New Devil of The Gremory House
Life 50: Beast
Last of the birthday celebration month. Kinda lacking honestly, but hopefully this chapter will get people pumped up.
Millicas was bouncing in his seat with excitement as the final match approached. Grayfia stood dutifully at Sirzechs' side as he watched from the sky box with a smile.
"This is it."
Ajuka was focused deeply on his work in his lab. And yet despite his focus, he could not help himself but listen in to the broadcast he had on in a corner of the room. With a sigh, he stopped his work and cleaned his hands.
"This is it."
Odin smirked and lounged back in his chair as he, Baraqiel, and the Bijū prepared for the final match.
"This is it."
Ravel, Irina, and Kunou were anxiously bouncing in their seats waiting for it to start. Yasaka watched their reaction with a faint giggle and smiled.
"This is it."
Vali stood behind the others as they were seated around the screen. He let out a quiet sigh.
"This is it."
The pain of veins and bone and muscle forming together was maddening. And Cao Cao would have passed out if there wasn't something to take his attention off it. He gritted his teeth and focused on the fight.
"This is it."
Indra lazily raised his hand to catch the crab tossed back to him. He looked up as his young bodyguard stood out of his seat and walked to the edge of the balcony to view the match as closely as possible. Even though he showed no outward excitement or signals, the Emperor of Heaven smiled knowingly, "Excited to see your old friend in the heat of it again?"
He did not answer and merely focused on the gigantic screen in the middle of the dome that projected the fight. He narrowed his eyes…
"This is it."
"This is it."
"I'd have to be stupid not to be nervous at a time like this." She looked over at her lover, "What about you?"
"Yeah, but I'm also super curious about how they were able to create huge spaces like this." He mused as they slowly made their way down the hill while surveying the arena they would be fighting in for the next match, "Almost feels a shame to be destroying such a beautiful place like this."
"It's still just a fabrication of a real location. Just like the city where we fought Riser was just molded from some Kuoh blocks."
This time they found themselves in a deep, lovely valley surrounded by mountains all around them. It looked like the kind of picturesque scenery that anybody would be lucky to see or even live in if they were in the vast, untouched lands of a foreign country.
However, it would soon be home to a vicious final battle between the Gremory and Bael peerages.
"Naruto," Rias softly whispered his name and tugged on his sleeve before pointing down. He followed her finger and spotted two figures standing in the middle of the deepest point in the valley. Steeling their nerves they walked down the rest of the way to properly greet their competition.
Finally, the duo from the ORC reached the bottom of the valley after scaling down the hill connected to the mountain. They came to a stop some distance away from Sairaorg and his orange-haired partner. The two pairs recognized each other but remained silent.
("Here we are people! The final match of this Rating Game between Sairaorg Bael and Rias Gremory! Both [Kings] have emerged onto the field to decide the winner once and for all! Contestant Bael came out here with his [Pawn], Contestant Regulus! And Contestant Gremory has brought along her [Pawn] as well, Contestant Uzumaki! Both [Pawns] who have yet to participate in the game so far but will now help decide the fate of this fight!")
("I have to say that I'm surprised about their choices. Both [Kings] were allowed to bring out one of their remaining servants to come to join them in this battle. Contestant Abbadon's Holes proved quite useful in the last battle she was in and could have worked as a wonderful strategy in battle. And equally as baffling is that Contestant Hyoudou is staying on the sidelines. I'm sure many people were looking forward to seeing the Red Dragon Emperor unleash his full power.")
("People are calling out for the Oppai Dragon.")
("And that's why, gentlemen, you're going to be surprised by what this next fight has to offer.")
("Enlighten us, Azazel-dono.")
("Well neither [King] made their choice without considerable thought. Granted I'm not sure what Contestant Regulus will offer but I doubt he'd be here on the field if his strength and ability weren't trusted entirely. And as for Contestant Uzumaki, hoo boy, get ready for a show!")
("Oh now I'm getting excited!")
("I only ever saw his original debut during the Rating Game between Rias Gremory and Riser Phenex. After that, he was unable to participate in future competitions because he was an [Illegal Piece] correct? And he was only able to join today because Contestant Bael insisted everyone from the Gremory peerage be allowed to fight.")
("Indeed, that's all true. But you shouldn't go underestimating him like that. Contestant Uzumaki joined the Gremory peerage at the same time as Contestant Hyoudou and has fought alongside them all in the many battles that have earned them such notoriety and prestige. He was a major fighter in holding back the Hero faction during the recent attack in Kyoto, and achieved a new level of power with the Oppai Dragon thanks to the Fighting Buddha, Sun Wukong!")
("Well that's interesting.")
("His story is one of heartbreak…of intrigue…of overcoming the past for a better future!")
("And where can we see this story unfold, Azazel-dono!")
("In the Adventures of the Lazy Sage, of course!")
("Oh, was this an ad? I wasn't aware-")
("The first two episodes of which will premiere after this Rating Game and the newest episode of Oppai Dragon! Stay tuned and find out for yourself!")
Naruto stared up at the artificial sky over them with a gaping jaw, "Did he…was that…" His jaw clicked back into place and he took a deep breath, "Did that son of a bitch just plug his stupid fucking show before our match?" Rias nodded with complete detachment, already accustomed to the madness the Governor-General was so prone to committing, "Oh, he is going to pay."
"You know," Rias bit her lip, "I've come to terms that anything we do to Azazel will just be a pittance compared to what we want to do, but I hope - well and truly hope - that karma comes around and bites him in the ass."
"We can only hope."
"Hahaha!" They looked over as Sairaorg approached with his arms crossed over his chest, "I'm glad Governor-General Azazel is keeping things light."
"I think he's just being an idiot." Rias remarked with a frown before she looked at her cousin, "So what spurred this on? I wasn't expecting such a clear and concise challenge from you like this."
"Well after the last round it was pretty clear what your peerage was thinking. After I fought your friends you wanted a chance to get some payback. We could have kept wasting time throwing the dice until it hit 12 and I could come back out, or we could save us all the trouble and settle it now." Sairaorg flexed his hand, "Honestly, after the superb fight the others put up last round, I don't want to waste the momentum and thrill of the moment."
"Is your arm alright?" Rias inquired, "I know it healed up fast but you still lost quite a bit of blood."
"Oh, no worries. I've trained to continue pushing on even with the loss of blood." Sairaorg assured them before looking between the [King] and [Pawn] pair, "Your friends performed remarkably. They pushed me further than I have in any Rating Game or battle so far. Their cooperation…their tenacity…their conviction…it was all incredible. It was an honor and a privilege to face them."
Rias took a deep breath and quickly blinked to dry her eyes before anything could spill out. She nodded, "Thank you Sairaorg. I know they'll appreciate those words from you. And I know that even though they fell, you met their challenge with honor and respect."
Naruto nodded, "And we appreciate that. Truly."
"But just so you know, with all due respect and honor, in their name," Naruto smirked, "I'm going to knock your teeth out."
Sairaorg grinned, "Now that's a promise for a good time if I've ever heard one."
("Are you all ready?")
Rias took a calming breath and Regulus loosened up. Naruto and Sairaorg faced each other down a little over a dozen feet away.
("Final round!") Rudiger announced, ("Begin!")
"Shadow Clone Jutsu!" Naruto immediately created a clone that dropped to the ground in an instant and took a stance to absorb natural energy. As his clone did the work, Naruto slowly strode forward to close the distance to Sairaorg.
The massive Bael heir did the same, tensing his muscles as he stepped forward to meet the whiskered blond.
("Wow. The tension between these two is palpable.")
("And the size difference is a little shocking. Though neither one seems to be that intimidated by it.")
("You know, in the human realm there are weight classes dividing fighters before they meet in the ring. If we were following rules like that I doubt we could ever get to see a proper match between these two. But right now, with things ramping up like this, I'm shaking with excitement.")
Naruto held out his hand, forming a Rasengan in his palm that quickly steadied and maintained its shape. Once it did he pumped in his Demonic Power, creating a core of the earth in its center that quickly broke apart and started filling the rest of the Jutsu.
