My first foray into Naruto fanfiction… well, at least I have an original idea. Be honest: how many of you saw the words "Naruto/God of War Crossover" and thought "Okay, I can't just walk away from that."?
At any rate, let me just state now that I got this idea long before God of War II was released, and since most of my ideas require Kratos having much better relationships with his fellow gods then he did in the game, this will be massively AU. I may provide an explanation for why they get along relatively well, provided I think of one. I will still be drawing on some of the events, monsters, and weapons from GoW II, but that also means there may be some spoilers for both games.
While my skill at writing romance is a bit suspect, I decided to make this another first for me: my first attempt at love triangles/harems.
Personally, I think this can only end in pain. Not for the characters, for the readers. Anyway, I reserve the right to change my mind if it looks like I can't pull off a convincing four-way romance. If I develop the relationships as I currently plan, Naruto will end up having a harem of three: Hinata, Ino, and Tenten. If I decide to simplify and do just one, Hinata will be the lucky one.
I suppose that covers the important stuff, so on with the story!Chosen of Olympus
Chapter One: A Champion's Beginning
Moonlight fell over a sleeping village. Illuminated in the pale light, Konoha slumbered on. A city at rest, peaceful and silent. It was not to last. Not one of the inhabitants were aware of the events that had been set into motion earlier that very day… events that would forever alter the future of the village, the Elemental Countries, and the world itself.
The moon was full and bright, and no clouds halted its luminescence over the clearing in the woods. Uzumaki Naruto sat there, reading a massive scroll by moonlight.
"Okay, just one measly jutsu, right? No problem! I'll be a genin by morning!" His eyes fell upon the first technique upon the Forbidden Scroll. "….Not more stupid clones!"
On the top floor of the tallest building of Konohakagure, the Hokage stirred. The last thing he remembered was working yet another late night, before his aged eyes beheld a blonde vision of loveliness that emptied his mind of all thought and his nose of much blood. Then everything had gone dark… Sarutobi chuckled quietly as he wiped the red stain from his face, knowing that, once again, the most infamous prankster in the village he was sworn to protect had "beaten" him. The boy's creativity was remarkable, but this was getting a bit old. Having the blood dry-cleaned from the traditional Hokage robes was not cheap, after all.
Odd, though, that the boy had left without bragging about his victory. Odder still, that he had launched this latest assault upon an old man's senses so late at night. Why would he come here when Sarutobi would most likely be asleep at home? But the greatest oddity of all was the fact that the cabinet in the corner of the room was sitting with the door slightly ajar. A minor thing, but no shinobi lasted to the age Sarutobi had without learning that paranoia is a valuable survival skill. He rose to check the contents of the cabinet, a sinking feeling reminding him of what was kept within.
Naruto once again formed the seal specified in the scroll. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" A soft pop, a puff of smoke, and a rather sickly replication was revealed. "Okay, making progress… at least this one can stand." He formed the seal again. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
"I want Naruto and the scroll found immediately! Bring both here, and remember, I will be the judge of how much force is necessary. If Naruto is unduly harmed, rest assured that I will not be lenient. I don't know why he took the Forbidden Scroll, but I am sure there is a reason behind this madness." Sarutobi looked over the gathered ninja, consisting of a team of ANBU and a half-dozen academy teachers. He singled out a pair of the latter. "Iruka, Mizuki, the two of you know him best. If either of you find him first, try to reason with him. I will search from here with the scrying stone. Now go, all of you."
Naruto smiled with pride as he surveyed his creations. Three perfect replicas stood with him in the clearing, all giving themselves a once-over, surprise at being whole apparent on their identical features. The three turned to their progenitor, their grins growing to match his own. As one, the four Narutos pumped their fists into the air. "One step closer to Hokage!"
Releasing the technique, Naruto turned to the scroll, still lying there on the ground. "Mizuki-sensei is late. Maybe I can learn a second technique while I'm waiting! They might even promote me straight to chuunin, or even jounin! And then I could boss Iruka-sensei around!" He unrolled the scroll further, until ten feet of parchment lay before him. Numerous techniques of incredible power were described within, but it was the two at the end that caught the young shinobi's attention. The second-to-last entry displayed a large and intricate seal, a spiral that seemed oddly familiar to Naruto, though he could not remember where he had seen it. The final passage, however, was stranger still. A flat plate of bronze, about six inches across and perfectly round, was set into the parchment of the scroll. Etched upon it were numerous characters in a language Naruto could not understand, set around the edge. The middle was taken up by a marking that resembled nothing so much as a horseshoe, with the rounded side at the top and the ends pointing down.
