A\N: I don't own either Naruto or The Elder Scrolls.
This is actually the first thing I tried to write. The first, raw version was written a week before I posted the first chapter of Drunken Space-Time Ninjutsu. In the last weeks, it just kept staring at me from my drive. I hope you guys will like it.
Beta: Duesal Bladesinger. The art cover was done by AlmostElectric, who is not only a good artist but an author with lot of potential.
It was a cold winter, this one. Even for Skyrim, a land known for its rigid climate, it was a difficult one for its inhabitants.
The denizens of the village of Helgen were all barricaded inside their homes, away from the biting cold. Laughs could be heard coming from the inside of the local inn, and sounds of music and songs.
But no laughs or songs were heating the Harissen household. Husband and wife were sitting quietly on different sides of the common room, ignoring each other in an almost embarrassing way.
After all, this was the last night they would spend under the same roof.
They already stopped sleeping in the same bed. It wasn't like they hated each other, or one of them had an affair. They had married too quickly and realized too late that they just didn't work as a couple. It happened every day, in every part of Tamriel, after all.
So they had decided, in common agreement, to divorce. They brought their case to the jarl and the priest of Falkenrath and asked for the annulment of the marriage. But it was more difficult that they would have believed it to be.
A wailing came from upstairs. Soon, another cry could be heard.
The soon-to-be-former couple met each other's eyes. That was the sound of the only reason why they hadn't already said their goodbyes to each other a week ago.
The woman nodded and rose, moving towards the stair that took to the house's upper floor. Following the noise, she arrived in the main bedroom where a crib was placed beside the bed she had shared with her husband.
Inside the cradle a pair of toddlers, not even nine months old, were crying. One of the twins had probably woken up and his noise disturbed his brother's sleep. Sitting herself on the border of the bed, the young mother started to swing slowly the cradle and singing a lullaby. She hoped that they would go back to sleep, the last nights had been almost deprived of rest, between the twins waking up and the tension between her and her husband.
They had tried to stay together, for their sons' sakes, they really did. But it wasn't fated to be, it seemed. The worse part was that by decree of the jarl, they would have to split the children. It was a compromise of sorts. None of the parents wanted to lose their offspring. And she had been given the right to choose, by the jarl and the priest alike.
She tried to talk about it with her former husband, but he just washed his hands about the whole thing. The choice was hers, and only hers. Nobody had objected at that, not even the jarl. May the Nine—may the Eight damn these men, torturing a mother with such a decision!
The children were asleep again, or so she thought, since they were no longer crying. She gazed at the fruits of her womb with sorrow in her eyes. They were so small, so fragile. They both had her blond hair, but inherited their father's blue eyes.
But who to choose?
She and the twins' father were both Nords, but she wasn't a Skyrim native like the man she had loved. One of them—the firstborn—was stronger and healthier than his brother. The second twin instead was more frail, and more prone to coughs attack and cold in this season.
She was born in Cyrodiil, and had no family that she knew of in her cold and ancestral land. No bonds to let her stay. Her relatives were living in Leyawiin, half a continent away from Helgen. She wanted to go there, away from Skyrim and all the good and bad memories and regrets.
But it was an hard and dangerous journey, especially for a lone woman with an infant.
She was not a defenceless maiden, having done her share of fights and killing during her days as an adventurer. Ironically, it was during one of her travels she met the father of her sons, a fellow traveller and mercenary. But traveling to Leyawiin, on foot, with a toddler on her back… that was just inviting death by the hands of the bandits that infested the major roadways in these troubled times.
Also it was winter, it was probable that all the passes had been covered in snow by now and become impenetrable.
The alternative would be a ship, but that would be an even longer journey. And more expensive, too. Fewer bandits, but not fewer dangers. Also, there were no ships that sailed from Skyrim to Cyrodiil. Not directly. She would have to change ships at least half a dozen times while traveling along the coast of continent, stopping to resupply in at least two of Tamriel's provinces.
If she was lucky.
High Rock could been safe enough, but then she would have to journey either to the Aldmeri Dominion or Hammerfell.
