Spiral Tailed ch 17

Okay, so...yeah. If you want excuses, they are at the bottom. So read first.

NOTE: This chapter might go under the knife for quality reasons, there will be an edit note in place of this if so.

Boy Seeking Battle

Sakura's body felt as though that it was stung by hundreds of bees. Her limbs were numb and inflamed from all the chakra she poured into them. She had exhausted all her chakra several times while trying to succeed at Kakashi's chakra conditioning. Kakashi explained that chakra was much like muscle matter; to make more, you must destroy it. Her chakra reserves had always been below par, but she thought excellent control would more than make up for the lack. But apparently, there are jutsu that will needed reserves of chakra larger than her own, summoning being one.

Then Kakashi assured her that chakra wasn't as bad to condition as muscles. It wouldn't take more that a solid week of work to get enough to have a workable summon and still have chakra left over. Though he did make a comment about her smaller reserves, saying that there is lot of work building from nothing.

It would be over quickly. She just couldn't slack off in the slightest. Kakashi made a sport of scaring her whenever she looked like she was going to give. It wasn't a big change either. All he did was look at her, pretend to smile behind that mask, and give her a reassuring talk that had the grimmest undertone she ever heard. It was like he threatened to do one thousand evil things to her, all while saying 'you can do it'. After the conditioning, she wanted to know how to do that. She could think of so many different uses for it.

"Well, it looks like you are having a nice rest." came a pseudo cheery voice to her. She turned her eye toward the source, for it was all she could do besides breathe. From her sprawled position on the ground, she saw Kakashi. Her teacher looked down to her. He crouched down and said, "My, you are lazy aren't you?" Sakura grunted at him, and immediately regretted it. If she had to guess, her teacher right now was flashing a crooked grin behind his mask.

"Well, you seemed to have gotten your energy back." He said with surprise in his voice, Sakura couldn't tell if he was acting or not. She fidgeted as little and regretted that too. "Good, good, you got your movement back too. Now time to-" while Kakashi started to talk, Sakura started to wriggle herself away from him. Inch by inch she mimicked a worm as best as she could. She was just unfortunate that worms were never known for their speed.

Kakashi's foot stopped Sakura's escape. Sakura fidgeted again as she looked up. With her teacher standing right above her, Sakura was amazed that anything could seem that tall. From her point of view, she felt like an ant about to get stomped upon. She fidgeted again, because the thought made her skin crawl. She had traded positions with a bug. "My, aren't you just the ball of energy today. I might start calling you Naruto if you keep it up." Kakashi mocked. "Well you seem to reenergized as much as you can, you slept like a log through the night," said her teacher.

Sakura wanted to call him a pervert for saying that, but her mouth was working against her. She had no idea if it was from fear or if she didn't have the energy for it. "Show me if you can sit up." Kakashi commanded. Sakura attempted the feat, mostly scared if she didn't do anything. Amazingly to her, she was able to sit up. She could even balance herself. "Now, at least show me you can move your right arm," he told her. She complied again, this time to see if she could actually do it. Again she amazed herself, she was able to move it in a full circle, even bend it. "Great! Now to move on," her teacher said.

Sakura's jaw dropped. In her amaze, she had forgotten the fact she was still conditioning. Her whole body started to tremble. She wondered what was going to happen next. All in all, she could admit that what Kakashi was doing was tame torture, it didn't open any wounds, but it was still torture. Her mind raced at the possibilities as to what he had in mind. Maybe she had to hold a comically sized weight off the side of a cliff with her chakra, while standing on the side of the cliff. She could possibly have to carry a weight while chakra running away from Kakashi's rabid ninja dogs. Maybe she had to fight somebody while focusing all her chakra around her. She knew it was going to be exhausting and/or sadistic. She could hardly move, yet she knew she was going to have to do something labor intensive.

A kunai fell before her. She looked at where it came from, to see Kakashi standing over her. His eyes were fierce. It took her a second, but she came upon a realization. Finally her mouth started to move and her voice came back in great volume. She screamed, "I have to f**king fight you! Who do you f**king think I am! F**king Naruto? I will never in a million f**king years-!" Her screaming was stopped when a hand moved itself over his mouth. "Thank you Neji." came Shikamaru's voice.

