New Devil of The Gremory House
Life 41: Tōchaku
The first thing she felt when she started to regain consciousness was pain. A dull aching pain through the ends of her body with a more severe, piercing pain following through the rest of it. Her injuries were so severe that even breathing was enough to make her stop and cringe in pain.
She should be dead.
She'd been chased all the way here from the mainland and was being hunted across the country. She had been hurt and injured until she finally succumbed to her wounds. Now it would either be the hunters who catch her...or the accumulative injuries.
Except...why wasn't she dead already?
The young woman struggled through the pain and lifted herself up. She gasped and clutched her side in pain but realized something as she touched them. She looked down and saw that her body had been treated and her wounds dressed. And she was covered in a jacket with a bag of rice as her pillow.
"Oh, you're up?"
She quickly acted, her tails rising up and her teeth bared even as her wounds screamed in agony. She only just noticed a man seated around a fire with a dead rabbit cooking over it.
It was a human.
"Honestly I was expecting you just to keel over in your sleep from how badly you were hurt." He tried to smile at her - to put her off guard - but her eyes hardened and she continued to snarl, "But I guess you're just too angry to die." He reached over and pulled off a leg, stretching out the fat and sinew still attached to the rabbit before it snapped off and he held it out, "Hungry?"
The smell was enough to make her stomach twist with desire, but she forced it down and held true to her suspicion and hate.
The man rolled his eyes and bit into the meat, "I'll save the other one for you." He chewed and savored the meat, probably torturing her as the flavors exploded on his tongue and filled him up. As he ate down to the bone he looked up at the sky and just stopped.
"Man," He whispered, "It's just so beautiful tonight. I can't..." He paused and struggled for words as he stared up at the giant rock in the sky, "I'll never get over how stunning it is." It was silent besides the crackling of fire as he looked up at the sky and she remained on edge, "I could stare at it for hours."
"It's a rock." She finally growled out, her chest constricting in pain when she talked as he turned to look at her, "Just a stupid rock in the sky."
"The moon is not just a rock. It's a beautiful piece of the landscape! It fills up the night!" The man spoke with exasperation, "L-Like how this fire crackles in the night or how the crickets chirp in the forest! It's all great!" He turned back to her with a smile, "Don't you think?"
She never stopped glaring at him.
His smile slowly lowered in disappointment, "That's sad. It's unfortunate you can't appreciate what's around you. You lose sight of what's around..." He turned to the fire and fixed his back, "Then you could end up losing everything."
"Are you going to kill me?"
He looked back at her with confusion, "Why would I kill you after I tried to help you? T-That seems like a waste of time. And why would I want to kill you?"
"You know what I am?"
"A Yōkai, right? A kitsune or something, right?" He looked at her ears and tails, "You're a rare kind."
"And you're human?"
"I am." He shrugged, "Well I think most people would call me human but-"
"Then we kill each other. That's it." She snarled, "We kill each other."
"We don't have to." He said, "I won't kill you."
"Then it'll just be another human who does." She stood up, stumbled on her feet for a moment before finding her balance, "I kill them or they kill me." She turned and started walking towards the dark forest-
Only for a sudden ring of fire to burst around the forest that trapped her inside.
"Found you." She froze and looked around as she saw several men and women appear around the fire that surrounded her. Exorcists and supernatural hunters and even some onmyōji they recruited along the way. One stepped forward, "Nowhere left to run, monster."
She bared her fangs and braced herself, prepared to change form and fight properly if she had to-
Only for a large figure to step in front of her. Shielding them from her wrath.
Or, could he be-
"What are you doing?!" One of the hunters yelled at him, "Get away from it!"
"Sorry, I can't do that." The stranger shook his head, "I didn't do a very good job patching her wounds so I have to make sure she gets proper treatment."
"That thing is not a human! It's a monster!"
"She's not the one standing behind fire and screaming for murder."
"If you protect and harbor one of the monsters then you are just as bad as them!" They readied their weapons, "You shall be killed along with it!"
He looked back at her and showed a small smile. For the first time since she woke up, Yasaka didn't feel on edge, "Alright, but I should warn you..."
A kunai slipped into his hand as his back started to glow.
"Is everyone excited?"
"Glad to hear it." Azazel smiled at the front of the car as he heard his students cheer and celebrate about finally getting to go on their field trip. The Fallen Angel lowered his hand, "Alright, alright, calm down. We're not gonna be able to go if you lot are making a ruckus. Now before we set off I have to go over the safety regulations."
"Yeah I know it sucks but if any of you get hurt doing something stupid, which I'm sure is expected at this point, we'll get blamed. So make sure you stay in your groups as much as possible. If someone goes missing please contact one of us to come and help you. We'll be visiting Kyoto as guests so don't make asses of yourselves. I feel like this shouldn't need to be repeated but still," He nodded, "Don't make asses of yourselves."
"One more thing, this year we have so many students so we requested help from a senior student." He turned to his side where a familiar whiskered blond stood, "We'll be taking Naruto Uzuamki-kun with us this year as an aide. He'll be helping us out where he can but otherwise he'll just be another student on this trip." The blond nodded his head, "Well I think that covers everything. Everyone take your seats and we'll be off in a minute."
