Oh snap, I'm on a roll tonight baby! Not really, I've just had these lying around.

Cutting the Deck

Chapter 5

Towels and Cats, Towels and Cats

Yuugao had learned several lessons over the years

Yuugao had learned several lessons over the years. She's learned that an idiot with a sword is a dangerous idiot and that underestimating someone can lead to several bad outcomes.

She'd also learned that you can learn a lot about a person by watching them when they are bored. Contrary to what some people might say, watching a person lean lazily against a wall can provide more information than fighting them outright. That doesn't necessarily mean it will always be useful information.

For instance, she was at the moment observing her team. The way they sat in boredom while waiting for their late client told a lot about them.

Harumi didn't give much away at first but at a second glance she allowed you to make several guesses about her. For one, you could conclude by her rigid posture that she was upset at having to waiting so long for their client, but she held her emotions closer than others. You could also guess she was the most reasonable and conservative of the trio, being that she was the only one actually sitting.

Naruto had taken to trying to make a smiley face out of cards on a tree. He had curiosity that left cats teary-eyed with envy and even though said curiosity didn't always lead down constructive paths. He had long since sealed away all their possessions (except Yuugao's, who did that herself) for easier transport. He also seemed a bit more nervous than the other two, though it didn't seem to be about the mission. If anything, he looked like someone who knew something but wasn't sure of its credibility.

Aya was the easiest though, by far. She paced back and forth, her hands at her side. She was constantly clenching them into fists. She ground her teeth and a small twitch was in her right eye that had nothing to do with a botched Lightning jutsu.

Put simple, she was pissed.

Yuugao had concluded long ago that Aya was someone who needed to be distracted or doing something. A bored Aya was a bad Aya. Naruto was the same way, but he always carried some scroll or book about sealing. Aya was different though. She wasn't much for reading, as Yuugao learned when she gave the girl her first scroll with a few jutsu on it.

None were particularly powerful, but most were ones that would compliment her Taijutsu rather nicely. Each jutsu had the name, the hand seals, how to channel the chakra and a few notes of importance about the jutsu (basically the dos and don'ts). Aya, it appeared, had skipped the notes and ended up with nice black highlights and an important lesson. Not to mention discovering the girl's peculiar lightning affinity.

She was impatient, plain and simple. Yuugao ran through a few things in her head that would distract the girl. Chakra training was the best idea but that wasn't going to happen during a mission, no matter what the rank. Another possibility was going through hand seals for a jutsu.

Not very promising choices. 'I guess jutsu hand seals it is…' Yuugao paused, being struck with brilliance. 'Well…'

She reached in to her belt pouch, which she kept several things in. A few poisons, wire, extra explosive notes, etc. etc. Only one real thing of any sentimental value was in the pouch though. It was a large coin that her sensei picked up from some obscure place on one of his infamous "training vacations" and it was only there as it was almost ceremonial that she kept it in her belt pouch. She withdrew it and took a long hard look at the strange grooves, feeling it with her thumb.

'It worked for Funn and his mild ADD,' She flipped it once for good measure. 'Now to…'

She glanced at the sun, discreetly repositioning herself.

She let the coin rest on her thumb. She then let it casually 'roll' down her fingers. The sun glinted against the coin directly into Aya's face. The girl blinked with confusion while Yuugao repositioned the coin again with her thumb. Aya was soon leaning over her sensei, paying attention to the 'dancing' coin.

"Can I do something for you?" Yuugao asked blandly, not even looking at the girl.

"How do you that?" She said motioning towards the coin.

The violet haired woman resisted the urge to smirk and say "Hook, line and sinker".

Naruto had realized something on the road, escorting their employer. C-ranks were boring as hell. D-ranks more so, but they were quick. The C-rank dragged on and on.

It had at first been amusing to watch Turo continuously apologize for being late while simultaneously trying to avoid actually saying why he was. He and Naruto had nodded to each other, the message was understood. You don't say anything and I won't.

At the beginning of the trip, he had marveled at his surroundings, as he had never really been out of the village all that much. There wasn't much to see. It was more or less the same, trees, trees and more trees.

Then the boredom set in. He shuffled cards a little, but that didn't do much. He tried to read a little but that grew annoying, as Yuugao wanted him to be alert. He then opted to see how long he could walk on his hands. He could do it fairly long it appeared but even that grew boring, not to mention Yuugao's glances that had gave him a feeling he would regret it if he kept it up.

Missions were serious business.

He had never thought he would think something like this before, but he honestly hoped someone put a small bounty on Turo. Nothing too big mind you, maybe a little one because Turo had bothered somebody a little too much. Just a few thugs or mercenaries.

Was that so much to ask? Just a few people after his client's life isn't so hard, right?

Sadly, no. Turo was too friendly of a guy and while strange, he wasn't particularly hateable.

So in the end he had to dwell on some sealing ideas he had. He was more of a hands on person however so that wasn't the most interesting course of action. And that's how Naruto ended up asking questions.

"So where are we going exactly?" Naruto asked, not wholly interested.

"Well…" Turo withdrew a small map and quickly unfolded it. "We are gonna have to go through northern River, which is mostly wetlands, and across the Wind's border. Pretty close to where Rain, Wind, and River come together actually."

Naruto nodded absently.

"Though, I admit I'm more interested in our special guests."

The four Konoha-nin blinked.

"Guests?" Questioned Yuugao.

"Oh…" Turo cringed slightly. "You don't know about Wind's policy."

"Wind's policy?" The three, younger members of the group sounded back in not-exact unison.

"Well, technically Wind's, but really its Sunakagure's." Turo seemed to go into a lecture mode. "Due to Suna's economic issues, the Kazekage has moved in a few processes and procedures to bring more currency into Suna. Wind's been neglecting them so they have to resort to bureaucratic bull to inch out a profit. Won't keep up though, as a lot of Suna's supporters are taking heat in the capitol and are being pushed out of their positions by oth-"

"Get to the point old ma-OW!" Naruto's little outburst was interrupted by the blunt end of a kunai smacking his head. He began rubbing the spot and looking accusingly at Yuugao.

Before he could question Yuugao answered, "Respect the client; please go on Mr. Motou."

"Oh well…" He recalled where his explanation left off. "Oh well, yes. One of those little things the Kazekage slipped in was a little document that basically said "If you're going to dig or excavate in Wind Country, you're going to have some extra body guards"."

"Suna-nin?" Yuugao asked with a brow raised.

"Yes, not sure how many though. When applying for the dig site you have to pay extra for the "required" body guards." He made the quotation motion with his hands.

"Uh…" Aya raised her hand in a question. "Why do you need us then?"

