-=[Forest of Death]=---------------------------------
Surrounded by an extremely high chain link fence, with the appropriate "No Tresspassing" and "Authorized Access Only" signs placed at each of the many gates into the forest, the Forest of Death certainly looks like it earns it's name. Even standing outside the gate to this forest, one can see the tall, thick and gnarled trees, which branches and leaves hang over the top of the fence. Trying to look into the forest without stepping in finds themselves only seeing into a threatening darkness. Stepping into the forest, assuming you either have the proper authorization or having an incredible lapse of judgement, one will find themselves in a myriad of old trees covered in moss and vines, and looking quite the intimidating part. The forest is thick to the point there's on sporadic clearings about the trees for resting. Bushes keep most of the ground covered, and the canopy is thick enough that very little sunlight from the outside gets in, keeping the forest constantly on the dark side. If the fact that one could easily get lost here wasn't enough, the strange, eerie, and perhaps hungry, sounds that are constantly heard in the forest probably doesn't help one's nerves much either.
Stadium <S> Tournament Stadium
Forest Path <FP> Forest Grounds
As much as he hates to admit it--as much as he'd rather be writing porn (sorry, *elegant romance*) or peeking at the hot springs or checking out brothels--Jiraiya knows that he really ought to be putting some time into Naruto's training. Not that the kid doesn't have enough to think about with the wedding of his teammate in a scant matter of days, but stupid things like *weddings* shouldn't take precedence over training! Only smart, important things like whores.
So it is that Jiraiya winds up stalking through the Forest of Death, scouting out good places for dragging Naruto and leaving him there. What? He's an awesome teacher. His methods are amazing. His methods are...well, they're actually kind of lazy, but. He's pretty sure they work!
Several hours into his latest scouting mission, Jiraiya finally decides to take a break. He flops down in a clearing and sprawls against a tree. With one hand, he starts unwrapping his packed lunch. With the other, he reaches for his notebook. He might as well scribble down some writing ideas while he's out here! The alternative is *thinking*, and that tends to suck.
Ah, weddings. Time for bonds, time for commitments... time for gifts. Gifts, too, are an important part of such wonderful ceremonies. But of course -- binding also comes with inevitable seperation. And such seperations can only be /achieved/ when there are not ugly, foolish frogs to get in the way. There are certain ways to go about doing things, after all. Certain, prudent methods of taking care of /problems/. After all...
... it's been a while, since Orochimaru has gotten to see his former teammate.
There is a Snake in the high grass, as Jiraiya flops down to relax. He has been waiting, silent and undisturbed. Watching. You need to be careful, after all... even when dealing with such a failure of a ninja such as Jiraiya. He must give special care, after all, to a special friend.
"I see you haven't changed much.... Jiraiya..."
The voice comes from all around. There is no distinct source, but the tone, the amusement that fringes on it, should be all terribly familiar for Jiraiya. It is time for him to visit his past. Is he ready? It certainly will be a time worth remembering...
No, Jiraiya is never really ready to face his past. That's the problem with burying one's issues in silliness and smut. Beneath the trite mounds of romance cliches, they sit and they swell and they fester and they do other things better associated with certain parts of the body in cliched softcore smut.
Jiraiya freezes with one riceball in his mouth and his free hand poised over the notebook. He stares carefully ahead of him for a long moment. Then he chews the riceball, swallows, and quietly packs up the rest of his lunch. Following that, he folds up his notebook and tucks it away.
Then he stands up. "Guess not," he says. "Good thing you haven't either, or I might be *surprised* that you're hiding in the grass like a coward, Orochimaru!" He stomps the grass with one foot for emphasis, as if he could squash his old teammate with that one gesture.
"Still a fool." It's the softest of a serpent's hiss across the air.
"Maybe I should show you why you'll never amount to anything more than that, ne...?"
You may avoid the past, but eventually it comes to haunt you. That is why one should never have regrets, because... when they least expect it, those regrets will come back to bite them. Regret, self-blame, guilt. What is the worth of these things? In this particular scenario, there are only certain things that matter; the Toad is an enemy, and obstacle that must be brushed aside. Nothing more. Though...
