Here it is: the promised story. I shall try to not to let this fall behind too much, but please do have patience with me! I hope you enjoy this!
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or it's characters. All legends in this story are entirely fake and fictional, I made them up myself.
Warnings: There will be language, slight violence/gore, supernatural themes, horror and dashes of shounen-ai (boy love) if you are offended by these, please do not flame. You have been fairly warned.
(please forgive any errors I may have overlooked)
A man narrowed his icy blue eyes towards the glowing silver moon. His strong legs were long and powerful, holding up his muscled body as he stood on the very edge of a hill cliff, the grass folding over the sudden cut that signalled the end. Below him was a raging river, the currents strong and deadly. His jacket flapped slightly in the wind, the golden tresses of his hair caressing his face while his unwavering stare pierced towards the sky.
Behind him the forest shook with wind and noises could be heard from within. Ghostly howls and moans, vicious snarls and roars. The dark forest was alive with sinister creatures, and yet he had his back to its edge, not fearful of the dangers lurking there.
Suddenly, the air shifted around him as a distant chime could be heard. It was coming from the direction of the small village beyond the woods and river, whose lights could faintly be seen from his perch up so high. The chimes went on twelve times, signalling that midnight had arrived and it was time for the village to properly settle down after their preparations.
His eyes widened slightly, brows drawing down into an almost crazed glare towards the moon. He opened his mouth wide, fangs elongating downwards rapidly while the markings on his cheeks suddenly split, stretching and darkening to form more and more whisker scars. His nose and jaw began to elongate and from his gaping mouth came a snarl that no human could make. It was the snarl of a beast.
Hair started to sprout all over his body, spreading up his arms and hands while his legs stretched before violently snapping near the ankles, reforming into a different shape; the shape of a wolf's legs. He got down on all fours, dangerously close to falling off the cliff and shook his entire body as it bulged and shrunk, cracking bones and adjusting joints creating a sickening symphony of metamorphosis. His jacket was shed in the flurry of movement, and his pants and shirt were torn, unable to stay on his growing body. Claws dug into the ground as more beastly snarls ripped from the trembling snout, filled with wicked fangs.
Finally, the man turned beast looked back towards the sky, eyes bleeding a violent red as rage continued to bubble inside. A dark tail whipped about behind it, beating the ground before the beast straightened, lifting its head towards the sky and letting out a long, echoing and ethereal howl. The noises of the forest quieted down briefly before a cacophony of answering howls joined in. The lights in the distance were snuffed out, and the beast knew that villagers were slamming their doors shut and bolting them tight. This was what they always did when he was out. They knew of him and they knew to be afraid.
He stomped down, snarling into the night air, his tail sweeping across the ground in an agitated motion before he leapt off the cliff, soaring through the air over the opening and landing on the other side. His claws dug into the edge of the wall, loud growls ripping through the air as he fought his way to safety and then he was racing forwards, heading through more trees and towards the village that feared his arrival with good reason.
Tonight was the night of judgement. Tonight...someone was going to pay.
Uchiha Sasuke sighed heavily, leaning against the window of the car and watching as the rain splattered against the glass. His jacket was slung over the back of his seat since the car's heating was on, and he had unzipped the wide, obtruding collar of his undershirt so that the flaps hung down slightly, revealing a section of pale pink chest.
He sighed again, hating the long travel.
"If you sigh one more time, so help me God I'll kick you out of the car while we're still moving," an irritated voice grumbled beside him. Sasuke turned his head to glower at the man driving the car.
"It's your fault for dragging me along with you on this assignment, Kakashi," he said scornfully, flicking a long black bang out of his eyes. Kakashi scowled, an action that was only partially hidden by the surgeon's mask he wore to cover a variety of horrible scars on his mouth that he had attained in a terrible incident. His flyaway silver hair was drooping more than usual, undoubtedly from the humid air inside the car.
"It wasn't like I had a choice in the matter! We're the only ones available, and the boss wants the story on that town as quickly as possible," he said grumpily. "If I had a choice I would've taken Iruka or Anko instead. Compared to them you're companionship is about as entertaining as a massage chair made from cactus skins and porcupine arm-rests."
Sasuke's lips turned down into a scowl. "If you hate me so much, then you should've told the boss to send someone else!" he snapped, turning back to the window. God, he needed a new job. But that was hard to find when your boss was also your demonic older brother with a life mission of making you as miserable as possible.
Kakashi sighed heavily. "I don't hate you Sasuke," he said tiredly as if he'd said it a million times before. "But even you have to admit that you become a sour, unsociable, shitty partner when we go out of the city. I'm going to be stuck with you for an entire week in this village out in the middle of freaking nowhere, so forgive me for not looking forward to your bitchy mood swings."
Sasuke's glare was more heated than the car. "Kakashi, did I ever tell you how much I loathe the very air you breathe?" he asked darkly.
"See what I mean?" Kakashi asked no one in particular. He shook his head slightly. "How much father until we reach the village?"
Sasuke glanced at the map. "It's just up ahead, on the corner of Fuck-You and Go-Die," he grunted, turning back to the window. Kakashi mumbled something that Sasuke knew he wouldn't like, so he didn't bother asking him to repeat it. He was tired of arguing anyway.
