Naruto Legacy of the Hokages
Disclaimer: I do not and never will own Naruto, no matter how much I want too. Any and all characters, jutsu and places that I create are mine; if you want to use them please ask permission.
() Jutsu translations/authors voice/usual use for brackets that I cannot be bothered to describe
Italic memories/writing/Spirit voice
Bold emphasis on word
… Pause during speech
Chapter 11 – Emissary of the Leaf Part II
Naruto hoisted his backpack over his shoulders as he trudged through the east gate of the village. Normally most human traffic came and went via the main south gate, the largest of the three, but in some cases when one needed to be quiet or unseen the other gates were used. Naruto had decided to use this method of beginning his solo mission as an example for himself, walking silently alone into a dark morning, an example of the life he had chosen. Though bound as they were by bonds of fellowship, shinobi would always be alone in some sense.
Closing his eyes Naruto envisioned the maps of the Hi no Kuni and Kusa no Kuni he had procured from the Vault, and formed the fastest route from Konohagakure to Kusagakure. Remembering the secondary factor of his mission, the need to locate Jiraiya, he factored in the closest towns and villages between his route and the nations border, where the man was reputed to be. Happy with his calculations Naruto opened his eyes, nodded to the half-awake guard, and set off.
He appeared to vanish into thin air as he leapt into the air, travelling in the usual shinobi fashion of vaulting through the trees and over obstacles with ease. At times when he hit the ground, Naruto maintained a quick running pace with his arms extended behind him in another display of shinobi sensibility. After a day's constant travel he managed to reach the town of Boshoku, the first town on his list concerning the search for Jiraiya. After paying for a room at, what he had been told by a helpful old woman selling dango, the best hotel in the prosperous town, Naruto decided to relax and recuperate in the hotels hot springs.
"I can search for this Jiraiya guy tomorrow. Made good time today so I can afford the break, and if I continue like this I can have the mission over and done with in...a week, tops" Naruto muttered to himself as he unpacked and checked his things. Picking up a towel he headed in the direction of the hot springs, situated up a hill behind the hotel. His walking pace became increasingly slow as he trudged up the steps, and pushing open the doors to the male changing rooms was an ordeal in itself as his fatigue rapidly crept up on him.
Naruto stared through to the hot springs themselves, and his tired face contorted into a vision of abject outrage as his eyes focused on one thing. Through the steam and mist of the hot water, pressed against the wall between this pool and the women's pool as if his life depended on it, was a man. He was naked save for a towel wrung around his waist, a great mane of white hair hanging limp and wet against his back, and as he looked through what must be a peeping hole Naruto could hear him giggling like a little boy.
'Great, I can barely move and now I have to spend my time resting with a blatant pervert peeking at the women's baths. No, screw it, wrong place and time for this guy...he's about to get my boot up his ass!' Naruto fumed, raging against the heavens for blessing him with such an annoyance on such a pleasant day. Using his rising emotion as fuel to move, Naruto ran towards the crouching man shouting a death threat as he did so.
The unnamed pervert looked away from his sport in annoyance, wondering why he was ALWAYS interrupted just as things got good. His bleary eyes opened at the sight of attack, and acting on instinct he bit his thumb and thrust his hand to the ground. "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" he cried, calling on his usual partner in crime Gama to give the little upstart a tongue lashing. To his surprise the boy managed to dodge the attack with a very neat weave, grabbing the tongue as it naturally retracted back into his toad friend's mouth. Looking at the boys face, the man could only gasp a little as a wave of déjà vu washed over him, old faces clouding his vision until it was too late. Cursing beneath his breath, the man could only take the hit as a foot smashed into his jaw, sending him flailing into the water behind him.
Rising from the waters, Jiraiya shouted out "What the hell was that for you damn psychopath! What a guy can't enjoy a bath nowadays without some loony wacko hitting him in the face!" He meant to continue, but was silenced by the look of calmness on the boys face as he went through some breathing exercises intended to channel anger into positive healing thoughts, a Buddhist technique for filtering unwanted aggression. The silence was punctuated by Gama's croaking, the toad having decided to slip into the bath for a quick dip.
Naruto meanwhile having clamed himself down and thought about his actions, had retreated into the changing rooms, shed his clothes and re-entered the baths. Slipping into the water with a contented sigh, Naruto allowed the heat to massage and soothe his aching muscles, waiting for the inevitable tirade to begin again. He was surprised however, when the man retained his cool and merely asked "So what exactly was that all about. I know some people have strong morals, but there's a difference in finding something distasteful and beating a man because of his choice in leisure activities."
Naruto didn't look the man in the eyes; he just stared up into the orange evening sky. "Gomen. I've been travelling all day, so I'm a little tired which made me somewhat short tempered. You're right; I should have probably just asked you to stop. Once again, I apologise."
Jiraiya sighed to himself, rubbing the sore spot on his cheek, "Apology accepted I suppose." There was a long pause as the man looked at the boy with intense scrutiny, his curiosity peaked by his remarkable similarity to his old pupil. 'Could he be...no. Well he is the right age, and the resemblance is uncanny.' He thought, deciding to prompt conversation to investigate his hunch further.
"Those were some pretty slick moves back there kid. It's not often I find someone able to catch me off guard like that you know."
Naruto smiled, his head still reclined for comfort purposes. "Thanks, I guess. Same for you, I've never seen a summoning technique before, so that was a first for me. I like firsts; you always remember them above other memories for some reason. You a shinobi?"
"For my sins..." Jiraiya said crossing his arms in thought "...I noticed you're hitai-ate bore the signature of the Leaf, meaning you must be a shinobi of Konohagakure no Sato, the village Hidden in the Leafs. Are you on a mission in these parts?"
"Something like that. I'm on an envoy mission, C-rank so nothing serious. I'm to head for Kusagakure and deliver something from the Hokage to the Kusakage, my first solo mission too so it's pretty important that I complete it ya know. Also, I have a second task to perform whilst I'm at it. I have to search for a man named Jiraiya who is said to be travelling about these parts. Whilst it's not as important as the delivery, it's still something I was asked to do so I intend to see it done. You haven't heard anything about this man, have you?" Naruto asked.
