Chapter One: The Emperor and Empress of the Unified West

"Naruto Uzumaki...it is regret that I must inform you that you are hereby banished from Konohagakure no Sato. Your ninja license is hereby revoked and you cannot return to Konohagakure as long as you live. If you appear within the borders of Fire Country...then you will be killed on sight." A blond-haired woman who was hiding under a henge to conceal her true age, while the gathered civilian council members smirked or held looks of satisfaction, while the Shinobi side held looks of disdain.

"You monster! Look what you have done to Sasuke! You demon! I hate you! I wish you were dead!" A pink-haired teenager of twelve.

"You did this to your teammate? You are worse than trash. You are scum." A lazy, aloof sensei.

"You are too troublesome to remain here. You better leave. Almost got killed because of you. Bummer." A lazy slacker with a pineapple-style haircut.

"My mom was right about you! You're nothing but a damn demon! I'll kill you the next time I see you again!" A feral-looking boy with a white puppy, standing next to a feral-looking older woman with a black one-eyed wolf.

"It is most un-youthful to have such a demon in our village! You should leave!" A boy with bush brows dressed in green spandex.

"You lied to me. You were fated to become the Nine-Tails. There is no way one can escape fate. Never show your face here again, or I will kill you." A boy with cold pupil-less lavender eyes.

"Before you go...please know that I love you. I always loved you." A girl with the same eyes as her cousin.

Blue eyes snapped open. After a moment, he realized that he was in his bedroom, on his side, his body pressed up against his wife's backside, one arm around her torso. His spacious bedroom, a stack contrast as to his old bedroom back in Konoha.

Konoha. That was one place that he would rather not think about. Come to think about it, it was eight years today that he was banished from his home, back when he was a boisterous, loudmouthed genin. Back when his major desire was simply to become Hokage and to earn the respect of the village. He chuckled at the irony. He was not the Fire Shadow of Konoha. No, he was much bigger.

The Emperor of the Western Empire.

With a groan, Naruto Uzumaki Namikaze assumed a seated position in the king-sized bed. It was safe to say that in the seven years following his banishment, that he had changed. Twenty years old, and with a wiry, muscular frame which hid his true strength well. Standing at six feet tall with unruly reddish-blond hair, the whisker-like marks gone from his face, he was the spitting image of his father, Minato Namikaze, but had his mother's trademark temper when roused.

It all began eight years ago, in the aftermath of the mission to retrieve his former teammate Sasuke Uchiha from his attempted defection to Orochimaru. Despite suffering numerous injuries in the ensuing battle, including a Chidori to the lung, Naruto was successful in bringing Sasuke back to Konoha. However, it was while he was recovering, that sinister events were underway. The Konoha Council, which made up of the shinobi clan heads and the influential civilian clan and business leaders, had charged him with assaulting a fellow Konoha Ninja and assaulting the last of the Uchiha clan, while conveniently overlooking the fact that Sasuke had attempted to defect from Konoha.

The warhawk, Danzou Shimura, Konoha Mercantile Guild head Asana Haruno, Hyuuga Clan Head Hiashi Hyuuga, and the two senior advisers Koharu Utane and Honmura Mitokado spearheaded the assault. Within hours, the council had overrode Tsunade and had declared Naruto guilty. Tsunade, however was able to keep Naruto from being executed, but his reward for doing his job was a lifetime banishment from Konoha, of which the entire council has backed. Desperate for the younger generation to see that Naruto was a hero, Tsunade had told them about the circumstances of his birth, of how the Yondaime had sealed the Nine-Tailed Fox Spirit inside his body.

Unfortunately, that backfired.

Naruto's teammates from Sakura Haruno to Shikamaru Nara instead saw him as the Nine-Tails reborn. Especially Sakura, who had called for Naruto's execution, both for beating Sasuke down and for being the container to the Nine-Tails. Iruka Umino was among those who had forsaken him, as was his sensei, Kakashi Hatake. Kiba Inuzuka and his mother, Tsume both threatened to kill him should they ever see him again, as did Neji Hyuuga. Even Tsunade was annoyed with Naruto's pestering about Sasuke's well-being despite being injured himself, and Jiraya was nowhere to be seen. The only people who supported him were the Konohamaru Corps - Konohamaru Sarutobi, grandson to the late Hiruzen Sarutobi, Moegi and Udon - the ramen shop owner Teuchi and his daughter Ayane, and Hinata Hyuuga, who finally mustered the courage to tell him her feelings before being 'escorted' by Maito Gai and Asuma Sarutobi to the city gates.

