A/N: Came down with a minor flu, hence the late update. Now, finally, the Konoha assault comes to an end. Treat this chapter as an aftermath of sorts. Time skip coming up soon, and this story has probably progressed two-thirds of the way already. I think. Anyways, just read on and find out.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto.
I Will Believe
Chapter 43: Shura
"The forests are calm now." Sarutobi muttered as he rubbed his chin, "Seems like Naruto-kun succeeded." Breathing a slight sigh of relief, the Sandaime Hokage turned back to the scene before him, "Now let's just hope Tsunade can work a miracle again."
It wasn't looking good at this moment, for the pain Jiraiya must be going through could be seen from his grimaces. His lips, bleeding from the strength his teeth were biting down on, spoke volumes of the man's pain tolerance.
The Slug Sannin had tried everything in her arsenal, but it would seem that natural energy was truly a force to behold. Power does not come without a price, and it showed here. Life force such as chakra do have connections to natural energy, and yet, because the latter composed of many other bits and pieces that chakra did not, trying to suppress it with simply healing chakra would not work.
Ryusei had been activating his 'Seimei Kikan' (Life Restoration) area-effect seal for the past twenty minutes, and even with that, the wounds on Jiraiya's body gave no signs of healing up. The blood flow was stopped temporarily yes, but one single lapse in concentration would start them up again. It was as frustrating as it was heart wrenching.
Sarutobi, and perhaps, everyone at the scene felt their hearts go out to Tsunade, for the woman must be undergoing one of the worst memories of her life. Years ago, she had been under the same situation, unable to save the one she held dearest then, watching as blood smeared her hands, powerless to stop the Shinigami from taking away Dan. And now, Jiraiya, the one that she had always found relief, comfort and amusement in was slipping away through her fingers, because she had been too weak…
It always came down to this, she had been helpless then, she was helpless now. She tried, Kami knows she tried as hard as she bloody damn could, and yet!
Tears slowly rolled down her cheeks as she saw the agony on Jiraiya's face. Just what was she doing? Was this what she could do as a medic? This was it?
Slowly but surely, her chakra potency rose, glowing brighter than before, her gaze held within them a rage that wasn't present prior to this invasion. True, she had tried while Dan was dying, and she had failed. But so what? That had been more than ten years ago, and her knowledge in medicine now far outstripped what she had known back then. She was a veteran in the field of medical arts, known as one of the world's best at what she did.
So why should be afraid? This man before her had shown no fear when he decided to give up his life to protect her! He who was a joker, an idiot, a lovable pervert!
Gritting her teeth, she forced herself to calm down. There was still time, and as long as that particular factor stayed that way, she would win. Every single medic knew that the true enemy against them during surgeries was time. The patient's vitality was important, but the seconds that pass while they restore that vitality was way more crucial. Medic nins did not fight wars with weapons, they rage havoc against the gods and nature to bring back to life their comrades, friends and precious ones.
Kireki and Minagi were struggling to maintain the chakra flow throughout the seal, seeing how the conflicts and clashes with the natural energy within Jiraiya's body had left them quite exhausted, even if they had only begun doing this half an hour ago. Ryusei, noticing their fatigue, sighed, before gathering a ball of flames in his left hand, "We need Anko."
Thrusting the fire ball into the sky, it exploded in a flashy display of fireworks, and with that, Ryusei turned back to concentrating at the task at hand. Seimen Kikan alone wasn't going to cut it. They needed a Shishou Jin (Four Symbols Formation), which was the basis of their titles. Seiryu of the East, Suzaku of the South, Byakko of the West, Genbu of the North, together, they were the Shi Fukei, and though their Shishou Jin was well-known by most in terms of combat efficiency, the true essence lay in fuinjutsu.
Without Anko, the North would be left wide open, and to form a balance between the different energies, a weird trapezium would eventually arise and hence, the efficiency of the seal and formation would be greatly reduced. It had been extremely hard to find four people with exactly matching essences, Ryusei and Kireki, Minagi and Anko. Beyond that, their essences need to have some form of connection so that the central position, Koryu (Yellow Dragon), would be a projection of all four essences combined.
The situation the Shi Fukei (Four Guardians) had however, was slightly unique. The reason Ryusei was the leader was because, whenever he was in position within the Shisho Jin, the balance with Koryu would never be disrupted. He had a unique quality given his curse that would take up the proportion of essence that was missing and use his own to fill up the gaps. It was extremely damaging to his body, but seeing how the cursed blood of the Kamio clan had special regenerative qualities within them, he would still survive the backlash.