Sairaorg smirked, sending a look back at the clone that was still gathering the natural energy for Sage Mode. With a faint chuckle, he then lowered his stance and center of gravity in front of the blond ninja. Naruto raised a brow at his action before Sairaorg nodded, "In honor of your friends and the fantastic battle they gave me…the first shot is yours."
Naruto scoffed, "That's a little patronizing. What if I ended the battle right here and now?"
"Well I think until your clone back there has finished gathering energy, the battle hasn't even started."
"So what? This would just be a nice little hello?"
"Let's consider it the continuation of our match the other day."
Naruto shrugged, "Well if you insist." He pulled his hand back with the Rasengan in it before suddenly summoning his Sacred Gear.
Sairaorg's body tensed-
"Earth Demon's Rasengan!"
Naruto slammed the spiraling chakra orb directly into Sairaorg's center mass and created a massive explosion of chakra and earth. It enveloped the Bael powerhouse before exploding out and carving a trough through the field behind him. The energy and power of the moment quickly faded after the attack landed.
The force and impact of the attacks were repeated over and over again. Brutally assaulting Sairaorg's body ten times over before finally coming to a halt. Both Rias and Regulas lowered their arms after the attack finally finished and saw the result of the collision.
Sairaorg's body glowed with faint light from the touki surrounding his body. And after coughing up small spittle of blood that stained his lips and teeth, Sairaorg lifted his eyes to gaze down and grin and Naruto.
The blond met his grin with a smirk of his own, even if a drop of sweat ran down his cheek, "You are just not of this world." Sairaorg chuckled before his fist suddenly reeled back, "RIAS!"
The redhead immediately swiped down and destroyed the clone at her side.
And as Sairaorg's fist blurred forward - moving so fast it was imperceptible to those watching-
Naruto leaned back at the last possible instant, Sairaorg's massive fist only millimeters from grazing his chin before he flipped back to gain some space.
The moment he landed in a crouch on the ground, Sairaorg was already over him with his fist raised to strike down. It blurred down and obliterated the ground around them-
But missed the target. The target that had jumped up, grabbed Sairaorg's shoulder and slammed his knee into the [King's] cheek as his fist splintered the ground.
("Wow! I-I never expected movement like that from Contestant Uzumaki! He's so quick!")
("And he dodged remarkably well. I still believe Contestant Bael holds the edge in pure power and strength, but being able to dodge so effectively will surely mitigate the threat behind those punches.")
("That's right. While Contestant Bael has touki cloaked around his body to bolster his strength and durability, Contestant Uzumaki collects natural energy around him to boost his power with Sage Mode.")
("He's a Sage?")
("I've never met someone who could use senjutsu that wasn't also part Yōkai.")
("That's why, when he does use it, he gains frog-like eyes and runs the risk of turning himself into a frog statue if he messes up.")
("A frog? Oh~, that suddenly explains a lot about the artistic choices you made in the shows you produce.")
("I know, right!")
Sairaorg hissed and started throwing a rapid series of punches. Naruto jumped back and avoided their path, even as the blowback and air pressure from each one sent ripples across the valley. He could feel the staggering amount of power behind each blow that would have broken just about anybody if they had been hit. Even more so now that he had his touki to boost his power.
Naruto couldn't risk letting any of those strikes hit him. But he couldn't just play it safe either.
He rushed in, narrowly avoiding the straight jab to his head as he slid into Sairaorg's flank. With a grunt, he dug a hook punch into Sairaorg's ribs and pushed through with all he had. And without skipping a beat he landed a second punch into his stomach.
Sairaorg's elbow dropped towards Naruto's head but he stepped aside before he could get cracked in the crown. Naruto spun around Sairaorg's body and punched him repeatedly in the back. The big Bael heir responded with a mule kick that Naruto ducked under and rushed in again.
He punched Sairaorg's face as the larger man leaned back to avoid his strike. But even though he dodged, Sairaorg suddenly felt a strike on his chin that sent his head flying back and caused him to stumble.
Naruto stood with his fists raised and watched as Sairaorg caught himself…lowering his head to reveal he was barely even fazed by the punch.
The blond Devil scoffed and sighed, "This is gonna be a lot harder than last time."
Sairaorg smiled and rubbed his chin, "Your punches still carry quite a lot of power as they did in our spar, and yet something feels different." He rolled his bottom jaw around a few times, "They feel like they lack the impact they did before. When you landed those punches before I felt like there was shaking through my whole body. Now it just doesn't seem like the case." He looked over at Naruto, "You aren't holding back, are you?"
Naruto shrugged, "No point in trying that against you. Besides, I'm not the reason my punches are hitting as well. You are." He gestured to Sairaorg's whole body, "My natural energy is supposed to hit you pretty hard internally, but that layer of touki you're emitting puts a damper on it before it can even do anything. It's like hitting a punching bag that's filled to burst with sand and not even an inch of space."
"I am?" Sairaorg looked himself over before chuckling, "I had no idea. I was attempting to use this energy to incorporate a little of that skillful dodging that you used."
"Yeah, and while your dodging could still use some work, it looks like you've turned that energy into an effective buffer to my Sage Mode."
"Hmm," Sairaorg nodded with a smile before raising his fists, "Seems you'll have to try harder."
"Yep," Naruto lowered his hand as a Rasengan started to form in his palm, "I guess I'll have to."
Rias watched in stunned silence as Naruto engaged Sairaorg in close-quarters combat and kept up with him. She always knew her lover was an extremely capable and adaptable fighter. And she knew after years of watching him grow that her cousin had become stronger than anyone else in their age group, and most likely many other Devils in the Underworld.
But it wasn't until she saw them clash - standing here watching them fight uninhibited that she started to realize the depth of their power. Moving at speeds so fast that even watching right now she wasn't able to keep up with all their movement. And landing punch after punch that would have destroyed her and many others she knew without fail.
She always knew the distance between her and them was vast…but only now was she getting a full view of what she had to catch up to.
Rias closed her eyes and shook her head, feeling that same feeling of inadequacy she had experienced ramping up to the Rating Game flare in her stomach. She quelled it and focused. Of course, she wasn't as strong as them yet. She still had much more work to put in before she reached that level. Until then…she had to support and watch them fight.
But Rias felt something run up her neck and turned with her Demonic Power covering her hands. When she did she found herself facing down the masked orange-haired [Pawn] Sairaorg had brought out to join him. Rias turned, "Regulus is your name, right?"
"It is." He nodded, "It's a pleasure to meet you, Rias Gremory. My master speaks of you quite highly to his peerage."
Rias should have felt honored but that unnerving sensation she had running up her neck hadn't left since talking with the young man, "So how can I help you? I doubt you came over here to stand with me and watch the fight."
"No, I did not." He shook his head, "I've come over here to implement my strategy."
Rias narrowed her eyes, flaring her Destruction even more in worry, "What strategy is that?"
"The one you used on my master last round. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery."
Her strategy? Using multiple servants on a [King]? Bombarding a fighter from all sides so they can't react? Rias wracked her brain-
Until her eyes slowly settled, "Wasting our Phoenix Tear, huh?"
"Yes," Regulus' flexed his hands as they grew with golden fur, "That's the one."
"Did Sairaorg encourage you to do so?"
"No, he asked me to stay out of his fight. He didn't give me any orders to stand down or attack you. But…" Regulus narrowed his eyes and Rias suddenly felt like she was being crushed by pressure, "Considering how desperately your servants gave themselves to fight and hinder him in the last round…can you be surprised how we servants want to help our [King] succeed no matter what?"
Rias stayed silent for a moment before faintly smiling and shaking her head, "No, I guess I can't. They may get themselves hurt or in trouble…but I love my servants like family. And I guess we're not the only ones."
Regulus nodded, happy to see she understood. And after he did he rushed forward, claws bursting forth from his hands.
Rias yelled, wiping her arms around and creating tendrils of Destruction from her hands like whips. Whips that were blown away by Regulus' claws as he charged in.
Issei watched in heavy silence as Naruto continued to engage with Sairaorg as Rias finally started fighting Regulus. The crowd was gasping and cheering, hanging onto every move both teams made with bated breath.