"I need an escort of course." He said rather matter-of-factly, but the edges of his small smile seemed a bit forced.

"You hired us for the whole of two months Mr. Motou, and it takes much less than that to reach our destination." Yuugao replied in her own usual matter-of-fact tone.

The man frowned. He pulled his cap down to cover his forehead a little more.

"To be honest…" He licked his chapped lips. "I don't trust Suna-nin at the moment."

While Yuugao herself couldn't say that she wasn't a little paranoid and understood this, the three genin were a little confused. What would a civilian without a nationality have to concern himself over when it came to Sunagakure?

"You're no doubt wondering 'Why?'. Well quite simply," He held out his hands. "They are between a rock…"

He hefted one hand, symbolizing a rock.

"…and a hard place." He presented the other hand. "And when a ninja village is in that situation, they aren't to be trusted."

Yuugao blinked at the astounding insight into the ninja culture the man possessed. This was, by all rights, completely true. Konoha itself had shied away from Suna as of late, not cutting ties but keeping them at arm's length. Desperate ninja were more dangerous than most people considered.

The genin worked through it in their own way. Aya pretty much went back to her little coin dancing while in contemplation. Harumi worked on it silently, but Naruto was a bit different.

"Why?" was his innocent question.

"Well, Mr. Uzumaki." The girls briefly paused at the peculiar moniker. "Ninja's aren't always blessed with enemies that they can just assassinate. Some are a bit too powerful and subtle, and not in the S-Class way. A ninja can lend itself to politics, but professional killers don't have the time to master the art of underhanded politics."


"So, if they have a Daimyo that has a grudge against them for some silly squabble in the last war that ended with him losing some face, say like Suna does..." He cringed slightly. "It's not very good, for them atleast."

Yuugao's eyebrows knitted together slightly. She didn't have the slightest idea
that was the reason for Suna's predicament and she had blindly accepted that it was just another fact that needed to be handled and dealt with.

"Why can't the kage just reason with him?"

"Considering that it was that same Kazekage who embarrassed him before they obtained their current position? I doubt he would be able to do much without seeming like an utter fool. In his defense, at the time, his move against the other man was sound and his appointment as Daimyo was… well…" Turo seemed to spend a lot of time searching for the right word. "Unexpected."

Naruto's stream of questions seemed to go along the lines of "What?" and "Why?".

"Well…" Turo cringed. "That's a really long story as in really long and involving two waitresses, a Suna genin team and a dog named Sukippu, to name a few."

Four heads turned to him simultaneously. He at first seemed a little put off, but he did always have a passion for teaching and it's not often he finds himself lecturing ninja.

"Ok, first of all, you've got to understand that there are some holes in this story that are filled with the most logical conclusions. But basically the most important moral of this tale is quite simply, don't off kunoichi-turned-geisha…"


"Yea, Harumi?"

"What are you doing?"

"Trying to make this leaf into an explosive note."


"Because it would be cool."

"And why exactly is making an explosive leaf cool?" Harumi was filled with questions on this strange concept.

"Because who would see an exploding leaf coming?" Naruto answered her question with a question. After a moment of silence. "No one, that's who."

"Sound reasoning," Their sensei sounded from the side of the room. They were in one of the cheap inns that littered the roads of the Elemental Countries. Naruto, true to form, was painting an extremely small explosive seal onto a tiny leaf from one of the trees that populated the area of River Country they were in. It didn't seem to be going to well though, as the smaller he tried to make it, the harder it got. "Harumi, if there is one thing you should take away from Team 3, it is a proper appreciation for explosions."

The three students turned to the master. All of them were seated, absorbed with various pre-sleep activities.

"I never figured you for the pyromaniac type, sensei." Aya mused out loud, still paying attention to the coin rolling down her fingers.

"In our line of work, anything can be an asset, a tool to be used."

"Isn't that Shinobi Rule…?" Aya, after a moment, turned to Harumi for assistance.


"Yea, #65."

"Those Shinobi rules are less rules and more…"

"Helpful guidelines." Naruto added from the corner, not looking up. If anyone understood the malleability of rules, it was Naruto.

"Correct," A faint smile crested on Yuugao's lips. "They do hit on some good points though."

"Bah, they forgot the most important rule of them all though," Naruto mumbled from the side, hints of gruffness in his voice.

It's not often that Naruto preoccupies three women and an old perverted man with a single statement but it's very hard to come up with what exactly Naruto would consider to be "the most important rule of them all". This lead to a logical maneuver on Yuugao's part.

"And that would be…?"

Naruto looked at Yuugao for a moment, as if she had just made a small pun or joke. It quickly dawned on him that, no, Yuugao wasn't joking. She really didn't know.

"You…" He seemed somewhat perplexed by the whole situation. "You… don't know where your towel is?"

The women-folk were utterly baffled by this statement. Turo, on the other hand, quickly rushed to his pack and returned with a red towel. Naruto nodded, ceremonially. He didn't seem the least bit freaked out by the fact that someone had just withdrew a towel and presented it like some ancient artifact.

He rolled up his sleeve, revealing yet another seal on his arm. One bite, a trickle of blood, and a smear later and a pure white towel was in his hand. The towel was, much like everything Naruto owned, plastered with seals.

"Oh, nice one."

"Yea, I got some connections who know how to sew."

"Reinforcing seals?"

"Oh yea, and one for quick drying."

"Oh, I didn't think of that."

"Well, that's no problem. I can throw one on yours."

Before the ramblings of the two towel-enthusiasts could continue, Yuugao intervened.

"Stop." Yuugao was someone who was not easily disturbed. She had killed people, some even younger than her own students. She had seen the Kyuubi rip people apart and survived eight years of ANBU. Heck, not just survived, but flourished. These two speaking calmly about towels had shook something in her that hadn't been shaken in quite some time.

She was weirded the hell out.

"Explanation." Her voice didn't insist or request. It commanded.

"Well, the most important rule is simply 'Know where your towel is'," Turo nodded to himself, to which Naruto whole heartedly agreed with.

"Uhhh… why?" It was Aya's turn to ask a question. The coin lay still.

"Because towels are some of the most useful objects in the world!" Naruto said rather enthusiastically. "Like if you get a cut, you can use it to wipe away blood."

"Or you could wet it and wrap it around your head in the desert," Turo sounded right back much like a connoisseur would. A connoisseur of towels that is.

"It's perfect for cleaning up messes in sealing." Three heads turned to Naruto.

"And for wiping away dirt and sand from ancient ruins." Now they spun to Turo.

"And for bandages or some sort of sling." To Naruto.

