Senju Naruto- The Rise of a Hero
Chapter 11 – On the way to Taki
Inspired by 'The Hope of the Senju Clan' by Aragon Potter
Naruto does not belong to me.
The next day, the Northern Gates, Konohagakure
It was six in the morning. Naruto was pacing soundlessly around the gates, waiting for the members of Team 8 to arrive. In his hands was the second edition of Icha-Icha series, Icha-Icha Baiorensu (Icha-Icha Violence), which he had bought from Shiho's shop after meeting the Hokage.
Naruto and Team 8 met outside of the Hokage's office to have a final word before the left for the day. Kurenai turned towards her genin, "Alright Team 8, as you heard, we have a big mission starting tomorrow. Go home and pack your stuff for a week. Meet with your parents and talk to them about diplomatic missions. And meet around 6 in the morning near the north gate, we will proceed from there to Takigakure (Hidden Waterfall Village). Any questions?"
At this, Hinata spoke up, "S-Sensei, will w-we be fighting ninjas?"
"Well, as this is more of a diplomatic mission, the chances of any fights occurring are less. Still, you never know what's going to happen. So prepare yourself accordingly." Replied Kurenai. Seeing no more questions, Kurenai nodded and dismissed her team.
As her team left, Kurenai turned towards the blonde special Jounin, who was calmly looking at her. Seeing his deep-blue slit eyes still perturbed Kurenai, reminding of the terrible event that happened thirteen years ago. Swallowing her pride, Kurenai dumped that thought and bowed to him to apologize.
"Naruto-san, I am sorry for everything that happened few weeks ago. I had let emotions overrule my logical sense and attacked you along with the others. We are going on mission together and I do not want my first impression on you to destroy this mission. Please accept my apology." Said Kurenai, her voice filled with remorse.
Naruto's expression remained unchanged as he listened to the apology. He knew Kurenai's apology was sincere, and could easily feel the regret and shame rolling off her. But he could also sense the fear hidden in her expression.
"No need to apologize, Kurenai-san." Said Naruto, as he slowly started walking towards the building's exit. Kurenai stood back straight as she saw Naruto walking away. "I know you don't like me that much and I understand that you were just covering the back of a fellow ninja from someone like me.", he continued, ignoring the sharp intake of breath by Kurenai. "Don't worry, the mission will go just fine if you can keep your biased views for me out of the way.", he said emotionlessly, kicking away that hopeful smile off Kurenai's face.
"N-Naruto-san, I-It is not like that. I …", reasoned Kurenai, before Naruto turned and left the building. She ran to follow him but found him nowhere outside the building. Seeing no use, she sighed and started walking to find her friend, Anko.
Naruto shunshin himself in front of the familiar bookstore. After seeing the red-cover book in Kakashi's hand, he exactly knew what to buy this time. Opening the door, he went inside, only to find Shiho standing on a ladder and arranging some books on a high shelf. He walked closer and stood beside the ladder.
"Shiho-san…", called Naruto, only to catch Shiho unawares as she had not heard him coming inside earlier and her balance became unstable on the ladder.
"Aaaahhh!" screamed Shiho as she fell backwards. Naruto was quick to act. He extended both his arms forward, catching Shiho bridal style. Her eyes were shut tight because of fear and all the books from the top shelf fell around them.
Feeling no hard floor on her landing, Shiho peeked open her right eye. Only to find Naruto looking at her with a concerned look on his face. Realising the situation and her position into Naruto's arms, red slowly started creeping on her cheeks.
"Are you alright?" asked Naruto, his facial emotions reflecting in his voice, as he slowly put Shiho on the floor with her head resting in his left arm. He knew now why Shiho's face was flushed red but he was concerned for the store keeper. What he didn't know that Shiho had already slipped into her fantasy world.
'It's just like those Prince Charming stories. He is the prince who comes to the rescue of the damsel in distress. And with the sort of lineage he has, he is a Prince of Konoha.' Thought Shiho. Naruto grew more concerned when Shiho didn't reply and started to drool a little. He lightly slapped her face, which abruptly ended her dream.
"Shiho-san? Are you alright? Can you stand?" questioned Naruto.
"H-Hai" mumbled Shiho. She tried to stand but quickly fell back when she couldn't keep her left leg straight.
"Aaaahhh" screamed Shiho.
"What is it?"
"I-I can't stand. I think I sprained my ankle." Spoke Shiho as she took deep breaths to settle the ache in her foot.
"Ok. I'll help you then" said Naruto with a nod as he quickly undid the arm guard on the right arm and rolled his sleeve back to expose his wrist. He neared his wrist near Shiho's mouth, who looked confused.