Issei on the other hand felt like someone was squeezing his lungs and stopping him from taking another breath. Naruto and Rias could take care of themselves and handle a fight…
But he couldn't squash his nerves that left him jittery and fearful.
The hand he felt a tug on his sleeve didn't seem very at ease either.
He looked down at Asia's fretful expression as she stared up at the monitor, "Issei-San, t-they'll be okay, won't they?"
Issei smiled, "Just trust them, Asia. They'll come through."
They both looked back up at the screen to watch their friends fight. And their hands intertwined together to offer the other some form of ease through the worry.
Sairaorg twisted around to attack behind him. He almost seemed to flash in place to turn around but it was a movement so swift and fast it appeared like a glitch in reality. Naruto clicked his teeth as he jumped back and avoided the dropping fist that cratered and obliterated the spot he had just been standing in.
The rocks blown out of the ground pelted his body and he smacked a few of them away from his head before glaring down at the giant Bael. Sairaorg was an insanely tough and powerful opponent. Strength and build comparable to a Raikage. Speed and reflexes like an Uchiha. And the tenacity and work ethic of a Bushy Brow.
Now a combination like that would terrify and demoralize anyone from his world who knew who he was talking about. And Sairaorg's reputation had already cemented him as someone not to fuck with in the Underworld.
But he wasn't invincible, and Naruto knew that now even after he had relinquished his restraints and used his full power.
Rossweisse had kept him at bay with an assault of water from all sides to hinder his movement. Xenovia had pressured him with surges of power that matched or even overwhelmed his own. And Yuuto had focused that strength into a cut that crippled Sairaorg's dominant arm and dealt more damage than anyone else.
He had to take what they found and use it to win.
"Shadow Clone Jutsu!"
Two clones popped into place around him as to charge forward to face down Sairaorg. The large man smirked and lowered his stance with his fists at the ready. And before they could reach him, he dashed ahead to meet them first.
The two clones immediately jumped away and up to avoid his bull rush. He spun around and raised his arm to guard against the dropkick from the one in the air as he raised his leg to avoid the sweep kick. The clones landed by each other and rush in to meet him in combat.
"Set!" One clone punched him in the face, "4x!"
"Set!" The other one swung his fist up into his ribs, "7x!"
Sairaorg felt the piercing pain of punches rattling his body repeat over and over as the clones landed quick but effective blows that they then looped to deal more damage. His touki hardened his body and made him stronger but if they kept attacking his weak points like this then he wasn't going to last long.
And through the onslaught of attacks, the Bael heir looked over to see Naruto forming a finishing blow. Sairaorg gritted his teeth and tightened his body before-
The yell he released boomed out of his throat and carried across the entire valley. Even the people in the audience watching were startled by the intensity in his voice. And with the flare of touki that raised from his body, the two clones he was fighting popped out of existence.
Naruto looked up from where he was forging his attack, "Oh shit!"
"There you are!" Sairaorg charged forward to attack him.
"Son of a-" Naruto cursed before he jumped up and deployed his wings. He hovered over Sairaorg's head, and before the pure-blooded Devil could spread his wings to chase him, Naruto dropped down to attack with his incomplete Jutsu, a regular-sized Rasengan with a small shuriken around it, "Futon: Rasengan!"
"HYAAAHHH!" Sairaorg's touki-enhanced fist collided with the Jutsu spiraling in Naruto's hand. And for a moment everything seemed to freeze and go silent as their collision finally met-
Until a titanic explosion between the Jutsu's monstrous force and the Devil's powerful punch erupted against each other. The force of their attacks seemed to mix for a moment before expanding like a dome of pressure.
A figure came sailing out of the dust kicked up from their clash and flew through the air before spinning. Naruto landed in a crouch and slid along the ground before finally coming to a stop. He looked back up to the dust cloud, bruises, and scratches along his body as he tried to catch his breath.
The dust quickly passed as Sairaorg waved his arm aside. The Bael heir was covered in dirt and scuff, with blood dripping down his knuckles from where he punched Naruto's attack. Yet despite the damage, his breath was barely any faster and he had a smile on his face.
Naruto chuckled, some primal part of his instincts telling him to go in and fight this guy with everything possible. He considered channeling the wind and activating his technique-
But her scream and the smell of blood drew his attention away.
Rias' body hit the ground and rolled through the dirt before she finally came to a stop. She gasped and whimpered as blood trailed out of the numerous slashes along her body. As she struggled to move or even lift herself, Regulus stood over her with a claw and golden fur stretching out from his arm.
But it was the blood dripping down her face that made him act without even thinking-
Naruto launched towards them, cracking the ground underneath him as he sailed through the air with his leg reeled back. Regulus sensed his approach and looked up in time to receive a foot to the face that knocked him off his feet and sent him flying back. He did manage to flip in the air and land on his feet with barely a mark on his chin.
Naruto dropped to his knees and checked over Rias as quickly as he could, "Rias? Rias, can you hear me?" He didn't want to touch her in fear that he would only cause her more pain, "Rias, say something, please!"
"Y-You know," The crimson-haired Devil muttered as she slowly raised her head to look at him, "I always w-wondered what it was like for you when you get hurt and carry injuries. I think I understand a little better." She hissed, a small tear forming in her eye before she finished, "It fucking sucks."
"Hehe." Even in the panic of seeing her so bloody, Naruto couldn't help but chuckle at her joke. He wanted to help her settle into a position she'd be comfortable in-
"You should use the Phoenix Tear to heal her now. Before she retires."
Naruto inhaled sharply through his nose and looked back at Regulus as he just stood off to the side patiently waiting for them to act. Feeling like everything around him was starting to go black, Naruto turned-
Only for a hand to quickly catch his and squeeze. Naruto looked down at Rias as she tried to catch her breath. A small concentration of Destruction hovered between their hands and Naruto quickly understood what she was aiming to do. He focused and created a Rasengan over his hand and around the small concentration of her Demonic Power.
Once it was done, he raised his hand and showed off the spiraling orb with the black and red core. He eyed down Regulus and snarled before charging at him. The orange-haired man took a step back and reeled his hand away in preparation. Naruto made his final leap and yelled-
"GRAND DESTRUCTION RASENGAN!"
The Jutsu clashed with Regulus' claw and the struggle between them lasted for several seconds before the Bael [Pawn] started to get pushed back. The Destruction at the center of Naruto's Jutsu started to swell and it would have burst and overwhelmed Regulus. Until-
With a flash of light, Regulus' form changed and Naruto was overwhelmed by it. The force of the Rasengan went off course, flying away at their side and erupting into a devastating beam that obliterated everything in its path, carrying through the field and drilling into the side of the mountain.
Naruto bounced off the ground before quickly flipping back up to his feet and staring in shock at the strange sight he'd seen before their clash exploded.
The smoke and dust burst away as a mighty lion's roar shook the air around them. And from its center emerged a giant lion, 2 or 3 times larger than any of them with golden fur and a luxurious mane. Each step the lion took shook the ground beneath them and the aura coming off of it could have frozen a normal person in fear.
("That's the Nemean Lion! The legendary beast of Greek legend! The first monster slain in Heracles' Twelve Labors and said to be impervious to all attacks and mortal weapons! I-I can't believe I'm seeing it with my own eyes!")
("The essence of the lion was extracted by The Lord of The Bible and planted into a Sacred Gear that would become so strong it was classified as a Longinus! The ax is strong enough to destroy the planet, Regulus Nemea! R-Regulus?! Regulus! HOW DID I NOT SEE THAT BEFORE?! A-AHAHAHAHA!")
Rias shuddered while lying on the ground, "Someone's going to have to clean up after him."
"Great, so not only are we fighting Sairaorg - who was enough of a pain in the ass already - there's also a Longinus here strong enough to shatter the Earth."
[Meh, do you have any idea how many of us super-powered beings make the claim we can destroy a world? And yet the world is still sitting there, nice and unbroken. I'll believe it when I see it.]
"And I can do without a demonstration." Naruto groused to his partner in the Sacred Gear before he stood up. Sairaorg walked over, running his hand through the lion's mane, "I thought pure-blooded Devils couldn't get Sacred Gears? How in the world did you get your hands on a Longinus?"
