It was cold.

Cold, and dark. Not to mention there was a musty sort of smell in the air that made his nose twitch. There was a sudden urge to pinch it closed, or even rub it... only to find out that his hands were bound.

He shifted his body slightly, only to realize that while he wasn't really bound – instead, he was packed into a container that didn't have any room for maneuvering.

Panic would have been the first step for most humans, but Naruto Uzumaki wasn't like most... not to mention that he wasn't entirely human either. Not anymore, anyway. At least, that's what he told himself as he started waking up from his long slumber, old memories moving to the forefront.

A clicking noise made him hold his breath, but only for a second until he remembered what it was. The release mechanism for his coffin of sorts, like the kind that vampires supposedly used. Not that he was one – on the contrary, he'd fought alongside many vampires in his own long, storied history – but he'd never partaken in the act of drinking blood for sustenance.

Of course, none of the vampires in the past would remember who he was, as most of the blood-suckers he'd fought alongside had died to their own 'creator', Alucard.

He inhaled deeply to let out a sigh, only to nearly choke as the musty smell invaded his nostrils. The blond managed to hold it off – just barely – as there was a loud thump, followed by the sound of stone grinding on stone as the top of his box was pushed to the side.

Light began to enter his vision as the lid was shifted, though his eyes quickly adjusted. While his current power levels were completely suppressed and would take some time to return, certain aspects of his once-human anatomy had changed long ago and were permanent whether he had his old power flowing in his veins or not.

It took perhaps a half a minute for the lid to be completely removed, and needing no time to let his eyes adjust, Naruto slowly pushed himself upright, taking a brief look around. How much time had it been since-

His current thought process stopped abruptly as his crystal blue eyes settled on what appeared to be the only other occupant of his chamber. Someone who – while quite powerful in his own right – Naruto was secretly grateful upon his last sealing that he'd never have to deal with the man again. He wasn't a bad man, per-se, but definitely gave off a creepy vibe.

So, in an attempt to make his voice as deadpan as possible, as dry as his throat was he only managed to croak out his name in a half-whisper.


It didn't take but a moment for the half-hidden face to break out into a wide grin. "Ah, Naruto-kun! I'm so glad you remember me!"

Grumbling internally, Naruto shifted himself so that his legs lifted up over the side of his stone box, and with a short grunt he managed to propel himself over the side and onto solid ground. His muscles twitched briefly from the exertions and the need to keep his balance, but otherwise he didn't collapse. It seemed he was finally getting used to this whole sealing thing.

"Unfortunately I don't think I could ever forget you. What's with the getup?"

"Ah, this?" The man named Tenmei Mikogami chuckled briefly as he fingered his hood. "Well, I'll have you know I'm the headmaster of a school now, and the students all seem to enjoy a certain degree of mystery. Many of them seem to have made it a mission to see what lies under the hood!"

The man seemed unnaturally giddy, and for a very brief moment the blond was reminded of one of his first true teachers long ago, a man named Kakashi. However those were thoughts for another time, and he pushed them aside in an attempt to figure out what was going on right now.

"That's nice and all," Naruto drawled, "But the real question I should be asking is what I'm doing back out here already. I've never been unsealed by the same person before. You don't look all that much different either, nor has your aura changed a great deal. It can't have been that long."

The man known as The Exorcist finally looked away, sighing briefly. "I was hoping to avoid it, as the limitations of the seal that keep you contained are well known to a person like me. Releasing it as soon as I did was a risky move, but things are moving out of my control faster than I thought possible."

Naruto folded his arms over his chest before leaning back slightly to rest against the cool stone of his 'coffin'. "Where is Fuhai? Is this not something the two of you could handle?"

"Unfortunately, he appears to be currently indisposed." At this, the hooded man's look soured. "I have been unable to contact Touhou for the better part of three months. But before I get too far ahead of myself I should probably inform you... the Shuzen vampire clan managed to release Akasha Bloodriver from the seal she was using to contain Alucard almost forty years ago. Unfortunately, about seven years ago he was about to break free from his imprisonment so she had to re-seal him."

