Sorry for the lateness, I was out fishing with my dad all day and by the time I got back it hurt to THINK. Well, ladies, gentlemen... Yaridovich23, I present to you what will be the final chapter of The Deamon of Pein part 2: The Eclipse of Dawn. This one was really troublesome, so I'd appreciate some proper feedback, y'know? Also, on another note, there's been quite some demand for scenes of a... certain nature. So after some deliberation, I'm gonna go into some training on writing scenes of a... certain nature. So I expect The Daemon of Pein part 3 will appear around Monday/Tuesday. So if you put me on author alert, or remember to look at my page, you should be reading the final part of this "little" trilogy in a few day's time.
Disclaimer: So chapter 500 wasn't the double chapter I'm expecting, but I thought it was pretty great.
Leave me a lie at the season's end
For most wandering Shinobi, remembering things like dates can be quite troublesome. Putting in the effort to remember what day it was became a hindrance at best. The only thing they needed to be aware of, the only thing that really mattered, was which season would be coming and which one was going. Those times where nature changed, that mattered a whole lot more than recalling which dead Daimyo's birthday it was next week. After all, what Katon natured Shinobi thought about saying a prayer to the deceased during rainy season?
Though in this situation, it was something else altogether. Naruto wasn't even aware of that much, on the basis that he can "sort of tell when it's cold". Of course for someone of his style, seasons only made slight difference. But right now, at this moment in time, he couldn't help noticing the heat in the air. "Is this summer?" he wondered, as he looked up at the transparent sky. He was in the middle of a thin wood overlooking the island town down below, taking part in training that Takumi had advised him to do.
Apparently Eko would be a little heavier when the work was finished, so Naruto was practicing with some weights that were about equal to what Takumi expected the Ekokaeten to become. Though in actual fact all they were worth was for carrying. He couldn't swing them around or other things that he would do with a sword. By this point he had officially given up the useless training, and was now taking to watching the sky. "When's that old man gonna be done?" he thought, laying down on the grass with his hands behind his head. It had been at least four days since Naruto had last seen the Ekokaeten, making a grand total of two weeks he had spent on this island. The time for Takaito to return to pick him up was drawing near, and he was beginning to feel troubled by it. He could just barely sense Eko where he lay, in that gloomy mine that made him feel five times his own weight.
Something off to his left caught his notice, the sound of grass being stepped on. He got to his feet and looked through the trees, what were the odds of someone just wandering to this place? Or more to the point, how could anyone get to this place? The hill was much too steep for normal people to climb without gear, which judging by the weight of the steps this person was lacking. "Who's that?" he called out, tensing warily. His nerves had been playing on him recently, maybe as a result of not having the Ekokaeten by his side. Kisame had always warned him against parting with his blade, so naturally he felt uneasy in this situation.
The footsteps stopped at the sound of Naruto's voice, his call succeeding in alerting the unknown company. Naruto instinctively slipped a hand into his sleeve, reaching for the weapons holster hidden inside. Would he need such methods for a situation like this?
His hand suddenly tensed on a kunai as the steps came again. He could see movement up ahead, the bushes were stirring into consciousness. But then the leaves parted, and Naruto caught sight of the person causing the disturbance. "There you are." Takumi said, brushing tiny leaves from his vest. Naruto relaxed at the sight of a now familiar face, Takumi was probably the only non-Shinobi he could think of that could get up here. The red haired man stopped where he was and jerked his head back the way he came, causing the sun to glisten off the sweat on his brow. "It's time."
Thoughts silence by the blacksmith's blasé announcement, Naruto stared with a dumbstruck look at Takumi. Even though he had worried this would take longer, for it to be over so soon was a surprise. With just a moment to hesitate, Naruto nodded blankly before following after Takumi, even then he was still quiet. He picked up the weights in passing, catching up with the already departing man with a curious expression. "So wait, you mean he's finished?" he asked, looking up at Takumi in clear anticipation.
Takumi grunted in annoyance as the passing breeze struck him with some dust. What had previously been a rather plain look was now a scowl as he shook his head. There really was no limits to how temperamental this guy was. "No, it turns out there's one more thing that needs to be done before you can even take the Ekokaeten away from that place." he replied, as he absent mindedly snapped a branch that was in his way. "From what I understand, there's a special condition that needs to be met in order for the blade to stabilise outside the mine. All the swords met that condition before, but Eko's different now, so it'll need to be done again."