"I found the ax that contained his spirit after his previous user was killed. Normally Sacred Gears are supposed to reenter the cycle of use after their user is killed, but some kind of glitch must have occurred because there was nowhere for him to go. So I offered him a place in my peerage." Sairaorg frowned slightly at the golden lion, "But I didn't want you to interfere."
[I am sorry, my master.] Regulus bowed his head apologetically, [I was not aiming to intervene in your match, but I did not want to stand aside while your foes had such a clear advantage over you. As long as they still had their Phoenix Tear and you were accumulating damage, this match would not end in your favor.]
"And I understand that." Sairaorg said sternly before sighing and nodding his head, "But I can hardly fault you for trying to fight for my benefit. However Regulus," He stepped in front of the lion and faced Naruto, "From now on you will only fight in this match if I say so, understood?"
[Very well, Master.]
Sairaorg stepped up, casting his gaze over at Rias as she finally got up into a sitting position to watch the fight more clearly. Seeing the blood drip from her body was surprisingly hard to watch but the Bael heir steeled himself and focused his attention on his blond competitor, "She's going to need to act fast."
"She has the vial." Naruto growled, just as much to convince himself that he needed to focus on this part of the fight instead of running to help her, "I need to take care of the both of you."
"You don't need to worry about Regulus. I'm the [King] so if I'm defeated then that settles the match, and I told him not to intervene anymore."
"Yeah well, he still looks ready to pounce." No matter what assurance Sairaorg thought he gave, it wasn't going to convince Naruto that the giant golden lion standing off to their side wasn't going to jump in and join the fight, "And he's not going to make another move on Rias, is he?"
"You have my word." Sairaorg promised, "Now why don't we get back to our match?"
Naruto took a sharp inhale and nodded his head, "Yeah. Yeah, I guess we will."
Sairaorg nodded, taking a stance and chambering a fist at his side before becoming completely still.
Naruto eyed him warily and tried to discern what he was attempting to do in that stance. He couldn't sense any intent to attack or make a move from that position. He couldn't sense much of anything from Sairaorg - even his touki and pressure had receded. It was like he had suddenly become a statue unwilling to move.
Something was up…but he couldn't just stand here waiting to figure out Sairaorg's next move.
Naruto sprinted forward, closing the distance between them in less than a second as he jumped up near Sairaorg's head. The muscular brawler did not attempt to move or dodge as Naruto came toward him. The blond Devil yelled and twisted in the air before landing a kick against Sairaorg's temple.
But the moment it landed, Sairaorg's eyes seemed to ignite with purpose.
As his head jerked aside with Naruto's foot still slamming into his skull, the rest of Sairaorg's body started to move. His hips twisted and his fist flew upwards towards Naruto's body. Now Naruto sensed his attack incoming, but in his current position of kicking against Sairaorg's face, he couldn't move out of his punch's path.
He twisted his body, used his arms to guard, and his wings started to unfurl from his back to carry him to safety. But none of those precautions came out fast enough before Sairaorg's fist could travel up into Naruto's body.
And the moment it connected-
Rias had to shield her eyes and ears after a sonic boom erupted from their position. An explosion of wind and sound carried out with their exchange as the epicenter, and it was so powerful she found herself getting blown back against the ground. She struggled to look back at where they stood and saw Sairaorg with his fist held up to the sky while the lion stood strong despite the wind whipping its fur around.
Rias panicked, "NARUTO!"
Sairaorg lowered his fist and looked up, a black bruise forming on his temple with a small trail of blood dripping down his cheek.
("W-What in the world was that?!")
("Emperor? As the premiere combatant in this booth, do you think you can shed a little light on what we just saw?")
("That was Contestant Bael's new technique. A counterattack he's been practicing in anticipation of this match. He lowers his guard and vanquishes his energy from around his body.")
("That sounds extremely dangerous!")
("It is, and I warned him to modify it so that he can still protect himself and his body in case it doesn't work. Unfortunately, he's too stubborn to listen and couldn't perfect it in time for this match. However, because of that weakness, it goads opponents to attack him more eagerly. The moment before they hit, he drops his stance and counters, releasing all the energy he has pent up in his body in one explosive attack and using his enemy's momentum and power against them. It wasn't meant to be an uppercut like that, and he's supposed to strike the instant before the enemy's attack lands, not during.")
("He realized he couldn't afford to play it safe.")
("What do you mean, Azazel-dono?")
("Contestant Uzumaki's Sage Mode allows him to move and dodge with amazing accuracy. He told me he avoided the strike of a blisteringly fast opponent many times quicker than him and countered with the help of this form. If he knows which direction the attack is coming it doesn't matter how fast it is, he can at least prepare to dodge it. But Contestant Bael used the fact that he was landing his kick to strike back, initiating his counter punch when Contestant Uzumaki wouldn't be able to dodge completely.")
("He may have suffered a pretty nasty kick, but it looks like in return he's finally landed the first direct attack on his opponent.")
Rias looked up in fright and saw a figure falling out of the sky. She nearly cried out for him before his wings suddenly popped out and his dissent rapidly slowed down. Even as he flew down to the ground his movement was rough and uneasy. And the moment his feet touched down he fell to his knees and coughed up mouthful after mouthful of blood.
"Naruto!" Rias cried out, pushing through the pain in her body to slowly make her way over to him.
As he gagged and hocked up more blood with what he swore were pieces in it, he wiped his mouth and chin, "Fucking hell, what was that?"
[I think that punch was a lot stronger than anything else he's thrown today.]
"Yeah, I could tell." He held his lower chest and flinched as even though his pain tolerance and durability were greatly raised with Sage Mode, he could tell something was wrong when he moved, "Damn, what did he do?"
[I think…something might have popped?]
"S-Something popped?" The dread in Naruto's voice peeked through at Kurama's warning, "What popped?"
"My stomach?!" He groaned, feeling something rush up his throat but forcing it down. He looked over in Sairaorg's direction and even though it was uncomfortable to do so he raised his voice, "A punch at full power used to counter an opponent's attack?"
He smirked, "You know I can't help but think you had me in mind when making that up."
Sairaorg chuckled and wiped the blood off his face, "Well when you meet an opponent you struggle to compete with, it seems only natural to make moves and strategies to deal with them."
"Heh, I'm flattered." Naruto coughed again and spat up a little more blood before he noticed who was approaching. He stepped over and flinched before dropping down by Rias' side, "Are you okay?"
"M-Me? You just exploded with a punch!" The bloody redhead countered before looking him over, "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine. I mean Kurama says my stomach popped-"
"Yeah but he's not a doctor so what does he know?" Naruto tried to lightly deflect the conversation away from his injuries as he looked at the myriad of cuts over her body, "What about you? Have you taken the Tear yet?"
"N-No, I was watching you fight. If you have internal bleeding then you should-"
"No, I'll be fine. You need to take it before you bleed out enough to retire."
"Rias, trust me," Naruto assured her as she frowned and reached for the vial. She popped it open and downed it as Naruto turned to look at Sairaorg, "Now it's time to-"
A pair of hands clamped around his cheeks and turned his head as Rias planted her lips on his. His eyes widened in shock as not only did she kiss him but he could feel something flow out of her mouth and into his. The strange liquid went down his throat before it stopped and she pulled away.
The cuts on her body lightly steamed and closed as he felt the difficulty in his breathing ease, "There, now you'll be able to fight a little better."
Naruto touched his lips, "Did you-"
"I wanted you to have it and you wanted me to have it. This seemed like the best compromise." A faint pink dusted her cheeks, "But I knew you wouldn't take any of it if I offered so…I passed some of it to you."
"Don't argue. It's already done." She sternly stated, "Now I'm not sure how much of your injury is going to heal with what I gave you, but maybe now-"
"I was going to use Golden Hour Revival to turn young so my injury would have vanished. I didn't need any part of the Tear."
"O-Oh." Her eyes widened in mortified realization as the pink dust on her cheeks turned deep red in embarrassment.
("Oh wow! A big shocking turn of events during this match! You think they'd be able to control themselves but nope; the idiot couple rear their empty heads and make idiots of themselves again! Ahaha!")