In a few moments, the swirling of leaves was detected, and there she was, along with Team Six, supporting a weakened Gaara. Smiling slightly, he gave a flick of his head, gesturing for her to quickly take up her position.
In an instant she was there, hands already flashing through seals, incorporating her chakra essence into the formation, combing with the other three to achieve that balance that had been much sought after. The change was immediate, no longer was the control resting solely on Ryusei, the effort had been greatly reduced now that all four could evenly shoulder the burden, and it showed in the success in actually stopping the blood flow, whereas before, it had been leaking every now and then.
Tsunade nodded gratefully at the last Guardian and once again focused on the regeneration of life within the Toad Sannin. The Natural energy was still under the impression that anything it would come into contact with was an enemy, and that was because Jiraiya had not used a catalyst to help maintain the stability of that particular energy that this was happening. Natural energy was supposed to be the powerful, but only if it was controlled.
The last thing one needed was for that much power to be running around attacking everything in sight, which, unfortunately, was exactly what it was doing right now. Ignore the fact that it was Jiraiya who conjured it; it was now simply treating Jiraiya as its pathway to the atmosphere, where the need to disperse back into Nature strongly overrode Jiraiya's want for it to recede.
Team Six, especially Naruto, watched on, gaping at the extent of injuries Jiraiya had. The pervert had been one of the strongest people they had ever had the chance of meeting, and to think that he would be reduced to a state such as this, it was horrifying to think that he couldn't recover.
Staring anxiously at the Shi Fukei and Tsunade, it was all they could do, just like everyone else, be it those already there, or the others that were slowly arriving on the scene, to pray for the safety of their Sennin, and the success of the operation.
Time passed, and yet there still seemed to be no way of healing him. The moment the seal was terminated, the wounds would bleed again, and because of this, the constant maintaining of chakra output was severely taxing on four already tired shinobi. Never mind the fact that they had huge chakra reserves, it was the constant, precise control of the chakra they released that was tiring.
Almost every single Shinobi in the village had gathered there, watching on helplessly, unable to lend a hand even as the elite of them were trying to save a man's life. Sarutobi himself had contemplated substituting one of them to let them have a break in between, yet the fact remained that he had close to no idea how this seal worked, as his interest had always been in jutsu used by a single individual, not bothering to go into formations. Hence, he continued with his task, creating an area-wide dome so as to recycle the chakra used.
This was a technique originally designed for meditation purposes, rarely ever used in operations simply because the chakra emitted by this dome might interfere with the medical chakra of the operation. Sarutobi had, on the spot, made use of years of research and experience in the field of jutsu execution, and altered the technique so that he would be the primary focus of the jutsu, making it as if the dome was designed for his meditation, instead of the healing that was happening within it, that way, the chakra would circle around his being, while at the same time, returning the chakra dispersed in the air back through to him. The second bit was tougher, where he would be the catalyst, sending the chakra back into all the individuals, through a complicated process that involved diffusion of the energies using the air as a medium.
Needless to say, everyone was impressed by the 'Professor', and the ones taking part in the surgery were extremely grateful seeing how because of this, they could now continue for much longer than before.
Tsunade had never shown a sign of giving up, trying out fifty different methods of healing. It was incredible to see the blonde woman pull out one way after another, aiming chakra at different parts of the body, different organs and spots where she would forcefully implant her chakra into the body to see if the Natural energy reacted.
This somewhat nullified the pain caused by the chaotic energies within Jiraiya, seeing how a pain from the outside could usually divert one's senses to focus more on that, instead of the immense pain within. What should normally be very painful felt very welcoming to Jiraiya, a great distraction from the agony he was going through.
The medics present couldn't help but sigh at her prowess in their field. It was just amazing to see so many different, unorthodox methods used, and some were not even remotely associated with the case that was present. Stuff like the healing of bones was used by her to attempt the regeneration of tissue, which should not be possible given how the materials that bones and tissues were made of consisted of different elements. And yet there she was, successfully carrying the processes out, without a hint of hesitation in her logic.
Her discarding of failed plans was swift and resolute, not caring about the letdown, choosing to concentrate on the next one and in her mind, run through quickly the possible areas that she needed to look out for. Her execution was excellent, and it was no wonder she earned her name as the best damn medic in the world.
Sarutobi could only sigh as she watched his student work in frenzy. He would have thought her skills had rusted, seeing how his reports had stated that she did nothing but gamble and drink. The truth was before his eyes, where this woman, no matter how much the past might have haunted her, had hung on tightly, relentlessly grabbing onto the painful past, remembering it, letting it hurt her, demoralize her, attack her, and from all that, she grew.
