A/N: I would like to thank the following people who had taken the time to review this story:
Stay awesome and thanks for the loyalty and support
Now for the long overdue chapter 15
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto.
He immediately knew who wrote it since it was labeled as "Sasuke-bastard" He cautiously opened it to find a medium Styrofoam cup that has ramen in it. He stared at it for a minute or two before taking out the chopsticks and softly said, "Itadakimasu…"
It was already eleven in the morning but almost everyone in the group started to complain, mostly Naruto and Sakura; Sasuke gave shorter and more irritated response and sometimes snarky remarks that Sakura had to walk between him and Naruto if any fights should occur. Kakashi was the least bothered of all, with his little orange book up to his nose; he was more than content with the temperature.
The sun was beating down on their heads with its unforgiving rays taking a toll on them and walking on the side of the unpaved road was pure torture. Naruto, who was so excited and literally flew out of the city gates, was now dragging his feet with his forehead drenched with sweat, and his orange jacket was tied on his hip. He was sorely tempted to take off his black sleeveless shirt as well but with Sakura around, he would fly back to the city in record time. Sakura who was docile and composed that morning now had her hair sticking on her skin, she felt so gross that she wanted to jump on any body of water just to get rid of that disgusting feeling and find a nice shade that was provided by a good and sturdy tree like the ones back at her hometown.
Sasuke was taking it like a champ. Although his face now had a permanent scowl and his poker straight back slowly slouched forward. Whether it was a coincidence or divine intervention; a small horse-pulled cloth-covered cart carrying chickens was cruising along the dirt path.
A middle aged couple wearing simple yet sturdy clothes greeted them and were kind enough to let them ride on the cart free of charge. They even lend them some straw hats that clashed horribly with their instructor's hair. Naruto, seeing a chance to get revenge on Sasuke's earlier attitude began to quip about the latter's relations with their fellow passengers.
"Hey Sasuke, maybe your nickname should be 'chicken butt'. You look as if you styled your hair from a chicken's ass!" the blonde laughed as he stroked one of the hen's head that poked out of its cage. Sasuke's eyes seemed darker under the shade of the hat and scoffed,
"My hair might look like that but at least I'm not like you whose face looks exactly like a chicken's ass"
"What did you say prick?!"
"Both of you stop that!" Sakura reprimanded from the front of the cart. "I'm so sorry about this, I hope we're not giving you any inconvinience" she added quickly to the couple. The man gave her a toothy smile and shook his head, "Not at all; It's nice to have some company while traveling on the road." His wife nodded as well while stroking her pregnant belly, "You know what they say 'The more the merrier'!"
"-I dare you to say that again!" Naruto's voice flowed through the whole road. The agitated clucks of chickens and a growl that most likely came from Sasuke answered it. Sakura dared to turn her head around to see Naruto's face flushed in anger and both his and Sasuke's hair was covered with chicken feathers. Kakashi was dozing against the wall with his hands crossed behind his head, undisturbed from all the noise. She slapped her hand over her eyes and spent all the ride apologizing to the couple who was more amused rather than angry from the scene.
They were dropped off by the entrance of a small town. Naruto coughed a bit, feathers exited from his mouth and Sasuke picked out the white and brown feathers from his head and shirt. The instructor suddenly walked briskly towards the biggest building that was placed right on the center. The three looked around and noticed the townsfolk leering at them with suspicion in their eyes. A small little boy who wore ragged clothes bumped on Sakura so hard that she caught herself by leaning on a cart.
The boy stuck his tongue out and pulled the skin under his eye with his fingertip and ran with other street urchins who were cheering for him, "Go away weavers! You're causing trouble!" they yelled at them.
"Don't be surprised by their reactions" Kakashi suddenly said, appearing behind them, "These people have experienced minus attacks and the paranoia meter against weavers are at maximum." His words were backed up by several people whispering and some had even closed their doors and windows when they looked their way. Their instructor then maneuvered them towards the town hall, fully aware of the hostile glares that were baring holes onto their backs.
A small man with a roundish belly wiped his forehead as his general and chief of police gathered around the table and pinpointed the sites of attacks for the soul weavers the administration had sent for. Granted, he was taken aback when he saw three teenagers, even barely adults; enter the room with the well-known Hatake Kakashi.
The banisher introduced them as his students and reassured him that they were quite... 'exceptional' though he had doubts when he saw the blond who was more interested with playing with his pet parrot than listen to the meeting, the black haired one who was a bit too serious than Kakashi and the girl- he thought she was just there to carry the supplies, turned out to be an exorcist.