Banishment would have destroyed anyone weaker. But Naruto Uzumaki proved to be strong. While staying overnight inside a temple as a guest of the warrior monk Chiriku, it had taken his banishment to see that Konoha would never accept him, not matter what he had done. He had helped in defending Konoha from the joint Sand-Sound Invasion which was spearheaded by Orochimaru, and even brought back the Slug Sage so she could take over the post of Hokage. In the end, the dream of being Hokage was just as that - a dream.

In an ironic twist, Naruto realized that Konoha was holding him back from reaching his true potential, as what Sasuke had said to him before their battle at the Valley of the End. Everyone saw Naruto as a dead-last with no clan. But that was merely a mask. Naruto simply hid under the guise of a knuckleheaded ninja in order to keep the villagers at bay, and for good reason. Had he dropped his mask and showed that he could outdo even Sasuke Uchiha, the villagers would scream that it was the fox instead of accepting the fact that it was just hard work and out comes the torches and pitchforks.

Suspecting that the warhawk would send his ROOT forces after him, Naruto decided to head east towards Lightning Country while sending a clone towards Wind Country after leaving Chiriku. Add the fact that the Akatsuki had caught wind of his banishment, Itachi Uchiha and his partner Kisame Hoshigaki were hot on his tail.

Thankfully, the Root Anbu proved to be excellent fodder as Naruto gave both parties the slip as they fought each other.

It was while trying to catch his breath in Kumo, that he ran into his first ally.

Yugito Nii, jinchuuriki of the Nibi, the Two-Tailed Monster Cat.

Pursued by Akatsuki members Hidan and Kazuku in Kumo's sewers, Yugito would have surely lost had it not been for Naruto and several shadow clones littered with exploding tags which had seperated both her and the Akatsuki pursuing her. As it turned out, Yugito had been sold out by the Kumogakure Council without knowledge by either the Raikage and his brother in an attempt to keep the self-proclaimed 'Zombie Brothers' from destroying Kumo.

Disillusioned and betrayed, Yugito decided to join up with Naruto. Several days later, after arriving in Wave Country, Naruto received another surprise while staying overnight with Tazuma and his family.

The Forbidden Scroll of Sealing, as well as his heritage.

To say that Naruto was shocked was an understatement. It also reinforced his hatred towards Konoha, since they had banished the only son of Minato Namikaze, the village hero and former Whirlpool ruler and seal master Kushinna Uzumaki-Namikaze, nicknamed the 'Crimson Fury' and the 'Hot-blooded Habanero' for both her red hair and her trademark temper. His family was also loaded, as the accounts in Tea Country had proven. The Uzumaki clan was also related to the famed Senju clan, of which Tsunade was a part of. It was shortly thereafter that Naruto had adopted the family name of his father, thus becoming Naruto Uzumaki-Namikaze. Since things were a bit hot for both jinchuuriki, Naruto and Yugito both boarded a boat from Tea Country and headed for the West.

As long as anyone could remember, the northern and southern halves of the West - from the imposing Lahja Mountains to the north to Tears' Point to the south - were locked in a constant state of war. Power-hungry warlords and Damiyos sought to control the lands by any means. Whenever two sides clashed, the fields ran red with blood. The weaker Damiyos were either overrun or killed outright. Even worse, whenever a warlord was killed, another would take their place in the ensuing power vacuum.

Naruto and Yugito were both in Kimon when he got into a fight with several of the local warlord's men. The five brutes were attempting to rape a helpless woman one night, as she had been caught outside of the mandatory curfew ordered by the warlord. The warlord, one Rokunbungi Oda, was the strongest of the warlords, as he had the most territory. Simply put, given the way he had ruthlessly oppressed the people in his territory, he made Gato look like a saint. Knowing full well that Oda would soon come for him, since he had killed his men, Naruto took the fight to him.

