A/N: Hey all, sorry for the long delay with this chapter. Suffice to say life has been all over the show for me lately. This is the last of 'training' set up for the Asia arc so in a chapter or two we'll be moving on to the main storyline.
In future to try and speed up chapter releases I will release shorter chapters (not terrible shorter, just around 11K words as opposed to the 15K+ I usually aim for). Here's hoping you enjoy this chapter.
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters in the story, except the ones I do
Chapter 4: The Duties of the Devils
Where Magic is learnt and Precious Assets are Exposed
"Damn it," Naruto cursed as he leaned against a ruined pillar, breathing heavily. Around his outstretched hand, a small glowing ring rotated erratically, its size constantly changing as if being pulled apart by unseen hands. Biting his lip, the blonde strained his limited magical control to reduce the ring to a more stable configuration, barely wider than his outstretched palm, sweat beading down his brow as he fought against the unstable magical construct, two clones stood either side of him assisting.
According to Tsubaki, until the magical ring had runes engraved into it, it would be highly unstable and if he were to accidentally lose control, or release the magical energy prematurely, rather than a spell he would be rewarded with a powerful explosion, just like the ones he had suffered when trying to successfully create the magical ring in the first place.
While he waited for the clones to help the 'glyph' to stabilise, he mentally recapped what Tsubaki had explained to him. The raw magical construct he was forming was called an 'unsaturated glyph'. In order to make it into a spell he had to engrave runes into it, thus forming a 'saturated glyph' which was a stable construct. He could then create another unsaturated glyph and repeat, but the number of runes required to stabilise a glyph grew exponentially larger, requiring more magical control and energy, as well as the time to create said glyphs, but the more glyphs the more powerful the spell. Apparently, a competent mage should be able to cast up to a three-glyph spell. Six was the sign of an excellent mage and anything above that was either a multi-mage effort or required a seriously powerful mage, of which there were barely any that Tsubaki knew of besides Gabriel of the Seraphs.
The name Gabriel had caused him to remember the strange woman who had claimed responsibility for his father's death. With no way of knowing if they were the same person, or if her claims were even true, he decided against dwelling on such thoughts until he could speak to Jiraiya. Until then he had to maintain this highly explosive, unstable magical ring that even if he wanted to, he couldn't stabilise properly.
As it stood, Naruto didn't know how to make any runes to 'saturate' the Glyph, but Tsubaki had promised to teach him a few so he could start practicing magic, which he couldn't help but feel giddy about. Apparently the usual practice was to spend two weeks learning to control the unstable form before passing on the knowledge of runes, but given his time constraints, Tsubaki had decided on a more… challenging training session, namely her trying her damnedest to make Naruto lose control of the ring via launching attacks at him, forcing him to both evade and not let the unstable spell ring detonate.
Satisfied at the (relatively) stable appearance of the unfilled glyph around his right hand, Naruto peered from behind the rubble, eyes scanning for any signs of the vice president's current location. As if on a timer, he spotted distant red glows and burst from his hiding place as several small but white-hot fireballs struck the pillar and exploded, sending shards of pillar and clouds of dust into the air, as well as destroying one of the two clones that had been supporting him.
As he dashed to his new hiding place, the dust got in his lungs and he coughed, the unstable glyph warping wildly as his concentration dropped but he quickly got the glyph under control with the assistance of his remaining clone, just in time to duck under a few blasts of high pressure water that would have knocked him flat on his back if they had connected. His last clone was not so lucky and was torn apart without mercy, yet Naruto got a flicker in his mind of the direction the spell had come from.
"That's enough." Tsubaki's voice suddenly called, a slight hint of satisfaction on her voice as she stepped from a pillar much closer to Naruto than the spells had come from.
"What?" Naruto glanced between her and the spot he had been attacked from, "Can you teleport or something?"
"Or something yes," Tsubaki adjusted her glasses, her lips twitching in amusement at Naruto's exasperated expression. "You can discharge the glyph now, remember do it carefully or else you could…"
"Yeah, yeah, I know," Naruto replied flippantly as he slowly allowed the glyph to leak energy until it faded away to nothing.
"Very good," Tsubaki frowned.
"Did I do something wrong?"
"No…" Tsubaki shook her head. It was… unusual how fast Naruto seemed to be grasping concepts, almost as if he wasn't the complete novice he was claiming to be, yet Sitri had proven he wasn't a threat thanks to the pearls of Veritas. Maybe it was a side effect of him training with his clones. She decided to address her concerns later and instead gestured to the centre of the room. "As promised, I shall now pass on the knowledge of some runes. Now a rune is a command to raw magical energy, to get it to act in a specific manner. There are several types of Glyph but for the time being, I will teach you an element and a few command runes."
"So I'll be able to use magic?" Naruto grinned.
"Yes… Although it will take a lot of training to be able to use it properly. Engraving runes into a Glyph is a difficult task, as not only are you engraving your will into pure magical energy, but you must keep said magical energy stable all the time. I am reasonably certain that you will be able to keep the glyph stable judging by your performance in my training session."
"Awesome," Despite the seriousness of his task, Naruto couldn't help grinning like a little kid. If Tsubaki noticed this, she decided not to comment.
"Now runes are unique to each individual, as they are essentially a sign of your soul enforcing its will. In order to learn a rune, you have to experience it."
"What?" Naruto titled his head.
"Usually this is done by finding a magical ley line, an area where natural magic builds up, and absorbing the magical energy. Of course, with raw magic there is no guarantee what sort of runes you will awaken in yourself, so this is… not ideal."
"I kinda need to get strong fast and relying on a magical Gacha doesn't seem like a good way to get stronger."
"Indeed." Tsubaki reached into her uniform and pulled out a small scroll, "Fortunately, it is possible to 'write' runes onto specially prepared scrolls which can transfer the knowledge of runes without finding a ley line and relying on random chance."
Naruto took the offered scroll and unravelled it, revealing a blank page but before he could comment he felt his entire body overtaken by an intense heat, yet didn't feel any pain or smell any burning. For a moment, he was fire. He saw the cries of suffering but also the salvation of the poor from the icy cold that threatened them. He saw the raw destruction and the burning of an open wound to seal it and suddenly he was back with Tsubaki, the strange visions passed before he had time to fully understand what had happened. The scroll in his hands crumbled away into dust until not a single trace remained. "What… I…"
"It is an unusual experience." Tsubaki smiled as she looked at Naruto's dumbstruck expression. "The runes contain the very essence of their purpose. In order to manipulate magic into fire, you must understand just what Fire is. It is more than just some element, it is the essence of destruction and cleansing, of nurturing and punishing. The elements are not as simple as one might originally envision; they are life."
"This scroll contains the 'Create' Rune. Once you have absorbed this one, I shall explain the basics of spell casting and when I am satisfied, I will instruct you in more runes."
