Chapter 1: With the morning Mist. The strings are starting to move around you, Naruto.
"A defender is someone who protects, and a warrior is someone who battles. Neither of these things make you a hero, even though many hero's have these qualities. A hero isn't a person that win's the fight, or defeats the bad guy. A hero is someone who brings change.
That is why I will never call myself a hero." - quote from Sig Uchiha, a fellow fanfiction writter.
Somewhere in The Unnamed Country. Chinmoku no Sato. Four years in the future of the current timeline.
Hatake Kakashi hated his position at the moment. He could be in the front lines of the war, yet he was here, trying to parley his former pupil to participate in the conflict in the name of Konoha. It was for naught, and he knew it. Still, orders were orders.
"Naruto, please, we need your strength in this war. At this rate, Konoha will be totally annihilated." Pleaded Kakashi to the son of his sensei. Behind him, were some of his colleagues: Mitarashi Anko, Maito Gai, Genma and Ebisu, along side some of Naruto's graduation genin class like Yamanaka Ino and Inuzuka Kiba.
"You already know the answer to that, Hatake-san. I'm appealed by your nerve." Said the blond without any hint of appeal, or any emotion either. "First entering my home, threatening my family and now asking for my help. Konoha-nins really have a weird way to ask for favours." Continued the blond, unconcerned, and uncaring. It was frightening how accurate Naruto's personification of Uchiha Itachi was. "Please, get out of here or I will need to do something… drastic."
"Stop being disillusional Naruto. We are going to drag you down to Konoha with us along side her," said the Inuzuka, snarling at the last word. "and there isn't something you can do about it. I swear to Kami that you are going to pay for what you did to Hinata." Finished Kiba before entering in a combat stance. The rest followed suit, but didn't attack.
"Your memory is more damaged than I thought, because it was you, Konoha at large, that hurt her. Very well, if you insist, them you need to learn a couple of things." And with that the blond made four hand sings. Just four.
None of them had time to react, because none of then saw or felt anything. No chakra spike that was the tale-tell of jutsus, no sing of any elemental manipulation, no sing of illusions, poisoning. Nothing.
And then, they felt despair after realised that some of them were missing limbs, and were cut in tiny little pieces, if it could be call like that. It was more like a mass of blood and gore totally squashed in a crimson and brown paste. Soon the screams, the pain filled cries tore the silence of the night.
"Naruto, what the heck you…" but Kakashi couldn't finish. A flash of light covered his vision and, in a blink of an eye, he and what was left of his squad somehow had appeared in the middle of Konoha. And like that, Kakashi, along side his colleagues, passed out thanks to the blood loss.
Four years earlier, present day of the current timeline.
"Ino had been totally quiet.", thought Shikamaru, "Ever since we started this mission, she hadn't speak a word aside from answering some questions, and had only said what was necessary. This silence from her is unnatural, and whatever is causing this it had something to do with Naruto… Troublesome." Thinking about the other blond, Shikamaru lazily averted his gaze from his teammate and laid his eyes at his front, where the walking form of Uzumaki Naruto was barely visible in the mist that had plague the last part of their journey.
"Halt!" commanded Sarutobi Asuma to his team and his temporally squad members. Next to him, Uzuki Yugao and a chuunin that use a sembon as a toothpick named Gemma, were the back-up that they had for this mission. "Yugao-san, how far are we from Wave?"
"At this pace, we can reach it in three hours max." answered the purple haired jounin. Shikamaru like her because she had a nonsense professional attitude all the time.
"It is strange." Continued the Nara his train of thought. "Why so many people for a simple retrieve mission. Our team it more that enough fro that. That means that there is another mission within this one or where we are going is dangerous enough to require higher level shinobi but not enough to be a jounin. I can bet that is the former rather than the latter. It can be both for all I know. Troublesome."
"Lets rest a little bit. This mist is going to disappear soon." Said Asuma before sitting down in a nearby rock. The rest followed suit.
Himura Danzo saw, unperturbed, how the last of the civilian side of the council fall without resistance under the controlling power of Shusui's eye.
