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 Venturing out

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Posts : 424
Join date : 2014-12-15

PostSubject: Venturing out   Tue Aug 16, 2016 10:54 pm

Silently, an arrow was pulled from the quiver and nocked to the string.

"How did it get this bad?"

The wood made no noise as the arrow was drawn back the full length of it's shaft.

"How did everything go wrong so fast?"

The bow was leveled and held steady as it was aimed at the person leaning against the shack

"Is this... Is this what it's always going to be like?"

Time seemed to slow as the man the arrow was aimed at looked about the area, weapon drawn and held out menacingly as he kept watch

"Can I even do this?"

The arrow practically trembled with pent up energy before suddenly surging forward as the grip on it was loosed. With nearly no noise at all, the arrow sailed through the air.

"When was the first mistake even made?"

Several hours ago...

"A C rank mission? Are you sure you're ready for one of those deary?" Mrs. Kiniko asked as she refilled Seresana cup of tea.

"Mhmm, poshitiff," Seresana replied around the bite of tsukune currently filling her mouth.

"And you said you were escourting some man, a Mr. Sand-mun? Back to his home?"

"Mr. Sahnkuum, and yeah. He was wanting someone to escourt him back home after spending a few days here."

"And when do you head off on this mission?"

"I'm actually supposed to meet him at the gate as soon as I'm done here," Seresana replied after a drink of tea, but before she popped the last of the tsukune into her mouth.

"Oh! Well I'd best not keep you dear. Good luck on your mission and be sure to stop by and tell me all about it when you get back," Mrs. Kiniko said before turning about and wandering off to tend to the other patrons. It wasn't a particularly busy day in the resturaunt today, only six other people sat in the lobby and four of them were at one table and all wearing hats while the other two were at another table.

Shortly after Mrs. Kiniko's departure, Seresana finished off the tsukune, tea, and got up to leave. She dropped some money on the table before grabbing up her bow and leaving the store with a departing wave. It was an overcast day, but the rain was holding off for the moment and the temperature was warm with a gentle but persistent breeze. Seresana hurried her way through the town in her usual outfit, quickly making her way over to the main gate where she could see her escourt already standing with an impatient expression.

"It's about time you showed up," Mr. Sahnkuum said critically. "Are you sure you're qualified for this mission? You seem a tad... small."

Seresana's right eye twitched a little at the 'small' comment, but she otherwise kept up her calm smile. "I assure you Mr. Sahnkuum, I'll get you home just fine," she replied while taking a moment to look over her client. The man was middle aged, couldn't have been over thirty five and was dressed in well made and sturdy, but not fancy clothing. Several large pouches and bags hung from a thick and heavy looking sash, and the pack the man had on his back was also heavily laden with supplies. Despite the weight though, Mr. Sahnkuum bore it seemingly easily.

The man continued to eye Seresana critically but finally let out a sigh while shifting the large pack. "Alright then, let's get a move on. And it's Panzu." Seresana nodded before rushing up next to her escourt and walking with him. The trip itself was set to take place over the course of two days, and the first one came and went surprisingly quickly. The two walked for hours, mostly in silence. Seresana's few attempts at sparking up some kind of conversation hadn't yielded much more than a few curt answers and weird looks. They continued walking through the sun's rise, peak and well into it's set without any true issue. Now as the sun was starting to sink below the horizon line, the two hurried along the road to try and reach the roadside inn that had just barely came into view.

Much like the day, the evening was spent mostly in silence, right up until the two of them were served dinner. "I want to leave early tomorrow, earlier than we set off today," Panzu said without looking up from a bowl of rice he was currently working through.

"Oh, uhm sure thing Mr. Sahnkuum."

"Good, and hey, I thought I said to call me Panzu. You're making me feel old with that mister nonsense," the man replied as he leaned over to grab up a couple pieces of fish.

"Oh, hehehe sorry abou that Mr. Sah- Panzu. Though, why do you want to leave so early?" Seresana asked before sipping on some soup.

"Homesick," Panzu replied very quickly, and then added on "and I need to get back to work."

Seresana's face flahsed with concern for a moment at the rushed and seemingly defensive reply, but when she couldn't think of anything the man might need to be defensive about, so she simply shrugged and went back to her meal. "Alright, we'll leave at first light then. Guess I'll head to bed now then," Seresana said before excusing herself from the table and heading to her room. Seresana hesitated at the door for a moment to cast another look back an Panzu but the older man simply kept his eyes on his meal and continued to seemingly ignore her. "Goodnight," Seresana said and then resumed her way to her bed and a restful night's sleep.

The next morning came early, with Seresana finding herself dressed and on her way towards the dining area for some breakfast just as the sun was breaking over the horizon. She looked about the room when she entered for Panzu, her eyes first seeing a group of four wearing hats at a nearby table. Past them was a single woman that seemed to have fallen back asleep while awaiting her meal, then a couple that were almost sitting ontop of each other while eating, and finally Panzu wearing the same grumpy expression he always seemed to have was seated at the last table.

