Tree Tapping


Meruin, Isra, Onimitsu

Date: January 1, 2014


Alright. So a jounin, a chuunin, and one of the seven swords are hired to collect sap from a tree, right…?

"Tree Tapping"

The Blood Marshes within Kirigakure

Meruin leads the way through the red tinted mists of the blood marshes, silence surrounding him as he treads through the thick veil ahead of the others other accompanying him. But the world around him did not mirror his silence. Out beyond the realm of sight, the sounds of animals squawking or fighting or dying ringing out at inconsistent times, frequently reminding the shinobi that they were not the only things traveling through these lands, and that they may not even be the deadliest.
Regardless, these steps had to be made. There was a mission to see done. Further within these mists there's a tree that a poisoner within Kirigakure wishes the sap of. The team will need to tap the tree and draw the target ingredients from it and return home. The only thing standing in their way is the need to do so without the thorny, razor leafed, bloodsucking tree killing them first, or injuring them to the point that the other inhabitants of the marshes find and consume them.
In truth, it was a small job for the assembled team.

Isra can admit that she didn't like this marsh. Not for the colors, flora, or fauna. No, it was nice in its own right, but there were many deadly things here. Living, deadly things. Certainly, the Uzumaki could fit that description. She was living and she could kill, but it wasn't exactly within her nature to do so. She didn't come with an instinctive need to do so like many of the things around here. With all that being considered, she didn't really want to draw sap from a thorned, razor leafed, bloodsucking tree. It was necessary, of course and she'd do the job because it /is/ her job to do so for this mission. Still, it makes her only mildly uncomfortable. She doesn't have any antidote for this sort of thing.

Onimitsu would — in a matter of speaking — leave nothing to chance on this mission. True enough, the job sounded like a walk in the park compared to some of the more extreme missions passed down along the grapevine to even Kirigakure's genin, but still, the man bearing an accursed sword chose to err on the side of caution by wearing an extra veil of sorts.
The raven haired woman that in position behind Meruin maneuvered with a grace that most would find daunting to maintain while wearing a kimono. And yet, she managed by some miracle or skill that preluded to much practice or a lifetime practically devoted to bearing such potentially constricting clothing. She went by the name 'Akahime', which both Meruin and Isra were made aware of at the start of the mission after whatever short introduction might've been made, and has doggedly kept up whatever pace their team leader had set. The sounds, the smells, the pressure beneath her heels and occasionally the hand — No matter what her senses picked up or how 'freightening' something may simply feel, the girl hardly seems to pay much attention to any of it. She seemed more at home in the marsh more than anything else. Odd.
Beneath the drowzy looking viel that is Akahime, that which hid beneath remain intently focused…

"Prepare. We have only a minute's travel left."
The Okumo continued walking forward, voice quiet but pervading as he gives last literal last minute reminders. "The tree survives off of blood. It senses it and will attempt to retrieve it. There will be no hesitation in its attempt to go through your flesh to get it. We have no reports of weaponized toxins, but we are drawing the sap for a poisoner, so err on the side of caution. Get near enough to insert your spiles into the trunk, I will attach a container, we evade harm long enough for it to fill, we retrieve it and we depart. But be prepared to be interrupted. These are the blood marshes."

"Understood," Isra states as she sets herself up for this mission. She retrieves the scroll that contains her spiles, but she also begins to secure seals that would protect her against attacks from this tree. "What else is around this tree that we may need to be concerned about? I understand we're not alone in this, but what's the foremost threat aside from the tree?" She wondered while assessing herself against this area. She isn't certain anything conventional will work. Smoke tags may help against animals, but this tree senses blood. Deflection may be her alternative…maybe she can place these defensive tags in choice places like checkpoints. She thinks that might work.

The sound of hurried footsteps of some four-legged animal whisking through the mists echoes some distance to the left, the source of it out of sight.

Akahime gaze never really averts from the scenery ahead, but the girl nods faintly, confirming that Okumo's words had been heard and taken to heart in some fashion. The crimson eye tinged with silver, green, and violet flecks go from half-lidded as if drowzy to a thin slit as another thought occurs to her. She cannot deny the desire to kick her own bum for not having discerned the possible purpose of the sap before then. "Vultures," She says non-chalantly, only to cover her mouth as if embarrassed. Which makes sense, since the question had been directed towards Meruin. "Forgive me, I must of have a few too many than a thought." She giggles good-naturedly. The easy-going air about her starts to fade almost immediatly after. Something else was racing through the mist-ladden area, but aside from keeping her focus roughly split between where she hears it and their main objective, Akahime makes no other movement.