Her emotional state evolved, fully understanding sorrows, letting them rule over her, and yet at the same time she would rule over them. There was simply nothing worse than she had seen, and by letting the memories torment her, she needed an outlet, and that became drinking and gambling. But now Sarutobi knew, that each time the past screamed at her, her mind would be replaying the scenes of her failure, and whilst that happened, that brain of hers would be considering different ways as to the scene could have played out. She would experiment, think and come up with new hypothetical ways to make up for the mistakes that she had made, and try them out as soon as she could.
The life of a medic was harsh, for they could never have a perfect record. Someone, a patient, comrade, loved one, at least one of those from a category would tarnish them. Such was the pain of a medic. With every failure and success, be it a field operation or a surgery in a hospital, the tears of the relatives of a lost patient, or the cheers of those of a saved one, every single moment would constantly be replayed in them, and the need to do better, to ensure that the failures decrease, would always linger in their hearts.
And for Tsunade, one who had had countless goes at surgeries, ample experience in field operations, at least two traumatic memories of her loved ones dying because of her helplessness, the answer should have been clear to him. She would fight on, no matter what she did, she would go on.
However, the situation remained severe, and it soon became clear that even the great Tsunade could not resolve the danger, simply because she had too little understanding of what Natural energy was meant to do, and how it was supposed to be removed. Having no knowledge of the 'enemy' she was fighting against, it made her efforts all the more futile and heart-wrenching.
Everyone at the scene looked on in anxiety, hoping against hope that somehow, there would be a way to resolve this. It was then that Ryusei stepped forward into the centre of the seal, leaving behind a clone to maintain the balance.
At this, all three other Guardians gasped, with Kireki first whispering, "No, please don't tell me you're –"
"I have to." The brunet smiled, "It's okay. I have yet to lose to a sennin before, surely his energy can't do much to me."
Minagi gritted her teeth, "You're a poor liar, you know that right?"
Grinning, the leader of the Shi Fukei laughed, "Damn right I am. Anko! Get ready."
"Wha? No! You shouldn't even be doing this! What the hell?!" The purple-haired Kunoichi fidgeted as she tried to adjust to the sudden change in energy flow.
"Ryusei!" Kireki yelled, her eyes widening with worry.
As violet pulses of chakra spread from him, Ryusei smirked, "Let's do this!"
Everyone, including the Sandaime Hokage, could only gape as the man before them let out an inhumane roar, his hair turning to a bright crimson, lengthening slightly as it spiked backwards due to the energy rush.
What used to be a calm and collected Ryusei now evolved into a daredevil, eyes golden in colour, glinting even as he gathered the flames in his hand, "Yes! This feels good!" Cackling, he aimed the fire directly at Jiraiya, "Hn, pussy, get the hell up and fight me!"
Tsunade could only gasp in surprise as she was forced to dodge backwards, the heat scorching the air as it flew through. Even more shocking, was the fact that the flames were instantly stopped right above Jiraiya's torso, as though some sort of invisible shield prevented the fireball from reaching the sennin.
Snapping his fingers, the red turned into violet, piercing through the guard and struck Jiraiya right on, eliciting a yell of pain from him. "That's it, that's it! Hahahaha!"
"Just what the hell is going on?" Tsunade yelled, unable to comprehend the string of events.
By now, the remaining three Guardians were all on their feet, hands flashing through seals to form a new formation, "Hurry!"
And just like that, a triangular pyramid rose around Ryusei and the lying Jiraiya, enveloping them as they blocked out the rest of the spectators, including a completely confused Tsunade.
"Wait a minute! What are you doing? What is he doing?!" Expecting an explanation, the blonde turned towards the three Guardians, hoping to find some sort of answer to this, this, this madness.
However, a wave of gasps caught her attention, and to her immense shock, Jiraiya had gotten up from the ground, his wounds no longer bleeding, and for some reason, he seemed like a completely different person from before.
"Hm, I don't like the look on your face…" The crazed Ryusei whispered, "How about I wipe it off?!" Charging forward in a blur, the brunet attacked with intense ferocity and seemed to exude far more power than would be expected from someone so exhausted.
Jiraiya too, seemed devoid of any emotion and retaliated with equal force, acting more on instinct than anything else. The normally calm and collected Toad Sannin of Konoha, matching the leader of the Shi Fukei with something akin to bottled up hatred and anger, and this alone confused many of those present.
Just then, Sarutobi gasped, "My god! That's Shura form!"
