I'm Ganja Naraku, now with 100% of your daily fiber.

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They say the world is built on legends...Tall tales that help us make sense of things too great or too amazing to believe. They come in all forms, legends...Stories of heroism, godlike strength, terrible foes. And while there are many legends to choose from, the story you are about to be told is one of the most popular and wide spread of legends. The Legend of No Kage. The Shadow. A warrior of the greatest repute.

Although each version is different from the last and tend to contradict each other, there are a few things that are agreed upon. The first is that it has been just over four years since he first appeared, and the second is that whoever is foolish enough to catch his fearsome gaze always ends up dead soon after. And though there are endless stories of No Kage's fabled power, and they range from the reasonable belief that he is nothing more than a bedtime story to inspire young boys, to the notions that is very widely spread and believed is his ability to summon the flames of hell and is a demon in human form.

And though most people think of him as nothing more than a story, some people have very different thoughts on the matter. Some believe that he will bring them fame, power and wealth if they should tame him, while others wish to offer a home in their village in hopes he will defend their interests. These people include the leaders of the five elemental shinobi villages. With No Kage leading their forces their enemies would think twice before attacking them and business for the village would boom. With this in mind, many searches for him have been conducted, yet none have produced any results. Why? It is impossible to find someone when you have no idea what they look like. While one tale paints him as an old warrior armed with a katana, another tells his is highly muscular and is armed with saber claws that can cut through anything. All of these contradictions make locating him similar to finding a needle forever hidden in a haystack and it is impossible for anyone to know truth from fiction. However, as is true with all things there is one starting point. One thing that ties everything together.

And that is the Land of Waves.

The story goes he suddenly appeared from the mist, slaughtered a bandit attack force, and then vanished as quickly as he came. How he killed them is a matter of debate as some claim he used a staff of some sort, others his bare hands and many a simply pure black katana. It is said time and again bandits descended upon the prospering village, and time and again they were slaughtered until the first island connected to the mainland was renamed Bloodstone, as when he was finished the streets were, and some claim still are, soaked in blood.

These continuing stories of his defense of the Wave country gave way to the rumors of him being their guardian. Naturally this piqued the interest of many people who came in hopes of meeting, and possibly recruiting him. And that is where our story begins as a group of ninja consisting of Kiba Inuzuka, Shino Aburame, Hinata Hyuga, and Kurenai Yuhi of Konoha make the pilgrimage to Wave in hopes of finding The Shadow.

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"Hey..." Kiba gazed out at the bridge as he stepped out of the forest. "Didn't Kakashi's team come here?"

"I believe they aided in building this bridge." Shino stated in his ever present monotone.

Just as they were about to continue over the bridge they turned to the last member of the team who was already at one of the pillars of the bridge reading a plaque of some sorts.

"What're you reading Hinata?" Kiba yelled towards the girl, however when the girl didn't answer they started towards the girl. When they arrived they began reading what the plaque.

Here stands the Great Naruto Bridge, Named for the boy who showed the heart of a hero and in hopes that, like his courage, this bridge will never fail.

It had been four years since Naruto Uzumaki had died. During the initial mission to Wave, Kakashi's squad had been forced into conflict with Zabuza Momochi, the Demon of the Hidden Mist. After defeating him soundly, his apprentice Haku flew into a rage and he and Naruto were forced into the water. Haku's bloodline froze the water on contact and created a sphere of ice that sank the moment they went under and sinking into the depths...His body was never recovered as there was no way to reach the bottom. So his name could not be placed on the hero's monument.

All of the rookies have grown so much since the announcement... Kurenai thought somberly. It's just a shame he had to die to teach them that none of them were bulletproof. "Come on, we should get going." Kurenai coaxed them while moving towards the bridge, to which the other three nodded.

As the group entered the village they saw that in the four years since the wave mission the village had clearly prospered and changed greatly. No longer were children begging for any scraps of food they could get, but instead they were playing like normal children should, laughing and joking. The shops were booming, and there seemed to be a great amount of visitors in the village. Obviously the bridge had done its job and brought Wave out of poverty.

"Where are we staying?" Hinata asked quietly.

"We'll be staying with the family that lodged Kakashi's team four years ago, a man called Tazuna, his daughter Tsunami, and his grandson Inari. We're supposed to meet him at this village hall." Kurenai answered as they entered a large building.

xxx

"Are you sure this is where we are suppose to meet him Kurenai-sensei?" Kiba asked while scanning the area for any signs of the old man.

"For the fifth time Kiba, yes. This is where we are to meet him." Kurenai replied exasperated.

"Well, why can't he hurry it up? He's as bad as Kakashi-sensei."

"Kakashi?" An old man asked as he walked to them. "You know Kakashi?"

"Yes, why do you ask?" Shino replied.

"I'm Tazuna the Bridge-builder and mayor of this village. Let me be the first to welcome you to Bloodstone. I'm guessing you're the group I'm supposed to be meeting, ne?"

