Chapter 16: Konoha no Monshuu (Crests of the Leaves)

~Tatsumaki no Mon - Crest of the Tornado~

Naruto woke up feeling as if a gang of Orks were dancing around in his head while he was in a hangover.

Being Naruto, of course, he didn't let it get him down, he opened his eyes, despite the evil that was the Sun, and looked around.

Pretty-pretty lights!

He giggled. Then he giggled some more.

"BLOOD!" He cried out loudly. "BLOOD! THERE'S BLOOD! SO MUCH BLOOD!"

"Uzumaki-san, calm down!" A nurse came running in as soon as he began screaming and thrashing on the bed. "There is no blood here!"

"THERE! LOOK! BLOOD! IT'S EVERYWHERE! EVERYWHERE!" Naruto kept screaming trying to remove himself from the blood that tried to drown him, though in truth it was only the sheets. "YOU! Blood! Take it off! Take it away! BLOOD! No more blood! NO MORE!"

Seeing his wide, frantic eyes, the nurse pushed a small button on the side of her bed that quickly administered a few powerful anaesthetics that nocked the blonde out in an instant. "Ah... I always knew that the Kyuubi would drive that boy mad... it's only a matter of time until the demon breaks him. Maybe it would be best I put him out of his misery-"

"Incorrect." An emotionless voice interrupted the nurse, an ANBU appearing from the corner. "That is not the result of the Kyuubi, but rather of what this child was forced to do."

"And what did he do? He killed, murdered, butchered, a bunch of people! I was there, in the arena when he... he cut them to pieces! It's been two days and we're still trying to gather up the pieces!"

"Not that. The gennin's strongest technique splits his awareness, his mind, into many pieces. He has the chakra to split himself over three thousand times. When the technique is over, all the pieces are instantly pulled back to the original, carrying with them all of their experiences." He let that sink in for a moment. "Even five minutes of combat, three thousand 'selves' would mean at least three dozen kills, by miss, luck or chance. And this gennin had this technique active for over an hour."

The nurse didn't reply, but her ashen pale face, the realization of why this boy was screaming about 'blood', suddenly hit her with the force of a sledgehammer. She might have been a doctor, she might have learned many medical jutsu, but she had never been an active-duty shinobi, she never saw the killing being done, only its after effect. "T-Then this boy..."

"He bears a burden that most ANBU haven't even considered. The last person who bore it was Uchiha Itachi, and we all know how that ended." There was a moment of quiet in honor of the destroyed clan. "But, dare I say, this boy is stronger mentally than even Itachi. He has carried the burden of everyone's hate, the constant isolation and ostracism, and yet he has been this stable... No, the Bijuu has had little to no effect on his personality. He needs time to recover however, conscious time, so he can deal with what happened."

"I... see..."

"Oh, and I'm going to bring him a small flower pot, do not remove it. I know it calms him down to garden."

...

The next day Naruto woke again, his eyes seeing blood cover the walls, but at least this time there was a nurse who calmed him, and Inoichi who gave him counseling. Still, neither of the two could completely follow the boy's shattered mind as he jumped from subject to unrelated subject with alarming frequency. Changing from a discussion of blood to talking about 'up and down' mid-sentence was quite unsettling, but Inochi was rather hopeful since he noticed that every time the blonde hopped from one subject to the other, his eyes cleared up a little bit more. Apparently, this chaotic changing of focus was what he did to 'recover' the parts of him that had been shattered.

It was still over a week after his first waking up that Naruto became... gathered... enough to ask about the old man Hokage.

"Sandaime-sama is still comatose." Inoichi had replied, watching as the boy randomly sketched unrelated words, numbers and shapes, even just splashes of colors that were made with alarming focus and control. "But he is still alive, though we do not know for how long... His system was overloaded with a vast, and dangerous, amount of steroids and stimulation chemicals, not to mention his keirakukei spontaneously creating almost two dozen extra tenketsu from an unforeseen burst of chakra that had filled him." Inoichi gave the boy a curious look but continued when he didn't stop drawing. "He will recover eventually, we hope, as this kind of effects aren't completely unknown, even if we have never seen them all together in one moment, but the truth is that Sandaime-sama is old. His body... doesn't recover as it used to... In all probability, he will be permanently weakened as his chakra coils will never recover all of their lost power. Sandaime-sama cannot be Hokage any more."

By now the blonde had slipped back into catatonia, even his breathing had seemingly stopped, and Inoichi got up to leave, he knew that those episodes were mostly so Naruto could 're-archive' his shattered thoughts and memories, and it was a process that lasted for several hours at a time.

...

A day later, a song could be heard, unexpectedly resounding through all the corridors of the Hospital, despite being rather low in decibel range;

"I... want to destroy and annihilate...

Devastate and exterminate...

I... want to bring destruction to you aaall~"

And the insane laughter that followed that would haunt many a nightmare of a doctor.

But still no one could tell how the blonde made the little flower grow to cover every wall with thorny vines and large, red blooming flowers... Especially since it was supposed to be a cactus with yellow flowers and he had no tools.

~Okami no Mon - Crest of the Wolf~

Shadows.

Shadows were the most dominating part of the location, its strongest characteristic.

Shadows, and the predator that stalked in them, with mismatched, red and black, eyes.

He was a predator. He was a hunter. He was a stalking wolf.

He was a stalking wolf with no prey.

He could feel his instincts scream at him to speak the code that would unlock the doors so he would release his killing aggression, so he would hunt and kill once more.

He could also feel his watchers looking at him from the closed camera circuit.

He was a wolf in man's clothing and he was struggling to contain his emotions, his predatory desires.

Hatake Kakashi shivered in the dark as he tried to control 'Shi. His alter ego had been unleashed in a major way in the invasion, a couple of days, or was it weeks?, ago.

Not only had he depended on his ANBU persona to fight during the first stages of the Arena fight, but when Naruto almost lost consciousness from the use of his latest technique, Kakashi had been forced to pick up the pace.

Hijaking a technique is considered next to impossible, but few shinobi have a sharingan along with the ability to fight perfectly well without it. Even fewer have explored the limits of their bloodlines to the extent Kakashi had; having an incomplete bloodline in his eye, he explored and experimented with it until he could no longer, far beyond what any Uchiha had probably gone before.

After the blonde had used his Mori Yuurei Guntai, the chakra use had been... explosive. It had also tired out the blonde very quickly; not even he could cover the entirety of the village, only the majority, which had left quite a few enemy ninja still wandering in the few districts that had been outside Naruto's range. Unfortunately, one of the enemies in the arena had had a flare which he had used; an attack-signal that had any enemies left swarming the arena in order to take down the high-priority targets there. And with Naruto mostly out of it, Kakashi had had to remove the leash from 'Shi.

So, he hijaked Naruto's Konohagakure no Jutsu. By synchronizing his chakra and substituting his own for his student's in select leaves, Kakashi had suddenly found several points in the arena that he could simply spontaneously appear and disappear.

For an assassination-specialist, that is pretty much the ultimate trump card.

But even that had not been enough, mostly because he couldn't just cut loose and focus on offence, he had to defend the others too.

'Releasing' his restraints on his other personality also triggered a psycho-somatic effect much akin to an adrenalin surge. That coupled with the opening of the first two Gates had turned Kakashi into a killing machine.

