Note: Again I am very sorry for the long time between updates. Situations beyond my control have made it difficult to get time to write.
Disclaimer: I own just about...nothing. Certainly not Naruto. Although I do own this story.
Chapter 12: Battle on the Bridge Finale,
Sakura thought for a moment. Muramasa? Masamune? She had heard these names in legend but she hadn't ever given them much thought. "They're legendary swords aren't they?" she asked, confused.
Haku tilted his head up, "Yes...and no." He paused for a moment and seemed to smile, "Muramasa and Masamune are known in legend as the two greatest sword smiths who ever lived. Or at least Masamune was." He tilted his head back down to look at Sakura, "In his time Masamune created thousands of blades, for samurai, shogun, even ninja. Anyone who needed a sword could acquire a masterful one from him, and his only price was that the buyer proved that he was worthy of holding such a blade."
Despite herself Sakura was curious. What was the purpose of this story? Why was Haku telling her this?
As though he had read her thoughts Haku replied, "Don't worry Sakura-chan, there is a purpose to this story." He continued, "Muramasa was Masamune's student, and a sword smith of considerable talent himself. As he grew more skilled however he grew more arrogant. He believed that he was superior to his master. One day he confronted his master, telling him that he was past his prime and that he himself had surpassed him as the greatest sword smith of the world." Haku sighed, "To prove it, he challenged his master to a contest. They would both take off for a week and create the greatest blade that they possibly could. At the end of the week they would meet at the bank of a river near Masamune's forge and test their blades."
Sakura shook her head in confusion. She still didn't see the point of this. But she patiently kept silent.
"Muramasa spent his seven days creating a terrible blade. He did not sleep. He did not eat. He only poured his soul into his blade, along with his hatred, pride, malice, and his will to destroy and dominate. At the end of his week he was rewarded with a midnight black katana, it's aura more evil then any sword before it. He returned to his master's forge, confident in his sword."
"At the river's bank, Masamune appeared with a simple white katana. It did not appear special in any way, unlike Muramasa's intricate designs and patters that he placed into his sword's blade and hilt. Muramasa declared that his sword was superior and to prove it he thrust his blade into the river. The destruction was terrible and magnificent. The river itself split in two, going off in opposite directions, repelled by the awesome force of Muramasa's blade. The water was dyed red from the blood of the fish who were sliced in two simply by the energy that surrounded the sword. Even the twigs and leaves that floated down the river were shredded. Nothing escaped the raw power of Muramasa's sword."
"The student declared that no blade could possibly be superior to his masterpiece as he pulled it from the river. Masamune gently slid his sword into the river. Nothing appeared to happen. Not even a ripple appeared in the water, and the fish swam right by the blade as though it didn't even exist. Muramasa laughed in glee at his master's blade. He believed that he had won."
Haku smiled, "It was then that a passing hermit walked by the river. In amazement he told the two that he had never seen such an amazing blade in his life. Muramasa believed he was speaking about his own sword and proudly extended his blade for the hermit to examine, however the old man ignored him and continued to Masamune. He asked the sword maker how he could create such a masterpiece. Muramasa was furious. He asked how a blade which did so little could be greater then his own, which had split the river itself. The man stated that though Muramasa's blade was impressive in it's power, it was uncontrollable and the only thing it was capable of was death and destruction. Masamune's blade was amazing because it would not cut the fish that passed by it, and it would not kill unless it needed to. Muramasa's sword killed everything around it, Masamune's was just as powerful, but it's power understood restraint."
"In his fury Muramasa attacked his master with his all-consuming blade. With a flick of his own blade, Masamune shattered his student's blade before it could cause any more destruction." Haku smiled to himself, "And that, Sakura-chan, is the story of the two great sword smiths. Now do you understand why I do not want to kill you?"
Sakura laid her head back on the concrete behind her, "Let me guess...you are Masamune right?"
Haku chuckled, "Me? No...I am just the old man by the river. No...if any of us have the right to be called the Masamune in our group it would be Naruto." Sakura raised an eyebrow in confusion and Haku continued, "For so many years Zabuza was lost in his own anger. He lived for destruction. Naruto saved him from that." The ice ninja paused for a moment and slowly a sad smile crept over his face. "I could never have done such things...all I am good for is sitting in judgment."
Sakura slowly shook her head. Again it all went back to the blond-haired boy, Naruto, "Who...is he?" she asked tentatively, "What is that boy's story?"
Haku smiled, "When this is all over...you should ask him yourself."
Sakura was shocked by this suggestion, "But...we are enemies...aren't we?" She didn't sound very sure of her own assessment.
