A/N:

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About updating more. . . I'm enjoying my summer way too much. So updates will be as they normally are: Once a month. Maybe twice. Sorry, y'all. But chapters will still be in the 5,000-10,000 word-count.

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Enjoy.

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The Sacrificed Disciple

-Chapter Twenty Nine-


"I see and act like I don't see, but I saw."

-Unknown


My head was pounding.

My eyelids felt heavy as I struggled to wake. When I did, I swayed inches above the ground and watched as tall grass passed by from movements against my will. My body twitched a bit as I regained control of my senses and within the same moment, I was dropped on the ground.

I crouched up to see. . . Kiyoshi-sama a few feet away.

"Good," she hummed. "You're awake." She turned to regard me. Her red gaze faded into grey as she deactivated her sharingan. She flicked back thick strands of her purple hair. "It took you about five minutes to break the layers of genjutsu I weaved in front of you." She quirked a brow that was in a similar color to her hair. "We can work with that."

I blinked as I stood to my full height before I gave a low bow in respect. "Hai, Kiyoshi-sama." I brushed away stray grass from my knees, but it did little to remove the stains.

"My name is Uchiha Naori. When we are here, you will refer to me as Naori-sama." She tilted her head. "I'm sure you have questions."

Taking that as permission, I asked, "What's the reason for. . .?" I trailed off as I took the time to study her young features. She looked to be in her forties. The subtle signs of crow's feet were visible as she narrowed her eyes at me and smirked.

"There are many reasons, for students such as yourself, for me," she drawled. "I've had many assassins in the past. The illusion of my disguise is to my advantage." A small, knowing smirk drew on her lips. "Take it at face value."

I gave a small nod.

"We will continue your training tomorrow. It will be similar in nature."

I understood the assignment, but something within me still itched. The eagerness must have shown on my face because a look of amusement passed on her features. "You'll get your chance to fight me, boy. But until you learn how to keep up, things will continue to feel. . . stagnant."

"I understand," I paused before saying her name. "Naori-sama."

"Good. There is nothing we can do with your state as it is. Rest." With those words said, she shunshined away. It took a while for me to arrive home, but the minutes that passed as I limped home were spent with my mind in the clouds.

The dull aches and pains throughout my entire body were a pleasing reminder that I was advancing. Although my strength was limited due to my physical disadvantage, I knew that this would only pave the way to endless possibilities as I grew. Still, I couldn't help the lingering doubt in my mind. It was always a whisper away. If I gave it attention it would grow into a festering parasite that would make me into the vulnerable child that I felt like at times.

When I died as a teenager, I thought the darkness would be my end. It wasn't. As I look back at my first life, I knew it wasn't much. Being weak in my first life meant being coddled, protected. The only thing I had to survive was cancer, and I failed. This life, as Itachi's twin, felt more alive to me then I ever did in my past life. Not because I could breathe well without coughing blood, or because I had chakra. . . But because I was experiencing things I haven't experienced before from meager things like drinking tea and eating anpan with friends to surviving. It was as if it was all I knew to do.

Survive.

"Again," Naori-sama repeated as I would collapse on the dewy grass and shut my eyes tightly as they pulsed. It felt as if I looked at the sun too long. Black specks marked my vision when I used my sharingan longer then I was used to. But despite my eyes aching as if I was squinting in the dark for too long, I would get up. Again, Naori-sama's voice echoed.

And I engaged her again.

Survive.

"It seems you're becoming familiar with reading chakra signatures to detect the real one," Naori-sama mentioned as she casually lounged on a high branch within the obscurity of the darkness created from swaying leaves. I stood to the side of the large bark of the tree. My tanto hummed with chakra encased in a thin layer around the blade. It reached her neck. A couple more inches, and her head would be lopped off.

"But it's not enough," her voice distorted, and my eyes shifted. My body moved on its own as I felt her presence behind me. I blocked her own sword with my own.

She hummed. "What is feeding your vigor, boy?"

I met her smile with a small one of my own.

Survive.

"You have mastered the second tomoe of your sharingan," Naori-sama observed.