Seresana hurriedly worked her way over towards his table and sat down across from him. "I already ordered for us, it wasn't cheap," Panzu said without looking up.

"Wah, uh, why?" Seresana asked back with a puzzled expression.

"You're late. I was hoping to have left by now, so you can pay," Panzu went on before taking a drink from his nice looking cup. Seresana however was left with mouth agape as she tried to form a reaction to this turn of events. Her expression scrunched a bit in irritation as she glared at the older man sitting across from her. "You got a problem with that?" Panzu asked when he looked up and met her glare with one of his own that somehow easily bested hers in looking annoyed.

Seresana grit her teeth but forced her expression into an obviously strained smile with closed eyes so she wouldn't be glaring at him anymore. "N-no Panzu, that's fine. Sorry about over sleeping, we'll leave as soon as breakfast is over," Seresana replied through her irritation.

A plate clanking lightly on the table as it was set between them rather instantly broke the tension though, or at least Seresana's annoyed expression broke as she curiuosly looked at the meal and then the server girl who wore a clever looking smile. "Here you two are, enjoy the meal," she said while setting down a couple more plates as well as a cup filled with tea for Seresana. Both Seresana and Panzu conveyed their thanks for the meal and once the server left, they flashed one more annoyed look at each other before beginning to eat.

When the relatively silent breakfast was finished, Seresana begrudgingly paid the bill and then the two were off once again. A few hours later though and the two were slowing their pace some as they could see a man wearing a hat, standing in the middle of the road with a very long sword drawn and resting across his shoulders. As they got a bit closer, Panzu started to hang back, a fact that Seresana noticed before lifting her hands to her bow and sliding the weapon from her shoulders.

"Uhmm, excuse us sir but would you mind sheathing your sword?" Seresana called out to the man nervously after stopping a decent distance away from him.

"Oh? But there's rumor of dangerous folk in the area," he replied while lifting the hat enough to where Seresana and Panzu could see the wicked grin on his face. "Folk like myself. Now why don't you make this easy and just run on home little leaf, and we'll finish escorting Mr. Sahnkuum there to where he really needs to go."

Seresana gritted her teeth before glancing back at the older man only to see his stressed and worried expression. "Panzu, are these men to be trusted?"

"...No, of course not you idiot," Panzu replied quietly through gritted teeth. "These thugs must have been hired to kidnap me, or worse."

Seresana's eyebrow twitched at the idiot comment, but otherwise her determined expression remained focused on the man blocking their path. "I don't think I can do that Mister," Seresana started as her empty hand began to reach up to grab one of her arrows. "So I ask again, will you please sheath your swo-" Seresana was cut off mid sentence just as he hand grazed the fletching on one of the arrows by a flash of metal and a stinging sensation on her face. With wide eyes, Seresana looked down to see a single kunai knife sticking out of the ground past her.

"Perhaps I wasn't quite clear enough," the man in the middle of the road said again with a cocky voice. "This is your once chance girl to get out of here with your life. Now I'm going to count to three, and if you're not running away by the time I get to three, my men and I will kill you where you stand. One..."

Seresana's eyes were wide as her mind raced to find a solution to the situation. "Okay, what do I not know. I don't know how many enemies there are, I don't know where they all are, I don't know their strengths or weaknesses, and I don't know the layout of the area. I also don't know if they've set up any traps..."


"What DO I know? I know there's at least one behind me at roughly 8 o'clock in addition to the one ahead of me. I know they have at least one swordsman, and at least one who's pretty good with a kunai knife. I know they've set up an ambush situation and I know I'm out numbered. I also know they seem to want to take Panzu alive, so he shouldn't be in as much danger, but I can't leave his side still. And I'm about out of time... crap."


"GET DOWN PANZU!" Seresana yelled out cutting off the man while going through a number of handsigns as fast as she could before slamming her palm to the ground just as she heard the rustling of branches and leaves that signalled another kunai being thrown. There was an explosion of smoke followed by the sound of metal clanging off stone and when the smoke cleared, the large clay golem that the knifes had been deflected by. One knife however had still managed to hit Seresana, leaving a moderate cut across her left forearm. Blood quickly began to stain the wrap of bandages that coated the arm as Seresana winced. "GO THAT WAY AND PROTECT PANZU!" Seresana yelled at the golem with a point that all but proceeded to pick up Panzu and begin to lumber off into the forest in the indicated direction.

"Why you litte- Sekoshi, Mato, don't let Panzu get away!" The man yelled before a couple figures stood up from their hiding places and began to run after the fleeing golem.