Haku actually chuckled at this, "You didn't seem to mind so much when you met with him every day to train."
Sakura blushed, "H-How did you-"
"He's the only one who could have possibly taught you that mist clone technique. After all, he is the one who invented it."
Sakura didn't know what to think. She had assumed that the mist clones were something that came from Kirigakure. She had never thought that he had actually given her one of his own personal jutsu. She was sort of...touched. That wasn't the kind of thing that you just gave out to anyone. She also couldn't help but feel somewhat worried for the blonde-haired boy. What would his sensei do if he found out that Naruto had spent the last few days teaching her one of his own special jutsu?
Haku seemed to realize her worries, "Don't worry," he chuckled, "I won't tell if you don't."
Sakura glared at him. This person had, not a few minutes ago, attempted to kill Sasuke, and yet he was trying to act familiar with her now, as though they were old friends. She felt like she was supposed to be angry with this person, but somehow that was quickly becoming impossible. She was annoyed with herself.
Her annoyance was short-lived however.
Haku turned his head to Naruto's voice, concern etched onto his face. His attention was totally turned toward Naruto, leaving himself unprotected.
A flash of steel and a dull thud, and Haku coughed up a splatter of blood.
Zabuza froze in place, Tazuna the bridge builder on the ground directly below him. His sword was less then an inch from the terrified man's face. He recognized the timbre of urgency and fear in his student's voice, and it worried him. Something had to be genuinely wrong.
The Demon of the Hidden Mist raised his sword up and twisted towards where the voice had come from. There stood Naruto, but whatever he had been intending to say before seemed to have been forgotten.
The boy was staring off into space with a look of horror. Zabuza traced the path of his students vision and his breath caught in his throat.
The rotten Gennin who had offered to join him was standing up, seemingly unharmed. His kunai was buried in the back of Haku's neck. Zabuza watched in shock as the child slowly pulled back and Haku collapsed onto the ground.
Naruto's whole body shook. His vision was distorted, yet his ears seemed to take in everything ten times better then it had. He could hear every breath that Sakura took, every shift of Haku's body as it fell to the concrete, every tiny fluctuation of the wind through his hair. He could smell Haku's blood and his own sweat, and even the single tear that was welling up in his eye. Reality seemed to be clotting up, slowing down and bending into something unacceptable. It was like there were a million tiny strings in the air, twisting and tensing, waiting for some tiny vibration to break their all encompassing hold.
Then it broke, like a nuclear explosion the air burned red as Naruto screamed in fury to the heavens. The downed Gennin's bodies were flung to the side like leaves in a hurricane. Sakura clamped her hands to her ears and clenched her eyes tight as she felt the force of the energy blow her to the far side of the bridge.
Only Satsu stood his ground, a manic grin plastered on his face as he watched Naruto scream. This is what he existed for, to watch others in pain. He reveled in it, and now there was only one pain that he could possibly inflict that was stronger.
Naruto exploded forward, his body covered by a skintight red veil of energy and a single red fox tail whipping behind him. His claws reached for Satsu's neck, but they did not find their mark. Satsu dropped onto his back and swung his foot upward, toward Naruto's face, a small blade attached to the toe of his boot.
Satsu's eyes opened wide as Naruto caught his foot in midair, cutting open his own hand on the blade. The enraged Jinchuuriki twisted his prey's foot until he heard the sound of shattering bone and Satsu screamed.
Naruto reached down and gripped his hand around Satsu's neck, lifting him up into the air. Five trails of blood rolled down from the Gennin's neck, one from each of Naruto's claws.
Satsu let out a strangled laugh, "What...What awesome anger!" his eyes were glazed in insanity, "What awesome pain! Do you hate me? Do you want to kill m-ugh!"
Naruto's grip tightened and Satsu coughed up a small splash of blood onto the fox boy's face. "Fantastic!" the Gennin choked out, "Kill me then, I can't wait! But just remember that you are responsible for that guy's death too. I could never have done it if you hadn't have come in yelling and distracting him. I couldn't have done it without you, thanks for that comrade."
Satsu grinned manically and watched as tears welled up in Naruto's eyes, instantly evaporated by the heat of the fox energy that surrounded him. This grin froze itself on Satsu's face as Naruto plunged his free, clawed hand into his chest. The Jinchuuriki gripped something large and squishy, and snarled as he slammed his chakra into Satsu. Flame-like waves of energy cascaded over Satsu's figure, searing his skin and burning his hair away. Within moments the body was unrecognizable. With one final heave, Naruto tossed the burned and mangled corpse into the river. Satsu was dead.
