Edited by Skelethin.

Special thanks go to Cornuthaum, Nightelf, Typhonis, Vasey, Yasuhei, MageOhki, Aleh and TFF in general for comments and help. You know who you all are.


Reload

Chapter 6


"Raiders of the Temple of the Skull."


/Captain's log, day six of the journey.

The Furou scrolls are doing a good job, even at barely a third of their power we still are doing good time. By the way, I'd like to point out Sasuke's a total wuss - Enterprise can SO take it!/

"We are so not talking about this again, dobe. She's vintage, she stays vintage."

"Bite me."

"Maybe later."

"Would you two freaks kindly shut up and let me tan in peace without even more disturbing mental images? Please?"

/Anyway, as I said, we are making good time. If the weather keeps, we should be in Coral in two days - and that's with the small stop by the way. Especially with Keisei helping. Note to self - check just how much chakra I put into her this time. I didn't bother dispelling her, and she stayed around.

On the other hand, I now know who went fishing three days back. I really need to check just how independent she is - she's sweet, but I could without her dropping a freshly caught fish on my lap every morning. Second note - working on dual-phase summon seals while drunk is really stupid. Really.

Though I have to admit she is a thing of beauty - watching her swim circles around the Enterprise and scaring the fish, along with an odd ship or two we pass by is damn amusing. I really need to check those scrolls, though. She'd been around since we left Sunflower, and so far she doesn't seem to slow down at all./

"Well gee - put Kyuubi-level of overkill into a summon and that's what you get. I told you this was a bad idea."

"Shut up, philistine! Don't worry, my precious. Naruto loves you regardless."

"...I don't know what's creepier - him saying this straight faced to a honest to kami siren or her purring when he rubs her."

"Considering she's anatomically correct?"

"...I so didn't need to know that."

"Feh. Philistines. There there, honey. Naruto loves you."

/Shows what they know. Feh. She's the most awesome example of seal engineering unlike anything done before. But of course, they have no appreciation for true science. Bastards./

"Bitches, blondie. Bitches."

"...Don't you start it, too."

"Hey, I'm Inuzuka. Getting called a bitch is no insult to me."

/...I so hate logic sometimes. Though I'd like to point out, that bitch or not, Hana in a bikini does look good. Damn good./

"You can stop drooling now, you little pervert."

"Hey, there is nothing little about me, lady!

"Feh. Heard that before, brat."

"Actually, he's right."

"Do I want to know how you know that? No, wait, scratch that. I know I don't want to know."

/...No comment! NO COMMENT! Ekhem. Disturbing bitches aside, this trip is proving to be lazier than I thought it'd be. The sea could be a table, for all the waves it makes. Well, not completely, but the weather is great and doesn't seem to be changing anytime soon, which is good. It drove Sasuke to tan in the nude - which is bad. It did allow one Inuzuka, sans clothes, on the deck to join her - which sweetens the deal a lot. I kind of lost count of pros and cons here after that bottle of extremely nice jiu Reiko left us, but meh. I could grow to like her just for that. That, or kill her and plunder her stash. One of the two. Though, she wasn't so bad... I wonder if Sasuke would get that mad jutsu skillzz cracking for the Harem no Jutsu - live impression. I gotta ask one of those days. Or maybe not. The harem girl outfit and Sasuke-chan is a scary thought. Though undeniably hot... Oh god, I really need to do something about those damn clones!/

"Hmm... You know, Coral has some nice see-through silks..."

/Note to self - keep Sasuke-chan away from the shops in Coral. Anyway. The weather is so good, half of the Kage Bunshin crew is even too much and the sun's blasting on an all time high so everybody's feeling lazy. Even Hana stopped throwing kunai for ogling. Imagine that - she can learn new tricks. Well, that, or she ran out of kunai, one of the two. Peace and quiet isn't bad, really. It lets me tinker some. Even built a new yo-yo for the bastard. Hah! I'm too nice for my own good, really. I'm being so generous - bow to my gracious nature, fools! Muahahahahaha!/

"And he has the gall to call MY fabulous, cultured and sultry laughter disturbing?!"

"...you two idiots really are alike, aren't you?"

/What did I tell you? No appreciation. I get no love or appreciation on this boat, at all. No sugar for Naruto. How sad, how tragic! Save for you, my cute, lovable, beautiful example of utter awesomeness. Who's Naruto's little cutie? Mm? Who? Yes, you are, yes you are! Note to self - check how can she purr like that. While technically possible, she shouldn't... jiggle like that. Though it does upgrade her visual tactics interface nicely./

"Visual tactics interface?"

"Sex appeal, my dear Hana. Sex appeal."

"...Oh."

/Those are the voyages of the ship Enterprise, boldly going where none dared to go before, accompanied by the most beautiful of sirens, plenty of booze and gourmet food in a quest for cash, cheap thrills and petty revenge!

Oh, and for chicks that don't disturb the fuck out of me.

Did I mention that Hana in a bikini, covered in a suntan oil with her skin bronzing slightly from the days on the sun looks really good? Or that she looks even better when her oiled hands slide over the smooth back of Sasuke-ch...

...I'm not looking. My will is strong. I am not looking. I have mastered the art of meditation that would make monks weep with envy. I am not looking at the suntan oil rubbed on the naked, gorgeously glistening female skin that managed to gain a faint golden hue over the-!

...aww fuck, who am I kidding...? Now, where were those blasted binoculars...?/


Snap.

Hiss.

Snap. Snap.

Hiss.

Power.

Snap. Snap.

Hiss.

It was all about... power.

And finesse.

Each crackle made was like a piece of a word, or a sentence. Each groove, each delicate line that crossed the other were like a note in the song.

Art.

More than anything shinobi did, more than ninjutsu, taijutsu, or even the delicate deadliness of bewitched senses that genjutsu achieved...

Sealing was an Art.

Many called themselves seal adepts. He laughed at them. No, not even laughed. At first he wanted to grab one of those self important jounin, drag his face over the grindstone, crushing it into each and every groove, each faint, almost hairline path for chakra made to make it work, and show him.

This was the Seal.

Art. Not a memorized part of a puzzle, assembled with mechanical precision, parroting something done decades prior and engraved into memory.

No.

Seals weren't made - seals were created. According to the medium, to the need, to the user, to the mood, to the function... even aesthetics.

Barbaric, they called him. He was - even after all those... could he call them 'years' ? No. Yes. Maybe. Whatever.

Even after that - he was. No matter how much knowledge, skill, lore - hell, even useless trivia - he gained, he still was. He liked things... grand. Flashy. Not always loud, but...

Yeah.

He had the imagination.

That was what made him who he was. Imagination. Sometimes, he thought he'd be crazier than Sasuke without it. Wait. No, that came out... wrong. Sasuke wasn't any crazier than him, not really.

"And doesn't that just give you a glowing report on the state of your sanity, Naruto old boy?"

The clone puffed on the pipe, acting as a hanger for the coat as Naruto worked.

Snap. Hiss.

Naruto frowned.

The crackle followed.

"Ahhh." The pleased smile crossed the blond's face. "That's better."

His fingers moved with a precision most would find astounding in the clumsy genin, the long, hairline thin spikes creating line after line, groove after groove over the short cylinder laying on the small table. Not wood, not stone - not exactly metal, a little bit of all, and neither. A fusion of alloys that would probably cost more than the Enterprise, for the materials alone. That is unless Naruto didn't cheat - which he did. He didn't need to, he had the materials - some stolen from Konoha, others taken from the raided castle. Some he even bought!

"I'm getting soft in my old age. Heh." The blond grinned.

Still, the material was a fake. A very convincing, very usable fake, but a fake none the less. A fake that would require more energy and skill than the other, less fake fakes he made before, but it wasn't about efficiency.

"Time?"

"Seventeen hours, fourteen minutes and thirty nine seconds." The clone puffed on the pipe in a bored manner.

"You don't say..." The scientist muttered, cocking his head as he looked at the cylinder, tapping it.

Snap. Hiss.

Crackle.

The red sparks erupted from one end, before dying.

"...Shit."

"I told you the reverse array was a bad idea." The clone shrugged.

"Did I mention I hate myself at times?" Naruto muttered, grabbing one of the empty scrolls and unrolling it with a flourish.

It was a cool trick, in his humble opinion. It allowed him to unroll the scroll over any surface with one, elegant motion. Very flashy, very grandiose - like those heroes in the old tales. "And then, he grabbed the scroll, and the enemy trembled as the pristine white glowed with words of power too mighty for his foes to comprehend!"

"Heh. Indeed." The blond smirked, the brush making the path fluidly up and down, and to the sides, the array making itself more than him making it, each careless move creating a web that made sense only when the last stroke was made and the pulse of sheer, unadulterated power made it... shift.

"Tricky, tricky, tricky..." He muttered as the paper burned, yet the arcane runes stayed behind, burning into the table yet not marking wood directly, crawling over the surface lazily, each path forming a spoke of a large wheel, the cylinder in the center. "My little bitch is being di-di-difficult!" He sing-songed.

"As fuck." The clone nodded sagely.

"You do know it is going to be bitchy 'cause of that, mmm? Taking her power just like that..." The clone in the corner said, not bothering to look away from the stars he had been looking at while puffing on a large cigar and getting drunk out of his mind, judging by the large amount of empty bottles around him. "She's like Sasuke that way. Bitchy."

"You know, if you weren't me, I'd probably kill you for that." Naruto said pleasantly. "Just for making that comparison."

"Yeah." The clone took a long drag. "Threatening yourself. Aren't I just a glowing paragon of sanity, hmm?"

"The mastery of Kage Bunshin isn't something that can be done without some sacrifices." Another clone, his nose in a book said absently. "You can't brave the deep sea without losing the sight of the shore, right?"

"Fuck, aren't we philosophical today." The cigar-smoking clone snorted. "Fuck you, whiners. This party's dead. I'm gone."