Naruto glanced at Takumi from the corner of his eye, sensing that there was something underlying from those words. He turned his eyes to the woods as the two of them stepped through some bushes, there were no paths in this almost untouched place, but kept his attentions on his relative. "Hey… Takumi-san." he said, as the two of them came to a steep, earthy ledge that descended to the hills below. It hadn't been an exaggeration, no normal person could scale this place single handed. And hear the two of them were, crouching to slide back down. "Who was that guy, the one who hired your master to make those swords?"
With the crumbling earth rolling out underneath them, the silence that followed that question was filled for several seconds. Takumi looked lost in thought, even though he was already well aware of what his answer was. "No idea, I never even knew he existed til he was gone." he explained, placing his hand out to balance himself as they came to the bottom of the drop. From there he took a pause, looking out to the direction of the forge he and his master had worked so many years ago. "All I know is what my master wrote down, and even that's fragmented. The guy wasn't much for detail when it came to words, he was more of an acting man than anything else. Hell, for all I can tell the employer wasn't even a guy. All the times that person came up they were just known as "that ninja"."
The forge was nowhere in sight, Naruto could confirm that much. For Takumi to look in such a fixed direction however, it was clear he was thinking hard about that place. This just added to the ominous mystery however, and made Naruto all the more intrigued. "Maybe if I play my cards right, I can get him to show me those letters." he told himself, as the two of them began walking once again. He resolved to appeal to Takumi as best as he could, to at least discover the location of those letters. But for the moment, it seemed he had much more important things to think about than simple mysteries. It was time to do what he had came here for; he was feeling more than a little bit excited.
Those feelings of enthusiasm were regrettably short lived, as once more Naruto felt that nauseating pressure that was the mine. All his drive gave him now was the will to move on, but his keenness was as dull as any of the rocks scattered around his feet. He and Takumi stepped into the key room of the mine, the place that contained the source of his current discomfort. That sensation of being heavier had magnified to a considerably greater strength; had Naruto been currently carrying the Ekokaeten, it was unlikely he could manage more than a walking pace.
These worries were neglected however, as he saw something equally invigorating. Down there, embedded in the gap between the two haves of the face, Eko stood prouder than ever. "Welcome back dear." the blade called up, his humorous tone lightening the darkness which the countless bulbs failed to shed away. Even from where he stood, Naruto could feel the aura emanating from the shining steel sword; it excited him. "I'm afraid there's no dinner, or even a bath. But maybe you'd prefer me instead?"
Creepy jokes aside, Naruto recognized that Eko was feeling something similar to him right now. They were both getting a little high from the look of the zweihaender, whose previous red sheen had changed to an unusual blue. As Naruto dropped from the ledge and stepped past the heaps of equipment to get to his sword, he noticed the slight changes to even greater detail. Whatever metal the blade was composed of, it was much more brilliant than before. Coupled with the way the light hit the blade, it seemed to be made almost of dense sapphires. Naruto was truly in awe of the sight before him, and Eko seemed to feel even more proud as a result. However, as Naruto approached the blade and reached out to take it, Takumi called out to him.
"Stop!" he exclaimed, his voice taking on a completely new level of serious. He dropped down much like Naruto had and quickly joined the boy, grabbing his outstretched arm and raising it in the air. Both the sword and the swordsman watched Takumi impatiently, wondering what on earth could be such a problem that their reunion was cut off like that. But judging by what they could see of Takumi's expression, that reason was a damn good one. "The Ekokaeten's been absorbing all the energy this place draws in. Right now he's a powerhouse of energy just waitin' for a chance to burst. You touch him, and boom, your both dead."
"Wait, what?" Naruto exclaimed, with Eko chiming in with the same. This was unreal, so the aura Naruto was sensing from the sword was that dangerous? More than that, how was he supposed to wield the blade if he couldn't even touch it? Was he supposed to spend the rest of his life with something between his hand and Eko's hilt? That was too much to ask, the chakra transference between them would be messed up by something like that. "Whaddaya mean? I can't touch him?"