The Aldmeri Dominion was out of question. That meant no docks at the Summerset Isle, Valenwood or their client-state, Elsweyr. Better to avoid the Thalmor if at all possible.
Hammerfell was independent and devastated since the end of the war. Very few travellers and merchant ships went there. But should she have succeed in finding a passage through it, she could arrive in Cyrodiil, either with a caravan or by docking at the city of Anvil
On the other route, the eastern one, her first stop would logically be Morrowind, but that unfortunate land was in a chaotic situation since the explosion of the Red Mountain in Vvarderfell and all the invasions it had suffered.
Black Marsh had always been hostile to travellers and seceded from the Empire almost two centuries ago and after Umbriel appeared in the skies above Lilmoth...No. She would skip Black Marsh altogether. It wasn't a difficult choice.
But back to the children. She would think about how to travel later.
Who to choose? She knew her former husband loved them, otherwise she would have escaped in the night with both of them, jarl and priest be damned!
Should she take with her the healthier and stronger twin, more likely to survive the travel to her home? Or the frail one, hoping that his health would fare better in the warmer Cyrodill?
"Nines, forgive me," she murmured.
She made her choice.
Two days later, she was on a carriage that would have taken her to the city of Solitude, the biggest commercial dock of the entire province. In her arms, sheltered from the cold by a layer of blankets and furs, was one of her sons.
From the doorstep of the house where she had lived for two years, her former husband was watching her departing with their other child in his arms.
As the carriage started to move, the two toddlers eyes met, just for a moment.
The twins would never see each other again.
At least, not while alive.
3 months later...
In his long career as a shinobi, Sarutobi Hiruzen had seen a lot of things.
Most of them involved blood, pain, and mortal peril. He had fought in the first Shinobi World War, became Hokage before reaching twenty, led his village for more years than his precedessors and thanks to the assistance some of the greatest, more powerful jutsu known from the times of his generation, he was still alive to tell the tale.
So he should have been prepared for everything when his students finally come back from their first unsupervised, outside of Fire Country no less.
He had felt a sense of relief when he was told by an ANBU that his former genin team had returned to the village, weeks later than expected, but still unharmed.
He couldn't avoid to feeling a little proud. After all, his students had returned from their first mission in a foreign country, the Land of Tea, without any support from other allied forces.
That was a true testament to their potential and talent, and they were just twelve.
But nothing could prepare the Sandaime for what they carried inside his office to submit their mission report. Such a thing had never been rarely seen in the office of a Kage, and probably never in the hands of a twelve-years old girl.
In Tsunade's arms, covered by a small bundle of cloth, was a sleeping baby. And a very young one, too, if he could see correctly. Probably only a few months old.
He was slightly baffled by this. Even if he was sure that there was an explanation, it was really something he had never seen before.
His musings where interrupted by a soft cough from Jiraiya and the Hokage realized that he had tuned everything out for minutes out of shock.
"Welcome back," he said, hiding his embarrassment. "Report."
"Our mission in the Land of Tea was completed successfully and under the expected time, Sarutobi-sensei," Orochimaru said, coming closer to the desk and pulling out a scroll out of his backpack.
He accepted the scroll, but instead of opening it, he stared idly at his students, silently demanding an explanation.
"We are sorry for our tardiness," his pale student added hastily.
"You were supposed to arrive two weeks ago. I was almost at the point of sending a search party after you. What happened?" he asked, sparing a glance to the sleeping infant.
"The day before our departure, a violent storm hit the western coast of the Land of Tea," Tsunade answered. "It was very strong, and it lasted for days. Even for a shinobi, travelling in that climate would have been dangerous, so we decided to wait until it was over."
Sarutobi nodded. True, rumors of the massive storms coming from the ocean had reached even Konoha, but not one of those had mentioned how much damage they could cause.
"There was water everywhere!" Jiraiya complained. "A real flood! And we had to save everyone! That'll show them what an awesome ninja the Great Jiraiya is!"
There was quite a bit of pride in his loudest student's voice.
