The Pantheon of Nine

By: Finn Mertenz

Disclaimer: I DO NOT OWN NARUTO. I DO NOT CLAIM TO OWN NARUTO.


Chapter 146: Might Of A Monkey! Ibiki's Memory.

Saturday 10:57pm, October 25th 58SSP.

"I think it's clear..." Matsuri anxiously whispered.

Unlike the kunoichi from Suna that shared her name, this youthful ninja of Konoha shook. Just 10 years old, she snuck between damaged alleys and streets turned into battlefields.

"Let's go!" Hibachi stirred his classmates.

Hibari, Ami, Futaba and Unagi all traveled alongside one another, students in the midst of war. The final evacuees meant to flee, their path of retreat was cut-off and brought to ruin.

"It's pointless! We might as well just hide!" Unagi cleaned his glasses.

Flinching as soot bellowed upwards, explosions rocked adjacent streets, destroying stone brick. Ringing out from clash of jutsu, Kurenai fought Asuma with weaved performances.

Sprouting branches of intervention, their oaken hulls were promptly ridden by Yamato's feet. Sliding down this slanted lumber, a well-timed kick struck the revived kunoichi he fought.

Halted only for an instant, she recovered before gripping her attackers ankle and tossing him. Battered against the plastered surface a shingled roof, individual tiles fell loose and smacked earth.

Bereft of energy, Yoshino and Shikaku leapt between tumbling towers scoffed with dust. Unleashing a twin yet lazy barrage of ninja tools, shuriken and kunai flung through the air.

Imbalanced by fiery currents of leaf-laden wind that bellowed, orange leaves crinkled to ash. This was the sight beholden by gawking children from below, all shinobi in name but not experience.

Spotting these budding ninja but unable to reach them, Yoshino panicked as chunked stone fell. Dislodged from a broken construction of apartments, crumbs paved the path for its weight.

Stricken by these plummeting pebbles, Futaba froze and fell to both knees with raised hands. Taking hold of the back of her scalp, she winced and whined like the young child she was.

Older than Kaede but younger than Hibari, age meant nothing for the trauma she suffered. Shaking as she screamed, the looming mount above was suddenly split by an unsheathed tantō.

The wielder of this edged blade, Yugaō kicked and severed chunks of stone from her assault. Landing with the agility and finesse of a trained Anbu, armed shin-guards scraped loose soil.

As thickened strands of violet hair hung past her porcelain painted mask of a cat, wind blew. Never alone, Hayate emerged from a decrepit swirl of leaves, coughing without pause.

Carrying a traditional katana, its guard shone with a scarlet glow while its woven hilt was black. Living through the failed invasion by Orochimaru, he aimed to make Jiraiya's sacrifice count.

"All of you should've been evacuated by now..." Hayate wheezed.

Rushing through rehearsed excuses, Hibachi had great practice from years in Konoha's Academy. But each of these pre-planned assumptions were dismissed by Yugaō's overbearing shade.

Unlike the sickly boyfriend she escorted and stood beside, this kunoichi of combat wasn't meek. Taking after the brash and hotheaded nature of her former mentor, Anko Mitarashi.

"Shut up and run!" Yugaō sneered.

Leapt after scrambling to grab kids from Kurenai's fiery onslaught, her tantō was thrown out. Surging out like a spear, it carved an artificial column through torrential beams of flame.

Plucking Hibari and Futaba from embers of harm, they were carried by wind-swept speed. Wasting no time to order the infants she retrieved, they all ran to the northern edge of Konoha.

Bidding seconds for these retreating children, Hayate added strength to aid a downed Asuma. Tripped when no one notice, the timely slash of an ally freed him from Kurenai's wrath.

This was the union that shinobi working together brought, an ability to outpace the dead. More than physical traits, the rational peace of companionship was nothing but a boost to morale.

Soon encircled by Fire Style: Running Flames; chakra-infused cinders were canaled by focus. Ordered to narrow and tighten, their approaching girth scorched the ground to puddled ash.

However, flickering fire only gave length to Shikaku's shadow, a trademark for all Nara ninja. Able to surge and spread off crackling soot, twin molds took hold of his endangered partners.

Linked via the tangible connection of shadows they felt, Asuma and Hayate followed his lead. Jumping over stout geysers of cinder, their swept reach was evaded only by climbing walls.