("I take it this happens a lot?")
("More than you'd think!")
Through her blush and indignation, Rias swore she was going to make Azazel pay when this was over.
Ignoring the embarrassment he expected to show up on his face, Naruto stood up from his spot and faced down their opponents. As he did so he realized that his breathing was easier and the discomfort he felt a moment ago had passed. Looks like even if Rias didn't need to give him part of the Tear it still did a lot to help him.
"Haha, you two always know what to do to cheer each other on even in the toughest of conditions."
Naruto coughed and looked aside with a blush, "W-We don't do this kinda stuff on purpose, you know. I-It just sorta – the heat of the moment and stuff."
[Thank goodness it seems like that was the limit of your heat at that moment.]
[Tell me about it.]
Oh great, even the stupid lion of myth and legend was taking pot shots. Naruto scowled at his Sacred Gear, "Shut up Kurama." His expression focused before he raised his arm, "You ready?"
[As I'll ever be.]
Sairaorg smiled and started to tremble with excitement, "Your ace, I presume? I didn't get to test it out last time we crossed blows but I've heard quite a lot about it."
"Well, here it is."
Sairaorg was nearly blinded by the golden light coming off of Naruto before it died down. When it did he got a look at the younger form he now possessed, a shorter man with orange and black clothing donning a metal headband with a spiral leaf on it. Naruto slowly looked up at him in silence…
And then suddenly it happened.
An orange flash of light covered him, and Naruto stood as if a fire had become his skin. His entire body was wreathed in a yellow to orange hue, with black lines along his chest and limbs that connected into a long cloak that fluttered off of his body.
The power…the pressure coming off of him…was more than any other Sairaorg had met in battle. He felt his excitement peak-
"Sairaorg," Naruto spoke up, "Fair warning…guard."
He was confused by his opponent's words before they finally clicked in his head. Sairaorg immediately raised his touki and quickly brought his arms together to protect himself.
The moment they were closed, he saw a flash of orange before an incredible impact struck him. Sairaorg gritted his teeth and felt like he was going to pop something as he resisted the force of the kick. But even as he did his feet dug into the ground and he stubbornly refused to fly back off his feet.
Just as he thought he had weathered the power of Naruto's kick-
He suddenly vanished from in front of him and appeared at his side with another orange flash. Sairaorg tried to move in time to block but Naruto's punch landed on his cheek and sent him flying across the valley.
Sairaorg quickly landed and planted his feet before throwing a punch that carried through the air. As the force of his punch carried him forward and dug a trench through the ground across the valley, Naruto narrowly dodged aside before rushing forward. As his blond foe approached, Sairaorg raised his fists and prepared to fight.
Naruto blocked Sairaorg's punch he lashed out with a kick that was blocked with his forearm. They struggled against each other before Naruto was knocked back by the swing of Sairaorg's arms.
"WRAAAHHH!" The Bael Devil rushed after him, throwing fists as quickly as he could at the young ninja who flipped back to avoid his attacks. The air vibrated with each punch thrown and Naruto continued to evade by mere inches before landing on his feet and rushing in. Sairaorg raised his arm and blocked the blond's punch with a grunt before raising his fist to strike him in the face.
Some orange glowed in the corner of his eye and Sairaorg suddenly felt enough force on his flank to send him flying off his feet.
He bounced off the ground several times before slowing to a halt. With a groan, he looked back up and saw Naruto with his hand extended while a giant claw forged from the orange energy around him overlapped his fist. The energy receded around him until it disappeared inside of the cloak.
("W-What in the world was that?")
("It seemed like he changed the energy around him into limbs. I understand that he uses something called chakra, right? A form of internal energy like touki that allows him to utilize ninjutsu is what you told us, correct? But I've never seen anything like this.")
("This is the energy of the demon fox sealed within his body, Kurama the nine-tailed fox. Due to some injuries years ago he can't properly access that power at the moment, but thanks to his Sacred Gear - gifted by yours truly mind you - he can regain that power for a short time. He might look like a big matchstick, but I can attest to the power of that form. It is formidable, and Contestant Uzumaki and his partner Kurama know how to use it.")
With a stroll forward Naruto made his way toward Sairaorg. But suddenly burst into a dash and threw one hand forward to reach for the large Devil. The orange chakra extended and formed Kurama's jaw as it snapped down on the Bael heir. Before it could crush him in its maw Sairaorg planted his hands and feet between the teeth and kept it wedged open. It took a swell of power to keep them away from each other but Sairaorg didn't flinch while in the middle.
But it did leave him open.
Naruto slammed another Rasengan into Sairaorg's unguarded chest while he kept the jaws pried open. The spiral sphere dug into his chest and while the touki did protect against the brunt of the attack, he still struggled to stay standing before the attack took its effect.
Sairaorg was blasted out of Kurama's mouth and went flying back through the air. He tried to reorient himself but he was blown away before his hand touched the ground. Just then his fingers immediately dug into the ground and tore up earth to slow him down enough so that he stopped.
Once he did he fell to the ground and let out a ragged cough before looking down at his chest. His touki had weathered most of the attack but the power and force had been able to penetrate his defense. He had a large grind mark that tore part of his shirt open and marked his skin. Enough that a bruise was already forming along with some specks of blood.
As Sairaorg touched his stomach and felt a sharp pain through it, he also sensed the swell of power in front of him. He looked back up and saw Naruto stand tall with one hand raised as orange arms formed another spiral in his hands. But this time he hadn't interrupted so the spinning blade around it grew to full size and the Jutsu was primed for full power.
This was enough for him to realize. Right now Sairaorg could tell he wasn't a match for Naruto at this level of power. He had put up a good fight against his earlier senjutsu techniques, and he could tell strength-wise he was comparable to even this form. But his speed, stamina, technique, reflexes, and manipulation of the energy around him suddenly gave him a monumental advantage in this battle.
He was stronger than him now. It pained Sairaorg to admit it but it was true.
Even so, he stood back up and raised his fists. Even if his foe was stronger than him that just meant he had to keep pushing on. Sairaorg's determination to win along with his mother's words kept him standing through the pain.
You will definitely win one day…
"If you don't give up." Sairaorg finished his mother's words of advice before clenching his fists and charging forward, "WRRRRAAAAHHHHHHHHHHHH!"
Naruto narrowed his eyes before dashing in to meet him. He held out his Rasenshuriken to attack-
In time for a massive shadow to jump between them.
The Jutsu clashed against its target and exploded as a giant dome of wind and chakra enveloped the area. Naruto jumped back and looked up in surprise as he saw the golden lion standing in his way of reaching Sairaorg.
("I-I don't believe it! The Regulus Nemea has stepped in to stop Combatant Uzumaki's attack!")
"Regulus?!" Sairaorg barked out the lion's name as he walked up to his side, "What are you doing?! I told you not to interfere in this fight unless I said so!"
[I know, my master! And I swore I would not step in! But I believe in your current state of injury, that last attack would have ended the fight! And I cannot stomach the idea of your loss now after coming so far! Please, my master, use me! Let me help you find victory!]
"No!" Sairaorg resolutely denied the idea, stepping around Regulus' large body to face his foe alone again, "That is only for situations when the Underworld is in danger. Otherwise, I will not resort to that power."
[But my master-]
"I can do this myself!" Sairaorg exclaimed, his face red in anger and spittle flying off his lips as his eyes hardened, "I have come this far on my strength! I can still go further!" He raised his fists and tensed his arms, "If I'm not strong enough yet then I will simply push myself to fill that gap! I can-"
A shadow descended from above Sairaorg-
His face snapped aside as Rias slapped his cheek with her hand surrounded by a magic circle.
"Dammit," She cursed as she landed on her feet and stumbled. Naruto quickly ran over and caught her shoulders to keep her steady as the fatigue from her blood loss started catching up, "I strengthen my hand and it still felt like slapping a brick wall."
"Rias?" Sairaorg looked down at his cousin in surprise, barely even a sting in his cheek after her sudden slap. She looked up at him before finding her footing, asking Naruto to let her go as she stepped up to him.
