Naruto: Advent of the Spiraling Ninja of Uzushio 10
Yeah, sorry for the few months delay, but I got a new novella done and you can find a few of my works free in my profile thanks to that.
Anyway, there's about one more chapter of the Fall of the Mizukage arc.
"Why is a child like you here?" Isaribi asked. "You can't be more than six years old."
"I'm related to Mei-nee," she fingered her hair. "Nee-san was found out as the leader of the resistance with two bloodlines, and they killed off everyone to make sure the bloodline didn't spread. My family was an offshoot of the Terumi's, and I only survived because they planned to use me to make her give up…"
"Mei…?" Isaribi wondered out loud.
"Mei Terumi," Haku told her. "The leader of the rebellion against the Mizukage. You were caught in the struggle and weren't originally a part of our faction, so you probably wouldn't have known. It's a common tactic: kill off all important or oldest clan members, leaving one behind to increase the value of the sole surviving member or ending a bloodline."
Isaribi frowned. She had done enough things in her past to warrant a jail cell, but being tossed in one for simply living seemed excessive. Not to mention throwing a child in jail for simply being affiliated with someone and killing off her family. "How sad."
Looking at the stone cuff on her right wrist, decorated with seals, she felt it hindering her chakra. It was still there, just blocked off with no way to vent it. "Why is there even a rebellion in the first place?"
"People with bloodlines are seen as monsters for various reasons," Haku told her. "While it started became of the Kaguya Clan attacking Kiri, it's escalated to a full-on purge. Even my father, who was always so loving to my mother and I, tried to kill me after he found out we were part of the Yuki Clan after he killed my mother."
Isaribi could only relate to her own pain of being ostracized and tormented. But these people, who were different because of the blood flowing through their veins…to be systematically killed off…that was wrong. They hadn't even killed innocent people like she had. "What happens now?"
"Most likely the bad men will come and take us away…" Villa put on a brave front. "But, I won't cry. Mei-nee is going to come save me and the others, and make our home a better place."
Even after everything, she still held hope…and it was killing Isaribi to look at her. Hope would only make the inevitable seem even worse than it was, heart breaking since you believed in an absolute only to have it thrown back in your face. She wanted to crush that hope so they could accept reality.
But when she moved her lips, the memory of kind words returned.
"You're not a monster." Those words gave her people who didn't fear her and offered her a home.
She clung to the false hopes of being returned to normal and killed innocents for it. It wasn't wrong to hope, but the path she had taken to it was. She wasn't reward for the path she had taken by having this body, but for clinging to hope even as it dragged her through a blood-covered ocean.
"I'm sure she will," were the words that came out instead.
Villa's face beamed a little brighter at that and Haku mouthed a silent "Thank you" outside of the small child's vision.
Some Time Later
CREAK! The grating of the metal doors opening awoke the three cellmates from their slumber later that evening, letting in a chorus of begging and cries as four guards came in wearing masks. They grabbed Villa without a word and pulled her into their cold grasp.
"Let her go!" Haku ran up to them with lethal intent. However, a swift roundhouse to the face sent him across the room into the wall and he was out cold, falling into Isaribi's arms as she looked on helplessly.
Gathering her courage, she shouted. "Where are you taking her!?"
"This bloodline spawn has outlived her usefulness," one of the guards said coldly. "The rebellion has but few members left and even that monster of a woman cannot win by herself. Hostages are of no use to us."
Villa took one look back with tears in her eyes…and then she was gone. The door slammed shut and the screams from beyond them slowly faded out as the prisoners were herded away.
Haku slowly stirred. The knot on his head from the impact was discolored and swollen. With half-opened eyes, he took one look around and cursed himself for being helpless to prevent the circumstances. "…Damn it. She was just a child who committed no sin but to simply live."
Haku let out a staggered breath. Then, in a calm fury, he slammed the sealing cuff against the wall in hopes of breaking it. The sound of stone clashing with stone rang in the dinky little room, and repeated as he continued to do so until his wrist was bleeding beneath the stone. All his efforts amounted to was harming the flesh encased by the stone.
It seemed like hours passed before the doors opened again and the pair was escorted out and lined up with twenty other men who looked crestfallen. Chained to their legs were heavy blocks that would sink them to the bottom of a deep sinkhole filled with sea water.
