Author's Note: Please read the notes at the end of the chapter please.


Chapter 11: Of Mice and Men

Naruto hated being jinxed. Especially when he was the one that caused it. Damn karma.

The rats for all their low health and lack of strengths had incredible DEX and the perks they benefited from made hitting them more difficult than he anticipated. The creatures were very agile and they could dodge a strike from his weapons quickly enough even when visually impaired that he just barely missed them. And their blows, while not lethal in the traditional sense, were annoying as hell. Their large numbers only adding to the frustration that came with dealing with the vermin.

The damage from them was low but it didn't matter as they were numerous and he became affected by the debuffs they caused. If being [Poisoned] was bad enough, suffering from [Diseased] was worse, as the latter caused a seven percent decrease in his stats, defense included, and enhanced the effects of negative debuffs by that same amount.

Even worse was the fact that both debuffs could be stacked upon. Naruto only counted his blessings that the mystery special perk he had made him more tolerable to poisons by twenty-five percent; if he was not in possession of the [Malnourished] flaw it would have been fifty percent instead.

"Gotta get rid of that and soon. Katon: Inka (Fire Release: Shadow Fire)!" the snarling fireballs did their job in freezing the rats in place and suffered the consequences of their forced inactions. Lit on fire and suffering from the fear related debuffs the flames caused, Naruto made quick work of the oversized vermin with his blunt weapon while Hotto had one by the throat and shook it like any dog would to their toys.

As he looked around, not that it would do him much good as the monsters of this dungeon were sneakier than the Wailing Cats, Naruto called Hotto and both began to continue on their way down the dark tunnel. Naruto barely made it seven steps before misfortune befell him once again; Hotto, however, was fortunate.

"Gahh! Freaking traps!" the only thing that stopped him from becoming food to a pit filled with countless rats clawing at the walls and gnashing their teeth was the [Tree Climbing Practice Skill] that allowed him to cling to the nearby surface like a spider.

Climbing out, Naruto was greeted by a thankful Hottomaru, but the vindictive Gamer took out a couple of [Unstable Cocktails] and [Poor-Grade Exploding Tags] and combined to the two.

|Item Crafting Commencing!|

|Item Crafting Completed!|

You have successfully created the following items:

[Explosive Unstable Cocktail x 2]


Explosive Unstable Cocktail – Uncommon Quality

Item Type: Offensive

Damage: -665 HP

Durability: One-Time Use

Description: An item created by combining [Unstable Cocktail] and [Poor-Grade Exploding Tags]. The act significantly enhancing the damage caused by both items and giving it a slight chance of causing higher level debuffs.

Guaranteed Debuffs: [Random Debuff: Lv 1], [Burning: Lv 1]

Potential Debuffs: +15% of causing [Random Debuff: Lv 2], +15% of causing [Burning: Lv 2]


Naruto said nothing but grinned so evilly that it had Hotto backing away from him. And with a look that would have made Anko proud, he took one of the cocktails and dropped it into the pit trap filled with ravenous worm-tailed rodents and backed away. The squeaks of fear lasted only a few seconds before a large 'bang!' rocked the area that was soon followed by an intense flash and heat that rose from the pit that would have otherwise introduced Naruto to a world of hurt.

Calling up his Status Window, Naruto saw his act being rewarded judging by the very large number of EXP he received, while Hotto finally managed to achieve level nine.


|Congratulations!|

|Hottomaru's level has increased by one!|

Name: Hottomaru

Job: Ninken (Ninja Dog)

Level: 9 Next Level: 238/6500

HP: 575 + [25] = 600

CP: 475 + [0] = 475

STR: 13 + [0] = 13

VIT: 23 + [1] = 24

DEX: 28 + [1] = 29

END: 19 + [0] = 19

INT: 7 + [0] = 7

WIS: 8 + [0] = 8

CHA: 5 + [0] = 5

LUK: 19 + [0] = 19

Defense: 10

AP: 6 + [2] = 8


"Well, that takes care of his health," a boon really as Naruto knew no healing techniques and healing items were both random and hard to come by. The few he had were to be used sparingly but his already high HP meant he didn't have to worry too much on himself compared to Hotto's much lower HP levels. For now, Naruto paid no attention to the level up his ninken had received, but made a mental note to invest a good portion of them into the ninken's VIT down the line. At least until his perks improved to the point that it wasn't as necessary anymore.

"Smell anything, Hotto?" nothing was sensed with either detection skill he had but Hotto had way better senses than him and even at his lowest level the ninja dog's detection related skills had already been much higher than his own despite their difference in levels.

"Arf!" a quick sniff in the air followed by a shake of the head was his answer.

"Good," but at the same time, not so good. Looking around, Naruto used [Observe] and scanned the area and true to form several traps came up in his field of vision. Due to his prankish background, Naruto had developed a keen sense on how to make good and impressionable traps. But being good at making your own traps and disabling them was one thing, detecting and disabling another's traps was much different.

"Great. A ceiling trap," Naruto frowned as he read the description, "If I fail this tunnel caves in and we have to take another route.

In Naruto's experience traps were put in place either because the current path would either lead to something good, or it was because the current path was the shortest route. But the pathway before him was long; the triggers were numerous; and his chances of successfully disabling the biggest one only twenty-seven percent according to [Observe]. Even with Seishoyo lighting up the cave by a good amount, Naruto didn't see the end of the tunnel before him and didn't know if he would be quick enough to get to the other end in time.

"Stay!" Naruto ordered and jump down the path in different spots. As he travelled further into the tunnel did the amount of triggers multiply and their placements making movement more awkward than the last. Triggers were in place on the floor, the ceiling, and the walls and they became closer until Naruto was unable to go any further and forced to backtrack. Barely even fifty feet in and he still couldn't see an exit.

And who knows what would happen after the trap triggered. Would it simply be a faster way or a treasure now denied to him? Or would it also result in a swarm of enemies to come flooding towards them as well? Naruto would risk it if it was just him, "But Tsume, and Anko, and Hana would rip my heart from my throat if something somehow happened to Hotto on my watch," not to mention the guilt of being responsible for it.

"Arf! Arf!"

His neck was nearly broken by how quickly Naruto turned his head in disbelief, "HOTTO! YOU IDIOT!"

The loud and sudden admonishment stopped the ninken in his tracks, but in an act of instinct Naruto had already taken a step forward and looked down to see his foot on a trigger. He summed up his predicament in two words, "Oh, fuck."

The walls shook and rumbled like thunder and Naruto didn't need to have high INT to know what was happening or what he had to do. But the boy hoped he was quick enough to accomplish it. Having to start over from the very beginning and losing the acquired EXP was an experience he could live without.

Grabbing Hotto with one arm, Naruto's intent to dash forward was thwarted by a large onslaught of rocks that almost turned him into Naruto jelly. Too sudden and too slow to react, Naruto slammed into the large rock but used the bounce to run as quickly as he could in the opposite direction. His steps and his haste ignoring the fact that he triggered more traps; his mind focused solely on getting to the other side and hoping that it wasn't a dead end. Or something worse.

But beggars couldn't be choosers right now. Whatever was going to happen would happen but Naruto would be damned if he was going to meet his end under a pile of rocks and dirt. Batting away a rock that nearly struck his head, Naruto grunted as he felt his arm protest the action. The rocks were heavy, large and falling fast and batting them away while one arm was being used elsewhere made the task much more difficult. Calling upon [Goriki] to strengthen his blows, and improve his blocks, Naruto struggled less but grunted in pain all the same as he tried diverting a rock that proved too great even for the enhancement to handle.

"Shit!" a curse escaped his lips. Fortunately, it struck his shoulder instead of his head but the momentary distraction caused him and Hotto to be pelted by other fallen stones.

"Yipe!" was the ninken's expressed alarm.

Naruto grunted some more and smacked and blocked the fallen earth and rocks; dodged the weaponry that were shot at him from triggered traps; and jumped or hauled himself up as quickly as he could when a hole suddenly appeared at his feet. The blond cared not and merely continued pushing and running faster than he ever could to get to the other side.


|Congratulation!|

|A special skill has been created due to a special act!|

|Due to forcing yourself to run faster than you normally would and subconsciously channeling chakra into your legs, you've created the [Hayagake (Rapid Run)] Skill!|

Hayagake (Rapid Run) E-Rank. Lv 1. 0% to Next Lv| Skill Modifier: N/A| Mastering Speed: B| A low rank technique that allows one to move much more quickly by empowering the strength in the user's legs with their chakra. While similar to the Shunshin in terms of concept, the Hayagake skill is inferior in terms of speed and functionality as it only allows the legs to move quickly rather than the entire body. Many believe the technique was created as stepping stone for the Shunshin while others believe it is a failed attempt to outperform it. |CP Usage: 35CP per Minute|

• Increases [Movement Speed] by 25% when activated.

