NOTE TO EVERYONE!! There is an Author's note at the base of the page, please read to clear up any misunderstandings in Chapters 1 and 2!! Anything else, send me a PM.
Naruto walked slowly down the road, trying not to cry. Team 7 had just finished a C-rank mission in the Land of Waves - they had been protecting the master bridge builder, Tazuna. Naruto had not liked Tazuna at first, but as they travelled and he understood Tazuna's situation, had begun to feel some empathy towards the man. But throughout the whole mission, both Sasuke and Sakura had been insulting him and making him feel worthless. He acted as if their insults merely bounced off without making an impact, but they did. They hurt so much. Why did everyone hate him? Why? he wondered sadly. Every time he passed through the town, the villagers threw stones and knives at him, and even the students at the academy had hated him. He had no friends. Earlier today, Sakura Haruno, a kunoichi in his team, told him he was a loser and a dead-last and that he should just go away and die somewhere. Why? Why do they hate me so much? he wondered again. For as long as he could remember, he had been hated by the villagers. Even Iruka-sensei hated him. His former sensei tried to act kindly towards him, but he knew, he could see the hatred in the man's eyes. Why? Why the hatred?
Suddenly, Naruto heard a noise behind him. The 9 year old turned, only to be met with a kunai that whizzed out of the darkness. No……… he screamed mentally. Not again! Almost every week, an assassination attempt was made on his life as he went home. Most times, he managed to escape alive, but lately, they had been getting worse, as if stronger and stronger ninja were taking on the task to try and end his life. Naruto began to run as a hail of kunai fell around him. This was his only chance of survival, running. But it didn't last long. He felt a sudden breeze pass him, and suddenly, a masked shinobi stood in front of him. The small boy came to a sudden halt, and backed away, only to feel the point of a knife at his throat and the warmth of a body behind him.
"Heh, heh, got you now, demon," said the masked ninja. "Look at me, bijuu boy, do you know what I am?" Naruto fearfully shook his head, his small frame trembling in abject fear. The other shinobi behind him chuckled maliciously.
"I am an ANBU," said the shinobi, laughing sadistically at Naruto's horrified expression. "Yes, I see that you know what I mean. Not so stupid as you look, eh, bijuu boy?" Naruto's body began to shake in earnest. He knew what the man meant. Being an ANBU meant that the ninja before him had exceptional powers of killing and abuse. He would never escape alive. The ninja shifted and tightened his grip on the kunai in his hand. "Let the fun begin!" he said menacingly. The other ninja let go of Naruto and they proceeded to stab, kick and burn the boy with different jutsus. Naruto's body curled involuntarily into a fetal position, trying to escape the constant, brutal pain. A harsh kick met his side, and he screamed, feeling one of his ribs crack under the cruel pressure. He didn't know if he could take much more……. One of his arms was already broken, and now his ribs. He already had multiple kicks to the head. Then he heard a voice.
"Katon: Ryuuka no Jutsu!" A scream of utter agony was ripped from the young boy's throat as fire burnt his body mercilessly. He could feel his skin giving way under the two blasts of fire charring his body from either side. Why? was his last thought, before slipping into unconsciousness. Why me?
Naruto awoke slowly. His azure eyes cracked themselves open, straining to see through the murky darkness surrounding him. Where am I? he wondered. Am I dead?
"Silly kit. Of course you're not dead." came a sudden, booming voice. Naruto jumped and looked around frantically.
"Wh-Who are you?" he cried in fright, the murky water around his ankles splashing sluggishly with his movements. A laugh answered him.
"I am the Kyuubi no Kitsune, otherwise known as the Nine-tailed Demon Fox." Naruto's eyes widened. Wha-? He was extremely confused. The laugh came again.
"Come forward, kit." Naruto looked doubtful. "Just do it." came the voice again. Naruto took tentative steps forward, until he came to a huge cage. The small boy stared. He was even more confused now. Then he jumped back in surprise and slight fear. Two huge, red, glowing eyes had appeared out of the darkness of the cage. They got bigger as the form came closer, revealing to Naruto a large crimson fox, with thick fur and nine large bushy crimson tails.