Naruto's eyes narrowed. "I went over that original sealing method with her. It should have been foolproof. What happened?"

Tenmei shrugged. "I don't know the details, other than he awoke again roughly nine or ten years after you were re-sealed. Akasha did what she could to contain him, but ended up sealing him once again before he regained full power. She was strangely hard to contact in the years leading up to Alucard being re-sealed. I always suspected foul play, but alas – no proof."

The blond leaned forward, away from the stone, and moved his hands to rub at his temples. Why couldn't anything ever be simple? "So by my estimation it's only been what, a little over two hundred years since I was sealed last?"

"Correct. The chamber will take at least another two years to re-seal you successfully and mask your power level."

"Tell me something I don't know," Naruto grumbled. "My power is also going to take much longer to return this time since I've been unsealed too early, so I hope this isn't an emergency."

Mikogami's smile returned slightly. "No, nothing major has happened yet. However I'm sure that at least someone will make a move within the next year, at least."

Naruto stared at the man, waiting for him to explain further. However, Mikogami simply walked toward the exit of the sealing chamber, waving a hand briefly over his shoulder.

"Let's go to my office. I have some things to show and give you, and a lot more to explain so that you can get up to speed."

Moka Akashiya hummed quietly to herself as she went over the new material from homeroom. There was a lot of quiet background noise as people talked amongst themselves, but she put off talking to others for the moment in favor of getting organized.

Nekonome-sensei had quickly summarized her introduction, since she had arrived late to class due to her anemia. It was everything that she already knew, but it was nice to get a reminder that she didn't have to go to a human school anymore.

Turning her head slightly to the left, she saw one of her classmates who she literally ran into just outside the school – Tsukune Aono. Perhaps she was a bit more attached to him already than she should be, but he seemed so nice and friendly... not to mention how his blood tasted. It was almost as if...

Moka shook her head slightly. It wasn't possible, she was in a place for monsters only now.

Her thoughts stopped as the door to the classroom opened quietly to admit another student into the room. Moka couldn't help but blink a few times as she took in his appearance, only somewhat aware that the noise level in the room had completely dropped as everyone sized up the new arrival.

The boy walked over to the desk to stand next to Nekonome-sensei, his hand outstretched toward her with a piece of paper clasped in it.

"Sorry for being late, sensei. I had a meeting with the Chairman that went a little longer than we expected."

The teacher grabbed the paper with a quick swipe before opening it and glancing at the writing. She nodded once before setting it on her desk and turning to face the teen once again.

"Since we've already done introductions, why don't you tell the others who you are before you take the seat in the back corner over there by the window?"

The boy nodded, then promptly performed a quick bow. "My name is Naruto Uzumaki. I hope we all get along." That said, Moka watched as he quickly scanned the room, perhaps to see if he recognized anyone. She thought that his bright blue gaze might have rested on her for a second longer than any other, but it was probably just her imagination.

Like everyone else though, she watched as he moved over to the far aisle, walking down the row of desks to the very last one. Her gaze passed over Tsukune, who obviously flinched when Naruto walked by for whatever reason, but other than that the blond's trek to his desk was uneventful.

Turning back to face the front of the room, she grabbed a pen and started to copy the lesson plan that was on the board. It may not have been due today, but there was nothing wrong with working ahead.

This class had to be the most boring event of Naruto's life. While it was nice to catch up on the way things changed over time, it hadn't been all that long since his last unsealing, so unlike the periods between his previous sealings not nearly as much had changed. Even if he was only unsealed for about three months last time, he made sure to use Shadow Clones to get as caught up as he could.

But now... now he had to go to school. Why? Mikogami wanted him to monitor two people in this class – Moka Akashiya and Tsukune Aono.

