Date: January 9, 2011
Those searching for Rinako scale the mountain, only to be buried inside, and meet a most unusual host!
"Paradise Lost, Part II: Salvation"
Mother Island, Land of the Sea
The trek up the mountain passes is peaceful, serene. Were it not for the earthquake which had shattered the main town of Mother Island so recently, and the lack of bird, insect, and animal noise, it might even have been idyllic. The paths were relatively clear about halfway up, before turning into little more than game trails followed by the occasional wild pig. Other than the rather rare boar or sow, or stray dog or cat, there wasn't any other animals on this island that hadn't already been hunted to extinction for food decades ago. Even the dogs, cats, and pigs had been brought here, not being part of the natural ecosystem. The trails were thin, hard to decipher, perhaps even requiring the group to beat their way through brush and bramble in some places where a human simply could not fit. Luckily, one who was skilled in hunting was with the group to prevent them from getting turned around.
And finally, after several hours of climbing, the treeline is broken, more or less, giving way to rocky ground and an expansive view of the islands. Judging from the smoke billowing up from the towns dotting the various isles, which appeared as tiny wisps at this distance, the devastating quake had not been localized to this island alone. Were it not for the signs of burning, it would have been quite the beautiful view indeed.
Not too far from where the trees break is the mouth of a cave, large and wide enough to accomodate many humans abreast. A pair of statues, thirty feet tall each, 'guard' then entryway, stone sentinals staring resolutely with shield and spear out over the rest of the lower isle. The spear of one had snapped off, and the shield, and face, of the other had been partially eroded away. Beyond them is near-darkness, a portal leading further into the earth, showing no signs of ending. Of course, with the light fading to nothingness just a few feet into the entrance, the back wall could be a few feet away, or dozens, or even miles! A pair of lizards seem to have made a nest in a crack where the floor meets the wall, but other than this, no signs of life show.
The sun is already beginning to make it's descent across the sky, having reached it's peak and moving to sink below the horizon.
It never fails. You take a few extra days of vacation to spend some all-too-rare time with your parents, and you arrive back to learn that disaster has struck in your absence. -.- Shemri returned to Sunagakure to be informed of Rinako's disappearance and her own orders to assist in tracking her down. Well, at least she was already packed. e.e Shemri headed out after her team-mates post-haste, and after arriving on Mother Island, was soon able to find out where they were headed. Shiikaa picked up the trail shortly after they left town, and they eventually caught up with the team. Yay!
Just in time too, it seems like. It's not often that Shemri finds use for the woodlore she learned as a child nowadays, but this is one of those cases. She and Shiikaa prowl through the brush almost as though they both were beasts, seeking out the trail…to what? That's the tricky part, since you never know where a given trail might lead, but it seems like the place they're looking for is sort of important, so the local pathways should hopefully be aligned with it in general.
And it seems they do lead to something…who knows whether it's what they're looking for, but it's something. Statues are a pretty good sign of Important Stuffs Goes On Here. Shemri's attention is called away from the statues, though, by a meow from Shiikaa. She walks over to the cave entrance to see what he wants, then turns around and beckons. "Hoi, Ruri-san." Shemri crouches down and indicates some scuffs in the dirt. "Put your foot here and see if it matches."
Ruri wasn't in Sunagakure for most of the siege, so she didn't get to experience the terrifying earthquakes. Suffice to say, the closest thing to an earthquake she has ever experienced is her sister snoring. Thus, when that big one hit Mother Island, along with a tidal wave, she was not really sure how to react. That much earth moving in such an unnatural manner, all at once, was frightening. But she got over it, and did her best to help organize some rescue efforts, or at least to pull whatever survivors she could find to safety. Few things can stop Ruri cold based on fear alone. And natural disasters isn't one of those things.
