Date: August 31, 2013
An unknown predator has been leaving behind ravaged bodies of the wildlife in the outskirts of the Land of Fire. A team was sent to investigate and kill it before it could bring harm to a human populace. But an unexpected opponent arose to bar them from finding the answers that they sought.
The chuunin exams may be underway, but that doesn't mean the village can forget all other matters of state. And certainly not ones that could also be called one a matter of security. There's been a rash of horridly violent massacres in the land of fire, as of late. Not of the human populace, but of the animal kingdom. Bodies of creatures both big and small, torn apart, eviscerated and ravaged in other brutal ways and for no apparent reason.
No people have yet been effected and it has all taken place a distance away from most Land of Fire villages, Konohagakure included, but it has a lot of people wary. And there's no telling how long before this new predator's hunting grounds will expand. So the unique tracks it's left behind, small circular indents, have been followed and they've lead… here.
A forested area very near the Miati forest that spans part of the Land of Fire's border. The trees stand tall and thick, leaves green and lush in the hold of this year's spring. It's cool on the forest floor, despite the sun sitting high overhead, as the number of trees leave it well shaded. And it leaves the cave entrance lying in darkness. The cave entrance in the sudden, high hill that the tracks had suddenly stopped a mere 49 feet from.
It had been a long time since Ayame had actually had to WALK through the wilderness to get anywhere. Usually she just turned into a huge cloud of chakra and moved through everything at roughly twice the speed that normal shinobi moved through forests like the ones that could be found in the Land of Fire. However, this time, she was working alongside two other shinobi. Chuunin… People who weren't immediately aware of her nature, and whom she didn't think it was necessary to inform.
And so she did her best to move at the same pace as those two through the trees, following the strange tracks of… whatever it was that had apparently been killing animals in the area. She was dressed in her usual gothic lolita fashion, despite the impracticality of her outlandish outfit, but kept her parasol shut and in hand as she moved quickly… until she, and the people with her finally found their way to the strange little cave half hidden in the trees. Then she slowed.
"…In there perhaps?" She raised a brow, then looked toward one of her companions curiously, "Perhaps one of you should take point? Wouldn't do to have the junior ninja in the group be mauled by a chupacabra or goodness knows what else might be hiding in there…"
No rest for the weary. Not that Etsu is, but she enjoyed her down time. Did she love working? Of course she did, when she wasn't working. Likewise she loved resting when she wasn't resting. She had it rough. Nothing was ever easy. Oh well. She found herself on a job that involved looking into a slew of kills in the forest. What kind of animal caused these? She didn't know. Not even the tracks were familiar to her. Well, guess she'll figure that out when she enters this cave ahead. "That's where the tracks lead," Etsu replied to Ayame. "…What's a chupacabra?"
Gone for so long, practically missing. The secrets the boy knew could have easily been stolen or given away to another village, mercenaries or thugs. His reasons for leaving were his own and yet upon walking straight up to the Hokage upon his arrival, he wasn't even given a second thought. Instead, he was merely given an assignment. A low rank mission with a genin he hadn't heard of before and another chuunin…Etsu. With his time away, it wasn't surprising he hadn't heard of Ayame before, but Etsu…that brought back memories and feelings.
Eremi could only shake his head slowly while keeping rather distant from the other two. Any conversations that were had, he'd shy away from them. Mostly because there was so much on his plate now, he felt he couldn't be bothered with such trivial matters. There was more at stake in Eremi's mind. Times are changing, even the Hokage seemed different and not in a good way. It wasn't how he wanted to spend the rest of his shinobi life.
Upon reaching the cave, Eremi refocused his thoughts on the mission. Though with the current rank, it didn't seem like it would need much of his attention. He wouldn't even speak up when asked about someone taking point. He figured that it would naturally be Etsu. That just made the most sense. Ayame would follow behind and then Eremi would bring up the rear.
But then, from the dark hole, something came.
Meruin walks out of the earth, shedding the lightlessness of the cave for the simple, comfortable shadow of the tree-lined world above. Nearly immediately, he turned to look towards the Konohagakure shinobi, his misted gaze taking in the group. They who had not thought to hide because they were the hunters, not the hunted. "I advise that you leave," was his only message as he stood blocking the doorway to their objective.