The first was somewhat obvious. To Naruto, who felt like he had seen Akasha Bloodriver barely a week ago, now knew that the female vampire had a daughter with the head of the Shuzen clan roughly sixteen years ago. The girl was definitely a spitting image of her mother, the similarity was so uncanny that he believed there had to be something unnatural about it. Mikogami wouldn't say a thing, however.

Wouldn't or couldn't... Naruto wasn't sure which.

Of course it was an interesting little tidbit that Akasha barely looked twenty-five and would easily have been over 300 years old. Naturally, he could only estimate her age – he never asked her during the brief time when they fought side by side or when he was teaching her a few seals to contain Alucard.

As for Alucard... he was estimated to be roughly about 600 years old. He was supposedly the first vampire, and continued to become obsessed with power. So much so that he lost himself to his beast form – absorbing other monsters with wild abandon, until he was finally put down roughly 200 years ago.

Naruto's eyes flickered away from Moka as the girl stood up, only to hear her greet Tsukune and start pulling the boy out of the classroom.

The boy was supposed to be a human. Nothing special about him. Mikogami apparently tried to find a rather unassuming boy to play companion to Moka, one that would hopefully stumble upon trouble around the school and need to be helped, or even rescued.

The Chairman had gambled that eventually Moka would learn to use her own inherited Shinso powers so that they could get her help if they ever needed to fight Alucard again. Naruto felt it was too big a gamble, and Mikogami reluctantly agreed – hence the blond being released from his seal again. Not to mention how young the girl was. While Naruto had his own experiences and a lot of power to fall back on, Moka was completely fresh, inherited power or not.

Naruto's eyes drifted up to the clock, to see that it was currently time for a break. Looking around the classroom, he noted that many of his fellow classmates had already moved into their own groups. Moka had pulled Tsukune out of the classroom, and shortly after they left a few other boys got up and went through the door as well.

A sudden burst of giggles had him looking over to see the source, only to see another group of four girls looking at him – then quickly turning away and giggling again once he met their collective gaze.

Just great.

Sighing, the blond stood up and made a rather quick dash for the exit. He had no intention of hanging around in case one of those giggly girls got an idea that he was interested in them. No, he learned long ago that any sort of personal relationships just weren't going to work out... not with the kind of power he contained.

Well, at full power, anyway. But he wouldn't be at that level again for a while.

Moving out into the hallway, Naruto looked around briefly before walking off in what he believed was a random direction. There were a lot of people in the halls, though he supposed he shouldn't be terribly surprised since it was the first day of school. There were probably a lot of monsters trying to find their way around campus, or older students trying to locate friends – or rivals - from previous years.

Sadly he didn't get very far before he encountered what looked to be a group of students blocking his current path. They weren't specifically blocking him though; on the contrary, all he could see were their backs.

"It's Saizou!"

Naruto slowed his walk so that he could listen in to what the others were saying. It was a name he'd already heard a few time in his own class.

"You mean Saizou Komiya?"

"Yeah, last I heard he was forced to come to this Academy against his will!"

"Really? Why?"

"He's one of those rogue types who likes to be a tough guy. Apparently he molested too many women in the human world so he was forced to come here and be taught how to interact."

"Should we step in then? That other guy looks like he's about... oh, nevermind. Wow, she's fast. I wonder what kind of monster she is to be able to move that fast and drag that other guy with her?"

At this point Naruto began to ignore what they were saying. Could it have been...

Shaking his head, the blond began walking again as the crowd dispersed. It probably was Moka and Tsukune. Since Moka was a vampire she could move quickly and pull or carry a lot of weight along with her. He'd have to keep an eye out for that Saizou sleaze, though. There was no doubt that Moka could handle herself if she really needed to, but with Tsukune around... he wasn't very confident in her abilities yet.

Sadly, even his own repertoire was limited at the moment.

A slight rumbling noise reminded him that he hadn't eaten in a while. Maybe this school served ramen?

"That's all for today. If anyone has any questions about what we'll be doing, I'll be available for a while after class. Oh, and start thinking about what clubs you may want to join! That's all!"

