A/N: Hello, if this is your first time reading 'The Fox Among the Mountains' then let me welcome you and thank you for giving this story a try.
This is the revised and improved version of the first chapter, it is now much cleaner and easier to read that before. It is all thanks to MagnoliaTree who took up the job of being the Beta Reader for this story and is doing a great job so far!
Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction, I do not own Naruto or any of its character.
Chapter 1: Prologue
Konohagakure no Sato, one of the five great ninja villages, known for its military power, and its influence on the shinobi world itself. The Great Tree that, no matter what, stands tall. It has participated in every Great Shinobi War, and emerged victorious.
It is the home of renowned heroes: Legends who have made a name for themselves, drenching the soil with blood and striking fear in the hearts of their enemies.
Hidden in a deep forest, it lays just below the gaze of its past guardians, now carved in stone. But even now, as the ages pass by, they keep up their job of protecting the village, the same village that saw them born.
Although the past of Konoha is bathed in glory, not everything is perfect. Any great garden, no matter how beautiful, well kept or renowned, will eventually grow weeds. Weeds which must be cut to protect the true plants, preserving the sanctity of the community. In the Village Hidden in the Leaves the weeds are traitors, and as in any other ninja village, they need to be taken care of- one way or another.
After the third Great Shinobi War, forgetting about its inner conflicts, the Leaf had lived a prosperous and peaceful life. Until the unthinkable happened.
Seven years ago Konoha was attacked, not by an enemy village, but by a demon. A giant fox, the Kyūbi no Kitsune, rampaged into the village. Unstoppable as a tornado and lethal as a plague was the fox's assault, shinobi falling in numbers only equaled by the leaves, withered in the surrounding forests as summer faded. On that cold fall night, cries for help and shrieks of agony could not be drowned out, and all over the village children cried, adding their screams to the terrible, echoing cacophony. It was a tragedy, a catastrophe, a disaster of Nature, and, for the first time since it sprouted in the Land of Fire, the Tree seemed doomed.
But then, in a flash of yellow, the fourth Fire Shadow made his way to the battlefield, resolved to stop the demon-or die trying. A shinobi of incredible power and skill, Minato Namikaze succeeded in beating the demon fox and sealed it inside a newborn baby, at the cost of his life.
Now, seven years later, the wound inflicted by the Biju is no longer bleeding, but it isn't closed and probably never will be. At nightfall Konoha will take a rest of mourning for its fallen ones.
This is an evening to celebrate the victory over the fox that threatened the Leaf. It is a time to celebrate the bravery of the lost heroes and their Will of Fire. Tonight is the tenth of October, and the leaves are dancing.
"Hime! Hime, where are you?" A frantic man called, running through the mass of people congregated at the street- bumping along the way several men and women.
The man had sandy blond hair, tied in a long ponytail reaching to his upper back. He wore blue trousers with tape wrapped at the bottoms, and a long sleeved blue shirt, below a Konoha jounin vest. On the top of the vest there was a sleeveless red coat and, completing the outfit, he wore hand guards on both arms- and the Konoha hitai-ate on his forehead.
'Dammit Inoichi! How could you lose sight of your own daughter?'He thought, fruitlessly searching for his daughter inside a ramen shop.
'I need to find her soon, or Mayu will hang me on the village gates by my balls! Ugh, how did I get myself into this mess! '
Inoichi Yamanaka, head of the Yamanaka clan, was visiting the annual Yondaime festival and having fun with his daughter Ino, but then, in the blink of an eye, she just disappeared! He knew he should have taken his daughter's hand, but she had utterly refused, saying she was a big girl now. And here he was, running through the town searching for his little princess who must be on the streets -cold, hungry and frightened.
'If someone even tries to harm my baby girl, I promise there's going to be hell to pay!' The blond haired shinobi rounded the corner and entered an alley hoping to find his daughter without any kind of injury.
Inoichi went deeper into the dark alley. His instinct, refined by years as a shinobi, told him that something very wrong had happened there. Soon, every step he took was accompanied by the cracking of little pieces of broken glass on the floor. Occasionally, his vision would wander to a trash can, broken window or graffiti that caught his eye.
Every muscle on his body was tensed and ready to spring to action should something, or someone, jump to attack him. His senses, sharpened, tried to catch any sign of a trap. Then a somewhat strange, but familiar smell came to his nose.
'This smell, is it iron? No it is more like blo…od' Inoichi's heart rose to his throat and a chilly wind crept up his spine.
