I'm sure most of you thought I was dead. My muse has been comatose for several months now, but this needed to be completed. It most likely won't satisfy everyone, but this is the end of the road for this story. You can thank my girlfriend, Jen ( Volpone for all you K/B lovers out there) for pushing me to complete this epic. She is my inspiration and my koishii. Anyway, onto the last chapter shall we?
Chapter 39– The End of the Road
Botan stood on the balcony of her old room, gaze focused upon the wisp of clouds that lingered high above the mountains some distance away. Peace lingered upon her features but inside a turbulent wave of emotions bombarded the deity's mind and heart. Ren was powerful and his purpose noble. Why then did she want to run away? Why this cold numbness that filled her body when the dark haired man was within her presence?
The ferry girl's brow furrowed as she struggled to understand her feelings. Shadows of doubt danced in her head, images forming to reveal not the face of Ren but rather the red haired demon they had fought on the cliff. The look of utter despair upon his features haunted her. Part of her wished to have comforted him. Even if he was the enemy.
The deity shook her head. Lifting her right hand she rubbed at her temples, jumping in surprise when Ren's voice whispered,
"Headache my dear?"
Botan dropped her hand and turned to face him. "No. Just a bit tired from all the traveling." She lied, pivoting back to stare at the blue sky above.
Ren gave her an indulgent smile as he reached out to wrap his arm around her shoulders. "That is all behind us now, Botan." He replied as he, too, stared up at the sky. "Tell me, what do you see when you look out upon this world?"
The blue haired woman drew in a small breath then answered softly, "Emptiness and desolation."
A smirk lifted Ren's lips. "Indeed. That is why we are here. To fill the land with hope and true freedom. A world without the influence of the corrupt overlords who call themselves elders." He paused, then added in the fervent tone of a true believer, "and in this new era, we will have all we desire. From all three realms and no one will be able to stop us."
Botan shivered at his words.
Misjudging her actions, Ren pulled her closer to offer the warmth of his body.
A knock on the door caused both to turn, their eyes falling upon the form of Tahomen in some distress.
Ren frowned at the sight of his brother and withdrew from the ferry girl. "What brings you here, Tahomen?" He started in an agitated voice, annoyed at having his private time with Botan interrupted. "Did you do what I asked? Are the elders in custody?"
The shinobi nodded then growled softly. "But there were complications."
"Kagone has escaped. I tried to track him down but it was a futile effort."
Ren took a few seconds to process the information then smirked. "It doesn't matter." He replied. "That coward won't get far. All portals are sealed by now. I can do away with the other elders then go after him."
"But Ren," Tahomen interjected. "He's probably gathering the defense forces as we speak. I don't know if we can handle that many on our own.."
The smaller man waved away his brother's protest. "Let them come. I'll show them all what true power is. Kagone won't escape justice. I will kill him. Just as he did our family long ago. Now then," He started, giving the shinobi a grin as the two men moved forward and out into the hall, leaving Botan alone once more. "Let's go visit our captives shall we?"
With great stealth, Yoh, Hinageshi and Kurama made their way inside the palace. Masking ki was a draining task but so far it had worked. They had hidden when Tahomen paraded a line of men and women in shackles up the stairs and into Koenma's office, waiting until it was clear before following up to the door.
Where are the others being held? Kurama asked telepathically to Yoh as his keen ears listened for any movement or threat.
In spirit world jail. The blond answered, suppressing a chuckle at the puzzled look Hinageshi was giving them..
Kurama turned to face the smaller man. Take Hinageshi and free them. We'll need everyone's help.
Yoh shook his head. You need help, too.
Reaching out, the red haired man clasped Yoh's shoulder a soft smile upon his lips. Do not fear for me. I am not ready to leave this world. His features hardened and the half youkai retracted his hand, his body straightening. Ren and I have unfinished business to attend to.
The blond nodded. We'll hurry back to help. Taking Hinageshi's hand, the two reigens took off downstairs to make way towards the jail.
Kurama watched them go. Good luck my friends. He thought then braced himself, making ready to jump in and provide a distraction when the villains on the other side of the door lent him an opening.
"My, my. How the tables have turned." Ren gloated as he studied the group of elders before him. Rising from Koenma's chair, the telekinetic walked around the desk then leaned back against the front of it. Arms crossed he continued. "Do you know why you've been brought here?"
Most of the elders looked at each other in confusion, shifting their shackled hands as they tried to figure out just what this man wanted with them. Torandai however, knew exactly who Ren was and what he wanted to do with them. Yet remained silent as the younger man continued.
Ren pushed off the desk and stalked over to the group, pacing slowly in front of each man and woman, his eyes gleaming with righteous indignation. "You're here to answer to the charges of corruption and wanton destruction of Jaisetsu village here in spirit world and of Niwa village in Ningenkai. You allowed Kagone to continue his war of genocide on those of mixed blood." He paused, his features darkening into a look of fury. "To kill my family out of fear and ignorance. For that, you shall all pay."
