Date: December 11, 2014
Upon instruction from the Ferret elders, Team Sandstorm seek out and travel through a land close to death, an unkempt burial site. The team discover a spirit with a history with the cursed bow but also a creature who attacks it and the team.
"Shadows of Our Sins - The Dead Speak of Fear and Pain"
Land of Wind
On the advise of the Ferret Elders, Team Sandstorm sought a placed linked to death itself, and they couldn't have found a better place… and, perhaps, a worse one. As they move through the desert, they're, at first, greeted by the cold brightness of a bone here and the morbid grin of a skull there, but soon disjoined bones turn into full corpses scattered among the dunes, some blasted clean of skin and flesh, some still fleshy and tough, like coccoons of leather staring forever at the land that that killed them. The wind picks up a bit, and a myriad of airborne grains of sand sting at their skin wherever it's exposed, as if trying to turn, them, too, into eternal denizens of this ghastly place.
Sitting on Akiko's shoulder, Kotone is well-placed to notice something off about the bow, although beyond her instinct, there's not much to say. His attention drawn to the bow, however, Rikuto notices that there seems to be a weak chakra presence there, a vague glimmer of something stirring.
Walking along with the group, Tsuchi stares at the various areas about as they move. She squints against the oncoming wind and sand, only glancing back occasionally to make sure the others are ok. She then looks forward and states, "This has become an odd experience but I do hope it is worth it." She looks at a corpse in passing and then shakes her head as she pulls a cloth up over her nose and mouth, "Careful, everyone. Don't breathe in too much of this sandy air."
Akiko grumbles a bit as she makes her way to this graveyard Tsuchi found. "Sensei, Kotone keeps telling me the bow is making her nervous. There's something about it that really unsettles her, and it's not even active or anything. At least I haven't killed anyone…" She shakes her head a bit, looking to her companion. The falcon, though on the girl's shoulder, looks rather strained, like she wants to be somewhere… Anywhere but here. She uses her hitai-ate to block the sandy air, using it as a mask for now. "I can't figure out if this is a good idea or not…"
'Everything here is mostly dried out, well cooked by the sun. I wonder if this thing needs a fresh.. hmm?' Tilting his head to the side, Rikuto glances at Akiko for a moment before closing his eyes. Inhaling slowly, the young Miira closes his eyes and stops moving for a moment. "We should go closer to the fresher graves. It's starting to feel different, but, only barely. Need to have it become more different from Akiko-san still." Opening his eyes, he turns to Tsuchi and nods lightly, slipping his fingers into his collar line before pulling up a thin cloth normally reserved for trying to wade into sand storms, soon adjusting it over his nose and mouth.
The group wanders around more, greeted everywhere by the grisly sights of death. Occasionally,the presence of the bow's chakra grows stronger, only to fade away again as they continue walking. It takes them a while to find a path along which it not only grows stronger as they move, but also, eventually, grows strong enough for the bone to start moving with an odd, creaking noise. The face that has emerged on it still moves in sharp twitches, but the twitches grow more frequent, the motion more fluid, with every step Akiko takes.
A glance to Kotone and Akiko, Tsuchi hmms before shaking her head, "Kotone will just have to get over it. We can't let this simply go. We need to make sure this thing isn't a danger before we move any further forward." She then looks back at Rikuto before looking to teh bow itself. She spots the odd movements on it before she hears a creaking sound and looks around, "This…is…" Tsuchi hmms before she takes a step back and clenches a fist, "Be on your guard, we aren't alone here."
Moving along, the Hayato is just wary of stepping on a body. There's nothing she notices until there's a small creaking noise that comes from her bow. Akiko unstraps the bow from her back, and Kotone briefly hops off the girl's shoulder as she moves to study it. "Sensei! Rikuto-san! This one path seems to be… triggering something…" She moves further along the path she found, testing where this invisible guide might be until the face is moving enough that it looks like an actual human's face that's speaking. It is … very very creepy… So creepy that Kotone ends up flying over to perch on Rikuto's shoulder. "Thanks a lot, partner…" Akiko mutters, though she can't blame Kotone. She wants to get as far away from her weapon right about now…
+pose Rikuto continues to watch Akiko and the odd bow until a face begins to take shape from it. Moving his hands together, the young Miira begins to weave a set of seals before focusing onto it, attempting to see if he could ensnare it within a weak genjutsu as a test. The boy's attention and focus was fleeting as soon as Kotone perches onto his shoulder suddenly, retreating from Akiko and the bow.
