Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or any other characters that appear from other anime, video games, or manga, unless they're original characters and jutsu created by me.

Dragon of the Spiral

Chapter 4 - Land of False Hope

Somewhere in Oto no Kuni

Kabuto Yakushi, right hand man of the snake sannin Orochimaru, walked the dark halls of one of Otogakure's many hidden strongholds, accompanying him were two men that had became rather infamous among Oto's forces. The man to Kabuto's right stood taller then the others at 5"10' with an gray open flak jacket and tattered black shorts, showing off his heavily muscled physique, shoulder length white hair under a headband bearing Otogakure's symbol. The other man was equal in stature to Kabuto with spiky light blue hair and blue eyes. He wore a black flak jacket designed after Kumogakure's old standards with a gray sash and pants. Both of them eagerly awaited what their master summoned them for. The last time the two met with him, he gave them their curse seals and assigned them to work under a kunoichi named Guren. They were beginning to think he had forgotten about them since they retrieved Sasuke, when they received his summons.

They continued to follow Kabuto through the winding corridors, until they reached a pair of large doors. They slowly opened without aid into a poorly lit room. At the far end of the room, they could barely make out the silhouette of someone sitting in a chair resting their head upon their fist. The two instantly knew who it was occupying the dark throne and knelled before him.

"You summoned us, Lord Orochimaru," they chimed. The pale sannin grinned at them.

"You both have far exceeded my expectations. Guren applauds your talents," they were surprised she would say anything in their favor, considering her, "In light of that, I believe congratulations are in order. You both will accompany Kabuto to one of my Pits, where you will take command." They both looked surprised he would appoint them to such a position of authority.

"You seem hesitant. Is something wrong?" he wondered.

"Of course not, Lord Orochimaru," the bulky shinobi answered.

"We are unworthy of such praise," affirmed the other man.

"Excellent," he was pleased, "you may leave."

"SIR," they answered, quickly leaving his presence.

"Kabuto, I want you check on that man while you are there, see if he's in a more cooperative mood, then continue inducting the Fuuma Clan into our ranks," Orochimaru ordered. Kabuto bowed his head and left as well. Shortly after Kabuto's departure, Orochimaru rose from his seat and peered into the darkness behind his throne with a toothy grin.

"Sasuke," he called out, "It's time we take our leave."

"Where?," he asked from the shadows, not caring for what the answer was.

"One of my associates claims to have created something that my prove quite useful," he informed his young protege, "We leave for Umi no Kuni."

Bishomonten Pass, Northern Tsuchi no Kuni Border

It had been well over a week since Naruto left Katakura's compound, currently he was making his way through the most treacherous span of mountain roads in the entirety of the Tsuchi no Kuni. Bishomonten Pass claimed hundreds of travelers each year foolhardy enough to traverse it; a long winding unpaved road stretching the full length of Tsuchi no Kuni's northern most border, carved out of an 85 degree unstable cliff side, frequented by mudslides in the spring, rock slides in summer and fall, avalanches in winter, and compounded by uncommonly strong winds year round. Old man Katakura told him to head for the ocean via Bishomonten Pass and he would meet an escort party from the Mazoku along the way. He had no idea why someone would want to meet in this death trap of all places. Since he first began his trek into the pass, he hadn't been able to sleep or even rest his weary eyes for that matter and for good reason.

Ironically the last person he had any contact with was a hostess at a rest stop shortly before entering the pass, where the road just so happened to detoured away from the pass, who preached of the dangers of Bishomonten. She even told him stories about people who were crushed to death while sleeping on the pass. He quickly brushed them off, claiming stories like that are always worse then the real thing. He honestly believed that until his first night on the pass.

When the sun set over the snow capped mountain ranges and fatigue was about to set in, he settled against the cliff face, resting his travel pack behind him for cushioning, carefully tucking his sword under his mantle with him. He had just began to close his eyes when he felt a sudden rumble snap him back to attention just as a gigantic boulder came crashing down a few feet away from him, since then paranoia took hold and he hadn't been able to slept a wink since. Better to be safe then crushed by a mountain of rubble as the saying goes.

Naruto greatly anticipated the moment he could finally be done with his relaxing trek through the mountainst, but an uneasy thought crept into his sleep-deprived mind.

What if the Mazoku didn't show up?

The notion of wandering around on a wild goose chase severely pissed him off, all his time wasted here could have been better spent trying to find his friend. Judging from his surrounding, he guessed he would likely have his answer in another day or so. He may have been hallucinating and imagining what he wanted; the smell the salty sea air carried on the wind, the steady increase of local flora, meaning he had already began descent. It may be wishful thinking, but he believed his walk-about was nearly over.

Luckily for him, it turned out he was being pessimistic. Before the sun began to set he could see the ocean waves break on what he assumed was the coastline. He continued down the mountain road, this time in search of a nice comfortable boulder-free place to sleep. Quickening his pace, he ventured into a tunnel dug through the mountain, that marked the end of Bishomonten Pass and his entry into the former nation of Sora no Kuni. Thankfully the tunnel was lit fairly well and less then an hour later he was out.

As he exited the tunnel, he gazed out on possibly the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen; the crystal blue sea to the east seamlessly morphing into a lush forest of Giant Sequoia as he shifted his gaze west, surrounded by a picturesque wall of mountain ranges. The most noticeable feature he spotted was a on odd slightly curved rock formation jutting out of the earth, before the horizon directly in front of him. As he tried to focus in on it, he slowly felt his need for sleep suddenly wane and his instincts compelled him to approach it. His feet complied with their request and began walking towards it.

He wandered down the mountain road and into the dense forest, paying little heed to his surroundings. His attention firmly set on the stone formation, so much so he didn't notice his audience in the trees above him.

"Hey Big Sis," called a young boy with a bow and a pair of quivers filled with arrows mounted on his back, "Who's that?"

"Spiky black hair, eye patch over his right eye, wearing a mantle with Katakura Clan signet, sleepless appearance and a katana," analyzed the woman in the slightly loose fitted kimono holding a katana, "That appears to be the Young Master."

"His looks like an idiot," spoke another young boy with three pink stars tattooed under left eye, "He hasn't even noticed us yet."

"What do ya say we see what the 'Young Master's' made of," said a dark skinned girl with small jewel on her forehead as she flashed through a series of hand signs, "Magen: Kyozo (Demonic Illusion – Mirror Image)."

They awaited the effects of her genjutsu to became visible and watch their guest flail about like the idiot they assumed him to be, but to their surprise he continued on ignorant to what befell him.

"What the hell just happened?" she wondered.

"Nothing happened," answered a bald man wearing a strange pair of sunglasses with a lens missing.

"I KNOW THAT," she yelled, "I MEAN WHAT THE HELL JUST HAPPENED!"

"You all should pay more attention to Lord Yomi," spoke a long dark haired beauty with a stern expression, "The Young Master's condition leaves him unaffected by genjutsu."

"We hadn't forgotten his orders Lady Kagura," spoke the kimono clad beauty, "Ranmaru, I believe a more tangible response is necessary." The boy quickly caught on to her request and took aim into the sky with his bow, arrow drawn.

"Ninpou: Doshaburi (Ninja Art – Cloudburst)," he fired an arrow into a gape in the forest canopy. As his arrow flew, there was a small flash of light before the sky darkened and a storm of arrows rained down on their intended target.

Naruto stood undaunted as the rain of arrows drew closer, when he felt a familiar tingle and instantly drew his sword. As he regained consciousness, the arrows came down into range and he began slashing and deflecting the storm. He quickly realized the situation he was in and took note of the five people watching his performance. The hail slowly came to a halt, the ground had become a thicket of arrows with the exception of Naruto's immediate position.

"Hell-of-a-way to say hi," he pointed his blade towards his attackers. Not wanting to be rude the woman in the kimono leaped down to the road, a few yards ahead of him, with the star-tattooed boy to introduce themselves.

