Crossing the River Gates
Chapter Twelve: The Chase
Love is like war, easy to begin but very hard to stop
"Get back here, forest bastard! We need you for Mira's love!" More than just a war cry than anything else, it shouted as if he was needed to be bartered for the person named Mira. Naruto looked back to the source of the voice that had echoed through the night and saw a familiar face that was chasing after him along with his posse.
Inwardly, he cursed and turned back to look where he was going, all the while muttering how Shikamaru was always right in this case.
He jumped to another branch and twisted his body sideways as he landed on a trunk before leaping to the next. Behind him, the group from Fairy Tail was giving chase.
'I hate it when you're right sometimes, Shikamaru.'
Naruto then made a short leap and raised his right hand and swung on a branch that he had latched on, the resulting momentum sent him swinging upwards and catapulting him on a much farther distance than the mages had anticipated.
"That thing's gaining too much ground! If this keeps up, we'll lose him!" Grey shouted and as if on cue, Erza equipped her Hisho no Yoroi (Flight Armor) trying to keep up with the elusive creature.
"Natsu, alert Mira of where her target is. I'll be the one keeping up with the creature, nya." She said that statement flatly as if there was nothing wrong with it, Lucy pointed at the woman.
"You're getting too much into it!"
And as if no one was bothered by her statement, Lisanna nodded, "How will we find you, Erza-san?"
She hoisted the lamp with her hand and lifted her tail as if it was part of her body.
"You can locate me with this lamp, nya."
Lucy added, "Please stop it with the nya, it's disturbing."
With that, she was off and began chasing the creature as the others were left behind.
Grey looked with a bead of sweat at the back of his head as he said to everyone, "Well, she can't be the one to capture that thing, right?"
"No, Mira-nee wants that thing caught herself. But even I don't think she'd be able to keep up with it if Erza-san is having a difficult time with it." Lisanna replied as she watched Natsu inhaling clenching his hands right before his mouth before exhaling a fireball upwards.
"I guess this isn't an S-Class job for nothing." Elfman watched as Erza attempted, futilely, to keep up with the Forest Deity as it jumped from branch to branch in a convoluted manner confusing the female mage.
The fire that Natsu sent upwards finally reached its peak and exploded like a firecracker or a flare. Mira, who had been scanning overhead, looked back and remembered that her siblings were left behind with Erza's group. In both concern and irritation, she turned back and flew towards where her siblings were.
When she made her way to the group, she looked royally pissed off seeing as they were completely fine. Her eyebrows were twitching uncontrollably as the six juniors all waved at him rather cheerfully.
Her mood already turning sour, Mirajane let out a small but strained question to them.
Lisanna gladly answered her ill tempered sister, "Erza-nee found the Forest Deity! She's tailing the creature and waiting for you to chase after it!"
"WHAT? WHERE?" Mirajane did a double take as the group pointed just to her right. A growl escaped her lips as she once again took flight, leaving all of them on their own.
"Man, it's going to suck to be that guy once Mira gets a hold of him." Grey mentioned this as they followed in a brisk pace instead, letting Natsu run wild with Happy following suit.
"You're being overly pessimistic about the whole thing, Grey." Elfman told the ice mage who replied, "You know Mira much better than I do, Elfman, and don't try to mitigate the damage of what she's willing to create to have this guy."
"Is Mira supposed to be that scary when she doesn't get her way?" Lucy asked, shaking like a leaf as she imagined a Mira destroying the entire guild house with her tantrums.
Lisanna rolled her eyes with a smile, "Oh come on. She isn't that bad. Besides, I actually think it's pretty cute of her to see the person she has fallen for after all these years. Isn't that romantic?"
"That is so out of Mira's character, Lisanna, and you know it." Grey helpfully added while they tried to keep up. Lucy simply shook her head at this and added,
"Well, in any case, I just hope we get to capture this thing in a matter of hours, this forest has been bothering me and I'd like to get out of here as soon as it's over."
'Told you so…'
Sage of Six Paths, will that voice of Shikamaru in his head with that condescending voice stop already? He already knew it was his fault, cripes!
Looking back, Naruto could see the stone (albeit cute) faced red head chasing after him while wearing of what looked like a very risqué outfit.
With a Cat Tail.
And apparently a pair of cat ears just to sweeten the deal.
"You're not getting away, nya!"
Sweet, mother of… Even a catchphrase!
Naruto just had to wonder just how mentally stable was the girl and what did he do that he deserved to be hunted down by this woman.
A loud booming voice echoed throughout the night skies, and Naruto had to take a sneak peek backwards and saw another scantily clad woman, this time with long flowing silver hair chasing after her at a speed that would even leave Gai impressed.
"HE'S MY PREY, NOT YOURS! DON'T STICK YOUR NOSE OUT ON MY BUSINESS!" The woman shouted, enough that it distracted Erza and tripped on a dirt clod, giving the blonde enough leeway to leave the two bickering women who were beginning to have a shouting match just a few yards behind him.
'Well, that turned out okay.'
Ha! In your face, Shikamaru! That will teach you in trying to be a know-it-all!
Naruto quickly jumped from the canopy of the trees above, he had to hightail it out off here or else those two crazy bitches are going to kill him! Behind him, he heard another person shout, now a man's, dashed to his position like a madman, hell bent on spearing him to the ground. Naruto shrugged as he saw the man trying to keep up with him but obviously failing. He was simply too fast.
But the boy was stubborn and kept on hounding at him even if the gap was simply far too great.
"Get back here so we can get the money and get Mira his boyfriend, damn it!" The boy shouted as Naruto began to pick up pace once more.
"Like I'll ever do that, you stupid goon!" Naruto replied and made a very sharp turn to the right, Natsu, ever the relentless hound, followed the creature that just replied to him as they ran.
Weaving through trees, Natsu was relieved when he saw the creature running at an open field! Ha! That idiot just showed himself in plain sight! No way was he going to loose him now!
A shout from Happy came in too late, as Natsu, unprepared of what was about to happen, fell down in the lake and since he didn't know it was a lake that time, his body floated like lead.
The rest of the crew managed to catch up with Natsu and Happy as the pinkette swam to shore. His clothes and scaled scarf were dripping wet, but it wasn't even annoying the pinkette, all he could think about right now was a simple question that needed answers, "WHAT THE FUCK JUST HAPPENED!"
"You fell into the lake you idiot." Grey replied.
"I SAW NO LAKE, DAMN IT! I SAW HIM RUN ON PLAIN GROUND STRAIGHT AHEAD!" Natsu pointed directly at the body of water and the sound of small waves crashing on the shore made him realize how stupid it was for him to have been tricked like that.
"Doy, genius. If that isn't a lake, I don't know what your definition of a mountain range is." Grey commented as Natsu was about to punch the ever living snot out of the ice mage.
"That would come at a later time you two, the forest deity is gaining ground from us." Lisanna helpfully pointed out towards the yellow glow that was slowly disappearing.
"Where are Erza and Mira, anyways? Those two have the best chances of capturing this thing and so far, things are looking quite difficult for everybody." Lucy mentioned, turning her head around and seeing two stretches of dust clouds rapidly making its way towards them, the blonde summoner could hear the earth tremble from their show of force and the increasing shouting match between Erza and Mira.
Lucy hadn't quite understood the rivalry between the two girls, it was as bad if not downright worse between Natsu and Grey and that was actually saying something. So seeing them squabble like this, without the supervision of Makarov, it made her look like a deer in the headlights.
The headlights from a runaway Freight Train, that is.
"Stop being stubborn and let us help, stupid Holstein!"
"I don't need your help, damn it! The day I ask for your help is the day that I fall in love with Macao, that ain't happenin' in this lifetime!"
Amidst their heated argument, the two never noticed the trail of their terra forming behind them as anything that stood in their way automatically got mowed down or sent flying.
"Don't be so obstinate! If you want to meet up with the person you like sooner then let us help you out!"
This time, Mira blushed at Erza's tirade but retaliated soon after.
"I told you a million times, it ain't happening! The person I like has got nothing with this job, so screw off!"
"Right, because Onibus town interests you with their bustling theatre arts." Erza mentioned that with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
Erza emerged from the water a split second later, now wearing what looked like a mermaid costume and was jumping to the surface of the water while speaking to the flying demon.
"Don't you dare try to be smart on me, Scarlet! My motives for this job are my own and for the last time, I don't want your help!"
"So stubborn until the very end, but even that won't help you get what you want with that attitude. Why don't you just admit it already?" Erza commented offhandedly earning a growl from the Demon.
"NO WAY IN HELL, BITCH!"
With that statement, Mira found her body enveloped in magic, eternano literally wrapping around her like a cocoon as she took of like a rocket and chased after the yellow light at the other side of the lake that was slowly disappearing.
