Chapter 1- Prelude to the Strongest

~For all of you who's heard the legend of the Fourth Hokage, the ninja who sacrificed his life to save Konoha Village from the nine-tailed demon fox, Kyuubi… there's one part of the story that few dare to speak of, the one chosen to carry the seal and keep the demon imprisoned… me. For as long as I can remember, I have been alone, shunned by the people and hated by all, yet not knowing why. That's probably why I look up to the Hokages, the greatest ninjas of all time, praised through the ages, spoken of in legends… I guess you can say I want to be among the legends, and finally be acknowledged by everyone. I know it won't be easy becoming Hokage, I heard the stories, how they struggled endlessly and faced hardships beyond belief, and I also know that no matter what the stories said, it was nothing compared to the real thing… but I am ready to face all of those, because becoming Hokage is my dream, I will surpass them all, and I will not take back my words. The Hokages of the past are now legends, they had their time, but now this is my time, my legend. This is my story… my way of the ninja…

-Uzumaki Naruto

(Location- Konoha Village)

"URGH…" a heavily bruised and beaten-up Naruto groaned as he limped down the street with his team-mates, using a stick for support… the results of today's 'boring D-ranked' mission.

"Naruto, you have got to only person I know who could possibly get injured painting a fence" Said Kakashi, "Is it still bleeding?"

"Seriously, that's least dangerous job we can get, but you somehow found a way!" Sakura exclaimed, shuddering at the memory

"Hmph… what an idiot" Sasuke scoffed

"Hey, come on! I told you already, those paintbrush bristles are really sharp!" Naruto complained, "Urgh…" he stumbled a bit, feeling really dizzy

"Are you sure you're okay? You DID lose a lot of blood…" said Kakashi

"I'm fine! Just need to walk it off…" Naruto took a few more steps…


"Uh…" Sakura sweatdropped, when Naruto fell face flat to the ground, and wasn't moving, "Naruto? Are you okay?"

"Kick him, maybe that'll help…" said Sasuke in an annoyed tone



"Wow Sasuke-kun! It worked! You're so smart!" Sakura exclaimed

"Ahem…" Kakashi cleared his throat, getting his student's attention. "I was meaning to tell you this earlier, but now's just as good a time as any…" he paused "We've been assigned a C-rank mission."

"ALL RIGHT! C-RANK!" Naruto cheered, and sprung to his feet, "So you've finally come to your senses and acknowledged my strength, Kakashi-sensei!"

"Eh, sure… if that's what you want to think" Kakashi shrugged. He hesitated a little, after seeing Naruto getting injured on a 'harmless' D-rank… but he was pretty sure his students could handle it. "Tomorrow I'll be busy getting the details of the missions, so go train on your own, and just take it easy!" He smiled, and then disappeared in a puff of smoke

"A C-rank mission?" Sakura blinked, "I wonder what we'll have to do…"

"Who cares!?" Naruto exclaimed, he was really happy about getting a C-rank mission. "C-rank probably means we'll go outside the village, into the real world and fighting bandits! Everyone'll see what an outstanding ninja I am! Man, I'll be a total bad-ass! YEEAAAAH!" he cheered, "UGH…" he got dizzy again from lack of blood…


"Um, Sasuke-kun? Should I kick him again?" asked Sakura

"Better not, His stupidity is probably contagious" Sasuke walked off

"Wait for me Sasuke-kun!" Sakura ran to catch up with Sasuke, stepping on Naruto as she ran, "Since we're free tomorrow, I was thinking that you might want to…"

"NO." Sasuke said annoyed as Sakura followed him, leaving Naruto behind…

Naruto laid face flat on the ground for a couple of minutes. He didn't move, nor was he breathing, until someone approached him.

"Hmm…" the guy kneeled down by Naruto and examined him… "Collapsed from blood loss, huh…" he stated, standing up "I'll have to perform immediate resuscitation!"


"AGH!" Naruto exclaimed when the stranger kicked him

"Whew! Are you okay?" he said, leaning down and helping him up

"Uh, yeah… I'm fine… I think" he rubbed his head and looked up at the guy.

