Date: January 5, 2014
In pursuit of the kidnapped queen, Tadashi and Narusegawa assault and obliterate a Yakuza compound where she's been detected.
"The Business of Revenge - Retribution and Retrieval"
Down the Unknown Path — Land of Fire
The hunt may be over before it even fully gets underway.
During the extermination of a Yakuza warren, there was a breach in the home of the Tea Daimyo, Nagamura Shuuren. Someone — a shinobi of high quality and likely under the orders of the Yakuza — stole into the palace and, after slaughtering any guards in their way, kidnapped the Daimyo's bride. He'd felt the disturbance during the assault and had rushed to the palace to try and stop the events, but arrived only in time to sense the use of a blood summoning scroll and witness the still warm aftermath of the intrusion.
It was been two weeks since that time, and they have been spent looking for the woman. Sage Art shadow clones of Shuuren's make traveling far and wide in an attempt to find Wakako's chakra signature, and they have. Only two weeks since this potentially global manhunt began, and Wakako's location has been determined. It was within the Land of Fire, barely outside of Tea Country. Someone has decided to keep her not even a full day's travel from the border, specifically somewhere within the dead forest known only as the Unknown Path. It is a place filled with fog, myth and mystery, few of them benign and all of them unsettling, and it is the destination of those who would rescue Wakako from her prison so near to home.
Taking the queen of a country is a bad idea. If it weren't for the fact that he doesn't really want people to know what he is capable of, Shuuren would have come without disguise, but it will be a while yet before he is ready for the world to know him as the leader of the Order. Having shifted his form and donned the black attire and mask of Tadashi, he prepared for this journey and left the village discretely.
"Not very bright of them to keep her so close," Tadashi's voice rings out from behind his mask as he walks alongside his chosen partner for this mission, his strongest hand since the death of Stealth, Naru. "Our existence may be confirmed for the villages after this, but I suppose we eventually had to come to light. Perhaps they should know there are those willing to do what they are too cowardly to. Still, best to cover our tracks enough that they don't know who we really are."
"If there is to be an issue after this mission, let them come. At the very most people may even grow to admire the Order, to accomplish our goals by any means necessary," Narusegawa spoke softly back to Tadashi, her own body was adorned in a heavy black hooded cloak, her features were slightly obscured, what could be seen was the readiness of her eyes, the scarlet glow of her sharingan watching aimlessly as they began to move throughout the forest. " It's perfect actually, We can make our first mark in the Land of Fire…."
She huffed quietly and continued to move, side by side, along Tadashi, her eyes now scanning around for anything that may tip her attention. "Your a better sensor than I am, I will make sure to stop anything that may come our way unexpectedly,"
This sepulchral forest kept secrets from the mundane senses. The eyes were filled with visions of bone-fingered and thin limbed trees, their forms surrounded by shadows that danced within the thick, shifting fogs. The nostrils were clogged with the scent of death and decay, the kind only born of gory kills left in moist places. The ears were bombarded at turns with the sound of an opaque silence and the sound of a quiet, eerie hiss, always deep within the mists. But the higher senses attuned to chakra were untouched by this forest's veil. Wakako was getting near, unknowable by the sharingan only because the distance was too great, but it would only be a little more than 5 minutes before they reached where her chakra signature was coming from.
"Perhaps, though I imagine some will have an issue with air methods, not that is really matters what the sheep think," Tadashi says, a rather dark tone to his voice. "It is rather convenient that they will be the first to know someone is willing to stand where they will not." He gives a nod to her next comment, eyes narrowing a bit as he searches with his chakra sense to try to find anyone who might be in the area and aware of their approach.
With the foul scent coming to their noses, he would furrow his brows a bit. Something happened here… Well, what better creatures to mix in amongst the darkness of this forest than creatures made of darkness themselves. Swiftly moving through Hand Seals and then placing his hand on the ground to create a diagram of seals, he says, "Kuchiyose no Jutsu." A dozen of the dark creatures known as the Hitokage or the Children would then materialize from the shadows of the forest and begin to make their way forward to scout ahead and communicate back to him through the Crawler.
