Alright, it's the weekend, and this time, I will update instead of lounging around like some lethargic sloth who just ate a giant breakfast despite doing nothing all day!

NeoShadows back at it again with the latest chapter for ya'll to gobble up with fever!

The new responsibilities of my promotion to manager have only just begun to settle in, leaving me really drained at the end of the day. So, while I do have plenty of chapters of A Certain Maelstrom of Misfortune completed, I won't update anything until I've checked off two criteries for an update for any of my stories.

1. Finish spell checks, polishing up of certain scenes, the occasional re-writes; you know, the typical editing jargon all writers, even amateurs, have to do. Sometimes multiple times. This chapter alone was edited a good three times before I even uploaded it for the final revisions here.

2. The completion of the next chapter to come. Seeing as I already have the end of The Land Of Waves completed, I've been writing up the next arc to come.

If I remember right, I actually scrapped two and a half chapters of the new arc due to changes in how I wanted the story to move forward. I wanted to take the new storyline into a new direction while also hinting at the big changes to the Elemental Nations.

Hm? Oh, did you think everything was going to run its normal course from here? HA! Oh, man, am I going to love to see your faces down the road; the end of the yet to be named arc is really what I'm looking forward to the most.

We can save the talking for the ending notes, How about we get those reviews out of the way so we can devour this chapter like Naruto slurps up ramen.

Craytherlay: When I picture this lovely Fukouda-chan: I see a very busty high school girl with messy black hair, a pretty yet sullen face, purple eyes, and a creepy smile similar to a crescent moon. Seriously, someone make a fic about the physical representation of Kamijou Touma's misfortune giving a female body! I need my fix! Leave it to Touma to relieve some doubt from the heart of a young maiden. His devilish ways will slowly doom this world of magical ninja and there's no stopping the disease once it has arrived. This is only the beginning of that boy's infamous speeches to come. And while he may not show it(yet) he really does miss those two very special girls in his life as well as everyone else in his normal life. You know, it is oddly unusual when you think about it. After everything he's been through, Kamijou Touma still fights as if he's an amateur brawler. As if all his experience he's garnered through not just the Infinite Hells but his entire life, has been...ignored? Held back? Wonder why.

Qrow454: Don't worry, I haven't forgotten Touma's main strength. Hell, his fighting ability isn't even that great; he's weak...(starts falling back with a laugh). That aside, you also can't naively believe his words will be able to get through to everyone. Not every opponent is caught in some tragic illusion. This new world...it may be far crueler and primal than his original. It's not a world built and centered around that right hand; we've already seen what happens when someone from outside that world clashes with the boy who wields Imagine Breaker. Whether a high school boy from outside a world of supernatural ninjas can shatter the illusions stemming from war, bloodshed, and revenge will be one of the true spectacles to be seen.

TazalTerminals: Who was it that said it? That if Touma were to have the ability to learn magic and cast spells without a backlash, he would probably be proficient in tantric magic? Even in the Naruto-verse, the Kami-yan Disease has no known cure; poor bastards. As for the ronin; you'll see.

Sagnik Deb: Yeah, I know it may take a long time to see an update for any of my stories. I can't help that anymore. I use to say I'd update next week, but things always got in the way. I no longer push my self to update until I'm completely happy with the chapter. So, I thank you for sticking around. And thanks for the compliment!

TheBiggestLoser: Maybe, maybe not. We'll have to wait and see. As for NTR: yeah, no. I'm all for depravity here and there(huehuehue) but I ain't a fan of writing that kind of thing.

Davidab931: What a meeting it will be indeed. Oooooh, the Curse Seal. What an interesting subject for the future.

MrQuestionMark: I am, and always will be, a JRPG fan. I love that you see this as a Side Quest to the main story going on about now. You know me! I love original content! Especially when it's done well; it's why I write and read fanfiction. As if I could just charge straight towards the Final Battle so early! We need build up, change, anticipation, sexy good times! I'm the type of bastard to shake up the pot, damn it! In order for this to be a proper crossover, things have to change. Otherwise, it would simply be a copy-and-paste of the original cannon with small tweaks. I'd hate that. I will say this first arc will be similar in certain points but will overall be different. The real changes won't come until after we're done with Nami no Kuni. God, I want to spoil or hint to what's to come and the unseen commotion going on in the background! You're not the only one flailing about; the fisherman is also going crazy in anticipation!

Kaze: Gaining a proper form in any martial arts discipline takes a lot of time and patience. For a high school boy always struggling with his studies, cooking for his roommate, making time for his friends when he can, and fighting magicians, espers, and thugs, he has little time for even an after school club, let alone learning how to fight. And it's not like he even likes to fight either. Even if it would help him better survive and lessen the trips to the hospital, a normal high school boy would be uncomfortable with being taught how to hurt others in the name of defending himself. Ah, good point. Without Heaven Canceller, he's no longer going to be able to walk out of each brawl without a scar, huh? There's no safety net. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out here. And yes, Imagine Breaker's side effect in bringing nothing but misfortune isn't anything to laugh about. Here and there, it can be humorous; nothing wrong with that. But such a constant can take a toll one day.

Sergio644: Thanks for the compliment! I think it was during the quarantine that I was finally able to stop and take a look at how I wrote my stories. I finally began to feel satisfied with how I wrote each sentence without being struck with doubts. When I take a look back at my old fics, I can see just how far I've improved. So, I'm happy to hear you like my writing style. And of course we had to dive into some side quest before the main event!

LoneVirgo98: Happy to hear. I'm hoping to make this the best ToAru/Naruto fic in the archive, so keep up with the support!

Ril Noyama: I'm hoping to keep this going into Shippuden. It just wouldn't seem right pulling Touma out after spending so long here. It's all part of the plan. We'll have to wait and see what will become of the Sasuke Retrieval arc.

Frannimations6: Yes! Thank you! You have no idea how much I relate to what you just said! When I first got into reading fanfiction for ToAru, I was greatly disappointed with the lack of real stories to the crossover section. There were good stories, mind you, but a large majority failed to capture what made ToAru and its characters natural. It's why I had to write my own crossover to help fill the void in those who felt the same as I. I mean, there are so many other worlds he could be dropped off in that I would love to see; Bleach, Rosario, ToLoveRu, Fairy Tail, the list goes on! If I wasn't already busy with the stories I got now, I'd take a crack at the ideas I'm playing with during my free time. I'm please you've enjoyed this story and don't worry, I'll do my best to keep it going for as long as possible.

SlicingAndDicing: Glad you've stumbled upon my fic in your searching. I aim to please. When searching for a new fic, I feel the same skepticism, so no worries. I'm going to refrain from speaking on your questions because I don't want to provide any false hopes and such, so you'll have to wait and see.

Yuuji Akira: A pleasant afternoon well spent, I hope. I have the same habit of spending an afternoon reading a new fic. As for the starting point, I couldn't think of any other starting point for Touma's introduction to the Naruto-verse than during their first mission. It just seemed right and would better work with what I have planned for the future of the events of the world. And don't worry, I do enjoy writing this fic, among others, so I won't be stopping just yet. So long as your patient, good fics will come to those who wait.

And that about does it for reviews for now.

Get going and get to reading!


Disclaimer: I do not own the rights to A Certain Magical Index or Naruto. Both rights are reserved to Kazuma Kamachi and Masashi Kishimoto.

Not much to say this time. Currently dealing with a right ear with water or something in there, so I can't hear so well. Bummer.

Oh well. I'm used to watching my late night 'research' material with one earbud. Sigh, the difficulties of having to live in a full house where privacy is all but dead. How I wish I invested in a lock for my door.


Chapter 6: Cruel Shores.

Human_Depths.

Due to a certain billionaire wanting to know all he could about the ninja who had kicked Momochi Zabuza's ass to the point he was bedridden for a few days, Zori and his partner, Waraji, were out patrolling the village for any information regarding those highly skilled and professional ninjas.

Within the woods close by the Tazuna residence, a certain orange obsessed whisker cheeked genin sneezed, resulting in loss of stability concerning his chakra control, and fell off from the bark just as he was just an inch from crossing his previous record. He would later curse out whoever was talking about him with threats of summoning an army of busty, naked bombshells.

To cover more ground in one day, and to get this boring assignment over with quickly, Zori had suggested that they both split up. Their little side job was honestly nothing more than a chore for Zori. One he honestly felt was wasted on them. Deadly weapons like themselves were for intimidation and killing, not gathering information. They weren't sneaky ninja.

They were bodyguards, thugs, killers! What part of their job description mentioned they were fit for boring chores such as gathering intelligence without causing any violence?

Well, Zori wouldn't have any trouble with such a task. He was professional like that. If you were to compare him as a weapon then he was the well-maintained blade designed for decoration but still capable of being unsheathed if he were needed to spill blood.

Waraji on the other hand?

Chipped.

Filthy.

Stained in blood splotches darkened into patches reminiscent of crusty rust.

A blade which never cared to be maintained or polished, caring only to be freed and carve into muscle and bone in wild, savage swings of weathered metal teeth similar to a wild dog's malnourished fangs.

If Zori was the common samurai blade carefully maintained and cleaned for proficiency then Waraji was the chipped butcher's cleaver that had never been cleaned and continued to chop meat with a frenzy.

A truly foul odor slithered into Zori's nostrils as he stopped at the corner of a dirt road by a run-down fruit stall made of wood and metal roof panels. Pools of red leaked from the stall. Another step forward and he found the culprit responsible for the grimace growing on his face.

"The hell does the idiot think this village is? He's own personal butchery? Honestly, Gato should have known something like this would happen when he sent out that sadistic killer. Then again, perhaps this was what Gato had planned."

Zori gave the poor soul who was laying face first on the ground a soft kick just to make sure he was truly gone. He was disgusted by what was left of the corpse that was already producing a foul stench. Any lesser human would have been retching at both the stench gathering a few buzzing flies to harvest the feast and the very sight of the butchered 'meat'.

Corpse was being kind. The large slab of profusely bleeding skin, muscle, bones, and fat would be better described as a carcass. Numerous slashes littered the body with the purpose of causing tremendous blood loss from vital veins being sliced through. Chunks of flesh were seen close to the body with a limb or two viciously chopped off. The victim had died a slow and agonizing death as they were butchered alive by a sadistic freak with a turn on for cutting up live flesh. From the position of the no longer human body, it appeared as if he had tried to run before the savage metal fang of a predator descended onto him with glee.

What a foul way to go.

Second body he discovered so far. A certain blood-crazed samurai must be having the time of his life right now. No doubt Waraji was slaughtering villagers left and right under some bullshit guise of demanding information in lieu of early weekly payments. Now the entire village was probably running for whatever crevice in this shit hole they could find to escape the Ronin Butcher of The South.

Of all the tools Gato had gathered in the last few years since arriving at the shores of Nami no Kuni, Waraji truly was the most ruthless in terms of violence.

Unlike the common thugs, bandits, and criminals who were hired with the promise of money, women, and power.

Unlike the Demon of The Mist who was hired to build the funds needed for his war chest.

Unlike Zori himself, who was a disgraced samurai from the cold mountains of Tetsu no Kuni searching for work.

The violence branded by Waraji was utterly senseless and depraved. From what Zori knew of the one-eyed sadistic freak, there was no true story or origin to the Ronin Butcher of The South's cruelty other than stories of his blood lust.

Not too long ago there were tales of a crazed, sadistic, and terrible demon who roamed the roads of the south. Travelers, merchants, civilians, even the occasional ninja were said to disappear on certain paths near small villages where the military might was said to be minimal. Stories of cruel and dark laughter, mangled and eviscerated corpses, pools of blood, and a lone man standing in the middle of the dirt roads with a sadistic grin and a samurai blade seeping with dark crimson.

He was simply a man with a samurai blade who once roamed the countryside, slaughtering travelers and traders on the road simply out of the desire to cut flesh

That is until Gato had picked him up. The billionaire had found something in the writhing malice, in the cruel darkness garnering pleasure from cutting living flesh, in the once two eyes of a ronin who abandoned his bushido in favor of a life spent butchering random folk on the road. It was unknown how the short businessman who had yet to rise to his current state of power in the Elemental Nations had done it, but he had avoided being another pile of sliced flesh and taken Waraji from the dirt roads to become an even deadlier killing tool.

Waraji was a demon, a different breed among those who followed Gato's every word.

A breed different from Momochi Zabuza yet was the kind of beast who could easily be taken out by anyone who had undergone proper training in either taijutsu, kenjutsu, genjutsu, or ninjutsu.

Waraji truly only shined in an environment like Nami no Kuni which lacked a military force to fend off a blood-crazed beast like himself. And Gato absolutely understood how to play the ordinary yet deadly card to its fullest potential.

Zori clicked his tongue at the carcass at his feet.

Did Waraji even care about searching for information? From the severity of the wounds that were no different than bear victims; No was the unsaid answer.

"All that we're going to get out of this little moonlight walk is a pile of bodies. Even Gato's not going to be happy with this, no matter how that bloodhound spins it this time. Without information, even he's bound to be peeved." Zori sighed.

