Date: November 5, 2015
There was game to be caught and Sasada Takuji was the man to do it. Only one problem…he couldn't do it. Alone, that is! So, he has requested the help of shinobi. Enter Kiyoshi and Isra, who together will help with this issue! Their mission was simple…lure the bird into the trap. They'll soon learn that the mission was not as simple as it seemed.
"The Bird is the Word"
Blood Marsh - Swamplands
Summer in the Blood Marsh might as well be a death sentence. It's the time where it thrives the most as if coming to life. It has a noticable rhythm, almost like a heartbeat, very slow and steady, but strong. There's a natural fear associated with this place. Though it is beautiful to marvel at, being a place where hues of red comes in the most variety, it is also quite dangerous. But, some live for this danger, some like Sasada Takuji. Though he was a man of renown and noted hunter, he had to admit that he was struggling with a target that he had his eyes set upon. His target was a bird, one that no one thought to ever hunt. It was a predatory creature and anyone that ran into it, even shinobi, were wary of engaging it.
Isra, given that she had this contract, decided that she needed some help to work with the contractor. Well, it did call for two people, after all, so why not another person? She leaned towards Kiyoshi who she felt could benefit her on this mission. She sent him the information and told him to meet her in the blood marsh so they could go meet their contractor together. This was likely going to be a tough mission, but it could give her a chance to study the area and perhaps learn something from it.
There was no hesitation when it came to accepting the mission. Kiyoshi simply took off, shirtless and jacketless. Most might consider it a suicidal thing to do given his destination, but the Moto cared not one iota. The hunt promised to be a chance to redeem a previous expedition. But of course, he wouldn't just run off at the earliest chance to see that goal through to the end. Because that would be wrong. And stuff. c.c
"Isra-sensei!" The red-haired behemoth calls out in warning as he fell (or perhaps leaped?) into position beside Isra, cracking whatever surface is unfortunate to be there. "I'm… *huff* Here.." A haunched over Kiyoshi just barely manages to get in-between breathes, holding steady the oversized scroll strapped to his back.
Isra popped up from the round upon Kiyoshi's landing. That was a pretty hard one. "Did you really get winded coming here?" She smiled. "Not that I'm bothered. I'll let you catch your breath before we move forward. Can't have you short on it while trying to do a mission. How've you been? Did I ever return your coat to you? I think I did," she considered for a few moments. "Eh," she chuckled.
Kiyoshi started to shake himself, but stopped short upon realizing how far sweat tended to fly without some sort of obstacle in the way; such as a shirt. "A little…" He flashes a grin. Joints pop noisely as the chuunin straightened out, deaferning part of her second question. Fortunately, Kiyoshi was decent at piecing together missing parts. Mostly. "Mmn…. Well enough." Kiyoshi looks away after the statement, and scratches at the side of a cheek. "… *coughs*… And ya didn't, but that's alright. Keep it as long as you need sensei… Hmm… So, where's the guy we s'pose to be escorting?" He asked while glancing about the area.
"Oh, no, no, I wanna give it back, but I keep forgetting. Every time I see you I just remember and then I forget again! I'm not really supposed to be that forgetful, I'm an Uzumaki. Our minds are supposed to be like steel traps, y'know?" Isra tapped her temple a bit. "But I guess I keep myself busy enough. Yeah, that's it. I just do a lot of other things. Too much thinking can clog the mind. I'm always thinking about seals and my shop and my purpose in the universe and not really that last part, but it's fun to toss in every so often," she laughs. "Anyway! We've got a job to do. He's already further inside. We just have to meet up with him."
Though the youngest Moto tried his best, hearing Isra ramble on was far too amusing not to smile. It is only at one point the smile falters in favor of a look of exasperation over the topic of steel trap minds. Kiyoshi may not have known for certain if there was truth behind those words, but dealing with his sensei at times certainly made it seem an unlikely thing. Temptation led to the raising of a hand and lips parting, yet neither complete the task their task before the subject is finally put back on track.
