Chapter 6 Double Sided
"So anyone know anything about what we're up against?" Yusuke asked once they proceeded down the next corridor. "I'm not gonna keep going if we don't know anything. And Botan really didn't fill me in, but I'm pretty sure she's racist against demons though."
"Yeah and she's a stupid bimbo. She doesn't matter," Hiei replied.
"I'd doubt it if she even knew. These guys are actually kind of obscure," Kurama said. "The Four Saint Beasts- Genbu, Byakko, Seiryu and Suzaku. They're known as being extremely powerful demons though most of that power is political. But even with that they're still pretty intimidating. Every year they keep gaining more and more power. In fact, I believe the American government has been paying them a fair amount of money to keep their hands out of any wars since they want it all to be their kill. And another thing, they don't look at all human. I want to make sure you were ready for that at least. I personally have never seen them but I've heard about them in the street but we all know how accurate those are."
"Hey, Hiei. Looks like you've been demoted. But at least you're still getting laid." Yusuke chuckled at that to which Hiei rolled his eyes. "Okay, anyway... So you know anything else about these guys like any special abilities?"
"I think I know a bit about Byakko's abilities but not much else. I know he has a special ability linked to his roar that could potentially rip you apart down to the molecular level... But I don't know the exact parameters of that. Going off what I know from mythology... Genbu is a tortoise, though sometimes also depicted as a snake having sex with a turtle, which I highly doubt is the case here. Byakko is a white tiger. Seiryu is a dragon, and Suzaku is a bird. What we can assume is that Genbu would most likely have the best defenses while Seiryu would have the most power. I think Suzaku might be the real ring leader in this case, though." They stopped when they entered a large, dark room, lit only by the occasional torch on the wall. Kurama stopped the other three from proceeding further. He looked around. "It's too easy. After that last trial... I know you're in here. Show yourself."
Yusuke took a torch from the wall and threw it across the room. It hit a large object with a loud thud that echoed. Then, the room was shaken with a thunderous laughter. The torch showed the object shifting, and then they started to make out what could be a toe. As their eyes went from the foot, they saw wide legs over which curled a large round abdomen like a tortoise shell. The legs bent further and revealed the creature's face, wide and bumpy like an eroded statue. The mouth opened, and the expression shifted slightly with the sound of scraping stones together into one of amusement. Kuwabara froze in fear. "As if those goblin things weren't bad enough..." He swallowed a large lump in his throat.
"I see that you favor Byakko and Seiryu a little too much... I am Genbu. The only way out is through that door to the next floor over there. You can go, that is... If you can defeat me." Genbu cackled again. He came further into the light, shaking the room with his ear splitting steps of rock slamming against rock. He waved a long tail around before raising it as a scorpion does when readying for battle.
"No problem." Yusuke cracked his knuckles. "I bet I can take you easy. Let's see how you hold up after..."
"No. I'll take care of this one Yusuke. It's no use using all of our energy right now. It's best if we take them one at a time until we need to have someone step in to help..." Kurama stepped forward. He stopped and turned with a half smile. "You can trust me, Yusuke."
"What, you thought I didn't?"
"Kind of hard to earn someone's trust when you've just met them, don't you think?"
"I think that Gate of Betrayal was all the trust games that we need for a million years."
"So I've heard from the goblins that there was a man traveling in this group that goes by the name 'Kurama.' They tell me they think it's infamous Youko Kurama trapped in a human body. You? What can you do in a human body?" Genbu cackled again. "This is too easy. I could smash you with one finger and be done with you."
"I'm sure. But thanks for the warning." He ran a hand through his hair. No, I shouldn't use it yet. Unless I can figure out how to... He noticed Genbu's tail was sinking into the ground. What is he...? He twisted around and saw Genbu's tail coming right at him, pointed tip turning in the air in a drill-like motion. Kurama leapt out of the way, but Genbu swung his tail tail around to throw him across the room. Kurama leaped over it grazing his stomach on the stone. He knelt on the floor, gritting his teeth in pain. He quickly inspected the cut. It was like a deep scrape across his stomach, not deep enough to cause very serious damage, but it was enough to leak blood all over his shirt. It really looks like it's time. I wouldn't need it? What was I thinking?
