Ch. 4 : Masters, Premonitions
A/N : It's not what you all voted for, but I felt like it anyway.
Disclaimer : I do not own Naruto, Overlord, or any obscure references to other owned or written material, either official or those of fandom. They are all property of associated parties.
- With Iruka and Lee -
"Iruka-sensei, why are we splitting up in the creepy city?"
"Because the more ground we cover, the faster we can get out of here."
"Ah, I see..."
Judging by the uncertainty in his tone, the young boy did not see the logic, but was just glad to not be entirely alone. and he was with Iruka as well. The only other person he would rather be with was Naruto himself. He caught himself toying with the spiked knuckles he kept in his back pocket, and he forced himself to stop. He was a ninja dammit, and he wasn't going to be scared by some spooky atmosphere.
With a hard swallow, Lee straightened his shoulders and started examining his surroundings in more detail. The staircase they had descended had seemed to go on forever, and they had to be far below the surface, though it was impossible to tell if the walls were still surrounded by water or not. Then again, he wasn't entirely sure he wanted to know to be honest. The idea of only a layer of stone standing between them and the acidic green waters of the lake really made him uncomfortable. Imagine that...
Finally the stairway leveled out and led into a massive hallway. Tall enough for five men to stand on top of each other, and still not be able to touch the ceiling, and wide enough for his graduating class to walk side by side. The stone was cut at odd angles and was perfectly smooth in a way that no person could have been able to reproduce. The sight filled him with unease, and he idly wondered what could have made such a thing. And how big must they have been to need this much space? The only sounds were those of Iruka and himself, and the drips of moisture falling to the cold stone ground. The air was chilly and damp, and their breath formed clouds before them.
Something skittered in the darkness at the other end of the hallway, and both the humans became still immediately, straining their eyes to try and penetrate the inky blackness. For a few breathless minutes they held their position, not even letting themselves shift, before relaxing. Must have just been a rat or something. Nothing to worry about.
"Fool-fool! What if the man-things had seen us? Then we would be in trouble!" His voice was raspy and slightly muffled through the breathing apparatus that covered his face. Still, it was meant to protect him from his own brutal weapons, and it was effective at keeping the vicious gas away, so it would stay. The speaker's companion shoved him roughly in response.
"It not my fault! Stupid slave-things can't even walk right! Not worth the trouble."
The second speaker looked over the troops under his command in disgust. Each stood barely over three feet tall with a short sword in one hand, and a pitiful mockery of armor adorning their haired bodies. Behind them waved a hairless tail, and their noses and whiskers flickered in the air, trying to smell what they couldn't see.
"Well then leave them here! We must-needs find the intruders and kill-kill them! Grey Seer will be most angry if they learn of our existence."
Either the hunched over rat-men didn't hear their leaders talking about them, or they were just so used to it it didn't matter to them. Either way, they ignored the conversation going on around them and clawed at their environment, trying to find something of value.
"Yes-yes, they are no use to us now anyway." The larger beast turned to those under his command and spoke with obvious disdain. "You are to staying here. Don't move, just be quiet. Try not to die-die."
The rat-men nodded in understanding, and scattered to find a more suitable hiding place. The middle of the hallway was far too open for their taste, and they weren't going to stand around if they didn't have to. The two remaining figures looked at each other and snorted in disgust. Good help was hard to find.
"Come-come. Let's get them before they find anything of value."
The two figures followed silently behind the man-things that dared to intrude on their land. Once they were dead, they would be rewarded with much warpstone, so the sooner they finished the better. Now if only there was a way to get rid of the other partner, yes-yes...
The innocent duo continued throughout the damp and dark tunnels that lay beneath the waters of R'yleh, unaware of the foul proceedings behind them. After what seemed like an eternity, their night vision had become somewhat accustomed to the darkness. Still it seemed like there was darkness that their eyes were incapable of piercing. Rather than just the absence`1 of light, the blackness was something tangible that, if touched, would leave a residue on their bare skin.
"Alright," Iruka said, finally getting tired of shuffling slowly through the darkness. "See if you can find a torch. If not just any stick will work, this is bullshit."
