With it having been over three years now and almost 500k words, I thought it would be a good idea to place this little AN back here on chapter one for any new readers. So today- March Fourth, 2019, with the posting of chapter 70 - I'm going to take a few minutes to let you know what you're getting into.
First, as previously mentioned, this story has been written over the last three years and it's not done yet. By the end of the month it will, most likely, hit the 500k mark. What this means is that if there are errors in the next 69 chapters you read, there is a very good chance I've been made aware of them.
Like the major one at the end of the chapter when I just kept writing and completely forgot that I was supposed to be writing for a younger Naruto. Yeah, my bad.
Not going to change it though. This whole story has really helped me with my writing and you will probably notice that my writing style changes slightly throughout it. I'm not going to cover up the mistakes that helped improve my skills and helped shape Sealkeeper into what it is today.
My creation might not be perfect, but it's mine and I love it just the way it is. Hopefully you will too.
A few more things to note- I really need to wrap this up so I can dig out chapter one again and post chapter 70 that everyone's been so eagerly awaiting all day- before I end this.
This story can be pretty slow. It may speed up for a bit and then spend an entire chapter with Naruto thinking to himself in a carriage- yes, that does happen- and it there are groups of chapter where the entire mood changes.
Next, I do like to focus on character thoughts- and just characters in general- so what you read may not be accurate for the world. Not all characters know as much as you do. The story also won't always be on Naruto, because I do like to show what's going on throughout the world. There are chapters- sometimes consecutively- where he doesn't appear at all.
There are also some where there's no dialogue, but that's a different matter entirely.
Lastly, if you have questions in any chapter before 60, there's a chance that it's been addressed in a later chapter. Just keep reading. If you don't like the story, well, I'm not exactly charging you anything to read it, am I?
That about does it for this retroactive AN, but if you want to keep up with future updates and progress feel free to follow me at Eyazahrid on Twitter or visit Eyazahrid-dot-net.
I hope you enjoy.
Until I next have your attention,
Guess Who's still lurking about? Yep, this guy. I, Syynistyre, formerly Syynex, have, at long last, returned. Rejoice! Now, I'll end this here so you can get on to my newest creation. Enjoy ^_^
The excitement in the air rang more clearly than the academy bell ever could have as countless students raced out from their first day, eager to tell parents and siblings about what they had and would learn under the tutelage of experienced Chūnin instructors. At the front of this great mass, one boy stood out most prominently. His bright red hair- reaching his shoulders- was an oddity in the village of Konohagakure, shared by only one other inhabitant. Skin, more pale than the glowing moon, carried an ethereal quality that hinted at him being more a lost spirit than a being of flesh and blood. His eyes, however, were probably the feature that most took notice of – deep pools of amethyst that seemed to shine with the light of a million stars. He was well enough known in this village, a reminder of the great Kyuubi no Kistune's attack eight years ago. He was one of only two children born that day and by far the one that seemed most unnatural. There was no doubt that he had been born as an omen, or even that his birth had been the cause of the Kyuubi's attack, drawing the great beast to their village.
The wounds remained painfully fresh within them all.
The boy, unfortunately, was ignorant to the memories and horror he invoked within his fellow villagers and instead looked eagerly about the open field for his mother and sister- the centers of his tiny universe. Confusion seeped into him as the seconds ticked by without any sign of them. Seconds turned to minutes, and minutes into nearly an hour. The field was long since emptied and he stood alone in the dying light of the evening sun.
"Naruto?" he turned to whoever had called his name, only to be met with the sight of his instructor Umino Iruka. The Chuunin held within his hands a small stack of papers and had obviously just left the building to head home for the night. Frowning, the man looked down at Naruto in concern.
"Where's your mother?" Asked Iruka "Or Yuuhi-san? Surely she'd have sent her old student to pick you up if she was unable to?"
"I- I don't know. I thought they'd be here." It was barely a whisper, but Iruka heard the last part clearly enough. "They promised."
The sun had long since set, the full moon taking overthrowing it and taking the kingdom of heaven for itself. Sitting upon its midnight throne, it gazed down upon the young boy traversing the streets, bathing him in its illuminant radiance.
