Epilogue – A Twist of Fate

"So you failed, that was unexpected, and unfortunate," it was a dark voice, laced with cruelty, and assured power.

"It was the shadow-souled," Itachi answered the accusation, rubbing the small thin scars across his palms. "I was not prepared for him, so we were delayed. Somehow, they overcame Kisame's men."

"Therefore, Mist now retains the power of Mizuho, a power that has already proven a match for one of us, and the Hoshigake seems potent as well. This could prove troublesome. We may have to recalculate our plans."

"I do not believe that is necessary," Itachi answered. "They may have caught us by surprise once, but it's nothing that can't be handled."

"Besides," Kisame added. "No matter what, there's only the two of them."

"That's true," the dark voice acknowledged. "Then we will go on as before, but remain cautious of this."

Itachi nodded, but he could not help feel a strange trepidation. Only two of them? The Uchiha suddenly had a strange vision in the back of his mind, of a pair of eyes formed of nothing but shimmering rainbow hues, inhuman and impenetrable. Without knowing why, he suddenly shivered.

Looking away from the dance of flames Mizain Yuki smiled. "So, everything has proceeded as I planned," he whispered. "The villages will survive, but not unscathed, all possible paths point to a time to strike. Foolish men, Orochimaru, Akatsuki, to plan only a short time in the future. The strength of the ninja is in planning for lifetimes."

Yet even as he said this, Yuki caught the last flicker of the dancing flames, and saw a cold premonition of something rise from the sea. In that moment he could not help but wonder if there was someone who had planned even more thoroughly than he.

End.

Forged in Water Afterword

So, Forged in Water is done. It's 107,720 words according to the word counter and 179 pages of Microsoft Word document. It marks the third novel length work I've completed (two fanfictions and one original piece). My thoughts on this piece are rather different than for Behind Killer's Eyes, my previous fanfic. So I thought I put them down in case people are interested.

I am pleased with how this story turned out, but not as much with Behind Killer's Eyes, strangely, because I think the characters in this were better and the plot more dramatic. However, I think I pinpointed the reasons. Critically Forged in Water ends in the middle, the story of Ise, Yi, and Saki does not actually end here obviously, but neither will I continue to write anything more. Linked to this is that Forged in Water lacks a real villain, the people that are fought are mostly just obstacles in the way to Ise completing his mission the Akatsuki make their appearance, but its brief and the confrontation is not the meaningful one that will take place in the future. So, that's kind of left an empty feeling for me here at the end. Still, since the story of these characters wouldn't legitimately end until well after the real story of Naruto probably will, and would require basically the complete destruction of the Naruto universe to continue, it will stay where it is now.

From that, I'll move onto something else. Behind Killer's Eyes came to be through a strong interest I developed in Neji, but Forged in Water was motivated to writing through a lot of anger. This story takes a lot of fairly clear shots at the ideology of Naruto, a set of beliefs I have come more and more to believe are totally incompatible with the word ninja. That's why this story is so very dark and angry. Still, I think it gave me something interesting to explore. This is a story about being born a monster, in three very different ways, and what happens to people who are that way. There are some weird ideas in here, and they aren't very happy even at best, but I hope they cut fairly deep at times.

The strangest thing about Forged in Water is that it is a fanfiction, but one that involves none of the main plots actual characters (well, at least as anything more than cameo roles). I liked doing this, and believe it should be done more, especially in a world like Naruto. I tried to show that they was more to things than the struggle of a few genin from Leaf village, and that other countries had a hand in great decisions of the past. That I believe is the real strength of Forged in Water, and I think it showed off the best. I liked taking Mist village and rain village ad giving them some life.

Beyond that there are only the characters, and I'd like to share a few thoughts on each. Also, I sort of tie each character in some way to a particular song, and I'll identify those as well, perhaps others will find it fitting.