"Already inside? In that mess?" Kiyoshi lets out a drawn out whistle after settling his gaze in the direction of the deeper portions of the marsh. "A lot of prides are gonna be wounded when we get back if that man succeeds, ya know?" He asks. Despite his own words, the Kirryu did not look all that concerned himself. So long as their client's target remained oversized birds and not jutsu flinging apes, the crimson-haired shinobi was fairly content to assist without complaint still.
"Yep. He was trying to get a lead. We just have to meet up with him," Isra shrugged. "So, let's go!" She proceeded to take a leisurely walk towards the area in question. Besides, she could take a look around and familiarize herself with the environment. Their contractor was already ahead, hidden while trying to get his prey to come out. He had a pile of fruits set up for it to eat, but keeping it protected has been a hassle. There are plenty of other fauna around here that enjoy fruit too.
Isra guides Kiyoshi to their contractor and she crouches down into the leaves so as to keep up the whole stealth part of the process. "Any luck so far?" She asks of Takuji. "Not much. I've been having to keep every other pest out of here so I can lure the one I want out," he remarks with gritted teeth. "If I have to continue fighting all these pests off, I won't get my prize." Isra nodded to herself understandingly. "Well, guess we ought to get to work."
Having expected Isra to take off springing from one tree to the next, Kiyoshi nearly trips over his own legs upon belatedly realizing such was not the case. His recovery is a fortunately quick one, and soon enough, Isra has an oversized second shadow. There isn't a moment after the duo are on the move in which Kiyoshi loses the watchful air about him. Very few places in the Blood Marsh could be considered safe, and even those that were scarcely met most Kirigakure shinobi's take on the word.
When the finally do meet up with their contractor Kiyoshi crouches down behind the duo, nervously clawing at the oversized scroll strapped to his back. "Mn. Just point us to the worse of 'me and will take care of it sir." The Kirryu states, taking that same few moments of speaking to study the client thoroughly. A faint smile can just barely be seen spreading on the Kirryu's mug. From his scent to his looks, the guy had everything down for a proper hunter, which meant an easier time for the Kiri shinobi pair.
"Here are some now," Takuji pointed out. They appeared to be smaller birds that were trying to take advantage of the feast that he set out. Well, smaller in the sense of six feet tall. If they're smaller, what does this make the target bird? "Just keep 'em from swarming over the fruit long enough for the big one to come, alright?" He asked. "You got it," Isra remarked. She looked towards Kiyoshi. "Would you like to do the honors?" She gestured for him to go first and take first blood.
"Mn…" Kiyoshi emits, rising part way from his crouch. "Gladly Sensei." The statement is the only word of warning both hunter and ex-swordsman gets before the vacuum caused by Kiyoshi rushing past ruffles their hair. Everything that happens afterwards is but a blur of motion involving the crushing of one's bird's throat before it is tossed into its friend hard enough to send both flying with shattered bones into a far off portion of the underbrush. "Whew~ Might've been a little overzealous there." Kiyoshi states while watching the duo until they disappeared from view.
If given the chance to return unhindered, the Moto takes the scenic route back to the duo in hopes of avoiding leaving behind any further evidence of his presence. Granted, given the size of their bounty and the nature of the Marsh, Kiyoshi did not think for one moment that the intended prey wasn't used to dealing with a myriad of dangerous predators.
"Over zealous?" Takuji questioned as he looked off into the distance where the birds were thrown at. The rest of the birds that were there all flew off and decided not to come back. "Hehehe," the hunter chuckled to himself. "That's it. Now my prey will come to me," he states. "Well, that ought to solve /that/ problem, but I still need to see what my bird is up to. If you two don't mind, you'll likely get better vantage points than I will. Could you look for my catch?" He asked. "I've only gathered very little of it, but it could be anywhere out there. I have this huge mound of food. Sure it can smell it, but probably needs a little help getting to it. So, what I'm asking is…you guys to be bait."
Isra hummed. "I guess so. We should get away with blending in here. We've both got red hair and are shinobi. That's about it. Other than that, there's probably a lot more that I should worry about." Takuji nodded solemnly. "A lot more, yeah." He pulled up the leg of his pants and showed a severed stump. "I lost part of my leg around here. Not to any creature, but to some crazy plant. Pretty sure it was a carnivorous type. Didn't think about it much while I was busy hacking away trying to escape. Worst pain of my life having sweet smelling digestive juices turn my leg and bones into slop." He shuddered at the thought. "But I got through it. You guys are shinobi. If I can survive it, you guys can do much better." Isra smiled. "Thanks for the warning. That'll definitely help as we go looking," she states. "Alright, Kiyoshi. Let's head out."