"You're much faster than I thought. That's a complement for a human. That is if that's what you decided to be." Genbu slowly sank into the floor, becoming one with the stone of the floor. "But even your speed won't help you now... I could be anywhere now... Under your friends..." Kuwabara flinched and Hiei simply spat on the floor. "Under your feet... Maybe in front of you..."
"Yes... That's pretty intimidating." Kurama took a rose from his hair and stared at it thoughtfully. "I really don't know what to do..." He sounded too disinterested to sound remotely sincere. I haven't done this in a while... He swung his arm and within the blink of an eye, the red petals were scattered around the room and the stem of the rose extended into a whip, roughly three-fourths the length of Kurama's body..
"Wait. What the...? How can he keep a rose in his hair like that? Wouldn't that hurt when he's asleep...?" Kuwabara turned to Hiei who shrugged. "But seriously... Dare I say it...? Well, it's already kind of girly as it is... some serious... I mean, serious..."
"Just spit it out already, shit!" Yusuke replied.
"Only a guy who loves kittens would say something like that." Hiei stared at Kuwabara at that moment and discreetly slid a bit away from him.
Kurama took a deep breath. "I know..." He did an about face and swung his Rose whip just as Genbu jumped out of the wall. "I've got you now!." With a few swings of his whip he managed to slice through Genbu, leaving him in pieces.
The demon looked at him in shock. "But how...?"
"When I made the Rosewhip, the scent of roses filled the room, but since you were still in the stone I was still able to find your stench. As for slicing through you... These thorns can cut through solid stone with ease. Of course, if you truly did know anything about Youko Kurama, you would have been aware of the risks, wouldn't you? You are finished, Genbu."
"That's brilliant. But you didn't get away from all those hunters for nothing. Well except for that one twenty four years ago. What a crappy way to go. But too bad for you..." Genbu put the pieces of himself together. "It's really just a moment's inconvenience. Actually you just gave me a new ability... Just watch..." He split the pieces and shot them at Kurama, who barely had enough time to cover himself before his vital points were injured.
"Dammit! If he can do that, then what the hell can he do?" Yusuke said.
"No. He's got a plan forming in his head. He's always trying to find one," Hiei said coolly. He really did have a point about him being able to escape so many times. And Genbu doesn't seem like he's panic worthy actually. Besides that, he is Youko Kurama. Someone like this one should be nothing in comparison.
Kurama sliced Genbu into even smaller pieces so he appeared to be composed of nothing but pebbles. Genbu cackled again, "What did I tell you the first time? Every time you cut me smaller I just get an even greater advantage. You might as well give me a hundred shotguns."
He threw himself at Kurama again. He saw in the corner of his eye a large stone that was glowing red shoot past him. He reached out to grab it but the pebbles he grabbed sliced almost right through his fingers. Damn. If I could get that then I could probably finish this off. This isn't good if I keep letting myself take all these hits. He felt the small gashes throughout his arms and legs throbbing and the blood rolling down his legs. Once more...
Genbu threw himself at Kurama again. He reached out with one hand to grab the stone and with his other arm he shielded his eyes. He closed his fist around the first thing that hit his palm. When Genbu was putting himself together again, Kurama saw the red stone in his hand, pulsing. This is his heart. That's the end of that. He chuckled when he saw what became of the Saint Beast.
"What's so funny? Did you go insane from fright? ...And how did you get on the ceiling?" Genbu asked.
"Look up. Or-well... Down for you."
"What do you...?" He moved an arm but toppled onto the floor. He then saw that it was a leg and an arm misplaced. He rolled himself onto his stomach and saw that his tail was where his head should have been, which meant that his head was where his tail was supposed to be. ("Man, it'll be weird for him to pee..." Kuwabara mumbled.)
Kurama held up the stone. "So this is your heart, right? And you need it to put yourself together. Well, Humpty Dumpty, this is something your horses and men can't put together."
"Sayanara." He broke the stone in half with his Rose whip. Just when Genbu became dust, he dropped to his knees, clutching his wound in his stomach. He looked around the room for some other form of dirt. There was none. Looks like I'll have to deal until I reach soil.
