This chapter is my longest to date. Around 20,000 words all told. I hope you enjoy it.
I would also like to remind you all that my book, A Fox's Love, is available on Amazon. There is a link to it on my profile page, or you can type A Fox's Love in the Amazons search engine. You can even find it on google. Just type in "a fox's love" and it'll be the first link on the page. Any help you can guys give me would be much appreciated.
Chapter 8: The Rating Game
Naruto stood by the open window in his room, staring out at the moon. Ever since the Fourth Shinobi War, the moon had been a bad omen to him: a sign of possible destruction, the symbol of the ambitions of a man who very nearly destroyed everything he held dear. The reason he had been so helpless since coming to this world.
Still, even though he hated the moon, even one such as him could not help but find the scene before him beautiful. Gentle beams of silver moonlight caressed the earth below, bathing the small cityscape of apartment buildings and convenience stores in an iridescent light. It was a tranquil sight, calming and gentle.
The calm before the storm.
One hour to go.
A red light alerted Naruto to the use of a magic circle in his room. He did not turn around to see who it was. It was obvious that she would come here sooner or later. This would be their last chance to speak before the Rating Game commenced.
"I'm guessing all the preparations for the rating game have been made?"
"Yes," the feminine, lovely voice of Rias came from behind him. He heard footsteps draw closer before a beautiful figure with crimson locks of hair falling around her body like an undying flame appeared in the left hand corner of his eye. "All the preparations for the Rating Game have been made. All that's left to do now is for us to go over there."
Naruto gave a noncommittal nod. "Are you nervous?"
"A little," Rias admitted quietly. "This is the first Rating Game I've ever played in, and our opponent is someone who has never lost without intending to. To top it off, if we don't win..." she trailed off, not wanting to even speak of what would happen if they lost. There was no need to anyways. Naruto knew what was at stake.
"It's okay to be nervous," Naruto told her. "We all get a case of jitters during our firsts. I remember the first time I ever saw combat." A mildly self depreciating chuckle escaped his lips. "I was so frightened that I ended up having to be saved by my jack ass of a teammate. I don't think I've ever felt so humiliated before or since."
Rias smiled at his attempt at brevity, though the frown soon returned.
She looked back out the window, her lower lip getting worried between her teeth.
"Do you think we can win?"
It was a testament to how much his opinion meant to her that she would ask that. None of the other members of their peerage, except for maybe Akeno, had ever seen this side of her; the vulnerable side that needed to be reassured by someone else. All they ever saw was the strong and confident Rias who never backed down and treated her peerage like family. Naruto felt privileged to know that he was one of the few who would ever get to see this side of the normally strong woman.
Naruto turned away from the view out of his window so that he could look more fully at the woman beside him. He contemplated her for a moment, not saying anything. In return, Rias did not speak. She knew him well enough by now to know that he was consciously choosing his words. It just took a while for him to actually speak because Naruto had a really bad tendency to blurt out the first thing that came to mind.
"Do you trust me?" he finally asked. Rias just looked at him with wide eyes, as if she had not anticipated him asking such a question.
"Of course I trust you." It was almost surprising how quickly the answer came from her lips. Even though she was caught off guard by the question, she still answered without a seconds hesitation. There was just something about Naruto that made her feel like she could trust him with anything. "This may come as a surprise, but out of all the people in my peerage, it is you that I trust the most."
And it was a surprise, but mostly to Rias. She shouldn't have been so shocked, she knew. Hadn't she spent nearly every waking moment with Naruto since reincarnating him? Despite this fact, the amount of faith she had in him still came as a great surprise.
Perhaps a part of that was due to her. When he'd first became a member of her peerage, Rias had been intrigued. She wanted to learn more about this mysterious figure who seemed so open and yet so distant and enigmatic at the same time; he'd become a mystery she wanted to solve. To that end, she had spent more time with Naruto than anyone else in an effort to unravel the person behind those bright blue eyes.
In hindsight, it was only natural that she would end up trusting him more than anyone else. He was just the kind of person that people who really knew him placed their trust in. Despite being a little rough around the edges, Naruto was a person who gave his all for the people he cared about. And he cared about her. For her to do any less than give him her absolute trust was an insult to him. She wouldn't do that. Not to him.
"Then trust me when I tell you that we will win," Naruto told her. There was a small smile on his face, nothing at all like his normal, large grins. This one was softer, more real. "All of us have trained hard for this moment. Each member of your peerage stands behind you, dedicated to winning this game so you don't have to marry that jerk. Trust in those who serve you and they will never let you down." His blue eyes stared into her own green blue orbs intently. "I will never let you down."
"I believe in you," Rias whispered, causing Naruto's large, almost cheesy looking grin to appear on his face.
"As you should," he nodded, his chest puffing. "I'm completely awesome. There's no way I'd lose to some peacock who likes to shoot flames out of his ass." He then proceeded to smash the fist of his left hand into the open palm of his right, a resounding smack echoing throughout the room. "I live for kicking the ass of self righteous pricks like him."
Wasn't that the truth. His entire career was made from him kicking the ass of assholes; Kiba during the Chunin Exams, Neji back when he was a prick in the finals, Gaara before he became cool, Kabuto even though he got his ass kicked as much as he kicked ass during that battle. Still, he hit that sucker good when he surprised the douchebag by completing the Rasengan.
Every single battle he fought had been a battle against some kind of self-righteous douche who thought they could do whatever the hell they wanted because they were strong.
Assholes. Every one of them.
"Riser's going down."
Rias giggled at the blond's antic. In response, Naruto's grin widened, not just showing his pearly whites, but also stretching from ear to ear and making his eyes squint and his whiskers stretch. It was actually a rather endearing look, even if Rias thought he looked kind of goofy.
Feeling bold, she walked up to him and pressed her body against his. Her arms came up and wrapped around his torso, pulling her body even closer, so close she could feel her bosom pushing against his pectorals. She tucked her head underneath his chin, her nose resting against his collar bone and allowing her to inhale his comforting scent.
Earth and ramen. Strange, but somehow comforting. Don't ask why.
"Rias?" Naruto sounded confused, which he was. Even if this was not the first time they had shared an intimate moment together, the circumstance between now and then were different...actually, now that he was thinking about it, it really was just like Rias to randomly hug him. Satan knows did it often enough, hugging him, that is.
Hearing his voice caused Rias to press herself deeper against him. With her cheek now resting directly over his heart, she could hear the steady "thump, thump" of his heartbeat along with the comforting warmth she had come to associate with Naruto. And much like his warmth, the sound of his beating heart gave her solace.
"Let me stay like this until we have to leave," she murmured softly. Her eyes involuntarily closed as she allowed Naruto's presence to encompass her
"Sure. We've got time enough for this." The muscles of Naruto's chest rippled before his arms came up and wrapped around her. His warmth engulfed her, making Rias feel secure in ways she had not felt since she was a child. It was different from the way she felt when her father or brother held her, better, but it was still similar enough that her mind drew up a comparison between now and those simpler times.
Nuzzling her face against his chest, Rias sighed, content, feeling that if only she could stay like this for the rest of her life, everything would be better.
Too bad life sometimes has a way of getting in the way of such things.
They were all there. The entirety of Rias' peerage had gathered in the clubroom. Each of them was doing their on activities to help them keep calm, or as calm as possible, as the time before the Rating Game continued ticking down.
Rias sat behind her desk, eyes closed, elbows propped on the wooden surface and hands clasped together in front of her face. She was the picture perfect of calm, at least on the outside. On the inside she was a boiling pot of anxiety and emotion. Standing beside her was the ever faithful and sadistic Akeno, who appeared unusually tense despite the serene smile on her face.
Over by the pair of couches that surrounded the coffee table was the bulk of Rias' peerage. Kiba was checking his blades, even though he knew they were perfectly sharp because he had made them with his Sacred Gear. Asia and Issei sat together, the blond nun sitting as close to Issei as possible without actually holding onto him. She looked about ready to climb onto the boy's lap in her desire to receive some comfort. Meanwhile, Issei was clenching his pants with his fists, a nervous look on his face.
On the other couch was Naruto and Koneko. Despite them having the couch to themselves, the two were sitting even closer together than Asia and Issei. Which would make sense considering Koneko actually was sitting on Naruto's lap. The cute, white-haired first year had her rear plopped on Naruto as she tightened the straps on her black and pink fighting gloves.
As she turned her left hand over, the hardened leather surface along the knuckles gleamed slightly in the lighting of the room. While hard leather would not be as damaging as, say, brass, they would still increase the amount of damage dealt with each blow. Sometimes that was all the difference between victory and defeat. The fact that they were covered in seals to increase their durability and damage potential notwithstanding.
The gloves had been a gift from Naruto. He had given them to her just a little while ago and she wanted to make sure they looked perfect.
While she did this, Naruto had his arms wrapped securely around her waist and his chin was resting on the crown of her head. Unlike the other members of Rias' peerage, who were doing something to keep themselves busy, he was not. Instead he sat there, eyes closed and breathing so slow that it was only thanks to her enhanced hearing that Koneko knew he was still among the living.
The atmosphere was definitely apprehensive. Nail biting even. Everyone knew that in just a few short minutes they would all be fighting in their first ever Rating Game, one in which the stakes were far higher than they could have ever expected. Their president's livelihood was on the line. That was a lot of pressure to put on a group of newbies.
Needless to say, the tension was more then thick enough to cut with a knife.
Not even Naruto was willing to break this silence, suspenseful as it was. Brevity would not help them here. Only by confronting their anxiety head on would any of these people in this room be able to move forward.
And if they couldn't, well, better that he not give them a false hope by making claims he couldn't keep like he used to do as a child. Naruto had plenty of confidence in himself, but he couldn't carry the whole peerage on his own, nor would he; Naruto wasn't their babysitter.
"Um... Buchou?" Issei broke the stillness that pervaded the room. Rias opened her eyes and looked at him.
"What is it, Issei?"
"I was just thinking about this, but you mentioned having two bishops. Why isn't your other one here?"
Kiba's and Koneko's expressions turned grave. Akeno did not react outwardly, but even her demeanor seemed to shift, looking a little more downtrodden than before.
Rias sighed. She did not like to think about her other Bishop. Not because of anything her Bishop had done, but rather, because being reminded of her Bishop reminded Rias of her own shortcomings and failure as a King. "Unfortunately, my other Bishop will not be participating in this round. I will explain his situation eventually, but not now."
Whether Issei would have responded or not became a moot point when the ground of the clubroom lit up with silver light. A magic circle appeared on the floor, from which Grayfia emerged, looking as composed as she always did.
"There are only ten minutes left until the battle starts," she informed them. "Have all of you finished your preparations?" When everyone nodded she continued. "Please remember that the great Devil, Lucifer-Sama, will be observing the battle."
Rias raised an eyebrow. She also looked more than a little annoyed. "Oh? So my dear onii-sama is going to watch us, then?"
"Eh?" Issei looked confused. "Onii-sama?"
"The president's older brother is none other than the Demon King, the great Maou, Lucifer-Sama," Kiba supplied helpfully. Thanks for stating the obvious.
"WHAAT!?" Issei's reaction was very much an overreaction. "But I thought Buchou was from the Gremory household!"