Hope was nowhere to be found, only despair. Still, Haku refused to cower.
"Where's Villa?" Haku asked in a dangerously calm manner. The defiance in his eyes was a flame that the prison and impending death had yet to put out. And it pissed off the guards.
"It seems like he still hasn't learned about mouthing off about his betters," the largest of the guards cracked his knuckles. "I'm taking my time on this one. Send the girl he was with to join the brat first, then the rest can follow once I'm done."
They kicked Isaribi's stone block over the edge. The chain dragged her down with it. All that escaped before she went under in less than a second was a small scream as she was below the surface and out of the sight, another casualty of the nature of Kirigakure.
"Isaribi-san—" Haku's yell was cut off by a punch to the stomach as the beating began, followed by a flash of white as a fist impacted his face, marring his unusually beautiful skin for a male.
Within the depths of the sinkhole filled with algae and corpses that swung like kelp, Isaribi, once known as a sea monster, felt the cruelly ironic fear of death by drowning. Knowing that the moment she sought a breath of fresh air, gallons of water would pour in and fill her lungs, automatically blacking her out. As a native of an island that thrived by fishing and her role as a Kaima, she could hold her breath for a very long time without drowning, but the struggle to resist death for even a minute longer seemed pointless and prolonged her fear.
And indeed, if she had simply taken that breath a few seconds earlier, she would have never had to see the cruel sight before her. A guiding light that represented the future had been lost, never to be found again. A child who committed no sin shy of being born was dead.
Villa floated there, eyes wide in horror and glazed over. In the underwater garden of human kelp, that one thing alone made everything…shatter. Haku's hopes of reuniting Villa with her precious person were dashed in an instant, Isaribi knew as her body's reflexive need to breathe kicked in and water filled her lungs, taking her into a black world.
Suddenly, piercing green light shattered the darkness. Her eyes that saw only the void of black returned with even more clarity that before in the murky water, and she found herself in her Kaima Form. Right, Kushina-san said the seal would activate if I was drowning, regardless of my will. A simple cuff with a few seals on it wouldn't hinder a seal made by her.
In all other circumstances, she would loathe this form. But, looking at the empty eyes of the child whose hair dangled like seaweed in the murky water, a cold rage took hold inside her. Rather than denying what she had become, she would embrace it instead. Even within the depths, her ears heard the sound of Haku's painful groans, giving her an outlet on her rage: Revenge.
She swam upwards with her webbed feet and hands, settling just beneath the surface as the guard raised his fist to break the ice-user's bloodied and battered face in for a final time. "I'm going to mess that pretty face of yours up for good, you filthy—"
Splat. He fell dead mid-sentence. The back of his head was gone, scattered over the floor and walls. It was a mess of pinkish-gray brain matter giving the surfaces an ugly, messy coating with sprinkles of the chalk-white skull fragment.
Before anyone could process what happened, green scales flew like bullets, riddling the guards with countless holes as the wall behind them was painted a shade of purple and red, several scale fragments embedded into the rock as well. There was no mercy in the attacks, and therefore no survivors. Death was all that was given, no quarter to be spared.
Haku wheezed on the ground, pulling himself up as the rest of the prisoners were in a stunned silence for roughly a minute, when Isaribi's head surfaced. A couple of them screamed, but their fear was displaced as the Kaima Form-clad kunoichi emerged from the water with the child's corpse in her arms, cradling it like a precious treasure that was now lost.
"Villa…" Haku said softly, brushing his hand over her eyes to close them before facing Isaribi and holding the chakra cuff out. "Break it, even if you have to take the hand off."
Without a word, she gripped the cuff and shattered it with her enhanced strength. The merging of physical and spiritual energies gave birth to chakra. No longer bound, Haku embraced the frosty combination flowing through his body as if it were an ally and comrade. He breathed deeply and glanced at the entrance that opened with more guards entering with bound prisoners to be planted in the undersea garden.
"A monster!" one of the guards said upon looking at the mess and the scaled humanoid. The group then unloaded kunai and senbon at her. The metal bounced off her hard scales effortlessly and, before they tried to utilize chakra flow, the chill of an arctic presence made itself known and devoured their bodies while demonic ice mirrors sprang up all around them.
