Disclamer: I don't own Naruto.

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Authoress' Note: Whoa, it has been more than a year already? Time passes really fast eh? Anyways, I would be apologizing feverishly but I'm sure that you'll want to skip this and read the chapter. So the note can wait; happy reading!

By the way, READ THE IMPORTANT NOTICE AT THE END!!

Dedication: Lynn and her wonderful work in the beta'ing of this chapter. Thanks Lynn!

Length: 4364 words without the ANs.

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Legend:

"blah" normal talks

"blah" Kyuubi talking

'blah' Naruto thinking – Telepathy

'blah' Kyuubi thinking

"…blah…" only for Jutsus

((blah)) Author's note

(blah) notes for story

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Truth

By Yue Hime

Chapter 12 – Third Stage of Chuunin Exams Pt 2.1

...

Haruno Sakura/Echiten Mana

VS

Yamakana(sp?) Ino/Hyuuga Hinata

...

Natsumi looked at her friends with warm eyes. She walked to their side, with the intention to cheer them on. "Ino-chan, Hinata-chan." She said, catching their attention. "Don't pay any attention to others, do only your best. I know that you guys shall be the victors!"

Hinata smiled warmly at her friend. "Thanks Natsumi-chan." Then, she leaped out of the spectators' floor and into the arena with Ino by her side.

Natsumi gazed at Hinata with pride while the audience watched, wide eyed; there was such a dramatic change in the once shy girl's attitude that it baffled them. In their eyes, Hinata was always this shy, soft-spoken and hesitating girl. Some had gazed her with pity, others had sneered at her unfitness as the Hyuuga Heiress. Now, as girl confidently jumped into the stadium, they started to reconsider their opinions.

Indeed, Hinata had always been a gentle soul crushed by the Clan. Yet, within a week, she seemed to change completely. Her eyes now held only sheer determination; the hesitation and the nervousness had disappeared altogether. Instead, confidence radiated from all around her. Undeniably, Hinata was blooming into a talented kunoichi while still being her gentle and soft-spoken self. Her sudden change had bought several new questions in the viewers' minds. Some loudmouths shouted their questions publicly while others, more reserved – and dare I say more prudent – whispered amongst themselves. The stadium buzzed with people's questions, and in the mist of them, one happened to be identical: how in the hell did she turn this confident so fast?

In the sideline, Natsumi smirked. Yes, that was definitively a mystery to them… but not for her.

...

Magen: Flashback no Jutsu!

It was a starless night. Natsumi had just finished her trainings of the day with the ever-sadistic training freak Kenshin-nii… No need to say, she was grumpy and sore. While mentally cursing Kenshin in several languages that would make the sailor's ears bleed, Natsumi walked tiredly in the direction of home. She stayed in that massacring mood until she heard some crying in the woods nearby. Driven by curiosity, she went to the search of the source. As she got nearer, she began to make out a dark silhouette; her curiosity went up a notch. She approached the black form to see clearer… it was Hinata! Natsumi immediately went to her friend's side and kneeled down. With a gentle pat on Hinata's shoulder, she asked her friend why she was crying..

Hinata looked at her feet, tears falling from her milky lavender eyes.

"I…" she couldn't continue.

Natsumi stared at her crushed friend whose eyes were puffy and red from the crying. The gears in her head functioned with rapidity. Hinata might be shy, but she was by no mean a crybaby. There MUST be something wrong with her life for her to be crushed like this! The only two reasons Natsumi could think off were Hinata's love life – which she was sure was almost non-existent – or some family problems.

It couldn't be love problems; then it must be family reasons! Natsumi narrowed her eyes; she had heard a lot about the Hyuuga Clan… But she never thought that they would stoop this low! Looking down at her still crying friend, she breathed in deeply to try to calm herself; after all, It wouldn't make things any better for Hinata if she let her anger show.

"Hinata-chan… is it your family...?" she asked softly, after she finally calmed down. Her friend didn't answer, merely continued sobbing. Natsumi was blinded with fury; so she was right – it WAS that idiotic clan of Hyuuga! She stood up, dragging Hinata with her and headed to the Hyuuga compound.

"Hinata… Come on."

"W-what…? N-Natsumi-chan…?"

Natsumi didn't answer. Her eyes were tainted with a pink glow. Meanwhile inside her, Kyuubi tried desperately to calm her fury, Hinata started to guess their direction. Scared, she tried to pull out of Natsumi's dead grip on her wrist.

