Chapter Thirty-seven: The truth behind the illusion

I can't believe this!

"He managed to escape?"

"Tch… and we were so close to sealing him away for good, too." Yue glowered at the floor where Susanoo should have been pinned moments ago. I said nothing and put away my kunai.

"How is he?"

"He's stopped breathing!" Those words remind me of something.

Akira!

I turned and ran to Hiro's side. Everyone formed a small circled around them. He was cradling Akira's head on his lap. The front of his clothes is completely soaked in blood. The dagger protruded in front of his torso. His skin has turned ash white pale and his lips have turned purple, much to our horror. I dropped to my knees next to Akira and brought one hand up to my mouth.

"He's… dead…" I can feel tears pricking my eyes. "Akira…" I reached out to touch his pale face but Hiro wouldn't let me.

"Don't touch him." He gave me a death glare. "You'll only get in the way, Kris."

"What do you mean?"

"Look," was Hiro's reply. I looked back at Akira and my eyes bugged out of their sockets. A crack appeared on his face. And then another. And another…

"What in the world-?"

Akira suddenly shattered like glass right before our eyes! The glass fragments floated in the air for a few seconds before coming back together to form Akira once again. The Akira resting in Hiro's arms right now looked totally fine. The dagger is still there, but there was no blood. The dark-haired ninja's complexion became healthy again. At that moment, I realized it was a genjutsu. Hiro pulled the dagger out from Akira's chest and I could've sworn I heard the sound of metal when he pulled it out. After a few painfully silent moments, the dark-haired ninja fluttered his eyes open.

"Mghnn…" he moaned and rubbed his eyes. I felt relief wash over me.

"Thank kami-sama…" I breathed out and helped Akira sit up. Surprisingly, he didn't fight back when he felt my touch. "You okay?" I asked.

"Yeah. Thanks." He mumbled, clutching his throbbing head. "W-What happened? All I remember was… Susanoo… and… I'm alive?"

I chuckled. "Of course, you're alive, stupid. If you weren't, you'd be in God knows where." Sensei ordered Yue to examine Akira and he was more than willing to do it.

"Sit still for bit. This won't take long." Yue's hand glowed with his chakra. He first runs his hand across Akira's arms, then his chest, and so forth. Yue examined Akira for five minutes. Looking at Akira now, he still couldn't get over with the fact that he's alive.

"But I don't get it… How come I'm still here…? I clearly remember the dagger hit my heart…"

"It did." Sei spoke. "But you were protected by this." The knight leaned forward and reached for something attached around Akira's neck which I realized a second later was a chain. He slowly pulled it out of Akira's shirt. I gasped when I saw it was the same pendant I saw in my vision the other night. The beautiful piece of silverwork now has a dent on it courtesy of Susanoo's dagger.

"The pendant…"

"That's what protected me?"

"No. It's not the pendant that saved your life. It was your brother." Everyone – except me, Hiro, Suzaku, sensei, and Sei – was baffled. Susanoo's ex-accomplice looked away.

"My brother's dead."

"He's not."

"He is!" Akira turned to Sei with an indignant look in his face. "He did nine years ago protecting Hiro Domanashi. Hiro was all he ever thought of."

Click!

Akira looked down and his eyes grew big.e Her He Grabbing the chain, he pulls it out from his neck and discovered that the silverwork he's holding was not a mere pendant to begin with. There was a thin line on the side. He ran his finger over it and it popped open. Inside was a picture of a four year-old Akio holding baby Akira in his arms with the brightest smile I have ever seen. He looked like the happiest brother in the world to me. The picture brought tears to Akira's eyes.

"I completely forgot." We heard Hiro whisper.

"And what is that?"

"A genjutsu can be cast in a number of ways. Taichi, for example, can cast a genjutsu via eye contact with the enemy or by simply pointing at them. But Akira's method is nothing like that."

"What are you trying to say?" Akira's voice is trembling.

"It's just as Hiro said." it was Suzaku's turn to speak. "A ninja can cast a genjutsu in more ways than one. Some genjutsus… can be casted via objects as well."

"Akira uses his genjutsu to fool his enemies so he can protect the people who are important to him. The genjutsu was set off when the dagger pierced you."

"Nii-san…" more tears pilled from his eyes. It was an awkward sight seeing Hiro comforting Akira, but I made no move to interfere. The poor guy needs it right now.

"I see that you haven't changed."

"Huh?"

"You're still a cry-baby." Akira's face was beet red. Not long after, we felt the earth beneath us shudder. We're starting to feel rock and cement fall on our heads. Uh-oh…

"Amaterasu's temple is going to collapse."

"We better get going then."

"How about getting us out first?"I heard Uzume's voice. I looked over my shoulder and saw the gods still chained to the wall.

"Oh, sorry about that." I sheepishly smiled. "I'll get you guys out of there."

"I'll do the honors." Yue came forward. "Ketsu!" small box-shaped barriers appeared around each of the god's wrists. "Metsu!" when he brought his hand down, the barriers exploded along with the chains that bound the gods to the wall.

"Now that that's done, let's get out of here."Suzaku summoned his halberd and tapped it on the ground twice. The floor illuminated. When the puff of smoke disappeared, we all appeared outside the temple just in time to see the entire structure collapse. There was a look of horror on Amaterasu's face.

