Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any material retaining to it. I only take claim to the plot of this story, and only that.
A/N: This is a joint fanfiction that got put on the backburner, until now. Darklost and I aren't going to say much until everyone has read this first chapter, so we look forward to hearing your comments and thoughts on this fanfiction, so if you have any questions, please let me know and they will be answered in the next update, but please read the chapter more closely before jumping to any assumptions, thank you. Till then...
All she could hear was the pounding of her heart as the blood rushed through her ears. Her adrenaline was pumping like crazy from her fear. She had no idea where she was. Her panicked, young mind could only register that she was in the forest and what would look good for hiding. She kept trying to blink the stream of blood that was leaking down the side of her face, trickling down the corner of her right eye and staining down the front of her white kimono. The wound on her head looked worse than it really was, but it still throbbed painfully against her skull. But that was the least of her worries. The cause of her injury, and others that were hidden underneath her kimono was steadily catching up with her, taking his time. It was meant to insult her.
He was purposely making her run herself close to death and appear that he could catch her at any time. She knew very well he could. He was much older than her and he was her own father.
She had failed her training session with her father: again. Normally, after she failed a training session, she would just get a few light bruises, maybe one major bruise as a reminder to do better next time. This time, though, she had performed miserably in front of the elders. When it was over and they left with a dismissive look at her, her father struck her over the head, even after he had stated the spar was over. She knew she really messed up this time, just from the strength behind the blow made her realize the anger her father had over her failure. He never struck her so viciously like that before, and he never explained why. He just silent seethed at her with cold, angry eyes, none of it showing on his stoic face, but his eyes could not hold back the disappointment and frustration he had for her.
It was when he moved to strike her again that she ran.
No one in the compound moved to help her. None dared. He was the head of her clan, and if he chose to punish whoever he deemed deserve it, no help would come, because then they would receive the same punishment for interference. So she ran as fast as she could out of the compound, hoping to find someone that might save her: again, she was proven wrong.
It late in the evening, so almost everyone was heading for their homes or already there. Then she thought maybe a squad of those masked-men called Anbu would show up and calm her father down. She saw no sign of them as she ran probably through the entire village, but then she sensed her father quickly approaching behind her. In pure fright, she darted in one direction, not caring where she was going, just so long as it was away from him. Now she was in a forest she did not recognized, feeling her already tired body giving out on her. She had to find a place to hide, and she needed to do it soon.
Her clan had a very precious gift, a Kekkei-Genkai; in particular, a dojutsu called "Byakugan". It allowed her clan to see every direction at once, and it allowed them so see passed solid objects, and even stretch out to see far distances when needed, and it can see the chakra coils of every living being. It was one of the greatest dojutsu in all the world and horded feverishly by her clan to keep its power to only them.
But what many did not know was that there was one weakness to their all-seeing eye…it couldn't see exactly every direction. There was one blind spot, right behind the neck. This was the spot she had tried to keep herself in to stay hidden from her father, but in order to make sure she could, she had to keep her Byakugan activated so she could see where he was so she could position herself correctly. If she could just wait him out until he gave up chasing her, calm down for whatever reason he was so angry with her, maybe then it would be safe to go back home and receive one of his stern lectures, maybe just get slapped again, but it would be far better than what he may be planning to do to her right now.
She prayed he would leave soon. There was another weakness the Byakugan had.
It put a great strain on the user's eyes if used for too long, but it varied from person to person. She was one of the few that actually could use her Kekkei-Genkai for a long time, but she had been using it through her spar with her father and since she had been running, and she was just now starting to feel the effect. If he did not leave then it would become harder and harder for her to discern his chakra and soon would not be able to see stay in his blind spot. Another issue she had to worry about was her chakra. It was rapidly fleeting her, and keeping her dojutsu activated was just burning it away even faster, and when it was out, she would pass out from chakra exhaustion and then it wouldn't matter if she could run and hide. She'd give out and her father could just carry her back to the compound, then she'd receive more punishment once she recovered to know it was happening to her.
A part of her knew she was only making it worse on herself. Whatever she did since the moment she was born was always wrong in the eyes of her father, and it only resulted in some kind of reprimand that ended with her in pain; either a bruise or a scar on her shattered, fragile heart. She knew she was weak. It wasn't in her to cause harm to any of her family, but yet, they demanded every day that she needed to be strong. Strong for what? To lead a family so full of bitterness that only hurt their own blood? She wanted none of that! She wanted to be happy, and her family to be happy, but all they seemed to only care about who they saw as weak with their dojutsu and who was strong; and keeping to their traditions.
