Last chapter of the arc.
Disclaimer: Do not own Naruto or High school DxD; except for the story concepts.
Calm before the Storm
The stadium was quite lively.
The crowd had every reason to be high-spirited. Each session of this tournament offered something unique not only to the participants but also to the audience as well. But today was a bit different. Today's session was simple but also the most anticipated one.
Today was the last day of the tournament and the theme was 'Test of Might', to see who was the strongest one out of all the participants.
No tricks, no hidden agenda. It was the usual 1 versus 1 duel until the end.
The first orb lit up…
What was not usual was the fact that each team was able to send a maximum of 3 people to participate. And since their opponents were selected randomly, there was a possibility that they would have to fight their own teammates.
Still, Arjuna could see why this rule was implemented. One, it gave an easy way out for those who did not want to participate in this. Two, it drastically reduced the amounts of battles keeping the whole test short for the participants and entertaining for the audience.
What surprised Arjuna was that Khaoss was personally managing the arena and the safety of the contestants. Whenever a duel ended, he would heal both the participants and fix the arena. And he would do it thoroughly to the point it felt like the battle did not even take place.
After seeing this, the participants were more than willing to go all out.
Arjuna looked at his opponent who was standing at the other end of the arena.
The second orb lit up…
Since Menma and Thorin were not here, Sairaorg was the only one that could give him a proper challenge.
Of course, Arjuna had no intention of using 'Agni Gandiva' or his other divine weapons. He did not use any of them in a single test or match. It was not because he was hiding them on purpose. This tournament, it was an opportunity to test his skills, knowledge, and experience. It would be quite foolish of him not to use this opportunity to its fullest.
Alas, this was not the final match. It was the semi-final. The winner of this match would advance to the final and would be facing Issei Hyoudou, wielder of 'Boosted Gear'. He was no genius but for someone who was recently introduced to the supernatural world, he made astonishing progress. Surprisingly he was able to defeat Bikou who went all out against him.
Unfortunately, he still had a long way to go before he could match his or Sairaorg's level… they who had been honing their strengths and fighting their whole life.
The third orb lit up…
Arjuna released an audible breath and took his fighting stance as the protective barrier around him disappeared.
The whole stadium became quiet instantly. As for them… none of them moved.
Arjuna and Sairaorg, they were having a staredown. And just one second into it told Arjuna that his opponent was exactly what he expected him to be.
There was an old saying – 'Eyes were the window to a soul'. It was true. He could tell what kind of opponent he was facing simply by holding their gazes. Many of the opponents he had fought in the tournament had the eyes of the 'Arrogant'. They were powerful, yes, but they did not respect their competitors. They would look at their opponents as if they were below them and meant to be there. Then there was the gaze of the 'Predator' who would only see their opponents as either a 'Prey' or another 'Predator'. Arjuna did not see any such individuals in the tournament.
Then there was the 'Warrior' who would see their opponents for who they were and would fight them with appropriate force. In this case, both Arjuna and Sairaorg were 'Warriors' and both of them knew how powerful their opponent was.
And they also knew that their fighting styles countered each other. Melee vs Range.
Arjuna felt his anticipation rising but he held his stance.
Finally, he saw it. The twitch in Sairaorg's expression.
He took out his 'Nameless Bow' and immediately fired his first arrow and followed up by enchanting his bow with 'Fire'. If he had enchanted his weapon first, then his strike would have been delayed.
The arrow hit Sairaorg on his right shoulder but it only scratched him.
"Enchantment is a must it seems."
Sairaorg on the other hand raised his left foot and kicked the ground, erecting a large pillar in front of him. And then he struck it.
Arjuna frowned. He could not grasp the technique but he could clearly see the outcome. When the pillar was destroyed it filled the arena with 'dust' limiting his field of vision. It was definitely not ordinary dust since it was affecting his 'Clairvoyance' as well.
In a single shot, he fired fifty arrows in front of him in a triangle. He then switched the element of the bow to 'Lighting'.
His battle instinct kicked in. He ducked first and then dashed to his left. All he heard was something cutting through the wind. This time, his battle instinct screamed at him. Changing the motion of his body when it was moving at an extreme speed was punishing but he pulled it off. He had to.
He felt something hit the left side of his chest, tearing out his skin and flesh, and drawing blood. Not a deep wound but nothing to scoff at.
This time, he saw what the projectile was. A rock infused with 'Touki'.
Then the dust parted ways as Sairaorg was almost upon him. The fist which was mere centimeters away from his face had enough power to knock him out.