"Bite on it. It will heal you." Said Naruto. Shiho looked at Naruto's wrist and back to his face, still confused.
"My chakra has healing properties. You will be back on your feet in no time." Clarified Naruto.
"Ha-i." mouthed Shiho, still apprehensively as she opened her mouth to bite into Naruto's wrist. As soon as her mouth closed, her eyes went wide open at the influx of chakra. Her body felt full of energy and her senses were sharper than ever.
'So much chakra. I have never felt like this before.' She thought as she tried to savor more of it but was stopped by Naruto who took his wrist out of her mouth. She saw the bite mark on his wrist disappearing within seconds. And then she internally grumbled when Naruto rolled open the sleeve and put the arm guard on.
"I think you are fine now" said Naruto. "Try standing now."
Shiho nodded as she tried to stand and this time there was no pain in her leg. She felt enough energy in her to run a whole marathon.
'What was this chakra? I have never felt this alive before!' pondered Shiho. Naruto could sense that Shiho was intrigued with what just happened. But he was in no mood to sate her curiosity. He wanted to keep his secrets hidden from the public as long as he could. He made two Kage-Bunshin to put the fallen books back on the shelf.
"Now that you are fine, shall we get back to the business?" asked Naruto.
"How did you do this, Naruto-san? No one I have seen has such type of chakra. And how did your wound heal so quickly?" questioned Shiho, adjusting her glasses.
"Sorry, Shiho-san. I cannot tell you my secrets now, can I? Plus, you work at a bookstore. I am sure you will find some books related to the questions you asked." said Naruto, his voice slowly losing the mirth. "And I would appreciate if you keep this event just between us two. I don't want anything bad happening to you." Shiho almost recoiled listening to an underhanded warning given to her. She quickly nodded her head negatively to save herself.
"No-no-no-no. I won't tell anybody. I promise." She spoke quickly.
"Thanks." Said Naruto, as he moved towards the store counter. Shiho quickly gathered herself as walked to the opposite of the counter. The Kage Bunshin had dispelled themselves as they were done with setting and arranging the books on the self.
"Can you sell me the next book of the series?" asked Naruto. Shiho's cheeks turned red before she picked out a red-cover book from the shelf behind her.
"You are in luck." Said Shiho. "This is the last copy of the book left in the store. The whole consignment got sold out within two days. I will sell it to you for free, for saving me and healing me later." Said Shiho as she slowly extended her hand with the book. Naruto raised his brow listening to the deal. This was a courteous offer and he was not the one to look a gift horse in the mouth. So, instead of just taking the book, he pulled Shiho's hand, making her lean on the counter towards him. Shiho's eyes went wide as Naruto titled his head and landed his lips on her left cheek.
The kiss lasted only two seconds. But for Shiho, it lasted for all eternity.
"Thank you, Shiho-chan." Said Naruto, as he slowly pulled back from the kiss. Pocketing the red-cover book in his kunai pouch, he walked towards the door without looking back at Shiho who slowly sat back in her chair, still dazed from the moment. Her hand slowly rose to trace the moist imprint left on her cheek.
A smile came on her face.
'Hmm, this book's approach is completely different from the previous one. The woman doesn't know how to respond to the man's feelings and is initially cold and hostile towards him. But as the story proceeds, man's love is slowly affecting her and she is gradually showing her warm side to him. Interesting.' Pondered Naruto, as he flipped through another page.
From the corner of the eye, he could see a grey-clad figure walking towards him at a steady pace. As he neared, Naruto could trace the dark brown spiky hair and round black glasses. Among his age group, Shino was only one who came close to Naruto's height. And the only genin to gain his respect so far.
"Ohayo, Shino-san. Ready for the mission?" asked Naruto, as he lifted his eyes off the book. Shino was carrying a green color backpack with him. Hands in the pocket and face calm and composed, he looked ready as ever.
"Ohayo, Naruto-sensei. I am ready." Replied Shino. "Is there anything I should know before we leave for the mission?"
"Hai. Just call me Naruto from now." Replied Naruto, his face equally calm and composed. If there was any change in Shino's facial expression, Naruto saw none because of his high collar. But he easily felt that Shino was somewhat amused.
"Hai, Naruto." Replied Shino.
Naruto smiled a little before his eyes went wide as his instincts alerted him to the upcoming danger. Forming two quick one-handed seals, with book still in his hands, Naruto channeled chakra around him. Shino saw that out of thin air, droplets of water started forming and gathering in front of the blonde sensei, forming a wall. He was confused of what was happening when, out of the blue, two kunai aimed at Naruto came crashing into the water wall and were caught by Naruto when their speed was dampened by the water.
'Taking water out of the air still takes a lot of chakra and focus. I have to train harder from now on.' Thought Naruto, taking long, deep breaths.
