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Sacred Rituals

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Five Months Before

He was out for his favorite pastime—an evening hunt. Something to get his blood going. A little taste. It had been a slow couple of months. Tobirama had not come across as many vampires as he would have liked. He was nowhere near his personal quota. It was a good thing for the town he was protecting, but for him, it was nowhere near satisfactory. However, tonight, things started to look up. He spotted her mint green hair when he stepped out of the tavern, almost instantly recognizing her situation when he took a good look at the rest of her. Tobirama watched the girl duck in and out alleyways. He followed her for at least four streets. If he had not known better, he would have thought the young woman was on some sort of drug. But he knew her symptoms all too well.

"I have not seen a newborn in so long." Tobirama breathed deeply, a grin ripping his face in half. He kept a decent pace behind her, following her down the road. "She is leaving," he mumbled, noticing her path was leading out of the town and towards the hills. He knew just by looking at her that she did not belong to any of the noble families living in the hills. She was just a normal peasant. She would not be missed. He watched her stumble into the brush, swaying from hunger and cravings. He stopped walking when she slowed down and fell into a bush. There was his chance. He knew she was too weak to get away. He made his way over to her. She was laying in the bush, panting hard from what looked to be a drug tweak, but he knew what it really was. A new vampire, just freshly turned, not used to the new powers and strengths of such a creature. Scared, alone. An easy target. "You poor child," he said, unable to sound sympathetic in any way. The last thing he could have was any sort of sympathy for these creatures, new and scared or not.

She panted and he noted her pupils were blown, there was nothing but black and a thin ring of glittering orange around it. He assumed the orange to be her natural eye color. "Get...get away from me!" She scrambled away from him, covering her mouth. "GET AWAY! I'll hurt you!" He could hear her sobbing. She stumbled further into the hills.

"I do not think you will," he said easily, following after her. "I can help you, child." He heard the rustling stop. Now he had her attention. He only needed it for a couple of moments. He was going to make this quick and easy. At least to start off the night.

"He-help me? No, you smell human! There is no way you...I'll hurt you," she whimpered. She was starting to sob softly again. "I didn't want this." She fell to her knees.

"I'm sure you didn't." His boots fell heavily on the ground as he made his way to her. "I can end your suffering."

Her already dilated pupils widened a bit more. "You can change me back?" she asked, her voice bearing the smallest hint of hope of being saved from this nightmare.

"Oh, no, my child, I can do something better." He could not hide the grin on his face. "Come with me." He stretched his arm out for her to grab his hand.

She hesitated for a moment, looking between him and his hand. She was lost and someone was willing to help her. Though cautious, she was desperate. Slowly, she took his hand and he helped her to her feet. "Th-thank you…" she said quietly.

"Do not thank me yet," he grinned, leading her deeper into the forest. The trees around them thickened and the stars above them were swallowed by the dark canopy, leaving them in total darkness. It was easier on the girl's eyes but Tobirama was not struggling as a normal human should have. He pulled her until the trees opened. The ground beneath their feet was gnarled with roots. "Lay here, child," he whispered. There was no kindness in his voice but she could not tell. No, all she felt was a rough hand cradling her face, softly stroking her cheek. She closed her eyes, feeling a calm wash over her. It was the calmest she felt in almost ten long days. And before she could even process it, that comforting hand was on her neck. It propelled her forward, hard onto her knees, her head slammed hard on some of the roots. As her head bounced up, it hit hard into something metal and very solid. Her breathing hitched hard in her throat. She was a fool who trusted too soon. "Now you can thank me."

He did not give her a chance to say anything, hearing only the very beginning of a scream before he pulled the trigger, putting a hole through her head. A little smoke rose from the wound where the skin around it burned due to the bullet being blessed. His head tilted back in ecstasy. He took a few moments to revel in the feeling of release before stepping over the girl's body and heading back the way he came. He walked back into town and made his way to the tavern he and his brother were staying in. He was riding high off the night's events as he walked into the room that he was sharing with Hashirama.

"You're in high spirits, Brother," Hashirama noticed immediately.

"I met a girl," Tobirama smirked.

