Disclaimer: I don't own Assassin's Creed or Naruto.
Author's Notes: Welcome to the prologue.
Path of the Broken Creed: The Beginning
Konohagakure no Sato, the Village Hidden in the Leaves, was a strange village. First, it was neither hidden nor a village, as it is rather hard to miss the large town, housing more than a ten thousand souls, sticking out from the forest surroundings without even an attempt to blend with nature. Second, it was an entirely militarily run village, and the leader was named the Hokage, the Fire Shadow. The four Hokage's of Konoha's past and present had been immortalized upon a large mountain that towered over the city, faces carved into the rock with such care it appeared as if the mountain had grown that way.
However, today, the awe-inspiring sight of the towering stone faces was somewhat marred by the colorful additions of another oddity of the "village," one Uzumaki Naruto. From a technical standpoint, his work was rather impressive, considering he had no artistic training (or talent, according to many) and that he was currently dangling from a jury rigged suspension cable as he put the last touches on a spiral shape on the First Hokage's cheek.
Ignoring the (in his mind) jealous yells of his Academy class on a nearby rooftop to get down, Naruto flicked the brush with one last flourish, finishing the spiral perfectly.
A familiar demonic voice rose from the crowd. "What do you think you're doing, you idiot!? Get down from there and get back to class!" Iruka-sensei was scary when he tried.
"Shit! It's Iruka-sensei! I'm so screwed!" Naruto told himself, even as he struggled with his makeshift scaffold to escape. Another yell from Iruka-sensei encouraged the effort, and with a furious burst of motion he managed to get out of the loop of rope around his waist. Holding onto it with one hand, the other holding his bucket of paint and brush, he could see that, at the top of the monument, there was a small gathering of ninja prepared to capture him once he finished climbing back up to safety.
Naruto grinned maniacally. "See ya later, suckers!" he yelled at the top of his lungs.
With that declaration, he let go of the rope, falling beneath the line of rooftops and out of Iruka-sensei's line of sight. It was over eight hundred feet from the First Hokage's cheek to the bottom of the mountain.
Of course, the footpath to the top of the mountain, located conveniently beneath the long dead Hokage's cheek was only a fifteen foot drop, and Naruto bent his knees, rolling forward as he landed to try and absorb the shock. Abandoning the bucket and brush - it was out of paint and he'd "borrowed" them anyway - Naruto set out to give his pursuers (for those on the cliff-top had seen his safe landing) a chase to remember.
In another world, Naruto would have leapt from rooftop to rooftop, eventually losing most of his pursuers by blending in with a wall before being caught by an irate Iruka. However, that preferred dramatic chase was no longer available to Naruto, who had done something wrong when he landed; his ankle hurt like hell. As it was, running was questionable, rooftop leaping impossible.
Ever one to adapt, Naruto shrugged off the pain and switched plans. If he couldn't outrun the ninja followers in a rooftop game of tag, he would have to win in a ground based game of hide and seek. Naruto was good at hide and seek.
Naruto had first ducked through a busy market square, and had only barely escaped Iruka-sensei, who knew him far too well. Naruto had done that at least three times in the past, and his teacher was becoming wise to that particular trick.
Taking a turn at a random intersection, Naruto continued his flight. He'd been told you were supposed to slow down and blend with the crowd once you'd lost direct line of sight with your pursuers, but that didn't work so well when you wore orange and had bright blond hair.
'Damnit, where can I go where Iruka-sensei would never find me!?' Naruto thought to himself, eyes roving his surroundings hurriedly, even as his feet continued to pound against the pavement, sending shooting sparks of pain up his right leg from his ankle. He wouldn't last much longer at this rate.
His eyes caught on a public library. He'd never been to a library, and from what he'd heard he would never want to. You had to be quiet, couldn't run, the lighting was pretty poor, and it was filled with books.
Perfect! No one would ever look for him in a library.