Naruto, along with Yugito and a number of shadow clones, invaded Oda's castle. Complacent in his superiority, Oda had underestimated the former Konoha genin and had paid for it with his life.

With Oda dead by his hand, Naruto had gained an ambition. The people were suffering, civilian, ninja and samurai alike. With Oda's death, Naruto had also gained his land, which consisted of the soon-to-be Imperial Capital and all of the Kinkri region. After consulting Yugito and the Kyuubi about it, Naruto decided on a course of action: unify the lands and bring peace to the people. He had spent the first three months consolidating his power base in Kumon, which would soon become the Capital of the Western Empire. Samurai and Ninja flocked to his side in droves as Naruto lured them in with both his fighting prowess and his charismatic personality, promising them peace for the first time since the era of the Six Paths Sage.

With that, the Unification War had begun.

The more ruthless Damiyos and Warlords who opposed Naruto's peace efforts challenged the underdog of a warlord...and were slaughtered to the last man. However, those who believed that Naruto could bring peace to the West came to his side, swearing loyalty to the young warlord. Soon, his army grew, consisting of Samurai and shinobi alike. Much to his surprise, Zabuza Momichi and Haku, thought to have been killed during the Wave Mission, were in fact alive, his base of operations was in the forests of the southern continent. Zabuza was leading his own army consisting of Mist refugees who fled during the bloodline purges, and upon finding out that the newest warlord was the same one he encountered years earlier back in Wave, pledged his support.

Like his parents, Naruto was an expert in the Uzumaki style of funijutsu, as well as the Uzumaki and Namikaze styles of combat. Also, aside from Yugito, Naruto had the Nine-Tails to rely upon. Originally, the Kyuubi no Youkou looked down on the son of Minato Namikaze with contempt, but after seeing how hard he worked and his devotion to his friends, the fox grew to respect him, which was ironic since aside from Yugito, the Nine-Tails was the one he could trust with his life. Proving to be a prodigy in the sealing arts, Naruto researched the seal which kept the Nine-Tails imprisoned in his gut. It was shortly after his fourteenth birthday that he freed her from its prison, complete with all nine tails of power.

That's right. The most powerful of the tailed beasts was a vixen.

The Nine-Tails, whose name was Kitami, could have left Naruto and gone after Madara Uchiha, the one person who was directly responsible for the deaths of Naruto's parents as well as sending her into a rage and attacking Konoha, but she was quite fond of the boy, and remained at his side, teaching him anything and everything about advanced combat, jutsus and life in general, even long before Naruto had freed her from the seal, Naruto taking to her teachings like a sponge to water.

Aside from being trained by the Kyuubi, Naruto also learned swordsmanship from Zabuza. He also became interested in samurai swordplay and soon learned from them as well from a master samurai by the name of Sonshi, training with him as well as learning all and everything political, while he wasn't out on campaign. Naruto's major support base, however would come from the people themselves. Naruto was finally seen for something other than being a jinchuuriki, and that was a hero. It took him one year to unify the northern continent, and another year to unify the southern continent under his banner.

The final battle took place on the Southern Continent. If one would call it that. The opposing Damiyos had surrendered once their armies had deserted in the face of the young warlord. With the Treaty of Ichiyama, the Unification War was officially over. Peace had finally been brought to the lands at last. It was three days after the war was over that Naruto was resting inside his home - formerly that of Rokunbungi Oda - when he was approached by the leading civilians, nobility and clans from both shinobi and samurai.

He had brought peace to the West, and now the people looked to him for further leadership.

Naruto offered token resistance to the idea, but it was Kitami who had talked him into it.

"You may not be Hokage, but the people look to you. Besides, you are even more powerful than your father and the last three Hokages combined. Why be a kage when you can become an Emperor?"

With that, Naruto had ascended from being a warlord to the Emperor. Thus, the Unified West, or the Western Empire was born. Kitami was his chief prime minister, while Zabuza and Yugito retained their commands of their own elite units. Sonshi also served as part of his council. That was four years ago.

