A/N: Before I say anything else, I have to do this. FREEEEEEDOOOOOOMMMM. My 2 years of service to the army has ended! And as a celebratory gift, here is the final chapter of ANL. Enjoy.
He lost track of how long he sat alone in the darkness and privacy of his room, thoughts swirling around like the forces of the nature that he was named after. For a long time, Naruto moved not a whit and really looked deep into himself.
His first instinct had been to dismiss the entire incident with his 'clone' as a ruse devised by the queen to throw him off balance, to sap his willpower so that she would regain control over her world.
However, he knew differently. When the queen had created the clone, she had done more than merely extract his memories and implant them into a physical body. She had actually managed to root out the darkest parts of his personality and manifested it in the form of a clone.
He had felt the change in his thinking drastically. The cold ruthlessness and practicality that had been bred from having to live a blood-soaked life had miraculously vanished, leaving him with the mindset when he was still young, still innocent.
And that was what terrified him the most.
He had just been given irrefutable proof that in the recent years, everything that he had done and said had been influenced by the dark side within him that he had tried to repress.
The 'I am different' mantra that he had been chanting all the while did not seem as convincing anymore.
He had stood up, his fingers clutching the knob of his door as he prepared to open the door and face the world once more. He had more important things to do than sit here in the darkness, wallowing in self-pity like Emosuke had. Or, at least, that was what he tried to tell himself.
"You are nothing but a coward that does nothing but try and escape from reality!" the clone roared, his voice switching from a soft sibilant tone to one that was guttural and harsh.
He had tried to dismiss that. He had obviously been over-analyzing things. There was no way the queen had managed something as impossible as extracting and manifesting a part of a person's personality, no matter how power she might have been. It was all just a ploy and there was nothing to worry about.
It was as the last sentence crossed his mind that he realised that he had once been trying to escape from the truth. If he stepped out now, without confronting himself, he knew that there would always be that niggling doubt left in his head, his thoughts forever haunted by 'what ifs'
"You are nothing but a coward that does nothing but try and escape from reality"
Once, when he was travelling with Jiraiya, he had been unable to take it anymore and had broken down in front of the old hermit, trembling like a leaf as despair and fear washed over him at what he had to face in the coming years.
"How am I supposed to beat Akatsuki? Itachi alone was enough to send Kakashi-sensei to the hospital without any effort and even you were not able to stop Kisame and Itachi, and that was only two of them! There are another seven of them out there! How can I possibly stop them all?"
Naruto had looked up at his mentor then with a pleading look in his eyes.
"I'm supposed to be the fearless ninja that laughs at danger and dances into peril. Kakashi-sensei and Baa-chan don't say it out but I know they're expecting me to pull through like I always do but I can't. I...I'm...scared." Naruto said, whispering the last point in such a low tone that Jiraiya had almost missed it.
Jiraiya laid his hand on the young blonde's shoulders and when Naruto looked up; he saw not a hint of the usual lechery or jovial look in the old hermit's eyes.
"There's nothing wrong with being scared. Hell, if I were you when I was your age, I would have dived into the deepest hole I could find and never emerge until the world fixed itself."
Naruto had started in surprised then. Jiraiya was many things, but a coward he was not, and to hear an admission like that, especially when the toad summoner was serious, was shocking.
"But, here you are, training day after day in order to try and make things right, and overcome the seemingly insurmountable wall in front of you. Really, I'd be surprised if you weren't scared. You know, sensei once told me something that sounds like a cliché but it really is true."
Jiraiya had looked up at the sky with a wistful look before continuing. "Courage is not blindly charging forward into danger without fear. Courage is the ability to not give into that fear, to stand up, and move forward no matter how terrified you are. So, be afraid. Fear makes us careful. Fear keeps us alive, but do not let fear control you."
Naruto's hand withdrew from his doorknob as he turned around walked instead to the full-length mirror that Yuffie had insisted on installing in his room.
Even now, years after his death, Ero-sennin was still able to help him through the difficult times in his life. Unbidden, a small smile formed on his lips before it tightened into a line.
He realised that he had indeed been attempting to escape from this problem, and that it had been practically an instinct to do. That probably meant that he had done this more than once. Enough was enough. He was done running.
Naruto stared at the man in the mirror and saw not the indomitable juggernaut that everyone else, but the broken and weary little boy that he had denied being.
Unbeknownst to himself, by accepting one fact and refusing to face away from it, Naruto had already conquered one of his inner demons, and was now much more prepared to face the other skeletons in his closet.
If nothing else, Naruto was one very persistent bugger.
Vinslet had often wandered to the door to Naruto's room; one hand raised halfway to knock on his door, to enter his room and comfort him and, more importantly, bask in his presence.
It was hard to believe that just a week ago, she had hated even his presence around her. But now...What she had shouted in the Hall at the Queen had been a spur of the moment thing but she realised to her shock that she had meant every word of it. She loved Naruto. She loved Naruto.
And she knew the others did as well.
Although they had belonged to other Tamers in the past, and those other Tamers would forever hold a special place in their hearts, she knew that Yuffie and Kireina loved Naruto deeply. It had probably begun with a sense of gratitude that turned into care and soon evolved into a deeper feeling.
Kidara...was hard to place at first. Her deferential treatment to Naruto when she first joined the harem was reminiscent of Kireina's attitude. She had shadowed their Tamer like a lost puppy and if he told her to chop her arm off, she would have probably just asked 'which arm?'
When her attitude never changed even after an extended amount in the Harem, the rest of the Pokegirls had regarded her weirdly but eventually let it go. After all, they could not force love on anyone after all. It was only much later that they realised that what Kidara had been doing was the only way she knew how to express love. Ashamed at jumping to the wrong conclusion earlier on, the Harem had immediately set about teaching Kidara the 'ways of the world.'
Vinslet remembered wryly that Yuffie had been particularly enthusiastic about teaching Kidara new and kinky sex positions.
As for Fumiko, while the now-Shrine Oracle had joined the Harem due to a God worship of Naruto, over time, she had grown to see Naruto not as the container of a demi-God or even as one of the most powerful entities in the world but rather as Naruto.
She had come to see the Naruto that worshipped Ramen, the Naruto that blushed like a little girl when teased by his Pokegirls, the Naruto that was scarily smart, the Naruto that loved all of his Pokegirls (no matter what his alter ego clone thingy said about him) and she had come to love Naruto. Naruto, as in Uzumaki Naruto, and not Naruto as in Naruto the demi-god.
There did not need to be anything said about Rylai. That girl was probably born to be by Naruto's side. She was practically everything that the blonde needed, and more. She had the steel to be unfazed by anything that life threw at her, the spunk to challenge Naruto when he was being stupid and yet had a caring side to her that allowed her to tend to her Tamer. And there was also the additional bonus that she was so ridiculously powerful she really did not need Naruto to worry over her.
Everyone knew that Naruto had a fetish for strong and independent women.
But, Naruto's fetish aside, Vinslet often felt guilty when she was with her fellow Harem sisters. She knew that the entire Harem loved Naruto conditionally and that love might be what was needed to pull her Tamer out of his funk.
They should know about what their Tamer was currently going through. In fact, Vinslet highly suspected that Rylai already knew about Naruto's inner demons. And no, she was not talking about the Kyuubi.
On the other hand, it was an intensely private thing and if it were her, she would not be comfortable sharing it with other people as well. Thus, she understood why Naruto had wanted to be left alone.
As a result, she spent every day that Naruto was locked up inside his room debating whether to reveal the truth to her Harem sisters.
Eventually, tired of her own indecisiveness, Vinslet decided to just screw it and focus on assimilating the new knowledge and power boost that she had absorbed from the queen, an attitude that had probably been acquired from hanging around the impulsive and hyperactive Kunimitsu too much.
Naruto would pull though in the end. He always had.
Vinslet stared at the charred remains of what had once been her dressing table in a strange mixture of shock, amusement and excitement. This was not the first time something like this had happened but every time it did, she felt like a kid let loose in a candy store.
Finally, after what seemed like an eternity of stagnation, she was growing in power. She pointedly ignored the fact that the power obtained was through a shortcut and she had next to no control over it. She was no longer the only one of Naruto's Harem that was not growing.
Kireina had, after a remarkably short time, created and perfected her own style. She had fused her innate Pokegirl powers, the sword style that Naruto had taught as well as the myriad of battle experience that she had obtained. She was a terrifying opponent to face.
She was matched in close combat by only Rylai, and almost impossible to hit from afar. At the same time, with overpowered ranged Samurai techniques like Swordwave, Kireina could hit from a very long distance, with her attacks retaining the same speed at which she had drawn her sword. Definitely not something to scoff at.
On a side note, it was when she was sparring against Kireina (or, more specifically, when Kireina was charging at her while the entire Harem was engaged in one of their regular free-for-all, all-out-melee-winner-gets-first-shag-battle) that she had first managed to tap into her greatly expanded arsenal.
As mentioned earlier, Kireina had been charging at her, focused on taking out the Pokegirl that annoyed her most in battle. Even now, although she appreciated the useful of Genjutsu, the Samurai still detested what she called 'mind tricks'.
Behind her, Yuffie and Fumiko were busy throwing fire and lightning and other random elements at each other. She had absolutely no wish to foray into that mess. The sadistic glee on Yuffie's face as she threw out jutsu after jutsu only cemented that idea.
Flying up, even if Kireina did not possess her ranged attacks now, was not an option either. For, above her, Rylai and Kidara were going against each other with everything that they had.
Taking a leaf from Kireina's book and deciding to focus on controlling her innate powers rather than try to advance further in Taijutsu, Rylai had managed to fully control her transformations and powers.
Creating wings and a tail was a piece of cake for her, giving her the additional option of aerial battles even when she was not in her dragon form. Then, she had taken it a step further and mastered partial transformations. She could transform only a single part of her body and even the extent to which it was transformed.
It had been slightly unnerving to see a delicate looking woman punching you with an arm that was the size of a huge. A very huge tree.
Then Rylai had pushed further and reached the height of her power. She had managed to condense and have constant access to all of her power at any given time. In other words, she had the full power and strength of her dragon form even when she was a human, with the extra speed and agility that her human form possessed. Added on to that was the power boost granted by opening seven of the gates that Rylai had talked about.
Vinslet just knew that when Naruto came out of his funk and saw his Alpha Pokegirl like that, Rylai would be having the greatest and most mind-blowing time of her life.
Either way, that monster was up in the skies going head on against a Legendary Pokegirl that could very well destroy the world if she put her mind to it. There was no way flying up could be considered safe.
Now, where was she? Oh right, Kireina was charging at her. The chains that she materialised to bind the Samurai were easily dodge and the ten-inch thick steel was sliced through like paper. That was not good news.
Then suddenly Kireina was right in front of her and she no longer had any time to think. It was then that her body took control. She created a Blood Blade while simultaneously dodging Kireina's first slash. She then launched into a series of complicated sword weaves and thrusts and slashes and all the fancy things that swords(wo)men tended to do.
Of course, Kireina promptly trounced her. The number of people that could beat Kireina in a straight out sword fight could be counted on one finger. (Of course, she might be a tad biased since Kireina was her Harem sister and Naruto was her Tamer but seriously. They were Awesome)
After that, more things that were inexplicable started happening. When Yuffie set fire to the dining room (again) due to her pyromaniac tendencies, Vinslet had casually directed water from the nearby sink and used it to extinguish the fire.
Having never seen Vinslet display any affinity to swordplay or Water Techniques before, the rest of Naruto's Pokegirls (sans Kidara, of course) naturally pestered the True Blood about her newly discovered abilities until she explained it off as a result of her evolution.
Somewhat mollified by her explanation, the rest of the Harem had left her alone. It was only later when she recalled the Queen's explanation on how a Vampire evolved that she realised the reason to her expanded arsenal.
Having lived for what was probably centuries and sucked the blood of what was probably thousands of Pokegirls, the Queen had undoubtedly absorbed a tremendous amount of power, which was in turn absorbed by Vinslet.
However, it seemed like her body was unable to assimilate such an overload of data in such a short time. She would gain occasional bursts of knowledge that she had gotten before, but was never able to actively 'search out' the knowledge that was floating around inside of her.
