My Skin Crawls
My laughter echoed throughout the burnt out little town like a toxic miasma as Kakuzu glared daggers at Minato, only sparing me a contemplative glance as his threads danced in the air like inquisitive worms. Minato sneered at the new intrusion, the contempt on his face seeming oddly out of place for such a normally upbeat man.
"The only way trash like you could have survived a fight with a Hokage before is if they left you alive out of fucking pity." My eyes widened slightly behind my glasses, now those were fucking fighting words.
The increase in agitated writhing threads in the air around Kakuzu showed his evident agreement. His skin was writhing with the strings that were his internals as he growled, "Your precious Shodaime was barely alive by the end of our fight, child; only the interference of Madara Uchiha kept him from death. You will not be so lucky."
My laughter only grew louder, I wasn't sure whether Kakuzu was simply lying or he was actually that Jashin damned strong here, but either way I want him.
Somewhat surprisingly, Minato reignited the conflict; flinging a dozen kunai into the air and one directly at both me and Kakuzu. Kakuzu displayed why exactly he had managed to live as long as he has when a veritable storm of threads shot forth, snatching every kunai that went even vaguely in his direction before said threads glowed orange and reduced said kunai to molten slag.
My interlocking teeth clicked as I sent a chibaku tensei into the distance behind me, the gravity well ripping Minato's Kunai towards it alongside a decent chunk of the village. Kakuzu planted himself on the ground with a couple dozen of his threads and a very surprised Minato appeared halfway to the black sun, having made the rather poor decision to once again target me.
Of course, Minato didn't stay shocked or in peril for long, teleporting to one of the few kunai that had actually landed on the ground. He immediately had to dodge and leap backwards as a dozen threads glowing in different colours whipped through the space his body occupied, a nearly invisible one slashing straight through the tag on his kunai.
He had to keep cartwheeling back as my three left arms shifted into a heavy bolter, a disintegrator cannon, and a needler, my magic eyes making it easy to put shots where he was going to be rather than where he was. Even still, Minato was a quick little bastard and I was still adjusting to these eyes; more often than not he moved quick enough to dodge the various forms of ammunition after they were fired and while I can always just put more dakka in the air, it doesn't amount to much if the slippery bastard can dodge the dakka mid flight. I can see the future, but that future isn't set in stone: Minato is fast enough to react in real time to me reacting to his future actions, making any predictions almost useless.
Still, the hail of murder tore up many of the kunai he was constantly flinging in every direction as I guided him straight into Kakuzu's loving tentacles. A thin blue thread laid open the back of his leg, drawing far more blood than should have been possible from such a shallow wound. I could see the fear on the blonde bastard's face shift to a smirk just before a bolt round slammed into his stomach and blew his guts out onto the rocky ground, only for the whole body to fade into razor winds that sliced through some of the threads attempting to shred him.
I kept my smile in place as I looked around, my left eye rolling about in its socket and looking through my head to search behind me. Hands knitting themselves together in the threads around Kakuzu drew my gaze. Multiple disembodied hands began weaving through different hand seals as I locked eyes with Kakuzu (or, at least one eye, the other was still doing a Mad Eye Moody impression as I tried to figure out where that blond bitch had gone). His eyes were focused and cold as his own arms held a single hand seal.
The tall man said nothing to announce what jutsu(s) he was using, but I could feel a wall of noise pass over me; some form of echolocation perhaps? Evidently so given his head suddenly snapped to his right and the false hands in the air on that side of him shot a variety of elemental techniques that swirled together and bolstered each other. The horizontal tornado of every conventional element and what appeared to be at least two subelements tore through the village and pulled the oddly frozen ashes it created into itself to grow in size. As the technique rampaged past it left a trench dozens of feet deep, over a hundred feet wide, and likely miles long.
Or, it would have, if it didn't suddenly stop and reappear behind Kakuzu. Now, I wasn't about to let this blonde cunt pull that shit on ma boy Kakz. I teleported next to him (ignoring his seemingly instinctive response of slicing me apart with the near invisible threads permeating the air around him) and grabbed his shoulder, taking the opportunity to subtly brand him as I teleported both of us out of the way of what was increasingly looking like a multicoloured storm of liquid destruction.
Kakuzu shrugged off my grip with a grunt, sending a mild glare my way as I grinned back at him. "You're welcome~!" I singsonged at him, only increasing his annoyance.
