Sorry, no new chapter just yet. However, I did re-write the ending of this chapter. Many reviewers were not happy with the ending, but most importantly, so was I. I also fixed the little chronological bug in chapter one (can't believe the little bugger managed to hide from me so long). Updates? Well, work is being a pain at the moment, and if you get up at seven AM and get home at seven PM, you don't find much motivation to write. It has given me some time to think out the plot, which has gone through considerable changes (though I blame my recent Nanoha addiction for that).
Is it in progress? Yes. Will it be out soon? Dunno, but don't count on it.
Mahou no Shinobi
Chapter 3: New place, new start
Naruto was exhausted from using so much mana in one day, not to mention flying in itself was a totally new experience for both him and his muscles. He was sore all over.
Not having much energy left, Naruto reached under his bed and lifted a loose plank. His 'secret stash' was where he kept the few things that were of value to him. One of them was the tome that had helped him beat Sasuke today. Right now, though, he was more interested in increasing his mana pool rather then learning more spells. He could always do that while waiting for Kakashi, though the practice of the spells would of course have to wait.
He began reading where he had left of; the book had advised him to test some of the spells in the field before continuing. Naruto grinned, remembering the look on Sasuke´s face. Now there were was a test he enjoyed.
Now that you have some experience using spells in the field, you must have noticed that despite the fact that you used mana, you still got tired eventually, correct? This is because the body can only channel so much energy at a time, after which the body needs rest in order to recuperate. In order to increase the amount of spells you can cast before exhausting yourself, you must train in the spells you have learned, casting them continuously will eventually cause you body to adapt to the flow of mana, increasing the amount of mana that can flow through your body and thereby increasing the number of spells you can cast.
Another way to master a spell is to analyse the spell, technically dissecting it to its base algorithms and calculations. This will both give a better understanding of the spell, as well as increase your mana pool and can be done while travelling or resting. Given enough practice, this might even enable you to master spells from books quicker, or create your very own original spells.
Caution: If you continue to cast spells while your body is exhausted, you will risk an affliction known as mana burn. Mana burn occurs when the body is too exhausted to be able to channel mana effectively, the exhaustion combined with the lapses of concentration that come with it will cause the body to use other energies, including ones life force. Loss of life force will lead to eventual death. When too exhausted to cast spells, do not continue to force mana. Avoid mana burn at all cost.
Oookay, so mana burn was bad. Duly noted. And he could practice spell analysis right now, seeing how he was too tired to do any practical training. Grabbing a decently sized empty notebook with a black cover and a pencil, Naruto hummed to himself as he tried to think of a spell to first analyze. He could, of course, take an easy one… but then; why not take one that might take while? That decided, he wrote down a name he had read in his book. A name that, even there, was only considered a legend.
The next day was mission day, and team 7 was gathered at the bridge again, waiting for their sensei. Naruto, this time, armed with a black notebook, in which he was scribbling away notes. His two teammates observed him as he sat there, writing, occasionally glancing upwards for a moment as if calculating something before returning to scribbling again.
Sakura had once again tried to satisfy her rising curiosity, but this time Naruto never even gave her a chance. When she tried to look over his shoulder, he simply snapped his book shut before walking away to sit somewhere else, and continue whatever he was doing.
Sakura couldn't take it anymore, ever since yesterday Naruto was acting so incredibly weird! "First he actually read a book, then acts all cold, then he claims to have won the race against Sasuke-kun, and now he's doing something, and won't let me see what he is doing!" Sakura decided to ask, even if only to satisfy curiosity. "Say, Naruto, what are you doing?"
Naruto glanced up to meet Sakura's eyes. He looked at her for a few seconds before turning back to his book. "Just a little hobby of mine." He answered.
A nerve began twitching on Sakura's head at the response. "And what is that little hobby of yours?"
Naruto never even looked up from his book this time as he answered. "Private."
A second vein had started twitching, and Sakura was gritting her teeth, itching to throttle the blond in front of her. Fortunately, or unfortunately if you look at it from Sakura's point of view, Kakashi chose this moment to show up.