Rikuto continues to watch Akiko and the odd bow until a face begins to take shape from it. Moving his hands together, the young Miira begins to weave a set of seals before focusing onto it, attempting to see if he could ensnare it within a weak genjutsu as a test. The boy's attention and focus was fleeting as soon as Kotone perches onto his shoulder suddenly, retreating from Akiko and the bow.
The genjutsu does nothing, which could either mean that, as the Ferret Elders deduced from Maki's findings, it isn't alive, or that it just doesn't use sight. Or even, if it doesn, that it can't react to the lack of sight. Its motion continues, unimpeded, though, to become more fluid until it's a coherent miming of speech. But that's not where it ends: the group continues until they reach a particularly large pile of bones, topped by two partially buried mumified bodies. The chakra signature grows ever stronger, almost on par with that of a Genin now, as they ascend this pile, carefully so they don't cut themselves on a bone shard.
On the top of the summit, the bone part of the bow appears to split apart, and a misty white form emerges, the form of an old man and a kind face, hanging in mid-air behind Akiko. He's dressed in a flowing, extremely old-fashioned kimono, one you'd expect someone to wear perhaps a few hundred years ago, at best.
A look at the area and Tsuchi frowns as she notes the growing apprehension of the others. She shifts slightly as she spots more death around them up until she blinks and looks back at the mist. Her eyes go a bit wide as she notices it forming together and then she takes a step back and glances to Rikuto before looking then instead to Akiko, "Akiko." She states and gestures, just in case the girl is too busy looking forward to notice.
Akiko continues to wander along with her bow, palings just a bit as it continues to move and 'speak'. "So creepy…" she mutters. When Tsuchi says her name, she glances back to her Sensei and then blinks at the apparition that's before her. "Wh-what the heck?" she exclaims, not realizing that there's some sort of damage to the bow.
"Hmm.." Looking around the graveyard, he stops for a moment when the pile of bones and mass is where Akiko begins to head. "..Akiko-san, I think we should stop. This isn't right. Everywhere else was flattened with winds and time." Rikuto's words were already too late and Akiko was already climbing the mass. Once she pauses and a clear unique chakra mass appears, the boy's fingers begin to fly into several seals preparing a fire technique, "Just what is that?!"
As Akiko turns around, the figure seems to float away from her a bit. With her body no longer between her bow and the figure, it becomes apparent the two are linked. The figure looks around, worried, fading out of and into view, but at the peaks of his corporeality, he seems more and more tangible. After a few of those pulses, it becomes apparent he looks quite a bit like the face that appeared on the bow. The figure turns around in mid-air to face the wielder of his bow, Akiko, and with a gently echoing voice, he finally speaks. His voice is as kind as his face, but now that he's more clearly visible, you can make out that he looks quite worried by something. "Hello. I'm not sure if you can truly see or hear me… I see you, barely… But, if you can, we, those who passed on, need help. Help against an enemy we have no weapons against. No recourse."
Looking to the area around, Tsuchi seems to try to see if there is anyone besides this spirit here, anyone controlling or creating it. She then glances back at the spirit, staring at it for a moment and then looking to Akiko and then to Rikuto. She hmms before looking back at the spirit. She takes a simple step toward it and then tilts her head, "Rikuto, don't attack." She states, "Spirit…we can hear you. I don't know if you can hear us but what is the problem? What is causing this? How is this happening?" She looks to Akiko then back at the spirit.
Akiko just stares at the figure for a bit before blinking when he speaks. "Ummm.. What kinda ho do you need, anyway? I mean… What Sensei said, too…" Kotone flaps from Rikuto's shoulder back to Akiko's, peering at the ghost.
At Tsuchi's order, the young Miira didn't act any further but he didn't relax any either, staying prepared. Glancing from the spirit to Tsuchi before then Akiko. "I.. I don't think this is genjutsu.. Just what kind of war can spirits be in anyway? Their dead. What can even harm them?" Muttering to himself, he adds on 'You can't die twice'
The spirit does appear to be originating from the bow, not some outside force. The spirit gives her a nod, then continues the description, growing every more material. "For a few weeks now, a dark force has appeared here. Not in the realm of the dead, not in your realm of the living, but between the two, in the border area." Now that he's almost entirely manlike, a monochromatically white figure with faint wisps of smoke leading to the split bow, the ninja can make out a minor detail: a triple line of grey across the back of his right shoulder, much like a claw mark. "It hunts us, those who've freshly died. It draws on our darkest desires, the evil that hides in almost everyone, and uses it to corrupt them, flaying away all that is good and consuming it, and leaving nothing but a dark shade, who hunt yet more of the recently departed to bring to it as it grows in strength." He turns to Rikuto. "It is truly a fate worse than death." For a moment, the spirit smiles sadly. "I should know… There is nothing we can do against him. We can't touch him without the darkness taking us. Slowly or quickly, it conquers us all."
