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Old 03-27-2014, 05:46 PM   #21
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Don’t even worry about it.

Taisuke pulled his arm out of the crook of his elbow to speak with Hitomi, then turned his head to sneeze twice. He rubbed his nose a bit and sniffled, but seemed to be otherwise fine. Once all the shinobi cleared the border of the rot, the samurai was quick to lead them back into the jungle, away from what remained of the serpent and the cloud of settling spores. He talked as he took careful steps, looking for roots and vines hidden by underbrush. Taisuke held a low hanging branch back as he passed.

Out here, it’s pretty much kill or be killed – no one’s going to get too upset if you kill something trying to make lunch out of you. I mean, unless you’re working for those Jintek stooges, they might rather you get eaten if they get a nice venom sample out of it.” Taisuke huffed and brushed his hand through his hair, scattering little flecks of yellow to the ground. The boy glanced at Hitomi. “I don’t know much about the rots myself, but Kei says they’re…what does he say…they’re sites of spiritual blight.” He said the words carefully, as if they fit funny in his mouth. “I just know that anything that wants to live like that is probably evil.

After a few more minutes of travel, Taisuke took a sharp turn and led the shinobi down over a hill. Here, the mountains started to rise up, creating foothills. Taisuke went to the base of one and smoothed his hands over rough stone, brushing dirt and dust off until he revealed a small, square hole. He fished into his robe a moment, pulled out a stone peg, and slotted it into the wall like a key. A section of stone slid sideways and revealed a secret tunnel and a rush of stale air hit the shinobi.

A skeleton toppled forward from behind the stone wall, dressed in the robes of a monk, with bleach white bones. Taisuke startled away.

Holy hell!
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Old 03-27-2014, 08:02 PM   #22
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The group seemed to pull away from the snake and before long, Taisuke seemed to ease up a little bit. This allowed Takeo a bit of breathing room before he turned to Tetsumi. It was true that he didn’t have the sword with him then…he barely carried it around with him as it was. This time it was more of a safety precaution than anything else. ”It’s probably less me using a sword and me having the sword. I prefer not to rely on it but in an event that I need it, it’s here.” The redhead reached up to rub the back of his head as he talked, not really sure how to explain it really.

As the group continued to walk, Takeo found himself drifting to the back of the party once more. Initially he was there to protect the rear of the group in case something came up from behind them. Now it was happening instinctively. He wasn’t really cut out to be a leader…he knew it. At least he wasn’t yet. Instead his hands slid into the pocket of his pants once more. He listened to what their guide had to say and rolled his eyes a little bit at the sound of spiritual blight. It sounded a bit hokey, but not enough to warrant voicing it.

Once they got to the foothills, the Chuunin’s eyes focused on what was going on ahead. His hand quickly went to his nose when the stale air flowed out of the chamber. ”When’s the last time someone’s been in here?” The falling skeleton did very little to bother Takeo but his eyes squinted at the reaction of Taisuke. For someone that is their guide…he seemed to be as surprised if not more so than the people he was to be leading.
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Old 03-28-2014, 11:51 AM   #23
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"Spiritual blight." Hitomi repeated it as though the words were never meant to be placed together like that. Something like "jumbo shrimp" or "living dead," she supposed.

What do they call those? Some kind of moron. Right.

Hitomi caught herself staring at Taisuke again. He certainly was pretty. It was quite unfortunate that he had so little confidence in her or her intellect. She intended to stay fairly close to him just in case she was needed for a quick reaction. He was the main focus of their task out here, after all. Fortunately, there were plenty of freaky new plants, animals, and weirdness to look at, which meant that the young kunoichi's eyes were rarely locked upon Taisuke's butt.

"Sounds like some backwoods voodoo to me," she mumbled under her breath. Hitomi was a logical girl who liked to see evidence of things. Something like a "spiritual blight" sounded abstract enough to be absurd.

The teen watched with some interest as Taisuke set about activating some sort of bizarre key setup, only to be scared half to death when a portal opened and a skeleton came tumbling out. She managed to bite back a yelp of alarm, but only barely. Even before she'd realized she'd reacted, the kunoichi had a kunai in her hand, ready to launch an attack.