"No!" Seresana yelled out as she turned about and drew an arrow to shoot, but before she could nock the projectile to the weapon, another kunai knife thrown at her force the young girl to hop back to avoid it, only to then immediately jump up and over a horizontal sword slash from the man who'd initially stopped them.

"You'd best worry about yourself now little leaf," the man said with a murderous grin while Seresana landed cautiously. "Just know, I gave you the chance to run," he said before springing towards Seresana with a speed she hadn't been expecting. The surprise throw off her shot that even despite being at such close range, only grazed the man's hat before he was on top of her and bringing the sword down in an angled slash.

Seresana raised her bow defensively to block the slash, but she also hadn't expected the power behind the slash. The clash locked the weapon and forced Seresana down to a knee while the sword made a small divet in the hardened and reinforced bow. Seresana then just barely had enough time to catch the shift of branches before two more kunai were thrown at her. Thanks to the range though, she had a couple seconds to react and Seresana used those seconds to angle her weapon to the side to where the sword was no longer going to pass where she was, while pushing off the weapon and rolling to the side to avoid the kunai, that stuck in the dirt where she'd been just seconds ago.

Not wanting to give her any time to react though, the swordsman began to bring his sword back in a more horizontal slash at Seresana's side. This attack however Seresana saw coming and she was already making a few handsigns while moving her free hand towards the man's face. A small couple balls of snowy ice formed in her hand as she performed the mini snowman jutsu, only to be thrown into the face of the swordsman, which caught him off guard and threw off the slash as he jumped back sputtering. Seresana tried to use the few seconds her surprise snowball got her to mount a counter attack, but before she could even get her hand back to her quiver, even more kunai were being thrown at her, forcing Seresana to jump back some more to avoid them.

Realizing that she wasn't going to get the opportunity to go on the offensive against these two as they were now, Seresana turned about and took off into the forest, even more kunai trailing after her every step, threatening her clear into the forest if she dared to even slow down for a second. Eventually though, the trees did their thing and provided her with the much desired cover from the still hidden man's kunai assault. Seresana then dove behind one such tree while she wasn't immediately being attack to catch her breath. When she peaked around the tree though, she could see both the swordsman and another man who had two more kunai drawn and ready already chasing after her.

"I gotta slow these two down somehow and catch up to Panzu," Seresana thought to herself before making a quick series of handsigns and then once more slamming her hands to the ground. Seconds later, a large chunk of ground softened and began to spin just as the two men stepped into it. They were immediately caught by the trap like spinning mud wheel jutsu, but Seresana wasn't sticking around to see how they were faring. Instead, she took off at first as quietly as she could, and then once she was moderately sure she wasn't being directly chased, as quickly as she could in the direction Panzu had fled with her golem.

A little while later though when Seresana hadn't managed to find them, Seresana paused on a large tree branch and thought about what she should do next. Or at least she started to until a fresh pang of pain erupted from her injured arm. "Right, guess I should bandage this up first..." Seresana said before pulling the bandage roll from her tool bag. Seresana then leaned her bow against the tree before removing the current and partially bloodied bandage wrap from her left arm. She was careful to keep the cloth bunched up on the branch while wrapping the fresh bandages around her arm, applying them to the full length despite the fact that a small red stain could already be seen beginning to form on the fresh wrapping. "Alright, now I need to find Panzu, hmmm... Oh, I know," Seresana said to herself before making a new series of handsigns, then swiping her right hand across the injury to collect a bit of blood, before finally slamming the hand to the tree limb where a new puff of smoke suddenly appeared. When it cleared, the familiar wedged face of the raiju Sirith stood before Seresana.

The little animal looked up at her summoner curiosly for a second but then smiled warmly. "Ah, hello again Seresana. Why did yo- Oh no, you're injured!" Sirith interrupted herself while scampering over to Seresana's side and sniffing worriedly at the blood stain on her arm.

"Thanks for the concern, but it's okay Sirith. Right now though I've got bigger troubles than just a cut, so please listen closely," Seresana as kindly as she could while still being as serious as the situation was. "I'm on a mission right now to escort a man by the name of Panzu Sahnkuum back to his home, but we were ambushed by this group of at least four men. While I tried to hold them off, I sent Panzu off with a golem but I can't find them now. I need your help, do you think you could sniff him out?"

Sirith's expression went from concern to curious and finally settled on something close to pained throughout Seresana's explanation of the situation. "I'd love to Seresana, but honestly, Kanda is much better at sniffing people out than me... I'll still try to help if I can, but... you'd be ahead to summon him as well," Sirith went on with some obvious dislike at having to admit to needing the male raiju she'd been seen fighting with so often.