Vertically scaling steep rumble with funneled control, friends were saved as Shikaku lunged. Having walls to climb while his allies didn't, they forcibly scaled air instead, stuck by shade.

Crawling to the tip of a rickety roof, its weight gave way as shinobi rounded its loosened top. Breaking their union, each hastily evaded the scurried path of enflamed and charred kunai.

With infrastructure brought to ruin and roads reduced to debris, ninja stood firm in defiance. Inheriting the same Will of Fire that Hiruzen and countless others passed down so long ago.


Meanwhile.

Sai, Muta and Shibi rallied as the sole opposition to Shino's insectile rampage, ruled by spiders. Chitinous insects that crawled over each other, their molds were hardened by Senjutsu.

Spewing strings of web from their engorged sacks, these adamant strands were lassoed out. Some spun around clumped ruins while others wrapped the burnt husk of varied branches.

But all of these silky threads were woven with the intent to close their vast gap in distance. Successful in these endeavors, many dozens of spiders landed on mark, surrounding prey.

With the flicked wrist of an artist, Sai's ink-laden brush was pressed and scribbled to a scroll. Painting a series of winged outlines, birds of white boiled upward from his unrolled page.

Like so many others, the struggle he participated in was far more than Konoha's fine upkeep. Instead, he fought for the shinobi and friends that he slowly developed along the troubled path.

Like the adoptive brother he lost moons ago, he was groomed under the shadow of Danzo. Root was an organization buried under earth, exposed only by Naruto's abrupt defection.

Now living an opened life for the first time, Sai's determination was like a veteran painter. Unwilling to give up or quit until the final piece of art was complete, until Konoha was safe.

Summoned birds pecked and ate at advancing lines of spiders while Muta stood with calm. Clasping palms of flesh, armored beetles promptly skittered from a heavy coat of stretched sleeves.

Shredded and devoured by the sage-like insects they confronted, Shino's swarm ran through. Too powerful to restrain, spider-lings gnawed over half of Muta's hive, gifted food in battle.

Soon severed from their surrounding, the sections they scrambled upon were uplifted below. Carried towards the sky by ten thousand beetles, Shibi employed every single larva he hosted.

Scrawling a swiftly defined bird, its girth was three times larger then Sai's past summoning. Leaping atop its back, he squinted to follow and fly after the gigantic rock that rose overhead.

No longer the serene village he called home, entire districts were rendered and crumbled. Ichiraku's Ramen, Konoha's Academy and even the western gate were fully devastated.

Suspended above all these landmarks, Sai crossed arms as stray pebbles rapidly tumbled. Breaking off from the portioned mountain above, oaken planks and singular tile fell afterwards.

Collapsing under the weighted pressure of Shino, four limbs punched the floating center. Sending cracks and steep ravines throughout the rising streets he rose, one chunk became five.

Losing the momentum they once held, thousands of beetles were crushed by broken rock. Bereft of moonlight as these approaching mounds of cement fell, Shibi stood atop disheveled roofs.

Breaking like a blanket of concrete, hail the size of boulders rained down like a heavy drizzle. Traveling between these falling strips of terrain, Muta lunged and jumped with tense feet.

Briefly relieved of harm, he accidently stepped near a hidden trap of a dozen ravenous spiders. Consumed and cocooned by a hundred layers of web in the timed span of an instant.

Diving towards this makeshift prison on the back of kanji-painted bird, Sai directed its beak. Colliding with its woven thread, his summoned creature snapped under weighted contortion.

This was the troubled outcome of ordinary ninja against a revitalized sage from the other side. Beyond wounds, exhaustion or his natural limit of chakra, Shino was a one man army.

Swinging three clenched fist, the first two missed while the final made its crushing blow. Intended for Sai, Muta became the target after charging between their endangered fray of death.

Smashed and slain by a sole jab of Senjutsu, this lifeless Aburame carcass cascaded back. Blindsided by these limp limbs, Sai's grip on his paint brush became robbed and disarmed.

Imbalanced and unable to stand, the flicking wings of beetles shrouded his slim crop-top. Revealing and exposed, crawling insectile ligaments scaled and clung to naked pale flesh.

Rescued from a chaotic assault of six surging hands, Shino's missed blows cratered earth. Retrieved to the safe radius of Shibi, beetles also brought the dripping outline of a brush.