"Please accept our most heartfelt apologies, Master Naruto. We have been expecting you," she bowed slightly, "I am Ikaruga and this is Rinku." They raised their heads back up allowing Naruto to get a good look at both of them.

The woman, Ikaruga, had long, bright pink hair tied into two large buns atop her head, a curvaceous figure with peach skin, and a beauty mark under each green eye. She wore a long white kimono, open at the top to revealed a fair amount cleavage, with a red and black striped sash around her waist and a pair of high platform shoes. She held a delicate yet firm grasp on her sword, which put him slightly on edge.

The boy next to her, Rinku, barely came up to her thigh and looked to be somewhere around 12 years old. He had three pink tattoos under his left eye, and wore a long sleeve yellow shirt with a red sleeveless one over it, blue pants, an overly large red and yellow hat with a blue puff ball on top, and a large pouch slung over his shoulder.

"I take it your my escorts," he asked, "Weren't we supposed to meet on the pass?"

"We were told to wait for you in this area," she answered, unaffected by his attitude.

"We Mazoku only acknowledge strength. If Bishomonten was enough to claim you,"

"Then I was too weak for you to give a crap," he finished, "That about sum it up?" She smiled at him and nodded.

"Quite astute, Young Master," her gentle expression hardened as she swiftly draw her blade, separating Naruto's scabbard from his waist, "except on one account."

'How'd she do that,' he wondered, "And what's that?"

"We were also ordered to test your abilities," with the exception of the stern looking woman and the archer, they quickly surrounded him, "For your own safety, I suggest you not hold back."

"I don't have time for this crap," he scratched his head, "I get you guys want piece of me." He quickly fell into a guarded stance with his katana held up horizontally at eye level on his right side.

"So let's make this quick," he taunted.

The four combatants slowly spread out, waiting for just the right moment to strike. He waited for them to make the first move. The girl with the gem on her forehead quickly glanced at her partners. Naruto noticed her and believed they had a plan just for him, so he decided to provoke them by sheathing his blade and shifting into his quickdraw stance. They hesitated only for a moment, before they began their assault.

"Suiton: Suishobakuheki (Water Release – Water Restraining Wall)!" the gem crested girl slammed her open palm on the ground causing a wall of water to erupt from the ground trapping Naruto within.

"Ninpou: Doshaburi (Ninja Art – Cloudburst)," called the boy in the trees, before another storm of arrows rained down on him. This time however, Naruto had plenty of time to prepare for the attack.

"Senkiru (Thousand Cuts)," he drew his blade faster then most of his attackers could follow, shattering and splintering the incoming volley.

Not wanting to give them anymore time to plan out how they were going to kick his ass, he dashed head long towards the water wall where Ikaruga was positioned and leaped over it. Ikaruga smirked at his vain attempt at escape and turned her back on him. Naruto was taken aback by her action, but didn't allow it to slow him. Just as he fully cleared the wall, she spun back towards him and drew her katana.

"Mugetsu Style: Yasha Senku (Empty Flash)," Naruto barely managed to block her lightning quick attack, but the force of it sent back into the confines of the water wall, "Escape is pointless I'm afraid. We are all well aware of your combat prowess Young Master. Your specialize lies in close range combat. Your fighting a losing battle, why not surrender and come along quietly. We don't wish to keep Lord Yomi waiting."

"I get it. It all makes sense now. Your plan was to let that mountain tire me out, then attack me when fatigues already weighing me down. Pretty underhanded," he deduced, "You guys did your homework, guess I really don't need to hold back." As he explained his reasoning to them, he began to give off a faint blue aura as sparks fired randomly along his body reminiscent to a freshly struck lightning rod. He held up his sword and fell back into his original stance and rushed the wall once again.

"Bozo, Rinku," Ikaruga called, "If you please." At her call Rinku reached into his bag, leaped into the air, and oddly enough pulled out eight small yo-yos, one in between each finger and thumb.

"Ninja Art – Devil Yo-Yos," the boy throw the yo-yos at Naruto.

"Doton: Doryuu Taiga (Earth Release – Earth Flow River)," the dark man in the odd sunglasses called.

Naruto didn't expect the ground under him to suddenly change into mud, halting his charge as the yo-yos closed in. He questioned how much damage a bunch of kid's toys could do, but didn't want to take that chance. His options few, he had little choice then to block them. Rinku had him right where he wanted him and just as his yo-yos were about to make contact with Naruto, they changed trajectory and assaulted him from multiple directions. Naruto was in deep now, the ground slowly swallowed him up and Rinku confining his movement.

"I'm sure you've noticed the predicament," Ikaruga spoke, "Why not concede?"

"Gimme a break," he shouted, "You think this is enough to stop me!" He parried three yo-yos closing on his right and focused on the other five on his left. When they were just inches away from piercing his side, he lashed out with his bare hand and took hold of the strings.

"NO FAIR!," Rinku shouted, "YOU CAN'T JUST GRAB MY STRINGS LIKE THAT!"

"You'd be surprised what I can do," he gave the strings one strong tug, using them and Rinku to launch himself out of the mud, and clear over the water wall. Rinku, still shocked by Naruto's display, was in no position to stop him.

Naruto came flying towards the terrified Rinku and sheathed his blade. The boy screwed his eyes shut and awaited his end, when he felt a hand grip roughly onto his head.

"Outta my way kid," he flung the frightened child face first into muck below and propelled himself off a tree branch back down towards Ikaruga.

"It's not wise to test my Mugetsu Style," she smiled.

"Let's try this again," he crashed heavily onto the ground directly behind her. She turned to face him just in time to see him toss his sword into the air. As her attention was turned skyward to the blade, she was caught completely off guard to Naruto's advance.

"BIG SIS, LOOK OUT!" shouted the young bowmen from above. She narrowly dodged his kick and jumped back to evade his follow-up attack, disappearing behind the wall of water. Not wanting to sully her appearance with mud, she landed on-top of the slightly recovered Rinku forcing back down face first.

"Come along," she grabbed the collar of his shirt and leaping out of the muck as the water wall dissipated.

Once the wall fell, they watched Naruto casually make his way towards them with his sheath in hand, the blade spiraling down upon him. When the blade was mere inches from piercing his skull, he grabbed the blade out of the air and pointed it towards his attackers.

"Enough with the parlor tricks," he scowled.

"Doton: Doryuudan (Earth Release – Earth Dragon Bullet)," the dark man called, creating a dragon-like head out of the earth, before it began firing balls of mud. Naruto smiled at the effort and stood his ground. His aura intensified and sparks flared rapidly from his tightly clenched hand as he drew his blade once more.

"War Dance," he swung upwards in a large arc, projecting a massive blast of his energy along ground, engulfing the volley of mud without showing any sign of wavering. Ikaruga quickly stepped to the front of her teammates and pivoted around on her right foot, dragging the sheath along the ground.

"Mugetsu Style: Karura-en (Garuda Flame)," the air around her ignited into a spiraling torrent of fire, intent on outclassing her-would-be master's attack.

As their attacks were about to meet it appeared Ikaruga's flames, being the larger of the two attacks, would overtake the one-eyed man's. However instead of meeting in bright blast, Naruto's attack split her blazing torrent down the middle and continued on unabated.

"IMPOSSIBLE!" she yelled. The blast closed in on them even faster, to late to evade they attempted to shield themselves. The blast rang loud, creating a plume of dust and smoke, frightening the nearby wildlife away. As the smoke began to clear, Naruto felt a new presence where his attack connected.

"Who the hell are you?" he glared into the cloud of debris. The smoke slowly cleared allowing him to better see who was interfering with his fight.

