Author's Note: So... I kind of ran across Claymore again, and it just popped at me that Riful was really misunderstood, to me at least. Since I seem to be on a Naruto crossover spree, might as well make it Naruto as well.
Konohagakure no Sato (The Village Hidden within the Leaves) was a rather beautiful village, considering that it was a ninja village. Unlike Kiri (Mist) who flaunted their killing prowess and generally contained an atmosphere of blood lust and anxiety, Konoha radiated the kind of feeling you'd expect from a distant relative's house. Unfamiliar, but welcoming and warm.
Of course, even the welcoming atmosphere of the village will dim significantly in times of war, or in sections of the village that are politely ignored by the majority of the populace. The slums, darker sections of the village, and anywhere where the general 'low-lifes' appear are shunted off to the side. Like housewives anxious about how the public views them, the village places a thin veneer of something pretty over the darker aspects of their life.
One who lived in the no-mans-land between veneer and slum was Namikaze-Uzumaki Naruto. A slightly smaller child than others from his orphanage, at an early age he understood something very important (as it had to be, if it was stressed as much as it was); he was unwanted. It was nothing blatant (as the villagers tried to be discreet, not wanting others to see that even they could be capable of cruelty, and thus shatter their 'nice, perfect Konoha' exterior) but it was enough. Cold, unappetizing food was served at mealtimes, regardless of the other orphans getting at least lukewarm meals. When asking a question, he would be answered with a 'look' (as well as sometimes a stern talking to later on) that conveyed that he was to be unseen, unheard, and unwanted.
After he was 'adopted' by the Hokage (in reality, the elderly Sarutobi simply bought him an apartment and gave him an orphan's stipend to buy necessities), the prices on all goods experienced bouts of inflation as soon as he was seen.
He noticed this, and understood it somewhat. The others believed something was wrong with him, like he was sick, and didn't want to catch it. He could comprehend that. Whenever he asked the Hokage, though, the Sandaime would attempt to change the subject discreetly, though the blonde child caught it and simply didn't wish to press for information.
He sometimes wondered if it was his appearance, but that couldn't be it. He wasn't the only blonde with blue eyes in Konoha, as the entire Yamanaka clan had those characteristics. Granted, his hair was spikier than their flowing locks, but that shouldn't have mattered, as other orphans had spiky hair. He thought maybe it could have been the odd 3 scars on each cheek that looked like whiskers, but that also couldn't be it, as he remembered seeing children (not orphans, though) with odd facial markings that looked like upside down triangles being treated well.
He finally applied copious amounts of childhood logic and came to the conclusion that he was alright, but others didn't think he was. And for that, he ignored them for the most part. He did, however, understand that, as he was in a ninja village where passive-aggressive hostility could turn to physical blows in the blink of an eye, he needed to be trained to defend himself.
Thus, at a young age he began watching from the shadows as others trained, rarely getting caught after he realized that adults tended to only see what they wanted to see, unless it was blatantly obvious. Knowing that nobody ever wanted him to be seen, he used that to his advantage, and was able to see some of the exercises needed to be genin.
The Hokage was too enthralled with his bureaucratic position to pay much attention to his mental and physical state of being, only capable of taking quick glimpses at his life through the scrying crystal in his office. He, too, was susceptible to the phenomenon of 'See no Evil, Hear no Evil'. While obvious to an outside observer that the blonde was slowly starving and his growth was going to be stunted, the Hokage simply wanted to see that he was still living, and thus didn't quite comprehend that his charge was malnourished.
At age five, Naruto had had enough; he needed to escape the passive-aggressive hostility for awhile. Feeling the odd tingle he got whenever the Hokage spied on him, he waited it out, knowing the old man didn't do it more than once a day, before taking off into the forests that gave Konoha its name.
In the Konoha Forest…
Naruto walked around for a bit, enjoying the feel of nature around him, and smiled slowly as he realized that this place could be his sanctuary. No one would think to look for him here!
He gave a childish giggle and took off running, his acute memory able to keep track of where he went so that he wouldn't get lost.