"The original Demon King died during the war between the three factions," Naruto informed a surprised Issei, who did not know Naruto had this knowledge. Rias was just as surprised as well. "However, the Devils need their King, thus, it was decided that the Devil with the greatest strength would be crowned the new Demon King. The one given the title of Maou is considered the strongest alive, having succeeded the four founding Maous: Lucifer, Beelzebub, Leviathan and Asmodius."
"So...basically, what you're saying is that Buchou's brother was chosen as the next Demon King?"
"More or less," Naruto gently rubbed his hands up and down Koneko's arms, earning a pleased noise from the girl in question. Thanks to his sensing abilities he could feel her anxiety, and his comforting chakra was enough to ease at least some of that. "Sirzechs Lucifer, the Crimson Satan, is Rias' brother."
"Ara, ara," Akeno smiled as she held a hand to her cheek. "It seems you've been paying attention to all those lectures I gave you."
"Of course," Naruto smiled at the sadist. "Your help was invaluable."
"Ara, ara, I'm so pleased."
"Wait," Rias furrowed her brow as she looked between her Queen and Naruto. "What do you mean you've been giving him lectures?"
"Kitsune-kun asked me to teach him more about the underworld and its history," Akeno said pleasantly, her eyes opening very slightly as she gave Rias a challenging smirk. "He looked so cute and...delectable, practically on his hands and knees, begging me to help him." The buxom ravenette actually shuddered, a soft moan escaping her throat. Both Issei and Asia blushed at the noise, while Rias and Koneko glared at the girl. "I simply couldn't refuse him." When Rias glared at her, the Lightning Priestess' smile widened. "Jealous?"
"Hardly," Rias grit her teeth. "Still, why didn't he simply come to me instead of you?"
"Because I prefer talking to you about non devil related things," Naruto answered for her. "I enjoy talking to you as a man would to a woman, not a student to a teacher."
Rias' cheeks became suffused with color. Akeno saw this and giggled, placing her cheek in her hand. "Kitsune-kun is such a romantic. I think I'm beginning to feel a tad envious of my King." She looked over at Naruto and licked her lips sensuously. "Would you ever consider having an affair with me?"
As Rias once more returned to glaring at her Queen, Naruto chuckled. "Kind of hard to have an affair when I'm not dating anyone at the moment." Being the still slightly oblivious idiot that he was, Naruto did not notice Rias wilt slightly at the comment. He did feel Koneko's shoulder slump, but assumed she was just relaxing into his embrace. "Besides," he gave the Yamato Nadeshiko a challenging look, "I'm not sure you would be able to handle me."
"Oh, I can handle you alright," Akeno's smile matched Naruto's almost to a T. Almost because her smile was tinged with just a touch of what could only be described as sadism. And yes, sadism is a facial expression. "I just might break you in the process."
"Okay, that's enough you two," Rias snapped. "We don't have time for you to be flirting."
"Ara." Akeno smiled pleasantly. "Sounds like someone is jealous."
Rias glared at her second in command. Thankfully, before the situation could degenerate further, Grayfia stepped in. "The time is near. Everyone, please step into the magic circle where you will be transported to the arena that the Rating Game is taking place in."
Everyone got up and walked into the glowing red circle that appeared on the ground. Naruto kept one hand on Koneko's shoulder as Rias walked up to him. She did not do anything, but she was still closer to him than everyone barring the small, white-haired first year.
There was a flash of light before Naruto and the others became suffused in color. Their forms dissolved only to reform seconds later as they found themselves standing exactly where they had been before.
"What the...?" Issei looked around in confusion. "We're still in the clubroom. Did the spell not work?"
"Greetings everyone." The familiar voice of a certain maid sounded from the speakers. "I am Grayfia, a servant of the Gremory Family. I have been charged with the honor of refereeing the match between Riser Phenex and Rias Gremory. Please note that my master, Sirzechs Lucifer-Sama, will also be observing this match. After taking in the opinions of both Riser-Sama and Rias-Sama, we have decided to use a replica of Kouh Academy, the school that Rias-Sama attends in the human world, as the battlefield."
"What does she mean by replica?" asked Issei.
"Take a look outside."
Issei looked at Rias oddly for a moment, but soon followed her advice, opening one of the shutters that kept the window closed.
What he saw would forever be engraved in his mind. The ground of Kouh Academy looked the same as always. The beautifully crafted Western style building sat in the middle of a grassy field surrounded by a fence, lush trees and more buildings. Everything looked exactly as it always had.
Except for one difference.
The sky. It was completely white. As far as the eye could see, stretching across for miles, was a pure white sky. It didn't even look like a sky, just a blank canvas that God had forgotten to paint on when he made the world.
"That sky shows that we are in an alternate dimension created by Devils to host the Rating Game."
"Impressive," Naruto whistled as he took a look outside as well. "Creating an alternate dimension is very difficult, at least for humans. That Devils can do so and make it look so realistic like this is pretty damn amazing."
"Does that mean there are humans who can create alternate dimensions?" asked a curious Kiba.
"Some," Naruto answered, "But it's a very rare ability most often limited to those with bloodlines, or genetic traits that are carried through the blood." The Sharingan had been particularly good at creating alternate realities. It had also been Obito's specialty.
"Both parties have now been transferred to their respective strongholds," came Grayfia's voice once more. "Rias-Sama's team is in the Occult Research Clubroom. Riser-Sama's team is in the Student Council room. To promote your Pawns, you will have to proceed to the opponent's stronghold."
"Naruto," Rias grabbed the blond Uzumaki's attention. She held out her hand, showing a small ear bud resting on her palm. "This is a communicator. It will allow everyone to keep in touch at all times."
"Thanks," Naruto said as he put his hand in hers. It lingered for a moment longer than necessary before he grabbed the communicator and put it in his ear.
"So all I need to do in order to get promoted to Queen is enter the new schoolhouse," Issei pounded a fist into his open palm. "Then I can become the strongest piece in the game!" He was so ready for this. After all the tor―training he had been through, there was no way he could lose now. This was his moment! His time to shine! Just you wait, harem, he was coming!
"Ara, ara, you make it sound so simple."
Naruto responded to Issei's words much more bluntly than Akeno. He smacked the boy in the back of the head, causing the poor pervert to nearly fall flat on his face as he stumbled forwards.
"Don't think it will be that easy, Ise," Naruto chided the boy. "You have to remember that in order to get to the new schoolhouse, you will more than likely have to go through at least several of the douchebag's servants, each of which will most likely be a Bishop, Knight, or Rook. They'll be guarding against intrusion."
"You also have to remember that Riser's Pawns will also be trying to enter our territory," Kiba added. "And seeing how Riser's got a full set, it means we'll have to deal with eight Pawns as opposed to our one that he'll have to take care of."
"Ugh," a cloud of depression formed around Issei. Asia took a weary step back as black steamers leaked out of his body like a gas line that had been perforated. "I see your point."
"Don't worry too much," Naruto grinned, slapping the boy hard enough on the back to make him stumble. Issei glared at the blond, who pretty much ignored it. "Rias has likely got a plan for dealing with the douche's harem." He also ignored the way Issei began crying at the mention of Riser's harem. "Have a little faith in her just like she does in you, alright?"
At the mention of their president, everyone turned to Rias, who had taken to sitting behind the desk.
"Our first task will be to take out Riser's Pawns," she told them. "He has eight of them, and it will be problematic if he manages to promote one of them, much less all eight of them, into Queens."
"You seem awfully calm about all this..." Issei mumbled, obviously not seeing how someone could stay so calm when they were on the cusp of a battle that would determine more than just who won and who lost. Rias was fighting with her hand in marriage on the line. How could anyone be calm with that kind of pressure on them?
"The battle has just started," Rias said, sipping at a cup of tea that Akeno had prepared for her. "Rating Games like these tend to take a long time. There is no point in worrying right now when we have only just begun."
As she spoke, Naruto walked up to the desk and placed a sheet of paper, which displayed a map of the school, on it. It was a very simplistic map, using different colored blocks to represent sections of the academy.
"The enemy base is the new school building," Rias began, pointing out the large block that represented the building in question. She then began moving her finger across the board until it was pointing at a patch of yellow. "Going through the quad is the fastest route to get there, however..."
"It's in clear view of the new school building," Koneko pointed out.
"Yes," Rias nodded. "And because of that, the risks are far too great to go through there."
"Then maybe we should go through the track and field grounds behind the new school building?" Issei suggested.
"A sound idea, but one the enemy is likely expecting," Naruto spoke up. "I wouldn't be all that surprised if they stationed both Knights and Rooks at that clubhouse right there." He pointed towards the orange block with the word clubhouse written on it.
"Kitsune-kun brings up a good point," Akeno sounded a lot more serious than usual. "That's a very obvious first move. We would be walking into a trap."
"Buchou," Kiba got everyone's attention. "We could get closer to the new school building by going through the Gymnasium. Perhaps we should head there first?" His index finger landed on the two purple squares that had the word Gymnasium written inside of them. "It's close to our base, and at the same time, we can gather more information on our enemy."
"Intelligence on our enemy is something we're lacking right now," Naruto informed Rias. As someone who'd been apprenticed to a former spy-master, the young Uzumaki was well aware of how the information game worked. He just tended to act like he was ignorant and stupid because it made people underestimate him...and it was more fun. "Information is something we'll need if we want to have any hope of fleshing out a plan."
Rias considered all the thoughts being given to her. "In Chess terms, the Gym is at the center of the board. The first side who takes control of it will certainly have an advantage." She leaned over the desk. "It's decided then. However, I think a powerful Rook, rather than an agile Knight, would be best suited for this test."
"In an enclosed space, a heavy hitter will definitely have an advantage," Naruto agreed.
"This war seems very difficult."
"This isn't war," Naruto said. Although he spoke quietly, everyone heard him.
"Naruto?" Rias looked at her servant in worry. There was something about the expression on his face that unnerved her. It reminded her of the night he had killed Dohnaseek.
"This is nothing like a real war," Naruto closed his eyes. He managed to resist the urge to grit his teeth, but only just. Thinking about war and anything involved with the subject never failed to rile him up. "War is hatred and pain. Suffering and death. It's unspeakable atrocities and unimaginable horrors. This..." Naruto snorted in derision, an act that was so not Naruto it actually scared the other peerage members. "This is a farce compared to a true war."
Two hands touched him. One slid into his hand, the other cupped his cheek.
Naruto eyes fluttered open to find Rias' beautiful greenish-blue irises staring at him in concern. A look out of the corner of his eyes showed Koneko holding his hand. She was also looking up at him in worry.
He squeezed Koneko's hand reassuringly and smiled at them. "Sorry you guys. I got a little sidetracked."
"Are you okay?" asked Rias, her thumb stroking one of the whisker marks on his cheek. She had found during the ten day grace period that they were very sensitive and that just by touching them, Naruto would become putty in her hands. She had used this knowledge to great effect then, and it would serve her well here she was sure.
"M'fine," Naruto leaned into Rias' hand, even going so far as to bring his free hand up to hold hers in place. The act her hand on his cheek, her thumb rubbing his whiskers, served to calm him down. "Thank you," he let his thumb caress the back of Koneko's hand. "Both of you."
"Bastard," Issei muttered darkly. If looks could kill, the glare he threw at the spiky-headed blond would have surely caused instant death. "I suddenly have this incredible urge to strangle that blond bastard. Hogging all Buchou and cute little Koneko-chan's attention like that."