Usage Requirements: 25 INT, 15 DEX, 20 END


"I'll take it. Hayagake (Rapid Run)!" Naruto announced and ran more swiftly than he ever had. Only thirty seconds had passed and while he still got struck by the odd fallen stone or triggered the odd trap that sent him skidding at times, Naruto was already was he able to see a difference. The amount of fallen rocks, while still numerous, was slowly becoming less of a problem. Like a person walking into a rain storm and then managing to find themselves on the outskirts of the worst of it.

And, finally and fortunately, both ninken and ninja to be saw light at the end of the tunnel. As he neared it, Naruto briefly so a flash in the corner of his vision and began rushing forward even more quickly than before. Just as the end was near did Naruto dive and tuck and roll; his arms protectively wrapped around Hotto. No sooner had he dove did a series of even louder thuds and crashes vibrate and rock the cave like a ship in turbulent waters.

When it finally ended, Naruto risked looking up and was greeted to a collapsed cavern, and something even more upsetting not that far from the exit.

"Oh, come on," luck was not with him right now.


Rarespawn: Kohu, The Forgotten Rapacious King – Lv 14

HP: 2350

CP: 1200

STR: 49

VIT: 54

DEX: 29

END: 38

INT: 4

WIS: 8

LUK: 27

Defense: 35

Special Perks:

Rarespawn Blessing [Lv 1]: +1000 HP, +250 CP, +10% towards all Resistances; All Attributes Increased by 10; +5 Defense

Nighttime Effect: +15% towards Attributes and Power, Speed, and Effectiveness towards Skills; +15% Increase towards Movement Speed in and out of combat; [Perks] and [Specialization] enhanced by additional 15%

Perks:

*Cannibal [Lv 2]: +40% Effectiveness towards [Cannibalism Skill] and 20% Effectiveness towards [Enhanced Cannibalism Skill]; +40% Effectiveness towards [Fear-Related Skills]

*Keen-Senses [Lv 4]: +80% Effectiveness towards [Detect Presence Skill], Immune to [Henge Skill]

*Toxic-Touch [Lv 2]: +40% Effectiveness and Power towards [Poison-Related Skills] and [Debuff Skills] performed physically

?:?

Titles:

Worse than Trash [Lv Max]: Any skill and perks that involves allies are reduced to their lowest level, reputation with inhabitants of [Training Ground Two] is forever Abhorred

Flaws:

Impaired [Movement]: -50% towards Movement Speed and Evasion

Blind: Incapable of using [Detection Skills] based on sight, -75% towards Accuracy

Description: Formerly the king of the rats, this creature allowed his gluttony to get the best of him and began feeding on members of his own mischief despite their abundance of food. Eventually the other rats had enough and they banded together under another's authority. Kohu was defeated in combat and severally injured and left to die in the tunnels where he tiptoed on the edge of life and death due to his injuries. Eventually, however, by some miracle or luck, or some dark curse fueled by revenge, the former rat king managed to recover enough to survive by himself. However, his wounds have long since festered, taking away his sight and leaving him looking more like a hideous wretch than a former monarch, the pain slowly turning him mad and forcing him to rely on sneak attacks and his other senses in order to survive.

EXP Earned: ?

Drops: ?, ?, ?, ?


"What's the star next to the perks for?" that hadn't been there previously but Naruto guessed it marked a recent mastery of the [Observe Skill]. The sudden appearance from a new screen gave him his answer but it was one Naruto could have done without.

Apparently, the star symbol next to the perks meant they were enhanced and what was currently being showcased wasn't true value. Naruto didn't what was worse. The foe he was about to face, or the bit of information he just learned. Either way, there was no argument from the Gamer regarding the creature's horrible description.

The giant rat that was eating its own kind was little more than a ghoul. Its fur blackened or missing in several areas as though it had the misfortune of being caught in a fire. Its left eye a milky white surrounded by sickly yellow pus that had crusted over countless times while the other was nothing more than trails of dug out flesh that led to horrible looking black hole which radiated pure madness. It was unlike anything Naruto had ever witnessed. Half an ear was missing and the other wasn't any better off and its worm-like tail appeared to have been bitten in half and melted to the point that bone was clearly visible. Naruto would have said its left hind-leg shared the same fate if not for the fact it had nothing from the knee down. Its claws and teeth a horribly mixture of green, brown, and yellow that reminded Naruto of something better left unsaid.

Film and saliva fell to the ground and angrily devoured whatever it made contact with without remorse. The fumes they caused wafted through the air and nearly made Naruto and Hotto gag. The combination of rotten sewage, expired eggs and many months old expired milk would have been more pleasant.

"Grr!"

Naruto hushed the small ninken by muzzling his mouth with his hand but the rat stilled and then slowly looked towards him nonetheless in an eerie and frightening matter. Their cover was blown.

"Screw VIT. I'm investing every AP into Hotto's INT next time," were Naruto's thoughts as he prepared himself for battle.

Suddenly an unholy cloak began rising from its form like steam would from a body in winter. The rat's form shifted and bubbled unpleasantly. Naruto honestly believed a series of giant zits were forming and ready to blow and cover everything in sight in an explosion of nasty as hell goo. But it never came to that, fortunately.

But the former rat king did look a hell of a lot meaner and as unhinged as a mad supervillain from his old manga books. To describe it all in one word, Naruto believed the word 'sharp' would best describe the creature.

And not the good kind of sharp. Sharp as in its fur stood on edge and looked as though they belonged on the back of a porcupine. Eyes narrower and focused like an unforgiving laser, the mad look more intensified than before that Naruto once more thanked his fortune for the [Gamer's Mind]. Its claws and teeth were acid dripping kunai that went through the rock as easily as dry wicker would catch fire. The tail now more reminiscent of a spear than a useless lump of bone and melted flesh.

|Warning! Warning!|

|Kohu has undergone a transformation and is now affected by the [Enhanced Ghoul] Skill!|

"Ah, crude," nothing else was said or thought as the creature belched forth a horrid puke green cloud in his direction that sizzled and eroded the very surfaces it skimmed over.

Quickly jumping, Naruto performed a quick roundhouse kick at the deadly corrosive cloud, "Futon: Fuhajin no Jutsu (Wind Release: Wind Wave Blade)!"

A wide gust of wind trailed behind the kick. Each technique made contact with the other and the green cloud was briefly pushed back before the wind release technique overpowered it and forced it to disperse into something less than harmless.

"...Okay, where's the rat?" Naruto had expected the former rat leader to have remained where he was but apparently it was much smarter than that. A quick look around revealed that the cave he was in was littered with crevices and tunnels; any one of which could have been used by Kohu to make his escape.

From his right, Naruto wasted no time and lashed out with his weapon as quickly as he could when Kohu suddenly exploded from the ground like a shark from the sea. The weapon smashed into the creature's face and diverted its trajectory but it landed a blow nonetheless.

|Warning! Warning!|

|You are suffering from the debuff [Diseased: Lv 2]!|

Naruto scowled and moved to attack the former king but could only watch as Kohu's body suddenly sank into the floor of earth and stone and disappeared from sight.

"Great, one of those," a hit and run type enemy and one that knew assassination or stealth-related Doton techniques Anko had showed him. A good tactic to use, but Naruto hated facing those kinds of enemies. Doubly so when those enemies dealt debuffs as easily as breathing. They were annoying as hell.

This fight was going to be annoying as well.


(Elsewhere)

"The plan's not going to work, Mizuki," the shadowed figure shook their head at the arrogant man's idiocy. How he was promoted to Chunin and why their master had him be a part of his plans was beyond the informant.

"It will work," Mizuki scowled at the informant. The traitor of Konoha knew little about the individual before him as the informant was very secretive. Mizuki didn't even know if the informant was male or female, just that he or she would appear randomly for an update or to inform him on what needed to be done.

"The demon won't graduate. His skills may have gotten better–"

"May implies a stroke of luck on his part. Outright winning a mock tourney and beating the top two students in Taijutsu isn't a stroke of luck! The boy has gotten better!" the informant corrected the man, authority washing over the traitorous Konoha ninja like a strong gale in a valley. Unlike the Chunin before him the informant didn't let their emotions cloud their judgement.

"Blame the snake bitch and her friends for that," the man snarled at the thought of Anko. Nowhere in a millions years did he think the cold hearted or uncaring woman would take a liking to the demon and start training it, "Hell, blame the fucking Hokage, too."

The cloaked figure had to concede – but not by much, really – to Mizuki's point. Anko was as much of an outcast as much as Naruto. Not nearly as bad but the spy guessed it was enough to sympathize with the boy despite how distant she usually was. Having Mizuki interfere in the training would cause some suspicions but the man was no fool to mess with the Hokage's orders or Anko herself. That or he feared risking getting on their bad side and falling under their radar.

"At any rate, your job was to weaken and impede the growth of the academy graduates as much as you could without getting caught. You've done a decent job so far with the others but now the boy's steadily making his way to the middle ranking! Jinchuriki are game changers, especially the nurtured ones! From what I've heard, the Hokage suspects a traitor within the academy."

"My cover's blown!?" a look of fear appeared on the man's face and the informant believed he was ready to run.