... no one said anything about him not having to enjoy it.
A chuckle rumbles through the Forest of Death, cold and chilling. Tauntingly running across the breeze before something begins to emerge from the ground in front of Jiraiya, grass and earth rippling as if it were nothing more than liquid. Skin as white as death, raven black hair... gold, piercing eyes and a smile twisting at lips in some horrible malformation of arrogance. "It's been a long time. I thought we could talk."
Normally, Jiraiya is really damn good at ditching his past. Better than Tsunade, certainly. He doesn't need to drink to forget. Why bother? He knows that none of it *matters* anymore. Or he did, until Naruto showed up and made him start to doubt his resignation, that punk.
And now his old teammate, the *other* one--he's back.
Jiraiya tenses slightly as Orochimaru flows into sight; his eyes are narrowed slightly, his jaw set in a bitter line. He lifts his chin as the other man speaks. "And how will you show me this?" he asks with a smirk. "Throw up some snakes?"
But beneath the throw-away words there's something dark at the back of his eyes--an old, hard bitterness. "Go ahead then, snake," he says, and he almost spits the words. "Talk."
You can't escape it. These things -- they're an inevitability. Dressed in something different from the normal purple bow, the Snake opts for darker violets and blacks, and a looser garb that drapes over his pale white form easily enough. His hands -- bandaged, fingers twitching at his sides. He is the past. Jiraiya's superior, taunting him. He is the present. Jiraiya's undoing, smiling at him. And he will be the future. Jiraiya's death... laughing at him.
But not now.
Now is just a time... to have fun.
Gras splits in waves as reality melts around them and the Snake lifts a single foot into the air, planting it on solid ground that, at once point, seemed not so solid at all. His slit pupils focus on Jiraiya, a condescending smile on his face; the smile of a person acknowledging someone who will never be as great nor as talented as them.
"You never did have any witty responses, did you?" A musing, just to himself. "But I guess I'll keep my words brief. I've decided to give you a gift, Jiraiya..." Fingers twitch. That smile becomes significantly more cruel as his eyes twist and narrow into a cold, dangerous stare. "I've decided to show you just how much all your training as a ninja has been a waste." A pause.
"... Just like I showed Sarutobi-sensei."
Well, it's good, then, that Jiraiya stopped thinking about the past a long time ago--sometime after Orochimaru abandoned them, sometime after Tsunade's tears dried up and she left without fuss. The past just got too painful, and around then, Jiraiya learned that the best way to deal with that is to just...ignore it. As for the future? That doesn't concern him. All the matters is the present, and until Naruto came along, it was full of nothing but smut and pretty pairs of breasts.
Something about Orochimaru being here, though--it rips open the past, reminds Jiraiya that what he likes to convince himself are old scars over even older wounds are just scabs waiting to be torn open. This is exactly what he spends his life trying to avoid.
His eyes narrow a little more. "That's nice," he says. "Who knew you could be so charitable?"
Before he can get any response, he's whipping out a horizontal rain of kunai and sending them flying at Orochimaru. The talking is making something curl up and hurt in the pit of his stomach. Fighting is easier. Already, he's forming handseals for a jutsu.
If Jiraiya thinks this is a pain for HIM, then he needn't worry. This is more /torture/ for Orochimaru than it could /ever/ be for Jiraiya. He despises this stupid, wart-ridden, thick-skulled, incompetent failure of a ninja moreso than he despises that outcast Kyuubi. This is painful, just to be here. Which is why he plans to excise the pain... completely. This will not take long. He will not have to tolerate Jiraiya for too long a time. Which is why, his lips curl pleasantly, to the point where they force his eyes to squint shut.
"I wonder if you'll scream as much as Sarutobi-sensei did when he did, Jiraiya! Let's find ou--"
The kunai bite into shoulders, neck, face, stomach and chest in a rain of sharp metal and pain. The form of the Snake staggers from the sudden onslaught, but still, there is that smile... even as his hair and skin begin to melt. Even as he seems to /decompose/ rapidly before Jiraiya's eyes into nothing more... than mud.