They drove on in silence aside from the hum of the engine, the patter of rain and the faint rattles of their bags and recording equipment in the back seat. Kakashi checked the map himself and turned down the designated dirt road, leading them towards a more wooded area of the already country setting. They drove through the woods, the dark trees looming on either side, and Sasuke looked out curiously. He'd hardly travelled this far out of the city before, so seeing so much greenery was interesting. He looked ahead, squinting through the thick rain. It was still quite dark outside, as they had been driving throughout the night and it was only now reaching morning. They were used to working odd hours, however.
Suddenly, his sharp onyx eyes caught something in the road, running.
"STOP!" he yelled, slamming his hand on the dashboard as Kakashi slammed on the breaks at his shout. The car squealed, sliding slightly and Sasuke heard a loud metallic thud as whatever he had been hoping to avoid collided with the front of their car.
They stopped, panting heavily before Sasuke cursed and threw his door open.
"Sasuke!" Kakashi called, but he was ignored as the raven stepped out into the pouring rain and rushed around to the front of the car. The headlights shone brightly, illuminating the poor creature that they'd hit. Sasuke stopped when he saw it, his eyes widening as he took in the magnificent creature. It looked like some kind of wolf, but at the same time there was a distinct air of a fox around it. Its fur was a dark red, nearing brown, and it was huge! It lay on its side, body heaving up and down with every breath it took and Sasuke could see the shock trembling through its limbs. Of course it was shocked; the poor thing had just gotten smacked by a car!
He quickly walked over, kneeling down and carefully running a hand over its side. He was trying to find the injury, uncaring of the fact that he was soaked to the bone already under the torrents of rain. His hand slid over a lump in its side and he wondered if it had gotten lucky with only a lump. However, as soon as he withdrew his hand to check over its head, there was a snarl and the creature shot to its feet.
With a yell of surprise Sasuke toppled back, his tailbone smacking harshly on the dirt road while his palms grazed the muddied stones. He looked up, eyes wide when he saw the creature advancing towards him, snarling dangerously. He backed up, crawling across the ground awkwardly until his back hit the car bumper. Still the creature was advancing, lips pulled back to reveal deadly teeth.
Sasuke was barely breathing as it got close to him, and he tensed up, expecting his face to become dog food. He had almost closed his eyes, but then the creature stopped snarling. Its mouth was still baring teeth, but it looked much less threatening. In fact...it seemed to be studying him thoughtfully. He turned his head back to face it, his chest heaving from his fear of being mauled. Rain dripped down his face, and he saw it edge closer. The tip of its black nose touched the end of his and he held back a noise of shock when it sniffed him from close range. It was almost ticklish, and then the nose trailed to his cheek, sniffing again. Sasuke stayed still, watching the creature examine him in the rain. His palms were starting to sting from the grazes, and his backside ached. He had really gotten a fright! The wolfish creature had moved unbelievably quickly.
Suddenly something rough and warm lapped at his cheek, and he blinked. The creature had licked him. He stared at it, noticing for the first time that its eyes were a vivid blue. He'd never seen an animal with such blue eyes before! But there was something else mesmerising about those eyes. In the centre, curving around the black pupils was what almost looked like reflections of a crescent moon, glowing amidst the intense blue.
In a trance, he raised a hand, reaching towards the animal. It didn't shy away, and he was about to stroke its snout when the blaring of a car horn deafened him. He cried out, hands shooting up to cover his ears while the creature jumped back with a loud snarl and a vicious bark. Sasuke squinted, his head throbbing from the sudden blast of noise and he watched as the creature stared at him briefly before turning and sprinting into the forest, tail whipping out of sight.
"Sasuke! For goodness sake, get back in the damn car!" Kakashi yelled out his window. Sasuke climbed to his feet, wincing and shuffling over to the door. He slid inside the car, slamming the door shut and exhaling a breath. Kakashi handed him a towel he had snagged from their bags and Sasuke started to pat himself dry, wiping away the rain.
"Why the hell would you go out in this weather? And why the hell did you go near that thing?" Kakashi demanded. "I only saw the tips of it, but it was huge! Was it a bear or something?" he asked, starting up the engine. Sasuke shook his head, wiping his face with the towel.
"No, it was a wolf...or a fox...or some kind of strange crossbreed between the two," he said, his voice slightly muffled by the towel. Kakashi sent him a quizzical look, but didn't comment. "It was beautiful."
The other man snorted. "Yeah, I'm sure it was...right up until it decided your face looked like a five star meal," he said. Sasuke glared at him slightly.
"It wasn't going to hurt me. It stopped and...It was just looking at me, like it was studying me," he mumbled distractedly. He could still picture those intense eyes. They were unlike anything he'd ever seen. So animalistic and yet there had been something distinctly human about them. He shook his head slightly and turned to Kakashi. "If all the animals around here are like that thing, then I can see why legends of werewolves and monsters are spread so easily. If you saw something like that in the dark you'd think it was something unnatural."
Kakashi nodded, steering them down the road at a much slower pace than before. He certainly didn't want to hit anything else. He was glad that the other creature was alive, but damn if there were huge wolves wondering these areas he wasn't going to get much sleep during their stay.