Naruto looked back as he suddenly felt something that alerted his senses to overdrive. Behind him was a silver haired woman, bat wings spread about and scantily clad and a look that told him that she wasn't fucking around made Naruto's sense of urgency increase further.
"You're mine, you overgrown desk lamp!" Mira was coming at the creature at breakneck speed. Her hair tussled and swayed about as she dived at the creature like a bullet.
Naruto simply increased his pace and jumped just as he went out of the water and up hill. He looked back and saw Mira gaining momentum as she dashed towards him. The girl altered her flight direction and ascended to where Naruto was. The blonde then took of what looked like an unbelievable leap of faith as he jumped from the peak of the mountain side.
Mira had almost touched the hem of the creature's coat. Her hands were literally centimetres away from the blonde before Naruto vanished in a flash of yellow light.
Mira stopped dead in her tracks as her transformation ended. Her shoulders slumped down as she fell to her knees and watched in utter disbelief as the creature vanished.
"What the, it vanished just like that?" Grey mentioned in disbelief as Mirajane looked over to their shoulder. It was the entire team all caught up, and Elfman having Natsu slung on his shoulders.
By the sniffles that Natsu was making, the dragon slayer had caught a cold.
"Bless you!" The blue winged cat commented, earning a glare from the dragon slayer.
"Dat damb borest basdard… I'g ged him negsd dime." Natsu mentioned this, groggy and irritable. He had lost so badly at this thing he felt like he was a chump to it. His pride was hurt the most and he inwardly cursed his ineptitude for being not fast enough to give out help. Now with his only useful attribute for the mission gone, he was now a dead weight for the job.
"Let's head back to the inn. I'm sure the job employer can be reasoned out by tomorrow, besides, Natsu needs his rest." Lisanna voiced out, obviously concerned about the well being of the pinkette.
"I'mb bine! Dis ihj jus a binor sedbag!" Natsu reputed, only to sneeze once more before sniffing.
"Oooh, the world is spinning."
"That's it, you're going to bed, mister. That is obviously something you wish you hadn't caught!" Lisanna shouted as Elfman sighed, this was just one of the times that their youngest sibling had to boss around. Natsu, being much more boneheaded right now, meant that she would be as twice as bossy to everyone.
"I was close, SO CLOSE!" Mira recalled how that creature disappeared in a flash of yellow light. It didn't even seem possible for a creature to be that fast!
"The job description never said anything about it being able to vanish just like that." Erza recalled the request paper that was on the wall.
"In any case, we'd have to go back and talk with our client. He or she probably didn't know about the forest deity's ability to disappear just like that." Gray advised, it was to let the employer know that the creature could have been so fast that the vanishing move he did earlier was just him running faster than he already was or heaven forbid, that the forest deity has something close to a teleportation ability and that he could get away from them anytime making the whole hunt practically useless in the first place.
'It's as if it's toying with us.'
Once they arrived at the inn, Lisanna, Lucy and Happy opted to stay back to watch over Natsu who was by now sleeping like a log along with a towel on his forehead.
It only took the rest of them half an hour to find the client's house. But saying it as a house would be a terrible understatement. It was more like a mansion that it was a house, they were warned though, that the person that they were asking for was a high profile woman, if a bit eccentric.
"What makes him so high profile anyway that requires her to have a fence that's as long as half of Magnolia's Market?" Gray asked with the townspeople saying that the woman was some sort of weird pervert or something.
He would get his answer once they entered the compound.
"Ah, my most beautiful and magnificent Forest Deity, how I long to see your beauty once more!" The woman wailed as she looked at the unfinished stone statue. It was, more or less, almost a life size image of the said creature, his left arm slightly raised as a small bird perched on top of a slightly bent index finger.
"But alas, you deny me of seeing your eternal beauty!" The woman said with dramatic flair, complete with the back of her hand on her forehead and leaning slightly back. She looked rather nice with a hair band and a red kerchief tied around her neck. Her multi coloured blouse and red tight fitting pants displayed her well shaped legs and her brown eyes matched nicely with her chocolate brown hair.
"Why, why do you torture me so? Why do you deny me of immortalizing you? Why do you deny ME of such a thing?"
Now if only she wasn't so... Eccentric.
"Um… Excuse me?" Erza asked with hesitation. Her words of intrusion however, were not heard behind the tirade of the eccentric artist (sculptor?) and her sense of dramatic flair.
"It pains me that I may never see your light in my own lifetime again!" She continued, now starting to let out sobs. Gray didn't look like he was about to care. In fact, he wanted to abandon the whole damn thing and go home. He turned to his teammates and began to suggest that they just leave it up to the cook who sculpted a near perfect image even if it was halfway done.
"It looks like she's not going to listen, Erza." Elfman commented on the woman's strange behaviour and Erza replied with a nod.
"I say we forget about the whole thing and just look for Mira's future boy toy already. We've beaten around the bush long enough." Grey suggested, finances aside, Mira could just live off from the endorsements she's been receiving because of Weekly Sorcerer.
In fact he was pretty sure that Lucy told them once that she was jealous of Mira.
Jealous of her money, of course, there wouldn't be anything else for that woman's greed.
"I do not have a fucking boy toy! Say that again and these tiles won't be the only thing that will decorate this floor!"
As to make her point, Mira lightly tapped the tiles with her heels.
Her sharp, pointy and likely stabbing high stiletto wearing heels, as a matter of fact.
Gray visibly paled.
"No, a job is a job. If we fail this job, we'll be putting a taint in Fairy Tail, as invalid as that argument has become, however. But I will ignore it for a moment. If only to not let that creature get the satisfaction of it beating us so effortlessly. The Forest Deity WILL be captured one way or another." Erza shook her head at the mere thought of giving up the job. It wasn't even like her to just let it go like this!
Hearing the name of the creature, as if a cue for the said woman she turned back to the group and made a mad dash towards them, "Forest Deity?"
Her eyes suddenly sparkled at the thought of a group of mages finally winning her the prize she had yearned for in the past four months. Her hands clasped together as she asked, bedazzled at the current group that had finally captured her long awaited dream, "Have you found my eternal masterpiece?"
Erza looked sideways and seemed somewhat reluctant to answer seeing as how enthusiastic the artist was. She looked to his team who were staring at her expectantly all the while turning back to the girl who still had that spark in her eyes, admiration still filling them.
"Well, uh, no, to say the least..."
"WHAT?" The girl literally shrieked. Her voice earned a flinch from both the ice mage and the beast man while Mira looked on annoyed as Erza told her of the events that occurred prior to the creature's disappearance.
"THEN WHAT WAS THE POINT OF YOU PIECES OF SHIT COMING HERE IN THE FIRST PLACE?" She hollered, earning another flinch from Gray and Elfman.
"YOU ARE ALL STANDING ON HOLY GROUND, PLEBIANS! YOU DO NOT DARE ENTER THE COMPOUND OF THE GREAT IZUNA OF THE IMMORTAL HANDS! DIDN'T THE MISSION SPECIFICALLY STATE THAT YOU ONLY GET TO ENTER MY HOUSE ONCE YOU HAVE CAPTURED MY ONE AND ONLY PRECIOUS FOREST DEITY? YOU MAGES CERTAINLY DON'T FOLLOW DECORUM!"
To this, the woman pointed to Gray whose shirt was now gone causing the red headed mage to elbow Gray in the stomach for unconsciously taking it off.
Gray grimaced and looked around for his button up shirt. No wonder the townspeople said that they should associate themselves less to this woman. She was worse than an army drill sergeant and had a superiority complex that would completely blow Laxus' own ego out of the water. The quartet was now backing away from every step that their client was taking and was now at the edge of her door.
"YOU FAILED YOUR MISSION, NOW GET OUT! I DON'T WANT ANYTHING TO DO WITH YOU IMPURE BEINGS DESECRATING MY HOLY LAND! OUT, OUT, OUT!"
"But we didn't even say that we're done chasing the creature..." Erza weakly countered her point but she was met with a door slamming in her face along with a loud scream that would have awoken even the heaviest of sleepers.
"I DON'T CARE HOW MANY TIMES YOU BUNCH OF IMPERFECT CREATURES TRY TO EXCUSE YOURSELVES TO NOT EVEN BRING BACK MY MOST MARVELOUS FOREST DEITY! IF YOU HAVEN'T DONE YOUR END OF THE BARGAIN WELL THEN GOOD RIDDANCE!"
"So much for mission report..." Gray muttered earning another elbow thrust, this time from Mira.
"As a man, I simply cannot take her insults. There are simply no words to describe her demeanour towards us. As a man, you should respect your fellow man and show your displeasure through your fists!"
Gray had the common sense to correct the male of Mira's siblings, "But she's a girl."