What boy could have been wandering the streets of the clan district by the light of the moon? Red hair easily answered as Uzumaki Naruto, son of Kushina and suspected son of the Yondaime Hokage Namikaze Minato, as he made his way home. Iruka had been kind enough to take him out for a bowl of ramen to make up for the fact that no one had come for him. Feeling quite a bit better with a belly full of hot noodley goodness, he had thanked his new sensei, bid him farewell, and made his way home.
Coming to the gate that bore the traditional Uzumaki spiral, he couldn't help but feel that something was off. Shrugging away the uncomfortable feeling, he pressed onwards, placing his hand upon the door so that it could recognize his chakra.
Ice formed within his chest, a hollow horror that seeped into his entire being. He hoped he was wrong after a small jolt of pain had been sent up his arm, a warning to those who did not have permission to enter the compound. You would only ever receive one warning. Just as the seals stored signatures that were allowed onto the property, they also stored the signatures of those who tried to gain access without permission. If the small pulse of chakra it forcefully pushed back into your chakra system wasn't deterrent enough, it would unleash a much larger amount on any subsequent attempts.
The larger pulse wasn't just plain chakra either. For years, both Mito and Kushina had siphoned off small amounts of the Kyuubi's chakra into the matrix. At this point in time, Naruto knew that there had to be at least three full tails of corrosive chakra stored, waiting to lash out the second it was given a target.
Three tails of the Kyuubi's chakra would probably be the equivalent to the Gobi- instant death. Luckily for those like himself, looking to push their luck and hoping against hope that they would be recognized, it did not release it all at once. A tenth of a tail (or approximately one seventh of the Gobi) would be released. It was by no means safe, but it wasn't instant death, at least. Silver linings, right?
Taking a deep breath, he prepared to test his Uzumaki luck. This was stupid. He knew it was stupid. But he really didn't have any other option. He didn't have any friends to stay with, he didn't know where Kurenai lived, the lights in the compound were out- though suspiciously early at that-, and he really didn't want to sleep out here during a cold autumn night. Steeling his resolve, he once more touched the gate.
Pain flooded his small body.
Like acid it spread, a ravenous beast that devoured everything it encountered as it coursed through his veins. He was aware of screaming- his own, most likely- but he felt an odd detachment from the sound that failed to invoke any recognition within his heart. No, there was no time for such trivial things when he was busy feeling his innards liquefy and weakened bones shatter under the unexpected strain of melted muscle. The smell of burning flesh assaulted his nose as his skin shriveled away and the taste of his own blood filled his mouth.
Perhaps he should have slept outside tonight instead, taking chances with the freezing temperature Hi no Kuni's autumn nights were known for. A slow death by freezing would have been preferable to this, as would have been the wild animals that prowled the edge of the village- such as the clan compounds- during the night, a natural defense that had stopped its share of foreign Shinobi attempting to sneak into the village.
His head began to feel light as darkness grasped for him, numbing the fiery agony and leaving instead a biting cold that twisted at his struggling heart and threatened to smother his soul in oblivion. The last thing he was aware of before he sunk into the cold waters of nothingness's embrace was a seal on his right arm glowing an angry red and a single voice filled with distress echoing in his mind.
'It's weird,' He thought, staring at his right arm. 'To think I would only learn of their departure after lying alone in the hospital for a week.'
Indeed, it was only yesterday, his seventh day recovering from the rejection of the clan compound, that he had learned that both his mother and sister had left the village on 'Clan business' for an indeterminate amount of time. He had tried many times to distract himself from thoughts of their departure, but it was futile. In the end, his thoughts always made their way to them, the two suns that sat in the center of his universe.
They were gone now.
Either the suns had left or while orbiting them he had shot off into the darkness of space, lost from their comforting light- he didn't know what explanation he would prefer.
'Well, that explains why Naruko didn't come with me to the academy today. I should have found that odd considering how much she wants to be a shinobi.'
Trying once again to rid his mind of such thoughts, he resumed his staring, trying to decipher the markings on his arm despite not having been trained in seals. No, that's what Kaa-san's going to be going over with Naruko while they're gone.'
He let out a quick curse he had heard one of Kurenai's friends say as his mind was brought to them once more. It was slightly easier to distract himself with his next thought, but that did precious little to make himself feel better.