"Who-Who are you, and where am I?" queried Naruto uncertainly. The fox smiled, exposing sharp, pure white teeth and dangerous fangs and squatted down on his haunches. Naruto looked at it in confusion.
"Have a seat, kit. This explanation is going to take a while." A chair suddenly appeared beside the boy, and Naruto sat down, looking expectantly at the fox. Its nine tails swished before it began.
"Alright. For starters, I am the Kyuubi no Kitsune, or the Nine-tailed Demon Fox. Surely you have heard stories of the Demon who attacked Konohagakure no sato during the reign of the Yondaime Hokage?" Naruto nodded, still slightly confused. He couldn't see where this was going. The fox nodded and continued:
"Well, I am that Demon. " He waited for Naruto's reaction. He was not disappointed. The small boy freaked, almost falling off of his chair.
"Y-You! What are you going to do to me?" Kyuubi chuckled.
"Calm down, kit," he ordered. Naruto instantly settled down. The fox proceeded with his explanation.
"I attacked the village, because I had been put under a special seal by Madara Uchiha. When I came to, I was inside you. I decided to watch your life from inside your mindscape, in other words, from here inside this cage." Naruto stared. This was his mindscape? So…..if Kyuubi was in his mindscape, and the Yondaime had sealed the demon inside a small child, then that meant……………….that meant……
"That I am a Jinchuuriki," he said out loud. The fox grunted in approval.
"Yes, kit. You are indeed a Jinchuuriki, a Human Sacrifice." Naruto nodded in understanding. Then his face fell.
"You are the reason why the villagers hate me." he stated quietly. Kyuubi grew quiet, not knowing what to reply to the statement.
"I'm sorry kit, but I had no control over what I did. Also, you should not let their foolish hate deter you from becoming strong." Naruto nodded, new understanding dawning on his small face. He suddenly perked up again.
"Are there other Jinchuuriki?"
"Yes," replied Kyuubi. "There are actually eight other Bijuu, but only six Jinchuuriki."
"How is that?" asked Naruto. "I would've thought that there would've been an equal number of Bijuu and Jinchuuriki."
"Well, that is because not all of the Bijuu have been sealed. As I said, there are eight other Bijuu besides me. I am the most powerful, being the Nine-tails, and all the other Bijuu bow to my superior power. The line of Bijuu, starting with the weakest, is Ichibi no Shukkaku, the one-tails, Nibi no Bakeneko, the two-tails, Sanbi no Kyodaigame, the three-tails, Yonbi no Saru, the four-tails, Gobi no Irukaume, the five-tails, Rokubi no Namekuji, the six-tails, Shichibi no Kabutomushi, the seven-tails, Itachibi no Kyogyu, the eight-tails, and myself." Naruto was, to say the least, awed.
"Wow……." he said, looking dazed. Kyuubi laughed, then grew serious.
"Kit, listen to me. If you stay in this village any longer, they will kill you. You must leave, tonight, and I will train you from inside your mindscape. Go home now, and start packing your things. Then, we will go to a different town, get you a change of clothing, and start your training." Naruto nodded in comprehension. Kyuubi continued:
"I have healed your wounds, just think about the outside world to leave your mindscape. You will be able to communicate with me at any time just by thinking whatever you want to say. Remember, do not speak out loud, or else you will attract unwanted attention."
"Hai!" Naruto said, grinning. The small boy focused and thought of the road close to his home. As he did so, the murky landscape of his mind faded, and the real world came slowly back into focus. Naruto got up slowly from the ground. His body was unhurt; Kyuubi had healed all of his wounds. The blonde ran home, and began to pack, sealing all of his items in various Generic Seals. His only set of kunai, a few battered shuriken, and some simple exploding tags.
"We'll get you some new ninja tools when you leave, kit," came Kyuubi's voice. "For now, just concentrate on packing as quickly as you can, we need to leave before daybreak." Naruto followed Kyuubi's orders and began packing faster. It wasn't long before he finished; being an orphan meant that he didn't have much belongings. Then he sat down and wrote a note to the Sandaime Hokage.