So, the duo leave the hunter to head off into the deeper parts of the marsh. So far, it wasn't much of a problem. Trees deep with bronze foliage climbed into the sky and obscured the sun, leaving specks of light to dot the ground. Rustling and all manner of croaks, screeches, and creaking occured as they walked through along with the occasional buzzing. Waters flushed lightly as wildlife hopped in and or out, leaving little traces behind aside from rolling waves across the otherwise stagnant water. The obvious flytrap was around here, but so were a few pitchers. So…what was the hunter talking about?
Vibrant, flowering plants sat on the ground, glistening in the sunlight just ahead in a clearing near a pond. Life was still here, aside from a mild breeze bobbing through. It was enough to cause the plants to wave…
Absent-minded nods of agreement were abruptly brought to an end at the words "You guys" and "bait". They were words that should've /never/ been used in the same sentence together, and yet his ears were not playing tricks on him. Kiyoshi could not just hold onto to the professional facade while balatantly ignoring the seriously, undoubtable, du—
Annnnd Isra agreed without hardly putting up any kind of fight. When next Isra turned to look at Kiyoshi the giant is slouched over in defeat. "Hai, Hai…" Kiyoshi dragged himself after his sensei after those sad sounding murmurs left his mouth. In time during their travel the Kirryu regains some of his vigor as it reoccured to him to avoid underestimating the dangers of the marsh. Little goes without scrutiny by the Kirryu, which may be why when the duo finally came across what amounted to a minefield of hidden danger, the vine filled with red dew-like drop bulbs creeping torwards them did not go ignored.
"Isra-sensei… We need to move. Now!" Kiyoshi stated tersely while keeping wary eye out for the vine, hand playing at the hilt of his cleaver.
Isra took heed of Kiyoshi's warning and it's only when he mentioned it that she saw the vines reaching forward in an attempt to capture both of them. She was able to place some distance between herself and the vine as it reached forward and began curling around, seeking her in the last place it felt her presence. Without anything there, it retreated back to settle in and wait for other prey to come along. "Thanks for that warning. If it'd have caught me, I doubt I'd have gotten away," she rubbed at her neck. "This marsh is our enemy," she muttered to herself and sighed. "At least, these parts of it…"
With them being cleared for safety, they're able to look around for information regarding their prey. A few tracks have turned up, but nothing workable. No, they need something more. Isra began to take out a number of tags attach them to kunai. Once she had enough, she jingled them in her hands and smiled. "I'm gonna need a bit of help throwing these out into the marsh. Mind helping me out a little?" She asked of Kiyoshi, handing him five of the ten she put together. "Once these are tossed out, I can activate them and then get a better read of this particular area. If tracks are here, I feel we're close. Besides, they seemed fresh enough."
Soon, kunai start to get flung around in different directions, each traveling far and wide until they strike the ground, waters, and everything in between.
Kiyoshi stepped lively but carefully to avoid the risk of any more curious vines following in his wake. Once both seemed to be at a safe distance, tension is released in a drawn out exhale. "Friend and enemy, or so my brothers sometimes said." He stated as soon as he regained his breath. "Regardless, even if they had gotten a hold of ya, it wouldn't have been for long enough to enjoy a free meal." Kiyoshi emphasis his point by tapping the blade of his cleaver, and flashing a small but toothy smile.
Soon after, it is back to hunting for signs of their prey. A task Kiyoshi eagerly set to work on, if albeit with but one self-inflicted hindrance; a gas mask summoned and set in place. After all, a field of creeping beauty wasn't the only risk they needed worry about. "Hmm? Hmm… Sure." He replied, taking hold of the five kunai. One after the other, kunai sail in just about every direction; including behind them and in the trees. It is as the last one leaves his hand that Kiyoshi frowns behind the gas mask and cants his head. "Wait… Fresh. Then… isn't it…?" He trails off from there as his gaze passed over their surroundings.
