A/N: You want to know the funny thing? This story used to have a prologue. Don't you just love writing? It's like putting together a puzzle sometimes. Oh, and I planned on this chapter being probably half the size it is. Yeah, didn't happen.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or Naruto. They belong to their creators and anyone who has legal claim. I get nothing from this except more sleep once I'm done with this plot bunny.
Chapter One – Alighting On a New Situation
"All journeys have secret destinations of which the traveler is unaware." – Martin Buber
"So, any idea where we are?"
"By the looks of it… no, not really." Harry watched with amusement as Luna merely nodded and calmly inspected their surroundings. She had a way about her that he'd never seen in anyone else. He could have told her that they were standing in the middle of a pit of vipers, and Luna would have merely asked him if he wanted to do the honors or her. That was partly why he'd asked her to join him on his… unconventional journey.
You really want me to come with you?
Of course. Who else would I take on a wild goose chase through potentially lethal worlds?
That's a very nice thing to say, Harry.
Besides that she was ruddy good with a wand and she knew him, though that little fact sometimes came back to bite him in the arse. Harry turned away from his brief thoughts to see Luna finish her survey of the area.
"Trees, grass, mountains in the distance, and," the cloaked blonde tilted her head to the side, her storm colored eyes unblinking as she listened carefully. "If I hear correctly there is a stream nearby in that direction."
Luna nodded her head towards a less dense area of forest to their left. Harry turned his head in the direction, listening carefully for the sound that his companion's ears had picked up in seconds. After a minute with no results he turned a thoughtful gaze on the woman.
"You're getting quite good at that," Harry said.
"Yes, I am." There wasn't even a hint of arrogance in the Ravenclaw's voice and the distracted look about her eyes told anyone that she was simply stating a fact. Luna stepped forward and Harry let her lead them through the trees. Five minutes in, he could finally hear the rushing of the water in the distance. Harry made a quick note to himself to work on his hearing while they were here. Luna had put a lot more effort into that than him, the gap in their ability was obvious now.
"Do we have a plan this time," Luna asked. She stopped for a moment and bent down to observe an unfamiliar plant growing through a rotting log. Harry felt for a pocket inside his own cloak and pulled out a small vial, knowing that his companion would want a sample to study later. She reached back and took it from his grasp without even looking.
"Nothing more than usual. Change clothes, observe, and then interact if the locals are friendly." Their cloaks were too heavy for the weather here. The last place they had been had snow thickly covering the ground, now the breeze that brushed by them was warm and bright sunshine broke through between branches filled with green leaves. Harry fingered the metal clasp at his chest but didn't take the cloak off yet. His clothes underneath the thick fabric were beginning to feel warm as well, but he simply cast a temporary cooling charm until they could reach the nearest water and rest. Luna was done with collecting samples by now and turned back towards their destination.
"I hope they are friendly here. The last two places we've been were rather lonely."
"Yes, well, that tends to happen when you encounter a self-destructing civilization and another on the brink of a second ice age."
"And no signs of any artifacts either."
"No, unfortunately not."
"We have the worst sort of luck, don't you think?"
"Yes, but I try not to dwell on it."
A few hours travel from the stream, brought the two to what looked like a large village or city. They had changed their clothes into something more fitting the climate of this place once they'd reached the stream. Both still wore identical cloaks, but they were lighter and parted to let in the comfortable breeze. Underneath each had made adjustments to their outfits. Luna had changed into a simple blue tunic with loose, dark leggings down to the knees. A thick leather belt was wrapped loosely around her midsection. Hanging from it was some of her equipment in a small pouch and a few handmade trinkets she insisted were protective charms.
Harry had opted for basic dark pants, arm guards, and a loose white shirt with a black vest made of a light material. It seemed that this world was one used to visible weaponry so each had a short sword at their waist. Harry had hidden a few other protective items within the compartments along one side of his vest and Luna had a dagger strapped to her thigh. Their wands were still hidden by glamour charms, tucked in holsters on their forearms for easy access. The outfits didn't look quite local, having been pieced together with what they had collected from their travels, but they were close enough to not draw unwanted attention. With the light packs slung over their shoulders they each looked like typical travelers, which in a way was true if it weren't for their unconventional means of travel.
They were entering the Land of Tea, they soon discovered. The main street led them into a shopping district, where several of the locals stood talking to each other or went about their daily business. There was a weight in the air, even as everyone tried to keep a cheerful disposition. Harry glanced at Luna, who had slipped into a thoughtful expression upon observing the natives.
