Story Synopsis: Destiny is a funny thing… you never know how life will turn out. A proverb that Naruto and Sasuke realize when their fated clash at the Valley of the End sucks them into the Fairy Tail universe. Notions are broken as the duo face a fight for survival against the forces of a corrupt government, criminal syndicates, and Hell itself. Will the Sons of the Sage rise to the challenge?
Chapter #1: Clash
"Sasuke… please. Don't do this, you're better than this. Selling your soul to Orochimaru for power isn't worth it, it'll come with too high of a cost. Orochimaru isn't doing this to help you, he just wants your body for his own sick desires! Come back with me to Konoha!" Naruto pleaded, half-conscious and his eyes becoming harder and harder to keep open.
The blond jinchuriki lay before his teammate's feet, his body riddled with burns from Sasuke's Katon: Ryuka (Fire Release: Dragon Fire Technique). The battle between Naruto and Sasuke was a ferocious one, a constant fest of one-upmanship, but it looked like Sasuke finally pulled ahead.
In the beginning, Naruto was hard pressed to keep up with Sasuke, who was empowered from the ritual that unlocked the second level of his Curse Mark. No matter how many shadow clones Naruto threw at him, the prodigious Uchiha beat him back every single time.
His first success came when he was able to cancel out Sasuke's Chidori with his Rasengan, proving once and for all that neither technique was superior to the other. Tiring of the battle however, Sasuke activated his Curse Mark's first level and that in conjunction with his Sharingan allowed him to beat Naruto down ruthlessly.
Bloodlusted and eager for power, Sasuke slammed a Chidori through Naruto's lung in order to unlock the Mangekyo Sharingan, but Naruto's timely drawing of the Kyuubi's chakra allowed him to regenerate the damage and turn the tables.
Naruto hated drawing upon the tailed beast's chakra, it felt like cheating because the power didn't originate from him and he was constantly pumping with malicious thoughts and aggression every time he used it, making him feel more and more like the monster that the village ostracized him for.
Beggars couldn't be choosers however, and Naruto realized that it was the only way for him to defeat his talented foe. For all his annoyance at Konoha's constant fawning of Sasuke, Naruto now truly realized that the boy deserved it.
Sasuke wasn't just talented, he put in more effort when training himself than Naruto did in pursuit of the lofty goal to defeat his wayward brother.
Forcing himself to look inward and be objective, Naruto understood that he had been a slacker. He didn't take his shinobi training seriously during the Academy and only started to really apply himself when Jiraiya took him under his wing.
It amazed Naruto how much progress he had made under the Toad Sage, mastering water walking in a couple of hours and learning the Fourth's A-Rank jutsu in a month. Naruto's already gigantic ego swelled to greater heights with his accomplishments.
However, the prodigious Uchiha quickly knocked the wind out of his sails. Even after a month of inactivity, Sasuke still maintained the edge during their rooftop battle in Konoha. It seemed that no matter what, the Uchiha would always be one or two steps ahead of him.
But that was about to change.
Despite the negatives with harnessing the Kyuubi's chakra, it seemed to give him the boost he needed to finally lay some payback on his teammate. His speed, strength, agility, and senses all increased exponentially.
Each punch that Naruto landed was therapeutic as he released his frustration at always being the laughing stock of the team, the "dobe", on his teammate.
After knocking Sasuke all over the lakeside for a couple of minutes, Naruto finally decided to end it and smashed the Uchiha back first onto a rock wall.
Naruto asked his rogue teammate if he had come to his senses yet, but this only drove Sasuke into a rage and made him heatedly reply that Naruto could not possibly understand the pain he was going through for he was alone from the start.
Thrown off balance by the remark, Naruto didn't react in time to Sasuke's shove and the two shinobi crashed into the water below.
Trying to make Sasuke see sense, Naruto came from another angle and tried to relate his situation to the Uchiha's. While he didn't painfully lose blood relatives, he viewed Iruka as a father and Sasuke as a brother.
Which was why he would stop Sasuke from breaking that bond no matter what, even if he had to break all the bones in the Uchiha's body to do so.
Sasuke was still undeterred however and countered that it was too late for him to go back. However, the Uchiha tied his forehead protector on, finally recognizing the blond as an equal in their battle.
While moved by the gesture, Naruto charged at his teammate with full force as he was still wholly determined to drag Sasuke back to Konoha with him.
This was where everything went horribly wrong for Naruto, however.
Rather than knocking Sasuke's lights out as he intended to, the Uchiha caught his punch with ease and flipped the jinchuriki over his head so Naruto couldn't use his unnatural strength to power through.
At first, thinking that it was luck, Naruto pressed on with his assault. However, as the Uchiha continued to deflect his blows with minimal ease, Naruto realized with mounting horror that the tide of battle had shifted once again.
Jumping back to catch his breath and strategize, Naruto saw a sight that made his eyes widen in shock. Sasuke, seeing where the blond's eyes were locked, smirked in response.
Sasuke's eyes had an extra tomoe in each, bringing the count to three. His prized Kekkei Genkai had finally matured.
Enraged at the turn of events but unwilling to give up, Naruto halted the flow of chakra to his soles and sunk into the water.
The action startled Sasuke, but the Uchiha quickly went on guard and shifted into his clan's vaunted Interceptor style taijutsu stance, a skillset he could finally use to the fullest now that his precognitive abilities were at their pinnacle.
An ominous silence fell over the battlefield for all of three seconds before five Narutos erupted out of the water, bellowing fierce battle cries.
The Uchiha snorted at his opponent's tactics, here he thought that Naruto would try something new but it was the same old shadow clones.
The squad of blonds engaged Sasuke in a swirling melee of claws, tackles, and kicks, but the Uchiha would have none of it and either countered whatever was thrown at him or sidestepped out of the way.
However, as Sasuke was dispelling the attacking clones, more and more were popping out of the water, flying at him like a bunch of missiles.
The Uchiha twirled out of the way of the bombardment, but when he tried to move once more he found that a pair of hands were gripping his ankles tightly. With a roar, a chain of shadow clones swung the Uchiha into air before smashing him into a cliffside.
Unfortunately, the battle was far from over.
"Katon: Ryuka!" (Fire Release: Dragon Fire Technique) Sasuke roared, and a stream of red hot flames engulfed the chain of clones, dispelling each and every last one of them.
When the smoke cleared, a singular, scorched Naruto was lying on the ground in front of Sasuke, tired and disheartened. Naruto slowly groveled forward and grabbed Sasuke's leg, before making one final plea to his teammate.
And as we already know, he would be refused.
"Naruto… I… I already told you. It's too late. IT'S TOO LATE!" Sasuke roared in a panic, before he grabbed the blond jinchuriki by his collar and jumped off of the cliff.
Sasuke shifted in the air, flipping Naruto upside down with his head facing the ground below. The Uchiha grabbed Naruto's thighs and crossed his legs under the Uzumaki's neck, assuring the fact that there would be no escape.
A couple moments later, the pile driver made contact with the ground.
The awful silence returned to the battlefield, as if the landscape was giving its final respects to the losing combatant.
Naruto's body stuck up from the ground rigidly for a couple of seconds, before slackening and falling backwards into the water. The corpse slowly floated away, reinforcing the melancholy.
"N..Naruto. I'm… I'm s-s-oh god." Sasuke began, before he collapsed to the ground and began to retch uncontrollably.
The Uchiha thought that he would be able to handle it, that he would be able to harden his heart so he could awaken the ocular prowess of the Mangekyo Sharingan and come closer to standing on an even footing with his brother.
However, without the corrupting influence of the Curse Mark, Sasuke realized just how much of an impact the blond Uzumaki had on his life.
"What have I done?" Sasuke thought, tears threatening to begin falling.
