And Darkness Prevails
Prologue – Sunagakure
The Kazekage glared down at the old woman, daring her to say something he wouldn't like. This attitude in itself was practically blasphemous, especially for the leader of the Village Hidden in the Sand—Sunagakure. He got away with things that most of the Kazekages had never dared to even attempt, because it was considered to be a damnable act to mistreat the Oracle in any way whatsoever.
"Hurry up and get on with it, you swine," the Kazekage growled out his command, but Chiyo just sat in her trance, completely ignoring him. She was in the middle of her most sacred trance—her death trance, after which she would die. She was the last person in Suna born with the third sight of the Oracle, and after she died, it was doubtful that another would appear.
The Kazekage hit her on the head. Her body swung forward, but she still sat, undaunted, waiting to be enlightened.
Finally, she began to speak.
"I see… vampires, our most ancient enemy… A great leader will unite our nation with that of the Akatsuki, the immortals that have been plaguing our land for so long… Your son shall kill you, and become this leader. He will lead us, and we will become a force so great that we shall no longer hide from the other villages, but dominate them… I see three people who will change the world… But my vision is failing…"
"Damn you!" the Kazekage smacked the back of her head, using all of his force. It was flung forward so far that her nose was only an inch or two from hitting on the floor. She slowly erected herself again and continued to speak, as if she hadn't been hit in the first place.
"I see three young people… But my vision is blurry… I see one with spiky, blond hair… A person with a dark and strangely shaped mass upon their head… and someone who is defined by their unfathomable rage and bright hair… I cannot see their eyes or faces, but they look like Temari, Kankarou, and Gaara…" her eyes opened, and see glanced up at the Kazekage.
"Which son kills me?" the man asked with vehemence to his voice. He did not care that his children would lead the nation to new heights, nor that his nation would finally make a peace treaty with the vampires, who had terrorized them for nearly a century. No – the thing that was of greatest importance to him was that he continue to hold his god-like power over his citizens, for as long as he possibly could.
Chiyo began a coughing laugh. "One kills you if you do nothing…. The other kills you if you try to prevent your death. May you rot in Hell…" she coughed a few times, sputtering blood across the floor.
The Kazekage's eyes filled with rage and he began to beat the old, dying woman mercilessly. She was laughing maniacally as he hit her for two reasons. For one, she was so close to dying that she couldn't feel anything anymore. The other reason was that she knew what his fate was to be, and no matter which son would kill their father, it was going to be more painful than anything she'd ever been subjected to by him.
She fell over on the floor, exhaling her last dying breaths. The Kazekage continuously kicked her, bruising her stomach and breaking her ribs. He dealt a few kicks to her face, but by that time, she had already died.
The sad part about the abuse he'd dealt was that he'd always gotten away with it—only the Kazekage was allowed to see or speak to the Oracle—even after death.
After he was sure she was dead, he pulled her body onto a stretcher and dragged a sheet over her, tightly binding the sheet to the stretcher so that no one could see her, even accidentally.
He left the body lying on the floor for some young Chunin to take to the crematorium later. He stepped onto the adjacent balcony where everyone was waiting below for him to deliver the result of the Oracle's death vision.
"Citizens of Sunagakure!" He called out, leaning across the rail of the balcony. He suddenly took on the persona of a leader, easily fooling the masses into thinking that he was a kind, caring man. "Our great Oracle Chiyo has just passed," whispers ignited through the crowd, and his voice carried a tinge of sadness.
"Her dying vision said that our village would finally make a truce with the vampires who have been plaguing our village. She has also said that the truce was to be made when I," he paused for effect, staring into the crowd, "Become a strong vampire myself."
The crowd gasped, talking in quick, hushed whispers amongst each other.
"I shall live for an eternity, ruling over Sunagakure long after many of your grandchildren are dead," everyone began whispering again. "And I shall be the one to lead our nation to a level of greatness that no village has ever achieved before—we shall dominate!"
He was never bothered by lying to his citizens. After all, many times, he'd been able to change the outcome of Chiyo's visions, simply by lying about them to the populace. The visions were always recorded by an archaic, chakra-powered force, but only the current Kazekage would be able to read such records. And the current Kazekage was so ruthless that he would only be replaced when he had died; whether he was murdered, died of sickness, or died of old age.
Everyone cheered, except for the two people who stood off to the side, a balcony below and to the left of their father—Suna's very own Temari and Kankarou.
