A number of you always ask me what do the characters look like or who do they take after in terms of appearance. Even I had thought about it in terms of plot line. So I propose this. The teen titans are just that; teens. But since I needed an "animated reference" for a model representation, picture their age regressions from the Judas Contract. Yes?
° Other than Nightwing (the Judas Contract), who the Robin in my current story will be modeled into down the line, the rest of the Titans' appearance will be that in the movie.
• Terra will retain her long blonde hair because I have a personal like of long hair and she will be the second youngest Titan other than Beast Boy.
• As for Garfield, the green teen will retain his appearance as in the animated movies but his outfit's color scheme is switched to the green/purple colors of the Cartoon Network version of him. Reason being, I think he looks like a Christmas Tree every time he makes a cameo in a scene.
• Raven already has a paler than usual complexion compared to other fair-skinned characters. It's a given "gray" or "ashen" skin tone. Because of the cartoon version, even though her age was fairly early- mid- in her appearance, I had decided on the DC-animated figurine she's given. It has a more mature feel to it despite only being 14-years-old and it's more simple to imagine clothing for. Yes, while she is made to be a 14 year old, I have already set the path for her to be a year and some months older. The progression in my story is fairly accurate and while I hadn't explicitly stated it, just over a year had passed since Naruto had been introduced to the team. I'm trying my best to update often, but you can see it for yourself.
This body style when fighting seems to be more elegant in stature compare to the "brick-movement" style used in common kid's cartoons.
• Cyborg is a difficult one. His design in the DC universe is ideal in my opinion, however, I'd appreciate if his body showed more human aesthetic like the cartoon network version. In one of the Teen Titans episodes, the cybernetic teen came to the conclusion that he had to accept all of himself; both Cyborg and Human. And I enjoyed that immensely.
So picture this version of Cyborg with his height diminished slightly by a few inches. His robotic components are the same, not as bulky as the Cartoon Network version, yet his elbows, part of his neck, mouth and majority of his throat, along with the right side of his face are still human.
• Starfire was also another difficult person to picture. I tried imagining combining her looks from the cartoon to the animated visual of 'Justice League vs. Teen Titans' but the outcome didn't sit well with me. Even with the Photoshop/Illustrator rendering, my efforts didn't please me. So this visual very much upset me.
I'm pretty sure that every time I've posted a chapter, I've always had a lot to say in either the beginning or in the ending A/N. And I do, I have a lot to say regarding my absence and this story. But forget all of that for now. I'm sure you want to get to the chapter and be done with it. Just be sure to read the ending statement from me afterwards. It's pretty pointless to say anything at the moment…
Disclaimer: First Chapter
Chapter 8: The Trio
「Titan's Tower - Friday」
It had been some weeks since the Titans had seen or heard from their most secretive friend, Naruto. After some heated arguments and the usual bickering from time to time, the anger and resentment that had befallen the Titans had settled somewhat. There were still unresolved issues between Raven and Robin, however, both parties decided to leave it for a later date. On another note, the media had stopped spouting headliners and immediate news when it came to the newly formed couple of Raven and Naruto. While the general population still pestered the group of superpowered teens for interviews and took photos of them, the residents of Jump City generally left the group of six alone. It appeared that with such news, it came and went like many trends and fads over a period of time.
Humming a jovial tune internally, one of the youngest Titans sauntered around the hallways of his home without a care in the world. The day was going by fairly smoothly. No recent reports of any criminal activity, he had a simple breakfast of fruits and vegetables accompanied by his close friend Terra, and now he was on his way to the large training facility that was held near the foundation of the Tower. Suddenly, the young shapeshifter was knocked over and fell on his ass. Rubbing his head, he looked up to see another of his good friends floating in his direct path while hauling her belongings. Staring wide-eyed for a few moments, he watched as the ruby haired warrior traveled back and forth from her room to pile various objects in the spacious passage. Before long sounds of heavy lifting and the absence of two members alerted the rest of the Titans, who then decided to watch from the sidelines as to what their strange friend was up to.
Each of the newly arrived friends looked towards Beast Boy, silently asking what was up. He kept turning his head this way and that trying to determine a reason for himself. Huffing in annoyance, Terra rolled her eyes in defiance of her friend. Why did he have to be such an idiot at times? Shrugging his shoulders, none of the multicolored teens could discern why their more eccentric teammate looked to be packing away her stuff. Once more, Starfire passed the worried group of friends. Seeing as none would speak up, Cyborg nudged Robin and they shared a contemplative look. "Uh… Starfire?" He wasn't met with any form of words nor explainable action as to why the girl was moving her things, but she did acknowledge his questioning tone with a vocalized grunt.
Picking up where the bionic man had left off, BB asked the underlying question they all sought an answer for, "Going somewhere?" As soon as he finished, the rest of them raised an eyebrow at the simple phrase of words. Terra had a different reaction to his question; instead of brushing off his idiocy, she punched him in the arm. Shrieking in surprise, Beast Boy rubbed the sore spot while trying to gain sympathy from the others. Regardless of how Terra treated her close friend, the three older Titans dismissed the situation as a regular occurrence. Nevertheless, the Tamaranean Titan answered while still mindlessly packing, "I am leaving for Tamaran."
Having been fed up with all the side questions without actually getting a concrete answer, Raven spoke up while asking the most important question of all though she already had some sort of clue. "And you're taking all of your stuff with you because…?"
Finally halting her movements, Starfire faced away from her friends and pseudo-family. She couldn't bear to show them the sadness that had taken hold of her. Closing her eyes, she mustered up as much confidence as she could while explaining her actions to everyone. "I am not ever coming back," she finished with a small smile whilst furrowing her brows. At this point, the Titans state of shock was just the beginning. A depressive air had fallen on each of their shoulders. Robin especially looked as if he had lost another person he held dearly. "Starfire," began the serious and somewhat still immature leader, "what's wrong?"
Touched by her friends compassion and worry, Star felt to reveal what caused her so much distress. "Nothing is wrong. I am…" she paused for a moment trying to find the right words to describe her situation, "getting married."
Despite relaying to her comrades what she had been putting off for the past couple of minutes, none of the five teens were satisfied with the abrupt answer, especially with the notion of her getting married. Robin seemed disturbed by the revelation the most, as he fainted on the spot while his team could only gape at the alien teen.
「Universe - Space」
Not too long after the big reveal, the founding Titans all decided to accompany Starfire in returning to her home planet of Tamaran. It was a split second decision made by Robin, who was clearly still in shock by the entire ordeal. Raven briefly told Terra to watch over everything and to call Naruto if any sort of emergency happened. Though the couple weren't on speaking terms as of late, the leotard wearing Titan knew he wouldn't turn someone down if they truly needed help. Terra was a prime example of that.
Piling into the T-Ship with little to no preparation, the four witnesses to the upcoming ceremony could hardly make conversation. Except maybe Robin who was majorly in denial. "You're getting married?" The usually calm and composed visage was replaced by an unfocused and somewhat dejected look.
"Yes indeed!" exclaimed Star. "And I cannot wait to see Tamaran. I had been having a bit of the sick home feeling lately and have been eager to introduce my home planet to you, my friends!" While she narrated her intentions and future endeavors, her face went through varying emotions. From happiness to sadness and then returning back to a form of appreciation. Even with the news of getting married, Starfire was very joyous in wanting to share her culture. Ever since she had appeared on Earth, the girl had gone through many tribulations and had new experiences. Now, she had the privilege and opportunity having the reverse happen. Only the reason for returning to her home planet wasn't for a vacation.
"First I'll have you try the fresh, squeezed Glorg. Or perhaps Sputflakes. And wait until you see the Portkins; they are as big as a Flornot!" With a childlike glee, Starfire began describing all the activities on her native world. From delicacies to sport like themes. Or so the team assumed…
The only one who appeared more concerned than worried was Beast Boy. "Um, Am I the only one afraid of the big Portkins?" mentioned the youngest member. However, he wasn't able to further voice his apprehension due to the invasiveness of Robin.
"You're getting married!?" This redundant question was used with a bit more force and irritation. However, only Raven and Cyborg knew why that was so. Raven couldn't help but take over the conversation while their leader stewed in his own self pity. "Yeah… Uhh. Anyone we know?" She rolled her eyes as the Boy Wonder readied himself to maim the head of Star's future groom.
Speaking of the girl, she began to blush while twiddling her thumbs at the mention of her future husband. "Oh, I have never met him. My betrothed has been chosen for me by the Grand Ruler of Tamaran." She suddenly went into a daydream-state of imagining a very handsome male with long flowing hair and a chiseled body. His emerald green eyes staring at her as a smirk lifted at the corner of his lips. Squealing in anticipation, Starfire remembered where she was. Only to be startled by her best friend, who somehow forced himself out of the spaceship and latched onto the glass screen of her section of the vehicle.
"You're getting married?!" Raven harshly palmed her face and Cyborg merely shook his head. While they too were surprised by the news, they clearly had a better understanding of the girl and hiding the surprise that was to be shown. Meanwhile, Beast Boy looked disturbed at the previous mention of whatever his teammate described. "…And to someone you've never met!?" Frowning at this condition, Robin wanted to express his displeasure. However, before the overzealous teen could continue, his abrupt choking forced himself to maneuver back to his area of the T-Ship; where he could rant and breathe comfortably.
Starfire understood her friend's frustrations. From what she knew of relationships and the like on Earth, others got to pick and choose their destined mate. All it took was the combined effort of both parties to keep the relationship alive. "Of course Robin. It is the way of my people," she chided gently. While not agreeable to others, she knew of her destiny. Though unknown to her teammates, she also was nervous. She had a new and separate life on the green planet. And with it, different people she grew to care about.
Pouting at the tone she used to reprimand him with, Robin almost continued with the argument but was interrupted when they were attacked by unknown spacecraft. "I don't suppose this is a crazy Tamaranean welcoming committee," growled Cyborg. Looking to his left, he saw the noticeable shake of the alien girl's head. He was the main pilot of the T-Ship and got angrier as foreign entities damaged his prized ship. Narrowing his lone eye, he further enhanced the shields of the entirety. Bracing herself as more crimson coloured attacks hit their ship, Raven voiced that there were about a dozen enemies altogether. Knowing that there was no clear way to deal with them all, Robin devised a split and let each member take a share of the threat.
「Tamaran - Outskirts」
Following the short dogfight, the Titans gathered once more. Each had a rough time with their share of adversaries. The ship, while still separated, sported many damaged areas that would need time to repair. "Who were those guys… and why the sudden attack?" muttered the spiky haired teen, though it was audible enough to be heard on the shared headset connection.
"More importantly, where are we?" said BB. There were a group of large orbs floating in the endless void of space around them. Among them, the largest had streaks of maroon traveling through the white exterior. The group could only assume it was a type of river from how they ran. The shapeshifter hoped they were close to landing as the rough journey had fatigued him. Smiling at recognizing the area, Starfire announced their arrival to her home planet.
Landing was a simple affair, it was trying not to further destroy anything that was the most challenging part. Their only link to the people of this planet pointed in the direction where they could descend. It was an area they assumed were for aircraft. Jumping out of the space vehicle, a majority of the team ventured a short distance from the ship to view the foreign land. Although, the only one concerned about their now trashed ship sobbed in part for his ruined toy.
"Is it not the most beautiful place your eyes have ever observed!" squealed Starfire.
"Uhhh… sure," not wanting to spoil her friend's good mood, Raven reluctantly agreed. Though in retrospect, other than the group of mountains in the far distance, the planet was pretty much as wasteland. The people of this world must have gathered and banded together as a whole to merely survive.
Starfire led the way on the strip of walkway that was attached to the rest of the castle-like structure. Not even three-fourths of the way there, the only visible door parted from the bottom up. It slowly revealed five shadowed figures. Four had the appearances of guards; a pair who flanked each side of the last silhouette. The final person, if you could even call it that, towered over the rest. He was easily about three or four times Cyborg's height and width. The figure was literally a giant of a man. The Titans couldn't immediately see his face, for it was shadowed by the overbearing lights in the background. Only his glowing emerald eye, probably signature to Tamaraneans, showed any distinct feature. Stepping forward, the man looked down at the intruders of his planet.
None of the Titans knew how to react. 'What the hell did we walk into?' grumbled Cyborg. He was fairly confident in his strength and abilities; not much could frighten or even cause him to back down due to his upbringing. Yet when even he is mistaken for a child against another person's stature… it really brings things into perspective. Behind him, he barely heard Raven curse as the giant neared their location. Just in front of him, he noticed Beast Boy shake in fear while Robin seemed to show no outward reaction.