"Let's do this," Naruto nodded as he accepted this scroll and again he felt a strange sensation overtake him and he saw a blacksmith hammering at a red hot iron bar, a craftsman carefully chiselling away at a pillar of marble, giving purpose beyond its initial design, he saw Tsubaki's naked form glistening with sweat as they reached their combined climax, Tsubaki's eyes glistening as together they created a new life within her and suddenly he snapped back.
"Is everything alright?" Tsubaki asked.
"Y-y-yes. Fine! Perfectly fine!" Naruto shook his head furiously, unable to shake the image of Tsubaki's lust laden eyes. "Er… Do we see things that have actually happened or will happen or something?"
"No, just a visual representation of what the Rune you learned meant. They are little more than hallucinations based on your own personal understanding. Why?"
"No reason," Naruto coughed awkwardly. He wasn't entirely sure how Tsubaki would take 'I envisioned getting you pregnant' and he did need her help to save Asia.
"Well then, time to cast a spell." Tsubaki smiled. "First form the ring as you have been doing."
"Right," Naruto held out his arm and allowed the energy to materialise. It took him a few seconds before the vice president nodded in satisfaction.
"Now remember the sensation of creating and engrave your feelings into the ring." Tsubaki instructed.
"Er…" Naruto gulped as he recalled the… intensity of the visions of creation, but judging by the approving nod from his instructor, she didn't notice and the glyph started to change, the ring seeming to solidify in appearance and several repeating runes appeared on it.
"Now remember the fire."
More runes appeared and suddenly the ring juddered, as if a sudden vibration passed through it and the glyph completed itself.
"Impressive. I see why Sona-sama has interest in you now. If this truly is your first-time casting, the quality of your spell is considerably better than I would have expected. Of course, the total casting time was around half a minute, and this is a very basic spell, so you aren't combat ready yet, but you are making strides to that goal. Now simply release the glyph to cast the spell. Don't worry this is stable so it won't just explode."
As soon as Naruto stopped enforcing control over the magical construct, it collapsed in on itself, forming a white-hot dot before suddenly transforming into a white-hot flame that flickered out of existence in less than a second.
"Hehehehe!" Naruto couldn't help but laugh excitedly. "Magic… I can actually use magic!"
"Yes, that is…"
"This is great! I can really do it!" Naruto grabbed Tsubaki's hands and danced around, the vice president blushing wildly. "I'm gonna save Asia! Please teach me some more sensei!"
"W-well I suppose if you can get your casting time halved, I might teach you some more runes but…" Before she could continue Naruto had released her and started conjuring up another glyph as well as a few clones to assist him. She shook her head as she watched him fondly.
If nothing else, he wasn't lacking in enthusiasm, although after an hour of casting the same spell, he was starting to look worse for wear so Tsubaki decided to call it a day, but not before bestowing him with the knowledge of water so he could train without burning down his house.
"Boost!" Issei grit her teeth as she narrowly dodged under the whip of lightning that slashed the tree behind her in half. Had that hit her, she would have been out of commission for a day or so. She was kinda glad that they were 'sparring' in a simulated training area, as more than a few trees had been felled by the arcane assault the spunky girl was trying to weather.
"You'll have to be faster than that~" A cheery voice declared, sending shivers down Issei's spine as she realised that Akeno was undeniably a sadist. The two of them were sparring (well Akeno was doing her best to shorten Issei's lifespan) as a final test before Rias gave her the all clear to join Kiba and Koneko on their rogue devil hunt.
"Remember!" Rias called out from the side lines, where she and the rest of her peerage were stood watching with varying degrees of interest, "Your Sacred Gear allows you to 'Boost' every ten seconds, but your body still has a physical limit. If you push yourself too hard you will only end up damaging yourself."
"R-right!" Issei yelped as Akeno's whip of crackling electricity suddenly changed its path, catching her off guard as the magical attack skimmed her hair, filling her nose with the smell of singed hair. She did a mental count of how many boosts she had used, reckoning the count was around three. Theoretically that would mean she was 8 times more powerful than usual, yet it was still taking everything she had to dodge the Queen piece's almost lazy attacks. Just how big was the gap between herself and Akeno, Issei found herself wondering.
"Let's try a second whip, shall we?" Akeno cheerfully called out.
"W-wait a second!"
"Your enemies won't wait until you are ready," Akeno's voice held not an iota of sympathy as she summoned a second whip of energy and began furiously lashing out with both. Each impact caused a small explosion and Issei found herself getting peppered by chunks of tree and dirt as she narrowly evaded the sadistic devil's attacks.
"Boost!" Issei felt a definite strain on her body as she activated her fourth successive boost. The very earth below her feet exploded as she launched herself away from Akeno, trying to get out of the range of her spells, although it appeared that their range was freely manipulated by her opponent.
Mentally counting down until she could use her last boost, she had a flash of inspiration. She knew her physical limit of Boosts was five, leaving her with one last boost and after watching the whips of lightning for some time, Issei was fairly certain that up close, Akeno would be unable to effectively defend herself with the mid to long range spell. If she timed everything perfectly, she would be able to close the distance and hopefully end the fight.
"She's going to do something stupid," Koneko remarked.
"Oh?" Kiba glanced at the short girl. "What makes you say that?"
"Her eyes," Rias smiled softly. "They have a spark as if she has thought of something."
"I see," Kiba glanced at Issei. "Shall I prepare the first aid kit?"
"It… would probably be wise," Rias sighed.
Meanwhile Akeno's relentless assault showed no sign of stopping. Unlike Rias and the others who were watching the fight through a magical screen, she couldn't see her opponent's eyes and was mostly unaware of what was going through Issei's mind.
'Maybe I should throw some more long-range spells at her.' Akeno smiled inwardly. 'She is quite good at dodging my whips. Come to think of it, her final boost should be coming up soon. Desperation can make people do some foolish things. I'd best be careful not to accidentally kill her. Dying once was probably enough for her.'
"Alright!" Issei grinned as she rolled under the whips. "BOOST!" Each step flung her towards Akeno, who was surprised by the sudden change in strategy, but was far too experienced to let this affect her composure.
Knowing her whips had been extended too much to be used against the rapidly approaching Issei, she cancelled the spell and pointed two fingers at Issei. "[Lightning Lance]." A small orb of lightning formed before launching itself at Issei in a long narrow beam of arcane electricity. The speed of the attack was such that Issei was unable to properly respond, but she did manage to avoid being neutralised completely, although as the attack struck her left arm it went limp as the electric signals in it were messed up by the arcane energies now coursing through it. 'She is still moving? The pain should at least give her pause but to continue her charge regardless… This girl is fun~'
"It's not over yet!" Issei cleared the last few feet and cocked her right fist, only for a glowing glyph to appear on the floor beneath her feet. "Eh?"
"[Thor's Glyph]." Akeno whispered as a burst of electricity surged upwards from the glyph. "A trap glyph I designed to stun anyone who wants to get up close and personal. That lets me play with them at my…"
"RARGH!" Struggling against her own muscles, Issei lashed out with a desperate slash, catching Akeno by surprise. The attack should have fallen short but Akeno noticed a ghostly dragon claw surround Issei's hand that extended her range and, taken by surprise by this new ability, she was left unable to dodge as the weak magical slash cut through her clothes and bra, causing them to fall to the floor in fragments and expose her impressive bust to all.