The two of them had a quick change of objectives and before long their search bore fruit. Along the stone walls, spaced periodically, were sconces with the torches still in their holders. Iruka took one from its place and gritted his teeth at the shrill scraping sound of metal on metal that followed. The two of them jumped back in fear as the wall just to the right of the sconce slid back about a foot, and to one side to reveal a hidden passageway.
"Huh... I didn't know people actually made stuff like that."
Iruka nodded in agreement and lit the torch using an Academy ranked fire technique. It took a few tries, because of how damp the material was but eventually it burst into flame, illuminating their immediate surroundings. Over to their right, something hissed quietly in pain at the sudden light and slunk back into the shadows. After Lee had used Iruka's torch to light his own, they ducked their head into the passageway and continued on their way.
Unbeknownst to them, the two rat-men continued to follow them, biding their time until the perfect moment to strike.
- With Naruto and Anko -
"It's just a day, like any other day. A beautiful day for an accident, let's say. Yes it's just a day, like any other day. Just one step closer to the end of the buffet. La la la la la la la la la la, 'cause we're waiting to die."
"Anko, what the hell are you doing?"
Anko glanced over to him as they climbed the stairs, examining what details they could with the aid of the sparse illumination provided by the windows. The stairway was surprisingly narrow, considering the size of the main hall and doors. The cold stone was damp with moisture, and there was moss clinging to the stone.
A boot knocked a rock loose from its precarious perch, and it bounced down the stairs, down the way they had come. The sound echoed for a while before falling silent once more. The stench of stale air and stagnant water hadn't left them since their arrival, and it was almost as if their minds were refusing to move past it. The assault on their senses proved just another reminder that they weren't supposed to be here.
"I know you're singing. Why are you doing it?"
"Because unlike you, gaki, the silence drives me crazy." Naruto cast her a surprisingly understanding look.
"Alright, if it makes you feel better than go for it."
"What? Really?" This time the smirk was impossible to miss.
"Sure. I doubt the rest of us would manage to survive if you got even crazier on us."
"Oh fuck you, brat. I'll remember that when we get out of here and I have you tied upside down from a chandelier."
They continued for a ways, with Anko whistling the same cheerful tune to herself without the words. Movement from farther up the stairs cut them both off, and they drew a knife slowly. Anko took the lead now, given her vastly greater training and experience. Her steps were short and steady, and they made less noise than a whisper as she padded upward. The spiral shape of the staircase made it maddening to see what was up ahead, but she did what she could. Before long though, she stopped and clutched her head suddenly.
"Anko?" Naruto said, all mocking having drained away. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing, just... a headache. Came on fast. I don't... get it."
A sneaking suspicion made itself known, and Naruto decided to roll with it.
"Try going a few feet down the stairs."
Anko nodded and shifted her weight down the spiral some, leaning heavily on the wall and relying on the cold stone to support her. Even after the first step the strain left her shoulders, and it was obvious she was feeling better.
"Whew, that was insane. I don't know what came over me."
"Well, try going up the stairs again. I want to see something."
Anko gave him a strange look, but complied. No sooner had she gotten to where she had last time, she hunched over again and this time a juicy gasp escaped her as she stopped herself from screaming. She immediately fled back down the stairs, and this time the pain didn't leave as quickly.
"Shit!" She hissed. "I don't get it. It's like I'm not allowed to go up there. Are you seriously not feeling this?"
Naruto shook his head. Other than a light warmth from the scar on his chest, he wasn't feeling a whole lot of anything. Still, he had a feeling what this had to do with and if he was right, he had to go on.
"I'm going to go on ahead. You wait as far up as you are comfortable and make sure nothing gets up behind me, okay?"
Anko grumbled to herself about brats giving her orders and not coming for his body if he died, but nodded and eased her way down a few more steps until the pressure laid off. She was disgusted by the sign of weakness, but putting herself in unnecessary pain was pointless.
Naruto turned away from the woman and continued up the stairwell, feeling ahead as much as he could with his senses. Whatever was up here was selective on who came close to it, but apparently Naruto had been chosen as today's lucky winner. Each footstep kicked up a small plume of dust, proving that no one had used this staircase in decades, at least. With each step the warmth in his chest grew and he had the distinct impression that he was no longer alone. There was something at the top of the tower, and it was waiting for him.