Wasting no time after recovery, Sai scribbled and scrubbed a myriad of kanji onto his scroll. Exuding a protrusive bulge, creatures were birthed from the shape of words, molded by chakra.

"Sealing Jutsu: Crouched Tiger Bullet!" Sai echoed.

Tossing his unsealed scroll aloft, hands promptly pressed into the ram seal in front of it. Triggering the roar of the behemoth he called forth, inked claws dug and sundered destitute soil.

Sinking fangs and all that carried him, this conjured predator bore down upon Shino's neck. Yanked and unbalanced by this withered giant from a written forest, Shino stumbled.

Recovering stability due to his allotted arms, two took hold of the ground while others spread. Breaking his lack of procedure, defeat still came close as scrapped the corner of Sai's scroll.

As Muta died a death worthy of shinobi, Shibi struggled with Sai to contained his own child. Forcing son to kill mother and fathers to confront their sons, Naruto would stop at nothing.


Meanwhile.

Udon, Moegi and many others had reached the safety of Konoha's secured bunkers below. But Konohamaru and the friends he aided held no such luxury, confronted by an undead Kiba.

Akamaru also barked and gnawed with inflexible teeth, soon shifting tones in the moonlight. Joined by Kiba with clasped hands, seals were hastily weaved as nails sharpened and grew.

"Inuzuka Style: Man-Beast Combination!" Kiba roared like a canine.

Sprouting whiskered and vertically slanted eyes similar to Naruto, their tone was corrupted. Tainted and turned off color by Edo Tensei, a repulsive and forbidden jutsu that manipulated souls.

Briefly obscured by puffs of smoke, bestial claws reached out with the girth of a human. A mirage meant to trick and deceive, because the creature that emerged was far more ravenous.

Standing tall on hind legs, mattered clumps of brown fur unevenly jutted from course skin. Mixing fur, flesh and will into one, the two personalities once present were now isolated.

Looming at the height of a 6ft tall man, its jagged snout was dampened by repeated growls. Frontal limbs hung forth like weighted cranes, honed and brought to a precise point to shred.

Curling curved fangs, dog and man gave birth to an advanced wolf, emboldened by the moon. With each ray that zoomed by overhead, canine muscles throbbed and swelled in size.

Werewolf, that was the title Konohamaru labeled upon the foreign beast he met in battle. Spending too much time in comics and cheaply made horror movies, before Hiruzen's death.

Now that past preconception built baring as a rabid howl rang throughout desolate streets. Quaking the pulverized path beneath, the strange beast in front charged with saliva dripping.

Unwilling to watch and wait, Menma and Fuki rallied while Ebisu bled from crippling scars. Gathered beside their threatened teammate, three students of Jiraiya stood side-by-side in defiance.

The eldest pupil threw bell-tied kunai with amplified sound as others weaved hand seals. Earth Style: Dark Swamp; and Mud Wall were mixed like the close nature of their young casters.

Chakra-infused sludge then gave way for ornately chiseled brick to rise like stalwart barriers. Trained and taught by the fabled Toad Sage of Mount Myōboku, everything led to this moment.

A chance to stop the destruction of the home they loved, and people they lived alongside. This gave congealed muck the density to loosely ensnare skittering and clawed paws.

Encircling over half of this summoned pond, a steep wall the height of a two story house sat. Engraved with honorific quotes and depictions of toads, each harkening back to Jiraiya.

They were no longer innocent or unexperienced children, a privilege stolen from them long ago. After losing so much and seeing the death of so many, it was impossible to stay the same.

That's why Konohamaru climbed and leapt over his makeshift barricade, kicking his foe's snout. Kiba or Akamaru? Neither of them held enough conscious sway for either to be relevant.

"I don't care how big you get, Poodles!" Konohamaru shot out a new name.

Recoiling from the hurled swipe he unleashed, honed nails spliced the air he sparsely occupied. Splitting such powerful torrents of wind that the wall beneath abruptly splintered.

Landing sideways upon the same stone veil he created, chakra control allowed him to stand still. Taking aback by recognition, the sight of laden blades silently decorated the beast he battled.

Thrown without sound, Menma's past assault successfully launched true without anyone knowing. Even the werewolf they impaled was oblivious to their presence, growling aloud.

