Hello, my wonderful readers!
First, let me sincerely apologize to you all for how long this took. There were many various resasons behind it, but in the end those would be nothing but excuses. More on this in the end, since I believe you would prefer to just get on with the story.
I recommend you read chapter 8 beforehand, since its been quite a while since this update (this is probably the moment I'll be avalanched with "Is that so? And whose fault would that be?") and most of you probably have forgotten what happened last time.
Last thing, before I seize my obnoxious rambling (don't worry, it shall return to plague our lives later) – Thanks to everyone for the private messages, wonderful reviews and constant support throughout these past months. Even though I have most likely disappointed you with my lack of consistency, the same way I have disappointed myself, I promise I will do my best to improve as an author.
Finally, enjoy !~
Chapter 9: Sleeping wet Caits
Naruto's sudden interruption startled Lilith, making her jump away from the blond, who had in turn jumped on all fours and moved even closer.
"What the heaven!"
"What did you say?"
"Lucifer, don't surprise me like that!"
"Yeah, sorry. Now have I heard right, they are the ones responsible for summoning the stupid Fox here?"
"Well.. Yeah. Wait, how do you know of Nine-tails?"
"I.." the blond trailed off for a moment before he sat down again "I have a history with him." An unfamiliar feeling settled upon his whole body. Despite the numerous collisions with Nove Volpi, to this day he had only witnessed the power of the Demon Fox once – through the Forth Hokage's memories from the night of his birth. The power displayed by Kyuubi back then had been enough to leave much more than a lasting impression in Naruto. Although he was going after the Fox himself and would have to face it eventually, in reality Wright and Sleeck had managed to not only summon it from another dimension, but break the seal of the prison, extract it and still survive the encounter. Forget about summoning and controlling an army of Demons, that alone spoke volumes of their power. Yet..
"Why did they fail?"
"I don't know.. They did manage to survive even if they have some scars leftover. As you might have been able to tell, Wright's mind was shattered. You don't even want to know what's under the hat, just be grateful it covers his face completely."
"I imagine the smell is a souvenir as well?" Naruto cringed his noise remembering it.
At the mention of the stench, Lilith couldn't help but cringe as well "Actually, I think he created that himself, a true testament of his insanity. And Sleeck.. His fate is even worse."
"Okay.. So what's their endgame? They want to take revenge on the Fox?"
"Possibly, I don't know. They might want to restore their bodies, although I get the feeling Sleeck is enjoying his predicament. Immortality might have been mentioned once or twice. Honestly, I have no idea. All I have learnt and told you so far is from Wright's own mouth. In the rare moments of lucidity he might explain his methods or talk about the past. Most of the time though, I get the impression he is more likely to completely forget about anyone else's existence in the room and simply talk to himself."
"Talk about a mental case" Naruto let out a dismissive snort, prompting a serious look from Lilith.
"Do not make the mistake of underestimating him, Naruto. Many have done so, including myself, and look where it has got me. There is a brilliant mind hiding somewhere in the depths of Cornelius Wright's insanity. He was the one that developed the potion they are using to subdue us. Sleeck provided the test subjects, although I am certain he would have been able to find a way as well eventually."
Lilith's reprimanding tone was like a bucket filled with ice-cold water poured over Naruto's back. Once again he recalled exactly what he was dealing with – two powerful individuals, most likely S-class mages in their own right, capable enough to face the Fox, his goal, and survive. The only person he knew that was able to defeat Nine-tails had to give his life in the process. And Naruto didn't consider it that much of a victory anyway. The blond swallowed the lump in his throat and..
Wait a second. A lump? Since when? What was this feeling anyway? So they faced the Fox, big deal! He was going to do that as well one day! They were just regular insane bad guys with some outrages goals that he needed to beat. That's right, all he needed to do was complete his true task and then defeat Wright. Nothing more, nothing less. Speaking of that, Naruto ignored the tiny voice in his head that kept whispering this time it might not actually be that easy and stood up. He looked down at Lilith and reached for his pocket.
"All right, we should get going. Before that, there's something I need you to look at first" the blond took out a piece of paper and handed it to the Demoness. "Have you seen this before?"
Lilith took the piece of paper and looked at it – it was a drawing of a key. The handle of the key had the shape of a spade, while the bottom looked like a skull with sharp teeth. She turned to Naruto "What is this?"
"I have no clue. I am looking for something that belongs to Wright and has that exact same mark on it."
The Demoness lifted a brow at the blond and turned back to the drawing. Studying it once more, she went through her memories from the time spent around Wright. Unfortunately, there was not a single one when she gave the piece of paper back to the young mage "Sorry, I have never seen it before. It would have helped if you told me what type of thing you are looking for."
Naruto let out a sigh and took the drawing, giving it a thoughtful look of his own "Yeah, you're right, that would have been helpful. I was just told it had this mark, nothing more." Shaking his head, he returned it back to his pocket.
"Well then, I suggest you start off with Wright's personal study. It's on the second floor on the west side of the mansion. After you exit the basement, go to your right and look up. There are four windows, the one of the study is the second from the left."
"That.. Helps a lot actually. It would save me the trouble of searching over the entire mansion while doing everything possible not to alert an insane, homicidal and most likely paranoid S-class mage to my presence" the blond gave a grateful smile to the Demoness. Who in turned decided such happiness shouldn't be expressed so early.
"I wouldn't be that optimistic if I were you. There's no guarantee whatever you're looking for will be there. For all you know, it could be in one of Wright's own pockets."
"Well aren't you just a bundle of optimism. Thanks, I really needed that."
"Actually, out of my sisters I am the most optimistic one" Lilith let out a small smile. A part of her was telling her she shouldn't really annoy her new ally considering her freedom depended on him. Yet another, much bigger part of her was taking utmost pleasure in Naruto's current expression, reassuring her this was merely pay-back for the earlier annoyance.
"Boy, I sure can't wait to meet them. Wait, scratch that, already met one. I don't think I made a good first impression" the blond let out a sigh before he continued "I better get going, can't waste any more time in such a pleasant company."
"Such a charmer" Lilith let out a snort before something came to her mind "Wait! How are we going to keep in touch?"
