A Certain Boss Appears
"Come on~! Come on~! Let's get moving guys! The guild and the police are counting on us! Megumin! Where's your usual spunk? We have a big quest today!"
Naruto chanted as he marched into the forest just outside of town. He moved to the back of the group where the young Crimson Demon was lagging unenthusiastically and clapped her on the back a couple times.
'That guy seems to be in a good mood. It's like none of what happened this morning ever happened.'
Kazuma thought as he watched Naruto try and hype Megumin up for their quest unsuccessfully. He looked back at Aqua, who was even farther behind Megumin and was being led by Darkness. Her eyes had the same dead fish look since this morning. He almost felt sorry for the girl…
When Naruto had showed up at the adventurer's guild, he had(unsurprisingly) confessed to being the one behind the giant toad prank. They tried to get him to apologize to Aqua but eventually gave up after the ninja simply laughed in response. It was kind of creepy.
After being scolded by the head receptionist and Darkness and slapped with a bill for the inn's repairs, Naruto was now leading them towards the destination for their quest.
That destination being…
"No! How can I, a Crimson Demon who excels in the ultimate magic, be excited to enter the most dangerous place for a mage! The narrow pathways… The low ceilings… The single exit points… No! I refuse to so much as step foot into such a place!"
Megumin said while hugging her staff and shuttering at the thought of delving into the one place she wouldn't use her magic.
"Come on, Megumin. Don't be like that. Even if we get into a huge fight with a boss type monster and the dungeon collapses, I'll be able to get us all out safe and sound. Actually, that sounds kinda fun. You should try using your Explosion magic while we're in there."
Naruto pondered aloud before making a rather dangerous suggestion, and the little girl's eyes turned into saucers.
"Kazuma! Kazuma! Naruto's finally gone off the deep en-mmmfff!"
Ignoring his two short-fused companions, Kazuma noticed the entrance to Keele's dungeon come into view.
A good distance away from the entrance stood a handful of police officers behind some trees. They seemed to be watching something in the cave's direction with weary eyes.
Kazuma greeted with a casual wave of his hand, and the police officers all turned to meet his gaze with looks of surprise and relief.
"Thank goodness… An adventuring party is here."
"They sure took their time though."
"They may be the party who played a big role in the defeat of the Demon King Army General and the Destroyer, but these adventurers are a little too carefree aren't they?"
"We were expecting more to show up, but they're the only ones… Are we going to be okay?"
The men wearing classic blue police officer outfits muttered amongst themselves.
'If I wasn't still being suspected, I would have slapped every one of them.'
Kazuma thought with a twitching eyebrow as Sena, the head police officer, appeared from the back and walked up to him.
"Kazuma Satou! You are late! This is a very serious situation. What is the reason for your tardiness?"
Sena demanded in a scolding manner while crossing her arms over her chest.
Kazuma simply stepped to the side and pointed at Naruto, who mocked a salute.
As if noticing the shinobi's presence for the first time, the police officers moved into an organized line with Sena at the front and bowed.
"Thank you for your service!" x10
The "reason for their tardiness" responded while scratching at his whisker marks awkwardly.
"Hold on, isn't the difference in treatment a little much!? Also, he was the one who destroyed the inn with a giant toad this morning! I cleaned up that mess by the way! Where's my thanks!?"
Kazuma barked while keeping his accusing finger aimed at the now sheepish shinobi.
"What are you talking about, Kazuma Satou? Naruto Uzumaki-san has done a great service for our town. Also, how could someone bring a giant toad into town without being noticed?"
Sena said, her tone swapping back to her serious/professional one when she turned back to face Kazuma with a face matching said tone.
Kazuma grit his teeth in frustration. That was it. He was going to show that damn woman just how respectable of an adventurer he was. He didn't suffer all those adventurers with his party and Naruto to be disrespected like this! Damn it!
"Anyways, here is the situation. Strange doll-like creatures wearing suspicious masks have been surfacing from the dungeon and scaring other monsters out. They may look harmless, but when something gets too close-"
The policewoman started and as she was explaining, a horned rabbit appeared in the clearing just outside of the dungeon and walked up to one of the dolls.
Sena finished from behind the trees as the ground shook from the blast.