Those traditions were what were causing all this pain and anger; they ran all the way back to when her clan was first born. They only cared about keeping their power safe from outsiders, from themselves. This paranoia caused the clan itself to split themselves in half. Her side, the Main caste were the leaders, the 'royal' members. The others on the Branch caste: were slaves. Their enslavement to the Main was branded on them with a seal, one that allowed the Main to control their fate and to keep anyone from learning the secrets of the Byakugan, even after death. This seal also allowed the Main caste to inflict massive amounts of pain on any Branch member by frying out their own brain, and if they choice, kill them. In cruelty to the Branch members, this seal was called the "Caged-Bird" seal, or so she secretly believed.
She was too young to learn how to use the seal to harm anyone from the Branch, and she never wanted to learn it. She would refuse to cause that kind of pain just because they were labeled inferior by petty standards. It was not right. That was why she was so hesitant. She was too soft-hearted and that was seen as weakness, but she could not lie to herself.
From how her father looked at her, though, she feared that she wouldn't have to worry about using the seal…it would be branded on her, whether she was the daughter of the clan leader of the Hyuga Clan. It was just a matter of staying that fate as long as her flickering chakra reserves could last, and it was only a matter of moments before they ran out.
What she did not realize was that she was being watched.
A curious creature not very foreign in this forest, what many of the humans from the nearby village called "The Forest of Death", was watching from high above her. The creature was a rare sight to mortals and was nearly believed to only exist in the realm of fantasy. Her kind were secretive only when because they had no reason to interact with humans. They had seen what they could do, using their own chakra to wage war upon themselves and causing only needless death.
Although, her kind couldn't really say they were any better than the humans. They were feared for their power and the destruction they could create. Many believed they were demons and monsters because of their fierce nature. Some parts of the world thought they were wild spirits and if captured would grant whoever caught them their deepest desires. That might be partly why they chose to remain apart from humans. It seemed foolish to the creature that these humans could believe all their wishes could just be given to them simply by catching one of her kind. She often pondered about the humans, having watched them as they used these woods for their trails and training. She admired that they could tap into their own inner power and was amazed at what they could do with their chakra. It was why she liked to linger near them, to see what else they might come up with, but she still could not understand them at times. This one being that time as she watched the human male, who seemed to be boiling with rage as he sought the cowering human child.
Why did this man want to hurt a child? As far as she could tell from their scent, they were from the same brood, they were blood, and yet this child was running for her life from him and she could sense his aggressive intent. What could this timid child have done to cause such anger from her own brood? She seemed too innocent, even by human standards, to have done something bad. Then again, to her all humans were alike and all acted in similar ways, but this child was really frightened, as if…
She widened her eyes as realization dawned on her.
From her spot above, her swept back mane of red hair flickered with sparks. She watched on, making a decision right then and there should what she feared come to pass.
The human male finally seemed to locate her, if the motion of his head whipping right in the same direction the girl was cowering was any indicator, and then dashed with the speed only achieved by humans after years of training. He appeared right over her in moments and towered there, looking down. She could not make out his face as she was looking directly at the top of his head, but from the expression on the child's, she was sure it was not at all pleasant.
Then the human male spoke: "This is for the betterment of the clan…you will learn…or you will perish."
He bent his arm back and chakra began to form around his opened palm, and that was all she needed to see. With a speed the same as a lightning strike, she was right beside the child and wrapped her arms around her. As she stood up, her body lit aflame, her mane becoming a wild torch of fire and her skin glowed as brightly as heated coal, but the child did not suffer from the fire. The human male on the other hand was almost thrown back from the burst of heat that slammed into him. She bore hate filled eyes, blazing like two miniature suns, and pulled back her lips in a snarl.
"Wrecked human," she spat, smoke spewing in great puffs from between her teeth, the corners of her mouth leaking out more flames.
"W-What are you!? Let go of my daughter this instant!" the human demanded, sounding as if he expected to be obeyed.
His tone only caused more fire to whip out from her body; another wave of heat shot out from her and knocked the pitiful human off his feet.
"BE SILENT!" She roared, then upon realizing she probably was scaring the trembling girl in her arms, she reined back her rage.
Her thunderous voice did however make the human freeze as he tried to get back to his feet.