Starfire clenched her hands while lighting her hands with glowing ultraviolet radiation. In her fists were starbolts ready to be fired at her whim. The Tamaran native was awaiting any form of hostile situation. Levitating upwards, she met the titanic man face to face.
"NOUBAHGASTIC ARYUNDAS AHL!" The gigantic Tamaranean declared something to the much smaller Starfire. It was nothing anyone but her and the guards around them could understand, but whatever it was couldn't be friendly. After his piece was said, he beat his large right fist on the left side of his massive chest. Starfire's eyes glowed the same shade of her starbolts and got close to her adversary. "Hesbah rosa Galfore kahnt-" the girl couldn't finish whatever she planned on saying as the giant growled and reached forward menacingly. Surprised at his action, Starfire shrieked and stepped backward. Believing its an attack, Robin shouted his signature battle call until Star's shrieks turned into laughter. Thus confusing the rest of the Titans. Watching from the sidelines, each Titan didn't know how to react as the giant treated Starfire as a father would his daughter who hadn't returned from a long absence.
Rubbing his head, Cyborg soothed the rest of his friends. "Uh, unless they tickle people to death here… I think we can chill."
Another round of laughter followed until the giggling girl lost her balance and curled on herself on the ground. Seeing a hand offered to her by the large man, Star reached out and took it to regain her standing position. Recovering from her spur on the moment laughter, the alien teen introduced the unknown man. "Friends, I wish you to meet my K'norfka. Galfore," she gestured to the man immediately behind her. He rested his enormous hand on the right side of her body. Seeing the close gesture between the two surprised the Titans; it also showed how large the man in front of them really was. Just his fingers alone took up a third of Starfire's body.
'I'm so happy we didn't fight him…' sweat dropped Beast Boy. He knew they'd be crushed, literally.
'We would have been destroyed,' thought Raven, mentally agreeing with her teammate.
Continuing her introduction, Starfire let her happiness show. "He raised me from the time I was very small. I am happy to see him again!"
Thinking he also can poke fun with the giant of a man, Beast Boy commented, "You mean this dude's your nanny?" Snickering at the implications and imagining him in something similar to maid's clothing, the green skinned boy didn't notice the others abandon his side. They didn't want to incur the wrath of someone who had similar or even greater strength than Starfire. Really… who was that stupid?
"You find that amusing, little one?!" Flaring his nostrils, the now named Galfore exuded his oppressive aura onto the young teen. Beast Boy barely registered where he was; all he managed was a squeak of fear. His ears drooped and his jaw unhinged as he came face to face with a superior predator on the food chain. Now cowed with obedience, Galfore backed off the boy and returned to his charge's side.
The pleasantries of introduction and such now ended, Galfore foreshadowed a large change since Starfire had departed from her world. Not liking the sorrowful face her caretaker had worn, the young maiden cradled his face to hers. "I have missed you, Galfore," she trailed off.
"And I you," the large nanny knelt down as he lowered his head in respect, "…Princess Starfire." Around him, the guards also lowered themselves, acknowledging the presence of royalty. Facing her team, she watched their reactions as they questioned her lineage. Blushing at not mentioning anything of herself nor of her family sooner, Starfire shyly revealed her position of power. While not the immediate person to take over the throne, she was still considered important to her people. A princess. Royalty. More important that any of the Titans ever considered. Chuckling uneasily, she mumbled some sort of reply, "…perhaps I forgot to mention?" Grabbing her supposed uncle and the rest of the guards, the hidden Princess dragged them along into the castle hoping to escape the awkward situation.
Robin turned his attention to the ground. 'First it was getting married, then it's her being a Princess… what else don't I know about her?'
Seeing their teammate beat himself up about all the unknowns surrounding their otherworldly member, they looked on in sympathy. Placing a hand on his shoulder, Cyborg questioned, "Did you know bout this?"
Exhaling his frustration, Robin pushed the matter to the side, "Just go." Following after Starfire had been a quiet couple of moments. Each had a number of things occupying their minds.
「Tamaran - Royal Palace」
After entering the large doorway, they came onto a foyer-like passageway. Columns lined each of the walls in an equidistant manner; four bear-like monsters sat chained to the columns in a protective system. They had round heads, four powerful legs that had hooves on each end, crimson eyes and teeth that protruded from its lower jaw. Even though the menacing creatures looked dangerous, they patiently sat in their designated area awaiting any order to maim or maul their prey. Unknown to the Titans, this was the fearsome Glorg that Starfire had told them about on multiple occasions. Like a child wanting to assert its dominance over tamed animals, Beast Boy pointed his finger at the closes animal. "Hey-," Unknown to him, the animal stood from its previous seated position, "-alien animals. Cool!"
Roaring at the offending green humanoid figure, the animal opened its maw and snapped at the shortest Titan. Escaping a near death, Beast Boy scampered around like a headless chicken as the others rolled their eyes at his antics. Fed up with his idiocy, Raven pulled him to her side by the collar and smacked him. "You're the alien here."
Sneaking by a pair of guards that separated him and Starfire, Robin reached out to get a word in towards his love interest, "Look Starfire, about this…-"
Her attention was on him when a roar of defiance grabbed everyone's attention. Galfore used his large body to force apart the two teens. All the guards surrounded their Princess while pointing their mace-like polearms at her offending perpetrators body. "It is forbidden for outworlders to touch the Princess," ground out Galfore in an authoritative voice. Gone was the doting caretaker, in his stead was the protective head guard of Tamaran. Over his shoulder, Starfire scrunched her eyebrows and asked for them to spare her friend. Frowning at how distant the gap seemed to have grown, the team of four watched as their friend was whisked away to another part of her home.
Now in the chambers of the Royal Palace, the group were welcomed by other Tamaraneans. These people were obviously the elders of the land, yet the welcomed them with cheerfulness and open arms. The polite greeting and warm reception was most likely due to them returning their precious Princess home.
「Royal Palace - Dining Area」
Seated at a large dining table, the Titans and now-announced Princess watched as they were catered to by the native people. Placed before them were overly large goblets holding a type of celebratory drink, most likely wine or a type of alcohol. There weren't sure about the drink, but since their teammate wasn't concerned about it, they assumed it was safe for non aliens to consume. Grasping the base of his drink, Galfore hefted the cup into the air signaling a commemorative toast. "To our beautiful Princess and her new husband!" Starfire looked towards her friends and lifted her own drink while putting in her own choice of words, "And to my good friends! I am delighted you could be here to celebrate my wedding."
Robin paid no heed to the gesture, barely managing to move his chalice. Raven didn't even try pushing her body to try and move the cup. Instead, she focused her powers and concentrated in moving the goblet, yet the affronted object didn't even budge. To her left, Cyborg used every ounce of his natural and cybernetic enhanced strength, but to no avail. Lastly, Beast Boy transformed into many animals possessing a lot of brawn and toughness that rivaled many opponents, but gave up due to the extreme fatigue and stress. Amused at watching her friends struggle, Starfire withheld a giggle. She touched the rim of her copper cup to Robin's as the cheer of her people rang in the hall.
"We're… really going to miss you," drawled Robin, expressing his and the rest of his team's thoughts. Though she was happy to share her culture and bring her friends to experience her home planet, there was an unshakable sense of sadness. But she couldn't find time to say anything because plates of food were being carried in. Not bothering to hid behind a smile any longer, Starfire merely gestured to the food. "Please, eat."
The portions of food were like the drinks. Disturbingly large and almost all of it looked and had given the impression of being the flesh of an animal. Amidst the hungry natives, the Titans looked like children who finally joined the adult table. Everyone ate savagely and with no regards to social conduct. Despite being called fearless and peerless on Earth, the Boy Wonder flinched as he observed the way his best friend hacked away at the food served. Robin commented on the unorthodox way of eating, "I'm guessing you picked up your table manners on Earth?" To which he was scolded by the ravenous Princess.
Looking keenly at a bowl of what looked to be multicolored balls of something unrecognizable, Beast Boy squirmed as it seemed to jiggle and writhe in its container. "Hello-!" he drawled. "Vegetarian in the house!" Cyborg nudged the complaining youth in the ribs. Why couldn't he be more sensitive towards his friend's people? It wasn't difficult to see them having a hard time. "Just shut up and try something," whispered Cy. Grabbing a fistful of the strange glob, he shoved it into the face of his seat mate. "Does this look like a veggie to you?"
Shrugging while matching his voice to fit the action, the cybernetic human didn't care. He was down to try whatever food as long as it didn't kill him. Besides, he was hungry. Whatever they served would be okay with him. Rather than get offended by the strange food and be a bad guest by refusing to try it, he took the offered thing and inhaled it. Making sure to disgust the younger boy as much as possible, Cy thoroughly slobbered on his hand. Eyes wide in horror, the shapeshifting teen mumbled his loss of appetite.
Loud sirens alerted the diners of an oncoming presence. As a whole, the Tamaraneans discarded their consumption of food and drink in order to kneel to the ground. Every man and woman faced the still closed door as they awaited another possible member of royalty. The grand hall's doors slowly parted showing a slim figure overshadowed by the lights behind them. They had robes flowing from the nape of their neck, representing someone of great importance. Atop their head sported a crown with two points. This person was escorted by a four man guard; they approached the new arrivals with practiced grace. Even Starfire knelt to show her respect; her friends didn't immediately reciprocate the gesture. Nevertheless, when they realized their mistake, the four quickly rectified the mistake and bowed to the supposed ruler of Tamaran.
"All hail the Grand Ruler of Tamaran," voiced out Galfore. The people echoed his announcement. Continuing with his statement he declared, "The Empress…"
Starfire stole a glance, hoping to see her parent as she remembered them just before being taken prisoner. Rather than her mother or even father, like she expected, the person who now held supreme power over her planet was the last she ever imagined. Gasping from incredulity, the engaged Princess drew attention from her friends also. "Blackfire…?"
Placing a hand on her curvaceous hip, she sneered at the Teen Titans. "Surprised to see me, Sister Dear?"
The Empress of Tamaran rolled her obsidian eyes. Her expected reaction was spot on as her younger sibling would not be pleased to find out about her ascension to the crown. Nevertheless, Blackfire knew there wasn't a damn thing she could do about it, other than challenging her for the crown. However, she wouldn't do that. Not when she could order her people to take her friends as prisoners. "Today isn't about me, it's about who you'll be spending the rest of your life with. I'm sure you're eager to find out, right?"
Behind her, a male Tamaranean stood with his back to the audience. Long fiery-red hair cascaded just above his waistline. When he turned to face the spectators, Starfire adopted heart shaped eyes with a small bit of drool escaping her mouth. Her groom was almost as she dreamed of. A lock of hair hid the right half of his face, yet didn't draw away from his features. His torso was bare and perfectly sculpted, as if he trained a majority of his life and was primed for combat. On his right bicep, a silver armband was worn. Similarly, he wore gauntlets that reached his elbows on both forearms. Like Starfire, he wore thigh high boots. In place of a miniskirt, the unnamed groom wore black tights; attached to his waist was a silver belt with a maroon jewel in the center. Hanging from the belt, both in the front and rear, were curtains of purple.
This man was the definition of handsome.
Starfire obviously approved of what she was seeing because a radiant blush overtook her features. It was almost as bright as her crimson hair. Robin, on the other hand, watched on in disbelief. Tick marks adorned his temples and his jaw dropped.
This admiration was short lived because the beautiful man instead bowed and gestured to a fat, mountain of goo. It was seated on a hovering chair, which looked ready to collapse under its immense weight. The being had a grotesque, almost disturbing look. He's shown to be very repulsive to everyone; even to Galfore, who growled at him. When introduced as the real groom for her endeared sister by Blackfire, all the trunks on his body seemed to react; it released a horrendous sound similar to a dying seal. The worst part wasn't even that. This creature spewed green sludge that was both sticky and collected into clumps.
Seeing her hopes now dashed, Blackfire cackled at her younger sibling's horrified expression, "Starfire, meet your groom. Glurdlescletch." Crocodile tears poured from her eyes as her dream groom evaporated from sight. Even the beautiful man who she thought was her future husband seemed to be disgusted by cleaning all the sludge that managed to fall off the creature. A trunk-like appendage reached out to pat her on the head. The being appeared happy with his choice in bride.
The reactions of her team varied from 'what the actual fuck' to Robin's own vengeful frown. Since none were coherent enough to speak, Raven felt the need to break the silence. "Um… he's cute."
"My… groom?" Lost at the implications, the once very accepting bride now hurled accusations toward the Grand Ruler. Knowing her displeasure, Blackfire hid her baleful smile behind a mask of indifference. Watching the sisters debate back and forth about duty and the positions of power on Tamaran, the remaining four were visibly displeased at the mention of the ceremony being held at moonset. One more so than the rest. "Tonight?" he remarked, quirking an eyebrow in confusion. "Starfire, are you sure?"
