While they may not have had line of sight just yet, the disguised shinobi could hear the sounds of horses making their way through the wooded area. Luckily for her it was virtually impossible to maneuver such creatures through such a local with any degree of stealth. It seemed they had taken the bait, which was definitely a good sign. Now it was time to see how long she could distract these guys to make sure the others had enough time to actually handle the task at hand. Before the enemy would arrive, Tsubaki would carefully lower herself down to the forest floor, making sure to keep the tree between herself and the sound of the horses. Once on the ground she would slump back against the tree, wincing a bit as she brought her hands together to form a number of quick hand seals. A moment later, a rapid stream of water would emerge from her gourd before taking a form identical to the woman's usual appearance.[break][break]
Tsubaki slid her back down along the tree, sitting at it's base as she stared up at the clone. If this was gonna work, she'd have to do her best to set the scene. Tsubaki partially drew her sword with her battered arm, exposing the blade enough for her to run her palm along the sharpened edge. The fresh wound burned with a familiar sting, but wasn't serious enough to slow her down. She then took her bloodied palm and smeared it across her face, smudging it with blood with some grime from the forest floor. Some was dragged across her attire as well, giving her a more bloodied and battered appearance. At the same time, the duplicate would draw her blade and point it at her creator's throat. And with that, the scene was set. Tsubaki stared up at the imitation of herself, doing everything in her power to keep from laughing at how stupid this plan of hers was. But whatever. She wasn't about to just try and tackle this unknown number of samurai in a straight fight, as frustrating as the thought was.[break][break]
Instead she waited for them to approach the scene, hoping that the shock of pink hair would stand out amongst the forest as they made their approach. The scene set before them would look like an interrogation, a shinobi toying with their final prey to see what could be gained from them before taking their life. What would happen next depended entirely on how the investigating party approached the situation.
[attr="class","APP3"]The sound of horses grew louder as horses began riding around Tsubaki, because of the foliage, the riders that came dismounted and circled around the clone. Four men ran forwards with blades drawn, and with the numbers the clone had little chance of survival and was quickly dissipated into a puddle of water before them. There was a look of puzzlement on their faces.
“The real one’s got to be around here somewhere,” one of them said. Two of them trailed off on their own, looking for the hidden shinobi. Another stood with his back turned to Tsubaki, while a fourth approached the battered person, assuming their allegiance to the empire just ash she intended.
“You alive?” a soldier asked, approaching her with his blade down and reaching forward to pat her shoulder.
Unbeknownst to Tsubaki, there were shinobi held up in this position. In the trees Itada Sōsuke and Izumi Niijima watched her set off a flare and then a trap that brought the riders. The pair that had wandered away from Tsubaki passed right under their spot above.
Back across the fields of farmland, the commander did not wait long as he noticed Yousei begging towards him. From behind a grain silo, several horsemen had been lying in wait, and they rushed to intercept Seiichi, leaving Yousei on her own and his fate in question. Hatori left no time to regroup. Once the shinobi Jounin were separated, he would enter combat with Yousei alone.
On the back of the large horse, he met them halfway. As she drew in close to attack, she would notice something odd about the horse. Its eyes were covered by goggles and its body was completely draped in black cloth.
As she avoided his flank, another oddity appeared. Hatori seemed to fly into the air, defying gravity and launching forward at the crescent strike. With kurosawa in hand, he answered her shape manipulation with his own, sending a colliding slash that caused a small wave of energy to blow the thick and heavy clothing that covered his body as well as blowing Yousei’s hair and coat.
“I see you are well versed in our ways,” echoed a voice. “A duel then, so that you can die honorably!” the man said. He held the famed blade in his hand, and from it chakra thick enough to be visible appeared over the blade and extended out an additional foot from the end point.
The horse stood behind him, eerily still and watching Yousei through the tinted lenses over its cloth draped head. The samurai himself was still as well for a moment, with only the sounds of Seiichi’s battle with the horsemen behind them and the wind blowing to break it.
Then the swordsman lunged forward with the blade with a horizontal slash, extending the chakra out over the blade another couple of feet trying to cut across the sound jounin’s torso with pure chakra.