The train had started its travel and sped through Japan's capital like a bullet. Naruto made his way down the aisle with the back in sight. As he walked he noticed that while there were still a few worried looks sent his way, most of the students didn't shy away in fear now. Apparently his delinquent persona had faded somewhat after so many months of attending school regularly and socializing with the ORC and their associates.
As he made his way to the back he spotted most of the club members together talking with their friends. And in the back row he found Issei sitting by the window. The perverted brunette looked up and smiled, "Hey Senpai, looking forward to your first field trip?"
"I guess." He shrugged, "I mean Rias keeps talking this thing up and told me to take tons of pictures and souvenirs so you'd think we're about to see a city of gold or something."
"Might just be Buchou's a little overexcited." Issei agreed, "I think it'll be fun but best to temper your expectations."
"Couldn't have said it better."
"Uh, Senpai?" Naruto and Issei looked up to find two boys looking over the backs of their chairs to speak to them. One a bald boy and the other with glasses. These were the other members of the Perverted Trio, Matsuda and Motohama, and Issei's only friends before joining the ORC. The bespectacled student sat up, "Can we ask you a question?"
"Why are you on this field trip with us? I mean is it a punishment or something?" He quickly raised his hand, "Not that I'm suspecting you of anything-"
"No it's not a punishment. Apparently they want me to come because I didn't go last year."
"You didn't go?" The bald friend asked as he sat up to hang over the top of the chair, "Why's that?"
"Had other things to focus on. I was working at the time and I didn't want to waste any time going away on a trip when I could be getting paid."
"Where'd you work?"
"At a ramen shop in the city."
"Oh, is it the one the ORC members were spotted working at a few months ago? I thought it was weird when I heard they took up part-time jobs but if it was to help you then that makes way more sense."
"And I bet I know why you did it too." Motohama sat up beside Matsuda, "You were sending money to Asia-chan so she could come over here, right? A big brother looking out for his little sister until the end."
Naruto and Issei closed their eyes and took in a sharp breath. Shit. Yuuto's cover story about them being siblings. The blond forced a nod, "Yep. All for my baby sister."
"Hey, can we ask about what it was like when you were kids?" They persisted, "Like what was Asia-chan favorite show and what toys did she play with or-"
"Are the pervs really pining for anything they can get? Kinda sad if you think about it." A girl with brown braids and glasses walked up to the back as she talked. Her sudden entrance caused the three perverts to grimace and shudder like a cold chill going over their backs. The girl stopped by their seats with Asia, Xenovia, and Irina following up behind her, "Especially you, Hyoudou. Why would you need to ask Asia's brother gross stuff like this?"
"I didn't ask him anything, you pervert!"
"Yeah sure okay." The girl ignored the other boys and looked down at Naruto, "Hi there Uzumaki-senpai, nice to meet you. My name is Aika Kiryuu. I'm a friend to Asia and the others girls-"
"While an enemy to all the boys in the world." Issei whispered by his ear.
"All the boys or just you three?"
"Anyway Senpai," Aika continued as she took the seat on the other side of the aisle, the Church Trio joining her as well, "I have a few questions I was wondering if I could ask you."
"What kind of questions?"
"General curiosity mostly."
Naruto looked at the girl with doubt before nodding, "Okay."
"Are you and Gremory-senpai a couple?"
"Whoa! No hesitation!" She smiled and looked back at her friends, "Okay, I guess you were right. Next question; who approached who first? Because I've been hearing a lot of crazy stories and I have to know what's what!"
"She came to me first, but it was just to join the Occult Research Club at first. When Rias wants something she is relentless about getting it." Everyone familiar with the [King] nodded in agreement, piquing the interest of everyone who only knew her from a distance, "After that we hung out, she started tutoring me, cooking me food, other...things, and then I asked her out."
"Well if that ain't a modern Romeo and Juliet I don't know what is." Aika said with a smirk, fixing her glasses before she leaned across the aisle, "And now let's get to the main event. Senpai," Her glasses glinted dangerously, "Have you and Gremory-senpai gone the full mile yet?"
Naruto stared at her quietly as Matsuda and Motohama breathed heavily in anticipation. He shook his head, "You can't seriously think I'm going to answer that, right?"
"Classic divert! Might as well be confirming! And if you won't, I know some people who will." She methodically turned her head to look at the blushing Asia and Irina as Xenovia looked out the window in a daze. She turned back to the blond, "Come on, isn't it a part of the boy code to brag and embellish stories about their first time?"
"I don't know. Why are you asking me? Where is that even coming from?"
"A decade of manga, literature, anime, TV shows, and movies! You expect me to believe boys don't break out into song the moment they lose their virginity!" Aika screamed with righteous fury, "Are you telling me Greaser Travolta lied to me?!"
"I-I don't even know what you're talking about." Naruto gawked in confusion before turning to Issei, "It's like talking to a female Azazel."
"Please don't put that image in my head."
"Senpai...you're a god..." The other two members of the Pervert Trio looked at the whiskered blond with almost religious admiration, "A goddess...you laid with a goddess..."
"I-I can't begin to describe how beautiful that is." Motohama removed his glasses and wiped his tears, "To think even an unattainable beauty can be reached by a mortal."