Naruto kicked off the crimson covers and swung his feet over the edge of the bed before rising to his feet, wearing only a pair of pajamas pants and a sleeveless shirt. He stretched, which was followed by several morning calisthenics to work out the kinks in his muscles. As he stretched, he felt a pair of eyes on him, but he continued his calisthenics. He may have been the Emperor, but he was above all things, a warrior.

When he was finished, his wife made her move. He didn't even hear her move when she got out of the bed. But he did feel her arms around his waist, her body pressed up against his. While she was still holding her, Naruto turned around and looked down at his wife. She was taller than she was back when they were both Konoha genin, standing at five-feet-seven, several months younger than he was. Long indigo-colored hair reached down her back, her pupil-less lavender eyes looking up at her husband with love and tenderness. Her night clothes consisted of a tanktop and a pair of cotton shorts.

She was his confidant, his biggest supporter. She was also the Empress Consort, faithful wife to the Emperor.

"Good morning, Hime," Naruto greeted his wife, using his nickname for her as he kissed her on the forehead.

"Good morning, love," Hinata Namikaze greeted back.

It would be six years following his banishment from Konoha that they would meet up again, this time in Suna, where the Chuunin Exams were taking place. Naruto was present as the personal guest to the Kazekage, Gaara of the Sand, given as how Gaara had requested that he train the three Suna genin Maru Sarutobi (formerly Konohamaru), Moegi and Udon for the upcoming trials. Dressed incognito (which earned him the nickname 'The Man in Black,' he saw Hinata having a falling out with her former teammate Kiba Inuzuka and Naruto's former teammate Sakura Haruno, because of Hinata's support towards Naruto.

Using one of the courier ninjas assigned to the Imperial Consulate, he summoned Hinata. There, Naruto found out that not only Hinata was shunned by nearly everyone in Konoha because of her support for Naruto (save for Kurenai and Tsunade), but was also placed into the Hyuuga branch clan after her father branded her with the Caged Bird Seal. The Caged Bird Seal, thought to be permanent, was easily removed by Naruto.

Then Hinata received another shock. The man she loved was the one who had unified the West. He was the Emperor.

Free from both the seal and from her father's browbeating, Naruto allowed Hinata to remain at the Imperial Consulate until the conclusion of the Chuunin course, when Hiashi received Hinata's hitai-ate following the exams, he was livid. Hanabi, being the perfect little heiress, authorized a bounty on Hinata's head. Much Tsunade's dismay, Hinata was placed inside the Bingo Book as a A-ranked criminal with the order to retrieve on sight. Hiashi was not going to let anyone kill Hinata, for he would do that himself.

Unknown to Hiashi, Hinata had left with Naruto and his entourage following the conclusion of the Chuunin Exams. The next time he would see her, the result of that meeting would not be pretty.

As Hinata and Naruto had grown closer, Hinata was chosen by Kitami to become the third Fox Sage. Technically, only those in the Uzumaki clan were chosen, but since Naruto himself was an Uzumaki on his mother's side and his marriage to Hinata was a foregone conclusion, Kitami chose Hinata.

It would prove to be a wise decision. Kitami saw that Hinata had potential and the drive to surpass even the first two sages. Even more surprising was the fact that her self-confidence and self-worth had increased. Even though she was not a seal master like her husband, Hinata made up for it by being an expert healer and fighter, her tactical prowess second only to her husband's. Following the completion of her six-month training, Hinata was officially declared the Third Fox Sage.

About a month later, she would marry Naruto in a private ceremony. There, she was given a new title: Empress Consort. Unlike most rulers, Hinata's authority was second to her husband's own. She was also quite popular with both the Empire's nobility, its armed forces, and with the common people. A former princess forsaken by her family because of the love she had for her husband, long before he became the Emperor. It also cemented the dynasty of the Uzumaki-Namikaze rulers.

"You okay?" Hinata asked.

"Bad dream," was the reply.

"Was it Konoha?" Hinata asked, knowing full well that today marked Naruto's banishment from the Leaf.

Naruto nodded. "Eight years."

"Do you have any regrets?"

"Now that I think about it, no. Konoha was holding me back." Naruto paused. "Great. I sound like Sasuke back when we fought at the Valley."

The Empress Consort giggled as she stole a kiss from her brooding husband and untangled herself from his embrace. "Come on, Lord Namikaze. We have to get ready for the day."

