Aw, I've been getting such nice reviews lately. But, for all those good reviews for the flackback chapter, a couple have slipped in involving threats and insults. Unfortunately for them, the things that they said turned me on. . . . (perverted masochistic giggle). . .
Naw, I'm just kiddin'. This here Chapter isn't a flashback, so that should satisfy all those who were pissed at me last chapter. . . .
Disclaimer: I don't own Fuermos, but Naruto and Bleach are mine. Wait. . . . . . that's not right. .
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Chapter 12: La Misericordia de Dios
In Hueco Mundo, quick actions were key to a Hollow's self-preservation. The slightest amount of hesitation... the slightest amount of moral doubt could get you killed, because no Hollow would ever hesitate goring through you in nothing more than a bloody attempt at finding food.
That... was Fuermos' greatest folly. Moralism had absolutely no place in Hueco Mundo. It's do or die, and Fuermos' generous regard for the Hollow species is what had got him killed. He believed Hollows were better than they actually were. He believed Naruto was better than he actually was. That was what his dream was centered around.
Naruto... didn't have that sort of moral obligation. He was bound by no one, and nothing other than his twisted hatred for Konoha and the Shinigami. But... that ridiculous dream that Fuermos had, by some crazy coincidence, some of their past had coincided with each other, and it all come down to two things...
...Experiments... and the Shinigami.
Naruto wasn't stupid; he knew that with every Hollow's attitude, it would be next to impossible to form any semblance of a working society. But, with him going to destroy the Shinigami, he might as well take their territory for Hueco Mundo as well, so it would be mutually beneficial if he did something like that. And... lying and saying he wouldn't fulfill it, well... Naruto just called that his punishment for attacking him in the first place.
In some twisted way, Fuermos' dream may become true; he just never would see it come to fruition or know that it would. No one would ever remember Fuermos the Adjuchas, who had had a great wrongdoing done against him by the Shinigami, and who had a big dream, in such an unforgiving world. He had never left his mark on the world, like he wished he would...
Naruto, on the other hand... well, his time was just beginning...
The small Adjuchas that was currently trudging through the sand away from his dead former friend, trying to avoid an entire kingdom that was after him. His bad mood from the confrontation with Fuermos had subsided, yet he knew he couldn't smile yet. Las Noches was a gargantuan palace, and it would still be a long way before he could reach the front gate of the great palace.
The infrastructure wasn't difficult to navigate though. The Las Noches' army, and many other high-level Hollows that had fallen into Baraggan's favor resided in large, asymmetrical buildings dotted throughout the landscape. As long as he avoided those, there were only a few outposts and some other settlements within Las Noches.
The Hueco Mundo moon loomed above his head, and he thought about how much he missed it during his three years in prison. It instilled a peculiar restless reaction in him, but more importantly, it could be used as a guide. The moon always faced north of the palace, and going by that it would mean that the front gate was in the directly opposite direction of the moon.
The Hollow actually started to get a little bored, as when he walked through the sand, he ran into no outposts or guards that would've tried to capture him. Rather, he just walked along for hours on end at the same speed, looking at the strange architecture within the palace. Naruto for one wasn't a fan of monotony, and one could blatantly knew how he felt about it when he slashed through a pile of rubble in frustration.
He could see the front part of Las Noches in front of him, but previous experience with Las Noches and the tiny looking objects in the distance told him that his sense of distance was being thrown off again, and it would take him hours to actually get there. He looked at the small objects, and if he had to take a guess, there were likely a few settlements of Las Noches Hollows living there.
The objects became larger as Naruto bounded throughout the palace, and before long Naruto could see that they were in fact settlements. Towns for the non-combat Hollows in Las Noches.
"Well, as non-combat as you can get in this place." Naruto mused. He had a sneaking suspicion that every Hollow that existed in this place was forced to fight for the palace. They lived in Hueco Mundo after all, and this was no place for pacifism. Baraggan had to get to the top somehow.
Naruto grinned viciously, and wondered how much chaos was in the kingdom on a daily basis.
"What a rotten king..." he said out-loud. He chuckled to himself, before his stance went rigid.
The smile was wiped off his face as he thought he saw a shadow out of the corner of his eye. It was to his right, in a small tower than jutted out of the sand about forty feet away.
He subtly looked at the tower, before a slight smirk appeared on his face. The shadow appeared again, apparently believing it was being sneaky enough to remain hidden from his view.
