Thank you for the support.
Here is the final chapter of this story.
Music Recommendation: Suns and Stars (Extended)- Really Slow Motion (Youtube)
Arn Anderson-Annihilation (Youtube-For the last few para's of this story)
(Six Weeks Later)
The world swarm into his sight all at once threatening to consume him in a blind light. He shut his eye before blinking it open a few times and adjusted it to his surroundings.
It was then that the cold hit him.
He glanced around and found himself resting in a very warm and comfortable bed. He tried to move his limbs and they felt so heavy, his throat was parched and he found it very hard to breathe. Still, he continued to struggle and managed to get himself seated upright with great pain and effort.
The surroundings cleared even further and he slowly recognized the room as his personal chambers in the Land of Fire.
Was this what the afterlife was like?
The last thing he remembered was the Otsutsuki stabbing his heart and him falling to the ground. He looked down at his naked chest and saw a nasty pink scar over his chest, a reminder of that wound.
What was happening?
Just when he was about to panic, a wail erupted.
A child's cry.
He looked around and saw atleast three cribs in the far off corner. The babe was crying louder now, he didn't know what was going on but knew he had to help that child. Dead or not, he couldn't leave the child alone when it was in pain.
His legs trembled against the cold when he placed them on the ground, but fortunately he was still wearing pants.
Atleast he was not naked against the cold which was a small blessing.
He nearly fell flat on his face when he tried to get up but grabbed a nearby table to steady himself. When he was confident he wouldn't make a fool of himself, he took the first step with great effort.
Then another and another.
The babe was still crying and to his utter surprise was joined by another.
Curious he slightly increased his pace and managed to reach the cribs only to be left speechless.
There were three of them, one beautiful boy and two little girls.
The boy had soft blonde hair and pale white skin. His eyes were pale blue and his soft cheeks were full of moisture. His chubby little hands were desperately trying to reach out at him.
The first girl had beautiful black hair and pale skin. She had dark eyes that were so haunting and beautiful at the same time. Her gaze was fixed on the boy and she was crying as she tried to reach out to him but her own crib stopped her. The helplessness must be frustrating her leading her to tears.
The last child was sound asleep unlike the other two around her. His breath nearly stopped when he noticed her soft brown hair so much like his own and his aunt Naori, even her eyes were the same as his and so was her skin.
Tears arrived in his own eyes and he cursed the gods for their cruelty.
Even after death, they tortured him like this. By throwing the ghost of a life he could have had right in front of his dead soul, of what could have been twisting itself like a knife in a broken heart.
He had fought for what was right and even gave his life.
But now watching the ghosts of these children before him, wondering what his own children would have looked like haunted him. He may have saved the world but he had failed them as their Father by leaving them all alone.
The grief and guilt overwhelmed him as he miserably tried to touch the boy in order to take some pitiful comfort.
His hand touched upon the child's head instead of passing right through him.
Shocked, he placed his other free hand upon his own heart and felt the soft beating of his own heart.
It was impossible!
He shouldn't be here but his own beating heart was a stark proof against that reality. Most of all the baby boy had stopped crying leading the other girl to also stop crying and look at him curiously.
Afraid and eager, he carefully took the boy in his arms and brought him close to his chest.
The child laughed.
And he saw Tsunade in the child which broke the overwhelming flood of emotions welling in his chest.
Naruto broke down with tears rolling from his eye and desperately clutched the boy against his chest. He quickly reached over to the awake girl child and extended his finger to her. The child laughed happily and wrapped her tiny fist around his finger.
The doors were slammed open making him turn around to witness an equally shocked Tsunade and Priestess Shizuka staring at him in awe and joy.
In a flash, his wife crashed against him but was still careful enough not to hurt him too much. Tears were falling from her eyes as she kissed him passionately. His throat was parched and lips dry but it still felt the most happiest moment of his life.
He kissed her back fiercely, if this was his last night on earth then he would still consider himself lucky for he got to see his wife and children atleast once.
They softly broke the kiss only for her to hug him fiercely. None of them could say anything for their voices had abandoned them yet here in this dark chamber, holding Tsunade and their son in his arms, watching his two daughters being looked over by Shizuka who smiled at him...it felt right.
He was home.
Naruto groaned against his brother's fierce hug but smiled nonetheless. Even Tajima came forward and hugged both of his sons together, even as a lone tear slipped from the old Uchiha's eyes.
When they finally parted, there was a relieved smile on Madara's face and a contended one across Tajima's.
"Took your sweet time" scolded Madara,
"Sorry" apologized Naruto sheepishly,
He didn't understand how he was still alive, only that Tsunade had saved his life for which he again sent her a thankful smile as she held their son in her arms.
"Leave the poor boy, alone. He's back and that is all that matters" scolded Tajima, earning a scoff from his eldest son.
"Of course, he's back! Uchiha's are hard to kill" boasted Madara with not a hint of shame,
Naruto smiled faintly knowing how wrong his brother was. Death was death, and it came for all of them whether it was an Uchiha or Senju. He would just count himself lucky to have another chance at life.
"What happened out there?" he asked his eldest brother, as a solemn look arrived on everyone's faces.
Madara went on to explain how he had charged straight into the Land of Water alongside Tsunade and his squad. He had expected Naruto to scold him outright for risking his wife and son's life, but the boy surprised him.
"Thank you, everyone" whispered the king gratefully, as he glanced at his two living daughters so near him.
Madara himself smiled at the sight before going on to explain how Tsunade was willing to sacrifice her life and that of her son for his own. That earned her a sharp look from Naruto and she had the grace to look away sheepishly. The king wanted to scold her for being so reckless but couldn't say anything knowing her heart was in the right place. He was relieved to hear how the other clan heads and his own friends alongwith Madara had sacrificed their own lifeforce to revive him.
They had all shortened their lifespan.
"I owe all of you a great deal" said Naruto gratefully, and saw his three friends rolling their eyes at him.
"You owe us nothing" answered Mikoto gently, earning nods from Shisui and Itachi as well.
Naruto considered himself lucky to have so many people go so far for his sake. He could only consider himself extremely blessed to have such people in his life, even if he didn't deserve their love and loyalty.
"The enemy?'' asked Naruto hesitantly,
"Dead" answered Madara coldly,
"Dead?" questioned Naruto in disbelief,
"To the last man. We killed them all" replied Madara coldly, and for a second Naruto saw the immense hatred Madara had for the Otsutsuki and could only imagine how his brother must have butchered those bastards. Not that he was complaining.
"The Land of Water?' he asked again,
"Still exists. With the Otsutsuki wiped out, there was no need to destroy such an important territory. Contrary to our belief, it was not a wasteland. The Otsutsuki had their own crop fields, wealth and immense resources which we have seized for ourselves. Their lands are still fertile and I have put our men on them to alleviate the food shortage. Many refugees are already being moved there to lessen the burden on the Land of Fire. Thankfully, Nagato and Mito were able to stop the Biju's from exploding. We just dodged a dangerous bullet, Naruto" explained Tajima honestly,
The king was relieved.
There was no point in destroying an entire resourceful continent if the enemy occupying them were all dead. He was also intrigued when Madara explained that the Uzumaki had uncovered several vaults of information that Hinata had about their world, the Otsutsuki, jutsu and so much more. Tajima and Madara had already ordered those vaults to be preserved and guarded knowing how important they would be in the future.
The King was saddened to hear about the loss of half of the men who had followed him to the Land of Water. He felt guilty for being alive while they were not. The others tried to reassure him by explaining that he was more important but it did not lessen his guilt and his only comfort was that Madara had given all those warriors a state funeral and made sure their families were well looked after. Naruto decided to immortalize them forever so that humanity never forgot their sacrifice.
The world was slowly recovering from the war but it was not going to be an easy journey.
Not for him or anyone else.
But they had a chance and in the end it was all that mattered.
It was midnight when Tsunade entered her chambers and frowned when she saw her still recovering husband not only awake but also sitting at his table studying the ninja map while also taking down notes.
"You should rest" she scolded, and flushed when he gave her a warm smile full of affection.
"I cannot. Our world may have survived but it will take a lot to rebuild and even more to make it ready to face the Otsutsuki clan" he emphasized patiently,
She walked towards him and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.
''You really have a one track mind, don't you?" she asked with a mock sigh,
"Afraid so" he answered cheekily with a grin,
He calmly observed her as she studied the ninja map. It still amazed him that he now ruled over the world, it was a great responsibility he wanted to fulfill to his very best. But he couldn't shoulder this burden alone and wordlessly requested her guidance. Tsunade was surprised at his gesture before she smiled fondly.
"If we are to keep peace, then we need to spread our loyalists across the world. Keeping the most powerful clans in the Land of Fire will only create more tension while weakening the security in other former nations" she advised, earning a nod from him.
"What would you have me do?" he asked curiously, agreeing with her thoughts.