The last drag was as much Kage Bunshin smoke as it was the aromatic whiff of the nicotine smoke.

Naruto grabbed the flicked cigar out of the air.

"Good riddance." He muttered, letting the intoxication from the clone hit... and pass as he took a long drag and a deep breath that accompanied it. Metal. Iron. Blood and pulsing and...

"...oh yesssss." He grinned.

The buzz was light, but it would persist enough.

"OKAY! Now we're cookin' with gas!"

The ember of the cigar lit up like a firefly in the dark, cramped room Naruto adopted as his workshop - though considering the amount of space he had to the size of the boat, it was still much.

"...now what is wrong with you, eh?" He squinted, looking at the cylinder for a long moment, before snapping his fingers and snagged a roll of silk cloth, carving a long, neat strip out of it with one of his kunai, before moving the brush over it several times, until it was more ink than cloth in some places.

A quick fuuton jutsu later, the ink was dry, and the blood flowed over it, staining the silk at the edges and in the center, creating a reverse of the array, yet one aligned to it, like an ornate, curved spider web.

"Now, let's see..." He murmured, rolling the cloth over the cylinder with careful precision, until not an inch was left uncovered.

"If I do this I should have-"

The crackle of sparks covered the item with rapid, angry blaze and smell of sulfur, as well as hot iron and ozone. And that sickly sweet smell the blood made when it burned along with cloth and wood.

"...whooo... Ugh." The blond grimaced, waving his hands in a faint kamaitachi to disperse the smoke. "I really hope it-"

Snap. Hiss.

Crackle.

Naruto scowled.

"...Well doesn't it just FUCKING figure!" He growled, eyebrow twitching. "Why won't you work you good for nothing-!"

The hiss was long, and languid. Almost like a moan.

The crimson glow, oddly muted yet potent filled the small chamber.

"Well, well, well..." The teeth flashed in the ruby shine. "It just proves that sometimes all you need..." The hiss crackled loudly for a second. "Is some brute force."

With a groan of wood, the table fell apart.


"So, that's the place?"

Naruto looked at the small port dubiously. It wasn't the fact it was poor, or that it stank of burned cabbage. The number of shifty looking individuals standing by the corners, drinking cheap booze the jinchuuriki could smell even over the smell of the sea also didn't impress him much.

"Yeah. According to the orders, it's here." Hana, her chuunin vest left on board, civilian clothes on and a minor genjutsu covering her clan marks, nodded. "Ugh." She wrinkled her nose. "...what a stench."

"Hovels, burnt cabbage, unwashed caricatures of humans, cheap beer... and shit on the streets." Sasuke-chan grimaced. "What a hole."

"I've seen worse." Naruto shrugged.

"I don't doubt that for a second." Sasuke-chan snorted, before glaring over her amber sunglasses at the several local tough guys, who had been eying the Uchiha heiress with grins and whistles. The black eyes narrowed dangerously. "Well now, someone-"

She halted as Naruto grabbed her arm.

"Don't. We don't need to make trouble for Hana." He said calmly.

Sasuke looked at him for a long moment, before snorting, and turning away.

"I'll be in the cabin... doing something else." She muttered, stalking away.

"Whoa. She's angry." Hana blinked.

"Sasuke hates those types. Something to do with that freaky sense of pride." Naruto said absently, before halting. "...wait. 'She'?" He quirked an eyebrow.

"What?" The kunoichi looked at him. "She looks like a female, walks like one, talks like one, smells like one and spends more time on dresses, her looks and clothes than I do." She shrugged. "What am I supposed to say?"

"Well, taking into account that the bastard did that before - sans maybe the dress thing... Though you never know with that little deviant-"

"Uchiha Sasuke I met didn't give out more estrogen that a whole squad of kunoichi." The Inuzuka woman said flatly.

"Well, there is that." Naruto admitted with a smirk.

"Both of you are a fucking piece of work." Hana snorted. "Don't think I didn't notice, you pervert."

"Hey, I am on a boat with seriously hot pieces of eye candy." He said philosophically. "What is a man to do?"

"You ain't a man, you're just a little pervert. There's a difference." She tried flicking his forehead, only to blink as a strangely soft, yet undeniably strong grip caught her wrist.

"Oh I don't know... Care to check?" The blue eyes flashed with amusement, as his face leaned with, oddly enough, a friendly leer. "You might be in for a fun surprise."

Hana's first impulse was to back away, but...

'...damn. Is he actually...?' She blinked.

While the blond wasn't exactly on par with her, and still a fair bit shorter, he looked... taller.

'No. He doesn't just 'look'. How did...?' She frowned, looking a the noticeably longer, spiker mane of hair, now even brighter than usual due to the long hours spent in the sun. She didn't know what to make of it, at first, but there were jutsu that used hair as a weapon. The height, however...

'How could I miss this...?' She thought dumbly. 'We're on the same boat for days on end and yet-'

"How do you do that?" She muttered suspiciously.

"Do what?" He smiled innocently. "Dazzle you with my manly, irresistible presence? Make you so hot you can't stop but want a piece of the sexy beast?" He wiggled his eyebrows comically.

'Why that-!' She fumed, before stopping. '...wait.' Her eyes narrowed.

"It won't work this time." She said flatly.

"Work?" Naruto blinked.

"You know what I am talking about." She growled. "Stop trying to trick me!"

"Silly Hana..." The smile stayed the same, but the eyes became... so.. blue... as the whisper caressed her ear. "Tricks are for kids."

Hana blinked as Naruto unraveled, leaving a fading chuckle and the tell-tale greyish smoke.

'...Kage Bunshin?' She thought dazedly, before shaking her head. 'I've been talking to-' The woman frowned. 'It had all the smell all the... I'd swear it was him!' "How good IS he with that thing?!" Hana muttered with confusion.

"The best the world has ever seen."

The Inunzuka heiress whirled, only to see Sasuke-chan lounging on the roof, her bare legs curled slightly as she propped her head on the railing.

"When did you...?" The Inuzuka blinked.

"Oh, just now." The Uchiha heiress cocked her head. "It is bugging you, hmm?"

"This was no illusion. No genjutsu." Hana said, narrowing her eyes. "What the hell is he doing?"

"Hmm... Complicated." The younger kunoichi tapped her lips thoughtfully.

"Wait... You're... older than you are, but..." The Inuzuka trailed off. "Is it the same?"

"In a way. I think." Sasuke said, nodding slowly. "To tell the truth, I don't know myself."

"What is it?" Hana asked after a moment. "This... this isn't something you can just... do. He smells right. This isn't just a trick it is like... layering chakra... like.." Her eyes widened. '...Like... Sotorou... Or the Jyujin Bunshin...!'

The Uchiha blinked, looking at the dazed Hana curiously.

'Is it possible...? Without a partner to act as a medium it should not... But... Can it...?' She thought dazedly. 'But how? And why and... it is like he doesn't even realize he does it but when he needs to he...' She frowned. 'But if it is like... then he had to be born with it, but Kiba never said anything. Though... Kage Bunshin is a little bit similar in a way. It stills gives layers. It is still solid. Didn't Kiba say he didn't know Kage Bunshin before the exams? But if so, how could he do it just in two months as... No. But if it had been in his blood to begin with...'

"Hana?"

"Nothing, nothing." The woman shook her. "I was just thinking." She muttered, turning to the exit, before halting. "Sasuke... You and Naruto are pretty chummy, right? Close friends, and all that."

The raven haired beauty smirked.

"You might say that. What about it?"

"Naruto is an orphan, right?"

"Yes." Sasuke cocked her head to the side. "What of it?"

"How much of an orphan is he?"

"...What?" Sasuke blinked.

"I mean, he has no parents, but he had to come from somewhere, right? He had to have family at some point."

Sasuke's face might as well be carved out of stone, and her voice gained a hard, chilly quality that made Hana pause.

"No. Uzumaki Naruto is Uzumaki Naruto. He is the first and only."

"So he never looked?" The Inuzuka frowned. This was odd. Orphans usually wanted to know where they came from. And yet the curious, hyperactive kid she knew from the stories her brother told, and now knew personally, didn't? In a village as Clan-oriented as Konoha was? "But Konoha archives are very-"

A sharp, derisive chuckle cut her sentence like a knife.

"As if any family would want to be related to a 'monster'." Sasuke said with contempt. "Those bigoted cowards can't discern between the jinchuuriki and the bijuu."

Hana's eyes widened.

"What?" She whispered.

Sasuke paused, before looking at Hana strangely.

"You didn't know...?" The younger kunoichi said with surprise.

Hana just blinked owlishly.

"Oh man... that's rich." The neo-girl barked a sharp chuckle, before wincing. "You really didn't...?"

The chuunin shook her head mutely.

"So. Now you see." Sasuke sighed. "Not so simple now, is it?"

"No." Hana said shaking her head slowly. "Not simple at all."

"It never is." Sasuke shrugged. "Oh. And don't blab. Or the Hokage will execute you."

Hana paused, her eyes widening as the female Uchiha was suddenly... there. Right next to her, their faces almost touching

"What?"

"There is a law." The younger kunoichi murmured into Hana's ear, making the Inuzuka stiffen with surprise at the intrusion as the hot breath almost caressed her, Sasuke's scent hitting her like a Katon jutsu to her senses. "If you talk about Naruto's little furry problem..." She made a suggestive, slow line over Hana's bare throat.

"Thanks for the warning." Hana murmured, rubbing her throat lightly.

"Think nothing of it." Sasuke said cheerfully, waving as she walked away.


"Kawarimi with a clone?" Sasuke leaned over the railing, as the boat pulled out of the small harbor. "Man, you're slipping."

"She surprised me." Naruto grumbled. "Damn those Inuzuka senses...!"

"Oh don't whine, Naruto." She sighed. "You were careless. Admit it."

"I didn't need to be careful." The blond snorted. "You told her." It wasn't a question.

"It did come out." The Uchiha admitted, playing with her fan lazily. "And it covers your problem anyway."