Not a villager in sight. So what was the point of sticking around? He had enough stink eyes from the villagers as is and he was considered the chill threatening, cruel, thug employed by a tyrant. Compared to the deviants and devils he worked with, he was the saint!

That said something right there.

Well, before he went back, it would be a good idea to reign in that savage sword hound. Maybe reeling Waraji back would earn him some brownie points from some pathetic villager willing to let tell him a share a piece or two about nosy ninjas?

"After that rank smell, I might as well take a few bottles of saki back to base. I'm sure the villagers won't mind missing a few cases after I flash my own steel as I'm dragging back that blood lapping meathead. Normally I'd play them in some blackjack and take their entire supply when I win, but I just don't feel like it today. Maybe I don't even need my katana? Waraji's snapping teeth are far more intimidating."

Zori continued his trek through the now empty village street, tapping his right hand on the hilt of his treasured katana as he passed over another slaughtered corpse in his path, wrinkling his nose at the female body glued to another stall by her blood.

Curiously, the further he followed the trail of corpses, the more he began to make out what he believed were Waraji's wild yells.

The hell was that idiot doing now?

[-]

The first strike came faster than Touma would have expected. Even if the katana's original length had been shattered to half its fatal frame, the jagged edge still flew out in a metallic flash.

Gritting his teeth, Touma leaped back to put as much space as possible from the rampaging, grinning, sadistic eye-patch wearing samurai. The wall of some shop hit his back. His quick reaction allowed him to evade what appeared as a single downward slash. Three slashes took their place later, tearing and gouging the side of the vendor shop with the frenzy of a rampaging beast as he dived to the right.

Another flash of steel sang in the air, aiming to lob off Touma's head in a single stroke as he stood up. The chipped steel would have struck a fleshy pipe of crimson oil if it wasn't for the spiky teen ducking low. Losing its target, the broken samurai blade instead carved into the wooden stall behind Waraji's prey.

Without missing a beat, Touma tucked his body and charged into the abdomen of the ronin/pirate, ramming his shoulder in the center of the brute's chest before he could spin around and flash his katana. Brute force and kinetic energy pierced the deadly swordsman's chest; spit flew out of his gasping mouth. A shower of broken wooden boards hit Touma as he sent his opponent crashing through the weakened stall.

The small stall, whose original purpose was to sell worn and poorly made clothing, collapsed. Broken wooden planks and the very roof of the small stall made to house one man working by himself fell upon the deadly ronin in a shower of jagged wood.

A pile of rubble buried the sadistic freak with the snaps of wooden planks.

Touma wanted to breathe a sigh of relief. A normal person who had fallen to such a situational hazard would be knocked out and possibly left critically wounded from all the debris landing atop of them. For just a second, his grip on the wooden club relaxed.

A chipped and cracked blade erupted out of the stall's grave.

Laughter resembling a crazed demon rang out as the bleeding and bruised beast sprang out of the rubble with a wide grin on his face.

Touma's body regained its tense posture as he watched the sadistically grinning ronin sheath his broken blade.

Iaido.

The Art of The Quick Draw.

A wild frenzy of incredibly quick slashes was unleashed like a hail of gunfire by a broken fang.

Nicks ripped randomly over Touma's body as he did his best to evade the laughing sadist's incredibly quick slashes. Blood could be seen spurting out of the shallow cuts he suffered. Even when the beast's weapon was only half its original length, the ronin could still perform incredibly quick slashes? Just how deadly would he have been if Touma hadn't broken the blade?

A crescent arc of steel would have split Touma down from head to toe if it wasn't for his foot catching onto the body of one of the knocked out grunts. He tripped, falling over the grunt and into a roll. He stopped on all fours with a gasp as his hands curled into the dirt for support.

The missed downward slash struck the earth with the force of a sledgehammer, splitting the dirt with a savage scar. Waraji licked his lips hungrily, eyeing the panting spiky teen clutching onto a club with wary eyes.

"Tired already? Ah, don't be like that! Don't take the fun away from me this early in the fight! I've only just begun wetting my tongue!"

Pleasure was found in the pupils of the happily grinning one-eyed pirate/ronin freak.

God damn sadistic pervert! Couldn't he allow this average Kamijou-san one moment to catch his breath?!

Clicking his tongue, Touma rolled to the side to avoid the broken katana from nailing his spine from above. Dirty left hand clenched tightly, he met Waraji's next swing with an unfurling swipe of his fingers. Powdered spears of brown earth speared the man's vision in a splash of dirt. Blinded by the sneak attack, Waraji found himself stumbling back with a pained roar.

Touma saw an opportunity to strike. Rearing the stolen studded club in his right hand far back, he smashed his blunt instrument into Waraji's abdomen. Hard wood designed to deal devastating blunt trauma met flesh and harmed organs via kinetic energy. Spit flew out of the gasping ronin's mouth before he found several more swings raining down upon him. Each blow knocked the shirtless samurai around before a dirty left fist knocked up against his chin to stumble him back.

Waraji's vision swam, he felt ugly welts growing on his skin, and he believed a rib or two may have been cracked from the first landing blow. Teeth were painted red.

Never less, a bloody feral grin grew on Waraji's red watered eyes as he rounded on Touma with a blood thirsting laugh. His own fist smacked into the wooden frame of Touma's club just as the next swing arrived. The attack was strong enough to push the spiky-haired teen a fair distance away, allowing Waraji to rush forward with a blood-curdling cackle.

Touma grit his teeth. He couldn't panic now, he had to follow the jagged katana's spearing path and counter correctly.

The one-eyed pirate/ronin was the worst enemy type Touma could have ever encountered. An opponent who didn't rely on flashy tricks, otherworldly miracles derived from myths or religion, or a supernatural power created from the laws of their own micro-universe. Compared to the likes of Fiamma of The Right, Magic God Othinus, or the Level-5s of Academy City, the sadistic ronin was far more terrifying to simple Kamijou.

Unlike said opponents, the one-eyed butcher relied on brute strength and a weapon. Neither of them relied on anything supernatural in origin. Just like the soldiers employed by Roberto Katze who had easily subdued a high school student bearing his fangs against the world for a single girl, Touma was facing an enemy who fought with ordinary talent anyone could attain and trained to kill with either their bare hands or a weapon.

In a fight between a ronin and a high school boy from another world, the winner was obvious.

Waraji would be the undisputed winner.

Brutish as he appeared, demented as he appeared, and cruel as he appeared, the man was still a trained swordsman who proved he wasn't as easy to knock down as the many magicians, espers, and thugs Touma had fought thus far. Even with the ronin/pirate's primary weapon reduced to half its length, his depth perception lacking as he fought with only one eye, and the lack of protection on him, the ronin was incredibly powerful. He was the type of enemy class the boy with Imagine Breaker always struggled to overcome no matter how hard he fought back.

A professional fighter who didn't rely on supernatural phenomena to crush his opponents. Hard-earned skill and talent through normal means unaffected by a right hand capable of dismantling even the system and laws of God. The worst kind of opponent for a boy who was a complete amateur when it came to fighting in any legitimate martial arts discipline.

Fact was accepted at face value here; between the two fighters, it was Waraji who would win, hands down.

But the weak weren't powerless and helpless against such a foe.

Yes, even this amateur whose fighting skills were born from back-alley brawls still had a chance in scoring a win.

Victory wasn't promised. The odds weren't stacked completely against him. Even if the margin for winning was as low as a measly 3%, it was, none the less, still a possibility even this unfortunate low leveled high school boy could grasp with bloody hands!

This was a 1-on-1 fight. His odds weren't zero. A percentage of victory could be found if he simply thought things through and observed his opponent for any weakness he could abuse to the fullest extent this shitty high school boy from another world could use!

'Despite how much the Pirate/ronin makes himself out as a meathead, he's fast. Really fast. I can only guess the reason why most of his swings have missed is due to him not being accustomed to his katana's normal length. If I hadn't broken his sword, I'm sure I would have come back to Tsunami in soggy red rags; If I made it out alive.'

Being weak came with its advantage.

Arrogance did not cloud his judgment. He wasn't reliant on some great power capable of rending the tips of mountains. His options could always evolve and grow through every failure he endured. His deck of tricks had no limit, no capacity, and couldn't be broken by one OP card his opponent played.

Imagine Breaker may have been his Joker, but it wasn't his only card!

So long as he could continue moving, fighting, and thinking, he could score a win against even opponents who could curb-stomp him in seconds flat!

Relying on his instincts, Touma charged straight at the spearing broken point with his club heading his attack. Steel and wood collided, leaving the katana to sink into the club.

Waraji's maddening grin nearly ripped his cheeks apart as he once again failed to cut down his opponent. The quaking of his blade traveling to Touma's club wasn't born out of frustration or anger.

It was excitement.

Weak prey that did more than fight back but actually survive? Nothing got Waraji's blood pumping fiercer than such a tasty treat!

Beautiful woman forced to their knees? Rich saki fit for daimyos? A mountain of Ryo drizzling in gold coins?

Screw such useless bullshit! The thrill of a fight, the sound of flesh being cut by cold steel, the scent of blood spraying every which way! Ahhhhhhhh~!

"Kami, is this fight seriously turning you on right now!? I'd rather you come at me with that jagged hunk of steel than that fatal weapon!"

Taking advantage of Waraji as he savagely ripped his katana out of the club sheath, Touma pushed his club's point forward once the blade had left. The hard wood smashed into the ronin's pectoral with enough force to send his body stumbling back with a pained grunt. Touma kept on the attack, delivering a barrage of wild swings that further stunned Waraji. Each hit struck with a meaty thwack as he hit the one-eyed demon's ribs, face, arm, stomach, and chest before Waraji planted a foot deep into Touma's lower abdomen.

Touma rasped hoarsely as he was sent reeling only for his opponents rough hand to catch the neck of his sleeve-less vest shirt.

Waraji grinned amid the smears of blood and bruises forming on his face, "Good, good! Don't stop, not yet! Let's keep the fun going as long as we can, boy! I wanna milk as much blood from my new favorite punching bag as much as possible!"

Touma spat in Waraji's face. Strangely, it served to rouse the bloodthirsty man's excitement further.

In order to extend their fight as much as possible, Waraji ignored his cruel chipped blade to equip his bare fists. To payback the earlier rain of blunt trauma, he treated Touma with right fist after right fist smashing into his body, holding the boy in place as he gave him thrashing. Each blow that echoed at the sound of flesh being pounded was a euphoric melody that he didn't want to end. He couldn't help but be lost as he rattled the spiky-haired boy black and blue.

Which was why he didn't see the kick to his groin when it landed.

"FFFUUUUUUUUUUUUCCCCCCCKKKKKKKKK!"

No matter how powerful, crazed, demonic, or well-tempered the man was, all would fall to their knees equally when their family jewels were struck so ruthlessly.

Touma panted heavily as he was let go, stumbling as his vision swayed amid the many aches throbbing angrily.

Honestly, he wasn't able to make heads or tails of the world around him. His head was growing a splitting headache from the beating he just took. Various stings from the cuts and nicks he suffered cried. Every new wound emitted an unpleasant heat. All he wanted was to fall back and clutch his entire body as he writhed and scream from the pain he was assaulted with. Without a doubt, a few of the stitches on his back from his fight with Momochi Zabuza had snapped. Blood soaked his sweaty back.

Yet something invisible the spiky teen had taken a hold of echoed in his right hand, forcing the boy to openly clench his teeth. He cleaned his bloody lip, spitting a red glob to the side before taking a strong double-handed grip of his club.

He had to wonder if this world of supernatural ninja had baseball. If not then this was going to go down in history, surely.

Batter up!

After digging in his feet for the wind-up swing, Touma struck the agonized faced Waraji's as if he were a baseball. His newly minted bat smashed into Waraji's face with the sound of bone and wood thickly clapping together. A spurt of blood splashed against the club as the eye-patch samurai was lifted off his knees to fall back to the ground with a gurgled howl.

Touma nearly released his grip of his weapon as he watched the ronin roll around in tremendous pain.

Did that do the trick? Did the Kamijou Home Run Special deliver the critical hit he was waiting for? Because he refused to keep fighting some sadistic kink loving freak caught between three archetypes! He winced at the sudden sharp pain spreading over his face, no doubt from the punches to the face.

Tsunami wasn't going to be pleased with all the red now staining his clothes. He wouldn't be surprised if the youthful mother gave him a stern lecture with a pinched ear stretched like taffy.

A frightening whistle of steel was heard.

Something, a tendril of palpable blood-lust, pricked his very core.

Suddenly, without warning, Touma's leaned his head to the right. His eyes grew wide as he felt a slight gust tickle the side of his face. Strands of hair flew to follow with the wind, snipped from his spikes by whatever had nearly been a melee head-shot, and sliced his cheek with a thick trail of blood seeping down to his chin. Whatever the deadly 'bullet' had been, he had noticed it had a familiar glint.

'Don't tell me; the katana shards?!'

Waraji was back on his feet, sporting a massive, bloody bruise over his face like a mask. Even after suffering such a direct physically traumatic blow to the face, he was still conscious?