Natsumi stopped dead in her tracks, causing Hinata to bump into her. She slowly turned around. "Hinata-chan. This is enough. I WON'T STAND my friend being HUMILIATED by her OWN clan-members! ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!"

Hinata stared at her friend, unsure of what to say. A part of her was happy that someone had stood up for her, yet the other part was scared of the outcome – not only for her safety, but for Natsumi's as well.

As if she had guessed Hinata's worries, Natsumi's eyes softened. "Don't worry Hinata-chan. Nothing will harm you or me; I promise you!" she smiled gently, and then she, once again, headed in their original direction with Hinata silently trailing behind her.

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They arrived at the Hyuuga compound. Without even alerting the residents to their presence, Natsumi marched straight into the big main-house. While the guards were shouting threats and trying to arrest them, Natsumi went to Hiashi's study. The man was sitting behind his desk, writing something on a scroll. At their sudden arrival, he jumped up and stood in the Hyuuga Gentle Fist stance. Once he finally realised who the intruders were, he relaxed, but still stayed on guard, just in case if it was some kind of genjutsu.

"Uzumaki-san." He addressed Natsumi formally, as if he was speaking to an important visitor.

"Hyuuga-sama." Replied Natsumi, her voice cold like ice. No, she wasn't about to give that bastard the satisfaction. Gritting her teeth, she swore to make justice for her friend.

"May I ask of what important matter you must discuss to make this urgent rendezvous with me… With my older daughter in tow…?" he asked coolly.

Natsumi looked at Hiashi with fire blazing in her eyes and glared at the man in front of her. She might not be well adverse in formatted speech like Kenshin or Ryuusuke, but she knew what the hidden meaning of Hiashi's question was.

With a voice of barely suppressed anger, she replied coldly. "Hyuuga-sama, I want to know the reason why Hinata-chan was caste aside and I request that she'll be treated as she deserves: as the HEIRESS of the Clan. "

Hiashi narrowed his eyes. "I'm afraid that this is a personal matter Uzumaki-san."

With cold eyes like steel, Natsumi glared at Hiashi, her eyes as cold as steel. "Then I challenge you, Hyuuga-sama, to a match."

"You think you can force that out from me? Are you certain that you can beat me?" Cold and calculating eyes stared back at the Uzumaki Heiress.

"This is not a matter of wining, but to me, this is the matter of Hinata-chan's honour. I may not have much experience like you, Hyuuga-sama, but I can't be the future Lady of the Uzumaki if I have no tricks in my sleeves." Determination burning in her eyes, Natsumi stood there proudly, challenging one of the most powerful men of Konohagakure.

"Very well. Then do come with me Uzumaki-san." Hiashi turned sharply and began to walk to an undetermined destination. Natsumi and Hinata trailed behind him.

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"The rules?" asked Natsumi.

"Ninjutsu, Taijutsu and Genjutsu are allowed, but no Kenjutsu or Kinjutsu. No fatal wounds, we wouldn't want you dead in my house."

Natsumi clenched her fist in anger. So he thought that he would be able to fatally wound her did he? Fine! She'll make him swallow his own words!

"Accept."

"Good." Replied Hiashi. He gestured one of the Hyuuga at the door to come to his side, and whispered something in the branch member's ears.

"Hai Hiashi-sama." The branch member bowed and left the room.

"What did you say to him, father?" asked Hinata who was silent during the whole thing.

Hiashi eyed his daughter. It seemed that during this small time, Hinata had gained some self-confidence, no matter how small it was. After all, she never had the courage of asking him something, even if it was of great importance.

"I told him that under no circumstance should he or any other clan member interfere with the fight. He and another branch member will stand by the door and will let no one in; not even one of the Elders."

Natsumi smiled. "Thank you Hiashi-sama."

"No need to thank me, we have a score to settle."

Natsumi nodded and fell into her Clan's taijutsu stance. Hiashi's eyes widened a fraction. It was the Taijitu (1) Stance… one that derived from the Ancient Middle Kingdom (2) to their land. It was said that this stance was heavenly blessed. The one who mastered the style would be invincible… well, as invincible a mortal could be. The Taijitu stance used open palms and closed off fingers to strike it's opponent's Xuewei (3), which were thousands of spots on the human bodies. Xuewei, which stand for acupoints, was a word from the Taijutu Stance's birthplace. Each xuewei had its own property. Unlike the Gentle Fist that sealed the tenketsu to block the chakra, the Taijitu sealed these xuewei for different purposes – mostly death or paralysis. For an exemple, if the Taijitu sealed the Taiyangxue (4) on either side of the forehead, then it would be an immediate death. On the contrary, if the Taijitu user stroked the two Xuewei that were on both shoulder blades, the opponent would be paralysed for two hours…

Hiashi cleared his mind. It wouldn't help him more if he became rigid by this revelation. Closing his eyes as he took a deep breath. He activated his Byakugan and fell into the Jyuuken stance, palm open before him.

