Date: November 28, 2015
True to his word, Eremi hunts down Kiri folk and his first target is Tsubaki
"Tsubaki Shirayuki's Final Resting Place"
In the dead of the night where the sun has fallen well beyond the horizon and the moon has taken its place in the night sky along side hundreds of twinkling stars that together pierce through the dwindling blackened, rain clouds that still linger from the storm just a few hours ago. The light of the moon does little to illuminate the trees in the distance and the sands that reach the shore compared to the bioluminescent lake. Its eerie, cerulean glow at its brightest when darkness envelops the surroundings.
A sight to behold for those with courage enough to stroll through the mists and brave the dangers that may lurk in the shadows. A single, emerald eye peeking out through the veil of their cover within the trees that make up the outer perimeter. They had arrived just after sunset, biding their time after the encounter with the jinchuriki within Fuuma Alley. The beast having a head start to warn the denizens of Kirikagure that a mad man had threatened their peace. That he would stop at nothing until every last one was killed. The thought of doing such as he replayed the memory over again within his mind bring a smile to Eremi's face.
And yet no word was received… At least, there was nothing that Tsubaki had heard. The mists were tinged with chakra from the Shirayuki, and she brought with her an aura of cold that just wasn't natural. Cold that would seep into the bones of any hardened warrior because of its owner's chakra. The young girl's own eyes swept over the area, wondering if anyone was even there. Sometimes she met people here despite the lateness… It was nice to enjoy the freedom of a Genin rank. As a student, she could not wander at such an hour.
Tsubaki makes her way to the shore, unaware of the beast that had threatened her land. Her home. And she would close her eyes, scanning the area again through the mists. Nothing… Nothing that she could tell, at least. She was only a genin, though. What could she find? A faint sigh escapes the girl as she looks over the water. What were her goals /now/? She had little to motivate her… No, she had too much. There were too many things she valued, and all of them seemed too far out of reach. She wasn't sure if she still had the will to pursue them. That was why she was out here. To think…
A shiver would find its way down Eremi's spine as a mist rolled in through the area, sticking to his clothes and seeping through the slits in his ceramic mask. It was a familiar mist, thick with chakra he had faced several times in his past. Typically signifying the arrival of one of Kirigakure's own. There was a chance he was already detected and yet, Eremi remained motionless, pressed hard against a tree as he waited in hopes he had not yet been found out. A high chance considering what the mists preceded.
A young girl, no older than nine and frail as the twigs beneath his feet. Though size was no indication of a persons power, the girl within Eremi's sight was not what he had in mind when coming to wipe Kiri shinobi from the world. The hesitation becoming a burden and a reminder that he may never be able to honor the memory of the one he lost. He knew what he had planned wouldn't bring her back, but it may lift the weight heavy on his heart.
Slowly, Eremi stepped from the shadows and on to the sand. His prints leaving a glowing trail behind him with each step, "Girl." Eremi called out silently as he continued his approach. There was a chance the girl would be startled suddenly confronted by a man dressed in black, face covered by a mask, but he cared not. If she ran, he would catch her. If she screamed, he would silence her.
Tsubaki didn't move when she heard the call. A flinch, though… The girl's muscles tensed, as if she was about to be attacked. But none came. So she turned and used her chakra to part some of the mists, seeking the owner of the voice she had heard. Black clothes… A Mask… Not a Hunter of the Mists, though..? That insignia on his arm… That was the brand of a Konoha ANBU… Tsubaki's gaze hardened with suspicion as the individual approached.
Several thoughts flash through Tsubaki's mind in that instant. She should call for help… Anyone would be better prepared to face someone from the Hidden Leaf, right? Kirigakure was strong… But not her. So little control over her jutsu… That was why she was demoted, wasn't it? Among other things… Who could she call, though? No one would be awake at this ungodly hour, and she had done her best to rid herself of the one spying Okumo that tended to plague her. She hadn't seen his spiders in a while, though… And the other Okumo would be away… No one to turn to for now. Tsubaki stood her ground.
"What do you want?" the Shirayuki asks, voice clear in the cold air. And surprisingly, it didn't waver like usual…
Eremi watched the girl through the slits in his mask, judging her reaction to seeing him so suddenly and weighing how she responded. The girl was clearly a shinobi, it was evident in her mannerisms. No longer a student, but not yet a Chuunin. Would the difference in rank make this any easier? Would stopping her now prevent slaughtering later? They were questions Eremi wasn't prepared to answer. He wanted retribution for what happened to Renai, but he wasn't a monster. If he went on this path, starting with this girl. It would change him…forever.