My vision was so pristine that I could see the reflection of my eyes through her own under the starry night. I did in fact have three tomoe instead of two. I felt the shift when I easily blurred through her targeted genjutsus and engaged the real Naori-sama into a fight. But because I've broken through her genjutsu, and engaged Naori-sama herself, I easily got my ass handed to me.

Not before she entertained me, however. I looked back to the scorched earth behind me, then back to her. "Has my time ended with you, Naori-sama?"

"It has." She folded her hands before her until they were hidden by her large sleeves. "It is up to you how you mold your sharingan to adapt to your specialties. Especially now that you can engage the abilities your crow summons can offer. The earlier you master your sharingan the stronger you'll be in the future. That is a fact." She regarded me with a blank face, but something in the depths of her eyes lingered in a way that made me uncomfortable as she observed me.

"It feels odd to leave you," I admitted after some hesitation. "At first, I thought I would learn powerful genjutsu from you, not how to see through it. I realize now that for my genjutsu to be powerful, it can't be so easily penetrated." It was why reading chakra signatures was so important.

She studied me for a moment. Her face held no emotion despite her carefully picking her words, "It puzzles me how such a brat like you can be mature when the time calls for it." I felt my expression fall at her comment, and I mimicked her own.

She smirked as she saw my unreadable expression. "You must have been wise in your past life," she concluded with a tilt of her head. I blinked, not sure whether she was teasing me or being serious. Not at all, I wanted to say.

My nose wrinkled because it felt like she was reading too closely then I felt comfortable with. "Yeah. . . sure. I think the illusion got to your head with you acting like an old hag all this time," I muttered, deflecting from her thoughtful observations of me.

"Heh." She thumped the top of my head as she usually would do when I would speak informally to her. The action was without reprimand, however. I must have really grown on her these past few months. "Cheeky brat," she muttered.

I walked her to her shack of a house and casually asked, "Is it cool if I come visit you sometimes? Ya know, to make sure you haven't croaked."

"Just because I warmed up to you doesn't mean you can come bother me when you feel like it, and that's Naori-sama to you." She thumped me on the back of my head as she walked up the stairs. "You'll be busy from now on. I heard your sensei is back in town."

My eyes widened, and I brightened at the thought. "Yuki-sensei? You know him, Naori-sama?"

She hummed. "When you see him, send him my regards. Let me know how he reacts." Her gaze shifted to me before she disappeared. I understood that as permission to come visit her whenever I wanted.

The following day, I showed Itachi the fruits of training with Naori-sama.

Itachi ducked his head to look up at my three tomoe, using my head to block the rising sun behind me.

"The sharingan comes naturally to you, ototo," Itachi praised with a kind smile.

I blinked at him in surprise. I never really thought about it like that, but perhaps it was true. After all, Itachi passed Naori-sama's training with two tomoe. He also gained his sharingan after I did. Although that wasn't much of a difference in time since he awakened his sharingan when he saw me half-alive on a hospital bed.

"To you too, nii-san."

"The stronger you grow, the stronger I will have to grow too," he admitted out loud. It went unsaid that Itachi's motivation matched mine if only to protect me.

I hugged Itachi close to myself. "How about some tea?" I suggested. "I still have a little bit of money left over from my last mission."

He smiled and allowed me to drag my weight beside him. The day was relaxing as we overlooked the Nara forest at the veranda of the small tea shop. The young oba-san came out with a platter of dango and set it on the mat between my twin and me.

"It is a pleasure to see you again, Asuya-kun," She smiled at me before she nodded to Itachi in greeting.

"Do you come here often, ototo?" Itachi inquired after the lady left.

"Yes. My team and I would usually come here after missions." I thought back to Naori-sama mentioning Yuki-sensei. If he was really back from his hiatus in the Black ops, then I would be hearing from him soon. It was usually routine that Yuki-sensei took us on missions between his own classified ones. They would often be D-rank. I wondered if Shinko and I could convince him to get a C-rank for us.

"My team and I usually eat at Shinku-sensei's house with Kurenai."