He rolled his eyes at his own cowardice and straightened his shoulders, determined not to be intimidated by whatever he was about to come face to face to. His resolve lasted until the staircase ended and opened up into a wide and circular chamber. The windows were covered by thick, dark drapes and the room was illuminated by a set of flickering sconces along the rounded walls, spaced out in even intervals. His eyes panned across the room, taking in the details and trying to determine the source of the obscene atmosphere, and when they stopped on a certain point on the opposite wall, he felt his skin begin to crawl. For the first time in a long time, he felt he might have made a terrible mistake.
- With Iruka and Lee -
Iruka's breath caught in his throat as he stared at the beautiful artwork that was painstakingly carved into the rock around them. Along both walls of the corridor, stretching far past the feeble light put off by their torches, murals reached from floor to the ceiling. Each scene depicted different characters and settings, though there were recurrent themes that connected them all. Every picture focused on a single figure, invariably male, who towered over those around him. His shoulders were broad, his face cloaked in shadows, and they wore long clothes that reached from their shoulders to their ankles, trailing just above the ground. At their feet were hunched over goblin-like creatures with glowing yellow eyes, a detail they shared with their masters. Over their shoulders hovered a pair of serpentine heads and necks that originated from somewhere behind him. Their eyes too glowed in the darkness, and they seemed to feel perfectly at home in the black surrounding them.
"Woah..." Lee gasped quietly as he looked around, straining his neck to gaze higher and higher. "What are they?"
Iruka didn't so much ignore the question as not hear it to begin with. His entire focus was on deciphering the meaning of the pictures. Beneath every mural was a carved out plaque that bore a name, and every name had one more thing in common. The family they belonged to.
The dolphin stumbled through the darkness without watching where he was going. He was so totally enraptured, he completely missed an orb whizzing past his head and shattering somewhere down the hallway. The same could not be said for his young companion.
"What was that?" Lee yelped, whirling around and straining his eyes to see down the darkened hallway where the breaking noise came from. When Iruka didn't answer, he turned around again and probed forward with his torch, hoping the light would reveal whatever had just thrown the thing. "Who's there?"
Concealed in shadow, two figures argued as quietly as they could.
"Fool! How did you miss?"
"Not my fault! Man-thing move!"
The hunched over figures froze as the small green human approached cautiously, with shaky steps. The only sound came from the respirators they wore in order to protect themselves from the cruel weapons they carried. When Lee was finally close enough to practically throw his torch and hit them with it, they turned and fled down the hallway, back the way they came. Their scampering startled Lee so badly, he dropped the torch on the ground and ran back to Iruka's side, doing his best not to scream.
"IRUKA! WE'RE NOT ALONE!"
Lee's hysterical shout shook him out of his stupor, and he spun around quickly, catching Lee in his arms as the two collided. The impact almost took Iruka to the ground, and he had to hold the torch away from his body to prevent him from accidently lighting himself or Lee on fire. The echoes of the boy's shout filled their ears, and spoke of the practically endless depths of the chasm that lay before them.
"Lee! Calm down, and tell me what's wrong."
Lee drew in deep shuddering breaths and tried to calm himself. He knew he looked like a baby, but he couldn't help it. It was terrifying down here, and now there were things following them and throwing things at them!
"The-there was something there! I don't know what it was, but it threw something at you and when I go-got close to seeing what it was it ran away on four feet, like a rat or something."
Iruka rubbed his back soothingly and kept his eyes on the flickering borders of light. He didn't know what Lee had seen, but this was the first time he had ever seen the boy so scared, so it must have been something. After all, the boy had never been one to jump at his own shadow. Where the boy had been standing, the torch lay on the cold stone, illuminating it with a flickering halo. More of an illumination for itself than its surroundings.
"It's alright. Whatever it was, it's gone now."
When the boy had finally calmed down enough to walk, he led him over to where he had dropped his torch. When he bent to pick it up, something rolled out of the shadows and toward his foot, stopping as it pressed against his shoe.
"What the hell?" He muttered quietly to himself.
"I don't think you should touch it. Whatever it is, it came from... them."
