Recommended story: 'Kitsune's Power' by TheBeardedOne

Chapter Thirty-Six

The group of shinobi, plus extras, landed on a large branch in the world connecting the realms together. There were no Pretans around so they weren't in immediate danger, but the fight wasn't over just yet.

Kushina was sitting down, propping her upper body up with her arms and looking like she wanted to lay down completely. The dark elf came to her and took out an arrow, holding it like a kunai. Naruto and several clones rushed in and tackled the dark elf, knocking him down.

"You're going to attack someone who's struggling to stay awake?!" Naruto asked, outraged at the person attacking his mother.

The dark elf didn't respond, other than lashing back at the clones and attacking with something worse than an arrow. Naruto wasn't sure how they managed to equip themselves with it, having other things on his mind, but the dark elf batted all clones away making them dispel into smoke. Now Naruto could actually get a good look at the weapon the dark elf was carrying. It looked like a staff, but not one that Naruto had ever seen. The end branched out into an X shape with the ends coming back together, like it was creating a hollowed out club head. Parts of the staff itself were thicker than others, possibly for holding purposes, and there was a red tassel at the end, likely just for decoration.

Naruto immediately got reinforcements by his side. Hinata, Ayame, Ino, Shizune, and even Moegi took positions beside him, while the others stayed close to Kushina and Sakura. The dark elf held back, clearly understanding that he was outnumbered, but he didn't look ready to give up.

"Just head back home and we'll be on our way. You won't ever have to worry about Kushina ever again." Shizune warned.

The dark elf narrowed his eyes and grit his teeth. "After what she did to me... took from me... you expect me to walk away now that I have the chance to get revenge?" He then started to spin the staff like it was a baton.

'What's that?' Hinata asked herself, her byakugan detecting some energy beginning to gather in the club part of the staff.

"I'm not letting you kill my mom over something as stupid as revenge!" Naruto declared.

The dark elf looked surprised for a moment, stopping the spinning. "Your mom?"

'The energy, it stopped.' Hinata noted.

The dark elf's surprise then faded to anger. "She gets to have kids?!" Now the anger looked much worse. He then roared and charged at them, spinning the staff more and making the energy get brighter. This briefly reminding Naruto of what Zabuza had looked like when he went in for his last fight.

Naruto jumped and spread his wings, but then he fell back to the branch. He groaned and expressed confusion but that changed as soon as he rolled to avoid being hit by the staff. The staff hit the branch and a massive shockwave erupted from the impact point, as if a land mind had just been detonated. The shockwave pushed everyone back and off their feet, including Kushina and Sakura, though it did make them more alert.

"What the heck was that?" Moegi asked.

"I saw some kind of energy in that staff, it collected in the blunt end when he spun the weapon." Hinata said. "He must use it to... wait, is that...?"

"What is it?" Ino asked.

Before Hinata could clarify, the dark elf started to spin the staff again and she could see the energy gather up again. 'If mana behaves just like chakra, maybe I can disable it.' Acting quickly, Hinata ran at the dark elf, who saw her and took a defensive stance. Since Hinata was unarmed the dark elf had assumed she wouldn't need to counter attack, just deflect.

Hinata struck at the dark elf who did indeed deflect with their staff. She couldn't get in a single hit, then the dark elf moved faster and knocked her aside with the staff. Once the path was clear the dark elf rushed towards Kushina. Tsunade intercepted and punched the dark elf, sending her back skidding across the branch. However, in doing so the dark elf collided with Naruto, knocking him off the branch.

"Naruto!" Everyone who saw this shouted in fear.

"Help me!" Naruto called out.

Hinata could see him grasping onto a small branch extending off the much bigger branch they were on, but his legs were kicking in the air and with his hands full he clearly had no way to climb back up on his own. So naturally she rushed over to help him, along with Ino, Ayame, and Shizune.

"Try to fly! You have wings!" Ino shouted, though she was still trying to reach for him.

"I already did and it didn't work! I don't think I can fly in this place!" He yelled back.