His clothes were all torn and his body… while full of bruises was covered in a white aura. Arjuna could not help but marvel when he realized that Sairaorg took his fire arrows head-on to catch him off guard with surprise attacks.
He got the first hit but Sairaorg got the first blood.
Arjuna got the first hit but he got the first blood.
Sairaorg put the weight of his whole body behind his right fist which was already infused with condensed Touki. All those surprise attacks and maneuvers were for this single strike. It could have gotten him the victory. But even at this distance, Arjuna dodged. His movements were swift and graceful, not a single wasted motion in sight.
In a flash, Arjuna was on his right side with his lightning arrow out and aimed at his head. Completely dodging that point-blank attack while his body was in motion was out of the question. So, he went with the next best option.
He focused on his right shoulder and strengthened the Touki there. With that, he raised his right shoulder up and tilted his whole body toward the left.
The arrow hit his shoulder causing a flesh wound but fortunately it missed its aim.
The moment his body slowed down he swung his fist again but Arjuna had already created some distance between them. And when he came to a complete standstill, his opponent increased the distance to twofold.
Arjuna's longbow was simple but elegant looking which had some unknown markings on it. The markings would change colors indicating which elemental arrows he would use. Now, the color of the whole longbow changed from the wooden ebony to that of untainted gold. And the markings were now releasing a pure white aura.
Sairaorg could tell that Arjuna did not change his weapon, rather he had now infused it with his own divine energy.
While his instincts were not screaming at him to run, they were warning him to be cautious… very cautious.
After all, Arjuna had taken down Riser Phenex with a single arrow coated with his divine energy, whereas now he had completely changed his longbow by infusing it with his abundant divinity. A single arrow from it would probably even injure Ruval Phenex.
Taking a deep breath, he clenched his fists. And he recalled… his words, once again.
"You truly believe that I can be a 'Satan' with nothing but my fists."
Sairaorg had told many people about his dream. His dream was to reach the top of the Underworld to make it a place that would accept any devils regardless of their background. Most had laughed at his words. Even those who did not belittle him, they would look at him with sadness, pity, and uncertainty. It was well hidden in their gazes but he had seen it.
Only his mother and his peerages had completely and wholeheartedly believed him. And he was okay with it.
That was why he had not expected to see the admiration and respect in Menma Uzumaki's clear eyes when he had told him about his dream.
It was spur of the moment. He heard how a quick talk with Menma had helped Issei to gain new insight into his way of life. And he was not the only one. So, he had thought 'Why not'.
"Let me tell you a story," Hearing his words, Sairaorg looked at Menma who was looking back at him as if he understood his inner dilemma, "There was this world filled with people who could use many distinctive techniques. There were some whose abilities were a thing of legend. They could bend the nature to their will, bring back the dead to heed their command, heal and save people from certain death… and more. Then there was this man who had none of that. He only had his body and mind. So, he trained and pushed them to their utmost limits. Of course, you can guess what he had to go through in the beginning."
Sairaorg looked at his fist and nodded, "Harsh criticism and unfair contempt from everyone around him."
"And he proved them wrong," The grin on Menma's face was contagious enough to make Sairaorg smile, "But this is not where the story ended. There was a war. And at the end of the war, a malicious God descended. Powerful leaders of various nations went against him… and lost. Legends from the past went against him… and lost. Then this man went against him… and almost killed that God. Then, that ruthless all-powerful God declared that man as the strongest."
Sairaorg did not know what to say. And it seemed Menma was okay with it. For full two minutes, maybe more, they just stood there in silence.
Finally, he smiled, "Any tips on how I can reach that person?"
There was no way of knowing if what Menma was saying was true or just a story that he had come up with. But for some unexplainable reason, the way Menma shared the story, his tone, and his expression, as if that person really did exist.
Menma returned the smile and pointed at his own heart with his thumb, "You already trained the strongest part of your body. All I can add is that believe in yourself and never lose sight of your goal," He paused and snapped his fingers.
"Oh~ One more tip. If a road does not exist, find and create one with your own hands."
Arjuna nocked an arrow and pulled the bowstring to its limit. The arrow tip had that menacing white glow that all devils feared.
But Sairaorg did not cower in fear.
He clenched his fists and gritted his teeth as he concentrated on his Touki around his whole body. The muscles in his body stretched and bulged. He could feel his body screaming in pain… and in anticipation.
He looked straight. He felt the strain on his eyes as he looked at the light from Arjuna's arrows.
But he did not avert his gaze.
"The eldest of the Bael clan cannot use the 'Power of Destruction'? They must be ashamed of having such a son."
'Power of Destruction'.
