Date: June 17, 2012
Akuro seeks an end to his pain. Ra seeks to fix a bridge. Two unlikely opponents meet, and discover they are more like each other than they would have imagined.
"Without You - Sadness And Sorrow"
Great River Bridge - Land of Fire
How on Earth Akuro has survived this long on the ocean in the rescue boat that was left after Kuoroke sank the pirate ship he stole is a mystery. The fact that his clothes are a bit damp as he steps onto the Great River Bridge in the Land of Fire is a testament that it hasn't exactly been a flawless trip. His sailing skills may be halfway decent from all the times he's stolen ships, but he's obviously far from being a professional captain.
Though his face is currently covered by a plain black mask, a certain exasperation and tenseness are shown in the way he carries himself. After all the people he's screwed with so far, he has yet to run into one that could beat him at the game and kill him. It's all his life has become with her gone, playing his sadistic games with people until someone can bring him the death he prays for. Were it the other personalities and being a bit of a coward, he'd have likely hurled himself off a cliff already.
Spotting a small group of people on the bridge, the insane shinobi reaches to his side and grabs a deck of cards from a pouch. Time for another game.
The group of people on the bridge are likely to scatter even before they see Akuro or are aware of who he is or what he's doing there. Why? Because the bridge is lurching and buckling like it's going to fall at any moment! Maintaining balance on it is not going to be easy for those standing on it, but they have time to get off of it before they fall into the river! If they don't do so, then they are very foolish, but no harm comes to them. The bridge stops moving, and a single man in an open, worn, shabby-brown robe and hood comes leaping up from underneath the structure. Is he responsible for the bridge's movements somehow!? He certainly seems agile but he's also not too muscular based on what can be seen of his frame.
Still, appearances can be deceiving. For instance, he looks human at first. Then he turns his head a bit and the hint of a pair of glistening red orbs where his eyes should become evident. He looks old, weary, thin, lined with age, but he does not carry himself as an elderly individual even if he hunches over like someone's great great great grandfather. He stands there silently for a time, emitting lots of vibes like, 'normal people should probably go away now', and staring at Akuro. If the 'normal people' on the bridge haven't fled like scaredy-cats by now, they should get on that. The man, however, calls out in a scratchy voice, "This bridge is not safe to travel on. We ask that you go around." We who? It's just him, right? He stands there for several seconds afterwards before lifting an arm and waving it vaguely, almost as an afterthought, to indicate that Akuro should go 'around' the bridge.
As the bridge starts to quake, Akuro blinks and looks around quickly. What could be causing that? It doesn't seem to be an earthquake. Whether they noticed him or not, the group quickly disappears via hauling tail back toward Konoha. When the tipping stops, Akuro looks up to see the old man and blinks. He is quite aware that appearances have little to do with strength. He himself is barely five feet tall and looks like the product of a clown and a cat.
"Hey, I'm walking here, old timer!" the odd shinobi calls out in a half-laughing/half-growling voice, completely ignoring the warning given. He walks a bit closer to the stranger, holding up the deck and pulling a few cards to the to top of the box, keeping them down in the box a bit still for some reason. "Pick a card," he says, beginning to focus chakra throughout his body to prepare for today's game, which has a surprise guest that came in as a last-minute replacement for the group.
The robed and hooded man watches impassively as the cat-clown-gambler person approaches him. He looks at the cards, and then raises his head back up to look Akuro in the face. He blinks his eyes. And then blinks his eyes. And then… Blinks his eyes. And then blinks his eyes. That's four pairs of eyes. None of them look human. "We are repairing the bridge. We appreciater your offer of a gift, but we are occupied at the moment." Offer of a gift? What? Oh, he must think that Akuro is offering a card as… A… Gift or something.
Some hint of who 'we' might be comes shortly after that, as a high-pitched chittering noise and then the skittering of eight hairy legs across the bridge sounds out. A rather large spider runs from one side of the bridge to the other. As in 'big enough to potentially be able to chase down and kill a housecat'. It trails a long line of silvery, wispy spider's silk behind it.
