Based on a real book, names, appearances, circumstances and events have been changed to fit.
"Here's a story I hope you'll like, it's one about way back when the world began," a man with hair to white for his age proclaimed as he raised a flagon of beer high in the air.
"Oh shut up Jiraiya, we've heard this a million times," called a woman with traditional blonde hair from the bar.
"Oh but we like a good story in these parts," another man grinned as he took a long drag from a cigarette.
"Put that out will you, I won't abide by those things in this pub," the blonde snapped and she moved away from the counter and bustled into the back.
The one called Jiraiya gave a sigh, took a swig of beer and then leaned back in his chair ready to begin his tale. "Long ago when there was only land in the world it was dry and empty so the spirit of the land rose up and made a wish on a shooting star that he should have some comp'ny." Jiraiya took another drink.
"The stars shone bright that night and come morning the world was covered in water and so it came that the lord of the land met the lady of the ocean and she was a vision. Long flowing black hair curled in ringlets and strung from the root to tip with the finest pearls."
Jiraiya closed his eyes and smiled in content until the man who had been smoking elbowed him in the ribs. "Remember Jiraiya you're married so it's no use fantasising," the man gave a laugh.
"Just paying my respects is all," Jiraiya replied but he couldn't help glancing over his shoulder after his wife just in case. Service to the Goddess of Peace be damned for hell hath no fury like Tsunade scorned.
"Just get on with the story," another man called from another table as most of the pubs patrons has stopped to listen.
"Ah well, where was I, oh yes. Let's just say that the two of 'em went and enjoyed each others comp'ny," Jiraiya winked as most of the men gathered gave a laugh. "So there first son was born, dark hair like that of the holy mother herself, wild like her to for he took to the seas and was never seen on land again. So the Holy Father broke off part of the land and formed an island that was guided by the waves in search of their son. Oh but then there was the problem with the Holy Father gone the land no longer held together and so split into the continents of today.
"Unable to find 'is son the Holy Father made man from the earth and charged them with the responsibility of helping him find his son. So us sailors were born and it is our noble duty to always be on the look out for the Holy Prince who has yet never been found. So legend tells."
"So how did we get women then oh master story teller Jiraiya," one of the men called. Of course what Tsunade has said was true, they had all heard this story a million times from their father's and their father's father's before them but it would be one for the ages.
"On their travels and the Holy Father and the Holy Mother fearing that they should never see their son again took to each other once more and low twins were born. Both were girls with blonde hair like the Holy Father and with eyes bluer than the see. But they grew jealous of the attention that their parents paid to their older brother and begged their father for something with which to amuse themselves.
"So the Holy Father set to work again and build woman from the earth so as they might serve his daughters but man was dieing out as they could have no children. Hence the Holy Father commanded that woman serve man also so as that they might bare children who would help to find his missing son.
"But the sister's squabbled over whom should have the most servants the Holy Mother created the ritual, hey speaking of the ritual, you'll be taking it soon won't you Sakura?" Jiraiya turned in his seat to look at the young waitress who had just been serving out some more beers.
She looked at him with piercing emerald eyes and her long pink hair was pulled back away from her face. "Yes that's right," she gave a nod, "this year in fact. As both Ino and I and are sixteen though I can't see how it'll change my life any." With that said the girl named Sakura turned and left leaving a shock pub in her wake.
"That's odd," Jiraiya mumbled as he scratched the back of his head in confusion, "normally girls her age can't wait to take the ritual."
"Maybe she's just nervous or someth'n," the man who had spoken before suggested.
"Nah, there's always been something odd about that girl, ever since that mother o' 'ers showed up in the middle of the night after that big storm. Not a mark on her either like she hadn't taken the ritual and with that dark hair of us. Not natural I tell ya, not at all," Jiraiya mused taking another swig of his beer.
Hidden in a shadowed corner Sakura slumped, she knew she wasn't like the other girls, just because she didn't have naturally straight blonde hair and blue eyes she was apparently someone to be feared. She'd never really fitted into this little port town society. Her mother had explained to her, as best she could to a child of five, that her mother and father had been sailing when the ship got caught in a terrible storm. Her father had sent her mother and her away from the ship on a small boat in the direction of land and away from the storm. Sakura had never known her father, as he had never made it to safety as far she knew. Her mother had died when she was younger leaving her to be taken care of by Tsunade who gave her room and board in exchange for work. However Sakura always felt that she was kept at arms length.
"Sakura what are you doing there, it's a busy night and I'm going to need all the help I can get," Tsunade said as she walked past carrying a fresh round of beers.
"Coming," Sakura replied.
"Are you excited?"
The young blonde who had previous been twirling around the waiting room in the traditional white dress both girls were wearing stopped in surprise and nearly fell over. She blinked at Sakura in astonishment, "Well why not?"
"It's not like anything'll change for the better, I'll just have to get married and then have children and I'll never see anything of the world or the sea beyond this port town," Sakura replied sadly.
"But if you have any boys they'll be able to go to see to help look for the Holy Prince!" Ino protested, "There is no higher honour!"
"There is also no lower dream," Sakura spat.
"Where the hell did you come from?" Ino demanded glaring at her, "'cause you've got some really stupid ideas."
Just then the door opened and a pretty blonde girl with sky blue eyes came in. Her hair was cut short and she had the mark of the Goddess of Harmony on her clavicle, "Alright girls it's time, your first Miss Ino, if you could wait at the back Miss Sakura it'll be your turn soon."
Ino smirked and tossed her long blonde hair, it was customary for a girl who was preparing to take the ritual to not cut her hair in the six months leading up to the ritual date. The reason for this was the Goddess of Peace kept her hair long but the Goddess of Harmony cut hers short so as to be different from her twin. Hence if the Goddess of Harmony chose a girl to be in her service it was part of the ritual that her hair should be cut short. Ino then walked out of the room and the young priestess held the door open long enough for Sakura to follow through.
Sakura stood at the back and watched Ino walk up the isle, all the female members of Ino's family had gathered on one side of temple and where smiling at the blonde.
Once Ino had reached the alter the two high priestesses of both Goddesses stepped forward. Each carried a bowl of holy water blessed by each of their respective goddesses. Both priestesses then dipped small sponges into the blessed water and wiped the sponges over Ino's clavicle and forehead. A light shone from Ino's forehead as the mark of the Goddess of Peace tattooed itself there in black.
Ino then stood and bowed before the alter that had a carving of both twins on it. Finally she turned to her family and ran into the open arms of her smiling crying mother.
Sakura looked sadly at the empty side of the temple there would be no family waiting for her when her fate was sealed. With that final thought she began to long walk up to the alter. She could see Ino whispering in her mother's ear and suddenly Ino's mother's face took a sour turn. Sakura held her head up higher and squared her shoulders, she had never once been embarrassed by her mother or herself and she wouldn't start now.
She reached the alter and knelt as the two priestesses approached with freshly wet sponges and wiped her forehead and clavicle with the blessed water. It felt pleasantly cool against her heated skin but then things took a turn for the worse. The water got hot and Sakura pressed her hands to her forehead and clavicle. The water was burning her.
At last the burning stopped and Sakura looked up, her eyes shining with unshed tears of pain. The confused and frightened faces of the high priestesses gazed down at her in horror. Sakura turned to look at Ino and her family not understanding. It wasn't until Ino went pale and screeched, "She has no mark!" that Sakura realised the trouble she was now in.
Well...good or no?