Later that night, Temari and Kankarou spoke in hushed whispers for hours upon hours, until dawn was nearing its peak. They both agreed that their father had lied about the vision—and they had agreed on the same thing many times before.
"But this time," Kankarou said, extremely annoyed, "He's trying to become immortal."
"And cheat you out of becoming Kazekage, right?" Temari asked sardonically. She was the eldest sibling, and she was the most qualified out of her siblings to become a leader. She was stronger than Kankarou and much more sane than Gaara. But Sunagakure law stated that the eldest son would become Kazekage, not just the eldest offspring.
"Well," Kankarou didn't know what to say to his sister's jealousy, "That's true, but more importantly, he's going to run Suna into the ground. I just wish that we could read that damn prophecy ourselves."
"Now, either way, you know it's impossible. The records only allow the current Kazekage to see them, and at any rate… We're going to need to talk to Gaara."
"Gaara? I don't really think…"
"He's the only one in all of Sunagakure that has the strength to stop us, should he suddenly side with our father. He's not stable enough to make rational decisions quickly – if we surprise him with an attack, he might side with him, or just try to kill us all. Even though the man has been trying to kill Gaara since he was practically born…"
"Practically? Father's been trying to kill him since he found out he fucked up with him… You know, when he killed—"
"Shut the fuck up and let's go talk to our dear little brother," Temari bit out, her voice full of sarcasm again. She stood up, and yanked her brother up by the collar with a rough jerk.
Kankarou almost said his thoughts out loud, but he knew that if he had, it would probably result in a lot of pain, and possibly death. His thought was: 'Try that when I'm Kazekage. I can almost taste it…'
Gaara was sitting on the shelf beside his window, glaring out at Suna. He felt nothing but hatred for everyone else – the only one, aside from himself, that he cared for was his mother. And this, in itself, defied all logic, as his mother had died during his childbirth.
Even though the death had been necessary in making Gaara the container of the Ichibi, the One-Tailed Demon, everyone had since said that Gaara had killed his mother.
But how could an infant kill a woman? It defied logic.
"It doesn't matter," the sickening yet sultry voice whispered in the back of his mind. "We're together now, and we'll always be together…"
"Yes, mother," Gaara mumbled, holding his forehead, hand clamped over the mark. The mark that read "love" in kanji. It wasn't something he'd chosen… It was something that his mother had wanted for him. And he could have only done it if his mother had wanted it – she was the one who controlled when the Sand Shield was up or down.
Getting the mark was the single clearest memory of his childhood. The pain that he had felt… the only time that he had ever felt… was because of 'love.' He was to only love one person – himself. He must make sure that he survived at all costs, that he was kept alive so that he and his mother could live on together.
In his psychotic, insomniac mind, it made perfect sense.
He heard a knock at the door. He continued to stare out of the window, hating all of the people who lived in the buildings that looked like rock. And rocks… rocks were basically big piles of sand. How he wished that he could just summon up all of his strength, and kill all of the citizens of the village.
The door opened, and his cowardly sister and brother walked into his room, their guard obviously up.
"Gaara," his sister's voice was full of false bravery, but held the shaky undertones of a truly scared person. Scared of him and his mother – as well they should be. "Gaara, we need to talk."
"Did you hear our father's…? I mean, did you hear the Kazekage's speech today?" Kankarou asked. Gaara twitched inwardly when he heard Kankarou say the words 'our father.' The Kazekage had never been a father to him, or to anyone, for that matter, after his precious wife was dead.
"I did," Gaara finally responded.
"He's trying to become more powerful. Kankarou is the next in line to lead… He is planning to assassinate the Kazekage, so that we can find out what the Oracle actually said. Since it was her dying trance, it has to be extremely important," Temari explained quickly, not wanting to be in the room with Gaara for long. He gave her this uneasy feeling, like he could turn on them at any time. And ever since she'd been nearing his room, she'd felt like something horrible was about to happen. And the death of her father wasn't a horrible thing – she felt like something much worse would happen.
"Kill… the Kazekage?" Gaara's interest suddenly piqued. "Let me do it!" he suddenly yelled, jumping forward and knocking over a clay vase in the meantime.
"Be quiet," Kankarou hissed. "If we're caught before we can go through with it, we're ruined. I have Karasu standing guard, but even so, it's hard to focus in more than one direction at a time…"
"You really should work on that," a deep, rumbling voice sounded behind Kankarou.
