How much more of it remains,
The night is brief
Shugeki, adrenaline pumping. was moving in a blur as she awoke her comrades, “To arms! TO ARMS!”. Without waiting for their response she leapt atop her horse and urged it forward. She may not have been able to save the love of her life but perhaps she had a chance to save his spirit from being devoured.
The rest of the party, aroused by shouts from Shugeki and then Shin’ichi had a few scant moments to prepare themselves. The shugenja’s drew forth the kami to first protect themselves and then to try and foil the spirits. Naruto summoned a great glowing tetsubo which he handed off to Hotaka while Yogo Atarashi demonstrated her mastery of water by trying to drown one of the gaki as it charged forward, her perfect incantation spoiled only by the incorporeal nature of the beast. As they prepared for combat Shugeki hurtled forwards and attempted to grab a familiar arm. It slid through her hand with only a hint of contact but he managed, somehow, to keep alongside the warhorse.
Battle was met and proved almost futile, the gaki merely slid through the weapons of the samurai. Only Hotaka’s weapon had any impact, infused as it were with jade. The gaki, ever needing to satisfy their hunger, took chunks from the samurai and as they did became ever more corporeal and susceptible to the steel of a blade. The question, therefore, was could the magistrates survive longer enough to overcome the gaki once they were vulnerable. Shugeki, having seen the effect the living had upon the spirits made a choice, if Takenshi could grab her long enough to manifest she would carry him away from the field of battle. Aided by Naruto’s earth magic she was aided by a sudden change in the behaviour of the spirits who suddenly turned their full attention towards Shin’ichi. As the Scorpion took wound after wound his colleagues took the opportunity to attack unopposed and succeeded in destroying their attackers. Only Takenshi remained. With Shin’ichi acting as interpreter he explained that he had been sent on a vital mission to support the Legion and that with the weakening of the seals the ‘mountain that consumes’ would soon awaken and bring forth a great tragedy. The magic that bound his soul would weaken with the sunrise, though he could not say whether it would banish him or merely return him to where he had come from. The shugenja were likewise unsure, this was magic beyond their training.
Shugeki, unwilling to say goodbye again took a chance, kissing Takenshi and allowing him to drain her lifeforce. At the last moment he pushed her away before the agony and hunger overcome him. Gone was the samurai, all that remained was a gaki. Only through quick thinking was the now corporeal spirit dragged into the first rays of light which consumed him in a blaze.
Reluctantly continuing their journey they arrived at the Nameless Monastery to find it abandoned though torches shone in the window. Shin’ichi’s eyes, having awoken their true heritage, could make out a figure at the back of the main room and he proceeded cautiously towards it while the rest of the group fumbled about in the darkness. As both Naruto and Atarashi summoned forth light the figure through a short spear towards Shin’ichi which he easily deflected away. The pale light revealed a lone Naga while Naruto and Hotaka found themselves surrounded by a group of the snake warriors. The Naga revealed that they were Tokana, guardians in the human tongue and had been placed here to protect the seal beneath the monastery. Awoken early they had slain the unsuspecting monks and blamed the short memories of the samurai for failing to fulfil their duty. With the destruction of two seals and weakening of the third at the southern Temple (likely due to an attack by Terrel) it was only a matter of time before the entire pattern broke and the mountain awoke from its slumber. Of particular concern was that it appeared both the Scorpion and the Dragon had forgotten their role in protecting the Legion and that the spells required were no longer known by the shugenja of the Dragon. It was at this point that Naruto produced the scroll he had been carrying for some time. Taken from the temple some time ago it was the reason for the bounty on his head and bore a joined seal combining both the Dragon Clans and that and that of the Imperial Families. The Naga took heart, if Naruto could cast the spells he carried then there may still be a chance to return the mountain to its slumber.