"The Uchiha are strong and your ever loyal supporters. Make them lords of the Land of Lightning. Those lands are very resourceful and rich, plus even more better suited at raising and training large armies. Have several minor clans like the Aburame and Shimura become their support houses alongwith local clans and civilians" explained Tsunade sincerely,
"My people won't like it. The Land of Fire is our home" argued Naruto, and she even nodded in acceptance.
"True. I would have recommended giving the Senju clan those lands but my people are too soft and good hearted. The citizens of Land of Lightning are a hard bunch who'll follow only the strong. Madara and his descendants will be the perfect choice if you deem it so. Most of all, you are the King. They will obey if you command them" explained Tsunade seriously, a fiery glint in her usual calm eyes.
"What about the Land of Fire?" asked Naruto seriously, as much as he hated it her words did have a grain of truth in them.
"It shall be the seat of the royal family with the Senju clan and its staunch allies like the Yamanaka, Akmichi and Inuzuka serving as loyal vassals. To balance the threat of favoritism, have the Hatake and Namikaze clans expand their influence. This way our descendants will always be surrounded by staunch loyalists. As for the Land of Wind, it is a treacherous and difficult nation. Only a smart tribe can lead them and who better than the ever cunning Nara? The Land of Earth is also a land of hard people, make the Sarutobi clan their overlords with minor ninja houses as their support base; besides they always did love monkeys which are a plenty in those lands" explained Tsunade strategically, pointing her fingers over different parts of the map.
Naruto didn't miss the fact that she was gradually hinting at encroaching all smaller nations into Land of Fire, Lightning, Earth and Sand.
Four great nations ruled by loyal families devoted to the royal family.
All ninja clans and no civilians.
"The Land of Whirlpools should stay the way it is. The Uzumaki should be continued to rule over them. As for the Land of Water, we will need a stable population to repopulate them. People who have honor and courage, the Samurai and Hanzo's people should be the most suitable. And these group of separate islands near the border of the Land of Fire and Water should be made another separate nation to act as a buffer state between the former Otsutsuki lands and the Land of Fire. You can give these lands to minor ninja clans and make it the seat of the crown prince. This way, our family will have a place to retreat to if shit hits the fan"
By the time she was finished, her husband was gaping at her.
"What?'' she snapped irritatedly, her old temper flaring to life. She would never admit it outloud but his continuous stare made her a little nervous. Her brothers had never allowed her to have much say in political matters and she feared she might have overstepped her boundaries once more.
To her surprise, he did something she had never expected.
"You're a better ruler than me" he complimented, making her blush but she quickly shook her head.
"These are just ideas, Naruto" she refuted, albeit very weakly. It truly warmed her heart that he thought so highly of her.
"They are better than the ones I had. To be honest, I know how to win wars but one of the reasons we survived so far was on the sound advise Daen Nara gave me from time to time. All my life, I was trained to fight my brother's wars. I was never born to lead a nation, much less the entire world. Sometimes, it makes me feel that I should not be the one leading us" he confessed, and was surprised when she bonked him on the head gently.
"It doesn't matter what we were born to be or destined to be. Who we chose to become is what matters most and no person is perfect at everything, even a King. You cannot do it all alone but you will have all of us by your side everyday. Don't be afraid" she encouraged,
A smile came upon his lips as he stared at the unflinching faith she had in him, even if he was probably a political fool at times.
"Thank you, Tsunade"
She smiled back at him before laying a soft kiss on his lips, one which he happily returned.
They both decided to run their decided ideas before the various clans and their family elders first, if they agreed then it would probably change the world forever.
It was midnight.
The world was silent.
All creatures taking rest unaware of the dangers that lurked around them.
Priestess Shizuka stared at the shining moon in the sky, it was beautiful with its pale light but what most people didn't see was its darkness that came and consumed the world. Every time, the light destroyed that darkness but never was it easy.
She looked at her two daughters sleeping in their cribs, innocent souls who didn't know how dangerous the world truly was. The monsters that lurked everywhere.
She smiled when he felt another presence appear.
"You came" she said gently,
"Your words were true" he answered with a wistful smile, as she turned around to face the king. He was dressed in a simple Uchiha clan shirt and pants, a far cry from the expensive clothes many had gifted him on his coronation.
And she knew very well what words he spoke about and why he was here.
She watched his eyes gaze over their daughters and was pleased when she saw how much love he had in them for the girls.
"Have you thought about their names?" she asked curiously,
"I have. But you are their mother, I know you have forsaken most worldly pleasures but if you have any ideas then I would be most happy to listen" he said with a faint smile, but she shook her head.
"I never expected to be a mother, but now that I am I shall try my best to do justice by our daughters. But your blood flows in their veins. I shall be there for them as much as I can but you are their Father" she advised, her unsaid words were not missed by the king as he nodded.
"The eldest shall be named Naori and the younger one Hikari" he announced,
"After your mother and aunt. A predictable choice but an honorable one as well" she commented, and he merely nodded.
"I have to ask you something" he said, which made her smirk.
"When we first met, I had answers to questions that you never knew existed. But tonight, you are the one with the answers and I with the questions. You know it's true" she said frankly, which made him flinch.
She saw him fight with his own heart for several long minutes before he sighed in defeat.
"The war is far from over. It has only begun" he confessed,
"Truth is always hard to accept, my king" she agreed, and saw him clench his fists.
''They're out there and my people need to prepare for their arrival. But we cannot do that without information" he admitted hesitantly,
Shizuka felt her heart break for this man but couldn't help but admire his strength for he had made his decision. Yet, she had to impart what she felt and reached out to touch his cheek.
"If you stay here, then you'll be remembered as the greatest of all Kings. You will be a wonderful leader and possibly herald humanity into a new era. The Young Dragon, they shall remember you as such until the end of time. Your family will love you and you shall have the peace you always desired. But your people will never be safe from the real threat out there and maybe in time if it doesn't show itself, they will very well forget about it until it's too late"
"But if you go, then you shall wander through stars and entire galaxies. You will go farther than any man has ever dreamed of, a life of danger and hardship but one that may save our world. But you will never have the peace you desire, possibly you shall never return home ever again"
His shoulders slumped as he miserably approached his daughters and touched their cheeks. She could see the burden crushing his soul bitterly until he straightened himself and made his choice.
"I'm the only one who can cross worlds with my power. I can pass through dimensions and galaxies in time, to discover the true extent of the Otsutsuki power and warn our world in time. I cannot do that if I stay here and bind myself as King. I will never forgive myself for this...nor shall those who love me. I can only pray that my actions can help them when the time comes" he confessed miserably,
Shizuka approached him and laid a gentle hand on his shoulder as he slowly took deep breaths.
"You remember what I told you about your final choice?" she asked him,
You shall die with a smile on your face.
His eyes widened as he realized something very important. He took a step away from her, his voice deserting him as he nervously stared at this woman.
"Who are you?"
Suddenly a wave of deadly cold invaded the room, the flowers in the room withered away, the breathing of the children turned eerily silent as two ghostly dark black eyes stared at him. For the very first time, he saw a purple shadow rise above him looming over the woman.
He realized what it truly was.
"I really died out there, didn't I?" he asked sadly,
The one and only god stared at him with his dark visage as the scene around them shifted. The palace disappeared, so did the Land of Fire, until Naruto found himself floating in the sky.
He recognized the vast coastal lands below him as the Land of Water, looking down he saw a group of people surrounding a fallen warrior. Their hands desperately trying to breathe life back into the dead man.
Their dead king.
He saw Tsunade desperately crying for him to wake up, Madara fighting back his pain as he channeled more and more chakra in a vain effort to save his brother. There were others: Hatake, Nara, Sarutobi, Aburame, Shimura.
All clans united in their effort to save one man.
He felt his heart break on seeing them in so much pain, and knowing he had caused them only made it worse.
"Death is inevitable, child. It came to all those who came before you and all those who shall come after" announced Shizuka in her same calm voice, but he felt the darkness in her words.
"What was the point of making me see a life you were never going to give me?" asked Naruto furiously, as he felt his blood boil for vengeance.
Shizuka stared at him calmly for a moment before looking back at the weeping people on the earth as their efforts started to fail them and the reality started to sink home.
"You had a destiny, Naruto. You were destined to bring all these clans together. Their unending clash would have resulted in the world's destruction which would have wiped out mankind even before the Otsutsuki ever came. Eventually, it would have destroyed me as well for even I cannot handle the souls of the entire world all together" confessed Shizuka or the death god,
Naruto decided to call her Shizuka only, for calling her anything else disturbed him.
