BIG NEWS!

As of a few weeks ago, I finally managed to finish writing my first original novel! Currently, I am looking into getting it professionally copy and line edited by someone. After that I plan on Self-Publishing my novel using Print on Demand, or POV for short. I am hoping that my book will be available on Amazon and other websites before my birthday in March. And I hope you will all support me by ordering a book and letting me know what you think when it does come out.

For those who are curious to know what my novel is about, here is the summary for my hopefully soon to be published novel, American Kitsune, A Fox's Love:

Kevin Swift finds his entire world turned on its head when the gorgeous vixen, Lilian Pnév̱m, decides that he is the perfect mate for her.

Yesterday, the only thing Kevin had to worry about was turning his next homework assignment in on time and gathering what meager courage he has to ask his secret crush, Lindsay Diane, out on a date. All of that changes when he finds a small, injured fox with two tails and decides to take it home with him. Turns out that small fox is not a fox at all, but a Kitsune, a supernatural creature found in Japanese Mythology and Folklore that can shape-shift from a fox into a drop dead gorgeous red head that defines the term smokin' hot. Want to know what's even more interesting? This Kitsune has fallen head over heels in love with Kevin and is willing to do anything to make him love her back. Too bad our Hapless Hero has a serious case of Cannot Talk to Women.

Sounds interesting, right? I hope you guys will enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it when it comes out.

And now that I have thoroughly bored you to tears with my ecstatic ranting, I will let you do what you came here to do and read the next chapter of Story of the Ten Tailed Wolf.

Enjoy.

Chapter 25: The Beautiful, the Bad, the God Damn Hideous


Guren's lip curled in distaste as she walked down the dark, dank hallway to the central laboratory where the person she was searching for would most likely be found. She never did like these darkened corridors. They simply weren't fit for someone as beautiful as her. This particular corridor was even worse because it was dripping wet and smelled of raw fish.

She hated the smell of raw fish. Or raw anything for that matter.

Upon reaching the end of the corridor, Guren was met with a large door, which she opened upon reaching. On the other side of the door was a large room lined with glass containers and test tubes that were full of odd looking creatures, most of which were dead, with only a few that still had life in them.

Guren walked right passed the containers without even bothering to look at their contents. She was more then used to seeing some of Orochimaru's experiments, and the sight did not bother her.

Standing near a terminal that was situated in front of one of the containers that contained a particularly lively specimen was the person she was searching for. He looked like he was cataloging data or doing something else that involved his research.

Guren did not care for any of that. She had no interest in research.

"Amachi," Guren said, causing the man to turn around.

"Ah, Guren," Amachi smiled amicably, though, Guren could tell it was fake. "Back from your hunt? Have you taken care of our pest problem?"

"Unfortunately, they were stronger then expected and managed to catch me off guard," Guren replied with a bit of a scowl. She hated admitting to any kind of failure or weakness, even if it was to someone who was far inferior to her. "But I wouldn't worry too much. Now that I know what they are capable of, I'll be able to handle them much more easily when we fight again."

"That's good to know," Amachi said breezily, as if he did not really care what Guren said. It was an action that caused the woman standing before him to scowl. "Let me know if you need any help. While I have yet to actually complete my research, I have managed to create several creatures that should prove useful as aquatic canon fodder."

Guren was about to reject the man's offer out of hand when she paused.

"I believe I may have some use for these creations of yours," she said after several seconds of silent contemplation.

"I am glad to see my creations can be of some use."

Amachi gave Guren a pleased smile that had a hint of... something Guren couldn't quite identify. She did not like that look, but as he was not doing anything that would be considered treason against Orochimaru, she did not say anything.

"Come, let me show you some of my creations."


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


After the battle against the crystal user, Anko and Haku made their way to Mother Island.

Because their skiff had been destroyed, they'd been forced to water walk the rest of the way. It had been trying, to say the least. Anko had decently large reserves that were a bit above the average Jonin and Haku was around the level of a Chunin. Neither of them were chakra monsters. Certainly, they had nowhere near the amount of chakra Naruto and Akane had. By the time they had arrived at the shore, Haku's chakra was nearly depleted and Anko was starting to feel a bit tired as well.

"What should we... do now?" asked Haku, breathing heavily. The walk had taken its toll on him, and the ice user was about ready to pass out right then and there. Only his experience with similar situations due to his being on the run from hunter ninja for several years kept him from falling asleep in the middle of the port.

And speaking of the port, Haku took a moment to glance around at the place they had arrived at. It was very empty. Save for a few boats and vessels stationed there, the place was bereft of anything resembling life.

This was not surprising. With it being so late out, everyone was likely already asleep.

"We need to find a place to stay for the night," Anko answered. As she said this, she began walking into the port town. Haku did not hesitate to follow the woman as she continued speaking. "Our meeting with the shipping company is tomorrow, so we'll want to be well-rested for that. Thankfully, it's not until noon, so we should be able to get a full eight hours of sleep before we have to meet with them."

"What about Naruto-san and Akane-san?"

"Those two will be fine," Anko spoke with complete surety. "I can't see either of them being killed by a couple of two-bit demons. Can you?"