"Something's off here. I wonder what."
"Most likely authority issues," Harry said. "Did you notice that symbol as we entered? I've counted at least twenty more depictions of it since then. At store entrances, on clothes, banners… They're all located in areas or on persons of better wealth from the looks of it."
"Greedy authority figures then. This certainly can't be good." Harry nodded, discretely eyeing a bruiser of a man with the same symbol on his back as he passed by.
"Very likely. I think avoiding trouble with them would be in our best interest."
"We'll see," Luna replied. Harry mentally groaned at her words. He hated to be reminded of his habit of getting involved. Luna wasn't one to give him an outright warning, but that only seemed to drive the message harder into his brain. It was one of her qualities he had to admire as much as he hated it. The two made their way to the end of the street, set on finding a place to stay for the night. As they moved to turn the corner they heard shouting from the street behind them.
"Heh, Hokages are nothing!"
"Boss Jirochou's the one who's not great!"
"You idiot! Boss Jirochou is a great man!"
"The Hokage is a very, very great ninja who places his life on the line for the village!" Their eyes landed on the two young men they must have passed by at some point, which was surprising with the vibrant orange jumpsuit the shorter blonde haired one was wearing. It reminded Harry of a Chudley Cannons jumper with matching hat and gloves that Ron had insisted on wearing for an entire week before his favorite team competed for the League Cup. Hermione had come close to burning the thing while he was still wearing it.
"That sounds interesting, doesn't it," Luna asked. She was still watching the two boys who had moved from arguing to ignoring each other. They looked young enough to be Hogwarts students, and acted like some of them as well. It seemed like a typical dispute among teenagers, though Harry had no idea what a Hokage was. He had a general idea of ninjas, having grown up in the muggle world, but neither boy looked like the image he had in his head. Harry had to blink a few times when he noticed a girl pop her head out of one of the stores to stare anxiously down the street at the boys. He hadn't seen hair that shade of bubblegum pink since Tonks, and he had a feeling that it was natural unlike the metamorphmagus. She wore a headband in her hair that looked identical to the one on the orange clad boy's forehead. So they were together, Harry thought. He took note of the symbol on the metal plate to investigate later.
"I have a feeling we won't be bored here. Come on, I think I saw a sign for an inn down that way." Harry started towards their previous route before the interruption, not even glancing back to know that Luna would follow. They hadn't had that many pleasant, local accommodations for a while and he knew she was looking forward to a nice place as much as he was. There was enough distance between them and the shopping area that the two travelers didn't hear the crash or the sound of fists on flesh only moments after the first scene. The story of another ninja taking down members of the Wagarashi clan would soon reach their ears though, confirming their assumptions concerning issues with the local authorities.
Only minutes after the first conflict that the witch and wizard were still unaware of at this point occurred they encountered two men and a young woman near the entrance of the inn they planned to enter. The girl looked terrified as the men loomed over her on either side, each with an over delighted gaze set on her pretty features.
"How would you like to spend some time with members of the great Wagarashi clan, eh," one asked, leaning forward. The box of supplies in the young woman's arms was clutched more tightly to her front, as if it would protect her in some way, but this only managed to draw the man's eyes towards her chest. His grin widened, as did the one on his companion's face. They each laughed and the second man reached out a hand to grab the girl's arm. That was all it took for Harry's bad habit to kick in. He noticed in the split second it took him to come between the man and the girl a familiar emblem was sewn into his sleeve, but at that point he didn't really care.
"I think you're keeping this young woman from her work," said Harry coolly. The man blinked for a moment in surprise before sneering at him. He was at least a head taller than Harry, which would have intimidated most as the man loomed over him rather menacingly. When one of your first friends in the wizarding world happened to be a half-giant though, you learn to take in a different perspective concerning height. With a quick survey of the man it seemed that other than his height, brute strength and a sword that looked as if it had hardly ever been used at all, the man didn't have much going for him. It was obvious that he got most of what he wanted simply by throwing around the name of this Wagarashi clan.
"You look new to the area so I'll give you fair warning, kid. Wagarashi clan runs this place. Stay out of our business." Harry bristled at being called a kid. He didn't look that young, did he? Sure, he wasn't very tall but surely he didn't look like a "kid". Somewhere behind him he could hear a giggle from his companion. At some point she'd joined him, blocking the other man from the girl.
"Luna," he said in warning.