Standing beside him, Asia took his hand.
"You shouldn't begrudge Naruto-san for something like that, Ise-kun," she admonished him lightly.
"I guess," Issei's cheeks became stained red as Asia stared into his eyes. "Fine, I won't strangle him." He pouted a bit. "I'm still mad though."
Asia's response to his words was to giggle.
"Ara, ara." Issei then stiffened and his face burst with color of the red variety when a pair of large, bouncy oppai were pressed into his back. To go along with the ginormous melons smashing into him from behind, a pair of arms went around his neck. "There, there, Ise-kun," Akeno's hot breath washed across his ear, making him shudder. "There's no need to be jealous."
Issei would have said something, but his brain had shut down.
Asia just puffed up her cheeks as she glared at the Yamato Nadeshiko, tears gathering in her eyes. "Muu~ I-I don't wanna be left behind by Akeno-senpai!" Thus, she quickly pressed herself into Issei's front, making steam starting coming out of the boy's ears.
Over in a corner, Yuuto quietly pouted.
He felt like a seventh wheel.
After a few more seconds, Rias disengaged her hand from Naruto's cheek. She walked back over to the desk and faced her servants.
Koneko had not let go of Naruto's hand.
"To start things off, we need to protect our front line. Yuuto, Koneko, I want you to set some traps in the forest surrounding the clubroom."
Before Koneko took off to do her assigned duty, Naruto stopped her. As she looked up at him with her large, amber eyes, the blond carefully reached into her hair and found her ears. After her initial stiffening from the contact, the first year student eventually relaxed and let out a soft purr.
"You'll be careful out there, right?" asked Naruto.
"Don't worry," Koneko nuzzled her head against his eyes. "I'll be careful."
"Alright then. Good luck."
Rias frowned as she watched Naruto staring worriedly after Koneko. She now knew why the amount of affection Naruto always showed her Rook bothered her. While she would never admit it out loud, Rias was jealous of how close the two were.
As far as she could tell, there was no discernible reason for their closeness. Koneko and Naruto couldn't be more different from each other. Naruto was loud, brash, and obnoxiously cheerful. Koneko was quiet and unobtrusive. Two such different people should not be able to get that close, at least not that close that quickly. And yet from the moment those two had met, a bond had been formed somehow, someway, even though no one could see why.
Yeah, that bothered her a lot. She spent so much time trying to get close to Naruto whereas Koneko hadn't done a single thing and seemed to earn more affection from the whisker-marked blond than everyone else in the room combined. How could that not bother her?
Shaking her head in irritation, Rias dispelled those unhelpful thoughts and turned her head to look at her Queen. "Akeno, after the traps are set, cast some spells around the perimeter of the forest and in the sky."
"Very well," Akeno bowed before walking out of the room, leaving Asia, Issei, Naruto and Rias as the only members left.
"I should get going to," Naruto informed them. "If I'm going to get my surprise for the phoenix douche ready, then I'm going to need time to prepare."
"Oh, I see," Rias looked disappointed, but quickly drew herself up. Naruto's task was important, quite possibly the most important task of all. It was literally their ace in the hole. She knew that it was best he get started as soon as possible. He couldn't spend his time with her. "Good luck, Naruto and...please, be careful."
Naruto offered her a smile. "Hey, it's me," he flashed her a grin and tossed her a wink before leaving the old school building. Rias watched him go, her eyes shimmering with a mixture of worry, concern, and faith. As the door closed behind her blond servant, she sighed and sat down heavily in the chair.
"That's what I'm afraid of."
Naruto listened to the chatter over the communicator between his friends. It seemed they were all done setting traps, and Koneko and Issei were now preparing to confront the enemy in the Gymnasium. He wished them luck.
And since the action was about to get started, that meant it was all the more imperative that he complete the first phase of his own task. Sneaking passed all the guards outside of the new school building had been a cinch. None of them were ninja or even had remote sensing abilities.
The new school building was pretty much empty. Obviously, that douchebag Riser had sent all of his pieces out to counter Rias' own peerage members. It was just as Rias said, Riser had so much confidence in the power behind his Phenex abilities that he had left himself exposed.
Naruto would make sure to teach him the price of his hubris soon enough.
He walked down the hall with stealth earned from years of pranking a village filled with shinobi. No noise came from his feet as they touched the ground. His movements were beyond silent, like a ghost. Instead of simply walking along the floor, it was more like he was gliding across it.
Eventually, Naruto reached the room that would best suit his purpose. After closing the door behind him just in case Riser or one of his servants came down this way by chance, he walked further into the empty classroom and stood in its center.
The first thing Naruto did was make exactly four clones. He winced as he felt the drain on his chakra. He had put a good deal of chakra into each clone, an estimate of five clones worth each, meaning he had just created an equivalent of twenty shadow clones.
His limit was thirty.
Since they were him, they already knew their orders and quickly disappeared out of the room. Those clones were essential to his plan to beat Riser. Hopefully, they wouldn't get caught or his plan would be ruined before it could even begin and he would end up letting Rias down.
He wondered how long it would take them to finish the handseals for his newest jutsu. Part of the reason he had moved out so soon rather than stayed with Rias was because the jutsu had 156 seals needed to activate it. And as much as he didn't want to admit it, he sucked at doing hand seals. That was why all of his jutsu were simply variants of the Rasengan, which required no handseals. Only the henge, sexy jutsu, shadow clones, and his water swords actually required hand seals. And they only required a single hand seal so it wasn't like doing them was difficult. His clones would need a good deal of time if they were going to do all those hand seals correctly.
Hopefully none of them would mess up.
With his clones off on their assigned tasks there was only one thing left for him to do. Sitting down in the center of the classroom, Naruto assumed the lotus position. His breathing slowed until his chest was practically still, his body stopped moving entirely. He was, for all intents and purposes, a statue.
He didn't know how much Senjutsu chakra he would be able to take in, but every little bit helped.
"There's the gym," Issei, Kiba, and Koneko all saw the Gymnasium looming over head. It was a large, rectangular building with a rounded roof similar to a military barracks that housed soldiers. The walls were cream colored and made of brick, while the roof was made from steel instead of tile.
"I'll go on ahead while you two head inside," Kiba told them, getting a nod from both Issei and Koneko. As the Knight of their group sped away, the Pawn and the Rook made their way inside of the Gym.
"Man, this is a really good replica," Issei murmured as they stepped inside. It was dark, most of the lights were out, but he could still make out enough of the room to see that it looked exactly like the original gym it was made to resemble. It had everything his gym had. Even the items strewn about the inside looked just like all of the stuff Kuoh Academy's gym possessed.
"We can get up to the stage from here," Koneko pointed to a set of stairs. Saying this, she walked up the stairs and towards the curtains that usually hid the stage from view.
Issei followed her, but was forced to stop when Koneko halted at the edge of the curtains and crouched down. "Koneko-chan?"
"There's someone here...the enemy."
"We know you're there, servants of Gremory!"
Not very good at stealth, these two.
Since hiding was useless, the pair decided not to hide anymore.
They walked further onto the stage, out into the open, and took note of the four standing below them.
"Three Pawns and a Rook," Koneko studied the four in great detail. "Issei-senpai, you get the Pawns. I'll take on the Rook."
"Got it!" Issei held up his arm. "Boosted Gear! Standbye!"
"It's demolition time~!"
"Gya!" Issei almost took a step back at the sound of a pair of chainsaws activating. The loud "vroom!" that emitted from the two pieces of lawn equipment turned weapons damn near scared the crap out of him! And just what the hell were they doing wielding chainsaws anyways? Little girls should not be using such dangerous equipment!
The duo holding the chainsaws were twins. They were a pair of very young looking girls with turquoise hair, which they kept tied to one side with a yellow ribbon, and blue eyes. Both of their outfits consisted of a gym uniform: a pair of white t-shirts with blue accents, black leggins, and blue sneakers over knee high socks. Their clothing was similar to the girls Kouh Academy Gym uniform, only it did not have the logo.
The loud thudding sound followed by a just as harsh snap!" let Issei know that Koneko had engaged the Rook. Despite his curiosity, he did not look at the battle. Blond-Bastard-Sensei had told him to never let his eyes leave his opponents. During his training, every time he had looked away from that damn sadist, the blue-eyed Uzumaki would make sure he paid for it with blood and pain. If Issei didn't know any better, he would say that bastard took joy in his pain.
And people said Akeno was the ultimate sadist.
In either case, it was a damn good thing he refused to take his eyes off the ball, so to speak, because it meant he saw when one of the Pawns moved. It was the one who had nearly done him in during the time when he and the other members of the peerage met Riser. His stomach was still smarting from when the quiet and unassuming girl knocked him through the ceiling with that damn stick of hers.
She was another young girl. Her hair was a light blue in color and done up in four short ponytails, two of which were pointed up while the other two were pointed down. The front of her hair featured a split across the forehead, so her bangs framed her face. Her eyes were a light brown.
Her clothing consisted of a white haori with a red obi, which was worn under a red happi coat. She had bandages on her forearms and shins, and wore black guards over her hands. For footwear, she was wearing a pair of zōri.
The girl, Issei couldn't remember her name, came in, swinging her wooden staff at his head. Issei stumbled backwards, falling on his rear as he just barely avoided the tip of the staff. He could actually feel the air ruffling his hair it was so close.
Continuing to press the attack, the staff wielding Pawn swung her weapon downwards. Her attack rent the air, a loud whistle accompanying her swing.
Letting out a startled exclamation, Issei rolled over to his left, avoiding the attack that ended up hitting the ground instead. He scrambled to his feet just in time to be met with the chainsaw wielding twins.
"Let's tear him to pieces~!"
What the hell was wrong with these two? They were so violent! Talking about tearing him apart so joyfully!
They came in at him from either side. A pincer attack, which meant he had two options. Forwards or backwards.
Issei did neither.
Taking a quick step to his left, he dodged the downward slash of the crazy psycho chainsaw wielding twin on the right. He took another step forward, allowing her to stumble passed him as she tried to get over her surprise at missing. Issei then proceeded to smack the girl in the ass with a loud slap that resounded throughout the Gym and caused all the fighting to stop on a dime.
"Hmmm..." Issei looked a lot more thoughtful then someone should be after slapping a girl's ass. "It's quite soft, but also kind of firm. Is this what they call a grade A ass?"
"Oh, and I'm at level two. Nice."
"T-That pervert!" The girl whose ass he slapped just blushed. "Ecchi! Hentai! He just slapped my ass."
Several feet away, Koneko sighed as she and the Rook she was fighting halted their own fight to face palm and gape respectively. "Perverted Senpai..."
"That does it!" The one who didn't get her ass slapped growled as she revved up her chainsaw and charged at him. Issei, seeing the girl bum rushing him with her chainsaw held high over head, did the only thing a man like him would do when faced with such a situation.
He ran away screaming.
"Get back here, perverted baka!"
"I'm going to chop you into pieces!"
"I'll make mincemeat out of you!"
What soon followed was Issei dodging around various attacks made by the chainsaw sisters and the staff wielder. Unlike most people, who tended to try and dodge gracefully, Issei had no sense of grace at all. In fact, it would almost be more accurate to say he stumbled around like a blind man and the attacks coming at him just so happened to miss.
