Author's note: Hello readers, it's been awhile since I've wrote fanfics at all, but I've got a new idea and I'm very excited to create an interesting story. With Microsoft word now in my hands and a few more literature classes under my belt I feel like this will be a better work than any of my previous works, but that is for you, the readers, to decide.

Just a heads up, this will be Shikamaru centric (and from his point of view) mixed in with a couple OC characters coming into the fold for the sake of storytelling, so you've been warned. The aprox. Time this takes place is roughly Sasuke retrieval arc. Anyways without further ado, the prologue.

The Game Begins (Prologue)

Sore and stiff were the first sensations to enter my mind. Felt as if my whole body had been thrown around like a rag doll, but what had happened? Last thing I remember was going out from on a midnight stroll to clear my head, and then blankness. Just a lapse in memory.

I struggle to open my eyes fearing the sting of bright light entering my pupils, but it's not bright at all. It's actually quite dim and the air is course, unlike the fresh air in Konoha. Obviously somebody has taken me somewhere, which means they want something of me. This is becoming worse each second I begin to think about the whole situation.

"Wake up." A stern and raspy voice calls out to me and I lift my head off the ground slightly to look around to see if I can locate the source of the voice. Nothing.

Feeling as if it was a delusion I rest my head back down until I hear the voice again a little bit more impatiently call out, "Get up boy. You are testing my patience."

Okay, now I'm certain there is someone here with me. I shakily stand up to assess my surroundings, and it is quite unique. It appears to be some sort of old catacomb style room lit with 4 torches in each corner of the room, roughly the size of 2 apartment bedrooms put together. The room is vacant though, as if it's just a holding area for me, or whatever what used to be in here is long gone by looking at the state of the old eroded walls and stagnant taste in the air.

"Good. You're up. Now we can get to business." The rough voice states purposefully. Sounds like an older man by the sound of it, possibly late 50's or early 60's.

I scan the room for another person, and I'm the only one to be in this vacant room, until I notice a small speaker in the far upper left corner of the room. Whoever this person is, they've had a lot of planning on bringing me here. But why would they want me out of all people, especially to kidnap me in the middle of the night in the heart of Konoha.

"I have questions I'd like to ask before we go any further." I spit out in a tone of frustration. I need to get the hell out of here.

"You listen to me child! Too much planning has gone into this. Far more than you can fathom. I will explain to you your role. I've brought you to Saigo no Inori. There is a vault deep within this wretched catacomb. A first shinobi war relic. You will help me get what is inside…that is your task."

"And what if I don't want to help you?" I ask feeling like I know the answer won't be too pleasant in the least.

"Then don't expect to leave this place. Ever. I hold the keys to the entrance of this crypt, and you can rot in here for all eternity for all I care. Help me, and I let you go. Simple as that." The elderly voice calmly explains ominously. Looks like I'm at the mercy an insane grave robber of sorts most likely after some kind of weapon or jutsu that was hid away. What a drag.

With no other real choice besides dying in a dark and unknown catacomb known only known as Saigo no Inori, I ask the speaker in the corner of the room, "So what is it you want me to do?"

"Ahh good. Looks like you've come to the side of reason. Like I said, there is a vault deep within this tomb. What is inside is mine, and I need you to assemble a team to open access to the inner sanctum of the crypt."

"You mean there are others?" I ask a little shocked that anybody else could be in such horrible place.

"Yes 4 to be exact. There…somewhere in the catacombs. Hard to keep track in a place like this. You must be wary. This place is full of traps to keep people out, so avoid them, because you are no use to me dead."

"Alright I'll play along, just find these other people and avoid traps? Sounds doable." I respond as my body is starting to loosen up from the initial stiffness earlier.

"Yes…but all things are not as they appear. If you haven't noticed look at your chest. I have placed a seal on you, a curse mark. Try to make a run for the exit, and your chest cavity will explode before you see daylight. Also attacking others with this mark will yield the same result. This ensures team work and cooperation." The old man's voice beckons out as it sounds like he pulls away from the mic to muffle a cough of his.

I look down my shirt to glimpse at my chest, and theirs some crazy curse mark I've never seen before in my life etched upon my chest. Looks like this man has a lot of time to think this through. Makes me wonder how long he's been at this game.

"Alright, where should I start?" I say to the eerie speaker in the corner and I hear the man respond, "The first member is a cast off experiment of Orochimaru, named Juugo. He will be easy to convince if he is in his right mind. I believe he was last somewhere in the western part of the catacombs. Locate him, and bring him back to this room alive to receive further instruction."

A cast off experiment of Orochimaru? Sounds interesting, most likely one of those curse seal users if I'm not mistaken. I still don't like playing by this man's rules, I need some information about who the heck is keeping me here.

"I'd like to know some information first about you. It's only fair." I ask trying to sound too indignantly pissed off about the whole situation.

"My name is Kuragari, and that is all you need to know for now. If you want more information about me or this place, I suggest you do as you're told and yield results. Now be on your way." Kuragari answers back in an irritant way. This guy really doesn't like people asking questions, much prefers blind obedience.

"Is that it?" I yell at the speaker, only to hear no response returned. Great, my captor has now left to leave me to my own devices to find this Juugo character somewhere east of my current location.

I check my pockets and gear, being dressed in my traditional leaf shinobi flak I find most of my equipment missing. Looks like this Kuragari entity only left me with 2 shurikan, a rustic compass, and a kunai. Not that should be too much of a problem, but man this couldn't get much worse. Looks like the game is on.

Chapter Note: So we know the antagonist and protagonist and the first sequence that ensues. Hopefully this has sparked some interest, and feedback is always appreciated. An official first chapter will be coming out in the following days, with a bit more length to it than this, so in the meantime tell me what you think and hope you enjoyed the start!