'My beautiful temple…' I only chuckled at the expression on her face. Tsukiyomi patted her shoulder as a gesture of comfort.

'There, there, sister. It's alright. It's just a temple.'

'What do you mean 'it's just a temple'?' Amaterasu glowered at the moon god.

'That's what it really is, sister.'

'It's not 'just a temple', Tsukiyomi. It's a beautiful piece of priceless religious art!'

'A beautiful piece of religious art?'

'You really don't have an appreciation for art, do you?'

'Nope.'

'Tsukiyomi…' Oh no. Tsukiyomi doesn't want to go through 'that' discussion with his sister again.

'I still don't see why you had to be worked up because of one measly little cement building.'

'I told you! It's not just a building, Tsukiyomi. It's… Oh, never mind!' The dejected look is still on the goddess's face.

'The Uchihas can always build you a new one.'

'Yeah. But that was my favorite temple, you know.' The sun goddess sniffed.

'I'm sure the Uchihas will make you a better temple.'

'You're right. I hope that they make an even better and bigger statue of me.'

And so after many mess-ups and heart-stopping events, our mission is finally over! Izanagi and the other gods expressed their gratitude to us for saving them.

"We are forever in your debt." The King of the Gods said.

"All in a day's work." I said.

"Your head's getting big."

"No it's not!"

"Yes it is!"

"My, my!" Soren gasped at the voice. "You've done it this time." We turned around and met the stern face of Taichi Uchiha. He doesn't look happy about the temple at all.

"H-Hey there…" I laughed nervously.

"Hey to you guys, too." Taichi smiled but then his face turned serious. "Will someone please explain to me what happened to Amaterasu's temple?" Hiro and sensei took it upon themselves to explain the situation to the Uchiha heir.

"Whoa…" I whispered to my fiancé. "He's mad."

"Of course, he's mad!" my fiancé hissed. "He's going to kill me for this."

"Over one building?" I pointed at the building behind me. "Really?" there was disbelief in my voice.

"Wouldn't Hiro do the same thing to you if you were the one responsible for the destruction of the palace?"

"True. Luckily," I pointed at Izanagi and the other gods. "They took part in the destruction of the temple as well."

"Yeah, coz you were the one who set them free." Great! Soren just had to bring up the topic.

"Is that true?" Double great! My ex-crush is on to me.

"W-Well… yeah. But I did it for a valid reason." Taichi scratched his head.

"I guess that what happens if you're the reincarnation of the clan's patron goddess."

"Y-You know?"

"Of course I do. Hiro told me. To be honest, I was anticipating that something big would happen. But I didn't expect that major event to take place at the Uchiha compound, specifically Amaterasu's temple."

"You guys are going to have to rebuild the temple again."

"That won't be necessary." Izanami said. She simply waved her hand and the temple restored itself.

"Okay. Problem solved." Izanagi happily announced.

"Thank kami." Soren sighed in relief.

"That's one favor for the Uchihas." Uzume turned to me. "What about the Domanashis?"

"How about taking out the little hitch-hiker inside of me?" Amaterasu sent a glare at my direction but I didn't care. What were the gods' reactions? They laughed.

"We can't do that, I'm afraid."

"Why the bloody hell not?" I screamed and so did Amaterasu.

"Look at yourself. That's why!"

"I don't get you guys."

"You're a smart girl, Kris Domanashi. You'll figure it out." Izanami leaned on her husband's shoulder. Looking at them right now reminded me so much of my late parents. And they're so different from how the myth describes them. Unless they're just acting.

"Remember, the war with Susanoo is not yet over."

"There are gods who sided with him, correct?"

"That's right."

"And you must be prepared when that time comes or else this could mean the end of everything good."

"Must we talk about that right now?"

"It's just a reminder, dear. Don't worry."

"As much as we would love to chat away, we must get going now." Fuji prompted. "If we stay away for too long, bad things will happen."

"But we'll see each other again."

"I hope not too soon, Izanagi." There was vehemence in Hiro's voice. It almost sounds as if he hated Izanagi. Thinking back – and I mean way back – he didn't get along with dad even in his last days. I suppose the reason why Hiro is glaring at Izanagi right now is because he has our father's face. Still, he should respect the guy coz he's a god and not our dad. But then again, I know the Ice Prince doesn't give a crap.

"Hiro Domanashi, correct?"

"That I am."

"You look just like your father Masahiro Domanashi." All of the gods started murmuring to themselves.

"Quite. The boy has his father's looks."

"It's just too bad he didn't inherit his father's cheery attitude."

"That would've made him more attractive, too." Hiro caught wind of what they were saying. If there's one thing gods are not good at, that's keeping their opinions to themselves.

"I hope that you would refrain yourselves from mentioning that man's name in front of me again."

"It is clear that you dislike 'that man', Hiro Domanashi. But one day, you will understand the reason behind his actions if not for your present mood."

"Dear, I'd like to remind you that time is ticking."

"Alright. Farewell then, ninjas." With a brilliant flash of light, the deities departed. Helia-sensei turned to us with a tired smile.

"We've had a long day, guys. Let's go home."