Meruin's pupiless eyes shift towards where the sound originated from, his stride unbreaking as he scanned the mists for hints of hostile presences. Be prepared to be interrupted indeed…
Meruin stops, taking a single step backwards and turning his gaze upwards. There… A handseal whipped the mists above them about, clearing them so that they could see the upper boughs of the crimson tree now standing high above the mists. The thing was much bigger than reports had stated. They would have to get closer to reach the trunk that was still too far deep into the mists to see. But worse.
"We're already within its range."

Isra heard the sound of whatever it was and following Meruin's order, she stopped. Though, she did have the intention of doing that regardless. Running headlong into this marsh isn't the best policy. "Really? Oh, darn," she placed her hands on her hips as she gave this some thought. "I'm going to establish a web, of sorts. Anybody within it will be notified of what's crossing the web. In a way, I want to try and set it up as a sensory thing. It will assist in evading the tree's defenses, so to speak. I will also try and set up protective barriers along the way as points to use for keeping away from the tree. I believe that the barriers can render us 'invisible', so to speak. Our blood can't be tracked within them." She lifted a hand to her chin. "Does this sound plausible?" She asked as she began to focus her energy. She still wasn't sure of how to deal with that thing she heard. It could wreck her plans, so she had to find a way to deal with that thing too. Trap it, somehow.

Akahime kind of pitches forward for a second there when the call to stop is made. Thankfully she managed to avoid falling completely, though, that is only a small boon at best. With a hand at her hip and brow lofted in curiosity, Akahime stood patiently at attention as Meruin commits his jutsu. The parting mist grabs her attention for a few moments. A few moments to short to take note of the crimson tree that was to be their targeted. Meruin was at fault for that failing; albiet, only by extension. The lack of any appearant breeze or gust behind the mist dismissal was a curious little oddity.
Then he speaks, startling her out of her own thoughts long enough to actually consider taking heed. She does so while Isra laid down her intention, studying the tree's form as much as possible from her position without wandering into any proverbial landmines the tree might have set. They were lucky so far after all, but still, no point taking any more chances.
"That sounds agreeable enough. Although you have to wonder just how exactly it tracks blood to begin with." Her gaze finally drifts down to Meruin. "With your permission leader-sama, Mind I test a.. eto.. How should I put it?" She scrunches her nose and her brows knit close together in thought, giving her a cutsey look. "A theory? Mmm… that sounds about right. A theory on how reactive this thing really is and to what." She explains and if her vague start is enough to peek the Okumo's interest (and presumeably if nothing goes horribly wrong first) she'll quickly lay down her intent to search for its 'vitals' using chakra. True it be that the tree's structure was far from anything she's every had the pleasure of studying before. BUT, given what they -did- know about it it wouldn't be a bad thing to try, right?
Regardless of how her entreaty might be taken, chakra is still steadily built up in preperation for the task to come.

Meruin arches a brow at Isra ask she offered up her own plan. "The sensory web could be effective considering the presence of dangerous fauna to the local area. Consider all of the facets, including difficulty of placement in the mist and covering a large enough area that allows us safe combat space within. Keep in mnid that it will do little to warn us of the tree's movements. It's purpose will be foreknowledge of outside interruption. If you can see it done, then do it. As for the barriers, I am not aware of your specific abilities or intent with them. But you are one of the seven swords. You are not a combat novice; if you believe a plan has merit, then see it done, with the exception of destroying the tree, naturally."
He then turned to look towards Akahime, apparently having been listening as he was speaking. He raised his chin slightly, a hand gesturing in the direction of the tree. "Gaining more information can only benefit us. Especially how, precisely, it senses the blood of its prey. If you can learn it, do it." And so, he would begin with patience and investigation, awaiting the results of the others' tests.

"All that has been considered, trust me. I'm saying this with the idea that I'll be placing myself in danger, almost in a bait like form, to get this web up. I spoke my plan because I wanted everyone to be aware and offered it because I didn't want to interrupt any other plans in place. My role as a Swordsman doesn't dismiss courtesy. I experienced time with another Swordsman that didn't take kindly to individuality. I'd rather take that as a lesson learned than to ignore it," she explained.
"I'll get to work on doing what I intended," she remarked while surveying the area. Once she had a clearance, she threw her first seal into place and took off to calculate different routes and areas that would be effective in keeping dangers out.