The word was laced with terror, but in order to know what they were dealing with, they had to check it out. The globe was surprisingly warm to the touch, as though it had been pressing against warm flesh only seconds ago. It was made out of a clear glass, and inside it swirling angrily as though trying to escape its bonds, was a noxious green gas.
- With Anko -
Anko sat facing down the stairwell with her chin propped in a hand, and flipping a kunai in the other. Catching it by the handle. Flipping it again. Catching it by the blade. Again, handle. Again, blade.
"Urgh. What's taking him so long? This waiting is driving me crazy!"
She huffed quietly and purposely closed her mouth. Talking to herself wasn't going to do any good. It went against every moral she had, of the few she did have, to let the antisocial blond go alone. But it wasn't like she had a choice, right? Every time she even thought about following him the headache would return with a vengeance and leave her cradling her head. It would then stay until she inched her way down another couple of steps, as though whatever was causing it wanted her as far away as possible. Still, it was her job to make sure nothing came up from behin-
Her thoughts cut off once more, and she cradled her head, cursing in misery as fresh waves of agony rolled through her. They were far more intense than any of the previous ones had been, and she tasted blood long before she realized she had started biting her tongue. This was the worst pain she had experienced ever since her bastard of a Sensei had 'gifted' her with the cursed seal. As she sat, rather than balancing out or easing slowly it only intensified. She had no choice but to retreat even farther down the stairs, and it felt like two miles and an eternity before the pain finally let off. The relief was so gratifying that she was content to just lay on her back, gasping for breath with a cheek pressed into the cold stone.
When she got her breath back, she was surprised that she had retreated to a leveled out section of the stairway that she didn't recall passing on the way up. The floor was flat for about six or seven feet before the stairs resumed, and a window was set into the wall, bathing the opposite wall, and doorway, in the sickening yellow light.
"Huh... That's new."
Anko stared at the doorway strangely, confused by its shape and geometry. She couldn't say why exactly, nor put her finger on what made her feel that way, but there was something... off... about the door. The angles were close to what she was used to, but different in a way that had nothing to do with aesthetic differences between cultures. Carved into its face was a set of markings that she could only assume was the alphabet of whatever twisted race could have built such a city, and it was probably the key to whatever was behind that door.
She glanced over her shoulder up the stairs, in the direction that Naruto had taken, and clicked her tongue. Sure she was supposed to be watching the stairs, but whatever had caused her headache would probably do the same for whatever else tried to go up the stairs, right? And there hadn't been anyone up there in ages, judging by the dust on every step. Besides, she really wanted to know what was behind the door.
After some careful consideration and some creative problem solving, she knelt by the stone brick under the window at about knee height and jabbed her kunai into the mortar filling a considerable gap between stones. There was resistance at first, but she managed to wedge the blade far enough inward that it wasn't coming out without some forceful persuasion. With practiced precision, she tied an extremely thin wire in the loop at the end of the handle and pulled it tight. She did the same to the other side of the staircase and tied the two together, jury rigging a trip wire that would alert her of anyone that tripped it. The shadows under the window and beside the door would ensure no one would see the kunai without knowing what they were looking for, and the wire was thin enough that even she was unable to see it in the dim light.
The snake mistress took a second to admire her handiwork before drawing another blade and pushing the door open slowly.
- With Naruto -
Naruto stared in horrified fascination at the mirror shaped protrusion on the opposite side of the room. It was eight feet tall and easily five wide. Instead of glass, the surface shifted and bubbled, not unlike the oil used to cook the ramen at the Ichiraku stand he enjoyed so much. The only difference was that whatever that shit was, it was much thicker and he had no intention to put it anywhere near his body. It had a tar-like substance and seemed to be alive in its animation. The moment he stepped forward into the room, it quickened, reacting to his presence. In certain spots the black material would pile up on itself, creating a finger that stretched out to touch him before it collapsed under its own weight and sank back into the depths.
Approach and know your Master.