Not bothering to hid behind a happy mask any longer, Star's shoulders sagged as she monotonously agreed to the wedding. It was her duty to her people. She would be the sacrifice to bring happiness and peace to her planet. The Tamaranean Princess resisted acting out against the Grand Ruler and allowed her sibling to take control of her short life. Once she was dismissed from the chamber, Starfire ignored the glances sent by her teammates as she was guided to her room.
「Royal Palace - Unknown Room」
"Help~!" screamed Beast Boy. It had been a number of hours since the last of the Titans had seen or heard from the Princess. As she was escorted away, they were also shown to another room. It wasn't completely unbearable, they were given more food and lodgings to sleep in if they so wished. Though the green youth had the most trouble during this entire trip, even going as far as being eaten by harmless looking furniture. The past couple of minutes had been of him nearly getting snatched up by a bizarre chair or toilet. It was safe to say he was freaking out due to the unfamiliarity of everything so far. "I can't tell what's a bed, what's a chair, or what's alive!" ranted BB. "How am I supposed to take my beauty nap…?" He cowered from all the experiences he's accumulated throughout the day into one.
Cyborg ignored his usual antics. The boy was more prone than the rest of them to get into trouble or get hurt, but he's always bounced back from most things so he left it alone. Instead the cyber human focused on the caped crusader who paced back and forth in their averaged sized room. "How can you even think about sleep?" He drove a fist into his other hand, "We can't let Starfire go through with this!"
"Come on man, you sure you're not, ya know… jealous?" BB nodded his head, agreeing with his best friend. Robin had been the only one against the entire wedding, while the others tried supporting Starfire in her future relationship.
"Of that ugly, smelly, whatever it is?" Robin had trouble describing the glob of disgusting mum that his friend was subjected to being its future wife. "You saw her face Cyborg. She doesn't even like him!" At this, Raven stepped up to share her thoughts which had been brewing ever since Robin had decided to "rescue" the bubbly Princess from her fate. Although she was also against this farce, initially she was all for it until they found out the truth. The usually aloof girl had tried being happy for her friend. Even if the girl herself couldn't find happiness, she was willing to let her duty to her people overshadow her selfish gain. "True. But maybe she doesn't need to. Things are different here. Who are we to question the culture?"
"Blackfire arranged the whole thing. How do we know if any of this is even real?" argued the Boy Wonder.
"Am I supposed to believe you're doing this all for Starfire's sake? Not just because you hate that she's going away with someone else… someone that isn't you?" reasoned Raven. Frustrated by the accusations, Robin took his anger out on his teammate. "What are you talking about? Do you hear yourself?"
Raven stood her ground and retorted, "I do. Don't you see that you're trying to force yourself into something that isn't even your business? Starfire and her customs. Mine and Naruto's relationship…"
Clicking his teeth in annoyance, Robin let the matter go. "There are more pressing matters to deal with. Cyborg and Beast Boy, check out the Drenthax fleet. Raven," he frowned at the defiance shown on her face. "See what you can learn about this… thing she's marrying." Grinding her teeth together, the violet haired girl almost blurted something until a hand rested on her shoulder. Looking up, Cyborg gave her a knowing stare. "And you?" added his second-in-command. While he knew there was still unsettled tension between the team members from earlier, the oldest of them knew the time and place to resolve conflict. Where they currently resided were neither of the two.
Turning his head away, Robin acted out of character, "I need to see Starfire." Turning on his heel, he quickly excused himself. Once Robin was no longer in sight, Raven surrounded herself in a dome of black energy and let it sink in on itself.
"Man, this is gonna suck going back home," grumbled Cy.
"You said it," agreed BB.
「Tamaran - Outskirts」
Both teens found that sneaking onto one of the Drenthax's ship was a piece of cake. No one appeared to be guarding the militaristic spacecraft. Stalking down the only available pathway, Beast Boy managed to make a fool of himself yet again. Tripping over the one of many wires that littered the ground, he fell face first aboard the ship. Crying out in surprise, the sound of his fall echoed throughout the ship.
Preparing for the worst, Cyborg was surprised when the supposed pilot didn't even show up. Sighing in gratitude, he bent down to rip a new one into the younger teen, "What are you trying to do, shake up the whole-" he would have continued if he didn't notice a minute detail. "Uh, where's the crew?"
"Out to lunch?" snarked the green hero.
Standing to full height, he stared where a lone seat was placed. With his face set in a grim expression, he ambled further. Once he got close enough, the young adult gasped when no one occupied the seat. In place of a pilot was a violet cylinder with tubes connected to it. Turning the seat to face him, the tubes retracted into the main hub. "Remote control," muttered the cybernetic human. "They got an entire fleet of ships…"
"And no army," finished Beast Boy.
Behind the two, royal guards aimed their weapons forward. "Looks like Blackfire doesn't want anyone to know," stated the taller of the two. Putting his hands up in a surrendering motion, he allowed himself to be taken in.
「Royal Palace - Unknown Room」
Materializing in a room somewhere located in the castle, Raven stalked over to a set of items that were lain out previously. She looked over each one but found nothing worth any bit of importance to her given mission. Picking up an object that peaked her interest, she rolled her eyes as it was some form of food covered in a green sludge. "Nice," retorted Raven as she flung the offending object into a corner away from her. Irritated at the parameters of the mission appointed to her, Raven scowled. "Why can't you just accept the situation, you moron. Stupid Robin, stupid, ugly slime… thing. Stupid Naruto," she would have continued with her cursing, but another object caught her eye. This time it was a bronze coloured box with a black jewel placed in the center of where a lock should have been. Opening it, a shining bright light assaulted her sight. She would have continued staring but the sound of the pitter patter of feet and a voice that slowly grew in volume managed to reach her ears. Closing the box, Raven retreated to the shadows to eavesdrop on Blackfire and her guest.
Opening a small portal, just enough to fit her head, the cloaked Titan watched the interaction. All she could discern was that Starfire's sister used her position as Grand Ruler to further her own selfish goals. By trading her younger sibling to another race's ruler, she would obtain some sort of crystal that increased the potency of her powers. 'And I thought I was a bitch…'
Her musings were cut short when the ugly groom spotted her. Some seconds later, a burst of goop was shot at her face. It eliminated all form of concentration as she couldn't hold her hiding place. Flopping onto the ground below, Raven retched in her mind at being covered in the sludge. "Ew…" Narrowing her eyes at the two rulers, she prepared for the worst.
"Well done Glurdlescletch. You've discovered a spy," lighting her left fist in ultraviolet light tinted red, Blackfire tested her powers with the crystal enhancement. Raven could not stand against the woman. She looked on as everything in sight turned red.
「Royal Palace - Starfire's Room」
Peering outside her room, Starfire tried searching for a way to escape. Unfortunately for her, one of the many guards stationed outside her room spotted her. Not wanting to deal with whatever Blackfire had fed her people, she reluctantly closed the wooden structure.
Below the balcony that overlooked the land of Tamaran, Robin scaled the highest tower. Had anyone been watching, they'd think of a prince coming to the rescue of the Princess. Using his Birdarangs to help maneuver himself of the monument, his determination outweighed his rational thinking. Even Raven's accusing argument meant little to him. Call him a hypocrite, but he'd deal with other things after freeing Starfire from her unjust wedding.
Having nothing to actually accomplish, Starfire went to inspect her wedding gown. It was a simple dress: a long, white one piece that had a silver design along the midriff. Walking over to the mirror, she held it up to gauge how it would look on her figure. However, a gleam out of the corner of her eye stole her attention. Resting on a small table nearby sat her Titan communicator. Looking at the piece of metal fondly, she remembered simpler times. Wandering out to the railing of the balcony, the Tamaranean Princess pondered. 'Is this what I really want?'
Reaching his destination, Robin peered over the rail to see Starfire staring at the landscape lost in thought. Using a hushed whisper, the leader of the Titans attempted to capture her attention without drawing a target on himself. It took a few tries, but the girl finally heard him. Gasping in surprise, Star let her true emotion show. "Robin! Thank Zhaal you…" realizing what she was about to say, she stopped and retracted her words. "Uh, that is, I trust you are enjoying your stay?" Putting on a fake smile, she hoped she could play off her previous fault.
Not buying the act played before him, Robin reached out with his hand, "Come on. We're getting out of here."
"No," muttered Star. "Robin… I am sorry. I cannot." Putting space between them, Starfire reiterated her sense of duty.
"Starfire, you don't want to marry him." Climbing over the rail that separated the two, Robin pressed forward with what he believed was the right choice.
"Marrying him will bring peace to my planet. It is good for everyone," she stubbornly mentioned.
"It's not good for you," pleaded a more subdued Robin.
"Robin? If you cannot be happy for me, then perhaps you should not attend my wedding," said the girl. She didn't want to ban him from this once in a lifetime event, but he was giving her no choice. As she said this, she closed her eyes willing the tears away. Aside from her, Robin looked crestfallen. The person he had budding feelings for, not only was pushing him away, but even refused to see any other route in finding happiness!
"Starfire…" began Robin, but couldn't manage anything more as a hand clasped over his mouth, halting whatever he wished to say. Eyes widening in surprise, the protector of Jump City didn't even hear nor sense another presence in his immediate vicinity. Taken by his assailant, Robin watched the figure of his best friend fade from sight.
「Royal Palace - Prison Cells」
In an underground chamber, Robin awoke to find himself being dragged by a pair of royal guardsmen. Columns of light separated fugitives and criminals from fighting. Various alien species were put on display for anyone to see. Ending at one of the light fixtures, Robin saw the rest of his team waiting. Thrown like a rag doll, the Boy Wonder caught himself on his hands and knees.
"So… I guess we're gonna miss the wedding?" asked Beast Boy.
"I couldn't talk her out of it. She has to marry him. For her people," came the defeated voice of their leader.
Having enough of his self destructive attitude, Raven spoke up, "No, she doesn't."
The tallest of them agreed, he came forward with his own findings. "It's all a lie. The army, the war… everything. Blackfire set her up," Cyborg pointed out. Upon sharing their intelligence with one another, they decide not to quietly stand aside and break out to warn their good friend.
"Then we have to tell Starfire the truth. Before it's too late," narrowing his eyes in anticipation, Robin devised a plan.
Wandering to the balcony in order to escape the suffocating silence from her room, Starfire peered out to view the landscape of her planet. Knowing that once this marriage took place, she'd most likely would never return. At the corner of her eye, the slight glimpse of her current outfit drew her eyes to take in her attire. From the bottom of her figure to the top of her head, she inspected the wedding dress. There were no imperfections in consideration to the garbs she wore. Yet, everything that was meant to take place felt wrong to the princess. Even her symbolic robe of the day felt unjustifiable. She pictured to be with someone who she had chosen, not a used as a bargaining chip to deter war.
Locking eyes with her mirror image, the alien princess saw the pangs of grief and affliction that swam in her bright emerald eyes. Pretending to be okay with the arranged marriage was a chore that Starfire no longer wanted to take part in. However, her honor and duty to her people won out over all her selfish desires. Seeing her longtime caretaker approaching her in the mirror, the crimson haired girl turned to face him. In his hands was one of the traditional headdresses that symbolized royalty. Its horns were smaller than that of the Grand Ruler, yet it still signified power and importance.
"I have never seen a more beautiful bride," commented Galfore, as he placed the silver tiara atop his charge's head. Though with her head bowed and eyes weary, the giant of a man knew something plagued her mind. "Something troubles you my little Bumgorfe?" In the meantime, Galfore has come to notice that Starfire's heart is not on the wedding at all, despite she is aware of its importance. The large warrior gave Star advice on what she felt was right.
"Yes," droned Starfire, with no emotion. Looking down, she didn't want her beloved K'norfka to see what she really felt. "I will do what is right for Tamaran."
"You must do what is right," lifting her head with his index finger Galfore drew her eyes to his, "-in your heart." Though their touching moment was interrupted by the palace guardsmen entering the chamber of their Princess. Between the pair of guards, Blackfire zoned in on her younger siblings form.
"Ready Sister Dear?"
Embracing for what could be the last time, Starfire left to complete her obligation.
Finished relaying the details of his plan to his team, the remaining Titans lingered in their cell until the routinely patrol left their immediate area. When the nearby passersby were of considerable distance, an impromptu explosion rocked the sector. All heads turned to where the eruption originated from. Allowing the dust to settle and debris to clear away, the four of five Titans scowled at their opposition.
Rushing forward, each of the Titans honed in on any guard or alien that dared get in their path. Once Robin leapt off one of the many guards forms, he left the other behind in hopes they would catch up. Now surrounded with their own agenda to guide them, Cyborg held up his Sonic Cannon as a precautionary tactic as a swarm of soldiers surrounded him and his younger friends. Stepping up to assist his best friend, the shapeshifter of the group pulled a surprising appearance.
