Date: September 4, 2013
Rumors of a terrible and frightening creature bring four shinobi to the forests on an investigation.
Unknown Path (Forests around Konoha)
A few might have been around when the two guys came into the sake bar white as sheets. Others might have have overheard a rumor here or there as the two traveling salesmen came into the village Hidden in the Leaves. These guys were claiming they saw something out in the forest well off to the north and west of Konohagakure. They said it was some kind of creature or something. It was hard to make out and it was almost see through. Whatever it was, it nearly killed the pair, or so they claimed. They said they were just moving on their way to Konoha when it came out of the woods and gave chase. They ran as far and as fast as they could to get away and could have sworn they felt it breathing down their necks at one point. By the time they ran out of breath and were nearer to Konoha, it was gone. They claimed to be incredibly lucky. Either way, many thought the men just drunk, crazy or just plain scaredy cats. A few though, might have come out to investigate this strange beast.
There has been quite a bit of discussion about monsters, beasts, and the like lurking in the forests of the Land of Fire. Sosuke comes across two drunken men as they leave the Sake Bar. They laugh to one another claiming that the two salesmen inside were simply rambling on about nothing, scared by the forest's tricks. This is the second time now Sosuke has heard a report of a strange and frightening beast that stalks the dark forests. He remembers coming face to face with a beast during his spar with Sei. He hadn't been able to get over that fearful feeling. Ever the dutiful one Sosuke sought to banish this fearful feeling by confronting it head on. He could here his father's voice mocking him, lecturing him, telling him over and over again what qualities make up a excellent shinobi. Fear wasn't one of them.
Equipped with all his shinobi gear and his favored crescent scythe Sosuke ventured out into the forests northwest of the village in search of this phantom beast. His goal was simple. Abolish the fear and kill the beast. But it was only simple when spoken or in theory. The true difficulty of it all has yet to be determined, but failure wouldn't be tolerated. Sosuke figured he'd be the only one, if not then one of the few, who dared to investigate.
Hiei was walking past the sake bar when he heard the salesmen talking about some monster they saw on the outskirts of Konoha. He was just about to dismiss it as drunken storytelling when he saw how one of the guys hand was shaking as he was talking. Hiei knew well enough that fear can't be faked. Being that he's not old enough to actually go inside, he hangs around the door to listen to the rest of the story. He tried walking in once, but the bartender promptly kicked him out when he got a good look at him. At any rate, Hiei blazes away from the door, heading to the site that the two described in their story. The people of the Land of Fire were his allies, it was his duty to protect them just like it was for the Leaf Ninja. With his arms trailing out behind him and his feet kicking up dust, he hurries out to the monster's last location. Hopefully, he'd get some action and this wouldn't be a wasted trip.
Ato on the other hand was in the sake bar. he sat off to the side, a silent wall that had his back to the others as they talked. Finishing his last cup of drink, he'd get to his feet, a stirring of those few who did think it was a wall, the truly drunk panicking as the walls looked to be closing in. Ato ducked his head to step outside and would take off as well for the same gate Hiei had been heading for. He'd head for the roofs, hopping from one to the next, instead of running through the streets. Less people to interact with and potentially knock over. When out in the forest, he picked up as much speed as he could, seeking that source of the issue for the salesmen.
For her part, Chitose had heard the story when the men first came to Konohagakure. It was a curious bit of information that she followed up on with a local only to find out that stories like this weren't entirely uncommon. She, however, had some similar problems over in the Land of Wind with out of control and mysterious beasts. So, she left Konohagakure to investigate this herself. Upon arrival in the area she had heard them talking about, she went about looking around for the issues. It is now, at an intersection where it appears a scuffle took place that Hiei, Ato and Sosuke would find Chitose looking this way and that in confusion as she looks at the ground again and then at the forest again. For now, there was no sign of a beast, just a confused looking Genin (chuunin hopeful) seeming unsure of what could have caused what appears to be a scuffle and a left behind, though otherwise seemingly untouched cart. That's right, near to Chitose is a car, swerved off the road, its beast of burden long gone and tracks of humans everywhere as if they were moving frantically. The cart…it appears mostly undamaged.
To Sosuke's surprise he finds something rather quickly. In the distance he can see a cart, void of it's cargo and passengers. When he got closer he not only found the cart but he found another shinobi, like himself. The tracks hinted that people were running about but from what? Sosuke can find no other clues as to what caused the cart to swerve off the path. He crosses his arms and walks around the area a bit. "I don't take it you saw what occurred here?" he asked Chitose before he'd start investigating traces of the beast or anything of the sort. Who knows? Perhaps she knew something.
Hiei travels through the trees once he gets to the forest and with a leap and a flip, he lands not far from where Sosuke and Chitose are. He nods to them both. "Sosuke." He then looks at Chitose. "Hi. I'm Hiei." After adjutsing the cloud ninja protector on his forehead, he starts looking around. "Heard a rumor outside the sake bar. Decided to come see if I could find the monster." He flashes a smile. "I thought it would be fun. Well, that and I want to make sure it doesn't hurt anymore people. Either of you know what this thing is?" He looks around. "I know it's not a Goat-Ogre cause there's no god awful smell."