She didn't get very far, as Naruto grabbed her wrist gently and pulled her back to him. "The Empire can wait, Hime. We'll head out in 30 minutes."

Hinata smiled. She still held that smile as she reversed the grip and tossed her husband onto the bed. Before the Emperor could recover, the Fox Sage pounced on him.


30 minutes later...

Following the impromptu makeout session, the Emperor and his consort showered together, as they had always did. Afterward, they emerged from the bathroom and got dressed.

One thing about Naruto was that his style of clothing has changed. He had grown out of wearing orange, switching over from the color which screamed 'kill me' to mostly dark attire. After all, black was a universal color, and could just as easily go with anything. He walked into his closet and pulled out his clothes for the day, consisting of a white shirt with a tight collar, black vest, pants and boots. His longcoat remained on the hanger, while his black Kage-style hat was still on the dresser. The hat was mostly used to conceal his identity, mostly when he traveled abroad, which was often.

Hinata also followed her husband's example. Despite having a passion for chesogam dresses, she too dressed simply. Her uniform consisted of a ninja jumpsuit (i.e., her Shippuden uniform) and a black Jounin flak vest. The conical straw hat, which Hinata wore for the same reasons as her husband's Kage-style hat was on the counter as well.

Naruto rolled up the sleeves of his shirt to his elbows. The last thing he slipped on were a pair of black leather gloves. Once everything was in place, they exited the bedroom via shunshin, ending up on the grounds of the Imperial Complex.

The sun has just risen over the city of Kimon, which was just as big as Konoha, only that it sat twenty miles inland from the Western Sea. The Kimon River, which snaked its way halfway through the Northern Continent, came to an end at its namesake city. The Imperial Capital also served as a hub for trade, as did South Ichiyama in the Southern Region.

Their residence, The Imperial Complex was the nerve center of the Empire (think the Imperial Palace in Japan). Located at the heart of Kumon City, which served as the Imperial Capital, the two-mile Complex sat on on top of a small hill and was heavily fortified, as it once belonged to Rokunbungi Oda. Now, it served as the center of the Unified West. Spanning two miles, the four-story Imperial Palace, which served as the residence of the Emperor. The top two floors were reserved for the Emperor, while the bottom two floors were for their guests. Aside from the Imperial Palace was the Hall of Sovereigns, of which the Emperor, the Empress and their 12-member Imperial Council - six from the Empire's high-ranking samurai and shinobi clans and six civilians and nobility who were the elected representatives of the people - met three times a week to conduct and manage the government. The House of Sovereigns also contained his throne room, where the royal couple would usually receive their guests, seated on their thrones, as well as their joint office.

Unlike the Konoha Council, in which the Hokage was more of a figurehead by the time Tsunade had assumed the mantle, Naruto held absolute power alongside Hinata. However, Naruto and Hinata were no tyrants, showing that they had learned their lessons well. The men and women that served on the council were not 'yes-men,' but people who had fought and bled alongside with Naruto in the Unification War, and he trusted and respected them a great deal, as the council did the same.

The Imperial Ballroom was located in a wooded section of the park. At the moment, the servants busied themselves in preparing for the Unification Gala which was to be held by the end of the week, in which the Emperor and Empress would host what is the biggest event of the year. And at that time, the entire Empire would be celebrating the peace and prosperity that their young Emperor has brought them after years of non-stop war. Adjacent to the Imperial Palace, was their private training hall, where he and Hinata would spar and meditate. Last, was the set of barracks used by a regiment of ninja and samurai, also hidden in the wooded area of the complex, the ninja and samurai assigned to watch over the grounds of the complex.

Arms linked, the royal couple strolled into the House of Sovereigns to start their day, the samurai that stood guard greeted their Emperor, to which Naruto and Hinata responded with a nod.

The chief adviser was waiting for them in the corridor. Slightly taller than the Emperor, with tanned skin, muscular, bleached blond hair and mustache Naruto greeted him with a nod, and the man fell in step beside him and Hinata.

"You're up early this morning, A," Naruto began.

"And you jumped out the window again, Chief," A replied dryly. Turning to Hinata, he greeted her as well. "Lady Namikaze."