Haku paused for a moment, thinking. A second later he shook his head.

"No, those two are the strongest people I've ever met. I doubt anything short of the world ending would be enough to put them down."


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


It was still dark when Naruto and Akane arrived on Mother Island. The sun had been down for several hours now, making the duo suspect it was actually very early in the morning.

The streets were completely empty. There was not a soul in sight as the two walked down the road. Though, given the hour, this was kind of understandable. Who would be up this late anyways except for party goers looking to get drunk? No one, that's who.

"I'm sure that Anko and Haku are already here," Naruto said, turning his head this way and that as he spoke, surveying their new surroundings. The place really wasn't all that different from any other port town they had visited, or any other town for that matter. "We should probably find them."

"I agree," Akane nodded at his words, emphasizing her agreement with his basic plan of action. "Though, they are more then likely asleep." Which would make sense, since it was so late out and everything. "Still, it shouldn't take me too long to find them."

"No need," Naruto sniffed the air a couple of times, a smile creeping on his face. He nodded to himself, once, then looked at his mate and grinned. "I've already found them."

With a smile that matched his, Akane kicked her feet off the ground. She followed Naruto, her form a mere blur to the world around them, as he made his way towards where he scented Anko and Haku.

It didn't take Akane long before she also began to smell the pair in the air. They both had very distinctive scents. Anko smelled of Dango, red bean paste and snakes; and Haku smelled like senbon, oil and exotic herbs. Very few beings in this world would have a scent even remotely similar to theirs.

The pair found Anko and Haku on the second floor of a small inn. The rooms only had a single bed, which Anko was sleeping on. Their ice using friend was sleeping on the floor in a fuuton.

The two immortal beings looked at each other and smiled.

It was a very mischievous smile.

Poor, poor Anko.


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


As night turned into day, a number of people began to rouse from their slumber. These people were those who needed to get an early start on their day if they wanted their businesses to be ready in time for the morning rush. Bakers, shop owners, stall owners, all the people who sold some kind of product or service had gotten up bright and early, just as the sun began to rise, in order to prepare their shop, store or stall for the new day.

One particular stall owner was setting up his own stand near a random hotel. He was an old man, with a slouched back due to years of bad posture and age, and a lot of wrinkles lining his face and bald head. His clothing was about what you would expect from an old man, plain gray pants, white shirt and a red vest over it. Truly, there was nothing remarkable about this man.

As the old man set up his small stall, which sold Taiyaki, he hummed a small tune to himself. It was a simple tune, one that he had known ever since his childhood. His mother used to sing it to him back when he was nothing more then a child, and it was one he had sung to his own children and their grandchildren.

You could say this song had been in his family for a long time.

It was while he was humming this song that his daily routine was interrupted.

"KKKYYYAAAAAA!"

A loud scream pierced the morning air. The shrill, whistle like shriek was loud enough and sharp enough that several windows to the hotel his stall was in front of shattered like, well, glass. Even a few of the windows that belonged to the buildings on either side of the hotel shattered, raining glass fragments upon the ground below.

Despite being old, the man who suddenly found mass amounts of sharp, deadly projectiles raining down on him was startlingly quick to react. Like a frightened animal that just heard the 'bang!' of a gun going off, he dove underneath the table.

Huddling up, he wrapped his arms around his legs and pulled his knees to his chest as the 'tink, tink, tink, tink' sound of a thousand shards of glass raining down on his stand echoed within the small space underneath.

When the sounds of glass clattering against the wood of his stall ended, the old man stayed underneath, waiting. He waited for several more seconds before poking his head out to look around. His old, wizened eyes surveyed the area, looking left, then right, up and then down. When he saw nothing more then the wood of his stall, the wall of the hotel and the broken glass that now littered the street, he carefully stepped out from underneath his stall.

Just as he was about to restart setting up his stall, the old man saw something that made him stop everything.

Looking down at the wooden grain of his stall, the old man could see what had to be at least several hundred glass shards embedded into the wood. Like tiny claws belonging to the minions of hell trying to claw their way to the surface world, these glass shards looked like sharp, pointed nails jutting from the wooden board.

The old man scratched the back of his head and sighed.

"This is going to take a while to clear away..."


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


Akane, Anko, Haku and Naruto found themselves walking down the street, all of them looking to be in a variety of different moods.

The two immortal entities were grinning from ear to ear with an expression that let anyone within walking distance see how pleased they were with themselves.

Of course, if you were to ask either one of them, they would gladly tell you they had every right to be pleased.

On the other hand, Haku was looking quite exasperated, messaging his forehead as if to try and stall a coming headache. And at the other end of the spectrum was Anko, whose face was so red it could be mistaken for a hot forge. There was also an angry scowl on her lips to go along with her atomically flushed cheeks.

"Aw, come on, sensei," Naruto said, grinning when he saw Anko visibly shudder as he emphasized the word 'sensei'. "It was just a little harmless fun... and besides, you really should be used to us sneaking into your bed by now."

"I don't see why you would have a problem with it anyways," Akane giggled like some kind of school girl. It was very uncharacteristic of her, but she was having so much fun at the moment that the OCness was perfectly understandable. "I mean, you have the hottest stud this side of the Elemental Nations and the most desirable woman on the planet in your bed. What right do you have to complain?"

