Loud knocks thundered against the apartment door. Mumbled curses sound off in the goblin's mind.
Ishiko blinked her eyes blearily as she woke to the smell of sizzling beef on the stove. The goblin sat up on the bed and rubbed away the sleep from her eyes. The undercurrent sounds of sweeping and mopping reached her ears and it was a struggle to stay asleep. The last thing she wanted to do after a good nap was chores.
With great reluctance, Ishiko knew she would not be able to get anymore nap time in. The goblin flopped upwards on the bed and rubbed away the crusty post-sleep stuff. She could already see the blurry outlines of the other girls scurrying throughout Naruto's small apartment.
Nemei was sweeping back and forth across the floor with her broom and a feather duster was taped to her tail and knocking the dust from the curtains with every whack. Right behind the dragon was Dalyla with multiple cloths and rags wrapped to her tail as she slithered across the floor that sparkled behind her.
Even with the strong stank of disinfectant, the smell of cooked meat and boiling noodles practically smothered the apartment. Viorica stood at the stove as she stirred a massive pot of boiling noodles and a pan full of meat and veggies being grilled to perfection. That was a lot of food for a single meal Ishiko wondered. What was special about today?
She slammed her fist into an open palm. Naruto's Graduation Exam! His third and final time to become a ninja. The goblin leapt from the bed and stretched her limbs. The evening had come and with it a refreshing coolness that felt great against Ishiko's bare skin.
She wished that the other girls would let her help clean and cook, but after her first few attempts, both they and Naruto made Ishiko in charge of overseeing all chores. It didn't stop Dalyla from giving her a harsh glare every time she woke up though. It didn't bother Ishiko one bit however, who is she to say no to lazing about?
Hard knocks rang against the door again. Without turning around, Viorica called out, "Ishiko can you get the door? I don't want to overcook the beef." Her head bobbed to an imaginary beat in front of the stove.
Both Dalyla and Nemei snickered, but Ishiko did not see what was so funny, but it didn't really matter to her right now. Still in a bit of a sleepy daze, Ishiko opened the door.
"Naruto you are in so much-" Umino Iruka stood at the door looking extremely crossed and angry but stopped when he noticed that it wasn't Naruto in his apartment. His jaw dropped and he turned his head as he desperately clamped his hands over his eyes. "Miss can you please put a shirt on!" He cried out as his face flushed red.
Ishiko looked down and saw her naked chest open to the world. That's why it feels so cool right now. Nemei and Dalyla were guffawing like hyenas, their chores forgotten.
The goblin was shoved to the side by a scowling vampire, who practically snarled into Ishiko's ear. "Put on a shirt!" And was shoved toward the closet. Ishiko simply shrugged and looked for wherever she tossed her clothes.
After digging her way through the unsorted pile of fabric, armour, and underwear in the closet, Ishiko finally found her shirt. When she turned around the apartment was much more somber than it was before. What did she miss?
Before she knew it, the other girls shoved her big floppy hat into her hands before they practically tossed her out the door. Apparently, Naruto got into some trouble with the entire village after stealing some scroll from the Hokage. Ishiko wasn't really paying much attention when Viorica was talking about it. It all just boiled down to them to hunting down their summoner before the rest of the village got their hands on him.
Dalyla seemed especially worried about him, but Ishiko really didn't see a point for all the fussing. With how close he was to the Hokage, it would take something big for him to get in trouble. Then again with how some of the villagers act towards him and with him stealing some important scrap of paper, who knows how some of the humans would react. Ishiko grabbed her hammer.
Just in case.
Searching the village turned out to be more of a hassle than anything else. Since they've spent so much time with Naruto in the village over the years, everyone thought the knew where he was. Numerous ninja keep bothering them, asking, and demanding that they tell them where Naruto was hiding.
Ishiko could only sigh in exasperation. Every time someone badmouths Naruto for stealing the scroll, Dalyla screams them back down, Nemei heats up in anger and Viorica tries to keep them both from attacking the insulters. It made it difficult for Dalyla to focus on the scent of Naruto's chakra, its not like she could do it.