Jiraiya's eyes narrowed and he could not help but ask the next question. "Might I have your name first, before I say anything further?"
Naruto reached backwards and scratched his heads before moving from his reclined position to look at the man sitting opposite him in the pool. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto" he said politely, watching to see what reaction he might get. As was the case with Haku back in Nami no Kuni, Naruto knew when casual conversation was being used for information gathering. An increasingly obvious theory had become forethought in his head; one which he hoped would be proven valid as it would cut a great deal of wasted time from his mission.
Jiraiya could only stare as the name reverberated through his heart, bringing back a painful memory of two precious people leaving to face a great evil. 'Of all the places we could meet, I find the boy here in a place that's very name means twilight scene, and he has been sent to look for me. Sensei you old goat, it's like something from an old story.' He thought. Grinning wryly, Jiraiya decided to not beat around the bush. "Well it's quite a coincidence we have on our hands. I am Jiraiya" he said his some element of flash about his tone.
Naruto blinked, a little amazed that his hunch had proven right, and somewhat pleased that he had already completed one part of his mission. All that was left was travelling to Kusagakure, meeting his long lost great aunt and returning back to the village. Accepting the man's offer to leave the baths to talk over some food, Naruto returned to his room to get a spare change of clothes. Placing the weights back on his chest and limbs, Naruto drew comfort from the familiar pressure as the sealed gravity effect drew on his chakra to increase the weight on his body. As well as that, he still felt a strange tingling in his gut that had appeared ever since Jiraiya had revealed himself.
'This is Jiraiya, the same Jiraiya that was oyaji's sensei. Am I nervous...or is this anticipation at meeting another figure of my parents past, another person so close to my family' Naruto thought as he zipped up his jacket and tied on his hitai-ate. Pausing at the door, he felt around and withdrew a picture he had taken with him from his home. Gazing at the picture he felt a sense of warmth in his chest, the picture of his parents holding him as a baby. Without anymore words he left the room and closed the door.
After finishing his order of ramen with a side of okonomiyaki and soup, Naruto set down his beverage of choice and waited for the questions to begin. Obviously not one to disappoint, Jiraiya took a sip of sake and gazed over the cup at the blonde. "So let me get this straight. Your name is Uzumaki Naruto. You're a genin of Konoha, assigned an envoy mission to the Kusagakure."
"Man you sure catch of fast huh?" Naruto retorted, raising a small tick of irritation from the white haired hermit, who just continued to sip at his sake cup.
"Kids these days..." he muttered under his breath "...no respect for their elders. I was just going over things to try to clarify why the old man would entrust an envoy mission to a single genin, I mean, missions of this calibre are reserved for full teams or shinobi of chunin level or higher. You must be pretty good for a genin to be sent solo at such a tender age."
"I can handle myself...being a quick study helps" Naruto replied cryptically, perusing the sweet section of the menu with a sideways glance.
There was a pause as Jiraiya mulled over the answer before speaking again. "Uzumaki is an interesting name, from your father I take it. I haven't been in the village for so long; it's hard to keep up with all the names."
Naruto closed his eyes and counted to ten as he thought on the best way to counter the question. Jiraiya obviously knew who he was, and his questions were all aimed at revealing how much he knew about his history. The same thing had happened with Kakashi, and Naruto had been frank then, why change tack now?
"No..." Naruto said, reaching into his pocket for the photo of his parents "...Uzumaki is the name of my mother's clan, not my fathers. My father, as you well know, was Namikaze Minato. Son of Namikaze Shinkuyain, former Yondaime Hokage of Konohagakure, and your former student. Now I assure you Jiraiya-san that our meeting here is purely coincidental, I was to search for your whereabouts as a sideline to my main mission. But here we are, sitting down in this place, talking, so I think it's only fair that we get these revelations out of the way. I've been in this situation with Kakashi-sensei, and the only way out of it I saw that was most beneficial in the long run was to confess truth and say that yes, I know you my parents are. I know that twelve years ago they died defending the village from the Kyuubi no Kitsune, which my father sealed within my body making me a Jinchuuriki. I know all that history. So..." he finished, handing the picture over for the man to look at "...what's your next probing question...Ero-san?"
Jiraiya did a double take, blinked several times as he accepted the offered picture, and as he looked at it took a sobering breathe in. Groaning he rubbed his head as if to stave off a migraine, mumbling something about it being one of those days, before looking back at Naruto. "So Kakashi's your sensei huh? Sometimes I wonder if there is such a thing as coincidence, but that just takes the cake" he said, passing the photo back and taking a large swig straight from the sake jug.
"I should have known something like this would happen today, after that dream I had last night. I dreamt of that night, twelve years ago, when I stood by and watched the closest thing I had to a family sacrifice itself..." Jiraiya said, staring out of the window at the night's sky. "...So how much do you know?" he asked, his eyes now focused with a laser intensity on the boy. A small smile built on his face as he noticed the blonde return his gaze unflinchingly.
"Everything so far as I can tell. I live in the Namikaze estate, in the house my mom lived in. I know about the Vault, the Namikaze clan's failsafe for the village. I know about my mother's clan, their history, their country and all that. That's pretty much it so far, but I am hoping that meeting my great aunt in Kusa will fill in some more blanks for me" Naruto replied, waving his hand as if the facts he were spouting were common knowledge. At least they were where present company was concerned.
Jiraiya whistled, a little surprised at how clued in his long returned godson was to his heritage. 'That explains his skills, since he was the Vaults repository to fall back on. But there's something else, he didn't say how he learnt all of this, only that he knows' the sage thought. "Who told you all of this? Was it the old man, because I'm pretty sure Minato would have asked him to hold back until you were at least sixteen?"
Naruto sucked on his cheek as he prepared to drop the next bomb. "I learnt it all from my dad of course." The answer had the same effect that it had had on Kakashi all those weeks ago, a look of complete surprise. Sure that he had the man hanging on his every word, Naruto began to narrate the old story of how his father had created the jutsu dubbed Shinzui Hashi and implanted it within his infant son's body, alongside the completed Shinten Koyou Fuin. How when the seal had prematurely activated, it had granted Naruto the power to communicate with the dead, amongst other things. He also went so far as to mention his new spiritual sensei and the overview of his past mission to Nami no Kuni.