Naruto tried not to be distracted by the distinctly feline tail that was waving back and forth behind Nekonome-sensei. He couldn't help but be amused that they expected near perfection in transformations for students... but his homeroom teacher was obviously having an incredibly difficult time maintaining the whole thing. Her hair, her fingernails, her tail...

Chuckling to himself, Naruto performed his new routine of surveying the room. Most of the class was simply getting their stuff together and preparing to leave. There were a few who were simply talking to each other. Moka seemed to be in a hurry to pack, likely to grab Tsukune and take off running again.

Tsukune, however, looked to be considerably more pale than Naruto remembered. Perhaps the boy was finally coming to terms about being the only human in a school full of monsters? Or maybe Moka had drained him a little too much. It wasn't too difficult for him to catch a faint whiff of blood coming from the both of them. He didn't notice it until walking past Tsukune's desk when they returned from break, but upon reinforcing his sense of smell, it became obvious.

Poor boy. Naruto couldn't keep the slight smirk off of his face even as Tsukune was dragged out of the classroom once again. Checking around one last time, the blond noted that Saizou wasn't in the room anymore, but he hadn't seen the taller boy leave at any point after Moka and Tsukune did, so he must have left before. Perhaps he had something else to do after class.

Naruto wanted to make a clone to shadow Tsukune and Moka while he went to go meditate, but doing it in class now would be a little too conspicuous, so it was probably best to head to the rooftop. Hopefully there wasn't anyone else up there.

After walking a few minutes at a brisk pace, Naruto arrived at the roof, thankfully finding it unoccupied. Making the usual hand sign, he quickly formed a shadow clone, only to nearly fall to one knee from the energy loss.

"Ugh, boss. I don't feel so good."

Naruto turned slightly to examine his clone, seeing that it had fallen down to one knee and looked almost... sickly. Hopefully the lifespan of the clone wasn't shortened too badly.

"I didn't realize that I'd be quite this bad off. Can you move?"

The clone nodded slowly before climbing back to its feet. "Yeah, but I'm real sluggish. I probably won't last more than a half an hour."

That was seriously bad. In his prime a single clone that used half of his chakra could last for about a week as long as it didn't take too much damage. Of course if it lasted for that full week the information feedback was a bitch, so he'd never used it more than a couple times in his life.

"Try to track down Tsukune first, then Moka. Just keep an eye on them for as long as you're able. I'm going to try to meditate for a little bit so that I can maybe use a little more chakra."

The clone nodded at him, then tried to move quickly over to the side of the building, only stumbling once. Naruto watched as it grunted once before hopping over the side.

Taking a deep breath, the blond slowly walked towards where he estimated the center of the roof to be. Sitting down and crossing his legs, he slowly adopted the meditative posture that he learned from the toads so very long ago that he needed in order to connect to nature.

It was a relatively simple process, though admittedly it was slightly more difficult than normal because of everything that had been going on. For Naruto, to calm down and find his inner self was no big deal, it actually became easier once he was no longer fully human anymore. But that would bring up memories, and he was trying to clear his mind...

Though something wasn't working the way it should. Or rather, he could sense nature... but it was just a trickle. Snapping his eyes open again, it finally registered that he wasn't in a place where nature had much of a presence at all. If anything, this was just a little slice of the demon world that had been placed in another realm, one where nature was suppressed.

It was certainly there, he could feel it. Sadly, there wasn't enough for him to use to clean his system. He'd have to settle for doing it the old fashioned way, lots of food and plenty of exercise. Lifting a hand, he clenched and released it, attempting to pulse some chakra through the appendage. There was nothing more than a trickle that expelled through his tenketsu... it wasn't even visible.

Grimacing, he realized that he probably had the chakra reserves of a fresh chuunin from long ago. Pitiful. His original body as a full human had the chakra of a Kage level shinobi from his time. Because of being unsealed early, his power would return even slower than normal as well.

His vision blurred for a brief second as foreign memories invaded his mind. His clone didn't run out of chakra... it dispelled itself. It just finished tracking them over a hill and then...

