Date: May 27th, 2010
The three members of the mysterious Tao Shih have entered the Land of Waterfalls. Trekking through the forests of that land turns out to be more eventful than anticipated or desired.
"Welcome to the Jungle"
Deep Forest - Land of Waterfalls
It has been at least a few days of travel and rest since the Land of Grass. Gradually, expansive fields and small forests have given way to denser woodlands, with damp beds of moss covering the forest floor. The air here is damp and cool, and even at this hour of the morning, there is more than enough moisture for all manner of animal life to drink their fill, whether this be from dew-laden leaves, or trickles of water spilling down from the thick canopy above. It is almost more like night than day.
This is the Land of the Waterfall. And from the faint noise in the background, almost like the ocean crashing on the beach, the namesakes of this country are not too far away. Amuro has been leading the way each day, his stamina seeming to be inexhaustible, despite the fact he is presumably much older than either of the kunoichi accompanying him. Still, he does not press his companions beyond their limits. He appears to know exactly how long each can go before requiring a break.
At this particular moment, he is refilling his water canteen from the abundant natural water supplies available. A brief stop, nothing more.
After the first day of travel, the youngest of the trio had changed into something a bit more practical for moving long distances in, considering she was no longer going at her leisurely pace. Skirts had given way to a dark pair of pants, and her frivolously-designed shirts had been shucked in favor of tight tank tops. Sadly, with the overly-humid environments they were traveling through, the makeup had had to go, leaving her pale skin bereft of it's lipstick and dark eyeshadow. The jewelry, however, with it's skull-headed rings and ankh necklaces, had remained resolute against the change in climate.
Today her eyes were green as they looked at the small clear space between the trees. Surprisingly little vegetation was able to grow beneath the enveloping canopy up above. After covering a small yawn, the blonde-haired young woman runs a hand back through her bangs, shaking out the loose parts of her hair. After a moment, she fans herself with one hand.
"Eyuk! I'm already starting to sweat. When is urban developement going to spread out here? I could go for a nice, long soak in a hot tub…"
With a small sigh, the gothic kunoichi stares wistfully up into the shadows overhead, as if daydreaming about doing just that. "All this humidity is making me sleepy. And wilty." Unfortunately for the group, it was probably Datura herself that needed the most breaks in their rapid-movement routine, during which she would often lament the pleasures left behind on this journey, her hands on her hips as she did her best to remind everyone of the amenities they /could/ be enjoying.
Because, you know, she's a helper. And visualizing is the next best thing to doing, right?
Unlike Datura, Kanami has done precious little to change her garments to suit the environment. Her kimono has been swapped out for a different kimono, with a mix of black and various shades of green in leaf and fern patterns — perhaps an attempt at camouflage — but aside from some black leggings, she remains otherwise unchanged. The leggings are mostly so she's not showing off anything inadvertently while she's jumping around, but they also assist with keeping her legs warm. Kanami has paused along with everyone else, but stands on a thick branch high above the ground. The trees here may not be as sturdy as the forests of the Land of Fire, with a lot of dead wood and crumbly bark, but what trees do live are strong from many years of water-nourished growth. This one should support her slight weight fairly readily.
Both of her Masks hang on her obi from thin chains. One of a woman's face, the other of the white serpent she made her appearance as. "I heard sweat is a good skin moisturizer. All-natural, too," she comments idly to Datura. Is she making fun of her companion!? Quite possibly! But it's not offered in a sarcastic tone so she can't really be called on it, unless Datura doesn't realize that Kanami can just deny the charges.
"How far away are we from the tower?" she asks as she glances down towards 'Amuro' with her yellow eyes.
'Amuro' stoically ignores the complaining, as he has since the journey as a trio began. If he is annoyed by it at all, it is not apparent from what little of his body can be seen. When he finishes filling his canteen, he tucks it away inside his robe, and then says, "We are close. We can arrive today or tommorow. It may be as far as one-hundred and fifty miles away, but how soon we arrive will depend on our pace. I expect Takigakure forces will have arrived before us. And with others incoming, they will be trying to guard the Tower of Body fairly thoroughly. I am actually surprised we have not run into any patrols yet. They should be out in force, to keep out invaders."