"Focus on the fight, cultist." He growled at me, his voice like a distant rockslide.
I laughed as I spotted Minato appear from a broken kunai to my left and leapt forward, scythe swinging down. "Ahahahaha; it's a cult you should join, my friend!" I saw the flames reflected in Minato's eyes as he raised his kunai to block my blades and I felt the air pressure rising around me.
I teleported behind the Hokage just before we locked blades, my wicked weapon biting deep into his shoulder and drawing a pained cry from his lips just before he flashed away. My skin blackened just before flames filled the oxygen rich area and went off like a bomb.
I could feel the flames lick at my flesh like the tongues of a hundred house cats; rather than delightful agony as my meat cooked and Minato alongside me, it was just mildly uncomfortable. I suppose the fact that my coat is made of supernatural flames should have clued me in that fire wouldn't be much of a problem for me.
Still, I continued to laugh, "Jashinism comes with a number of benefits; immortality amongst them." If Minato hadn't already figured that one out, he would have eventually. Frankly, he was the type of enemy I was most worried about: a seal master. Physical wounds may mean nothing, but I saw what those bastards did to those poor zombies! I don't want to risk a similar fate.
"I cannot be sealed; should any attempt to lock away your soul, the seals would fall before me eventually, no matter how well made they were or how often they maintain them. I am everywhere and could assault them from within and without until they simply ceased to be; though it could take some time depending on how powerful the seal is and how close we are."
Well, that's a weight off my shoulders, though I would still prefer not to need rescuing; spending any amount of time sealed is more time than I want to spend.
An agonized scream had my head snapping around to watch a seemingly unharmed Minato writhing on the ground, screaming and desperately smacking himself all over. Based on the particular cadence of that screen and the way he was rolling about I'd have to say that while the flame didn't touch me and didn't harm him, he still felt as if he was being burned alive. Phantom pains to my victims when an attack that would hurt them but not me hit me? Useful.
I let my skin fade back to my normal snowy white before the flames fully gave out as I walked over to the writhing warlord. Grinning, I raised my blade into the air as I grew closer, "Well well, seems this one was full of shit; "flee on sight" my ass. I'll make sure to give my regards to your wife when I'm fucking her." I was trying to give him a reasonable time to flee, I still intended to let my brand do its work. Still, I brought my blade down, piercing his chest in a gout of blood; I liked Kakuzu a lot more than I liked Minato.
Him once again popping into winds that flayed at my skin was no surprise; my eyes are not so easily fooled and I knew the instant he swapped out for a clone. As my face knit itself back together, I turned my gaze once more to the edge of the crater I had created, where crumbled buildings burned. Minato appeared exactly where my eyes told me he would, visibly shaking from the not inconsiderable pain of being burned alive.
The young Hokage raised his blade and began to speak, but I was far more interested in what I saw going on beneath the earth inches below him. The penetrating power of my eyes was nothing on the Byakugan, but I could see deep enough to notice Kakuzu's threads burrowing through and surrounding Minato. I continued to laugh, only barely paying attention to Minato's diatribe.
"-uo will know what it means to make enemies of a Great Vil-" He was cut off by the massive explosive seal Kakuzu had formed from his threads below him going off in a Pillar of flame and force. The now familiar sound of Minato's screams once more joined my purposefully omnipresent malicious laughter in filling the ruined town as the military dictator flew into the air, trailing blood from the place his legs once jutted from. The explosion had reduced much of his lower body to paste and a good bit of the rest to chunks.
Well, there goes my plans for a full family foursome; c'est la vie I suppose. I could try fucking the bleeding wreck where his crotch used to be, he's fairly feminine as is and if I burn his upper body enough I might be able to convince myself this was a woman once; but I frankly have much better prospects elsewhere. Not to mention, burns aren't the most attractive things and I don't think I could convince myself mangled pectorals are breasts, not soft enough or shaped right.
I could hear Jashin laughing within my head as I pondered the finer points of wound fucking while Minato dragged himself across the ground, evidently too distracted by the pain to remember that he could still teleport.
Kakuzu, for the first time since the battle began, moved from his spot; leisurely walking towards the fallen king amongst ninja. He snorted disdainfully, "Hmph, you are pathetic compared to Hashirama." He reached down when he stood over Minato, pulling him up by the back of his collar, "Though, being able to use a chakra hardening technique quick enough to save most of your body is almost impressive considering the general degradation of ninja since the end of the Clan Wars."