"Stow it! Both of you!"

At hearing Anko's angry answer, the two grinned at each other before proceeding to snicker into their hands. Of course, the way they did so ensured that Anko could hear them, thus increasing the amount of red currently present on the face of the woman with dark purple hair.

Haku just sighed deeply as he watched and listened to the antics of his teammates.

"I wonder if it's too late to ask Hokage-Sama if I can transfer teams..."

The four shinobi were currently walking down the now bustling roadway of the port town on Mother Island. With the sun now shining down on the little city, the people had finally decided to get up and begin their day. There were people crowding the streets, shopping at various stalls and stores, and eating out at open air cafes as they laughed and conversed with friends and family. Several children could be seen running through the street, playing a game of tag most likely, weaving between the legs of people much taller then they were.

It was this crowd that the group of ninja waded through as they made their way inexorably to their destination.

Said destination was a large building that was designed in the traditional architecture most often found in the Elemental Nations. Unlike the more modern buildings, which were actually a more recent development that had caught on around a century ago when outsiders first set foot onto this land, the traditional buildings were built more along the lines of what you would expect from some of the more rural areas of the continent.

The group made their way up the steps, towards the large set of wooden double doors. As the one in charge, Anko was in the lead. The moment they reached the door, she knocked on it exactly three times, the banging of which could be heard echoing inside of the building.

A few seconds later the door was opened and a young man stood on the other side.

"Can I help you four?" he asked.

"We're the shinobi your company hired for the protection detail," Anko informed the man, who couldn't be older then 18 or so. As she said this, she also held out a small scroll that contained the details of their mission, along with the official seal of Konoha and the signature of both the Hokage and the man who had asked for the mission.

The young man unrolled the scroll and read through it. Nodding to himself, he then rolled the scroll back up and handed it back to Anko.

"Everything seems to check out. Please, come inside and I will show you to the ships financial administrator."

The group walked inside and followed the young man. As they moved through the small, narrow hallway, they took note of how the decore on the inside matched the architectural style on the outside exactly. It was all very traditional; tatami flooring, paper walls and sliding shoji doors. Their sandaled feet clacked excessively against the floor, creating a staccato symphony as they were led to one sliding door in particular.

Kneeling down, the young man opened the door a crack and poked his head inside. "The group from Konoha is here to see you," he announced to whoever was inside. While Anko and Haku were unable to hear the answer, Akane's and Naruto's sense of hearing was more then acute enough to pick up someone from inside the room granting permission for them to enter. They were therefore unsurprised when the young man fully opened the door and looked up at them.

"You may go in now."

Walking into the room, the four Konoha shinobi studied the interior, which was just a standard meeting room that most business transactions of this nature took place in. Really, the only thing interesting about the room wasn't even the room itself, but the samurai standing guard along the far wall and the man sitting in seiza behind a low-rising wooden table.

"You must be the Konoha shinobi," the man said by way of greeting. "I am pleased to see you all made it here safe and sound. Please, take a seat and we can get down to business."

While Anko moved forward to sit right in front of the table, Akane, Haku and Naruto took their seats behind her, as dictated by protocol.

Sometimes, being listed as a genin in the Konoha ranking books really sucked.

While they made themselves comfortable, the whiskered member of their group took this time to study the man who had hired them for this mission. He was fairly old, Naruto judged him to be passed his middle ages, likely somewhere around 50 or maybe 60. He was bald on top, but had graying hair wrapped around the lower half of his head that extended into a large beard that covered much of his face. Dark eyes were set on either side of a large nose and a pretty big pair of lips was situated underneath the man's impressively sized snoz.

"I am the ships financial administrator. My name is Hitodei," the man introduced himself with a small bow of the head, an action that was reciprocated by Anko.

"Well met. I'm Mitirashi Anko. With me are my genin squad, Uzumaki Naruto, Uzumaki Akane and Yūki Haku. We're here on behalf of Konoha, who you requested aid in protecting your ship and its cargo while en route to Mizu no Kuni."

"That is correct, and I am pleased to see Konoha respond so quickly. As you might know, our relationship with Mizu no Kuno is very fragile right now, due in part to the Kaima's attacks on Mizu no Kuni ships. In order to try and foster good relations, and hopefully avoid any further complications, the decision was made to push our departure forward. It is very fortunate that you arrived when you did."

"I see," Anko murmured thoughtfully. She took a few seconds to pause and think, before nodding her head. "Do not worry. Even with the change in timetables, our missions parameters remain the same; protect your ship, its crew and cargo at all costs."

"Thank you for your cooperation." The man's relief was visible as he let out a deep gust of air. "There is one more thing I would like to inform you about."

Anko looked curiously at the man. "Yes?"

"As you have no doubt seen for yourself, our nation is not a wealthy one. And recently our people, our fishermen especially, have become extremely nervous about this Kaima." Once more, the man bowed before Anko. It was not quite Dogeza, but was definitely more respectful then what most people would give to a shinobi who was not a kage. "Anything you can do about this monster would be greatly appreciated."