The young Uchiha began to reminisce all of the memories he had with his teammate, their petty squabbles and fights, the times Team 7 would go out for meals, getting dragged into whatever prank Naruto had in store for Kakashi whenever he was late, and then their battles against enemies that would destroy either one of them separately but they overcame together.
"Oh god. WHAT HAVE I DONE?!" Sasuke thought agonizingly.
As Naruto's prone body floated across the water, his vision blurred from the serene, blue sky of the battlefield into a murky, dank sewer that radiated a miasma saturated with malice, one that would make even the most stalwart of warriors falter.
The epicenter of it all was series of steel bars which formed into a massive cage, its expanse going on for as far as the eye could see in all directions.
Only the most formidable of the tailed beasts, the one who brought Konoha, the greatest of the hidden villages, to its knees single handed.
When the Kyuubi's malice sheened eyes fell onto his unconscious container, a low, rumbling growl escaped his maw.
How could he, the greatest of the tailed beasts, be unfortunate enough to be saddled with such a pitiful specimen?
"Look at you… this is the extent of your resolve? So WEAK. I truly have been cursed to be stuck with a pathetic runt like you." Kurama rumbled, hatred dripping from every syllable.
Naruto did not respond.
The tailed beast snorted in derision, before pointing a clawed finger at the prone jinchuriki and emitting a stream of bubbling chakra at him.
"Be grateful maggot. I have seen fit to bestow upon you even greater power. Fail at your own peril." Kurama snarled.
When the rage fueled stimulus made contact with the Uzumaki, his bloodshot and slit eyes shot open.
Sasuke was brought out of his regret filled thoughts when the wind began to pick up and the temperature began to rise.
He slowly raised his head to see what was causing the phenomenon, and his eyes widened in amazement when he found the source.
Naruto had seemingly risen from the dead, a reddish-orange substance that partially surrounded his body slowly pushing him upright.
Sasuke rubbed his eyes to make sure he wasn't hallucinating, before warily walking up to his fallen teammate.
"Naruto… w...what are you?" Sasuke asked, in utter shock.
The Uchiha was answered by Naruto springing back to life in an instant and smashing his fist into Sasuke's face, sending him flipping backwards before crumpling into a heap on the water surface.
While Sasuke groaned in agony from the cheap shot to his nose, Naruto roared in rage and pain as the substance completely coated his body and formed a cloak in the shape of a fox. One bubbling tail swished back and forth behind him.
"Ugh…" Sasuke groaned as he slowly got up, his head still spinning from the attack. When the Uchiha's eyes finally cleared, the sight in front of him made in pause.
Naruto was crouching down on all fours, his mannerisms animalistic and feral. His hair had spiked up ever further and his eyes were wild and menacing, their outline darkened. His teeth were sharp and jagged, his canines protruding so much that they dug into his lower lip, his whisker marks had deepened, and his fingernails had lengthened even further, each one a dagger like weapon on its own.
But the stunning visuals weren't even the most glaring changes, it was the fact that this new form oozed Killing Intent.
Naruto's previous Kyuubi influenced form already made him ridiculously predator-like, even the most hardened of shinobi would pause at it. However, the One Tail cloak took that menace and laughed at it as if it was nothing.
"You… you fucking bastard…" Naruto snarled ferally, and Sasuke's insides crawled at the sound.
The blond jinchuriki was teeming with utter rage, he couldn't believe that Sasuke had actually tried to kill him. He heard his heartfelt plea and ignored it as if it was nothing before pressing on to gain the Mangek-whatever thing he gloated about in the middle of their fight.
As it stood now, Naruto wouldn't be satisfied until he tasted Sasuke's blood.
"Prepare yourself, Sasuke! At the end of this, you're going to wish you had stayed in the hospital." growled Naruto, before rising up and crossing his arms.
Sasuke, upon hearing his teammate's words, actually shook in fear a bit. This was the first time he had ever heard Naruto speak with such vitriol, it was quite unnerving.
"N..Naruto, w-wait. I'm so-" Sasuke began, but his sentence was halted when Naruto swiped his arms outward. The wind generated from the action was so powerful, it created a ten foot tall wave of water that swept over the Uchiha.
When the water cleared, Sasuke's eyes widened when he saw Naruto right in front of him, his claw cocked back and ready to tear through flesh and bone.
"What the hell?! So fast… he cleared a hundred feet in an instant!" Sasuke thought fearfully, as his Sharingan enhanced sight barely allowed him to dodge the swipe that would have torn his head off of his shoulders.
Sasuke was in full retreat mode, Naruto's blows were twice as fast as before and if the steaming from everytime the cloak around the blond jinchuriki touched the water was any indication, Sasuke didn't want to be on the receiving end of that.
Unfortunately, life rarely goes how we want it, for after another frantic dodge was made by Sasuke, an oversized claw shot out from the chakra cloak and slammed into the Uchiha, sending him flying back another several hundred feet.
Not even close to satisfied, Naruto charged Sasuke once more, his speed so great that he phased out of sight and the water below him displaced itself several feet out in each direction.
Sasuke was eventually able to arrest control of his body, and skidded across the water for a few seconds before stopping.
"That chakra cloak. It's… It's like it has a mind of its own!" Sasuke thought, wincing in pain from the burning sensation on his chest.
Sasuke was right to fear the cloak, the sheer heat that emanated from the chakra burned straight through the front of his shirt and left a glaring red claw mark. Shaking his head to try and distract himself from the pain, the Uchiha whipped his head around frantically to see which direction Naruto would come from.
Sasuke quickly caught onto Naruto's trail, the bursts of water erupting from the surface giving away the jinchuriki's trajectory.
"Let him try this on for size!" Sasuke thought as he formed hand seals.
"Katon: Hosenka!" (Fire Release: Phoenix Sage Fire Technique) Sasuke roared as he began to rapidly fire flame bullets at every point his Sharingan locked on the Uzumaki.
The blond jinchuriki dodged the fire bombs with contemptuous ease however, before blitzing forward once again at Sasuke.
Sasuke had anticipated this however, carefully aiming his attacks in order to make Naruto take this course of action.
"HA! You fell for it! Once a dobe, always a dobe!" Sasuke thought cockily while running through another string of hand seals.
"Katon: Gokakyu!" (Fire Release: Great Fireball Technique) Sasuke shouted, before launching a massive fireball at the charging jinchuriki.
A sizeable explosion rang out when the two forces made contact with each other and steam billowed out from the collision point.
After a couple seconds of silence, the steam was blown away by a roar and Naruto stood at the epicenter looking no worse for the wear.
"N-No effect?! Does the cloak increase his defense as well?" Sasuke thought incredulously.
Naruto snarled angrily, annoyed that he hadn't caught his prey yet, before slowly raising a claw into the air.
"Don't panic. As long as I keep my distance, I should be fine." Sasuke thought, while wondering what Naruto's next course of action would be.
Sasuke's plan held weight for all of two seconds, until Naruto swiped downward and launched another chakra claw after him. The Uchiha jumped upwards, dodging the first attack and then shifted sideways in free fall to avoid the next.
When Sasuke landed on the ground however, the jinchuriki sped around him in a circle, causing the water to rise up in a wave that hid his movements from the Sharingan. Soon after, more chakra claws erupted out of the water trying to latch onto him. Only Sasuke's natural grace allowed him to dodge each and everyone of the attacks. Even still, it was only barely. His body quickly became covered with shallow cuts from all of the bare misses. Once the onslaught halted, the Uchiha hightailed it out of there, trying to make it back onto solid ground.
Meanwhile, Naruto landed vertically onto another cliffside to get a better view of the battlefield. Once his eyes found Sasuke, he shot his fist forward and fired another chakra claw at the Uchiha.
