Smoke and Mirrors

Orpheus here!

Alright, so this story is sort of... odd. It's not technically a rewrite of Obsidian Fox (or any of the successive attempts at the concept that came afterword) but its more of a... spiritual successor. There are similarities across the story (Boshihari, Numagakure, some recurring characters) but for the most part, it's a different tale. I won't go into to much detail here, as I'd rather let all of you read for yourself, but I am rather excited for what I've already written for this story (I have another five chapters in my backlogs that'll I'll release over the next few weeks) and for what my co-author (SleepArypsure) and I have planned next.

Chapter I

[October 10, 982 KT – Konohagakure no Sato]

Acrid smoke and ashes filled the night air, obscuring the otherwise full and silvery moon above the ninja village of Hi no Kuni. Buildings were aflame, crushed, toppled, or missing chunks of their structure thanks to the events of this particular night; events that would forever alter the course of the future and affect it for decades to come. Most of those still in the village that weren't fighting the cause of this destruction were either running from the epicenter of the disaster, or lying dead – or close to it – in the streets.

The very origin of the damage and death could be seen in the distance, and was a monster in of itself. Several hundred stories tall with blood red fur and nine, swishing tails it stood. The Nine-Tailed Demon Fox was a titanic kitsune that found itself surrounded by several thousand shinobi launching various techniques at it ranging from ninjutsu, to barrages of explosive tags, and even weapons that seemed more like toothpicks than swords, more like twigs than staves, more like splinters than arrows.

Away from the slaughter-fest that was Konoha's attempt at keeping the beast at bay walked a single figure. She stood rather tall and proud with bright, red hair falling down her back and a single, purple eye glowing in the darkness. Her left eye was covered with a black patch, but the sureness of her steps gave no hint at weakness. She wore a blue yukata with a large, red spiral that was the Uzumaki Clan emblem on the back, a red obi tied around her waist and a pair of sandals on her feet. As she walked towards whatever her goal was, the woman ignored the cries of mercy and the cries for help from victims she passed. She only changed her step to avoid stepping in the numerous puddles of blood, piles of entrails or charred corpses. She had no wish to look anything but pristine for her meeting, after all.

Her features were neutral, not cold, just uncaring of the situation. It was almost as if she was strolling down a road she had trekked dozens of times before. That expression changed instantly as she felt someone grab her ankle weakly. Serene eyes narrowed in righteous fury, and a slight frown marred itself into a snarl. She looked down at a heavily injured man who was missing one of his legs, several ribs protruding from his chest cavity as he struggled to gain the breath necessary to speak. "He-" His plea never got past the first syllable, as the woman's ankle suddenly shot a shard of obsidian through his palm that embedded itself into his half-closed eye, throwing him several meters away from her person as she dusted off her clothing. With a huff of distinct dissatisfaction one might reserve for an annoying fly buzzing around one's head, she continued on her trip.

After a few more minutes - and two more beggars put down with an adequate amount of obsidian - the woman finally arrived at her destination and let a small smile touch her full lips. The Konohagakure General Hospital and Shinobi Infirmary stood tall, its ivory walls still mostly undamaged from the devastation thanks to a large barrier seal that Boshihari could sense. She also sensed a particularly high amount of chakra coming from a particular place in the building, and felt her smile widen into a smirk. Bending her legs slightly, the woman felt chakra flow throughout her body and let loose a powerful jump six stories up. When she touched the window, she passed through it without breaking the glass. Her entrance was so silent that the other occupants hadn't even noticed her. One was a nurse watching over an infant rather nervously, and the other was a Chuunin watching the hallway through the cracked doorway. Silently, the woman placed her hands on the ground and felt her chakra travel through the concrete flooring.

Without giving either time to react, the woman forced the concrete to shoot up and encase the two of them in stone coffins, then manipulated them further to cause spikes of concrete to form from the inner walls of the coffins. "Hidden Stone Art: Earth Style: Iron Maiden." She whispered even as blood began to drip from the sealing of the two halves. There were no screams, she hadn't given them a chance to be afraid of her. Standing back up, the woman made her way to the infant and smiled softly. Her single eye took in the form of her target as she gently picked the newborn up. Looking at the nametag on the infant's swaddling, she let her smile widen slightly. "Uzumaki Naruto-chan, that sounds exactly like you Kushina-chan."

As if the infant agreed, he cooed lightly. The woman held Naruto closer as she looked out the window at the carnage the fox was causing and sighed. "If you lost control of the Kyuubi and it was released, it's already too late to save you, dear cousin." She lamented, showing genuine sadness the first time that night. "Do not worry, I'll protect young Naruto and raise him as my own, Kushina-chan. Rest peacefully in the knowledge that Uzumaki Boshihari, the Obsidian Goddess will keep the Last Crown Prince of Uzushio safe until he can take his rightful place at the head of our ancient and noble clan. I will show the world why you do not mess with our family, that I promise you Kushina… That I promise you okaa-sama. The Old Monkey will pay for spitting on the grave of otou-sama and ojii-sama." Her single eye hardened as she used her free hand to push the glass window, causing it to crumble into shards before they all shot outward at high speeds.

