Date: Unknown (log received November 6, 2013)
Time at the training grounds are interrupted with troubling news and the details of a mission that will lead to a perplexing find.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"The Silk Conflict - Kiri Encounter"
Land of Water
Meruin subtly loosens a shoulder as he walks.
The cold springs look to be his destination, that place of cold waters holding bone and blood, donations from the many of Kirigakure who choose the place to train. The two spiders adorning his arms clack their mandibles quietly as he approaches, the small dog sized creatures crooning softly to eachother, their bright colors stark against his pale, monochrome form.
It is warm this morning. Or as warm as this place ever gets. Summer has seen to that. But the warmth appears only to have made the mists adorning this place thicker, making it difficult to see even twenty feet ahead even before one even reaches the stairs. The heat is suddenly robbed from him as the everpresent breeze gives an abrupt gust, its tone one of ice and whispers.
But the Okumo pays no mind to that, not even seeing it as a discomfort. Having lived in Kirigakure the whole of his existence, it was an invigoration and a soothing both. A calm sharpening. And with the stairs into the pits looming, it could only prove a boon to him. It was time, now, to see make an appearance for those who trained within it. Time for him to love the shadows from a distance. Too remote, said the clan, for their desires for him. They wanted him to be more…
She had come here to train. When is Renai doing anything else? Her clan and her teacher both believe time is wasted by too much relaxation. And even periods of relaxation must be productive. Her green hair appears as a point of color within the mist, bobbing lightly as she climbs the stairs from the springs. Her eyes are intense as though focusing on something incredibly difficult and from the way her lips mouth numbers, it has something to do with mathematics.
Her eyes lift as she sees someone else, peering up at Meruin through her thick eyelashes. She pauses, pulling her feet together and offering the nin a bow. She doesn't say anything, but seems to stand at attention and probably will until he wanders off or tells her to relax.
It has been far too long since Kiyoshi last trained under his sensei. Or at least that is how the Moto percieved things. Regardless of what the case may actually be, Kiyoshi is nevertheless frustrated with how things seem to be. It is blinding. Distracting. He wanted — needed to be free of such distractions. He needed to be focused again. In an attempt to satisfy this need the boy left home at the earliest opportunity in search of a cure for what ailed him. The journey is rough, tiring in fact due to his insistent need to breathe only filtered and stay bottled up in a trench coat, and aimless as a result of no real plan being in mind. At some point he considered playing with Yuriko… but, the as soon as the moment passes the idea is dismissed.
Muttered words and heavy footsteps forewarns of Kiyoshi's arrival from north. Even once the other two Kiri shinobi are within visual range, Kiyoshi does not acknowledge either one of them. The ground seems to the boy's only concerns. That, counting from what little can be overheard. Unless another obstacle or a command is given, nothing else will keep the boy from continuing onwards towards the south.
Meruin's eyes, dark orbs carrying gently shifting mists of blue and purple, find the oddities in the mist's shifting before the girl whose passage is causing them comes into view. His stride doesn't change, balanced movements taking him closer even as he awaits they who were leaving their training grounds. And it was… An interesting find.
The Seven Sword, Doihara Ishino's apprentice. Touketsu Renai. He had yet to have the chance to assess her capabilities, only having seen her briefly on a few occasions. He inclined his head, murmuring, "At ease," to relieve her of her required stance even as he picked up on a subtle sound through the mists. Or rather… two.
He paused, turning back towards the entrance. That tread, the slightly muffled tone to the voice it narrowed the approach of one person down to a maximum of three people he knew and a plethora of people he did not. It turned out to be one that he was fairly acquainted with. Responsible for, even. Moto Kiyoshi, looking as though he felt as neglected as he had been.
Meruin let out a silent breath through his nose, mentally shifting the contents of his calendar to make the necessary room for him even as he looked to the ground just before him. Kneeling there, not a moment later, was a chuunin of Kirigakure, the woman extending a scroll towards him. "Okumo Meruin," she spoke. "You are required for an immediate mission." He takes the scroll as she speaks, opening it to examine its contents. "A convoy with military supplies has been derailed due east from the Koumorite village by an explosion. The convoy leader's son, age seven, has vanished in the commotion. Kirigakure requires an immediate pursuit."
Meruin lifts his chin slightly, eyes on the scroll.
The Touketsu girl relaxes slightly, her eyes resting on Meruin and taking in his appearance. So creepy. She'll never get over it. It's not the spiders. It how they become what they are.. or well what she understands of it from Sei's perspective. His attention shifts and so does hers to spot Kiyoshi. Her mind reels as she flips through her mental database of faces to remember if she had met him before. Some of the cards in her index have been a bit torn and crumpled so maybe? Seeing a whole lot of people lose their lives up close and personally seems to have pushed some things out.
