A/N: Thanks for all the love, hate, and reviews. Last fun fact: this fic was originally supposed to be a little one-shot. I honestly had no clue where it was going, I just knew it had to be gory as all hell. Dark, gory stories is what I do best and for the longest time I'd forgotten that. It took the awesomeness of a fic called Cheerilee's Garden to reignite my passion. That fic is without a doubt one of the most disturbingly horrific pieces of literature I've ever read. If you think A Mother's Sword is grisly and fucked up then wow, just…wow.
With the next continuation of this story, I'm bringing everything the first lacked, including pairings. And, oh yes, plentiful gore. Fair warning.
Now, for the last piece of A Mother's Sword: Devil's Analogy. Enjoy.
Epilogue: She's D.E.A.D (Determined Even After Death)
Minato had been walking, walking for what seemed like hours upon a narrow stretch of white road. It only went one way and from what he could gather there was no end in sight. The surrounding area was pure darkness, one that quite honestly scared the shit out of him but he learned that if you didn't put a foot over the white road then nothing happened.
Every so often, Minato came across another figure walking either in front or behind him. No words were ever exchanged and perhaps that was a good thing because newcomers were always grayed out, their features blurred beyond distinction. He had to wonder what he looked like to them. Did he resemble a young man with flyaway blonde hair and bright blue eyes, or did they see him as he saw them?
The newcomers never lasted long, which was both a good and bad thing. It was good because their ghoulish features set him edge; and it was bad because when they left his only company became the piercing loneliness and cold silence once more.
In the back of his mind he knew he was dead. He vividly, painfully remembered binding the Nine-Tailed Fox to his only child through means that cost him his very soul. It was a last ditch effort and now, as he sauntered along aimlessly, he wondered how everything had turned out? Where was his wife? She had died too, right? So why was he walking this road by himself? Or maybe she'd been one of those spectral shadows that already came and went?
No...that didn't make sense. He'd be able to feel her—he always did, no matter where she was or what she was doing. If she felt even the slightest twinge of pain he was right there, putting his Hirashin jutsu to more use than it had ever seen in battle. He nodded with brief hope, the movement foreign as some of his body refused to follow the most simplest commands. That was fine. All he needed was his legs anyway; he had to keep walking. Where? He didn't know. For how long? He didn't want to ponder.
"Now that I think about it...it's not that I have to walk," Minato noticed idly, staring down at his legs, "it's that I can't help but walk." He laughed, it was a short, dry sound. "I haven't been in control of my legs since I found myself on this bridge."
He suddenly looked up when another person appeared out of thin air before him. They were hunched over and shrouded in shadows just like the others; their walk looked disturbingly painful, like every jerking step struck them with a blistering agony that Minato felt sure would have them screaming if they could make noise. No, this pitiful monstrosity marched onward, determined to get to wherever the hell it was headed to.
Maybe that's where it was headed, Minato figured, poking out his bottom lip in thought. Something that terrible looking had to be going to hell. Well...he'd know it's destination in a second.
He began counting in his head, down from ten.
An enormous hand made of roaring black fire suddenly lurched up out of the darkness, one with triple-jointed fingers that ended with sparkling talons that dripped blood onto the light road. Inhaling, as if that somehow made him invisible, Minato watched as the creature before him was gripped, tightly, so tightly that a brown sort of gunk began to squeeze through the enormous fingers—
He felt as if the breath had been stolen from him as he usually did when the creature was snatched off the path, leaving no evidence of its existence other than a few piles of rotted flesh that burned away into a black mist on this wonderful bridge of light.
"Yup...hell." Knowing the creature's destination did nothing to help him but he took comfort in knowing that he himself had not been grabbed so...so what? Maybe he wouldn't be going there? Was that what he hoped? It only seemed fair, after all, given how he'd died….