Zabuza watched as his student, his caring and loving student who hated to see excessive violence so much, brutally murder the defenseless Gennin and discarded his body like it was so much trash.
"Naruto..." he spoke quietly, "What has happened to you?" As he spoke a second fox-like tail appeared behind Naruto. Someone had to stop him before he hurt himself or anyone else that he didn't want to.
"Naruto!" Zabuza called out again, louder this time. The fox-boy turned to glare at him. The Demon of the Hidden Mist plunged his guillotine sword into the ground beside him, "Bring it!"
At his beckoning the two-tailed Naruto exploded towards him, it's claws outstretched. An instant before it reached the rogue Jounin, Zabuza flickered out of existence. Naruto twisted his head around, trying to find where Zabuza had disappeared to.
Finally he heard a voice above him, "Suiton: Concussive Water Orbs Jutsu!" The beast turned his head up to see Zabuza in free-fall, with five orbs of water surrounding him, each about the size of a beach ball. One by one, each of the orbs fired themselves at Naruto.
The Jinchuuriki roared furiously and slammed his palms into the ground, causing five blasts of red-hot chakra to fire up out of the ground, intercepting the water blasts and turning them into vapor, and coating the entire bridge in a thick cloud of steam.
Sakura shivered in fear as she crawled her way over to Haku's body, the one closest to where she had landed. This cloud of demonic energy was still unbearable to stand in, though to her surprise she felt that it was easier then last time. Perhaps she was growing used to it, or perhaps her brief closeness to Naruto had changed something about how she perceived it. Whatever the reason it left her strong enough to pull herself over to the others.
She placed her fingers to Haku's neck and smiled. There was a pulse, a faint one but it meant that Haku wasn't dead yet. The nerves in Haku's spine had been damaged, but not more then what Ninja healing jutsu could fix. The only reason that he was even unconscious was because he had slammed his head into the concrete when Naruto's power had exploded outward with so much force.
Sakura smiled and pulled Haku's head into her lap as she tried to coax him awake. Somehow she knew that he was the only one who could safely snap Naruto out of his rage. She was too preoccupied with what she was doing to hear the quiet rustling behind her.
Naruto and Zabuza stood on the surface of the water below the bridge. Zabuza grimaced as he clutched his right arm, which was bleeding profusely. Zabuza certainly had skill and experience on his side and that had so far kept him alive, but Naruto had the advantage in speed and raw power. In spite of the danger of the situation, Zabuza couldn't help but be proud of his student. The moment that they had left the bridge behind, the ferocity of Naruto's attacks had increased dramatically. Somehow the boy had been forcing himself to hold his power back until the people around him were out of harm's way. Zabuza knew that Naruto became more violent and feral when the fox's chakra pushed it's way through, and with two tails in play it was amazing that some part of him was still able to keep himself under control. Unfortunately now was not the time for pride in his student. He had a job to do.
Naruto dashed forward, faster then any normal person should be able to see. Even Zabzua's trained eyes couldn't follow the fox's path. Thankfully he didn't need his eyes, as he had a much more useful advantage. He knew how Naruto fought. Zabuza waited, counting the seconds and looking for a sign. After a moment he smirked and slammed his foot into the water, sending a high pressure geyser of water into the attacking Jinchurriki's eyes.
Nartuo stumbled in shock. The water evaporated almost insantly after it reached his body but still for just a brief moment the fox-boy was blinded. This moment of shock was all that Zabuza needed to slam his elbow into Naruto's back and send him splashing into the water. Zabuza quickly ran his hands through a set of seals and whispered, "Suiton: Major Water Tornado Jutsu". For a moment nothing happened. Then, the water below Zabuza's feet slowly began to twist, accelerating until the sheer speed of the water caused it to slosh up and over Zabuza's feet, and yet still the Demon didn't stagger. After a moment, the water began to rise into the air, engulfing Momochi Zabuza and continuing up until the raging, twirling pillar of water rose over 100 feet into the air. Out of all of Zabuza's Suiton techniques, this one was the second greatest in terms of raw power, and certainly the most flashy. The major problem however was that it was only good when on top of a large body of water, and it took a long time to activate. He was working on overcoming these two problems.
Zabuza looked up into his twister, searching for his student. Normally it would be impossible to see something as small as a person within the enormous vortex but Zabuza smirked as he noticed a small ball of glowing red light that could only be the energy from the Kyuubi, spinning in large circles around the perimeter of the water pillar. That smirk soon became a frown however as the glowing red light rapidly grew. After a moment the red energy exploded outward, destroying the water tornado and sending water flying in all directions. Zabuza was flung backwards into the water.