Naruto blinked a few times at the Demoness before he smacked his forehead. What was wrong with him tonight? He took out one of his three-pronged kunai and began turning the ring at the end. "You know anything about Rune magic?"
Lilith simply shook her head.
"Good" the blond took off the ring and removed the orange cylinder that had been a part of the handle and handed it over to her "Take this and hide it somewhere on your body. When you're in the clear, channel your magical power through it and I'll be with you within an hour."
"What if you're busy with something?" Lilith took the cylinder and looked over the markings painted on it.
"That's why I said an hour. And don't worry, you're a priority right now so unless I have another appointment with either a jail cell or a bag of bones wielding a scythe, I will come."
"Can I paint it over? If I'm going to conceal it somewhere, orange isn't really the colour that screams 'nothing to see here'."
"Everyone's a critic." A mock hurt expression was painted on Naruto's face, which only served to amuse Lilith, before he continued "Don't worry about it, do whatever you need to. Since you don't know anything about Rune magic, there's no threat of disrupting the runes. Just don't break it or something."
"All right, I'll think of something."
"Good. See you when I see you then" Naruto turned his back and made a couple of steps before he heard her call back from behind.
"Wait!" Turning around the blond was met by Lilith's serious expression. And her outstretched hand. A small tornado began forming above it, steadily growing in volume and intensity. Before Naruto could ask what she was doing, the funnel shot up and twisted towards him. It took the blond only a second to overcome his surprise and utilize his scales to grab the Air spell and consume it. Immediately feeling a surge of power, he looked at the Demoness, not even needing to have any sort of query present in his eyes.
"That was most of my magical energy. Since you can restore your power faster with that, I figured you might need it more considering what you are about to face." A simple explanation, without her gaze being present anywhere near him was what he got. A bit surprised and confused by that action, Naruto managed to utter a simple response as well in the form of a "Thanks."
"Don't. There's not much else I can really do now, can I?" Lilith asked rhetorically turning to him only for a moment before looking away once more. "Thank me by beating him and freeing me and my family."
Despite his general obliviousness, Naruto understood his newest ally's frustrations. Being forced to swallow your pride and rely on someone you consider inferior, especially if you're supposed to be high class or something can be a really hard feat. Just one more thing that shows how desperate the Demoness actually was. For that reason, the blond gave her a simple, wordless nod before turning his back to her and moving down the corridor towards the exit.
Finding himself back at the yard, the young mage immediately looked up, locating the window Lilith had told him about.
There was an interesting play at work here. In a situation like this, one would usually express some doubt for their newest ally. They could have always put up a little theatrical performance just to make one's guard fall down and trap them in a conveniently positioned ambush later on. One wasn't Naruto. Instead of concerning himself with minor details like that, he would opt to trust his new friends completely. He was well aware of the possibility of betrayal and still he would do so without hesitation. If he did end up getting trapped in a performance deserving of Fiore's Theatre Academy Awards, then he would find a way to deal with that. Besides, he had no reason to even suspect Lilith yet. The expressions painted on her face, the frustration showed through her body language, it all pointed to the same conclusion – she desperately wanted to get away, to save herself and to get her freedom back.
Willing naiveté was among the things Shika called it. Alongside terms like 'incredibly annoying', 'downright stupid', 'having a death wish', and his personal favourite – 'troublesome'. Then again, judging by his record so far even the lazy Exceed had to admit Naruto was either an excellent judge of character or extremely lucky.
That is why all thoughts of a possible set-up were not present in the blond's mind. He would still take some level of precaution against things like a security-spell system, an anti-break-in ward or even a pool filled with acid and inhabited by a swarm of Acid Sharks. He would never consider the possibility of the room sealing itself off completely the moment an intruder came in. Or the possibility of a poisonous gas being filled in said room, making it completely uninhabitable. And he would be right.
"Spectral winds that veil the heavens.. Sky Resonance!"
Naruto immediately felt the spell taking effect. After a brief moment he checked his whole body and made sure he was completely invisible. Resonance was a spell developed after Mistgun's own mist form, with the help of the Edolas prince himself. Despite not having any magical power of his own, he still possessed vast knowledge of the arts, enough to make him a fierce adversary. As for the spell itself, it was potent enough to deceive all but the most perceptive of mages. It also happened to be Jiraiya's most desired spell, the reason being it would make his information gathering much easier. When it came to job related and non-related things of course.
With a simple jump, Naruto placed his feet on the wall and began climbing towards the window. There was not even a sliver of light present in the room which was a surprisingly good thing. It meant most likely no one was in it, so the blond could continue with the stealthy movement. Not finding any conveniently placed cracks through which he could seep into the room, he opted to put a kunai between the two frames and removed the simple lock. Luckily for him, people did not think tougher security would be needed when they had a whole army of Demons guarding the mansion.
With the opening of the window, Naruto also opened a metaphorical door to traces of the horrid stench that usually surrounded Wright, coupled with the distinct smell of old, dusty paper. Judging by the powerful presence of the odour, the insane Demon summoner liked spending quite a lot of time in this particular room. Smell or not, the blond did not have much of a choice and after taking a last breath of fresh air entered the study. Whilst the idea of leaving the window open was oh so tempting, the last thing he needed right now was for Wright to enter the room and become paranoid.
The young mage took out a small lacryma crystal from his pocket and placed it on his forehead protector. After channelling some of his power into it, he had to suppress a chuckle as he imagined the picture of a floating light with no apparent source and the various expressions most people would make after seeing it. His sense of humour quickly diminished after he saw the state of the room.
It was a complete mess! There were papers and books scattered all around the floor, the top of the desk looked like a self-sustaining chaotic ecosystem and things like boxes and bottles were simply thrown around the various shelves. Even though he was a bit of a messy person himself, this far surpassed what he had ever done, which was an achievement in its own right. And the worst part was now he had to sort out through the chaos without even having had the pleasure of creating it himself.
