Inside The Water Dragon
The inside of the Water Dragon was unlike anything any of them had ever seen. Plant/muscle like things grew everywhere along with crystals. There was a river, waterfalls and even debris from all of the dragon's rampaging.
Issun: "Well, here we are. This is the Water Dragon's stomach, huh? Is it just me, or is it unbearably hot and humid in here?"
Vegeta's hair was starting to limp down from the humidity. It was indeed hot and humid.
Issun: "Hmm... With the way this dragon is running amok, I'm sure we'll see al sorts of gruesome things down here. I just hope I don't lose my lunch..."
Vegeta: "I just hope we don't BECOME lunch!"
Ichigo: "Same here."
Issun: "Think we're really gonna find that Dragon Orb in here, Geta?"
Vegeta: "I hope so. I've been in enough stomachs for one lifetime."
And so, with Ichigo riding on his back, Vegeta started the search for the Dragon Orb. While looking for the orb, they encountered a few demons that the Water Dragon had swallowed. They were no match for Vegeta and even Ichigo dealt with a few himself. They ended up coming across a watery trench where Vegeta thought he saw something very familiar down at the bottom. It was an Exorcising Arrow. Knowing that the Exorcising Arrow was needed somewhere, Vegeta headed down the trench to fetch it. Once he had it, he looked for a way up. There was a Power Spring nearby and Vegeta used the Bloom technique to made lilly pads across the water. Once at the spot, the saiyan used Waterspout to make a geyser to take him up. Heading further inside the belly of the beast, they came across the remains of a ship and a casualty of the dragon's rampage. But they couldn't stop. They had to continue on. Eventually they found the freaky gate that the Exorcising Arrow unlocked and it was dealt with. Beyond the gate was something unusual. An orb was entangled in an impressively strong web of muscle tissue.
Issun: "Hm? What's that? It's all tangled up in all this flabby stomach muscle. Looks like a glass ball or something."
Ichigo: "Could that be the Dragon Orb?"
Vegeta tried cutting the strong tissue but it wouldn't give. Ichigo tried as well but still the orb would not be released.
Ichigo: "Man that stuff is strong!"
Issun: "It looks like it doesn't want to give it up. We'll have to find something stronger."
Ichigo: "That stuff doesn't look like stomach tissue. Maybe we could use the Water Dragon's stomach acid. Heck! It's been devouring ships and even demons all this time so it has to be pretty strong."
Vegeta: "Oh nice. As if nearly getting digested once wasn't enough."
There was a passage to the right so they took it. At the end of the passage, there was a room with a pool filled with red liquid. At the top was a plug that dripped the same red stuff.
Issun: "A dead end? I don't know where we are now, but I don't like the look of the red liquid there."
Ichigo: "That's got to be the acid I mentioned. Be careful, Vegeta."
Issun: "Yeah! It'd probably digest us in a second if we fell in!"
Vegeta leaped onto the one and only acid free platform and Ichigo got off. Since the red liquid was, well, liquid, he was sure that the Waterspout technique could work. He drew a line from the acid to the fleshy thing above. It seemed to be working.
Issun: "What the heck are you doing!? That red liquid is raining down now! What'll happen if that fleshy mass dissolves? Hmm... Now you got me interested, too!"
Vegeta guided the acid to the chunk of flesh again, and then a third time. He tried it one more time and the acid ate away the fleshy mass. Red liquid was flowing down and the whole place was now flooded!
Issun: "What the...!? The whole place is flooded with that icky red liquid! We came to find the Dragon Orb, not to end up lunch!"
Vegeta: "Ichigo. It'll be very difficult to cross this stuff with you on my back. So can you keep up if I made a few lilly pads?"
Ichigo: "Not a problem."
Vegeta: "Alright then. Let's head back to that orb!"
Vegeta started to draw lilly pads on the red liquid. The pads were slowly being digested so Vegeta moved fast. Ichigo followed right behind him. The saiyan kept making lilly pads close to each other so the orange hair young man could keep up with him. Finally, they made it back to the orb. There was a small hill they was just above the red acid in front of the orb so that they could stand on it.
Vegeta: "Do you think your plan will work, Ichigo?"
Ichigo: "I'm pretty sure it will."
Vegeta: "Good enough for me."
Vegeta used Waterspout to guide the acid to the muscle. It was working. Bit by bit the muscle tissue was dissolving until the orb was free. The orb fell into the red liquid and started to glow. Right before their eyes, the red liquid disappeared. There was no doubt that this orb with a dragon figure wrapping around it was the Dragon Orb.