He was a teenager, a few years older than him, with short black hair and dark-rimmed glasses. His outfit was a dark green Chinese-style shirt with wide sleeves at the ends, rolled back a bit so they didn't cover his hands, and black pants. Naruto noticed that he didn't have a leaf forehead protector, meaning that he wasn't a ninja, although that was already a given. The guy was really thin, and didn't look like he could fight, much less survive one. Naruto didn't say anything about this, of course.

"You collapsed from a lack of blood due to your wounds" he said, looking at Naruto's deep cuts, "Sorry about kicking you just now, but it IS standard medical procedure. I hope you understand" he said, "What happened to you?"

"Um… just a little accident on today's mission" Naruto said rather embarrassed. "It's nothing serious!" he added, noticing the look of concern on the stranger's face. Naruto smirked, clearly this guy didn't know who he was, which also explained why he hadn't received any cold glares coming from him

"That's good, I guess. Finding a genie collapsed in the middle of the street had me worried for a second" said the teenager. He then paused, "I always thought genins always did safe and easy missions, but a wound like that… it looks like you got stabbed by a kunai!"

"Well… actually… it wasn't a kunai…" Naruto looked down, "You see, I was painting… and… " Naruto whispered what exactly happened…

"…" the teenager's jaw dropped, staring at Naruto. He didn't say anything for a whole minute… "BWAHAHAHA!" he then burst out laughing, "You half bled to death because you STABBED yourself with a PAINTBRUSH?!" he laughed even louder

"HEY!" Naruto shouted, "It's not funny! I keep saying, paintbrushes have really sharp bristles!" he complained, and the guy laughed even harder

"Damn… with a paintbrush…!" he wiped a few tears out of his eyes, he was laughing that hard. It was then he leaned towards Naruto and tapped on his headband, "Hey, this thing isn't made out of paper is it? Seriously! There's no way you're really a ninja… HUH?!" he exclaimed when Naruto's hand shot up and grabbed his wrist

"Hm…" Naruto's expression changed completely as he glared dangerously at him, "I don't care being laughed at by some punk-ass stranger…" he tightened his grip, making the teen flinch from the pain, "But I won't have anyone insulting my pride as a shinobi." He said simply, and let go

"Urgh…!" the teenager pulled his hand back, clenching his teeth and rubbing his sore wrist. "Hm…" he stared at his hand, as Naruto huffed and walked away. "Interesting" he said to himself, seeing the bruises on his wrist. That kid, all of the sudden his personality changed, as if he had become a completely different person… Surely, it wasn't a normal kid he was dealing with. "Um, hey! Wait up!" he called

"What now?" Naruto stopped walking, and looked at the teenager

"Well… I'm sorry for laughing at you like that just now" the teenager looked down and apologized, "I went too far when I questioned the headband… I'm really sorry!"

"Hm?" Naruto blinked, staring at the teen. His expression changed and he smiled, "Heh-heh! No big deal! Apology accepted!" he grinned. It was rare that he received apologies from anyone, and by now he had completely forgiven the stranger. "By the way, I never got your name. You're not a ninja of the village, are you?"

"No, I'm not… although that's already obvious." he chuckled, straightening his glasses. He then held out his hand, "The name's Ebi"

"And I'm Uzumaki Naruto!" Naruto grinned, shaking hands with Ebi, really proud of himself for having made a new friend…

"Naruto you say?" Ebi's expression changed, "I've heard of you before…"

"Huh?" Naruto blinked, staring at Ebi

"The one who defeated Hyuga Neji in the final matches of the Chuunin Exams…" said Ebi, "That's not all, but you left your mark somewhere else, even before that… the Wave Country, 'The Great Naruto Bridge'?" Ebi smirked, crossing his arms

"Whoa… How do you know all that?!" Naruto gasped, "(As for the bridge, I've got no idea what he's talking about, but I'm being praised so it's fine!)"