Sakura froze in fear, was she going to fight all of them? Her eyes moved over the campground, each one in her team were her giving her fierce looks. Sakura started to hyperventilate, Neji's hand inhibiting her from doing so. That could have contributed to her light-headed feeling. Suddenly Kakashi bent down and met Sakura face to face. With a whisper he said, "Now look what you've done Sakura. You woke them all up. I think, as an apology… you should buy us all the next dinner at a town." Suddenly Choji started cheering out that he wanted barbeque while the rest just nodded their heads in agreement.

Kakashi lifted up the kunai and handed it to her. Sakura took it and Neji's hand moved away. "You got a serious mouth on you," Kakashi told her. She then said, "But I don't want to fight you. I won't be able to win." Kakashi nodded to her, apparently agreeing. Kakashi chuckled a bit before saying, "Yeah, you won't. Not in a billion years. I don't know where you got a million from." Sakura glared at him for that, and silently vowed to knock him out in a fight within the decade. "And," he continued, "I don't want you to fight me. I want you to cut one finger on your right hand, then summon."

Sakura sat there silent. She didn't think that the nightmare was over. She really thought that she had to fight him. Mentally she mocked herself for jumping to conclusions. It was idiotic really. "Today." came Kakashi's monotone voice, ripping herself from her self-berating thoughts. She slit her thumb and went through the necessary hand-signs.

She lifted her hand up in the air just as the sun shone over the horizon, and dawn's light illuminated the sky.

Time was on his side; he had made his rounds and had time to his leisure. While running out of his master's land, he made his way to the towns for his favorite activity. He loved it whenever he was in the towns of humans. All the movement, the voices combining into one low sound that was very much like a quiet waterfall, the conversations, and the faces. He loved it all. Watching humans was a truly fascinating thing.

His captivation in them though had started only that month. He truly had seen why his peers would always mix with the humans during their time away from Inari. The humans may have been a destructive force on the land that he loved, but what they built in its place. It was absolutely amazing; he would never see anything like it naturally occur.

He hopped from rooftop to rooftop, not taking the form of a human. His soft paws scratched the surface of one roof as he marveled at its stability. It was as solid as the ground he had traversed for so long. It was truly a sight to see. But his captivation didn't allow folly to slip passed his eyes.

He had always known that humans had did this, but this was the first time he had seen it. From his view on the rooftop, he had seen a group of men in an alley. Big, burly men surrounded one man who looked nervously about the others. He tried to break passed the men, but their circle was too tight and too strong. He was knocked back. The one man who directly faced the confined one took out a weapon, a small dagger, no bigger than a hand from the bottom of the palm to the tip of the middle finger. The confined man started to panic and threw something at the armed man.

The armed one looked at the item that the confined man threw. It was money, if one had to guess; it seemed like a substantial sum of money. The armed man nodded to the confined man, who looked relived. The confined man started to walk away, to find the group of men around him would not let him through. The armed man inched closer to the man confined. He raised his dagger into the sky and brought it down, cleaving the confined one's face. The body stood for a while before it dropped, dead. Those bystanders who had actually taken notice to the killing just turned their heads.

Naruto shook his head. He wondered what was so special about that metal that made humans kill each other for it. He pondered about it for a while. Could it have just been that humans just hated each other? If the town landscape that he once knew as a part of a glorious field filled with wild life and various flowers was an indication, maybe the humans hated everything.

Naruto's back ached as he sat up from his sleep. The floor wasn't as nice as a good bed, but it would suffice for the time being. He didn't need lavish commodities that his current employer had; he lived without for the longest time. Didn't mean a little indulgence was bad, just not all that necessary.

He stretched his arms about his sides. It felt so good to do so that Naruto couldn't help but smile. He laid his arm back at his sides and held his position for a while. He may have been awake, but that didn't stop him from being sleepy when he first woke up.

Realization dawned on him; he knew what the day would bring. A small smile crept on his face. He lifted his right hand to meet his face. He tightened it into a fist, trying to gain thought of what would happen. A small army would erupt form behind the complex's wall. There would be infantry-level soldiers along with ninja, fighting around and about him. He would tear all in his path.

He didn't know why but ever since the fight in the quarry, he had more blood lust. He had become angry and short tempered.

His new lightning quick anger was shown through his punishment of that drunk. Though the man deserved it with his audacity to steal from Naruto no Kyūbi, Naruto was angry with himself for breaking the drunk for something as simple as a wallet. Naruto wondered when he had become greedy like that. He wasn't even sure he carried that much with him that day. He kept the money earned at the room they had at the inn.