"What do you mean?" he asked,
"Souls are energy and they can never be destroyed. They pass on through time in different shapes and forms. My job is to be their caretaker. Guide each and everyone of them. Reward the good ones, take care of the simple ones and punish the wicked ones. But even I cannot destroy any soul all together. They are eternal. Mortal death is just a small part of a great journey but if the soul is destroyed, only the cold void awaits us all. I believe you have seen it a little" explained Shizuka honestly,
Naruto remembered the darkness and feeling of nothingness he had seen when he had tried to force his Rinnegan to gaze too far into the future. If the void was anything like that, then he wanted to be a thousand miles away from it.
Shizuka sadly smiled at him.
"The Otsutsuki are that void that shall consume every beautiful thing from this world. It shall forever be devoured by the void if they succeed. This war was just the first step in stopping that devastation. You united the world and these people who care for you shall carry on your will. They shall do what is right" promised Shizuka,
Naruto remembered small glimpses of the future he was shown. If even half of it was true, then Tsunade would possibly go ahead with her ideas regarding the Union. Madara would obey his dying wish of ruling over as Regent and looking after his nephew and nieces until they were fit to take charge.
It would not be easy but looking at the clan heads below and the same feeling in their eyes, Naruto could hope it turned out to be true.
"You want something from me, don't you?" he asked knowingly, earning a sorrowful sigh from the priestess.
"I do. The reason I showed you that future was because despite my wish of you helping me stop the Otsutsuki, I cannot force you. Naruto, you are a good soul who lived and died by its honor. It is my duty to assist you in your next journey where you may find peace but even I do not know the future as many believe. You have to choose: To Move on or Linger and be the ghost of a dagger in the Otsutsuki's back"
"Your soul shall continue into a new life if you choose to move on, but if you linger than you shall be allowed freedom to pursue the Otsutsuki with some help from me. You may be alone but your actions might just save them all again" explained Shizuka,
She flinched when he slammed a solid punch into her gut but nodded when she saw the look in his eyes.
"You're a manipulative bastard" accused Naruto, earning a surprising nod in return.
"We fight with the means we have" defended Shizuka,
"I suppose you cannot give me another chance at life for all the good I've done?" asked Naruto with a bitter laugh, as she sadly shook her head.
"Death cannot be undone. Even if I allow you to return, you yourself made the right choice eventually through the small virtual simulation I put you through. Tell me what would be more cruel? That or this?" asked Shizuka, as she pointed at the weeping people on the ground as their efforts finally failed.
Naruto watched their pain and could only imagine what worse pain he might have inflicted on them if he had returned from death, only to go away in search of the Otsutsuki and stop them?
He was the only one with the power to reach them, wherever they were.
He wanted to weep but remembered he had made his choice despite knowing where it would lead him.
He had always fought for his people, no matter how much pain and suffering it got him in return.
He died for them.
Now, even dead he had to protect them from the shadows.
The path of a ninja.
"Tell me, was Shizuka real or just another form of manipulation?" he asked, his concern for his daughters rising back.
The woman smiled.
"This is all but a vessel which I used to interact with you. The choices you and she made on their own. Do not be afraid for your children. They shall be born and the three headed dragon shall rise again" said Shizuka sincerely, as a wistful smile arrived on Naruto's face.
"I wonder how they would be. I wonder how my son would grow when he faces the choice to be an Uchiha or a Senju" wondered Naruto,
"He doesn't have to choose. He shall be an Uchiha and he shall be a Senju" she whispered,
Naruto continued to smile while gazing at the soul he felt inside his wife's belly. In that moment, he felt that connection and the last shackles holding him were shattered. An energy so much like his own.
"Naruto is gone...but The Young Dragon is not"
He nodded as the Shinigami extended his hand towards him. With one final glance at his family, he disappeared to fight his next war.
(Sixteen Years Later)
Hashirama walked through the vast corridors of the royal palace returning each of the greetings from the people nearby with a trained but honest smile. He even gave a nod to a few young Senju guards who saluted him as they passed by him.
He took the stairs and soon reached the top of the tower where he found his last sibling.
He smiled when he saw her standing tall and proud with her beautiful golden hair flowing freely in the air. The crown atop her head suited her and there was a soft smile on her face as she looked down into the courtyard. It was hard for him to believe that Queen Tsunade had barely aged even after these many years, even if she was nearly thirty two years old.
Unfortunately for her, he didn't come to her with good news.
Still, she smiled warmly when she saw him and quickly they were embracing each other. He kissed her forehead affectionately and she gently caressed few of the wrinkles on his forehead.
"You're getting old, brother" she teased with a cheeky grin, making him laugh.
"Not everyone has your beauty" he answered defensively, as she relented with a smile.
They both stepped towards the edge and Hashirama smirked when he saw several young boys and girls training in the courtyard. His eyes easily found his eldest son, Nawaki practicing his fire style jutsu. The boy was nearly fourteen and was a good child, kind and caring. The future of the Senju was safe in him.
His second son, Tobirama battled with his third son Itama. The twins of twelve were engaged in a fierce taijutsu match and had no intention of giving up anytime soon. Their blood red hair a stark proof of their fiery nature, a trait they inherited from their mother, Mito.
On the other side, two beautiful girls were practicing their own art. Unlike the Senju boys, they were extremely pale in complexion giving them an unearthly visage. The elder one had dark black hair and sharp eyes. As the eldest among her siblings, Naori Uchiha was every bit the warrior that her ancestors were.
The other girl had beautiful and long brown hair, a trait she inherited from her father. Hikari Uchiha was busy executing her set of sealing jutsu while trying to fight off her warrior elder sister. Even in the midst of battle, she was smiling cheerfully unlike her sister who had a look of utter concentration on her determined face.
But his breath nearly stopped when he saw one young warrior fighting against three of the most famous ninja of their time.
Shisui, Itachi and Mikoto Uchiha had all gotten older. A lot had changed in their lives, including the marriage of Shisui and Mikoto while Itachi choose the path of solace. What they never gave up on was their promise of protecting and nurturing their family.
It was why they surrounded a young boy with their swords barred.
The boy lunged forward with the legendary sword Dawn in his hands. His handsome blonde hair whistled in the air as he clashed his blade against Shisui with a loud sound. His sharp bluish eyes saw the next attack coming as he used a kunai to block Mikoto's strike. He was broad shouldered and strong, only a little shorter in height than the six feet tall Shisui. He was strong as he held his ground even when both kingsguard pushed him back and created a shadow clone without any hand seals that blocked Itachi from striking him from behind.
Hashirama could not help but feel sorrow and pride well in his chest, as he saw his nephew push off Shisui and Mikoto with a fierce battlecry. The Senju leader didn't miss Tsunade smiling with pride as her son demonstrated her monstrous strength in battle. Itachi had to jump away quickly for the clone blocking his way to his real target exploded.
The young prince lunged after his enemies with a ferocity that Hashirama had only seen in very few warriors.
"He looks so much like his Father" commented Hashirama, as he saw the pale complexion of the prince. The shape of his hair was the same as his father's, but he was far more muscular and tall. His face almost the same as the First Dragon king right down to the very bottom of his lips.
"They call him The Young Dragon" whispered Tsunade, pride and sadness mixed in her eyes.
She had surprised nearly everyone when she chose to name the boy herself. Hashirama had been worried for her safety when the king died, but Tsunade made a lasting positive impression on Madara and the remaining Uchiha with one simple decision by naming her son after their beloved fallen king.
A happy smile came on her lips as she saw her son corner Itachi and Mikoto, while Shisui observed him with a nostalgic look in his eyes.
The sixteen year old boy looked up at his mother's call and his previously fierce look instantly changed into a beaming smile as he ignored all caution and started rushing upwards across the tower wall with a grin.
Within seconds, he reached upstairs and Hashirama opened his eyes with a beaming smile.
Tsunade smiled on seeing her brother hug her only son. Even now, she couldn't help but witness how similar the boy was to his father. But unlike the martyred king, his son grew up in an era of peace. In many ways, Naruto was similar to his father.
He was a great swordsman, the wielder of the Sharingan, a fine commander in training and a leader who took the safety and well being of his people very seriously.
But he was also joyous, honorable and full of life. His smiles always reached his eyes and he always lived life to its fullest. A luxury his father never experienced. A happiness his father gave his life to pass on.
Watching that innocence and hope on her young son's face made Tsunade bitterly respect why her husband gave his life without hesitation. She had nearly given up on life when she failed to revive Naruto, but her family supported her.
Both her families.
She had expected Madara to curse her for her failure in saving his brother, but the Uchiha had seen something in her and in his own strange way encouraged her to fight on, if only for the sake of her son and his nephew.
And he was right.
For this boy became not just her salvation, but Madara's as well.
It had taken only one look at the crying infant for both her and Madara. That moment had broken their hearts but also breathed new life into it. She had imagined of so many names for her child but the first time she looked at him, only one name came to her.
When she had suggested it to her loved ones, Madara had lowered his head fighting back his tears and whispered "Thank you" in a choked voice.