Instead of one of the many Earthen animals his teammates were used to seeing, Beast Boy transformed into the mighty Glorg. Also startled by the unique appearance of a discolored but still ravenous animal, the protectors of the palace ran in fright when it roared at them.
"How did you know you could do that?" said Cyborg, who was still dumbfounded that the younger teen could transform into animals he'd only seen once. Glancing to his side, Raven, who normally had a sarcastic comment ready, was still in a dazed state.
Shrugging his shoulders, BB didn't honestly know he could be any animal he set his mind to. He just went for it. "Lucky guess!"
Navigating through the palace halls and checking each of the rooms was time consuming, but none of the teens were too keen on having one of their friends have a loveless marriage. Fighting and making light of the warrior race, Robin found that the guards became increasingly stronger as he traversed the building. It seemed that the men and women he encountered earlier were only cannon fodder while the real threats lie closer to the Grand Ruler. It made sense as they were tasked to protect the ruler and their family from outside dangers for however long they chose to reign.
Knocked back into a window that overlooked one of the many foyers, Robin scanned the scene quickly. 'Dammit, we were too late!' Just below him in a group were the many residents of Tamaran with Blackfire, Starfire, and the sludge of a prince whose name he didn't care to remember.
Standing before the altar, just as she is asked by Blackfire whether she will take Glurdlescletch as her husband, Robin calls out to Starfire. The attention everyone had on the wedding was now drawn to the foreign visitors doing battle with the renowned guardsmen of the Royal Palace. Seeing as she was losing control of her people, Blackfire demanded silence and hoped to rush along the marriage. "Do you wish to do what is right and take this thing to be your husband!?" pointed out the criminal Ruler.
Noting that her friends were in danger, Starfire witnesses Robin fighting the palace guards and refuses the duty she initially burdened herself with. Enraged that her plan to rid herself of her younger sister, the dark haired Tamaranean drew on the power of the jewel of Charta to enhance her already powerful red starbolts. Her left arm and eyes now a radiating crimson, Blackfire brought her wrath upon the last of her blood. "Traitor!"
Blasting her a fair distance from the altar, the Grand Ruler's eyes shone a striking red in contrast to her choice in attire. "I thought we agreed you would do what is best for Tamaran, little sister. You will marry the Schlurch!" Right afterwards, the Titans burst into the fray with Robin leading and reveal Blackfire's plan. Enraged, Starfire challenges her sister for the crown.
Trading blows, both sisters fight on even footing for a time. Though when Starfire extends her reach too far out, Blackfire manages a good hit. Observing from the side, the Titans try to aid their friend but is held back by Galfore. "Hold. Looking at the young upstart who clearly cared for his charge, Galfore mentioned the regulations of dueling, "If anyone interferes, the challenge is void. The Princess will lose." Not liking the fact that he is forbidden to help, Robin grit his teeth.
Behind him Cyborg interjected, "'Sides, our girl can handle herself." He didn't want there to be an interspatial dispute because of their customs, so he praised his teammate's skills while also calming the masked teens worry. Adjusting their field of vision above them, both boys and the rest of the audience watched on. Even though the Jewel of Charta gives Blackfire an advantage, she cannot stand up against her sister's wrath. Overcoming what seemed to be impossible odds, Starfire let her emotions take control and give her power. On the sidelines, the citizens of Earth cheered when Star overwhelmed her sibling, then blasts Blackfire into submission. With the crown falling off the head of the now unconscious ruler, the crimson haired Princess claimed her victory.
"The challenge is now complete. Tamaran now has a new Grand Ruler." Everyone who stood as spectators once again praised the young Empress.
As the new ruler of Tamaran, Starfire calls off the wedding and banishes Blackfire from Tamaran. With the marriage void and a new ruler crowned, the people of Tamaran clean up the mess while converging to celebrate the public acclaim of another leader.
"All hail Empress Starfire!" declared Galfore. The people of the war torn planet celebrated. Even when the threat was only a farce, they continued to be joyous and lighthearted.
As the crowd gives her support as the new Grand Ruler, she publicly admits that she is unfit to assume the throne either. The young woman began speaking about her experiences and the crowd quieted as assumptions rose. "Someone very wise once told me to listen to my heart. And so I overthrew my sister because she was not what I felt was best for Tamaran."
Turning to face her friends, the new empress saw the sorrow visibly painted on each of their faces. Touching the green jewel on her outfit that doubled as a Titan communicator, the Grand Empress continued. "My heart is also telling me, I am also not what is best for Tamaran." Star explains that her heart is now set on Earth and her friends who always gave her tender love and care. she passes the crown on to Galfore, instating him as the new Grand Ruler.
Walking to her friends, Starfire truly smiled for the first time since learning of her marriage. "Let us return to Earth please. I am feeling the sick from my home," taking the hand of Robin in her own the Princess squeezed it. "My real home," said Starfire with a blush to her cheeks.
Beast Boy squirmed in place not caring about the tender moment between teammates. He crossed his legs and stuffed his hands between his thighs to cut the flow of bodily fluids to his lower parts. "Then let's hurry! I couldn't figure out how to use the bathrooms here!"
"We are not having any accidents in the T-Ship! You get me!?" raved Cy to his friend. Rotating on his heel, Cyborg didn't miss the scowl on Raven's face as she looked to see Robin and Starfire intermingling. Guiding her to the ship, the second-in-command knew Robin and Raven would have to settle their differences soon. 'This is going to be a long trip home…' sighed the technician.
As they say their farewells, Starfire expresses to Galfore that she might find her true husband on Earth as she and him share a hug goodbye. Starfire and Robin then walked side-by-side back to the T-Ship together, to which Galfore smiles lovingly… and knowingly.
「Konohagakure - Mindscape」
"It's been a long time since I've visited this place," muttered Naruto. The young adult stood among the ruins of his former home. He held an empty stare as the store clerk wandered around the desolate streets. Once upon a time, there may have been nothing but pride as a Leaf shinobi and hope that the villagers would one day accept him as a whole. Yet, his admirable dream had died in the boy who had so much to give.
Feeling nostalgia grip his indecisive mind, Naruto let his legs lead him to wherever his thoughts drew him to. Time, despite being controlled by the teen himself, seemed to slow to a crawl as he visited the many locations that previously held some sort of sentiment to the Jinchūriki.
The whiskered boy visited a tree with a lone swing. As if memories were passing in front of his face, Naruto stared at the vacancy with an empty gaze. Reaching forward with his right hand, he gripped the rope that was connected to the branch of a tree. Clenching his eyes shut, the suffering he endured from his school days was too much to bear.
Relocating to his next destination, the blonde teen found himself in an open field. On one side of the area was littered with trees that eventually became part of a forest. Opposite the forest was a fair-sized lake with a gravel shore. However, the most peculiar aspect of the place were three stumps that looked to be lodged into the ground at equal distances. Flashes of different scenes played before his eyes; children and their instructor going through drills and workouts to prepare them for the outside world. Retracting the need to rub his temples, Naruto dragged his feet away from the training field.
Growing tired of the painful memories that drudged themselves up from his subconsciousness, the clerk made his way back into the abandoned streets of Konoha. Following a familiar stretch of road, Naruto stared at the remains of a run down restaurant. It's once homely interior now was covered in vines and leaves that seemed to sap away the ambience of the shop. A faint smile left an impression on the sunny blonde. The ramen shop that most likely lost a good amount of customers whenever he actively visited. Yet, no matter what time of day or season that Naruto decided to stop by, the owner and his daughter welcomed him with open arms.
Even though his departure of the ninja village was poor, the teen knew he would definitely be able to count on a few of its inhabitants.
Weary from his short trip, our protagonist set forth to his last destination. Scaling the side of the famous monument, the former shinobi glanced at the time worn faces of the previous Hokage. How he once craved to be a part of the legacy that strived in protecting his or her home. He so desired to be recognized as an important figure and loved by Konoha's people.
Reaching the top of the mountain, Naruto let his eyes wander over the horizon. The lands stretched outwards to make it seem as if the sky met the earth from his perspective. It was stunning. Focusing on the city below him, the once crowded and always busy city was now covered in bushes and shrubbery. Although the shinobi-turned-civilian admired this view, he knew the reality was anything but. This was merely a fabricated space within his own mind. Nothing of the sort would happen any time soon.
Faint footsteps alerted the sunny blonde to a newcomer. Though from their previous interactions whenever he had particular thoughts about a topic, the empathetic and endearing man would appear. Not that he minded, but the sudden intrusion for his more dreary impressions usually meant he wanted to be alone. Not minding that his time alone would be cut short, Naruto awaited what the Sin had to discuss.
Unlike some of his other personalities, Lust was among the select few that he often held conversation with. Sure, it was strange for Naruto to talk to another being that was essentially himself, but he enjoyed the company.
"Funny seeing you here. You don't visit nor feel nostalgic too often. What's bothering you, Naruto-kun?" The elder looking persona was very protective and endearing to his main self. While still potentially hostile, Lust mainly guarded the original body from threats that forcefully entered the mind. That was his main purpose out of the entirety of the Seven. He wasn't very physically oriented, but he could pick one apart as slowly as he desired by using illusions and a person's insecurities against them.
The original stared back briefly wondering if he'd have turned out to be like him one day.
This line of thought shifted Naruto's focus towards his other "selves". The more he put some consideration to it, the more his realization and perspective on himself solidified.
Wrath, the usually angry and overall hateful persona, was the first line of aggression an opponent or enemy had to deal with; be it either inside the mind or in the real world. He didn't ask questions or care about the reasoning. Whatever the angry Sin felt was preserving what he dictated as "right" was his priority. Carrying out his will would be absolute had none of the other Sins try and limit his freedom.
"I assume it's what Wrath's sudden outburst had caused not too long ago," a smooth yet indolent tone voiced its assumption. Neither Naruto or Lust were alarmed at the sudden inclusion of this person. While immensely hard to prod or force into making himself useful, the indolence of this person was only limited to situations he felt were beneath him. For such an idle Sin, he was surprisingly vain.
Sloth looked to be the epitome of a relaxed persona. On his torso, the teen wore a dark orange cardigan with black cuffs and neckline that wasn't too tight nor as loose. The clothing seemed to hang off the body without being too large. His lower body was covered with what looked to be harem pants with the print of a blossom tree's branch on the right pant leg. It stretched from the end of the hem until the knee area. Protecting his feet from the rocky terrain were a pair of black skytop shoes with a white sole. Finishing off his look, the sunny blonde had his hair swept backwards with a bandana that covered his head, yet a few locks of hair framed his face.
Initially, Sloth wouldn't care who tries to aggravate who, as long as he gets a show out of it. The reason being? Putting forth too much effort only for a wasted result is a useless endeavor in his eyes. Since they had come to this new environment, Sloth hadn't believed Naruto as a whole has faced an opponent that was too overwhelming, so why bother worrying? However, that didn't mean that relaxing at every turn was the answer. He believed in preparation for practicality.
Such as his brief interaction with his former sensei. Had the man engaged in combat with the original persona, Naruto most likely would have been captured. Because of that, Sloth had begun taking responsibility of whatever future commotion that may make an appearance. He didn't want to be caught by surprise anymore. Once was enough? No. That one time shouldn't have even made a difference.
Though the Sin also figured that taking life one step at a time no matter the circumstance was also acceptable. If there was a way to tinker the situation at hand to fit his criteria, he'd take full advantage of it.
"I also had the same assumption," commented another. Sloth didn't even acknowledge the person, finding it too bothersome to look. "The Titans, although ignorant to our past and so thoughtlessly spoke against us, were in the wrong. They foolishly assumed because we have power that we would serve others again. How conceited," scoffed Envy.
Both Naruto and Lust had different reactions towards this sudden development; Naruto quirked an eyebrow while the other Sin simply smiled invitingly. Was this a gathering of the Seven?
This particular vice was a nonsensical person. Envy was distant in personality, however, he craved the more immaterial parts of a social life. Rather than want and have no action behind the activity, this Sin sought out his desires. He, along with Sloth and Greed, were an integral part of surviving the more difficult situations when blending into this modern society. Actually, if our blonde Jinchūriki were to be frank, he hadn't seen or heard of them gathering in such a way since he'd arrived in Jump City.
Envy was what the whiskered teen craved; what others took for granted, he wanted desperately. He had an inherent dislike of being used by others and voiced his opinions more often than not. During his outburst, Naruto had envious notions about his past being brought into the present. This time was the freedom of choice. The original Titans freely adhered to their own devices on becoming a part of the justice ridden group, but Robin didn't give him that luxury. Any alternative action was out of the question. It was already assumed by the public, told to him by the suspicious leader of the group of teens, and confirmed by its remaining members.