Once her pulse slowed again, the Nara took a look at the unfortunate pile of bones at her feet. "Umm... is this a friend of yours?" She managed to avoid making an inappropriate joke, again, just barely, in case this was someone that Taisuke actually knew. Her gaze then shifted up and around, peering into the dark tunnel in search of an obvious explanation for the death.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:18 AM   #24
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Tetsumi watched Taisuke and Takeo carefully for any signs of the poison her kikai were already combating within her own system, but it became clear as they went on that both men were fine. That's a relief, she thought. An incredibly unlikely, or at least improbable relief, but it does make things simpler. Taisuke shook pollen from his hair as Tetsumi watched. Her stomach sank slightly. It makes some things simpler. Why isn't he out? Is this a monk thing?

She filed it away as a question to ask, but for the time being Tetsumi was simply enjoying having her kikai back. They worked away at the poison inside of her diligently, almost shamefully; the bugs didn't like being off guard any more than Tetsumi did. She sent them positive thoughts. By the time the group had reached the stone, they were content again; even the two groups she had left to hollow out the serpent's skull were on their way back. Tetsumi could feel their giddiness at being free of the Rot even before they were in sight.

Then the stone opened.

"Ah—" Tetsumi didn't even see the skeleton as it tumbled out; her kikai lurched hard enough to send her reeling the second the stale air reached her. This fucking island, the Aburame barely kept from muttering. She could hear Takeo and Hitomi, but her focus was fully on Taisuke now. Something was rising up inside of her, a... thirst? Hunger? Tetsumi didn't know, but the kikai were absorbed by it. She needed more information. She needed to know what this was.

"Taisuke, what's down there?" Even to her own ears, Tetsumi's voice sounded strained. She struggled to articulate her thoughts. "There's—power. A presence?" The kikai were shouting, but it was all jumbled. "Ah—watch out."

Tetsumi turned back towards the forest as her kikai caught up. They hovered in an erratic cloud just outside of the area of influence. That looks familiar, she thought, trying desperately to make some sense of the situation. That flight pattern. Where have I seen that before?
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Old 03-30-2014, 12:42 PM   #25
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Taisuke glanced at the shinobi, then slowly sidled over to the bones and crouched down. He gingerly moved them, clearly uncomfortable, and started looking through the skeleton's clothes. After a couple seconds of intense concentration, he fished a locket out of a fold in the robe and a tinge of sadness showed in his face. He opened the locket, quickly closed it again, and looped it around his wrist for safekeeping. Taisuke stood back up.

Jirou, one of the older men. He left on an expedition about a week ago – I guess this is where he ended up.” Taisuke brushed his hands on his hakama. “When we get back, I'll let the temple know and we'll come collect his body for last rites. And inform his children.

Taisuke gestured at the cave entrance. “Jirou besides, no one's supposed to have been here in...months? Years maybe?” He waggled the stone key in his hands. “Obviously, it's a pretty well kept secret, particularly with all these newbies coming onto the island and getting into trouble.” The boy started to walk, headed down into the tunnel as he continued to speak. Taisuke unsheathed his wakizashi and held it over his head – the blade let out a warm, yellow light that filled the tunnel like a lantern.

The thing is, there shouldn't be anything down here. I mean, nothing that could do that or that would be a, uh, presence? Careful steps.” Taisuke slowed his walk to place his feet on specific stones in the hallway as it began to slope downwards.

The walls began to open into a wide, round chamber that looked to be some kind of religious room. Tall pillars supported a vaulted ceiling, covered in elaborate carvings of animals and people alike. At the center of the room was a pedestal with a round tablet on top. And sitting on the tablet was a singular massive stag beetle, nearly as large as the shinobi, and quite possibly bigger than Hitomi. Its legs spilled over the tablet itself and clung to the pedestal, its carapace a translucent blue with dark veins within. When the beetle buzzed its wings, electricity crackled between them. A yellow eye turned to look at the shinobi and Taisuke nearly dropped his sword. The beetle buzzed and a mellow, male voice echoed through the chamber.

hello children how wonderful of you to arrive so swiftly it was perhaps getting a bit lonely down here don't you think so?