"I travel a lot, I hear a lot of things…" said Ebi, "Believe it or not, you're pretty well known Naruto-kun, mostly from your exploits down in the Wave Country certainly haven't gone unnoticed, and they're still talking about it. After being gone from the Leaf for so long, it's nice to be greeted by the 'Hero' of the Waves!" he chuckled

At the mention of being a 'Hero' Naruto's face went a little red "Well… it was nothing really… I mean, not for me anyways! Being the great ninja that I am… Eh-heh-heh…" Naruto laughed embarrassingly, his head swelling up with pride… "Uh!" he shook his head, trying not to let the pride get to his head, and regained his composure. "Gone from the Leaf? What do you mean?" he asked

"Hmm… How do I say this…" Ebi crossed his arms and looked down, "You see, I may not be a shinobi of the leaf, but I'm not the type who sticks in one place either. You can say I'm sort of an adventurer. I travel abroad from place to place, across the lands, gaining knowledge of the world, and recording it all down" he said proudly, "You see, I'm no mere ninja. I am the super genius explorer sennin!"

"You're a sennin?" Naruto stared at him for a minute, "BWAHAHAHA!" it was Naruto's turn to burst out laughing

"Hey!" Ebi exclaimed, "What's so funny?!"

"You're a sennin?! Yeah right! You're barely older than me!" Naruto laughed, "Don't kid around! All the sennins I seen are powerful! Strong enough to be Hokage! You're not even a ninja, and you expect me to believe you're one of them?!"

"Age means nothing! You've heard of ten year old Jounins, haven't you?" Ebi said angrily, "I take it very personally that you laugh at me. I am a sennin, not just in terms of rank, but in the sense that I travel the world, seeking knowledge."

"Oh, okay…" Naruto calmed down, "But tell me… this 'knowledge' you search for… do you have to spy on women's baths to get it!?" Naruto started laughing again…


"ACK!" Naruto yelped when Ebi punched him over the head

"I warned you about laughing at me…" Ebi growled

"Ow…" Naruto grumbled, clutching his head. That's when he noticed something… "AH!" he exclaimed. His forehead protector! It was gone!

"Looking for something?" Ebi held up Naruto's headband, he had snatched it at that moment when he hit Naruto's head. "I can't believe you're that slow"

"Hey…" Naruto growled, "Give it back"

"Hmph…" Ebi didn't say anything, he simply dropped it. Before it hit the ground, he kicked it, causing it to land at Naruto's feet. As Naruto reached down and picked it up, Ebi turned around and walked away, "Damn brat…"


"AH!" Ebi exclaimed when something flew and hit him on the back of the head. He looked down and saw what it was the headband! "What the…?!

"And what'd I tell you about insulting my pride as a ninja!?" Naruto shouted, after throwing his headband at Ebi. "I don't care if you're a ninja, an explorer, a sennin or whatever the hell you wanna call yourself! I stake my life on my honour, and I won't have anyone insulting it! I challenge you right now!"

"Hmph…" Ebi frowned, closing his eyes and gripping Naruto's headband tight, "Fine then. I'll accept."

(Location- Practice Area)

It was getting late, and the sun was setting. Near the edge of the forest, Team 8's training session had gone into overtime, and the students were just finishing up.

"Oi! Hinata!" Kiba called, "We're done for the day, you can stop now!"

"N-no thank you, Kiba-kun!" Hinata replied as she stood in front of a padded log, striking again and again with her palms, "I-I would rather keep going!"

"Suit yourself…" Kiba replied. He and Shino walked along, leaving her behind

"Hanh… hanh…" Hinata panted, sweat ran down her forehead as she continued striking the target again and again. Closing her eyes, she struggled to keep going, using whatever strength she had. She tried to imagine she was fighting, and moved around the log, moving her body as if she were dodging the attacks. "Ah!" she exclaimed, stumbling and nearly losing her balance. Quickly, she regained her composure, and struck the target as hard as she can… "AH!" she cried out silently, when she hurt her hand on the log. She sighed sadly, and stepped away from the log

