-Watches crowd with pitch forks, gun's, holy hand grenades, tanks, bazooka's, and banana's slowly approach-

Me: So you think their mad that I haven't updated in a while?

Conscience: -Holding pitchfork- Gee... you think?

-Is brutally attacked-

Semi-dead me: I'm Soooooo SOOOOOO sorry. To be honest, for the longest time I was thinking of merely giving up on the fiction, and honestly I don't think this chapter lives up to expectations... after all you've been waiting so, SO long for me to update. I'm going to try and keep this story going. And please don't kill me for taking so long. I really am sorry. It's just hard to write a story when you have no idea where it's going and no inspiration. (I have a pretty good idea where it's going now)

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A young girl hurried through the halls, her breath catching as her cloak billowed behind her lithe form, her hood flying backwards, revealing lovely golden tresses, kept together by a small ribbon, fastening the locks in place. The guard posted at the door of the large throne room allowed the girl in, opening the two locks placed on either side of the door.

The small blonde curtsied low before the throne, her head directed towards the figure lounged comfortably on the throne, her eyes keeping visible contact with the floor.

"Rise up, Ino. What news do you bring me?" Itachi asked, his tone bored.

Ino hesitated for a moment, although her news would bring happiness to the King, it would also bring anger, and no messenger wished to bring the wrath of a tyrant down upon themselves.

"Speak up woman, or are you wasting my time?" The raven drawled, his tone betraying his displeasure.

Clearing her throat, Ino began, praying to god that she would live to rely messages another day. "They have found the young man, my lord."

A small smile crossed the man lips, one that sent shivers down Ino's back. Itachi smiling was not a good thing. He was as likely to kill you while happy, as he was when angered, the man was a brute, an absolute evil, no wonder the realm was so tainted. 'Oh Sakura, you knew didn't you. That the boy you found was the only one that could restore us, and now we're lost.'

"Excellent. If that is all you are dismissed-" Itachi began, before Ino shook her head.

"That is not all my Lord." Ino said quietly, her voice nearly shaking with fear.

"Well, get on with it." The raven said impatiently.

"There was a change in your guards my Lord."

"A change... What kind of change?" He asked hesitantly.

"They are lighter in shade my Lord. Shades of Grey if you will."

"What?" Itachi growled, causing Ino to take a step back in fear. "Are you telling me my most trusted knights, Kisame, and Deidara have been 'lightened'?"

"Y-yes my Lord." Ino said, her whole body trembling. 'Oh Lord. He's going to kill me. They always kill the messenger. '

"Have them sent to me, we'll see if they remain so light in shade after I'm done with them, and have the boy sent to my chambers, chain him there and allow no one in until I come for him. Is that understood?" Itachi ground out.

Ino nodded frantically, "Yes my Lord, right away my Lord." She said with a deep curtsy rushing out the room as quickly as she could. 'I'm saved, I'm going to make it through unscathed. Oh thank you dear Lord.'

"Oh, and Ino."

The blonde stopped in her tracks, her hand began to shake as she turned around, "Yes my Lord?"

"Report to Sasori's quarter's afterwards. I heard he is in need of someone to relieve his stresses as of late." With a hand Itachi dismissed the blonde, all the blood rushing out of her cheeks.

Ino bowed one last time, her legs shaky, as she exited the room. Reaching the end of the corridor she finally collapsed, her eyes filling with tears, and her body trembling like mad. No one who ever went to Sasori's chamber's was ever the same again. Some survived, but were no less than mere mindless puppets. The one's that died were the lucky ones, only their body defiled. They were used in experiment, and for other heinous purposes. The man was a sadist, and what he did to those bodies, was nothing compared to what he did to the living.

A choked sob, followed by a heart broken wail, reached the throne room. Where Itachi said content, a grim smile widening over his lips. Ino was a headstrong young woman, hopefully Sasori would be able to make her into a better servant. One not so prone to expressing her opinions, one without that flicker of light.

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Naruto sat contently with his two captors, chatting amicably with Deidara, while Kisame watched with amusement. Within the first few hours of their journey the man feared by enemies and fellow knights alike had grown accustomed to the lithe blonde. Aside from the young man's beauty, he was without a doubt the most interesting character the knight had met in all his years. Cheerful, loud, conversational, and most of all radiant. The teen simply glowed with Purity.

"You mean you actually out ran a wolf, un?" Deidara asked, his eyes opening wide in shock.

Naruto's cerulean orb's twinkled with mischief. "Sure did. Showed him he's not the top predator in the forest."

