by Random Writer 46
Thanks for the reviews people, and I'm kind of bushed! I might spend a little more time on the next chapter, but I hope you guys will forgive me for that! And I just recently, re-reading through my previous chapters and repeated mentioning by reviewers, realized that my Naruto might be a bit too Mary Sue-y. Well, I'm not quite sure how to go about fixing that right now, but be sure that I will!
Oh, and I realize that Haku was kind of OOC. I'll get around to fixing that too, promise!
Interlude: Legend of the Holy Shark
An eight-year old Naruto trudged through the woods, alone and silent in his thoughts. What he had read on the scroll that his father had given to him for his birthday had shocked him, and he wanted some time alone. There was no way he could stay where his foster-father was... since the scroll itself had partly been about him.
He was confused, bewildered.
And it was a question why he had found himself to this place, this temple in the middle of nowhere.
He had spotted it a mile away on the cliff edge near the ocean. The moment he had seen its thatched roof the building had attracted him for some reason, and he wanted to go near it. He wanted to see what it was, what it was made of. Why was he like that with just one single look?
He had gotten down from where he had been standing, and travelled through the forest to the building. The survival skills that his father had taught him had helped immensely with lasting the amount of time he had spent in the wilderness, away from society.
When he found that flight of stairs in the clearing, the one that lead up to the large building, the one that he could see now to be a temple, he was compelled to go up. The eight-year old mind that he was couldn't resist, and he walked up, and here he was, standing in front of the large double-doors, afraid to enter.
The entire premise had an air of being forgotten, of being archaic beyond ages. Something inside him resonated with the pulses, though he didn't understand what was going on. Red chakra had started gathering around him, when the double-doors started opening.
His throat clenched, as the doors opened inwards with their click-clack sound.
"Sonny, what are you doing here?"
Suddenly, in front of him, stood an old man.
He was a small person, a hobbled little stranger with a knobbed cane in one hand. White hair flowed down his shoulders and downwards. He was wearing a white robe, and looked like something out a fairy tale. His dim, yet beautiful green eyes peeked out curiously from under white brows at the youngster in orange in front of him.
"Oh boy, oh boy! You're all covered with dirt and grime! Come in here, we'll tidy you up and fix you a quick meal. Youngsters like you shouldn't be so far out in the wilderness. A bit of nature's good, but to sample it to such an extent... well. What have you been doing to yourself?"
"Um, it's okay, ojisan." Naruto found himself saying, a little surprised. "I don't wanna cause too much trouble..."
Even young, manners had been drilled into him by his father.
"Nonsense, what sort of trouble could a young'un like you cause?" The old man said, busy gentling prodding the blonde fox-boy inwards with his cane. "Come on in, there's a shower down the left corridor, you can find it for yourself. I'll go prepare a small meal for both of us, I'm pretty hungry myself..."
Young Naruto's protests were ignored.
"What are you doing, living out here all the way, ojisan?" Naruto asked the old man who he was sitting beside. In his hand he held a pair of chopsticks, and he had been halfway through eating a dumpling when he had thought of the question.
After the old man had gently forced him into the temple, he had been ushered into the washroom and told to take a bath. Slightly embarassed, yet as sure of the man's hospitality as an eight-year old could be, he quickly washed himself and stepped out. His grime-ridden clothing had seemingly been magically cleaned, and was left on the floor folded and looking as good as the day they were made.
Now he was in the courtyard of the temple, sitting beside the kind old man, eating a simple meal consisting a few oriental dishes. Too bad there weren't noodles of any kind, though.
The old man caught his questioning glance, and laughed heartily. It was strange, something like that coming out of a body so small. Naruto found himself staring, before his heavily-ingrained manners suddenly popped up and forced him to turn away.
"Well... when a body gets old, the first thing that goes is the senses. I couldn't handle all that noise in the city, so I decided to move out back. This temple here, you see? I made it with my own two hands. Alas, that was around twenty years ago..." The old man said wistfully. "Now, you might doubt that the old man in front of you, but keep in mind that I wasn't this old twenty years ago."
Naruto stared at the old man half his size in disbelief.
The old man gave another bout of hearty laughter.
"I've been living out here ever since... It's not that bad." He said, grinning.