"Now" the general, Takumi Toru said as he traced the outline of the town with a pencil, "Within the vicinity, our borders held jurisdiction within 12,000 kilometers in land, water and air space.
Kakashi studied the area and noted a patch of area that was coloured in with maroon, "What about this area?"
The chief of police, Ruki, was the one who answered, "That is the abandoned part of town. It was once the research building where most of our archives were stored. Documents and such but since the outbreak of minuses in that area, we closed it down and placed warning signs around it."
"Apparently they chose to ignore it" Sasuke stated. Ruki glared at him and crossed his arms, his long brown bangs covered his right eye partly, "Well obviously, but we can assume they could actually read it"
"But as I said, they ignore it. Just because you write it in red ink on yellow paper doesn't mean they'll all follow it."
The town mayor, Houkuji Hirohito, mopped his face and slowly walked to the table, "Chief, we should just get a move on. Please Hatake-san!" he turned to Kakashi, "Help us! We'll do whatever it takes to keep my people safe!" he all but sobbed on his handkerchief.
Kakashi nodded in sympathy and turned to Ruki and Toru, "We will make a thorough sweep along the borders of the town and keep the citizens safe."
Naruto turned from the bird and placed a closed fist on his chest, "Leave it to us! We'll take care of the infestation and protect the people in this town!" he cried. Sasuke gave a small smirk and Sakura nodded with a smile, Kakashi shook his head in an amused tilt and rolled the map, starting their order.
A small shuriken embedded itself to a minus' shoulder. The bestial creature sniffed at the weapon before roaring in anger towards Sasuke. He immediately jumped on to the nearest branch and threw a kunai knife with a purging talisman attached at the end of the weapon. The paper burst into flames as it sunk into the wolfish shadow and engulfed the howling minus into flames.
Naruto crouched as the creature, quite the same as Sasuke's opponent, dashed through the thick vegetation before it tried to crush his head with its massive jowls. Its saliva glistened with the moonlight and while it's form was solid, they could still see the semi-transparency of the minus, depicting that it hadn't completely absorbed the number of souls it needed. With a swipe of its claw, the bush where Naruto was hiding from was hacked into a mess of twigs and leaves. The banisher took out his scroll and began the spell. The scroll unfurled itself and numerous symbols flowed out of the parchment like water and attacked the minus by eliciting strong thick chains that wrapped around its body. It started to constrict itself in an agonizing grip that Naruto almost hesitated on purging the yowling creature. But it will hurt people and it was his job to prevent it. So he said a low apology before plunging his kunai on its forehead and began to purge it. It burst into a gray puff of smoke before it formed into a ball and slowly being sucked into the scroll. He tied the strings securely before he placed it in his pouch and jogged towards his teammates. Sakura had just finished checking the area and informed them they had entered the abandoned part of the town.
There was no sign of life. The green grass had stopped sprouting like it was forced to be cut down by the line. The ground where there should be grass and foliage was filled with gravel and rocks. Kakashi walked in front of them and motioned for them to place their microphone pieces in their ear and gestured them to scout around the place.
The abandoned building reeked of negative energy. Sasuke can't fathom the idea of how those stupid kids thought it would even be remotely safe inside a place like that. Even if they are just civilians, it's so simple to read the 'No Trespassing" sign that was tied on the entrance by two flimsy ropes and numerous windows and glass doors with their glasses broken and shards that had scattered through the area. He scanned the grounds with his eyes infused with his wavelength. Several wandering spirits were popping in and out but they're harmless earthbound, not a real threat. Naruto walked to the back of the building, his kunai in his hand and the other was close to his scroll.
Sakura stiffened as the stench of death hung in the air and the feeling of hopelessness and fear was almost tangible. Kakashi moved into the interior when he suddenly stopped.
There was something in this building.
He felt something dark in the building that was weakening him. His wavelength was still in control but it was flowing in a slightly different pattern. This was no shadow minus. Something more evil was at work and frankly, he didn't expect any survivors.
Kakashi walked into building, quietly ordering Naruto through his earpiece to regroup with Sakura and Sasuke as he investigated the ground floor.
As the three stood guard in front of the main entrance, Kakashi walked through the hall. From the cracked walls and the holes on the floor, he searched any sign of the minus. He walked to the staircase before he noticed a sign of movement by the corner of his uncovered eye. He slowly tugged his mask down a bit to reveal his crimson eye and placed a hand on the handle of his katana. He crept slowly back to the corner he passed a moment ago before he took out his katana from its sheath.