"Old man, I'm sorry, but I have to leave the village. I don't know if I'll be back or when I'll be back. If I have caused you any pain, again I'm sorry, but I couldn't take the hatred any longer.
"Alright, come on now, kit," came Kyuubi's impatient voice. "Daybreak is nearing. We have to go." The blonde boy laid the note on the desk in his salon, and, pausing beside the table, raised his hand to his forehead. His fingers touched the cold metal of his hitai-ate, and they stilled, as he tried to make a decision. Finally, with Kyuubi urging him to hurry, he drew off the item identifying him as a Konoha ninja and left the house without a second glance. Kakashi-sensei or Sasuke would find the note in the morning, when he did not come to practice. For now, he had to concentrate on getting across the border of the Fire Country.
The boy ran with great speed through the town, leaping lightly from roof to roof as he went. He had to get to the gates as quickly as possible; if he waited until daybreak, the town would be awake then and it would be harder to leave. The large iron-wrought gates of Konohagakure no sato soon came into view. Naruto snuck out, making sure the ninjas at the gate didn't sense him; or if they did, the only thing they would see would be a flash of orange and bright yellow. The blonde boy exhaled in relief as he passed the small ninja booth where the two Jounin on guard duty sat. One obstacle down.
"Don't relax yet, kit," came Kyuubi's deep voice. "Remember, you still have to pass the Fire Country borders."
'Yeah', replied Naruto, picking up the pace. He only had about two and a half hours before training time came around and therefore only two and a half hours before he could safely say that no one had noticed his departure.
'Where do you want me to go?' he asked Kyuubi. He had no idea which ninja village he should stop at first.
"Probably a smaller village, like Hidden in the Mist, or Hidden in the Cloud." said Kyuubi, thoughtfully. "I should opt for Hidden in the Cloud, you've already been to Hidden in the Mist, and so they know you there. We can't afford to let any ninja from Konohagakure to find out your location. Remember, you're a nuke-nin now."
'Yeah……' said Naruto, sighing. 'How far are we from the border, Kyuubi?' There was a short pause as Kyuubi, through Naruto's eyes, tried to determine the distance in terms of time.
"I'd say about one hour, kit. So go a little faster." Wordlessly, Naruto began to run faster, pumping chakra to his legs in order to give him more impetus. He only had about 45 minutes before his training time. With that in mind, the blonde boy ran faster and faster, until the forest began to thin out into a sort of desert.
"Well done, kit. You've come out of the Fire Country. You're about two miles from Sunagakure now. Just be careful in that town."
'Hai.' replied Naruto. He carefully concealed himself in a clump of trees and sat down, breathing slightly heavier than usual. That sure had been a rigorous run.
"Why are you stopping, kit?" asked Kyuubi. Naruto sweatdropped.
'Oi, just because you're a demon and don't need to eat or rest for a long period of time, doesn't mean that I can do the same,' he said, slightly exasperated. Kyuubi snickered. Ignoring him, Naruto drew out two seals, one marked Food, and the other marked Water. He bit his thumb and swiped it once across each seal. With a faint 'poof,' ninja rations, ramen and a canteen of water appeared on each scroll. Grinning hugely, Naruto picked up the ramen, but stopped when he realized he had no water. His face fell dramatically, and Kyuubi began to laugh.
"Itadakamisu," grumbled Naruto, picking up the ninja rations. 'Stupid Kyuubi', he thought.
"Hey! I can hear you, you know!" said Kyuubi indignantly. Naruto smirked.
'That's the point.' Naruto's chuckle filled the clearing as Kyuubi grumbled about ungrateful hosts and cheeky little brats. The blonde boy, finished with his meal, straightened and did some stretches, before repacking his scrolls and shrugging on his ninja backpack.
'Ready to go!' he said excitedly to Kyuubi. 'I'm not going to stop in Sunagakure no Sato, I have enough energy and rations to last me until I reach Hidden in the Clouds. Besides, I can't risk being seen, even though I don't know any ninja from Hidden in the Sand. My blonde hair is too distinctive, they would definitely remember me if Sandaime asked. And, I'm not sure whether or not they noticed my absence yet. Remember, I'm the village 'demon', so they can't afford me just going off like that. Sandaime would also probably send some ANBU after me.'