No, what was truly terrifying about the samurai's quick recovery wasn't that he was still more than eager to fight but his face.

It was the face of the cruel and giddy butcher whose thirst for violence devoured all sense of pain.

The single visible eye in the demon's eyes burned with a deranged light. He panted as if he was on the verge of something euphoric about to release. A sickening sense of excitement caused the wounded body to visibly tremble.

The grin on the one-eyed pirate/ronin's face didn't dim, growing further to resemble some nightmarish horror who would stop your heart with fear at just a peek of his creepy wide, blood-stained teeth. The shards of his katana were tossed casually in his open right palm as if they were innocent jacks to play with a childhood friend. A malevolent aura of blood-lust could actually be felt and made Touma shudder.

This...this was a different cloak of blood-lust when compared to Momochi Zabuza's.

"A-aaaaaaaaaaaahhhhhh~! That's the good stuff~!"

Even if the razor-sharp remains sliced his hand, Waraji handled them no differently than shuriken or kunai as he flung the metal bits at Touma. The newly acquired weapons were a surprising element Touma wasn't ready to dodge, opting instead to guard the important vital of his body with his club. The shards dug into the frame with deep impacts, leaving the sharp steel jutting out.

Wooden Stud Club has Evolved!

Kamijou Touma has acquired Wooden Spike Club+!

It was a distraction though, serving its purpose as Waraji ran at the defending Touma. The samurai jumped high into the air, falling back over Touma's body like a shadow with his broken blade swinging down like an ax against a log. Touma thought quickly, rolling underneath the airborne samurai. A cloud of dirt was kicked up from the powerful downward slash as Touma spun around. With the addition of a stabbing element to his club, he struck Waraji's back collar to deal greater damage.

Even if he had to break a limb, spill blood, or even break his opponent's teeth in all, so long as he could put an end to the fight, he would play whatever violent combos he could to win!

In the haze of roaring violence and blood, he felt as if someone who understood him had something to say about equipping such deadly claws against his opponent.

Waraji screamed for the first time in their fight. Even he couldn't ignore various sized metal shards sinking into his back to sever all manner of muscles and nerves. The back of his sword-wielding hand spun back, backhanding Touma's face. The blow pushed Touma back with a pained cry as he let go of his weapon.

Grunting hoarsely, Waraji yanked the annoying spiked club still hooked to his back and tossed it aside with a satisfied bloody smirk.

Touma blinked as his vision swam. That last hit just aggravated the hits to his head more. Just his luck too; his best chance of keeping the samurai distanced was now out of reach. Meaning that he would have to take on a far stronger opponent with his bare fist as always.

It came without warning.

Pain lanced out of nowhere from Touma's side, disorienting him as he found his eyes picking out the culprit of his newest injury. A cold sensation dug into his left side, ripping skin like a wet paper towel.

One of the shards had been saved and fired to pierce dangerously close to his liver. If it had been any wider or longer, it would have done some serious damage. His trembling left hand poked at the four-inch metal piece sticking out like a bloody nail, causing him to inhale sharply. To add insult to injury, his sharp breath irritated his strained chest to nearly buckle him. Blood was spat out as he coughed hoarsely.

Coughing up blood was a serious alarm. Something inside him had been damaged. And the realization caused a chilling bolt to strike his heart.

Sadly there wasn't a chance to deal with any of his injuries as Waraji rushed in with series of crazed swings. Touma fought the aches as he ducked beneath a beheading swipe of his neck, rolled to the far right as Waraji changed up his attack to slam his blade down, and leaned back as far as he could as the manic grinning samurai jammed his sword's broken tip up at a ninety-degree angle designed to stab at his jugular. Finding an opening, Touma acted fast to catch Waraji's wrist, catching the one-eyed ronin off guard.

He didn't let go, locking his grip with all the strength he had.

All manner of pain assaulted Touma due to the collection of wounds he garnered in a simple street fight with a maniac. His mind was screaming at him to collapse, to cry at the agony he had endured and blood he had lost, and to escape the origin of all his aches and pains. Something inside his fragile body had been struck and caused blood to leave his mouth.

Yet…

Touma grinned fiercely.

This was it.

Did the brutish beast wielding a chipped fang not realize it? Did that idiot truly believe adrenaline and blood-lust would be enough to keep him charging ahead with a grin on his bloody face without consequence? Hadn't he wondered?

Kamijou Touma should have died by now. Against such a poor opponent who outclassed this average boy, Waraji should have already walked away with a butchered carcass left behind.

But he had suffered injuries in their fight too. His incredible speed had taken a hit. His swing were less calculated than in the beginning when one slash was actually three slashes. The ronin was growing sluggish and going full brute. Touma hadn't been the only one collecting a pile of wounds in their exchange of claws and fangs.

And while Touma was equally wounded, he hadn't lost focus. All this time, he had been searching for a chink in the armor of the monster he was facing. He was waiting to discover that single hole he could cruelly rip into without restraint. He never gave into the pain, he never gave into his anger, he never gave in to the thrill of the fight, or collapse to his knees in fear of the demon butcher's broken cleaver.

Throughout this entire fight, he remained determined on defeating this one roadblock and fulfilling that main character's wish!

Touma's left arm bulged as he put in all his strength in forcing Waraji's sword wielding arm over his shoulder before his right arm joined in. Muscles were expanded far beyond their limit by the damn breaking rush of adrenaline created by dopamine and epinephrine flooding his system. All his injuries were silenced in the uproar of his flight-or-die instincts activating for this one moment.

A jagged, broken blade was flipped in its wielder's grip and stabbed as deep as it could into Touma's left shoulder in a show of resistance.

The agony of metal ruthlessly jammed into tender muscles nearly broke his hold but the average high schooler fought past the gushing red wound as he pressed his back against Waraji's chest to clench the grapple technique he had in mind.

All his strength, all his focus, every fiber of his being and his very heart was channeled into this one card!

"JUST FUCKING GO TO SLEEP, YOU BLOOD CRAZED FREEEEEEEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAKKKKKKK!"

An old and reminiscent ember of the previous Kamijou Touma came into play as he utilized every muscle fiber in his beaten body to lift and flip the stunned adult over his back for a mighty shoulder throw commonly found in judo. The roar rushing out of his throat strained his vocal chords as he slammed the heavier, stronger, monster of a ronin onto the ground with an explosive resounding boom strong enough to kick up the dirt of the street.

A spurt of blood spread across his face from the lodged shattered katana corked in his left shoulder.

A spurt of blood further bloodied the metal shard nailed in his side and close to his liver.

The pure physics, power, and force of the grappling throw dealt a devastating amount of damage to Waragi's punished back. Every muscle in the eye-patch wearing ronin was screaming bloody murder as he laid flat out on the ground with a hoarse gasp. A twitching eye stared up at the sky as the iris of single orb swam around without focus.

He couldn't move. It was difficult enough to catch his breath after it had been driven out. Spasms and jerks from his muscles were felt with painful clarity.

It was over

[-]

And yet…

Waraji found strength to stretch his mouth impossibly wide with a euphoric, tooth chipped, red copper stained grin.

"Y-Yes~! This f-feeling of...ecstasy! The thrill of pounding bodies, tearing muscles, splashes of blood, and screaming! I simply can't live without it! I can't stop! I can't, I can't, I can't, I CAN'T!"

Whatever bloody, broken, mess his body was in, Waraji demanded it arise even as his broken body quivered. He gnashed his teeth together, never letting go of his excited grin as he fought to rise off his back to continue the fun.

Touma was disgusted and horrified to see such a manic figure refuse to stay down even after breaking his back. He heard the snap of several spinal columns giving out. He knew that the insane killer shouldn't have the strength to even stay conscious!

It was like watching a mangled corpse rise up from the grave. Defying basic logic, Waraji forced his body to stand up with pure willpower driven by a dark obsession for violence.

"Please! Don't stop! I have yet to even carve your resilient flesh with some lovely grooves! It's been so long since I found such a worthy prey to butcher to pieces! The very thought that our good times is going to end just makes me want to prolong the fun even longer!" Blood seeped off Waraji's chin, spilling onto a puddle at his feet as he forced his mouth to speak his heart's sadistic desires.

Touma couldn't stand the sick sight of a man pushing his body through such torture. For what? To satisfy a twisted desire of cruelty that robbed others of their own lives?! Had Gato's influence warped him into this devilish beast?

Just what the hell was the point of all this bloodshed?!

"Just what the hell is this going to accomplish?! You can't tell me that killing for Gato is worth a mangled body! No amount of Ryo he's paying you can be worth your own health or the happiness of others affected by that bastard! What reason could be worth all this?"

"Killing...for Gato? The happiness of others? My reason" Waraji paused with a soft mutter.

Touma nodding, glad he was getting through by the look of confusion.

Swiftly, the confusion gave way to a disturbingly cruel and gleeful grin.

"Who the hell cares about either?! Do I need a reason to kill people?"

Waraji threw his head back with a demented laugh, one lacking anything kind or gentle to his character.

The very sound cruelly stepped over an ordinary high school boy's heart and crushed something pure in his core.

Someone as empathetic as him, who had fought countless phases against a God and yet had decided to shield said very being from the devouring malice of the entire world out of the name of justice despite having suffered out every manner of cruelty intent on breaking his mind and heart, had a rather innate gift to pick up on a person's own emotions. Perhaps it was because he had soaked in an untold degree of malice from those who had been absorbed in their own twisted illusions that he had come to gain such a unique gift in being able to eventually understanding those who he had once fought. Whatever the reason, with enough time, with enough pressure, with enough words, even a high school boy could come to breaking through the darkness in a great villain's heart and save them in some way.

Which was why the empathetic boy found himself failing to make a connection to the one-eyed butcher who so easily denied his attempt without so much as a twitch to his core.

There was nothing broken in the ronin's voice, no hidden tragedy, no cry for help buried where light could touch. Instead, what Touma had felt from the voice of the happily grinning man painted in the blood of those he selfishly murdered in the name of someone else, was a cruelty not tethered by a past failure or sense of grief or loss. Unfiltered, pure, and concentrated blood-lust born from a simple joy in causing harm to innocent people was what the high school boy who wished to see every one, even the very people who had beaten him into a red pulp, walk away from their ordeals with a smile on their face, had come across.

Pure sadistic glee for cruelty. There weren't any excuses made to forgive the ronin's want for hacking away at Touma's being.

Waraji clawed at his blood-stained eye-patch, seeming to find pleasure as his nails raked against where his empty socket was hidden. A pink tongue poked out, lapping the copper flavored liquid streaming down his face with hunger.

"I'm not like the other trinkets of intimidation Gato hoards around him for safety! And I'm nothing like that softened Demon of The Mist who kills only for paper to fund some stupidly failed rebellion! I don't have any need for money, praise, worth, woman, fame, or power like the rest. I kill simply because it's fun! Honestly, do I need any other reason to kill?"

Something snapped.

Something undeniably kind.

Touma bared his teeth furiously, "For fun!? That's what drives you to kill innocent people who are just trying to live their lives in peace?! You don't need any other reason to kill? What bullshit is that?! You can't honestly believe causing senseless bloodshed for your own amusement is anything worthy of a smile!"

"Of course! How else am I to cure my boredom? How else can I smile honestly? Nothing gets my blood rushing more than hacking away at whatever prey that catches my eye! I've tried it all, stealing, drinking, putting woman to their knees for my pleasure, and drugs. But in the end, I can only experience that great euphoric sensation to my core when my katana slices flesh to make a gorgeous sound. And it only grows more intense when I get to whittle down a strong prey's flesh down to the very bone and marrow! It's why I agreed to work for Gato!" Waraji cackled cruelly.

His eyes were alight with a disgusting beacon of darkness born of the cries of pain and blood of others painting his skin. There wasn't anything remotely human in those wide orbs hungry for violence.

"In exchange for protecting the greedy midget, I can sate my blood lust whenever I please! He sees it as spreading fear into the pathetic pigs, to let them know that The Butcher of The South has free will to sharpen his blade on those who oppose him slightly! Even better, I can simply have my way with them as I please with an excuse to Gato that they refused to pay! Under such fear, such oppression, such cruelty, such despair, I'm delivering the harshest of rain to grow those very rare rebellious seeds into worthy fruits ready to be plucked apart!"

Waraji's breathing was labored from a mix of agony and excitement. Even though he lacked his favorite butchering tool, he made to move and continue his sating battle with the most succulent of fruit born in the cruel bed of Nami no Kuni.

"The splash of blood from weak and strong prey is what makes me truly happy! There's nothing more to it! A hidden tragedy? Abuse by those who loved me? Some inferiority complex or mental disease? A desire for someone to save me? I don't possess such weak excuses to be who I am! A butcher who flays flesh of the weak and strong! As long as this nation is controlled by Gato, I can have as much fun as I like with these fools! And no one can stop me!"

Touma refused to meet those violence craving eyes. His knuckles cracked loudly as his molars were gnashed in an attempt to prevent his rage from erupting.