Kisame grinned, allowing his sharpened teeth to appear, he had used his mouth to intimate numerous enemies before him. But when he smiled at the teen, instead of fear, he only received a luminous smile in return.

"K-knight's Kisame and Deidara?" A soft voice asked.

The two heads swivelled towards the sound of the voice. "Ahh Ino. What's your message?" Deidara asked amicably.

Deidara and Ino were so alike in appearance that much of the palace often joke about the two being sister and brother. It was a matter of great amusement to Deidara, who took the young blonde under his wing, even becoming as close to the girl as to consider her a sister. Growing up as an only child was hard on the artist, and he took great pleasure in finally having someone to share his secrets with.

Only when he looked closer at the teen did he see that something was very wrong with his adopted sister. Her eyes rimmed red, and her form trembling. "Ino?" Deidara asked hesitantly, getting to his feet, and slowly approaching the blonde.

Without delay the girl launched herself into the arms of her 'brother.' Tears spilling from her lids, soaking the young man's shirt. He soothingly patted her back, wrapping his arms around her to comfort. "Ino, what's wrong little one, un?" He asked softly, looking over to Kisame, as if asking for advice.

The large man merely shook his head, while Naruto watched in confusion and worry. Finally the blondes sobs quieted, and she composed herself enough to wipe away her tears on her sleeve, before steeling herself.

"You and Kisame are told to report to Lord Itachi, after chaining your capture in his chambers." Ino stated briskly, before turning to walk away.

Deidara quickly grabbed her arm, pulling her back to face him. "Is that all Ino?"

Her form trembled slightly, before she sadly shook her head. "No," she said, her voice scratchy, "That's not all. After I inform you of your tasks... I... I."

"Yes?" Deidara gently prompted.

"I am to report to Sasori's chambers." She finished.

All the blood withdrew from Deidara's face, even Kisame looked slightly appalled, and he himself was prone to taking limbs off his enemies for amusement. Both Ino and Deidara sank to the floor, both blonde's holding one another as sadness swept over them.

Naruto slowly got to his feet, his chains clinking together, as he approached the pair. "What's happening?" He asked Kisame.

The raven shook his head, and nodded towards the pair. "Ino has essentially been given a death sentence, if she's lucky that is. Which means Deidara is about to lose his little adopted sister."

Naruto frowned upon learning the news. "But why?"

Kisame looked at the innocent naive young man. "Because Itachi order's it."

At that Naruto pursed his full lips. "Well I don't know who this Itachi is, but you shouldn't have to listen to him. I say if you don't want to do what he says, then don't. Run away if you don't like what's happening."

At that Ino looked up from her place in Deidara's arms, "What?" She asked, her voice hoarse.

Naruto smiled down at her, "If you don't like what Itachi say's, run away. Escape from here and never look back."

"It could never work," she said hopelessly. "They'll notice I'm gone and send a search party after me."

"Not necessarily." Deidara said, his eyes once again, brightening. "If Itachi expects you to head to Sasori's chamber's right after reporting to Kisame and myself then he won't expect to hear from you for days, if at all. You could make it, un."

"But Deidara, there's no way I could survive out there. I have nothing, no money, no supplies. Nothing." She said with defeat in her voice.

"In the great Konoha forest, 4 hours travel by horse from here, and a hour from the stream, to the northwest there's a set of cave's, in the third cave behind three rocks there is clothing, as well as a few food supplies stocked there, you will find flint and canteen's for water as well." Naruto said, looking Ino in the eyes, and nodding.

"You can make it there by night. Take my horse, I'll join you by morning tomorrow. We'll get through this Ino. You and me together. I'll take care of you little sister. If I'm not there by mid day, leave on your own. Tell no one where you're going, it's safer that way, un."

"You'll come for me, right Deidara?" She asked softly.

"Forever and always buttercup, don't doubt it, un." He said, kissing her forehead, and handing over the reigns.

Ino mounted and looked back to her adopted brother, he was her only family, and the only man she cared for in this world. Smiling back she rode hard into the forest. Once Ino was out of sight Deidara stopped waving, before his shoulders slumped.

"We've been called to Itachi's throne. No doubt she told him the news about our cloaks. We're to be punished. He'll make an example of us. You shouldn't have told her that, with the beating we'll get there's no doubt you won't be able to make it." Kisame said.

"But that's what you wanted, wasn't it? She never would have left if she didn't think that you would come for her." Naruto spoke quietly.

Deidara raised his head. "You're a smart kid for growing up in a forest. You know that, un? Thank you."

Naruto merely nodded his head in acceptance. It was in his nature to want to help people. There was good within every person he believed, you only needed to search a little to find it.