"I was so frustrated about this fight as it was approaching. There was something that felt wrong about wanting to become the champion of the Rating Games and defeat you, yet not being able to win these fights myself." Rias confessed, "I got so angry that I started training, and hopefully one day I'll attain the power to fight for myself alongside my peerage, not just behind them. But until then I know they can support and help me see my dream through." She looked back at Naruto and smiled fondly, "I realize that now…"
She turned back with a frown at Sairaorg and shook her head, "But you aren't like that. You're already strong enough as is…but you won't rely on your peerage to help you. These are the people you have chosen to help and guide. These are the ones that choose to follow you and respect you. Through this entire Rating Game, we've witnessed how far all of them are willing to go to help you win and achieve your dream. But you are so focused on doing this by yourself that you won't let them help you."
She looked up at him sadly and shook her head, "I know you want to prove to her that you're strong enough…but she wouldn't want to see you do this alone either."
"Sairaorg," Naruto stepped up with a hand on his stomach just over the black circle formation, "This power I'm using is because Kurama and I are working as partners. We trust each other, rely on each other, and because of it, we're able to fight and push on through so many difficult obstacles. We'll use it to reclaim those we've lost…and we'll use it to see Rias' dream of victory through to the end. If you want to become a beacon of strength to the Devils of the Underworld and become the strongest…you can't half-ass it by yourself. You gained the trust, respect, and admiration of so many others. Don't waste that."
Sairaorg closed his eyes and slowly lowered his head. As he did he felt the ground tremble at his side as the golden lion stepped up by his flank. Without looking he reached up and laced his hands through the golden mane, "I'm sorry Regulus. My damnable pride nearly cost us everything."
[Do not apologize for your pride, Master. We are lions. We never allow our pride to falter. It is what I admire about you the most.]
"Heh," Sairaorg chuckled, "Then will you let me keep our pride, and join me in this fight?"
[You need only ask.]
"Then become my strength, Regulus Nemea."
The Devil and the lion flashed with golden light.
Naruto scooped up Rias and jumped a great distance away as his opponents were bathed in an intense glow of golden brilliance. Once she was at a safe distance Naruto headed back as the light faded away and his foe stood proudly.
Sairaorg was decked in golden, resplendent armor that covered him from head to toe. A mighty golden lion head adorned the chest plate and the energy coming off him was leagues stronger than it was moments ago. This truly was the apex of his power.
The golden-armored Devil opened his eyes and met the gaze of the chakra-clad ninja. They stared each other down as neither one made any move. A faint wind came in through the mountains and rushed through the valley-
"HAAAA!" Naruto yelled, summoning Kurama's body through the chakra cloak as the nine-tailed fox's immense form suddenly appeared within the clearing. With his superior size and power, he spun around and brought his tails down on Sairaorg to crush him before he could make a move.
Sairaorg opened his arms and caught one of the tails before it collided with him. The force of the impact dragged his feet through the ground and he struggled with it before finally coming to a stop. Once he did he twisted his body, dragging the tail over his shoulder and yanking on it with all his strength until he got some give-
In the form of the giant Bijū lifting over his head until he let go of the tail and sent it careening into the side of a mountain.
Kurama's giant chakra construct body laid on its back as Naruto hovered upside down in its head. He rubbed his head and looked around in disbelief, "Did he just fucking shoulder throw us?!"
"Yeah, I-I didn't see that coming. He's got a lot more power now than we anticipated."
Naruto looked up and saw Sairaorg charging toward them like a juggernaut. He held his hands out towards Kurama's mouth, "Kurama!"
"Right!" The Bijū opened his mouth and gathered chakra between his jaw before rapidly firing it at the oncoming hulk. The machine gun bursts of chakra decimated the valley, flying out in every direction and riddling the mountain range with explosions and holes.
And yet each one that sailed towards Sairaorg has knocked aside or blocked during his rush ahead. Until he finally came upon them with his fist raised and energy built up.
Naruto and Kurama leaped off the ground and lunged overhead as Sairaorg punched. They landed in time to watch a powerful blast of energy release from Sairaorg's fist that carved into the mountain and left a giant furrow in it.
"Did he just shrug off our rapid fire?"
"Looks like it."
"How the hell did he-"
("Looks like Contestant Uzumaki's attempt at long-range didn't quite work out! How will he deal with Contestant Bael's sudden and impressive power-up?!")
("The legend of the Nemean Lion says that no weapon or projectile could pierce the beast's mane. So Heracles resorted to killing it with his bare hands. Only the god of strength's raw power was enough to fell it in the end. As an ax, it had enough power to shatter worlds, but as armor, I suppose it took on the other part of its legend. The unbreakable hide that can only be matched in battle.")
Hand-to-hand, was it? Naruto drew the Kurama chakra form back into himself and landed on the ground before whispering, "Kurama, you mind giving me a hand gathering the natural energy? If we gotta settle this with our fists, a little Sage Mode on top will probably do wonders."
As Sairaorg slowly started to approach, Naruto felt the natural energy rush into him smoother and faster than usual. He almost forgot how quickly he could gather it in this form compared to how he normally did it. In a matter of moments, he felt empowered and opened his eyes to reveal the cross pupils in his eyes of Sage Mode and Kurama's influence.
Once he was ready, he strode forward at a brisk pace to meet Sairaorg halfway there. With the natural energy mixing with his Bijū chakra, he could sense the immense power of the Longinus mixing with the touki that had spiked with Sairaorg's revitalization.
He was…so strong. All of this…built from his power and his connection with others.
Naruto couldn't help but tremble with excitement. And from the look on his face, Sairaorg couldn't either.
They both picked up speed into a brisk jog. And then a run. Followed by a bursting sprint, closing the distance between them in a manner of seconds as they both roared at the top of their lungs and reeled their fists back.
Sairaorg's fist dug straight into Naruto's nose as his punch flew up and knocked into the Bael Devil's jaw hard enough to send his head back.
Naruto stumbled back, feeling the pain in his nose even through the Sage Mode and Kurama's chakra but quickly ignored them. He rushed in, burying his fist into Siaraorg's ribs and chest as fast as he could. The armor wasn't budging, but as long as he kept hammering away like this then he could cause some damage inside. He didn't give him a moment to breathe-
Which only left him vulnerable when Sairaorg brought his fists down in a hammer strike on his back. He slammed into the ground with a thud before Sairaorg kicked him and sent him flying away.
But Naruto had already grabbed his ankle before getting knocked away, extending his chakra hand as he flew before sharply yanking up and dragging Sairaorg along with him. With a scream and a twist, Sairaorg flew over his head before he was spiked into the ground hard enough to crater it. And once he was planted in the earth Naruto pulled again to drag himself in.
He landed atop Sairaorg and created a Rasengan in each hand before digging them into either side of his head, "Rasenrengan!"
Sairaorg felt like his whole head was being assaulted by a drill and could have sworn his teeth were rattling. But even as cracks started to appear in the sides of his helmet he roared and acted.
A golden knee flew up and slammed into Naruto's sternum, forcing the air out of the blond's lungs as he nearly doubled over from the pain. Sairaorg grabbed Naruto's arm before he could retreat and viciously punched him across the face over and over again.
Nine tails of chakra sprouted out from Naruto's cloak as he was punched and slammed into Sairaorg from all angles. His golden armor resisted the rapid assault but his body did buckle under the force. And as they slammed into his elbow and the back of his knee he weakened his hold and fell to the ground.
"HAAA!" With a spin, Naruto landed a kick into Sairaorg's face that drew blood from his nose. He stepped in to attack again-
Sairaorg punched forward and created a beam of power that overwhelmed Naruto and exploded into the ground. He lifted himself and wiped his face as he stared at the dust cloud anxiously.
Naruto rushed out of the dust with a dozen clones following right behind him. He leaped up and punched Sairaorg in the face, "U!"
Several clones slid in underneath-
And as they kicked Sairaorg up into the air, all the other clones closed in on him from all directions-
The clones struck Sairaorg all at once as he could only curl up and try to defend himself. As the super-powered punches landed one after another in repetition the cracks and breaks finally started to form around the golden armor. He weathered the attacks for as long as he could-
Until he wildly swung his arms out and stopped the clones from charging in before he roared, "LION'S PRIDEFUL CHARGE!"