"Oh? Did she bring any satisfaction?"

"Yes," he chuckled darkly. Hashirama knew that laugh. "The bullet going through her head brought much satisfaction." He wanted more. This small kill was not enough to make up for the two-month lull he had in his hunts. If there was one new one out there, that meant there had to be a couple more out there, or better yet, their sire. Just the thought of it excited him.

Hashirama took a deep, long breath and gave a tight smile. He had to figure out the right words to say. "Well, Brother, I am...glad for your good fortune and think I will go out for a bit of fresh air myself." He nodded, getting up and hurrying out of the room.

With his brother gone, there would be no one to hold Tobirama back from going on another hunt. He headed back out, weaving through crowds of the streets to leave the town. The hills were where he wanted to go this time. He ventured through the forest, making his way up to the cliffs towards the large castles that rested above the town.

Tobirama scanned his surroundings. He figured he would try for a noble rather than someone in town again. He was certain one of the creatures would wander out. He could sense one not too far from him. Then he spotted it. He made his way towards it, walking parallel to its path. The last one was a newborn—freshly turned probably mere days ago, but this one seemed to be just what he was looking for. A natural-born. He had spotted it coming down from another section of the cliffs. Quickly noting this one was also a woman, he smirked, stalking quietly behind her. He weighed out how he wanted to attack. She was small, which meant she was very agile and quick. His hand lowered to a sliver gun strapped to his right leg. He could already feel the adrenaline bubbling in his chest. He pulled the gun quickly and shot two quick shots at her calves. She stumbled to the ground in seconds, a muffled scream coming from her when she hit the ground. He grinned, closing the gap between them.

'God, this is going to be fun!' He thought about how killing her could lure others out. The thought of baiting them so easily excited him. He heard her feet digging into the ground as she tried to crawl away. Tobirama chuckled lowly, catching up to her easily. She had covered her mouth to muffle her pained screams. He kicked her onto her back and got a good look at her fear-filled golden eyes. The vertical slits for pupils and the long fangs protruding out of her gums told him enough. He had struck the perfect target. "My, my, aren't you young." He leaned down, pressing the gun under her chin to tilt her head. He looked for some sort of marks on her neck. Seeing none, he realized she was a natural-born vampire. He could not hide the smile on his face. She looked to be about in her twenties, but knowing vampires, Tobirama reckoned she was well over a century old. He had never seen any with eyes like hers before.

She hissed, spitting venom into his face. "Fuck off," she growled, pushing the gun away from her face and scrambled backward to stand up, only to fall back down because she had been shot in the legs. "Dammit," she hissed. She pushed herself backward, trying to get away.

Tobirama grunted, wiping away the venom. It burned but it was weak. This one was much feistier than the last. It only interested him more. If he had not shot her where he did, he could see how much of a fight she was willing to put up. He pushed her down with his boot across her chest. "How curious," he mused. "Never met one who can spit venom." He pushed his boot hard into her, taking in the sound of her struggling to breathe. "Adorable." He cocked his gun again, aiming it at her head. "I'll put your body to good use."

"You...sick bastard," she barely let out. She started to struggle beneath him.

"You will not be the last to call me that." His finger pulled back on the trigger and where there should have been a beautiful blooming hole in the creature's head, there was instead a massive white snake. Tobirama found himself slammed into the side of the cliff. He laughed, pushing out of the rock and grinning at the hissing snake. It looked to have coiled around the girl. "Called on your familiar, I see! Impressive for one so young," Tobirama smirked, approaching them again. He pulled a long, serrated blade and the smirk pulled into a grin as he aimed it at the side of the snake. This was going to feel amazing.

He landed one hit on the snake but was almost instantaneously sent backward by the tail. He charged again, his blade ready and for how massive the snake was, it moved it quickly. In mere seconds, the large snake had dug its way into the ground and covered the hole with its tail before he could even realize what was happening. Both the snake and the girl were gone. Tobirama's eyes widened, skidding through where the giant snake and the creature had been. He pushed out of the bushes, looking around for any sign of them but there was none.