"You call this little one your own? And yet, you would strike her in cold rage?" she continued, steeping toward him. Where her bare feet touched the ground, it was scorched, leaving a trail of little flames behind her. "You believe you have the right to hurt a child in anger? This cannot stand." She then began to glow. "You will learn what real anger is, human…One day you will understand the repercussions of your misguided hate."
Her body burst into flames as her arms hugged the child close to her and a hand was placed over her eyes to shield them from the brightness, and then they both disappeared. The human was left flabbergasted to what he just witnessed and remained where he was for some time, until he finally realized…some creature just abducted his daughter.
Somewhere in the realm that the mortals have labeled the 'Summoning World', a spiral of fire rose up on a tropical-like island with a massive volcanic terrain at its center. At the foot of a temple, the flaming woman began her ascent up a flight of stoned steps, whispering soft, warm words to the crying, frighten human child she had saved. When she reached the top of the steps, a brilliant temple stood before them, all around it were columns as high as the trees from the forest she had just departed from, pouring down from their top flowed lava down into artificial cervices that channeled the lava around the temple. Smaller ones lined up to the entrance with powerful flames waving lazily on top. All around the temple sat more woman-like creatures, all of them lounging happily in the heat of the sun and chatting amongst themselves.
At the entrance stood a very tall, massively built male. He towered over all, even the other males of her kind, and he watched her approach him with his thick muscular arms crossed over his chest. His head was crowned with a living fire, crested by a pair of huge red-curved horns, curling out over his wide shoulders and spiraling up some to pointed tips. This solid, square jaw was shifted to the side as he frowned past long, curved tusks. He was bare-chested and yet he had armored stubs seemingly integrated into his skin, like piercings almost, but was really a carapace-like shell made of the same material as his horns. Two of them stuck out of his shoulders like short spikes, another covered his collarbone and ran down the middle of his wide chest. On his forearms and outer-thighs burned more open flames up on his head, and his legs were double-jointed past his knees and in place of feet, he had black hoofs. The only garment on his body was a red loincloth that covered his modesty and black, stubbed bracelets around his wrists and over his upper thighs.
By definition, he was a warrior class, one of their strongest, and as it happened to be, her little brother.
"Kikyo, why do you have a human child with you?" He spoke with a harsh, growling tone. He did not mean to be so fierce with his words, it was just how he always sounded and being so powerful, it wasn't uncommon that his voice was so rough.
"I found her being attacked by her own kin in the Forest of Death, Yajuu," Kikyo replied, noticing she was quickly gaining the attention of the others, but ignored them as she continued right up to her brother, then whispered down to the child. "Shh, he's not that bad, really. He just looks scary. He's really a kitty at heart."
The warrior frowned even more at her. "I heard that, nee-chan."
She just smiled up at him without a care. "I need to see the Old One."
He looked as if he might raise an issue, but then shook his horned head and stepped aside. "You're in luck. He just finished his trek from the volcano."
"And is he in one of his moods?" she asked cautiously, coming to a halt and peered over her shoulder.
"…No, that's the odd thing," Yajuu said, his frown somehow deepening. "When he returned…he seemed calm."
"C-Calm?" Kikyo uttered.
He nodded, flickers of flame sparking out from his flaming mane. "Indeed, I know not why, but he has not had one of his rants since he returned. Be wary of what you do next, nee-chan, it is rare when he is like this and this will make his behavior very unpredictable."
This left her perplexed for a moment. The Old One was always known for his tantrums and hot-temper. Since the first of their kind had made this island their home, he was the first to step on this land and constructed a home for their kind, away from the other creatures and animals that would consort to being called upon to war for humans. He did not wish for his people to be used for needless fighting and see them die, seeing all humans as vile, greedy things. Most of his infamous rants were based mostly on his own experiences with humans, but whenever he mentioned these moments, he'd begin to thrash and it wasn't very safe to be around him. It was up to Yajuu to keep the old one from getting too out of hand, and when times came where even his great strength could not hold back the Old One, it was time for him to make his way up to the great volcano, where his tantrums would be harmless to all.
When he finally tired, he would make his own way back down from the volcano and mediate in the lava pools…until he was irked again by his old memories, and even then, he was always in the best of terms they used…'cranky'.