Kiba's eyes opened wide as his face was drenched in water. He shakily rose to his feet and shook himself off like a dog, his head woozy from whatever it was that the ice ninja had done to knock him out. He slowly reached his hand up to feel around his neck and found an icey needle sticking into the area near his jugular. Angrily he ripped the needle out and immediately fell to one knee, having twisted a nerve in the process. Water dripped onto his face. Had it been raining before? He shook his head again and struggled onto his feet, looking around for his teammates.
His eyes automatically sought out Hinata, who was laying motionless on the ground. Worried, Kiba ran to her and lifted her limp body into his arms. Kiba cursed as he felt her strained breathing against his chest. Her forehead was sweating and although Kiba didn't have much of an experience with medical problems he thought that her forehead also felt warmer then usual, meaning that she had a fever. A moment later he realized why.
A wave of malevolence cascaded over Kiba and he broke out into a cold sweat. The dog ninja immediately recognized the feel of the energy, although he had only felt it once before and it had been much weaker then, it was still unmistakable. The demon boy, and he was way stronger now then he had been before. Kiba felt his muscles locking up and his head refused to turn to view the source, which he could tell was behind him and somewhere off the bridge. Every instinct in his body screamed at him to run, but at the same time fear seemed to paralyze him, rooting him to the spot. No wonder Hinata had fainted, she had always had a weak constitution.
Kiba's eyes narrowed as he realized what he was thinking. Hinata was in danger, she needed his help. Forcing himself against the paralyzing force of the fox's chakra he slowly rose to his feet, Hinata in his arms. The dog ninja took a deep breath and ran, as fast as his legs could carry him, to the end of the bridge. Too preoccupied with the downed Hyuuga that he failed to even see his own sensei's unconscious form, nor the mysterious absence of Hatake Kakashi's corpse.
Zabuza was flung back from the force of Naruto's shock-wave. He furiously blinked his eyes to try and force the water from them, and faster then any being has the right to move, Naruto appeared above him, reaching out and sinking his claws into Zabuza's chest. Naruto opened his mouth wide and seemed to suck in a deep breath, but Zabuza knew that it was more then that. There was a glowing red light in the back of the demon-boy's throat. A blast at this range would obliterate the ex-Mist Jounin.
A moment before Naruto fired off his demon-chakra blast, Zabuza swung his elbow up into Naruto's jaw, jamming the Jinchurriki's mouth shut and tilting it upward. A blinding flash of red light erupted through Naruto's clenched teeth, followed by a large trail of smoke, and the Jinchurriki's eyes rolled back in his head as he fell into the ocean.
Zabuza gracefully landed on the water and turned to watch the place where his student had fallen underneath. For a long while there was nothing, not even bubbles and Zabuza worried that he might have caused greater damage then he intended by causing Naruto's fox energy to detonate inside his mouth. Whenever Naruto had entered these states in the past he had never been effected by his own power, but on the other hand he had never transformed to this extent before, so there is really no way of predicting exactly what would happen. Just when the ex-Jounin was starting to consider diving to look for the Jinchurriki boy a soft red light began glowing beneath the water.
Naruto slowly reserfaced, water cascading off of his hunched form. His eyes glowed red both with fox energy and sheer anger, his lips curled back in a snarl, but Zabuza still smiled. One of Naruto's two tails had dissapeared. He was making progress.
Naruto tried to shake off the feelings of rage that seemed to saturate his heart and mind. Somewhere in the back of his mind he knew that attacking this man was the last thing that he wanted to do. Some part of his psyche was telling him that he needed to get back up to the bridge to tend to his teammate and brother figure, and that he was wasting time on this childish berzerker-like tantrum. But all of this was pushed into the back of his mind, taking second place to the knowledge that this man in front of him had just nearly killed him. He needed to vent his anger on this enemy.
Naruto slammed his palms into the water, sending a pair of fox chakra tendrils toward his sensei. A moment before the red reached him, the enemy dashed to the side and the tendrils followed him beneath the waves. Naruto watched as the enemy zig-zagged back and forth across the water, coming closer every moment as he dodged the attacking chakra claws. Naruto snarled as he realized that he wasn't going to be able to catch the lighting fast Jounin and retracted his claws. Immediately he had to raise his arms to defend from a roundhouse kick to the face.
