A/N: So yeah... it's finally happened. My story is gonna have to be bumped up to Rated M due to... bad things that will be happening. So just as a warning to anyone reading this fiction, it is now has a mature rating~

Trigger Warnings: Blood, descriptive violence, child abuse, and mentions of rape.

All fanart and questions can be directed to my TUMBLR: fanfiction-by-abalisk


Chapter 16: Sepulcher

Theme 1: FF12 OST - Eruyt Village

Theme 2: Hiroyuki Sawano - Mov_N

You are an ocean of waves, weaving a dream,
Like thoughts become a river stream.
Yet may the tide ever change, flowing like time,
To the path, yours to climb.

In the white light, a hand reaches through
A double-edged blade cuts your heart in two.
Waking dreams will fade away,
Embrace the brand new day.

Join in our prayer, in our song of birthrights and love,
The light scatters to the skies above.
Dawn breaks through the gloom, white as a bone
Lost in thoughts all alone...

xXx

Stones skittered and tumbled underfoot as a cloaked figure slid down a mound of debris, their soft-soled shoes deftly avoiding sharp boulders and steel bars poking up from the pile. A shaft of light from outside made their shadow loom in stark relief on the far wall, phantom-like in its silhouette. Glancing around the room and seemingly satisfied thus far with what they saw, the figure called up the ruined doorway, "Stay hidden Yaku, I'll be back," she hissed, not moving until an affirmative snort and the clatter of hooves indicated that her accomplice had heeded her order.

Sukaira swept back the ragged hood of her cloak, the old material rough against her fingers. She had found the clothing off of a dried corpse deep within wingless wasp territory, surmising that the person must have become lost and mummified from either the wasp's deadly sting or had all of their fluids drained by the numerous Tsuchigumo, a type of large trapdoor spider that hunted in that area. Knowing that the previous owner would have no need of it, Sukaira took the cloak after burying the corpse, using the dark cloth to better cowl her pale skin which stood out so easily in the dim forest.

From within the folds of her clothes she pulled free a luminescent woodlouse; the Chīsana Mono apparently sleeping off the big meal it had just partaken of a few minutes before, making the spots on its back glow brightly. Tightly gripping the makeshift net she'd crafted just for this purpose, Sukaira lifted up the bundle of woven bark and insect like a lantern, casting its pale blue light over the carved stone reliefs and ruined pillars in the so called "cave."

She discovered it several days ago during one of her explorations outside of the Sage's watchful gaze, the dilapidated walls and warped holes that were far too angular to be natural. Ruins along the border of forest's inner wall, a boundary that skirted all the way around the Sage's sanctum, stretching out into unexplored forest. The structures were old, older than the forest itself and worn away by the passage of time, the brick and mortar crumbling beneath the weight of the trees growing above them.

Granted the trees here were not nearly as large as the ones within the wall, but they still towered high above, their intertwining branches blotting out the sun and casting the forest floor into an eternal dusk that became abyss-like when night arrived. None of the luminous mosses or fungus existed out here.

Danger loomed around every corner.

Touching the carvings on the wall, Sukaira traced the faint images of birds and reeds, the reliefs having faded due to the wear of the damp atmosphere and water runoff. Some sections had been completely eroded away, the clear trickle of a stream indicating the culprit. She faintly recalled seeing such wonders like this another time, in a history book that… someone had given her. An image of a man with bespectacled eyes and a bushy beard came to mind, but no name or relation could be connected. He had kind blue eyes.

Giving herself a mental shake, Sukaira moved on from the glyphs and deeper into the corridors, avoiding the reaching fingers of hanging roots and rubbing at her head when water dripped from the ceiling's many stalactites. The scent of molding wood and rot filled her nostrils as she ventured further, the taste of wet earth coating her tongue. Breaks in the floor revealed multiple levels below, the pale light in her grasp barely reaching down into the darkness.