"Hai. I'm Kurenai Yuhi, and these are my students. This is Hinata Hyuga..." Kurenai introduced herself. "Shino Aburame..." She gestured to Shino. "And finally Kiba Inuzuka and his companion Akamaru." She finished while pointing out the duo.

"It's a pleasure to meet you all." Tazuna said tipping his hat. "If you'd follow me I'll show you to where you'll be staying." Turning, he started heading back down the road in the direction he had come from. After a short walk through the village they stopped outside a relatively large house. Granted it wasn't as big as the clan houses back in Konoha, but by all accounts it was large for civilians. Seeing the shocked faces on his guests he couldn't help but chuckle. "I'm guessing that you thought we'd still lived where Kakashi's squad stayed? Well, with the bridge finished and Gato dead, Wave's economy exploded, as since then me and my family have been quite well off." He said while opening the door and stepping inside with the others following closely. "Dinner should be ready soon."

They entered into what seemed to be a fairly large hallway. The hallway floor was a deep mahogany wood which looked like it had been recently varnished. There was a medium sized cream rug at the base of the stairs. The walls were painted a pale cream, with pictures hung on them. To the left of the doorway there was a simply mahogany shoe rack. Walking to the door on the right hand side of the hallway Tazuna motioned for the others to follow him. The room they entered next was obviously the living room however it appeared to be a conjoined dinning room if the table in the far side of the room was anything to go on. Again the room was large, with deep mahogany floors. And again the walls were painted a pale cream however the wall opposite the door was painted a light mocha. This wall also had a large fireplace, There was a small coffee table surrounded by two chairs and a large couch. "Make yourselves at home." Tazuna motioned for the group to relax as he headed into a room at the other end of the living room. Akamaru immediately curled up in front of the blazing fire, while the others sat on the chairs and couch.

"We'll start searching first thing in the morning." Kurenai told the others while relaxing into the chair. "For now we need to rest, we have a big day tomorrow." Everyone nodded in response.

"Dinner will be ready in about half an hour." Tazuna called reemerging in from the door he left from, followed by a young woman. "This is my daughter, Tsunami. She'll show you to your rooms."

While following the young woman up the stairs they came across a young boy, who must have been about twelve years old, while he was coming out of his room.

"Inari, these are the shinobi that'll be staying with us." Tsunami smiled introducing Inari.

"Oh. Hi." Inari nodded before running past them. "I'm gonna go train, but I promise I'll be back for dinner."

"Dinners in half an hour!" Tsunami called after him as he ran out the door.

"Training? What's he training for?" Kiba asked looking after the kid.

"Well, Inari saw Naruto as a sort of older brother and ever since then he's been training to go to the academy in the Mist Village. He knows he's older than most of the students but he promised Naruto and himself that he would, and he always says that keeping his word is his way of the ninja, as you say it." Tsunami sighed while continuing up the stairs. "We only have two spare rooms, so I'm afraid you'll have to share. There are two beds in each. I'll get you when tea is ready." She bowed slightly and left the area.

"Alright. Kiba, Shino, you two will share the first room. Hinata will stay with me."

xxx

After having dinner the group had settled in the front room talking amongst themselves.

"So what brings you to Wave? Business or pleasure?" Tazuna asked smiling.

"We were sent to look for No Kage" Hinata explained.

"Ah, more Fishers." Tazuna closed his eyes.

"Fishers?" Kiba frowned. "What's that supposed to mean?"

"It's what we call people who came here to try and fish out No Kage. We've people from all over. Why just two weeks ago saw some vagabonds in black cloaks with red clouds looking for him, odd sort. Can't place their names though..." He waved his hand. "I can already tell you that your only chance of seeing him will be during an attack and those don't happen often."

"You seem quite certain of this fact." Shino observed. "Is there any particular reason why?"

Tazuna grinned. "I know because I've talked with him."

"You've spoken with No Kage?!" Kiba shouted jumping to his feet.

"Oh yes. It was he that persuaded me to take office as mayor."

"So you can give us a description." Kurenai reasoned taking out a pad and pencil.

"Unfortunately, no. He was well covered and a mask distorted his voice. All I can tell you is he has these red, almost demon like eyes."

"Why do you want to find him?" Tsunami asked

"We have a scroll from our Hokage to deliver to him." Kurenai sighed replacing the items. "Although, it looks as though finding him will be much tougher than we believed." Almost immediately after that statement left her lips a soft melody floated through the air coming from the village. Instantly Tazuna stood up and ran to the window. People were scrambling into their homes and faint shouts and screams near the bridge could be heard.

"What the hell's going on out there?!" Kiba shouted.

Tazuna frowned. "Bandits. The flute signals his coming. A sort of final warning to any bandits." He smiled. "Seems today's your lucky day. He always appears by the bridge. If you hurry you might-" He turned finding the room empty and smiled. "be able to see him."

xxx

They had moved the moment he had said there was a chance to see him. They had to take every opportunity, every chance that No Kage may appear somewhere. "Do you really think he'll show Kurenai-sensei?" Kiba asked.