"And she is super sexy." Aika spoke up with excitement, "I bet even remembering the act must be exciting, eh?"
"You can say that again."
All eyes turned in surprise to Xenovia. The blue-haired girl continued to stare out the window before blinking and turned back to the conversation. When she saw all the gazes she was getting she realized, "Oh did I say that out loud? Ignore that."
"Xenovia, what are you talking about?!"
As chaos devolved in the back of the train car, Issei felt a pull from his arm. The sign that Ddraig was requesting him back inside the Sacred Gear. As his friends started to get into a heated discussion he closed his eyes and dove in.
Issei reappeared in the white void, once again finding himself in the company of mindless drones and soulless husks of former Boosted Gear wielders who surrendered their consciousness for power when they wielded his Longinus long ago.
"Hey guys!" Issei cheerfully greeted the confined souls, "Been a long time. How have you all been doing? Anything new going on?"
"Ah, so much of the same I see." The young brunette sighed and sat down on the floor. Or the hard space. Or the metaphysical ground that made up this mind space he found himself in. Whatever it was, he slumped down on it and looked around, "Ddraig called me in but what's the deal? Nothing changed that I can see."
"Are you sure about that?"
Issei sat up in a start and looked behind him at the new voice joining him in this space. And when he did he found himself faced with a gorgeous blond woman in a purple dress. Issei couldn't help the line of drool that came down his chin at the sight of the beautiful lady, but quickly shook his head as he jumped to his feet, "Why is there a beautiful older woman in this space and why aren't there more filling up every inch of this place?!"
"Hehehe." The woman gave a hearty, cheerful laugh as she covered her mouth, "I see that sex drive of yours is just as pronounced and prodigious as I heard." She offered him her hand and he took it with a confused look on his face, "I haven't introduced myself yet. I'm Elsha, and I was one of the wielders of Boosted Gear before you."
"Y-You are?!" Issei exclaimed in shock as she pleasantly smiled, "I had no idea! S-So you're my senpai then, right?" He released her hand and bowed his head respectfully, earning another happy giggle from the former wielder before he lifted his head again, "But wait if you're my senpai, like them, then why aren't you-"
"Like them?" They looked back at all the cloaked figures mindlessly staring into the void and droning on about the same thing. As Issei gave a meek nod Elsha hummed, "Well it helps that I didn't sacrifice my ego and mentality for the sole sake of gaining immense power. My resilience and fortitude while wielding the Boosted Gear has garnered me the honor as one of the strongest wielders in history."
"Y-You're one of the strongest? And you did it without ever using the Juggernaut Drive?!"
"Shut up!" He barked back at the mindless zombies before turning to the woman again with wonder, "I-I can't believe I finally met someone who used this fucking thing without sacrificing their entire personality for the sake of power! That's exactly what I needed to know! That there's a chance for strength and power without sacrifice like that!"
Elsha grimaced, "Well I didn't sacrifice my mind but there were plenty of other sacrifices I made." She clarified, "I was beaten. Broken. Bled gallons of blood. I'm pretty sure I experienced enough pain for several peoples' lifetimes." The blonde woman shook her head, "There is no gain without sacrifice."
"I-I mean I know that." Issei sheepishly responded, looking aside ashamed by his childish statement, "I know you can't just get something without giving something back. I didn't mean to make it sound like-" He shook his head, "Sorry."
"It's alright. I know what you meant. Just thought I'd warn you before you got any crazy ideas." The beautiful woman kindly patted his shoulder, "There is a way to gain strength and power without giving up who you are, but it is much, much more difficult than the one they faced."
"Which is why that's the path they took." Issei flinched and turned back to see Naruto walking over to join them, "They had a fight or a choice out in front of them; suffer through whatever impossible scenario they faced and risk death, or give up what they had for ultimate power. It's a choice those blessed with strength probably face more than once."
"Oh, hey Senpai. Guess you got bored of the conversation outside, huh?" Issei casually addressed the whiskered blond, earning a surprised look from Elsha and a shrug from Naruto in return, "Oh yeah, you had a superpower within you too, right? Did it try to tempt you into surrendering yourself over for the sake of power?"
"That it did. Many, many times." The older blond nodded, "Most times I could suppress it and power through, but sometimes when I faced foes with greater power even I was tempted."
"Well what made you not do it?"
"I didn't want to give up what I had." He answered simply, as if it was the easiest and most obvious thing in the world, "I knew that even if I was weak enough to lose it, if I became too strong I'd just end up giving it away anyway. So I had incentive to become stronger on my own terms."
"You too, huh?" The whiskered man shrugged and she chuckled in return, "Not losing yourself. Not losing what's around you. These are all great motivators for becoming stronger." Elsha nodded, "You have to use them to tap into your potential."
Issei frowned, "But people keep telling me I don't have potential. Like all the time. Seriously you'd be shocked how many people have taken the time out of their day to remind me that."
"You didn't have potential." Elsha corrected, "But you've persevered. You've overcome. You've faced insurmountable odds and come out the other side stronger and better. You've broken through your limits." She held out her hands and summoned a box, "And now it's time to go even further."