Her head turns back at the sound of the chuunin. Renai's eyes widen at the news. She bites her lower lip, mental calculations forgotten. Her heart thumps a little harder with worry and anticipations as she looks from Meruin to the chuunin. Will he take them since they are here? Could they even help with something like this?
Kiyoshi ear twitches at first upon hearing his sensei's name. Gradually, he slows down to a stop. His suspicions and curiosity having weighed him down to the point that he could go no further without putting the latter to rest at least. It takes a minute or so before Kiyoshi can recognize the shapes in the distances as people. He wanted to kick himself a moment later upon recongizing one of those blurs as Meruin. For the time being he settled on simply blaming the mist, though the blame largely fell upon genetics and persona, and wandered over to see if Meruin might have the cure he had been searching for.
"Meruin-sensei," He says evenly once all that remains is a meter between him and his teacher. Although the sole focus of his attention seems to be the Okumo, the gas mask hid what really grabbed his gaze: the scroll. If it is a mission, then that mayhaps be what he really needed.
"Moto Kiyoshi. Touketsu Renai."
Meruin examines the scroll for a moment longer but soon closes it, turning to looks towards Kiyoshi in particular. "You did not hear those words." He held out the scroll for the chuunin kunoichi to take.
The mission had been given to him in particular, and there was no mention of there being a team gathered for the mission. And since it was given to him, it would likely be a mission that was a bit too advanced for the two unestablished genin.
"And you will refrain from hearing the words that come next," he spoke as the chuunin took the scroll back, inclining his head in clear dismissal to her. She took it, bowed her head with a simple, "Sir," and vanished, a brief tunnel in the mists heading over the edge of the cliffside the stairs are carved into. The Okumo immediately starts walking back towards the entrance of the cold springs and the village at large. And to the others.
"You will have precisely ten minutes to reach the gates, mission ready."
Renai's eyes harden as he tells them they did not hear certain words. The sorta-joke is lost on her as most sorta-jokes normally are. Her gaze follows the chuunin as she leaves and then her eyes turn upward to Meruin. Urgency radiates through her being. They have to go /do/ something.
Ten minutes to reach the gates. How is he just walking? Renai glances out of the corner of her eye to Kiyoshi and she breaks into a sprint, darting up the stairs three at a time until she can make her way down the cobblestoned path back toward the village. It's not the pride of getting there first, even if she could, or just getting a mission. There is someone who needs her. And this is her job description. It's her way of life.
Kiyoshi inclines his head, disappointed but unwilling to make a fuss over something that isn't worth arguing over. Meruin would pay later for his transgressions, of course. "Huh?" He double blinks in suprise. Did he just hear Meruin correctly? From the way Renai ran off without another word the truth is obvious. Unlike his fellow shinobi, Kiyoshi refused to bound off without another word. There were far too many variables to trust at face value. Then again he might just be overthinking things again.
"Mer-…" He starts to say, only to cut himself off. The youth knew the elder male better. If there was more it would have been said. If there was room for discussion he would not have walked off. Kiyoshi takes a deep, slow breathe, restoring frayed nerves before taking off after Renai. He may not trust the orders given, but he would carry them out regardless.
As Renai and, soon after, Kiyoshi take off towards the village entrance, Meruin arches a brow slightly. It appeared that the two were either immediately prepared for a mission or they were wreckless in their haste. He would see once he reached the gates and judged the expressions on their faces and read the language of their bodies. Whatever the case was, he would act appropriately. At the very least, they knew time was of the essence.
And it was this that he kept in mind as he knelt, the spiders on his shoulders finding their way to the ground now that the others were out of sight. Silently, he reached out and slid a finger along the stiff haired leg of one and then the other. And a moment later, they gave sounds akin to hollow whoops of breath before vanishing together into the mists. And that done, he vanished himself.
Soon, very soon, he would be standing at the gates by the guard outpost. He rapped his knuckles against the stone to get their attention, knowing full well that they should have already sensed him, and said, simply, "Team of three, immediate departure, unknown return time. Have a medical team on standby at the medical center." And then he stepped away, looking to the front.
Already, the two genin were in view. He raised a hand and gave the signal for a forward march, turning around. They wouldn't have the chance to stop as he'd immediately begin running forward, expecting them to catch up and keep pace. Though, he didn't appear to be moving at a hasty pace. Indeed, his stride was long and his pace steady, for the simple fact that, "We shall be running for a fair distance. Approximately an hour and a half at this pace. You must be combat ready at the end of the run, so do not overtax yourself. If you find that you do not have the stamina to make the run and fight afterwards, tell me. It will be more prudent for me to carry you partway." He took to the trees once they began cropping up a decent distance from the village, using it for more efficient travels.
