Date: July 3, 2010
Eiko goes out seeking the Death Hand Yuurei for some answers, and ends up fighting to prove herself to the Jounin.
"More Than She Bargained For"
Well, The Black Forest. Who else would dare wander here but those that actually prefer being here. Alas, this was also the place that Yuurei claimed homage too. It was a quiet place where he could focus himself and compose himself for things to come. For the moment he was sitting atop one of the large trees, leaning with his back against a stump. He was not hiding himself persay, reason for this was that his mask was flipped over to expose his face and was playing a harmonica. A very eary tone.
Those unfamiliar with the Death Hand had heard rumors that he had been spotted here. Alas, no source could confirm as such. The Blood Marsh was not a place people would take lightly in wondering in. The extended nodachi however was still present as it was set on the log, resting on his ANBU attire. So yes, it was rare to see Yuurei without his robe either. His full combat uniform could now be seen.
Treading lightly and being very careful that she doesn't step anywhere near the edges of the water, Eiko enters the area while peering around herself, completely on alert. The girl had heard a lot of frightening rumours about these swamps, and she was sure that at least half of them, if not more, were true. She'd already seen half a dozen swamp alligators, and come close to getting caught by a small group of giant leeches. But now as wary as she could be, the Shirayuki girl knew that she could be putting herself into more danger than any of the others. She'd come to see if she could catch a glimpse of the curious figure known as Yuurei, the one that she'd been attempting to investigate for weeks now, but to no avail. Her interest had been piqued after the Death Hand had stalked her overseas and into foreign territory, only to step in during an encounter with enemy shinobi.
Her head constantly swivelling, Eiko slowly approaches the place where Yuurei is resting, her head occasionally tilting to one side as she attempts to follow the eery sound of the harmonica. Every now and then her feet make a small splash or squelch as she steps in one of the many murky puddles in the marsh. Luckily her thick combat boots protect her against the regular leeches and other parasites that live in these waters.
Yuurei continues to play the harmonica, Eiko would be close enough to hear a song playing in the wind. If only vaguely. The Death Hand was quite high up. Alas, it was very common for him to know when someone steps into this area. The Death Hand considers himself a guardian of this area, it's his place of rest and he did not appreciate intruders for no reason. The harmonica stop plays as the musical instrument is stuffed in his pocket. The mask readjusted and fitted on his face before standing up and leaning down to pick up the nodachi.
Strapping the weapon over his shoulder he still did not flip his black robe on again leaving him exposed in his full combat attire. Head tilts to the side as he moves to investigate the sudden silence in the Black Forest, perhaps some time to play? He was heading towards Eiko, approaching with a stalk.
Eiko continues following the sound for some time, her head twisting back and forth as she checks around her and above. Eventually though the sound of the harmonica cuts out suddenly, and the Shirayuki girl is left with no frame of reference as to where her quarry might be. The girl stops and lets out a sigh as she realises how difficult it would be to find an elite shinobi in this tangle of a bog, but she presses on anyway. She takes a step forward as she's peering upwards, and her boot lands in a slightly deeper than normal puddle which makes a loud splash. The shock of the noise causes her to instinctively draw her kunai and twirl on the spot, subconsciously searching for enemies until she works out that the sound was made by herself. "Geez, giving myself the gitters," she mutters, trying to will herself to put the kunai away, but not quite able to muster the courage.
Yuurei had managed to gain the flank on Eiko, a very delightful smile set on his face underneath his mask. So the hunter had become the hunted, it seems? Perhaps the intrigue Eiko had in the Death Hand was the reason she was here, or perhaps it was only a cruel twist of fate. But yet, the Death Hand after noticing Eiko had to make his presence known. And how? Well a simple display of TAG!
A set of senbon is released to a log close too Eiko to draw attention before stepping out of his hiding place. A slight cackle erupting from his mouth. "Well well well, if it isn't the little Shirayuki Eiko in my domain?" Head tilts to the side curiously, the nodachi not drawn yet. "To what do I owe the pleasure in you wandering into my training grounds, ne?"