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Old 03-30-2014, 02:24 PM   #26
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Peering into the cavern, Takeo once again looked at Taisuke. This body was picked clean and for him to have only been gone a week. Things weren’t sitting right with the redhead and he squinted a little bit. He shook his right hand a bit before closing it to a fist then relaxing it. All of these uncertainties were making him tense and he didn’t want to feel like this in a place where anything could happen. That giant two headed snake wasn’t an accident so it was only a matter of time until the group ran into something else that shouldn’t even exist.

His eyes caught the light source and recognized that as something that he was able to do in a way with his own blade. Takeo’s was jutsu based but it still would end up serving the same purpose. Part of him wanted another light source, but wondered if that would have been that good of an idea. Instead he followed their guide and the rest of the group slowly. His steps were careful as they began to descend the corridor.

His eyes glanced over the walls before hearing the buzzing and the cracking of electricity. Quickly Takeo’s head turned to face the stag beetle and a sigh escaped his lips. First snakes now giant bugs. He had dealt with Tetsumi for long enough to know that this couldn’t even have been normal for her. At least he hoped.

The redhead watched the bug for a moment before looking to the Aburame. If anyone was going to be able to talk to this bug, it was going to be her, but Takeo would have to stay on his guard. After taking a deep breath, he calmed his nerves and balled his fists once more, not sure what else to expect in this room.
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Old 03-30-2014, 10:33 PM   #27
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"A week ago? Really?" Clearly there was no logic in this place. Hitomi was quickly becoming skeptical about this entire situation. Given the look on Takeo's face when she'd glanced in his direction, he thought something similar.

The teen turned back and eyed Taisuke carefully, and not because he was hot. She hesitated before pressing forward after him. Despite stumbling upon the remains of a supposed comrade, he pressed on as if it was nothing unusual. He didn't even care to know why a carcass had just fallen at his feet. He didn't question how such a thing could happen or [i]what[i] could have ripped the flesh from his friend's bones in such a hurry. He simply kept moving all while claiming that the dark passage was empty.

So pretty and yet so dumb. That's a fuckin' shame.

The Nara felt a little foolish for following. She was torn between letting him walk to his death when her assignment had been to protect him and bailing on his ass to head back home. If he was just naturally stupid then she shouldn't let him welcome death so easily. She knew, though, that if his intelligence was in question, he wouldn't have survived this long in this freakin' hellhole. If he was merely leading them into a trap... well... she'd just have to kill him herself. Oddly enough it was probably going to be easier for her to do in a dimly-lit tunnel full of shadows.

"Fucking awesome." Hitomi was not pleased at the sudden appearance of the world's biggest bug staring her in the face. She was silently cursing Taisuke for being such a tool, all while taking a step back to clear the way for the Aburame to step forward and do... bug stuff.

"All you," the Nara whispered. "If the next bullshit surprise is a big angry shadow, I'll handle that."
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Old 03-31-2014, 11:18 AM   #28
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Tetsumi stared at the tunnel for a few long seconds after her teammates followed Taisuke down it. She was seriously considering not following, or demanding that they turn around, but the chuunin supposed that this was what they trained for. "Be on your guard," she sighed at last, forcing herself forward. Tetsumi side-stepped the skeleton without fully noticing; she was far more concerned with her kikai's reaction than a dead body.

The stress and pheromone level of the hive rose in jagged spikes as they made their way through the tunnels. Tetsumi lowered her mask in the shadowy tunnel to get a better scent off of the kikai; as soon as the cool, ozone-like smell registered, the Aburame knew what they were going to find. The flight pattern clicked.

Mating. Courtship. There was something--or somethings in that tunnel that was getting the hive all riled up.