The text around the plate was in an archaic form, but as best he could understand it, it was words to the effect of:
If your need is great, and your soul is strong, pray for the aid of the Lord of War, Slayer of the Hydra, the Seeker of the Ultimate Weapon. Summon He-Who-Climbed-Out-of-Hades, Butcher of the Minoan Bulls, Gouger of the One Eye. Call upon the Ghost of Sparta, Savior of the City of Athena, Murderer of the Tyrant of Conflict. If your courage allows, spill your blood across the Omega, and give voice to the name Kratos, True God of War.
But be warned, mortal, for if your soul is found wanting and your cause is unworthy, you will be cast into the River Styx before you can say but a word.
"Huh. What does all that mean?" Naruto was cut off from further pondering by a voice from behind him.
"Naruto…Exactly what are you doing with that scroll? Do you realize how much trouble you've caused?!"
"Iruka-sensei! Look! I've figured out one of the jutsus! If I show you, I pass the extra credit test, right?" Iruka stared at his favorite student with wide eyes. Seeing the dismay on his teacher's face, Naruto began to realize that not all was as it should be. "…This is the extra credit test, right? Steal this scroll from the Hokage's office, and learn a jutsu from it? Mizuki-sensei described the scroll, I'm sure this is the one…"
"Mizuki told you all of this?! But why would…?" Another voice called out from the forest, this one filled with malice and dark glee.
"Oh, Iruka, you got here first? Too bad for you…"
Naruto crouched in the brush, staring horrorstruck at the scene before him. Iruka was wounded, the injuries inflicted by a traitorous comrade, all in the work of protecting Naruto. The child's mind was still reeling from the things he had learned in only the past few minutes. Mizuki was a traitor who wanted to kill Naruto and steal the scroll. Iruka acknowledged Naruto as a person and as a friend, and was willing to give his life to save Naruto's. And the biggest shock of all: the true fate of the Kyuubi no Kitsune, the fearsome beast that had nearly wiped Konoha off the map twelve years earlier. So much was explained now…
But that was something to dwell on later. Right now, Iruka needed help, or he was going to die. That was not an option.
Naruto leapt from his hiding spot in the middle of Muzuki's rant on how powerful the scroll would make him, interposing himself between the wounded teacher and the traitor. "You're not getting away with this! I'll stop you!"
"You?" Mizuki scoffed. "The dead-last? And how exactly are you planning to do that, demon? I could defeat a worthless fool like you in one blow."
Iruka struggled to stand up. "Naruto! Run, take the scroll, get out of here!"
Naruto, true to form, didn't listen. "One blow, huh?" He moved his hands into a seal. "Try this on for size. Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!"
"Did you really think a few clones would be enough to beat me? Even if you did learn how to make shadow clones, they're still only as strong as you are! Even ten weren't enough! You would need an army of them!"
Believing Naruto to be out of the fight for good, Mizuki turned to finish Iruka before making his escape. But as he raised his preferred weapon, a massive shuriken, Naruto awoke. Ignoring the searing pain in his chest and stomach, the deep wounds left by Mizuki's kunai bleeding freely, Naruto reached for the scroll beside him. He pushed it open. Once again he saw the strange metal plate and its warning, and the twelve-year-old boy made a decision.
His need was great, and while he wasn't sure how strong his soul was, saving Iruka-sensei was worth any risk. Besides, the punishment didn't sound so bad. Swimming down a river never hurt anybody, right?
Hand already soaked in his own blood, Naruto reached out and grabbed the plate. A patina of red coated the depressions on the bronze. Naruto looked upward, and shouted to the heavens with all the desperation that fueled him. "KRAAAAAAAATOOOOOOOOOOOS"
Both teachers turned to Naruto, wondering what that was all about. For a second, nothing happened. But just as Naruto began to despair, the bronze began to glow. It was soft at first, but it quickly grew into a white flash that obscured the vision of both the teachers and the Hokage, who had located the disturbance with his crystal ball just a few moments before. For them, it was merely a bright light, which died out after a few seconds. But within…
Naruto found himself floating in an endless void of white. He could see nothing in any direction, but suddenly he stopped moving and could feel ground beneath his feet. Whatever he was standing on had no visible difference form the rest of the emptiness, so Naruto seemed to be standing in thin air. A disconcerting feeling, to say the least.
The pain was gone. So were his wounds. The genin stared at his body, then at his surroundings. "Am I…dead?"
"If you were dead, you would be in the Underworld. I assure you that it is a far less pleasant place." The voice seemed to echo from everywhere and nowhere. It was deep, it was menacing, and it carried the conviction that everything it said either was true, or would be made true by force.
Naruto whipped around, seeking the voice's source. "Who-… where-… what are you?!"