For example, when she stole a sip of the tea that Kireina always liked to drink, she was suddenly able to identify what kind of tea it was instantly, when she had possessed absolutely no knowledge at all about tea prior to this.
When she tried to 'search' for knowledge about tea in her head though, it was like trying to remember a long forgotten memory. She knew that it was there somewhere in her head, with brief fuzzy images of it but she just could not grasp hold of it fully. It irritated her to no end but she could not do anything about it.
Now, just moments ago, she had been thinking about Yuffie's pyromaniac tendencies and how cool it was to be able breathe fire from her mouth.
Another burst of memory struck her then and, following the instincts that was now in her blood, she puckered her lips into an 'o' and exhaled. A steady stream of flame emerged from her mouth and incinerated what was previously her dressing table.
It irritated her to no end though that she had a wealth of knowledge locked inside her, which she could only access through triggers, which she had no idea about. The first two triggers were through experience while the most recent trigger was simply through thinking about it. Did that mean that her body was assimilating the absorbed blood more easily now? Or was there simply no fixed pattern to it?
In the end, she had decided to leave it be (again) and pursue something else. She had noticed that it took less energy now for her to create things through the Mugengan. The lifespan of her creations was also greatly extended. At last count, a ball that she created and bounced repeatedly off the wall had lasted for over an hour before she got bored of the exercise and dispelled the ball.
In fact, it seemed like all previously noted rules had vanished into thin air. Changing the structure of an existing object was now possible, although it took a large amount of energy and the change barely lasted half an hour. The only rule that remained was that she was committed fully to whatever she was trying to do, whether it was Modifying or Creating.
Vinslet then remembered the brief mention about worlds and reality when Naruto was challenging the Queen and realised that that could be a lead to understanding the Mugengan's new powers.
Turning to the only one that could possibly have knowledge about the topic that she was going to ask, Vinslet ambushed Fumiko after a dinner and the budding Seal Master was happy to share her knowledge on such an esoteric subject with a lecture that was so complicated and full of technical jargon that the Vampire's eyes were spinning by the time she left the Shrine Oracle's room.
Fumiko sighed as she leaned back into her extremely comfortable armchair as she hugged a plushie of Naruto-sama tightly. She wondered how much of her lecture had actually gotten to Vinslet and how much the knowledge she had imparted would help the Vampire in better controlling her powers.
Contrary to what her Harem sisters believed, she had eyes for more than Naruto-sama and her books. She had noticed that Vinslet's powers, which were highly extraordinary to begin with, had evolved greatly. Her Reality Imposition abilities had gotten a huge upgrade.
At the thought of her books though, her eyes strayed involuntarily to the six filled bookshelves packed tightly against each other.
Having travelled mainly only for pilgrimages when she was still serving as a Shrine Priestess, Fumiko had lacked much knowledge about the world and had sought to remedy that by reading up as much as possible. Naruto, being Naruto, had caught on to this.
One day, while they were in a town shopping for groceries, Naruto had taken her by the shoulders and steered her into a bookshop. He then proceeded to drop a full moneybag into her hands and simply told her to 'go wild'. That trip had contributed to half of the books that she now possessed. She bought one of every possible subject possible. Over time though, under Yuffie's influence, her collection of erotic literature had greatly increased, but that was digressing.
When Naruto had begun to teach her sealing, he had bequeathed to her all of the books that he possessed on sealing techniques. In addition to that, he had even given her the scrolls and notes that both he and his teacher had written on anything and everything related to sealing that they knew. The additional bookshelf's worth of text quickly become one of Fumiko's most treasured possessions. Her most treasured possession was of course the plushie that she was currently hugging.
Then, as expected from any interaction with Naruto, things got complicated.
He had started to teach her about pocket dimensions, portals, gateways and everything else about extra dimensions. It had been hard enough to wrap her head around the concept of there being other dimensions, as well as dimensions between dimensions and the difference between a world and a dimension and etcetera; let alone start creating seals that would allow her to create a pocket dimension for her to store and retrieve objects, as well as gateways that allowed her to access other dimensions.
However, Fumiko was undaunted by the sheer monumental task that was before her and had tackled it with the same ardour that she used for everything in her life. The proud beam that her Tamer had bestowed upon her made all the sleepless nights and pounding migraines so worth it.
She had been basking in the pride and adoration of her Tamer when the merciless slave driver suddenly popped her bubble of happiness and proceeded to mindfuck her with the concept of reality that he had come up with.
According to Naruto, reality was subjective. Contrary to popular belief, it was not a constant force that governed the world.
Take for example the reality of a normal mortal. People do not create clones of themselves, breathe fire, manipulate water or move the earth. That is reality. Or at least it was supposed to be.
However, that was not the case. Shinobi were able to call lightning from the skies and breathe fire as though it was air. Pokegirls did all of the above on an hourly basis. How then, could this be explained? It was clearly unnatural.
The fact was, whenever a shinobi or a Pokegirl use one of their techniques, they were actually warping reality. They were imposing their own will on the world. Every time a shinobi or a Pokegirl used their chakra or energy to power a jutsu, what they were actually doing was using their energy to force the fabrics of reality to accept that whatever they were trying to do was possible. That was why bigger and grander feats tended to require more energy. After all, it was more impossible (and that was another concept that Fumiko had to struggle to understand; the idea of things before more or less impossible. After all, impossible was impossible, right?) for...say a giant fire dragon to emerge from one's mouth than a fireball.
In other words, jutsu and Pokegirl techniques were based on two fundamental pillars- intent and belief.
Humans lived and learned through empirical knowledge, and that was no exception for Pokegirls. By looking around them and seeing others of their species performing incredible feats, they grew up believing that these supernatural feats were natural. For them, this was their reality. All that was left then was their intent.
Since it was 'natural' for them to say...breathe fire, all they had to do was impose their will on reality. It was even easier for them because there was no doubt in their mind that fire would come out of their mouths. If they wanted it to happen, then it would happen.
The natural question to ask then would be 'what about the ones who grew up alone and yet tapped into their power? How did that happen?'
Naruto had initially been stumped by that as well, until he had encountered the shrine that was dedicated to the Kyuubi.
Worship and belief in a deity had provided a tremendous boost of power in that specific deity. It was then not too far a stretch of imagination to believe it was this initial belief in a higher being that had caused a mass of energy to coalesce into a sentient being. It coincided with how followers of a religion tended to try to gather as many followers as possible, and how a God that had many worshippers tended to be more powerful than other Gods.
If a group of people were able to 'create' a God, what would happen when almost the entire world believed in a single thing? That thing became fact, and a belief would become reality.
That, Naruto had explained, was the crux of sealing.
Sealing was basically one's intent written on a piece of paper that was then infused with energy in order to make that intent reality. Intent was the universal language. An example would be how two complete strangers who did not share a common language could tell that the other person was greeting them by the wide smiles and wild waves.
With every stroke of the brush, one was using the language of the universe to tell the world how it was supposed to act in accordance to their whims.
However, Fumiko suspected that Vinslet's Mugengan went beyond that. She suspected that it worked as a natural codifier for what she now called Reality Imposition. She believed that the Mugengan was actually an inbuilt array of never-ending seals that helped to manifest one's intent into a tangible form and superimpose it on the reality of the world.
That was why she was hoping that Vinslet had understood at least the basics of what she had been trying to explain to the Vampire.
With a shift in perception and a lot of time, ascending to a God was not impossible for her.
'I think, therefore I am. I believe, and therefore it is.'
The possibilities were endless. Her ability had truly been named aptly.
He truly had been no different. Having calmly analyzed his past actions, Naruto concluded that he really had not been that different from the villains that he had condemned.
When his precious people got hurt, he had gone on a rampage to kill the perpetrator. Had he not done the same as Sasuke who raged against his brother for killing his family, and then raged against Konoha for manipulating his brother?
He had labelled Orochimaru as evil for the sins he had committed and the atrocious experiments that he had conducted. Yet, just not too long ago, he had ripped out the souls of thousands of Pokegirls and fed them to Zalera. That was on the scale, if not worse, of Orochimaru's most depraved acts.
The ends, he had always argued, did not justify the means, and he intended to stand by that conviction to the end. What he had done had been undoubtedly evil and unforgivable but the worst thing was, he would do it again in an instant if he needed to.
He would be selfish. He would use any and all means necessary to protect his precious people from harm. He would not deny that what the clone said was true. A large part of him was protecting his precious people so that there would be people that cared for him and so that he would not get hurt again.
However, that was not all. There was still a considerable part of him that truly and deeply cared for the welfare of his precious people. Seeing them smile would bring a smile to his own face. Whether that love or not though, Naruto did not know.
The main reason for that was that Naruto did not know what love was. Sure, Iruka and the Sandaime had cared for him greatly and had loved him. However, they could never give him the unconditional love that a parent has for their child.
Growing up in a village that detested and shunned him was no easy ordeal. Of his two father figures, the Sandaime was too busy managing the affairs of state to give Naruto the love and attention that he craved. Iruka, although he had tried his best, was also a busy man with many commitments, and he had come into Naruto's life at a very late period.
What Naruto knew of love, he only garnered from his observations of the daily interactions of the villagers. He knew that parents loved their children, although he did not know how it felt to love and to be loved. He knew that one displayed affection by hugging and kissing, and took that into consideration. He knew that, despite the other boys saying that girls were icky, that boys and girls were supposed to love each other. So, in an attempt to be 'normal', he had chased after the one girl that he knew to be the smartest and prettiest in all of Konoha.
Eventually, as he grew up, Naruto learned more and absorbed more, but he never did experience more. All he did was imitate all that he had seen.
And then, he had come to his world and encountered his Pokegirls who he now realised truly did love him with all their heart. What shamed him was that he had never been able to fully reciprocate their feelings.
One who has not been loved cannot love.
He had tried his hardest and given to his Pokegirls all that he could, but was that enough? Was that love? What was love?
His mind flashed back to when Vinslet had broken free of her bonds and assaulted the Queen.
In an unstable dimension like the one the Queen had created, reality was forever shifting and warping as there were no 'natural laws' in place to 'solidify' things. That was why the Queen had been able to have absolute power while in her world. Saying that she was on the level of a God was not an exaggeration.
The power of her eyes, along with the mental prowess that her centuries-long existence had brought about, allowed her to twist reality into accepting her power as absolute. If reality accepts you as a God, then you are a God.
Naruto's arrival into the Queen's dimension had thrown a monkey wrench into her control.
Among the numerous titles he had acquired like 'Konoha's number one most surprising ninja' and 'That ramen freak', he had acquired the dubiously complimentary title of 'that God damned persistent bugger'. After all, he had never given up no matter how overwhelming the odds against him were.
He believed that there was no one being that could have control over everything. He wanted to be able to take down the Queen. Willpower was what allowed him to nullify the Queen's control.
When Vinslet had broken through the bonds, the conviction behind her words had fuelled her intent to stop whatever the Queen was doing. She had wanted to stop the Queen so badly that her willpower had superseded Naruto and the Queen's willpower.
It is only when you have something precious to protect that you become truly strong.
Could he match the pure selfless intensity that his Pokegirls had? Could he give his Pokegirls the love that they deserved, or was he simply too broken for that?
Naruto sighed as he collapsed on his bed, one arm lying across his forehead. In the end, that was what it came down to, wasn't it? He could accept any other flaws that he found in himself but he could not bear the thought he was unable to do those perfect girls justice.
Well, there was no way to know than to try right? He was simply going to have to try his best. He had been sitting around here moping for...He took a sidelong glance at the digital clock beside his bed...a week now! He just knew he would be bombarded with questions the moment he stepped out.
Naruto paused just before he opened the door. What if his best just was not good enough? Shaking his head, Naruto pushed that doubt away.
"I'm going to run straight down a path of no regrets!"
He might be smarter now, but he reckoned his past self was definitely wiser. Whatever would come, would come and he would face it.
He was Uzumaki Naruto. He was not going to run away from anything. Not anymore.
As he had predicted, the moment his Pokegirls caught sight of him, he was bombarded with questions. He waved off their questions with vague answers that sounded like bullshit to even him but surprisingly, his Pokegirls accepted his answers.