Thinking about his current situation, the enigmatic store clerk pondered about his future and the people who stood in his way. Would he ever achieve a normal lifestyle? Shaking his head to dismiss the melancholic thoughts away, Naruto sniffed in annoyance. Of course he wouldn't. Even gaining the respect of his peers was difficult enough. Why won't they accept his decision to stay out of public view? Is that too selfish of him? Is it too much to ask for?
Closing his eyes in apprehension, Naruto searched the remaining lands of his makeshift Konoha using his mind's eye. 'Wrath, Gluttony, nor Greed are anywhere near us. Strange, I thought Pride would appear, yet even he is absent…'
「Crossroads - Underground Home」
Instead of usually walking around his store to organize his many books or repairing some of the tomes that appeared to be falling apart, our blond hero lazed around the library for once. His meeting with a handful of the Seven brought forth some insight. However, should he follow their ministrations?
'Why not? They haven't led me astray before.' mused Naruto.
'Why do I feel so lethargic? Spending a few hours roaming around in my mind has never drained me so much before…' wondered Naruto. After planning with his other personalities, the boy spent the rest of his time sitting atop the Hokage Monument, or rather, what was left of it.
Now, one would usually question why he'd spend his spare time in a place that had caused him so much grief. It would be a simple matter in foregoing that memory and dismissing it altogether. But even as when we make a decision to put distasteful memories out of our mind and follow steps in order to forget the emotions attached to them, it's still difficult to completely rule out that impression had left on us. Whether it be a person, place, or an inanimate object, the ghosts of our past will follow us into the present.
After addressing the problem the between himself and the Titans, Envy, Lust, and Sloth reminded him of why he had departed from the ninja village. Sloth, while forth coming with everything he didn't want to hear, was blunt about his weaknesses and evoked his once iron-clad determination to follow his own path again. The Sin brought up their shared recollection of his time in Wave when he met Haku. Although Naruto no longer considers himself to be a shinobi, he should still pay homage to the fallen boy and the "Demon" who still retained his emotions by living his life the way he sees fit.
Lust, who agreed to Sloth's option and the Original's own stubborn quality, was only present to make sure Naruto didn't succumb to his anger and disapproval of the entire situation. When the teen felt too negatively, Wrath was often alerted and made haste to wherever the emotion emanated from. Not only was this not the time to fight, Lust felt that Wrath had been drawing strength from every situation where hate and rage had been present. Unlike himself, that was created from the very essence of good and justice within the original, Lust didn't have a greater presence because of everything he felt. He drew power from those around him, but he also had to accept the entirety of the other person as well. In other words, if Naruto didn't wholly accept another person who could sway him to be a better person, Lust didn't become more influential. Currently, the good-natured Sin was strong enough to not even bat an eye towards Wrath. Nevertheless, that can change in a particular time. Substantially, if the vexed Sin had encountered his cage.
Closing his eyes, Naruto let his mind drift. He had only been sitting for a short while yet the teen felt so lethargic for some reason; as well as having no motivation to complete anything for the day. Sauntering over to the kitchen, the spiky haired teen got himself a glass of water. Gulping it down in moments, he put the item down and sat in one of the chairs seated around the spacious table. A weary sigh escaped his lips. Slumping forward, the blonde rested his head on the palms of his hands. The first thought was of his girlfriend and the way he parted with her some days before. Replaying that particular scene over and over in his mind sickened our blonde Jinchūriki. He hadn't meant to lose control and lash out in front of everyone, especially in front of Raven of all people.
Thinking about his response to the navy clad girl made Naruto's heart ache. It was the first romantic bond he'd ever encountered in his young life and before he knew it, that relationship could possibly be over before it could even begin. His parting with her had hurt him more than he'd ever like to admit. Despite the outcome, he never raised his voice to the girl or had gotten into an argument with her, not even over something minuscule! However, speed up to present time and he realized he'd all but declared his intent to murder her. Exhaling a lungful of air, Naruto slumped forward, placing his weary face in the palms of his hands. Why were relationships so difficult?
No matter the time of day, he couldn't get the girl out of his mind. How was he supposed to focus on his own tasks if his mind was elsewhere? "Kami. I'm a mess…"
'How am I going to fix this?' he wondered. 'Staying away for now would be best, mused the former shinobi. I need to think. Maybe a walk around the city would help.'
Standing up, our protagonist stretched a bit to get his blood flowing. The bright eyed teen wanted to ask his longtime friend if he wished to tag along. After all, getting some exercise is better than wasting away for a day and doing nothing.
Seeing the green bulb outside of his friend's room, Naruto nonchalantly knocked on the door. As he waited for a response, the teen owner mentally made a checklist for the coming days events. Since the sun had just begun to rise, he and Gaara would be able to roam the streets while the atmosphere was still rather cool. It'd be a venture to view the urban life at its lowest populace. Afterwards, they could grab a quick breakfast at one of the nearby eateries available. And lastly, before mid-morning rolled around, both Jinchūriki would have to go grocery shopping for the next week. Or more realistically, next few days, because of the new additions to their little family. It wasn't that Naruto particularly minded having others stay with him, in fact, he welcomed it. Although, he'd have to take stock of the average intake of food and drink that would be consumed in the first day so the whiskered teen could regularly adapt for any shortages.
'I'll have to remember to remind myself to keep a budget of our expenses. Maybe I should consider that offer I was made not too long ago…' thought the whiskered blonde. Right before meeting with the Titans yet after dropping off yet another book he was hired to repair, Naruto had been given an offer that he had put him in a tight spot. It wasn't a gamble or anything, however, had he taken it there would be be no doubt in his mind that a sense of normalcy would be impossible. 'Hmm. Well I can't say these past few days have been any better. I suppose now would be an easier time to accept the proposition than beforehand.'
While he was pondering about the near future, Naruto hadn't noticed Gaara already open his door. The redhead stood in front of his closest friend and confident. However, because the Kyūbi Jinchūriki looked so focused on something, the raccoon-eyed boy didn't feel the need to interrupt his thoughts. It could have been something important. Thus the boy remained standing before him; he was as still as a statue, eyes forward. For most others, they'd have realized the uncomfortable proximity that Gaara had placed before them. Naruto wasn't one of those people. Due to their similar lifestyle and goals, the fair-skinned boy let his guard down around the pale teen.
A few more moments passed until Naruto came to the end of his mental evaluation. When he finally became aware of his surroundings, the cerulean eyed clerk was treated to the gaze of his emerald eyed friend. "Hey Gaara," started Naruto. "How long and why have you been staring at me?"
"Only a short amount of time has passed. As for why, you looked to be thinking of something important. I did not want to break your concentration," replied the messy haired sand user.
Completing his usual daily rituals took practically no time, since he's been doing it for years. Wiping his face with a dry towel, Naruto allowed a slow pace towards the main sanctuary of his hidden home. Noting that loud noises erupted from the home theater area, the whiskered teen assumed his new residents were either watching a show or gaming. Either option didn't bother him, he was glad the kids were slowly getting accustomed to their surroundings.
"As soon as you three finish eating and rest for a bit, we'll begin the initial stages of your training and development. We'll skip the cleanup and construction for the moment. This takes precedence. So eat up and prepare yourselves."
With nothing left to say, the whiskered boy left the kitchen area and strode into the den. There he found Gaara reading literature while the TV played background noise for him. Both Jinchūriki found having noise surround them while focused on a mundane task helped them center themselves. Naruto chalked it up to their previous occupation. The more distractions in the foreground, the easier it is to push it to the side and put more thought into whatever had their attention.
Sitting in a comforter perpendicular to his friend, Naruto drew his eyes to the lit up screen; what he saw didn't help his already wandering thoughts. The Titans seemed to be fighting more and more criminals lately. The H.I.V.E. Academy students... the same institution of students that his trio of misfits had originally attended. Laying his head on an open palm, Naruto read the caption of the headlines.
'Mmm. Whoever Brother Blood is, I wonder if he'll come looking for my little trio…'
「Underground - Training Area 6」
"Alright. While Gaara tests those other two on combat, tactics, and evasion, you and I will be using a different approach to training. The basics," informed Naruto. He could already see frustration appear on the flushed face of hers. Maybe she didn't appreciate being taken so lightly. "I can tell you don't like being forced to return to something of basic principal."
"Yeah. What does it matter if I know the basics or not? Are you an idiot or something?"
Biting the inside if his cheek, Naruto resisted the urge to yell out in irritation. Even though he's had years of fine tuning himself to grow out of his childish tendencies, the former hyperactive boy still had a temper. He mentally wailed to his Master and family in all but blood. The perverted hermit was right, his mom and he shared personality characteristics that were difficult to quell despite all the training and control that had been completed over the years.
Sighing to himself, he relented. 'This girl won't understand if all I do is talk.' "Fine. Just watch."
Naruto raised his left hand, palm facing up. The girl before him stared in wonder of what would happen. Before her very eyes, it looked like water was gathering into a blob centimeters from his palm. Seconds later, a fist sized sphere of water floated just above his palm. It didn't look very menacing at all, yet something about her teacher still made her wary. "This doesn't look very deadly, yes?" asked the older teen. He knew the hex user had expected something flashy. Hell, had he been in her situation, he'd figure the same.
"It's not much, but this is a significant show of control," commented the book clerk. He already knew her upcoming question, but waited for her to respond anyway. These training sessions were for them to observe and learn. It wouldn't do if they were hand-fed answers to every single question. There wouldn't be a point in teaching. To think for one's self and working out a solution to it is a better way of going about in life.
"Did you drag me all the way over here to play with water?" drawled Jinx. She shifted her posture to lean on her left leg while placing a hand on her hip. "This is such a waste of time."
A small twitch of eyebrow alerted Naruto that he couldn't deck the teen in front of him. For two main reasons.
The first was that Naruto had immediately thought of Konohamaru when those words came out of her mouth. The resemblance was almost uncanny. An impatient yet curious persona, the drive to better himself, and wanting to learn whatever possible in order to be recognized for who they want to portray as. For the youngest Sarutobi, he wanted to be recognized as a stand alone shinobi instead of the Third's grandson. As for the ungrateful girl standing not even a meter from him, she wanted to learn more about herself and the range of her powers. That way she'd never have to worry about losing control or worrying about accidentally hurting someone.
The second reason Naruto couldn't flat out hit her was because she wasn't made to resist and return the damage dealt to her.
Unlike in the Elemental Nations, both shinobi and kunoichi could take damage far above those in this plane of existence. These humans appeared to be on the level of an Academy Student. While the heroes and villains were of a tougher variety, most couldn't take high levels of damage and continue fighting. If he were to hit her as he did when sparring one of his friends, he was sure she'd be sore, if not seriously hurt.
'How ironic. My Master had repeatedly told me that I was a brat when he first trained me. Now I'm teaching three brats with a similar disposition. At least I chose the best of three to start with…' Taking a few breaths, Naruto calmed himself. "I'll put it this way. What you're seeing is my weakest ability. Compared to Wind, Water is supplementary. However, due to practice and repetition, I can draw upon it like a second nature. Understand?" Still seeing an empty gaze, Naruto facepalmed with his free hand.
Bringing in the sphere of water, the older teen let his dominant hand hover over the sapphire orb. Channeling his primary element, a chill seemed to draft over the area. Concentrating while manipulating the element, the cerulean eyed teen slowly froze his earlier example until a solid jewel was left. "Now, pay close attention," muttered her instructor.
Using his left hand, Naruto allowed the globe to suspend in place. With his right, he focused Fūton natured chakra into his finger and began chipping away at the sphere. To Jinx, it looked almost like her caretaker had the power of a storm at his fingertips. A couple of minutes later, a makeshift diamond remained. It shined in the artificial light, gleaming as if it were put on display. Handing it to his impatient pupil, Naruto looked on amused as she stared at the object in disbelief.
"Wha- How did-..."
"Cool right?" grinned Naruto. He hadn't planned on showing much, but seeing was believing.
「Training Area 11」
Gaara stood in front of his students with a blank expression. He and his students eventually ended up in an area where the surface had a sandy landscape that had rocks protruding at various places. It was the perfect place for Gaara to learn about the two hopefuls. Naruto had informed him that they were to be trained. The redhead didn't know the first step in teaching. So he decided to test them the only way he knew how. "Come," ushered the boy. Crossing his arms while maintaining his usual stance, Gaara allowed sand to pour from beneath his clothing. In a matter of minutes, there was enough collected that it immediately started lifting around him. Already knowing what he was capable of, the boy genius took flight, leaving his less intelligent associate on the ground. Startled by this action, Mammoth could only grin sheepishly before running in the opposite direction while sand rushed at him in waves.