Sairaorg started punching rapidly in every direction. Each punch he threw had the same power and force behind it that drilled into a mountain. And he threw each punch with his whole body and spirit behind each one. His face started to go red from the strain and constant force but he persisted before roaring, "HYAAAAAHHHHHHHH!"
The final punch was thrown before Sairaorg lowered his fists and caught his breath. He looked up and saw the valley in front of him covered in a cloud of dust and smoke so large it reached over the mountains around them. Catching his breath he squared his shoulders and stood back up.
An orange light appeared in the smoke and with a mighty roar, Kurama displaced all the dust at once. With Naruto in the center of his head, he raised a claw and brought it down on Sairaorg hard enough to crack a web across the valley in every direction.
"V-Vali-sama?" Le Fay nervously spoke up as she hid reflexively behind Fenrir for protection, "Vali-sama!"
"Hmm?" The silver-haired young man looked up from the sight of Naruto and Sairaorg exchanging blows, "Is something the matter, Le Fay?"
"Vali," Arthur raised his hand, "I understand you're excited watching this fight…but you need to reel it back."
The Lucifer decadent was confused by his team's concern before he looked back and realized his Divine Dividing had sprouted from his back. They vanished back into his shoulder blades and he coughed, "Apologies. I thought I had it under control."
Bikou scoffed, "All good man. Happens to the best of us."
Kuroka giggled, "Yeah, at least it wasn't in the locker room, nya."
They both frowned, "Oh c'mon! That was a perfect 1:1 boner joke!"
"You guys have no class!"
Ophis tilted her head, "What is, a boner joke?"
"Cao Cao, this is a difficult enough procedure as is! Calm down and stop moving!"
The Hero leader took a breath and sat back, keeping his attention on the screen where Sairaorg punched the tailed beast up into the air only for Naruto to slip out and slam a Giant Rasengan down on him.
He leaned back in his chair and looked down at the meat being fused to the bones of his hand and laced with the nerves and veins, "How much longer?"
"Not long to go now." Georg answered, "After this, we'll have to do some physical therapy to make sure everything works. But I'm optimistic. I hope it wasn't too painful."
"It was. But that and watching the fight has churned some of my creative juices." Cao Cao said as he looked back at the screen, "I have some new ideas in mind."
"Hmm, they're both quite good but rough around the edges. They still have a lot of growing to do before they become suitable fighters to meet me."
Indra's bodyguard looked back at him and saw what could only be described as a hungry look on the Hindu God's face as he watched them fight. With a sigh, he shook his head and turned back to watch the gasping and cheering audience.
It was strange to see him revert to a younger version of himself. And he had found someone in that crimson-haired Devil that kissed him in front of a crowd. But even now when he was overflowing with the Kyūbi's chakra and destroying everything in sight in tandem with his foe it was clear as day…
"Same old reckless, ridiculous fool."
Rias had never had to move so frequently and desperately before. She thought she could have just sat in place and watched them fight as she recovered some energy and rested after the injuries she had received from Regulus.
She couldn't be more wrong.
Naruto and Sairaorg's battle had only continued to ramp up the longer it went on. It almost seemed like both men were immune to exhaustion or fatigue while in this fight. They still had the same intensity and power behind each attack as when they started.
As everything around her was annihilated by either Sairaorg's punching or Naruto's enhanced Jutsu she realized she couldn't stay on the ground for much longer. She flew into the air, ignoring the protest of her tired body as she floated high in the sky and over the battlefield as much as she possibly could.
From there she watched their battle rage. As time passed and she lost track of how long she'd been flying, she saw them raze this entire battlefield to nothing. The mountains that surrounded them had toppled into gravel and rock. And the flowery green field had been broken and burnt until it was nothing but scorched earth.
Once the fighting had hit a lull Rias took the risk and started lowering herself back to ground level. She gingerly landed on her feet and looked around at the smoky landscape. It all seemed like ground zero to a disaster event and yet only happened because two powerful men could go all out with each other.
A rapid spinning of smoke and dust drew her eye as an ear-screeching ring started to emanate out. She saw a faint light in the smoke that blew away to reveal Naruto holding a Rasenshuriken in his hands. The orange chakra around his body was flickering and slowly losing its intensity. And through the smoke she saw Sairaorg step forward, that shimmering golden armor now littered with cracks and breaks in its hide.
Naruto gritted his teeth and dashed towards Sairaorg with his Jutsu in hand. In response, Sairaorg dropped his body and took the same fighting stance he did before when he countered Naruto's attack. The distance grew shorter and shorter until they were right in front of each other.
The two attacks met and Rias had to shield herself from the torrential rush of wind and the light as blinding as the sun. As she was nearly deafened by the resulting explosion she finally lowered her arms once the assault on her senses faded.
She saw Sairaorg still standing with the last pieces of his armor cracking and falling off of his body. He glowed with golden light before Regulus reappeared by his side and toppled over with a pained groan.
A dozen meters away, Naruto groaned and picked himself up as the last vestiges of his chakra cloak faded away. Once he was left exhausted and slightly beat up after his super mode had depleted, he rubbed his head, "Damn. Haven't been this tired since the war." He picked himself up and looked around at the destruction before he spotted Rias. He waved at her and she nodded back before he turned to Sairaorg, "How are you doing?"
"Honestly; more exhausted than I've ever felt before." Sairaorg answered honestly through his panting.
[I-I am sorry, Master! Allow me to regain some strength and you can wear me-]
"It's fine. I know you're exhausted, Regulus. As am I." Sairaorg took a deep breath, gingerly standing up straight and raising his fists again, "But as long as I'm standing, I'll keep fighting until I can't."
Naruto stood silently and watched him prepare to fight, "Kurama…"
"Yeah, I know! Give me a second! Been a while since I had to mold chakra like this! I just need a little under a minute to get back to fighting-"
"I - what? Stop? What do you mean stop?" Kurama asked skeptically before he felt Naruto's seriousness, "Naruto, are you sure?"
Kurama lowered his hands and stopped gathering energy and instead focused-
Naruto flashed and suddenly returned to his original, older form. Sairaorg, Rias, and everyone watching looked on in surprise as Naruto regained the Sage Mode color around his eyes and groaned with a hand on his stomach, "Shit, I forgot there was still some damage inside."
"What are you doing?"
Naruto looked back up at Sairaorg and smiled. He closed his eyes and focused on conjuring wind around his body, "You used your partner to get stronger and fight me at full power as I asked. And I thank you for that. And after our fight, yours is a little worse for wear while mine has to gather energy. And in the time he needs to gather it you could probably end me. So instead, after we've given everything else we can offer…"
Naruto channeled his Demonic Power and natural energy together, summoning the wind around him in his Elemental Nirvana, "How about we finish this with just us? You and me? Until we can't go any further?"
Sairaorg smiled and nodded, "I like the sound of that, Naruto Uzumaki."
"I thought you would." The wind around Naruto started to rapidly pick up and his feet started floating off the ground before he suddenly rushed forward in a burst of speed, "Let's go!"
The blond Devil slid into Sairaorg's guard and slammed his palm into the fighter's chest. A vortex of wind gathered down his arm and slammed into Sairaorg's chest, sending him flying back with a gag before digging his feet in to stop his flying back.
Sairaorg spat up a mix of saliva and blood before he started throwing punches. Naruto hovered and swiftly avoided the path of his punches, slipping in and landing quick strikes on his body before floating back so Sairaorg couldn't counter.
He continued to do so, slowly whittling down Sairaorg's stamina and body. Sairaorg yelled and threw an uppercut at Naruto's chin that he evaded before flying back in. He slammed both of his palms into the other Devil's chest and released a burst of wind that blew through him and made the Bael Devil double over.
Double over fast enough that Sairaorg's forehead slammed into the top of Naruto's crown. And as he was shocked for a moment by the sudden attack, Sairaorg's hands latched onto Naruto's shoulders as he reeled back and head-butted him again.
Sairaorg's forehead slammed into Naruto's head and face as quickly as he could. Each strike drew more and more blood from Naruto as both of their faces were steadily coated with it. Even through the pain Naruto narrowed his eyes and snaked his hands up under Sairaorg's chin.