[attr="class","pwf1body"] Yousei skidded to a halt as their attacks collided, readying her blade without hesitation. It seemed he'd dismounted his horse willingly, but that didn't seem right; why would he so easily surrender such a major advantage? [break][break]
The way he'd flown off his steed was unusual too. She'd heard of Earth Release techniques that could allow one to fly, but he hadn't performed any handseals. And then there was that creepy horse. Since when did a horse need goggles, anyway? Something fishy was going on, but she couldn't quite put her finger on what it was yet. [break][break]
"Your ways?" Yousei gritted her teeth at that statement, knuckles going white around her blade as she felt a familiar sense of malice growing in the pit of her stomach. Her eyes were like daggers as she stared him down, her killing intent so intense that it could practically be felt as it permeated the atmosphere around her. [break][break]
Unflinching in the face of his sudden attack, she stepped forward into his strike without hesitation, the hate sharpening her focus as she deftly parried his blade with a rising slash from below, her own sword now covered in a glowing outline of neon white chakra, offering nothing in the way of range, but greatly enhancing the steel itself. [break][break]
Then, she followed through by pulling her blade back in the selfsame motion, switching gears from defense to offense as she converted perfectly into a forward thrust aimed at slipping past the Taiyou's destabilized guard and piercing straight into his core. [break][break]
His style was also strange, she noted. He was wielding one of the most famous iai blades in the history of the samurai, yet he treated it like a normal sword, and attacked her with ordinary kenjutsu? He did look like a samurai, and use the techniques of a samurai, but beneath the surface, it almost felt like he was just meant to seem like a samurai, when in reality he was just a convincing facsimile. [break][break]
A samurai knew a samurai, at least how they functioned and carried themselves. Although the Niijima family in Kumo had long lost its reputation as one of the most reputable samurai families in the village, it hadn't lost its potential in terms of those who were born to it and came from it. Among them was one woman, Niijima Izumi. She had gone against the odds of both the elders in her family and also the village in and of itself, becoming not just a samurai despite the blunt fact that she was a woman, but also a kunoichi. Bot of these professions, so to speak, were somewhat interconnected, even though they didn't actively cross paths except for certain fighting styles. [break][break]
She had been called upon to Onomichi, both from her village as a whole and that of what a samurai's duty encompassed. Farmlands littered the area and had it not been for the violent disruptions of men on horseback, it would look like a somewhat peaceful place. And yet, among all of this, her samurai instincts could not help but feel that this was the work of samurai, swordsmen against swordsmen. Izumi didn't particularly enjoy having to fight those who prided themselves to be the same as she was, the honoring of the code nonexistent as the enemy chose to attack shinobi. There was no forgiving those who didn't hold the respect, integrity, reputation and honor of a swordsman.
But there was not much she could do, except side with the other shinobi from the area, perhaps more for the reason that she was still a pretty weak kunoichi herself. [break][break]
Her foot landed gently on a tree branch, one hand stabilized her position as she scanned what was happening below. She had captured the little show that Tsubaki had gone to some elaborate lengths to put on, possibly to fool the men on horseback from earlier. It had been a game of cat and mouse for the longest time it seemed, and Izumi wondered if this trick was enough to catch the men off-guard and get to capturing that daunting man on the black stallion. The girl rather applauded the person for coming up with such a charade, and decided to keep quiet from where she was. She wanted to see how the situation would unfold. And such was the careful nature of samurai, perhaps, not wanting to give away their location and their strengths too quickly when faced with the enemy. She breathed sharply as one of the men approached the pink-haired stranger, from what she could tell, he was oblivious to the charades. [break][break]
Her other hand would reach and touch the handle of her sword though, ready just in case anything was to happen. [break][break]
From his perch within the trees, Itada watched the scene unfold before him, the indigo hues of his eyes barely visible through the slits of Mugōn; even his makeshift partner, the ninja who lie in ambush next to him, would have trouble discerning any notable features from the face of the nukenin – aside from those who would eventually gain his trust, he would only be remembered by his deeds on the battlefield, and the instrument of porcelain that concealed his identity.