Ayame stared toward Meruin for a moment, her expression neutral, but her lips turned down somewhat into a frown. She looked Meruin over for a moment or two, seeking out any signs of a village that she could spot visually. "I'm afraid that will not be possible…" Her attention turned back to the hole in the cave, then back to Meruin, "A shinobi does not simply walk away from a mission, and this appears to be the place where our target has gone… I don't suppose you may have seen anything around that could have made these strange, circular tracks?" She raises a brow, tapping the ground next to the tracks in question with her parasol lightly.
Secretly, she began to expand her chakra cloud, the cloud swirling eratically as she prepared it for easy use in the event that she needed to. "…Come to think of it… what are you doing out here?" She raises a brow, suddenly a bit suspicious about the presence of Meruin… especially his recent exit from the cave where their quarry had potentially gone.
Etsu was about to enter into the cave but Meruin exited, sparing her the trip. "We can't. We must investigate in there," she replied while focusing her chakra. "Her concerns are valid. I advise that you comply with us and allow us to compete our objective." She doesn't like Meruin, that much is certain. She looked to Eremi, though she said nothing to him. She only focused back on the task at hand.
Well, that's an entrance that's definitely hard to ignore and though it wasn't something he hadn't seen before. It was still interesting to say the least. Crossing his arms, Eremi would shift in his stance as he watched and inspected the individual. Looking them over for any signs of village affiliation or recognizable traits and while every thing about the person screamed memorable, it was perhaps the two spiders that perched atop either shoulder that Eremi couldn't help but focus on. Their motionless bodies making the spiders seem unreal, but he could still feel the hairs on the back of his neck rise as he peered into their eyes. They were real alright and they were creeping him out..A quick glance would be given to Etsu, a thought about just how creepy she used to be, if not still, before looking back to the mysterious stranger.
Well, that's an entrance that's definitely hard to ignore and though it wasn't something he hadn't seen before. It was still interesting to say the least. Crossing his arms, Eremi would shift in his stance as he watched and inspected the individual, looking them over for any signs of village affiliation, but there were none that he could spot. Taking in a deep breath, he'd glance between the other two of the group, their ease with being able to confront and easily start a conversation with the mysterious figure making him believe they must know the man. With the warning Meruin had given, it was possible. If he was the one causing havoc, he could have easily attacked the group from below, but instead, did not. Eremi was growing curious how this would turn out.
Meruin tilted his head slightly, chin lifting, eyes narrowing. The mists in his eyes roiled more swiftly, the blues and purples in the black orbs of his eyes taking on darker hues. "It would be prudent," he spoke, voice a tad louder, words crisp and clear and reaching, "For you to fall back and vacate the area." It was clear that he was not intending to answer questions, and his lack of movement suggested that he wasn't about to let them past to find their own answers either. His gaze settles on Etsu, hair lifting of it's own volition, undulating in the air behind him in a slow wave as his body converts its physical energy into chakra.
Ayame does not move. She just stared at Meruin, watching the hairs lift as her eyes narrowed slowly. It looked more like she was just getting even more bored though. "…I get the feeling you're hiding something… It doesn't make sense that you'd want us to leave the location that we've followed the strange tracks to, unless you had something to hide. Perhaps you should come in with us… and then we'll decide if we need to take you back with us, hmm?"
"He doesn't wish to comply. So, we have to make a move against him. We've spent enough time attempting to be civil." Etsu released insects from her coat. She sent some forward in a direct attack against him. They were swollen with acid and ready to burst arty any given moment.
The back and forth between the girls and the mysterious figure didn't seem like it was ever going to come to an end, at least not fast enough anyways. Eremi could only stand by and watch for so long before he would take matters into his own hands and as it was obvious words weren't going to work, he'd use his fists. But before he could, Etsu beat him to the…punch. The familiar sound of swarming kikaichu catching his ears. He hadn't heard their buzzings in some time, but when they're coming for you. Digging into your flesh and exploding acidic substance, it's not something you'll ever forget. Luckily though, Eremi wasn't on the receiving end of things. Now with this matter finally moving forward, he didn't have to step in first. He'd just have to wait for a need to step in.