On second thought, from the body language of his Pokegirls, it seemed like they didn't believe what he had said, but had instead chosen to let it pass, knowing or suspecting that it was something too private or important to share with even them. That brought about a strange mixture of relief, guilt and appreciation for his Pokegirls.
Aside from that, he was pleasantly surprised by the progress of his Pokegirls. The power boost was definitely a welcome bonus but to him, it was the fact that his Pokegirls had finally started on their own paths that truly thrilled him.
Instead of trying to emulate Naruto by creating several heavy power jutsu, Yuffie had chosen to develop her talents for elemental manipulation further, using and mixing them to a level that Naruto had never even seen in his life. Her command over a specific element would never reach the level of Naruto had with Wind Jutsu, or even Sasuke with his Lightning Jutsu, but her versatility more than made up for it. If her pure lightning jutsu were not powerful enough, she could simply mix it with water chakra and more than double its power.
Kireina had also come into her own as a swordswoman. Long gone were the days where all she did was doggedly repeat the moves that Naruto or her old teacher had shown her. Now, she was well on her way to creating her own style and establishing herself as a true master.
Fumiko had not really developed her skills but had instead cobbled everything that she had seen and learnt into a surprisingly effective combat style. Her non-Esper summon Vanesse, was used mainly for distraction and extra mobility. Fumiko had also developed an astounding aptitude for mental overlay seals and had integrated them with her Hado to help confine the movements of her enemies. For damage, she depended on her Kido as well as the more battle oriented Espers that she could summon. A brief test showed that Fumiko could now summon up to four Espers simultaneously unaided and double that amount when pumped full of the Kyuubi's arsenal. Defense came in the form of the four Crystalline Galems that she could summon.
However, Fumiko had admitted that the Galems had found limited use in the recent battles, with the level of the enemies being so high that they could simply plough through Galems with brute force. As such, she had chosen to learn a few defensive close combat moves from Rylai to supplement her arsenal. Her skill was far from being able to match even a veteran, but at least it gave her the slight element of surprise for her summons to distract her opponent while the Shrine Oracle retreated to a suitable distance and resume sniping with her Kido.
In fact, Fumiko reminded Naruto strongly of when he was younger and had not defined a style for himself yet. He had simply integrated technique after technique into his arsenal until it meshed into his current distinctive style. Given enough time, Naruto suspected that Fumiko's overall combat abilities could surpass the rest of her Harem Sisters.
Kidara had sadly chosen to withhold information on her progress. All that she was willing to say on the matter was that she was working on energy efficiency, which puzzled Naruto to no end. An Evangelion working on efficiency? Her power was practically limitless! In a surprising show of independence though, Kidara insisted that she had thought her actions through thoroughly and that it was the best course of action. Elated that his most withdrawn Pokegirl was finally stepping out of her shell, Naruto had eventually let it go. Whether or not her combat abilities increased did not really affect his plans. Kidara was just that powerful already.
As for his Alpha, Naruto did not think that he could adore the little monster he had created even more, until he sparred with Rylai. He equated it to the speed of Busy Brow's and Gai-sensei's speed combined, and the power of Baa-san and Sakura-chan added on to it and the ability to open seven of the Celestial Gates. Oh and how could he forget absolute control over ice and the ability to unleash Incredible Beams of Death?
Vinslet had also seemed to be extra motivated after the brief incident with the True Blood. Studying and training at the same time? Naruto had nearly fainted in shock. When the lazy Vampire requested a serious spar with him, he had fainted in shock. Or at least pretended to. Heavily annoyed at the jabs, Vinslet had proceeded to cast a Genjutsu on Naruto whereby he had to see his oh so precious ramen dumped into a bottomless pit repeatedly. To the blonde's utter horror, the Vampire's Genjutsu skills had improved so drastically that he took over two minutes to dispel the Genjutsu. He quickly learnt to not piss off his irritable Pokegirl. Too much. There was no way he could ever stop irritating people fully. It was ingrained into him, and he also had the excuse that it was in his blood. According to Ero-sennin, his parents were quite the accomplished pranksters.
As he mentally reviewed the progress that his Pokegirls had undergone, he could not help but feel a strong feeling of pride welling up inside him. He now understood why Iruka-sensei had liked to teach so much. It felt good to watch people that you had taught grow, knowing that you had a hand in moulding the future of others.
However, he had also felt a slight dejection as he had wondered if his Pokegirls no longer needed him anymore. After all, they had proven to be becoming strong independent women. That worry was quickly laid to rest when Vinslet accosted him after dinner for help in understanding dimensions and reality.
"Well, I'd be more than happy to tell you what I know but why didn't you approach Fumiko while I was still...occupied?"
"Well, I did go to her for help but..." Vinslet then blushed as a sheepish smile crept across her face. "Well, I just couldn't understand everything."
Naruto had chuckled in a commiserating manner as he clapped her on the back and guided her to one of the many spare rooms that he had created. "Ah yes, explanations by the bookish type always seem to fly over the heads of people like us, doesn't it?"
Vinslet huffed, not sure whether to feel insulted at being classified as both lazy andnow simple, or pleased that she was being grouped together with her Tamer.
Vinslet groaned as Naruto brought out a large bowl and a small bowl and filled them with water. "Water again?"
Her only answer was a shrug and a "If it ain't broke don't fix it."
Her eyebrows rose though when Naruto brought out buckets of paint from the storage scroll that he always carried on his body.
"For pranks." Naruto answered upon witnessing his Pokegirl's questioning look. Vinslet let out an "Aah" of understanding and then the lesson began in earnest.
"First, imagine this bowl is the world, and the water flowing in it is the web of reality that governs the world."
After that, Naruto poured a strange substance into the water that made it thicker and more glutinous.
"This is the state of reality with natural laws imposed. It retains its fluidity but is not as easy to influence as pure water."
Naruto then held up the many cans of paint that he had unsealed earlier. "This paint I'm holding will then represent the beliefs and intents of the sentient beings in the world."
Naruto then poured red paint into the water. "Building on what Fumiko told you, let us pretend that red represents the belief that humans are non-supernatural beings and cannot perform any extraordinary feats."
Naruto then held up a can of blue paint and poured it in slowly. "This blue paint will then represent the intent and belief of all the people who possess powers beyond the limits of what is recognised as normal. Note that there is still no apparent change in the colouring yet. The belief and intent are still there, but they are simply not potent enough to affect reality much yet. However..."
Naruto tipped the can over more, allowing the blue paint to fall into the water at a faster rate. This caused the water to slowly turn purple.
"As more people start to believe in something, it invariably spreads until it covers the entire world, just like the blue paint has fully dissolved in the water."
Naruto then randomly selected paint of different colours and poured them into the bowl of water with varying amounts.
"Of course, the world contains more than two sets of beliefs. There is so much going on at any one time that I cannot represent it fully with just colours but this approximation should do for now. The water is now a totally different colour, but you can still see that it's closer to the spectrum of blue and red, the dominant colours, than any other colours. That is a basic rundown of how the web of a world works."
With that done, Naruto moved the big bowl aside and filled the small bowl with water. "And now we come to the crux of the matter; how your Mugengan works. First, let us take this much smaller bowl of water as a pocket dimension."
Naruto then held up cans tubes of paint. "The red will represent the will of any other individuals in the dimension while the blue will represent that of the user of the Mugengan."
He emptied the can of red paint into and the water quickly turned a deep crimson. "Note that without the natural laws that are established in a world, pocket dimensions are very easily influenced and altering reality is extremely easy. That is why I can store so many items in a tiny pocket dimension. In that dimension, reality states that items have an extremely reduced mass and volume. Now, watch what happens when I pour the blue paint in."
Vinslet gasped as the water in the bowl immediately turned blue, without a hint of the previous red showing. "What is going on?"
"The blue paint that I just poured into the water was of a very highly concentrated variant. Therefore, even though the volume used was the same for both solvents, you can only see the blue paint. That is what I suspect the power of the Mugengan to be, and what Fumiko meant by it being a codifier. By essentially writing your intent on the webs of reality, the Mugengan is turning your ordinary paint into highly concentrated paint."
Vinslet nodded slowly in understanding as the full possibilities of the Mugengan struck her. She thought she had been creative in her use of the Mugengan but now she realised that her ideas were bland as compared to what she could possibly do. She was so absorbed in her thoughts that she barely recognised Naruto patting her on head as he left the room.
The peaceful, almost dream-like days flew by quickly. Everyone was gearing up for what they knew would be the Final Battle but it seemed surreal to them. Dinner was still the one time when everyone gathered at the same time to just talk with each other and have fun.
It was during one such dinner when Naruto was laughing at the antics of Yuffie when the doubt that had been niggling in his mind struck him with full force again. Would Yuffie still laugh like that if she knew what her Tamer was really like? Had everything with his Pokegirls been based on a farce? His hands clenched and his eyes tightened imperceptibly. This was going nowhere. He needed to stop this destructive line of thought.
The shinobi started when he felt a soft hand envelop his clenched fist. Looking up (when had he bowed his head?), he saw that it was his first Pokegirl that was holding his hand.
Sidling closer to her Tamer such that Rylai was pressing up closely against Naruto, she leaned her head on her shoulder and smiled gently. "You know, Naruto, there are some things that cannot be faked, and women are the best at telling that kind of thing."
At that, Naruto turned his head sharply and looked intently at her with dread building in the pit of his stomach. She knew?
"You should also know that while one person might make the wrong judgment, it's a little hard for say...six people to make the same wrong judgment, especially when they spend almost every waking moment with that one person. If certain feelings are already established, it's next to impossible to remove them."
"...How long..." Naruto managed to choke out as his body tensed up.
"Well, for a very long time, though I don't think I know everything. I think I know enough or can guess enough to be quite close to the truth though."
"Then why do you still..."
Rylai turned her head so that she was looking at her Tamer straight in the eye, so that he could see the sincerity behind her words.
"Because I can see the real you, and it is not as dark or as horrible as you might think. I love you, and no matter what, will never leave you."
Naruto looked at the Leviathan for a few more moments before his body relaxed and he returned to eating dinner and watching his other Pokegirls.
It was only two words, but Rylai could feel the depth of emotion that her Tamer had put into those two words.
"Anytime, Naruto. Anytime."
Unfortunately, not everything went well for Naruto. Bad news came in the form of two unexpected guests ten days after he had gone after Vinslet.
The knock on the door instant caused Naruto's eyebrows to rise in surprise while the rest of his Pokegirls that were in the living room instantly became on guard. After all, Naruto had specifically set up base away from the Sanctuary and had warded the area with so many seals that it was impossible to cross the threshold unless allowed. There was a reason why Hild had not ambushed them when they were resting, after all. She simply could not.
A small chakra pulse later and Naruto waved for his Pokegirls to stand down as he recognised the two people that were standing outside the door. He opened the door to reveal two cloaked figures with hoods pulled over their faces to hide their identities.
"It's been a long time." Naruto said as he smiled at the two people before him. "So, how did it go?"
The smaller figure stepped forward and clasped Naruto's hand with her own, bowing her head as she did so.
"I'm sorry Naruto but Mother refused to join forces with you. She said that she did not care who the ruler of the world was, as long as her place of residence remained undisturbed. She did not think Hild would have the temerity to attack her in her own home."
Naruto nodded with understanding. It would take more balls than even he possessed to attack Judgement while she had the home field advantage. Death was one thing. Extremely painful and humiliating death was a totally different thing. The worst thing was, the death part was not guaranteed.
The female's grip on Naruto's hand tightened as she continued speaking.
"However, if you like, the both of us can join you in taking Hild down. I know we're not as strong as you, but I hope it can at least count for something."
At her side, the larger figure shifted his weight nervously, as though worried about what Naruto's response would be.
The blonde Tamer smiled gently at the Pokegirl as he slowly withdrew his hand from her grasp.
"Don't you worry about that. While I appreciate the thought, I don't think Testament could stand seeing you in mortal peril one more time. Besides, I already have a back-up plan ready. It was highly unlikely that your mother would aid us anyway."