"Not stealthy enough..." he thought, as he opened his mouth slightly to form a Cero. It was better to take him out now before it attacked him.
"Graggh" came a voice from the tower as Naruto released the Cero from his mouth. The orange light completely engulfed the small structure, and when it was visible again, most of the limestone was completely unharmed, but as Naruto looked into the tower, he saw a heavily charred figure leaned up again the wall of the second floor.
It twitched for a moment, before it went completely still, a brutalized black figure against the untarnished stone. Naruto ignored the body, opting not to take a dietary break, and just continued trudging through the white sand, evil eyes scanning for an enemy onslaught.
"A guard... and an outpost. They don't look much different than any other building in the landscape; they have almost the same architecture, only the outpost was a lot more narrow. If I'm not careful here, I could receive a Cero in the head before I could even react..."
The town was beginning to sneak up on him as he walked up a small hill. The limestone buildings were becoming slightly more pronounced than just little dots upon the epic landscape. But as he got closer to "town", Naruto realized that there would likely be more guards in a congregated area.
The settlement was just at the bottom of this hill, and Naruto could hear the various sounds that permeated the area. There was muffled shouting, a strange whirring noise, and a big bang. Naruto grinned; the grisly sounds of battle and death always brought a smile to his face.
He felt a strong headwind come from the north, and it made his spikes stand on end. He shook himself warm, and was just about to walk by the settlement when a good-sized piece of parchment smacked him right in the face.
The fierce Hollow grunted in annoyance, his claws darting up to his face to grasp the piece of paper from his mask.
"Huh?" he asked out-loud while studying the dirty piece of parchment. What was drawn in black ink on the top half of the paper looked something like a crude, caricature of him, complete with an elongated mask, larger claws, and a goofy, out-of-place look on the drawing's face.
The bottom half of the paper said, Wanted! For crimes against the almighty God-King Baraggan Luisenbarn-sama. Either alert nearby guards or engage if found! There was something about a reward there as well, along with a required prayer to Baraggan.
Naruto hissed at the poster; how did Baraggan manage to get this out so fast? He screamed in frustration as he ripped up the paper, before shoving it into his mouth, making muffled noises as he ate.
There came another bang from the settlements, and as Naruto looked down towards it, he locked eyes with a small Hollow that was standing near a crude hut on the outskirts of the village.
The Adjuchas glared forcefully at the Hollow as its eyes widened profusely. It shook in its step, and began sweating profusely as it slowly backed away from Naruto.
"It's the Mask Remover. It's the MASK REMOVER!" it shrieked as it hurried back into the main part of the village. Naruto groaned in frustration, and just as he was backing away from the now hostile village, he heard hundreds of fierce roars come from within its interior. But, as he backed away from the settlement, he saw several humanoid shadows come in front of his.
Naruto stood on his hind legs, and pivoted one-hundred eighty degrees. In a fluid motion, he slit the throat of the ambushing Hollow, a soldier from the look of the insignia on its torso. He hopped in the air, and sharply kicked the dying Hollow onto one of its fellows. He pounced on that one as well, planting his feet on the disoriented guard's shoulders. The guard attempted to slice him to bits, but he stumbled because of his off-center gravity.
The guard make a choking noise as Naruto placed his paws on the soldier's neck, when then turn into a scream when Naruto tore the poor Hollow's head clean off. The muscle and sinew was no match for Naruto's strength, and it tore off easily, gushing a mountain of blood and tissue when it did.
Naruto vaguely heard another soldier shout something at him, but Naruto jumped off the body just as the offended guard fired his Cero at Naruto. The only thing it ended up hitting was the corpse of the Hollow Naruto had just killed.
Naruto's ears twitched when there came a small rumbling coming from the village behind him. It sounded kind of like. . . . . .
And maybe some galloping.
And there were hundreds of them.
"Oh shi-" Naruto thought. "That Hollow has already rounded up a posse..."
Naruto turned to run away... after he saw the group coming after him. Hundreds of Hollows, normal ones, Adjuchas, and even a few Gillian were slowly making their way outside of the settlement.
"Hmph!" he grunted. One of the guards, a restless young Adjuchas with an animal skull for a mask, had managed to get in front of him and land a fierce hit in his stomach with the spikes that he had for hands.