"True." remarked Kyuubi, impressed at his host's reasoning. "Well, let's get going."
Naruto sprang up and began running again. While he didn't mention it to Kyuubi, he was still slightly nervous that Sandaime would send ninjas to bring him back to the village, and even though he was stronger than he let on, he would still be no match for a trained Jounin. He subconsciously went faster, his nervous mind urging him on. He soon passed Sunagakure no Sato, grinning with victory when the Sand ninjas didn't even look his way.
'Mission accomplished, Kyuubi.' he said to his inner demon. He was met with snores. What? How could Kyuubi sleep whilst he was running for his life? Naruto grumbled to himself, then decided to keep an eye out whilst he ran. You never knew what or who might stop you as you travelled. Already the desert was beginning to give way to shrubs and taller trees, not exactly a forest, but normal foliage. He was getting closer to Hidden in the Clouds.
'Oi, wake up Kyuubi,' he called to his sleeping demon. No response. 'WAKE UP!' he yelled mentally. The snores were cut off abruptly as Kyuubi woke with a start.
"What?" he growled. Damn that kit for waking him up like that. Naruto chuckled.
'We're close to Cloud,' he told Kyuubi. 'So I'm going to stop there.'
"Alright, kit." replied Kyuubi. Naruto approached the gates of the village, only to be stopped by the customary Jounin ninja at the gate.
"Who are you, and where are you from?" queried the ninja blocking his way. Naruto looked him over. He was dressed in all black; standard black ninja pants, a black mesh shirt, and a black flak jacket with the Jounin Cloud symbol at the back. He wore his hitai-ate around his neck loosely.
"My name is –"
Kyuubi interrupted. "Don't tell him your real name." Naruto continued with slight annoyance. Geez, couldn't Kyuubi give him some credit? He had already thought of an alias.
"Akuma Hiai, former Konoha nin." With a searching glance, the man stepped out of Naruto's pathway and gestured for him to enter. The blonde nodded, and entered the village, smiling grimly as he pondered his new name. Grieving Demon; it suited him.
Naruto looked around at the village as he entered. It reminded him of Leaf; only on a smaller scale. He felt right at home. The only things missing were the Hokage tower, and the glares and hateful comments from the passing villagers. But of course, he didn't miss the latter.
"You'd better stock up on your ninja supplies, kit." commented Kyuubi.
'Good idea.' replied Naruto. He looked around. Hmmm….Now where was the ninja store? Ah, there it is. The young boy walked over to the store and entered it. His eyes widened. It was chock-full of every possible shinobi tool he could've ever imagined. Kunai, shuriken, katanas, exploding tags, backpacks, soldier pills, makibishi, kama, senbon, everything he had ever seen or used, and a few more which he was unfamiliar with. Where to start? He mused. Probably with the kunai; he needed a good set. Naruto strolled down the aisle of kunai, picking out choice ones made of different metal and different uses. Some he could channel chakra through, others he could coat with chakra and still others were made of a special metal that aided a shinobi's throwing technique. He browsed through until a special set caught his eye. They were obviously expensive; but he had lots of money, and this set would last him a long time. He picked them up and kept the others he had gathered along his way through the aisle. Next: the other aisle, he thought. Soon he had gathered quite an armful of tools; shuriken, kunai, senbon, makibishi, and a series of exploding tags of different proportions. He had also picked up a few Generic Seals, and one Special Seal for an idea he had in mind. Suddenly Kyuubi, who had been silent from the moment he entered the store, spoke up.
"Get the kodachi on your right." Naruto looked in the direction that Kyuubi had pointed him in. His eyes landed on a slim-bladed sword with a black guard and gently curved contours. 'Kodachi, huh? What do you want me to get this for, Kyuubi?' he asked.
"I'm going to teach you kenjutsu, kit. The art of swordsmanship," he added, knowing Naruto was about to ask him the meaning of kenjutsu. Naruto shrugged and picked it up. Whatever, Kyuubi must have a good reason. His arms full, he made his way to the front and laid the items in a heap in front of the proprietor.