Naruto limped up to the door, the pain in his ankle catching up to him. He knew from experience that it'd get better in about an hour, as long as he didn't do anything physically active...so, find a corner of the library, take a nap, go home victorious. A good plan, as plans went.
Entering the library, he immediately noticed the librarian, an old lady with horn rimmed glasses and her graying hair pulled into a tight bun, glaring at him silently. His nerve wavered, and he almost went back outside - something about this lady's eyes were worse than the usual crowd of silently glaring villagers.
Then a book clattered to the ground, the noise seemingly echoing and amplified in the enforced quiet of the library. The old librarian immediately turned her gaze upon the man who'd been so clumsy as to disturb the silence, and Naruto immediately made the connection. When she returned her forbidding gaze to him, he adopted a questioning expression and held a finger over his lips.
His answer was tight-lipped smile and a nod before the librarian looked down to her desk, resuming her reading. Naruto nodded, though she wasn't watching, and grinned, extraordinarily pleased with himself. She didn't dislike him; she disliked anything that would disturb the solitude of this library, her holy ground. A small, somewhat scruffy kid in bright orange would seem like a likely suspect.
So as long as he was quiet and didn't disturb the sacred, dusty silence of the library, he was fine. The second he did...bad things would happen.
Well, he could hardly disturb the peace if he took a little nap in an out of the way corner, so he didn't even have to change his plan. Walking towards the back corner of the massive library, Naruto let his eyes roam over the seemingly endless shelves of books. There was no order that he could detect, though the numbers and letters on each of the shelves seemed to have ordered the books into something...he just couldn't tell what.
Picking an especially dark aisle where the artificial lighting and weak sunlight didn't penetrate into, Naruto began to sit down, back leaning against one of the shelves, his head resting comfortably on the spine of an especially thick book.
He'd just begun to nod off when a book from the top shelf bounced off of his head with a thunk before landing in his lap, face up. Naruto barely managed to hold in his exclamations of surprise and pain, but he did. That librarian was scarier than an angry Iruka-sensei.
Rubbing his head and throwing a dirty look at the book, Naruto was immediately drawn to the symbol on the cover - a dark gray triangle with a strange, curved base with a light blue background. There was no title.
Giving in to his curiosity, Naruto flipped open the book to the first page. There was a picture of a figure, running in the distance. Naruto scratched his head. This didn't seem like any sort of book he'd ever heard of before...
Flipping to the next page, Naruto saw the same figure on the same background, only slightly closer. The next page revealed the same, and Naruto quickly began to grasp the concept of the thing.
Increasing the speed of his page turnings, Naruto quickly had a miniature soundless movie playing out before his very eyes. The drawings were incredibly detailed, and were even in color. He could see the white-hooded figure running through the anonymous crowd, ducking around some, shoving others out of his way. Somewhere along the line, guards began chasing after the man, but he was too quick. Naruto continued flipping, enraptured.
Then the final page came, and it looked as if the white-hooded man, armed to the teeth with assorted knives and swords, was about to jump out of the page. Then the page erupted with bright blue light, and the white hooded figure did leap out of the page.
The man's arm cocked back, and Naruto's eyes widened as a small, hidden blade came out of a hidden wrist sheath an instant before the six inch tall assassin shoved the hidden blade into his eye before disappearing in an even brighter burst of bright blue light.
Naruto's eyes snapped open and he sat up abruptly, a cry of surprise ripping its way out of his mouth. He panted heavily, pulse racing. It took several minutes for him to calm down. 'Damn...what a weird dream.'
Then his eyes fell to his lap. The book sat there innocently, strange triangle-shaped symbol seemingly taunting him. He shoved the book to the side before a bony hand grabbed him by the shoulder.
Naruto noticed idly that the old librarian was missing the last half of her left ring finger, and shuddered slightly. Creepy old lady.
"You should treat the books with more respect, and be more quiet," she whispered sternly. Her eyes gave him a quick once over before turning to the book. Naruto saw her eyes widen slightly in surprise before she swallowed nervously. "That book is very old," she said quietly, almost to herself.