"I…" His voice did waver. Momentarily. Clearing his throat. "I have two choices for you to make here and now, no questions asked." Inclining his head to the small girl that barely reached above his waist. "The first choice is you deny your loyalty to kirigakure and it's people. Turn your back on the…clan…you are apart of. Strip yourself of your former attachments and leave this place forever, never to return." He let that hang in the air for a few moments as this would not be an easy choice for most to take. "The second option is…"
"I kill you."
Tsubaki watched the man approach. The mask gave her no hint as to what he was feeling… No hint as to what he was planning. She figured he was examining her… Studying her… And she was studying him. His form… He must be a taijutsu specialist. Chakra Tai? Normal tai? She wasn't sure which… She could barely see his eyes through the mask, though… But he could see her. It was obvious she was watching him like a hawk.
The offers… Why should she listen? She would accept nothing from the Leaf… And she would attempt to block out his words. Except when he spoke, her jaw would have dropped to the floor if she wasn't schooled to train her expressions. Only a faint flicker of emotion crossed her eyes when he spoke. To leave her village… Renounce her name… They had already shunned her, though. She had nothing to lose from leaving. Almost nothing… Her mind flickers back to some of the people she had 'grown close' to. Kiji, for one. Naoya as another. And the other strange spiders that inhabited the Hidden Mists… Were they worth it? Should she denounce Kirigakure?
"…" Her expression was troubled, but her chakra levels rose. Rose to such a degree that Eremi would feel it. And a blast of cold would expel from the young Shirayuki, as she was unable to contain the icy aura. "… I can't leave so easily," she states in the end. "But I don't want to die." Tsubaki looks Eremi in the eye, green eyes cyan with her chakra activated. "Why do you ask this?"
Another shiver reached Eremi and as his eye shifted briefly away from the girl to his surroundings, as to not be caught off guard, he saw a layer of ice forming over the edge of the lake and small flakes of snow falling around them. His feet would shift beneath him and the once soft sand crackled against the cold. It was too soon into Autumn for this early of a frost. Was this girl doing it?
Focus back to the girl, Eremi became apprehensive of who exactly he was facing. Perhaps she was the monster. His threat certainly didn't seem to concern her. "I ask simply because that is what I am here for. To exterminate kiri shinobi one-by-one. Considering your age I figured you still had a chance for redemption, but you may be out of reach for such a thing now.."
He'd sigh and as he did his breath formed in front of him. The temperature was continuing to drop, which means the girl was preparing to strike. If she did, it would make this that much easier on himself.
"Redemption?" Tsubaki echoes questioningly. The girl's chakra aura extended across the area, making a mini-Arctic circle. "Planning to exterminate Kirigakure… With no help, either?" She was talking… Gaining time to think a bit more. Did she want to die, truly? Should she run? If she ran, though, she would be hunted down… Unbeknownst to her, Kiyoshi was also gone. And he, once his presence was missed, would also be hunted. But he was important, and she was not. A blip in the middle of the village. One that was far too insignificant for Kirigakure to even receive warning.
"… Don't you need help with your task?" she asks. "One man… Against a village… You'll die… And you won't achieve anything. Well, maybe you'll be referenced as the Fool that Attacked the Hidden Mist Village…"
Eremi tilted his head slightly, neck cracking as he did. The girl was stalling, frustratingly so, but why. No one would come to her rescue and if they did, they would receive the same treatment. To have to wait, bargain with a 9 year old, but he put himself in this position. He gave her the choices, she was just simply refusing to pick one."If I die, then I die. It's no different than doing so on a mission, rather than at the hands of a Kiri shinobi."
Hands began to shake slightly at his side, more so from the cold than any adrenaline and his voice was shaking. Perhaps this was the girls plan, let him freeze to death while she slowly killed him from the frost. "Do you have an answer. Will you run and live or stay and fight me, dying in the process I assure you."
Tsubaki heard his decision and frowned. He was someone who didn't care if he lost… Which made him all the more dangerous. Maybe she was only a blip, but perhaps she could help prepare Kirigakure a bit. Stall for time… Exhaust the enemy… Make it so the man's presence was known. If he didn't challenge Kirigakure one by one… If the Mist sent all of its forces to face him at once… They could win… Maybe. "Don't make me regret my choice," Tsubaki requests, making a few handseals. Eremi would feel the cold intensify, but not because of anything the Shirayuki did… Nothing was influencing him outwardly. The mind, however, was a tricky thing. Unless the ANBU man had a genjutsu defense and was successful upon defending, he would be subjected to an intense cold that would make him feel as if frostbite was his worst enemy…
"Regret your choice? You haven't made…" The girl would flash through hand seals and Eremi instinctively jumps back. Surprisingly by doing so the temperature actually gets colder further, causing him to shiver uncontrollably. His breathing would grow shallow and his hands would wrap around his sides, rubbing against his bare arms to try and warm himself up. "Are…you…doing…this?" Each word forced through chittering teeth, but he already knew his answer for as quickly as the chill encompassed him, it was gone.Genjutsu or a drop in the temperature, he did not know, but he did know one thing for certain…
"So that's your answer?" He still felt cold, remnants of the attack biting at his mind. It was a feeling he'd have to shake off, work through as he charged forward against the hardened sand. A crunch under each step until he leaped into the air with a series of kicks. Landing after a couple only to jump to the side and try once more. Considering Tsubaki's height, each would be aimed at the head.