The Dragon king was gone...but Naruto Uchiha was not.
Hashirama created an entire new grove of flowers at the foot of the giant statue that stood as tall as the royal palace and watched over the entire capital. Instead of stone, he had created it from pure wood.
It was a perfect picture of their fallen king. He stood tall and proud, with his traditional golden armor bearing the three headed dragon sigil. His right arm held a massive wooden sword, a pale imitation of Dawn and his face set in eternal determination and courage.
Beneath it were just written five words.
The Young Dragon...Forever Young.
Looking at his nephew standing by his side reminded Hashirama of the time when he had united his clan with the Uchihas and marched to war under King Naruto.
Now another Naruto stood beside him, the boy solemnly stared at the statue of a father he had never known but had heard great tales about from every person he had ever known. Despite their differences, humanity had acknowledged King Naruto for his ultimate sacrifice and even till this day he was cherished as a prized hero.
A legacy his young son found hard to live upto.
"What killed him?" asked Naori, the eldest of the deceased king's children.
Hashirama was aware that the girl knew how Naruto died but her question held a deeper meaning. One which he understood far better than anyone else.
"Loyalty" answered the Senju head solemnly,
He watched Naori clench her fists without betraying any emotion on her stoic face. But her solemn eyes showed the pain in her heart, but as the eldest of her siblings she remained strong.
Hikari, the middle child was more open with her emotions. She had her father's face and his eyes, those very beautiful orbs that were very moist on the anniversary of her father's death.
"What was he like? Our mother never talks about him, nor does Queen Tsunade" whispered Hikari sadly,
Hashirama could understand why those two women behaved as such. Tsunade never admitted it but Hashirama knew she held herself responsible for not being able to save her husband's life. His death broke something in her much to Hashirama's sorrow. It did make her strong enough to become a Queen that kept the world at peace for sixteen years and raise her son alone, but she never remarried or found someone to care for except her only son.
Priestess Shizuka left behind all worldly pleasures, even leaving her own daughters in the care of Madara who accepted the responsibility to honor the memory of his beloved brother.
The two women were never the same after Naruto's death and avoided talking about him to resist stirring up painful memories from the past.
It always made the three children curious about their father. They had heard stories about his conquests and victories, his struggles and defeats, and ultimately his death. But they never knew the kind of person Naruto was which truly saddened Hashirama.
"He was a good man until his last breath, the finest person I ever knew. He felt things deeply than others, he was brave and honorable but with a sharp mind. He never wanted to be King...' admitted Hashirama with a smile, as he recalled the reluctance he had seen in Naruto's mind when they all choose him as their king.
"I find that hard to believe" muttered Prince Naruto with a frown, as he stared at his father with doubt ever present in his eyes. It was no secret to Hashirama that his nephew felt small in comparison to the deeds of his father.
"Your refusal will not change the type of your man your father was, Naruto. He was the best commander I ever followed into battle, he united the world and brought an end to the clan wars era. He fought and defeated the Otsutsuki to save the world from extinction and tyranny. The peace our people and their families enjoy is because of your father's action and sacrifice" reprimanded Hashirama but not unkindly,
Prince Naruto clenched his fist while glaring at his father's statue.
"And what about us, Uncle Hashirama? Our Family? Mother never found the love she deserved, my sisters and I never got to know our Father. Uncle Madara is always so distant despite how much he tries. Believe me, I understand the desire to keep our people safe. As Prince, their lives and well being are my responsibility. But I also owe something to my family and loved ones. How can a man choose between the two?" asked Prince Naruto hesitantly,
Hashirama saw the same question also present in Naori and Hikari's eyes. He had to remind himself that these children had Uchiha blood in them, and like their ancestors they felt emotions more deeply than others. It was necessary to make them understand before they went off in the wrong direction.
"Madara told me that he once heard King Naruto say that...Loyalty was easy to give, but hard to follow through upon. It maybe hard for you three to understand but your father considered not just you all, but entire humanity as his family. You may think he died for the sake of strangers, but his actions were always aimed at also protecting the ones closest to his heart. Your father faced a difficult path and even so Naruto fought honorably until the very end. He never gave up, he never complained, he always lead from the front. My dear nephew, it is easy to speculate over possibilities when we already know the outcome but in every man's life there will come a day when they must make a choice. One day it will come to you as well, just as it came to your father. I hope you are strong enough to make the right decision when the time comes" advised Hashirama,
Hashirama saw his nephew longingly stare at the statue, seeking answers and warmth that should have been his by right but was never received by him. It was why he and Madara had tried their best to be there for these children but for all their efforts and affection, they couldn't replace these children's real father.
In many ways, Naruto had inherited the best and worst from his parents.
Like Tsunade, he was very open with his feelings and often easy to anger. But like his father, he truly cared about his siblings, his family and his people. He could still remember the day when a 13 year old Prince Naruto had rode off to war alongside Madara and his sisters to crush several factions desperate to revive the Clan Wars Era. Tsunade had objected vehemently, her fear of losing another loved one close to her nearly overpowering her judgement.
But she was proven wrong.
The rebels were propagating to the masses that they were being ruled by a broken women and a young boy. They claimed that the alliance between Uchiha and Senju was about to break leading the world into chaos. Their desperate attempts were proven futile when Naruto and his sisters descended upon them with 10,000 Uchiha and Senju fighters, and their bannermen.
Naori had inherited her father's mind for war and had guided her younger siblings under Madara's tutelage. Hikari and Naruto had followed the advise of their eldest sibling and Uncle which ultimately lead them to victory.
It was there that the Prince earned his Sharingan when one of the rebels nearly killed Hikari.
For that aggression, Naruto butchered them to the last man giving no quarter to even the desperate few that tried to surrender in the end.
That day, three years ago and amidst a battlefield full of a corpses that the world accepted that the three headed dragon was still strong.
There were many veterans of the Otsutsuki war who had fought alongside the Prince, and watching him battle had reminded him of their lost king. His victory only increased morale, even to the extent that the people bestowed the same title upon Prince Naruto that they had given to his father.
The Young Dragon.
"I miss him" confessed Hikari, earning a comforting hand on each of her shoulder from her other two siblings.
Hashirama wistfully smiled as the girl's gentle heart reminded him of his own little brother, Itama. Gods, had it been so long?
He could barely remember the faces of his brothers, the sound of their voices, and only knowing that their sacrifice didn't go in vain gave him little solace.
"Where do you think he's now, Uncle Hashirama?" asked Naruto hesitantly, making Hashirama stare at the statue with a faint smile.
"Knowing him, he's off leading another war"
It was dark.
The thundering clouds roared from the skies, the angry sparks of lightning often falling on barren land scarring it even more. The ghostly winds howled wildly echoing the lost voices of all the souls who were forgotten.
The world was dying.
On top of a lonely mountain, five shadows lurked in the darkness observing the massive camp sprawled across the decaying lands.
The sun had deserted this world and so had the stars.
Even the moon was swallowed by the clouds leaving this world in eternal darkness.
Whoever had lived in these lands had long since passed and one touch at the soil was enough to make one understand that the end of this world was near.
"Look at the size of their camp" whispered the first man,
All five of them were garbed in dark swirling shadows that covered them from neck to the legs. It was a gift bestowed upon them to help them accomplish their duty. Their faces always hidden behind demonic masks provided to them by their master.
They were ghosts.
"How many of them are there?" asked the second man, his voice as stoic as ever despite what his eyes showed him.
"Three hundred thousand, perhaps. Brother-" whispered the third one worriedly, earning a sharp look from the previous man.
"I told you not to call me that, fool. Not out here" hissed the white haired man, his demonic mask thankfully hiding most of his furious expression much to the relief of the younger man beside him.
Thankfully, the other two black haired comrades of theirs didn't care enough to get involved.
But the one who had stayed silent so far did the opposite.
"It's been sixteen years, Tobirama"
The said man removed his mask leading to their other comrades doing the same. In the end, their blonde haired leader caste aside his own mask revealing his perfectly bearded face and sharp eyes. Even if one looked at him closely, they would find it hard to recognize him as Naruto Uchiha, The Young Dragon.
He was nothing but a ghost now, just like the rest of them.
Tobirama glared at his younger brother, Itama who had the grace to blush at his mistake. Kagami and Takeshi Uchiha grinned at the banter which earned a faint smile from the deceased king even as they all watched the grave threat in front of them.
"I often forget who we were. It's good to remember even if only for a little while" whispered the king wistfully,
''It took us so long to follow the clues. So many dead planets, so many barren worlds, and now we finally see what's coming for our people." said Takeshi bitterly,
Tobirama frowned at the anger in the Uchiha's voice. Even in death, Takeshi was a hot-headed soul. But for all his faults, Tobirama admired the man's loyalty to his friend and king. Takeshi and Kagami chose to linger on, to keep on fighting and risking their very existence getting destroyed, to keep aiding their king in the final war.
