The first chapter of The Daemon of Pein part 3: The Gate's Release is now here. This one just barely fits my minimum word count, but that's fine since it's an introductory chapter. Nonetheless, I get the feeling you'll enjoy this at least a little, but let me know what you think ok? I know I ask that a lot, but this part has very little to go on, so every twist I make is half formed with thoughts still going to the result. So, with no further stalling for unnecessary time, here we go!
Disclaimer: My Dad just got a puppy. I never understood why people would be cruel to animals. Until now.
As reason falls like the whisper of dusk
A chill wind cut through the crowded streets of a grand and flourishing village obscured by countless trees withering in every direction. The sigh of fall passed through the infinite branches, lulling the leaves down towards the ground. It was not just outside the village that was faced with this however, many branches and boughs crawled out from the curious buildings that coloured the ground with warm looking foliage. The sun shone not quite as bright as it had last month, but the warmth it delivered was still felt by all those graced by its presence. And at a time like this, those numbers were many.
In an everyday situation, this village was never wanton for commerce and trade. The people of this place were always keen and ready to purchase, creating a strong relationship with the merchants eager to sell. But on these days however, it was not merchants who dawned on the village's doorstep. At this time of year, there was a rather renowned event coming around. It was for that reason that so many unfamiliar faces were appearing.
This event was known as the "Chunin exams". It was an event that came twice a year, and served as a means of testing the lowest level of Shinobi, the Genin. These exams were held across several countries that shared a good relationship with each other, to an extent where the exams would be held in a single village. Genin teams with their Jounin, high ninja, senseis had come from many the places, Sunagakure, Kusagakure, Amegakure and Takigakure came from the west, with faraway villages like Getsugakure even coming to take part. After three years and six exams, it was finally this village, Konohagakure's, turn to hold these exams. And so it was for that reason, that the Shinobi of Konoha were busier than ever.
"Can I see your papers please?" asked Kamizuki Izumo, for what was perhaps the two dozenth time today. If not for the fact that it was foreign ninja approaching the village, it was unlikely he would be so alert. As it was he had even brushed aside the dark hair that usually covered his right eye, giving his full attention to the team before him. The metal plate bearing an engraved leaf that rested on his bandana had been polished just this morning, displaying his pride in himself and his village. He had also had his green flak jacket and navy underclothes taken special care of so not to give the wrong impression.
He quickly set to work on the four small books set before him, his free hand gripping the material from his fleece that reached all the way to his chin. The studious look in his eyes was well practiced indeed. "Shimada Kanbei, Jounin of Suna." he read, aloud as previously instructed. He looked at the eldest of the four nin before him; this person was certainly unusual for a Suna nin. Though her wore the uniform, which held only shoulder guards as different from Konoha, and had the Suna plate born on the right side of his jacket. But his smooth face, wavy blond hair and soft eyes weren't exactly well associated with the burly men of the sand. Still, he had seen more feminine looking men do some pretty scary things, so he was willing to believe it. "Welcome to Konoha."
He extended that same welcome to each of Shimada Kanbei's students, studying each of them in depth at the same time. The plump boy on the left wearing the baggy beige hooded jacket and grumpy expression had no clan name, only his forename "Kyuuzo". Beside him was a more relaxed looking guy in an open white shirt and wearing a sahara style headband on his scruffy greyish blue hair. This one was called Miyaguchi Seiji, and gave a nod of thanks when Izumo welcomed him. The third was a rather overexcited girl, dressed in a lilac sleeveless shirt with a leather belt hanging across her shoulder and waist, and matching shorts with her village's plate acting as a belt buckle. Her dark hair brushed across her shoulders as she rocked on her feet, this "Heihachi Kaori" looked far too energetic to be taken seriously. All the same their papers qualified, so Izumo let them be on their way.
As soon as they were given the ok, Kaori wasted no time in releasing her pent up feelings. While her team mates and sensei walked, she ran on ahead, stopping to look at the village ahead of her with an expression of utter amazement. "Wow!" she exclaimed, her hair swinging as she tried to take in every possible thing to see. Her green eyes were luminescent in the light of wonder; she had never seen a village quite like this one before. "So this is Konoha! So cool!"
Her excitement however was not shared by her team mates, though her sensei did smile at her enthusiasm. While he and Kyuuzo stopped behind to look the village over, Seiji continued on walking, looking his hand over lazily as he neared Kaori. Apparently satisfied with whatever he was looking for, his fingers tightened into a fist that soon collided with the back of Kaori's head, causing the loud girl to cry out in shock and pain. "Be cooler, you look like a tourist." he said, his mood not at all affected by his action or his team mate's reaction.