Naruto took out his wallet, curious at just what was that important in the container. He opened it with a click, and right at the surface of the metal and paper it lay. He took it out, he had forgotten all about it. A small smile found itself upon his face.

He had gotten it from the quarry the same day the man tried to steal the wallet. Maybe that was why he was so angry when the drunk took it. Naruto slowly rubbed his thumb about it. It was still rough; he needed to have it cut. Then it would be ready.

Naruto heard a snort form the sleeping Tayuya and put the object back into his wallet. He turned to look at her, to find she still slept soundly. He couldn't help but note that she looked peaceful in her sleep.

Naruto stood up and stretched his legs for a second. With little more than a huff he moved to the door. He didn't know what he was going to do until noon.

The sun shone in his eyes as it slowly made its way from the horizon.

Behind him, he heard the shuffling of a moving body. "Naruto?" he heard from behind him. "Yeah?" he called back to Tayuya. She was sitting up from her mat, her eyes still evidently sleepy. She yawned before speaking up, "What's going on? Where are you going?" she said with a perplexed look.

Naruto stood for a second, "I am going to the nearest town. I want to see if there is anything I can do to pass the time." Tayuya stared at him for a bit before she said, "You were going to leave without me, weren't you?"

Naruto stood for a second while he looked her straight in the eye. He nodded to her, which gained a sigh. "I thought you were going to stay asleep for a while," he admitted. Tayuya's expression fell a bit as he said that, more so when he finished.

She then lay down, facing away from him, and said, "Fine, just be back a least three hours before noon." Naruto stood for a second, looking down at her, before he left. He didn't want to leave abruptly, but he also had something to do.

As Naruto leaped over the complex's walls, he fished out his wallet, and took what was in it out again. He didn't know the value of it, but he hoped it would make a great gift.

Naruto walked into a village near by Kenichi's complex. He noticed it was deafly quiet. It may have been early morning, but that didn't excuse traders and merchants opening shop. Naruto scratched the back of his head; he hoped what he was looking for would be opened. Naruto scanned the building he passed, losing hope as he found that every shop he passed was closed. It only made him worry more.

Just as hope was failing him, he turned a corner and came upon just the building he wanted to find. Inside the building stood a man, standing over work out of Naruto's view. The man turned suddenly as Naruto came in the shop, the little bell atop the doorway alerting the man of Naruto's presence.

"What do you want?" the man said dryly, "The smithy is closed today." With an angered grunt the man turned away from Naruto as a dismissal. Naruto quickly picked up on the fact the man didn't want him there and then pressed the man. "Why?" he said, his tone like that of rock. The man turned around once more this time with a scowl and walked up to Naruto, probably to iterate the fact he towered over the boy.

The man looked like the stereotypical black smith. He was large, his forearms probably encasing most of the muscle on his body. He had a wooly beard falling about his gut, thick enough to be mistaken for a black sheep latched onto his chin. Despite the gut the man had on him, it was obvious that the man wasn't going to be some pushover.

Despite all that Naruto wasn't scared in the slightest. He didn't want to cause unnecessary alarm, and he needed the services of the man, so he quietly said with a glare, "I'll pay you so what does it matter?" The smithy leaned down, meeting Naruto at eye level. With a disinterested expression the man asked Naruto, "Are you from here boy?" Naruto shook his head, "No, I'm just passing through." Naruto held a glare at the man, more so when the man snorted in his face, much like a bull.

"Kid, I can't give you the entire story, so settle for this: Today, there is nothing that would get me to work for you. Something important will happen, and I will be busy from about nine, to the rest of the day." The man said, talking down to Naruto, even talking slow. Naruto held his anger; he wanted to break the man for the disrespect. Alas, he needed the man's services. Through clenched teeth, Naruto addressed the man, "Right now it is about five. It is a pretty simple job. It won't take long. I will pay well." It took a lot of will to keep the smile on his face and arms at his sides.

"What did I say boy? There is nothing that-," the man was cut off at the last second when Naruto took out a scroll and summoned up a river of money. The man's expression changed completely. His small eyes glowed with light as the money fell to the ground. The man keeled down and scooped up some of the money and let it trickle out of his hands. He looked up, his expression forcefully changed back into the one he held before. "N-now what kind of job are we talking about here?" the man said with a shaky voice. The man gulped, "Maybe I can fit into my schedule."