I merely watched from a short distance (one I could cross in an instant even without teleportation) as Minato spat blood on the bounty hunter's face mask in one last (and rather unoriginal) act of defiance. Kakuzu made his displeasure known in a very immediate manner; shoving his arm through the pretty boy's chest and tearing his heart out in one swift (and likely practiced) movement.
Threads shot out of the breakpoint on my fellow immortal's arm, shooting into Minato's heart and thoroughly wrapping around it before they separated themselves from Kakuzu and he pulled his arm back out, leaving the heart inside the once legendary figure and dropping the carcass to the ground.
I raised an eyebrow, letting my laughter fade. "I thought you wanted his bounty?"
Kakuzu simply grunted as Minato's body started twitching and his skin writhed independently of his body, "I do, I just don't feel like carrying him all that way."
I raised an eyebrow, watching thick threads shoot from the corpse, stitching together wounds and even forming legs entirely from themselves. "You do know that storage seals exi-" His hair wasn't right.
That was the first thing that struck me wrong, standing out starkly to my eyes was the difference in the body's hair: just a few shades too dark and not quite the right texture, the inconsistent colouring and microscopic spots of brown telling me it was dyed. Then I noticed his eyes, and more importantly, the fact that he was wearing contacts; the Rinnegan easily peered through the ocean blue to the green beneath. As soon as I noticed something was off dozens of smaller incongruities jumped out at me and I came to an irritating (and possibly relieving) conclusion; the body is fake. Somehow, that blond bastard had swapped himself out with a body double and likely fled.
"Motherfucker! He got away!" An instant after I said that I moved my scythe, positioning it behind Kakuzu's back just in time to block a kunai surrounded by a whirling vacuum that pulled it forward at unnaturally bullet-like speeds. The projectile I blocked bounced against the unnaturally sturdy material of my blade with a sharp ting while an equally fast kunai blew my head up like a watermelon before the uncompromising gaze of an anti-material rifle, seemingly utterly unbothered by my scientifically enhanced flesh and bone.
I looked through myself as my gurgling, slightly ethereally echoing chuckles slowly faded into a more solid maniacal laughter. Minato was standing behind me, only light burns beneath his scorched pants evidence of his narrow escape from mutilation and death and the signature makeup like marks of Sage mode on his face. I grinned as I twisted my head unnaturally around, "My my, I can't say I expected an upright faggot like Minato Namekazi to sacrifice an obviously preprepared subordinate body double just to try and get a shot off. Naughty boy~!"
Kakuzu pushed my scythe aside as he turned to face Minato. I grinned up at the Hokage, subtly causing a wind to stir up the ashes pooling in the lumpy crater that formed most of our little battlefield, making them swirl around me until only my glowing eyes were visible. I vanished as the ashes covered my eyes, reappearing several feet in the air above Minato.
I grinned as the wind whipped around me, scythe raised above my head as I plummeted towards my target. While I'm sure Kakuzu saw me, he didn't acknowledge me as he darted forward. For a man with no actual muscles, he's shockingly quick, closing the twenty foot gap between him and Minato in milliseconds.
I didn't roar, didn't make so much as a sound as I dropped down. Even so, Minato either detected me or simply guessed where I would go; given Sage mode and his skill, either was likely. He used Kakuzu blocking a kick as a platform to throw himself into the air, sage infused rasengan in hand. I twisted around, my unnaturally sinuous body easily contorting in mid air around the attack. Curved as I was, I maneuvered my scythe behind Minato and uncurled to slice into him just as Kakuzu's extended arm grabbed his hair and wrenched him back.
Of course, that was right when the rasengan in his hand exploded in size, slamming into me and throwing me away in three pieces and a misty shower of swirling blood that filled the air. I abandoned my mostly liquid body in midair, allowing it to dissolve into blood and smoke as I possessed a more intact corpse impaled on a wooden beam amongst the nearby rubble; the once pretty woman's body rapidly melting into my far superior form as I ripped the beam out of me and stood up, one handedly tossing the majority of a scrapped house off of me and discarding the burnt lump of former baby she had clutched to her chest with the other.