"I don't know Kiba..." Kurenai murmured. "All I know is even if he does not we have an obligation as shinobi of Konoha to assist the civilians."

Everyone nodded as the bridge came into view. There they saw a large group from the main land approaching the town. But before they could even begin to assess the numbers they were facing, single figure flickered into view. His cloak billowing in the breeze. He seemed to be engulfed in shadows and was also all that seemed to stand in the way of the group from destroying the small town.

xxx

The man obviously leading the assault stepped forward. "Stand aside!"

"Leave this place. Your kind has no business here." The man's voice growled. His face was blocked by an odd breath mask and his eyes were a deep crimson, long ebony hair flowed in the wind behind him. "If you do not turn back. You will be destroyed."

"Ha! That's some boast, we came prepared to face you No Kage! My men out number you a thousand to one!" The leader smirked obviously confident in his men.

"A thousand men?" No Kage mused as he reached down to finger his katana's hilt. "You'd be lucky to give me a work out. This is your last opportunity. Leave. I will not say it a third time." The men flew into a rage and charged, swarming No Kage. The man only shook his head pulling the sheath from his waist and letting the two golden ties flky gently in the wind as he stepped back and gripped the hilt and sheath. "So be it." His hand flickered freezing the men as a red gleam came from his eyes. Slowly the sword lit up with red chakra and lightning crackled around it. "Ataru Endgame:" And suddenly he was gone and squad Eight feared for a moment that he had abnandoned them.

Then the blood began to pour.

Cuts from nowhere began to appear all around the bandits as though some invisable force was carving them all to ribbons. Limbs were sent flyingh, heads feel freely from the necks of the dead. Blood sprayed in all directions staining the bridge in it's crimson hues. They saw him at the other end of the bridge. He flicked the blood from his sword before spinning it full circle. "Rapid Slash." Slowly he sheathed the weapon and stopped to look back at the men as they were torm literally to ribbons as the attack ended.

For the group of four the spectacle was truly a sight to behold. Kiba was in awe of the raw power radiating from the man as he stood looking down at the bodies. Shino felt somewhat sick. The stench of human blood was overpowering. Hinata was honestly dumbfounded, not entirely sure anything human could be so fast.

It was Kurenai who broke her stupor first and spoke to the man. "Are-Are you No Kage?"

The man said nothing but turned, his eyes falling on each of them finally resting on Hinata. "That would depend on who is asking." Gone from his voice, any trace of and now only a calm, somber tone. He began walking the length of the bridge tossing the larger body parts into the waters.

"My name is Kurenai Yuhi."

The man paused for a moment before returning to his task. "I've heard of you. Kurenai Yuhi, better known as Konoha's Ice Queen. You have a mastery in Genjutsu and was recently assigned to tutor Squad Eight of this year's academy graduates including..." His eyes fell on Kiba. "Kiba, heir of the Inuzuka Clan who use dogs in their jutsu and makes up a third of Konoha's hunter ninja force." He swept his eyes over to Shino. "Shino, heir to the Aburame Clan who use insects to combat their opponents and makes up another third of the Hunter force. He shifted his gaze again this time to Hinata. He didn't say anything for a bit as he surveyed her and she was sure that for an instant his eyes shifted to a light purple then back to red. "And finally Hinata, heiress of the Hyuga Clan. The Hyuga are close range specialists who target the internal organs when fighting. The Byakugan is ideal for tracking targets from long distances. Obviously your squad was created as the next generation of Tracker Ninja. That would make you ideal for attempting to locate me. A task which you have obviously succeded in." He clapped twice. "Bravo."

"How is it you know so much?" Kurenai asked not particularly fond of having people reading up on them.

"When facing any adversary the most prepared warrior always has the advantage. My job requires I keep informed on everyone who enters this domain." He stretched. "Now is there something I can help you with, or are you four just here to gawk?"

"Who are you?" Kiba blurted out.

"Who is a form." He statedmatter-of-factly, as though that answer was enough. "It follows the function of what. And what I am is a man in a mask."

"That's rather obvious obvious." Shino frowned.

"I'm sure it is." No Kage nodded. "I'm not questioning your powers of observation I'm simply remarking on the paradox of asking a masked man who he is." The group looked at one an other and could tell he was, in some form mocking them. "Regardless, if there is nothing else I should take my leave as it is very late."

"Wait." Kurenai handed him the scroll. "We were sent to find you and give you this. We would like to offer you a place in Konoha."

The Shadow rose an eyebrow as he glanced at the scroll. "Tell your Hokage I will consider it. If that is all you're here for I would ask you leave. I'm not exactly fond of newcomers. As you can imagine I have some rather bad experiences with them." He bowed polietly then vanished not leaving a trace of his presence.

xxx

Much better...