Elfman could only answer with a simple, "Oh."
"I don't care if she's woman, nobody gets away insulting me like that! Even worse, nobody gets away from insulting me!" Mira was about to tear down the woman's door and show her own state of violence when Erza stopped her and chastised her for her uncontrolled rage.
"We don't have to deal with Ms Drama Queen to get the job done. Since she doesn't want anything to do with us anymore, then so be it. Bet let it be said that we will catch this thing, and show to her face just who is superior." With that, Mira calmed down as Erza gave a small grin on her face as she continued to add.
"Besides, it wouldn't be good to have your future boyfriend discover your name is already tainted with something scandalous as beating up a defenceless artist."
Mira pointed an accusing finger to her friend and shouted, "Shut up! For the last fucking time, I'm in here for the job not to have a fucking boyfriend! It's not too hard for you to remember and stick it in you!"
Gray quickly whispered to Elfman who was snickering from Mira's statement, "That's what she said."
The demon instantly heard that statement and growled at the ice mage, who in turn ran like hell as the woman with takeover magic began chasing him back to the inn all the while blasting him with her magic with Elfman following suit to try and calm her sister down before anymore collateral damage was done.
"Sometimes I wonder how we reached the level of success we have now with these kinds of guild members." Erza mentioned this as she gripped the bridge of her nose and shaking her head in dismay.
Back at the inn, as Lucy and Lisanna kept watch over Natsu that slept like a rock alongside Happy, the short silver haired girl couldn't help but remember something she and most of her guild mates almost forgot about this town.
Lucy, who had been looking over at Natsu then back to Lisanna who was looking out the window, couldn't help but notice the youngest of Mira's siblings' giving off a melancholic smile.
The stellar spirit mage had to ask, "Hey, you look as if you're trying to recall something wonderful, would you mind talking about it?"
Lisanna shook her head at Lucy's question and smiled once more, "I don't mind at all. It's just that this place made me recall a few friends we had back then in the guild."
Lucy couldn't help but question Lisanna's statement.
A past tense?
"Had?" Lucy asked in confusion to which Lisanna nodded with a smile.
"Yes, had. They were a very colourful group of people, Lucy. I'm sure you'd get along great with Sakura, Hinata or Ino. Get annoyed with Shikamaru's snarky attitude, be amazed with Lee's abilities and laugh at Kiba's antics."
Lisanna remembered the last mission they did that Erza shared with the rest of the guild. She had never seen Erza so impressed with a certain group at that time and to see her telling them the story of their last mission so enthusiastic made their guild master smile from ear to ear.
"It was the first time Erza became so earnest about something not entirely related to jobs. She was so impressed that I think she once dubbed them as role models that all guild members should follow."
"Well, what happened to them?" Lucy asked, Lisanna looked back to Natsu and replied, a bit of melancholy in her voice.
"They had to leave. They had something to do, Sakura said that it was important and that it took all other things to be second to their priorities and move away. After they said they were leaving for Onibus town, we never heard from them again."
"So that's why you were looking out of the window, huh?" Lucy replied, and Lisanna nodded.
Before Lisanna could reply with a nod of her head, they both heard a voice of a female coming from the door.
"Hello? Is anyone in there? I'm here to see the patient!"
That's weird. They never even called for a doctor to check up on Natsu, especially not at this time of the night.
Lisanna carefully reached for the door and peered through the looking hole to see who it was. To her surprise, she saw a familiar face she hadn't seen for so long.
Lisanna immediately opened the door and the pink haired shinobi blinked in surprise. Mirajane's sister, Lisanna was at the door and hugged her very tightly, almost dropping Sakura's bag of medical equipment. Lisanna had noted that Sakura had grown, her hair was slightly longer now and she was a bit taller as well. Her outfit now consisted of a white cotton overcoat over her simple red blouse and black form fitting shirts that was covered once more by her leather satchel.
"Lisanna? What are you doing here?"
Lisanna took a step back and looked over at Natsu as she said, "We had a slight complication about our current job."
Lisanna looked sheepish at this as Sakura looked over to a new pretty face in the room.
"That's Lucy. She's the newest member of the guild!"
Sakura smiled at the girl and nodded, "I'm sure you're still adapting to the life of a guild member of Fairy Tail. Especially once you get to know Natsu and the others."
Lucy nervously gave a nod to the pink haired girl, so even she had to deal with Natsu's rambunctious nature (forget Natsu, the entire guild qualifies too).
"So tell me what exactly happened here that you brought Natsu at the inn and not at the hospital? He looks like he's about to keel over and die!" Sakura pointed to Natsu who was sleeping motionlessly as the pink haired girl opened her bag for her stethoscope and thermometer.
Lisanna then told her about their current job and how difficult it got. It was when the youngest of the Strauss siblings told her that Natsu was tricked into the lake that made Sakura chuckle while placing the thermometer on Natsu's armpit.
"Well, that certainly sounds plausible. This is Natsu we're talking about here." Sakura said as she motioned for Lisanna and Lucy to help her move Natsu and position him sideways as Sakura began auscultating Natsu's upper back.
Shizune had made it clear to her, medical ninjutsu isn't exactly forbidden, but a true and successful medic required much more than just jutsu alone. If it can be helped, use minimal chakra intervention as possible.
'Well, there's definitely crackles and rhonchi present. Fever's about a hundred and one and has telltale signs of shivering.' Sakura thought as she grabbed the thermometer from Natsu's armpit and placed her stethoscope hanging on her shoulders.
"Well, he's got the flu alright. Just let him take a lot of fluids and rest and he should be good to go." Sakura then grabbed something from her bag and handed it over to Lisanna.
"Here, he should take this every four hours or every time his fever goes bad. Its medicine used to bring his temperature down if it goes back tomorrow. If it goes bad, you can tell it to the innkeeper and I'll have you moved to the hospital here since I work part time as a medical staff there."
Lisanna looked at her with questions that were filling her head, "Sakura, I want to know how you and the others have been? You've never really wrote us back after you disappeared from the face of the planet. No one seems to have seen you apart from that train incident to Onibus Town and that was two years ago."
Sakura remained silent for a moment as Lisanna let out her grief over them. After all this time, two years to be exact, she still trusted them, and wished that they keep in touch. Sakura couldn't help but feel a little guilty. Sakura wanted to tell her the truth, but to tell to Lisanna of what their job is right now would be too dangerous. If word got out that the Magic Council was hiring an unknown and unregistered guild, they would be compromised and all sorts of controversy would ensue that would discredit the highest authority on magic of the country. Kakashi had advised them that in order to keep the town from being too suspicious, they had to take normal part time jobs apart from their real work as a way to gather more information just in the town. Kiba worked at a nearby pet shop, Ino was working part time as a florist along with Hinata, Tenten worked at the local smith and so on while some would go from town to town to travel and gather info there. She, as being in a field of the shinobi arts that consists much more normalcy than others, decided to work at the local hospital. By the end of their first year here in Fiora, she had earned much more money than any of her friends on additional income.
"Oh, we've all been busy. We're earning enough money to gain any information we can get on how to get back home. I don't think all of us had enough time to write a letter." Sakura said with a sheepish look telling Lisanna that she was a bit embarrassed about the whole thing.
Sakura then added, "I need to go back. It's ten in the evening and my shift is over and I'm just too tired today. Sorry for not seeing you all after all the times you've been there for us."
Lisanna only left out a simple sigh, "I'm just glad that you're all safe."
Sakura gave a smile at Lisanna for this and reassured her, "You take us too lightly."
And with that, Sakura went out the window instead of going through the front door.
Lucy stood amazed. Such a woman who could double as a medical practitioner AND a supposed mage? In her own way, this Sakura person was like a monster!
As soon as Sakura had disappeared from their sights, Mira and Gray (looking like the devil had just chased him), arrived at the inn. Mira wasn't looking too amused while Gray was shivering from head to toe.
It was then that Lisanna, exuberant and happy, told her news about finding Sakura and possibly the rest of her group. An idea soon formed in Mira's head when she sat down. Perhaps a little help and information from the ninja crew (she so aptly dubbed) would be beneficial. Besides, she'd rather enlist the help of Shikamaru than she would let her pride sink and resort to Erza. She wasn't THAT desperate.
The Next Morning:
"HOW COULD YOU BE SO CARELESS LAST NIGHT?" Sakura screamed and literally punched Naruto so hard that the blonde smashed through the wooden wall and out into the forest floor.
The blonde twitched slightly and answered in between groans of pain, "I never really expected someone to have a reward in capturing me, let alone that crazy bitch that lives near the theatre."
Shikamaru shook his head at this, "See, this is what happens when you ignore what I said for more times than I can count. I told you to practice your Chakra form here in the compound. This is just one of those things that I have to say that I told you so."
