Title: Broken Cadence
Claim: Sakura Haruno and Neji Hyuga
Theme: # 27-Violin
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto, just this plot
Summary: The end of all things should have come to a close under the prevailence of peace. However, history will forever repeat itself, and the ceaseless threat of war is continuously just over the horizon.
A/N This is a new story, I'm very excited about this one. It's for the themed challenge on livejournal and though music and violins don't show up this chapter, they will later in the story. A friend of mine suggested the beginning of the plot and I took it and ran with it, which I found out is a very dangerous thing to do.
I want to thank Popping Fresh for beta'ing this and Lady Kaliska suggesting this and then putting up with me as rambled about it, trying to subdue all those little plot bunnies.
Suggested Listening: Whisper- Evanescence
Chapter one: Far Off Threats
Dim, artificial light streamed in through the sole window, adorning the unmistakably masculine bedroom, and illuminating the room and its slumbering occupants. The figure of a slim, unclad woman snuggled against the side of a man in an equal state of undress, could easily be seen in the muted light. The man himself was sleeping soundly after his intimate actions the night before with the warmth curled up next to him. The long, ordinarily pristine chocolate strands of the male's hair were strewn all around him and tangled about the slender female in such a way so that if he moved unconsciously, it would discomfort him and pull him back toward the female, whether he liked it or not. In essence, he had effectively tied himself to the figure against him.
Two sharp knocks disturbed the eerily quiet atmosphere of the room and surrounding world, waking up the slumbering form of the male. His sleepy eyes opened gradually, blinking once, and revealing pupil-less, cold, lavender tinted eyes. Carefully he disentangled himself from his bed partner, doing his best not to wake her and cause certain trouble over his absence from the room. She stirred once as his smooth tresses were extricated from her entangled wrist. The man stole silently toward the still unopened door, pausing only briefly to pull a robe over his muscular, toned body. Satisfied he was indeed decent, the pale-eyed man opened the door, swiftly and silently closing the door behind him. He definitely didn't want to wake that woman up, because she was only good for one thing, and the one thing was certainly not a companion… at least not during the day, the mahogany haired man thought contemptuously about the girl. It wouldn't bode well at all if he spoke that way out loud.
Facing the man that had woken him from his deep slumber, the man with the pallid eyes was taken aback to realize that it was his main advisor. He deeply confided and trusted in the man in front of him. When the aristocrat gathered his bearings from being greeted with the sight of his lazy advisor, he noticed, even in the dim lighting of the corridor, the dismal expression painted in the other man's eyes as well as in the cheerless tilt to his mouth. Something was most certainly wrong.
"Shikamaru, what happened?" he asked, a deep reverberation lacing the man's voice, still husky, as it hadn't been used since the evening before. The nobleman knew that whatever it had been that caused even his lazy confidant to look grim had to be extremely bad news for his domain.
"Lord Neji," the man addressed his master. "Your presence is requested on the mountain for a council meeting between all the gods," the normally languid male addressed his lord. There would be trouble when his master, the lord of the Underworld, found out the reason behind the meeting. It was likely he would be forced by the other gods into doing something the powerful lord didn't want to do.
"Shikamaru, what is this about?" Neji growled, his voice ablaze with suspicion and intimidation. However, the other male was hardly intimidated as he had known the young lord since childhood and had grown up with the fierce looks his high-born friend could pull off. Besides, he did not want to face his master's wrath should he reveal the reason for the meeting; it would cause way more trouble than Shikamaru wanted to deal up with at the moment, or rather at any time.
"It is too troublesome to tell you now, it will be better for you just to hear it at the assembly," the lethargic advisor replied as he turned and headed back through the shadows of the poorly lit hallway. He left the frustrated lord to stare at his slumped back as the extensive hallways of the mansion slowly swallowed him.
The infuriated man glared at the retreating figure until it disappeared from sight. He swiftly rotated to face his door and taking a deep breath, he willed himself to go back into the room. He donned an impassive look, turned the cool, brass door knob, and steeled himself for the commotion that would ensue momentarily. Once through the door, Neji picked up a handful of the woman's hastily discarded clothes and tossed them at the still sleeping woman on the bed. The slim figure rolled over to face him and becoming entangled in the sheet, she smiled at the vision of the beautiful male standing beside the bed.
"Get Out," were the only words that fell from the lips of the male, his cold visage plainly seen by the blond woman.
Her countenance changed in an instant, it became confused, "What do you mean? Don't you want to spend some time with me now that we slept together?" The woman had been trying for the last two years to have a relationship with this rather influential lord and when she was finally able to get him to sleep with her; she was completely confused as to why he didn't want to get to know her better afterward. The blonde's eyes widened, he couldn't mean he used her solely for sex and that he was ordering her out! The cold look on his face told the entire story though and tears clouded her murky jade eyes. She would not let them fall, she would keep her pride. She knew the answer and yet she did not want to accept that he was just discarding her after the love she had poured out and the vigilance she had displayed in pursuing him.