"Whatever it is, the thing gave me some freaky dream. You can keep it old lady," he muttered in response.
The hand on his shoulder tightened convulsively. "You should check it out," she said, voice rising above the normal quiet tones reserved for the library. Naruto opened his mouth to refuse, and the hand tightened further, bringing an almost painful sensation. The old lady glared into his eyes and was silent for a moment. "You should check it out," she repeated. "I insist."
Naruto nodded dumbly. That lady was scary.
Half an hour later Naruto jiggled the lock open for his apartment, still muttering to himself about stupid libraries and scary ladies and weird books. This was why he never went to the library. Nothing good could come of it.
Throwing the book on the table in his kitchenette, Naruto yawned and shucked off his zori sandals, heading for bed. He threw his jacket on his dresser, but didn't bother changing further. It was late, and despite his nap in the library, he was exhausted. At least his ankle was feeling better.
Closing his eyes, Naruto fell asleep almost instantly, a rare feat for the orange-clad boy. His apartment became strangely still, the book on his table looking extremely out of place. It was the only item of its kind in the entire apartment, though it made no threatening moves. The assassin in the pages stayed within the pages, no lights emanated forth from the book, and to all the world it appeared to be nothing more than a book with a strange cover.
How wrong the world can be.
Naruto sank into the surreal world of dreams, where the impossible is unquestioned fact. For he was Khalid, technically an unranked member of the Brotherhood. He had yet to receive a true hidden blade, and he knew he never would. Still, the Master had seen fit to give him a traditional name, Khalid, for the "eternal" nature of the Brotherhood nonetheless.
Khalid knew it was the Master's way of apologizing for being unable to grant Khalid the rank of Assassin, and he had always been grateful to the man for that. His unranked status was still a lingering wound in his pride, but the Master acknowledged his skill. Rank meant nothing compared to that. Rank was an empty name, a title. It was the holder of that rank, and their skill, that made the rank worthy of respect, not the other way around.
He tightened his right hand, feeling his fingers close into a fist. He spread his middle and ring fingers, and a moment of thought later, a hidden spike shot out of its sheath, the sharp tip protruding a half dozen inches from between his fingers. It was a comforting little feeling to have it drawn, though he was careful to keep his hand under the table and the spike out of sight. He relaxed his hand into an open palm, and the spring coils that housed the spike retracted the weapon. He was one of the few members of the Brotherhood capable of using chakra, and as such he was incapable of having his ring finger amputated to make way for a true blade; he would never again be able to make hand seals.
It was why he would never be an Assassin. The amputation of the ring finger was more than a necessary measure for the hidden blade to draw, sticking out from its concealed sheath in an Assassin's wrist and between the middle and pinky fingers. It was symbolic: the knife was your wedding ring, and the Brotherhood your spouse. You were together, and had no higher calling, until death parted you from the Brotherhood. Every time the hidden blade was drawn, it was a reaffirmation of that oath, a repetition of marriage vows. Vows Khalid would never be able to take...
Khalid forced the morose thoughts away, knowing that he would never have his finger shortened, that mark of a true Brotherhood member. He should be ashamed of the fact that he regretted it; his personal pride was less important than the Brotherhood. Obtaining a hidden blade would be a direct violation of one the Creed's three tenets: Never do anything that could bring harm to the Brotherhood. And removing a chakra user, himself, from the Brotherhood and making him "just" one more skilled Assassin would harm the Brotherhood.
He pulled his hand out from under the table and raised his drink, taking what appeared to be a long draught. In reality, only a few drops passed his lips. He detested the taste of the stuff the barkeep had given them, and a true Assassin would never drink on the job anyway. Still, it was required to blend with the crowd. The Creed was firm on that: be discreet.