Issei was almost sure she heard a deep voice comment 'Nice'as she fell to the floor, the sight of the wonderful breasts before her. The instant before she hit the ground, she wondered if she had a chance to grow that big but the strange thought was knocked out of her head as she hit the floor.
"Oh my?" Akeno was genuinely surprised as her trap glyph finally took effect and the girl fell to the floor twitching. "Being able to resist that spell is quite impressive… But now I have you at my mercy~"
"That's enough Akeno." Rias appeared next to the downed Issei, who was twitching periodically. "Kiba, please see to Issei."
"As you wish," Kiba nodded and got to work, treating the minor burns and injuries Issei had suffered.
"Do you think she is ready?" Rias glanced at her queen nervously, as the lightning master started to cover herself up. "I don't want to risk her dying (again)."
"I know you don't want to see any of your peerage hurt, but we must expose ourselves to danger in order to grow so we can serve you better," Akeno shook her head softly. "I believe Issei is at a level where she can assist in the more dangerous missions. After all I severely doubt the rogue devils Sitri-san asked us to investigate are anywhere near the level of me. If I had to give a guess at her current power level? I'd say she is C-Ranked, possibly even B-Ranked when fully boosted. In time her body will become more acclimated to magic and 'Boosting' and she may even become A-Ranked or higher, with the right training."
"I see," Rias nodded. "Then I trust your judgement. If you think Issei is ready to help Kiba and Koneko, I won't second guess you."
"Like I said, I will be personally overseeing the mission so will step in if I feel I am needed." Akeno reassured her king. "After an hour's rest her body should be fully recovered, and we can begin the mission."
While the two heads of the peerage were talking, Issei was slowly getting her ability to move back.
"Don't think I'm gonna fall for you just because you are healing me." Issei warned Kiba who only smiled back warmly.
"I assure you, that is not my goal."
"I've got my eyes on you," Issei remarked.
"So, boost affects your magical resistance? I suppose that is to be expected but still, it was a surprise seeing you able to move after taking a lightning spell directly."
"Well I am pretty awesome, aren't I?" Issei grinned as Kiba helped her to her feet. "Could I learn a spell like that?"
"Unfortunately, you appear to be more of a… brute force fighter. Raw magical damage is your forte rather than specific spells or elements." Kiba sounded slightly apologetic, but Issei wasn't disheartened.
"Raw magical damage? So kinda like Flare and Ultima compared to Firaga and Blizzaga?"
"I… I am not entirely sure what that means," Kiba's tone was full of confusion. "But I mean you are more a physical fighting than magical one. You will probably learn many augmenting spells to increase your effectiveness in close combat and maybe some basic magical manipulation spells to turn raw magical energy into an attack."
"Oh? Like a Kamehameha?" Issei's eyes sparkled. "That sounds awesome!"
"Well more like the dragon claw thing you just did."
"You didn't notice?" Koneko finally joined the conversation. "Your last attack, you created a magical dragon claw that extended your attack range."
"I did?" Issei blinked.
Koneko looked at Issei as if she wanted to comment but decided against it and fell silent again.
"It looks like you'll be joining us against the Rogue devils." Kiba glanced at Rias and Akeno who were deep in discussion.
"Annoying." Koneko frowned.
"What's a rogue devil?"
"Ah…" Kiba glanced at Koneko, but it was clear the small girl had little to no interest in talking to Issei so the sword creating devil continued, "Well you know how you are a member of a peerage?"
"Yeah, Rias-senpai is our leader, right?"
"Correct. A rogue devil is one who has no allegiance to a family, or peerage. Usually in order to live on Earth, you need to be sponsored or belong to one of the great families, but occasionally devils sneak out and cause havoc. If they are discovered, it is the responsibility of the territory owner to ensure they are dealt with."
"All three factions have territories on Earth that they are expected to monitor," Kiba explained. "For example, Kuoh is in the middle of Sitri devil territory, so it falls upon the Sitri clan to monitor and police this area. Admittedly this is a special case, as Sitri-san allows the other factions to have small embassies in the area."
"Wait… If it's the School President's territory, why are we dealing with it?"
"As a favour, also as training for our peerage. Sitri-san is a good friend of Rias-sama and as such she allows her to go to school here as well as perform her devil duties. She is also somewhat shielded from… other individuals here."
"Is Rias-senpai in danger?!"
"No… There are just some people she would prefer to avoid and being in Sitri territory grants her a degree of protection from them, for the time being at least." Kiba paused, "But I would focus on getting stronger. The Devil world is not a friendly one, despite your initial contact with Rias-sama. She is a more of an exception to the rule."
"I see." Issei didn't see but didn't want to appear stupid so simply looked thoughtful and nodded. "So… I just need to get strong so I can help Rias-sama out?"
"Correct." Kiba nodded with a soft smile. "In that goal, we are all united."
"Then I need to train even more! Plus if I can Naruto to help us, won't that make things easier for Rias-sama?"
"I would focus on just resting for now. We have a mission shortly. After that… well then we shall look into more training."
"R-right," Issei laughed awkwardly. "I guess going into a mission exhausted would be a bad idea."
"Indeed." Kiba took a step back from Issei, "Your wounds seem fine. Just relax for a moment and we will go over the current plan."
"Right!" Issei nodded. If Rias-senpai needed her to be strong, then she totally would! She had always wanted sisters and Rias was like the perfect big sister. Clenching her fists, she listened intently as Kiba told her about the upcoming mission.
She wouldn't let Rias down.
Some distance away, right on the outskirts of Sitri territory, there was a small church. This church barely held enough space and pews for 30 people, but every sermon was packed, largely due to the energy and exuberance of the church's only fully ordained priest, Reverend Might Guy.
"Can you feel the flames of Faith warm your soul?!" Guy declared to his communion. "These are dark days my fellow Christians but fear not the dark, for He is always with us! No matter the darkness that haunts you, let His Word guide you through the darkness of despair and into the Bright pastures of His Love. Now it pains me to say this, but this service draws to a close. But even as you part remember, the doors of His are always open to the faithful and those who need guidance. Go, with the love of Him up in Heaven!"
There were cries of 'Amen!' and 'Hallelujah!' as the faithful left the church, the setting sun casting the homely church in warm hues of red.
"Another moving service reverend!" A young boy, who looked like a younger clone of the reverend clapped furiously, tears in his eyes. "I could truly feel His love in your sermon."
"Thank you Lee," Gai gave the young priest a thumbs up. "I am but a mouthpiece for His Word. Never let your Flames of Faith extinguish!"
"Lee!" The two embraced and the third person remaining could have sworn they saw a sunset scene somehow appear behind the two.