"Hey, are you alright! That looks like it hurts!" Kuwabara asked him, offering to help him to his feet.
"Does he look alright?" Hiei asked sarcastically. "But wait, of course, getting sliced up feels like walking in through a nice little with flowers and those weird animals with the weird eyes."
"Shut up, half pint! ...And that's sheep you're thinking of. Or I'm pretty sure that's what you're talking about."
"I'm alright. I just got a few nasty cuts but it looks worse than it hurts. I can still walk," Kurama replied, standing up and brushing some of Genbu's dust off himself. Then there was a beeping sound. Hiei took his phone out of his pocket and made an inaudible sigh of relief. Yusuke knew then it was his.
"What?" Yusuke asked.
"Well, that's a polite greeting," Botan said. "Anyway, Yusuke, it seems like we took this whole thing too seriously."
"Oh, big surprise there!"
"And by that, I mean how fast this is happening. This whole parasite thing's been proceeding pretty slowly. Plus the Chief's got it taken care of with some guys patrolling the streets so she kind of can catch some people before they cause too much damage. And she did say she sent a pair to help you out. Was she true to her word? And are they giving you any trouble? You need me to file a complaint cause I can if they are."
Yusuke glanced at the two demons. "Yeah... I'm pretty sure they're just as concerned about this whole thing as you are in Spirit World, FYI. But apparently she told her man-" (Hiei grumbled a curse in his native tongue.) "-that we have twelve hours. We have eleven left, I think. I wasn't keeping track."
"What? Oh whatever. She can't get a good night's sleep without making a math problem out of stuff. I don't think you need that much time though. Though, if anything you should be focusing on getting things done as fast as possible."
"Hey, what're we supposed to do anyway? You were really vague about that. Just kick all of their asses and walk out?"
"No, you don't need to worry about that. I just found out that the way they control those insects is by a whistle. One of the Saint Beasts plays a tune on the whistle and it somehow influences them to do their bidding. I don't know who that could be but... Don't worry about how things are here. Just focus on getting that whistle ASAP."
"Sure." Yusuke put the phone in his pocket. "So who would play the whistle?"
"Well, from what I know from Chinese culture (which isn't that much to tell you the truth) the most powerful would have to be Seiryu. Apparently the dragon is the most favorable of them all. Or something like that. So I would assume that it would be him. Or maybe Suzaku, assuming that I was right when I said he was the leader," Kurama replied.
Hiei shrugged. "Don't know much except who was the last one that Stalin tried to invade and later ally with."
"Uh... What?" Yusuke gave him a blank look. "Dude, seriously, what kind of Russia are you living i-" There was a thunderous roar so loud that parts of the ceiling and the wall began to crack. "Crap! Let's get out of here before the damn place caves in!" So that might be Byakko if he's a tiger.
They rushed up the stairs until they reached a narrow bridge. At the end of it was what looked like a stairway to a tower, the top of which stood a large humanoid white tiger with green stripes and a green main serving as his human-like hair. He was dressed in what looked like a small robe made of some sort of leopard or cheetah's skin. He stopped roaring for a moment and looked down at them with a grin, baring all of his yellowed fangs, some large enough to put a saber toothed cat to shame. They heard the rumbling from his throat, shaking the bridge so slightly.
"So it's the humans... The lowly goblins were crying about you all. They said you were accompanied by someone who could be Youko Kurama, reborn as a human and another demon..." Byakko roared again shaking the towers again. Kuwabara became more worried about the floor they were standing on crumbling into pieces, causing them all to fall to their deaths. "So it's true. You traitors. Human lovers. You and all your little friends that sunk so low into helping those humans. I've heard of playing with your food but that's sad. Well, you're no match for me. Genbu was nothing into comparison to the rest of us."
"...I'll take him," Kuwabara said as he stepped forward. He swallowed another lump in his throat.
"You freaked out at the sight of the first guy," Yusuke replied. "And every second we do something you start looking like you're about to wet yourself."
"Who asked you? I wasn't ready, okay? I never saw a weird looking demon like that before but now I've got experience now."
"So why're your legs shaking?"
