With Yuhi catching up the team was reunited in close quarters. The effeminate man gave a quick hot take on the cause of the genjutsu, one which made sense to Soryu. It was unlikely there was enemy shinobi here. Surely it was the tree, in some fashion, causing this mess and accordingly defending it. "Yeah, we should probably check that tree out for ourselves,"
Soryu agreed, only briefly turning his attention towards Yuhi. "But we might want to make sure we don't get killed on the way there, first."
Just as he finished speaking he saw his first glimpse of the creatures that were befalling the squad. He didn't even have the time to fully take in the details of the thing before he had his bow drawn and let an arrow fly. Unfortunately for him that his snap reflex was for nought, leaving Soryu with a frown as he watched his arrow phase through the mutated wolf as if it was a mirage. It's definitely there, though. I can hear its breathing and the other noises it keeps making. It's in that general direction at the least...
A second wolf, equally bizarre in appearance, approached from behind the first. Soryu wasted no further time in drawing another arrow and taking aim. This must be the genjutsu at work. My hearing isn't precise enough to pinpoint their exact location when they're that far away and I can't just shoot at random to keep them at bay. They'll just charge me and I won't be able to figure out their exact attack until they've sunk their teeth in...
Yuhi's warning about the buds on their tails made their way to Soryu just as he heard the whistling sound again. A perfect timing of coincidence to give Soryu the idea he needed. I don't need to waste chakra after all.
The whistling sound was independent of the other animal-like noises these wolves made. It didn't sound like it came from the same source, but it sounded just as close. The growls came from their mouths, the whistles surely must come from the greatest and most mysterious anomaly of their anatomy: the bud on the tail. Without any warning to his comrades he broke into a quick sprint, keeping the arrow notched on his bow as he made distance from his allies.
This attracted the attention of the two wolves that were prepared to strike. In order to maintain their exact distance, if not close in further, they had to chase him. But Soryu didn't run very far, only several meters, before sliding to a halt and turning to face the approaching beasts. As dumb animals they wouldn't have known any better as to the importance of the direction he ran, but their feral eagerness to chase him would be their downfall. They couldn't have realized that the angle he took was to line up the two distinct whistles in one exact direction. Despite the images of the wolves being that of two running side-by-side, Soryu could hear the whistles lined up perfectly. They were running single-file straight towards him. He couldn't risk just shooting one and being attacked by an invisible enemy while he prepared another shot and it was too risky to use ninjutsu when he would very likely need it later. He needed to kill them both in one blow for maximum efficiency and safety. And Soryu's longbow had a lot of power behind it, one that surely couldn't be wielded by normal civilians. Enough to make it through a wolf or two if not stopped by any bones."Sit."
And thus he released his drawn bow, aimed as best he could at the overlapping whistle sounds. To his eyes it appeared as if he split the difference between the parallel wolves but he knew that his eyes betrayed him. The arrow cut through the air at high speed but it didn't go very far before it vanished from Soryu's vision. Blood spattered out of nothingness where the arrow disappeared and a split-second after the rest of the wolf came into his view. It was a well-aimed shot with no shortage of luck, as it went through the creature's open maw. But where did it go after that? Soryu's vision was obstructed by the collapsing wolf corpse but soon behind it appeared another wolf out of thin air. The arrow's course had become apparent to Soryu now. It had gone through the first wolf's mouth and clipped its spine as it went out, paralyzing and probably instantly killing it, where it then flew into the second one's left eye. A deep blow, embedding itself through the wolf's brain and likely sticking into the back of its skull. The second wolf wasn't dead yet but it was certainly dying as it let out one last howl of pain before collapsing on the ground and whining incessently for several seconds. Its legs kicked and kicked until it stopped whining and moving at the same time, all of a sudden.That was a good shot, but when all is said and done,
Soryu began to think, his smirk vanishing as he looked upon the bodies. I was incredibly lucky.