"I said suspect, you idiot! The Hokage doesn't know who yet but is carefully getting the matter looked into. It may take months but it's only a matter of time before you're found out. Orochimaru-sama is not pleased, Mizuki," the Konoha traitor didn't run but paled and for a brief second, he felt his heart stopped as he heard those words.

The informant knew about it. Years ago, Mizuki had met the rogue ninja Orochimaru on a mission. More accurately, Orochimaru had witnessed Mizuki killing his teammates from impeding a mission's success and for suspecting Mizuki of performing underhand deals with Konoha enemies.

Rather than kill him, Orochimaru made the man an offer to work for him instead and become one of his eyes and ears at the academy along with a few other things. As Mizuki had grown distant from the village and sought to make himself powerful, the offer seemed pretty good at the time. Orochimaru had promised the man incredible power few possessed and Mizuki wholeheartedly agreed. Not that he was in any position anyway to refute the powerful ninja. The informant doubted that Mizuki wouldn't be standing in front of them had the man declined the offer. Orochimaru didn't like leaving any loose ends.

"Then what do you suggest I do?" Mizuki asked, "The plan can still go off without a hitch. Even with his improvements the demon still can't make a proper Bunshin and without that his chances of becoming a ninja remain the same," Mizuki smirked.

"And what are your plans on the off chance he does pass?" the informant asked him, "And if you say he won't, I'll cut out your tongue."

Mizuki frowned and held back the remark before he gave an answer, "Then I'll get some other scapegoat. Not everyone passes and you have no idea what some fuckups are willing to do to become a ninja. I'll even frame the demon and make Konoha focus their attention on him while I make a break for it. Just make sure you take care of the ANBU when the time comes," as much as he liked it to be the demon, Mizuki had to bitterly acknowledge the fact he'd be forced to improvise should it occur. But such thoughts became secondary when the man suddenly felt a cold tight grip around his throat. Air became very

"Don't assume that a pathetic excuse of a ninja like you can order me about!" the informant practically snarled at the man and tightened their grip on his throat, "I give the orders around here. Not you! Do so again and you'll breathe your last," and with that the individual harshly tossed the man to the ground with a resounding thud. The strength and force behind the throw as his body crashed on the hard soil wracked his body with pain. The informant would have released a cruel laugh when they saw Mizuki gasped for air whilst he tried to right himself. But he wasn't worth the effort.

"Do not fail us, Mizuki. You wouldn't like to see what Orochimaru-sama does to traitors or those who fail him. The man is truly an artist at prolonging the suffering of others, and that's if they're lucky," the giddiness in the informant's voice gave the man the distinct impression they wanted to see him fail just so it they could witness him suffer.

"I… won't fail," the traitor's voice was hoarse to the person's actions. "I'll get it done."

"See that you do," they said and tossed him a vial, "A gift from Orochimaru-sama, not that you deserve it. Drink that vial should you find yourself in bind, and only when you find yourself in a bind!"

"What is it? Poison?" most ninja committed suicide to being captured and interrogated. But Mizuki lacked the mental fortitude to do so.

"I said it was a gift from our master and you think it's poison? You truly are a fool, aren't you?" taken aback by the comment, Mizuki would have retorted but was too slow, "Think of it as a form of liquid courage. And remember, drink it only when you find yourself in a bind and only then. I'll see you two months' time."

The man blinked and the informant was no longer before him. Mizuki could not hold back a scowl from etching itself onto his visage as it finally set in that his plans were slowly falling apart. It had been so simple when he planned it all. The demon fails, he shows some sympathy and earns his trust, and gives the demon a chance to become a ninja by stealing the Scroll of Seals. And when it was to try and learn a technique to occupy it long enough, Mizuki would sneak up on the demon and end its life before getting rid of the body and then be on his merry way. If the demon continued to improve and grow stronger then all that planning would be shot to hell. Now he needed to make a backup plan in case the demon did pass.

Deciding to deal with it later, Mizuki swiftly pocketed the vial and left to go about his daily life. The man had a few loose ends of his own he needed to take care of as well,

"Might as well get a few fucks out of Tsubaki before I leave," the man smirked at the thought of his beloved fiancé. Tsubaki was the only other person who knew about his affiliation with Orochimaru. Not everything but enough to have him locked up in the Konoha Strict Correctional Facility for the remainder of his life. But her love for him and her own dislike of the demon after the loss of her family at its hands stopped her from reporting him to the village.

The only upside of the demon getting stronger was that it allowed Mizuki to convince the woman that it was manipulating the Hokage to return to its former self. Showing her the result of his scores and embellishing a few things about the tourney only added fuel to the fire. As it was, the woman was more or less firmly on his side.

"Maybe I can convince her to come with me," he mused as despite his lust for power and hate for the demon outweighing his love for Tsubaki, Mizuki still had a lingering soft spot for the woman. If nothing else he'd find some way to use her as a scapegoat for everything that was about to happen should it go sideways. If everything went well, he'd get more power and have a beautiful lover by his side.

|Meanwhile|

"I. Hate. Rats!" and not just because they were disease infested little thieves that brought down real-estate values. They were annoying and numerous as hell!

Naruto's battle with Kohu had been, as predicted, annoying as hell. It couldn't even be called a proper battle to be honest. The rat would appear and then disappear at random.

It was especially annoying when he was either engaged with other rats, or trying to navigate around trap filled areas. Its stealth skill and the Doton skills it used to hide its presence didn't help given they were much higher than either of his detection skills. It had made Naruto and Hotto very jittery. Even the slightest of sounds weren't ignored. Doing so was a mistake that had almost cost them a couple of times.

But they had prevailed in the end. Kohu had met a very untimely but very well-deserved demise. And Hotto almost joined him, "Really am gonna invest those points into his INT."

But despite that near setback, Hotto's unexpected [Tsuga] had both him and Kohu setting off a pit trap. A deep one filled with rats. Naruto remembered the former rat leader's painful screeches as it was swarmed by its former subjects. The rat was bigger than Naruto but the swarm and countless teeth and claws, and the use of a deadly cocktail for good measure, ended up proving too much.

However, in the end, all Naruto got for it was a skill scroll known as Ninpo: Dokkasō (Ninja Art: Toxic Luster Claw) and the [Minor Soulstone of the Rat]. The skill scroll was a C-Rank technique, a rare and unique one according to its description, but useless to Naruto as it required him to know [Basic Medical Ninjutsu] and [Basic Toxicology] and his INT was nowhere near the necessary level needed.

The soulstone was welcoming. It granted or improved the [Stealth Skill] and ones DEX by five. With his DEX and stealth already high as it was, Naruto ended up using it on Hotto. The ninken needed to be stealthier and quicker. Even then, stealth did little to help them as they went in deeper into the dungeon.

"Futon: Shisenko (Wind Release: Lion's Battle Roar)!" from his mouth did Naruto unleash a loud and powerful gale that struck the nearby rats.

The power of the technique coupled with his perks pretty much made the technique a one hit kill for the rats due to their low HP. It was currently his most powerful technique and wide and far reaching enough. However, it costly in terms of CP and its current level required him to be stationary and also took him three seconds 'casting time' to use. Luckily it was nothing he couldn't handle. The downsides would likely go away once the technique was mastered.

The only other downside was that the rats that were now appearing were smaller, quicker, smarter and had taken on Kohu's hit and run fighting style. Once they were underground or sank into the stone the effectiveness of the technique was lowered considerably. Naruto didn't want to test out if it was strong enough to blast a hole in the wall and risk a cave in.

"Nearly an hour in. No way in hell am I starting over," a quick flick of his wrist had a kunai digging into a rat's head. The weapon didn't kill it but it did distract it that it forgot about Hottomaru. The little ninken took advantage of the opening and went for the rat's throat and began vigorously shaking the unfortunate creature.

Its treatment stopped when two rats made a beeline for the ninken. However, it was a temporary reprieve and seconds later it was nothing more that floating bits of light when the Komainu pup used [Tsuga] on its approaching allies. The technique was not strong enough to end them, but they were left in a vulnerable state. Naruto quickly finished the deed with a couple of well-placed techniques.

"Alright, that's the last of them... I think?" Naruto hoped but didn't trust his luck right now. The blond watched as Hotto sniffed the air around him for any signs of trouble but even that meant nothing. Even with his [Detection] skills higher than his own the rats' [Stealth] skill was almost just as high.

Both Naruto and his ninken continued to have their guard up as they walked down the dark tunnels, much darker than before and likely would have appeared incredibly foreboding if not for his [Gamer's Mind] and Seishoyo's ability to give them a decent amount of light.

Both walked not even two minutes before the came into contact with solid rock, "Crap! A dead end?" Naruto was happy to be proven wrong.

|You must complete the following to face the Dungeon Boss|

Mandatory Tasks (75% of Tasks Require Completion)

Slay Mutant Rats (21/15)

Slay Big Mutant Rats (14/10)

Slay Black Mutant Rats (7/6)

Avoid Traps (17/10)

Set Off Traps Safely (11/8)

Disarm Traps (0/5)

Use traps to injure enemies (3/3)

Optional Enemies

Pit Rats (49/30)

You have met exceeded the requirements needed to face the Dungeon Boss!