"I hope so. I don't want to ruin my vacation because of some paranoid idiots."

"You are the one who wanted peace and quiet." Sasuke smirked.

"If you give me the 'go with the flow' speech, I'll spend good, long time thinking up the most cruel revenge I can imagine." Naruto said flatly.

"Why, Naruto." Sasuke blushed demurely. "So much attention? For me? You shouldn't have..."

The blond gave Sasuke a flat stare, before opening a beer and taking a chug. He frowned, before offering a bottle to her.

The neo-girl opened her mouth, only to close it as the blond glared.

"Spoilsport." She chuckled, taking the beer and leaning back, taking a long, slow chug. "Ahhh man...!" The kunoichi stretched, licking the faint remnants of foam left on her lips. "I needed that. Good stuff, that. The best for this weather."

"Yeah." The blond nodded, making a lazy seal. A moment later, the clone was back with two more cans that already gathered some moisture.

Naruto dismissed it, grabbing the beer, offering one to Sasuke.

"I'm surprised you didn't go with Hana." Sasuke opened her beer with a deft move. "You love such dives."

"Nah. It's her mission." Naruto shrugged. "Besides, I'm going with you."

The neo-girl blinked.

"Weren't you harping about vacation just a moment ago?"

"I found something interesting. I want to check it out." The blond shrugged.

"Something interesting? In a temple of Jashin?" Sasuke quirked an eyebrow. "Now I am really curious. You hate those guys."

"I just want something from their library."

The kunoichi frowned, tapping the beer bottle thoughtfully.

"Didn't you go over it several times already?"

"Over a library." Naruto corrected. "I've been studying the things I got from an antiquary in Sunflower, and it seems that there might be a possibility that Jashin monks got their hands on some unique stuff, one apparently 'held beyond touch of infidels'. Knowing those fanatics like we do, the only place they'd hold something like this would be-"

"The Zukotsu temple." Sasuke nodded. "Yes. It is almost like they use this place like some treasury. Though I wonder what you might want from there? We did plunder it quite thoroughly."

"Not exactly." The blond shook his head. "We never bothered to look under."

"I personally blew up the cellars. Seven times!" Sasuke protested.

"No. You burned Zukotsu's cellars." The jinchuuriki said lazily.

"That's the same thing." The kunoichi frowned.

"Not really. Remember those carvings we found?"

"The ones with that odd, curved line? Yes."

"It turns out it wasn't a curved line at all." Naruto snapped his fingers, a notepad appearing in his hands with a hiss. Grabbing a pencil, he made a sketch of a familiar, jagged line. "This is what we found. Now, add some more form, turn the jagged lines into something more symmetric..."

"...This seems familiar." Sasuke muttered, leaning over the paper. "I'd swear I've seen it before..."

"That is because you did." The pencil moved again, adding more lines, a circle among them, filling the rest of the sketch bit by bit. "Only then, it looked like this."

Sasuke's eyes widened.

"...Oh my god..." She muttered.

"Goddess, rather." The blond smirked. "But yes."

"Those... They built a temple to a third-rate god of violence... over a temple to Amaterasu?" Sasuke said with disbelief.


"No."

"Oh come on." Sasuke's voice was mischievous, honeyed, commanding and whining - all at the same time. A unique quality.

"No."

"You're the great seal master, right? The Living Forge, they called you, hmm?"

"Materials, composition, power... It doesn't come from thin air, you know." He said firmly. "And the time...? Ten hours? You're insane. Can't be rushed, you know."

"Oh but you can, I know you can." Her smile was mischievous, and feral, bordering on a smirk that belonged to the Sasuke from long ago, and the Sasuke he knew. "We both do."

"It is not for me but for you - you already had a dose, bastard." He pointed at her angrily. "That's even more of it. And the furball gets bitchy as fuck."

"So what?" The kunoichi shrugged. "She's asleep, you are the seal master and the smith."

"You. Are. Not. Listening." The blond eyebrow twitched. "It'd be the same like-"

"Oh you big baby." She snorted. "You can take it."

"That I can doesn't mean I want to!" Naruto protested angrily. "Geez, I told you, bastard! Vacation! Vacation! What part of VACATION can't you understand?" He stomped away.

She laughed, somersaulting to the railing, just as he turned, leaving them face to face.

The black eyes were narrowed, but more in laughter, and from the smirk than anything else.

"It isn't work, you know." She murmured, balancing with her hands like a child, even though both knew she didn't need to, even with no chakra to stick her to the thin railing. Sasuke could run on a single thread spun above the ground - they both knew that. That damnable grace was something Sasuke had in spades, trained to perfection and delighted in using. Especially like that. "You love it. Admit it. Creating stuff, making the seals move to your will and desire to craft something. Mhmm?" She pushed up her amber-tinted sunglasses he made for her. The sun's reflection swirled in them, not unlike a kaleidoscope. The effect was faint, yet dazzling if you looked too long. When the sharingan woke behind the lenses, it became a downright maddening chaos.

The glasses served no purpose. A bauble. Sasuke just liked them.

"Your point?" He raised an eyebrow

"Just one among many." She said glibly. "Oh come on, we can play that game the whole day long and we're just wasting time!"

"No. You are wasting time. I am wasting nothing." He smirked. "Besides irritating you, of course, which is a nice bonus."

"We are so not starting this again." She huffed, stomping her bare foot on the railing.

"Testy, princess?" If his voice held more smugness, he'd be a cat.

"Damn right I am!" She nodded. "Do it!"

"Denied!" The boy shook his head emphatically. "What's your problem, anyway?"

"It is nicely ironic, amusing and just fun on so many levels - how can I not do it?" Said Sasuke, a scandalized expression on her face.

"Then use your own jutsu, dammit." Naruto rolled his eyes. "Not like you have any shortage of them."

"It wouldn't be as cool." She shrugged.

"Who cares? Fire's fire!"

"Now that's just mean." The neo-girl pouted. "You know what I want." She smirked. "Or you think you do."

The blond frowned.

"...Okay. What are you scheming this time?" He asked suspiciously.

"You won't know unless you do it for me." Sasuke said smugly.

The blond paused, thinking for a moment, before scowling.

"Nice try, but no dice. Not happening. No way!"

"Oh you say that now." She chuckled, "But you already feel it taking root, mm? That little, nagging voice in the back of your head, eating away the reluctance..." Her voice was almost hypnotic. "Asking 'Can it be done? Can it be tried like that, and done with so little time and resources?' Come on, we both know that." the kunoichi cajoled smugly. "That is what makes you do it all differently - you said it yourself. You are just dying to try - success or failure. You always were, you always are, you always will be. I know that. You know that. All that knowledge backed by curiosity ticking in your head is like an explosive note..." She peered over the glasses. "It is just waiting to go off, and I know just the right spark. You want to know what I know to know it is what you think you know... But you can't be sure, now can you?"

Naruto cursed.

She knew him far too well, damn that bastard! He had been curious ever since he could remember. And he had never done something like this that fast, and she knew it.

"...Fine, damn you! FINE!" He scowled. "I'll make them for you! Happy?"

"Orgasmic." She said cheerfully.

"Let's not go that far." He said sourly. "I won't be able to set the filtering - I don't have enough power, or scrolls stored. It'll be pretty raw, meaning it goes one element only. No other jutsu, when that thing will be on. And a shitload of control issues, regardless."

"Yeah. I know." Sasuke nodded with a smirk. "That's not a problem."

"Well, if you don't mind having the mix effect..." He shrugged.

"Mind it?" She chuckled. "I am counting on it!"

The blond frowned.

"Okay. You lost me." He admitted finally.

"You should read more." She smirked, tapping her fan on the blond mane. "You'll see."

"Okay, now I am really interested." Naruto said thoughtfully. "It was the Amaterasu thing that sent you off... but you did it before, in Sunflower. What gives?"

"Now now, Naruto. You have almost all the pieces - don't rush it." Sasuke chuckled, somersaulting onto the deck gracefully, before sashaying to the well-lit spot. "Just rush the gloves." She smiled, pushing the sunglasses up as she laid on the towel.

"Cryptic much?" The blond said dryly. "Okay, let's play your little game. You owe me for that, though."

"Don't worry. I'll pay." The teeth flashed a quick smile. "With interest."

"You will certainly try." He snorted, turning away.

"Just make them."

"Yeah, yeah. I'm going, I'm going." He grumbled. "I swear I-"

"Ah, just one thing."

The blond blinked, turning, only to see showing that the neo-girl was true to her word. There were no tan lines over the golden-bronze sheen that took over the usually pale skin, not even an inch of it, as it sported the tan proudly from head to toe. "Mind putting the oil on my back? I can never get all the spots right alone."


Naruto puffed on the pipe slowly, staring into space blankly as the clones moved around the small makeshift workshop, removing the pieces of the table, placing scrolls in the correct positions and slowly completing a large array that covered all of the floor and some of the walls.

"Whoo... Making me use that..." He tsked, putting the pipe away. "What is that bastard thinking? Whimsical little bitch."

Still, he had to admit, he was curious. Not so much if he was capable of doing what she requested - since he knew he was, even if there was less time than usual - but for what Sasuke had planned.

He was far too much of a curious guy for his own good.

"...feh." He snorted, crackling his knuckles as the clones finished. "No way around it, I guess. Let's just see what we can do here and now, eh?"

The clones dispersed into smoke as one. They wouldn't help him here at all, not with what he was about to do.

He inspected the seal critically. There was not enough space here, but he'd rather do it in controlled conditions, not where an errant burst of water might interrupt him. Not like he had time or the tools to set up a barrier for that, anyway.

There was not enough space to set up a full array, not even nearly - but the first two circles would do for that. Not like he created something massive or all that difficult. The only problem was time... and Kyuubi's energy, of course.

But he could work with that.

"Well... Let's open up this box, and let the sea of miracles out, eh?" The blond murmured, putting both his hands on the center of the array.