Supported by his gear, Gizmo laughed wholeheartedly as he watched the giant evade and throw debris at the sand in an attempt to slow it down. However, he too was caught unaware. Beside the shorter than average boy, Gaara stood floating on a island of sand while a cloud of it orbited around his person.
Not wanting to seriously hurt the cackling child too much, Gaara gave a mental thought to form a giant hand. With it he crept in the blind spot of his target. Seeing an unfamiliar shadow, Gizmo regrettably turn to face whatever had made the imposing figure. What he saw wrought fear into him. A hand that was larger than a couple of him put together was already in the process of grabbing at him.
Knowing that escaping his situation would be futile, Gizmo instead let out a high pitched wail until the fixture enclosed on him.
As the clumsy giant avoided every possible clump of sand, Mammoth didn't realize he was slowly being pressured into a corner. His evading tactics weren't as agile as his other squad mates, but he maneuvered his body as best he could. Try as he might, compelling to move his limbs as he wanted was more difficult than he remembered. Tanking attacks and dealing out powerful blows was his strength, but avoiding damage was the exact opposite. Why dodge when you can power through?
"Foolish…" whispered Gaara. Sending a plume of sand towards his student for the day, he surrounded him in a ball of sand and closed the fixture until Mammoth lost consciousness.
「Training Area 3 - Tuesday Evening」
Now that he'd helped the trio of miscreants in their first afternoon of getting to know them, Naruto secluded himself in an area some distance away from others. Just because he allowed the children in on some of his secrets, didn't mean he would reveal everything to them. No matter who they were, all were unknowns in this world. Except for Gaara, none deserved to know his true strength. They could betray him and that would be it. Maybe he was paranoid, but he shrugged. If it kept him alive, then what was a bit of paranoia?
Returning to where his shinobi career began was almost nostalgic. He may have hated how he was treated and disliked how none of his peers cared until he abandoned their home village, but even he couldn't deny the beginning. Memories are hard to forget, even more difficult to get rid of. Looking around the clearing, Naruto acknowledged each piece of the vast area; the three stumps off to the side of the forested clearing, the gravel that faded into the crystal clear water of the edge of a river that ran into a lake of another training area, and finally in a secluded circular area of its own, the memorial stone. The obsidian monument shining in the rays of the artificial sun, with names inscribed on it listing various shinobi and kunoichi who gave their lives for Konohagakure. Not wanting to get neglect the main purpose of giving time to himself, Naruto moved to the unoccupied expanse of the patch.
Focusing his chakra, Naruto seamlessly made dozens of clones and sent broke them up into groups of three to train in his elemental natures and fine-tune his control. In spite of having an exemplary grasp on his natural reserves, his mentor and godfather regularly repeated the same mantra in maintaining control and focusing on mastering instead of always learning. Developing his supplementary nature of Suiton hadn't been very difficult since his introductory lesson about it from Jiraiya. The first few tasks the whiskered teen had been asked to perform tested his patience and willingness to expand his skills.
He had almost a complete mastery of his primary affinity, Fūton. With such developed control, the youth tried multiple ways in relation to bending the wind to his whims and changing currents of air around him. So far, there had been much to add to his repertoire. The boy could now enhance his taijutsu with an exaggerated force behind it; using such a way of fighting could either carve into his target or increase his range of attack to a degree. Such as flinging his enemy away from him using a turbulent wind to creating a tempest by controlling the updraft of air in his vicinity. Using his attentiveness to specific details in the midst of battle and temperance to tactics along with his natural creative persona, Naruto easily found himself creating and perfecting his own style of Nintaijutsu. In other words, he was creating a fighting style that incorporated the use of his own Fūton chakra nature into his martial arts.
He based his idea off of the stories of the Sandaime Raikage and Yondaime Raikage; both were considered powerful in their own right, but even deadlier when using their signature "cloak of lightning". In reality, the supposed cloak was essentially fueling both their body physically and mentally. The User wraps their body in a layer of Raiton chakra. While being used defensively, it's primary use is to be on the offensive. The currents charge up the User's nervous system to electrically stimulate them, giving the person a quicker frame of thinking and reacting. Not only that, but it pushes the body's physical prowess to the absolute limit for a great boost in strength and speed.
However, unfortunately for Naruto, his element only provided a limited range of benefits. Unlike Raiton, which allows the user to generate lightning by increasing the high frequency vibrations of their chakra and induce numbness to enemies or stimulate a person's physical capabilities, Fūton techniques are mainly performed by making chakra as sharp and thin as possible. However, some techniques can be used as a concussive force to overwhelm an opponent if the User chooses to do so or even shred using the same principal in an enclosed space, such as creating a cyclone with a high pressurized core opposed having a low pressurized center.
Because Fūton was his primary element, Naruto wasn't and never would be adept at molding his chakra for Katon-type jutsu. Even though he has expertly trained time and again over the proper procedure for using Katon techniques, Naruto knew his jutsu wouldn't be a match for his former teammate Sasuke should they try to compare. They were good attempts on his part, but there was no extraordinary. Luckily, the blonde knew enough about the molding and execution to reduce any of the techniques required hand signs to a few or even only one. For the couple of C Ranked jutsu in his arsenal, one sign was enough because the end result was usually only a single fireball. Whether it was large or not depended on if the User fed enough chakra into it. As for the B ranked techniques and the couple A ranked jutsu, those took a lengthier amount of hand seals. No amount of training would help him reduce it; not for a lack of trying either.
The teenaged mercenary had done this form of training for hours on end, having gained years of experience within a few short months. Using this method of training always taxed his reserves because he fortified his clones with a sizable chunk of chakra. Making sure each had about an average chūnin-level person's reserves. Also, since his Master was the one who informed him of this particular way of training, he also implemented multiple ways of exercising his chakra control. When he had first begun training under his beloved sensei, the blonde always thought knowing jutsu and being strong was what it meant to be a great shinobi. However, the more time he spent with the old man, he learned and grew. Not only as a ninja, but as a person.
An inkling of Jiraiya's teachings always floated to the forefront of his mind when training. 'You're wrong. That's not what makes a shinobi. You never did get it, a real ninja is one who endures no matter what gets thrown at them… Let me explain to you, there is only one thing that matters if you are a shinobi. It doesn't matter what number of jutsu you possess. All you do need is the guts to never give up. And with that, you'll never fail.'
"I should finish up in a few hours, there will be a lot to do tomorrow," muttered Naruto. With renewed vigor and an unshakable resolve, the blonde clerk sought out to refine his chakra control and train his body further for future threats.
「Crossroads - Early Morning」
"Naruto," started Gaara, who had already completed his morning rituals and now sat in one of the many seats in the spacious kitchen, "when you say we will go on a 'splurge', what do you mean?" The redhead still had no idea what his fellow Jinchūriki had in mind. He doubted it had anything to do with what he initially envisioned, but with Naruto, anything was possible.
"I only meant that we'll be buying many items in excess amounts. Remember, it won't just be us anymore," replied Naruto, who was holding a notebook in one hand and a pencil in the other. The former shinobi currently stood in the his expansive kitchen. Rather than guessing what to buy, the young adult was going around taking note on what needed to be replenished while also contemplating what foods should be bought for his new charges. The other merely observed and followed his friend's figure with his eyes while he sat at the bar-like expenditure that extended from the sink area.
Gaara had planned on making himself a light breakfast, but was promptly shut down by the landlord. He was placated by being promised food from a new restaurant he had found by wandering around in his free time. The redhead didn't see what the big deal in postponing a meal at home in comparison to one made and served by another, but didn't interject. The usually inexpressive boy allowed his doting friend to control whatever he saw fit. He didn't see a problem in following along with his wishes. He trusted the teen after all; more so in the recent span of time than ever before. It had only been a few months since the Jinchūriki of Shukaku had appeared before his friend once more, yet their bond had grown immensely. What once had been considered close to the two, now Gaara thought of him as family.
'I wonder. Do you also think of me as a brother, Naruto?' Slipping out of his musings, the redhead looked up to see the whiskered container finishing his self made task. "Let's walk around for a bit, then we'll go out to eat. Sound good?"
Instead of responding like others would when faced with a question, Gaara shrugged.
Locking the door behind him, Naruto turned his head and silently took in the scenery around him. It was the first time since his outing with Raven that the boy actually paid attention to the world around him. Partially forgetting his surroundings, the blonde allowed himself to be immersed in the sleeping city. Closing his eyes, the whiskered librarian focused his chakra and reached out to the natural world.
This technique of focusing and reflection had been taught to him by Jiraiya. At first, Naruto thought the man was trying to teach him self-control with a meditative conditioning, but after weeks upon weeks of trial and error with differentiating instructions each and every time, the former shinobi came to a realization. After the first month of submersing himself in meditation, Naruto found that he was increasingly calmer than he had been as a child. Along with the teachings of his Master, the once hyperactive shinobi began his journey towards becoming a stronger and more calculative person. As the second month ended, his training on the basics had finished a couple of weeks prior, the now placid Jinchūriki focused on learning an advanced art known only by those who wielded a summoning contract: Senjutsu.
Previously, it was known by others how to take in natural energy without having the need of a summoning contract. Examples of this were the Rikudō Sennin and Senju Hashirama. However, that time has long since ended and now only a contractor who is recognized by his summons or a Master teaching their pupil can begin the sacred art. Luckily for him, Naruto was deemed strong enough to begin his training. Usually when practitioners of Senjutsu would begin first learning, they would be taken to the summoning realm to get a feel of natural chakra by way of the elders and then the method of teaching from there would be tweaked to fit the apprentice's style of learning. Unfortunately for him, the impromptu training trip had been cut short. Since the trip hadn't been officially recognized by the Hokage nor had it been overseen by his sensei that he would be leaving the village for a definite period of time, Naruto had to come back sooner or later lest he be branded rogue. Unlike Jiraiya, the blonde container had no traveling rights to his name. His partial apprenticeship to the Toad Sage would gift him small royalties, however, it didn't exempt him from the law.
The more he drew in trace amounts of nature within himself, Naruto slowly felt his body becoming part of the natural world. Since being introduced to Senjutsu, the Kyūbi Jinchūriki slowly trained and practiced drawing in trace amounts of energy from the atmosphere and terrain around him. Due to the lack of chakra in the atmosphere around him, Naruto couldn't pull off enough nature chakra to be useful in battle. He would need to be still for a far longer period of time for the increase in abilities to come forth. A memory slowly faded into his mind. His godfather had briefly gone over what it meant to be his apprentice and had begun the theory behind what being a Sage entailed. The veteran shinobi previously informed him of the advantages of practice, 'Naruto, we don't have the luxury to spend a lot of time on this, so I'm trusting you here. I want you to sit in your meditative pose and feel the world around you. Don't move a muscle! I mean it Naruto. When you can sense a distinct change from before and after, I'll teach you further. Until then, keep practicing.'
While lost in thought, Naruto sensed an abnormally large presence beside him. Bringing himself back to the present, the whiskered clerk recalled he wasn't in the confines of his home; losing focus in the streets of the city wouldn't be an intelligent decision. next to his close friend. Releasing his hold on nature chakra, the blonde opened his eyes and happened to see the sun emerging from over the horizon.
「Jump City Streets」
Wandering around the mostly empty streets of the city was something he enjoyed participating in. The calm before the storm, he surmised. Not that he hate the usual bustle of the daily commute, but a change of pace was something to indulge in. The past few days, even weeks, of nonstop action and drama had been taxing on the blonde teen. Sighing in exasperation, Naruto briefly wondered why everything had to go in this direction. Ever since the reveal of his extraordinary abilities, he hadn't had a moment of peace. The Titans, the new additions to his surrogate family, and now his former comrades…
He left his thoughts to trail off. The whiskered container couldn't exactly blame anyone for this feeling. It wasn't as if he could control their actions. If anything, it was his own fault for meddling in the affairs of others.
Stealing a glance at Gaara, the former shinobi wondered what his take on everything was. The inexpressive boy didn't say much and only reacted when something directly concerned himself or his fellow container.
Watching as the beams of light crept over the horizon, signaling the start of a new day, Naruto smiled at the implications. He smiled as he viewed the city come alive from its nightly slumber. This spectacle gave him hope. It metaphorically showed that no matter the circumstance of the day prior, there would always be a new day to make up for time lost.
The library clerk also noted that he and Gaara were no longer alone. Pedestrians and business men and women began adorning the streets. Figuring that restaurants would soon be accepting customers, he motioned for his companion to tail him towards the nearest diner. Neither of the two were particularly picky, especially growing up with little choice in food, so both boys decided on any place that was currently available. The shaggy haired blonde pointed out a place called the Trú Blú Cafe that appeared to have just opened its doors to the public.