"We helped because we were paid to, Jiraiya," Orochimaru sneered. "After we checked into an inn, word spread around and the local lord summoned us. He offered a substantial sum in exchange for our services in helping his people."
The boy rummaged a while into his rucksack and took out of it two items, a scroll and a large pouch.
"Here's the contract we arranged with him, and the money we gained."
"I would've helped even if that guy didn't ask us to," Jiraiya pouted.
Sarutobi wanted to approve of his white-haired student's altruism, but he decided to refrain. After that contract signed on the field would give an advantage in the region to Konoha, giving to the village a better reputation and as such, more potential clients.
And the unexpected money was good, too.
But he was reminded of the other matter at hand when the baby woke up and started to cry.
"And what about him? Or it is a her?" he asked, smirking a little at seeing not only Tsunade, but also Jiraiya trying to calm down the screaming little bundle of joy.
With little success. The Hokage noted how Orochimaru's left eyebrow had developed a small tick. Their trip back home must have been… interesting.
"It's a he, sensei," Tsunade clarified, as she slowly lulled the baby.
"When we finally started our journey," Orochimaru started explaining, "we decided to pass by the coast. The whole region had been devastated by tidal waves. We navigated through it with ease, but five days ago we spotted the ruins of a village on the coast. We would have just carried on, but…"
"But Jiraiya started running towards the ruined village, screaming that he saw something," Tsunade muttered, after having finally been able to stop the child's screaming.
"Well, there was something! That's why I wanted to check!" Jiraiya whined loudly.
"You could have just said that instead of rushing in there! What if it was a trap?!" Tsunade yelled.
They all flinched when a loud wail erupted from the baby. All Sarutobi could do was sigh in frustration.
"There! Look! You made him cry again!" Jiraiya pointed out.
"It was your whining that made him sad, idiot!" Tsunade accused, throwing a jab at Jiraiya's head.
The crying only grew louder.
"Let's put him under a genjutsu!" Jiraiya said. "Something that will make him sleep."
"You can't use a genjutsu against someone this young, idiot! It could harm him!" Tsunade hissed, trying to calm the baby once again.
"And I didn't bear his and your wails all the way back to the village to see such an idiotic thing happening," Orochimaru said, frowning to his white-haired teammate.
"I presume," the Hokage said, interrupting his students' antics, "that the 'interesting thing' Jiraiya saw was the baby?"
"No, sensei. It was a ship wreck," the white-haired boy stated matter-of-factly, like it was perfectly normal.
"Oh, well, of course," Sarutobi indulged. After all, the boy was still a twelve years old. "Would you tell me about this… ship?"
"It was huge! And it didn't look like any other ship I saw before! And, and―"
"The ship had obviously been slammed against the shoreline by the storm," Orochimaru interrupted. "And somehow it wrecked exactly in the ruins of the village's dock."
"Hey! I was gonna tell him that!"
"Jiraiya, don't yell!" Tsunade hushed him, whispering. "I finally managed to calm him down!"
"As Jiraiya said," Orochimaru continued, ignoring his two teammates, "the ship had a design unlike anything we ever saw before. And…"
After trailing off, the pale boy seemed to hesitate.
Orochimaru hesitating when giving him a mission report? Unheard of!
"Sensei, it was made of a wood I wasn't able to identify," his student admitted finally, looking ashamed for his ignorance.
Now, that was really unusual.
"Really now? Could you please describe the design of this ship?" he asked.
"It was long! Really long!" Jiraiya started, enthusiastically. "And there was a wooden animal at the… What's it called? Prow! There was this wooden horse at the prow of the ship!"
"It was a wooden snake, idiot," Orochimaru said, rolling his eyes.
"Nooo," the other boy denied. "You're saying that just because you're obsessed with those things."
"The ship had a single mast, sensei," Tsunade interrupted, before her teammates started a brawl in the middle of the Hokage's office. "And the sail probably had to be really big. But the storm damaged it. There were also some shields along its sides, really big round shields."
"Yeah, they were awesome!" Jiraiya said, pumping his fist in the air. "They were taller than me!"
"Also, the entire ship was clearly heavily damaged by the storm and the impact with the dock," Orochimaru added.