Within that butcher's grin, nothing but a deep abyss of hungering madness raged to strike at those suffering souls who had lost the will to fight. Such a freak was hired by Gato knowingly? Every day those of Nami no Kuni had to endure such evil and even die when they cooperated? Even now a man's own wife and daughters were being held hostage by those who wouldn't hold their own end of their promise. Because of the lack of will, fighting spirit, or hope in anyone ignoring the ever-present cruelty, the innocence of three family members was going to tainted.

In Nami no Kuni, they would just be another pair of soundless cries washed away in the toxic tide of misery.

This...this was the twisted reality born by Gato's own greed?

It was no wonder five people were already dead among countless others.

It was no wonder Tsunami had lost the ability to smile honestly before.

It was no wonder Inari didn't believe in heroes.

It was no wonder Tazuna was risking his own life to save his people who had given up.

It was no wonder Hatake Kakashi had decided to continue the mission with his wet-behind the ears students.

And it was no wonder…

SNAP!

Once again, something undeniably kind and gentle snapped.

And no one, no one who understood him or loved him with a perfect memory to never forget, was there to repair the broken thread.

"You...YOU BAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAASSSSSSSSSSTTTTTTTTTTRRRRRRRRRDDDDDDDDDDDD!"

Kamijou Touma snapped.

A dark rage of pure bubbling violence had fueled Touma's howl as he ripped the katana plugging his shoulder wound off. He ignored the gush of blood in favor of rearing his right fist back and ran forward. His fist was clenched with all his remaining strength to do more than deliver one punch.

Those once empathetic deep blue eyes were dyed with something ugly, lacking anything so pure.

Darkness met darkness.

The vile cruelty and rage wasn't anything new and surely wasn't born due to being lost in stranger tides.

There had been times before where the very violence Touma had used in the name of someone's happiness had burned and churned so deeply it had consumed him. Aureolus Dummy, The Terrorist aboard the Skybus, moments where he had faced truly despicable and evil figures that had gone as far as to break the kindness in his heart. He was only a normal high school student who couldn't even be distinguished from any other in an afternoon crowd. He wasn't without his own faults and loss of composure.

He was no saint.

He was no hero.

He wasn't a boy who could be considered respectable.

In the face of such deep, selfish, honest evil, he couldn't help but lose his original self.

Or perhaps...this was the Kamijou Touma born in the shadow of the original who found the malice he constantly absorbed rooting in his borrowed heart?

Maybe this was simply another aspect of who Kamijou Touma truly was.

The punch he was going to deliver wasn't going to be the last. Over and over again, he was going to smash his knuckles into the sick freak's ugly mug until there was only a mushy red paste swimming with chunks of bone. He didn't care about his wounds in the slightest. In the back of his mind, a foggy reason for his anger fought to push through the haze of malice he was enveloped in.

Something invisible and kind in his right hand was pulverized and forgotten for a far more despicable power.

He wasn't going to stop until he pulverized whatever remnants of the bastard into absolute oblivion!

Waraji welcomed the vengeful boy's rage with open arms. His own quaking hand was raised, clawed to gouge the succulent fruit until he was bathed in the juices of a worthy prey!

"YES! Forget about everything else and just go wild! Show me a real fight I can enjoy to my heart's content! The warm-ups over with! Now, let's tear each other ap-!"

His jaw was nearly torn off by the cinder block of a fist smashing directly into his jawline. A devastating tremor traveled from the ordinary fist and plowed into his very thoughts. It felt as if his entire brain stem trembled like a gong.

He could hear his very jaw dislocated off its hinges along with a single crack spreading into branches to fracture his chin bone.

One punch from a fed-up boy had nearly shattered his jaw to jigsaw pieces.

Waraji was finally put down as he lost consciousness due to the excruciating pain that blew up to swallow his thoughts. The single punch's impact was no different than a direct hit from an exploding tag. By the time his blood wet, bruise meshed, broken back hit the ground he was completely out. The only motion from his nigh mangled body was the occasional muscle twitch from his twisted face.

The fight between a Ronin butcher and a rebellious 'villager' was over.

[-]

...

...

A quaking foot took a single step to the unresponsive ronin.

Touma stumbled forward, gripping his left hand over his face as a savage growl slipped out of his openly clenched teeth. His right hand was trembling, the knuckles torn and seeping with blood. It was taking whatever remained of his normal self to chain back that dark side of him that screamed at him to walk over to the knocked out freak and cave his face in.

To break his bones.

To tear open his body.

To spill his blood.

To snuff out the sickening thing that derived pleasure and an honest, twisted smile from robbing the smiles of normal people.

'Don't do it.'

A muted hiss entered this world similar to the sound of a propane vale loosened.

'Don't fall deeper into the seething red.'

A devilish cracked line ran along the torn knuckles like the skin was made of porcelain.

'If you give in just once, you can't ever return to the same spot in that normal life you treasure so dearly!'

Two faces pierced the veil of anger and hate. The face of former war god turned fairy. The face of a silver-haired Sister with over a hundred thousand grimoires memorized to the letter.

Before any more of that invisible presence could be seen, the crack lines receded before they could crawl over Touma's shoulder. The growing hiss of pressure carefully shut off. With shaky lips, he breathed.

It was over. The samurai was put down. And for the moment, no one was in danger. Briefly, he relaxed his aching muscles as he exhaled loudly in the aftermath of a grueling fight with one of Gato's men.

In the back of his mind, he thought it was terrifying to realize just how easy it was for him to overcome his own blood-lust like the switch of a light fixture.

What hurt more than the newest wounds on his body? It would be the realization that this one thug probably had nothing against Momochi Zabuza. A normal high school student had just barely squeaked by a fight in the streets. And he had nearly lost his original self to the small darkness originating from an even greater monster. He was in for a far more deadly and vicious fight in the future.

"Sector-D, right? If I remember correctly, the hideout's straight ahead from the village square. Hopefully, all I've got to do is head straight or this tired Kamijou-san's going to have to stop for directions. Knowing my shitty luck though, I just might get lost."

Everything hurt.

The previous wounds he had suffered at the hands of Momochi Zabuza were drowned out by those inflicted by Waraji. He wasn't sure he could do anymore. His thoughts were ajar with various signals from his body screaming of the damage ready to swallow him into the black.

But there was no time to sit down and lick his wounds. There was no time to be ashamed he had nearly stepped over a line he never hoped to cross. He didn't care about the horrifying crack which had nearly released an even greater horror than the sadistic freak he had knocked out. A mother and two daughters were being held captive by the very same like-minded bastards as Waraji. He couldn't slack off now. Not until he brought back those three suffering girls with a pure smile greeting their worried father/husband.

Something invisible was handed over to this secondary character and he refused to let it slip from his bloody fingers again. He wouldn't crush it ever again.

Touma dragged his trembling foot step by step. Straight forward with no hesitation, he walked along to the beat of his own heart even as his vision grew spotty.

All while ignoring the high pressured hiss escaping his right hand.

[-]

CRACK!

A great cage rattled with a ferocious roar.

The damaged bars creaked further.

_leaked.

[-]

"What's going on, Kakashi-sensei? All the villagers seem rattled."

The workday had come to an end for those working under Tazuna to build the bridge reaching the mainland of Nami no Kuni. An orange glow was beginning to slowly set over the horizon of the impoverished nation floating on the sea.

Which meant it was time for those brave souls to return to their families while on the lookout for Gato's thugs. As much as most of them wished to, they couldn't work until the dusk of night. Tired and fearful workers wouldn't have the energy nor the drive to complete the construction on time if they did. No, it was better that they all had their breaks. They deserved to enjoy their time with their families in hopes of returning to their once peaceful days.

Under the guise of the hour of the day when the foot traffic of the village was the densest, the workers of the bridge slipped discretely back into their regular lives. Which meant Tazuna was among those heading home for the day. He grumbled about wanting to stay a bit longer but knew better. If he rushed construction then everything he worked for would fall apart into the ocean waves.

Not to mention Kakashi needed to return to check up on his two male students. Naruto and Sasuke were no doubt running themselves ragged in their tree-climbing exercise. When he got to spying on them via Kage Bunshin no Jutsu, he would no doubt find them either glaring daggers at another mid-fall or growling at the other like dogs as they made their way up the tree's trunk.

The only one missing from the scene would be Sakura who Kakashi had decided to bring along in his guarding of Tazuna. She had mastered her chakra control so it was time she began experiencing what was to be expected from any future bodyguard assignments. She was a bright girl, albeit a Sasuke Fangirl, so she should be able to handle watching over Tazuna by herself from here on.

As he walked alongside said cherry blossom haired kunoichi, keeping Tazuna secured safely behind them, Kakashi had to nod his head. He was impressed that the girl had taken notice of the odd behavior of the villagers. Such insight could prove very useful in future missions.

"Normally the people are rather resigned and listless. The energy has always been low from what I could tell. But this is different. It's almost as if they've just seen a frightening event just transpire. Yet I can't say that they appear utterly terrified either." Kakashi mused as he continued gazing at the passing faces of the villagers as they made their way through the village square.

Those expressions didn't hold fear, despair, or dread. No, it was as if they were in...disbelief? As if that frightening memory they were replaying in their heads was far too unbelievable to have been real. He could even make out murmurs from a few of the villagers. What he picked out made no sense as he struggled to hear more.

Waraji? Early tax collection? Shinobi? Spiky-hair? Win? Bloody? Rescue?

Why was it that one of those words brought a frightening chill down his spine?

Tazuna was just as confused, his brow wrinkling as he lifted his straw hat to scratch his scalp.

"I can't tell what's gotten into everyone either. This is the first time I've noticed some of my neighbors and friends act so weird. It's almost as if they're too stunned to speak out loud. As if they did it would cement whatever the hell they saw."

The bridge builder's frown only grew deeper with concern as he picked out a familiar word.

"Sector-D? Why would they mention that place? No one dared to step foot there after Gato's grunts took it over for their own bullshit."

Sakura was just as confused as she tried to listen in to the many whispered conversations. All she could make out was that what she guessed was a fight had broken out. But why would a small brawl be a cause of such a widespread reaction? She couldn't help but feel an ugly gnawing sensation develop in her stomach the longer she kept her ears open.

It only grew more intense once she noticed the crowd in front of her begin to part. Were they steering clear of something? Wait, she was hearing more words clearly. Something about blood? Her emerald eyes roamed the street in an attempt to understand what was being said.

She got her answer when her gaze flicked down.

Beads of trailing dark red spoiled by dirt.

Splotches of dried blood were discovered the further they walked. Kakashi narrowed his visible eye, following the crimson bread crumbs that appeared to lead out further into the village. There wasn't a clear path since most of the trail had either been buried by dirt or ruined by passing villagers but it didn't take an amateur to understand what the drops meant.

An out of place element had revealed itself.

No different than a puddle found on a bright sunny day.

"Tazuna-san, where would you say this Sector-D can be located. Can you point us in the general direction?"

"Hmm? Sure, I suppose." Tazuna, who hadn't noticed the red trail around them, simply pointed his arm in the direction they wished to seek, "Sector-D can be found on the east of the village square. It's not that hard to reach, all one would need is to keep going right and you would reach Sector-D no problem. I'd advise against it though; Gato's men have taken it over as a mini-base of sorts to house a few of his men and his prisoners."

"Prisoners?" Sakura appeared distraught at the revelation.

"I don't like it any more than you. Originally, Sector-D was known as one of the many floodgate portions of the village that prevents the growing tides born during storms from tearing through the village section in question. We would house the laborers who are in charge of maintaining the gates in case of future heavy rainfalls, keep the lumber for repairs stocked, and even did a bit of fishing and hunting since the other side of the village was where the forest can be found. Hell, I was the original creator of gates from back in my youth." he said wistfully, "It was one of the first gifts born to protect this village before Gato got his hands on it. Now it's being used as no more than a camp for his goons. He keeps the hired killers under his payroll close to us and even goes as far as to keep prisoners there. Hostages, late payers, rebels, or woman and children; the bastards will make up whatever excuse to pick them up and drag them kicking and screaming with them. Sometimes for a fate far worse than death."

"A fate far worse than death?" Just thinking of what those poor villagers could be put through was enough to churn Sakura's stomach and paint her face green.

Kakashi nodded simply. He didn't show any signs of being sympathetic or disgusted with what Gato was doing with a section of the village designed to save lives, not torment them. He was far too busy putting the pieces he had on him together now that he knew what Sector-D was.

Waraji.

The name had been whispered with fear no different than how a child would flinch at the mention of a boogeyman or a villager from Konoha at the whisper of the Kyubi no Kitsune. It was possible the name was associated with a vicious thug employed by Gato.

Early Tax Collection. Tazuna had already explained to all of them of how Nami no Kuni was now run. One thing that had been said was Gato's enforcement of taxes, a collection fee to be paid every Friday promising that their lives would be left alone from the very unstable and cruel thugs his company hired. It was Wednesday though, so could it be possible that Gato was making an early collection run?

Shinobi. No need to ponder what it meant. Tazuna had hired a team of ninja from Konohagakure no Sato to act as his bodyguards until he completed his great bridge to escape Gato's control. In order to hire them, it had taken the gathered Ryo of the very village to afford what was surely a B to A-rank mission in the guise of a C-rank mission. Even Gato must have known of their arrival but little else.

