A/N: Holy crap, I can't believe that I've actually finished a story. It's a bloody miracle rolls over and dies That's right, this is the last chapter of the story (grins) I think that I'm happy with how all of this has turned out. There is one thing that I want to comment on though: You may have noticed that there hasn't been too much romance with Hiei. The reason for this is because I was using this first story to just kind of ease them into what will be their relationship. The actual romance will come in the sequel.
Speaking of which, I'm putting up the sequel at the same time as I'm posting this. So you can go check it out right away (grins again) I'm also posting a new story that I've been working on for almost a year now. It's in the Naruto genre and is called "Even After All These Years". Please check it out!
Well, please read, review, and enjoy the final chapter! Ja ne!
Disclaimer: I do not own Yu Yu Hakusho or any related names or items. Kiara is owned by Yusuke'sSister.
Claimer: I do own the plot line, the title, the Kuro Tournament, Kristy, Jason, Jessica, Chris, Bashere, Rhurac, and anything else related to them.
(1) - I have a picture of what Bashere looks like, outfit and all. There's a link to it in my profile, under the pics section.
(2) - I have no idea what the character for "warlord" actually is and have been unable to find it. However, I'm guessing that most likely it's more than one character, or is "shogun" or something like that. For the purposes of this story however, I'm bending reality and saying that "warlord" is just one character.
Thanks to my beta reader, Anna Jaganshi!
Of Truth & Lies
The next two days passed in whirlwind of activity. After my little "chat" with the Jagan I'd returned to the hotel for lunch. Since then I'd trained almost nonstop with all of my friends, mainly in all-out battles with them. It'd been fairly difficult, but fun in a twisted way.
My friends had been treating me like a time bomb waiting to go off. They needn't have worried; my anger was simmering now, burning lowly and waiting for when I could have my revenge. I certainly was still angry, but I was determined now too. I may not have even been anywhere near Jason's skill level, but I would win.
Before I knew it the third day had dawned and I was walking down the long hallway toward the arena. I was alone as the others had to go to the seating, and I was feeling unusually tense. It should be Jason walking down this hall, I thought. Not me. Not me.
Irregardless, I was the one walking towards the arena. Though determined, I was also a bundle of nerves. Bashere was insane and thus highly unpredictable. He could probably kill me pretty easily if he had the yearning to. I would just have to play my cards right and pray to Kami that I'd be able to kill him.
Before I knew it, I was entering the waiting room outside of the arena. I hesitated for a moment over the threshold, half wishing that the walk had taken longer. I was as ready as I'd ever be for something like this though, so I took a deep breath and pushed onward.
The room was empty except for the red skinned, white haired youkai who'd announced the match-ups during the tournament. It felt so strange to see the large room so empty. Before it'd always been filled with youkai and I'd always been there with my team...With Jason...I swallowed the lump that was forming in the back of my throat and approached the other youkai.
As I stopped before him, the youkai bowed deeply to me. "Good luck, Kristy-sama," he said softly without looking up.
I felt awkwardness welling up within me as I shifted uncomfortably. I really wasn't used to being treated like this.
"Thank you," I murmured and bowed slightly in return. As I turned toward the large double doors I didn't notice his eyes widen in surprise.
Taking a deep breath, I strode up to the doors. I hesitated for a moment and only a moment before pushing open both of the doors, my head held high. Instantly, the sound of roaring cheers met my ears, slamming into me with an almost physical force. My eyes widened as the crowd went absolutely insane, but I hid my surprise and continued forward.
With sure steps--though I wasn't quite feeling that way on the inside--I strode across the field in the middle of the arena. Bashere was already standing there, waiting.
As soon as I laid eyes on that vile youkai fury flared up within me. Here was the youkai whom had so casually killed Jason, and he was just standing there...!
At the same time, seeing him caused me to feel some small measure of guilt. After all, the only reason Bashere had killed Jason was because he'd wanted to fight me. Me. If only I hadn't caught Bashere's interest, if only...
No, I though suddenly, my eyes narrowing into a venomous glare. I couldn't and wouldn't shift the blame onto myself. Regardless of my actions, Bashere had done what he'd done completely by his own choice. No matter how much I wished otherwise, there was nothing that I could have done.
As I came to a stop before Bashere I continued to glare at him, attempting to pour all of my hate into my gaze. He, however, only smiled widely down at me. Now that I knew what to look for, I could clearly see an insane glint in his fathomless gaze. It sent shivers down my spine.
"Welcome one and all," the announcer suddenly boomed out over the noise of the crowd, which then began to settle down, "To the final fight of the Kuro Tournament! We have seen many great battles and many great fighters. It's all come to an end though with Team Kagekaze coming out on top!" The announcer had to pause for a minute as the crowd roared their approval once more. Once they'd quieted down again he said, "Now it has come down to the title match between Team Kagekaze's captain and Lord Bashere for the honor of the title Battle Lord of Makai.