Staring at the small crater where the one-shot rabbit once stood, Kazuma turned on his heels and placed a hand on Naruto's shoulder.
"I'll leave this one to you, Hero-san."
"Sure, leave it to me!"
Kazuma said and Naruto readily agreed. The two began to go their separate ways when Darkness grabbed ahold of their arms.
"H-hold on Kazuma! This is an official request from the authorities so you can't leave! Also, Naruto, I can understand your urge to charge straight into that mob of exploding dolls, but please wait a minute. Let's strategize as a party."
The noble woman(lol) said while guiding them over to Aqua and Megumin, who were hiding behind the trees with the police officers.
"Now then. Megumin is obviously out, and Aqua doesn't seem to be responsive for the time being. So you two should wait out here for us. If we don't come out in a couple days, you can go and get some help-"
Darkness started but was interjected by Kazuma who heard something strange.
"Hang on, why a couple days!? We'd be long dead by then! What are you expecting to find down there anyway?"
Kazuma asked while eyeing the knight suspiciously, causing the girl to avert her gaze.
"Now now, Kazuma… Let's not expose your party's pervert like that. Though I do agree with her. Megumin doesn't want to go into the dungeon for some reason, and we can't bring that sack of potatoes with us either."
Naruto said with a shrug, causing Darkness and Megumin to avert their gazes.
'This guy can be scary in a different way…'
Kazuma thought with a sweatdrop, noticing for the first time in a while just how well Naruto blended with his three troublesome party members. He still couldn't decide whether having the ninja as a permanent addition would be a blessing or a curse .
"Alright. You stay out here and keep an eye on Aqua, okay Megumin? Darkness, Naruto, and I will go into the dungeon to investigate."
With that said, the three stepped out into the clearing.
"Hey Darkness, wanna see who can defeat the most dolls? Winner buys the loser a neroid when we get back."
"I-I have to pay you back one for what you said earlier, so I accept your challenge!"
Naruto issued a challenge to Darkness, who responded back with a flushed face. With with the terms of the challenge in order, the two then charged towards the center of the dolls.
Kazuma sighed as explosions started going off one by one. Those two would be okay, but the landscape was another matter. He hoped they wouldn't have to pay for any damages.
Later inside Keele's Dungeon…
Naruto and Kazuma followed behind Darkness, who insisted on taking the lead, down the initial flight of stairs. Since the dolls were pitifully slow, they were easy to land a hit on so even Darkness was able to cut them in two with her great sword. Unlike last time the two boys had been there, the dungeon was lit up by various torches.
"This is amazing! Kazuma! Naruto! Do you see me!? Is this what it feels like to land your attacks every time!?"
As Darkness continued to seemingly have the time of her life, Kazuma turned to Naruto who seemed to be lost in thought.
"What's up? Are you disappointed you lost?"
"…Huh? No, those dolls were too weak. I just got bored. I was planning on buy a bunch of neroid for all of us anyway."
Naruto said with a light-hearted chuckle, and Kazuma let out a dry laugh.
If even Darkness could hit them, he could only imagine how easy it would be for the shinobi to take care of those dolls.
"Besides, it was fun watching them all jump on Darkness and explode. That girl really is durable."
Naruto added, causing his fellow teen to fault in his footsteps.
"I know this is Darkness we're talking about, but that's a little…"
Kazuma started, but he couldn't help but agree with the guy.
"That wasn't what I've been thinking about though. When I first saw those little doll things it reminded me of something and I remembered just now. Back in my world, there was a guy who was obsessed with explosions. Kinda like Megumin, actually. But he had a technique that was similar to these exploding dolls. But there's no way he's here! Hahaha!"
Naruto explained while rubbing his chin in thought before letting out a hearty laugh.
Kazuma looked at the dolls that were getting cut down by Darkness one-by-one and gulped.
That didn't just raise a flag, right?
Such a terrifying sounding person from Naruto's world couldn't possibly have been brought to this world, right?
Just as Kazuma was about to ask Naruto for more details, the shinobi tensed and shot forward.
After silently disposing of a few dolls before they could explode, Naruto stopped at a corner in front of Darkness and motioned for them to come over while putting a finger to his lips.
Doing as the shinobi instructed, Darkness and Kazuma quietly moved next to the boy and then they all peered around the corner together.