"Now now, there's no need for violence!" Kanbei said, smiling weakly and raising his hands in an attempt to maintain peace. For someone who had attained the rank of Jounin, he was certainly quick to take the painless route whenever available. Fortunately his students complied, looking at him expectantly while Kaori nursed her aching head. "Now the exams don't start for a couple of days, so we need to get these registration forms in and find a place to stay. Why don't you three take a look around while I get these things taken care of?"
Together the three young Genin looked at each other, Kyuuzo unfolding his arms, Seiji shrugging and Kaori giving Seiji a light thump on the arm in half hearted revenge. "All right." they said, before turning around. They each saw three main junctions, and without speaking a word to each other they split up down each route, Kyuuzo to the left, Seiji in the middle and Kaori to the right. Kanbei watched them as they made their way away, still wearing a smile that seemed to almost regret his own position. But then he departed to his right, heading to where other Jounin from foreign villages seemed to be heading.
As the group departed, the thing Seiji seemed worried about came true. On a small patch of grass between the routes Seiji and Kyuuzo took, there was a small bench where six young Konoha Shinobi had gathered on or around. The four boys and two girls wore smirks as they watched the new arrivals, before glancing at each other. It seemed that it wasn't just their imagination; it looked like there was some lucky play about to go on.
The hallway was dimly lit, for quite a few reasons. The inmates weren't allowed a perception of time, there were no windows and the guards were never on a constant schedule. To the people locked up in the rooms to either side, it was an eternal night. This wasn't cruelty however; it was necessity. The capabilities of the prisoners were either grand or unknown. That was why only two people were allowed to get close to them, two people who could restrain these convicts should the need arise. It was one of these two who was paying this place a schedule visit.
One of the many doors to one of the many chambers was opened by this person, revealing what seemed almost like a hospital room. Monitors were laid around the single bed, beeping and flashing as they received signals from the wires connected to the room's resident. Aside from these lights, almost everything else was either grey or white. The sole exception to this was the person laying in the bed, a person the visitor greatly disliked seeing.
The boy with the messy blond hair, that was the name the guards had given him. Though his hair had once been spiky, time had caused it to grow out until it sat around his shoulders, the spikes becoming rather matted. This name wasn't the first he had been given, but "tiger-boy" had been disallowed by the superiors. That more derogatory name was given due to the six thin lines that marked this teenager's cheeks. Of course, these features could be relative to any cat, but the tiger was more noted because of the two curved black spike markings on either side of his chin. Then there was his teeth, sharpened to a point that gave a very alluding grin. It was that grin this guy was wearing right now, staring at his visitor with wide, azure eyes. "Hey Sakura-chan!" the boy called, displaying the ever present excitement that came upon this person's arrival. "There's my favourite nurse!"
Haruno Sakura gave Uzumaki Naruto a scornful look, her celadon eyes making no effort to hide her feelings of disdain. It was bad enough she had to wear this all too short uniform when she came here, without this guy taking advantage of it. She tried her best to ignore him however, reaching up to tie back the pink hair settling on her shoulders. She wore a red Konoha forehead protector that kept most of her hair back, something Naruto often asked her to take off when they were alone. Of course, Sakura never once indulged him.
Once her hair was out of the way, she stepped around the bed to check on the monitors next to her "patient". All the while as she moved, Naruto hummed his own rendition of the wedding march. As was customary with each of her visits, the boy gifted her with the desire to sedate him in a violent manner. But she restrained herself as best she could; she had a role to live up to. She remained silent as she took note of the readings, before picking up the clipboard lying on the bedside cabinet. Naruto had been restrained in a multitude of ways, some of which were classified even to Sakura, so there were no worries about her moving close to him. Not that she wanted to.
Her eyes looked over the chart with the same frown she had worn for her past few inspections. Despite the fact that Naruto had been bound in this room with no means of escape, his body wasn't suffering in the least. By now most of the inmates required powerful vitamins and other such things to keep their system's going. Naruto on the other hand was showing none of the expected symptoms. In fact, as she looked over the boy who flashed her a wink, she noticed that his muscles seemed unusually tight for someone lacking the freedom of movement. According to surveillance, he hadn't left his bed, so why was he still so physically fit? "Is this to do with why someone with no crimes against Konoha is being kept here?" she thought, as she placed the chart back down on the table.