Next, she bit into her left thumb and jumped from the sixth floor as she faced her palm towards the ground, a blood-colored seal appearing midair. From the seal, a white tiger with black stripes appeared that Boshihari sat upon just in time for it to land on the road. As it sprinted out of Konoha, Boshihari never even looked back at the Kyuubi as its energy began funneling into a small source. Had she done so, history might've remembered something entirely different from what that night bore. But she did not. And history cannot be changed.

[Tsuchi no Kuni - March 19, 989 KT]

"Kaa-chan, I think we're getting closer." A redheaded boy spoke as he walked side by side with Boshihari. The boy looked no older than six, with short spikes in his hair and a pair of bright, purple eyes showing deep concentration. He wore a blue haori tied together with a white obi and a pair of blue hakama pants. The haori bore the Uzumaki Spiral clan crest in the lining as a repeating pattern. Most interestingly though, above the boy's head to the left was an orb of energy that reflected light, making it seem brighter than it actually was. As he walked, it floated to keep up with him, never losing pace.

"How can you tell?" Boshihari wondered idly, though she perfectly expected the answer that came next.

"I can feel the… death. There's a lot of it nearby. Death and suffering and… spirits." He closed his eyes, breathing deeply as his mother had taught him to do. "I hate bandits. They're all scum…"

"That's why we do this, Naruto-chan." She answered. "We cleanse this area of banditry, because that old fool Oonoki won't send his forces this far out. We may only be making a small dent in the oceans of bandits, but for the villages nearby, it makes all the difference in the world. You must remember that even though they are not Uzumaki, these villagers have done no wrong. It is our role to be benevolent and show them that our family, though small, is still the force of good it has always been. And to show those that would dare act against us that we give them no mercy."

"I understand, okaa-sama." Naruto replied as he held his hand out, the ball floating down into his palm. "I don't like having to watch them die, but it does make the Spirit World less crowded if they die instead of innocents." His features hardened before he just sighed and shook his head. "Alright, don't worry, it'll be just like the last dozen camps…" The last bit was whispered more to himself than to Boshihari, but she heard it nonetheless.

"Let's get this over with then. I'll take you to get some ramen when we go back to Shou for our payment, okay?" Naruto nodded with a smile to the red headed cyclops, whom smiled back at him. She then held out her hand, a staff half again as tall as her being formed from oak with a naginata blade materializing on the very tip out of obsidian. She took it in both hands and gave one last look to Naruto before disappearing in a swirl of obsidian shards. Even as he followed her in his own Shunshin of blue wisps, he could already feel the energy leaving bandits as his mother went to work.

Landing in the very center of the bandit camp, several grown men and women brandishing heavy weapons and armor jumped back at the sudden appearance of a little kid with the eyes of a killer. "May all beings have happiness and be the causes of happiness." He stated seemingly randomly as the seven brigands regained their bearings, and one rushed at him, spear thrust to skewer him. Naruto remained unmoving except to throw his Kyoudama at the spearhead. As soon as it made contact, the man's movement reversed and he was flung backwards, the spear spinning midair and launching itself through his heart.

The other six stared at what the boy had done, even as he remained in the same spot. Two more rushed forward with a staff and jian while a third and fourth nocked arrows, letting them fly at him. "May all be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow." Naruto continued as his Kyoudama split into two orbs half the size of the original. They struck the arrows, causing them to immediately change direction and impale the two rushing bandits through their heads, killing them instantly. They then continued and rushed for the archers, touching them before rushing back to Naruto, converging back into a single orb. He waited and watched as they nocked arrows again, shooting them not at him, but at each other, leaving only a pair of bandits left. "May all never be separated from the sacred happiness, which is sorrowless."

Apparently watching their fellow brigands die wasn't enough to teach them, and they rushed towards him with a nagamaki and a kanabo in hand, ready to impale the small child. "And may all live in equanimity, without too much attachment and too much aversion, and live believing in the equality of all that lives." He finished his prayer, as the Kyoudama launched into the ground where they stepped. It caused large chunks to launch skyward and come back down, crushing them.

The boy allowed his orb to return to him slowly as he watched the corpses. He knew it was coming, though he sincerely wished he didn't have to watch it every single time. Each body lost its life, lost the light he saw when he looked at someone alive. That light condensed to the size of a small melon and slowly, ever so slowly rose up from the corpse until it rematerialized as a light blue, ethereal body that emulated a similar appearance to the bodies as they were in life. The septet that had just fallen to his Kyoudama mostly found themselves moving away at high speeds, leaving to be reincarnated elsewhere. That's what kaa-chan had told him anyways.

There was one that remained however, looking at Naruto with hollow eyes. The boy approached him and looked up. "I'm sorry for what I had to do, but with your passing into the next life, one hundred others can stay here in this one. I do hope you can find it in yourself to forgive me." His palm glowed with a bright, white shell of chakra as he channeled his pure, unaltered energy and took the spirit's hand. "Pass on to your next life peacefully. I will see to it that your remains, and those of your friends, are properly taken care of before I leave the battlefield." As he spoke, the pure white chakra began to surround the anchored spirit and he, too, left for a new incarnation.