He forcibly took a step back as Takumi pulled him away, wearing an unrelenting expression that showed he wasn't kidding. The shock Naruto felt left him with that look, but the crease in his brow was the same. This was in no way a laughing matter; it was deadly serious. "If you'll listen to what I have to say, instead of shooting your mouth off, I'll tell you what to do." Takumi replied, condescending but at least trying. He let go of Naruto's arm and stepped over to a nearby crate. There he picked up and old and dusty piece of paper, reading it over for what was probably the dozenth time. "The Ekokaeten is like a lightning rod, in that it has absorbed all the natural energy that has been gathered. And just like a lightning rod, you touch it and all that power will rush through your body. If you don't want to die, then there's one thing you absolutely have to do; throw into the blade as much energy as is given to you." he looked up as he finished his summary, knowing that Naruto would have at least understood this much. "Basically, you and the Ekokaeten will share that energy, and synchronization will commence."
There was that word again, synchronization. Even though he had heard it a few times in the past two weeks, Naruto was yet to learn just what it meant. He could guess of course, he had heard the term used before. But that wasn't what was troubling him. It was something else in fact. "So to sync with Eko, that's gotta be here right?" he asked, looking uncertainly between the blade and the blacksmith. When Takumi gave him a nod in reply, his worries only deepened. That meant Kisame had never done this. So that then meant that with this step, Naruto would attain a level his sensei had not. He didn't doubt his strength, Kisame was definitely stronger… but what after this?
"Hey, you realise what that means right? If we do this, we'll be one step closer to being the greatest!"
Naruto cast his eyes to the overly tangible sword behind him, surprised that Eko wasn't sharing in his worries. But then, the blade had a habit of being optimistic when it came to power. Whether that was a good thing or not well, Naruto was hardly one to debate that point. However, he did relax a little from his partner's confidence. "Yeah, I hear ya." he said, smirking as he turned to the zweihaender. He gave Takumi a nod of reassurance, before moving back towards his sword. "So I need to pump in as much chakra as Eko throws into me… man, that actually sounds painful!"
His chuckle served to make Takumi nervous. It was hardly the attitude he would take on in such a vital situation. But then again, this boy had a strange way of going about things. He had absolutely no worries about throwing himself into the unknown, yet could just as easily lie in the sun doing nothing at all. And above all that, there was a strange sense of peace coming from him, as if on top of all that he didn't have a care in the world. "Strangest goddamn Shinobi I've ever seen." he thought, scowling as he folded his burly arms. Even though the logical thing to do would be to take cover, he really didn't think it was necessary for some reason. "All right then, be careful."
Naruto nodded to acknowledge Takumi's words, glad the blacksmith had faith in him too. He fixed his eyes upon the glimmering blade, trying to ignore how low his arms were hanging from the pressure of the mine. Even though the other two seemed confident he could do this, a drop of sweat still slithered down his cheek. His tongue was tense in his mouth, sucking hard on the palate as if he could taste something bitter. He forced himself to blink as his hand tightened, reaching out to take the hilt. But all this tension was bad; he needed to relax.
He took in a deep, loud breath, inviting musky air to try and soothe his discomfort. Despite the fact he felt little refreshment from it, it seemed to do the job. His left hand rose into the air, taking place just a few inches in front of his mouth. He closed his pinkie and ring finger, but kept his middle and forefinger rigid. Though such a thing couldn't even be called second nature anymore, he slowly focused himself and gathered chakra throughout his entire body. It was always a strange sensation, that stamina was sacrificed but the result was something so energised that he barely noticed it. With this hand kept stiff before him, he finished with his hesitations and quickly reached out, grabbing the hilt of the Ekokaeten before he could consider changing his mind.
He almost cried out, it seemed there was more to Takumi's comparison than he had thought. Chakra burst out from the blade like someone had opened a window to give fire some air. The shock almost forced him to break his concentration, but what he couldn't break was his grip on the sword. Realising this he hastily began shifting his chakra from his body into Eko's body. Though with the incredible chakra output, this was easier said than done.