Naruto and the enemy traded blows, Naruto mostly on the defence as the enemy attacked ferociously. Was it just him or was his sensei suddenly moving much faster? A moment ago he could see every move that the Jounin made as though they were coming in slow motion, now he was struggling to keep up. Either the enemy was somehow moving much faster, or he was moving slower. Naruto violently slashed his claws at his foe, who retaliated by grabbing the fox-boy's wrist and lifting him into the air before grabbing his neck and slamming him inot the water. Naruto growled and gripped onto the enemy's hands with his claws, drawing a large amount of blood. The enemy flinched and Naruto used the opportunity to kick his gut and send him flying across the water.
Zabuza quickly flipped back onto his feet and immediately was forced to defend against another attack from Naruto's blood-stained claws. Zabuza couldn't keep this up for long, he knew. Naruto was too fast, not giving him a chance to use any Jutsu, and physically they were a match. But in the end Naruto would outlast him. The Kyuubi energy would give him the stamina to run for days without needing any rest. The only chance Zabuza had was to use lethal force, which he certainly did not want to do...unless...
Zabuza kicked himself away from his attacker and mumbled to himself, "Maybe I can get some help from the inside?" He was never very good at trying to reach out to someone...Haku was always the one that snapped Naruto out of his Kyuubi form before...but it didn't look like he had much of a choice.
"Naruto!' The mist-ex-Jounin called. The Jinchuuriki froze and glared at him, "You have to stop this. What would Haku say if he saw you rampaging like this?" Naruto let out an earsplitting screech and charged him. "Remember Naruto! We have a job to finish!" he continued as he deflected his student's assault.
Naruto twisted his head violently to the side, looking back up to the top of the bridge, "No..." he growled out in a gravely voice, "No job...Gato lies...Gato's fault...Haku died...Gato's fault.........."Zabuza followed Naruto's eyes up to the bridge, and what he saw shocked him. However at the moment the problem that was the most pressing was his student. Naruto was facing away from him, totally ignoring him. This was the Jounin's chance.
Violently, Zabuza jammed his thumb into a specific place underneath Naruto's jaw. Naruto's body tensed up for a brief moment and then went limp. This effect was almost immediately undone however as energy returned to Nartuo's body and he lifted his head up to snarl at his sensei. Zabuza sighed in exasperation. The nerves that he had hit should have rendered Naruto unconscious for at least a half-hour, but it seemed like the regenerative powers of the Kyuubi was preventing that. Naruto slashed his claws towards Zabuza's face, the Jounin was faster, and caught Naruto's wrist with one hand, while picking him up by the scruff of his shirt with the other.
"NARUTO STOP THIS!" he screamed into his students face, "YOU PROMISED HAKU THAT YOU WOULD NEVER HURT AN INNOCENT PERSON! AND IF YOU CAN'T PROTECT THEM THEN THEY WILL GET HURT BECAUSE OF YOU! HAKU WOULDN'T WANT THIS!"
Naruto glared at him for a brief moment before the words seemed to register in his mind and his face fell. The red aura flickered and died and Naruto adopted a look of sadness, "I'm sorry Zabuza," he whispered with labored breath as the Kyuubi's influence left him totally, "Gato lied...there is no payment, and Tazuna is not who we were told he was...please protect everyone." And Naruto lost consciousness.
Zabuza nodded as he caught his student in his arms, "I will."
Arch Zell: How is Zabuza overpowered? He was equal to Kakashi in the original story and though he is slightly stronger here, the reason that he beat Kakashi so quickly was not because of power, it was because he used psycological warfare. He hit Kakashi mentally in the one place that it hurt the most and used the tiny window of opportunity to take him down. He is only slightly better then Kakashi, but he won easily because he exploited Kakashi's weakness.
Slayer End: At the end of this little confrontation, three people will be put into critical condition, Haku, Zabuza, and Sasuke, but only one of them will die. Kakashi is also dead yes, but then so was Garra after he was kidnapped by Akatsuki. Kakashi is dead yes, but not out of the game yet (not permanently at least).
Furry Cutter: What do you think about Haku's chances now? Why could Sakura not make Mist clones a lot? They are not like Shadow clones or Water clones, they take only a tiny amount of chakra, due to the fact that they only stay in existence for a brief moment.
BatsintheBellfry: Yes I do choose cruel places to end. It is fun!
King Hawkeye: I have never seen anyone kill Kakashi this early, but then for every fic I read there are thousands that I don't so what do I know? What did you think of the story? I embellished it a bit but basically it is the real story of Muramasa and Masamune taken straight out of Japanese legend.
Gray-Haze: I have no intentions of abandoning this story, and I am very sorry for not updating sooner. I love this story, but there has been a lot going on recently. And the computer got another virus (apparently the last one that I got destroyed the defences that we had so I had to wipe out everything on this computer and restart it totally, then put in new virus defences).