But then...had that been fair? He'd only been a father for less than four hours before that traitorous bastard came and tore a path of blood through everything he held dear. He automatically knew Hiruzen would pick up the Hokage's mantle again and felt bad for forcing the old man back into such a taxing position.
He sighed, continuing his forced march, wondering just how long he'd have to—
A sudden thud from up ahead caused Minato to look up, his eyes displaying boredom at first before slowly widening with surprise. Another shadowy body had appeared except...this one was on its side, curled up even.
Not that he had much choice in the matter, Minato approached, noticing that with each step he took the tufts of darkness hissed away from the newcomer until he could make out their crimson hair—
His breath caught.
His sudden yell must have broken some sort of binding he couldn't have known existed because feeling returned to his legs; he instantly crashed to his knees, not expecting the change, but was up in a flash and next to his wife in another. Gingerly, he cradled her, smiling out of fear and happiness at what he'd found as he moved strands of hair from her porcelain face. She was still so...so….
Tears had formed in his eyes yet he refused to let them free. Now wasn't the time to break down. He was dead, on a bridge of light surrounded by darkness, and his wife looked as though she'd been knocked comatose. He felt a cold moisture somewhere around her midsection and glanced at his hand.
Blood. Deep red and sticky, it dripped down his wrist and for a moment he could only stare, his highly trained mind running through a list of scenarios for why this might be. Was it because of the nine-tails wound when they were both impaled? No...that couldn't be as he himself was fine, not a scratch on him; even his white Hokage's cloak bore no remnant of the attack.
Not able to tell by just looking, he put a finger under her nose, exhaling with relief when he felt those slight puffs of air. The wound looked fatal yet...she breathed. But wait, so did he.
He gnashed his teeth in the eerie silence. Giving himself a migraine over facts that mattered so little would do nothing: all that mattered was that she was alive—dead?—and with him.
"Honey?" he called gingerly, tracing her cheek with a delicate touch as though she were a fragile flower even though he knew she was anything but. He figured he was extremely lucky to have found such a strong woman—and unnervingly talented as before he'd died she'd taken to seeking out advice on how to perform his Hiraishin. It was laughable to think she would be able to actually execute it properly but she seemed adamant. And adamant was sexy where she as concerned. "Honey, I know you're there….Come on, open your eyes for me. Please," he whispered.
And she did. Much like a butterfly spreading its wings for the first time, Kushina's eyes fluttered open with grace unforeseen. For a moment, she merely stared up at the man holding her, noting his flyaway blonde hair, his tender blue eyes filling up with tears, his quivering smile—
"Minato?" The word sounded foreign on her tongue, a name she hadn't spoke for more than a decade. The moment this wonderful man nodded, she moved instinctually, wrapping her arms around his neck before pressing her lips to his.
It wasn't exactly the most romantic kiss, Minato figured, as her lips were more coarse than he remembered but he eagerly accepted them, loving everything about this woman all over again, starting with how she tasted.
The embrace ended rather unexpectedly when Kushina gasped with pain, slapping a hand to the wound on her side. Minato's eyes flashed to it, wondering why in the hell she had sustained injury if they were both…?
His train of thought was derailed when Kushina offered up a tired little laugh, one that was miles away from the adorable giggle she used to give. This, like her kiss, had changed to the point of being neigh unrecognizable. Just as he did, she lifted a bloody hand up, examining it for only a second before bending over and tearing off a long strip of her pants leg. Minato watched, astounded by her readiness as she tied it around her waist, her face betraying not a single ounce of pain when she tied the knot.
Something had changed about his lover. Something drastic.
"Kushina—" he began, uncertain of how to start.
"So, this is death," his wife said with an analyzing look around the darkness. She stared down at the bridge of light sustaining them and felt it experimentally. "Strange. I don't seem to have my katana—"
Katana? Since when did she—?
"—and I thought Sakumo would be here waiting for me, as would the third Hokage."