Ishiko was not a tracker. She is a basher. She carried a big hammer for a big reason.
Frustrated from being accosted almost every ten steps, Viorica dragged the lizard duo to the edge of the training fields. The goblin bobbed along side them, hoping the moment of quiet would help them catch Naruto's trail.
The towering trees that gave Konoha its name soon shrouded them away from the prying eyes of the people, where they could catch their breathe and gather their bearings. Ishiko ran her fingers through the dirt as she sat cross-legged on the ground. The goblin was simply biding her time while Dalyla and Nemei vent and grumble about the annoying nature of the local human population. It made Ishiko kind of miss Yamatai Village. Being respected certainly had its benefits.
The lamia stopped in the middle of a rather vicious rant about a stinky fish monger. Her serpentine tongue flicked out of her mouth once, then twice. Dalyla then started to tear her disguise apart, freeing her tail from the confines of her chair. Ishiko titled her head in confusion as she watched the lamia free herself.
Viorica started to pick up the clothes that were tossed haphazardly onto the ground. "What are you doing you Dalyla? What if someone sees you?"
"Forget about that!" She snapped back. Her tongue tasted the air again as her face twisted into deep concentration. "I can taste Naruto's chakra. Its faint, but…" She drawled out.
Nemei practically growled in excitement. "Then what are we waiting for!?" The dragon ripped herself free of the heavy clothes that hid her features from the world. "Let's ditch these things and get going."
Ishiko watched with mild interest while Viorica tried to convince the others to keep their disguise, but it was no use. The goblin was just happy to get moving again. Maybe Naruto was up to something interesting out here in the middle of the woods?
Suddenly, Dalyla dragged Ishiko behind a tree. Her finger pressed tightly against her lips as her eyes remain locked onto the scene behind the goblin's back. Ishiko strained her neck to look behind her to see quite a scene.
Mizuki and Iruka were fighting through the forest. They leapt between the branches as they collided with each other in mid-air combat. Kunai and shuriken were thrown back and forth. Multiple thunks above Dalyla's head as she yelped in fear. Her hands clapped over her mouth to hide the noise.
She watched as the other three monsters' heads twisted around to look at the tree tops, their faces frozen as they hoped that neither of the fighting ninja had heard them. As the sounds of their fighting continued, Dalyla said that she could taste the trail of Naruto's chakra in the same direction the other two ninja went.
Ishiko kept on walking into the pointed direction, though she did hear the others follow after her. After a moment of hesitation. It did make the goblin wonder what the hold-up was? They've did this sort of thing when they were younger, so why drag their feet now?
The closer the girls got to where Naruto was hiding, the easier it was to smell his chakra in the air. Ishikos' senses are nowhere near as strong as the other girls, but Naruto must have been using a lot of chakra recently. This part of the forest was practically drenched with his essence. He must be close.
They started to hear voices that grew louder. The four of them shared a look before the rushed to the source. They hid in the bushes behind the silver-haired chuunin as Mizuki, stalked closer to the now trapped Iruka. The good teacher was pinned to the trunk of a tree with kunai, a dozen shuriken littered his body as he grimaced in pain.
Mozaki started to open his mouth and speak. Even though she couldn't see his face, Ishiko could hear his disgust and contempt with each taunting word that spilled out of his mouth like poison. Hearing him saying all this towards Naruto made her want to shut him up with a broken jaw.
He taunted Naruto with the knowledge that he knew why the village hated him. Iruka tried his best to shut him down as he begged Naruto not to listen to Mizuki's words as he struggled against the shuriken.
Naruto slowly came out from behind the tree. That desperation, the hunger to know why he was treated so differently compared to everyone else in the human village. Ishiko knew that even though her and the other girls made him feel better about himself, the fact that his home has shunned him for as long as he has lived still caused ache in his heart.