"And you definitely can't forget fending off those wildcats in Lightning Country!" To Turo.

"Need a gag for someone?" Naruto.

"How about a pillow?" Turo.

"Great for traps, who would suspect a towel as bait?"

"Enough," Yuugao's voice took on a dangerous edge. Not loud, or forceful but sleek in a sense. Sleek, but dangerous none-the-less. "We never speak of this again. Am I clear?"

She stood, and even though Turo was nearly the same height as her, she towered over him. Naruto had inched back, leaving Turo frozen in place.

They both realized she was waiting for some manner of response, to that, they both quickly nodded.

Yuugao motioned for the girls to make their exit and exit they did.

The dark hung in the girl's room like a curtain. A quiet voice sounded.


"Yes, Aya."

"S-some of t-those made…sense," She said the last word as if she had just drunken sour milk.

"…I know." The sound of a body shuffling into a more comfortable position was heard by the two younger occupants of the room. "It scares me too."

Toko Hitofuki was having a nice relaxing day. Just the way he liked it. Though truthfully, it didn't take much for him to classify a day as "nice" and "relaxing". He counted the day he was promoted to Chuunin as "nice" and "relaxing" even though he had to defeat three opponents and was defeated ultimately in the finals by a crazy bitch with claws and her pet. He liked the breeze that day, that was all. Oh, and he had some good pork fried rice that day too.

Said crazy bitch was actually sitting right next to him. Well, less sitting and more lounging. Half-naked, at that. She had this habit of sun bathing in very skimpy bikinis, you see. This, as he has witnessed, had a profound effect on any male with an iota of libido. This was a once again proven an absolute truth when they arrived at the camp. The moment the woman started stripping, work came to a near halt. The men kept getting distracted and the women got irate over the idiotic men and the flaunting harlot.

Though, if one possessed sufficient will power they were able to avoid making fools of themselves. Toko has such will power and this drew the ire of the young woman no doubt.

After all, women of her caliber weren't used to not being drooled over. With good reason too. The girl was of ample breast and curves and her features were of the sharp variety. Animalistic in a sense. Her finger nails were fairly long and her hair was nothing more than a shock of brown.

She was an exotic species in a sea of normalcy.

Well, compared to himself at least. Standard black fatigues of Suna and with only two real points of interest. One, a maroon scarf usually wrapped around his lower face and reaching to rest on his shoulders. A tail of the cloth always trailed in his wake's wind. Two was his hitai-ate around his waist, the Suna symbol emblazoned upon it. Though whether or not that was interesting was up for grabs.

Currently the scarf was pulled down, revealing day old black stubble and he was enjoying a nice serving of dango.

A black shape darted out from the forest line, several yards away from the edge of the ruins. It was those same trees that made the ground stable enough to support a more permanent structure such as the temple but they also made excellent cover.

The black shape drew closer to the pair, it's small blurred form becoming clearer. It appeared to be a black cat. A simple black house cat. It's fur was gorgeous and had a nice sheen and it's ears twitched liked any other cat.

In fact, it looked nothing more than an ordinary cat. If it was saw wandering the streets or dumpster diving, no one would think anything else of it.

And this is what makes that particular breed of ninja-cats so dangerous in Toko's mind. Most cats from the clan are monstrous in proportions. Most could bite off a hand and rip out a throat with a quick slash. This "ordinary" cat though is by all regards much, much more dangerous.

The cat's usual lazy gait was quick and it's eyes didn't dart nearly as much as usual.

When it got closer, this caused the man to pause, dango stick still in his mouth.

"Ochii?" The man said the name to the cat, asking for its reason for the quick strut.

The girl sat up, small sunglasses dropping on her nose so that her teal eyes could survey the cat.

"Meow." The cat's face was expressionless. It betrayed no emotion in its meow.

"Really?" The girl asked.

"Meow," was the response. It was accompanied by a small tilting of the head forwards.

"Are they here, Kiza?" The man questioned.

"Seems to be." The woman nodded her head.

They both nodded in unison… before returning to sunbathing and eating respectively.

The cat shook its head with distaste in a manner not unbecoming of a wealthy noble man. It turned its head to the side, watching a group of people darkened by the distance walk closer. With elegance that only a cat could posses, it made its way towards the ever-growing closer group.

"Are we there yet?"

"We are closer."

"… You've said that every time I've asked you."

"Technically speaking Mr.Uzumaki, she's not lying."

Naruto made a manly grunting sound, betraying his prepubescent state. His eyes wandered around the surrounding area.

It was a strange sight to be honest. It was kind of forest, kind of dirty grasslands, and kind of desert. He didn't know the word for it. There were trees, but they were different from the one's Naruto was use to seeing in Konoha. River Country had a decent bit of them though. They were more… gnarly. That fit nicely in his mind. Very gnarly trees. They seemed to twist and bend and he had yet to see one that just shot straight up. It was as if the trees didn't know where they wanted to go. A preposterous notion.

The trees were scarcer where they were now. It wasn't a path or road of any kind, but it was flatter and few trees dared to venture out into this domain. The ground had a dirty feeling to it. There was grass, sure, but the ground seemed to be more made of dirty, packed sand. Plants weren't as rare as trees but most seemed to be barely hanging on.

If he stared to the West, he would find a desolate plain stretched out, occasionally interrupted by some rock formation or hill. This would then convert into the desert, deeper into Wind Country. If he looked due North, on the other hand, he was greeted by the beginning of the mountain range that encompassed Rain Country and Bird Country and jutted into Earth Country.

All this fell to the way side when Yuugao paused in the road. This caused a pause in her companions as well. She turned her head ever so slowly, to one of the few brave trees. Her eye brow went up a notch… and then a second notch.


Everyone who wasn't a Jounin( and therefore hadn't noticed it before) caught sight of a cat sitting in the tree.

"A cat?" Aya questioned rhetorically.

"Not exactly." Yuugao asserted. "A ninja cat."

The group's heads swiveled to her.

"Ninja… cat?" Naruto had just gotten hit with a curve ball. Since when could cats become ninjas? He didn't see any headband, not that a cat could wear one anyways.


"Yes, it seems that one or more of our guests are from the esteemed Sukineko Clan of Suna."

"Oh." That was both Harumi and Turo.

"But…" Aya stared at the cat as it observed them.

"How can a cat be a ninja?" Yuugao guessed what her question was. "They are very similar to the Inuzuka clan and go through similar rituals."

"That they don't share with anyone," Turo added. "Ninjas and their secrets. Like trying to take a toy from a child."

Yuugao turned to him, eyebrow still standing.

"Err… no offense." He smiled nervously while holding his hands up in an appeasing manner.

