Warning: This story has mentions of certain concepts like God, Angel, Deliverer, and Apostles. It is important to not that this story has NOTHING to do with any actual religion!!! O_o It's only a take on the concept of God in Naruto.
A/N: This story was inspired by an amazing work of art by a wonderful artist on DeviantART. :)
Blades of grass quivered in the chill air, spilling frozen icicles of dew around the wilderness. Leaves rustled gently, whispering voices of caution to the brook that babbled nearby. Even the wind howled a melancholy tune that night. Change was coming...
He absentmindedly swept his fingers over the ridged surface of the pillar, a fingernail gently scratching one of the grooves in the stone. Pale moonlight added a sinister luster to blood red eyes as he stood watching the young man take gliding footsteps past the throne. His throne, he reminded himself through gritted teeth. Madara, God of War and Unrest, seethed within his shadow as his eyes trailed the presence of the boy. His wild black hair lashed around his face in the wind like twisted shadow fingers in a nightmare. He watched the boy stoop to pick something up from the ground. Soon, very soon, this boy would take his place as God, swiftly ending the Era of War.
He clenched his fingers tight, cracking bits of the stone pillar where his angry nails made contact. He hated Change. He cursed Rikudo for passing on the only unchangeable phenomenon to the new generation of gods; and that phenomenon was, ironically, Change. Madara hated Change. Change meant that even the gods had to submit to Time and give up their reign, their power, when a new God was chosen.
Gods were born, not made. They came into the world when they were needed. Rikudo reigned during the first Era of Peace, passing the throne to a chain of others who came after him. Madara reigned during the Era of Unrest, soon after the third Era of Peace began to dwindle. From his throne, Madara provoked and manipulated, playing his chess pieces just right in order to ensure another great war. He loved war. He loved bloodshed. It gave him the chance to unleash his fearsome power. And Madara loved power... but unfortunately for him, there was never enough of it.
"And this boy," he spat, "is the one to take my place". Tonight he would have to give up his throne to this auburn-haired young man with the sad rippled irises. Tonight he will have to give up his seat of power to Pein.
Blood red eyes narrowed to slits as he watched the girl whisper something into Pein's ear. A pure white paper flower tucked into her hair bobbed slightly as she leaned into the boy. Her face was serene, her expression sad yet ethereal. Madara winced. She was the Angel. She was the Angel born alongside the God to forever be at His side, living only for Him and His cause.
Madara released his grip from the pillar and casually walked toward the young ones. The grass parted and bowed in fear as he crossed the field to the temple where the throne – his throne – stood. Pein straightened his shoulders as he prepared to acknowledge his soon-to-be predecessor. Madara dipped his head slightly in a curt bow.
"Have all the preparations been made?"
The young man cocked his head slightly to the side. "Yes. We are about to start."
The corner of Madara's mouth twitched into an evil smile. "Then go on right ahead."
"Yes." Pein stepped back a little to allow Madara to lead the way to the ceremony hall. The War God complied, and walked briskly toward the gigantic carved double door that led to the hall.
"How many have you gathered?" Madara asked, his hands slowly snaking down the engravings on the door.
"Six," replied Pein.
Madara's lips curled into a grin. "Only six?"
"Yes." Pein sounded confident.
Madara's eyes twinkled. Pein's era would never last long.
He pushed open the doors and stepped into the long hall. Six men stood in greeting as the gods entered. Madara took his seat at the end of the table in silence, waiting for Pein to introduce him to their company. He settled down to observe the activities in silence, leaning his cheek against his hand. Pein nodded and gracefully seated himself at the head of the table. His Angel took her place next to him on the right.
"Konan," Pein introduced, gesturing to the blue-haired woman. Blood red eyes focused on the Angel, studying her features intently. She still maintained her serene, unfazed expression. Quite like Izuna, he mused fondly, remembering his own Angel whom he had sacrificed in order to gain more power for his own.
Madara swept his eyes over the other six people in the room, stopping for a moment at each one to take in their appearances: Kisame, the oddly-colored one with a constant wry grin on his face; Deidara, the long-haired blonde with eyes as blue as the ocean; Kakuzu, the silent green-eyed one with heavily scarred skin; Zetsu, the contemplative one with the dual personality; and Sasori, the one with fiery red hair and expressionless eyes.
Madara's eyes lingered a little longer when his gaze settled upon the sixth young man: Itachi. He had the same black hair and blood red eyes as Madara. The god's breath momentarily stilled. This child was beautiful. A child of war, he mused, almost lovingly. He ran his razor sharp tongue caressingly over his lips. Perhaps he could steal this child away from Pein. Just this one. After all, Pein had five others, didn't he?