'Where is Kurenai-Nee anyway? Surely she'd have come to check on me at the very least, and I'd have expected my mother to leave me in her care if she knew she was leaving for what may prove to be several years.' A deep sigh was let out. 'Even if she was assigned to watch me, I'm not sure she'd be happy about it. She's not all that fond of Naruko, but she doesn't really try to hide it when it comes to me.'
It wasn't hard to see that she hated him, and he really couldn't blame her. The red-eyed woman saw his mother as her own, and with the birth of him and his twin she had lost most of Kushina's attention. She disliked them for that, but made an effort to be polite with his sister, whom she hoped to mold into her own sister- or perhaps even daughter. You really couldn't tell with that woman. It didn't help his case that not only did he have the facial features of his father- her own father figure- but he was, like his father, male. Kurenai had always had trouble with men, never feling sfae or comfortable in their presence, and to her he was no different, despite resembling his father to such a degree.
She had only ever felt comfortable with Minato, and it probably wouldn't be to far off to assume she had harbored feelings for the older man. In fact, the fact that he reminded her of the love interest she lost wouldn't give him any points in her book either. Hell, with his absolute lack of Uzumaki Luck, he wouldn't be surprised if she felt his very existence was mocking her, taking from her everything she held precious in her life.
In that case, maybe it was better if they didn't interact, especially with his mother and sister gone. She really only ever tried for their sakes, without them their interactions could quickly sour. So, for both of their sakes, and the sakes of Naruko and Kushina, mutual avoidance should prove the best course of action.
Using his left hand, he gently massaged the bridge of his nose. Thoughts like this were getting him nowhere. His arm captured his attention again, drawing a frown. The seal itself, evidently, had already been there, rather than being a result of the compound's gate. However, the gate had made it visible. It probably would have appeared had he ever focused on it, but he had been completely unaware of its existence. Channeling large amounts of chakra was almost guaranteed to reveal the presence of a seal, even those that sealed chakra. He had never actually tried channeling large amounts of chakra to his arms for any reason, so it was understandable that he hadn't come to know of it that way.
The two questions left, then, were 'what was it' and 'who knew of it'? The acting Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen, had seemed surprised by it, saying it resembled something he had seen before and then proceeded to excuse himself, no doubt to try to figure out what it was that had appeared upon his flesh. At this point, all they knew was that it was somehow connected to the Shinigami's curse mark, which was on the left side of his chest.
Considering that fact, it was likely related to the sealing of the Kyuubi no Kitsune, which currently resided within the Eight Trigram Seal on his sister's abdomen. Known to most within the village, his sister served as the cage for the mighty Biju. Known to far fewer, he was the warden. The seal on his sister was not so much a seal as it was a pocket dimension anchored to this world by her chakra system, keeping the Kyuubi somewhere they could watch over it. It was the curse mark on his chest that was the seal in this case, keeping the giant fox within that dimension using the power of the Shinigami who had branded him with its touch.
But this new seal was somehow connected to it, and he wasn't' sure why. His first thought had been that it was the key to the Eight Trigram Seal, but it was known to those fully informed about the sealing that Minato had trusted that to the toad summons of Myōbokuzan. So with that option gone, his second guess had been that it would allow him to siphon some of the Kyuubi's chakra into himself. This would allow him to have a boost in combat, store extra energy for emergencies, or perhaps absorb any chakra his sister began leaking. It was a logical conclusion, especially considering that two days after the accident his healing had rapidly accelerated due to traces of the Kyuubi's chakra supercharging his Uzumaki healing. But even that felt off.
The chakra, for one, did not seem to be originating from this new seal, but rather from the Shinigami's curse mark itself. There was also a…calling….he felt, deep within him, a whispering voice he couldn't fully make out. But he did know that while it wasn't coming from the seal, his seal seamed to react to it. Come to think of it, the voice came from the curse mark, just like the Kyuubi's chakra; could it have been the Kyuubi reaching out to its warden for some reason? It would have to be looked into sometime in the near future. Of course, that begged one final question;
Was this new seal reacting to the Biju, or the seal on his sister?
Or, more importantly-
Released from the care of the hospital, Naruto was at a loss as to what to do next. Now, with no friends, no family, ¥2,000, and the clothes that survived his encounter with the clan compound- which amounted to his underwear and pants with only minor rips on the bottom, he was suddenly homeless, hungry, and alone.