With every syllable spoken, the oil jumped and spasmed. Droplets left the confines of the container, hovering in the air for an extended moment, and yet fell back into it, defying the laws of gravity in their compulsion to retake their place. The words filled him with a dread and his stomach twisted, curling in on itself in horror. Despite the revulsion he felt in his very core, Naruto felt an intrinsic connection to the Voice filling his mind, as well as the air around him. His legs moved on their accord, and even with the tremors coursing through him, he drew closer to the mirror.
When he was as close as he could bear to be, he sank to his knees as the possessive strength that had pervaded him suddenly abandoned him. The... presence... was pleased by his proximity and the atmosphere in the room eased from its oppressive weight.
Here my power is at its strongest. Only here can I influence your world.
The Voice had the same consistency as the mirror before him. Flowing and changing and shifting in ways that made him want to cover his ears and close his eyes and hide in the deepest corner of the earth. The power he had felt in his dreams... it was nothing compared to this! The skin over his heart burned as though a brand had been reapplied to the scarred tissue, and he gasped as a cold sweat beaded on his brow, despite the chill in the air.
"Why have you brought me here? What do you want me to do?"
Even Gods have patience. When one lives for eternity, time passes as but an instant. But I have grown weary of my imprisonment. I have been content to wait for my time to come, but no more. You shall be the instrument of my return, and the herald of their destruction.
A God. Is that what this being of infinite power was? It made sense in many ways, and from where he was. On his knees before a mere representation of its awesome and unholy might, he could not argue. Could not disagree. For to disobey... The Voice was coming to a balance. The shifting and changing was growing steadier and finding a tune that did not make his head split and strain. For that, Naruto was grateful.
"How can I release you? What must I do?"
There is another, like me. My half-brother. He was imprisoned with me, and with me he shall be released. Only together can we be freed, for there are rules even those such as I cannot disobey.
Naruto found that incredibly hard to believe. Both that there was another like his master, and that there were laws He had no choice but to follow. He held his tongue though, and allowed his master to continue.
Hastur is His name, though your pathetic race know him by another name.
A rush of words flew through Naruto's head, impossible to discern and separate. A thousand voices, all identical, spoke directly into his brain at the same time, but all saying something different. He only caught a few of the many. The King in Yellow. The Unspeakable. Him Who Is Not to be Named. Assatur. Xastur. They all bled together, and he was unsure of even his own identity as he was filled with the knowledge.
As quickly as the rush came on him, it drained away leaving but a single word. Jūbi
Your people, with foul magiks and their obscene arrogance, tore him to pieces and separated his power. They thought him dead, but you were wrong. We are immortal. We are timeless. There is nothing you can do to us, and for their arrogance, they shall all be destroyed. You shall gather His pieces. Your... Tailed Beasts.
The being spat the word with such hatred, that the pool bubbled and spat.
When they are rejoined, We shall be released at last, and your people shall finally know suffering.
Naruto swallowed hard, and his sweating got worse. He didn't want this! He may not like his father and he might hate Konoha, but the destruction of the human race? He would have to be made to want that! His breath became spiked balls, forcing its way through his throat and he was unable to breathe. Unable to swallow.
The pool before him grew calm once more, and the hatred left the Voice.
No. Your people will not be destroyed. They will be punished. They will be taught to fear, and to worship as they once did. But they will not be destroyed.
The oppressive weight lifted enough for him to collapse and support himself with his hands. There was a petty solace in that, but it would do. He had no choice but to obey. He had been placed in this position since his birth, and there was no way he could even hope to contest his birthright.
"Gather... gather the Bijuu. It will take years for me to do this, even if I am capable of it."
The being seemed... amused? At his statement. As though he were being cute in its way. The same way a yapping little dog tried to appear frightening to a doberman.
You are not. But I will make you. I know of your body and your limits as you do not. You will one day be strong. But first... I will break you.
And then... Then the screaming started.
- With Iruka and Lee -
It was impossible to tell how long they had been standing in hall of murals, looking over the figures and depictions of brutal carnage. After a quick inspection of the shadows to ensure that they were alone once more, Iruka had returned to looking over them with an odd attraction. As though there was something connecting him to each of the pictures.