"Ah, alright then, thanks Sirith. Just a moment," Seresana said before going through the summoning jutsu sequence of handsigns again, sliding her hand once again across the stain, and slapping her hand to the tree's limb where a new puff of smoke erupted, only to clear a moment later and reveal a second wedge shaped head. Before the new raiju even got a chance to open his mouth to speak though, Sirith had her paws across it keeping it shut while telling him to hush. Despite everything, Seresana still had to suppress a giggle when seeing the two raiju's antics, but none-the-less returned to her serious demeanor quickly while filling in Kanda on the situation.

"Yeah, I'll find him no prob Sena," Kanda replied confidently once he was filled in and Sirith released his mouth. The small ferret shaped raiju quickly dropped to all fours and began to sniff about the air before bounding down the tree to the ground below and then streaking off in what seemed a random direction. Seresana and Sirith followed behind closely and as quietly as they could. A short while, and several turns later, and the trio were standing just outside and looking in on a clearing where a fight seemed to have occured. Just to be safe, Seresana snuck around the edge of the clearing to make sure no one was waiting in ambush again before finally progressing into the clearing and trying figure out what exactly had happened.

There was the line of heavy footsteps leading into the clearing that had obviously belonged to her golem. Several broken tree limbs and even a crushed bush where she guess either the golem or one of the attacks had fallen. Lastly there was a bit of blood splattered across the ground and against a couple trees. "Kanda, do you think you can follow the blood's scent?"

"Mhmm, I'll find them in no time," Kanda replied but was almost immediately struck by Sirith. "What was that for?"

"You should know why. Seresana, you're not seriously thinking about going after these guys are you?" Sirith asked her.

"Of course she is, she has a mission to complete, why wou-" Kanda didn't get a chance to finish before Sirith struck him again.

"You idiot. I wasn't there, but it seriously sounds like she got lucky last time, and then it was just two on one. If she goes to face them again, it'll be four on one."

"No it won't, we're here and we can-"

"We can what? These guys sound serious and they managed to beat Seresana when we couldn't even catch her."

Kanda didn't immediately reply after that, as he was still trying to think of a reply when Seresana finally piped up. "They also had the element of surprise, but now they don't know where I am, and we can find them before they find us." That got both raiju's attention as they looked at Seresana curiosly. "Kanda, if your nose can find them without getting us caught, we can possibly set up a trap of our own and maybe even the odds a little. Think you two can help me?"

Kanda nodded in an instant, but Sirith seemed to hesitate for a moment. "Oh fine," she said after a couple looks from Kanda.

"Thanks you two. Alright Kanda, lead on and I'll fill you two in on my plan on the way," Seresana said before the three of them set back off into the woods. A few hours later Seresana, Kanda, and Sirith were standing a ways away from s small building that was mostly hidden in the forest with a single man standing out front as a look out. "It's time you two, get ready," Seresana said before moving back even farther to where she was sure she was hidden, then climbed a nearby tree and prepared to put her little plan into action.

As Seresana waited a few moments to make sure Kanda and Sirith were ready, she had a moment to think about everything that lead up to this point, and found questions raising up in her mind just as the critical moment began. Silently, an arrow was pulled from the quiver and nocked to the string.

"How did it get this bad?"

The wood made no noise as the arrow was drawn back the full length of it's shaft.

"How did everything go wrong so fast?"

The bow was leveled and held steady as it was aimed at the person leaning against the shack

"Is this... Is this what it's always going to be like?"

Time seemed to slow as the man the arrow was aimed at looked about the area, weapon drawn and held out menacingly as he kept watch

"Can I even do this?"

The arrow practically trembled with pent up energy before suddenly surging forward as the grip on it was loosed. With nearly no noise at all, the arrow sailed through the air.

"When was the first mistake even made?"

The man standing guard wasn't looking in Seresana's direction, and as such had no warning when the arrow stabbed deep into his right shoulder, followed by a loud cry of pain as his left hand grasped the arrow shaft. Then Seresana saw the man's hat, and her memory finally clicked.

"Those hats, they were the same ones as that group back at Kiniko's, and then again at the inn... Those four, they much have overheard me talking about my mission and followed me. That's how they knew where I was going, and when I'd be where. Oh god, this is my fault..."

The door to the building flew open as another member of the group, this one sporting more than a few bandages himself, ran over to the lookout and tried to help him.

"I got Panzu captured. I caused the mission to... to fa- no, this mission isn't over yet. I can still do this," Seresana thought to herself as she pulled three more arrows from her quiver and drew them all back. Just as the man from inside the shack started to try and usher the lookout into the building, Seresana released the three arrows and watched as they soared through the air only to impale themselves into the back of the lookout. Even at her distance, Seresana could see the red staining the lookout's back, and she could swear she heard his cry of pain. The new man appeared to have been shocked by the additional arrows peppering his commrad's back, but still drug him inside the building and slammed the door shut.