Eiko is suddenly very happy that she kept the kunai in her hand as several senbon strike a log not far from her. The girl immediately knows what's going on, and she spins with the kunai still in hand, raised into a defensive position as she stares down Yuurei. Surprisingly, Eiko manages to work up the courage to ask, "Your domain? Training grounds? I… didn't realise that." It may be a lie, but its one that the girl feels like she can defend adequately. After all, nobody would want to admit that they were attempting to stalk a Death Hand. After a second of the stand-off the Shirayuki lowers the kunai and submissively asks, "So, what now?" She performs a quick check on her chakra reserves, having prepared before entering the marshes, and finds that she's ready to go if the Death Hand decides to come at her.
Yuurei nods his head, keeping his arms crossed over his chest. Not making any offensive gestures just yet, "Well I have to give you credit for coming all this way, unfortunately it was not a wise thing to do." He cackles glancing at her, arms uncrossed as he flicks his wrists, senbon concealed and vaguely noticed gripped in his fingers. "It's simple. I've give you what you wanted, Eiko. You've come all this way to find me. To track me, to hunt me down. So here I am." He tilts his head to the side. "So, Eiko. are you going to explain yourself or do you simply want to know why I have interest in you without bothering?"
Eiko tucks away the kunai, knowing that it isn't likely to do much good against such a skilled opponent, and her mind flashes back briefly to her previous fight with the Death Hand. Then her mind turns over the question he'd asked her, and she simply nods. "I could argue, but you're right. I want to know why you're so interested in me," the girl replies after several tense seconds, her voice stuttering a little due to the cold and the fear she's trying to suppress. Then she points a finger at the shinobi in the trees. "So tell me! Why did you follow me to the Land of Rice Fields? Why request me to do this mission?" her voice sounds more pleading than demanding, but the pointed finger is an attempt to make the words strike home with the Death Hand.
Yuurei nods his head in return, "Well I was curious, indeed. Eiko. Very curious indeed." He cackles. "I saw one of our own wandering into foreign territory." He lifts lifts his shoulders. "Well then, let us make this a little fun then." He raises his left hand and releases a senbon in the direction of Eiko. It was a /harmless/ shot, well for him. In fact it was a hit for Eiko's knee. "I hold interest in you young one, but are you really up to standards?"
Eiko realises that she's about to be attacked again, and at that instant she steps forwards, straight towards Yuurei! Her hands instantly flicker into a series of well practiced handseals, and there are suddenly two of her just before the senbon is released. The flash of the senbon passes through the leg of her clone, causing it to burst into smoke as she reaches back to retrieve a kunai herself. The girl then jumps, kunai in hand and heads straight towards the Death Hand. She slashes downwards at him, and then pivots on the tree branch to throw a second attack with the kunai. At the same time she asks, "So what? What do you want?" A second later the Genin jumps backwards off the branch, performing a backflip on the way down to the ground.
Yuurei dodges out of the way of the first, the second attack he however flicks a senbon from his wrist and actually uses it to deflect the last Kunai. A slight cackle is heart in response. "My wants are simple. Eiko, you've been marked. I'm not interested to kill you, no no not at all. However I have drawn interest as to your reason for wandering outside the village?" Amongst the conversations, however the Death Hand does flick and appear next to Eiko. "You've decided to stalk me, so you must have purpose yourself. It is a threat." He drops to one knee and literally attempts to slam a flat palm into her gut. "Your turn."
As the palm strike comes in, Eiko forms handseals again. For a second it seems that she was too slow, and is sent flying by the fierce attack. However as her body hits the ground it transforms into a plain, if slightly damaged, dead log. Using the moment of confusion that she hopes she's created with her replacement technique, Eiko forms a new Ninjutsu, creating a vortex of wind above her head. The girl launches herself downwards from the high branch she'd ended up on and hurls the Ninjutsu technique ahead of herself - straight at the Death Hand below. 'If this doesn't hit I could be in serious trouble,' the Shirayuki thinks, gritting her teeth as she wills the strike to land with everything she has.
