Disclaimer: Naruto belongs only to Masashi Kishimoto, not poor college students.
A/N: FINALLY done! Did not enjoy writing this, since it was one of those times where what is in the head will not come out on paper right.
Well anyway, enjoy!
'2 or more speaking'
Chapter 16: Demon Hunter
'Kariudo Asura,' Kyuubi growled. 'The Demon Hunter.'
'Why do you think that the only demons you've heard about are the Nine Demon Lords? It's because he's hunted down all the lesser demons and taken their power for himself, turning him into something that is not quite a demon, but no longer human, either.'
'Like a half-demon?'
Kariudo certainly looked enough like one. Almost as tall as Jiraiya, he stared down at Narashi and Kakashi from his perch with red eyes brimming with power, the cat-like pupils almost nonexistent. His wide smirk, akin to that of a cat that had found a mouse to play with, revealed sharp fangs, long enough to jut past his lip. A short, scraggly beard framed a broad face, covered in scars. The most prominent of these were two that went across the nose from cheek to cheek, and another that started from the left temple to the right side of the chin. Short, dark-brown hair spiked up at the front, a gust of wind revealing rather long hair in the back, pulled into a thin ponytail by a roll of bandages.
The Hunter's clothing looked similar to what ANBU wore, minus the armor; a skin-tight, black sleeveless shirt, dark pants, and high boots. He didn't wear any gloves, likely because his claws would've easily torn through the fabric. The cloth was ripped in several places, as if he had recently gotten out of a fight.
Kariudo's chakra, though, was extremely unnerving. Narashi couldn't say exactly why, but he couldn't stop a snarl from coming to his face, a growl rumbling in his throat, his fur standing on end at just being in his presence. Perhaps it had something to do with what Kyuubi had said about him absorbing the chakra of other demons, the knowledge sending his instincts on edge.
'No, not a half-demon. His blood remains human, for the most part, but his chakra is what has been altered, which is what affects his appearance.'
'You said that he was the one who exterminated most of the demons. But didn't that happen over-?'
'Two-hundred years ago, yes.'
'Absorbing all those demons could've given him a long life, but I had been certain that I'd finally killed him years ago. That's why I was so shocked to see him. I'll give you the details later if you want them, but now isn't the time. Whatever brought him back, we can worry about it later. Avoiding a fight now is impossible. He's too fast to outrun, and with the healing ability he's gained, it'll take a powerful attack to knock him down and keep him that way long enough to escape. Just whatever you do, don't let him grab you when his chakra turns black.'
Kakashi answered Naruto's question in place of Kyuubi, having already guessed the answer. 'That's how he absorbs a demon's chakra, right?'
'Correct. At your current power level, you don't stand a chance if he grabs you.'
'We'll keep that in mind.'
As Narashi listened to Kyuubi's explanation, Kakashi glared up at their attacker, trying to glean any information about him from his appearance. He couldn't match his description to any bingo book he'd ever seen, and the lack of any visible hitai-ate didn't tell him much.
Could he be a demon? he thought, noticing some of the same features he's seen on Narashi. He looks enough like one. And his chakra…
Kakashi glanced down at Narashi, who stood tense on his left, growling at the man, who chuckled at the sight.
"Do you know him?" Kakashi asked, turning his eyes back to the man.
Narashi glanced up at him. "Of him, yeah. His name's Kariudo Asura, and he's a demon hunter. He defeats them, and then steals their chakra. That's why he looks like one. I don't know if it'll affect you, but don't let him touch you when his chakra is black."
"Well, it looks like my reputation amongst demons is still going strong, though I'm surprised there are any left," Kariudo said in a rough, gravelly voice. "I had thought that in my years of absence, though, that it would've been lost. Certainly seemed so when I visited that small village in the north."
Kariudo covered his face with a hand, shaking his head as if in disbelief. "I know that the memories of human mortals is short, but for not one person to recognize me despite all the work I did to create a legendary reputation…not even those masked ninjas with the leaf symbol knew anything. And here I've heard that information was their specialty." He removed his hand, revealing a gleeful grin that sent shivers down both their spines. "I guess I'll just have to start building a new one all over again. Those villagers and ninja gave me a wonderful appetizer after my long sleep. But appetizer is all they were.