As Akuro focuses such a large amount of Chakra, however, this old man begins to understand what kind of situation he is in. "We are uninterested in conflict. We will provide you with one single opportunity to abandon this course of action. Beyond that, we will offer only death." He doesn't gather any Chakra of his own, but he does seem to hunker down a bit more, preparing to fight if he must. He also doesn't seem reluctant to kill a stranger if he is attacked. "I am Hunter Ra, servant of the Spider Queen, Jurougumo. We have lived long. If you end your life now, you will waste all potential ahead of you. Consider this, and then live as you have chosen… However long or short that may be."
At the rejection of the choice, Akuro tilts his head slightly then blinks as what appear to be the legs of an enormous spider come over the bridge. That definitely changes the situation a bit. Being eaten a live may not be an ideal way to die, but still… It's a way out. Maybe the thing's venom will put him to sleep first if that happens.
"Spider Queen, huh?" he asks rhetorically as he looks back to the old man. "This is the only purpose I have left. Everything else has left." With that, he grabs one of the cards from the deck, which sparks as a piece of wore attached to it is yanked from a coil, creating a surge of electricity as it flies at Ra, attempting to jolt him a bit.
The electrified wire snaps out, sizzling, sparking, likely painful if it strikes, and passes right through empty air. Swirling brown cloth trails out from Ra's new position, crouched half a foot outside the range of the dangerous-looking wire's reach. He eyes it, unblinking, even as white-hot sparks pass before his reflective crimson eyes. The vertical lines rising from both upper and lower lips give his face a wrinked or age-worn appearance, but they also appear to be a bit too precise, measured, and DEEP to be simply a side-effect of old-age. As he opens his mouth to respond to Akuro, he says, "One must do what one must." Then he darts into close range in an eye-blink, the same speed at which he evaded that attack originally, and throws a straight punch with his left fist, directly at Akuro's belly. "We must do what we must as well," he adds on afterwards. If the punch lands, it's likely that it's going to have enormous force behind it. The proportional strength of a spider or ten, and all that.
"Sounds like a fun game to me," Akuro replies with a chuckle as he sidesteps out of the way of the incoming strike of doom. "Impressive," he remarks as he watches the force behind the missed strike. He then drives the claw-like weapon on his right hand forward, pushing a bit of chakra through his arm to add some extra force as the claw is driven at the man's gut. As he attacks physically, he also subtly attacks mentally, attempting to forge a link between them so that he can perform Genjutsu against the old man. "Not bad for an old man. Been eating whole grain your whole life so you don't get and decrepit?" he ask sarcastically as he attacks, trying some mind games to try to throw him off.
The claw-weapon, Chakra enhancement or no, clashes not with gut but with something harder than mere flesh. Ra didn't appear to be wearing any armor before! What's the deal!? The 'deal' is made obvious as another 'arm', or rather 'leg', that looks quite a lot like a spider's appendage acts as an immovable barrier to the claws, and then swings outwards in an attempt to push Akuro off-balance. At the same time, spiders awaken within Ra's head and begin consuming the Genjutsu Chakra that attempted to invade him. Then they eat some of Ra's own Chakra too. The skittering of arachnids across his brain alerts him that he is dealing with a Genjutsu user too.
Well, then. Two appendages that are clearly not human emerge from where there were folded against the sides of Ra's torso. The spider legs begin striking furiously and rapidly at Akuro, as Ra in turn forms hand-seals with his human appendages. Seems he's preparing something and yet with those extra limbs he can keep on fighting and defending even while readying a Ninjutsu. This is a very dangerous opponent. Perhaps more dangerous than Akuro thought at first.
But that's good, right? This is what the Rankoro WANTED, right? A bunch of spiders skitter all over Ra's body, coming out of sleeves, out of his shirt, out from under his hood, etc.