"I'm more than certain I could count on you if I ever got myself into a snag. Almost did, yeah?" Isra laughed. As she activated the seals and began to pick up on the noise sent back by the detection seal, she responded to Kiyoshi saying, "Yes, it's already here. We didn't have to go far, thankfully, but then that makes me wonder…" She hummed. Was there something it was tracking around here. At any rate, she could 'see' better with these seals than she could on her own.
"I'm…getting a pretty strong reading," she began turning in the direction she was sensing from. "Okay…let's see…Oh wait, that's not right?" That reading was getting closer. That's…not supposed to happen. It continued toward them until soft thumps indicated how close it was. Trees began to snap in the distance and Isra felt a certain sense of dread. "That couldn't be. That /can't/ be!" She openly shouted incredulously.
But it was! Stepping through the foliage, mud squishing underfoot was the bird itself. It was a large, hairy looking thing, long legs and neck with a crest and sharp beak. Beady eyes, claws that looked like they could tear a swathe of this area apart. Red plumage to camouflage "…" She was silent. "We need to go…Now," she whispered to Kiyoshi. Lodged into its body was a kunai, nearly hidden by the feathers in between the thigh and torso. It looked around, hoping to seek out the one responsible for the kunai that caused it mild annoyance.
Upon spotting Kiyoshi and Isra, it lowered its head to get a better look and quickly reared back, lifting its leg to plow it forward, talon extended and ready to impale one of the two of them. "RUN!" She shouted while generating seals to throw up a defense.
An absent-minded smile grew on the Moto's face, but his focus never fully shifts away from an almost paranoid attentiveness to the tree canopy. There was no reason to suspect that their target was something of a climber. And yet…
"What is it, Isra-sensei?" Kiyoshi asked as he casted the ex-swordsman a sideways glance. When the only answer he recieves is more denials and further confusion, the cleaver is unsheathed and held defensively in anticipation.
Kiyoshi's heart raced beneath his breast, threatening to burst at any second as the tension built up. At any moment now he would face a similiar situation the beast would appear from the foliage. At any moment now, Kiyoshi would potentially relive his bout with the albino aligator faced prior to the exams. A whispered command falls on death ears as the Cassowary finally made its entrance into view. What should've been a moment of gaping in awe was ruined as Kiyoshi's eyes fell upon the kunai buried in the creature's side. A nervous chuckle breast out, seemingly set the bird off. Instinct takes over an instances later, resulting in the Kirryu moving in the blink of an eye before Isra has even completed her shout. Kiyoshi almost stops as the word finally reaches him. Almost. But ultimately, he only slowed and looked back long enough to guage rather or not Isra came out alright before deciding rather or not to pick up the pace.
Isra threw up a barrier between her and the bird, its talon bashing against it and recoiling from the strike. It didn't hurt the bird any, but it was a bit confused about where this invisible wall came from. It fiddled around, tapping at it lightly to see where it began and ended while Isra scrambled to catch up with Kiyoshi. "We gotta get back to Takuji!!!" She shouted while running at a breakneck pace.
Eventually, the barrier would dissipate without her being there to keep it up and the bird would break into a run after the two of them, snapping and crunching every tree and bush it came into contact with. There is a boon to all of this, at least. With that kunai still wedged into its body, she can read how close or far it is from the both of them and right now, they've got a decent lead.
Meanwhile, back in hiding, Takuji is listening to all of this from afar. The bird is loud and so is its movements. He may not be able to hear the shinobi, but all the animals and the area are trying to retreat because they want nothing to do with this giant cassowary. He grinned to himself, thinking of how close he was to his prize. His trap was all set and ready to capture it in a moment's notice.
"Why would he want to catch something like this?!" Isra complained. "Why would /anyone/ want to catch anything here?!" As she finished her questions, a dark shadow loomed overhead and swept over them, then soon their front as the bird dropped from the sky and blocked their path with the intent to drive its beak down to attack. Much like its talon, it was sharp enough to pluck some limbs if someone wasn't careful.