For slaying the rarespawn, Kohu, The Forgotten Rapacious King you are granted automatic entry!

Additional loot will be rewarded pending Dungeon Boss' defeat!

Enemy defeat count, minimum or exceeded amount, will reset back to zero upon entering!


Except for breathing a sigh of relief, Naruto said nothing as the large slab of wall before him went upwards to who knows where and revealed a poorly lit chamber filled with tunnels and holes and a ton of bones. The sound of water was clear to hear and a small watering hole surrounded by glowing moss was spotted in the corner.

"Well, that's a pretty sight," he deadpanned but didn't have a choice in the matter if he wanted to proceed to the next dungeon.

The first thing to greet his ears was the sound of countless little bones being crushed beneath his feet. The skeletons of creatures were everywhere and Naruto didn't see anywhere in the large cave that was free of them. Any chance of trying to go at it with stealth was crossed off the list.

"Grr."

"And here we go," Naruto muttered and prepared himself. But nothing prepared him for his detection skills going haywire. Pop ups appeared everywhere in his line of vision. So numerous was the amount that Naruto almost saw nothing else but pop ups.

Having enough, Naruto barked, "Go away!" thankfully the act worked.

However, "Oh, shit," in hindsight, Naruto would have preferred the pop ups instead of the countless eyes that shined in the dark. He could honestly say he could use Midori right about now. The large serpent would likely consider the large swarm that circled him a decent feast.

"Grr! Arf! Arf!"

Hotto being Hotto merely barked at the large swarm. Whether it was false bravado or his Komainu blood kicking in Naruto didn't know. He did know this: there were a lot of rats and Naruto knew a decently long-distance technique with decent AoE range that could end a lot of them if they moved at him in a huddled formation.

But none of them made to move towards him.

Naruto frowned but then noticed that the cave was starting to get brighter. Daylight was his initial thought but Naruto immediately threw that thought away. He had only been here for an hour and not an entire day and he was underground. A fire then? Was someone else in here?

"Anko?"

"KI KI KI!"

"Definitely not Anko," he noted while the loud screech echoed in the cavern and Naruto was greeted by the form of a large, pure white but the almost pink and mysteriously flamed covered rat. The hell? This was a definitely a first if he ever saw one. The boy guessed this was the dungeon boss and a closer look proved it.

Boss: Kaso, The Last of the Legendary Fire Rats – Lv 16

HP: 2650

CP: 1225

STR: 42

VIT: 45

DEX: 90

END: 29

INT: 22

WIS: 34

LUK: 53

Defense: 25

Special Perks:

Dungeon Boss Blessing [Lv 1]: +1500 HP, +500 CP, +15% towards all Resistances; All Attributes Increased by 15, +10 Defense

Legendary Creature [Lv 1]: +25% increase towards all Attributes; +25% Increased Power, Speed, and EXP towards all Skills; -25% CP required towards Skills; Possess one unique perk; Possess one unique Skill

Nighttime Effect: +15% towards Attributes; +15% Power, Speed, and Effectiveness towards Skills; +15% Increase towards movement speed in and out of combat; [Perks] and [Specialization] enhanced by additional 15%

Perks:

*Fire-Master [Lv 1]: +25% Increased Power, EXP, and Speed towards [Fire-Based Skills]; -25% CP required towards [Fire-Based Skills]

*Fire-Eater [Lv 1]: +25% of CP from [Fire-Based Skills] is absorbed; +15% HP from [Fire-Based Skills] is absorbed

*Flame-Fur: Grants the Perk [Fire-Eater] Negates damage from all forms of [Fire-Based Skills] by 100%, Effectiveness of enemy [Wind-Based Skills] and [Taijutsu Skills] reduced by 25%, Physical contact by enemies will result in damage

*Nimble [Level Max]: +100% Movement Speed in and out of combat; +100% towards [Evasion]

*Keen-Senses [Lv 4]: +80% Effectiveness towards [Detect Presence Skill]; Immune to [Henge] Skill

*Aura of the Leader [Lv 1]: Allies gain +15% increase towards Attributes, Movement Speed, and Effectiveness, Power, and Speed towards Skills when in same area

Flaws:

?:?

Description: One of the few legendary fire rats of myth that still remain. Though small compared to its lesser kin, this large rat is incredibly quick and its fire-coated skin makes it a formidable opponent. However, unlike its ancestors of old that once had a decent relationship with humans this flamed covered creature has cast aside the old ways. Now it cares only for its own well-being and its clan.

EXP Earned: ?

Drops: ?, ?, ?, ?

As Naruto read the description the boy was conflicted. On one hand the creature was going to give him a good amount of EXP but on the other hand the stats and perks it had was not going to make this fight easy. Naruto wouldn't be able to use any of his elemental ninjutsu as fire would only be absorbed. Futon and Doton were his only options but the damage from Futon would be reduced by quite a bit and that was assuming he could land a hit. And because Seishoyo had the [Firebrand] perk it would be useless to use as a weapon.

"Great. [Hayate's Training Bokken] it is," Chichizouge would have been better, but the requirements to wield the pseudo-zanbato had yet to be met. The bokken was far from the ideal weapon, at least in comparison to Seishoyo, Hayate had mentioned the bokken was not to be underestimated, especially in the hands of a gifted user or a master. Hayate had told him the story about a legendary master samurai swordsman who used bokken and won against those who used steel instead, the outcome usually being their deaths.

But Naruto wasn't a gifted user – or anywhere near the level of a master to be honest – Hayate and Anko had made that very clear. At the very least it would offer some distance and Naruto had another trick up his sleeve, "Ninpo: Chakura Nagashi (Ninja Art: Chakra Flow)."

Blue energy swirled around his hands before moving up to the tip of the wooden practice sword like a snake on a branch. Upon reaching its destination, the sword gained a little over an extra foot in length. It wasn't perfect like Hayate's. The man had not only been able to extend the length of his blade by a little over five feet if he wanted to but the shroud had appeared even more compact and smooth when compared to Naruto's.

His mussing was cut short, unfortunately; and the boy was forced to dodge when the rat charged at him with blazing speed. Hotto chased afterwards but yelped in pain when a small trail of flames ignited on the path it just created.

"Great," Naruto muttered, "Hotto! Stay back!" he ordered.

"Ninpo: Goriki (Ninja Art: Hard Strength)!" a surge of power flowed through him as he used the technique. The increased STR would serve not only to improve his weapon's attack power but also allow him to reduce the damage when he blocked any incoming blow. And with speed as high is this, this would be a battle where blocking was more important than striking.

As the rat charged at him once more, its speed still baffled him, Naruto struck the ground where he believed it was going to be. The blow was nowhere close and the rat was swift to assault him with scratches and fire and bites. Each strike made him wince, and he was losing health very quickly. It wasn't a lot, but the amount lost was still greater when compared to the other rats.

"Doton: Doran (Earth Release: Earth Riot)!" earthen spikes rose around him but the leader of the rats was quick to evade injury. Brielfly unhappy and frowning the look of discontent soon turned into a grin as he eyed the rat. Though he was slower, his ninjutsu practically useless and Hotto could do nothing right now, Naruto knew this was going to be an interesting fight to say the least.

"Ki ki," Kaso squeaked at him and the flames on its fur grew larger, brighter, and from the change in temperature he felt, hotter too.

"Bring it on, you garbage eating piece of shit," Naruto taunted the creature. Naruto didn't know if it could understand him but the fire rat charged at him even faster than before and a bright flash momentarily blinded the boy. Somehow, Naruto was success in blocking its attack.

"Ow," he grunted as the hot flames licked at him and forced Naruto to retreat, but the rat didn't let up and followed him and continued its assault. "Damn it!" he grunted once more. The damage wasn't high but if it continued like this the damage would start to stack up.

"Awwroo!"

|You're currently benefiting from the ally skill [Mune no Unari (How of the Pack)]!|

"This better not be a skill you've been holding out on, Hotto!" Naruto would seriously be pissed if it was the case. Energy coursed through Naruto and the envigored blond watched as Kaso and the nearby rats stiffened momentarily. The fire rat was quicker to recover than his lesser kin but Naruto's use of Hayagake and his energized allowed him to just barely land a decent blow, "Konoha Gōka (Tree Leaf Hard Fall)!"

Wooden weapon coming on a downward stroke, Naruto caught the rat on the leg and his time around Anko made the sweet song of pain become music to his ears. Nearly two hundred points were shaved off the rat's HP. The sword technique was a basic one but the perks, his weapon and his skills really enhanced the blow. Unfortunately, it was currently the only one Naruto knew from the Konoha Kenjutsu-Ryu; Hayate being a perfectionist believed that one only earned the privilege of learning stronger skills when the basics were mastered to an appropriate level.

The other technique decent he knew came from the [Bladed Weaponry Mastery Skill], and that was also a basic skill. One arm cocked back and the other stretched out in front of him, palm flat and facing his target, Naruto thought, "Shō (Thrust)!" and the sword became a spear. But the technique missed and struck the earth inside, leaving a hole over a foot deep.

