(The Great White Fox Chapter 6)
"Uhggg" spoke Tayuya as she woke up from her long slumber. She was sore in her lower back, and her legs felt like they had been broke, healed, broken again, and then finally healed. Her head was experiencing a sharp pain, like a hang over, but she knew it was from over using the damn curse mark Orochimaru had given her, and now she was suffering from the after affects.
When she opened her eyes she realized a few things. The first thing she realized was that she was in a nice room, so that meant she was not in Otogakure, and not imprisoned, which were both very good things. Then she got to thinking, if she was not in Otogakure, and not imprisoned, then where was she? Did someone pick her up, and nurse her back to health, or was she captured, but instead of being put in a cell, placed inside of a room. She instantly got very nervous. Thoughts about why someone would want her alive started running through her head, and not one of the thoughts were good, mainly due to her crappy experience. She tried to stand up, but her body was so tired and weak that she just fell back into the bed. She tried to do it again, but then the door opened, and she instantly started to panic in her mind.
When she looked over at the person who had come in she was very surprised. He was tall, had blood red hair that gave him a deadly look, three black marks on each of his cheeks which made him look very wild, crystal blue eyes that captivated her, and an chiseled face that made her blush slightly. His body was also very nice with all of the cut muscles that she could see through his black muscle shirt, and the strong calves that were showing through navy blue cargo shorts. She noticed he had some kind of sword on his back, and when he turned to close the door she was shocked to see a giant blue sword covered with dark blue scales, but the most shocking part of the sword to her was that it had a giant mouth at the end of it. She was relatively freaked out by the odd and very intimidating sword, but pushed the sword to the back of her mind as she continued to examine the man that had come into her room. She also noticed he had a forehead protector which caused her to get worried, but then she saw that there was a line cut through the symbol for Konoha, which meant he was a missing nin, which caused her to relax again.
Naruto had gone back to the room were the red headed girl he had found was sleeping. He had taken it upon himself to watch over her, and take care of her. He didn't want Gaara and Fu to have to stop training just to go take care of their new gest that he had decided to pick up, and plus he wanted to spend time with her. She might have been the only family he had, no matter how distant, and he wanted to spend as much time with her as he could, because he was unsure if she would want to return to Orochimaru or just didn't want to be around him.
When he entered her room he was actually surprised to see that she was awake, but even more so that she was trying to sit up. She had to have been out for a month so her muscles were more than likely weak from lack of use. He quickly closed the door, and turned around and sat on the chair next to her bed. He had brought her some food, so he placed the plate on the desk beside the bed. He saw the various looks on the girls face so he decided to break the ice so that they could get out of the awkward moment that they were currently in.
"I see you're up. That's good I was beginning to think that you wouldn't ever wake up" spoke Naruto as he gave the girl a friendly smile, but the girl apparently was not in the mood for niceties for some reason Naruto could not comprehend.
"Who the fuck are you? Where am I? Did you capture me? What did you do to me? Why are my muscles so weak" shouted the red head. Naruto quickly found out that though her muscles may have been starting to atrophy her mouth was far from it. He quickly took a deep breath as he could tell this was going to be difficult and started to tell the girl what had happened to her.
"My friends and I came to this country about two months ago. Right about the beginning of the second month we were training while water walking and I noticed you lying face first in the sand. I instantly knew that you needed medical attention, so I used a special form of healing that only I can do to fix you up, but even still you remained asleep. We brought you back to our house and placed you in this bed were we have been taking care of you ever since, so to answer your questions I am Naruto Uzumaki, you're in Wave Country, I didn't capture you but I did rescue you, and your muscles are weak because you have not used them for at least a month" spoke Naruto with a cheerful smile on his face. He could already tell the girl was going to be a handful, but she did have an interesting personality, and he could never turn away a member of his once great family and clan. He also wanted to befriend the girl, and find out why she had joined Orochimaru in the first place. He had already used the 'Evil Sealing Technique' on her curse mark so that he would not have to worry about Orochimaru tracking him and his friends down.
"Well fuck I wonder why Orochimaru hasn't come to try and capture and/or kill me yet" spoke Tayuya, but she was talking more to herself than to Naruto, but Naruto still heard it and decided to tell her what he had done.