"Hai!" Despite agreeing to the course of action, Kiyoshi stayed true to a steady pace until Isra finally caught up with him. After that, there's little restraint. The passing trees and everything in between become indistinct blurs as several feet and sometimes are devoured within seconds. Any thought to worry about what other dangers might take advantage of the chase fade the moment they come to mind. He couldn't spare the energy or the oxygen.
Oddly enough, the sentiment does not last long when faced with questions that left Isra's mouth. Though his lungs burned and muscles began to complain, the Kirryu actually found himself laughing. Laughing so hard he closed his eyes, missing the great leap from the bird until the undeniable tremors forced a change a focus. A few heartbeats later, Kiyoshi crashes into the ground under the force of the beek slamming into him. A moment of silence passes, and then…
"… Ite.. ite… *groans*… That smarts." He murmurs as he rose up again with flakes of bone falling from the impact zone. The man has hardly recovered enough to shake the lingering daze off before he tries slipping underneat the bird, propelled more or less by impulse after spying the threat still looming above him.
Isra could just feel her longevity depleting every moment this bird was giving chase to them. Was her hair turning pale? It certainly felt like it was. "Gaaaaaaaaaah!" It's in front now? She skid to a stop and her sandals gave way, causing her to slip on the muddy path and fall to the ground. The first peck she saw come down on Kiyoshi stirred her something fierce. A comination of fear and rage threw her up from the ground as she worried for his safety. When he stumbled back out from under the beak of the bird, she was relieved, but not for long. It was now aimed at her. She gathered up what chakra she could in the moment and maybe it was the fear that made it more effective, but she tossed up another barrier between her and this monster. The resounding bong of its beak prompted her to know she was successful. "We're almost to the clearing where Takuji is!" Just a little bit more!
The duo finally reach the clearing, having given the bird the slip for a short time, but it was still hot on their trail. Takuji popped up from his hiding place and laughed. "I heard everything that happened! Is it still coming this way?" Isra nodded, a bit too short on breath to try and answer quickly enough. "Good, good! Come over here and get comfy. This catch is as good as mine!" She wasted no time trying to find a spot to get comfortable in and dropped dead on the ground. Not too long after, the bird came running in, catching the scent of the fruit on the ground. Its pursuit was finally haunted. Food was now present and it was a bit hungry. It bobbed its head around, observing the massive pile prior to giving it a few pensive pecks. When it determined the pile safe, it began to dig further and swallow whole lumps of fruit whole.
Takuji watched the bird closely and marveled at its beauty and size, but more importantly, what danger it was about to find itself in. In his hand was a wire tied up to a trap that he was going to pull. "Just need it to be a little more comfortable…" He whispered. It took some time, but the cassowary finally lowered itself to the ground to rest and in this moment, he pulled on the wire and a metal netting came up to wrap around the massive bird. Naturally, it sprung up to try and fight against the trap.
"Hahahahaha! Yes!!!" Takuji shouted. "But I need a bit more! This bird is much more stronger than I thought! If it keeps going like this, it can break the net apart! I need it to be weakened a bit!" Isra looked at the guy like he was insane, but she groaned and rose up. "Fine, fine." Ugh. "At least we get to attack back this time. Kiyoshi, I'm gonna need your help. I need it stunned so I can rob it of its energy more easily. Can you do that for me?" She asked as she considered which seals she wished to use.
Kiyoshi nearly stumbles over his own feet from the shout. Did he just — 'Not now!' He thought urgently, dismissing the other line of thinking. One final leap carries Kiyoshi into the clearing, though the landing turns out to be too rough without falling into a controlled roll. Once back on steady feet there is little stopping the Kirryu from rushing right past Takuji and beyond except some last minute mental reminder. He slides in attempting to slow down so abruptly, but manages to dive into cover the moment enough momentum bleeds away.
There isn't much getting comfortable for the crimson-haired giant afterwards. Too much adrenaline still coursed through his system, leaving him tense and ready to spring into action at any moment. When the bird finally does catch up with the duo, Kiyoshi is just reaching for his cleaver holster, only to find nothing but air.