Sarutobi remained silent for a few seconds, frowning because of his confusion. That didn't sound like any kind of ship he'd seen, or even heard of.
Had it not been for the baby, he would have already lit his pipe.
"So, you just saw this unusual ship? What happened after that?"
"We arrived besides Jiraiya, who was just looking at the ship wreck with wide eyes, standing right there in the open," Tsunade said, giving a poignant glance at her teammate, who was now massaging his head.
No doubt Tsunade had clobbered the boy when they had reached him. That would have been typical.
"As they started to argue, we heard a waling cry from above the ship," Orochimaru said. He launched a brief look at the baby.
"I see," Sarutobi said. He had already figured out that much. "And what happened after that?"
"I jumped on the ship!" Jiraiya proclaimed cockily.
Of course he did. Always so brash and impulsive...
"Even though we told him not to," Tsunade muttered.
"Hey, there was nobody around!"
"It could have been a trap," Orochimaru pointed out.
"But it wasn't!"
"We could have all died, had that be the case," the pale boy replied.
"But we didn't!" Jiraiya insisted, defending his case no matter what.
"And what was on that ship?" Sarutobi asked, giving his students a disapproving frown to stop the bickering. "Besides your new… responsibility, of course."
"Our what?" the children cried in unison.
"Kidding, kidding," he said with a mirthful tone. Children these days would believe everything. "But now stop bickering and tell me what did you find on that ship."
Jiraiya and Tsunade exchanged glances. Apparently they didn't know how to explain what they had seen.
"Bodies, sensei," Orochimaru said. Trust him, to be so blunt. "The ship's bridge was littered with bodies."
"Mmh, I see," he muttered. He really wished he could smoke a little. "I suppose they died because of the storm?"
"No, sensei," Tsunade replied. "There were… significant signs of combat. Most of the bodies showed multiple lacerations, and there were various weapons laying around."
"There was blood everywhere!" Jiraiya said dramatically.
"Most of them?" Hiruzen asked, ignoring the boy's outburst.
"There were signs of jutsu being used, too!" Jiraiya proclaimed.
Well, that changed everything. Were the other villages planning something?
His eyes narrowed.
"Were any shinobi among the dead?"
"No, sensei. We didn't find any ninja equipment, not even a kunai or hitai-ate," Orochimaru replied promptly. His student reached for another scroll inside his backpack. "We have stored the items of interest we've found on the ship here. I thought you would have wanted to examine them, they're quite… unusual."
Sarutobi accepted that scroll, too. Sparing a single glance at his students whose faces were full of expectation, he opened it.
The stored contents cluttered in a cacophony of metal all over his desk. Swords shaped unlike any katana he had ever seen composed the majority of the metallic mess that was covering his precious paperwork. There were also axes, maces, and other offensive tools scattered among the blades.
He reached for one of the weapons, and unsheathed it, examining the double-edged blade that departed from the vaguely cross-like guard. The metal showed some sign of rust, probably due to having been left uncared on the sea for days. The hilt's leather felt rough under his hands, and the weapon, even if heavy, looked well balanced.
"Sensei, look at this one! The steel is really hard!" Tsunade said enthusiastically, indicating one that was almost on the end of the pile.
"Steel tends to be hard, Tsunade-chan," he said as he felt the blade's edge with his finger.
"Senseeeiii! I mean that its steel is harder! And it doesn't even rust!"
Frowning in confusion, the Hokage put the exotic-looking sword in place, deciding to examine this 'harder steel' her student was talking about.
Shuffling around the various metal objects, he noted that among them there were also small jewels, pieces of armour, books and other mundane items, and under the whole mass, one of those round shields the kids had told him about. It was made of wood, with a metal border, and it looked really thick. A strangely painted animal was sported on it.
On the top of the shield, was laying the strangest sword he had ever seen, besides the Raijin no Ken that used to belong to the Nidaime Hokage.
The sword didn't have a scabbard, so he could see the exposed blade. The weapon was a beautiful black color, like a sliver of midnight.