"None taken," Yuugao said, off handedly, as she began walking again. This was somewhat surprising to her team as she did nothing about the cat dilemma.

"What should do about the cat sensei?" Harumi asked, walking quickly to come into stride with her sensei.

"Nothing." She finally said.

"Nothing?" Harumi reiterated.


"Why nothing?" Aya said, who had taken the tail position.

Yuugao had to think for a moment, wording her next line correctly. "There are several rules of the Ninja that are not cataloged anywhere." Yuugao turned to Turo. "You know the one I am thinking of, I believe."

Turo smiled poignantly. "The 'Victim' Rule."

Yuugao nodded in approval.

"The 'Victim' Rule?"

"Yes, the jist of it is this," Yuugao turned her head for a moment, making sure the cat was following as she felt, which it was. "Always try to be the victim in a fight or war."

"Try to be the victim? Doesn't that mean you lose?" Naruto questioned.

"Not precisely. If a victim of one country fends off an attacker of another, it gives the defending country a nice amount of political leeway. Being victimized also gives the country the sympathy and perhaps even support of other countries. In a war, it's always better to be the victim."

"But…" Aya mumbled. "We aren't at war with Suna."

Turo scoffed. "Ninjas are always waging war."

"There haven't been any major fights between Shinobi in a decade almost," Harumi stated very factually.

"Then that just means it's about time for one. The fact is that there has never been a true moment of peace in the elemental countries. There will always been tension and there will always be covert missions." Turo intoned solemnly. "All it takes is a small misunderstanding between a Genin team or two for an all out war between Suna and Konoha to spark. If Suna is determined the aggressor then support will lean towards Konoha."

"It is a harsh lesson, but the ninja world isn't usually about heroics," Yuugao stated in her usual monotone.

Before some form of response could be provided by the younger members of the group, a small mass of people became obvious to the group.

A group of eight or so people waved from the apparent entrance of the camp. Turo's face stretched into a grin and a little bit of a skip went into his step.

He turned his head exaggeratedly before saying in the most dashing voice he could muster, "Come! Let us see what mysteries we may unravel!" The Konoha-nin half-expected him to jump up and click his shoes together.

Turo broke into a practiced and well-timed jog, he was trailed by his perplexed guardians.

Yuugao was a planner but wasn't obsessively so. She just liked to go into situations with a clear idea of what needed to be done. She put more faith in a simple plan made ten minutes before contact with an enemy than in an elaborate plan that's been in development for months. Such elaborate plans often lead to great downfalls as one chaotic factor could ruin them.

One great example, that happens to be one of the best well-known secrets in the world, was Sarutobi looking for a successor the first time. The obvious front-runner was Orochimaru, Sarutobi's favored and faithful student. Then again, Minato Namikaze was also a contender with his depute technique during the Third Great Shinobi War. Orochimaru did have more experience though and was more skilled when it come to one-on-one fights where the Hiraishin couldn't be properly utilized.

Orochimaru was going to be pretty much handed the title of Yondaime, but things hit a little snag. Orochimaru's plans and true self came to light. He was always aloof, but that's to be expected with prodigies. No one knew just how far Orochimaru had fallen, or rather, how deep he was all along. The man was absolutely in-love with long, elegant plans. He wanted his life story to be a play, and he wanted it to be a good one. Sadly, he didn't consider that most elaborate plans are often protected by plot armor and attempts at such things in real life don't always work out for the best.

This was Orochimaru's greatest flaw. You would think being Jiraiya's teammate would teach him something, but a little discussion and a comment by Jiraiya thrown frivolously at Sarutobi planted a small seed of suspicion in the 3rd Hokage. It all went downhill from there.

Yuugao should have counted on the fact that some plans, no matter how simple and straight forwards, don't survive contact with the enemy. Or in this case, with Turo.

When Turo had entered the camp, he made small greetings and proceeded to head straight for the two Suna-nin situated on a pillar.

Yuugao had figured Turo would know better than to have a confrontation. He did, he just didn't particularly care.

A sharp woman, the Sukineko by the looks of her, grinned saucily as Turo approached.

"Why hell-" She tried to say a greeting in a lusty voice but was interrupted.

"Move." Turo said simply, digging into his pocket.

"Excuse me?" Said the woman.

"I said…" He picked up a side of her towel and flipped it off of the fallen pillar. "Move."

He put a strange metal tube that looked to be a small telescope to his eye. He began inspecting the pillar with a close up look.

The barely-clad woman was nonplussed for a moment.

The man, who was apparently her partner in the mission, grinned.

"What?" She turned to him and said venomously.

"Nothing," He held up his hand defensively. "Nothing at all."

The lady looked ready to snarl before she stood and rounded on the approaching group.


"Yes, yes they are." The archeologist confirmed absent mindedly. He didn't even look up.

"Genin team too, only one guy too." Toko mumbled and briefly paused. "Unlucky bastard."

Kiza went to swat him but he deftly dodged by bending his neck.

She took a good look at the team before frowning.

"This won't be any fun, a kid who doesn't have pubes yet and a bunch of other girls."

"What, the little blondy not good enough for you shota-neko?"

"Oh shut it…" A cat-like growl originated from her throat as she starred him down for a moment.

A purple head obscured the sun and shadowed over the sitting Suna-nin's face. The cat woman turned to the other kunoichi.

There was an awkward silence.

And it lasted.

And lasted.

It was only interrupted by several of the workers mulling about getting ready for the true digging and excavation to begin and Turo's own little meticulous musings over stones.

That is until…

"Yo." Aya's hand was raised in greeting, her eyes shifting back and forth as if she believed she had just committed some taboo.

Yuugao's curt hand extended in a handshake to the standing member of the duo.

"Yuugao Uzuki, Jounin sensei of team 3."

The feral woman quirked an eyebrow before shrugging and accepting the hand.

"I'm Kiza Sukineko, the lazy bum is Toko Hitofuki, and the darling little kitty stalker behind you is Ochii."

Said cat strutted up through the Konoha-nin, stopping briefly to brush against Harumi's leg, and making its way to circle between and behind Kiza's legs. It starred at the group for a moment, scrutinizing them with eye's that only a cat could posses. It finally meowed before becoming uninterested and wandering over to bother the sitting man who was still eating and who had barely nodded in recognition at being introduced.

Yuugao nodded sternly. "My team, Harumi Kuro, Naruto Uzumaki and Aya Niisagi." She motioned to each in turn.

"Hello/Hey/Yo," Was the genin's responses respectively.

"I am hoping that this mission can go as smoothly as possible, for both parties," Yuugao said in a business like tone.