An ability that every true Bael should have. Yes, the road to achieve that power did not exist for him. But right here, right now, he would show the world the road he had created using his own two hands.
The moment Arjuna let loose the arrow, Sairaorg moved his right leg forward and put his all behind his left fist, and struck,
"Fist of Destruction!"
An energy blast as white as the arrow left his fist and met Arjuna's attack head-on. The explosion, when these two attacks came in contact, shook the arena to the point it felt like the arena was almost done for.
Bael's 'Power of Destruction' was not the only destructive ability out there. He studied, researched, and trained to find his own 'Power of Destruction' that could surpass the Bael's.
And this was the answer he had found. His 'Touki'… he refined it, strengthened it, and pushed its limit to the max. And his life force answered his call. Sairaorg could now alter the nature of his 'Touki'. Instead of boosting his offense, defense, and speed, his 'Touki' would only focus on the intensity of his offense. It was as if each Touki-infused strike was filled with his will to destroy. Of course, he could only use it for a short duration and it would take a toll on his body.
The surprised expression on Arjuna's face was followed by a look of respect. And then came the challenging look.
Sairaorg received it with a smile of acceptance.
"Fist of Destruction!"
Every time Arjuna fired an arrow infused with divine energy, Sairaorg would strike back with his own unique ability. And then he would take a step forward and move closer to Arjuna.
"Fist of Destruction!"
But with each strike he could feel his body becoming heavier, his muscles being torn.
"Fist of Destruction!"
He did not need to look down to see the state of his body. He could actually taste the blood in the air. His vision was weakening. And it was hard even to breathe.
"Fist of Destruction!"
He could see Arjuna or at least his blurred form. He was quite close. How many steps more? Four, five?
He could not feel his arms anymore. It was…
Sairaorg frowned. Immediately he steadied his fighting stance. Was it a feint? Was it his imagination?
"Winner: Sairaorg Bael."
The moment he heard those words, his body immediately recovered. All the pains, the fatigue… gone, as if they were just an illusion.
Sairaorg looked at his clean and healed hands. He curled his fingers to make a fist and then loosened it. He did the process a few times before looking at Arjuna.
His opponent smiled at him and put his hands forward, "Before you ask."
The hands which were healthy and clean started to take a different state. The fingers and the palm of his left hand were bloody and skinless. But the right hand was in a worse condition. Two-thirds of his index finger was missing and he could see the bones of his thumb and middle finger.
"I tried to match your determination. I kept firing even when the skin peeled off, even when the blood dried out and the flesh was burnt. But in the end, my body could not keep up," He smiled wryly as he dispelled the illusion, "With my hands in this state, I could not fire an arrow anymore."
This made sense. Sairaorg knew that. But he also had a feeling, "You did not go all out," Arjuna hid it well but Sairaorg saw that his statement surprised him, Sairaorg had this extraordinary perception. It was deeply hidden but he could sense it, "You have a weapon that could have easily turned the tide for you."
It was the first time Sairaorg saw Arjuna grinning, "You truly are something."
"I will take that as a compliment."
"It was. And yes, I do have a divine weapon. But you also did not use your everything," Arjuna replied with a knowing look.
Now Sairaorg was surprised, but he could not hide it like Arjuna. He looked to the side to see his peerages waiting for him at the edge of the arena, "I have my reasons."
"So do I."
Sairaorg could not help it. He started to laugh. He took a step forward and extended his hand, "I hope we have another opportunity in the future where both of us can go all out."
"I hope as well," Arjuna shook his head.
As if a switch was flipped, the whole stadium became lively. The roars, the cheers… for Sairaorg, it was quite surreal. Yes, this was not the first time the crowds cheered for him with such vigor but he would need some time to get used to it.
"Until next time," With that Arjuna started to head toward his corner. So did he.
The moment he came close to his peerages, Kuisha, his queen, rushed toward him and started to do a checkup.
He let out a throaty chuckle.
"This is not a joke," Her serious tone made him stop chuckling, "Do you have any idea how you looked like from our perspective?"
Regulus then took a step forward, "Sairaorg-sama."
"Let's just say, we both did not use our secret weapon," Sairaorg looked at Regulus and then the rest.
"You mean to tell us…"
"And look," He gently grabbed Kuisha's shoulder with his right hand, and then flexed his left arm, "I am good as new. No side-effects."
Seeing Kuisha relaxing made him smile.
By default, Touki was the external manifestation of one's life force. But that unique approach of his, using Touki in such an extreme manner, he would also have to exchange a bit of his life force for it. It was nothing too dangerous as of yet. And since he was a devil, he had an abundant amount of life force. But that did not mean he could use it spontaneously.
