~As always, I only own the plot. I don't own the series or characters, so don't sue me.
Part One: Life and Death
Chapter Two: Cave of Trials
"I knew there was a catch," Hiei mumbled. "There's always a catch."
"Hey," Koenma said, "Nothing in the world is free. You have to give something to get something."
"And what is this something I have to give?" the fire demon questioned, annoyed.
"For Yuusuke it was essentially his freedom. Even though he's no longer the Spirit Detective, he is forever bound to me." The demon before him smirked and the demi-god blushed realizing how it sounded. "As in his soul is mine to do with as I please. If I desired for him to go on a rampage and kill all humans, he would have to obey or his soul would be painfully pulled from his body."
Hiei smirked at the lovely idea, but quickly pushed the thought aside. "If you have that sort of control over him, why don't you use that ability to order him out of hiding?"
"Yuusuke does not know I have this power over his soul." He paused. "He'd probably hate me if he knew. You know how defiant and stubborn he is when ordered to do something. I have no intention of using that power unless absolutely necessary."
The fire demon grunted. "If you're telling me I have to give you my soul to own, you can forget it."
"There are two major differences between you and Yuusuke." Koenma paused as he folded his hands and rested his chin on them. "When I revived him, he was a mere human."
"And I'm a full-fledged demon," he continued. "Meaning the price will most likely be steeper."
"Not necessarily." The prince unfolded his hands and leaned back in his chair turning it slightly to one side. "Seeing as you are a demon, I don't exactly have the ability to revive you."
"Are you going to continue with the vague responses or fully explain?"
Koenma chuckled lightly. "I have the power to do it, but I've only been trained in the ability to revive humans. The art of reviving demons has long been forgotten. However, there is still one way left; an ancient way that hasn't been used for centuries."
"What will I have to give up in return?" Red eyes stared blankly at the demi-god before him.
"Unfortunately," he started slowly, "Only the cave knows and you won't know until you reach the end, where your repaired body currently resides."
"Yes, the Cave of Trials. It was once used long ago to punish demons that terrorized the human and spirit worlds. Long before the time of Raizen and Mukuro's rule over demon world. The demon would be placed deep in the cave without any supplies of any kind, and when they reached the end, they received their punishment. However, the cave was also used to revive demons and humans before the ability to do so was developed by the gods."
Hiei raised an eyebrow quizzically. "How long ago was this cave used to revive anyone?"
The brunette chuckled lightly. "That doesn't matter. It still holds its purpose. As long as you can make it to the end of the cave without dying, you'll be able to come back."
"I'm already dead."
"This is true. That doesn't mean you can't die again. If you die in soul form, you will cease to exist. The cave has the same repercussions as Yuusuke's spirit beast." The room fell silent as the small demon no doubt was contemplating backing out. "As much as I'd like to help you here, I cannot. It's something you must go through on your own. You can still decline if you'd like."
"No," crimson eyes met hazel in a fierce gaze. "I agreed to this for my mother's sake. I have no intention of backing down."
Koenma smiled as he stood from behind his desk and slowly walked over to the spiky haired demon. "I figured you'd say that."
Suddenly, the far left wall began to part to reveal a darkened hall with dimly lit torches adorning each side every so often. The fire demon cautiously took a few steps toward the parted wall before stopping to look back at the brunette.
"This is where your ordeal begins. As I said before, I can't help you."
"Will I need a weapon?"
Hiei frowned quickly realizing that he would not receive a weapon of any sort. Grunting, he turned back to face the darkened hall before continuing his rather cautious walk towards it. Just before entering the hall, he quickly looked back to Koenma, only to see a look of seriousness and worry across the prince's face. Taking a deep breath, the fire demon took a few steps into the hall. Reaching out, he grabbed ahold of one of the few torches adorning the wall. Turning around, he noticed that the entryway was no longer there, but merely a small dip in the rocky wall.
"Tch, should have seen that coming," he grunted.
Turning back to face the cavern before him, Hiei began to cautiously walk forward until he reached a fork. Since this was a test to determine whether his soul was pure enough to be revived, he allowed impulse to dictate his decisions. His impulse pulled him to the hall on the left. It seemed like an eternity before he reached what seemed to be a dead end. The hall had dumped him into a round room, sharp rocks randomly scattered on the ceiling and ground. A dim blue flame roared softly in the middle. Red eyes stared momentarily at the flame, contemplating what to do. Should he head back and go the other direction. No, something about this flame was drawing him in. Almost as if in a trance, he slowly stepped toward the flame. As he got closer, his hand reached out to touch it. Just as he was about to touch it, the fire demon suddenly hesitated. It could be a trap the cave had set for him.
"Only one way to find out," he murmured.
Fingers barely grazing the flame, it suddenly flared out viciously, engulfing him. Oddly though, he wasn't harmed. Instead of heat coming from the blue flame, it was cool. He felt as if he were swimming in a pond. Suddenly a soft feminine voice boomed in his head.
"Do you possess the wisdom to carry out your desire?"
"Heh, only fools think they know everything," he responded almost instinctively.