Standing boldly in front of his attackers, where he felt his attack connect, was a beautiful, slim, well-endowed woman with long black hair flowing down to the middle of her back. She wore an elaborate white blazer with gold buttons and trim, a white skirt and black tights, and white boots. In her left hand, she firmly held onto the sheath of a katana, her right resting loosely on the pommel. From the way she stood before him, he thought she might have blocked his attack. His suspicion proved highly likely when he say burn marks and a thin trail of smoke coming from the end of her sheath. The fact she could block his attack without so much as breaking a sweat, greatly unnerved him until...

"My apologizes Master Naruto," she knelled down to him with her head lowered, prompting the others to follow suit, "We apologize for our rudeness. We were instructed to test your progress under the advisement of Master Katakura and orders from Lord Yomi, to see if you were in anyway lacking."

"Dirty old bastard," he calmed down, "And what do you think?"

"You performed well above our expectations," she stood back up and gestured to the group behind her, "These people were all hand picked for the sole purpose of restraining you."

"Restraining me?"

"Yes, if they were able defeat you and bring you before Master Yomi, you would have failed the test put forth," she confirmed.

"Then what? You would've killed me our something?"

"Of course not," she answered, "Your training would have restarted under the leaders of our clan." Everyone behind her cringed at the thought, which didn't go unnoticed.

"I'm guessing that's bad," he thought aloud, "Who are you guys anyways?"

"Perhaps introductions would be best saved for later," she wondered.

"I'm not so eager to let a bunch of guys who just attacked me to watch my back," he pressed.

"Very well. I am Kagura Mikazuchi, Captain of the 3rd Platoon, and these are my subordinates," she introduced, "You've already met Ikaruga and Rinku." Ikaruga tipped her head respectfully, while Rinku coughed up some mud he swallowed accidentally.

"Briefly," he remarked.

"The boy in the tree is Ranmaru Mori," she pointed to the child archer sitting in the tree above, "This man here is Boze and the girl next to him is Sue."

"Howzit' hangin'," Boze greeted.

"Nice to meet ya," said Sue.

"Likewise," or so Naruto claimed, "Nice glasses."

"Thanks," he said, "See told you they were cool."

"Someone had to think so," Sue retorted.

"However informal," Kagura interrupted, "Does that meet with your approval?"

"For now I guess," he claimed.

"Ranmaru report back to Lord Yomi. We will be there shortly," ordered Kagura.

"On it," the boy vanish into the canopy.

Meanwhile in Oto no Kuni above the Pit

Just as that bastard Izaiya's information claimed, Tayuya found one of Orochimaru's hidden bases deep in a large overgrown forest on Oto no Kuni's western border under the guise of an old dilapidated temple. It's cracking paint and damaged roof tiles obscured it true dark intent. The information claimed this location was a central hub of sorts for Orochimaru's curse seal research and experiments. She knew all to well what that meant, this was more than likely a Pit. A holding area for prisoners who had yet to submit themselves to Lord Orochimaru and a proving ground to weed out the weaker samples who had submit to him. The thought of those cells dug up far to many memories she would've preferred to stayed buried. Bringing her attention to the task at hand, she carefully observed the exterior of the compound from her hiding place in the heavy canopy.

She believed the coast the was clear, for the most part, but knew better than to rush things when she was finally this close to her goal. If she was lucky and Orochimaru's tactics hadn't changed dramatically in the last two years, she could expect a patrol to make an appearance sometime soon. That would be her best chance to sneak into the base unnoticed.

At this point all she could do now was sit quietly and wait for her little game of hide and seek to begin.

Sometime later with Naruto and the Mazoku

Hours past since Naruto and his entourage had "sparred" and they had yet to arrive. Now normally a nice leisurely stroll through the woods wouldn't be so bad, but he had to deal with an absurd amount of fatigue, his pain killer tag wearing off fast, the uncomfortable glares of a mud covered child, and the group's remarkably rock-like social skills. Throughout their trek his attention was constantly being drawn to the immense stone formation drawing ever closer. Tired of the silence, he attempted to spark some sort of conversation with some of his witty banter.

"So... how 'bout them Knicks," his attempt to break the proverbial ice got him some confused stares from the group and an unamused sneeze from Rinku.

Now that he had their attention he cleared his thought, "So, how much farther to the village?"

"Were almost to the foot off the pillar," Kagura answered.

"You said that an hour ago," he deadpanned, "Your names Kagura, right?"

"It is,"

"You said your the captain of the 3rd Platoon." she nodded, "How many platoons does your village have?"

"Currently, we have 26 platoons. Each with varying numbers with a minimum of 15 members,"

"How many members are in your platoon?" he wondered.

"I have 20 members under my command," he gave a whistle.

"Wow," he was impressed, "With those kinds of numbers I'm surprised I didn't run into any more squads sooner."

"Were more than enough to guard the area," Boze claimed.

"I get you guys like your privacy, but that many soldiers guarding a small time village in the mountains," he thought out loud, "A bit much don't you think."

"This valley isn't our home," Boze corrected.

"Damn right, living this far in the sticks would be a real pain the ass," Sue commented.

"So where do you guys live?" hearing his question, the entourage stopped dead in their tracks and looked at him with a dumbfounded expressions.

"Did I say something wrong?"

"You really don't know, do you?" Kagura questioned.

"Know what?"

"Holy crap," Rinku gaped, "he doesn't know Zue..." Ikaruga quickly covered the boy's mouth.

"If Master Naruto doesn't know about it, why spoil the surprise," she silenced them.

"I agree," Kagura concurred, "You'll be in for a real surprise, when you see the homeland."

They continued onward, but his plan seemed to work and the stick that was once firmly shoved up their asses was removed. They started talking amongst themselves and even asked him more about himself. The only who remained silent was Kagura. His eyes once again drifting towards the stone.

"Hey, I've been meaning to ask," he pointed toward the mountain, "What's the deal with that mountain?"

"That's not really a mountain," Boze answered.

"So what is it?"

"There's actually a pretty good story behind," Sue spoke up, "Wanna hear it?"

"What the hell," like he had anything better to do.

"Okay," she began, "Once upon a time there was this really big, strong, scary lookin' dude. He was was fighting this giant sea serpent in the homeland. He thought he had the thing cornered and tried to take one of its heads clean off, but he missed and cut the top of a pillar off. And it landed here. The End."

Naruto gave her unamused look, "You suck at telling stories, yo know that."

"Do I look the type to tell long winded stories?" she asked.

"You have a point," he admitted, "As if someone could cut something this big in two."

"Her story is true, if your satisfied with the spark notes," Boze spoke.

"That story is about one of your ancestors, Lord Kenpachi Zaraki," Kagura interjected, "I'm told he was an incredibly brutal warrior who took immense pleasure in battle. That mountain was once the top part of one of the pillars surrounding the homeland. His attack severed it before launching it clear over the horizon. He ended up killing the monster and some years later, our ancestors found this here. We call it Zaraki's Pillar, in his honor. At the base is a small settlement we use on occasion."

Immediately he thought back to the ritual in the Dragon's Well, more specifically the statue of the wild looking man with spikey hair.

"He didn't have a chipped, worn out long sword, did he?" Naruto asked.

"He did actually," she answered, "How did you know?"

"I think I've seen him before," they all looked at him strangely.

"Is that so," Kagura wondered, "The settlement is just beyond these trees."

They walked past the trees and like Kagura said a small settlement of about 10 small houses and a large main hall. With the kind of welcome he received earlier, he kind of expected to see the place full soldiers sparing or the reeking of wild boar roasting over fires, instead this so-called settlement looked more like one those ghost towns you see in old westerns. Kagura lead them to the large main hall where hopefully he could get the help he questionably needed and some well deserved sleep.

"A word of warning," she warned, "It is impossible to lie to the Lord Yomi, so speak truthfully." She pushed open the large doors and entered the large light-less hall.