Seresana drew her next arrow then, and readied her next shot while the door was shut. She wasn't kept waiting long, and the moment the door was opened, Seresana released her next arrow only to see it sail into the building and strike the inside of the far wall. Before Seresana could get her next shot ready, the same two men who'd attacked her before darted out of the building and took immediate cover behind some trees. Seresana waited till she thought she had a shot to release her next arrow, but it turned out that the man had been trying to bait the shot, and the arrow ended up sailing through open air and disappearing into the forest.

With their heading now established, the two men raced towards Seresana, constantly weaving into and out of cover provided by the forest. Seresana however didn't bother shooting again, and instead jumped down from her perch. Before they could get to her though, Seresana took off at a run herself trying to get to the trap area first. Luckily, Seresana had enough of a lead that she was able to lose the men for a few seconds, and that was all the time she needed to dive behind a tree on the far side of another clearing and begin preparing yet another jutsu. A few seconds later, both of the men ran into the clearing, but didn't show any sign of stopping until the ground prevented them from advancing. Both men instantly recognized the technique, but were already inside it by the time they saw it.

"Now," Seresana yelled out and from flanking sides of the clearing, Kanda and Sirith both pulled the trigger strings on a multitude of kunai launching sling traps. With the knives in the air, Seresana put her hands together for a secondary jutsu. The following Shuriken Kage Bunshin no Jutsu managed to triple the number of projectiles that were now cutting and stabbing into the two men. After the end of the flurry of blows, Seresana was panting heavily and had to push herself up with a stagger but both the man with the sword and the kunai thrower were laying on the ground with blood seeping from multiple wounds.

"Seresana, are you okay?" Sirith asked as she and Kanda hurried over to the panting girl's side.

"Ye-yeah, just a bit, worn down," Seresana said around her panting. "I can't believe it worked," she added while looking at the bodies with a bit of disbelief. "My god, I actually just killed these people. And there's still one more..." she thought to herself while staring at the bodies.

"Seresana, c'mon. We've got to get Panzu out of that house still," Kanda said while gently tugging at Seresana's pants. Seresana nodded, but her eyes refused to leave the sight of the corpses right up until she was out of the clearing entirely. Back at the shack, Seresana was still in her state of shock as the reality of what she'd just done continued to weigh on her. It wasn't until she was leaning against the wall of the shack that she recollected herself enought to remember what she was doing. Seresana then drew another arrow, nocked it, and spun about into the room instantly aiming the arrow at the last of the attackers.

"Move and I'll shoot," she said quietly, and honestly it wouldn't have been a very convincing threat had she not just so recently shot so the lookout so many times. Said lookout was laying on his back with his shirt off and multiple bandages around his chest, presumedly coving the points where her arrows had found their marks. To a sense of relief that Seresana wasn't even sure she had, the man was still breathing. Still the other man who'd carried the lookout in to the shack had his hands up and stared at the drawn arrow a few feet away from him nervously. Then finally Seresana's eyes fell on the bound, gagged, and wide eyed Panzu in a corner of the shack. "Kanda, Sirith, please free Panzu."

The two raiju nodded and rushed into the building to begin working on the knots. As they worked, Seresana kept her aim on the slightly trembling man in the corner, but her eyes continued to flick down to the lookout she'd shot. "Wi-will he live?" The question seemed to confuse the man but he hesitently nodded while continuing to watch Seresana. "Go- ah, I see," Seresana started to say good but changed her mind about it, not wanting to show compassion for a group that just seconds ago wanted to kill her. An awkward quiet started to fill the room, but before it could become overbearing the ropes came loose on Panzu and the man started grunting as he stood up.

"Just kill him already and let's be on with it," Panzu said while rubbing his sore wrists where the ropes had been a moment ago. Seresana had to fight hard to keep her expression neutral as compared to shock she was experiencing at how easily her escort had just told her to kill a man.

"No," she said as flatly as she could. "He's not going to follow us as is. He'll be too busy keeping this one and the other two from dying, and too a hospital."

Panzu didn't seem happy about the decision, but began to walk towards the doorway anyways. "Hmph, you sure you're a nin-GAH!" Panzu was cut off just as he passed the doorway, by getting backhanded across the face and sent tumbling off to the side and out of Seresana's sight.

"PANZU!" Seresana yelled in shock as she released the arrow by accident, which planted itself in the wall next to the man. Before she could get the next arrow nocked, the swordsman was already taking a swing at her. Seresana raised her bow to block the bow, but simply found herself partially pinned beneath the strength of the swordsman.

"You little bitch, I've never killed a kid before, but you've earned this," the swordsman replied as he took a few more swings at Seresana, forcing her to keep on the defensive. "Mato, you going to just sit there, or are you going to actually be useful?"