After another hour of driving, the sky had lightened to dawn and they were arriving at the gates to the village. Both men stared up at the tall, towering structures covered in spikes at the top. They shared a nervous look. It looks like this village was some kind of bandit camp. However, there were two men standing at the gates who approached the car. Kakashi swallowed and locked their doors, making Sasuke roll his eyes even though secretly he would've done the same.
One of the men knocked on Kakashi's window and the grey-haired man rolled it down enough to speak.
"Is there anything we can help you with?" the guard said, looking in curiously. He didn't give off a hostile air, but there was a reserved aura about him.
"Uh yes, we're the two journalists that are going to do the story on the legends of your village?" Kakashi said, showing up his ID while Sasuke did the same. The guard looked surprised for a moment before nodding.
"Alright, you'll want to head up to the village hall. Just drive straight, it's the largest building. The village elder will be there to greet you," he said and Kakashi nodded.
"Thank you!" he said cheerfully. The guard just stepped aside, letting them pass. They drove slowly, glad that the rain had lightened up somewhat. The village was still quiet at this early hour, but the beginnings of life could be seen. Sasuke noticed how many curtains were shifted as residents peered out at them and then ducked away. He guessed that seeing two outsiders in a car was definitely something strange for this small and rural town. There weren't any cars anywhere else, and Sasuke knew that he and his partner were going to stick out like bleeding thumbs. He sighed, not looking forward to dealing with distant and scrutinizing people, but that was what came with small villages like this. They didn't like outsiders, so of course they'd act strange around him.
It was just uncomfortable.
Finally they arrived at the large hall and Kakashi pulled up to the side, keeping their car out of the way. They climbed out of the car, locking it to keep their equipment safe though they weren't convinced that any villagers would try to steal anything. After all, nothing they had was worth anything in a village as independent and self-reliant as this. A man wearing a long overcoat was waiting to greet them. He looked tired and beaten, but then again it was still early.
"Good morning," he greeted, bowing his head slightly. The two journalists returned the gesture and the man straightened. "Elder Danzou will see you now," he said, sweeping his hand to motion that they follow him. They headed up the stairs, towards the large front doors while Sasuke leant over to whisper to Kakashi.
"I thought the head of the village was a woman named Tsunade?" he asked and Kakashi gave a shrug.
"So did I. Well, that was who Itachi talked to about this assignment," he mumbled. He looked at the guide and cleared his throat. "Uh, forgive me if I seem rude but we were informed the village elder was a lady named Tsunade," he said and the guide stopped.
Silence took over and Sasuke felt a dark sensation creeping up his spine. Kakashi also looked a little unsettled, and they both realized that perhaps that question was not one to ask.
"Lady Tsunade has, unfortunately, passed on," the guide eventually said, his voice strained. The journalists jumped, surprised by the news.
"O-oh...I'm sorry to hear that. My condolences," Kakashi stammered and the air cleared. The guide turned, offering a small smile.
"It's okay. You weren't informed. Now follow me, Elder Danzou doesn't like waiting," the man said and continued walking. Sasuke narrowed his eyes as they followed. Something was wrong with the man's smile. It was almost as if he was trying to fool himself as well as them. He could understand if it was because he was grieving, but something in his gut told him that wasn't how it was. There was something underneath it all.
He decided that he would do a bit more digging into Tsunade's 'sudden' passing. After all, they were here to get the story on this secluded village wrapped in mystery and legends. They were led through to a large room with several rows of chairs set up, facing a stage. Undoubtedly this was where village meetings were held. Sasuke noticed a sign on the wall, imprinted with bold writing. He had noticed the same signs all over the village as they drove, plastered on walls and posts.
"Excuse me," he said, catching the attention of the guide. He pointed to the sign. "What does that say?" he asked.
The guide looked to the sign, his features tightening before he turned to the men.
Maledictus qui longius errat.
Maledictus qui cadit sub alica.
Maledictus qui in luce Lunae.
Lupum et vulpem, sicut unire,
Fuderit sanguinem inimicorum tuorum," the guide recited, his voice low and monotone. It sent chills down the backs of the others, and the temperature in the room seemed to drop as he spoke. Outside, the sun was blocked by clouds, sending them into a dim light and Sasuke heard a crack of thunder in the distance.
Both journalists blinked, bemused. The language was one that they weren't familiar with, but something about it scratched at their minds.
"It is Latin," the guide said and looked upwards. A silver of light from the windows splashed across his face and the room got colder as he spoke. "It translates: Be wary of the forest. Cursed be he that wanders too far. Cursed be he that falls under the spell. Cursed be he in the light of thy moon. The wolf and the fox, as, union, hath shed the blood of thine enemies."
Sasuke jumped and Kakashi made a choking sound when in the distance they heard the mournful cry of a wolf. The guide looked out the windows nervously, his eyes wide and haunted.
Suddenly a clap was heard and the lights came on, startling the three men.
"I thought I told you not to keep me waiting!" an elderly man snapped, walking down the steps of the stage. He had a walking stick in one hand, and was dressed in furs and cloaks. A bandage was wrapped around one half of his face and one of his arms was folded into his cloak. "Hello, gentleman. I am Elder Danzou, the leader of this village."