Raising his hands, the group of elders were lifted off their feet then led forward in a telekinetic procession out into the courtyard. Anxious and nervous eyes scanned the open area, hoping for some sign of rescue but all that met their gaze were cameras linked to the monitors throughout spirit world.
With a smug look, Ren made the group to kneel then stalked back and forth in front of them. Arms outstretched, his eyes focused on the cameras operated by Lina and Tahomen, the telekinetic began his oratory. "Fellow Reigens. I stand before you today, in the presence of the supposed great elders of this realm, to tell you no longer will you have to live in fear and oppression. I offer you a new way to live, free from the grasp of the corrupted and bigoted group of men and women behind me." He paused, his benign voice turned hard and cold as he turned his attention to the silent elders, his dark eyes malevolent.
Ren motioned with a broad sweep of his arm as he snarled out. "These elders don't deserve to rule. They must be punished for their transgressions and I will do what must be done to free of all. And bring justice to those who, through the centuries, have cried out in lamentation. "Why have we been forsaken? Why have we been forgotten and left to die without justice or trial?" He shook visibly, nearly overcome with his rage. Drawing in a breath, he settled down and turned back to the cameras, his calm facade in place.
Crossing his arms, Ren continued. "Well my friends, I have heard their cries. I have felt their pain and I am here today to answer their call for justice." He paused once more and turned back to the elders. Arms dropping to the sides, the dark haired man lifted his right hand and opened his palm. A blade of yellow formed, crackling with energy that could only be made by a master of electrical current. Or in this case, from the stolen power of Kigorei. "Now you will be served the just punishment for your crime and I will be the executioner." Ren whispered to frightened but immobile elders as he raised his sword above the form of Torandai, his back straight and his gaze defiant as he awaited the swift blow of death.
"Goodbye." Ren whispered then brought his blade downward only to blink in complete surprise as his blade bounced back, sending him reeling. Gritting his teeth in pain, his dark eyes widened at the sight before him and snarled in absolute fury, "You!"
Kurama lowered his arms to his side, the invisible barrier deactivating around the group of elders. A smirk was visible on the kitsune's face. "Surprised?"
The cameras were shut off as Lina and Tahomen jumped down, joining their leader as they all stared contemptuously at Kurama. "I killed you already." Ren snarled. "You're dead."
"It'll take more than a pathetic attempt by you to kill the likes of me." Kurama replied in Youko's voice, his eyes turning gold as he began to transform. "The only one dying today will be you, Ren."
The telekinetic snorted and straightened his frame. Disengaging his weapon he smirked. "No matter, I'll kill you for sure this time."
"There won't be a next time." Kurama growled, his eyes hard as an explosion of black ki erupted around him. It shot outward, knocking Ren, Tahomen and Lina off their feet, sending them rocketing backward and through the outer wall. Thus the battle began.
Yoh and Hinageshi made their way down to the holding cells in the palace, glad to find it unguarded. Yusuke was the first to see them and shouted out, "Hey you two! Get us out of here!"
"Gladly." Yoh replied as Hinageshi swiped a card through the reader to the left of the barrier shield, deactivating it.
The spirit detectives, along with Koenma and Ayame, rushed out.
"What is the situation?" Koenma asked as they headed down the hall then up the stairs.
Yoh quickly told of the events that had transpired since their imprisonment. Then added. "Now Kurama is alone and going after Ren. I don't know how long he can keep it up given how weak he is."
"He's alone?!" Yusuke shouted. "Why the hell didn't he wait for us to help him?!"
"Because there was no time." Hiei countered, reading the thoughts of Yoh. "The elders of this world were about to be killed. He did what he had to do to buy time for the rest of us."
"Let's stop yapping and get out there and help him kick some bad guy butt!" Kuwabara interjected, pounding his right fist into his left palm for emphasis.
"Let's go." Yusuke added with a nod and led the charge upward and to daylight hoping to get to their friend in time.
Ailia stood near the doors that led out into the courtyard, Botan to her left. The deity had been insistent about seeing what Ren was up to and the ex-ferry girl had complied, though she felt apprehensive about it. Having her dead child's friend under her care was causing complications. The dark haired woman didn't want the girl harmed. The elders must be punished, that much was certain, for what they had allowed to happen. Kagone most of all. But Botan shouldn't have to watch it.
Her mental state is fragile as it is from Ren's control. She thought with a shake of her head. First being kidnaped, then being brainwashed and watching her lover be killed only to be brought back home to see her boss and friends imprisoned. Not something most people could handle. Such sympathy will lead to my doom. Ailia growled to herself as she turned her attention back to Ren. Yet, she couldn't help it. The girl was the only other survivor of the massacre at Jaisetsu. She had to be protected.
A sudden sense of ki flooded her senses and Ailia's eyes widened at the sight of Kurama appearing instantly in front of the elder Torandai. "What the hell?!" She cried. "I thought he was dead!"