Tsubaki forms different handseals. "I did choose… I chose to die." The girl doesn't reply, her cool gaze on Eremi as he begins to shiver. The genjutsu was affecting him, but not as much as she'd like. If only she had learned more… Too late for regrets, though… The girl would have to see this through until the end. Tsubaki drew up the unfrozen water from the lake, forming it into.. Something. "Do I get to change my mind later?" she wonders aloud, knowing that she probably can't. What's done is done.
Then the kicks come whirling in, and the water from earlier blocks the first kick, though it is not fast enough to block the second. Tsubaki falls down, a bit of blood forming at the side of her head. Dazed… But not dazed enough to forget to fight. She had been pushed past this point before. The girl's water ribbon turns into a spear and shoots out at Eremi while she gets up slowly and draws more water from the lake. Its form solidifies into a solid rendition of Tsubaki, but see-through. The ice clone runs forward, shattering into millions of shards should it ever come into contact with Eremi.
Shifting against the sand after his last kick, he'd turn to face Tsubaki and shake his head slowly. "No. If I allowed you to run now, you'd change your mind and come back. You've made your choice, you wish to fight." A hand would extend, not to help Tsubaki up, but to challenge her to continue. Continue she did as the water ribbons formed together and lunged at him. He'd twist aside, kicking up chunks of sand as he did, avoiding the spear. But the clone was unexpected. The 3' tall statue bursted against his form shattering into shards and cutting into his exposed flesh.
The open wounds hurt and the cold of the ice stung, but Eremi cast it from his mind as he used the brief clone explosion to slip out of Tsubaki's field of vision, only to reappear directly in front of her. Normally he'd drop down low, but considering the girls height he was limited in his movements. Rearing his foot back, he'd kick straight up to send the girl helplessly into the air, following it up with a series of punches.
"Mohiron," Tsubaki murmurs, waiting… Watching Eremi move. He was strong. Probably the strongest opponent she would ever face. The girl barely steps back in time to let a clone of ice take her place, and the statue goes flying sky-high before shattering against the cold-hardened ground behind her. Tsubaki didn't think the clone would go flying like that, so she was unprepared for the barrage of punches and kicks that seemed to assault every limb of her body.
Now she was bloodied and battered, but her eyes showed her resolve to continue fighting. The girl spits out some blood that trickled its way into her mouth, though the spit freezes soon after being exposed to the air. It was that cold… And it was about to get colder as the wind picked up, icy shards forming in the air. The mists around them would become minuscule weapons, and the blizzard itself would seek to trap Eremi in his place.
Eremi was glad to be wearing his mask as there was no smile that adorned his face, instead sickness and guilt engulfed him. With each kick, each strike, he'd close his eyes hoping it was just a dream and it would be over soon. But when he opens his eyes what he sees before him is a young girl of 9 giving it her all even as she spits out blood. He'd want to stop, hoping the girl would ask for mercy, but instead she continued on. She was ready to go through with this and so should he. Age was a number and shouldn't matter in war.
The air around him would pick up and the icicles that formed hit against his skin. He'd seen this air pattern before. A spiraling vortex of wind, trying to suck him into the eye and hold him in place. Were that to happen it would be over for him and Tsubaki would get away. Focusing within, the first gate would open and in an instant he'd blink and be gone, only to once again appear in front of the girl with another kick to the chin that while it would send her flying, wouldn't leave her immobilized. Following after, Eremi jumps in the air with a succession of powerful kicks.