Tobirama had made the opposite choice and had been about to ascend to the next life when he learned about Itama's decision to follow Naruto in his mission to stop the Otsutsuki. Truthfully, Tobirama thought they had done enough, even giving their lives for mankind.
But now after so many years of witnessing the destruction the Otsutsuki had left across the universe, of the scale of destruction and tragedy they had left behind, and witnessing their true power before his very eyes...he had made the correct decision to protect his younger brother and aid his king in this mission.
"What do we do?" asked Kagami curiously,
"The people need to know" answered Naruto honestly,
"We have constantly left behind messages about the Otsutsuki's movements. It may take a year or two for those messages to reach our world, but it should give our people ample time to prepare" suggested Itama, but Naruto shook his head.
"We cannot depend on that. Now that we know the Otsutsuki's strength, we need to prepare them ourselves before it's too late. Itama and Takeshi!" called the king,
The two warriors straightened up on hearing the iron clad voice of their king.
"Itama, contact the Senjus and their allies"
"Takeshi, do the same with the Uchiha and their bannermen"
"We cannot leave anything to chance. Make sure our people are ready and I, Tobirama and Kagami shall do everything in our power to buy them as much of that precious time as we can" ordered the king,
None of his four comrades objected and only gave him grave but determined nods in return.
King Naruto stared at the army before him. He had seen what kind of devastation they left behind on each world, he had seen the terrifying power these Otsutsuki had.
Hinata had been right about that atleast, the Otsutsuki of Earth were a pale imitation of the ones before him.
And there were so many of them.
Yet he had witnessed the way they fought, the way they waged war, the way they butchered their enemies. It took him sixteen years but he never gave up. He and his comrades trailed after them like ghosts observing them from afar and never made contact no matter what.
"I cannot even remember home anymore. My wife and children..." he thought sadly, as all he could remember were her blonde hair and dazzling smile alongwith three loud crying babies.
He looked at his comrades and just like him they were torn as they tried to remember the home they had fought for so long, the people for whom they had forsaken a chance to move on for. None of them could remember the things most important to them but they very well remembered the massive slaughter they had witnessed for so many years across the universe.
They were ghosts.
He watched as Itama and Takeshi got up giving him firm salutes as his eye opened up a space time dimension that would take them back home. Considering, how far they were it would take them another three years to reach Earth.
He glanced at his remaining two comrades with a determined gaze.
"We delay their advance" he decided, as he lifted a dark black colored sword that was capable enough of killing living and even the dead. A gift from Death itself.
"Won't be easy" warned Kagami, but nonetheless he too lifted a similar sword and prepared himself.
"Three ghosts against three hundred thousand or more. We stand alone, Naruto" said Tobirama frankly, never mincing any words but was surprised when a faint smile came across the fallen king's face.
Naruto bit his thumb breaking frozen blood out of his dead skin and placed them upon a skeleton tattoo on his left arm.
Tobirama and Kagami were both surprised when another space time dimension opened around them. At first nothing happened, but then a massive wave came forth until so many corporeal forms were standing in front of them.
Most of them were humans but majority of them had their faces covered in black masks. Cursed souls, destined to do the Shinigami's bidding.
But there were more than a few hundred humans with white masks covering their faces. Pure Souls, that had voluntarily chosen to fight this war.
Tobirama took great satisfaction when he saw quite a few of the dark souls had pale white eyes. The only thing that gave their identity away as the Otsutsuki that were butchered in the last war. It gave the Senju immense pleasure to see those vermin being punished in this way.
There were others in the army as well.
Summoning creatures of all sorts, and one of them stood out from the rest.
The pitch black dragon lowered itself allowing its master to take up position on top. Tobirama grinned and Kagami smiled when the king looked at them with a fierce gaze.
Hashirama waited at the gates of the capital alongside a large retinue which included most of his family and even the royal family. They were patiently waiting for the man to arrive, the most excited among their group were none other than Naori and Hikari.
After all, their adoptive father was about to arrive.
He was brought out of his thoughts when he felt the mass of chakra signatures emerging from the forest.
Hundreds of Northmen came charging forth, all wearing traditional armor of many well known clans. Hashirama instantly spotted the Shimura warriors, alongside many Aburame, but most numerous of them were the Uchiha.
It still astonished him that Tsunade's decision to split off the clans across the elemental nations had worked so well. His sister had done well in bestowing the Land of Lightning to the Uchiha clan and their bannermen. Truth be told, it was a wise decision as their firm ideology and iron fist had made peace prevail in those lands. A tactic that would have not worked in the gentle and more liberal Land of Fire, something which the Senjus and their allies were easily able to manage.
The new arrivals were not alone as the Sarutobi from the Land of Earth marched alongside them, so did the Nara's from the Land of Wind. Even Uzumaki from the Land of Whirlpool and Samurai from the Land of Water were marching towards the gates.
Even a small party from the Dragonlands (The Seat of the Prince) was approaching, Prince Naruto smiled on seeing his best friend leading the small group. Sasuke Uchiha, son of Shisui and Mikoto Uchiha grinned as he was the first to reach the gates and was quickly engulfed by the prince in a fierce brotherly hug. The fact that the boy looked quite similar to Madara's deceased little brother Izuna only reminded Hashirama of the hope they had instilled in their world.
Finally, the skies darkened and Hashirama smirked as he arrived.
People gasped when the familiar visage of the demonic bull headed Susanoo graced the Capital once more. Madara Uchiha had not lost any of his dangerous aura, even if most of his days were spent maintaining order across the Land of Lightning as its ruling lord.
Prince Naruto again smiled as the Susanoo landed, and two people emerged. One was his grim faced dear uncle and the other was one of his dearest cousins. Izuna Uchiha, son of Madara Uchiha was three years younger than his cousin. He was wearing black armor that matched his dark hair and eyes, his skin pale like most of his clansmen and like his father he too held a gunbai at his back. Only the gods knew which woman had given Madara a son, as the man himself never revealed that secret to anyone including his own family.
Hashirama watched Prince Naruto and Izuna approach each other before the older brother sized up the younger one with a smirk.
''You're still in black" teased Naruto,
Hashirama didn't miss the fleeting look of sorrow that passed Madara's eyes on hearing those words before he reined in his emotions and watched his own son shrug.
"Still better than yours" answered Izuna with a grin,
Tsunade smiled on watching her son hug his favorite cousin even as Madara and Hashirama did the same, albeit more quickly in order to not gather any more attention.
She waited another few minutes, exchanging respectful greetings made to her by various lords, including Hiruzen Sarutobi who was the new leader of the Land of Earth. The same greetings were extended to her by a smiling Nagato Uzumaki, and old Mifune while Shikaku Nara, son of Daen Nara and new leader of Land of Wind gave her a lazy bow.
Tsunade presided over the formal meeting and watched every person present in the room. Most of them were men and women she had known her entire life, but there were many new faces as well. They were so young but in them she saw hope for the future.
It made her bitterly understand and remember why her husband sacrificed himself.
Looking at these young children, the future leaders of their world...she could only pray they never saw the horrors that their parents did and could build upon the legacy their ancestors left behind.
She had tried her best to rebuild their world from ashes knowing Naruto would have wanted her to look after their people. She was lucky to some extent, since the world was ravaged by war and destruction, most people were desperate to rebuild their lives and ready to rally behind any who provided that stability.
The Uchiha-Senju alliance was their best hope, so the world followed the two clans with hope in their hearts.
It took nearly a decade to repair the damage left behind by the Otsutsuki and even so the world still had many scars from the last war. Only now their economy was getting back on its feet, human population which had been massacred was now slowly growing again, people were finally able to find some luxury in their lives after years of scarcity in terms of resources. Most of all, the people were still in the process of accepting the destruction the last war had wrecked on them.
Many ninja clans had gone extinct, even the Uchiha and Senju had reached the point of annihilation.
It was why she had encouraged humanity to have more children. It would not only help them regain their lost numbers, but also make them capable enough to face any threats and in a way these children had brought a new light in the lives of Tsunade's generation that had known nothing but war and misery.
It had healed some of the pain they felt for all they had lost.
She looked at her own son and felt pride alongwith sadness sweep her heart. Naruto was sitting beside her and was carefully interacting with Hiruzen and Nagato. Watching him laugh at something Hiruzen said brought a smile on her face. But it also made her worried about her only child.
He was a good boy, if a little strange at times just like his Father.
She had never imagined her son inheriting so much of his Father's looks or live his life on few of the principles which her husband had lived and died by. He had displayed those traits very directly when he ignored her pleadings and had marched to war a few years ago against the rebels. Just like King Naruto, his son who bore the same name couldn't sit back and watch threats being made against his people.