"Size doesn't matter, you know." She said it with the most sincere, matter of fact voice that if he hadn't known she was laughing on the inside he would have been just as confused as the two men and girl. Harry could see the tensed muscles in her shoulders as he glanced back, evidence of restrained laughter instead of an eagerness to fight.
"Thank you so much for that image. Now, if you don't mind…" He trailed off as he noticed a large fist coming at his head from the corner of his eye. By instinct, Harry ducked under the punch and pushed into the man's chest to throw him off balance. It wasn't a particularly elegant move, but affective as it kept the man from hitting the girl behind him, and instead sent him a few steps back. With a well placed stab to a pressure point before the man could recover, he was down. Harry frowned at the easiness of the fight and then turned to see how Luna was doing. The girl was staring at Luna with wide eyes as the slender blonde sat cross legged on top of the second man's slumped figure. She'd taken a bag of Bertie Botts Beans from her small level pouch and was idly sorting through some in her hand before offering one of the safer colors to the still stunned girl.
"I'm fairly certain this one is a tea flavor… or it could be caterpillar. I never could tell between those two." The girl took it without a word, still a little dazed by the quick and practically non-existent fight. She seemed to be coming around though as she paused with the jelly bean halfway to her mouth when Luna's words finally sunk in. Harry stooped to pick up the box the young woman had dropped and handed it to her. She came completely out of her stupor and began thanking them each with deep bows that nearly dropped the box out of her hands again.
It turned out that the girl worked at the inn that they were about to enter, and the innkeeper welcomed them happily after learning that they had helped the girl who also turned out to be her young niece. She seemed worried at first when she saw the two unconscious members of the Wagarashi clan in front of her inn, but Harry assured her that they would help prevent any repercussions from their actions against the clan that he had recently learned had claim over the area, which was called Degarashi Port. Again, the woman feared that his plan to eliminate the problem might mean a seedier situation than she wanted, but Harry quickly reassured her.
"We are not in the business of killing, Innkeeper-san. We're simply peaceful travelers."
"Yes, who happen upon trouble more often than not. It makes for some lovely stories at least," Luna said as she made her way back outside to the Wagarashi clan members. Harry would leave the job of altering their memories to the odd witch. They might wake thinking that they'd encountered a Crumple-Horned Snorkack or Gnargle infested mistletoe, but her skills with memory altering techniques were better than his own. It was another area of expertise, he admitted, he hadn't given much effort to in school or during their travels. It was one that he didn't mind being less talented in however, in order to focus on other areas.
After they were settled in their room and got to finally rest a little, they went downstairs where the old innkeeper thanked them. She immediately invited them to the race that would be in the morning tomorrow.
"Most of my rooms are booked for the Todoroki Shrine Race. Many people like to come to see the opening ceremony and then stay for the results of the race between the Wagarashi and Wasabi clans. I am praying that the Wasabi clans' racer has swift feet this year. It's been hard with the Wagarashi putting heavier taxes on us all."
"The race decides who has control over the Port then?"
"Yes, this year we all hope for the best, though it's difficult to say what will happen with the Wagarashi's dirty tricks."
Both interested in the story, they accompanied the innkeeper and her family the next morning to the port to watch the beginning of the race. A large crowd circled the two racers and two familiar figures stood near one of them as they prepared.
"Oh, so those are the Konoha ninjas Wasabi hired? I was expecting someone a little older," said the Innkeeper.
"Konoha," Luna questioned.
"You really are foreign to here. Konoha is one of the best hidden ninja villages. Wasabi-sama hired them to protect his racer. I heard one of them already had an encounter with some of the Wagarashi clan that didn't end well for the three men." Harry and Luna asked for more details on Konoha and the Innkeeper told them what she knew from rumors and travelers from the area. There had been an attack recently that upset their alliance with Sand, which they then had to ask for details on, and dealt their village a heavy blow. They were currently in the process of recovering under their new Hokage, the leader of the ninja village, which was a piece of information that interested the two the most.
While everyone else focused on the long ceremony before the signal for the race to start, Harry and Luna watched the three ninja with interest. There were the two they had seen before and one with dark hair and a bored expression completed the small team.
"Konoha sounds interesting."
"Yeah, and if this team is any indication of what a ninja village has to offer, I don't think we'll be bored. I wonder if that girl's hair color is natural…" Harry trailed off as he looked at the only girl of the team.
"I suppose this means we're heading towards Konoha then," Luna said, pulling him out of his scrutiny from afar of the pink tresses. Harry nodded, putting his focus back on his companion.