My powerful eyes rapidly scanned the area, seeking out that fucking blonde prick; it didn't take me long to find him. Minato was standing atop the burning wreckage of a house roughly a thousand feet from our former arena. Apparently his plan hadn't gone perfectly given the massive bleeding wound on his side where my scythe had been primed to bisect him.
Kakuzu, was similarly standing atop a building, however he seemed to have a much more interesting plan than simple glaring intimidation/time buying or whatever Minato was doing; his threads were rapidly weaving themselves throughout the ruins, grabbing rubble and pulling it together like some kind of pulley system mechsuit around him. As his scrap-mecha formed most of a torso around him and began to rise under its own creation, Kakuzu threw a fist made of most of a house at the scowling blonde Kage.
Minato, strangely, didn't even bother dodging, simply raising his massive Rasengan before him and reducing the rubble to dust before it could touch him. His other hand slammed forward in a palm thrust, sending a wordless Great Breakthrough rushing into Kakuzu and shattering the remains of his outstretched arm.
A bolt of lightning shot forth from hands formed of Kakuzu's threads, setting the dust aflame in its path to slam into Minato's chest. The bolt came from slightly to the right of the patchwork man's actual position, just missing the massive rasengan held out before the blonde kage like a shield. Minato didn't scream this time as he burst into flames and flew back, not even when I slammed my scythe through his stomach (nearly cutting him in half and definitely severing his spine) from where I teleported into his path.
I was fully ready for it to be yet another fake, for him to burst into smoke or wind or what have you. I wasn't expecting him to fire a weak Great Breakthrough straight at himself, blasting flames and his molten skin into my face as he pulled himself off my blade with his other hand.
I grimaced, pulling sizzling man meat from my beautiful face and wildly bringing my scythe down where my eyes predicted Minato would land. As I cleared my vision enough to see clearly (apparently chakra infused flesh is harder to see through when it isn't my own) I saw Minato had managed to fling himself out of the way of my blade through the strength of his arms alone.
Honestly, I'm impressed. Not a lot of people have the wherewithal to keep on struggling when so horribly wounded. Still, it's about time I wrap this up; if he's not going to flee I'll just have to kill him, I can live without my incestuous fourway for now. I jumped one footed over to him, raising my scythe above my head as I went and slamming it down on his chest.
Of course, the assgoblin surprised me once again by moving far faster than expected to reach up, grab the dirt above his head, and bodily fling himself away from me. I fired a Black Receiver where my eyes told me it could hit him at the speed they both flew, but he easily parried it with a kunai as he flipped through the air. Of course, I had made the sharp rod of unearthly metal deliberately unstable, causing the shoddy stick to detonate like a shrapnel bomb on contact.
Minato, for all his shocking agility, didn't manage to dodge all of the shards (though he did contort around a good number). The black metal blasted into him, tearing chunks of his flesh free as it knocked him off whatever course he was attempting to take and sending him rolling across the burnt ground. He didn't get to lay still for a solitary second before Kakuzu's hand wrapped around his throat and began rapidly dragging him about in a winding pattern, the rough ground sanding away his already ragged flesh and leaving a chunky trail of blood behind him.
I grinned widely as Kakuzu whipped the little shit high into the air before slamming him down onto the rubble he had arranged into a burning pike below him. I couldn't help but laugh as the spike pierced straight through his chest, leaving the blonde impaled halfway down the pillar of ragged wood, blood sizzling as it dripped down into the flames that just barely licked at his flesh.
I threw my head back, nearly doubling over backwards as I roared with laughter. "Ahahahahahahahahaa! Oh, I do love a good impaling!" I jerked forward, sending myself into a front flip that looked almost like I somehow bodily threw myself through the air to land next to Kakuzu on the partially intact roof he stood on, sending him a salacious wink as I stuck the landing. "Really hits the spot, ya know?"
He grunted, ignoring my double entendre as if he hadn't heard it as he jumped to the ground, walking unhurriedly to the very dead seeming Minato as the blonde's hair caught fire. I made a show of pouting, as I allowed myself to fall over backwards, disappearing just before I hit the ground.