Jiraiya simply listened dumbstruck, occasionally reaching for the sake to calm his nerves. When Naruto had finished, he shook the jug and discovered to his amusement that he had drank all of its contents. Feeling the liquor's familiar burning in his stomach, the old shinobi sighed. "Minato, that kid was one in a million, the most gifted individual I had ever met. Used to be, I thought his only legacy was that library of his and some measure of peace due to the sealing of the fox...but I guess he left a little something extra."
Naruto just sat there and picked up the photograph, placing it back in his pocket where it was safe. Jiraiya then stood up and yawned, before walking away waving "I'm going to go to bed. All these surprises today have made me sleepy. Don't worry kid, you can tell the old coot that I'll be back in the village before the next Chunin exams."
The last part caught Naruto's attention, 'Chunin exams? Of course, that must be what's in the scroll, the times for the next Chunin exams. This changes things, now I definitely need to get to Kusa!' he thought, before noticing that Jiraiya had not put anything towards the bill. Grumbling, Naruto laid down some money and headed for his room. He needed to get some sleep too.
Later that Night
Jiraiya did not go to sleep as he had said. How could he having come across, so randomly in this small town, the godson whom he had not seen in over a decade. He could not sleep, nor did he want to, for he knew of the memories that would plague his dreams if he closed his eyes. Instead, he stood all night watching the boy sleep, contemplating the new purpose that had been thrust into his life.
'It's funny...' he thought as he gazed at the boy beneath the half moon '...up until now I had thought I had only one goal in life. Track Orochimaru, watch him from the distance and wait for a time to bring him to bear for his crimes. That was myself imposed penance for allowing him to fall as far as he has. But now this kid appears, and I can't help but think of Minato and that other promise I made all those years ago.'
A younger man stood before a decorated crib, gazing at the sleeping infant held within. The babe was three days old, and already had made a strong impression on those closest to him. Reaching down to stroke the child's soft cheek, being careful not to wake the boy, the man spoke just as softly. He knew not what compelled him to say the words he was to utter, beyond a deep paternal affection that he could not put a finger on exactly.
"I gave you your name you know. Naruto, it was just this name I thought up whilst eating some ramen, but your mom seemed to like it. It's a godfathers job to see their godchild grow up right in the place of their parents...I can only hope that I can live up to that role if it ever falls to me. But I promise you this kid, I will always be there to help you, no matter what. If anything were to happen to your folks, I'll make sure you grow into a man that can make them proud. I promise."
'Guess the time's come to live up to that promise. Fate has placed a heavy burden on your shoulders, and though you seem to be bearing it well, I'd be a pretty awful godfather if I didn't help you with it. Kid, you're gonna be my disciple. Just like I trained your father and guided him as a sensei, so shall I guide you. Looks like I'm heading for Kusagakure...and maybe 'there' if you can stand a slight detour' the old shinobi thought.
Cracking his back as he went through some preliminary warm up exercises, Naruto kept his eyes fixed on the horizon. His pack was in order as was his shinobi kit, in short he was ready to leave. Launching off the ground Naruto smiled as he felt the wind against his face. However, just as he was about to clear the edge of the town and surge into the distance beyond it, a voice called out his name. Embarrassingly he was caught off guard in mid-leap, his body comically outstretched, but he quickly recovered. Twisting in mid-air Naruto landed on his feet to see who was trying to get his attention. It was Jiraiya, waving at him propped against a tree with his own backpack at his feet. Naruto noted the bags beneath his eyes, 'Did he actually sleep last night' he wondered, waiting for the man to catch up with him.
"Looks like I almost lost you for a second there. I would have never guessed a kid like you would be leaving so early, good thing I'm an early riser myself huh?" Jiraiya said, trying to seem nonchalant with a slight chuckle.
"Yeah I do have a mission to finish ya know" Naruto replied, unsure as to what the man would want now that, technically, their business had been concluded.
Jiraiya looked at the kid in an appraising fashion for a brief minute before continuing with his rehearsed speech. "Yeah about that mission of yours. I know it's a solo mission and you'd probably like to travel alone, but you see I remembered I have a errand to run in Kusagakure and I was wondering if I could tag along with you. Travelling is always more fun when you have a travelling partner..."
Grinning, Jiraiya launched himself into a kabuki pose, slowly moving his arms through the air. "...And let's face it, there's no better travelling companion to have than I, the gallant Jiraiya, the Gama-sennin of Myobokuzan Mountain to whom men tremble and ladies weep with adoration!"
Naruto watched the small tableau with a certain degree of discomfort before muttering "Gama-Sennin...Ero-sennin would be more damn appropriate."
Hearing this small remark, Jiraiya lunged forwards and grabbed the boy by his collar. "Its Gama-sennin dammit, what are you trying to do ruin my perfectly suave reputation. Honestly you should be begging me to come along with you!"
Unable to help himself Naruto rose to the bait and retorted "You're Ero-sennin because all you seem to do is wander from town to town peeking at girls as they bathe you sour old prune!"
"That is research for my novels..." Jiraiya shouted back, pulling out a copy of Icha Icha Paradise with one hand before shoving it in Naruto's face "...see I am a legitimate writer and publisher of fiction!"
Naruto recognised the book immediately as being one from the series that Kakashi was always reading. "I know those damn books, Kakashi-sensei is always reading those pervy novels."
Jiraiya paused "Really? Kakashi reads them...guess he got that package delivery then. Well that's enough childishness. If a simple request won't be enough, how about this." Slamming his palm upon the ground Jiraiya called out "Kuchiyose no Jutsu!" and in a poof of shinobi smoke the same frog from the previous night appeared, this time carrying a scroll in its tongue. The toad carefully placed the scroll reverently upon the ground before retracting its tongue. Jiraiya crossed his arms and gave Naruto a serious look.
"This is the contract scroll that binds a shinobi in partnership with the Gama of Myobokuzan. Since you know that Namikaze Minato was your father, then doubtless you know that I was his sensei. If we travel together I promise to teach you the Kuchiyose technique, one of the techniques used by your father to stop the Kyuubi. How about that for an offer aye kid?"