His pocket noticeably lighter, Naruto made his way across the street to the shinobi clothing store. His grin was obvious; it was time for something he had always wanted to do, but couldn't in Konoha, because no store would sell him proper shinobi clothing. To them, he was the 'demon' of Konoha, and didn't deserve to become a shinobi. Naruto shrugged off the disturbing thoughts and entered the shop.
An hour later, a completely different individual exited the shop. The blonde shinobi was dressed in standard black ninja pants, a black mesh shirt, and a black cloak that reached his knees. Instead of a hitai-ate, a black silken cloth was wound around his head and tied at the back. He also wore combat boots, with weighted soles, and a small catch at the sides that released a small blade on the heel of the boot when hit. Black fingerless gloves adorned his hands with a pair of metal knuckles, and a belt was slung around his waist. Attached to the belt was a hip pouch containing his shinobi tools. A shiny kodachi was strapped to his back. The shinobi's face was concealed by a black mask that left only one blue eye visible and obscured all of his other features. His clothing showed off his muscled physique, telling every person who knew Shinobi that this individual was one to be reckoned with. The figure stopped in the street, looking around.
'What next, Kyuubi?' asked Naruto, scanning the street. Kyuubi thought for a moment,
"Get something to eat, and some rest, then we'll look about staying in Cloud." ordered Kyuubi. "Tomorrow we'll train."
'Okay!' replied Naruto.
The young blonde continued down the street, looking for a ramen shop. He soon found one and quickly entered it. In no time at all, he was sitting at a table in front of 10 steaming bowls of miso ramen, consuming them at an alarming rate. Naruto kept his eyes and ears out for any signs of danger while he ate, having learned the hard way from the Konoha villagers the merits of being wary. His efforts were rewarded.
About 20 minutes after he entered the shop, on his fourth bowl of ramen, a tall, muscular man wearing shinobi's clothing under a daimyo's robes entered the shop. Naruto observed him discreetly whilst pretending to be wholly absorbed in his ramen. He was obviously an experienced shinobi: his tanned, worn face was littered with multiple scars, and black, piercing deep-set eyes roamed the shop quickly, searching for any possible spies, before leaning over the counter to speak in hushed tones to the proprietor. Naruto strained his ears, but couldn't hear.
'Kyuubi, can you hear them?' he asked.
"No, but you can." replied Kyuubi. Naruto frowned ever so slightly down at his ramen.
'How? I tried straining my ears but I still can't hear.' Kyuubi chuckled.
"Not like that, kit. Just send some chakra to your ears, slowly, or else you will get a headache from the influx of sound." Naruto focused, and willed some chakra to his ears. A cacophony of sound immediately met his more sensitive organs, and the Jinchuuriki had to focus on the two voices by the counter.
Still managing to look absorbed in his food, Naruto began to eavesdrop.
"..Akuma Hiai….no, never heard of him……"
The snatches of conversation only made Naruto more confused, and he retracted the chakra from his ears, preferring to meet whatever challenge awaited him head-on.
"Kit, I think that something may happen to you when you come out," remarked Kyuubi. "From his words, the daimyo probably wants to assess your level as a shinobi. They probably need to because they have no knowledge of an Akuma Hiai."
'Mm….' replied Naruto distantly. He just hoped that if they send shinobi after him, they would be either high Chuunin or low Jounin level; he couldn't afford to fight at full power and advertise to everyone his latent strength.
The blonde shinobi pushed away his tenth bowl of ramen and came to his feet, his hunger sated. The daimyo had left the shop moments before, and as Naruto passed the proprietor, the plump man gave him a long, searching look. As Naruto stepped out into the street, the darkness immediately swallowed him, concealing him from prying eyes. Naruto suppressed the urge to look around to see if he was being tailed, and without a glance at the shadows surrounding him, continued down the street, walking as if he had not a care in the world. As he reached the center of the street, where a few villagers still walked, Naruto's sharp eyes caught a slight, stealthy movement as a lone shadow detached itself from the other black mass of shadows. He was being followed.
"Someone's following us, kit." said Kyuubi, stating the obvious.