When he came upon a cave that looked deserted, he decided he should start his training in there.
Inside the cave…
As he wandered in, he noted that the ceiling had quite a few holes in it that allowed sunlight to pour in lances of golden light, motes of dust floating serenely bathed within.
He heard a feminine giggle from further in, and went to investigate with the curiosity only a small child can muster.
He found a young girl, no older than twelve, dancing in and around a particularly wide array of sunbeams. She was clothed in a short pink sleeveless sundress, and was barefoot. Her dark brown hair reached to the top of her shoulderblades in back, and equal length down the front, though the strangest part was that the locks of hair weren't tapered, but instead ended very cleanly and levelly, giving the appearance of her hair being of ribbons instead of hair.
Her eyes were a light brown, filled with equal parts childish whimsy, and intelligence and wisdom that could only come from age.
Oddly, the most striking part of her appearance was that she was slightly transparent.
Believing her to be a figment of his imagination, he simply waved at her (as it was nice to be polite when meeting other people, even ones you don't believe are real) before beginning his training, doing situps and pushups.
Unbeknownst to him, the girl had stopped dancing in the sun and was watching him with a curious gaze.
As he finished doing situps and pushups until he wasn't sure if he could continue the movements (roughly thirty of each at his young age), he started trying to replicate a hand-to-hand style that he saw a weird jounin in green spandex using on a training post. He noticed it did a lot of damage to the post, and so he thought it'd be a good thing to train in.
As he shakily tried to replicate the katas, he heard a soft voice behind him.
"Your body won't fit well with that style."
He turned around to see that his imaginary friend was seated on a ledge behind him, bouncing her heels lightly off the rock. Her fingers were threaded together underneath her chin as she looked down on him with a smile.
Knowing that figments of imagination don't have information that the original doesn't already have, Naruto looked to her with child-like wonder in his eyes.
The girl's face formed a light frown, oddly making the blonde feel as if she should never have to frown, before the girl nodded to herself and began smiling again.
"Mhm! My name is Riful!"
Naruto sat down cross legged below the small ledge and smiled up at her, beaming all his teeth in a grin before introducing himself as well and asking her a question.
"Why are you all see-through?"
The girl quirked her head to the side, before countering his question with one of her own.
"I don't know. Where are we?"
Naruto gave her an odd look before explaining that, according to the Hokage, they were in the Land of Fire, just outside Konoha. The young girl got a contemplative look on her face before asking if that was anywhere in the west. The response shocked her.
"Um… Hokage-ojii-san pointed at the middle-right part of the map… is that the west?"
She blinked rapidly before shaking her head in the negative, before he reiterated his original question, albeit slightly altered.
"So what's it like being see-through?"
She gave him a slight smile before replying, returning to bouncing her heels off the stone.
"I don't know. I wasn't see-through before… I have to go now, but I'll be back in a few days!"
Before his eyes, Riful faded from sight, her chiming laughter the last to disappear. He hoped she would be friends with him, as he was incredibly lonely.
The days continued like that, with Naruto going back to the cave nearly every day to train, though he did give up on the Goken style. Riful would appear every now and then, and at one point asked for a map, which Naruto brought to her. She disappeared early that day, though the last thing she said before disappearing was 'I think I got it!'
The next day, she was there waiting for him, her hands clasped behind her back and rocking on her heels. He could tell she was happy about something, but he wasn't quite sure. When he asked her what she found out, she gave him a soft smile before explaining it in terms he would understand.
"It's simple! I come here while sleeping in my world. What you see is just a… representation, or something that stands for something else, of my mind. You see?"
This immediately provoked a barrage of inquisitive questions about her world, which she discreetly deflected, not wanting her new playmate scared off yet. After all, it got boring with just Duph around, as the lug wasn't good for much besides physical labor, so she could use somewhat intelligent company for awhile. And yes, even children were smarter than Duph at times.
