Date: November 20, 2016
Goh and Mushi venture into the ruins of the old shrine, hoping to find what they seek.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"The Twelve Hunt - part 3c: Exploring Ruins"
After their talk Mushi went into a deep sleep as if she was exhausted, and she woke up a bit later than she wanted to. She helped back up camp as fast as possible, and they set off. With the hummingbirds so close to a possible clue it'd seem it'd only take a few minutes to come across the jewel. But minutes stretch into hours, and though they started in the morning it's beginning to turn into late afternoon. Nothing to report. It takes some time before they find a real clue: no clue at all. The place where the jewel is supposed to be has no jewel. In fact, it has no shrine that harbors the jewel. There's nothing, just plain sand. Mushi paces back and forth anxiously. "The shrine should be right around here," she says.
It takes another hour before Ari flits back. "Mushi-chan, I sense something below us," she says. "Some space underneath our feet, harboring a strange power." With that Mushi begins her excavation. It's only five feet down before she finds a stone floor. Or more precisely it's a stone roof, that encloses the temple beneath their very feet. After that it's just work. Mushi uses her earth ninjutsu to help move some of the sand, but it's hard going. It's too loose for her to easily manipulate like she would with packed earth. But they manage to burrow a tunnel all the way down to the base. Twenty feet down they find the entrance, also clogged with sand.
Mushi turns to Goh. She has sand in places she hardly knew she had. And a weary look on her face. "Ari-chan says there's space inside. If this thing is completely clogged with sand…" She huffs. They're standing below the surface, with a pinprick of light where the entrance is above them. And a clogged temple door before them.
"Then this shrine hasn't been built very well." Goh replies, the man looking a bit weary himself. The hours of extended effort had rendered him tired, with legs and arm aching from he excavating they had to perform on top of the walking. Shinobi or not, it was crumbling hard work.
Approaching the door to the shrine, Goh runs a palm over the surface to consider the options. "We don't know what sort of temple or shrine this is." He starts, turning back to Mushi. "Is it a purely religious thing? That used to be filled with priests? Or is this a place for treasure, where they laid booby traps for thieves?" Either way, the door was in such a state that opening it 'normally' was out of the question. It had to be destroyed. Just the question of how had yet to be answered. "Should we just smash it to pieces? Or maybe smash it a bit more… uh, gently?" He frowns, rubbing his chin. "I say we go all out. Just smash it! And face whatever comes at us. If anything does." The pickler flexes his fingers with a grin, forming a fist, before loosening it.
"Traps are survivable," Mushi says. "Getting buried in sand isn't. Maybe we should be a bit more careful." She goes to the door, looking around the edges, as if trying to find some structural weakness. Finally she huffs and says, "You know what? We don't have the time. Goh-kun tie something around your face because you might be about to get a face full of sand." She does the same, wrapping some strips of bandages around her nose and mouth before she'd focus chakra into her arm. The clear chakra would exand till it's a giant-size replica of a hand. Then with a swing she'd hit the door with all her might.
Several things happen at once. The tunnel shakes and sand pours down. The door pops open with a shattering sound, and both a wave of sand, Mushi, and Goh tumble in to darkness. Or so it seems. As Mushi coughs and tries to make sense of the warm blackness below there's a roar. And a brazier near them lights up with fire that needs no fuel. When they move forward the next brazier also lights up. It's a short hallway, or maybe a long one, since it's too dark to see till the end. Mushi rips off the bandages and coughs. "Air must be getting in here…somehow…or something…" she says uncertainly. Since they're not suffocating. "And these braziers must…" Well, she can't explain those.
"Wauuughhh!" Goh had watched with keen intent as Mushi thrashed the door. "My girl!" He cries in support, though it's that cry which follows as sand washes him down and into the abyss. Even with the mask he had on, just using the scarf to protect his nose and mouth, he found a lot of the stuff still got in his mouth and nostrils. When he uncovers himself, spitting various grains of sand onto the ground, he falls into line behind the healer.
"Magic?" He suggest, watching the braziers light up on their own accord. It was a cool effect, if not a little unsettling. "I've got a bad feeling about this." Goh swallows audibly, feeling some drops of sweat roll off his chin. Despite the anxiety though, there are no traps. No weapons hidden in the walls. The hallway just continues, into the darkness.
"Maybe it was built just for priests?" He helpfully suggests with a shrug. "In which case we got lucky. We were due for some luck though, right?"
"That's true," Mushi says, as they continue to walk. Suddenly, the braziers behind them flicker out. If they move too far from one it goes out, so they're left in a pool of light rather than a safe track behind them. Nothing happens as they go down the hallway, and they begin to see picture scrolls on the wall. So tattered and faded they're nothing but scraps of faded parchment. It's been a long time since anyone came in here. They go into various rooms. Living quarters. Storage areas. It's more of a temple than a single shrine. Finally a set of bigger doors stands before them, these ones wooden.