One by one, each intricate symbol slowly filled with power, a faint blue haze rising at the inner spokes of the giant wheel. Not all seals were circular - he actually preferred the hexagonal design, considering he had the power to burn, but in this case he'd be using so much power that containment was an issue. Kyuubi's power was not controlled easily, even by him. Hell, the best he could do, really, was to direct it in the way he wanted it to go. How it would do what it was supposed to... Ah, now that was a gamble.

People saw 'jinchuuriki' and they thought 'power'. Well that, or monster, but that wasn't really relevant - he had come into terms with what and who he was a long, long time ago. If they didn't like it, tough shit.

When it came to the power aspect, though, it was far trickier. Jutsu could be controlled, as they used the body as the medium. Seals... Well, not so much.

The only way was to create an overpowered array, at least three times larger than whatever was needed, and create one, straight and narrow path for the chakra to go - and pray it didn't go haywire and fry the edges. In the case of the more complicated arrays, however, that was not exactly an option - not when it was set up to perform several functions almost simultaneously. Hence the gamble part.

There were, however, ways to catch the attention of Fortune and make her smile on you, if you had enough skill. If you had the skill, the instinct and courage bordering on insanity, you didn't just get her to smile at you, but to actually have her lips touch yours with passion and blessing.

Naruto had the skills, the instinct, the power and courage that went past borders ordinary people called sanity a long time ago. He wasn't willing to settle for a smile or a kiss - he was going to have Lady Luck naked, eager and moaning his name tonight.

The array crackled as Naruto's blue eyes darkened into violet, the hue of the glow matching his pupils. The nails lengthened, even as the blond slashed his hands open, letting the blood fall.

"Come on, give me a kiss, eh?" He smirked, as his pupils slitted. "Give me the entire night!" The blond chuckled as his nails smeared the blood into the intricate pattern he spent last hour painstakingly grafting into metal. "Seisei Fuuinjutsu: GENSEN!"

The scrolls erupted into flame, their ash falling into the ink, blood, mixing together as the edges of the seal lit up with a crimson haze.

Naruto's skin paled, the violet eyes turning crimson, each heavy breath louder, the vestiges of steam rising from his mouth.

The blond faded into white, the child fat burning out, fading away, giving way to sharper, vaguely animalistic features. The slight tan and natural, pinkish flush faded as well, even as the whisker marks on his cheeks thinned, but curved, looking more like some form of an ornate tattoo.

Naruto cursed as he felt the shirt on his back burning as the containment seals started to come into play.

'Fuck! I forgot about that little side effect...!'

One by one, the spokes of the seal started to slide over the floor. At first slowly, but then faster with each bit of chakra the array drank up.

The blond winced as the empowered chakra pattern made its way over his hand, then up it. Rune after rune, symbol after symbol, the imprint was made, the spider web of seals over his body matching the swirling, evolving chaos happening on the floor.

'..one day, I'll make it painless if it kills me!' Naruto swore. 'This son of a bitch hurts like fuck before it calms down!'

Still...

"Oooh. Shiiiiny!" He grinned as the seal started to stabilize, settling on slow turns of a more jagged, yet far more intricate spider's web that shifted slowly, never holding one shape for too long. The initial mad glow was now muted, as the power flowed evenly and steadily between the internal arrays.

The now-bleached blond stood up, and looked at the shifting, crackling web with satisfaction.

"Now, let's see how many waves can I make on this Sea of Miracles, eh?"


Sasuke frowned, balancing the kunai on her finger. She could pretend to tan all she liked but it was impossible to let her senses rest. Reinforced or not, sealed or not - Naruto was like a bonfire. One that burned fast, strong and at a rate humans were not supposed to.

The tip of the blade stood still, before spinning on its axis. Despite the speed picking up with each moment, her finger remained untouched - a hair thin layer of chakra both holding the weapon stuck to her skin and rotating it. She could do the same with swords as well. Pity it could only go so far as armor.

Still, the rebound trick was good. Taijutsu specialists got a nasty shock when she pulled that on them.

Sasuke smirked.

Of course, it ate chakra like hell, but after so long her instincts were better than her sharingan at feeling the pace of combat.

"Though it is a shame the frame can't always keep up." She looked critically at her naked body critically. Her form was taut and smooth - fine bones and curves that were for speed rather than power - that was the lithe build of the Uchiha. The breasts were a little bigger than usual Uchiha female she remembered, but the taut stomach offset that nicely. The play of the muscles right under the skin fascinated her - it seemed soft and smooth, with just a hint of tone and then she flexed a little... and suddenly it was all taut and dangerous - a beautiful piece of death in a slightly tanned package. "Heh."

So she was vain. But, really - was it vanity? She looked good. Handsome as a man, gorgeous as a woman - the best of both worlds, no matter how you looked at it. She always was. She always had, and it wasn't just her bragging - it was a fact. She earned it. With blood, sweat, pain, heartbreak and sorrow, and quite a bit of schizophrenia at one point or another. She could look in the mirror and be comfortable with what she saw. No more ghosts, no more phantoms. Just Sasuke.

No matter how they hated the endless cycles of repeats at one point there was one, undeniable truth.

She could smile now, and she could really mean it.

For that, if nothing else, she was grateful each time she woke up.

The doors to the cabin didn't so much as slam open, as just opened. They were followed by the familiar hissing sound of the opened beer and a noisy swallow.

"Nine hours, thirty minutes." She smiled, putting the sunglasses down as she slinked off the towel gracefully. "I told you."

Naruto snorted and Sasuke quirked an eyebrow. The blond was... not so blond anymore. The hair were a color of very faded straw now, and his form didn't so much look taller, as it gained some animalistic aspect that was usually just hinted at. The baby fat was mostly gone, giving his features a sharper, more mature look which would be odd on a young teenager if she hadn't see it so many times before. The frame was slightly more solid, the muscles more pronounced which added odd sort of almost... grace, as odd as it sounded. That, she knew, was not Kyuubi. It was Naruto - how he would look in a few years if he aged normally. They did many things in their spare time - Sasuke once picked up the concept of age as a way to make her illusions as realistic as possible - which led, oddly enough, to sculpture, but that was another story altogether. She knew that age wouldn't bring much change to Naruto - he would always look younger than he was. He was no bishounen - there was too much sharpness mixed into that. But she was sure that any of the women knew just how he'd look fairly soon, they'd be more than interested.

The other changes, like the whisker marks thinning, but deepening and gaining that faint, tattoo-like quality, the slitted violet pupils... Oh, that was all Kyuubi. The color was fading slightly - Sasuke knew Naruto well enough to calculate, considering the backlash from the seal was felt all over the ship, but if his eyes were still slitted, that meant the power was still there. In combat, changes faded rather swiftly - when he was crafting, the constant attempts to control the power and his own chakra made it linger for a time.

Considering how pale he was, the sealing was far from a simple affair.

She gave him a once over, noticing the faint burns on his hands, as well as shredded, frayed state of his clothes. "The lengths you go to to get rid of the clothes I pick for you are simply astonishing." The kunoichi said with a sigh.

"Yes, well, you know me." The blond slumped, sitting on the deck heavily. "Not much for half measures. Never was."

"True enough." The Uchiha heiress chuckled, cocking her head to the side. "Burns? That is a bit much."

"I didn't have the mesh." He muttered tiredly. "I had to make one from scratch, and you know how it goes with that damned Gensen seal."

"So it is done?"

"Formed, sewn, shaped, sealed and stamped." Naruto took a large chug of his beer. "Damn, I even painted them black for you. Ha!" He pointed at the neo-girl. "You owe me, bitch!"

"So I do." She chuckled. "May I?"

"Sure, Why the hell not. They're yours." He shrugged, before throwing her a pair of fingerless, matte-black gloves. "Knock yourself out."

The Uchiha grabbed them deftly, stiffening slightly as her hands closed on the items, the quickening setting off almost at once. It was not something one could easily describe - the very moment the seals inside the gloves, and the power they contained, came into contact with her, she could feel it. The tingle starting somewhere around her fingers, before spiraling upwards, halfway between a shock and a burn.

The feeling of vertigo came after, making her slightly dizzy. The mix of chakra, of power, of the bijuu, human and the seals with her own... For anyone else, it would be painful to touch it, no matter hold it. Lethal, if they tried to use it - Kyuubi's power, however tempting, was toxic. Sasuke could bear it, though. The enhanced Oiroke was what led them to the answer - the first time the technique became what it really was. The precedence, a highly dangerous, insane one, was made some time later. The second time, it was intentional, and as weird as it was unexpected. Time and time again, as they made it, as they used it...

Naruto was reluctant, but it was an ideal way to train - burdening her chakra system, overburning it to allow for a quick boost in power - it fried her chakra system several times over, but the answer was there.

She took, as it was freely given, even if unintentional at first. She took that... and a little more, though Naruto knew and said nothing. She didn't either, but it was there. The... adaptation to the power was not something that was easy, or painless, but given second hand, she could do it. It was a little like that cursed seal of Orochimaru's, only not as crudely brutish, yet far more brutal in its own way.

What was left...

Sasuke smiled as the violet haze rose for a briefest of seconds around the gloves, mixing with the blue sheen of her own chakra to create a more vibrant shade then the heavy, dark one contained in the seals. She could feel them, each little grove and fold in the pattern as it almost hummed in her hands. It was not the gloves that were so complicated - it was actually a fairly simple, if extremely expensive piece of shinobi equipment made in a similar way the chakra paper was, they were the ninjutsu master's answer to chakra blades, and their equivalent, after a fashion. Their price equaled a price of one good chakra blade, and considering the limits and flaws, they far from the most popular, or useful tools around.

These were even worse, she knew. The power contained in them, the seals, the chakra used in the making... They'd be impossible to control at best, highly toxic at worst.

But she could wield the very same power with no seals, no barriers or restraints save her own will - she had it etched in her soul, time and time again. For her, it was like coming home as she slipped the gloves on. The metal of the mesh was covered in cloth, but still cold, though it warmed quickly. Despite the mesh, however, it was as flexible as silk, even if sturdy enough to block a kunai.