"I am Kratos." With alarming suddenness, a pillar of flame shot up from the ground a short distance away. It disappeared almost as quickly as it had come, revealing a massive humanoid form. Naruto stared wide-eyed at the tremendous man before him. He stood tall, at least seven feet of solid muscle, and power seemed to flow off of him. The man, if that was what he was, wore only a ragged tabard around his waist, sandals, and armored greaves. His skin was a pale, ashen white, with the exception of a large red tattoo that spiraled around his left shoulder and over his bald head, to end over his left eye. Over his right eye was a long, disfiguring scar that ran vertically from his scalp, down through the eye socket, to end on the man's cheek. Naruto could see a pair of weapons sheathed at his back. The boy could not tell the nature of the weapons, as he could only see a pair of golden hilts above their bearer's shoulders.
He looked down at Naruto, and raised a hand to stroke his goatee in thought. As he did, the gold chains wrapped around his forearms clinked.
"One so young? Why would a youngling that has never even spilled another's blood have need to summon me? Bah, what a waste of my time. One so weak as you should never have summoned a God, boy. Since you are so young and foolhardy, I will forgive your impudence this once-"
"Hey!" Naruto shouted. Kratos paused, surprised that this whelp would dare interrupt him in the middle of being spared. "Stop talking like you know me! That scroll said that if I needed help, I should call you! I don't care who you say you are, my teacher is gonna die if I don't do something, and I'm not gonna let that happen! So either help me, or send me back so I can try and do something, you big jerk!"
The god's eyes narrowed. "Bold words, mortal. None have dared speak to me in such a manner since my ascension. But is your body as strong as your mouth?" Kratos swung at Naruto backhanded, a light bat by his standards. The full force of the blow caught Naruto in the chest, and he was blasted into the air like he had been shot from a cannon. He had no idea how far he flew, or how high he went. All he knew for certain was that landing was going to hurt. And he was right.
The young shinobi felt sore all over, but he seemed undamaged for the most part. Kratos had meant the blow merely to prove a point. Naruto raised his head, and all he could see of the being that had struck him was a tiny speck off in the distance of the void. He blinked, and opened his eyes to see sandaled feet just a few inches away. "What say you now, mortal?"
"There is a fine line between bravery and idiocy, whelp. You would do well to find it."
"Hey! Who do you think you are, goin' around judging people and calling them weak?! You watch, I'm gonna be the Hokage some day, and everybody will see how strong I am! Then you'll be sorry you insulted me!"
As the child continued to rant about how everyone who laughed at him would see how powerful he could be, Kratos studied him curiously. Hokage? Some sort of village leader then? So, he wants to be a hero to his people. The god snorted to himself quietly. Get in line, boy. What makes you so deserving of glory through the ages?
…Then again, how often do I encounter a mortal that shows no fear in the presence of a god? And to not only succeed in summoning me, but to survive the process, despite his age… Perhaps there is more to this fool then first appears. I suppose there is no harm in testing his soul. This decided, Kratos reached out and grabbed Naruto by the collar in mid-rant. Before the shinobi-hopeful could make so much as a shout of outrage, Kratos had raised him to his face, and the two locked eyes. As the saying goes, the eyes are the windows to the soul…
Images swam before Kratos as he delved in to the depths of the boy's soul. Images of pain, of sadness, of humiliation… of a growing determination to prove himself to those that hated him. Kratos had never seen one who could take such abuse for so long without snapping, either physically or mentally, and the god reluctantly found himself becoming impressed. Even childhood in Sparta is not so brutal as this. None of the other children in these visions were treated in this manner. What could be the reason… ah. I see.
Kratos stood in a dank passageway, water sloshing around his feet. The tunnel lead off into the darkness, and the Olympian immediately strode down it without hesitation. He soon found himself in a massive room, stretching upwards so high that the ceiling was lost in the darkness, and at the far end was a gate that took up the entire wall. And beyond the bars…
A pair of massive red eyes opened, peering at the first visitor to the seal since it had been formed. Serpentine silhouettes writhed in the blackness behind them. The Kyuubi had awoken. "Oh? I have guests? And who, pray tell, is so very kind as to visit the prisoner rotting away in this damnable cell?"
"A fox lord? And you, strongest of the Nine Great Demons, no less? This boy is interesting…"
"Apparently interesting enough to draw the attention of one of the Gods of Mount Olympus. And what brings the esteemed God of War to my humble abode?"
"Your vessel summoned me, hoping for my aid. I don't think he realizes what he was getting himself into, even now. But how did you come to be here?"