Renai's eyes are focused on the scene ahead. Meruin is there. She smirks. Of course, he is. He must be incredibly fast. She sees his hand motion forward. Don't stop then, Renai. He has already informed the guards. She breathes steadily, pacing herself with the counting of her steps. She catches up and stays a few strides behind, just close enough to listen to her leader's words. The green-haired girl emits a firm, "Hai," with an exhale and immediately goes back into her rhythm.
Her head turns as she creates her pace for the long run, turning to look for Kiyoshi. She sort of just left him.. which she belatedly feels a little bad for. That's Renai for you. All business, no social manners. She is far too serious for her own good. Regardless of whether he is keeping up, beside or behind, she would take in that information and file it away. Every moment that child is gone is another moment he is in danger. She cannot let herself be distracted by getting to know someone or making herself tired. Time, of the essense it is.
Kiyoshi is an over-thinker. In order to ensure that he did not deviate from the path in an attempt to follow some errant idea, the boy had to split his mind between following the route to the gate with the least resistance and evading any and all obstacles along the way. Any opportunity he may have had along the way to gather supplies is, as a result, ignored. Thankfully, he still had the basics in hand, though supplies were limited to what could be fit into a back-up pouch. It would have to be enough.
Kiyoshi attention zeroes in upon the awaiting Jounin. No suprise really. Just a reminder that he still had a long way to go. Longer still, considering the fact that Renai has been in the lead the entire way there. Not that that matters. Knowing Meruin as he did, Stamina above haste would end up being essential despite the terms of the mission. "Hai," The Moto replied evenly, hardly winded by the sprint. Afterwards he is off at the tail end of the squad. From that point Kiyoshi would remain quiet up until the half hour mark. At which point if Meruin or Renai (incidently) has not already answered the questions that began to plauge his mind, Kiyoshi would ask, "Meruin-sensei… Is there.. uhm… What are your suspicions?"
By the time the half hour mark hit, the trees would have thinned considerably, leaving the leaps between the branches greater arcs than they had been before. The reason why would be fairly obvious as the soil holding them got more and more grainy and less amenable to plant life. As Kiyoshi asks his question, Meruin slips down to the ground, judging it to be a better use of resource to simply run rather than try and leap between the boughs of the trees.
"My suspicions," spoke the Okumo, "Are very many. As it should always be. You consider every angle that you can. Taking the most likely, however…" He gives an obvious scan of his surroundings with a sweep of the head, more for the sake of reminding the others to be alert than to scout in so blatant a manner. The sands they ran over shifted and crunched beneath the feat, grass rising from it. Up ahead the chill river can be seen. There are the occasional forms of people but none of suspicion.
"The very most likely is that the boy simply bolted when he'd gotten scared and hidden himself. They are in a somewhat dangerous area, forest, and near the Road of Fear, so it is very likely that he has not been found because he has been killed by something. Otherwise, someone likely took the boy. And why that would be the case, I could only further speculate. It can swiftly become counterproductive, concocting plots that do not exist. They can cloud the facts."
Renai continues with them, silent. She has her speculations but she has kept them to herself. She can't judge a situation properly without seeing evidence, the area where is all happened. She still might not be able to figure out anything unless it's blatantly obvious, but she tries to not speculate. It leads to false expectations.
Her eyes glance about as they travel, taking Meruin's hint to stay aware. Anything could happen at any moment. It is always best to be prepared. Her eyes roam over Kiyoshi again as she studies the area around them. That he asks questions is a good thing, the girl thinks to herself. Questions are good. She lets her mind fall back into the focus of her breathing and pace, calculating silently whether she will make it or not. She's pretty sure that she will be alright and still be able to fight.
Kiyoshi transfer from the treetops to the ground is nowhere near as smooth as the others. He hits the ground rolling though, and still manages to recover in time to catch back up with the others. Mostly. That embarrasing moment aside, the vast majoriety of what Meruin say is still picked up. He merely missed the cue to keep a closer eye on their surroundings without drawing attention towards their intent. "Huh, S'pose that makes sense." He frowns and starts to incline his head in thought, but mid-way he catches Renai's glance. It may be rude to stare and probably a dumb idea to let his attention wavered, but Kiyoshi still keeps his attention focused more upon her than anything else. Serious. Quiet. Straight-forward. These things he gleaned from sizing her up and the past hour. The information is disatisfying, to say the least.