Tsukune, battered and bloody, with Moka kneeling next to him looking frightened. Saizou standing there transformed into some ogre-like monster, looking triumphant.

"Shit," Naruto cursed. He didn't generally use foul language, but sometimes it worked as an exclamation point to a bad situation. This was a perfect moment.

Running over to the side of the roof, he promptly leaped over the side towards one of the dead-looking trees. As he landed on one of the larger branches he prepared himself for a rough landing, but instead managed to stick to it and pushed off. It actually held. With the way it looked, he thought it was dead and would have snapped. It seemed that the small trickle of nature that he felt actually came from these trees. Even though they looked dead, they were alive.

Reaching the next tree and pushing off again, he almost stumbled on the branch as a large, sinister pressure began pressing down on him the closer he moved to Moka and Tsukune's last location. He grit his teeth and moved on – there was no way this was coming from Saizou. That brute didn't seem intelligent enough to be able to focus and hide such power.

However that meant it could only be Moka's power that he felt. There was only a small amount of relief in that as Mikogami had stressed that her seal could only be removed under various controlled circumstances. He wouldn't say anything more for some reason, but seemed to give the impression that the seal would only be removed if the Chairman decided it should be.

That meant... Tsukune. Of course. But did Mikogami really choose Tsukune because he was truly special for some reason, or was it because of his distinct lack of youki that he could manipulate such an obvious physical seal? Naruto supposed he'd find out soon enough. The pressure had stopped growing, and the blond figured he was nearly on top of them as a result.

Dropping down to the ground, he almost instinctively ducked as he heard a loud shout, followed by the sound of something immense go crashing through the nearby forest. Well, that definitely wasn't Moka... which meant that she had in fact somehow released her seal and had rescued both herself and Tsukune from the delinquent.

Good thing, too. Considering he had to catch his breath for a few seconds after dropping down from the trees, it would have been a long fight full of feints and distractions in order for him to defeat anyone with even a modicum of power right now.

Which meant he had to be very, very careful around Moka. He wouldn't last long in a fight against her at his current level... the best he'd be able to do would be to flee.

As he exited the quickly thinning forested area, his eyes immediately focused on the two people standing near a cluster of rocks. Interestingly enough, they were both staring right where he exited. Perhaps he was leaking a bit of his admittedly small amount of energy? He hadn't the time to test his abilities yet.

Approaching at a casual gait, he made a point of looking around, easily spotting the place where Saizou had obviously been flung through several tree trunks. That undoubtedly left a mark on the other monster.

"Who are you?"

Naruto stopped suddenly, a handful of meters away from the other two. Looking towards them again, he performed a quick observation before responding. Tsukune looked rather worse for wear – bleeding in several places, though it looked like everything had scabbed over by now. His clothes were torn in a few spots as well. A slight flicker of light from the boy's left hand answered the question of how Moka's suppressed power had been released; the rosario was clutched tightly in his hand.

As for Moka herself, she was staring at him with a look that was almost daring him to make a move. Slitted blood red eyes, much like his own when he was tapping deeper into his own powers. It was actually a fairly common trait amongst more powerful demons, though there were so few of them that he doubted anyone really paid much attention to that. Her hair had turned from bright pink to a silvery-white that glowed eerily in the evening sun.

Other than her eyes and hair, she seemed to carry herself more proudly than when she was sealed – or perhaps she legitimately was taller. As an unintentional side effect, her school skirt didn't really do much to hinder any male's imagination.

He simply chuckled and shrugged slightly. "You're leaking youki like a sieve. I'm not sure it's intentional, but I could feel it all the way back at the school and chose to investigate." A small lie, but they didn't need to know that. He jerked a thumb over his shoulder. "I'm sorta sad that I missed him being flung through the trees like that."