Unfortunately, this created an overdose of testosterone and adrenaline, which in turn caused an increase in aggression and killer instincts.

Hence why now Kakashi had been put in isolation until he could fully control himself and not accidentally stab anyone that came within reach of him.

At least 'Shi had waited until Kakashi had taken Naruto up to the roof where the Sandaime had fallen. Since the blonde's own chakra had been used in the creation of the fruit he had given, the boy's chakra had already the 'affinity', or 'sympathy', required to best affect the old man's deteriorating status.

"Kakashi-senpai." A voice came from a suddenly-transparent wall. Before even the second letter was out, a long, sharp rock shaped remarkably like a kunai had impaled several inches into the wall, right where the right eye behind the animal mask appeared to be. "Your students have just awoken."

'Shi didn't dignify it with a reply. He only sent more kunai stabbing into the wall, kunai made of stone he had ripped off the walls and floor and reshaped into weapons, without the use of tools or chakra.

'Not enough yet... More time... More calm...' Kakashi thought internally, trying to control his own instinct to murder.

The shadows deepened. He would spend many hours here.

~Tate no Mon - Crest of the Shield~

Opening his eyes was beyond a chore, it was torture.

But the sheer amount of pain he felt, not just bruise-pain, or muscle-pain, not even cut-pain, but a deeper, resonating, more profound sense of pain, it was enough to tell him that he should open his eyes fully to face the music.

Because, even though he didn't remember much at the moment, he knew that being in pain means that there had been a fight. And if there had been a fight, there had been people, his people, who had been hurt. As their Hokage, he had to tend to them.

"ANBU." Even though his throat felt parched as the desert and his body was lethargic, he was still the freakin' Hokage and he could make his voice sound as a dominating command at any state he might have been.

"Hokage-sama." The responce was immidiate as the stationed ANBU personnel appeared, kneeling next to his bed.

"Urgh... Raise me, so I can look at you." And so the ANBU did, raising the back of his bed. "Thank you. Now. Give me a report from the moment I fell after Orochimaru fled."

"Yes, Hokage-sama. After your loss of consciousness, the remaining combined forces of Oto and Suna were pushed back into a retreat, for the most part having been already rounded up." The ANBU began, saving the details for the full-debriefing. Hokage-sama probably wouldn't care about a gennin or two. "Medics had already been on alert from the second the barrier had been erected and so were quick to come to you. According to medical file reports, your keirakukei almost tore itself from the inside out and there was a sudden, almost-lethal level increase of chemical stimulators. The medic team finally stabilized you and you were, as per protocol, transported to the underground medical care facility."

"Yes, I had deduced as much." The Hokage waived it off, he was a sharp man after all and this place wasn't the civilian, or even shinobi, hospital. And he had detected the shinobi that had been on the location. "Tell me of the civilians and Suna, what happened afterwards? And, if you know, what happened to Naruto-kun?"

"Of course, Hokage-sama. Suna quickly retreated and professed forceful partitipation and usurping of their Kage, whom they have found a ways outside their Village, dead for months." Of course, he didn't say that Suna had suspected foul play, but didn't care enough to report it, they had been overcome by their thirst for revenge... and paid the price for it. "The Civilian Council tried to press for charges, not even realizing their own Kage had been replaced is most ashaming and condemning of them, along with several trade agreements." In other words; spoils of war. "Several members made concerted attempts to gain more political clout, but their actions were denied by the Shinobi Council and the Acting Leadership." Politics, it was always about damn politics.

Konoha's council was split in three parts. The first part was the Civilian Council, made up by major merchant guilds and other administrative posts. The second part, the Shinobi Council, was made of the major clans of Konoha as well as major shinobi forces leader, such as the head of T&I, ANBU and others. Finally, the Elder Advisors, Homura and Koharu, were Sarutobi's second in command and those responcible for running Konoha in his stead. It was a rather effective system; everything was split between the two coucils, the Civilian side taking care of peacetime ventures, and the Shinobi side which took care of wartime proceedures. Both of them were ruled and controlled by the Elder Advisors and the Hokage himself.

The Acting Leadership were a select few chosen people that had control of various parts, and those parts only, in the case the Hokage was unable to command at a time. It was composed of hand-picked members, such as the acting ANBU Chief, Homura, Koharu, Danzou and others.

But, while the system was quite good, if not perfect, but then again nothing is, there was always the element of Human, in this case Greed. At least, for all their faults, his Acting Leadership group was able to 'tame' each others greed and find a golden cut in most problems.

"Oto has officially been declared as an Enemy of the Villages." That was a mostly pointless designation, meaning that a village, or large organization of ninja or other elements, was a major force against the tentative peace. It could be either good, making that force an enemy of everyone who wished for peace, or a bad thing, as it easily revealed someone as a possible agent for future warmongers and trouble-makers. "Suna has ceased all offencive activity and the prisoners have been assembled in safepoints for future negotiations." In other words; prisoners for concessions. Damn politics, like a chess game with human lives as pawns. "The Shinobi Coucil has activated all reserve shinobi and has several patrols stationed. All communications out of the village have been stopped."

"Ah." It was protocol after all. "And what of Naruto-kun? And I did see a bijuu outside our village, what about it?"

"Jinchuuriki Uzumaki Naruto," The ANBU began, getting a glare at the inhuman way he referred to the boy. "used a powerful jutsu, that he created himself according to Acting-Jounin Hatake," Once an ANBU, always an ANBU, Kakashi was merely 'called' a jounin, but he would always be an ANBU. "to assist the fight, but was almost completely exhausted after it. Apparently, he still recovered enough energy to aid the medic team after the fight was over." Even the voice-distortion seals, the mask and the emotional training of the agent wasn't enough to fully mute the respect that colored his voice.

It made Sarutobi smirk. Hate him or love him, no one could just deny his surrogate grandson.

"As for the Bijuu, it was a limited manifestation of the Ichibi no Tanuki, named Shukkaku, located within Jinchuuriki Sabaku no Gaara, son of the Kazekage. Gennin Uchiha Sasuke defeated it on his own, though not without support, even if agents discovered no additional help besides the same's teammate, gennin Haruno Sakura." Now Sarutobi raised an eyebrow, and it wasn't the audible respect he was getting from his ninja. "Unfortunately, Gennin Uchiha has yet to awaken from the results of his fight." Now that was worrying, actually. "Jinchuuriki Sabaku apparently had use of some unconventional and unexpected techniques; we detected powerful remnants of Lightning and Fire chakra over both external and internal injuries on Gennin Uchiha's body. However, the Jinchuuriki Sabaku has never shown such affinities before, instead they belong to Gennin Uchiha, confirmed by the latter's chakra signature as well." The ANBU was very obviously confused as he looked to the side. "We speculate that Gennin Uchiha used both Raiton and Katon at the same time to power a technique that would pierce through the sand-based defence of his opponent, with it being a mixture of Fuuton and Doton. However... it is most peculiar in the fact that, not only the amounts of chakra used were far more than Gennin Uchiha should be able to produce for a few years more, but also, they were mixed together, though not fused."

"Explain."