"Let us not play, I hope, at stupidity. Of course I'm hiding something." Meruin looked from Ayame to Etsu as the chuunin spoke and sent her kikaichu streaking towards him. "Or protecting something, anyway." Darkness suddenly spread across his body. Chitin, hard and encompassing and the sheenless black of the abyss. He never moved from the entrance of the cavern, letting the bugs explode against him, though his eyes widened slightly as they did so. He hadn't expected the acids that burst from them, or the sizzling and light smoking that came of it. But they didn't seem to damage his hardened exterior. And now he knew of them.
His brows drew downward. "Final warning."
"You are not in a position to be warning anyone. As far as I can tell, you are not a Land of Fire Shinobi… Which means that as far as we're concerned, we have authority here. Not you." A flicker of mist slowly forms around Ayame, and then rapidly condenses into three ethereal kunai. She doesn't move, doesn't even blink, but the Kunai seem to have a mind of their own, turning and launching themselves quite suddenly in Meruin's direction. "This is YOUR last warning. Step aside, or take whatever you're 'Protecting' back to wherever you came from."
"There is no play at stupidity with the exception of your resistance in moving. That, I could say, is stupid." Etsu spoke as she sent her kikaichu in for another round. They'd seek Meruin out and attempt to drain his chakra while others working below the surface lay in wait to take him in as the earth beneath his feet would begin to give way. "We could use some fists breaking through that shell of his. I know you've been gone, but that doesn't mean you've suddenly lost the capacity to be a shinobi… Or has it?" She questioned Eremi.
To take an attack like that without even so much as flinching…This mysterious person had skills, clearly and was being polite or at least, showing sympathy to the group from konoha by not outright killing them. Offering them chances to simply walk away before anything bad happens. Something they probably should have done. Eremi sure doesn't want to be killed, especially not for Konoha. Back in the day he wouldn't have given it a second thought. A chance to die as a shinobi for your village, but now?…
Taking in another deep breath, Eremi looked between the two girls who had no plans of backing down and instead continued their assaults. He planned on letting them go at it without him for a little longer. That was until Etsu spoke up. "Tell me, what does it mean to be a shinobi?" He shook his head, not caring what her answer was because despite what she might say, he did still care about Etsu and he wasn't about to let that genin get killed.
Uncrossing his arms, he'd bend down and start to roll up his pant legs, "I didn't come prepared for this. This wasn't in the scope of the mission…then again, when do they ever tell you everything before risking your life." Sighing, he'd remove one of the ankle weights, setting it on the ground and then working on the next.
Meruin's arm lifts, a shard of chitin streaking towards the ghostly projectile sent his way, body moving to put him out of the things path, just in case whatever it was was less corporeal than he'd expected. "My employer will be finished when he is finished. Until then, "A flick of the fingers sent out a pair of chitinous senbon as he watched… But no. His chitin connected and knocked it off course, the other two doing the same with the other kunai. "You would be better off saving it for your retreat." But his aim was slightly off with the second mist made kunai, it's hazy nature getting the better of him in that instance and instead of barely passing by it, it cut through the cloth of his robe at the shoulder, making an abrasion on the skin underneath, but not quite cutting.
He ignored it, though, bringing that black chitin to bear once more as Etsu sent more Kikaichu flying his way. He let them swarm him, simply keeping them away from his eyes with adjustments of the chitin over his face. They couldn't draw his chakra out through the shell between them and his chakra system. But then he felt the ground shift beneath him… And… it caved in.
But the only things that fell into it were the Kikaichu that were lucky enough to fall from him as he vanished from that space. Those that hadn't had been crushed against his front from the sheer speed with which he'd vanished and travelled to the space between Ayame and Etsu, finally abandoning his post. Though, it seemed like he made the swift journey with relative ease as he was immediately launching a distancing kick towards Ayame before lashing a whip of acid laced webbing towards Etsu, arm supremely swift. Eremi, as of now, was left to his own devices.
Ayame doesn't even try to move away from the kick aimed at her, and when Eremi jumps in front of her to handle the blow herself, she doesn't end up needing to. By the time Eremi was out of the way again, Ayame was gone, disappearing from that point only to reappear behind Meruin, leaving a single, glowing blue flame where she was standing just a moment ago…
The Chitin senbon that had been left discarded after deflecting her ghostly kunai shuddered a bit, then suddenly moved, shooting back toward Meruin from behind, and hopefully managing to pierce his chitin-covered flesh in the process…
The small blue spark finally exploded, creating an extremely bright flash of light accompanied with a horrendously loud noise! If it worked… it would hopefully disorient Meruin long enough for one of Ayame's companions to get a solid hit in.