"So, thank you for the offer and for the effort that you put into it. In exchange for the services rendered, do you need anything?"
"Oh no, there's no need-" The Pokegirl began before she was cut off by the male.
"I would greatly appreciate it if you could provide us with more of the concealment charms. Our stock has been dwindling rapidly and it is getting more dangerous with every passing day."
"Testament!" the girl protested at the rudeness of her partner.
Naruto simply chuckled and unsealed a large stack of seals that he handed to Testament before patting Dizzy on the head.
"Don't worry about it. It is a legitimate concern after all. You're lucky to have such a competent bodyguard, Dizzy."
The General smiled happily as she nodded in agreement. "He is the best."
Uncomfortable with the way the conversation was going, Testament interceded. "Unfortunately, we must cut our visit short. Hild will undoubtedly check on you sometime in the near future and it would be best if we got as much a head start as possible."
He paused shortly before jerking his head down as a bow. "And thank you for your mercy and aid."
Naruto simply waved off his concern and bid the duo farewell. As he watched their retreating backs though, he could not resist adding one last dig.
"It was no problem, but if you really wanted to thank me, please name one of your children after me!"
The way Testament had stumbled on flat ground showed that his words had gotten through. That was going to be a very fond memory indeed.
Of course, it was practically decreed that there would be no flow of events that went perfectly for Naruto. Just four days after Dizzy and Testament visited, they received news and footage of Typhonna's awakening.
Naruto's Pokegirls had immediately taken up arms and prepared to move out, only for Naruto to stop then. That had resulted in the biggest row ever between Naruto and his Pokegirls.
"What do you mean we're not moving yet? Thousands of people are dying out there and we, who have the power to stop that, are just going to sit here with our thumbs in our asses? What was the point of training so hard then if we're not going to fight Typhonna?" Beside her, in a rare show of camaraderie, Kireina was nodding to each of the Kunimitsu's point.
Vinslet had stood with the two dissidents but made no move other than that, while Fumiko looked torn between agreeing with Yuffie and following Naruto's actions. With Kidara, there was no question as to where her loyalties lay. She stood firmly beside her Tamer along with Rylai, although the Alpha did look at Naruto questioningly.
Naruto sighed as he ran his fingers through his hair. He should have known that this would happen.
"I did not say that we're not fighting Typhonna. It's just not now."
Naruto continued with what he was saying, cutting Yuffie off before she could protest. "What we just saw was an unprecedented amount of power. An entire city was destroyed in less than five minutes. Diving head first with no thought to consequences will only lead to utter and absolute failure."
Naruto paused before continuing; knowing that what he said would definitely generate a huge outcry. "Yes, saving lives is important but they're not my main priority."
He was right. His Pokegirls had broken out in a clamour before he managed to calm them down with a stern glare.
"My main priority from the start until now has only been to protect all of you. Hild is a huge threat, and you girls might get caught up in her schemes or in the destruction that she will wreak. That was the only reason I chose to fight her."
"That said, we have a distinct advantage now. Hild clearly regards us as the greatest threats to her. Having Typhonna destroy a city upon minutes of awakening was not a fluke. She wanted to display Typhonna's power, and have us running straight into her trap in order to prevent more destruction."
"As such, we will not dance to her tune. Hild will eventually direct Typhonna to attack us, the sooner the better as she cannot allow us too long to create a solid battle plan. Therefore, we will pick the battleground."
Naruto looked at his Pokegirls then, the hard look in his eyes reminding them that underneath the goofy smile was a war-hardened veteran.
"This will not be a battle, or a fight. It will simply be a case of us putting down a beast. For that is all that Typhonna amounts to in the end. A beast cannot help but fall prey to a trap, and I have just the trap for it."
As Naruto had predicted, Typhonna had rampaged around the other continents for a few days before it abruptly changed course and headed straight for the Dark Continent where Hild knew Naruto was hiding.
He had explained it as Hild being in Zugzwang. Or, in laymen terms, damned if you do, damned if you don't.
Originally, Hild had two choices. Either let Typhonna fully mature and then unleash her upon the world or hasten the growth process and release an incomplete Typhonna. Both of them had their pros and cons.
A fully matured Typhonna would obviously be a lot more powerful than an incomplete one. However, the extra one and a half months taken to fully mature would allow Naruto to further his plans much more. While one and a half months would normally be insignificant, Naruto had proven to be able to accomplish many things in a very short time frame. Defending the Sanctuary and winning multiple Legendaries over to his side were but some of the things he had accomplished. Hild had thus chosen to awaken Typhonna prematurely.
That, Naruto had explained, meant that the advantage lay wholly on their side. Hild had to lead the attack as soon as possible, lest Naruto got even more time to analyse Typhonna and come up with even more plans. That allowed them to choose the battleground on which they would fight.
That was the reason why Kireina and Yuffie were now standing directly in the path of the incoming monster. As the nimblest and fastest non-heavy hitters, the two Pokegirls were assigned the role of luring Typhonna to the battleground that Naruto had chosen- a large and flat plain that was already inscribed with dozens of seals by Naruto and the Shrine Oracle. It was a living death trap.
The two rivals stood beside each other waiting patiently (or not so patiently in Yuffie's case) as they traded insults and barbs with each other. The moment they sensed something huge coming though, they stopped their bickering and turned serious.
As what was undoubtedly Typhonna came closer to the two Pokegirls though, they could not help but feel cold sweat trickling down their bodies. The power that they were sensing was off the charts! The sheer raw power that Typhonna possessed dwarfed even Naruto with all nine tails active. How in the world was this possible?
Then, Typhonna came even closer and the monster's killing intent hit them. It was an overwhelming, never-ending hunger for blood. No, killing intent was the wrong word to use. Killing intent was more like the manifestation of one's determination or need to end the life of someone. This was different. Typhonna emitted something more along the lines of the urge for wanton destruction. Bloodlust fit the malevolent manifestation much more.
Kireina quickly shook her head to calm herself down. The shock of encountering such power had caused her mind to retreat into itself. It had been one thing to witness Typhonna's destruction on a screen. After all, massive destruction was nothing new to them. Actually coming into contact though...the Samurai distantly noted that her knees were shaking so hard they were almost knocking into each other. A glance to the side revealed the Kunimitsu to be in almost the same state as her. Ah, at least she was not the only one.
The fiery-haired Pokegirl caught herself before her mind wandered off again. This was no good. She had to do something.
"Y-You know, if you're scared, you can just go back to Naruto. I can do this by m-myself." Kireina remarked off-handed. The stutter speech revealed her nervousness though.
"Who's scared, huh? I'm the mighty Yuffie-sama. This is nothing to me!" The Kunimitsu declared. Unfortunately, the higher pitch belied the bravado in which she spoke.
It was just the ordinary banter that the two Pokegirls usually exchanged, but the slight exchange seemed to have lifted their spirits and hardened their resolve.
The battlefield was a little over two kilometres away. It was not a great distance by any measure. However, two kilometres in which you are actively trying to be the target of a rampaging monster is two kilometres too far.
By now, they could see the silhouette of Typhonna and... By the Gods, she was huge.
The two Pokegirls immediately started their preparations.
With a snap of her fingers, electricity sparked into life and crawled over her skin, the ease of the feat that had previously taken her a much longer time showing the degree of control she had over her elemental chakra now.
Kireina took a slightly longer time than Yuffie, as she not used to calling up huge amounts of Ki in one go. For what was coming up though, she would need much more than she normally used. She had, over time, realised that she had been subconsciously using Ki to make her body faster and stronger than it normally was. After that revelation, she had worked to be able to use it actively as she did for her Pokegirl techniques. It had taken her a long time, but she had managed to control her Ki fully. The bonuses it granted were not as extreme as Yuffie or Rylai's techniques but with her innate speed, it would be enough for her to have an edge over Typhonna.
"So, ready to go flip off Cthultu?"
Kireina could only arch an eyebrow in curiosity at that strange comment.
"Ah, no worries. It's only for hip people like me to know."
The arched eyebrow twitched at the jab at the Samurai's 'boring' habits but she ignored it and returned her attention to the incoming menace.
The moment the Legendary Pokegirl got into range for their plan, both of Naruto's Pokegirls nodded to each other once and then blurred into motion, using the Shinkakaru no Jutsu (Heart Link Technique) to communicate with each other.
As per the plan, Yuffie initiated the attack by firing a Raiton: Choudenjibou (Electric Release: Rail gun) into Typhonna's eye. The howl of pain and anger that followed nearly blew the two Pokegirls off their feet. Then, with surprising speed for a beast with that huge a body mass, Typhonna charged at Yuffie.
The Kunimitsu immediately retreated, though she made sure not to run too far away from the enemy.
Observation of the Edo League's military's attempts to subdue the Legendary Pokegirl had revealed several habits that Naruto planned to exploit. When engaged by a foe, unless the enemy was very far away, Typhonna preferred to engage in close quarters. It, like a beast of prey, seemed to enjoy the hunt. However, should its prey escape such that she was unable to give chase, was when the ranged attacks like Hyper Beam and, the most dreaded attack of all, Ebony Void came into play.
The lack of one eye was obviously the Legendary Pokegirl's problem, as the lack of depth perception meant that its attacks would miss her target wildly even if Yuffie stood still and did nothing. Yuffie thus had an easy time dancing just out of Typhonna's reach.
However, as the seconds ticked by, Typhonna's wild swings seemed to be faster and more accurate with every swipe. Yuffie was suddenly reminded of the Pokegirl who had killed her. Bastit had displayed a similar trait of adapting to her opponents quickly while in the midst of battle. She swore in her mind as worry gnawed away at the pit of her stomach. This could not be good.
Then, Typhonna's closed eye flashed open, revealing a perfectly regenerated eye. Only Yuffie's reflexes saved her from dying a second time. Even so, Yuffie could only watched in stunned fascination as Typhonna's claw ripped through her heavily reinforced clothes as though it were made of paper. The impact of the gigantic hand crashing into the ground created a minor earthquake, resulting in Yuffie losing her balance due to her previous awkward position.
Kireina darted in immediately in an attempt to distract Typhonna from ending Yuffie's life. Her Ki aura flared briefly before expanding to envelop her blade as well, making its edge keener and blade more durable.
A quick slash severed Typhonna's Achilles tendon, eliciting a roar of rage from the Legendary Pokegirl as it spun around and affixed a baleful glare on the one that had just injured her. The change of target had been expected and, in fact, desired. That was another of Typhonna's traits that Naruto had noticed. Whenever it was attacked by something, it would unerringly turn its attention to the newest attacker, regardless of how close to death its previous target was. Their Tamer had assumed that Typhonna's illogical thought patterns were probably due to it being awakened prematurely, but he could not be sure.
Therefore, Kireina had been expecting to be the target of Typhonna's wrath. What she had no expected was for the Legendary Pokegirl to be able to chase after her with a torn Achilles' tendon. That could mean several things, none of which was good. It could have entirely different muscle groups that everyone else did, which could also translate to entirely different organs or it could have extreme regeneration, which improved every time it was injured.
Kireina was working up a visible sweat as she continued to dodge Typhonna's attacks with the barest amount of space to dodge. Yuffie was right. Typhonna did indeed have incredible abilities to adapt to battle.
A quick mental nudge had Yuffie taking over as she fired off another jutsu towards Typhonna's eyes. This time though, the monster was able to avoid the attack in its entirety, causing the attack to cause only minor irritation. Even so, it was enough to garner Typhonna's attention and the monster immediately pursued the Kunimitsu.
In this way, the duo lured Typhonna inch by painstaking inch over to the chosen battlefield. There were many narrow escapes, but they still made it in the end.
The moment Typhonna stepped into the middle of the seal array that had been inscribed into the ground, Vinslet released the invisibility Genjutsu that she had over the area and phase two of the plan began.
A cry of"Fuuinjutsu: Inryoku no Fuuin! (Seal Technique: Gravity Seal!)" rang out in the battlefield. Bright azure chakra raced through the intricate symbols carved on the ground, activating the seal.
Typhonna let out a growl as its limbs suddenly felt ten times heavier than normal. It struggled to continue its previous speed but it was though the Legendary Pokegirl was walking through a quagmire. It growled once more in frustration and pushed harder. Slowly, but surely, Typhonna was regaining her previous speed.
