A Fox Among Cats
Naruto x Cheetara
With Cheetara's recovery the group could now continue their journey for the fabled Tower of Omens. Dealing with the sudden resurgence of so many memories in such a short time was taking its toll on Naruto, resulting in the blond becoming quiet and distant the past few days.
Though it seemed like the fruitless trek wasn't only bothering the blond. Naruto too far from the Thunder Tank, Panthro and Lion-O were arguing a few feet in front of her, and it had been going on for some time.
"I told you already!" Lion-O said, "If I knew why it wasn't working, I'd be able to fix it! It's not my fault nobody ever told me how this thing worked!" He waved the sword, which was miniaturized, in Panthro's face.
"And I told you that I'm tired of waiting!" Panthro snapped, "I say we go west and hope for the best!"
"Then it will take us years to get to the Book!" Lion-O snapped back.
Naruto began walking away from the group. He couldn't help but feel that something was calling out to him. This tower, how would they be able to find it without sight beyond sight? And why did the Clerics of the past hide the Book of Omens?
"Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight." Lion-O commanded, holding the Eye of Thundera up close to his face. The hilt of the sword extended slightly, curling around Lion-O's eyes. After a moment, he sighed, "Okay… Let's try this again." He held up the sword again and said, "Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight." Again, nothing happened, he growled as he pulled the sword away, "Come on… work!"
Panthro turned to the others, "Are you telling me our only chance of finding the Book of Omens is if his sword gives him directions?"
"It's about as hopeless as it sounds." Tygra said.
"Lion-O just needs to believe in himself." Cheetara said. "It would help if you believe in him too," she added, sending a pointed glare at Tygra, who turned away from her.
"This is dumb! I don't even know what I'm looking for!" He growled out.
"Sometimes, when you look too hard, you miss what's right in front of you." Cheetara said, Lion-O looked back at her, obviously surprised that she was speaking to him.
"Tell me about it…" He muttered, stiffening slightly as she came up behind him, putting one of her hands on his shoulder and leaning on him.
"Try it again, but this time, just relax." When she spoke, she was right next to him, and Lion-O could feel the warmth of her skin against his fur, and she was speaking into his ear, loud enough to be heard, but soft enough not to hurt his hearing. His ear twitched with each soft breath that came from her lips and landed on it.
"Relax…" Lion-O said, echoing her words, "Got it." Like I'm going to relax after that, he thought to himself as Cheetara pulled away to give him some space. He jumped when WilyKat's face suddenly appeared in front of him from above.
"Wat'cha doing?" He asked him with a grin.
"Ooh~! I know what they were doing~!" WilyKit said in a sing-song voice, making little kissing sounds. Both Cheetara and Lion-O blushed at the insinuation.
"No!" Lion-O said quickly, he stuttered a little as he tried to dissipate the thoughts of him and Cheetara sharing kisses, "We were just… trying to get my… sword… to work."
WilyKat jumped down from the branches beside his sister as she asked, "Why is this book so hard to find, anyway?"
"Did they forget where they put it?" WilyKat asked. wer.
"In a way, yes." Cheetara said as she walked up to the two kittens, "You see, the Book of Omens wasn't lost, rather, it was hidden, with the intention that it would never be found. Legend says the Book of Omens held both clues to our past, and keys to our future. Because some believed it could be even more valuable than the Sword of Omens, the other animals would stop at nothing to get it. The king knew it contained too much power to allow it to fall into the wrong hands, so he had the clerics hide it far beyond the kingdom walls. Far beyond anywhere the Cats had ever been. To keep it safe, they built a temple, one made with magic. The Tower of Omens was inaccessible to anyone but themselves, and protected by ancient enchantments. They then sealed themselves into the temple. Forever. Its location would be a secret they took to their graves."
"That's why Grune and I knew we'd probably never find it." Panthro said, coming up behind Cheetara with Tygra beside him.
"So we just have to just get lucky and hope we stumble onto it?" Tygra asked incredulously.
"Does anyone else here that?" Naruto spoke up as he began trekking deeper into the forest.
"Here what?" Lion-O questioned as everyone's attention turned to the Kitsune.