It was then that he noticed Itachi's expression harbored a deep sadness, greatly dimming the fire in those brilliant red eyes. Madara made a noise in his throat as realization set in. The boy was a pacifist. He slowly tore his eyes away from him in disappointment and disgust. To think, for a moment, he had lusted for this child…
Madara looked around the table, cheek still casually resting against his hand. The Apostles of God have gathered. Akatsuki was complete. He licked his lips once again, mouth curling into a teasing grin. "The Trinity isn't complete. Where's the Deliverer?"
Pein glanced sideways at Konan. She simply dipped her dead in a half-nod. Satisfied, Pein focused his rippled eyes back onto Madara. "He will be here soon."
He looked wistfully at the cave. It was only a short walk in front of him, but the pain in his legs refused to let him reach it any faster. The rain only served to make things worse. He sighed, dragging his tired and worn body towards the cave, the prospect of rest being the only thing pushing him despite his body's violent protests.
The rain was relentless. It came down hard on his bare chest along with the biting wind.
He fell to his knees as he finally reached the cave.
He didn't know how long he sat there, back leaning against the icy stone - cold, wet, starved, and tired. All he was aware of was his breathing.i In-out-in-out/i. It was slow and deep, painful at moments, when the acid in his empty stomach gurgled upwards. Yet it was enough to let him know he was still alive. And that was all he wanted to know right now. He sighed again as he forced the acid back down. He opened his eyes slightly to look outside.
It was still raining. Flashes of lightning screeched across the grey horizon. Shadows within the cave flickered.
Tip… Tip… Tip… Tip... Tip…
Rainwater dripped rhythmically from the ceiling of the cave onto the dry floor.
Tip… Tip… Tip… Tip... Tip…
Another surge of acid found its way up his gut. He winced. Eyes closed once again, he leaned back against the cold rock.
Tip… Tip… Tip… Tip... Flutter…
He opened his eyes. What was that?
Tip… Tip… Flutter… Tip... Flutter…
Did he just hear something flutter? Surely it couldn't be a bird. They wouldn't come out in the rain. It didn't sound like the wings of a bat either.
Tip… Flutter… Flutter… Tip... Flutter…
There it was again. He tensed, back straightening in the process. That was a flutter. It was soft… too soft to belong to the wings of a bird or bat.
Startled, he turned towards the mouth of the cave: tiny white butterflies hovered around the entrance. He gaped.
Butterflies at this time in the night, and in the rain?
The butterflies flew closer toward him. They were increasing in number. He flinched.
"Get away from me!" he yelled, holding a pike threateningly in front of him. He didn't care if the butterflies couldn't understand what he was saying.
The white things were beginning to cluster around the middle of the cave. By now there were about a hundred of them, and the fluttering had begun to drown out the noise that the dripping rain drops was then that he heard it, as clear as a bell, amidst the din that the rainstorm was creating outside: "Do not be afraid."
Do not be afraid. That's what it said. His eyes widened in surprise and he fell back as his heel tripped over a small rock.
"Who the hell are you?"
The butterflies began to take the shape of a woman. He stood up quickly.
"What the hell do you want from me?!"
She had blue hair and sad brown eyes. She smiled sadly. "You are… Hidan?"
He blinked. "Y-yeah."
"Hidan." The rest of her body took form, morphing out of the butterflies. "God is calling you."
Hidan's eyebrow twitched. "What… the fuck?"
The woman only stood in front of him, motionless, staring sadly.
"Seriously, you expect me to believe you? Who the hell are you anyway?" he yelled at her, pike waving madly in front of him. Butterflies in the rain, a strange blue haired woman, and now God? What did God want with him anyway? A chat over a cup of hot tea? Although hot tea sounded extremely inviting at the moment, he couldn't shake off the bizarreness of the situation he was in. Either he was having a weird dream or the world was seriously messed up this time. He stared at her incredulously, unbelieving.
It was then that she unfolded two great white wings with such force that the gust of wind, which resulted from the sudden movement, nearly knocked him backwards again.
"I am Konan. God's Angel, as you can tell." She flapped her wings slightly. "I have come to you with a message from Pein."
Pein? Who the hell was Pein? "I thought Mada—"
"The Era of War is coming to an end." She cut him off. "The world has seen too much violence and bloodshed. It is time for Change. It is time for a new Era. And you have been chosen to be the Deliverer who will complete the Trinity of Heaven. You, Hidan, will become the Deliverer of this Era - the Era of Retribution."
Hidan gulped. "Well…" he faltered. "Well… fuck."