Well, it was quite surprising. Yuurei didn't expect such an amount of skill from the Genin. However this amount of wind generated gave enough focus for the Death Hand himself to focus on the wind to assist in his defense. The wind aided agains the Genin was the Death Hand steps out of the way and draws her nodachi was a result. A slight cackle is set on his face as the weapon is drawn up from behind and slashes for Eiko's torso, before dropping down and aiming at her back. He nods his head. "Win manipulation, eh?" He comments remaining on one knee with the blade drawn over his shoulder.
Before Eiko can even follow the Death Hand's movements, he's behind her and attacking with that nasty looking nodachi. Eiko twists in mid-air as she creates another clone, but the nodachi slices straight through it and cuts her upper arm painfully. An instant later the blade of the nodachi swings again, but this time the Shirayuki is prepared. The blade seems to slice straight through her and out the other side, but a second later in a puff of smoke the girl is gone - replaced once again by the dead log. "Ok, let's try it again," she mutters, forming the handseals from behind a nearby tree until the windy sphere is ready to be launched. She waits until the last possible second: that time when the technique is ready and her opponent is just about to land on the ground and his concentration will be divided. At that moment she launches the technique. The ball of piercing wind causes a trail of leaf litter to come with it as it travels quickly toward Eiko's opponent, aiming for that spot where the Death Hand will land.
This time Yuurei was more prepared when attacking, utilizing a simple means of a dodge to get out of the way. He cackles forming several seals and two clones appear next to the Death Hand. They start circling Eiko as they do so. Several more seals are formed from the death hand as the extended nodachi is then drawn from all three of them. "Eiko, you show such interest yet there's one thing that I must mention. You are going to have to impress me even more if you even think that you are worthy of my time." He nods his head, one clone heads to explode in the direction of Eiko whilst the other remains. The Death Hand flicks out of the way and vanishes, a latent voice is thrown.
"~Why do you follow me~" Ghostly whispers.
Eiko's eyes widen as Yuurei uses his clone technique, and the girl immediately recognises it. "That's the move he used last time…" she mumbles, and she has to struggle to quell the panic that wants to rise up inside her. "Worthy of your time?" she asks, "I never asked for your time. You started following me!" Before she can argue any further though, one of the clones races toward her. The ghostly whisper that seems to speak straight into her mind disrupts the girl's concentration as she tries to make another clone. Suddenly her enemy is upon her, and the assault of elemental slices sends Eiko reeling. Bloodied and out of breath, the girl tries to stand and coughs up some blood. "Damn it," Eiko swears, struggling to her feet and drawing a kunai. Just like last time it seems like the world is spinning underneath her, but this time Eiko keeps her balance. "Yeah, not having a concussion this time helps," she whispers to herself, suddenly making her throat her. The Genin forces herself to keep her eyes open and searching the landscape. Spotting the Death Hand within throwing distance, Eiko releases her kunai at it and draws another with her left hand, which has remained miraculously bloodless. "Come on Eiko, get out of there," she tells herself, trying to pay careful attention to her enemy's movements while staying standing at the same time.
Poof, and so the wind clone goes. It was merely left there as a defensive posture, Eiko taking it out helped to her advantage as a rustle of leaves are heard heading from east to west. If one was good at spotting you would note a figure, Yuurei was simply using this to his disadvantage for the moment. Another whisper escapes, this time the voice seems slightly more ghostly and carries what might be called from everywhere. "Oh no no no, Eiko. No running. "What do you want to achieve before dieing?" Seals are formed as two more clones appear. However they follow the same suit and start rusling bushes, Eiko for the moment was totally in the middle of all of this.
He cackles. "What is your purpose as a Ninja? Power or Discipline?"
Eiko's eyes flash left to right as she slowly turns, trying to track the movement in the bushes through eyes that don't want to focus. 'I'm losing too much blood,' she thinks feebly, but knows that her only chance is to try and ward off this dreadful opponent before she can try to apply any first-aid. As the ghostly questions echo into her head, Eiko wonders, 'Is this a trick question?' Before she can think any further though, she calls out, "Discipline!" And with that she throws two more kunai, aiming for the most prominent and the least prominent of the figures racing around her, but knowing her chances of hitting are quite slim.