Then he turns to Datura and says, "From the information you provided me with, and the information I have from other sources, it would appear at least two members of Konohagakure's strongest Clans will be coming to the Second Tower. Do you think you can 'take' a Hyuuga before you are noticed?"
"Sweat," The younger of the two kunoichi glances at the elder as if she'd just tried to tell the blonde that the sun only came out at night. "Causes breakouts on the skin and the most /foul/ of odors." If it weren't for the fact that this trip required them to travel so lightly, she likely would have had quite the arsenal of skin creams, moisturizers, and lotions with which to prove Kanami wrong.
Thank goodness for small favors.
The announcement that others will have arrived before them doesn't exactly take the missing-nin by surprise, her shoulders rising and falling in a small shrug, as if to say 'what can you do?' But at the more direct question, her lips curl upwards impishly at the corners. "If they don't detect me first, I can take anyone. Hmm… but yes, as long as their Byakugan's not activated, I can probably jump into one. I've always wondered what it'd be like to see through their eyes."
"What're you thinking, then?" She wiggles two fingers as she moves her hand verticly, imitating two legs running up the side of a building. "Climb up the tower, look around, then have him jump off? Because that's always been one of my favorites."
Kanami doesn't comment on the retort to her claims. Instead she says, "…Mm. Does your range extend that far? The pillar the tower rests upon, from what I have heard, is almost a mile high, and then the tower on top is another eight-hundred feet or so." She hops down to the mossy forest floor, landing nimbly despite the squishy, uneven surface. "If we are going to have Datura take over a Hyuuga, he will need to be distracted first. The Byakugan also, as has been noted, must be inactive. If the target is anything other than a Genin, distracting him may be complicated."
Amuro responds to Datura with, "Iie. The other who will be coming is an Uchiha. I had intended for you to ensure his Sharingan remains inactive by taking away his ability to mold Chakra. As for distracting the Hyuuga… I have just the thing. I have met her once before, but this time I know her identity. There is information I can provide that may disrupt any focus she may attempt to hold onto. Her father—"
Abruptly, Amuro stops speaking, tilting his head to the side instead. There are about ten seconds of silence, in which only a mild breeze manages to circle down from the tree tops, carrying with it a couple leaves. Everything else is still and quiet, aside from the ever-present background noise of large volumes of rushing water. "Dodge," is all Amuro says, in his deep voice, and then he leaps to the side, moving with amazing speed for someone his size. The blur of a windmill shuriken follows the sound of it whirling through the air, to smash into the trunk of the tree that the tall man was standing in front of. The trunk splinters and almost splits in half from the force of the impact.
A moment after that, it becomes evident that the large shuriken was not the primary attack. Nearly invisible in the shade of the towering trees, wires connected to the shuriken tense, pulling the weapon free and sending it spinning like a buzzsaw backwards at Datura, who was closest to Amuro's position.
The exact location of the attacker is unclear, but it appears to be above. This is reinforced as a ninja attempts to land behind Kanami with a kunai in hand and try to press the blade to her throat to keep her from doing anything. Though Kanami would not have had any forewarning, it is still possible to avoid this potentially troublesome maneuver somehow.
"Hmph, Chuunin are not so hard to distract, either. Even the Jounin are easier marks than some people think." Having pulled out a small hand mirror, the blonde kunoichi begins to check her hair, using her fingers to fix what she imagined to be a flaw here and there. "After all, men are always willing to believe that a woman is helpless. The problem isn't so much the initial strike, as it is keeping from being forced out."
Looking up from the mirror with a thoughtful frown, Datura stares unabashedly at Kanami for a moment, before going back to the mirror to now inspect her skin and reassure herself it was still flawless. "I've never intentionally tried to go that far. But I've used birds to scout terrain, so… I've always been able to go 'far enough', but never bothered to measure the distance."
As silence falls, Datura half-turns, looking out into the surrounding, shadowy woods with a large frown on her face, her brows drawn low. It was the same look she usually got when informed that her favorite brand was out of stock. And then comes Fuu's warning. The shuriken launches itself out of the tree, heading right for her, those emerald green eyes going wide with shock…
The the weapon slams into her with disproportionate force, slicing through flesh and bone, one of it's four blades reaching completely through her and out the other side. Just as she begins to fall, there's a puff of smoke, clearing quickly, revealing the attacker's weapon embedded in the middle of a thick log.