"It sounds like a good plan right now. I just hope it doesn't backfire on us."
"Careful what you say, Harry. You might jinx us."
"We're known for getting ourselves into some tight spots. I'm just basing my worries on facts."
"We're just as easily known for getting ourselves out of them, if I remember correctly."
"If you say so," Harry said, giving her a small smile. "But we wouldn't be known for the latter if we weren't known so well for the first. Anyway, we should find an accurate map of this place, find out where we should be heading once the race is over."
"I'm glad we got here in time for such an event," Luna grinned as they heard the signal and saw the two racers take off with a speed that was rarely found in their own world. "Perhaps I should make us hats to wear at the end of the race to cheer on the Wasabi clan." Harry chuckled, offering his arm to the blonde as they followed the rest of the crowd to see the racers and ninja team hurry down the port. Everyone watched with interest, and shock for those who had seen the races many times before, as the Wasabi clan racer diverted from the usual route. Murmurings sprung up through the crowd and settled in the two separate clans on opposite sides of the spectators. The Wasabi clan looked disappointed and worried, while the man who seemed to be the leader stood strong and silent against the speculations.
"I hope he has a good plan. It'd be terrible to see that clan continue their control." They both watched as the Wagarashi clan moved towards the Wasabi clan, most likely to insult the other clan for their supposed weakness. The rest of the crowd slowly began to disperse, and the innkeeper urged them to hurry to one of the boats that would take them to the shrine where they would see the end of the race. Harry and Luna followed them through the small clumps of remaining family and friends chatting. The available ships and boats would be leaving soon as they had little time to get to the other island before the runners did, even with the rest they often took at the check point.
Harry paused when he felt a sensation come over him. It was like light flashing across his mind and trickling down his insides in liquid form. The feeling was both comfortable in its familiarity, as it resonated with a power within his core and disturbing since it often reminded him of the dark history behind it all. Luna pressed her hand worriedly into his arm where it rested, pulling him out of his daze. He searched the crowd, looking at each person and object carefully but he didn't feel anything again. It couldn't be simply left at that, though. He'd felt that before, and it always meant what he was looking for was close. Whatever it was, it had moved out of range almost as soon as he'd passed it.
"I hope that look doesn't mean we're cancelling our trip to Konoha," Luna said once she saw his attention was back on her. Harry shook his head.
"We'll still go," he said. "It just might take a little longer if I don't locate whatever it was soon. I'm guessing it wasn't active, otherwise I would have been able to feel it whether or not it was in range." Luna nodded in understanding. The energy wasn't something that could be easily hidden from Harry. The abilities that he had, one of them the reason they could travel to these new and different worlds, were the reason that the artifacts they'd found on their journeys were made in the first place.
"Come on, we'll miss the boat if we don't hurry." They resumed their steady pace to the last boat both a little more focused on their own minds than before.
"Thank goodness the rain has stopped," the old innkeeper said. It seemed like the entire population of the city was huddled under the little shelter provided. Harry stood next to the old woman and her family while Luna was crouched down a little ways away working on something blocked by the crowd and her small frame. As the spectators inched out of the shelter to the area where the runners were expected to show soon, Harry went to her side and Luna finally stood up with a look of satisfaction in her eyes.
"I didn't have much to work with but I managed to make one for each of us." Luna raised her hands showing what she had been working on. In each hand she held a simple straw hat with the words "Go Wasabi Clan" on a banner hanging along the lip in front. Harry raised an eyebrow at the hats before taking the one offered to him.
"Where did you get those?"
"I transfigured some plants, Harry. It was rather simple really. You better put yours on now. I think I hear running in the distance." He probably had a while before the runner got close enough to see, but Harry obediently strapped the hat onto his head. The banner fell over his line of sight but a whispered charm made everything visible again. Harry smiled back at Luna who had placed her own hat on her head. He couldn't see the top half of her face, but by the smile on her lips and the very direct tilt of her head he could tell she had placed the same charm on her hat to see. Harry's smile fell only moments later as a more intense feeling of light flashing through his mind overwhelmed him. Luna frowned as she noticed the tensing of his shoulders.
"It's been activated," Harry said.
"You know the location?"
"Yes. I'll be back before the end of the race if this goes well." Luna nodded her head and watched as Harry moved towards the trees behind them and disappeared.
"I should have told you. The Sword of the Thunder God can cut through anything. It even cuts through chakra as if it were water."