"The air here sounds and," he deeply inhales. "Smells different. Hu-hey!" Snarf scampered past his feet and up a tree. Apparently its attention was caught by a piece of fruit. The creature grunted as it tried to pull down a fruit from one of the trees above. When he finally got it off the branch, almost all of the fruits on the branch fell off and scattered around the feet of everyone below him. They all looked up when they saw a stone lion's head on the stone wall that they thought had been a cliff.
"Huh, you think we would have seen that." Naruto remarked.
Lion-O looked up to the tree branches, "Nice work, Snarf." Said creature mewed happily at the compliment and hopped down from the branch onto WilyKit's shoulders as she began to follow Lion-O and the others inside. They walked through the temple entrance into a dimly lit hallway. It was a single pathway resting over a gigantic bed of huge needles. At the other end of the pathway was a door that looked like the entrance to a lion's mouth.
"Well this is revealing inviting." Naruto muttered sarcastically to himself as they kept walking down the path. He looked down at the spikes surrounding them suspiciously, an ominous sense of doom suddenly encompassing her as they went towards the door. When they reached the end, they found that the doors were closed. Lion-O pushed at them to try and get them open, but they wouldn't budge. He looked down at a little slit in the door and saw it was a keyhole, he looked back at the others with a wry grin.
"Think they left a key behind?" He asked them. Tygra put his hand on his shoulder and pointed to the ceiling.
"Actually, they left a few." Everyone looked up to see a huge group of keys dangling on strings from above.
"It could take us days to get down and try every one of those keys." The number of keys that dangled from the ceiling was easily within the thousands. For every key they could see there was just as many cloaked behind the small shapes of other keys.
"We'll just have to try them all." Cheetara said, she pulled out her staff and extended it so it would reach up to the ceiling and knock down a few keys. Three keys landed in her hand and she turned to the door.
"At that rate we'll end up starving before we find the right key." Panthro said, not happy about their situation. Cheetara put the key into the hole and turned it, the second she did, the sound of grinding gears could be heard and everyone looked around to see what it was.
"I don't think we have forever." Tygra said. Everyone saw that the path they had taken was quickly becoming smaller and smaller. Snarf and the two kittens, who had been a little ways behind to look at the spikes below, screamed and ran to the others. When the path finally came to them, they all jumped up, and grabbed onto the first thing they could. Panthro grabbed onto the tiny ledge just below the door, WilyKat grabbed onto his shoulder, Lion-O grabbed onto Panthro's foot, and Cheetara had grabbed onto his other one, Naruto grabbed onto Cheetara's waist and Tygra had grabbed onto Lion-o's foot, holding Snarf in his arms, and WilyKit had grabbed onto Tygra's foot. The group dangled dangerously over the spikes, which were so closely clustered together, there was no way to get down without impaling yourself.
"Whiskers…" Lion-O muttered under his breath.
"Find the key…!" Panthro grunted, using all of his strength to try and hang onto the ledge. WilyKat and Kit climbed up the chain of people like experts, pulling out some metal tools.
"Leave this to the masters." WilyKat said as he climbed up Panthro's shoulders, his sister not too far behind him.
"Hurry! There's hundreds to pick from!" Lion-O said. WilyKit climbed up onto Panthro's shoulders, using his face as a step of sorts as WilyKat climbed up her shoulders so he could be level with the keyhole.
"Why waste time picking out a key…" WilyKit said.
"When you could just pick the lock?" WilyKat finished. After a moment of tinkering, the door unlocked and they jumped in. Tygra, still holding Snarf, was the first to climb up the chain of people into the doorway, then Cheetara, then Naruto, and then Lion-O. Tygra and Lion-O pulled Panthro up into the door and he sighed in relief, his muscles straining from having to hold onto something while having so much weight attached to him. The doors closed behind them, and they all stood up, looking at the long stretch of a hallway before them.
"The Book could be just beyond that wall." Lion-O said.
"Well, then let's go get it." Panthro said with a confident smirk.
"Wait," Naruto stopped him by holding her arm out in front of the large cat. He looked down at her curiously, "Whoever the past Clerics were they went to trouble to making sure the Book of Omen stay hidden. You don't think this is way too easy?"