Higher up, the Yamanaka-born kunoichi, clinging to the side of a tree, scans their surroundings for the perpetrators.
Indeed, other than Fuu's warning, Kanami has no time to prepare for the surprise attacks. She does try to duck and run aside after witnessing Datura's 'death', but by then all she succeeds in doing is running right into the arms of the one trying to hold her helpless with a knife at her throat. One hand darts up to grasp the forearm of the enemy ninja, but with her meager physical strength it seems unlikely she will be able to pull his arm away from her.
Still, this actual weakness might just feed the enemy's assumption that Kanami is the weakest one present. After all, why attack two of those present, but try to hold the third as a hostage? Obviously she must have been considered the least capable of the three ninja, perhaps due to her choice of clothing being rather non-ninja-like. Struggling and making various female noises of effort and distress, she keeps trying to pull on the arm that his holding the kunai to the throat. She's not really in as much trouble as this person thinks. But to properly escape she has to appear to be at his — or her, possibly — mercy.
A few trees away from Datura, the shuriken-wielder is a guy with a face mask and ninja hood, and basically looks like a stereo-typical ninja, aside from the camouflage gear and the Takigakure hitai-ite on his forehead. Peering down at the log that his shuriken has been planted in, he lets go of the wires he was using, and instead starts rooting around in a pair of tool pouches for some kunai-bombs. He does not appear to know where his target has gone to, but is getting ready anyway.
The male ninja holding onto Kanami tries to grab her other arm and twist it up behind her back to keep her from struggling anymore. "Hold still!" he orders harshly, pressing the kunai harder against the woman's throat. Then he begins glancing around cautiously, trying to spot either the younger woman, or the tall man that had been their initial target. Neither seems to be in evidence, so he starts checking above, knowing all too well how the trees can be used for cover.
Amuro is nowhere to be seen. He just vanished somehow. Did he abandon his companions!?
Bingo! Those green eyes lock onto the male shinobi that'd been targetting her and her employer readily enough. She didn't pay much attention to the forehead protector he was wearing, as it didn't much matter to her which village he'd come from. He'd attacked them, and now he needed to die. Badly. She could hear Kanami off somewhere, apparently having difficulties, but the little tart would have to extricate herself until Datura was done with her own.
And where was the third, or even fourth member of this team? Didn't official shinobi always travel in packs? Surely they wouldn't have attacked if they were below strength. They might have run off after Amuro, though she assumed he could take care of himself. Or she'd be out of a job and would have to go back to robbing people.
The blonde-haired smiles daintily from her sideways-crouched position on the side of the tree, making tiny kissy-noises at the male ninja as if she were calling a dog to dinner. After all, she needed him to look at her in order for this to work. Once he's at least /glanced/ in her directions, there's no hesitation, and the disinherited kunoichi immediately shoots out her chakra to establish a firm link with his mind. And then, if that's successful, she pries into his mind for his worst fears, and begins pulling them to the surface.
Kanami gets a bit annoyed when the jerk bends her arm up behind her back like that. That HURTS, you know! But by then, she is ready. So, in order to keep that kunai away from her delicate throat, she uses her Chakra to call her Doujouji Mask to her. The moment the white serpent mask touches her face, the ninja holding her would likely feel the painful sensation of being bitten in several places on his forearm. Reflex might have made him cut Kanami anyway. Luckily, what she lacks in physical strength she makes up for in Ninjutsu. So a number of snakes have emerged from the sleeve of the arm that has been holding the man's forearm all this time, and simultaneously attempted to bite down on that forearm, and then start pulling away with strength not quite befitting simple snakes. If successful, Kanami might be able to slip free.
After all, people don't last too long when pumped full of poison from several snakes at once.
The guy up in the treetops hears the noises and looks in Datura's direction. When he spots her, seemingly mocking him, he goes, "You—!" and starts to get up from his lying-down position in order to hurl his exploding kunai. He barely manages to get into a crouch. Because suddenly, he's seeing a strange figure standing on a branch above and behind Datura. A figure with a wild mane of black spiky black hair, a grinning, jagged-toothed mouth, and empty black pits for eyes, with a red pinpoint of light at the center of each. The skin is covered in black fur, matted with blood around the mouth, and the rest of the body, though muscular, is also coated in the same fur. Its hands and feet are dead-white.
