Authors note: Sorry this took so long.
The Forest of Death was silent in the darkness of night. A group of tired and battered mist nins sat around a camp fire with hardened looks on their faces. Each of them panted heavily through their respective masks. Sweat flowed down over their eyes, blinding them from there surroundings. The cold wind froze the sweat over the hot skin, causing the nins to shiver. Identically they were all dressed in some type of yellow wet suit, with breathing masks matching one another.
The head of the group gave a tired look to his comrade, asking a silent question. The other nin gave a nod and held up two scrolls as confirmation. This seemed to please the leader, he looked up to see his other comrade.
"Your turn." said the other mist nin. The leader let out a sigh and stared at the dieing camp fire.
"We should let it die down anyway." said the leader hanging his head back down for rest. His comrade didn't seem to complain, only shrugging with dismissal.
As the last of the firey embers crackled, the leader allowed himself the comfort of closing his eyes. No one protested, no one told him he shouldn't. He and his team had worked hard to get as far as they had. And now, now that they were so close, he would withdraw his reward of rest a little early. He was fine with it, despite the small whispering voice in the back of his head.
The fire crackled again, briefly bringing him back to the world around him. But it was only for a scarce second, for his eyelids were already drooping back down. But as he closed them; as he reached the darkness of his peaceful respite, he saw one lone feather fall into the dieing blaze.
One lone, pitch black feather...
Naruto let out a yawn, stretching his body for the new morning. A sense of calm seemed to leak off his very being. Even joy seemed to be present for the boy, who's life was anything but joyous.
He and his team had retrieved the second scroll several days ago. It hadn't been hard; only a fist here, and a sword swing there. But even with the ease of obtaining the scroll, they found keeping it safe to be far more difficult. Danger was a constant in the forest, and if one was not careful it would be all to easy for the Forest of Death to consume you. Such danger was the reason they were still in the forest. The team having decided to tread slowly and cautiously.
And now that they were near the end of their journey, Naruto could allow himself to smile. It actually had been hard to keep his head calm and focused on the task when his life was so drastically changing.
The sight of Anko crashing through the window and hanging up the banner with his future written on it still swam through his mind. Kurenai, a woman who had been so kind to him, was now allowing him to live in her presence. It had been shocking for Naruto at first, like a dream. Even now he had the lingering thoughts that what he had seen had been nothing more then his mind playing tricks on him.
He had even been so moronic as to ask if other people saw the banner as well. He had received many nods, accompanied by strange looks and even stranger smiles.
Naruto gave another yawn, and turned to look at the camp sight. Both Sasuke and Sakura were now cleaning up and getting ready to move. It wouldn't take long, perhaps a minute at most. But a minute was plenty of time for Naruto's mind to dwell on another matter.
That of his unofficial engagement to the young woman from Suna, and the strange behavior of his friend Hinata.
They had both acted oddly, as if competing for his attention. Something that stumped Naruto on a few levels. He understood that Temari was trying to make the political marriage possible, if for nothing else than to create stronger ties for her village, but Hinata...Hinata was another matter entirely. She was from the same village as he, and thus her actions were not dictated by any sort of political or social standing. In fact, courting him would probably do the opposite for her, at least in the eyes of the villagers.
So why had she acted so strangely and dressed so...alluring?
A shade of strawberry pink crossed Naruto's cheeks for a moment. His shaded eyes glanced to the ground while his mind gave him silent reprimanding. He couldn't deny Hinata had been beautiful, as had Temari. They had both looked stunning, and he could admit that his heart had been racing at an unexpected pace.
A small smile came to his face. "Could I really...be loved?" Was it so hard to believe Naruto wondered. After all Temari and Hinata were nice people, he already liked Hinata's smile, and Temari's attitude suggested she wasn't against the marriage.
They had both been so...
Voices of his past flowed through his ears.
The sound of cracking bones, and the taste of his own blood, reminded him.
Screams of their saddened cries, and desperate acts, broke him.
And the haunted looks. The silence of hopelessness and indifference born of despair. The cackles of one with no remorse gleefully ringing throughout the depths of his mind. Each shrill of her high voice poisoning his already tainted soul. The remnants of bloody deeds staining his dreams and overtaking his nightmares. The cold stares of a crowd that knew his worth, and the unaffected beast beneath grinning back in pleasure.
"Naruto?" said Sakura.