Meruin lets the travel fall back into silence, the question of what was going on answered as well as it was going to be until they reached their destination and investigated this business a little more thoroughly. The terrain turned from one of sand and nearby oceans to a place of thicker grasses and a strong and steady river. Soon, trees began to crop up until they were once more moving through a forested area and leaving the guidance of the stream behind. The trees here were smaller, all of the foliage a bit more stunted than it had been further inland, suggesting that they were near the Koumorite village. And indeed, one could sometimes see the bare skinned and odd featured head of one of their people watching from the trees, a sentry for the village. But allied as they were, they went unmolested.
But as interesting as the journey was, "We are nearing our destination." Meruin traveled through the trees in lead of the team once more, looking around. "We travel to where the caravan was derailed but we're entering it's proximity now. Keep your eyes open for signs of anyone's passage, for signs of blood or a struggle — anything suspicious. It may lead us to the boy. Take care. Remain vigilant. Tread lightly. There are dangers here regardless of whether or not the boy was truly abducted." And indeed, there was little about him that did not seem tuned into his surroundings, the pace not slowed to allow for easier examination. As noted, time was of the essence. They would simply have to do what they could.
Renai studies the terrain as they travel. She purses her lips, trying to look for a detail out of place which is difficult for her to do while running. Even this far out, there might be some sort of clue, but she can't pick up on it yet. The girl stays as near to Meruin, or as near as she dares, feeding off his greater experience to hopefully balance her lack of training.
When he mentions that they are nearing the destination, she folds her hands, focusing as much as she can while she runs. Then immediately, the genin sends a pulse of chakra into the ground, using it to sense for threats. Whether or not she'll discover anything, she doesn't know. But it's worth a try. If she can pick up on the child or maybe someone running..
Renai turns her head to Kiyoshi, wondering to herself if he has picked up on anything or not. So far, the Touketsu has yet to formulate any opinion of him. She never does until she sees a person in action.
The changes in terrain — while spread out far — remain jarring enough to force Kiyoshi's focus back to his surroundings. For the time being the boy settled for the wait and see approach, hoping that that would be enough. It would probably be… troublesome, if his suspicions about her heritage were true.
An easier task said than done. After the last two slip up the boy has improved. But the insant he let his gaze wandered to Meruin, and then to the Kuomorite Sentry, the boy's attention becomes wrapped up in gleaning as much as he could as they passed by. "Strange," He murmured absent-mindedly, wondering not for the first time just how much life has changed over the past two years. For a moment there he drifts back into reverie, but the instant Meruin speaks up, Kiyoshi snaps to attention. A silent promise is made to put a greater effort into the mission from that point on. "Hai, Meruin-sensei." And on that note, Kiyoshi starts to slow down (or walk if that is deemed acceptable) and pulls up the gas mask until it is comfortable set atop his head without fear of it falling off in transit. Senses free know to take everything in, Kiyoshi follows Meruin's example to the best of his ability.
He senses something…
Meruin comes to a stop, pupiless eyes locked onto the ground below. He'd remained in the trees because in the state he was in — a heightened state used by the average hunter shinobi — he didn't need to be on the ground to see the clues that lay on it and the higher ground was the more easily defensible ground as well as more suitable towards remaining hidden.
He looked back to the other two, examining the genin and nodding. They'd both been searching and they'd both found… something. He could not say what. But he himself had found something as well. A disturbance creating a clear trail. Scattered and battered brush and the like. And more than that, the scent of urine. He was too new to the sense of smell to tell if it was human or something else, but with it here, it was very likely to be the boy's. It looked as though he or someone or something else that had decided to pee itself had been dragged along the ground.
But there were no discernable footprints of the one doing the actual dragging, which was… exceedingly odd. Whatever the case, the trail spanned between the trees to the west and the direction the caravan had been in. Which meant that it was very likely to the west. And looking that way, he could see an odd… it was the slightest bit lighter in that direction than here.
"Care," spoke the Jounin to get the attention of the others, raising a hand to make hand sign for 'caution.' And then he started westward to investigate, moving silently along the branches.
Immediate input. Renai could feel the vibrations they made as they ran like a thundering. She wiggles her nose a little. That alone is cloaking everything else. She needs to better learn how to read past it or teach everyone she could possibly know how to never make a sound. She tries to focus. Maybe some sort of animal den. Renai blinks, her eyes shifting to the right briefly and then straight ahead. Something is coming from behind. She can feel it faintly, but those vibrations are getting stronger and more within her field of sensing. "Meruin-sama.."
Her words are cut short when Meruin stops and she takes the moment to skid to a halt. Slightly out of breath, Renai pivots rather suddenly on her feet and slides behind a tree. She moves around it so she can see whatever is coming, her hands moving up against one another, ready to perform seals if necessary. She keeps a mental note-the best she can- of Kiyoshi and Meruin so she doesn't lose herself or them out here.