Overall, however, she didn't have the time or the interest in saving everyone or in rebuilding the village or any of that. She had to find her sister. That was all that really mattered, in the long run. So after hiking up the mountain for an ass-long time, the group arrives at the cave. They are possibly a bit dirty, likely scratched up from brambles, but overall they are not as tired as one might imagine. Sure, they're used to living in the desert, but that just means they're used to pushing on at a gradual, non-stop pace that eats up the miles without eating up their stamina.
"…Huh?" Ruri lets out briefly as she pulls her left eye away from the statues she was inspecting dubiously. "Ah." The raven-haired woman sees the scuff marks (sort of) and does as instructed. "Just so you know, Rinako has huge feet. There is no way we're the same size. She is like Bigfoot with those size bajillionty shoes of hers." Despite Ruri's continued protests about similarities in foot-sizes, if that is Rinako's footprint or bootmark or anything else, it will match Ruri's.
With Pharaoh still clinging to her back like some kind of horrible, long-dead spider monkey, Kara follows along after everyone else. She tries to locate Rinako's Chakra twice more via Pharaoh's sensor along the way, but fails both times. Too much 'interference'. Very strange that such an unassuming island would have crazy 'Chakra Static'. Which lends even further credence to her theory! "See? See now? First there's all this interference to keep us from finding Rinako. Then there's an earthquake just as we find out where she was seen last! This is clearly the work of the body-stealing guy — or guys. There might be more than one of them. They just want to conceal their presence so we can't find Rinako-chan in time! So lets hurry!"
Hurrying was not in the game plan, however. One does not 'hurry' up a mountain side, let alone through brambles and who-knows-what-else that might be in the way. At the entrance to the cave, Kara examines the statues as Shemri and Ruri chat over by some dirt. "Is this really the top? There's nowhere else that Rinako-chan could be?" Caves are not somewhere Kara wants to go inside of right after an earthquake. Being buried alive is not at the top of her priority list.
Hone Nai, unlike some people, WAS present for the earthquake portion of the Siege of Sunagakure. It was annoying. There is little more than that which can be said of the occurrence, from Nai's point of view. The disruption to his daily routine was unpleasant, and the physical impact on his book collection was extremely undesirable. 'At least,' he had told himself at the time, 'I learned the lesson of strapping the books into the shelves and securing the bookcases properly, in the event of a repeat performance.'
And here was another earthquake. Not quite as bad as the one back home, because this one was taking place in a village he has no connection to and no personal belongings within. Also, his schedule is already completely ruined on account of this mission. So, nothing lost there. Tracking Rinako was not a task that the recordskeeper was up to, skill-wise. If the elder of the Rurohashi sisters had been INJURED, that would be ONE thing. But nothing he could detect so far indicated she had been harmed — or at least, she was not bleeding within range of his sense of smell or taste.
While the others loiter by the cave entrance, Nai hangs back for a short time, before walking forward and heading into the cave without being instructed to and without waiting for anyone else. Out of those present, he is the least likely to be negatively impact by being buried under dozens or hundreds or thousands of tons of dirt and/or stone.
While Nai's nightvision is exceptional, he is mainly navigating by other senses he has developed in tandem with his Earth Release jutsu. If he detects and traps, or pitfalls, or similar, he will call back to the others.
The younger Rurohashi's foot does indeed match the faded marks in the sand made by a sandal. There may be slight variations or differences in the types of footwear, but it's obvious that the size is correct. A few lead in, a few lead out, and it's impossible to tell which way was the most recent, as the bearer of those footprints had obviously been to this location several times. No other signs of habitation can be found, and no other footprints lead into or out of this area. None by humans, at least. A few pigs and at least one dog had passed by here recently.
Hone Nai's initial inspection of the cavern would reveal nothing out of the ordinary. Rough-hewn rock, naturally carved by some volcanic event thousands of years ago, are all that he gets to see. But he does discover that the cave apparently goes on for quite some distance into the mountainface. This is no simple depression or shrine, and other than the statues outside, there is nothing to indicate habitation. The air is damp and cool, as one might expect from a subterranean, shadowed place, and the occasional draft of air comes from within.