"Let's go, you need to rest."
"I am not demeaning Issei, but I think you got the win in the bag, master."
"Give me a good beating for what he did to me!"
Sairaorg wanted to laugh, but his instincts flared. Something was off… wrong. He immediately took a fighting stance.
"Everyone," The voice of their principal echoed as if it was coming from all sides, "Due to some unforeseen situations, we will have to postpone the final match. If you wish to know more, please check the notice in the auditorium. Once again, we apologize for this inconvenience and hope for your understanding."
Naruto watched the participants and the audience slowly leaving the stadium from the VIP booth.
"Most do not have any suspicions."
Naruto glanced at Azazel, "There will be always some who have that extraordinary perception."
Azazel nodded and looked at the dispersing crowd, "What will you do if the devil council rejects your request for entry to the underworld?"
Naruto released a heavy sigh and looked back at the empty room.
Just a few minutes ago, an urgent message from the underworld came: 'The Underworld was being invaded by unknown monsters'.
Immediately after receiving that news, Sirzechs left for the underworld. As expected, without telling any of them the reason. Fortunately, Khaoss was extra-cautious these few days, so he was aware of the message's content and passed it to everyone in the VIP section. Needless to say, everyone excused themselves after they heard the news, except for Azazel. Surprisingly, everyone admitted that it was best not to tell the participants and the audience about the situation, or at least to break it down in a more professional manner. And if it was possible, to keep the students here on campus since they believed it was the safer option.
Naruto, of course, had sent a message to his people and also another message to Sirzechs asking if the underworld required any assistance. Because, as of now, what he learned was that only the devils were being attacked. The Grigori side and the rest living in the underworld were still safe for the time being.
But if Khaos Brigade was involved, and Naruto was quite certain they were, then that meant the underworld was not their only target. Luckily, they did not come for the academy.
"Or they are biding for time?"
As for the underworld, Naruto knew that Sirzechs and Ajuka would be able to handle the monsters, whatever they were, quite easily. But if their opponents were smarter, they knew it too.
"I want to help our Sirzechs, but I also know that it is not a wise decision to do so."
Azazel looked back at him, surprised, "Then why sent the message?"
"Giving Sirzechs a backup plan if things go south for him," Naruto replied back without a beat.
The governor of the Fallen let out a small smile, "I suppose I should…"
Naruto knew something was about to happen. His senses flared and his instincts kicked in. Even then… he was slow to react.
One moment, he was in the VIP booth of the Elemental academy, and in the next, he was in the Dimensional Gap standing beside the Great Red.
"So, he got you too."
Naruto noticed that he was not the only one there. Shiva, Amun-Ra, Yasaka, Thor, and Scáthach… basically the whole team was there. And all of them looked very surprised even though Shiva and Amun-Ra quickly got over it. While they did not say anything out loud, their gazes told Naruto to ask the question.
"Hey Great Red," Naruto smiled but before he could ask 'Why he forcedly summoned them', the fog before them cleared. And Naruto got his answer.
It was the gate to the universe 'ExE'.
Unlike before where all the crimson cogwheels and the azure trees merged together to create the perfectly balanced 'Taijitu' symbol, this time… many pieces were missing. The cogwheels and the trees were moving around, altering their shapes to fill the gaps but it was not hard to notice that, bit by bit, pieces were disappearing.
The gate to 'ExE' had been breached.
Next arc: Enter ExE
Do you know why we are called 'Beasts'? It is not a formal term because no 'Rank', no 'Title' exist that can be used to label us. It is a degrading term. Everyone views our kind as 'Abominations', 'Monsters', 'Horrors'… but they are too afraid to utter those words fearing the 'What ifs'…
Primordials of a universe are wary of us, Gods of the eld dread us, Legends of the future revere us. Why? What makes us so different…
Few quick notes,
The battle between Arjuna vs Sairaorg, it was decided through a poll on the disc*rd server. I had few ideas about the fight but decided to go with this one. Yes, the fight is simple and lacks techniques but worry not, the next arc will be full of them.
This is also the second point, I will take a break from 'The Fourth Beast' and focus on other stories. Who knows maybe I will try something new. Also, the reason I will take the break from this story is because I need to write the 'blueprint' of the full arc since there will be lots of fights, twists and some revelations… I do not want to mess it up. I want to make sure the contents of the chapter flow smoothly and the fights are as good if not more than 'Naruto vs Shiva'.
Just a side note, I know this is a dealbreaker for some, but ExE universe here will be different.
Also, if anyone is interested, here is the invite code to my disc*rd server
See you all soon…