"We primarily consume the liquified innards of other creatures," he responds in the same passionless, scratchy, vibratory, inhuman voice as he has been so far.
Maybe not QUITE what Akuro wanted…
Blinking as both of his attacks are so easily warded off, Akuro watches the old man suddenly take on a much more monstrous form. Thrown off guard a bit, the first strike sends him tumbling to the ground. He manages to roll out of the way of the next strike, only for the next to slice his arm a bit. "Hey, hey, that's a bit grabby for a first date!" he calls out sarcastically as he kicks back up to his feet, quickly grabbing a mask from his bag and changing it with his other one, now wearing a mask that looks like the face of a Sad Clown. He glances around at all the spiders, chuckling a bit as he says, "Lot of mouths to feed, old timer. Didn't figure you still had it in you!"
At this point in time, Ra appears to have nothing further to say to Akuro. If he does, he doesn't say it. Hunter Ra, Okumo Ra, Okumo Abara, Clan Founder Ra… That Akuro as yet doesn't realize who he's fighting may not necessarily be odd, given that Ra was thought to be dead many decades before he showed up in Kirigakure trying to request that the entire Okumo Clan be relocated to Fukaizan — Kingdom of Spiders. Unless Ra actually comes out and says who he is, 'Hunter Ra' isn't a lot to go on — especially for the newer generations.
On some distant level, he considers perhaps he should be saddened about the death of one who has so much ahead of him. That's an interesting idea and he'll ponder the merits and flaws of such a concept at a later date, perhaps after he has finished feeding this child to his spiders and has resumed repairing the bridge. Instead, of feeling saddened, thus, he swells with Chakra, cuts the thumb of one of his hands with one of his sharpened spider-legs, and then spreads the blood across a spidery tattoo branded on his left forearm. He intones lifelessly, "Kuchiyose no Jutsu. «Summoning Technique.»"
A large cloud of smoke erupts from Ra and spreads outwards, concealing any sight of him for awhile. When the smoke clears… Ra is standing atop a spider bigger than most houses. 25 feet tall, 30 feet long, and ready to kill. Ra stands there and looks down towards Akuro for quite awhile. Eventually, he says, "We have many mouths to feed… And some very large appetites."
On one account, Akuro probably doesn't know who Ra is due to being from the Land of Grass and likely not that family with the history of the Land of Water. On another, considering his peronsalities, he probably doesn't care. As his rather changing of masks is suddenly outdone, his eyes widen slightly at the appearance of the gigantic spder. Yeah, he's definitely going to be something's lunch today. He finally jumped in over his head. "Well, aren't you a sight for sore eyes!" he calls out to the creature in his odd voice. "I thought all I was going to see today was wrinkly skin and adult diapers!" With that, he grabs two cards from the deck, tossing them directly at the old man atop the giant spider. The first sparks just likely the first one he threw, the next having a fuse attached that the flame of activates a seal on, creating a massive explosion of flame when it hits whatever it ends up hitting. The use of both of these together is really just because Akuro himself thinks it looks cool and probably hurts like Hell when a person gets shocked and burned at the same time.
The pair of cards fly at Ra. He leaps up and backwards, at an angle, so that the cards wind up coming near him once he's AWAY from his summoned ally. Then, as one of the cards detonates, Ra appears to have been caught in the explosion. A cloud of smoke colored the grey of fire-smoke rather than the white that comes from Summoning surrounds the spot in mid-air where he had been when the card detonated. A few moments later, while the echoes of the explosion still pass over the river and the double-back when they bounce off the opposite bank, over and over, Ra comes swinging out of the smoke cloud on a web line.
He wrapped it around part of the bridge and swung himself around and out of the explosion's range. As he completes his circuit, the robed man lands in a crouch, and then remains where he is. It's about then that Akuro may feel the sensation of something crawling on him…
Several small spiders left behind on Akuro at some point. When did Ra have the time to do that!? Was it back then, when he tried to punch Akuro in the gut and was avoided!? That's the only time he was close enough. The spiders… All appear to be black widows.