"You still have a chance, run now and I'll look away. You can go to her." Kisame said, putting his hand on the blonde's shoulder.

"There's no chance, they'd notice if I was missing, and then there would be a chance that they could catch her. I can't risk that. She's all I have." The blonde remarked shaking his head.

Kisame nodded, understanding his blonde partner. After working together for so many years they had grown closer. Killing alongside one another, learning the other's tactics, being able to move together without a single word. Kisame had been Itachi's right hand man for the longest time, working with him to cut down their enemies and take over, while Deidara had worked with Sasori. If the rumours he had heard were true, Deidara had been on the end of Sasori's sadistic advances, long before the man lost the movement of his legs, and was confined to a single room within the castle. With Itachi finally King, and Sasori out of commission the two were paired together, unlikely partner's but highly effective. 'It's a shame it'll end so soon.' Kisame thought to himself.

Holding onto his prisoner by the chain's, Kisame began to walk towards his Lord's chambers. Naruto observed his surrounding's as he walked by portraits, many of which had the pictures torn out, blacked out, or burned. 'Something strange happened here.' The teen thought to himself as he faithfully followed behind the two men. Not as if he really had a choice. He was chained.

Upon reaching a two large wooden doors, the two guards stopped, knocking twice, stopping, knocking three times, stopping and finishing with one final knock. The doors slowly creeped open, and small brunette with short cropped hair, popped her head out.

"P-please, e-enter." She stuttered softly.

Her long dark grey cloak, shifted around her form, fur trimmed the edges. Kisame looked towards the girl before leading Naruto to an immense bed. There were shackles attached to the headboard, where Naruto was locked in. They gave him enough room to move comfortably around the bed. They were light, but extremely strong. There was no doubt in the blonde's mind that he would be unable to escape.

Kisame grabbed the teen's chin and looked him in the eye. "You're a good kid really, and I'm sorry that this had to happen. You understand how it is, right?" He asked.

Naruto tilted his head to the side, "I don't really understand, but it's alright." He said with a nod.

Kisame ruffled the teen's hair, before getting up from his kneeling position and heading towards the door. Deidara had await just outside the wooden blockade, the blonde popped his head into the room.

"Thank you Naruto, for everything. I wish you the best of luck, and I'm sorry that things had to end up this way, un." Deidara gave a strained smile, before turning and leaving with Kisame.

The brunette closed the door quietly. Putting the locks in place. Naruto looked at her appraisingly, she appeared to be very graceful, she moved like water, fluid, and subtly powerful. She didn't appear to be a bad person, if anything she looked to be a very nice girl. He wondered what could have happened to make her cloak such a grey. Naruto sat silently, for what seemed like days to the chatty blonde, but in truth was only a few hours.

"Hello. Who are you? I'm Naruto." He stated with a smile from his perch on the bed.

The brunette turned, and flushed, before turning back away from him. "I-I'm s-sorry, I'm n-not allowed t-to s-speak to pris-soners-s."

Naruto frowned, "And why's that? Talking has never hurt anyone. Come on, at least tell me your name?" He said with a grin.

Blushing profusely the lithe teen replied, "I'm H-hinata." She said softly.

"Well H-hinata. Where are we?"

Seeming to decide that it wouldn't do any harm to talk to the blonde the girl replied, "L-lord Itachi's c-chambers."

Naruto nodded, his brow furrowing as if in thought. "And why are you in here?"

Hinata lowered her head, while her hand grabbed her opposite wrist lightly. "I'm a p-personal s-servant. I k-keep watch over the d-doors, and p-provide the L-lord with whatever he s-should require."

"Why can't he just get it himself?" Naruto asked innocently.

Hinata appeared to be appalled, and slightly shocked. "H-he's the King. K-king's s-shouldn't h-have to do m-menial work." She stuttered, her breath catching. "I-I'm s-sorry, but I r-really s-shouldn't be t-talking to you."

"No. You shouldn't."

Hinata squeaked, before turning around, there in the doorway stood the imposing figure of Itachi, his eyes, red and livid. He gripped the girl by the shoulder before pushing her into an adjoining room, and slamming the door, before locking it in place.

"Stay there until I feel like dealing with you." He hissed.

Naruto's eyes widened, and he scrambled back on the bed, attempting to put as much distance as he could between himself and Itachi. The raven growled, before grabbing the blonde's ankle and tugging the body towards himself. Grabbing the teen's wrist, he pulled him closer, his other hand gripping the blonde by his silky flowing locks. His finger slipped through, his one hand exploring the structure of the blonde's face, finger slipping over, cheeks, and nudging the blonde's cherry lips with his thumb.