The thick smog of death which obscured there senses made it difficult to navigate…At this time she truly was depending on Tadashi's sensing abilities to point them in the right direction. Once the children had joined them amongst the shadows, Narusegawa had done the same. Nibbling on her thumb and thrusting down a hand, "Kuchiyose no jutsu…" Naru whispered quietly, suddenly summoning a fleeting amount of snakes to dance amongst the forestry. While the smell of the forest was permeating death, they snakes would be able to detect heat signature with a flick of their tongue. " I hope we find this… This chapter with the Yakuza needs to be finished once and for all…"
The Hitokage flitted through the forests, the summoned snakes of Narusegawa swift on their heels. For most of the transit, there was nothing found by either groups of scouts. But eventually they came to a place where the trees thinned and a compound could be seen through them. They were squat buildings and made predominantly of wood, grey but not of the lifeless trees around them. It was difficult to see very much from a distance with the dead forest in the way. But as they got nearer, they could see that the size might extend to that of a small village, the sight of a few men likely on patrol coming into view. Just how many there are and where they'd be, however, cannot be told by the snakes as the fog dampens the heat too much for them to be able to get a feel for signatures.
The big picture of the area grew increasingly clearer right up until the forest around the shadow beings suddenly burst into a series of powerful explosions. Carried by the force of those explosions are weighted wires with seals all along their length, heading towards the Hitokage to wrap some of them up and withdraw chakra from them. The flames and concussions scatter and kill the serpents that had accompanied the shadows. The scouting party thoroughly ruined any chances of a stealthy entrance, but they had done in their job in revealing the trap laid for any who'd come.
As the explosions ring out, the Hitokage caught in it would be knocked back a bit, some of them trapped in an incapacitating field of seals for the moment by the trap. "Huh. Perhaps I should've sent some of the corpses instead," Tadashi comments as he listens to the information being told to him within his mind by the Crawler. "The compound's ahead… Let's prepare to end these fools since we're already making a grand entrance, shall we? The Children will keep them busy for the time being." With that, he would perform the hand seals again, placing his hand on the ground once more. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu." This time, a much larger black figure would come into view behind him, reaching one of its massive arms to place a hand on Tadashi's shoulder. A sudden sense of otherworldy darkness would permeate around him as the form of the Hitokage summoned would shift to take on that of none other than the Crawler himself. "We shall snuff out all light in this city," its disturbing voice rings out in amusement as he looks down at him, knowing what he has in mind.
Meanwhile, the Hitokage that are not stunned would start to step out into the streets of the village to prepare to draw attention. One moves to place himself directly in the sight of one of the men, creepy white eyes surrounded by a body of darkness staring at him and attempting to force him to fall down in submission to gain the attention of the rest of the patrol so their focus will be on them rather than if someone else is coming.
With the compound up ahead, Narusegawa began to build up her chakra… The blood rage of her sharingan only darkened once her cursed mark began to spread about her flesh, just enough to cover her body partially rather than completely, she wasn't going to waste anymore energy until she knew just what exactly they were dealing with. "You plan to go directly in the command…. Let the children make sure no one escapes… I'm here to assure you success, while making sure no one else leaves alive…especially within the compound," Narusegawa spoke spoke softly while setting eyes on Tadashi…This power wasn't something she had witnessed before…was he corrupted? Such a thing didn't truly matter as of now.. She focused her chakra and prepared to do what needed to be done… On Tadashi's mark.
Just as Tadashi and Narusegawa were alerted by the explosion, so too were those within the compound causing everything to stop for the briefest of moments. And then alarms were lifted, shouts and orders being thrown about. People came rushing out of some buildings or rushing into of them, which was went in which direction generally dictated by who was armed. And perhaps the most important movement was that of Wakako's chakra signature, which moved further away. Deeper. Into the earth.
As a portion of the Hitokage rushed past the explosion ravaged treeline, there were men that met them. Though, they only did so with shock. It left them completely unprepared to defend themselves in any way, and they were promptly taken by the genjutsu. Cries of "What are they!?!" "What's going on!?!" and shouts for one god or another rose from men behind their assaulted comrades. And thus it was that all movement of the men stopped, inaction seizing them. But despite it being the size of a small village, the place was undoubtedly a military compound, very likely owned by the Yakuza. How long that inaction would last before training or self preservation or something more freed them was debatable.
"Do you remember when you helped me train in the Crawler's cave?" Tadashi asks as he looks to Naru, placing his hands in a seal as the Crawler does at the same time to gather natural chakra and disperse it to his body. As this chakra flows through him, his body would seem to tense up, muscles enlarging a bit as his fingers grow long and talon-like. While there are changes to his face, due to the mask, the only thing visible is that his eyes turn completely black, as hollow as those of the Crawler as he assumes his Sage form. His voice is suddenly much darker in nature as he says, "This is the result of that training, a new power that has helped me grow stronger and create new techniques that would not be feasible without it…. Try not to pay too much attention to what it says throughout the battle or you may get distracted. The Crawler likes to toy with his enemies to drive them mad enough to be off their game in combat… Even if most of what it says is true of its own personality, our deal is still in tact."