Naruto went to the middle of the room and began scanning it, slowly turning his body around and looking for anything that would catch his eye. From time to time he would either bend down to the floor or rush to one of the bookcases, let out a disappointed sigh and return back to the middle. He had almost given up and considered starting with the desk when he noticed a bunch of leather cylinders on one of the many shelves. Going closer to them, he guessed they most likely contained maps or some sort of drawings. What had caught his attention actually was a black smaller one with some sort of red lines. Taking it into his hand, he immediately noticed it had a cold feel to it, as if he was touching marble, rather than leather. The red lines looked more like vines stretching along the surface and he wasn't sure if it was because of the air or the fact he might have been a little tired, but it seemed like they were moving under the soft light coming from the crystal, that was utterly consumed by the obsidian surface. The blond followed them with a finger, feeling a slight tingly sensation, until they concentrated in the middle, around the drawing of a key with a handle in the shape of a spade and the bottom looking like a skull with sharp teeth.
Doing his best to suppress the yell of victory, the young mage still shot out his arms in furor. Bringing the object back down, he gave it a closer inspection, double-checking the symbol and noticing there was no actual lid, as if it was completely sealed off. Well, that wasn't his problem really, his task had been to find the blasted thing. All those months spent tracking Wright had finally come to fruition with the added bonus of ruining the Demon summoner's plans in the process. Now all he needed to do was confront the insane mage and finish that part of the task. Right.
Pocketing the cylinder and making sure it was secured properly, Naruto cut the power to the crystal and took it away as well. Taking a couple of minutes to properly adjust his sight to the darkness, he went to the door and grabbed the handle. After taking another deep breath, the blond began opening the door slowly. He noticed a dim light coming from the hallway, a product from a few candles in candlesticks on the wall. With the lack of presence of anyone else, he moved out of the room and closed the door silently. Preparing for the next part as much as he could, Naruto took a deep whiff. After all, his best bet of finding Wright was to follow the smell, which included him not passing out or vomiting his guts out, something he managed to avoid with extreme difficulty.
He did menage to discover Wright was actually on the same floor. Letting his nose lead him, Naruto went up to one of the doors at the end of the hallway, right next to the staircase leading down. His blood froze though when he heard muffled voices from the inside. Not being able to actually make out any of the words being said, the blond gulped silently, grabbed the handle and with an extremely slow motion that felt like an eternity slightly opened the door.
".. And with the addition of Scarlet and Marvell's souls, I believe we will have enough to proceed with the next phase of our plan!" Naruto immediately recognized Wright's voices. Peaking in the inside, he saw the back of the insane summoner, who was apparently talking to a giant lacryma crystal.
"That is good, yeees. It is still too early to challenge the Nine-tailed Demon Fox, nooo." Could that be the other one, Sleeck?
"Especially since we can't even pinpoint its location!" The blond turned into air and seeped into the room, taking position on the ceiling. He hoped he wouldn't have needed to do this, since it took a huge amount of concentration to move slowly and carried the risk of being detected easily. He immediately looked over to Wright and did his best not to sigh in relief at the fact the summoner had not caught whiff of his actions.
"Patience, my friend. In time, we will locate the Fox and its power will be ours, yeees." Now that he was in the room, he could practically see the cloud of foul smell with his nose. It was emanating from the blue robbed mage and circling him in a protective manner.
"Why don't we try summoning one of the other Tailed Demons? We could use it as bait and it would also make a nice addition to our assets." The blond quickly devised a plan for taking down Wright. He would blast the cloud away, summon winds around himself to keep it further away from counter attacking and use the element of surprise to strike its master down.
"I don't believe we are ready for something like that yet, nooo. First, we need to test your new potion and for that we need to see exactly how much energy you've managed to gather from Nebula." For now, Naruto would just listen and be prepared to jump him in a moment's notice. He needed all the information he could get about these two after all.
Cornelius let out a snort before he continued "Speaking of that, have you made any headway in locating Babajide and Morgana?" Naruto's heart jumped at that. Morgana? Did he mean Erza's guild-mate?
"I am coming close to Babajide, yeees. He is tracking closely the movements of that guild and doing his best to conceal himself. Unfortunately for him, the trail of corpses he's leaving is more than enough for me to follow him and eventually.. meeeeeting him." The blond tried looking over at the person speaking from the lacryma but all he could make out was a cloaked figure. "As for Morgana, she still hasn't made anything to signify even a remote clue to her location, nooo" Sleeck continued on.
"Hah! I still find it hard to believe she is a part of a goody guild like Fairy Tail. Are you even sure she is alive still?"
"She did make an appearance once or twice, yeees. And I am keeping that guild under surveillance, if she were to die it would not go past by me, nooo."
"Maybe we shouldn't keep going with only watching that guild. Maybe we should pay them a visit. I wonder if they know of her past involvement with us."
"It would be unwise to challenge that old fool, Makarov, nooo. He is still one of the Ten Wizard Saints, yeees."
"Then let's send her a message. How lucky for us that Erza Scarlet is here and has provided us with means to do so too!"
"Aaaah, I always enjoy that cruel side of yours, Cornelius. I cannot wait to see the fruits of your labour, yeees."
For a response, the blue robbed mage simply began laughing maniacally and was soon joined by Sleeck as well. Naruto on the other hand concluded he really was dealing with a bunch of lunatics. Time to finish the job then.
"Now if you'll excuse me" Wright suddenly spoke "a nosy cat seems to have managed to sneak into the mansion."
Naruto's eyes widened in surprise and his nose flared as he sensed the cloud of foulness shot up towards him.
Weak points. It is generally believed that any type of obstacle, be it a monster or a giant wall, has one. They vary in sizes and shapes and are usually very hard to find. For example, in the past people believed that Dragons had a small spot upon their body not covered in scales and there are legends of people slaying them with a single arrow. It is said the first Dragon Slayers were born that way, although nowadays they don't really need to use primitive tools like a bow and arrow, opting to simply beat the living hell out of a Dragon with its own magic. Another example is the giant satellite Aetherion orbiting around Earth Land. It is a well kept secret that only a select few individuals know of, that there is an open shaft on the exterior. If an offensive spell were to enter the shaft it would be able to reach the core of the satellite square, resulting in the explosion of the entire device. Of course, in both instances producing a shot that would be able to reach both targets would be nearly impossible without the help of some divine intervention.