"That would be because I sealed off that curse seal you have. I didn't want the snake sannin tracking us down, even though I am sure I could kill him, but that doesn't mean I want to risk it, so I sealed his special hicky. You still have to be careful though as the seal requires you have a strong will, so that the curse seal does not resurface" spoke Naruto as he informed Tayuya about her slight freedom from the snake sannin.
Naruto had been studying the seal ever since they had found her, and found out a lot about it. The seals main purpose was to spread a special chakra through the victim's body thus transforming them into strange monsters. He had found out that Orochimaru had sealed part of his concuss inside of the seal so that he could remotely control the person who had the seal as well as the seal itself. That was a problem for Naruto which is why he had sealed off the seal to begin with, even though the girl had still been in her coma. He was curious about the seal and how it made this strange chakra, but found that the seal had DNA inside of it which produced the chakra. Naruto theorized that it was because of this DNA that the seal was able to transform the body, not because it was a high-tech seal, so he had spent many hours trying to come up with some way to remove the DNA from her body, and he was getting close, but he was not quite there yet.
"Really? Are you serious? So now old snake face won't be able to find me" spoke the girl with joy in her voice. Naruto could tell that she was happy to be away from the snake sannin which was good in his opinion because now he would be able to convince her to come with them more easily.
"Yea, but it will still probably cause you some irritation so be ready for that, but for the most part yea you are one hundred percent free of Orochimaru's control. Let's introduce ourselves though first before we continue speaking. As I have already told you I am Naruto Uzumaki, and you are" asked Naruto leaving the question floating in the air for the girl to answer.
"I am Tayuya, ex ninja of Otogakure, and an ex member of the sound four, Orochimaru's personal body guards" spoke Tayuya with pride, disgust, and annoyance all at the same time. Naruto was still trying to figure out how she was able to sound like three conflicting emotions at the same time, but just stored it away for later use. What he did notice was that Tayuya didn't have a last name which intrigued him.
"Just Tayuya" asked Naruto as he looked at the girl with and analytical eye. It was obvious to anyone who saw his face that he was thinking deeply about something, but Tayuya didn't care and just spoke breaking him out of his mental ramblings.
"Yea what about it" asked Tayuya in an angry, yet defensive voice. She had been teased all of her life for not having a last name, and it left an emotional scar deep inside of her heart. She would usually viciously attack anyone who questioned her about her family, or kill whoever insulted her for not having one, but Naruto had saved her and she was in no condition to attack him anyways so she just let it go.
"Woaw now I wasn't trying to insult you, I was just thinking you look a lot like the women from my deceased clan is all" spoke Naruto with his hands up in a placating manner. He didn't want Tayuya mad at him, and he figured helping her find out who she may be related to might help both of them.
"Clan" asked Tayuya. She didn't know about any clan that she may be related to. She didn't have a bloodline because if she did Orochimaru would have turned her into a gene pig for his fucked up experiments, and she didn't have any markings that she knew about that would indicate she was from some specific clan like Kimimaro. He had the Dead-Bone-Pulse which was the bloodline of the Kaguya clan, and he had those red dots on his head which also signified he was a member of the Kaguya clan.
"Yea you have that fiery red hair that the Uzumaki clan was famous for just like mine, and you have the attitude that the women were also known to have. I had found out that nobody was a fierce as an angry Uzumaki woman. They were said to be downright demonic when they got angry" joked Naruto. He really wished his clan still existed, but some fantasies will never come true he guessed. He saw that Tayuya looked very interested all of a sudden; she probably was an orphan like him so she probably didn't know of their extinct clan. He only knew because he would frequently break into the old man's office and read/steal whatever he found that was useful to him.
"So you are a part of the Uzumaki clan" asked Tayuya as she looked Naruto up and down, and honestly she would be lying if she said she didn't like what she saw. He looked strong, he was nice so far, and he was very handsome.
"Yea, I thought I was the last, but I think you might be a decedent just like me. I am very happy to find someone from our long lost clan" spoke Naruto as he placed the tray on her stomach. She looked at him with confusion, but then blushed so bright that she started to glow red when he started to feed her. She was so embarrassed that she didn't even put up a fight. After Naruto was done feeding her he picked up the trey and left the room but not before telling her to take it easy so that her muscles could keep up with her.
