…How did it come to this?
"What are hesitating for? *Pant!* *Pant!* H-hurry and tighten it some more!"
"A-are you sure you're okay with this? Your clothes are tearing…"
They were just brainstorming ideas to crash the arranged marriage interview not too long ago, but…
"Ngh! T-that's perfect! Now, say the lines!"
"I don't know if I can…"
"What are you wussing out for!? You call yourself a man!?"
Seriously, how did it come to this!?
Kazuma was walking down the halls of the Dustiness mansion with an irritated expression stretching across his face.
"Jeez… Just what are those two thinking? Especially Naruto, leaving and then making us wait like this?"
Ten minutes have passed since Naruto stormed out of the room to change and get Darkness, so Kazuma decided to go and retrieve them himself.
'Wait, they're probably coming up with a plan to ruin the meeting right now! Like hell I'll let that happen!'
With that thought, Kazuma picked up his pace down the great hall. He cut around the corner before breaking into a full-on sprint towards the room Darkness's father told him his daughter would be in.
"Alright, you two! It's time to-!"
"You like being tied up, don't you! Filthy pig woman! Sq-sq-squeal… for… me…"
The moment Kazuma burst into the room, his eyes fell upon something amazing.
Darkness was face-first on the ground, her cheeks as hot as the air that she was releasing, all the while, her torso was bound by a set of rope. The rope was so tight that her dress was torn in various places, and her large bust seemed like it was about to burst out of the fabric at any moment.
The owner of the rope, Naruto, had one foot placed between Darkness's shoulder blades as he released some incredible words.
But the shinobi's words died in his mouth the moment that Kazuma walked in and saw them.
A crushing silence overtook the room, the only sound being Darkness's ragged breaths.
Darkness seemed to be enjoying herself so much that she didn't even notice the newcomer in the room, but when Naruto ceased his verbal lashings, a disapproving frown grew on her flushed features.
"Hey! Why'd you… Stop…"
It was then that she noticed Kazuma, whose face had lost all emotion.
Nothing could describe the look in Kazuma's eyes. The boy looked desolated as if he'd lost all hope in the two blondes that he was staring at.
'There's no hope for these two…' Is what both Naruto and Darkness could surely hear oozing out of their friend's expression.
Then, without uttering a single word, Kazuma left and closed the door.
"W-w-w-w-wait a second!" x2
A few minutes later, and the trio walked back into the room where the meeting would be taking place.
Naruto and Darkness hung their heads low with the highest amount of shame that they had ever felt in their entire lives.
They had chased after Kazuma after he left without saying anything and begged him not to tell anyone.
Kazuma ended up using it against them and claimed that he wouldn't ask anything in exchange that they'd behave themselves during the meeting, which would be starting soon.
Of course, they had no choice but to accept the terms. But they had far from given up.
"Neh, Naruto! Naruto! Don't I look fantastic in this dress? You're probably so quiet right now because you can't maintain your excitement, right? You poor thing…"
Aqua chimed and did a couple of spins to show off her maid attire, which consisted of a frilly black dress and a white apron.
Naruto looked up from his gloomy staring contest with the ground, and his eyes widened, if only slightly. He thought the girl looked cute in the outfit, really cute, in fact, but he just couldn't muster the energy to compliment her in his usual manner.
Seriously… Why did Darkness make him do something like that? It was so similar to what Morrigan had forced him to do his dreams.
But the worst part of it all was, he was beginning to enjoy himself. It was almost as if he was starting to step into a very dark place.
If Kazuma hadn't walked in when he had, Naruto feared that he wouldn't have been able to go back.
Giving the goddess a thumbs up, Naruto took his place next to Kazuma behind the couch that Darkness and her father were sitting on.
Aqua pouted at the lackluster compliment but smiled nonetheless and took her place next to the shinobi.
"Lalatina… I'm truly glad that you agreed to attend this meeting, but you're wearing a different dress than before. Did the other one that I chose for this occasion not suit your fashion?"
Ignis asked his daughter worriedly.
"N-not at all, father! I just thought this dress would appeal to our guest more is all! A-ahah hah…"
Darkness lied through her teeth and laughed into her hand, awkwardly.
"But father… You should know that I only agreed to attend this meeting. That doesn't mean I'm going to agree to marry this man. Fufufu… Hahaha!"