Though Hinata had been pushing herself a lot, no matter how much training she did, she never seemed to get stronger. It was as if there was some kind of wall, blocking her progress, keeping her from improving. She looked down at her aching hands and sighed. She was too weak, and she couldn't hit that inanimate log without hurting herself… It was no wonder her family was ashamed of her. The strength of the Hyuga family was supposed to be legendary, being the leaf's strongest clan, but she never lived up to their expectations. In their eyes, she was a failure…

"Hmmm…" Hinata sighed, her thoughts flying over a certain blue-eyed, blond-haired boy. "Naruto-kun…" she whispered to herself, thinking what he would've done in this situation. In her eyes, he was unlike anyone she had ever seen. The way he strived for his goal, trying his hardest at everything he did, never giving up no matter what… it intrigued her. What puzzled her most was why he was alone. True, he had done a number of pranks, but he never did anything to hurt anyone, nothing that deserved the cold, distant glares he was always subjected to by the villagers. There were so many things about him she didn't know, so many mysteries… "Oh!" she snapped back to attention, her face flushing a shade of crimson, finding herself lost in her thoughts about him again…

"He was always alone, yet he never gave up" Hinata thought to herself, standing back up. The reddish tint on her skin didn't go away, as she continued to train, but this time, she was moving faster than before… "If I could just be more like him…" she said to herself. The image of him standing there, flashing his trademark grin, it gave her confidence, it gave her strength. "Even just a little…" Her hand struck the target harder than before, the whole log shook under the impact. But then, the image of Naruto suddenly faded away, and the feelings of futility and weakness sank down on her. "Ow…" her face faulted. She clutched her hand as pain surged through it. "Maybe… then maybe it wouldn't hurt so much…" she sighed, falling to her knees…

"I'm so gonna kick your scrawny ass, ya four-eyed toothpick!" Naruto shouted

"Naruto-kun?!" Hinata exclaimed. That voice… was she hearing things? Cautiously, she peeked her head from the side of the log… It was really him! "Oh…!" she gasped, her hands covering her mouth as she stood there quietly… watching both Naruto-kun, and another person she had never seen before.

"Nice of you to point out my best features Naruto-kun…" Ebi stood five metres away from Naruto, facing him. Naruto still hadn't put back on his headband, and was still carrying it in his hand. "Or should I say, whiskered midget?" Ebi smirked

"That does it!" Naruto growled. He tied the headband around his forehead. He was duelling for his honour as a Leaf Ninja, and he wasn't about to lose!

"This will be our signal…" From out of nowhere, Ebi pulled out a scroll, "When this scroll touches the ground… we begin" he tossed the scroll into the air.

"Hmm…" Naruto took a fighting stance. The scroll fell from the air, and hit the ground… "RHAAAA!" Naruto darted forwards, whipping out a kunai and attacked

"HM!" Ebi moved his entire body and pushed Naruto's arm to the side, missing the stab from the kunai by a few inches. "I see you're not hesitating at all! GOOD!" Ebi whipped his sleeve down and smacked the kunai out of Naruto's hand, and then slammed him Naruto across the face with his elbow, causing him to stumble back. Ebi didn't give him the chance to recover, letting his sleeves fall back and revealing his fists, he leapt into assault, attacking him with a flurry of rapid punches. "HAAA!" Ebi's fist slammed into him at full strength, and Naruto was thrown back a couple of feet. "Hmm…" Ebi stood ready, holding his fighting stance, "Had enough?"

"Hmph… puh!" Naruto got up and spat to the side, "Don't make me laugh. I spit on your wimpy punches, you fake sennin!" The guy did have some skill, but DAMN was he weak! Even a punch from Sakura hurt more than anything Ebi did!

"Well… since you're not opposed to using weapons…" Ebi smirked and pulled his arms back into his sleeves, "Remember, you asked for it" he smirked, revealing his hands again, which were full of shuriken, "HAAAA!"

"WHOA!" Naruto dove down as Ebi hurled a load of shuriken at him. Those things nearly hit him! "GRRR… why you…! WA!" Naruto screamed and quickly rolled to the side, barely missing another round of shuriken!