Naruto promptly replied to the shadow user, "Shikamaru, shut the fuck up."
It was fortunate that Ino was covering Wendy's ears while Tenten was covering Charle's.
"Now you've got high profile mages prowling the forest here for who knows how long!" Sakura replied cracking her fists as she approached the blonde.
"But didn't dickless over there toy with them before slipping from their grasp permanently? And he WAS actually wearing a mask so nobody saw his face." Sai added helpfully while Ino and Tenten covered Charle's ears once more. The vulgarity around the group increased somewhat when they had these kinds of arguments outside of mission briefings.
"Sai! When this is over, I'll go over there and kick YOUR ass!" Naruto retorted earning a kick to his abdomen by Sakura.
"YOU'RE IN NO POSITION TO TALK, YOU IDIOT!" Sakura shouted kicking Naruto now this time to his sides.
"Sakura-chan, those were my ribs..." Naruto replied in agony as he rolled on the ground.
"Naruto was very fortunate though, if for a fact that he tricked the Dragonslayer in following him onto the small lake. I highly doubt that they will continue with the mission with the way their best tracker is currently out." Shino chastised the pink haired kunoichi. Her shouts could be heard almost a mile away. Ino, disputed the bug user's argument.
"Fairy Tail isn't known for quitting jobs just like that. It's a matter of guild pride that they had ever since. Making them quit this job is like making Kiba here tone down his hormones to a low."
"Hey, I resent that!" Kiba retorted earning a flat look that didn't convince any of his friends. The silence that followed after those stares made Kiba growl in anger.
"Fine! I'm a horny teenage boy, fucking sue me!" By this time, Tenten had escorted the kids out of the room.
"HAHA- OH GOD, MY RIBS!" Naruto then decided to refrain from speaking entirely lest he obtain more bruises from his female teammate.
"Getting back on track, how will we be able to get them to back off from the hunt?" Chouji asked in concern, now cringing from his friend's beatdown more than anything else and taking away Sakura's attention from the blonde who was now a heap of bruises and lumps on the ground.
Shikamaru now deep in thought, simply replied, "Well, we can always tell them to keep quiet about it, seeing as they never said anything even after we left."
"And risk a compromise from both parties especially with someone like Natsu who can't keep a secret?" Sakura asked, eyebrow raised from Shikamaru's question, obviously it was rhetorical but Shikamaru, always as sure about his decisions, replied.
"No, hear me out. For the past two years that we have known Fairy Tail, not once had they talked about us being involved in that incident with the illegal lacrimas. We can tell them we only take odd jobs, but we can omit anything that has to do with the magic council."
Ino promptly reminded the strategist, "You realize that you risk exposing us to the public right?"
Shikamaru replied with confidence, "With that train incident and with that busting of a syndicate two years ago, Fairy Tail made the move to keep quiet and not claim anything from it. Makarov's group can be trusted, I know it."
"Well, there goes that problem. Our biggest concern now would be to explain everything to Kakashi or God forbid, Anko." Kiba replied with a shudder at that.
Tenko had never intended to use violence in a fight if it could be helped. He had never intended to mount a single man's assault on a guild mentioned as Death Head Caucus for his benefactor, Jellal. In fact he never expected that he would have to go through every single fucking member of this blasted guild all because of a poor choice of words to its most prominent team!
"You're needed by a member of the magic council, come with me right now."
Then, after that, it was pure pandemonium.
Death's Head Caucus, nothing more than a steaming pile of complete hot air. This was a guild filled with assassins? Such a joke warranted nothing to be laughed about. This nameless guild was filled with amateurs.
"Your group bores me to death. Am I supposed to fear such a pathetic guild?" Tenko replied, looking around a group of people, groaning in pain as they were devastated by him in a matter of moments, he wasn't even using his own brand of magic!
In front of him stood his targets, the group known as Trinity Raven. Master class assassins and even they were cautious around this black haired boy with the metallic arm and a sword by his organic hand.
"You are merciless, you display your skill in such a manner that it insults me. You taunt me with your words and destroy our morale; I can see death in your hands; a cold display of a beast, fearless and unforgiving, a ghastly sight." Ikaruga mentioned, her eyes never drifting from the raven haired boy but she could tell how much devastation he had caused in matter of mere minutes.
She was standing against a truly terrifying opponent.
"Fukuro, stand down, you cannot possibly take this man. I alone will be enough to..." The one with the long hair asserted himself to the man with an owl's head but was cut off when the boy in front of them spoke his name.
"Vidaldus Taka. Highly touted in Death's Head Caucus as a Puppet Master, can manipulate and control people against their wills with something called guitar magic." Tenko had pronounced, his emotion of apathy never leaving his face as he took a step forward.
"Your magic is the most dangerous of the three. It is wise that I take you out first."
With movement as fast as lightning, Tenko was already at the side of his intended target, sword drawn in a reverse grip, before skidding to a halt at the opposite end.
The tacky assassin couldn't react fast enough as a diagonal slash appeared at his chest and blood spilling out so suddenly as he fell to the floor.
"Put your mind at ease, I never intended to kill you. You are needed by my benefactor, and it would be wise to leave you all in one piece."
Tenko then swung his sword to the side to throw the blood away from his blade. Vidaldus' life giving fluid staining the floor, Fukuro was but one who didn't take Vidaldus' defeat much too easy.
"Judgement Hou!" Fukuro then let out a beam of yellow energy from his right fist and Tenko simply leaned to his right, letting the energy pass him as the force somewhat ruffled his hair slightly. The raven haired boy then took a step forward and charged at Fukuro with the same speed he used against Vidaldus only to be matched by the owl head's jet pack who was about to ram into him a split second later.
As if his body was obeying his mind's commands perfectly, Tenko jumped and flipped in midair before tossing his sword straight at Fukuro's equipment. The sword embedded itself on the jet pack and soon it began to buzz and malfunction as the owl man was sent careening down to the floor head first. Tenko wasn't done though as he once more approached the man in super human speed while Fukuro was about to fall down. Tenko pulled out the sword embedded at the mechanical pack and punched it so hard with his metallic fist that it broke through the steel and sent the owl man crashing into the wall and embedding himself in it face first.
Sasuke then flexed his non-organic fingers as he remembered the sensation of having both his pain receptors and his motor neurons be attached by this type of mechanical prosthetic.
'My body is reacting to actions that shouldn't be anticipated. That Fukuro's Jet Magic should have crashed into me the moment I was caught off guard.' Tenko thought about this as Ikaruga approached him, her left hand already making way to her blade, Mugetsu-Ryu (Form of the Moonless Sky)
'Yet, I saw it as clear as day, as if he was moving in slow motion, as if I knew what was to happen next.'
Tenko then spun his chokuto once more and held it in a reverse grip. Ikaruga already unsheathing her blade, she looked at Tenko oh so cautiously. The speed that this boy had just produced, somewhat rivalled her own. Vidaldus and Fukuro could never keep up with her and this boy was toying with them like they were nothing.
"It is to be expected. After all, in a match against power and speed, speed shall always be the victor."
"I sense power within your eyes, warrior. It seems like it is fate that I may have a chance to fight you, knowing that you battle with the same principles as I do."
By this time, Ikaruga's Mugetsu-Ryu was drawn in full effect, its blade shimmering in the light as Ikaruga held it sideways with one hand before going for a defensive stance of resting the blunt part of her nodachi at her shoulders and facing it in front her yukata billowing from the chilling wind as Sasuke's long coat did. Their eyes, never taking off from one another as Tenko began to slowly walk towards her.
"Yasha Senku (Yasha's Empty Flash)..." Without even moving a muscle, Ikaruga's magic took place, slashes from multiple areas around Tenko became apparent and the raven haired boy was soon alerted by a small cut on his bangs. Tenko leaned to the side as another slash had almost cut his head open as he stepped back. Throughout Ikaruga's attack, Tenko kept looking around trying to figure out just how he could get through the pink haired assassin's attack.
'It's impossible to anticipate them like this and I can't see where they are all coming from! How is she doing such a feat without even moving a single muscle?' Tenko thought about this as he was avoiding the slashes in futility.
Another nick on the back of his leg, Tenko finally had enough. Tenko planted his chokuto on the floor and stepped on it with his left foot as he jumped and flipped in the air backwards with his speed. His organic hand stretching at his front aimed at Ikaruga who was looking at him strangely.
"Shin En Maho: Shun En (Sacred Fire Magic: Flash Flame)!" Tenko shouted and snapped his fingers. The sword that Tenko left planted on the ground brought forth a wave of orange superheated flames and went to Ikaruga so fast that she was almost engulfed in them. Tenko wasn't done yet as he his eyes told him that Ikaruga would survive such a feat of magic.
Tenko grabbed the sword planted on the ground as he dashed forward into the flames that was now scattered.