They proceed trying to bite Akuro on any exposed flesh they can get to, as Kyodaigumo performs an astounding leap that sends her up to the top of the bridge's supports, where she immediately produces an entire web in mid-air and lands upon it.
"Perhaps you have nothing left, as you say." Ra stands up from where he had been crouched. "Just as we… -I- did when I was declared a relic of no use to the same family I founded, and they wished to have me terminated. I found a new purpose. I found something new to live for. But for a long… Long…" Ra lowers his head, and though his voice remains inhuman, his body language indicates he might still be human after all. "…Long, lonely time. For ten years I did not exist except as a creature waiting for his turn to die. I sought out death many times, as you have. I can tell from the vibration of your very soul that you are in pain. I know that pain."
Ra's voice rises in volume for the first time. "I KNOW that pain!" He lowers his head further. In his mind, he is reliving memories. A large Black Widow by the name of Digumo speaking to him as he stands in the rain. 'You are strong. Further, your Chakra is of a type that our Queen finds acceptable. You have been given a chance to be useful to her.' Ra stood and stared with all eight of his eyes. 'Will you serve, Hunter Ra?' Ra thought about it, and so numbed to anything but pain as he was, he decided there was nothing left to do but accept. The only other option was to die. 'Very good, Hunter Ra. Welcome to the Court of the Spider Queen.'
Ra's awareness comes back to the present. "It was good fortune that allowed me to meet the Spider Queen's servant and to become someone of use. Even after losing everything, it was not my own efforts that guided me to the future I now live in. It was merely 'luck'. You have not been as fortunate as I. I… Could have been you. Iie <No>… I mean to say, that I WAS you." Ra raises his head a bit, so that just his bottom pair of eyes, where eyes SHOULD be in a human face, can see Akuro. "…Looking at you now, I wonder if I appeared to be the most miserable person in the world then too, and Digumo made her offer out of pity."
Ra shakes his head. "I do not pity you, but I… Sympathize. Therefore, I will offer you some good fortune. You have potential that could still be of use to someone. I can not promise love, compassion, or understanding from the Spider Queen… But I can promise a purpose other than simply dying. Will you serve, Hunter? Or will you die?" Kyodaigumo seems to be preparing an enormous, web-encased coccoon. It looks like Ra is serious. He will kill Akuro if he does not accept this offer. But he also does not do any of the deceptive things human do to each other to convince another to do as one wishes instead of as the other wishes.
He simply presents the same choice he was given. 'Serve or die.' What good fortune comes of the decision is up to the individual to make. Ra will not stand for Akuro. But he will point out Akuro's own legs.
As he feels the crawling, Akuro blinks and looks down to see numerous black widows crawling on his body… Oh, Hell. That's a beginning to his loss of this game. Of course, a loss of his type of game usually means death. As the man speaks to him again, the odd shinobi looks up to where he stands. He goes silent for a few moments, clenching his fists as the man speaks with sympathy. While most people would take the words to heart and break down into sobbing to have some kind of heartfelt moment, Akuro doesn't seem to be reacting that way. In fact, he only seems to get more tense.
"I've been here my whole life!" he finally calls back. "My own family didn't want me. My village sent me away to get rid of me. Every person I bond with either leaves or dies, just Kanrai did. She was the only one who wanted to accept me, as damaged as I was, and she was stripped away without me even knowing until sailors on a ship pulled her body up. Every time I devote myself to something or someone, I only end up in pain.
As he feels the bites of the insects, their venom beginning to seep into his blood and weaken his body. "There is nothing left for me. No matter how hard I try, there has never been anything for me here. This game is the only thing I have left. If that means I die at the end of this round to finally meeting an opponent worthy to do it, so be it! It's better than living without her." In perhaps his final act of defiance, the clown-like Jounin grabs another card from his deck, this one having a much larger fuse lit on it as he tosses it. Upon impact with whatever it hits, it creates an explosion twice as massive as the last, enough to rock the bridge a bit in its wake.