He should go to the academy for the rest of the afternoon, but lacking clothes as he was he'd probably be sent back to a home he didn't have. He could try begging, but he was known as the child of Kushina, they'd probably assume he was just trying to get some spending money, so that wouldn't work. Besides, if he remembered anything his mother had ever told him it was that Uzumaki don't beg.
So he'd have to find some way to provide for himself with no skills, little experience doing any sort of work, and without the strength physical labor. Perhaps honest work wasn't an option in this case.
'No, I'm better than that.' He thought, shaking his head, but a small part of him spoke otherwise. 'You're going to be a ninja.' It said. 'You might as well get used to dishonest work.'
'That's just my hunger talking.' Naruto assured himself. He'd figure something out for the short term, and when that was taken care of he'd look towards a long term solution.
Everything would be just fine.
Too soon, perhaps, he had previously spoken. Now, cloaked in a rough brown piece of fabric with a makeshift scarf hiding his face, he searched for a target. 'I could go directly from the source, take what I need.' Mused the redhead. 'Or, I could acquire the means to obtain it elsewhere, reducing the chances of being found out.'
He sighed. 'I can't believe I only managed two days before being reduced to this.' He thought in disgust. Shaking off his self-loathing, he continued to contemplate targets. Hidden as he was, it was unlikely that he would be spotted before he made his move. The shadow of a building covered him as he crouch atop a low roof. More rooms extended above him, meaning passing shinobi would cross right over him, and the roof extended far enough out onto the main road of the Konoha marketplace that people would be hard pressed to make him out so long as they didn't know his location.
'A shinobi would have plenty of money on them, but chances of me obtaining it and getting away are slim to none. Civilians don't carry much due to the ninja, keeping it safe within banks until required, so I need to find someone who just withdrew from the bank, or someone arrogant enough to think themselves safe.'
Two and a half hours passed before he spotted a potential mark. The man was not small, a walking mountain of muscle, and he carried himself with confidence. Tattoos covered almost every inch of his visible skin and he seemed quite pleased with himself. A quick glance to the building he had left revealed a bar. 'Drinking? This early? No, not just drinking, must have been gambling in the back.'
Because Shinobi liked to operate at night, those of ill repute tended to handle their vices during the day. Seeing as it was just before noon, this man was probably finished for the day and ready to enjoy his winnings for the next couple hours before retreating to his den for the night.
Having made up his mind, he carefully stalked his chosen target, careful to stay between the rooftop world of returning shinobi and the occasional guard and the civilian crowds below. He was far too suspicious for either.
'The red light district, I'm not surprised.' Despite the early time of day, the red light district was roaring with activity as the more seedy citizens conducted less than savory business. Seedy citizens like the one he was following and – considering what he was and was going to be doing- he probably fit into that category now too. Fucking fantastic.
His mark approached one of the many provocative women on the street, no doubt looking to enjoy his winnings to the fullest. The woman took a single glance at the amount the man had in his bag before latching onto his arm, more than happy to relieve him of it. This made it a bit harder but at the same time, his target's guard had dropped substantially. He was going to be a shinobi- he could work with this.
After all, it was just a civilian and a soiled dove-
What could go wrong?
One kunai- an old one at that- was all he had to work with. It would have to suffice. He'd attempt to cut away the bag first, but if that didn't work, he'd stab him and bolt. Hopefully the pain would loosen the man's grip. With a silent prayer to lady luck for good fortune and another to death in hopes of being just as swift and silent, Naruto steeled his nerves and dropped down not two feet from the man as the pair made their way through an alley to a rundown motel located off the main road.
The man proved more aware than he seemed, spinning to face the cloaked brat that had suddenly appeared. Consequently, the bag under his arm was now much more accessible. Lunging for it, Naruto attempted for the straps that had been looped over the man's left shoulder. The man had other plans and the boot Naruto took to the face made it well known.
"Che, damn brat, think you can get the drop on me, huh? I'll teach yas a thing or two!" The man shouted as he moved towards the recovering child. Naruto regained his senses quickly, but evidently it wasn't fast enough. He received a solid fist to his gut for his effort.