The older noble stuttered, clearly at a loss for words at his daughter's unsightly behavior.
Naruto and Kazuma were surprised as well. What had happened to the girl that was worried about her family's image!?
"Yes! I decided it's still too soon for me to get married! So I'll destroy this stupid meeting! Ohohoho!"
Just as Darkness's declaration concluded, the doors opened up, and a handsome young man with both brown hair and brown eyes walked in. Obviously, this must have been Alderp's son, if the bowing of the staff meant anything, which was strange, considering that the man looked nothing like his father.
Her eyes set on her target, Darkness stood up and began to make her way towards the entrance.
"So! You are the man they intend for me to marry! I am Dustiness Ford Lalatina! You can refer to me as Mistress-Oof!"
But just as she passed Kazuma, she tripped over his out-stretched appendage.
"I knew it! You intended to betray me!"
Standing just outside the meeting room, Darkness shouted at Kazuma with teary eyes.
The moment Darkness started acting very unladylike, Kazuma decided it would be best to take things outside the room.
"Did you forget the part about not sullying your family's name?"
Kazuma responded with a sweatdrop.
"I'm not siding with Kazuma, but he's got a point. If you didn't care about your family's image, then all of that earlier would have been for nothing…"
Naruto said while scratching at his whisker marks. He honestly didn't understand what was going on in his fellow blonde's mind right now, and he wasn't sure if he even wanted to.
"Wait, that's it Naruto! Let us demonstrate what we practiced earlier! Then surely-"
Darkness began to suggest they repeat the embarrassing act Kazuma had walked in on them doing just minutes ago, but Naruto instantly shot down the idea.
The crusader clicked her teeth while looking away in a fit.
Naruto clenched his jaw and gripped his fists in anger. Now he really wanted to slap this girl!
Kazuma sighed. At least his friend was learning. In the end, that's all that mattered.
"I don't get it. That man is handsome and seems kind enough. Plus, he's rich and probably wouldn't make you work. Why are you so opposed to marrying him?"
Aqua innocently asked, only to step back in fear when Darkness turned her fury towards her.
"That's exactly why I can't marry him! He's too kind, works hard, and never angers towards anyone! The kind of man I want is one that has a vulgar grin on their face at all times as he licks me down with his eyes all day, like Kazuma!"
"I-I do no such thing!"
Kazuma heatedly denied.
"He should also enjoy leading other women on like it's second nature to him as well as toying with my insecurities, like Naruto!"
"L-like hell I do that!"
Naruto sputtered as he denied the female knight's blasphemous words as well, but like Kazuma, he was completely ignored as Darkness continued her speech.
"The type I like is one that isn't competent at all, a failure at life! He's in a rut all year round, always tries to take the easiest route, and despite my love for him, is easily swayed by another woman's affection! The more perverse he is, the better! Not to mention the debt he always collects! That way, his weak will shall force him to drink all day and force me to pay for the debt by selling my slutty body! *Hah!* *Hah!* *Hah!*."
. . .
Naruto was stunned. He knew Darkness was weird-no, beyond weird. But to openly declare that she wanted a man that would treat her so horribly was so pitiful, he almost wanted to cry.
This woman was beyond help. He felt like his best option was to go home.
'Great. Now I'm starting to sound like Kazuma.'
Shaking his head, Naruto placed a shoulder on the cackling Darkness's shoulder and gave her a sincere smile.
"Don't worry, Darkness… No matter how far you fall, I promise to always be your friend."
"D-d-don't tell me something like that with a genuine smile!"
After the brief "heart-to-heart" between friends, the group went back to the meeting room to meet with Alderp's son.
Alexei Barnes Walter was his name and more or less seemed like an all-round nice guy. He was so nice, in fact, that it was almost annoying. The man almost reminded Naruto of a particular magic sword wielder, minus the hero complex of course.
But Naruto still wasn't completely satisfied. He may have discovered just how hopeless Darkness was, but he refused to marry her off to the son of a corrupt noble who was involving himself with demonic contracts.
At least, not before testing the guy first.
Thanks to Kazuma keeping Darkness in check every time she tried to speak in a very non-noble-like manner, the introductions went mostly smoothly.
Ignis then suggested for them to take a walk in the family's garden so that Darkness and Alexei could get to know each other better.