Kushina could see this and gasped. "Go help him." She ordered everyone around her. Moegi moved without hesitation, though Tayuya and Isaribi refrained. Sakura tried to get up but Kushina stopped her. "I'm not going to risk you getting caught in the battle. Trust them to save him." Sakura reluctantly nodded. "Why aren't you helping?" Kushina asked the other two girls.

"I'm not leaving you alone when a psycho shit pointy-earred fairy is trying to kill you sis. Someone has to watch over you too." Tayuya claimed.

"And I can't do much of anything out of water." Isaribi admitted shamefully.

With the others they used chakra to cling to the side of the much bigger branch to get closer to Naruto. Moegi caught up to them but she didn't know how to walk up trees yet so she had to wait from above. She looked to the dark elf who was back up but still fighting with Tsunade. The slug sannin was throwing punches and the dark elf was blocking with the staff, which was holding up to the onslaught surprisingly well.

"Why did you follow us? What are you trying to accomplish?" Tsunade demanded to know.

"That woman took something very important from me! Something I can never get back! I swore vengeance even if I have to crawl up from the underworld to get it!" The dark elf declared, trying to turn the tide of the fight but still forced to resort to defense.

Tsunade was getting worried, though she didn't show it. Since her own transformation into a succubus, she no longer had chakra to use therefore her punches were reduced to sheer muscle power alone. Her punches would normally at least dent a weapon like this staff but instead her knuckles were the ones suffering. She was trying to augment her body with mana instead but it wasn't behaving like chakra should. The one upside to this was her stamina hadn't taken a hit, she felt like she could continue on like this for hours if she had to. Though her knuckles made it clear they didn't want it to come to that.

On the side of the branch Ayame and Shizune managed to grab ahold of Naruto's arms and pull him up. Once he was lifted Hinata and Ino helped by grabbing and pulling more. He was relieved, but then tensed when he heard a loud scratching sound coming from the right. He wasn't the only one to hear it, and they all turned towards the sound. There they could see a Pretan much like the ones that had attacked them on the way to Alfheim, crawling along the underside of the branch and coming right towards them. The sight of it made them scramble more, getting Naruto over the ledge.

Once back to safety the Pretan climbed to the same side of the branch they were on and made itself look more intimidating. The shinobi and dark elf elf panicked and tried to get away. Naruto quickly formed numerous clones to try and hold it off, giving them more time to run off, while he tried again to take off and failed. He was right, for some reason he could not fly in this place. With that not an option, he tried to ready a rasengan with another clone.

Until Ayame grabbed his arm and pulled him away.

"Hey!"

"Don't waste time fighting that thing! Getting away is the important thing here!" She told him in a no-nonsense tone that from years of association Naruto knew never to protest in the event the ramen girl ever did give to him. So he joined in running with her, leaving the clones to fend off the Pretan.

The group descended down the branch with the sky around them slowly beginning to change colors. On their first trip Kushina had said that the surrounding sky was colored to reflect what 'level' you were at in the realm and which lead to one of the other worlds. Red was the highest and meant you were near Asgard, yellow was for Alfheim, green was for Midgard, blue was for Makai, and purple was for Niflheim. The sky was still yellow but a slight trace of green was beginning to be seen, meaning they were getting closer to home.

The dark elf came up to Kushina and swung their staff at her again. Kushina ducked and projected a chain that wrapped around the staff, triggering a tug of war between the two. Taking advantage of the distraction, Shizune went in and used a Poison Fog Jutsu at point blank range, incapacitating the dark elf making them collapse like a stringless puppet.

"He's not dead is he?" Moegi asked.

"No, but if he wants to live he's going to have to cooperate from now on."

"She." Hinata spoke up.

"What?" Shizune asked, having already gotten some wire out to start binding the dark elf's wrists and ankles together.

"My byakugan showed me that this person has female anatomy. This elf is a woman."

Everyone looked to the dark elf, studying their face and clothes. "Wow, she's so androgynous I honestly can't tell just by looking at her." Ino noted.

"Maybe that's normal for elves?" Isaribi suggested with uncertainty.

"Doesn't matter, this one has a problem with Kushina and was willing to follow her back to Konoha to settle it. We have to get rid of her." Tsunade stated.