Ikaruga had somehow managed to cut the flames with her blade. She was lucky that she was paying attention to the man's intent. No one in their right minds would be that flashy and leave a weapon behind in his disadvantage. What she hadn't expect was the execution of magic that the boy can command to his sword without him touching it.
'Sword magic? No, he wasn't even touching his blade. It must be some new flame magic then.' She would not get the chance to recollect her thoughts as Tenko had soon emerged from the flames, blade drawn in a reverse grip as he charged at her.
"You are too naive to have met a swordswoman at her front. You stand no chance of victory!" Ikaruga then raised her arms and the sword went above her head, with a downward slash, Ikaruga shouted at the boy, "Karura-en! (Garuda Flame)"
As the blade hit the ground, a wave of magical flames headed straight to Tenko, who jumped to the side, the left part of his clothes were now slightly singed as the metallic prosthesis that was supposed to be his left forearm grew hot.
Tenko rolled in midair to the side as he landed on the wall his feet flexed to one of the pillars and recoiled as he charged straight to the swordswoman, his chokuto drawn out.
"Shin En Maho: Jouka En no Tsurugi (Sacred Fire Magic: Sword of Purifying Flames)!"
His sword was soon engulfed in orange fire as he charged straight to Ikaruga, who had clashed her sword with the boy's. Tenko somehow foresaw of what will happen next and let go at the last minute, the woman cutting the sword of sacred flames before she felt an uppercut straight to her abdomen and a hand slapping away her grip forcing her to let go of Mugetsu-Ryu.
"This is your loss." Tenko said to her, and Ikaruga got a closer look to his face, or more specifically, his eyes. The boy's eyes were no longer black, they were red. As red as a sea of blood, three comma like objects swirled around per iris as Tenko looked at her with intensity. Who was this person?
"Shin En Maho: Hitodama (Sacred Fire Magic: Will-o-wisps)" Small round flames, now burning blue, encircled both Tenko and Ikaruga. The pink haired assassin could merely watch as the flames encircled them and danced in between, the temperature around them became hot and she could feel Tenko's magic was burning not only her flesh, but somewhat her soul.
She had lost, terribly.
"That was a good match..."
Mira was confused, earlier this morning, Sakura and her group had invited her at a local restaurant to talk about something. Being that they haven't had any sort of communication for two years, Mira assumed that this was somehow their way of apology.
Natsu had come, and despite protests coming from Erza that he needed to rest, the fire dragon slayer became too stubborn for his own good. Many of them noted that he probably missed the group as much as they did.
Looking around, Mira ignored the glances given to her by a lot of men (and some women) and tried to find at least a tussle of pink hair that wasn't Natsu in crowd behind a perfectly clean stained window. Her search was stalled however, when he saw something yellow and spiky just outside the restaurant. Mira's eyes squinted and looked once more, the head of the person she was searching for seemed lost with the crowd. Mira's frustration skyrocketed again and growled under her breath. She was about to shout out so loud for everyone to notice her including the boy when a voice had interrupted her thoughts.
"You're right on time." A familiar voice had said, Mira turned around, and saw a taller version of Shikamaru complete with a small patch of hair on his chin and wearing a casual navy blue long sleeve and a simple pair of black pants, waving at them so casually as he informed one of the waiters for his reservation.
"I figured a barbeque would all suit your tastes right now and maybe some soup for Natsu by the looks of it." He added that last part with a hint of amusement in his voice.
"I'm bine Shigamaru! Leeb by heald alone!" The dragon slayer shouted at the shadow user defiantly before sniffing and wiping his nose. Lucy looked disgusted.
"By the way Shikamaru, this is Lucy. She just recently joined our guild." Lisanna lightly shoved the blonde girl forward as Shikamaru nodded before turning back to Natsu.
"Okay Natsu, whatever you say." Shikamaru replied so casually with a shrug as he motioned for the group of Fairy Tail to follow him to a more private room.
Once they entered, Lucy saw a group of really colourful people in her book. A boy with shades, at least a bit older than her, wearing a pair of sunglasses a scar on his right ear and a coat and hood that made him look like a shady dealer by the side of a dark alley. Beside the boy was another boy, wearing a leather jacket and a white shirt underneath. His brown hair was spread out everywhere on his head while a rather big dog was laying behind him the thing that got her attention though, was the red streaks on his cheeks like it was face paint. To her right, she saw a big, fat brown head that was donning a big red button up shirt and a pair of swirls aligning his cheeks. To the big man's side, was a blonde woman, staring at the fat man with a queasy look that told Lucy that she was about to barf.
There, she saw the pineapple head with the developing goatee sitting beside the blonde and beside him, was Sakura, the pink haired volunteer from the local hospital that helped Natsu recover by a little. She looked annoyed at something while to her side was a rather good looking pale skinned boy holding what looked like a sketch pad a seemingly creepy smile plastered on his face.
"You want some fish?" Happy asked to his fellow flying cat who looked quite surprised at the blue exceed's gesture.
Beside them, sat what looked like a pair of rather elegant looking siblings both with flowing long hair and white eyes. While the taller of the two was drinking tea uprightly, the other was talking to a girl with a pair of buns for her head rather formally just two seats across them while a small girl was eating a few snacks with her pet cat just near her, a perpetual frown on her face while Happy was propositioning the said female cat.
To the side of the girl with a pair of buns for her head, sat a boy with a strange and admittedly ugly bowl style haircut that she only saw in the theatres that had an eastern influence, the boy seemingly looked serious as he sat much too upright, too rigid compared to the siblings.
Shikamaru then told them to sit down and looked around, "Naruto still isn't here yet?"
"Something came up with Kakashi-sensei a few minutes ago, Naruto-kun is probably talking to him right now." Hinata answered as Shikamaru sighed.
"He'll come back once they're done." Chouji answered casually picking up another piece of meat and placing it in his mouth.
"I am amazed at how much money you have amassed in just a short period of time, Shikamaru." Erza commented as she looked around. This place looked like something that high ranking council members from Era would regularly go to if her guess was correct.
"Not really, this is just because we do good business. Kakashi-sensei's just a good manager." Shikamaru answered earning an amazed look from Lucy.
"In that short amount of time, they managed to gather enough money to treat strangers to five star restaurants..." Lucy mumbled, counting the dividends in her head as she drooled at the prospect.
"So. Much. Money..." She mumbled once more, earning a look from Happy and pointed to his group.
"Hey, I think Lucy's going insane."
"Lucy's just being a man." Elfman replied, earning a small set of laughter from the other group while Lucy glared at Mira's younger brother.
It was then that they heard a slam on the door that their laughter stopped as they turned their heads. By the door stood Naruto, wearing a simple black shirt, a pair of orange pants and a pair of green wrist cuffs. Everyone was silent, especially Mira who looked much more surprised than she had anticipated and Lucy who was contemplating how he looked so much alike with a person she new back in Hargeon Town. The blonde scratched the back of his head apologetically and replied.
"Ah, sorry about that, Kakashi-sensei just talked to me a few minutes ago. It was really important."
"Sit your ass down so we can begin, man. You know if you don't arrive on time, Chouji's going to have all the meat!" Kiba shouted to the blonde who replied,
"Whatever, dog breath."
Naruto then sat beside Wendy who looked quite annoyed when Naruto began ruffling the girl's hair. Lucy curiously looked at her fellow blonde eyeing him from head to toe especially his face.
Same manners, same demeanour, and his face really matched the girl that she had met before. Perhaps this boy was Naruko's sibling?
"Excuse me, but have we met before?" Lucy asked, and Naruto chuckled. Holding up a handseal, a cloud of smoke exploded around him and transformed into a bombshell girl version of himself.
"Nice to see you again, Lucy." Naruko then gave a playful grin with a wink and blowing a kiss to the blonde summoner.
Lucy's jaw dropped.
"I LOST TO A GUY WHO CAN TURN INTO A GIRL!" Lucy shouted, somewhat outraged, but much more depressed when she had suddenly realized.
Naruko then repeated her consoling words to Lucy, "If it makes you feel any better, Lucy, a thousand jewels is a lot."
The Stellar Spirit mage simply turned to a corner and lightly hit her head on the wall before her tears turned into miniature rivers.
"Is there something I should know about?" Mira asked and everyone except for Naruto and Lucy shrugged.
Introductions came after that as the ninjas introduced themselves along with Wendy and Charle while the Natsu and company did as well.
"Alright, let's get straight to the point."
Everyone turned to look at Shikamaru who cleared his throat a little as he gave a calculating stare at Natsu and company. His eye fell on each and every member of Fairy Tail. His eyes fell on Erza as he began,
"First off, let me remind you that this meeting doesn't get out of here. To the others from this town, this will only be a simple meeting with a few people who you hadn't seen for several years. When you go home to Magnolia, you shouldn't utter a word of our well being. We don't like people disclosing information about us not when two of our biggest threats are still out there possibly waiting for us to make a move."