The five of them were currently strolling the exterior of the massive property.
Deciding to leave Darkness in Kazuma's hands, for the time being, Naruto decided to spend some time with Aqua when the girl pulled him over towards the pond in the center of the garden. He felt like he needed a break from all the stress that Darkness had put him through earlier.
How Kazuma was able to deal with not just Darkness, but Aqua and Megumin every single day was beyond the shinobi.
"What'd you wanna show me, Aqua?"
Naruto asked as he took a seat on the grass, and the goddess happily skipped over to the edge of the pond before flashing him a toothy grin.
She said and spun on her heel until she was facing the water. Raising her hands, she clapped a couple times.
"What are you… Woah!"
Just as Naruto was about to question the girl's actions, a bunch of fish started splashing out of the water.
Her grin only grew upon seeing the shinobi's reaction. Aqua then made a couple distinctive motions with her hands as though she were making commands.
To the shinobi's surprise, the pond fish began to swim in all different directions until they began to form a particular symbol.
Naruto's voiced trailed off, his hand unconsciously reaching for his headband.
The fish had positioned themselves to create the symbol that represented the Hidden Leaf Village.
"Hehe… Aren't I great? You can praise me if you want to."
Aqua stated with her hands placed proudly on her hips, but she was startled when Naruto suddenly grabbed her hands.
"You're amazing, Aqua! Really!"
Naruto said with stars in his eyes, prompting the bluenette to take a step back in surprise. But they were too close to the pond, so the girl lost her footing and grabbed onto Naruto at the last second, dragging the unfortunate teen with her.
The fish scattered as Aqua and Naruto fell into the pond, both soaking their maid/butler's attire as they landed on their butts.
Finding the situation strangely amusing, Naruto suddenly started laughing. Aqua puffed her cheeks out before joining in the laughter shortly after.
Naruto wiped a lone tear from his eye, his thoughts going back to the events of Keele's Dungeon as he watched her laughing face. Suddenly, he felt like he couldn't take his eyes off the goddess of water.
That's right… He had decided that he had a crush on this girl.
Aqua had a lot of faults, more than he could count. She also caused him a lot of trouble, made him angry, and caused a lot of problems for Kazuma.
But at the same time, she made him laugh, gave him quirky gifts, and had given him lots of irreplaceable memories.
As difficult as it was to tolerate this bratty self-proclaimed goddess sometimes, she was just as fun to be around the other times. He couldn't imagine his life in Axel without her.
Naruto started, and blue stared into blue when Aqua stopped laughing to look at him.
"H-huh? What, what? A-a-are you thinking of doing what I think you're doing!?"
For some reason, Aqua started sputtering in her words, and it only caused Naruto to become nervous as well.
Wait, why was he getting nervous? What did she think he was going to say?
'Ugh… Just say it already! Any more of this tiptoeing bullshit and I'm gonna vomit!'
Kurama suddenly shouted, which only caused the shinobi to become even more confused.
'Wait… Does Aqua think I'm going to confess!? I-I-I was only going to thank her for being my friend!'
'Too late now, kid! Just get it over with so we can get past this awkward nonsense!'
'H-hang on! Isn't this a little sudden!? Besides, I thought you hated Aqua!'
'I do, but I loathe hesitation even more! So suck it up and say it!'
With Kurama's questionable words of encouragement, Naruto gulped and steeled himself for what he was about to say. But the way Aqua was nervously poking her fingers together while looking up and down at him was almost too adorable to bear!
Just before Naruto could finish his sentence, the sound of fabric being torn could be heard from across the garden.
Naruto and Aqua turned to see Darkness toss aside the lower part of her dress and point towards Alexei.
"I've had enough of these games! I challenge you to a duel!"
"Kazuma…! I thought you were going to keep her under control! What happened!?"
Naruto hissed into Kazuma's ear as they watched Darkness duel with Alexei in her family's training hall.
Well, it was supposed to be a duel. But Darkness had yet to land a single hit on the nobleman. As expected of the Crusader of Kazuma's party.
"I was, but how was I supposed to stop her from tearing her dress like that?"
Kazuma responded, his eyes never leaving the battle involving his party member.
"…Oi. I can tell your eyes haven't left Darkness's uncovered parts this whole time, ya know?"
