You know, he was many things. He was a prankster, that's for sure. He was the unknowing and unpraised protector of millions of people…and that was just in Konoha. He was a jailor, a landlord, not that he knew. He was also a scapegoat, a punching bag, a stress relief – no stranger to pain. At times, he was a beacon of shining joy.
However, at this particular moment, Naruto felt like one big bruise.
His clothes were ripped into mere shreds of what they had been a few hours ago, his hair wet with dirty water, clogged with mud. He knew he should get up – he really should. Even with his unnatural, otherworldy healing, a hot shower always helped once the mobs attacked. However, since it was the annual 'beat on Naruto' festival, he couldn't help but wonder if he would even find an apartment.
Deciding to find out, he stood up, wincing as he pulled a 6 inch glass shard out of his left hip. He barely took notice as the deep, jagged cut sealed with a nigh unnoticeable squelch, standing there for a moment as he tried to build the resolve to move.
As he looked into the glass shard, he could see his reflection, and that horror was enough motivation to get him up and yearning for a shower. He dragged himself out of the dark alley, darting into another and ignoring the pain it caused. It would be rather oxymoronic to go out in the open when countless villagers & ninjas were out for his blood, after all.
Sp he twisted through back alleys, rarely used roads & abandoned werehouses, knowing the quickest & safest way home like the back of his hand. He was about 3 blocks away from his apartment, or what little was probably remaining from it, when , with a loud resounding *THWACK* ,something slammed into his forehead, knocking him into a trash can.
Naruto had always firmly believed in the great benefits of doing nothing for the sake of nothing, procrastination with perhaps a little bit of picking yourself up inbetween. So , with that in mind, he lay on the rigid metal of the trash can, barely smelling the decaying waste due to his blood covered skin.
However, you couldn't spell Naruto without Curiosity (Please keep in mind that spelling is not his forte – not even in the top 20 strongest points), and thus, Naruto got up, stretched his back and picked up the object which had assaulted him.
It turned out to be a black, leather bound book , simply titled "The Holy Book of Log." Naruto almost laughed at the odd name – so inconspicuous, yet it changed Naruto's life.
He opened the first page, noticing that it was not made of paper (in fact, it smelled rather oddly like rice). Using what little knowledge he had of reading, he read:
"And thus I came unto thee, in a fit of blinding pain," the irony of which Naruto couldn't help just snort at, "I bring enlightenment, justice, safety and protection for thee, as I am – the Log."
Naruto sat enraptured, turning the next page, and the next, and the next, devouring the tiny black text.
Night fell, and the old man began to worry for Naruto. He had not heard from the young one all day, and while that was not an unusual occurrence, it was the 10th of October – each year, the Sandaime seemed to age 5 years on this date as he saw what horrors the villagers unleashed on the young blond boy.
Hiruzen placed his pipe back in a draw, stamping the last of his paperwork and getting up, his back creaking in protest. Deciding to call it a day, he began to search for the young blonde. He could have, perhaps, let one of his subordinates handle this, but as usual it would end in disaster. He had learnt his lesson the last times…
…The nurse replaced his blood supply with highly toxic poison. Accidental, he was assured…
…The ANBU just arrived in time when they started attacking, but unfortunately had to return to the other side of the village as he had 'forgotten' his kunai (Most likely his camera)…
…The man could not get a good hold on the bloody and beaten Naruto, so he couldn't refrain from dragging the boy across the ground, hitting a couple of metal signs and trash cans, not to mention rocks & trees on the way to the hospital…
…The med-nin had MEANT to use the Mystical Palm Jutsu, but botched up a seal, thus accidently activating a retching jutsu. Of course, no one bothered to deactivate it till poor Naruto was vomiting blood and air…
You get the point.
It took just under a minute for the wizened old man to find the blonde, the stench of blood strong in his nose. He came across Naruto sitting cross-legged, chanting a mantra.
"Praaaaaise beee to the log…savior of ninja…" The blonde intoned monotonously.
"What in the name of Kami's beard are you DOING?" The old man asked incredulously. In his surprise, he totally ignored the blood covered , filthy look.
Naruto's eyes flew open, flinching as if slapped, immediately coming to attention. "Sarutobi-jiji! I have been blessed with enlightenment!"
"I have a new object of worship!" Naruto said, before gasping. "No! Not object! Living, filled with holy life-sap."
"Praise be to the log! For with the log i may find peace, a never breaking bond which i will honour with my life! Kawarimi!"
And with that simple hand seal, Naruto was replaced with a log, approximately the size of a toddler. Naruto, now behind Sarutobi, ran back to his original place, taking the log and hugging it reverently. "Bless thee , for I shall always be with you, and you I!" Naruto chanted, rubbing the log affectionately. By now Hiruzen was a bit scared...this was weird, even for Naruto.