"Clever, clever." He grinned darkly, sheathing his blade and gun. He had a new target to play with. A powerful one at that. "This will be fun." He had never come across a snake-like vampire before. This was a new variant he was eager to learn about, eager to dissect. He made a mental note to be prepared next time to take a venom sample.

Orochimaru knew his daughter had left the castle grounds when the servants could not recall the last time they saw her. He had a bad feeling that something bad was going to happen and it prompted him to leave and go look for her. He was not all too surprised when he found her underneath the boot of a hunter with a gun to her head. At the right moment, he took on his snake form and took the bullet for her, slamming his body against the hunter and sending him into the rocky cliffs. He quickly wrapped his tail around his daughter, moving her away from the hunter and forming a coil around her with his body.

"Are you okay, Azumi?" Orochimaru asked quietly inside the coil.

"He shot me," she answered. "It burns." Her voice broke but he knew she was not going to let herself cry there. She was stronger than that.

"I know, I know. We will get out of here." He turned his attention back to the hunter, hissing.

"How are we—" She was cut off by a pained grunt from Orochimaru as the hunter stabbed him with a serrated blade. "Father?"

"Underground," he said. The tail of the snake pierced the ground inside the coil, giving Azumi a route down into the tunnel below. She jumped down, landing on her feet and holding in an agonizing scream as a pain shot through her legs and she fell back down. As soon as he heard his daughter hit the ground of the tunnel below, he dove in after her. The end of his tail shifted dirt back into place. Orochimaru turned back into his natural form.

Azumi gasped, noticing the bullet hole in his stomach from when he took the bullet for her. "He shot you, too," she said quietly.

"I will be fine," he assured her as he picked her up and cradled her in his arms. "It will take a lot more than that to kill me." He did not need her to worry about him. He could easily get it out of himself. He had been hit with a blessed bullet before, so this was nothing too new to him. It burned, yes, but it was nothing he could not handle. He was more worried about her as she had never gone through something like this before. He began to move back to their castle, navigating his way through the tunnels that would lead directly underneath the kitchen of the castle where they could enter through a trapdoor.

"Those weren't normal bullets," she groaned. He could feel the heat from the wounds in her legs.

"They were sacred bullets." They approached the entrance and he walked up the small set of steps, lifting her a little so she could push the door open and entered the castle. "Why were you alone?" He kept his voice low but there was an angry undertone. "Where was Sasuke?" he hissed, the anger becoming more apparent in his voice. "I specifically told you not to ever be alone and you could not follow that one rule! Did the Uchiha run away?"

"I...He...Sasuke, I took him home...I was just..." Her voice broke. "I was just coming home..." She started to cry, unable to hold it in anymore. Orochimaru sighed, curling his daughter close to his chest. He kissed the top of her head, holding her tightly. "I—I'm so sorry..." She clutched his clothes as she buried her face in his chest. "I'm sorry..." She could not stop crying at this point. They entered the infirmary and he sat her down on an examining table. She kept her eyes down, not wanting to look him in the eye.

He grabbed what he needed for the extraction of the bullets and a cool rag. He tipped his daughter's face up towards him and gently wiped her face down. "He is gone now, Azumi." His voice was soft, none of the earlier anger in it. "He cannot hurt you now, I will not let him."

"Who was he?" she forced out through hitched breaths. "I can still feel his boot on my chest," she mumbled.

"Tobirama Senju."

"Senju..." She gasped and he could see that she recognized the surname as the clan that hunts vampires. All vampires were taught the names of the hunter clans and the individuals in them. "Oh, my god," she mumbled, letting more tears escape.

Orochimaru looked at her hard. He could tell she was grasping the full gravity of her situation. Tobirama could have killed her immediately if he wanted to. "You are lucky he was just playing."

She wiped the last of the tears from her face. "I'm sorry," she said again. "Because of me, you got hurt." He knew she hated being the cause of someone else being in danger or getting injured just as much as he hated her worrying about him.

"Do not worry about me." He wiped her face again gently and leaned her back onto the table. "I want to get these bullets out of you before they cause more damage. We will talk more about him after this." He pressed a needle into her arm and pressed the plunger. He watched her eyes flutter until she was asleep then set to work on her legs. Tobirama Senju was going to get what he deserved.