Her son had ignored the advise of his eldest stepsister as well. Princess Naori was good at war and had displayed her skill quite a few times during the Rebellion War. She had advised her only brother to not lead from the front at the risk of his own life, and the girl had been right. Naruto was the only heir to the throne. He carried both Uchiha and Senju blood in him, a part of both families that indirectly also earned him the loyalty of the bannermen of both great clans. It was that power that had kept the world at peace.
If something happened to him, then that alliance would shatter. Tsunade had to remind herself that the only way the war between those two clans had been stopped was through her marriage to King Naruto.
It was why she had to keep her son safe for as long as she lived, not just as his mother but also as Queen of the Seven Nations.
"Lord Madara, may I ask as to why you called for this meeting?" asked Shikaku Nara, bringing Tsunade out of her thoughts and glance at her quiet brother-in-law.
The years had changed the eldest son of Tajima Uchiha.
Tsunade could not help but sympathize with the veteran Uchiha who had lived an even tougher life than hers and many other people in the room. He lost three brothers during the Clans Wars Era, witnessed the demise of his fourth and last brother alongwith most of his clan during the Otsutsuki war, was left alone with the responsibility of leading the Uchiha and their bannermen when Lord Tajima died a year later after the end of the Otsutsuki war swallowed by grief over the death of his sons, his sister and most of his clan.
She had felt extremely guilty of handing over the control of the Land of Lightning to Madara when he was at his lowest. She had feared he would lash at her out for trying to throw his remaining people and bannermen from the Land of Fire which had always been their home. But to her surprise, Madara had seen reason and had accepted her decision and went North. He untied those lands and its people, helped them rebuild their lives alongwith repopulating the Uchiha clan by having a son of his own and encouraging others to do the same. Madara had been the first to answer the call when Prince Naruto had called his banners against the rebels and had made sure the young boy and his sisters returned from the war alive.
In a way, Tsunade guessed Madara was desperate not to lose the last legacy of his beloved brother.
Her decision to split off the most powerful clans across the world had worked much to her surprise. But then again, she had only given command of various nations to only the most loyal clans. It would be upto her son and his descendants of future to make sure they remained loyal every generation. It would not be an easy task but it was the best solution she could come up with at that time all those years ago.
The Land of Lightning, the northern most nation of the world was ruled by the Uchiha with the support of their bannermen. It was the second largest nation after the Land of Fire and was the military powerhouse of humanity. Some of their finest warriors had emerged from that nation under Madara's command.
The Land of Earth, ruled by the Sarutobi clan was rich in minerals and resources. That had proved extremely beneficial for the growth of humanity. The Sarutobi were men of honor and strength, something which the people of Land of Earth respected. They ruled those lands with the support of minor ninja clans and had a decent industry and military force.
The Land of Wind was a different story. Lacking most critical resources and military strength, it was the weakest among all nations. It's people lived a tough life and were the most dangerous, it was why she had tasked the Nara clan to rule those lands. Their intelligence and cunning had kept the most problematic enemies at bay, but even then the rebellion had started from those lands. Thankfully, the other nations had understood the plight of the Nara's and when Prince Naruto called his banners for their aid, the full might of the other six nations descended upon the rebel forces crushing them completely. The Nara clan was doing well in rebuilding the nation after that conflict, but tensions were still high there.
The Land of Fire was the wealthiest and most prosperous among all nations. It was not just the bread-basket of the world with its rich fertile lands but also contained the most precious of resources in forms of Gold, Diamonds, and even Iron. The Senjus ruled most of the nation with the support of their bannermen and only the Capital alongwith its surrounding lands were ruled by the Royal family. Hashirama had maintained the peace and helped his people prosper, the population of this nation was the highest alongwith its economy which was why it had the largest military force in the world.
The Land of Water, previously home to the now deceased Otsutuski clan and their allies had long been shrouded in misery. But when Tsunade gave those lands to the Samurai and Hanzo's followers, it finally brought peace to those lands. While not as prosperous as the Land of Fire or military strong like the Land of Lightning and Earth, the Land of Water was stable enough with a growing economy and a decent army of honor bound Samurai.
The Land of Whirlpools, ruled by the Uzumaki was also a prosperous and wealthy nation. The Uzumaki clan had rebuilt their lands with vigor and determination, and their lands were considered to be the home of some of the most intellectual people of the world. The Uzumaki clan had developed the world in leaps with their military as well as civilian innovations. It had earned them great wealth and fame, alongwith envy. But for now, they were stable and while not a powerhouse in terms of military power...they were still important for growth and peace across the world.
The Dragonlands was the smallest among all nations. They were a group of 50 large and small islands off the coast of the Land of Fire and Water. While not as prosperous as other nations, it was home to the largest naval and merchant fleets of the world. It was under the direct rule of the Royal family and seat of the Crown Prince. Those islands were thankfully able to sustain themselves and their trade fleets had provided very valuable services to various nations. It had earned quite a lot of wealth for Tsunade and her son while their naval fleet had proven quite helpful during the Rebellion by providing crucial logistical support while also transporting warriors from far off nations like the Land of Water.
Somehow, these seven nations had helped humanity find its feet again after the Otsutsuki war and given them all the stability and peace they desperately needed.
But Tsunade also remembered that peace was fragile and fleeting. One wrong move could ignite the sparks of war once more. Most of humanity considered her to be one of the most intelligent rulers in history, but in truth she had only used a page from her deceased husband's war strategies. She had been by Naruto's side when he delegated command to various officers and family members during the war. He had always chosen the most loyal ones to lead while always delegating the most intelligent or cunning ones in advisory positions. A clear example of that fact was him choosing Madara to lead half of his army during the Otsutsuki war, while delegating secondary command to a shrewd Tobirama Senju.
Tsunade had mimicked her husband's decisions and chosen the most loyal lords to rule and keep peace across the world. But she always stayed vigilant, keeping careful eye on all of them including the Senju clan for the hearts of men were always uncertain. She had not tried to micromanage any of the nations apart from the Dragonlands which was under her direct rule. She had allowed her loyal lords to rule their lands with their own philosophy while providing aid when required. It had earned her the respect and loyalty of the lords sitting in this room, while making her extremely beloved to the common population for it was due to her decisions that they got peace.
She could only hope her son could keep this peace after she was gone, but she planned to help him be ready for his responsibility.
"Three years ago, the Uchiha clan received a message that unxplainably was etched into one of our holy shrines" said Madara hesitantly, as if the very words were still alien to him.
"What did the message say?" asked Hiruzen Sarutobi, echoing everyone's thoughts.
"They are coming"
The room froze.
Tsunade herself controlled her emotions while gauging those of the other lords and their children. Most seemed shocked, some younger clan heirs even disbelieving. Even her own son seemed skeptical of his uncle's claims, something he never often did.
"It could be a hoax, Lord Madara. Even the Otsutsuki records we found in the Land of Water estimated the one true enemy's arrival atleast a few more decades later" argued Shikaku Nara defensively, but Tsunade already saw the gears churning in the sharp man's mind.
Madara nodded if a bit reluctantly, his grim mood becoming even more darker. An expression mirrored by his own son.
"At first, I thought so. Someone's poor attempt to plunge our world back into the flames of war, but a few months later another message appeared. This one providing images of a world that is not ours" said Madara hesitantly,
His son, Izuna got up from his seat and distributed a few pictures across the room. When Tsunade received a copy, she had to again control her emotions. Before her was the image of a snowy world ruined by war, even from this brief picture she could see the lands were devastated to the point of beyond return. The very earth itself was dying alongside the corpses of strange little bug like creatures that were never before seen on Earth.
Another picture was passed to her and this one took her breath away.
Five shadows in the shape of humans were present on the very same destroyed snowy world. Their faces and bodies hidden by masks and shadow like cloaks, but she felt her heart stop on seeing one of them having blonde hair and another with pale white hair.
Her gaze caught Madara, followed by Hashirama's and then her own son...all of whom were shocked.
"Few of them look very similar, Madara" said Hashirama hopefully,
"I didn't want to believe it at first but another message came a year later and this time it had information about the numbers in the enemy's vanguard, their battle tactics, and alongwith some of their strengths. It's beyond anything the majority of our ninjas can handle" confessed Madara, as he handed off the last images in his possession.
It carried a last message as well.
"They come. We shall do what we can, for as long as we can to buy you time. Unite and face them or mankind shall perish like the inhabitants of destroyed worlds across the universe"
By now, the room had gone deathly silent.
"If this is true..." whispered Hiruzen, a small hint of fear creeping into his voice.
"Then we're fucked. I am hard pressed to consider this to be true as the technology of photography is still being perfected by my clan and would take another year before we can pass it on the world. Either our supposed allies stole this technology and are helping us out or this is another rebel faction looking to create discontent and anarchy" explained Nagato, much to the distress of the other ninja leaders.