That day, though, she helped him with his training, by pointing out that he wouldn't be big enough when he grew to use the Goken correctly. When he asked her how she knew that, she got an odd look on her face before saying she had lived long enough to know how the human body grows. He filed that away to ask about it later and instead asked her what she'd recommend he do instead.
"Um… something fast and flexible. Your body will grow to be thin but wiry, so it'll be good for dodging."
She had to leave early that day, her eyes flashing a brilliant red color when she wasn't facing him as she said she had to go.
The next day, he asked the Hokage for pointers on flexibility. The Sandaime got an odd look on his face, as he remembered Orochimaru asking nearly the same question quite a few decades in the past, before he told Naruto of some stretches that would help.
When he made it to the cave, he saw Riful staring at her hand with a thoughtful look on her face. Oddly, her hand was stained purple. When questioned, she replied in a dreamy tone that her body affected her mind projection, as she had forgotten to wash the blood off when she killed the youma that was bothering her. This, instead of scaring him off like she had expected, provoked an odd question.
"You kill demons?"
Riful gave him a slight smile before nodding, saying that the demon had come to her cave and disturbed her, so she had killed it. The blonde's response was quite… exuberant.
"Cool! What're they like? I've only heard stories about them. Is it true that they're all 'mindless killing machines with no remorse' like the matron said?"
Riful's face fell into a slight frown, once again provoking a strange feeling of dread in Naruto's stomach, before she cocked her head to the side and countered his question with another question.
"Don't you know? I can sense that you have youki, demon energy, somewhere inside you."
Oddly, this didn't cause a psychotic breakdown, but instead made the blonde contemplative.
"Is that why the village doesn't want me…? But I don't remember ever being a demon…"
Riful was quite curious about this phenomenon, and offered to help him. When asked what she would do, she replied that, since she's a projection of her mind, she should be able to go into his to find out. He agreed, a little warily, but warned her off changing things in his head without asking him first. After all, he didn't want to wake up and feel like Gai, having urges to ramble about youth and whatnot.
She laughed lightly before diving headfirst into his body.
Inside Naruto's Mind…
Naruto was quite curious when he appeared (also transparent) next to Riful inside a sewer-like corridor. The water on the floor was simply splashes of clear liquid, not giving off any scent at all, though the walls were cracked and yellowed with lack of care.
Riful immediately sensed a secondary presence within Naruto's body besides Naruto and herself, and felt the hatred and malice in the youki. She led Naruto along the winding passages until they got to a high-ceiling room with a set of vertical bars creating a gate and cutting the room in half. Behind the gate, two bloody crimson eyes glared hatefully at the two trespassers, and a wide maw of pointed teeth grinned maliciously at the two visitors. Its booming voice rattled the bars as it demanded the identity of who dared to enter its domain.
Naruto was trembling a little in fear, only to begin shaking as crimson youki lit up the darkness behind the gate, revealing the Kyuubi in all its glory. Riful was notably unaffected, gazing at the demon fox as a scientist would an intriguing specimen. Her whimsical voice spoke in the silence, dumbfounding the demon fox at her impudence.
"I'm Riful, and this is Naruto. If I'm right, he's your container, your prison."
The fox bellowed in rage as the insignificant human dared to point out its current degrading position as a prisoner of a child. Naruto, however, had learned something important from this and spoke up just enough to be heard by Riful, though the fox would have heard as well if it wasn't roaring in rage.
"So the villagers hate me… because the Kyuubi is my prisoner? The fox that almost destroyed the village when I was born?"
Riful nodded lightly, before frowning in annoyance at the Kyuubi. The fox suddenly felt a shudder of dread and terror run down its spine at how unnatural the frown looked on the little girl's face. Riful walked up to the gates, and through the bars, disregarding Naruto's cries for her to not go in there, as the demon fox was supposedly the strongest of the bijuu.
The fox, however, was ecstatic. Finally he'd prove that he wasn't to be trifled with, and he'd start by torturing the blonde brat's little girlfriend!