Naruto did not answer straight away; instead he looked at large scroll at his feet. This changed things, this offer. He had hoped to learn from this man at some point, but he had thought that might be in the future when he returned to Konoha. Still, he seemed serious; perhaps he should take him up on his offer and add one more sensei to the list. Crouching down Naruto carefully opened the scroll outwards to see the names signed within, and with the faintest of touches dragged his fingertips down his father's signature. He then looked up at Jiraiya with a grin, "You really to play hardball dontcha Ero-sennin. Deal!"
Down a dusty road a pair of travellers slowly made their way. They seemed an odd pair, one a tall middle aged man with a shocking mane of white hair, the other a short blonde haired boy, an intriguing duality. The pair had been travelling for a day since early morning, and had travelled a great distance in that time, but they were still roughly a day's travel from the border with Kusagakure. Setting up camp in a small clearing several kilometres from the border, the pair watched as the sun began slowly move into twilight, casting an orange glow about the land.
Then began the introduction to the training, Naruto signing the contract scroll with his name in blood and an imprint of his right hands fingertips. Jiraiya explained that they would camp during the evenings and practice the technique then, since the days travel would deplete Naruto's stamina enough to force him to draw out the volumes of chakra necessary to perform a successful summoning.
Sitting beside the camp fire, Jiraiya explained the series of seals one needed to go through for the jutsu. It seemed simple enough, draw blood perform some seals and release the chakra at the point of impact with the ground or any solid surface. The sannin noted how for some time after the explanation Naruto sat quietly in a meditative position, as if he were thinking over the jutsu or committing it to memory. Fascinated by the different approach from his new student, Jiraiya did as any sensei would have done; he stayed quiet and let his protégé continue.
After some time Naruto opened his eyes, seemingly contented with his mental processing he had pursued on the Kuchiyose jutsu. He smiled as he wondered what the old him would have done, most likely he would have exhausted himself somehow and just blasted as much chakra as possible into the technique with poor results, a tadpole or something like that. But that was the old Naruto, before the Shinten Koyou Fuin had amplified his mental capacity. The reason Naruto had spent so long meditating over the jutsu was because he was running through calculations.
The Kuchiyose jutsu was a C-rank Space/Time Ninjutsu that used a blood mixed with chakra to transport and animal or weapon over a great distance. The more he thought about that explanation, the more Naruto started going over mathematical equations equating chakra cost to movement of physical mass. He thought about the animal that he trying to summon, a toad, and estimated the exact mass of an average size toad. Factoring in the distance between his current location and the Toad Land of Myobokuzan where he would be summoning the toad from. The Toad Land lay in the area situated between Tsuchi no Kuni and Kaze no Kuni, a fair distance by foot but with the nature of the Kuchiyose jutsu it was not a great problem. All of these calculations went about Naruto's mind in a maelstrom of thought, before he arrived at what he believed to be the correct volume of chakra needed to perform the summoning. Biting his thumb Naruto ran through the seals and struck his hand upon the ground, calling out the jutsu's name in the time honoured fashion.
Jiraiya sat up when he saw Naruto do this, and peered expectantly at the large cloud of shinobi smoke created by the jutsu. 'This should be good. I mean if the kid's anything like his father he should be able to grasp the technique quickly, and with the chakra on the Kyuubi he could be summoning a toad like Gamabunta in no time...'
Through the smoke a figure began to appear, a small figure, and Jiraiya's expectant face went deadpan. Naruto however seemed pleased with his efforts, and through the smoke the small crimson coloured toad looked up at its summoner. "What the heck? I thought I was summoned by someone important, but it's just a kid" exclaimed Gamakichi as he gazed up at Naruto.
Jiraiya groaned, "And here I was expecting something big. That great talent of yours must be pretty hit and miss."
Naruto shook his head, "Actually it turned out exactly as I had hoped. I only wanted to summon a small toad at first to test out how the jutsu works. I calculated the amount of chakra necessary depending on the mass of the toad, and now my calculations are a success I should be able to, with practice, summon even bigger toads. Watch this...Kuchiyose no Jutsu!"
Slamming his hand to the ground Naruto created another poof of shinobi smoke, which cleared to reveal another small toad. Jiraiya and Gamakichi looked on, the small toad intrigued by his summoners words. 'Who is this kid? A newbie? That's Jiraiya, I recognise him from pap's stories, so this kid must be his pupil' the toad thought to himself.
The smoke cleared and revealed an orange toad of equal size to Gamakichi, except this one's appearance was slightly difference. "Well howdy..." the little toad exclaimed cheerfully "...my name's Gamatatsu! Have ya got any snacks?"
Naruto walked over to his backpack and brought out some potato chips, tossing them to the newly summoned toad who accepted them readily. Sitting down with Jiraiya Naruto smiled as he warmed his hands by the fire. "See, I was just able to replicate the same effects with the technique because I knew exactly how to do it. The same size toad just after my first summoning."
The white haired sensei huffed, "Alright I yield seems you planned things out pretty well. Not too shabby kid, not too shabby at all." he said behind a cheerfully sardonic mask. Within though he was rather startled at the boy's precise and accurate approach. 'Minato, this kid of yours is something else. I was expecting a tadpole and he summoned two regular toads on his first and second tries. With a learning curve like this he could surpass everyone who came before him...I mean it took you two weeks to summon a toad of Gama's size, so how long might it take your son?'
Deciding to throw a little incentive the boy's way, as a means of seeing how he might react with a clear goal in mind Jiraiya muttered under his breath. "Alright then, how about a challenge. If you can summon one of the great toads by the time we have reached Kusa and returned to Konoha, I might be tempted to teach you something else."
Naruto, who had moved to talking to the pair of toads, perked up and smiled. He did not know what the man was planning, but something in the tone of his voice hinted that the 'something else' was pretty big. "Okay, sure, challenge accepted..." Naruto said, turning to talk to Gamakichi. "...Could you guys tell me just how big the largest toads of your clan are? You know just so I have something to work with when I train."