The fox's tails lashed angrily. "I attacked the village, and was about to raze it to the ground, when their leader attempted a suicidal attack. I was… overconfident, and have paid the price. The mortal sacrificed himself to the Death God, as they call such beings. Whether it was truly a servant of Hades, or something else entirely, I do not know. But my soul was removed from my corporeal form, and I was bound into an infant. The last thing I heard was the human that bound me giving his final instructions to someone. The child who bears this seal we are within was to be hailed as the hero of the city, for being my prison and warden. And I suppose this boy is now lauded for events he had no control over? Events that happened less than a day after his birth?"
"… Quite the opposite. I have read his soul, and this child has known greater suffering than many five times his age. The people of his village, with the exception of only a few, apparently believe him to be some sort of reincarnation or avatar of you, and that he will eventually try to finish your work. He has practically been psychologically tortured since his birth, and several attempts have been made on his life. His soul is so scarred, I am rather surprised that he has not broken by now."
"They believe he is actually me?… You are telling me they believe this child is a demon with power capable of challenging a god, and is planning to eventually kill them all… and yet they torment and harass him, thus ensuring that whenever he does snap they will be his first targets?"
"You don't need to remind me that mortals are foolish. The surprising part, however, is that he seeks the respect of those who have hurt him and their admittance that they were in the wrong, rather than revenge upon them. I would not be so forgiving. No one I know would be. " The chamber fell silent for a moment. Kratos was considering what he had learned of the boy, and contemplating a notion that had seemed ludicrous before his trip down the vessel's memory lane. The Kyuubi, brooding in his cell, was wondering how a mortal could have the resilience and brute stubbornness to live in the manner the god before him had described, and how he might best convince Kratos to destroy the seal.
Before the demon had come to any conclusions, Kratos made his decision. "If I were to offer you a deal, what would you say, fox?"
"I would ask the terms of the deal, of course. What am I to do, and more importantly, what is in it for me?"
"If you uphold your side of our bargain, I will call in a favor from Lord Hades. When this mortal dies and is sent to the Underworld, you will be released from the realm immediately, rather than spending the next few decades fighting your way out. On the other hand, betray our pact, and I will instead ask Lord Hades to intensify the scrutiny placed on you. It will take centuries to win free of his clutches, if you ever do."
"Interesting stakes, God of War. And my task? What is it I must do to complete this deal?"
"Listen well, demon lord…"
Naruto dropped from the God of War's grasp, and fell unceremoniously onto his butt. He glared up at the entity that towered over him, and yelled "Hey! What's the big idea, you-" But Kratos cut him off.
"Boy. You say you summoned me to save your teacher, correct?"
Naruto scrambled to his feet. "Aw, crap! I forgot Iruka-sensei! What if Mizuki-"
"How much does he mean to you?"
"What? Whaddaya mean?"
"Would you give your life to save him?"
"…Well, yeah! Of course I would! He got hurt trying to save me, so I can't just let him die!"
"Why is he so valuable to you? Why would you give your life for his?"
"… Sometimes… sometimes, when I'm with him, I wonder… if it's what it's like to have a father." Naruto had calmed down now, and was wearing a somber expression that only Iruka and the Hokage had ever managed to glimpse before. "He's the first person to really acknowledge me as a person. He's done so much for me, I need to return the favor somehow."
"…Then I shall accept the trade. In exchange for your life, I will save his. Stretch your arms out to the sides, boy, and the pact will be sealed."
Naruto hesitated. Give his life? He was going to die? But he couldn't keep his promise to be Hokage if he was dead… But he had said that he would save Iruka-sensei, and would give his life to do it. That promise was more important.
Naruto reached his arms out as he had been instructed. Kratos raised a hand above his head, gestured towards the sacrifice before him, and gave a piercing whistle that seemed to reverberate throughout the void. For a moment, nothing happened… but then, a pair of the most horrible creatures Naruto had ever seen appeared from nowhere and swept towards them.
The creatures' bodies were shaped vaguely like those of scrawny humans, but with taloned feet and leathery wings. They were frightening to the extreme, but the faces were the most terrible feature. They had heads that resembled human women, but with fanged maws, and their eyes glittered with malice. From each monster's talons dangled a chain, and hanging at the end of each was a weapon unlike anything Naruto had ever seen.
Short, wide blades, two feet long with a slight curve, a foot wide at the widest point, and at least an inch thick. Nasty looking barbs and jags ran along the edges, which were sharp on both sides. The guards resembled fanged skulls of strange beasts, and there was a glowing yellowish gem set in each. Though the weapons looked very heavy, the hilts were only long enough to be gripped in one hand each. "Accept the gift my harpies bring you, and take the first test."
