Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Negima.


Chapter 19

Kumogakure Chuunin Exams Part 1


Kumogakure

As per regulation, there was a lounge prepared for every jonin sensei of every team. The room itself was very spacious to accommodate the vast number of senseis invited for the Chuunin Exam. It featured some television sets that were designed to broadcast the entirety of the Chuunin Exam to those who wished to watch. It also featured a food and drink bar for the senseis for refreshments during the exams.

The group from Konoha was the third to arrive, following behind Kumo and Suna. They had fully entered the room and looked at their fellow jonin.

It had always been an unspoken tradition or trend that the village hosting the exams, regardless if it's for chuunin or jonin, would have the most number of genin teams entered into the exams. True enough, Fate noted that the Kumo group had indeed the most number of jonin senseis present.

If Fate had to be perfectly honest, none of them really stood out. They were all…unspeakably plain. In contrast, there were only four teams sent from Konoha and each of them stood out without even trying.

After all, Sakura had bright pink hair, Kakashi was reading his Icha Icha novel, Fate was still in his child form, and Sasuke was radiating so much Uchiha smugness that anyone could see it.

Fate shook his head in disappointment at the plainness of the hosting village before turning to the Suna group. Having far less members than Kumo's but also more than theirs, Fate disappointedly observed that only one truly stood out in his eyes: Pakura. Other than her, all of them were wearing turbans and the regulatory jonin vest.

Beside him, Kakashi addressed the semi-hostile and curious gazes directed at them. His eye curled and he raised a hand. "Yo," he said, dispersing the tense atmosphere, "Name's Kakashi, pleased to meet you."

Both Kumo and Suna groups returned to their conversations and left the Konoha group alone. Pakura shook her head, stood from her chair, walked to them, and held out a hand. "It's good to see you four again," she greeted in return.

Kakashi took the hand and shook it, replying, "And you as well, Pakura-san." Kakashi then put away his Icha Icha and started talking with her.

Shrugging in dismissal, Fate walked to the bar and addressed the frowning barkeep. "Do you serve coffee?"

The barkeep raised a brow. "Aren't you too young to drink coffee?"

Déjà vu, Fate thought to himself, Ayame told me the same thing. "Yes."

He paused and waited for further explanation. When he didn't get any, the barkeep snorted. "Suit yourself, kid. I don't usually serve coffee at this hour but whatever." He turned around and took out a coffee-making machine from underneath the counter. Turning to Fate, he asked, "What do you want in your coffee, kid?"

"Just black," was his brief reply.

"Alright."

"You drink coffee," a female asked from behind him, "An odd choice of drinks."

Fate briefly turned to her. It was one of those Suna jonin who didn't stand out to his eyes. Fate spied shoulder-length dark hair underneath her turban before raising his eyes past her reddish-purple face markings and to her bluish-grey eyes, saying, "Call it an acquired taste. I am Fate Averruncus. And you are?"

"I am Maki," she introduced herself as she sat down beside him, "That's a really odd name you have."

He shrugged. "I chose that name."

"Oh, what for," she curiously asked.

"Personal reasons," he simply replied without expanding further.

Maki narrowed her eyes but she shrugged and addressed the barkeep. "I'll have some sake, please."

He grunted in acknowledgement as he placed the cup of coffee in front of Fate.

"I'll have the same," Sasuke joined them, sitting down beside Maki.

"Yeah, yeah, keep your shirts on," he said, taking out a bottle of sake and two sake cups and placing them in front of the two ninjas.

Maki graciously accepted it, "Thank you," and poured some sake on her cup. She handed the bottle to Sasuke, who did the same.

Sakura had taken a seat on the couch and taken out a scroll to read in peace, leaving Kakashi and Pakura to chat and Sasuke, Maki, and Fate to enjoy their beverages.

The door to the lounge opened and in walked a few jonin with the hitai-ite bearing the insignia of Iwagakure.

While the others went past them all, a kunoichi smiled, her emerald eyes gleaming with kindness, and said, "Hello. I am Nanigashi, pleased to make your acquaintance."

The man beside her, a hulk of a man with a dark beard and dark eyes, grunted down at her, "Don't act so friendly, Nanigashi. We may be on neutral terms but our villages were never on friendly terms."

Tucking her shoulder-length brown hair behind an ear, she said, "Be that as it may, it wouldn't hurt to get to know our competition, yes?" She turned back to the others, noticing that a white-haired young boy and a black-haired teen with the air of an Uchiha were the only ones who didn't look in their direction. "This is my associate, Kitsuchi-san."

Silence descended after her introduction and Nanigashi soon nervously chuckled.

Kakashi sighed to himself. Why was it always him who breaks the ice? He raised a hand as his eye curled. "Yo, name's Kakashi."

Kitsuchi narrowed his eyes. "Sharingan no Kakashi, huh," he softly murmured.

"This is Pakura of Sunagakure." He gestured to Pakura, who scowled harshly at them.

Looking relieved at his attempt at conversation, Nanigashi smiled again. "Sharingan no Kakashi and Shakuton no Pakura," she commented, "My, it's an honor."

"And these are my students-turned-jonin," Kakashi then continued. "The pink-haired one is Sakura. The dark-haired one is Sasuke. And the white-haired one is Fate."

Kitsuchi scoffed. "A kid with an absurd name became a jonin? Konoha must have a shortage of capable of jonin."

Fate didn't react to his insult and just sipped more of his coffee. Sasuke closed his eyes and softly snorted into his sake. Sakura frowned but didn't say anything. Kakashi waved a hand in dismissal.

"Now, now," he chided, "let's all look underneath the underneath, no? He may be young but he is really powerful."

"I'll believe that when I see it."