What was sensed were tracks. Drag marks specifically if he had to guess, but seeing as how he lacked the experience of a hunter-nin or a just a plan old hunter for that matter the answer remains inconclusive to him. That aside, curiosity gets the better of Kiyoshi. Leading him a short way from the others as he examines the tracks.
Leaves that adorn the forest floor have been scattered some. There are bent and broken twigs and stems in bushes and small foliage. The trail curves, heading to the left and heading to the front. So either whatever made the trail came from the left and headed in the same direction the group is moving now, towards where the caravan derailed, or they came from that direction and headed down that way.
Kiyoshi draws to a stop, straightened out, and "hmm'd" thoughtfully. When Meruin warns them, Kiyoshi only briefly regards his sensei before returning to the tracks. The silent command is only glimpse, but a glimpse is all that is needed to get Kiyoshi to careful wind his way along the tracks without distrubing them too much. As he looked up with the intent to motion for Renai to do the same from the ground level, he notes the position she takes up. Confused but wary, Kiyoshi mimics her to the best of his ability, heart racing now in anticipation. Did whatever 'attacked' the caravan trick them as was returning?
In a barely hidden glade stands a tall, broad shouldered person in a nearly fully encompassing black cloak. Head and face covered by the hood, the black shroud flowing down until its hem brushes the ground itself, every bit of them is hidden but for a single hand raised over the head of the small, very pale boy that sat at their feet. That hand betrays the olive tone of the cloaked person, the hue nearly too green to be naturally occuring in a human being. And the boy only shivers, open mouthed and empty eyed, otherwise unmoving as he stares at the azure glowing palm hand to the sound of the dark cloak's ominous intonations.
"Al-basra, no-zglul… Al-basra, no-zglul…Al-basra…"
Meruin spares a glance back to the pair, guards raised and parts of their attention elsewhere. But it is only a moment, whatever thoughts are sifting through his mind leading him to simply look back ahead and continue on. Perhaps he thought their wariness unfounded. Perhaps he simply trusted them to deal with whatever could come. Or mayhaps he already knew what it was that had them looking back the way they had come from.
Regardless, it led him to move forward overtop the branches and find the sight of one of the dark cloaked figures that he'd heard of. And it had the boy. The Okumo didn't know what it was doing precisely, why it was chanting, or under what jutsu was its palm glowing, but he did know that his mission was to save the boy and that was precisely what he intended to do. He vanished to reappear behind the cloaked person, reaching for an arm and the back of the neck to attempt to whirl him bodily and throw him into a tree away from the boy with enough force to shatter the body of an average man. But for whomever this was…? Likely shinobi trained. It only remained to be seen.
Renai looks back to Meruin as he moves away. That whisper of chanting noise farther down the trail unnerves her. Biting her lip, the kunoichi turns back to face the south, her body tensed and ready to attack and intending on covering Meruin as he deals with the other figure. It's getting much nearer, but isn't quite in view yet. She /thinks/ he has it under control, but her ears are open in case she should need to assist. Her head turns slightly to gauge Kiyoshi's position in case she should need help. Even if this thing turns out to be strong, it would be better to face it here and give Meruin more time than to have it barge in and surprise everyone, depending on what it is.
The seconds ticking slowly drove Kiyoshi to what felt like the brink of insanity. Absent-mindedly he kept clenching and unclenching his hands, scratching the tree inadvertantly. Thankfully the boy retains enough wits about him to note the subtle sound and quit before attention is drawn to him. Or so it is hoped. Warily, he peeks around the tree to see how Renai was faring. Then, as an afterthought he looked towards the tree tops to gauge Meruin's reaction. The only problem is the fact that the Jounin is gone.
Panic races through him, exciting every nerve and organ 'sensitive to feelings' along the way. Once more he passes the 'test' of resolve and harness that same resolve to remain still and focus. Even when faced with worries about the chant on the wind, he remains. Ready, relunctant, but able to back Renai up since it seems that whatever had her spook was still on its way. A firm nod to her is given when she looks back, confirming the boy's intent.
The cloaked figure's chanting came to an abrupt stop as the back of its neck and its hand were abruptly grapped, and then it was flying. Those too green hands reached for Meruin as he was sent flying but reached only air, the effort much too late. Instead, it soon slammed into the tree he'd been launched into, body horizontal and striking with enough force to partially wrap around the trunk. They fell to the ground with a heavy thump… And they were still.
But only for a moment.