Lucy had raised her right hand up, "Um, if it's okay with you, I want to ask you about who you are and why do you want us to keep quiet?"
"They are honorary allies of Fairy Tail. At least, seven of them are. The rest either came by only in the guild just once or completely new to me. They came to Magnolia two years ago, hoping to earn some money to look for their friends and possibly find their way back home. After a certain incident, one of ours managed to find a part of their group and went off to Onibus town, never to be seen or heard from again ever since." Erza answered for the group. Lucy nodded her head, the sudden shift of casual talk to seriousness quite frankly unnerved her.
"Did you perhaps hear of that big scandal at the town south of Magnolia two years ago that involved the mayor selling smuggled and unstable Lacrima to the black market who was kidnapping children?" Lisanna asked to Lucy who nodded.
"Yes, I heard of that. Two years ago, there was a mayor who kidnapped children who were curious enough to enter an old abandoned house that was in the mayor's property. I heard that Fairy Tail had a hand in uncovering the case and caused a major riot to happen around town." The Heartfilia heir answered. She had heard of this one of the very few saving reputations that Fairy Tail had gained. If it wasn't for that moment of publicity, she was sure that the guild would have a worse PR problem that it had now. But she wasn't sure how this was related to the group. Erza, Gray and Natsu all claimed credit for what happened back there. It was even on the news for several days and had an article of its own in the Weekly Sorcerer!
"That man..." Erza then pointed to Shikamaru who was resting his chin on his palm as his elbow leaned on the table.
"... Is the one responsible for orchestrating the entire job. He's their tactical advisor and strategist. It just so happened that we were assigned to be their backup once master allowed us to take part on that dubious mission."
Lucy looked on in awe as Shikamaru gave a chuckle, "You make it as if I'm some bad guy here, Erza. You're probably scaring the newbie."
Lucy looked down on her table in despair, "Even with the honorary members I still don't get the respect."
Mira kept staring at the Naruto who was too busy playing with Wendy as she asked in a serious tone, "You're one of them?"
The whole room turned quiet as Wendy and Naruto stopped playing for a moment and stared back at the silver haired girl who looked more curious rather than hurt. All around them, people were staring at the two. Gray, Natsu and Lucy all looked quite surprised that this was probably the person that Mira was crushing on.
Naruto gave a light laugh as Wendy promptly jumped to his shoulders and seemingly didn't even look startled by it.
"Yeah, we had an oath of secrecy that pretty much guaranteed we couldn't give out our names when we're so vulnerable back then. We were separated, and Kakashi-sensei was too strict to adhere with our rules at the time. Especially to me since I'm the target of two of our most dangerous enemies." Naruto then grinned, and above him, Wendy mimicked his facial expression as well.
"Did you find it necessary that you leave us out of the loop though? Many of us back in the guild worry about your safety numerous times." Erza had asked.
"Secrecy states that we cannot risk of information getting out of the circle of people involved with us. Anything else about it falls under the matter of a need to know basis. We cannot hope to risk our identities out there with our kinds of threats." Neji answered and Shino gave a nod.
"That's why we've been keeping a much needed low profile for two years, any form of outside communication should be first deferred to our superiors before we can even manage to talk to you. And even this is stretching it." Kiba continued.
"... Which brings us to another point about this whole reunion that we're having." Shikamaru looked dead serious right now as he continued,
"Forget about chasing that crazy lady's job of capturing the forest deity." Sai mentioned this with a smile. The people from Fairy Tail looked surprised at the request from this group. Why would Shikamaru's group try to stop them from chasing the fabled creature down?
"WHAT?" Natsu asked in outrage.
"That forest deity isn't exactly a god. He's one of our own, unfortunately." To this, Sakura pointed to Naruto who looked kind of embarrassed.
Everyone who isn't a ninja except for Wendy and Charle had dropped their jaws in surprise.
"You see, for a while there, I've been training to use my power effectively and was trying to manoeuvre my way around the forest. The plants growing behind me are just a side effect of my power because it has so much life energy." Naruto replied as Ino shook her head.
"This idiot goes overboard when he trains. On the first night of his discovery by that crazy woman, he almost made it to the edge of town even though Shikamaru mentioned that this guy should train in or close to the compound since it was deep in the forest. Pretty soon we had mages coming from every guild to try their luck against him and we had close shaves in them discovering our hideout."
"So this whole mission was a huge hoax to begin with?" Gray asked, rather incredulous. To think that someone would be that powerful was sitting in their midst and playing with a little girl.
"I am afraid so. It is within reason that you find such events as disappointing, however, it is enough that we clarify this with you since aside from several others, you are the one our group has interacted with the most." Hinata answered calmly.
"You bean do dell me dat dis stubid looging guy is da foresd deidy?" Natsu pointed to Naruto who deadpanned the dragon slayer.
"Coming from the guy who got tricked into falling in the lake, I find that insult not really hurting."
"YOU BASDARD! BIDE ME RIDE DOW!" Natsu watched, the pressure in his head growing as he grew slightly dizzy and sat down.
"Although that mission is still up for grabs, no one would be able to catch the 'elusive god of the forest'." Tenten turned to Naruto with a smirk who merely scowled.
"Aside from that boneheaded move done by our equally boneheaded teammate, I hope you can all understand that this blunder doesn't get out anywhere. We're trying to suppress anymore attempts from the artist to capture the blonde. We don't want anymore rumors flying around concerning the 'Forest Deity'. Understand this isn't just for our own safety, everyone here in town is in danger as well. Even Fairy Tail is once word gets out that we're somehow connected to you. It's good that you don't ever speak of this again." Shikamaru answered.
There was silence for a moment in the room as Erza looked at Mira who was looking down. Here she was, so close to her goal, yet, she seemed so unsure of it now, what with all the complications that had appeared before them so suddenly. Mira noticed Erza's subtle stare at her with expectations, waiting for her to talk to the person she had looked for these past two years.
'With the way things are now, I can't ask him right away or ever. At least I saw him one more time...' Mira thought about it and for the first time since this mission, a sincere smile escaped her lips as well as a few drops of tears from her eyes. Erza looked on in sympathy.
"I never expected things to turn out this way." With that, Mira stood from her seat and said to the blonde boy in front of him.
"Thanks for letting me see you one more time." Mira bowed gratefully at the blonde who stared at the voluptuous girl in surprise. He never expected the ever haughty Mirajane Strauss to be so timid. From what he can remember, Mira had an air of confidence with her that almost went borderline arrogance yet she had the strength to prove it. She never felt awkward, at least, from what he could remember when she treated him to food two years ago. But now, she had this look that told him she wanted to get out.
Sure enough, she did.
"What's wrong with her?" Kiba asked, looking confused while the rest of the people inside except for the oblivious ones gave a sigh.
"So it's that, huh?" Shikamaru asked with an amused smirk, earning a surprised glance from Erza.
At this, Shikamaru answered her unasked question, "I'm quite the perceptive man, actually. Granted, Naruto has that way with people. You'd be surprised how many women fell in love with that idiot."
To this, Shikamaru glanced at Hinata and then back to the door.
To Hinata's credit, she had never once shown a reaction that would have made the whole thing even more awkward. Of course, Hinata now had her own suspicion on the matter as well. She was a woman after all.
Erza gave another sigh of resignation as she stood up and said, "Now that it's come to this, I demand some sort of compensation for that meeting with that horrible woman a night ago."
"Hey now, it's not our fault that you guys were duped into chasing him." Kiba argued as he pointed to Naruto who was now stuffing his face with freshly cooked meat with contentment.
"Fine then, I demand a match coming from the guy who duped Natsu into the lake."
"WHAD? BUD HE'S BY OBONENT!"
Natsu shouted and turned his table over earning a surprise look from Ino and Chouji who looked like he was about to deck the pink haired dragon slayer to next week. Naruto choked from the shock of Natsu's work as Wendy and Hinata helped the poor boy regain his breath.
Shikamaru palmed his face at Natsu's knee jerk reactions and dragged his hand down.
'Things just got to hell in a hand basket sooner than I thought it would.'
By the time Shikamaru stood up, Natsu was on the ground, pummelled and out cold by Erza whose hands were smoking for some reason.
Shikamaru gave a sigh and shook his head, "Alright, we're taking this outside and I'm not talking about the street."
Outside of Onibus Town:
Shikamaru stood between both fighters, on his right, was Erza. The scarlet haired mage looked unsurprisingly serious, sword drawn as she brandished it in front of her opponent. Behind her, stood her friends with Natsu out cold after another dose of medicine and Erza's armoured fist while Happy was fanning the poor dragon slayer with a piece of cloth. Mira had been dragged by Lucy and Lisanna back to their meeting just to see Erza picking a fight with Naruto.