"Remember what sensei said about being aware of your environment."
The voice comes from above. From the very tree that Jiraiya was once lazing upon. Orochimaru stands, on the side of the trunk, a veil of black hair obscuring everything but those golden eyes. Seals have been formed, in a succession far faster than normally possible. His cheeks puff out, and then?
He rains down an inferno of firey missiles down upon Jiraiya, five in all.
All right, so Jiraiya didn't exactly expect it to be that easy. Truth be told, he really shouldn't have let himself be provoked like that. Attacking the obvious target? What was he *thinking*? Maybe he wasn't thinking at all.
But then, there's something about Orochimaru that seems to forestall rational thought, with him. Something about the way the snake-sannin makes the back of his toad-bearing counterpart's brain itch with badly-buried resentments, the way he wants to clench his hands into fists at the sight of that *smirk* on Orochimaru's face--
Yeah. Jiraiya isn't at his best when his old teammate is around.
Right now, he struggles to bury the rising bitterness in the heat of battle, and for a blessed moment, he succeeds. Reeling around as the fire rains down on him, Jiraiya dives forward, under its blast (he can feel the blaze scorch past his head) and forms swift seals. The ground in a ring around him abruptly sags downwards as rock and dirt become wet swamp. The fireballs tag onto sinking branches and leaves, setting them burning with a low, sputtering flame as they try to resist the damp of the newly-made swamp.
Then the marshy ground circles around and meets itself right beneath the tree in which Orochimaru perches--and that tree, too, starts to fall. Jiraiya flashes his opponent a smirk of his own, this one wide and toothy.
His emotions could be flustered. But then again, that is just another contributing factor to why he lacks the skill that the Snake Sannin has. Orochimaru does not stop for sympathy, for compassion. The emotions that rule him are ambition and sadism. Why allow someone past his prime like Jiraiya to get to him... when he can merely /prove/ himself the man's better?
Flames meet swamp in flashes of light and tongues of flame. The impacts cause splatters of liquid and moisture into the air, fizzles of steam before the flames sputter out of existance. Hmm. Those golden eyes narrow, a frown playing across the lips of the Snake Sannin. "Oh my. Have you developed beyond complete incompetence?"
And that is when the tree starts to sink, begins to fall as it is naturally unrooted. The rumble makes the Snake jerk once, eyes widening only briefly before both sandal'd feet push off the tree and high into the air. His descent takes him head-first towards Jiraiya, eyes wide and full of that twisted hatred and malevolence. But as he descends, he spins in mid-air, thrusting a single foot forward... that begins to extend to unnatural lengths, at breakneck speed, to slam into the side of Jiraiya's face.
<OOC> Jiraiya says, "That's not very dignified. :("
<OOC> Orochimaru says, "It's because I care for you. :("
"Maybe just a little," Jiraiya snarls as he dives to the side of the falling tree. He draws his hands back, and there's something beginning to swirl there. "Not that I ever needed it all that much. Not to take you down and bury you." His words might be dramatic, but the tone of his voice is merely bitter. Ash probably tastes that bitter--and it's the remains of fire. There's no flame in Jiraiya's words, even if the last of a fire is sputtering on the now-swamped ground behind him. Just tired and very bitter old ashes.
But that doesn't mean he's not deadly.
To prove this point, as Orochimaru descends upon him, he lifts his hands to reveal the ball of chakra swirling so tightly within them, and he drives it up at his opponent. For all that he only sounds tired and resigned, there's a light in his eyes that suggests he's rather pleased with the chance to smash a Rasengan into Orochimaru's grinning face.
And then the snake sannin twists. Jiraiya can tell something's coming even before he sees it. Not to have his chance to attack taken from him, he gathers chakra into his feet and leaps up off the ground to meet Orochimaru in midair. Unfortunately, this means he's flinging himself right at the oncoming attack--and his hands aren't free to form the seals for any defensive jutsu. He jerks himself to the side just in time to avoid the full force of the kick, but Orochimaru's foot still slams into the side of his face, and there's a dizzying *crack*--yeah, that sounds like a jawbone couldn't stand up to the pressure there.