"A shinobi is what you make of it. You've chosen your path and that is what defines you," Etsu replied even if an answer wasn't required. She buckled down after Meruin moved from his post. Good, he's not near the entrance any longer, but he was fast. A bit too fast. She was going to have to give herself more to work with to keep up with him. So, she steeled herself and began concentrating her reserves on her kikaichu to have them increase their rate of reproduction. She was going to use might. "I suppose now is a decent time…" She spoke to herself as she proceeded to slip from the upper half of her coat, leaving it to rest around her waist. Her upper body was exposed and it was now time to use the other insects at her disposal. She moved forward to strike while also summoning her insects up and into a wave to try and push him further from the cave.
Having taken off the weighted gear, Eremi looks up just in time to see the mysterious individual rushing forward at Ayame surprisingly fast. Without hesitation, Eremi would do the same as he pushed off the ground, racing ahead and just barely making it in time to raise an arm in a desperate attempt to take the force of the kick. Upon impact however, Eremi was forced to clench his teeth and flex his muscles as the strike was harder then he anticipated leaving a tingling feeling running through his arm…but at least Ayame was safe. Right? Wanting to make sure, he'd give a quick glance behind to make sure she was, but instead she was gone. Replaced by a blue flame that instantly exploded in a bright flash forcing Eremi to cover his eyes and stumble away a bit disoriented.
Immediately, his mentality shifted and his movements became smoother. Meruin kept a feel for Eremi as he made his assault on Etsu, restraining his lashing to only a fourth of a second, his whip managing to four solid touches and a glance before he whipped about. Eremi had not started forward from blocking his kick yet. Motion caught his eye — he turned, arm raising, deflecting a piece of chitin he'd thrown before. His eyes narrowed even as he caught the second in a spin, whipping it towards Ayame herself.
There was a sudden explosion from behind the other man, sound and light rising. By the end the flash of light cleared, Meruin had already made his way to the other side of Etsu, distancing himself from the explosions and it's effects. But Eremi seems to have gotten caught in them. Already, he was running to take advantage of it. Speeding.
A jump. A whirl. A leg lashed out, heading towards Etsu's midsection. Feet touched the ground. He continued. Reaching Eremi a hand reached for his neck. He'd grip tightly and continue running on, holding the shinobi up as he simply trucked through a thin tree, meat shield first, before whirling about and sending the man flying towards Ayame. But that was mostly a feint. The real danger was the chitin flying in his shadow, the shuriken shards silent pain that would arc from the sides and outpace Eremi's potential attention grabbing speed.
Both of the shards of chitin stabbed into Ayame, embedding themselves into her chest, but she didn't make a sound, or even take any notice of them before glancing down and pulling them out. No blood. "…That was annoying. I suppose I should have expected as much." The wounds on Ayame's chest, along with the holes close up, her body flickering a little with the effort of remanifesting.
A slight glow overtook Ayame's right ring finger after a moment, fading almost as soon as it had begun, as a sudden screech of fear and fury came from somewhere behind Meruin… And if he turned around, he might have seen the sudden small group of ghosts coming up at him from behind, a pair of slack-jawed, rotting corpses with a distinct transparency to their body, accompanied by a large, fat, drowned corpse of a woman, following after, each of them attempting to get their hands on Meruin, dig their claws into his flesh and consume his vital life energy to return it to Ayame… And the worst part of it? They weren't illusions, both Eremi and Etsu could see them too, before they faded into nothingness again.
The pain of that lashing was rolling around in Etsu's body. That poison was painful, though she could take it. It would just have to sit there until the kikaichu managed to weed it out. Her response to these attacks against her was one inspired by doing the most damage possible. Her insects went after their target, wishing to find their way within him. This may or may not work. She knew she was losing out for every step she took against him, but all isn't lost yet.
