Wind Monk Banishment: Beetle Chronicles #2
Naruto: Wind Monk Banishment – Beetle Chronicles
Chapter 2: A Tale of Seven-Tails – Part 2
Fuu: Age 10
Fuu stood unnerved in front of the fresh corpse of a Grass shinobi that dwelled on the outskirts of the forest, blood staining the grass red as it seeped from the gaping wound. Suien was there as well with his curved Water Slicing Blade perched on his shoulder, blood from the tip flowing down the length. His eyes surveyed their surroundings, briefly passing the merchant’s corpse that was barely obscured by the brush as he had killed the shinobi before he could destroy it.
“Find any stragglers,” he ordered the jinchuuriki. “Before anymore merchants are lost.”
Fuu shook herself out of the macabre allure of blood staining the grass. She recalled and enacted the gesture for the Insect Gathering technique and place her palm down in the moist grass that had dew lingering from the morning mist hours ago. The chakra web extended once more that day, linking her to the anthropoids that dwelled within the area that had yet to be touched by her intentions and chakra.
“The web is too short,” Suien said as he noticed it barely reaching half the scope of his vision. “Make it bigger.”
“I don’t have enough chakra,” she said, the pangs of exhaustion upon her. The melding of physical and spiritual energy was a process she still lacked refinement over and as such much was wasted, leaking free from its vessel like heat loss until what she had remaining was very little at this point.
“Then pull more from the seal,” he said curtly. “Hurry up.”
I need your help again Mr. Beetle King, Fuu mentally whispered to the resident dwelling inside her. While there was no verbal response, as there hadn’t been for the last year or so, Fuu was certain that her words reached the chakra demon within as she felt a minor burning sensation where the seal was. The foreign charka formed a light lining of luminous green overlapping her web and becoming extensions that spread further than her eyes could track.
As the web spread and then leaked chakra like radiation, various types of insects fell under its thrall as it permeated them with the Beetle King’s chakra. Like an empty black sky that was suddenly illuminated with hundreds of stars that grew with every passing second, the full scope of the diversity in such a small portion of the forest boggled her mind and expanded her options for information gathering.
With compounded eyes the flies that were lingering around a squirrel corpse set out to search for any other humans. Spiders waited on their webs for anything to brush past the fine hairs on their legs, female mosquitoes traced the trail of carbon dioxide to find the source of warm lifeblood that they craved, and butterflies fluttered in search of what their wings could touch, all of them sending information pertaining to if they found something that met the general criteria she set.
As the scattering of insects brushed the shrouded forms or traced their breath or registered the almost silent sounds and scents, countless signals and sounds native to each insect’s species, flowed through the connection the chakra provided and reached the jinchuuriki. So much information, so much noise, it was all causing her an immense headache as her mind scrambled to decipher it all in terms that a human could properly interpret.
She was unfamiliar with having so many under her command, so many soldiers in her army, so many scouts reporting back information, she couldn’t micromanage them all, not with her little experience. Supposedly once she had enough control over the demon she could share their sight and hearing in real-time, as well as direct each one individually rather than in mass, but considering how much of a strain doing this alone was she couldn’t imagine such a thing.
The blur of information was jumbled as she finally managed to interpret enough to state. “The bugs are saying they can’t see them, but they can feel them. The Hiding with Camouflage technique you told me about. There are three to the south, south-east, and south-west.”
“Direct them to enclose on them and seal their movements,” Suien ordered. “I want them blind, deaf, and mute as well—all at the same time so they can’t signal one another.”
“I…I can’t do it all at once,” she said. “They’re too far away and—”
“Manage,” was all he said. Then he was gone into the brush to find and kill his targets.
Fuu strained her head to try and divide the amassed number, over a million when you considered the sheer number of ants in the colonies that were around, and then sent the new commands, first directing those already in contact with them to slowly encroach so they didn’t notice anything suspicious until the rest from the other directions touched by her web arrived and swarmed them as one. It was too much and felt like her mind was splitting until they suddenly did what she asked as the Beetle King silently directed them in her stead upon hearing her intentions, easing the burden on her mind. She quietly thanked it as the chakra fueling their army reinforced their natural functions and they moved to accomplish their mission.
The first of the Grass shinobi to be hunted only knew he had been found when he felt the number of mosquitoes birthed from still waters of the minor ponds nipping at him, slipping under his clothes to take their fill of blood, joined by a third of the horde that descended like a cyclone and encompassed his figure, countless bites and agonizing stings piercing his flesh as they snuck beneath the fabric or chewed through it. Concentration proved difficult as moths and butterflies tried to smother and blind him by shrouding his head, alongside large spiders that bit down and threatened to crawl into his mouth if he opened it.