"Maybe she could be useful. Bring her to Konoha as proof of Kushina's story and get everyone willing to take any threats from Alfheim seriously?" Shizune suggested.

Tsunade frowned but slowly nodded. "It's a long shot, but I suppose it's good enough to try. Assuming Jiraiya has gotten things better over there. Alright, we'll bring her along as long as she doesn't fight back anymore."

Tsunade lifted up the downed dark elf and slung her over her shoulder in a stereotypical caveman manner, while Shizune held onto the staff. Naruto went to carry Sakura on his back since she was still worn out and Tayuya did the same for Kushina.

The group continued along the branches of this strange extradimensional tree, relieved that Naruto's clones seemed to be very effective at holding the Pretan at bay. They got quiet and cautious when they saw another Pretan on a different but nearby branch. This Pretan looked different than the predatorial rodent one they were aware of, this one looked more like a deer from a distance, but with traits similar to that of a qilin. It ignored them, eating some moss on the branch, allowing them to continue on.

The sky started getting greener, letting them know that they were getting closer to their own world. "Kushina, what should we be looking for?" Tsunade asked, drawing a blank on how exactly they had gotten to Alfheim originally. They had been in a rush at the time after all.

A loud shriek was heard next before Kushina could start speaking, and everyone looked up. Above them they saw some flying Pretans, ones that looked a lot like unidentifiable birds. If they had to call them something, they'd say these were crows. These crows were swarming towards the shinobi from above like hungry vultures, and they were coming in fast.

Naruto acted first by generating dozens of clones and having them jump at the crows preemptively. Shizune readied her senbon launcher looking for an opportunity while Tayuya got started on her flute techniques, hoping that they would still work despite her change. Kushina attempted to create some chains but her body was being uncooperative, and Sakura was out of it, unable to speak. The others had no choice but to take defensive stances in case things got worse.

The Naruto clones punched and kicked the crows, fighting with no rhyme or reason other than to keep them away. Fortunately the clones had wings too, helping them fight in the air before the crows could get to anyone else. The crows were putting up a heck of a fight, pecking at the clones and destroying them while the clones managed to get in several good punches, knocking off out of the air.

Tayuya was beginning to summon something in the form of thick mist when she had to stop playing her flute. She swore she could hear something different, and being musically inclined her mind couldn't help but focus on sounds that were out of place, like improper notes or the like. Plus she could feel vibrations coming up her legs, which wasn't a good sign. She and others who felt the same thing turned around, seeing some of those deer Pretan charging towards them, looking much less docile than they had before.

"Oh fuck me." Tayuya groaned, putting her flute away as her conjured mist faded. She wasn't much of a physical fighter, but she brandished her new claws and bared her new fangs, eager to see if she could fight as well as her oni could. She ran towards the deer Pretans, and that prompted Ayame, Tsunade, and the real Naruto to do the same.

Naruto went to punch one of the deer right in the face, and the deer charged like a bull. Then another deer joined up in the charge, prompting Naruto to instead try to create another clone. The deer got to him before he could and rammed into him with an unexpectedly loud crash sound. Naruto was sent flying backwards and over the group, going off the branch and out of sight.

Hinata gasped in horror and tracked him with her byakugan. She saw that he was still falling, his body unmoving as if he was knocked out, and just falling down the branches until he crashed into one with an impact big enough to make the branch crack. This branch he was on was thinner than the others, only wide enough for people to walk on in single file, and the damage looked bad. Naruto looked passed out, knocked unconscious by the attack. She could tell that the branch would only hold for so long, and when it broke if Naruto was still out of it he'd fall much further.

"Hold on Naruto-kun!" She shouted, hoping he could hear her, as she ran off trying to find a branch to get to.

"Hinata what are you doing?" Ino asked, trying to stop the white-eyed girl.

"I've got to get to Naruto-kun before he falls further." She stated.

From behind they heard another loud crash and saw someone else go flying and fall down into the void of the world tree, this time they could hear screaming. Hinata could see that this time it was Ayame.

"Then let me help you." Ino insisted, not wanting to just sit there and be useless.

