First apologies that I haven't updated in a while, with all my deadlines I forget my fics. Especially this one, it's been so long that I kinda even forgot the plot. Now I'm just trying to piece together the basics of the narrative, in a way that it makes sense. Please enjoy what I have!
Chapter 4: Honour amongst Warriors
Minato watched as suddenly everything seemed to rush past him, with only the stars above him.
He was falling, and he quickly realized that he had no energy to stop and save himself.
He was going to die.
So Minato closed his eyes, simply waiting for the impact. Instead, he felt like he was wrapped in something warm, like someone was holding him. He relished the feel, wondering if his brain was trying to give him a few moments of bliss before it was ripped away from him. So when he opened his eyes he was surprised; instead of seeing a star-filled sky...
He saw red.
Minato gasped awake with a start, only to groan and double over in unimaginable pain.
"Wouldn't sit up so quickly, we took quite a long fall."
He turned around quickly only to notice the roaring fire and the figure of the man sitting there with his back turned to him, his long red hair cascading down his back making it look like he was bathed in blood. He must be imagining things; how the hell had they even ended up here? The cliff, he had fallen off the cliff, but… the blonde looked over himself noticing that he had makeshift bandages made out of torn silk covering his chest and arm. There were a couple of bruises littering his body, other than that he didn't have any major injures. Which didn't make any sense, a drop like would have killed him if not left him severely crippled.
His gaze went back towards the youkai whose back was still turned to him; with a grunt he stood up, only to stumble in pain. His back hit against the bark of the tree, and he looked down realising that his ankle was puffed up in an angry red, probably twisted. Minato cursed and steadied himself up before limping towards the quiet youkai; he had some questions for the red-haired bastard. But as he got closer he could feel trepidation growing within him, something bad had happened, something really bad.
In the light of the fire he came to see the demon better, a gasp escaped him when he caught a better sight of him. Half of his head looked almost crushed, the side sunk, concaved in, the eyeball sunken inside the smashed socket. One of his fox-like ears looked slightly torn and folded in an odd angle. The skin around it gashed broken, bleeding and torn. His kimono was shredded and torn just like the flesh underneath in a similar state. He couldn't tear his eyes away from that sight; even though it sickened him, Minato was even sure that he could see his broken ribs and guts poking out. It looked like the demon had slid down that mountain down his side.
Looking further down he noticed the mangled legs that had been messily bandaged up, how had he managed to do that with a broken arm? He looked broken and mangled but still exuded this air of regal strength that could bring anyone down to their knees. Yet the blonde couldn't help but wonder how the demon fox had gotten into this state.
"Don't worry, I'm already starting to heal… how are your wounds?" he asked. Minato barely heard it but his voice was slightly tinged with pain.
"How did this happen?" he asked, completely ignoring the question the demon had asked him.
Red eyes looked towards him, in what he thought must have been intimidation, but with half his skull crushed it didn't have the full effect. So Minato held his ground no matter how much it hurt his chest to be standing upright.
An awkward silence hung between them, until the fox sighed and answer him. "Human bodies are weak…" he said, as if it answered all questions, and slowly turned to look in the direction of the cliff. Minato followed his gaze; at first it wasn't noticeable, but with the rising sun the blonde could make out how near the bottom of the cliff face the jagged ground sloped down into the rough terrain and pooled beneath it.
The blonde noticed how the rocks looks disturbed, split, broken, crumbling, with splatters of blood and shredded cloth. A trail of those remains following the hill until it came to a stop near a river. Something clicked inside the blonde's mind and he came to a sudden realisation. The demon had protected him, used his own body as a buffer against those sharp rocks and certain death. The demon had protected him instead of helping himself, him, a human. He turned to the injured youkai, wondering why he would do something so self-destructive.
Kyuubi, knowing that Minato had figured things out, looked away from the blonde, trying to keep his gaze away from the other. But Minato would have none of that. With some effort he managed to struggle closer to the redhead until he came to a stop right in front of the general youkai. He reached out with his uninjured arm and went to grab him, but Kyuubi was faster and snatched him mid-air. Minato gritted his teeth together in anger.
"Why… why did you…"
The kistune general frowned. "Human bodies are weak," he repeated.
This only managed to enrage the human more. "I'm not weak!" he snapped.
