Uzumaki Naruto had just stolen the Scroll of Sealing.
He had outpaced his puruers with ease-as he always had-and now he sat down to admire his handiwork. Grinning from ear to ear, he unfurled the scroll, eager to peer into the contents that lay within the dusty confines that had been left untouched for decades. He opened it, with bated breath. Nothing happened. What could be heard were those few creatures of the night that prowled this deeply in the forest. And still, he waited.
There was a surprising lack of the dust he had anticipated. No matter, he mused. As long as he could learn at least one of the forbidden techniques hidden within, maybe then he would at long last receive the recognition he so rightly deserved. Taking a flashlight between his teeth, heedless of attracting attention to himself, he began to rifle through its spacious content.
"Let's see, the first techinque is...what?"
He blinked slowly, his eyes opening and closing within an infinite slowness. What was this? There wasn't anything pertaining to the jutsu he had so ferverently sought. Instead of finding knowledge pertaining to forbidden techinques, he found a name, his name, actuallyt. Strange. Why would his name be inscribed upon the scroll of sealing? And what were these others that were inscribed next to it?
It was a letter, Naruto realized.
A letter with very specific instructions, most of which, were addressed to him. Whomever had written said letter had a strange right-handed scrawl to their writing, and there were places in which he could hardly make out one syllable from the next. They, whomever they were, wrote even worse than him. If not bordering on outright illegible. The kanji were blurred and blotted in places, but...
As he read onwards, he felt his mind growing numb. He felt his nails dig into his palms.
If you're reading this dear, then, unfortunately, I, Kushina Uzumaki, am dead. I also know that if you're reading this, then you're hurting. And if you're hurting, then maybe what I'm about to say will remind you of something, something very important. I love you. I love you so so SO very much. I know that might not be enough, I know that you wish that we'd been there and I wish your father and I had the chance to say it to you more often.
Also, in case you don't know, you're the vessel of the Nine-Tailed Fox. Your father has sealed it into you. I'm writing this letter to you with my dying breath, and I really wish I could explain, but I can't, and for that, I'm sorry. I am so very, very sorry. We never wanted this for your Naruto. I thought you might be able to live a normal, peaceful life, but it seems that won't be the case.
You might even be angry at me. And if you are, that's alright. I want you to use that anger, Naruto. Take it and make it your power. Your strength. Don't let anyone treat you as anything less that what you believe you are. I've lived by these words all my life, and, hopefully, you will too.
Peace is a lie. There is only passion. Through passion, I gain strength. Through strength, I gain power. Through power, I gain victory. Through victory, my chains are broken. The Force shall free me.
You're special son. You always have been. You always will be, without or without me. You are not as alone as you might think. There are others like you, you just have to know where to look. Also, I hope the holocron contained within this scroll will be of some use to you. (As well as whatever else you might be able to get your hands on)
I'll say it once again:
I love you.
Remember that and keep these words with you, always.
P.S: Tell old man Sarutobi I want my lightsaber back =D.
"That's it?" Naruto blinked rapidly, dumbstruck by it all. "After all this, that's it?"
It was the final straw. Weeks of fear, hunger and fatigue, on top of years of doubt and disillusion suddenly brought Naruto's fragile edifice crashing down. He had done all he could do, and there was simply nothing left in him to give. He felt his knees lurch beneath him and then he toppled forward onto his hands and knees. So it was true then, after all. He'd had parent's. They'd loved him.
"No." He whispered.
All this time he'd secretly hoped, secretly dreamed, but to be denied any real knowledge of his parents...
It was then that his hand brushed across something rectangular in appearance. Nestled next to it was something that vaguely resembled a cube. His fingers brushed across it in idle curiosity. It prove to be the worst and best mistake of his life. Suddenly, and without warning, the cube came alive in his hands. Splaying a golden-red light about the clearing, it left him reeling as dozens upon dozens of images and obscure languages flashed through his eyes.
"What are these...!"
It was in that instant that he heard the screams.
Little did Mizuki know that he had orchestrated his own demise. He had no way of knowing, really, that he had been found out. His plot discovered, plans undone, the wrath of an ancient civilization mere seconds from being brought down upon his head. So absorbed was he in his "interrogation" of Iruka Umino, that he did not notice the sound creak of branch and vine as a figure settled into the canopy just above his head.
Someone snarled; it was a deep throaty sound.
"Don't you fucking touch him!"
Mizuke paused, his smile flickering for the briefest instant.
Standing upon a nearby bough, the Scroll of Sealing wedged firmly in a hand, was Uzumaki Naruto. The academy student glowered down at him murderously. Both eyes were reddened and bloodshot, as if he'd only just finished crying, which, in all likelihood, he had.
He'd been made for a fool. All this time, he'd wondered why he'd been shunned, not just by the other children, but by the village itself. They'd treated him like trash, no, less than trash. Always avoiding him, always thumbing their noses at him. He'd wanted to belong so very badly, and for what? To this? To this misbegotten rabbble of scornful and wretched people? Who, all the while, had strung along him with breadcrumbs and lauded their own ignorance over him, never guessing, never knowing...
"Give me the scroll, Naruto-kun." Mizuki held out his hand.
"W-What?" his rage evaporated, replaced by confusion.
"Just give it to me." Mizuki's words were both harsh and hypnotic. "That is, unless you want Iruka to get hurt?"