Now Jiraiya is glaring through the pain ricocheting up his jaw. He gathers up the Rasengan and drives it right at Orochimaru's chest.
The Rasengan. A technique developed by the Fourth Hokage. Yondaime... does Orochimaru remain bitter about his denial of that title? Of course not. Such insignificant things matter little to a creature like him. His ambitions stretch far beyond petty vengence. Any desire to destroy this insignificant village is simply to further his own cause, his own plans. He holds nothing for this place anymore. And even this, even this fight...
... is just a stepping stone.
He knows that technique, though. So, the ability of the student has become the ability of the master? "I understand you've taken the Kyuubi Brat under your wing... Don't you realize he will never succeed /anything/? He has no potential." His smile curls up so very far as his leg cracks Jiraiya's jaw with untold ferocity. "Unlike Sasuke-kun..."
And there comes the Rasengan. He can not evade it, not in the air. So he does what he can. He twists in mid-air, even as his cheeks puff once more. Like a typhoon of pain, the Rasengan strikes his side, the vicious winds beating down on him. But in that very moment...
... a snake BURSTS out of his mouth with the speed of a bullet, and carried in /its/ mouth?
A single sword. The Kusanagi, intending to impale Jiraiya in the gut before the Snake goes flying painfully through the air, crashing into the ground below with a thud.
They've both left solid ground behind them, for just this one moment. Orochimaru is descending with old rage and perpetually fresh dreams of power fueling his fall, and Jiraiya is ascending with bitterness at the back of his throat and determination beneath his feet. But in the end, the result will be the same: both of them are going to get hurt here.
A smug grin flashes across Jiraiya's face as his Rasengan connects. "Hah! Naruto's a brat, but he has one thing that miserable Uchiha bastard never will: dreams and the determination to--"
--back them up, he means to say, but that's about when there's a snake with a legendary sword in its mouth going straight for his gut. He breaks off his little speech with a snarl and tries to pull away even as he begins forming handseals for a defensive jutsu.
It's too late. He doesn't get the chance to defend himself with a jutsu, and he barely has time to twist away before Kusanagi goes through his side. The next thing he knows, he's pinned to a tree, and if he doesn't do something about that soon, he's going to wind up in a torn, bloody heap on the ground.
So he braces his feet against the tree, grabs Kusanagi by the hilt (tearing the snake away from it if it's still attached), and yanks the sword out of him with a muffled grunt of pain.
Then he goes sliding to the ground, bleeding copiously.
And that is where Jiraiya fails.
Never, would he put enough effort into an action such as this.
The two impact at the same time. The Rasengan is powerful, a force to be reckoned with, but it is quick movements that the Snake Sannin avoids getting his insides churned into butter. He has the advantage here. Surprise, momentum... this result was decided long before Jiraiya attempted to react. He never could succeed.
Why does he not just give up now?
There is a long silence after Orochimaru crashes into the ground and Jiraiya slumps downward. A long silence... until. Slowly, out of the brush, comes a sound. Faint, but there. It comes easily, and begins to pick up.
"... heh... hehehehe..."
He rises, out of the brush. Blood dribbles from his mouth, but he still STANDS. "... pathetic loser..." Crimson spittle is forced out of his mouth, even as the Snake paws at his side. There's no external injuries; Rasengan damages on the inside. "Even your greatest isn't enough." Hands press together, forming seals in a frighteningly short amount of time. And when he is done, the very /earth/ surrounding Jiraiya begins to rumble, violently.
He only has scant seconds to react before a giant, stone pillar shoots out of the ground in front of him, to crush him up against the tree he slumps against. Not enough to kill... but more than enough to cause pain. And even, perhaps, break bones.
It's nothing but stubbornness that keeps Jiraiya fighting now. If he gives up now, it doesn't matter whether he dies or not (although he'd really like to live--there are still so many sets of breasts he has neither ogled nor groped)--what matters is that Orochimaru *won*. And *that* is the worst thing that could happen here.