"Naruto, how did you learn Kawarimi? In fact, who taught you to even USE chakra?" Sandaime asked, still confused. Naruto merely picked up the black book which had been in his lap the whole time.
"This book is my savior, Jiji!" Naruto exclaimed. "It is teaching me the ways of the logs, veering me from the path of darkness and into the path of bountiful goodness! I have just learned the most basic of jutsus!"
"So it's a jutsu book?" Hiruzen asked, unable to make heads or tails from the situation.
"NO! It's a holy book!"
"Holy book? Naruto are you okay? Did you take any pills – I TOLD you not to smell the orphanage carer's 'sugar'!"
Naruto calmed down a bit, staring at his worried leader.
"I have never been better, for now I have the log."
"What are you going on about? WHAT IS THIS LOG?" Sandaime asked, the subject beginning to grate on his nerves.
"The log has always been with us Jiji, from the very beginning of ninja. We have a bond, forgotten and spat upon by modern ninja, yet despite this neglect the log always saves us!"
"Naruto are you talking about the Kawarimi-no-jutsu?" The aged hokage asked.
"'As the log takes your place, you become the log. the log becomes you. For a moment, you are an extension of the logs blessing unto ninja.'" Naruto quoted reverently,"Book of The Log, Chronicle of the replacement, verse 3."
"Can I see that book, Naruto?" The Hokage asked kindly. The youth gladly supplied the book, watching as the Hokage scanned through the pages.
"Be careful Jiji- it's made of rice paper, a prime example of log preserving.
The book seemed to revolve around the role of the log in the Kawarimi no Jutsu, taking the hits for ninjas, etc. There was also several jutsu, mostly water, earth and for some reason, some mokuton. "Naruto, you can't read this book!"
"DISBELIEVER!" Naruto shrieked. "PERISH THEE! PERISH THEE AT THE HANDS OF THE LOG!"
"Naruto! Calm! This book contains several high level jutsus – you could die if you try some of these!"
"But…jiji…I must honour the bond between the Log and I! How will I do this without the Holy Instructions?"
The Sandaime pondered on the situation for a few seconds, before asking, "Naruto, you'll be entering the Academy in 2 years for the 1 year long course right?"
"If the log wills so."
"It does. Anywho, how would you like to learn how to be a ninja from now?" The Sandaime asked. He expected an explosion, back breaking hugs and happiness from the seven year old boy, however the kid just stroked the log he was holding.
Naruto was torn – excitement warred with confusion and worry – he had always wanted to become a ninja, but now he discovered, ninjas were bad! They killed, hurt and mutilated logs every day…
"But Jiji! Ninja's HURT logs, taking it for granted that tree's will just…'grow'! How would you like it if I threw someone's child in the way of a fireball to save myself, and told you another kid would just grow?" Then Naruto remembered who he was talking to. "Wait , YOU'RE A NINJA! In fact, one of the strongest! You…you hurt logs!"
"Naruto, please, think of it this way!" The Sandaime began, attempting to placate the child. "If you become ninja, you can better protect the logs, as they protect us," he said, fighting the urge to snicker. "If you don't become a ninja, how will you harness the powers of the log – in this book, there are jutsus to plant seeds, feed seeds nutritious materials, nurture seeds, heal trees and even make trees."
"MAKE TREES?" Naruto gasped.
"Yes, make trees. However that's a bloodline limit and you most likely do not possess the ability to harness it. The point is, you won't be able to help the log in any way if you don't become a ninja!"
"Deal! But…everyone hates me!" Naruto said dejectedly, losing his upbeat attitude. "Except you of course!"
The old man began to feel happy that Naruto loved him so much, however the image was shattered as he noticed the boy looking reverently at the log in his arms. He let out a small squeak of protest.
"Oh, yeah, you too jiji."
"Anyhow, I think if i can, I'll oversee your training personally..." The Sandaime thought, thinking of what would happen if he entrusted the task with anyone else.
...I TRIED to teach him a katon jutsu but he botched up the hand seals and it ACCIDENTALLY exploded!...
"Really? AWESOME!" Naruto shouted. "But don't you have the boring paperwork to do?" Naruto asked.
"Yes, but, I'll leave a kage bunshin with you to teach you." The Sandaime replied.
"Whats a kage bunshin?" Naruto asked.
"A shadow clone." The Sandaime replied, already making plans to have his clone go over jutsu theory with Naruto later.
"So why don't you leave the Kage Bunshin to do boring paperwork?" Naruto asked, confused.
"Was it something I said?" Naruto asked, confused.
"You're a genius! Oh why didn't I think of that?" The Sandaime said, ignoring the loud *PLOP* of Naruto's sweat drop. "And just for that, we can start training tomorrow!"
And so begun Naruto's journey into the world of ninja – a journey which he happily proclaimed was, "In The Name Of The Holy Log."