"Introducing Master Naruto Uzumaki," Kagura called out into the darkness. Immediately torches began to light, moving from the doors around the hall until each burned brightly to a throne-like chair nestled at the far end of the chamber where a pale dark-haired slightly-aged man with his eyes closed sat. Naruto watched as his escort moved past him and bow before the man. After showing their respect, they moved out of the way and sat down on seat cushions to his left, leading up to the throne.

"It is a pleasure to finally meet you Naruto," the man greeted warmly, "I am Yomi, one of the three leaders of the Clan of the Mazoku. This has been a long time coming. Please have a seat." Naruto took up his offer and sat down on the cushion in front of Yomi.

Now that he was closer, he was able to get a really good look at this, Yomi. He appeared to be a tall man, around 5 ½ feet, somewhere in his mid-thirties, long slicked-back black hair, fair pale skin and strangely enough six horns framing his head, two prominent horns jutting down from his forehead, and two more on both sides of his head.

"I'm sure your wondering about my odd appearance," Yomi deduced, "Many years ago, I lost the use of my eyes in an accident, my appearance helps me compensate for my handicap."

"So you grew horns," the young master stated, "I thought most people got dogs."

"Indeed," Yomi agreed, "Kagura, Ranmaru tells me Naruto past my test. Is this true?"

"It is, Master Naruto displayed strength worthy of his lineage," she reported.

"Excellent, but it appears he didn't come out unscathed," he claimed, "The blade at his side smells of metallic ash, his heartbeat's uneven, and he even appears to be pain." Naruto flinched at the blind man deductions.

"It appears my analysis has made you uncomfortable," he claimed.

"It kind of does," Naruto answered, "I've barely made a sound and you pretty much figured me at first glance, metaphorically speaking."

"I tend to have that effect. Tell me what do you require of the Mazoku. Katakura's letter told us much but, neglected what you wanted personally."

"I need your help to find a friend of mine. She's on a dangerous mission involving a shinobi named Orochimaru," he answered.

"I see your predicament. Orochimaru of the Sannin is dangerous man, finding him will be difficult," the horned man held his chin, "What makes you think she still lives, for all you know she may well be dead already."

"Tayuya's not that stupid," he remarked, "If she thinks she has even a slim chance of completing her objective she'll take every advantage she can to make it happen. She won't be killed easily."

"You and this kunoichi are close?"

"She's my best friend, we've been together since I left Konohagakure," he claimed.

"Can you describe her?"

"Yeah, she just turned 16, about 5"5', long red hair, brown eyes, constant scowl on her face, extremely foul-mouthed and aggressive and she's kinda built like Sue here," he paused and turned to his escort with an analyzing eye, "Except I think her chest is bigger."

"YOU BASTARD," Sue yelled out.

Yomi laughed at her outburst, "I see. She sounds like an admirable young kunoichi. All you require is for us to locate her, you don't won't us to retrieve her as well?"

"No," he smiled, "I can do that myself." Yomi liked the young man's determination and the strong fire radiating from his gaze.

"Very well," the blind man rose from his seat, "You have the full support of the Mazoku, Young Master Naruto, but how do you plan to accomplish this with your blade in such condition." Yomi strolled forward and knelt down to Naruto, unrolling a scroll with a storage seal before him. With a quick hand sign, a long nodachi wrapped in bandages was released.

Naruto slowly reached for blade and as he grabbed hold of the hilt, he felt it shock him. He quickly pulled back and looked at a small burn on his palm, then back to the blade. He reached out again and just as before the blade shocked him, but this time it didn't hurt at all. In fact, he didn't feel a thing. He lifted it up and slowly removed the bandages. He recognized the worn sword immediately.

"This is Kenpachi Zaraki's zanpakutou," he stared astonished at the blade, "Is this a copy?"

"It's genuine, we've kept it preserved for generations," Yomi enlightened, "It will take time to forge a proper blade for you, until then you are more then welcome to use this one."

"Really," he liked the sound of that.

"Come," Yomi rose and helped Naruto rise to his feet, "Shall we test it."

"I'd like that, but can't it wait til the morning," he stood up, "I'm on my last leg here."

"If the blade is unfit for you we'd best know now rather than later," Yomi stated, "We already have a practice field prepared for you."

Yomi left the hall with Naruto and the others following close behind. They walk around back to the base of Zaraki's Pillar. Yomi ran his hand across the massive structure and waved for Naruto to join him.

"Are you aware of how this monument came to be?" Yomi asked.

"Yeah, Kagura filled me in" he stood next to him.

"Excellent," Yomi said, "Thrust the sword into the pillar."

"You want me to deface one of your oldest monuments?" Naruto asked in disbelief.

"We are simply testing the blade. I doubt Lord Kenpachi would mind to much," Yomi claimed.

"Okay then," Naruto took hold of the sword with both hands and raised it over his hand. Yomi and the others took several steps back as Naruto swung down. The blade rammed into the stone and bounced back causing a small shock to vibrate through his hands.

"Don't worry about damaging the blade," the elder informed, "Channel as much basara as you like through the blade."

Naruto followed his suggestion and regained his posture, channeling as much power as he could into the katana. He swung down again and gashed deep into monument, feeling very little resistance he was able to embed the katana hilt down.

"Wow, I barely felt that at all," he commented, "color me impressed." He tried to withdraw the blade, but it wouldn't budge. He looked down at the embed blade and saw it begin to glow. He tried to let go of the blade, but his hand held firm.

"Hey guys a little help here," he struggled, "man down, dragon in distress people!" The members the 3rd Platoon were well aware his dilemma, but Yomi stopped them from assisting him.

"I am sorry," Yomi spoke, "but this is something that must be done for your own good." Before Naruto could figure out what he meant, he felt his remaining strength leave him. His legs buckled and he fell to his knees. His vision blurred, the blade was sapping not only his strength, but his basara as well. He heard the group approach behind him as he inevitably blacked out.

"Good luck," Yomi said.

Back in Oto no Kuni

A small squad of four shinobi, dressed in black and gray camouflage bearing the Otogakure insignia upon their brow, flew silently through the trees of the moonlit forest. They stopped in a small clearing dividing the forest from a rather large lake. The lead shinobi slowly approached the water's edge and cautiously scanned the surrounding area. Not spotting or sensing anything out of the ordinary, he knelt down on one knee and began weaving hand signs.

"Doton: Tsuchi Kairo (Earth Release – Earthen Corridor)," the water began to tremble as a section of the lake bottom began to rise to the surface. The amassed land opened up before the shinobi and morphed into a passageway leading down into the lake. The lead shinobi rose to his feet and signaled the others to follow. Upon entering the threshold, he notice one of his men had their gaze hard fixed on the treeline behind them.

"What is it, do you see something?" the leader asked, bringing everyone to attention.

"No, it's nothing," he paused, "thought I heard something."

They continued into the passage unabated. As the last member past the entrance, the threshold closed up and the earth shrank back down to the lake bottom. Underneath the lake, the makeshift corridor connected into a vast network of underground passages. They continued down passage into a larger open area where another group of shinobi stood guard.

"Squad 2-5 reporting in, nothing unusual," the leader reported. The guard checked his patrol log.

"Your cleared, report to the upper level cells," the guard ordered, "The new coordinators are reviewing the personal." The squad complied and continued on past the guard post into passage leading the upper levels.

'New admins,' thought a certain redhead as she disappeared down another hall away from patrol, "Lucky me."

"Hey did you guys hear something just now?" one of the shinobi asked.

"Your hearing things," the leader spat, "Hurry up."

Tayuya stealthily navigated the passages and bypassed the surprisingly slacked guard details. Guards seemed to be placed sporadically around the facility, close to the central guard posts. The arrival of the new coordinators really worked to her advantage.