Naruto had planned for this though.
Typhonna suddenly found its limbs bound together as two simultaneous Psywaves struck it. Moantwo floated in the air above it as she smirked at the trapped quarry. She had been utterly taken aback by the sheer power that Typhonna exuded. She had faced off against the monster in the past and it was far less powerful than it was now. What had Hild done to it?
Even so, Moantwo was not worried. Even though she would never admit it aloud, Moan was more powerful than even her. When the two most powerful Psychic beings in the world wanted you to stop, you stopped.
The smirk on her face widened when Typhonna struggled to free itself of the paralysis inflicted on it. Didn't the dumb beast realise that it was a futile effort? Her smirk shrank and her brows furrowed as containing the gigantic beast started to take more effort from her. The smirk vanished and cold sweat broke out on her forehead as her arms started to tremble and Typhonna began to recover control over its extreme digits. This was ridiculous! She had gone up against Typhonna and it was nowhere as strong as it was now and this was supposed to be the incomplete version?
The slight alarm that she felt turned into outright panic when her control over Typhonna's movements began to slip drastically. The high-pitched squeals beside her told her that Moan was not faring well either.
A red light caught her eye then and she glanced down briefly to see the human's Shrine Priestess enveloped in a bright crimson aura.
No matter how many times it happened, Fumiko would never get tired of the sheer rush that she got whenever Naruto-sama gave his chakra to her. She was utterly terrified of Typhonna. She would never deny that. The thought of going up against it made her feel like curling and crying. However, her Naruto-sama was behind her, and was counting on her. For her Naruto-sama, she would gladly march into Hell, let alone take on Typhonna. She would do this!
The Shrine Oracle quickly reined in her mind and concentrated on the task at hand. She grimaced as Typhonna's struggles and movements became more vigorous. This thing was truly a monster. She would have to give everything she had and more if she wanted to stop Typhonna fully. Thankfully, all she needed to do was to hold the Legendary for a little while more while Rylai, Kidara and Naruto finished their own preparations. She took in a deep breath and began what would be a very long series of spells.
"Bakudou no Ichi: Sai! (Way of Binding Number One: Restrain!)"
Typhonna's arms flew behind her back and locked together for a few seconds before it tore itself free from Fumiko's grasp. However, Fumiko had expected that already and was already finishing her next spell.
"Bakudou no Yon: Hainawa! (Way of Binding Number Four: Crawling Rope!)"
A crackling lightning rope whipped out from Fumiko's hands and wrapped around the giant reptile before it tightened and Typhonna's limbs were once again bound. She didn't stop there though as she knew that it would not be long before Typhonna once again broke free of its bonds.
She got into a kneeling position and started chanting, left hand on the ground powering the gravity seal while her right hand drew arcane symbols in the air.
"Jikai seyo, rondaniini no kuro inu! Ichidoku shi, yaki harai, mizukara nodo o kaki kiru ga ii! Bakudou no Kyuu: Geki! (Disintegrate, you black dog of Rondanini! Look upon yourself with horror and then claw out your own throat! Way of Binding Number Nine: Strike!)
And strike she did, the red aura that now engulfed Typhonna stopping even its struggles. Not going to let up on her opponent now that she was on a roll, Fumiko rattled another incantation. The amount of energy that she was putting into her spell showed that it was on an entirely different level as that of the previous spell.
"Raimei no basha, itoguruma no kangeki, hikari mote kore o mutsu ni wakatsu! Bakudo no Roku Jyuu Ichi: Rikujoukourou! (Carriage of Thunder. Bridge of a spinning wheel. With light, divide this into six! Way of Binding Number Sixty-one: Six Rods Prison of Light!)"
A tiny pinprick of yellow light formed on Fumiko's index finger when she started the spell. As she chanted, the light grew in size and intensified in brightness. Finally, after the Shrine Oracle had finished the chant, the light shot forth from her finger in six quick bursts, forming into six rectangular beams of light that pierced Typhonna and further restricted her actions.
Fumiko sagged forward as the energy left her body much too quickly for her comfort. That had taken a lot out of her, but it should be able to hold even Typhonna down for a substantial amount of time.
A warning from Vinslet had the Shrine Oracle quickly jerking her head upwards, her eyes widening in horror as she saw Typhonna shatter the Hainawa and break past the Geki. Even the glow of the Rikujoukourou was diminishing. This was an absolute nightmare. It seemed like she really had no choice but to pull out her most powerful spells and hope for the best.
Her arms, trembling with fatigue, slowly rose up into the air and began tracing the symbols for her spells once more.
"Nijimidasu kondaku no monshō. Fusonnaru kyōki no utsuwa! Wakiagari hiteishi! Shibire matataki! Nemuri wo samatageru! Hakōsuru tetsu no ōjō! Taezu jikaisuru doro no ningyō! Ketsugōseyo! Hanpatsuseyo! Chi ni michi onore no muryoku wo shire! Hado no Kyuu Jyuu: Kurohitsugi! (Seeping crest of turbidity. Arrogant vessel of lunacy! Boil forth and deny! Grow numb and flicker! Disrupt sleep! Crawling queen of iron! Eternally self-destructing doll of mud! Unite! Repulse! Fill with soil and know your own powerlessness! Way of Destruction Number Ninety: Black Coffin!)
Everyone, including Typhonna, looked up at the sky as it rapidly darkened and pulsed with a malevolent purple energy. The previously puffy clouds thinned and stretched out as they sped across the sky with unnatural speed, gathering in one spot above Typhonna as the clouds began to spin. A black vortex appeared from within the mass of clouds, purple lightning crackling across its menacing maws. Then, multiple black coffins that were topped off with cross-shaped spears descended from the abyss within the vortex and surrounded the Legendary Pokegirl, closing in on her until all of the coffins merged into one seamless coffin.
Typhonna's enemies could hear the disturbing sounds of flesh being pierced and Typhonna's roars of pain intermingled from outside while everyone aside from Fumiko wondered what in the world was going on within the dark construct.
After a few minutes of suspense, Fumiko's spell ended. The gigantic coffin disintegrated while the sky returned to its colour, revealing the full effects of Fumiko's spell.
Streams of blood flowed down the monster's body from numerous stab wounds in its body. The Rikujoukourou had regained its previous intensity, as Typhonna no longer had the strength to resist its power. Moan and Moantwo also found themselves having an easier time restricting Typhonna's movements with their Psywaves. What was most surprising though, was the fact that Typhonna's wounds, which normally healed instantly, were barely closing up at all. In fact, the wounds seemed to be worsening with every second with black ichor oozing from the wounds along the flow of blood. Even its roars seemed weaker now.
Fumiko was no longer taking any chances though. While the Kurohitsugi was in effect, she had been busy chanting the incantation of the next spell and she was now ready to unleash it upon her target.
"Bakudo no Kyuu Jyuu Kyuu: Bankin; Shokyoku: Shiryu! (Way of Binding Number Ninety-nine: Great Seal; First Song: Halting Fabric!)"
Fumiko slammed her hands onto the ground (hopefully for the last time) as her incantation ended, creating huge swathes of white fabric that streaked through the air to mummify Typhonna. The Legendary Pokegirl screamed in impotent rage as it struggled against its new bindings to no avail.
Fumiko let out a sigh of relief at the success of her spells, and then collapsed into a heap on the ground, grimacing as pain lanced through her body. Channelling Youki in general was a very dangerous thing to do, unless you had some sort of protection for it, like Fumiko's link to Naruto. Even with such protection though, taking and expelling large amounts of Youki in a very small time frame was bound to have detrimental effects and the Shrine Oracle was paying for it now.
Fumiko still felt it was more than worth it though, as she turned her head to the side to look at the still trapped Typhonna. The previous spells, along with the chase after Kireina and Yuffie, had definitely taken a slight toll on the Legendary Pokegirl; enough for the three of them to keep holding on to Typhonna until the main attackers were done with their preparations.
Another excruciating turn of her head to the other side to look at her wristwatch told her that it had been just over three minutes since Typhonna stepped into the battlefield. That left around two minutes before Naruto and the rest were ready. Two minutes was fine. She was sure she could hold Typhonna for another two minutes easily.
Why, then, did she feel so uneasy about the situation?
The battlefield was eerily silent, as Typhonna had stopped her struggles and was remaining as still as a statue. That caused Fumiko to frown. She was not as good at reading a situation as Vinslet was but even she could tell that Typhonna being silent generally meant very bad news later on. She was broken out of her thoughts though as Vinslet sent a mass transmission to everyone in the plan.
"How is phase three coming along?"
"I'm good to go. Just waiting on Rylai and Kidara now." Naruto replied.
"Ready." Was Kidara's succinct answer.
"Sorry. I'll need a while more. Opening the Gates discreetly take quite a bit of effort. Is something the matter? I thought Fumiko, Moan and Moantwo have it under control?"
"Yes, they do. However, Typhonna is exhibiting strangely docile behaviour. I think she might be preparing for an Ebony Void."
That caught everyone's attention. It did make sense after all. Typhonna's modus operandi was to use Hyper Beam or Ebony Void on any of her targets that she could reach. Even Typhonna could sense that her Hyper Beam would not be able to pierce Fumiko's incredible spell. The Ebony Void, however, was an entirely different matter. The whole point of the plan was to stop Typhonna from using Ebony Void at all and just attack her until she was nothing but lumps of flesh.
As everyone focused their senses, they could indeed sense Typhonna building up an incredible amount of energy.
"Should I attack now?" Kidara asked, only to rebuffed by, surprisingly, Yuffie.
"No, we need as much condensed firepower as we can gather. Leave it to me. I'll stop Typhonna." Yuffie boasting was nothing new. Being in the company of such powerhouses had given her a slight inferiority complex, and unwilling to accept that, had always used bravado to hide her complex.
This time though, it was different. Everyone could tell that it was not the usual bravado with which Yuffie used. Rather it was the quiet confidence that one exuded when one was assured of one's success.
Even so, should Naruto simply trust her and let her do what she wanted to? He had backup plans in case something like this. After all, it was only an idiot that went into battle with only one plan. Whatever Yuffie would attempt might somehow render his backup plans invalid. Did he trust Yuffie? More importantly, did he trust the Kunimitsu enough to risk the entire battle based on his trust for her?
A part of him, the one that had made decisions for the past few years in his life, told him to ignore Yuffie and initiate his own backup plans. He needed to do everything and anything to protect them, even if it meant hurting Yuffie's feelings. What good were feelings anyway when one was dead?
The other part of him made no such logical argument. He wanted to trust Yuffie simply because he wanted to. No reasons were needed. Strangely, this illogical, emotional side of him was winning. It was foolish beyond reason, risking everything and trusting everything to his heart.
But then again, hadn't he always done? Rushing against Zabuza when he was a mere Genin; challenging Orochimaru head on instead of forming a plan; letting a homicidal jinchuuriki escape because he trusted Gaara to change.
When had he started to change so much?
It took Naruto all of three seconds after Yuffie had spoken for him to answer.
"Do whatever it is you want to, Yuffie. I trust you."
Yuffie never thought that three words would have such a great impact on her. It was even greater than when Naruto told her that he loved her. Naruto had always loved her, cared for her, but he had never really trusted her. He was hovering in the background, with plan Ds and Es for if she failed. He had never trusted her to protect even herself. Now, however, he was trusting her with the most monumental task she had ever received to date.
She would not fail him.
She closed her eyes and focused all her attention on the chakra flowing through her coils, preparing herself for the jutsu that only she could perform. Combination jutsu, which, while extremely tough to perform, were common enough in those that were genetically inclined like the shinobi Naruto had mentioned or those who simply worked very hard like Naruto.
However, what these shinobi were performing were not true combination jutsu. They were simply using one element to influence another in the same jutsu. The Goukaton used fire as a base with wind to make it stronger. Her enhanced Raiton did the same thing. Hyouton, from what Naruto had described, used the wind to affect water to create what seemed like a new element. Yuffie could have continued with more examples but it amounted to the same thing. The elements were never integrated properly.