Anko looked at the man for several moments, contemplating his request.

Behind her, Naruto and Akane looked at each other, then over at Haku, who had been very silent since they had entered the building.

"Don't worry," Anko said at last. "We'll do everything we can to eliminate this threat before your ship sets sail."

Once more, the old financial administrator bowed low. "We are very grateful to you."


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


After the meeting with the financial administrator was finished, the group of Konoha ninja made their way outside again. With the sun now bearing down on their heads from over high, signifying it was nearing mid-day, the two shinobi plus one Hanyou plus one immortal demigodess Youkai walked along the road.

It was while they were walking that the group made their plans for the coming days. They had four days before the ship left port, which was about a week ahead of schedule, but not something they were overly concerned with. Leaving early just meant spending less time in this small town.

The real question was about what they should do in the meantime.

Thankfully, they already had a task they needed to complete in the coming days set. All they needed to do was complete it.

"We should start digging up clues on possible whereabouts of the Kaima by asking the locals," Anko was saying as they wove through the crowds of people. "We may be able to discover some interesting information if we asked some of the local fishermen, since they're the ones the Kaima rumors originated from."

"Sounds like a plan to me." Naruto grinned placed his hands behind his head, fingers laced and being used to support his cranium as he leaned back slightly and looked up at the sky. "Though, I'm not really one for digging around for rumors. Never liked sleuthing about. I'm more of a straight fighter kind of guy. Launch me at an enemy and watch me kick ass! That's what I like to do. Snooping around for clues is boring."

"Yeah, well, get used to it," Anko said, snorting at the boy. "Digging up rumors and sifting through everything you've learned in order to find the truth is what being a shinobi is all about. We're experts on stealth, espionage and information gathering; though, a lot of people seem to have forgotten our roots these days. Most new ninja only see shinobi as people who can breath fireballs and control the elements." She shook her head in disappointment. "Bunch of rank amateurs."

"You're a lot closer to the truth then you might expect, Anko." As the voice of the oldest among them spoke up, two sets of heads turned to look at Akane. "You ninja didn't always have chakra, not until the Rikudou Sennin came along. Before that, ninja had to rely on their wits and their talents in stealth to get by. Back during that time, shinobi were in small supply, only the best of the best, the most elite, made anything of themselves. The rest were killed off because they weren't good enough. It was much tougher back then."

"I'll bet," Anko looked at the other woman curiously. "You know, I keep forgetting that you're not just a normal shinobi and have been around for a long time. You probably have a lot of knowledge locked away inside that head of yours. I bet you've got a lot of stories to tell."

"I have many tales that I could weave. You could listen to me for years and never hear about half the things I've done and seen in my life."

As Anko began conversing a bit more with the red head, Naruto turned to look at the last of their companions.

Haku was staring off into space, a pensive expression on his face as he worried his lower lip. It made the boy look very, well, girly, but Naruto just assumed that was mostly due to his androgynous looks.

Nudging the ice using ninja in the shoulder, the blond-haired Ookami Hanyou broke the other boy's concentration and caused his head to pan over and look at him.

"You've been awfully quiet," Naruto observed. "Got something on your mind?"

Haku shook his head. "Not really. I was just thinking about something."

"Hmm..."


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


Having a plan of action and knowing what they needed to do did not make actually 'doing it' any easier, especially when people seemed to be deliberately impeding their progress.

The group of four had set off in search of any fisherman that may have some knowledge about the Kaima, the so called Demon of the Sea. Unfortunately, none of the people they spoke to actually seemed to know much, if anything, about the creature itself. It seemed that none of them had ever seen this Kaima before; all they had were half-baked rumors and old legends that had been passed down for a while, nothing conclusive.

At least, that was what they got from those who were willing to speak with them on the subject. Not everyone they spoke to was actually willing to answer their questions. A few of the people they ran into were even quite rude.

Apparently, the locals did not like the idea of outsiders getting involved in their affairs. They had been pretty belligerent to the foursome even after the group had explained that they were shinobi hired to take care of the Kaima for them.

You'd think these people would want their help, right? But no, they'd much rather suffer in silence and stupidity then let 'outsiders' aid them in their time of need. Idiots.

"You came to do what!?"

Of course, just because most people refused to answer their questions did not mean everyone they ran into was like that. There were some people who were willing to talk.

One woman in particular, whose desire to see someone get rid of the Kaima overpowered her natural distrust of outsiders, was more then willing to share what she knew once they had informed her of their purpose.

"Very well, I'll tell you what I know." The woman crossed her arms under her bust, her expression somewhat pensive as she began to weave her story of woe. "For as long as I've known, generations of fishermen have told the legend of Demon Island. This legend warns against even going near the place called the island of demons." She paused, her mind gathering all the information she had that she could present to the shinobi. "From the beginning, the waters off Demon Island were always rich in fish, but the hidden reefs there made it too dangerous for boats. Most people heeded these legends and stayed away."

"But not you, right?" said Naruto, taking a guess at where she was going with her story. The woman looked at him, then nodded her head.