She sat up abruptly, the sheets pooling to her waist and exposing her, but she took no notice, it didn't matter to her right now. She knew she was foolish, but she had to get an answer, she had to know for sure, "Do I mean nothing to you at all?" She had asked her self-condemning question and the silence weighed heavy in between the two occupants, like the silence the moment before an executioner beheads a convicted criminal.
"No," was the callously delivered answer. The tears that had threatened to fall before now streamed down the woman's soft cheeks and pooled at the edge of her chin just before making a final plummet into the silken sheets. She slowly got up, disentangling herself from the bedding at the same time. He had ruined her; she wouldn't ever be able to face the public again. She was mortified and embarrassed. With red-rimmed eyes and sobs wracking her form, she grabbed her clothes and dashed from the room, still unconcerned about her nakedness.
Neji sighed-he hated almost everything about women. He hated the way they always wanted to be in a relationship, the catty ways they turned on their friends and backstabbed their best friends, that sometimes their hair was shinier than his, the tears, the annoying sultry looks they tried to use on him, and most of all--he hated that they all merely wanted to use him for his power, wealth, and influence. They were disgusting creatures, and the only reason he put up with them was so he could enjoy his occasional nights of unabashed pleasure. There were no exceptions to the rules, he had never meant a woman who didn't have at least two of the previously mentioned characteristics and he was sure that he never would. Such a woman did not exist thought Neji, and the contemplation of such a woman would be as foolish as the jade eyed woman's thoughts of love between the two of them. Not that Neji was searching for a woman companion, he had been damaged by enough women in his life to know better.
Remembering he would have to leave in a matter of minutes, the Lord of the Underworld swiftly gathered his clan robes from the small closet in the room. The white clan robes were stained a smoky saffron in the muted light. Donning the robes, the male simply discarded his navy-colored robe to the floor. He figured that one of his maids would take care of it as well as the rest of the messy room. He thought they were well paid, so it wouldn't matter what form he left his estate in. Without another spare thought, the male strode quickly into the hall and toward the direction of the sole gate in and out of the Underworld. He passed not a soul on his way out, since the souls of the dead rarely wandered this close to the gates and undoubtedly not into his palace. The palace was the gloomiest place in the kingdom. The gloom suited the young lord-he never did try to change the atmosphere, because it was a clear representation of his usual emotions and mood.
Nearing the gates, Neji was once again greeted with the sight of his trusted friend, only this time it wasn't a surprise. He walked proudly and with confident steps up to Shikamaru, only sparing the man a slight nod of the head--an indication that his majesty was ready to leave his territory. Without delay, the two companions were let out of the vast Underworld by a single set of guards, who knew without a doubt that if there were to be a delay in opening of the gate, it would be the ruler's wrath they would have to survive through.
Met by a single rowboat, the pair of gentlemen embarked on their journey and sat silently throughout the short ride on the boat. The boat itself was made of old wooden planks, and even though there were many holes lining the bottom of the small vessel, it never sank or so much had a drop of water leak. It was protected by the power of the decrepit ferryman, who in turn was protected by the power of Lord Neji. The aging and dilapidated rower made soft twinkling sounds with the dark water as the single oar dipped in and out of the slow-moving, wide river.
Safely reaching the other side, the two stepped out onto the soft mud of the riverbank, being especially careful not to let the mud seep into their shoes. They still had a ways to travel and muddied shoes would be uncomfortable and unacceptable at the meeting with all the other important lords. It was bad enough that Neji was placed in the dreariest kingdom where no other light besides fake torches penetrated the pungent musky air--to come in dirty would just be an excuse for the other deities to make wisecracks on his position, which was one thing the young lord didn't need or want at the moment. It was not that the powerful lord wasn't respected—in fact, he was greatly respected even by the other lords. He was a very powerful lord, the second most, right after Naruto, the happy-go-lucky god of the sun, sky, and music. The brunette lord never lacked women to play with, because he always had more than enough to satisfy his appetite. Naruto sometimes teased that Neji could just look at a woman and she would come running to him. The divinities never needed money, since they could have whatever they wanted on just a whim, but Neji had more than enough wealth to last him his entire immortal life.
The lord of the Underworld also had the most influence with the mortal humans and the multitude of creatures on the Earth. For the most part, it was because the mortal creatures were scared stiff of the afterlife, and it gave the male a much more leverage on them than the other gods. As for the more difficult, immortal creatures, just the fear he provided with his presence was enough to influence them. All of Neji's traits and authority over living souls granted him respect from the other gods and goddesses. Unfortunately, it didn't do anything to stop their stupid teasing. It was true he was stuck with an unpleasant, lowly, and bleak kingdom, especially for a god of his caliber, but there wasn't anything he could do about it. It was what he had inherited, in spite of his now deceased family's former power. It was the domain they had been delegated to many centuries ago.