"We took plenty of donations again," The third member, a stoic looking girl with her hair in two buns that were visible under her Nun attire, walked over to the couple with an offering tray. Her official name was I0-1O, but the two others called her Tenten. "Looks like we might be able to look into upgrading the Church so we can get more people to sit in comfort."
"Indeed," Father Guy nodded sagely. "The Faithful travel far to hear the word of our Lord, it is only fair we try our best to accommodate them."
"Father Guy, I have been looking into how to cook! I think we could do a bake sale in order to raise more money. That way all who seek to listen to Your Sermons will be able to hear your amazing words!"
"Lee…" Guy's voice went stern. "It is not me they are here to hear. It is the Word of Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ!"
"Ah… Forgive me father."
"We must always be humble!" Guy declared. "We are but the humble tools of Him!"
"How faithful of you." A dry voice remarked as Jiraiya stepped into the church. "I am sure He appreciates you being His tools."
"Can I help you? I am afraid you have missed the sermon," Guy stepped forwards.
"I received a summons." Jiraiya pulled an envelope from his jacket.
"I see…" Gai nodded solemnly. "This church offers refuge to all who seek protection. Even those who believe He has forsaken him are safe here."
"I find that hard to believe coming from the Holy Inferno." The old fallen angel crossed his arms and he took in the church. "So I get a mysterious summon to a Church and one of the old Anti-Fallen Exorcists happen to be waiting for me. Let me guess, the two brats are from the rumoured 'Rebirth' program? Still I've been here a while, I wonder why only now Heaven has decided to take action?"
"I assure you, we didn't send that summons, nor do we have any plans to attack you." Gai bowed his head solemnly, "I am no longer in the exorcist business. I do His work by spreading the gospel now."
Jiraiya gave a grunt of acknowledgement and looked at the two other members of the cloth. The young priest seemed full of energy and optimism, while the nun seemed to have just the right amount of distrust and cynicism that Jiraiya would expect from a Vat grown Vatican soldier.
As if sensing his thoughts, the nun spoke, "I am indeed from the Rebirth program. My official designation is I0-1O, or as I am known here, Tenten. While I have no intention to fight you, be warned that should you cause any trouble I was trained in multiple fighting styles, armed and unarmed, and excelled in anti-Fallen combat techniques."
"I'll keep that in mind," Jiraiya remarked, his tone showing how little he actually rated her as a threat, however Tenten seemed not to be offended by this and escorted him to a room at the back of the church.
"The one who summoned you awaits within. We will be listening." Tenten opened the door and the fallen angel walked in, freezing in shock as he saw who was sat at the table.
The angel waiting for him had long brown hair and wore bandages covering their eyes. Hovering behind them was a cherub, who quickly dashed behind the angel, peering over its white wings shyly at Jiraiya.
"It has been some time, Jiraiya-san," The angel spoke formally and gestured to the seat opposite himself.
"Neji," Jiraiya fidgeted awkwardly, "It's been a while. How are you?"
"I am well," Neji shook his head. "Please sit. There are things we need to discuss."
"Such as?" Jiraiya took the indicated seat and watched as Neji poured a small cup of tea and handed it to Jiraiya, his blindness apparently not hindering him in the slightest.
"There are rumours in heaven, rumours that have been causing great concern along the lower echelons of heaven. It doesn't help matters that the Seraphs have been surprisingly quiet on the matter and they say Lady Gabriel has returned to leading military affairs."
"So you came to me?" Jiraiya tilted his head.
"I assure you, I have exhausted all of my contacts in the Heavens, otherwise I would not be here."
"I see. How'd you find me?"
"My contacts In Heaven have known where you were for some time. They simply saw no need to pass your location onto the Seraphs. After all, if reports are true you are something of a leader amongst the independent Fallen Angels in this area and thanks to our.. arrangement you are more valuable alive than dead.."
"I try and help out those who don't belong to the Three Factions, yeah," Jiraiya nodded. "So you came to ask me if I'd heard anything?"
"Indeed," Neji took a sip of a cup of tea. "Himawari, could you please fetch me the biscuits?"
The cherub shyly nodded and flew off to a table, bring a tray of biscuits which she put on the table before returning to her hiding spot, shyly peering at Jiraiya from behind the snow-white wings of Neji.
"These are from a nice little store just outside of the Vatican city. I do find myself quite enamoured with Earth cuisine. Clearly our Father knew what he was doing when he bestowed Free Will upon the children."
"Hm, humanity sure has its good points," Jiraiya conceded as he picked up a chocolate biscuit.
"You see, the rumours I wish to be clarified are those revolving around the Cursed Child, more specifically his survival."
"Huh," Jiraiya scowled. "Is that so?"
"I won't ask you if he is alive or not, because I already know how such a conversation would go. I will instead only ask you one question. Does Heaven have anything to fear?"
"No," Jiraiya announced confidently, "At least they don't if they don't do something that makes them have something to fear."
"I see." Neji let out a relieved sigh. "It may not mean much to you, but those words will definitely calm down those who came to me for answers. Your word still carries somewhat in particular circles of Heaven."
"I see." Jiraiya was somewhat surprised by this, given how he had left heaven in… less than friendly terms.
"As a thank for meeting me, I have a bit of information that you might find useful," Neji stood up, the cherub Himawari fussing around him, straightening his robes and brushing the crumbs from his face. "Gabriel appears to have a guilt complex around the death of your pupil and the fate of the Cursed Child. She appears to seek redemption and if the Cursed Child were to be alive and the two meet each other, his actions could very easily cause Gabriel to fall."
"Ah…" Jiraiya stared into space. If one of the Four Seraphs of Heaven was to fall, especially the strongest spellcaster Gabriel, that could cause all sorts of problems. But if Gabriel was truly desperate for redemption for her part in Naruto's fate… Jiraiya could use that. "Thanks for the heads up."
"Till we meet again," Neji bowed his head and vanished in a flutter of feathers. His cherub held back and collected said feathers, before shyly waving goodbye and vanishing with a pop.
"Huh…" Jiraiya closed his eyes.
"Please Naruto… Forgive me…" Gabriel clasped Naruto's hands, tears in her eyes.
"Your actions killed my father and robbed me of my chance of family!" Naruto snapped as he pulled his hand free.
'Then… let me give you a life for a life… a daughter for a father and a wife for a family…' Gabriel allowed her robes to fall to the floor, revealing her perfect, virgin skin. "I will be yours… body and soul…"
"Son of a bitch," Jiraiya grumbled as he opened his eyes, trying hard not to feel unreasonably jealous of his 'apprentice' for his own fantasies.
He didn't have much luck.
While Jiraiya was having his meeting with two of the Seraphs, far across the town sinister forces were at work. In an abandoned house on the outskirts of civilisation, three devils were meeting with a tall figure whose entire body was hidden beneath a red cloak. Only a crest featuring a sword behind an open book with the motto 'Fiat voluntas novissimo eius' written in a cursive script below it.