Naruto stated while staring at his fellow adventurer flatly.
"S-s-s-shut up! As if you're any better! Mr. flirting in the pond! Did you have a nice time with Aqua while I was doing all the work, huh!?"
Kazuma barked, and this time his eyes left the ongoing battle so he could glare at the shinobi.
Naruto fumbled with his words, but he couldn't find a comeback. After all, he was so caught up in the moment earlier with Aqua he almost did something he wouldn't have been able to come back from.
"Uh-huh… That's what I thought."
Kazuma grunted when Naruto averted his gaze. Aqua was standing off to the side, seemingly daydreaming again for whatever reason.
A vein then popped on Naruto's forehead. That was the last straw.
"Hey! At least I'm not trying to marry off my friends to a corrupt noble's son for a profit! I can see why they call you Scumzuma and Kazutrash!"
"How rude! Well, what about you!? You're all lovey-dovey with Aqua right now, but what about Wiz!? Or that cute mage in your party!? Not to mention those Succubi that showed up at my mansion that one time! I've been meaning to ask, but why were they acting so familiar with you!? I can see why they call you Naruto the Player!"
"I thought we were past that misunderstanding! But what should I have expected from the guy who paid to have a dream of a female version of his friend!"
"N-n-now listen here, you fake ninja!"
"Who's a fake ninja!?"
By now, Naruto and Kazuma's argument had taken the floor. Darkness and Alexei had long since ceased their duel and were both watching the two boys argue with one another. But after seeing their heated states, a dark smile grew on Darkness's lips.
"You see!? This is what I was talking about! They try to hide it, but these men are savages to the core! If it weren't for my other two-party members, Kazuma would have surely forced himself upon me by now! Also, sometime in the past, Naruto had snuck into my room to steal my precious thing! He may have wimped out back then, but I have high hopes that one day, he'll succumb to his true nature!"
Darkness shouted for everyone in the room to hear, and all eyes fell onto her.
Alexei whispered into his gloved hand as he turned towards both Naruto and Kazuma, as if to seek their affirmation.
But the boys didn't answer. No, they were too fed up with a certain Crusader to care about what a total stranger thought of them.
"…Hey, Naruto. Help me out here."
"…You got it, Kazuma."
Eyes covered by their bangs, Naruto and Kazuma slowly began to walk towards the smiling Darkness.
"Y-yes! Show him what you two are truly capable of!"
The female knight excitedly demanded and pointed towards each of them.
"Kazuma! Show us that you are a man that promotes gender equality and boasts his willingness to drop-kick women! Naruto! Show us that hidden talent to humiliate women where it counts the most! Destroy my pride like you did Aqua and Megumin in the past!"
As soon as the words left her mouth, something snapped in the minds of both Naruto and Kazuma.
Seemingly out of nowhere, a dozen plumes of smoke appeared around Darkness. When the mist disappeared, a bunch of clones surrounded the Crusader.
"A-ah! So many…! W-with this many numbers, I'll hardly be able to put up a fight! They'll hold me down, undress me, and one by one they'll have their way with me as everyone watches! Ngh…! I knew it! I knew you had it in you, Naruto! Now! Come at me!"
Darkness rambled on while hugging her form tightly, her imagination running wild at the thought of being surrounded by so many men. She then pointed her wooden sword at each of the clones until it was directed at the original.
"Kazuma… Let's do that."
Naruto suggested, to which Kazuma readily agreed to.
With that said, the duo sprang into action.
Darkness, her eyes never leaving the shinobi in front of her, gasped in surprise when he disappeared from her view. But she didn't have much time to search when she was suddenly hit by a torrent of water.
Now soaked to the bone, Darkness turned to face Kazuma with a beaming expression.
"As expected of Kazuma! To use magic in a duel of wooden swor-Nnngh!"
Darkness was about to charge towards Kazuma, but right after her first step, she felt a presence behind her, and she dropped her sword when all her limbs started going numb.
Naruto coldly revealed his most recently learned skill as the knight struggled to stay on her two feet.
Despite being hit by the paralyzing skill, Darkness remained standing. Her resistances were simply too much.
After a bit of struggling, Darkness managed to turn around and tried to grab Naruto, but the shinobi jumped just out of her reach.