A chainsaw set to bisect him was dodged when he tripped over his own two feet. He managed to tuck his body into a forward roll and come back up, which consequently allowed him to miss getting split in half as the other girl drove her piece of lawn hardware down, striking the floorboard with enough force to shatter and shred the wood into tiny woodchips.
The whooshing sound of a staff alerted him to another attack. His body stumbled to the side as he spun around, just barely managing to dodge the blow by caving his stomach inwards.
More and more attacks were dodged in the most unusual of ways until, several minutes later, the three Pawns were left huffing and puffing.
"Haa... haa... dammit! Why can't we hit him!"
"Uugh, this is so annoying!"
"We can't seem to get past his guard."
"Alright!" Issei cheered as his gauntlet charged up another boost. Thank god he was finally charged up! All that dodging had been getting annoying. "Time for level three!" He grinned at the chainsaw wielders. "This is the end of the line for you two!"
Before the twins could even question the boy, Issei was in front of them.
The one on the left was his first victim. With a quickness that surprised even himself, he thrust his hand out and hit the girl in the chest. He also managed to steal a quick grope, but that was besides the point.
Mmm. Her breasts may be small, but even though he preferred larger boobs, there was something to be said for the small ones too.
"How dare you do that to my sister!"
Turning his head, Issei saw the second chainsaw girl lashing out with her spinning buzz saw of doom.
He moved to the left, sticking out his foot. The girl, unprepared for him dodging so quickly, kept moving forward. She tripped over his foot and began falling to the ground, allowing Issei to smack her in the ass... again.
What could he say? It was a very nice ass.
Reacting to the loud shout, Issei turned in time to see the staff girl thrust her weapon forward. He took a step back, allowing the staff to zoom past him, then gripped the weapon with his gauntlet covered hand. His other hand came down and struck the weapon, breaking it in half. Before the girl could get over her surprise at losing her weapon, Issei followed through with a strike to the girl's shoulder.
A frown came to his face as the girl he sent flying backwards landed on her butt several feet away from the other two girls he had struck. He had meant to grab her boobs. Damn. How could his aim be so far off?
"He touched my butt!"
"He touched my chest!"
He ignored the maniac twins, as he had come to think of them, and looked down at his hand in silent contemplation.
That had been really easy. Before the training trip he wouldn't have even been able to keep up with the staff wielder. Now he was fighting her and the two maniac twins with ease. He wasn't even winded.
Looks like all that training actually paid off.
"You're finished..." Issei looked over to see Koneko sitting on top of the Rook she had been fighting, holding one of the woman's arms behind her back in a painful looking grappling technique. The pained grimace on the other Rook's face really only confirmed his thoughts.
"She's already beaten her opponent, as expected of Koneko-chan!" His grin looked positively lecherous as he turned his attention to the trio of Pawns he had defeated. "So then, shall I finish you girls off as well?"
"Finish us off! No way we'll let you do that! Riser-Sama would be pissed if we lost to a guy like you!"
"We're definitely going to cut you up this time!"
The staff wielder didn't say anything. She was busy crying over her now broken staff.
"Fufufu! It's time for me to unleash my newest attack!" For some reason that was beyond all those present, the perverted high schooler began going through several weird sentai poses. There didn't seem to be any reason for it, other than maybe personal enjoyment.
"That's your pawn?" Despite being in pain, Riser's Rook looked up at Koneko sympathetically. "He's really stupid."
"Issei-senpai is a perverted idiot."
The boy in question didn't hear them, busy as he was making poses. Good thing too. Koneko's words might have depressed him. "Eat this!" Issei held up his gauntlet covered hand and snapped his fingers. "Dress break!"
There was a loud tearing sound, followed by three sets of dismayed cries as all the girls he had defeated had their clothing ripped to shreds.
Issei grinned, blood gushing out of his nose like a fire hydrant as he saw the unhidden female flesh. None of these girls were endowed like Rias or Akeno, but naked girl was naked girl, and Issei planned on enjoying this sinful view for as long as possible.
"Bwahahahahaha!" Issei's laugh was eerily reminiscent to those cliche'd evil villains found in anime. The now naked girls, hearing his laugh, glared up at him, their faces looking lighting up with the brilliance of a thousand suns. "How do you like that!? That's my new only-useful-for-stripping-girls-clothes-with-my-tiny-bit-of-magic-power special move! Dress Break!"
He held himself in a stance of victory, one hand on his hip, his other hand clenched into a fist and raised high into the air. As Issei allowed himself a chance to revel in his moment of victory, he recalled how this attack, this gloriously beautiful attack, was made possible.
Issei was sent rocketing backwards with all the speed of a freight train as he was hit by a fist that seemed to pack more power than a Rhino when it was in full rampage mode. His back crashed into several trees, tearing right through them like they were made of paper and compounding to the amount of pain he felt before his backwards momentum was finally stopped by a boulder that he hit. Even then, the boulder very nearly broke apart on him as he was slammed into it hard enough to crack it.
He fell to the earthen ground, vomiting blood as he hacked and coughed. Issei had been through a lot in recent weeks. He'd been stabbed by spears of light, he'd had to deal with Rias' torture sessions under the guise of training, and he had fought against the likes of Kiba and Koneko. None of that had been anywhere near as painful as what he felt right now. It was as if his body had been smashed by several boulders, like he had been tossed into the ocean with a led weight keeping him down and sunk so low that the pressure literally crushed him. Issei was almost positive that nothing this world had to offer would hurt as much as getting punched by Uzumaki Naruto.
"Come on, Ero-Dabegame! That can't be all you have! Get up!"
Speak of the Devil.
Issei groaned as he tried to push himself to his feet, only to fall flat on his face once more. His arms had finally given out on him and now all he could do was lay stomach first on the ground, his face lying in a puddle of his blood.
A sigh was heard above him.
"There's no way you can be finished, Issei! Come on! Give me one more round!"
"I... I can't!" Issei tried to shout, but it came out much softer than he wanted. His arms gave him enough strength to finally roll over so at least he wasn't inhaling the coppery scent of his own blood. "D-Dammit!"
"Yes you can!" Naruto insisted. "I refuse to believe that someone Rias has put enough faith in to sacrifice all 8 of her Pawns is this worthless! Now get up!"
"What's the point?" Issei whispered, tears now beginning to stream down his face at the reminder that Rias believed in him. She believed in him and he was proving her faith had been misplaced. He couldn't hold his own against Kiba, he couldn't do magic to save his life, all Rias' exercises exhausted him, Koneko kicked his ass on a daily basis and even Naruto, another new addition to the peerage, was tossing him around like a rag doll. "There's no way I can match up to any of you... Riser and the others were right. I've got nothing. I'm not fast like Kiba, or talented with magic like Asia. I don't have Koneko's strength or your skill at fighting. I've got nothing."
There was a long moment of silence. The only thing Issei could hear was the chirp of crickets and his own, panted breathing. The silence lasted for several seconds more before footsteps could be heard. Naruto came into view just a few moments later and sat down next to the rock Issei had been embedded in before falling to the ground.
"Issei, you may not be as fast as Kiba, as magically inclined as Akeno and Asia, as strong as Koneko, or even as talented in combat as myself, but you have something that none of us have. Everyone has something that they are good at, something that makes them unique. You just have to find that something that you are good at."
At Naruto's heartfelt words, Issei began to feel hope arise inside of him. Could the blond really be right? Could he have a power that no one else did that would help him get stronger?
Well, technically, he did, but he wasn't counting his Boosted Gear at the moment.
"Do you really think I have something I'm good at?"
"Of course. I even know what it is."
"Really?" Issei perked up, eager to hear what his talent is. "What is it?"
"You, Issei... are a pervert."
If Issei had not been lying down, he would have face planted.
"How is that supposed to help me!?"
"You obviously fail to understand your worth, Hyudou Issei," Naruto spoke with the utmost seriousness. Issei could not help but stiffen at the formal tone the blue-eyed Devil used. "I'm going to let you in on a little secret, one that only Rias knows. My sensei, the man who taught me everything I know and was considered one of the strongest people where I come from, a bonafide bad ass who had graduated with top grades in the art of ass kickery, was the biggest pervert I have ever met in my life."
"Really?" Issei's eyes widened to the point where they looked almost anime-ish.
"Really," Naruto nodded his head. "He was a man whose lecherous intentions were so well known that even Goddesses trembled at the mere mentioning of his name. He was an undying wanderer with an unquenchable lust for big breasts and tight butts. His title as a legendary sage with unquestionable power was only eclipsed by his infamy of perversity and legendary peeking habits. Issei," the blond's voice was as serious as the young pervert had ever heard it. "If my sensei can become a man who was hailed as one of the strongest people in my land, than you can become just as strong."
Wow. Issei had really misjudged Naruto. All this time he had been cursing the blond for being a bastard who stole Koneko-chan and Buchou from his lustful intentions, but hearing the blond speaking so highly of him, showing such confidence in him, really brought the truth home. Naruto just wanted him to be strong and had enough faith not to hold back.
It almost made him want to cry.
"Do you really think I can be as strong as your sensei?"
"Of course," Naruto smiled, standing up as Issei's muscles recovered enough that he could at least sit up, even though he had to lean against the rock to do so. "And to help you become as strong as you can be, I'm going to give you something that my sensei left for me. A legacy that I sadly have not been able to follow, but one that I think you will be perfect for."
After saying this, Naruto pulled out a small package wrapped in parasol paper. It didn't look like much, but the way the blond held it so reverently told Issei it was very valuable.
"Go on, Ise," Naruto held it out to him. "Take it."
Feeling a sense of anticipation, Issei unwrapped the package to find a little orange book. It was a rather plain book, with a basic cover that held the image of a rather poorly drawn man chasing a just as poorly drawn woman. Icha Icha Paradise, the title read. Curious as to what a book with a name like that could contain, as well as why Naruto thought it was so important, Issei opened the book.
...And when he did angels began to sing and a golden light emitted from within the pages contained inside of the small object made of paper and bindings.
Issei gasped in shock as he saw what was within those hallowed pages. Shock soon gave way to manly tears while at the same time blood began gushing out of his nose like Niagara falls.
"This... This is perfection!" Issei cried, his eyes staring at the book like it was the greatest invention since ever. And in his mind it was. Not even the most exclusive and top rate porno mags and erotic movies could compare to this compilation of orgasmic fantasy. "I've never seen something so beautiful in my entire life. The attention to detail, the amount of descriptions, the sex, the oppai! It's... It's so beautiful."
"My sensei was a great man, a shameless man," Naruto continued. "He was a man whose lust knew no bounds and was willing to risk life and limb for the sake of seeing a beautiful pair of breasts. There were two legacies that he possessed, and because of certain circumstances, I was only to fulfill half of that legacy. I became a powerful warrior, but I was never able to earn the second title he possessed, and the one he was most proud of. The title of Super Pervert."
"The Legendary Super Pervert!?" Issei stopped his crying long enough to look shocked. "You mean he's real! I thought the tales of the Legendary Super Pervert were only myths!"
"No, they are very real, my friend." Naruto knelt down next to Issei and placed his hands on the other boy's shoulders. He also filed away the knowledge that Jiraiya's perversity had apparently been felt across dimensions. It didn't mean much, but it was definitely funny."Issei, take up the half of my godfather and sensei's legacy that I could not fulfill. Find your true calling as the Legendary Super Pervert."