These three devils were not members of any of the great families, nor did they pledge allegiance to the Four Satans. They were independents, more commonly referred to as rogue devils. The main thing about independents were that they didn't follow the Rules of Contact, the rules that limited what devils and angels could do regarding humanity that had been drawn up a long, long time ago. These rules essentially limited Angels/Devils to guiding humans and offering only small bits of power but otherwise not being involved in their daily affairs. While there were exceptions to the rule (Sacred Gear holders, Exorcists and Devil Cultists largely being classed as 'Non-human' for the sake of the agreement) they were generally designed to ensure humanity chose its own route to either salvation or damnation, as the Creator had wanted supposedly.
As they largely ignored the Rules of Contact, Independents did whatever they liked in regard to humanity, be it practically adopting or marrying a mortal to much less savoury interactions. It was these later cases that required dealing with. This current group had several of the less savoury kind of interactions, from abusing hypnosis and stealing, but given the lack of response from the Sitri clan they felt emboldened in their actions. Maybe this is what caused them to accept a strange job that resulted in the strange figure before them arriving to check on several crates of… well something.
"You have received the packages?" The cloaked figure had a male voice, one that exuded an air of quiet yet definite power.
"Yeah, yeah," The tallest of the three devils stepped forward. He had an unruly mop of black hair and was wearing what looked like a school uniform, although his general size and appearance made him look far too old to be a genuine student. Since he was usually the one who gave the orders, the other two devils simply knew him as 'Boss'. "Don't see why one of your ilk is hiring people like us to hold onto this crap though? Suffering a shortage of manpower?"
"This is what the Tapestry of Fates commands us to do." The cloaked figure responded bluntly, a clear note of annoyance in his tone. "Were it not for that, I would have much preferred to handle this matter myself."
"Care to tell us why what exactly we are holding on to?" Another of the three devils asked. This one was female and wore a kimono and had pale white skin. Her long black hair and the elegant naginata she was carrying made her look the very picture of a 'Yamato Nadeshiko', so the others simply called her Nadeshiko. She was currently holding a small glass cylinder, in which a strange, claylike sphere floated in suspension.
"They are required for what comes next." Was the only response the cloaked figure gave. "All you are required to do is watch over them for a short time. Another agent will claim them."
"Right, right," The third devil yawned. He was much shorter than his two colleagues, looking barely older than 10. As with the other two, he had black hair but his was shaved off, so only a black shadow remained upon his head. He demanded to be called Destroyer but was largely known as Buzzcut. "So, we do this and get paid by your contact right?"
"That is correct." And with that the cloaked figure simply vanished from sight.
"Geez, using teleportation magic in Sitri territory?" Boss let out a sigh. "Does he want the whole damn clan ripping us apart?"
"I doubt the Sitri clan would move that quickly either way." Nadeshiko continued to stare at the cylinder with interest. "We have been here for weeks and they are yet to make a move. I imagine the heiress has more important matters to deal with than some rogue devils who have set up shop in an abandoned building. It isn't as if we have done anything that couldn't have been done by a sufficiently motivated human, so they probably don't even know we are here."
"True," Boss nodded, "Put that down before you break it, will you? Those things are in sealed containers for a reason."
"Which is?" Buzzcut glanced at the leader of the trio.
"Well…" The Boss hesitated for a moment before scoffing at the youngster, "It's bloody obvious, if you're too dumb to know that's not my problem to deal with."
"You wanna go?!" The shorter devil squared up to the Boss.
"I don't pick on children," Boss snorted as he turned his back on Buzzcut, who was vibrating with anger.
"Please behave yourselves," Nadeshiko sighed. "Go and calm down Buzzcut. In a couple of days, we will be paid, and we can all go have some fun. Maybe we could all find some cute girls and play around a little. Oh has anyone seen that drug addled fool?"
"Predator?" Boss frowned. "He's probably coming down and is asleep somewhere. Wouldn't surprise me if he tried to sample whatever these things are." He gestured at the vial Nadeshiko was holding. "Buzzcut, go out and see if you can find the moron. If he has done anything to endanger our mission… Well he's had enough warnings so take care of him."
"Yeah, yeah," The shorter devil scowled and walked out of the room that the meeting had taken place in. For an abandoned building, the place they called home was in good repair and with a few strategically placed magical wards, it was unfindable by anyone who didn't already know its location. He stepped out onto the street, looking around in the late evening sun. He noticed a young girl who looked lost. She was wearing a grey hoodie with cute little cat ears on the hood. With a smirk he walked over to her, his mission instantly forgotten. "Hey there little missy… You look a bit lost."
"I am…" The girl spoke softly and emotionlessly.
"Maybe you could follow me, and I could help you," Buzzcut used his devil powers to bolster his charisma. "I live nearby, and you can relax for a moment."
"I'd appreciate that."
Buzzcut grinned widely. While not technically hypnotism, his ability to bolster his Charisma did have a strong effect on the opposite gender and the girl followed him without question as he let her into the house.
"So… Is this your home?" The girl asked as she stepped inside.
"Yup," Buzzcut grinned. "Bet you were surprised when a house suddenly appeared. See we are magic!"
Buzzcut didn't have time to respond as he was suddenly struck with such force all the air (and a good deal of his blood) was forced out his mouth as the small girl punched him directly in the stomach. He opened his mouth to cry out in alarm, but without any air all he did was choke before passing out.
Koneko tossed aside her hoodie, revealing her battle attire before leaving the house and waiting. After a minute or two, Kiba and Issei joined up with her and the trio entered the house again.
"Well that's one way to get around the wards," Kiba remarked softly as he walked over to the unconscious devil. "Yes… This is one of the criminals we were sent to investigate. There should be three more."
"So…" Issei fidgeted awkwardly. "What did these devils do?"
"A few minor crimes apparently. They are only low ranked devils so this shouldn't be too difficult," Kiba smiled at Issei, "But don't worry, no harm will befall you. I promise you this."
"Stop it with the prince act," Issei grumbled. "You're not gonna sway me!"
"Quiet." Koneko looked at the two, Kiba smiling apologetically while Issei looked at the ground like a chastised child.
"Buzzcut? What was that noise? Did you punch Predator through a wall again? How many times do I have to tell you this house is only made of…" Nadeshiko trailed off as she walked out to see the unconscious Buzzcut and sheepish Issei. "Oh? I don't believe we've met."
Issei suddenly realised that Koneko and Kiba were nowhere to be seen. "Er… Hi there! Er… How are you?" She smiled nervously.
"Oh I am just brilliant," Nadeshiko smiled and walked towards Issei calmly, her every movement carrying such grace that Issei found herself wondering if this devil was a former noble or something. As she got close to Issei, she raised a hand to stroke her cheek. "At least now that I have seen your face."
"W-well…" Issei stammered, not quite sure how to respond. While she wasn't 100% sure, this devil did look like one of the four devils she was sent here to help capture.
"So cute… So pure too…" Nadeshiko licked her lips, "I think you'll make a lovely bed partner."
"I'm flattered…" Issei tried to step back but her body wasn't responding.