They continued this dance for several minutes, to which Naruto had managed to dodge and evade its attacks better this time. Once more the rat rushed at him, but Naruto was better prepared now and struck when it pounced. The rat gave a loud squeak and was sent flying, a very good chunk of its HP being taken in the process thanks to the Konoha Gōka skill. But the creature managed to right itself as it landed and put some distance between itself and Naruto when he tried to land another blow.

Hotto helped where he could, but the ninken was busy fighting any rat that tried to enter the fray. With his howl's ability to stun the enemy, not always he noticed, the ninken would take advantage of their immobile state and do what he did best. Naruto would send a shuriken or a well-placed ninjutsu that helped keep the rats at bay or finish off what Hotto started. Multitasking against fast and evasive enemies like this wasn't easy, but it wasn't like there any real option at the moment.

"Katon: Inka (Fire Release: Shadow Fire)!" the fire took care of two rats that Hotto was too busy to take notice of but Kaso came in whilst he was distracted. The rat pounced on him again but Naruto was able to use Fuhajin at the last second. What it lacked in power in made up in AoE and great pushback. Kaso was quick but too close to Naruto to pull off a proper evasive maneuver and was sent flying into the air some distance away tail over head and into the nearby pool of water.

"Ki! Ki!" squealed and writhed in pain and looked as though he couldn't get out of water fast enough. His flaming fur no longer alight and his movements sluggish.

|Congratulations!|

|A Critical Blow has been dealt to Kaso!|

|Through a special act you've discovered and unlocked the hidden weakness of Kaso! [Hydrophobia]!|

|Kaso's Flame-Fur Perk has been temporarily neutralized [3 Minutes]|

"Yes!" this was exactly what Naruto needed. But even with one of his perks down the rat was still pretty damn quick. Worse, the rats from the horde were coming in more frequently now and in greater number. Like any game he played, this was the moment where the underlings came to defend their currently in a bind leader.

"Hotto! Close your eyes!" he ordered and quickly equipped his other weapon in his free hand, "Hikaru (Brilliance)!"

"Ki! Ki!"

Blinded by the light from the weapon, Naruto was glad to see that Kaso had also fallen under its spell and quickly rushed towards the dungeon boss. Rats were kicked, smacked or sliced away with little regard as ninja in training and ninken speared their way towards their destination. Only a dozen feet away, Naruto launched a Shisenko that bone-crushingly slammed into the dungeon boss right as it began getting over the debuff.

Kaso smashed into other rats when it came down for a hard landing but lived up to the reputation expected of bosses by quickly getting up and entered one of the nearest dark holes.

"Damn he's quick," Naruto scowled.

The blow had pretty much caused the boss' health to go below the half way mark, but now it was going somewhere to lay low until his perk came back on. And now Naruto and Hotto were left with a large amount of rats to deal with.


(Meanwhile)

"Are… are you serious," Anko managed to force out.

"One hundred percent, Anko," Hiruzen smiled.

There were very few times was Anko ever rendered speechless in her entire life. Up until now, the most memorable of which had been when Orochimaru of the Sannin had chosen her to be his apprentice – a decision she'd later come to regret mind you – another being when she and learned that the famed Yondaime Hokage – a man who pulled Konoha's ass out of the fire when all seemed lost – died during the Kyubi no Yoko Incident. Naruto's ability to live his life as a video game – something that if she was being honest was still taking her some getting used to – being one of the more recent and currently the most recent one was her being wide-eyed and staring in disbelief at the new vest she was now holding.

"Hokage-sama... I don't... Thank you," she could only say.

Hiruzen merely continued to smile, knowing emotions with Anko were never easy. But after seeing everything she did through his crystal ball and how far Naruto had come under such a short amount of time, the Sandaime believed he knew he was making the right choice, "While some are against it, I am Hokage and you've earned your promotion to Jōnin."

Jōnin. Even hearing it and replaying it in her mind over and over again, this had been the very last thing she expected when she had been summoned to his office. Honestly, Anko thought the man merely wanted her report on the border patrol. Getting promoted to Jōnin was the farthest thing she believed would occur, "Hokage-sama… Thank you."

The man chuckled at bit at the repeat, "Like I said, you've earned it, Anko," the man smiled even more when he saw her try to discreetly wipe away a tear, "Now then, I know it's early but have you considered what we discussed before we left?"

The discussion he referred to had been Anko becoming a Jōnin sensei. While full fledge Jōnin were often in that position, generally the more experienced ones, it wasn't uncommon for a recently promoted Jōnin or Tokubestu Jōnin to have a Genin team of his or her own.

"Yeah, I did… What the hell, I'll give it a shot," she grinned. The woman knew she was going to have to teach a group sometime in the future, most Jōnin did, might as well do it now with Naruto and two others she had her eye on.

"Excellent. As soon as the others joins us, we can begin," Hiruzen informed her.

And not five minutes later did the office of the Hokage start filling up with other potential Genin team leaders. Upon spotting Anko with a Jōnin vest those closest to her congratulated the woman on her promotion. Others were shocked that the woman got the promotion and the fact she was also being considered as a potential instructor candidate so soon.

"Congratulations, Anko," Kakashi was the last one to enter and praise the woman for her achievement. Never once looking away from his newest piece of literature, or as Kurenai liked to call it, pornographic trash.

"Now that you've all gathered, I believe we can begin," Hiruzen starred at the many would be Jōnin instructors.

"I'm surprised Hatake's on time for once," Anko, wearing her new Jōnin vest with pride, earned a few laughs from the very truthful comment. Though Anko would most likely forgo wearing it around Konoha and stick to her regular attire. The woman still couldn't get over her promotion. Relatively speaking Anko had now replaced Kurenai as the rookie of the group. In all honesty, if one were to ask Anko if she was to become a Jōnin sensei some months back she would have laughed in their face. That mindset had changed since she met and began training Naruto.

"Hmm, did you say something, Anko?" many snickered or sighed at the man's antics.

"I ain't Gai, Kakashi. That's not gonna work on me. Oh, and by the way, Saiki ends up with Noriko," she finished and gave a devilish smirk to the man reading the newest edition of Icha Icha. Several men groaned or began weeping, much to the disgust of some kunoichi.

"Why am I not surprised," Kurenai sighed at her friend's attics. Anko had always been sexually promiscuous, using her sex appeal to her advantage on several occasions and reading such books to help give her ideas. The woman didn't whore around like many thought her to be, but the woman didn't exactly do herself any favors at times.

"Wait, isn't Saiki a woman's name?"

Anko and Kakashi merely gave Kurenai a blank look before the two of them gave her the same answer, "What's your point?"

"Oh, lovely," the Genjutsu Mistress of Konoha scrunched up her face in disgust. The woman didn't bother hiding it from the perverts in the room. Part of her wasn't surprised that there would be such a theme in these types of books.

"It was lovely. That build up was going on for months. What you did was just plain mean, Anko," Kakashi sulked for finding out an important piece of plot. He'd still read it but it wouldn't be as thrilling.

"Man, that's just sad," Asuma chuckled.

"I wouldn't talk if I were you, Asuma," Anko shot back and the man stiffened, even more so when he saw Kurenai subtlety shifting her gaze towards him out of the corner of her judging crimson eyes, "As I recall, don't you also-"

"Ahahddahahh," the man covered Anko's face before she could finish. Though it didn't stop Kurenai from scowling at the man, "Now, I don't know what you're talking about… You can lick my hand all you want I'm not gonna OOUCCH!" the man took his hand away, a bite mark firmly visible on the palm.

"Tasty, but – Plah!– I could do without the ashy after taste," even then Anko licked her lips and made several Jōnin in the room shudder.

While looking impassive at the events happening before him, Hiruzen mentally wept at the unfairness of it all. The man not only had just gotten the book from his student but also only just recently started reading it, "Damn it, Anko."

Getting the room back under order, Hiruzen began the meeting once more, "Settle down, everyone. Now then. As you all know the academy graduation ceremony is less than a few months away. All of you were given a report of the potential future Genin the academy has to offer. Do any of you have suggestions on who you want?"

"I do, I do!" Anko jumped up and down, her arm waving in the air like a child.

"Yes, Anko," the man was surprised how eager she was.

"Uzumaki Naruto, Yamanaka Ino, and Hyuga Hinata!" Anko announced.

"I can understand Naruto but why the other two, Anko?" Hiruzen asked. Truthfully the man knew his son wanted to continue the tradition of forming the InoShikaCho team with the newest generation and Kurenai had a vested interest in Hiashi's daughter.

"Simple, I know the Gaki in and out and still have tons to teach him for one. Two, Inoichi's brat surprised me the last time I saw her and she's got guts. Her natural flexibility and her clan's techniques and background make her the perfect candidate to learn about interrogation."

"You plan to teach a child interrogation?" Iruka asked in disbelief.