"But...! Isn't it boring?" Naruto asked, the drilled-in manners breaking their hold for a second. "I mean, there's not even anything you could do out here! Isn't it better to live somewhere with more people, so you could talk to them and stuff?"
"Nah, there's a lot here to talk to," said the midget elder. "The birds talk in their own way, chirping and singing. Birdsong has magical healing qualities, you know. The woodland critters all talk in their own way, their circle of life. The flowers and plants can communicate too, you know. I do it all the time."
Naruto stared at the old man as if he was crazy.
It was there that Naruto stayed for a few days. He trained daily in the courtyard, the old man giving advice with skills every now and then. It turned out that the old man, who's name was Seisame, had been a ninja in his youth and was quite proficient still in coaching.
He had learnt several techniques of his father's taijutsu style, the Hakkyokuseiken. The old man had proven also to be a pretty good sparring partner for the eight-year old, constantly using his cane like a sword in kenjutsu. Most of his attacks and jutsu were water-based, and didn't cause any serious damage to the younger boy except cause a small cold, for which the older man had brewed up a cup of medicine and instantly cured.
The second day after Naruto's arrival in the temple, Seisame had suddenly grown interested in the reason that Naruto was out here. After telling Seisame of his want to escape from his life for a short while, the older man had thought about it for a while, and decided to let the younger one stay for a few days more to sort out the emotions that clouded his heart.
The third day after Naruto's arrival, he had suddenly spotted a framed picture in the entry hall of the temple. It was of a ninja wearing a headband that Naruto had never even saw in a textbook before standing on a small island and surrounded by sharks. In the sky was a cross, and the ninja seemed to be looking upwards at it, and praying.
"Who's that?" Naruto had asked.
The old man looked back at it and smiled.
"That's a memory of a worst time." He said, gazing fondly at the framed picture. Was it a picture though? It looked intensely real, more like a photograph, yet Naruto knew nothing in real life could be like that. The ninja was grossly disporportionate with the rest of the picture, being way to big. "Would you like to hear about it?"
Naruto nodded. He loved stories.
The old man smiled, and invited Naruto into another room. This one was nicely furnished, and there was a fire roaring in the fireplace. Seisame made himself comfortable in the large velvet chair, and Naruto settled for the cushions on the ground.
Slowly, gently, the old man started telling the tale...
The Wave was not always what it is today. Before there was civilization here on this island, before there was even a lot of ninjas, there were pirates. Bloodthirsty pirates that roamed the seven seas, looking for treasure to plunder and towns to loot. But there was one thing they all had in common, they all made their homes on the island of the Wave.
They were fearsome, and they were arrogant. They crushed the spirits of the people in the towns of the Wave with money and power, and killed anybody who dared disobey. They were demons, men without hearts. And the people desired freedom from them. They wanted somebody who could save them, get rid of the pirate plague that was infecting their beautiful land.
It was an age where shinobi were still little-known, where shinobi were nothing more than assassins hired only by the wealthy. It was an age where shinobi were without morals, demon-like in stature and demon-like in spirit.
Yet one day, a ninja appeared on a boat on a beach. He was recieved by the people poorly. The people thought he had been hired by the pirates to keep order on the island and keep the people from rising against their cruel and unjust rulers.
And so it came as a nasty yet pleasant shock when the first thing he did was to cut off the head of the local pirate boss. It soon spread all over the island.
A ninja who fought for right, who fought for good? Could there be such a thing? Many of the people wrote it off as nothing more than hopeful rumours, as it was something that was impossible. Shinobi were tied to the coin as much as mercenaries, and were bound by nothing more than their salaries.
They had no reason to save people.
But more and more people were convinced as pirate bosses fell dead all over the island, and the spirits and hopes of the people began to revive. Soon, there was left but one pirate boss, the pirate boss of all pirate bosses, the one that even the kingliest of pirates reported to.
His name was Admiral Gato.
The people's spirits were full of vigor, and they picked up their weapons, after being repressed for so long, and marched onwards to Gato's keep. They laid siege to the pirate's castle, day after day and night after night. When it seemed to be all lost, a miracle suddenly happened.