"Yeah, sorry boss," Mato replied as he got up and drew a short sword, but before he could actually bother to use it, Sirith and Kanda jumped onto him and began to attack. Mato started to yell and flail about in a desperate attempt to try and throw the two raiju off him, but for the moment it was to no avail. Kanda even managed to work his way down Mato's sword holding arm and bit hard enough to force him to drop the shortsword.

The swordsman was able to see his last able cohort become incapacitated and it only seemed to infuriate and fuel his rage even more. "Grrr, why don't you just die already!" he said while taking a few more slashes at Seresana, and these ones Seresana wasn't able to fully block. Because of the angles of the attacks, the sword still managed to nick and cut Seresana who winced at every blow. While under the assault, Seresana shifted her grip on the bow to just one hand while the other undid the cap on her canteen. Before she could do anything else though, the swordsman brought the sword down with both hands, forcing Seresana to use both hands to have even a hope of blocking the strike. The weapons clashed loudly and while neither broke, the man's greater strength slowly and steadily forced Seresana's guard down inch by inch until the blade met her shoulder. The razor's edge of the blade met Seresana's leather vest and for a second it seemed like the material might have actually managed to hold off the weapon, but then Seresana watched wide eyed as the blade cut through the thick material and into her much softer shoulder below. A cry of pain escaped her as a dark stain started to spread outward from the impact point, and in a desperate attempt to keep the blade from cutting any deeper, Seresana angled her bow to deflect the strike. The tactic worked, but not without consequence as the blade still traced it's way off it's shoulder along the altered path.

The swordsman was quick to follow through with a secondary attack but this time Seresana was ready and running on adrenaline. She dodged to the side of the swing, while going through another series of handsigns. In one fluid motion, Seresana pressed her right hand to the canteen's nozzle and as she moved it away from the container, the water inside was seemingly pulled out of it and as it passed through the nozzle, it changed to ice in the shape of an arrow. While continuing the motion, Seresana drew back the arrow and released it at point blank range. The impact of the shot forced the swordsman back through the doorway and to double over, but Seresana wasn't done there. Seresana drew another one of these ice arrows from the canteen and prepared to draw it back while dashing towards the still doubled over swordsman. Dropping down into a slide, Seresana released the second arrow at this point blank range into the swordsman's chest from almost underneath him, the impact actually managing to send the swordsman into the air backwards. Seresana then planted her feet then to stop her slide, but used the momentum to get her back to standing and then pushed off the ground to where she was above the swordsman. "Multi-triple shot barrage," Seresana said as she drew three of her normal arrows from her quiver, nocked them to the bowstring, and combined two of her techniques by releasing the arrows.

The three arrows found their mark among the other two ice arrows that also still poked out of his chest, and forced him to the ground with a solid sounding thud. The swordsman spat up blood upon the initial impact, and then simply fell back lifelessly. Nearby, Seresana landed on her feet only to stumble and fall to her knees, her bow clattered to the ground as she pressed both hands to her wounded shoulder and cradled the wound through the pain. A couple seconds was all Seresana got to spare herself before her eyes shot open to an animalistic cry of pain. Her eyes shot back to the shack just in time to see Kanda hit the wall and fall to the floor right next to Sirith who'd apparently been thrown there a couple seconds earlier. She also saw the last of the attackers picking up the kunai he'd dropped earlier and seize Panzu. With his hostage secured, Mato turned about and glared at the injured Seresana while holding a knife to the man's throat.

Seresana started to raise her right hand towards them, but the pain immediately forced her to drop the limb back to her side with a visible wince of pain. Mato seemed to notice this and his glare turned a bit more smug. "Damn, can't believe you killed Navic. But it looks like you're spent now. Just in case though," Mato tightened his grip on Panzu and pressed the kunai just a little closer to Panzu's neck. "Why don't you go ahead and remove your weapon pouch and quiver."

Seresana grit her teeth at the demands and hesitated for a moment while trying to think of what she could do. Before she could think of a plan though, Mato pressed the kunai a bit closer to Panzu's neck to the point where even a small trail of blood began to trickle down while jerking the man up again. "Do it now girl! Now or I'll kill him on the spot," Mato threatened. Seresana grimaced anew but complied none-the-less while beginning to work at the straps that secured her weapon and supply pouches to her sides, her mind racing to come up with something while she worked. "What can I do? Any sudden movements and Panzu will get his throat slashed, and I'm too far for any of my jutsu to reach him before the knife could be pulled across his neck." Seresana's eyes flicked towards the still breathing, but otherwise unmoving bodies of Sirith and Kanda as the straps finally came loose and her pouches fell to the ground with a light thud. "Those two look about down for the count too. Argh, there has to be something I can do... There's got to be something I can use... Somethi-" Seresana's thoughts were interrupted by a fresh pang of pain when she tried to lift her arm to get the quiver strap over it, and her left hand shot to the wound on reflex. She could feel a bit more fresh blood flow over her fingers admist her winces of pain, and that was when it hit her. Seresana looked back up to the shack and stared at it while a question rang out in her mind.