"A," Hinata responded. "He did not jump out of the window this time. We came down by shunshin."

How did the Raikage of Kumo ended up in the West, and as Naruto's senior adviser? Three years earlier, A was overthrown by a more hardline Raikage. The first order of the new Raikage: eliminate his predecessor and his brother, Killer Bee. However, as Emperor of the West, Naruto had a robust spy network in the East, and it was through them that Naruto was notified of the coup while visiting Gaara in Suna. With the aid of his Elite Guard, his personal bodyguards and the use of the Demons' Gate jutsu, arrived at the nick of time and slaughtered the Kumo ANBU, thus saving A and Bee's lives.

Imagine their shock upon returning to Suna that the Emperor was the former Kyuubi Jinchuuriki. Even A and Bee had heard about the exploits about the one who unified the lands under a single banner. It was then that Naruto offered A and Bee political asylum within the Empire, along with the other five jinchuuriki that Naruto had rescued from the Akatsuki. A and Bee accepted Naruto's offer, with A serving as chief adviser to the young Emperor, while Bee hung around the trading post of Rara, located thirty miles from Kumon.

"Still a ninja, through and through," A remarked.

"Haven't called myself that since I came here," Naruto replied. "Given the fact that I've also been trained by Samurai, I'm more of a combination between the two. So what's on the schedule for today?"

"Not much, just a meeting with one of the Damiyos from the Southern Region. Mukada, I think. Everyone is preparing for the festival at the end of the week."

"What is it about? The southern badlands? I thought we covered that in the last meeting of the Council."

"That we did, Chief," A replied, "and so far, your financial aid has proven to be effective. I think that Damiyo Mukada wishes to offer the hand of his eldest daughter to you."

At that, Hinata's eye twitched. Naruto was loyal to her and despite her gentle demeanor, the idea of having to compete with either a concubine or a mistress was to her insulting. She made that perfectly clear when she became Empress Consort. Naruto was hers and hers alone.

"In case you forgot, I'm married," Naruto said.

"But in Mukada's case, he wants you to have a concubine."

"So in case his daughter's offspring could have a claim to the throne?" Hinata cut in. "I think not."

'Whoa. Scary,' A thought. 'Glad I wasn't in charge when that mess with the Hyuuga went down.'

Naruto groaned. "At least Lady Aihara wasn't as persistent. She did back off when Hinata and I got married. I don't chase skirts or fangirls. I'm strictly a one-woman man."

"How admirable of you," A said. In the three years that he has been here, his respect towards the boy has grown. Here was someone that everyone has written off as worthless, a dead-last who was banished from his home for simply doing his job, the ruler of a Empire. When Naruto had told him and Bee the circumstances of his banishment, both men were shocked. The boy was banished solely for doing his job. Even more so, was the fact that the boy they banished was the son of the village hero, a man that both brothers respected.

What was more surprising to A and his brother was that he had managed to rally the other jinchuuriki to his cause. With the exception of the bloodthirsty Yagura, who was dead and Gaara, who was still Suna's Kazekage, the surviving Jinchuuriki had made their homes throughout the Empire, and the people saw them as Guardians, heroes, not as weapons or demons. The six jinchuuriki were also instrumental in defending Suna from the Akatsuki, who had invaded the Sand.

It was indeed a brutal battle. The Akatsuki was backed up by the Five Paths of Pein and 100,000 White Zetsu clones. The joint Imperial-Suna forces consisted of Zabuza Momichi's Demon Brigade, Yugito Nii's Hellcat Unit, former Akatsuki members Yahiko and Konan, who had defected from the Akatsuki upon being betrayed by their childhood friend Nagato, 20,000 ninja and samurai from the Imperial Forces, and the six Jinchuuriki which Naruto had rescued.

Despite having superior numbers, the Akatsuki lacked the power of the Jinchuuriki. In the end, the Akatsuki were routed and destroyed. It was during the Akatsuki Invasion that Naruto had earned another nickname: The Akatsuki Killer. Both Itachi Uchiha and Nagato had fallen to his blade. Hinata was credited with the killing of Deidara. One chakra-powered Kaiton shot from her Yumi bow had struck his pouch of clay, detonating it, killing him almost instantly.