Kakashi cleared his throat, holding out a hand. "Hello sir. I am Hatake Kakashi, with the Mysteries Explained magazine," he said. There was silence and no movement before Sasuke sighed irritably, leaning over to Kakashi.
"Idiot, he's only got one hand and it's holding his walking stick!" he hissed and Kakashi gulped, withdrawing his hand with a nervous laugh as Sasuke stepped forward. "Forgive my moronic partner. I am Uchiha Sasuke, same magazine, same job."
The Elder nodded, his visible eye flickering over the two of them. "I'm glad you could make it safely. A house has been prepared for you to stay in, and my assistant shall give you a schedule of all town meetings should you wish to attend to learn how things are. You are free to ask the villagers questions, though I cannot guarantee that you will get answers. These are a quiet people, and they don't look well on outsiders. However I have asked that they all cooperate. Genma here will show you to your quarters. I trust you have a pleasant stay." With that said, the man bowed his head slightly and then turned and walked away. Sasuke and Kakashi shared looks, unsure of what to make of the new village head. Truthfully they had never met Tsunade, but from Itachi's descriptions of her she had seemed like a nice, sensible woman. Danzou was certainly straightforward but there was an air about him that screamed his dislike towards them.
The guide, Genma, motioned for them to follow. "Your lodgings are this way. I have your schedules here," he said, producing two sheets of paper and handing them over. Kakashi started to look over it while Sasuke slid his into his pocket. They stepped back out of the hall, walking down a narrow corridor. The village was awake, people milling around the streets as they started to go about their morning chores. Genma led them down the steps and across a short stretch to a small, quaint little structure.
"This will be your house," he said, waving at the building. "Please explore it to your content. Food has already been provided, but if you need more the market is only a few minutes down the path to the right."
"What payment do they take?" Kakashi asked, tilting his head.
"We use the same money as you," Genma said, a slight smirk on his face. "We do trade outside the village from time to time and we have all learned to save our money for united village repairs or construction."
Kakashi nodded while Sasuke surveyed the surroundings. The village had a large wall set up around it, spiked at the top like the gates. However he could just make out the tops of the trees of the surrounding forests.
"Why does the village have such a big barrier?" he asked, staring at the wicked spikes at the top of the wall. "I mean, sure, you don't want wolves or anything but to go that far? A wolf cannot jump that high."
Genma looked at him carefully. "We have our reasons. And on that point let me give you this warning, and you'd do well to listen to it," he said. They looked at him, surprised when he gave them an intense glare. "Don't go into the forest. Especially at night. Stay away from it, stay out of it...and don't let your curiosity trap you."
Kakashi stared at him while Sasuke blinked bemusedly. His brother Itachi had been right when he said this village was weird. Before they could question, Genma turned and started to walk away.
"I hope you enjoy your stay. Remember my warnings," he called over his shoulder before vanishing back into the hall.
Kakashi and Sasuke turned to look at each other, eyebrows raised.
"...Well, it looks like things will be interesting at most," Kakashi said with a small shrug. Sasuke nodded minutely, looking over the village and seeing a few people staring at them curiously. He sighed, but it couldn't be helped.
"Let's unpack our things then."
When Sasuke had declared the village weird he had been making an understatement. The people were reasonably fine, though a little wary of them and their questions. The older generations were very reserved, answering their questions with avoided answers and vague replies. The younger people were more open, but much of what they told them was the same as the stories they'd heard from surrounding villages.
The main legends of this village were that there was a werewolf that roamed around, killing anyone who got lost in the woods. While that was all well and fine in terms of a legend, their job was to discover what had started it. It wasn't as simple as 'someone got killed by a huge wolf and thus people made up a story'. No, it never was. When a village was this old, small and secluded, stories like that started from something. Usually from travellers who came by, heard the village people speak of the tale and then spread it to others as they carried on.
Sasuke sighed, slumping down onto the bed he was given. It was old and the mattress was a bit lumpy, but it was decent enough. They had only been in the village for a day, but he felt like he'd been here far too long already.
"There you are," Kakashi said, entering the room and moving to sit on his own bed as he undid his shirt buttons. "Well, what did you get so far?"
Sasuke turned his head to speak, listing off the information he got. "This village is quiet, this village is quaint, this village is peaceful, there are wolves in the woods, my clothes make me look like an alien according to a five year old farmer girl and no one wants to talk about Tsunade."
Kakashi chuckled at the outfit comment but nodded. "They seem very tight lipped about her. I'm really curious as to what happened. She didn't sound sick when Itachi last spoke to her. It was almost like she had a heart attack out of the blue."
"What I want to know is why there hasn't been a ceremony, or why there's no sort of memorial set up anywhere. Usually after someone so important dies they have at least a little memorial set up for days so people can say their prayers or respects. But it's like she vanished and they don't care," Sasuke rolled onto his back. "And did you question any of them about Danzou?"
Kakashi shook his head. "Why would I?"
"I did. And almost everyone I spoke to about him became tight-lipped and aggressive. It's as if they were afraid of getting into trouble."