"A monster, huh…?" Isaribi turned and faced them. Her eyes were now sharkish, and her tone was just as cold as the images of a merciless Haku that appeared in the mirrors. The fins on the side of her arms extended and became razor sharp. "Fine…like a monster, I'll drag you down to depths and dye the water with your blood."
The air was filled with screams and cries for a brief moment, replaced by blood and sinew that took to the air and then plopped harmlessly into the water of the sinkhole, diluted until nothing remained visible.
Stepping out of the mirror, Haku looked at the remains of his and the Sea Maiden's carnage with eyes that had been broken. He had failed to protect the child he swore to protect. For him there was no greater sin or pain.
"Can one of you free me next?" one of the other captives requested, ending the silence in the wake of the slaughter. He took one look at the deceased child and decided enough was enough. "I doubt I'd be able to escape this Hellhole to be honest, but taking as many bastards down with me will suffice."
He was followed by a chorus of others asking for their freedom. The two bloodstained killers had become what was left behind in the wake of despair. They became hope for all those who still drew breath in the Depths.
And so began the prison break.
Naruto stood at the entrance to a cavern mouth that led to a dark unknown. His nose had led him here, to where Isaribi rested…and he smelled blood. A lot of it.
It threatened to overrule his senses and he truly regretted that the alterations to his seal gave him enhanced smell. Fine tuning his ears with the bubble-wielding jinchuuriki trailing behind him, he charged in while listening to the cries of warriors from all walks of life engaging in combat, hoping to find his missing sister figure.
The sounds of chaos echoed off the cavern walls that were gouged out to make cells for the unfortunate and guilty alike that loomed in the prison that few knew about. The scent of blood lingered in the air as battle waged between the freed, but weary, prisoners and the guards assigned to execute them.
"Water Slicer!" High pressure water tore along the path in front of a guard, shearing through the stone as those caught within its way were thrown asunder and laid to rest by the shrapnel that were carried along the path. Those unfortunate enough to still draw breath after the cruel assault were bleeding and staining the rock face crimson as their fellow inmates treaded over their fallen figures with vigor.
"Water Style: Gorgon!" Water from a larger pool gathered into a ball and sent serpentine streams that took the shape of sea serpents large enough to swallow the guards and drag them to the depths, gulping one after another until the assault ended with a well-placed explosive kunai.
"This is a bloodbath…" Utakata said, watching the fighting as he went alongside the younger jinchuuriki. He then spotted some of the prisoners taking out their rage on a guard by bashing his skull in with a stone and tossing him into the pool below.
Naruto stopped dead in his tracks and then leapt back at the scent of frost and chill, avoiding as a flower of ice spikes blossomed just under his feet and carried the corpses of impaled guards whose names Naruto did not know. The attack wasn't aimed at him but at the rate the battle was going he was going to get caught in the crossfire.
Looking down at the origin of the ice blossom he witnessed Isaribi, her green scales covered in crimson patches of running liquid as she slashed through her enemies with an unseen rage. Her assault was assisted by Haku, who spoke no words as he brought the judgment of frosty ice upon his foes. Mercy was not found, even as their exploits began to take their toll.
Both were weary at the constant combat and, in a moment of weakness, Isaribi slipped up and fell to a knee. An opportunistic guard took a chance and lunged…only to be speared to the floor by a lance of chakra as Naruto descended like a messenger of death. Turning to the contingency of those he declared his enemies, he unleashed his Nine-Tailed Fan.
"Wind Scythe!" Chakra-laced wind shredded the opposition, cleaving through their flesh as the harsh gale sprayed blood. Standing with his blade form activated, Naruto noticed the cracking had gotten worse after using that last jutsu. His weapon would not last.
Seeing the odds have turned against them, the smarter or cowardly guards fled through the main tunnel leading to the exit and the prisoners followed, their bloodthirsty battle cries echoing—
"Lightning Style: Lightning Surge!"
—until tongues of electricity lashed out, the bluish flare illuminating the shadows and replacing battle cries with screams of anguish and crackling of bolts until the scent of cooked meat wafted into Naruto's enhanced nose and he cringed at the thought.
The group—minus Utakata, who dragged behind—ran into the tunnel, prepared for the worst, and encountered just that. Bodies were thoroughly blackened, smoke rising off of them as some of their limbs were twisted along with the rock by the sheer power behind the jutsu.