Two nights later, Orochimaru left his home. It had been a long time since Orochimaru left his home—or even his lab—but given the occasion, it seemed like it was time to get out for a night, even if it was for only a couple of hours. He knew Tobirama was in the area, and for once, it was convenient. He headed into the woods, catching onto a faint scent. It was a scent that Orochimaru found particularly disgusting, one that filled him with a bubbling rage. He recalled his daughter describing the hunter's scent as nauseating. He was quite sure that it was him.

He followed the scent, only growing more disgusted with it as it grew stronger. Then he saw him. Heading back towards the town was Tobirama Senju, the monster that almost took his daughter from him. He had to be smart about this. Tobirama was the kind to play around with his prey. Orochimaru needed to make the hunter think it was his game when really it was in Orochimaru's hands.

Orochimaru waited in plain sight, letting Tobirama come to him. He watched the man stop when he noticed a vampire in his presence. A dark chuckle filled the air. "Is there a den nearby that I just keep missing?" he asked. "First the girl, now you. I just seem to be getting lucky." He began to circle Orochimaru, no doubt comparing him to the younger serpent-like vampire he encountered. "You are much bigger...older..." Orochimaru lifted his arm and a snake flew out of his sleeve, straight for the hunter's face. Tobirama just barely dodged it, and the snake's tail grazed his cheek. He could see the hunter was caught off guard by it. "And faster," Tobirama said as he unsheathed a blade, ready to charge and attack.

The snake that flew past Tobirama slithered up his leg. It did not take too long for the hunter to notice this, however. He looked down, noticing the snake above his knee. He tried to shake it off, then looked up at the vampire. Orochimaru had moved quickly towards Tobirama while he was distracted and Tobirama was greeted with a hard kick to the face. The kick was hard enough to send Tobirama stumbling backward. "You are holding back," Tobirama noted. He knew that kick could have been much harder and done much more damage.

"I can give it my all if that is what you wish," Orochimaru said.

Tobirama grinned as he bore witness to the sight of the man before him transform into a large white snake. The same large white snake that came between him and the younger one. "Ah," he smirked, "you are the one who saved her." The snake lunged at him, baring its fangs. Tobirama moved to get out of its path but was still pushed by the body. He was thrown into a tree, almost uprooting it from the ground with the heavy impact. He stood up slowly, brushing himself off. "This is the aggression of a parent," he smirked as he watched the snake turn back into the vampire. "Was that young serpentess your daughter?"

"It matters not if she is my daughter or simply part of my clan."

"Oh, but it does," Tobirama practically purred, gripping his whip. Orochimaru and the hunter circled each other, not taking their eyes off each other. "I bet she's your heiress." He cracked the leather against the ground, grabbing the handle of his gun, no doubt figuring out which one would be more effective against a variant like Orochimaru.

Orochimaru narrowed his eyes, glancing at both of the weapons. He had to weigh his options. He was more concerned about the gun than the whip. He had an edge, though. He knew the terrain. However, he could not rule out that this hunter scouted the area often. He watched as Tobirama's hold on the whip tightened. He was going to use it first. Anticipating the move, Orochimaru was ready for the whip when it snapped towards him. He quickly moved toward Tobirama, shooting more snakes out of his sleeves to wrap around him.

Tobirama had his hand ready on the trigger of his gun, but he could not foresee a group of snakes restraining his arms. "I see this may actually be a challenge," he laughed. "Just what I wanted." He flexed a little bit to make the snakes let him go. They fell to the ground and slithered away. "You must have some other abilities. I was going to dissect her to find out."

Orochimaru said nothing. He was not going to give anything away. He knew what this man was and what he did. He glanced at the gun, noticing Tobirama's hand already on the trigger. He had no doubt this man's aim was flawless. Just as Tobirama aimed to shoot, Orochimaru took on his snake form and spiraled towards him, knocking him further back and into the rocky bottom of the higher cliffs.