"As I'm sure many of you have heard however, captain Jason is...unable to attend. In his place his vice-captain Kristy will be fighting. In this match there are no rules. Winner is the one left standing. Both fighters ready? Shihajimeru!"
While the announcer spoke I glared coldly at Bashere. The bastard just smirked all the while, seemingly unfazed by my actions. I also took the time to really study Bashere. He was wearing a red hooded cloak that was embroidered with gold and black. It looked quite elegant, even on--or perhaps especially on--him. He wore a black outfit underneath that that was mostly hidden.
What really caught my eye though were the metal boots and gauntlets that he wore. The gloves had sharp claws attached to the fingertips, making his hands almost look like a lion's paws(1). He had no other visible weapon, though with his cloak mostly obscuring him, that wasn't saying much.
As soon as the announcer called out the start of the match I pulled out both of my katana and poured youki into them. Black flames sprung up instantly. This was a new technique I'd up come with only a day before. It combined both my fire and my shadows.
Without hesitating I struck out at Bashere. As the blades moved they left a trail of black behind them that moved slower, as if made of some heavier matter than regular fire, which indeed it was. Irregardless, Bashere easily caught one of my katana between his metal claws and shoved me back. I frowned heavily then, noticing his extreme strength and speed.
I pushed my thoughts away however and proceeded to slash at Bashere again and again, testing him. Each time he managed to either block or slip out of the way with disturbing, and, in a way, terrifying, ease.
Finally, as I stepped back, Bashere seemed to have had enough. He clashed with his claws but, surprisingly, not directly at me. Rather, he just slashed diagonally though the air between the two of us.
My confusions was remedied just moments later as the air that his claws had passed though seemed to explode outward with pure energy. The force of it threw me backwards, causing me to tumble a couple of times before I managed to land in a crouch.
I watched Bashere warily. Now that I thought about it I realized that I didn't even know what type of youkai Bashere was. He had no defining features and I'd never heard anyone mention it before. I swore mentally; before I'd always had at least some kind of an idea of what my opponent did. But now...Now I was fighting blind.
Bashere waited patiently for me to recover, seemingly completely unconcerned. I snarled lowly at the insult and quickly ran at him again. Before I could reach him however, Bashere slashed at me once more.
This time, before the shockwave could reach me I made a sweeping motion with one arm. Instantaneously shadows rose upward in the shape of a shield before me. Though it shook with the force, the shield managed to absorb the impact of Bashere's attack. It then quickly melted back into the ground, unable to hold its shape any longer.
I couldn't stop the grin that came to my face. Good; at least I had some way to combat against Bashere. In fact, this battle might best be fought without any blades at all. Thoughtfully, I glanced down at my two katana before coming to a decision. I abruptly took my youki from them and put them back in their sheathes.
As I turned my attention back onto Bashere I slid down into a fight stance, my fists up before me. At the same time I called up black shadow-flames around my fists. Now ready to fight, my grin gained an almost feral edge.
This time I didn't give Bashere a chance to attack me first. Instead I suddenly struck out with my fists from where I was standing. Instantly the shadow-fire flew from my fist in the form of large fireballs. Reacting immediately, Bashere twisted around to avoid the attacks. I continued to fight offensively, never letting up on a constant barrage of fire, shadows, and my shadow-fire.
Bashere avoided them all. It seemed that, no matter what I did, Bashere was always one step ahead of me. No matter how fast I moved, he was always faster. No matter how creative I tried to be, he always outwitted me. Slowly, I was starting to realize just how good Bashere really was.
Starting to get desperate, I sent out several normal fireballs in quick succession. Hidden amongst them were also tendrils of shadow-fire. When Bashere moved out of the way of the fireballs he was, to my luck, caught by surprise by the shadow-fire. It quickly moved as I instructed and wrapped around Bashere's shoulders.
For one moment of immense joy I thought that I finally had Bashere. Then, quite suddenly, the fire exploded outward, pushed away from him by some unseen force. I cursed inwardly as I allowed the shadow fire to dissipate, only to grin abruptly as I got a good look at Bashere: his cloak was singed. Good. This proved that he wasn't infallible. Not that I hadn't already known that, of course, but it was nice to see some solid proof directly in from of me.
Unfortunately, this turn in the battle also finally evoked a change in Bashere. His expression went from surprised, to angry, to confused, to almost gleeful. Finally he cackled loudly.
"Ah, so the wolf can bite back, can she?" he commented. "Good, good. This'll make things at least a bit more interesting."
I snarled wordlessly at him. Was he mocking me? Or did he honestly think that little of me? If that was the truth, then why the hell did he go through all the trouble of killing Jason, just so that he'd be able to fight me?