"Well, I assume there would be some kind of disgrace on them if they were too badmouth their village leader," Kakashi reasoned, swinging his legs up and lying down. Sasuke hummed thoughtfully. Something was telling him that there was more going on than meets the eye. Tsunade's sudden death, the village's seemingly irrational fear of the forest, and the fact that Danzou seemed to have been put into power quite quickly despite the recent death of their previous leader. He wasn't a detective by any means, but even he could tell that there was something fishy about it all.
Then again, going around and snooping through a possible murder would only get him in danger.
Night had fallen over the village and Sasuke was ready to fall asleep. He checked his phone, seeing that it was nearing eleven. The village certainly stayed up late, since he could still see people wandering about.
A knock sounded on their door and they both sat up, sharing a look before Kakashi moved to open the door. Genma was standing outside, hands in his pockets.
"I forgot to mention earlier. At midnight everyone goes indoors and locks up tight. If you're outside past that time...it's very dangerous. If you plan to sleep earlier, then make sure that you lock up so that when the midnight bell goes you won't have to get up to do it."
Kakashi was gaping at him and Sasuke walked over, narrowing his eyes. "With a wall surrounding this place, what could possibly scare you enough to make you lock up?" he asked, ready to mentally note everything said. Genma looked frustrated but then he sighed.
"You obviously haven't heard many stories then."
"No, everyone's quite reserved around here. We only know the stories that have spread outside the village," Kakashi said in response, crossing his arms and leaning against the doorway. Sasuke did the same on the other side, the two of them staring at the man with piercing gazes. Genma stared right back, unflinching. He had a small stick of wood in his mouth, and it trembled slightly as he bit it with his teeth and moved it around.
"Fine. I'll tell you the most basic story in a nutshell," he relented and stepped inside. They followed him and he sat down in the living area which held a small couch, a table and chairs and a bookshelf. "They say that there are monsters living in the forest, and that they come out at midnight. There have been...accidents...in the past where people out after midnight have been gravely injured. Some were even killed. Legends say that it's monsters, but true or not there's something dangerous lurking out there, and it often finds a way into the village even with our wall. It's for your own safety that you lock your doors," Genma stood up swiftly, leaving the house before they could call him back.
They stared out of the open door for a moment before facing each other.
"So what did you think of that story?" Kakashi asked sceptically. Sasuke snorted, rolling his eyes.
"Cool story bro, needs more dragons and shit," he mumbled, moving back to his bed and flopping down. Kakashi chuckled, closing the door and locking it like Genma suggested. Sure, he didn't believe in monsters but if there were wolves or other creatures lurking about he'd rather not have to face them. He still remembered their earlier encounter with the massive wolf-fox thing that Sasuke saw.
His eyes widened slightly as he remembered a wolf and a fox being mentioned in the sign that Genma translated for them. He shook his head.
'It's most likely all part of the legend get up,' he reasoned, moving back to his bed. He heard soft snoring coming from the raven and smiled, knowing Sasuke had fallen asleep. He was tired too, so he would follow him soon.
Sasuke woke up, blinking sleep out of his eyes and yawning widely. The room was pitch black and he fumbled around before finding his phone. It read twelve forty-three. Still tired but realizing he was parched, he climbed out of bed. Kakashi was snoring softly in his own cot and Sasuke tip toed out of the room, not cruel enough to wake the other man. He knew that it was hard to get a good rest when on jobs like this. One could never relax properly in a place where they don't feel wanted.
He shuffled through to the kitchen, snatching up a glass he used earlier at dinner to drink from. He rinsed it out and poured himself some water, gulping down the cold liquid and sighing contentedly.
A sound made him tense up, his ears pricked. It sounded like sniffing, but much too loud and rapid to be a human. An animal?
He turned towards the window, wondering if some creature had gotten into the village and was sniffing about for garbage or food. Creeping towards the window, he peered out. The streets were dark and empty, all houses asleep without a single light showing. He squinted, trying to see through the veil of night and find what was snuffling at their door when something moved. It was a shape darker than the night, allowing Sasuke to just barely make it out. It was large, hunched over on all fours. He could vaguely see a pair of pointed ears atop its head, and the outline of fur was distinguishable.
'It must be a wolf or something similar. I wonder how it got in? Maybe there's a hole somewhere in the gate...' he watched as the animal continued to sniff at their door and wondered what it smelt. Maybe it was the scent of food that lingered in the kitchen which was right by the door, separated only by an open archway.
He was just contemplating going back to bed when the creature moved again. His breath caught in his throat when it suddenly grew taller, straightening up from a hunch. He saw the fur prickle and shrink; his eyes adjusted to the light just enough to make out the vaguest shapes. The legs were shifting and suddenly a crack met his ears. He winced, recognizing the sound as a bone snapping and unconsciously wrapped his arms around himself, goose bumps rising on his skin as he imagined a broken bone protruding from flesh.
His eyes watched in avid fascination as the once animalistic figure was now standing straight, looking very much like a man. In the dim light of the night, he saw pale hair.