The steady drip of water plinked against the surface of what sounded like a pool and Sukaira wondered if the lower levels were flooded. Hardly a surprise considering all the water damage on the surrounding walls and the clear signs that this tunnel flash flooded during the rains.

She moved away from the pit, her senses staying on it while she walked, visibly unnerved by the gaping maw. Sukaira figured it would not be wise to simply jump in without getting her bearings first, who knew what creatures skittered in that pervading darkness? And if there was water, it would be foolish to jump in without seeing how deep it was. Common sense really.

Air grew more stale and less humid the more she delved, various rockfalls and collapsed ceilings forcing her to crawl over rubble and squeeze herself through narrow tunnels. Sukaira wasn't sure what she would find in these ruins, but hoped that it would provide some answers as to what happened to this place. Or even where she was in this strange world. Certainly the Sage was not forthcoming with any answers to her many questions, remaining cryptic or even deigning to leave many things unanswered.

Truly, it was frustrating.

The reliefs along the walls became more detailed as she left behind the commonly flooded areas, showcasing bright colors of paint completely untouched by the elements. Idly, Sukaira brushed her hand over the brilliant ultramarine of the water depicted in this particular image, a sea of ships leaving behind a golden tower or a tree? It was hard to say. The twisted structure stood tall and narrow like a tower would, but it's base spread out in a root-like array, a great lotus bulb depicted in royal purples at the top of the "tower." Perhaps its was stained glass? No tree really looked like that...

Rocks shifted in one of the nearby halls and Sukaira tensed at the abrupt movement, the sound startling her after being subjected to the silence of the ruins for so long. Crouching down, she wrapped her cloak around the bare skin of her arms and stifled the light, her form vanishing into the black.

A steady tap tap tap reached her ears, the movement staggered but methodical and Sukaira slowed her breathing as a knot of fear clenched her throat like a vice. She knew that sound and the lessons of the Sage reverberated in her skull as the clatter of a multitude of legs drew nearer, the clicking of mandibles creating an audible chatter. Creaks and groans sounded out from the joints of a large exoskeleton and Sukaira could almost see it in her mind's eye as the giant centipede patrolled the corridor, it's antenna feeling over the various crevices as it hunted for living prey. The Ōmukade's eyesight was poor, unlike their winged cousins, but they could sense vibrations in the earth and were adept at seeking out their fleeing victims in the darkness, using the venom in their fangs to slow down their quarry.

Their toxin also doubled as a paralyzing agent and allowed the creatures to devour their captured prey with ease. While it still lived; suffering in silence but in no less pain.

Sukaira had borne witness to the Ōmukade's hunting habits many times. It still made her skin crawl.

She repeated the Sage's advice in her mind like a mantra, fighting her flight reflex as the centipede drew closer. Willing herself to silence all movement, even the beating of her own heart so it would not hear.

Be still, stay silent. Be still, stay silent. Be still, stay silent. Be still, stay silent. Be still, stay silent!

The large beast paused and Sukaira held her breath, knowing that it was straight down the hall. She couldn't see it now, but she knew and could hear the minute squeaking of its sensitive antennae that it was deliberating on which tunnel it should walk through. Sukaira silently commanded it to move away, to go down the other aisle, to leave this hall alone. There is nothing here. Nothing to find. Empty. Open. Dusty. Dead. Her lungs began to ache for air, but Sukaira didn't dare breathe, it was still there. The beating of her own heart deafened her in the silence, the staccato rhythm growing louder and more desperate as her need for breath grew.

Clattering and scrambling down another hall jolted the Ōmukade into action and its many legs sped up to carry the creature far away very quickly. The sound of its feet hitting the ground drowning out everything else in its passing, like a stampeding herd of cattle on a paved road. Distantly, the call of a despairing shriek let Sukaira know that some manner of beast had been bitten and the chase would begin shortly. Mercifully taking that nightmarish centipede far away from her.