"Ku..rama?" Botan whispered, her eyes blinking, coming to life. "Kurama..Kurama.." Botan repeated over and over again, more emotion pouring into the voice. The mantra was having an effect on the mind control Ren held over her until at last, Botan snapped
Oh shit, she remembers! Ailia's mind shouted as she tried to reach out to stop the ferry girl only to have her slip through her hands out into the courtyard.
The black light faded, dust now littering the courtyard. Sparks of youkai electricity swirled and crackled around the tall and imposing form that was Youko then slowly faded. The fox demon's gold eyes narrowed as he studied the cavernous hole created by the explosion of ki, his ears twitching at the murmurings of both surprise and fear. "A demon? We've been spared by such a creature."
"Yes, I am a demon." Youko replied in a growl, his wary gaze remaining ahead as he continued. "And you need not fear me." He added, lifting his right and left hands parallel to the ground. Clusters of vines shot out from his palms and undulated in the air like serpents then swung around behind him, the ends shifting then glowing as they wrapped around each elder's shackles then twisted around the chains, breaking them apart, freeing the captives who stood dumbfounded. "Why are you freeing us?" One of the female elder's asked, rubbing her wrists as she waited for an answer.
"Because you're in my way." Youko growled out then switched to a softer tone. "And because my mate is from this realm. Now go. Get out of here before Ren and his clan awakens and kills you."
The elders needed no further urging. They tore off to the far end of the courtyard to the rear door and to freedom. Only Torandai remained.
"Youko." He spoke in a concerned tone that caused the fox spirit to turn his head to the side.
Peering over his shoulder, Youko spoke softly, a trace of his human side showing in the smile upon his lips. "Do not worry. It will be all over soon. You should go. They are waking up now and I will not last much longer. Find your son and the others and get out of here as fast as your legs can carry you."
"But, you will need help." Torandai countered. "You cannot fight them alone."
The fox demon pivoted around, his gaze falling upon the charging forms of Urameshi and the others. "I won't be alone."
"Hey Kurama!" Yusuke shouted as he skidded to a stop.
But there was no time for the kitsune to give a reply as the ruined wall behind him exploded, rocketing dust and debris at the group. Ki barriers activated, the detectives managed to protect themselves even as they were pushed backward by the force of the blast.
"Dammit!" Yusuke growled, gritting his teeth, arms crossed in front of his face as he was shoved backwards. "How the hell did Ren get all this power?!"
"Who cares!" Kuwabara shouted, mimicking his friend's defensive stance. "I'll still kick his ass!"
"Shut up, both of you!" Hiei growled, grabbing the hilt of his sword as he took a defensive stance. "They come!" The fire demon lifted his weapon, blocking the sudden downward swing of Tahomen's kodachi blade, sparks flying from the impact. Hiei gritted his teeth and pushed off, the two vanishing and reappearing in a flurry of movement, locked in mortal combat.
Kuwabara had his hands full as Lina jumped and slashed with her claws. The human stumbled, grunting at the flash of pain that erupted as the claws dug in deep to his shoulders. "Get off me, you freak!" He snarled, grabbing and yanking the female away, twisting and throwing her violently to the side. Lina flipped in mid air, landing like a cat on her feet then grinned and charged at the street fighter, claws extended.
Youko and Yusuke had their hands full with Ren, who launched an all out assault, firing energy blasts that seemed to follow them wherever they went. "What the hell are these things?" Yusuke shouted as he dodged and danced, disappearing in front of one of the side walls of the courtyard. The energy ball struck the wall, causing a ground shaking explosion.
Youko vaulted into the air, twisting and turning with the agility of his kind, his landing graceful even as the air ripped with explosions, the energy balls clashing into each other. The force whipped around the fox demon, lighting his stern features. "Ki tracers." He growled out, his gold eyes narrowing at the approaching form of Ren. "He's toying with us."
Yusuke reappeared beside Youko, his brown orbs filled with anger. "The bastard. He has all our power. How in the hell are we going to last against him?"
The fox spirit withdrew a seed from his hair, eyes never leaving the figure of Ren as he growled. "Like this." Making a fist, Youko sent his ki into the seed, bright light flashing then knelt down and slammed his now open palm onto the courtyard ground. Instantly, long and strange looking vines erupted from beneath the earth, lashing onto Ren, Tahomen and Lina, coiling around their wrists and heads, pulling then slamming then down onto the courtyard floor.
Yusuke, Hiei and Kuwabara blinked in surprise as their opponents were subdued. "What did you do?" The head detective started then stopped when his gaze shifted over to the now human form of Kurama. The redhead was breathing heavy, struggling to rise. "I even..the odds.." He whispered, his green eyes widening when he spied the form of Botan heading towards them. "No.. " He cried as loud as he could. "Get away. Don't come here, Botan!" Kurama started to run towards her only to be blown back by the massive explosion from the captured forms of Ren, Tahomen and Lina.