Naruto resisted the urge to kick the man, he was disgusted but he got what he wanted. He knew extra money like this would come in handy. Naruto looked down one the man, who was still keeling on the floor, and took out his wallet. He reached in and pulled out the hunk of crystal it carried. The crystal carried a light yellow tint. It still wasn't cut properly, which was the reason that he took it to the man.

The man took from Naruto with his large hand and gave it a good look. Confusion fell over him as he gazed upon it. "This is a plain crystal, not very pure, but with a degree of sulfur in it, but not even a cautionary abundance." the man muttered to himself. He looked at Naruto with a cocked eyebrow and said, "You made a fuss over this? Yeah, when you said it wouldn't take very long you were right. I'd say about two hours tops. But I do have some work lined up that is a bit more urgent. I'll get finished with it in about hour or two though…." The man continued to mutter on while Naruto grew impatient. If the man took any longer to decide, he might have to give the man some forceful incentive.

"Yeah, yeah, this will be ready for you by eight, eight-thirty if I take my time," the man said with a smirk. Naruto nodded and asked the man, "How much would it be?" The man stiffened up at the question. He looked down at Naruto with a bead of sweat flowing down his face. With a nervous expression the man said, "Well due to circumstances, you know, the shop actually being closed and with my time table being pushed a bit I think that the mark up would give me just about all the money."

Naruto nodded with a disgruntled expression, if the man wanted it all he could have said something. Naruto was about to walk out when the man called out. "Hey, you didn't tell me how you wanted it cut." Naruto turned around, he didn't really think about the shape that much. He put a little thought into it and got an idea. He reached into his coat and pulled out the chakra crystal that Tsunade had given him.

"I want it like this," he said. The man eyed the crystal and nodded. "Okay," the man began, "I think it will be ready about eight thirty. I'll leave it on the counter after I finish for you to pick up. Don't forget, and kid…I think you shouldn't go anywhere north after you pick this up." With that the man turned and left.

Naruto mentally noted that Kenichi's complex was located north.

Naruto walked out of the smithy; only to nearly walk into a man running frantically passed him. The blonde looked at the man's retreating form. The man was nervous, looking around him anxiously. Attached to the man's hip was a satchel, with documents barely showing out of the top. Naruto could tell the man was a courier, and if what he was thinking about the village was right, then he knew what the courier was for.

He followed the courier to a building that looked like it would belong to whoever would regulate what happened in the village. Silently sneaking in, and following the courier to a room. Hiding just out of sight as the courier went in, speaking to whoever was in the room.

"Uh, sir, I have grave news." The courier said to those who were in the room.

"What is it?" came another voice from in the room.

The shuffling of paper was heard and a silence endured afterward. The moment of silence was cut by a moaning chuckle. "Grave news? I don't see grave news here, all I see is conformation that that bastard Kenichi has finally started to take us seriously."

There was another pause before the voice spoke up again, "Two ninja won't mean a thing in front of a force of two hundred samurai and twenty other ninja. With our cause slowly bringing in his men, Kenichi is desperate, and he doesn't want to fall to us, so he got a last resort. Insignificant."

Tayuya watched as a battalion of samurai went through drills, preparing for the upcoming battle. They switched from one stance to the next, droning out one unified chant. Impressed would be a word for her to describe the event, if she didn't see the dedication and unity the sound army practiced with their drills.

Every single man and woman in that army striving for their respective lives and for the respect of their leader, Orochimaru, as they went through their forms. Call Orochimaru what you will, he knew how to inspire an army. The mixture of fear and respect caused a great many of their forces to look up to the man. Not many other men could make each and every person in their army scared of any little mistake in form and the death that would follow.

A loud whistle from the superior ranking officer pulled Tayuya from her thoughts. "Alright," the man in full gear yelled, "today each of you has a duty, to protect the grounds of Kenichi-sama's castle from the onslaught of the Great Falcon's army and to push back their forces, even at the risk of your own life. Understand?" A loud cheer answered the man. The superior then loudly commanded the force to disperse and make personal preparations for the battle.

The one thing that the army of samurai had over the sound army was the unwavering calm in the threat of battle. Before the attack on Konoha, the sound army was jittery and restless, without their leader looking over them. Their resolve was nothing without Orochimaru, even with the Four watching over the preparations before taking their posts with their master. Even the Four were nothing but a mess of nerves until they were in the vicinity of their master.

Yet, here each and every samurai warrior was steadfast in diligence and resolve. Maybe Orochimaru failed in certain circumstances with his army.