Then Suien made himself known, appearing behind the first shinobi in a Body Flicker and immediately rammed the length of his sword through the ribcage from behind and through the heart and lungs. The death wail was muted by the insects pouring into his mouth to bite and sting the tongue and throat. Suien twisted his weapon inside so that the curve of the blade was facing outwards as he tore through it from the side and moved to find the next target.
The second was near several ant piles that came out at the behest of their new and greater queen. They were joined by termites inside a rotting tree and tiger centipedes in crawling along the ground. They went up his combat sandals and into his pants before they began their assault. He tried to move, to run from the pain, only for the wasps to attack his face, targeting the eyes, nose, and throat while beetles tried to chew through his mask to get inside his mouth.
Unable to see as parts of his body began to swell from the agonizing and debilitating wounds, he flailed around helplessly. His suffering was finally ended as Suien swooped in and decapitated him with the Water Slicing Sword cleaving through his neck in a charging strike. The head rolled on the ground as the body followed, both soon to be devoured by the ants to feed their numbers.
The last proved his savvy as he noticed the swarm of bees and wasps suddenly becoming active as he passed by their hives and broke out into a Body Flicker, escaping the approaching horde with deft quickness. He abandoned his hiding technique now that it wasn’t viable as more of the horde quickly found him afterwards and pursued him with renewed vigor. His fingers formed three seals and ghost-like flames danced around. His Ghost Lantern technique was launched to devastate the beetles that darted towards him alongside the wasps and moths.
The Beetle King took the man’s resilience as a personal challenge as the information flooded in and started moving the army in accordance to his own will rather than at the behest of the container that held it. They were coordinated to a degree far greater than a human could every hoped to accomplish. They split apart, half the surviving and flying horde scooping up spiders and having them weave their silk lines as thick as possible while chakra reinforced the lines, while the other joined their brethren and spiraled in a twister that isolated the area so any attempt to cross it would through such a rudimentary technique as Body Flicker would have him flayed alive.
The Grass shinobi released more Ghost Lanterns, but for every hundred burned more took their place as the Insect Gathering technique was further unfurled and its radiation of chakra leaked through the earth and air as well. Adding to the numbers of their forces above and below, more chakra poured from the seal and Fuu tensed in pain as her own control took a backseat. She could only register what was happening while the chakra strain was immense, afraid she was losing herself as the sensation of having too many insects to count ran rampant over her mind until the world seemed to be buried in crawling insects. But at the same time she was willing to hand over control since if she let the shinobi escape Suien would be mad with her and would treat her with silence and harsh training until she did it right.
The shinobi decided to cut his losses rather than expend anymore chakra on the numbers as the horde closed in. He took to the ground, using an earth technique to try and escape death from above. He fell prey to the millions of ants lurking there in the pathways carved out by the workers while fueled by the Beetle King as their new master, the hundreds of thousands relentlessly biting and stinging as he found his path down had dug his own grave when the horde from above unleashed their payload of silk-bearing spiders to add their poisonous bites to the ant sting toxin, silk weighing down his limbs as it slowly encased him in a cocoon that would remain and serve as nourishment for the future soldiers in the Beetle King’s army that lurked beneath the ground, spreading out as their tunnels expanded.
Suien arrived to see the swarm petering out at the command to disperse and make up their lost numbers for future incursions. He confirmed the kill by collapsing the entrance underground the shinobi had made. Then he made his way back to his weapon-in-training, the jinchuuriki, who was slumped on the ground as exhaustion finally took her and she was tottering on the edge of unconsciousness.
“Did we get them all?” she asked, her eyes heavy as she felt the influx of demonic chakra overlapping her own fading and the individual insects moving in concert with its mind connected to hers disappearing from her senses.
He nodded. “For the moment. Most of the merchants managed to reach the village, barring the three that were killed and their supplies burned. It’s only a matter of time before they try again.”
It was inevitable in the long run. Their village was named for being Hidden in the Waterfalls and they required merchants to move their goods and import as well, so they weren’t so much hidden as they were well-defended. To this point they had never been invaded, despite the astonishing low number of shinobi, because while Grass had long since lost their treasure, the Box of Ultimate Bliss, Waterfall still had theirs in the Hero’s Water as well as a jinchuuriki. So they tried sabotage instead, with pilfering and destroying supply lines being the latest attempt.