"Oh? It seems you can resist my Lover's Caress? But not completely…" Nadeshiko purred. "Any whom I stroke usually becomes my willing slave… Well that's fine too. I have plenty of fun tools to break you in~" There was a definite evil radiating from her eyes and Issei realised she was in danger.
"Boost!" Issei leapt backwards, overpowering the enchantment by sheer power and brought her arms up. While not a talented combatant, she was a half-way decent brawler and she figured between her new boosted powers and her devil nature she'd be able to put up a fight.
Then Nadeshiko flourished her naginata, frost slowly filling the room with each swing.
"Allow me to introduce myself. I am a former Yuki-Onna. I would tell you my name, but the others here merely call me Nadeshiko and you… you can call me mistress~" She lunged at Issei.
Issei launched herself out of the way of the attack, flinching as the cabinets she struck instantly turned to ice only to shatter when she slammed the naginata on the floor.
"Do you see what fate awaits you if you continue this resistance?" Nadeshiko smiled beautifully, looking like an angel amongst the frost that was filling the room. The air had started to go so cold it hurt Issei to breath and she realised that she needed to end this fight quickly. She wasn't sure where Kiba and Koneko were and chose to take it that they trusted her to win this fight. Emboldened by this belief, she charged the icy warrior, who deftly danced away from her clumsy assault, scoring light nicks on Issei as if taunting her.
Each fist was dodged with the least possible moment, just brushing her hair or kimono before Nadeshiko danced around her lunge, lightly cutting an arm or a leg. With each cut, Issei's limbs seemed heavier and less responsive.
"Damn it! Stay still and let me hit you!" Issei growled as she tried to ignore the cold seeping into her body through the small cuts on her arms and legs. Try as she might, she could feel her entire body slowly start to slow down as it froze. "Crap!"
"My, my… Such language is unbecoming of such a sweet concubine of mine."
"I ain't nothing of yours!" Issei scowled.
"You'll change your tune. They always do." Nadeshiko leaned forward revealing some of her modest cleavage and blew a kiss, only when she blew a small cone of frost radiated outwards and while Issei was able to shield her core, her arms were frozen solid, and her legs and lower torso weren't feeling too clever.
'Sigh… It's a shame that babe doesn't have big boobs. That would have looked super sexy then. Not that I have a problem with small breasts and in some cases, they can look better than the big ones but this feels like a situation where a bigger bust would have resulted in a larger payoff personally.'
'Oh? You can hear me now. Huh… Right then… I can tell you how to win this battle.'
'Who are you?'
'That is unimportant… In order to win… you must strip her! Yuki-onna rely on kimonos for power. That is totally a fact and not something I just made up. Her weak spot is her breasts. You've gotta expose em! Only then will you be able to build up a burning sensation within yourself to counter her cold!'
'There's no way that is an actual strategy!' Issei mentally rebuked the voice in her head. "Boost!" There was an explosion as Issei launched herself out of the ice imprisoning her and directly at the former Yuki-Onna, who was taken by surprise.
"What… What is this? How can you still move?!"
"Rias-senpai… She says I am like a wildfire! Guess that means I'm too hot for you to handle!" Issei dodged the fast slash of the naginata with ease. After spending several hours dodging Akeno's unpredictable attacks, a straight forward slash was child's play after a second boost.
"How irritating," Nadeshiko slammed her Naginata into the floor, causing several spikes of ice to erupt from the floor, however unlike Akeno's Lightning trap, these attacks weren't instant and Issei managed to dodge them easily. "You are quite the irritating little fly aren't you?"
"Boost!" Issei leapt at the woman, who was struggling to defend herself against the barrage of clumsy punches and all it took was a single moment of distraction and a fist found it's target, sending the fragile Yuki-onna hurtling into a wall with an explosion that ripped her clothes and revealed her chest bindings and slender stomach.
"You… You bitch!" She struggled to her feat "You'll pay for that!" She fell back to a knee as she noticed several claw marks that had shredded her clothes, exposing her arms and legs. "When… When did you do that?! I… Oh no… You are Sitri-san's devils?! I was innocent! I was forced into helping them! Please don't kill me! I… I am innocent and…"
"We don't have time for this," Koneko rubbed her knuckles as the Nadeshiko joined her comrade in the realm of unconsciousness. "You took too long. Your punches are sloppy."
"S-sorry," Issei bowed her head as the smaller girl turned around and headed towards the doorway to the next room.
"…Tomorrow I will show you how to throw a proper punch," The rook declared before continuing into the building, leaving Issei and the now reappeared Kiba to deal with the unconscious devils.
"That's her way of saying good job. Akeno-san requested we let you take on at least one of the devils so you understand."
"We are all very powerful devils. Don't feel bad about how poorly our spars go. Against the average devil…" Kiba gestured to the defeated Nadeshiko. "Even when you don't hit an enemy, your 'dragon claws' shred the enemy it seems."
"Er… How do I do that?" Issei laughed weakly.
'You should totally do that all the time when sparring Rias and Akeno. Give me something nice to look at rather than your reflection."
Issei merely plugged her ears and hummed loudly, earning a confused glance from Kiba.
"Here we go!" Tsunade let out a yell as she struck the football with all her strength, feeling a rush as she saw the ball hit the back of the net and the cheers of her fellow students. If only Naru-nii was here to ruffle her hair and tell her she was amazing. That would be perfection.
Letting out a soft sigh she made her way back to her side of the field, trying not to pay attention to the scoreboard.
Losing 5-3 was a bit disheartening but she could turn it around. Or at least that was what she told herself but no sooner had play resumed than the referee blew her whistle and the game ended.
"Aw man," Tsunade's shoulders dropped. Losing was never fun and, given how her team was pretty good, they rarely felt this disappointment. She nodded at her teammates and patted them on the back. They were all out of breath, completely drained and for that Tsunade was proud. Up to the end her team had given everything they had, even if the result wasn't in their favour, they could at least be proud of their effort.
"They were ridiculously good," The goalkeeper for her team, a young chubby girl called Chocho, grumbled. "Where was my defence half of that game?"
"They outplayed us," Tsunade shrugged. "I guess at the end of the day, this team is just too good."
A young girl, the captain of the other team walked over, offering commiserations to the losing team, before approaching Tsunade with a smile. She had black hair and was wearing glasses. She gave Tsunade a 'Mito' vibe with how neat and tidy she looked, especially after the intense football game she had just played it.
"Hey there, I'm Uchiha Sarada. I just want to say thank you for the game. We are getting ready for nationals and we appreciate your team agreeing to play us in a friendly."
"It was the school's choice," Tsunade merely shrugged. "Still, you must be favourites to win the School National League if you can play like that. Seriously, your attack made our defence look like it wasn't even there for most of that game."
"True your defence wasn't capable of coping with our attack, but I could say the same right back. Every time you got the ball our defence fell apart trying to deal with you. You should come to our school. It's a complete system so you can stay at Kuoh from childhood to adulthood and we have one of the best schools for… well pretty much any subject. You should totally apply for a scholarship for next year. With skills like yours, I feel our team would go from National level to World Class!"