And finally, there were the last three words that began to paint a blurry image.

A head of Spiky Hair, Bloody, and Win.

When everything was added together, he got the image of a thug going around making early collection fees. Since it must have been without notice knowing Gato's greed, there were probably those who couldn't pay up. Knowing this, the thug could have promised to overlook the lack of Ryo for any information that would benefit them concerning the ninja hired by Tazuna. A fight must have broken out, a bloody one at that, resulting in a victory that shocked all those who had either seen or heard.

Going off of all those bits alone, Kakashi surmised that the fight had gone in favor of the villager. Said villager must have been left bloodied, explaining the blood they were seeing now that lead in the direction of Sector-D; a part of the village known to have been taken over by Gato where prisoners of the village were being held for one reason or another.

Had it been a fight of nonpayment or revenge?

Either way, it was safe to say that the wounded villager was currently dragging their body to Sector-D in a last ditch effort to rescue a loved one.

'What a fool.'

POP!

"!?"

"Kakashi-sensei?"

Kakashi's eye flew open in alarm before settling as he massaged his temple. Nothing good came to mind as a certain rush of memories made themselves known to the groaning elite.

Truth be told, he had the previous Kage Bunshin who had been keeping an eye on his students return to the village for some recon. The clone minded itself with scouting the village for any sign of Gato's men waiting to ambush them in the shadows when they returned. The Kage Bunshin had hidden in the shadows to keep out of sight of any enemy eyes when he had heard about the earlier commotion.

A fight had broken out and the clone had spotted the victor make his way out of the village into the area now identified as Sector-D when things had calmed down. Who he had seen took the fake Kakashi back and lead him to confront the spiky-haired teen rushing over to an enemy camp.

The all foo familiar face of Kamijou Touma had nearly tripped as Kakashi's Kage Bunshin shunshin his way to appear behind the startled boy. Taken by surprise, it didn't surprise Kakashi that the clone's memories ended there. A right hand struck out to graze chin. Touma's Imagine Breaker destroyed his clone with just a touch to return the memories and experience it had gained back to its creator.

It was when Kakashi had been contemplating the origin of the blood splatters that his Kage Bunshi's past flew into his brain to notify him of the unfortunate situation at hand.

"...Damn it."

The plan had been to lay low, to avoid detection from Gato's men, and stay out of his radar for as long as possible. It was a strategy agreed upon by everyone despite how distasteful it was to swallow their emotions at the sight of Gato's men going about their cruel means about the village.

The fact that they hadn't been attacked in the last few days told Kakashi that the billionaire didn't have any other men in his payroll who could take on professional ninja, so they were safe from any other ambushes. Even Gato must have learned that Tazuna now had his own shield to protect him and was hesitant to attack. So as long as neither party poked at the other business, no more ambushes would be set up until the man's greatest weapon regained his splendor.

It was a strategy allowing them the greatest advantage to prepare for the rebirth of a Demon. Kakashi's students would be able to gain some much-needed experience before tackling such an over-leveled boss this early in their career. It would be utterly useless to move into action on any of Gato's bases right now. To do so would spark a stack of barreled gunpowder into a bursting shower of flames. The people of Nami no Kuni simply needed to endure the pain just a bit longer.

Sadly, Kamijou Touma hadn't gotten Kakashi's memo in time to stop himself from doing anything stupid. He had to give the spiky teen credit though. Even in the boy's state, he could still fight.

He was still an idiot though for rushing headfirst into one of the enemy's bases. And since Kakashi was, in a way, responsible for the older boy who had become a temporary part of their team, he couldn't in all good conscious leave him to the wolves.

'I suppose this will make for good practice for the rest of the team. Tree climbing is well good and all but they could use a little action to polish their combat skills against real opponents. With how low-level I'm guessing they are, I'm sure they'll be fine enough for even Sakura to take on.'

Narrowing his eye, Kakashi patted Sakura's shoulder as they moved them along.

"Listen closely, Sakura. Once we've returned to Tazuna's home, gather Naruto and Sasuke as quickly as you can! We don't have a moment to waste right now. The situation has turned dire and we'll have to move with haste to Sector-D. It seems we'll be learning how to properly enact a rescue mission when one of our own has been captured."

Everything in the field outside of Konohagakure no Sato was a chance for his students to grow. This was no different. It was time to reap some much-needed experience.

[-]

Touma's eyes fluttered only to immediately shut with a sharp wince. His vision stung terribly as if he had just had a hundred microscopic needles resting in his orbs before being plucked out. A constant ringing hit his eardrums that drove him to groan and squirm on the filthy dirt he was laying on by his side.

When the hell did his bathtub devolve into a dirt bath?

Wait, he hadn't slept in a modest bathtub in days since being exiled to the world of The Elemental Nations. This poor and grateful Kamijou-san had been experiencing the comforts of a simple futon courtesy of the beautiful mother known as Tsunami. It had been a while since he woke up with an aching back. What the hell gives?

It took him a bit but Touma began to slowly recall the events that would lead him to be incarcerated in the dingy makeshift cell of Sector-D.

[-]

It was incredibly painful and further straining the wounds he hadn't even bothered treating but Touma kept running straight ahead of the village square. His blood-stained appearance earned him a few stares from the villagers now free to walk without the threat of Waraji or his goons. He ignored them, focused entirely on his mission.

The man he had saved(Boshi, was it?) had begged him with blood flowing alongside his tears to save his family who had been taken hostage by Gato's men for information on the very ninja Touma had been taken in by. Using the last of his strength, the bloody pulp of a man had cried that he be the one to save them before they were subjected to a horrible fate.

Waraji was knocked out cold. Even if he did wake up, the broken jaw and numerous wounds he had suffered would get in the way. Any of the villagers could restrain him if he so much as buckled in resistance. Touma hoped they were smart enough to do just that as he had left.

Gato's men weren't a problem for now.

All that was left was to fulfill that crying man's wish.

Touma was panting harshly with every minute he was pushing his wounded body further along. He wasn't in the best of shape to pick another fight. In fact, one of Waraji's katana shards was still plugging up any more blood from gushing out. Every step he made was only aggravating it more that he nearly blacked out at some point.

Everything was pictured by a haze of pain.

Weirdly enough the deep stinging shrapnel had acted up when he thought he felt a tap on his back a while ago. He had swung his right fist back, believing it was an enemy who had been following after him.

Instead, all he had found was a puff of smoke.

He shrugged. He didn't have time to stop now. All that was keeping him going right now was pure adrenaline as always. He knew from plenty of experience that pausing would result in all his accumulated wounds hitting him at once.

Touma wasn't sure how long it had taken him to reach Sector-D, he didn't even know how he would tell if he had made it and not gotten lost instead, but he felt that the caged wall preventing anyone else from going forward and the armed thugs carrying sharp swords was a bit of a giveaway. He grit his teeth upon catching eye of security and taken to hiding behind an abandoned shop. A foul stench hit his nose.

Beneath his shoes, he felt a moist mush that made him sick.

'Are you kidding me right now?! Do these assholes seriously go wherever the hell they please!? God damn it! I'd rather I stepped in dog shit!'

Fighting the urge to vomit at what was most likely human feces and piss, Touma stepped further back to avoid detection. And to get as far away from the disgusting mess of someone's dinner and beer.

What was his next course of action though? He wasn't a one-man army killer like many of the opponents he had beaten down. Imagine Breaker was the only real weapon at his disposal. Unless he was facing opponents entirely reliant on their ninja magic, he wasn't hopeful about taking on more than two. Even less if they were any strong as Waraji had been. The cuts on his body were proof of that.

Maybe he could sneak his way in? There had to be some kind of hole in their defense that even an average high school student could abuse. His time running around in Russia had certainly helped to aid him in sneaking into places he wasn't allowed. Then again he had Lesser help out. If he was intent on infiltrating the enemy base then he would have to start with scouting the surrounding area.

It could be possible that there was a hidden passageway or concealed door that had been camouflaged with a jutsu. The ninja spells were no different than magician spells except they didn't rely on Idol Theory. That would make things much easier. All he would need to do was feel around on whatever spots he found suspicious and let Imagine Breaker reveal whatever it could discover.

Touma grinned determinedly. If he played his cards right then there would be no need to get into another fight. He may not have been trained in the ninja arts like Kakashi and the three kid ninjas he was training but this high school boy had his own handbook of tricks!

"Right! I just sneak around the perimeter and find a way in. Once I've broken inside, I just need to keep quiet and find wherever these bastards are holding Boshi-san's family captive. From there I'll need to evade all the guards, ease them along and escape without ever being noticed."

"Hmm, a good plan, good plan. I'm impressed you even made it this far to be honest. If I may though, I see only one fault in your brilliant little gamble."

Touma froze at the flat voice speaking from behind. An ominous click was all he heard before he spun around with a flying right punch.

Lazy, cold, and cruel dark eyes regarded him briefly before the samurai drew his katana with blinding speed and slammed the bottom hilt square in his strained chest. It was like an explosive bomb had gone off to disorient all his senses. Blood was spat out his eye began to roll to the back of his skull.

Than darkness was all he saw.

[-]

So his rescue plan had crumbled at the starting point.

"Such misfortune."

How didn't he sense anyone sneaking up on him from behind? Was it the shit and piss distracting him? Wait, did he fall on any? If the samurai bastard let him drop than Touma was going to make it his business to break his face as he saved Boshi's family. Well, after he miraculously undid whatever bindings were keeping his ankles, legs, arms, and wrists together. From the feel of the rough material that created a carpet burn sensation the more he struggled, it was definitely a garden variety rope.

From what he could tell as he regained his vision and thoughts calmed, he was left in a rather small cell with dirt floor, no toiletries, and thick metal bars separating the other cells alongside another. He only really noticed the ceiling and not much else as he turned his attention to freeing himself of the ropes.

Everything hurt. But instead of being swallowed by the blaring alarms of various fresh wounds(like the shattered fragment of a samurai's blade nailed into his abdomen)he pushed past the pain, biting the back of his teeth, and wriggled in an attempt to move around.

Shit, this common high school boy was incapable of breaking through rope. Even as he tried snapping his teeth in an attempt to bite through the rope over his chest, he couldn't graze his chin at the thread.

Where was his dearly beloved Index and her deadly pearly white jaws when he needed her?

"You might as well stop your struggling, kid. If the guards see you trying to escape in any way, they'll beat the shit out of you."

Touma paused mid-bite at the sound of another voice. He wasn't alone? Not like he checked to see if he was alone. The second he realized he was in binds he began to squirm around and wrestle with the rope. He would have been embarrassed if it weren't for the fact he was a prisoner rolling around the dirt with a plugged up hole in his side.

Rolling around until his face came to the origin of the voice, he noticed bare and dirty dark-skinned toes first. Against his better judgment upon realizing those feet belong to a female, his eyes traveled up to follow slim dark-skinned thighs to met his fellow cellmate. The woman appeared to be 5''8 with a very lithe body that reminded Touma of a gymnast. Her expression would have appeared sharp and cool if it weren't for the fading bruises on her face that spoke of a past beating. Her black hair was tousled, damaged with visible split ends from days of neglect that fell to her bare shoulders. Speaking of bare-

"Where the hell are your clothes?!" Touma squeaked.

He saw them. Perky milk-chocolate mounds that one would say weren't too big or too small; just right. A shaven valley that was whispered off only in legend by youthful boys as the final frontier of being arriving at the summit of manhood. It was all on display for this average high school boy with a healthy libido!

Just what the hell kind of ecchi bullshit event did he activate now?!

Touma was ready to shut his eyes to save face but found them only growing wide. His breath caught his throat, noticing the various bruises on the woman's body and dried cuts marring her skin from a variety of weapons. She appeared to have suffered a beating by various tools ranging from whips, clubs, knives, and bare fists. A sick thought crossed his mind as he truly noted her nakedness and the kind of demented bastards who were knowingly employed by Gato.

Anger overtook naive embarrassment.

The mystery naked woman smirked down at him, noting his livid expression with mirth.

"Don't go making up any sick fantasies, kid. I'm a kunoichi of a rather infamous nation; I'd sooner bite my tongue and drown in my own blood than let those sick shits have their way with me. And it's because of said rebellious spirit that's resulted in three of their thugs losing their life when they thought they could have a nibble that I'm black and blue." The dark-skinned kunoichi laughed hoarsely as she decided to sit against the wall of their cell. She winced from the feel of her back wounds hitting the dirty stone wall, "If it weren't for the binding seals binding both my hands and chakra, I would have slaughtered them all and escaped. Damn it, I didn't think they had a fuinjutsu specialist under Gato's thumb too. Nor did I think he had such a dangerous pawn as The Demon of The Mist guarding him. If I had known, I wouldn't have been caught off guard."

Touma scowled. It helped settled his anger a bit to hear that the woman hadn't been toyed with like a doll but it was still upsetting to see what they did to her. Just at first glance, he could see her face was swollen from being beaten by blunt trauma.