"Madara is this who I think it is?" asked Tsunade hesitantly, her gaze still affixed on the blonde man and the one with white hair. Even the one with brown hair seemed to hit something in her heart.
"King Naruto was the only one in our world with the ability to move across time and space. I can think of no one other than my brother with the power and will to do what is right for his people. Even after death" answered Madara, pride easily present in his voice alongwith sadness and hope.
"This man beside the king looks like Tobirama, and this one like Itama" proposed Hashirama, a smiling etching across his face.
"The other two seem like Kagami and Takeshi. But we cannot be sure" whispered Mikoto in surprise, earning a nod from her husband Shisui as well.
"I don't think any of this is true. These men are dead and we have never tried something horrible like the Otsutsuki had done to bring them back. The Samurai are of the belief that this is the evil desire of chaotic shinobi wishing to start another war by playing at our feelings. I must say they are pretty smart as they are hitting you all where it hurts most, family" warned Mifune, earning a nod from Hanzo as well.
That seemed to dampen the spirits of most people in the room, as hard rationality and reality threatened to crush the faint hopes once more.
"It is true, my queen. Our world is not ready for war and the civilians will revolt against us if we threaten their peace with another conflict. The memory of the Rebellion is still fresh in many hearts and might just erupt into an inferno if we make hasty decisions" warned Shikaku Nara,
Tsunade was about to argue when her son slowly got up from his seat attracting everyone's gaze. He looked at her for permission and she saw the keen desire to take charge of this situation. She hesitated, wondering if it was the right choice but in the end consented because if this information was true then Naruto would have to lead their race just as his father had in the last war, who still fought for their well being even after death.
"You're right, Lord Shikaku and Lord Mifune. Our peace is too fragile and our subjects too hesitant for another war. In that sense, I can understand not making any hasty decisions" said Prince Naruto, his voice every bit like his Father's had been.
Madara seemed disappointed and was about to protest when his nephew looked directly at him.
"But we also cannot dismiss this threat lightly. We all know that the Otsutsuki shall come to destroy our world, it maybe now or a few decades later but every evidence we have shows one harsh truth...they are coming" argued Prince Naruto, earning a grim nod from Madara and his son. Even Hashirama relented after a few long moments.
"Then what do you want us to do, my prince?" questioned Hiruzen seriously,
"Call the banners"
Shocked gasps escaped across the room, Tsuande's among them. Only Madara grinned with barely hidden pride visible across his grim face.
"All of them?" asked a distressed Shikaku Nara, already imagining the backlash this would cause across the ever unstable Land of Wind.
"No. That would be too risky, start with preparing your own individual clansmen first. If we discover more merit to this threat, only then we can escalate this to a full scale crisis. A small military buildup would not raise much questions considering the memories of the Rebellion is still fresh in many minds. We should also prepare our economy for war, with winter coming we can justify this as a preventive action in stopping scarcity of food, water and critical resources. In the meanwhile, I shall form a small elite force that would investigate this threat. I would request all of your support by providing me the finest men and women from your families"
Tsunade was stunned.
She watched many faces across the room and she was not alone in her feelings. Madara and Hashirama seemed proud of their nephew, so was Hiruzen Sarutobi for they were men who understood war better than others in the room. Meanwhile, Lord Shikaku, Lord Nagato and Lord Mifune seemed conflicted already imagining the ramifications behind this move.
In this moment, she could clearly see her son had inherited both hers and his father's traits.
He lead from the front but also had an understanding of human hearts and minds, characteristics passed on by his mother and father.
But, just because he was thinking on the right path didn't mean that others would agree with his judgement. People had followed King Naruto because their very existence was threatened, now having endured a long peace...few were opposed to going back to the old days of war.
"I'm sorry to say this but you're being too hasty, my prince. The Samurai do not agree with this decision, I cannot in good conscience allow my people to be a part of this" replied Mifune flatly, making Tsunade clench her fists and many eyes to harden for the open defiance.
To everyone's surprise, Prince Naruto smiled.
A cold and ruthless smile.
"That is your right, Lord Mifune. But if war truly comes to our world then I will not raise a single sword in the defense of the Land of Water. Nor can I continue to allow the subsidies the crown has granted your people over the years any longer, considering you are not inclined to defend your fellow men" said Prince Naruto coldly, hard eyes remaining steady even as the furious and cold gaze of the Samurai leader gazed upon him.
"We served your Father, boy. The subsidies you grant us are not out of the goodness of your heart but because your mother took the ancestral lands of my people and ordered us to populate the Land of Water. We served your father, and then your mother loyally without question. Is this how you reward loyalty?" asked Mifune fiercely,
Naruto clenched his jaw and was about to give a befitting reply but his eldest sister cut him off.
"My Father always believed that the Samurai were honorable...more loyal" said Naori pointedly,
Madara smiled at his niece's harsh words struck Mifune deeply. For all their faults, the Samurai were a proud people. Having raised the girl and her sister, he knew Naori may have inherited Naruto's mind for war but in many ways her temperament was just like Madara's.
The same could not be said of her younger sister who was of a more gentle heart, a fact she displayed as she looked at Mifune with hopeful look that could have melted even the most hardened men.
"My brother does not wish war upon your people, but only the Samurai and Shinobi together were able to stop Hinata Otsutsuki. The way we think are different but in the end we are all human. We must stay united, Lord Mifune" urged Hikari gently,
Mifune glanced at the other lords and saw most didn't agree with him but the Prince. A few like Shikaku who had doubts were smart enough to keep their doubts to themselves. He then looked at Hanzo, and his old friend gave him a careful nod which made Mifune sigh.
"The Samurai have followed the Crown loyally for years, we will not break faith today" declared Mifune reluctantly, but made sure to intently stare at the prince making sure to let the boy know that he would be held personally responsible and suffer repercussions if he dragged the Samurai into a needless conflict.
Thankfully, the boy gave a curt but respectful nod in return which was much better than giving false promises which he couldn't keep.
"Northern families are loyal, Naruto. They'll fight for you if you want" promised Madara, earning a wide smile from his nephew.
"So shall the South and all its families" promised Hashirama fiercely, earning a grateful nod from Tsunade.
"The Land of Earth stands behind you, my prince" pledged Hiruzen honestly,
"Troublesome, I don't like it but needs to be done. I'll rally what support I can from my troublesome lands...just don't be too hasty, my prince" said Shikaku hesitantly, earning chuckles from many in the room including the prince.
"Hn, I don't need to say this but the Dragonlands shall stand behind you" promised Sasuke Uchiha with a smirk, earning a smile from his mother Mikoto and a tired sigh from his father Shisui at the boy's dramatic and informal pledge.
All eyes turned upon Nagato Uzumaki who gave a faint smile to the Prince.
"You remind me of your Father, my prince. In many ways you are like him but I see some of your mother in you as well. We are kin by blood and the Uzumaki owe your father a debt we can never repay. We shall support our family like we always have" promised Nagato with a smile,
Tsunade watched her only son with pride and fear in her heart as he gave a respectful nod to all those who had supported his decisions.
Her heart nearly broke when Izuna Uchiha got up from his seat. It was no secret the boy admired his cousin and made no secret of the fact when he raised his own sword and yelled the title that brought happy and painful memories in Tsunade's heart.
"THE YOUNG DRAGON!"
Soon enough, the hall was filled by enthusiastic cheers for the prince and his nickname. Most of the praises came from his own generation who for all their effort couldn't hide the fact that they saw a chance to step outside of their parent's shadow and earn glory for themselves by following the Prince.
While Tsunade and her generation could not be so cheerful as unlike their children they had seen war, and there was no glory in it.
Only pain and heartbreak.
One which most of the older generation felt clearly when they saw a boy so similar in mind and appearance as their fallen king be accepted as the leader of the next generation.
They all could still remember the day, all those years ago when the proclaimed another man by the same title, and one fact became very clear to their generation.
Wars may start and die.
Kings may rise and fall.
But The Young Dragon shall live on forever in the hearts of those who yearned for freedom.
Madara watched his son, nephew and nieces having a good time alongside children of other ninja lords in the royal gardens. A sight that evoked a smile from his dear friend Hashirama and a worried glance from Tsunade.
"He's just a boy. They all are" chastised Tsunade,
Madara grunted in disapproval while staring at his sister-by-law seriously. There were many things she was better at than him, most impressively in keeping the prickly and nervous ninja lords united. Not to mention the civilians loved her and she was a shinobi at that.
But this was something where she was wrong.
"They won't be boys forever. It's better they grow up now than in the flames of war, like we all did" rebuked Madara, earning a tired sigh from Hashirama.
"That is not what we wanted for our children, Madara. We fought and sacrificed so hard to give them a peaceful future, not more wars to fight and die in" said Hashirama bitterly,
Both Senjus were disappointed when Madara remained unmoved and stared back at them without backing down reminding them of the Uchiha stubbornness they had sometimes forgotten due to how far their people lived from each other now.