Akahime listens to both each of her comerades each in turn, and then bowed partway at the waist in almost languid manner before turning away to face the way they came. The beast — 'thing' they heard, or at least 'she' heard back in the woods was never far from the forefront of her mind as she sorted through a mental checklist of things that needed to be done. Once that list was completed however, she lets out a sigh before pushing it to the back. A brief glance is givent o Isra as she went about her survey. Aka — Onimitsu really wished she had waited until his own was completely. Then again, the dangers his own represented were…


The henge is released with a puff of smoke and a clap of the hands together at chest level. Gambling on the tree only being reactive to mainly blood at the time, Onimitsu sends out a pulse of chakra in all direction, monitoring what he could like a bat using echolocation. It was as he feared. Just not to the exact same degree. Or perhaps to the same degree? That really depended on if it was predisposed to picking up chakra spikes as well. If not, then…
"This one would suggest that we retrace I steps by ten meters and use clones as our vanguards… However, that may only impede things ultimately." He admits, freeing his hands near the end and using them to dig out a couple of vials from one of the hidden compartments within the armor covering a thigh. Four vials in total are retrieved and held carefully in hand; all of which contained blood. It is a mystery how they still looked so well preserved. A minor one perhaps compared to how he handled them next. The ones bearing infected blood are tossed first with enough force to shatter them no matter just about where they landed. One a few meters outside the roots exact range, the other a good fifteen to twenty meters within it. He'd wait for a reaction. An unfavorable one (i.e ONe without a reaction) is answered by the last two being disposed off in the same matter.

Things are still after Isra vanishes into the mist to begin laying detection seals and Onimitsu sends a pulse of chakra in ever direction, performing an analysis on the living things in the area. There is no stirring, no reaction to the expelled chakra. When the vial of blood hits the ground back the way the group had came, there is no reaction visible within the mists. And from the vial tossed off into the mists closer to the tree… You couldn't see it with the red tinged barrier, but you could hear it. One by one, any detection seals on the ground began firing off, sending their clarion blare into the air.
A quiet whistling precedes the sight of a cutthroat vine suddenly whipping from the mists before Isra, another of the wickedly barbed tendrils soon following from the path of the other, assaulting her.

Meruin looks after Isra until she is swallowed by the mist, turning his attention to Onimitsu instead. He's unperturbed by the transformation, or rather the regression into Onimitsu's natural male form. He simply waited to hear the results. And at the armored man's words, the Okumo simply said, "That is an ineffective report that gives me next to no workable data to make my own decisions from."
But it didn't much matter. Soon enough the detection seals were going off and Meruin grew abruptly still, as though time had abandoned him where he stood. And then he said, "Reconnaissance attempts failed. Come. Let us simply complete this mission and be on our way." That done, he started running forward towards the tree trunk, prepared to simply deal with whatever dangers arose and get what they came here for.

Isra lifted up a tag withdrawn from her vest to deflect the strikes that came against her. Looks like something isn't thrilled with her going out and doing this. Well, she was going to try and complete her part anyhow and see if she couldn't find an opening to stick her spiles into the tree in order to draw from its sap. As she is now, she's not close enough to the stump to collect any sap, but she will be getting it. That is the main part of this mission. If the tree is capable of defending itself, there's no telling what else is around here that will help out as well. More detection seals coming up.

"Eto… Right." Is all Onimitsu can manage to say, sweatdropping comically. The apology that would have left his lips immediately after dies in his throat the same instant Meruin went still. "Mer—" The Okumo unthawing and delivers the next instance halts him in his treks. Then, he is off scarcely a second later, leaving Onimitsu to wallow in his own failings. A few seconds at most are devoted to the task, if only because he knew from past experiences how 'effective' he tended to be on the field while carrying any emotional baggage. After that he takes off as well.
His intentions deferred from that of his comrades. It would be best to complete the mission as quickly as possible, true, but he knew Meruin's skills well enough to trust in the young man's ability to cover for him in regards to the main objective. So, unless order to otherwise, Onimitsu focused on the task of trying to sever the vines Isra deflected earlier, and take what little time he had to analyze them. Poison or the like in particular is what the armored shinobi was after. Barring allies or some other unknown means, he figured the vampiric tree was bound to have some biological secrets that would prove detrimental to the group later down the line.

