Date: January 15, 2014
Meruin is confronted by the Swordsmen that answer Yuge's call to deal with any who question his authority.
Poster's note: foul language filtered in obvious places.
"Upheaval - Challenge"
Kirigakure's Dammed Arena
Meruin sits on a platform of chitin in the center of the Dammed Arena, awaiting the presence of opposition and the arrival of violence. There was no doubt that it was coming. He had openly accepted the Mizukage's challenge of surviving combat with the Seven Swordsmen to have his message heard. The Okumo did not know precisely how many were still within the village, in between missions, and neither did he know which of those who were around would actually stand to oppose him.
But time would tell.
And he was content to wait as he was. The clouds overhead, dark and signaling rain or snow, making this winter morning cooler than it otherwise would have been, but he didn't seem effected by cold, his platinum robes apparently doing well to keep him warm. The black orbs that made his eyes held a serene expression, the slowly shifting mists within them a calm blue. The many who came to see the results of the Okumo's insurrection filled the relative safety of the stands and continued to do so, but their numbers and their noises didn't seem to touch on Meruin's attention.
This day just didn't feel right. Isra knew it and felt it all the same. With the way things were going, she felt this village might be in upheval again. Transitions to new Mizukage didn't tend to be handled well in most cases and she felt this one would be similar. When she entered the arena, she saw Meruin, but she didn't see the Mizukage. Is he not here to handle this situation? She finds herself somewhat confused and uncertain of what is to come of this meeting. Sigh.
She didn't say much as she took up a spot on the arena floor and settled herself in.
Arriving through the doors of the arena, Yoichi steps calmly with the Kiba blades on his back as he moves to assume a position opposite that of Isra. "Considering you are here, I assume you are familiar with the terms of your position being heard by the Swordsmen and then the Kage. It is a shame to be caught in a fight to the death with an honorable brother, but it is our duty nonetheless," he says as he reaches to his back and draws his dual blades to assume stance. "Okumo Meruin, prepare yourself." Of course, he is no fool, and he knows Meruin is one of the most dangerous shinobi in this village, but, if he must fall for his duty to Kirigakure, so be it.
Meruin inclines his head to Isra as she enters the arena, quietly regarding her. So the first of those who would come was the Uzumaki. Whether she would support, remain neutral, or oppose however, couldn't be determined as of yet. She was silent and he bearing spoke nothing that said she was sure of that answer herself.
Yoichi provided no such problem, however, the swordsman's clear intent nearly amusing to the Okumo. He inclined his head to the Kaguya-Hozuki as he took his spot before nodding to him. He could hear the man's words without any strain. The people in the stands had quieted.
"Very well," he spoke.
He uncrossed his legs, bringing himself up to a standing position in a single supple motion. He looked towards Isra and then turned his gaze towards Yoichi. "I shall remove my opposition and then address the people." He bowed his head respectfully to the wielder of the Kiba blades. "It is indeed a shame that our duty to the village has us at separate ends of this conflict. But it is as it is."
A flowing wave spread through his hair, chakra being readied.
Isra observed Yoichi before turning her head away. "I didn't come here to die over an issue like this," she remarked. "It's not worth placing my line on the line trying to see to the transition of a Mizukage," she shook her head. "But I guess I'll have to participate according to the rules outlined." She didn't approve of them, but this is the way things are. "Don't you have anything to say other than just trying to fight this out?" She questioned Yoichi with a hint of frustration in her voice. "How can you just fight without anything to go by?" She really didn't understand this charade. She sighed and focused some energy towards this fight.
Remove… Well, Meruin either plans to incapacitate or kill Yoichi. That is now clear. "Very well. If your cause is proven against us, your voice will be heard," the Swordsman says with a nod as bolts of lightning would begin to crackle around him, Yoichi beginning to spin the blades and causing a bolt of lightning to fire down upon him from the sky. This creates an aura of lightning around him, powering his Ninjutsu a bit. At Isra's words to him, he looks to her and says, "These are our orders. Besides, if he can't go through us, he is not qualified to lead this village." With that, he would swing one of the blades in a wide arc at the Okumo, a whip of lightning extending out from it that would crackle intensely as it goes to strike at his back.