"Mm," I hummed. "How is your training?"

Itachi vaguely explained that he was improving. There wasn't much we could say without the protection of the crows in the forest, but we still conversed until it was time for Itachi to go train with his team.

I wasn't alone for long as I sought out Shinko in the Konoha Library. She was barely leaving the building when I casually stumbled upon her. "Oh, Shinko-chan. What a coincidence!"

She quirked a brow in my direction as I lounged on top of the railing that led down the steps in front of the building. "Sure," she drawled out in visible amusement. She tucked the scrolls she checked out more comfortably under her arm. "How's training going?"

"It went well," I vaguely answered. "I mastered my second tomoe and gained my third one."

"Cool." She grinned. "Ibiki-san has been showing me the ropes in the T&I department. I think. . . I think I have a good chance of becoming his student!" Her eyes brightened in happiness.

My eyes widened. "That's terrifying."

She scoffed and playfully nudged my shoulder with the side of her body. I smiled. "At first I deciphered codes as a volunteer like those guys from the Chunin Exams?" She looked at me in question to see if I remembered. I nodded. "But when he saw that I was on the roster, he began to take me under his wing. To the point where I'm helping a team draw up psychological profiles of some of our. . . guests," she smirked. "I'm gonna be amazing. Then he'll notice my potential, then I can go in there. . . and be part of the conversations-"

"Sounds like something right up your alley," I said. I gave an exaggerated shudder.

She scrunched her nose. "There you go again with your peculiar sayings."

I shrugged not even phased anymore. Sometimes I always slipped up or said English words that would have Shinko turning her head and calling me out. Besides Itachi, Shinko became someone I would get too comfortable with, but whereas Itachi would just mark it as part of my uniqueness, Shinko would look at me as if I needed help.

"Something I came up with. To refer to something that's suited to your interests," I drawled out.

"I see." She looked at me then gave an exaggerated sigh. "I wouldn't even know where to begin if I were to draw up your profile."

"I am pretty mysterious, aren't I?" I side eyed her.

"More like a pain in my ass is what you are," she grumbled. "Although. . . it's nice to talk to you."

"Talk?" I snorted. "More like verbally spar-"

"I'd probably start when your crow summons were haunting you at Okito's farm," she suggested, completely ignoring what I was saying. She twirled a braid in her hand, absentmindedly. "Insomnia and psychological trauma of misunderstandings can be why you're so eccentric-"

"No," I deadpanned. "Start in the unfortunate moment that I met you."

"I was the best thing that ever happened to you," she confidently said.

"The best thing that ever happened to me was my brother."

"Add obsessive fixation of twin brother too," she muttered to herself again.

I hummed with a nod. "Now you're getting somewhere."

We met gazes in silent contemplation before we laughed.

"It's good to see you again," she admitted. "It's nice to be friends with someone who gets me. I feel strange sometimes. . . Like I'm old." Her nose wrinkled.

"You mature more when you're surrounded by adults," I vaguely offered. "And when you kill adults."

"Guess you're right." She looked at me. "Then again I'm mostly surrounded by you, I'm almost 12-years-old, and you're. . . How old are you again?"

"Shinko-chan is so mean~"

She pushed me away with a playful shove of her hand. I paused in my teasing when I felt a chakra signature behind us. I turned with a wide smile. "Yuki-sensei!"

Shinko quickly turned too. "Ah, Yuki-sensei. Welcome back!" She skipped toward him and gave him a side hug. I reached sensei as well and felt the familiar caress of his hand over my head.

Sensei's familiar brown gaze was warm as he regarded us. "Not back for long. We have a mission."

"Please say it's C-rank," Shinko begged. "I'm tired of being a courier or a pack mule."

Yuki-sensei smirked. "Rest assured, we've reached our quota on D-ranks." He winked at us and held up a scroll. "I'm sure you're dying to know. . ." He wiggled it above our heads as if it was a treat.

Shinko and I didn't bite.