Then, with a whistle of the blade soaring down, he stopped at mid strike. The source of the movement was a small boy who was shaking like a leaf. He was staring at the blade with wide eyes and tears that welled on the corners. His small arms were filled with cuts and bruises, his clothes were tattered and even had drops of blood in random places. Kakashi withdrew his weapon and studied the boy. His soul was still in his body and he was so shaken by his attack that he was almost in a catatonic state. He lifted a hand, making the boy flinch, before he gently placed it on the boy's head, "Maa maa, daijobou!" Kakashi coaxed, "I'm here to help you get-"
The boy's eyes got even wider and hugged himself, "Mo-monsters! They killed my friends! Blood... blood!" he cried and turned behind him before he turned to random directions as if he was expecting someone to pop out. Kakashi narrowed his eyes as he felt several negative energy emerging from different directions coming at them all at once.
He picked up the boy and jumped forward, just in time to escape the sharp claws that aimed to shred him. The claw retracted back to the shadowed part of the hallway where three pairs of deep violet eyes were glaring at them. The boy gripped tightly on Kakashi's vest while mumbling, "Monster! Monster!"
Kakashi clicked his tongue; he can't properly fight the minuses with a currently mentally unstable child who became a bull's eye for them.
A piercing shriek snatched him away from his thoughts and completely disabled him. He felt his left knee buckle to the ground and his brain was shaking from the high pitched shriek that almost destroyed his eardrums. Blood slowly seeped out from his right ear and the boy yelled at the same time but he luckily covered his small ears. A small bat-like creature emerged from behind them; clearly an owner of those three violet eyes. It opened its snout and revealed long and deadly canines before letting out another shriek.
Kakashi threw a kunai knife that was tied with a talisman in its handle at its direction and whispered, "Retineo!" The talisman burst into flames as it hit the sound waves. The burning paper reshaped into a silver chain that wrapped itself on its snout. The minus roared in anger and tried to pry it off of its face. As fast as a heartbeat, more bat-like creatures came out from the shadows and jumped at Kakashi and the boy. Kakashi managed to drag his katana upwards, slicing one of the minuses in half. The other two growled angrily before taking a jump back and began to advance once more. He prepared himself from the impact before he heard a very familiar voice above their screeching,
"I'm gonna kick your asses 'ttebayo!"
The minus that was nearest to Kakashi looked up before its head was snapped back from the hard kick it received, thanks to an orange and yellow blur. The second minus took a chance before it found itself being stabbed right between the eyes and roared for the last time as it burst into a pile of black ashes.
Sasuke brushed his sword from the pile of ashes as Naruto purged the minus with his scroll. Kakashi straightened up with the kid still clinging on to him for dear life.
"I thought I ordered you to stay outside?" he asked sternly but with a hint of gratitude. Something in this building had greatly diminished his wavelength and with three academy students, his students no less, it's going to be more troublesome than it needs to be.
The minus who still had the chain around its snout knew that it was outnumbered and decided to retreat.
Sakura stood guard on the entrance alone. Naruto and Sasuke had rushed to help their instructor when they heard a loud yell that vibrated throughout the whole building. She wanted to go too but Sasuke told her to guard the entrance so that 'Nothing else goes in and nothing goes out.' There was no moon today, a tough condition for any weaver to be in an Order. The moon signals any attack, how dark the colour and how much it bled; all they needed to know if it is a low levelled shadow minus to a rogue.
Sakura watched the wind gently bend the blades of overgrown grass, crickets were chirping and the first glow of the fireflies could be seen from a short distance away. She kept a wary eye on the building and for safety measures; she took out her key so that she can instantly call out Koukuro.
After Naruto and Sasuke have left her, seconds became a minute and that minute became five minutes. 'Are they in trouble?' she thought worriedly.
A scratchy sound came from her earpiece, she practically jumped in surprise before fumbling her earpiece to answer it, "Hai!"
"I need you to meet up with us in here, now"
Sakura confirmed and hastily left her post to join her team. Unnoticed by her was a tall shadow of a man with no eyes and a demonic grin on his face.
The boy shivered as the white haired man was talking to the black haired onii-chan. Blonde onii-chan was checking up on him with a smile, something that was definitely off-setting with the nightmare he encountered.
"By the way, I'm Naruto! Uzumaki Naruto, banisher extraordinaire!" he introduced himself with an even wider grin (if possible) and pointed on his chest with his thumb. The black haired onii-chan cuffed him in his head which he replied with a whispered bad word. The oldest man sighed and asked him his name, "Yamamoto Shuu" he said in a quivering voice.
He heard footsteps coming from behind them. He stood up and hid quickly behind the white haired man's leg. The shadow stepped into the moonlight that flowed from the broken window and exposed the owner of the shadow.
'She looks weird' he thought to himself. He never saw anyone with pink hair before.