"You two, who hold the power of demons within you, can be my meal," he finished, suddenly standing directly behind them.
Narashi and Kakashi both gasped, turning around to see Kariudo's grinning face, a mad, hungry glint in his eyes.
"But let's have a little game I like to play first, shall we?" he said, raising his hands, one pointing at each of them. "I'll be the cat, while you two play as the desperate mice."
As he spoke the last word, he released a burst of chakra from both his hands which blasted into the other two like a gale, sending them to the ground below, crashing into several branches along the way.
Kakashi lay on the ground, completely stunned by the impact. After a moment, he picked himself off the ground, pulling his hitai-ate up as well, knowing that he needed every advantage against this opponent.
He'd barely started looking around, already starting to feel the strain of revealing the sharingan when Kariudo's scarred face stood directly in front of him once again. At the sight of the implanted Kekkei Genkai, his eyes widened for a brief moment before an amused smirk made its way across his face.
"So the Hatake has one of the Uchiha eyes," he chuckled. "This could make things much more interesting."
Kakashi barely registered the man's words, too shocked by what he could see through his left eye.
When he had first seen Narashi's chakra through the sharingan, he had been surprised and a little frightened by what he saw. That kind of combination of three different chakra types, one of which was purely demonic had been hard to believe possible, and he hadn't know how to react. Even now, despite how many times they'd trained since, Kakashi still felt a little uneasy whenever he saw Narashi's unnatural chakra sometimes.
The chaos that was Kariudo Asura's chakra blew any remaining hesitations about Narashi clear out of his mind.
Every color available swirled within his body, creating a nauseating kaleidoscope of color. Red, yellow, blue; orange, green, purple; white, brown, black. All of them blending and shifting to create an even wider array of color, not one spot remaining the same color for more than an instant.
The source of it all appeared to be a window to the deepest pits of hell, so deep was the darkness. Like a black hole, it seemed more to absorb the chakra around it in a swirling vortex rather than spread it out.
Extending out from the body were hundreds of chakra tendrils, each one a different size and color, waving about rather lazily. There were so many, in fact, that it was actually rather difficult to tell where the body ended and chakra began. Thinking about what Narashi had told him about Kariudo made Kakashi quickly realize something. If he absorbs the chakra of demons, then those must be…
Any further thoughts slammed to a halt when Kariudo's chakra suddenly flared, shooting waves of pain through the sharingan, forcing him to close it with a pained grunt, his hand coming up to clutch at it.
"A pity that such an eye is useless against me."
Before he could respond to that, the man's palm slammed into Kakashi's chest, sending him back several feet to slam into a tree. The impact forced the air from his lung, blood splattering against his cloth mask as the remaining breath was released.
Falling to his knees, coughing and gasping for air, Kakashi failed to notice Kariudo sending him a questioning glance, looking almost confused about something.
"Strange," he said, walking towards Kakashi. "Normally I can sense the strength of one's chakra by that attack. And yet, with you, I could not, like I had been blocked by something." He stopped in front of the jounin, reaching out a clawed hand to grab him. "Now, tell me, why is that?"
"You won't get the chance to find out!"
The foliage around them exploded into action as several of Narashi's humanoid clones descended on Kariudo, forcing him to leap back. They continued attacking en masse with taijutsu, their main objective being to just keep him busy. A smirk once more spread wide on his face, he easily dodged the attacks, slipping around each attempt.
While they kept him away, the real Narashi and another clone landed next to Kakashi, who was starting to breathe easier again.
"Are you okay?" Narashi asked, quickly smelling the blood on Kakashi breath.
"I'll be fine," Kakashi answered, bringing a hand up to his hitai-ate, pushing it back down over his eye. After what had just happened, it would just be a waste to keep it uncovered. "Just caught me by surprise is all. Didn't expect to see what I did."
"Fill me in on the details later, right now I need to get you out of here," Narashi's clone said, lifting one of Kakashi's arms over his shoulder, standing up.