"And what do you suggest we do?" Panthro asked. "If the book if here what do you suggest we do?"
"I..I think I remember reading something once. About trials…" Naruto said as he tried to recall them. He paused and thought what he read, but it wouldn't come to him. "I just think we should be more careful."
Panthro gave him a skeptical look and looked back at the hall in front of them. He looked around the floor and bent down, picking up a rock. He tested the weight of it in his hand and threw it out further into the hallway. The second it hit the floor, huge, whirring blades came out and began spinning rapidly, like saws, ready to cut anything, cutting the small rock with ease.
Naruto let out a breath of relief. "Rigged traps. It makes sense that these would be set up to keep outsiders away."
"Then this whole place is one big deathtrap." Panthro said, scowling at the blades.
"How are we supposed to get past these blades without being turned into sushi?" Lion-O questioned.
Cheetara watched the blades movement, judging their speed. She smirked, "Gotta move fast!" She jumped in, easily avoiding each blade with her incredible speed. She never once stopped, but kept moving. The closest she came to being cut was when one of the blades cut off a few strands of her long hair. When she reached the end, she grinned proudly to herself, and then pulled out her staff, having it extend long enough to push two switches on either side of the wall simultaneously and one by one, the blades stopped spinning and retracted into the walls again. Once it was safe, everyone ran to the other side of the hall.
"Nice work." Lion-O said, giving Cheetara a thumbs-up. She smiled at him and, once everyone was inside but her, she retracted her staff and dashed inside, the door shutting behind her.
The next room they walked into was a room with multiple ledges on high walls that surrounded them. On one side of the wall was a small window, which had a small line of light coming through, looking down at a pool of water. The light bounced off the reflection of the still water and onto the eyes of a stone lion head on the opposite wall. Inside the pool were piles and piles of sparkling gold coins.
"Look! Treasure!" WilyKit said happily as she and her brother dashed towards the pool.
"We're rich!" WilyKat said. He reached his hand inside the pool for its treasure.
"Kit! Kat! Don't!" Naruto cried out. This was such an obvious trap that it hurt.
It was too late, though. WilyKat's hand reaching into the water disturbed its stillness, causing ripples along the surface. The ripples affected the reflection of light that came from the tiny window, causing the light to shake and move away from the lion's head. Once it was, the lion's eyes began to glow red and water began to gush out of its open mouth, as well as pour out from the walls. Everyone immediately went up onto the ledges along the walls for safety away from the water.
"I never told you guys this…" Panthro said, looking at the water fearfully, "But I can't swim."
Naruto eyes quickly began darting around, looking for a means to escape. "There has to be a way out of here. Traps like these wouldn't be built without a safety measure."
Considering there dire situation no one was going to focus on the oddity of Naruto's sudden knowledge on the subject. Tygra pointed up to a grated part of the ceiling, where a different room could be seen on the other side.
"Looks like there's an exit up there." He said to everyone, "We'll wait for the water to rise, then float up to it."
"Easier said than done!" Panthro said with a grunt as he tried to keep afloat. Cheetara reached up to the entrance with her staff, pushing against it, but it wouldn't budge.
"I can't open it from this side!" She said worriedly as she kept pushing against it. Naruto took a deep breath and dropped down a bit. He quickly swam back up and rammed into the thing with all his might only for a solid thud and crunch coming from his shoulder.
The kitsune hissed and picked up the pace of his paddling feet. "I can't break it."
"I'm not gonna last…!" Panthro said, and he began to sink into the water. Lion-O dove after him in the water, but wasn't quick enough to get him, and he didn't get far enough before he had to go up for air himself.
"He's gone!" He gasped to the others once he reached the surface.
Panthro, upon reaching the bottom looked around to see they were in the pile of treasure the WilyKittens had seen when they had come in. He looked around, and saw an opening in the wall, that looked vaguely like a plug. He smirked and reached for it, opening it up, causing the water to suddenly sucked through the hole. He went through a tunnel, and when he finally came to an end, Panthro pushed it open, and gasped for air when he was in an empty room. He heard the sounds of Lion-O and the others, and looked to see their fingers poking through the grated opening on the floor of the room.
"Hang on!" He reached down and pulled the grate up. Everyone smiled at the sight of him.