Sukaira released her hold on her burning lungs when it fully passed and sucked air in greedily, laying back against the wall as her chest heaved. Tears pricked the corners of her eyes as her abused lungs begged for more air, eliciting a couple of coughs which she muffled judiciously. That had been far too close… she deliberated, trying to prevent tremors of terror from quaking her body.

Trembling hands removed the Chīsana Mono from her cloak and Sukaira noted the significant dimming of the louse's lights and the tautness of its coiled form. Likely the insect had realized just how close to death they had both been and had tightened its defenses accordingly. Not that the centipede's jaws couldn't make short work of the little creature's shell, it would pop it open easily like a spoiled egg. But she supposed it was the thought that counted.

Smiling and giving the living lantern an affectionate pat, Sukaira hoisted the net up in the air and continued through the tunnel on quickened legs, no longer intent on staying idle within this dangerous facility. Going back to the Sage's lessons, Sukaira searched within herself for that minute fragment of power that could aid her within the deep well of her chakra coils. Her prodding made the energy well up like a tidal wave, its habit of running wild a constant reminder of just how dangerous chakra was and that she truly would never be able to fathom this alien power. But she tamped it down and snipped off only what she would need, enough energy coming forth to soften her footfalls, making her as silent as a cat while she sprinted through the winding passage.

The Sage informed her that as someone not born to this world, her relationship with chakra would always be tenuous at best. It was not a natural part of her biology and thus she would have to fight it at every opportunity to wrest control, or become consumed by that very power.

Sukaira didn't ask how the Sage knew she was from another world, simply assuming that it was yet another one of those things that he just knew. But she did question how she got this power to begin with. Why her? Why take her away from a world where she was assumedly loved by her family and spirit her away to a place that is so different that she might at well be an anathema? What possible purpose could this serve?

As expected, the Sage did not answer her and she was left alone to her thoughts. All this talk about her not being some "Hunter" and he wouldn't even give her a hint…

Her musings were interrupted when a shaft of light caught her attention down one of the side halls and Sukaira skid to a halt to backtrack. Peeking around the corner, she noted that a rock fall had broken apart the ceiling and left a gaping hole as an access point to the forest floor. Carefully creeping her way toward it, she kept an eye out for any more crawling surprises and tucked her lantern away so it wouldn't catch a predator's attention.

It wouldn't do to catch the interest of the Inugami after all.

Not wishing to take chances, Sukaira did a quick search of her surroundings after poking her head out of the hole and then leapt out and up into the nearest tree as fast as she was able. Making as little contact with the ground as possible, so as not to leave behind a scent trail. The Inugami were notorious for their tracking skills and they had no fear of even the most dangerous creatures of the forest, which automatically put them high on the "Oh shit, run away" list. Normally, they only ran in packs of three or four but Sukaira had seen a pack of thirty that had taken hold in the antlion territory and they had quite the large hunting range.

With so many mouths to feed it was no wonder, so Sukaira thought to take it upon herself to cull some of the members so they wouldn't be a problem in the future.

Unfortunately, that also meant they found sport in hunting down this new elusive prey.

So in the trees she went, leaping from branch to branch with careful deduction. It was not a mode of movement that she was quite used to yet and couple that with the minute fear of heights that she acquired ever since falling into the ravine... The daunting view of the ground below proved to be dizzying.

Sukaira held down her nausea though, knowing all too well how dangerous the forest floor could be. She climbed higher into the canopy, placing her feet into the crotch of a branch so she could hoist herself above the broad leaves and view the ocean of green and white around her. Snow fell and melted down around her as she exposed the warm humidity of the forest interior to the chilled outside. Blinking in surprise at the brightness of the day, Sukaira frowned when she saw just how far the tunnels had taken her from the center. The craggy husk of the wall surrounding the Sage's sanctum peeked up above the sea of green and made it appear like a lonely rugged mountain, its peaks white with ice. With how far she stood from that wall, Sukaira surmised that she must likely be close to the forest's edge.