After that moment it rose in an effortless fashion, coming to a stand without the use of its hands, nearly as though pulled from an outside force. The cowled head turned towards Meruin and a green finger was pointed his way. "Firaya…" was the whisper that pervaded the glade, sliding through the trees to reach even the genin that had remained out of view. Before that finger, fire bloomed, coalescing into a ball of writhing flames before flying towards the Jounin that'd tossed it.
Meruin stands between the collapsed boy and the cloaked figure as they fall to the ground, fully prepared to defend the boy against further attack but keeping his senses extended to what else could have been around. Soon, though, the figure makes his abrupt stand and points to him. Meruin gives a mental click of the tongue at that. It seemed that they were more than the average person. They seemed fully unfazed by that assault, standing fully upright.
The whisper that spread through the area set his senses off. His sense of danger. His paranoia. And soon the reason for it manifested as a fireball coalesced without the preemptory handseals, soon sent streaking in his direction. The Jounin vanished from before the figure…
And reappeared in the boughs of the tree above the two genin with the unconscious boy in his arms. He'd been in the line of fire and it was too dangerous to leave him in the area. "Moto Kiyoshi." He held the seven year old over the genin down below. He said only the words, "With your life," before letting him fall and expecting Kiyoshi to catch him. His gaze turned back towards the direction of the glade and the figure.
Renai blinks at the cat. Wow.. that's a big feline. It comes into view slowly, a dark creature of 6 feet, at least, in length. It could probably swallow each of them in two bites. Now that's just your mind exaggerating. So far, it has yet to attack, but the way it's coming for them sort of freaks her out.
The girl folds her hands in a seal, attempting to assault the mind of the great cat. She could maybe attack it with earth jutsu and be more effective. But with this, maybe it will get confused and run away? Unless it's more than it seems. Renai is rarely that surprised by anything anymore.
Kiyoshi tensed. "Firaya..?" The answer to his question comes swiftly as a wave of heat, drying him inside and out. Try as he might, Kiyoshi cannot completely hold back from coughing. The instant his full name is stated the boy goes on the defensive and looks to the left and right before setting his gaze higher.
"Sen—" It is all that leave the youth's mouth before their uncouncious second objective is dropped on him. If not for his reflex and strength the drop would've ended much worse. As things stand however Kiyoshi just barely manages to maintain stability. The uncouncious boy now in his arms is only spared a quick once over before Kiyoshi's gaze returned to Meruin. It lingers for an extensive moment. So many things that could be said. So many things that could be done. Why did Meruin entrust the life of the kid to him?!
Kiyoshi felt betrayed.
A small nod is given in understanding nevertheless. Then he turned away, begrudingly fully accepting in taking that first step away, that Meruin had trusted him. That he had faith in his student's abilities. It is a hard pill to — "Mmmrrrgh… This just ain't right." He stated testly upon spotting the big feline now blocking the main way back. A quick glance to Renai hints at her engaging it in some way, but until it made a move he did not trust it not attack him for acting pre-emptively.
A sudden hiss moves through the trees.
The cat. Not the figure. It had obviously been hit by the chakra pushed onto its mind by the touketsu and the surprised creature was… dragging. it let out a fully developed roar now as it steps began to drag, paws sliding through the grass and dirt. Panic and confusion set into the animal, tail whipping in jerks that swiftly grow weaker and weaker until they're just flicks of its length. Moving slower now, the black furred cat can be seen to be closer to eight feet long, perhaps… just barely nine. Nonetheless, it has been cowed by Renai's assault, left only to struggle to move forward, sides heaving in quick, fearful breaths.
"Sssssalasar…" Another whisper, wrought with power, slipping through the trees.
The figure seems to coalesce out of shadows beside Meruin, striking out with a swift arm aimed at his head. And just after connection — or missing — the shadows whipped to the ground between Renai and Kiyoshi. But it's back were to the child holding the younger child, facing the touketsu. He pointed to her and spoke the word, "Raido," before lightning crackled from that green fingertip, streaking towards her.
Meruin's body tensed slightly just before the shadows coalesced into the figure that had launched the fireball at, reacting to the whisper that'd moved through the forested area. As the arm moved towards him, the Okumo moved backwards away from it, reacting in tune with it. He let its threat guide him backwards, never touching it and yet pushed by it until he moved into a backwards roll along the thin branch he stood upon, hands and then feet soon landing securely atop its wood. And then the figure was gone, down below.
As lightning flew from its fingertips his eyes narrowed slightly. That's fire and lightning, as well as some kind of, perhaps, shadow affinity displayed. It showed a definite versatility, but abilities about on par with high level genin. This was definitely an odd encounter and one that he'd have to eek as much information as he safely could out of it. An arm lashing out towards the figure soon vanished as a flood of spider silk burst from it, streaking downwards to envelope them.