"Our speculation from the results of the fight, marks on the body and evidence of the fight scene, point to the fact that Subject Uchiha layered a shell of Raiton over a cluster of Katon. However, it is not as straightforward as this; there was quite a common ground between the two types, but they were still separate and able to retain their original properties." The ANBU looked down in shame. "We do not understand how, but it seems Gennin Uchiha either found a way to force his chakra affinities to... cooperate, for lack of better explanation, or he possesses a second Kekkei Genkai, of which not even Acting-Jounin Hatake has ever been made aware or suspicious of."

Sarutobi rubbed his head tiredly. He was too darn old for this shit. "Very well, you are dismissed. And tell Jiraiya-kun, who stands outside that door, to come in."

"By your command, Hokage-sama." And the ANBU was gone, only a second later to be replaced by the last loyal Sannin.

"Yo, old man!" The white-haired man greeted exuberantly, but quickly stopped at the glare of his sensei. "Yes, I did have a few clones following high priority targets, and yes, that does include Sasuke." The Sannin took a seat on his old teacher's bed. "I saw the fight, though I hadn't found need to interfere. The boy had one of my youki suppressing tags, though I had readied myself to slap mine on the berserk jinchuuriki had that failed. Anyway, I don't know what really happened, but the boy ate a weird fruit, looked like a large, violet grape or something, and then exploded with more chakra than I have." Then he looked down, grimmer than ever. "What really creeped me out was that, it wasn't just his chakra that was generated... but also Orochimaru's." That drew a surprised and fearful look from his master. "Yeah, I know about the boy's seal, but that should have still been impossible, not in that kind of levels... No, I think Orochimaru's Cursed Seals are more than just sealing, but you never let me take his former apprentice for an in-depth study trip."

"Because, I know very well, what could happen, Jiraiya-kun. She was compeltely unstable at the time and after that..."

"Yeah, yeah I know... Anyway, I also saw the boy do some kind of weird movements, looked somewhat like seals, but he didn't just place his hands, he moved them in specific ways... The next thing I know, he's covered by an armor of fire and lightning and moving fast enough to outpace many jounin. Frankly, it looked scarily like the Raigeki no Yoroi that both the Raikage and that nutcase Kurosuki Raiga use. On the other hand, Kakashi doesn't know the jutsu, so I have absolutely no idea where he learnt it from. That's... very troubling..."

"Yes, I understand... Now, tell me, what's my condition."

Jiraiya flinched, he wished it wouldn't have been him to tell his old master. "Not... Not good... We almost lost you, hell, we would have lost you had it not been for Naruto coming to donate a shitload of his chakra, he's an Uzumaki alright, he had almost fallen unconscious after his damn-near village-wide jutsu, but he had recovered enough by the time you were done with Oro-teme to give quite a bit. For some reason, his chakra seemed more... I dunno, effective? When applied to you. Anyway, sensei, you're in a pretty bad shape and... you will probably never recover anywhere near your old strength."

"So we need a replacement. And it can't be you." Though it stung that his hard-earned power would be diminished even further, Sarutobi swallowed his pride and pressed on.

"Yeah, no can do in that post. I'd have the kunoichi wearing mini-skirts as formal uniforms. But... we could get Tsunade... She'd even be able to monitor you, too."

"Hm... I don't want to do this, but it's high-time she stopped running from herself and got back. I believe I left her more than enough time to grieve and act like a spoilt princess, it is time for her to remember her duties." Sarutobi agreed; he loved the girl dearly, but that self-destructing attitude was getting... annoying. "So when will I be released?"

"You can walk out at any point you feel well enough, the doctors said... but you must not use chakra for at least a month; your kerakukei was torn apart. They say you not only lost quite a bit of your reserves, but also a good deal of your control. Sorry about this, sensei, but whatever you did up there, it kicked Orochimaru's ass, but if you do it again, it's going to kill you."

"It wasn't something I did, Jiraiya-kun... it was something Naruto did, for me." The Hokage replied, looking piercingly at his student. "I want Uzumaki Naruto, in here, as soon as it is possible. There are many things that have to be said, and I'm not in the mood for games right now. I'm getting way too old for this shit."

The remaining Sannin looked down, embarassed. "About that, sensei... It seems that abusing his Kage Bunshin has had some... nasty side-effects on Naruto's mind." He took a deep breath and decided to speak it, his teacher was glaring at him rather nastily. "His mind was... fractured, for lack of better words, but he's recovering! Inoichi says he will make a full recovery very quickly, the fastest one he's seen! And it isn't like Naruto's mind was broken, it's more like... he became many smaller pieces rather than a large whole, like it got separated to... simplify... and deal with the strain. It's all going very smoothly, according to Inoichi, but he'll be out of it for a while longer."

"Jiraiya... if anything happens to Naruto-kun..."

"Gee, old man," The Toad Sage replied with a smirk. "you're getting sloppy in your old age; you still haven't realized that I am a clone -the original is standing guard personally over the brat." His smirk turned serious. "I am not letting anything harm him. Should Danzou, or any Danzou, try to lay a hand on my godson, I will tear them apart with my bare hands. I abandoned him once. I put the village and his general good over his own good. Kamis be my witnesses, I will not do it a second time; the hands-off approach led to a nice, big fuck-up. Screw the plan, I'm going to take it seriously. I'm not losing their son."

~Tsuki no Mon - Crest of the Moon~

"I will be visiting Hinata-nee-sama today, Father." Hanabi stated as she was having her breakfast in front of her father. Her sister was in the Emergency in the first day and she had wanted to visit her, but due to security lockdown measures, she could only leave her clan residence today. At least her older sister had pulled through finally and was now resting easily. Surprisingly, there was always Neji that stood guard now, he hadn't shown up at all, apparently spending day and night over her bed. 'Most peculiar... Neji-nii-san used to hate her and I, but now he stands vigilant guard over her? Too sudden a change, does it have to do with whatever caused nee-sama's condition to worsen, or was it Uzumaki-sama's display of power? I need to learn more...'

"Why would you wish to see that failure? The elders assure me that she is being treated by experts. I forbid it."

"And yet I am going anyway, Father." Hanabi's calm reply had her father spitting tea, and her grinning internally.

"What? I am still clan head, while you might be my daughter, my word is still Law!" Hiashi exclaimed infuriated, and more than a little bit surprised at Hanabi's blatant insubordination.

"Law? I never obey laws from someone who does not have my respect, Father, and you have long since lost almost all shreds of it."

"Hanabi! Despite you being the heir to the clan, that does not give you the right to talk back to me! I am still your father!"

"Hmm... is that so? Then why are you a mere figurehead to the wills of the Elders?" She sneered back with enough force to match his glare.

"You- You dare!"

"Of course I do. What are you going to do about it? Without the Elders to tell you what to do, you do not have the will to control me." She snapped back and got up to leave.

"Hanabi! Hanabi, I demand that you give me a clear answer!"

The little girl stopped and looked at him critically, judgingly. "Very well. Here is my answer; you do nothing unless told by the Elders. Despite your personal feelings, you always, always do whatever they tell you, regardless of how stupid that is."

"Hanabi! The clan's Elders are older and far wiser than you understand! You may not see it now, but they have always guided our clan to greatness!"