"Do you really think he's out there?" asked Tsunade, the hope in her voice not missed by Madara and her brother.
"I don't have any definite proof but I believe my brother is too stubborn and honorable to risk his people's fate when he can do something. Those who follow him are of the same heart, including your brothers. I respect them all for their strength and I hope one day I can see them again. In life or death" whispered Madara earnestly,
"So do I" agreed Hashirama, earning a silent nod from his sister as well.
Madara glanced at his nephew currently laughing alongside his son. While his own mother and uncle didn't think him to be strong enough, Madara knew the boy was his father's son and provided the right guidance he would rise up to the responsibility of leading mankind once more.
"I couldn't protect my brothers...but I will protect them. Even if it costs me everything" promised Madara fiercely,
Hashirama was pleased to see the promise Madara had made was not just by looking at his own family but the Senju children and the other clan children as well. The Uchiha lord was a strong man and sometimes difficult to understand, but he was the best friend Hashirama had ever known.
A man who always spoke harsh but honest words.
It was why the two Senju siblings couldn't help but reluctantly agree to the Uchiha's next words.
"There's a war coming. I don't know how soon...but it is coming" said Madara with a feral grin that sent shivers down the Senju's hearts as they saw the old warrior flare back to life.
"It's not a matter of smiling, Madara" rebuked Tsunade, and saw her own brother agreed with her sentiment not that it mattered to the Uchiha who clenched his fist.
"How are the Biju?" he asked seriously, looking directly into Hashirama's eyes intently.
"All of them have reformed again. The Kyuubi has so far managed to keep them calm and isolated in the mountains of my lands but it would be best if they are not called for aid until necessary. Many people still resent them for the destruction and death they caused to humanity in the Otsutsuki war. Even if it was against their will, it doesn't matter for humans are a vengeful race" warned Hashirama, earning a grunt from his best friend.
"I don't trust them but my brother did. The fox promised my brother that he would come to the aid of his son and his descendants when the Otsutsuki clan truly arrived for war. I hope the beast is honest in keeping its promises, or else I'll drag all nine of them kicking and screaming out of whatever shitty caves they are hiding in" warned Madara, voice grave and dark which made Tsunade shiver.
Fortunately, her brother knew how to deal with his friend better than her.
"Let's hope we don't reach that point. In the meantime, you need to keep King Naruto's Rinnegan safe. We will only use it in the direst of situations" cautioned Hashirama,
It was not much of a promise but for now it was enough to pacify Madara who stared back at the vast Land of Fire around them. He had never been able to take his brother's eye, no matter how powerful that dojutsu was. Some even say it allowed a man to gaze into the future, but Madara had seen enough horrors to be content to live in the present.
He only knew that if he had taken his brother's eye, he would have gone mad from grief seeing the world with his brother's eye and remembering how Naruto's life had been sacrificed for the greater good. No, it didn't belong to him and which was why he had kept it safe to pass on to his brother's son if he required it. He was even willing to limit the use of his own Mangekyo eyes thereby evading blindness all these years. What was to say? He was a stubborn man.
"Still another war. We barely survived the last one and not without severe losses. We might have rebuilt our world and our armies, but we are not at our best. The fighters of our forces are mostly young men and women lead by a quarter of grizzled veteran of old wars. Many warriors chose to retire after the Otsutsuki war, many more after the Rebellion. Only the most stubborn, suicidal and craziest have stayed on the path of a shinobi" warned Tsunade, earning a smirk from Madara.
"We'll fight with what we have. It's better to have a small group of lions at your side than a horde of sheep" rebuffed Madara nonchalantly, earning a sigh from his best friend.
"It's not worth the cost" bemoaned Hashirama, his reluctance and sorrow visible for his friend and sister to witness.
Madara steeled himself ignoring the small bout of fear and hesitation in his own heart as he stared at the next generation, his world and all that he held dear in his hardened heart.
"One day we'll crush those pale eyed bastards. It won't be easy and it won't be without sacrifices but we can win. Together, we all shall bring Fire and Blood upon the Otsutsuki clan and burn them all in the Fury of mankind" promised Madara with so much conviction that it earned him grim nods from the two Senjus beside him.
Madara glanced at the skies beyond which the vast universe and somewhere out there was their eternal foe marching towards them.
His words echoing his promise across the universe.
"One day, the final enemy of mankind shall fall"
Explosions thundered all across the destroyed lands.
A pale eyed man with long white hair stepped out of his tent observing and smiling at the chaos around him. Towards the perimeter of their large settlement, the battle was being fiercely fought between his own forces and the enemy.
He gazed far and wide with his pale eyes, only to be surprised by the new enemy before him.
They were...interesting, to say the least.
But his gaze hardened when he saw them use attacks that screamed a mastery over chakra. A power which only belonged to his kind and not the vermin across the universe. The stupid bitch Kaguya had betrayed them, but it was only going to be a minor nuisance in their eternal conquest.
Still, it was going to be an interesting challenge in crushing creatures that not just looked similar to his own people, but also were able to mimic their powers at a pitiful level.
As the battle raged on, he saw a blonde haired warrior fiercely lead his small army, shockingly crushing the outer most guard force of the Otsutsuki with ease. On his lips was a simple battlecry that seemed to urge his forces to fight even harder and more fiercely.
It also gave the Otsutsuki king a name to his enemy's home.
Author's Notes: End of story.
Hope you guys liked it, I know I enjoyed writing it.
Man: 300,000 words; didn't think I would be able to write another story of such length.
Took some time writing this epilogue as I needed to cover quite a few angles.
Yes, King Naruto is dead. It was already decided even before I wrote the first word for this story. I liked the Clan Wars Era arc immensely as I saw so much world building potential but hated the way Madara went astray. I imagined what if Madara had something worth fighting for, what if he lost the same or more in life but became strong enough to be the man Hashirama believed him to be.
That's where Naruto came in, because I knew his character could even sway someone like Madara given enough time and emotion and I hope this story showed that relationship between brothers.
In a way, Naruto is gone. But his legacy lives on in the form of his son and the currently stable ninja world, not saying what he built is the perfect solution but it seems to be working for his people currently.
I'll honestly admit that a lot of aspects of this fic have been inspired from GOT and LOTR, and I'm not ashamed of it because those two worlds are the closest I could take an inspiration for the Clan Wars Era.
Naruto's actions left a lasting impact on his world and the people around him. He made a difference even if it costed him his life, he never gave up and died believing that the next generation would be capable enough to lead mankind. In that manner, his ideals are similar to Cannon Naruto.
But another aspect of his character that I tried to co-relate with the way Cannon Naruto suffered at the hands of Konoha was the incident where he was forced to kill his own clansmen. That inspiration came to me by watching a tribute video on Youtube about Jaime Lannister from GOT.
As for the way Naruto fought battles and lead his war, I might have dropped quite a few hints about it throughout the story. For those who didn't realize, a major aspect of Naruto's character was inspired from Robb Stark. Both men never expected to be king, were forced to lead their people through war, never lost any battles (Except one in Naruto's case), had a choice of marrying for duty, and ultimately had to die for their cause. It's a tragic tale, but one that I found fitting because I want the next generation to take up and build upon Naruto's legacy.
One of the guest readers mentioned that I get few readers because of my dark stories. I admit they are darker than most fics out there, but it's the way I like it. For better or worse, I love what I write and there can be no alternative to that.
Still, I've left room for a sequel and enough space for our dear Naruto to make cameo appearance here and there. But if I write a sequel, then it'll be from the perspective of Naruto's son whom I also couldn't help giving the same name. It just felt right.
Well, I've said enough and hope I answered some of your questions. If you have any others, feel free to PM me.
I'll be taking a short break from writing, let's say two weeks and even longer from Naruto stories. This is my fifth story that I have completed and let me tell you it's a herculean task. I made a promise to my readers to finish it, and it took some time but I kept that promise.
If you want to check out my other stories, feel free to do so.
For the time being, my focus will shift towards completed my Game of thrones fic "Wolves and Crows", my Naruto/Mass Effect crossover "Shadows", and my Naruto/Attack on Titan crossover "Humanity's Last Stand". If you want to read more of my work then feel free to check out these stories or my other completed Naruto fics, I also have a Code Geass fic though I haven't managed to update it for quite some time, something which I'll try to rectify now that this story is over. I might even write down the final part of my Namikaze Legend series, gods I need to finish that trilogy...I can be a lazy bastard at times, hehe.
And to those selected few who'll bitch about me promoting my other stories, it's not a crime and unlike many authors I do complete my fics so it's fair in my opinion.
Since it's the last time, please let me know your experience with this story through Reviews or PM, whatever you prefer.
Until Next Time,
PS: Thank you so much for the awesome support! It's been a good ride guys.