"The moment they put on the headband is the moment they stop being kids, Umino," Anko scowled and the man flinched. "Besides, in the past the Yamanaka begin teaching kids the basics of interrogation should they ever meet someone capable of resisting their mind techniques."

"And the Hyuga?" Hiruzen asked.

"Easy. Her eyes allow for long range scouting and her Taijutsu allows her to disable her opponents when she gets in close, making 'em easier for capture," Anko reasoned. "Of course, she's gonna need some work done. But having her around her oblivious crush could help."

Kurenai frowned at the words but couldn't help but agree with her friend's assessment. Hinata had confidence issues, partially in fault to her father and her traumatic childhood. Having lost her mother who had been pregnant with what would have been her third sibling along with believing she had been the cause of her uncle's death due to her failed kidnapping from the Kumo ambassador years ago.

"So, you're trying to create a Tracking, Capture and Interrogation Team?" Kakashi assessed.

"In a manner of speaking," Anko acknowledged. "Naruto has incredible levels of chakra, a lot of piss and vinegar in him and enormous endurance. The kid's gonna be the muscle of the three if and when things get hairy. When you include the tactics he'll be able to employ with that mutt of his they can basically beat the hell out of their opponents and wear them down. Hotto's a ninken so he's got keen senses. He's young but he'll be able to detect things we may miss and shouldn't be underestimated. With her eyes Hinata's the scout and the one who immobilizes them with her love taps," Kurenai smirked lightly.

The woman would have loved to see the Hyuga Clan's reaction to Anko calling their famed taijutsu the Gentle Fist as 'love taps'.

"Academy records says she's also in the top three when it comes to chakra control and she's demonstrated a very good competence for basic medical skills. With a little nudging and extra training in that area the girl could also be classified as the team medic. Kami knows how banged up the Gaki gets when we train. Then again, that thick skull of his does more damage to what he makes contact with. Poor trees," several Jōnin just deadpanned at that tidbit of information. Anko rarely did things half assed and her methods, while unorthodox and intense were effective.

"And Ino?"

"The Yamanaka's role is simple: the infiltrator, the interrogator, the deadly femme fatale," that last bitthrew many off.

"Femme fatale?" Asuma had to admit that was a first during one of these.

"The girl's young but she'll easily grow up into a beauty and start turning heads. Already is actually. She used her sex appeal to fight a superior opponent and almost won. The girl's got brains, wit, charms and looks as a weapon. Combine that with some poison and a bit of refinement and you've got yourself a deadly kunoichi. Aka: me!" Anko couldn't help her boasting.

And while Hinata and Ino wouldn't really be powerhouses like Naruto – but then again not all of them had reality altering powers and a mountain of chakra within them – they had other strengths going for them that Naruto wouldn't be able to possess. Either because of lack of interest or talent or because of how far on a spectrum he already was.

"Hmm, interesting," Hiruzen mused. While it was uncommon for a team to have two kunoichi, three if one counted the Jōnin, and one male shinobi it happened nonetheless. Both Naruto's mother and Hinata's mother had been part of a three kunoichi team along with Uchiha Mikoto. One that was led by his late wife, Biwako. Having a team with only one male Genin and the rest being female wasn't that bad or disconcerting.

"Do I hear any counters?"

"I actually wanted Ino to form the InoShikaCho batch. We all know how effective the trio have been when together," Asuma said.

"And I actually wanted Hinata under my care seeing as how I've known her the longest and know what she needs to improve on. With a little training and being teamed up with Shino and Kiba they'd make an excellent tracking team," Kurenai explained.

"I'm good really. It would have been interesting to teach Naruto some ninjutsu but his fighting style and what he has is too different from my own. It would clash more so than anything," Kakashi said. While he would have liked to have taught his sensei's son, the man wasn't to make a big fuss about it. Naruto had improved under Anko, best let the boy finish with her and see what he could do for him done the line.

"Hmm," Hiruzen stroked his beard, contemplating what he was going to do but seeing Anko's look, Hiruzen asked, "Problem, Anko?"

"Permission to speak freely, Hokages-sama?" she asked.

The elderly man knew he might regret it but honestly wished to hear what she had to say, "Granted."

"Both Nai-chan and Asuma's suggestions are flawed," Anko honestly said. "And that's sugar coating it."

"Explain," Hiruzen asked her, all the while applauding the woman for toning down the usual profanity.

"Ok, I'll admit with the smokestack that the InoShikaCho team has been used and done for generations and to deadly effect," Anko admitted and Asuma didn't look insulted by the nickname.

"That being said, Hokage-sama, it's been done time and time again. New chapter, same old content. Much as I hate my bastard of a teacher," many tensed as they knew whom she referred to, "The asshole did have some good points that stuck with me: we're ninja and to win fights we need to be unpredictable."

"Yeah, what's your point?" Asuma asked.

"The InoShikaCho isn't unpredictable anymore. Sure, back in the day and now, their teamwork is recorded as being one of the best in ninja history. But here's the thing. They've been doing the same song and dance routine since the time they were founded centuries ago that the shock and awe of it isn't what it used to be. You know what that means? The way they fight, the way they think, basically everything about the InoShikaCho teams have been recorded throughout history. Which means that during that time-span our enemies have come up with ways to counter their moves. Yeah, they make an awesome and fearsome team but put them against someone who knows how to fight them or prevents them from pulling off their trademark moves and they are almost sitting ducks because that's basically all they're trained on. The other problem is that not all InoShikaCho members work well together despite their clan ties so the effectiveness of it isn't something to fear. Their strengths are also their biggest weakness. Their techniques are still deadly and useful, but after doing it for so long, unless they're exceptionally gifted or lucky, they're only truly effective when used in tandem with each other. But if you teach one of them something they don't know, something the enemy won't expect–"

"You catch them off guard, throw the enemy off and whatever plans they had will be forced to change or be left at their mercy," Kurenai finished.

"Exactly. Unfortunately, I know that smokestack here isn't going to do that based on his past reputation," Asuma didn't bother denying it. The man was laid back and didn't bother doing things unless they were necessary. "You can have the Nara and the Akimichi for all I care. I got no time or desire to teach lazy bums."

"And the Hyuga girl?" Kakashi asked her.

"Quite frankly, and I don't say this to be mean, Nai-chan, her growth and skill as a kunoichi at the moment will be hampered under Kurenai," was Anko's blunt answer.

Many near them backed away with the exception of Asuma and Kakashi, the latter of whom looked ready to snap his book shut and the other cast a wayward glance. While it was unlikely, both knew they may have to restrain them if it came to that. Kurenai and Anko were polar opposites as kunoichi, and good friends, but both had one thing in common: their anger got the best of them at times.

"Excuse me!" not only was Kurenai insulted by the comment made by her friend, she looked the part, too. "I've known Hinata for a long time and I know what she needs. You've been Jōnin for less than a day now, Anko. What makes you the expert all of a sudden?" she asked hotly, her Ice Queen of Konoha persona coming into play.

"Two months, Nai-chan," Anko's response confused not only Kurenai but several of the other Jōnin, too.

"In almost two months time since I was assigned as the Gaki's mentor, I managed get him to do better at the academy. Not only that but many thought the brat was gonna be the Dead Last, too. And, guess what, thanks to me the Gaki's on his way to being in the middle ranking," Anko acknowledged that part of it was also thanks to his unique Gamer ability. However, none here needed to know that and the kunoichi still played a major role in it too despite said ability.

"A lot of people thought it was impossible for the Gaki to show improvement, Nai-chan. Not only did he thrash those wannabe ninja during the Taijutsu bout half an hour ago, but he also beat the top of the class in taijutsu."

"What?" Kurenai was left in disbelief, and she wasn't the only one.

"That's right. The Gaki beat the Inuzuka and the Uchiha," she smirked. "Ask Umino, he organized the whole thing till I took over."

Anko's words had many Jōnin looking at the academy instructor for confirmation. Iruka for his part merely nodded with a smile, "It's true. Naruto defeated both Kiba and Sasuke."

"Damn," Asuma was pretty impressed. The man had heard about Sasuke being a prodigy like his older brother and with the Uchiha Clan's Sekkendo Taijutsu style it wouldn't be an easy fight. It was an impressive fighting style that was only enhanced by the Sharingan, but even it was very effective and formidable. Likewise, the Inuzuka were known for their Ranken (Wild Fist) Taijutsu as well and their speed and feints were pretty well known.

"You need to face facts, Nai-chan. You're coddling the kid. You're too emotionally attached to push her beyond her limits. I'm attached to the Gaki but I don't let it impede me from pushing him. I've done in two months what you have yet to do in two years. I'm not saying you didn't do anything, the girl's better than what she used to be. And I know that they're both different, the Gaki's got more piss and vinegar in him, but two years and with little improvement-"

"Stop," Kurenai's eyes were shadowed and her fists were trembling. "Please stop, Anko."

"I've heard enough as well," Hiruzen butted in before it escalated further. "I've made a decision. Anko, pending their results at the academy and should they pass, I'm assigning Yamanaka Ino, Uzumaki Naruto and Hyuga Hinata under your tutelage as Team Eight," he smirked; it was payback time, "but you get to tell Inoichi, Shikaku, and Chouza why their children for the next formation of the InoShikaCho is being skipped a generation."