Sweeping claws with rabid desire, jingling bells paved the path it traveled, jostling metallic edges. Catching one of these paws, Menma coughed under its weighted confrontation.

Picked up and tossed by this bestial behemoth, blond strands fell as talons severed their roots. Then settled sludge was shaken from fur as Poodles shook sideways to clean himself.

Standing alone but together in opposition, Fuki and Konohamaru grabbed hands to lunge as one. Attaching palms, they gained the versatility to slide and roll past flung razors that followed.

Before puberty or their first kiss, they still understood the burning will to protect those they loved. Well-timed evasion let them sidestep a stark slash of mattered fur and edged nails.

Glowing with an aura of emerald in the midst of this endangering fray, Fuki's necklace radiated. One of the last Senju to exist, her life was rather meek and obscured until recently.

Moved to the Land of Sound decades ago by aged ancestors, the truth of her bloodline was hidden. At least, until Jiraiya stumbled upon her with the aid of a certain eccentric boy.

Clueless, the truth of her forgotten heritage went unspoken, realized only by Jiraiya and Tsunade. That's why she was swatted aside by furred forearms, caused to bleed as wounds bloomed.

Losing grip on the friend she cherished, Konohamaru briefly parted as claws scraped broken brick. Pressed into closed-combat Taijutsu, months of training was all that kept him alive.

Catching nailed talons that sliced, underaged hands scrambled to hold back such vast pressure. Lost and misplaced, one paw managed to surge past and batter his youthful face.

Stricken by harm, a trio of marks sprawled across Konohamaru's left cheek before smacking trash. Knocking over stray and dented tins of aluminum, greater garbage was dumped.

Suffering without delay, he scrambled from pointed nails as Poodles plunged them down deep. Rolling sideways over dislodged portions and pebbles, a swift jump saved him from rocks.

Barely standing but still close to earth, he freely plucked a burnt kunai from disheveled soil. Utilized to parry and deflect, steel was matched by hardened and chakra-infused keratin.

Neither foe was willing or capable of backing down, driven onward by forces beyond them. If the question could be asked of Kiba and Akamaru, they long since lost the desire to fight.

Seeking only to peacefully pass to the other side, eternal rest was denied for an excuse to fight. This urge to uphold even took control of Konohamaru, gifted the nature to stand like Hiruzen.

With trembling feet as he dashed, a momentary break in combat poured more fuel onto his will. A child pitted against the beast from a fairy-tail, everyone who watched forgot his age.

This renown prestige radiated from the crackling Will of Fire that burned inside, earned by birth. Rightly inherited not just from his father or grandfather, but the villagers that surrounded him.

Teuchi, Ayame, Hibari, Futaba and countless others, citizens and companions that brought him joy. That's why this heir to the 3rd Hokage refused to budge from the limp ninja he defended.

To Konohamaru, having already lost so many, the idea of losing one more was too much to bare. Something that would never be allowed to pass, unless his own life was lost in battle.

Because of this, eyes remained honed as the kunai he wielded snapped under bestial claws. Pressing palms as he crouched under harm, fingers danced through seals while chakra swelled.

Worthy of his Chunin rank and the family name he bore, Fire Style: Flame Screen Gale spread. Spiraling out from his mouth like a cocoon of incinerated soot, smoke and flickering fire.

Until you protect someone precious to you, your true strength will never emerge. Hiruzen's memory boomed.

Paving the path ahead, a flaming and horizontal tornado took shape, swirling sideways. Bereft of visible light, the eye of this storm was veiled by thickened ash that obscured all.

Scorching stone to glass and metal to ooze, the form of Poodles was its sole opposition. Werewolf or not, if this combination of man and beast was living, it surely would've died.

But it was a summoned bundle of souls driven on by exterior will, the mental command of Naruto. Prevented from death or decay, the singular injury were clumped flakes that fell off.

Recovering in an instant, a wolf-like roar echoed from the rabid fangs of a naked and bared snout. Cranked shut as a miasma of grey neared, human flesh became his meal as adjacent land burnt.

Dispelling nearby soot with the wedged weight of such jaws, Konohamaru makeshift mist dissolved. Exposing his pierced wrist and the gushing blood that poured from its fresh wound.

Thrown like the youngster he was, Menma strained to catch him, promptly collapsing under weight. "Honorable Konohamaru!" Ebisu cried out, too scarred and exsanguinated to stand.