"Fu, this is the last one. Lest rest after this for a while before starting the next part of our plan."
"Hai, Danzo-sama." Said Yamanaka Fu, before disappearing at the same time as his master via Shunshin.
Hours later, after much deserved rest, the old war hawk was in front the man that he despised and admired the most.
"I got that you had finished the first part of your latest…scheme. It seems that your usual paranoia paid off and now our fears are confirmed" Said Sarutobi neutrally to his old rival and friend.
"Yeah. Unfortunately I was right." Said Danzo a little, just a little, quitter than usual. Sarutobi raised his eyebrows at this. On Danzo, such subtle gestures were really uncommon, since the old man had always his emotion in check and totally in control. If Sarutobi wasn't seeing it, he would not believe it: Himura Danzo was pissed.
"How it went?"
"Worse than we thought." Was the only answer of the seemly handicapped man.
The first thing that Hyuuga Hibana did when she opened her eyes was her "master", Himura Danzo, in front of her. At her side, the agent Root that she knew, despite his concealing disguise, was Yamanaka Fu, who had his palm on her forehead.
Hibana had come immediately after being summoned without raising suspicions. The last thing that she remembered was entering the Root Main Base before blacking out. Somehow she had been discovered and her life span had been cut short down to hours. They would torture her until she died or say something useful before finish her.
"Hibana, you will tell me who and how this new seal came to past in your clan, and why."
"Danzo-sama, I don't know what are y…" but pain interrupted her, pain that she could not fathom why it was passing her defences. She didn't scream, of course, she was trained to sustain a lot of damage without changing her face expression or give away any body language reaction. But this one was a close call.
"A new seal was placed on you to cause you enough pain to kill a normal shinobi. I don't know how, but the seal in your tongue was nullified and we have to use at least two hundred fold of power of the usual torture seal to see some effect on you." Replied Danzo while observing the smallest of details on his fallen agent. He was proud to say that he didn't catch any… yet. If all his years had taught him something was that everybody, and I mean everybody, had a breaking point. It was a matter of when and how it was reached.
Hibana didn't answer. She needed to inform her, somehow, that the Hyuuga was under suspicion. Danzo was not pleased.
"It seems that we need to do some…drastic… measures." And to the horror of the agonizing Hyuuga, the war hawk uncovered his lost eye, just to reveal a Sharingan eye under them, a Sharingan that she knew all to well.
"I know that you recognize Shusui's eye, since he was your partner in many missions. Now you will tell me what I want to know. Koto Amatsukami!" And with that the ultimate hypnosis technique fall on Hibana.
Or try to, because a lot of things happened at once.
Hibana started to trash on the floor, convulsing, screaming without words or sound in pain, before turning limp, quiet and restful. Danzo, in the other hand, was thrown back two meters by a chakra backlash while Fu felt to the floor unconscious.
Five minutes later, when Danzo and Fu where up again, they noted that Hibana's eyes had melted in a sort of bloody paint.
(End of flashback)
"My medic agents after that try to identified what the heck happened but it seems that this new seal is more formidable than we thought. Everything, down to the molecular level was sealed beyond salvage." Danzo said.
"Did you discover something more?"
"Yes. Fu was able to catch an image and a name matching that image of the responsible of the new seal: Hyuuga Hinata." This perturbed the Sandaime, but he expected something among those lines. The surprises weren't finished though. "In that particular memory there was someone else that you need to be aware off."
"Uzumaki Naruto." This time, Sarutobi didn't bother to hide his shock.
"Dammed!" yelled Haruno Sakura throwing an assortment of scrolls and papers with notes and seal drawings all over the place. It had been too weeks since she got out of the hospital. Somehow she had awakened in a world where her chakra was so screw up that nobody knew how to deal with it. She also had forgotten what the heck had happened in the last day of their botched mission. The last thing she remembered was an strange swordsman impaling her stomach after the bastard of Uchiha Sasuke had switched with her to escape the blow, that coward. To add salt into de injury the Shinobi Council had determined that she should not be properly punishment for his blatant betrayal but only restart some sort of therapy session and reduce pay for a while…. What the heck was happening with the world? Sakura knew that, if she did something a kind to that she would have been executed on the spot, such were the rules. Then why the Uchiha was different.