The first was of a void like the darkness of space, with the silhouette of the dark man and his glowing yellow eyes. After that was a stout man in a protective harness, though bare chested. There was a helmet covering his head and face, though the yellow glow from his eyes leaked from behind the scant protection. He had a short curved sword in one hand and a buckler in the other, with two snake like beasts protruding from his back and tearing a man in half. Behind him was a tall monstrosity of pure black swinging a massive club, also with glowing yellow eyes.
A few down was a man with a tricorne hat, a billowing cape, and two of the hunchbacked creatures protruding from the bottom of his cloak. The roaring waves were thrown up behind him, covering both him and the deck with the salty foam of the ocean. He was standing on the side of a massive galleon with a leg propped up on the wooden side and gripping a rope tied to the deck, aiding his balance. In the background was another ship, though it was on fire and half submerged in the water and in two distinct pieces. Swimming under the water and easily keeping up with the ship was the outline of a massive shark with glowing eyes.
Another, a couple of hundred years later, was that of a young man with a rounded hat with a wide brim pulled down over his eyes, shielding his face in shadow. One hand was prodding the tip of his hat up a little bit with the barrel of the revolver in his hand. The other was holding the reins of his horse who was staring out directly at the viewer, both of their yellow eyes bored directly into your soul.
The next that caught Iruka's eye was a man about his age. He was standing in the middle of a thunderstorm, water pouring down his shoulders and from his hair. In each of the man's hands was a firearm and a dog-like monstrosity bared its teeth at the pile of bodies that surrounded him. A body was impaled on the tentacled protrusion coming from behind him, and the man could care less. In fact he was winking, showing nothing but contempt for the carnage that had been caused by his hand. Those yellow eyes seemed to be mocking you.
"Hey Iruka-Sensei, I think you should come look at this one." Iruka glanced over to see Lee standing in front of the last mural in the row, staring at it with wide eyes. Iruka walked over and his breath caught as he looked at the man standing there. It might as well have been a carbon copy, for its accuracy. "He looks a lot like you!"
The man was standing on a rocky coast, surrounded by mist. A dozen men with blades drawn stood before him in a semi-circle and behind him was a young woman, probably his wife or girlfriend. The look on his face was of grim determination and he was wearing a... Kirgakure headband.
"Iruka-Sensei... where were your parents from?"
"Well I was raised in Konoha, but my mom and dad tell me I was adopted. A... a woman from Mist came through with me in her arms. She was almost dead from the exhaustion from her trip. She died shortly after a Leaf Shinobi found her and she made him promise to take me with him when he returned. That Shinobi raised me as his own until he and my mom died in the Kyuubi attack."
"Do you think..."
Their conversation was cut off by another of the green orbs flying out of the darkness towards the duo. Iruka saw it coming from the corner of his eye and dodged it easily. He immediately started to give chase, but halted after noticing that Lee was on the ground, bleeding from the trauma to the head. The orb lay on the ground next to him, not even cracked. Iruka cursed loudly and lifted Lee carefully, trying not to aggravate the wound. He slipped the orb into a pouch on his leg and headed off into the darkness the way they came, chasing after whatever that thing was. As he ran, he couldn't help but think about the name he had read and what it meant to him. It sounded eerily familiar, like a dream forgotten. The word brought a face to mind, that of his father's when he was told of his birth father. A face with sorrow and glistening with tears as he whispered. Estacado.
- With Anko -
Anko's ears pricked up and she froze, listening. When she didn't hear anything else, she shrugged. She would have sworn she heard the sound of screaming. The room inside was obviously a war room and tactical center. In the center was a massive table with a map etched into its surface. It was decorated by a detailed painting of boundaries and borders that she assumed belonged to whatever people populated this half of the world, because they sure as hell weren't the Elemental Countries. The geography was all wrong. There were more islands and less major landmasses. Where their homeland was basically one huge continent, this place was a collection of large islands separated by stretches of water. Each of the boundary markings were obviously owned by a group of individuals, much like the countries back home. But what kind of people were they? That was the question.
The table was covered with small pewter figurines of strange creatures and bizarre monstrosities. Each was carefully carved by hand, and depicting great detail. Along the coastlines the figures were humanoid figures held upright by long snake-like tails. In the deep forests were beast men that stood on two feet with glowing red eyes, snarling fangs, and coarse fur. The mountains were inhabited by creatures somewhat shorter than humans, but broader in shoulder. Their features were sharp and cruel, with sunken cheeks and crooked backs and legs. Each carried a sword with a jagged edge and a suit or armor with over lapping plates and pointed corners. In the deserts were small villages populated by draconic creatures similar to the wolf-men, but more closely related to lizard than beasts.