"In those rare moments... I can really believe you are a genius, Naruto." She said in awe.

Naruto had an idea, long ago, to do something most smiths wouldn't dare to - to weld seals permanently into the very form of the mesh, shaping it to be one big array. Not exactly a safe, or reasonable thing as far as traditional chakra smithing and sealing was concerned, but then they were tailored for one chakra system only. Naruto did such exclusives for her so frequently he could probably be able to draw her entire chakra system with his eyes closed.

"Have fun, bitch."

"Oh, I intend to." The violet spark danced, the faint haze glistening off the sweaty body for a moment. "I intend to."

The blond chuckled, combing his hand through the sweat matted hair.

"Fire in your blood, hmm?"

"Indeed." She smirked. "Now, Naruto, time to get a shower, get into festive clothes - we have a religious pilgrimage to make!"


"Ow. Not so TIGHT!"

"Oh stop whining, you big baby." Sasuke muttered, the dexterous hands deftly tightening the collar. "You get burned, cut, stabbed or flat out mutilated and you grin, so bear it like a man."

"I'm not WHINING." He muttered, "This stuff is just... uncomfortable." He looked at the shirt dubiously, as Sasuke tightened the more traditional garment over the silk. "Are you sure that-"

"Yes I am sure."

"But-"

"No you can't."

"But if I-"

"It won't."

"But I really-"

"I don't care."

"Are you really sure it-"

"Yes, it is sturdy enough." She scowled. "I told you not to wear this orange monstrosity, didn't I? So suffer."

"Geez, those are just monks of Jashin. Whom we will slaughter ignobly and with much prejudice anyway, after stealing their holy relics, desecrating the temple, ransacking the treasury - yadda yadda yadda and a side order of ramen." The blond rolled his eyes. "Who cares!"

Sasuke gave him a flat look.

"...All right, I'll shut up already. Geez!" Naruto said with exasperation, before blinking. In Sasuke's hands was a long, rather billowy mantle, with something that looked like a... cowl? "Okay, isn't that a bit much?" He asked with a frown.

"You were the one who wanted to go for intimidation." The neo-girl smirked.

"Yeah, but this is so-"

"Who is the genjutsu master here?" Sasuke scoffed.

"...This is so cliche..." The blond sighed forlornly. "I feel like a reject from a fairy tale, or some inane book for children."

"Yes, because a blindingly orange haori with a fire pattern on the sleeves is so much better." She said flatly. "My eyes hurt just by looking at that... thing."

"Yeah, I know! It was awesome!" The jinchuuriki nodded enthusiastically with a glint in his eye.

Sasuke halted before looking at Naruto.

"Excuse me?"

"You think I wore orange just because I liked it?" Naruto scoffed. "Gimmie a break, bastard. Sure, orange is an awesome color and all, but even I won't have almost an entire wardrobe in orange without some reason!"

"You said that before, but aside from insulting someone's sense of fashion to cause a heart attack, I don't see how it helps." She said dryly.

"Orange, if looked at too long, gives people headaches." The blond explained in a 'duh' tone of voice.

"I guess if someone looked at it for too long..." The kunoichi said thoughtfully. "But it'd have to be someone who watched... you..." She trailed off at the gleeful smile Naruto gave her.

"Keimu Butai really didn't like me." Naruto said cheerfully. "I heard that some guys actually cried when they had to watch me for long."

Sasuke looked at her friend for a long moment.

"Weren't you an adorable kid." She said finally. "No wonder the officers froth at the mouth at the mere mention of your name."

"It is a gift." Naruto shrugged modestly.


The strokes of the brush were calm and even, the calligraphy flawless and beautiful, symbol after symbol etched on the paper with flowing quality that one would expect of the master of the art and billowing sleeves that didn't disturb the ink, nor even touched paper while swaying hypnotically with their silent rhythm.

"Zukotsu temple, hmm...? The great Temple of the Skulls..." Naruto leaned on the railing, the long cloak flowing down from his shoulders and moving in the evening breeze as he looked at the island. "Man... this place is just the pinnacle of bad taste."

Sasuke hummed, not bothering to look up from the scroll.

"I mean... Building that stupid temple up in the mountains is one thing, but..." The blond sighed, looking a the rocky desolate wasteland. The few brushes and patches of vegetation that managed to survive, were pitifully small and almost withered, hanging to life with the shearest of threads. "That kind of place... It pisses me off." Naruto scowled.

"Kitsune are creatures of the forests, Naruto." Sasuke said absently "That place feels wrong to you, and not just because you hate those monks."

"I wonder if that is why that furball attacked Konoha." The jinchuuriki frowned thoughtfully. "Mokuton... It would explain a lot. Hmm. It is the natural power, far more natural than any ninja technique... and far more dangerous."

The kunoichi blinked, looking up from her scroll.

"What do you mean?"

"Mokuton... the real Mokuton, not the mockery that idiot Tenzo uses, is different from normal ninja skills." Naruto rubbed his chin. "Remember when I told you Konoha is just one fucking huge seal?"

"Yes. It was because of Mokuton, right?" She cocked her head. "Something about using chakra to form the very land. But Tenzo can do exactly the same, right? He even copied Shodai's techniques."

"Yes. Exactly that. I did the analysis of the after effects left by the Shodai, and what Tenzo uses - outwardly it is the same thing, but when it comes to details... I didn't understand until I succeeded with Keisei. Tenzo can call what he uses 'Mokuton' but it isn't the real thing. Only thing he can really do, is combining the chakra types, that he got from Shodai's DNA... and I suspect from his own affinity. Which would explain how he survived while the others did not, come to think about it..." The blond muttered. "Anyway, Mokuton isn't about control, or force at all."

"Shodai controlled trees. He made them grow." The kunoichi pointed out.

"No. That's what Tenzo does, and what ninja described it as. But Tenzo's work doesn't leave the natural folds in the leylines. Shodai's did."

"What?" Sasuke blinked. "But it is the same power. How could-"

"I told you. It is not Mokuton, not by a long shot." The blond shook his head. "No. I couldn't catch it for years... I probably wouldn't have if not for that... you know..." He muttered with embarrassment. "That thing."

"Ah. That 'thing' wouldn't be blowing up a nice chunk of Fire Country and Konoha with it?" She said dryly.

"Accident! That was an ACCIDENT, dammit!" The young seal master seethed. "And... it was a quirk of circumstances anyway. That resonance... It was a million in one possibility. I doubt I'd be able to do anything like that ever again. But still, it showed me something very interesting. You see... Shodai didn't control nature. He used chakra, yes - but even a man as powerful as he was supposed to be... No man has enough power to build something as large as Konoha, carve it into the forest in one day? Impossible. A bijuu would be hard pressed to do that."

"Well, you know how legends get." Sasuke shrugged. "Stories grow. Save a girl from a pair of bandits in an impressive way, and ten years later the girl becomes a noblewoman, and the bandits are a platoon of evil ninja. Another fifty years, and the girl is the daimyo's daughter and the pair of thugs becomes an army, with some overly elaborate intrigue thrown in the middle."

"I thought so too, until I saw those proto seals. Those... they are unlike anything ever done, built or designed. There is nothing... normal about them."

"Naruto, seal masters differ in styles, you said so yourself. Your seals are completely different as well." The kunoichi sighed. "You yourself said that when it comes to the real Seal Masters, their work is like a fingerprint - unlike anything else."

"No. It is not like that. Not exactly. All seals share some elements. The cores are always similar. Vaguely sometimes, but there are some things that make them all kin, after a fashion. One art - many styles. The proto seals all over Konoha, the part where Shodai made them... They are unlike anything I have ever seen. They are not even seals at all." He rubbed his chin. "If I had to guess... There is nothing 'human' in them. Or rather, there is little human in it, almost indistinguishable from 'other'."

"Are you saying Shodai wasn't human?" Sasuke blinked.

"No. He was human, very much so. It just shows what I've been suspecting then." Naruto said with satisfaction. "I didn't know for sure, not until I started completing the interlock arrays for Keisei." Naruto smiled as the siren jumped out of the water at the mention of her name, landing gracefully next to her master, a curious expression on her face. "Yes, just like you, my beauty." The summon smiled brightly, leaning and giving Naruto a hug.

Sasuke cocked her head to the side. She was still amazed just how lifelike the quasi-summon was. While she didn't speak - though Sasuke didn't know of she couldn't or simply preferred not to - she seemed to be almost disturbingly intelligent, understanding not only words, but actually managing to read Naruto's emotional states. Hell, she seemed to understand emotional nuances of people - it was, for all intents and purposes, as if she was a real being, not just a highly sophisticated seal array and chakra given flesh.

"How did making her help you?" The kunoichi asked curiously.

"See, Sasuke, the key was understanding what Mokuton does." He turned to the neo-girl. "Have you ever wondered just why did I create her like that? Using Suiton, and water and calling her the 'Queen of the Current'?"

"Suiton is your weak point." Sasuke shrugged. "And you said it was easier."

"Yes. 'Cause water is everywhere, there is 'form' for her everywhere." He nodded. "But that's not all. Suiton. Water. That is why she is capable of using Suiton jutsu of her own, like normal summons." Naruto put his hand on the siren's face, and Keisei closed her eyes, a vague purring sound making from her throat, almost like a satisfied... chuckle? "See, what Shodai did... It wasn't 'control'. What he did, was 'give' power, and give the 'direction'.

The black eyes widened.

"...What...?"

This was ridiculous. Any jutsu had to be controlled! Any jutsu. Or it either backfired, or didn't work! Just powering a jutsu, and then giving nothing but a vague direction... This was like making a perfectly balanced kunai with a blunt tip and no edge - completely useless.