"I'll do it." Issei, once more crying tears that only a man can cry, clamped his hands over Naruto's. It was a total bromance moment, where two men bonded through their shared love of woman, perversion and oppai. "I'll take up your godfather's legacy! I'll become a Super Pervert!"
"I knew I could count on you, Ise," Naruto said, grinning, "Kukukuku..."
Had Issei been paying more attention to the blond next to him instead of thinking about how he would make the title of Super Pervert proud, he may have heard the sinister laugh that Naruto emitted, and not been so eager to take up the title and all that came with it.
Then again, maybe not. This was Issei after all.
"That's right, everyone! Feast your eyes on the Legendary Super Pervert! Hahahahahaha!"
Koneko, still sitting on the Rook she had defeated, did not even bother to keep the deadpanned expression off her face as she stared at the perverted teen currently laughing his figurative ass off.
"I misjudged him... Issei-senpai is the worst."
Issei did not even hear her, busy as he was laughing like a certain lecherous old man.
Up in the Heaven of another dimension, said lecherous old man also began laughing when he sensed someone else was following the ways of the Super Pervert.
Unfortunately, because he was peeking in the hotsprings at the time he started his laughing antics, he ended up getting beaten half to death for his lack of discretion.
Some things change. Others remain the same.
"Issei, Koneko, can you hear me?"
At the sound of Rias' voice, Issei stopped laughing. There was a time for basking in his accomplishments and perversion, and there was a time for business. Now was the time for business, most unfortunately.
He pushed a finger against the communicator in his ear. "We hear you. What's up?"
"Akeno's preparations are complete." The two perked up. If Akeno was done then it meant things were about to start heating up. Literally. "Continue with the plan."
Already knowing what "the plan" was, Issei and Koneko quickly bolted out of the Gym, ignoring the angry shouts of the servants they left behind.
"Hey! Get back here!"
"We aren't done yet!"
"My clothes! My staff!"
Yeah, those. Neither Issei nor Koneko felt like responding to the taunts of people who already lost. There wasn't much point. And they really didn't want to be inside of that building when the fireworks started.
As soon as they cleared the imaginary safety line, Akeno, who had been floating above the Gym waiting for them, raised her hand high into the air and let loose with an intense blast of lightning. Issei watched in awe and more than a little shock as the brick and cement that made up the replica exploded outwards, along with millions of glass shards as lightning rained down on it in an almost unending bolt. If he had to describe the scene, he would have to say it looked like Zeus or some other lightning god had gone to town on the building after it offended them due to its lack of aesthetic appeal.
By the time Akeno was satisfied that her job as done, there was nothing left of the Gym but a crater. A really big crater several hundred meters wide and a couple meters deep. The entire school building was destroyed. Decimated. In other words, it was reduced to less than a pile of rubble.
"3 Pawns and one Rook belonging to Riser Phenex-Sama have retired."
As Issei stared at the smoking crater that signified the distinct lack of remains to the school gymnasium, he made a solemn vow that he would never get on Akeno's bad side. Unless getting on her bad side served the greater purpose of seeing her wonderful boobs. He had to keep the legacy going, after all.
Naruto ignored the sounds of raging battle. The young Uzumaki blocked everything out. He was even oblivious to the loud explosion that rang out just seconds ago. To him, nothing mattered except for the act of gathering as much nature chakra as his body could maintain.
Senjutsu was the drawing of the natural energy of the world inside of oneself and blending it with their own chakra, which added a new dimension of power to the Sage's chakra called Senjutsu Chakra. In order to properly gather the Senjutsu Chakra, the user was required to balance their physical and spiritual energy with the chakra they gather from nature. While gathering natural energy, the gatherer had to remain completely still in order to become one with nature. If the practitioner could achieve a perfect balance between the physical and spiritual energies of their own chakra, and the energies of nature, they could produce a chakra that was many times stronger called Senjutsu Chakra.
That was the basic lesson that Naruto had been taught when he had been at Mount Myoboku to train as a sage after Jiraiya's death. It was one of the few lessons he understood...after it had been explained in terms of ice cream and toppings by Gamakichi.
According to Old Man Fukusaku, using Senjutsu required insane amounts of chakra. Basically, Kage level reserves. This was something of an euphemism. Technically speaking, you did not need high levels of chakra to gather nature energy or even enter sage mode. It just wouldn't give much of a boost if someone's chakra was smaller, and the Sage Mode would not last as long.
Naruto likened it to a bowl of ramen. If the broth was Naruto's spiritual energy and the noodles were his physical energy, then the bowl was the amount of chakra he had to use. Following this analogy, as inane and stupid as it sounded, if the broth was his spiritual energy, the noodles his physical energy, and the bowl the size of his chakra, then the toppings were the amount of natural energy he could gather. This was because of the perfect balance one needed between the three energies in order to enter Sage Mode. Too little natural energy gathered and nothing would happen. Too much and he would turn into a Toad Statue. Not a pleasant thought.
Back when he had first mastered Sage Mode, Naruto's reserves had been humungous. Going with the ramen example, his reserves would be considered the special super sized Uzumaki Deluxe. Now it was only a medium sized bowl. At a guess, Naruto probably had about as much as Sasuke had after their three years apart. Decent sized, definitely around the level of a Jonin, but certainly nothing to boast about.
It would have to be enough.
As soon as he entered Sage Mode, Naruto felt the tell tale signs of his change. Unlike Jiraiya, who had not mastered Sage Mode and been forced to become more amphibian because he could not properly balance his physical and spiritual energy with nature, the only change in Naruto were his eyes, which he knew by now would have a reddish brown pigment markings around his eyes and horizontal, golden slitted pupils. With a deep breath, Naruto stopped gathering chakra and stood up.
It was nearly time. The others must be coming closer by now.
A frown marred his face. There was someone missing.
Several more explosions rocked the replica of the academy as Naruto finally exited the building. Once outside, he found his comrades easily enough. Akeno was fighting Riser's Queen, Kiba was dishing out speedy moves against another swordsman... er, women, and Issei looked like he was surrounded and trying to survive against someone with a bit more combat experience than him.
The frown on his face grew ever more prominent as he dashed towards Issei, his speed so great that he literally tore up the ground as he moved. Within seconds he was within range to attack the masked female attacking his perverted companion and did so without hesitation.
A loud "BANG!" like the sound of a canon going off pervaded the grounds as Naruto unleashed a devastating straight right into the masked woman's face. The female in question flew, nay, was blasted backwards at speeds that were so fast the air around her literally created a funnel as she was thrown straight through the treeline. Trees were felled, snapping and splintering like twigs. They hit the ground with a loud crash. The woman tore a path straight through the treeline.
Talk about a devastating attack. Damn it was good to be back in Sage Mode.
"One of Riser Phenex-Sama's Rooks has been retired."
"One hit!" A little blond girl who couldn't be older than Koneko shrieked out in shock, clearly surprised by such an unexpected turn of events.. "He took out Isabela in one hit! What kind of monster is he!?"
Naruto ignored the girl as he turned to look at the stunned Issei. "You alright?"
"Yeah... Yeah, I'm fine," Issei shook himself out of his stupor as he looked at the devastation caused by Naruto's punch. There was a large path that had been blazed through the forest by Isabela. It looked like God had taken a razor blade and decided to shave a straight line through the forest. "That attack was incredible! Blond-Bastard-Sensei, I had no idea you were so... eh? What's up with your eyes?"
"Just a small power up I thought I might need," Naruto reassured. There was no need to explain the mechanics of his new abilities to Issei, nor would he understand even if Naruto did explain it. Well, maybe if he used his ramen analogy, but that was neither here nor there. "Nothing to worry about." The blue-eyed Devil looked around and frowned again. "More importantly, where is Koneko? Last I remember she was with you, but I can't sense her anymore."
At the mention of Koneko, Issei grimaced and looked away, his arm shaking as he clenched his fingers into a fist. Naruto did not need more than a second to understand what the expression and actions meant. His fists clenched and he grit his teeth.
"I see," he said, breathing heavily through his nose. For a second, something flashed across the blond's visage, something terrifying. Issei almost backed away in fright. But when the golden-haired youth with the spiky locks opened his eyes again, his expression was calm and composed, if a tad cold. "Who did it? Issei, who took out Koneko?"
"It was Riser's Queen."
"His Queen," Naruto looked over at the battle going on between Akeno and Yubelluna. He wanted nothing more than to go over there and beat that woman to death for hurting his precious friend. Just looking at the woman caused his desire to rip her flesh from her bones and rip her internal organs out one by one was almost overpowering.
Naruto did not like it when people hurt those precious to him, game with a low chance of death or not.
It didn't help that there was annoying voice in his head telling him to kill everyone there.
"Issei," he turned around and faced the crowd of Phenex servants surrounding them. "It looks like Akeno is having some trouble. Please lend her a hand."
"Eh?" Issei looked confused.
"I cannot help Akeno as I am," Naruto continued, "So I'll need you to avenge Koneko in my place. Okay?" He would not lash out in anger. Revenge was not his way of doing things. It never had been. And Naruto would not allow himself to stoop so low that he would destroy another person for the sake of revenge.
Issei sucked in a breath, then nodded. "You got it, Naruto."
As Issei began to run off, one of Riser's servants, a Knight, judging by their speed, launched herself towards Issei in an effort to stop him. The woman was on Rias' Pawn in nearly a second flat, her form solidifying from the streak it had been to a full-bodied figure on Issei's left.
"Oh no you don't!"
With speed that was unprecedented, Naruto vanished. A second later, the Knight, a young woman with dark black hair arrayed in five pony tails around her head that was being held up by a golden accessory on the crown of her head, was suddenly sent flying into the air as something hit her with enough force to shatter her jaw like it was made of glass. What hit her? Naruto, with a classic, if nearly earth shattering, upper-cut.
Up, up, up the woman soared, flying high into the sky at speeds that were close to breaking the sound barrier. At the apex of her flight, the Knight forced herself to act through the pain she was suffering under and open her eyes. She promptly wished she hadn't, as the last thing she saw was a pair leather heels descending towards her face.
Naruto landed back on his feet as the Knight he heel stomped crashed next to him with enough force that a large indent was born into the ground. The earth fractured, cracks and fissures tore the ground apart, large chunks of gravel were up-heaved with startling violence. In the center of that crater filled with spider-web patterned splinters was none other than the Knight, who had been rendered mercifully unconscious when Naruto heel stomped her in the face. And the Knight soon vanished into light particles.
"Riser Phenex-Sama's Knight has been retired."
Cold yellow eyes with bar-like pupils glared at the rest of Riser's peerage, peering out at them from underneath golden bangs. These eyes, which appeared to be made from chips of ice, surveyed the prey surrounding him.
There were only four left; two cat girls, a young woman wearing elaborate purple robes, and a blond girl with her hair in twin, drill-like curls and dark blue eyes. All four of them took a step back in fear and hesitation when they spotted the glacial gaze that settled upon them.
"I apologize in advance," Naruto slid into the Frog Kata stance. "But since it seems taking my anger out on Yubelluna is not in the cards, I'm going to have to take it out on you. If you want to blame someone for the ass kicking you're about to receive, blame your master for forcing this game on my King."