Judging by her voice, she probably hadn't had anything to drink either, much less eat. It was a testament to her resolve and willpower that she was even capable of complaining after what she must have gone through.

"This may seem like a dumb question considering the cell we're in, but where are we?" Touma asked. He could be shy and blushing like any idiot another time. The situation called for being collected and calm as he spoke to his naked fellow prisoner.

The female prisoner rose a brow at him, "Already gotten over seeing my tits and crotch? Color me impressed. You must have been through some shit too considering you're just as beaten as I am if you're not afraid to speak to me face-to-face."

Touma didn't react to the woman even as she stretched her back, pushing out her perfectly round and firm breasts. She couldn't help but scoff amusingly.

"Not even an uncomfortable wriggle of your hips, huh? Those leering thugs must have left me looking like shit if I can't even make a kid blush." Flinching from an ache on her bruised shoulder, the woman answered Touma's question flatly, "Welcome to Sector-D's Prison compound. If you're still alive than it's pretty obvious that you've been taken prisoner by Gato's Company for either ransom, information, treason, or hard labor. In the case of pretty much all female prisoners, like yours truly," she winked with a cold smile, "Sex slaves. Though that hasn't been officially decided since that short pig wants me to abandon my loyalty to my country to work for him. He's been trying to butter me up for a good week now and I think he's had enough after my latest middle finger.

Touma blinked.

Dark blue eyes gained an unusual light considering his circumstances.

"Sector-D's prison? So, this is where you could find anyone taken hostage by Gato, right? There aren't any other sites in Nami no Kuni where he would move prisoners for whatever reason?"

The kunoichi stared at Touma strangely, "I wouldn't say that. As small as Nami no Kuni is, there are still a number of smaller bases Gato's created from what I've learned of this past week. But this is the closest to his main HQ and his interests. If you're here than you're from the village close by, right? I'd say that's the same for everyone else locked up for whatever fucked up means that short pig's got."

"That's great!"

"...Wha?"

The naked kunoichi gaped at the busted lip, spiky-haired 'villager' jumping up to his feet with a wide grin. Where had all that energy come from? Didn't he realize that being incarcerated was kinda a bad thing?

Also, was that a bloody hole she was seeing on his side?

"That means I didn't have to go through the chore of sneaking in anymore! That thug themed samurai actually saved me the trouble of patting down every wall nearby. Still won't change the fact that I'm knocking out every tooth in that smug face of his when I see him. But I guess that's going to have to wait until I get out of this cell, huh?" Touma contemplated to himself, ignoring the weird stare the naked woman was giving him.

That was going to be quite the challenge.

Touma gave the cage door a few kicks, an action which garnered the attention of the other prisoners in the cellblock, and grunted as his injuries were agitated. He noted that while they appeared rusted, they wouldn't fall if he decided to deliver a few shoulder tackles to it. Even if he had use of his fists, the metal frame would only shudder. Struck by a sudden idea he spun around, facing his bound hands against the cell cage before feeling it around with a grimace due to his side screaming from the shard nearly puncturing his liver or gut.

"What are you doing?" The kunoichi said with an exasperated tone to the strange boy.

Touma grunted between his tightly roped hands touching whatever they could of the door and speaking, "Trying to see if there's some kind of jutsu keeping this door locked. If there's any jutsu in the metal that's helping to prevent anyone from escaping then all I need to do is have Imagine Breaker negate it. But I wouldn't be so lucky as to find such an easy out." he sighed in defeat.

At this point, it was the naked, fit and toned, kunoichi who was staring at Touma.

"Imagine Breaker?" she said slowly, frowning at what she had heard, "You said it could...negate jutsu? I thought you were a villager, not a shinobi. If they had known you could use jutsus, let alone your chakra, they would have applied the same seals as mine onto you."

Giving up with a grumble, Touma slid down against the cage with regretful defeat, "I wouldn't say I'm either. I'm more of a lost foreigner who found himself caught up in helping a small team of ninja protect an old man from a greedy billionaire. Not the first time I've found myself in this situation; sans the naked woman." he blushed lightly at last, "As for Imagine Breaker; it's not a jutsu and I can't use chakra. It's a special ability I'm kinda cursed with that allows me to negate, dispel, destroy, or cancel out anything supernatural like jutsus. If the cell, for example, was created using a jutsu or possibly made with chakra than all I would need to do is touch it with my right hand. Doesn't matter who made it or how strong its specs are, Imagine Breaker would shatter it." he explained rather casually.

For all intents and purposes, his right hand was nothing special in the everyday world. It wasn't some well-kept secret that was hidden underneath mountains of security. It certainly wasn't a power guarded closely to anyone's chest with the threat of execution if it were to be discovered. Which was why he never cared if someone were to ask him what was up with his right hand. Half the time people didn't believe him, the other half underestimated it.

A very unique margin regarded it as some incredible power when it was nothing more than a pain in his ass most times.

Plus, if revealing his only true card in his hand to a fellow captive could help them in any way, he was more than willing to explain its nature as best he could.

The kunoichi grew incredibly interested in what he had said. Did that mean he could be useful? She opened her mouth to speak but shut it once they both heard a heavy door slam shut.

It looked they were expecting visitors.

"Which cell is it that you threw him?"

"The one at the very end along with the Kumogakure kunoichi you've been keeping, Gato-sama. I thought he'd like to see what would happen if he denied your generous offer as she has."

"Clever thinking, Zori-san. I knew there was a reason why I preferred you over that lunatic, Waraji. Even better, we can entice the boy with a treat as well. I know plenty of men who would kill to get their hands on such an exotic woman for one night!"

A pompous laugh bounced off the corridor of cells growing closer to Touma. He turned around and stood back up, coming face to face with whoever came to speak with him. He blinked as he saw no one standing at his cell despite the fact he knew the footsteps stopped in front of him.

"Ah, a comedian then? You think this is funny, brat?!"

"Oh, you are here. Sorry, but I didn't see you down there, Midget-san."

"Midget, huh?"

The short man who reminded Touma strongly of a dressed up mole gestured his head at him. The samurai with sharp tattoo streaks running down his eye with the lazy, uncaring indifference proceeded to jut his sheathed katana into Touma's stomach through the space between the bars.

Incredible plain blared from the single blow. Blood slipped out of his open mouth as he wordlessly cried.

The dark spectacle man grinned cruelly as Touma stumbled back with a deep grunt.

"Let that be a bit of a warning, boy. Remember it well; I don't take lightly to insults or disrespect. If one doesn't bother to change their tone than I see no reason why the world needs to bother with one less annoyance. You're lucky to even be alive right now. If Zori had decided to cut your head off when he found you, I wouldn't have cared. I would have only been ticked off that he thought I would care to be notified of a bug he had stomped like some excited and expectant brat."

Touma glared at the short stature man as he coughed, specks of red flung with every hoarse cough.

"T-Than why didn't you? Not that I'm complaining that this Kamijou-san isn't swimming with the fishes but why am I even here? I thought mobsters killed their victims."

"Boy, do you even know who I am?"

"A mole-man that's surfaced from the depths of the earth's core to take over the world?"

Again, Zori's sheath welcomed a return to stabbing Touma's wounded stomach.

The short stature man in a wealthy suit shook his head as Touma doubled over in pain. He appeared amused with the lack of recognition and found himself chuckling to a joke no one else found funny. He wiped his eyes of a tear to grin at the grimacing 'villager'.

"You're living in my nation, boy, and yet you don't know who I am? Does the name Gato mean nothing to you?"

Gato.

Gato.

Gato.

Touma fell back into that haze of malice as he glared murderously at the very origin of Nami no Kuni's despair and suffering. He had heard that bastard's name plenty of times to have memorized it and associate it emotionally. To think he would already be meeting him this early.

The man who had stolen Nami no Kuni's resources. The man who had planted himself into its economy like a parasite to control every vein of transportation and naval business. The man who had bullied an entire nation's populace to give in to his demands or suffer horrible fates. The very monster who had been responsible for the death of countless lives.

Kaiza.

A lone name that stood out among all others who had been slaughtered by this man's corruption. A name that held great meaning to the widowed Tsunami who had recently gained back the ability to smile. A champion spoken of with great revere by a bony old man who continued to fight for a better tomorrow.

Standing in front of him, separated by simple steel bars, was the core of everything wrong with this small island nation. It was the ugly grinning short man who reaped the smiles of far too many people for a mere profit.

"That's more like it." Gato said smugly as he noticed the violent change overcome Touma's face, "Be grateful that the great Gato-sama is speaking to such a lowly peasant. You should do well to remember that very God who holds your pathetic life in his hands and decides your worth to his glorious nation. You just might live longer if you do."

Faster than Gato could see, Zori's sheathed grip flashed in front of him like a fan.

A wad of bloody spit was deflected.

"Feisty, aren't you?" Gato drawled flatly, "Just like our dear Kyofu-chan. Take her example to heart; disrespect of any kind will result in severe punishment. And any refusal to accept any of my kind, generous offers will be dealt with in your swift execution."

Kyofu? So that was the name of the naked dark skin-toned woman he was trapped with.

Good to know.

"What the hell do you want? If you haven't killed me than that only means you want something from me." Touma growled darkly.

Gato regarded Touma for a moment with a skeptical gaze. It was as if he was looking him up and down for something before shaking his head with a doubtful scoff.

"Tell me; is it true that you defeated one of my main bodyguards earlier? A shirtless gentleman with various tattoos, brown hair, carried a katana, very sadistic, and had only one eye and wore an eye-patch over the other; ring a bell?" he asked sternly with an appraising gaze.

The memory of the blood-thirsty ronin brought a distasteful grimace to Touma's face. Was this revenge for one of his goons? Why not kill him then?

Gato whistled. The face Touma was making served as an appropriate enough answer.

"To think my butcher would be taken out by some no-name villager. You did one hell of a number on that brute, I'll give you that. I had the lug brought back to get the story out of his own mouth but he couldn't even speak! His very jaw was broken to the point he couldn't even close it!" Gato laughed out loud at the memory as Zori grimaced at what he had seen, "He couldn't speak, let alone stand. Several spinal columns were fractured as well. Safe to say he's no longer useful to me. The cost of repairing such a wild and self-destructive tool just wasn't worth it."

Touma felt a terrible chill.

The ugly grin on the short billionaire formed something truly horrific and sickening in his gut.

"What happened to him?"

"Hmm? Oh, I had him killed obviously. I saw no more worth in him, so I disposed of him. He was just a ronin, a disgraced samurai for hire who only cared about satisfying his blood lust. I have many more useful and tamed tools at my disposal anyway."

Something truly, honestly, unmistakably shuddered within the high school boy's chest.

Something dark and cruel.

Something remorseful and kind.

The news of the very enemy Touma had put down earlier being killed off-screen brought a great conflicting storm to his heart.

Waraji was without a doubt a monster. A sadistic murderer who sought to kill for his own enjoyment, never caring about the lives he had slaughtered for a thrill. He was the kind of soul who deserved to be punished to the highest extent of the law. If that sentence meant death than Touma couldn't find it in himself to argue with the verdict if a legal system of professional adults came to such a conclusion on their own.

If hell existed in another phase as he had seen heaven once painted over the sky in a golden light, than without a shred of a doubt, such a beast was being burned alive for his crimes.

The world would be a better place without him, a hidden and rousing part of his heart snarled.

Yet the news did nothing to bring him any joy or relief.

It still didn't sit right with him with who it was to carry out such a hefty sentence. That it was a bastard like Gato who had decided Waraji's fate. It wasn't a verdict made out of justice or for the good of those hurt by the maniac's blade. Instead, it had been a death sentenced callously out of a lack of a need for such a person to do his bidding. Waraji hadn't been a criminal deserving of death for his crimes but a broken tool the billionaire could easily replace.

The short pile of reeking crap was a different sort of demon compared to the many a high school boy had faced. One who opposed everything his heart stood for.

Gato continued on, never showing anything more an annoyance at having to dispose of a tool that could no longer serve its purpose.

"Now that I've lost some muscle, I've found myself with an open slot. As much as I'd rather have Zori than Waraji at my side, I'm still not comfortable with only one main guard. Originally I had planned to replace that mad dog with our dear Kyofu-chan, a real kunoichi from Kumogakure no Sato, who would make it easier dealing with a certain Demon," Gato spat before smiling pleasantly at the dirty-faced teen, "But the lovely girl would rather bite a future owner like a fussy puppy. I've tried for an entire week to butter her up with to the idea that partnership between us would benefit; riches, land, power, and men if she so pleased, but nothing. Sadly she doesn't even make for good entertainment since she's played far too roughly with my men." he sniffed.

"Fuck you, you limp dick, lard sweating, shitty cuck!"

"Less said about her foul barking, the better." Gato said flatly before grinning viciously, "Which is why I've no choice but to euthanize her. She's devalued herself and become worthless. I have no need for a woman who can't even lay on her back and take it! Meaning the spot remains open. So, what do you think?"

Disbelief painted Touma's face. He couldn't even find it in himself to speak as he stared at the open hand gestured for him. Numbness crawled over every inch of his body as he felt a sickening nothingness.