「Whole Foods Market」
It had been numerous hours since arriving at the grocery store. Naruto hadn't been picky when choosing different food groups for his guests to eat. He didn't care if they weren't fond of a specific food; they'd eat it willingly, unless they wanted him to force it down their throat. Well, he'd be nice in the beginning; it wouldn't do to scare them off so early. Hoarding food into his cart, the sunny blonde chose numerous amounts of fruits, vegetables, some snacks to be eaten throughout the day, and other items he felt would be a good start. Once he thought about the largest of the three, Naruto led the two back to the refrigerated section and stocked pounds of wrapped meat into the shopping cart. Smiling to himself, he pulled out his notebook. Twitching slightly, Naruto knew he'd be spending quite a bit. The redheaded boy saw his companion visibly wilt before his very eyes.
"Ne, Gaara, mind taking control of this cart for me?"
Waiting on the cashier to scan all his items, Naruto hadn't noticed when people started motioning towards him. Many even snuck a photo or two while his head was turned. However, just because he wasn't physically looking in the vicinity didn't mean he wasn't spatially aware. That and he could hear what the masses around him were supposedly chattering about. Yet it didn't bother the boy. People had been talking about him since he was a child; only this time he knew the origin of the rumors. Mentally groaning, the whiskered library clerk turned his attention back to the cashier. Just in time too because the man completed his task in scanning all the items.
"Your total comes to $526.78," he finished with a smile.
Nodding in acceptance, he reached for his wallet. Fishing out his card, the blonde teen quickly paid the total and asked Gaara to help him carry the groceries home.
「Underground Home - Wednesday Morning」
Returning back to their shared home, both Jinchūriki hefted the many bags into the place. The task wasn't difficult by any meaning of the word; it was just menial labor. However, Naruto couldn't just make his job easier by using clones because of the random strangers that now occupied the streets. The container of the Kyūbi didn't want to reveal anymore of his abilities for no reason. Finally making it into the space beneath his beloved store, both containers began unpacking and rearranging the food. The redhead separated the food
"Hey Gaara, can you finish up on your own? I need to check on some things," seeing him nod, Naruto thanked the boy and went off. Entering the premise of his store, the sunny blonde quickly checked over everything. He didn't go into too much detail, but made sure nothing was out of place. Returning to the front desk, he took out his keys and proceeded to check if he'd received any letters from possible clients or the like.
As the blonde clerk was trifling through his mail, he noticed an elegant envelope amidst the usual bills and advertisements. Setting aside the mostly unimportant items, Naruto let his fingertips graze the matte black material. It was an unusual choice in color for any normal letter. The envelope itself was black and the words were a shining crimson. Flipping it over, the flap was securely closed by a wax seal. Having come across this, the whiskered teen knew whomever was the sender was a wealthy individual. Grabbing his newsletter knife, he tore the top of the well crafted paper container open and shook out its contents.
Before the whiskered teen could manage to skim the letter, a familiar seal strode into his sensing range. He'd only created that seal as a test to further his knowledge of the art, yet it came back successful and completely operational. Not only that, but he knew the user and holder of the seal. It was someone he hadn't seen for quite a while now. Naruto allowed a smirk to grace his usual playful features. "I haven't seen you in awhile, you know. After that fiasco with the Titans, you dropped off the map for a while." The whiskered clerk had to stifle his laughter as muffled growling came from his impromptu visitor.
"I had taken to returning to my original roots of pilfering and smuggling now that a core component of my being had been confiscated," the figure in the shadows stated.
He already knew why the wayward man had come to him. After all, it was he who helped him obtain the magnificent suit in the first place. "To think that you'd be bested by your predecessor, even if he is still a brat."
"Shut up Blondie. Wonder Boy just took me by surprise. Nevertheless, I see why you warned me. He's not bad. Still rough around the edges, but he'll get better." retorted the figure. Although it took fighting the masked kid for practically the entire day, he was amused by his prowess.
"I did warn you, didn't I. He's better than you perceived him to be," Naruto nodded with mirth. "Anyway, what did you need from me? Another belt?"
"I need some assistance," came the familiar dual voice of the elusive thief.
"I'm sure you do, now that a vital part of your suit's mechanism is missing," pointed out Naruto. While he thought highly of the person behind the mask, he also knew that he became arrogant when convinced he "won the trade", so to speak.
"I'm not even going to play your little game. I want an upgrade," mentioned X.
"Thankfully for you, I have just the solution. Nevertheless, you know my price," stated Naruto. He knew of the man's talents, but it didn't mean he'd just give him what he wanted. The blonde wanted some insurance. After gaining some leverage over the man, he knew that should he upgrade the suit, it'll keep X loyal to him. 'Keep your allies close and your enemies closer.' That saying was still prevalent in peaceful times. "However this time, I'll have you working under me for an undetermined amount of time. That should suffice."
"Fair enough. I expected something like this, but whatever. I'll come by in a few days to check on the project…" turning around, Naruto knew X would have departed in a similar way he infiltrated his abode.
Smirking to himself, the crafty librarian thought of a test for one of his guests. 'This is as good a time as any to see what he can do. Looks like Gizmo will have his first personal assignment to work on.' Jinx had mentioned to him previously that no one wanted to put their trust in the young man because of his personality and his appearance. 'His personality is a given, but that can change in the right environment; as for his appearance, well… maybe with a better diet…' contemplated Naruto. He was all for helping others, but to guide someone who didn't have a chance to better themselves. This would be new territory even for him. Deciding to think more of it at a later time, the bookkeeper left for other matters.
Rather than going to his undisclosed home which was farther away, the blonde clerk chose to freshen up in the library's faux rooms. They were perfectly feasible and had were viable to use in public when needed. He even kept spare clothes for himself and his redhead partner should there be a time when they were required.
After his shower Naruto appeared once again in his secret home to get started on breakfast. One of the first things he learned after the redhead had moved in was that Gaara had next to no skill in cooking. He was decent enough to make quick meals such as ready-to-heat dishes or cereal, but that was where the list mostly stopped. Recently, Naruto had taken the time to show the raccoon eyed container how to cook rice, chop vegetables, and prepare simple dishes so he wouldn't be totally lost when the whiskered Jinchuriki was out of town. However, it still meant that Naruto primarily cooked.
The kitchen was a decent size, with a large round table in the middle of the room for eating at that could probably seat about twenty average sized individuals with counters, ovens and just about everything else you would need to cook with lining the edge of the room making it look like the sort of kitchen you would see at an expensive restaurant.
By the time the others of his makeshift family had decided to show up and had entered the room they were greeted by the sight of a blonde blur speeding around the room as he prepared the food. The only one that wasn't shocked was Gaara because of a mix between having seen this before and being to distracted by getting his morning coffee to care. Within minutes of them entering the room the table was piled high with pancakes, a multitude of eggs, several links of different kinds of sausages, bacon, both white and whole wheat toast, cereal, a rainbow of fruit and a few things they didn't even recognise.
Seeing the three stood staring at the table in shock Naruto chuckled. He gestured at the spread he made himself, "Take a seat and help yourselves."
Doing as they were told, the shocked expressions still on their faces, the teens started to eat. After the first mouthful, Mammoth was shoveling it in by the handful as if he was scared it was going to disappear. As he was eating his own breakfast, their makeshift caretaker wrote every so often in a small notebook he had set on the table next to him. The sapphired eyed teen seemed amused when he watched the large teen eat; making a note of both the amount of food he consumed, what he eat most of and any other information he thought might be useful.
Seeing this Gizmo leaned over to look at what the blonde was doing and after finishing his mouthful of bacon spoke. "What the hell are you doing?"
The blonde teen didn't even look up from his notes as he answered, "I'm recording entries for future reference. It's about the amount of food Mammoth eats and what he consumes the most of. For example, he eats a lot of meat but hasn't touched any of the fruit. His personal method of consumption has given me an estimated guess; Mammoth's body craves protein which is more than likely related to his powers. The fact that he needs to eat so much is an indicator of a faster than average metabolism. In conclusion, his body burns through the energy from the food quickly."
Frowning slightly at the explanation, the small teen took a moment to process and sort out the information he's been given. Thinking about what the squinty eyed idiot said, the usually boisterous midget frowned before scrutinizing his liaison, a nervous expression on his face. "The way you describe it, Mammoth is weak from hunger most of the time."
"He most likely is," retorted Naruto without missing a beat.
At his words all three of the former H.I.V.E. students stopped eating and stared at him. In Mammoth's case, with a full mouth of food, as if he had lost his mind while both Naruto and Gaara carried on eating as if nothing was happening. The silence was finally broken a minute later when Gizmo summed up the trio's thoughts in just three words.
"Holy Shit Fucker!"
Chuckling at their reaction Naruto finally looked up from his notes and smiled at the larger teen as he went into more detail.
"You are immensely strong and have a larger than normal body type, there is no denying that. But from what I have seen over the brief period of time, it is likely that your body needs at least, from my calculations, five times the calories an average person does. With time and more research on your habits, I should be able to make something similar to an energy bar that you can use to help balance your cravings. I'm sorry I have no immediate solution, but that's the truth for the moment. If I were to push my luck, I'd bet you're only using a fraction of your full potential strength."
The only response he got was a deadpan look from the larger teen, which prompted him to make several more notes in his book before closing it and standing up from the table. Had it not been for the serious talk and absurd proclamations, the trio of younger teens would have laughed seeing the impassive boy mirroring his friend's motions. However, that wasn't the silly part. He didn't only mirror him, but was replicating the same exact movements before approaching the sink to begin washing both sets of dishes.
"I'll explain it better for you at a later time so that I can go into detail. After you three finish eating, it'll be time you all began fixing the damage done to my shop," finished Naruto with a smile plastered on his face.
「Crossroads - Noon」
By the time lunch arrived, the three teens had actually made a lot of progress with the repairs. Between Mammoth's strength and stamina, Gizmo's brain and technological advancements, and Jinx's leadership, they had cleared all the rubble in no time and had already started on rebuilding the wall. Onlookers who knew the misfits from the news, each of the three had gotten quite a few odd looks from people passing by. The reporters seemed to be having a field day, but for the most part they were left alone out of fear.
Since the shop was damaged, it had to be closed. Until the entrance was repaired, Gaara would be in charge of watching the children. It wasn't that he didn't trust them; after all he gave each of them a reason to stay; he just had some insurance put on them in case. There were seals the blonde librarian had put on the back of their necks. Knowing that the three would stay with himself and Gaara was favorable in principle but he needed promise. Using his expertise in the sealing arts, Naruto applied a small, simple matrix about the size of a quarter near the base of where their spinal cord and brain would be.
The principle was straightforward enough. Should the person who removed themselves from the safe area of the commanding seal, which happened to be located in the center of his library, a brief burst of electrical discharge would travel along their nervous system. If the initial shock didn't knock them out, the resulting action would completely render the person immobile for a set period of time. The blonde wasn't completely sure which scenario was most likely to occur. He didn't exactly test out the seal.
What? The boy may have studied and made the Hiraishin his own, but he still has dozens of seals he wasn't sure about. He wasn't a skilled practitioner like the Super Pervert or his late-father. Though his expertise and knowledge was growing by the day. He had informed the trio of this. However, Naruto avoided telling them about the art of Fūinjutsu and what exactly it could do. Nevertheless, each of the three understood that there was no point in trying to run, not that the notion of escape had crossed their mind since being given a new chance at life.
While they were working, Naruto had distanced himself to work on adding a studio for Gizmo and a specialised arena for Mammoth. Luckily with the Doton: Ground Splitting technique he had learned from Jiraiya, it was a simple matter to manipulate the earth into what he needed. Whereas, the former shinobi had no considerable talent in earth, fire, or lightning release, he still knew jutsu of each type. They were just much more difficult to grasp and had to be trained every so often. Gizmo's new workshop was a large circular room with four metal desks he had retrieved from one of his sealing scrolls and a few basic tools like screwdrivers and hammers. He would ask the small teen for a list of materials later.
Mammoths training room was a lot more difficult to make. Because of the teen's strength, objects like weights would be all but useless. Instead, Naruto created a pair of clones to help him apply gravity seals to every surface in the room; when it was complete, the blonde or Gaara would be able to adjust the room to their specific taste. This would put strain on even the large teen's muscles and when he was done he added a few reinforcement seals on some weights so they wouldn't be affected by the increase in gravity and put them in the room. He also added a 'control room' that wasn't affected by the gravity seals, with a large window inside so he could observe and alter the seals in the room where needed and the equivalent of an emergency stop button inside the room, the control room and outside the room that didn't need chakra to be activated.
