Author Note: It's been a long and fun journey but as someone once said, everything must come to an end. Thank you all that have followed this story from the beginning and those that jumped on during the process. Thanks to everyone that took that time reading this long and sometimes slow-updating story and those that has supported me by sending me feedbacks. It's been a true pleasure to write for you. I've learned a lot during these years this fiction has been going on. I'm closing this story and I'm happy to see how much this story has grown to become. In the beginning it was only the idea of a single scene that inspired this fiction. This might not be the ending you were thinking but bear with it. If there ever is someone that wants to write a story with this one as background feel free to do so but please send me a mail and let me know so I can follow it. See it as a challenge if you like. I may not have explained some things as I had wanted but I will leave the rest to your imagination. Then I'm leaving everything over to the story that will lead you to the end of this fantastic adventure. At the end I will get you to wonder about many things but that's the evil side of me playing around. I hope I won't confuse you to much. How everything will end? Or will it even end? You have to read to find out.

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Only Joshua, Hikaru and Akumi belong to me.

Parings: None

Rating: Same as always.

Read, Enjoy and please send me a Review. Now is your last chance to say how much you like this story and what your thoughts of it is. Don't flame it for that is unwanted at the end.

Return of a Stranger
By Monkan

Chapter 15

The proud village of Konoha was in chaos. Shinobis ran through the streets, looking and carrying out orders, to find the intruders. It had been four hours since they disappeared from the hospital and no one had seen them since. The staff had reported to the Hokage about the room where Naruto had been treated and the strange marks. When the old man arrived and took a look he was surprised what he found. He recognized the marks as a very powerful season seal but the method and how they had come to appear in the roof was something he had never seen before. The fact that the staff that had tried to break in hadn't heard all the glass break and no one standing outside had either. It was very disturbing. If someone put up a barrier there was at least someone in the village to notice it and report it but no one had felt or seen anything.

The old Hokage felt that it was best that they found the escapers and put an end to this. Ever since the Chuunin exam had started strange things had been happening around town and in the exams. The feeling of deja vu had hit him more than once and it was a feeling he didn't like at the moment.

They didn't know what the objective of the three people but something in his gut told him it was important that he stopped them before more harm could be done.

On the cliff above Konoha, where the stone faces of the leaders of the village was crafted stood five people. Three of them had the same cloud marked coat in black and red while one of the other two had a black coat that seemed darker than the actual colour was. The last and fifth person didn't have a coat like the others; he wore black pants with a deep red jumped. Around his neck was wrapped a long scarf. It was almost reached down to the ground if it wasn't for the fact that the hard wind was making it flutter away from him. His chin and mouth was hidden by the material of his scarf. All of them looked down at the village, they could see each and every one of the shinobis jumping around but they couldn't see them.

Itachi, Haku and Naruto didn't say anything for they knew the final stage of their mission had arrived. Hikaru stood just as impassive as he normally was and Akumi was impossible to read.

What no one knew was that during the exam they three of them had gathered all the information they needed. No one had noticed when one of them had been missing and then returned. They had searched the village's every hidden corner and now their work had finally paid off. They knew where they were heading to get what they needed to accomplish their mission. It may have looked like a normal mission for a secret scroll but that was wrong. This was no ordinary scroll they were getting. There were limited knowledge that it was even real and not a myth. It had been sealed away beyond reach by the First and Second Hokage. They hadn't even left any secret about it to the next Hokage. The scroll had been far too dangerous to leave even the smallest traced after. The secrets inside it were far deeper than anything known in the world. It was a secret record of several banned and cursed techniques. The danger of using them and them being used was far greater than the techniques that were forbidden. The consequences for using a single one of the jutsus were too great for any man and required sacrifices. If you thought Kyuubi's arrival and destruction of the proud Konoha was just the demon getting bored you were gravely mistaken. Someone had tried all those years ago to summon the great demon but the sacrifice had been the death of the contractor. They had been swallowed by other hideous demons coming through before they were pulled back into the darkness. It also contained the darkest secrets of humankind and all the darkness the Country of Fire had ever committed. Just as much as it was a learning scroll it was also a record of history that the First and Second wanted to destroy. The scroll in itself was cursed and protected so they had been unable to even harm it. One of their assistance had even been so stupid of trying to steal it; it had sucked her soul out. It was something that would only be one of through history and it was something Akatsuki wanted. Therefore they had sent Itachi, Naruto and Haku to retrieve it. Each and every member of Akatsuki had a special ability and for this mission they had been the most suited to get it but they were also unable to get it on their own. They needed help from the others. Just when Naruto had been sent to the hospital Haku had taken the moment and sent a message to the rest of Akatsuki. They were almost there now.

"Their search for us will be in vain." said Haku.

"They have to do what they have to do because the village pride demands it!" said Itachi. "Foolish bugs." his voice was ice cold and still expressionless.

"We will be going!" said Hikaru behind them.

"Not staying to see the result?" asked Naruto. "You won't be seeing something similar for years."

"Not interested." said Hikaru in a bored voice. "I've seen things that will make this look pale in compare. Nothing will compare to the past."

"You sound like an old man, saying that." told Akumi him.

"I will pretend I didn't hear that." said Hikaru. "I don't want to be told I'm old by you."

Naruto looked at Akumi and blinked. A few memories from his dream jail were brought forth and he saw the man as well as the boy behind his eyes. "How old are you really?" he asked while looking at Akumi.