“Then can I go to sleep now?” Fuu asked. She was tired in body and mind after everything.
“Not yet,” he said, gesturing for her to follow. “First we have to deal with the spy who told them the routes the merchants were taking. It’s one of the duties of the jinchuuriki that we’ve been putting off until you made it past your first year of training.”
With her body weary she stood and followed him past the water basin of the waterfall. She noted that trash had gathered along the edges and would have to be cleaned. From there they kept going until they reached a small breach in the cliff-side at the ground level. Suien made some hand seals and then touched an impression on the stone surface.
The breach widened. Whether an illusion or otherwise, it became the entrance of a cave from which a cold breeze flowed as it descended downwards. Suien ventured into the darkness below and Fuu, while hesitant, wrapped her hands around her arms and followed her instructor for over the last year. It had been a crash-course considering that the shinobi of their village normally learned over the course of three or so years and she had been forced onto the field after only one.
“This is the Worm Pit,” Suien told her as they passed by hollowed out cells of earth, large gouges carved in the stone too neatly to have been done naturally. Lights were strung up by cords on the ceiling, stalactites occasionally dripping water down from their points to the where puddles formed in the path way. “We bring criminals and those who are to be interrogated here.”
“Most of the cells are empty,” Fuu noted.
Suien kept his pace as he nodded. “Taking prisoners isn’t something we do often and if you’ve committed a crime worth getting down here then you’d be executed instead to save on resources and such.”
Fuu wondered if that was the case for whomever it was that had vandalized her house. Were they caught and then charged before being released. Or were they executed? Did those in charge even seek out who did that to her home?
She supposed it didn’t matter now. It had been over a year since she was allowed to go into the village or see Shibuki. The one time she tried, to complain about how unrelenting the training was, she was caught by some jounin in a net of webs and then sent straight to Suien. That hadn’t been fun and she was told to wait until he visited her, not the other way around.
“Was the spy one of us?” she asked. Despite how distant she was from Shibuki, what if they did something to hurt him. He was her only friend… although she guessed Suien was sort of nice occasionally, like when he called it early on training and gave her some cookies. The rations they were sending her weren’t exactly filling to her sweet-tooth.
Her mentor shook his head as they reached a steel door affixed to the wall. “The enemy doesn’t seem to have an accurate count of our forces. The spy wasn’t a shinobi or kunoichi, but one of our civilians that was turned and still resided in the village until we found them.”
He opened the door to reveal a chamber that had various tools that were blood-crusted and was filled with the scent of iron. A rather large man in clothing that was somewhat above the modest ones most of the villagers wore was chained to a wall, his eyes sunken to where he looked ill. Was he poisoned or something?
“This is the traitor,” Suien told Fuu. “Or at least one of them. Some of the information wasn’t this merchant’s to give, so we know there are a few others. He’s been hesitant to talk, according to my compatriot, so we’ve decided to use this opportunity to show you how we coerce answers out of him.”
Fuu noted his choice of words. “We?”
No sooner than she said that did three people enter. One was a young boy, with brown hair and eyes matching the large man on the wall. Another was a woman who had black hair and a few wrinkles. They were both bounded by gags of spider silk and webbing that formed bands around their arms.
“I’ve brought them,” said the third person. He was a man with short green hair that was darker than her own, and black eyes with no eyebrows. His expression was flat, almost bored, as he pushed them down onto the ground.
“Good work, Suika,” Suien said as he faced the merchant. “Now, about those friends of yours. Let’s talk about them, hm?”
“You can’t do this,” the merchant snarled. “They’ve done nothing wrong. They don’t know anything.”
“You should have thought of that before you sold that information to Grass,” Suien countered, before gesturing to Suika.
The shinobi made the seals for the Summoning technique and smoke encased the area around him to reveal a cocoon the size of Fuu. It split open and hundreds of thumb-sized spiders emerged, the same hue as those that were in the pit that Suien once threw her into and she was saved by the Beetle King. It also explained that he was the shinobi that captured her before, which she didn’t notice because it was dark at the time and she was trapped so quickly.
“You see, my friend who works here uses spiders,” Suien explained. “These all have necrotic venom. So here’s the thing, you’re going to tell us who else is a part of this or you’ll see firsthand the effects of the venom on your family.”