"GUAGH!" he cried, his eyes squeezing shut as he suddenly felt and immense pain. His free hand flew to his mouth, what the hell was this feeling? Were the rest of his body was ignited by fire, his mouth felt like it was being frozen from the inside! He didn't even notice himself falling to his knees, nor did he realise his and Eko's chakra were whirling in a tornado of chaos between the two of them. All he could feel was this searing migraine as his head was placed on the verge of splitting apart. "GAH… SHIT!"
He thought he heard Takumi calling out to him, but his hearing was messed up pretty bad. He looked through the cracks in his eyelids to the Ekokaeten, realising the sheen it had was moving like crazy. Whatever he was going through, he had no idea what Eko was experiencing. He listened out for the blade's voice, was he ok? "Eko!" he called, as the agony breaking his skull apart forced him to drop his attention to the ground. The stone beneath him was whirling insanely, and his eyes were really starting to sting. But he persisted, forcing his thoughts along with his chakra straight into the great sword. "You alright in there?"
"Yeah… I think so!" Eko called back, but his voice was strained. It seemed he was having a hard time too, Naruto wasn't the only one suffering here. "Hey… I don't know what's gonna happen after this, so let's make a pact ok?" he asked, before letting out a groan of pain. Naruto dragged his eyes back up to his companion, fixing his aching eyes upon the shining sword. He gave a weak nod as the only reply he was capable of, before sticking his thumb in his mouth and biting down to distract himself from the agony. "No matter what… we're not gonna let anyone look down on us! They try, and we'll show them what we can do!"
In spite of his shredded mind and grinding insides, Naruto's lips curled into a grin. Blood seeped down his wrist like a river of anguish, but that paled in comparison to everything else. Though he felt incredibly weak, he opened his eyes just enough so Eko could look into them, and see the resolve shining inside them. "That it?" he asked, as he took his hand from his mouth and with it grabbed the hilt in a tight grip. His life water ran down Eko's form, slipping over the guard and down the almost white metal. This was the blood vow he made; "I thought you were gonna ask for something hard! Alright, let's do it!"
Together, the blade and the boy threw their chakra around, both yelling at the top of their capacity. The lights of the mine flickered and dust fell from the sealing as massive amounts of chakra disrupted the very workings of the place. Behind them, Takumi was forced to take a wary step back as to his great shock, cracks began to appear in the stone face where the Ekokaeten was placed. Those cracks grew as Naruto and Eko's calls rose in intensity, until with a sudden crescendo, everything exploded. The generator, the lights, the gate and even those two in the middle of it all. The blacksmith dove under a table to shield himself from the falling glass, but even then didn't take his eyes of Naruto or Eko. For the first time in a long time, he felt worried for another person. And personally, he hated that.
The two disappeared in a cloud of dust, their voices fading along with the light. The mine had finally stopped its violent reaction, and though it was pitch black, Takumi could sense the cold calmness that had gathered. He stepped out from under the table, personally ashamed of hiding like that, and cautiously made his way further into the darkness. He stopped when he stepped upon a cracked piece of the gate, looking down at his feet. He thought long and hard about something which was unlikely to be casual. Reaching behind him, he pulled out a tattered journal that had belonged to his master. Though he couldn't see it, he could picture it in his mind. Soon after he took that book, a snapping sound broke out from close by. A small flickering flame on the tip of a match revealed the book and Takumi's hands. He didn't hesitate.
Following the light of the blazing book, Takumi managed to find the mound that was Naruto. The boy had lost all signs of consciousness, but even like that his breathing was as if he had been drowning. He clutched the Ekokaeten in his clammy hands, the blade too had gone quiet. Takumi looked at them both, wondering just how far they would go to achieve their goals. But in the end he decided it was best not to think about. He let out a sigh; it looked like he was going to have to do more heavy lifting.
The light was painful on his eyes, burning through the lids to spite him from finally leaving the darkness. It felt like the sun itself was punishing him for what he had just done, though his memories of what that was were fleeting. All he could feel was the grass beneath him, sound, sight and smell were still beyond him. But there was one other sense that pushed itself forward into his consciousness, a raw feeling that nauseated him from inside. He could taste blood, and a lot of it.