Meruin's face lit with the radiance of the lightning crashing into Yoichi from the clouds above, the contrast throwing his sharp features into stark relief. The Okumo spoke to Isra at her words, saying only, "I find your lack of dedication to the village disturbing, Uzumaki Isra. I question whether you have a place among our shinobi." And suddenly electricity was whipping towards him.
The Okumo leapt from the chitinous platform but found the lightning whip passing through his body at a calf. It was galvanizing. He landed heavily just a small distance to the side, muscles twitching beneath the skin of his neck and face.
"I know they're our orders, I'm just trying to understand how you think he can't get through the both of us," Isra remarks, almost more angry at Yoichi than she is with this situation and Meruin's role in it. She cut her eyes to Meruin and sneered. "You don't have any right to question anything. You aren't the village. Don't insult me by placing my dedication to the village in this mess," she reached for her blade and gripped it tightly in her hand.
It's clear she was angry at all of this. Now both fighters are equally hated. She forced out more of her energy and disdain was written all over it. She flashed through seals and water burst forth from one of the pools around here and went directly towards Meruin.
With his first strike successful, Yoichi would prepare for his next strike. Using the massive wave of water flying from Isra's attack as hopefully a distraction, he would move, seeming to appear with a crackle of lightning over Meruin in a long flip. This would seem like a normal attack almost, except his feet have turned into spiked mauls as he drives them down at the Okumu's torso in succession.
Meruin has no capacity to respond or move until after Isra's pillar of water slams into him, sending him flying backwards and crushing him to the ground. The Okumo's eyes narrowed slightly, muscles tensing as he looked up at the lightning materializing over him. Swiftly, he rolled over and hit the ground, sending himself spinning into the air and out of range of Yoichi's strikes.
After a foot hit the ground, he controlled his backwards slide to leave him facing the other two, standing between them. He rolls out his shoulders, sending some regenerative chemicals into his veins to undo some of the damage done to him, the bruising beneath his robes fading away.
He looked towards Isra. "To say that playing a part in a rebellion is a waste of your effort doesn't inspire much confidence in your dedication to the village, Uzumaki Isra. If you cared about the village, you would care about who led it." He widens his stances, arms spreading outwards, movements more fluid than they had been moments back. "You may not be worth keeping alive." He looked towards Yoichi. "Come."
"Because I didn't come here to lead a rebellion!" Isra shouted. "We always have rebellions! We never have anything else! Most transitions have been violent with the exception of Yuge and now we meet his transition with more fighting? I care enough about my village to not seek out violence as an answer to make a transition occur. You haven't given me or the village any good reason to follow you. What change are you capable of bringing that's worth fighting you over? You haven't displayed any merit that I feel is worthy of saying /I'm/ not fit to keep alive. You can drop on your own sword before trying to tell me to drop on mine!"
She retrieved two kunai, each of which had a tag on them. She then tossed them towards Meruin with the intention of draining his energy and adding insult to injury with additional explosions.
"If you've no interest in fighting for the betterment of your village one way or the other, the door is over there. This is Kirigakure. A man must show his worth before his voice will be heard," Yoichi says with a glance to Isra, eyes narrowing before looking back to Meruin. Despite being on different sides, they seem to have the same opinion on this matter… And it seems Yoichi is getting more serious now, as both blades sprout several whips like the one before, both blades being swung in an arc to make each lightning whip either strike down at the Okumo or at an angle to cover a position in which he may dodge, scorching anything touched in the process.
Meruin gives Isra a cool glance as she throws her angry kunai at him. "The problem is not that you do not wish to fight beside me," he spoke as he easily turned his body, allowing the first of the kunai to fly by. The second is knocked into the air by a chitin covered arm, a large trio of explosions being loosed. "The issue is that you do not wish to fight at all." Chitin covered even more of his body, wholly enwrapping it as he both felt, heard, and saw the building of electricity from Yoichi on his other side. He trusted his chtin to protect him from harm.
The new rigidness that took his body when the swordsman's lashing sent him skidding a good ways to the side said that it was a misplaced trust. The Hozuki's assault as more potent than he'd thought, the lashing piercing his shell enough to let the electricity within course through his body, once more leaving him to struggle to regain control over his motor function.