To Erza's front and Shikamaru's left stood Naruto, who looked quite excited as he stared at his opponent.
Above the safe distance of the Fairy Tail mages were the shinobi, all of them intent on watching the bout that was about to happen.
"I've never faced a good S-rank mage before especially ones from Fairy Tail." Naruto said this as he touched his left armband, a plume of smoke soon popped out as covered Naruto's hands. When he retracted his arm back, Erza saw a sheathed wakizashi, its scabbard was the color of leather brown with its tip capped off in pure silver that was designed like clouds. By its hand guard, the silver that ornamented the sword there was a simple one dimensional design of a giant cloud floating.
"So I'm hoping to have a good workout after this." His grin never left his face as he got into his stance and holding the short sword in a reverse grip, Erza's eyed the gesture curiously.
"Interesting variation of requip magic." Erza commented while Naruto simply laughed.
"Not really, this isn't exactly requip magic, more like a home grown skill." Naruto answered as Erza closed her eyes and smiled.
"Quite. I guess there are still many secrets that you people seem to carry."
"Well if you have to ask..." Naruto soon vanished from her view, a blur of yellow and black before appearing to Erza's side in just that instant, his grin changed soon into a frown as he gave a stabbing motion above Erza's head.
"You've only begun to see what we're REALLY capable of!"
Erza almost didn't react in time as she positioned her sword in a guard position over her head and parried Naruto's strike. The clash of metal rang through their ears and sparks flew from their blades. As Naruto, with incredible control over his own body and weight, flipped in mid air, doing a mid air roll before dropping on the ground with his feet, his back against the scarlet swordswoman's own.
Erza twisted, her striking range increased as she turned around, sword swinging horizontally intent of striking Naruto with it. The blonde spun on his own, this time in opposite direction as he was now the one parrying Erza's attack. The clash of metal could be heard once again as more sparks flew from which their blade clashed. Naruto slid the blade forward the sound of metal screeching from ear to ear, and instantly closed the distance between him and the mage, his free hand balled into a fist and drawn back to signify he was going to punch.
Seeing it with her eye, Erza let go of her right hand that was holding the hilt of her sword as she used her glove armour plating to guard herself from Naruto's punch. The blonde stopped his attack, mere centimetres away from injuring his own hand as he reeled it back and went for another weakness, the girl's thigh.
Naruto jumped back a couple of steps, plans began pouring in his head as he saw Erza go back to her stance. But this time, Erza dispelled her current sword and manifested a pair of claymores. Her fierce look never wavered as Erza as she pointed one of her big swords at him while she rested the other blade on her shoulders.
The red head charged as Naruto backpedalled, avoiding much of Erza's sword strikes and even blocking some of them. Naruto had to admit, those heavy swords that Erza was wielding oh so easily was just a small testament to her real skill. That and Erza's form and her attacks, her moves were like of a dance.
A vicious, bloody and deadly interpretation of a dance was more like it.
Her hair swayed with every spin, every slash, and every movement. Naruto kept track of her movements with every sense that he could react to. For every movement that Erza made, Naruto's eyes would follow, for every sound that her sword would make, Naruto would hear and would react with either a dodge or an approximation of his wakizashi to parry and deflect despite its weight and momentum compared to the smaller sword.
Erza then gave a thrust with one of her swords and soon was deflected with Naruto's Wakizashi with one hand and stepped forward, deflecting Erza's remaining blade as Naruto ducked when Erza recovered and sent a slash. Naruto finally saw his opening and just then punched Erza by the back of her thigh, causing the said girl to lose her balance slightly, but enough that Naruto can move in to start his offense.
'He's in a range where I can't counter in time!' Erza thought in a panic. Naruto got too close for comfort!
Naruto reeled his arm forward, thrusting his fist straight to Erza's armoured stomach, and stopped as it touched the steel of her breastplate.
"Senpuuken!" In a severe gust of wind, Erza thought she had just collided with a train at maximum speed. Her world spun, as Naruto sent her flying from their position, and crashing on to another side of the forest as she was sent through one of the trees before slumping down on the ground hard.
"He beat Erza just like that..." Gray mentioned as Mirajane scoffed at it. That is something Gray was horribly wrong at. From what she could tell, Erza was sizing Naruto up and he to her. She had to admit that Naruto was smart by dragging out that close quarter combat to allow him to get used to Erza's movements and striking a part of the armoured woman's non-protected parts, like her thighs.
"Scary fucker, isn't he?" Kiba asked as he looked down on the fight from his perch in the canopy above the trees. Lucy and the rest looked up as Kiba sat down on the sturdy branch.
"He's just about the same age as us, but he's so dangerous that you can't help but admire and be scared about him at the same time. He's had more battle experience than any of us put together and has the ability to find and abuse a weakness in a person. And that's not even the scary part." Kiba then turned his attention back to the blonde shinobi who then ducked as he saw a sword flying suddenly at him at immense speed, picking up a cloud of dust behind it. The sudden attack caught Naruto by surprise as Erza appeared before him, now clad in her famous Tenrin no Yoroi.
"Naruto is known for on his ambush tactics, his immense stamina and energy. When Shikamaru is our strategist, Naruto is our field tactician. He may look like an idiot, but when fighting, even guys like Neji and Shino find a hard time just putting him in one place."
Naruto stood impressed with Erza's show of arsenal, hundreds upon hundreds of swords now pointing dangerously at him. Sharp blades that could probably slice any stone cleanly in half all levitated proudly around their mistress.
"I've only had a chance to see you run away and not actually face you in combat. But if last night was any indication, I must never let my guard down but along with it you must understand..." Erza's serious expression turned into a scowl.
"You must never underestimate me." Erza threatened as her blades began firing at the blonde in unrelenting fury.
Naruto braced himself for impact. One sword took charge and aimed right at him. Naruto ducked, missing him by a few millimetres. On instinct, Naruto lashed his hand out above and grabbed hold of the sword in his right hand. The blonde shinobi then turned around and hurled the sword back to Erza as he dodged the rain of metal that was descending on him like a drizzle.
The blade stopped midway by Erza's telekinesis and redirected it at the blonde who was busy dodging her blades at him.
The redirected sword flew faster than her raining metal and Naruto manages to dodge it by the last minute by spinning his body to his right. Deciding that being on the defensive right now was enough, Naruto dashed forward, leaving behind a cloud of dusk to where he stepped last. Now out of her line of vision, Erza looked around in full alert as she darted her eyes left and right. Her senses already in full alert, she had not fully prepared herself when the blonde had reappeared beside her, fist already extended and flying straight to her face.
Naruto's fist hit her cheek with authority and her vision became a blur as she stumbled and lost balance from the blonde's punch. She had no time to recuperate as Naruto vanished once more from her sight and felt an immense and painful pressure rising to her stomach.
Her vision turned and saw Naruto kicking her to her torso as she was sent flying upwards.
Just before Naruto vanished, a grin escaped his lips.
"Fuujin no Kuromo (Cloak of the Wind God)…" Green energy then glowed around the blonde's body and a magic circle appeared beneath him. With a step forward before he darted upwards, the immense magic that she felt like an immense and cascading waterfall, herself, too feeble to overcome such rippling tides.
Then, the energy sharpened, as if refined around the blonde and he darted of like a rocket at her. Erza regained her bearings as she stopped her ascension mid-flight.
Her wings of metal spread out, glowing from the magic power she was letting loose. Before she could use more swords to try and pierce the blonde, she saw that Naruto's flight capabilities looked ultimately superior.
For when he flew, he was capable of doing sharp turns in mid-air and he was fast while he was levitating. To the ones below, watching the blonde fly was like watching a firework going off. Erza then made her move as multiple swords appeared around her once again. This time, she dared not use them against the blonde for offensive purposes, rather, she made the swords revolve around her like they were satellites in every which way. Then she charged at the blonde, head on, that was coming at her at mach speed.
Naruto seemingly halted from his attack. His flying still had a problem in control as he was zigzagging and whipping in midair like an uncontrolled missile. He dived back first when he saw Erza coming down at him with the countless spinning wheels of death surrounding her like it was her shield.
As he was almost on the ground, Naruto made a deliberate sharp turn forty-five degrees upward from the flat ground as Erza was sent crashing to the ground.
Smoke, dust and debris billowed around her as the ground below caved in from Erza's momentum, forming a crater around her.
Naruto watched in anticipation of what the girl might do next underneath the cover of the debris and was surprised to see three rapidly spinning objects came at his way at a speed he would definitely find reminiscent of a deadly Fuuma Shuriken. Naruto dodged to his right and barrel rolled in to his left as the second one went past him. The third one was dodged by a hair's breadth when Naruto rolled in midair as he descended to Erza's last known location.