Ato rushed through the area until he got to the location that they had talked about. There were already others there. Interesting. A cart too. He'd stop a short way away from them, looking them over, a final nod given in greeting before he'd go over to the cart and pull it back onto the road, going over it to see if there was any items that would seem missing from the other items around it. Afterall, salesmen need to sell stuff, right?
A nod given to each in turn and Chitose simply states, "Nope, was like this when I got here." She frowns and looks around, "Any of you sensor ninjas or have some kind of enhanced senses? I heard this village has people who use dogs. I don't see any dogs." She peers about and then looks at the three, "This seems really screwed up." She points at the cart, "It doesn't look ransacked, just looks like it crashed and all I see is human foot prints, no great and evil beast."
Sosuke turns as another arrives. He recognizes this one though. "Hiei." he replies a bit shocked. "Seems I wasn't the only one curious enough to investigate. But I'm in the same boat as you. I over heard and came to investigate. I have no idea what we're dealing with." he says to the Kumogakure Genin. He offers a nod towards Ato when he appears. Watching Ato pull the cart back to the road Sosuke asks. "Find anything peculiar about that cart?" Aside from the fact that it's basically unscathed. "Inuzuka. And no doesn't seem like any of those present belong to the clan. It means this'll have to be done the old fashioned way." Sosuke unfolds his arms and looks back to the cart. "The cart had to be carrying something." he surmises. "But judging from these foot prints the passengers left without it in a panic." He studies the terrain a bit more, looking for broken branches, cleared bushes, etc.
Hiei cants his head while looking at the cart and the footprints. He pauses long enough to welcome Ato. "Hey, big guy. I assume you're here for the same reason we all are." He hmms softly as he walks around the cart. "Nothing but human footprints. You know we may be missing the obvious here. It could have been rogue shinobi using genjutsu, making them think they saw a monster to get them to panic and leave. And then they rob the cart without any fuss." He glances between those gathered. "It could happen."
Ato pauses, looking to Hiei a moment, before finally nodding, remembering. "Hiei." He'd continue to search over the cart. "That was my thought. No prints of animals, just people. Collected area. Potential genjutsu. Potential fake. Nothing seems missing though. I don't have an inventory to try out. No prints from the animals pulling the cart. So something happen. Unless I just don't see them." Ato shrugs slightly, continuing his search of the cart. "Why don't you three spread out a little. We'll see what we can find."
"I don't know. I haven't had much opportunity to look around yet. Right now I've just been…eh?" Chitose was speaking but something distracted her neat to Ato as he searches the cart. It seems as h e pulls back a tarp to look somewhere, right when he pulls back a tarp a large beast seems to come up from seemingly under the cart and through it right at him. It screeches and screams and if he isn't fast, he'll get hit by a massive claw of this large rodent like creature. It looks like some massive rat, manged fur and missing its right eye, the horrific creature is easily twice the size of a normal man, glowing and kind of see through…also seemingly able to move through objects. Either way, it appears to be very defensive of the cart as it climbs atop the cart after coming out through it and letting out a screeching roar.
"Genjutsu. Possible but something doesn't seem right." Sosuke says as he scans the area. It is only when he hears a screech. Sosuke turns around only to see Ato get assaulted by some strange giant rodent-like creature. "On the cart still?" he was alarmed that the thing was hiding so close, right under their noses. He retrieves his scythe and prepares to go on the offensive, if Ato doesn't handle the creature right away.
Hiei hops back a few steps when the giant rat comes out and attacks Ato. He moves to the big guy's side, his fist beginning to crackle with lightning, but he doesn't attack yet. "What the..you'd think something that big would stink. How did we miss that?" He takes a couple steps back. If he knew Ato, the big guy could handle it, though Hiei was gonna shoot it the first chance he got a clean shot with line of sight.
*POOF!* The massive club was there in both hands, the swing to counter it missing!? No, wait, closer look would show the claw to go clean through his club. However, it didn't go clean through him, knocking him off the cart to crash to the ground off to the side. Growling slightly, Ato was quick to be back on his feet. Club shifted from that guard to the strike, he'd lift it up over his head, more than ready to wind up and smash the whole thing.. but he paused. What if that was the point? Destroy the evidence. "I'm going to kill that rat.. after someone looks over the cart." Yes, completely fooled by the genjutsu. That'd be Ato!
For Chitose's part, she stares for a moment and then tilts her head, "Is…that a ghost rat or what the hell?" She pulls out a couple of kunai and slips around to the side, looking around as she looks under the cart. She then watches Ato fly off and Hiei has a clear shot and his weapons slam into the creature causing it to hiss and growl as it stomps around atop the cart. Strangely, the cart seems undisturbed by the movement of the large beast. Chitose, for her part seems confused and is still moving to help surround the creature. As for Sosuke? WEll, he'll notice that Hiei's shots actually go THROUGH the creature and otu the other side harmlessly despite its reaction. And he'll clearly note that it wa salmost like…Ato through himself off the cart, not that he was knocked off…and the creature seems even more transparent….and is that…a raccoon atop the crate acting all fierce? And every time the creature acts so does the raccoon…or is that the creature acts when the raccoon does?