The chakra claw crashed into the water before curving upwards and slamming into the Sharingan wielder, smashing the boy into another cliff. The rockside crumbled and Sasuke rolled and tumbled onto the ground near the bay, coughing and groaning in pain.
The Uchiha's shirt was gone, revealing a body that was riddled with scratches, bruises, and burns. Slowly, Sasuke tried to pick himself up from the ground, but his body was feeling Naruto's revenge very keenly.
"I… can't give up. N-not now, I'm so close to getting my revenge I can almost taste it. C'mon body, MOVE!" Sasuke thought as he rose to his knees.
But those proved to be empty words when a massive chakra claw the size of a house erupted from the water and closed in on the Uchiha. Sasuke's eyes widened in terror and he bolted for the hills as the hand came down on him like the hammer of a god.
With a final jump, Sasuke barely managed to avoid getting flattened by the chakra claw, but backed up against a rock wall in fright when he realized how close he was to meeting his fate.
"H-Holy crap! That nearly killed me! Naruto really isn't playing around anymore." Sasuke thought in alarm as he drew upon the first level of the Curse Mark, hoping that it would give him some semblance of a chance.
Sasuke quickly found that it didn't as he couldn't react in time to yet another chakra claw shooting out of the ground and wrapping around his arms and torso. The Uchiha screamed in pain as he felt the acrid chakra burn his skin.
Naruto sported a savage grin when he saw that he struck gold before whipping his arm backwards and lassoing the Uchiha towards him. The blond jinchuriki then focused as much chakra as possible to his cocked back fist, making his chakra cloak distort as the demonic energy rose in intensity around the appendage.
Sasuke couldn't help himself when he screamed a very unmanly shout of terror as Naruto swung his fist with the power of a freight train at his cheek. With a feral roar, Naruto's fist made contact with the Uchiha's face and there was a very visible and loud displacement of air and pressure as the two connected.
Blood and spittle flew out of Sasuke's mouth, and the Uchiha whimpered in pain as he went flying once again at mach speed into yet another cliffside. Dust and gravel engulfed the area around Sasuke's landing, while rocks and dirt crumbled due to structural damage to the cliff.
When the smoke cleared, the scene revealed Sasuke down on the ground once again, struggling to pick himself up as blood oozed from his nose, mouth, and the numerous wounds on his body.
"Come on you asshole! GET THE FUCK UP! I'm not even close to through with you! Before I'm done, you'll be begging for death as if I'm the Shinigami!" Naruto roared upon seeing his teammate's pitiful state.
The Uzumaki had absolutely no sympathy for whatever pain the Uchiha was in. Where his normal self may have been satisfied, the Kyuubi influenced Naruto only felt even more excited with blood in the air.
While the One Tail Cloak improved his stats even further, the drawbacks became even more apparent. Whatever restraints Naruto possessed in his Initial Jinchuriki form disappeared completely upon entering a cloaked form.
Not to talk of the damage his untrained body sustained while using the chakra.
"I can't believe it. Even the combined powers of the Curse Mark's first level and my matured Sharingan don't hold a candle to Naruto's strength. I've been wary of using this because of what that Sakon guy told me, but at this rate it's my only choice." Sasuke thought as he stumbled to his feet.
Despite the state that Sasuke was in, a smirk formed on his face. Naruto was soon going to learn not to challenge his betters.
"I can't believe a dumbass like yourself is pushing me this far. You should be proud that it's come to this, but know that you have absolutely no chance now." Sasuke boasted to his blond opponent.
A sizeable vein protruded from the jinchuriki's temple, but it wasn't the comedic type, oh no it was from absolutely encompassing rage.
Even after the beating he took, Sasuke was still talking shit and belittling him. Steam erupted from Naruto's mouth as he grinded his teeth together.
"I'm going to kill this bast-" Naruto paused in his rage filled thoughts when he began to witness Sasuke's metamorphosis.
The teenage Uchiha's skin shifted into a dull grey, his nails and teeth lengthened like Naruto's own, the whites of his eyes turned black, and Sasuke's hair grew to the middle of his back and turned dark purple.
"You may possess a special power, but I can assure you that I'm more "special" than you'll ever be. This is just a taste of the power Orochimaru is offering me, this is the second level of the Curse Seal of Heaven." Sasuke bragged as Naruto's eyes widened.
Sasuke began to emit a sickening aura that rivaled the intensity and killing intent of the blond jinchuriki's, however while equal in power they were opposite in nature.
Naruto was burning rage and Sasuke was ice cold hatred.
"Yes, I have a feeling that I won't be losing today." Sasuke stated.
Naruto had finally had enough of the arrogant Uchiha's mouth and crouched down on all fours before blitzing forward once more in blur, the power poured into his legs so great that when he took off the ground cratered and debris rose.
A trail of devastation was created as the blond dragged his right claw across the ground to build up resistance that once released would increase the force of his strike severely.
The impact when Naruto collided with Sasuke kicked up more debris as the two tumbled into the foot of the stone statue of Uchiha Madara, one of the founders of Konoha.
When the dust cleared, Naruto's eyes widened in shock when he realized that his claw hadn't connected with Sasuke's face but rather had been blocked by this grotesque hand shaped wing. After a couple seconds of uncomfortable silence the wing twitched, alarming Naruto into jumping back but he wasn't able to put up enough distance for the wing backhanded him into the foot of the Hashirama stone statue.
Naruto groaned as he picked himself up, that blow had hurt a lot. When the Uzumaki looked up, he froze and his eyes widened again when he saw another misshapen wing sprout out of Sasuke's back, completing his monstrous transformation.
"S-Sasuke… what did you let Orochimaru do to you?!" Naruto thought in disgust as he laid eyes on his teammate's new form.
Naruto could almost see Orochimaru in Sasuke's place when the two locked eyes, the Snake Sannin leering at him with cold, detached eyes. The same eyes he probably wore when he killed his beloved Third Hokage in the Sand/Sound invasion of Konoha.
"What's the matter Naruto? Does my power frighten you? Well, doesn't that sound familiar." Sasuke sneered in derision. He was annoyed that Naruto saw fit to judge him when he had the same exact problem.
Naruto blinked, before lowering his eyes in shame. He was doing the exact same thing that the villagers did to him during his childhood.
When Naruto faced Sasuke once more, the Uchiha was stunned to see the change in his eyes. Whereas before he saw judgement and disgust, he saw understanding and acceptance. A weird feeling arose in Sasuke's chest and he swallowed hard to try and make it disappear.
But with no success.
Naruto forced himself to calm down, he was still angry at Sasuke but giving into his rage would be counterproductive in getting the Uchiha to return. He would plead with his friend one more time.
"Sasuke, I will ask you one more time. Return to Konoha with me. If it's power you want, I can help you train. A sparring partner will help you progress further than you ever could on your own, I can even ask Pervy Sage to take you on as a second apprentice. Just forget Orochimaru, he's not worth it." Naruto pleaded with every fiber in his being.
Sasuke blinked with amazement at Naruto's tone, the Uchiha wondered why the Uzumaki was so determined to bring him back. He had purposefully avoided making bonds so when he chased after Itachi, nothing would hold him back.
However, it seemed that he had found a kindred spirit within Naruto. Even after trying to kill him, Naruto had somehow found it within himself to forgive him.
Sasuke knew more than anything that he didn't deserve it.
"Naruto, I… I can't. You have to understand, it's not just the power that's pulling me to Orochimaru. Hatred…. I need it more than anything if I want to face Itachi and I can't let it fester if I'm making bonds with you and the rest of the guys in Konoha. I... I have to do this." Sasuke replied.
"But… why?" Naruto asked in incredulity.
Why? That was a very good question.