"Have you ever wondered, why Konoha keeps forests even so close to the village? Sure, it is a nice natural barrier, but also a security risk. Yet they do. And more, why the hell are there areas next to the village that the permission to build in is never given? Every Hokage enforces that almost religiously, ever since the first day Konoha had been founded."

Sasuke frowned, confused.

"But Inuzuka have forests that they use."

That was true. Ironically, though being a noble clan less powerful than Hyuuga, or Uchiha in their heyday, Inuzuka had the largest amount of the grounds in Konoha, and out of it.

"Forests they don't build in. Forests they don't cut a single tree out of. More - most people are not only not allowed - Inuzuka get pissed when someone tries to train with jutsu there, or even hunt." There was glint in Naruto's eyes, that familiar 'I-know-something-that-you-don't-ha-ha!' glint she knew well. "And my, what a damn coincidence! Aside from the Hokage Tower - which stands completely unchanged since the day Shodai erected it, the largest concentration of leylines is there." He chuckled. "See the strange pattern?"

"Well, the Inuzuka were, supposedly, living there even before Konoha was founded..." Sasuke frowned.

"Yeah. And I did some digging in the archives." The blond smirked. "Did you know that the Shodai's first step in using Mokuton to create Konoha, first act, wasn't to raise the Hokage Tower... but to go to that very forest, and stay there for a time? And then... poof! A village! Cute as you please!" His smirk widened. "Now doesn't that tell you something?"

"So, he used Mokuton from there." Sasuke said thoughtfully. "But aside from that, what is so special about it?"

"A proof, Sasuke. A proof that Mokuton was more than most people think it was." The blond said with satisfaction. "The eternal bane on sacrificing some areas, the proto seals, the odd fact that Konoha is rife with leylines, the fact that Mokuton, strangely enough, wasn't inherited by anyone of Shodai's bloodline... and yet the last living descendant has a talent at healing people that isn't just skill and ability, but borders on a freaking bloodlimit." He shook his head. "It was all so damn simple - we, and all of the others, were simply too fucking blind to see!" The seal master laughed exuberantly, just like the times he pulled a successful prank. "Mokuton, Sasuke, the wood element isn't about 'control' and 'use' at ALL! In fact, it isn't even, technically, the 'wood' element! What Shodai did, it isn't a ninja art at all - he didn't 'use' the nature - it worked with him!"

"...what?"

"He made... a 'deal' isn't the best word - but somehow, he convinced the very ground that would become Konoha to help him, to work with him. How he did it, I have no idea, but I have some theories." He looked at Keisei fondly. "And her, of course, my beloved Queen of the Current."

The Siren chuckled softly and Sasuke just stared as she hugged Naruto tighter.

It was an odd sound. Very much so. A little bit like a chime water fountain would make, but interwoven with musical, harmonious quality that was just captivating.

The Siren smiled brightly, and for a moment, Sasuke was struck both by the strangely, almost disturbingly human quality of that smile, as well as the pure, inhuman beauty that accompanied it.

She nodded to Sasuke, something between a bow, a greeting and acknowledgment, before rubbing her face on Naruto's cheek and somersaulting back into the water.

Sasuke looked at her blond friend for a long moment, before shaking her head slowly.

In those rare moments, she doubted that she was the more changed by the repeats than Naruto, no matter their quirks acquired over the years.

'Though... Wasn't it in him already before?'

She smiled, shaking her head again with a soft chuckle.

'That's Naruto for you. Passion in everything he does... or creates.'

"What was that, bastard?" The jinchuuriki asked, eyes squinty, face in that comically vulpine expression the Uchiha knew well.

"Nothing, Naruto. Nothing at all." Sasuke chuckled, leaning back over her scroll. "Just the usual."

"Oh. That's okay then." The blond relaxed, smiling, before he turned to the panorama of the island. "So, what are you planning?"

"Oh?" Sasuke quirked an eyebrow. "And what makes you think I plan anything more than usual, hmm?"

"For example the fact that you have that stuff on you?" He pointed at the kimono, and the crimson red hakama lazily. "Miko much?"

She laughed.

"Oh that old thing? It looks good on me, doesn't it?"

"Sasuke, looking like that, everything looks good on you." The blond rolled his eyes.

"My, my." She smirked. "So heartfelt, abrupt and honest... There might be some hope for you yet."

"Whatever." Naruto waved his hand. "Where did you get it, anyway?"

"I always get a set. Not proper for a priestess not to have one, you know." Sasuke shrugged.

The jinchuuriki blinked.

"You mean it is a real-?"

"Remember that pilgrimage thing?"

The blond nodded. Sasuke went through a period of, delicately put, going a bit crazy - more than usual that is. The feeling of helpless guilt and the first semi-successful try of facing Itachi... Naruto never asked why exactly Sasuke fell into that depression, but considering the sheer amount of blood he had on his clothes then - none of it his - and the fact Itachi was vaporised by seventeen thousand explosive tags, and revealed to be just that cheapass clone technique... Sasuke had a strangely haunted look in his eyes and just... broke.

Naruto didn't ask, but he had a good idea what happened even before Sasuke finally told him, a few repeats later. Before that, he just went into Oiroke and refused to so much as become a man again almost hysterically, no matter what Naruto tried, and kept on wandering, or just sitting with Naruto in sight, giving him the strangest look he had ever seen from the bastard until then - and that was saying something, considering they had some repeats behind them by then.

It was like the Uchiha refused to lose sight of him - for whatever reason. Later he sort of understood, but then... It was really freaky. After the whole deal, Sasuke refused to touch anything ninja related for quite a bit, instead choosing to visit some shrines, and monasteries, learning to meditate to just... deal. That was where the Uchiha learned his - or rather hers, since she still stubbornly refused to leave the Oiroke then - sword style. The result was a calmer, more relaxed Sasuke. And strangely enough, a far more vicious one.

He blinked.

"You actually-?"

"Yes. Technically, it sticks." She chuckled, smoothing the kimono. "I told you - it is ironic stuff, all the way."

"Man... You weren't kidding." Naruto said with wonder. "Fire... huh? Now I kinda can get it, you know?"

"I told you - you have all the pieces. Just let them assemble." She made a last stroke with flourish, before rolling the scroll and putting it away in the secure case that she sealed straight into the deck. "Let them become whole on their own."

"Heh. This just might be fun." Naruto smiled. "Consecration and conflagration and immolation..." He snapped his fingers, a card appearing. He looked at it before chuckling and flicking it to Sasuke. "Heh. Fun, fun all the way."

The Uchiha frowned, grabbing it, before smiling as she saw The Priestess.

"More than you think." Sasuke twirled the card, before putting it into her sleeve. "More than you think, dead last. I promise you that."

"Hoo..." The smirk on Naruto's face widened. "I'll hold you to that." The jinchuuriki turned to the island. "So, how do you want to do this? Since we want that little temple thing under it we can't go an blow it all too hell, like we usually do."

"I'll need you for that. If I am to get the sword..."

"A distraction, huh?" He squinted, looking at the distant temple. "I can work with that."

"Yes. Just wait until the right moment." She smiled mischievously. "Make it grand, Naruto. Make it so big even those fanatics will give you their attention. Then I'll be able to work those seals and get the sword."

"Like that time in Snow, huh? Sorta explains the cloak." He cocked his head, looking at the large mantle. "Though I doubt I look like some Hero of Justice in that."

"Then work it from the other side." The kunoichi shrugged. "Be creative, Naruto." She smiled mischievously. "You know you want to."

"Sure I do." He chuckled nastily. "With those fanatics... Oh, I think I have something that'll get their attention and hold it." He eyed the traditional outfit Sasuke had on, the smirk widening. "Oh, I have an idea or two, you can bet on it."

"No explosions, though. We don't want to collapse that thing." She warned.

"Facing them like that, huh?" The blond rubbed his chin. "And I can't really use any jutsu right now, with that stuff all boiling inside it'd be just destruction, no middle ground."

"Think of it as a challenge." Sasuke shrugged.

"Challenge? From those violence-obsessed, fanatical freaks?" Naruto snorted. "Give me a break. I won't even have to unseal my 'arsenal' for that."

"Won't have to?" The girl quirked an eyebrow with amusement. "Or is it that you simply don't have it?"

"...So okay, I might have a little shortage in that." He admitted with embarrassment. "Still, it wasn't like I expected something like this."

"Oh, isn't that the other way of saying you were simply lazy and wanted to whore and drink all trip long?" Sasuke said cheerfully,

"Like you wanted to do anything else."

"I am not a frustrated little dead last who can't get a sexy little Inuzuka into the sack and gets stabbitied each time he tries to catch a glimpse, mm?" The fan snapped open, covering Sasuke's mouth in a mockery of polite manners. "Such a naughty boy you are, ohohohoho!"

Naruto glared at his friend, eyebrow twitching.

"I do so despise you." He said darkly. "You know that, right?"


The smoke of the summoning was faint - but not a wonder considering just what he was summoning.

The shadows, already long because of the swiftly approaching evening, darkened a little bit more as the two rolls of cloth unfurled.

The two black spaces slinked back, unrolling over the floor.

Naruto smirked.

They weren't the strongest or the fastest, but that was not their role. With those two cloth wraiths, there would be silence, and a cloak of darkness over the Enterprise. And he really didn't envy anyone who walked here uninvited - getting wrung by those things... Well, he was in a nasty mood when he designed them for the first time, which showed. Lousy attackers, but excellent traps. They had no intelligence, besides what they were designed to do. But what they did do, they did like a charm.

He chuckled, grabbing one of the Mist rebreathers he bought on Sunflower and mounting it over his face as he jumped down.

The water swirled, forming a whirlpool around him as Keisei swam up, smiling.

"Take me to the harbor. Underwater."

The summon nodded, grabbing him in a tight hug, before diving under surface and shooting forward faster than Enterprise ever could.

Naruti smiled under his rebreather. He really created something magnificent when he designed her - she exceeded his every expectation.

'You want a distraction, Sasuke? No problem. I'll give all the distraction you might need here.'