Blood. Something that every shinobi must be familiar with (after all, their job often consist in killing the appointed target), but that didn't mean that he had to like it.
For many shinobi, the smell or sight of blood often reminds them of everything they have lost, of all the comrades they have seen as the light fades from their eyes, and the sickly reminder that the blood stays warm, even after the bodies have turned cold.
Inoichi ran forward, following the smell. On the floor he saw a figure, lying there with its blond hair tainted by red.
The Yamanaka froze and stood there, slightly trembling, thinking the body was from his blonde daughter. On closer inspection, however he observed that the hair had a different shade when compared to Ino's platinum color.
The Jōnin took a step forward and crouched next to the body, to get a better look.
The body was of a child no more than 10 years old. Inoichi turned the body from its facedown position to see the face. The child's bruised visage had blanched because of the loss of blood, and had three whisker marks on each cheek…'Wait, whiskers?'
"The jinchūriki…" The jounin immediately checked his pulse and was surprised. Although weak, the boy was still alive. There was no time to lose, he needed to take the boy to the hospital, such deep wounds could only be healed by professionals-or the boy wouldn't make it.
"I can't believe it. Were the hell are the ANBU when you need them?" Inoichi took the boy in his arms and cringed from the gruesome sight.
The jinchūriki's shredded t-shirt lay forgotten on the wet floor, revealing the deep stab wounds and cuts on his chest. One particularly nasty gash ran from his left shoulder all the way to his stomach. The legs weren't much better, and Inoichi deducted from the burnt pants and legs that someone had used a fire jutsu against him.
The Yamanaka could continue inspecting the numerous wounds and scars on the boy, but he had to get moving. Using chakra, he began running up the wall and once on top of the building, the Jōnin took off, jumping from roof to roof.
'How could someone do this?' thought Inoichi while jumping to the next roof. 'Using a jutsu against a defenseless child, I never thought a ninja would sink so low…'
"Almost there, hang on, Naruto." Said Inoichi although he knew he wouldn't get a response from the grievously injured child.
The blonde shinobi was jumping as fast and far as he could, hoping to get to the hospital sooner, he didn't want the boy to die. He just couldn't understand how people could be so stupid. 'Jinchūriki or not, he's just a little kid who hasn't done any harm to anyone.' He had heard rumors about mobs attacking Naruto, but he hadn't thought it could that bad, and it had taken the young boy slowly bleeding to death in his arms for him to realize the truth.
"You didn't even choose to become a jinchūriki, you were made one." Said the clan head while looking down to Naruto. 'Why did Minato pick you, kid?'
All the people who were fifteen years old, or older, by the date of October the tenth knew that the Kyūbi had been sealed inside Naruto. That information was released to the public by the Sandaime Hokage shortly after the attack ended. The Sandaime had hoped that the people would understand and respect the deceased Yondaime's wish of seeing Naruto as a hero, too bad the aged Sandaime forgot something really important about life.
'Human ignorance knows no limit. 'Shouts of indignation and pure hate didn't take long to flood the village. People- mainly the civilians- were calling for the death of the beast that had destroyed their homes and killed their loved ones.
All the hate from the aftermath of the Kyūbi's assault was focused to the newborn jinchūriki; the Sandaime saw his mistake and created a law stating that anyone who dared to speak about Naruto's condition to any of the younger generation would be executed on the spot.
'But it was too late… although we, the clan heads, treat Naruto like any other kids, the sons and daughters of civilians, after seeing how their parents deal with Uzumaki, started giving him the same cold attitude and in the end he ended up all alone- treated like a pariah. I should have encouraged Ino to play with him...'As he neared the hospital, Inoichi's eyes moved to the Hokage monument and stopped at the face of Minato Namikaze.
"…The hell?" Inoichi Yamanaka came to a halt and looked down, or, more precisely, down to Naruto's face.
'No, it can't be…
Minato wouldn't have left a random kid with such a burden, much less someone as lonely as an orphan.
He wouldn't be able to ask a family to sacrifice their sons or daughters, then…
But, Kushina was pregnant…Minato and Kushina were very close to each other…'
His eyes widened like saucers and he almost dropped Naruto, because of the shock that came with his inevitable conclusion.
'Minato Namikaze not only sacrificed himself for the village.'
Inoichi now truly knew who he was carrying in his arms. He may be the container of the Kyubi no Kitsune…
'He had to sacrifice something more precious to him than his own life,'
But he is also the Fourth's legacy. He is…
'He sacrificed his own son.'