At the end of the well-lit hallway, a man wearing a formal suit and a suspicious mask that matched the ones on the dolls sat cross legged on a small platform where a chest must have sat in the past. He seemed to be working on something in his hands.
"Is that who's been making all these dolls?"
Kazuma asked while making sure to keep Darkness and Naruto in front of him.
Hey, it wasn't because he was scared or anything. Those two were just a hell of a lot more durable than him, and he didn't want to die(again) if this guy was powerful.
"I think so… But look at that suspicious looking mask. That man must be dangerous. Who knows what he'll do if he captures us down here, where no one can see or hear us…"
Darkness said, a blush growing on her cheeks as her breathing became more rugged.
"Putting aside that weird stuff, that suspicious guy is definitely the one who's making the dolls… and he's strong! I can feel it!"
Naruto said as a feral grin spread across his features. He watched the masked man place the object in his hands onto the ground, revealing it to be the very masked dolls they had been cutting down the entire way down here.
Finally! A boss level foe had appeared!
Kazuma went over their options in his head. Darkness could distract the enemy as their main frontline, while he and Naruto provided support-
A low, but maniacal laugh echoed in the hallway.
Kazuma's thoughts halted and he looked at the masked man again, a cold shiver running down his spine.
The small chuckles turned into full-blown laughter as the suspicious man rose to his feet, his head thrown back as his body shook with every gleeful breath.
"Thou hath finally arrived to moi's layer! Come! There is no use hiding from moi's all seeing eyes…"
He said after his laughter calmed down, and the two blondes stepped into the clearing.
"So, you're the one who's been infesting this dungeon with all these dolls? Who are you?"
Naruto asked as he pulled a knife from his side holster and threw it at the doll the masked man had just made with deft precision, cutting its head off.
The man didn't seem fazed in the slightest at the sight of his creation being cut down and merely laughed again.
"Fuahaha… Moi's name is Vanir! Yes, the Duke from Hell Vanir! General of the Demon King's army!"
Naruto, Kazuma, and Darkness went wide-eyed at the now named Vanir's revelation.
Another general of the Demon King's army had appeared!
"Did thou appreciate moi Vanir dolls? Yes, they are quite cute indeed. They leave quite an… Explosive first impression, don't they? Fuahahahaha!"
Vanir said while molding another "Vanir Doll" out of dirt in his hands. He then tossed it to the ground and laughed as it waddled towards the adventurers.
"Hey, you guys fought the last Demon King Army General. So I'll take care of this one, alright?"
Naruto proclaimed while cracking his knuckles. He was about to see what these feared high bounty targets were made of.
"W-w-what are you saying, Naruto!? That devil is a Demon King Army General, and a devil at that! As a Crusader, there's no way I could let you take on such a powerful opponent by yourself!"
Darkness hastily rejected her fellow blonde's attempts at taking on their enemy alone and took a stance with her sword.
"Fuahaha! Now now, brat who really shouldn't be in this world, and uncouth noble woman who feels like dead weight when it's most important. There is more than enough of moi to go around."
Vanir chortled and said some strange things while half bowing, earning shocked/embarrassed looks from Naruto and Darkness.
'Interesting… This so-called Duke from Hell might just be entertaining.'
Kurama's voice echoed in Naruto's mind, and the shinobi nodded his head in agreement as his excitement grew.
Naruto took a couple steps forwards before he thumped his chest with his thumb.
"My name is Naruto Uzumaki! I'm going to take you down, Demon King Army General!"
"You wish to defeat moi? The Vanir who some say is stronger than the demon king? Let us see, boy who secretly enjoyed getting walked all over by the females in his life because he was getting lonely! Just like a forgotten arch wizard who plays chess in the corner of the adventurer's guild!"
Naruto pulled a knife from his holster and took an eager step towards his foe when Vanir said something that caught him off guard and caused him to fall flat on his face, a guilty arrow stabbing him in the back at the mention of his remaining party member.
"Striking a man where he cannot defend himself. You fiend! I will strike you down myself!"
"Fuahaha! Thou shalt have to catch moi first, uncouth noblewoman who cannot land a blow for her life and as a result has been feeling completely useless as of late! There are skills to dedicate thy points to help with that, but thou seems to relish the thought of the scornful looks of thy party members. Ah! These negative emotions are quite nice! Yes, they are delicious indeed."