Tsubaki doesn't have time to think. She just acts. Unlike Eremi, she had no qualms about fighting him. The problem was that she didn't know if she wanted to continue. Tsubaki watched the frozen gates appear, raising up tall and thick to block the kick that would have sent her flying once more. As he knocks it down with the barrage of punches and kicks, she would simply replace herself with a clone and leave it to die while she gathered enough chakra to make yet another whirlwind. A shot in the dark, and likely her final attempt to keep the man at bay. If she succeeded, she would run. If not..? What would she do then? The girl stared into the blizzard, eyes seeking the stranger and hoping… Hoping for something to happen. What? She wasn't sure… Just something…
The massive gate appearing before him causes Eremi's eye to widen from behind the slits. He kept thinking of Tsubaki as a simple 9 year old girl, but she's leaps and bounds far more skilled than he was at her age or even several years after. The shattering of the gate and the clone that followed caused Eremi to jump back and rethink his approach. Her defenses were solid, he wouldn't get through holding back so much. If he was going to kill her, end her life, he couldn't hold back. He shouldn't hold back. This was basically torture bringing someone to a slow death.
The air around him would pick up, stronger and faster than before. Unsure he'd be able to avoid it, his skin would turn red and his veins began to bulge as two more gates opened up. The vortex tried to consume him, but he vanished out of its reach already in the air with a powerful spinning kick with so much force behind it, his own whirlwind forms racing toward the girl.
Tsubaki takes a breath, and another huge gate that was even more solid than the last appears between herself and the Satonezu. The whirlwind rushes off along its sides, never reaching her… But she was getting tired. She could feel her chakra reserves getting low, and she knew that at this rate, she'd be unable to do much of anything when things came down to it. The girl makes a few handseals, trying to lock eyes with Eremi… An impossible task with his mask on. In the end, the large gate lowers, and she just stands there, unmoving. "You win," she says simply, the cold fading from her eyes so they returned to their usual shade of green.
Landing on the sand after his Leaf Strong Whirlwind, Eremi can only watch in amazement as the whirlwind bashes against the block of ice. Splinters fly off the gate in all directions, but not enough to penetrate. Panting through the cold, his breath still visible in the air, Eremi took a moment to weigh his options at this point. The girl, though putting up a valiant effort, was clearly done. This had to be ended and now. Raising up his arms in an X over his face, one single eye looking at the girl. "I know…" His only reply as he pushes off the ground, sand flying in all directions as he starts to encircle the girl. Constantly running, going faster and faster until suddenly appearing in front of the girl to unleash a barrage of punches meant to sent her flying in all directions with the final blow a double overhanded fist to knock Tsubaki into the sand.
Tsubaki doesn't move from her spot. Not willingly. The girl would simply close her eyes as Eremi starts to run around her, bracing herself for the inevitable death. And then it hits her… The girl is sent flying by a fierce kick from Eremi, only to be ping-ponged back towards the ground. But the Leaf-Nin wasn't done with her yet. She continued to feel the blows against her body, sending her this way and that. Eventually, though, the pain came to be too much. The masked man hadn't even dealt the final blow when she felt herself fading into oblivion… And then there was a burst of pain in her center before nothingness came to accept her.
Tsubaki was no more. In her place was a beaten and broken body that looked… Sort of like her. It was bloody, but perhaps any rain that would fall would make it so she would be recognizable again. Her eyes are half-closed, the light in them gone. Shirayuki Tsubaki was dead… But was her death going to change anything? Or would it simply be another unmentioned name in the long list of shinobi that died while on duty?
The sand would crater as Tsubaki's body collided with the beach, creating a cavity several feet deep. It was fitting, Eremi thought, as he dropped to the ground to kneel beside the girl, the gates fading away. The temperature had returned to the normal, cool night air allowing the frost and snow that once permeated the area to melt away. The glow of the lake and the sand that encircled them shining upon the girls lifeless face, matching the ceramic white of Eremi's mask.
"My biggest regret…As I lay you to rest after taking you from this world." Sniffling as a hand reaches up to pull away the mask and drop it to the the ground. The emerald eye now visible, shimmering in the bioluminescence as tears begin to swell, falling down his check. The other eye also visible and more prominent, but no tears form from the three tomoe'd sharingan "Is not knowing your name beforehand." He'd reach into the girls pouch, rummaging through until finding a student I.D."Shirayuki Tsubaki…"
Clutching it tightly before tucking it away he'd then remove the girls hitai-ate and cloak, grab his mask and place it over his face. A single hand would rest upon the girls face, fingers trickling down to close her eyelids. He'd want to apologize, but that would only insult her. Instead he'd stand up and walk outside the crater dropping the forehead protector and cloak on the outskirts to free up both hands as he started to bury the girl with the sand that surrounded her.
It took some time, but when he finished he laid the cloak over the mound, placing the protector on top."Shirayuki Tsubaki, you leave this world a girl of 9, your spirit no longer with us, but your memory will continue on in the hearts and minds of those that knew you best. As well as mine. For as long as I breath, I shall never forget you."