That was the thing about weak points. Finding them was actually the easy part. Hitting them was a whole other story. And that was the exact frustrating situation Erza found herself in. Yeah, the giant glaring orb was a pretty good clue on what the redhead should aim for. There was just the minor detail of the extremely thick skin she had to go through. As if penetrating it was not hard enough, the thing actually pulsated every time the Behemoth spewed fire, as if to taunt her. The nerve!
Despite her growing annoyance, Erza still managed to keep enough of her cool to realize she had to abandon using the Black Wing Armour, which was quite unfortunate considering it was one of her best offensive armours. The fact her attacks didn't penetrate the Demon's thick armour much meant she needed something much stronger. She had such armours, but they usually brought large changes to the landscape with the demise of her foes. If you include the addition of the blast from the destruction of the orb things would look pretty bad for Nebula's future tourists, unless they were of the giant crater loving sort. No, she needed something stronger, more concentrated. An attack that would not make things messier than they already were.
An idea came to her mind that almost made her smile. Now all she needed was a distraction long enough to set things in motion. Fortunately, her current position was such that her eyes were looking straight up at the sky where a pair of flying cats were circling above her. This time she could not hold her smile.
Erza found herself being rapidly covered in saliva and the Behemoth's foul breath from underneath the beast's paw. Her view of the sky was suddenly covered by the Demon's approaching maw. The only thing left for her to do now was free herself and approach the Exceed before she was intimately acquainted with Animodu's internal digestive tract. Requipping two swords near her, the young sorceress took hold of them with her telekinesis and sent them into the creature's mouth, stabbing the palate with the first and jamming the second in the gums between two teeth.
Her overgrown opponent actually defied the laws of physics by jumping backwards from the enormous pain and began trashing around and attempting to reach the grossly offending weapons. Actions that have conveniently freed Erza from captivity proved by the fact the redhead was now flying upwards towards the two Exceed.
"That must have hurt. I definitely wouldn't want to get on your bad side" Jiraiya found himself re-evaluating his decision on using the scarlet beauty as a template for his latest story. Then again, he settled on abandoning all reason and finding comfort in the fact she probably wouldn't do anything like that to a friend.
Erza merely spared a glance at the white cat "Thank you"
"I'm not sure that was meant as a compliment" Shika chimed in.
"No not for that" the redhead gave the cats a smile that made both of them nervous "For volunteering."
Only feeling his nervousness increase, Jiraiya spoke "Volunteering? For what?"
The redhead looked underneath them at the still trashing and roaring Behemoth and still keeping her smile, responded "Distraction"
This had not been a good day for Animodu. Sure, it started promising – a large quantity of souls were sacrificed in his name which was usually a forecast calling for a night filled with havoc, mass murder and serial arson with a hundred percent chances of sacrifice. A surprise showing of a redhead flurry ruined his plans of mayhem, but the Demon had thought he would continue after it passed. Unfortunately, he hadn't been aware that the storm that was Erza Scarlet's fury did not simply 'pass'. It usually brought an insurmountable amount of devastation directed at her target and any adjacent bystanders who were unfortunate enough to miss the distant thunders in her eyes.
She had cut his horn, blinded two of his eyes and carved over a dozen of slashes upon his body. The worst part – it looked like she was just starting. When Animodu had thought he had finally managed to capture her, the redhead had not even twitched in fear. Instead, she opted for stabbing him in the most infuriating and painful of places. And now after he managed to get rid of the offending swords, two flying cats appeared out of nowhere, as if falling from the sky. They started taunting him with his actions, flying dangerously close to his injured mouth as if challenging him to eat them and even going as far as landing on his head and stomping around it, particularly over his blinded eyes. Confused, wounded and extremely annoyed, Animodu did the most natural thing for his situation – with a roar, he violently began trashing around, trying to hit the annoying felines and turn them into nothing more than a flattened paste below his paw. Right according to Erza's plan.
The redhead regarded the whole situation, waiting for the opportune moment. Her scheme was working well so far, yet she could not dilly-dally for long. Despite Shika and Jiraiya's speedy annoyance, they could run out of energy at any moment and they all needed that for the escape. Right as that thought passed the giant Demon slammed his paws onto the ground in his latest attempt, making Erza spring into action.
"Heaven's Wheel: Blumenblatt!"
She flew from behind the Behemoth and went underneath him, striking all of his legs as she passed by them. Before the creature could even register his latest wound, nearly thirty swords appeared and pinned his paws to the ground. Animodu let out a pain-filled scream and began making attempts to free himself, while Erza stopped and turned to face him.
"Shikamaru, Jiraiya, get ready!" her scream echoed in the woods as the Heaven's Wheel Armour was engulfed in light, changing into The Giant's Armour. Right as the Evil Crushing spear appeared in her hand and Erza prepared to throw it, the Exceed wrapped their tails around her waist.
The Behemoth made another attempt to free his paws which only brought him further pain. A sudden light in front of him caught his attention and the giant Demon gazed right into his slayer's eyes, with the sudden realization of his utter defeat settling in. The final thing he heard was Erza's scream, the final thing he saw was the approaching spear, the final thing he felt was the piercing pain that went right through his body.
The redhead watched her weapon fly away from the creature's back before the giant beast fell to the ground, dead before it even touched it. Light began leaking from the two new holes on the glowing orb and spreading around Animodu's body. That was their cue to make themselves scarce. She felt the yanking at her waist and the pressure from the sudden acceleration from the Exceed's top speed. A blinding light lit the heavens turning night into day before it was followed by the deafening sound of an enormous explosion.
Shikamaru flew with all of his strength when everything became white. He instantly realized that they had a few seconds at most before the shock wave caught up with them. He hoped it would be enough for his plan. And there it was, the lake they had seen when they first arrived at Nebula. It was so close, yet at the same time out of reach. He felt the last of his magical energy drain away and realized they were not going to make it. Funny, while he did expect one of Naruto's adventures would be the death of him, he always believed that if he were to go it would be beside his best friend, with his final words being something along the lines of "Told you so."
Suddenly he felt an instantaneous increase in his passenger's weight. Great, now they really had no chances. Then Shika realized the blast had reached them but something had shielded them. That realization happened while they were being propelled at top speed towards the lake. Another realization came to him that with the state they were all in, swimming might prove a bit hard. Downright impossible even. The final thing he managed to do before the trio hit the water with a resounding splash was grab ahold of the three-pronged kunai on his back.