(Down in the kitchen)
When Naruto came down the stairs he saw Gaara eating his lunch while he read a chakra control book. Fu was eating as well, but it was a kenjutsu book. Naruto was very surprised to find out that one of the abilities that Fu got from her bijuu was super strength. Her strength reminded Naruto of the tales the Hokage use to tell him about Tsunade Senju's super strength technique. He wondered now if Tsunade had gotten the idea after watching the previous jinchuriki of the seven tails fight, and then simply recreated the ability using her précises chakra control.
After he found out about Fū's super strength ability he gave her the 'Executioner's Blade' because he thought it would really suit her. He could just picture it now. He could see Fu running around using her super strength to wield the 'Executioner's Blade' like it was a paper weight, and then use it to cut down anyone who got in her way, and when he taught her the 'Flying Swallow Technique' it would be even easier for her to cut ten men in half like it was not even difficult. He would have to improve on her speed and reflexes, and then teach her some long range wind release jutsu for when she was flying around using her chakra cloak, whenever he got around to helping her do that.
"Hey Naruto so how is she" asked Gaara not even looking up from his book. He asked him that every day and Naruto figured it was more of a courtesy thing than him actually caring, but it was nice of him to actually go out of his way like that.
"Yea how is the little sleeping beauty" asked Fu as she looked up from her book and gave Naruto a pouty look. She had not been happy when Naruto had decided to take her with them, stating that she was 'human' and probably would just freak out and call them monsters when she woke up and found out what they held inside of them.
Naruto knew that Fu also didn't like that he spent so much time with Tayuya, and often got jealous when he went up to check on her. He would be lying if he said he was not attracted to Tayuya, but he had been equally attracted to Fu as well. He spent a lot of time with Fu every day teaching her how to use the 'Executioner's Blade' as well as how to use the 'Silent Killing Technique' so that they could fight together when he used the 'Hidden Mist Jutsu'.
He also taught Gaara how to fight in the mist, as well as the 'Silent Killing Technique', but Gaara preferred to use his sand to anything else, so Naruto didn't give him the 'Kiba Blades'. Naruto quickly learned that Gaara was a lot like himself in that he preferred to teach himself, and decide what skills he wanted to learn, so Naruto didn't have to help him much there unless Gaara came to him with questions, or asking him to help him test certain jutsu. Gaara was very smart, analytical, and could hold him emotions in check with ease, so Naruto knew he would be one of the leaders in their little group.
"Actually she has woken up. I told her to take it easy, and I also learned her name is Tayuya. She might actually be a part of the Uzumaki clan because she doesn't know her last name, so it is not impossible for her to be a descendent of the Uzumaki clan. She certainly has the strong life force that the Uzumaki clan was known for" spoke Naruto as his eyes glowed red for a second. He liked that his eyes could see and manipulate life force. It was very helpful, and it was a skill that only the people in the room knew about.
"That is good" spoke Gaara, as he took a sip of his coffee. He was happy for Naruto, as he knew what it was like to be alone, but he did have a brother and a sister, but they were never there for him, so now he considered Naruto and Fu his brother and sister.
"Perfect" spoke Fu with sarcasm in her voice. She didn't like Tayuya as she felt that maybe Naruto would want her more than her because she was a part of his extinct clan, and she was still worried about being a jinchuriki even though Naruto had told her that he didn't care about that.
"Come on Fu-chan don't get all mad and bent out of shape" spoke Naruto as he sat down at the table and started to pile food onto his plate. He was very hungry, and wanted to get something in his stomach so that he could get back to training.
Fu blushed instantly, and was about to start stuttering, but Gaara saved her from her embarrassing moment by cutting across the conversation with a question of his own.
"Naruto, when are we going to go to the Uchiha strong hold? We have been here for two months, and you know Konoha will start their search here first. If we stay here then we will be risking being see, or we could even run into a squad of leaf ninja. If we stay here then we are putting ourselves at risk" spoke Gaara as he put down his book signifying he was serious about what he was talking about. Naruto let out an audible breath of air and leaned back in his chair and closed his eyes. After a second he opened his eyes, and sat back up and looked over at Gaara.
"I haven't had us go to the Uchiha clan stronghold because I am worried about Itachi Uchiha" spoke Naruto as he rested his head on his fingers that he had interlocked, and looked at Gaara and then to a confused Fu.
"Itachi Uchiha? Who is that" asked Fu as she looked at Naruto and then looked at Gaara. Naruto looked to be in deep thought, but Gaara looked like he just realized a serious problem.