The tunnel leads further in, curving gentle, heading in a general, slight downwards angle. The floor of the cave, carved however long ago, is rough and sharp, apt to slice into the feet of those without protective footwear.
Shemri scans the ground and nods slowly. "Ah. Aha. It seems Rinako-san has been coming and going in this place quite a bit. Likely enough she is down there right now." Shemri stands up and rubs her chin. "We could go down and look for her…or we could wait here for her to pass this way again. Or we might split up to do both." Shemri blinks, then turns to look at Shiikaa. After a moment, she frowns. "Shiikaa says that the stones are not restful. He is reluctant to go beneath them. I am certain he will brave it if we must, but…" Shemri looks to Ruri. "What shall we do?"
Ruri shrugs. "Shiikaa can stay here then. But if Rinako is down there, that's where I'm going." She then turns to tell Kara and Nai the decision—"Where's Nai-san?" Indeed, Nai is nowhere to be seen. Frowning, Ruri looks behind her, into the cave. "…Oh my god, did he just run in!?" Let us all hope that Nai's middle name is not secretly 'Jenkins'. Stomping to the entrance of the cave, Ruri calls out, "Nai-san!" Whether she gets an answer or not, she enters the cave as well, since she was going to go in anyway.
As soon as she finds Nai in the darkness, she'd grab at him and say, "I know you spend most of your time behind a desk, but for future reference, on a mission one should generally move as a unit, rather than wandering off without telling anyone!" When she's done lecturing the likely much-older ninja, she then pauses for five whole seconds and says, "Okay, now we can go." Calling over her shoulder to Kara, Ruri says, "If you're staying out, then guard our rear. If you're coming in, get your butts in here!" She then pops a flare from her tool pouch, casting a bright green glow upon the walls, floor, and ceiling.
Kara turns away from the statue when Ruri asks where Nai is. "…Isn't he with you?" she replies. Then Ruri locates the recordskeeper inside the cave and Kara sighs as she reluctantly enters the dark hole in the ground as well. "I better not die down there. I swear, I better not! If this dumb static weren't around I could try to spot Rinako from here, and see if she's >even down there in the first place<. Hmm… Maybe I could have Pharaoh-kun tunnel down and check ahead of us? Or is the ground mostly stone?"
She kneels down to examine the floor of the cave and finds it to be solid stone, and sharp. "…Scratch that idea." The light from Ruri's flare gives an indication that they are going to be travelling down for awhile.
After taking stock of the area, Nai is not certain, but it seems to him as though some of the air drafts in this cave are different… He starts to pull down the bandages over the lower-half of his face, so he can make sure about the temperature but then… "Hm?" Ruri comes up behind him, yelling and grabbing at him. He would rather not be touched, so he simply backs away and rasps, "My apologies, Ruri-san. I will keep that in mind in the future. Every second counts, however, and your sister's life may be in danger. If we stand around outside the cave discussing whether to go in or not when we really have no other option, then that MAY be a handfull of seconds less that Rinako-san has to live." He bows to Ruri, and then stays out of the way as she lights her flare.
"I noticed that not all of the drafts in here are cold. Some are much warmer than natural air should be — at least at this elevation. This may indicate artificial heating, volcanic activity, or even some sort of complex updraft from an end-point to this cavern located somewhere else." He leaves unsaid the possibility there is a very large animal dwelling down there. If Shiikaa did not smell anything, then it is likely there is nothing to detect.
"I will follow you, Ruri-san," Nai says as he moves into position behind Team 01's leader, as Kara files in behind him.