For the first time in the camp, Naruto formed a handseal, placing his hands in a Snake formation. "Life is a journey. Death is a return to Earth." The Snake became Ox. "The universe is like an inn. The universe is like dust." Ox became Dog. Dog became Bird. "Regard this phantom world as a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, a flash of lightning in a summer cloud, a flickering lamp - a phantom - a dream." Dragon, Dog and finally Snake once more before Naruto placed his hands on the ground gently. His voice then became quieter, almost too low to hear. "Rest peacefully and return better than you left." With that, each corpse began to sink into the ground, covered up as the dirt moved to Naruto's will through his chakra.

As he stood back up, the redhead turned his eyes to a new person. He didn't have much compared to Boshihari or Naruto, but the man did have enough chakra for it to register on Naruto's sensory abilities. Standing five and a half feet tall with short, brown hair just past his ears and matching, brown eyes. He wore a dark brown shirt and pants as well as a Chuunin flak jacket, with a scratched-out hitai-ite displaying his Ishigakure origin proudly, two vertical, curved marks with a straight line connecting them at the top like a plateau. In his hands he held a javelin made base to tip from some sort of stone, held defensively as he pointed it at Naruto, who looked at him pensively, thoughtfully.

"I don't know who the hell you are, kid. I don't know what the hell you did. I don't know where the fuck you came from. All I know is that I am going to kill you for trying to take away my power, you bastard child!" Purple eyes watched as the javelin was thrown at his head, only for the Kyoudama to appear in its path, extending and flattening into a razor-thin wall. Once the javelin hit the wall, the entire thing reversed direction without losing momentum.

The Ishi nin had more experience than the lowly bandits, though, so instead of impaling him, it only slammed into a large rock, exploding both of those into pebbles that bounced off the wall. Closing his eyes, Naruto felt for spikes in chakra as Boshihari had taught him to do, looking for anything new in the environment that wasn't there before as the wall became four Kyoudama around him.

All four merged together and a spear eight feet long, lunging behind him and right through the left arm of the nukenin, causing him to scream out and drop the stone sword in his hand. Naruto turned around and looked at him as the spear shortened, but the section within his arm extended in the blink of an eye and severed his forearm. "FUCKING BITCH!" The nin shouted at the top of his lungs, but instead of bleeding, the forearm was a stub with no visible wound to speak of. He looked surprised, staring down at the impossibility. It was long enough for the Kyoudama to return and chains to sprout from Naruto's right arm, travel through the ground and reappear behind the man. He was quickly bound to the ground while distraction took hold of his mind.

"Very good, Naruto-chan." Boshihari smirked as she appeared behind him, looking at the helpless ex-Chuunin. "Just like I taught you. Stand your ground, let them come to you and let the Kyoudama turn your enemy's strengths into your advantage. Its qualities are rather strange, but we'll spend more time figuring out just what they can do." She then moved past the boy and approached the Ishigakure nukenin. "As for you, Iwasou no Kinsei, I believe you have something I'd like."

The now crippled Kinsei glared at her angrily. "Like I'd ever give ya anything, bitch!" He then spat in her direction. Boshihari's eyes hardened, but the smirk merely fell into a slight smile at the gesture.

"Naruto-chan, release the chains for me, okay?" She asked very pleasantly. The boy complied, and the chains disappeared in lieu of several thick and thorned vines that dug into every inch of the Ishigakure nin, wrapping him up so completely that only his head was revealed. It had the all too satisfying side effect of his screaming at the top of his lungs. Hearing the voice, Boshihari let that slight smile grow a little more.

"Now, Kinsei-kun, I happen to know that you have some information I need. Our employer wants the bandits rid of this area and being a nukenin… you would know of the larger base where the faction is. You are going to tell me what I want to know. The longer you take… the more blood you'll lose and I'd just like to let you know something." She walked towards him as she spoke, crouching down so she could look him right in the eye. "Tsunade-chan may have gone further in medical ninjutsu than me, but I was the one who originally taught her." With that, a kunai made of obsidian appeared in her hand and she stabbed it directly into his left shoulder with a considerable amount of force, causing it to shatter inside him.

Naruto flinched for the first time that night, closing his eyes so he wouldn't have to watch his mother interrogate another bandit. The screams still reached his ear, but he refused to look and caused the Kyoudama to cover his ears, silencing the area for him. It's necessary to go on, just like okaa-sama said. They aren't Uzumaki, so they don't matter, just like okaa-sama said. They'll be reincarnated so it's fine, just like okaa-sama said. Just like okaa-sama said… just like okaa-sama said…

And that's it!

Don't forget to let me know what you thought in the review section, via PM (either to myself or SleepArypsure) or drop on into the Discord at Discord – dot – gg – slash – PWDD44v.

Orpheus out! Ja ne!