Kurama landed hard, skidding to a stop, the others in a similar predicament as the blast leveled everything around them. The red head sat up, jumping to his feet, frantically searching for some sign of the ferry girl. He saw nothing at first then lifted his gaze when he sensed his lover's ki and someone else. His eyes narrowed as he lifted his gaze, spying Ailia holding the prone form of the deity. Kurama made to go over and retrieve his mate but Ailia shook her head and disappeared. The fox spirit frowned, part of him longing to take his beloved away from her. But the other, more pressing need was to finish their enemies before anyone else could be harmed.
"Is that the best you can do, Kurama!" Ren taunted.
Kurama turned his gaze to the three opponents, watching as they tore at the remaining vines then tossed them onto the ground. Yusuke, Hiei and Kuwabara joined to stand beside the red haired man.
"It is an impressive act. I was surprised you could control plants, what with your power now belonging to me." Ren continued.
A smirk tugged on the kitsune's lips. "Does it really?" He replied, his voice now taunting. Raising his arms to the side, vines shot up from the ground, wrapping around Kurama's wrists. A bright light shot up along the plant matter and into the red head, filling him with ki energy, the form of Youko now in the place of the human Kurama. "I think not."
Similar vines erupted from the ground to wrap around Hiei and Yusuke's wrists.Black mist swirled around Hiei's arm, the dragon returning to it's true master as his jagan came to life. Tattoo marks flared along Yusuke's skin, the marks of his mazoku heritage.
Ren's features paled and he backed up a step. "How.. How did you?" He stammered.
"Quite simple, really." Youko replied, bending down low to pick up a strip of grass. He righted himself, the grass coming to life, lengthening into the shape of a blade. The fox demon started forward, the others right behind him. "While it is true you took my power, the knowledge of the uses of such power belongs to me alone. Otherwise you would know what a leech seed can do."
"Leech seed?" Ren repeated, his brow furrowed.
Youko smirked, sensing and smelling the fear and uncertainty now emanating from the younger man before him. "A plant master can train the leech seed to not only draw ki from it's victims but even specific ki. In this case, the ki you took from my friends and I." He paused to look at his companions then continued. "And then return this ki to those who lost it."
Ren's features twisted into rage and he lifted his hand. "You bastard!" He snarled. He flicked his wrist, expecting the rock he focused on to lift and shoot out at the kitsune. Nothing happened.
"How does it feel to be the one without power, Ren?" Youko growled with a smirk then vaulted into the air, coming down in front of the dark haired man, blade outstretched, the tip pointing at the smaller being's neck. "Yield or I will kill you for taking my mate from me and for harming my friends."
Ren's gaze was cold and hard as he lowered his hand. Tahomen and Lina yielded as well, both under the careful watch of Hiei, Yusuke and Kuwabara. Koenma and Ayame went over as well, preparing to place them under arrest.
Not far away, upon the rooftop of the palace, Ailia watched in dismay. Her leader and co patriots were defeated, with hardly a drop of blood shed. Tricked by the clever fox demon. Damn Ren and his arrogance. She thought with a shake of her head. Looking down at the prone form of the deity, Ailia contemplated what to do. She could hold her for ransom, a prisoner exchange. But that would be risky and she had to protect the girl as the only other survivor of the Jaisetsu massacre. She could run and live to fight another day, but that was cowardly and Ailia was no coward. Fighting would be out of the question. The men down below were much stronger than she was. But she could hunt down Kagone and make him pay. Yes, that was an option. The bastard was still out there. Hiding away, waiting to strike. She just had to find him and kill him.
A sudden, sharp pain flared in her chest, sending Ailia to her knees. She gasped, mouth open in disbelief as her eyes lowered and looked at the sharp blade protruding above her left breast. A foot slammed into her back, forcing her off the sword. The ex-ferry girl slid off, collapsing onto the rooftop, her blood sliding down the tiles. She slowly rolled around, her already dulling eyes looking up at the smug features of Kagone.
"We meet again, girl." Kagone said with a grin as he slashed the sword at an angle downward, the blood on the blade splattering onto the rooftop.
"You.. You.." Ailia choked out, blood draining out the side. She tried to heal herself but to no avail. The blade used had to be enhanced by some strange power.
"Don't look so surprised." Kagone whispered as he kneeled down beside the dark haired female. Clasping the girl's hair her yanked her head up and whispered in her ear. "Now, I'm going to take care of the rest of the filth down below. Count yourself lucky I killed you with just the sword." He let go of her hair and Ailia's head dropped hard on the tiles.
Ailia fought to breathe, each intake stabbed like knives in her lungs. God but it hurt. She turned her head to the side, feebly reaching out towards the prone form of Botan, wincing as Kagone kicked her arm aside. He bent down and swept the deity into his arms then over his shoulder.
"Leave..her.. alone you bastard.." Ailia spat out.
Kagone looked down at her. "She is no longer your concern, half breed."
She could only watch as the tall man vanished from view, Botan in his grip. She sighed and lay there, tears forming in her eyes as she felt her life ebb away.