He could easily just try to forget Itachi, let the man while away his time in exile and try to live his life happily as a giant middle finger to his brother and his grand delusions of "testing his capacity".
However, Sasuke just couldn't bring himself to forget.
Itachi's Tsukuyomi had damaged Sasuke more than anyone could realize. He couldn't unsee all of the deaths, they kept replaying in his mind over and over again in nightmares and daydreams.
Insomnia and PTSD as a child was a terrible thing and forever knowing that the man who committed the crime would go unpunished for no one was strong enough to bring him to justice just didn't sit right within Sasuke.
But most importantly, Sasuke just couldn't let this perverted figure of his idolized big brother continue on. He needed to end the man that lived in order to revere the memory of the boy that once was.
Sasuke needed closure so he could move on, but his cold and introverted persona prevented him from opening himself up to others and helping them to understand, even someone like Naruto fell prey.
Leading the fighting teammates to their current en passe.
"I've explained enough Naruto, even if I told you, you wouldn't understand. But I also don't understand you. Why? Just why do you try so hard?" Sasuke asked, to Naruto's confusion.
"What do you mean?" Naruto asked, still hurting over his failure.
"Bringing me back to Konoha, I mean. I get it… I'm one of your first bonds and you don't want to go through the pain of losing them. But you have to understand Naruto, I'm done with Konoha. Even if I didn't dedicate my life to ending Itachi, I would have eventually left Konoha anyway. There's just too much pain, the ghosts of my past that only serve to haunt me. A constant reminder of what once was. There's nothing left there for me… but there shouldn't be anything for you either. Are you not the one who had to deal with neglect and hatred all your life? If I were you, the hatred I feel at Itachi would be directed at Konoha." Sasuke answered.
At that remark, Naruto paused. The argument made logical sense, but it went against Naruto's dogma, the code that he lived by which kept him going.
Never give up and prove himself to the village one day that he was fit to be their Hokage.
"Sasuke, I just can't be like that. I have been subject to enough hatred in my life to realize what an ugly feeling it is to have. It eats you up inside and makes you a shell of your former self. Look at Gaara! Look at what he was when he gave in to his hatred, is that what I should become? Is that what you want to become?" Naruto countered, trying to exude the passion in his words to Sasuke in hopes that he would give in.
Sasuke took a good long look at Naruto, at his teammate, at his comrade…
At his brother.
Naruto's argument sounded "great" but it seemed too much like stubborn defiance in the face of utter despair rather than something that he truly, truly believed in.
After seeing everything Naruto would go through in order to "save" him, he couldn't handle seeing the Uzumaki lie to himself.
Sasuke had tried to move on from what Itachi did, he truly did. But the hurt never disappeared, it continued to gnaw at him as if a knife was pressed against his heart.
If Naruto failed to acknowledge his own inner demons, then when the people he put all his hope in ever let him down?
It would destroy him.
In Sasuke's not so humble opinion, it was better to put your trust in yourself, rather than let others hurt you.
"Naruto, look me straight in the eye and tell me that you can forgive every single thing that Konoha has done to you. Look truthfully within yourself, tell me that after all the shit, after all of the putting down, after all of the despair, you can truly ignore it as if it has no consequence. Do you truly have no resentment?" Sasuke asked, his eyes piercing Naruto to the core.
Upon seeing the somber look in Sasuke's eyes, Naruto did what his teammate asked of him and truly looked within. As he went through each and every important memory of his, the gravity of Sasuke's words truly sunk in.
While he had some good memories, his bond with the old man, the Ichirakus, Pervy Sage, and Iruka-sensei, the negatives far outweighed the positives.
He remembered all of the jeering, all of the looks, all of the hidden whispers, all the stores slamming the door in his face, the occasional drunk who would be stopped by ANBU before they went too far, everything that he tried to show didn't hurt him with the fake smile.
All of it still hurt, solitude was a fate that he wouldn't wish on his worst enemy.
Naruto now realized that he hadn't truly forgiven, rather he buried the memories within his subconscious and avoided introspective thought so he would never think of them again.
That's why everyone thought he was so dumb, he wasn't stupid it's just that when he thought too hard, it brought up painful thoughts which led to painful questions.
Questions that he didn't have all of the answers to.
"STOP! STOP THINKING! This is what Sasuke wants you to do! Throw you off of your game so he can get his way! Even if Konoha isn't perfect, it's all I know! What else am I supposed to do, just drop everything and leave like Sasuke? I have my precious people! Iruka-sensei, Pervy Sage, Granny Tsunade, the Ichirakus, they're all I need to fight off the darkness!" Naruto thought desperately.
But the thoughts rang hollow.
Naruto was brought out of his desperation by the sound of chirping birds. The blond looked up to see Sasuke crouching down, with his left arm outstretched and his palm engulfed with dense lightning chakra.
"Naruto, it seems that we're too staunch in our lines of thinking. I can't convince you and you can't convince me, so there's only one way this can end. Prepare yourself and face my Chidori! This time however, I promise you that you won't be a match for me!" Sasuke shouted, while charging his finishing move.
Naruto growled at the challenge, but inwardly thanked the Uchiha. This was a welcome distraction from the onslaught of painful memories. Once he defeated Sasuke and brought him home, then he would take the time to figure all of this out.
"So be it, Sasuke! But if you think winning will be easy, you've got another thing coming!" Naruto bellowed, his right arm extending out and powerful chakra swirling into ball in his upward facing palm.
Due to the powerful demonic energies of the Curse Mark and the Kyuubi empowering Naruto and Sasuke's already deadly techniques, the Uchiha's jutsu turned black and white while Naruto's shifted into a deep purple with red wisps of chakra emanating from it.
The battle had finally reached its endgame, the combatants were on their last legs and every move in their arsenal was exhausted bar one. Neither was willing to use trickery for victory, it would be a contest of willpower and strength.
And neither was willing to be the loser.
The two shinobi jumped off of their platforms into the air, kiting through the sky at high speeds. The two brought their jutsu hands back before thrusting forward with all of their might, allowing their techniques to determine the outcome of the fight.
When the two attacks collided, a shockwave erupted from the point of contact, shattering any rocks and trees in its path. Wisps of purple and red chakra swirled around each other as they fought for dominance in the conflict.
The opposite but equal energies eventually coalesced into a whirling black sphere of power that expanded rapidly, until it encompassed the entire area between the statues of Hashirama and Madara.
Within the black sphere of energy, Naruto and Sasuke continued to push forward, neither willing to concede and determined to prove to the other their superiority. The pure force emanating from the power struggle was truly immense, and the heat generated was horribly scalding to the skin of the two warriors.
"Come on! Come on!" Sasuke chanted, as he tried to gain the advantage in the clash but it was for not, they remained perfectly equal.
"I won't let Sasuke beat me again! I refuse!" Naruto thought, but he too had no success in gaining the upper hand.
The two opposing forces continued to grind against each other, neither giving but continuing to up the ante until one finally submitted. Unfortunately, as the pressure continued to build up from the power struggle something eventually had to give.
However, the utter necessity of Naruto and Sasuke's battle...
The Senju and Uchiha's battle…
The battle between the sons of the Sage of Six Paths…
And the War between the Will of Fire and the Curse of Hatred within the Narutoverse, meant that it wouldn't be the combatants who gave.
The ungodly pressure being formed within the epicenter of the Rasengan/Chidori clash finally reached a breaking point and with nowhere for the energy to escape, collapsed inward and created a tear within time and space itself.
A tear which began to emit a powerful force of attraction and started to suck in whatever had created it to restore balance to the multiverse.
"What the hell?!" Sasuke thought in alarm as his arm began to be sucked in by the extreme gravitational force of the dimensional tear.