"Yea, yea sure. I just gotta find a better place to tan." She frowned and snatched up her towel from the ground where Turo had deposited it.

Yuugao blinked in confusion for a second.

'Why would she be-'

"I know what you're thinking," the scarfed man mumbled from the ground, he paused to deposit some more dango in his mouth. He savored it before continuing. "Why is she so relaxed during a mission?"

Kiza scowled at him.

"Everyone knows this is a farce of a mission on Suna's part so…"

"Yes, yes you're treating it like a vacation." Turo said exasperatedly. "Now could all of you please step away from the ancient sandstone."

He began shooing away the shinobi. It was a peculiar sight. A civilian man sending away six shinobi (and one cat) that could each kill him in atleast three dozen ways, if not more.

Kiza hunched over slightly, very cat-like, and bared her teeth at him. She still backed up, but she didn't make it easy for him.

Yuugao's eyes narrowed and her hand drifted towards her kunai pouch. Before this went any further though, Toko lightly flicked the feline woman on the forehead.

"Be nice," he intoned with a small grin and a waggle of the eyebrows. He turned to Yuugao. "Don't mind her, she's just angry she was ignored by that guy and then a group of libido-less nin show up."

All eyes shifted to Naruto for some sort of reaction but he was just standing there, his eyes wandering around. He suddenly realized the strange stares.


"Well, he kind of just insulted you." Aya said with a shrug.

"What!? How!?" He sounded alarmed and he stood a little straighter. He looked accusingly at the male Suna-nin.

"Libido is…" Harumi started but had to pause to the find the right way to word this. "… the male sex drive and he implied you have none at all."

Naruto deflated. "Oh if that's all…" He shrugged and turned to the Kiza. "If it makes you feel any better, women with less cloths on than you usually sleep and snuggle with each other on my couch and they haven't jump started anything."

It was odd. Even the birds paused. Several people, though not knowing why, stuck their heads out of the tents and look at the shinobi, perplexed. Nature and human alike unanimously agreed to be silent and stare at a one Naruto Uzumaki. Then, in agreement once more, they all cocked their heads to the side simultaneously…

Naruto felt a bead of sweat form on his forehead and make its way down to his eyebrow. The sheer puzzlement on their faces was profound. Yuugao's mouth stood slightly agape. A dango stick hung limp between Toko's lips and even Ochii, who was not an easily surprised cat, stopped purring and raised a single kitty eyebrow.

"This is gonna be fun." All eyes whipped around to Toko who had recovered the quickest and caused everyone else's with his words. "I can just feel it."


"Don't rush me!"

"Ok, ok. No one is rushing you…" Turo made a calming gesture.

The entirety of Turo's underlings and students stood behind him, all peering over his shoulders. Infront of Turo stood Naruto Uzumaki. They were all in what appeared to be a crumpled hallway. A large hole was behind and above them. A ladder led up to it Several lanterns provided light for the little group. The group was at one end of the hall and the other was what could only have been a staircase at one point. It wasn't so no as it was collapsed.

Naruto was rubbing his chin and looking over what appeared to be a large stone door that was set at the end of the hall. On the door, a pattern was marked in. The pattern consisted of jagged edges and very few round or smooth lines.

This was a seal. An old one, but a seal none-the-less.

"Alright…" Naruto sighed loudly. "These…"

He walked up and ran his hand over the markings. Something clicked.

"It's a trap!" Naruto exclaimed.

Turo nodded in agreement.

"But…" He urged.

This caused Naruto to pause.

"But… they…" He looked to one side of the door where the seals went off the edge and seemed to collect around an indention. "They…"

Naruto's eyes bugged out. He looked at the other side. Everything was the same till it reached the edge of the door and then it began differing slightly, but still it pooled itself around a small indention.

'The door's seal is the same exact same till it goes off the edges to the two connecting seals on the side… then it… that means…'

Naruto's mouth fell open and two words were uttered, "Holy fuck."

Turo grinned.

"Not the words I would use to describe it, not very holy at all, but still." He intoned.

"These are…"


"So... two?"

"Yes, two."

"Wow." Naruto looked at the seal with appreciation. "But people die, so they would have to change them every once and awhile."

"Oh of course, it would be quite tedious."

"Ummm…" the two seal-o-philes turned to a young man who was looking particularly confused. He suddenly blinked and hesitantly raised his hand.

"Yes?" Both Naruto and Turo said this before looking at each other, slightly weirded out. They snapped quickly back to the man.

"Umm, well. What exactly are you two…" he gestured vaguely at the door instead of forming a complete sentence.

Turo looked at Naruto with a grin that said 'Go ahead'.

"Oh well…" He pointed at the door. "This is a trap that will trigger if we push in this door and disconnect from one of the two outer seals."

Several of the people whipped out pads and some writing utensils and started making note of what Naruto was saying. This was incredibly strange to Naruto.

"And, well." He turned back to the seal. "The two connected-side seals are keyed to a specific chakra signature as far as I can figure."

The sound of scribbling paused. They all starred expectantly at Naruto.

"That means, uhhh." Naruto was beginning to feel particularly awkward. "Well it basically means that if the two specific people put their chakra into the small indentions they are suppose to, they will be safely disconnected from the trap seal and let you push in the door without dying."

There is a special face that Turo had become accustomed to in his years of taking youngsters on his expeditions. He affectionately refers to it as the "Ah ha!" face. Everyone in the hallway except him and Naruto had that face right then. It captures the moment perfectly, when the right blocks fall into place and things suddenly make sense. He loves that expression.

After an intense amount of scribbling, one female raised her pencil and bit her bottom lip, holding back a question.

This prompted Naruto to feel strange again as she looked to him for permission to ask the question.

He hesitantly pointed at her, his eyes shifting back and forth, searching for some insane thing. Some pink elephant that would inform him that, yes indeed, he was dreaming. He found no such thing.

"Sooo…" the girl had a soft voice and she nibbled on the end of her pencil. She pointed to one seal.

"That ones for one person and." She aimed at the other. "And that one another, so like…"

Another fellow piped up, "Two guardians?" He suddenly blushed like an embarrassed student who just interrupted class.

Turo finally decided to join the conversation, drawing all their attention from an appreciative Naruto.

"More like two keepers. I'm betting good money that there are important items behind that and you need the chakra signature of the two temple leaders to just access it."

Furious scribbling. Someones pencil broke and a sigh of frustration was emitted from somewhere in the group.

"Like Mr.Uzumaki mentioned, they would have to replace these seals when a leader died or stepped down. It's more proof of their ingenuity when it comes to seals crafting." Turo turned to Naruto with a grin, but found his back. Naruto himself was studying the seal and etching every strange jagged edge into his mind.