'I didn't even sense them coming. And Naruto here even took the water out of the air. Maybe because he is the grandson of the Second.' Thought Shino, as looked in the direction from where the weapons were fired. He saw Kurenai standing with his other two teammates. Kurenai seemed to be very cross about something whereas Hinata and Yakumo were anxiously standing behind her. Kurenai marched straight towards the blonde Jounin and the other genin quietly followed her. Naruto's expression turned grim when she stopped before him and raised her finger to point towards the book in his hands.
"Have you gone mental, woman?" asked Naruto, with a scowl.
"Naruto, what is that book in your hands?" asked Kurenai with displeasure, ignoring the question asked by the blonde Jounin.
"What the book is or is not should be none of your concern, Kurenai-san. The actual question is; why did you try to attack me again?" retorted Naruto.
"A book like that should not be in your hands. Are Kakashi's bad habits getting on you?"
"Why? Is something wrong with it? Is that what you were trying to do? Using my book as a target for your kunai?" countered Naruto. "If you don't want me to read it in front of you, just say it. I won't read it then." instructed Naruto, as he pocketed his book and angrily turned to face away from her.
'I should not have heeded Anko's tip and to play hard ball and deal with him like he is some newbie ninja brat. Our non-existent relation just deteriorated again. I should have rather asked Kakashi on this. He is a ninja prodigy himself. He would have known how to deal with Naruto.' Pondered Kurenai, before she thought of how to proceed from this situation. Her genin were looking at her with anticipation. Moving towards Naruto, she kept her hand on Naruto's shoulder, making him turn his head towards her, his blue eye fiercely looking at her.
"I am sorry for being so aggressive towards such trivial matter, Naruto-san. It's just that this book is not suitable for someone your age." Said Kurenai, taking a peaceful approach this time. Naruto took a deep sigh before turning back to face Kurenai properly.
"Kurenai-san, I am trying to fill few holes in my knowledge. I won't read the book in front of you. But please refrain from approaching me like you did in future." Said Naruto mirthlessly, as he handed the kunai back to Kurenai. She nodded and kept her weapons back into her pouch. Both then faced towards the genin of the team, who were silently waiting for them to finish their talk.
"So what is the book about?" asked Shino, breaking the silence, as he pushed back his black goggles. Kurenai tried to take a subtle approach to it but the blonde Jounin beat her with his answer.
"Life and Sex" worded Naruto, indifferent to the reactions of the others around him. Shino and Kurenai got a light blush on their cheeks, whereas the genin kunoichi's faces were as red as tomatoes.
Kurenai was the first one to come out of the trance as she coughed loudly, getting everyone's attention.
"Alright enough of this talk. Let's get into diamond formation. Hinata will be at the back of the formation. She can use her Byakugan to keep a check at both front and back. I and Yakumo will stay in the middle. We aren't heavy hitters so it is more suitable to cover the team" said Kurenai, before her attention turned towards Naruto.
"Naruto-san, I don't know much about what you can do. Which position is most suitable for you?" asked Kurenai.
"I am a sensor-type and a heavy hitter. It is more suitable for me to stay in front." Confirmed Naruto.
"Hai. So Naruto-san will lead the formation. Yakumo will be flanked in-between by Shino and I in the middle and Hinata will be at the tail of the formation. It will take us around two days to reach the Hidden Waterfall Village. Let's get moving." Instructed Kurenai.
"Hai!" chorused Team 8, as they ran out of the gates.
No one among team 8 took notice of the small seeds littered on the ground as they ran over them.
Naruto and Team 8, en-route to Takigakure
"Kurenai-sensei, I am tired." Spoke Yakumo, as she jumped from tree to tree along with her teammates. Kurenai could see the how drained Yakumo looked. It had only been three hours since they moved from Konoha and their speed was modest. Her other two genin still looked comfortable with the pace but Yakumo looked haggard.
She knew Yakumo was physically unfit but it was her use of her clan's bloodline limit in its entirety that made Yakumo's father and clan head, Kurama Murakumo, petition the Hokage to train her daughter as a proper genjutsu were even hard for Kurenai to break. Kurenai was not sure if she was a capable tutor for Yakumo to build her into a genjutsu-only ninja but she was going to try her best to bring the potential out of her student.
But before she could reply, Naruto spoke, "Here, let me help you," forming two hand-seals, ending with a snake seal.
Doton: Kage Bunshin (Earth Release: Shadow Clone)
Everyone saw Naruto opening his mouth as he spat some mud down on the ground, which quickly formed into another Naruto. The clone jumped near Yakumo and turned his back towards her.
