in a shower of flaming stone would be pretty noticeable. It would seem all those bats were woken up and killed/drained for nothing. Poor bats.
"Well, I'm not 100% sure, but that is most likely genjutsu. I have heard this place is crazy with it. The destruction of the radio, that's pretty weird tho. However, depending on who we're dealing with, it's not too surprising. Is Madara behind this? If so, it's not surprising he trapped Fuyu in here, as her sensei, I'd think he would know her better than anyone." Hashi said coolly, "Just don't let it psych you out. You control who you are and your destiny. Dwelling on the past does nothing. You learn from your past and move on."
As the area rumbled a little with Fuyu's attack, Hashi definitely noticed. She glanced over to Three and Akomura. "We should investigate that." She said, "We'll leave this opening alone for now. We're here to collect Fuyu, that is our primary mission. So, let's go check it out." She said, rushing through the area along to ascend the cliff face and move towards the cracking face of rock. "Just be careful. It's not very steady. If it starts to break, I'll try to move in some root structure to stabilize it."
Akomura can't help but widen his eyes and grab at the radio while listening intently when the voice of his late wife comes up. He looks up, into the cave. Worry and indecision in his eyes as he takes a deep breath when the transmission ends, and Hashiramako started talking.
The following explosion caused Hashi to mention their mission, he blinked before reactively activating his byakugan to take a peeksy at the cliffside in an attempt to see anything. He had positioned himself just outside the cave entrance, looking in behind Three next to Hashi before the explosion took his attention away and caused him to activate his doujutsu.
"We should hurry then, so that i can cut off my scouts and recover their information before they head the wrong way." Three would state as if that was all he was concerned about. It wasn't, but it was something only her would really understand, so he suggested it as an aside for Fuyu's rescue. "It is unlikely anyone but Fuyu and perhaps others that are with Uchiha Rainos are in this cavern still if not Rainos himself. We should go regardless to get our answers and the Uchiha Clan Representative out." Three elaborated before tree walking along the precarious cliff side with a bit of caution. "As a note… this King of Thorns may be something to research later." Three would mention as to what caught his ear durign the whole mess of words and nonsense that came through. He seemed incredibly calm… but the proper word was simply analytical. Emotions held no place in his duties, not as ANBU.
Fuyu falls almost as soon as she finishes her Jutsu. The hole in the wall and ceiling exposes the sunlight outside, allowing it to spill forth onto her weakened, exhausted form. She collapses to the floor of the cave and just lies there, trying desperately to keep her eyes open. When the first person she sees is Hashiramako, she just snorts a couple times as though someone had just made an amusing joke, and then passes out.
The utterly black Stone lies a few feet away, near her right foot. Her Chakra is very, very weak. She'll need medical attention.
Hashi spotted Fuyu and smirked, "You know I wouldn't let one of my shinobi die if there was anything I could do to prevent it." She stated matter of factly. She then glanced over to Seventeen who had kept close to the Kage. "Let's go in. Stabilize her as much as we can for now, then prepare for EVAC." She said casually. "Akomura, Raion, We'll be going in once Fuyu is stabilized and evacuated. We'll keep the Nara with us and I'm expecting Noab to show up soon. He was running a little behind. Seventeen and your other teammate will take Fuyu back to the village." She stated calmly. For now, lets see what information we can get from Fuyu. I hate to ask her, but if we are going to get to the bottom of this, we need to go in prepared."
Akomura and his team members arrive right after Hashiramako and Raion, with the Yamanaka stepping forward to aid Seventeen with whatever they needed to stabalize Fuyu. The Nara with Akomura stepped up behind Akomura into the room, looking down at Fuyu's limp body before Ako begins looking around the room she was in before she opened herself a new garage door. "Hm, well she may be a few minutes before she can hear us, much less answer our questions, Hokage-sama." He looks down to Fuyu once more, squatting looking at her face while she sleeps.
As the group hovered around Fuyu, the Yamanaka touched her forehead. It took a few minutes, but the report was given. "She became trapped because she told Taji and everyone else to leave without her and to blow the entrance if she didn't come out within 5 minutes. She tried to destroy a broken…" Slight confusion for a moment. "…'Stone' with a Great Fireball Technique, but she was knocked out when she tried. Then she doesn't know what else happened until she woke up and started dragging herself to her current location."
Hashi nodded. "We need to locate that stone, however one has to be extremely careful with it. Do not touch it. I will make a box out here that will hold the stone. Hopefully, the chakra in my box will help repress any powers the stone has. Of course, first we have to find it and that is a challenge of its own. I would think if you stand away from the cave a little bit, the effects of the cave will be lower. Akomura, use your byakugan in bursts as you scan for something like either a large source of Chakra, or something that is absorbing Chakra. Move around between bursts, if it is a physical entity that tracks something from the byakugan, hopefully the technique will confuse it. For now, that is all, do not venture more than this chamber into the cave, check any exits of the chamber well though incase it got pushed back." with that, she would ask if there were any questions and answer them as the team searched for the third Sage Stone.