"It was about ten years ago when it happened. During one unusually cool summer, all of the fish disappeared from the sea. We had no choice, so my husband and I ventured into the treacherous waters. We caught many fish, but when I returned to the surface with our haul, I was stunned to sea the boat completely empty. My husband was nowhere to be seen."

The woman closed her eyes, a look of longing crossing her face as she remembered the day she lost her husband.

Glancing at each other, three of the four Konoha ninja could not help but feel compassion towards this woman. Only Akane did not give the simple fisherwoman a pitying look. She was far too inured to death, destruction and the killing of innocents due to all the things she had seen in her long life to be affected by a story like this.

Opening her eyes once more, the woman continued where she left off. "Since then, one by one, everyone who has dared to approach that island has disappeared. Even those who go to search for the people who went missing. Now no one goes to that island, for fear that they too will be taken away."

The three shinobi plus one immortal Youkai looked at each other, all of them thinking the same thing.

Haku turned back to look at the woman who had just given them a good deal of prime information. "I heard something about a girl who had managed to return after being taken away," he said, causing the woman to flinch.

"Oh, yes, Isaribi." From the way she spoke, it was clear the woman did not like the young girl, or perhaps she was just wary of her. It all amounted to the same thing anyways. This woman was afraid of going near Isaribi due to her unfortunate circumstances.

"If it wouldn't be too much trouble, do you think you could tell me where Isaribi-san lives?" asked Haku. He gave the woman a very formal bow upon making his request.

Naruto looked from Haku to Akane. Grinning slyly, he leaned over to his mate so he could whisper in her ear. "I think someone's got a crush."

Akane giggled quietly, but shushed him in favor of listening to the conversation between Haku and the woman. While seemingly wary of the girl, she was still willing to inform the ice user where the young female lived.

Meanwhile, Anko was frowning as she stared at Demon Island, whose craggy peaks and desolate appearance could be seen in the distance.

They spoke with the woman a bit more, asking for specifics on what she knew about the disappearances and her own experience at Demon Island. In turn, the woman told them where she had been diving when her husband disappeared. After learning everything they could, the four Konoha Shinobi left.

The group walked along the boardwalk, making their way back to the inn they were staying at. The beach and ocean was on their left. The sounds of the waves lapping at the shore and the seagulls soaring overhead accompanied their short journey.

While they were walking, Anko told them all what their next plan of action was to be. "We now know that whoever is kidnapping these people is likely based on Demon Island."

"We don't know that for sure," Akane corrected the woman. "The one responsible for these kidnappings could just be taking people when they go to Demon Island to throw us off their trail. For all we know, they could be living right here on Mother Island and are simply using the Legend of Demon Island to keep people from digging any deeper."

"True," Anko conceded. "But this is the best lead we currently have." Akane had to concede to that, which she did so with a nod. "So, I think our course of action is clear. We'll ask around a bit more to see if anyone else has a differing opinion to offer, then head over to Demon Island tomorrow morning. We have four days before the ship we'll be guarding sets sail, so let's make this time count."

Akane and Naruto were both in agreement with this course of action. Neither really had anything to add, and they honestly didn't care all that much. It wasn't like anything they were likely to face could kill them. There were very few humans that could stand up to Naruto, and Akane, even when weakened, was more then a match for any human currently living. Her experience made her one of the most formidable opponents in the entire Elemental Nations.

Only Haku felt the need to disagree with Anko.

"Actually, Anko-sensei, I was hoping that I could visit Isaribi-san." When the woman with the purple hair in the shape of a pineapple looked at him, Haku decided to explain himself by elaborating further. "Isaribi-san was apparently one of those who had been captured by the person responsible for the disappearances. Yet she somehow managed to escape, which means she likely knows who is behind this and what they hope to accomplish. I think it would be best if I went to speak with her."

"You sure you don't just want to talk to her so you can ask her out on a date?" Naruto teased, causing the ice user to both scowl and blush at the same time.

"This is hardly a joking matter, Naruto-san," Haku tried to inform the blond immortal with a firm gaze and unwavering expression. He failed due to his red face, but it was a good attempt. "I only met her once and not for more then a minute. She didn't even speak to me. I just... I saw something familiar in her eyes, and I was hoping to be able to speak with her about it. I may be able to help her."

Naruto stared at the boy for a few long seconds... and then his face broke out into a vulpine-like grin. "I still think you just want to cozy up to this Isaribi girl."

Haku scowled, even as his cheeks began to burn something fierce.

So this was how Anko felt whenever Akane and Naruto teased her? What an unpleasant feeling.

He opened his mouth to say something, but Anko, not wanting an argument of any kind of erupt, spoke first.

"You can travel over to this Isaribi girl's place," she informed him.

"Thank you," Haku sighed in relief. It was so nice to see their team leader acting practical. It made for a nice change of pace, especially when compared to the two powerhouses of their squad.

"Just be sure to use a condom."

Haku's face began overheating. It looked like he had spoken too soon.


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


The day was still young as Haku strolled down the beach. Above his head, the sun shone down, sending bright, warm rays of luminescence upon the land and sea, causing the ocean to sparkle as the tide lapped at the shore. The young ice using ninja took this moment to enjoy the relative peace, knowing that this peace would shatter as soon as he linked back up with the other members of his team.