Moka's lips twitched slightly, like she wanted to smirk, but instead cocked her left hip slightly to the side and folded her arms under her breasts. Naruto, thankfully, had the mental fortitude not to let his eyes glance down at her chest, especially since she was looking right at him. If she noticed this at all, the now white-haired girl gave no indication.

"It's a long journey from the school to here."

Once again, Naruto shrugged. "Let's just say I'm pretty fast when I want to be." He offered her a smile, which she did not return, before looking at the only human among them.

"Are you going to be okay? The infirmary is a bit of a trek from here, and you look like you've seen better days. It's going to take a while for that to heal since you're human."

Their reactions were exactly as he expected. At first Tsukune looked panicked, immediately followed by a fake laugh and an attempt to pass it off. As for Moka, he was pretty sure that he heard her growl, but her aura definitely pressed down on him a little harder than it was before.

To both reassure Tsukune and calm down the vampire girl, he waved his hands slightly. "Whoa, whoa... take it easy. I don't care what you are or aren't. I'm just stating facts here. You need any help getting back?"

The pressure from Moka slowly disappeared, and Tsukune looked like he couldn't understand what Naruto just said. It took a moment before the other boy shook his head and looked at Naruto curiously.

"Are... you really don't... don't care? That I'm human, I mean?"

Naruto blinked. "No. Should I?"

Tsukune actually looked at Moka for a moment before returning his gaze to the blond. "I suppose not. I get the impression that most monsters merely tolerate humans."

"Eh, that may be true." Naruto grinned a little and scratched at the back of his head. Old habits died hard. "To be honest, I'm a bit of a rebel. I don't always like to do what everyone else does."

The other boy chuckled slightly this time, looking immensely relieved. Since it seemed that both of them would be okay, Naruto backed away a couple steps before turning around and heading back towards campus – taking the nearby well-worn path this time. "Well, since you apparently don't need my help, I guess you're both okay. I'll be taking my leave. See you back at school."

Waving over his shoulder briefly, he heard Tsukune mumble out a 'See you' in return, but Moka was conspicuously silent. She probably didn't trust him one bit, and likely thought Tsukune was gullible as hell. If he was a gambling man (which he was, but no one else needed to know that) he'd wager that Moka was staring a hole in the back of his head.

He had a hard enough time understanding some of the crazy things Akasha did in the brief time he knew her. He'd only met her daughter for a few minutes, so he wasn't even going to try to guess what she was thinking. No sense in antagonizing her either, as there was nothing to gain from it. Besides that, he was simply supposed to be watching over her. Judging by her power levels, it would be several months at the very soonest before he could even come to the power she was displaying.

In a rather spontaneous decision, he hoped the two of them were still watching, as he decided to move in a body flicker towards the school. A rather simple technique from a now bygone era, it nonetheless managed to stun Mikogami, Akasha, and Touhou almost two hundred years ago with the pure speed it allowed. The only true limitation of the technique was that you could only move in one direction with it.

Maybe it would at least make Moka curious, if nothing else. It would be easier to monitor her and Tsukune if they were curious about him, after all.

Upon arriving back at the school the blond had changed out of his school uniform and into something more casual. Surprisingly it lacked any orange, but he hadn't really had much opportunity to find his sense of self during the relatively brief amount of time he'd been unsealed. There wasn't much variety in the closet of his new dorm room, either.

He had just finished going through some of his textbooks in hopes of finding a frame of reference for how long he'd been sealed. He'd been keeping a tally, and this was the seventh time he'd been unsealed since... forever ago. Heck, he was fairly certain that he wasn't even in his own reality anymore – and that was as recent as two sealing ceremonies ago. It was no secret that the demon realm, Makai, was a bit of a thoroughfare for people who liked to travel between dimensions.

If they didn't mind tangling with demons, that is. Of course, not all demons were of the bloodthirsty attack-on-sight variety. There were plenty of them who were just as if not more cultured than humans... though it went without saying that they just so happened to enjoy bloodshed a lot more.

Letting out a sigh, Naruto leaned forward and grabbed one book he saved for last, simply because the title looked so amusing.