Shura (修羅), special beings said to be able to harness all cursed energies, the epitome of darkness, where one's true primal self was brought out, and exposed for all to see, and accompanying them would be real power, fed on by emotions, be it negative or positive. Rumours had it that Shuras never live too long, because their minds would either conflict themselves seeing how the desire to destroy and the want to protect oppose each other, and the Shura would end up killing himself out of despair. There had yet to be a person that could successfully control himself while in Shura form, though there were some that could somewhat stay conscious, choosing to use the need to destroy as their means to live, and were extremely feared in the last few Shinobi Wars.
In an instant, the veteran jonins present understood the situation and made to evacuate the lower ranks, seeing how the young ones failed to understand the true power of the fight that was happening before them.
Sennins were the direct opposite of Shura, where they drew on natural energy, feasting on the life in the air around them, from everything present, be it living or non-living, for everything in this world contained an essence, and to control that essence was the key to becoming a Sennin. The drawbacks, though completely different from Shura, held the same effects overall. If one were to become too attached to Nature, he would lose himself to the energy, becoming delirious and utterly incomprehensible in his actions, or in cases like the one before them, where Jiraiya lost control due to the lack of a catalyst, the energy would act on them instead, eating on their bodies.
The bloodthirsty Ryusei ripped out a new stream of purple flames, swinging them into the ground, slamming his palm onto the surface before yelling, "Eat this!"
Without warning, blasts of fire erupted from underneath, scorching the entire area as they rushed at the sennin, intending to obliterate him on the spot, and yet all Jiraiya did was take a deep breath, before pushing his palm forward, and letting the natural energy run its course, where it collided right on with the flames, splitting it in different directions, splattering harmlessly to the sides.
The match was brutal, to say the least, and even Tsunade could only gape as she watched Jiraiya brawl it out with the brunet. By her sides, Kireki was almost in tears, knowing that Ryusei must be hurting immensely by now.
It wasn't the first time they had seen this from their leader. Last time, while they were still teenagers, in the last Shinobi War, the one in which the four of them became well-known throughout the lands due to their combat prowess and young ages, they had almost died. They were confident, careful and planned everything over and over, but the numbers had been against them and simply put, they were cornered. It was four against a thousand.
No backup could be sent because they were too far away, and everyone thought for sure that they would be dead, and god knows the enemies were probably squealing in glee at that thought. They had fought, bravely and courageously with reckless abandon, wanting to take down as many as they could before they fell.
She had been careless, letting fatigue get the better of her and fell prey to a trap. Five shinobi were on her in an instant, and by then, she knew it was too late. She awaited death, silently and helplessly.
That was when it happened. The first, true awakening of the Shura. She could only watch on as Ryusei tore through them, his bloodlust and crazed mindset ordering him to tear through the enemy ranks. She had shivered, shuddered and whimpered.
What was this?
Who was this?
This wasn't Ryusei. Someone took over, someone evil, someone cruel, someone who showed no mercy as limbs and heads rolled all over the battlefield.
It took both Minagi and Anko to slap her out of it at the end, as the three of them rushed to see what happened as the Kamio reverted back to his normal form. By then, the plains were littered with carcasses, blood smeared all over his body, his pupils slowly contracting as his mind went into a relaxed state.
She had caught him in her arms as he fell forward, his only words being, They're gone now…
All three of them were shaken, and had instantly retreated from the area, demanding Tsunade take a look at their captain, who had done the impossible. He had taken out an entire army by himself, evading all attacks placed on him, slicing through them like they were nothing but pieces of paper. It was that devastating, the power that he held that day was simply on a completely different level compared to the enemy.
Kire, I'm tainted you know?
No, you're not!
It's all in the blood, there's no point denying it. You saw me back there.
Did I frighten you?
Cut it out! Look at me! I said LOOK AT ME!
You saved my life. You saved me from them. Is that clear?
Don't! What is this? Where's the real you? I want him back! Not this wimp!
… I'm sorry.
You baka! You stupid baka!
Were you scared?
Then, I guess I'm glad this happened after all.
I thought we were done for Ryu…
Yeah, me too.
Minagi felt her share of shock as she witnessed this form once again. Over the course of the years, she had seen that style, that posture, those crazed eyes a few times, yet each time she couldn't erase the fear that came with it. It wasn't really fear of the Shura, but more of its power. To go toe to toe with a sennin just like that was practically unheard of, especially when the sennin was as good as Jiraiya.
She knew all about Ryusei's cursed blood, the power of the Yachimata resided within him, and the whole of the Kamio clan was well-known for that. Yet over the years, the bloodline, if you could call it that, receded, and for some reason, no matter how they tried, the number of individuals that had that blood decreased until there was only one of them left. That had been Kamio Kyo, Ryusei's father, and just like that, Ryusei inherited what was possibly the most deadly bloodline in the world, be it to enemies or to himself, because there was no guarantee just what he would do when he was in that form.