He had purposely gone for a non-fatal spot, so that the encounter would not kill him, but only cripple him instead. With his wounded stomach, the fox Hollow almost crumpled to the ground on one leg, but used his other to support himself and keep upright.
He stood up for a second, preparing to fight again, when he was hit from behind by some blunt force. One of the Hollows in the posse had used a projectile attack to hit him squarely in the mask.
Naruto saw bright colors, as well as a very large outpost about 100 feet behind the score of guards. How could've he been so stupid to miss it?
He didn't have time to dwell on it for long, as a few of the Adjuchas guards began to gang up on him, punching and kicking until there was a barely conscious Naruto lying in the middle of a small crater.
The Adjuchas guards stopped suddenly, laughing and jeering down at their prize. They were going to get Baraggan-sama's reward for capturing the fugitive.
The bleary Naruto looked up at his captors. His world was spinning, and in mind he saw hundreds of them, all the same, looking down on him with those contemptuous glares of theirs. He opened his mouth to say something snarky, but all that came out was some choking and gargling noises.
The last thing he saw before he blacked out were some iron shackles...
When Naruto awoke, the first thing that bothered him was the lack of the Hueco Mundo crescent moon. He didn't know how long he had been unconscious, nor did he know the place where he had been taken. The look of the architecture was a clear giveaway that he was in fact still in Las Noches, but other than that he didn't know his position.
It was a very large room, colored both light blue and turquoise. In front of him, there was a large, ornate doorway that led out to a long hall. And, two guards were flanking the doorway, looking at him smugly. He didn't want to stay here, but he knew that if he tried to leave he would have to engage those guards, causing a ruckus and probably more guards to come.
There were no windows, though some artificial light was filtering in through the wide doorway. As Naruto put his feet on the tiled floor, he noticed he was sitting at a long, turquoise table, with tall, narrow chairs that had to have some level of importance.
There were four big chairs on each side of the table, and two chairs at the foot of the table, one of which he was sitting in, his quadrupedal appearance making it quite uncomfortable to sit in the chair. He looked directly forward at the head of the table, only to see the eleventh chair completely turned around.
Naruto rapped his front paws on the surface of the table. Despite its grand size, the room he was in was surprisingly sparse. There was nothing inside this room besides the long table, and there were no decorations or furnishings on it.
The room was completely silent for a moment as Naruto stopped rapping his claws against the table, but soon after there came a noise from the opposite side of the room, like someone or something clearing their throat.
"I was wondering when they would capture you, boy... and look at that! My soldiers managed to locate you in such a short amount of time. I'll have to give them a little reward for all their hard work..." came a voice from the head of the table.
"I've got it! Now, I'll only make the guards who captured you pray to me eighteen times a day! They have proven their worth, and as a reward, my divine image is now slightly closer to their comprehension!" Naruto heard an arrogant laughter come from the head.
"And then... there's you boy. The one Adjuchas who had caused me much humiliation and rage after your little episode in the arena. You should count yourself lucky as well. Under normal circumstances, I would've sent you out to the slave's camp for you to be tortured and work for the rest of your miserable life. But no, you have caused my greatest tradition such a humiliation that you need to be dealt with in a more special way. . ."
The massive head chair turned, and Naruto watched stonily as Baraggan came into view, a skeletal grin upon his face.
"Your arena wasn't exactly the most secure thing in the world. Any moron could've broken out of it..." lied Naruto, remembering just how difficult it was and how lucky he had been to break out.
Baraggan never lost his grin.
"Tell me something, boy, do you know what this palace is made out of?" asked Baraggan.
The random question took Naruto for surprise, and when he shook his head, Baraggan grinned wider.
"You seem to think that's it made of marble, but that's certainly not the case. You see, the parts of this palace other than the sand is made up of one thing..."
". . . Hollow bones. . ."
Naruto's eyes widened.
"You get it now. Every portion of this palace is made from the bony remains of all my slaves, enemies, and armies that I have captured. I like to keep my enemies close to me, see, and so I have grafted all of them into my living space so I remember all the crimes that have been done against my godliness."
"You're a rotten king..." he repeated.
Baraggan leaned forward slightly.
"You have no right to say that after what you pulled in the arena. All you did was be exceedingly cruel to my vassals. And let's not forget that ridiculous dream of yours." he shot back, trying to get an edge on Naruto.