"I'm anxious to shine! Leave me alone." Kuwabara turned around and ran down the bridge towards Byakko.
"Ha! You're just taking me one at a time. Is this your plan? To make me die laughing? I can kill you with the hairs on my head." He plucked out a few hairs, blew on them, and dropped them. After they sat on the ground for a few seconds, the hairs became four bulky green beasts that looked like a cross between a sort of insect and a bear.
Crap! Just when I thought he was being sarcastic! He created his Spirit Sword. The beasts were not intimidated, and they all lunged forward with their five inch razor sharp claws. One started to attack another to claim its food.
"Dammit! Five seconds and he's already..." Yusuke started to cross the bridge.
"Don't do it, Urameshi." Kuwabara growled as he flung another beast away with a swing of his sword. "I've got it under..." Then it hit him. Just go down the bridge and then they'll all have to go a straight line. Then I could extend the sword and... yeah! Yeah! "...Control!" He ran across the bridge.
"Yes, run back to your friends. Run back and then they'll all be ripped to shreds with you." Byakko laughed. His glee came to an abrupt stop when he saw Kuwabara turn around a few feet from the end of the bridge. He turned his Spirit Sword towards the beasts and brought it to the level of their mouths. Just as they lined up, Kuwabara extended the length of his sword so it went through each of the beasts from mouth and out of their rears.
"Eat this, Byakko. I just created the Monster-beast-demon-centipede." Kuwabara stood back and took in his creation, watching as the beasts stood in confusion, trying to pull themselves out, but only ripping the point of impalement much larger, ripping their own flesh and innards.
"Clever move... But they're still hungry!" Byakko roared again and the beasts glowed again. They continued chasing after Kuwabara (though their movement was still rather awkward, still doing each of them more damage) growling like angry dogs.
"Oh cr-" Kuwabara continued running across the bridge. He passed the other four and ran around the round opening they recently came out of. ("You think he knows it's a circle?" Hiei mumbled to himself smugly.) Kuwabara grinned when he saw the other end of his Spirit Sword on one of the beasts. He grabbed onto it and struggled to link the two sides together.
"Ha! Take that. Monster beast doughnut!" Kuwabara laughed at his own wit.
"Okay, now, you're just trying to act like you're selling on TV," Hiei said. "Would it kill you not to be a complete moron for five minutes?"
"Hey, I think monster beast doughnut's a great name," Kurama replied.
"You got any with sprinkles for that?" Yusuke added.
Byakko was not amused. He growled and the beasts turned to dust. "It looks like I'm going to have to tear you apart myself. So you've outwitted my beasts but they can't think logically. All they think about is food. But not me."
"Is that so? Well, then come and get over here, pussy cat!" Kuwabara formed another spirit sword as Byakko jumped down to meet him in the middle of the bridge. Holy...! This guy is freaking huge! But that's alright. He's bigger so he's easier to hit, right? Just a few nice cuts and then we'll be one step closer to that flute thingy. Yeah! He lunged to make the first blow right across Byakko's large stomach. He pulled the blade across the tiger's round stomach. He stepped around and swung his spirit sword like a baseball bat.
"...His swordsmanship is horrible. I'm getting disgusted just watching him..." Hiei sighed and rubbed a temple with irritation.
"Hey, he's getting some good hits. You gotta give him that. Seriously no one's even giving anyone points on how well they can fight. And it's 2008, no one's a pirate or a ninja... Or whatever it is that Russians can be," Yusuke replied.
"He is getting all the hits... But why is it that Kuwabara's the one that's getting tired?" Kurama asked. "And why isn't Byakko bleeding even a little... Is it...?" His brows knitted together as he inspected Byakko.
Kuwabara paused. Hey, he's right. And... Is it me... Or did this guy get even bigger? I better not be going nuts... He stood straight up and dodged a blow from Byakko, trying to locate even the slightest hint of a cut on the demon.
"...I got it. Kuwabara, your sword."
"What?" He glanced at it. "What the...? It's like a dagger now." He stared at his shrunken Spirit Sword with dismay for a moment.
"He's been absorbing all your energy this whole time."