"You are both sickening. I don't want to fight beside you and I don't want to fight needlessly for the village. What good do we do by ruining its solidarity and creating factions? We leave people embittered and unwilling in one camp and stark followers in the other. There's no need to fight for anything when there's nothing to fight for. We're fighting against a cause that doesn't require any fight at all and shedding blood that could be best spent towards the village instead of squabbles amongst ourselves," Isra called out.
"Ignoring the calls of other people and their needs because we want to fight a stupid battle over the power transition? Is no one else important? Your cause is selfish!" She points out to Meruin. "And you're no better reinforcing his beliefs!" is hissed at Yoichi as she launched an attack at Meruin once again in an attempt to keep him still.
"Does no one know how to fall their overthrown orders anymore?" Yoichi asks with a smirk as he glances to Isra and then back to Meruin. They may be brothers in arms, but he's pretty vicious about robbing him of all motor function over and over. That could cause some permanent damage to most people. Then again Meruin isn't most people. "We are soldiers, Isra, not diplomatic crybabies. If Meruin bests us, he will have his word heard. That is how the Mizukage has arranged these circumstances, and that is how it must be dealt with." With that, he would seem to vanish to appear in front of Meruin again, one foot turning into a maul as he would spin into a roundhouse kick directed at the side of his head, quickly followed in the same motion by moving the foot around to kick down toward the top of his head.
Yet again Meruin was in no position to reply, largely only able to stand in place while Isra made her comments and threw a seal adorned kunai to bind him further into place as Yoichi came in towards him. Unable to move, his head was rocked by first one then another roundhouse kick, the second sending him towards the ground…
Enough of this.
He hit the ground with an explosion of spiders, a huge horde of them bursting from his body, obscuring it as the arachnid wave rushed to travel over Yoichi and soon Isra as well, the spiders looking to bite and tear. And Meruin soon lifted out of it, raised off of the ground by four large spider legs stemming from his back. Spider silk covered him like flowing fur, his six eyes wide and swiftly seeking out the other two. "Further words are pointless," were said through new fangs before the Okumo moved forward towards Yoichi.
"I'm following the stupid orders! I can disagree with them if I want to! Who the convulsion arranges a fight to do this?! What am I missing here?! And I'm the bad guy for not wanting to fight over this?!" Isra was about ready to throw her sword down. She didn't find the humor in the situation. All of what she was saying was just falling on deaf ears anyway. So, she decided to fall silent. It wasn't feeling any better spewing it all out and it wouldn't help holding it in, but she had no choice. At some point, everyone lost their upturned mind except for her.
In defense, she raised her blade and sent out a blast to try and deflect some spiders. She was successful in beating some back, but not all. She promptly swatted them away as she raised a barrier to prevent the others from overwhelming her. She sought to recover her energy and try to fight when it was gained back.
As Meruin finally starts to get serious, a slight grin would come to Yoichi's face. Now he'll see what he'd anticipated in this battle. Lightning would crackle around him and under his feet, the Swordsman moving swiftly away from the incoming swarm and around toward them toward Meruin. As he moves, he points a blade at the Okumo, sending a couple sets of lightning needles at him in succession.
Earth took to the air as Meruin rushed forward to meet Yoichi, four spider limbs making gouges in the ground as they propel him forward and easily around the lightning needles sent his way. Isra's words went ignored, as she might expect, as the Okumo simply rushed up to Yoichi and unleashed a flurry of clawed strikes, arms whipping so swiftly that the speed of the assault pulled spider silk from his arms to lash at the Hozuki at the same time. In just a single second and a half, the Okumo had managed dozens of strikes — abruptly, he was behind Yoichi, whirling and sending a chitinous spider leg flying towards the man's back to send him flying towards Isra.
Perhaps her presence is a little belated, but she is still here. The massive Butchers blade appears as if it could topple over the small woman at any moment, though Yuuka carries it with ease, her steps fluid as she descends, within the aisles above the arena itself. Two swordsmen, pitting themselves against Meruin, her former student. "Pitiful." she grumbles the words, her voice a low growl.
A small stack of seals are gathered and strung together on kunai. Targeting Meruin, Isra flung them forward when she had a clear shot to get him. She couldn't very well strike while he was near Yoichi, but once again, she finds herself at the receiving end of soon to be pain. As if the training wasn't enough, now she has to deal with this. Upon being in range, she'd make a seal and activate them in the hopes of taking him down a peg.