"W-well," Tsunade laughed weakly, "That's really flattering."
"I'd hurry and get in while you can," The other team's captain sighed. "I fear they might start allowing boys to join our school soon."
"Oh?" Tsunade blinked. "What makes you say that?"
"Well we have recently hired a male janitor to 'allow students to get acclimatised to male presence'." Sarada scowled slightly. "I have heard enough stories from my eldest sister about boys to know that things will go downhill if they make that decision. Even though my sister says Uzumaki-san seems a good person, there have been rumours about scandalous behaviour."
"Yes, our Janitor, Uzumaki Naruto-san. They say he is dating the Vice president of Kuoh! Imagine that! A member of staff dating a student!"
"T-t-this has to be an old man, right?!"
"Oh no. He is the same age as the Vice President of the High School." Sarada remarked bluntly. "I think he's a foreigner too…"
"W-w-what makes you say that?!"
"Oh, he has bright blonde hair and I'm told his blue eyes are quite calming and beautiful, well for a boy anyway."
"…Oh…" Tsunade blinked. "So… Who would I go to see about this Scholarship?"
As she returned to the side-lines, Mito was stood waiting for her sister.
"So, you got beat then?" Mito sighed. "It is to be expected. Kuoh academy is one of the best schools in the area and their primary and college divisions are particularly renowned for their dedication to extracurricular sports. Still, as Student President I should congratulate you on giving it your all, even in the face of certain defeat, not that I find that surprising, given your attempts at stealing Onii-sama from me."
"Hm? Oh yeah, we lost. That sucks, Hahahaha." Tsunade whistled innocently. "So… I was thinking I might apply for a scholarship there."
"… That is an odd decision," Mito narrowed her eyes. "Do you know something I should know?"
"Of course not," Tsunade looked at the field, doing her best to avoid looking her twin in the eyes. "I was just thinking that they have a really good football team and I'd like to play for them. Honest."
"Hmm…" Mito narrowed her eyes and pulled a phone from her school bag. "Kuoh Academy is a private girl only school with three separate entities designed to cater to Primary, Secondary and Tertiary education. It is renowned for it's academic and sporting achievements as well its wide range of extracurricular activities. It is rated 4th in the National Ratings."
"Yup, It sounds awesome, doesn't it?"
"Key features involve a new arrival Uzumaki Naruto." Mito continued.
"It says that?!" Tsunade looked at her sister who wasn't even glancing at the phone. Realising she'd been played, the energetic twin tried to think of a quick response, but Mito was barely paying attention. She has discovered where her beloved Onii-sama was. "Er… I mean…"
"So…" Mito smiled, "Onii-sama has been located. I wonder how he got into an all girl's school? Wait… surrounded by harlots who all want to steal him from me?! I must take action! Such improper girls would no doubt use uncouth measures and trick my noble brother into dating them. He is far too trusting."
"Well the girl I was talking to didn't seem happy he was there."
"You fool!" Mito suddenly exclaimed. "It is the sluttiest line in the book! 'Oh I totally don't like him, the baka' haven't you ever heard of a Tsundere?!"
"My path is clear," Mito narrowed her eyes. "I must enroll at Kuoh to protect Onii-sama, so that he may be clean and pure when we finally exchange our bodies to one another. Not that I would ever reject my beloved, but surely the horror of someone else using him before we can passionately exchange our love would likely cause him irreparable damage. He is such a pure soul."
"W-wait a second! I'm going to Kuoh! It's only right that Naru-nii's future bride has a fulfilling school life with him!"
"Which is why I will be going to Kuoh. You wouldn't get in anyway, so it is better to make your peace as his sister-in-law."
"Like hell! I'll bet it is super expensive and our parents can't afford it. Only I can get in with a sports scholarship!"
"I am sure there are many scholarships and even if there isn't, I am sure our parents would agree that I, the intellectual one of us, would be the better choice to invest in. When I am Prime Minister and legalise marriage between siblings, I will allow you to be my bridesmaid at our wedding. "
"Like hell that is going to happen! I'm gonna go there and then win a world cup for Japan and as a national hero they'll totally agree with my belief that what happens between two consenting adults is perfectly a-OK!"
"Oh because just because someone who is half-way decent at football says it is so, people are just going to accept it?"
"More chance than some cold bitch trying to force it through the diet!"
"I tire of talking to such an uncouth ogre. No wonder Onii-sama fled from our home."
"Maybe it was you and your constant scheming!"
The two continued to argue, unaware of one key problem.
It was the middle of the school year and there weren't any scholarships for another six months.
"I won't tell you anything!" Boss declared stubbornly, his face a mass of bruises. Despite his name, he had posed little challenge for Koneko, who had quickly kicked his ass.
The three captured Rogue devils were currently tied up and gagged, with only the boss able to speak. While Kiba tried to interrogate him, Koneko and Issei were checking out the strange cylinders that they had been guarding.
"Oh I love it when they say that~" Akeno walked into the room, her face radiating a happiness that made Boss's bravado slowly slip away. "I am sure I will have plenty of fun getting you to talk~"
"Er… When I said I won't tell you anything, what I meant was…"
"Shh… Don't ruin my fun, okay?"
"Look, I'm guessing from the ease with which you beat us that you are Sitri devils. I wanna make a plea deal but only when I talk to your leader!"
"Unfortunately for you, we are not Sitri devils. In fact, we were given very clear orders to ensure than any issues were… taken care of quickly and quietly."
"L-Listen," Boss squeaked out as Akeno advanced on him, "I know things!"
"W-well if I tell you then I have no leverage," Boss mumbled.
"Oh? Do you believe you actually had some to start with?" Akeno laughed, "How cute~"
"What are these?" Issei asked as she walked over to Akeno with one of the cylinders containing the suspended clay-like sphere.
"Hell if I know," Boss remarked. "We were just told to watch after them."
"By who?" Akeno asked.
Boss opened his mouth to answer, but suddenly started to jerk violently against his bindings, his eyes rolled up into his head and he frothed at the mouth. In a matter of seconds, he suddenly stopped and slumped to the floor, silent and still.
"What the hell?" Issei stepped backwards.
"Hm…" Kiba knelt next to the captive. "He's dead."
"How suspicious," Akeno narrowed her eyes. "Clearly whoever he was working for made an effort to cover his tracks should anything go wrong."
"The others died too," Koneko remarked from the corner of the room where the other two rogue devils had slumped over, foaming at the mouth.
"We have yet to find the fourth member but judging by the nature of the instantaneous death of the others, it is probably safe to assume the last member died too. I shall resume searching for him regardless but we should report this to Rias-sama," Kiba stood up.
"Shouldn't we let Sitri-san know to?" Issei asked, "She did send us on this mission."
"It is up to Rias-sama what information she deems needs passing on to Sitri-san. We are but tools for Rias-sama." Kiba shook her head.