Wind is expelled as both clones are hit by Eiko's attempted attacks. Leaving the original, it was well played for Eiko to manage to hit them. Though, the original threat was still out there. Appearing behind Eiko, the Death Hand had his nodachi leaned over his shoulder and rolls his neck. "Discipline, eh?" He cackles. "Do you fight for your village or do you fight for yourself?" He adds in return, a simple question. Many could even lie to get the right answer, the Death Hand was more interested in hearing the one of the answer. "I will not allow you to pass these village walls without being prepared in the future. You are part of the Shirayuki, if you truly wish to be trusted. Then I must see that you can stand your own. Else, I will not stop following you. And this I promise. This is my duty."
Now that the Death Hand has closed with Eiko, the girl unleashes the weapon she'd been hiding. Every since she'd taken that big hit the Shirayuki girl had been slowly forming her signature technique so that it didn't give off as much wind as normal. Now that Yuurei was close enough, she whipped the technique into a frenzy, spun around and brought it down towards the Death Hand in a vicious assault. "I fight for my Village!" she screams, all her anger pouring into the attack even though she knows she's too close and could get caught in the outer layer of the vortex. Cutting the timing extremely fine, she jumps backwards, and her bleeding legs give out as she lands, causing the girl to collapse to her knees. "No…." she moans, putting a hand to the ground in an attempt to stand back up.
Well whether Yuurei decided to take the attack or not, it was clear that he was hit. The nodachi thrust forward as he uses it to lean forward during this moment of weakness. The Genin had managed to cut him and a trickle of blood is noted running from his shoulder. He even uses the time to glance at the blood as it dripped on the ground. "Well then, you can see that I'm mortal." He cackles and tries to lift his blade but fails, just remaining in that stance. "Mitsuo-sama is my goal. I will allow you to leave this village if you give purpose, I cannot sacrifice that your bloodline be left in the hands of others. So the deal is simple. Should you decide to leave this village, you /will/ report to me and I /will/ accompany you unless the Kage himself deems that I must not be there. Is this understood?"
Eiko listens carefully and for a moment it seems that she'll agree peaceably with the Death Hand. After a second though, she suddenly yells, "You sliced me up and cut my favourite dress to shreds to tell me that!?!" In an instant she's up and running towards Yuurei, a fist raised as her staggering gait brings her closer and closer. As she reaches the Death Hand she swings forward, a wild, inefficient and graceless technique that, to be completely honest looks like its fuelled by the last dregs she could scrape from the bottom of her energy reserves. The fist comes forwards aiming straight for her hated foe's mask, but at the last second the hand opens into a slap. A moment after issuing the attack, Eiko collapses again, her head hanging as she realises that she's reached her limit, and her hurting body won't give any more. She can't even bring herself to look up to see if the Death Hand will kill her now or not.
Yuurei was smacked, unable to muster up the strength to counter. He was actually brought off his feet and rolls before pegging the nodachi into the ground and hoists himself up to his full height. The hands leaves the weapons as he starts to clap hands. "Well done, Eiko. You've earned your merit badge." The clapping stops as he reaches for the nodachi and releases it from the ground to shift it over his shoulder. "I'm glad to say that we put an end to this before things get a little tooo out of hand?" He tilts his head to the side. "So, the offer still remains. You will get your own little personal bodyguard if you leave this village, until such a time that the Kage deems me not to. Is this understood?"
Eiko is amazed that Yuurei hasn't killed her, but she's now too sore to think clearly. "I… uhh ok," the girl manages to utter as she begins trembling. Obviously she's too injured to continue on, and she almost falls all the way to the ground. "Now… can you take me to the hospital… please?" the Shirayuki asks politely, mostly because she can't muster the mental capacity to remain spiteful at this point. After all, at least the Death Hand hadn't killed her. After a quick ponderance, another thought drops into Eiko's head. Hadn't the Death Hand just complimented her. Despite everything she'd been through today, the girl felt surprisingly proud of herself.
Yuurei shakes his head as Eiko requests, "I will take you as far as the outside of the Marsh. You will have to find yourself to the hospital." A real blunt comment. "I'm not a nurse. So indeed." He sheaths his nodachi behind his back and makes his way towards the Genin. Forcefully picking her up. "To the end of the Marsh and I will leave you there, be a soldier and find your own way towards the end."