"I can't fight it! It's dragging me in!" Naruto thought in fear, as his face began to enter the portal.
Within Naruto's mindscape, the Kyuubi was taking in its opinion a well deserved nap. The tailed beast "figuratively speaking" had to pull his incompetent container's ass out of the fire twice and was feeling a little tired.
His peace and quiet didn't last very long as his surroundings began to distort and scrunch together into one point.
"Ugh, what did the fool do now?" Kurama thought, slowly opening an eye.
When he did, the tailed beast blanched in horror as he was slowly dragged into the black hole like phenomenon.
"Wait, WHAT?! NO! NO! NO! WHAT DID YOU FUCKING DO, YOU WORTHLESS MEATPUPPET?! GET ME OUTTA HERE! GET! ME! OUT! AAAAAAHHHHHHHHH!" Kurama's furious roars filled Naruto's mind as his body was completely swallowed by the dark vortex.
Back in the outside world, the two shinobi screamed in terror as their bodies were also swallowed whole by the tear and once all of the energy emitted by the Rasengan/Chidori clash was sucked in, the tear sealed itself and all became silent.
Not even two minutes later, a spiky, silver haired Jonin and his ninken rushed onto the scene, frantically searching the premises for any sign of the two teens.
"No… please, this can't be happening!" Kakashi thought in increasing panic.
The Jonin had been running at ridiculous speeds across the countryside for hours trying to catch up to his fighting students. His fine tuned senses had picked up the sharp spike in chakra levels during Naruto and Sasuke's power struggle and he pumped even more chakra into his groaning muscles to arrive on the scene before something went terribly wrong.
But when the battlefield became quiet all of a sudden, Kakashi's heart sank.
"Kakashi… I can't track their scents. It's as if their presences disappeared entirely." Pakkun, Kakashi's favorite ninken, stated solemnly.
Kakashi was close to having a panic attack, this couldn't be happening…
This couldn't be happening again.
The silver haired Jonin collapsed to his knees, and tears slowly began to leak from his eyes. Kakashi felt like an utter failure, this was all his fault. If he had dealt with Sasuke's issues properly, none of this would have ever happened.
Poor Naruto had been dragged into fixing his mess and now he was gone, completely and utterly gone.
"Obito, my friend… Minato-sensei… I...I'm so sorry…. so very sorry." Kakashi thought in despair.
The broken shinobi punched the ground in heartache, causing cracks to form from the force. Pakkun stood by his master's side in a silent vigil as the man mourned his students.
"This is it... the moment of truth. Hell won't break me, I refuse to allow it. There's no way I'll let it rob me of my sanity like all of the others." one cursed soul thought.
The sinner, once known as Kazuki in another life, was one of the billions damned to suffer in the nine concentric circles of Hell. The man had long forgotten the atrocities he had committed during his time on his universe's Earth, only that it had been enough to curse him for eternity.
The man's face was gaunt and his sunken eyes were filled with the knowledge of endless horror. His body was burdened with a multitude of thick chains, each one clasping onto limbs tight enough to make movement difficult.
All the man knew now was suffering.
Suffering… Pain… Horror… and Torture.
Doomed to eternal toil without reprieve in a land of noxious fumes, scorching heat and screaming anguish, as well as constant guard against the demons that kept sentry.
Level One Hell's enforcers were known as the Balrog, creatures of flame, shadow, and darkness. The demons were thrice the size of a human with the head and hind legs of a bull, draconic wings, and claws that could tear through stone with ease.
To ensure obedience and instill terror, the demons manipulated their control over fire to create a variety of weapons. Anyone who dared to step out of line was quickly pounced on and horrifically made an example of.
Unfortunately, that wasn't even close to the end of it.
The sinner would be revived in the fountain of renewal, a cesspool of lava where the damned soul was agonizingly created a new body and the process could begin once anew.
Even with all the risks however, one brave soul was willing to take the perilous jump for freedom, despite the knowledge that capture would lead to his revival in a lower level of Hell.
A fate impossible for a human to withstand.
There was a common misconception with one's sentencing to damnation, even though the term was set to last for eternity, very few souls lasted more than several hundred years.
Despite the fact that death was not final for a human soul in Hell for their body would be recreated within the fountain of renewal, the soul will eventually reach a point where the subconscious literally cannot handle anymore external stimulus.
Once this point was reached, the soul simply ceased to exist. The sinner's existence will be forever erased from the annals of the universe, never to be seen from again.
Coming back to our rebellious sinner, the man's plan was simplicity at its finest. Over the course of a few years, the sinner used his pickaxe of endless toil to slowly chip away at his chains. He deliberately performed this at a snail's pace so the Balrog would not notice, and left the chains just barely intact.
Enough to give a semblance of functionality, but a quick jerk would snap them clean off.
While terrifying in their malice and cruelty, the Balrog weren't all that bright. A bigger body did not necessarily mean a bigger brain, and the fact that their size was on a greater scale than that of a human meant that their attention to detail on such a tiny thing as a chain was dubious at best.
Add to the fact that the sinner had also spent the years memorizing the patrol routines of the Balrog, noticing the times where the concentration of demons were lowest in his area meant that he had the set of circumstances needed for a decent attempt at escape.
Now all of this planning was fine and dandy, but it meant little unless you actually knew how to escape Hell. Funnily enough however, every sinner who was able to maintain their sanity remembered the location of the portals back to the mortal realms.
Right smack dab in the center of Level One Hell was a steep plateau and on top of it was a semicircle of dimensional portals where damned human souls entered Hell from their various universes. The recently convicted souls were all chained together in a line, before being dragged by a Balrog down a long, spiral stairway to their approaching Purgatory.
The main reason that there weren't more potential Hell escapees was due to fear. The Balrog needed no justification to attack, all you had to do was look like you were plotting something and you were next. This made it practically impossible to form groups to coordinate planned escape plots, and most sinners were too cowardly to attempt to escape on their own.
The ones who tried were a special, but selective breed. When they were alive, they must have possessed a quality that made them stand out in life but unfortunately misused to actively harm others.
The rebellious sinner did a quick once over around the premises to make sure that the Balrog weren't focusing on him, before making a quick jerk and snapping his chains off. Overcome with joy but wary of alerting the Balrog, the man quickly made his way behind a burning rock, hiding himself from view so he could find his bearings and plot his course for freedom.
Once assuring himself of the correct way to proceed, he slowly began to make his way. The sinner was lucky for his assigned station was relatively close to the portals, only a few miles away. Those who were unfortunate enough to be taken to the edges of the First Cycle would never have made it without being noticed.
And the Balrog were fucking FAST.
Step by step, inch by inch, the sinner slowly progressed towards the portals. It was slow going, traveling a hundred meters every ten minutes before hiding behind another molten rock for another long duration of time, but the sinner wasn't willing to screw up just because he was impatient.
Too much potential suffering was on the line for this.
After several hours of continuing his pace, the sinner finally gained a view of his prize. The Gates of Hell, they were like a shining beacon of hope to the weary sinner, it was as if a god had heard his pleas and decided to have mercy on his poor soul.
Even better, the Balrog who was guarding the staircase was currently dragging in a new batch of sinners to be broken into the horrors of Purgatory, leaving the portals practically unguarded. The man almost burst into tears as he witnessed his good fortune, he was expecting to have to cause a distraction on the spot and dive for the portals, but his escape was almost gift wrapped.
As the man gazed upon the finish line, his mind began to wander. No matter what, he promised to do good once he made it back. Whether it was to serve the hungry, build homes for the homeless, take a knife in the chest for someone, or even walk an old lady across the street, he promised to be a better man in the future.
Never again would he suffer this fate, every precaution would be taken.