Naruto came back to his world, his life. He stared over at Sakura who was giving him a worried look. He gave her a small defeated smile.
"Yes?" he asked.
She took a step closer and tilted her head to the side. Her worried green eyes stared at his shaded glowing blue. "Are you alright?"
He gave her a look of comfort and sympathy, feeling her minor distress. He ignored his despair to bring her out of hers, the worry he had caused her. He would not have concern shown to him, or allow people to help him.
He did it for the same reason he would not move in with Kurenai. The same reason he would not marry Temari. And the same reason he would not court Hinata.
"Yeah, I'm fine."
The same reason said to him as he cried while being beat by the villagers over and over again...
"You have no right!"
Kyuubi sat in her cage with a blank expression. She stared almost philosophically at the bars that made up her prison. Her eyes were glazed over in thoughts of perhaps minor importance to some.
She remembered the blond jailer asking her a question once.
"Who are you?"
Kyuubi's fire red hair shadowed her eyes casting her image in cold nothingness. "I'm your hell Naruto." she whispered in a low voice that sounded almost sickly.
Storm clouds gathered at the top of her cage, and a down pour was soon upon her. Rain pelted every inch of the mental prison she sat in.
Kyuubi had complete control over her domain, so why did she make it rain? Why did she have her fine silk couch drenched or her fire red hair dampened?
Why did she sit there and allow streams of water...to run down her face?
Team 7 ran through the tree tops of the Forest of Death. Their pace seemed almost rushed but their steps were precise. No one spoke, but they all knew what they were doing, where they were headed.
It wasn't to hard to figure out, with the large tower jutting above the forest some miles ahead. Sakura stared at the muscled back of Naruto with worry. His words had convinced her of nothing, and while he seemed to be of good spirits her gut told her something else. Something, that was cause for concern.
The ever stoic Sasuke picked up on this as well. However, his thoughts, ideas, or concerns; did not show on his chiseled face. He seemed to be as apathetic as ever for the world around him.
"How much farther do you think it is?" asked Sakura in an attempt to make small talk and break the looming silence around them. Naruto looked back at her and flashed a small grin.
"Not much farther, I think." he said.
"I feel like we should have made it by now." said Sasuke joining in. He had a look that posed an unasked question to Naruto. The group stopped in a clearing and looked around.
Naruto's sights zeroed in on the tower, still a distance away. Or rather the same distance away it had been several minutes ago.
"A Genjutsu?" said Naruto in a low voice, almost speaking to himself.
"Kai" said Sakura. But nothing occurred, only the rustling of the tree's as the wind blew in an empty silence. Sakura blushed slightly at the event of nothingness.
Sasuke activated his Sharringan, his face instantly becoming that of confusion. He deactivated his bloodline and looked over at Naruto. "Its a Genjutsu...a strong one." he said.
Naruto remained in silence, glancing around. He could feel something, something teasing the edge of his mind. It felt...dark.
The air shifted and Naruto instantly jumped back. In the place he once stood, a yellow clad shinobi slammed into the ground with explosive force. As smoke and debris filled the air, two more similar yellow clad shinobi landed behind Sasuke and Sakura.
Naruto's attention was instantly on them, and thus he was unable to see the first shinobi shoot from the smoke straight for him. The nin took out a kunai and made a stab for Naruto's heart. Naruto's eyes went wide as he noticed the nin to late to avoid the kunai. It plunged straight into his chest, only to buckle and snap like a twig.
The nin jumped back and glanced at the broken kunai in his hand. He showed little reaction to the strange event that had just occurred. In fact, the nin's eyes seemed rather dull, as if he was not aware of his surroundings.
Naruto had been saved by the sheer luck of where the nin had aimed. The kunai had managed to hit his rib cage, and snapped under the strength of his steel like bones. It was a one in a million occurrence; of course had the kunai reached his heart, his healing factor would have undoubtably kicked in.
He took out his main blade and eyed the nin, he was of the mist. The dullness in his eyes was alarming, it became even more so when they became unfocused with a sudden rage. The mist nins body began to shake and convulse. His arms began to pop and bubble as the muscles began to grow. His clothes began to shred, and his body expanded into a large form of muscle.
He stood maybe around eight feet. His skin was dark, almost purple in shade. The nin's muscles burst from every part of his body in a sick scale of perfection. But most disturbing were the eyes, now completely black. Like pools of onyx and oil. Naruto could literally see a mirror image of himself in the nins orbs.