"I told you, I'm fine," he protested, pulling his arm from the clone's grip, only to stumble on his feet from a sudden bout of dizziness. Only the clone's returned grip on his arm kept him from falling back to the ground.
Narashi looked up at them from glancing at the fight taking place nearby, worried that half his clones had already been defeated. "You're not fine," he said to the pale jounin. "Whatever he did is still affecting you. Take the time to catch your breath and formulate some kind of plan. I'll keep him busy until then."
Narashi turned back to face Kariudo, after making sure the two had left, just in time to see the last of his clones get destroyed by the still smirking Demon Hunter.
"I hope that's not the best you can do, little fox. I'm starting to get rather bored with this. Come on, now." He spread his arms, making himself a clear target. "If you truly have something more than what I've seen, hit me with it right now. Give a reason to think that you are not just a waste of my time to play with."
Narashi growled, tensing. Time to test the real limits of this body.
"Try saying that after getting a taste of this!" he yelled, leaping high into the air.
Surrounding himself in blades of wind, Narashi curled in on himself, flying towards the still grinning face of Kariudo Asura like a spinning buzz saw. Teeth and claws bared, he slammed into the Hunter's left shoulder, tearing through skin, muscle, and bone like tissue paper. Something felt off as he did so, but with his concentration on the attack, he pushed the brief worry to the back of his mind.
Skidding to a halt behind Kariudo, excess chakra digging a deep furrow into the ground, he turned around, expecting to see a lot of damage done by the attack, even though he know that it would likely heal soon. His experience with such abilities, though, told him that the greater the damage, the longer it took to heal.
Which is why his jaw dropped as the dirt tossed up by his landing cleared. Despite the fact that he had felt his attack hit, there was no sign of it on his opponent except for a shredded shirt. No wound, no scar, not even any blood!
That's what it was! he thought with a jolt. That's why I thought something was wrong when I attacked him. There was no blood!
"Was that supposed to hurt?" Kariudo asked, looking over his shoulder at them. "That barely tickled."
Narashi bared his teeth with a growl, forcing himself from his shock, before sending out another barrage of clones to give himself time to think.
'Dammit! How could he heal so quickly? Even if he gained super-fast healing from all those demons, shouldn't it take longer to heal that kind of damage?'
'I'm wondering more about he lack of blood. Even if the blood had already clotted even as we were attacking, to the point where there wouldn't be any sign of it , we still should've been able to feel it.'
'That may have something to do with how he's alive now.'
'H-he's not a-?'
'No, he is not an undead,' Kyuubi answered before Naruto could finish, obviously rolling his eyes. 'You would've known by now if he was.'
They heard the fox demon sigh loudly, muttering to himself, 'I hate it when plans never stay on track.
'Just keep bombarding him with your strongest attacks. Everything has its limit, and sooner or later, that little pest will slow down long enough for me to give you a power boost. A little earlier than I would like, but the situation calls for it. Maybe then you might be able to hit him hard enough for you to escape.'
'He's hardly a 'little pest', Kyuubi. And this isn't exactly the best time for us to collapse after receiving one of your 'power boosts'. The first two weren't exactly enjoyable, after all.'
'I'll deal with that, just don't expect it be pleasant later on. Now get moving!'
Narashi quickly obeyed the fox's order by jumping away from a chakra blast sent by Kariudo, similar to the attack he had used when they encountered him.
"You really just a one-trick-pony, aren't you, Fox?" he asked as he clapped his hands together, frowning like a child who no longer liked his new toy. "With such interesting chakra, I thought you'd be fun to play with for a little while. But all you've done is stand there sending more of your weak clone army while doing nothing. Not even hiding to make me find you."
A dark circle spread across the ground around him, trapping everything in is circumference, freezing them in place.
Hundreds of black lightning bolts shot up from the circle, striking and piercing everything within it. With yells of pain and shock, all of Narashi's clones burst with their signature cloud of smoke.
Kariudo stared at the spot where Narashi had previously stood as he lowered his hands, the chakra circle receding, only seeing a dissipating smoke cloud.
"Whoever said I wasn't doing anything?!"