She handed it over and Issei cautiously took it before looking down at it. He looked back at Naruto and found the blond smiling at him before he turned back to Elsha, "What is it?"
"Your growth had exploded exponentially in such a short time, and even your Devil side has been trying to keep up. Your Evil Pieces have Mutated, and with that change comes a chance to increase your power with the Sacred Gear." She tapped the box, "Open this, accept your potential, and become even stronger than before."
Issei looked down at the box and gulped. He slowly opened it...let the light inside shine out...and envelop him whole...
When Issei opened his eyes again he was on the train to Kyoto once more with his friends. He looked down and saw his hands clasped together. He whispered, "Ddraig?"
[You've unlocked your potential, and it has manifested as a physical form. Take in the crystal, and your new power shall reveal itself.]
Issei chuckled nervously and slowly opened his hands...
To find nothing.
He blinked, "Where is it?"
[You dropped it before you opened your eyes and it rolled away.]
Issei's emotional screech echoed through the cabin and got everyone's attention. The brunette jumped up from his seat, sat down, twisted around desperately, and repeated the cycle several times.
"Issei," Naruto leaned in, "You alright? What happened?"
"Senpai!" He grabbed his friend's shoulders and wept, "I wasted my potential!"
"Yeah was that not clear already?"
"Shut up jackass! I mean I literally dropped it and now I can't find it!"
[Don't worry Issei. If it belongs to you, it'll find its way back to you.]
"It's not a fucking homing pigeon!"
"Ah!" All eyes turned ahead as one of the female students latched onto her friend, "K-Katase! What are you doing?!"
"Feelin' up those sweater puppies! Playing with the twins! Milking the mommy milkies! I gotta get in on them titties!"
Azazel lifted his sleep mask and looked back before shaking his head, "Maybe I should of repeated it for a third time."
"It's beautiful!" Asia exclaimed.
"Look! Look! You can see all the way out to the mountains!" Xenovia said while pointing over the railing.
"I'm so excited I can't control it!" Irina giggled with joy.
Issei watched from the back as the Church Trio made their way through the streets of Kyoto. Their first visit into the greater history and land of Japan's ancient capital. It was odd seeing the three girls act like kids their own age instead of the warriors and denizens of the supernatural world they had been for most of their lives.
"Hnnnggggg," Matsuda clutched his chest and fell back into Motohama's expecting arms, "So beautiful. So cute. Like sexy angels that fill our hearts with hope." He had no idea how wrong and true that statement was all at once. Motohama tossed him back to his feet as the bald boy grinned, "Okay boys, this is our chance. Taking pictures. Winning brownie points! We're in a group with the cutest girls from our year! Let's use this chance to-"
"Issei-San!" Asia came running over and pulled on his arm, "Come look at all the cute fox figures and shrines they have everywhere!"
"Issei," Xenovia pulled out a handbook, "Is there a place we can go to for charms? I want to purchase an 'en musubi' and 'anzan' charm if I can." The blue-haired girl narrowed her eyes, "I realize that I really need to pick up the pace if I want to catch up."
"I-Issei-kun!" Irina fretted in front of the brunette pervert with a look of worry on her face, "I need help! I-I thought I could get around Kyoto easily because I was getting so used to Tokyo, but this is way too different! Please help!"
"Yeah sure, we can look over all those things." The young [Pawn] agreed and started heading down the street with the rest of his group. He had to keep a conversation up between all three girls and their questions.
Motohama and Matsuda watched on in silent horror. Aika walked up and scoffed, "You might be in the same group as them, but Hyoudou's been earning those brownie points for months while you two were just slobbering from the sidelines." She pulled off her glasses and wiped them, "Although if it makes you feel any better out of the three of them only Xenovia isn't interested in Issei like that."
"Yeah, but if I'm right - which I know I am - her interests lie in a very different person. Save you two the worry," She smirked, "Give it up."
Issei reveled in the relief and peace of walking the streets of Kyoto. It was such a lovely view and peaceful atmosphere being in this ancient place. All the people waved them over with smiles and offered them tons of food to eat. Xenovia started to drool at the sight of all the confections and Asia was already pulling out her purse to buy something. Irina was waving the rest of them over and he made his way after before-
He stopped and felt a chill go down his back. He turned around and tried to survey the area before his eyes landed on a pair of people standing in the middle of the alley without anyone's notice. As if they were invisible to everyone but him. He realized as he stood there that they were glaring at him...and they didn't look completely human.
Did they have ears on their head? Were they Nekomata like Koneko?
[Partner, be careful.]
"Ddraig?" He looked down at the glow under his skin, "Who are those people?"
[They're the guardians of Kyoto. This place is guarded not by Devils or any of the factions, but by the ancient denizens of this country's supernatural roots. The Yōkai.]
They had been warned that they didn't have supremacy in this section of Japan, and it was why they were carrying around the special sigil that acted as their passport into the area. They should have been allowed in without any trouble.
And yet those glares were just so...
Issei swallowed the lump in his throat and made his way over. The two Yōkai dressed as shrine attendants ducked a little further back but they knew he had seen them. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the special permission sigil they had been given, hoping to assuage their looks of scorn.