"None of you will escape," an older man stated before a wall of earth rose up behind both parties sealed the exits. "This prison was entrusted to us by the Mizukage himself! Allowing you to escape is simply not an option. I, Kozell the Elite, shall not allow it."
"Kozell," Haku whispered. "He's one of the veterans of the previous Mizukage's reign and a somewhat famous as a reasonable leader from what Zabuza-sama has informed me about. We had considered you a potential spy but decided against it…I never would have imagined a man such of yourself would be in such a place. I assume you are the warden?"
He nodded. "Indeed, I am."
"There was nothing reasonable about Villa's death…" Haku's voice became as frosty as his demeanor. "She was merely a child who committed no crime and was thrown in here to be murdered."
"I won't pretend to deny many of you were imprisoned, abused, and harmed for simply living. Nor will I hide the fact that I failed to keep my men's actions in check," he said. "The child's death, along with your deaths will benefit this country by making us united and ending this civil war. Kiri will become stronger for it.
"And once that happens, I intend to stand on trial with my men for our actions."
Haku shook his head. "That will not account for the deaths of the undeserving."
"It will not. But it's the sole solace I can offer you"—his hands ran through hand seals—"before claiming your lives as well. Lightning Style: Lightning Surge!"
Tendrils of lightning flared towards them as Naruto took the vanguard and threw up a gale of wind chakra with his fan to insulate the lightning. Once it died out he sent a spear-tipped chakra chain toward his enemy. The chain that speared towards the veteran's head was dodged by simply tilting it to the left and allowing it to slam into the wall and then retract, pulling Naruto in with his blade chambered.
Kozell leaned back until his body was like a bridge to avoid the slash and, just as quick, threw his body up and spun delivering a kick to the jinchuuriki's stomach while at the drawing a kunai and taking a swipe at his jugular, which was intercepted by Naruto's arm. The resulting gash left blood on Kozell's face as he stood and tossed an explosive tag towards the end of the chain path and turned to face his next opponent, never looking as the resulting explosive consumed a scream and a body hit the floor behind him.
"Water Style: Large Projectile!" Isaribi spat out waterspouts in an attempt to nail the man to little avail, only serving to fill the tunnel they were in with random puddles of water…which allowed Haku to use his next technique, using one handed seals.
"A Thousand Flying Water Needles of Death!" Liquid senbon sprung up from the puddles like blades of grass and then went flying towards the man, who sunk into the ground as if the stone beneath him had become a liquid and rippled before resealing itself. It was the Earth Style: Hiding in a Rock technique. Soon hands popped out from beneath the rocky surface and attempted to drag Haku into Hell, but failed to do so as the youth jumped back, and Kozell emerged from below with a kunai in hand.
Using one of his pilfered senbon to block, Haku noticed the complexion of the man had began to fade to earth brown and he realized it was a rock clone. The figure began to swell as Haku leapt back too late and with no time to form an Ice Style: Ice Dome, leaving him in the radius as the rock clone exploded with a 'BANG!' and dirty brown veil.
When the dust cleared, it revealed Isaribi standing in front of Haku, the pitter-patter of a few broken scale chips falling to the ground at the expense of the force at which the shrapnel slammed into her hardened exterior. Before she could do anything else, a wedge of earth slammed in Isaribi and continued, dragging her off her feet and crushing her against the ceiling. The impact broke several more scales and the force passed through her and damaged the organs within.
But more importantly, with no leverage she couldn't free herself. Kozell watched impassively as he floated from beneath the ground with a staff made of stone from using the Earth Style: Rock Section Cane technique.
SWISH! With a flash he turned and swung it upright while sending chakra through the weapon to raise its endurance as he parried the Nine-Tailed Fan's blade and countered with a well placed hit to the crack in the Nine-Tailed Fan…and it crumbled in Naruto's hands. Before he could despair at the loss of his companion throughout these battles, the staff was thrust directly into his forehead, smashing against his forehead and rattling his brain.
Naruto fell to the ground unconscious as Kozell leapt back to avoid the Water Style: Large Projectile that raced past him from the pinned Sea Maiden. He was driven further away by a hail of water senbon that flew forward with the intent to skewer him, which was soon joined by rain of water spouts from Isaribi.