A sharp burst of wind blew his head back and Naruto followed up with vicious punches. He sent Sairaorg's head and body jerking aside with each strike and refused to give the Bael heir even a moment of pause. He slammed his fist into Sairaorg's cheek and drew a splash of blood-
Just as Sairaorg's fist flew up and buried itself into his sternum.
Feeling like his lungs had just been crushed, Naruto gasped for air for a moment before he felt another strike incoming. He leaned back and avoid the punch before lurching back in. And as his punch struck the collarbone, he felt a knee bury itself under his ribs.
A shot of pain rushed through his body, but he knew that he would never get anywhere in this fight if he stayed on the defensive. He could keep dodging and evading Sairaorg's attacks while landing glancing blows but his control over the wind would falter sooner than Sairaorg would fall.
In that case…he just had to go all in. Trust in his durability and tenacity…and finish it.
Naruto grit his teeth and clenched his fists, causing a swell of wind to gather around his arms as Sairaorg started tensing his muscles.
The two started trading blows. Sairaorg's fist lashed out and caught Naruto every time his wind-enhanced punches landed on his body. With wind grinding and cutting into Sairaorg's body as his touki started to falter. And Naruto's nose grew more and more bruised as he tanked punches from the young champion.
After so many traded blows and exhaustion piling up between them, both men tried to catch their breaths and chambered their fists. Sairaorg's arm flexed as much as possible as his muscles pumped and gathered power. And Naruto opened his hand as a small vortex in his palm grew stronger and faster.
They whipped towards each other-
Sairaorg's punch slammed into Naruto's chest and sent a shockwave out through his body.
Naruto thrust his hand out and sent a concentrated blast of wind that tore a hole through the side of Sairaorg's chest.
Both men stumbled back after suffering the other's attack and stood still.
Naruto panted for air and felt his body get heavier as his Sage Mode finally dissolved. The wind around him no longer supported his body and he felt his knees ache under his weight.
"Do you…" He looked up at Sairaorg as the powerful young Devil looked down at the small hole in his pectoral, "Do you think…I can get stronger?"
"Of course, you can." Naruto panted out, "Devils live for thousands of years, right? And you're already this strong? You can only go up." He chuckled weakly, "There's always room to improve."
"Yes, I suppose you're right." Sairaorg smiled, "Still room to grow. And I'll make sure I'm strong enough to beat you…next…"
Sairaorg's eyes slowly closed and he fell forward. Before he could hit the ground, his body glowed and he disappeared.
The moment he was gone, Naruto's legs gave out and he fell backward. He fully expected to disappear in light too-
But instead found himself caught and wrapped in a pair of warm arms.
He was slowly lowered to the ground and breathed a sigh of relief as he leaned back into her chest, "Thanks for the save."
"How are you feeling?"
"Tired and beaten. But oddly refreshed too."
"Take a nap. You deserve it."
He noticed the slight sob in her voice and smiled, "We won."
"Hehe, we won."
[Sairaorg Bael has retired.]
[Rias Gremory and her peerage are the winners.]
Sairaorg's eyes slowly peeled open as he stared up at the white ceiling of the infirmary. Despite the pain in his body, he sat up to get a better understanding of what had happened. The last thing he remembered was fighting Naruto Uzumaki and-
Sairaorg looked over and saw Naruto sitting in the bed next to him with some bandages around his face. The blond smirked, "You got up pretty fast. The doctor said the injuries you sustained took a real toll on your body. And it'll probably be a while before Asia gets to us before she's done healing everyone else."
Sairaorg sighed, "Now I remember. I lost."
"By that much." Naruto made a small space between his fingers, "Looks like my shot through your chest did more internal damage than your punch to mine. Not that I feel any better." Naruto gingerly rubbed his stomach, "Hey did you know it is extremely painful to have a ruptured stomach? I did when Sage Mode ended and I had to be moved."
"Heh," Sairaorg chuckled before lying back completely. He stared up at the ceiling in silence, "I'm surprisingly alright about the fact I lost."
"Because it was a good fight. And I bet it could have gone either way."
"I doubt it." Sairaorg looked over at Naruto, "You said your partner was building up his power again after our initial climax exhausted the both of us. If you had waited just a few more moments you would have regained your orange form and beaten me."
"That's assuming you didn't rush in and attack while I didn't have Kurama's chakra." Naruto shrugged, "Hey you don't usually use that lion armor to fight, right?"
"No. I restricted it to only use during times of crisis when the Underworld was in trouble."
"Have you trained with it?" Sairaorg shook his head and Naruto scoffed, "Well I bet that's part of the problem. If you trained a little more with that armor I bet you'd be even stronger. I mean hell Issei can hold his armor for hours and I can revert in my timeline for like three hours. Who knows how far you'll come when you put your mind to it."
"You say that like you're going to stop training. And I think we both know you'll just strive to get better the moment you leave this room."
"Look whose talking."
Both men shared a hearty laugh before they sat silently in the room. The door to their area opened and Rias walked in with several cans and boxes of juice in her arms. She had small bandages over the exposed parts of her body but smiled warmly at them, "Well look who finally woke up."
"Hello, Rias," Sairaorg greeted his cousin as she walked over to join them, "Should you be walking around? Looks like you sustained quite a few injuries from our last match."
"Not enough that a quick glow from Asia didn't fix. This is just for the fatigue and the doctor said I should focus on regaining fluids." She empathized with her point by poking a hole in her juice box and drinking. She passed Naruto a can which he gladly accepted as she walked over to Sairaorg's bedside, "How are you feeling?"
"Quite good actually. Considering the intensity of that fight."
"Yeah," Rias nodded, "I was nearly caught up in your fight about seven times. You'd think getting a few hundred feet up in the air would be enough to escape the impact of a fight…" She looked between the two men, "But not with you two."
"Yeah, our bad."
"Hmm." She hummed unconvincingly and sucked on her juice for a moment, "I can't believe the fight is finally over."
"How does it feel?" Sairaorg inquired, "You're probably going to be referred to as the young champion now. All your Rating Games thus far and not a single loss. People are going to start admiring you even more."
"I feel like if they refer to me as young champion it's going to be in quotations or with an asterisk tagged on." Rias groused with a small frown before looking at Sairaorg and Naruto's amused expression at her plight. She frowned a little deeper before looking at her cousin, "I think she would be so proud to see how strong you've become."
The Bael Devil faintly smiled and closed his eyes, "Yes, I think so too. But even if am I strong now, I still lost. Which means I have to keep improving." He turned to look over at Naruto, "And hopefully when the day comes that we can have a rematch, I'll be the one standing victorious."
Naruto smiled, "I look forward to it."
"I hope so. But until then," Sairaorg shifted so that he was looking at Rias, "I suppose I have another opponent to look forward to fighting."
Rias suddenly stopped slurping her drink as her eyes widened in surprise at Sairaorg's statement. She quickly looked between him and Naruto before shaking her head, "Hold on, let's not get hasty. I've still got a long way to go before I can ever match up to the fight you two just had."
"But people are going to be expecting it from the young champion." Naruto dogpiled on, giving a cheeky smirk as he spoke, "You made a pretty impassioned declaration during the fight that one day you'd bridge the gap and meet Sairaorg in battle yourself."
A furious red flush came over her face as Rias fumed, "S-Stop teasing me! And I meant somewhere further down the road! There's no way I can do what you two did today-"
"I think you will." Sairaorg interrupted, stunning Rias in silence as he nodded, "You have a knack for building up connections and blowing expectations away."
"I-I appreciate that, but I think becoming stronger like you two is still quite a ways away."
"I think…we'll be in awe of the way your power has soared, Rias. And I think that moment will come sooner than you expect."
Rias thought to challenge his kind yet optimistic point before she saw Naruto smile as well. The smile on his face told her he agreed with Sairaorg's words. And something about both of them believing in her like that got her to lose her words.
Instead of arguing and saying she couldn't match them, she gently smiled and looked down at her juice box…hopeful that the day she could stand as strong as them would come sooner rather than later…
"Yeah…maybe one day."
Thank You and Bye