Seriously, even if they didn't run into trouble (an unlikely occurrence given what had happened so far) and the rest of their mission proceeded smoothly (fat chance of that happening), the amount of chaos Akane and Naruto caused on a near daily basis was more then enough to make any kind of lasting peace seem like the pipe dreams of a foolish child. Those two were just that problematic.

On the other side of the beach that Haku was walking upon were a large series of cliffs that blocked off this small section of the ocean from the rest of the island. It made the area feel very isolated. Haku suspected that Isaribi had chosen this place as her home for that very reason.

It wasn't long before he reached his destination, a small hut built from wood and what appeared to be parts of a ship's hull. Running along the entire length of the front wall was graffiti. Haku read the kanji that had been painted on the wall, likely by some of the villagers with narrowed eyes. He did not like any of the words written on there.

The lights inside of the hut were on. Through the small window panes in the doorway, Haku could make out the silhouette of a female figure that he recognized as belonging to Isaribi. After staring at the black outline for several seconds, Haku took a deep breath, squared his shoulders and walked up to the door.

He stopped just in front of the door, wondering how he should proceed. Isaribi had not seen him yet, it seemed, as she was still going about her business. From the smell of fish and broth and the fact that smoke was coming out of the tiny makeshift chimney on the roof, he could only assume she was cooking. That still left him with a dilemma. Should he just knock on the door, greet the girl and hope for the best? Or maybe he should observe her more and speak with her as she was exiting her house?

That last one seemed kind of rude, though, and it made him feel like some kind of stalker. He didn't want to be a stalker, so it looked like knocking on the door and hoping for the best was the order of the day.

He just hoped she didn't react to his presence like she had last time.


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


"Achoo!"

Hinata rubbed her nose after her rather loud sneeze. Frowning, she wondered if she was coming down with something, but decided that it was not important. It didn't matter if she got sick. All that mattered was getting enough strength to accomplish her goal.

She and her team had been out here on the training ground for nearly three hours now. Hinata would have come out here to train sooner, but she had been needed for her team to do missions in the morning. They had done everything from walking the Inuzuka dogs and painting a fence to pulling out weeds and shopping for a person's groceries.

Not exactly the type of glamorous jobs you'd expect a shinobi to be doing.

Just as Hinata was about to get back to her training, both of her teammates and her sensei walked over to her.

"Are you okay, Hinata?" Kurenai asked in a kind of voice. That voice used to give Hinata comfort, but lately, for some reason, all it served to do was agitate the young genin. The blue-haired girl could not help but feel like her sensei was coddling her because the raven-haired beauty thought she was weak.

"I'm fine," Hinata replied, keeping her voice as polite as ever. "I think I just had something in my nose."

"So long as you're alright," Kurenai smiled. "Anyways, I think we're going to stop here for the day. You've all been working pretty hard, and I bet your tired."

"I know I am!" Kiba said, boisterous as ever. "All I want to do now is go home and sleep! You're tired too, right, Akamaru?"

"Bark!"

"I must admit to feeling rather exhausted myself." Shino's shades flashed in the light of the dying sun. "Why? Because we worked very hard today. Our training was an arduous affair." He looked over at the youngest female of their group. "Of course, none of us worked quite as hard as you have lately."

"Shino's right," Kiba added, with Akamaru barking out his own two cents. "You've been training really hard lately. I don't think I've ever seen anyone put as much effort into their training as you have."

"I agree with the boys on this." Kurenai gave the younger girl a proud smile. "You've been working very hard lately, and have improved by leaps and bounds. You should feel proud of yourself."

Hinata, being the polite girl that she is, bowed gratefully to the three. "Thank you, Shino-kun. Kiba-kun, Kurenai-sensei." As she rose from her bow, she looked at her raven-haired, red-eyed teacher. "If it is alright with you, Kurenai-sensei, I think I am going to stay out and train for a little while longer."

Kurenai bit her lip in concern. "I am not so sure that's a good idea. You could get hurt when you train, and if I am not there to supervise you..."

"I will be fine, Kurenai-sensei," Hinata told the woman firmly, or as firmly as Hinata could. Her sensei looked at her for a moment longer and, seeing the strange fire in her pupils eyes, sighed in defeat.

"I suppose this is something I can't talk you out of. Very well, you can continue training." Kurenai sent the young genin with blue hair and lavender eyes a stern look that was laced with concern. "But try not to overdo it, okay? While it's important to train in order to get stronger, it is just as important to make sure your body receives a proper amount of rest."

"Yes, Kurenai-sensei!"

Hinata's teammates and sensei soon made their exit, leaving the young Hyuuga genin alone in the training ground. Said lavender eyed female watched them leave, waiting until they had disappeared into the line of trees to turn back to her 'opponent'.

Said opponent was one of three training dummies, large logs embedded into the ground and wrapped up in rope, that was situated in the center of the training ground. Hinata glared fiercely at this training dummy, her mind conjuring up an image of a beautiful girl with red hair and red eyes, and supplanting this image over that of the dummies.