Alternate Realities for Dummies

According to Mikogami it was actually brilliant, as it neatly put together several items that everyone should know who might have to encounter demons or any kind of 'other' being. But of course the Chairman would say that, since he was one of the authors.

Quickly scanning the introduction, Naruto didn't really begin to pay closer attention until he moved on to the first real chapter. A lot of this was stuff that he already knew, but it was nice to get an overview as a general refresher.

As you are probably well aware of by now, there is much more to the universe than you likely ever imagined. Most of the information in this book has been built upon over the millenia and from multiple realms of reality. There are some general traits that remain constant throughout all realms, and this book has been created in an effort to keep you informed of the more general ideas that remain fairly constant throughout all the realms

Understand that what you read in this book will also likely be an incredible simplification of reality. Sadly, there is too much information to fit in a book such as this, therefore there are plenty of other titles that go into more detailed accounts of various aspects of differing realities.

Another thing that will become immediately apparent is that there is a general power structure, no matter your reality. This power structure is made up of the different levels of beings. As a primer, we'll start at the bottom, with humans.

Some may argue that humanity doesn't really belong at the bottom, as they can be considered powerful based upon technological advances, and their pure numerical superiority. No one knows how they became so populous in a large majority of the known realities, however there is no denying it. Because of this, all of the other beings generally hide their presence out of necessity. While most beings are predictable, because of their sheer numbers, humans are predictably unpredictable.

On the next level are those who are humans with special powers. Their powers are either called 'magica', 'chakra', 'chi' or some variation thereof. They are often children of humans who partnered with a higher level being. Sadly, they are the smallest of all the groups, and therefore typically have to hide their presence more than any other because they are completely ostracized by all other societies. To differentiate themselves from humanity, they often classify themselves with curious titles, like Wizard, Warlock, Witch, and Ninja. To all other levels of this chart they are considered Boundary Beings, as they do not exist on their own, but instead on the boundary of others listed.

Generally the next level is simply referred to as 'monsters', because their special powers have caused their appearance to deviate greatly from that of all the other beings. They consider their 'monstrous' appearances to be their baseline, and only take on human-like appearances when they need to blend in. Of the monster class of being, they also have the largest variation – some can be just as weak as an average human, while others can be nearly as strong as some of the higher-classed demons. It is a literal crap-shoot, so be careful when dealing with any monsters.

Demons are next on the list, though they by far consider themselves to be much more than simply cultured monsters. They can take on hideous appearances as well, though most of them don't bother. The few that do are typically among those of low breeding status – they change their forms as a means of intimidation. For the most part, demons keep to themselves, as they enjoy power games and blood sport too much to fit in well anywhere else.

Second to last we have the Celestials. Like the demons, they are known to have a reality of their own and barely ever venture out of it. Interestingly enough, demons are more common visitors to the human realities than any celestials ever are, but their few ventures out and about must have a much greater impact – simply because virtually every human reality knows of where they come from. It goes by many names now – Heaven, Eden, Avalon, Asgard... the list goes on. Getting there is another matter entirely. Humans, for example, only believe they can get there upon death. Completely untrue, but nevertheless amusing for the rest of us who know better.

As the last beings on this list, it could simply be said that there is a hidden supreme being, or perhaps more than one, that created us all and guide us with invisible hands. There is obviously no proof of that, but the closest we do have to the idea of beings like that are what we call Shinso.

We have always known about Shinso as far back as we have history, be it passed down through oral tradition or otherwise. Beings of what appears to be limitless power that can guide all of creation should they so choose. Many of them have had cult-like followers, others have – according to rumor – run secret clans for hundreds, perhaps thousands of years.

The last 'known' Shinso was Akasha Bloodriver, the leader of the Three Dark Lords who defeated the Demon Vampire Lord Alucard. She hid the knowledge from everyone that she was a Shinso for an untold number of years before finally revealing her ability in order to stop the insane Demon.

Her current whereabouts are unknown as of five years previous to this being written.