"Yo, looks like everyone is energetic today. Good, good, because I got us a very important task today." Kakashi smiled as he waited for his teams reaction, but underneath he was worried. His fears were confirmed when Naruto merely got up and closed his book with a snap before placing it into the pouch on his side. It looked like Naruto's words yesterday were more then a simple 'cry for attention'
Restraining a troubled look from creeping unto his face, Kakashi guided his team towards the location of the next mission.
Naruto let out a longing sigh. The so called 'important mission' turned out to be nothing more then yet another routine 'clean the hotel rooms' D-rank mission. It wouldn't have been so bad if the employer hadn't been so adamant that Naruto was not doing his job good. No matter how many times he cleaned a room, there would always be something that wasn't good.
Of course, Naruto knew perfectly well why there would always be something dirty in the room. Words like 'thank you' and 'good job' weren't used towards demons after all. Not to mention the near constant glare the employer was sending his way. However, unlike previous times where he would just stay smile, this time he returned the glare with his own.
Kakashi, too, was noticing the level of criticism aimed towards Naruto. When he had told his team about the mission, he decided to watch Naruto a little bit closer. As he had suspected, without the blonde thread holding the team together, teamwork in team 7 had taken a turn for the worst. Without Naruto tempting Sasuke to give it his all, and dragging Sakura in pursuit, work was more sluggish then ever. Naruto turned out to be the heart of teamwork in team 7, which is why Kakashi wanted to find a way to bring the old Naruto back.
But as he watched Naruto, and the way he was treated by their employers, he began to understand the sudden change. Especially when his teammates, the comrades who should have defended him, joined the employers in criticizing him. Kakashi began to wonder if life was always like this for Naruto.
If it was, then Kakashi wouldn't be surprised to wake up one day and hear Naruto had pulled an Itachi. The mere thought of a village wide massacre like the Uchiha one send cold shivers down his spine.
Kakashi had originally decided to lecture Naruto on his lack of teamwork ever since the race, but he decided he would not add to the amount if criticism Naruto received today. He would, however, discuss Naruto's condition with the Hokage. The aging man had more influence on Naruto then even his old academy teacher did.
In the end, Kakashi order Sasuke and Sakura to help Naruto. As soon as Sasuke had swept the floor once, the employer had thanked them for their hard work, and praised Sasuke for doing what 'the idiot in orange' was incapable of doing. Kakashi shook his head at the obvious lie, but Sasuke merely threw an arrogant smirk towards Naruto. And Sakura… laughed at him.
Still, they made their way to the Hokage tower in relative silence.
"Team 7 reporting, mission complete." Kakashi said.
"Ahh, Good work team 7. Unfortunately, there are no more missions today, so you are dismissed."
"We would have been earlier if it wasn't for Naruto-baka slowing us down!" Sakura shouted as she moved to knock the blonde on his head. Said blonde however, merely sidestepped the slow fist as it came downwards.
The Hokage coughed, focusing the team's attention back on him. "Whatever the reason, today is over. Your payments will be transferred to your accounts as usual."
Sakura bowed, Naruto waved, and Sasuke merely turned around as the team walked out, Sakura complaining against Naruto about how slow he was with cleaning today. Kakashi, however, remained behind.
"Is something the matter, Kakashi?" Sandaime asked.
"Yes… yes there is." Kakashi said grimly. "It's about Naruto."
"Oh? Sarutobi took a drag from his pipe. "And? What exactly is wrong?"
"Hokage-sama! Surely you have noticed it just now, this Naruto is completely different from the one we're used to!"
Adjusting the pipe in his mouth, Sarutobi gave Kakashi a hard stare. "And what do you think is the cause of this… change?"