The small toad crossed its arms together in thought. "Well, most of us toads tend to come in three size groups depending on our age and sub species. There are toads of me and Gamatatsu's size that're used as messengers. Then there are medium sized toads like Gama, the guy who Jiraiya over there is always summoning. And then there are toads like my pap, the great toad boss Gamabunta who are huge! My pap's over one hundred metres tall and tough as they come, but he can be a little grumpy when summoned!"
Jiraiya burst out laughing at the description, "Grumpy...now there's an understatement. I've known that toad for years and we still argue like cats and dogs."
"Yeah and he's still mad at you for that last time!" Gamakichi retorted, glaring at the sage.
"Yep, daddy's reeeeally angry at ya Jiraiya-san" Gamatatsu chimed, having finished the snacks Naruto had given him.
Shaking his head at his younger brother's naivety, Gamakichi looked at Naruto. "It was nice to meet ya Naruto. Feel free to summon me anytime you need me...I get the feeling things'll be interesting with you around!" Then the pair of toads disappeared in a puff of smoke as they returned to their home, leaving a thoughtful Naruto and a yawning Jiraiya sitting outside of their respective tents.
"I'm gonna hit the hay. See you in the morning kid" Jiraiya said before entering his tent. Normally he would be sleeping rough, but the area they were in seemed to possess a mosquito problem and neither of the pair wanted to wake up covered in bites.
Naruto sat still gazing into the fire, thinking of the spiralling amount of tasks awaiting him. The mission to Kusagakure and the chance of meeting his great aunt burned strongly in his mind, but ever since meeting Jiraiya he had new concerns piling up. He had taken the man's offer to train gladly, seeing it as another means of connecting with his father, but as he performed the Kuchiyose jutsu and received praise for his efforts another desire entered his mind. He was familiar with it, having felt it with Iruka and Kakashi, the desire for praise from ones sensei. To prove oneself to a master was one of the greatest thrills Naruto had ever felt.
He would prove his worth to Jiraiya regardless of the wager, by summoning this Gamabunta that his new friend Gamakichi had mentioned. But in order to do so he would need to expel an incredible amount of chakra, and he feared that his arguably large reserves would not be enough. This required more thought, but first sleep. Sleep was good.
Later that Night
The dream was back, the dream of the battle. Unable to wake himself from his nightmare Naruto watched as the battle raged around him, strange creatures fighting warriors in black. He had allies that much was certain, but how he knew them and why they were helping him was uncertain. He heard a rumbling, and in the distance saw a rapidly approaching black cloud crackling with dark energy. He feared the cloud, but knew that he needed to stop whatever was inside of it creating the aura of fear. Bending down, he launched into the air and with the crack of a sonic boom flew forwards towards the cloud, an angry roar emanating from his chest.
The Next Day
Naruto and Jiraiya sat outside of the travellers lodge waiting for their order to arrive. They had been up since sunrise moving towards the border, and had made surprising progress crossing into Kusa no Kuni by the afternoon. Deciding to rest at a travellers lodge for some food and drink, the pair chatted casually, Naruto picking Jiraiya's brains concerning his family. Jiraiya had heard of how Kushina's aunt Suiteki had become Kusakage, a position acquired through familial ties. The title was not one gained through election as was the case with other villages; it was passed on through generations. The Mateki clan had held the title of Kusakage for four generations since the village had been founded. When the previous Kusakage, Suiteki's husband Jushiro had died of tuberculosis the elders had asked Suiteki to keep the position until Jushiro's first born child came of age and inherited the position as was tradition. The move had been opposed by several clans who had asked that the sovereign right pass to another clan, but Suiteki had proved herself strong enough to be the village's protector and leader.
Naruto took everything in, and when their food arrived the pair ate quietly. Naruto then noticed mid-bite that Jiraiya was listening intently to a conversation in the other table so he decided to strain his ears and listen in as well.
"...seriously that old women was scary. I mean they say she's a fortune teller or something, but all she told me was that I should avoid visiting my sister in Konohagakure in the summer. Why would I do that? I mean really, should we actually trust the word of a nomad, I mean they have no home for a reason" the man whispered conspirationally to his friend.
Naruto did not think much of the man's words; he was just having a conversation about a trip. But Jiraiya seemed very interested, humming as he held his chin in thought. "Hey Naruto. I know it might put us back a day or so, but is it possible for us to make a small detour?"
Naruto looked down at his empty plate idly, curiosity starting to burn in his mind. He had heard the words 'fortune' and 'teller', which brought back a memory of Minato relating how he had seen a fortune teller during his youth, and occasion that had changed his life. Downing the remains of his tea Naruto nodded, "Sure why not? One day can't hurt...I guess. I mean, that's one more day to practice the Kuchiyose jutsu right."
Jiraiya hummed in agreement, "When you think of it that way I guess. But seriously, if this is the nomadic tribe I think it is, then one extra day could mean a whole lot more for you. I speak from experience about this one." Finishing his drink Jiraiya paid the bill and quizzed the travellers about the whereabouts of the nomad camp. One of them pointed in the direction from which they had come, and Naruto and Jiraiya moved from there.
Naruto saw the camp before they arrived, and was a little surprised at the notion of a group still living in what would have probably have been considered to be and outdated fashion. Several large wagon carts formed a semi-circular perimeter around the camp, which was backed against a large rock face. The camp itself consisted of a number of tents of various sizes, made from what appeared to be animal skin and wooden tent poles. Smoke rose from fires dotted around the area, people went about their business washing clothes and driving livestock.
As they approached the camp the duo were stopped by guards armed with jian swords. The guards were a little defensive, but allowed the pair to pass when Jiraiya revealed his name. They even went so far as to bow and welcome his return, which intrigued Naruto greatly. The feeling then amplified itself as an elder of the tribe by the name of Kahiko, a strange man with a small ferret curled around his shoulders, walked up to Jiraiya and spoke to him as if he were an old friend.
Naruto remained silent as the men discussed something aside, his gaze sweeping across the inner circle of the camp. The air was thick was the smell of nature, the animals, the smell of the leather of the tents, the smoke of the fire. 'Such a simple lifestyle, nothing but the world around you and a path to follow' Naruto thought with a smile. He loved his home, but he still found the tableau of life a fascinating subject, one of many new favourites from his time reading late into the evening.