Akeno could have sworn if she were the type who was inclined to swearing. This battle had gone on for way too long as far she was concerned, and the Yamato Nadeshiko was more than ready to end it. There was no doubt in her mind about who was the better fighter between her and Riser's Queen. The woman had put up a good fight, but the superior skills Akeno had displayed proved that she was the stronger Queen.
This battle should have ended the moment Yubelluna lay on the ground in crater of her own making, her powers exhausted from their magic intensive battle. She would have been defeated too, had she not pulled out her trump card; Phoenix Tears, a rare liquid that only the Phenex family could create. With those tears all of the wounds someone received and all the magic power they lost would be restored instantly. It would be as if all the damage they had received never happened in the first place. And Yubelluna drank it.
Talk about tough luck. It was just like Riser's servants to resort to such devious and underhanded tactics.
Now Akeno was caught between a rock and a hard place. She didn't have much magic left, and what little she did have left was being used to shield herself from Yubelluna's attacks. That wouldn't be enough to win. Her shield would eventually fail and she would be defeated. Akeno didn't want to fail her King, but it was looking more and more like she wouldn't have any choice in the matter.
Two sets of eyes widened as a large surge of power erupted from below them. Yubelluna was barely able to dodge out of the way, swerving to the left just in time to avoid the giant beam of red, destructive energy that nearly defeated her in a single bow. The conical beam of sheer destruction ravaged through the air space, the heat emitted from it singing the atmosphere and leaving a heavy tang of burnt ozone in the air. Akeno looked down at where the blast originated from, and surprised to see a figure standing there, his gauntlet covered arm still extended in a semblance of a punch.
Only what had just happened was no punch. No way no how.
"Akeno-senpai!" Issei shouted up at her. "I'm here to help you get rid of this woman! Allow me to lend you my strength!"
Akeno held a hand to her chest. Why was her heart beating so fast at his words? It was such a strange feeling, one she had never felt before. Strange, but also wonderful. Perhaps she could explore this feeling later on after the Rating Games.
"Tch! It's that useless Pawn," Yubelluna scowled at the intruder.
"You might think I'm just a useless Pawn, but this useless pawn with show you what he can do!" Issei held out his gauntlet covered hand out. He glared at the red-scaled Sacred Gear with a fierce will and unbreakable determination. "If you're listening to me in there, then listen to this! I need you to give me more power! Allow me to show her my resolve!"
"More! I need more power!"
'DRAGON BOOSTER SECOND LIBERATION!'
At the gauntlet's proclamation, the Red Dragon Emperor's gauntlet changed. A second gem appeared near the elbow as the gauntlet's scale-like mail lengthened, covering up more of Issei's arm. The gauntlet took on a tad more streamlined look, no longer bulky and unwieldy, but smooth and sleek. Now it truly looked like a dragon's clawed arm.
"Akeno-Senpai! Unleash as much lightning as you can!"
"Ara, ara," Akeno smiled deviously. "If that is your wish, I can certainly oblige you." She didn't have much magic left, but she had enough for this.
The sky above darkened as thunder clouds gathered. Flashes of lightning flared within their tumultuous depths. The flashes grew brighter and brighter until a blinding blue bolt of lightning struck Issei, who had thrust his gauntlet covered hand into the air.
Rather than turn him into a crispy cinder, the lightning was absorbed into the gauntlet, which began glowing a bright blue. Sparks emitted from the Sacred Gear, electrical surges that arced and skittered across the surface of the red scale mail, creating light blue refractions that bounced off the armored gauntlet.
What happened next was unprecedented. The entire world around them lit up in a brilliant display of power. Arcs of arcane energies surged around Issei's body as all of Akeno's magic from the attack she had hit him with was boosted to several times its normal strength.
Let's do a little math so you can get an understanding of how powerful the attack was now. When Issei uses his boosted gear, each time he does his power is doubled. So if Issei had 10 pennies, then he now has 20 pennies.
When Akeno's attack was absorbed into Issei's boosted gear, the attack was not tripled in power because he was at level three. It was factored by three. So if Akeno's attack had 100 pennies, then it now has 1,000,000 pennies or x = 100 X 100 X 100.
In other words, Yubelluna didn't stand a chance.
A large cone of lightning flew out of Issei's hand and struck Riser's Queen, Yubelluna, full on. Her scream of agony went unheard beneath the roar of the lightning attack. Even her body disappeared within the brilliant blaze of cackling electricity that had morphed into a beam. When the powerful attack finally died down, Yubelluna was gone.
"Riser-Sama's Queen has retired."
"Ha... ha... I did it?" Issei whispered in shock, his shoulders heaving as he tried to regain his breath. He couldn't believe it. He had just beaten Riser's Queen, the most powerful member of his peerage aside from Riser himself. Sure, he'd had Akeno's help. Without her lightning magic, he would have not been able to do anything on his own. But, still, it did not change the fact that he had beaten a vastly superior opponent in a single attack.
"That you did."
And just like that, his small moment of exultation died a horrible, horrible death as two big, soft, round things pushed themselves against his back. The feel of those lush, bountiful oppai pressing themselves against him served to derail all thoughts on his victory, not just halting them in his track, but ensuring they would disappear entirely.
"A-Akeno-senpai!" Issei squeaked as the woman in question wrapped her arms around the boy's neck and began nuzzling the curve of his jaw with her nose. The perverted second year shuddered at the feeling of her nose gently rubbing against him. How something like that felt so good was beyond him.
"You have no idea how hot watching you blow that woman up made me," Akeno whispered lustfully. Issei's body began to shake as he was hit with both arousal and fear. Of course she would be turned on, she was a sadist! "You know," her voice purred, oozing with lecherous and most likely painful intentions. "I've always been hoping I could find someone who wanted to do a little S&M. How about it? You can be the M."
Ravel Phenex could do nothing more than watch the battle taking place in front of her with horror filled eyes. No. She couldn't truly call this a battle, for calling it a battle implied that there was a chance of victory for either side. There was no such chance here.
Massacre was a much more apt term for what was happening here. The members of Riser's peerage went against this strange Devil with the golden colored eyes and bar-like pupils and were defeated like wheat falling before the scythe. He cut them down without hesitation or mercy. They simply didn't stand a chance against this strange blond haired man.
The first girl to fall was Mihae, the last of Riser's Rooks. She had long raven hair with two tassels that went on either side of her hair behind her ears, and was wearing an elaborate purple Kimono that covered almost all of her body save her face.
Being the last piece that was not a Pawn aside from Ravel herself, and the only one with any hand to hand combat skills, she was the first one to break out of her fear and attempt to take this strange blond down. It was a mistake that would prove to be her undoing.
She closed the distance between the two of them as quickly as she could. Because she was a Rook and not a Knight, she was not very fast. Where a Knight would have gotten to the blue-eyed male within the blink of an eye, Mihae took several seconds to close the distance between the two of them. When she did get within range of Naruto, she lunged towards him, pushing off with her back foot and punching with the opposite arm of the leg she used to push off with.
Naruto didn't even bother moving away. He simply raised his hand and caught Mihae's fist as easily as he would catch a Styrofoam ball that had been lobbed his way with an overhand toss.
Mihae's eyes barely had time to widen before he retaliated, yanking her forward so brutally that her arm was pulled from it's socket. Her shriek of pain was cut off mid-cry when Naruto followed through with the first part of his attack by striking her in the gut with a knee.
There was a loud "whoosh!" as all the air escaped Mihae's lungs, followed by her body soaring away from the blond. She was launched backwards for several meters before striking the ground hard. After words, her body tumbled across the dirt like a rag doll that had been thrown by a rampaging giant. Each time a part of her body struck the earth, it left indisputable proof that she had been there.
It wasn't until she crashed through a boulder that Mihae's momentum was finally stopped.
"Riser Phenex-Sama's Rook has retired."
This proclamation was followed by Naruto attacking the last remaining member's of Riser's peerage. The two pawns. They didn't stand a chance. One was struck in the head, her face planting itself into the ground. The other received a punch to the gut, which caused her to get blown backwards with enough force that she too was sent into the treeline, mimicking what happened to Isabela.
"Two of Riser Phenex-Sama's Pawns have retired. Riser Phenex-Sama's Knight has retired."
Ravel did not even hear the announcement that proclaimed her as the only remaining member of Riser's peerage left. Her entire being was focused on the man who had just decimated a good majority of her brother's peerage and was now walking towards her. His steps reverberated clearly ominously across the ground. Each step he took further hammered the sense of despair and fear that washed over her.
"S-Stay away!" Ravel shrieked in fear, tumbling to the ground as she stumbled backwards. Naruto did not heed her words and continued marching towards her, forcing Ravel to crawl backwards in order to keep the distance between them.
This stopped when she found her back against a tree.
"Please..." she whispered, tears beginning to stain her cheeks as she felt her fear overpower her pride. "Please don't hurt me..."
The blond paused, then, with a sigh, crouched down so that they were eye to eye.
"Hurt you?" Naruto looked genuinely confused, causing Ravel to blink. "How could I possibly hurt someone who's so cute!"
Ravel didn't even have time to truly register his statement before she found herself being pulled into a monstrous hug. However, after the shock of his words left her, embarrassment felt it, not just at his words, but at the fact that he was hugging her. Not just hugging her, but actually rubbing his cheek against hers like some kind of cat showing affection to their owner.
"Awww! You're so adorable! Who knew that douchebag had such a cute sister!"
Ravel didn't know what was more embarrassing; his words, or the fact that he was giving her far more affection than anyone else ever had.
"G-g-g-get off me!" Finally, after who knew how long, Ravel finally managed to overcome her embarrassment by activating her tsundere protocols, which really just involved her shoving Naruto away by placing a hand on his face and prying him off her. When he was no longer holding her, she glared at him, though the effect was ruined by her red face. "Don't you know who I am!? I'm Ravel Phenex! Y-you can't just get so close to me like that!"
"I can't?" Naruto tilted his head and looked at her with a confused stare. "Why not?"
"Y-you just can't, okay!" Ravel shouted. She then looked away, trying to hide her red cheeks. "Besides, I don't even know you."
"In that case." Ravel blushed when Naruto grabbed her hand and began shaking it in greeting. "Hi! My name is Uzumaki Naruto! I like ramen, training, ramen, Rias, ramen, Koneko-chan, ramen, cute things, ramen, anything with orange in it, and ramen. I dislike people who try to take my ramen, ramen haters, people who don't like the color orange, idiots who think killing people is fun, and douchebags who hurt my King. My hobbies are trying different flavors of ramen and training, and my dream is to become the ultimate badass of the universe. Your turn."
"Um...I'm Ravel Phenex," the blond girl started before she even realized what she was saying. "And I like―wait! Why the hell am I telling you this! I don't even know you!"
"What do you mean? I just introduced myself, didn't I?"
"That's not enough to say you know someone!"
"Of course it is."
"No it isn't! And let go of my hand!"
"Eh?" Ravel looked down to where the blond was looking to see that she was indeed bleeding from a small wound on her left index finger. She must have cut herself against a rock when she had been trying to escape from him. "It-it will be fine," she murmured. "My powers aren't fully mature yet, so they take a while for them to activate."