"I can see you're pretty good at running!" Ebi smirked as he leapt into the air and threw another mass of shurikens down at Naruto.

"Kuso!" Naruto swore as he dove to the side and continued running, trying to get away as Ebi threw a seemingly endless barrage of shurikens, "Goddammit! He's making me look like an idiot! And where the hell is he getting all those shuriken?!" Ebi had finally run out, and the shuriken assault finally ended. The whole place was littered with them.

"A couple of things, 'whiskers'…" Ebi smirked, straightening his glasses, "First of all, you don't need me to look like an idiot, up till now you've been doing a pretty damn good job of that on your own. Secondly, you wanna know where I keep all my shuriken? Here! Take a good look!" pulled back both his sleeves, revealing his forearms. He had four shuriken holsters tied to each arm! "And last of all… I never run out" he held out both his hands… "RETURN!"

"HUH?!" Naruto gasped, looking around him. All the shuriken stuck in the ground seemed to come to life, spinning back into the air and towards Ebi!


"AAAH!" Naruto screamed when several shuriken behind him struck him in the arm. He fell over, and growled, "Argh… GRRR…!" Naruto grabbed the shuriken embedded in his arm, "GRAH!" He pulled them out. Examining them closely, they looked like normal shuriken, except they each had a strange mark that carved into it. "Hm!" he tossed them to the side. However, they didn't fall, and instead flew through the air, back to Ebi's waiting arms…

-CLICK- "That's all of them" Ebi said, as the shuriken flew back into the shuriken holsters, which were now full once again. "I specially designed these shuriken myself. With the seal binding the shuriken and holster together, they are always connected, and they will always return home" he explained, pulling down his sleeves to cover his forearms. "I just came back to the village, and beating up a kid will leave a bad taste in my mouth, so why don't you just save us both the trouble and just run on home? Believe me, it'll be a lot less embarrassing."

"Screw that! I'm not running!" Naruto shouted, forgetting the pain in his arms and standing up, "How do you expect me to save myself from embarrassment…" he growled, putting his hands together and forming a seal, "WHEN THERE'S NOTHING MORE SHAMEFUL THAN RUNNING AWAY?!" he roared, "KAGE BUNSHIN NO JUSTU!"

"WHAT?!" Ebi exclaimed, when the one Naruto he had just been fighting, suddenly became a hundred of them! "Kage bunshin no jutsu?! He knows such an advanced technique!?" he gasped, and that wasn't all! Naruto being able to make so many…

"RHAAAA!" the mob of Naruto's roared, as all of them charged towards Ebi…

"Grrr…" Ebi growled, but then calmed down. Clearly, he had underestimated the loud genin… but he wasn't gonna make that mistake twice. "Hm!" he put his hands together, and begun forming a seal of his own… "DOTON! CLAY SPIKE TOWERS NO JUTSU!" he shouted. The ground began to shake…


"AAAAH!" The army of Naruto's screamed, when gigantic spikes the size of towers, erupted from the ground below their feet, tearing through them…

"Ugh…" Ebi sighed, having used a lot of chakra. The earth element jutsu he used was meant for taking out numerous opponents, even armies if you put enough chakra…. Still though… he didn't think he'd have to resort to such an advanced technique…

"Ungh…" a faint voice was heard among the giant spikes. Emerging from them, was an exhausted, bleeding Naruto. "Agh… dammit! You bastard! That really hurt!" he shouted, regaining his previous composure, and forgetting all about the clay spikes attack, "I'll return all the pain you dealt me, tenfold! KAGE BUNSHIN NO JUSTU!" Naruto shouted, this time he made four copies of himself

"GAH…" Ebi gasped as the five Naruto's stood there. Even after using all those shadow clones, and taking the full power of that attack, the boy was acting like nothing had happened, and he even used that technique again?! While Ebi was trapped in his thoughts, the five Naruto's came charging at him, "AGH!" Ebi exclaimed as he took a blow from one of their fists and nearly fell back, but another one had jumped up from behind and kicked him on the back of the head. As Ebi fell forward, he was hit again and tossed back. He was being pounded on from every side! Suddenly, the real Naruto charged and uppercutted Ebi with all his strength, throwing him into the air and falling towards the ground.