Kakashi sighed. "Well, it started during the training run at area 88 a few days ago. Naruto and Sasuke turned it into a race instead of the survival run it was first meant to be. This was not unexpected, but what was is that Naruto unexpectedly won the race, Naruto somehow learned Katon jutsu, judging by the incinerated dummies. And lately he shows a lot of Sasuke-ish behavior. Personally, I think the treatment of this village is finally getting to him, and he is getting desperate, if he resorts to try and be more like Sasuke."
Sarutobi sighed as he listened to Kakashi's analysis. He didn't know the boy at all. Kakashi described Naruto's situation as 'the hate finally getting to him' while the hate had done so long ago. What Kakashi was seeing now was nothing more then the discarding of an emotional mask, but Kakashi failed to see that. In his eyes, the 'imperfect' Naruto wanted to be more like the 'perfect' Sasuke.
It would be easily solved just telling Kakashi the truth, but those secrets were Naruto's to tell, and Naruto's alone. "Kakashi, your hypothesis is good, but nowhere near close. I will not tell you exactly what is wrong, but I will tell you that you do not have to worry about Naruto."
"But Hokage-sama! Teamwork in team 7 is at an all time low; by this rate they won't be ready for the Chuunin exams!"
"And that is bad, how? I know the council is putting pressure on you to get Sasuke promoted as soon as possible, and I know you want him promoted as soon as possible as well, but if the team gets killed in the exams, does that really matter?"
"Well, no, but…"
"And one more thing, Kakashi, you put a change in Naruto as the cause of teamwork in your team collapsing. But is it really Naruto's fault that the teamwork has grown sour? As I recall, neither Sakura not Sasuke have open and accepting attitudes either."
Kakashi found it hard to deny that. "But I could always depend on Naruto to get the team together when it mattered, without that-"
"You will just have to work hard at changing the other two then." Sarutobi interrupted. "From what you have told me, the only thing that happened is that Naruto grew tired of always being put down by his team. Judging by how they acted while reporting the mission, I would have to agree with Naruto that this cannot go on. I have already made arrangements that will make Naruto's life more acceptable to deal with, but it is up to you to make his team more acceptable to deal with."
"That is all, Kakashi. You are dismissed."
Kakashi looked like he wanted to protest, but held his tongue. He bowed towards the Hokage as he vanished. Sarutobi took a drag from his pipe before he hit a button on his desk. "Send Uzumaki Naruto back in now."
Moments later, the door opened and Naruto once more stood in front of Sarutobi. Putting his pipe aside, he rested his chin on his folded hands. "Naruto, as you probably already know, your apartments, food supplies, and water and electricity bills –in other words, your current living conditions- are way below the norm." Naruto snorted at this. "Therefore, I have found a new and hopefully better location for you to live. You can move in right now."
"Hah?" Naruto said as he tilted his head in confusion.
Moments later, he was standing outside the doors of a rather… large inn. Naruto blinked as he read the directions that the old man had given him once again. Shiawase. Nope, this was the place. "Well, might as well give it a shot." He mumbled to himself as he stepped forward and opened the slide doors. "Hello? Anyone here?"
"Yo, you must be the new resident." A girl appeared from the corner, arms folded. She was probably around sixteen, judging by her face. Flaming red eyes and blue hair tied up in a ponytail on the back, except for two large locks of hair which hang to the sides of her head, held together by pink hair ties with gold colored bells. She smiled at him smile, though it looked more like a grin in Naruto's eyes. "Uzumaki Naruto, right? C'mon, I'll show you your room."
Naruto only nodded dumbly with a muttered acknowledgment before following his new landlady. As he stepped in, he realized that the house seemed so big because it was build around a large garden. The garden existed of a large field of grass with a pond in the centre. Trees and bushes were scattered around the garden, though they were more concentrated near the pond. Next to the pond was also a small hill of rocks with a small automated waterfall. Apart from the main entrance, all of the doors faced inwards on the garden. Naruto stared at the sight in admiration before the voice of the landlady shook him out of his reverie.