Minato's eyes bugged, his heartbeat stuttering. What did she mean by—? It took him a second to realize that Kushina was on her feet, wound be damned, and had grabbed him by the wrist. Her grip was...for lack of a better word, tight, demanding. He felt that if he didn't rise when she tugged she would have easily taken his arm.
"What's happened?" he asked, taking his wife by the chin and turning her so he could stare deep into those enticing blue opals he loved so much. The spark of love she had for him was still there—and for that he mentally exhaled, relief flooding his body—but everything else...it was gone. Or rather dimmed to the point of being superfluous. Minato had always been of an insightful nature, able to pick up subtle hints and changes that others missed, and now that the subject concerned his wife he was grasping more than ever.
Without knowing how he knew he got the feeling that a great deal of time had passed between himself arriving on this bridge and Kushina. Or, perhaps more on the mark, this place existed on a time plane drastically different from the world he had left.
He jerked when she put a hand to his cheek, expecting it to feel something akin to a man's touch, but was taken aback by all the emotion that came with her soothing caress. Once again, without knowing where this damnable knowledge came from, he knew that this tiny stroke of her hand spoke of the feelings she had for him but could not say for one reason or another.
"Tell me," he pushed, tapping her once on the bottom lip like he used to whenever she fancied keeping secrets from him.
He was overjoyed to see it had the same effect now as it did then for Kushina's brow crinkled with reluctance. Paying no mind to her wound, she lovingly took Minato's arm in hers and the two began walking down the bridge of light together.
She peeked up at him through her scarlet bangs, catching him in the act of surveying her with a cocked eyebrow before hastily turning his sight elsewhere. His childish actions coerced a little smile out of her. "I've not completely forgotten how to be a woman, love," she informed him with a fake haughty sniff.
He smirked. "Never crossed my mind. Now, what's happened? And don't lie," he added with a scolding wag of his finger. "I want to know what's happened since I've been…." For some reason, he just couldn't find the courage to vocally proclaim himself as 'dead', fearing that the moment he did something terrible would happen; like it would be the triggering acceptance to summon that hellish hand from before. "Since I've been gone."
Kushina met his eyes and he cursed himself mentally when he saw that she understood his trepidation yet respectfully refrained from pressing it. Had it been that obvious?
"I died," she began unabashedly, bluntly, and Minato stumbled in his footing but the hold she had over his arm steadied him.
"Y-you what?" he exclaimed, his voice echoing in the surrounding gloom. It was only when he tried to stop walking that he found his legs had been taken over by fate once more, moving along of their own accord. He could tell by the way that Kushina observed her own feet that she was experiencing the same thing—but none of that mattered. "You died? I—I don't understand, if you died by the nine-tails like me then why weren't you—?"
Kushina cut him off without trying. The sudden shadows that played over her face were deep and sinister causing her to look less like the woman he'd married and more like the one she'd been molded into now. "Due to negligence on my part, Ibiki managed to deal me a fatal wound." She stared down at the makeshift wrap around her waist. "That one to be precise…."
Now Minato was utterly confused, baffled so much that he found anger coming quickly. It boiled hot in his veins and he had to bite his tongue to a bleeding point to keep calm.
"Why would Ibiki do—?"
"Probably because of the eighty or so ninja I murdered," she replied as though knowing his question beforehand. "Sakumo and Orochimaru had killed the Hokage so that couldn't be why he felt the need to impale me like he did. Perhaps I'd killed one of his best friends, or a possible lover of his."
While Kushina looked sincerely contemplative, Minato had fallen from the conversation at the mention of Sakumo and came back only to be kicked off again by the mention of Orochimaru. Just what in the hell…?
"Kushina," he began slowly and when she looked up at him, her face so angled and beatifically elegant, he almost lost his words. It felt like he'd only just died not more than a couple hours ago, yet staring at the woman at his side he now knew he had missed a great deal. "How long have I been gone? The only thing I remember is protecting Naruto then performing the sealing jutsu for the fox and then...I'm here, in this endless void. Hours later you show up but I can tell you're not the same as when I left. Just what have I missed?" he asked almost pleadingly, wanting to understand.