"You call it admirable," Naruto replied, "but Mukada is as sneaky as they come. Reminds me of the so-called honorable council from Konoha. Always looking out for their own interests, yet claim that it's for the good of the village."

"Your Majesty!"

Naruto, Hinata and A stopped in mid-step and turned around. A valet was running down the hall in their direction. The valet skidded to a halt, and bended down to his knees, panting, taking in gulps of air.

"Catch your breath, son," A said. "What business you have with the Emperor?"

"There's someone here asking for you," the valet replied once he got himself under control. "He wishes to speak with you, sir."

"Tell them whoever it is I will speak with him shortly," Naruto replied.

"He says it's urgent, Sire."

Naruto sighed. "Okay. Who is he and where is he from?"

"He did not give me his name, Majesty," the valet replied, "but he did say he was from the East. Fire Country."

If Naruto was surprised, he did not show it. However, A and Hinata exchanged worried glances. "Where is he now?"

"I told him to wait inside the throne room, sir," the valet replied.

"You may go," the Emperor said.

Once the valet was gone, A turned to the younger man. "Fire Country? You think it's Konoha?"

"Could be," Naruto replied.

"If you want, I can have whoever it is thrown out," A suggested.

"No...this was going to happen sooner or later," Naruto replied. "You think that after sending out most of the Konoha 11, the warhawk, and the clan heads after me that they would finally get the hint and leave me alone. Deal with Mukada, and tell him that one: I had an emergency to deal with; and two: my answer to his impending proposal is no."

A nodded and walked down the corridor. Naruto, in the meantime, headed for the throne room, located inside the hall. Hinata followed him. On the outside, he was the perfect picture of calm. Inside, he was angry.

Konoha. Today marked the eighth anniversary of his banishment from the Leaf, and someone had the nerve to waltz into his home. Depending on who it was, he may have them imprisoned. If it was that meddling warhawk and his two buddies on the council, execution looked mighty attractive. The throne room was guarded by two armored samurai, each armed with a nagainata, as well as a sword strapped to the side. The men saluted their Emperor, who responded with a nod, as one of them opened the door to the throne room. Hinata remained behind.

Doubling as a reception hall, the throne room was simply designed, as per to Naruto's orders. The Emperor was not a worldly man, as his life in Konoha had proved that. The throne room was simple, yet regal and it showed off his power. The throne room was half the size of the Konoha Council Chambers, breathtakingly beautiful and very restrained (think the throne room from The Last Samurai).

A red carpet led from the door to the throne itself, which was raised on a small platform. The twin thrones themselves was of an intricate design; made from the finest cedar from the Southern Continent combined with red velvet from the Northern Continent. It looked like any other chairs from the Empire, but it was anything but. It was a throne fit for the Emperor and his consort.

And Naruto saw him, seated on the steps leading to the thrones. Pausing only to cast a seal which soundproofed the room, Naruto faced the one person he hasn't seen in eight long years.

A man standing at his height, with spiky white hair, with a horned forehead protector with the kanji 'Oil' carved into it, and dressed in a short green kimono and pants combination, the mesh shirt visible underneath. Over the green kimono was was a red sage robe, open. His face had red markings under his eyes and a giant scroll was slung over his back.

Naruto's eyes narrowed. "You..." he hissed.

"Been a while, kid," Jiraiya said.

"Not long enough, Jiraiya," Naruto replied, his tone flat.

"I gotta admit, kid," Jiraiya began, "this is one hell of a setup you got here."

"What the hell are you doing here?" Naruto demanded.

Jiraiya gulped. He recognized that look in Naruto's eyes. He had seen it in Tsunade's face and recognized it all too well. The 'I-wanna-beat-down-the-perverted-sage' look. Given the choice of dealing with his estranged godson and Orochimaru, the snake was looking to be more attractive than the former ninja-turned-Emperor, who was one step away from showing him his spine.

Eight years and his hatred towards anything Konoha-releated had not waned. He had hoped that in that time, that Naruto had cooled down. He was wrong. To make matters worse, Jiraiya had realized that he had chosen to visit on the anniversary of Naruto's banishment from the Leaf.

'Crap,' Jiraya thought. 'This is not good.'