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Seeing that Hiashi stood there not moving an inch, Natsumi attacked first. Her open palm suddenly changed to two fingers closely glued together. With his Byakugan activated, Hiashi could see white chakra emitting from the tips of her fingers. Quickly, he dodged the attack.

"So you know the Taijitu style?"

"Hai… A legendary warrior of the Middle Kingdomwho came to our country trusted solely our clan with this martial arts style."

"Is that so… But I doubt you have mastered this secretive art." Said Hiashi as he began to sprint to Natsumi, palm open.

"I may not have completely mastered this art, I still know the base. And I shall emerge victorious from this!" promised Natsumi, preparing for the attack.

"Foolish girl, you think that you can win this fight with only the base? Taijitu is much more complex than that! And while Jyuugan is ineffective against Taijitu, knowing the base won't save you from the Jyuugan!" Hiashi began to attack Natsumi, pushing chakra out from the middle of his palm. Natsumi evaded the first attack but got destabilized by the other hand that came just after.

'Fast!' She thought as she started to understand why Hiashi was one of the most powerful men of Konohagakure… Yet she couldn't surrender, she mustn't! Natsumi twisted her body in a 180 degree turn and using her momentum, she threw herself up. In the air, she put her hands together. Quickly, on the tip of her each fingers, a small glow of Qi (5) started to form; it soon covered both her hands, seemly having glued them together. She shone, slightly. Almost immediately, silvery mist covered her back. A ripping sound of material was heard, but the mist hid the view. When the mist cleared, a pair of pure, glowing white wings started to form on her back. All this happened only in the matter of a second. Seeing her wings' first appearance, Hiashi quickly lowed himself a bit, and then propelled himself up in the air. Pushing chakra to his palms, he swiftly went behind her and tried to hit the tenketsu on both of her shoulder blades, which were exactly the two same tenketsu that emitted Qi and Chakra for her to form her luminescent wings. Luckily for Natsumi, being in the air before the Hyuuga Clan Head, she had seen the move early. So she prepared herself in time to dive under Hiashi's attack. Quickly, she separated her hands that were seemly glued together in that glow. And almost immediately, a black and white symbol appeared below her: it was the Ying and Yang symbol that, to people who know better, was called Taijitu.

Closing her eyes Natsumi concentred hard. Making one handseal, she activated the first stage of the Amaterasu.

"Oh? Amaterasu already? I'm honoured" Hiashi said with irony. Natsumi gritted her teeth with anger but managed to stay calm. "Amaterasu: Tsuki no Hikari!" she yelled out. A ball of pure Qi started to form in her hands. It grew bigger and bigger. Then, she rushed toward Hiashi. The said Clan Head prepared for the blow. A huge explosion was heard across Konoha; dust flew everywhere in the fighting court where Natsumi and Hiashi were fighting. Once the dust cleared off, Hinata found Natsumi on the ground, clutching her right arm. Hiashi was standing beside her, a little worn out but no injury found. Hinata rushed to Natsumi's side and started to heal her injured arm.

"I… I'm sorry Hinata-chan… I failed…" Natsumi looked at the ground, her bangs shadowing her eyes. Yet, despite her efforts, unbidden tears, like tiny crystals began rolling down her cheeks.

Hiashi looked at the Uzumaki heiress, feeling rather impressed. It had been a long time since there was a youngster who was able to wear him out, even the slightest. "Natsumi-san, you may have lost the fight, but I concede to your request." Natsumi's head snapped up as she stared at Hiashi. Not only the man conceded to her request, he had called by her given name… Did he…acknowledged her…? The said man stood there elegantly and patiently. "Hiashi-sama?"

"Come with me." Exchanging a glance with her friend, Natsumi and Hinata followed Hiashi. Neither of the three saw a small black head watching the whole incident…

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"Please sit down."

"Hiashi-sama…?"

"Yes. You want to know why Hinata was treated like that?"

"Hai…"

"First, let me ask you something."