The sickly-green color only manages to highlight the unseen that everyone had expected to be there. Other than perhaps the group's worries of a cave-in, there is no sense of forboding, no picturesque scene of horror waiting for something awful and evil to leap out of the darkness at them. Dark volcanic rock covers the walls, ceiling, and floor, making it hard to touch anything with bare skin without worry of getting cut. The overhead is about eighteen feet off of the ground, barring some sections bearing stalactites, and the rare column every now and then where a stalactite and stalagmite met to form a single piece of mineral-rock. There are tiny bits of rock and rubble, as if an overhang or such had been smashed, or a rock shorn loose, some old, some relatively new, perhaps caused by the latest seismic event.
As Nai says, every third or fourth draft that sweeps through the caves is warmer than the others, though nowhere near what one would call 'hot'. The trip into the dark abyss is relatively simple enough for three women and a psuedo-undead male, with a feline guarding the entrance. The twists are few and far between, and no offshoots, other than minor depressions of a few feet, that a fully-grown human could fit through can be seen. The only distressing signs would be the occasional shifting of rocks that should otherwise not be moving, the shaking of dust from the stone ceiling, and the tiny clicking noises of falling pebbles.
But the small tremors sifting gently through the cave are nothing compared to the shattering earthquake from earlier in the day. Perhaps signs of volcanic activity as the male of the group had suggested?
Eventually, after many minutes of walking, the group emerges from the relatively 'small' cave tunnel, and enters a vast chasm. The ceiling slips away into darkness, beyond the meager reach of a flare. The walls too vanish beyond the reach of the light source, as if they had walked out of the tunnel and into a great dark void, with blackness for a sky and where eternal night reigns.
And then comes a deep rumbling sound, followed by the noise of many falling rocks, the sound of stone scraping against something not-quite-stone, but equally as hard. Something ahead of them, in the darkness beyond the light, that causes pebbles to shake underfoot and tremors to fall. Or perhaps that is NOT the source of the tremors!
The ground begins shaking, and not in a gentle shifting manner, either. As violently as it had when the village had been decimated, the earth bucks and heaves, huge stones dislodging from otherwise secure locations. The sound of collapsing stone comes from back within the passage, as a could of dust, like fire from an explosion, comes spewing out to obscure what little light there was. From overhead in the night beyond the flare comes the sund of rocks slamming into something thirty or more feet overhead, tumbling off to land on different sides of the group, boulders the size of horses smashing into the volcanic floor. It seems to take forever for the ground to still, and an inspection behind would reveal a thick wall of fallen earth and stone where once a passage had been.
A deep blast of warm air sweeps over the group, followed by an inhumanely deep rumbling sound approaching the earthquake-version of a 'hmm'.
Shemri sighs through her nose as the party gets stretched out. She glances down at Shiikaa. "It shall only take one to remain here and watch for Rinako-san. Wait for us." With that, Shemri dashes into the cave to catch up with the rest of the group.
Inside the cave, Shemri is perhaps a bit more comfortable than other members of the group. Underground isn't exactly her natural habitat, but she can see quite easily by the flare's flickering light, and she is confident that she can hear any approaching dangers a long way off through the echoing tunnels. Nevertheless, even Shemri finds the gigantic cavern at which they arrive a bit…exposed. "Ah. Aha. This could take quite some time to explore," she murmurs."
It looks as though time may be something our heroes just ran out of, though. After the first shock of the new earthquake, Shemri glues her feet to the ground with chakra, hoping that the stones beneath them won't be among those violently displaced. o.O; Then comes the dust, choking everything and making sight useless. DX A few times Shemri hears a crack from directly above and is about to shout to the others to move, but then she hears more clacking, nearer, that indicates what fell has been shunted aside. Could they be under some particularly strong overhang, umbrella'd from the rockfall by sheer luck?
Finally the shaking quiets down. Shemri slowly rises from her crouch into a regular standing position. She's about to ask how everybody else is, when the warm wind sweeps over and the strange sound reverberates with it. That…that was something alive, Shemri is sure, although nothing she's very familiar with. A couple things click together in her head, and she makes a slow bow in the direction the air came from. "Many thanks, great one," Shemri says, in a volume approaching a shout. "If we have come unbidden into your abode, we apologize."