When Mushi pushes open these doors she gasps. The entire room is like a square stadium, with the steps acting as both a walkway and places to sit. At the bottom is a statue. Despite everything being faded and worn with time, the statue is perfectly preserved, that of a woman so life-like she would seem almost real if not for her stone skin. And in her hands nestles a jewel.
They can see this because as soon as they walk in, every brazier lining the wall and descending down has lit up all at once.
Goh sucks in a breath as Mushi opens the doors, eyes settling on the stadia before them. "This place is huge…" He murmurs in shock, before spotting their target. The jewel. Right smack bang in the middle of it all, held by a stone lady. "This…" He starts, lifting a hand to rub his head. "Feels way too easy. Er, I knew we were due for some luck and all, but…" He trails off a little, licking his lips.
"I guess we may as well head down and get it?" Would it really be that easy? With a slow step he begins to descend the stairway that leads right into the heart of the arena, blue eyes constantly glancing to the side, and to the ceiling, to make sure that they aren't setting off any traps. He can't feel anything.
Mushi though, just might be. There's something sinister brewing in this temple. As if something is lingering in the shadows, just waiting for the right moment. But was it real? Or simply her imagination playing tricks on her? The place certainly leaked powerful chakra. As if it comes from the very walls. But that could be anything, really. Perhaps even residual chakra from the battles perhaps once waged here.
"Even if there's trouble let's be so fast it won't catch us!" Mushi says, and she runs at breakneck speed down… the… stairs… but as she nears it she slows down. She starts at a dead run, but then slows to a mild jog, and then to a walk, and halfway down she can hardly step forward. "Something is stopping me the closer I get," she says. "My body is getting too heavy." And sure enough she sits down with a huff. Goh would find the same effect. With each step it'd feel as if weights were attached to him, until he too would not be able to get close. Mushi pants and then closes her eyes, a hand against her heart. She shakes her head. "It's not an illusion I think…" She gazes down at the jewel sitting there in the opening, just waiting to be grabbed, but no one is able to get near it. How many raiders had given up, due to this immense pressure? "Roshi-san didn't mention this."
"Roshi didn't even know if this place was real." Goh gurgles, feeling as if he was wearing weighted clothes all over again. Like Mushi he was struggling, first walking, and then sort of lunging… Then he was on his knees. On all fours. Gasping for air. Funnily enough, this isn't the first time he had experienced this. "Two." He mutters. "Or the Patriarch. Do you think he left this trap? He's the only guy I know that can perform some sort of gravity technique." But if he was here, why didn't he just take the jewel? Goh shakes his head at the thought. That didn't matter.
"So, uh, babe," He groans. "Think you can perform that trick you did last time? Some sort of resist barrier? Antiqueit. If only I had my third eye," He grimaces. "I could just use it to pull the jewel over to us easy as."
"If it was Two wouldn't he also do something like…hmm…sink the shrine? I guess that did happen. Maybe this is his work." She draws out a kunai and chucks it right at the statue. It flies straight for a foot before its trajectory is tilted downwards and it clatters well short of its target. The statue is a woman with flowing robes and hair, and her hand clutching the jewel. "Seems like everything fails," she says. So she takes his advice, enshrouding herself in chakra. It helps a little. She makes it further down, till she's yards from the statue. But the chakra shell around her is literally cracking under pure pressure. By the end she's literally crawling. At the statue she drags herself up, gripping the woman's knees, before grabbing the jewel.
Instantly, the pressure is gone. Mushi straightens up triumphantly with the jewel. She grins at Goh. "I guess it was just the temple's defense," she says. "Maybe Two doesn't know about it." The statue's fingers grip nothing but air, and she looks angry at the theft of her jewel. Wait…angry. Despite being in the same position the statue's beautiful, serene face has turned to an ugly scowl. Mushi doesn't seem to have noticed. She's walking up the steps still panting when the statue moves at a blinding speed and nails her from behind. Mushi falls forward and hits her head badly against the stone, so that she's dazed. The statue lets out a scream of fury, one so terrible it'd shake the walls and make the ears bleed…literally. It doesn't help Mushi's cause, and Goh would feel horribly dizzy.
Goh is up on his feet as soon as the pressure is relieved, a fist raised to the air in triumph. "Way to go, hun! You killed it!" The man beams with pride. Yeah, that was HIS girl. "Waiwatch!" ZOOM. As he hadn't faced away yet, the pickler had noticed the statue change to a scowl. But the thing had moved so fast he had zero time to warn her. "So fast—" He mutters, wincing as the scream radiates from her.
Without even performing a seal, Goh spews forth a steady stream of fire. It's narrow as it escapes his lips, but rapidly expands. It shoots out to combat the sound and vibrations, seemingly protecting himself from harm. As he does this, he slaps palms together and flares his nostrils — narrowing his eyes. "OOOUAARRRGHHH!" He cries, volume intensifying as he continues to defend himself with flame. The fire intensifies, and actually pushes back to the statue! Hoping to have it wash over her and bring her down to rubble.