Despite how far he thought the wolves were based on the sound, the nearest of the bodies lay mere feet from him. Obviously it had skidded to a halt so it died a little farther away, but Soryu had to guess it was all of a meter and a half away when his arrow struck it. His guess was that these creatures were at least twice as far away, if not more. Had he hesitated even a second longer in aiming his shot he would've likely been caught by the throat by the invisible beast and ultimately perished. For such simple, weak creatures that from an outside perspective would've been seen as two easy kills for Soryu... he was well aware of how close he truly was to dying. Perhaps I should've been more open to using ninjutsu on animals...
He had no idea where his first arrow could've possibly gone, but Soryu at least knew he could retrieve the one he just shot now. But first, he had to assist his comrades. Turning to face his team, which was now five meters away from him instead of immediately adjacent, he saw that they either all already finished the wolves attacking them or were just finishing them up. He resigned himself to quickly analyze the body of the second wolf he killed and then, rather unceremoniously, yank out the bloody arrow from its eye socket. The body gave one last twitch, presumably from the brain being damaged further, and Soryu stood to his feet to gain his distance from the putrid smelling corpse. It only just now died. These things just stink on their own...
Deciding the arrow wasn't worth the tainted smell, he tossed it on the ground and jogged back to the team. "If any more attack us, we can locate them through the genjutsu by the whistling sound their tails make. The genjutsu doesn't mask its true position so the illusions won't fool our ears,"
he announced his findings to the team, though it seemed like the genjutsu may have been lifted as the environment around them suddenly warped again to present a straight path towards the God-Tree."That wasn't suspicious at all..."
But nonetheless the team had to persevere onward. Soryu had escaped his encounter completely undamaged, but he was on edge now and more alert. In fact, he decided to avoid the possibility of getting ambushed by unseen creatures altogether and formed several handseals. After taking a deep breath in he had to stop walking for a long exhale. Having released his chakra into the air around the area he could detect the true shape of the environment around him. Everything that had a physical form would disturb his air and thus he would feel it precisely. To his surprise what he saw around him largely matched what he was sensing, meaning the genjutsu still was present but was less detached from reality than it was before. As the team continued walking forward his sensing range began to spread with the air. Just as it reached the God-Tree itself, thus confirming their distance from it, he was able to sense a presence behind it. "Yo, hol-"
he tried to get out before being interrupted by a loud and very different roar. The ground began to shake and the large creature he felt showed itself to the team. "Yeah, that."
It appeared to be made entirely of mud, or at least covered in a very thick layer, so Soryu decided his bow likely wasn't going to be of use. But as he stowed it away he noticed Yuhi beginning to run off towards the God-Tree itself instead of staying with the team. "Hey, wait a minute!"
he began to protest, though Yuhi responded by handing him a stack of different-looking explosive tags and proclaiming that he was the only one who could examine and accordingly impact the God-Tree enough to disable its defenses completely. The logic wasn't completely there, but Soryu knew that of the four there that Yuhi had the best odds of being able to do it. It just wasn't a guarantee anyways, as the man hadn't exactly grown up in a God-Tree farm or anything. "That's fine, then. The three of us can take this thing anyways!"
As Soryu stowed the new explosive tags and turned away from Yuhi and back towards the mud creature he felt something catch his step and almost trip him. Looking down towards his feet he saw a strange plant sticking out of the ground secreting gas. SHIT!
He quickly ripped off his entire left sleeve and wrapped it around his face, covering his nose and mouth. A late reaction to any possible poison was at least better than no reaction at all. This thing looks important though. I didn't see anything like it up until this point. Perhaps now that we're closer to the tree these things will be more common. I'll take this one now while I'm thinking about it.
He had business to attend to in the form of a mud monster attacking his team so Soryu made it quick and clean. He dropped to one knee and in one hand he grabbed the glowing, gassy bulb while using the other to give its stem a quick slash with a kunai knife for a smooth cut. And like that the strange plant was removed.