Well, all right, so both of them getting reduced to bloody smears on the ground would be pretty bad. But Orochimaru having the satisfaction of knowing that he'd won? Infinitely worse.
Jiraiya is just starting to pull himself to his feet when he hears that terrible laughter. He feels a snarl twitching up one corner of his mouth around the pain of his broken jaw and bleeding side. "You asshole," he snaps in a low voice. "You've got nothing to laugh about!"
But he's already preparing himself for an attack--and sure enough, the ground around him begins to shake. It's almost too late when he recognizes what's about to happen--and then he's forming handseals with blinding speed. Just in time to protect him, his hair puffs up into sharp, unnaturally hard spines.
The breath rushes out of him as his hardened hair blocks the stone pillar, and he's squeezed, almost crushed, between that and the tree. After a long moment, though, his hair wins out, and cracks begin to spread through the stone.
The instant that happens, Jiraiya begins to grab chunks of rock from the broken stone pillar and fling them with furious speed and power at Orochimaru. He wonders how long he has before blood loss overwhelms him and he's too weak to fight.
<OOC> Jiraiya says, "yeah, I went there"
<OOC> Jiraiya says, "I RUINED STONE WITH MY HAIR"
<OOC> Orochimaru says, "YOU BITCH"
There are things you must remember. Simple facts, about your surroundings, about the environment... about your opponent. How long will it be until Jiraiya is pushed beyond the natural limits of his body? All ready he seems to be forgetting important things. Blood loss will get to him soon. Slow down his reactions, his abilities. In comparison, the blow Orochimaru took... is nothing. Eventually, he can overcome it.
The injuries of the flesh mean nothing to a Snake who can shed its skin, after all.
"Yare yare... you're like a cockroach." The prickle of the Toad Sannin's unusual hair is no surprise to Orochimaru; merely an annoyance. "I wonder how long the cockroach will last before it's squashed though, ne?" Not that long at all, he's sure.
Chunks of rock fly at him with incredible force, miniature missiles of pain intent to crush Orochimaru's body through sheer force. He, however, is nothing if not prepared. A flurry of hand signals, and then? Violent, chakra-laced winds burst forward from the Snake, making him the epicentre of a giant storm that tears down trees and expells those stones before they can strike him. And with the crash of ancient oak, Orochimaru lifts a hand.
The blade of the Kusanagi glows an ethereal blue as it flings itself towards Jiraiya to bite into his side.
Always, always remember your surroundings.
"A cockroach, huh?" Jiraiya forces his strength into his voice. Sure, he should be conserving it, but he knows one thing for sure: he can't let Orochimaru *see* whatever weakness may be spreading through him. "That's a lot better than a snake. And a lot harder to crush--"
With that word, he flings a last chunk of rock at his opponent--only to see it get caught up in a whirlwind. Distantly, Jiraiya wonders how long it'll be before someone notices that something is wrong out here. He could use help--but on the other hand, nearly anyone they sent would just be easily crushed. He'd really rather that not happen. Besides--this is between him and Orochimaru. Always has been, always will be.
He pushes down the pain, lifts his hands, and begins to form seals--a summoning jutsu, but not a normal one. He'll capture Orochimaru in the mouth of the great toad and keep him there--
Except he never gets the chance. In the scant instants before he can finish the jutsu, he's disrupted by a sword picking itself up, all aglow, and flying at him. He has no choice but to fling himself to the side.
Jiraiya escapes the murderous flight of the blade, but it's a near thing--and he goes thudding to the ground, landing on his side. His still-bristling hair sticks into the muddy earth.
To (Jiraiya, Orochimaru), Itachi pages: ARE YOU GUYS MAKING OUT?! C_C
You paged (Itachi, Orochimaru) with '...what, you wanna join us?'.
To (Jiraiya, Orochimaru), Itachi pages: ....m.. may-- ... mm.. .. n.. nah, mang.. I just wanted to check.
To (Jiraiya, Itachi), Orochimaru pages: You suuuuuuuuuuuuuure?