He appeared by them, the two still hidden out of proper sight and him greeting them with a wave, "Hi there. Sorry to barge in on you like this. My name's Issei and I just arrived in your wonderful city today. Kyoto is a really lovely place." He smiled and laughed but it didn't put them at ease very much. If only he had the charm or handsome face of Yuuto to disarm the tension. He coughed and held up his permission sigil, "A-Anyway, I'm sure you could tell that I'm a Devil, but I just wanted you to know that I'm just here on a field trip and-"
"Don't even try to lie to us."
Issei paused as he noticed the sheer vitriol in their voices as they spoke to him. They glared at him before the female spoke up, "We know who you are. We know what you are. And we're shocked by the sheer gall you had in coming here yourself like it was nothing."
"W-What - I'm sorry-"
"We're watching you." The male of the duo said with a glare, "And once we've gotten an answer out of your leader then we will be coming for you and your people."
"W-What do you have against Azazel-sensei?"
"What? Stop lying! He's not the one behind this!"
He whistled as he took a picture of the scenery with his phone, admiring the absolute beauty of Kyoto's shrines and its lush greenery. Honestly this aesthetic and forest reminded him so much of his home that it was making him feel a little nostalgic.
Rias was right. This was a treat to get to visit this place himself.
When they came back together than he was really going to enjoy watching her freak out and fangirl at all the beauty.
"Hey Naruto-San." He turned back to see Yuuto walking over with a pleasant smile on his face, "Still regretting being dragged into this?"
"Naw, definitely not regretting it now. Hey, can you get in on this one with me?" The [Knight] nodded and stepped in by Naruto's side, looking up at his phone camera as they took a selfie together, "Great. Now I'm gonna send it to Rias for my update."
"I think that'll just make her jealous instead of happy."
"Yeah, that's part of the fun."
"W-Why is Kiba-kun so close to him?"
"They're in the same club together?"
"Do you think they're friends?"
"Do you think they're more?"
Naruto lowered his phone and glared ahead ruefully as Yuuto hung his head and shook it. He took a deep breath, "You know I've heard some of the students have seen us talk together and started pairing us together."
"Pairing?" Yuuto nudged two fingers together and Naruto grimaced, "Ugh! Why?"
"It excites them I'm think."
"Okay well keep it to yourself." He looked back down at his phone, "I don't want to hear any more about it."
"They switch who is on top."
"Did I not just say-" He paused, "Wait, why would they switch? Don't they think I'm the scary delinquent that attacks people?"
"They like to imagine scenarios where our personality types are switched."
"Why do you know all this?"
"Because they tell me. And ask me about it." Yuuto sounded exhausted as he spoke, "It happens with every male friend I interact with. You. Issei-kun. The things with Gasper-kun are downright horrific."
"Hmm, never thought I'd see the downsides of being the pretty boy."
"Yeah well all that glitters is not gold." The younger blond said with some venom in his voice as he stepped away. Naruto chuckled and raised his phone to take another picture as he realized two things.
Firstly, that all the other civilians that had been around a second ago had mysteriously disappeared.
And then, that there was a young blonde girl with fuzzy ears sticking out of her hair glaring at him through his screen.
Naruto lowered his phone and found the girl standing on the steps of the shrine glaring at him. And without the screen of his phone in the way he noticed that her eyes were rimmed red and even watering as she stared at him.
He looked back as Yuuto slowly stepped back into his line of sight. It was then that Naruto started to look around, realizing that a group of people had surrounded the shrine all dressed just like the girl with tears in her eyes. And all glaring at them. Or more specifically-
"I don't know what this is about but we aren't here to fight." Yuuto pulled out his permit and showed it to everyone, "We've been given special permission to visit Kyoto while on a trip. We mean you no harm." He nudged Naruto with his elbow, "Pull yours out and show them we aren't attacking."
"Kiba I don't think they heard a word you said."
"Such arrogance." The little girl seethed as her tears finally spilled, "Not only do you take her from our home, but you walk around in the day, brazenly strutting around in your disguise."
Naruto realized she was talking directly at him, "I don't know what you mean."
[Naruto, these people are different. They seem almost like Koneko and that promiscuous sister of hers-]
"Give her back." The girl growled, her face red with grief and anger as fox tails emerged from behind her.
Nine of them.
"Give me back my mother!"
The forces that surrounded them jumped and made their move. Naruto and Yuuto separated as one attacker landed between them and released a burst of fire from their hands. The two Devils had to retreat and step back as they were attacked from all sides by their sudden enemies.
Yuuto used Sword Birth to conjure up a blade that controlled the wind. With a burst of speed from his [Knight] attribute, he dodged a series of talismans and charm attacks that exploded where he once stood. He appeared behind them, aimed his sword and blasted them off their feet with a burst of wind. He continued to use this tactic, avoiding their attacks and knocking them off balance without actually hurting them. Even though they were attacking, Yuuto still sensed that there was something wrong about this entire situation.
Naruto jumped and dodged the attacks coming for him from all sides. One jumped down at him with a staff, cracking the concrete by his feet before spinning the weapon around to bring the other side rushing for his head. The whiskered blond leaned aside, letting the weapon sail over his head as he kicked his foe in the ribs to knock him over.