A pillar of light erupted from the ground, and shot up into the sky. The people, as far as they were into land, could hear the sounds of seagulls and waves crashing against the shore. They remembered what they were fighting for.
They fought for their lives, their futures, and their home.
They wouldn't fall.
And then he appeared. They called him the Holy Shark. He covered his face with a mask and a headband, and no one of the people knew who he was. He stepped forwards, and commanded the people. It was soon obvious that he was none other than the shinobi who had been aiding the people in their efforts all along to retrieve their land, and they welcomed him with open arms.
They marched upon Gato's keep once again, and this time they held strong. The barged through the front door, and into the pirate boss's sanctum. The Holy Shark walked upwards, and instantly killed Admiral Gato with a kunai to the throat.
And the people rejoiced.
In the midst of celebration, the shinobi vanished. There are those who say he disappeared into the woods, into the mountains, and there are those who say he went back to where he came from and became, if he wasn't already, a highly-respected shinobi.
But there was one thing the people was sure about, and that was he would always be respected as long as they made sure the legend was passed on, so that youngsters could grow up and aspire to become like this illusionary, wondrous man...
"...and that's the end of that." The old man said, smiling.
Naruto had drifted off in the middle of the story-telling, and was lying face down on the velvet cushion that he had been sitting on just a bit ago. Seisame smiled at the youngster on the bed, and carried him to his room to get some rest.
This boy was interesting... Very interesting.
"It's about time you go now, young man," said the old man as he watched the youngster whom he had gotten used to tie up his shoes and pack up a few things to take home to his father. "Now go back to your father instantly, and tell him sorry for making him wait and worry. If there's one thing that's important in this world, it's family bonds."
Naruto grinned as he jumped up happily.
"No worries, ojisan!" said the energetic young blonde. Spending time in the presence of the happy old man had gotten him to smile as well. He had stripped away the mask that he wore around people he was unfamiliar with, and had became what he really was, a happy, young child. Too full of innocence to be dragged down by anything. "You take care now!"
They were standing on the porch in front of the temple. Naruto was still getting ready before leaving, and Seisame was watching his young friend pack up, before something suddenly hit him. Naruto looked at him strangely as he hurried inside, and retrieved something from a shelf in the entrace hallway.
He passed it to Naruto, and the blonde fox-boy stared at it wondrously. It was a beautiful white kunai.
"Oh, thanks, ojisan!" The young boy cried happily. "I finally get a kunai I can use!"
"Now, now. This kunai's very special. It's not a weapon, but a promise of protection," said the old man warmly. "You don't need it, since you're strong enough yourself, but one day you'll come across a person who needs help. A person who needs help protecting those that he cares about. And when you find that person, give this to them."
Naruto looked at the old man strangely.
"Really? But what's that gonna do?"
"They'll recieve the power to defend, boy!" The old man said. "The power of protection is stronger than any other force alive on this earth... Except perhaps exluding 'love'. But only give this to somebody who seems really serious about it, somebody who can't get the strength by themselves."
Naruto looked at the white kunai, and back at the old man.
"Alright... I don't really get it, but I'll do that!" He said, grinning. "Bye bye, ojisan!"
And with that, he ran down the stairs to the temple, grinning madly all the way and waving goodbye to the old man who had taken him the entire week that he had spent inside the temple. Seisame waved back heartily, smiling as well. As the blonde fox-boy passed out of view, the old man suddenly seemed to age.
"Thank you for releasing me, boy... I know the Wave will be safe now."
And with one last laugh, the old man seemed to vanish into thin air.
The temple too, broke off into little pieces, and started drifting off into the sky. Within seconds, there was nothing left in the clearing except a large boulder standing in the middle, with a little inscription on it.
May your soul forever
guide us, and may
your flesh forever
...But there was one thing that the people didn't know.
In their midst he left a son, a remainder of his bloodline. A son whose power would awake once confronted with a white key.
It would be his blood that would help protect the Wave again, if anything ever happened that these bloodthirsty pirates revive and try to take over again. And thus the people of the Wave could live in peace.
One day however, their peaceful sanctity would be compromised. More men of greed would come, and try to dominate the beautiful island that was their paradise. But the people of the Wave need not worry.
For then the Holy Shark... would revive again.