To (Jiraiya, Orochimaru), Itachi pages: Nah--nah, it's cool... the guys on the public chan were worried was all.
Jiraiya's doing a valiant job of keeping his head above the water. He struggles so pointlessly -- doesn't he know?
There will always be that death-white hand there to shove him back down as soon as he gets up.
"You know, Jiraiya..." The name is sing-song'd out in an almost nostalgic reminiscence, touching on the fringes of kindness... but still dripping with a burning venom.
"... Sarutobi-sensei put up a much better fight than you did, before I killed him."
It'd be chiding, were it not meant to /enrage/. Where is Jiraiya's passion? His anger? Festering deep inside his soul for the teammate who betrayed them all. Doesn't he remember, happier times? When Sarutobi trained them, and they were... friends? Then again. The look in Orochimaru's golden eyes say it all, swarming with disgust. Jiraiya was never a friend of his.
Those happier times do not exist.
There is a tenderness in his side, a point where muscle has been churned by power and his insides feel as if they may have imploded, but it only seeks to fuel the Sannin on further. Pain is the masochist's caffeine. It keeps his eyes open, alert, even as Jiraiya falls to the ground. Handseals form. "Don't fall yet. Is this all you've learned? You're still as weak as ever... how sad."
An explosion of snakes burst forward from Orochimaru's black sleeve, numbering in the double-digits as they all seek to wrap around Jiraiya's arms, legs, neck, and then...
...Squeeze the life out of him...
That hatred is there, all right, glittering at the back of Jiraiya's eyes. Only it's not so much *hatred*, really. Sure, it's close, but...it's just too *tired* to be outright hatred. It's more like an overwhelming, consuming bitterness and resentment.
When he speaks, there's sullen weariness in his voice. "Sarutobi-sensei fought to protect the entire village." A beat. He struggles to pull himself up off the ground. "I'm just fighting to take you down, you lying asshole."
In the end, he only manages to get himself up to his knees. He fumbles through handseals, then slaps one hand to the gaping wound in his side. A mud-like substance spreads where he touches, caking over the bloody injury and at least stemming the bloodloss--although it's not like it does anything to heal the actual damage. And before Jiraiya can do anything else--
The snakes launch at him. They grab hold of him and haul him right back down to the ground. With one strangled noise of irritation and disgust, he goes down, back into the mud he created.
But he's not willing to end this that easily. He may be prone to giving up, but his enmity with Orochimaru runs too deep for him to just let it go so easily--and Naruto has reminded him of the value of stubbornness. Fumbling in the mud, Jiraiya forms handseals.
And all around Orochimaru, slimy ropes of toad gut launch at him, grabbing at him, yanking him and choking him.
He can feel it creeping along his spine, can't he...? Inadequacy. Hard work and determination never could quite stand up to the skill of the genius of a generation. That nagging presence in the back of his mind at the face of something SUPERIOR. Hard work will only get you so far, until the bitter reality slips in.
That a traitor is better than you. "Oh...? How scary! You might be a bit more frightening, though... if you had skill to back up your words. Don't you think so?" His voice is the hiss of a serpent, condescending and taunting Jiraiya, oozing with amusement.
Fangs grip at Jiraiya's throat, clamping shut. They'll crush his windpipes soon, digging in as each passing second becomes a glimmer of eternity, a window into Jiraiya's fast-approaching end. All with the smiling face of Orochimaru to stare at him. It's over. Except--
Jiraiya still persists.
... how irritating.
Slime presses slick against Orochimaru's throat in an attempt at strangulation. He resists, but slowly his grip begins to slacken. His fingers against the toad innards loosen, fall... the snakes against Jiraiya's throat detach.
The ones around his arms and legs do not.
It's about then that Jiraiya might see a single arm flying in, stretching at impossible lengths to lance into his previous, now mud-covered injury. It's a quick strike to disorient him, before a face jerks over JUST in front of his.