A small pile of debris shuffled before an orange-clad mage emerged from it. That last explosion had been huge. Had he not used Armour in the last second, he would have been severely hurt if not even worse. While healing his bruised left hand, Naruto had to admit, Wright was quite the capable foe. The blond had discovered that while the foul cloud could move around and attack it was constantly linked to the insane mage and could return in a matter of seconds. What was worse, he needed to keep a constant flow of wind around him, otherwise he would run the risk of inhaling the foul stench, resulting in the sapping of his power. And despite the fact that defence worked and Naruto could even blow the cloud away with his wind, he had discovered that while the wretched thing was close to Wright, it became much stronger. Not only was the small cyclone around him not enough to keep it away, but it also withstood any Air magic attacks. Unfortunately for Naruto, his attack style was more up close and personal and did not sport many ranged spells at the moment.
That had not even been the start of it. Wright clearly had the upper hand in a ranged battle, employing abilities the blond had never seen before to control the battlefield. The insane caster took control of several magic infused chemicals, including a number of acids and directed them at the young Dragon Slayer. At first it had been rather easy, all Naruto had to do was simply dodge the substances and look for an opportunity for a counter attack. He had thrown a couple of Lances, some Air Explosions and even tried getting a Spiralling Orb in. His attempt resulted in the destruction of the floor and the battle moving onto the base level of the mansion. Yet, that change of scenery had been the only change in their duel, until two chemical substances happened to meet not so accidently and produced an explosion that caught the blond off guard and nearly embedded him in a wall.
With the dust settling in, Naruto took a moment to look into the new room he had crashed into. It was at least three times larger than the room with the lacryma crystal and even the study. Like them though it still had a large number of shelves and tables, the only difference being the presence of multiple chemistry tubes, vials and other glassware that were all intertwined into complex systems filled with bubbling liquids and that peculiar kind of misty steam that usually meant you were in deep trouble. All that was completed with enough bright colours to send an epileptic into a seizing frenzy or a cocktail lover into liver orgasm.
"Ah, I see you've discovered my wonderful lab" Naruto heard a voice from behind which made him jump a couple of meters away before turning to see Wright entering from the hole.
"Marvellous, is it not? And just in time too, I was beginning to run out of bottles with alchemical reactions" the insane sorcerer continued walking in while the blond cursed at letting himself be led here like that. The last thing he needed now was a room filled with alchemical elements and potions which his opponent could clearly employ.. Wait, alchemical? Realization dawned upon Naruto – Wright had been using Alchemy, a field of magical science focused on the study of magical elements and their usage. That did not help him at all though, considering he did not know anything else about it.
"Here, let me show you my latest invention" the newly discovered Alchemist interrupted the blond's thoughts by extended his arm. A jar flew into it before he released the lid "Lightning in a jar!"
He had not been kidding. A lightning really did shoot out from the jar and Naruto had been barely able to turn into wind. He heard an unsettling sound of shattering glass behind him and only managed to turn around and see the lightning had hit a couple of vials filled with sparkling magenta liquid before he was blown away from the resulting explosion.
The blond reformed a couple of meters away right next to one of the walls. Most likely Wright had expected him to dodge the lightning and Naruto realized the situation had gone downhill. His opponent had been doing a splendid task at controlling the space of the battle before with only the vials he had been carrying. But now, they were in a place with a much larger amount of alchemical substances or rather, potential traps and attacks. The young Dragon Slayer had to get out of this room and even the mansion immediately, since Wright had the home-field advantage in these closed quarters. Outside in the open space of the yard and the fresh air would be a different story. Forming an Orb in his hand, he intended to bring the wall down until he was forced to dodge two suspiciously blue waves of unknown liquid.
"Leaving so soon? Such a shame, you only just arrived. I haven't even got the chance to treat you properly. I must insist you stay" Wright's words seemed to have triggered the wall itself to come to life as the hole behind him began repairing itself and even the only door in the room started to disappear in the stone. In the meantime, several vials began bursting with their contents flying around the summoner, no doubt ready to move at his command.
The same unfamiliar feeling from earlier began settling upon Naruto again. Damn it, now was not the time for something like that. Fine, if Wright would challenge him like that, then he would not run away. He quickly checked and saw he had five kunai left. That should be enough for what the blond had in mind. It was time to show his adversary he was not the only one that could control the battlefield.
Jumping to the right, the Dragon Slayer avoided another acidic liquid that began eating away the floor he had just been standing on. That had been another trap though since two more waves converged on his new location from different angles. This time Naruto didn't make any attempt of dodging and instead pointed his arms at them.
"Sky Dragon's Wings!" The cyclones that shot from his palms blew the chemicals away, but did not stop only at that. The blond began moving his arms making his spell constantly change directions while still producing the wind, clearing the space around him by flipping two tables away. Not surprisingly , the glassware shattered in the air and the contents moved close to Wright before they were spilled on the ground. By the time he was done, the whole room was filled with snake-like rapid moving air funnels. Keeping them constantly up would drain his energy faster, yet it did not matter since he was betting it all on this.
"What is this? You think this will be enough to stop me, boy?" Wright directed a couple of his alchemicals at the blond. He had taken the opportunity to position them in a surrounding pattern to make sure the Dragon Slayer would not have a way to escape. And if he turned into air again, there would be an explosive surprise for him. However, to the insane sorcerer's surprise not even one of his molding spells managed to reach Naruto. In fact, they hardly even came close, instead getting caught up in the network of cyclones around the room.
The young mage could not even keep his smile when he grabbed a three-pronged kunai. His play was not a defensive one and it was time to show his opponent. After taking aim, he flicked his weapon at his intended target.
Wright regarded the kunai before directing one of his more potent acids on an interception course. Was that it? If direct Air spells could not work, Marvell would resolve to simple projectile attacks? Cornelius felt a bit disappointed at this. His disappointment was quickly replaced with shocked surprise when the kunai got caught up into one of the cyclones and completely changed its course. And before he could even muster some sort of defence, Cornelius felt a painful stab in his leg.