Naruto had kept his arms out to the sides through all this, too shocked to even reach for a kunai, but before he could do so now the harpies released their burdens. The blades landed at Naruto's feet, but the chains seemed to change direction in midair. They wrapped around the shocked youth's forearms, and began to glow red hot. Pain unlike anything the Kyuubi vessel had ever felt before raced up his arms, burning, searing, immolating as a scream rose in his throat.
The pain faded, as did the glow. The sleeves of Naruto's jacket had burned away, leaving the chains wrapped around bare flesh. As he gasped, mind still reeling from the horrendous pain, he realized that the chains now appeared to have bonded with his skin. One loop of metal was bound around each forearm, and the rest of each chain was left dangling, leaving about ten feet of slack between his wrists and the weapons. Burns in chain-link patterns spiraled around his forearms where the chains had laid, but they faded into scars almost immediately. "Wha-what was that?!… Why… what about… what did you do to me?!"
"I have given you the blessing of the God of War, and the power to save the those you treasure. In surviving having the Blades of Chaos anchored to your body and soul, you have passed the first test."
"Test? Blades of what?! You said you were going to kill me and…"
"I said I would take your life, and I have done so. You are mine now, boy. You will bear my mark and my weapons, and you will spread my name in your victories… or die trying. Now go. Go forth in the name of Olympus. "
Before Naruto could say another word, there was a flash of light, and he found himself back in the forest. He was startled to see that no time seemed to have passed since he had summoned Kratos. Iruka was still alive, albeit wounded and barely conscious, and Mizuki still stood in a battle stance facing the prone teacher. Both had frozen, and were staring at Naruto, neither understanding what had just happened.
That was certainly understandable. The boy had been lying there, likely about to bleed to death. Then he yelled something, there was a flash of light that lasted about a second, and suddenly the near-dead dead-last was on his feet, chains around his arms, and a pair of bizarre weapons in his hands.
Naruto was even more confused, not having understood the events of the last few minutes in the slightest. All he was sure of was that the situation had changed, and no matter what else that meant, it meant that things had gotten a whole lot worse for Mizuki.
…Or at least things would be worse for Mizuki if Naruto had any idea whatsoever how to use the gigantic and rather unwieldy slabs of metal chained to his arms.
As this new problem struck him, Naruto realized that Mizuki was shaking off his shock, and would be ready to attack again. Even healed and with enough chakra left to create many more shadow clones, being weighed down by weapons he couldn't use or even drop would leave him at a major disadvantage. But then, from the back of his mind, he suddenly got an odd feeling, like he was being told what to do.
throw it… throw…
'Why would I do that?' Naruto wondered. These weren't exactly balanced for throwing the way kunai were, after all… but the feeling became more insistent, as the voice became stronger and clearer.Throw the blade at the traitor…
'Why do I have a voice in my head telling me to do stupid things? What good would throwing these things do?'
Because you have obviously gone insane as a result of meeting with a god. And because crazy humans always listen to the disembodied voices that tell them to do things. Now throw the damned weapon, flesh-sack.
'… Whatever you say, scary voice in my head.'
Mizuki sneered at the boy he had already nearly killed once. "I don't know what you just did, or where you got those, demon brat, but it doesn't make a… whoa!" Halfway through his dismissal of Naruto's miraculous recovery, the demon vessel hurled one of the massive weapons at him. The blade practically leapt from the boy's hand, moving much faster than one would expect, and the metal seemed to ignite in midair. The chain wrapped around the guard unraveled from Naruto's arm like a cable off a spool, as the flaming short sword thundered toward the traitorous teacher. Mizuki barely managed to clear its path before it impaled him, and in his stead it slammed into the trunk of an old tree and sank into the wood.
The two teachers and one student stared at the blade. A foot of metal had disappeared into the side of the tree. No academy student should have been able to throw something that heavy with that much force. Mizuki's gaze traveled back down the chain to Naruto, eyes wide. "Wha… what was that?!"
The response he got was the second blade being launched at his face. Mizuki wasn't sure he could get clear in time, so rather than dodge, he whipped his oversized shuriken in front of him, so as to use it as a shield. The blade slammed into the metal with a clang, and with a grunt of effort, Mizuki managed to deflect its remaining momentum upwards. The weapon disappeared among the leaves, leaving behind a massive gouge in the steel of the shuriken. Mizuki grinned coldly at Naruto. "Only a fool like you would try something so stupid as to…"
Whatever Mizuki was going to say, he was interrupted by a loud Creeeeaak…SNAP! Mizuki stopped speaking and looked straight up, at the source of the noise.
Ever notice that the expression "heads up" really means "whatever you do, don't look up"?