"Keep it in your goddamn pants," she hissed. "I don't care how esteemed or imposing it is—unless it's the genesis kikai, you are not allowed near it." Tetsumi pushed as much as her will into the words as she could. It was enough to keep her kikai from tearing free of their tunnels—and her skin; Tetsumi's bond with the insects outstripped most jounin of the clan. They'll obey, she thought. The tunnel was opening up, revealing a chamber, and... well.

They'll probably obey.

"Kind of you,"
Tetsumi muttered. She stepped forward. The stag beetle reminded her of Banzatsuia, but smaller and—more vocal. Fascinating, the Aburame thought, almost as entranced as her kikai. His chakra control is advanced enough to manipulate either our ears or the air around him—amazing. Would he come back to the hive with me, I wonder?

Rather than ask, Tetsumi bowed. "Hello, elder. You... seemed to be expecting us. Are these tunnels your domain?" she asked. One way or another the beetle would understand, be it through her clan's abilities or his own intelligence. Tetsumi didn't want to pick a fight with this creature. "We would ask permission to travel through your halls, elder. Our friends need to—" she hesitated. Taisuke and his organization had been terribly vague about the details. She settled on, "continue." The Aburame paused once more. The skeleton at the entrance loomed in her mind. "Forgive us for asking, but there was another one here this week. Its flesh was devoured. Do you know of this?"

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Old 03-31-2014, 12:47 PM   #29
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The beetle turned its eye about the room, looking between the three shinobi and Taisuke in turn. After a long pause on Taisuke, the insect's gaze fell on Tetsumi and rest there. He waited nearly a minute before speaking again, this time letting out a droll sigh that seemed to shake out of the dark corners of the room.

kikai and one of their whores I thought surely such a family would be dead by now but I suppose we can't have everything we want don't you agree corpse?” The stag beetle flicked its eyes to Taisuke, who had gone from nervous to brow furrowed in anger in an instant. “a poorly kept secret if I've ever seen one though you probably had these three fooled these two seem to be deafmutes and the other is just a beehive with a pair of breasts the hiveminds truly are the lowest of insects makes my shell crawl thinking about it

Taisuke drew his katana and held a sword in either hand. He set his feet on the stone floor and pointed the glowing wakizashi at the insect. “You killed Jirou on sacred ground and for that-

not even a thank you children today are so ungrateful though I hesitate to call you a child not knowing the age of your true form in that way maybe we are alike I must admit that the Watchers have quite handily ruined me existing in a state like this is nearly painful but I digress I did devour your compatriot purely out of survival from a number of angles not the least of whi-

Quiet! Be silent!” Taisuke roared and the beetle responded by buzzing its wings once, but saying no more. The samurai turned his head to the shinobi. “This thing's been twisted by the island, like the Lac that destroyed that Jintek camp. We need to destroy it.
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Old 03-31-2014, 02:18 PM   #30
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This beetle had an attitude…Takeo could respect that. His eyes squinted a little bit as he looked between Tetsumi, the beetle, and Taisuke. Being called a deafmute didn’t really bother him too much. He’d been called worse things by this point and this was hardly a drop in the bucket as far as insults go. The Aburame took a brunt of the lashing but it was expected as she was the one that spoke up and this thing had a clear disdain for her family.

Taisuke was the one; however, that seemed most stirred by the speech from the beetle and the redhead perked an eyebrow. Something wasn’t right here. This beetle didn’t really seem like the type that would stretch things just for kicks even if he was crotchety. Takeo shifted slightly where he stood as he watched their guide flip out a little more at the beetle then turn to the three shinobi for help.

”This isn’t the first thing we’ve seen today that’s been fucked up by whatever is out on this island. At least he’s deciding to talk to us first before trying to kill us. How about we hear him out and then decide. We are here to protect you and as of yet, your life isn’t really in danger.” Takeo took a few steps forward as he balled and loosened his fists once more. He was itching for a fight at this point…running was never really his style but who here was wrong? Who was the bad guy?

Hopefully the other two shinobi would see where Takeo was coming from with his response, but even if not…he wasn’t going to back down from what he said. Things weren’t right on this island…that much was for sure and if this beetle had a little bit of insight to give, it may be better in the long run.
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