He walked up and stood beside the blonde boy.

"It's not what you are use to, eh?" Turo waggled his eyebrows and shook his head, still grinning.

"Nope…" He traced the edge of the seal in the air. "All these jagged edges are so… different."

"No doubt, a ton of today's sealing consists of elegant lines and spirals. That doesn't make it better necessarily. It is one of those trends I suppose. The reason I knew it was because I encountered a few similar ones in Bird Country."

Naruto rubbed his forehead, his eyes closed in thought before he mumbled, "I've got so much to learn."

Turo scoffed, "We all do. No one knows everything, just like no seal master knows every form of sealing ever created."

Naruto turned to him, slightly disgruntled, "Well I'm no seal master."

Turo scoffed, yet again.

"You're on your way to being one though, in a long line of prestigious Konoha seal masters." Turo barked a laugh. "Konoha, you lucky dog."

Naruto reeled back slightly, causing Turo to look at him.

"What? It's true. Konoha's got to be one of the luckiest villages." He said shaking his slightly. "I mean, they get the Niidaime, Jiraiya, the Yondaime if he had a little more time and then there's you."

Naruto was quite perturbed by this statement. Sure, they were gonna have him as Hokage and they were lucky for that… but was it because of his sealing skills?

"So… sealing's really that big of a deal in Konoha?"

"Oh!" Turo snorted slightly. "A big deal? Any Konoha-nin would fall head over heels for a seal master. Civilians less so, as they don't understand its application but the ninja have a lot of pride in their seal masters."

He tapped his foot for a moment in thought. "Actually, any village would kill for you. I know for a fact Iwa and Mizu would jump at the chance to steal away your allegiance in a few years time. It's one of the reasons Iwa lost the Third Great Shinobi War. Jiraiya's insane seal talents combined with the lesser ones of Tsunade and Orochimaru, they could just set up in an area and wait for literal battalions of Iwa-nin to come to their deaths. That's not even mentioning Mr.I-can-kill-you-and-everyone-around-you-Yondaime."

Naruto, for the first time in his short life, felt an incredible weight bearing down on him. He was part of a lineage of seal adepts. Seal adepts that other ninja adored and would kill for. Naruto felt something much greater than himself on his shoulders now.

He was to be a seal master. He was going to be in the history books, not only as the greatest Hokage of all time but also as the greatest seal master in existence.

'The Great Seal Master Naruto Uzumaki.' He let that reverberate in his skull before grinning. "Awesome."

"Awesome indeed, Mr. Uzumaki." Turo slapped him on the shoulder. "Now how about we dismantle this seal that will mostly likely kill us if we mess up in the slightest?"

Naruto's grin only got wider as the crowd behind them paled.

There are many great truths in this world. What goes up must come down. When you play with fire, you're likely to get burned. And bringing marshmallows to a cremation or execution by burning is just plain rude… and kind of funny. Those are just a few such truths.

There are also many great illusions that present false truths. One of these fake truths, to most people who played against Naruto atleast, was that he was unbeatable in poker. For the most part, this is quite correct. But then there are certain people who test it. At that point Naruto becomes deeply imbedded in the game and actually starts using some skills he's picked up.

Then, it would take a divine act to take Naruto down… or something.

Naruto glanced up at his opponent. The little bastard sat their calmly, not even twitching. He hadn't even bothered to look directly at its cards yet, just using it's peripheral vision to check over them. This bothered Naruto greatly.

"So…" Naruto said as casually as possible, looking non-chalantly at his hand. He brought out a little slip of folded paper from his small pile of winnings, which included a pocket watch, a bottle of liquor from Kusa, two high quality sets of kunai from Suna and a tidy amount of money.

He held the paper up, taunting his opponent with it. "You want this don't you?"

The face betrayed nothing but the eye's told him yes.

"Well then, what do you think would be the appropriate price for this? I mean, it's pretty cool."

A moment of silence and thought. Finally the other player pushed forward the entirety of his pile. All in.

"Oh man, you really do want this back? You got lucky these last few games, but…" Naruto tried to coax a reaction one last time but was rewarded with nothing. Finally with small frown he laid the paper in the pot. "…You sure you want to part with all that pretty-pretty money?"

The face stayed expressionless, the eyes still staring straight ahead.

"Oh well, whatever," said Naruto with a shrug. He then fanned his cards out all the way." Show me what you got!"

Naruto laid out on the table, a six, seven, eight, nine and ten of hearts. A straight flush. Pretty good hand if he dared say so himself.

His opponents card's suddenly dropped, the chakra strings holding them in the air no longer being fueled. A standard flush was revealed. The defeated player turned to his side and shrugged at Toko who was sitting there, quietly beginning to sulk. Even mid-sulk, he was eating some teriyaki. Ochii turned to Naruto and nodded with respect at the well played game.

Naruto grinned as he scrapped in his winning. While he was doing so, the cat sashayed away, leaving Toko, Naruto and the small group who had watched the intense poker game. They were beginning to disperse though.

"It's not fair," Toko mumbled from where he laid on his side.

"Hey! You're the one who wanted to play poker!" Naruto retorted. "I mean, I carry around several decks of cards!"

"How was I suppose to know you would take most of my crap!"

"Well don't put up what you can't part with! And bringing in a cat to try and win your stuff back? That's sad." Naruto maturely stuck out his tongue.

"Well until now, Ochii's been one of the best poker playing cats in Suna."

"This ain't back alley blackjack, leave your cats at home! And I believe you owe me something." Naruto unfolded the slip of paper in his pile and stretched it out revealing the letters "One Free Jutsu".

"I knew I never should have bet that." Toko munched on his food, grumbling and looking dejected.

Naruto grinned wildly. "Don't feel too bad, you get to teach the future Hokage a jutsu."

Toko quirked an eyebrow, his back still to Naruto.

"Kid, it's not like I'll teach you anything Konoha doesn't have catalogued somewhere."

Naruto paused, considering his words.

"…Then that means you have something Konoha doesn't even know about?"

A finger flicked on Naruto's forehead. Toko wasn't slow by any means.

"Duh, I mean come on," Toko waggled his eyebrows and leaned in, as if to tell a joke. "I'm the awesome wind master Toko."

"Wind? You mean like the breeze? A breeze jutsu?" Toko's head twitched the side as Naruto casually blew off his pride and joy.

"A breeze? A Breeze?" Toko stood and turned to the side. He was looking directly out of the camp, away from any intelligent life forms. Several trees did stand in that direction though. "Let me show you a breeze!"