"Yes Hiashi-sama?"

"When you first became the Heiress of the Uzumaki Clan, what did you have to do?"

Natsumi looked at Hiashi in wonder. Why that question? In each Clan there was something the heir or heiress had to accomplish when they were nominated to be the successor. Unless…? Natsumi's eyes widened. "Hiashi-sama, are you implying that this is…?"

Hiashi nodded. "Hai, this is the Elders' challenge."

Hinata looked from her friend to her father. "What's going on?" Natsumi looked at Hinata, then she suddenly smirked. "Hiashi-sama, they do not stop outside aids do they?"

Hiashi suddenly mirrored Natsumi. "You're right…"

"Father? Natsumi-chan?"

Natsumi smiled at Hinata. "I'll explain to you afterwards." Then, she turned to Hiashi. "Thank you for your time Hiashi-sama. I apologize for my behaviour."

"No need to apologize. You are of great help." Natsumi smiled and said. "I must go. Goodbye Hiashi-sama." She bowed.

Hiashi nodded. "Hinata, please escort her to the main exit."

"Hai Father…" said Hinata as she led Natsumi to the exit.

After a few seconds, she couldn't resist her curiosity and asked. "Natsumi-chan…?"

"Hmm?"

"What were Father and you talking about?"

"That, my dear friend, is something that you must sit down and listen to…"

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"Father…May I ask a question?" a young voice asked.

"…What is it Hanabi?"

"What was that martial art style?"

"…"

"Father?"

"You shall be told when you're older." Hiashi's voice held authority.

"…Hai…"

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After that fight, Hinata began to train with Natsumi and Kyoko. Both Uzumaki made sure that her spirit would be not crushed when she lost. During the last days of the week, Hinata began to gain more and more confidence, much to Natsumi and Kyoko's satisfaction. The whole incident thus led us to the fight of today…

Kai!

...

Hinata confidently made her way to the ground with Ino by her side. Sakura sneered at the pair and also made her way with that unknown girl on her trails.

"So the worthless girl grew a backbone huh?"

Ino was about to lynch Sakura for the insult, but Hinata stopped her. She serenely smiled at Sakura. "Why yes. And that's all thanks to Natsumi-chan…"

Sakura scoffed. "Like she's any miracle-maker… No matter, we're going to crush you!"

Hinata continued to smile. "We'll see about that…"

"Hajime!" Hayate called and with a movement of his hand, the match started.

The four genin fell into defensive stances and stared at their opponents. Ino looked at her ex-best friend and the unknown girl. Sakura had grown; that was certain. Yet it didn't seem to be a lot. Jealousy, envy and greed devoured the once shy and gentle girl, leaving her empty shell behind. Gone was the girl who fought for her crush's acceptance; Sakura became someone that no one could recognize. She was becoming an intruder in the Rookie 9's peaceful environment.

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Natsumi observed Sakura's partner. That Echiten Mana girl from the Cloud… there was something unexplainable to Natsumi. It seemed… to be dread…? Natsumi felt shivers crawling up her back. She, who had faced countless assassination attempts and who had killed a myriad people, was afraid of this unknown girl's aura! Natsumi narrowed her eyes. There weren't many who can raise fear from her like that… and this Echiten Mana just did that with her aura. Instinctively, Natsumi put away the information to analyse in the dept of her complex mind. Hmm, Kenshin-nii would be thrilled to learn of this information…

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The four combatants stood there for some time, before Sakura attacked first. Making some handseals, she yelled out. "Doku Gasu!" Smoke slowly emitted from her mouth. Seeing the poison, Hinata quickly pulled out a facecloth for Ino and put her own on. She activated her Byakugan and fell into the Jyuugan stance while Ino began to make handseals of her own.

But Sakura didn't allow the handseals to finish as she had already finished the next jutsu she had been planning.

"Fukumikuchi Hari!" Long needles came from her mouth and headed to Hinata and Ino. Quickly, Hinata shielded Ino for her to finish the handseals. "Shinranshin no Jutsu" Like in her last fight with Sakura in the former Chuunin Fight, Ino gained control of Sakura's mind. Although this time she confused the Inner Sakura to attack her own ally. With the help of the Shinranshin no Jutsu, the Inner Sakura appeared and started to pull Mana's hair.