Feeling the approach of someone somewhat familiar, Yoichi would cast a brief glance up at where Yuuka is approaching from before looking back to Meruin. Of course, maybe that glance is where he screws up, as, though he crackles with lightning again as if to dodge, he is lashed with the spider silk then sent flying through the air toward his teammate for this battle.
Meruin's spider limbs bring the Okumo up higher as Yoichi flies through the air towards Isra, the man's gaze turning towards Yuuka, spotting her descent through the many in the stands who served as audience this cold winter morning. He let out a silent breath through his nose at the sight of her, blade bared, and he vanished to reappear nearer to Isra, her string of seals flying past and out of range.
But he had changed in that instant.
The arachnid legs were gone, leaving him standing on his own two feet. Black chitin covered the whole of his body, even down to the tips of every strand of his long platinum hair. His eight eyes examined her for a moment. Just as with Isra, he did not know if Yuuka was here to help, hinder, or simply bare witness. But he no longer had the luxury of making mistakes without them putting him in a very dire position.
And so he simply inclined his head to her… and reappeared a few yards to the side of Isra. He rushed to her, marking her as the most important target to remove. Hands would streak out, reaching for her neck. A second pair of arms burst from his torso to grab her wrists and spread them apart as he'd lifted her from the ground, never ceasing his forward momentum.
Webbing would burst from his chest to cover her, more to afflict her with its draining properties than to bind her up. But it would hold her still long enough that she wouldn't be able to raise an immediate defense when he'd slam her to the ground and launch a flurry of clawed and toxic whipped strikes, much as he had launched on Yoichi. It was time to take at least one out of this fight.
Isra spat as her attack missed. She was already preparing her defense, but she was too slow in defending herself. Whatever shield she raised was broken and she was locked in a choke by Meruin. She couldn't breathe all that well and her movement was restricted. Lifted into the air, she's crushed to the ground, blacking out only momentarily before waking up to claws lash out across her body, the feeling of illness permeating her body with each cut. She lay still after the attack was finished and closed her eyes as she endured the pain. Though, it couldn't really be called enduring. She was in immense pain and possibly even had a broken bone somewhere. She couldn't tell, really. There was too much going on at once and it was overwhelming her senses. She was definitely out of this fight. She had no voice in this particular matter after being beaten. So, she would maintain her silence.
With the attack focused on Isra for right now, Yoichi takes the opportunity to gather himself for a moment, coughing a bit as he feels the effects of poison on his system. Moving his blades around, he'd create several whips of lightning on each blade again. He swings in a wide arc again, attempting to strike down upon the Okumo en masse while avoiding striking his ally that is getting knocked around.
Yuuka feels her jaw firm as she pushes herself to take a hard jump, landing in the arena. "Alright. That's enough." she grumbles out loud, reaching up to wrap a delicate hand around the handle of her sword as the bone wrappings unraveling around the girth of the blade. But instead of using it to attack one side or another, she uses slams it into the ground. Hard. "Stop it! Now! Or the next person that throws a punch is getting wrapped up in bone!"
Meruin stops raining blows down on Isra once she becomes unresponsive, straightening himself up. He turns immediately towards Yoichi, feeling the gathering of chakra and watching the lightning grow. "Your will needs sharpening," he spoke, voice low and for Isra's ears alone. "It is weak. Grow, leave, or be broken." The Uzumaki's body was not broken enough to keep her down. It is the spirit, not the body that must be honed, he knew.
But that was a matter for another time as he rushed forward. He was heedless of the lightning flying his way, letting it break against him without fear as he approached Yoichi. Once Yuuka's blade hit the ground and she gave her ultimatum, he vanished, reappearing on the far side of the Hozuki, still running towards him.
But there was no attack forthcoming. Just a warning. So he vanished once more, this time reappearing in the air before Yoichi, already spinning, leg lashing out to throw a kick to his head. It was powerful enough to send him flying towards Yuuka if it hit. And whether or not it did, a spray of black shuriken would abruptly burst from the Okumo's body to chase him down, arcing paths leading them to embed themselves in the man's flesh.
"It is not so simple, Kaguya Yuuka. You know that as well as I."