Riyadh tapped him on the shoulder, breaking his train of thought. A short, very loud conversation on the poor quality of the liquor followed. By the end of it, Khalid was frowning in confusion. The target, a small-scale weapons merchant by name of Morita Kenji, was in position. The guards would change shifts in three minutes. Khalid frowned at the thought - their target wasn't exactly rich, just another link in the Templar's supply chain.
So how did he get guards? Hired watchmen weren't exactly free.
A questioning look and a subtle hand signal for "guard" earned him no immediate response. Riyadh pulled a coin out of his pocket and spun it on its side, seemingly enraptured by the flashing piece of silver. It didn't distract Khalid from the nod of confirmation.
They probably could have just leaned closer and spoken outright; it was almost dawn and the place was abandoned. Not many were willing to pay the bartender's prices for the...substance...he called liquor. It wasn't worthy of being called piss, in Khalid's opinion. Another reason for him to avoid the stuff, as if he'd needed one. The fact that the bartender let an obvious minor like Khalid inside to get that tiny bit more of business didn't exactly endear him to the man either.
Still, a job was a job, and this was the role he had to play.
Khalid waved a goodbye to his companion, adopted a drunken stagger and, after a "drunken" fall made it out of the tavern, leaving Riyadh to his own devices for the time being. He knew that in precisely four minutes, Riyadh would leave the table and follow after him.
They'd been forced to leave behind their usual outfits in favor of civilian garb while they scouted the merchant's house, and neither was particularly happy about it. Even if the only real difference was that he'd had to leave some of his larger weapons behind, he still felt naked without the gauntlets, concealing hood, leather vest, and the dagger-strewn belt. There was something to be said for having a hood that kept his blond hair and blue eyes from the prying eyes of guards - his features weren't exactly common, and made him easily identifiable. The short stature that ran in his family didn't exactly help either.
Shrugging off his discomfort, he checked the dark street. Abandoned, except for one unconscious drunk who'd been thrown out for being too rowdy. Khalid frowned at the man, lip curling with distaste before nodding to himself and turning back to the target's house. He didn't have much time left.
Resuming his drunken walk, Khalid stumbled up towards the guard, studying him carefully. The man had a thick, blunt nose and oddly thin, colorless lips. His hair was cut short, though what little there was hanging in dirty brown disarray. Slurring his voice, Khalid called out, "Hey, hey bud! Wha' happen' to yer mushta...musta...lip fur? Ya don' look li' Akira any more..." For good measure, he threw in a hiccup and a stupid grin.
The guard sighed, though Khalid could tell the man was clearly glad to have something to distract him from the monotony of his job. "That's because I'm not Akira, boyo." The guard paused to take an exaggerated whiff in Khalid's direction. "And by the smell of you, you've been to that piss hole Takeda calls a bar."
Khalid took a few steps towards the guard, waving his arms for emphasis the entire time. "O' coursh ye're Akira! Ye got tha' look on yer faysh..." he said, lowering his voice with every word. The guard reflexively leaned closer to hear better.
It was his undoing. Khalid "tripped" towards the guard, who, to his credit, immediately stepped back and reached for a dagger in his belt. Khalid abandoned the drunk act and dashed forward, low to the ground, fist lashing forwards.
He caught the guard high in the stomach, just below the sternum. The dagger clattered to the ground as the guard crumpled around Khalid's deceptively small fist, gasping for breath. A knuckle-punch to the temple later, the man was out cold. Khalid finished his sentence as he dragged the guard into the street and away from the house. "That look that just screams 'sucker.'"
Hurrying now, Khalid pulled out the half empty bottle of cheap wine he'd stolen during his "accidental" fall on the way out of the tavern. Turning the guard on his side, he poured the rest of the contents on the man's shirt and face before tucking it into his limp arms. Leaving the guard in the street, apparently passed out drunk, Khalid turned back to the target's house. Less than a minute left.