"If you think that a bunch of senile arrogant relics of the past with delusions of grandeur and a complete inability to break free from the past is what has led us to greatness, then Father, you are utterly unworthy of even being considered a 'human'." She growled at him in a rage he had never seen from her. Sure, he had known that Hanabi was strong-minded, but he had never seen such fire burning inside her eyes. "You always obey them! Like a little tool, a slave!" She snarled and Hiashi flinched as if slapped. "They tell you that Mother is fine, and instead of taking her to a doctor to see why she coughs blood, you ignore it! They tell you that it is Hinata-nee-sama's fault that she couldn't defend herself against a jounin when she was a child, and you believe them! They say that you should hate Hinata-nee-sama, and you hate your own child!" Hanabi stopped to take a few panting breaths. "You are a complete failure as a parent, 'Father'." She sneered. "It is you, after all, that has made Hinata-nee-sama so weak."

"Weak? I always push her to grow stronger!"

"NO!" She cried out, whipping her hand to the side. "You always knock her back down every time she gets up! You always blame her for the tiniest flaw in a style that she shouldn't even be learning! You always, always, hurt her for no reason! You always despise your own daughter, seeing her as nothing more than a means to an end! That makes you a failure as a father! What else do you have to be respected for? You failed as a husband when you failed Mother, you failed as a father when you failed nee-sama, you still fail as a clan leader being nothing but a puppet to the clan's elders, you even fail as a shinobi!"

"What did you say!" Hiashi screamed getting up, eyes bulging with his Byakuugan, chakra surging to his hands. As a jounin, his pride in his skills as a ninja was unshakeable. But, there was also the fact, that he couldn't deny Hanabi's words! "Watch your tongue, girl, I am a jounin of Konohagakure, you are not even a gennin!"

"Jounin? HA!" Hanabi laughed at him. "You, a jounin? But you would loose to a gennin like Uzumaki-sama! You think he went all-out against Neji-nii-san? Do not presume his strength to be so little; you were unconscious at the time that he, alone, cleared out half of the invading forces in the Arena, in but a few seconds! You were gone, when he saved my life and virtue! I do not even know if you had not fled the village when he called the very forests themselves to protect Konoha! I saw him, father, I saw him call on a thousand leaves and turn each into a blade wider than I am tall, I saw him fight jounin and beat them! So you should better stop assuming!" She finished, turning on her heel to exit the room and the clan compound. "I am going to visit Hinata-nee-sama."

"Hanabi! Stop where you are!"

"No." She didn't even stop walking. "The moment you told me that I could not visit Hinata-nee-sama, you lost the last shred of respect I had for you, Father. You raised me to give my allegiance to whomever is strongest. You believed that you and the clan Elders were the strongest, but I see the truth now." She paused to look up to the sun. "It is not only age, skill, or even chakra that matters. No, it is something greater, something far more sublime. It is will. The Will to defy your Fate when you do not wish to obey it. The Will to stand up after being beaten down. The Will to defy those who seek to imprison you like a wing-clipped bird. I wonder, if that is what Sandaime-sama called the 'Will of Fire'. But I do know, that you do not have it Father. So, while I do still love you as my Father, while I do still want to believe in you, be your daughter and heir... I cannot. The future clan Head of the prestigious Hyuuga clan cannot be, must not be, a figure head. They need a strong will, a good judgement and the desire to protect the clan. I do not see that in you, or the Elders. So, while I may obey your commands in what I believe you are right in, I will make my own way, if I have to. It is up to you Father, this time. The Elders cannot tell you what to do. So, what will you do? Cut the last tie with your daughter so we have a strictly professional relationship until I grow of age to take the mantle of clan leader, or will you rekindle your will and make our clan into the family that it should be? I, for one, am tired of waiting for you to become a man."

Hiashi couldn't even find the strength in himself to reply or rebuff her words.

Because she was right.

Unbelievably, she was right. When his wife suffered, he trusted in the clan's Elders and did not visit a doctor until it was too late. When Hinata was abducted by a jounin, a jounin for Heavens' sakes!, he quickly blamed Hinata for it, and his brother's death. When Hinata did not take well to the Jyuuken, he did not allow her to learn the healing arts she had wanted, or illusions from her sensei, or even an alternate taijutsu style. When Hinata tried to get close to Neji, to comfort him, he did as the Hyuuga Elders told him to and punished her with excruciating training.

Not once in those many, many years, had Hiashi ever questioned the Elders. They were right, he had thought. They were older, wiser, more experienced, so of course he was to do as they told him.

And now, he had not only lost his eldest daughter to her crippling weakness and his twin brother's son to hate, he had also lost his youngest daughter to the sheer disgust she was feeling at being associated with a weak-willed failure.

"You have failed as a Father. You have failed as Clan Leader. You have failed as a Shinobi. What good are you for, what is left for you to fail?"

"Merciful gods... what have I been doing? What... what should I do?" For the first time in a long time, Hyuuga Hiashi found himself asking questions that no one could answer for him.

...

Entering the medical ward where Hinata was currently placed, Hanabi came across a sight she had never thought she would see. Oh, she had known alright, but she had had yet to see it.

Merely seeing it, made even her remarkable self-control fail to conceal a tiny smile.

Hinata was on a bed, paging through a book on medicinal plants and their uses, Neji sitting next to her and talking to her about the missions and times he came across some of these plants. He was looking on his cousin with such a soft look that one could wonder if that really was Neji or an impostor, let alone the fact that he quickly re-adjusted one of her pillows of his own will, instead of a command.

"Ah, H-Hanabi-chan!" Hinata was known to the Clan at being very spacially aware, even compared to a clan with all-seeing eyes, with the only exception being when she was focusing on something that held her attention, which tended to turn her into a more obsessive single-minded person. "H-how are you d-doing? F-Father?"

"Father is fine, if a bit... indisposed... at the moment, courtesy of the Elders." Hanabi's reply was short and mostly emotionless, as was her demeanor in most cases. Besides, she couldn't afford to let emotions slip her hold now, not with her newer plans at stake. "As for myself, I am well, I was unharmed in the fight, thanks to Uzumaki-sama, who protected both my life and my virtue." Each word was chosen to convey the greatest amount of unemotional-veiled emotion she could. Hanabi was rather pleased to see Hinata's eyes twitch minutely at her mention of 'Uzumaki-sama'. Yes, just as predicted. "I am having trouble finding him since, however." She turned her eyes serious, questioning and as uncertain as would be realistic on her. "I absolutely have to reward him, in whatever way I can, for saving the future clan head of the prestigious Hyuuga clan. That and... I wish a more personal favour from him..." She looked demurely to the ground, every move calculated for maximum suggestiveness, when seen from a particular perspective anyway.

"P-Personal f-favor?" Hinata squeaked out. It was, after all, the perspective Hanabi had been aiming for.

"Yes... A very personal favor... If he would allow me, I would become his student... and more besides." Of course that meant apprentice, but to Hinata... Now for the killing blow. "I even heard that he will be offered a betrothal contract with our clan, to assure he would not release his mighty jutsu to elements that would then destroy our clan, or do it himself, with such huge chakra, I expect that he could wipe our clan out on his own..." Once again, the importance of stressing words in just the right ways and looking at someone in just the right way was instrumental to the success of Hanabi's plan.