Yuki-sensei gave an exaggerated sigh. "It hurts my soul, really. The fact that my cute students have become so serious." He looked at me. "Asu-chan, what happened? Where's the cute kid that worshiped the ground I walked on?"

I felt the heat rise to my cheeks.

"More like a puppy who followed you around," Shinko snorted. She reached forward to pinch my cheek, but I ducked away.

"I don't remember it like that." I scowled at her. Worship? Puppy? The hell. I then gave sensei my best wide-eyed stare. "Please tell us, Yuki-sensei! Please, please, pleaaasseee."

Yuki-sensei chuckled and tapped my head with a soft fondness. "Yeah, there's my little prodigy." Shinko laughed at my switch up. "How about my cute students spar with me to get the details? Let's say. . . in an hour?"

"And Yoji?" I wondered. It pained me to admit that he was impossible to track down.

"I'll find him in whatever rock he's under." He flashed us a knowing smile before he shunshined away.

Shinko and I shortly parted after that to put on our sparring gear and gather up our supplies at our respective homes. Afterwards, we met back up at the training grounds within the hour to find Yoji and sensei already there.

"It seems we're all eager to see each other again," Yuki-sensei patted Yoji on the shoulder as we neared. Yoji nodded to us in greeting before Shinko threw an arm over his shoulder as she said, "Nice to see you again, Yoji."

Yoji hand signed similar sentiments.

"The sparring goes as usual. This is more for your own benefit than mine. Seeing as we'll be going on a mission tomorrow, it'll be necessary that you become familiar with fighting as a team again."

"Hai!" Shinko and I said in unison. Yoji nodded.

"Alright. Whenever your ready-"

Sensei's clone was utterly destroyed as Shinko threw a kunai at his forehead with a quick precision. The silence surrounded us. Only to be broken by my laugh. It was absurd and morbidly hilarious as I replayed the scene over and over again in my head.

"That was pretty disrespectful of you. Sensei must be sad right now wherever he is." I spread my senses out, sharingan activated.

"No doubt." She went over to pick up her kunai and sighed. "I feel like we are all getting to know each other a little too closely, and I honestly don't know how I feel about this."

Yoji gestured vaguely to his left side. I nodded along. "Ah, exactly Yoji-kun. Team bonding~"

She gave an exaggerated sigh and looked to the sky before glancing at me. "Any sign of him yet?"

I hummed along. "Sensei is laying down on a branch northeast of here. A kilometer away. . . He has been since we got here."

"Then we circle him," she suggested. I nodded since her suggestion sounded more like her formulating the plan. "Yoji, you'll stay at a distance. No poison. I'll be in the middle, but you'll have to engage him up close." This time she regarded me. "I got your six."

I nodded. It was a basic plan, but honestly, when fighting sensei that was mostly how our plans went. Sure we'll ambush him, but after that it was just pure instinct and teamwork that would have him drawing back.

I hummed as I stared at Yuki-sensei's general direction. It was as if my eyes were zooming in on his signature. I familiarized myself to him, the environment as we ran toward his direction with me taking the lead. My gaze then fell on Shinko and Yoji. Before I stepped off the branch and headed to the left side. The illusion of us continued forward. It was as if I was watching shadows of ourselves move into Yuki-sensei's environment that I targeted. The shadows of that genjutsu engaged him.

He dispelled the genjutsu almost immediately, just as soon as I broke through the tree line on his left side. He gazed into my mature sharingan. His eyes widened in shock. He blocked my kunai with his own. The friction of the metal ground together as I pushed off his kunai in a downward thrust before veering off behind him in a sideways step. Sensei broke the mirage of me by cutting through me with a swipe of his kunai. In doing so he broke the targeted genjutsu with ease before he dodged two kunai that Shinko lunged at him.

His gaze widened as he saw the light glint off the metal wires attached to the kunai. My eyes followed the movements of the two kunai that were heading in my direction a few feet away from sensei.