"Ow, ow!" yelled out Mana as she fought to pull her hair out of Inner Sakura's hands. When she was finally out of Inner Sakura's reach, she started to scratch Sakura's face. The pink-haired girl's screech could be heard across the whole Fire Country. The whole assistance shook their heads. The two girls were so… so immature. In a fight as important like this they were fighting like two street cats. The Hyuuga-Yamakana team stared at their opponents, waiting for one of them calling forfeit or getting knocked out. Then, against all odds, Echiten Mana managed to regain her spirit, and blasted Sakura far with an unknown jutsu. Her eyes burned blood red for a second then faded to her normal eye colour.

In the stands, Natsumi narrowed her eyes. Red… there's only one Clan in the whole Shinobi World that had blood red eyes as their Bloodline Limit… This girl… Could it be…?

Meanwhile, Hinata took stance and started to attack Echiten Mana's tenketsu. Ino took out her kunai and threw them at Sakura. The fight separated into two parts as the girls each took on an opponent.

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"Sakura… Does this remind you of something in the past?" Inquired Ino as the two girls took their defensive stances.

"Why would it remind me of something? The past is the past."

"Then why won't you let the past go? Look at the future!"

"No! I won't let that slide! A monster is to be destroyed, it deserves nothing!"

"Then you leave me with no choice Sakura. Prepare yourself!" Ino's eyes were burning with determination.

"Gladly." Replied Sakura. She made some handseals and shouted out. "Fukumikuchi Hari." Like the last time, needles came from her mouth. This time, Ino didn't have Hinata to shield her so she jumped aside to evade. But Sakura didn't stop her attacks of needles. Ino jumped right and left, making small pauses here and there. After few onslaughts of needles, Ino was left panting.

"Abandon the fight. You can't win."

"No." Ino seemed to regain her vigour. "I won't abandon this fight."

After a few minutes of staring contest, Ino suddenly smirked. Sakura stared at her ex-best friend. "What are you planning?"

"Nothing. Everything had been a success." With that, she seemed to vanish into thin air. Sakura narrowed her eyes; while the normal citizens thought Ino disappeared, she knew better. Untrained eyes could not see pure speed but a trained Shinobi was aware of it, and Sakura was the ex-apprentice of Tsunada the Godaime. However, Ino's speed seemed to be on a higher level than her trained eyes… 'Since when was she that fast?' Thought Sakura. She would love to pierce the mystery but in the middle of a battle, she needed to focus. She closed her eyes, trying to hear as much sound possible that would give away Ino's location. The wind was beginning to pick up; the stadium grew more and more silent. Ino was planning something… She was not that much of a coward.

The sound of a footstep behind her made her twirl around. No one was there… Was she imagining things? Another sound, just on her left side… 'There!' Sakura launched a barrage of Kunai. They missed, only to clatter on the ground. Sakura tensed up; the footstep sounds were all around her… she twirled around again and again, yet no sign of Ino anywhere…

After a few minutes, she began to grow more and more restless... 'What is she planning?!' Unbeknown to her, Ino was having the best time of her life. Not only Forehead Girl was oblivious to her plan; she was actually getting worked out! Ino smirked. With unparalleled speed, she quickly formed the last handseal that was necessary for the second stage of her plan. "Kokuangyo no Jutsu" She whispered, and waited for the result.

Sakura felt dread going up on her spine… Something was not right, yet she could not pin her finger on it. Suddenly, a small spot of shadow entered her view. 'What is that?' She thought, uneasy. She continued to stare at it, until it grew suddenly bigger and swallowed her whole. Sakura widened her eyes as she began to feel the impact of her slowness. Everything was so obscure; she could not see anything! Tension began to catch her; she had to get out of this quickly! But she was trapped! Sakura began to hyperventilate; this is not good, not good at all!

Suddenly, a kick to her stomach cut the wind out of her. Before she was able to recover, another punch threw her several meters away. She landed heavily on the ground. 'Where is she?!' she panted heavily as she got up. Then, she got punched again, sending her, for a second time, to the floor. She started to think that it would do her better if she forfeited. But if she did that, it would only prove that Ino was better. No! She'll never forfeit! But how could she fight back? That is when an idea popped into her head. Ino, thanks to her family's techniques, was a gifted manipulator of minds. She knew that darkness was one of Sakura's weakness, so why not exploiting it? In this case, unlike Shikamaru who can control the actual shadows, Ino had to create a genju- 'That's it!' She quickly put her hand together, and shouted "Kai!"

The blackness got dispelled just as fast when it had swallowed her. But before she could regain the ability to see again in the sudden bright sunlight after spending her time in the genjutsu-induced blackness, the smirking blonde girl performed some handseals and shouted out. "Fubaku Hojin."