'Blond?' he wondered, inching closer to the window to see this strange phenomenon. It was definitely a man standing there, and he didn't appear to be wearing clothes. Sasuke found a small blush working its way onto his cheeks, and he was thankful the night was dark and obscured him from seeing anything indecent. He tried to imagine how it was that he had confused a man and a beast as one.
'Perhaps he's one of those people who live in the woods...raised by animals and acting like a Wildman?'
Just then, the man turned and Sasuke gasped aloud. Two vivid blue eyes were staring directly at him through the window, and he felt as if someone had zapped all strength from his body. He couldn't move, staring back at those eyes that were so familiar; they were such an intense blue, but strangely it seemed as if there were two crescent moons reflected in them. A hand pressed against the window, large but slim, and he found his own hand tingling in response. Those eyes never wavered, looking at him as if searching his soul.
Sasuke swallowed heavily, taking a step towards the window and bringing his own hand up. The eyes followed the movement like an owl watching its prey wander through the leaves below. He hesitated briefly, his hand hovering near the window before he pressed his palm flat against the glass, directly over the other hand.
Blue eyes slid to his face, searching him and he stared back, wondering what this strange feeling of peace he felt was. Suddenly, the eyes changed slightly, the corners crinkling and warmth flooding through them. He knew, even if he couldn't visibly see it clearly, that the man on the other side of the window was grinning happily at him. His own lips twitched into a small smile in response, and his hand pressed harder against the glass. He could feel warmth seeping through from the thin separation. This should have scared him, knowing that one hit to the glass would shatter his only protection from this stranger, but he wasn't. He felt calm and safe.
The man pressed his other hand to the glass, leaning closer, and Sasuke caught the tip of his nose. He mimicked the other's movements, both hands now on the glass and he bent down slightly so that their eyes were levelled perfectly. Once more the stunning blue orbs were warm and crinkled at the edges, demonstrating the hidden grin. Sasuke's smile widened; he felt like this was some kind of game one would play with a small child. The warmth in the other's eyes certainly held innocence in it.
A sudden howl from somewhere else made Sasuke jump, his smile dropping in pure surprise. The man's head turned, looking out over the village. Sasuke felt panic surge through him. If there was some kind of vicious creature out there that had hurt and killed villagers before, then this man might be in danger! He tapped on the window, catching the stranger's attention and pointed towards his door.
"Come inside!" he mouthed, not wanting to make too much noise. The man blinked, eyes confused as he tilted his head to the side. Once more Sasuke caught the faintest hint of blond hair in the pathetic light of the stars. "I'll let you in! It's dangerous out there," he mouthed, motioning to the door once more.
The eyes crinkled in amusement and the man shook his head. The hands were pulled back and Sasuke pressed himself closer to the window, watching in horror as the stranger waved to him slightly before starting to walk off to the side.
'Is he crazy?' he wondered and heard a snarl from outside. His heart jumped to his throat when he saw several dark shapes stalking through the streets. These were definitely animals. He could see their ragged fur and hear their growls and snarls. His mind didn't focus on the fact that it should've been near impossible for these animals to get inside the village. All he could focus on was that those vicious looking things were heading in the same direction that the stranger had gone.
Heart thumping furiously, Sasuke hurried over to the door. He unlatched it as quietly as he could and slid it open, peering out. The creatures had moved on, leaving the street empty. He stepped out, closing the door behind him. He didn't want Kakashi getting mauled in his sleep. He didn't hate the man that much.
As quietly as he could he started to run after the stranger and the creatures. He could hear their snarling again and edged around a corner, his eyes widening as he saw the man backed against a wall with the animals surrounding him. Despite the obvious threat, there were no sounds of fear or even any hint of fear in the man.
Sasuke swallowed heavily, wondering what to do. Before he could come up with a plan, one of the beasts let out a ferocious growl and charged forwards.
He hadn't realized he was moving until he felt long, razor sharp teeth sinking into his shoulder. Blood sprayed out, splashing up his neck and jaw and his mouth opened in a silent scream of pain. He heard a gasp from behind him, knowing that the man was surprised at his sudden appearance. Pain was spreading through his body and spots of white and black were bursting in his vision as he choked, trying to breathe through the physical agony he felt.
There was another growl, this one different from before and the beast that had bitten him was thrown off, yelping as it landed several feet away. Sasuke collapsed to his knees, blood running down his shoulder. He felt lightheaded, and the world was spinning wildly. He couldn't even tell if he was falling or if the ground just looked like it was coming up to say hi to his face.
Before he could find out, arms had stopped his progress, catching him and turning him over to face the sky. The clouds had finally rolled away, and he saw a silvery gold outline of hair, a shadowy face staring down at him with lips set into a small gape of surprise. Faintly, he thought he saw markings on the man's cheeks, but he was too distracted by those eyes that peered into his. Concern, surprise and a hint of sadness were swimming in those blue crystals, and he smiled up at the stranger.
"R-run," he grunted, the edges of his vision starting to go black. "Don't d-die..."
He was gently placed on the floor, a hand on the back of his neck trailing across his skin as it pulled away. Through his rapidly fading vision he saw the golden haired man stand and look down at him.
"You are different from the rest of them."