She could do it though. She could integrate all five elements together. She held her hands in front of her sizeable chest, palms facing each other as the beginning of her jutsu spark to life as a small dot of white light in the space between her palms.
This was her ultimate jutsu.
This was the proof of her growth.
This was the proof that Naruto had not wasted his time teaching her.
This was the one thing that only she could do.
This was what made Naruto trust her, for it was only the knowledge that she could perform this jutsu that had given her the confidence to speak up.
This would be the display of her feelings, for she had persevered her self-imposed hell only through the thought that her jutsu could actually help Naruto.
This was the essence of chakra.
The dot had by now grown into a ball that crackled with energy.
Yuffie had not named her jutsu. But then again, she never needed to.
The intensity of the jutsu's light reached such high levels that Kireina, who was beside her, had to turn her head to the side lest she be blinded. The Kunimitsu opened her eyes, and everyone could see the same white energy almost pouring out from her eyes.
This jutsu was, in essence, everything that was her.
With a shout that was more reminiscent of a roar, Yuffie thrust her palms forward and the entire battlefield exploded in bright white light.
Nobody could tell what the attack looked like. It could have been a beam, or a ball, or a spear, but the results were unmistakeable.
Typhonna roared in pain. A roar filled with the pain of an indescribably wracking torture and anguish, a roar that spoke of disbelief and fear. Then, the unbelievable happened. Typhonna, the strongest monster to ever walk the face of the earth, dropped down to her knees.
Her attacker mirrored the action, as Yuffie slumped down to her knees in exhaustion and despair. It had taken everything that she had, but the growing pulse of energy emanating from Typhonna was unmistakeable. Typhonna had not stopped the formation of her Ebony Void. Naruto had trusted her, and she had betrayed his trust. The weight of her failure was crushing.
Suddenly, she felt a hand and looked up to see Kireina looking down at her.
"Do you have enough in you for one more small jutsu?"
That surprised Yuffie to almost bring her out of her despair. The Samurai had never addressed her jutsu by their proper term. She had always called them tricks and other derogatory terms to display her disdain for Yuffie's jutsu.
"What do you need?"
"I need you to create a platform high enough for me to reach Typhonna's torso." The Samurai then let out an uncharacteristic smirk. "You are not the only one to have developed a new trump card."
"Who do you think I am?" Yuffie replied as she dug into her rapidly dwindling pouch of custom soldier pills and consumed one.
She clapped her hands into a hand seal and then slammed her hands onto the ground whereupon a pillar of earth shot out and rushed towards the immobile monster's torso.
That was all that Kireina needed as she nimbly jumped onto the pillar Yuffie had created, flaring her Ki so widely that it seemed like she was engulfed in a blue inferno. Yuffie had accomplished the impossible but it was still not enough. She had seen the anguished expression on the Kunimitsu's face and that had spurred her into immediate action. They might have very differing views on many matters, but Yuffie was still one of her sisters. Where her sister fell, Kireina would be there to pick her up.
As she neared her target, the Samurai's tower of Ki spiked until it reached the heavens, blasting apart the clouds present, before abruptly shrinking into her sword. Kireina then started the steps for the Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu's ultimate technique, but what she shouted out when she swung her sword was a far different name than expected.
"Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu Ougi: Owari! (Flying Heaven Honourable Sword style Ultimate Technique: The End!)"
This was the pinnacle of her swordsmanship, the ultimate fusion of her swordplay and sword techniques, where she integrated the Amakakeru Ryuu no Hiraimeki with the Samurai's unique Zanmato. She had done that before already, in the battle against Rod's Kishi where she had unleashed her Seifuku Ryuu Sen.
However, it was no ordinary Zanmato that Kireina had employed this time. After all, no matter how tiring it was to lure Typhonna over to the battlefield, it would not have tired her to the brink of death that the Zanmato required.
The reason why the Zanmato required one to be on the brink of death to unlock was due to the presence of limiters in one's body. Humans have incredible latent powers locked within their bodies to prevent themselves from self-destructing as their bodies would not be able to handle the strain of the excess power. Pokegirls, who were engineered for combat, experience this problem with a far larger magnitude. Therefore, it is only in dire situations where the Samurai would die anyway that she is able to remove her body's limiters and channel that into the Zanmato attack.
One should always keep in mind that nothing can ever remain normal around Uzumaki Naruto. Limits were strange obscure words in the dictionary to him and would never apply to him. Being around Rylai and Naruto who regularly pushed past the limits of their bodies had taught Kireina to do the same.
Owari was simple in concept, but very much difficult in execution. One would charge up a Zanmato that utilised all of a Pokegirl's energy instead of the usual twenty-five percent or less, and then condense it into her sword, after which the Zanmato would be unleashed at the supersonic speeds that the Amakakeru Ryuu no Hiraimeki granted.
Owari. The end. There could not be a more fitting name for upon the execution of this technique, the battle would end, whether it be by the enemy dying from the attack or the Samurai dying from her body self-destructing.
The unholy terror that Kireina had created was visible for only a second, but it was more than enough. Where there would normally be a heart, there was now only a gigantic gaping hole in Typhonna's torso.
Typhonna was still inexplicably alive even after missing a heart but the goal was still accomplished. The Ebony Void attack had been stopped.
That was when a gigantic shadow loomed over Kireina and she looked up in horror as Typhonna started to topple forward, no longer retaining the strength to keep itself upright.
Kireina scrambled to get out of the way, but it was already a miracle that she was still alive and coherent after that attack. There was no way her abused body was going to be moving anytime soon. She had resigned herself for death when she felt herself lifted into the air and then whisked away to safety.
She looked around in confusion until Moan floated over to her, circling her and chattering away happily. The Samurai surmised that the Legendary Psychic had saved her with her psychic powers, seeing as Typhonna was now so injured that she could be restrained with Fumiko's spell alone.
An uneasy silence fell over the battlefield as all of the current combatants tried to recuperate their strength. That was when an ear-shattering roar shattered the silence.
Everyone looked up into the sky to see a fully formed Leviathan dive down from the skies, the blistering aura around the magnificent dragon signifying that Rylai had opened all seven of the Celestial Gates that she was allowed to.
Typhonna roared back defiantly but it lacked the bite that it normally had. After all, even if its wounds had mostly healed, it was still restrained by Fumiko and unable to react, and a fully charged up Rylai was something that even Typhonna would be wise to be wary of.
The Leviathan opened her maws, where a Mega Flare began charging. Naruto had taken a leaf out of Rod's book and managed to get his hands on a Mega Flare TM which he then gave to Rylai. After all, it was practically designed for her.
By opening the Celestial Gates, one invariably damages their own body at the expense of greater power. With enough gates open, the requirement for the Pokegirl to have less than half of her total health was easily met. At the same time, the power boost from opening the Gates would only make the Mega Flare far more devastating.
With a final roar, Rylai unleashed her Mega Flare attack. Kireina and Yuffie's new techniques had been incredibly destructive, but compared to Rylai's Mega Flare, it was like comparing a candle flame to a forest fire. But that was not the end of it yet. Immediately after Rylai's Mega Flare attack had ended, Naruto rushed into the scene, nine tails flared out behind him while he thrust the screaming ball of destruction in his hands right in Typhonna's face. The Gokouseitan'i no Chouwa (Harmony of the Five Elements) obliterating its target so thoroughly that even the blood that would have spurted out was disintegrated.
Naruto was not going to stop there though. It had been a long time since enemies died just because you blew off their heads, or cut out their hearts, or any other normally instantly fatal injuries. He was not going to take a chance with Hild's ultimate monster. He then pulled off a Naruto no Jutsu, shredding Typhonna's body with the tornado he had conjured, splattering blood across the battlefield.
That was when a gigantic spear of light plunged downwards towards the lump of flesh that was once Typhonna and impaled it, pinning it to the ground. The Lance of Longinus, the weapon that had its power scale according to the strength of its target. Against a monster like Typhonna, the Lance might as well have been the fist of God.
Hild had probably thought that Naruto would be intimidated by the raw power that Typhonna possessed, as never in this world had he encountered that outclassed him so much in terms of power. He had always entered the battle with an upper hand. Hild had probably counted on Naruto being out of his depths but she was wrong on so many levels. His life was defined by his struggle against incredible odds.
Ever since the day he was a Genin, he had always encountered opponents that outclassed him so badly it wasn't funny. The Akatsuki, an organisation filled with the bogeymen of the shinobi world, had been after him since he was thirteen. Being outclassed was nothing new to him. In fact, it had been the norm.
He had thus learnt how to adapt to his unique circumstances. Powerful beings never expected someone weaker than them to launch the first attack. After all, it defied all logic to do so, and that was what Naruto had banked on. Launch the first attack, and then, in their brief moment of surprise, attack with great prejudice. Hold nothing back. The offense is now not the best defence, but rather the only kind of defence that he would possess. That had been the very same strategy that he had employed against Typhonna.
However, despite the heavy artillery rained down upon Typhonna, its hearts were still beating. Yes, hearts. Plural.
But that didn't matter. The plan was never to kill Typhonna with physical attacks. That would have been a nigh impossible task. Even now, under the oppression of the Lance of Longinus, Typhonna was still regenerating at a rapid pace. It was still too weak to move though, and that was all that Naruto needed. The initial conditions had been set. It was time to once again utilise his most terrible, but yet greatest creation.
The shinobi slammed his hands on the ground. Youki poured out from him as the entire battlefield lit up in arcane symbols and sigils. There was a reason why he had chosen this specific clearing as a battlefield, after all. This area was one of the few large nodes in the world, where wild energy gathered together to create a Place of Power. Here, he did not need Zalera to help him open a channel to the underworld because the natural energy here was more than sufficient for him to connect to the world.
With one last push, the last of his chakra tails faded from view and the light of the seals intensified to extreme extents. If Typhonna still possessed its head, there was no doubt that nothing but pained screams would be heard. Even then, they could tell just how torturous Naruto's seal was from the spasms and convulsions that Typhonna's gave as it tried to resist the pull of the seal but it was to no avail. Fumiko could see the soul, the black, viscous thing that it was, slowly dragged out of Typhonna's body. It disgusted and nauseated her, but she fought it down and simply concentrated on maintaining her spell. It wouldn't do for everything to fall apart just because she had grown lax at the most critical moment.
Suddenly, a feminine figure materialised on top of Typhonna and stabbed a sword into its body, whereupon the soul that had originally been gravitating towards the black gates started to be sucked into the sword.
Naruto did not bother to think about who the new Pokegirl (for that was all that she could be) was, nor what her agenda is. He already had his own suspicions but that did not matter. He had learnt a long time ago to not stand around and gawk while the enemy started their preparation.
He shot off towards the Pokegirl, unsheathing his sword in the process and slashed at her, only for his sword to collide against an invisible barrier. Coating it with wind chakra resulted in the same thing. He attempted to Shunshin into the space within the barrier but was instead repelled, sending him skidding away from the Pokegirl. An attempted Kawarimi with one of the debris in the barrier resulted in the same thing.
A quick glance at the intruder, along with the difficulties that he had just encountered confirmed his suspicions of the Pokegirl. With a lithe body that was divided into white and black halves, clothed by a diaphanous, low cut robe that clung tightly, it could only be Hild. She had probably teleported to the battlefield via the use of Sorcerous Teleport, whereupon she had erected a Static barrier, coupled with Psychic Cell, which created a zone that disabled all forms of teleportation.
Static Barrier lasted thirty seconds. Thirty seconds in which Hild would be invincible and be able to absorb Typhonna's life energy using Dark Atmuff's sword, for Naruto had recognised the sword as belonging to Dark Atmuff that he had fought.
Thirty seconds...Naruto glanced at the black gates from the corner of his eyes. That should be roughly the time required for the gates to open fully for the Shinigami to emerge. What would happen then, not even he could predict totally.
He need not have worried about that though, as with ten seconds left to the barrier's lifespan, Hild waved a hand in the direction of the black gates and clenched her open palms into a fist. To his surprise, the gates that were almost open fully started to close, until they disappeared entirely.
"Surprised?" The Legendary smirked.