"EAT THIS!" the real Naruto shouted, as the clones surrounded Ebi from all sides "U! ZU!" they all shouted, diving down at him and slamming him with their fists, "MA! KI!" they kicked him hard, flinging him into the air once again…

"AAAGH!" Ebi screamed as he flew upwards, and the real Naruto was ready to finish him off. "URGH… there's no way… I can take any more of this… my body won't be able to handle it!" he said to himself. Though Ebi was an experienced adventurer and a genius in terms of knowledge and thinking, the fact remained that Naruto was stronger than him in terms of physical strength and chakra endurance "If I don't do it now… he'll beat me…" he closed his eyes, channelling all his chakra…

"NARUTO RENDA-" Naruto shouted, kicking down at Ebi…

"CHIAAA!" Ebi roared, his expression suddenly changed. Before Naruto could hit him, Ebi struck Naruto with his fists and sent him flying. "GRRR…" he growled as he landed, "RHA!" he pounced forwards, before the clones could even move, tore through them and wiped out three of them in a single strike

"Huh?!" The remaining Naruto's jumped back, noticing a difference in Ebi. His movement, his speed, it was completely different from before!

"HA!" Ebi lunged forwards and kicked one of the Naruto clones in the stomach, causing him to disappear in a puff of smoke. Before he could react, Ebi spun around and slammed the real Naruto in the face with his fist.

"AGH!" Naruto exclaimed and flew back, "Ah…" he gasped, feeling his cheek. The pain from where Ebi hit him was intense… the impact from his fist was so much stronger than before! What was going on?!

"HAIYA!" Ebi shouted, striking down the last of the Naruto clones, and then turned back to the real one, "They say the Hyuga Clan's 'Gentle Fist' is an undefeatable Taijustu… but nameless as it is, my Taijustu is even more so…" Ebi said harshly. He sighed and dropped his stance, the power surrounding him seemed to fade, "Ugh…" he fell to his knees, panting

"W… what was that?!" Naruto gasped, staring at Ebi

"I just told you…" Ebi grumbled, "A special Taijutsu that reinforces the body with chakra, and increasing my movements, strength and resistance many times over. I'm probably the last remaining master of this style… and even then, I'm not that great…" he sighed, looking down sadly

"Are you kidding?! T-that was awesome! How can you say you're not great?!"

"I lack the strength and endurance…" Ebi sighed, "Even after just a short amount of time, I'm left completely drained. Let's face it, I'm not suited to be a fighter." he eyed Naruto, "You on the other hand… may be perfect"

"Say what?!" Naruto exclaimed

"Most of my techniques and fighting style uses large amounts of chakra, the likes of which you have to spare" Ebi closed his eyes and smirked, "How about it?" he held out his hand, "I can pass on my jutsus to you, if you're willing to learn them!"

"I…" Naruto didn't know what to say. Thinking back to the battle, remembering the techniques Ebi used, and how strong even a weakling like him could become by using this style… "I accept!" he shook Ebi's hand

"A wise decision my friend!" Ebi laughed, and Naruto joined in. Ebi sighed and leaned back, "It's gotten pretty late. We've been out here for a long time!"

"Really? Whoa…" Naruto stared up at the night sky. The moon was shining bright, and thousands of stars glittered overhead…

"I know you're there, and I know you were watching. You can come out now…" Ebi called over to the side

"Hm?" Naruto turned around, and saw what Ebi was talking about, "Huh? Hinata?"

"A… ano…" Hinata looked down. She had been watching the whole thing.

"Friend of yours?" asked Ebi, staring at Hinata suspiciously. He noticed her white pupils, indicating she was of the Hyuga clan

"Oh yeah, she is! Come on over Hinata! Don't be shy!" Naruto waved at her, motioning her to come closer

"Easy for you to say…" Ebi smirked

"What was that?" asked Naruto

"Nothing" Ebi chuckled, noticing Hinata's behaviour around Naruto. It was pretty plain to see that the Hyuga girl had feelings for the blond kid…

"Ah… N-Naruto-kun" Hinata spoke nervously, looking down at the ground, "I-I saw the whole thing, from the beginning. You were amazing…" she looked down, blushing even harder, "Um… w-who is this man?"