'Shit, this is not going to end well.' Grabbing onto the man's arm with one hand, he thanked the gods he had managed to keep a firm grip on his kunai. His first swipe went for the arm, which was ripped back violently, and while the man held his new cut and spewed a string of venomous curses Naruto kept going, lodging his blade within the man's gut.
Unfortunately, it would not be that easy. With a mighty roar, the muscled mountain charged, knocking Naruto into the wall. While it had held thus far, that was the last his disguise could take as his scarf pooled at his feet and his hood was jostled off his head of red hair.
"Huh? The Uzumaki brat? What, did your whore of a mother not give you enough pocket money today, boy?" Asked the giant before spitting at the boy's feet. "Well, it doesn't matter now. You choose poorly when you made me your mark, and you lost any chance of escaping with a good beating and a lesson learned when you lodged this-" He pulled out the kunai and tossed it at Naruto, hitting him in his left shoulder. "In me. Say your prayers, fool, this is your end."
He reached down and plucked him up by the neck, grabbing for the kunai to finish the job. He was ill prepared for the small foot that made contact with his manhood. He dropped the boy with a howl, temporarily falling to his knees, but it was enough time for Naruto to get into a favorable position. With adrenaline pumping through his veins and his life on the line, he didn't hesitate when a voice shouted "End him!"
His foot moved in a flash, kicking his scarf back up to him and the boy wasted no time twisting behind and wrapping it around the man's neck, pulling tight. While the man struggled to breathe, the shinobi to be prepared to take his first kill. The kunai came out easily enough, dripping blood all over the ground, but he ignored the throbbing pain the removal brought him and instead helped the kunai further stain the ground.
With one quick move the kunai was plunged through the scarf and into the soft flesh of the man's neck. He died, unable to utter a sound, and a mentally exhausted Naruto momentarily collapsed onto his knees on the back of the corpse. His momentary respite was interrupted by a chocked, panicked sobbing. He let his eyes wander for the source, half on guard and half ready to fall asleep where he kneeled. Considering he was atop a corpse, that was a less than desirable course of action, but he really couldn't find it within him to care.
'Oh, yeah, forgot about her.' The lady of the night- or, rather, in this case, the lady of the late morning, was backed against a wall, tears streaming down her face as she stared at him in fear. Giving a weary sigh, he pulled himself up and picked up his spoils. 'Is this really all that blood is worth?.' He wanted to feel bad about what he had just done, but he really couldn't find it within him. 'This world really is kill or be killed' He mused, turning away from the woman and starting down the alleyway. 'I need this money, unfortunately, he was in the way.'
'She needed that money too.' Another part of him reminded him. He paused. Frowning, he looked over his shoulder at the terrified woman. She wasn't gorgeous, especially with the tears streaming down her cheeks and mud covering the clothes she had ripped when she had fallen, but she held a rather plain attractiveness that the eight year old really couldn't deny.
She had blonde hair cut short, probably to make it easier for her to maintain, and vibrant emerald eyes. Judging by the hair color alone, she was probably from the Yamanaka clan. There weren't many within the clans that weren't shinobi, but every so often one would be born that didn't have the desire or aptitude for it. They usually weren't well received by even their own families. It was most likely why this one was working as a prostitute.
Her figure was average, with B-cup breasts and a narrow waist that widened only slightly at her hips. Light skin was fairly clean, or would have been had she not fallen on the muddy ground. She wasn't anything special, but she was certainly good looking enough to distract a man from his worldly woes when in her company.
There was something about her that called to him. He wasn't sure if it was the tears, or the fear her eyes showed. Maybe it was how she was trembling in the mud and grime, but his young heart couldn't help but reach out to her. He saw no reason he shouldn't do the same. Turning back to her he walked until he was standing next to her, gazing down at her trembling form. Kneeling down beside her, he reached into his bag and withdrew what was easily a good ¥90,000.
"Here," He urged. "It's only fair you get a cut, seeing as I killed your client." Now that she knew he meant her no harm, confidence seemed to rush back into her. There was little doubt that she was of Yamanaka blood now.
"What's fair, little one, would be if you replaced my client. I'm not a charity case, you know. I don't accept anything I don't work for." Her voice was surprisingly soft and melodic, but carried an almost haughty tone that momentarily caught him off guard. Regaining his composure he responded as best he could.