With a scowl, Sukaira turned to look in the opposite direction, futily searching for the end of the forest but realizing once she did so that of course she wouldn't be able to do that, the smaller trees would make it slope down.

Huffing at her own foolishness, Sukaira snaked down the thinner branches and headed in that direction, starkly disobeying the Sage's order that she was not ready. Because, she reasoned, her tentativeness with navigating the tree branches forgotten in her resolve, somewhere along the border of the forest lies the fortress of my enemy and…

Leaping over a gap between the trees, Sukaira picked up speed when she landed on the next branch.

Chinatsu.

xXx

A single guard yawned greatly as he faced toward the shimmering barrier that separated the horrors of the Silent Forest from the rest of the world. It shone with a golden hue that rippled and shifted like oil in water, obscuring any sight to the forest beyond. Giving a languid glance down, the sentry gave a long suffering sigh as excavations continued as normal, this was probably the dullest job out of his rotation. The glimmering nuggets of amber that the miners removed from the new vein discovered several weeks ago was bringing in quite the haul and he observed as they loaded up barrels of the stuff and sent it off on a wagon train back to headquarters.

He didn't know what the higher ups wanted with the stuff, because they certainly weren't using it to bring in more supplies, that was for damn sure. Rice gruel and a piece of dried chicken meat became very unappetizing after the third and fourth day of eating only that for every meal.

He could kill for a pork bun.

As the guard daydreamed of steamed delicacies and heaping plates of veggies, he failed to notice the shimmer of metal as it streaked through the air towards his outpost. It wasn't until the arrow thudded into the post mere centimeters from his nose that he realized they were under attack.

And by then it was too late.

xXx

An explosion rocked the sentry tower in a shower of molten flame and Sukaira ducked behind the nearest wagon in shock. Eyes rapidly casting about the area, she didn't see who or where the culprit was. Everyone was in a panic, the cacophony of screams was deafening to her ears as the miners fled the scene, men and women alike in a blind stampede.

Sukaira shook her head against the madness and kept herself huddled within the shadow of the wagon, pulling her cowl tight around her face. She hadn't been here long and already she found herself in the middle of some sort of turf war. The forest had very abruptly cut off and Sukaira had been surprised to see the land laid bare before her, ancient trees uprooted as hundreds of people toiled in the dirt and rock, removing glittering stones that eerily reminded her of something very familiar. She felt it prudent to keep herself hidden, especially when she recognized the symbol on a tapestry hanging along the sides of the tower.

A black lotus.

Voices rose around her and Sukaira remained still as the instigators of the attack rounded up the civilians. She observed between the spokes of the wheel as they corralled them close to the remains of the burning tower, the smoke and heat of the ruin making them sweaty and nervous. Sukaira almost gasped when she saw two children ushered to the front of the crowd, their faces filthy with soot and tears and their hair matted with grime. A large man, presumably the leader, roughly grabbed their chins and turned their heads this way and that; inspecting them. Presumably, they failed whatever he was looking for and Sukaira bristled as he pushed them away roughly, nearly throwing them to the ground.

Gritting her teeth, Sukaira noted they were saying something and crept closer to another wagon, keeping out of sight.

"-nemy to the Kokuren. All of you will work for us now. We have freed you from your bonds of slavery from the criminals that seek to use you for their own ends. All we want in exchange is that you fight for us, so that more can be brought to the side of freedom and to end their reign." The leader announced, and at this distance Sukaira could definitely see that he was the leader of this band or at least among the command structure. One of the first clues was the array of scars over his face and arms, indicating that he had survived several grueling battles in his time.

The other was the pelt of an Alpha Inugami draped over his back in a flowing cloak, its blue hair showing hints of silver and brown as the wind rippled through it. The tail reached to the large man's knees and the mane puffed up around his thick neck like a large fur collar. It's coat was large enough to encompass three of her body size and it sat comfortably snug on this giant of a man's back looking like an ornament.