"N-ngh…! As expected of the men who have defeated the Dullahan and the mobile Destroyer! But is that all you got!? I won't break that easily!"
Darkness declared, and with some effort, she managed to shrug off the effects of Naruto's Paralyze. She then turned towards Kazuma and made a mad dash for the guy, her eyes dead set on snapping him in two.
Without hesitation, Kazuma raised his hand again and used another elementary level spell. This time, a bucket's worth of dirt shot out of his hand and hit Darkness right in the face.
Because she was still soaked from Kazuma's previous spell, Darkness was now covered head-to-toe in mud.
Slipping on the mud that had fallen from her body, the female knight had no chance of catching herself and collapsed onto the ground.
For a few seconds, she just laid there. Hot, heavy breaths escaped her mouth. She was in complete ecstasy. Not only was her dress a total mess, but her entire body was turned into a mud cake.
'And the best part is… All of these people are watching me with lecherous eyes! Ngh…! This is almost too much~!'
Darkness thought while trying to cover the parts of her skin that weren't being covered in mud from being seen by the audience's "perverted" gazes.
"Wow… That's Darkness?"
"She looks like she's actually enjoying herself…"
"What a hopeless woman…"
-The clones that had previously just been spectating suddenly began talking. Or rather, they began to berate the girl with insults. With each clone saying something worse than the previous one.
Darkness seemed taken aback by the sudden onslaught of insults. Never had she thought Naruto would give her such a verbal beating. Kazuma, without a doubt, but the shinobi just seemed too nice.
"Such a nasty look in her eyes…"
"She has such a cute name too… Lalatina-Chan…"
"What a waste…"
As Darkness was bathing in Naruto's verbal onslaught, Kazuma looked at the shinobi with a raised eyebrow.
Truth be told, Kazuma had formed a sort of "contingency plan" for each girl in his party in case one of them started getting out of hand. He had shared these plans with Naruto one night while they were drinking at the adventurer's guild.
But some of the insults Naruto was using were totally new. Where was the ninja getting these ideas?
Taking a closer look at Naruto, Kazuma noticed his eyes were a deep crimson red. It almost seemed like he was possessed by a-
'Ah! Is he letting the demon fox speak for him!? Are we going to be okay!?'
Upon noticing Kazuma's surprised face, Kurama flashed him a toothy grin, which showed off his enlarged canines. It was actually a pretty creepy image.
"I'm going to use you as my personal meat shield on our next quest…"
"Because that's all you're good for…"
That was the last push she needed. Darkness's eyes went wide and rolled to the back of her head. The last thing she saw was Naruto standing over her with the most feral grin she had ever seen.
It was… Amazing.
"Kahahaha! Did you see that woman squirm!? All I did was reach into her innermost desires and scorn her for them!"
Kurama stated in a dark voice while cackling with laughter.
'Scary! Naruto's demon is scary!'
Kazuma thought while hiding behind Aqua, who had just snapped out of her dreamland.
"Ah! Naruto's been taken over by the demon! Take this, devil scum! Purification!"
Aqua shouted and shot out her hands towards Naruto and his clones, and a magic circle appeared indicating the activation of her skill.
Kurama and the rest of his clones screamed out in pain as they took the full brunt of the goddess's purification spell, which resulted in the clones disappearing and Naruto's eyes reverting back to their regular blue.
"Puhehe! Take that, devil scum!"
Aqua chortled with laughter while Kazuma gave her a silent thumbs-up, as the boy was relieved that the scary voice was gone.
Naruto, now back in control of his body, sweatdropped as he listened to the ranting Bijuu inside his mind.
'Curse that wretched creature! Curse these restraints! Just you wait, woman… When I get out of here, not even your blasphemous cult will escape my wrath!'
'Why does Aqua's purification skill even hurt you, Kurama? You're technically not even a demon…'
'Brat… Have you ever been forced to have your very life's essence change properties!? That excrement is technically a goddess, so the pain is excruciating!'
'A-ah… I never thought of it that way. Sorry…'
So that's how it worked. Now Naruto felt really bad, as he had basically told Kurama to "suck it up!" whenever Aqua purified them.
A/N: What was this chapter about again? Oh yeah, Darkness's arranged marriage meeting… Oh well!
B/N: Hide me from the cringe. Its everywhere!