She continued to venture deeper and deeper into the base, until she heard voices approaching. Lacking the proper time to place them in under a genjutsu or conceal herself, she quickly transformed into one the male guards she snuck in with just as a group of five scientists in white lab coats rounded the corner ahead of her.

"The research Kabuto provided is astonishing," one of them commented, "we could strengthen the parasite enzyme and manipulate the traits of each subject."

"I've heard there are already prototypes ready for testing," the female scientist spoke.

"If it succeeds the applications are limitless," another commented.

Tayuya listened to them carefully as she walked past them. It seemed that bastard Kabuto developed something that got their panties in a real twist. She would have to find out more about that and given the chance burn all the research. After the scientists finally past her, she decided to make use of them and discreetly pulled out her flute.

"Mateki: Onitojikome (Demonic Flute – Demonic Confinement)," she played. Instantly the scientists stopped in their tracks and their expressions quickly became vacant as Tayuya approached them. They parted from her path and faced her.

"You jagoffs are my puppets. When I say jump, you best damn well do it," they nodded their heads slowly, "Take me to the vault where Orochimaru keeps the scrolls." The puppets complied and began walking back the direction they came. She played her flute once more and the puppets began conversing amongst themselves once more as if nothing ever happened.

"What were we talking about?" the scientist tried to recall.

"Kabuto's research," Tayuya chimed.

"Oh yes," he remembered, "If it succeeds the applications are limitless."

"Do you suppose he requisitioned the Sound Four cadavers for that," Tayuya was surprised to hear that.

"The Sound Four?" Tayuya voiced.

"They were a group of Lord Orochimaru's so-called elite guard sent to acquire Sasuke Uchiha to become his next vessel, but they failed and were eliminated by Konoha and Suna genin," explained the female scientist.

"Disgraceful," another spat, "killed by a squad of genin. Hopefully they're making themselves useful now."

"Where is his research being conducted?" Tayuya gritted her teeth.

"Who knows," she answered, "There's no telling which lab he's using."

"What is the Parasite Enzyme?" the red-head asked.

"The Parasite Enzyme is a prototype delivery system that allows us to deliver the Curse Seal enzyme by injecting it into a single subject, then releasing them into a densely populated area. The enzyme will then mutate into a highly contagious virus. Turning anyone they came into contact with into a curse seal baring soldier, loyal to Lord Orochimaru. After 48 hours, the original subject turns into crystalline glass before disintegrating into dust," she paused

"With Kabuto's research we could increase it's total effectiveness by a factor of 40," another finished.

'That's a big ass problem,' thought Tayuya.

The Upper Cells

In the upper levels of the Pit's holding cells, the vast majority of the base's shinobi were assembled on the arena-like basin looking up to the facility's new coordinators, a hulking man of near six feet and a another smaller man, along with a medical ninja with a clipboard. Each shinobi was examined for anything they did not approve of. There time with the coordinator Guren had help them to learn how to pick out such qualities that could lead to dissension, possible infiltrators and security links. As well as to discern capable leaders ripe for molding. A person's body language often spoke volumes, to the discerning eye, as she often found. As they reviewed each ninja, they had to admit the crop was quite good, less then a handful seemed unworthy of Lord Orochmaru's employ. An hour into the review and the two had taken upon themselves to join the personal for a little one-on-one intimidation. They scanned each face like a piece of meat and were nearly finished, when the larger of the two stopped before one the shinobi who arrived late.

"You," the towering man pointed, "What squad do you belong to?"

"Sir, Squad 2-5, Sir!" he answered fearfully.

"Squad 2-5, step forward," at his command four shinobi separated themselves from the assembly, "Were any of you blessed with one of Lord Orochimaru's Curse Seals." They all denied the honor.

"How many here have a Curse Seal?" he asked the medic.

"Not a one," the medic quickly replied after scanning the papers on his clipboard.

"What's wrong," the smaller coordinator asked.

"These men smell of Lord Orochimaru's Curse Seal," the brutish man told his smaller partner, "and... a woman."

"You believe we have a mouse," the smaller man deduced, "How many kunoichi do you know of have received his blessing."

"Only one comes to mind. Squad 2-5 and 6-3, come with me," the two squads followed behind the bruiser.

"The rest of you return to your station and proceed about your duties. Report any suspicious behavior," the smaller man ordered, "Take me to the Central Control." The medic quickly obeyed and guided him to the control room.

In Central Control, the slender man ordered that all squads, currently not on patrol, to check-in and report to the nearest checkpoint. From there he organized each squad into small units and strategically placed then in several locations around the base, leaving small contingents to act as rapid response teams. Meanwhile, the hulking man ordered Squad 2-5 to backtrack their steps to the moment they first entered the base. Together they quickly retraced back down the winding corridors and passages, until they stopped at an intersection near the checkpoint they first reported to. The brute placed his hand upon the passage wall and breathed in deep.

"This way," he stated, "I found her trail." The man glanced up at the security camera, before continuing down the intruder's trail.

In the control room, the other coordinator saw his partner's gesture, "Examine the footage from camera D-52 and all other cameras the pursuit team pass starting 10 minutes prior to squad 2-5 return." The technicians began working quickly, scrutinizing the footage for any signs of infiltration.

With Tayuya

The scientists did as Tayuya programmed and guided her to a sectioned off area, intend only for researchers. Along the way, they passed other scientists but each time they saw fit to completely ignoring her. She found it strange that none even bothered to look at her, considering this area was only for scientists and researchers. Perhaps they thought she was their latest guinea pig or some such thing along those lines. She began thinking this sort of thing must have been a rather common occurrence. Take a second-rate shinobi promise them power and boom, a willing lab rat. They continued to lead her further down into the base's recesses to a pair of reinforced steel doors with seemingly no way of entering.

"Is this it?" she asked.

"Yes," one of the thralls answered flatly.

"Open it," at her command the the female scientist placed her hand on the left side of the door, revealing a hidden panel. She quickly entered a code with her right hand without removing her left from the panel. After she entered the code, she removed her hands and the doors slowly slid open. Tayuya ordered her puppets to enter first, better safe then sorry.

Once inside she let her disguise fall as she gazed at the isles and walls littered with neatly stacked research logs, files, medical journals, shelves with scrolls of all shapes and sizes, and other parcels containing knowledge no doubt pilfered from all over the continent. She scanned over the vault's contents and quickly found it nearly impossible to locate any of the information she wanted. Luckily, she had group of of well-behaved henchmen to take care of that little obstacle.

"Bring me all the information on the Asagiri Clan," she ordered. At her beckon the group of scientists scattered around the library and began piling documents, research logs, and scrolls at her feet. Slowly the pile grow in size until it started to tower a full head over her person.

"You gotta be shittin' me," she sighed as the scientists continued to bring more and more materials, 'This is ridiculous.'

Thinking of the daunting task of carrying all the material out of the facility undetected she began scouring the vault for a blank scroll, preferably a giant tool summoning scroll or two. She weaved in and out of the isles until, she found a few giant scrolls propped up on the back wall. She unraveled each scroll, avoiding the ones that appeared to have something sealed within them, and found only two that met her needs. Satisfied, she gathered them up and made her way back to the pile and the waiting scientists.

"Is this all of it," she asked rhetorically.

"These are all the copies and materials we have related to the Asagiri Clan," they dryly answered.

"Wait," she paused in her tracks, "did you say copies, as in not the original."

"Yes, the original documents are kept separately in isolated caches," and with that she snapped.

"SON-OF-A-BITCH!," she kicked the pile over angrily, burying the thralls up to their knees, "seal this shit into those scrolls." She throw the blank scrolls roughly at them, not wanting to be bothered with the choir. As she turned to make her way to a dark corner to verbally berate her half-ass information broker, her foot kicked a small bond scroll with the an insignia that resembled the big dipper constellation. She picked it up and unbound the scroll, pocketing the insignia, and glanced over it's contents.