Nai can see quite clearly what is protecting them. As a mammoth beetle rises up from the depths and shields the group with one extended limb, Nai simply stands and waits. There is little else he can do. He could save himself, certainly, but that would not accomplish much in the long run. It would merely make him be seen as a traitor to Kokuoukabutomushi if he were to return.
Shemri's yelling makes Nai tilt his head away. Quieter than she, the extremely thin male in his baggy clothes, with cloak, hood, etc. rasps, "Yelling may not be necessary, Shemri-san, and may be more offensive to Kokuoukabutomushi-sama than our presence here, given we have been saved from being crushed to death only through his actions. If it was desired that we come to harm, he could have simply watched." Nai then bows to the 'Guardian Spirit'. He is ordinarily not the talkative type. He is also not a diplomat or an interpreter or anything else. But as possibly the only person present who can see the enormous rhinocerous beetle looming over them, he feels it prudent to show that they are aware of the athropod's exact location, even in the darkness.
"We offer our gratitude for deigning to protect us. Apologies are in order for asking more of you, but we have come seeking a friend and ally — and the sister of one of our number." He indicates Ruri with one hand. "Her name is Rurohashi Rinako, though I know not what name she may be known by to you. Please, if she has passed through here and is still among the living, we request only that we be given directions to her location. We intend no harm and wish not to trespass further. Our only desire is to rejoin our missing friend." Nai uses the term 'friendly' loosely in the case of himself, but for the others it is surely appropriate.
A second earthquake. Great. And she's underground this time, so it's even worse. Ruri does similarly to Shemri and tries to maintain her grip on the ground with Chakra, but she doesn't stand in place, and tries to find a way to get back to safety. All the dust in the air makes navigation impossible, however, so she decides to not risk falling off into some deep abyss and splattering on jagged rocks several hours from now.
This turns out to be a wise decision, because apparently they are being shielded by… A 'guardian spirit'? What? "Nai-san…" she starts, but decides to just keep quiet. She wants to ask who Shemri and Nai are talking to, because she doesn't believe in magic spirits, but if there IS something here she also doesn't want to offend it or reveal she is clueless about its nature and identity.
When Nai indicates her, she sighs a bit. They could have kept such information to themselves and waited to find out what this Kababababwhatever WANTS first.
Kara stays down and stays quiet. Something is shielding them, and when Shemri and Nai reveal it is an intelligent being, she figures it would be wise to just not draw attention to herself. So she crouches down behind Shemri and waits to see who gets his or her head bitten off first. That will be the person to stay away from until she can find a way to safety for the survivors!
"Hmmmmmm…" The words from the darkness are slow, methodical, shaking loose a bit more dust from the ceiling. They seem to come in slow motion, as if the one speaking them had all the time in the world, imparting a sense of age and timelessness, much like the stones around them. "It has been a long time since I have had so many visitors. I would not like to see them crushed before we have even had a chance to speak. How very bad of a host that would make me!"
The low throated chuckling manages to disturb a few more stones, about the size of a human head, which come crashing down from the roof here and there! A bright orange glow erupts in the chamber, enough to illuminate the group and at least SOME of what was addressing them, anyway. The huge beetle, the size of a small island, hovers somewhat before them, half-in, half-out of a huge chasm a few hundred feet in front of the group. Even WITH the added illumination, which seems to be coming from a sphere of light six feet in diameter on the tip of the rhinocerous beetle's horn, the ceiling and walls of the chamber fail to illuminate, proving just how large this place really was.
"Mm-hmm, that explains much about why you would come here. Rinako-chan's sister, you say? Come now, step forward." Three of the colossal insect's six legs are out of the chasm, prompting it to lean forward towards the indicated member of the group whether she wants to step forward or not! As the illumination approaches, along with Kakuoukabutomushi's head, the eyes may need to be shielded from it's radiance after becoming accustomed to the dark. "Yes, yes, she mentioned you might be coming along eventually. She is not here at the moment. Hasn't been in almost two days. I am getting a bit worried."