A look at the other two and then at the spirit and Tsuchi hmms. SHe stares at this thing before she ponders and then taps her chin. She licks her lips before shifting back a step and glancing to the left and the right. She ponders, "THis sounds like…like perhaps the Crawler or even something to do with Yuuma." She looks over at Akiko and then to Rikuto before taking a breath and letting it out slowly. She licks her lips softly and then settles on a nearby rock and looks over at Akiko, "What do you think?"
Akiko looks confused. "It doesn't sound like Yuuma, but maybe the Crawler? If the Crawler does that sort of thing, I mean… I mean, I dunno how I'd be able to take it down, though… It's really strong, isn't it? I'd end up deader than dead if I chased after it…" She glances to the ghost. "Do you what it is, even? And it's something that only just appeared?"
Looking between Akiko and Tsuchi as they speak, the young Miira relaxes his hands and slowly begins to step forward, look up to the being for a moment before continuing to question it. "You can't get close, so you know where it is. It isn't part of your realm but you can effect it.. so we should effect it too.. Where was it last? What nation?" Looking away from the spirit, Rikuto moves his hand to a pouch, pulling out a book along with a pencil. Opening the book, he begins to write notes already, but then looks back to the spirit. "Tell everything about it.."
"I don't know this Yuuma, or this Crawler." The old man answers. "But, perhaps. It appeared recently. It's hard to compare time here and… there, but perhaps a month and a half ago, maybe two." He turns towards Rikuto. "'Nation'? There are no 'nations'. This is a borderland, a pace of passage. Space doesn't work the same way here. We can see, sometimes, if we're lucky, sense that it's near, and then we flee. We simply… flee. It appears… as a man, somewhat, cloaked in grey. His hands are claws, and he summons a black fire. It doesn't feel hot when you're near it, it seems to just radiate… suffering. Pain. Sadness…" He turns away, shaking his head. "He seems to wear a veil or a hood over his head, but it's unclear, like it's made of mist, tattered at the bottom. And red eyes…" As he speaks and everyone pays attention to the old man, they only now notice, out of the corners of their eyes, that from the greatest gatherings of corpses, a black smoke begins to emanate, quite reminiscent of the white the old man manifested from, apart from the change in colour.
A look over at Akiko and then to Rikuto and she hmms. Tsuchi listens to the old man and then states, "If we cna help you, we will." She nods her head and then she seems to twitch a little as she seems to sense something. She glances to the side as she notes that the gathering of dead seems to have something coming from it. Slowly she turns toward it and then blinks, "Old man, I predict you may be in danger…that we all may be. You should flee."
Akiko frowns. "Red eyes like sharingan?" she wonders aloud before noticing that there's something going on with the dead piles. "Umm… Should we get out of here too, Sensei? And can we talk to you again somewhere less creepy, mister? Cuz I really don't wanna come back here again… Wait, will you still be in my bow after all this?"
+pose Grumbling, Rikuto continues to make the notes but then looks up and begins to look around, humming to himself. "No nations, space is different.. This is annoying.. You can feel him or what you think is him." nodding to himself, he looks up and asks one final question, "Is there only /one/ of them or are there two? We might able to help, but we need to know how."
Grumbling, Rikuto continues to make the notes but then looks up and begins to look around, humming to himself. "No nations, space is different.. This is annoying.. You can feel him or what you think is him." nodding to himself, he looks up and asks one final question, "Is there only /one/ of them or are there two? We might able to help, but we need to know how."
The old man looks at Tsuchi in alarm. "In danger? Wha-" But as the other two continue asking questions, he feels he has to answer them, albeit in a hurried, stressed voice. "I'm not -in- your bow, but… I made it and I have some sort of link to it. I can remake it when it's joined to this place. His eyes are just these burning, red slits." He gets to Rikuto's questions next, even as the black fog around the group thickens and darkens, reaching out towards them and over them with tendrils of deepening blackness. "I'm sorry if it's 'annoying', bu-" The old man seems upset by the choice of words, but he doesn't get to finish his sentence: one of the tendrils lashes out for the claw mark of his shoulder, seeping into it, and the old man contorts, letting out a wheezing sound. His form wavers.