Before he did anything else, he brought his hands together. Now came his part of the mission. He reached deep inside himself, feeling that core of energy called chakra. He pulled on it, shaping it with mental fingers before allowing it to flow into his physical fingers. He mentally called out the name of the technique to help himself focus. 'Henge.'
Khalid, now for all appearances Kenji's soon-to-be-relieved night guard, resumed his post. He didn't have to wait long. But, as with all plans, something went wrong.
The guard took one look at Khalid and waited a moment. That was the only warning he had before the guard's hand flew to the sword at his side. Khalid lunged forward, ducking under the guard's draw. Observant blue eyes saw the mouth open to call out warning, and his decision was made for him. He threw his hand upwards, fingers fisted and slightly spread.
The hidden spike slid out of its sheath, lightning punch adding to the momentum as it caught the guard in the throat. With a thought, the blade retracted,sliding silently back into the concealed holster.
Blood spurted into Naruto's face, the Henge disappearing along with all rational thought. The burly guard collapsed forward, and Naruto was too slow to get out of the way. The two fell to the dirt road with a loud thump, blood still jetting out of the gaping hole in the guard's neck. Naruto beat against the man's chest with weakly fisted hands, jaw trembling in shock as he tried to get away. A wet gurgling noise jerked his attention away from the blood and up to the guard's face, just in time to see wide, pained eyes glaze over in death.
The corpse was rolled to the side, and Naruto found himself staring up at Riyadh.
"You okay?" came the quiet question, a hand outstretched to help him up.
Naruto wanted to say that no, damnit, he wasn't okay! He'd just killed somebody who'd only been doing their job, who he had no personal fight with. A man who probably had a family, a history, a future, which Naruto had just taken.
"Yeah. None of this is mine," Khalid answered, taking the hand. Naruto watched in mute horror, unable to move or speak as the two disposed of the man's body behind a pile of garbage. No words of regret or prayers to the dead were spoken.
The two returned quickly to the house, Khalid still soaked in blood.
"So I'm going in while you play guard?"
Khalid smiled. "It's not time yet. Besides, do you really think I trust you to go off on your own?"
"No, but there's always that chance that one of the guards managed to hit you in the head and addle your brains. So how are you coming with me, exactly? Someone has to play guard."
Khalid chuckled to himself. Typical Riyadh - always ready with a glib response. Bringing his hands together, he focused mental hands into shaping his chakra into a mental image of the guard. The chakra poured outwards from his fingertips, and a slight shimmer of light later, Khalid was disguised as the deceased guard.
Before Riyadh could interrupt him, he realligned his hands and focused inward. Insubstantial hands shaped his chakra into a small image of himself, before he let it flow gently into his physical hands. This time, he directed the flow out in front of him. An insubstantial copy of himself, guard disguise intact, appeared without a whisper of noise.
Silence from Riyadh.
Khalid reached over and clapped him on the shoulder. "That, my friend, is one of many reasons why I have never been caught."
Riyadh shrugged off the shoulder, pouting. "You don't have to bring that up every mission. Besides, the guards thought I was the one who'd been sleeping with their lord's wife - not the one who killed their lord."
"You still got caught."
Naruto felt sickened by the light, joking conversation between the two bloodstained assassins. Had he been able to move, he would have thrown up.
Riyadh threw a weak punch at Khalid, who smirked as it glanced off his shoulder. Reaching for his pocket, Khalid growled with frustration when his fingers met the dirty cloth of the guard's uniform, instead of of the pocket containing his watch. He loved that watch.
"Got a watch?" he asked Riyadh.
His companion blinked for a moment before snickering. "So there is a downside to that disguise." Bringing his wrist up, Riyadh pushed his sleeve back. The two remained quiet for a moment before Riyadh looked up and gave a brief nod of his head. It was time.
Stepping back into their roles as Assassins, the two abandoned the amiable conversation, heading towards the door. Khalid stood, back to the door, keeping watch, while Riyadh greased the hinges and picked the lock. In the relative silence of the night, the metallic tinks of the lockpick seemed loud enough to wake the dead.