Yuuto formed another blade, plain but sharp, to block a strike to his flank from a knife. The woman attacking him screamed with fury as she started relentlessly slashing and stabbing at his body. He blocked the knife with his sword, sliding it down into the guard until it was caught there, and then dashed. His sudden burst of speed tugged both the knife and the wielder away with him, sending the fox-eared woman flying off to the side before he had to block another attack.
Naruto parried a punch and knocked the foot out from his enemy, sending them stumbling and crashing headfirst into the stone. The whiskered Devil spun around and blocked another attack from behind before jabbing them in the face and throwing them around. Several more miko-dressed assailants rushed him but the blond easily dodged their attacks and knocked them aside with just a quick jab to the chin.
But even with their attackers being knocked around, they picked themselves up and continued to try attacking them. Yuuto and Naruto slid next to each other in their fighting stances, "They just keep getting up."
"If this keep escalating then we'll be forced to fight back more, and if we do that we might actually hurt them."
"Yeah I don't want that either." Naruto's eyes rushed over the area to try and find some way to help him. His eyes landed on the fox girl watching them fight and he noticed a paper charm pinned to the ground by her feet. He whispered, "Hey, how are there no people here?"
"Most likely they established a barrier to keep those unfamiliar with the preternatural at bay."
"Do you think they'd run if that barrier disappeared?"
Yuuto smirked, "Why yes I think they would."
"And do their barriers involve paper charms?"
"Yes they do."
"Then let's try this!" Naruto brought his hands together and conjured wind with his Demonic Power. As their attackers jumped and rushed them, he released the power he built up and created a quick burst of wind that knocked them all back. In that moment of reprieve Naruto rushed ahead towards the shrine.
He stopped at the steps, startling the young fox girl who had been watching the whole time. Naruto's hand blurred and the girl flinched as she prepared to be attacked. But instead he grabbed the paper charm and yanked it off before setting it aflame.
A shimmer ran through the air as the barrier was destabilized.
Naruto looked back at their frozen forms as they were outplayed. And he turned back to face the little girl in charge of the attack-
Only for her hand to swipe up and smack his cheek.
It didn't hurt but her sudden strike did startle him. And as he felt a faint sting on his face from the slap, he saw the devastated expression on her face as tears filled her eyes, "S-She's my mommy. Give me back my mommy."
"Get away from her!" Naruto jumped back as the miko-dressed assailants all rushed him at the same time. He jumped back and gave them enough space to recollect the crying girl, "Ojou-sama, we have to go!"
Naruto and Yuuto watched as their forces retreated and left them alone at the shrine. The sudden return of muddled voices behind them made it clear that people were returning again.
"We should contact the others." The [Knight] said as he already pulled out his phone, "Are you okay?"
"She was crying." Naruto whispered as he touched his cheek, "She just wanted her mom back."
"Something is going on in Kyoto."
Despite her best efforts to forget and move on, Koneko couldn't help that sometimes her mind would drift back to the...scene.
And it happened without any warning.
Waking up...memory of sex.
Eating...memory of sex.
Going to class...memory of sex.
She almost blabbed about it when she was called on to read a line during class.
It was such a personal, heated, sexy moment she had witnessed without her friends' knowledge or consent. She had watched them experience a tender moment of love and passion like a filthy Peeping Tom. And then what she had done to herself afterwards in the confines of her room.
She no longer had any moral high ground to call Issei a pervert.
"Oh, do you like that?"
Oh crap! She was hearing it again!
"Yes I like it." Rias nodded while rubbing a knuckle into the back of her shoulder, "I haven't had to deal with knots and strain in awhile and this is the first time it's acting up again." The beautiful redhead was leaning back in the bath with her hair tied up in a towel. Her large breasts floated on the top of the water as she moaned, "Dammit, I can't reach the right spot."
"Oh, you can't?" Akeno giggled under her breath cheekily, "So you know just the right spot and now you can't reach it yourself?" The [Queen's] teasing caused her [King] to frown and huff as she turned her nose up, "Wow, how did Naruto help you with that I wonder~?"
"With a massage. Just a massage." Rias clarified to her friend before she could infer any other meaning, "If I ask him for a quick massage he'll give me one to work out any stress I've got. And it's just that. Nothing sexual about it."
"If you're getting the massage then it probably is." Rias indignantly glared at the dark-haired Devil as Akeno shrugged, "Rias I've given you a massage before, remember? I still hear the sounds and moans you made when my hands pushed into that spot in your back." Her face lit up a little redder even in the hot bath, "It - uh - revealed some things."
"Shut up!" Rias chirped with a blush on her face, "It's not my fault I like massages!"
"It's your fault for vocalizing it so much."
"I can't help that!"
"And I'm sure Naruto is very thankful for that."
If she moaned during massages like she did during sex...oh damn, heat was rushing to her face again.
"Okay Akeno, I'd really appreciate it if you didn't prod at my romantic life with a stick like that."
"What? I can't be happy for my friend and her budding romantic life? Her blushing maiden demeanor? Getting to have her kinks worked out of her whenever she wants?"
"Wordplay? Really? You're better than that." Akeno giggled haughtily as Rias' frown deepened, "Look I get enough teasing from my brother, my parents, and having to exist in the same space/time as Azazel. I don't need it from you too."