"Do you really want to know?" Akumi asked as he turned so his back was at the boy. "It will cost you your life." the aura around him changed drastically and it asked for blood and death. It was so intense that it made Naruto swallows his suddenly dry throat and takes a step back. It even scared some birds far from them.

"This is neither the first nor the last time humans will touch the scroll." Akumi said in a levelled voice as his aura vanished. "The result will always be the same but it doesn't concern me as long as you don't interfere with me."

"What would you do if out paths crosses once again and we get in your way?"

Akumi narrowed his eyes and glared coldly at the group of three. "When that day comes I will leave you in a nightmare."

"Huh? I don't understand." said Naruto.

"You never will!" said Hikaru and his answer made Naruto mad. The older boy ignored Naruto's angry words and looked up at the faces of the mountain. "They are here any minute. Let's go!"

Haku turned toward them; "Before you go... there is something I want to ask." he looked right into Akumi's eyes. Even with the deep brown colour it felt like they were bottomless and he was falling into darkness. "What was the price for reviving Naruto?"

Akumi raised his arm and in his hand he held up a dark pearl. Its colour was dark and it was shifting around inside as if it contained something. "This."

"What is that?" asked Itachi.

"A nightmare." was Hikaru's answer.

"A... nightmare?" asked Naruto slowly.

Right then and there the sphere grew a little bit bigger right in front of their eyes.

"What was that?" asked Naruto scared. "I thought you had it under control."

"Who said the nightmare has ended?"

Without one word more they both left the cliff, leaving the rest with more questions than answers. But something inside them told them that they would be happy that they hadn't been the ones paying the price. A nightmare wasn't something to be taken lightly. After all, they all lived in their own nightmares that connected to each other and the rest of the world. Namely… their lives.

"After this is done what do you say about taking it easy for a while?" asked Haku the others in his group.

"I could use a vacation after this is done. I heard the Water Country will be having their yearly festival soon. Shall we go on it?" asked Naruto with an excited voice. No matter how old he got he would always love festivals.

Itachi didn't say anything as he looked at Naruto until he made the boy uncomfortable. "What?" asked the blond boy?

"Sorry you didn't get to receive the Chuunin rank." Itachi said.

Naruto looked thoughtful for a short moment before he gave his older brother figure a big happy smile. "Don't worry about it. There is always next time."

At that moment the other members landed around them.

"Did you find it?" asked one of them.

"Ya better have, yeah." another told them.

"We have." said Itachi.

"Where is it?" asked a third member.

Itachi's hand moved forward and pointed at the ground. "Right here! There's no doubt about it."

"You better not be wrong. We won't get another chance for this." the first told them.

"They can't be wrong." said a fifth person with a large sword wrapped in bandage on his back.

"Seen but unseen. Protected by the past and future while the present makes sure it will never breathe again. For this resting place is where the past began and the future will begin."

The other members cast a look up at the stone faces. In a cruel way they represented the past and the future. As this place was seen and protected by the eyes of the faces it was still left unseen by those that came here.

"All right! Let's begin then."

All members stood in a circle around the centre. They began to chant spells as they held their hands in respective seal in order. Their whereabouts had been discovered by the shinobis and they were approaching fast with support on the way.

Itachi looked at Naruto one last time beside him.

"Let's go to the festival!" he told the boy and he got a smile in return. "Sure."

The next moment a large light erupted from the centre and exploded in their faces. Everything on the cliff was engulfed by the light and a third of Konoha.

-o-o-o-o-o-

What followed next was a new chaos from the one before. The members of Akatsuki left the place with what they wanted and no one could capture them. The explosion levelled a good part of Konoha and at that moment Sand and Sound took the moment in act to attack and invade.

The wheel of fate had turned and noted a new mill point in Konoha's history. The town was on the edge of defeat when they pushed back and saved their home. Many humans were lost in this event. The village was now facing their greatest challenge ever, complete survival.

What the Akatsuki had wanted didn't anyone know but they had probably gotten their hands on it for otherwise most people doubted they would have left so soon. The secret the Hokage had held from the people about Naruto's true identity was revealed and it left many with mixed feelings. No one ever saw the blond boy again or if they did they didn't recognize him.

Hikaru and Akumi walked different roads. Akumi seemed to vanish or it was more like his life returned to normal where no one would remember him. Hikaru went back to his old life style and looked for something to entertain himself with. He was probably the only living being that would remember Akumi until he died. They had their own destinies to follow.

When the yearly festival in the Water Country started there was a boy, probably no older than 13 running down the crowded street in a festival kimono. He turned around and waved at his two companions, they were both wearing kimono's to melt in.

"Hurry, hurry." he shouted.

One of the two began to jog to catch up while the other kept his pace. He hadn't changed much but he had still grown during the years that passed.

Itachi walked passed a young man in a black coat with light brown hair and matching eyes. The hair seemed to shift colour depending on his the light fell on him. The man held a flute in his hand and something about him made Itachi turn around. He knew he had met this man somewhere before but he didn't know where. Or had he even met him before. It all felt like a nightmare he was just waking up from. He chook his head and walked after his friends. It was stupid. His mind was just playing tricks on him.

"The price has been paid." said a voice in his mind that he forgot just as soon as he heard the words.

The man walked away with his flute in one hand and a dark orb in his other, the surface seemed to shift and swirled around in many different dark colours.

The End!