Using the staff to splatter the senbon that eroded his staff, he soon resorted to another tactic and allowed earth chakra to flow through his body and the stone texture surrounding them bled upwards, crafting skin-deep armor that was visible as a sheen reflected from the lights above. Standing there under the Rock Armor technique, he weathered the blows as Naruto regained consciousness.
Okay, enough of this,Naruto thought before he kicked off the ground with his arm chambered as he charged. "Haaah!"
Foolish…Kozell thought, lowering his stance and fixing his eyes on the boy's neck. A solid blow to the throat would crush his trachea. He swung his fist from below at a speed the blond couldn't avoid…but only hit empty space as he vanished from his sight with a flare of crimson chakra.
"RASENGAN!" The spiraling sphere of reddish chakra surpassed the Rock Armor and sent him flying into his own bulwark of stone. Driven to ensure his enemy stayed down this time, Naruto's eyes became red-rimmed slits as he charged forward and thrust a second time as the man raised another series of stone walls to impede his path. The jinchuuriki plowed through them all and charged a second Rasengan into his other hands as he approached the Kozell, whose armor reinforced itself. "TWIN RASENGAN!"
BOOOOOM! *RUMBLE RUMBLE*
The sound of crashing earth filled the cavern as it shook, clouds of stone dust blowing through the formerly sealed space as the path had been cleared with a huge, gaping hole in it. Haggard and weary, coughing up crimson life blood, the warden stood as his armor crumbled to pieces around him. Yet his resolve was still as hard as the stone that made up the Depths. "I won't let you—"
Kozell went silent suddenly…and then finally fell dead, only belatedly noticing the chill from the demonic ice mirror behind him as Haku placed a senbon at the base of his brain stem. It was finally done.
Crafting the Rasengan a final time, Naruto's arms twitched violently before it slammed into the base of the wedge of earth that braced Isaribi and she touched the ground once again once it collapsed.
BLAM! An explosion at the other seal exit was made by a Bubble Bomb. Stepping in through the dust was the other jinchuuriki, who looked bored.
"The rest of the guards have left or died," Utakata said with a shrug. "The prison is ours."
"Wonderful…" Naruto said before curling up on the floor and passing out. A few days without sleep really did a number on him.
With the Mei & Group
Zabuza stood at the entrance of the Depths, his blade having cleaved through the many guards that came out seeking to flee death. He had managed to obtain some information before dispatching a guy about a prison break and death and stuff, but it was worse than he imagined. "We missed the party?"
"Ao," Mei said, tilting her head to Kushina and not elaborating further.
He got the message, using his hidden eye to look further inside. "It appears there's a young man matching the description you've given us of your son in the tunnel a few rooms down, lying on the floor. He's being overseen by another male. Beyond that is where most of the people are…and corpses. "
Kushina nodded and body flickered over until she reached the tunnel and found him passed out, with Utakata holding a wet rag to his head. "What happened?"
"We've been on the run for days with little to no rest and he's been using his demonic chakra a lot." He then went on to explain the hunter-nin, the battle beforehand, and everything that ailed the boy.
Kushina immediately raised his shirt and began altering his seal, her hands ablaze with chakra as the array of lines hidden with the seals that held back the demonic fox were overwritten and reconfigured to aid his recovering and vent the buildup of tainted chakra. Time was irrelevant for her as she worked, until his fever broke at the influx of yang chakra circling his system.
She hugged the boy; kissing him on the cheek and running her hands over his body inspect him for anything that still needed treatment. It was as if the cold woman she had been in the beginning of this nightmare didn't exist. "Just rest for now, okay?"
Utakata looked on impassively as the rest of the group arrived and Zabuza asked who he was. "I am Utakata," he said simply.
"Are you the Six-Tails Jinchuuriki listed on the records?" Ao asked.
Utakata nodded and was about to respond when Isaribi walked in, still transformed and covered in blood. Everyone but Utakata tensed, while Kushina promptly and ran over to hug the girl. "Isaribi-chan, you're okay!"
Isaribi briefly ignored Kushina, focusing on her priorities while in a dissonantly calm state. She turned her gaze to the auburn-haired woman. She had been captured before she had ever heard the woman's name, but the subtle similarities to Villa were there. "Are you Mei Terumi?"