Hoshigake Ise: The protagonist, Ise, is the man bearing a heavy burden, cursed by a harsh bloodline, a harsh past, and the scorn of others, he suffers much the same as someone like Sasuke could be expected to, but is a very different person. Instead of a drive for vengeance Ise reacted to betrayal by striving to prove his loyalty, a conviction that only grows as the story progresses. I like Ise, both for his shark-ness (such great animals) and his general level headness. In some ways he reminds me of Gosain from Behind Killer's Eyes, simply with all the nasty consequences of the Hoshigake bloodline. To me, Ise, though the weakest of the three weapons of Mist, is definitely their leader. He may be the best protagonist I've created so far, a multi-faceted person with a series of very real choices behind him.

Ise's theme is "Wings of Despair" by Kamelot

Mizain Yi: In many ways the story centers on what is happening to Yi, because she is the trigger for so many events. This somewhat hurt her character early, because she was so constantly desperate and her world was falling apart, but it allowed me to gradually build her up. She was a hard character to write, in part because of her situation and in part because of her abilities. To have that kind of driving anger inside of you, it would be so strange, impossible to really imagine. I realy felt Yi came into her own in the desert chapters, and I was really proud of her scene with the sand ninja, which was a real challenge to write convincingly. Interestingly, this is the third long work I've written, and all have had strong dual male/female lead roles. It's something I seem to do commonly. By the way, if anyone was wondering about the pseudo-romantic element between Ise and Yi I'll lead it up to each reader to decide exactly how far things go between them. I really never made a decision myself, aside from them being the very closest of friends.

Yi's theme is "Higher the Hope" by Nightwish

Shiro: The original reason for Shiro's existence is very simple: I was certain from the beginning that I wanted Ise and Kisame to fight, but Itachi is always with Kisame, so I needed a way to take care of that. This resulted in the whole shadow-souled trick, a great bit of character work for Yi, and one really great fight sequence between Shiro and Itachi. It occurred to me almost immediately after I created him that having and eyeless ninja fight Itachi would just make for a great moment. I like how Shiro was there, and he fulfilled his purpose well I believe.

Shiro's theme is "Nemo" also by Nightwish

Stomatoa Saki: those who have read the aborted 'Storm Chains' know that Saki was originally a character in that tale. I am somewhat enthralled by Stomatopods (mantis shrimp) which are really just cooler and deadlier than anything else out there. Therefore Saki was able to jump into this story easily enough. She serves to illustrate a very different way to make a weapon than Ise or Yi, and really the ultimate extension of the mist ninja ideal. She's very scary, very, very powerful, and good fun. She also worked as a story device by which I could let Akai and Mizukage speak to her, revealing things about the Mist ninja world. I hope others found her to be fun as well.

Saki's theme is ".Strange" by Son of Rust

The 6th Mizukage: The Mizukage marks the second major Kage I have detailed in the fanfic (after the Raikage in Behind Killer's Eyes). He's a very interesting character to me, a true pragmatist, and a man who concerns himself only with the results and not the morality of the situation until it is over. I worked very hard with him to try and come up with a legitimate explanation for the supposed persecution of the bloodline clans (something that initially doesn't make much sense, why kill you best ninja?). I believe the explanation I derived is a decent one, and the Mizukage's unrepentant damnation is one of the most interesting and disturbing concepts I've ever played with.

The Mizukage's theme is "Puritania" by Dimmu Borgir

The Warlord Akai: Now Akai is an intriguing character. He is not a nice person, not heroic at all. He highlights all the differences between a village like the Leaf, where he would be considered a villain, and the village of Mist, where he is much valued. Akai has only two redeeming qualities, he's effective, and he's loyal. His presence is very important to the story, and he was just plain fun to write with in his one major combat scene. I quite proud of his character, because he seems very believable and I like nasty believable people. He is also basically the same at the end of the story as he was at its conception, which was good because he was not meant to be changed by it, and I think it was excellent that the character held together throughout. In the end it really all comes back to Akai. It should be noted that Akai very deliberately has no surname; this is meant to symbolize how he has no life beyond being a ninja, and no true family.

Akai's theme is "Requiem for the Innocent" by Kamelot

I think that covers all the major characters. I do note that Aburame Shino had a guest appearance in this story, twice actually. I really like his character, and I found writing his fight sequence at the end was just great. I'm already working on a new project involving him, so for those disappointed in the ending here, look forward to that.