"It is because, in her eyes, you are worthless. You don't have a gekken genkai, or a noble shinobi clan. You are weak and thus dispensable." Said her other self, as she had called her new mental condition. Ever since she woke up from her short coma, her other self, that one that once upon a tine she had called her "inner", had become stronger and had taken a more… active roll… in her live.
"Shut up! I am not in the mood for you right now." Mentally replied Sakura.
"You know that you don't mean that, don't you? You are not fun."
"We just don't have the same definition of fun."
"See what I meant? You, young lady need to get laid. And you know, Chouji-kun doesn't seem to mine being raped by us…"
"Wh..what the heck are you talking about? Stop bubbling such nonsense!"
"You know what I mean, little old me…"
And indeed, Sakura knew. At first Sakura didn't knew how to react after knowing that her chubby friend had staid at her side ever since she was booked in the hospital, only leaving her to train with his team and going on missions. But it warmed her and made her blush to see his dedication to him. But he didn't stop there, he help her all the week afterwards through her rehabilitation. Ino of course was there, but her blond friend disappeared at the oddest of times leaving her under Chouji's tender cares.
And then, the bomb.
Chouji invited to dinner, as in a date. In all honestly she was caught by surprise and quickly agreed, but she honestly didn't though it was something beyond a friend's date, to cheer her up and pull her out of the funk that she had been in since her awakening. It worked really well.
They had fun and a great time together. Chouji at first was ridiculously shy around her, but after a while relaxed and open up to the happy atmosphere. They had a blast. Chouji, of course manage to make her smile and laugh the whole night while being a gentleman. In the end, after escorting her back home, he decided to invite her to another date in the future.
This was when Sakura couldn't deny it anymore and saw Chouji's feelings and intentions as plain as day. She hesitated to answered and the Akaimichi noted this so he compromised saying that she could answer later on. And like that he said goodbye and went home. Sakura staid there, unmoving, for a couple of minutes before entering her home.
She frankly hadn't though of Chouji in that way. He had become one of his friends, along side Shikamaru and Ino. In never crossed her mind a possible relation there. It had been five days since that dated and she still didn't know what to think, what to do. And she didn't want to.
All Sakura had done was to further the research that she had start after she graduated from the academy, to occupy her mind, to search for answers, to find the way to become strong.
Picking one of the scrolls that she had throw in frustration to the floor, she read something that she may had overlook before:
"Bloodlines, after much studies of all kinds, still reminded a mystery to our science. Where they come from, and why? This are the major focuses of any researcher on the subject. Some more known bloodlines had been mutations of previously abilities on certain group of people, but from where this base abilities came from is still unknown. Understanding the basic concept of theses concepts is a key for the Seal Master. Using the sacred art of Seals, it is possible to suppress and, with enough skill, destroy a bloodline without killing the user…"
"Finally, this mist had dissipated." Murmured Naruto, though everybody could hear him.
Just as the visibility came back under the rays of the sun the shinobi group arrived to the main entrance of the bridge builder's town. They almost wished that they hadn't. In from of them was the poorest and most depressing thing that they could fathom. Children way too thin to be normal, and even adults scattered around, sitting on the floor, with tore clothes, dirty wormed out clothes, and some of then with blood stains all over.
But the most heartache thing of all this were the villagers' eyes. They were dead, out of shine or hope. This people were more dead than alive. Naruto recognize that look immediately, a look that he had met in his bathroom mirrors all too many times, alone, in the cursed loneliness of the silence that he suffered before meeting Hinata.
The group itself was under henge. They looked like travellers that were needed of some rest.
"Naruto, where is the place that we are looking for?" asked Asuma to the blond. He was aware what they were looking form, while his genin team only knew that they were searching for a Uzumaki heirloom.
"We will need to get a local map, but we need to go northwest, like 3 km before reaching the coast." Answered Naruto without shifting his gaze from the villagers.