Suddenly a samurai ran up to her and kneeled down in front of her. "Tayuya-san, it seem as though Naruto-sama has returned and wishes to speak with you." The samurai then stood up and left Tayuya standing where she was. She knitted her brows into a scowl and whispered under her breath, "And where exactly is he?"

It took Tayuya all of ten minutes to find out that Naruto was back in the room they shared for the last couple of nights. She pulled open the sliding door and as soon as she seen that blonde mop, she exploded, "And where exactly did you go for the entire morning?" It caused a smirk to appear on her face when she noticed that the blonde boy flinched.

"I-uh- I came back when you said, I mean it is nine…right?" The boys face was red and he looked unsure of himself. Tayuya regarded this with a raised eyebrow then let it go, he hadn't seemed himself for a while now, so the nervousness wasn't that strange.

"I was more or less asking why you had to leave, and weren't going to tell me anything?" She crossed her arms as she said this, trying to seem aloof, though utterly failing to keep her voice in line. Naruto's eye looked at anywhere but her for a second as his face got a bit redder. "R-right well, I got a gift made for you." His voice came out slow, as if trying to remain level through it all, it didn't.

Tayuya stood for a moment, her face only reading surprise on it, much to her chagrin. Suddenly she noticed that the blonde had his hands behind his back. "Y-you like yellow, right?" he said mostly to reassure himself. He then pulled his hand, curled up in a fist, from behind his back and held it in front of him. He loosened up his hand and a cut yellow crystal fell out, only to be caught from falling by the string that Naruto held in his hand.

"I-uh I found this what digging with Nagato-san, and well you said you liked yellow so I thought I would have it cut and…and, well," Naruto tried to explain himself, only to stumble over his words. Tayuya walked up to him and looked at the crystal, yellow as if containing sulfur, yet so clear as if it was a gem.

Meanwhile, Naruto, who hadn't had the most experience in giving, or receiving, gifts was scared the way she appraised it. It made him nervous. Would she not like it? Was it not cut right?

When he was suddenly hugged, he couldn't process what was happening. Tayuya was hugging him and he was just standing there, mind fuzzy and blank.

On Tayuya's end, even though she was ticked off that he didn't react to her hug, a part of herself couldn't really care. The flute he gave her, though something she wanted so terribly, he got it because he seen that she wanted it. The crystal though, well it was more a gift from him than a gift for her, and though it sounded so entirely sappy she liked it a lot because of that. Still, she would be furious if she found out how much it cost to cut the thing.

Then Naruto fainted, his face blue as if he wasn't breathing and finally his body relinquished that control of that function, along with others, from him. Looking down on the blonde, with his mouth open and drooling, a red tint on his face despite the blueness, Tayuya let out a chuckle. She was damn glad that even though Naruto fought a spider monster, and is ready to fight an army today, that she had the power to do that to him, it was enough to give her a head-trip. It was enough to give her a light airy head-trip.

Silence reigned over the samurai as they watched the north wall, Naruto, after waking out from his brief stint with unconsciousness, informed Kenichi that he had over heard a battle plan while in the town south of the complex, the army was going to flank the castle after sending a small force to attack the south walls. In response, the south walls were to be protected by a smaller force of samurai who stood confidently at the gate, which was left open. The smaller force and open gate was a ploy to confuse the Great Falcons, making them vulnerable, even if they anticipated a trap. Naruto and Tayuya would stand on the south end, behind the large samurai force and strike the Great Falcons swiftly, without notice. It helped that Naruto had a few clones transformed into the visage of samurai to supplement the force.

It was fifteen minutes to noon, the sun rising in the sky, almost hitting the midway point, making the shadows seem near nonexistent. Donned in full armor, helms on their head, the battle masks fixed in to the helms of the elites, the northern force practiced the art of deception. They had brothers in arms standing outside, in meager armor, falling into formless drills and forced drunken balance. Meanwhile, the armored forces, the majority force, were hiding in the buildings, silent and steady. Mouths dry and skin moist, the men cursed the sun's heat and the tension. Some men found solace in a nameless deity, founded by them before the threat of battle. Others questioned the reasoning of their leader, the threat of death making a warrior the pacifist.