Issun: "Nice work, Geta! And great plan, Ichigo! We finally got the Dragon Orb! Now we should be able to break the barrier on Oni Island! Once Himiko locates the island on her crystal ball, the enemy's stronghold will be totally exposed!"
Ichigo looked at where the Dragon Orb had been stuck. It didn't look good.
Issun: "Boy, you sure had a hard time pulling that orb out. I wonder if the dragon's gonna be ok? Let's go, Geta. I mean, we got the orb. No use sticking around here."
Vegeta was about to turn around to leave when he suddenly felt an eerie presence. Suddenly, the exits were blocked! The room darkened and eight glowing pink/purple spheres of light flew around them. Ichigo prepared himself for a fight and stood close to Vegeta. The saiyan prince growled at the lights. He had a bad feeling about them.
Issun: "What the heck!? Are these the vengeful spirits of the people the dragon gobbled up?"
Vegeta: "I don't think so."
Issun: "No, wait... These aren't spirits. That weird color can only mean one thing... Foxfire!"
The weird lights suddenly came at Vegeta and the saiyan jumped up to avoid them! Then three of the lights transformed with a howl into demon foxes known as a Tube Fox! These were serious demons! It is often under the control of sorcery. Frequently the cause of famine and disease, sorcerers used these as a source of great wealth. But there was a problem. In order to control a Tube Fox, one needs supreme power and skill which meant that there was someone or something very powerful around! The demon foxes started their attack on the saiyan! With one good swipe from his hand, one was dealt with instantly. A second was taken down by Vegeta and a third by Ichigo. Two more appeared but were slashed by the saiyan's Power Slash technique. But the last three appeared and started doing something strange. They started dancing.
Ichigo: "What the hell?"
The young man glanced over at Vegeta and saw that the ink which powered his Celestial Brush being drained! It was just like in Kusa Village when it was full of an evil atmosphere. The saiyan started feeling weak.
Vegeta: "Ichigo... Stop them!"
Ichigo had to move fast.
The young man activated his Bankai, the most powerful level for a Soul Reaper!
Ichigo: "Tensa Zangetsu. Now you're in trouble."
Using his Bankai's immense speed, Ichigo dealt with two of the three Tube Foxes in a flash! The third had stopped sucking the ink from Vegeta and focused on the Soul Reaper. Its fatal mistake was taking its eyes off of Vegeta and the saiyan bit down on it with all his might! The fox demons were finished, but little flames from each one remained behind. The exits suddenly opened up again and the tiny flames merged into something. They revealed nine bamboo rods that were stuck together. The strange item was picked up by Vegeta.
Vegeta: "Thanks, Ichigo. Glad to see you still on your toes."
Ichigo: "I said I would help you and I kept my word."
Issun: "What the heck was that? It was kinda freaky. Looked like a bundle of bamboo tubes or something... I know! I bet those are the Fox Rods that busty babe wanted! You know, that ultimate weapon against the Dark Lord."
Suddenly, the whole place started shaking! The Water Dragon looked sick inside.
Issun: "Ack! I knew it! You should have tried to pull that orb out more gently!"
A splash came in front of Vegeta. He looked up and saw that the red acidic liquid was starting to rain down! He dodged it again and again until he was literally standing on the toes of one foot! Ichigo wasn't doing any better!
Vegeta: "Not good!"
Issun: "I'm too young to be digested! Let's get outta here!"
Time to get out of there and now! Ichigo was fast enough to keep up with Vegeta as the saiyan made a mad dash to the exit! Red liquid continued to rain down as our heros ran for their lives! There was no time to stop, no time to waste! They had to get out of there! The faster they ran, the faster the acid rained down! Eventually, they could see the exit and went for it! They all got out just in time as the Water Dragon sank to the bottom of the sea.
Issun: "The Water Dragon... It's dead..."
Vegeta, Issun and Ichigo could only watch as the lifeless Water Dragon disappeared in the darkness of the sea.
Issun: "Now what're we supposed to do? We have the Dragon Orb, but no Water Dragon for it to control! No matter how hard Himiko tries to locate Oni Island... Without that dragon, there's no way we can break the barrier."
Ichigo: "What are we going to do now?..."
Vegeta: "I... Don't know."
But then a light shined from the darkness of the deep.
Issun: "Hey! Something's coming!"
The light came right up to Vegeta. It was a man they hadn't seen before.