It was clear that this new Kushina was not one for mincing words, or putting things delicately, so it came as a physically painful shock for Minato when she said, "Love, you've been amongst the dead for the past thirteen years."
Being deceased meant nothing to Minato's heart and he cringed in pain as his chest seized. He went through the agonizing motions of suffering a heart-attack without actually experiencing one. He was breathless, spent from just one sentence, and wanted very much to sit down but curse his legs, they kept him firmly walking.
Oblivious to his reaction, or, more likely, evaluating it as contained, Kushina stared down at her feet again. "I can't seem to control where I'm walking."
"Join the club," he grunted, accepting that his fears had been confirmed. Time flowed at a different velocity here. That...answered just about as many questions as it arose. "What have I missed? I thought Sakumo was dead—I thought Orochimaru had gone rogue and—no, never mind, that's not important. I don't even want to know how you managed to live. I'm damn happy but that can wait."
Without any thought, he planted a quick kiss over Kushina's cheek—her skin was so soft—and said, "I want to know about our son. Tell me about Naruto."
And so Kushina told him. Leaving out how she came to breathe again as he'd requested, Kushina regaled him with tales of their child from beginning to the end, recounting both the happy and heart-rending with such poise that Minato kept flip-flopping between smiling and frowning.
When she was through with Naruto's portion, Kushina explained how she had been brought back to life through a combination of the Hokage's secrecy and Orochimaru's sadistic science. She told him of their false alliance, of Sakumo's rebirthing and Itachi's staged departure from the village; she spared no hatred when mentioning how the Hokage died. She hadn't been there to witness Hiruzen's glorious death but Sakumo had already told her what method he'd use to extinguish the old flame. She explained the hidden intricacies of the Zero Ninja and of their leaders betrayal. Emotionlessly, she revealed her plans to destroy Konoha, the very village Minato had sworn to protect, and even told how Naruto had come to the same conclusion and that they had worked together in harmony as they took life after life. Her voice grew suddenly hoarse when the story ended with a mission failure and her death, unable to even see her child in those last few moments before she passed….
Minato listened to all of this without interrupting once. When his wife fell silent, the only noise came from the rumbling void.
They continued walking.
Kushina looked over, trying to gauge her husbands reaction but saw that he was staring straight ahead, his face as emotionless as hers was on a daily basis. There was no bafflement, no anger, no signs of struggling to comprehend why she had done those demonic acts or why she had felt the need to enlist the help of Orochimaru, Itachi, Sakumo—it slightly annoyed her because she was usually really good at deciphering even the most stoic expressions. But her husband, he had her stumped completely, like trying to read a rock.
"Love?" she called softly, beginning to feel surprisingly uncomfortable. "Did...I'm finished talking now. Did you hear me?"
"Caught every word. Halfway into your story I was contemplating some very drastic options. At first, I played with the notion of killing you." Kushina's eyes widened yet Minato continued without noticing, his tone lackadaisical. "I dismissed that idea when I realized that we're both already dead so that wouldn't carry any consequence. After skipping over dozens of other scenarios in which I would be left wifeless, I came to the conclusion that I was being rather hypocritical."
He sighed, staring up as though expecting see a bright, cerulean sky. Only a chilling canvas of shadow met his hardened gaze and he accepted it. "Had I been in your position, I doubt things would have ended in a mission failure. In fact, I probably would have made a clone for every single resident of Konoha and sent them on their way with only a kunai and a single order: kill everyone. Had you thought of that, love?"