All those who have proven themselves worthy to possess these teaching, do not stray from your path or the heaven's will laugh.

"Kiretsu-on Ken 64th style: Psalms of Century's End," she read aloud. Quickly realizing the scroll she held contained styles and techniques of Kiretsu-on Ken, the very thing she sought. She retreated to her dark corner and began reading the scroll in earnest, committing all she could to memory. Several minutes past and the enthralled scientists approached Tayuya and placed four large scrolls in front of her. Tayuya glanced up at them from behind the scroll, before standing back up to her feet.

"Time to go," she shrugged, "What's the fastest way out of here?"

"The nearest exit is northern gate bypass through the mountain," Tayuya gave them a bored.

"Well, grab a scroll and get a movin'," she barked. The scientists each picked up a scroll and headed towards the door. Tayuya pocketed the scroll she was reading and reapplied her henge before following behind them. As she left the vault and the doors closed behind her, every warning alarm in her head began screaming. Instinctively she ducked down to the floor, narrowly avoiding a barrage of poison-laced senbon, and used her crouched posture to launch herself further down the hall, away from her attackers. She glared down the confined space where five men, four Otogakure shinobi and a silver haired brute, faced her down. Peering down the passage behind her, she spotted another squad with her unwilling guides knocked out on the floor still cradling the giant scrolls in their arms.

"Shit," she cursed as she formulated an escape plan, 'The big guys probably the leader, the squad with him are the dumb schmucks I snuck in with. 9 total. Those mad scientist were going that way, so the exit must be that way. I need slow lardass' group down.'

"I've soon you before," the brute stated, "Are you from Konoha?"

"GO TO HELL!" she quickly pulled a flute from behind her back, "Mateki: Mugen Onsa (Demonic Flute – Chains of Fantasia)." Before any of the shinobi could react the corridor was filled with an alluring melody. The effect was instantaneous and the shinobi began hallucinating.

They each fell to their knees, screaming and shouting as they watched their limbs melt away into a gelatinous mass. The few amongst them rational enough to realize they were trapped in a genjutsu attempted to halt the flow of their chakra, but to their surprise the hallucination held strong.

Tayuya smirked as she watched her genjutsu take root in the shinobi. Her gaze stopped on the one leading the two squads. Something wasn't quite right about him, even under the influence of her genjutsu the man never made a sound and the air around him appeared to be heating up. It was a familiar feeling, a feeling that caused her to hesitate, until she noticed the glowing red markings began to spread around his muscled body. The markings continued to spread until, his body turned pale and his muscles increased in girth. She knew what he was trying to do and there was no way she'd let him finish his transformation to level 2.

"DAIHAKAI-KA! (Great Destructive Song)," she screamed, sending a massive supersonic wave reverberating down the hall. The force of her voice intensified in the the confined halls; demolishing the walls and destabilized the ceiling causing them to collapse on the transforming brute and his men.

As the walls fell, Tayuya raced towards the downed scrolls and gathered them up awkwardly in her arms. She felt the floor under her began to quake. Unsure of how the widespread the damage of her song would cause, she run as fast as she could down the corridor, putting as much distance as possible between her and ground zero. She ran until, she felt the shaking stop and turned to assess the damage. Dust and debris filled the passage obscuring her vision. Not giving it a second thought she proceeded onto the exit.

"I remember you now," called an amalgamized voice behind her, "A redhead kunoichi who uses a flute to cast sound-based genjutsu."

She turned back to meet the source. Gone was the man that once stood before her, in his place a 9 foot tall man-beast with the features of a massive bipedal white saber-toothed tiger. Black stripes wrapped around his porcelain white fur, eyes glowing a blood hued crimson, his feral maw lined with razor sharp incisors evident behind a row of fangs. She had heard rumors of certain shinobi possessing curse marks that transformed the user into animals, but brushed them off as just that, rumors. She never expected anything quite so monstrous, at least with the other curse marks the user still retained a human physique, most times. This transformation must have been painful; elongated arms of lean muscle connecting to brutishly clawed hands and bestial legs. They must have at least doubled his speed, that was the only he could have caught up with her so quickly.

"Member of the former Sound Five, Tayuya of the North Gate," he deduced, "I thought you dead with the rest of your pathetic team, not that I'm complaining. Because of your failure, I gained this magnificent power."

"No problem," she replied, "Now bleed like the giant pussy you are." She quickly took a deep breath, intent on performing an encore for her soon to dying fan. She was hardly able to let out a wail when a clawed hand grasped tightly onto her throat.

"That's enough, Mizuki," the surprise guest demanded, "You know better then to use your full transformation inside this place." Tayuya peered back to the man strangling her. At a glance she saw handsome light-blue haired man with cold eyes matching her stares. She looked down to his arm and noticed it was partially transformed. His arm was colored a shade of blue, slightly lighter then the man's hair and covered in small bumps far to numerous to count.

"Hands off, asshole," she strained her demand.

"This is the intruder?" he questioned, "Who are you?"

"Fuck you and your giant pussy too," his grip tightened around her throat.

"That's Tayuya of the former Sound Five," the tiger man answered, "I'm surprised you don't recognize her, Sabiru. She's the one Guren had it out for."

"I thought you were died. Where have you been hiding?" the blue-haired man inquired.

"With your momma," she snapped back as his grip tightened.

"We will find out everything eventually," he claimed, "but I'm sure Kabuto would want to see you first. He's been very interested in the Sound Five of late."

He clenched tighter and tighter around her throat, threatening to snap her neck, as his claws dug into her skin drawing blood. Tayuya's vision quickly faded and she passed out as another squad arrived behind Sabiru. He tossed her unconscious body to the ground with so much force it slid several feet past the group.

"Take her to one of the cells on the upper level A-37," he ordered, "Take the scrolls to Processing. I want to know what she was after." His arm slowly changed back to normal as he left to inform Kabuto of this development.

"Take them to the infirmary," Mizuki dragged four dirtied scientists from the debris, shocking the shinobi with his transformed state, "There are nine more buried under the rubble. Get a clean-up crew down here, before they start to stink." He made his way passed the group, reveling in the fear plastered on their shrouded faces.

Once the beastly duo left the scene, the guards restrained the former Otogakure elite and dragged her limp body to the upper levels. At the upper level prison block, in an area reserved for the more troublesome captives, they chained her up against the back wall and let her dangle helplessly. They locked the cell door and stood by for further orders.

A few hours past, the new administrators finally arrived just as Orochimaru's right hand man was leaving the neighboring cell.

"Has he become more agreeable?" Sabiru asked.

"He's still resisting," Kabuto wiped his face, "How's our new guest?"

"Sir she woke up while you were with the other prisoner," the guard answered.

Kabuto opened the small view shutter in the door and peered inside at Tayuya's scowling face, somewhat skeptic of her identity.

"Are you certain that's her?" he wondered.

"Positive," Mizuki confirmed, "Open it." The guards quickly complied and opened the cell door. Once inside Kabuto approached the girl and held her head up to get a better look.

"She certainly is convincing looks like her," Kabuto agreed as she tried to his hand.

"Who said you could touch me, Bitchboy," she growled.

"As hot-blooded as I remember," he commented, "Take a blood sample." The administrator's assistant moved to follow his order, but got too careless as they approached her. Tayuya rewarded her thoughtlessness with a skull shattering headbutt. The medic's eyes rolled to the back of her head as she hit the ground, her blood staining the cell floor. The guards rushed over to her.

"She's dead," one of the guards confirmed.

"Take her blood sample," Tayuya smirked, "It's all over the floor."

"You bitch," a guard grabbed his knife.

"Calm down," Sabiru ordered.

"Why so aggressive?" Kabuto asked, "Your among friends."

"Like hell am,"

"Where have you been hiding," he asked, "Were you with the Leaf?"