The youkai snorted, and then before Minato even realised it he was released and then the hand was slammed against his bandaged chest. He felt the shock go through his cracked ribcage, knocking the air right out of him. He gasped for air, his body hurt, and staggered back; his foot caught against a rock and he stumbled hard onto the ground.
Kyuubi gave him a smirk, his one good eye telling him silently 'I told you so'.
"Would you rather have died?" he asked. "You should know your limits, little human."
Minato gave him a glare as he used his arm to rub his pained chest. "And you aren't? Just look at you, you're half-dead."
"I won't die," he reasoned, as if it was just that simple.
The blonde hissed and looked away, knowing that talking to the demon would only manage to infuriate him more. He limped away from the silent youkai, trying to figure out his bearings and how to get back to him own camp. From above the cliff he had been able to see out far into the demon country, but this was almost enclosed from all sides by high jagged cliffs. The pool of clear water must either come from an underground pool or rain collection. He couldn't see any kind of route the water came from. Yet this pool seemed to supply the whole cavern; lush plants grew around the area. Blooming wild flowers, and a single strong old Alder Tree stood as a shelter for them. It was pleasant and quiet; a calm air surrounded the area, so shut off from the war torn no-man's land that surrounded it.
It seemed almost strange to Minato that this place hadn't been discovered, and stayed untouched for so long. It was like some sort of sanctuary away from all the troubles outside. But Minato couldn't stay here, he had an army to lead, and staying here wasn't an option. Yet looking at those jagged rocks and knowing his injuries, he also knew he couldn't get out of the canyon. So he was stuck here, with a damn youkai, who could kill him whenever he pleased. Whenever he pleased… like he should have already done…
He sat up, ignoring the twinge from his chest, and turned back to look at the male demon with wide blue eyes. "You could have killed me," he said.
The demon had his eyes closed; when they opened Minato noticed that the collapsed eye socket was almost back in place, so that two ruby orbs stared back at him. "What?"
"Why did you not let me die, you saved me, you treated my wounds. You could have killed me at any time, and stopped this senseless war…" and then with a ragged whisper he finished. "Why didn't you?"
The Kitsune general gave him a thoughtful look. "There is no honour in killing an injured man," he said as if the answer was that simple.
"No honour?" he repeated in disbelief. "Our sides are at war, and you were probably ordered to kill me! Honour does not matter here!"
"No one orders me human, I choose my own path. I fight when I want to fight, and I kill those I choose to kill. There's nothing more to it."
"But the war-!"
"Do you think in all honesty if you were gone it would end?" Kyuubi replied with a snort. "Don't be so naïve, human. There is always someone out there who will take your place. Someone to stand up for 'what they think is right'. I lived long enough to know the nature of both human and youkai… things never change."
Minato cursed, hating how he was undermined; he wasn't a child, he was a grown man. Leader of the Lightning country, but he wasn't inexperienced as to know that things wouldn't simply end if they defeated the demons. It was a constant back and forth between the two sides, when one side was battered down the other would come back stronger. Fighting never solved anything. He remembered the methods his sides had used; attacking during their mating season had been the worst of it. Even if it had been in retaliation of a previous crime, he found it a despicable tactic but the council had already agreed, and the butchery was carried out.
He had hated himself for not doing more to stop the act, it forever haunted him. They were after all mostly vulnerable pregnant submissives and children. The demons got back of course; they raided neutral human farming grounds, killing the people there, destroying crops and livestock. Then another attack by his people were instigated at a merchant caravan that used trade between a small human settlement. The casualties of war got out of hand involving people that didn't have anything to do with the strife of two countries.
It only managed to pull more small settlements between Konoha and Kumogakure in more of the war. The blame continued to get spread, to the point that no one knew who started the whole conflict in the first place. It was getting out of hand and Minato knew that. He glanced at the red-haired demon who had both his eyes closed and had taken a meditative pose, would it heal him faster?
Minato's brows knitted together, "You're an odd one…"
He heard a snort from behind him, "Do you know many of my kind?"
"I know warriors…"
"Then you know that a warrior never attacks someone who is unconscious and injured."
Even if that made sense, he had been brought up thinking youkai were no more than beasts. To hear this 'Kyuubi' speak of honour was somehow odd and refreshing. It was unexpected, and interested him.
Hope you enjoyed, review and join the dark side we have cookies!