And his smile returned. He turned it to Kushina who was taken aback, her mouth hanging open in a cute little 'o' before she too smiled. She lovingly nuzzled her head against his shoulder before answering with, "It had crossed my mind at one point but I figured the deviated chakra would leave me too drained to protect myself from the more elite shinobi." In the back of her mind, Kushina wondered if after thirteen years of training until she vomited blood whether she'd be able to take her husband in a serious fight. Before his death there was no doubt he had her in every possible aspect, but now the thought of clashing kunai with him for blood enticed her in an almost sensual way. "I didn't want to chance it."
"And thus a mission failure. Victory cannot come without risks," Minato concluded playfully, ignoring the horrendous details that came with said failure, choosing instead to focus on his wife's childish pout. "You said Naruto was fine before you died?"
"His heartbeat sounded regular, if somewhat sporadic with stress over the fact that I was leaving him, and when he took hold of my hand…he felt so warm, so full of life. His voice was strong, heartbroken but determined to live—"
"And that brings me to my next question," cut in Minato, his voice shades lighter. "What was your plan once Konoha had been leveled? Realistically speaking, it's highly improbably that you would have been able to do away with every soul within her walls. Some people would've gotten away, told other villages and countries—your faces would be everywhere, tagged with a very large bounty. What kind of life could you, the Z.N.O, and Naruto have lived were your plan a success?"
This was not a question Minato posed to make his wife feel utterly daft. He honestly wanted to know what came after such a seismic change in the shinobi world. One of it's greatest villages falls with its leader—if that weren't enough to have every top ninja from the other countries on their trails then nothing was.
As he knew she would, Kushina didn't answer right away. Their walk continued in thoughtful silence, during which Minato wondered why no other 'creatures' from before had appeared on the bridge. Did it have something to do with his wife's appearance?
"I guess I never really put much stock into an after-plan," she admitted in whispers and Minato wanted to laugh at the blush in her cheeks. It brought back fond memories of the old Kushina. "As long as I had Naruto by my side then I honestly didn't care what happened next. I knew we would be hunted. I knew normal society would never accept us into its arms again. I knew I was condemning our son to a life of running and hiding...but then a small piece of my mind conceded to the fact that it would be no different a world than what Naruto had experienced since birth. When I looked at it that way the choice was simple, I could breathe easier because I'd be there to protect him."
"And look where you are now," said Minato.
Even though his voice was light, Kushina felt as though he had just screamed at her and visibly flinched, a burning sensation in her eyes.
"Don't cry," Minato said gently, his jaw firming. "If you did, I think I might join you and I've been trying really hard to keep a straight face," he added with a choked laugh. "The most important thing is that Naruto is still alive. If you and the other members of Z.N.O were really as close as you said then I'm sure they'll take good care of him wherever they end up."
Kushina opened her mouth to tell Minato just how much those words comforted her troubled soul when another voice preceded her:
It seems as though light and dark can indeed comingle.
All at once, feeling returned to Minato's legs and he nearly fell; he felt something within his head snap and blood began to slid from his nostrils, a slow stream that he touched a finger to, confused beyond reason. He turned to Kushina, gasping when he saw that she was gripping her forehead, grunting as tears of blood escaped her eyes, which were squeezed tight in obvious agony.
"Ku—" he started breathlessly but the voice echoed again, seemingly from everywhere.
I grow tired of waiting and my patience is very thin. Look up.
Minato had never in all of his years cognizant heard something so evil that it caused him to shiver. He was scared, scared to the point of hyperventilating and he gripped at his chest, struggling to lift his head as commanded. He hadn't wanted to; it was more like an invisible pull on his chin forcing him. What he saw caused his eyes to widen in horror, his jaw to drop.
Out of the darkness sparked a fire, a crimson flame that thrashed above their heads with the sound of booming thunder; it created a fierce wind that caused both ninja to apply chakra to their feet or risk being blown off the bridge. Struck still as freshly carved statues, they watched as the flames contorted and twisted to form a sinister looking face as vast as the darkness; it stretched in all directions completely destroying Minato's sense of scale. Out of the forehead protruded two long, glistening black horns; the black sockets understood to be eyes were each filled with a bright red star.