It was as if they were coming at me so slowly. I went through different scenarios in my head before I settled on the one that would achieve the best results. I looped a finger through one kunai and directed it top hit the bark of tree and did the same for the other one in one single turn. Then I grabbed the wires and pulled. The metal wire tightened around Yuki-sensei. Shinko went through several hand signs and so did I as I flooded the chakra wire with my own. Fire surged around the chakra wire, and lightning surged on the other, meeting in the middle in an explosive light.

My eyes followed Yuki-sensei's signature where he had shunshined to engage Shinko. Yoji's bugs broke underneath the ground in swarms, almost succeeding in enveloping sensei. It gave Shinko enough time to draw back and weave through several hand seals. Her kunai flooded with her specialty lightning jutsu. She cut forward, the earth tore underneath her kunai. Sensei dodged her attacks, unable to counter them without getting electrocuted.

He weaved through several hand signs, and it was as if I knew. I mimicked the same hand signs. I watched his movements, and my eyes followed the direction he was shunshining towards. I was on top of him. My tanto was unsheathed. I spiraled down in a circular swoop.

He blocked my swooping blade, shifted and punched me in the face with an uppercut. The mirage broke, but another one weaved in its place as I jumped from the shadows and engaged him again.

The more he cut through 'me.' The more the darkness around us grew. Shadows grew around us until the entire world seemed to be black. Everything but us was alive.

Yuki's breathing shifted as he gazed into my eyes. "I see you learned more from your teacher than I thought." Yuki-sensei looked anything but impressed. The way he said 'teacher' was in spite. When we crossed blades again. He worked with fast precision.

"Kai," his voice was monotone.

The layers of genjutsu broke with ease and I was left bare, standing on a branch slightly above him.

He smiled up at me. "Tell me Asuya, how long was I in the genjutsu?"

I didn't realize I was breathing shakily until he addressed me. I exhaled slowly and looked up to see Yuki-sensei shunshine next to me. He crouched down and pressed a hand on my shoulder.

"Just two seconds, sensei." I deactivated my sharingan.

"Two seconds is enough to kill an opponent," he observed. "Genjustu has always been a weakness of mine." He sighed. "You're going to be a handful when you're older. . . if you're up to sparring with an old man like me."

He glanced toward the direction where Shinko and Yoji were left behind.

"Sensei," I paused for a moment before asking, "How do you know my teacher?"

Yuki-sensei didn't flinch, but his gaze was sharp as he regarded me. "Why do you ask?"

I swallowed, a little unnerved by his gaze. "Um, well, she sends her regards." He stayed silent. "So. . . How do you know her?" I wondered, not being able to let it go. Especially when sensei looked like he heard his mother passed away. Judging by his reaction, it looked like he didn't know whether to be angry, sad or concerned.

It felt like he wasn't going to answer as we waited for Shinko and Yoji to catch up to us. Sensei and I shunshined pretty far away. He shunshined to recuperate or take a break from our bombarding attacks, but I shunshined with him to not give him the advantage.

"We were young when. . . my fri- An Uchiha. . . went rogue. He killed several good men. Most were my friends. Our friends," he elaborated. "A team of mine and several Uchiha were tasked to kill him. Naori-san didn't want to kill him, she wanted to save him." He scoffed. "She said he was changed. He was different. That he was redeemed." His gaze met mine. "I believed her but I killed him anyway."

I looked down at the forest floor. "Oh." Whatever I was expecting wasn't that. "What was his name?" I asked.

He hummed. "Uchiha Naka."

I tried to lighten the mood after a moment of silence. "Well, I think she must have forgiven you if she sent her regards."

He laughed. "Then you must not know Naori-san well. She hates me with her entire being, and I don't blame her. . . I killed her best friend." He paused. "If anything, I'm sure she just wanted you to know."

"Me?" I was completely puzzled.

He lifted himself to his full height and crossed his arms. Shinko and Yoji's signatures were near. "Those who turn their blade against their own comrades will die an unsightly death." His voice was resolute. It also held a hint of sadness. It made me wonder then if he was referring to himself as much as he was referring to Uchiha Naka.

"Why did you shunshine all the way here?" Shinko growled as soon as she arrived. "Did the fight end already?"