Eremi was doing the best he could to quickly regain his composure and sight as he rubbed at his eyes while stumbling around a bit, hoping to not get hit by more friendly fire or worse, attacked by the mysterious individual. Though without being able to see or hear, there was little he could do about it. Though the disorientation and loss of vision didn't last much longer, it just didn't return soon enough. For the moment Eremi took a stance, finally ready to strike back at Meruin, the mysterious stranger was already running toward him at high speeds, too fast for Eremi to defend in time and before he knew it, he was lifted off his feet, being carried away by his neck.
The grasp was tight, choking him, but it wasn't as bad as the tree that gave way and exploded into splinters upon crashing through, only to be tossed aside afterwards, careening with the ground and rolling a few yards before coming to a complete stop. For a few brief moments, Eremi didn't move. His body wouldn't let him. It was still in shock from the blow. It was like being hit with the flashbang all over again. Things were escalating quickly and if Eremi didn't match the speed of the fight, it wasn't going to end well for the group from Konoha.
Taking a few deep breaths, Eremi picked himself off the ground the moment his body responded and shifted into his stance once again.
Meruin's eyes narrow once more, and once more they lay on Ayame once they do so. There was something there he was not understanding. When he'd checked her footprints on the place she seemed to body flicker from, he learned not just that they didn't have the usual smudges and indents to show direction but that they weren't present at all. And her ability to manipulate objects outside of her reach without any discernable means or handsigns. Genjutsu sprung clearly to his mind — reinforced by the sudden appearances of the bloasted corpses coming at his rear.
Immediately, he sent a spark of chakra to his brain as he stepped away, awakening the spiders laying at the surface of it. They would consume any chakra used to create illusions within his mind. But the corpses did not go away. Either they were not illusions or they were too potent to be dispelled right away. Either way, he had to deal with them. Chitin covering his body once more, a single kick found the jaw of one and followed through to the temple of the other.
And then he ran towards Etsu. A flickering glance. The other was up. He met the rush of Kikaichu head on, the insects swarming him. The barbs on their bodies allowed many of them to cling to him, piercing despite the protection of his chitin. But his chitin reformed, healing the holes they made to do so, keeping them from taking him, if barely.
But barely was enough, as he soon made Etsu. "You will order your people to retreat," spoke the Okumo, hands lashing out to grab her neck even as his… other hands sped towards her wrists. If successful, he'd have two hands wrapped around her throat, choking and lifting her as his secondary pair of arms, sprouted from his torso, would spread her arms apart. "Sooner rather than later would be healthier for all involved."
And then spider webbing would shoot from his arms — whether he'd caught her or not — and seek to grab her here. Provided success, he'd spin, holding her tethered by his spider silk as he'd send her through the terrain herself, making her body break through trees before letting her fly in the opposite direction of the cave, back from where they came.
And then Ayame was more or less ignored, as Meruin moved to deal with her comrades. She glanced toward the cave, and then, in hopes that Meruin wouldn't turn around and watch her again, she faded out of existence… Her body growing transparent, then disappearing altogether. At least, she HOPED it had disappeared altogether. She was still a novice to the art of remaining solid while disappearing like this… Needed more practice.
Etsu was still enduring some effects of the poison, but it was slowly clearing up. Soon enough, she'd grow used to it and push through. She observed the battlefield, shortly after she defended against Meruin by spreading her insects out in a dome around her, then following up with earth chakra covering her body to keep her protected. As the earth disintegrated, she made quick work of moving herself away from Meruin and towards the entrance of the cave. She thought she knew what Ayame was doing. At any rate, she made with attacking him in the form of poisoned, sharp tools, all ready to drive into him.
The pain from the previous attack subsiding some what, Eremi leaned forward as he watched Meruin and waited for an opportune moment to strike without getting those from Konoha injured in the process. He only had one chance at this and if it didn't work, then he'd have to start sacrificing his body, but to what end? Saving his own life? At this point the best option would be to retreat for another day, but glancing about Ayame was seemingly making her way toward the cave as she started to slowly fade away, while Etsu was fending off one attack after another before heading for the cave as well, but not before unleashing a few attacks of her own.
And that was it, his moment to strike. The others were clear and he just had to hope what ever was in the cave was enough to catch the strangers attention to want to stop Etsu and Ayame without realizing that Eremi was already racing toward, his speed greatly increased simply from opening the first of the eight chakra gates. A process that has become second nature at this point, it barely required any focus at all. Just the will to want to open it. The rest of the gates were a different story, but hopefully it didn't come to it.