"Ok. Yugao-san, Genma-san, go ahead, we will meet here at twilight." said the son of the Sandaime. Yugao and Genma nodded, before taking a different direction from the group. It was time to visit Tazuna's daughter, Tsunami-san.
"So, I was right." Thought Shikamaru. "There is a secondary mission going on. I wonder what it is. Oh well, it is too troublesome to even think about it."
"This is our chance! Let's be in our way." Proclaimed Asuma before leading the genins to their next destination.
(With Yugao and Genma)
"We are almost there." Say Yugao, or her alias for this mission: Mao, to her partner, and suppose husband: Shou.
"So, this woman, Tsunami, is the daughter of the liar client, Tazuna." Stated Shou nee Genma.
"Yeah, but it is confirmed that he lied because he couldn't afford anything else, nobody in the island could either. They pay for this mission with a pool of the money they could collect."
"Gatou then, somehow, caught wind of this and started a counter-measure hiring shinobi."
"Yeah, and you saw the result. It seems that this bridge was the last hope of this people. Gatou had play his cards right and had crushed any psychological response that he may encounter." Explained Yugao.
Genma knew that this was not the only reason why his partner and friend, was pissed. Nonayamo Rikka had been Yugao's close friend and Genma himself had interacted with her in a couple of Poker Nights between their group. She was nice woman, and really pretty. Damn strong too and really scary when she was pissed off. Whoever Gatou hired to do his dirty jobs had to be strong, jounin level at least.
Soon they reached a wooden house that surely had seen better days. They knocked. No answer. They knocked again. No answer.
"Maybe they are not here." Suggested Genma, but he immediately noted that Yugao had closed her eyes for a second and started to sniff the air. The rumour that he had heard that Yugao was part of the ANBU had been confirmed in front of him.
"That is the smell of alcohol and of somebody that hadn't take a bath in weeks." And like that Yugao open the door using picking-lock skills.
There in the middle of the dining room of the modest house was a woman with long black hair, totally passed out and emanating a strong smelt of rum, the pirates drink. Gemna noted that the woman had several bruises and some cut scars. The dirt in her pale skin was obvious and the baggage under her eyes told an insomniac tale. The house was a mess and broken objects, including some smashes alcohol bottles, were scattered around the floor and old battled furniture.
Yugao only sighed before picking the woman and taking her upstairs to take care of her while Genma start to scout the surroundings.
(With team Asuma and Naruto)
It was kind of hard for the undercovered group. More times that he could count, groups of kids, old man, an even woman approached them, asking for food. Some women even offered their services in exchange of something, anything to put something in the stomach of their children; theses women not even care if they had to bed Ino or Naruto, or both.
Naruto kept his emotionless façade the whole time, while within he used all his resolve to not to break then and there. The others weren't any better.
Once they reached Wave, the group travelled under henge. Asuma was a man called Kasuma, and he was the suppose uncle of the white haired and brown eyes kid Shiro (Naruto), the brown haired and hazel eyes Renka (Ino), the black haired and blue eyes Tanto (Chouji) and the deep blue haired and green eyes Sora (Shikamaru). The back ground of the travelling family was that Kasuma had taken under his wing after his two borthers and sisters died in a fire that burned down their compound in Rice Country. Kasuma was from Suna, but to take care of the kids he recently moved to Fire Country. They were doing this trip because it wasin Wave were their great grand father, Samegaki Kai, had been lived there almost 100 years ago and had helped building villages that later had become Wave Country.
The funny thing was that all this actually happened. The best of Deception was to use the truth to cover a lie that was covering another truth, or so Asuma-sensei had said. And now, after half an hour of getting out of the town, the group finally had reached a carved cave that had an Inari Shrine within.
"Inari, the foxes' patron." Thought Naruto with dry humour. "How ironic!"