Yuki-sensei threw on a smile. "Asu-chan caught me!" He lifted his hands up in surrender.

Shinko gave a shrug and crossed her arms. " 'Course he did. So what are the mission details?"

Yuki-sensei gestured for us to huddle closer. As he went over the mission parameters, I couldn't help but wonder about our discussion beforehand. As I contemplated what sensei said, I slowly began to come to the realization of what Naori-sama's last lesson was.

"What is feeding your vigor, boy?" Naori-sama had once questioned.

The lesson was about a rogue Uchiha. A ninja who must have lost himself to darkness and insanity if he slaughtered his comrades. . . his friends. Was it the sharingan? Perhaps, his obsession for power? Whatever the reason, the lesson was subtle but so clearly before my eyes as if intricately woven by a genjutsu of her own creation.

"Those who turn their blade against their own comrades will die an unsightly death."

When we were dismissed, I hanged back to ask Yuki-sensei. Shinko paused, and a silent conversation passed between us. It was as if she knew exactly my intentions because she nodded, waved at both of us and left with Yoji.

"Did Naori-sama say that to you?" I asked once they disappeared from view and hearing range.

He didn't even have to ask what I was referring to. Instead, he regarded me with a guarded gaze. "Hmm. . . Yes." I looked away. Despite accepting that I was a prodigy, it seemed that the reputation of others preceded me. If I were to grow stronger, would I also become obsessed with power? Is this what my elders thought of me? Did they think I'd break? That I'd also succumb to darkness?

The impressionable me whether a child or a young adult was being molded in every direction. It felt as if I was being pulled at both sides, and I knew that maybe if I just felt a little less. . . worried a little less. . . cared a little less, I wouldn't be torn in two.

I felt a hand on my head. "Asu-chan." I looked up, and something must have shown on my expression because sensei sighed before he crouched down to hug me. He pulled away after a moment. "I'm sure Naori-san meant this as a lesson to guide you. Our past doesn't shape your future but our lessons do."

"Oh." I felt breathless. "Yeah, of course I know this."

Yuki-sensei grinned. "Yeah," he teased. "It's not as if prodigies like yourself take hidden underneath the underneath a step further."

"Me? Overthink? No way." My joke was weak but sensei laughed along.

"Remember, Asu-chan, 7:30 sharp," Yuki-sensei paused. "And make sure not to stay with the crows too long and actually have a decent night's rest." He shunshinned away. Sensei wasn't entirely aware of what I got up to with the crows, but he knew I frequently visited them.

I didn't listen to sensei's advice.

Instead I went straight to them. My crow summons was perched on a tree. His servants surrounded the entirety of trees around us. "You will be following me. We have a mission tomorrow."

Danger, Kagami the Crow hissed.

I frowned. ". . . You've said that before but-"

Danger, he repeated.

"Then leave some of your servants here. They'll let us know if Itachi is in danger or not."

My crow summons continued to repeat the word. I frowned, not understanding what else he was referring to. My sharingan activated on instinct just to make sure that the coast was clear at least. I have felt spies follow me before, but they could never get past my crow summon's illusions. When I felt no signs of suspicion, my gaze turned to Kagami the Crow.

Our eyes met, and soon I saw the spiral of my three tomoe reflected in my crow summon's eyes.

Now, Kagami the Crow said, we are one.

It felt like a pull at first, as if I was fading into the black before I was looking at myself through my crow summon's perspective. Then from one blink to the next, I was gone, and I was met with my own gaze. No. A reflection of myself but not really myself.

It was a boy? No. . . It was a man. His hair was wavy and disheveled. It stuck to his skin with sweat and blood.

"It seems this battle is to be my last," he mused. If it wasn't for the difference in hair, the mole at the corner of his right eye, and the different shape of his eyes, I could've sworn that I was looking at an older Shisui. "Although, it would've been nice to see my sons again."

I cawed, trapped in my crow summon's body as I flew away.

I now knew better. This was my predecessor: Uchiha Kagami.