"It was a brilliant plan to use those obelisks of yours to divert the ley lines into this node, and an even better plan to have so many copies of yourself running around to obscure what you were doing, but it wasn't enough. I still found two of them. Without the Death Esper around to strengthen your connection to the Underworld and with two ley lines missing, it is far too easy to close the gates with my current power."
It was then that Static Barrier flickered and disappeared.
"Typhonna was incomplete and a mindless brute but now, her power resides within me. I have to thank you, foolish human, for falling into my trap so easily."
Hild held a hand out and beckoned him forward. "Now, come. With half of your Pokegirls incapacitated and your last ditch plan of summoning the Death God foiled, let's see how you will deal with me now!"
If she was going to be this cocky, Naruto was not going to pass the chance up. He sprinted at Hild and slashed at her diagonally, only for her to sway her body to the side to avoid Naruto's blade by the merest of inches, before using her own sword to push the shinobi's sword to the side while simultaneously thrusting it at the blonde's chest.
He spun around, flowing with the momentum of Hild's sword while ducking down, slashing at Hild's feet. The Pokegirl jumped up, easily avoiding the strike, which Naruto had already counted on. He continued to spin in another circle, gathering even more momentum before he slashed upwards at Hild while she swung down at him at the same time.
The force of the collision sent him skidding backwards while Hild flew back before she back flipped and landed lightly on her feet, smirking at him all the while.
It was obvious that she was taunting him, as Hild, a Pokegirl that relied entirely on her magical abilities, was matching in a Kenjutsu fight, and flaunting that fact. Naruto was not so easily flustered though. He already knew that Hild would have all of her attributes significantly boosted by absorbing Typhonna's soul, while her skill in Kenjutsu was easily explainable by her sword. After all, it did pass the experience of the souls that it had absorbed to the wielder and that sword must have absorbed thousands of souls at least. Knowing why Hild was easily matching him did not make it any less frustrating though.
Thankfully, he was not alone.
In the blink of an eye, the world's most powerful Psychic beings flickered behind Hild and started assaulting her with various psychic attacks. Moan's normally serene face now displayed an uncharacteristic anger. Naruto had seen Moan frown sometimes, but never seen her so angry. The loss of innocent lives due to Hild's machinations must have been the last straw for the normally pacifistic Pokegirl.
Naruto experimentally ran some Youki through his body only to wince as his chakra coils burnt when the Youki passed through them. Even though his body had been adjusted to adapt to the Youki that was within his body, he was still inherently human and flushing almost nine tails worth of Youki through his system in such a short time had strained his chakra coils beyond their limits. It seemed like he would have to depend on his human chakra and his Kenjutsu skills to see him through his fight.
Honestly, Naruto doubted that it would be enough. After all, Hild was even now easily fending off both Moan and Moantwo. That was definitely no easy feat. Regardless of how monumental his task was, he still had to do this.
Sheathing his sword, Naruto crouched down, getting into his usual Battoujutsu stance while his eyes keenly tracked the flying attacks, gauging the best time to join the fray. A light thump beside him told him that Rylai had transformed into her human form. A quick look told him what he needed to know. The Leviathan would always be beside him, regardless of what he chose to do. A light smile played over his lips as he checked on the status of his other Pokegirls.
Yuffie and Kireina were absolutely exhausted and were being looked after by Fumiko who, truth be told, wasn't too far away from the state that the former two Pokegirls were. Kidara was hovering above the battlefield, ready to join the battle the moment an opening presented itself for her. Vinslet was hanging back, as per her orders. She was to provide only combat support from afar. She would only enter the battlefield as a frontline combatant as a last resort. She would be their trump card.
Spotting an opening, Naruto activated the Shinsoku and dashed across the battlefield, weaving in between the arcane attacks with ease and started attacking Hild once again. The demoness was obviously startled by his sudden increase in speed but still managed to defend herself adequately, although he had left slight nicks on her body.
That changed when Rylai when entered the equation, launching an aerial spinning kick while Naruto performed yet another low sweep. Hild attempted to teleport away from the incoming attack, only for it to be negated by both Moan and Moantwo, who had predicted that move. As a result, Hild took a hefty kick to the face, the force of which nearly shattered her jaw.
The first clean blow of the battle had been dealt, and it dictated the flow of battle for the next few minutes, with both Rylai and Naruto performing seamless combination attacks that pressured Hild while the Psychic Legendaries harassed Hild with ranged attacks, never allowing her to get out of the range of the masked Tamer and his Pokegirl.
At the same time, Vinslet constantly harassed Hild with power illusions that would drastically alter her perception of the world around her. While the Legendary would only take two seconds to dispel even these powerful illusions, it was still two seconds that both Naruto and Rylai could take advantage of. In the world of light speed that they fought in, two seconds was almost an eternity.
At some point in the fight, his mental connection with Rylai was suddenly cut and he had panicked for a few heartbeats before he realised that Hild had simply cast her Psychic Solitude spell on Rylai, which made Rylai unable to send or receive telepathic messages, effectively isolating her psychically. She had probably that the combination attacks were only possible with the use of telepathy but she was wrong.
Naruto and Rylai had surpassed the need for words ages ago. Their trust in each other and the deep bond that they both shared eliminated the need for telepathy for them to convey their thoughts to each other. This was something that Hild, who had never understood the concept of caring for others, would ever be able to comprehend, which was why she was baffled when both Tamer and Pokegirl never faltered in their attacks and continued to keep up the pressure.
Hild's frustration mounted with every passing second until she could take it no longer. Her attempts to demoralise the masked Tamer by trumping him at his specialty was not working. It was time to kick it up a notch.
Dark, roiling magical energy suddenly exploded from Hild, the force of which sent Naruto and Rylai flying away, where they landed painfully on the hard ground. Their bodies spasmed as the dark magic that came into contact them started to wreak havoc on their nervous systems. Hild turned to face the duo, the smug superiority in her eyes now replaced with hatred. She was finally taking the fight seriously.
She pointed the index finger of her right hand at the duo where a pulsing purple orb began to form, while she fired a never-ending salvo of Energy Bolts at the two Psychic Pokegirls to prevent them from attacking. This display of magical mastery was not lost on anyone. It was clear now why she had been named the Mother of Magic.
Just before she launched her Power Bolt at the hapless duo, she abruptly transformed her Power Bolt into a purple barrier mere milliseconds before a multitude of orange beams crashed into her hastily erected barrier. No matter how much power she had gained from absorbing Typhonna's soul, it was obvious to all that she had not managed to assimilate all of it in the thirty undisturbed seconds that she had. Therefore, against the Evangelion's vengeful might, the barrier was quickly punched through and Hild screamed as multiple AT Beams tore into her body.
In the meantime, Naruto and his alpha had recovered enough to be combat fit. It seemed like Kidara still outclassed Hild in terms of raw power. Victory might not be that far off. That line of thought immediately screeched to a halt when Hild's magical energy levels suddenly skyrocketed to unprecedented levels. It seemed like entering a state of near death from Kidara's attack had triggered an instant assimilation of a large chunk of Typhonna's powers rather than the gradual increase that it had been earlier.
It was time for a change of plans.
"Vinslet, time for your part of the plan."
Vinslet teleported several meters away Hild, wary of any sudden attack as the Mugengan flared to life when she started her technique. Immediately, everyone present dropped to their knees as the world around them shifted. A black bubble emerged from Vinslet's body, eventually encapsulating her before expanding rapidly, greedily devouring everything that was in its way until both Vinslet and Hild were inside that black bubble.
Whatever the bubble covered went through drastic changes. The reddish brown sand turned into a floor of cracked mirrors. The blue sky turned red, glowing with the same shade and intensity as Vinslet's Mugengan while countless silver doors dripping blood appeared from thin air and floated around ominously.
A flood of power rushed through Vinslet's veins while Hild, on the hand, looked as though she had trouble standing upright despite the recent power surge that she had experienced.
This was the trump card that they had been relying on. Vinslet had named it Infinite Possibilities.
After the lecture by both Fumiko and Naruto about dimensions and reality, the silver haired Pokegirl had tried to think of a way to turn this new power and knowledge that she possessed into a combat technique.
She had thought about creating a pocket dimension that she would pull her opponent into. Since she was the creator of the dimension, she would be akin to God within that little pocket of reality and would thus be able to 'squish' any enemy with ease.
That suggestion was quickly overruled by Naruto. New dimensions were often very unstable and Vinslet would not get the results that she had desired. Her control over it would still be shaky and if her opponent possessed enough power and willpower, he or she could easily wrest control of the dimension from Vinslet and turn it against her. Even the Queen had proved to be fallible despite having centuries to strengthen her grasp in her own world.
Vinslet had racked her brain for a long amount of time before she came up with the basis for her new technique. Fumiko and Naruto had called her ability with the Mugengan Reality Imposition, which implied that she was able to force reality to accept something that was not supposed to be there, like how she turned her illusions in reality.
How about she create a space that existed in the world but yet was distant from its influence at the same time?
In this kind of space the natural laws of the world, like the force of gravity and etcetera would already exist, which meant that she would not have to worry about implementing them while at the same time giving the space a structure and solidity that a newly created dimension pocket would not have.
At the same time, the small space, being a reality within a reality, would still be easily controlled by Vinslet, as she was the creator of that little reality. Within that space, she would be able to tweak the laws of reality in ways that she would normally not be able to. For example, she could make it such that anyone who entered that space was slowed by ten times. The possibilities were limitless.
She had then attempted her new technique under Naruto's watchful eye. She had attempted to create a circle of space that was 2 metres wide in diameter as a test. That small little circle had brought her closer to the brink of death than anything else ever had. The energy required was simply ridiculous and Vinslet had been ready to give up her idea that had seemed so promising as just another pipe dream until Naruto paused, his face gaining that thoughtful look that he always had just before a breakthrough.
"Energy costs are always equivalent to the magnitude of the feat attempted. Creating something like this would be far too impractical, even for someone that had as much chakra as me. However, what if we didn't create something new but instead modified, or rather, projected something instead?"
Naruto's solution to her energy cost problem had the Vampire categorise her Tamer as 'so insane that he would turn psychopaths into Jesus reincarnated'. That was how flabbergasted she was by the shinobi.
His theory was that if they modified something that had already existed into the kind of 'territory' that Vinslet had envisioned, it would take less energy to materialise. His suggested template to manipulate had been Vinslet's own mindscape.
After all, it is widely accepted that in one's mindscape, with enough discipline, one is as good as God. For one that had trained rigorously in Genjutsu, Vinslet's control over her mindscape was as close to perfection as one could get. At the same, the mindscape is not something tangible, which makes it even easier to manipulate.
Therefore, Naruto had recommended for Vinslet to try using her Mugengan to project her mindscape into a small reality in the world. To her utter surprise, it had actually worked and Infinite Possibilities was born.
Vinslet floated into the air as she chanted, voicing her intents. The power that she held caused her voice to echo in their minds.
"This is my territory."
Kidara now landed on Naruto's left side, causing him to be flanked by his two most powerful Pokegirls. Here, they would wait for when Vinslet's technique ended.
"Here, I am almighty."
"Here, you are nothing." She pointed to the struggling Hild.
"Here, you shall fall." With that, the silver doors opened, revealing hunched figures that faintly resembled Pokegirls looking down at their feet, at the shattered mirrors at their feet. These figures then lifted their heads, although their bodies remained slouched. Their eyes opened then, revealing them to be the same Mugengan that Vinslet possessed.
These shades were essentially what Vinslet had inherited from the Queen. These represented the various Pokegirls that the Queen had fed on and the power that had been absorbed into her body. In her conscious state, Vinslet would never have been able to access all of the dormant power that now lay in her blood until a very long time later. However, the mind registered the presence of such powers and as such, by projecting her mind into reality, she had brought out all of her dormant powers at once.
Then, with an abruptness that was at odds with how languidly everything had moved in this space, the shades jumped at Hild, screeching all the while as hundreds, no thousands of Pokegirl techniques were fired at the immobile Hild.
The Legendary Pokegirl howled as her body was torn to shreds, rebuilt and then eviscerated again in a never-ending cycle until the barrage finally ended and the black bubble receded, shrinking until it was no more and Vinslet collapsed on the ground, yet another one of Naruto's Pokegirls that had exhausted everything she had in order to eliminate her target.