"Well, while it does, why don't I help you with that." Ravel's cheeks flared to life with the brightest shade of red ever known to man when Naruto stuck her finger in his mouth and began to gently run his tongue over the wound.
"W-W-What are you doing!?" Ravel squeaked, almost instinctively, her hand jerked itself out of his mouth so that she could slap him. Before it could escape, however, Naruto caught her hand again and brought her wounded finger back to his mouth.
"Even though this place is a replica, the dirt is still real," Naruto told her. "I don't know if you guys are immune, but if your powers haven't matured yet, there is a chance your wound can get infected. My saliva has very strong healing properties and tends to kill bacteria instantly." Turning her hand over, he showed Ravel her finger. Where once there had been a thin line leaking blood, now there as nothing, just perfectly pink, healthy looking skin. "See?"
"O-oh..." What did she say to that? This guy, who had destroyed nearly three-fourths of her brother's peerage on his own, had also just healed her injury, however small a wound it may have been, and was treating her very kindly, if a tad creepily. She wasn't really sure how to take it.
An explosion rocking the area caused Naruto and Ravel to look over at the new school building's roof, where they could see a battle taking place between Rias and Riser.
"It looks like it's time for me to go," Naruto stood up. "I would suggest you stay here. I would hate to see you get injured by one of my friends."
As Naruto began to walk away, Ravel threw him the question she wanted, no, that she needed to know. "Are you going to kill my brother?"
"No," Naruto didn't even pause as he continued walking. "I detest killing, and would never kill someone unless I had no other option, but I am going to kick his ass for what he put Rias through. If you don't want to watch, I suggest retreating to a safer distance."
And just like that, the strange man who had mercilessly tore through several of her brother's servants and treated her with an unusual amount of kindness was gone.
Slowly, a blush began to form on her fair cheeks.
Rias winced as another of Riser's flame attacks bashed against the magical shield she had created. Fire licked at the edges of the red barrier that was shaped in the form of a magic circle with the Gremory family crest in its center. Even though the attack was blocked, Rias could still feel the heat coming from it. The intensity was enough that she was almost afraid of getting burned despite having blocked the attack.
When the attack died down, the shield dropped and Rias gasped for breath. The act of blocking one of Riser's attacks had taken a lot out of her, more than it should have, were it not for the fact that this was only one of merely a dozen such attacks she had already blocked. She was tiring, her body was running out of energy and her magic pool depleting. If this kept it, she would undoubtedly lose.
"Buchou-san," Asia whispered worriedly behind her red-haired King as she looked for injuries. Rias had certainly seen better days. A good portion of her clothing had been burnt off, much of her left breast was exposed, her skirt was burned up one side, revealing all of her milky thigh and black lace panties. The left sleeve on her arm was gone while the right was in tatters. The state of her clothes truly reflected her own inner state.
"That's a good look for you," Riser said with a lecherous grin as he blatantly ogled Rias' exposed chest. Despite not having much, if any, modesty taboos, the redhead quickly crossed an arm over her breast to cover it. Having Riser stare at her like that made her feel dirty and tainted.
"Shut up, Riser!" A dark reddish black orb of pure destruction formed in front of her. With naught but a thought, she sent it hurtling towards the arrogant blond. The attack struck him in the face, burning straight through his head.
"How long are we going to continue this pointless battle?" asked Riser as flames erupted along the half of his head that got destroyed. In less then a second, all the muscles, bones and organ had regenerated and the skin re-knit itself until it looked like her attack had never hit him. "Rias, just give up. You know that you can't beat me."
Rias grit her teeth, frustration and hopelessness mixing within her. She hated the fact that she was beginning to think Riser was right. None of her attacks had done any lasting damage. While they may have been on equal grounds at first, Riser had long since gained the upper hand. Despite this she opened her mouth to give a retort.
Whatever she was about to say died in her throat when another voice spoke up.
"Then it's a good thing I can."
Three sets of eyes widened as a blond haired figure glided onto the school roof, his Devil wings extended. The person who had spoken was easily recognizable. If the spiky blond hair didn't tell everyone who he was, then those whisker marks on either side of his cheek certainly did the job of informing those present of his identity. As he alighted onto the roof, standing directly in between Rias and Riser, his wings retracted into his back.
"Naruto!" Rias exclaimed with a relieved smile parting her beautiful face. He was certainly a sight for sore eyes. Despite having confidence in his strength, she had always been worried that something might have gone wrong on his end, that he might have been hurt. Seeing him standing before her made her feel like the world had been lifted off her shoulders.
"Hey," Naruto turned his head to look back at his King. His face was set into a rather famous Uzumaki smirk, which was something of an infamous look back in the Elemental Nations. Many an enemy had run across that smirk right before being defeated by a Rasengan to the face. Not that Rias would know this. "Sorry I'm a little late, but you know how these things go. The hero always arrives at the last second."
Rias could not help but give a giggle at Naruto's casual attitude even in the face of battle. It as just like him to say something like that when he was about facing off against a potentially stronger opponent.
The moment of casual brevity ended when Riser gave a slow, mocking clap. The blond turned his attention to the arrogant looking man, glaring at him with narrowed eyes and a serious frown.
"Bravo, bravo. You guys managed to defeat my peerage and only had a single casualty. It looks like I greatly underestimate how much can change in 10 days. But, just because you guys have gotten stronger, do not think it means you've won. Compared to me, my peerage is weak. I can take all of them on by myself. Even if all of your peerage was here and in perfect shape, you would still lose."
"Riser Phenex," Naruto intoned, his lips thinning. "I am going to give you one chance, just one chance to resign."
Riser looked almost amused by the statement. "And if I don't?"
"Then I am going to kick your ass so hard you'll never be able to shit again without needing a bedpan."
"How crass," Riser scoffed. "You don't have what it takes to beat me, but you're welcome to try. Maybe your defeat will get Rias to finally see reason and accept our marriage."
Naruto's glare hardened for a moment before he turned to his King. "Rias, I need you to take yourself and Asia away from here. This place is about to become a battlefield, and I would rather you two not get caught in the crossfire."
"I really don't think that's a good idea," Rias told him, looking worried. How could she not with what he just said? "Riser's powers are incredible. Even after all this time none of the damage I've given him has lasted for more than second. If we're going to beat him, then you'll need my help."
Naruto was silent for a moment. "Do you trust me?"
"You know I do," Rias said. There as no hesitation in her voice, and it filled with him joy to know that she trusted him so much.
"Then trust that I know what I'm doing," Naruto looked at her, willing her to understand his thoughts and desires with eye contact. "I can beat Riser, but I can't afford to have anyone else in my way. You and the others would only be a liability at the moment."
Rias frowned at his words. She knew he wasn't saying them as a slight against her abilities; there was something else going on here, something she wasn't quite getting. It was at the edge of her mind, and as she tried to puzzle out his words, she remembered a conversation they had several nights ago when she had let him into her confidence.
"Sealing is nearly limitless in it's application. A true master of Sealing can seal away anything. Items, power, elements, you name it. With seals one could even seal away certain aspects of the world, like time for instance."
Her eyes widened.
"Naruto, did you...?"
"I did," Naruto gave her a confident smile. Slowly, Rias found herself smiling back, until she realized something.
"But wait, if you completed that seal, then wouldn't be better if we attacked him together."
"No, there was a complication with the seal so I had to change it," Naruto said before looking at her with steel in his eyes. "Trust me when I saw that it will be better if everyone else is as far away from this building as possible, and trust me when I say that I will defeat Riser for you."
Rias nodded slowly. "I trust you, Naruto, which is why I'm going to leave it to you, but please," she added in a pleading tone, "Be careful. I don't want to see you get hurt."
Her answer was a slowly formed half smile. "I'll do my best."
Knowing she wouldn't get anything else out of her servant, Rias grabbed onto Asia and flew off the building.
"You don't think I'm going to let you get away, do you?" asked Riser as he took aim at Rias. Just as fire began forming on the tips of his fingers, a chain wrapped around his arm and jerked it off course. The fire flew off wildly, disappearing in the air after it reached a certain distance.
Riser's eyes widened as he looked at the chain, then followed it along it's path until he saw it disappearing underneath Naruto's sleeve.
"This fight is now between you and me, Riser," Naruto intoned seriously. There was none of the usual playfulness in his voice. This wasn't the time or the place for light-hearted banter. "No one else is going to be involved."
"Hmph," Riser scoffed. "Fine then, I'll just defeat you and than force Rias to submit. Maybe if I kill you, it will make her realize how hopeless her situation is."
Naruto scowled as he slowly began making hand seals. "I wouldn't talk about killing a person so easily in my presence. It tends to make me very angry."
"Like I care!" Riser laughed. "What are you going to do? Pantomime me with those strange hand gestures of yours."
"No, I'm going to do this! Sealing Art: Divine Sealing of the Four Elements!" After saying this, Naruto slammed his hands into the ground. From underneath his fingertips, thousands upon thousands of strange symbols and lines spread across the ground. A never ending pattern of elegantly drawn markings that worked their way around the building, until the entire surface became covered in black, inky lines.
"What is this?" Riser frowned. Naruto did not answer. Instead, he simply watched as, quite suddenly, a purple, four sided barrier sprang up around the dome. The lines, which had stopped flowing across the school grounds, suddenly began crawling up the purple dome, encasing the entire area in a giant sealing matrix with the new school building at the center.
Naruto winced as he felt the last bit of his Senjutsu chakra leaving his system. He had hoped it would last a little longer, but considering he had not been able to gather much guessed he should have expected this.
With his Sage Mode no longer strengthening and empowering him, Naruto felt exhaustion creep over him. It was a deep seated fatigue that made even lifting his hand feel like a chore. That was one of the disadvantages to using Sage Mode. It granted the user incredible strength, speed and perceptions, but left the sage exhausted once it deactivated.
Thankfully, Riser was in much the same position.
"What... what the hell did you do!?" Riser cried out in shock and fear. No doubt he was feeling the affects of the seal.
Naruto gave a dark chuckle.
"What's the problem, Riser?" Naruto chuckled some more as he stood up. "Feeling a little weak? Perhaps a tad tired?" Riser was glaring at him, but if anything, that look he was giving only made this moment that much more sweet. It helped that behind that glare, Naruto saw the first signs of panic entering the older man's eyes. "Are you scared?"
Riser sneered. "There's no way I would be scared of you!"
"Even if you no longer have your famous Phenex regeneration anymore?"
"What...?" Riser's whispered word was just barely audible, but Naruto still heard it. He grinned darkly.
"That's right. This seal," Naruto gestured around at the most complex sealing array he had ever created that surrounded them. "Seals off all Devil powers, even ones that are genetically inherited." He grinned darkly at Riser, whose eyes had widened. "Right now, you're no stronger than a normal human."
"That's not possible!" Riser shouted, his eyes wide in denial, shock and fear. "What you say is impossible! No one can take away my powers like that! You're just trying to psyche me out! Well it won't work you little―"
Riser's words were cut off when a kunai whizzed passed his face, slicing into his cheek. Blood began trickling down his face and dropping from his jaw.
The wound didn't heal.
"You're looking a tad pale, douchy," Naruto said, grinning a death grin as he saw Riser begin to shake at the sight of his own blood. The words were enough to snap Riser out of his fear induced freak out and glare at the blond.