The blade, the guard, and the hilt seemed to have been forged from a single metal piece. If he had thought that the other sword was exotic, this one looked utterly alien.
He grasped the sword and slowly lifted it, surprised by how heavy it was. The metal was cold, and looking at it from a closer distance, he realized that it was not steel. It was a metal unknown to him.
He had never seen anything like this before, indeed.
Where was the ship from? And the child, of course. There was also the matter of the child. Speaking of which...
"Where did you find him?" he asked, carefully lowering the weapon on the rest of the pile.
"We didn't find him immediately, it took us a few minutes," Jiraiya started, with a sad tone. "He was bound in a blanket, besides the body of a woman. We think… that she was the baby's mother."
"They had the same hair," Tsunade confirmed. "And she was embracing him, when she died."
"There were a dozen of bodies around her, too," Jiraiya continued. "She had killed all of them, using only a sword—"
"What sword was that?" the Hokage asked. He had a strange forebonding feeling.
"The cool black one, sensei. Oh, and she had used at least a fire jutsu."
Sarutobi eyes widened, and his gazed posed on the child.
Was the little boy the spawn of a shinobi? But if his students hadn't find any identification symbol or equipment… maybe the woman was a missing-nin that had decided to not show her status using a scratched hitai-ate?
But she couldn't have been one of the attackers, otherwise why would she have taken with her a baby, one that seemed almost a newborn?
What village could have she come from, to find herself on a ship of unknown origin that crashed on the western coast of the Land of Tea? Who had attacked them? It couldn't be a hunter-nin's doing, because the body of the woman hadn't been destroyed to preserve her village's secrets.
Pirates, maybe? Pirates with a missing-nin among their midst, that attacked the ship before, or even during the storm?
"Sensei?" his students said, trying to gain his attention.
Blinking his eyes, Sarutobi realized that he had doze off again, lost in his thoughts. He glanced at his students, and saw that another scroll was offered to him, this time by Tsunade.
"We have stored the remains of his mother too, sensei," said the girl, gesturing with her head towards the baby. "We thought that our medics could have examined her, to see if they could understand something about her."
Sarutobi knew that Tsunade was referring to the potential secrets that the body could hide within it. He nodded grimly. An autopsy would have probably revealed something about the origin of their mysterious woman.
"How long ago do you think the ship's crew died?" he asked.
"Difficult to say," she said, biting her lips. "It was pretty cold, so that may have slowed down the decaying process of the bodies, but I would say… at least two days. No more than three, judging by his state when we found the baby."
"Thank you Tsunade, now let's focus again on the child… how was he when did you find him?"
"On the brink of death," she said. "He had spent spent all that time in the cold, without food. I immediately started an emergency treatment, but to save him I almost suffered from chakra exhaustion."
"Once the child was no longer in danger of death, we had to stop her," Orochimaru clarified, causing Tsunade to be a little embarrassed.
"And she fell asleep soon," Jiraiya added, adding more reasons to Tsunade's chagrin. "The baby, too."
"And what happened next?" Sarutobi asked.
"We… disposed of the other bodies," the white-haired boy said sadly.
"Only because you were so damn stubborn about it," Orochimaru said, crossing his arms.
"Hey, snake bastard! We couldn't leave them to the animals!"
"Yes, we could. We lost time with that stupid task," the pale boy replied.
"But Tsunade was unconscious, we would have lost time anyway!" Jiraiya insisted.
"Hey!" the girl protested, offended by that remark.
"How did you dispose of them?" Sarutobi asked, wondering how his two pupils had managed such a grim duty.
To his surprise, the two boys, instead of answering immediately, looked at each other's eyes, hesitating.
"We burned them with the ship," they said in unison.
Sarutobi remained silent for a moment, before finally nodded approvignly. Destroying the remains had probably eliminated all the evidence of its presence, and probably left Konoha as the only Hidden Village that knew of its existence. That way, only Konoha would have gained from this strange encounter.
"After a few hours once Tsunade was able to travel, we departed immediately for Konoha," Orochimaru continued.