"Kurama-hime, hop on up. I will carry you from here." Said the clone, as his hands motioned her to jump on his back. Yakumo was confused as she looked at Kurenai for advice. Her sensei just gave her a small nod and that was all she needed before she carefully hopped on the back of the clone.
"Please take care of me." Spoke Yakumo softly, as she wrapped her arms around the clone's neck. With that, they started moving again towards their mission destination.
The team halted its movements as it got harder to maneuver comfortably through the dark. A crescent moon shone dimly in the clear night sky along with the stars as Naruto and others searched for a good place to camp for the night. They were only few hours away from the borders of the Land of Fire.
Coming out into a clearing, they found themselves standing on the shore of a small lake. The water was clear and chittering and croaking of insects and frogs could be heard in the clearing.
"This looks like a decent spot to camp for the night" spoke Kurenai, as she turned towards her genin to address them. "Alright guys, take out your sleeping bags and we will rest here tonight. So, who is going to guard first?" asked Kurenai. But she noticed that her genin were not focusing on her but behind her. Following their line of sight, she turned, only to find Naruto walking towards the centre of the clearing.
Focusing on the chakra reserve in the core of his body, Naruto sent a required amount to his legs as he performed the hand-seals to mould it according to his will.
Doton: Iwa Shichūka no Jutsu (Earth Release: Stone Four Pillar House Technique)
The eyes of the onlookers widened as they saw a house made of rocks and mud slowly rose up from the ground. It was a two-story cottage with Japanese style architecture with doors and windows. And right above the entry, there was the Senju Clan insignia inscribed on it.
Naruto exhaled the breath he was holding as he settled the chakra in his body. He had thought about a decent sized house he saw in his clan compound when he moulded the chakra. And he was not disappointed with his creation. He then took out few paper seals and pasted them around the cottage. Turning his attention back towards his team, he found the genin and Kurenai looking at him in awe.
"Welcome to the Springfield Cottage" said Naruto with a bit of mirth. "This place is protected by a barrier, so that we can camp in peace. There are two rooms inside. Choose whichever you want."
"This looks great, Naruto." Called Kurenai. "What are the seals for?"
"They will keep the cottage hidden from the intruders." He replied. "I am going for a swim. I will catch some fish for dinner." Said Naruto, as he started walking towards the lake. Kurenai turned her attention towards her team who were attentively looking at Naruto walking away.
"Hinata, Yakumo" spoke Kurenai, drawing the attention of her genin. "You two look very tired. You both go and freshen up. Shino and I will go gather some wood for cooking."
"Hai sensei," responded the two female genin of the team as they broke up to perform their respective chores.
Somewhere near Waterfall Village
A lone man could be seen walking silently under the canopy. The only sound that could be heard was that out frogs croaking and insects chittering. The figure was wearing a long grey cloak which covered his body and half of the face. Long, spiky hair were sticking out from the head which were held out of his face by a bandanna. A pair of small, dark eyes were constantly checking the surroundings to make sure that he wasn't followed.
As he kept moving on his path, he reached a clearing around one of the many waterfalls that surrounded Takigakure. He took out a small bundle out of his pocket and started weighing it in his hands.
"Well, isn't this a pleasant surprise" said a figure standing on a tree branch behind the cloaked figure. He jumped down the branch and crouched in front of the cloaked man. "What brings you here in the middle of the night, Suien-sama?"
"Where are the other two, Murasame?" asked Suien.
"They are sleeping, Suien-sama." Replied Murasame. "Is it time for us to accomplish our mission?"
"Well, that will have to wait." Replied Suien. "We have a new situation. If we handle this well, our work will be easier when we will seek the Hero Water."
"Is there anything you want us to do, Suien-sama?" asked Murasame. Suien nodded and hurled the pouch at Murasame to catch, which he did.
"A team of clan heirs is coming from Konoha to Taki to amend the alliance both villages currently have. From the reports I received, they are still genin. I want you to make sure they don't reach Taki. That will be a big blow to the alliance between Taki and Konoha. It will make things easier when we will assassinate the leader of Takigakure and rule the village and Hero Water."
"What about Shibuki, Suien-sama? He is your student, isn't he? Will we kill him too?" asked Murasame.
"Shibuki is a coward. He is intelligent enough to learn skills I taught him but cowers behind others when he is on field. I hold no sympathy for him." Replied Suien. "Now with the money I gave you, I hope there won't be any problem handling a team of green genin and their sensei."
"We won't disappoint you, Suien-sama." Nodded Murasame as he shunshin away.
'Just a little more time and Takigakure and Hero Water would be mine to rule.' Thought Suien as he himself disappeared in the dense forest.
That is all for this chapter.
Sorry for the long delay between the updates. Travelling and school ate up my writing time. New update will be posted soon.