As the man turned around, she noticed that whoever cured this pelt left the neck and head on, cutting a hole in the creature's elongated neck to allow for the man's head to fit through it like a makeshift tabard. The canines scalp glared dead and menacingly on the man's chest, its lack of a skull twisting its face into a mockery of itself, the eye in the middle of its forehead replaced with a ruby.

It certainly made him appear formidable.

"Sir…" One of the miners in the crowd meekly called, earning everyone's attention. Sukaira felt a feeling of dread coil in her stomach as the beast of a man slowly turned to the speaker. The one who spoke, while looking chastised and very terrified forged on none-the-less, determined to say his piece. "W-what of our families?"

"What about them?" The leader gruffly replied, his response rolling up his chest like the groaning of a mountain. Sukaira's hair stood on end as her unease grew, something was very wrong with this atmosphere.

"Th-they… They are in the t-town…" The miner stuttered, motioning to where the wagon train had gone moments before, the road winding and disappearing into the hills. "W-what if they are… are used against us?"

A cruel grin split the giant man's face and he gave the miner a glare, "Then you'll just have to win, now won't you?" As the miner's expression paled, the leader barked a laugh before frowning severely, "Let me put this in words you're feeble minds will understand," he growled menacingly, looking more like the Inugami on his chest than a man, "You can go and fight our enemies, win and ensure that your families stay safe…" Taking a deep breath, he then grinned and fingered the sword on his belt.

"Or you die right here."

No one met his challenging gaze after that and Sukaira felt her heart stutter in fear for these people. He was just going to use them, just like the Kokuren had used them before as slave labor. All that talk about freeing them from tyranny and he already was terrorizing them mentally and emotionally. They were nothing but cannon fodder to him, meat shields to be used to get at the other side, and they would all die. He knew it. They knew it. Why didn't anyone do anything?!

"What about the children?" One of the other fighters asked in a voice that was just loud enough to be heard. Sukaira tensed as the leader grew a pensive expression.

With a grunt, he shrugged and removed his blade from its sheath, "Kill them, they're worthless."

Sukaira moved at the same time he did, sword flashing out and a spray of blood indicating that he had struck his first target. A high scream filled the air. Breath choking on blood as the child fell. She didn't look at them. Did not look at their face. She couldn't. She could only focus on the other child. She needed to get to him. Get him out of here. A shout of warning was called, but Sukaira didn't hear their words. She only saw the boy, his face shining like the moon as a shadow descended upon him.

Pale hands like claws reached out and hooked the child close, sweeping him away in a whirl of dark cloth as they bolted through the wagons, dodging around obstacles at a blinding pace. Her cloak fluttered in the breeze, snapping wide like a pair of dark wings in flight. A roar of rage was heard behind them, but Sukaira dared not look. To look back meant to be distracted and she could not afford such a thing.

Her goal was the paling that shone like the sun.

The first thing the Sage had ever taught her in regards to using her chakra was how to run, to use the surroundings available to make her escape. Knowing when and how to flee could save you in the long run, far more often than sheer strength.

Besides, how was one going to earn strength if they didn't live to see that day?

One moment, the pounding of many feet followed behind Sukaira and the next the barrier rippled around her and sounds of silence stifled the atmosphere. She gripped the boy tightly to her chest as she then leapt into the nearest tree, the child clinging to her like a limpet, his tiny emaciated form wracked with sobs. He was so thin, Sukaira had to wonder how he had kept working like the rest. How often had they bothered to feed him? No one among the crowd had objected to the children's treatment, at least not that she had seen. Where were his parents?

She was about to console him when loud voices broke the silence. They had followed her. Freezing up, the child in her arms silenced himself as he felt her stiffen, and she thanked the gods for his awareness. The men were directly below her, walking along the forest floor in a loose arrow formation, seeking her out in the dusky light.