A tree branch, half-sheared off by the passage of the deflected blade, had collapsed under its own weight. In strict compliance with the laws of gravity, the errant foliage plummeted straight for the ground, with only Mizuki's head to stop its passage. It was not up to the task.
OOOOOOOOOOO One major concussion and a well-deserved graduation later OOOOOOOOOOO
Iruka stood at attention before the Hokage's desk. He had sent Naruto home to rest after all had been said and done, promising to bring both the Forbidden Scroll and the traitor who had tried to take it to the Hokage.
After being briefed about the events that led up to Naruto's theft of the scroll, Sarutobi had agreed that Naruto was to be cleared of punishment for the theft. If a student couldn't trust a teacher, then who could he trust?
Sarutobi was still rather concerned about the whole "belonging to a god" issue, though. Who could blame him? The old man sighed, feeling his years for the umpteenth time that day… and it was only two in the morning. "And you say the weapons are fused to his body? There is no way they could be removed?"
"Not without causing serious damage to his arms, Hokage-sama. I doubt even Tsunade-sama could remove them without causing irreparable damage. And while I know his story about how he got them sounds unbelievable, I don't know how else he could have found them. After all, there is a bloody handprint on the disk set in the scroll…"
"I suppose there's nothing that can be done about it. Unless these new developments become a threat to him or to the village, we will simply have to wait and see. At any rate, I agree with your decision to allow him to graduate. Learning the Shadow Clone technique in a bare few hours certainly suggests that he is capable of acting as a genin. Put him in a team as normal, and we will simply keep an eye on his progress. Oh…and one more thing…"
The old man smiled for the first time since the theft. "Get some sleep. You look like hell."
Naruto awoke bright and early the next morning. Still groggy from a long night with little sleep, he yawned as he raised an arm to rub the sleep from his eyes, and was entirely surprised to feel an unaccustomed weight on his arm, and to hear a soft clinking of metal on metal. His eyes shot open, and they followed the chain trailing across the floor to the twin blades left in the corner. Last night… it was all real… and… and that means… He glanced at the small table next to his bed, saw a Hitai-ate etched with the spiral of Hidden Leaf in place of his normal goggles, and let out a loud whoop of victory.
His elation was cut short by a second realization: What had happened after he had gone to sleep last night had happened too. As that thought solidified in his mind, a voice, dark and old and cunning, echoed in his head. Damn straight it happened, boy.
After falling asleep that night, Naruto had been tormented by strange visions. Some were familiar scenes from his own life. Looks of scorn and hatred, punctuated by the occasional beating, were played out before his eyes. But that wasn't what held his attention, he had learned long ago not to dwell on such things. No, what really had him confused were the visions he had never seen before in his life, and were of places and things that he had never heard of.
He saw a massive army, resplendent in bronze armor and marching under banners that had a triangle as the central image (though something seemed to suggest to him that the insignia was called a lambda).
He saw the same army being cut down like wheat before a scythe, iron discipline and perfectly honed skills not enough to counter the berserk ferocity displayed by the fur-clad barbarians that surged forward in a howling tide.
He saw the leader of the army fighting madly, slaying dozens of his foes even as his soldiers died around him. Spurring his horse ever onward, he continued his one-man charge against his enemies even as his army began to fall back.
Naruto watched in horrified fascination as the brave (or foolish) captain was met by his opposite number, the leader of the horde. The captain's sword, notched and dulled by long hours of use, was shattered by the barbarian's massive hammer, as was his shield. The chieftain's return swing caught his foe in the chest, and the man fell on his back, at the barbarian's mercy. As that enormous hammer was raised, Naruto finally saw the face of the man who had been leading the army. Bald head, goatee, even the same tattoo and distinctive scar. Though he looked younger and his flesh was a normal hue, it was clearly Kratos.
Even as Naruto wondered how someone who called himself a god could be beaten by a human, Kratos howled something in a language Naruto had never heard before, yet understood perfectly."Ares! Destroy my enemies, and my life is yours!"
The sky opened up, and a titanic figure dropped to earth, it's hair glowing like molten magma and hellfire burning in it's narrowed eyes. Kratos kneeled and bowed before the massive man, and Naruto watched as harpies appeared and gifted Kratos with weapons practically identical to those bound to the young shinobi.
The tide of visions ended, and Naruto found himself standing in what appeared to be a flooded service tunnel, concrete walls and dripping pipes everywhere. Cold, dark water sloshed ankle deep in the poorly lit passage. Confused as Naruto was, he decided he had nothing better to do but explore a bit. No sooner had he come to this conclusion then a harsh red glow began to emanate from some point off in the distance, down the hall.
"This way, brat. We have much to discuss."