There was no mouth, no ears, no nose—just looking at it caused Minato's stomach to churn nauseatingly and that alone filled him with rage. Why, as a soul, could he feel nausea? Feel this curdling fear that made him want to sink to his knees and scream? He only remained on his feet because his wife did despite the trails of blood curving her cheeks.
Release the man you hold, Kushina Uzumaki, the voice commanded and Minato's head throbbed with an unearthly pain.
Baring her teeth protectively, Kushina ignored her pain and fear and took Minato's arm in a tighter hold. "I will not."
You are delaying his ascension.
Holding back tears of agony, Minato struggled with his mouth. "A...ascension…? T-to what?" he ground out, chest heaving.
The face above them shifted ever so slightly when the eyes narrowed, the action so powerful that another wind picked up; Minato didn't have time to apply chakra and thus felt his feet leave the ground. Luckily, Kushina's strength had obviously increased since his death so he didn't go far before thudding down to the bridge again.
You, Minato Uzumaki...you performed the self-sacrificing jutsu in order to save your village. It's an act that I find absolutely sickening. However...there are others who feel that those who die in such a way deserve a small amount of...closure. What you wanted most in your heart was to see your wife again so you were made to walk this bridge of purgatory until her death. Now you have seen this woman and talked to her—your soul is free. You can move on. Your admittance into the kingdom of light has now been granted.
Those words shook Minato to his core. For a moment, he forgot how to breathe and was left to gape up at the gigantic enflamed face. He...he was going to heaven? He had made it? And this bridge was purgatory…?
Before he could even begin to feel happiness, a part of Minato's brain clicked with knowledge and he suddenly yelled, "What about my wife?"
Your souls blare with two opposite forces. Yours, Minato Uzumaki, is white as snow. Hers, however, is blacker than the darkness that surrounds you. You will ascend into the kingdom of light and she will descend into the palace of fire. So it has been written and so shall it be.
"Wh-what?" Minato stuttered, his ears ringing painfully. He turned to his wife with hopeless sorrow, not sure of what he could do or say.
But he didn't need to say anything. Without warning, Kushina lifted a hand, sucked in her bottom lip, and plunged it deep into her wound. A scream of agony was lost somewhere in her throat as she fished around, her fingers flailing past copious amounts of spilling blood until they brushed what she sought—
"KUSHINA!" Minato cried but with an uncontainable yelp of pain she suddenly pulled forth a blood-drenched handle, which was connected to a sterling silver blade. "What...what the—?"
She stepped in front of her husband, extending her weapon towards the face with one hand while the other took a tight hold of Minato's Hokage cloak.
"I...understand y-your words," she spoke, her breathing labored with pain, one eye closed as sweat trickled down her forehead. "I knew of...of my f-fate a long time ago….I—I lost my child. A-all I want is a f-few more hours with m-my husband...then I'll go wherever and s-suffer my punishment…."
Denied, the voice rumbled forth and Kushina balked slightly, her weapon arm strengthening. Damned souls do not have a voice. The other powers were gracious enough to allow him to see you one last time. You dare spit in the face of such generosity? Though it's tone didn't raise, Minato felt as though gravity had increased tenfold. Your darkness is keeping his soul grounded with you. He has earned everlasting peace. Release him so that he may move on. Who are you to keep him away from what he has earned? Know your place, damned soul.
Those words crushed Kushina's resolve both mentally and physically, and her sword arm lowered slowly until it fell away. Looking defeated in every since of the word, crystal clear water began to escape her eyes…and she released her husband—
"Sorry, but...that's not happening." Arms found their way around Kushina from the back, holding onto her shivering form protectively, lovingly. He put his lips near her ear, forcing his throbbing heart from his throat so he could speak. "Love...I'd gladly give you all of my time. We made a promise on the day we wed: till death do us part. Remember? We may be technically dead but...my heart still beats. If it beats then I'm alive, and as long as I'm alive"—he pressed his cheek to hers—"I refuse to let you go."