"Grrn…" he groaned, lifting his hand to shield himself from the violent sun. He was in no mood for being treated like this, after all that had just happened back there. His eyes opened just a slither, trying to comprehend his hand alone. It was fortunate that he could at least do that much. His body felt strangely numb; with the now cold sweat covering his body he almost felt like he had taken a foolish dip into the ocean. "…Shit."
Peering over his arm, Naruto squinted at the person talking to him. Takumi was sitting on the hill beside him, a cigarette between his teeth and his eyes to the distance. The sunlight made the blacksmith look uncharacteristically tranquil, but to Naruto it still hurt to watch. "Damn it, I think I managed to get a hangover!" he muttered, as he sat up weakly. He noticed to his surprise that he was still holding the Ekokaeten, which was resting by his side. He regretted looking, as the light reflected off the sword's brilliant new blade. "I feel like I've been hit by a landslide!"
He heard a dry chuckle escape from Takumi's gritted teeth, and with strain glanced over to him. He would have called the blacksmith something foul if it weren't for the pain in his mouth, did he chew on some glass or something? "You may want to take a closer look at the Ekokaeten." Takumi slyly suggested, watching Naruto from the corner of his eye. The young Shinobi frowned for a moment, but his curiosity was impossible to ignore. He lifted the blade up and planted it between his legs, looking at the still spotless sword with the same impressed feeling he had had earl-
His jaw dropped, revealing what was the cause of his current discomfort. He could see his own reflection in the blade of the Ekokaeten in such detail it was the same as a mirror. And what he saw was a mouth full of bloodstained teeth sharpened to a point. "What the hell?" he breathed, noticing how perfectly the teeth meshed together. It felt really unusual, instead of one set of teeth overlapping the other, the two sets met each other. And that wasn't all. Black markings had appeared on his chin, two curved spikes reaching up to the crease in the skin. They weren't cuts or bruises, but actual darkened skin, just like the lines on his cheeks. "How did this happen?"
"The Ekokaeten was incomplete, so you could never fully align with it." Takumi explained, taking a draw on his cigarette and leaning back. Naruto listened, but his attention was fixed on what had happened to his teeth. As only someone like him would, he tested them out with the tip of his finger. They weren't that sharp, so at least he wouldn't have to worry about the next time he bit his tongue being the last time that would happen. "Now you and the blade are on in the same, your consciousnesses have combined."
"Naturally you don't get without giving, so there is a price to all this."
"You and the Ekokaeten now share the same mind. So as a result, there's no individuality between you two."
"What's up with you?"
"You and the blade, won't be communicating any more."
Naruto froze, his blood running a little slower through his veins. His wide eyes were fixed on the blade of the Ekokaeten, which had refused to respond to any of Naruto's calls. He replayed everything Takumi had just said in his mind, and this time he listened closely to what he heard. "Me and Eko… one in the same?" he thought, looking the sword up and down. What struck him as most surprising was not that fact, but the fact that he wasn't surprised. For some reason he could understand that, he could feel it. Not only had the sword changed, but so had he. The line between Eko and Naruto had been erased, and he actually felt good about it. "More like… it feels better this way…"
He sat there silently, caught up in his own thoughts while Takumi continued to smoke. But eventually the old blacksmith finished his cigarette, and tosses the but away with a flick of his wrist. "Well come on, we got some little details to take care of." he said, as with a rocking motion he rose to his feet. As Naruto did the same, he glanced back with a smirk and narrow eyes, wanting to see the boy's reaction to his next words. "We got a big bill to settle before you leave."
Unlike his expectations however, Naruto gave him a look of surprise that seemed more taken aback than shocked. Still, it was enough to satisfy that little sadistic urge of his, so he turned and began making his way to the forge. Naruto however stayed where he stood, staring at the back of Takumi's head with a look of loss. His grip tightened on the Ekokaeten, he could feel courage building from somewhere that had once never existed in him. Eko was telling him to do it. "Wait a minute!" he called out, taking a step forward with a look of hesitant determination. "Do… do you know about any Uzumaki that lived in Konohagakure?"