Naruto looked around and noticed Sasuke and Sakura were gone, as were the other two nins. A pit of worry grew in his stomach as he attached his main blade to the hollow blade, and let his chakra flow through.
The large muscle deformed nin grinned. Saliva dripping from his ever growing savage maw. A purple black charkra began to circle around his hand and he sprint forward. He held his fist high and struck down.
Naruto blocked the attack with the flat of his blade, only to feel his legs buckle from underneath him. His eyes went wide at the force behind the blow, as he was then lifted off the ground and sent rocketing towards a tree. He flipped in the air and stuck to the trunk of the tree with his chakra. Naruto bent his legs and jumped out, straight for his opponent. The speed at which he was traveling only aided in his attack. He slashed the chest of the monster in front of him, with a thunderous force. A small book could be heard as an after effect of the attack.
Naruto landed behind the monster and quickly turned around. The beast stood stock still, only to slowly turn its head to face Naruto. The grin on its face only intensified, as it fully turned around.
Naruto's eyes went wide from behind his shades. The beasts chest was open from the room, yet there was no blood. Only a strange purple chakra like light shined from the inside of his opponent. As if the nin was hollow, and all that remained was this energy. It seemed both frightening and awing. The wound soon sealed up as the chakra formed new skin. Naruto noted the similarities in his own healing ability. He let out a sigh and slapped his belt, both switch blades shooting up, which were instantly connected to the main blade.
He gave a taunting gesture with his hand, and watched as the monster lost itself to its rage. It charged again, only this time Naruto was not in the same spot to greet it. Two large gashes appeared in a cross like style on the beasts back. Naruto flashed into existence on the other side of the field and held his blade ready again. The monster growled and opened its mouth. Naruto raised and eyebrow in curiosity.
The beast began to gag as something came up from its throat. A large jagged sword was barfed from the beasts mouth. The blade was a solid ebony and seemed to radiate a sort of malice. Acid like saliva dripped from the blade as it was picked up and the beast grinned once again. He disappeared in a black wisp, and Naruto stared wide eyed as he could no longer sense him.
It was an alarming feeling, the knowing your opponent around you waiting to strike. Naruto did his best to calm himself but he could feel his legs twitching with the urge to move. His eyes scanned the area, trying to find some sign of-
The wind shifted behind him and Naruto's eyes enlarged with shock. He jumped forward as an ebony blade crashed into the earth, splitting it to its core. Naruto rolled on the ground before flipping himself up. He stared in slack jaw fascination as the entire field had been uprooted and reformed from the impact of the strike. Naruto's eyes narrowed with determination.
He took one of his serrated blades from its holder and placed it on his blade. He slowly grabbed the other one and did the same, completing his sword. He hefted his blade over his shoulder and eyed the monster. It did some strange sword play, waving it around wildly in the air. A faint dark glow began to emerge and beast charged.
Naruto prepared himself, but was caught off guard as the beast sunk into the ground. Naruto jumped into a tree, and surveyed the scene below. There was once again no sight of Naruto's opponent. Something that pissed the blond off.
The ground began to shake violently and the tree Naruto was standing on was uprooted. He jumped off quickly, only to feel a large hand grasp the back of his neck. It was crushing, the raw power contained in the hand was unimaginable, and Naruto only had seconds to react.
He dropped his sword and formed a cross shaped seal. Three clones appeared, one grabbed the sword that was still dropping in the air and separated two other blades from it. The other Naruto's took their respected blades and went to work. One severed the arm holding Naruto, while the other slashed at the monsters stomach. And the final one took off the head of the beast.
Naruto landed on his feet, his clones disappearing above, as his blades fell he grabbed them and made them one. He looked back at the fallen corpse of his opponent, the beast had been strange and powerful. Naruto had never heard of such monsters taking form through a jutsu, and wondered briefly if it was something else.
He let out a sigh, before lifting his head in alarm realizing he needed to find Sasuke and Sakura. However before he could turn and leave, and felt a large blade slash through his back. His eyes went wide with pain, and his body was sent hurtling forward.
Naruto watched as the fallen body of his opponent dissolved into nothingness, a Genjutsu.