"Which I think was a bad idea," Jiraiya murmured. "We could have found a place to leave the baby, further inland. Instead, we had to take him all the way back to the Fire Country."
"I was the team leader, Jiraiya. It was not your decision to make. We've already talked about this."
"And what decision would this be?" Sarutobi asked, smothering another argument between the boys before it could start.
Jiraiya looked away, apparently disapproving Orochimaru's call.
"The baby is obviously an orphan with no ties that we know of, sensei. Searching and finding a family that would adopt him would have taken time. And since the region had just been flooded—"
"The research for such a family would have probably been unsuccessful, yes," he interrupted. "But why take him here to Konoha, Orochimaru? You could have just found a family or an orphanage… even a temple, here in Fire Country."
"Because Konoha needs more shinobi, sensei," the boy answered.
He nodded, understanding what his student meant. It was not exactly an orthodox recruiting method, but it had already happened in the past.
And the mother of the baby had been obviously some kind of shinobi, even if her origins were unknown. They probably would never know.
And if the boy had inherited some talent from her mother…
"So be it," he proclaimed. "The child will be placed under the care of our orphanage, and when he will be old enough, he will enter the Academy. It will be then, that we will see if your decision was a good one, Orochimaru."
"Thanks, sensei," his student said, bowing slightly.
Jiraiya, instead, pouted.
"Now, what is his name?" he asked, smiling.
There was a long silence, as his students looked at each other's eyes, their expressions a mix of embarrassment and realization.
"We… we didn't think of giving him one, sensei," Tsunade admitted with embarrassment.
"What? You've travelled with him for days. Surely you should have given a name to him? After all, you had to call him something when you spoke about him, right?" he asked, hiding his puzzlement.
"We called him 'baby'... Wasn't that enough?" Jiraiya asked, honestly confused.
For being so talented shinobi, his students were so clueless about some things. Once again, he had to remind himself that they were only twelve years old.
"Give him to me, Tsunade," he said, sighing softly as he spread his arms towards her.
The girl came closer to him, passing around the desk, and Sarutobi accepted the infant with a sense of caring that seemed completely out of place with an experienced killer sitting besides a pile of sharp weapons.
The baby didn't protest as he was gently lulled by the Sandaime's arms.
Jiraiya tried to suppress a snicker, and failed miserably.
"Something on your mind, Jiraiya?" the older man asked, caressing the child's spiky blond hair.
"No, sensei," his student replied quickly. "Sorry sensei."
"Good. Now, let's see…" he said, examining the child's features. "He was taken to us by the storm that hit the coast of the continent, mmh… waves and winds."
"He was taken here by us, sensei," Jiraiya muttered. That earned him a slap on the head, courtesy of Tsunade.
"And you said that you found him in the ruins of a dock, right?" Sarutobi asked, without reprimanding the girl's action.
"Yeah! You could say that the ship managed to dock, no matter what!" the white-haired boy laughed, amused by his own terrible joke.
Nobody else was laughing. Tsunade gave him another slap, and Jiraiya stopped laughing.
"I've got it," Sarutobi announced, grinning. "You will be known as Namikaze Minato."
"That's a dumb name, sensei," Jiraiya whined. Tsunade slapped him one more time.
The now named Namikaze Minato giggled in the Sandaime Hokage's arms.
A\N: That's all for this opening chapter, folks.
Don't worry, I'll keep writing my other stories too. It's just that this was staring at me with puppy dog eyes…Review! Reviews are love!
Omake, suggested by Duesal10!
"And what was on that ship?" Sarutobi asked, giving his students a disapproving frown to stop the bickering. "Besides your new… responsibility, of course."
"Our what?" the children cried in unison.
Sarutobi nodded. "You found him, you brought him here. Now he's yours to look after."
"But sensei, we're just kids!" Tsunade's pout could have melted stone.
The Sandaime would not be denied, however.
"You took on the burden of adulthood the day you accepted your hitai-ate. Age is irrelevant."
"But sensei! I'm too young to have a son!"
"Shut up, Jiraiya! This is your fault!"
As his three new parents started bickering, the baby exploded once again in a loud cry.