As his eyes moved about the general vicinity, one place in particular caught his attention. It was a skin tent similar to the others, round in structure similar to those used by other nomadic tribes in the Northern plains, except all of the animal hides used for cover and insulation were dark brown. In fact they all blended so seamlessly the tent appeared to be covered in a single sheet of fabric and not hide. Another difference was that large decorative wooden totem was used as a centre stand. The top of the totem was carved to resemble four ravens gazing outwards to a different cardinal point, north, south, east and west.
A young girl of around Naruto's age sat outside of the tent, sitting before a fire tending to a pot of what looked to be a stew. She had a remarkable series of tribal tattoo's marking a full one half of her body, on the right side, and her hair was bound in a long braid.
As Naruto approached the tent, she got up and gave him a queer look, like she was gazing at a ghost or a hallucination. 'It can't be...' she whispered, her seemingly misplaced amazement mounting until he reached her. Naruto, noticing the stares (well how could he not?) held out his hand in a greeting. "Hello there, my name is..."
"Uzumaki Naruto..." the girl said, interrupting the blonde and leaving him taken aback. Before he could ask how she knew his name, the girl spun around and ran inside of the tents opening. "...Grandma! Grandma! He's arrived, just like I told you he would!" she cried excitedly.
Naruto looked into the darkness of the tent and noticed the inside was illuminated only by candlelight. Hearing the bubbling of the stew, he looked into the pot and saw that the mix had begun to burn a little. Ignoring the heat from the steam, Naruto gave the stew a stir before picking up the pot by the handle and moving into the tent. Inside he saw the young girl conversing with a heavily robed old woman sitting on a pile of cushions, her back propped up against the totem. Naruto saw that the woman's old skin was covered in the same style of tribal tattoo's that were decorating the young girl, except her body was covered on the left side rather than the right. Her robes were similar to those of a Shinto monk, though they were purple in colour. Her hair was tied up in a large braid that hung down one side of her head.
Speaking up in as earnest a voice as possible Naruto tried to grab their attention. "Excuse me. Sorry to barge in like this, but I noticed your food was starting to burn and I wanted to apologise for staring. Your home is so interesting that I couldn't help but stare, what with the totem pole and everything."
The old woman spoke up "You were right Keika; he is a very polite boy. Your foresight is getting better, I am proud."
Keika beamed with happiness before running over to Naruto and enveloping him in a tight hug. "Thankyouthankyouthankyou! You were the first person I ever made a successful prediction about, so now the elders will have to accept me as Grandma's successor. I mean I know I was a little bad before, but I trained really hard and then I saw you, coming here to see Grandma."
Naruto meanwhile was wincing as some of the burning hot stew spilled over onto his hand, scalding him. The girl ranted for a while longer whilst crushing the breath out of his lungs with her seemingly superhuman strength, before noticing the pain he was in. Relinquishing her grip she grabbed the pot and bowed, apologising profusely. Naruto accepted a bowl of water that was thrust into his hands as the girl scurried about the tent, getting spoons and other bowls for the food. Sighing as the cool water soothed the burn on his hand; Naruto pulled out a bandage from the medical kit in his backpack and wound the cloth around his hand.
Once she had finished moving about the tent, Keika returned to Naruto, grabbing the bowl of water from Naruto's hands and replacing it with a bowl filled with stew. She then grabbed him by the shoulders and dragged him to a pile of cushions opposite her grandmother. Pushing him down she landed on her own pile of cushions and with a cry of "Itadakimasu!" she dove into her bowl of stew with enthusiasm.
Naruto sat dumbstruck by the girl's energy, and was silent for a while until the old woman spoke up between slow spoonfuls of her own food. "You have to forgive my granddaughter; she is just excited that you are finally here. You see three weeks ago she had her first clear prophetic precognitive dream, indicating that a young shinobi with blonde hair would come to our moving village. His name would be Uzumaki Naruto and he would be the subject of a prophecy, orated by myself the Nomad Seer's Reikou of the Karasu clan."
Naruto looked over at the old woman and took in her words in his usual analytical demeanour. "So are you the Seer's that spoke to my father?" he asked, remembering the words of his father for a second time. When he was told of the story of the Kagetentei, Minato had told Naruto of a time when he was a young shinobi on a mission with his team, where he had stopped off in a Nomad village. During their stay, each member of the team had had their futures foretold. Minato in particular had been told of a particularly intriguing future, where he would create powerful jutsu and use them to end a war.
The old woman closed her eyes in thought. "Yes, I seem to recall a boy similar to yourself visiting, but that was years ago. You say he was your father?"
"Yes..." Naruto replied "...his name was Namikaze Minato. I was wondering, how exactly are you able to predict the future. Is it some form of jutsu, or something else entirely?"
Keika looked over at her grandmother, having finished her meal with gusto. "Can I tell the story Grandma? Please!" she asked, her hands clasped together pleadingly. The old seer nodded and returned to eating her stew.
Coughing a couple of times to clear her throat, Keika began to speak. "The story of our clan dates back many years ago, before this tribe even existed. Back then our ancestors lived on a great continent to the south, separated by the vast ocean. We were ruled by a royal hierarchy and existed as a utopian society, whose great industry was fuelled by a natural resource known as Gelel. This mineral contained vast amounts of life energy that was used to power the empire, and for a time the kingdom lived separate from this one in peace, until a great cataclysm fell upon our home and scoured all life in its wake. Some of our ancestors escaped the cataclysm, moving here on great ships of metal that could move across the ocean with ease. One of the scattered remnants, composed of former industrial workers who mined the Gelel mineral, banded together to create this wandering tribe of Nomads. We move across this land, bowing to the will of Nature in turn for a semblance of the peace that we had once had across the ocean..."
Naruto listened to the story, his mouth slightly agape. He had heard similar stories of continent beyond this one during his studies of history, but they were believed by many scholars to be just stories, since oceanic travel was still a highly difficult and very dangerous.