"You" he shouted grabbing the handle "You brat! I will murder you!" With a painful scream he took out the weapon and dropped it on the ground. Luckily for him he had not been hit in any major artery. Looking up at the blond, he saw him holding four more kunai, two in each hand.
"Power of the stout arms that tears the heaven.. Amzu!" Naruto chanted forming four small cyclones around his last weapons that would increase their penetrating power greatly. Opening his silted eyes he looked directly at Wright before speaking "My best friend asked me so I'll give you a chance. Surrender now, before I turn you into a pincushion."
"So sure you have won? Aren't you being a little too arrogant, boy?"
For a response, Naruto simply threw the kunai in the air where they were immediately picked up by the rapid air currents. After flying around the room for a few seconds, they all converged onto Wright. The blue-clad mage though slapped his hands together. In an instant, some of the alchemicals floating behind him merged before surrounding him in a protective manner, creating a wall of highly corrosive acid. Reinforced with a large amount of his magical power, of course not even a speck was left from the kunai before they reached him. Wright took pleasure in his opponent's shocked expression before making the liquids alchemically moulded into snakes, slithering towards the blond, attack.
Surprised, Naruto could only turn into air and attempt to escape. Unfortunately for him that triggered a reaction resulting into a fiery explosion. After the debris settled down, the Dragon Slayer was lying face-first on the ground without the slightest of movement to signify he was even still alive. All of the air currents in the room seized, showing the spell had been most likely forcefully ended.
"Such is the folly of the arrogant. Too confident in your win you failed to notice my hidden spells. And now, just to make sure.." Wright directed the cloud of foul smell towards the blond. He was half hoping the Dragon Slayer was still alive, just so he could take pleasure into suffocating the life out of him. Before his pet could do that, the body of his opponent simply vanished in an orange blur.
Naruto grabbed the kunai in front of Wright's feet and instantly made an upper slash. He had only two to three seconds before the cloud came back to protect its master. Plenty of time. He finished his attack before disappearing yet again.
Cornelius on the other hand was left dealing with a number of feelings. First, was the surprise at the fact his opponent could teleport. Then there was the realization everything was a set-up for this moment – the cyclones, the exaggerated 'warning' attack, the reinforced 'final' attack of the four kunai, even the playing dead part and the halt of the air currents in the room. That was followed by the feeling of being lighter. A whole arm kind of lighter. All that was toppled by the immense amount of pain that made Wright fall to his knees and begin screaming.
"It's over" he heard Naruto's voice. "Maybe you should have taken your own advice to heart. Not that I'm complaining, you fell for it perfectly." The blond decided to keep the fact he had to endure a considerable amount of pain from that explosion himself. He sensed the impending headache from the concentration he had invested in returning to solid form and immediately casting Armour in the span of a second. He frowned, trying to shoo the pain away with little to no success, as he continued "You should surrender now before you bleed to death."
"My arm! You sneaky little bastard, you cut off my arm!"
"Or don't. I can just wait for you to pass out from blood loss and then take you in. Either way is fine with me."
Wright looked directly into his opponent's eyes and caught the determined look in them. Something else caught his attention though. For the first time since the battle had began, he had the feeling he had seen that boy before. He could not know if it was the excruciating pain, reminiscent of the one he had experienced twelve years ago, yet those whisker marks, those blue eyes and the sun-blond hair.. All that reminded him even further of that wretched night.
"You.. You are the boy. The one that had that Demon sealed in him, the one we summoned.." Naruto's sudden scowl was all the confirmation Wright needed "So you survived. And you have finally come for your revenge."
"Vengeance? For what? Bringing me here, freeing the Fox, almost killing me? Even if I had died it would had still been a better fate than the one I was living."
Naruto lifted an eyebrow "You've summoned Demons all around Fiore, sacrificed countless people and planed on sacking an entire village? I came here to stop you because I was hired, nothing more, nothing less" That was not the exact truth, yet the blond would prefer not to reveal it. Besides, judging by the amount of blood Wright was losing the summoner would pass out soon. After he was caught, then would the young Dragon Slayer question him about Kyuubi.
At the same time, Cornelius felt rage filling him, dulling out the pain and the numbness from his lost arm. Naruto's reason for stopping him was so infuriating, so.. insulting. In Wright's twisted world, vengeance would be a much better drive than justice. Justice made it sound like he was just some common criminal, like it was not personal.. like it was just business. He swore he would get the blond for that, even if it cost him his own life. Rising to his feet, Cornelius' eyes were lit aflame with ire and complete loss of sanity.
"You.. came here" his voice was trembling with barely contained anger, yet the fact he was speaking calmly rather than shouting put Naruto on his toes. "Ruined my plans. Destroyed my lab. Wounded me severely. Humiliated me. And you have the audacity to tell me it was for something simple like a job, despite the fact I ripped you apart and almost killed you twelve years ago?" Wright took a deep breath and spoke again, his voice sounding calm and serene, as if any traces of boiling rage never existed "I see what my mistake had been. It was 'almost'. I will correct that mistake at once."
All the remaining vials in the room burst at once and the chemicals they held merged with the remains of what was floating behind Wright's back. Cornelius hated the fact he needed to resolve to this, yet there was no choice. Despite his incredible stupidity and nosiness, the Sky Dragon Slayer proved to be a formidable opponent. He grabbed a hold of a small vial in one of his many pockets, before looking at the adversary that had bested him one final time "This is not over!"
It took Naruto only a moment to realize what was about to happen. He should have incapacitated Wright sooner, rather than wait for him to pass out! He had been hoping the insane sorcerer would reveal something on his own volition and spare him the work of having to get it out of him later. Fortunately, a moment was all he needed. The blond teleported back to the yard and did not even have the time to consider why exactly was it so bright outside when the mansion blew up, the resulting shock and heat wave throwing him on the ground where he shielded himself from the falling debris.
Rolling to his sides, Naruto stood up slightly and regarded the mansion. Or what was left of it. Great, now he had to search for Wright and that was in case the sorcerer survived. He stood up and was about to jump in when he was suddenly ran over by a full blown headache with a force of a train. At that moment, a number of body parts decided they did not want to be left behind and informed the blond of their various states, in a most painful manner. Naruto realized there might even be a small fire brewing on his back as well which meant he needed to find water fast. In conclusion, something or rather his body, told him it might not be such a good idea to go look for Wright at the present time and considering the way the battle had gone, his mind seemed inclined to agree. For now his plan was to get back to town or at least what was left of it, find a quite place and peacefully die for the next two or three days. At least until he sensed Shika calling.