The neo girl traveled slowly - or as slowly as ninja running swiftly and silently over the surface of the water could. Minor genjutsu coated her presence, but she knew soon she'd have to rely on the good, old fashioned stealth. Fanatical and unreasonable bunch priests of Jashin might be, but they weren't stupid enough to leave the temple as important as the Zukotsu unguarded and bereft of security seals - they weren't exactly the most liked of sects and they knew it well.

She snorted, as her feet moved, barely touching the water.

Naruto hated those people, and with a good reason - they were a violent, bloodthirsty group of people who exercised their precious 'gifts' more on civilians and those weaker than themselves rather than face those who could truly be a threat, while boasting about their supposed 'immortality'. Sasuke knew that it was nothing but a lie - true, the unholy, bloody rituals they used were incredible, especially considering that 'immortality' trick. Problem was, that that immortality was as empty as Jashin's nihilistic ideology of death, violence and annihilation. While it gave some short-term benefits, it also took, as she and Naruto found early. Rarely did a priest of Jashin live to even the age of fifty, and not just because they tended to live rather bloody lives.

No - the rituals actually ate them from the inside, bit by bit consuming both their spirit and body, leaving the shell that was driven by bloodlust, fanaticism and empty promises. And Sasuke knew quite well they were empty - Orochimaru, as always after his immortality shtick, did quite an extensive research on the sect. It was a testament to the depravity of those 'priests' that some practices even the old snake called 'needlessly bloody' and 'exceedingly barbaric', in the notes that she and Naruto managed to steal from Oto.

Orochimaru was a monster - there was no denying that. The man was brilliant, innovative and knowledgeable. But also extremely dangerous, twisted, cynical and more than just a little insane. But, as they had found, Orochimaru never went for cruelty just for the sake of cruelty. Even if he did find some truly twisted things amusing, he always had something to gain from it and looked at his profits first.

It wasn't the fact that Jashin's religion was brutal - there were sects out there that venerated gods so dark Kyuubi would be a playful kitsune in comparison. What pissed them both off was the way they went about it. The hypocrites preached total annihilation, and still weren't even a bit shy in using their 'immortality' to emerge more or less unscathed from the conflict. If they wanted annihilation so much, why didn't they use their own wits and faith, instead of relying on what was essentially a cheap way out from the annihilation of a violent battle - the supposedly best way for any follower of Jashin to die.

'They want oblivion?' The sharingan in Sasuke's eyes blazed briefly. 'I'll oblige them. I'll give them so much of it Jyashin will choke on the spirits of his followers.'

The Zukotsu temple, the Temple of the Skull, was a dark, foreboding building with, of course, the skull motif so cliche it made Sasuke sigh with exasperation every time she saw it.

The building was a drab, painfully tasteless creation that would be considered spartan if it wasn't so damn ugly. It was also quite large, which wasn't surprising considering it was one of the main temples, and one of the very few ones that dared to operate openly. Usually, the more powerful governments spared no expense to removing those fanatics from their grounds quite permanently, but Mist was weak, rife with corruption and Jashin's sect was wealthy enough with donations from gullible or fanatical mercenaries that they could pay the Mizukage and the Mist daimyo off with little trouble. Besides, the constant scheming and unstable situation meant that Kiri probably didn't have the shinobi to spare anyway - this place was a fortress and not easily cracked.

Well, not unless you did it so many times you knew the outline and every possible trap, security system and patrol pattern by heart and could navigate it in your sleep, like Sasuke could.

They broke into that temple so many times and in so many ways it would be odd not to, really.

Coming here was never an accident, not even the first time around. Zukotsu was something akin to a treasury for the Jashin's sect - not for money, since that was stored elsewhere, but for artifacts, 'heathen' books and assorted trinkets that the hypocrite priests didn't mind hoarding anyway if they contained useful information, ancient seals, some chakra artifacts and even a summoning scroll or two.

But that didn't interest Sasuke. What she came for was stored in the very center of the temple, under the twenty four hour guard, behind the doors sealed as tight as the Wind daimyo's wallet.

More, the seals were layered in several places, each was guarded as well, and undoing just one at a time would raise an alarm that would bring entire temple of quasi-immortal fanatics ready to defend the holiest of their relics held in that spacious chamber.

In normal circumstances, getting there was flat out impossible and would be a flat out suicidal mission even for a jounin.

But behind those doors was something Sasuke wanted, something she would slaughter each and every devotee in this building for with smile on her face and song in her heart.

Well, she would have done that anyway, but the sword was as sweet a bonus as there ever was.


Naruto walked out of the water, surveying the rather empty beach critically.

'Stone, sand... not much to work with, as usual. I should have been more specific, but-

There was a surprised hiss and Naruto quirked an eyebrow to a robed monk, writhing on Keisei's trident as the summon looked at the struggling man curiously. The monk was trying to scream, but the water he was under prevented that.

Keisei pushed the weapon little deeper, and the fanatic opened his mouth in a soundless scream, before exploding from the explosive card stabbed into his body a moment earlier.

"Immortal. Yeah, riiight." The blond snorted with disgust, the fuuton scroll he unsealed already drying his clothes.

Jutsu were impossible - he'd give away his presence right away, considering Kyuubi's power would overpower any jutsu he tried to perform right now, with effects ranging form pure overkill to utterly bizarre. No. What he had now, was Keisei, the chain, some scrolls... and his newest toy, of course.

"But before that..." The blond muttered, sitting on the nearest stone and unsealing a fairly short, thin scroll with care and rolling up his sleeve, before carving several seals into it and wrapping the scrolls around the wounds.

He hissed as the blood and seals mingled, burning a painful pattern into the skin with rampant sizzling and a nauseating smell of baked flesh.

If he didn't have a jutsu, there were... alternatives. The prepared Seal Master was never without a trick or two up his sleeve, and Naruto's sleeves were wide indeed. He had many cards to play in this game and the strongest trump there was.

Keisei frowned, looking at his wounded, smoking arm unhappily.

"Don't worry." He waved her off. "It was necessary."

The seals twisted as he let the chakra through, the gust of wind lifting his now-dry cloak up slightly. He smirked pulling the cowl over his head so that most of his face was hidden from view.

"Come. We have much work to do."


Sasuke leaned on the wall, in one of the needless skull like niches of the corridor. So far, she had no problem in infiltrating the compound, but then this was the easy part. The hard part was getting to the sword silently enough that she had the time to unseal the seemingly endless stream of security jutsu woven around it and tame the temperamental blade and bind it to her. Again.

If Naruto did his job right, then all she'd have to deal with would be the guard, and the security systems - which was all she really needed.

The Uchiha frowned impatiently, looking at the acolytes wandering the drab halls.

'What is taking him so-'

She blinked as the loud sound of the bell resounded several times through the structure. The acolytes looked at each other before running like men possessed to the eastern door.

'My, aren't they in a hurry.' She quirked an eyebrow.

There was a dull, low sound Sasuke-chan recognized almost immediately, and she groaned, pinching the bridge of her nose.

'...Oh kami... I knew telling him to have it 'grand' was a mistake. I knew it. I tell him not to blow it up.. and that idiot uses the Atsoryokuha scroll?!'

She sighed, using her yo-yo to grab the nearest priest and strangle him, while kicking his compatriot in the throat, robbing him of speech or conscious thought for quite a while.

"That moron... What is he doing out there?" She grumbled, as her yo-yo's spikes ripped out the throat from another.


Naruto leaned over the tall, bald man who was now leaning on the wall, cradling his mangled arm. "There is a complex under the Zukotsu, one that wasn't built by you. Where is the entrance?"

"I will tell you nothing, blasphemer! My god will-" He screamed as the trident stabbed deeper through his collarbone.

"Your third rate little god is not here." Naruto said calmly. "I am. The trident is. And she is, too." He pointed at the Keisei.

"Blasphemer!" The fanatic glint lit up the brown eyes, as the man frothed, even as kunai that nailed him to the wall scraped against the bone and flesh. "Heathen! Summoner of soulless abominations! Jashin's fury will strike you, godless trash! You will die a thousand deaths as He grinds your very bones and flesh to dust by His mighty will, heretic!"

"Considering I never bought into that Jashin crap, I kind of can't be called heretic, moron." The blond snorted. "Besides, wasn't all that 'bones to dust' 'eternal annihilation' and so on part of your 'promised reward'?"

The fanatic froze.

"I thought so." Naruto sighed. "Man... whatever happened to the paradise, or reincarnation into a better life, or a nice, friendly goddess who'd give you a nice harem of honeys, or even her own favor if you were a good little boy, huh? Eternal annihilation? What are you, stupid?"

"BLASPHEMY! Your heathen soul will-!"

"Ah. Right. Jashin worshiper. What was I thinking?" The blond nodded, ignoring the trashing man, before turning to another one, bleeding from several deep gashes.

"The entrance to the old temple of Amaterasu. Where is it? Tell me and you just might live a little longer."

"Your threats don't scare me, fool!" The bleeding man sneered, despite the pain and countless wounds. "You can't kill me!"

Naruto cocked his head to the side.

"You really don't believe I can kill you, huh?"

"Jashin's mighty hand holds me in life and in death, godless scum!" The haughty sneer was even more pronounced - though it might have been pain.

"You know what?" Naruto said thoughtfully, rising his left arm, as the seals on it started to glow in a faint violet hue.

The man paled, before grabbing his throat even as he slammed into a wall. His mouth opened in a soundless cream, but not sound came out as the air was forced off his lungs and the immense pressure stared to build over his neck.

"I find your lack of faith... disturbing."

The loud crack and crunch of bones braking even as the neck was shattered from the pressure, leaving cracks all over the stone wall, what was formerly head now smeared all over the stone.

Naruto flexed his palm, before leveling it in front of the bald acolyte's suddenly rather pale face.

"Now, I will ask this only once." The blond, scowling. "Where is the entrance?"


Sasuke smirked as she walked into the chamber.