The man counted down from ten, mentally gearing himself up for the charge to freedom. The silhouette of the Balrog continued to gradually fade as the distance between the two increased.
The sinner broke for the rocky staircase that winded around the Plateau until arriving at the foot of the Gates of Hell. Every ounce of pent up excitement and anticipation powered the energy he put into his headlong charge.
But just then, as the sinner was within ten feet of the first stair, disaster struck.
A horrible, screeching sound tore through all of Level One Hell. All eyes, from sinner to Balrog, looked up into the blood red sky from where the sound emanated from.
Cracks formed and the sky was torn asunder as a tear opened wide, releasing a massive pillar of energy that crashed into the ground and exploded with the force of a dying star. The shockwave that rang from the impact was so great that it left a crater hundreds of feet in diameter in its wake.
When the dust cleared, in the epicenter of it all laid two young humans who were severely injured and struggling to stand.
"Ugh… my head. What happened?" Naruto thought as he fell onto his rear, too weary to even stand.
The journey had not been gentle, as Naruto's jumpsuit had been torn to shreds, leaving his wound-ridden torso bare. Blood freely dripped from his temples, adding to the shinobi's disheveled appearance. Out of all of it however, Naruto's right arm looked the worst for the skin was charred and terrible burn marks circled around it. Sasuke wasn't in any better shape though, his left arm being in the same state as Naruto's.
Powerful techniques when misused bred terrible consequences after all.
"Crap… I'm feeling lightheaded. I must be suffering from chakra exhaustion." Sasuke thought as he slowly pushed himself to his knees.
When the Uchiha looked up and surveyed his surroundings, his eyes widened in alarm and his pulse quickened.
"W...Where the Hell are we?!" Naruto exclaimed in horror as he noticed their predicament.
"YOU FUCKING FAILURES! OF ALL THE GODDAMN BULLSHIT YOU TWO COULD HAVE PULLED, WHY DID YOU HAVE TO DO THIS?! KAMI WHY?! WHY HAVE YOU FORSAKEN ME?!" Kurama roared in obscene fury.
Naruto and Sasuke jumped at the vitriol-filled roar, wondering where it had originated from before Naruto paused in shock.
"K-Kyuubi?" Naruto asked in trepidation.
"WHO ELSE?!" Kurama barked.
Naruto jumped once more at the sheer anger that permeated the Kyuubi's words before steeling himself to respond.
"How are you even speaking to us?" Naruto asked in incredulity.
"When I return to the place of my origin, my powers are amplified. In this case, allowing me to voice my thoughts telepathically from within you. Speaking of which, HOW IN YOUR INFINITE STUPIDITY DID YOU MANAGE TO TEAR A HOLE INTO HELL OF ALL PLACES?!" Kurama demanded.
"We're… in Hell?" Sasuke asked dumbfounded.
How did they manage that?
"Yes dumbass, you two have taken us to the one place in the entire universe where I can't pull my infuriatingly incompetent container's ass out of the fire!" Kurama answered.
"Hey! Now hold on a sec-" Naruto started, before being rudely interrupted.
"NO, I WILL NOT 'HOLD ON A SECOND'! You imbeciles do not realize the severity of your actions! You two are still alive, yet somehow appeared in a dimension meant for the dead. You've broken so many laws of nature that I'm surprised we haven't been atomized by some indignant god for trespassing the boundaries of mortals! And worst of all, I'm still trapped inside of you! You're supposed to get yourself killed with some act of stupidity that I know you'll commit in the future, I disperse into chakra for a couple of years, reform, and then laugh in satisfaction as I crush your pathetic village into the ground for having the gall to seal me! But NOOO... you just had to drag me down with you!" Kurama roared in indignation.
Sasuke stood uncomfortably as Naruto and his tailed beast had a lover's spat. Trying to distract himself from the awkwardness, the Uchiha's eyes wandered.
His eyes then proceeded to widen comically as he gazed upon the fear inducing scene of a charging Balrog, twirling an axe of fire in the air maliciously.
"Um… Naruto." Sasuke squeaked in fear.
His teammate, too involved in his verbal spar with the Kyuubi, didn't respond.
"Naruto…" Sasuke repeated.
Again, no answer.
"NARUTO!" Sasuke yelled, his patience finally at its limit.
"WHAT?!" Naruto roared.
"WHAT?!" Kurama roared.
"W-what is that?!" asked Sasuke, regaining his earlier fear for the demon that was a hell of a lot closer now.
"Huh? What do you me-oh SHIT!" Naruto squawked upon laying eyes on the figure in question.
"DON'T JUST STAND THERE YOU IDIOTS! GET YA BALLS UP! GET ME OUTTA HERE!" Kurama bellowed.
Naruto and Sasuke dove in opposite directions as the Balrog brought the proverbial axe down. The force of its strike was so powerful, that a chasm formed at the point of impact which extended to every end of the crater they were in.
As the cracks from the strike continued to grow, the ground beneath the two shinobi splintered, nearly knocking them off of their feet.
"H-Holy crap! That thing is really strong!" Naruto yelled in alarm.
A bead of sweat fell down Sasuke's temple as he swallowed deeply. The strength behind that creature's swing was insane, if that had connected with either one of them the result would've been ugly.
When Sasuke tried to shift himself into a better defensive position, his body erupted into an episode of excruciating pain that made him stagger. His body was thrashed from the day's events and now it was going to cost him.
The Balrog, immediately sensing Sasuke's weakness, charged forward once more. Dirt ripped out of the ground from the force exerted in its dash.
Sasuke's eyes widened in alarm as the Balrog's flame sheathed claw reared back to behead him, but he was saved by the timely arrival of Naruto's tackle. The boys rolled as a tangle of bodies out of the danger zone before crashing into the edge of the giant crater.
"You okay there Sasuke? You froze up for a second. Don't tell me the great Uchiha is scared." Naruto said with a smirk as he picked himself up.
Sasuke took a second to regain his composure before sneering back in response, although most of the heat was absent from before.
"You wish, dobe. Kami knows you need me to save your sorry ass." Sasuke retorted as he stood up beside the jinchuriki.
"Heh, you got me there. So, any ideas on how to beat this thing?" Naruto asked, as he warily eyed the pacing Balrog.
"...Nope. I'm pretty beat up from our fight and I'm almost out of chakra. This could be the end." Sasuke replied morbidly.
Naruto growled at the defeatist attitude, it wasn't over until it was over in his book, but he couldn't deny Sasuke's point for he was in the same situation.
"Before you brats go and get yourselves killed, how about listening to some potential wisdom? We have a chance… a very small, microscopic chance… but still a chance at getting out of this alive. Nearby is this plateau that at the top sits an array of portals. Portals that lead back to the mortal dimensions. If we can get to one, we should be golden." Kurama said hastily.
Naruto and Sasuke's eyes widened at the new information, now they had a goal to strive for rather than a desperate fight for survival.
"How do you know so much about this place Kyuubi?" Naruto asked.
"Hmph, brat if you can actually survive this. I'll consider telling you. But that's a really bi-INCOMING!" Kurama yelled in warning.
Unfortunately, the alarm was sounded too late as the Balrog appeared before the two shinobi in an instant and viciously backhanded the duo.
Knocked senseless by the blow, the boys were unable to react to the Balrog's follow up grabbing of their necks and smashing of them into the crater wall. Naruto and Sasuke gasped in pain as the enraged demon squeezed with all its might.
"C-Can't let this be the end." Naruto thought frantically as he reached into his weapon pouch.
The jinchuriki quickly brought out a kunai and forcefully stabbed it into the demon's hand, causing it to slacken its grip from the sudden jolt of pain. Sasuke took advantage of the momentary weakness by using the demon's arm to swing himself up into the air before landing a savage spinning kick into the back of the beast's head.