Sasuke wanted to berate him for standing around when he could hear the rest of the beasts still there, snarling. With a grimace, he tried to tell the man to stop goofing around and run away.
"Go to sleep," the man said before he could say a word. "Things will be alright in the morning. Just relax...and forget."
Sasuke's eyelids were so heavy. He couldn't stay awake even if he tried. The blurry image of the man hunching, and a distant crack of bones snapping accompanied his slow descent into unconsciousness, finished off with an ethereal howl that reverberated in his soul.
Shouts and the tolling of a bell met his ears, and he groaned, his eyes twitching before he managed to slide them open. He was met with the sight of a wooden roof, and it was then that he registered the lumpy softness under his back.
A flash of blue eyes, blood and pain echoed in his memory and he sat up with a gasp. Confusion spread through him when he found that he was not lying out on dirt, covered in blood and dying, but instead in his bed in the house they were given. Kakashi was in his bed too, also sitting up and yawning widely as he scratched at his head.
"I wonder what all the noise is for," he mumbled, throwing his blanket off and getting to his feet. He looked over at Sasuke, a brow rising. "You okay? You look a bit pale...okay well, more than usual," he added.
Sasuke pressed a hand to his shoulder, feeling no pain. He pulled his shirt down, straining to see but there wasn't a single mark.
"What are you doing?" Kakashi asked.
Sasuke took deep breaths, running a hand through his hair. "I...I had a...really vivid dream I guess," he muttered. It must have been a dream. He was in his bed, alive and without a scratch. But the dream had been so real!
"Come on, let's go see what the commotion is about," Kakashi suggested, slipping on his shoes and a jacket. Sasuke followed suit, glancing at the kitchen window. He paused, squinting his eyes to see better.
There were hand prints on the window.
As if a bucket of ice water had been dumped on him he gasped, moving to the window and staring at the faint smudges of hand marks. There were two on the inside and two on the outside.
"But...what?" he muttered, confused. Had he only dreamt the part with the wolves? In that case, what had happened to the stranger?
"Sasuke, come on! Looks like something big happened! Everyone's gathering around the corner!"
'Around the corner...that's where it...no way,' he thought, following Kakashi. His heart thudded loudly in his ears as he turned, seeing a gathered crowd of disturbed villagers.
"Out of the way! Elder Danzou is here!" Genma called, shooing a path for the old man cluttering along. As the crowd dispersed somewhat, the two journalists saw what had drawn all the attention.
Lots of it.
And there were several bodies strewn in the area. Sasuke felt like his stomach had dropped to the floor and run away screaming. He recognized those bodies as the wolves from the night before. Their jaws were gaping, some snapped with blood dribbling down their furry skin. Deep gashes were in their sides, claw marks across their bodies. One looked like its throat had been torn out. And the blood was everywhere.
Sasuke's hand came up to his shoulder again, feeling the spot that he had gotten the bite. But it wasn't there, and he couldn't feel any kind of reminiscent pain that it had ever happened.
'What's going on?'
"Sir, it looks like these wolves got into a fight among themselves," Genma said, inspecting one of the animal corpses. "There injuries were definitely caused by another, stronger animal."
"But there," Danzou said, pointing to a spray of blood on the ground. Sasuke gulped. It was the same area he had rushed to when he got bitten. "That is not animal blood. The colour does not match that of these wolves. That is human blood."
Shocked gasps started to scatter among the crowd and people looked right and left.
"Is anyone missing?" Genma asked loudly, looking around. "Is everyone in your family safe? Did anyone venture outside last night past midnight?"
Sasuke kept quiet.
Villagers started to talk amongst themselves, calling out names and receiving replies as they searched for whose blood it was. Sasuke stared at the splatter, his face pale as he recalled the events of the night before. How was it possible? He didn't have a scratch on him, and that indicated he'd been dreaming, yet here was the proof that it had been real!
His eyes widened slightly. Had he perhaps only dreamt the part where he stepped in? Had he actually watched the stranger get attacked before running back to his bed and forcing himself to forget his cowardice?
He rubbed his shoulder, wondering on that possibility.
"Sasuke, are you alright?" Kakashi asked again, looking over at him in concern. "What did you dream about?"
"...Nothing important," Sasuke mumbled. He studied one of the wolf corpses, seeing the deep claw marks in its side. That was definitely made by an animal. But what animal? He looked at another one that had a broken jaw, and saw that one of its front fangs had been broken, the tip to the middle missing.
"No one is missing?" Genma asked the crowd and received confirmations from all around. He looked at the blood and then at Danzou. "Sir?"
Danzou hummed thoughtfully, his visible eye staring at the patch on the ground. "...We shall have to wait and see if anyone comes forward with news of a missing person. Or perhaps there was an outsider in the village last night that fell prey to the lure of the moon," he said.
Shocked gasps sounded from all the villagers and they began to converse in hushed whispers, casting fearful glances towards the wall and the forest beyond.
Sasuke and Kakashi shared glances before making their way through the crowd towards Danzou.
"Sir, sorry to bug you so early, but could you perhaps explain what you mean by that last statement?" Kakashi asked pleasantly, pulling out a notepad. Sasuke stood behind him, hands in his pockets.