"First, a couple of rules. We don't house many Shinobi here, in fact most of the current residents are high school or college students. A bit weird, at times a bit powerful, so normal isn't the right word… but rule number one is not to practice any destructive ninja technique in or around Shiawase. Sparing is fine, as long as you stick to normal sparring. No chakra enhanced punches that will break walls. Rule number two kinda speaks for itself, don't bother the other residents. Complaints are dealt with by me. Of course, if you have a complaint about one of the other residents, I will listen to you as well." The girl put her right elbow in her hand and held her chin in thought. "That's all I can think of; the jiji said he'd take care of your bills. Dunno what you did, but he seems to like you. Ah, we're here."
They stopped in front of a room with the number 7 on it. Naruto grinned at the irony. When the landlady opened the door, Naruto could feel his mouth fall open.
Passing the small hall, he saw that the room was large, nearly twice the size of his previous apartment. The floor was covered with a traditional tatami flooring, it had a bed in the far right corner, and a desk in the other one. The corner to their immediate right had a kitchen, with a bar-like table shielding it from the rest of the room, while the left had a big couch and a TV.
"It's just the basics, so you'll have to fill in the rest yourself. There's no food yet, though."
Naruto turned to the landlady with a huge smile on his face. I real smile. "No, this is perfect. Thank you, miss…"
The landlady winked. "Saki, Akasaka Saki."
"Thank you, Akasaka-san."
"It's Saki, not Akasaka-san. Sa-ki."
Naruto blinked. He had recently learned from the old man that referring to a person by their first name meant they had a fair level of familiarity. Of course, since he already was 'close' to his classmates, he still called them by their first names. Besides, it was part of his mask to be blunt.
But here was someone whom he felt comfortable with to lower his mask, and since she was almost four years his age he felt a bit uncomfortable being so… familiar.
Still, when in rome…
"Thank you, ah, Saki-san."
Saki grinned, and a hand landed forcefully on Naruto's shoulder. "Good, then I'll be getting back to work. You go get settled, transfer your stuff, go get food." She turned around and started to walk away, only to stop after a few steps. "Oh, before I forget." She turned around. "Welcome to Shiawase."
Naruto let out an exhausted sigh as he put away the last box. Having almost no personal belongings meant that, technically, Naruto didn't have much work to do. But when you have to move those heavy boxes all by yourself, that complicates things. After that, he had gone shopping. Using the same trick as at the library, he had transformed into his magi form before going shopping. As a result his supplies were now bigger then ever before, not to mention filled with things other then cheap instant ramen, and he still had money left. It helped when people weren't charging you triple the normal prices.
He had just finished organizing his room, too. The desk was now filled with writing utensils and books, his prized spell book and notebook in the centre. Between the desk and the couch now stood a giant bookshelf, filled with not only scrolls –which would be expectable from a ninja- but also a greater part of books. All in all, Naruto was pleased with the result.
The sound of knuckles hitting wood drew Naruto's attention. "It's open!" He called, expecting it to be either the old man or Saki. He was proven wrong, though, when a brown haired, brown eyed girl wearing a pink Chinese shirt appeared in the open door.
"Heeeh?" The girl said as she observed Naruto, her eyes coming to rest on his hitai-ate. "So it's true, the new resident is a ninja." She smiled, taking of her shoes before entering, sitting down on her knees in front of him. "My name is Tenten, I graduated last year, but I'm still a genin. I live in room 3."
Naruto grinned. "Uzumaki Naruto, team 7, I graduated this year so I'm obviously still a genin too. Yoroshiku." (pleased to meet you)
Tenten smiled. "It's good to have another ninja living here, up until now I was the only one. Ah! But that's not what I'm here for, come on we've got to go!" She said jumping up and gesturing for Naruto to follow her.
"Eh? Go? Go where?" Naruto said as he scrambled up.
"To the welcoming party, of course!" Tenten said as she struggled to put on her sandals. "Even Hokage-sama came!"
"Oji-san?" Naruto echoed. Tenten looked at him for a moment before shaking hear head, though she did so with a smile on her face.
"You're as bad as Saki-chan. He's the village leader, you know? And you go around calling him an old man?"