Hinata nodded and continued on, being followed by Ino who in turn was followed by Isaribi and Moegi since they couldn't contribute to the fight either. Hinata's eyes led them to a branch under their current one that they had to jump to, but it would bring them closer so they did.

Tsunade grappled one of the deer and hurled it at the others. The impact made the creatures falter and collapse but not fall off the branch. Tayuya took another deer and actually snapped its antlers off before jabbing them into its ribs, making it wail in a horrific way. One deer remained and looked ready to take her down, but Shizune fired some needles into its neck, making it buck up and wail. Tsunade took the opportunity to punch it in the throat, making it pass out breathing with difficulty.

"Let's get out of here." The slug sannin stated.

"Good because the birds are still here." Shizune informed her. The Naruto clones were gone but on the plus side the number of crows was significantly reduced to just three. And those three were holding back, clearly bothered by the downed bodies of their fallen flock, but looking eager to get some payback once they could.

"Wait, where are the kids?" Tsunade asked, seeing Kushina and Sakura but not the others.

"Crap, this day just keeps getting better." Tayuya moaned.

Down below the others were getting closer to Naruto. Hinata could not see any trace of Ayame which concerned her, but getting to Naruto was a bigger priority to her. She could see the branch cracking little by little more under Naruto's weight, but the good news was his body was moving a little so he wasn't dead. The bad news was that was contributing to the breaking of the branch.

Soon they got to a branch next to the one Naruto was on. They looked on in concern, trying to think of how to get to him.

"Ino, could you get inside his mind and try to help him get up?" Moegi asked.

"Maybe, but I'll need a better shot. And someone there in case something goes wrong."

Sounds of cawing drew their attention, and they saw the three remaining crows had found them and considered them easier prey. Hinata frowned and readied her juuken. "I'll fend them off. You three get to Naruto-kun."

Ino, Isaribi, and Moegi nodded, and left her to handle this crisis while they handled the other. The three girls carefully got onto the branch in single file, with Moegi in front, Ino in second, and Isaribi in the back. Ino got her hands out and aimed carefully, then used a Mind Possession Jutsu and entered Naruto's mind. Her body went limp and Isaribi caught it.

Ino in Naruto's body opened her eyes and reached out a hand. "Okay, I'm in. Someone give me leverage, I don't think I can use these wings so well."

Moegi carefully edged forward, reaching out her own hand. While she was physically weaker than Isaribi, her lighter weight made her the lesser risk of breaking the branch further. Each step made her feel nervous, but she was reassured by the fact that she did know treewalking thanks to Naruto having shown her and Konohamaru and Udon. She got to the visible break in the branch, where the part with Naruto on it was bent at a forty degree angle downward, and extended her hand as far as she could. Ino did the same, but there was still a small gap between them.

Ino tried to get up and crawl closer, but when she got up the branch bent lower with a split going up the branch, making the whole thing shake. Isaribi shrieked briefly in panic and crouched down, trying to hold onto Ino's body and the branch at the same time. Her hands even transformed into her kaima form to grip the branch better.

"Don't move." Moegi told the Yamanaka, slowly stepping onto the breaking part.

"Don't do that! It can't support us both!" Ino warned.

"You got any better ideas?" Moegi challenged. The branch wobbled but held, so she tried to reach further. Ino tried climbing, Naruto's body protesting in pain, but she pushed through it and extended her hand. This time, their hands met and clasped onto each other.

"Hold on." Isaribi warned, trying to get closer as well. She let herself become a complete kaima, despite the discomfort of doing it out of water, but she needed the strength boost. Moving Ino's body onto her back, she crawled to behind Moegi and grabbed her torso. "Okay, I've got you both." She pulled Moegi while Moegi pulled Ino.

Then the branch snapped with the bent part giving entirely and falling off. Ino dangled and Moegi could not support her, accidentally letting go. The wobble threw off Isaribi's balance completely and since she didn't use chakra in her feet, she fell too, taking Moegi and Ino's body with her. All three girls and Naruto fell into the void, no branches stopping their plummet this time.

Hinata screamed in terror, witnessing it all after defeating the remaining crows. And then they vanished from her view entirely, her byakugan blind to where they were now.