"The world of the Devils is a political nightmare, even a close ally such as the Sitri Clan may one day be our adversary, though Rias-sama is loathe to think like that. At the end of the day though, it is her decision to make and we merely stand by her no matter what." Akeno smiled, "And if the day comes where I have to… entertain Sitri-san for Rias-sama's sake then… I am sure I can think of quite a few fun games to get some interesting faces from her."
Issei shivered a little, partly at Akeno's sadism, but also at the fact that they were expecting their closest allies to become enemies at some point.
"Devils are by nature greedy," Kiba explained, seeing Issei's expression, "There may come a time when assisting Rias-sama is counter to her own interests and unlike us, Sitri-san is not a member of the peerage and will place her own goals above ours. That doesn't mean it is likely, however. The alliance between the Sitri and Gremory clan is pretty strong, however it never hurts to prepare. Still it would be wise not to speak about such things in Rias-sama's presence. She is… pure even by heaven's standards and would not take such a discussion well."
"R-Right," Issei nodded. She suddenly found herself imagining Rias in white satin lingerie, laid in a sexy way, but completely naïve to her sexiness. 'I hope this doesn't awaken something in me…' She thought to herself.
"One of the vials are missing," Koneko interrupted the conversation.
"How can you tell?"
"Empty box," Koneko replied bluntly and held up the wooden container. There were two empty slots and Issei was holding one of the vials.
"It isn't impossible that it was empty anyway, but we should keep our eyes open and finish our search. Issei-chan?"
"Y-yes?!" Issei snapped out of her daydream.
"You did well for your first mission. You should head home and get some rest okay?"
"Right!" Issei nodded eagerly and set off on her way.
Still trying to shake the image of angel Rias from her head, she never noticed the pair of eyes watching her leave.
The sun was almost setting when Naruto made his way through the park where he had first met Issei. His mood was cheerful, partly in the fact that he could now cast magic, but also due to the fact he felt like he was making very real progress.
As he stopped at the tree where Issei had been peaking, he took a moment to consider what lay ahead. Sure he had plans to save Asia, but what then? Jiraiya said he had to win over the three Factions in order to ensure his own safety but how did he actually do that? Sure helping Sitri-san would improve his status with her, and she had an elder sister that was a Satan, but that could actually work against him when it came to winning over the leaders of the other factions.
He was so deep in thought he never noticed the person sneaking up on him who then put her hands over his eyes and pushed her generous chest into his back.
Naruto broke free and span around, falling into a defensive stance at the familiar voice. "Raynare."
"We have to stop meeting like this," The fallen angel smiled. She was wearing her human disguise today. "You looked so lost in thought. I was so tempted to stab you since you make the cutest cries of pain."
"What do you want?" Naruto grit his teeth, mentally weighing up his chances of winning a fight. He was stronger than he was before but Raynare was very powerful.
"Such hostility?" Raynare chuckled. "I was bored and figured I'd have a little fun. Humans are so easy to string along. Like there was this one girl, I can't remember her name. She was so desperate for a sister, it made her really easy to manipulate."
"You know her name," Naruto growled. "If you have something to say, say it. If not get lost before I make you."
"You aren't any fun today." The fallen angel sighed. "Maybe I should go and play with the little nun."
"Leave Asia alone."
"Or what? Are you going to fight me?"
"If you make me, yes."
"…Why though?" Raynare frowned, all flirtatious behaviour vanished instantly.
"What do you mean?"
"You nearly died fighting me the first time. What makes you think you would fare better a few days later? More to the point why on earth would you throw away your life for someone you don't even know?" Raynare crossed her arms. "Do you think you are a hero? Swooping in to save the day? Let me tell you, there are no heroes in this world. No living ones at least. I've heard rumours your are training, that you're planning to get in the way of my mission. A word of advice: Don't."
"Well I have my own advice for you," Naruto countered, "Don't sacrifice Asia. If you let her go I won't interfere."
"Asia wants to be sacrificed, to make amends for her sins."
"For sins that she doesn't even have!" There was a clear tone of anger from Naruto. "She has done nothing wrong!"
Raynare's lips curled in disgust, "Sometimes we don't have to do anything wrong to get punished. This is the world He made after all."
"…How did you fall?" Naruto asked. "The way you speak makes it sound as if you feel you didn't deserve it."
"Oh? Are you gonna save me now? Gonna make me see the error of my ways and change my life around?"
"If I can, probably." Naruto responded.
"Really? Do you actually hear what you are saying? You make me sick. You and the sugary-sweet-saint of a nun. You all act as if there is some 'justice' in the world. That Good and Evil are actual concepts with a physical representation. They aren't. They are just words used to make you feel better about what you do in life." The fallen angel sneered. "Well newsflash, the world is shitty and bad things happen to good people. The nun will die because I, the stronger of us, demand it and if you try and get in my way, you will die, Jiraiya be damned." She grabbed Naruto around the neck, who calmly stared her in the eyes.
"You say you are stronger than Asia, but even in her current situation she is smiling and helping people." Naruto pulled her hand away from his throat. "You might want to believe that the world is crap, because then it justifies your refusal to do anything about it. I'm not that weak."
"Just stay out of my way. It isn't as if Asia wants you to save her anyway." Raynare hissed as she spun around and stormed off.
Naruto watched her go and let out a soft sigh before rubbing his throat. He only had a few more days before Raynare carried out her plan. That thought usually inspired a feeling of dread in him, but not today.
She had struggled against his attempts to move her hand away from his throat, but he had overpowered her. Sure she might be magic focused, but even this little victory was a sign he was getting stronger.
He nodded and made his way back to Jiraiya's, psyching himself up for whatever training the old pervert would have imagined.
Watching him go was a furious Raynare, rubbing the bruises around her wrist.
'How did he get so strong so quickly?! I cannot allow anything to get in the way of my plan. I cannot fail Azazel-sama. I guess I'll send Dohnaseek to deal with that irritating insect.' She walked towards the church, pausing as she noticed a slumped figure in one of the bushes. Closer inspection revealed a dishevelled devil that was foaming in the mouth. By the looks of the corpse, it had not lived a very… clean life and had clearly died of an overdose of some new magical drug. She cared little for the death of a devil, but something about the figure felt off.
Kneeling down to look at the corpse, she noticed it appeared to be gripping something tightly in on of its hands. Overcome with a morbid sort of curiosity, Raynare looked closer at the hand and noticed the corpse was gripping something so tightly that it had cut into its own palm with its finger nails, there was a still a small speck of damp blood from the cuts, implying that the corpse had not been dead that long.
"What the…" Raynare pried open the corpse's clenched fist, in which a small glass cylinder was found, with a strange clay-like sphere floating in suspension within it. "Interesting," She smirked as she recognised what it was. "This is very illegal. I think this could be very useful to me."
Pocketing the vial and leaving the corpse to rot, Raynare headed back to the abandoned church.
She had plans and when they were done, not only would Azazel know she was his best soldier, but Heaven and Hell would fear her name and then… when the fighting started again… she would burn down Heaven and all those who turned their back on her.
She would have her revenge.