The added force of Sasuke's descent due to gravity allowed him to smash the Balrog head first into the ground. Despite the fact that such a move would have hospitalized a trained shinobi, the Balrog shrugged it off with ease and slashed at Sasuke, who barely slipped out of the way.
The Balrog's attention was diverted from Sasuke when its sensitive ears picked up a series of similarly sounding battle cries. It turned around only to be blindsided by a powerful haymaker to the cheek courtesy of a shadow clone.
Three more Naruto clones followed up with rising kicks to the beast's torso while the real Naruto somersaulted into the air thanks to using the first clone's back as a platform.
"NARUTO RENDAN!" (Uzumaki Naruto Barrage) Naruto roared as he finished off his combo with a ruthless drop kick to the ascending Balrog's cranium.
The combo finisher sent the Balrog speeding back down towards the ground, but its beating wasn't yet over as Sasuke flew up towards it courtesy of a throw from the now dispelled Naruto clones. The Uchiha had a feeling that Naruto's attack wouldn't be enough to finish off their adversary and planned in advance to keep up the pressure.
"Let's see if this will be enough to finish it." Sasuke thought as he used Lee's Kage Buyo (Shadow of the Dancing Leaf) to appear behind the Balrog's back.
Sasuke whipped his forearm into the Balrog's side, causing it to howl in pain and flip around uncontrollably. Sasuke took advantage of his opponent's disoriented state to land a barrage of vicious strikes to various weakpoints on the demon's body.
The science behind the Shishi Rendan (Lion Combo) was to increase the force of the recipient's fall by causing them to spin around faster and faster with expertly placed blows to the body to keep up the momentum. Only someone with the Sharingan and excellent physical condition could pull off the move as keeping track of their aerial position, knowing the right places to strike, and the exact moment when to disengage was too strenuous for the average mind.
That wasn't to say that the move came without its drawbacks however, the user suffered almost as much fatigue and musculature damage as someone who uses the derived technique, the Front Lotus pulled off in tandem with the first of the Eight Celestial Gates.
"SHISHI RENDAN!" (Lion Combo) Sasuke shouted as he landed a spinning heel kick to the Balrog's abdomen at the exact moment its back made contact with the ground.
The force of the Balrog's fall was so great that it sunk several inches into the cracking ground, while Sasuke backflipped away from the landing site. Debris rose from the point of impact, hiding the fallen Balrog from view.
Sasuke stumbled on his feet when he landed and would have collapsed on his back if it weren't for Naruto coming around and helping him up.
"I've got you teme. Don't go quitting on me now." Naruto said with a cheeky grin.
Sasuke sighed in relief with the conclusion of the battle, that demon was no joke at all. It would have been a tough fight to solo on his own if he was full health, it was luck that he had Naruto on his side.
"Thanks for the help Naruto." Sasuke said simply, no backhanded comment or snide remark present to the jinchuriki's surprise.
Naruto looked at Sasuke oddly for a second, as if the boy had grown a second head. After a few moments of silence to the uncomfortable Uchiha's consternation, Naruto put his arms behind his head and grinned.
"Gee Sasuke, if I didn't know you any better I'd think that there was a heart under all of that doom and gloom of yours. Must be opposite day." Naruto remarked with a fox like smile.
"That's the last time I pay you a compliment, dobe." Sasuke growled, reddening in annoyance.
"There's the grouch that we all know and love." Naruto countered.
"Hn." Sasuke muttered, putting an end to the conversation.
The battlefield then became quiet, almost serene and peaceful if it weren't for… you know… it being Hell and all.
"RRRRAAAGGHHH!" came a menacing roar that reached such an intensity, sound waves created violent winds that caused Naruto and Sasuke to cover their faces in recoil.
"WHAT?! IMPOSSIBLE!" Sasuke thought in alarm.
"IT'S ALIVE?!" Naruto thought in horror.
"Can't you two do anything right?!" Kurama asked in incredulity.
The Balrog that had seemingly been defeated rose from its chasm in the ground as if it had never sustained damage, its eyes glowing a bloodlusted red that promised swift and vicious retribution. The demon's fists were clenched so tightly in rage that blood dripped from its palms and soaked the ground, which then began to dissolve due to the blood's acidic nature.
"YOU GODDAMNED HUMANS! UNFORGIVABLE! ABSOLUTELY UNFORGIVABLE! I WILL NOT REST UNTIL I'M CHEWING ON YOUR BONE MARROW!" the Balrog roared to the heavens, while the temperature of the battlefield soared to new heights as the beast's flame powers spiraled out of control.
"Oh shit! T-The thing can talk?!" Naruto stammered in fear.
"I-It was holding back all along. It never spoke because it didn't see us as anything more than ants until now." Sasuke gulped, stepping back from the Balrog's intense display of power.
"YA THINK?! RUN!" Kurama shouted in warning.
The Balrog began to suck in a massive amount of air, before breathing out a massive plume of Hellfire that closed in on Naruto and Sasuke rapidly. As the flame torrent detonated into a fierce explosion, the two shinobi frantically jumped onto the walls of the crater and used what little chakra they had left to run up the vertical surface in pursuit of the portals.
They never had a chance in Hell against the Balrog, if only they weren't stupid enough to finally realize it now.
The livid Balrog charged after the boys like a maddened bull, Naruto and Sasuke's only saving grace was that they could run much faster than the average human.
But that only meant that the Balrog would slowly gain on them, rather than catch up in an instant.
"HUMANS!" the Balrog roared, as it generated a fire whip and began to crack it at the fleeing shinobi.
Naruto and Sasuke ran as fast as they could while dodging the Balrog's frenzied attacks, but as the plateau began to become visible to their eyes, another ear-piercing roar made their hearts stop cold.
That horrifying sound was followed by another, and then another, and then cacophony of them, until the entirety of Level One Hell was filled with the roars. Sasuke dared to swivel his head to the side and his pupils dilated in hysteria when he saw the sight that greeted him.
Hundreds… no THOUSANDS of Balrog were charging in from the hills, all looking to partake in the bloodbath that was to come.
"Fuck, Fuck, Fuckity Fuck Fuck… FUCK!" Naruto chanted over and over as the Balrog closed in from all sides. If Naruto and Sasuke didn't reach the stairwell to the portals in time, there would be no chance of escape whatsoever.
"Tell me humans! Are you frightened?! Can you anticipate the agonizing feeling of having your skin flayed, your nails ripped off, and then being devoured by the horde?! That's what you have to look forward to! Just come a little bit closer so I can take you to your fate!" the Balrog snickered with bloodlust, extending its arm outward so it could try and grab ahold of Sasuke's head.
Sasuke tried his damned hardest to keep the Balrog from catching him, but it was utter futility in the end. The demon snagged the Uchiha's head and whipped him back viciously, eliciting a cry from the shinobi.
"Sasuke!" Naruto yelled as he skidded to a halt.
Sasuke struggled mightily but hopelessly to get loose. The Balrog's maw widened into a malicious grin as it pulled back a flame sheathed claw to kill the Uchiha and make him a permanent resident of Purgatory.
"YOUR TIME IS UP, HUMAN! PREPARE! TO! DIE!" the Balrog roared with crazed eyes as it brought its claw forward to deal the final blow.
Sasuke's eyes widened in unbridled terror as he saw his life flash through his eyes. Every single one of his memories played in his mind as the claw slowly inched towards him.
His earliest memory of his parents cheering him on as he began to take his first steps...
Sitting in bed wrapped up in blankets as his beloved older brother read him a bedtime story before a long term ANBU mission...