Four fox clones, each covered in blue chakra, burst out of the bushes, surrounding the Hunter.
"I've just been spending the time preparing a new attack specially for you!" they all said as one, starting to run in circles around him, faster with every pass until they were just gold and silver blurs.
"OUSATSU ARASHI NO JUTSU!"
The chakra that surrounded them quickly spread out, forming a tornado around Kariudo, who stood in the center as the sharp blades of wind buffeted him, whipping his long hair around. The tornado stretched up above the canopy, shredding any branches in its way, adding them to the growing debris. Clouds congregated near the top, drawn in by its rotation. Soon, there was a thick blanket of swirling, storm grey clouds covering the area.
With a thunderous roar, a giant bolt of lightning shot down the center of the tornado from the clouds, striking its target in full force.
Narashi landed a short distance away, breathing heavily, shaking from the chakra loss over that technique. Unable to support his weight for very long, his legs collapsed underneath him, covered in chakra burns. Having been at the head of that lightning bolt as it struck down, this came as no surprise to him.
"If that…didn't slow him…down some…then I don't know…what will…" Narashi panted to himself, staring at he spot where Kariudo should be, waiting for the dust to clear.
'We really should practice combining our elements a bit more before trying something like that again. It's amazing something hasn't happened to us yet, actually, due to the opposition of our chakra elements. Honestly surprised that worked as well as it did. I thought the wind would cancel the lightning bolt out.'
'Don't celebrate just yet. You don't know if it actually did anything or not. For now, best find somewhere to hide before he comes after you again.'
Honestly, Narashi didn't think he could even stand right now, let alone hide. He didn't understand how he could be so tired. He knew he hadn't spent enough chakra to exhaust himself this much, so why?
The sound of something brought his attention back to his opponent, eyes wide at what he was hearing.
Laughter? Why is he-?
The smoke had mostly cleared by now, revealing Kariudo standing in the middle of a cleared area, the charred ground showing clear signs of having been struck by lightning. He stood there, bent over slightly, his shirt reduced to threads the only sign of the attack on him once again, hand on his face, laughing like a man crazed with power.
Exactly what he was, Narashi realized, as he started speaking between his laughter.
"What power!" he muttered. "To think that a mere two-tails could put so much power into an attack! Hahaha…I can just imagine how much it has stored within itself, just waiting to be released. I must have it. I must have it ALL!"
At the final word, Kariudo turned his head towards Narashi with a hungry, earsplitting grin and eyes widened to the point that they were in danger of falling out, pupils contracted to almost nothing.
"Shit," Narashi swore, as the Hunter started running towards him, though not as fast as before, as if his power craze interfered with his normal abilities. He tried to get up to run away, knowing what Kariudo planned to do, but barely managed two steps back before stumbling again.
'Now would be a really good time for that third tail, Kyuubi!'
'I know, but don't let him-!'
Kyuubi didn't get the chance to finish as Kariudo skid to a halt in front of him, stooping down to grab him. Narashi tried to leap away, but not fast enough before he was lifted off the ground by one of his tails, a yelp escaping him at the sudden painful pressure on it.
"Give it to me!" Kariudo demanded, "You're power belongs to me!"
"Let go of-!" Narashi started, reaching back to bite the hand holding him when he caught sight of the thick black chakra surrounding his arm.
That was the last thing he saw before all he knew was pain.
A/N: What? Surely you didn't expect me to NOT end on a cliffhanger (if a rather cliche line XP).
Not quite where I wanted to end it originally, but still a good place to stop in order to get this out after too long. Still would've been a cliff either way. ;)
Kariudo is rather difficult to write, actually. He's either bordering on chakra-high insanity or something else I'm too tired to think of right now. :\
Tsumekaze: Whirlwind Claw (literally claw-wind, or wind-claw).
Ankoku Raiun: Dark Thunderstorm
Ousatsu Arashi no Jutsu: Striking Storm Technique
Hope you enjoyed it. Thank you all so, SO much for your patience and all your lovely, lovely reviews. :) They make me oh so happy, and kept me on this storyline for the past 2 years and more.