With Hinata approaching a tomato, or perhaps a volcano considering, even Neji was forced to supress the chuckle that wanted to escape. "So what else has happened, Hanabi-sama?"

"Oh, many things, including a large sweep of possible spies, which kept me house arrest all this time, unfortunately it also made Uzumaki-sama's trail go cold and now I cannot find him no matter where I look." Oh yes, by repeatedly pointing out to the point of Hinata's interest, Hanabi's words would easily be magnified in importance and make her sister pay far more attention to them than she should. Oh, it was so easy to manipulate her! "I even tried to sneak into his home last night, but alas, it was empty."

And so it went, Hanabi talking about 'Uzumaki-sama' as if he was her new idol, Hinata becoming more and more uncomfortable as she sat on that hospital bed and Neji having to conceal more of his chuckles, as he had caught on to at least a part of Hanabi's plan. Truly, he thought, Hanabi was deserving of the clan Leader title; if she was that manipulative right now, she would be a terror later on! To what end she was manipulating however, Neji had no idea, but he also knew that he should trust the little girl and not reveal her plan to Hinata. If Hanabi was going to such lengths for something, then she had a pretty good reason to do it. Besides, he knew, Hanabi would never intentionally hurt Hinata, well, outside a spar anyway. With Hinata's crush being rather well-known to all who paid attention (which, naturally, excluded the Hyuuga elders and Hiashi himself), the pint-sized Hyuuga would never try to purposefully 'steal' Hinata's chance at the one she wanted.

Which begged the question, what was Hanabi after anyway? The eldest of the three could only speculate, but he had nothing to go on beyond his assumptions.

~Kaji no Mon - Crest of the Flame~

Opening his eyes felt like swimming through molasses; it was slow, painful and absolutely exhausting, but he had to.

There had been no way for him to know how much time had passed, how many hours,days,weeks,months,years,decades,eons,millenia- ok, so it hadn't been millenia, but still...

So he opened his eyes and, like the seasoned shinobi hat he was, he began to evaluate his environment.

Large, unadorned windows with white curtains. Unfomfortably hard bed. Annoying beeping sounds. Completely white walls. Stale stench of medicine and blood and white spirits.

He was in a hospital. Judging by the branches of the tree next to his window, he was not higher than the fourth floor, but higher than the first. Going by the rule of the middle, he was probably in the second floor. It was midday, the shadows were too short, but whether it was before or after, he couldn't tell.

The door banged open as several people barged in, all in lab coats, screaming, shouting, pointing, checking, writing notes and generally pissing him off!

"The subject is awake! The subject is conscious!" One of them crowed and he glared balefully at her.

"Why yes, I am awake, is it such a surprise to you that I would not go and kill myself on a ditch? I am an elite Uchiha, woman, and we do not die that easily." He snapped at her and, as much as he might have liked to refute it, he liked the way her eyes widened, her breath caught and the way she seemed as if she was staring at a predator far bigger than herself.

Like the mouse caught in the gaze of the serpent.

"Uhh... umm... I-I... S-sorry!" And she was out, away from that hostile, crimson eye of the last Uchiha.

"Uchiha-san, are you feeling alright?" The head medic questioned, the rest of the crew going about their business with far less clatter than before.

"Yes, why wouldn't I be? I am no weakling, fool." The boy sneered with such hostility that it made the man flinch and wither away.

"W-well, i-it's that... you have been out for several days now, with very little improvement beyond the stability of your condition. Naturally, we were worried you might be slipping into a coma." He gulped as he saw the glare intensify. "W-well, you had wounds all over your body, so it was a definite possibility we wished to avoid, you see? Most of your injuries had been treated, but only with a field-kit apparently. Haruno Sakura-san, she was the one that notified the ANBU about you and got you back from the forest, she did a great job, almost as good as I would have done, but with only a field kit, she was rather limited in options..."

"Wait, Sakura? She was alone?" Sasuke demanded hotly. "There was no one else when she contacted the ANBU, they didn't find the presence of anyone else?"

"N-No, Uchiha-san, i-is something the matter? Was there someone else as well?" The doctor inquired curiously but immidiately stopped at the murderous look in Sasuke's eyes, even if it was directed to the wall and something only he could see.

'So she left me... She fled, leaving me to be bandaged by that weakling Sakura... Haku... Why did you abandon me? Was it all a trick? Did you lie to me?' Thoughts like burning iron spikes ran through Sasuke's mind, searing pain blossoming, a white darkness that threatened to knock him unconscious.

"No. There was no one. No one else. I was wondering about Gaara and the rest of the Suna team." He quickly changed the subject, though it was far less from an optimal change.

"Ah, yes, Sabaku-san, the children of the deceased Kazekage... They were taken care of as well, at least the worst of their wounds anyway. They are recovering and spending their days in holding cells, though I advise against going to speak with them, we're afraid that Gaara-san isn't exactly the most... stable... of people..."

"Yes, yes, good, now leave me if all you are going to do is hover over me like vultures over a not dead yet beast!"

Such was the commanding force behind his words that everyone packed up and left quickly after it, leaving behind only a tray with high-energy food that Sasuke was quick to devour.

He needed the food after all, even if it tasted worse than wet carboard. He had to grow strong, stronger, he had to be able to challenge all who would stand in his way!

He couldn't trust anyone else, either. Haku had left him behind, abandoned him. Sakura was pathetic. Kakashi was a burn-out of a shinobi. Sandaime was an ancient relic. Hell, even Naruto was-

"Ugh!" Sasuke felt another, new, terrible stab of pain and grabbed his head, trying to make the headache stop.

He hated headaches. He hated that they were not enemies he could fight with steel or fire.

He hated them! They were so annoying, they made him so angry!

They all made him so angry!

Sleep would come for the last scion of the once-great Uchiha clan, but rest did not. Only nightmares, terrors, insecurities, frustrations awaited Uchiha Sasuke in his own mind.

...

When next he awoke, though he had no idea when he fell asleep or for how long, his rage had subsided quite a bit.

No longer did his brain feel like trying to get out of his skull, or a flaming hedgehog spinning madly within the bony confines.

But, though his rage had cooled off, he was still hurt, betrayed, at Haku not staying with him, leaving him even through everything he had done.

'She had no choice but to flee, she is still a nuke-nin.' He tried to convince himself. 'But she didn't even leave a note, she didn't even dress my wounds, she didn't even stay with Sakura-' The rest of him would supply.

And an even more traitorous, sibilant, part of him also told him something else. 'She stayed with you only to get close to Naruto... it was never you, only Naruto, never you, always Naruto-'

His quiet, yet rebellious, thoughts were interrupted by the sound of giggling girls outside his room. Desperate for some news, any news, Sasuke channeled his chakra to his ears. It might not be a technique he has mastered yet, but it is definitely a big help.

"I'm telling you, Na-chan! Uchiha-sama is the greatest! He defeated that big sand demon, on his own!" Sasuke smirked. His legend was growing already! His strength was increasing day by day!

"But, but Hina-chan! You don't know it, do you? It's just rumours, for all we know there might have been someone else there that did the work for him!" The other complained and Sasuke's smirk turned to a scowl. How preposterous! He was an Uchiha, he didn't need anyone to do his work for him!