???: "Amaterasu. Origin of all that is good and mother to us all... I'm afraid there's no time left for me to speak now. But I do need to thank you and your friends."
Issun: "What for? And who are you anyway?"
???: "I am King Wada, the 27th king of the Dragonians."
King Wada, the King of the Dragonians himself.
Issun: "King of the Dragonian? So then, you were that Water Dragon!?"
Wada: "It was I, the Water Dragon, god of the sea, ruler of the deep. O great god Amaterasu. As you well know, there are ill omens heralding the coming of great strife throughout Nippon. Even the Dragonians have suffered under the forces of darkness."
And Wada told our heros the story of his valiant fight which ultimately led to this tragedy.
Wada: "They seek to prevent me from using my power... The power to break the barrier that protects Oni Island... I waged battle against the Dark Lord and consumed the Dark Instrument he wielded. But the instrument lodged in my stomach and drove me to madness."
Vegeta: "It all makes sense now."
Ichigo: "So that's why the Water Dragon was on a rampage."
Issun: "Instrument of the Dark Lord? You mean this thing?"
And Issun presented the Fox Rods to Wada.
Wada: "Yes, the Fox Rods. Without the Fox Rods, the Dark Lord has limited power. Now all of the monsters are doing everything they can to locate them."
Issun: "I see... They're like a key to his power or something."
Wada: "I can rest easy knowing they are in your hands, Amaterasu. I also ask that you give my wife, Otohime, the Dragon Orb. It is the heart of the dragon. It will bring peace to my people. Alas, my end is near. I have slain many innocents while in the grip of madness. I pray that their souls may rest in peace in these watery depths, these deep blue waters the people of Ryoshima Coast so dearly love. Farewell, Amaterasu. I shall pray for your good fortune."
And Wada sank to the bottom of the sea. It was now up to Vegeta to make sure that his soul could rest in peace. The Dragon Orb shined and took our heros back to the Dragon Palace. Once back at the Dragon Palace, a familiar woman appeared. It was Rao.
Rao: "Vegeta! You made it..."
Of course, Issun went limp.
Issun: "B-Busty babe..."
Ichigo: "Oh brother..."
Rao: "I saw the crazed Water Dragon thrashing about from the shore. So I hurried here to the Dragon Palace, just in case..."
That was odd, Vegeta thought. How'd she know where the Dragon Palace was? Rao never mentioned knowing that kind of information before. And he also found it strange that she just happened to be at the shore when the Water Dragon was thrashing around at sea. None of them ever told her that they had found the Dragon Palace and were planning to go into the Water Dragon.
Issun: "Aw, you don't have to worry 'bout us! I mean, nothing can stop ol' Geta here. Not fire, not water, not-"
Rao: "Tell me, Vegeta. What happened to the Water Dragon?"
Vegeta wasn't sure he wanted to answer her. She seemed pretty eager to know what happened to the Water Dragon. Too eager.
Rao: "Did he reveal the secret of penetrating Oni Island?"
Issun: "Hey, it's not nice to interrupt. I was on a roll, babe! Anyway, the Water Dragon was actually the Dragonian king. He turned into a dragon to protect the Dragon Palace."
Issun then hopped off of Vegeta and showed Rao the Fox Rods.
Issun: "He even snatched these Fox Rods from their boss!"
Rao: "You found the Fox Rods!?"
Issun: "Come to think of it, weren't you lookin' for these, babe? Aren't they the ultimate weapon against the evil beings? Hey, wait a sec... What about what you said about the Fox Rods? You know, about the ship sinking before they reached Himiko? Why'd we search that stupid ship if they weren't really there!?"
Rao: "If you're still upset that I put you in danger, I'm sorry! But time is of the essence now. Give me the Fox Rods! Quickly!"
Vegeta was getting more and more uneasy. Rao wanted those rods pretty badly.
Issun: "Now you just hold your melons, babe! I mean, if those monsters are frantically searching for them, whoever has 'em will have a huge bull's-eye on their back!"
Vegeta was unsure but he decided to hand them over anyway.
Issun: "I hope ya know what you're doing, Geta!"
Rao: "It's an eerie light they give out. Yet somehow alluring. With this, my holy powers will reach their limit. I can destroy every last demon there is! Protecting Queen Himiko with this great power - that is my duty. Don't worry, Vegeta. I must hurry back to the city now. I shall honor my duty with my life!"
And Rao ran off.
Issun: "With your life? Don't go getting yourself killed, babe! Aw, she's gone..."