Tell her that she should give up on the one good thing that ever happened to her, would she? The bitch! Hinata was going to show her!

Breathing deeply, Hinata lowered her body into the wide stance favored by members of the Hyuuga clan. Her chakra burst forth, causing her eyes to show several of the veins running beneath them. Several more veins appeared on either side of her temple, throbbing as chakra flowed through them. These veins, combined with her fierce and potent glare, made the girl look almost frightening.

She probably would look frightening, if she wasn't such a cute little thing.

For a moment, all was still, all was silent. Not a sound was made, not from the animals, not even from the trees being rustled in a breeze. It was quiet, almost eerily so.

"Hya!"

This silence was broken as Hinata launched herself at the training dummy. Her open palmed hands lashed out, catching the log in the middle and causing several loud 'BANGS!' like the clapping of thunder to resound through the training ground with each strike. And with each strike the log itself rattled as she used chakra to enhance her speed and strength beyond what any normal person could accomplish.

Hinata did not know how long she stayed in that training ground, striking out at that dummy as she pretended it was Akane, but it must have been hours. By the time she had finally decided to call it quits, the sun was starting to set.

Getting out of her stance, the young, Hyuuga genin looked at the training dummy in satisfaction, noting the damage she had done to the exterior.

"That was quite impressive," a voice spoke up behind her.

Eyes widening, Hinata spun around, sweat flying off her body. As she finished about facing, the Hyuuga heiress was able to see the person who had spoken; an old man wrapped in bandages. He was wearing a white kimono that covered much of his body. Only his face was visible, and even then, she was only about to see about half his face because the rest was covered in more bandages. What's more, his left arm was wrapped in a sling, adding to his 'war victim' appearance. In his right hand was a long walking cane.

"Danzou-san," Hinata greeted the man warily. Her father was on the shinobi council, so she knew who this man was. Both she and her sister had always been told to be wary of Danzou, and that he was not to be trusted. "Can I help you with something?"

"I believe that is not the question you should be asking," Danzou said as he walked forward, his cane tapping lightly against the ground. Hinata's body coiled like a spring as he approached her, but he seemed to not notice. Or he was ignoring her tense posture.

"I was watching you practice." Danzou eyed the log as he came up alongside of her, which had several dents in it from where her palms had struck.

He was watching her practice? Hinata tried not to shudder at the creepy compliment.

"I've noticed that your form is excellent, however, you seem to be having some trouble with the standard Jyuuken forms."

Hinata frowned at the true comment, but did not say anything. Mainly because she did not know what to say.

"Your body is much too flexible for the rigid stance required for Jyuuken." Hinata flinched at the comment on her greatest flaw, but Danzou continued ignoring her very obvious physical tells. "However, where your elders might feel that your inability to truly conform to their rigid style is a weakness, I only see a strength."

"W-What do you mean?" asked Hinata. Despite knowing how dangerous this man was thanks to her father, she could not help but want to hear what he had to say about her. He said he saw strength in her form. How could that be?

"The Hyuuga are some of the greatest taijutsu practitioners in the Elemental Nations, this is true, but their rigid structure and inability to adapt is their greatest weakness and will likely be their downfall if it is not corrected." Danzou finally turned to face her, his single eye boring into her lavender ones. "I believe that you can change this, make the Hyuuga clan strong again by bringing something new to your clan. With my help, of course."

"Y-Your help?" Hinata blinked. "W-Why would you want to help me?" She looked down, her hair overshadowing her eyes. "I'm not very strong." She wasn't even strong enough to keep the boy she loved away from the arms of another.

"That is where you are wrong." Hinata looked up. "You simply do not know how to apply your strength yet, but with my help, you will finally be able to achieve your true potential."

Hinata worried her lower lip for a moment, her mind silently contemplating all she was being told. If she was understanding him right, Danzou was offering her aid with her training. However...

"I-If I were to accept your help, what would you want in return?"

"Merely that you bring strength back to your clan." Despite his seemingly honest and patriotic answer, Hinata was still hesitant to accept his aid. It was then, after several seconds, that Danzou finally spoke the words that would change the lives of Hinata and many others in Konoha, for better or worse. "If you accept my aid, you will become strong, strong enough to even beat Akane and win back Uzumaki Naruto."

Any decision that Hinata may have made evaporated like ice when it's thrown into a raging fire. Now there was only one choice left to her.

"I'll accept your help."

She would become strong. Stronger then anyone could imagine. And then, when she was strong enough, she would show Akane that she was the one who deserved to be by Naruto's side.

Oh yes. She would show her.

"Then come." Danzou did not show any emotions. It was not his way to show his emotions. But if he could, there would have been a victorious smile on his face. "Let us begin your training."


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


"Are you sure letting Haku go off on his own was a good idea?" asked Naruto.

The duo of Konoha ninja plus one all powerful entity beyond mortal comprehension had spent the rest of the day asking around for clues and confirmations about the disappearances that happened around Demon Island after Haku departed from their company. They had spent several hours speaking with various store owners and fishermen, hoping to gather what little information they could to support or deny what they had already learned. A few of the people had been a bit more receptive to their questions once they learned that the three were already aware of the disappearances and what had been going down on the mysterious Demon Island.