'Yeah, I know.' replied Naruto. 'But I'm not going to fight out here in the open street.' The blonde turned quickly down into a small, dimly lit street. After quickly checking that there was no threat around, he spun in the opposite direction to face his attacker.
"What do you want?" he asked harshly, slipping into a Taijutsu stance. He was going to use Taijutsu only to defeat his opponent; he didn't want to waste chakra, nor show the entire shinobi world his true strength. The Kumo shinobi made no attempt at an answer; instead, he lunged forward and began throwing powerful, high-speed punches and chops at various places on Naruto's body. Naruto easily dodged them all, parrying the blows with some of his own, and deciphering the mode of Taijutsu. The man was obviously a Taijutsu master: he was using the Ryuusei style, a combination of the three simpler styles of Tora, Washi and Saru. Naruto smirked. He had already mastered Ryuusei; and was currently working on Tsuki. Sarutobi had given him the Taijutsu scrolls and hired an ANBU to help him practice. Within 7 months, Naruto was able to fight on an even level with the ANBU using the Ryuusei style, and just before he became a Genin, he had partially completed the Tsuki style. Naruto came back to the present, realizing that he had automatically been blocking his opponent's punches. He needed to end this spar now.
Naruto dodged a super-fast punch and quickly darted behind the Kumo shinobi, using his right foot to kick the surprised male in his neck. The shinobi toppled like a fallen tree, unconscious. Naruto grimaced. That last kick must've been too hard. Now what to do? Kyuubi interrupted his musings.
"Wake him up and make him take you to the daimyo. You could always use Kumogakure no sato as your base if they become your ally." Naruto nodded.
'Good idea.' he commented. Kyuubi just smirked in reply. Naruto walked over to the shinobi's prone figure and nudged him with a boot-clad foot. The man didn't move. Naruto sighed and drew out a canteen of water, and then splashed some onto the unconscious shinobi's face. That did it. The man woke with a start, then, seeing Naruto, instantly shifted into a defensive stance. Naruto simply looked at him and smirked.
"Take me to your daimyo," he ordered. "I want to see him. Now." The shinobi looked undecided, and then he straightened and began to turn away.
"Come." he stated to Naruto.
The blonde boy followed the shinobi through the town's streets until they came to a large wooden building with no sign or name. The shinobi entered the wooden structure and Naruto followed. It was well lit; and obviously was a sort of waiting room, where citizens with complaints or shinobi looking for work could see the daimyo. Naruto stood silently beside the shinobi in the deserted room as he spoke in hushed tones to the shinobi secretary. Then he turned to Naruto.
"The daimyo will see you tomorrow morning here at 9:00 am. He is currently not in Kumogakure, my apologies." Naruto nodded to the two shinobi and exited the building, melting into the shadows. He made his way to the hotel at which he was staying and ascended to his room to have a talk with Kyuubi and a good rest.
'Kyuubi, do you think Konoha has noticed my disappearance yet?' he queried of the demon fox.
"No." replied Kyuubi. "I do not think your disappearance will be noted until tomorrow morning. Remember, this is not the first time you missed training. The last time you disappeared, you had been at the lake, and you told Kakashi that if ever you disappeared again, that is where you would be. By the time Kakashi remembers this, you'll be long gone, and it'll be tomorrow morning."
'Yeah,' replied Naruto. 'I'm gonna get up at 6:00 am for a few hours' training before I meet with the daimyo. I've got a few jutsus to master.'
"Good idea, kit." commented Kyuubi. "Now get some sleep, it is getting late."
"Mmmm…" replied Naruto, his eyes already beginning to droop closed. He was tired…… Man, it felt good not having to worry about anyone coming in during the night. Naruto fell asleep, his slumber uninterrupted by nightmares for the first in his life.
Authors Note: It has come to my attention that there are a few discrepancies in the first section of the story. First, this is sort of a fantasy Naruto world of my own creation, where the children enter the Academy at 5 years old, and spend about 3 years there, and so graduate when they are 9. This is why Naruto is only 9 at the beginning of the story. Then in Chapter 2, there is the matter of a 9 year old being able to do the Rasengan - that's because lil' Naruto's a sort of prodigy. It's kinda also to show how much like Yondaime he is - the following chapters will explain.