"… This is because I ruined the ending for you isn't?" were he smoking his pipe, Hiruzen would have choked on the smoke. While some looked away, others tried to hold in their laughs. His former's student's student was too quick for her own good at times.

Afterwards, one by one did the Jōnin inform Hiruzen on who they wanted to be a part of their team. With Kakashi his primary choice was Uchiha Sasuke, Haruno Sakura and Inuzuka Kiba. With Asuma it was Nara Shikamaru, Akimichi Chouji, and Aburame Shino. When the last one was done, Hiruzen dismissed all of the Jōnin except for Kurenai.

"I'm afraid you won't be getting a team this year, Kurenai," the man sadly informed the woman.

"Hokage-sama - " Kurenai began but stopped when Hiruzen raised his hand.

"Kurenai, I have faith in your abilities to teach and lead others. I wouldn't have had you promoted otherwise," Kurenai smiled at the man's words.

"However, Anko is right. Assigning Hyuga Hinata to you could be detrimental to her growth; I cannot risk angering Konoha's most prominent clan if their heiress doesn't show improvement under her chosen Jōnin's guidance. And those who know the truth about the incident with your last student have begun questioning your ability. Because of how recent it was, I think it may be wise if I postponed you from taking the position of instructor at the moment," Kurenai winced and was glad that the office had only her and the Hokage at the moment.

The incident with Kurenai's last student, Kurama Yakumo, whom she had tutored part-time a year previous, had been a disaster. While the girl was born with a permanent illness that prevented her from performing the physical tasks of being a shinobi, she had incredible intelligence and creativity. She was also prodigious in the art of Genjutsu and in time Kurenai knew Yakumo could easily surpass her. Kurenai wouldn't be surprised if the girl had Yin Release either.

Then came the day she discovered Yakumo's secret when she overheard some Kurama Clan members. What she heard had been vague but Kurenai summed up that her powers had resulted in the creation of a second entity inside her. One that was supposedly of dark origin and the clan members feared she'd turn on them once she became powerful enough.

In the end, Kurenai did what she thought was best and sealed up the girl's powers to prevent them from getting out of control. A few members of the Kurama Clan hadn't been pleased with that little stunt. Kurenai ended up not only destroying a young girl's dream along with her faith and trust in her but ruined a clan's chance at returning to their former glory.

During the Era of Warring States, the Kurama Clan was highly feared as the Weavers of Reality, as their Genjutsu were so powerful and felt so real that it caused many to become mentally shattered, comatose, or become frightfully catatonic and left at their mercy. They weren't as powerful or on the same class such as the Uchiha and Senju, but were one of the few clans that had come very damn close. However, the clan had suffered a series of misfortunate at the end of the bloody period and lost many prominent members to the World Wars and soon fell out of the limelight. Yakumo's skill was the clan's chance at a comeback, and Kurenai, who had learned some of their Genjutsu as payment, had taken it away from them.

To prevent the clan from taking action against her, Hiruzen informed them that he had given the order and subdued the rowdier and vindictive members. Being Hokage and the most powerful ninja in the Elemental Countries at the moment made the few that wanted retribution suddenly have a sudden change of heart. The clan was angry, but not stupid. Hiruzen was old and no longer in his prime, but he was a still a powerful force to be reckoned with despite his advanced age.

"However, as I said, I would not have promoted you if you didn't have the right skill set. Therefore, I'm assigning you as an assistant Jōnin instructor. Whenever one of the instructors needs help or is required to take a mission outside Konoha beyond the capabilities of his or her Genin, you will take charge," Hiruzen stated.

Truthfully Kurenai didn't know whether to be thankful or insulted by the opportunity. While she'd be allowed to teach, she'd basically be a second choice and second fiddle really. Though Kurenai knew it was her fault. She failed not only one student but also barely improved her current ward of two years. Anko, a person who didn't care for teaching others, had managed to improve the former Dead Last in almost two months. It was an eye opener really, and as much as she didn't want to admit it, Kurenai had to agree with her friend's statement. She was too close to Hinata and without knowing it had begun coddling and holding Hinata back from unlocking her true potential. Whether it was because she feared losing Hinata once she was promoted or because she felt the need to protect the girl from any further hardship was unknown even to her.

"Thank you, Hokage-sama," Kurenai bowed to her leader and then left.

The man sighed as Kurenai left. The elderly Hokage disliked moments like this. Kurenai was a relatively new Jōnin compared to the others but her skill in Genjutsu was unmatched in Konoha. She was no Senju Toka or Hozuki Gengetsu in the art but given time the woman could potential rival the Senju and Nidaime Mizukage's skills in the art of illusions. Her skill in illusions along with her performance record was one of the main reasons why Kurenai had been promoted to Joinin almost three years ago. But, like everyone, the woman wasn't perfect. While he originally thought that Kurenai was ready to take on a team of her own, Anko had made some valid points and the reminder of her failures had only contributed. Were they not so recent, it may have been a different matter.

The Hyuga Clan was a prestigious clan in Konoha, one of the original Four Noble Clans, and with the downfall of the Senju Clan during the Second Shinobi World War, and Uchiha Clan some years ago, the Hyuga were the strongest clan in Konoha. The man couldn't afford another incident with a clan if Kurenai coddled and hampered the growth of the clan head's daughter. Hiruzen knew that Hiashi loved his eldest daughter, but Hiruzen also knew that the Hyuga were strict trainers and demanded a lot from their children, especially their heirs. It had been the same case with Hiruzen and his father, Sarutobi Sasuke.

"One can only hope Anko can help the girl," the woman had done wonders with Naruto but Hinata was a slightly different case.


(Elsewhere)

"Damn it!" Naruto cursed when his block failed and resulted in him losing over two hundred of his HP and becoming inflicting with the [Burning] debuff as a penalty. Naruto wished he had used Saigeki (Crushing Strike) on the rat when he had the chance. Kaso being affected by [Slow] would have been great and rendered the rat at his mercy. As it was, Naruto and the rat merely looked at one another, neither attacked. Hotto was on the sidelines licking his wounds and the rest of the horde was now almost non-existent. Flinging powerful ninjutsu and great AoE range that killed them in one blow would do that.

While the rat had the advantage in speed and its unique defense – which was unfortunately back in the game - Naruto had the upper hand in strength and cunning.

Quickly glancing around the cavern, Naruto kept his guard up but slowly moved and never took his eyes off of the speedy fire rat. Going back to the back to the tunnel that he was closest to, Naruto did something unexpected: he went and bolted inside the tunnel. Though confused by the act, Kaso following after him. A decision the rat would soon regret. Knives of earth came at him in the dark like bats in flight and when he moved to dodge the rat slammed into sharp earthen spears that suddenly rose to intercept him.

"Futon: Shisenko (Wind Release: Lion's Battel Roar)!" Kaso's momentary daze and the width of the tunnel played in Naruto favour. Harsh winds with the force of a stampede of rampaging bulls slammed into the dungeon boss and sent him flying back out where he entered.

"KI!" though the attack wasn't as bad it should have been, the force from the technique combined with how narrow the tunnel was made it so the gale force was centered all on the rat the moment it entered the tunnel.

""Awwroo!"

"Thanks, Hotto!" Naruto took off like a shot at the temporarily dazed creature and struck it with Saigeki (Crushing Strike). While the bokken was classified as a sword, its weapon type was a blunt weapon so the technique was still useable.

Not wasting anytime, Naruto proceeded to rain as many [Goriki] and [Chakura Nagashi] enhanced Ryoku Boku (Power Strikes) on the rat as he could and just before its health complete disappeared was it surrounded by a brilliant flash that was followed by a large and intense blaze.

"Damn it," Naruto cursed. A few more blows and the rat would have been dead. He had little time to think, however; as he felt the rat charge at him and the boy hardly had time to dodge or block this time. It was now much quicker and stronger. And for the next few minutes, the rat would charge in and attempt to strike him, and Naruto only just barely managed to keep up, block, or evade it.

When it rushed in once again, Naruto waited even long and struck out with [Doran] but even then the rat managed to avoid. But its attention was so focused on him that the rat was glanced by Hotto's [Tsuga]. The unexpected maneuver caught him in the leg and Kaso tripped over, the creature squeaking as it went skidding.

Naruto took this opportunity to end this fight with a [Shisenko], but the rat recovered too quickly and the boy felt its head ram into his gut. His shirt now ablaze once more, Naruto was sent tumbling to the ground instead of finishing off the boss.

It didn't end there though as the rat jumped on him and attempted to bite his face. Naruto managed to stop it from doing so by horizontally sticking his bokken in its mouth and held in at bay. With his greater strength the rat's attempts at biting him were proving fruitless. It only worked momentarily, Kaso was smart and quickly changed tactics and began to rake at him with its flame covered claws. Naruto was fortunate that unlike the other rats, Kaso couldn't inflict with the [Poisoned] or [Diseased] debuffs.