For example, they had been able to confirm beyond a shadow of a doubt that the disappearances did happen on or around Demon Island, and that anyone who went there also ended up disappearing. They also learned that the last disappearance was around two months ago, just a few weeks before Isaribi had made her miraculous reappearance.

Anko sat down on the edge of the bed, bouncing several times as the springs in the mattress tried to accommodate for the added weight.

"I don't see why not," the purple haired jonin answered with a shrug. "Ice boy might not be as powerful as you two or even myself, but he's still pretty good. I would place his skills around Chunin in level. He'll be fine."

"That's not really what I meant," Naruto sighed. "I'm sure there are very few people around here that would be able to beat him in a straight up fight. But by splitting us up, we weaken our own forces, and while I am confident that Akane and I can handle anything that comes our way, I don't want to release anymore power than I have to. It wouldn't do if we were backed into a corner and myself or Akane were forced to use more power then we intended. The last thing we need to have happen is for one of us to destroy Demon Island with one of our attacks."

"Like I said, don't worry too much about ― wait." Anko blinked, then turned to look at Naruto. "Did you just say 'accidentally destroy Demon Island'?"

"Yes."

"I thought so." Anko nodded to herself. She then looked at the pair as they snuggled together underneath their joined fuuton. "Can you really destroy an island? Akane I can picture it, but you? You're pretty powerful, I'll admit, but destroying an island would take some serious fire power."

"I could destroy that island easily," Akane informed Anko. She then added, "And Naruto currently has more power then I do. He would be able to destroy that island ten times over if he released all of his power at once."

"Ah... so I see..." Anko was not sure how she should feel about the fact that two of her genin had the capacity to destroy an entire island. Glad that they were on her side? Or jealous because one of those power houses was at least 10 years younger then she was?


~Story of the Ten-Tailed Wolf~


(Two Days Later...)

Guren frowned as she looked over the hideous creations of the mad doctor who worked on Demon Island. These... things, for she could not consider them anything other then a thing, were all disgusting, ugly and brutish looking creatures. There was no elegance to them, just a mindless brutality that sickened her to see.

She did not care for ugly things. A person as beautiful as herself had no use for the ugly. It didn't help their case that aside from being the most putrid wastes of rotting flesh and scales that she had ever seen, they were also mindless and stupid. The monsters didn't seem to possess any form of sentience other then their baser instincts. They attacked anything at will, even each other.

"So, what do you think of my creations?" asked Amachi. He at least looked very pleased with his monstrous looking creatures. The man was eying them with barely masked glee.

"The only possible use these things have is to serve as canon fodder," Guren declared without a care in the world. There was no subtlety in her voice as she blatantly declared Amachi's experiments all but worthless.

Amachi twitched, but quickly reigned in his emotions. "I'll admit, they could use some work. Despite this, I do feel these creatures are a success. They may not have a very high level of intelligence, but they are incredibly strong, can breath underwater indefinitely, and have the unique ability to manipulate water in a way that is similar to Suiton Ninjutsu. These creatures would be more than a match for any army in a sea fairing battle."

"You mean if they don't kill each other first?" said Guren, watching in disgust as one of the monsters ripped the head of another one off in a splatter of gore. As blood stained the already soaking floor in even more carnelian fluids, she turned away in disgust. "The only thing these things are good for is being a meat shield, maybe not even that, since they're so stupid and mindless. These... beasts would probably be too busy fighting each other to even notice when an enemy is right in front of them."

As Amachi began shaking in rage at the perceived insult, alarms began blaring inside of the laboratory.

"What is that noise?"

"It's the intruder alert," Amachi quickly ran over to one of the monitors in the back of the room and typed several commands into the console. The screen flickered from the pure blue of standby mode to the image shown from the external camera near the front gate. "It seems we have intruders."

Guren came up behind the doctor and looked at the screen over his shoulder. Smirking as she saw an image of two people appearing on screen, she said, "Well, well, it looks like my masters old toy has finally decided to show up, and she brought one of her genin along with her, though, this one is different from that ice user."

For a moment, she wondered where the ice user was, but quickly decided it wasn't worth thinking about. This was probably just a scouting party anyways.

"You know something." Guren's smirk grew as the two on the screen stared at the large doors in front of them. "I think I may have just found a use for those ugly creatures, after all."


Well, I hope you all enjoyed this chapter, as well as this arc in general. This is the second to last chapter for the Land of Sea arc, so the next chapter is going to be the grand finale. You know, it'll be the epic showdown between Anko, Akane, Naruto and Haku and Guren and her horde of butt ugly monsters. It should be a blast.

For all those who are interested, please check out my blog. That's where I post all of the answers to questions you guys ask here. I have also built a section that will be filled with writing tips for people who want to write, but may be having some trouble actually writing it. If you have a specific topic that you want me to talk about in blog, like how to create realistic and enjoyable OCs or how to change a canon character's personality in a way that does not feel forced, just ask in a review or send me a PM or even post the question on my blog. I will do my best to answer any and all questions you may have.

I think that about covers everything. I hope you enjoyed this chapter and are looking forward to the next one. Later.