"You lied to me." Naruto accused, caught off guard. "Iruka-sensei had nothing to do with this!"
"Figured that out on your own, did you?" The chunin sneered. "Now then, we can do this the easy way, or the hard way."
Naruto looked upon Mizuki and he saw the epitome of all his suffering and torment, personified in this spiteful creature that called himself a shinobi. Where had those thoughts come from just now? Certainly not the mind of a fourteen-year-old boy. But the longer he stared at him, the more the hatred intensified. He could hear Iruka's words pleading with him, begging him to run from this man with his honey sweet smile and outstretched hand...
The word burned like a brand in the back of his mind. He recoiled against it, then examined it more closely. What possible reason could bring Mizuki to attack Iruka-sensei and why, for that matter, would he? Somewhere, somehow, he hoped this wasn't real. But no, this was no illusion. Mizuki was standing over Iruka-sensei, hands slimmed with the blood of his superior, of Naruto's teacher. Iruka Umino yet lived, but the sight of the blood caused something wrenched at something deep within his chest. No. No, why would Mizuki possibly...
Abruptly, his mind flooded with images.
"Iruka just wants you to become truly strong, Naruto-kun."
"I'll tell you a secret."
Mizuki mistook his silence for something that it was not.
It would prove to be a costly mistake.
"If that's the way you want it, then." Mizuki managed a half-turn, a silver iris reappearing over his shoulder as he palmed the giant shuriken strapped to his back. "I'll just-
"I said don't touch him!" Naruto screamed, and when he screamed, something happened. Something wonderful. Something terrible. Something so horrible that, for a moment he was almost giddy, and that disgusted him. In the instant that he cried out in protest, wishing-no, demanding with every living fiber of his being that Mizuki not harm Iruka, the air began to boil between the two of them.
Naruto hadn't any rhyme or reason; because he hadn't a clue as to what he was doing. One moment he'd been standing there, helpless and impotent. The next, a wave of cleansing hatred flowed through him and he flung his hands forward. All the pain, all the suffering, every travesty and hardship that he'd ever endured flowed through him in that instant and emerged as raw power.
The result was spectacular.
His ears rang, such was the energy he released. The forest floor buckled beneath him; branches snapped and trees tore. Mizuki gawped wordlessly as the a wall of earth and debris roared over him; and then he was no longer earthbound. Iruka flung up a hand before his face, lest the onrushing destruction consume him as well. When it didn't, he warily lowered the limb and bore witness to a spectacular sight.
Mizuki was gone.
In his place, a hand jutted from beneath what had once been a tree. Now, it was blackened and twisted by the arcane force that had wrested it from its roots, the once proud oak served as the final resting place for the traitorous chunin. For a terrifying second, Iruka didn't know what to make of it. Then returned his attention to the baffled boy who stood above it all, his gaze locked unflichingly upon the ruination that surrounded him.
"Naruto...what have you done?" he asked.
Naruto's only response was to turn his attention toward Iruka.
"Are you alright, sensei?"
"W-What?" Iruka blinked, taken aback by the sudden concern. "Y-Yes, its just a few minor injuries."
"He hurt you." Naruto answered blankly, his sensei still recovering from the shock of it all. "You're bleeding."
"And you killed a man!" Iruka shouted! "That's something to be concerned about, too!"
Naruto didn't even bat an eyelash at the remark
"Yes, I killed him." He replied dully. "What of it?"
Iruka opened his mouth to condemn his student and-
"I can't believe this."
(In the present)
"I can't believe this." Karin interjected.
"And what's not to believe?"
"That you grew up sad and alone." Karin countered. "And yet, looking at you know, you're nothing like this pitiful little boy you've described to me thus far." She pushed up her glasses further from her face. You say you're career is over, isn't it?"
"Retired." Naruto countered.
"And your friends?"
A sorrowed look crossed his visage.
"Expired." Naruto conceded at last. "Most of them feared me to begin with, but, after Mizuki's...accident..."
"Honestly! Don't tell me you killed them, too!"
"Heavens, no." Naruto waved her concerns away. "I am a gentleman, Karin-san."
"And yet you crushed a fellow shinobi beneath a tree." Karin shivered.
"Ex-fellow shinobi." Naruto countered darkly. "He was a traitor. He used me, he threatened Iruka, and for that, he perished."
Karin paused to take a sip of her drink at that.
"Just...who are you?" She swallowed, shuddering at the mere mention of Mizuki's death. "Even as a child were you truly that cruel?"
Naruto laughed hoarsely, caught in the beginning of his tale.
"Do you find this amusing?" Karin accused.
"Hardly." He dimissed her accusation. "Back then, I wasn't even a shadow of what I am now."
"And what are you now, exactly?" Karin prodded.
"I am a fly in the ointment, a whisper in the shadows, and also, a very old, old man. More than that you need not know." The smile didn't quite reach his bandages. "But back then I was young, and as such, I was also very, very foolish." He dabbed a hand to his bandages. "How do you think it was that I receive this wound, hmm?" He paused, and Karin felt like he was actually looking at her beneath the bandages.
It was an eerie sensation.
"Shall I continue?" He asked presently.
And so he continued.
A/N: Well, now, I wonder what fate befell oru favorite blond? I suppose you'll have to keep reviewing until the chapter, or, until my eyeballs wither and fall out...although, being a skeleton, I have no eyeballs! SKULL JOOOOOOKE! YOHOHOHO!