The battle field soon let off a raucous chorus of noise as Isra continued setting down detection seals that were set off nearly immediately by an increasing number of cutthroat vines lashing out of the mists in the direction of the tree trunk. They moved swiftly and somewhat erratically, making them difficult to strike. One of Onimitsu's blows landed, cutting into the vine to release a loose splatter of floral ichor, but the thick thing was too tough to get cut through by that slash. Instead of being severed, it simply lashed out at the swordsman even as a multitude of other razor barbed vines began trying to tear into the trio.

Meruin simply rushed forward, deciding that his time would be best spent simply taking matters into his own hands. The sounds of the detection seals being set off over and over were not a good sign, either. And not just for the fact that it was caused by the huge, barbed vines that were flying towards him. He evaded these with ease, ducking and weaving around them, only needing to take his feet off of the ground once in a side flip to avoid being harmed. No. The danger in those alarms was what could be drawn by them.
Drawing nearer to the tree, he called out, "Both of you to the tree!"

"Right," Isra remarked to herself as Meruin called them to the tree. She raised up a seal wall to block the vines from attacking her, but one managed to break through and cut her. She hissed as she looked at the lash left behind, but she decided to keep going regardless. Time to get this sap. Making a beeline, she began taking off towards the stump so that she can draw from it. She drew her blade with the intent of blowing up any vines that came for her. No more time to be defensive.

Too short! He knew he should put more pow — All too belatedly Onimitsu realizes that in his armor's basest form less protection is offered. The most he manages is a narrow attempt to finish severing the first vine ending, only to for the tendril to stab him in the arm, then winded by the other tendrils overwhelming by share numbers, denting his chest piece as they eventually crashed into his chest mid-spin. Onimitsu hits the ground rag dolling for the first few seconds and even black out for a second or two more before managing to take control of his fall enough to roll into a kneel.
He is bleeding, and a lot. Perhaps even just enough to send the tree into a frenzy. Desperate to at least make some use out of his sorry attempt at being a team member, Onimitsu rises again and tries to disperse some of his blood in the mad hope of attracting the tree's attention towards him. Soon after he makes a haphazard attempt at restoring his wounds, but his concentration is sorely tested at the moment.

Both Isra and Meruin get near enough to the tree that even /more/ of those huge, dangerous vines are able to reach them and both the ferocity and number of attacks are increased as a flurry of deadly, serrated whips strike out at them. The reason might have to do with the fact that they were near enough to see the trunk of the tree, if only its shape through the mist. It was close enough to reach with a proper burst of speed, provided you could avoid the many vines stemming from it. And that you avoided tripping over the desiccated corpses of the animals that had trod too near, the number growing as you approach the trunk itself.
As for Onimitsu, he'd find that the pressure of his body on the ground and the blood seeping into the earth brought what lay beneath out to the surface. The dirt layer broke, revealing red needles — roots — that rose up after the armored swordsman. They weren't the fastest thing, which would be why they only rise after a creature is wounded on the ground, but they lurched for him, looking to pierce the metal and find their way into the gaps, slipping deep into flesh and taking in his blood. And worse… since he hadn't managed to get closer to the tree, he'd be first to discover the presence of the pack of marsh hounds that had come by manner of one of the red creatures suddenly leaping at his back from the mists, slathering fangs biting and claws trying to tear. His only fortune might be the fact that the vines hadn't yet reoriented on him.

Target in sight.
Meruin continued weaving around the increasing number of flailing attacks sent his way — abruptly, his arm was raked by barbed vine sliding by, opening a light gash in his arm and sending blood onto the ground. He had grown too lax, and too distracted by the others, the sight of the trunk, the corpses, and what else could be around. It was an inexcusable lapse in professionalism.
After he flipped over and between a pair of cutthroat vines that charged straight at him, his movements became noticeably more swift, more precise than they already were, each motion seeming a natural extension of the next. A black spile appeared in his hand, extending as more chitin grew to create a container for the sap and he side stepped another vine. Abruptly, he vanished, attempting to speed to the tree and thrust the spile deep into its wood and try to get what they'd come for.