By far though, the most heavily developed were the cities scattered throughout the lands. The inhabitants seemed to be human, which came as a surprise. Compared to the other creatures on the continents, the fact that there were other humans seemed strangely out of place. Still, a little familiarity was a good thing. The figurine was taller than any of the others, and if they were to scale with the other species then they had to stand at least six feet tall. There body was covered in a long cloak that hid there features and reached almost to the floor.
Scattered all throughout the map were dotted boundaries that she assumed meant were either rivers or something underground. Probably the latter, judging by the figures that were placed periodically atop the tunnels. Rat men, and disgusting ones at that, were standing on two legs, but were hunched over almost to the point of standing on all fours. They were probably comfortable running either way, and they had blades on their waist, held in place with belts made out of scraps of what looked like leather. The thing gave off an aura of disease and pestilence, and-...
The sound of metal scraping metal told her that her tripwire had been triggered, and she hurried back the way she had come and almost slammed into Iruka, who was running past with an unconscious Lee slung over his back. The boy was bleeding profusely from a bloody head wound, and Iruka was carrying him fireman style. Lee's hands were hanging limp and bumping against a curious circular bulge in one of Iruka's pouches.
"Shit! What the hell happened?"
"Don't worry about us. Chase after that thing!"
Iruka was pointing with his free hand up the stairs, after whatever had set off her trap. Two of the rat things were running side by side, though one was limping slightly. Probably the one that hadn't seen the wire. They were booking it though, and she had to hurry in order to keep up with them. They were both wearing heavy tanks on their backs with tubes running through to a respirator on their face, providing them with clean air which meant they were either expecting to run into poisonous fumes, or they were around them enough to always warrant the protection. A pouch dangled at their waists, full of green glass balls about the same size as both whatever Iruka had had on him, and the wound on Lee's head. She may not have been too fond of the kid herself, but he was a friend of both Naruto's and Iruka's. No one hurt her friends but her!
Anko had the advantage of not being burdened by the heavy gear, and she quickly gained ground on the rats. She found it odd that while she could still feel the atmosphere of dread that had been there earlier, she wasn't suffering from the headache that had accompanied her being this high up along the tower. The same could not be said for the rat-men though. The two started clawing at their heads and ears, and the one that was limping fell to his knees on the cold stone. Rather than help his ally, the other just ran past him and continued up the stairs. Before she could pass the one that had collapsed, the whispers that had preluded the agony warned her not to advance any more, and she stopped climbing the stairs.
She hated the idea of letting the damn thing climb up to Naruto while he was doing god knows what, but there was no way she could keep going and still be expected to fight. She cursed again, and turned back to the one that had fallen. The blond brat was just going to have to be able to take care of himself. She grabbed the bastard by the arms and wrenched them behind its back, leading it back to where Iruka and Lee were waiting. The rat was ordered up against the wall, and it obeyed silently, eager to please its captors.
Minutes later the other walked unsteadily down the steps, followed by Naruto who was breathing hard and unevenly. The boy had obviously been through quite the ordeal. His clothes were stained with sweat and his skin was pale. He had a hand outstretched and a single finger pointed at the back of the thing's head. The creature was obeying rigidly though its eyes were darting back and forth in desperation, looking for a way out.
"Stand next to your friend. Hands against the wall, spread apart. Make so much as a twitch and I will guy you like a fucking fish. Do you understand me?"
"Yes-yes!" The rat said with a raspy screech. "You no hurtie! I go, I go!"
"Naruto?" Iruka asked worriedly. "What happened?"
While before Naruto may have always put off an aura of no-nonsense, now it was downright tense. The hatred flowing off of him was almost tangible, and it left Iruka with a foul taste in his mouth. Naruto ignored him entirely, focusing everything on the his target.
"What are you? What are you doing here? Why did you attack my friends?"