Kankarou turned around quickly. "Baki!" he hissed. Baki was an informal teacher for the three of them – he taught them basic ninja techniques, and basic battling methods, sometimes strategy, but he was useless in being actually helpful to them. He didn't use puppets like Kankarou, or wind like Temari, and certainly not sand like Gaara. He was basically there to help keep them in line, and to keep an eye on the children of the Kazekage.
Gaara, already worked up, began whispering to his mother.
"Can I kill him?" his voice was a hiss, otherworldly and creepy. "He's in our way… let me kill him… I haven't killed in so long, no blood… I want to prove my existence… Kill? I can? Yes, mother, we'll kill together!"
Temari had been inching towards the door, trying to leave the room. Her 'bad feeling' was escalating into an unbelievable high, panic and fear rising within her. Baki, however, was blocking the one exit… and she was the closest to her younger brother.
Gaara's arm shot upward, and his gourd of sand was suddenly uncorked and propelling sand from its mouth. Temari tried to push past Baki, but even in her scramble, she wasn't quick enough – she was in the line of fire between Gaara and Baki.
Gaara flung his arm in Baki's direction, aiming for his chest in a long, sweeping motion. The path that the sand took swept down in an arc nearing the floor, and then jutted up – right through Temari's midsection and into Baki's lung.
It was almost as if he'd wanted to cause his sister as much bodily pain as possible, while also killing Baki.
Temari felt a numbing shock spread throughout her midsection, which slowly gave way to the greatest pain she'd ever felt in her life. She was dizzy – when Gaara moved the sand, she fell forward. She would have simply landed on her face, had Kankarou not lunged forward to catch her.
She could hear Kankarou crying out her name, begging that she be alright, and asking her to hold on. She could hear the sounds of Baki dying above her. But once a ninja, always a ninja – even as she lay dying, she could feel someone else's presence appear behind them.
"Kan… look…" she coughed out, her eyes flitting behind him. She gave a loud cough, and blood sputtered out of her mouth. There was blood everywhere.
Kankarou laid her down as easily as he could before jumping up, ready to fight. He was expecting his father, or another one of his father's guards.
But, instead, he saw the last person he'd expected. A man with stark red hair, and the eyes of a lifeless puppet.
The greatest puppet ninja to have ever lived. In fact, the first puppet ninja.
Sasori of the Sand.
He'd disappeared decades before Kankarou was born. He was supposed to have become the next Oracle, after his grandmother died or passed on the position to him. But, instead, he'd chosen to follow the vampires – and once someone was turned, they lost all precognitive ability that made up an Oracle.
"Do you want your sister to live?" Sasori asked.
"What, mother? Kill him, too? Or finish off Temari? Who to kill? I need more blood… to take more lives… Mother…"
Sasori's eyes shifted from Kankarou to Gaara. "We do not have time for your silly games, Ichibi." He walked up to Gaara, his eyes locked directly into Gaara's. He waved his hand over Gaara's face, and a clouded mist of blood red emanated from his palms. Gaara's eyes fluttered and he fell to his knees, sedated.
"Now," Sasori turned back to Kankarou. "Do you want your sister to live on, as I do?" Sasori was staring hard at Kankarou – the look made him nervous.
"Yes," Kankarou finally choked out.
"Then go kill your father," Sasori motioned to the door. "While I heal her, and turn her into one such as I am."
Kankarou looked down at his sister, and back at Sasori, distrust in his eyes. "Please," Sasori spat out the word sarcastically. "If I wanted to kill either you or your sister, I would do it without such petty tricks. I need not lie – even as a human, I could have defeated you easily. And now that I am a vampire? It would be but a child playing with a fragile doll."
Kankarou gulped, nodded, and dashed out of the room. He already had a plan – one of his puppets had taken place of one of the guards that watched over the Kazekage as he slept. And, apparently, he had yet to notice. His father was already asleep – killing him was as simple as the movement of a few fingers.
Sasori knelt down beside Temari. "You've lost enough blood," Sasori said, noting her wound. He placed his hands over it, fanning them over the wounds just above the worst of it. The same red mist that had sedated Gaara came from his palms again, but this time, it was slowly fixing Temari's insides.
After nearly a half hour of Sasori healing Temari, Kankarou burst back into the room. "He's dead," he muttered, before kneeling back beside his sister. "You're not done yet?"
"When a vampire is turned, their body is in the same state for all eternity," Sasori never looked up from his work. "Your sister would be better off dead than living forever with a gaping hole in her torso. And it takes a while, because the blood magic gets weaker and weaker as time wears on."