Viorica's hands clamped down onto Ishiko's and Nemei's arms respectively. She wanted them to stay out of whatever was happening in front them. It was a single word that whispered between the four of them, but they all felt the amount of trust and conviction behind the single request of the blond.
The traitorous chuunin spoke of how the nine-tailed fox, the strongest of the tailed beasts, that attacked Konoha 12 years ago. It alone caused great havoc as it decimated the village, the military, and its people. No one who lived through that night did so unscarred, physically if not emotionally. Mizuki continued to speak of the hundreds of people who lost their lives that night. The wives who lost their husbands, the fathers who lost their daughters, and the children who were left with nothing but the cold pit of remorse with each memory of their parents.
He taunted how Iruka is one of the many children who became orphans because of the Kyuubi's attack. Mizuki made sure to remenience how much Umino Iruka, a beloved teacher of ninja academy, was a vehement hater of the fox that killed his parents. Even after all these since its attack, he now has no choice but to look upon the fox and was forced to teach it like it was just another human.
Behind Mizuki's back, Ishiko's head started to throb with frustration. What on earth does some old fox have to do with what's happening now? In her opinion, too many people focused too much on what has "happened" compared to what is "happening". She really wished that this bastard would get to the point already. She already wanted to give him a good whack with her hammer, but she knew Naruto wouldn't be too happy with her for ruining his chances to find out why he was so disliked.
Not like the opinions of the villagers mattered to her and the other girls.
She was hard-pressed to do anything to ruin Naruto's chance to know something this important. That was probably the reason why Viorica forcing them to listen. He looked confused and scared. How could Iruka see the Kyuubi every day if the Fourth Hokage killed it 12 years ago? The more she pondered over the question, the more it felt like her horn was growing in the other direction and was poking her brain.
The teacher in question, struggled even more against his restraints. Spots of blood started to show through his clothing where the kunai and shuriken pierced his body. He cursed, ranted, and raved before outright begging Mizuki not to tell Naruto. It was forbidden, it was not their place to tell him only for a kunai to slam into the bark next to his head, courtesy of Mizuki.
Ishiko felt Viorica tense up beside her but she had no idea why.
Mizuki continued to speak. She started to pay extra attention to his spoken words that Iruka tried so hard to deny. She could hear the man sneer with each word. "Bijuu are not natural creatures. Life and death mean nothing to them and the lives of us mortal creatures even less so." The goblin girl watched the chuunin's back as his body betrayed his own emotions. The way his back arched forward in Naruto's direction as if to taunt him with unknown information.
His hands hovered in the air as if to placate a disobedient child. "So the Fourth Hokage did what he had to. Using his mastery of fuinjutus he sealed away the beast that cannot be truly killed. But a beast like the Kyuubi couldn't be sealed into something as simple as a scroll."
From the right of Ishiko, whimper escaped from Dalyla's mouth. What got her scales itching? The earth-natured monster looked over to see her friend and she looked terrified. Her big cerulean eyes had shrunk into pinpricks as her chest started to heave repeatedly. Was she hyperventilating?
"So using a forbidden technique he summoned the Shinigami, the god of death, and using its power he sealed the Kyuubi into a baby." He started to reach toward the giant fuma shuriken on his back.
Ishiko could feel the heat of the unseen flames as Nemei breathed down the back of her neck. Ishiko was glad for her thick skin or that would have hurt. The startled gasp before the increase of temperature must have been something important.
Or maybe it was the fact that some school teacher was about to murder their friend.
She knew she could easily break herself out of Viorica's grip around her arm, and she hated that she trusted the vampire enough that she could risk Naruto's life like this. Even Nemei started to half-heartedly struggle against the hand that held her in her place. Like the alpha predator that she is, the dragon would break free at the sign of weakness.
Iruka's clothes slowly started to tear as he fought to free himself.
"That baby was you Naruto." Mizuki said. He pulled his giant shuriken free of its holster on his back. "You are the Kyuubi no Yoko!" He cried out triumphantly and prepared to toss his shuriken.