The merchant was hesitant to believe it. So was Fuu. Weren’t they supposed to protect the people? That hesitance cost him as Suien glanced over his shoulder and nodded once to the other jounin.
They swarmed the woman and the screaming began. The merchant cried out for him to stop them from attacking his wife, unable to do anything. Her son looked on in horror as well, the webs that were infused with chakra leaving him unable to cover his eyes from witnessing his mother’s death. Even Fuu backed away as the screams resounded in the room, watching as the woman was bitten over and over.
“Get used to it, Kid,” Suika said, noticing her reaction. He was almost apathetic to the fact that he just set a swarm of flesh-rotting spiders on an innocent woman in front of her husband and child. The screams didn’t seem to bother him either.
And the villagers called her a demon or monster? “We’re under orders and if we have to do this to root out spies so we don’t get invaded then that’s what we’ll do. Besides, it’s no different than what you did to those Grass shinobi, is it?”
There was no curiosity in the question, making it rhetorical. But it made her think about the dead shinobi from Grass that she helped kill. Did they have families like that merchant too? Did they think about them while they were being flayed and devoured by her bugs? Was it this horrifying to see in person?
“Learn to stomach it,” Suien ordered as the screaming turned into a choked gurgle once enough of the venom was in her system to shut it down. Suien turned his gaze to the crying boy and then his weeping father. “The boy won’t last nearly as long as she did. Fuu…”
Her eyes widened as she realized he was expecting her to do the same next. She backed away, shaking her head, only for Suika to push her forward until she was in front of the bound boy who had to be her age or younger. Did she really have to kill him?
“Please,” the merchant begged. “Not my son too…”
“Names,” Suien demanded. “Names of your accomplices, how you communicate with the Grass, everything you know. The more you talk the better.”
Fuu could see he wanted to believe them. He was desperate and had lost one of his beloved family members, so he was willing to believe the jounin in order to ensure his son didn’t die. Fuu honestly hoped he would talk so that she didn’t have to kill the boy.
He talked. There were five others. Suika left out to get them, by the time morning came the Worm Pit would be filled with everyone who he named. That left Suien and Fuu alone with the two civilians and the corpse that was already starting to turn into a flesh-bag of melted viscera that the spiders were goring themselves on it.
“I told you everything,” the merchant said. “Now please, let my son go. Kill me, but let him go.”
Suien looked to the boy who was hoping that he would. Fuu was already reaching for a kunai to cut him loose of the webbing. He said six words she never wanted to hear. “Your orders still stand. Kill him.”
“But they talked!” Fuu argued as the pair’s eyes went wide with fear. This wasn’t what he told them would happen. “Why?”
“Village policy,” Suien stated. “You may not like it, but these are the rules of the village that have been in place since before I was born. No one who’s taken to the Worm Pit leaves alive, which is the reason why it isn’t common knowledge to anyone but those who work here or are higher up in terms of village management.”
Was this the village that Shibuki and his father were supposed to lead? They condoned that sort of killing? She, as their weapon, was supposed to carry out those sorts of things for the village that didn’t even like her? Screw that. She took a step back.
“This was what it means to serve the village loyally as one of their shinobi, one of Shibuki-sama’s, just as I did for his father,” Suien told her. “The only mercy you can afford the boy is to be quick about it.”
Fuu weighed his words. She…if she didn’t, would Shibuki be mad at her because this was her duty? She didn’t want to kill the boy, but if she didn’t uphold the village policy…would he hate her?
The kunai felt heavy in her hand as she drew it out and approached him. The father’s cries for her to stop drowned out the hammering of her heart. The blade descended and blood soon flowed onto the floor…
And something inside of her broke, something shattering like glass as she remained motionless over the fresh corpse while looking at the weapon she used to end his life.
“You’ve done your service to the village for the day,” Suien told her. “Go get your sleep.”
Without a word or looking up from the ground, she let the bloody weapon slip from her fingers as she made for the exit. The screams of the grieving father haunted her even as the door was shut behind her and she went back to camp. The nightmare as she slept offered her no escape either. Her duty to the village had taken her innocence away as easily as the blood seeped from the boy whose life she ended.
And, within the depths of her heart, she cursed the village’s name.
End Note: Suika is a villain from a filler episode of Naruto Shippuden (#236) and made an off-comment about Insect-Users when beating on Shino. This leads me to believe he encountered Fuu in the past since she’s the only potential insect-user aside from the Bee-users of Iwa and Shino’s clan from Konoha. So I thought ‘Why the hell not?’ and added him.