Anko grimaced as she watched Ryusei take a critical hit and was sent crashing through the roof. She knew where this was going, and she knew she couldn't screw up. The moment when all the natural energy was out of Jiraiya's body, that would be when they strike, all three of them. They would set up the Shisho Jin, with Ryusei absent, and from there, using the imbalance of the seal to temporarily box up the natural energy, before completely disturbing the formation and forcefully sending it back into the surroundings.
Kireki charged, sealing certain tenketsu in the blink of an eye, letting Minagi immobilize Jiraiya using her genjutsu whilst Anko created the basis of the formation. She was Genbu of the North and had to take point, leading them in this, seeing how this was the reversal of the common symbols: East (東), South (南), West（西）, North (北).
Next up was Kireki, and finally Minagi, leaving the eastern post wide open, and seeing how sennin were arch enemies of shura, the catalyst for the direction of natural energy was confirmed. Jiraiya let out a cry of pain as the remaining natural chakra within him soared out of his body and through the compression of the three kunoichi's formation, it was forcefully expelled into the surroundings, back to Nature.
All this were executed without hesitation, the speed at which it was carried out was incredible, as was the flashy displays of aura generated due to the clashing of energies. Just like that, Jiraiya slumped to the ground, spent, unconscious.
"Ryusei!" Knowing that their job was now done, Minagi rushed quickly released her seal and rushed off to ensure that Ryusei was okay. Kireki followed too, and was right behind the Uchiha as they both brought back a bleeding Kamio, who seemed to have reverted back to his normal self.
His injuries were severe though, his muscles were torn, his chakra pathway was completely screwed over, given the sudden eruption of power, and basically, it was a miracle he wasn't dead yet.
Surprisingly, it was Sarutobi who took charge of the situation. Orders were barked and obeyed in an instant. Medic-nins rushed the field, with Tsunade checking to make sure that Jiraiya was not in any immediate danger, before quickly going over to Ryusei and stabilizing his condition. While the situation was grave, it was still a far cry from being a critical stage as with Jiraiya just now, and since Tsunade had already pulled out a huge number of healing jutsu, she did not hesitate and got to work immediately, with the help of Kireki. Minagi and Anko knew they wouldn't be of much help here and chose instead to organize the lower ranks and begin clearing up the streets, scavenging for any lost comrade, and ensuring that their bodies were returned safely to the morgue.
Naruto and the others had their own orders, and got to work immediately, yet the blond couldn't help but glance at the fallen Ryusei, wondering just what that power was. Was he a Jinchuuriki as well?
It would seem that his questions were to be answered another day, for the rubble that littered the streets was ridiculous. Grimacing, he formed as many clones as his reserves could handle, and they were off.
Wars were cruel, the amount of infrastructure damaged could not compare to the families that were broken up, and yet it represents a physical pain on one's pride, where their homeland was desecrated, demolished and insulted.
But they were Konoha, the leaves of the Hi no Kuni, and they would persevere. The sun bearing down on them would be their witness, for the clouds had parted, allowing light to guide their path. Orochimaru was dead, Jiraiya was saved, Sarutobi was alive, and Tsunade was back, stronger than ever.
The future was looking bright, and perhaps, in but a few years, Konoha would be right back on their feet, looking stronger than ever. But for now, they would heal. Slowly and surely, they would recover, and when they do, they would make sure that this would never happen again.
In Rai no Kuni…
"Did you feel that?" A voice mumbled throughout the room as the rest of the council members of the Kamio clan gathered together, "That was definitely it."
"It has been awhile since we felt the evolving of a Shura."
"Hmph, that traitor's bastard son, no doubt."
"We need to work fast, we cannot have such a person holding onto our power!"
"All agreed that he should be eliminated?"
Mere nods were answers as all raised their hands in silent agreement.
"Very well, I'll send her."
"Do you think she can do it?"
"Of course she can. She is a demon after all, what better weapon do we have to fight against the deformed product of a demon's offspring itself?"
"Send a request to the Raikage, tell him the Kamio requests the assistance of Nii Yugito."
Finally, I finished. Man, that took way longer than expected. I added some interaction for OC seeing how I didn't really mention them for awhile, and those of you who want to know what the cursed blood meant, you can take a few guesses. But no, he's not a Jinchuuriki, heavens no. That would be way too cliché. Haha.
Review and tell me your thoughts. The time skip will be coming soon, so heads up on that. Cheers guys, cya again in Lost Paradise.