Naruto blinked. It was the same voice he'd heard during the fight with Mizuki, but now it was far louder and much clearer. And it was coming from the same direction as… the… glow?
Naruto suddenly realized that he had followed the voice and the light back to their source without even noticing. The hall opened up into a massive room, hundreds of feet on each side and a ceiling that disappeared into the darkness above. At the far end the room, a row of pillars rose from the ankle-deep water on the floor. Chains led from the hall Naruto had just left along the walls of the chamber, and were woven among the pillars until they met in the middle, connected by a scrap of paper that had a single word inscribed on it: Seal. And as a massive form loomed out from the darkness, everything fell into place.
"So after nearly thirteen years, I finally meet my jailer face-to-face. Based on what the Olympian told me, you've had an interesting life, runt."
Naruto was frozen, not moving, not breathing, not blinking. If the creature before him were to be let out of its cage, it would stand at least as tall as the Hokage Monument overlooking the city. "…K-…K-… Kyuubi…"
"Oh, good. You aren't completely oblivious to the obvious. Now listen well, because you have much to learn, and I dislike repeating myself."
"…Much to learn? What the hell is going on?! Where are we?!"
"Quiet down, brat. Your questions will be answered in due time. As to where we are, this chamber is your mind's attempt to give recognizable form to something that has none, namely, the seal. Simply put, we are in your mind… which goes a long way towards explaining why it's so empty in here."
Naruto bristled at the insult, but before he could snap out a retort, the fox continued.
"You have been chosen to serve as the God of War's champion, and it is my task to ensure that you don't die too soon."
Whatever Naruto was going to say died on his lips at that point, as he stared wide-eyed up at the fox, once again rendered speechless.
"…Maybe I should start at the beginning."
"Yeah. That would be good. 'Cause I am getting really sick of not knowing what's going on!"
"Here's the simple version: When a mortal begs one of the Olympians for aid, they are in essence offering an exchange of services. If the god is willing to do what is asked of them, they will often give the mortal a task to accomplish or a price to pay. If a god decides to become a mortal's patron, they will give their favor and aid in exchange for a lifetime of devotion and service. Since you called Kratos, the God of War, and he accepted your terms, you are expected to spend your life moving from battle to battle, fighting and killing and letting everyone know who you serve in the process. Since you are planning to be a shinobi, you were going to be doing that for most of your life anyway, so this works out well for you. You understand so far?"
Naruto nodded, his face scrunched up in his 'thoughtful' expression. "I think, but what do you mean 'Olympians'?"
"The gods that live on Mount Olympus are collectively known as Olympians. There are many pantheons of entities that held sway over parts of the world at some point or another, such as the Asgardians, but most of them now prefer to have nothing to do with the mortal realm, for a variety of reasons too complex to bother explaining right now."
"You don't know why, do you?"
"Shut up. At any rate, no god has ever chosen a champion as young as you, and they most often are already seasoned warriors even before they are given their tasks. This puts you at a disadvantage. However, Kratos also struck a deal with me. I will act as your guide and mentor, and I will teach you how to use those magnificent weapons you have been provided with."
"You know how to use these things? And you're going to teach me? Wait, why would you do that? You're the Kyuubi, the most powerful demon ever, you tried to wipe out the village! Why would you help me?!"
"As I said, Kratos and I struck a deal. As it stood before, when you eventually died I would be cast into Hades with you, where we would separate and go to our judgement individually. It would be a long time before I could win free of that place, even with my great might. Now, though, assuming Kratos is satisfied with my performance, I will be allowed freedom immediately. And no, I don't know how to use 'those things'. I've never had much use for human weapons, and the Blades of Chaos are unlike any weapon made by mortal hands. I was told that a training manual would be made available to us, and by studying it, I will be able to guide you."
"Wait, I'm still confused. What's to stop you from just letting me die so you can leave?"
"That's why Kratos must be satisfied with what I teach you. If I give you poor advice and you die because of my neglect, Hades will tighten his grip on me and I will never escape, at least not for a very long time. On the other hand, if you die because you did something really stupid despite my warnings, or if you encounter a foe you just plain can't defeat, that's not my fault. Pretty much, if your death is either from natural causes, or if it's a glorious death, then I've done my job."
"…Uh… if you're in the seal, how are you going to teach me? Will I train in here, or something?"
"You see these chains on the walls? The Olympian added an element to the seal, that's what those represent. I will now be able to access your senses to see the world around you, and they allow me to project my thoughts in your mind. You can simply think a response back at me, no need to make anyone think you're talking to yourself. Through this, I can measure your progress and guide you while training. Now I think we've covered all of the important details, and the manual is to be delivered in the morning, so you need to get up early tomorrow. Get some sleep."