"Well, the secret's out! So how are you planning to defeat me now? How about you just make it easy on yourself and give up now? I won't hurt you if you do..." Byakko laughed. Looking at him now, Kuwabara saw that he has grown to double his size, most of it lingering in the gut which was growing bloated.
"No! And not just a no, it's a heck NO! I'm not giving up. Not now." Kuwabara powered up his sword again and shoved it right into the tiger's mouth, continuing to surge the energy until he felt there was no more left in him. "And if it's energy you want then you can have as much as you want." He continued until he collapsed from exhaustion.
Byakko's stomach had grown so round that it looked like it was stretched to full capacity, stretching even the furs he was wearing and tearing them at the seams. He laughed again, feeling triumph. "Now I'll smash you to a pulp for a snack later on..." He lifted his leg to stomp on him but he felt immense pressure on his stomach. He felt his skin stretching farther and farther until his stomach explode, sending him flying away from the energy released as a gas.
"Heh... Just like my sister said. Don't eat too much or your stomach'll pop! Or something like that." Kuwabara gained the strength to stand up. He took a deep breath.
"Well, your sister's a psycho so she doesn't count," Yusuke said jokingly.
"Shut up, Urameshi! Now..." He took another deep breath. "I just have to breathe in the fumes and then..."
"Well, actually you don't need to breath in the fumes..." Kurama said.
"But I'm not..."
Then the wall of the tower broke open. Byakko crawled out, clutching his stomach, his claws starting to turn red with blood. "No. I'm not done with you. Come with me to my playroom. I call it... The Devil's Playground..."
"Okay, now, it's really starting to feel like a really bad fantasy novel..." Yusuke sighed and they followed Byakko into a room. It was like the inside of a cave with a pit of lava and platforms scattered throughout the room. Byakko leapt six platforms away from them, shaking the entire room when a made his landing on four legs. He turned around and got back on his hind legs. "Now let's see how you'll do now! And I'm not going to go easy on you this time..."
Kuwabara jumped on a platform. "No problem. I can beat you twice in a row." He called up his spirit sword again.
Byakko started gagging. "Oh that's right, I'm a cat. Let me show you my version of a hairball." He coughed up a ball of energy which crackled with the sound of static electicity.
"Time to hit a homer..." Kuwabara positioned himself to swing at it.
"No, Kuwabara! Jump!" Kurama cried.
"Okay... Why?" he jumped away and just when the ball made contact with the platform it exploded into millions of pieces. "Man!"
"This was exactly what I was saying before. This is what kind of attack would destroy you completely."
"I see... So you aren't so stupid after all. Well just keep jumping around and you might actually have a chance." Byakko coughed up more of the balls. Eventually Kuwabara was left with nowhere to go. "Don't worry about that. You only have to jump about twenty five meters to get to the closest one now. This is the end."
"Damn it! Kuwabara's no Olympic champion!" Yusuke growled. "Any of you guys can get him out of there before he gets his ass blown up?" He made his voice get lower, "You think my Spirit Gun'd get absorbed if I...?"
"Yeah, next thing I know you'll be claiming my possessions in case I die..." Kuwabara shrugged. This is my only chance to get out of this. And it's crazy enough to work. He lunged off the platform and fell just short of the nearest platform.
"Too bad... He was actually a pretty good opponent... How will take me-" Kuwabara appeared before him and knocked him off the platform. He clawed at the air before Kuwabara smacked him in the nose. Just as he was accepting his fall, he saw Kuwabara's spirit sword in the lava. He used it as a pole vault! That's so... He fell into the lava.
"Kuwabara... No..." Yusuke stared at the platform. "No... Stupid..."
"Why are you crying? He's just hanging off the edge of the platform by the collar of his shirt. Unless you want him to die," Hiei said. He pointed to said platform.
Yusuke squinted and saw Kuwabara there staring at the impending doom beneath him. "Oh. That's pretty... Kuwabara, you bastard! I'm gonna get you for making me act all sentimental just now!"
"...That's fine! Just... Just get me up! I'm gonna pee!" Kuwabara screamed. He reached for the edge of the platform awkwardly with one hand. "Hurry up! I think I'm gonna fall!"
/And there was none.