It was then Kushina realized that although she may have been damned to spend eternity in hell that she had indeed been blessed. Blessed with a child brighter than the sun and a husband whose faithfulness could fill the galaxy. She could feel his warmth, the sincerity of his words—he meant it with every fiber of his being...and that only brought forth more tears.
She couldn't speak.
The voice blared out around them, So ends the non-confrontational method.
And from out of the darkness burst tentacles of black fire; they slithered and zoomed like lightning towards the embracing couple—
Minato dug a hand in his pocket—
Kushina lifted her weapon—
Dropping to one knee, Minato wielded a three-pronged kunai engraved with special markings; he spun in a blinding flash of yellow, severing a multitude of black tentacles that tried to ensnare their legs—without needing to be told, Kushina had leapt, biting her tongue to the pain in her side, and made slashes with her katana, expertly reducing the tendrils trying to strangle them to black ash.
When she landed, she pressed her back to Minato's, smiling internally. They were fighting side by side—wife and husband—as one.
"M-Minato," she gasped, an arm wrapped around her waist; it was saturated with blood.
He shook his head. "Don't say it." He lifted his weapon, ready for another onslaught. "We won't survive this. I know that, but if we both get sent to hell...as long as I'm with you…."
A droplet of blood fell from under Minato's robes. An instant later, he fell to his knees sending up sparks of light from the bridge, wavered slightly, then thudded over.
Kushina looked down at him, her lips quivering, tears free flowing and sniffing up phlegm. "I'm sorry, my love," she whispered tragically, "but I can't let you sacrifice eternal happiness just...just for me…."
"NO!" roared Minato as she stepped over him but he couldn't feel his legs. She'd struck him in the spine with her blade. The pain was slight, barely noticeable, a tribute to her incredible craft yet that didn't stop him from reaching out for her, his fingers just barely grasping the back of her bare calf before she was out of reach. "KUSHINA! NO—damn it, no! We promised!"
She kept walking, one arm still slung around her waist while the other let her sword trail limply, the blade scoring the light-bridge.
She inhaled, summoning all of her courage, and looked up into the flaming maw of fate that loomed overhead. "Take me."
Minato swore so loudly that his throat blistered. "AAAAAAAH—NOOO!"
It was then a line of darkness spread throughout the ancient face forming a lopsided mouth; from it extended two bright red serpents that stretched down to Kushina. She looked left to right and remained still even after they dislocated their jaws. What were they going to—?
Her eyes crossed when she felt fangs penetrate her throat on either side; the pain nearly caused her brain to explode.
"No—leave her alone!" Minato bellowed, struggling to pull himself forward by his arms.
Kushina could feel blood welling up in her throat, escaping through the punctures in her skin—she choked, retreating deep into the recesses of her mind where only Naruto's smile prevailed. He was laughing as he proudly waved those tongues for her to see….
She gasped when the pressure on her neck suddenly increased to vomit-worthy levels, and then she was being lifted, hoisted into the air like a hooked trout. Down below, she could hear Minato screaming out for this creature to release her.
In my new life, I had Naruto...and now, in death I have Minato.
The snakes dug in deeper and she found herself less than a few away from the demonic face bearing down her with eyes blaring hotter than the sun. Her skin began to roast, turning a scalding red—
Do you know who I am? the voice questioned; the vibrations entered Kushina's head, bouncing around painfully.
She coughed her throat clear, ignoring the scarlet fluids flowing down her neck, and uttered, "Y-yes."
Who am I?
"The g-god of death…."
The god of death is my second-in-charge, the voice corrected, and it chastised Kushina by having the snakes clutch tighter causing her eyes to roll up. No...I am far greater than that. You should feel honored, little damned soul. This is only the second time I have come up to personally claim one of you humans. I have been watching you, enjoying your admittedly short show as you cut a wave of blood through the streets of your home. You've fed me many a soul and for that...maybe there is further use for you."