Sakura blinked at the boy hiding behind Kakashi's leg and looked at her instructor. Kakashi nodded at her, "The boy has several injuries and his soul pattern might be a bit shaken" he concluded. She bent down to Shuu's eye level and gave him a sweet smile that caught him offguard. "Hello there. My name's Sakura, what's yours?"
"Shuu, I'm going to heal your wounds and I'm going to need your help okay?"
Sasuke stared at the two's interaction and swallowed back a scoff. That kind of scene is really inappropriate for a serious and deadly mission. The boy who was crying a while ago was now stuttering as Sakura healed the cuts as gently as she could, talking to the boy to distract him.
"Shuu said that he was separated from his friends. Naruto and I will search the upper levels. Sasuke, you and Sakura will remain here and guard Shuu. It looks like the minuses have made him a target."
Sasuke scowled, not liking the arrangement while Sakura nodded obediently, taking Shuu in her arms in case of any danger. Kakashi and Naruto sprinted along the halls and turned to the corner before they disappeared out of their sights. Sasuke kept his guard up while he paced around their area. His retainer made a bad call, he decided. If he just ordered Sakura to take the kid back to the village instead of letting him stay here; Sasuke would have been able to join them and it would be a quick scouting before they could go home. Now he was stuck here in babysitting duty.
"So Shuu, do you go to school?"
"Really? What grade are you in?"
"Stop talking" Sasuke hissed, "It would attract more minuses if you give away our position."
The girl retaliated by sending a searing glare at his direction before she patted the boy's head, "I need him to calm down."
"Is that what they taught to clerics? To be a child psychologist? No wonder they're useless."
Sakura made a snarl and placed her hands over Shuu's ears to prevent him from hearing anything, "It's common sense you asshole. Calming someone avoids their tendency to break down after a trauma!"
A low growl echoed along the floor that made them stiff within contact. Sasuke cursed as he lifted his blade in a defensive stance while Sakura tucked Shuu behind her. A loud crash was heard from the floor above them and a couple of rubble detached themselves from the ceiling. "What's going on?" Sakura asked to no one in particular before Shuu let out a panicked yell. The two weavers looked at the direction where he was staring and they felt their stomachs lurch at the sight. A massive minus, in a skeletal human form with its head covered by a ball covered with spikes appeared and on its right hand was a bloody axe. The boy suddenly vomited as it lifted its left hand and a wave of a coppery smell hit them like a ton of bricks. Dripping blood and something dangled from its hand; it was a severed human head with the spine still attached to the base of the skull. The meat was slowly falling to the ground and it was the most disgusting thing she'd ever dared to witness.
Sakura had to bite her tongue to prevent herself from vomiting at the scene. Her face felt cold and her palms were clammy, she never expected to see this kind of thing even with the nature of their job.
'Run!' a voice in her head yelled and she knew it was best to do just that.
She scooped the shaking Shuu in her arms and turned to Sasuke only to see him leap from his position and his blade in his hand.
Sasuke placed the tip of his blade on the bottom left corner and motioned it to slash upwards but the minus just swiped him like a fly and he was sent colliding through the wall.
"Sasuke-kun!" Sakura yelled but immediately regretted it when it turned its attention to the two of them. Slowly, the creature advanced towards them with its axe clenched on its hand. It dropped the bloody spine that fell with a wet squelch.
"Kami..." Sakura gasped as she found herself frozen on the spot. Adrenaline burst in her veins not unlike her fight with her retainer. Self-preservation and the will to survive kicked in that made it possible for her to jump out of the incoming axe's way and run out of the room with the child in her arms. It may look as if she's abandoning Sasuke behind but with the creature making her its target, the banisher will have enough time to compose himself and warn Naruto and Kakashi.
A voice in her head rang and she knew that voice.
It was Kinshu's
'Well at least he didn't abandon me' she blatantly thought, unaware that her spirit companion might hear it, either he didn't or he did and chose not to react.
A earth-shattering force in front of her made the exorcist stop her advance. An axe was thrown in front of them and the creature was not far behind.
The voice whispered in her ear and she knew that Kinshu was right. It was no use running around, not while she had a distraught victim on her and this murderous being haunting her footsteps. So she placed the reluctant Shuu who protested and pushed him into a small space that was enough for him to crawl through.
"Stay there and don't come out until I say so" her tone rang with authority.
Sakura touched her crystal and closed her eyes. Her wavelength poured into the crystal and let herself be lost in darkness.
The creature's hand twitched before it dug its hand into its own stomach. Shuu covered his mouth to stop his scream as blood poured rapidly out of its body. It retrieved its bloody appendage to reveal a sharp bone that looked like a rib bine with a sharp edge. A guttural sound was emitted from the creature as it trudged towards Sakura whose eyes were still closed. The creature raised its hand with the sharp bone, implicating that it will stab her on the head.