"Oh relax, can't you take a joke? You're not going to be stressed out for days until he comes back are you?" Akeno joked, "You just need to lighten up and...a-and-"
"I-I don't need to lighten up..." Rias gulped and panted slightly, "W-What I need is - whew! What I need is some bound - it's hot!"
"D-Did the water temperature go up?!"
"Why is it - Koneko!"
"Hmm!" The little white-haired girl looked up in surprise when she heard her name called. She hoped that they wouldn't notice just how red her face was while they had their discussion. However she also hadn't noticed that her eyes had changed color and that blue flames danced off her body when she wasn't covered by water and caused the bath to broil when she was submerged, "What is it Buchou?"
"You're cooking us alive! Turn the flames off!"
"Sorry!" She concentrated and drew back Matatabi's influence so her flames would fade away. When she did the water started returning to normal temperature and the steam continued to hang in the air. Akeno stood up from the water and fanned herself off as Rias rested against the side of the bath's edge. Koneko shrunk in on herself, "I'm sorry."
"What happened? Were you thinking about something else?"
"Y-You could say that."
"Haaaaaaa," Rias groaned as she leaned off the bath and looked through the steamy room, "Hasn't even been a day since everyone left and we're already off to a great start."
A pair of arms circled under her chest and squeezed her, pressing a pair of massive breasts into her back and causing a lock of black hair to come over Rias' shoulder. She sighed, "Akeno, can you please not lean in like that?"
The hands under her chest came up and gently patted her breasts. Rias flinched, "Hey! Akeno, don't you-"
She turned her head and finally noticed that Koneko and Akeno were looking at her in shock. As realization started to cross her mind, she turned her head a little farther to look over her shoulder-
Only to feel a tongue gently run along her cheek.
"Nya, seems like you have the taste of a mature woman now. Congrats Heiress-chan, you finally graduated." Kuroka said with a sly smile as she continued to rhythmically pat Rias' boobs like a drum from behind, "Too bad about your choice in mate but hey at least you finally got to ride a horse."
Rias looked back at Kuroka in shock, the black-haired Nekomata just smiling causally like she wasn't intruding and appearing out of nowhere.
She leaned in again and licked Rias' cheek before smacking her lips, "Oh wow you've ridden that horse thoroughly if I'm right. Is he really that fun?"
"So they just attacked you? No warning or anything?"
"Nope." Naruto answered, laid out on the bed in the room he shared with Issei as they discussed the problems they faced today, "The girl there was angry at us - o-or me I guess - about stealing her mother. I wanted to ask her what she meant but between the attack and them having to retreat I didn't get the chance."
"Yeah they said something weird to me too." Issei said as he unpacked, "They called you our leader for some reason. And they were talking about how audacious it was for me to be walking around like this."
"So it isn't just me that feels like we're out of the loop?"
"Not at all." Issei stood up and sighed before heading to the door, "Well we just have to wait for Azazel-sensei to speak with the locals for some clarification. Until then I'm going for a walk."
"A walk where?"
"Just a walk."
Before he passed by, Naruto sat up and grabbed Issei's wrist before he could take another step, "I'm not letting you peep on the girls bathing."
"Pfft, Senpai! W-What kind of guy do you take me for?"
"I'm not letting you peep."
"It's a man's right to peep!"
Before Issei could slip away, Naruto wrapped his arm around his neck and applied pressure. But Issei kicked off the wall and sent them tumbling across the bed. The two [Pawns] started to wrestle and fight as things were knocked all over the room.
"When you two are done with your heavy petting can you come outside?"
Naruto and Issei stopped tussling and looked over to see Azazel standing in the doorway, "Azazel?"
"What are you doing here Sensei?"
"Waiting for you two." The Fallen Angel said, "If you're dressed already then come on. I'm gathering everyone together so we can go visit the denizens of the Kyoto's other side."
"Did you already work things out?"
"Actually I did!"
A short girl in a kimono stepped out from behind Azazel with a smile and wave. Her hair was styled to match her outfit but her bubbly demeanor and blue eyes were recognizable even to them, "Leviathan-sama?"
"Hey Seki-chan! Naru-chan! You two look well!"
"What are you doing here?"
"I actually came here as an ambassador of the Devils to better relations with the Yōkai so they can join our alliance." Her smile faded, "Unfortunately something terrible happened to their leader and our plans were stalled."
"Well...we're gonna need you two to come with us."
Walking through the district of the Yōkai was like a crash course in ancient Japanese folklore. Kappa and kamitachi and hyōsube and okiku and dozens of other legendary beasts lived in homes and walked through streets like it was nothing. It was so marvelous that the young students of the ORC and StuCo could do nothing but gape as they walked by.
They were being led by a group of kitsune that had picked them up from the hotel. And now were on their way to the main building which governed the supernatural realm of Kyoto.
"Wow. There's so many Yōkai here." Saji whispered in amazement before looking back, "And these guys came after you earlier?"
"Yep." Issei nodded, "They were keeping an eye on us and ambushed Senpai and Kiba for some reason."
"Did you do something to piss them off?"
"I don't think we did but we can never be sure."