His neck has stretched so that he stares, face to face with his former teammate, wide gold eyes harsh and condescending. "You've gotten so old... it's so sad. Even the mighty toad, when it reaches old age, can't to anything more but let its husk dry away in the sun. But the snake..." Even as Orochimaru speaks against the guts gripping around his throat, he brings pale white fingers to his forehead. Nails dig into flesh, and begin to peel away the /skin of his face/. Strands of white hair peek out underneath, and while the eyes that stare back are the same... the facial structure is entirely different. Someone else's. Someone younger.
"... Just needs to shed its skin to be young again..."
The only warning Jiraiya gets is the expanding of cheeks before Orochimaru's tongue explodes from his mouth, intent on calling a home around Jiraiya's throat, wrapping around it and CHOKING viciously.
<OOC> Jiraiya says, "oh that's not gay at all"
<OOC> Orochimaru says, "i luv u"
Damn, damn, damn, damn, *damn*. He hasn't managed to kill Orochimaru, and yet it looks like Jiraiya is going to lose. That doesn't *upset* him so much as it embarrasses him.
The toad-sannin reaches muddied fingers up to grab at the snakes sinking fangs into his neck, but pain renders his grip clumsy. And when the snakes *do* release his throat? He barely has time to exhale in relief before a fist slams into his barely-covered wound, and he gags on the pain, disgust flashing through his eyes.
And then he's staring right into Orochimaru's face. That only heightens the bitter disgust in his own gaze. "I wouldn't write off this old toad just yet, Oro--"
He's cut off mid-boast. The words fall back down his throat as he stares at the grotesque spectacle of his old teammate's face being peeled right off the skull to reveal another one beneath it. He swallows against the bile threatening to rise from his stomach at the sight.
Although, to be honest, throwing up on Orochimaru's shiny new face would be really satisfying.
Instead of doing something as visceral as that, though, he pulls up some more bluster: "What, am I supposed to be scared by that, you stupid old snake? I guess you're *proud*--"
He doesn't get a chance to finish his taunts, because that damned tongue shoots out and grabs him around his throat. Stars glitter at the dark edges of his vision as his breath cuts off. He spits feebly at Orochimaru, but he doesn't have the air to hurl insults. He doesn't even have the air to keep himself alive, for that matter.
Only one thing to do now. Jiraiya focuses, pushes away the way his lungs are beginning to nag him with their burning, and gathers up his chakra in his hands. Though dizziness threatens his aim, he's pretty sure he can manage this one last attack.
With Orochimaru's sneering face as his target, Jiraiya launches one last Rasengan.
It's a funny thing, to suffocate. You can't talk, only try futile struggles as the air slowly slips from your lungs and you are denied oxygen from the outside world, the one thing you need in order to survive. It is a cruel way to die. Perhaps... one of the worst.
Which shows how much affection the Snake holds for the Toad.
That slimy muscle constricts more tightly around Jiraiya, restricting his breathing, cutting off his voice. Crimson fluid paints Orochimaru's fingers, dripping down to the forest ground. The blood of his enemy, curling and coagulating at his fingertips. He'll die soon. Orochimaru can FEEL his life pulsing out, beat for beat. Draining from his very core. It is a sound that soothes his ears, that relaxes his mind... a euphoria one can only receive when accomplishing something they've dreamed of. Though... this is not an accomplishment. This... is simply a long time coming.
Spittle falls lamely on his outfit, and the Snake's eyes narrow. He lifts Jiraiya further into the air with his /tongue/, as that intense gaze is brought down to bare upon the Toad. All of Orochimaru's killing intent focuses on the man, his teammate, his comrade, his nemesis...
And then he sees a crackle of sapphire. The condensation of power and swirl of wind typical of the signature jutsu of the Yondaime. Rasengan. Again? That tongue quickly begins to unfurl. "Don't you learn anything NEW--"
Hands form the signals. Tiger, boar, onward--
--The Rasengan is released the moment Orochimaru's cheeks expand outward. And, body bending back --
--It's as the Rasengan strikes him squarely in the chest that a plume of purple flames expand outward from Orochimaru's mouth -- chakra that swiftly takes the form of a monstrous serpent, it's mouth agape and ready to consume Jiraiya in vicious fires even as Orochimaru goes flying. Not enough to kill, perhaps... if Jiraiya is strong.