Naruto sat at his table, waiting for his breakfast ramen to finish boiling. Hs new weapons were on the table before him, as he studied them. He sighed as his gaze traveled from the point, down the edge, to the guard and its oddly-glowing jewel, and down the chain wrapped around the blade's base. As powerful as the Blades of Chaos obviously were, they were also bulky and difficult to carry. The blonde couldn't understand how anyone could use them effectively if the only alternatives were to constantly wield them or to drag them along the ground. It only served to prove his point as he went to take the ramen off the stove, and the hanging chain nearly knocked over the pot. A few drops of boiling water landed on his wrist, and Naruto cursed vehemently under his breath.
"My my, such language from one so young?" Naruto whipped around, instinctively reaching for a kunai. His apartment had been broken into before, and he wasn't about to be caught unawares again. "Quite inventive, though. I'll need to remember that one for the next time Dionysis throws a party. I take it you're Naruto?"
Naruto stared at the newcomer with wide eyes. A handsome young man had apparently appeared from nowhere, and currently seemed to be lounging in midair. A halo of fire ringed his head of curly golden hair, a wide smile played across his lips, and each of his gold-laced sandals had what looked to be a pair of tiny wings attached to the heel, flapping furiously. "Yeah… yeah, I'm Naruto. Who are you?!"
The stranger's smile grew wider. "I thought you'd never ask… Who am I? I am the Inventor of Fire, the Lord of Thieves, Patron of Travelers, son of Zeus, I am the Messenger of Olympus! I am Slayer of Argus, the Great Persuader, the Grand Trickster! You ask who I am? Hermes is my name," he ended with an almost mocking bow.
"Wow… you Olympian guys really like your titles, huh?"
To Naruto's surprise, the flying god threw his head back and laughed. "Kratos was right about you! You do have the perfect combination of self-confidence, bravery and stupidity. Maybe you're good champion material after all. Oh, and that reminds me why I came here to begin with. I believe this is yours." Hermes reached into his satchel, a simple leather bag marked with the embossed image of a snake curled around a staff, and pulled out a scroll. "Kratos asked me to deliver this. It contains instructions on how to use those blades properly, as well as a number of more advanced techniques. Only a few, though. More will be made available as you prove your skill and prowess."
"So with this, I can learn how to use these Chaos Blade things without cutting off any arms or legs?"
The winged messenger's smile took a turn for the nasty as he answered. "Oh, I assure you, if you use the Blades of Chaos properly, you'll be removing limbs… they just won't be yours."
"Um… well, that's good. I just wish I had a way to carry them easier. I don't have a sheath or anything, and the chains get in the way."
Hermes' smile dropped away into a look of surprise. "Kratos didn't… no, I suppose he wouldn't have. Sheathing the blades is simple. Didn't you see how Kratos stows his set of chained blades?"
Naruto put on his thoughtful face again as he tried to remember. "He… had them on his back, right?"
"Mm-hmm. But did you see any kind of harness or sling for them to hang from?"
"I'm guessing no?"
"Good guess. He doesn't need them. My step-brother Hephaestus made them that way. Just cross them over your back."
Naruto picked the Blades up off the table, watching as the chains spooled up his forearms. He raised the weapons over his head, and rested them against his shoulder blades. As they settled into a comfortable position, he felt the chains loosen and detach from the guards. For the first time since the Blades of Chaos had been grafted to his body, Naruto had full use of his arms again.
"Nice trick, isn't it? Hephaestus truly is the master of the forge. Now, here's one more to try. Ol' Limpy added something new to these he wanted me to tell you about."
"Another trick?" Naruto was getting excited now that he realized that his burdens weren't as unmanageable as he had feared. "Is it some awesome super technique, or something?"
"No, no, those are all in the scroll here. This is something else. Even hanging on your back, the Blades can still get in the way. For instance, they have a tendency to tear up whatever you're sleeping on, or maybe you wish to keep it a secret that you're armed. Anyway, what you need to do is draw a little of your own blood. Do as I do." Naruto mimicked Hermes as he raised both hands to his face, and bit down on both thumbs. Though the Olympian didn't bother piercing skin, Naruto did, and blood began to drip down his hands. The blonde then continued to ape Hermes' actions and drew his bleeding digits down his forearms, across the loops of chain. His only warning was the growing heat the chains and blades were emanating before he collapsed, writhing in agony, as a horrible burning spread across his arms and back.
I hope to have the entire bell test in the next chapter, so you can expect more action. Hopefully I'll get the next chapter done in less time then it took me to write this one, but it may still be two or three weeks. Of course, reviews give me greater incentive to work on this…
Until next time!