A look at the shadow and Tsuchi dances away, trying to get some distance form it and then calls, "Rikuto, Akiko! Both of you get away from that!" She nods her head and then looks to the old man and shakes her head, "We have to find a way to get it off of him."S he immediately makes a few hand gestures and attempts to kick a blast of wind right htrough the tendril attacking the old man in an attempt to blow it away.
Akiko squeaks, jumping back with her bow. She watches what might happen to the man, peering around at the different wraiths that appear. And since her bow is useless, she has to figure out another way to attack… Curses. With a handseal, she sends several explosive tags in the direction of the ghost-person.
+pose Starting to grumble when the spirits chides him over his words but then only to watch him get attacked, Rikuto quickly jumps away, trying to make his way over to Tsuchi while he shoves the journal and pencil away. Hastily, the boy forms a few seals and blows rapidly at the spirit. Rather than attack the spectre, the winds begin to wrap around it, trying to act as a barrier from the smoky tendril attacking him. "Hang in there!"
Starting to grumble when the spirits chides him over his words but then only to watch him get attacked, Rikuto quickly jumps away, trying to make his way over to Tsuchi while he shoves the journal and pencil away. Hastily, the boy forms a few seals and blows rapidly at the spirit. Rather than attack the spectre, the winds begin to wrap around it, trying to act as a barrier from the smoky tendril attacking him. "Hang in there!"
The apparition is yanked along with Akiko and her bow, and the dual blast of air attacks disrupts the tendril digging into his flesh, while the cluster of explosions keeps the next wave at bay. The tendrils grow in focus and strength, though, now becoming real enough to lash at the humans. The spirit, meanwhile, is still a half-faded mess, the blackness of the injury apparently digging deeper into him. He looks up at you and for a brief moment, despair is visible on his face. Then, he doubles over again.
The apparition is yanked along with Akiko and her bow, and the dual blast of air attacks disrupts the tendril digging into his flesh, while the cluster of explosions keeps the next wave at bay. The tendrils grow in focus and strength, though, now becoming real enough to lash at the humans. The spirit, meanwhile, is still a half-faded mess, the blackness of the injury apparently digging deeper into him. He looks up at you and for a brief moment, despair is visible on his face. Then, he doubles over again. Although the blasts kept them at bay, yet more tendrils snake towards the old man's weakning figure.
A glance left and then right and she rushes over to the ghost and creates a massive blast of wind upward with a couple of hand gestures while focusing her chakra. The blast of wind is powerful, and even as she causes it, she kicks up sand all over. She glances to the ghost and states, "You need to leave." She then looks around, "We all do."
Akiko flees with her bow, tossing explosive tags behind her as she moves. "Yep! Let's get out of here as quick as possible. Rikuto-san! Kotone!" she calls out, as the falcon had taken to the skies once more with all the ghosts about. She flies ahead of everyone for now, making sure the way is clear while Akiko sprints after her friend, occasionally glancing back to make sure everyone else is following.
Looking towards the spirit again, Rikuto presses his lips thin only to turn and widen his eyes as some of the tendrils chase after him. Hopping backwards he buys time to breath out quickly, forming a barrier of wind to keep the shadows at bay. Sucking in a second breath, the young Miira exhales after bringing his fingers to his lips, littering the air with orbs of flames, scattering them around the group. "Akiko, is he okay?" Looking back, he tries to make his way backwards towards Tsuchi while keeping most of his attention on the shadows.
Away from the pile they ascended earlier, the bow loses its link and the ancient spirit, still doubled over and ravaged by the blackness within, fades from view. However, whatever dark forces are attacking require the same sort of contact, it seems, and the tendrils, once fought off, can no longer reach the team, stretching fruitlessly at first, and then evaporating into nothingness.
A look back as they fade and Tsuchi shakes her head as she watches before looking to Akiko and then back up the hill, "I doubt this is over." She states and hten she takes a breath and aims where the tendrils last were and creates several hand gestures. Moments later, the very hair whips up into a massive sand devil at the level of a F2 Tornado. She whips it around the area, and shakes her head, "I hope that buys him time…if we can even still cause effects on that area." SHe hten turns, "Run." She nods to both, "And don't stop till we are out of the area."