Turning his neck toward his aid, the aristocratic lord spoke for the first time on their journey, "Did you secure the help of the centaurs to get up the mountain?"
"Of course, my lord. They should be in the clearing just up ahead," Shikamaru mumbled softly just loud enough for his lord to hear. Neji caught the message, he was far too attuned to his lazy genius of a friend and now had impeccable hearing and deciphering abilities.
Coming up on the clearing the traveling men gazed at the two centaurs that were lying in the shade of the trees, waiting for their riders to arrive. Centaurs were truly a sight to behold. They had a horse's body, with rippling smooth muscles, cloaked by russet coat of gleaming fur. The front top of the animal was more human like. A man's torso rose up from the horse flesh adorned with a human neck and head. Both centaurs were most likely related as they had similar features--they both sported the same classic facial features, with a silky rust colored coat and a matching mop of hair. Rising up on folded limbs, the half-horse beasts nodded their noble heads in respect for the lord in their presence. Not bothering to engage in small talk, the centaurs turned to face in the correct direction of the noblemen's destination on top of the mountain. They both continued to wait for the god and sandy haired elf to load their body weight onto their backs.
Seeing the cue for them to mount the animal's back, the two strode towards them, and with all the grace of an expert and an elf, they jumped up unto the half-beast's backs. Holding on with merely the grips on their powerful legs, Neji and Shikamaru were ready to go. Sensing their customer's readiness to go, the two centaurs flexed their muscles and with a mental message of agreement between the two brothers, they shot off sprinting rapidly toward their destination.
Neji held his head high and clenched his fists beside him, making small cuts in the palm of his hand. This was unacceptable! He would not marry some girl just to have an heir! The nerve of that Ino would not go unpunished--she would owe him a favor one of these days just for suggesting this merit-less idea. Neji's thoughts continued to tumble angrily through his mind, enraged at the audacity to even bring up the topic of marriage.
Tenten pleaded for her friend to understand, "Uchiha Sasuke is stirring up a crowd of civilians, and without the insurance of an heir it is unlikely that you will be able to continue ruling the Underworld."
"I never thought you of all people would endorse a marriage," Neji hissed out heatedly, reminding the goddess of her own vow of celibacy she had made and kept from a young age, nearly a century before.
"While it is true that I wish to remain chaste for eternity I do not disregard the general need for it," the goddess of hunting spat back bitterly, now wasn't the time for Neji to fight them on trivial things. She had her own reasons for celibacy, there was no way she would marry and give up her freedom. It wasn't as if they were asking Neji to do so either, since men weren't confined by their wives in the same way women were confined by their husbands.
"Why is this even a danger to the Underworld? Uchiha Sasuke can't pose such a big threat that we gods can't take care of," Neji purposely tried to goad the more masculine, competitive, and youthful gods into taking divine action against the power-thirsty Uchiha Sasuke.
"The Uchiha is stirring up the people by playing on their naïve nature. He reminds them that after you're dead there won't be anymore Hyuuga to keep the Underworld as forgiving and peaceful as it has been since your family came into power. As fearful as this has the people, Uchiha Sasuke has managed to get large crowds following him and we cannot intervene without the people rebelling and rioting. We also believe the scoundrel is secretly training some military elite to march toward the Underworld to create the very condition of instability the people are afraid of and give merit to his ridiculous ploy. His is blatantly trying to go for your position, and unless you get married we can do nothing about the situation," announced the messenger god, Kiba, who frequently brought messages back and forth between the creatures of Earth and the Gods.
Neji disregarded his words, "He doesn't have an heir either."
"No, but his family is extensive. He has no need of an heir," Shikamaru patiently reminded his Lord.
"This time Sasuke's done too much, I'll fix it this time. You won't have to marry some woman. Dattebayo!" Naruto cut into the conversation, managing to add in his favorite expression and a promise.
"Sorry, but that won't get Neji out of this. He must produce an heir," Gaara the war god spat, thus shooting Neji's dwindling hope into pieces.
Nobody had anything left to say, so all of the gods rose up from their seated positions and began heading toward their respective kingdoms. The pale eyed lord, with his fist still clenched in anger made his way swiftly out of the room and to the ever impatient centaurs that were waiting for their patrons. Shikamaru mumbled a curse sounding suspiciously like, 'troublesome' and shot off quickly trying to catch his master before he was left behind. Finally reaching his lord at the hasty pace the furious god had set he questioned, slightly panting his words, "Would you like me to start a list of all the eligible candidates for you?"
Squeezing his fists even tighter, allowing crimson fluid to mesmerizingly drip and flow in tiny rivers over his knuckles, the noble lord raised his head. He narrowed his eyes and with pride still evident in his stature he answered, "No, in fact I wish for you to bar any more females from entering my estate. The maids and cook can stay, but no other woman is to be allowed into my house."
Thanks for reading! I don't live for reviews, but some would be nice. :)