If she moved quickly they would hear her and her advantage in the trees would be blown. These men had to know how to use their chakra, otherwise how else would they think they could take on the Kokuren? She had to be careful…

A muffled cough from her chest made Sukaira nearly groan in despair and she bolted once again, just before a resounding clang fell upon her hiding place. Breaking her rule of looking back, she saw that all of the men that the Leader had brought with him had descended their blades. She grimaced and writhed her way around the branches, putting as many of them in their way as she could, forcing them to jump and dodge to slow them down. In open areas they appeared to be pretty fast, so Sukaira wasn't going to give them an opportunity to catch up.

Besides, she could hear the gnashing of teeth nearby…

Diving out of the branches, Sukaira ran along the trunk, using the natural pull of gravity and the occasional push of her chakra enhanced feet to heighten her speed. Then with a spin she planted her feet firmly on the ground, making the loose soil buckle beneath her, a hollow thud echoing in the still air.

The gnashing stopped.

Her legs feeling a little numb from the impact, Sukaira made to move again but was blocked by one of the men… or rather woman, who smiled at her coquettishly before giving a disgusted sneer. "Did you think you could hide, little boy?" At this, Sukaira raised a confused brow before she realized that the woman was referring to her and thought she was a boy. What with the deep cowl, the child clinging to her chest without any inclination of letting go, and the notable lack of a common feminine physique, she could very well be mistaken for a lanky boy.

Huh. No skin off my nose.

Deigning not to answer left the woman with a sour expression and Sukaira nervously glanced about when multiple thuds around her indicated that the unwelcome entourage had landed as well. They circled her like vultures, crude chuckles and threats about what they were going to do leaving their lips. It was disgusting and Sukaira tried her best to tune them out, her stomach rolling as they went into detail about the way they were going to make her beg. She didn't understand all of what they were saying, but when the child in her arms began to cry, it took all of Sukaira's will to not cry as well, What is taking so long?

Perhaps she had made a mistake…

The stomping feet of their leader parted the circle and Sukaira was faced with his hard gaze, the head of the Inugami staring at her accusingly in its eternal grin. "What's your game huh?" he questioned with a rumble, his form pacing before her like a caged lion. She didn't answer and his face twisted into an ugly snarl, "Who do you work for?!"

Sukaira felt a minute shift in the soil below and she simply gave a grim smile.

"Tch." The leader gave a dismissive wave, apparently not seeing the grin and muttered, "Do what you want with him, we'll get answers soon enough."

As one of them reached out to take action of his promise of perversion, Sukaira made to bring out a blade from her belt with shaking fingers. A crash from below her feet made her stumble back as the soil cracked and burst, interrupting her action. Wide pincers of a warrior wasp reached out and snapped the man in half, spraying blood and viscera as it dragged the still screaming man underground.

Earth heaved and the ground exploded with the activity of the hive, their grinding jaws creating a greater cacophony than any normal wasps buzzing, their vestigial wings whirring uselessly as they clambered and grabbed at anything that didn't smell like fungus, bypassing Sukaira and the boy in a wide berth as they chased down their new quarry. The man who threatened to rape them earlier screamed and babbled incomprehensibly as several warriors stung him repeatedly, his mouth already beginning to foam as the toxin took effect. They moved on quickly after his struggle ended, a single worker toddling over to pick up his body and push it into a hole, the bones snapping easily as another pulled him roughly in.

The single woman shrieked and spun, cutting through their ranks like a whirlwind, trying to keeping any and all of the insects at bay as the swarm around her grew greater and greater. She sent a furious look Sukaira's way when an opening was made and she made a mad dash for them, "You fucking bastard!" she screeched, her eyes wide with insanity, her sword arm flailing in wanton abandon as the ranks closed in around her again. A warrior was gutted on her blade and insect innards spewed all over her body, blinding her in its muck.

Stumbling and gasping, the sword in her hand was flung away from her grasp, landing not far from where Sukaira stood. She stared for moment at the woman's struggle, before taking her eyes away and grabbing the hilt of the blade. The sound of the woman's enraged yell was silenced by bone crunching snap and Sukaira turned to see the woman staring up at her. Her decapitated head rolling in the dirt.