Youko's ears twitched as he heard sounds and voices not far off. His sensitive olfactory nerves picked up the scent of blood and he recognized it as belonging to the female spirit, Ailia. Someone else had joined the fray. Eyes widened and he shouted out, leaping inward. "Everyone down now!"
"What the hell?!" Yusuke shouted, doing as everyone else, ducking to the ground, just as a massive ball of energy rocketed past, barely missing the group as they clung to the ground. It hit the palace, causing debris to explode outward. Enacting energy shields, the mortar and rock bounced harmlessly off them.
"Well, you're certainly smarter than the average demon." Kagone's voice echoed around them.
The spirit detectives rose, still within their communal energy barrier, watching as the dust cloud settled, reveling the form of the wayward elder and the unconscious form of Botan.
Youko growled and his eyes flashed dangerously. "Put her down and I promise to kill you quickly."
Kagone laughed. "You are not in a position to bargain demon." He countered. "I will finish what I set out to do long ago. Rid this world from the half breeds and those who would create half breed children."
"Kagone you will desist this at once." Koenma commanded, stepping up to stand to Youko's left. "You will let Botan go and turn yourself in to the other elders. You must pay for the crimes and the deaths you have wrought."
"I don't have to listen to you, Koenma. You have no authority over me. I outrank you. No, you will be begging for mercy when all this is over. This pathetic band of half breeds and demons will be put on trial and I will make sure they all perish under Reikai rule."
"Nonetheless," Koenma countered, his gaze cold and his tone icy. "You will be held accountable. If you won't surrender willingly and release Botan. I will let the detectives make you by force."
A dark light shone in Kagone's eyes. "Oh, by all means. Let the fools come and try to take me in. I could use the sport."
"You bastard! You'll pay for killing my people and my family!" Ren shouted, struggling against the restraints, eager to get at the elder.
"Oh yes.. Your family." Kagone retorted in a mocking tone. "Niwa village wasn't it? I killed everyone there. You were outmatched when I took your mother's life. You should have stayed hidden. And your father.. Well, Kasahiro had to die. As did his sons. Pity you were unconscious when I took that miserable half breed's life. He tried so hard to kill me, but ended up like the others. More trash to add to the pile."
Youko felt the surge of power coming from Ren and Tahomen as did everyone else. Before he could stop them, the two men broke free and charged straight at the larger man. Kagone laughed and rose high in the air and away from them.
"I thought you took all their power from them, Kurama." Yusuke whispered, frowning as he watched the fight begin.
Youko was worried about Botan. He had to get her away from him and in a safe place. "For the most part, I did. Seeing Kagone triggered their rage. Some of their power has returned to them. They are no different than you or I like that, Yusuke."
The lead detective heard the distant tone in the kitsune's voice. "So what do we do? He has Botan. If we don't act soon, she'll get hurt."
"I know that, Yusuke, that's why we're going to help Ren and Tahomen fight Kagone."
"We're what?!" The smaller man shouted.
The fox spirit wasted no more time, withdrawing a seed and willing it to grow into a whip. He jumped high into the air, Hiei followed, with his sword at the ready as did Kuwabara. Yusuke shook his head but formed his spirit gun, building up power to fire.
Youko lashed out, aiming not for Kagone but the deity. He got the vine wrapped around the girl and pulled, yanking her away from the distracted elder who shouted in rage and turned his attention to the youkai. Lifting his hand he shot out a burst of energy. "Die, demon scum!" He roared then cried out in surprise as Hiei's sword came down upon his arm, ricocheting back when the blade bounced then broke. Kagone swiped at Kuwabara, knocking him aside. The street fighter rocketed downward, slamming into the ground, creating a ten foot crater upon impact. Hiei used the distraction to his advantage, a black flame flickering around his fist, smashing it into the elder's left cheek, sending him rocketing backwards.
Ren and Tahomen objected to the detectives interference, launching an assault only to be shot down by Yusuke's spirit gun. They landed hard onto the ground but got up and countered with an energy attack of their own. Yusuke batted them away, blinking when the two men attacked him at once. The detective did the best he could to defend himself but the two brothers were possessed. "Get everyone out of here, Koenma!" Yusuke shouted, gritting his teeth as he continued to defend himself. Tahomen withdrew his dual kodachi blades and swung downward only to be blocked by the black flame sword of Hiei.
"Time to settle the score." The fire demon spoke, pushing the shinobi forcibly backward.
Tahomen growled and focused his attention on battling with the smaller man, leaving Ren to deal with Yusuke.
"I will kill you detective. Then I'll finish Kagone." Ren promised.
"Yeah, right." Yusuke countered, preparing his attack. "Without all that power you stole, you're less of a threat than Keiko. At least when she hits me, it hurts."
Youko meanwhile had landed back on solid ground. He cradled Botan in his arms, checking her quickly to see if she was alright. The deity woke up slowly, her amethyst eyes flooded with recognition as she looked into the face of Youko. "Kurama." She whispered lovingly, stroking his cheek with her fingertips.