Darkness made a move to advance towards the enemy, only to fall flat on her face after Vanir's comments as well.
With both of his meatshie-teammates taken out from such heavy blows, Kazuma, who had been sneaking around in the background with his lurk skill to get a better vantage point, gulped when the suspicious man pointed in his direction without even looking.
"What will thou do, now that thy teammates have been defeated so effortlessly? Boy with the easiest class to gain experience yet still has the lowest level in his party?"
Ignoring the obvious insults that this apparent Duke from Hell was saying that revealed things that he shouldn't have had any knowledge of, how had he seen where he was hiding?
'He mentioned something about having all seeing eyes earlier… Does he have some sort of cheat ability?'
Kazuma thought while coming out of his hiding spot and feigning a smirk.
"I guess it's no use hiding from a boss level enemy like a general of the demon king. My name's Kazuma Satou. Yes, that's right, THE Kazuma Satou. The one played a big role in the defeat of not just a Demon King General, but also the Mobile Destroyer!"
How was that for a dramatic entry!? Naruto wasn't the only one who could come up with shonen-like declarations!
After all, he wasn't technically lying. He HAD played a big part in the defeat of both of those high bounty targets, despite being so low leveled.
So now was the time to come out of hiding and become the hero he was destined to become in this good for nothing fantasy world!
"Fufufu… It seems that moi has encountered quite an unlikely match up. This will be quite interesting indeed."
Vanir said while rubbing his chin in consideration as Naruto and Darkness pulled themselves to their feet.
"Well said, Kazuma… But this guy just made things personal by spouting all of those obvious lies!"
Naruto barked angrily and lunged at the Demon King General, swiping his newly brandished knife in quick motions.
But the devil was quick and sidestepped each and every swing, little bursts of laughter coming out of his mouth as he moved.
'No… Those were obvious truths.'
Kazuma thought with a sweatdrop as Naruto continued his assault.
Shaking his head, the adventurer moved to their flank and drew his bow, taking aim to support the shinobi.
The moment Vanir took to the air to evade a low sweeping kick from Naruto, Kazuma let his arrow loose. The enemy couldn't dodge in midair-
Vanir snatched the arrow out of the air from behind his back where Kazuma had been aiming, surprising the trio.
Could it be… That this demon king general could see the future!?
Vanir threw the arrow back towards Kazuma, and the boy was too shocked to react in time. Luckily, Darkness threw herself in front of the boy with her arms raised to intercept the projectile. The arrow harmlessly bounced off of her armor and fell to the floor.
Kazuma said to his comrade, and Darkness gave him a nod before running off to rejoin the fight.
…Wait, what was this? Were they actually having a serious battle right now? Darkness seemed to be acting completely out of character right now.
Although, defense was Darkness's single strong suit so he shouldn't be too surprised.
But this situation was pretty serious. After all, they were now facing an enemy that was not only dodging all of Naruto's attacks, but counterattacking Kazuma and Darkness at the same time.
Having Naruto here with him was comforting in of itself, as Kazuma without a doubt would be pissing his pants otherwise. But watching the devil evade Naruto's attacks was a different kind of scary. All of the enemies he'd seen the blonde face either fled on sight or were taken out with a single attack. Even the Mobile Destroyer was no match when that guy went all out.
This Vanir must really have some sort of foresight ability, which was going to make landing a blow tricky.
Naruto, who was coming to the same conclusion as his fellow adventurer, was forming a new strategy as he continued his onslaught of fast-paced taijutsu.
Precognition… He was starting to feel a little nostalgic. This was starting to remind him of his fights with a certain raven-haired friend of his.
'If three people can't land a hit on this guy…'
Naruto thought and lunged at Vanir with his knife just as Darkness swung her sword down on the other side of the devil. Just as expected, Vanir seemed to see Naruto coming without even looking and turned towards the teen while avoiding the crusader's swing.
Vanir casually stepped past the knife and gave Naruto a pat on the back, the blondes now set for collision.
But before the impact, Naruto had tossed the knife over his shoulder and quickly brought his hands into a cross-like seal.
Another Naruto appeared in a plume of smoke and pushed off the original's back, catching the airborne knife and raising it to stab the devil in the chest.