Five minutes to noon, some felt the tension on their backs like weights and boulders, feeling their back stoop and crack under pressure. The nagging quiet made others curse the lack of sound as the foreshadowing of their death. Helms and battle masks had to be removed to remove the sweat from the brow, and then hastily put back on for fear of surprise attack. The thump of the heart could be felt throughout the body, the steady beat like that of a war drum, the boom of thunder, the shake of a steady quake. Hands were braced on weapons, quivering at the tension, the blood rushing out of the limb, making it feel numb. Gritting teeth numbing the jaw, stress and soreness following.

One minute to noon, Uzumaki Naruto stood in front of the force, his face calm, his eyes neutral and his stance relaxed. The calmness of Naruto, instead of rubbing off and making the men feel calm and collected as well, did nothing but disturb the samurai. Even Tayuya found his calm to be odd and unnerving. Only a war hero, or a warmonger was this calm before a battle. Tayuya felt it was more disturbing that she couldn't tell where Naruto fell.

Noon came, and with it a roar of a unified battle cry from the south, the clang of metal ringing soon after. The samurai readied themselves, hands poised on their katana. Prayers followed, breaking the silence in the room, putting everyone on end.

Suddenly there was an explosion heard from the north wall, the smell of sulfur and oil rushing into the senses. Naruto held up his hand, unconscious of the tension, unconscious of the world. When battle cries were heard coming from the north wall, Naruto waved his hand, signaling the samurai to move.

With a roar that shred any doubt and stress, the legion of samurai charged out of the building, along with their brethren from the other buildings. Naruto turned to Tayuya and looked at her, Tayuya looking back. Tayuya was shocked to find a soft smile on Naruto's face.

"You ready Tayuya-chan?" Naruto's voice was jovial and bright. Tayuya paused for a second, her mouth agape, before her expression matched Naruto's expression, though a little harder.

"Sure, this will be easy now that I have a flute again. An army of samurai won't be a fucking match for me, and the ninja, we'll split them, got it?"

With Naruto nodding, Tayuya jumped out of the building, cutting a stray samurai warrior through the neck. Naruto sighed contentedly at her retreating form. Slowly a smirk played its way on his mouth, its turn cruel. "Geez, it is getting hot." His comment wasn't meant for anyone, but the air around him seemed to shudder at his words. With a heat welling up in his body Naruto charged out and slashed down three Great Falcon samurai with Tsume Akuma.

He thought the force would have been smaller, easier to surprise, agitated, scared, and somber. That wasn't what he found as he gazed through the wall of Kenichi's fortress castle. The expected more artillery, they expected an army of cowards, they anticipated surrender. He bit his lip as he saw the battle. Prime warriors, two words that expressed the opposing force. They ripped his men to pieces.

He watched on as two samurai, one of his men and the other Kenichi's, matched blows with their katana. His fought frantically, the slashes and dodges more dramatic than practical. Then, fantastically, his pushed back Kenichi's man then slammed the man to the floor with the blunt end of the Katana. His poised a strike that would land its mark in the heart of Kenichi's man.

Then his man was stabbed though the chest by Kenichi's warrior, who was still lying calmly on the ground.

He saw more instances of battle, much of them with the same ultimate end. Roars and battle cries cut short, gone with nothing more than a grunt. Limbs lost, the blood splattering on the opposing force, making them look akin to demons and monsters. Cries of agony and sheer pain, carried with such feeling that those who heard them could feel the hot pain of the men's wounds.

Most of his men fell before him, and he was struck by fear, the fear of pain, the fear of dying, the fear of the void of death.

A hand fell upon him and a woman's voice whispered in his ear, "Oh, no, no master, you are paying us for this little battle of yours, you aren't going to run away without telling us where the money is." The knife lightly prodding his back made his say first thing to pop in his mouth, the truth.

"I don't have the money I promised you!" The knife in his back was suddenly at his neck, the blade poised to slash his throat. He could feel the breath of the ninja on the back of his neck as she spoke to him; her breath was icy cold.

"Give me a reason to not cut your neck right now." the ninja seethed. The knife pressed deeper on his skin, he could feel the wind in the forming cut. It felt cold; the wind was coldest where the blade was cutting into his throat.

He could only stammer for the longest time, his voice dying each time it was birthed in his throat. He was too frightened to breathe, and his lungs burned in his chest because of it. Suddenly the ninja behind him pushed the blade harder into his throat without cutting too deeply in his neck.

"Answer me!" came her enraged voice.