"Maybe I was, maybe I wasn't. Fuck you and find out," she answered. No way in hell would she say anything about where she really was. If they thought the leaf village gave her asylum, then let him keep thinking that.

"Get someone to take her blood," Sabiru ordered, "If Konoha has anything to due with this we'll find out soon enough." Mizuki gestured for the guards to remove their former assistant from the cell.

"Find out what she knows. I still have to deal with the assignment I've been given," Kabuto called as he turned his back to her. Big mistake. Tayuya took a sharp deep breath and prepared to make him a bloody smear on the wall.

Unfortunately Mizuki saw through her plot and muffled her voice with a large ball gag.

"None of that," the beast-man enabled.

Tayuya felt rather disconcerted at being silenced so indignantly and tried to shot them full of insults, but they came out as a string of comical yet discernible mumbles.

"That's right, you better run," Tayuya mumbled.

"Don't worry, I'll be back soon enough," he reassured her, "Send word to Lord Orochimaru. I'm sure he's been worried sick over your long absence." They left her and closed the heavy door behind them.

"Don't kill her," Kabuto told both Sabiru and Mizuki, "I'll need her alive for my work."

"Sir," they complied as Kabuto left them to their own devices.

"Once we get her sample, start processing her," Sabiru coldly planned, "We have a week to break her before handing her over. Send the specialists to the control room... along with a new assistant."

Sabiru watched as the one of the guards dragged his careless assistant's corpse away as Mizuki opened the view shutter once more.

"See you soon, Red," he taunted.

"Blow me," she snapped back.

Mizuki couldn't help but laughed at her bravado. He always liked the spunky ones, they always put up more of a struggle. With that final taunt, the two left to her to the company of her own thoughts and the cells vermin.

"How do I get outta this one?" she thought aloud.

Unknown Location

Naruto awoke face down in the dirt, his entire body felt as if it had been crushed in a vice then run over by a herd of stampeding horses. By some miracle, he was able to bring himself back to his feet and gazed upon a gigantic castle stronghold. Confusion racked his tired mind. What was he doing here? Where was here? How did he get here? He couldn't remember any of it.

"Only one path lies before you," called out a deep baritone from behind him. He turned to meet the voice, only to be stared down by a behemoth of a man nearly five times his size. His visage giving meaning to the word "power." Ornate black and red plate armor adorning the massive muscled body of a modern-day Goliath, his angry glare froze Naruto in his tracks. The behemoth lashed out his massive hand with incredible speed and gripped Naruto's entire body tightly before raising him to his eye level.

"You will suffer the fate of all who defy me," he spoke, "Your mounted head will serve a proper warning."

'No wonder everything hurts, this guy's crushing me with one hand,' Naruto thought, 'Who the hell is this guy and why does he have it out for me? To hell with this, there's no way I'm letting lard-ass snuff me out.'

Naruto glared back at the behemoth and threaten back, "If you want my head, you gotta work for it."

"FOOL!" the behemoth howled as he throw Naruto through the castle's three outer walls. After colliding with the third wall, his momentum dampened and he rolled painfully along the ground as he came to a stop. Knowing full well that throw should have killed, he wondered if it was worth standing, but he stubbornly put those thoughts behind him and rose to his feet again as the behemoth drew closer.

"If you would howl, have the strength to match it," he draw his mighty fist back and prepared crush the insubordinate boy. As his fist bored down on Naruto, every rational thought told him to evade, this man was not to be crossed, he is far more powerful then you can ever hope to be.

"SCREW YOU!" a sword materialized in Naruto's hand and he parried the blow just as it was about to make contact, "It'll take more then your sorry-ass fist to take me down." The rage in the behemoth's eyes multiplied tenfold.

"Can you not see, you walk the path of ruin," the behemoth didn't give Naruto a moment and launched a flurry of punches the boy had no chance of guarding against. As each blow landed firmly home, one thought keep repeating itself in the young dragon's exhausted mind.

'I can't let him win. I can't let him win. I can't let him win.'

Uncaring of the thoughts racing through the boy, the behemoth continued to pummel him relentlessly, before savagely kicking him in the torso, sending the boy skyward. The behemoth watched him soar before launching himself into the air after him. When Naruto reach the apex of his ascent, the behemoth appeared next to him and hammered the boy back down to earth.

Naruto impacted the ground like a meteorite, creating a large crater in his wake. Naruto struggled to his knees, when the behemoth landed squarely on top of him. His massive boots ground Naruto back down under his weight.

"So your true nature is finally revealed," he spoke, "A pathetic snake crushed underfoot." The behemoth continued to drive his boot into Naruto, when he heard the hurried steps of soldiers taking position behind him. He turned and made his way out of the crater to address the misguided souls.

"Lay down your arms," he called, "I am Toyotomi Hideyoshi, swear fealty to me now and become one under my command. Those who defy me shall be given no quarter."

He look on at the battalion of men in blue and gray armor bearing the seal of the Kiba no Kuni, waiting for an answer.

From their ranks a red-haired woman, "You want an answer?"

Naruto instantly recognized that voice and began crawling out of the crater to get a better look.

"SMOKE THE FUCKER!," she ordered. The soldier quickly trained their spears and arrows and fired a volley upon the monster of a man.

The behemoth stood undaunted before the volley and cross his right arm over his body. As the volley closed in, he swung his mighty arm, "I HAVE NO USE THE LIKES OF YOU." His swing dashed and repelled the projectiles back at the battalion.

Naruto managed to crawl his way out of the crater, just in time to witness all his friends fall prey to their own barrage. Amidst the carnage stood his best friend, the woman who he had been by his side for as long as he cared to remember. She looked to him with her usual cocky grin just as the remaining volley skewered her to death.

He couldn't believe what he had just seen. This had to be a bad dream, this couldn't be happening.

She... she dead.

"Are you now aware of what you lack, snake," Toyotomi called to him.

"YOU BASTARD!" Naruto jumped to feet and lashed out at him.

The behemoth blocked the boy's staggered attack easily and punched him clear over the crater into the side of the castle.

"You suffer a malady of weakness. Only the strong have any right to survive and I the strongest there is," with mighty roar the sky was darkened and ominous storm clouds gathered and thundered.

Naruto watched his grand display, but somehow it didn't quite compute. He was to preoccupied with his thoughts, 'They all dead. They all dead... and it's my fault.'

"Even so, are you just gonna lie down and take this?" asked voice from the back of his mind, "Is that all your worth? Is this all they were worth?"

"No," he answered, "I can't let him win." Naruto pried himself from the castle wall and fell to his feet. Clear rage and determination boiling in his eye.

The behemoth watched as Naruto strode boldly before him, sword in hand poised to strike.

"It's seems you still don't understand your limits, when facing a superior power," Toyotomi condemned.

"Shut up," Naruto spoke, "What I lack? My limits. You keep spouting this crap like you know me."

"Again you howl rather then strike," the Goliath clenched his massive fists tighter, "You still have yet to learn your lesson..."

"DON'T LABEL ME, YOU SON-OF-A-BITCH," Naruto shouted, "You can't stop. NOTHING CAN STOP ME!"

The behemoth bashed him back into the side of the castle and followed up with a devastating haymaker, demolishing the castle on top of Naruto.

"Lament you misgivings in the next life, snake," he recited as he left the boy to rot in the rubble. As he retreated from the battlefield, a bright blue light shined forth from the rubble. Toyotomi turned back to the wreckage, the look in his eyes growing ever the more fierce, as several bolts of lightning exploded from beneath it. Toyotomi shielded his eyes to the light and when it faded he was once again faced with the object of his ire.

"Dammit, why will you not die!" he shouted.

"A few love taps and a bunch of rocks ain't enough to put me down," Naruto felt rejuvenated, "Didn't you hear me before? Nothing can stop me, especially you." His body constantly discharged sparks of energy and the fatigue and injuries plaguing him seem nonexistent.