Drowning definitely was not Shikamaru's idea of a peaceful death. In fact, it went under the category of slow and painful in the Exceed's book. With the final vestiges of his breath leaving him he looked at the approaching abyss of the lake's bottom. Near him Jiraiya was not faring well either and he had only caught glimpse of the sinking redhead when they first got in the lake. In retrospect, perhaps he should have factored in Erza's heavy armour when he had come up with this particular plan. Then again, he had expected she would have enough power to switch to something else, a bit lighter preferably.
All those thoughts disappeared the moment he felt the pain from being yanked by the tail. He would have expressed some sort of protest towards the offender in the form of violent scratching and obscene screams, yet the lack of air and the presence of surrounding water made that a tad too impossible. At least until he rediscovered his ability to breath again which he employed immediately with new-found vigour.
"Well, that certainly got rid of the fire. I knew I can always count on you for such things, Shika." Naruto's voice brought comfort in the Exceed's body. Or maybe it was the air. Probably the air, Shikamaru loved air. "Mind telling me why you and Jiraiya decided it was a good idea to go for a late-night stroll in a freezing lake and subsequently forget how to swim?"
The white Exceed present in Naruto's other hand was content to just coughing for now so it fell to Shika to explain the situation "Erza is still at the bottom!"
"Brilliant" the blond groaned before he pointed the cats at the shore and send them flying with a lesser version of Sky Dragon's Wings. Ignoring the protests from his companions, he dove once more into the lake, fishing a lacryma crystal from his pocket and making it glow immediately. He found the redhead shortly afterwards at the bottom, clad in an armour he had not seen so far. Unfortunately, there was not much time to enjoy the sights considering the situation. Precisely why all of Naruto's thoughts on the new outfit revolved around how heavy it was.
With the added obstruction of the water, he was only able to lift it a little before he realized it was a wasted effort. What could he do then? Perhaps using his Sky Dragon's Breath to propel them to the surface and hope it would work? Or maybe.. The blond almost hit himself when he realized he was overlooking the simplest of things. Gripping Erza tightly he opted for teleporting out of the lake and nearly landing over Shikamaru and Jiraiya who were groaning at the shore.
He laid Erza to the ground and immediately found out she was not breathing. She still had pulse though which was really fortunate considering he would not have been able to perform CPR over this particular armour. Now he just needed to fix the other problem or face the irony of someone dying from lack of air in the presence of a Sky Dragon Slayer. Tilting her head back, the blond blew a couple of times in Erza's mouth until he felt her coughing up the water and taking a deep breath.
"Hey, welcome back!" the blond spoke as he leaned backwards. "Word of advice, next time you go for a swim maybe pick a different attire. I find bathing suits to be a good choice this season and much lighter than a full suit of armour."
"Funny" Erza's remark was the only remotely dry thing coming from her body. She made an attempt to lift herself up before her body decided to voice its protest. Being propelled into a lake from several meters in the air usually resulted in a number of painful bruises and fractures. Some might argue a suit of armour could lessen the impact, which sadly for them pointed out their idiocy. Because of that the redhead decided listening to her battered physiology might not be a bad idea every once in a while and that her efforts should be better spent at something else. Resting on the ground seemed like a good choice. She turned her head towards the blond who was now lying beside her "Thank you."
Naruto simply waved his hand dismissively before he spoke "So I take it you took care of the Behemoth?"
"Do you even need to ask? Of course, it was no problem at all" Jiraiya responded.
"Well, considering you were with them.." Naruto left the sentence unfinished, prompting a dejected "Hey!" from the white Exceed.
Erza stifled a chuckle and explained "Part of the town was destroyed and I think a large chunk of the forest might be replaced with a crater."
"Just means Nebula will have a new tourist attraction" Shika crawled on top of Naruto hoping to steal some of the blond's body heat. Jiraiya had a similar idea with Erza but a look from the redhead told him he should not push his luck too much. "What about the Demons and the summoner?"
"I took care of all the Demons, but.. Wright managed to escape."
"Wright?" Erza lifted a brow.
"Cornelius Wright. He's a very powerful Dark mage and apparently summoner" Naruto explained. "Sorry everyone, because I let him get away we failed the assignment."
Brief silence fell before the redhead spoke again "Not really. Our job was to get rid of the Demons, something we have managed to accomplish. The poster never said anything about a summoner." She gave Naruto a small smile "We'll get him next time."
Her response came in the form of the blond's light snoring. He was not the only one since the cats had joined him in a small chorus. The redhead felt her annoyance rising until it reached a critical level and to her surprise she burst into laughter. Her body immediately screamed in protest, yet the young woman did not care in the slightest. She was not sure what was it exactly that she found so funny. Maybe it was the fact the blond could not remain quiet even in his sleep. Or the fact he felt guilty and apologized for failing while at the same time he did not seem to lose much sleep over it. What kind of battle must have been fought to make the normally energetic Naruto tired enough to shut down in the middle of a conversation, with her of all people? And in the end, he had still managed to come to their aid and save them from the depths of the lake.
Light wrapped around Erza changing her armour into a set of dry warm clothes. She even brought out a large enough blanket to cover herself and the Caits. The redhead chuckled lightly, once more ignoring the pain from her battered ribs, before she let the exhaustion settle over her entire body and finally joined the trio in Dreamland. It was unlike her, but she would forgive Naruto's lack of manners just this one time.
Discovered by the famous explorer Alexander "I saw it" Simmons who claims to have lost his leg to them while taking a dip in Earth Land's famous Purple Acid Sea. Scientists have never been able to pinpoint any of their habits, migration patterns or even general appearance, but they unanimously agree their diet consists of brave explorers and unfortunate scientists. Should you ever find yourself in a predicament where you might get attacked by one of these creatures, remain completely calm. You will most likely experience a long and painful death, often involving large amounts of screaming.