"I was going to pay you with the money we should have gotten from looting Kenichi's place. The payment was for a battle I was certain we would win. I'm sorry, I'm sorry. I only wanted to free my peop-"

With a thud, the man fell to the ground, the grass below him being painted in blood. As the color faded from the man's eyes and skin, the ninja stood over him, watching the battle happening in the complex's walls.

She watched as her men battled with a lone blond kid.

Naruto had been cutting through multitudes of samurai before he happened upon six of the twenty ninja. He looked around to see that almost all of the Great Falcons army had been decimated in battle and that Kenichi's samurai had few deaths. It was most likely that most of the samurai of the Great Falcons were in reality farmers, trained to take on Kenichi's samurai. None of the Great Falcons really stood a chance then.

Even with the lack of experience though, it was somehow gratifying to kill them. Naruto didn't have time to dwell on that thought before the ninja were upon him. Two of them rushed Naruto with little form or preparation. Exactly what he would have done, except he had a reputation of being unpredictable. He was easily able to block the punches that they had ready for him, before flipping both of them behind him while crushing their hands with chakra. One tried to surprise him from behind while he dealt with the first two but he sidestepped the man and clawed his gut with Tsume Akuma.

Another ninja came at him with a blade ready to cut open Naruto's throat, but Naruto switched himself with one that had yet to attack him yet. The ninja with the blade was surprised as his comrade fell to the floor but had little time to react as his back was slashed. Naruto found that the first two that attacked him started to get up, but took care of them with kunai after resealing the claw on his left.

Naruto looked at the last one, a small man, a few inches taller than Naruto himself. The man was shaking uncontrollably, his eyes filled with fear. Naruto walked to the man, who tried to back away from him before falling to the ground. Naruto stepped closer to the man before he stood over the man. The man's whimpers and silent pleas were muffled by his hands, which were held over his face. Naruto picked up the man by his collar, the man exclaiming in terror as he looked into Naruto's eyes.

"Don't worry you get to live." The simple words seemed to shock the man. A cruel and twisted smirk scrawled itself on Naruto's face. "Just make sure to spread the name, Naruto no Kyūbi around. Tell them what happened."

When he finished, Naruto grabbed the man's right arm and crushed it with chakra, the appendage falling limp below the elbow. The man's cry of agony rang out into the midday sky. Naruto dropped the man on the ground and commanded the man to run. Considering the broken limb, the man was able to get on his feet quickly and run off.

With the man running into the distance, Naruto took a deep breath and surveyed the rest of the battle, the samurai seemed to be taking on four ninja, his other half of the division that Tayuya came up with, while Tayuya was slowly waking past her half, minus one, who formed into a line and seemed to be paralyzed in place. Tayuya then systematically stuck kunai in the ninjas' hearts, moving down the line, and killing one after another.

As Naruto jumped to fight the rest of his half, he couldn't help but think that genjutsu was frightening. The thought of not having control of one's body was unsettling to Naruto. For a second, he resented Tayuya's ability to use genjutsu.

The boy was skilled, she could give him that, taking on six chuunin and come out unscathed was an accomplishment not easily scoffed toward. She was lucky that she didn't move into the battle immediately like the others.

In her amaze, as the boy finished and looked around the battle, she followed his gaze and found another shock. The firebrand of the sound four was still alive, her master would like to hear this news. Orochimaru-sama might even spare her for losing the men she had been leading.

A loud roar pierced the air, a chant of men victorious, a call to the heavens exclaiming who took victory under the sun. Euphoria took and the roar got louder and the warriors more frantic and rhythmic in their cheer. The war drum sounded in each of their throats, beating a mighty sound into the sky.

The call droned far and wide, falling down the hills into the other villages, keeping others from acting on the same idea. Battle would be met with victory and the victor shall be Kenichi. Any remnants of the Great Falcon's ideals died that day, killing the will of the sympathizers, leaving them to the weight on their backs.

Weapons raised above their heads, with the blood of their fallen enemies dripping off the blades. Donned armor, which was once clean and flawless, now carried the spilled blood and fluids of the dead. The bloodied and frenzied figures cheered, even as mangled bodies, bisected and punctured lay at their feet.

Naruto and Tayuya stood in front of Kenichi, the celebration had died only a little earlier the soldier calm and their veins running normally. Hot armor left lying on the ground, the owners gone to rest as the spirit of battle dimmed.

