The village was alight with the sounds of the hunt. Brightness slipped through the locked shutters of windows as curious civilians peered out into the night, cocking their heads to catch the sounds of their faithful shinobi force calling to each other across the divide of buildings.
"He's heading east!"
Everyone that was not an active member of the Konoha shinobi force above chunin rank was on lockdown. Just an hour earlier a very important scroll had been found missing from the Hokage's office, a very important scroll they had discovered to be taken by someone they had never expected. A spy. Ryuto Mishimoto was somewhat handsome. Handsome in a completely average way of course, which made him perfect to gain access to the Hokage building and thereby classified documents. What no one in Konoha knew about Ryuto Mishimoto was that his true name was Yoru Nakimura, and he was an infiltration specialist from Kumogakure.
Yoru panted in exhaustion, quickening his pace nonetheless as he heard his pursuers gaining. It had been about an hour since he had stolen the scroll and though he had hoped to be a fair distance away by now, it seemed fate was against him and he had spent the time leading his pursuers through every nook and cranny of Konoha that he had seen fit to memorize during his time here. He was having a difficult time of the chase and in hope of escaping was heading east towards what he had discovered to be called the Forest of Death. Everyone avoided due to the danger it presented, but surely with his evasive skills he would be able to lose them to the maze of colossal tigers and giant leeches. He hadn't had the chance to explore the area before but at this point he had to take the risk. Leaping from building to building, fewer and far in-between as they began to enter the more less populated areas of Konohagakure, Yoru could see that there was a pack of about five ninja behind him, waiting with eager eyes and slavering jaws for him to stumble. At long last training ground forty four entered his vision. As he entered the dark creeping forest the pack came to an abrupt halt at the border behind him and he breathed a sigh of relief. He was safe.
The group of jonin came to a sudden halt just before the border of the forest of death. As they began to turn back however, one of the younger recruits protested.
"Why are we giving up? Just because he entered the forest of death doesn't mean we can't still catch him!" He exclaimed angrily and the other jonin had to physically restrain him so that he did not enter the forest himself. One of the older members of the group sighed. He always hated this part of the job but somehow with his seniority the job never failed to fall to him. Just as the new recruits never failed to protest leaving the chase. Really if they had read the statistics for enemy nin survival in the forest of death, they might not raise such a fuss. Laying a hand on the new jonin's shoulder, he began to explain.
"This hunt is no longer ours. It belongs to the forest now."
"What?!" The young jonin exclaimed "but he'll escape!"
"No he won't" the older jonin replied firmly, in a way that left no doubt as to the result of the chase
"Quiet!" The elder jonin snapped before settling down to tell a story he wished to kami he had never heard, much less witnessed
"There is a secret known only amongst those shinobi of konoha with a certain status and age, more of a legend really to the civilians, of a demon that reigns over the forest of death. It was once our victim but now it is the executioners blade held tauntingly over our heads. It can kill us at anytime. It knows it, we know it, and we both know the anbu would never arrive before it was too late and it had released the monster inside of it. To sate its bloodlust, whenever an enemy nin escapes into the forest of death they surrender themselves to it, along with any information they hold. Along with them goes the occasional prisoner and anyone that intrudes without permission. No one enters the forest. No jounin, no anbu, no members of the council, only the Hokage. It is the demons land and those who enter play by the demons rules. Death."
"But-" just as the new recruit's arguments once again made an appearance, a long wailing shriek rose up, echoing above the treetops only to suddenly cut off leaving dead silence.
"It looks like our job here is done" the jonin said, his meaningful glance saying to the younger ninja, that would have been you
Sarutobi Hiruzen was the Hokage of the village hidden in the leaves. He once had a wife and currently had a son, a daughter and a grandson. What most people did not realize however was that he also had a grand daughter, adopted though she was. It was this grand daughter that he was visiting today. As he leapt through the treetops of the forest of death the Hokage sighed. How he wished he could have visited Naru in the village but none of his attempts to integrate her into the village ever ended well. The last time he had tried there was a mob at her doorstep within the hour. They never found the remains. Naru had been such a sweet girl once, the image of her father but for her mother's crimson hair. Now no one was even sure if she qualified as human anymore. Faced with the hatred and enmity of the village for as long as she could remember, Naru grew into a bitter child. The friction between Naru and the villagers finally yielded flames when she was attacked by a group of hired thugs. The shinobi side of the population hadn't been involved in the least but Naru had nearly died and had never been the same after.
Faced with the prospect of death, the Kyuubi had saved itself and its host in the only way it knew how. Contrary to tradition the bijuu hadn't saved itself by lending its host enough power that she went on a rampage, killing everything in her path, instead sealing youkai into her physiology. It was theorized by Konoha's researchers that in in an attempt to keep Naru safe for the years until it could fully recover from the sealing, the Kyuubi had awoken just long enough to flood her system with youkai before falling back asleep. This would have destroyed any normal person from the inside out over time, the youkai being as corrosive as it was, but due perhaps to her Uzumaki vitality, Naru instead adapted to the power, absorbing it to create what was thought to be an entirely new bloodline. This gave her great power but unfortunately she had developed some of the kyuubi's more noticeable traits in exchange. Seemingly overnight Naru sprouted fox like appendages including a tail and ears, along with her blue chakra shifting into a deep purple hue and her previously spectacular regenerative properties skyrocketing.