Continuing her story, Keika had a drink before clearing her throat once more. "...Our clan were noted to be one of the more successful families charged with mining the Gelel mineral. It was during those years when the power of the mineral began to have a peculiar effect on the people working under it. Some deep earth miners whose exposure to raw mined Gelel was greatest began to experience waking visions and prophetic dreams, and were forced to retire by the governing officials due to the demoralising effects of their words..."
"...It was only after research into the mineral that it was discovered to, in certain cases, grant unusual powers to individuals when exposed at a pure level. This led to the royal family creating the Stone of Gelel, a highly concentrated but deeply purified source of power that they alone could tap into. Ever since those days, our clan has produced prophets and precognitive individuals due to our altered bloodline. Your scholars might call it a kekkai genkai, but to us it is a gift from the gods of our past. And as our people migrated here in the wake of the cataclysm, so did our clan of prophets, and we have continued to foretell the future ever since."
During the story Naruto ate the food offered to him and pondered the notion of the Gelel mineral. To him it seemed very similar to the ore used in creating chakra receptive shinobi weapons, a except this one was more receptive to chi or natural energy, and for it to grant such a power as precognition was unheard of up until now. He would have to look into it further, but for now he would listen, the way this revelation was going intrigued him.
After hearing her granddaughter finish the tale, Reikou spoke up. "Our clan has travelled with these our nomadic brethren for years now, and wherever we have stopped we have offered our services as fortune tellers and soothsayers to any who come seeking enlightenment. But in the most recent generations the gift granted by the Gelel mineral has begun to fade, Keika was the only of her generation to display the gift. I have trained her to control it, as my mother taught me. Tradition dictated that a disciple must first display a clear and genuine prophetic dream before they can be accepted by the tribe as a seer, and Keika's vision predicted you coming here."
"So what now?" Naruto asked politely.
"Now, Keika, if you would close off the tent. I need silence if I am to predict this young man's fortune accurately." Keika sprung to her feet and ran for the entrance to the tent. She noticed Jiraiya, about to enter in a search for a certain blonde, and apologised as she pushed him outside. "Sorry, but Grandma's about to perform a vision and she needs silence, so if you could wait outside that'd be great!"
The old shinobi protested, but on seeing Naruto sitting down relented and sat down by the cooking fire. Taking out what appeared to be a notebook, Jiraiya thought to himself 'I had intended to take Naruto to see her anyway, that was the purpose of this detour. But it seems I might not have been needed after all to guide him here, fate and destiny hold a peculiar pull over that boy. I wonder what he will learn in there. It certainly had an effect on me.'
A hungry young Jiraiya trudged through the rain, his sodden backpack and clothes heavy on his back. It had been three weeks since he had left Konoha on a training trip, and so far all he had been able to do was create one or two new jutsu using his hair as a medium. The purpose of this trip was to find his style, the trend of abilities that best suited him as a shinobi, or at least that was what Sarutobi-sensei had told him when he had suggested it. Tsunade had her research into new healing jutsu (that and her ridiculous strength), Orochimaru had those snake techniques, but so far all he had that was unique was some skill with seals and the Toton jutsu. Looking through the rain, salvation appeared before the traveller as he spied light in a clearing up ahead. Maybe the people here could help him?
He spent a week with the Nomads working to pay off their hospitality, and during that time he received a word into his future from a younger pregnant Reikou. She had told him that the key to his future as a shinobi and as a man lay in the toad land of Myobokuzan. He was to travel there and seek the Toad Sages, to learn from these learned masters. His time in that place would change him forever. So he made his way by foot, exposing himself to the diversity of other lands cultures and maturing as a man, and eventually came to train under Fukusaku.
Becoming a sage defined him more than his first time peeking on a woman (well almost). He had discovered his niche as a shinobi, which certainly helped his career as it was those skills that helped him live through the Second Shinobi War and his battle with Sanshouo no Hanzo of Amegakure. That battle earn't him both his rank as a jonin and his title as part of the Densetsu no Sannin with his former teammates. That and his time amongst the toads revealed his other job, to teach a student destined to save the world. Initially he had believed that student to be...well it was no matter, since he had passed away already. Looking at the tent, Jiraiya could only murmur "Be careful with what you learn kid."
Naruto did as he was instructed by Keika, sitting precisely opposite her grandmother who had closed her eyes in concentration. Opening his chakra sense Naruto could see a strange energy beginning to emanate from her spiritual core, and he knew that something was about to happen. Allowing his spiritual senses to recede, he steeled himself for what was to come, a revelation of his future. At that moment Reikou opened her eyes and Naruto was shocked to see a pale luminescence within those orbs, and an ethereal haze filled the tent.
"Uzumaki Naruto...son of Namikaze Minato and Uzumaki Kushina. For many years we have waited for your arrival, for many years we have perceived your fate upon this world. Yours is a destiny of particular importance, for your chain of fate is bound to the chains of all others. It is your destiny as the Chosen One to bring peace to the world, through salvation or destruction the choice will ultimately be yours. On your journey to this eventual fate, you shall face many tumultuous trials designed to test your will and mould you into the man you are meant to be. The sealing of the ninth tailed son of the demon was the first such trial, and it is one that shall continue onwards for longer than you may perceive..."
"...You are to become the trunk of a great tree of life, your roots drawing from many fountains of knowledge and wisdom to provide strength to the branches that bear those who you perceive to be precious, past, present and future. For it is under your patronage that the destinies of these precious beings shall be guided and preserved, but be warned for these branches shall be numerous in number and the charge of protecting them will enact a great toll upon your Will of Fire..."
"...It is your fate to face death many times, and though the nine fold may seem like the end it is purely the beginning. Beyond your destiny on this plane of creation, it is your ultimate role in the Grand Design to be an ultimate figure of unity. Striding the boundary between life which separates all, and death which joins us all, your soul shall be the bridge between many which have been separated since the Dawn of All Things. With a name alone, you shall connect so many that have been lost..."
"...Upon facing the end and beginning you shall become the traveller of an exodus, a focal point for many prophecies and hopes bound within separate threads of life. Restoring balance and unity shall be your task on this journey, and though it may seem long and the trials immeasurable, the baptism of pain never ending, trust in the light that guides you and you shall return enlightened..."