In the minuscule fraction of a second between me deciding to teleport and me reaching my destination, Minato moved, his ragged arms blurring through hand seals almost faster than even my eyes could have seen. I reappeared fused halfway through a stone wall, my unnaturally wide smile shifting to a grimace of pain and annoyance, only the slightest twinge of fear spiking through me as the flames throughout the ruins suddenly spiked up, incinerating everything around us in a massive pillar of flames. Those flames wouldn't affect me, but they did effectively pin in Kakuzu (unless he swam through the ground) and reduced every habitable corpse to ash in an instant; there were no bodies nearby to flee to as I stepped out of mine.
I must admit, seeing Minato, half his face burned off and the other riddled with shards of black metal, stare straight at my spiritual form with suddenly near glowing, pale blue eyes with no expression as he wove hand seals was more than a touch intimidating; the fact that he was on fire and impaled did nothing to mitigate that. Kakuzu hadn't hesitated, immediately sending a hand and dozens of glowing tendrils darting forward the moment he saw what was happening; I could tell he wouldn't be quick enough.
An unearthly chill wind blew through clearing, seeming to ignore the hurricane of flames around us as the light dimmed. It reminded me, decidedly uncomfortably, of when Jashin threw her spiritual weight onto the world. In fact, I could hear her growling in the back of my mind; which was, to say the very least, not encouraging. Minato, hands covered in his own life blood, opened his mouth to speak, his eyes devoid of life and hope but glowing with a resigned malice. Kakuzu's hand was inches from Minato's throat, tendrils already slicing into his flesh as he spoke those words to damn us all.
"Divine Summoning Jutsu: Shinigami-sama." His voice was empty and cold as he intoned those terrifying words.
The world went cold, as if the flames around us weren't even there. I watched impotently from my place in the spirit world, desperately willing myself to form flesh faster as a large spirit, terrifyingly solid to my eyes, formed behind Minato. The purple skinned god removed its tanto from its jaw with a soundless roar that shook my soul and chilled Kakuzu's flesh, raising the blade into the air. To the bounty hunter's credit, he didn't so much as flinch, merely narrowing his eyes and resigning himself to an unwinnable fight, though I did notice him sending one of his hearts down his leg and into the ground. Presumably sending it to flee the area in hopes that he might escape even if he needed to sacrifice his body; a precaution I greatly approved of, if one that was unlikely to do much in the face of a literal god of death.
This was not the seal Minato would have used to seal the Kyuubi into his infant son in a future that would never be, this was a Jutsu designed only to drag the Shinigami into reality and drive it berserk. A deliberately half finished technique that could only be used by a mad man that cared nothing for himself or the world, requiring the willing sacrifice of one's body and soul to let a malicious god free to slaughter all it saw for who knows how long. The god stabbed its blade into Minato's head, funneling it's being through him and coming out the other side far more solid and real as Minato's body seemed to fade, becoming almost transparent and dull coloured.
With a feral smirk the death god swiped at me, moving faster than something so ungainly should have been able to. Working purely on instinct, I moved my scythe (that I honestly didn't realise I was still holding beforehand) to block. To my great shock, my trusty blade actually locked with the god's, halting what would have been a killing blow on anyone else. Of course, the unbound death god was not so easily halted, using our locked blades as a fulcrum to flip itself over my guard and reaching out to sink its black claws into my face.
I teleported just before those black claws so cold I could feel their chill from a distance could sink into me, appearing on the opposite side of the little clearing from Kakuzu; predicting correctly that the Shinigami would prioritize me and immediately pursue me. I wasn't surprised when the deity was on me in an instant, blade already swiping to take my head. As I dodged and deflected a flurry of wild swipes, my eyes fell upon the corpse Minato had replaced himself with stumbling about on legs of thread.
My grin returned in full force as I teleported to the thread zombie; if I can get myself a body, I can grab Kakuzu, teleport the both of us out of here, and make this whole thing someone else's problem! My plan was almost thwarted when the living chakra in the threads rejected me, but a quick stab to the heart put an end to that and allowed me to slip into the unoccupied body just as the Shinigami closed on me. My grin tore through my new cheeks as I blew the divine asshole back with a Shinra Tensei to the face.
Unfortunately, said blast sent them hurtling straight towards Kakuzu. Time slowed as I watched, a savage grin spreading across the Shinigami's face as it turned its black blade toward my future haremette. A growl escaped my lips as I leapt through time and space to grab Kakuzu, throwing him aside and trapping the death god's blade between those of my scythe, a twist sending it flying to turn the ashes it landed on a dull grey.