"What are you-?" Sakura wasn't able to finish her sentence as the explosive tags placed strategically around her activated, and everything around her exploded; the once spotless clean stadium got covered in dust and smoke. When everything was cleared, everyone could see Sakura on the ground, bleeding from the explosion with Ino beside her trembling form, barely able to stand on two legs. Just like Ino who was attempting to stay still on her legs, Sakura struggled to stand up. Finally, it seemed that Sakura was able to get on her two feet when a snapping sound from her right leg was heard. She suddenly fell on her back, passing out from the pain; finally unconscious.

The crowd exploded in cheer as the Medics took Sakura away. Ino breathed deeply and looked at Hinata's fight; she would love to help her friend, but she was very low in Chakra. She was already so exhausted that she would faint on the spot; she would only be a nuisance to Hinata in that fight.

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Hinata eyed her opponent attentively. After spending days with Kyoko and Natsumi, she had developed some instinct toward powerful people; after all, most of the times, their auras could hardly mask their powers. This girl gave her the creeps… it seemed that something dark and obscure was around her… She better be on her guards.

Mana smirked. Her eyes flashed the colour of blood once again. "I feel pity for you…" she started with malice.

Hinata narrowed her eyes. "And why is that?"

Mana didn't reply, but her smirk grew wider; her eyes burned red again and this time, it stayed. Her teeth changed to fangs as her features became more feral, more demonic. Natsumi's eyes widened in shock 'She really is…?! Not good, not good at all!' While she was frantically worrying for Hinata's fate, her mind drifted to a time where she herself had faced one person of that clan…

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TBC

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1) – Taijitu (Chinese): this is the actually word for a Chinese Taoism symbol that everyone know about. I think you all would know this as Yin and Yang. Taijitu is the symbole for harmony.

2) – Middle Kingdom: a literally translation of 中国, China.

– Middle

– Kingdom

3) – Xuewei (Chinese): They are hundreds on the human bodies. Acupuncture use needles to insert in these xuewei – also know as acupoints (Sp?) to help healing sniff neck or other sickness or mal-functionalities of the body. Actually, paralysis and things like that are not proved; although I based these ideas on the Wuxia Series (whether in the books or in the dramas). It has also to do with Qi (see below at number 5) that humans have in their bodies.

4) – Taiyanxue (Chinese): It is the little spot you have on each side of your head, near your eyes – the temples maybe? When your head hurts, this is the place you would mostly rub with force to calm down the headache. In reality, I have no idea if Taiyanxue provokes death if we hit it – maybe, since it is a very fragile place… isn't it? (I know that when people want to commit suicide, they would always blow their heads on this little spot) This is just something I invented, as I do not know the name of the Xuewei – In Wuxia – that provokes death… n.n;

5) – Qi (Chinese): This is a type of Spiritual energy that everyone has in his or her body. Mostly people know this as Chi or Ki.

...

Lexique:

Doku Gasu – Poison Mist

Fukumikuchi Hari – Hidden Mouth Needles

Amateratsu: Tsuki no Hikari – Amateratsu: Light of the Moon

Shinranshin no Jutsu – Mind Body Disturbance Technique

Kokuangyo no Jutsu – Bringer-of-Darkness Technique

Fubaku Hojin – Square Formation Sealed Bombs

...

Main Pairing.

Ita/Naru – 142

Sasu/Naru – 96

Kaka/Naru – 18

Gaa/Naru – 14

Ita/Naru/Sasu – 13

Naru/Harem – 2

...

Now, it is time to apologize… but I don't really feel like it. Besides, you'd be skiping this anyway… Let's just say that I'm very sorry about the late update and I'll try to not procrastinate too much… P

Now, this is important! This chapter is going to be the LAST chapter you can vote for the Main Pairing. After this, I shall be counting the votes, and we'll have the winner revealed by next chapter. (I don't think it's going to be very surprising though) Thank you for all the votes.

Also very important!! I'm going on hiatus soon. So this story won't be updated in some time again. For any "updates" of my progress on the stories, please go to my profile! I have a lot of people asking if I'm dead or whatever… GO TO MY PROFILE, then you would know. I will be updating regularly my profile to get your guys up-to-date.

Last thing, thank you all for your wonderful reviews; they made me all warm inside. Not to mention that I felt guilty for not updating after receiving such wonderful reviews… n.n;;

YH