No shortcuts, eh? Then after we finish with research... WE'LL GO TRAIN! Jiraiya's own voice rang.

Audible only through mind and faith, the sensei he cherished and the grandfather he loved were gone. Both causalities of ongoing conflicts that ravaged the entirety of the shinobi world.

None could escape it, no one could deny it and everyone was forever deformed by its after-effects. Even Konohamaru; a 6 year old child was left with no option but to fight for his loved ones.

"I employ you to run while you still can! Don't throw you life away!" Ebisu spewed.

More than a teacher, Ebisu was also a guardian to the next generation, a steward that raised them. However, no aid could be brought in the face of death, confronted by too much might.

Until Naruto, this was the outlook that everyone gave to the grandson of the fabled 3rd Hokage. Coddling him with an overbearing nature, keeping him from harm and doubting his skill.

And now, this constant lack of belief led to a single motif of expression upon Konohamaru's face. Swiping twin fingers against his bloodied wrist, he scuffled onto knees as Poodles howled.

Raged, cruel and animalistic, hind legs lunged as frontal talons carved and cut into loosen soil. Stranded like a rigid anchor, the heir to Hiruzen gritted teeth before hunching forth.

"Summoning Jutsu!" Words carried weight of life or death.

Dispersing jostled and stationary soot from precast techniques, Poodles continued ahead. Halted solely by the muscular and white-furred forearm of a royal ape, clung to by smoke.

Breaking the trademark puff that most Fūinjutsu employed, Enma peered forth with an stern brow. The ruling Monkey King, his lineage was derived and related to Son Gokū himself.

More demon than monkey, that didn't dissuade the Konoha headband and tiger-furred jacket he wore. Aged yet veteran, worn but weary, the death of Hiruzen held no effect on his reflexes.

Crushing the neck of Konohamaru's would-be killer, he tossed its flaked carcass aside with ease. Swiftly amazed by the speed of its recovery before noticing the unique traits of Edo Tensei.

"You finally managed to summon me? Then let's do this, Sarutobi!" Enma glared over his furred shoulder.

Beating bared knuckles against chest, his weakened caster gave no delay before standing tall. Earning the birth name gifted to him and the clan honor he bore, Konohamaru refused to give up.


Meanwhile.

Chaotic swales of sea and thrashing tsunami's collided amongst one another outside Kiri's shore. Enshrined in fate that would shape the world, Ao, Chōjūrō, Kotetsu, Izumo and Bekkō stood.

Ibiki had fallen and sunk beneath spraying waves of a moonlit ocean, prodding the abyss below. But instead of breaking or depressing his young brother, this act only strengthened him.

Idate, the mention of his name gave many people a distinct reaction and trailing train of thought. Traitor to some, coward to others but a hero and Daimyō in the nearby Land of Tea.

No longer some pride-blinded child that smugly bragged about becoming shinobi, he knew better. Finally reaching the level of understanding that his brother once scolded him to achieve.

A Morino, that was the clan he was born into, now the last living member of a family lost to conflict. Determined to show the value of his clan, static chain links of lightning swarmed him.

Wielding the Sword of the Thunder God, its electric edge was wielded by Tobirama's prowess long ago. Passed throughout the ages, it now nestled inside stout and stalwart hands.

Swung out in a lightning-coated slash, writhing tentacles from below were sizzled and cut at sea level. Nothing that couldn't be replaced, four more took the place of two in an instant.

Gyūki then broke the tranquil surface with oxen horns, ape muscles and the tails of a violet octopus. The dreaded eight tails, a bestial demon so renown that even the fiercest of ninja hid.

Lost tails once replaced were soon fueled by funneling chakra that healed every single wound. Recuperating from all damage, tentacles rose to the sky before crashing with weight.

Dividing thickened nighttime air, a ravine occupied the uneven ocean as tails were brought down. Secluded close to land but stuck in the Narrow Strait, depths below were unmeasurable.

Once faced against Suigetsu, him and the three legendary blades he carried became lost beneath. Sunken and drowned to layers beyond sunlight, Shibuki, Kabutowari and Nuibari faded.

Giving way for the demonic beast he contained, his transformation as a perfect Jinchūriki a fierce. With only one intact horn atop his scalp, its refined tip was brought to bare against sea.