"Yes, Botan." Youko replied, nuzzling her wrist, his heart lightening that the girl knew him. "I'm here now. You're safe." He growled suddenly then jumped away just as a blade came down from behind him. Youko rose and turned around, the deity still in his arms. "You're a fool, Kagone, if you think you can sneak behind the likes of me."
The wounded elder smirked, leveling his sword at the kitsune. "As I said before, demon. I will kill you. Along with your friends and loved ones."
Youko lowered Botan to her feet and pulled her behind him, whispering. "Head towards Koenma. Don't stop for anything. And don't look back. Understand?"
"But.. I want to stay with you." Botan counted as she clung to his back.
"You cannot. It is safer for you to go with Koenma. It will help me to focus if I know you're safe. When this is over, I'll join you and we can leave here."
Botan bit her lip but let go of his back and raced over towards Koenma.
"You shouldn't have lied to her, demon. You won't be taking anyone home. You won't live long enough for that." Kagone said with a vicious grin.
"We'll see." The fox demon replied as he dropped seeds onto the ground. The plants formed instantly, growing into a series of thorny, undulating stems. Flower buds sprouted, opening their blossoms to reveal demonic heads. The flowers roared, acid dripping from their teeth as they snaked out towards the elder.
Kagone backpedaled, using his sword to cut of the flower heads as each one lashed out at him. The distraction bought the kitsune and his mate the time they needed. Youko charged forward, withdrawing a leaf from his hair, using his ki to form it into a sword and attacked. The elder clenched his teeth, deflecting the fox demon's blows and killing off his plants with orbs of fire, setting them ablaze. The flames licked and swirled around the two beings, casting a hellish glow to their battle. Youko smirked, in his element. Kagone growled and let loose a burst of reikai energy, striking the kitsune at point blank range. Youko shot downward and into the flames. Time for some more fun. The elder thought. Grinning evilly, he vanished from view.
Hiei slashed and parried each of the shinobi's attacks with his black flame sword, retaliating with wide arcs and sheer power, the force of the blows knocking the larger man backwards and through the air. The fire demon was relentless in his assault, giving the shinobi no time to launch an offensive. Hiei vaulted up high and came down, Tahomen blocking the blow.
The smaller man twisted and flipped over, slashing out and cutting the shinobi deep in the back. Tahomen grunted in pain, the searing of the dark power blade poisoning his skin. He twisted around, slashing out, aiming for th smaller man's head but Hiei was quicker, dodging the blade. He stabbed upwards, nearly impaling the shinobi through the jaw. Tahomen cried out and leaped away. Then made ready to charge. Hiei prepared to welcome him only to blink when a large blade erupted through the larger man's chest. Blood dripped along the protruding blade, dropping in loud plops onto the ground.
Looking down at his wound, Tahomen gasped, dropping his swords. He made to push himself off the blade only to fall forward as he was viciously kicked. He slid off the sword with a wet, sucking sound and collapsed lifeless in front of the feet of the fire demon. Hiei looked up to see Kagone leering down at the corpse and him. "One half breed down. One more to go." He snarled softly then disappeared.
Not far away, Yusuke and Ren continued to trade energy blasts, each unable to one up the other. Soon it resorted to fists and feet. A good old fashioned street fight and the detective loved it. Urameshi landed a solid punch in the gut then switched his fist, uppercutting the older man and sending him upwards. Ren flipped in the air and came down, wiping the blood from his lips then went after Yusuke once more. He got within a few feet only to be blown aside by a big blue orb of energy. His body went flying, landing hard into the ground and skidding to a stop as the orb exploded, the shockwave so intense it knocked everyone off their feet.
A minute after the shockwave of energy, Youko stumbled out of the dying blaze of fire, bruised but none the worse for wear. His friends were in a similar situation. All eyes were riveted on the form of Kagone who stood in the center. His arms crossed, his features smug, the elder spoke. "Now that I've finished wiping out that weak line of Konrei's, I have ample time to kill each and every one of you."
"Fat chance, you tall piece of crap!" Yusuke taunted, watching as Kuwabara climbed out of the crater and joined his side. "You want an ass kicking? Then bring it!"
Kagone smirked then lifted into the air. Arms outstretched, palms up, he focused his energy, creating two spheres of blue that grew larger and larger.
Wind swirled around them as if possessed, drawing the Reikai Tantai closer and closer in. Yusuke and the others struggled to keep there feet on solid ground.
"What the hell is he doing?!" The dark haired detective shouted, gritting his teeth as he raised his arm to fend off the debris that smacked into his face.
"Gathering the very energy of this realm!" Youko growled out, Hiei to his left as the two demons fought to stand. "We must stop him before he completes the charge or we're all dead!"
"But how? The freak is too far away!" Kuwabara yelled above the roar of the wind.
Hiei and Youko looked at each other then nodded. "Ready?"
"Hey! What are you two up to? This is a group effort remember?" Yusuke growled.
"By all means detective, follow our lead." Hiei replied with a smirk before his body lifted into the air, Youko right behind him.