Steeling herself for what may happen; Kikyo ventured into the temple with the child and hoped that things worked out. The interior was wide and spacious. Bluish-white marble pillars stood erect over the only pathway that was not submerged in lava, the rest of the floor oozed with melted rock that made up the pools, resting in the center of the pool was the old one. He was by far a giant in size, with a face like a lion with a fiery mane like one, and curved dark-bluish horns that crested his entire forehead, with another set curving around his long face. Like all the other males, he had spikes on his shoulder, but his was tall and curved back. His frame was hunched over, the only sign of his age, but with his feral appearance, it seemed only fitting. Folded over his crossed legs were extremely long, bluish talons that made up his fingers, and like all males, he wore metal bracelets around his wrists and his thighs, but he also wore a beaded necklace with claws decorated into it.
As she neared him, she began to worry that she may have made a great mistake. It was easy to deal with the Old One in his normal temper, but this serene giant she was walking toward seemed very foreign to her. He appeared to be at ease for the first time since she has known him, and like her brother said, he looked…calm.
She thought it would be better to come back another time, but as she started to retreat, the Old One opened his eyes, boring two molten glowing orbs of orange directly at her. He raised one talon and waved at her to approach him. "You have a human with you…"
"Y-Yes, Old One," Kikyo murmured, slowly approaching him. "I…I know you do not like humans, but please hear me out!"
He silenced her with a growl. "Before my last journey to the molten depths of the volcano…I would not!" His aged voice rumbled like the earth when it was angry. "I would not stand to have their kind step foot in our sanctuary…but that was before."
"…And now?" she asked curiously.
"Bring her forward, let me see the human and then I shall speak more," he ordered her with an edge in his voice that left no discussion.
Fearing she may have doomed the child to a worse fate, with trepidation, she stepped toward him, hugging the human child close to her.
Once she was at the end of the pathway, the Old one stand up, shaking his head to shake off any droplets of lava on him, as a cat shaking its fur loose after being woken. He leaned forward and gazed down at the frightened human, sniffing deeply at her, and then settled back down into the pool. "Hmm, so small…I've forgotten how small they can be."
"Yes, they can be," she agreed, still unsure how his behavior.
He grunted some. "For many ages I have voiced my opinions of these humans…but my reasons were always justified."
"…Y-You've never spoke of them before," Kikyo said.
He nodded. "Because I did not wish to hear them with my own voice. The mere memories alone would send my blood boiling beyond control…but things are different." He raised a talon and stroked the top of the child's head with amazing tenderness for a creature of his size. "Once…before we came to this island…I was called to their world to fight."
"You had a human summoner?!" Kikyo said in amazement.
He grunted in reply. "It was so. I had a contract with humans that would allow them to use my strength and flames to fight when their own was not enough! I fought and fought…always fought, but no matter how many victories I brought my summoner and those that followed after them…their thirst could not be quenched. Their desire for power burned hotter than any flames we could conjure! But being young, I continued to answer the call…my code demanded I answer until my last summoner perished, when I could no longer withstand their endless bloodlust, I denied the next human that tried to be my summoner and fled. It was then that I found our kin and brought them here to this island…away from the humans. I could not allow any of our brethren to be used as tools of war for them…"
"Old One…why after all this time do you speak of your past?" Kikyo asked, odd at herself to have found the courage to speak.
"Because I had a vision," he stated, pointing down at the child. "I saw a human woman standing amongst us that would be like us, but not. She would aid another human, one that will put an end to the cycle of hate that has plagued mankind since its birth…and we could live among them once again."
"This child?" Kikyo spoke in awe.
"The very fact that you have brought her here, even knowing my distaste for humanity, proves that my vision will come to pass," the Old One stated with a nod. "I cannot hold a blind eye anymore to the world. The Ifrit clan must do what we must to see that the prophecy is fulfilled." He gazed down at the girl and once more stroked her tiny head. "I smell much fear in you…and I sense a anger buried deep inside you, an anger you have put apart from yourself…hmm, yes." He scratched his fiery chin in thought. "You are the one…you shall live among us, be trained by us…and one day lead us back to the world I forced the Ifrits to hide from."
It seemed all too much for the child to take in at once. Her injuries and her exhaustion, with the added overwhelming Old One's word, she fainted.
"Hmm…I see we have a lot of work cut out with this one," The Old One murmured.
Kikyo sighed and stroked the child's cheek. "Indeed we do." She then smiled down at her, glad that everything did indeed work out as she had hoped. "May I be the one that trains her, Old One?"
"If that is your desire, then yes, young Kikyo. You will be her teacher and show her how to use the inner flame. Yes…" He once again stroked his chin, gazing down at the unconscious girl with determined eyes. "If she proves herself worthy…I may once again allow a human…to be my summoner."