"Hey c'mon, hurry up and ditch the quiver you bitch," Mato commanded with a snarl.

"Okay, just don't do anything rash," Seresana replied while holding up her left hand openly in a calming gesture. Then she started to remove the quiver again with her blood covered left hand reaching up and across to start lifting the quiver off her once again while her right hand slowly reached behind her to keep the bottom of the quiver steady. the moment however that Seresana's right hand was out of sight, she began to make a series of handsigns while focusing her diminishing amount of chakra.

"Well hurry up, and when you're done with that you ca-AH!" Mato interrupted himself with a cry of pain. Out of reflex, Mato looked back over his shoulder to see what had hit him, and was rewarded with a view of 6 dark red needles sticking out of his back. In that moment of confusion, Seresana made 4 more needles from the spilled blood of her shoulder wound and sent them flying at Mato's face, catching him just as he was turning his head back around to face her. The kunai dropped from his hands as both of them went to his face to try and remove the ice needles, giving Panzu the time he needed to move away from the now screaming man. Before Mato could remove any of the needles though, ten more needles punctured the man's chest, and then another ten needles, and then one last set of ten needles found their resting place in Mato's body before the man fell over.

As Mato's breathing slowed and eventually stopped, Seresana's panting grew more intense and ragged. Her left arm that had been out stretched at the time to direct the frozen needles now fell to her side only to slowly raise back up to her bloodied shoulder. "Hmph, well it looks like I owe you something of an apology and thanks," Panzu said while looking down on Seresana. "But how about I help you get bandaged up instead. You got bandages on you?" Panzu asked while kneeling down next to the girl. Seresana nodded and then with her good arm, grabbed up one of her pouches and passed it to Panzu. The older man took the pouch and opened it up to reveal the various supplies inside including a small first aid box. Panzu got out the bandages while Seresana struggled to slide off her vest and shift her cut shirt to where the cut could be bandaged, but Panzu wouldn't get to see too much of her. Very early into the bandaging, and Seresana was easily able to determine that Panzu hadn't had much medical training as the bandages were sloppily placed and too loose. Still, Seresana decided they'd do in a pinch and when Panzu thought he was finished, she thanked him before standing up and working her way over to the fallen raiju.

"Kanda, Sirith, are you two okay?" Seresana asked worriedly while kneeling down and gently checking them over. Kanda was the first to stir, groaning while slowly rolling himself over with a pained expression. Sirith followed suit soon after in much the same manner. "Oh thank goodness. I was so worried you two were seriously hurt."

"I think we'll live, but what about you Seresana?" Sirith asked while pointing towards the fresh bandages that were already acquiring their own red stain.

"What do you mean Siri- OH! Seresana, you're hurt!" Kanda exclaimed with a shock.

Seresana forced a small grin on through the pain as she addressed the two. "It looks much worse than it is," she lied. "But what about you two, anything feel broken?"

"I'm fine," Kanda replied while trying to take a bold stance, only to wince as one of his bruised joints was bent a painful way. Which in turn caused Seresana to go completely wide eyed with shock and fear.

"We'll be okay with a few days of rest back in our world, but the sooner we get there, the better," Sirith reassured. "Which actually, if the fight's over, we should probably get going. Are you sure you're going to be okay?"

Seresana paused but tried to put on a confident face, "yeah, I'll be fine. I'll see you two later." Both raiju nodded to the answer and a couple puffs of smoke later, they were simply gone, leaving Seresana and Panzu alone with the two corpses.

"You sure that was wise? You're still looking pretty rough, and we're still at least a couple day's travel from my village," Panzu said with some concern.

"No, I'm not. This whole mission is proving a lot more than I expected, but with how those two were injured, I don't want to put them in any greater harm," Seresana said as she unsteadily pushed herself back up once again. She wavered some on her feet, but turned determinedly back towards her bow and walked over to pick it back up. "Still, we could use some extra help if we're really that far out still," Seresana added as she picked up her bow and slung it over her shoulder. Then Seresana moved over to the dead swordsman and retrieved the unbroken arrows from his chest. She wiped them off before stowing them back in the quiver and then turning back towards Panzu. "Alright, we should probably get going now," Seresana said through panting as more of the adrenaline left her system and Seresana realized just how hard the fight had been on her.

Panzu nodded before following Seresana's shakey lead back to the road and then down it until the sun set. As she walked, Seresana tried to go over in her head just how much chakra she'd used and what jutsu she'd used. Her train of thought though was interrupted by a stumble when she hadn't been paying as close attention to the road as she should have been. The sudden movement had her right arm moving, which caused the pain to spike in her shoulder and she looked down at the bandages with some concern. There was a little red stain peeking through the cloth, but it didn't appear to be growing at the moment and Seresana was grateful for that notion. A few hours later and the two made a small camp while the sun set. Before she had the chance to pass out from the long day, Seresana forced herself to try and change out the bandages for a fresh wrapping. It was a struggle, and the wound stung with every movement of her right arm, but eventually Seresana was able to get the wrapping on correctly and pulled the not tight despite the wince it caused.