"We Poisoned Wind Globadiers. We Skaven! We live under the ground, away from big-loud-things! We came looking for warpstone, that all!"
Naruto snarled and made a strange twisting motion with his outstretched hand, and the rat squealed in pain, though it remained untouched.
"Don't lie to me!" Naruto shouted in anger, his eyes blazing unnaturally, tinged with green that clashed with his natural blue.
"Please! No more! Elders order to come, so we come. We..."
It hesitated again, and Naruto made the same motion. This time he held the last hand sign, and the rat dropped to the ground like a marionette with its strings cut. It jerked and spasmed, screaming loudly as it curled into the fetal position. The sight made Iruka want to puke, and he was glad Lee wasn't awake to see this.
"Naruto! That's enough!" The boy held the sign as the rat began to screech, the lenses of its goggles fogging up from what Iruka could only assume were tears. Finally, he let it go and the rat wheezed loudly, still curled into a ball. Now Naruto turned to look at Iruka and the fires of contempt were still there.
"I'll say when its enough." He prodded the rat with his foot, prompting it to stand up again uneasily. The other rat thing was shrinking back into the shadows as much as it could, as though trying to become invisible and escape the notice of the demonic being before it. "Now I'll say it again, and this is the last time I will ask nicely. What. Are you doing here?"
"We are trying... to learn how to release... the Horned Rat."
Its words were bordering on gibberish, and hard to understand. It was twitching compulsively, and the tail of the thing thrashed back and forth weakly. Its paws curled and relaxed over and over again, a sign of the heavy psychological damage Naruto had caused with whatever he had done to the beast.
"What is this Horned Rat of yours?" When the rat on the ground before him was unable to answer, Naruto turned to the other and pointed at him. "Answer me."
"Yes-yes. The Horned Rat is our God! In the moon. He waits and watches and... p-punishes."
Naruto cocked an eyebrow. That made three different legends regarding some super powerful creature in the moon. What his Master had told him. The Shinobi legends of the Ten-Tails. And this rat god. Probably not a coincidence. And if they were after the same thing he was...
"And what if I were to tell you that I knew how to do it?"
"Impossible! Man-things no know about him."
"He is known by another name, but He is the same. I know how to release Him, and I will help you. If you agree to get your people to help me."
"Why I trust you?" He shrugged nonchalantly.
"I could always kill you now."
Iruka and Anko both stared at Naruto with wide eyes. The furry little bastard had attacked Lee and now he was making a deal with it while threatening its life? Had he gone insane? What kind of screwed up-.
"I talk to them. No promise anything, but I talk." Naruto flashed a grin that held no happiness.
"Glad you see it my way. Now get out of my sight before I decide you will just get in my way. And take this wretch with you."
The globadier helped his companion up, with much distaste, and scurried down the corridor as quickly as it could, scrambling over itself in its haste. The group watched them go and when they were gone, both Iruka and Anko turned on Naruto, but he held a hand up before they could say anything.
"I know, I know. I'll explain everything, but we have something to take care of first. We need to get back to the shore and off of this tower."
"What? Why?" Naruto was already walking down the steps, rubbing his brow as he steadied himself on the wall next to him.
"Because my Master is going to raise R'lyeh."
Two hours later, the four ninjas, Gnarl, and a host of Browns were standing on one of the docks overlooking the great lake that held the no longer sunken city. They had all borne witness to a massive tower with a city attached to the bottom rise from the sea. The only one of them that had any idea how it had happened was Naruto, and he had no intention of explaining until later. It had been a hell of a day and they were all tired from the drama.
"And with that," Naruto said. "I bid you goodnight."
He fell backward, bolt straight, and the minions behind him grunted under his weight as five of them caught him with outstretched arms. The only person to say anything, to no one's great surprise, was Lee.
"What... the hell was that?"
A/N: Yeah, yeah, yeah. I know. Still, it was either rush it out and post it as it is or it remain unfinished for another week or two at least. Anything glazed over will be addressed later on, so don't worry about it right now. Though if you have any questions I can answer, feel free to hit me up. And as a small challenge to everyone out there, I will give a cyber cookie to anyone who can guess what races I am bringing in. Leave it in a review, and shoutouts to everyone who gets it right.