Mei nodded. "I am."
Kushina felt the muscles beneath the scales lose their tension, allowing the Sea Maiden to slight slump in her arms. "Isaribi-chan, did they hurt you? What happened?"
Tears leaked and her voice came out as a croak as her scales shattered into a fine green powder and he she regained her human appearance. "Inside…please. Haku's with Villa and the others."
Mei's heart skipped a beat, but her face didn't show it. She and the others entered the room, Utakata carrying Naruto on his back while Kushina supported Isaribi and silently asked her what happened. The bodies of all those who were under the water had been drawn up and placed side-by-side. Haku was there as well, eyes empty and cold as the Antarctic.
Zabuza frowned as he looked upon the damage that marred his surrogate son. "You'd better have murdered the fuck out of them. So help me Haku, if you went soft and pulled that false state of death crap…"
Haku bowed and spoke calmly. "There are no more guards left. We made sure of it."
Mei slowly walked over to the magnificent frozen pillar in the center of the room. At the base of the crystalline structure was a familiar figure at the center, resting with her arms crossed like she was asleep, barring the tinted flesh. "Villa…?"
Mei did not cry. She did not allow herself to fall to her knees and weep over the loss of her last family, even if a distant relative. Villa was just one of many casualties now. She could not show a moment of weakness—not now. Closing her eyes, she turned to the others. "Save whoever you can. If they can pick up a weapon, they fight after a brief rest. This ends as soon as we find Yagura."
Just like that, Mei walked away and the party split up to meet later. Kushina went after Mei, leaving Isaribi to get some rest with Naruto. Zabuza and Choujurou went to explore for anything useful. Utakata and Ao discussed business…that was going about as well as you'd expect give their clashing personalities.
Kushina entered the room where Mei was and applied a silencing seal. "No one can hear you now. It's alright to let yourself grieve now. Losing family is never easy, I know that from personal experience and—"
"Your children survived," she cut her off with no emotion. "I can't say what we feel are the same things exactly. You don't have the right to—"
"I'm one of the last of the Uzumaki. My entire clan was pushed to extinction, with only a handful of us remaining—if we're lucky. I stumbled around the remains of my village's fallen, some of whom were relatives I remember seeing me off like it was yesterday. My son and I personally had to bury them.
"I know you're trying to put on a calm face for the sake of morale, but if you don't show something then they won't consider you human. If they don't consider you as someone they can equate to, then eventually their faith and trust in you will waver. Once everything is over they'll need someone they can trust to take the Mizukage's hat."
Mei just stood there without a word.
Kushina shook her head. "If you don't let some of what you're feeling out, eventually you will make a mistake that will cost you everything."
"I'm not allowed to show weakness—" her lips trembled and tears trailed down her face. Villa's smiling face wouldn't stop flashing in her mind. She's…really gone. "—I can't…"
Only then did she allow herself to give in and cry. "I can see her smiling face before it happened…she was only six! My family, the loyal members that followed me—they're all dead because of me! I wanted to make this land a better place for people like her!"
And so, Mei grieved in private with the woman who had also lost her clan.
Zabuza gave a small chuckle as he stared at the white-haired, shark-toothed boy in a water tank, his body half-water already. "Well, well, if it isn't Mangetsu's little brother. I was wondering where you had gotten to. Things have just gotten interesting…"
"Get me out of this tank!" The water-boy yelled. "I've been in here for months!"
"Sure, as long as you're willing to throw in with us," Zabuza said. "We're going to need all the bodies we can throw at Yagura."
"…You got anymore of those swords lying around?" he asked after a moment.
"Who knows? Maybe Choujurou here will bite it and you'll get his sword."
The glasses-wearing boy did a double-take. "Huh!?"
"Or we could find one of the others…either works." Zabuza shrugged. "Besides, the Second Coming of the Demon should revel in the impending slaughter of war. The feel of your blade gliding through flesh and blood, cleaving bone and cartilage as you focus on the eight spots and slice them out one by one..."
Suigetsu smiled at the thought. It was truly a sign that both he and Zabuza were representatives of Yagura's reign, assassins who reveled in the Art of Killing. "Deal, Zabuza-senpai."