Just as quickly as it had engulfed him, the blue flame seemed to dissipate around him. Had he chosen correctly? He was startled from his thoughts as a low rumbling from across the room caught his attention. The rocky wall seemed to part to reveal a dark hallway. The low rumbling suddenly got louder. His attention was drawn to the ceiling when some pebbles landed on his head. The fire demon's head snapped up only to see one of the sharp rocks falling down. He barely jumped out of the way in time. Realizing that all the rocks were falling from the ceiling, he jumped up to his feet and ran as quickly as he could to the doorway. Looking up, he saw a large boulder turning, ready to fall and block his only way out. Increasing his speed, he was close enough to the opening to dive through it, barely making it through before the boulder fell.
Unlike the previous halls, this one had no torches adorning the walls. In his hurry to escape the room, he had dropped the torch. Hiei slowly pulled himself up to his feet.
"Dammit," he cursed while pulling off his cloak. "What the hell was that?"
The fire demon ran a hand through his spiky hair. His speed seemed to be reduced to that of a normal human. Perhaps in order for him to proceed through the cave, he had to sacrifice certain abilities he had. There was no point in dwelling on that fact. If it's what he had to do to survive this cave and make it to the end, then so be it. Peeling the bandana off his forehead, he willed the Jagan to awaken. Red eyes closed and allowed the Jagan to take care of navigating the pitch black cavern.
Cautiously, the fire demon proceeded forward. The hall seemed to be never ending. He didn't dare run as a trap may be lurking somewhere in the darkness. No, much like Kurama's fighting style, he would wait this out and determine the best course of action from there. After a long while, he came to yet another fork, only this time, there were three paths to choose from. Staring at each individual path, only the middle path wasn't emanating a strange aura. The path on the left had a green aura leaking from it, and the path on the right had a red aura leaking from it.
"Well, red is one of my favorite colors," Hiei muttered as he headed toward the path on the right.
Luckily, this path wasn't nearly as lengthy as the previous hall. He quickly entered yet another round room, much like the previous one with the blue flame. The only difference in this room was the flame in the middle was red, and it did not provide any light whatsoever. Doing as he did with the blue flame, only not as cautiously, Hiei reached out and touched it. The small flame quickly flared out and engulfed his body. This time, he felt a warmth that seemed to pierce his very being. This sensation was new, he felt content and loved for the first time in many long years.
"Do you possess the power to carry out your desire?" A different female voice boomed in his head this time.
"Power isn't everything," he responded instinctively yet again.
Just as quickly as it had engulfed him, the flame dissipated. There was a low rumbling from across the room. Just as his surroundings seem to grow dark, a soft green light poured into a small area surrounding the opening. Just as the rumbling stopped, he heard something shuffling around in the areas the light did not reach. Turning quickly, he attempted to use his Jagan to see into the darkened areas. Much to his dismay nothing happened. In a slight panic, his right hand flew to his forehead, only to feel soft skin.
"Shit!" Hiei yelled while jumping back and narrowly dodging some sort of attack.
Now that the cave had taken his Jagan from him, he'd have to rely on his other senses and instinct to win this battle. Suddenly, something shot out from the darkness and pierced his left shoulder, partially disabling its use. Cursing, he reached up and pulled what felt like an arrow out of his shoulder. The fire demon heard more shuffling, this time to his right. Turning to face the noise, something pierced his right shin. Closing his eyes, he listened for even the softest of noises. His ears picked up on a faint sliding noise coming from behind him. Turning quickly, he threw the arrow in the direction that sliding sound emanated from. A high pitched unearthly wail echoed in the cavern. The fire demon was thankful the arrow hit the target.
Reaching down, Hiei pulled the arrow through his leg, and tossed it aside. Tearing off part of his shirt, he tied the fabric tightly around his wound to help slow the bleed. The fire demon began to limp slightly as he headed toward the opening in the wall. As he reached it, he took a moment to lean against it the rocky wall to catch his breath. With each step, more and more blood had leaked from his wound. Hopefully, there wasn't too much left of this cave. Pushing against the wall, Hiei began to limp his way down the dimly lit hall.
Although it felt like it took hours to reach the end, it only took minutes as the hall was very short. The hall dumped into yet another circular room in the cave. However, on the other side lay his repaired body. His eyes quickly scanned the room, attempting to find another trial of sorts. The room did have a dim green glow, but there was no flame. Not wasting any more time, he sprinted for his body. As soon as he was half way across, a booming female voice stopped him in his tracks.
"Do you possess the courage to carry out your desire?"
"Courage?" he questioned.
Apparently only a direct answer to the question was acceptable as the green light began to oddly chip apart and fly at him. He tried to dodge them, but there were far too many. The fire demon shifted to blocking his vitals as his mind tried to think of an answer.
"Courage or not, if it's something you desire above all else, then nothing can stop you!"
The light razors stopped in mid-air before quickly pooling around Hiei. The green light the swirled around him, like a small tornado. After a few moments it dissipated. The fire demon quickly collapsed to his knees, various cuts adorning his upper torso. Red eyes gazed at his body through blurring vision. He felt his energy quickly depleting. All he needed to do was reach his body. Using the last bit of his strength, he began to crawl towards his body.
"Just a little further," he mumbled just a small distance from his body. Suddenly his arms gave way beneath him. "Almost," the fire demon groaned as his hand reached out in an attempt to touch his own body.
"Please," he begged before the looming darkness consumed him.
(A/N: Wow. Like a year and half since I posted the first chapter. So sorry about that. I am definitely going to do my best to get back into a weekly update for this series. I need to have all my fanfics finished by June as I got my work cut out for me this summer. As always, if you read it, please review it!)