"Onee-san!" Shuu yelled in spite of himself before Sakura opened her eyes. Her right eye wasn't green. It turned into a vivid gold color and her face was void of any emotions. In her hand was a black and red scythe that had a sinister air around it. Sakura caught the bone with the blade of her scythe and effortlessly shoved the hulking minus back with as much hesitation as flicking a fly. Suddenly, she was a blur that advanced towards the creature with a glint from the blade. The minus held up its arm and made a growling noise as the blade sunk into its flesh and muscle and threw Sakura back with brute force.
The exorcist grunted when her head-on attack wasn't as effective as she thought and looked around her for a strategic way to defeat the monstrosity. The hall was narrow, the floor was filled with decay and the wall was covered with various dark spots that looked suspiciously like blood.
The minus let out a strangled yell before it turned around to look for its assailant. Sakura could see several ripped marks on its flesh like someone had whipped it with hooks. Sasuke emerged from the shadows with his blade on an offensive stance, his wavelength was swirling in an angry but composed network through his body. His eyes bled red as he stuck a kunai in front of the minus and tilted his head towards Sakura who made no move of acknowledgement, like she was in some sort of a trance.
In Sakura's mind
"Sasuke-kun!" Sakura exclaimed worriedly.
She was in her inner psyche, her body was naked and she witnessed everything like it was a movie. This was not the first time she was here. Her first time was during her battle with Orochimaru-sensei and at first, she freaked out; thinking that she was dead before Kinshu loudly explained through her screaming that it was normal for an exorcist to lend their spirit companion their body before unleashing their true potential. Technically, she was now the onlooker while Kinshu was the one commanding her actions.
"Sakura, where's the kid?" Sasuke asked, his eyes not leaving the minus that walked towards him.
'Sakura' didn't answer and instead leapt to the back of the shadow and tried to hack its head. The thick band of muscles on its neck proved to be impossible for her to complete the task. The minus took hold of the blade, not caring if the blade dug into its hand and plucked her from its back before it threw her across the hall. She bounced once, twice, five times on the floor before she rolled and finally stopped when she hit the wall.
"Idiot" Sasuke muttered under his breath, he expected that kind of stunt from Naruto, not from her.
He turned to the minus and tightened his grip on the hilt. The tomoe on his eyes spun madly as he pinpointed the weakness of the minus. The negative energy reeked through every surface and the minus fed on the energy, thus making it a deadly foe and should never take lightly. Its level could only be defeated by high leveled weavers and not academy students.
Sakura wobbly stood up, Kinshu was pushed out by the blow and none of them knew why. "Kinshu?" she gasped out as her visions doubled. The crystal grew warm within the confines of her clothing and she can positively say that the proud spirit was a hundred and fifty percent pissed. He was confident that his power increased yet this minus just swiped him off like a bug.
'Focus!' she scolded herself as she watched Sasuke cut another shallow wound on the behemoth. Once again, the minus tried to catch him but he jump out of the way and struck his sword on the ground and muttered a chant. Several symbols made a circle around the creature and with a fountain of light; the minus was contained within a cylinder that was filled with symbols, diagonally moving around the cylinder.
Sakura was more than impressed, that kind of spell required years of practice and Sasuke was only a first year.
"Snap out of your daydream and get out of here!" his commanding voice shook her out of her reverie as Sasuke held on the hilt of the sword, "Get Kakashi and the dobe, I can't hold it much longer!"
Sakura shuffled her feet and ran towards the spot where Shuu was hiding. She clambered towards the staircase and hoped to encounter Naruto and Kakashi. But before she could take another step, she heard something crash and Sasuke's pained yell. She skidded to a stop and looked at the direction with unsure eyes. A shadow appeared before her and slowly, the minus emerged, dragging Sasuke by its left hand and was about to pick up the axe that was lodged into the floor with its other hand.
At the same time as she screamed, a cold wind blew from behind and a shadow detached itself from the wall. The minus yelled in agony as a silver light swiped against its outstretched hand and a fountain of blood sprayed on the floor and wall. The minus dropped Sasuke to grasp its bleeding stump. Shuu and Sakura looked at the mysterious being before she gasped. A young man with black hair tied to his nape stood in front of the minus. He slowly turned to look at them before she saw the same crimson eyes like Sasuke's.
A/N: Annd cut. That's it for now I guess. Reconstruction was harder than I thought and with a full time job, it's a miracle this fic's still alive. Oh well. R and R no flames.