"Sssshhhhhh," Isra hissed as she was lashed once again by the tree. This thing wasn't kidding around. It wanted its sap protected, that's for sure. She hoped that she wasn't getting poisoned as she went along. Up to this point, she didn't really know. "Hey! 'Akihime'!" She called out. "I need you to come check on me!" She didn't really know what to think of the wounds she was sustaining, after all. When she drew close enough, clearing the animal carcasses that had piled up here, she drove her spile into the tree as well.

The wound closes, if only just. Onimitsu could not ask for more than that at the moment. The pain however lingered, and after nearly blacking out earlier the man refused to take anything else to chance. Thus, he took a single deep breath and closed his eye. Serenity. The state of being Onimitsu entered scarcely a heartbeat later can only be described as such. His doubts, worries, and pain still remain, but now they were but more 'neat', or better yet easier to simple file away so that Onimitsu could focus on the task at hand. His eye snaps opens, and the world seems to be move in slow motion…
The feeling lasts for felt like a 'small' eternity at first. Just long enough for the armored man to choose the best path, pick up on the approaching marsh hounds steps, and solidify that path to heart. With his heart racing into overdrive without clouding the mine, Onimitsu narrowly steps, leaps, and even roll, tucking his blade away during the first such instance to avoid harming himself. It is the last evasion that places him at the furthest edge of where he remember the roots to be nestled under, back exposed to the charging hounds. He ducks without even looking, dodging the first to go for a head on charge, springs and spins out before its lackey can touch him as well. Regrettably, their numbers, coordinated attacks, and relentlessness leaves him off balanced and forced ultimately onto a knee after being bowled over. He is still recovering when one of them latches onto his more exposed arm, the injured and main sword arm of their prey, Onimitsu. He sorely, SORELY wished to kill the creature for that. Instead, he attempted to do what he did to those he tried to do to those who missed him earlier, strike at two pressure points; crippling the beast in pain after the first one forced it to release his hands.
Those that remain were given a similar treatment based on how good his recollection of those that nearly/did managed to harm him. For those that remain still? A softer, though, similar punishment. He wanted them all down before returning to the main problem at hand.

Onimitsu would find that his assaults were surprisingly effective. Pressure points struck on key places of the marsh hounds that had leapt at him rendered the creatures into whimpering masses of red fur and sinew, distress in the tone as they found themselves unable to move. They struggled against the unnatural manipulation of their bodies, some of them gagging as though spitting up hairballs. But for the moment, Onimitsu was left without anything trying to kill him.
As Meruin rushed in and slammed the spile into the trees wood, many of the vines abruptly diverted towards him, moving too slowly to stop him from harming the trunk. They then diverted towards Isra as she approached the tree herself, thrusting her own spile into the trunk. And then they split into to divert towards even more targets: The marsh hounds that had approached, either bypassing Onimitsu or not coming from his direction.
Swift and vicious, the nine present moved in speeding circles, two or three quickly dipping in to make a pass at Meruin and Isra's flesh, wicked fangs seeking to tear. And all the while, the tree sent those whipping vines at everything within its reach, attacking shinobi and hound both. The battlefield would willingly give no respite for rest.

Meruin's eyes caught Isra's spiling of the tree as he leapt upwards, kicking off and away from the tree, avoiding lashing vines. He landed in a roll and it was with absolute ease that he evaded the three hounds that came at him, kipping out of the roll to glide over the three of them. Chitin formed in his hand but it was from his chest that a spray of black shuriken suddenly erupted, streaking towards the backs of the hounds. It would harm them. Injure. But not kill. He wasn't trying to kill them, not now. If they were alive, it only meant more targets for the vines.
#-1 ARGUMENT OUT OF RANGE was with a graceful, almost languid curling of his body that brought him over the vines that swept at him once more, not at all looking pressed to make the movement. As soon as he landed, however, he vanished. His goal was to once more land by the trunk, this time attaching the chitin in his hand to Isra's spile. It was already leaking some sap. The end of the mission was in sight.