She looked up to the person right as the word was said. The kunoichi's hand seals move to try and alter the perception of her and she takes a step back, pivoting as though she's going to dodge, but she is just a bit too slow. That and the movement of the attack makes it confusing. She shrieks as it grips her, searing through the very fabric of her body and making her heart jump. The girl sways a bit, but she forces herself to focus. No.. must keep him from attacking Kiyoshi. The Touketsu girl directs the same genjustsu to him that she used on the cat, once and then again, hoping her efforts will bring him to his knees. She'll deal with this pain later. The boy must be gotten back to the village, not only for the sake of his family, but so they can study him and know what's going on. It's important.
Confusion flits across Kiyoshi features at the sight of the big feline being dragged along the ground. Confusion gives way to suprise before the former can even be processed. A direct result of a shadow figure landing between him and Renai.
»Get… Away… Geki…«
Kiyoshi cannot obey the voice from within because something akin to fear has it grip on the boy; paralyzing him. It is a struggle just to keep from trembling. The air, it has to be some type of toxin? Right!? He grits his teeth and crouches down. Logically it would be best to let Renai remain the distraction and run while he still had the will to even move. A rumbling could be heard from within, growing louder with every passing moment. Another growl accompanies it, only this one is from without. Charge. Heart and body were as one on the matter, but ultimately the mind wins out and forces him to retreat from immediate sight for now. He could run and probably should. But, can he really be certian that the figure had allies waiting for just that chance? Or for that matter, can he maintain control long enough for reinforcements to aid him that case?
The figure is enveloped by Meruin's silken cocoon, the webbing sliding over him with a consistency of a near liquid. It begins struggling out of it even as Renai begins assaulting it with genjutsu. But for some reason, her genjutsu doesn't seem to take hold very well, almost as though her chakra were being drawn away as it came into contact with the figure's chakra system. Soon it was free of the webbing, not looking at all tired by the effort despite Renai's genjutsu and the draining aspects of Okumo silk.
It pushes a hand towards Renai, moving towards her, never even appearing to notice Kiyoshi and speaking the word, "Jalil!" as though it were a command. "Jalil!" A symbol of some kind, glowing and pure energy, sped from its palm towards Renai. And then one towards Meruin. They were green, but that swiftly changed, as they darkened to a solid red. And then they exploded.
As the glowing symbol shot towards him, darkness covered Meruin's skin, black chitin immediately adorning the whole of his body. When it turned to red and exploded, his hair whipped backwards and the smoke briefly blinded him, but he was left unharmed and the smoke was quickly dispersed by the explosion's own energy. The Jounin continued to test the cloaked one, the silk of the robes at his chest bursting open and releasing a sudden flurry of shuriken. He whips out his arms sending a pair of shuriken through the cloud of them in a path that struck each of them, sending them ricocheting onto the cloaked one at different angles, none of which should put Renai into any danger of being hit.
What is this draining sensation? The kunoichi takes a step back. It was weird to feel something pull her genjutsu chakra from her like that. Renai's seals change as she sees the emblem. She doesn't know what it is, but she doesn't want to be touched by it. The girl starts to form a dome of earth, but it's behind the wall before she can complete the jutsu. The tag explodes and she's left a moment later kneeling several yards away, crispy.
The genin breathes heavily and looks up to the scene unfolding. She doesn't feel helpless in this situation like when the building fell, but she doesn't feel strong either. Think, Renai! Don't just attack. Her eyes immediately start to move to try and find Kiyoshi. Did he make it out? She forms a seal, sending a fresh pulse of chakra into the ground in her attempt to find him.
The cloaked figure begins to move to avoid Meruin's assault, but each of the shuriken end up embedded in its body before the backflip it performs is completed. But they make no sound and bleed no blood — no reaction to the weapons at all, not even taking time to remove them from its form as it vanishes. Shadows appear around Meruin, coalescing into what seems to be… clones of the figure and they reach for the Jounin as shadows come together in another tree.
Its head abruptly turns towards Renai as she sends a pulse of chakra into the ground, performing her search. "Firaya." Two hands thrust forward and from a blitz of small balls of flames shoot towards Meruin and the further distanced Renai, the balls exploding on contact with anything.
As the shadows raise up around Meruin, the Jounin slips from the tree branch and grasp of the clones before diving to the side to avoid the explosive balls of flame. He lands in a smooth roll, successful in his evasion of them, and immediately travels at a run. Through the trees for the small amount of time it takes him to reach Kiyoshi's side.
His hands extend. "Give me the boy. Approach the figure. Do not attack."