"I can't say that I owe you two for what you have done in battle, but it is obvious that my men would have stood at my side had it not been for the… morale boost that you gave them Naruto-san." Kenichi reached behind his back, retrieving a letter. "But, it is also obvious that both of you took on multiple opponents, neither of you breaking a sweat. Skill is admired, and a commodity. As with that, I wish to… hire you, as partners of a much larger enterprise that some close friends and I have in mind. I assure you that all of it will be legal."

Naruto stood there, surveying the man, a hard expression on his face, "Can't say I am all that interested." He turned to Tayuya with his eyebrow arched, "Are you interested Tayuya-chan?"

Tayuya turned to Naruto, shaking her head. Another job she could do with, a month long job she could also deal with, what this sounded like was much longer. The secretiveness of Kenichi also didn't help with persuading her.

"Ah, well hold on, give it time. Here, this letter encloses the entire details of what I am proposing. Read it, stew over the details. If, in a month's time you choose to accept or decline, there will be no skin of mine, or my friends', teeth."

Naruto took the letter, sealed closed by normal wax, with a decorative stamp seal on it. He turned the letter in his hand, inspecting it. Nothing stood out about it, nothing out of the ordinary and nothing of even pausing value.

"In the foot hills of the land of rivers, northeast of Konoha, you will find a nice resort, the anseijiraba (1), with natural hot springs and a quaint village there. You are welcome to stay there if you want, fully paid, to think this over. After a month and one week, someone will contact you about the offer; you are welcome to tell them your answer."

Naruto looked at Kenichi, over the letter he continued to inspect, his eyebrows displaying mild surprise; he looked at Tayuya, who answered him with a nod. The deal sounded too good to pass up.

"Fine, you got yourself a deal, we will think it over while we're there, I haven't read it yet so I can't say I will accept it, but I will give it as much thought as I can while I am there."

Kenichi's face picked up, his beady eyes somehow lighting up as well. "Good, good. I want to say that this could very well be the beginning of something great. Shall I give you a carriage to ride there? It could very well take up a week and a half, but I can promise a smoother ride this time."

Naruto backed up a bit, a smile on his face, "No, you don't have to, I think I got a faster way." Naruto looked back at Tayuya, to see her face contorted in confusion.

Kenichi was about to speak up when Naruto suddenly picked up Tayuya and rushed off, as light dust cloud picking up after him.

As the blonde and redhead disappeared behind his walls, he heard the girls yell out, "What the fuck? You could have fucking warned me!"

Chapter End

Chapter 17 end

(1) Anseijiraba – The resting mule. As always the translation is loose.

Okay, so here we go. First, I know it has almost been two years. This wasn't my plan on update speed, and I can't give you back precious hours waiting, or the will you had given up in this story. All I can say is sorry, and hope you tell me it is okay. Most of you probably have given up on the idea of updates happening, I can't give the solace of knowing. I would have to know first.

That was a lot shorter than what I thought it would be. Uh, by the by, that was only the apology.

The reasons, procrastination, I got to the point where I viewed this as work, and the level of inspiration was low for the longest time on this story. Lack of outer inspiration, I am mostly inspired by other works, what I see on this site sometimes helps me, but, even if my stories aren't the epitome of quality, I like to read quality works, and I found a lot of stagnation in what I read. Nothing bad, nothing good, all just level in quality. Didn't find inspiration in those works. I found some I liked, but that brought inspiration for different premises and prompts. I don't want to abandon this for a different multichapter work. Neither this nor Ordeals of a Yokai. The source material getting bland for me, I started to not like the direction of the Naruto series, and as such lost interest in Naruto and writing about Naruto. I somehow reagained the ability to write about the series, but gave up on the series itself very recently. I have no knowledge of the series past the point of the bijuu names (hopefully that was spoiler free and more of a teaser). It was happenings left and right that kept me away from the stories with a little added dread. The dread is gone, can't say what will happen in the future, but as long as nothing too bad happens I will try to write.

That was also shorter than what I expected. Then again I left out a bit more reasons, just because they are same-y in the effect they had on me.

Uh, I will try to answer any other questions you have in any reviews you might leave.

Also, while I am still a Naruto/Tayuya fan, I have started to get an interest in the Naruto/Fuu pairing. But the archive is so small in there if only someone (NOT ME) could make it bigger with good stories. (hint* hint* nudge* nudge* wink* wink*)

One last thing, I have a question to any returning fans, did this chapter go anywhere quality wise? ex. up, down, sideways, too the moon. Give me a bit of feedback on that. Review. Later.