"Mushi!" He cries out, the defence and attack finally ending. "You okay?" She did get hit pretty hard in the back of the head. And then again on the stone.
Even dazed Mushi manages to roll out of the way a bit but she's still hit by the shockwave and goes tumbling. The jewel falls away, down between the steps. This time she doesn't get up and just lays there limply. Out. The statue advances on her, only to look up and notice the huge fireball coming for her. She's knocked back. The fireball leaves no scorch marks on the stone, but there are a few cracks on her arm. She lets out another cry of fury, this one more from anger, and then dashes in to slash at Goh, with hands that have turned into razor sharp claws. Shrieking with fury. Like an angel that has turned into a harpy.
"MUSHIII!" Goh screams, watching as his lover is struck directly by the attack and rendered unconscious. "Wreck it—!" The pickler dodges and ducks his way around the stone woman, proving to be too elusive for her sword hands. Though the first strike is a bit closer than he'd like! It went far enough to cut open the threads he wears on his torso. The third blow is defended via a blocking motion, Goh using the basics of his martial arts skills to stop the sword blow before it manages to strike him.
With a grunt he presses on the counter-offensive, hoping to land a solid kick to the statue to put some distance between them, before spitting out some quick-as-a-flash lightning needles. Pewpew!
In the mean-time he shapes around to the stairs, hoping to catch a look at that jewell at of the corner of his eye.
The statue bends with a litheness that couldn't possibly come from stone, ducking around Goh's attack. But the lightning needles hit her, and instead of sizzling make sounds like a pick being hammered into stone. She falls back with a scream and lands on the ground much as Mushi had. There's a loud crack, as if something deep and shattering had occurred, before the statue goes still. Once again with that serene face, and in her initial position. But with cracks up and down her body.
The jewel is still there, and up close it's not bright. It's a black that drinks in the light. Like a shard of darkness, both deadly and ominously beautiful.
Goh is panting loudly at this point, watching as the demon statue chick goes down screaming. Screaming. Why did they all have to be screaming like that? Stuff of nightmares! Regardless, he moves to pick up the stone first, though recoils at the icy sensation. With a frown he grabs his long scarf, and picking it up via the protection of that, he plumps it into his pack. "I'm having bad flashbacks about the Fire Stone." He mutters to himself, before crouching down near Mushi. Delicately picking her up, the pickler will hold her in a cradling motion, with her limp head rested on his collar bone.
"Time to jet." And with this he makes his leave. It's not done with the same trepidation as the entry. Nope. It's at full throttle, as Goh runs as fast as he can out of the temple. Through the very same halls that they walked through just before.
Right before they leave there'd be a sound of grating stone behind Goh. And if he looked back the statue would be in its same place, her hands wrapped around a jewel that is no longer there. There are no cracks on her. Her face is once more serene and beautiful. In the hallway the braziers would have the same flickering effect, turning on and off as he past them. Fortunately the tunnel is still intact, though as soon as he managed to get to the surface it'd start to collapse. And Mushi, limp and helpless in her arms, opens her eyes that are surprisingly awake and clear. As if she'd been…faking it!?! She smiles up at Goh. "My hero," she says. Once she was on her two feet she'd laugh and say, "How could I let you face Two if you can't beat one temple guardian?" Yup, she'd been playing opossum.
Is pretty much the face that Goh makes, who just stares at her. "You FAKED it?! Mushi, I thought you were seriously hurt! Just, what — ARR!" The pickler throws up into the air, before DIVING at Mushi! Trying to pin her down and into the sand in a tackle, where he will try to tickle her to DEATH. Fingers will poke and rub, pry and irritate.
Whether successful or not, he will eventually look back to the ruin. Which is now caved in even more. "I feel sort of bad about the guardian though. I mean, it was just protecting its own thing, right? And now the whole thing fell down on it." Pause. "Not that I'll ever go back down there ever again to help her out or anything. Now come on! Let's put this jewel into the pot and see what happens." Goh begins to get his jewel out from his pack, unfurling the scarf from around its icy touch.
Mushi is taken by surprise and tickled for a few minutes, laughing and giggling. Before she'd use brute force to turn the tables and tickle Goh back. Yep, she's in perfect health. Or almost. There's a bruise forming on her brow that she easily heals. She reaches out to take the jewel and flinches in surprise at the cold. She holds the jewel, weighing it in her palm, and a few minutes later they're sitting in a shadier area fitting the jewel into the pot. The change is immediate. The earthen pot changes into the same lusterless, black material as the jewel. She smiles. "This ought to make it easier," she says.
But it dosen't. The tornado is worse than ever, and Mushi can't even control it to seal the feather she laid out. It takes all afternoon for her to get some control of it, and once she does the feather is sealed up fully. "It's more powerful," Mushi says, completely drained. And this time she's /completely/ drained, not only out of chakra, but most of her stamina. She passes out where she is, and falls into a deep sleep.