Isra felt the ground shake from the sword strike into the ground which only ended up agitating her own wounds. She moaned momentarily and opened her eyes, feeling dizzy with the poison going through her body still. She didn't have any antidotes, so she'd need to wait it out. Her spirit was effectively broken and laying on the ground, she had nothing but time to herself to think about what she was doing here. She rose up when she had a moment of strength to rise and stumble away to a safer part of the field. She'd then take a seat on the ground, leaning over. This poison was nothing to smile at.
While Yoichi may or may not have been inclined to stop the battle on Yuuka's order, little choice is given as Meruin continues his assault. With a smack, he is sent flying again, shuriken peppering his body as he skids. "Well, I assume you won't hold defending myself against me," he says to Yuuka as he swings his blades again, sending another mass of lightning whips down upon the Okumo to try to take him down and make him lose control of his body again.
The humongous sword still buried in the ground, hilt towards the sky, Yuuka scowls darkly as her fingers uncurl and stretch. Bones crack under the surface of her flesh as she transforms, never giving it a second thought as the Swordsman dashes straight into the center of the battle itself. As Yoichi's lightning whips and spikes through the air, Yuuka claps her hands together and sharply yanks the apart, the wall of bones created in their wake quickly spreading to form a wall, a barrier.
These words Meruin spoke as Yoichi conjured lightning and Yuuka began to respond. The lightning lashed towards him and his eyes widened slightly. "I will not allow things to go awry." And then he sped towards the swordsman with vanishing speed, circumventing Yuuka and her osseous barrier to appear before the swordsman and take him by the throat.
But he would attempt no further than that at that moment. His hand was covered in a neurotoxin. One that would swiftly render the man's body limp and flood his mind with a euphoric pleasure that erased any pain he felt. He had doubts that the pleasure would take the man's mind from his duty and keep him out of commission for very long. But the poison would at least stop him for a while, and it would be the time to force him to concede defeat.
Isra watched the events unfold before her since she stopped herself from fighting much more in the battle. Things still don't feel like they're changing. Who would arrange something like this and not show for it himself? Who's honor is truly being defended? She didn't find any sense in it. Was this some sort of test of loyalty? If it was, it was a terrible one, she felt, but it didn't matter much. She just needed to sit this poison out just a little bit more.
Attempting to use his kekkei genkai to dodge the attack, rather than the attack passing through him as planned, Yoichi is caught and would fall down on the ground, temporarily unconscious as he suffers the effects of the poison.
With Yoichi unconscious, and Isra still poisoned, Yuuka scowls with some annoyance but doesn't attack Meruin after he renders Yoichi unable to defend himself. "As I /said/." she punctuates the word. "That's enough of this. Meruin." One hand at her side curls slightly. "This isn't your battle, and this isn't our battle." Yuuka says evenly. "The Mizukage said that if anyone had any issue with the situation regarding Shirayuki Katsurou, that they would be directed towards us. However. You've made it clear that you have issue with Hozuki Yuge himself, correct?"
Meruin inclines his head to Yoichi once the man passes out, offering him respect before he lowers him to the ground. He looked towards Yuuka, listening to her as she began to speak. And, of course, seeing her. Her stance, her eyes, her mien. She was not here to assault him as the others had been.
So he flooded his body with his regenerative juices, all of the visible wounds on his body simply smoothing away, leaving only the small and insignificant. The chitin covering his form sank away like water into sand, extra eyes and fangs doing the same. Soon enough, he was standing as he had been before the Swordsmen had arrived, calm and pale in his robes.
He cocked his head in further examination of the woman.
Meruin stepped towards Yuuka, movements smooth as he spoke, voice raising loud enough to be heard by those in the stands, echoing powerfully. "You of all should know that this is not simply a matter of Shirayuki Katsurou, Kaguya Elder. It was not until after I had discovered that a foreign shinobi had been attacking Kirigakure shinobi that I felt the need to take action. Not until after you had told me that you had sent word of the event to the Mizukage after your own daughter had been hospitalized. Not until after I could find no hint of orders being given to hunt, kill, or capture this shinobi. It wasn't until after I had to take it upon myself to defend my village…" spoke Meruin, stepping past Yuuka.
He comes to a stop, turning about to face the many.