Naruto simply shrugged. "What? It's true, he is an old man!"
Tenten shook her head in resignation and pulled him along. "Never mind, come on! We'll be late!"
Naruto got no chance to utter any word of protest as he was dragged into the garden, where a group of people were waiting for them. Naruto recognized Saki, who was sitting cross legged on top of the small hill, and the old man, who was sitting near two other people on a cloth. When Tenten and Naruto arrived, Saki looked up from her seated position, and turned to the rest with a huge grin on her face.
"Yo! He's here, let's get this party started!"
As one, everybody cheered and Naruto was showered in 'welcomes' handshakes and pats to the back. After the moment died down, A girl with orange-pink hair, calm everywhere except for one lock that stood out like an antenna, stood up with a mike in hand "Yoooosh, now that everyone is here, we should start with introductions. My name is Momono Megumi, 20 years old. You probably won't see me often, since I study at a college far away, so I'm glad I got to be here today! My favorite hobby is reporting, and camerawork. I live in room 2. Next up, Kenichi!"
The mike was handed to a brown haired boy, who accepted it slightly nervously. "My name is Shirahame Kenichi. 18 years old and living in room 4. I aspire to be a great martial artist, and my favourite hobby is therefore training at the Ryouzanpaku dojo, at the edge of Konoha." He smiled at Naruto, who returned it, before handing the mike to the next person, a young blonde haired girl, with her hair tied up in a short, bouncy ponytail.
"My name is Oe Chizuko from room 5, 14 years old, My hobbies include eating, and finding the most delicious meals available." She made a victory sign towards Naruto, who chuckled. This girl reminded him of his mask in ramen-mode. She then handed the mike to Tenten.
"Naruto already heard a part of this, but since I left a few things out, I'll finish it now. My name is Tenten, 13 years old. I graduated last year from the Konoha ninja academy, but I'm still a genin. I live in room 3. My greatest ambition is to show the world that Kunoichi are not weaker then men, and can be even greater, like the densetsu no sannin Tsunade."
Next the mike was given to a girl with long purple flowing hair. Though she looked amazingly cute, especially in the light orange school uniform with a darker orange colored skirt, Naruto got a strange vibe from her. "My name is Watarashi Jun, 15 years old. I like shopping and sports. I live in room 6."
Megumi smirked and snatched the mike from Jun. "And a small detail he is leaving out right now is that he is probably the prettiest boy in all of Konoha."
"Momono-san!" Jun yelled in annoyance.
"I knew it!" Naruto thought.
Megumi shrugged and handed the mike to a dark haired boy, his hair spiky, but held in place slightly by a bandana. "Toukai Hibiki. 17 years. I like working with mechanics, so I am studying to be a mechanic. I live in room 1." Tossing the mike to Saki, he sat back and gave a grin to Naruto.
Saki caught the mike and stood up from her sitting positions. "I am Akasaka Saki, but you already know that. Call me Saki and we'll have no problems unless you make them. I'm 16 years old, and the landlady of Shiawase. I like doing things. It doesn't matter what, as long as I don't have to sit still while doing it. I also like everyone who lives here, at Shiawase. They all are important people to me, and I'm not afraid to add more. So once more, I welcome you to Shiawase." She smiled at the massive welcome and applause before handing the mike to Naruto and pushing him up the rocky hill.
"I'm Uzumaki Naruto, 12 years old and new resident in room 7. I… don't really know what to say to your kindness. In one day, I have been shown more love by a garden filled with total strangers then my life in my old apartment." Naruto sighed and lowered his head. "You… will have to forgive me though. Have lived a life in which I cannot trust others so easily, so despite the fact that I really want to, I cannot afford to trust you so easily."
A loud snort drew the attention of the audience, and everyone turned to Hibiki, who was sitting with a smirk on his face. As the attention set on him, he looked up. "So?" he queried. "We all have our black spots in the past; I myself have been in a position where I wasn't sure I could trust anyone not to long ago. Building trust takes time, that's something I learned. I don't know what you've been through, most of us won't since we don't get in Konoha much, but don't think that just because you won't trust us immediately we're going to isolate you."