If Naruto wasn't in a situation where he needed to think quickly, he would have laughed at his stupidity. He had never dispelled the powerful Genjutsu Sasuke said he had seen, and thus was susceptible to such a sneak attack at any time. He looked back and noticed the sick grin of the monster behind him. It disappeared in another black wisp.
Naruto hit the ground and rolled before stopping with a dull thud. He slowly picked himself up, his sunglasses falling off as he did so. The wound on his back had been deep, but could feel it healing up with his chakra. Even with his healing ability he was feeling faint, as if some sort of poison had affected him.
He could feel the haze in his mind thickening and he quickly shook his head to try and gain his thoughts. His head suddenly hurt, and he couldn't focus. The world was suddenly spinning. He glanced up and noticed, the beast.
It was walking towards him at a surprisingly slow pace. The sick grin was worn proudly on its face, and its ebony blade seemed to be crying out for blood. It stopped in front of Naruto, and Naruto looked up. The beast looked surprised for a brief moment before it shook its head. It hung its blade up high ready to strike.
Naruto was curious, did the beast really expect him not to move.
He took note as to how his headache was going away and the world had stopped spinning. With his barrings in order, Naruto's gaze hardened. As the blade of the monster began to descend down, Naruto simply caught it. His holy chakra swirled around him in a sudden vortex and his eyes glowed with his power. The blade in his hand began to screech from the pressure his chakra was applying. It didn't take long before the blade snapped.
The beast suddenly seemed very frightened, and Naruto instantly took notice of the fact that his chakra seemed to be burning the creature. He held out his right hand and delivered a palm thrust to the creatures gut. What happened next was surprising.
The monsters body seemed to explode into ash in a violent display. Smoke and debris shot throughout the area and Naruto had to squint his eyes.
When it was all over, only one feeble mist nin layed on the ground. His skin was pale and his eyes were rolled into the back of his head. Naruto checked for a pulse, but found none, the nin was dead.
He turned and walked over to his blade picking it up with little effort. He began to separate it and put each sword in its respective place, when he suddenly heard a foot step. He turned around only to go wide eyed at the sight of the nin.
"Ahhhhhhhhhhh!!!!" screamed the mist nin in madness. His eyes were still rolled in the back of his head, and his neck was bent at an awkward angle. In his hand was a kunai, which he seemed fully intended on using on Naruto. Before Naruto could blink, he saw the mist nin severed in half.
As his corpse fell, the boy who had attacked him during the beginning of the exam stood. Naruto went on guard.
"Relax, Uzumaki-san." said Kuro. "I mean you know harm, in fact, I was just trying to help."
"Why did you help me?" asked Naruto with a stern look. "Do you know anything about what just happened?"
Naruto watched in surprise as Kuro's features took on actual cluelessness. "You mean him attacking you?"
The truth held in the innocent words put Naruto at ease. "I need to find my teammates."
"Mine are helping them out." said Kuro gaining his smile back.
Naruto raised an eyebrow. "Why?"
"Simple, we have a scroll and we want you to advance to the round." stated Kuro.
"Once again, why?" asked Naruto.
Kuro gave a sigh before holding out his hand. "I...I really want to fight you." said Kuro.
Naruto looked at the hand and sensed no ill intent. He took it and gave a firm handshake, and finally a smile. "Naruto!"
He turned and noticed Sasuke and Sakura were walking his way, behind them were Kuro's teammates.
"Are you guys alright?" asked Naruto with concern. They both nodded. He then looked back over at Kuro. "We better get going."
"Good luck to you in the exam."
Naruto gave a small smile before he leaped into the tree's followed soon by Sasuke and Sakura. Kuro watched them leave with a smile.
"So, did you discover how far along he has advanced his bloodline?" asked one of his silver haired teammates. Kuro gave a small laugh.
"Funny thing really." said Kuro. "It seems during the fight he managed to develop his bloodline...however he still not very far along." Kuro walked over to the corpse of the mist nin. He bent down and reached his hand into the torso, pulling out a black feather.
"He still has a ways to go...and thus should be no problem to kill."
Kuro's smile seemed to widen as he said this.
Authors note: Hope you all liked it.
If you didn't understand what I did with Kyuubi in this chapter then you're an idiot. I laid it on kind of thick.
As for Naruto's attitude. Growing up he was told he was worthless, so he sort of believes he is. He kind of thinks that he deserves everything bad that has happened to him. I hear it is kind of common for this to happen in child abuse cases. And lets face it, Naruto's life was child abuse.