'Ah, but Haku did help, didn't she? It's not your fault, it's everyone else's, meddling people that keep you weak, pliable, bound by chains-'

"As if! Uchiha-sama defeated that big sand demon, everyone knows it! Plus, he's like so much cooler than that Uzumaki guy!"

"No way! You didn't see Uzumaki-kun! You just ran off to the shelters, but Uzumaki-kun... He was awesome! I saw him, Hina-chan, I saw him because it happened in front of me! He came, you see, when that ugly guy tried to hurt me, I cried for help and... and he was there!" Sasuke could feel the girlish blush on the second girl's face, and he glared. "And not just for me! He did it for the entire village! He was everyone at once, calling up the trees to protect everyone! His jutsu covered the entire village!"

Sasuke cut off the chakra flow with a jerking motion, as if slapped.

He knew what jutsu that had been, the Mori Yuurei. The jutsu that not even Kakashi-sensei could use. The jutsu with such a high chakra cost that it could easily kill even a genius ninja such as him. The jutsu that all but defeated Momochi Zabuza. A jutsu that was cast over the entire village.

"Damn you... Damn you, Naruto... Why do you always have to be out of my league? Damn you..."

And while there was pride in his friend's accomplishments, for even he would admit that the blonde had worked his ass off for every shred of power he ever gained, there was also the burning jealousy, the searing betrayal, the crippling fear that... 'You have already been left behind, abandoned by them... Kakashi hasn't checked on you, Naruto hasn't checked on you, Haku never cared for you...'

~Ken no Mon - Crest of the Sword~

It's been three days after the Invasion and Tenten's grumbling over her home's small forge.

It had been a major fight, and a great test for her growth as a kunoichi, which she was glad for. On the other hand, though, most of her equipment had suffered quite a bit of damage. And not just chipping or a dull edge, some of her weapons were almost unsalvageable, she'd have to break them apart and try to put them back together as something new, if she wanted to at least save something.

"Damn Suna, damn overgrown axe-wielding bastards, damn inferior steel, damn being a freakin' orphan, damn the freakin' civilian council locking my clan's funds..." She muttered as she tried to disassemble one of her kodachi to see if the hilt was salvageable, the blade already broken off.

Growing up as an orphan was never easy, it wasn't meant to be at all, really. But, while Tenten couldn't boast a 'renowned' clan or a bloodline, she did come from a long line of weapon-users and she had inherited their talent. Unfortunately, when her mother died, her father already gone by the time the Kyuubi attacked, Tenten was left parentless... and money-less. The Civilian Council had locked down all accounts from her access, forcing her to make do with only a minor percentage of her family funds. So, all she had to go on were a small amount of money every month, her family's home and forge and a few memories from her mother and grandma Shigure.

Normally Tenten easily makes do with what she has, despite being every bit as girly as any other teenager, she never was one for recklessly spending money or buying fashion-clothes that she wouldn't wear for more than a week, so it wasn't like it cost her much. In fact, being an accomplished blacksmith herself, it was easy to repair her tools, even if she wasn't that good in making them in the first place.

Except... well, except now, where many of her weapons had been worn beyond her ability to repair them. She'd have to combine them as best as she could and make do with missions and the stipend she was allowed until she could rebuild her collection.

Sparing a look to the forge, she deemed the weapons inside to be hot enough for some good ol' hammerin' time, so she removed them and began wailing away, turning her frustration into action, and a few curses to go with them too.

Slowly, the repeated movements of the hammer, the clanging of metal on metal, the deep, musky scent of sweat and soot, the flickering of flames, the feeling of her muscles burning, it all calmed the girl down and allowed her a smile.

Working on the forge had always been one of her favourite past times. It was... comforting in a way, the same way that a good sword was. Wiping her sweat off, she went to the water tap to wash her hands; she might like the feeling of working up a sweat, but it didn't mean she liked being dirty.

A knocking on her door let her know that there was someone at the door. Sighing, and wondering who it could be since she was on recuperational leave, Tenten took off her smith's apron and went to open the door.

What waited her was a very... short, cloaked person. "Um... can I help you, whoever you are?"

Glasses glinted up at her and she saw a wide, almost insane smile. "You are Higurashi Tenten, yes?" He asked and when she nodded, he stepped in, rudely entering the small courtyard. "Just the person I was looking for. I heard quite a few things about you from Tetsuhi-kun."

"T-Tetsuhi-san? But... who are you?"

The man removed his cloak to reveal an old man, short, with spiky grey-brown hair. "I am Ioh, Konoha's greatest weaponsmith! INSPIRATION IS AN EXPLOSION!" Something exploded in the background.

Meanwhile, Tenten was staring at the short weaponsmith as if he were a Kami come down to bless a lowly mortal like her. "I-Ioh-sama?" She knew who he was, of course, any weapons-user, Konohan or otherwise, should know him!

Quite simply, the greatest smith Konoha ever had. Unfortunately, also notoriously hard to get to talk to. He was also Tenten's second-greatest idol, after Senju Tsunade.

"B-But w-w-why would you want to m-m-meet me, Ioh-sama?" The poor, shell-shocked girl asked him, getting a wide grin in return.

"Because, out of all those fools, you are the one who respects my weapons the most! Tetsuhi-kun has often sent your blueprints to me, because he couldn't give them the grandeur your weapons were due! The weapons you were given were more prototypes, early versions of what we could really do." He let the cloak fall to reveal a large sealing scroll marker 'WEAPONS' on the front. "I... have a dream! A world where weapon-users will be respected like any other shinobi! Where ninja will understand the beauty of a blade, the sublime power of a spear! A world where ninjutsu will not be the only way for a ninja to fight, where weapons will be respected!"

The passion in the little man's speech made him look as if flames had erupted around him and in his eyes, flames that quickly spread to cover Tenten as well, the girl jumping up happily. "The feeling of strong steel in your hands!"

"The sound of wind split by a good blade!"

"The smell of iron and oil!"

"The reflection of the moon on a well-cleaned blade!"

Now both of them pumped their fists high, shouting as one. "FOR A WORLD OF WEAPONS, THERE IS NOTHING WE WOULDN'T DO!"

"So this is my offer, Tenten-san!" Ioh continued, holding out the scroll. "You will use my weapons, promote them and make them known to all! I will in turn supply you with arms on discount as well as improve your work!"

A poof of smoke issued forth from the scroll and when it cleared, Tenten was almost crying tears of joy. It was her Mangetsu Shiken! The chain was a bit longer and shinier than before, more sleek and thin but she could tell it was of far superior craftsmanship than before. On one end of the chain was a steel grip that was covered as if with a basket hilt, a small knife blade on the other side. On the other end of the chain was the head, still as beautiful as she remembered, but this time it was made of three different types of metal, each with its own colorations; a softer, grey-ish material in the inside, a hard, silver edge around it and small 'shadows' or weights of black around it.

"M-Mangetsu Shiken?"