"...You shall journey through lands ravaged by Sin, divided my mortality and the very elements themselves. Mind, body and spirit each honed in their own field of reverence. Your soul shall be tempered into a weapon of great potency, the yin and yang of your being yours to wield like an angry god. Your eyes will witness war on many plains of battle even unto the coming of a Fourth Golden Age; your ears will hear the beating of the stream of Life which flows beneath Gaia. Fly in a ship of air, guard the penitent, burn like a star, all of these tales shall be yours to tell, but not alone. Remember these words Uzumaki Naruto, for these are the words of time and they are never false."
Naruto listened to the word as they sung within his mind, within his soul, Reikou's melody of revelation carrying a tone of incredible potency. Though much of what was revealed seemed strange to him, he knew that all of it was relevant and with this knowledge he burned what he heard into his memory as if it were a brand. With the verse over, the light faded from Reikou's eyes and she was left panting for breath. Keika handed her a drink which was happily accepted.
"That prophecy, Grandma it was different from the others wasn't it?" Keika asked, worry etched on her tattooed face.
"You are correct...Keika..." Reikou said between deep breaths. She turned to Naruto, a look of questioning curiosity in her eyes. "...You truly are a marvel my boy. I foretell the future, catching glimpses of events that will occur during people's lives. Some are small whilst others are inhuman in their grandiosity, but you were something else entirely. I received such a tremendous barrage of images unlike nothing I have seen before, so many strange and impossible things. You possess a destiny of dire potency, and I can only hope that my small glimpse into it can help you achieve it. Keika, I would like to rest now, please inform the others that I will take no more visitors today."
Keika nodded and gave Naruto a slightly stern look "Every time Grandma has a vision like this she takes longer and longer to recover. I am sorry but could you please leave now." Naruto felt his cheeks burn a little under the scrutiny, but smiled, rising and bowing to Reikou. "Arigato. You have given me a great deal to ponder about today, I hope you feel better after some rest."
The old woman inclined her head in thanks before allowing her doting granddaughter to take hold of her and guide her to a prepared bed. Naruto picked up his things and left the tent, walking by the seated Jiraiya who looked up from his scribbling at the blonde. "That seemed to take a while, are you okay?" he asked quietly.
"You brought me here to see that seer didn't you. That's why you insisted on the detour" Naruto said slowly.
"I did have a slight visit in mind yes. The same thing happened to me years ago, I had my future predicted and it helped me become a stronger person. I just thought since we were passing by, you could benefit from a similar visit" the sage answered, putting away his notebook and pencil.
"Thanks" was all Naruto said after a while. Jiraiya took that as their cue to leave and continue on their way to Kusa. The Nomad elder Kahiko offered the pair some hospitality, a place to stay and rest, but the sage politely refused stating their intention to arrive at Kusagakure within the next two days.
Naruto and Jiraiya continued on their way for the rest of the day, stopping late evening as planned to allow Naruto time to practice the Kuchiyose technique. He continued summoning small frogs, calling forth a small messenger toad called Kosuke. Jiraiya took advantage of the toad's specific role within his society and asked that he deliver a letter to 'them', which Kosuke agreed to do happily. Naruto ignored the cloak and daggers approach Jiraiya took to purloining the toad's services, and instead formulated a chakra equation for summoning a toad of Gama's size or larger.
After another days worth of travel, crossing the border between the two lands in the morning and reaching the Tenchi-kyo by afternoon. As they walked the pair exchanged stories about shinobi life in general, Jiraiya regaling Naruto with tales of the two Shinobi wars he had been involved in, Naruto telling of his last mission to Nami in greater detail at the sage's request. Another night of rest and technique training yielded great results for Naruto, as in a flourish of chakra he managed to summon both Gama and a larger toad by the name of Gamarikishi, who wore a large kesho-morashi (a decorated sumo loincloth similar to a kilt). Apparently the toad had not been summoned in a while and decided to stick around for the evening entertaining the travellers by wrestling with Gama. The larger toad won the majority of times.
After a while the bamboo forests the travellers moved through gave way to a large sweeping grass plain that seemed to go on as far as the horizon. Jiraiya told Naruto it was known as the Sabakuao or Green Desert, and that the village of Kusagkure was located on a particular plateau somewhere in the centre of it. With their destination close at hand the pair increased their speed and ran for the village, taking just a couple of hours after rising on the fourth day to reach the village. Needless to say Naruto felt his mind wander as to what it would be like meeting his obasan, so he left himself a little vulnerable to shock as he clapped eyes of the village's outer rim.
Kusagakure no Sato or the village Hidden in the Grass was named because, like all other shinobi villages it hid itself within a natural surrounding befitting its country of origin. In this instance, that meant an enormous hill the size of the Hokage Mountain which rose out of the plateau. Dug in buildings meant to serve as watch towers dotted the slope beside tree's and great wooden stakes. Towards the top of the great hill the top of a tower was visible, piercing through a canopy of trees. The pair paused to take in the sight and unable to resist himself Jiraiya said with a flourish "Welcome Naruto to Kusagakure!"
Finally! The damned deed is done, the chapter is finished! This last piece has taken me and age, much longer than I had anticipated but that's the way life goes I am afraid. Thanks to you all for the patience and great reviews, it really helps to spur one on after reading a clearly well thought out review I can tell you.
Now about the chapter. This is the second half to the Emissary of the Leaf chapter, which was posted in two parts after I felt it necessary to give you all a little something rather than making you wait all this time for the full deal. The chapter shall remain posted in two parts until I post the next chapter 'Reunion of Generations' (which in terms of deadline probably won't be finished until July...ish due to exams and so on). When the next chapter is up I will post this bit in full.
As for content, I promised that this section might show a spoiler filled preview of what's to come. The way I plan to end 'Part I' leads to a pretty exciting series of crossover stories before returning to the manga in 'Part II'. The vision of the future does highlight some of the places I am taking my Naruto if you care to read between the lines, but I refuse to officially say anything until the Chunin exams are over. That may be in the future, but the period of time between posting should eventually become more streamlined as I have started working on multiple chapters at a time. It's a bizarre way of doing things but when inspiration strikes I can move quicker this way.
Keep reading, fun times are ahead. Lysander45.