They entered after they checked that it was safe to. After almost five minutes of walking, they reach the end of the cave, and they couldn't helped but feel amaze of what they found. In the end it was a middle size pond, and in the middle of it, standing in four wood columns, was a wooden house, thought it was a tab too short to be called as such. The wood house was designed as the ancient shrines similar to those that Naruto had seen in some books. It had a balcony of sorts around shaped in a concentric square with a wood fence and the house in the middle. In the front door was a spiral in its centre; a spiral that he immediately recognized. To complete the set, a wooden bridge connected the land with the wooden shrine.
But this was secondary compared to what it was in front of them. A bald man, or a man with a shaved head, was standing in front of them. He had the tunics that were the signature of the monks. He looked like he was 22 years old and had his eyes closed. In his right hand was a Bo staff of the same height was the estranger.
"Greetings Uzumaki Naruto; I have been waiting for you." Said the monk with a gentle smiled in his face. This, of course, put Naruto, and the rest of his colleagues, on guard. Naruto, specially, knew that anybody that smile to him like that and wasn't named Hyuuga Hinata was suspicious at best and highly hazardous for his health at worst.
"Who are you?" asked Asuma, totally wary.
"I go by many names, Sarutobi Asuma, but you can call me Great Meister Oogway." Said the man.
Asuma paled in awe of what he had heard. He recognised that name because he had lived with the Fire Temple Monks for a while when he was one of the Daimyo personal guards. But what he was seeing at the moment. Master Oogway was too old and wise compare to this youngling. But there was one way to verified it this…monk… was telling the truth.
"vahaban kaH? (who are you?)" began Asuma, earning confused looks from his pupils and Naruto.
"aham asmi paradezin, prAkpazcimAyata nirUpana vaidezika.(I'm a traveller from the East, coming to the west looking for a stranger.)" replied the monk, mildly amused.
"virAma itastataH proSitavat. aham asmi yena bhavAn mRgayati. (Stop there stranger. I'm whom you seek.)" answered Asuma in blatant disbelieve on his shocked faced before kneeling in front the stranger. "I apologize for my rude ignorance, Oogway-dono."
"No need for that, young Sarutobi. In our world, specially in your profession, caution and prudence are valued virtues." Answered the monk wisely.
At Asuma's side were the genins that clearly didn't know what to think, though Shikamaru and Naruto concealed their emotions masterfully, and the jounin didn't blame them. To the outsider, the briefly interchange that just occurred weren't words, but distorted sounds, and in any case that they had tried to read their lips they would had found that it was impossible (he didn't knew that Naruto had tried).
And in any case that a powerful ninja managed to crack those sounds them they wouldn't be able to use them. Between the monks, the dialect they used was known as True Speak, a sacred language. Only the Great Meisters of old knew why, but this language had power on its own. Sadly, the knowledge had been almost totally lost and only few phrases were known. The True Speak had a particular quality in itself: nobody, and I mean nobody, could lie with it. It was said that this language was the true language of the soul and thus it was impossible to use for evil thinks as lying.
"Uzumaki Naruto," started the monk again "I had come here because I want to meet you. Behind those doors" pointing to the wood shrine in the lake, "awaits what it is yours by birthright. You will need to make a decision. One would led you to fulfil your destiny of glory and immortality and the other would led you to a path of greatness and destruction. Choose carefully, because the fate of those around you depends on it."
"Wait, what do you mean…" but before Naruto could say anything further a gust of wind showed form nowhere taking the monk in the process. In the blink of an eye the Great Meister Oogway was gone.
"Uzumaki-san," started Asuma after a while with a puzzled face, "whatever the Master told you, heed his advice."
Naruto could only nod before starting to cross the wood bridge.
Hinata was alone, sitting on her knelt legs on the tatami of her house dojo. Contrary to the newbie' popular believe, meditation was one of the best methods to strength one's chakra at the spiritual side. The Chi, the mental strength, was crucial to learn and ease one's control, to enhance chakra recovery and increasing the potential of the chakra pool size.
And at the moment, with her eyes closed, Hinata was meditating, or trying to. She felt uneasy, like a gut feeling that something was terrible wrong, but she couldn't pin the feeling to something in concrete, though she had an idea of why.