"Thou hath an interesting skill, but thy still cannot catch-Hm? Moi's feet are stuck?"
Vanir said in confusion when he tried and failed to move out of the way, and looked down to see two more smirking Naruto clones holding onto his legs.
The devil said as the first clone dove the knife into his chest. The suspicious looking man fell back onto the floor, the clones all disappearing in smoke.
'He got him!'
Kazuma found himself cheering and pumped a fist in the air. Another Demon King General down! He wondered how much the bounty for this one was… And no damages to the town or the terrain this time!
Naruto snickered and sent Kazuma a thumbs up before looking down at Darkness who was currently laying underneath him after he had crashed into her.
"You're enjoying this aren't you?"
"No I'm not."
Naruto rolled his eyes and stood up, dusting himself off before offering a helping hand to the obviously blushing crusader.
The old him would have been flustered from being so close to Darkness's admittedly beautiful face, but now he felt nothing. For all he could think about was all the troublesome situations her weird quirk had put him through.
He'd still be her friend, of course. Despite her quirk, Darkness was quite friendly and cared for her comrades.
After helping the still blushing girl to her feet, Naruto let out a sigh.
"W-why did you sigh so disappointedly white looking at me!?"
Darkness stuttered with a half-happy, half-fuming expression on her increasingly red face.
Naruto placed a hand on her shoulder and smiled reassuringly.
"Don't worry, I'll be your friend no matter what."
"That's awfully nice of you, but why do I feel like you're taking pity on me!? Although this kind of play isn't bad…"
Darkness responded and hid her face behind her hands, taking a peak while muttering the last bit.
Kazuma shook his head as he watched his team's interactions. He was glad Naruto had finally learned his lesson with Darkness, and Aqua too.
"Moi can see the light… Coming ever so closely."
The trio turned to look down at the fallen demon king general who was clutching the knife in his chest and reaching towards the sky.
"Moi's only regret… was to not see 'that person' one last time."
Naruto frowned. This guy was a devil, a high bounty target and general of the Demon King's army. But he felt bad… Even the bad guys had things they held dear, and it seemed Vanir had some unfinished business.
"Want us to pass on a message? Who is this person?"
The shinobi found himself saying, and Vanir looked at him with surprise on his masked face.
"Kind adventurer… Thou would do a favor for thy enemy? Even though moi was a great threat to mankind? The source and origin of all evil, Vanir?"
Naruto nodded while scratching his whisker marks, a sweat drop falling down the side of his face.
What a dramatic fellow.
"Very well… Please… Tell the man who is known as the pervy sage…"
Naruto's eyes widened. Pervy sage!? Was Vanir talking about Jiraiya? Did his mentor get mixed in with some troubling people like the Demon King's Army?
Vanir clutched at the shinobi's pants and continued.
"Tell him… That moi agrees to use the brat he calls a pupil as material for his next novel."
After saying something rather amazing, Vanir let go of the blonde's pants and fell apart into a pile of earth.
"What do you mean!? Is that pervy old fart using me as his material for his porn!? Hey! Say something damn it!"
Naruto demanded while shaking the deceased Vanir, but the devil's body suddenly crumpled into dirt.
"Fuahahaha! Thou thought moi was affiliated with thy useless mentor, but moi was kidding! Ah, but not about the part where that man is using thou as material. Aha! Thank you for the delicious meal! Thy negative emotions are quite the delicacy! Yes, they are exquisite indeed!"
The adventurers jumped when Vanir's voice suddenly called out to them from behind, and they turned to see the arch devil cackling with glee.
"Hold on, Naruto! Let's come up with a game plan first."
Kazuma said and grabbed Naruto's arm when he was about to pounce on the devil.
"Yes yes, please calm thyself. For moi is not here to pick a fight with adventurers like thyselves. The Demon King asked moi to investigate something in this town of beginners. Ah, that and moi has some personal business with a certain useless general in Axel who only seems to become even more impoverished the harder she works."
Naruto, Kazuma, and Darkness all looked at each other upon hearing this.
A/N: Two updates in a row, let's see how long I can keep the ball rolling. :p
Moi favorite devil makes his debut in this story at last! I hope I was able to do Vanir's character justice. He is definitely one of the best characters in the series.