A muttered curse goes half abandoned as Kiyoshi's eyes dart back to the bird, struggling in that moment to free itself from some type of net trap. "Hah! That's - Wait. What? Uhh…" He peers back uncertainly at the bird, bows his head, then lets out a heavy sigh as he rose from cover. "Hai…" He claps sharply and holds his hands together. "Alright prancer! You heard the lady." A disapproving rumble echoes within the mindscape at the nickname, but the request does not go unanswered. Chakra so dense as to be visible bubbles to the surface, surrounding the Jinchuuriki in a cloak that quickly takes the rough shape of a three tailed horned beast. Unbidden by any vocal command or gesture, portions of the cloak splinter off from the host, growing and dividing multiple times in flight into branching limbs that sought to restrict the Cassowary's movements further!
The bird screeched with the bubbling arms extending out and restricting its movement. It appeared to be more frightened than anything as its feathers were thick enough to prevent any major harm from coming against it. The acidity of those hands did get through to a degree and was enough to bring concern. Isra, seeing the bird's distress thought extended her hands and placed them on the ground, generating a seal to drain it of its energy so that it'd fight less. With a sufficient amount of its stamina drained, it stopped thrashing around and only began breathing deep, heavy breaths. Its eyes were opened, but it was just too tired to fight anymore. "Alright, I think that should be good." She spoke to Takuji.
"Yep, looks like it's calm now," he nodded. "It's beautiful. One of the largest birds around here if not /the/ largest." He grinned. Isra smirked, but it faltered somewhat. "…Are you going to kill it?" She inquired. "Kill it? Why do you ask?" Takuji asked. "Well…I know it's not any of my business, but you're a hunter. A big game hunter. I'm not saying you kill all the prey you come in contact with, but do you intend to kill this one?" The man looked at the bird for a good long moment and shrugged. "I had thought about it a time or two. When I first started tracking it, I thought it'd be amazing to just engage in a hunt with it and claim its life as a trophy, but then as I spent time studying it that is, tracking its movements, behavior, whereabouts, all that. Turns out…" He grinned happily. "It's a lady bird!!" He laughed. "Not that I'd kill a male either, but since it is a lady, it means there's males too! They live around here and there's more where this one came from! Admittedly, this wasn't a thrilling hunt because I needed help getting it. I can't very well claim that it's my own work and that's why you all have been contracted, but, I have to say just having it in this net and seeing it up close is enough for me."
Isra sighed mildly in relief. She simply nodded and said, "Alright, then we'll be waiting for the payment. How do you intend to prove you caught it?"
Takuji folded his arms. "There's a club of hunters around here. Once I verify with them and bring them here to see the catch, then I'll have had all my proof. She'll be set free again and can roam. Until then, I'll have to keep her watered and fed. Can't just have her sitting here the whole day like this. It'd be a shame." Isra chuckled. "Alright. Then I believe our work is done here." She walked up to the bird and began to search around for the kunai in its body. It moved a bit, rightfully distrubed by her, but when Isra made her intentions known with the removal of the kunai, the cassowary calmed. "Time for us to go, Kiyoshi."
A master of the five tails this Jinchuuriki be, but he still had a long way to go before being able to remove the caustic element to the beast chakra upon command. With that in mind, Kiyoshi's hold was a teneous one, but fortunately Isra decided to act before it could be tested to its limits. Even then, slack is only given after a tenative few extra moments are spent personally studying the bird's condition. Satisfied, the Jinchurriki's phantom limbs retreat, though fade from existence — as did the cloak — long before rejoining the cloak.
A quiet "whew~" slips out as Kiyoshi peeled off the mask, and rubbed at his forehead using the back of his fist. Kiyoshi only half-listens to the conversation between Isra and Takuji. Why? Well, there was that little fact they were still in the middle of the Bloody Freaking Marsh! And while most critters may have been scattered by the noise, the odds of something or someTHINGS more couragous making their way to the group was still possible. c.c
"Wait… Did he just — But we — And then the-…" Kiyoshi folds his arms across his chest as he trailed off into silence, choosing instead to play the mantra 'At least we're getting paid' over and over again in the back of his mind. It doesn't help in the least. But leaving? Oh he was more than eager to answer with a sharp "Hai!" before jogging ahead. The faster he got out of Blood Marsh, the faster he could put behind him another troublesome client.