"This is nothing! It doesn't matter! I'm still going to kill you! I won't be defeated by some low class, no name Devil like you!"
Naruto just smiled. "We'll see about that."
Even though she had said she trusted him, Rias was still very worried about Naruto. When the barrier went up, that worry increased phenomenally. Was Naruto going to alright? What if he got injured during his fight with Riser? What was going on inside this barrier? All questions without answers. For someone who cared so deeply for her peerage that they were more like member of her family than servants, and who would admit that Naruto was quite possibly something more than that, it was a nerve wracking experience.
"Naruto-san will be okay," Asia assured Rias. The red head blinked, then looked at the blond girl, who gave her a bright smile. "I'm sure of it. Naruto-san is really strong, right? He'll be fine. I know he will."
Rias smiled at the girl and ruffled her hair. "Thank you, Asia. I needed that." She then turned back to the barrier, deciding to wait until Naruto defeated Riser, because she knew he would. He had promised her.
While she was willing to just stand there and wait, one of them wasn't.
"Arg! I can't see anything!" Issei complained as he and the others stood outside the large, square barrier. "What's going on in there." He moved forward to touch the barrier, maybe to try and push his way through it, when a hand grabbed his wrist.
"I wouldn't do that if I were you," Akeno warned him. Issei just looked at her blankly for a second before the sadist of their dysfunctional little family picked up a rock and tossed it at the barrier. The rock burst into black and purple flames before dissolving entirely. "I don't know what kind of barrier spell this is, but it looks like it destroys whatever it touches."
Issei gulped and quickly backed away from the purple barrier. "T-Thanks, Akeno-chan."
"Ufufufufu. You're welcome."
Despite his thoughts to the contrary, the battle between himself and the heir of the Phenex clan was a hard fought one. Despite Riser being far too reliant on that regeneration ability of his, it did not mean he had completely neglected other aspects of fighting. Sure, he wasn't the best when it came to hand to hand combat, especially with his Devil powers, including the physical ones, gone, but Naruto wasn't in much condition to fight either.
Physically speaking, the last Uzumaki was fine. He hadn't taken a single injury since the Rating Game started. Then again, technically speaking, neither had Riser. The difference between their conditions lay less in injury and more in spirit.
To be more precise, Naruto was exhausted. With all the Senjutsu chakra he had gathered used up, he was feeling extremely tired. To top it off, he could not use chakra to augment his strength because he just didn't have enough anymore. Like his Senjutsu chakra, almost all of it had gone into creating the seal and that barrier. If he used anymore, it was likely he would simply pass out.
Or die. Which ever came first.
That being said, even physically exhausted and unable to use chakra, it was clear that Naruto was the better fighter. So far he had managed to stay on even grounds with Riser, who had the advantage of not suffering from any form of physical ailment.
Ducking down, Naruto felt the wind ruffle his hair as Riser's fist sailed by overhead as the man unleashed a straight hook. It was a very basic attack, one that was easily dodged. He was very lucky that whatever style his opponent had been trained in was extremely predictable. So far he had been able to dodge all of Riser's attacks just by watching the minute twitches in his muscles.
Coming up from his couch, Naruto tried to shoulder ram Riser, but was unsuccessful when the man in question back pedaled. Not deterred, the spiky, golden-haired teen followed up his failed attack by moving into a forward shoulder roll. Halfway through the rolls completion, he placed his hand on the ground and used the muscles in his arms to help push his legs into a strong mule kick.
This attack landed. Riser, unable to dodge due to how quick the attack came at him and the unpredictability of the move itself, was forced to cross his arms and take the hit. There was a loud "bam!" like the sound of a gunshot going off as boot met arm and the child of Phenex stumbled back several steps. Twisting his body like a gymnast, Naruto landed on his feet and retook his stance.
"You're looking tired, douchebag," Riser twitched at the insult. "What's wrong? Can't continue."
"As if!" Riser shouted back. "The only one who looks like they're unable to continue is you!"
Riser charged forward. Naruto took a step back as the man tried to get in his guard. The straight jab Riser sent towards his face was deftly avoided by subtly moving the arm away by bringing up his left hand and pushing the appendage aside. This left Naruto in the perfect position to counter attack, which he did with extreme prejudice.
Cocking his fist back, Naruto lunged forward and thew a powerful straight at Riser's nose. It was blocked by a forearm. The attack was followed by a loud cracking noise as flesh met flesh, yet Riser did not flinch.
Naruto frowned. So far, whenever the Phenex member had been forced to block or take a hit, he had always winced from the strength behind Naruto's blows. If he was no longer doing so it could only mean that Naruto was weakening as his muscles began to give out. He would need to end this fight soon or his body would just end up quitting on him.
Unfortunately, before he could do anything, Riser's arm twisted and his hand grabbed a hold of Naruto's sleeve. The blond Uzumaki suddenly found himself being pulled into a powerful punch that smashed into his face.
Naruto heard a loud crunch and felt a stinging pain along with something wet flowing down his face that let him know his nose was broken. He stumbled backwards, blinking his eyes to refocus them, only to double over as Riser put another fist into his gut.
"Hehe... I see," Riser chuckled. "Despite those bold words earlier, you're actually pretty tired. I'm going to enjoy making you eat those words by the way."
Riser threw a straight punch at him, easy to block and easy to dodge. Naruto should have been able to avoid taking damage with relative ease.
Which was why Naruto became shocked when the attack broke his guard and struck him in the face. The force put behind the jab was minimal. Riser was only as strong as a professional athlete without his devil powers, but that was still enough that when the attack struck, it stung.
Before Naruto could move, the front of his shirt was grabbed by Riser, who yanked him forward and struck him in the stomach with a knee. The young human turned devil would have doubled over were it not for another strike smashing into his face that send him backwards.
Disoriented and unable to put up much of a fight due to his exhaustion, Naruto was left wide open.
What followed next was a beating like no other, at least for this world. Naruto may have gotten worse beatings in his life (that time when Kabuto had nearly killed him came to mind), but that did not change the fact that it hurt a lot. Riser put all of his strength into each punch and Naruto, whose body was beginning to give out on him from the amount of chakra he had expended, could do nothing more than take it.
The beating ended with Naruto dangling above the ground, Riser's hand clasped around his throat. The older male's muscles trembled as he was forced to rely on his purely human strength, but it seemed he was still stronger than Naruto had given him credit for.
"This plan of yours as quite good," Riser complimented. Even his compliments sounded condescending. "But not even a plan as sound as this one could be enough to defeat me if my opponent is too weak. You played a good game, but it ends here!"
'D-Dammit!' Naruto swore as he saw Riser cock his fist back with what was left of his darkening vision. 'I can't let this bastard defeat me! Rias...' in his minds eye, Naruto saw an image of the red-haired beauty. She had put her trust him in, believed that he could defeat Riser. Now it was beginning to look like that trust had been misplaced. '...How will I ever be able to look her in the eyes if I lose here! Kuso!'
'Perhaps I could lend you a hand...'
Naruto's eyes widened as a familiar voice resounded within his soul. Warmth surged through his body before a sudden influx of incredible power coursed through his system, spreading to every cell in his body and giving him more energy than he could ever remember feeling in this world before.
"What the hell!?" Riser screamed in shock, dropping Naruto as a red coat of bubbling chakra erupted around him. He winced as he looked at the hand that had been holding Naruto, his skin an ashen black, having been burnt from whatever that vile energy was. Looking back up at the blond he had been beating just moments ago, his eyes widened in a mixture of shock and fear. "What the hell are you!?"
"What I am doesn't matter!" Naruto growled, his voice sounding harsh and grating. The whisker marks on his cheek soon thickened, becoming jagged, like someone had taken a serrated blade to them. His already spiky hair grew even more pointed and sharp. But the biggest change to Naruto was his eyes. What had once been bright, azure blues were now two bloody red orbs that were glaring at Riser out from underneath his hair. "All that matters is I'm going to kick your ass!"
Riser did not have a chance to say anything, or even blink before a powerful fist met his face. As a loud crunch resounded from his now shattered nose, his feet were lifted into the air as he began sailing backwards.
He didn't get too far as a hand grabbed onto his leg and jerked him back. There was just enough time for him to see the bloody red eyes of his foe before Naruto plowed his fist straight down into his stomach.
The attack not only smashed him into the roof, but caused him to crash straight through it. Large chunks of tile and concrete shattered as Riser's body fell through the roof and second story of the building. He landed on the first floor with a loud crash that was loud enough to be heard by those outside of the dome. As his body smacked harshly into the ground, the cement underneath him indented, cratering and cracking from the impact.
Unable to do anything else, Riser was forced to lay there on the ground, groaning out his agony to the world. The pain was indescribable. He had never felt so much suffering before in his life. It was as if every fight he had ever been in, all those times he had simply taken an attack when he could have dodged, was suddenly coming back to let him know those injuries still existed. Putting him through a meat grinder would be more merciful than this.
Unfortunately for him, the pain didn't stop there. As he was lying on his back, staring at the hole his body had made, a certain blond jumped down through the whole and two booted feet drilled into him with the power of gravity and physics.
With the wind knocked out of him from the attack, Riser could do nothing as the blond cloaked in vile red energy grabbed his hair and began punching him in the face. Each attack hurt more than the last as his skin cracked and burned under the assault from the fiery red chakra. His face felt like it was beginning to cave in from Naruto's punches. Already he had lost several teeth and his nose felt like it had been turned into paste.
"Naruto! Naruto stop it!"
The sound of his name being called by a familiar voice was enough to snap Naruto out of his stupor. The blond boy turned his head and saw Rias and the other members of her peerage staring at him with wide, shocked eyes. The barrier must have come down from his unprecedented surge of power. Rias, he noticed, was crying.
Realizing what was happening, Naruto took a deep breath, willing the power away. Slowly, the red energy that was bubbling around disappeared.
Ravel flew in from the sky on her wings of fire. She took up a position in front of her brother, shielding him from Naruto, who pointed at them both, even though one was completely unconscious. Behind him, Rias and the others were running his way.
"Listen up!" Naruto shouted, his half-lidded eyes glaring down at his fallen foe. "This is the only warning I'm going to give. If you want to mess with Rias or any member of the House of Gremory, you're going to have to get through me first! And I won't play as nicely with you as I did this time! Touch my family again and you're going to be in for a world of hurt!"
Ravel's eyes widened at the declaration. Right before a blush bright enough to outshine the stars spread across her fair cheeks. This boy, he...
Turning around, Naruto grinned when he saw Rias and the others running towards them. He lifted his arm and gave the group a thumbs up just before all the adrenaline from his power rush left his system. His vision began to fade and he thought he heard screaming, but couldn't be sure. All he wanted to do right now was take a nice, long nap.
The last thing he saw was red hair and greenish-blue eyes crying for him.
Now that the Rating Game arc has ended, the story is about to become a bit more original. For most of the story I've been sticking close to canon. Naruto kind of does his own thing while the canon plotline happens around him, and I've been careful to avoid making Naruto do anything that would hamper Issei's growth and development. That changes now. I won't give away any spoilers, but you'll eventually begin to see how Naruto's presence begins affecting the main story as time goes on.
One last thing before I go. The Q&A for chapter 7 of Devil Ninja has been posted on my blog. If you're interested in reading, go there. The link is on my FFN Profile Page.
See ya in the funny papers.