Immediate input. Them. Us. The cat and that creature down the road. Renai opens her eyes, seeing the incoming fireball. There's.. something.. else in the ground. And it isn't dirt.
Did she already move? There seems to be no other explanation for what happens. The attack would, to the attacker, seem to be oddly pulled to the left and away from the very still image of a smoking Renai. Then her feet can be heard moving. The genjutsu technique fades and she isn't there. She's with the sound of her feet, having created a head start for herself to run for her life toward where she thinks Kiyoshi is. "Meruin.. Meruin.." The girl pants, needing to get his attention. She stops next to Kiyoshi and the jounin. Her finger points down. "Something.. It doesn't feel right."
It was a good plan, roughly a great one at that since it involved higher ground and remaining out of sight. The only problem came from the recklessness of their adversary's attack. Kiyoshi watched mutely as the battle progressed with the boy at rest in the space between tree branch and trunk, and his body hovering partially protectively over the boy. All it would take is one mistep, one too many rogue explosion near the tree he perched upon to bring it tumbling down; leaving both genin and objective exposed.
A leap of faith, both literally and figuratively, sends Kiyoshi back to the earth. Bushes tremble to the left of Renai before being slightly parted to reveal the bottom edge of a gas mask. "Touketsu-san, switch with me." It isn't a request, but a demand. Being so aggressive may cost time. Nevertheless, the injuries he noted Renai sustained were stacking up far too quickly too much for him to just sit back and ignore. Not to mention the fact that sleeping beauty in his arms was starting to thread him off.
If the switch is succesful, Kiyoshi would only request directions to the disturbance Renai sensed before making his way to the outer edges of the fray. Hopefully, far enough to keep from getting Renai caught in the crossfire too.
If not succesful, well, what choice did Kiyoshi have except to silent fume in the bushes?
A successful switch?
Not quite. The figure wouldn't be idle long enough for such a thing to take place. It wasn't very long after Renai's vague explanation, time bought only with her intuitve tactic, that the figure landed within sight of the three. A deep intonation came from them as they extended those too green hands once more.
There was a spark. A crackle. Then a whoosh, a large sphere of fire launching from those hands and centered on Meruin and Renai. Of course, with their proximity to Kiyoshi, there was no doubt that he and the boy would get caught up in the flames and any concussion that may follow the impact.
It was time for a change of plans.
Meruin decided this as he was leaping towards the giant ball of flames in an attempt to intercept it, deciding to rely on the chitin covering his body for protection. There was little doubt in his mind that whomever they were fighting was one of those people who were the cause of those strange attacks. This opportunity to learn of them was very important. But so was completing the mission and returning the boy home safely.
So it was a good thing that he had allies to rely on.
Meruin struck the fireball head on, having simply dived into it. It enveloped him and then combusted, throwing heated air away from the epicenter and launching the Okumo back where he'd come from. He lands in a mostly upright skid, appearing unfazed. "The two of you will leave immediately. Take the boy. See him safely brought to the medical center. Stop nowhere for long and avoid everyone. Go." And then he rushes forward, moving to try to grab hold of the figure by the neck and simply start running along branches and carrying them through tree trunks away from the two genin until he sees fit to toss them further in the same direction.
Renai watches Meruin with awe, her eyes squinting at the radiating heat of the flames. She hears his order though and doesn't wait. She turns to Kiyoshi as Meruin takes off with the opponent. "C'mon, you heard him." She would try to aid Kiyoshi if she could, even up to taking the child onto her back if needed. She may be hurt, but she has resolved to get him to the village no matter what it takes. The only thing that may be a slight problem is her pace. She's slower this time, even moreso if she lands up taking the boy.
No chance for a switch? Fine then.
Kiyoshi bent at the knees, lowering his center of gravity in preparation that would make most Kirigakure Shinobi proud. If said person can walk away from the incident that is. Glory and possible death (pfft!) is avoid narrowly by Meruin taking the hit for them all; leaving the rest to endure only an intense wave of heat and possibly chitin. Shock gives way to rage at the sight of his sensei enflamed. He'd kill the bastard for doing that! A step is all he takes before Meruin takes center stage again.
"But-…" He starts to say, but by which point his sensei has already made his move to buy them time to escape. If it weren't for Renai speaking up during the moments that follow Kiyoshi would've dropped the boy right then and there and gone after Meruin. It's what his blood demanded! Damn everything else!
A pregnant pause is ended by a gutteral growl from the boy before he adjusted the kid until he laid over his shoulder, then tried to do the same to Renai (only on the other shoulder) — with or without her consent. Granted, if she look like's she's gonna struggle than he'd give up quickly and carry on as ordered.