This is a hibagon (the Japanese equivalent of a yeti). And it's what the Taki-nin fears most, despite it only standing about five-feet tall. When the creature leaps from the branch towards him, maw open wide, hands extended, he screams out and throws both handfulls of kunai bombs at it! They detonate in mid-air, much too close to the one who threw them. The explosions of flames hurl him from his perch and he lands on his neck when he hits the ground. *Snap*
Of course, there was no hibagon. Too bad for him.
The ninja holding onto Kanami startles as he first sees the explosions above, distracting him from the fact that snakes are slithering out of his hostage's sleeve just a few inches from his face. Then they sink their fangs into his arm, and his shock-loosened grip proves no match for the unnatural serpents. He cries out as he feels the pain and the strain of fighting against the snakes, but soon he begins screaming for another reason entirely, as all that venom starts to burn through his blood stream. He lets go of Kanami and tries to back away, but his muscles are already starting to die on him. Shortly, he falls to his knees, and then onto his face. He may or may not still be alive, but he won't be getting back up.
That appears to be all the patrol consisted of. Oh, except for the guy in the Chuunin camo-vest that just dropped out of nowhere, attempting to stomp Datura in the back of the head with his boot as he descends. Successful or not, he then tries to land on the ground, form hand seals quickly, and gather water from the environment. "Water Release: Water Needles!" he calls out, before sending the needles flying at Kanami!
Fortunately, though a couple of the needles may or may not hit Kanami, depending on if she evades the attack, that's when Amuro chooses to appear suddenly and slam his thick left forearm into the Takigakure Chuunin's stomach. Though it seems to happen in slow-motion, the ninja nearly folding in half around the taller man's arm, the results are instantaneous. 99% of those Water Needles turn into mere drops of water that would splash harmlessly on anything in their path, like raindrops. "…What a bother," Amuro grumbles.
Of course, the blonde-haired girl could see everything that the Taki-nin could, given that she was not only causing the illusion, but controlling it. She doesn't bother to try to dodge as the things are flung towards her, given that they're obviously being flung at the creature she was projecting instead, though she does squint her eyes as the explosions begin to sound.
And then the ninja falls from his perch in a fright, which seems to bring great mirth to his attacker. "Aaaaaah ha ha ha ha ha ha-!" She's even pointing at the male as he falls, landing all kinds of wrong and never moving again. It's a high, loud, probably annoying, and distinctly /off/ sound.
She'd really need to learn to control her mocking, high-pitched laughter in the middle of a fight, as it seemed to present the perfect target for an enemy to hit her from behind. "Ha ha ha ha- ERK!" The foot strikes her squarely in the mass of that pretty, silken blonde hair, causing her to lose her grip on the tree with both her hands and her feet. She begins falling /with/ the Chuunin, only managing to regain her senses enough to correct her fall and not end up like that one's comrade, with the broken neck. She bounces on the soft, wet bedding of mostly-dead vegetation, rolling a bit, before coming to a stop, face-down, limbs akimbo… unmoving.
It's not until the sound of Amuro likely breaking most of the Taki-nin's bones in his torsos that she lifts her head, green eyes attentive and alert. What? She was playing possom so those dangerous needles wouldn't end up getting flung at HER! She makes a face as she pushes herself to her knees, grabbing at the back of her head, her voice pitifully small, almost teary.
As the snakes retract back into her sleeve, vanishing without a trace, Kanami steps away from the paralyzed and dying ninja who had tried to hold her captive. She holds onto the Doujouji Mask but doesn't wear it fully, ready to put it down if that turns out to be the end of the fight. When it turns out to NOT be the end of the fight, Kanami sticks it in place, just as the needles start hitting her! Luckily, both of the needles that managed to hit before Amuro stopped the Chuunin hit only her kimono. There is something to be said for loose clothing! If Amuro hadn't interrupted, however, Kanami likely would have been quite full of holes. Instead she is just wet.
"…Hmph. Don't go easy on him, Amuro-sama. He is a Chuunin. He could have other tricks up his sleeve." She knows that it LOOKS like the Takigakure Chuunin is out of it, but you don't make Chuunin by being taken down in one hit.
Kanami also gazes in Datura's direction with the snake eyes that come with the mask. "Are you injured?"