Sasori pulled away from his work and looked at Kankarou. "My orders were not to only turn your sister – they were to offer immortality to you and your younger brother as well."
Kankarou blinked a few times, shocked. Before he could respond, Gaara began talking. "Yes… Mother says that I will have immeasurable power… and I will get to end many, many lives…"
"And yourself?" Sasori asked, staring at Kankarou for an answer.
"I… I… I'll do it," Kankarou finally stuttered out. He didn't want to be the only one out of his siblings that did not become a vampire, after all – that was like painting a large target on his back.
"Very well. Take off your shirt – I'll need more blood to turn your sister," Sasori instructed. Kankarou quickly did what was asked of him, taking off his shirt deftly and tossing it aside. "Full body paint? You truly are an amateur," Sasori shook his head slowly. The paint that adorned Kankarou's body wasn't for show –it was to use as chakra pathways, so that he could better control his puppets.
Sasori, without warning, quickly latched himself to Kankarou's neck. Had it been anyone but the cold, callous Sasori of the Sand, Kankarou would have thought it to be an intimate position – but the puppeteer was so business-like about everything, that Kankarou wondered if he even enjoyed feeding.
When Sasori pulled away, Kankarou had lost a great deal of blood. He felt dizzy, as if he was going to pass out at any moment.
"The vampire whose blood turns you always has a sort of… persuasion over a person. Drink this vial," Sasori tossed Kankarou a bottle of blood, marked 'Konan.'
Kankarou didn't pause to think – he just downed the large vial of vampire's blood. What choice did he have now?
Meanwhile, Sasori was slitting open one of his wrists. Temari had regained some strength after being healed so much – the only marks that showed she'd ever been hurt was a large, ugly red mark that stretched across her stomach. Her condition now was just slightly worse than Kankarou's, and she was awake enough to drink the blood.
When Sasori was certain that Temari had gotten enough of his blood, and that Kankarou had drunk the entire contents of his bottle, he moved to Gaara. He was still sedated, more or less.
"The Ichibi knows what to do, right?" Sasori asked. He already knew about the sand shield, and he knew that Gaara couldn't be harmed unless the Ichibi, for whatever reason, willed it.
"Yes… Mother says… it'll be okay…" patches of sand from Gaara's wrist fell away, revealing another soft layer of skin underneath. The sand continued to fall away up and down Gaara's arm, giving Sasori complete access to the arm.
Sasori pulled out a knife, and quickly sliced up the boy's arm length-wise. Gaara hissed in pain, but he didn't move to fight Sasori, so he kept working. Blood flowed freely from the wound, dripping down the ground.
Sasori was one of the few vampires who did not indulge in over-gorging himself on blood, so he simply squeezed the wound to force the blood to flow out faster. When Gaara had suffered enough blood loss, Sasori healed the wound, and handed Gaara another vial of blood. This one was nearly twice the size of Kankarou's, and was marked, 'Pein.'
Gaara drank it with such gusto that Sasori wondered if he'd drunk blood before, out of curiosity. He seemed the type to do something like that.
Sasori walked away from Gaara, and back to Kankarou. He was still awake, and starting to feel the vampire blood turning him. Sasori remembered how it felt – the burning ache that spread throughout your blood, which felt like a burning brand in your chest and like needles in your veins. Yes, he remembered it all too clearly.
"The rules of vampirism. First off, you must listen to anything our organization says – even in regards to ruling your own village. Secondly, blood magic does not work during the day… only at night. Thirdly, you must drink every day, but not necessarily enough to kill a person. Well, maybe at first," Sasori tilted his head, considering Kankarou. He noted that Kankarou was beginning to feel more of the pain from being turned.
"Well. Just remember the first one for now," Sasori shook his head. "I'll be back in a few days to discuss vampirism more. Until then," Sasori said as he melded with the darkness of the corridor, leaving as silently as he had come.
A/N: This chapter takes place around 300 years before the next chapter. And yes, Gaara has to be out-of-his-mind crazy. I also bring the Oracle thing up again… I think with just one person, I can't think of another person who has Oracle-esque powers.
M rating is for violence and some semi-sexual situations later. No lemons, unless my beta wants to write them. XD Speaking of my beta, I have one! I have a bad comma tendency, and...
Anyways. I have up to Chapter 15 planned, so hopefully I'll get that far before being attack by writer's block. I'm doing a lot at once over break now, but things might be slower when schools starts back up again.
And... that's it. Please review!