Each time an enormous, insectoid claw strikes the ground, it causes a minor rumble and small avalanche of dust from the ceiling. He begins to slowly extricate himself from the huge fissure, each breath he takes a blast of warm air strong enough to sway clothing and hair. "Yes, you must be, oh what was it… Ruri. A spirited young woman your sister is. Perhaps I have been content to do too little while she toiled. Come, come. We shall see about getting you out of here. Beneath the earth is no place for soft, squishy things. I am Kokuoukabutomushi, as your friend has probably told you. You all have names, do you not?"
Shemri raises her eyebrows as the dust settles and illumination is provided. She's not totally unfamiliar with giant critters--Rinako herself occasionally turns into that monster turtle, after all--but she didn't know precisely what /kind/ of critter to expect, and…well, it's ironic, isn't it, being bug-sized to a bug. X) It's a good thing Shiikaa remained outside; he's been known to snack on beetles, and who knows how much this being hears about its tiny relatives. c.c When an appropriate moment arrives for her to speak, Shemri gives another bow. "I am Maneshi Shemri. I am honored to meet you, Kokuoukabutomushi-san." Shemri mentally rehearses that name in the hopes that she'll be able to call it up later when needed. c.c
Nai remains bowed throughout the conversation with Kokuoukabutomushi. A giant beetle. Some beetles are carrion-eaters, while others are meat-eating predators, others are vegetation-eating parasites, and still others are insectivores, or feed on nectar. There are many kinds of beetles. Scarabs, for instance, are well-known to Nai. He caught and ate all the beetles he could find at one point, in an attempt to stave off the starvation he was suffering…
A shiver would likely have gone through Nai if he had nerves and muscles enough to react to the terrible memories. Instead he remains perfectly rigid and still in his bent-forward position. He wonders for a moment if the handfull of insects and parasites living in his mouth and stomach are able to communicate with Kokuoukabutomushi, or if the great beetle can smell the decay that is present all over his body. He uses various scented herbs and regular salt-baths, among other things, to both mask his smell and to wipe clean any particularly nasty bits of flesh. But will that be enough? Can a creature like this detect it even still?
Nai wonders, until Kokuoukabutomushi comes closer after stating he has no desire to harm them. Then he straightens slowly and stands normally, except for a slight hunch to his back that is part of his normal posture in the guise of 'Nai'. "The name that I am known by to Rinako-san and my companions is Hone Nai. It is a honor to meet you, Kokuoukabutomushi-sama."
Ruri does not want to step closer to the beetle. Especially after seeing how big it is. Still, she does her best not to show her concern (or fear) of the giant creature, and just does as instructed. She assumes that if she is killed then her comrades will be quick to avenge her. Stepping forward, she looks up at the Kabbawobbufett and says, "Yeah, that's me. Rurohashi Ruri. So Rinako has been here, but you haven't seen her in two days… And neither has anyone down in that village either." She considers this information while squinting at the illumination on the horn.
She is not as educated as Nai. Most of her knowledge has been culled from whatever books she could find, rather than actual study or being taught. Thus, while she is full of trivia, science facts, and so forth, she is no expert. She has no clue how the horn is glowing on this… This… "Hey, I mean no disrespect, but I can't even say your name. Can I just call you 'Boss Beetle'? If not, then sorry for asking." Depending on the answer she either just doesn't use a name or uses the nickname 'Boss Beetle', when she asks her next question. "Those earthquakes… They aren't limited to just this island, and there was one when we entered this cave. I'm guessing you're not causing them, so… Do you know what is? I get the feeling that Nee-chan is trying to find a way to stop them. I didn't know why before—And actually, I still don't. But you seem to be friends with her, so I'll assume that's part of the reason. So if my sister thinks this is a worthwhile goal… Then I trust her 100%. And I am willing to offer whatever aid this team can give."
