Genma followed Raidou’s gaze to the still, shrouded bundles in front of the shrine. A shockingly small hand peeked out from under one edge of the gaily embroidered blanket, pale and blood-stained.
“Find Ram,” Raidou said, voice low and full of steel. “Follow that trail, massacre anything with teeth, and see if there's anything left to bring home. Sound good?”
“We should leave a clone or two here to safeguard the village, in case whatever it is has friends,” Genma said. “It’s clearly escalating its attacks.”
Raidou nodded. “One for each of us,” he said. As he lifted his hands into the Ram seal, he turned to Katsuko. “Rat, ten?”
Her chakra flared even brighter for an instant as she cast the jutsu, and then there were ten identical Rat-masked ANBU in a cluster behind her, eerily silent and intent. At a flick of her hand, they headed for the door, each pausing briefly to glance at the sad offering by the shrine.
Genma, Kakashi, and Raidou each called up a single clone of their own. “We should station them at even intervals along the wall,” Genma said. “Since the invaders don’t seem to bother with the gates.”
Kakashi’s clone vanished out the door without a word, blurring past Katsuko’s clones. Raidou’s clone in hot pursuit muttered a muffled, “Use your words.” Katsuko’s clones followed, ranging out across the village to take up the perimeter positions Genma’d suggested.
Even with just the four of them and Genma’s clone remaining in the house, the atmosphere was oppressive. Genma looked around, taking in gouges in the flooring, overturned furniture, tears in paper screens. “Does that look like a fresh scorch mark to you?” he asked, pointing to a darkened section along the edge of one pale wooden chest.
“Looks like,” Katsuko said. “Hound should go smell it to make sure.”
Kakashi stopped mid-step—evidently already on his way to investigate the mark—turning his masked face directly towards her. Genma could guess at the death glare he was leveling at her from behind the dark eyeholes.
She’d sounded dead serious. Was this her macabre way of lightening the tension?
“It was a Katon jutsu,” Ryouma said, appearing in the door frame. “Fujimaya Yuna was a Konoha genin. Retired after the war.” As he stepped across the threshold and surveyed the grisly scene, a slow tension crept over his shoulders. “I left a clone with the Morita family.”
“Good. We’ve set twelve clones along the walls,” Genma said. “What about the husband, was he a retired ninja, too?”
Ryouma shook his head. “Farmer. I'm guessing they met during the war.” He crouched down next to the bodies, and Katsuko took a step towards him, hand up as if to halt him. He’d already turned the flap of the blanket back before she could speak. After a moment, he folded the blanket down again, taking care to cover the small hand that Genma had seen earlier. “Her body's at the Buddhist temple,” he said, tight voiced. “The funeral is tomorrow.”
“Take the daughters there, too,” Genma told his clone. It went to gather the bodies, carefully cradling them so that the blanket revealed nothing of what it contained.
Katsuko’s head turned sharply towards him, but Raidou intervened. “The sooner we get on the trail, the better chance we have of recovering Fujiyama-san.”
“Captain’s right,” Genma said. “We’ve got a good trail to follow right now, as long as it doesn’t rain.” He glanced at the rookies, who were as tense and focused as Katsuko. Eager to deal justice to whatever had slain this family. “Hatake and I will take point and track, if that’s alright with you, captain. We may be able to pick up a chakra signature, if there is one.”