He stabbed her in the stomach, impaling her through the gut with a single claw, horrifying Naruto. However, no blood leaked from the wound. Instead, thin lines traced vertically on her body, before she fell into ribbons, each ribbon a shade of metallic jet black.
From the ribbons arose a monstrosity of nightmares. A female adult humanoid torso and head, crafted out of the ribbons, and complete with a head of hair and breasts. Her arms seemed to unravel near the ends, becoming more ribbons. Her lower body was completely nonexistent, being held aloft by the threads alone. The creature's eyes had no iris or sclera, merely sockets filled with glowing red light. She was beautiful, in a hauntingly dangerous way. The creature-woman ran a hand through her hair as she ascended to the Kyuubi's height, before speaking in clear tones.
"I am Riful, Abyssal One of the West, former rank 1 Claymore."
Naruto was alternately shocked and mesmerized by Riful's true form, oddly wondering what an Abyssal One or a Claymore was. He'd have to ask her about it later, as he covered his eyes from what happened next.
The Kyuubi, sensing enormous youki from the intruder, actually felt true fear for the first time in its life. However, it was unable to act, as the metallic ribbons that comprised the entirety of Riful thrashed forward, flaying the fox into small strips before they changed direction and made sure that no chunk of fox was big enough to regenerate.
The Kyuubi didn't even have time to scream.
What was left was merely a puddle of flesh, fur, and purple blood, as well as a large reservoir of youki left without a soul to control it. Riful gave a light laugh before exiting the bars, descending to her child form once again without a spot of blood on her. She was fascinated that Naruto didn't seem to show fear of her, and instead was more interested in her as if he had found something incredible.
They left the mindscape in silence, and Naruto awoke immediately, questions firing.
"What's an Abyssal One? What's a Claymore? How'd you kill the Kyuubi? Why was it in my head? Was that a seal on the gate?"
The young girl (in appearance alone) gave a soft laugh before attempting to answer his questions in order.
"A Claymore is a woman (or man) who's half human, half demon, and is sent out to slay demons in my world. An Abyssal One is a rank 1 Claymore who has gone past their limits, and has 'awakened', becoming a demon. It's pretty simple. We're not mindless, but some of the weaker youma are. I'm not sure about killing machines… some are mean and some just want to play, like me! I chopped up the Kyuubi by shifting to my Abyssal form and mincing him to bits too small to regenerate. I think that the Kyuubi, instead of being killed by the Yondaime, was actually sealed in you instead."
Naruto was almost vibrating with excitement, as he was friends with a really cool person! Something penetrated his exuberance, though, and he tilted his head in thought before voicing his thoughts.
"Um… if the Kyuubi was sealed inside me… could I become a Claymore like you used to be?"
Riful, eyes gleaming at the anticipation of something interesting, said it would be possible. She outlined that, in her world, the Organization implanted remains of youma into young girls to create Claymores, but that was only to start the youki generation. Since Naruto already had the youki, all she would have to do is break the seal and let it trickle into his system, gradually changing him from human to half human half demon.
According to her, the change would be complete in about five years, as it would take awhile for the entirety of Kyuubi's youki to be absorbed, as well as prepping his body to be able to use the youki without corrupting or harming itself from the volatile energy.
When he asked her to start the process, she gave him a light laugh before tapping his stomach and letting her youki flare very briefly, her eyes intrigued as she watched the complex seal design with hundreds of different squiggles and other lines that must have taken hours to create simply dissolve.
With his new friend becoming a bit more open with him, as well as a new way to protect himself in mind, Naruto was ecstatic as he left the cave that day, even hugging the phantasmal projection of Riful, somehow able to hug her even through her insubstantial nature.
Over the next year or so, Naruto got Riful to open up a little bit more about her world, and how she was the youngest rank 1 Claymore ever, as well as being the rank 1 of the first class of all female fighters.