Well, that went over better than Kara had assumed. The giant rhinocerous beetle sounds friendly and is acting friendly, so she can only assume he is friendly! Popping up from behind Shemri suddenly, Kara steps forward also and bows as she says, "Nice to meet you, Kokuoukabutomushi-sama! Maybe we can chat later about how and why Rinako came here, and why she didn't inform any of us. But, like Ruri-chan said, I think right now we need to both find her and put a stop to the earthquakes. The damage to the village below and other places has been pretty awful, and I think you'd rather the people don't get wiped off the face of the planet, right?"
Pharaoh chatters his teeth as he continues hanging on her back. "…Oh, err, right. Unless they have failed to provide proper worship and sacrifices and so forth, in which case you might want them to be punished. To which I say, 'We are just passing through, please don't take it out on us.'"
"Shemri, hmm? Mmm… Nai? Mmm…" The enormous beetle repeats each name as if trying to very hard to memorize them and squeeze the information into his brain. Most insects had brains that weren't quite brains, little more than nerve clusters, but there was no telling just how ancient one this large was, nor how much lore could have been stored over the long passages of eras. "Kara? Mmm…"
The newly-dubbed 'Boss Beetle' begins to turn its bulk about, lifting his forelimbs to place them on the wall. Heaving up, dislocating rocks larger than a human in the process, the enormous creature begins to climb up the wall of the cavern, taking his illumination with him! "I suppose not, if I may call you 'Tiny Human'. You all are capable of climbing like Rinako-chan, yes?" He doesn't quite wait for an answer as his bulk continues on up the wall, heading towards the ceiling of the near-mild-wide chamber.
"Sacrifices? No, no. I have not asked anything of the people of these islands in many a year. Oh, a century ago? Two? It matters not. Take cover, children, this may get… noisy." The gargantuan insect begins to rear back a huge arm as he nears the ceiling, continuing chatting as if excavating a way out of a cave were the most normal thing in the world. Perhaps for him it was. "Rinako-chan has been helping us investigate the cause of these earthquakes and strange weather, as well as this odd… interference in the air. It prevents me from communicating effectively with my children. I have my suspicions that those who dwell on the island have drawn the ire of something terrible and ancient, something from beneath the waves."
The claw smashes into the stony roof, breaking through, causing yet another small avalanche of lethal debris to rain down on anyone foolish enough to stand directly below it. Yet, once the dust, rubble, and noise clears, a shaft of sunlight pierces through into the darkness. Kokuoukabutomushi rears back his might leg once again, continuing as if the noise weren't at all deafening. "Which is where your friend comes in. She, too, has something in her terrible and ancient from beneath the waves. Oh, perhaps not as terrible. But she can go where we cannot. We should search the waters for her. I do not wish harm to befall Rinako-chan for trying to help us save these foolish islanders."
The arm slams into the stone again, widening the hole further, allowing more light into the dormant volcano.
Shemri wastes no time following after the giant beetle. "Ah. Aha. That is troublesome," she remarks. "We are hardly any better suited to work beneath the water. I do not know if we shall be able to help Rinako-san greatly in this effort." Helping out folks in need 'cause it's the right thing to do comes more naturally to Shemri than it does to Ruri. She /expects/ to be duly compensated, but she usually doesn't think about it much until the job's done, and it doesn't occur to her to wonder what Rinako's motives for this venture are either. "Still, we must go forth and see what we /can/ do. Especially if Rinako-san is in trouble now."
Nai does not respond to anything said. Even amongst allies, he feels like an outsider. Getting too friendly with anyone would simply be a bad idea. There is no way that any friendship where he is involved can end well. Not even with that boy he met in the desert. He may have been willing to accept Nai for who and what he was… But how would Nai feel when the inevitable happened? It is better to avoid the hurt completely. So he stands where he is, waits for everyone else to leap up the cavern walls as directed, and then calls out, "I will go collect your feline companion, Shemri-san, and we will then meet you outside whenever you emerge."