Barely a whisper escaped from underneath Mugōn's shell, the faceless voice aimed toward the kunoichi next to him.
It was all he would say for now, the moments prior to speaking he had spent doing two things; observing the samurai who'd approached and left their mounts, and readying himself for when the time came to strike. Itada would retrieve a single kunai from his pouch with his right hand, using his left to retrieve an explosive tag, and then swiftly combine the two; he would repeat this process one more time so that there was a bladed-bomb in each hand.
From what he had gathered, the water ninja had succeeded in her efforts at fooling the samurai. Not only had one attempted to aid her, but the four-man cell had broken formation; one stayed behind to help, another turned his back (confident she was an ally), and the last two had wandered directly beneath the duo hidden in the foliage.
A quick glance over at Izumi, then Itada made his move – her grip of the blade assuring the rogue Uchiha that she understood the assignment.
A flick of the wrist would send the kunai in his right hand propelling toward the ground; it would zip through the air, Itada aiming his best to avoid hitting any leaves as to avoid giving away his surprise. Years of training in the art of shurikenjutsu would see the kunai land direct center between the two samurai – primed to detonate the second it hit the ground, Itada intended to separate legs from bodies. Even if that wasn't the case, the surprise attack would cause an opening for Izumi's assumed skill with the blade.
A toss over from left to right, the second kunai would be launched toward the samurai that had his back turned to Tsubaki. The previous explosion would have surely caught his attention; this, coupled with the fact that Itada was still under the guise of stealth, perhaps the samurai would not see it coming? It was aimed at kink in the armor between the chest-piece and the helmet (neck area).
This one was not primed beforehand – instead, once it reached within the vicinity to cause damage, the Uchiha would form the seal of the serpent and detonate the bomb in the face of the samurai.
If everything went as it should have, the shinobi tandem could make quick work of the few samurai here.
Itada would immediately observe the ramifications of his actions. Had the samurai below been defeated? Did he need to finish them off? What of the one in the distance? & the other ninja?
The soldiers took the bait better than she initially hoped. The clone was dissipated before it could prove to be too useful, only leaving behind a thick fog that would engulf Tsubaki and the samurai that stayed to address her directly. When the enemy soldier reached out to her, she would instead reach out to meet it with her own. "I'm fine enough. But...there's more hiding around here somewhere." This was supposed to be a lie. A ruse that would both keep the group distracted while their leader was challenged directly. And if she played her cards right, she could get the jump on these samurai to wipe out the unit one by one before rejoining the real fight.[break][break]
But it seemed her fibbing turned out to be truthful, her brows rising a bit at the oh so familiar sound of explosive tags detonating. Her bloodied hand immediately reached for her blade as she turned toward the source of the noise. She and the other samurai were still caught up in the fog, making it impossible to see what was happening to the other men."They're still here! That way!" The disguised kunoichi took a half step toward the sound, allowing the other soldier to take the lead. Then, the moment he moved ahead of her she would unsheathe her sword in a single fluid motion the lead into a precise slice aimed at the man's neck. The man seemed distracted enough, so she hoped to get a nice clean cut to sever head from body while still hidden by the fog.
[attr="class","APP3"]Whatever became of Seiichi and Yousei? With no one around to observe, there was little that could be said for certain about the outcome of the battle.
Tsubaki's lie become truth further sold her deception, and then the man turned to pursue the source of the explosion he was cut down by her from behind with ease.
While one had managed to avoid being hit significantly by the explosive tag, Itada had managed to take a large chunk out of the leg of another man who was now screaming on the ground.
The man who had gotten away from the explosion spotted Tsubaki's action and yelled for help. The second man had been standing right in front of Izumi's place of hiding, squinting because he thought he saw a body in the trees for a moment. He turned his back when he heard the call and made his way.
If they were not interrupted in their movement they would take a vertical strike at her center mass. The other rushed towards the trees and kicked off the side of one to boost himself up with a jump, he slashed his blade upwards towards Itada in an arcing crescent that just might reach his neck if he didn't move.
Note: You can auto-hit these guys to finish them up.