Naruto kept in the back of the group as they took the stairs up. And he noticed as they walked along that while some of his friends got looks of interest and confusion, the people looking at him could only be described as stunned. Every time he walked by they would whisper to each other about something he couldn't hear.
Finally they reached the top of the climb and found themselves at a giant palace. At the front of the palace were dozens of Yōkai there to greet them, with the two standouts being a large Tengu who greeted them respectfully...
And the young Kyūbi that meekly looked aside in shame.
"Greeting, visitors of Kuoh. I welcome you to our humble home here in Kyoto." The Tengu said, an air of courtesy and regality in his voice as he addressed them, "I understand that you all have been experiencing some hostility from us since you arrived and I wish to apologize for it. As well as ask that you show pity and empathy to the youngsters who carried out the act."
"Nice to meet you." Azazel bowed his head and his students followed his lead, "We understand the gist of what's going on but for the sake of my students do you mind giving them the rundown?"
"Of course." The Yōkai nodded, "Recently our leader and lord, Yasaka-sama, was kidnapped from her home. Since then we of the West Yōkai faction have desperately been searching Kyoto for any sign of her. We adore Yasaka-sama and we have been doing nothing but fret and worry these last few days. So much so that some of the younger and more impatient of us take whatever chance they can to get a lead. And they thought they found one with your group today."
He stepped aside and looked down to the meek girl who was looking down in shame. The young Kyūbi stepped forward and bowed her head, "My name is Kunou, daughter to the leader of the West Yōkai Faction. A-And I apologize for suspecting you all in the plot to abduct my mother."
"O-Okay, but why do you suspect us?"
Kunou and her Tengu retainer shared a look before they beckoned everyone inside. As the Devils walked the halls and admired everything they passed, they were brought into a grand hall where they could sit down and speak. As Kunou and her Tengu companion sat in front of everyone, several servants carried in a massive scroll, "Yasaka-sama is our leader, and also the Kyūbi in charge of guarding Kyoto and the vast amount of power its leyline provides. This access to the immense spiritual power of Kyoto makes her a target for people interested in tapping into that energy but they have always been held at bay by her strength...until now."
The scroll was unfolded and the students looked at the illustration painted over it. Across the massive tarp was a gorgeous young woman with smoldering gold eyes, long blonde hair, fox ears, and nine bushy tails coming out from behind her.
"I-I don't think I've ever seen someone so lovely."
"She's gorgeous, and..."
Despite themselves and the company they were currently in the people seeing her for the first time couldn't keep their eyes from straying. They gazed at the massive, almost impossibly big and round breasts filling her kimono to the point of burst.
"How is that possible?"
"They can't actually be that big, right?"
"It's unfair. It's so unfair."
"I really, really, really want to meet her now!"
"Uh-hum!" Azazel coughed loudly and get their attention back on track, "Are you done? Because we were in the middle of an important meeting." They nodded shamefully as he grunted, "Good." Quickly pulling out his phone and snapping a pic, he earned the indignant protests of his students before nodding, "Please continue."
"Yasaka-sama was kidnapped several days ago in the middle of the night. An intruder appeared at the palace, slipped by the guards, and found her. Usually she is strong enough to combat any foes that would try to sneak in, but she didn't attack them and because of that she was captured. We weren't able to follow them but one of our guards did spot the intruder for only a moment before they disappeared. And by their account he looked like..."
Kunou and the Tengu looked in one direction. And all eyes followed their gaze as well.
Naruto blinked and pointed at himself, "Me? You think I broke in and stole your leader?" Kunou shrunk in on herself as the Tengu stayed silent, "T-That doesn't make any sense. Why would your intruder look like me? Why me? Did they know I was coming? Did they want you to attack me for some reason? None of it makes any sense!"
The Tengu waved his hand and two more scrolls were carried in, "Centuries ago, before Yasaka-sama had properly settled into the role of leader of Kyoto, this land was a dangerous place for humans and Yōkai. They attacked and killed each other constantly. It was a lawless time of killed or be killed. But then a man of great power arrived and took the first steps towards creating a land where the two sides could hope to live in peace."
A second scroll was unfurled, revealing an ancient artwork of a man riding on the back of a white dragon. The art style was exaggerated and it was impossible to find any exact features on the man, but Naruto recognized the artwork as a larger version of the one he'd seen in Rias' room.
"This was a copy of the oldest painting we had of him. But thanks to Yasaka-sama's account we have been able to draw up a much more accurate painting of him." The third scroll was unfurled, "Yasaka-sama's teacher and oldest friend..."
A man with bright yellow hair and blue eyes. Scratches on his cheek. An orange kimono adorned over his body...
And the blue wings of Divine Dividing protruding from his back.
"Naruto, the White Dragon."
So this has been in the works for awhile. I can't really remember when I decided to go this route but it was some time back. And for how long I've been planning it I've also tried my best to allude to it.
Although I might need to take a class on how to make the difference between subtle hints and obscure nonsense more noticeable. I mean if you look back you can probably see the signs but I can only say that because I wrote this damn thing.
Anyway, we're here in Kyoto. Trouble is brewing. We have an un/welcome guest back home. And Naruto - or at least some version of him - made an impact on this world ages ago.
Look forward to more of that!
Thank You and Bye