"What do you think the chances of us running into Itachi are if we go to the Uchiha stronghold" spoke Gaara as he looked at Naruto with a serious look in his eyes.
"I am not sure, but if I were him I would use them as places to live while I did various jobs to make money. Nobody knows where they are except the Uchiha and us, so it would be a great place to hide in-between missions. If he is there then we will undoubtedly have to fight an S ranked ninja because he will not want us reveal his hiding places. I figured we could spend some time here training and getting ready in case we do have to fight him" spoke Naruto as he looked over at Gaara.
"You do have a point. I bet that we could defeat him, but it would be very close, but we could just as well get killed. Training does sound good, but for how long? We can't stay here for too much longer, and when we do have to leave we will only have one place we can go, but that place could very well be the death of us" spoke Gaara as he mimicked Naruto and placed his head on his crossed fingers.
"We will just have to get as strong as possible while we are here. In two months we will head out for the Uchiha clan strong hold, and pray that Itachi isn't their" spoke Naruto as he finished eating his breakfast.
Gaara and Fu nodded their heads and went back to eating. For the next month Naruto helped Gaara and Fu train their hearts out, and when he was not doing that he was helping Tayuya get her strength back. It took a while, but eventually she was able to get back into fighting conditions. She had taken a liking to them, though she would never admit it, especially Naruto, and decided to stay, even though Fu was very vocal about her being able to leave whenever she wanted. It turned into Fu and Tayuya starting to compete with each other over Naruto, although he was blissfully unaware. After two months of training he would have to admit that they had really gotten a lot better, and he was confident that together they would be able to defeat Itachi without sustaining to much damage on their part. On the last day of their stay in Wave country, they heard a loud explosion coming from the lake.
"What was" shouted Tayuya, but that was as far as she got before a loud roar could be heard coming from the lake, and a powerful mist swept across the lake, and onto the land.
"What is going on" asked Fu as she started to look out of the window. Naruto heard Samehada starting to get excited, and knew that whatever it was it was not good for them.
"Let's go check it out" spoke Gaara as he walked outside, and saw that a thick fog had rolled in from the lake. It was dark out, so the fog was even harder to see through, but with their training they could hear what they were trying to
Large splashes could be heard coming from the lake, and then using his enhanced hearing thanks Naruto's 'Silent Killing Technique' training, he heard the sound of growling, and then the sound of something rushing through the air. It kept going until a final roar could be heard, and then the sound of something giant rushing towards them. Naruto could tell whatever it was it was not good, and quickly pulled Samehada off his back, and activated his dojutsu. What he saw made him nearly crap himself. A giant black ball was rushing at them with mass amounts of chakra inside of it. Naruto knew they would not be able to dodge whatever it was so he pulled back with Samehada and swung it with all of his strength. When Samehada collided with the giant chakra mass it was able to absorb it thankfully, but it still freaked Naruto out, and now Samehada was at least five times bigger than Naruto was.
"What was that" shouted Fu as she started trying to look through the fog. Naruto still had his dojutsu active, and was completely shocked at what he was seeing. In the center of the lake was the three tailed turtle. He was wondering what it was doing here, but he figured its jinchuriki must have died somehow.
"Damn! That is the reason we are about to leave" spoke Naruto as he started walking back towards the house. Gaara, Tayuya, and Fu were hot on his heels, but Gaara, Tayuya, and Fu both wanted to know what he saw.
"Naruto what is on the lake" asked Gaara as he entered the house behind Naruto. He was surprised to see the concerned look that Naruto had on his face, about the thing that almost killed them, so decided to hold off on his interrogating of Naruto.
"That was the three tailed demon turtle. I don't know how it got on the lake, and I don't think it really matters now anyways. Ever major village will find out about it within the next couple of days and will undoubtedly send out ninja to investigate it. We can't be here, so hurry up, pack up, and let's get out of here" spoke Naruto as he made a few clones to get to work. They quickly got to work sealing up all of their scrolls, valuables, and essentials.
"What's going on" demanded Tayuya as she looked over at Naruto with confusion and anger in her eyes.
"A bijuu, like the one we have sealed inside of us, has just appeared out on the lake. If we don't get out of here soon the other villages will find out about it and send their ninja to come investigate. We have to leave before that happens or else Konoha or Suna might find out about where we are" spoke Naruto as he looked at Tayuya, but was surprised to see her deep in thought.