"What the hell?" Kuwabara said in confusion. "What are they going to do Urameshi?"
Yusuke merely glared upwards then let the wind lift him up. Kuwabara followed, whining, "I hate heights!":
Within seconds they had reached Kagone, all four attacking at once. Only to be swatted back by an invisible barrier. A blast of energy sent them all pummeling to the ground. The two demons jumped up, riding the wind current, weapons in hand, they slashed and hacked but were again knocked down. Yusuke and Kuwabara tried, kicking and punching but couldn't get through. Slamming into the ground the four men rose on shaky legs, panting and bleeding from their efforts.
"Ba.. Bastard.." Yusuke growled, looking up at the elder with utter rage.
Youko and Hiei kept their gaze upwards as well, until the kitsune's ears twitched and he turned to heard Botan's voice call out to him. God, she's still here?! His mind cried out in fear. She wasn't supposed to be here. Wasn't supposed to see this. His head snapped back when he felt the energy charge complete itself.
"Say goodbye to your pathetic lives!" Kagone shouted as he lifted his hands and pitched the twin orbs downward.
The four detectives watched the two spheres rocket towards them. Youko had already projected the trajectory and his features paled. Moving faster than he ever had before in his life, the kitsune vanished and reappeared in front of the deity, Koenma, Ayame and the prisoner Lina. Hands outstretched he braced himself to take on the brunt of the attack himself.
"Kurama!" Everyone shouted.
The spheres hit the youkai head on. Youko gritted his teeth upon impact, feet digging into the ground, his hands were burning, the force brought him down on one knee then two. Silver hair flashed to red then back to silver as he fought to keep his hold.
Botan watched in horror as her mate slowly died in front of her eyes. "Kurama!" She cried, trying to go to him but Koenma held her back. "Let me go!" She commanded but the spirit lord's grip was firm.
"You can't go out there Botan. He's doing this for you. Let him do what he must."
"I don't care! I'd rather die than be without him. I love him!"
Just then a surge of energy erupted within the kitsune. His hair shifted to a bright red, his fox ears receded and became human, his body shortened a bit but became more muscular, the tail disappearing, though the teeth and Youko's gold eyes remained.
Botan and the others gasped. I've seen this form before. She thought watching as Kurama's hybrid form started to push back on the one orb as Yusuke, Hiei and Kuwabara pushed back the second sphere, powering up to their maximum.
Kagone couldn't believe what he was seeing. "No! That's impossible! No demon and his half breed friends has that kind of power!" He made ready to launch another attack only to find he couldn't move his body. "What the..." He growled, panic filling him. His fear turned to anger as he spied the outstretched hand of Ren who lay near death on the ground some distance away. "No! This can't be! I'm an elder! I am the most powerful of my people!"
Kurama let the ki surge from his body to the orb, feeding the orb then shoved his palms upward. "Not anymore!" He shouted as the sphere zoomed towards the unmoving form of Kagone, the second right behind. The two clashed together into the elder, his screams of rage and agony short lived as the energy ripped through him, obliterating his body, the explosion shaking the ground and the whole mountainside. The air cleared, allowing the sun to rain down upon them in warm waves.
Kurama smiled as his energy left him, reverting to his human form as he collapsed down to his knees.
Botan cried out and ran to his side, wrapping her arms around him. She buried her face in his neck, her voice muffled. "I thought you were going to die. I thought.. I saw.. All those things Ren did to you. I'm so sorry."
The kitsune pulled her closer to him, inhaling the scent of her as he nuzzled her hair and whispered. "It doesn't matter, love. All that matters to me is that you're alive and well. That I am in your heart and your thoughts. That I am the one you love."
Botan pulled back, tears in her eyes as she reached up to cup his face. "I love you, Kurama. And I always will."
The red head smiled and leaned in, brushing his lips over hers, deepening it when his mate responded heatedly.
"Hn.. Shameless." Hiei sounded out as he watched the reunited lovers, though a smirk played on his lips.
"Nothing wrong with smooching, if you ask me." Yusuke said with a grin, thoughts of Keiko dancing in his head.
"Yeah, you said it Urameshi." Kuwabara replied, his bruised features twisting into a look of a love struck puppy. "I can't wait to see Yukina again."
"Touch her inappropriately and you die." Hiei warned.
Kuwabara blanched but growled. "Back off, shrimp! I wouldn't hurt your sister!"
Kurama pulled away from the kiss as the two men began to banter back and forth, chuckling and rising to his feet, pulling Botan with him. His features became somber as he felt a faint energy several yards away. He led Botan over to the rubble, pushing the rocks aside from the limp arm sticking out. Uncovering the broken and bloodied body of Ren.
The dark haired man's gaze was unfocused, his voice weak as he croaked out, "Is... he dead?"
Kurama nodded, his voice soft and calm. "Yes."
A smile pulled at the younger man's lips. "Good." He cried out suddenly, looking around frantically, "Brother? Brother.. where are you? I'm.." He choked out, his voice trailing off to a sigh as the last of his life force. Eyes trained up at the sky, but unseeing.