"I am Ebi, Konoha's premiere adventurer!" Ebi said happily

"(Ebi the fake sennin is more like it)" Naruto muttered, so no one could hear

"It's an honour to meet you, Ebi-san…" Hinata gave a polite little bow

"Heh-heh-heh!" Naruto chuckled, grinning happily, "Hey Hinata! Did you really mean what you said just now? Was I really that amazing?"

"Ano… ummm… y-y-yes…" Hinata stuttered, while Naruto stared at her, clueless.

"Ahem" Ebi cleared his throat, getting their attention and saving Hinata from further embarrassment. "As I said Naruto, I'm gonna teach you my techniques, but I should also warn you, it isn't gonna be easy."

"I'm not worried about that part" Naruto replied, "When do we start?"

"Whenever you're ready. I'm not going anywhere for a long time" said Ebi

"Then we can start tomorrow!" exclaimed Naruto

"Sure, whatever suits you best" said Ebi, "Of course, be sure to look for me at the other practice area. You know, the one that has three logs?"

"Yeah, I know that one" Said Naruto, remembering the place where he first did the bell test with Kakashi, and ended up being tied to one of the logs, "We meet there?"

"Right! Now that that's settled, I'm just gonna lay out here under the stars…" Ebi leaned back and sighed, "See you later"

"Bye Ebi! See you later!" said Naruto. He stopped for a moment, "Just for the record, I STILL don't believe you about the sennin thing!" he around "Hey, Hinata! It's pretty late, and a girl shouldn't be walking out alone. Mind if I walk you home?"

"Oh…! Um… I-I… well…" Hinata stuttered, blushing redder than ever

"Heh, cute…" Ebi chuckled. "But DAMN is he rude! He still doesn't believe me?" he then sighed, "I guess it's not too surprising… when you think of what I'm being compared to…" he thought of the legendary three. That Naruto… he was a real interesting kid. The moment he saw Naruto, he knew he sensed something strange about him, and now he was definitely sure. That boy, he was the one, the vessel of the Nine-tailed demon fox, Kyubi. His personality, being so loud and obnoxious… this was the behaviour of someone who lived his live alone, rejected by others, and craving the attention he so desperately needed. It was really sad… the way Naruto smiled like that, because it wasn't real. That brought another subject to mind… the ever so cute and shy Hinata-chan of the prestigious Hyuga Clan, who was so obviously smitten by the boy. It was nice that Naruto had at least one person who believed in him…

"Uzumaki Naruto… he has a lot of potential, but as far as he goes right now, he's still the raw materials… waiting to be forged and tempered." Ebi clenched his knuckles tight. Ebi had sensed something in Naruto, dormant talent… and had purposely picked that fight with him so he could be certain. Sure enough, Naruto had met his expectations… "I'll stake my honour as a craftsman… and with my own two hands, I'll take those materials and forge you into the finest shinobi this world has ever seen. Just you wait Naruto… I can make you STRONG…" He smirked, "When I'm done with you, you'll be a skilled, determined, and competent ninja!"


"NARUTO-KUN!" Hinata screamed when Naruto fainted from a lack of blood

"Ugh… KICK HIM!" Ebi called over to Hinata. (WHAM!) Naruto yelped out loud after being kicked by Hinata. "Correction… When I'm done with you, you'll be a skilled and determined ninja. That's all…" Ebi sighed

As Naruto walked off into the night, little did he know this was just the beginning… his first step into becoming the greatest ninja of all time. Though he didn't realize it yet… the awesome power he was soon to wield… with the help of the dubiously-titled sennin Ebi, and the shy Hinata supporting him from afar, will he overcome the many challenges and hardships that awaits him? What lies in store for him?

(To Be Continued)