Tayuya would never admit it, but she did feel slightly put out by Naruto and his two friends, because she was not a jinchuriki. She knew Naruto didn't care either way, but Gaara was basically impartial to her mainly because he didn't want to get Naruto mad at him. The real problem was the green haired girl, Fu. She could tell that Fu didn't like her being anywhere near Naruto, and also didn't like her because she wasn't a jinchuriki like the rest of them. She could tell that Fu has had a difficult past much like the rest of them, but her problems were basically cause by 'humans' calling her a 'demon' which has left her with a deep dislike for all humanity. She had been wondering what it would be like to become a jinchuriki, and now she had the chance to be just like Naruto. She wanted to be around Naruto more and more as time went on, and was finding less and less excuses to do so, but if she was able to get the three tails sealed inside of her, she was sure that Naruto would take her with him no matter where he went.
"Can you seal it" asked Tayuya as she looked Naruto directly in the eyes. Naruto was very surprised she had asked him that, but then he started to think about it. Sealing was the most difficult ninja art, and to seal a bijuu was damn near impossible for anyone who was not a highly skilled seal master.
"I could, but what should I seal it into" asked Naruto as he looked deeply into Tayuya's beautiful brown eyes. He saw a need to be wanted, to be loved, and want to be accepted by someone who actually cared about her. Naruto know knew why she was asking him this, and he realized she wanted to be like them because she thought that they wouldn't accept her if she wasn't a jinchuriki.
"Tayuya you know that we would accept you even if you didn't have a bijuu stuck inside of you" spoke Naruto, but Tayuya cut him off before he could continue.
"I know that you would accept me, but I want to help you. I want to know your pain, and I want to help you, Gaara, and even Fu with your plans for the future, but you have to help me get my revenge against Oto, and that traitorous snake sannin" spoke Tayuya as she smiled at Naruto for the first time. Gaara smiled slightly, but Fu looked ready to kill Tayuya.
"Alright let's get this done" spoke Naruto as he pushed Tayuya onto the couch. She looked ready to yell at him, but a clone started to draw seals on her, and told her that if he messed up even slightly the sealing would kill her, so she went as still as a plank very quickly. Gaara quickly cleared the room using his sand, and Fu basically leveled the house until there was nothing left but the wood flooring, and the pile of rubble around the house. The real Naruto looked over towards were the three tails was and sighed. It was going to be very difficult to defeat a bijuu, but he was on water and he had Samehada so he shouldn't have been too difficult.
"I am going to weaken the three tails. Gaara, you and Fu protect Tayuya in case the three tails tries to attack her while I am gone. Tayuya, do not move a single muscle. If you do then the three tails will rip right out of you, and even if you are an Uzumaki then I doubt you will be able to survive something like that" spoke Naruto as he jumped on the water and started running towards the three tails.
"I am so going to die" spoke Tayuya as she looked up at the sky. She was shocked when the clone flipped her onto her stomach and started drawing seals around her curse seal and connecting them to the ones that it had already drawn onto her. "Hey what are you doing" shouted Tayuya as she glared at the clone.
"The boss wants to seal the three tails into your curse seal" spoke the clone as it continued to draw seals on Tayuya's neck.
"What" shouted Tayuya. She was very shocked that Naruto wanted to do something like that.
"He thinks that it will get rid of Orochimaru's influence, and it will also let you get even more benefits from the three tails when it get sealed into you" spoke the clone as it started to set up candles around her and continued to draw seals all around her on the ground. He was setting up the ritual for the boss, but even he was wondering what the boss was thinking trying to seal the three tails into the curse mark. If it messed up Tayuya would die for sure.
Naruto had been running at full speed towards the three tails with Samehada in hand, and his dojutsu active as to counter the three tails mist. When he got there the three tails was destroying everything that it came in contact with, but it stopped when it saw Naruto. Its eyes were full of rage, but there was no inelegance in them, just an angry wild animal. It quickly sent its tails at him, which Naruto was able to avoid easily by jumping to the side. When he did this he started going through hand signs.
"Water Style: Water Shark Jutsu" shouted Naruto as a giant shark made of water formed in midair and charged the three tails. Naruto was not surprised when it hit the three tails, and didn't do any damage. He had known that the three tails was going to be a tough bastard.