Khalid knew it was just adrenaline speaking, that Riyadh was being quiet, and that no one more than a foot away could hear a thing. It still didn't stop the nervous tingle of excitement from running down his spine.
The sounds of the lock being picked stopped. Khalid turned, and Riyadh gave him a silent nod. Khalid would go first. He let go of his transformation first, resuming his normal appearance - the guard's outfit hadn't been designed with stealth in mind.
Placing a hand on the door handle, Khalid closed his eyes, inhaled deeply, held the breath for a moment, and exhaled, letting tension flow out of his body. Snapping his eyes open, he twisted the handle silently and opened the door, quietly stepping into the room. Riyadh followed, shutting the door behind him with a barely audible click.
The house was tiny, and the first floor only had three rooms. Khalid once again questioned why their target had guards. It was extremely out of place for a man of his social standing...but it was too late to do anything but be even more cautious than normal.
Khalid raised a hand, gesturing to the left. Riyadh headed towards that section of the small house, quiet as a ghost. Khalid turned to the right. The two quickly covered the first floor; the house was rather small. They met again at the entrance. Shakes of heads confirmed that the target was not on this floor. Khalid pointed towards the back of the house and then jerked his hand upwards twice. Stairs back that way.
The two turned, and found the indicated staircase a moment later. They ascended, not a word spoken, stepping lightly on the very edges of the boards of the staircase, right where they met the wall. They were less likely to creak that way.
There was a door at the top of the staircase, and after giving the doorknob a brief test, Khalid turned to Riyadh, hand outstretched for the lockpicks. Riyadh was better at it, but they couldn't afford to risk making a noise by swapping positions on the stairs.
Turning back the door after Riyadh had handed him the picks, Khalid crouched down, sliding the picks into the keyhole beneath the doorknob, ear pressed to the door. He could hear the clicks of tumblers locking into place as he slowly tapped away with the picks...
He pulled the set of picks out, knowing he'd triggered one of the tumblers and the entire lock had reset. Examining the picks, he cursed silently; the picks were broken inside the lock, which was now jammed.
'Fuck it.' Positioning his hand, he spread his fingers and sent a touch of chakra to the catch for his hidden weapon. The spike shot out, the thin, yet incredibly strong and sharp piece of metal firing directly into the lock. There was a loud clink as it broke through the tumblers.
Khalid slowly drew his hand back, hidden spike sliding back into its holster beneath his wrist as well-oiled gears did their work. He turned back to Riyadh, who had one eyebrow arched, and handed him the broken set of picks. Riyadh closed his eyes, lips tightening and his chest heaving as he laughed without a sound. Khalid tried not to think about how he would never hear the end of this.
Reaching out, Khalid opened the door silently. He glanced around, taking in the room before stepping up and to the side, making room for Riyadh.
The entire second floor was one bedroom. It still wasn't a very large bedroom, but Khalid tapped Riyadh on the shoulder and motioned for him to investigate the room while he dealt with the target nonetheless. Surprises were never good in the life of an Assassin.
Trusting Riyadh to alert him if anything went wrong, Khalid stepped lightly towards the bed and the sleeping merchant. He raised his hand back, the hidden spike sliding out of its sheath -
and Naruto stood there, arm held back for the kill. He swallowed convulsively, bile rising in his throat. He was about to kill someone in cold blood. His breathing became shallow and ragged, and his arm shook. The world around him began to spin and -
He sat up in his bed, panting. His sheets were soaked with sweat. After a moment, he pulled his right arm in front of his face, as if it had betrayed him...but there was no hidden spike. No weapons, no blood.
But he could still taste bitter bile in his throat. Mind in a small haze, Naruto couldn't figure it out.
'Was that a dream...or was that real?'
The question only spurred racing heart. Deep down, he knew it was more than a dream, even if he didn't want to admit it. As he went about his morning routine - and brushing his teeth and using deoderant, because variety was the spice of life - he studiously avoided looking at the book on his table.