"Don't mock me," I growled out dangerously. Reacting to my extreme anger my youki rose up to the surface of my skin, manifesting itself as shadow-flames all over my body. I was literally on fire and my eyes were lit with power. I was going to destroy Bashere, no matter the cost.
Without waiting for Bashere to react, I suddenly rushed at him. I was moving fast than I ever had before, though I barely even noticed. Using just the claws on my hands--one of the pluses to being an ookami youkai--I swiped at Bashere. Shadow-fire trailed along the path of my claws. Before I could even touch my opponent however, my claws were stopped by some invisible force.
Bashere grinned tauntingly at me as I struggled against whatever was holding my back. He flicked a finger then and I was suddenly thrown back with extreme force. I couldn't help but let out a cry as my back met the cold stone of the stadium wall. The stone actually cracked a bit behind me before I fell to the ground on my hands and knees.
As I panted heavily on the ground, attempting to keep the pain at bay, I glared up at Bashere as he slowly approached me. What the hell kind of youkai was he? As if sensing my thoughts, Bashere suddenly spoke.
"See, you're not the only psychic around here," he said. My eyes widened in surprise. Psychic? Bashere was a psychic youkai?! "Do you see now what you can do when you're fully trained? But you--" He scoffed. "--You use your abilities for simple mind tricks. You turn a blind eye to everything else that it can accomplish and just use your other abilities for fighting."
While he spoke Bashere lifted his hands up before him. Nearly invisible energy crackled between his palms, a testament to his strength.
I quickly scrambled to my feet, ignoring my protesting ribs. However, I couldn't help but think that Bashere was at least partly true, loathe as I was to agree with anything that he said. I never had thought much about using my psychic abilities for anything but telepathy and astral projection. Granted though, I'd never known that anyone could control their psychic ability the way that he could.
Now that I really thought about it, it actually did make sense that Bashere was a psychic youkai. After all, my mother had been a half psychic, half wind youkai and she was to be married to Bashere as a union between two clans. It would be logical if Bashere was either a psychic or wind youkai.
I frowned at Bashere. He was a fool to so openly give me such information; it would have been smarter to keep me in the dark. Did he think that it didn't matter if he lost that advantage, or was it just his insanity talking? After all, any good fighter knew better than to underestimate their opponent. Damn, the whole Bashere-is-insane thing could be so confusing.
Almost unconsciously, I heard something from above me. It should have been impossible since the roar of the crowd was enough to drown out almost anything, but it caused me to look up anyway, perhaps instinctually. Straight up the wall behind me, up to where the edge of the first row of seating was, I saw a pair of crimson red eyes.
He was leaning over the edge of the railing in front of the seating, staring down at me. My sharp eyes easily picked him out of the many youkai looking down without even really meaning to, my gaze locking onto his.
I stared at him for several long moments before turning back to Bashere again. 'Hiei...' My fists tightened. 'I will win this.'
Without a second thought, I tore across the arena towards Bashere once more, my claws slicing through the air. Bashere brought that invisible shield of his up once more, but this time I was ready for it and I immediately ripped it to shreds with my own psychic power. Shock showed on Bashere's face for a few scant seconds as I sailed past his defense before it was replaced with pain as my claws sunk into his flesh.
I lingered before Bashere for only a moment, savoring this new turn in the battle, before darting out of his reach. Bashere, meanwhile, let out a ferocious, inhuman roar that echoed through the stadium, even as the crowd went wild at the sight of Bashere's blood--I had drawn first blood in the fight, I realized offhandedly. As Bashere's eyes met mine I saw that his pupils had completely swallowed the rest of his eyes, leaving them pure black. On Bashere, it was beyond disconcerting.
Something else had caught my eye however. Through the area where Bashere's shirt had been cut, I could see a tattoo on his chest, right over where his heart was. It was the Japanese character for "warlord"(2).
Bashere's eyes followed my gaze and he let out a toothy grin. "See that?" he asked roughly. His voice had a much more abrasive quality than usual. "That's the mark of the Battle Lord of Makai. You will never have it."
Without hesitating for even a moment Bashere suddenly went on the offensive. His claws sang though the air as he sent slash after slash of power at me. I immediately pulled up a shield of shadows, pouring as much power into it as I could. The shield shook with each and every blow that hit it, but just barely managed to hold.
Finally, after what seemed like hours but was probably not even a minute, the attacks stopped. I held completely still for a moment, just to make sure that the barrage was over. I was just about to peek around the shield when a final blast, far stronger than all of the rest, slammed into my shadow shield. The shadows held for all of half a second before shattering, something which I hadn't previously thought possible for shadows. Bashere's attack continued on and slammed into me, creating three long, deep gashed from my left shoulder to my right hip.