Once the distance between the two was closed, Eremi quickly dropped down while shifting his feet across the ground, one over the other while twisting his body as tightly as he could before jumping up in a corkscrew fashion and an uppercut posed for Meruin's jaw.
Meruin's nostrils briefly flared as Etsu not only evaded his initial grasp with a thick wall of flying kikaichu, but rendered his followup useless by simply using earthen armor to protect her from the terrain. "You fight a needless battle," speaks the Okumo. "And one that you do not wish to see escalated."
Though, the woman did try a maneuver he hadn't particular expected. A frontal taijutsu attack with a weapon. He used minimal effort, moving to avoid the first slash. But too little effort, as she managed to score a thin cut along his forearm. One that burns in the particular manner of a poison of some kind. It burned, he noted, as he avoided the second slash with ease. But nothing on a level worth expending the energy to purge it. Instead, he let it run it's course leg lifting at her final slash. His knee stopped her arm, keeping the blade from him, and his shin extended to finish the snap kick, the maneuver neatly blocking and countering in the same motion.
And then Eremi was there. Suddenly — 'Very swift' — noted the Okumo. 'But not as swift as I.' Chitin covered Meruin's chin and throat and he lowered his head, pushing his chin down into Eremi's spiraling uppercut, neutralizing the force of the attack. 'Nor as strong.' He leapt just a few yards away from the pair to allow himself some maneuvering room, however, glancing towards where Ayame should be. Gone.
A glance at the ground there. No easily discernable footprint. A few quick glances around and a query of the spiders in his hair showing that she was nowhere to be found. Slipped away, likely down into the cavern. Abruptly, the Okumo's face was suffused with danger and he roared, "IF YOU VALUE THE LIFE OF YOUR COMRADES, YOU WILL RETURN BEFORE I USE THEIR SCREAMS TO DRAW YOU FROM THAT CAVE, GIRL!"
And then he was by Etsu, the woman once more the target of his assault. She was the leader, the key point, and the one who'd expended the most energy in this fight thus far. She would be the first he could neutralize and the best chance of getting them to withdraw. Because, as he said while spider webbing burst from his torso in a great many tendrils, the hundred or more lashing ropes soaked with highly caustic poisons, "You will order her to withdraw from the cave, because if you do not, you will die. Your friend will die. And I will be waiting when she returns from the earth. A team leader leading everyone to death through stubborness."
Ayame was hesitant… Had it been her being threatened with death, she wouldn't have even remotely cared. But these were living people who were being threatened. Other Konoha-nin. So she waited, for the time being, by the entrance of the cave. They were also her superiors in this mission, and she would follow the orders that Etsu, or Emeri gave to her. If they didn't want her to go in and see what it was the man was hiding, she would withdraw. For now though, she was taking a breather, drawing on the latent life energy in the immediate area to try and stabilize her chakra cloud…
As long as she'd managed to get into the cave, that is what mattered to Etsu. She wasn't sure how Ayame managed to get inside, especially with no tracks present, but she figured she might be able to escape in the same way. "All of you Kiri shinobi seem to have a switch in your minds. A layer of false calm before allowing the true self to pour out. There is no nee to shout and become irate." She remarked as she raised a host of kikaichu to defend her against the webbing. It wasn't successful and she did find her stamina drained, but she wasn't down yet. She was near it. Whatever was in that cave needed to be discovered. But, everything can't be won in a day. "Killing me won't solve anything. There are plenty of others in Konoha that can take my place. Your threats are meaningless. Comrades are lost all the time. That's part of our life. However, I will concede this battle to you. I can agree there is no need to escalate. I will just have to warn Konoha of your presence here and failure to cooperate with us in our land." She observed the cave. "Ayame," she raised her voice enough to be heard. "Come out of the cave. Whatever you have determined will be reported later."
There was a cracking noise the moment Eremi's fist hit against the creatures chin, but it wasn't the chitin breaking away, no. It was the sound of Eremi's knuckles hitting against the hardened carapace with full force as they gave way, unable to do little more than hurt himself in the process while at the same time revealing his strengths…at least at his current level.
Unfortunately it was starting to grow apparent that the mysterious stranger was growing more agitated. No longer amused with the antics of the Konoha group and would surely make short work of them were they not to quickly give up the notion of reaching the cave. Which seems to be exactly what Etsu finally wants to do. If only she decided on this earlier, it would have saved them the trouble of wasting all this time and energy.