"Beautiful." He murmured.

Seemingly entranced the man, finally pulled his eyes away from the deep cerulean orbs that were wide in apprehension. Pulling away he left the teen, before turning to head into the other room.

"Please don't."

Itachi turned towards the angelic voice, confusion apparent. "What?" He said, his voice once again harsh.

"Please don't hurt her." Naruto said softly, his eyes pleading with Itachi.

"And why would I listen to you, pray tell?" The man gritted out.

"Because it's my fault. I forced her to talk to me. She said she couldn't and I pressed her."

A single eyebrow rose, before a smirk took its place. "So you would take her punishment for her?"

"Yes." The teen replied firmly.

The grin on Itachi's face grew wider." Very well. Hinata will take the punishment for the both of you."

Naruto let out a gasp, and a slight whimper was heard from the other side of the door. "I didn't want that!" Naruto said, his voice rising in a panic. He didn't want any harm to come to the polite girl.

"Exactly. How better to punish the both of you, then to do what neither wants?" Itachi turned to leave, his hand on the handle, while the teen struggled in his constraints, attempting to free himself enough to rescue the girl.

"Your evil." He said, his brow furrowing in anger, his eyes filling with unshed tears.

Itachi turned. "No one is truly evil, and no one truly good. There is a fine line between what is right and what is wrong, pet, the rest is merely Shades of Grey." Itachi said with a small smile. "Now rest up pet, you'll need your strength for tomorrow."

Itachi left the room, closing and locking the door. Naruto couldn't hear much through the wood doors, but muffled shouts, and timid squeaks. Soon the squeaks turned to screams of pain, and anguish. Naruto pulled against his bonds, but it was no use. He was unable to get free. Forced to listen to the cries for help, but unable to act. Tears streamed down tan cheeks, as the teen eventually cried himself to sleep, after the screams had died down.

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A dark figure sneaked past the castle guards, creeping through the dimly lit stone corridors. Black cloak sweeping as the figure, smoothly moved past the guards, dozing lightly at their posts. Approaching the stables the figure caught the attention of a black stallion, tempting the creature close until the reigns were grasped and a saddle fixed onto the magnificent beast. Off into the night the figure rode, past the lively forest, echoing with the mournful noises of the night creatures. Through the thicket a small stone building was barely visible. The beast halted, with a simple tug of the reigns, before the graceful figure, glided down from the steed. Tying the beast off on a tree before approaching the building.

All at once four figures moved from their hidden spots within the trees to stop the approach. Lifting out a single sheet of paper, the figure was allowed to pass, guards nodding their approval. Sweeping through the solid wooden doors, the figure descended deeper into the dark palace, cloaking billowing behind. A building built underground to withstand most attacks, a stronghold of sorts. Deeper and deeper the figure went, to where natural light no longer existed, until a large throne room appeared. Moving into the room, with the grace of a feline the figure stopped before a large ornately decorated throne. Stooping to one knee the figure lowered their head.

"My Lord." The figure said.

"Rise up." The dark figure upon the throne said, with a flick of an index finger. "What have you discovered?"

"The young man has been discovered, and is being kept by Itachi within his chambers. He is locked and chained within the room. But as of yet has not broken, Shikamaru is being brought in to learn what makes the child tick. I have no doubt that he will succeed in his task."

"Don't be so sure. There are many things we do not know as of yet, we shall not move until we know all the circumstances, and what we're up against. Do I make myself clear?"

"Crystal, my Lord."

"Continue observing, and report back to me your findings. Such a loyal follower shall earn a high place within my realm when my plans come to fruitation."

"Yes my Lord."

"You are dismissed." The regal figure said with a flick of the wrist.

The dark cloaked figure vanished from the room, as silently as they had entered. While the figure within the room sat silently. Hands poised lightly over their lap.

"It's only a matter of time now. Finally after all these years, I shall have my justice, and win my prize." The figure began to laugh silently, the noise growing loud and deeper until it reached a crescendo, maniacal laughter echoing through the dark halls, and chambers, following the rider out of the grounds, and back into the deep of the forest.

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Me: I hope you guys liked it. I'm sorry it took me so long to update. I really wasn't feeling the story for the longest time.

Please review? Was it worth the wait? (doubtful), what do you like? Dislike? After all its been almost two years since I first posted the story, has my style changed, do you dislike the way the fiction is heading? Can you tell where the fiction is heading? Anything you want to say really would be appreciated.