"Yes! Tetsuhi-kun told me when you came with the broken weapon, but I was able to quickly reforge it! The black adornments are not just a very precise weight system, but they also create very specific deflection degrees, which should allow you to throw and have it rebound in the exact way that you wish it, instead of random ricochets!" Divine light seemed to shine on the weapon as he passed it over to the girl and then turned to point at the door, the 'flames' around him and Tenten rikindled. "NOW GO! MY STUDENT! SHOW THEM THE POWER OF WEAPONS! INSPIRATION IS AN EXPLOSION!" A random place spontaneously exploded, though no one seemed to notice...

Somewhere, Gai felt like weeping tears of pride...

A/N: New chapter and, from now on, I'll be updating less regularly, or even less anyway. The reason is simple; I'M EMPLOYED BABY!

Yes, your regular, hopefully-likable, insanely philosophical nutcase of an author has finally gotten a job. At 26 years of YOUTH, it's something to be expected, even if the whole thing sucks. Why does it suck? Well, beyond the lack of insurance (which is a problem in Greece generally), I start work at 12pm. That might let me sleep in a little, but it destroys my afternoons!

Soon Guild Wars 2 is coming out and I'm already cursing Greece for being so darn out of the way, preventing me from getting to play in beta. The whole game just looks so... amazing! When it finally comes out, I'm joining, probably as a Mesmer (if they fix clones and phantasms) or a Warrior. Or maybe a Thief. Nah, an Elementalist. Then again, there's always the Necromancer... But the Guardian is awesome too! Damn... Looks like I'll have to wrestle my other two personalities to see which class I'm going to play. *Sigh* Well, you'll be definitely seeing me inside, so as soon as I make a character, I'll be posting the name in a chapter, just so all of us nutcases can meet up, if at all possible. Unite! To the battlements!

Well, beyond that, I hope you liked the chapter. Kind of a different setup, an experiment really, much like what was done in the last few chapters of Naruto Genkyouien (which is an AWESOME story by the way). I would also like to remind you, that this story is still up for adoption.

Also, I want to make a few rants.

A rant against authors who want to write 'fanfiction'... but end up copying the entire world! I'm not saying it's bad to copy the major parts, even minor ones. It's part of the world, the 'mythos', the core of the world. So yeah, they have to stay. But, it's one thing to make a fight where guy A beats guy B, as in canon, and it's a whole other thing to keep the exact damn fight and only changing a few words, if that! And not even 'spells', 'abilities' or 'jutsu', but conversation! There are at least two long fics in my Fav list that have done that; taken a chapter from their canon and freaking copied it word for word! Despite giving new skill sets, despite changing attitudes, relationships, views and knowledge! Despite it all, they didn't even deign to change the minor points of their fights, but copied them exactly! Not even the way the fight ended (see; particular weapon/techniuqe)! But the exact same method of delivery! Example: in canon, villain beats hero with 'sword of doomness +5' to which the hero retaliates by taking it out of his failing body and stabbing the villain. Good? Great! But, here's the crappy fanifction side; despite giving the hero a telekinetic shield, despite giving him intangibility, despite giving him a new way to fight that prevents being in melee combat, the villain still stabs the hero with the same weapon in the same exact way! And the hero follows the exact same retaliation! Not even a variation like 'the hero threw the sword' or 'telekinetically moved the sword' or 'took all the pain inside to use it as fuel to reach a deep meditative state where he commanded the power of the world and brought the freakin' armaggedon'! No; the hero took the sword out, moved at the villain and stabbed him in the exact same damn way! The very purpose of fanfiction is to write something original. I understand that, there come times, where inspiration runs low. That's acceptable, predictable, it happens, we deal with it. But to tell me that, as an author, for all this time you were messing around with the world, not once thought of how you could change an insignificantly small part of a plot point? That, all this time, you never even intended to break from the mould and just wanted to give new names to things? It's like the Naruto stories where Sasuke is cheery and Naruto is broody; the exact damn thing as canon with only a few name changing! People! Be creative! Be unique! Dare to break the mould and make your fic your own! Because, seriously, the next idiot I come across who blatantly copies a world's points in such detail, I'm flaming them! IN REAL LIFE! I will write a review so damning, so scorching, so absolutely bilefull that it's going to become a legend on it's own! So, authors and writers! Get off your asses and make something that is at least marginally different from the original darn it! DO IT OR SOULBLAZER WILL SHOW YOU HOW HE GOT HIS NICKNAME!

The next is against the political system of Greece. Apart from the fact we had a political party that was named 'Pirates' (I wonder if they greet with 'Harr me matey, harr harr' and drink rum), we are a complete bloody MESS! The party which gets the most votes (around 34%) gains a free 50 councillors, out of the 300 that comprise our political structure. Then, the rest 250 are split according to their percentages. Supposedly, this is to make sure the first party can make its government without having to submit to other parties and 'ruin' its election campaign's promises. In truth, that just messes things up; the first party still didn't have the 151 councillors it needs to gain the majority of voting, and it couldn't ally with any other party either! The second party, with about 30% of votes, could ally itself with many other left-wing parties to make a government, but, of course, it still wouldn't get enough councillors because there weren't enough to go around; the first party still kept is bonus 50! So, here we come, several days later, still seeing political leaders going around pissing contests and going for a second election. They conveniently forget that, if the same percentages come around again, it would still remain effed-up! They have to change the election laws, but they can't because they can't even agree on the fact that the country's sinking with the kind of crap they're putting us through! Hell, I'm half-contemplating voting for Golder Dawn, the freaking NAZZIS, if I thought they'd get us unstuck from this entire freakin' pit of complete and utter idiocy! I must say, that some times, I'm really disgusted to even be considered of the same basic material as those mules. I sincerely doubt there are words in the human language that can express my disgust, hate and sheer amount of anger I feel towards these... sub-humans. Had I no parents to consider, or a brother to take care of them, I would have taken on a suicide bombing mission to kill all three hundred bastards. Even if I would be a traitor, even if I would be a murderer, I would gladly, with a smile and full understanding of the sin of destruction of life and the infinite possibilities that can come from a life even as pathetic as theirs, do it. I would gladly do it. I would smile as I tortured them. I would laugh as I broke their minds. I would do unspeakable things to them for the insult that is their very existence. Am I a horrible person for this? Am I unjustified? In the end, am I alone in my thoughts? Will there not be someone without my patience and respect to life that will do it? And I fear that, in the end, we will have no choice but the public execution of three hundred people, good and bad, traitors and patriots, honorable and dishonorable, all to make a new start, away from the two, freaking, families that have dictated what this country would do for over fifty years... I fear for the end of democracy, then, if that is what we must do. I fear, I shudder in fear, at the loss of this, last, freedom. In the end, humans were never meant to be free, where they? In the end, when it is our time to make a choice, we always mess things up, don't we? And yet, I still want to hope, but my cynicism is getting stronger, my disgust at the human race grows fiercer and I... I can barely look at another human being without feeling this murderous feeling of despising their very existence strive to gain control of me. Where are we heading, I ask you? Where the bloody nine layers of hell, are we heading?