The massive explosion sends flames everywhere, a shockwave that makes Kyodaigumo on her web rock and bounce, though she does not budge from her position. A flaming crater is left behind. Ra leapt so high, straight up and using the explosion's shockwave to boost it, that he is only just now coming down. He must have leapt well over 500 feet for this to be the case. As he comes back down, Kyodaigumo lets out a roar and releases her web cocoon. Ra lashes out with one of his spider-limbs to slash open the cocoon, and releases a huge number of spiderlings, each trailing its own web line as they descend upon Akuro.
Ra lands on his feet with such ease that it would make a cat envious. Then he rises slowly and replies to Akuro with his voice under control again. "I was correct then. You ARE just like I was. Exactly… The same. You have chosen your path. I have chosen mine. You will serve a purpose in death that you did not in life. You will provide life to many who would have died otherwise. In a way, you will live on inside of them, as their nourishment. To serve a purpose and to escape from pain are both the same 'card'. If I can not help you with the one… I can only hope solace will be found in my giving the other."
He then begins to walk towards Akuro, and one of his hands opens and closes, producing cracking noises as he shifts bones around inside of himself to get his hand to operate as he wishes it to.
As the cocoon is sliced open, Akuro blinks at the massive number of spiders come down on him with webs. Thinking about it a bit too late to respond, he is pulled to the ground and bound by the webs as the spiders prepare to have him for lunch. Natural instinct would normally cause one to start fighting against the webbing and such, but Akuro knows he lost the game fair and square this time. Of course, there's always the venom of the spiders running through his body and weakening it. Really, at this point, there's not much he could do to get out of this. He's finally met his match. Where most would fight to try to stay awake at this point in attempt to survive, he seems to be content with allowing the venom weakening his body to bring weariness upon him. Maybe if he lets it put him to sleep, he won't feel too much of what's to come, as he knows getting eaten alive is going to be far from fun. "… That's a pretty noble speech for one wanting to say 'You're going to be lunch for my spider buddy's kids!'" he calls out in his odd voice, his insane tone still there, though one can definitely tell in his voice that he is beginning to slip away.
Ra advances to within melee range and says, "I know. It is what the spiders of Fukaizan would say. I do not believe it myself. I have seen too much death to find nobility in killing. There is NOTHING NOBLE in DEATH. It simply… Is." He stands there within arm's reach, and then… Reaches out an arm. He places one hand around Akuro's throat. "As one human to another, even if I may no longer qualify as such, I will grant you a mercy that spiders would not. Because you have hurt so much already, for so long, you do not deserve further mistreatment."
"You will not be eaten. I will bury you myself, and I will pray to any god or demon that is listening that, if reincarnation exists, you are given a chance to live a life without such suffering." Suddenly, muscles begin contracting from one side of Ra's body, moving in a 'wave' of gathering tension in the direction of the other side. As the tension wave grows, the bones themselves seem to shift, and the muscles in his left arm — the one presently extended to Akuro — swell beyond their original size. "Please, sleep deeply, and know no pain." «Progenitor Style Secret Technique: Strength Of Fifty Spiders.» he thinks. Then he closes his hand as all that tension, all that energy, is expelled into Akuro's throat in an attempt to simple crush his neck faster than the brain can receive pain signals.
"Agreed," Akuro says with a slight nod to the approaching Hunter. As he is offered the mercy of being buried rather than eaten, he blinks and would tilt his head were there not a rather strong hand now on his throat. "I appreciate that," he manages with the grip around his neck. "But, if I could just meet my Shiva-megami, where she went… I think I'd be content for eternity." Any further comments the odd shinobi would make are cut off as the strength of the hand on his throat suddenly multiplies greatly and crushes his throat rather easily. His body falls limp then, life leaving his body once and for all… And perhaps he has gone to meet Kanrai… But he more than likely went to Hell, considering all the people he's been killing for no reason lately.