With that, he would grin slightly and reaching into his coat for a scroll, opening it to reveal a rather massive scroll that appears in his hand in its place. "Time to get serious," he says as he opens the binding on the scroll and sends it rolling out for what seems to be at least fifty feet. When he moves his hand into a seal, a puff of smoke that goes along the entire scroll would shoot up summon dozens of what look to be copies of Tadashi of various sizes, their eyes white like those of the Hitokage, each a bit different one like Naru with extreme perceptive abilities, some even showing signs of Kekkei Genkai such as crackling lightning, tar dripping from one's form, a dark cloak that flares up, and even one with some kind of light-blinking Kikaichu. Within a moment, the newly reraised army would charge down the path into the small village to join the Hitokage in the fight in a massive that immediately begins to attack physical alongside the dark Children who cast Genjutsu on man after man they come into contact with in hopes of basically rendering them useless in the fight with the feeling of submission that will carry them to their graves.
Through the battlefield, one can hear the voice of the Crawler channeling through the Children. "The Dark Guardian shall come and protect us… and all that is flesh and light shall die."
Narusegawa's power had reached it's current peak, and with Tadashi going all out she herself didn't need to push it any further. "So that…is what you were training for…" She could see his chakra, ominous and black, almost blinding…not…a void draining out the light. She kept her own chakra in check. With a draw of her blade she joined the fray, at least briefly, allowing the ignited edge of her blade spin as it was drawn, and to find it's glistening edge cleaving and finding the flesh of the nearest guardsmen. Her blade was trained to kill, a swift swing of her blade aiming for a clean beheading while the glare of her sharingan looked more intently at the compound ahead. " Don't be too reckless! There is an odd hint of chakra along the trees… a whole system! I would do my best to avoid them…Something about them could be detrimental…"
And suddenly, there was chaos.
The men, these were what they had been expecting, it was the sight of them that drove the Yakuza to return life to their limbs, shouting orders and running to meet them in battle. But it took so little time for them to learn that this fearsome foe was like none they had ever encountered before. These people who fought alongside those dark monsters didn't seem to be people at all. They were more like demons, some taking blows that no living thing should be able to survive, and not even seeming to realize it. And all of them… all of them looked mostly the same.
The aura of the fighting men was soon one of horror, pure and pervasive. The smell of putrid death began to be replaced by one of fresh death, blood and organs beginning to cover the ground as the many Yakuza did battle with the undying horde. Cries filled the air as a man's arm was simply torn off. Fear settled on the tongue and in the throat as another's skull was cleaved in half, turning their run into a morbid shuffle until they fell twitching to the ground. And none who stood before Naru knew the luxury of life for more than a moment longer. These men had nothing to combat this — They knew nothing of what they'd gotten into. So they died. And those not fighting for their lives began to attempt to flee from the slaughter.
And all the while, Wakako's chakra signature moved further down into the earth. Her horizontal distance would put her in the center of the compound. Below the main building, clear of traffic. It was no taller than any of the others, nor any bigger, nor any more important. As a matter of fact, there was a stench of unwashed flesh and ruminated terror coming from it. It was the prison of the place.
"I see," Tadashi says as he glances around at the trees while his army invades the village. "Good thing they're already dead. Ever wonder what happened to the corpses of all the bandits, Yakuza, and other thugs we kill? This is how they are recycled…. Wakako's signature is move lower. I'm guessing this has to be the work of an earth jutsuist. Let's move." With that, he and the Crawler would flicker to entrance of the village while the horde of undead and demonic presences continue to cleave the Yakuza down bit by bit.
"Who made you? Who crafted such slight, flimsy forms? You rip like insects in our hands."
With the arrival of their leader, the Hitokage appear to change their tactic up a bit. Rather than merely making the men freeze in fear before being ripped to shreds, they would instead attempt to force an illusion of an Iron Maiden being summoned around them and slamming shut to pierce them through in a horrific display for the undead warriors to rip them asunder. They seem to be carving a path through the crowd as they fight as well, trying to make a clear path of dead bodies for Tadashi and the Crawler to step over to make their way to the building Wakako's presence is under, the same illusion being used on any who would meet the Crawler's gaze before death. "We drink the sounds you give us. The cries of your young, the gurgle of a freshly ripped throat… We give you thanks for your desperation."
It was quite the onslaught, in actuality there wasn't much that Naru needed to do from above the ground, if anything Tadashi's army of the undead was strong enough to easily take care of it. With that in mind and her warning heeded, Narusegawa kept herself closely to Tadashi. While he flickered and reappeared at the entrance, Narusegawa splintered through like a flash of lightning, allowing the undead army pick out the fighting. " If we are going to get her we need to move quickly but smartly… We can't afford to lay ourselves into any traps…and we can't afford to level this place until we are finished with it… "
It is a massacre of the most grievous sort.