Naruto rolled his eyes. So they were being called Shinso now. He supposed it fit, all things considered. There was a reason they were usually sealed away and only released for emergencies – there was too much power between them – it was too tempting for many a person. Alucard was just one example in a long line.

Though it is unproven, there are separate records detailing the exploits of nine different Shinso throughout the ages. It is likely that there have only ever been nine in all of recorded time. Sadly, unless there is an unprecedented catastrophe of some sort, it us unlikely that all nine will ever appear at one time – if there are even nine of them after all. The most we have ever been able to verify being around at the same time was two, and that was only for a very brief period of time.

Sadly, even that may just be considered rumor, as there is obviously no proof, only detailed accounts of various believers.

Naruto couldn't stop the snort that escaped him. Yeah, anyone who saw that massive battle before Akasha sealed herself and Alucard away would have seen him there too, making sure the seal held. Mikogami, one of the writers of this book, had a front row seat. The only other person to make it to the end was Touhou Fuhai.

If you ever find yourself needing to travel into another reality, especially Makai, where most of the demons reside, be aware of their ranking system based on power levels. It has permeated most realities over time, and is now widely considered the standard for power categorization.

D is generally considered the lowest ranking, though the average human is not even warranted this designation. Very few humans are granted recognition by more powerful beings to even obtain the ranking of D, though most 'special' humans, such as Witches and Ninjas, automatically garner this ranking.

C is considered the minimum for those with demon blood in their veins. To be anything less, in a demon's eyes, makes you not worth associating with for any reason other than to grant you a swift death. Thus this rank is widely regarded as the standard baseline of competence for any being with a lick of power.

B is where most demons are usually ranked, and any new celestial that appears is automatically given this rank even before their own abilities are known. Keep in mind that demons often have their own internal ranking scale in Makai that uses the same denominations, so you'll often find that most demons will respond with two power rankings when asked. Their own internal ranking system is much more strict.

A-rank is generally considered the elite. The few celestials that make themselves known usually end up at this rank, and those in higher-level demon society consider this level to be a necessity.

S-rank is assigned to those who have nearly the ultimate power, and can take on multiple A-ranked opponents and still come out victorious. There are only ever a few dozen of them in existence across all realities at any one time.

There are two rankings further still that aren't part of this chart, but are considered instead to be beyond it. A few would jokingly refer to the next level as SS-rank, or 'beyond S-rank'. There is no real designation for people like this, but to estimate their power level... they could crush an army of A-rank opponents or several S-rank opponents with relative ease. Alucard was widely considered to be one of the greatest 'SS-rank' demons in modern history. Many will argue that he was too insane to be worthy of such distinction.

Obviously the next step is the last – Shinso. This level cannot be obtained by normal means – or by any means we know today. Sadly, as there is very little actually known about Shinso, all we can refer from examples through history is that it takes an undetermined amount of time for them to build up the necessary power. Once they do, however – they are nigh unstoppable until their objective has been achieved, whatever it may be.

See Chapter 3 – Alucard, for more examples regarding his supposed path to power, and descent into insanity as a result.

As a sidenote – one thing Akasha Bloodriver was willing to part with about Shinso was that they had an internal ranking system of their own that had been passed down through time, and that she was considered to be the second weakest of them all. Any requests for further information were met with silence, especially when it came to confirmation about exactly how many Shinso there were, or how she knew where she stood in their supposed heirarchy.

At that, Naruto closed the book, already feeling like he'd read enough. He was only slightly surprised that Mikogami had left out the blond's contributions, limited though they were. He knew The Exorcist had a reason for it, at least – one which made perfect sense.

It wasn't every day one got to fight alongside the latest incarnation of the Kyuubi no Kitsune.

paradoxjast . blogspot . com

This was taken up as a challenge I had accepted a while back from the author many of you knew as Pokemaster12, now known as The Engulfing Silence. I owed it to him to start posting after waiting so long due to, y'know, life. Details about this fic will be found on my blog.