"Run Naruto!" Naruto growled as he watched the enemy nin turn to Idate after his shout to escape. The needles in his legs were only mildly irritating compared to this ninja who turned his back on him like he wasn't a threat at all. Idate's words only made him more annoyed and the ever present urge to prove himself grew stronger.
"Hey, your fights with me remember," Naruto shouted. The green haired man didn't look like he would take the bait though as he went straight into a speech, making Naruto even more annoyed at his words.
"Only a weakling depends on others, trusting other people to give him the strength he hasn't got," he finally said. Naruto opened his mouth to protest when he heard an accented voice coming from the trees to his right.
"Why is it that the bad guy always gives a monologue in the middle of battle? It's almost as if they hope to talk their enemy to death." They all turned to watch as a man in a straw hat and dark cloak made his way out of the woods. Naruto blinked a few times at the banner concealing the man's eyes that read "Go Wasabi Clan" in bright green letters.
"Who are you," the enemy ninja asked. He sneered at the stranger who didn't seem threatened in any way, though it was hard to tell with half his face covered.
"I'm just here for the sword. I don't usually introduce myself in this sort of situation." The ninja bristled at these words, raising the sword angrily in his hand.
"A petty thief thinks he can take the Sword of the Thunder God from me? I am undefeatable with its power!" A sigh escaped the stranger's mouth, stirring the fabric hanging above it slightly. Naruto leaned forward, eager to catch a glimpse of the hidden face but it was still blocked by the banner.
"They always say that too," the man said, more to himself than anyone else. The enemy ninja seemed to have had enough of chatting and leapt towards the stranger, sword raised and eyes wide with anger. The cloaked man didn't move from his spot, even as Idate yelled for him to run and Naruto tried moving to intervene. The stranger calmly raised his right arm and looked as if he were simply going to grab the fiery blade in his bare hand. Before the insane gesture could be seen through with the ninja suddenly dodged, avoiding a cluster of kunai that flew at him. The stranger's concealed gaze turned to look at a spot behind Naruto.
"Naruto, Idate!" Naruto looked over his shoulder to see his two teammates posed to fight.
"Ah, Sakura-chan! You guys got here just in time." Sasuke glared at the ninja and then turned a wary eye to the stranger who now looked slightly curious, though it was difficult to tell with only the turn of his lips to go by.
"Naruto, who is this guy?"
"Your guess is as good as mine. He just showed up." The strange man raised his hands in front of him, still looking curious and unconcerned with the look Sasuke was giving him or the glare from the ninja to his right as he spoke.
"I just need the sword and then I'll be out of your hair, I assure you."
"Like you could handle the power of this sword!" The ninja darted towards the man again. The Konoha ninja all tensed, ready to defend but the stranger still looked apathetic to his enemy's wrath. Sasuke moved to fight the enemy nin off, but the distance between the two men was too short compared to how far he had to go. The stranger hadn't even dropped his arms when the ninja collided with him in a storm of dust and flashes of light.
Everyone's eyes widened and Sakura gasped as they made out the scene through the settling dust. The cloaked stranger seemed almost unaffected by the fierce attack, though his lips had pressed thin in seriousness. His demeanor was vacant of any previous emotions and replaced by a sober coldness. The only change in his stance was the position of his hands as they wrapped around the blade and hilt of the sword. His opponent stared, wide eyed and frozen as he continued to hold on to the remainder of the hilt in shock.
"You don't know the limits of a weapon you rely so heavily on, both in how far it can take you and what it takes to defeat it. Even if you had the capacity for its power, you don't have the mind-set so I suggest you just let go." A scream escaped the ninja's lips as his hand was burnt by the hilt of the sword. He staggered back, clutching his injured hand with his other. The blade of light disappeared from the Thunder God's sword and the stranger calmly tucked it away within his cloak. He then took a step back towards the trees but stopped as the green haired ninja extended a shaking hand.
"How dare you take-"
"I have no more business with you," the stranger cut him off. Before anyone could move, he melted into the shadows of the woods and was gone.
A/N: You are all probably all wondering where I'm going with this, what's going on, yada yada yada. Yeah, I wish I knew too. Just kidding! Sort of… Anyway, as you may have noticed, I've started this story around episode 102 of the anime. This story doesn't exist in the manga. So, tell me what you think? Love it, hate it? Want me to dance on hot coals for making you read this story? Whatever your opinion I want to hear it. I'll have the next chapter up as soon as possible if the reviews are positive. Thanks for reading!