"I remember you telling me it when you were here grovelling with that group of Hollows. That was the reason you wanted to join my army, because you thought that if you were a part of it, you'd have a better chance of destroying the Shinigami. But now... all of your comrades are dead, and you sit before me captured, ready to face your death. Tell me, how do you plan on achieving that goal now?"
Baraggan expected a negative reaction, anger most likely, but was very surprised to see Naruto fold his hands across the table pensively, smiling slightly as he did. His breathing slowed, and Baraggan's smile fell from his skeletal face.
Naruto tapped the table several times with his sharp claws, creating a quiet musical beat with his fingers. He leaned back in his chair, looking at the guards in front of him, as well as noticing several behind them outside in the hall.
He sighed, and finally spoke.
"It means nothing. So what if my "comrades" are all dead. They were weak, falling under the hypnotic spell of Fuermos. I could never truly call those Hollows my comrades. And Fuermos himself, well... he betrayed me shortly after we left the arena, so he ceased being my comrade the second he attacked me from behind."
"As for my dream..." Naruto faltered for a second, before it said it with renewed confidence.
"You won't stop it! I'll escape from this place, and do it alone if I have to! The Shinigami and Konoha will be destroyed, no matter what the cost!"
Baraggan rose to his feet, sarcastic laughter bursting forth from his lungs.
"Like you'd be able to do it alone! There are many Hollows out there who resent the Shinigami, and dedicate their whole lives to seeing them destroyed. But your dream is the most ludicrous thing I've ever heard in my long existence..."
The God-King pointed at Naruto.
"Listen, this Konoha place, do you really believe you'll be able to destroy it alone? Even if you became a Vasto Lorde, that wouldn't happen. There's at least one Shinigami guarding every major human town in existence, and even if you're able to kill that one, Seireitei will be on your ass with backup before you're able to destroy it fully. The only way you'd be able to destroy it is if you're a king, and you use your military power to sweep the place in a matter of minutes..."
Naruto was about to say something, but Baraggan cut him off.
"And what's more, there have been kings that wanted to do something similar to that. Ones that want to rule Hueco Mundo, and then launch their armies on Soul Society. But... their plans never get past the first step. Do you know why?" asked Baraggan rhetorically.
"No..." said Naruto warily.
"It's because they get to wrapped up in their own greed! They become obsessed with taking more and more territory here in Hueco Mundo, that the fools never even launch their planned invasion of Soul Society before they get taken down!"
"So what!? I won't be like them!" roared Naruto.
Baraggan shook his head.
"You're a fool to not realize it beforehand. You ant! I'll show you what happens to dreamers within Hueco Mundo!"
With that statement, Baraggan reached inside his robe, and pulled out a long, thin yet sharp battleaxe that the king had been hiding before.
"Gran Caida... This will be your executioner's blade, and it's one that had rid the world of many lofty dreamers such as yourself. I won't even need my Respira for an Adjuchas like you..."
Naruto rose to his feet quick as a flash, readying himself for a fight.
"I wonder if I can get my Curvas off on him. Or maybe I can use another reiatsu-based attack to get him on defense. Either way, this isn't going to be an easy fight..."
Baraggan pointed his axe to ground, preparing to initiate the fight.
"Hmm. . . " Baraggan grunted as he used Sonido.
"He's fast... " he thought as he looked over to his left and saw Baraggan flash into existence.
Baraggan reared back severely, thrusting his axe out to the side in preparation for an attack.
"C-Can't block... " Naruto thought desperately.
The king delivered with the axe, barreling it through Naruto's midsection and giving the young Hollow a nasty slash. Naruto gurgled up blood, and attempted to retaliate, but Baraggan wouldn't give him the chance.
Using his pointed boot, Baraggan sharply kicked Naruto back into the left side of the wall, leaving an enormous crater with Naruto hunched over in the middle of it. Little pieces of wall crumbled over Naruto's head, adding more injuries to his already injured body.
He heard the rough pitter-patter of Baraggan's boot, and through blurry vision, vaguely saw the king approaching him. He hoisted himself to his feet, though he was struggling and was barely able to move from that point on.
"Look at that. You have such big dreams, yet you are so weak. Someone such as you could never hope to destroy the Shinigami. You're just a normal Adjuchas; destined to be eventually eaten, and not one who will evolve into Vasto Lorde status..."