Tobirama grunted as pointed rocks jabbed into his kidney area. He pushed himself up. Orochimaru had to commend the strength of this human. Tobirama was skilled in the art of not showing how much pain he was in. "You're much stronger," he chuckled. "I had plans for your little princess on the occasion that I saw her again. So if I can get rid of Daddy, then maybe she'll show herself. That'll open up the opportunity to dissect her, learn about your kind. I'll keep her eyes and fangs as a souvenir of my discoveries."

Orochimaru swallowed the growl that dared to escape his throat. He himself lacked a moral compass but when it came to his children—biological or not—the lack of morality in others pissed him off. He knew what this man was trying to do to him. He was slightly impressed with how quickly he could figure out weaknesses.

"I see your instant reactions to hearing that harm will come to her," Tobirama chuckled. "I cannot wait to hold her down by her neck and watch the life drain from her eyes."

"I am here. Why not me?"

"You're much too old," he smirked. "I prefer the younger ones. She'll serve as a valuable specimen."

Orochimaru's anger got the better of him and he lunged at Tobirama again, coiling around the hunter with the intent of constricting him. He squeezed tight, making sure Tobirama could not move. He felt Tobirama pull the trigger of his gun, shooting through the tough skin of his snake form. Although it did burn, Orochimaru did not falter. He hissed loudly, squeezing a little harder. He could hear the man grunt as he fought to move inside the coil. The hunter was struggling to breathe now. Orochimaru could hear him choking out his breaths, he was going to pass out soon. He squeezed harder. Tobirama stopped struggling. For a second, Orochimaru believed he may have finally killed him.

Then six bullets were shot into the snake's skin. The burning was unbearable and caused Orochimaru to uncoil from the hunter. He hissed in pain as Tobirama's body rolled away. He could do nothing at this point as the hunter gasped for air and coughed. His injuries were turning severe quickly. He needed to get away. Tobirama lifted his gun again, intending to shoot the last bullet but Orochimaru quickly formed an escape plan and dug his way into the ground, just as he had done with Azumi. The vampires all had a tunnel system that led through the hills from their homes to the town. He let his body hit the bottom of the tunnel as he used his tail to cover up the hole.

Quickly, he moved back towards his castle. He needed to be home fast before the wounds did more damage. He approached the trap door and took his natural form as he entered the kitchen. The bullet wounds hurt more in this form than they did in his snake form. They were concentrated in his belly area. He grunted as he sat down by the trap door.

"Lord Orochimaru," Kabuto gasped. He had been ordered to wait by the door for Orochimaru's return in case something like this happened. He had been prepared with the necessary tools to extract sacred bullets since Orochimaru wanted them removed as soon as possible, not wanting to waste time stumbling to one of the laboratories.

"Just hurry," Orochimaru grunted as he laid back. "There's seven of them."

"Right." With haste, Kabuto moved to start extracting the sacred bullets from Orochimaru's body. He did not need to be knocked out as his daughter did, but by the time Kabuto started taking the third bullet out, he began to wish he was knocked out. "Did you at least get rid of him?" Kabuto asked.

"I almost had him," Orochimaru said, wincing at the pain. "He was almost dead." He stood quiet for a moment. He hated himself for not being able to kill the hunter. He hated that there was still a threat to his children out there. "Do not tell Azumi."

Kabuto looked hard at Orochimaru. "I don't think you should hide this from her, my Lord."

"She is still recovering from her wounds. She should be able to walk again in a couple of days. Until then, she does not need this added stress." He grunted again as the last of the bullets were pulled out of him. "I should be recovered around the same time." He winced in pain as he sat up. Kabuto helped him to stand up and walked him to his bedroom. "The other families already know about Tobirama attacking her. Let no one find out about this."

"Yes, my Lord." Kabuto helped Orochimaru into his bed. "Do you need anything else?"

Orochimaru shook his head. "Just to sleep it off."

"Very well, then." With that said, Kabuto left.

Orochimaru sighed, trying to take his mind off of the pain in his body. Tobirama was posing to be more of a threat than he had hoped for and he needed to be dealt with as quickly as possible.