Meruin's eyes caught Isra's spiling of the tree as he leapt upwards, kicking off and away from the tree, avoiding lashing vines. He landed in a roll and it was with absolute ease that he evaded the three hounds that came at him, kipping out of the roll to glide over the three of them. Chitin formed in his hand but it was from his chest that a spray of black shuriken suddenly erupted, streaking towards the backs of the hounds. It would harm them. Injure. But not kill. He wasn't trying to kill them, not now. If they were alive, it only meant more targets for the vines.
It was with a graceful, almost languid curling of his body that brought him over the vines that swept at him once more, not at all looking pressed to make the movement. As soon as he landed, however, he vanished. His goal was to once more land by the trunk, this time attaching the chitin in his hand to Isra's spile. It was already leaking some sap. The end of the mission was in sight.

"Son of a grrraaah! Isra grew angry, but she was more frightened than she was angry. It was a combination of both, really. With all the lashings she took, she was scared that the vines were poisoned. Although, considering she hasn't succumbed to anything yet, it's possible that the vines were just that, vines. All anger and worry is converted to rage. She's seeing that she's being shown up by a sentient tree. Truthfully, she can't really be angry. Nature is always supposed to be more powerful than people or at least, that's what she thought. That much was proven when her home was cut completely in half. Though, she never knew of anything that was able to do that, still, it only reinforced her belief. She thought she may have had some skill when it came down to evading this sentient tree's abilities, but she's been proven wrong. More over, she was just assaulted by some marsh hounds. Not pulling her scroll out fast enough, the hounds caught her and attacked her. Their follow ups would be defended against, almost luckily as she was still dealing with the hounds that attacked her initially. Sigh. This is turning out to be terrible.

His mind is never far from mission; but, it is only once the last hound falls that the man gives it greater attention. He would jog at first to conserve energy, only to hesitate before even taking a step and look back at the hounds. "….!" The realization strikes him like a lightning bolt, prompting Onimitsu to whip his head back in the direction his comerades went. The hounds were mostly scavangers. The tree provided the perfect place for more than one pack or simply a larger one to feast one if they played things safetly. In short, the others were in danger of an ambush!
His land hand is clenched tightly enough for the joints within it to pop. He takes off not a minute, but scarcely a second later, splintering his focus between searching for where the other hounds might come from and striking what pressure points he could to speed up his bodies innate regenerative abilities.

<Neh, Onimitsu. Your pace is far too sluggish to do either of them any good… Why not let me take over?>


The hounds left behind by Onimitsu were already beginning to stir, their pain and stiffness starting to recede as they recovered from the joint locks. But for that moment, they were still down, unable to move. Which made their sudden howls of pain unsurprising to those with mind to think of it. The roots, those blood sucking needles had speared the hounds from the ground, some of them pushing all of the way out of the other end of a body. Onimitsu's mercy only meant a slow and horrid death, pinned to the ground that was drinking their lifeblood.
The hounds that were attacking Meruin, also found harm, his shuriken sinking into their flesh, causing damage but nothing enough to kill or to slow them down too significantly. One, though, was distracted enough by the attack that it's yelp from the shuriken was turned into a whine as a vine slammed into its side, sending it flying into the tree trunk. It hit beside the Okumo as he did indeed manage to attach the container the spile. But his would like be nearly full by now. Of course, getting to it once more would provide an issue as those ever present vines continued lashing out, striking at everyone, now including the incoming Onimitsu.
Everyone except for Isra who, taken to the ground in a space with blood, would soon find the earth shaking under her for a brief second even as the pair of hounds over her tried to circumvent her scroll to tear into her in a killing blow. Those bloodthirsty roots would soon attempt to pierce her and begin the draining process.

The sounds coming from Isra's direction were not at all the ones Meruin had wanted to hear. So there was no hesitation in taking his speed that way. A full tilt dash, the balls of his feet pounding into the soil beneath in a staccato rhythm for the second and a half it took him to draw near enough to launch himself into the air, body twisting. An arm extended, a blade of chitin created and sending a vine off in another abrupt direction.
He landed just beside Itami, a second blade created in his other hand before he swept his weapons into the faces of the hounds, diverting their jaws. A blade vanished and a hand dipped, grabbing Isra by the wrist before deflecting a second vine with a powerful flick of his black sword. He jerked the Uzumaki up onto his shoulder, pulling her away from the needle roots before they could find her flesh — fortunate for her — and then he leapt away and towards Onimitsu. "Retreat. I will return with the sap momentarily. We will discuss your performances afterwards."
In relative (and brief) safety, he dumped her onto her feet and started in to recover the sap.

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