And finally, Diablo 3 came out today. Like everyone, I ran to play the game. Like, about ninety-percent of all gamers out there -you know who you are-, I went to play it through a pirated/copied/illegal copy. Well, not so much illegal, as at a friend's PC, since mine gets stuck when I start WinAmp and Word at the same time, much less play a game heavier than Solitaire. So, there I go, to play the game... And I see it requires an online registration. Damn DRM, I say, but I swallow it, after all, it's a good game, why not buy it original and support the company and all the people who slaved over it? So, since I got paid today too, I head to check out a store... SIXTY EUROS? ARE THEY EFFING SHITTING US? Sixty euros is about ONE EIGHTTH of the monthly payment of most recent employees! I mean, alright, I can understand 'quantity for quality', hell, I expect it! But this? Sixty euros for a single-player game that can be run online after a not-so-successful-but-with-many-people experiment? A game that will last less than fifty hours? You'll be paying more than a euro per hour for your single! And I have to have an online connection on top of it? Well, know what I did? I didn't buy the game. I won't. I'm going to wait, patiently, until someone cracks the DRM. Crackers have been on the job since closed beta, even the 'Friends and Family' thing. How long will it take? A week? A month? Not more until they figure out the algorithms that determine the spawning of monsters and maps. That's it. Lemme tell you; I was prepared to pay 30, even 40-45 Euros for the game. And I know what you'll say, 'but it's only 20 euros difference, what's the big deal'. The big deal is the difference of 20 euros, the difference between "I'm a good worker and I want to be compensated for my work" and "I am a company and I demand that you bow to my will". Piracy started out in music because the prices kept climbing. It proceeded to movies because theaters became too expensive. Now it's in gaming because, quite simply, continent-spanning corporations cannot understand a very simple law: "there is 'offer', there is 'demand' and there's 'people who will be repulsed because of outrageous demands'". So, I give Blizzard about two weeks time before the game is hacked. No protection is foolproof. Only by reducing their prices and giving us quality games will we begin paying for their work. Personally, I wanted to pay. I wanted to reward the game designers who did such a good job. But, thanks to marketing, I will not. I don't care if I never play the game, GW2 is close after all. But, the day Diablo 3 is hacked, I'm going to be laughing my ass off. I'm not a pirate; what games I like, I buy. But I can't, won't, play a game, no matter how good it is, if the company does not respect me as a client. Let's face it people and companies; times, especially in certain countries, are getting rough. We might not make crackers out of our own excrement, but it is obvious to all that money is lining only a particular few pockets. Let us not pay people for more than they are worth. Let us put our foot down and say "It's enough.". Because, sometimes, it is just not good enough to accept things. Sometimes, we must place an embargo if but to show some people that what they attempt to spoon-feed us isn't right. I'm not saying to pirate everything. It's wrong. But, I AM saying that there's dozens of high-quality games that are free or with token prices. Why can they afford it? Why not give them a chance? Why allow companies, in every art, part or domain of our world, command and demand what they will? In the end, why bend over backwards and take it without a complaint? If companies only care about money, then show them your opinions through it. Whether it is donating a freeware programmer or telling your friends that a low-budget game is worth it, do something. Otherwise, nothing will ever change.

Review Reply: Stustu

Since you have disabled PMs, I feel it necessary to reply here. So here goes:

*Begin Reply*

First of all, thanks for the review :D

But that is not the reason I write this reply. Instead, in your review, you expressed the desire for a NarutoxKingdoms Of Amalur: Reckoning crossover.

The truth is, I am already writing that particular one-shot, naming it 'Sadame no Naruto', which can mean both 'Maelstrom of Fate', linking to the complete mess of Fate Naruto has the tendency of making, as well as 'Naruto of Fate', pointing to the usage of Fate power that would come from this fic.

However, as we all know, every time I try to write a one-shot, I seem to gather enough replies begging for a second, or third, fourth etc, part. While I am not bothered at all by that, the truth of the matter is that I'll be getting a job soon, so I can't exactly devote as much time as I want to fanfictioning (is that a word?). I'd have very much liked to make a full story out of it, but for now it's just going to be a one-shot, if I ever even complete it.

So, when I read your review, I wanted to contact you with a very specific mission in mind; if I write some parts of the one-shot, would you write the rest? Or, even, would you make it into a story?

Unfortunately, you have disabled PMs so I couldn't contact you except through this Author's Note. Here's to hoping you activate the messaging service so I can send the file over and you can turn it from a half-finished one-shot into a worthy story!

*End Reply*

OMAKE CORNER

Book of Culinary Horrors

Yamanaka Inoichi was a very talented psychologist, it was natural for him considering his family's mind-affecting powers.

And like any professional psychologist and psychiatrist, he kept an archive of most of his cases, at least the serious ones. Naruto's recent brush with delusionary psychosis was considered quite serious, not to mention very important from a scientific point of view, after all none has ever before made so many clones as to fracture their own minds, not to this extent.

So, after each counseling, he took the child's drawings and writings, illegible though they were, and archived them in his home. In the end, he bound them to a book, arranging them by the point in time on which they were made.

Still, he rarely read them, for the drawings were disturbing to the mind, they seemed to move and writhe their tentacle-like forms. Pictures seemed to have been made with more detail than should be possible for something that small, he could still discern each exact letter and symbol of a perfect replica of a three-square-inch large drawing of a book! And the words, he didn't know if it was in another language, but every time he tried to pronounce them in an approximation of their own, his very mind rebelled and tried to stop him from uttering them!

So the book was sealed and forgotten, placed in high-level and security seals and then put into the underground ANBU storage facility, just in case Naruto exhibited such symptoms again.

But Naruto never had a repeat of such an incident and Inoichi, as a good doctor, kept all archives and notices to himself until the day he passed on.

So the Book was placed and forgotten as time passed, years went by and the continents shifted...

A young archeologist and paranormal investigator now stands before an ancient crypt. Scrolls, somehow preserved through the millenia of this tomb's existed, point to a race of beings with animals for faces and supernatural psychokinetic powers, such as pyrokinesis, teleportation and even the creation of life!

"Be careful! Not so many explosives! We want to open the door, not blow the mountain up!" He screams as he waves the pyrotechnicians to take more care. The Fan Corporation's the leaders in terms of fires and explosions, but sometimes they got too... excited with their jobs. You couldn't find better people to shape an explosion though; sometimes he wondered if those guys could actually breathe fire even!

BOOOM! The door's hinges explode and the whole building shudders, but it holds on. The arcane symbols on it seem to glow for a moment, telling the archaeologist that eldritch forces are at work to preserve this artefact!

Oh how he shudders at what he will find inside! Rituals? Artifacts? Proof of the Void between Worlds? Dangerous creatures, the awakening of the Old Gods?

Torch in hand, he walks in carefully, eyes peering through the dark. There are ruins and writings here, but there is something calling him... something more... profound, primal!

Deeper and deeper, where the sun's rays no longer tread, where priests and angels alike would fear to even gaze, the archaeologist walks with a purpose...

Until, at last, he finds it! A book, large and leatherbound, ancient mystical symbols on it glowing and keeping it safe from the ravages of time. With shaking hands he opens it and his mind opens with it, to a reality far different than his own...

Three months later, a new book can be seen in stores...

The Ramenomicon By P.H. Hatedismantle


Today, on this 9/6/2012, I, Soulblazer87, do hereby leave this site, possibly forever.

I shall not update this, or any other story.

I shall leave them on, however. Should you desire to follow my stories, do so in my new site of residence: www dot yourfanfiction dot com.