An unwieldy mess of sprayed salty droplets, tangible chakra and arcs of lightning arranged after. Resembling a well-painted picture, numbered ninja scaled and rode waves to survive.

Whipped tentacles also trailed their movement, splitting and cleaving steep tsunami's into three. Exuding chakra comparable to mist with faint layers of violet and a smell from the sea.

The Jonin in front of these flailing tails scurried to dodge while Chunin were left below its path. Noticing the speed and pressure of this advance, Bekkō grinded teeth with harsh realization.

Directing stability to his feet as this veteran of war stood firm, Izumo and Kotetsu were shoved. Pushed aside to find safety as their elder teammate made the ultimate sacrifice.

Crushed and plunged deep into abyssal depths, Bekkō knew his time of service had come to end. Another causality onto a list of names too long to count or detail, the price of battle.

And this was the understanding that Idate came to learn after Ibiki's passing, the pain of conflict. Because this was far beyond some average C-rank escort mission, this was bloodied war.

No mistake could be made, nothing would be paused in face of total annihilation against demons. Singeing droplets of ocean water that surged past him, chakra-infused static shot forth.

Carving an artificial tunnel with the swipe of his sacred blade, it led to Gyūki's rampaging torso. Thrashing about, swept forearms unleashed torrential tidal waves with extreme ease.

The target for one of these rushing layers, Idate's precast tunnel managed to sizzle a clear path. Allowed to split and dash through its opened base as it promptly collapsed behind him.

Meeting a second and third wave taller than the last, none held sway on the Daimyō they aimed. Severing these approaching mounds in two beneath a vertical slash from his blade.

Radiating chains of lightning that sung and singed beside water from below, they traversed out. Bisecting currents of salted liquid with sheer magnitudes of electric might and zaps.

Gifted another opportunity to charge through the opening he created, Idate swiftly took chance. Diving to confront the hulked mass of Gyūki, now a mere stones throw from harm.

Maneuvering over the horizontal slash of two swept tentacles, they were met instead by Chōjūrō. Retaining one half of his fabled Hiramekarei blade, its ethereal shape was molded to a shield.

Straining to hold this onslaught in place, shinobi soles flung back across the oceans shifting surface. But balance remained tight as he thought of the damaged nation he loved.

Eventually aided by chakra-engulfed palms, Ao used the Byakugan eye he possessed to splice tails. Able to cut through, victory was shortened as they recuperated all injuries instantly.

Squirting ink from freshly healed wounds, they blinded Ao's true pupil but not his Hyuga one. Given the chance to evade before saving Chōjūrō from wiggled tentacles that rose below.

Dressed for war instead of guard duty, Izumo tensely gripped the twin kunai blades on his back. Quickly plucked from the thin sliver of leather that held them before gifting one to Kotetsu.

Similar to the standard tool for most ninja, it was enlarged three times with only one sharp edge. The other side was dull and blunt with a slight degree of curved angles that tilted.

These were weapons utilized by Chunin to stand against one of the most powerful demons to exist. Promptly chipped and nearly broken after several parried blocks from whipped tails.

No matter the circumstances that abound, an unspoken agreement was reached between shinobi. All present felt no desire to enhance and protect just their own homes, but others as well.

This had never before occurred throughout the history of the ninja world, a continent-wide union. A pivotal point when shinobi from Konoha put all past grudges aside to stand with Kiri.

Everywhere this reality was forced into effect, given no other option against Naruto's Akatsuki. If rivaling powers didn't join together as one, they would all fall to demonic tyranny.

But these minor details were irrelevant to Idate as he placed a bet with his life on the line of war. Lunging as he fell from the high altitude he reached, the 5th Daimyo of Dega screamed.

Holding no fear or dread, the sole emotion that consumed him was pride for his brother and clan. With this drive close to heart, the Sword of the Thunder God cleaved a path to his goal.

Baring his singular horn that remained intact, Gyūki brought its tip against Idate's static advance. Emanating bedazzled light that rang outward, loose sprays of water dissolved below.

Evolving to the static blue girth of a vast crater, the shinobi that gawked proceeded to charge in. Far beyond any concern for their own safety, Kotetsu, Izumo, Ao and Chōjūrō ran forward.

Parting light that continued to shine, two kunai blades were spun like windmills via their hilts. Also, a flawless barrage of Taijutsu managed to disperse what sources of static approached.