Was...was he seriously offering Kamijou Touma, of all people...

"You want me to become your replacement bodyguard," he said softly, the grin on Gato's face only growing wider with promise.

"Anyone who could take out Waraji and still have enough stamina to attempt an attack on one of my bases as wounded as you are is surely worthy in my eyes. I'm a businessman, Kamijou-san, was it? I determine what's valuable in this world of mine and I never miss the chance to make a profit. And you've proven to be of some worth. You're not the only one to take my offer as a citizen of Nami no Kuni. Did you think that I only employed thugs, disgraced ninja, ronin, and bandits? I've got plenty of citizens of this nation under my payroll to kill their own neighbors! Why else do you think your neighbors and friends are wary of another? Planting mistrust into the masses can be as easy as dropping a few stacks of Ryo. It's only natural to save yourself."

Money was a terrifying tool only the most intellectual of men in this world could properly utilize. Just a flush of a fan made of Ryo could turn best friends into enemies, lovers into cheaters, and loyal men into traitors. It was a power greater than even the deadliest of ninjutsus at the hands of kages.

And as the man who had the greatest resources and wealth at his disposal, Gato was a God among men.

"If you work for me, Kamijou-san, I could make all your fantasies come true. If it's wealth you seek, I can grant it. If it's woman you seek, I can grant it! If it's power you seek, I can grant it! If it's recognition you seek, I can't grant it! Simply promise me your loyalty and I'll promise to help fund whatever your heart desires! No dream is beyond the cost of my own riches!"

Ryo made this world of theirs spin. With it alone, Gato had taken control of a nation to do his bidding. Even now, he was spreading his influence using the shipping routes he now had control of thanks to Nami no Kuni. Several Daimyos were reliant on his enterprise and the goods he shipped to them. And this was simply the first step! Nami no Kuni was proof that his power of wealth could monopolize a nation under his thumb.

Which meant he could do the same to every other nation with enough resources and Ryo he could gather. With the Elemental Nations in his back pocket, there truly was nothing stopping him from standing atop the summit of man!

Such an offer to work with a future modern God was one to treasure. Even if those tools never attained their pitiful dreams they should be counted fortunate to aid such a powerful man! To not give in would be utterly rid-!

"Go fuck yourself."

Gato's fine brow twitched as Zori's sheath once again flashed in his eyes to deflect a red spit bullet.

"I don't believe you understand, child." Gato grinned darkly as he flexed his fingers, "I'm offering you the chance to work under me, to turn against those worthless fodder that have run out of value, and even protect those closest to you in exchange. I'll pay you an incredible sum of Ryo, even allow you to fuck whatever broad we have in stock right now. My gift to you. But," he sneered with a gesture for Zori to flash his katana, "Turn me down and your life is worthless to me. If you don't wish to become a tool for me than you'll be disposed of. I don't have the patience to ask again, so think carefully of whether you want to live in luxury or die like a rat in filth. Become profit or become worthless trash."

All eyes centered on Touma as he stared at the ground. A few locks of his dark spiky bangs fell over his face to paint a shadow over his expression. Kyofu's face was conflicted between worry and anger as either option wouldn't benefit her in any way. If he valued his life, Touma would work for Gato with no complaints to protect both his life and his family. If he denied the offer like Kyofu had than he would be joining her in a gruesome death.

There was no middle ground. No salvation not born out of betrayal to his nation. No kind ending would be found by the spiky-haired boy under Gato's eyes. Even a skilled Kumogakure jonin like herself had fallen to his grasp after digging into matters outside her original mission. Whatever answer he gave there was an ugly cost to be paid in full. She could see the turmoil of the decision in how Touma's body trembled like a leaf in the wind.

"You'll grant whatever wish I want with your money, right? No price is too steep for your infinite pockets and connections, that's what you're saying. Like magic, you'll grant whatever my heart desires?"

Kyofu clicked her teeth. She should have known better, he was just an ordinary boy after all.

Gato nodded his head with a chuckle. He could see it, the dark and selfish glimmer in the boy's shadowed eyes. A purely despicable desire was there. All he had to do was promise the boy and deal with whatever the fool asked down the road.

"Anything you wish, I'll grant you with no strings attached other than your complete loyalty."

"Anything?"

A savage grin devoid of kindness and bared far more closely to a wolf's snarl greeted the wealthy granter of wishes.

"Than how about returning those normal lives you've stolen from the people of Nami no Kuni for starters, you fat sack of shit?!"

The tepid dragon bore his sharp fangs and bellowed viciously.

Gato was taken back as Touma slammed into the cell's bar with a furious roar. Zori flinched as he gripped the hilt of his blade in case of any sudden surprises from those raging dark blue eyes. The fierce gaze reminded him of a great and terrible beast kept behind bars.

"If you're so full of money that your blood runs gold than how about paying me for my services by taking back all the years of pain that you've wrought with your greed?! All the tears, all the crumbling smiles, all the joy that you've reaped to make your pocket heavier; give it all back! If you can so much as return the normal life of a widowed mother, her fatherless son, and a worn-out grandfather, than I'll happily crawl on my hands and knees, lick your shit-stained boots, and bark however loud you like and call you my master! Can you do it? You're regarded as the richest man on this earth capable of granting whatever wish he desires with a shower of Ryo, so can you do something as simple as returning back the normal lives you've stolen?! Or is it that even those useless stacks of shitty paper you rub yourself out with can't even bring an honest, pure, innocent smile to the face of one goddamn child?!"

The rope cutting into Touma's wrists shivered as they cut deeper into his wrists. A trickle of dark crimson hit the dirt behind him as he fought to snap the ropes off with brute physical force. Something invisible in his hand was momentarily muffled in the seething red threatening to devour him.

What arrogance.

What greed.

What a complete piece of fucking shit!

Was this really the extent of human greed? Was one man so heartless and callous as to plunge an entire nation to such despair for nothing more than money? Just how tragic of a human did you have to be to fall to such depths of evil?!

Did this idol of avaric honestly believe money was all he needed to turn others against one another? Who the hell did he think he was?!

"Just what the hell do you think the value of a normal life is, you worthless piece of shit? You could offer me a perfect world full of smiles and I'll still reject it if it means working for you. Because any dream you offer will only be tainted by your sickly greed built on blood-stained coins. The soul of an ordinary, plain-faced, weak boy isn't so cheap as to be bought by honeyed words. I'd sooner twist my own neck than ever consider your offer."

Touma grinned smugly at the angrily sweating, red-faced Gato. Did he want a definitive answer? Than he'd make this as simple as possible.

"In short; Fuck off. The cheap samurai you've bought with money may have been easy to fall for your spell but not me. My pride, my soul, my fists, aren't so cheap or worthless as to be bought out by a pathetic loser compensating for more than just his height! The normal life of a boring teenager is far too rich for you to ever afford!"

Deafening silence.

Not a word or sound was made in the wake of the rejection of an ordinary 'villager' speaking down to Gato. Everyone was speechless, from the staring prisoners locked away in their cells who were aroused by the conversation, to Zori who found himself gaping at the idiot boy who might as well have landed a blood loogie in Gato's eye.

Only one person dared to break the silence with a roaring laugh. Kyofu slid down to the floor, body shaking with laughter nearly choking her as tears rolled down her swollen face.

Gato didn't explode with rage nor did he do anything more than fix his glasses with a shaky hand even as Kyofu kicked her legs up from bellowing laughter. In the face of such a blunt and crystal clear rebuttal, he grinned with a show of gnashing teeth.

A creak was heard from the furious billionaire.

"Aren't you the greedy one? You remind me of a certain fisherman who spoke back to me in the same fashion. Good man, regarded as the Champion of Nami no Kuni, had above average strength and loved his family dearly. Do you perhaps know where he is?"

The small well-groomed fist of the billionaire struck the bars holding Touma back, hitting the very spot in front of Touma's unflinching gaze as Gato yelled.

"SUNK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE OCEAN WITHOUT ARMS OR A HEAD AND NIBBLED TO BONE BY THE FISHES!"

The eyes of the wealthy man trembled with anger. His face was beet red, the veins on his temple could clearly be seen throbbing as his blood pressure spiked. If it weren't for the rusty bar keeping the spiky boy in a cage, he would have personally shown the child what happened to ungrateful dogs who dared to snap back.

Gato stepped back with a huff while fixing his clean suit. He met Touma's glare head-on with a scornful sneer of disgust.

"I gave you a once in a lifetime offer, brat! And what do you do? Spit in my fucking face! Such impudence. Such arrogance. Such disrespect to your God! It seems I've been rather lax in regards to Nami no Kuni's citizens if such an ungrateful boy could arise. Didn't you learn anything after what happened to that retarded Champion known as Kaiza? If idiots like you are popping up than it's clear they've forgotten what happens when you step up to yours truly. I'll have to rectify that."

A devilish grin could be seen on Gato's face as he turned away to face the exit of the corridor, gesturing for Zori to stay.

"Killing you won't be enough. No, I need to show everyone what happens when you think of rejecting me. Just as I did with that Taiza bastard, I'll have to publicize your gruesome death to the whole village! Draw and quarter should do the trick, drag your death out as long as possible to get the message through the peoples' thick skulls. Your screams, your cries, your begging, your despair! Everyone must once again cement such tragedy in their hearts if I wish to quell whatever rebellious spirits would grow to oppose me. Zori, stand guard of the righteous clone of the champion and make sure he doesn't kill himself without my permission. I'll return after getting the preparations ready."

Zori nodded, watching Gato leave with a sadistic laugh trailing behind him.

"What about the Kumo-girl?"

"Tch, I'll take care of her personally once I've finished. Until than, do whatever you like to her if you wish. Take her out for some fun, sharpen your katana on her skin, I don't care. Just make sure she's breathing so I can have a go at her before dropping her corpse into the ocean alongside her bunkmate."

With nothing more to say, Gato shut the door behind him with a bang. Leaving the entire cell block to shutter in wait of the next time the cruel door opened again.

[-]

Between The Lines-2.

SNIP!

Another stitch gone, another rub of alcohol to follow.

"Goddamn it, Haku! What did I tell you about using the rubbing alcohol?! I'm a fucking shinobi, I don't need shitty disinfectant poured all over my wounds! Just grab a saki bottle and use it instead! It's all the same bullshit! It'll even dull the pain better!"

For being renown as The Demon In The Mist with a high bounty guaranteed to net the stupid lucked killer with a cozy fortune, Zabuza had a very poor tolerance to simple alcohol. A man who had slaughtered droves of people in his younger days to become the professional assassin he was today was cursing out loud about a few dabs of alcohol. Truly, Haku's master was a demonic and cruel figure in the world of shinobi.

Haku paid no mind to the evil, blood-thirsting, ruthless eyes of the bed-ridden Momochi Zabuza as he continued treating the wounds on the Demon's body with surgical proficiency. His calm faced smile never left his face.

"Apologies, Zabuza-sama. But to ensure you are indeed at one-hundred percent capacity for when we continue our attack on the Konohagakure force, I must prevent any problems from arising during you healing process. If you wish to strike me when I'm finished, please do so."

The serene faced boy giggled, swabbing another cotton ball with the ever stinging and agonizing medicine. Just the very scent stung Zabuza's eyes.

"You pretty-faced littl-GRRRRRAAAAAAHH!"

Luckily sound did not travel past the walls of their room. Otherwise, Haku would have to hunt down those ignorant and ungrateful victims before firing off a few critical senbons.

"That should be the last of the sutures," Haku commented as he threw out the bloody cotton ball. He sat down on the stool nearby, eyeing every inch of Zabuza's open body for anything he may have missed, "Most of your wounds have closed up rather nicely thanks to my medicine. The acupuncture I've applied has also helped to force your chakra into the most severe injuries to speed up your body's natural healing process as well. All that's left for you to do is rest up these next few days to recover all the chakra you've expended and for your body to recover from your death state, and you'll be ready to go."

Zabuza grunted. It was less of a chore now for him to sit up from his bed. Most of the stitches Haku had knit into the more severe open wounds were gone. As skilled Haku was in medicine, he lacked the fine control to use medical ninjutsu to accelerate his healing. Acupuncture did just as well in blocking certain pathways in his system to channel his chakra to the parts of his body in need of a regenerative boost. After such a loss against the Konohagakure ninjas, he couldn't complain about how long it was taking to patch him back up to fighting condition.

Now he could breathe without a shudder going through his chest. It wouldn't be long until he could complete a full swing of Kubikiribochu to fell a tree.

"How long exactly until I'm ready to go. And be honest, Haku." Zabuza said harshly, fixing his prized tool with a stern gaze, "Don't bullshit me with guesses. Tell me when exactly I can get off this bed and slaughter those soft and prime excuses calling themselves ninja."

Haku returned to going over his current state, properly evaluating every healing wound. His skills in assassination weren't just for killing his victims. If applied correctly, he could do so much more than cause harm.

It was a shame such a skilled and talented child abused his gifts for those of bloodshed.