"Ghost rat?" Sosuke looks to Chitose. "There's no such thing as ghosts." The young man stated. It was a pet peeve of his but thanks to that pet peeve Sosuke is reminded of what Ato and Hiei were suggesting before this rat appeared. After focusing his chakra Sosuke can see clearly now. "They were right. But….this is…" Sosuke looks to Hiei. "Hiei the rat isn't real it's an illusion." Sosuke joins the cloud genin a top the cart. "Adjust your aim downward a ways." Sosuke points to where the raccoon would be. "Fire at will." He says before looking back to Ato "It's a trick. You threw yourself off the cart it seems my friend." Sosuke reveals to Ato. Still he had never heard of an animal, a regular one that is, using genjutsu.
As soon as the rat gets some distance away from Ato, Hiei closes his fist as lightning crackles around it. He places it by his side as he opens up his stance a little. He nods to Sosuke when he says that it's not really a rat, and then adjusts his aim according to his instructions. "Ninja Art: Lightning Shotgun!" He shoots out his hand, palm side out as a blast of lightning spews forth towards the rat. He peers afterwards. "Did I get it?"
Even as Ato wanders off, looking frustrated as he realizes what it is. A raccoon squeals out in surprise and is blown away off of the top of a crate. Poor thing and Chitose winces, "I hardly find that to be necessary." She watches as the animal falls dead off the side of the cart, "Like at all." She stares at Sosuke a moment before shrugging and walking off. She smirks and stares at the creature even as s he tilts her head and reaches down. She pulls up a piece of paper that is mostly fried and a needle like kunai it was attached to…and the piece of raccoon that was attached to. She then offers it to Sosuke, "Think this might have had something to do with it?"
Sosuke watches the raccoon fly off dead. He nods before looking over to Chitose. "It was hostile." he shrugs not really caring about a raccoon. Sosuke pats Hiei on the shoulder "Good shot. You got it." He says before leaping off the cart to join Chitose. He looks at what she picks from the raccoon's corpse and nods. "Most likely. Only nin-beasts should be capable of genjutsu. I doubt this raccoon was one elseways it would've put up more of a fight than that." Sosuke explains before taking the paper. Perhaps he could make something out of it. "Maybe it was a seal…used as a medium for the genjutsu?" he looks to Chitose for her thoughts on the matter. Then back to Hiei. "Check the cart out. It didn't want to retreat. There has to be a reason."
Hiei looks at what's now a dead raccoon. He wasn't a lover of nature, not like Amani and Hiroyasu, but he also didn't like killing stuff without a reason. Well, honestly, any reason would do, but tiny woodland creatures is where he draws the line. Most of the time. He shakes his head and then nods. "Yeah. You might be on to something there, Sosuke." And he proceeds to do just that, starting with the area that the genjutsu rat was guarding. "Though if the illusion was here to guard something, why just leave it out in the open like this and not take it along?"
It seems, upon searching the cart, the crate the raccoon was on was full of food…well, was full of food. The raccoon was eating and enjoying a fine little feast in there. Further examination shows that the raccoon appears to have come from further off into the woods. Closely looking around reveals raccoon tracks coming out of the brush. For now, it seems, there's little explanation of why this raccoon did this other than the needle and the paper. A closer look at it does show it was some kind of seal, probably indeed meant to relay the genjutsu. The creature was just smart enough to realize, that for some reason, epople were scared when it got all hostile and would run off…so it kept it up. Chitose shakes her head, "I don't know…it's very weird." She shrugs, "Seems you got a genjutsuist of some talent near your village."
"Indeed it does." Sosuke hands the needle and paper back to Chitose. 'Extensive cleansing of hands shall take place tonight.' Sosuke silently noted. For now he wipes his fingers on his pants. "Well the raccoon was just probably taking advantage of the seal." Sosuke looks back to Hiei to wait and see what he found. "You have a point Hiei. Why? Could it be some cruel game, or test perhaps. Maybe a mere distraction?" Sosuke wonders. He shrugs "In any case that puts a rest to these tales of monsters and what not terrorizing visitors." Sosuke states "Best we can do is report what we found. Beyond that we're at a dead end."
Hiei frowns. "There's nothing but half eaten food in here. And I can see the tracks from the raccoon. Looks like he came out of the forest. He probably stuck around because, well, there's free food, and when people came around, they ran from him." He sighs. "Agreed. I think we're done here. I'll do some recon of the immediate area, but I don't expect to find anything. After that, I'll head back to the village." He looks between Chitose and Sosuke. "Sounds good?"
"Sure, sounds good." Chitose hmms and then starts off. Even as the others start off, off in the forest, watching from a good ways away, a pair of eyes stare out at the group as they leave. A chuckle of an old man can be heard even as he turns to walk off, grinning and stroking his beard.