It was getting progressively harder to talk, becoming a painful chore that caused her vision to sparkle, but Kushina heard just fine and growled out, "Never."
You stayed yourself from seeing your child for over a decade. You were willing to rend several hundred souls from their bodies. You severed the spine of your lover so as to keep him from falling into the same darkness as you. The fangs in Kushina's throat loosened ever so slightly. I have dominion over your world. I have the power to send you back.
"There's n-nothing for me there…mission...failure…."
The snakes dug in deeper and Kushina gasped. Do not belittle my power, damned soul. Sending you to a point in time before your folly is worth no more effort than speaking.
When Kushina spoke, her voice was strong. "I said I refuse."
Do you not wish to see your child again? Save him from the unbearable sadness he feels now at the loss of his mother? He holds within him one of my more deadly creations...and it will use his loss and sorrow to widen the gap between them. Naruto will not take your death easy. He will rise to power in eight years and lead an armada of no more than fifty of the most well trained ninja against Konoha. The war will be long and bloody, more souls than I have ever seen in one time, but your son will fall in battle and his corpse will be paraded through what little is left of the village hidden in fire. Do you want this?
"Don't listen to it! Kushina!" yelled Minato, pounding the bridge with his fists. "It's lying! There's no way Naruto would do something like that!"
But maybe that wasn't so far from the truth. Before being brought back as a Z.N.O member, Kushina could never have seen herself attempting to wipe out all of Konoha's populous, yet she had tried. And the meeting with Naruto had proved his mental instability. Have a child of that caliber watch his mother die before his eyes then mix it with years of abuse and hatred and the idea of Naruto seeking revenge was more plausible than Sasuke Uchiha's reasoning.
Minato didn't understand...he couldn't, he hadn't seen the wicked glow that resonated within Naruto's cerulean eyes, the cruel joy that sank into his face as he fought alongside his equally volatile mother.
"What...would you have me do?" she questioned throatily.
The grip you have over your weapon is strong despite your condition. Had you done things differently, your coup would have been successful. I will send you back one day before that fateful night. You know where you went wrong. Should you manage to change that then you save yourself and your child. But you will work for me.
"Kushina! Listen to me for once! Don't do it!"
You will provide me with fresh souls every day.
"And if I d-don't?"
You die instantly. You and your child. If you choose not to adhere to this second chance then when your child eventually falls his soul will join yours in eternal hellfire. By going back, you have not only a chance to live again but to save his soul as well.
"W-why are you…trying to—?"
Help? I do not help. You brought forth a surge of souls not seen since the last ninja war. You can do me a greater service alive rather than having the flesh peeled from your bones day after day for all eternity. Your screams are very much like elegant works of poetry but this is not your end. Not yet. Will you go and save your child?
Her mind was made up before the voice even finished talking and she worked her gashed neck as far as the pain allowed, barely able to catch Minato still struggling out of her peripheral vision. "And h-he'll go on?"
"I'll do it," and no sooner had the words left her lips, Minato yelled in fury, the tone of his voice sending shivers of fear down Kushina's spine; she'd never heard anything so terrible, not even the sound of this creature holding her.
Then so shall it be. Remember...I will be always be watching you.
And just like that she felt the fangs in her neck retract and she began to fall like a rock. She expected a collision with the light bridge but gasped with pain when she merely fell through, shattering a huge section into glasslike shards. As she plummeted into the darkness, her last vision was of Minato nearly flinging himself over the edge, tears dripping from his eyes—
She smiled. "A father's work from sun to sun...a m-mothers work is never done…r-rest now, my love….I'll handle everything…."
Now Kushina is D.E.A.D (Determined Even After Defeat)
Coming soon: A Mother's Sword: Devil's Disciple.
Hope you enjoyed the ride.