She outlined how the Organization had several different 'styles' to teach Claymores based upon their survival instinct as well as their body type. Rank 1 Claymores were required to at least learn the theory, weaknesses, and strengths of all the styles taught in case they had to hunt down a rogue Claymore. The Organization didn't want their most powerful fighter to die in combat due to not knowing her opponent's style, now would they? She had been a defensive Claymore, which led her Awakened form to being incredibly hard to damage, as her will to survive surpassed her will to kill others. She typically avoided strikes, though, instead of taking them and regenerating like other defensive Claymores.
After analyzing Naruto, she was in quite a conundrum. He was defensive, as his survival instinct matched or even surpassed her own, but his posture and body type screamed 'agile offensive'. Deciding to play with the rules a bit, she taught him the agile offensive fighting style, an acrobatic style that avoided enemy strikes while dismembering them to prevent retribution. Due to the lack of a claymore (the sword, not the person), though, she trained him in the hand to hand version as well as the foot movements. He took to it like a fish to water, causing her to giggle in delight as he soaked up the lessons.
At the age of six, Naruto began manifesting the first physical characteristics of a Claymore. His blue eyes drained of color, becoming a silver hue, and his hair began to drain of color as well. None noticed, though the Hokage did a double take once or twice, but since his eyes weren't the bloody crimson of the Kyuubi, the Sandaime didn't believe it was detrimental to the boy's health. After all, perhaps Minato or Kushina's eyes did this as a child, too? Never know what could happen in a ninja village.
Naruto began to lose his appetite around this time, leading him to actually grow better than before because he didn't need as many nutrients, leading his meager food supplies to actually heal the malnourishment.
It was when Naruto was 7, and working on his movements of the Claymore style (though notably lacking the sword itself) that one of the more dangerous topics emerged in conversation.
"What do youma and Abyssal Ones eat?"
The whimsical reply of 'humans!' made him stumble in the middle of a balancing exercise, causing Riful to giggle. When Naruto asked her to reiterate, her smile dimmed a bit and elaborated.
"Youma eat humans like humans eat rabbits! The bones get stuck in my teeth, though, so most youma only eat the soft parts. Normal youma eat like humans, needing to eat two to three times a day, but Awakened Beings like me can go over a month without hurting for lack of food!"
Naruto accepted this quite well, as the analogy was quite accurate. It also prompted him to wonder what rabbits and other small animals see humans as, since human beings capture and eat them, and describe youma who do the same to humans as flesh eating monsters. Quite an eye opening experience.
Riful was noticeably more comfortable around him afterward when he didn't run away screaming.
Around the age of 8, Naruto began his youki control and usage training. Riful gave him some examples of what defensive (and offensive, as his paradoxical nature intrigued her) Claymores used their youki for. Obviously, since no one else used youki in the Elemental Countries, attempting to sense emotions and flow of youki of others wasn't going to do much of anything. He could barely sense Riful's, even when standing right next to her, showing that she had amazing control. Using bursts of youki, he was able to create afterimages, but they hurt his legs from the bursts, and he couldn't do it much before he had to rest, unless he were to awaken from too much youki channeling. Neither Riful nor Naruto were sure what would happen if he Awakened while surplus youki was still contained in the remains of the seal, but they were both sure it wouldn't be pretty.
Riful had the most interesting theory that he would explode into bits and pieces that would rain all around the Land of Fire if he were to awaken too early, which got both of them to laugh at the image.
Riful's whimsical, childlike view had begun to rub off on Naruto, desensitizing him to violence and gore. Many would call Riful a sociopathic monster, but from her point of view, everything made sense. She had power, lots of power, but she thought adults were stupid. They spent so much effort worrying and caring about every little thing. She just enjoyed simpler things in life, like playing with others, though she did know that if someone were to threaten her, they wouldn't stay alive for much longer, and she would do as much as she could to survive if confronted with a real threat.
She had knowledge and wisdom, and did impart it upon others as well as use it to better her survival (as she knew Isley was starting something up in the North), but really didn't care much besides that. She just liked to have fun.
Naruto thought she had perfect logic, and soon began to behave somewhat like her as well. Life seemed much more logical when you removed the wool from your eyes, acknowledging the good and the bad, as well as everything in between. However, dwelling too much on any of the three would do nothing but harm in the long run.