Crimson eyes followed me, and three tomoe spiraled and morphed into an ominous design that resembled a shuriken. Blood gathered at his left eyelid and trailed down to the corner of his lips.

The crow summons circled above him. Black feathers began to rain down as he stood still. From one moment to the next, hundreds of masked-nin surrounded him. They wore cloaks to hide themselves. All but one whose mask was broken to reveal a snake-like eye with purple war paint used to accentuate the slit gaze. From the slim build to the long hair, I immediately recognized the man to be Orochimaru.

"Such a shame that Danzo is not here with us." Kagami sighed. "His obsession with the sharingan prowess only goes so far. A coward but a smart one, indeed."

"I admit, I was curious about its capabilities." Orochimaru croaked in that soft hiss of his. He pulled his mask off and licked at his bloodied lips in an exaggerated sweep of his tongue. "I've not been disappointed. . ." Orochimaru tilted his head. "But how, I wonder. The poison should have rendered you insane already."

Kagami smirked. His gaze widened in a murderous manner as his slightly crazed eyes met Orochimaru's own. "Such a poison would not work on me," Kagami chuckled. "My sanity has been lost long ago."

The feathers that rained down on Kagami became still.

Orochimaru snarled as he ordered Root to attack.

As Root members leapt forward, it was as if a wire in all of their brains had been cut off. They fell mid jump and landed on the floor as complete dead weights.

"Fall into the black," Kagami whispered.

Then I realized. . . it was his susanoo, hidden in genjutsu created by the feathers.

His susanoo was shadows, reaping its benefits in the souls that it harvested in his sealed, wooden jug. Kagami was encased around the susanoo's armor and reached a hand out. Susanoo swiped his katana through the trees as Orochimaru and the remainder of Root shunshinned away. But the trees were not cut in half or pulled from their roots by the force of the shadowed blade. No. The trees rotted, instead. As if all life and chakra was sucked away from their physical form. The grass began black and bruised, and the souls of Root members were taken in a heartbeat.

Kagami's susanoo was the taker of life in more ways than one.

After Kagami's attack, however, it seemed that it was his limit. The crow flew away and the blkack feathers were no more. As soon as they stopped falling, it was as if susanoo's shadowed armor was pulled back. Susanoo dissipated as well, and Kagami face-planted against the wilted earth.

I wanted to scream, to cry out for him to get up. But I wasn't here, not really.

Orochimaru and the Root members appeared within a matter of moments.

"Take them while he's still breathing. Although I don't know what Danzo wants with blind eyes," Orochimaru sneered.

One of them flipped Kagami over. They began to open an eye, and extracted one.

Kagami chuckled through the pain.

Only Orochimaru was able to act in time as a black sphere rose from Kagami's chest. A reverse-summon seal formed underneath him and he was transported away. Every Root member in the vicinity was caught in the seal's trap. The crow summons was at a safe distance from Kagami's suicide fuinjutsu.

There was a pull again, and I fell back into my body. The sensation gave me vertigo, but I only stumbled back a bit to regain my balance. I rubbed at my pulsing eye and looked up at Kagami the Crow.

Danger, he repeated.

I shook as multiple emotions crossed over me until I settled on one.

I stilled.

And remained silent as I left the darkness of the woods.


A/N:

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Just in case people might be wondering, I skipped over Asuya's advancement in genjutsu training with Naori because I wanted to show what he learned in a spar with Yuki-sensei. As you read why, it's because Yuki-sensei and Naori have beef. If you go back to Ch.21 during the Hokage meeting, you can also get a little insight as to why Yuki-sensei may hate Naori and Naka too.

Genjutsu Training Arc was mostly an introduction to Asuya's advanced sharingan use where he can wield it of his own volition instead of when he's put in a flight/fight situation. It's also me experimenting on writing fighting scenes that have genjutsu in them because that's gonna be a big thing in future arcs. As it's one of the huge parts of Asuya's arsenal, I'll have to get creative in writing about illusions and where the 'real' Asuya is. Sorry if this spar was a lacking in that regard. I'll make up for it in the-

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Next Arc: Land of Wind Arc

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