Shaking his fist with now bruised knuckles at his side, Eremi straightened up as he started to walk away, not even paying attention to what Meruin might be doing, but instead readying himself to leave with the others of the group. Assuming Ayame makes it back outside safely.
"Pleased to see you've some sensibilities," spoke Meruin as Etsu's huge cloud of Kikaichu settled and she finished speaking. The Jounin sent a flood of darkness — of spiders — from his feet towards the cavern below, sending them to search out the girl and ensure that she is on her way out of the cave. The Okumo remained where he was, watching those he knew to be above, as this was the only exit or entrance to the cavern and he was not about to allow them all entrance to the cavern by following behind him. "You all have your lives and the opportunity to complain. I will have a successful mission. Consider it a fair trade. And remember that it is a courtesy I did not have to give." And thus he awaited, searching for the genin with his spiders and keeping a tabs on things up above.
Ayame unmanifested before the spiders ever got to the cave.
"…Very well." Ayame manifested a few feet behind Meruin, shouldering her parasol, and openning it after a moment, as if to signify that she was done fighting for the time being. "…I strongly suggest you move whatever you're hiding here far, far away, Kiri-nin… Because we WILL be reporting your presence here, and I have an excellent memory to tell them where you're hiding. No doubt whatever it is you're protecting will be found if you do not move it before another stronger group arrives to investigate." She shrugs, "But I'm sure I don't need to tell you that… I imagine you planned to escape with your secrets shortly after we left… Tell your employer that the next time he wants a mission done in the Land of Fire, he should get a Konoha-nin… Not someone from the Land of Water. It looks VERY bad for a foreign ninja to be sneaking around in the Land of Fire."
"…" Etsu didn't have a reply to Meruin's words, but her pride was stung. She didn't like that feeling, but she hated even more the thought of an incomplete mission. She could admit to some stubbornness in that regard and she's now paying dearly for it in more ways than one. Allowing a Kiri shinobi to escape unscathed is unsatisfactory to her, but shinobi life is also bitter in taste. She'll just have to suck it up and move on. At the rate this venom is making it's way through her body, she may just collapse at the gate, perhaps not even that close. There was so much wrong with this situation right now. "Not if his employer is slaughtering our wildlife. At that point, his commission is void, but I can't stay and talk like this…I'm in…too much pain," she struggled with her words. "We have to leave here and return to the village."
Without hesitating, Eremi moved over toward Etsu and started to pick her up so he could cradle the Aburame in his arms. This is what he was going to do regardless if she was going to resist, but hopefully she wasn't going to put up a fight and could make this easier for the both of them. "Let's get you back to the village before anything gets worse." And with that he took off, leaping into the trees and back to the village leaving his weighted gear behind and assuming Ayame would follow behind.
Meruin turned his head, eyes over his shoulder as his spiders stilled. She had neatly snuck up on him, somehow. His only response to her words. "Do not let me get my hands on you, little fly," spoke the Okumo. "You have secrets to tell. And if you get caught…" His spiders return to his body, vanishing amongst his robes. "I will wrest them from you, willing or no. Your jutsu may prove valuable to Kirigakure indeed." He jerked his head towards the others. "Now walk. Leave with them, so that I can see you do so. Otherwise, I go hunting."
Ayame stares at Meruin for several moments, then yawns, "You do like to think yourself scary, don't you?" She starts walking, toward the trees, not even bothering to turn around. "There are scarier things though. MUCH scarier things. Do take care that you don't draw their attention, mm?" And with that, she disappeared into the treeline, and then deeper into the shadows…
Meruin watched after the girl until she slipped deeper into the shadows with her people. And then the darkness spread from him once more, finding its way into the caverns beneath him. Those black spiders found the entrance, ringing it and staying there until the Okumo slipped back through it into the earth below. The spiders then moved swiftly building a sudden, thick blockage of spider silk over the entrance. Light manipulation or advanced henging or chameleon DNA, whatever made her invisible — indetectable or no — she should still need to break through that barrier. And below, he would be waiting. Watching. Searching. And she would learn that there were indeed scarier things than she had just seen.
Meruin defied was one of them.