I idly noticed Kakuzu hit the ground in a roll and instantly right himself, keeping his eyes locked on the invisible force that threw him back as the necklace in the Shinigami's off hand whipped forward, wrapping around the haft of my blade and wrenching me off my feet. I grimaced as the death god's clawed hand once more shot towards my face, trying and failing to teleport out of the entity's grasp before those claws could sink in, the god's necklace apparently preventing teleportation somehow. I cursed myself internally for not grabbing Kakuzu and teleporting out of here as cold claws bit into my face.
And then Jashin roared, the sound rippling space and time around me as day was once more turned to a starless night. A look of unbridled terror spread across the Shinigami's face for an instant before it was thrown across the clearing, its prayer beads catching alight with red flames and burning to nothing in an instant. The purple humanoid dug its clawed fingers into the ground to slow itself down, turning the already burnt soil a lifeless grey as it slid to a stop.
I have no idea what this battle looked like from Kakuzu's perspective, but he rapidly jumped backwards away from the grey trail. His strange eyes were locked on the point the Shinigami stood, though he didn't seem to quite know exactly where the figure was; I could only imagine he had experience fighting invisible or camouflaged opponents based on the way he reacted.
Of course, the death god's reaction was far more interesting, stumbling backwards with an ashen face. His eyes rapidly flickered across me before he suddenly sank to his knees, bowing low before me. Or, more likely, bowing to Jashin.
I could feel her bearing down on the world, the weight of her presence causing Kakuzu's knees to buckle slightly before he managed to force himself to stand up straight; the fact that he didn't so much as shake under the pressure beyond the initial reaction only raised my already high opinion of the man.
Of course, I was just as confused as the Heart Taker undoubtedly was. Of all the reactions I expected a death god to have upon realizing I'm a Champion, fear wasn't one of them.
A cold, rasping voice so deep I almost couldn't hear it despite its volume echoed around the clearing, "I had no idea You had taken a champion. If I had known, I never would have accepted a contract against the First." The Shinigami summoned its blade to its hand and brought it to its gut, "Allow me to compensate you for this error." Without so much as a hint of hesitation the creature plunged its black blade into its stomach, opening up its gut in one quick move. The wound opened up to a black void rather than any sort of organ, screaming souls flying out before the darkness permeating everything around us seizes them and drags them into me.
I am officially confused. I knew Jashin was a powerful god, but so powerful a god of death committed seppuku on the spot for fear of offending her? And that title, First? I could hear the capital letter there. Hmm...
Jashin's voice rumbles out from all around me, shaking the earth as far as the eye can see and seeming to physically batter the death god until he slams face first into the ground. "Do you think a mere thirty two souls can assuage my anger? Do you really think that such a meager offering can pay off this insult?" Her voice is almost calm for all its earth shaking power, an undertone of such powerful rage that it conjured images of a billion billion worlds burning like fading stars in a universe scourged clean of life, of stars snuffed out like mere candles before an all encompassing darkness, of trillions of souls flayed and screaming, doomed to eternity in suffering.
The prostrate death god flinched, "I had hoped the quality of the souls would make up for the lack of quantity; they are the souls of great kings and warlo-"
Jashin cut him off, "You think I care for kings and warriors? You think such paltry achievements matter to me? Such insolence..." The skin on my right arm blackened in an instant as it moved on its own, whipping my scythe out to snake around the kneeling deity, the cord glowing with darkness as it slithered around the god and the blades seeming to damage reality itself as they settled against the incarnation of death's throat. "...must be punished."
With a pull of my arm that sent black goo flying my scythe tightened on the Shinigami, the blade sliding through its neck as if it weren't even there and even the cord easily tore into their body, slicing them apart in an instant before the blade flew back into my dripping hand. I could feel Jashin using my blade as a conduit to devour the apparently lesser god, the sensation almost like sucking some thrashing insect up through a straw.
I blinked at the dissolving body of a god, struggling to understand what exactly just happened here before the dull thunk of metal striking stone caught my attention. Following the sound to its source showed me that my scythe had literally slid through my fingers, the flesh of my arm having seemingly dissolved into some tar-like black fluid. I stared dumbly at the sight for a moment as more and more of my arm dripped off of me in small chunks.
And then my body dissolved into a puddle of inky goop, leaving me standing in my spiritual form staring at my still blackened right arm as it splashed around me.