The researchers were ecstatic, the civilians less so and in a testament to their perseverance, the villagers finally managed to drive Naru out by the time she was six. It was then that Naru came across the Forest of Death and decided to make it, more than her home, her territory. With two exceptions, anyone that entered the Forest of Death met an untimely and frequently gruesome end. He was only glad that he and eventually Anko once they had met were allowed in. He had feared without any human influence Naru might succumb to the demon or become some sort of savage feral child, more an animal than anything resembling human. Thankfully, seeing the parallels in the way they were treated Naru had soon adopted Anko as a sort of older sister. Anko had taught Naru everything she thought the demon container should know, and wasn't that a fear inducing thought, so that the most the Sandaime had to worry about nowadays was the influence Anko had on her clothing. Even as he wound through the trees Sarutobi blushed at the thought.
Left to prosper in peace alone in the woods away from the villagers attempts at sabotage, her new predators instincts teaching her to fend for herself in the wilderness and Anko teaching her everything she knew as well as obtaining the materials for anything she didn't, Naru flourished. As the years went by her reputation rose along with her skills. By now, in a tip of the hat to her Uzumaki genes, Naru had become one of the few registered seal masters in the elemental nations and could solidify and manipulate her chakra to an extent that only Kushina had previously reached. In opposition to this accomplishment however, perhaps due to her tenant but more likely her upbringing, Naru had become unanimously throughout Konoha as a demon. The villagers now knew her as the Demon Queen of the Forest of Death, the demon to whom the monsters of the Forest of Death bowed and the one they all feared. If Sarutobi hadn't seen it himself he wouldn't have believed, but indeed the minute they crossed her path, without exemption, no matter how ferocious the predator, they would submit like a naughty cub to a mother-wolf. It really did scare him sometimes, making him wonder if they were just sensing the Kyuubi inside of her, or worse responding to Naru herself. He could only be glad that she cared so little for the village. Any other person would have sought to burn it to ashes but as long as no one intruded on her domain, Naru was content, if a touch suspicious. It was this issue which brought the Hokage to the forest this day. He hoped that despite the past being what it was, Naru might be able to put it behind her and her blatant distrust might cease. At this point Naru was the boogyman of the leaf village, the demon that would come to eat up little children if they did not go to bed without a fuss. He hoped that this fear might be enough to hold the villagers off until they could see Naru for the person that she was.
'If it does not spark a whole new fox hunt' Sarutobi sighed at the thought. All it would take was one idiot yelling that the Kyuubi had returned and the entire plan could be in shambles. But then he thought that if he could just convince Naru to join one of the recently graduated genin teams then she would be out of their reach and have a shot at a normal life.
Finally he arrived at the small clearing that marked Naru's abode. The tower was the only man made structure that existed in the Forest of Death and once the Sandaime had found out Naru was living in the wilds with only the occasional rabbit to meet her nutritional needs, it had officially become her new home. Entering without bothering to knock, as the weight of the sturdy doors would make the attempt at manners rather useless, Sarutobi was unsurprised to find Naru waiting for him in the lobby, sitting at the dining room table he had gotten brought in for her with a hot pot of tea. Resting his old bones at the table with a grateful smile, they exchanged meaningless pleasantries while he scanned his surroundings. Like always, Naru's home showed all of the usual signs of a quick clean up before company arrived. What he found disturbing however was that, like the one unnoticed cobweb in an immaculate house you couldn't help but notice, there were a few dusty bones left scattered in the corners that he could identify as belonging to a pair of hands. Granted she didn't have towering piles of skulls, but the Hokage knew that Naru brought her kills here, human or not. The part that brought a frown to his lips however was that he knew if not for him she would likely have bones scattered all along the floor without a care, and that she only hid them so as not to offend his sensibilities. As it was he had never been to the upper rooms and didn't particularly want to find out what they contained. Clearing his throat, the Sandaime addressed the real issue hovering in the room.
"Naru, I would like for you to give the village another chance"
"No" was her immediate and firm reply, said without a blink and without her expression so much as twitching from her genial smile. The Hokage stiffled a sigh before carrying on
"Please just hear me out. There is a group of genin graduating from the academy soon. You don't have to interact with the villagers and they wouldn't have any jurisdiction over you. You would be a shinobi of the hidden leaf on a trial basis and could leave anytime things got to tough for you to handle." The Sandaime hid a satisfied smile as Naru twitched in irritation. He knew how the idea of giving under pressure bothered her. She was just as hard headed and temperamental as her mother, just with a more cunning edge. Now it was Naru's turn to sigh and she adopted an oddly serious expression, a far cry from her usual mixture of sly amusement and mischief.
"Ji-chan you know why I left. How can you ask me to return to that?" Shinobi didn't cry. Or at least that was what Hiruzen told himself as he watched his adoptive grand daughter retreat into her shell.
"Please Naru" he pleaded with her, knowing that she wouldn't be able to refuse a plea from the man she saw as the closest thing she had to a family "I know the villagers will take more convincing but at least give the shinobi a chance." Naru bowed her head in sadness before jerking it up to meet his eyes in sudden ferocity and the Hokage could see hints of red swirling in her purple depths.
"Fine!" She snarled, baring her teeth threateningly, though Sarutobu could see the vulnerability in the action
"One. One more chance but only one." The Hokage smiled. For the first time in years he felt as if a great weight had been taken from his shoulders.
"You won't regret it Naru." He said "I promise." she only gave a grimacing smile
"Don't make promises you can't keep"