Taking his seat in the back of the classroom, as the alphabetized seating (thankfully) demanded, Naruto began to zone out, mind falling back to the feel of blood spraying into his face. His hands began to tremble, until he heard something that snapped him out of his nightmare; Iruka's voice. More specifically, just what Iruka was saying.
"...and for your final exam, you must each generate three bunshin. Wait here until your name is called, then come in next door."
For a blissful moment, the knowledge that he'd killed somebody he didn't even know didn't bother him. The Genin Exam, his one stumbling block on the road to Hokage, stood before him once more!
And he sucked at Bunshin. 'Shit.'
Names were called slowly, by surname. Naruto was lost in frantic thought, trying to figure out a way to perform a bunshin within the next fifteen minutes. He even missed Iruka calling Sakura to the next room.
He did perk up a bit when he heard someone standing up next to him, then returned to scowling when he noticed it was Sasuke. The Uchiha, Naruto, and Ino were the only three left in the room, and Ino's yelled well-wishes did nothing to help his mood.
'Shit, shit shit.' He began to chant it in his head, like a mantra. A minute later...
Standing, he did his best to hide the nervous tremble of his legs. He ignored whatever it was Ino said - it probably wasn't encouraging, whatever it was. When he saw his hands shaking, he took a deep breath, held it for a moment, and then exhaled, letting all the tension flow out of his body. He took comfort in the now-familiar breathing exercise.
He opened the door to the next room and walked in, facing Iruka, Mizuki, and a desk. Two hitai-ate remained - one for him, one for Ino. Everyone else had passed; there was a hitai-ate made for every student.
He clasped his hands together in the basic Academy hand seal. 'Here goes nothing.' He reached out for his chakra...and flashed back to the dream. He couldn't get the mental image of sending ephemeral hands down into the well of his chakra, preparing it for Bunshin, out of his head. 'Could...could that work?'
There was no reason it should. 'It was just a dream. It was just a dream. None of it was real!' he tried to tell himself, not believing a word of it. But...
Naruto shrugged his shoulders. He'd never been one for odds (or logic.) The last thing he saw as he closed his eyes in concentration was Mizuki beginning a yawn.
Instead of opening the mental floodgates to his chakra and letting it roar into his hands, like normal, Naruto reached inwards, shaping it with thought. Then he pulled it outwards, letting it flow into his hands. It felt like it took an aeon.
When he opened his eyes, feeling the chakra flow out of his hands, he whispered, "Bunshin no Jutsu."
Mizuki hadn't done more than start to yawn - the years he'd spent coaxing his chakra had taken less than an instant.
Three perfect clones appeared on each side of him in a loud poof of smoke. Mizuki's yawn turned to a choked gasp of surprise, and Iruka's jaw dropped, mirroring Naruto's own reaction to his ability to perform the technique.
Iruka closed his mouth, though Mizuki appeared to still be choking on something. Grinning, he reached out and grabbed one of the last two hitai-ate. Flipping it to Naruto, who caught it sheerly out of reflex, he called out, "Congratulations...graduate."
Naruto stared at his reflection in the cool metal of the hitai-ate. But...if he'd learned Bunshin from the assassination last night, that meant it was real, right? Had he really killed that man, or had it been a nightmare?
The reflection in the hitai-ate offered no answers.
Closing Comments: Fuck Mizuki and his Scroll of Sealing.
To explain the names...Riyadh means "gardens." Khalid means "eternal." Adel means "just." Seeing as Altair was flying eagle, and he had many themes around that, Riyadh likes to garden, Khalid has a pocketwatch he treasures, and Adel emphasizes justice. The target's name is Japanese because the Brotherhood uses Arabic names as a throwback to the old days and receiving the name is the equivalent of being knighted. (I made that up, obviously. But I'm too lazy to come up with geography appropriate names for the targets, so you'll have to deal.)