Holding back a retch, Sukaira finally leapt away, confident in the knowledge that they would not get away from the wasps. Only a few were still fighting now, but the wasps were growing in numbers and it wouldn't be too long before they were overwhelmed.

They didn't need to be around to witness it.

She couldn't keep up the pace for long however as her stomach finally forced her into a bole of a tree and she vomited in its roots. The boy around her waist detached himself thankfully and gave her space as she puked up what was left of her lunch. A steady pat on her back let her know that the boy was trying to help, saying soothing words when nothing else came out.

"Are you okay Nii-san?" he asked politely when she stopped and wiped her mouth.

"No. I'm a girl." she murmured bluntly, spitting out any remaining bile from her mouth, before removing a flask from her hip and gargling the water then spitting that out too. Every inch of her felt disgusting, the way that the blood sprayed had been unexpected and she had just been rooted to the spot. Why hadn't she run away? Was she just so shocked that she couldn't move?

The phantom feeling of burnt skin squelching between her fingers elicited a shiver of revulsion and she cupped her hand over her mouth again.

Blood on my hands. Blood on my hands. Blood on my hands. Blood on my hands.

The boy, completely unaware of what was going on in her head, widened his eyes at her action, a pink line appeared across his cheeks and ears and he sloppily bowed, "I-I'm sorry, Onee-san! I didn't know!"

Huffing in a calming breath, Sukaira tried not to think of how those people died and just tried to force her stomach to settle. It was in the past now. They had been evil people to begin with. It's okay. It's okay... "It's fine. It doesn't really off-" A hard iron grasp on her throat threw her into the bark of the tree, forcing the breath out of her lungs and Sukaira choked as the pressure increased on her trachea.

The scarred Leader leered down at her, his face red with rage and covered head to toe with blood and insect viscera. "You bitch… You fucking bitch." he said in a deadly calm voice, spittled and rancid breath hitting her in the face as he loomed closer, "You killed my team. You killed them all. I'm going to fucking kill you right here, do you hear me?"

"Ghuh…" Was all the response Sukaira could muster and her vision become spotted as he continued to cut off her air.

"I'm going to tear you to pieces you little shit!" he growled, tightening his grip even further. A grin twisting his features as her eyes began to roll and saliva dripped out of the corners of her mouth. "Everything they were going to do to you, I'm going to double. Slowly. Then I'm going to rip off your limbs one by one, starting at your fingers and working backward. You'll beg me for death. You'll plead for me to kill you and I'll enjoy every minute I let you suffer!"

She couldn't hear him anymore, the beating of her own heart drowned out his words and Sukaira felt her consciousness beginning to fade. Darkness was closing in…

"Leave my Nee-chan alone!"

The pressure lifted and she gasped in a thankful gulp of air. Her throat felt raw and she coughed and wheezed, her tearful eyes lifting up to see her captor down on one knee, his voice raised in a pained keen. Sukaira blinked at the wash of red pooling around his leg and she blinked again seeing the sword she had taken earlier, stabbed deeply into the flesh. Small hands were gripping the hilt and Sukaira got a good look at the once dour face of the boy she had rescued, whose eyes were now wide with panic and fear.

He'd stabbed him.

This little boy had stabbed him… To save her.

With a bellow, the man swung back and knocked the sword out of the boy's hand and the child stumbled back in terror. He half crawled toward the horrified boy, spitting threats and making to grab him, but failing as the child floundered away from him. Sukaira noted as he turned that several stingers were stuck in the Inugami cloak and she remembered in a flash the Sage telling her that their hides were the most resilient of armor.

Staggering onto her feet and grabbing at her throat as another spasm of pain shook her, Sukaira burst forth in an explosion of chakra, laying the man out on the ground as she full on tackled him. Prying free one of the stingers, she sunk it deeply into his thick neck, jabbing at him over and over to make sure she got even just a little of the venom into his bloodstream.