With the presence of the Crawler possessed Tadashi on the field, and his dementia toned words spoken to the graveyard in the making, the limits of the Yakuza members' minds were all stretched, and many to the point of breaking. Some of those who were directly threatened locked weapons in combat before they died, but most simply stared or fled as swiftly as their bodies would allow them to move. It was a ghastly image, that of the undead and the shadowborn dancing darkness to the tune of the screams of men viewing nightmares, having their bodies desecrated, or being mentally tortured by the feeling of thousands of spikes piercing them as the darkness envelops them. In all of the tumult, there isn't a truly clear path to the prison at the center of the complex. There will always be men running and being run down. But there is no opposition to the travel of the Order members.
"Agreed," Tadashi says with a nod as he surveys the battle around them. A quick pace would be taken toward the facility, the Crawler's gaze given to any who would get in the way, along with the help of any surrounding Hitokage to allow them to be immobilized and kept from being a hindrance. "Petals falling into the river. You are the flowers the children will pick and cast into dead water.) Meanwhile, any of the undead around would go to finish the job to get rid of them. Those attempting to flee would be pursued by the walking corpses, not allowed to break town line before being struck down if it could be helped. There will be no mercy shown this day for Yakuza or citizen in this village. "Are you thinking of your loved ones now? How you will never see them again?.. We will snuff out every last light, smother every breath from every mouth, and stop the beating of every heart."
If given no opposition going through the crowd still, Tadashi would check the door for traps upon arriving, making sure it is safe to go in and checking for chakra signatures inside before going to open the door.
The deeper they began to get promoted for Narusegawa to pause her her tracks, " Tadashi-san," Naru spoke out, hopefully to freeze him in his tracks as well. " I think it would be a good idea for me to wait near the entrance for now…Just make sure you come back in this direction… I will make sure you don't get closed in, and if you need an extra hand…I know you can find the means to contact me," Narusegawa answered up, hopefully he would understand that. With that said she began to take steps back to the entrance. "I will make sure no one comes, and no one leaves…"
Tadashi's steps would go unhindered and quickly find him at the door to the prison. The check for traps yielded nothing. The search for chakra signatures inside of the building did the same. Everything seemed clear for him to open the door, and once he found none of the traps the man had obviously expected might be present.
All of them had been saved for the open hatch and the stairwell on the other end of the prison lined hallway. Looking down it, one can see hundreds of seals and tags and trip wire filling the air between them by the light of the torch above it. Enough of them are explosive tags to be dangerous to more than just Tadashi's body. And one can assume that they extend downwards out of sight. Something of a taunt, perhaps, the blocked entryway lit by the one who'd fled down it with his captive.
While he is a little surprised to find that there are no traps leading into the building, Tadashi doesn't focus on that. He is focused on getting to Wakako… and wondering who the Yakuza have been butchering down here for it to smell like this. With Naru, the Children, and the undead handling things up top, he would begin to make his descent, something no man should really be prepared to go through unscathed under normal circumstances. However, thanks to a surgery he performed on himself, he is able to contort and slither his way around the wires down toward the bottom of the stairwell where he should finally Wakako waiting by this chakra signature he senses.
Tadashi's successful travel down the stairwell begins to lead him into darkness. The traps ran down for quite a long while for the fact that of the difficulty of setting them, but only the upper fifth, maybe smaller portion of the pathway was actually covered in traps. Eventually, there was nothing left but the occasional trip wire that the Order leader was able to circumvent.
The man's travels soon took him into the room that Wakako's chakra signature was being held in. The sight of it was preceded by its scent. As above, so below, blood and fear the overtones. It was a torture chamber, holding various instruments of the trade, a few ensconced torches leaving the room in pockets of darkness and light. And in one of those pouches of shadow stood the man who had kidnapped the queen, the both of their chakra signature's matching.
The kidnapper stood tall, maybe 6'2, his exact features shrouded by the dark. He held Wakako with a forearm around her neck, seeming to hold up her limp form by it. In that arm's hand was a kunai, tip held back against her neck. All it would take would be a quick, small jerk to plunge it into her throat. And if he did, noone would ever even be able to see the woman's final expression, hidden as it was by the bag over her head.
As Crawler Tadashi entered the torchlit entrance, he remained like this, his only shifting that of his widening eyes at the sight of him. It.