Two days ago, while she was taking a nap (she needed her beauty sleep, damn it!) she received visions, memories of sort out of the blue…
"Father, you need to stop doing this to your self. Don't you see the good fortune that Kami had bestowed upon us?" said the recognizable voice of Hyuuga Hibana to an old man that seemed like he was seek and that he haven't eat something decent in weeks. "Father, please, eat something. I don't want to loose you too." Pleaded her voice.
In front of her, sitting in his bed, was a face that the ghostly form of Hinata recognized immediately: the sad form of Hyuuga Shinji, the now blind man that was responsible of her kidnapping at the hands of Kumo.
"You may rejoice with this fiasco, daughter of mine, but our late seal was there to protect us from our worst enemy: ourselves." Said the man with finality. "The Hyuuga will fall. And everything will be Hinata-sama's fault."
"Dad, for the first time I dare to have a dream, to have a future without fearing that everything is a cruel nightmare, mocking me with a faux freedom. I just hope that you can see, understand that. I dare to smile in happiness after so long." Ended Hibana knelt at his side.
Then the memory faded in a swirl of colours before stopping in another one, where was Hibana, obviously when she was a lot younger, maybe a year older of what Hinata herself was at the moment.
She was sitting, alone in the park. Two months ago she had graduated form the academy, and was the best in her class, as it was expected from a Hyuuga, but sadly it was not good enough for her clan, and her father who hadn't even smile in pride.
"A ryo for your thoughts." Said an old man before sitting down next to Hibana. Hinata recognized immediately Danzo's face. Hibana reacted as a true Hyuuga, she just gave him an emotionless glare without giving away that she had been taken by surprise. Hinata noted that Danzo noticed, but didn't comment on it.
"I now that you recognized me, I had been in you compound before while I was conducting some business with your Clan Head." Danzo continued. "I have checked your profile, because I direct a special shinobi unit, and I'm really interest in your talent and abilities."
Hibana didn't respond and she was looking a way to get out of there with the dignity of a Hyuuga intact, yet, she couldn't help but be curious.
"Tell me, are you interest to serve your village in a better way?"
(End of flasback)
She woke up after that with an unsettling feeling on her heart and it haven't disappear since then. She had been informed that Hibana had been called to a mission the same day of her dream and hadn't comeback yet.
A nock was heard outside before the Hyuuga Hanako, a former main clan member that she knew, hated the new changes in her former life of luxury, was bowing on the tatami waiting a permission to speak.
"What it is Hanako-san?"
"Hinata-sama, an ANBU from Hokage-sama wants to see you, by order of Sandaime-sama."
"Please, let him in." said Hinata, enjoying Hanako's shock of her knowledge of the ANBU's gender.
A couple of seconds later the ANBU agent knelt in from of her. Hinata hadn't change her position in the slightest since she took it almost three hours ago.
"I apologize for the interruption, Hinata-sama, but Sandaime-sama wants to speak to you as soon as you can." Said the ANBU evenly, but both of them knew that it was an order, even if it wasn't stated as such.
"Okay ANBU-san. Give a couple of minutes to get ready." Said Hinata standing up, before going to her room. The ANBU disappear in a swirl of leaves.
The uneasy feeling didn't disappear in the slightest. If any, if grew viciously.
Nas! Here it is the first chapter of the second Volume of the Epiphany series. Starting a story line is never easy but I hope that my efforts were worth of your reading time.
Chinmoku no Sato means Village of Silence. If you want to have an idea geography-wise you can go to my profile, there is the map that I'm using.
If anyone noticed, or guessed it, I'm adding Naruto's name to the end of the preview title for the next "episode", like Gundam: Seed does. I just find it cool, that's all.
Last, in the poll that I set a couple of weeks ago, had a surprising triple tied. The winners are: a) to continue what I'm doing, b) a fairy tail/Naruto cross and c) One piece/Naruto cross. It was difficult, but while I'm working of these I will work on the Fairy Tail Cross first and then, when its finished, the One piece one.
Please, let your thoughts in your reviews or via pm. I'm always eager to read them. And I heed your advices too^^
pd: The language that Asuma and Oogway were using is Sanskrit