Nothing was holding them in place anymore. Their restraints were broken and they dashed forward into danger regardless of the consequences.
Ishiko slammed into Mitsuki's side and the fuma shuriken flew from hand. He was tossed into one of the thickest trees she has ever seen, (For the Village Hidden Within The Leaves that was certainly saying something.) but he sadly did not crack his noggin on it. Sure, it would not have felt as satisfying as brutalising the white-haired chuunin with her hammer, but it certainly goes towards the heaping helping of pain she wanted to dish out.
He pushed himself back onto his feet as a flicker or realization flashed across his face. "I've always wondered why a bunch of girls followed the Kyuubi brat around the village." Mitsuki looked Ishiko in the eyes as he spat at her feet. "Had himself his own little band of monster minions. I think the village would reward me rather handsomely if I bring the corpse of the fox and the horn of an oni." He gave her a toothy grin. "I'd be a regular monster hunter."
Ishiko spoke proudly in defence of her heritage. "First of all," She thumped her fist against her chest. "I'm a goblin and proud of it." She paused dramatically before she continued. "And what you talking about Mizuki-teme? Your outnumbered, so just give up now and we promise that we will go easy on ya." She grinned. "We'll only beat on you enough that you'll beat able to eat through a straw for a while." The goblin twirled her hammer around a few times to some emphasis to her rather blunt point.
The traitorous chuunin guffawed. "You think some classroom shut-in and a comatose demon will even the odds in your favour?" He snorted during another bout of laughter. "I always knew the old stories about oni said they were dumb as bricks, but seeing is definitely believing."
She was never one to brag, but there was a whole gang of monsters with her. Ishiko turned over to her friends who should've had her back only to see nothing. Why were still hiding? Mitsuki was just an average human, even if he is a chuunin. They could handle him!
"I gotta say," Mizuki drawled out. "I thought being the Kyuubi no Yoko meant he have more than just one little minion."
Ishiko did not give any real thought to the fact that one of her best friends was a nine-tailed fox sealed into human. That he may have power comparable not only to one of the Heavenly Knights, but to the Monster Lord herself. Humans and monsters alike would feel intimidated if not outright terrified of a kid who had killed so many people years before.
Ishiko gave Naruto a quick glance where he was still collapsed on the ground. He held onto his head tightly, as if he'll crumble to pieces the moment he lets go. Behind him, Iruka had lost the strength to struggle and was yelling at Naruto not to listen, that he wasn't the Kyuubi, but the boy was too far gone to hear anything the man was saying. The goblin took a moment to see everything happening around her.
Naruto was frozen with guilt and confusion, the other monsters were intimidated by the idea of their summoner's true power, and Mizuki-teme was simply taking his time and laughing at the entire situation before killing them all. Ishiko sighed. She was really tired of all this.
The ginger haired girl twirled her hammer around and slammed it into the ground headfirst. It shook her friends and Naruto free from their doubt and even Mizuki stopped to stare, but he looked more amused than anything else. "So, what if Naruto is the Kyuubi no Yoko?!" She cried out.
"Monsters and people are no different." The goblin tossed her helmet aside, her horn proudly adorning her head. The symbol of her inhuman ancestry. "They make the choice to be good or bad." Ishiko reasoned, as she looked back on the history of her home. Heroes using their status to rob people blindly, monsters helping the humans fighting the angels during the war. "They can even change!" She cried out firmly. "Naruto will make things right. He will use his power to protect the village to his dying breathe as the next Hokage!" Her conviction rang throughout the forest.
Mizuki scowled at the girl. "Don't compare monsters and humans you beast." He pulled out a kunai from the pouch on his leg. "Now shut up and die!"
A fireball flew through the bushes and singed the back of Mizuki's vest. He stumbled forward and turned throwing his kunai where it bounced off Nemei's ebony scales. Licks of fire were seen between her teeth as she emerged through the bushes.