It seemed everything was fine; Naruto wasn't attempting to tear the place apart as he had when he'd first arrived here. And so with that, Sakura had no more reason to stay. Her shift was over as soon as she reported what she found, and she could at long last sleep in her own bed again. "Aw come on Sakura-chan, you're not leaving already?" Naruto called, as Sakura's hand reached out for the door. The pink haired girl stopped at this sudden question, though he made a lot of lewd comments Naruto had never asked her to stay before. To her it had seemed as if he was merely lashing out in the only way he could. But if he was genuinely lonely, then that was different. If that was the case, she could learn a thing or two.
"Why would I stay?" Sakura asked, turning around and leaning on the wall by the door. Even though Naruto's reasons for being here were top secret, if he told her himself then it was ok right? Working to that end, she decided to try and get him to talk, but hopefully not too much. Reaching that her eyes narrowed warningly, her voice taking on a mirthless tone as she spoke. "Keep it clean, or you'll be eating out of a tube."
"That how you speak to an old classmate?" Naruto asked, his voice mimicking Sakura's unintentionally. He already knew Sakura was reluctant to admit they knew each other; he had gotten over that "heartache" rather quickly. But all the same he let out a sigh, settling into his old and moth bitten pillow as he looked up at the single hanging light on the ceiling. "I just wanted to know how everybody was doing is all. We kinda got separated back then."
Sakura was tempted to remind Naruto of the reason he hadn't been able to move on with everyone else, that he was unable to perform the Bunshin no Jutsu. But now that he was taking on this nostalgic tone, she didn't have it in her to be so mean. she let out her own, more reluctant sigh, folding her arms and bowing her head irritably. "All right, I guess I can talk for a while." she said, closing her eyes to reminisce. Even though she said that, she didn't really mind talking about the past. And the funny thing was, Naruto knew that very well.
From the looks of things, the foreigners arriving in this village weren't the only ones walking around with curious expressions. The villagers too were interested in seeing the new people that were gathering in their home, even if they were a little anxious that these people were all Shinobi from other countries. They all looked in the same direction towards the newcomers, their faces neither friendly nor hostile. But it was that divide between those two that was most unsettling.
It was for that reason that Kyuuzo had left the busy streets in favour of the less ventured routes. He didn't really feel like being gawked at like an animal on display, and so sought more secluded places as he wandered almost aimlessly. But like this, he was constantly at the mercy of the sun and the shadows, conflicting temperatures making it impossible to feel comfortable. The only thing he couldn't escape in this labyrinth of buildings was the crunch of the fallen leaves that came with every step. And unfortunately for him, that was only a half truth.
The alley he walked through was somewhere in the restaurant district by the looks of things. Dumpsters and silver trash cans lined the walls messily, the smell of discarded food making his already put out expression to grow with distaste. But as unpleasant as this place was, it was here he came to a stop. At the end of the alley behind him, and the junction before him, two figures had stepped out, looking too relaxed in this place to belong anywhere nicer.
"Hey look, it's a Suna boy!" called out the person ahead of Kyuuzo. A skinny guy was walking towards him, his grin shining almost as brightly as his completely bald head. This person wore his forehead protector in a loose manner, the engraved leaf resting at the place his right eye should have been. As for his dress, a tight black jacket and grey pants marked with the weapons holster and pouch that told Kyuuzo he wasn't just displaying his pride. "And he's all on his own too!"
"Didn't think they'd be let of the leash this easy!" chimed in the boy behind Kyuuzo, who was dressed in the same way as his friend. The difference being that this guy had a slight tan to him, and his headband tied around short, scruffy brown hair. A pair of scars at his jaw told that this boy had been in at least one fight, but neither of these boys looked much older than Kyuuzo. "Well that's fine right? Let's us pick them off nice and early!"
Kyuuzo glanced between the two punks without moving his head, his arms and shoulders tensing up at their arrival. Fortunately his clothes were too baggy for them to notice, but it seemed he wasn't as intimidating as he'd like to think. The two of them stepped towards him bearing grins with ill intentions. The bald one kicked a stone, and it hit Kyuuzo's sandal. "Look at this condescending piece of shit, he should be on his knees by now!" that one said, as he stopped right in front of the Suna boy. Behind him his friend had also gotten near enough, both looking down on the relatively short foreigner with discriminating distaste. "After all the trouble your village put us through, don't ya think you should be askin' for forgiveness?"
They both awaited a reply, their grins slowly slipping as they were met with silence. Kyuuzo was giving them a look as if they were an annoyance, which pissed them off to no end. "Little bastard thinks he's better than us?" the one with hair demanded, jumping back and pulling out a weapon, a kunai. His friend did the same, and soon Kyuuzo was being threatened on both sides. "So we ain't gonna be getting' any fun outta ya huh? Well I guess we'll just get this over with then!"