The final job fell upon Chōjūrō as he mentally ordered Hiramekarei to change its chakra mass. Morphing from shield to scythe, its original blade remained clearly visible, but covered by azure.

Swinging this stretched length to expose what laid beyond, the combat of a Kage was exposed. But instead of a shinobi it was only Idate, draped in royal garbs now singed and zapped.

An adopted samurai and Daimyō in title, in reality, his true worth was that of a stalwart hero. Losing everything but still willing to put what little he had left at risk, worthy of being ninja.

Mostly safe from his past output of collision, Idate was still weary with panting breaths for air. Especially as the cracked Sword of the Thunder God now sluggishly hung in his right hand.

But the price of this permanent damage was earned, successfully breaking off Gyūki's last horn. Inflicting a wound the same magnitude as the 3rd Raikage, he didn't even pause to marvel.

Leaping forth, his scurried advancement became paired along Kotetsu, Izumo, Ao and Chōjūrō. Each jumping between a sporadic host of eight tentacles that wildly waved in all directions.

Losing reserve and stability with the loss of his horn, Gyūki flailed as two tentacles were cut. Flinging clenched knuckles in retaliation, their muscular girth clashed against Kotetsu.

Stricken by this power from a demon, he became another name added to the long list of dead. Torpedoed deep below the sea by overwhelming pressure that shot him far from eyesight.

Losing resolve for but a moment, Izumo's assault pressed forth with his kunai-shaped sword. Thrusting the tip into Gyūki's husk, Ao followed suit by jabbing it with flat and aimed palms.

As another tail fell to this combined onslaught, once eight now shrunk to five, wailing aloud. No longer flesh, mass outlines turned spiritual in appearance, made from ancient chakra.

Still, the unwieldly power of this primordial beast was almost too great to contain or defeat. Parried with the crushing blow of a weighted fist, Chōjūrō's ethereal scythe bore its wild brunt.

Unbroken and steadfast, his balance didn't share this fortune, flung back over a hundred feet. Reaching estranged beaches with wind knocked from his lungs, paving the path to Kiri.

Ao himself strained to catch a transparent fist of purple, narrowly struggling to stay afloat. Observing the myriad of tentacles that zoomed around him, his singular Byakugan saw all.

Despite the eyepatch that covered this sight of vision, enlarged veins protruded alongside. Retaining visual prowess skill even the Sharingan or Rinnegan, his vision pierced solid objects.

Sidestepping a whipped tail, this Jonin of Kiri snagged its tip before splicing its base in half. Reducing Gyūki's count to four, Ao's hasted blow sadly left him open to an inked counter attack.

Swatted aside, the ocean's surface splashed and droplets of salty seawater spat as he skid. Impaled by stray planks of broken oak that float, he helpless watched as Idate and Izumo fought.

Struck and gutted by this combination of ninja, Gyūki's ethereal silhouette was the only victim. Bleeding visible violet instead of gore or ink, the pressure that leaked became too much.

Blown back by this bellowing radiation from inflicted interference, Izumo's headband was lost. He himself was thrown over sprinkled crumbs of wetted debris, remnants from the vessel he rode.

Falling unconscious on a doused piece of puffed driftwood, he left Idate alone against Gyūki. Safeguarded by the cracked edge of his electric blade, its girth was raised to block tails.

Held stationary until spry tentacles sought to lunge and ensnare him from the watery below. Evading these creeping traps with the same vigor that kept him alive, Dega's Daimyō leapt.

Throwing the sharpened tip of his sacred blade like a plummeting slash, he blotted the moon. Blotting the moon as he rose high, the razor-like tip of his sacred yet broken blade was bared.

Cleaving a straight path through three ghostly tails of purple, the cost of this attack sparkled. Surging like a static charge of pint up lightning that rippled from an overpitched generator.

Enveloping the caster that wielded them and the fading demon they targeted in a veil of azure. As bright and sizzled as gleaming jewels removed from the cold crusted soil of earth.

Soon the center of a growing orb that electrified the watery battlefield below, everything faded. Everything except for Idate's pride in friends, family and country, that remained strong.

After all, if Ibiki could give his life without any hesitation, could his brother not do the same? If you asked Ao in the past he would've said no, but after watching this climax, the answer was yes.