"So that extra help you mentioned earlier, were you talking about another of those talking animals?" Panzu asked once Seresana was done with the bandaging.

"Mhmm, and I think I have just enough chakra to summon her, but that'll drain me almost completely. So if it can be avoided, I'd rather not," Seresana replied while forcing the annoyance at not just being allowed to sleep just yet from her voice. At least until a new thought entered her mind. "Hey Panzu, why were those guys after you anyways? I mean they knew your name, and seemed determined to take you alive, so it seems unlikely they were just common thugs."

Panzu seemed to hesitate for a moment in thought before replying, but then reluctantly spoke. "There's a couple options on who it could be really. There's a few different people who are wanting to put pressure on my son to sell our homelands, and there were rumors that some had resorted to hiring thugs but I thought it was just more scare tactics. Bit of shame that we don't have a survivor to tell us who hired them, and no that's not to say I'm not grateful for you protecting me as you did," Panzu added with his still grumpy sounding voice.

Seresana listened to Panzu's explanation and nodded upon it's completion. "So basically we have a rough idea why they attacked you, but no clue which person hired that group. We also can't know for sure if there weren't more thugs hired by the same person or others that might be in the area hunting for you as well. Hmmm... Panzu, I think we'll stick to the woods near the road for the rest of the trip to your village. We'll be less exposed and in the morning when I have a little more chakra, I'll summon my other little friend. She can help us when it comes to finding people before they find us," Seresana said before letting out a large yawn and promptly laying down. "Okay, I'm spent for today, goodnight Panzu." Seresana struggled to say, but most of the statement became mumbled as she fell asleep while saying it. She didn't even hear Panzu's reply.

The next morning, Seresana woke to find herself surprisingly warm and comfortable. Her eyes cracked open to see that instead of the ground she'd more or less collapsed onto last night, she was now laying on a bedroll with a comfortable blanket over her. Her weary and still tired eyes looked about until they settled on the still sleeping form of Panzu, who was in a similar state. Then Seresana started to try and force herself up, but her still tired and aching limbs protested the movement, especially her injured shoulder. With a bit of a wince, Seresana stopped struggling to stand and as gently as she could laid back down. She wasn't even sure when her eyes shut and she drifted off again, but when Seresana opened her eyes again more than an hour at least had passed and Panzu was up. This time, when Seresana tried to force herself she favored her injured arm and was able to get herself back to sitting with a few grunts and groans.

Panzu had apparently heard her and was now holding Seresana's canteen out to her. Seresana seized it thankfully and took a long drink, and when the bottle was removed from her lips, she caught the smell of breakfast cooking. Before the quizical look could even reach Panzu, the man said, "don't overthink this. You're just in no shape to be doing much, and you're going to need your strength if you're to continue protecting me until we get to my home."

Seresana nodded, but it was with a happy grin as she accepted the simple and meager meal offered to her a moment later. When Seresana finished her breakfast and packing up, she performed her summoning jutsu once again. This time when the smoke cleared, the white-ish yellow fured, purple tipped tailed raiju Anashi greeted Seresana before freaking out some about the injuries. Once calmed, Anashi had the situation explained to her and all to happily agreed to help out as the forward scout to their little band. While progress was slowed a bit, the day of travel came and went without incident, as did the next day, and the day after that where the finally managed to reach the town and subsequently Panzu's large home.

"Well I'll be damned, you actually managed to get me here in one piece," Panzu said while turning about to regard Seresana. The younger girl still wasn't looking too great with her multiple bandages and sling her right arm rested in, but they'd found time to wash most of the blood from her clothes and re-dress the bandaging a bit more properly including adding the sling when the gentle movements of having Seresana's arm at her side proved too painful for her. "Not too bad all things considered, you can go on back to your village now and report this as a successful mission."

"Ah, thank you Panzu, but aren't you still in some danger?" Seresana asked from where she stood. "I cou-"

"No, you've done enough getting me this far. There's guards and my own hired hands to keep me safe now," Panzu said flatly, but then in a kinder tone added "Go on home, report your success, recover quickly, and I might just request you for another mission some day." Then Panzu flashed Seresana the closest thing to a smile she'd seen the whole time.

Seresana returned the kind expression with one of her own and nodded enthusiastically, "thank you Panzu." After that, the two said their goodbyes and went their separate ways, Panzu back to his home and waiting family, Seresana back to her village to file her report and begin her recovery.

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