Chizoku and Jun were nodding in agreement, while the rest simply smiled their agreement with Hibiki's statement. Naruto felt his heart swell even more.
Sarutobi smiled. Truly, he found that he made a good choice. Seeing Naruto happy like this made him remember the joys of being Hokage. "Then I will leave you to your party. Saki-san, I entrust Naruto to your care. Have fun."
As Sarutobi left, Naruto found himself dragged back to the cloth, where all manners of food were produced. The part lasted till late in the night, and for Naruto, he felt better then ever.
Review time with Kyuubi and Yasei
Yasei stretches his arms and grins "Well, that's all for this chapter, hope you enjoyed it. I decided that I'd give Naruto at least some decent and friendly company to live with, who know his second secret. Makes you wonder were Sarutobi dug them up. They won't have a major impact on the story, but they will serve to stabilize Naruto's non-ninja life. And yes, each of the residents can be backtracked to an anime, but only two are from the same one. Anyway, on to the reviews. Kyuubi, take it away!"
"Right!" Kyuubi reads the list of reviews and growls. "There's a lot of reviews this time, it's better if we just gather the questions and answer them instead of answering each review. Otherwise this part will get larger then the main story, not that I care, since it gives me more screen time, but…"
"I get your point."
"Good. First and foremost, we should cover a question two of the readers have posted. It concerns chapter 2's familiarity with 'Lies and Deceit' care to explain that away?"
Yasei shrugs. "It's true. Lies in Deceit was, and still is, the greatest source of inspiration for this fic. I tried to simply use it as an inspiration, but by the looks of it I failed miserably with chapter 2. It's one of the reasons I scrapped the conversation between Naruto and Kakashi that was planned in this chapter."
"Next question, when does this fic take place in the timeline? Some people are confused as to when it is."
"This fic takes place after wave, but before the Chuunin exams. I really didn't feel the need to go through wave, as nothing would up until the point where this story began.
"There are lots of questions and suggestion as to the spell list you are using. People wonder whether you use the Tales spell list, Slayers spell list or D&D.
"A little bit of all, I guess. I pick em as I go. Up until now, I've used offensive spells from the Tales list, and supportive spells from the Slayers list. D&D spells will make an appearance as well, as well as Mahou Sensei Negima."
"Next, a lot of people are asking if you are planning to train Naruto physically, or whether he will still learn jutsu."
Yasei gets up and starts pacing around his room. "I have been thinking about that too, but I decided not too. You see, I can choose to train Naruto physically, but if I place myself into Naruto's mindset, would I do it? The answer is no. Think about it, if you have something unique, wouldn't you rather use that then something thousands of others can do as well? There is little reason to train Naruto physically, as mana is mental energy. He will be able to handle himself in a brawl, but win a one on one hand-to-hand fight against someone who trains in it will be impossible. As Chakra is formed by mixing physical and mental energies, or in other words, chi and mana. These three energies are each an entirely different type. The details of this will be explained later, but chakra only needs a small amount of mana, which is the only amount a human being can call upon without a magi form or staff. The bulk of it exists of chi.
"There are people who are wondering how Naruto will hide his girl form in the Chuunin exams. Care to take a leap at that?"
"I won't reveal anything too spoilerish, but remember: 'Number one Surprising ninja' is for a reason."
"That's it for the bulk of the questions. The rest are too detailed to go into, we don't need author notes bigger then the chapter itself. Any last questions for the reviewers?"
"Actually, yes. Two. The first is simple: Should the chuunin exams start next chapter, or should I do another 'Naruto's personal life' chapter?
As for the second, should Naruto's magi form be identified in the chuunin exams (as in, people will know its Naruto) or should he be known as 'the mysterious girl?' I've got ideas for both, and neither choice will affect the eventual plot too much. But even with identification, it will be limited to team 7 alone. Comical effects and all that."