Unfortunately, she had failed.
Hild was still alive, despite the punishment that had been dealt to her.
Rylai and Kidara tensed, ready to surge forward at a moment's notice until Naruto held out his arms in front of them, stopping the two Pokegirls. It would be pointless engaging in a battle against Hild now for she was several magnitudes stronger than when she had been captured in Vinslet's Infinite Possibilities. Victory was still possible, but only at the cost of scouring the world of almost all life and bringing the planet to the brink of destruction, for that would be what happened when Naruto, Kidara and Hild let loose everything that they had. That defeated the purpose of why he had even chosen to engage in this battle in the first place.
No, there was another way. A way that required far less sacrifice.
He reached into his cloak and unsealed a small black device that he then activated. Instantly, a sense of wrongness assaulted everyone present. If it had felt like the world had shifted when Vinslet had activated her Infinite Possibilities, this time, it felt like the world had been thrown into a blender.
Suddenly, a thin black line as tall as a two storey building appeared in mid air, slowly widening until a skeletal hand was thrust out of what was now identified as a dimensional rift. Another hand soon followed and these hands pulled the edges of the rift wider apart until a demonic head emerged from the rift.
Hild stared aghast at the sight of a bona fide God. No matter how much power she had gained from Typhonna, no matter her status as a Legendary, she was still as a gnat compared to a God, especially one as powerful as the Death God. But it was impossible for the Death God to have appeared! She had sealed the gates to be impossible to open and there was only one Death God in each world.
One Death God in each world...
It was then that all the pieces finally fit together and she twisted her head to stare at the masked Tamer in horrified awe.
"What are you?"
"I am just someone willing to do anything to protect his precious people. Anything."
It was then that Naruto craned his neck up at the Shinigami and shouted at it.
"Shinigami-sama! I offer you a deal!"
Despite the Shinigami having a fixed expression, it still managed to exude a sense of incredulous amusement. After all, what mortal had the gall to want to make a deal with a God? But then again, Uzumaki Naruto was far from a normal mortal, as he proved countless times.
"You know as well as I do that even though you are now before me, I possess the same methods to escape from you as I originally did. We can spend an eternity in this cat of mouse and it would never end. However, if you agree to claim this soul in front of me as well, I will willingly be devoured by you."
"The restrictions on the domain of Gods do not apply to her either, as she has insulted the Shinigami of this world gravely by interrupting his summon. He would no doubt be willing to allow you to claim this soul. Are my terms agreeable?"
The Shinigami made no movement for a short while before the grin already present on its face widened as it nodded and reached for both Naruto and Hild.
Hild shook her head in denial and tried to scramble but her desperate struggles amounted to nothing before the might of a God. She screamed as the fingers of the Death God closed around her but she eventually gave up and surrendered to her fate. As she looked at her fellow victim of the Death God, she could not help but be astounded at how badly outplayed she had been by this human. She had never stood a chance the moment she had become his enemy.
After all, he could not be killed. His soul could not be reaped by the Death God in this world because he was technically already dead and his soul belonged to the Death God of his own world. That which is dead cannot die. As if that was not enough, he even exploited this loophole in reality brutally by making sure that any fight that would challenge was a death match. After all, he could not die, which meant that at the end of any death match, he would still be alive.
Normally, the line of reasoning went 'He had won the death match, therefore he was alive'. Instead, the human had twisted it to become 'He was alive, therefore he had won the death match.' Feats that would have been impossible for him suddenly became attainable just because they would improve his chances of survival and therefore cause less damage to reality's weave.
In addition, it seemed like he had known about the Death God chasing after him right from the start, and had actually based his plans around that. His actions of chasing after the Legendaries to get them as allies had never been about gathering more firepower. All of that was just to put pressure on her to act faster. After all, the human knew that he had limited time before the Death God eventually reached this world. Therefore, his priority was to make sure that he took her out before the Death God came to claim him and to do that, he had to lure her into making a move earlier than she normally would.
The ploy with the obelisks had been yet another subterfuge designed to hasten her. Hild had been spying on the human during his battle against the leader of the Elite Four as well as his battle in the Sanctuary when he shattered its protections. Therefore, she knew that he possessed a Pokegirl that had spells that had great restraining power along with his ritual to summon the Death God. He knew that she knew, and had once again planned accordingly.
She had discovered one of the obelisks that he had his web of friends build. Or rather, he had allowed her to discover one of the obelisks. She had then deduced his plan of action. He was planning to lure Typhonna into a node that was further strengthened by these obelisks so that his Shrine Oracle could dedicate everything that she had into restraining Typhonna instead of summoning the Death Esper.
The obelisks were thus the lynchpin of his plan and Hild set about destroying them. The amount of decoys the human had set up to protect the obelisks only furthered convinced her of the importance of the obelisks. When she realised that she would never be able to destroy the obelisks faster than they were being built, she decided to release Typhonna early lest the human gain even more powerful allies. That was when she had fallen into his trap.
When the human had extracted Typhonna's soul despite knowing, or at least suspecting that she possessed Dark Atmuff's sword that was capable of absorbing souls, she had derided him for being a fool, for trading a powerful brute for a powerful genius. She had miscalculated. The point of that move was not to eradicate Typhonna at all. That had just been a welcome side bonus and an excellent distraction. His true goal had simply been the act of opening the Gates of the Underworld so that the Death God of his world would more easily locate his location.
He had then had his True Blood Vampire use that reality bending technique of hers which served two purposes. The first purpose was very direct. He had hoped that the powerful technique would kill her, or at least weaken her and it had been a very close shave indeed for Hild. On the off chance that Hild actually emerged unscathed from the attack, the reality bending technique had loosened the threads of reality in the area greatly.
This, combined with the battlefield's artificially charged ambient energy along with the Typhonna's failed attempt at an Ebony Void had made it such that one last push would tear apart the fabrics of reality right there and then. The human had supplied the last push with the piece of lost technology that he could have only gotten from Judgement's temple.
Oh yes, she knew all about the General's attempt to persuade her mother to fight against her. How could she not, when the human had instructed them to put on sealing tags that made them glow so brightly that she could not ignore them even if she tried to?
The human had been ruthless and devious, sacrificing two former enemies as decoys under the guise of friendship. At least, that was what she had thought. The human had once again pre-empted her thought processes. By making them appear to be the perfect decoys, Hild would only pay cursory attention to the duo, caring only whether they obtained the aid of Judgement when the fact that the human did not care for that at all. All he had been aiming for was the piece of lost technology that would allow him to destabilise reality in an area.
Subterfuge under subterfuge. She had been hopelessly outclassed. At least she had lost to a worthy opponent. It was too bad though. She had been so close. And then she knew no more.
Naruto's Pokegirls had stared in stupefied shock since the moment the Shinigami had appeared, unable to react at all. Everything had simply happened so fast. It was only when the dimensional rift had closed that they registered what had happened.
Naruto was gone.
Naruto was gone.
Naruto was gone!
Some of them screamed, some of them cried. No one knew who did what. Their minds and hearts were simply in too much turmoil to register anything other than the fact that their Tamer had just sacrificed himself for them and was irrevocably lost to them.
It was then that a spiral tattoo burnt itself onto the right shoulder of all of Naruto's Pokegirls, whereupon a note popped out of the tattoo.
Simultaneously, mechanically, all six Pokegirls picked up the note and began to read.
She bustled around the kitchen, preparing ingredients at speeds that would leave professional chefs around the world green in envy. Today was the day that all of them gathered together again and the amount of food that she would need to prepare was ridiculous. Even so, despite the extra labour that this gave her, she went about her tasks with gusto and a cheery smile. They only met once a year, and it was always great to catch up with her Harem sisters.
All of them had been left adrift after the Shinigami had taken Naruto. Suddenly, life seemed to have no meaning at all. There was no motivation for them to do anything. She knew that in those dark days, she had not been the only one to contemplate suicide.
Thankfully, their bonds with each other remained as strong even without Naruto and they had pulled each other out of the darkness and despair. Subconsciously, Naruto's teachings forbade them from giving up so easily. Therefore, each of them set out on their own journey.
Fumiko had been the first one to leave. She had the theory that Gods in a world would always belong in that world. Therefore, if she managed to elevate Naruto to Godhood, there was the slight possibility that the Shinigami would have to give up his claim on Naruto. She had then set out on her quest and had succeeded quite hugely. The followers of Uzumaki Naruto, the God of Warfare and Sacrifice now numbered in the hundreds of thousands.
Vinslet had been the next one to leave, tracking down all of the True Bloods to learn all that she could about their ability to manipulate dimensions and hopefully be able to use that to get Naruto back.
Kireina and Yuffie had been unable to think of ways that their skills et could be used in the never ending attempt to get Naruto and so they did the only thing that they could. They decided to spread his teachings in the world, travelling around the world to gather disciples. Of course, those two had never been able to let go of their rivalry and the two schools would always clash when they met.
After that had been Rylai. She decided to scour the world for any lost technology that could be used somehow to get Naruto back. With her incredible strength and dexterity, she was able to explore many areas that were previously uncharted and while she had made many earthshaking discoveries, she had, to her utter dejection, been unable to find anything that had been able to save Naruto.
And that left her, alone in the house that Naruto had somehow managed to create on an isolated island just before the Final Battle. Like every time that she thought about her Tamer, her hands reached into the pocket where the last note he had left all of them was stored.
She pulled it out, the multiple wrinkles on the piece of paper as well as the well-worn surface a testament to how often she had read that note. She had it memorised by now.
To my dearest Pokegirls, my loved ones.
If you are reading this then there is only one thing that can have happened. I am sorry for just suddenly leaving you like this without any warning but I am not sorry for what I am about to do.
I think I understand how my father felt now.
Even knowing how much pain this will cause you, and despite the inevitable fear of an eternity of torment, I feel that this is worth it.
Knowing that you will continue to live on, that you will someday laugh again makes any sacrifice worth it.
I...I'm really not good at expressing myself, I realise. I have so much that I want to tell you, to write down on this piece of paper that just isn't good enough but I don't even know how to.
I guess I just need you to know that I love you.
I have created the house that we have lived in all this time on an island somewhere in the ocean. I've drawn a map at the bottom so you can reach there. Everything I have there is in there as well, for you girls.
I do hope that you will be able to move on in a life without me.
I am not giving up though. It might take a century. Or two, or even a millennium but I swear I will find a way back somehow so please, just leave something behind to tell me how all of you fared. That is all that I need.
Forget him? That was downright impossible. In the twenty years that had passed, none of them had even glanced at any male. If they needed a Taming sessions, they tended to seek each other instead. Naruto's impact in their life was just too great and ultimately, they would have wound up comparing any possible partner to Naruto, which was unfair to everyone.
After making sure that the food was cooking properly, Kidara walked sedately over to a bookshelf and pulled out the most recent book that she had required.
When Naruto had still been with them, she had seen him wince with a look of pain in his eyes sometimes when she made a social faux pass or when she responded abnormally to a stimuli.
She had an unshakeable certainty that Naruto would one day return to them and, not wanting to cause Naruto the same pain again, had taken it upon to obtain as many books that taught her about the world as possible. What had originally begun as a task soon turned into a hobby and Kidara now spent many days simply enjoying a good book.
She had barely begun reading when she heard two people bickering. It seemed like the first of the guests had arrived.
She stepped out of the house to greet the Samurai and Kunimitsu, who looked embarrassed at having been so loud. Vinslet then materialised out of a shadow on the ground and proceeded to glomp her best friend. The sound of distant hoof beats getting closer indicated that Fumiko was approaching on her summon as well. A short wait revealed Rylai on the same summon as Fumiko, both Harem sisters chatting amicably.
As she ushered her Harem sisters into the house, a breeze blew past her and caressed her face before carrying on.
She smiled as she thought about how much it had felt like Naruto.
She would wait.
A/N: So that's it. The end of this story. It took me four and a half years to finish this but it was worth every second of it. I thank all of you that accompanied on this wild journey and I hope you enjoyed it.
Look forward to my next fic! ^^