Takumi stopped, a suddenly aghast look appearing on his face. His shoulders tensed and his hands balled into fists, all done without the slightest bit of notice from him. Several long, painful seconds passed as he gritted his teeth, an angry glare sneaking onto his complexion. "Forget the bill." he snarled. Naruto blinked in astonishment, Takumi's sudden change in mood was unexpected. But he hadn't come all this way to leave without answers. He took another step forward and opened his mouth to speak, but Takumi interrupted him before he could start. "Now I know who you remind me of. You're Ku-cha- Kushina's kid, aren't you? That makes you that damned Yondaime's too…"
His mouth opened and closed, trying to say more than his mind could gather. After several failed attempts, he gave up with a click of his tongue. He didn't even look back as he began to descend the hill, his posture ordering Naruto not to follow. But considering what he had just said, that was absolutely fine. Even if he wanted to, even if Takumi could answer every one of his questions, Naruto simply couldn't move. "The Yondaime… Hokage?"
Naruto sat on a wooden post down by the harbour of the island which had suddenly become a dark, foreboding place in the presence of dusk. Even as he waited there, for the slowly approaching Takaito, he could almost feel Takumi's eyes off to the distance, watching to make sure he left. It was a pressure unlike anything that mine could have put on him, but it was one that Naruto could at least handle. Now wasn't the time to be asking questions. He doubted he could take much more information anyway.
The Yondaime Hokage… Namikaze Minato had been his name. Disbelief filled Naruto's very thoughts, his senses telling him there must be a mistake, while his mind told him there was none. And that other name… Uzumaki Kushina? Was that his mother? Then… they were dead then? "I already know why he's dead." he thought bitterly, his jaw tightening just like his grip on his knees. The Yondaime Hokage was the person who defeated the Kyuubi no Yoko, that was his legacy. But the Kyuubi was sealed inside him, inside Naruto. He didn't doubt it, his own father had put that monster in him, and placed that burden he had endured for twelve painful years. "Bastard!"
He could feel the spiteful anger inside of him, and wanted it to grow. But however he looked at it, the rage was blocked by another feeling, one Naruto swiftly wanted to get rid of. Confusion. He knew he was missing something, something important. Something he couldn't realise here. He had to, needed to find out the truth. He realised enough from Takumi's reaction that if he wanted those answers, here was far from the right place to look. He knew exactly where those answers lay. And that was in the one place he had sworn to never return to if he could ever help it.
His thoughts were disturbed by a low thudding sound, heavy footsteps one the wooden pier. He tried to ignore them, but when they came to a stop he was hit with this feeling that he was being watched. He looked behind him to the place that noise had come from, the shadows between a pair of shacks. There in the darkness, against all expectations, Takumi's face disappeared. In a second Naruto was on his feet, but there he hesitated. Why was he here? He hadn't given Naruto even a fleeting glance as he left back there, did he have more he wanted to say? Maybe he could help Naruto after all.
That glimmer of hope was enough to push him towards that gap, enough to send him into the shadows where his relative was waiting. But as he reached that place, he realised he couldn't see Takumi anywhere. Had he just been checking to see if Naruto was still here then? Uncertainty clouded his mind, and he was caught looking between the island and the sea. As his eyes turned over to the wall opposite however, he noticed a shift of colour that suddenly stabbed adrenaline into his system. Though he raised his hand, he hadn't even touched the Ekokaeten before he was slammed against the wall behind, an immensely strong hand gripping on his throat. From behind an illusion of invisibility, an old man appeared. Naruto's eyes flitted over his assailant, the long and spiky white hair, the red lines running down from his narrow eyes, the-
He got no further than that. Without even the most slight piece of effort, his attacker flicked his wrist to the right. The last thing Naruto heard was a loud, cracking sound, before all of a sudden his senses failed him. In an instant his consciousness had been taken from him, not dead, but just an inch away from it. All the while, the Ekokaeten vibrated in an overwrought frenzy, desperately trying to regain the situation. But the old man seemed prepared for this two. With his other hand he wrapped an old paper seal around the blade's hilt, and with that the Ekokaeten too was silenced. In three seconds flat, both Naruto and the Ekokaeten had been taken down. The old man stared at the boy's face, a look of both sternness and pity appearing in his otherwise unreadable eyes. "Looks like I finally caught up with you."