"Insolent whelp," the behemoth called, "This power wasn't meant for one such as you."

"What do you care?" he answered,"Don't think I'm gonna let what you did to my friends slide. You'll pay for every last drip of their blood, you bastard."

"Mere flies circling refuse, a quick death is far to sympathetic a fate for there kind," he mocked, "Had you known your limits and not challenged me, they wouldn't have had to suffer my wrath."

"That crap's got old awhile ago," Naruto claimed, "Monkey-boy."

"WHAT!"

"I am Uzumaki Naruto, the One-Eyed Dragon, and I have NO LIMITS." he proclaimed as he freed his sword from the earth and released a massive bolt of energy directly into the stormy sky scattering the ominous clouds. As he continued to release his power, kanji appeared and engraved itself onto the blade.

Bonten Will Become the One-Eyed Dragon Devouring the Heavens

"And what would do with it. No aspirations beyond saving your own pathetic life, squandering the power you've been given on frivolous endeavors," the behemoth judged.

"What I decide to do with it is my own damn business," Naruto answered, "I know what I have to protect and anyone who stands in my way can kiss my ass."

"SHORTSIGHTED FOOL, I REFUSE TO RECOGNIZE ONE SUCH AS YOU," he roared.

"Final Round," Naruto declared as his basara flared once more and cloaked his entire body as he charged the behemoth.

The behemoth wound his entire body to deliver the perfect crushing blow. When Naruto came into range, Toyotomi's fist accelerated with inhuman force and bored down onto it's target. Naruto watched the massive fist come down upon him and quickly parried the blow, driving fist into the ground with a massive quake. Taking advantage of his weakened position, Naruto jumped up onto the behemoth's arm and flipped into his blind spot behind him. Realizing his mistake, the behemoth turned meet the boy, but it was already too late. Naruto was overflowing with power and poised to pierce through his armor.

"DIE!" Naruto shouted as he smashed through the behemoth's armor and pierced his heart, before blasting him with a lightning charged blast of basara, killing him instantly and cooking his massive frame from the inside out.

"Nothing can stop," he breathed victoriously, before collapsing from exhaustion.

"You laid it on a little thick, but overall not bad," came a voice as Naruto was engulfed by a blinding white light, "Congrats kid you past this trial."

"Trial?" Naruto wondered, "This was a test?"

"Yep, one down five to go," the voice informed, "and the others won't be as nice as me though. I'm routing for ya. Just keep it cool and you'll be fine."

"Dropping a castle on me was playing nice," he remarked as the light began to fade away.

"Quite bitchin', I went through the same thing, back in the day,"

"More of these tests are gonna kill me," the boy complained.

"Then get stronger so that doesn't happen," said the voice as a matter-of-fact, "Okay time for you wake up. Next time your here, drop me a line. See you around kid."

Sometime Later...

Naruto slowly opened his eyes to to bright, warm sun on his face and possibly the softest bed in the world. He rolled to the edge and stumbled to his feet. His balance was slightly off and he was uncomfortably stiff. He twisted and stretched the kinks out of his system and failed to notice the door open.

"Excuse me, Master Naruto," called a timid maid as she averted her gaze, "I'll tell Lord Yomi you've awakened." She quickly left the room, her face bright red.

"What's her deal," he wondered as a surprisingly cool breeze moved through the room, "Oh crap." He looked down, realizing he was naked as the day he was born. His scarred form on display for the world to see. He looked around the room for anything to cover his shame, but before he could find anything a knock came from the door.

"Excuse me, Young Master," he heard someone call. He dashed back to the bed and covered himself beneath the blankets just as the door was pushed open.

"Your finally awake, I didn't know what to think when I saw that maid leave in such a hurry," said the butler as he placed some clothes on the bed, "She dropped these in the hall."

"Those aren't my clothes," he said.

"Your belongings bare the the insignia of the Katakura Clan. Master Yomi had them laundered and put away," he answered, "They will be returned when you leave the city."

"City?" Naruto asked surprised. The butler moved over to balcony windows and pushed them open.

"You been asleep for the past eight days," the butler informed.

"EIGHT DAYS?!" Naruto stammered as he quickly dressed himself under the blanket, "I was sleeping for eight days." He jumped out of bed, now fully clothed and joined the butler on the balcony.

"Allow me to be the first," the butler bowed, "Welcome to the Floating City, Zuellni."

Naruto was welcomed to an astonishing view of a massive modern city of stretching out before him for miles, surrounded on sides by the vast blue ocean.

Harute's Corner

Magen: Kyozo (Demonic Illusion – Mirror Image)

Rank: B

Classification: Genjutsu, Chakra Absorption

Class: Supplementary

Range: Medium

This genjutsu allows the user to spawn a mirrored duplicate of the target and trick them into attacking it, thereby draining the target of their chakra to be used against them.

Ninpou: Doshaburi (Ninja Art – Cloudburst)

Rank: A

Classification: Ninjutsu

Class: Offensive

Range: Long

The fires an arrow into the sky above the target and clones it into a volley to rain down onto the target.

Suiton: Suishobakuheki (Water Release – Water Restraining Wall)

Rank: D

Classification: Ninjutsu

Class: Supplementary

Range: Short

The surround the user with a wall of corrosive rushing water, leaving only the area above as a venue for escape. The technique is typically used to set up traps and higher level techniques.

Mugetsu Style: Yasha Senku (Empty Flash)

Rank: A

Classification: Kenjutsu, Ninjutsu

Class: Offensive

Range: Variable

This technique allow its user the ability to cut whatever they attack without physically touching it with the blade.

War Dance

Rank: A

Classification: Kenjutsu, Kekkai Genkai

Class: Offensive

Range: Medium

Naruto charges a burst of basara into his blade and launches it along the ground in a concentrated stream. The compressed nature of the attack enables it to easily pierce through most defenses and less concentrated attacks. The technique puts incredible stress on, and often destroy, normal katana.

Mugetsu Style: Karura-en (Garuda Flame)

Rank: A

Classification: Kenjutsu, Ninjutsu

Class: Offensive

Range: Variable

The user creates sparks with the katana, combining it with the kinetic force of their rotation and fire chakra chakra nature to create and torrent of flames with the same properties as the Yasha Senku.

Mateki: Onitojikome (Demonic Flute – Demonic Confinement)

Rank: B

Classification: Genjutsu

Class: Supplementary

Range: Medium

This techinque, utilizing the proper musical instrument, allows the user to to remotely send signals into the targets brain producing an effect similar to hypnosis. If the proper sequence is performed it could enthrall multiple targets to the user's will for a limited period of time.

Author's Notes

I want to apologize for the absurdly long delay for Dragon of the Spiral's newest chapter. I won't try make excuses. Life just enjoys beating the crap outta ya every now and again.

This chapter has a lot of references to some of my favorite anime and manga. I also changed a few things from my original outline. Originally Naruto was to venture to shrine managed by a clan of recluse shinobi, led by a OC named Tenzen. Pretty original huh. I scrapped the hell outta that idea re-did that portion. I really like how it turned out. I'm sure a lot of you guessed the identity of Naruto's other ancestor, not Zaraki, as well as Tayuya's.

Now that Naruto's first real trial is out of the way, things will start getting a lot more interesting. Last chapter I said I was going to introduce a member of Naruto's Lightning Road, but I decided against that when I scrapped the original outline, instead I will reveal two members in the next chapter.

On a side note, I started a poll while back for a fanfic I'm concepting called Shadow Rising. It's harem story featuring 6 kunoichi and our hero Naruto. For that story I don't want to decide the girls in his harem myself, I want to leave that up to you readers.

As a thanks everyone who stuck with me, I'm releasing the long awaited adopted work of Dthegrimm's Rise of the JiangShi, Old Order.

Let me know what you thank.