Nai then steps back towards the rubble blocking the cavern entrance, and seamlessly merges with the rocks, before vanishing into the mountain-side. He will make his way back up the tunnel and let Shiikaa know what happened. If the cat can even understand him. If not, he can just pick the creature up and carry him.
Ruri looks up at the giant beetle as he says he will call Ruri 'Tiny Human'. Ruri did not say anything about size. She just wanted to refer to Kabuououououowhatever as 'Boss'. That is a POSITIVE title! Not to mention HER name is only two syllables. How hard is it to say 'Ruri'!? And yet, Ruri's response as she frowns up at Kabungawunga is not annoyance or anger or any of the perhaps expected responses. Instead she just… Smirks. "Sure, Boss Beetle. You can call me that if you want." Then she leaps up onto a wall and from there to a stalactite, and then from there to somewhere else, etc. 'If Nee-chan has gone out of her way to help this beetle and be friends with him… That's all the endorsement needed. I'll help however I can.'
"So about this ancient evil from beneath the waves…" she starts, only to be drowned out by the hammering on stone. She claps her hands to her ears and her good humor dies instantly. She scowls into the darkness as she is rocked by the sound waves and tremors of massive amounts of stone being violently shifted. 'Nee-chan… You are going to have a LOT of explaining to do.'
Kara nods. "Yes, Rinako-chan has that something inside of her… Though I'm not sure how you noticed it. Did she show up in turtle form or something? I didn't even know until relatively recently what exactly that thing was. I always just assumed it was some kind of special jutsu or Kekkei Genkai. To find out it is actually… >That< thing… Well, I'm just glad that Rinako-chan can use it for something positive."
As she starts to follow after everyone else, Nai takes his leave. She turns to watch in amazement as he just merges with the rocks and vanishes. She hadn't known he could do that. "Uhh… Okay, thanks? How is he going to know where we'll come out, though? I mean, is there another tunnel that we can—" *KRAKOOM!*
Kara plugs her ears and tries to hum to drown out the noise.
"Ah, yes. Rinako-chan did mention that none of you were suited to aquatic environs. She inferred quite the opposite! To be expected from a desert peoples. This is why none of you were asked to brave the dangers. But worry not about my knowledge. I have not spied purposefully upon your newfound villages, nor shall I use such information as I do have against your home. We simply have eyes and ears everywhere, in place humans do not think to look." The hole is larger now, causing the great 'boss beetle' to reposition himself directly over it, holding onto the stone wall with two legs, bracing the other four claws around the rim of the newly-made opening. The disappearance of Nai seems to have gone unnoticed so far! But then, Kokuoukabutomushi's back had been to him as he'd departed.
"Yes, yes, this terrible creature that now threatens the land. We believe the problem started with over-fishing…" With a terrible rending sound, the bug strains at the opening, the noise of rock sundering and near-exploding shaking the cavern, sending up a plume of dust from the mountaintop that can be seen even from the other islands. When it clears, the whole is large enough even for the great rhino-beetle to maneuver through, and he begins to do so, emerging into the sunlight.
One of Kokuoukabutomushi's forelimbs points over the treeline, towards the ocean beyond the harbor. "Out there is where your friend and sister has gone. In search of the Leviathan, 'not to be known by any other name by mortal men, for none shall see him and live'. Something has drawn this evil here. All we know for certain is that strange creatures have been sighted at sea, dragging ships and men to watery depths, typhoons rage out of season, and an earth that should be calm trembles in terror. I fear that Rinako-chan may have found exactly what we search for, and has been prevented to return. Finding her is a priority."
The gargantuan creature's red eyes turn back upon the humans in its company. "Move swiftly, and bring her back to shore should you find her. Her health is of great import, but so too will be any information she may carry."