As he reaches the chamber, Tadashi would turn to look his wife's kidnapper in the eye, those black eyes seeming to stare directly into the man's soul as if he would try to reach out and consume it from his living flesh. "Death beats its wings for you," his voice rings out before another form of him would appear directly behind the man, going to place his fingers on his neck and move them in a massaging motion to make him fall asleep and in the process drop the knife from Wakako's neck. "Don't worry. I'm not done with you yet," he says, though that sounds more like something rather ominous than actual reassurance.
From the area above, one can hear the Crawler's channeled voice calling out, "You try to run away, but you are made of sand! You are coming apart between our fingers!"
The kidnapper's dark eyes narrowed as Tadashi's met his despite the shadows and he speaks words of comfort in tones of malice. His nostrils flared, breath beginning to go through them more swiftly, audible as fear and panic begin to rise beyond his ability to contain.
And then Tadashi's shadow clone touches a hand onto his neck, using chakra and massaging techniques to put him to rest. But as soon as he felt the touch upon his skin, his arm jerked to the side, making good on the threat implicit in holding the weapon where it was. The kunai tore through her neck in a spray of blood, and two bodies fell when his muscle lost its power.
Those black eyes widen as the man retains a lot more motor control through his fall than would have been expected. "No!" Tadashi growls out as his clone reaches to pull the mask off Wakako, the man quickly shifting through a set of handseals that create waves of Nano Chakra Scalpels as he runs over then places his hands over her for them to begin to close her neck and restore what was lost before she is able to lose too much blood. A massive wave of darkness intent begins to flood the room around him. If Wakako dies, this man will know what true suffering is…
The mask torn off of Wakako's head reveals that it is indeed his queen. Pale faced always, but unhealthily pale now. Her small nose and thin, straight brows, even still with hints of her blue eyeshadow left over. She must not have been allowed to bathe. Blood leapt from the wound in her neck like a burbling creek, the crimson ichor bubbling up and over her neck to begin their travel about the floor, adding their own mark to this dark place. She has been here. Given some of her life to the shadow.
But not all of it. Tadashi has gotten to the wound so shortly after it was created and his advanced medical ninjutsu soon sees the ugly gash closed as if it had never been, the bloodstains left behind to tell the story. But through the chakra sensing involved in the healing, he would also note that all of her vitals were subdued, nearly in a way that her kidnappers must be now. Sedated. Further examination, not much, would show that it was likely that she had indeed been drugged, which would explain her limpness upon Tadashi's arrival.
Once the wound is sealed, Tadashi would let out a sigh of relief, allowing Wakako to fall into the clone's arms, who would then pick her up and start to step back. Even a clone of him knows not to get anywhere near him right now. "Crawler," he says before the dark creature would materialize over his back again. "It seems T-Bonez is not the only person who's going to get our specialized treatment… Get ready." With that, he would step over to the kidnapper, retrieving a syringe from his coat that he would go to inject into the man's neck muscles, which, if successful, would immediately begin to cause extreme pain, along with leaving his body limp but him now awakened and having extreme hallucinations that are not helped at all by the Crawler's presence. "Where are the men you work for? I want to know everything you know about them, or your suffering will get a lot worse than it is now. Tell me what I want to know, and I'll give you a quick death."
The man's body never stiffens as the needle of the syringe is shoved into his neck, still under the effects of the sedation. Indeed, even as the chemicals course through his veins and the pain must have set in, all that could be heard was a slight, ugly gurgle. Perhaps using so many effective sedative techniques meant it would be a little longer before he could speak. Perhaps injecting him with something that'd cause hallucination, among other things, and in the presence of the Crawler had overloaded his mind to a point where it would be difficult to get anything coherent out of him, let alone what Tadashi had wanted to know. Or maybe he was simply dead. The fluids leaking from eyes, nose, ears and mouth seemed to suggest so.
"Ah, looks like this one took the coward's way out. Pity," Tadashi says, shaking his head as he looks down at the man. "I suppose we'll try this out another day… Have the Children keep some of those that are still breathing up top alive for questioning. I'm sure they've consumed enough souls to be sated for the day since we're going to be doing this more… And, if won't answer, they'll get to spend the rest of their lives behind the seal with the Children until they change their minds." Of course, between him and the Crawler, they both know he'd send them right back after they answered, but Wakako probably doesn't want to know that. Turning around, he would make his way back over to Wakako, going to pick her up himself and allow the clone to vanish. "I'm sorry, my love. I'd hoped to protect you from this sort of thing, but I hope this rescue makes up for it," he says as he holds, though not tight enough to disturb her sleep in this sedated state. "Let's get you out of this hole."