With a grunt and a throw that they put much too much effort in, the two boys hurled their kunai to strike Kyuuzo down. The Suna boy didn't flinch as the two dark darts flew at him, when they were almost upon him, he disappeared from sight. This stunned the two boys, who barely had time to jump into the air as their friend's kunai flew straight at them. In doing so however, they spotted Kyuuzo reappear in exactly the same spot he had been standing. But right away he vanished again, this time in a puff of smoke. The two boys stared in shock, their mouths widening to yell as from the cloud, dark tendrils burst forth. They were ensnared before they could resist, these dry, hard extremities wrapping around their bodies. With their arms bound to their sides, all they could do was watch as the cloud dissipated, revealing the person within.
Black sandals were the first to be free of the smoke, showing a pair of pale feet to be housed inside. These lay beneath a pair of denim trousers of a dark red colour, the hem marked with dirt and mud from a long journey. Not much higher, the shins too were obscured by an equally marked piece of clothing. It was a long, rust shaded duster, like something out of the far west. The loose jacket was left open, revealing a black shirt tucked into the denim trousers. Across the chest of this duster was an old leather belt, keeping the object behind firmly in place. That object was a giant, cracked gourd, marked with strange lettering. Up above the broad collar of the duster was the pallid face of a young man. This person was missing eyebrows, but his sea foam green eyes were surrounded by thick dark circles that could only be a result of sleep deficiency. And on the left side of his forehead, made visible by the parting of his carmine hair, was a red symbol, the kanji for "love".
"Whatever quarrel you have with Suna is of no concern of mine." spoke Sabaku no Gaara, his hoarse, rasping voice mixing with his indifferent expression. The tendrils of sand that had grown from out of his gourd lifted into the air, raising his attackers with them. In time to these movements, so did Gaara's hands rise into the air. "But whatever your reasons, all who attack me will die." he finished, before slamming the two screaming Genin hard into the ground with a wave of his hands. There their consciousness was stolen from them, but for now they still had their lives.
One kunai struck the wall of the alley, while the other embedded itself in the white wooden fence out in the street behind. By this point the two Genin were already taken down, and soon to be taken out. The tendrils that had grabbed them, made of what appeared to be sand, lifted into the air without their captives. Several metres above the two, the sand changed shape, shifting into two long pyramid like spikes, the points aiming straight at the Genin below. Gaara's hand tightened, ready to deal the final blow.
"Don't ya think that's enough?"
Gaara froze, his hands literally on the verge of coming down and crushing the two rookies lying by him. His body tensed and his eyes widened, just barely able to look at the figure who had spoken to him. There was another Shinobi, whose form was masked by the sun behind him. He was crouched down on the low roof of the building at the end of the alley, looking down at Gaara with tired eyes. Gaara returned the gaze as stoically as he could, but there was one fact he couldn't escape; his body had stopped not of his own accord.
From his feet, like a rope binding a prisoner and his watcher, a long black line crawled across the ground, rose up the wall and headed towards the stranger above. Gaara fixed his eyes on this person, his lips moving as he made the slightest whisper. "Nara." he said, recognising the Jutsu style being used on him. While the person up there then read his lips, he twitched his fingers ever so slightly, finding that on its own to be a tough job.
"I can let you off the hook, since these two were attacking you." the Nara Shinobi said. However his hands were gripped tightly together in the seal of the rat, showing he was putting effort into restricting Gaara's movement as a precaution. It was a good choice; like this Gaara couldn't counterattack. "I wish it was that easy, but from the look of you I can't help getting the feeling you're here for more than the Chunin exam. Sorry, but I'm gonna have to ask you some questions."
It seemed then that this person's definition of easy didn't quite match with Gaara's. The red haired Shinobi from no village repeated his earlier movement, twitching his finger with much more vigour this time. The effect was near instantaneous; the sand spike he had made to kill the Genin lost its consistency and fell to the ground. Though the Nara initially thought of this as surrender, he realised too late just where the sand had landed. In that moment a whirl of the desert dust threw itself around Gaara, who used the distraction to Shunshin away. In the three seconds he had managed to move, he had easily managed to leave the scene.
"Should we go after him?"
The Nara listened to the feminine voice that had called out to him, considering that option for a second. But when that second past, he shook his head and straightened up. "Nah." he replied, separating his hands and slipping them inside his pockets. He looked over the alley below, scanning the faces of the poor excuses of Konoha Shinobi and memorising them. "All he did was defend himself; we got no reason to bring him in. But report it in, just in case, will ya?" he asked, glancing to his left.
"Sure thing Shikamaru." came the voice of another boy, who was also hidden in the shadows.