The branches above Mizuki rustled loudly as a shape drop from the foliage right on top of the ninja. Mizuki rolled out of the way in the nick of time. The figure hit the ground with a soft thud as she crouched down low. A black cape was draped around girl with bright blond hair. Viorica raised her head and glared at the chuunin with large red eyes. A hunger-filled grin, her fangs on full display.
Mizuki backpedaled away from the vampire in front of him only to jump at the sound of hissing behind him. Claws slashed right where he stood a second before. Dalyla pulled her arm back slowly as she slithered forward like a true venomous serpent.
"Breed like cockroaches don't you?" The ninja clasped his hands together. "I'll take all of you out at once! Iruka, the Kubit, and you filthy beasts all in one go!" Mizukis' hands started going through the different seals only to be interrupted by a kunai that stabbed his arm.
Naruto's now empty palm "You touch anyone-" Naruto said as he clenched his fists. "And I'll kill you!"
Mizuki's eyes dashed between five opponents. With his attention spread so thinly between all these people, he failed to notice the overwhelming sea of orange that was building in the branches above him. Until it was too late.
"Taju Kage Bushin no Jutsu, Dogpile Style!" Naruto called out. Hundreds of Naruto's dropped from the trees like a tsunami and buried the flabbergasted Mizuki.
Ishiko smiled. "Nemei?" She said, her unspoken question easily understood by the dragon. Both monsters shared a smirk before Nemei tossed Ishiko high into the above the living mass of wriggling orange clones. At the apex of toss Ishiko yelled out with absolute glee, "Earth Crashing Goblin!"
She brought her hammer down in a thundering smash, hundreds of clones poofed from the impact as a mushroom cloud of chakra smoke blew upwards into the night. When it finally cleared, Ishiko stood triumphantly on top of a broken and battered Mizuki, pleased as punch.
All eyes were on her, and every eye was opened wide at the climatic end of the confrontation. "I'm content." Ishiko said with a smile. Throttling Mizuki-teme was one of the best things she's done in years.
After freeing Iruka-sensai, the preteens gathered in an awkward circle, the older man giving them some private time to speak. Much to Ishiko's chagrin, both the girls and Naruto refused to meet each other's eyes. Even the gleaming headband that now adorned Naruto's head served only as minor distraction.
Time to end this.
"So Naruto's a nine-tailed fox, big whoop." Ishiko shrugged. "You are all overthinking things. You can still become the next Hokage and show the village your true strength."
Naruto brightened up and started to smile.
Then the goblin looked toward the girls. "Naruto is still Naruto. It's not like he's going to whack up one day and be a male Lady Tamamo." All the girls blushed at the idea of nine fluffy tails popping out of Naruto's backside.
"So-" Ishiko wrapped everyone up in her arms into a big group hug. Most people keep overthinking the little things. Family is too important to let it be muddled by the small stuff. At least that's Ishiko's opinion.
Iruka awoke from his bed, sore and bruised from the adventure last night. After leaving the kids with the Hokage, he got patched up by the Hokage's personal doctor before he went home. It was certainly a surprise that bottom rung of the graduating class, Naruto Uzumaki, who couldn't make a single normal clone, can make hundreds of shadow clones and summon monsters from who knows where. Iruka always knew he had the potential to be a great ninja, but this was way beyond what he expected.
As he stretched his limbs and ignored the aches and pains as he looked out of his apartment window and out on the village for his jaw to drop at the new batch of graffiti on the Hokage Monument.
Little foxes surrounded the faces of the Hokages with bright oranges letters spelling out,
Konoha is under the protection of the 9-Tailed Fox!
Iruka sighed tiredly before getting dressed. He made sure to grab some teaching aids, a kunai and a sealing scroll, before going out the door. It appears the Hokage forgot to tell Naruto a few minor details after last night.
Another chapter that took longer than I wanted, but I did end up writing around 40% of it in the last two days, so I'm considering this a win. Either way, I've gotten through the first trial of any Naruto fic, the Yuba reveal! Now I can get some canon stuff, original stuff, followed by more original stuff, and canon stuff. I want to get at least another two chapters out before September starts.