"I-I'm g-going to b-become a K-King. I-I will a-achieve my d-dream, and also m-make a k-kingdom... f-far g-greater than y-y-yours could e-ever h-hope to be..." he wheezed, and although he was beaten and stuttering, he said the statement with pride, and with absolute certainty in his success.
Baraggan made a breathing noise, and the two were silent for a moment, until Baraggan raised his foot and roughly kicked Naruto straight in the head with it. Naruto cried out in extreme pain, before hitting his head against the wall and falling unconscious.
Baraggan swung back his axe again...
The Hollow king stepped away from his axe, which was embedded in the marble directly above Naruto's head. The cogs were turning inside the old Hollow's head, thinking of Naruto's previous words and the meaning behind them.
He said he was going to be a King, with a kingdom far greater than his own. And, he will achieve his dream that way. But, the real kicker was the way that this young Hollow seemed to be challenging him.
His guards were rushing up to him, questioning why he wasn't killing the little fox Hollow, and also proposing to do it themselves.
"Quiet, you ants! I'm thinking!" he roared, and the two Hollows stood as still as a statue, their postures shaking and their faces sweating. One of them was slightly relaxed, so he was slapped into shape by his partner.
Baraggan forgot the humiliation this fox had wrought on him in the arena, and focused only on what he had said earlier. If this kid became a king, imagine the threat he might pose to his kingdom. That, in essence, was a good thing to Baraggan. The other rulers around Hueco Mundo had been surprisingly reserved lately, and his kingdom hasn't participated in a battle in almost forty years.
"God's mercy will let you go free this time, fox. Just try to create a kingdom as good as mine, and we'll see how far you get in this little game. I'll accept that challenge, and if you somehow do manage to create your own kingdom, then I will personally crush it right then and there. In a glorious battle of death, destruction, and depravity. My status as a God will increase yet again, as will my territory due to dreaming fools like yourself." Baraggan whispered to the unconscious Naruto, so only he was able to hear it.
"Hey, you ants over there!" he spoke up to his guards. "This little piece of trash isn't worth killing. Carry him outside the palace and throw him in the sand like the garbage that he is. But, don't kill him, understand? I want him to live every day of his life knowing that he was shown mercy by God." Baraggan ordered.
The guards saluted forcefully at exactly the same time, walking over to the crater and none too gently hoisted the unconscious Naruto into the air. The two waddled out of the room with their cargo, trying to mentally prepare for the long journey to the gate that awaited them.
Baraggan grinned sinisterly as they left.
"I'll meet you again on the top of the world, kid. That is the exact time when you will die..."
It took the two guards nearly two days to reach the front gate of Las Noches. And that was with their quicker than human speed. Even the foyer near the main gate took almost an hour to traverse, but after that, the landscape gave way from the strange architecture to quartz trees.
As soon as that happened, the two guards swung the unconscious, wounded body of Naruto, and tossed him into the sand outside of Las Noches. He landed sprawled out on the ground next to a tree, his arms and legs spreading far apart from each other.
The two guards wiped their hands clean, as if they were trying to rid themselves of Naruto's presence. One of them, a more intelligent looking Hollow, spoke to the unconscious Hollow.
"You have been saved by the mercy of God, little Hollow. Don't say it was luck that got you out of this alive. You will have to spend the rest of your life dwelling on the fact that you are now indebted to his Highness."
The less intelligent Hollow jeered, offering to take his own barb at Naruto.
"An' don't expecht ta be given mercy twice. If we eva' see yo ugly mug 'round here again, now even 'Is Highness's grace will save ya that time. Keep tat inn mind."
The two Hollows laughed uproariously one last time, before turning to head back into Las Noches.
Naruto was left alone in the sand, friendless, wounded, and trapped in a cold, cruel world...
Woot! Chapter done!
We've got another short one this time around, though this Chapter officially wraps up the Las Noches arc. Now, we can move on to bigger and better things (cheering).
In case you haven't visited my profile, you won't know that I have now added a new feature to it. Say hello to the stories segment! (Applause). In this wonderful section, I will now be posting the next update dates for all of my stories!
However, they're not perfect, as I always set the date before I write the story. Because of that, I always give myself two or three update dates ahead of time to make up for this. Keep in mind that I could update during any one of those dates.
Translations and Other Features
Gran Caida: Great Fall