"Four days. Continue drinking the special herbal medicine I've been giving you, and I assure you, you'll be ready to continue our mission. Tomorrow I'll have to apply a longer session of acupuncture to make good of my promise, so you'll have to bear with a half-day of numbness. Your chakra should return by then. We will even have enough time to prepare ourselves for our counter-attack." Haku answered pleasantly.

He may not be pleased with another round of needles pricking his skin, but Zabuza was pleased. The first day he had been dragged back to Gato's HQ, he could barely move a toe. To make sure they had gotten away under the guise of being dead, his body had to be shut down. For a few minutes, he was nothing more than a gray-skinned corpse. He had truly been dead. Add to the fact his body needed to recover from its death state, he also needed time for his wounds to heal, and for his chakra to replenish. It was only day three of his recovery and he could now kill whoever so much as dared to touch him.

His current strength wasn't enough though. If he was to return to battle, he had to be at full health. Hatake Kakashi would not be underestimated again. Pride, arrogance: those two factors had been at fault for his failure to kill one old man. Because of his own overblown ego, he had taken a just as equally fearsome opponent for granted. This was the result of his mistake; bed-ridden for an entire week like a sickly child!

Zabuza grimaced as he thought back to his encounter with his prey.

No, it hadn't just been Kakashi who had been overlooked. It was those bright-eyed genins. Those soft, smug, entitled brats had been a bigger thorn than expected. By turning a blind eye, he had made a rookie mistake. He had played with his victims instead of finishing them off. Their teamwork had forced him to let go of his water prison, allowing their sensei's return to the battlefield.

Instead of taking the real Zabuza head-on, they had understood that their best plan of survival was relying on their sensei to take over.

It was a sick joke to realize he had been fooled by brats. Next time, they wouldn't be so fortunate.

But what really, truly, pissed Zabuza off wasn't a Jonin with the Sharingan or three young, wet behind the ears genin. No, what made him nearly lose it here and now would be the unexpected third-party who had gone as far as to break his nose.

Zabuza balled his fist at the memory of the simple right fist invading his thoughts with a crack.

Kamijou Touma.

The Invisible Demon.

A chilling image of a boy with a right hand outstretched to destroy a water dragon's might came to mind. Darkness cloaked the boy's face, revealing only a single glowing white eye lacking fear or hesitation in the shower of devastation pouring down the battlefield.

A boy as old as Haku. One who had apparently never been trained in the ninja arts. In all their fighting, Zabuza had never once felt an inkling of chakra being exerted in his attacks. He wasn't sure if the lack of using ninjutsu was part of his strategy or not. By all accounts, the teenager wasn't anything special appearance-wise, possessing plain features that allowed him to blend in with any crowd. There wasn't anything special about the spiky-haired boy to note of.

Said average boy had taken out all of Zabuza's Mizu Bunshin's alone. With but a fist, he destroyed every clone with nothing more than a punch. With a wave of his hand, the boy erased large chunks of his fog. Even more startling was how Zabuza's Suiton ninjutsus had been destroyed by the same right fist capable of dispelling his clones. One of his most powerful jutsus, a dragon of high pressured crushing water capable of carving a forest down the middle, had been blocked with a palm! It was as if that abnormal right hand possessed the ability to utterly erase whatever jutsus he could throw out.

No, it was more than that. Zabuza recalled how Touma's hand had grabbed his face. It was as if his chakra had been suppressed, the hand acting little more than a fuinjutsu seal. Only when he had kicked the spiky-haired boy off did his chakra flow return to its normal state.

Destruction.

Negation.

Suppression.

Could it be...whatever ability the spiky boy possessed could be the same as Haku?

Was this the power of a dojutsu?

Aside from the terrifying ability Kamijou Touma possessed, it was the boy's above-average abilities that made him formidable. His speed wasn't incredible but allowed the boy to just barely keep up with his clones. His reflexes were above genin, close to chunin, enough to react to sudden attacks aimed to kill. Durability wise, the boy could shrug off punches that would take out grown men with ease and keep fighting with knives dug into his back. The creative use of his right hand also told Zabuza of his opponent's clever ability to adapt to sudden elements during their fight.

Along with decent punching power, Zabuza compiled a far-cry profile of a self-proclaimed average teen.

One that made The Demon of The Mist uneasy.

Kamijou Touma was an unknown element to their plans. Capable of throwing a wrench to their operation if he showed himself again. Zabuza didn't have a clue what jutsu the boy was performing but it negated all of his ninjutsu, leaving him to resort to purely physical arts as kenjutsu and taijutsu. He was positive he could kill him with those alone. Touma didn't show anything other than simple attacks involving punches. Either kenjutsu or taijutsu would solve the problem.

At least, he believed so. Far too little was known about Kamijou Touma to affirm any theories. The Demon of The Mist refused to accept the boy's own proclamation of being nothing more than an ordinary boy. For all he knew, it was cover.

Someone with his physical prowess only ever attained by facing battles after battles wasn't normal.

Someone with his unique ability to destroy jutsus had to have been born special.

Someone with such high resistance to bloodlust and killing intent must have faced countless battlefields better fit to called hells.

Such a boy who could meet the eyes of a demon without so much as flinching; he would never accept as being some ordinary, untalented, boring, plain, child!

Adding Kakashi and his genin into the equation made things even more problematic. If both Hatake Kakashi and Kamijou Touma would attack together their counter/negation abilities, combined with their unique strengths than Zabuza wouldn't be confident in surviving without Haku's help.

Just the thought of having to rely on the aid of someone else, even Haku, left a sour taste in the proud Demon's mouth.

"When we resume our attack, I want you to take care of the genin. Be quick." Zabuza grunted as he worked the joints of his left arm out, "Finish them, don't play with your food. Once you've taken care of the brats, return to my side so that we can split up the Copy-Ninja and Kamijou."

Haku frowned, "Kamijou? Do you mean the older boy who was being protected alongside Tazuna-san?"

Protected?

Zabuza laughed.

"Don't be fooled by the boy's plain facade, Haku. You should be able to spot a mask better than anyone. Anyone able to defeat my clones, evade my attacks, block my jutsus with a mere palm, and land a solid hit on me is deserving of caution. He reminds me of a sleeping dragon, a seemingly calm and docile figure whose yet to flex their monstrous muscles lest he be disturbed. By destroying my own Suiryuudan he became a threat we can't afford to overlook again."

Kamijou Touma.

Invisible Demon.

For some odd reason, Zabuza felt as if he was missing far more to the name than he realized.

Haku nodded. The entire time Zabuza had been facing the Konoha ninja, he had been hiding a safe distance away with the aid of the heavy mist, watching the fight escalated to the point Zabuza was forced to bust out his more destructive attacks. Haku had seen exactly what his master was warning him about in regards to Kamijou Touma. The skills he had witnessed from the seemingly normal teen put him at Chunin level, making him believe the ordinary boy was secretly a mercenary added on to help deliver Tazuna safely to Nami no Kuni.

Without any evidence of who Kamijou Touma was allied to, they had to assume they would be facing him again if they were to attack the Konohagakure force guarding their target's life. Contingency plans would have to be drawn.

"If this Kamijou is to be seen as a potential threat than why didn't you alert Gato to his presence among the shinobi?" the feminine-faced boy asked.

A shark tooth grin could be seen poking out of the wraps of the Demon's face as he chuckled.

"Because the boy himself is just some ordinary, lost traveler, Haku. Why should that big-headed billionaire have to worry about some nobody? An ordinary boy like him isn't to be concerned when there are big, bad shinobi running around his precious island. After all, what's the worst that could happen?"

Vindictive.

Whether the lack of informing their employer of a strange factor went to cause them trouble down the line was to be decided. None of this would have happened if Gato hadn't thought he could threaten Zabuza while he was bed-ridden. Trying to be a big man only resulted in the loss of important information.

Haku sighed at what was clearly a childish form of a pout. No matter, what was done was done. Even if they did notify Gato of Kamijou Touma, including his ability to dispel jutsus, it wouldn't do much other than making the ugly midget scoff.

All the same, they would be ordered to deal with him.

They had four days of planning ahead of them before they resumed the hunt for Tazuna. If all went according to plan than they would no longer need to rely on Gato's 'generosity'. The payment for one man's head would be enough for them to leave and continue their own plans for another nation that was in their sights.

'Is it that a cold-blooded killer like you has nothing to live for, nothing to strive for, other than battling to your death!? Is that why an idiot like you is working for a scumbag like Gato? Because you believe that you serve no other purpose than to kill those who you've been ordered to for money and thrill? Are you that empty that there's nothing worth living for that you would die because of your own wounded pride?!'

Yes, these were the actions of killers who indeed fought with their lives on the line for a true, honest, purpose held close to the hearts of even Demons. That softhearted older boy didn't remotely understand what he was spouting to Haku's master. Everything they did, every drop of blood staining their hands, every filthy coin falling into their palms, and every life reaped wasn't in vain. Their ambitions were selfish but not evil.

To insult his master's actions as nothing more than the empty thrills of a sociopath? Haku wouldn't allow that naive comment to slide. He was Momochi Zabuza's greatest tool, second only to Kubikiribochu.

A tool that would cut down anyone who dared to speak ill of their master.


Bloodied, wounded, and coughing up red, you continue to charge ahead into a story completely irrelevant to a boy not of this world.

This a world completely unlike the odd world of science and espers, strangely fixated on a high school boy with a strange world. The script is not one where some naive child can swing his right fist and save the day. Not every villain is one built by tragedy or the unfairness of the world. Death is all too common at the end of every story.

Do not be surprised to find yourself dyed in the same cruel colors painted. Violence is infectious.

Something invisible rests in your palm.

Don't crush it.

And another one gone, another one gone~! Another one bites the dust~!

Another chapter up and done, folks.

As we head into this new path opened up by a high school boy who couldn't stand aside as people were hurt, Kamijou Touma finds that things won't be as easy as he faces opponents who don't all rely on spells or special abilities. Nor that the opponents he faces can be persuaded or talked to.

From what little is known about Waraji from canon, the pirate/ronin is sadistic. You can just tell he's a real piece of shit who loves to cut people up and enjoys the thrill of a bloody fight. He's the typical cruel bandit figure who just so happens to be a disgraced samurai. He's not overly complicated a character, there's no deep backstory to him, and he doesn't possess any greater ambitions other than a want to slaughter. He's a fodder piece, one even a twelve-year-old ninja wearing orange can knock with a surprise attack.

Making him one of Kamijou Touma's worst opponents.

When you stop to think about all the people Touma's faced thus far, you come to understand something.

Every last one of them has a reason for becoming a villain.

Aureoluss wanted to save Index from her yearly memory erasure.

Accelerator wanted to become the strongest so he'd be left alone, leading to being tainted by adults.

Vento despised science because she believed it had failed to save her brother.

Carissa simply wanted to save her country from war.

Fiamma wanted to save the world because he had the power to do so.

So on and so on.

Each villain he had to face with his right hand found themselves twisted and caught in illusions for various reasons. If you were a historian going over the past life of these characters, then you would point out to the multiple factors, events, and triggers to cause each one of them to turn into cruel figures capable of causing great tragedies. If someone had simply been there at the beginning, before they turned to bloodshed and sacrifice, if only one person had been there to lend a hand and a voice when they needed it most, surely they would have never found themselves facing an ordinary high school boy.

But Waraji is a simple man. A simple and cruel man who doesn't need excuses to find pleasure in cutting innocent villagers into mincemeat. From the start, you know he isn't the kind of man who will see the error of his ways and turn to a path of redemption. He's just another twisted human who's cruel for cruelties sake.

It's a realization Touma comes to discover in their fight thanks to the words of Waraji and Touma's own empathetic heart. Even someone as kind and gentle as he realizes he wouldn't be able to save Waraji from his own sadistic desires. Because killing is what makes him happy.

Such a disgusting and twisted reason was what made him lose his original self in a moment of anger and rejection. Something dark arose in his chest to swallow any thoughts of other than those screams of violence for the sake of violence; not salvation.

Gato is similar as well. He's a demon who has a basic desire for wealth and power. He doesn't show any signs of having a tragic past of poverty or want to change the world for the better through blood money. He's a bastard through and through. He can't be redeemed so easily and he shows no regrets.

This chapter is centered on those who can be seen as basic evil, Touma confronting such demons with pitch-black hearts, and the environment where those cruel figures are free to do as they please. The depths of humans can be a truly dark and malevolent abyss where illusions can not be found.

Sector-D is the center of taking a peek at what may lay in the depths of humans. It is there where Team-7 is now rushing over to save the naive spiky teen who is now on the chopping block of an ax. Nothing gentle or kind can be found in the cells guarded by basic demons and those twisted by an idol of avarice.

Oh, and we're also introduced to a new character to the fray! Per Touma's luck, he finds himself in a dirty and rusty cell with a naked kunoichi. Got to love them Kumo girls!

And so we close the chapter with a promise of a harrowing rescue to come. Times ticking until Nami no Kuni bears witness to another hero publically slaughtered.

Until next time!

Read and Review! It's common courtesy.

NeoShadows fading in and out.