I gasped in shock as I held an arm to the wound, only to have my eyes widen further when Bashere appeared not two feet in front of me, his deadly claws raised above him. Moving as quickly as I could I rolled to the side, out of the way. Basher slammed into the ground next to me, his claws digging into the stone frighteningly easily.
Bashere yanked his claws out of the ground and turned to me. Thinking desperately, I did the only thing that I could do in the position: At the same time that Bashere released a physic attack, I let out a large blast of flames. The two attacks collided and then exploded outwards, throwing both Bashere and I backwards.
I didn't take the time to recover, but instead quickly leapt to my feet and continued to attack with as much energy as I could muster. Bashere did the same thing, though of course with psychic energy instead of fire. Barely paying any attention to anything other than the two of us, we attacked, and attacked, and attacked, throwing everything we had at each other.
Though I hadn't really noticed it, an inferno had built up around us, feeding off our youki and stretching more than twenty feet up in the air. Flashes of physic energy and my shadow-fire showed themselves among it. Bashere and I paid our surroundings no mind however as neither of us were touched by the flames--me because as I fire youkai I was invulnerable to fire, and Bashere because his psychic abilities kept it at bay.
Though I hated him with all of my being, I couldn't help but marvel at how he fought. He was both graceful and powerful, like some force of nature. And he was quickly beginning to wear me down.
Before long I knew that I was starting to run low on energy. As much...fun...as this had been, I needed to wrap things up as soon as possible or I'd never have any chance of defeating Bashere. Though my wound was still throbbing, it was already beginning to heal slowly. My shirt wasn't too ruined from where Bashere had cut through it; thank Kami--that would have been awkward.
As Bashere and I continued to circle around each other, I shoved one hand forward and began to let out a constant stream of fire. At the exact same time I used my other hand to create a stream of psychic energy. Because the two were both fed by my own youki they didn't counteract each other, but instead mixed, creating a high-powered attack.
Bashere's eyes widened at the sight of the unexpected attack. He quickly set up a psychic shield while diving out of the way. Unfortunately for him, his psychic shield reacted strangely with the psychic energy in my attack. As the two met the shield flickered and then began to bend, flexing outward. Bashere was hit by the shield as it moved and was thrown backward, directly into the path of my attack.
A roar echoed through the air as Bashere was hit. For several long seconds my view of him was completely blocked. Then, finally, the last of the smoke dissipated, revealing my hated opponent. I stared.
Bashere was on his knees, bloodied and burnt. His breathing was ragged and, because his head was bent, I couldn't see his face.
I too was breathing quite heavily as I stood, staring at him. I'd used up almost all of my energy with that last attack. I was struggling just to keep on my feet, but somehow managed it.
Once I was sure that I wouldn't collapse, I began to walk slowly towards Bashere. My footsteps rang loudly through the suddenly silent arena. Only when I stopped a foot from him did Bashere raise his head to stare at me. His eyes were glazed over, as if he wasn't really seeing me or anything around me. Still moving slowly, I pulled one of my katana from its sheath and placed it in front of me, resting not an inch from his throat.
"W-we have a winner," the announcer said, his voice--which sounded disbelieving, as if he couldn't quite comprehend what he was seeing--almost made me jump as it cut abrasively through the silence. "Kristy has defeated Bashere in single combat. We have a new Battle Lord!"
Instantly, the crowd let out a roar unlike anything I'd heard before, louder than ever. The inferno that still raged through the field had dropped below the wall, so they could be seen clearly. Almost everyone in the stadium had leapt to their feet and was cheering at the top of their lungs. The sound was literally deafening, especially on sensitive ears like mine.
Slowly, after several minutes, the cheering began to become a clear sentence. "KILL HIM! KILL HIM!" the crowd chanted. They all looked bloodthirsty.
Almost against my will, my hands raised my katana above my head, ready to drop down on Bashere. There, however, I stopped. I had killed before, yes, but that had been in the heat of battle. This was different. It was more like an execution that anything. I knew what I had to do, and wanted to do it for revenge, but...Could I do it? Could I honestly kill anyone, even him, in cold blood like that?
Bashere's eyes sharpened as he caught on to my hesitation. His mouth formed a snarl and he bit out, "I will never fall." Then, before I could even react to his statement, his arm shot out, blue psychic energy crackling around it. From there the energy seemed to explode outward, moving out in wave.
My eyes widened in shock and fear as the wave of energy hit me. At the same time I saw a figure moving rapidly through the flames that surrounded us. Hiei, the fastest of my friends, was dashing toward me, his crimson eyes wide and one hand stretched out. Up in the stands behind him I could just barely make out the terrified faces of the rest of my friends. Then I felt the strangest sensation of sinking into water and I was enveloped by darkness.
I hadn't known that it would be the last time that I'd see my friends for eight years.