The three tails didn't take to nicely to being attacked and started to form another one of those black sphere things that he had been able to absorb with Samehada earlier, but this time Naruto was ready for him, and wasn't about to let the bijuu finish charging his attack, so he started going through hand signs.
"Water Release: Great Water Flow Jutsu" shouted Naruto before slamming his hands on the surface of the water. When he did this a giant whirlpool formed beneath the three tails sucking it underneath the lakes surface. This caused the bijuu to lose control of its technique, but it was already underwater when this happened, so a giant explosion underneath the water could be seen. Naruto could see using his dojutsu that the three tails was hurt by its own attack so he decided to continue his assault.
"Water Style: Five Feeding Sharks Jutsu" shouted Naruto before slamming one of his hands onto the surface of the water again, but this time five sharks appeared out of his fingers, and swam down to where the three tails was and began to attack it. The three tails tried to destroy the sharks, but every time it destroyed one it would reform. It didn't know that the sharks were connected to Naruto's chakra, and so long as Naruto fed the shark's chakra they would continue to reform. Eventually the three tails got so angry that it returned to the surface of the water and began to attack Naruto again.
"Ohh, no you don't" spoke Naruto as he jumped up into the air and then smashed Samehada into the three tails forehead. The force of the attack was so powerful that it actually created a shockwave that could be felt even where Gaara and crew were.
"Damn Naruto-kun is not playing around is he" spoke Fu in an excited voice. She was so happy Naruto was so strong and not dying trying to fight a freaking bijuu. Tayuya was not happy about Fu calling Naruto 'Naruto-kun' but let it slide since she was not supposed to move a muscle unless she wanted to die that is. Gaara didn't say anything, but he was defiantly thinking something.
'I think your wrong Fu. He isn't struggling while fighting the three tails, and he hasn't even used any massive techniques. He has used one jutsu to get the three tails underwater, and then another to continuously attack him. It would be chakra consuming if he did it for too long, but he has only been fighting the three tails for about twenty minutes, but it is already looking tired, though that could also be contributed to the fact that he used Samehada to remove much of its chakra' thought Gaara as he analyzed the fight between Naruto and the three tails.
'He is not that powerful. If you let me out I could easily kill him' spoke the pain in the ass in Gaara's head. He was so happy when Naruto was able to fix his seal, and finally get some sleep without the one tail giving him any nightmares.
'Silence you. Naruto is my friend, and I will not have you disrespecting him, or I will make sure that the kage he locked you up in will get much smaller very quickly' spoke Gaara as he spoke to the one tails in his mind. He heard some grumbling, but otherwise the one tails was silent.
Naruto had been able to beat the crap out of the three tails, but he had to admit he was very strong, and with his shell it was almost impossible to harm him. He was glad for all of the training that he had or this fight would not have turned out anywhere near as good as it had for him. That was when one of his shadow clones dispelled informing him that the sealing ritual was complete. Naruto quickly started going through hand signs and then slammed his hand onto the three tails stomach, as it was lying like that from the mega beating Naruto had put on it. Instantly the three tails was sucked strait up into the air, and rushed over to where Tayuya and the gang were.
When everyone saw the three tails basically get turned into a long strand of spaghetti they were shocked, but they were even more shocked when they saw it basically being sucked into the cursed seal on Tayuya's neck. The seal started flashing a deep purple color, and then a blue green color. Eventually a cloud of purple smoke shot out of Tayuya's curse seal and a high pitched scream could be heard, but after that the seal turned black, and they knew it had been a success. Tayuya through all of this was in excruciating pain, but was unable to even scream. Eventually she passed out as she felt a strange new chakra meld with her own relieving her of her pain.
Naruto quickly got back to the destroyed house and started to check on Tayuya. When he saw that Tayuya was fine he looked over at Gaara and Fu.
"Quickly grab the scrolls, and seal them into the three master scrolls as quickly as you can. I will carry Tayuya on my back, but we need to leave as soon as possible" spoke Naruto as he picked up Tayuya and placed her on his back piggy back style. Gaara and Fu who was unhappy, quickly did as Naruto said, and sealed up the scrolls. After that they quickly ran off towards the Uchiha clan stronghold. What they didn't see was a light green man watching them with unblinking eyes, right before he merged with the trees.