"Grr," Naruto grunted as he felt the pain inflicted on him by the appendages. The rat squeaked when Hotto latched onto his tail and distracted him long enough for Naruto to tuck in his legs and thrust outwards with a double kick.

Though flung well away from him, the rat recovered and righted its body, even then his HP was now at the deep end of the red zone. Rising as quickly as he could, Naruto tried to put out the flames from his armor but cursed even more when he saw Kaso retreat towards the tunnels. The Gamer wasn't going to let the boss escape to recover what remaining health that easily and set off after the fire rat. When the retreating creature was just about to enter the tunnels, Naruto quickly formed a hand sign and saw the rat's only means of escape blow up.

*BOOM* the suddenness of the explosion almost knocked him off balance and rocked the cavern. The boy could only watch as the tunnel entrance collapsed and filled with rocks.

"Damn it," Naruto cursed as his vision was momentarily clouded by dust and flying rocks. When the dust cloud cleared, Naruto breathed a sigh of relief when saw loot outside the tunnel entrance and the other rats gone.


|Hottomaru's level has increased by one!|

Name: Hottomaru

Job: Ninken (Ninja Dog)

Level: 10 Next Level: 1378/7000

HP: 600 + [25] = 625

CP: 475 + [0] = 475

STR: 13 + [0] = 13

VIT: 24 + [1] = 25

DEX: 34 + [1] = 35

END: 19 + [0] = 19

INT: 7 + [0] = 7

WIS: 8 + [0] = 8

CHA: 5 + [0] = 5

LUK: 19 + [0] = 19

Defense: 10

AP: 8 + [3] = 11


"Lucky dog," Naruto thought.

He himself had not levelled up be he was close. What happened just now had been close. But, in the end, the evasive rat hadn't escaped in time. Kaso the fire rat was dead. The strategy had been something Naruto thought of when Kaso had recuperated and when the rats had been culled to a considerable amount. Many tunnels and crevices had been laced with a series of [Lowest Ranking Exploding Tags] and while not all the tunnels had them, and it the strategy was a gamble, Kaso had made the mistake of going to one that did. Let's see how the boss liked dealing with a trap.

"Dumb rat," Naruto smirked. The boy knew that there was a chance of the rat trying to make a break for it if it got the chance. Naruto was just glad he managed to place them in the right tunnel.

"Now, let's see what we got here," he smirked. The first item was a scroll, much like with the zombie and the boar the boy didn't bother wondering why it had it and just rolled with it.

Senka no Jutsu (Flashfire Technique) D-Rank. Lv 1. 0% to Next Lv| Mastering Speed: C| A technique similar to the Shushin no Jutsu that allows one to move at incredible speed while it simultaneously flares their chakra brilliantly, blinding them and potentially impeding their vision. As a result, this makes it an excellent technique to use when wanting to land a While initially superior to the Shunshin in terms of speed, unlike the Body Flicker, the Flash Fire Skill only allows one to travel in a linear fashion. |CP usage varies on distance, time, and actions used.|

• Increases [Movement Speed] by 150% when activated.

• Increases Critical Hit chance 30% when activated.

• 30% chance of causing [Visually Impaired] debuff when activated (foes must be within a two meter radius)

• Become [Undetectable] for 10 seconds when deactivated (foes must be within five level your own or lower and user must be out of sight)

Requirements:

65 DEX, Mastery of One Speed Based Skill, Mastery of two Fire Based Skills


Hinezumi no Kōgaito (Crimson Cloak of the Fire Rat) - (Epic Quality)

Item Type: Cloak

Durability: 200/200

Defense: 25

Description: An extremely rare and ancient object made from the hide of a powerful fire rat. Few of these cloaks were ever made and all of them were thought to be lost or destroyed. The hide from the fire rat is composed of naturally occurring chakra absorbing fibers, allowing the cloak to both negate fire and absorb it, but has a terrible reaction towards water. Unlike most cloaks the material used in making this is not only very durable but extremely light.

Bonus Perks: Fire Immunity [Max LV], Fire Eater [Lv 1], Fire Master [Lv 1]

Unique Item Skill: Hari Hi no Nezumi (Shroud of the Fire Rat), Kaiyoken (Fist of the Sun)

Fuinjutsu Slots Available: [One Major Slot], [Two Minor Slots]

Flaws: Hydrophobia [Max LV]

Usage Requirements: Fire Affinity


"HOT DAMN!" Naruto cheered at the find. While [Senka] was awesome technique to learn, at the moment it was going to take a while before Naruto could even learn it. Any disappointment he had instantly evaporated after seeing his next loot.

"In your face, teme! I got an awesome fire cloak and you don't!" it was practically Christmas for the boy and Naruto couldn't be any happier. "Totally worth it!" he grinned and decided to put it on. Not bad, he thought. The hood that came with it was a nice touch too and he had to admit that deep crimson was a very good color on him. Even if it did sort of clash with his current attire's colors.

"Note to self: Future armor must not clash with cloak's color," Naruto wisely decided.

"Hrmmr?" Hotto was confused but his partner's behavior.

Either way the cloak would still offer him better defense. Picking up the last bits of loot, Naruto, though disappointed there wasn't a soulstone this time, found a near replica of what he found in the last dungeon. Only this time it was red in color.

Hi no Kagi (Fire Key) - Very Rare Quality

Item Type: Quest Item

Durability: One-Time Use

Description: A special key found in the dungeon chest of Training Ground Two. What its current use is for is currently unknown.

"Another one?" thinking back on it, Naruto did get a quest saying to locate them, "Might as well get the other three," if it was anything like his games he likely would get very good loot. Naruto smiled as a pop-up appeared, but his face threatened to split in two when he saw the last one.


Skills Level Up List

Observe [Lv 9 ~ Lv Max]

Intimidation [Lv 1 ~ Lv 3]

Basic Blunt Weapons Mastery [Lv 11 ~ Lv 14]

Basic Blade Weapons Mastery [Lv 14 ~ Lv 16]

Saigeki [Lv 7 ~ Lv 8]

Ryoku Boku [Lv 9 ~ Lv MAX]

Katon: Inka [Lv 6 ~ Lv 7]

Doton: Doran [Lv 5 ~ Lv 7]

Futon: Shisenkou [Lv 1 ~ Lv 4]

Futon: Fuhajin [Lv 1 ~ Lv 3]

Instant Dungeon Creation [Lv 1 ~ Lv 2]

Chakra Nagashi [Lv 5~ Lv 6]

Crafting [Lv 4 ~ Lv 5]

Hayagake [Lv 1 ~ Lv 4]

Detect Bloodlust [Lv 4 ~ Lv 9]

Detect Presence [Lv 11 ~ Lv 19]

Konoha Gōka [Lv 5 ~ Lv 7]

Shō [Lv 3 ~ Lv 4]


|Congratulations! Your [Instant Dungeon Creation Skill] has increased!|

You can now perform the following:

[Time Dilation for Creation Dungeons: 1:4 Ratio]

[Time Dilation for Natural Dungeons: 1:2 Ratio]

[Enter Zombie Dungeon V1.5]

[Enter Haunted Woods V1.0]


Afternoon everyone! Sorry for the delay! Here is the chapter that was promised and an early Christmas, Kwanza, Hanukah, or whatever holiday you celebrate gift! Please leave tons of reviews and I'll update as soon as possible. Right now, though, I will be doing a couple of chapters for my other stories. Happy holidays!


Yes, there was an update on Friday. No, it wasn't a false one. For whatever god damn reason, Fanfiction was acting up and still is but I doubt they are gonna do any about it. I was getting messages saying "I can't read the story. Only one review can be viewed out of seven and my hits/views remain at zero where by now it should be well over 1500. I have well over 12K followers for this story and zero or so few views in the hundreds at the end of the day when before I had 3000 makes no sense.

Thank you, for disappointing me again,

In addiiton, I also recently made a profile on Archive of Our Own under the same title and name I have here, which will have pictures to offer better visuals of what is happening in the story. Sorry that this bullshit is happening.

Also, a bit of new info has popped up that was not well advertised by Fanfiction Admins and for those who have accounts may want to go to their accounts and go to 'Alerts' and then 'About' and enable some stuff as recent bots and updates might have reset them so you don't get chapter emails or updates or story updates or any alerts like you normally would. You may also have to do what's below as well in order to get them as well.

Gmail:

Log into your Gmail account via your browser of choice. On the left side column, click "Contacts"; Click the "+ Person" symbol on the upper left hand side to add a new contact; Type bot (at) fanfiction .com" under "Email" field and then click "Save".

Yahoo Mail:

Log into your Yahoo mail account via your browser of choice. On the left side column, click "Add" to the right of "Contacts"; Type bot (at) fanfiction .com into the "EMail:" field and then click "Save".

Outlook (Live/Hotmail):

Log into your Outlook account via your browser of choice. Click "Options", then select "More Options"; Under "Junk e-mail", click "Safe and blocked senders", then select "Safe senders"; Type bot (at)fanfiction .com into the field and click "Add to List".