"That I had decided that Hozuki Yuge is no longer a man fit to lead." A pillar of black chitin formed at his feet, raising him into the air and from this pedestal he spoke. "Kirigakure is a land filled with the potential for greatness. Despite this, all that we have been led to is stagnation, discontent, and vulnerability to foreign danger within our very own borders. I have seen two Mizukage, now, drive us into the dirt," his voice rings. "And I am here now to say first, that I will not allow Hozuki Yuge to lead us any further towards ruin. And second… that if others cannot seem to send Kirigakure down the correct path…
"That I will do it myself."
There's a little bit of relief as the transformation flows from him like water, leaving Meruin standing there instead of his giant spider form. And it's likely that while it wouldn't be noticed, that he would notice it. Because he's Meruin after all. He tries to pass by her, and Yuuka lifts a hand, touching his shoulder, not to hinder or stop him if he walks through it. "I know." she murmurs, her voice hard. She wasn't pleased either. Nothing was done. "Inaction is worse than then wrong decision. And being Kaguya, I have no qualm with you, so long as you challenge /him/." Yuuka looks into his eyes. "The alpha male needs to prove his dominance, the Mizukage needs to prove that he is what this village needs."
Isra shifted her jaw in response to Meruin's speech. She didn't even bother looking at him as he spoke. All this pomp and circumstance over removing the Mizukage. She inhaled deeply and sighed the breath out so she could hold her tongue as per the rules of this engagement. Nah, she couldn't hold it that long. "Can't believe I just fought over this. I said it was a foolish fight," she spoke aloud. "I took all this for nothing. My opinion still remains unchanged on this, but as per 'orders', I had to obey and come here to fight." She moped as she tended to her wounds. She might as well have licked them with the way she was feeling at the moment.
Meruin looked down to Yuuka, inclining his head, fiercely aware of the place on his shoulder where her hand had touched. But when he answered, he looked back to the stands, as this was for them as much as it was for the Kaguya. "It was not my desire to fight the seven swords," shouted the Okumo, a vein popping in his neck as he projected his voice even louder to cut above the clangor that had arisen from the crowd at his pronouncement. "Thus why none of them have been killed. It is the tame one, Hozuki Yuge's will, that others should fight his battles for him. If he would stand before me, then I would conquer without qualm. But he has not the will. So since he will not allow me the opportunity to relinquish him of his office, I am here to /take/ it!" He looked down to Yuuka, face full of calm, eyes placid, almost dispassionate.
"Hozuki Yuge must be removed!"
Yuuka could honestly care less who's the Mizukage, but it's her clan's way to follow the strong. And if Yuge isn't strong enough to keep his people in line, then he deserves to be put out of office. It was simple enough as that. So her attention shifts, she turns and begins approaching Isra. She gives the other Swordsman a smirk as she reaches out a hand, to help Isra to her feet. "That isn't true. It may have been a foolish fight, but if you learned something then it wasn't for nothing. You have to keep that in mind, for the next fight. Think like that and you'll always get stronger." Yuuka gives her a glance over. "How are you feeling? Do you need to get to the hospital? Can you stand?" She's in full mother mode now.
Isra looked at the rest of the crowd in this arena and shook her head. She couldn't believe this. What is wrong with these people? What's wrong with everybody? Is it just her? She lifted a weak hand to rub her face softly, only noticing Yuuka's hand once her vision is unobscured by her own. "All I learned is how I'm betraying my village and how I'm the person that's lacking dedication. I learned that I'm unfit to live. I learned overall that I'm different and that my difference isn't fit for this place. As of now, I don't think my service here warranted this," she took Yuuka's hand and began to pull herself up, though she struggled to some degree. "I fought a losing battle and now I need to go and recover. So yes, I can get to the hospital on my own. I'm hurt enough that I need some attention, but not seriously enough that I'll need constant care. Lesson learned," she went to go and gather her blade from the ground and set it back in its sheathe. "I'm feeling…like I failed," she finished.
Meruin let the crowd do what it would, then.
He turned away from it, looking instead to the more humane moment of one giving aid to another. The more personal moment of one picking up their pride, soon to walk away from it. He studied it for a brief moment. And then he vanished, his message delivered and ready to move towards the next step.