Amuro's mask reveals no sign of where he may be looking, but his head turning in Datura's direction does. "Hai," he answers Kanami. "Are you able to move quickly, Datura? We will need to depart immediately." He then dumps the Chuunin hanging over his left arm like a wet towel. The Chuunin, perhaps surprisingly, is not dead. Though his ribs are likely shattered, when Amuro stands next to the Chuunin expectantly while he lies still on the ground, the ninja suddenly lashes out with a pair of kicks aimed at the tall man and tries to leap to his feet. Amuro blocks the kicks with his mesh forearm guards, and watches as the Chuunin falls back to one knee, trying to suppress noises of pain.
"You are going to tell me everything you know," Amuro says in his oh-so-deep voice. The Chuunin's mask keeps him from spitting in Amuro's face — as does the mask Amuro wears — but he nonetheless responds as though he wishes to. "To… Hell with… You!" he manages to get out around agonized gasps. "I'm not… Telling you… Anything!" Then he pulls one hand from where he was holding it on his ribs, trying to put his hands together in a ram seal, but due to the pain, he takes just long enough to start focusing his Chakra for whatever he planned to do, that Amuro is able to boot him in the stomach, sending a rush of air out of the Chuunin's mouth, and some blood to start staining the ninja's mask.
Amuro draws his foot back and stands calmly. "Iie. You misunderstand. I am not giving you a choice. I was stating a fact. You >will< tell me >everything< you know." The Chuunin looks up hatefully, arms wrapped around his torso. Then he sees Amuro holding out his right hand. On the palm is tattooed the kanji for 'Memory'. Narrowing his eyes, the Chuunin watches as the ink begins to glow red. "Seal Technique:" Amuro intones as his Chakra surges into his right hand. "Mnemosyne," he finishes. Then as the Chuunin tries to back away, Amuro leans forward just a little bit, so that his long arm can reach the target. His hand closes over the Taki-nin's head almost entirely. Blackness engulfs the ninja as he tries to scream out around the hand on his face.
When Amuro finally removes his hand from the man's head, a small amount of time has passed. The Chuunin looks around in confusion, and then asks slowly, "Wh-where… Am… I?" Then he winces and hunches over. "Nnggh. Why… Do I… Hurt?" Amuro looks towards the other two and says, "We're leaving now." He then starts walking towards Datura, his heavy boots thumping solidly in the moss.
"/Yes/! …My head hurts." The look the younger woman sends to the older is mixed with indignation and begging for sympathy as she cradles the back of her head, her fingers threaded in her hair, to try and ease the dull ache pounding there that had been left after the dispersal of the sharp, blinding pain. "Tch, wherever we go after this needs to have a masseuse. I need a scalp massage before I can find my center anymore."
With an unhappy grunt, Datura begins to get to her feet, taking her sweet time about it, as it seemed the lone male of their group was doing something that gave her more time to try and gain some pity points. After several attempts at brushing the dirt, leaves, bark, and grass stains out of her travel clothes, the young woman gives up, resigning herself to spending the rest of the day looking unkempt from the neck down. And, worst of all, she had chipped fingernail paint!
"Yeah, yeah, I can still move. Nngh, I think I'm getting a /knot/ back there?"
As the male gives the order to leave, she finally takes her hands away from comforting the back of her head, dropping one down onto her hip, the other rubbing at the back of her neck as she rolls her head around on her shoulders, loosening the complaining muscles up. "Just give me… one… Okay, let's go."
Kanami watches interestedly as Amuro does something to the enemy Chuunin. He doesn't seem to remember what just happened or… Anything else. A chilling and powerful Jutsu indeed! And apparently whatever information Amuro has gained from the enemy has convinced him they need to leave. Right now. So she removes her snake-like mask and hangs it from her obi again. "I am ready to depart." She looks towards Datura and says, "I gathered some anesthetic herbs earlier. I'll provide them to you when we've put some distance between ourselves and this patrol. They are not going to make all of your problems go away, but you will feel better, hopefully."
Then she begins leaping up into the trees with only one last look backwards at the three ninja that were foolish enough to attack. She received the impression from this encounter… That the man called 'Amuro' probably does not really need the two kunoichi for his plan. At the moment they are merely convenient. She will have to try very hard to make sure this alliance never becomes inconvenient. Because Kanami would not like forgetting her entire life in a few seconds.