The wasps were large. Were bred for huge prey and predators, even a little would be enough to kill a human.

She wheezed through her damaged throat as he began seizing and she continued sitting on his body as the spasms became weaker, too exhausted to move anywhere else. This had not been what she wanted and Sukaira felt her eyes beginning to well up with tears.

There are people like this in the world... she despaired, her body shuddering with a sob. Tears dripped down her nose and fell onto the back of the dead man's scalp. These are the kind of people Chinatsu is around right now. Oh please may she be okay... Sniffing mightily, Sukaira looked up when two tiny feet came into her sight. The boy stood there, his face now set into that dour expression again. She wondered what it took for his face to become like that, what could he have seen?

What could have happened for him to not react to blood dripping off his hands?

"Nee-chan?" he asked, looking down at the dead man when she gave an affirmative hum, "Are you okay?"

"No." she answered honestly, her voice husky from crying and the damage done to her throat. "You?" Sukaira countered, honestly feeling to herself that nothing about this whole damn fiasco had been okay.

He shook his head, his bloody hands coming together to thread nervously, not looking her in the eye. "Are you sad you killed that man?"

"...No." Sukaira once again answered honestly, her voice hard with resolve.

"Good."

xXx

You are the ocean's gray waves, destined to seek,
Life beyond the shore just out of reach.
Though the waters ever change, flowing like time,
To the path, yours to claim.

Embrace the dark you call a home,
Gaze upon an empty, white throne.
A legacy of lies,
A familiar disguise.

Sing with me a song of conquest and fate,
The black pillar cracks beneath its weight.
Night breaks through the day, hard as a stone,
Lost in thoughts all alone…

xXx

He held on tightly as Nee-chan leapt through the trees, her strong arm wrapped gently around his waist. Never before had he met someone like her, someone who was both strong and kind. The strong were always so mean to the weak and they never cared about taking care of them. They always got the best food and the best clothes and would beat you if you asked for anything more when you were cold or still hungry.

But this Nee-chan…

She cared.

Even now her face was sad as they flew through the dark forest, the pelt of the Bad Man was on her other shoulder and the sword of the Mean Lady was strapped carefully to her belt. She said they won't need them anymore and he agreed.

His Nee-chan would do good things with them.

He snuggled into her chest and she tightened her grip on him in response. She cared a lot. And she smelled clean like moss and days when thunderclouds were in the sky. Maybe she will take him someplace so he could smell like that too.

A flash of fear entered his heart and he squeezed her shirt when the thought struck him. She'd be fighting monsters a lot… Monsters and Grown ups. Grown ups were everywhere and they were going to hurt her if she went to the place he was living at. He had to tell her not to go. He had to-

"Hm? What's wrong, Inaba-kun?" she practically sang. Well not really. But her voice had this strange trilling quality to it that always made it sound so melodious. He wondered why she did it.

"I'm scared Nee-chan." Inaba confessed, leaning his head deeper into her chest and listening to her steady heartbeat. It was much calmer this time. When they were running away from the bad guys it had hammered so loud he was afraid it was going to burst. She had been scared then too. Very very scared.

"So am I…" Nee-chan admitted and he felt his throat tighten, not liking that she admitted to being scared. It didn't make him feel good. She was strong but she was still scared, which meant it had been really bad, hadn't it? "But…" she continued and he looked up at her face as the sadness melted away and a determined look took its place. "I'll become stronger and then you won't have to be so scared anymore." A smile worked its way onto her face and it shined down at him. He smiled back.

"If they are the monsters, then I'll become a demon. I'll do anything to protect you..." she whispered.


A/N: Aha was that the kickass ninja action you guys were asking for? :D

Building up to this point took a lot of work and I know that several of you were impatient, but the groundwork for this place had to be laid down for the events that are coming up to work and for you guys to have some semblance of an idea. I know that some things are very vague, but that's what happens when you play a perspective that is not omniscient. It makes for the surprises to be all the more surprising.

Anyway, until next time everybody.

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