Toko's hands blurred into seals causing Naruto to lean back, wide eyed. He didn't often see strong ninja going through seals. His sensei knew a decent amount of jutsu but she didn't often use them. Toko's hand sealing was just insanely fast. Then again, he was probably a ninjutsu specialist so it's to be expected. Toko finished the hand seals in a split second.

He raised and his right hand in a sweeping motion above his head, bringing it down behind him. The fingers were closed together, making a point. A bunch of strange ethereal blue ribbons that Naruto recognized as wind streamed behind his hand.

While this was happening, his left foot slid forwards and he crouched down slightly. When his hand was near the bottom of his circular motion, he brought his hand forwards just as he left leg stretched out. The moment his right leg nearly lifted off the ground, he spun his hand, very quickly, at the last moment and simultaneously opening it.

"Fuuton: Spiraling Wind Lance!"

Fuuton: Spiraling Wind Lance looked to be a very long, thin cone of rapidly spinning blue wind. It propelled itself quickly forwards, sending tendrils of slower air arcing off itself in a pretty display. It slammed directly into the one of the trees, barreling straight through. There was a large hole where the technique impacted. It drilled all the way through and continued to putter out but not before damaging a second tree with a large spiraling dent.

Naruto's mouth was open slightly, a dumbfounded looked had crawled onto his face.

Yuugao wearing what could only be described as armored pajamas nearly appeared out of thin air, her sword in her hand. She looked between an amazed Naruto and a triumphant looking Toko. She reached the logical conclusion before Toko could even turn around.

As she turned and walked away, she found both Harumi, Aya and Kiza coming towards the commotion.

Kiza was much more sedated, probably use to hearing Wind Jutsu but she came none-the-less .

Aya seemed particularly excited. "What was it sensei? An attack? Some action?" She was holding a kunai and biting her lip.

"No." Yuugao said dispassionately. "Men."

It's strange, but this was totally acceptable to all of the women present.

"Now, I don't know about you." Toko leaned over towards Naruto horizontally, not facing him. "But that was a bit more than a breeze."

"…You gotta teach me that."

"Yeeeaaaaa…." His face became expressionless. "No."

"What? Come on! That was cool."

"And that was just one of the lesser versions." Toko wagged his finger while grinning.



"Come on, man. I'll give you back a set of kunai!"

"…Eh…" Toko stopped to think for a moment. He scratched his chin.

Hope gleamed in Naruto's eyes like that of a school girl who was looking at a pretty dress.

Toko popped the last bit of teriyaki into his mouth and pulled his scarf up. Naruto took this as a hopeful sign. Toko turned ever-so-slowly to Naruto, his face grave with importance.

"…No." Deadpan.

"Mr. Motou, I've searching looking for you." Turo heard a voice behind him say. He blinked for a moment, his face raising up from a rock he was examining. His head cranked around, cracking slightly.

The figure that stood above, on top of rock, him was blacked out, the sun sitting behind him and the rays radiating around him. From where Turo was he could discern the man wore a big cloak.

"That's good and all, but for what reasons?" Turo said as he stood.

"You've found something that me and my associates would be interested in…" Turo's eyes narrowed deftly as the business like, slightly slithery (but not slimy) voice paused. "..attaining."

"Oh." Turo smiled apologetically. "I'm afraid I don't sell too many of my finds and I am quite alright in the money department at the moment."

"Mr. Motou, I'm afraid you don't the severity of this." The man hopped down from the rock with great agility. His revealed face cause Turo great pause. "Let's talk."


Turo's eyes snapped open, sending the student that had been beside him to fall down to the ground. The aged archeologist sat up in his cot gingerly. He looked pointedly at the sprawled out student.

Turo reached over and turned the knob on a lamp, brining the burning wick back into prominence.

"S-sensei!" The brown haired student from the ground. The boy was slightly winded. "I was just about to wake you."

Turo cocked his head to the side.

"Oh really? At…" Turo glanced at the open flap to his tent. "This time of night?"

"Well, sir." He scratched the back of his head, slightly embarrassed. "I couldn't sleep and I decided to root around a little at that one little area off to the side and…"

The student took a deep breath and bounced for a second in excitement.

"I've found something."

Turo blinked for a moment, rubbing some sleep from his eye.

"Found something? What exactly? I believe it was a watch tower, so maybe some defensive weaponry."

"Err…" The student looked incredibly embarrassed again. "I kind of… don't know what it is."

Turo's eyes snapped open all the way, the sleeping being pushed back like a child.

"Oh my…" Turo stood with a grin. "Surprises are great things."

"Well, I can show you right now." The boy jumped up with bouncy excitement only a child in a candy store should have. "You want me to grab your gear?"

"Oh no, I'll just take the small kit for now." He walked to the edge of the small tent and grabbed a small pouch of excavation tools and strapped it around his belt. He slept in work cloths so that problem was null and void. After a second of searching, he grabbed the lantern as well."Now, lead away into the night!"

The student nodded, mirroring his teacher's grin.

As they were greeted by nights cold, brisk air, Turo stretched slightly.

They started off at a hurried pace, but didn't run. They were excited but there was no reason to exhaust oneself. Everyone else was tucked into their beds except for one of the members of Team 3 who was situated near the camp entrance with the rest of their team. But they were going in the opposite direction anyways, closer to the desert. They wouldn't even come into the ninja's line of sight. The student, during this trek, noticed something.

"Sensei." Turo snapped his head around.


"Are you… ok? I mean, you're sweating a lot and it's pretty chilly tonight."

"Oh well, I was having a rather eventful dream before you awoke me."

The student's strides slowed and he turned his head, cocking it at the same time.

"A nightmare?" He queried.

"Nay…" Turo frowned slightly. "A recollection."

The student stared, slightly unnerved by his sensei's answer, as Turo sped up towards the remains of what was thought to be a fallen watch tower.

"Now this is peculiar." Turo said, his head being stuck through a hole in the floor.

"I know, that's exactly what I thought."

"I could have sworn this was a just a watch tower. It was in the pattern along the wall with the rest."

Turo removed his head and sat down. They were in the remains of a box shaped tower made of sand stone. There were many such towers along where they found trace remains of a wall. Turo could admit he gave them a cursory glance, considering the wealth of knowledge promised in the main structure.

The hole Turo had been inspecting was 4 by 4 feet. It seemed to be made to fall out with the right incentive, which happened long ago during it's inhabitance. A green moss that seeped into the surrounding buildings had lined the edges of the hole.

"Well, this just shows us that we should casually write off something, eh Fumio?"