It was grand, ornate, majestic... and utterly tasteless.

She passed over the books, the artifacts, the jars containing kami-knows-what, and moved to the center, ignoring anything else save for a single stand with the plain shirasaya covered in several ofuda.

Even with the seals on, the closer she got, the more she could feel the muted, yet oppressive force of the weapon under the wards and specially protected wood and several thick, cold iron chains all over it.

Even as reverent as priests of Jashin were, they didn't dare to leave the sword just like that, in the open. It might have been a sacred item to them, but it was still one of the most dangerous weapons ever created. Not so much for its power - there were far more impressive blades out there, many of them much more powerful. However, if there was a sword that could be called 'evil' just because it was - this was that weapon.

"The last true Muramasa blade... Created to kill above anything else. It's been quite some time since they dared to take you, hmm?" Sasuke smirked. "At least, for you it was.".

She knew the sword wasn't really intelligent. Not in a way that one would consider a human, or even an animal. Yet certain blades had an odd sense of... awareness. Raijin had it, Samehada had it as well. And so did the Majinken - the last of the Muramasa swords, the blade that drove each and every user into a berserker path of blood and madness.

One swipe of kunai ended the life of the seals and Sasuke immediately 'heard' it. It wasn't a sound, no. More like the blood that soaked the blade, the countless lives taken and a promise of vengeance, death and battle that started to resound in her very bones even before she laid her hand on the hilt.

"Quit it." She snapped. "I know that old trick, so you are just wasting time."

The song echoed, the faint miasma that most would dismiss as wavering of the air enveloping Sasuke's hand, caressing with the burning touch of ancient will that drove the blade to kill, to end lives to-

"I said..." The sharingan blazed briefly and the floodgates...

...came...

...down.

Scream as the vengeance consumed, as vengeance burned and the hate that was and why would there be another path no death loss madness why kill kill kill but weak how could no one to help no one to hold no one to kill for not kill open the mind and see and watch and gather the bloodlust to chain to absorb to accept to-

If it was possible for the steel to scream, the Muramasa blade would have.

It broke minds. It wasn't designed to do so, but it was designed to kill and cut above all else. That was its function, its destiny and only will it had known. Will that soaked in the blood of those it killed, soaked in the lives lost to it and because of it. Hate and bloodlust that never seemed to end that made it cut and cut and cut...

Those who took it, inherited all the gathered malice, hate, anger and desire to kill it was imbued with. Blood was a powerful medium - hate, ancient and inherited along with the madness of each wielder who held it to kill, even more so. It was a promise of fury and madness that came with it, a promise of pure, deadly power.

Sasuke let the backlash slide off her, not letting even a slightest drop to pollute her spirit. She knew her hate, she knew her rage and she knew what drove her to kill. For her, Majinken had nothing to offer, save the sharpness of the superbly crafted blade.

The slender hard grabbed the sword deftly, the batto draw cutting away the chains in one, simple move before sliding it back into the sheath deftly.

"You will kill when I want you to." She said softly. "Not a moment before, not a moment after. Either that... Or I will make you scream as I break you into pieces so that you never cut anything again."

There was no answer from the cold steel, yet the seeping, oppressive power spread out, settling on the kunoichi's shoulders with the easy of strange familiarity that was there, yet not. The two priests of Jashin came running, only to lose their heads in a final, and quite permanent death as they met the two thousand years of the blood drinking steel.

Sasuke-chan smirked, sliding her finger down the hilt gently.

"Good boy." She purred.

If it was possible for the steel to purr, Majinken, the last of Muramasa killer blades would have done so.


The doors were guarded.

Naruto, cloak billowing, hand out, didn't miss a step as the fuuton seals shattered the arms of the nearest scythe wielding priest.

Another screamed as the ooze that appeared to slither out of the blond man with slitted eyes oozed down the floor and start to melt the skin off the hapless worshipers.

The trident held in a clawed hand ran through the nearest acolyte who tried to attack from behind. The siren waggled her finger playfully in a chiding gesture, before ripping man in half, leaving him screaming and convulsing on the floor.

"You will not pass, godless trash!"

"Is that so?" For the first time since entering the corridor, Naruto stopped, looking at the large number of priests, all armed and seething with killer intent he felt it even before walking inside, standing before it.

"You think we will surrender our holy knowledge to the blasphemous monster such as you?" The leader, an abbot by the looks of his ornate robe.

"If you had a brain you would have. You don't... so you all die." The jinchuuriki said with a shrug.

"Fool! We are the children of the One who Brings Oblivion, the true god of death and destruction!" The abbot spat. "From His mighty hand, the power flows down to US, to crush the unbelievers and bring the eternal and complete annihilation in His glorious name! We are legion and immortal! How do you think to stand against us?!"

Naruto calmly reached under his cowl, withdrawing the thin cylinder, only for the chakra pulse sent through it to resound with a hiss and a slight smell of ozone as the power formed the glowing shape of a blade.

The ruby glow lit the corridor faintly, but enough to reveal the smirk under the cowl.

"With force, priest. With overwhelming force!"

The jinchuuriki laughed, leaping forward, the ruby blade of the copy of the Raijin no Ken in his hand.


The dead and dying littered the corridors. At least upwards. None of the priests escaped, none could. They knew how many there were, knew exactly where they where and knew all the routes. None escaped. Some yet lived, the bloody rituals of the Jashin keeping them when others would die.

There were reinforcements coming.

They would regret it soon.

"So it really was a temple." Sasuke drew her hand over the bone altar. She shook her head. "I think I just managed to hate those guys more." The neo girl said thoughtfully. "I didn't think that it was possible, you know?"

"The monks of Jashin - the most impossible stupidity imaginable with the most hypocrisy possible in one, neat little package." Naruto shrugged. "What did you expect?"

"True." The kunoichi looked at the blond. "You done?"

"Sealed. There are some things left here but whatever is left is so damn nasty I won't be touching that with a ten meter pole." Naruto said with disgust. "Ugh. I felt like having a bath just by looking at it after I checked the... uses and.. sources of some of those things."

Sasuke frowned. Naruto wasn't exactly squeamish - but if he reacted like that...

Naruto paused, before looking up.

"Hasty bastards." He cursed, reaching for the Raijin copy, only to be stopped by Sasuke.

"No. Let me." She said softly, two one handed seals activating the gloves, another two lighting the spark.

A moment later, a colmun of violet flame rose on Sasuke's palm, giving the traditionally clad kunoichi an unreal, ethereal aura as the crackling blaze reflected in her eyes.

Naruto frowned, letting go of the copy Raijin.

The gloves, contrary to what one might thing, didn't 'make' fire. They were called 'affinity gloves' - made in a similar way to the chakra paper, they were a weapon of a ninjutsu specialist who was also a specialist at his elemental affinity. A troublesome, and dangerous weapon - they allowed one to skip almost half of the seals in the jutsu and also concentration of entire potential into one affinity. All the power, all the energy - focused in one point.

The gloves weren't exactly popular - one of those cost the same as a good quality chakra sword, they had to be tailored for an affinity, sealed up for the user and, above all, all that work would go to waste fairly quickly. The amount of power channeled through them, combined with the frail structure made them burn out quickly. Not to mention even specialist felt it was foolish to force themselves to use exclusively one type of jutsu in combat - which the gloves forced them to do, since they made any other jutsu impossible for the time they were worn.

On the hands of a katon specialist with an almost unnaturally high fire affinity, years of practice, more katon jutsu than entire libraries and knowledge how to work the gloves to the maximum effect, especially ones sealed using the tainted power of the bijuu...

"This kind of fire..." He said slowly. "You know that when you use that..."

"Oh believe me." The Uchiha smiled grimly. "I know very well."

Jutsu after a jutsu, blaze after a blaze, the violet hue consumed a little more with each second.

Sasuke, the kimono and crimson hakama untouched by the flame, the long hair free of their previous braid flailing around like a dark companion to the violet hell, danced, each step bringing calamity, each graceful move consuming a bit more. The circle of fire rose around her, not touching for a second, but burning everything in sight.

She looked at the blond, her eyes as violet as his now, that the blaze consumed them madly.

The blond sighed, before smirking.

He sent Keisei to get the boat, so she wasn't a factor. And if Sasuke wanted fire so much...

"Hell, why not?"

The runes glowed as the scroll unraveled from one arm, only to bind his wrists loosely, as he slowly completed seal after seal.

The jutsu, though it wasn't actually a jutsu, but more like summoning something he halfway sealed before and giving it a little 'kick' so to speak. Wasn't particularly flashy, even if devastating. However combined with enough fire and power, the Atsoryokuha scroll could work a lightshow unlike any other.

The air circled around him with a hiss before exploding.

"Ashes to ashes..."

Sasuke smirked, before spreading her arms.

The concentrated burst of air exploded.

The purple blaze grew, the fiery violet phoenix rising through the roof of the Zanktosu temple, incinerating any priest of the god of violence that stood it its way with a screech and unquenchable thirst only fire was capable of.

As the swirl of shunsin consumed the duo, its wings spread, the fiery phoenix swooped on the burning temple with a roar of blazing inferno, burning everything in its path.


"This is just..." The blond blinked, looking at the inferno of violet fire. "Shiiiiny..." he said, almost hypnotized by the raging fire.

The 'overkill' factor not withstanding... the violet blaze was just so damn cool to look at in such quantity...

"Yeah. It is." Sasuke burst out laughing. "Shiny!" She grabbed a bottle of sake before sitting on the deck, right next to Naruto while pouring herself and Naruto some alcohol to the cups.

"Man... that's what I call purification..." Naruto said with awe, before grabbing the cup and toasting Sasuke with a grin.

"Isn't it though?" The kunoichi said cheerfully. "Marshmallow?"

"Don't mind if I do."


TBC...


Glossary:

Zukotsu: skull

Seisen: creation, beginning, genesis

Gensen: lit. 'source'.

Atsoryokuha: lit. 'pressure wave'.