Danzou turned to them, regarding them quietly. Genma walked over, a stern expression on his face.
"I'm sorry but it's much too early for this! Besides, can't you see we've got a bit of a problem—"
"It is alright, Genma," Danzou interrupted and the man fell silent, nodding. "What I meant, gentleman, is that there is something lurking in those woods. It is something unnatural and dangerous, and it is out for blood. It is something that, given what we've seen, thrives in the light of the moon. It is a creature that uses that heavenly entity to lure the weak of heart and mind, entrapping them in its snares and devouring them. It is truly...a monster."
The old man turned and walked away, leaving two stunned journalist and a deeply frowning assistant in his wake. Genma stood there for a moment, his frown dark and his eyes shadowed by something haunted. Sasuke wondered what was bugging him; it looked as if he was dying to say something, but was far too conflicted and, dare he say, scared to do so.
"I must be going," Genma eventually said, and without a backwards glance at them he followed after Danzou.
Kakashi and Sasuke shared another look.
"Well, looks like today might prove to be interesting," Kakashi sighed. Sasuke nodded, looking back towards the disaster zone and placing a hand over his shoulder. He let out a small breath, massaging the area he had been bitten, or thought he had. His fingers pressed something under his skin and he winced violently, feeling a shock of pain slice through him.
"Ah, shit!" he cursed, gripping his shoulder as he felt it throb and sting.
"Sasuke? What's wrong?" Kakashi asked, holding his hands out to him lest he fall over. Sasuke hissed slightly, feeling the strange lump under his skin. It was quite low, just below the area he'd been touching before. And every time he pressed too hard, it would send another slicing wave of pain through his shoulder.
"Nothing!" he gasped in response to Kakashi's inquiry. "Just...pinched a nerve or something."
"...Maybe you should go have a nap. You've been acting weird since you woke up," Kakashi said, waving him towards the house. "Maybe you didn't get enough beauty sleep and so your brain is short-circuiting in your ugliness."
"Ugh, go drown in a lake," Sasuke groaned, but walked away towards the house. A nap did sound nice, but he had something to do before then.
Walking into the house, he closed the door behind him and made his way into the small bathroom. A mirror was positioned over the sink, next to the shower and the toilet. He hissed again as he moved his shoulder and pulled off his shirt. Turning, he craned his neck to see his back in the mirror.
'There,' he thought, locating the bump in his shoulder. It was an odd shape, slightly curved and located under his skin. It was too deep to be a splinter of some kind, and felt far too solid when he pressed on it. Not to mention the pain.
Whatever it was, it wasn't supposed to be there.
Biting his lip, he looked around the bathroom, seeing nothing. Walking into the bedroom he rifled through his bags, questioning his own resolve as he found the object he was looking for and pulled it out.
Staring at the small switchblade he had gotten ages ago, he took a shaky breath and walked back to the bathroom. Testing the edge of the knife against his finger, he was both pleased and anxious to see it was still sharp and efficient. He turned again, looking over his shoulder and taking another shaky breath as he pulled the knife up, awkwardly holding it to the area on his shoulder.
With a gasp that held the faintest whimper in it, he pressed the tip of the blade into his skin at the top of the strange lump. It pierced through, and blood began to seep out, dripping down his back in slow drops. He panted, pressing harder and sinking the blade in deeper. Sucking in a breath he began to slice down through the skin over the lump, grunting in pain. More blood ran down and he blinked his eyes to rid them of the moisture. He didn't like pain, and this was hurting like hell. But he needed to get that lump out. He needed to see what it was and figure out how it got there.
Letting out a low whimper, he finally finished cutting an opening slit over the lump and dropped the knife, gasping and resting shaky hands on the sink. Working past the pain, he reached around again and pressed his fingers on either side of the lump, digging forwards to coax the foreign thing out. It hurt and stung and blood was now staining the tips of his fingers as well as the waistline of his pants, but he bit his lip and kept at it. Finally, something began to emerge from the self-made exit wound, and he pressed harder, waiting for it to come out enough. When it was visible, he grabbed at it with the tips of his fingers, managing to get a hold of it and pull it all the way out. A soft cry accompanied the move and he pressed his unoccupied hand over the cut, stemming the blood flow.
Breathing heavily, he held the object in his hand. It felt hard, but also seemed to be light. A hollow bone of some kind?
He held it up, grimacing when it was covered in blood. He also needed to put something over that cut. Placing the bloody object on the side of the sink he searched the house for a medic-kit, thankfully finding one on Kakashi's nightstand. Grabbing some gauze and pads, he washed the cut, pleased to see that it would heal fine. Awkwardly putting the gauze on and taping it down, he patted the area and was satisfied when no unexpected pain greeted the action.
Turning his attention to the item on the sink, he turned on the tap and washed it, rubbing away the blood with his fingers and revealing the true form of the object.
His breath caught in his throat as he held it up to his eyes, examining it. There was no mistake.
It was a broken tooth from one of the wolves outside. From the wolf that bit him the night before.
'...What happened after I blacked out?'
:) And so we begin the journey of Cursed... Hopefully, I'll be able to update next Monday. I'd love to know what you think of this in a review! ^_^ Until next time!