The Uchiha massacre and the subsequent depression that came along with it, the oath that he took in front of the Naka River to slay Itachi and restore the pride of his clan, and the intense rage-fueled bouts of training to reach his goal…
Graduating from the Academy and being placed onto Team 7, all of the goddamned D-rank missions and catching that Daimyo's wife's devil cat, the A-Rank mission at Wave and the unlocking of his prized Sharingan, the trials of the Chunin Exam and the fight with Gaara...
His horrifically disastrous battle against Itachi and the shocking revelation that all of his efforts in Konoha were for nothing, the Sound Four sneaking into Konoha and offering him the power he so desperately craved if he only swore loyalty to Orochimaru, his subsequent betrayal and then Naruto's constant efforts at bringing him back that culminated into their fateful battle…
"I… I can't die here! I can't! I have too much to accomplish! Stop! Please! NO!" Sasuke thought with dread as the claw was now only centimeters from his heart.
"RASENGAN!" Naruto roared with every fiber of his being as he slammed one final spiralling orb of chakra point blank into the Balrog's face, just moments before he pierced through Sasuke.
The chakra attack carried every single remaining sliver of chakra within Naruto's body, enlarging itself beyond normal, and detonated so powerfully that it carried the screeching Balrog with it hundreds of feet backwards in a spiralling vortex, until it collided into a molten boulder and lay still.
"N-Naruto… you saved my li-" Sasuke began before freezing at Naruto's subsequent collapse into the ground.
The jinchuriki's eyes were glazed over and he looked as if he wasn't breathing.
"No… he can't be!" Sasuke thought in alarm as he pressed two fingers to the side of Naruto's neck, checking for a pulse.
It was a long, agonizing thirty seconds that Sasuke waited, refusing to move even in the path of a thousand more enemies like the one that nearly killed him.
Then Sasuke finally felt it, it was slow and weak, but Naruto's pulse had returned.
Let it never be said that Naruto wasn't a fighter.
"Th...thank goodness." Sasuke thought in relief, before slinging Naruto onto his back and making for the stairway to the Gates of Hell.
As the Uchiha ran up the long winding staircase, his mind wandered to the person whom he owed his life to. Sasuke vividly remembered Naruto telling him that he was just as chakra exhausted as the Uchiha was, yet when someone the Uzumaki shared a bond with fell into danger, he cast aside all worry for his well being and put his all into saving them.
Even at the risk of his own life.
"You're an amazing person, Naruto. So much better than I could ever be. I honestly don't know what I've done to deserve this, I was a dirtbag to you and Sakura. By all means, you should hate my guts. But you actually see me as your best friend, your brother. I promise, no matter what, I won't let you die. I'll watch your back 'till the end just as you've watched mine." Sasuke thought determinedly, as he climbed the stairs at an astonishing rate.
The horde of Balrog approaching from the far corners of Purgatory had finally arrived and seeing no point in trying to climb the stairs themselves, they instead smashed their axes against the base of the stairway, causing it to crumble and continue its path upwards.
They could always build a new stairway anyway.
The chasm picked up its pace rapidly and slowly began to close in on Sasuke. The Uchiha saw this and put on every ounce of speed that he could muster, allowing him to reach the final straightaway to the Gates.
"Come on! Come on!" Sasuke thought as he cleared the final set of stairs.
When the Uchiha reached the semicircle of portals, he paused briefly.
"Which one should I go through?!" thought Sasuke in a panic.
If only Naruto was still awake, then he could've asked the Kyuubi which one was which.
As Sasuke contemplated, the plateau itself shook as the Balrog were now trying to destroy the natural feature to prevent the two shinobi from escaping.
"Fuck it." Sasuke said, before picking a random portal and taking a leap of faith.
Not even three seconds after the Uchiha jumped through, the rocky platform crumbled entirely, crashing down to the ground and kicking up dust.
The horde of Balrog jumped into the gravel in a frenzy, hoping to find the escaping pair within the rocks. However, after several minutes of searching the demons had found nothing.
In the span of an hour, the inescapable fortress of Hell had been broken into and escaped from. No greater insult could even be contemplated.
The Balrog who had been sent flying by Naruto's Rasengan finally rejoined the horde, and when it learned of Naruto and Sasuke's escape it wildly began to froth Hellfire from its maw in an episode of inarticulate rage.
"Don't even THINK that this is the end, HUMANS! I will scour the entire multiverse until I find you! And when I do, HELL won't even be a fitting description of the torture I'll reap on you!" the Balrog thought in unyielding rage.
Dimensional travel did not yield a pleasant experience and this was Sasuke's second time within the same day. It felt like you were being splinched through a long, narrow tube and all of your senses were thrown off completely.
Nevertheless, the Uchiha's ordeal eventually ended when there was a flash of blinding light.
The sky, that was now a normal blue with a radiant sun, was torn asunder once again and a massive pillar of energy erupted from the tear and crashed into the ground. After the resulting shockwave died down and the dust cleared, Sasuke slowly and sluggishly dragged himself and Naruto out of the newly formed crater.
"Slow and Steady, Sasuke… Slow and Steady…" the Uchiha chanted to himself.
Despite the mantra however, Sasuke's legs finally gave out and the shinobi collapsed to the ground, Naruto's unconscious body rolling over to land beside him.
Sasuke repeatedly tried to push himself up, but failed every single time before giving up when he spewed a sickening amount of blood from his mouth.
"F-Fuck… I can't give up now. I won't give up! I've got to get Naruto help or he'll die! C'mon body… GET UP!" Sasuke thought, blood continuing to ooze out of his olfactories.
The Uchiha's body refused to listen to him however, and the shinobi felt his eyes begin to grow heavy. Even Sasuke's obscene amount of willpower couldn't halt the tide, he was going to black out.
"...S-Somebody… help… please." Sasuke murmured, his body growing more unresponsive with every passing second.
Luckily for the Uchiha, his plea was answered as moments before he fell unconscious, his ears picked up a pair of voices.
"What in Ishgar? Is that a boy?" an unknown male voice asked.
"Seems so Toshiki-kun, two of them actually." a female voice responded.
"But why are they so beat up, Yukari-chan? Are they a part of that hoodlum guild of mages running amok in town?" the male voice now known as Toshiki said.
"Nonsense, look how young they are! C'mon, grab the other one. They need some medical attention." Yukari ordered as she picked up Sasuke's prone body in her arms.
"What?! Are you crazy?! We can't just take two random strangers to our home! What if they're killers for hire or something?! You wouldn't suspect a couple of kids!" Toshiki said.
"Toshiki-kun… You can either help me take these boys back to the farm or take a frying pan to the face when we get back. Your choice." Yukari finished sweetly.
Eto Toshiki grumbled discontentedly under his breath as he picked up Naruto, but he didn't dare argue. You don't mess with your wife unless you're looking for trouble.
The farmer had greying hair, but a tall and well-built physique that belied his age. Sunspots dotted his wrinkled and stern forehead and a shaggy beard rested on his chin. He wore a checkered flannel shirt, overalls, and boots.
Yukari was similar in age and attire, but much smaller in size. Didn't do a damn thing to weaken her swings though.
"I hope you know what you're doing, Yukari-chan. If this blows up in our face, I swear I'll haunt you for eternity." Toshiki grumbled.
"Stop being such a grump, Toshiki-kun. It'll be fun taking care of a couple of kids. You know since…" Yukari began, before choking up.
Toshiki's face softened as he comforted the love of his life. Ever since Yukari had been left barren by that botched up pregnancy all those years ago, she became depressed every time she thought of the role she could never be.
Promising to keep whatever reservations he had about the two teens to himself, Toshiki cradled Naruto in one arm before wrapping the other around his wife.
Yukari sank into her husband's embrace and the old couple ambled back to their farmstead with the unconscious Naruto and Sasuke in their arms.
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