Legends of the Fox

Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto. Never will, don't want to. But it's fun to dabble!

Epilogue

After their stories are done, most heroes are given the reward of being able to grow old with their loved ones.

Uzumaki Naruto was not so lucky.

He first started noticing it when he hit twenty. He didn't feel any older than he had at sixteen, even with the burden of being Hokage. But he assumed that was just youth.

When he was thirty, and still didn't look a day over twenty, he dismissed it as being a small side effect of the Kyuubi's presence.

When he was forty, and looked under twenty-five, that was when it became obvious. He wasn't aging like the others. Like his friends. Like his wife.

Hinata was lucky enough to die of old age, something uncommon among ninjas. Naruto had long since retired from his position, though he still took the occasional mission when he was needed. His grandchildren were already grown up and having kids of their own, and the clan he'd dreamed of so much as a child was growing ever larger.

Naruto left the Leaf the day after Hinata's funeral. He never returned, walking away into the books of legend.

Over the years, he became a symbol of all that was good and safe in the world. He became a figure of myth. It was said that whenever someone was truly in need, the Yellow Flash would appear to save him. Garbed in his flame-tinged cloak, Naruto travelled the world for as long as he lived.

It is written that many centuries after Naruto's birth, a great and terrible demon rose up. It destroyed all in its path, and it was heading directly for Konoha.

The ninjas assembled a great army, and the Fire Lord lead them. They knew the bird demon would kill them all, but still they marched, praying to the Saint of Ninjas that their home be saved.

As they approached where the bird was roosting, the army came to a stop as a single old man stepped in their path.

"Stop," he said. "Do not go any further, lest you lose your lives."

"Old man," the Fire Lord replied, "We go to die. We will die for our home."

"You will not die this day," the old man said. "I will stop the demon for you, though it will cost my life. One life for many, that is a fair trade."

"Old man, I cannot let you go to your death. You have no chance against the great demon."

The old man smiled, and shook his head. He took a deep breath, and released his power. The army of the Leaf were taken aback – how could one old man be so strong?

The Fire Lord bowed his head. "You are indeed strong, I apologise for doubting you. Pray, tell me your name oh noble warrior."

"My name? My name? Why, it is Uzumaki Naruto." With a gesture across his weathered face, three whisker marks appeared on both of his cheeks.

A gasp of shock ran through the army. Surely this old man could not be the great Uzumaki Naruto? The Saint had died centuries ago, hadn't he?

The Fire Lord dropped to his knees, and the army followed suit. "My lord, we are not worthy."

The men and women of the army brought out the engraved fox emblems they wore, and held them out for Naruto to bless.

"Stand, Fire Lord. I am but an old man. Too old by far."

A young blonde ninja ran to the front line and kneeled before Naruto. "My lord, are you truly the great Naruto? Father of the Uzumaki?"

"I am an old man. But once, yes, I was the man of which you speak."

"Then I am your grandson. See, I also bear the sacred fox markings. I am the heir to the Uzumaki clan."

Naruto embraced the young man. "I am glad that my children's legacy lives on even now.

"Stand! Stand my friends!" Cried the aged Naruto. "Return to your home and your families, for I shall die that you may live!"

They did not rise. The Fire spoke with reverence in his voice. "My lord, to save your life we will gladly die. Who are we when compared to you?"

"You are young, Fire Lord. You are young. My time to die should have come centuries passed. I will hear no more of this."

And Naruto walked away. The army did not follow – to them the word of the Saint Naruto was as law. All but the Fire Lord and the young Uzumaki returned.

As they approached the demon's roost, it began to stir. And it spoke in a strange, bestial tongue to Naruto. "My brother!" it cried. "My brother! You are returned to me! I had thought you dead these long days!"

Naruto replied in the same tongue, his voice booming out louder than any human's. "My brother! I remember you fondly, brother Garuda! But my regret is that I must stop you here. Return to our home or know death!"

"Brother, your voice sounds strange. I think you are not my brother at all. I will kill you, impostor, and then I will take revenge on this world that killed my true brother!"

"I regret your words, but they were not unexpected. Let it be battle, then."

Naruto turned to the Uzumaki heir, who stood a respectful ten paces behind him. At his ancestor's glance, the man bowed his head reverently. "My child," said Naruto. "I have here something you must hold. This is very important."

Naruto handed him a bundle of cloth. Opening it, the Uzumaki discovered a sleeping baby – not even a day old. "He does not bear the markings," said the man. "He is not your child."

"No. But he and I shall forever be linked. Guard him well, and give unto me a single kunai."

He handed it over unquestioningly, but cried out when Naruto touched the sharp blade to his own flesh.

Blood poured over Naruto's hand, and with the blood came smoke. Now Naruto and his descendant stood upon the head of a great frog, larger than any building.

"Gamakichi," said Naruto. "It has been a long time, old friend."

"IT HAS INDEED." Came the voice of the frog.

"Our fathers stood like this once, long ago. And now it is our turn. Guard the children well."

And so they fought. Naruto and the frog against the demon. And after much time, and a greater display of power than had ever been seen by either the Fire Lord or the Uzumaki heir, the battle came to an end.

Naruto performed a set of seals, and stretched out his arms. He seemed to move as if in great pain, and the demon's cries echoed his exactly. And a power flowed from the demon into Naruto.

When it was over, the demon disappeared as if it had never even existed, and Naruto said weakly "Give me the child."

Holding the baby boy, the great ninja painted a spiral seal on its belly with his blood, and collapsed. The child grew hot, and the seal melted into its flesh. With a flash the child changed, a strange pattern appearing on his forehead and down over his eyes.

Naruto coughed, and the Uzumaki and the Fire Lord ran to him. They tried to utter words of comfort, but Naruto knew he was dead.

His final words were this: "Guard… the child… Raise him with… love… and he will become… your greatest… champion…"

And in the air next to the mountain, the voice of a crying child could be heard.

Author's Note: This chapter was written right when I began Legends, but never published until now. Since I'm not ever going to finish the story, I thought I'd release the chapter showing where I wanted things to end.