"Panthro!" WilyKat said happily when he saw him, "You're alive!"
"We thought you were gone." Lion-O said as he pulled him out.
"How'd you even get here?" Tygra asked him.
"When I got to the bottom, there was an opening in that pool." Panthro explained, "I went through it, and ended up here." He smirked a little, "I guess not being able to swim has its advantages."
"Who wants to bet that leads to the temple?" He asked, pointing to it. They all ran through the door, ready to see the temple on the other side.
But when they reached it, there was no temple. They were simply standing on a cliff that overlooked a small piece of the jungle below, and a waterfall straight across from them. Lion-O glared at it angrily.
"There's nothing here!" He growled, "All those traps just to protect… more jungle?" He clenched his fists angrily, "Maybe no one can find this temple because it doesn't exist!"
"Don't be so quick to give up." Naruto stated, his voice making Lion-O look over at him, "If there's ever been a time you needed to believe in yourself now is that time. Have fate in yourself and surely the Sword of Omens will to."
Lion-O nodded, now was not the time to doubt himself. He reached for his sword and pulled it out, holding it out in front of him.
"Sword of Omens, give me sight beyond sight." He commanded. The hilt of the sword extended slightly, curling around Lion-O's eyes again. This time, the sword did as he asked, and showed him that, just below, there was a button on the cliff below them. His eyes widened, and his sword returned to its dormant, miniaturized form and he put it away in his gauntlet. "There's a switch…" He kneeled down and saw that the sword had told him the truth and he could see it from where he was. He lay down, trying to reach down to press it, but it was too far away, "I can't reach it."
Tygra pulled out his whip.
"Allow me." He said, he snapped the whip, and the ends of it smacked against the switch. After a second, the switch sung into the wall of the cliff, and as it did, a stone panther head appeared on the other side, soon, two others followed out of the waterfall. A stone archway moved the water out of view of a huge tower that was hidden by the waterfall. A moment later, three flat, stones seemed to elevate from the ground, giving them a path to walk across to the tower.
They all did so immediately, heading straight for the tower, which was slightly moss encrusted from years of hiding behind water.
"The Tower of Omens…" Lion-O breathed, looking at it as they came closer.
"I can't believe I finally found it!" Panthro said, looking up at it, "Guess all it took was the right partners." He looked at the others when he said this. They found themselves entering another room. It was a large room, aged by time as a series of carvings in the ground filled the area. Old ruins of a forgotten time.
"The Book must be beyond this door." Tygra said, "By the way this tower is structure once we go beyond this room the only way to go is up."
Cheetara looked over at her friend with a smile, "You did it, Lion-O!"
"Let's not celebrate yet." Naruto interrupted. "We have one last trial." Naruto stepped forward. "I remember now, even if it took me this long. That first trap was a test of cunning and resourcefulness. The second one was of speed and so on and so on until we found ourselves here. Strength, Speed, Cunning, Mind meaning we have one last trial. Meaning one last trial, the trial of Evil. One of the measures of King is his choices right? Well everyone has had their turn, now its my turn."
"Naruto…" Cheetara stepped forward only for him to raise a hand to stop her and smile.
"Its my duty as a Cleric to be of use to his majesty. " Naruto remarked as he walked further into the room. Considering the other traps the cats weren't too quick to waltz right in. The runes on the floor began to glow with a bright light. In a luminous flash a barrier of sorts erected around the middle of the room cutting Naruto off from the others.
A blinding light filled the room and washed over all of them. It soon faded the runes began to dull as the faint light of the room dulled down. On the other side of room opposite of Naruto stood a humanoid figure. The figure was a furless creature wearing strange clothes, a blonde mane, and piercing cerulean eyes. "Who…what are you?" Naruto asked as the figure's eyes seemed to pierce through his sole. It was at the tip of his tongue and he couldn't shake the feeling he was having.
"Naruto Uzumaki," the other one answered. "The Real Naruto Uzumaki."
The kitsune found himself shocked silent. That couldn't be possible. It was impossible for the clerics to have foretold his name if he truly wasn't from around here unless. 'I…he…then…who the hell am I?' he wondered facing the possibility that everything he was coming to learn may have been a lie.