That was also one of the things he had learned in the three years since he arrived in this worlds, combining seals with science. They couldn't be used for anything too complicated because for some reason it made things explode, but after three years of trial and error he was able to incorporate things like buttons into a seal matrix that didn't need chakra to use. It was also how he was able to add the red and green light system to Gaara's room and had been able to make it so they ran off of the excess energy that was created by converting demonic chakra into nature chakra.
The control panel that he would use to control the seals was actually just a table with seals engraved on it that he had connected to the ones in the room.
He couldn't help but laugh when he saw the their faces when Gaara brought them back down for lunch, the sudden appearance of another door next to Gaara's hobby room seeming to unnerve them slightly. Not that he could blame them, in the Elemental Nations things like that were considered the norm, almost anything could be accomplished with the uses of jutsu. But in this world, even with people having a wide range of powers and abilities, things were different and they were used to the idea that things like building rooms took time.
After lunch in which Naruto made more notes of what Mammoth ate, the blonde teen showed Gizmo his makeshift studio for the moment and told him to make a list of the objects he would need for his projects. The moment the words left his lips the little genius was practically jumping off the walls in excitement. The young genius babbled out loud about all the things he would want and need. The boy was prattling on so quickly that his guardian couldn't even understand most of what he was saying.
"Ah, before I forget," Naruto found that he didn't even catch his attention. Gizmo being too focused at counting what he was going to receive. Twitching at being ignored, Naruto smacked the boy at the back of his head, sending him to the ground.
"Ouch! Fucking hell you hit hard," groaned the slant eyed boy.
"At least I finally have your attention. And believe me, if I really wanted to hit you, even Mammoth wouldn't hold a candle to me," bragged the older teen. "Anyway, I have a personal project I want you to take up. A personal… friend of mine, asked me to help him in his endeavors. And I'd like to see what you're capable of. Think of this as a test of sorts."
「Underground - Early Afternoon」
As he led Mammoth to another training room, both Gaara and Jinx followed after the two. Jinx was interested to find out what the blonde had made for her friend while Gaara simply had nothing better to do. After leading the spectators into a safe division which didn't react to anything going on in the main room. Making sure to inform Jinx not disturb any of the switches or buttons, Naruto hit a sequence of buttons and turned a knob slightly. Before the trio of viewers, the usually strong youth visibly sagged and even dropped to a knee. Chuckling softly, Naruto walked to where Mammoth currently resided.
As Naruto slowly approached the struggling teen, he noted that Mammoth was determined to stand to his full height if his trembling limbs were of any indication. Stopping in front of the kneeling boy, the container of the Kyūbi regarded the action favorably. "This is a special room. At this very moment, the gravity in here is just over twice earth's natural gravity. Personally, I didn't want to scale the resistance too much because I feared I'd crush you by accident. Anyhow, I want you to spend at least one hour in here a day, training your body to the absolute limit. I don't care what you have to do to push yourself."
It may have been in view of the face that the pressure within the room was something new to him, but the giant of a teen had trouble with moving as he liked. Forget about his superhuman abilities, he strained his muscles to even lift an arm. Struggling to do anything more than bob his head, Mammoth gave the whiskered teen, who looked to be enjoying his misery, a confused look. "I thought you were going to help me control my strength, not increase it?"
"Yes, that is my end goal. In spite of that, I must teach you to reach and surpass your limits. Had I taught you to control your current strength, you would have a problem down the road when it increases. The more I understand your ability, the additional help I can offer," instructed Naruto. Walking around the expanse of the room, he pointed out different ways to coach the boy. He wasn't stupid in the simplest sense of the word, just misguided and misinformed.
"Until now your strength has come from your powers. Unlike the average person, you haven't had the need to work for it. By exercising in this room, everything you do will force you to struggle. Your physical ability, that you've always been known to have, will be completely natural; with potential to be amplified. In other words, it will be easier for you to understand and control."
"Is that what you did?" questioned the orange haired teen. He didn't understand many of the words the guy had talked about, but got the basic message. Train in this way and you'll be a lot stronger.
Smiling, Naruto shook his head negatively. "No. My strength is the result of intense training. Every day for years. All of what I do is learned." Turning on his heel, Naruto paced himself to a specific area of the room and placed his palm flat on the wall. Using one of the many methods, the blonde deactivated the seals. Nodding to the other two that the room was no longer weighted down.
「Underground - Afternoon」
They left Mammoth in the room after an easy explanation on how to use it with nothing else to say, the pair of Jinchūriki and lone metahuman relocated to the living room. Letting out a sigh while tussling his hair, Naruto shifted his focus to Jinx. The always blushing acrobat is going to be one of the most difficult to help from the three. The power of being more or less "jinxed" wasn't just being unlucky; more often than others realize, it can actually force of nature. From his understanding, the ability to be constantly unlucky was a sub-genre of Curse Inducement and Probability Manipulation. However, the sapphired eyed teen had a theory on Jinx's ability. From the pink haired girl's reputation, she normally used the destruction and jinx aspect of being luckless. To put it in layman's terms, she'd rather destroy everything in range or let unfortunate dealings happen to someone else for a change. However, they had to be close in proximity.
There was another hypothesis that caused Naruto to delve into his speculations, but figured he'd cross that bridge when necessary.
Like with Jinx and her unusual branch of luck-based abilities, the curses Naruto connected with her was a branch of magic that hadn't personally shown itself in his experience. Considering that Jinx dabbled in something curse related, brought the scholarly blonde to sort through the more risky advents of his collection. One such tome was that of the Ankhseram volumes. This brand of supposedly titled "Black Magic" involve the act of becoming immortal whilst killing any living being around the User. The brand of magic itself cannot be learned, but instead, true to its name as a curse, is brought unto someone by the God of Ankhseram, who is worshipped in Mildian. In ancient times, the citizens of Mildian worshipped the God of Time: Chronos. But humans have grown complacent when given what they asked for and in exchange, Ankhseram cursed any followers and rid them of their sins by killing what they held dear the most. It forced them to live separate of those whom they cared for. One of the more common side effects was immortality to those who tried altering the balance of life and death. This particular curse causes the User to exude a miasma that instantaneously kills all life with the immortal being at the epicenter.
Possibly one of Jinx's parents were the descendants of a Ankhseram worshiper and their family line was cursed with a specific branch of the Cursed magic. Unfortunately for Naruto and by extension, Jinx, the pink haired girl didn't know who her parents were or if they even had superhuman abilities. So the clerk couldn't make any more deductions based on his findings. In this case, rather than being immortal and unintentionally killing all life, Jinx was part of the balance aspect of black magic. Meaning, the balance of forces or probability manipulation.
Law magic dealt with impossibilities occurring. Such as the likelihood or chance of possibilities happening. The person with abilities that manipulated a particular quality such as Jinx did made unlikely things occur more often or instantly preventing liable events from happening. They could cause and prevent both good and bad luck, sudden deaths, natural disasters, and even apocalyptic events. Depending on the finesse they had with the particular ability, their potential was stronger.
Lucky for him, Naruto didn't have the voice of a screaming girl that had been turned to stone within his mind. This meant he was able to create a group of Kage Bunshin the previous night while everyone slept to do some of his own digging. He researched endlessly about what Jinx's power could be and how he could improve her abilities.
"Hm… I have something for you. It's all I have on the subject so far, but it may give insight as to what you may be able to accomplish," mentioned Naruto as he quickly went to his room to fetch something. Not even a couple of minutes later, he returned with three large, leather bound books stacked atop one another. Each book looked to be slightly tattered with various rips or tears in the cover. However, thanks to either its previous owner or most likely Naruto, the imperfections of each volume were sewn shut and repaired to the best of the owner's ability. On the front cover of each, there was a picture of an eye with varying amount of the pupil showing. For the first one, only the lower part of the eye was visible. The second cover looked as if the eye were lazy or half open. Lastly, the third eye on the cover was completely open and appeared to be looking at whoever dared open to view its contents. "This is the symbol of Law magic, unwavering balance. Like I said earlier, there hasn't been much found on this subject. Disregarding that you are probably one of the very few who have been blessed with such a power."
Not believing his words to be true, Jinx hesitantly took and opened the first volume and began carefully flipping pages. A few pages later, the pale skinned girl blinked as she saw the same symbol of an eye that was embedded into the cover. Focusing on the symbol, she shrieked and almost dropped the book when the eye seemingly blinked back at her.
"What's wrong with you?" inquired Naruto.
"Th-The book… I-I…" stuttered Jinx. Halting herself from continuing to look through the bizarre pages, Jinx peered down at the eye again. To her surprise, it looked as if it were just ink printed on the paper. 'Sigh. I must be seeing things…' Shaking her head to clear her mind, Jinx collected herself. Returning to the directory of the book, she skimmed over the various subjects that were offered in the first volume.
Chapter 1 - The History of Black Magic
Chapter 2 - What Form of Magic You Have
Chapter 3 - The Importance and Meaning of the 'Natural Balance'
Chapter 4 - What is Law Magic?
Chapter 5 - The Different Branches of Law Magic
Chapter 6 - How to Effectively Control Your Magic
After reading the first division of indexes, Jinx briskly skipped through several pages. She also took note of the charcoal sketches and perfect handwriting. Reading was a bit of a burden since the lettering of the words seemed to be faded and smudged in a few places. Yet despite it all, she was happy. For once, sarcastic and slightly mean spirited girl could find out a bit of who she is. Everything about the book seemed perfect. Looking up at the blonde, Jinx abandoned the book on the couch she had sit on and threw herself at him to pull the older boy into a bear hug. She buried her face in his chest while holding in the tears that threatened to fall. The two parted after a minute or so. One regarded the other with more respect and even looked to him as a saviour. The other was happy to help and pet her hair with a familial type affection.
Motioning for his fellow Jinchūriki to follow him out, the two containers left the girl to explore her powers in solitude.
When the door was closed Gaara turned to look at Naruto with his usual expressionless appearance. "You realise that you had given away a lot of valuable information today. What they accomplish now could be used against us in the future," concluded the sand user.
"I guess so, but each of them finally arrived at the starting position of their lives. More so Jinx that the other two; she has a right to that information and I didn't want to withhold it from her." Closing his eyes, Naruto explained his reasoning to the other boy, "I guess I feel this way because of all the things that were hidden from me. I dislike the idea of not giving people information that they are entitled to."
Taking a moment to consider his close friend's words, Gaara nodded his head before walking to his personal room and locking the door behind him, most likely to take a quick nap. Not a moment later, Gizmo came rushing out of his studio with stacks of papers flying behind him. Chuckling to himself, Naruto trailed behind the enthusiastic genius and picked up after him.
'Things are going to change around here.' thought Naruto, a twinkle of anticipation in his bright sapphire eyes.
Read & Review!
Uploaded On: 15 Sept 2017
Total Word Count: 22,681
A/N: Hey, it's me again. So… many months have passed and not until now have I updated? Yeah. It happened. Get over it. I have many excuses to use but to be honest? I didn't feel like writing the story most times. Trying to force myself to write was a pain in the ass. Not only did the words not come to mind, but I felt like the story was becoming too troublesome to deal with.
So let me put this out there. For the first and last time. This story is not dead. I will update when I feel like updating. Don't bother reminding me to post something. I will have the upcoming chapters be released when they're meant to. I give myself plenty of reminders on my phone and Mac throughout some days. I don't need a myriad of people trying to be my "alarm" while bothering me.
As said previously, I will update when I feel the need to. So with that said, I will no longer promise anything to my readers. If you don't like that and stop reading, go ahead. I don't mind at all. Trust me on that. Continuing this story is more for myself. You all are just here reading along with me. I can not imply this enough. Even when working on new, upcoming chapters for this story, I always go back and reread the past chapters to get a feel of the characters and plot line so that I gain inspiration and have a sort of idea where and how I want to progress the ReMake.
Having said my piece about that, I have taken in some consideration to a few of you guy's tips on future chapters. Mainly because they weren't that far off in my own plans and I truly believe that it's possible and could happen in the story.
And as of this update on ANB ReMake, I've finally released two trailers to upcoming stories I thought of. This isn't anything new since I've teased the release of some of my original stories time and again over the last year. These two will be written and thought of occasionally but won't have a set release like my main story.
However, I am proud to announce that of the two, "The Colourless King" has already over 2k views in the past few days! And it only has 500 words. How crazy is that? I never expected such an outcome from the trailer. Hell, I only wanted to tease the story. But it looks like lots of people liked it.
And while not as impressive as the Colourless King, "Phantom of Konoha" also has over 1k views to it.
You guys are great. Thanks for the love and appreciation for these stories. I am honestly speechless and can't reiterate it enough. I'll see you guys next time.