Kurama shook his head, reaching out to close Ren's eyelids shut. "He wanted revenge so badly, he became the very thing he hated. And in the end, it cost him his life."
Botan took Kurama's hand in hers and the kitsune turned to study her. "I feel sorry for him, Kurama. He was sick inside. But underneath it all, there was a scared boy who just wanted his family back. I can understand why he wanted revenge."
The fox spirit nodded, his voice soft as he rose and pulled the deity with him. "Yes, the reason is understandable but the method is unforgivable. Ren will be judged for his crimes and punished accordingly. Though I don't think we would have won without him."
Botan tugged Kurama gently towards her. "Let's go home, Kurama."
The kitsune smiled and wrapped his arm around her waist, walking back over to the group that had gathered in the undamaged part of the courtyard.
An investigation was conducted by Torandai, into the matter of Kagone's atrocities and the dead elder was found guilty of his crimes. The laws in Reikai were changed to allow marriage between realms. And the elders were disbanded. A more democratic process was instituted and the people of Reikai would decide their own fates and the fate of their kingdoms. Ren and Tahomen were granted the possibility of moving on, despite their wrong doing, but not until serving a sentence in purgatory. Kigorei was reunited with his family on the spiritual plane as was Ailia for her part in protecting Botan. Lina, the lone survivor of the group, was sentenced to two hundred years in spirit world jail for her crimes.
The spirit detectives were pardoned of any wrong doing and hereby retired from Koenma's service and rewarded for their efforts with enough money to keep them happy all their lives. Yusuke went on to marry Keiko and the two own a Ramen shop near their home. Kuwabara and Yukina also tied the knot and are expecting their first child this summer. Hiei and Mukuro are life mates, constantly training in Makai and working on providing an heir to their kingdom.
And as for Kurama and Botan...
"Daddy, daddy, please can we have another story!" A little red haired girl pouted as she tugged at her father's sleeve. The man looked down at the girl's pleading amethyst eyes and smiled, patting her head then motioned to the slightly older blue haired boy with bright green eyes to join them.
"What story do you want to hear, Aiko?" He asked the little girl who tapped her lips, a habit picked up from her mother no doubt, he thought with a smile as he waited.
"I want to hear the one about the fox thief!" The boy interjected before his sister could answer.
"No fair, Konrei! Daddy said I could pick!" Aiko protested.
"Now, now children. No fighting." Kurama said with a smile. "How about I tell you both the tale of how the fox thief won the heart of the beautiful ferry girl?"
Aiko's face lit up while Konrei's features scowled.
"I don't like mushy stuff!" The boy growled, crossing his arms. Again, a trait he'd learned from his mother.
"Ah, but it has all kinds of glorious battles in between. Lots of stuff for you to enjoy, my son."
The boy relaxed then nodded as did the girl. They settled down into their beds as their father told them the story, near the end of which the girl asked, "How did the ferry girl know that the fox thief was in love with her, daddy?"
A woman's voice floated into the room and the red head turned to find his wife studying him with twinkling eyes. "Because the fox thief risked his life and everything that he was for her happiness." She answered for her husband as she leaned against the door frame. "The bond they formed was more lasting than the afterlife itself. And when they're gone, they'll meet again and again. A thousand lifetimes from now. For one cannot live without the other."
"Is that true, daddy?" Aiko asked, ignoring her brother's soft snoring.
Kurama smiled and turned his attention back to his daughter. "Yes, Aiko, it is." Leaning down his kissed the girl's forehead, then repeated the gesture on the forehead of his sleeping son. "Get some sleep, sweetheart. Remember that mommy and daddy love you."
"Okay, daddy." Aiko whispered then closed her eyes.
Kurama smiled and rose up and walked over to Botan, wrapping his arm around her as he shut off the light and closed the door behind them.
The deity embraced him in the hallway, her head resting on his shoulder. "Did I tell you how much I love you today?"
The kitsune chuckled and turned to nuzzle then kiss his wife's crown. "Yes, and I never tire of it, Botan."
Raising her head, the ex-ferry girl looked into his eyes and leaned up to kiss him. "I love you." She murmured against his lips.
Kurama pulled her tight to him, returning the kiss then nibbled on her bottom lip. "And I love you." He whispered, a twinkle in his eyes.
Botan knew that look and giggled. Leaning back she took his hands in hers, her features coy yet seductive. "Come to bed, Kurama."
The kitsune grinned and followed her, pulling her into his arms, lifting her as she giggled again and wrapped her arms around his neck. He took her into their room and closed the door, laying her on the bed then joined her. They made love long into the night then rested together, wrapped in each other's arms and dreaming of their future together.
God, this was the hardest chapter I've ever written in my life. I'm not happy with it, but at last this epic is complete. I thank everyone who stuck by this story. And for my beloved Jennie, this is for you. I love you, sweetheart. Always and forever. - James