By age 10, Naruto had become half human and half demon. His eyes a deep silver color, and his hair somewhat like sun bleached straw. He was coming along quite well in his training, and was able to replicate quite a few offensive and defensive skills of Claymores, much to Riful's interest. He seemed to be somewhat unspecialized in anything except speed. He was unable to do extreme offensive or extreme defensive skills, such as a variation of Quick Sword or regenerating entire limbs. However, they were able to reattach that arm, so no harm done.
As she grew closer to the blonde puzzle, Riful began to reassess her taking Duph as a lover and lackey. The former rank 3, while tough certainly, was quite lewd and rude to people visiting her cave. Plus… she mused that perhaps Duph had been hit in the head a few too many times in his lifetime, as he was quite… dim. The clingy behavior he exhibited, breaking down and almost bawling if she gave any hint of leaving him was slightly irritating her, as well. She'd lose a valuable subordinate if she left him, though, as she would have to eliminate him to prevent information leak…
Making up her mind, she bid farewell to Naruto at the end of another day (or night, as she was sleeping at the time) and awoke in her familiar cave.
As she raised herself off her bed, her eyes flashed bright crimson, and called out in a singsong voice through the cave complex.
"Duph… let's play a game."
The monstrous humanoid man (as he wasn't powerful enough to withdraw to his human form) poked his head out of an adjoining room to look in to see what game they were going to be playing. He felt his nightmares of 'the breakup' had come true when a jet black metallic ribbon slashed just past his head, leaving a gouge in the armored plating on his shoulder. He turned and ran down the winding corridors, orange-gold eyes tearing up as his mind tried to come to terms that Riful was finally getting rid of him.
If he wasn't quite so delusional or dim witted, he would've realized that she hadn't shown any real affection for him. He was simply one of the very few that could accept her without breaking, and she took what she could get.
Three ribbons sliced through the wall, nearly bisecting his arm as he ran past another corner, too absorbed in his combination mental angst-rant and blubbering apologies both in his head and out his mouth to pay attention that his life was in danger.
A lighthearted voice sang out through the darkness as Riful began unleashing a few more of her threads in an attempt to reduce the amount of hiding places. In reality, she could have obliterated him from the get-go, but this was more fun!
"Ooh, I just love games like this! Hide and Seek!"
His mind breaking at last (not from the sheer terror of being chased, even if only playfully, by an Abyssal One, but instead from his mind finally coming to terms with the fact that she was breaking up with him), Duph sat down behind a boulder, hugging his knees to his chest and wailing while rocking back and forth.
Two bright red eyes situated within an unforgettable jet black face appeared from above the boulder, Riful's body looming over Duph's own grotesque height. Dozens of threads enveloped him, boulder and all, before shredding them like tissue paper caught in a blender.
Peering over her shoulder, Riful contemplated the state of affairs of her last place of residence for the past few decades. The cave complex was almost in ruins from her playing Hide and Seek with Duph (though she reigned supreme as the winner). Giving a mental shrug, she manipulated her ribbons to weave into an expanding sphere of slicing edges, decimating the already ruined remains of her former home.
After disposing of her former subordinate and lover (as well as previous abode), Riful contemplated on how she was going to go to the Elemental Countries. After changing back into her human form, she reached into her layers of youki. She touched against one of her most hidden abilities, used only for escape in an emergency and gave a soft smile. She leapt into the air, disappearing into a swirling black vortex that swallowed her whole.
Her disappearance would cause no end to paranoia from both Isley and the Organization, but she didn't care. Naruto was too interesting to pass up.
Author's Note: I always wondered why Riful settled for Duph... I'm sure there were other Awakened Beings that could 'accept her without breaking' without being total idiots with dependency issues.
Also, I'm not sure who, but I do remember someone stating somewhere that Riful would be much more successful in her campaign for Awakened Beings if her hook was "Join us, and you can call me Onee-sama! Teehee!"
Her cuteness gives me cavities.