The term Naruto prefers in order to describe his messiness. His closest people utilize other terms like 'very', 'extremely', 'immensely' and 'too freaking much!'
An industry that has thrived in the past couple of years with the unexplained appearances of many craters around Fiore and the nearby kingdoms. Many rumours suggest they are actually the product of clashes between hot-headed mages from some unnamed guilds. The Magic Council has neither confirmed nor denied such claims.
Blumenblatt – flower petal (ger.)
Author's ramblings: Finally! I have to admit, this chapter was really hard to write. It feels like a huge mountain has been lifted off my shoulders. Of course, chapter 10 is in the making and I am focusing on it, but I doubt it will give me as much trouble. I will skip over the personal reasons, since they were more in the background and not that interesting.
Funny fact, this chapter was done two weeks ago, the way it is now at least. But there were some scenes I had planned to add in chapter 9 and I tried writing them. It was really hard, mainly because the way it is finished is really good. When I wrote it, I felt "Ok, end of chapter here" before I even realized what I was thinking. So after two more weeks and after adding all the things I wanted to add originally, I realized they would make for a very good beginning of chapter 10 and I should have just listened to my gut and left chapter 9 the way I felt. The good news at least is, as I've said, chapter 10 has a beginning. I do need to make some adjustments to my plans for it though..
Anyway, enough with my senseless gibberish, this is so confusing I'm not sure that even I would be able to understand it 0.o Quick Q&A time! Without the questions.. That's right, I'll just put some major points here that generally answer most of the questions. It's been three months after all (sorry), so I think it's better if I make a serious one for the next chapter. If I fail to answer something now, just let me know and I'll do it next time. Unless it's about pairings.
Speaking of that, I think there might have been some confusion, so I'll say some things again. First, Naruto's romantic interest won't be an Original Character. At the time I said that, I had been still a bit undecided on the pairing so I left it as a 'everything is possible in the universe, I might get hit by a train tomorrow and change my mind' kind of possibility. So yeah, no Original Character, I promise that. Second, this will NOT be a harem. Come on, it's a serious story, harems don't have any places in those. Of course, there are exceptions, but I won't get into them, because this will NOT (second time for those that missed the first) be a harem story. And finally, I won't reveal who his romantic interest will be. Trust me, the story will be much more enjoyable if you don't know. Oh, I meant enjoyable for me, you'll probably suffer.
Moving on, I have to say I am a bit surprised at the amount of people who realized just last chapter that Wright was one of Kyuubi's summoners. I mean, I did write his name and all in the first and second chapters. I guess it was either because a long time passed or because people simply thought those were some insignificant characters I 'killed' back then. If it's the former, that's understandable, if it's the latter, mission accomplished ^^
Naruto joining Fairy Tail and why is the story named "Fairy Tail's Orange Flash"? That's a good point actually, the title was what came to me when I first started thinking of the story. Later on I decided I will separate it into parts and I even began exploring the possibility of Naruto NOT joining Fairy Tail. It's a work in progress and I am writing by feel after all. If it was an already completed book, who knows, it might have been called something else entirely. I am thinking of renaming part one into "Cait Shelter's Orange Flash" and leaving "Fairy Tail's etc." for part two, but we will see. Also, don't take anything for granted, I am a very unpredictable person. For all you know, I might have meant Fairy Tail's world when writing "Fairy Tail's Orange Flash", not the guild.
Erza joining Cait Shelter is an interesting idea. I toyed with it, but sadly I don't think it will fit the way I've planned things.
Props to Lednacek for figuring out Lilith would have given Naruto her Air Magic.
To answer Jeremy Sentra, until I read your review, I never even knew Mirajane's take-over Demon was called Lilith. So the answer would be no. Also, thanks for the example of serious humour. It's high-level stuff, but I think I might have some ideas.
The one year time skip at the end of prologue.. Well, I can't say I am a hundred percent happy about adding it like that, but unfortunately the alternative of starting chapter 5 with it and following it with another seven years of time skip would be worse. The idea of chapter five was a completely new beginning.
The Elemental nations will not make an appearance for a while, if any. I do have an idea and general plot-line, but.. Yeah, right now I'd say the Elemental Nations won't make an appearance, so consider them all dead or something. As for the personalities that appear and will continue to appear as Exceed, as I've said many times they are just added for the comedic effect. After all, the cats are one of the symbols of a Dragon Slayer and instead of making yet more Original Characters I thought it'd be funnie.. Um, I mean better to use existing personalities. Also, I think I've said this before, so I won't repeat it anymore. =3
Naruto won't be able to use any chakra and by extension jutsu. He also won't be able to recover it, because his chakra network has been permanently destroyed. He will use purely magic, so no Body Flicker or Sage Arts.
Naruto is a naturally open and trusting person. He can form a connection with people he likes immediately and even manages to form one with people he does not like, eventually. He also happens to be an excellent judge of character, whether it is his perception or intuition. So while it might not fall under most people's category of "common sense", for him it is a normal thing.
I don't remember what happened in chapter 573, but I just don't like Hinata as a character. Probably something to do with the fact there's a big possibility Naruto will end up with her in canon.
Nope, in chapter 4 Naruto and Inchiostro did not use Dragon Force. You'll know when they do, trust me. I can't wait to reach that point.
Yeah, I know my Author's Ramblings are long. I tend to ramble a lot.. Sorry about that, honestly, I knew I hadn't passed 100 000 words with only the story, but FF has a weird way of counting words and I was too lazy to individually count that myself. So thanks for doing that. If what you say is correct, then I think I might not have passed that mark with this chapter as well. Oh well, next time. Seems fitting for chapter 10, don't you think?
Well, we have Shika covering the lazy part and Jiraiya the perverted, so Kakashi wouldn't really fit. I guess what I'm saying is, yeah, I've really considered a Kakashi and he Might appear.
Yes, I am a fan of NCIS and Tony is my favourite character from there. Sadly, I won't include any more universes into this story. (Also, I was laughing for around thirty minutes after I read that review. Props to j0hnni for that)
That's pretty much it. If I missed something it was either accidental or I did not want to spoil anything. Thank you all for reading chapter 9 of Fairy Tail's Orange Flash as well as the constant support and wonderful reviews. Look forward to chapter 10 !~