But enough to hurt the body and the soul.
There's no satisfying despair on Jiraiya's face, no sullen admission of defeat. This isn't to say that he looks noble and defiant, either. Mostly, he just looks pissed. And like he'd really like a chance to pull some air into his lungs.
Then, even as he's flinging that one last Rasengan at his enemy, his throat is released. "Hhhh---!" He staggers as he drops back to his feet, then sucks in air frantically, heedless of how undignified this must make him look.
He's so glad to be able to breathe once more that he almost misses the horror coming at him. Almost. But it's the sort of thing that's rather hard to miss.
Jiraiya looks up in time to see the fiery chakra serpent rushing at him. He's still too dizzy from his near-suffocation to pull out much in the way of fancy moves to throw it back. He really only has one choice: meet chakra with chakra.
So with that in mind, Jiraiya hurriedly forms handseals as he staggers back from incoming doom. At the last moment, he flings himself back into the mud--and under his guidance, it rises around him, glittering unnaturally with his chakra, to form a wall reinforced by his own lifeforce.
For all the good that does, anyway. The serpent bursts right through the mud to ravage Jiraiya within it, leaving him nothing more than a limp form covered in piles of the mud he sought to use to protect himself.
It's not a very dignified end. But then, Jiraiya's never been much for dignity.
It's sickening, wet-sounding as bones are torn up by the Rasengan, cracked in a whirlwind of pure power and chakra. A limp, black-clade body goes flying through the air, golden eyes wide and dim. Black hair flutters upwards with the downward pull of gravity, forming a veil across the death-white face of the Snake. There is a depression where his chest once was -- surely organs have been crushed.
It is with a resoundingly meaty thud that Orochimaru, leader of Hidden Sound, strikes the earth of the Forest of Death.
Silence settles over the forest. Predators dare not tred here now. Instinct tells them that forces greater than themselves are at work here; this area of the Forest of Death is not safe. Large creatures shirk away from this corner of the forest as deathly, eerie silence filters through, crawls in like death. It is at least a minute after his descent... that Orochimaru's mouth begins to widen...
And two white hands thrust out of it.
It's a shocking and disgusting thing, to see 'Orochimaru's' entire head expand... as he begins to literally regurgitate himself. Out of the husk that was once Orochimaru emerges himself, pulling upwards onto his feet with a stagger. Despite the technique, the damage to Orochimaru's true body is readily apparant. He staggers as he walks, clutching his chest. There is a fractured rib on top of the injuries he sustained from the first Rasengan, but he'll survive. Jiraiya, however...
Golden eyes look towards the Toad's fallen form in disgust. How worthless. Hatred wells up in the back of his throat, intermingling with the pain... until he decides there is an even better way to end this.
"I'm going to spare you. Remember this day, Jiraiya. The day I decided..." Violet fire begins to consume Orochimaru, burning him away. A trail of blood flows down the corner of his mouth, before he disappears entirely.
"... you weren't worth killing."
One thin trickle of blood from Orochimaru's mouth hits the muddied ground. It spreads through the earth, but stops long before it mingles with the bloody mess that surrounds Jiraiya's limp form. They may have mixed blood once, fighting side by side as friends and companions--
--but it'll never happen again.
And then Orochimaru is gone, vanished into the depths of the Forest of Death. After a long moment, Jiraiya twitches once, fingers grasping at something he can't see. Then he falls still again.
Even if he's past hearing Orochimaru's words, they'll stick with him anyway. His old (teammate) enemy didn't think him worth killing. Somehow, in a way, that's worse than the alternative.
<OOC> Orochimaru says, "And somewhere in the distance, Orochimaru sheds a single tear :'( :( '"
<OOC> Jiraiya says, "And it's a POISONOUS tear. >:("
<OOC> Orochimaru shoots the poison tear at you >:O
<OOC> Jiraiya AAAAH
<OOC> Orochimaru says, "TAKE THAT"