Both having agreed to save the conversation for elsewhere, he had given her his makeshift cloak to wipe off as mush mud as she could before throwing it back on, determined to keep his identity hidden. Likewise, the bloodied scarf was once more wrapped around his face, filling his nose with the tang of copper. He ignored it, and instead followed behind the blonde prostitute as she led him to a quaint little restraint that was located off the main road, allowing for a small semblance of privacy as they took a shaded seat at a table in its outside dining area.
Ordering, the two sipped their tea- though Naruto had a bit of trouble when it came to that- and waited in a comfortable silence for the meals to arrive, the bustling of Konoha's nearby market district leaving a pleasant hum in the early afternoon air.
After their meals had been served and eaten the postponed discussion resumed. "As I was saying earlier," Started Naruto. "It's only fair that you get some of the money I stole from your client. By all rights, it was to be yours soon enough."
"And like I said, little shinobi, I didn't actually get a chance to earn that money. If you want me to have it, hire me. Even as young as you are, I know a few ways for us to have a bit of fun." He gave her an odd look in response, prompting another laugh from the woman.
"Look-"He paused, waiting for her name, which she supplied easily enough. "Tatsuki, formerly Yamanaka Tatsuki."
Naruto continued. "Look, Tatsuki-san, we both know you would have earned it and, as you mentioned, I took away your chance to earn it. Consider this your rightful compensation."
"You talk pretty words boy, surprising for someone who claims to be eight," She grinned "But I'm not backing down. If you are so determined to give me a cut, prove it to me, hire me for the day and we can both go our separate ways, satisfied."
He shook his head. "I'm not doing that Tatsuki-san, not now, so, instead, how about we cut a little deal?" Her interest was piqued as she leaned in close, managing to cross most of the small table so that her face was uncomfortably close to his own. Despite having been covered in mud not an hour earlier, she smelled really good.
"What kind of a deal are we talking?"
"Advanced payment." Answered the redhead. "I give you your rightful cut now, and give you a bit more for a reservation. When I'm a bit older, I'll seek you out to claim your services."
Letting a thoughtful frown cross her face, she leaned back and folded her arms under her bust. After a moment she gave him a sultry smirk. "Alright, Kid, I like your style. You've got yourself a deal."
He gave a relieved sigh and withdrew the original ¥90,000 he had been planning to give her before throwing an extra ¥10,000. "Will this be sufficient?" was his inquiry.
Her grin only grew as she quickly counted it for herself. "¥100,000 and I get to do a boy as cute as yourself? I feel like I'm getting the better end of the bargain for the first time in a while."
"Then we have an accord, shall we shake on it?" Something within him felt odd, though not entirely unpleasant, as she gave him a hungry look. She shook her head and gave a laugh that had his heart racing for reasons he couldn't comprehend.
"No, love, I've got a better way to seal our deal." Walking around the table, she pinned down his shoulders and leaned in to capture his lips with her own. After a few moments she pushed further, invading his mouth with her tongue. Pulling back, she kissed his forehead and turned to leave, a breathless Naruto still trying to comprehend what had just happened.
"See you around, Naruto-kun, and remember, you get that-" she briefly gestured to her body before continuing. "And so much more when you come find me. Don't keep a girl waiting too long." She gave a last wink before strutting off. He couldn't help but follow the extra sway she put in her hips.
'Damn…' He quickly scowled when he realized she knew his name. 'Must have heard that guy call me Uzumaki. Here I was hoping to keep that a secret, now that she knows my name I probably won't be able to get away with never claiming that night I've reserved. I have a feeling she'd hunt me down and demand I provide the work I've paid her for. Her pride would demand no less.'
Despite his irritation, he couldn't help but think the last of that fondly. She'd earned a spot on the list of people he liked, he'd enjoy spending time with her as a friend for certain. Of course, she'd never let them be friends until after he had slept with her.
'Hmph, that would be an odd beginning to a friendship, I'm sure. Then again, if getting her as a friend is the result of a night with her," He gave a grin to the space he had last seen her occupy. 'The thought of getting what I paid for doesn't seem too bad.
The idea of spending a night with the woman didn't feel uncomfortable any longer, but his pants certainly did.