"Yes, sir." The now named Fumio prepared to make a quick note but Turo waved him off as he picked up a small rock. He tossed it up once for good measure before letting it fall into the darkened hole. It didn't fall far at all and it seemed it wasn't a deep jagged hole, but more of a somewhat tall second story. "My boy, go fetch some rope and an extra lamp. I'll lower myself in while you do so, and then drop down using the rope. And hurry, you shouldn't miss this."

"Yes, sensei!" The boy saluted and quickly made his way back to camp.

Turo nodded and grinned at the young man as he dashed off. A moment later Turo had unhooked his belt and fastened one end to the lantern. Dropping the belt and lantern to scare away the dark, he took notice that while not very deep, it was fairly wide. He could see the three walls and the one other side led off into the darkness. He got a good holding onto the side of the hole. He slipped down, casually into it, until he was holding on to the edge with one arm and the other lower the lantern.

He let go of his belt, causing the lantern to fall down a short distance and safely land without breaking or smashing. Turo then himself let go and fell down, bracing his impact.

He grunted as he landed and figured that he wouldn't be able to do that in a few years. He swung his arms around in circles, hopping from one foot to the other, shaking away the fall.

"Now, now, now…" He picked up the lantern with a grin, reattaching his belt and supplies. He smiled, standing in the circle of light, surrounded by lurking shadows on the corridor walls. This is how he liked it. The rough and tumble style of archeology. Finding hidden passages, exploring dark nooks and crannies.

He held the lantern high and slowly walked off into the dark. He was careful, very much so. He kept watch for any traps that might be just out of sight and most certainly anything of interest. He soon realized that the corridor let straight back towards the temple. He quickly began counting his steps, judging just how far he had walked towards the main complex.

About one quarter of the way there, cuneiform started showing up. The art of words through pictures.

No one in their right mind would forgo trying to read it.

He crouched down, running his hands over work. He recognized nearly all of the symbols to his delight. They were the very same from the temple and he had encountered them in many artifacts from the desert people.

He paused though. He cocked his head to the side and brought both the lantern and his face close to the wall. He peered straight at one symbol. One he distinctly recognized… but there was something different about it.

He leaned back, glancing at the rest of the wall. The same symbol kept popping up. It was a simple circle that surrounded a diamond with elegantly slanted edges.

The thing that bothered him was that this symbol wasn't rare at all. It popped up frequently on things. A statue here, an animal skin there, some rock on occasion. It was one of the lesser known mysteries of the nomads of the desert.

It was unanimously decided by the historically interested crowd that it had to pertain to people or maybe even a good luck charm of sorts.

But never before had it popped up with such… frequency. It was everywhere on the wall, scattered about like breath on a pile of sand. This was important.

Like a fevered man, Turo began deciphering what of the wall he could.

He ran his hands over one line, his eyes squinting.

"Avatar." He said slowly, smoothing the word out in his mind. "Avatar? Avatar of…"

He snapped back.

"…the desert."

He blinked for a few moments and finally turned to look at the ancient walls.

"No…" He said through squinted eyes.

He suddenly took off at a racing pace, sprinting down the hall until he nearly ran into a fourth slab of stone.

On that stone wall, a deep, bigger etching of the same symbol stood. The lines were thin and the inside of it was bigger than the opening, making a cupping effect. At the top point of the diamond, stood a similar indention to the one Naruto and him encountered a few days before that funneled down into the top of the symbol. At the bottom, rather curiously, a hole laid at the bottom point. His teeth clenched together. He had a feeling…

He took in the rest of the wall. There were only three other symbols and they surrounded the larger reoccurring one in the shape of a triangle.

"Blood…" He said pointing at one that was shaped like a drop with scraggily lines flowing out the top, deciphering it instantaneously. He moved to the next one. "Open, obviously. Blood open? Open blood?"

He shook away the half completed translation and crouched down, bringing the lantern closer to the last cuneiform at the bottom.

He didn't recognize it. At all.

His eyes narrowed, drawing the object into his mind and pulling it apart. It was a circle with four lines arcing out of it, all pointing down wards.

"Open, blood, and…" He licked his lips, realizing they were slightly cracked. "Blood open…"

His eyes widened.


He stood abruptly, drawing a small knife used for scraping away dirt and cutting through any small foliage with a delicate hand.

"Blood opens." He slide the knife down his thumb, starting a nice flow. He bent the thumb, pushing even more of his lifeforce to it.

After a moment, he pushed his thumb into the indention at the top of the symbol. His blood, running from the thumb, funneled down into the deep, cupped lines.

He watched with sick fascination as his blood outlined the symbol, almost making it glow with ethereal red power. His blood slid down and down until it stopped right at the hole, not willing to tip over into it. In stood, precariously, before the chasm before it's brothers behind it gathered up too much and it tipped over the edge.

The reaction was instant. The stone just fell right into a perfectly aligned slot, leaving the lantern to pierce into the darkness before Turo.

Turo squeezed his thumb, stopping the blood flow for the moment.

"Alright Turo…" He took a deep breath. "Let's see what the rabbit hole has in store for us."

And with that, holding in one hand his bloody thumb and the other, with only his four fingers, the lantern, he stepped into the darkened room.

"Oh sensei! I'm so sorry I'm late, I had to look for rope and I asked that one ninja guy for some and he asked why and when I said I needed it for something with you." Inhale. "He looked at me funny but… what happened?"

Fumio was holding up an extra lantern and had several implements strapped to his character making a rather comical sight. He came upon his sensei, mid way through the tunnel, he was holding his thumb and his face was tight and he looked a mostly expressionless. There was a slight undertone of anger though.

"I got hurt." Turo said dispassionately. "We need to go get a bandage."

"Oh, yes of course!" The excited student said, looking at the thumb intently, noting the blood. "Do you want me to start down there?"

Turo immediately answered, "No!"

Fumio shrunk back.


Turo sighed.

"It's collapsed."

"Oh, well we can get the others and-"

"No. It's collapsed deeply and it's not safe to be in here."


"Fumio, it's best if you don't mention this. It's pointless to really." Turo smiled slightly, the edges of it tight with force. "No need to disappoint them when there is nothing down here except rocks."

"No writings?"


"Oh…" Fumio looked greatly let down. His first big discovery and it was nothing. "Well… ok then."

"Don't worry, boy. It's for the best." He lightly reached and patted him on the shoulder. Turo began walking back towards the entrance. Turo said, not even looking back, "Come on Fumio, my boy."

Fumio starred at his sensei back for a moment, hurt and disappointed. Slowly though, he wandered up till he was positioned by Turo.

Turo stared straight ahead, his face might as well have been made of the same material that surrounded them.

AN: What's in there? Who knows. Maybe some almonds.

Though that's unlikely.