The three spinning objects in midair soon stopped and disassembled into individual swords. The blades all changed their trajectories and went after the blonde once more.
Naruto cursed at his situation as he landed. Pumping chakra to his feet, he performed an overpowered version of Shunshin no Jutsu and charged inside the smoke as it was about to clear. The rain of swords followed suit as it impaled the ground that followed Naruto's path.
Erza's eyes widened once more as Naruto had now appeared from the smoke, right arm reeled back as he pushed through the cover that Erza had created. The blonde then let his fist fly, heading towards Erza's face as she looked in quite a surprise.
How did this person know where she was? Erza's look of disbelief as Naruto pushed through her defences was turned to shock as she heard the sound of her sword thrusting through flesh.
Naruto stopped and looked down, the sword of the mage pierced his gut from behind him. They all managed to catch up as several more blades pierced his upper and lower torso.
Erza was shocked for a moment as Naruto's body seemingly fell to the ground in slow motion. She couldn't utter a word as Naruto fell. No, she couldn't believe of what she was witnessing and what she had done.
Her shock turned into a remorseful fit as she felt her knees give way from the weight of both herself and her armor. How could she have not foreseen such consequences of her magic? How could she have been so careless?
Her thoughts, dark, morbid, disturbed; those dangerous mental images began flashing in her mind. She felt like throwing up.
When she looked at the corpse, she expected to see blood. What she hadn't expected was that the supposed body of Naruto turned out to be nothing more than a piece of log.
How on earth did that happen? Her thoughts now shifted to the present and her senses alerted her of the danger that was to come before her.
Then, from the clear blue sky, a voice had called out, loud and thundering. The very earth itself seemed like it was shaking from something in anticipation for something most breathtaking.
"TACHIKAZE (Earth Severing Wind)!"
Then, a flash of green light, and gale forces that were as strong as a hundred miles per hour came crashing from above.
The earth beneath them, as its name implied, split in a resounding explosion as dust and debris rose up in a straight line, one hundred meters long.
Erza braced herself from the force of the attack as she planted the sword in her hands to the ground. While letting the force of the wind pushed her back a little.
The winds died down, after a while, and Erza's vision cleared. A small blade then held dangerously close to her neck while a look alike of the blonde held her sword down with his two arms.
"This is your loss." Naruto said with a grin. Erza couldn't have said anything after that and she yielded.
"Naruto also has a nasty streak of not holding back." Neji mentioned this and watched with his Byakugan, examining the ministrations of Eternano that was being released from Naruto's body, no doubt he was studying the effects of Eternano to one's physiology. To his side was Hinata, also overseeing their little project and to another branch was Sakura who started to jot down notes.
"Note for any sudden change in heartbeat or any physiologic changes that shouldn't be there."
Sakura then turned her attention to Natsu who was now stirring and watching the powerful display of battle between Naruto and Erza.
"I still do not understand why you are doing this, Sakura-san. You have already learned much from Wendy's abilities." Shino commented from her right side while Sakura gave a small grin.
"Shino, you should know that by now, we have opened an entirely new arsenal at our disposal. Can you think of the wonders if both styles were to become in synch? Jutsu and Magic, Chakra and Eternano, the possibilities it presented itself are way too many! Think of the innovations it can do to modern medicine!"
"Or warfare." Chouji commented as jumped down from one of the trees that was swept from Naruto's forceful magic.
"That too but don't be such a stick in the mud about it! We're still not home and we probably won't be using our magic once we do! Remember the primary principle of Eternano." Sakura said in response as she continued to write down.
"Magical energy that can come from the earth itself, but Sakura, don't you think it has the same principle as Senjutsu?" Ino asked while Sakura scowled at it. If it were true, then imagine what would happen if they were to come back home, with all of this information and skills with them!
"That's a postulate that I'm willing to discover." Sakura mentioned this as her skin turned brown and multiple creaks began crawling up on her skin and lit up. Her right arm, with the creaks from her shoulder to her fingertips, glowed white as her pupils turned into sharp slits as that of a terrifying predator.
"Magic is still a mysterious thing." The seemingly creepy smile that escaped her lips managed to catch them off guard.
To be continued...
Rushed ending I know. Fight conclusion was sloppy but I got bored and I had things that I both had to do and wanted to do IRL. It's not easy being the second head honcho (forced) of a student organization for affairs outside of the school while at the same time studying for a pathology quiz.
As an apology, I also redid a profile of chapter eleven for Team Gai.
Anyway, here's the profile Team Seven's (the subordinates) profile in Earthland:
Name: Uzumaki Naruto
Allegiance/affiliation: None (Strictly coming from the council, it is therefore classified until further notice)
Profile: For the past two years since their marooning, Naruto has lived quite a hectic lifestyle as a ninja and operative of Kage. He has matured during his stay in Earthland and is already beginning to learn and understand the basics of being a leader from his mentor and current guild master, Hatake Kakashi. He'll still act like an idiot and be reckless, but when the situation calls for it, he can be a great tactical officer and take over missions on the fly and will not hesitate to throw a mission away if it endangers one of his friends.
Magic name: Senkusha no Fuujin (The Wind God's Herald)
Magic profile: A style of wind magic that manipulates the wind to any degree that the user wants. Unlike another famous mage with the same style of magic, this particular style not only augments fighting capabilities, but also enhances one's own physiology to the point that the user becomes superhuman befitting the name of the magic to the user as a herald of the divine entity of wind.
Allegiance/affiliation: None (Strictly coming from the council, it is therefore classified until further notice)
Profile: The apprentice of the great Tsunade of the Sannin has grown in different ways in her stay in Earthland. She has learned a great deal in researching Magic and its correlation to their source of power, Chakra. No longer one to feel sorry for herself, Sakura has thrown her weakness out of the window and has become dedicated in her field of work in medical jutsu and research in Magic. Unknown to the outside, she has since discovered the power of magic and its application to a molecular/biochemical level that she has managed to create a style that emulates dragon slayer magic without the use of the lacrima procedures.
Magic name: Ryuumyaku no Kouin (Descendant of the Dragon Veins)/ (Descendant of the Ley Lines)
Magic Profile: A magic discovered through the test tube. Unlike the use of Lacrima, this artificial magic is at a level of DNA alteration rather than implantation of the said crystal. Applied with Sakura's natural earth affinity, Sakura discovered the next step in artificial magic through a molecular alteration that Wendy gets when performing her magic. This led to the discovery of Ryuumyaku no Kouin. The user of this magic gains superhuman strength and almost always maintains a dragon force like state when performing the magic. During this state, along with the ability to manipulate the earth at will, Sakura can sense people when her feet are on the ground making her a vital sensor when needed.
Sai (no last name)
Age: Unknown (Former agent of Ne, records of him is all but blank)
Profile: The mysterious former agent of the Foundation and expert swordsman taught by Danzo. During his stay in Earthland, Sai has learned a little of what it's like interacting with people. His poor communication skills still show up from time to time but he has learned to be more tactful unlike back then. Even though he has since proven his worth as a member of Kage and ultimately, a shinobi of Konoha, many of Naruto's friends still find Sai's behaviour as weird and downright creepy.
Magic Name: Ensui (dark water)
Magic Profile: Ensui is a holder type of magic that makes use of a small, almost metallic handle that absorbs water and shapes and forms it into a sharp blade. Among other things, Ensui is one of the weaker forms of magic used, but is one of the most versatile. Add to Sai's Choju Giga, Sai becomes a much more dangerous opponent.
Uchiha Sasuke (presumed missing/ Tenko)
Profile: The last in line of the Uchiha. Sasuke has lost his mind since the revelation of his clan's planned coup twelve years ago and the ministrations of Konoha's involvement during the event. Ever since then, Sasuke has developed a grudge against Konoha and has then turned insane from the stress that came along with it. Two years before the events of Fairy Tail started, Sasuke has lost his memories from the Battle of Sea Forest in Earthland against Yamato's group along with Mistgun of Fairy Tail. Upon Jellal's discovery of him, Sasuke now goes by the name of Tenko and serves as the young councilman's reliable errand boy but will not hesitate at the chance to leave if an opportunity to learn of his past presents itself to him.
Magic Name: Shin En Maho (Sacred Fire Magic)
Magic Profile: Magic taught to Tenko by Jellal. Sacred Fire Magic involves using ceremonial flames of purification that was thought to be an exorcising magic for demon possessed humans. It is said that its flames changes in color depending on the emotion of the user. Red hot flames depict anger and rage, orange flames depict will and blue depict confidence and assured victory. This holder type of magic is formless and will come out of any medium from staves to swords.