Sometime later, the barkeep took out a remote and pointed it at the lone television set propped up against the upper corner of a wall. "The Chuunin Exam is officially started," he announced, "We are watching live on the gymnasium, where Mabui-san is about to give the genin teams their first instructions."

At first, the TV showed static before it settled on its feed. A massive gathering of people were at the heart of the gymnasium and a lone table was placed on the podium with three people seated behind it. Fate noted that the two people on the edges were Tee and Dee, the ones who met the Konoha group days ago.

The person seated at the middle called out, "When I call out your team name, you are to approach the podium, receive the necessary papers, and be escorted to your rooms by designated instructors. Am I clear?"

There was a shout of 'Yes, ma'am!'

"That Mabui-san really is something," one of the Kumo jonin whistled, "She is just so professional even to our brats."

Another replied, "As expected of Raikage-sama's assistant."

Unbidden, the now-identified Mabui raised her clipboard and announced, "Team Akito."

Yuki no Kuni

Genma and his two companions shivered as they unloaded from the boat they used to get to the country. Snow covered the area around the dock and Genma could see snow even further into the country.

"That's weird," he commented, "Don't they have some kind of heating machine in place here?"

"Maybe it's broken," Raido suggested.

Iwashi added, "Or it could be that the machine's range doesn't extend to here."

"Ah, well," Genma shrugged, "Whatever the reason, I guess it's Daimyo-sama's choice to tell us or not."

"Is it just me or is there some sort of noise coming from over there?" Iwashi pointed at something in the distance. Some distance away from them was a cave with railroad tracks that was connected to the dock they were on. The thing that Iwashi was pointing was the light within the cave.

Seconds later, they heard the chugging of some machine coming from the cave and they were greeted to the sight of a train zooming out of said cave and slowly stop at the dock.

One of the doors opened and out walked the princess and Daimyo of Yuki no Kuni, Kazehana Koyuki, being flanked by her bodyguards and her handmaidens.

"So you three are to be my escort," she asked the three Konoha ninjas in front of her.

Genma bowed and said, "Yes. Hokage-sama sent us to escort you and your aides to Konoha and to ensure that it occurs without delay and issue."

She smiled and said, "Then I graciously accept your aid."

"Thank you, my lady." He paused briefly. "May I suggest a safer and quicker way to get to Konoha, my lady?"

She blinked. "You may. What is this method?"

"The three of us were selected by Yondaime Hokage-sama as part of his special platoon. As a result, the three of us were taught his fabled Hiraishin no Jutsu." Koyuki's eyes widened. "We should have enough chakra to transport you and your aides with us to Konoha within seconds."

"If you insist, then let's proceed."

Genma smirked. "Excellent choice, my lady," he replied. Raido and Iwashi moved to flank them, encasing them within. The three Konoha ninjas held out their hands towards each other and started to gather chakra.

"We will be moving directly to Konoha's gates to allow us to register you and your people within its walls."

Koyuki graciously nodded. "Very well, thank you." She straightened up and said, "Whenever you are ready."

Nodding, he closed his eyes and announced, "Hiraishin no Jutsu." They vanished in a blur of yellow.

Konohagakure

When the group from Yuki no Kuni arrived instantaneously on Konoha's front gates, Kotetsu and Izumo jumped out of their seats in alarm.

"Wha-Who," Kotetsu exclaimed while beside him, Izumo drew his kunai, expecting danger.

Genma lowered his hands and turned to the two gate guards. "Shiranui Genma, returning alongside Namiashi Raido and Tatami Iwashi with the daimyo of Yuki no Kuni, Kazehana Koyuki-sama, and her aides," he said.

"Ah," Kotetsu lamely said, "oh! I see."

Both of them sat back down and prepared their paperwork.

Izumo cleared his throat as the Yuki no Kuni delegates approached the desk. "As per regulation, Daimyo-sama must fill out an entry form detailing your purpose for visit and duration of stay."

The Daimyo smiled and took the offered form. Taking out a pen, she filled out the necessary information, double-checked it, and returned it to the two chuunin.

Kotetsu perused the paper and turned to her and said, "Thank you. That will be all. Enjoy your stay in Konoha, Daimyo-sama."

"I will. Thank you."

The group proceeded further into the village until they got to the village square, where they were met with a lone brunette woman holding a pig in her arms.

She bowed to the group. "Greetings, I am Shizune, Tsunade-sama's aide. I am to escort you to Hokage-sama's office."

Koyuki noticed the way she considered the Hokage and her mentor, Tsunade, as two separate people. Did Tsunade-sama resign and assign a new Hokage? She took note of it and resolved to ask about it later. Until then, she bowed in return. "I see."

"Genma-san, you three can go on and escort Kazekage-sama here."

The three of them nodded and left the Daimyo in Shizune's hands.

"If you'll follow me, please," Shizune gestured to the Hokage Tower, "I will take you to Hokage-sama."

"Lead the way, Shizune-san."

Hokage Tower

When Koyuki and her companions arrived at the entrance to the tower, they were met next with Tsunade herself.

The Daimyo held out a hand and said, "Hokage-sama, thank you for meeting with me at your earliest convenience."

The blond Senju smiled as if Koyuki just told an amusing joke, took her hand, and said, "Please wait until we get to the office before we continue."

"Of course, I apologize." She and her companions followed Tsunade and Shizune into the building until they got to the door.

"I will have to ask you, Daimyo-sama, if I can trust you and your companions."

Her brows furrowing, she replied, "My people are loyal and are willing to keep their silence on my word. I myself am just as trustworthy with whatever secrets you are willing to share."

Tsunade nodded. "I see. Then, please understand that what you are about to witness and be a part of is one of Konoha's greatest secrets as of late." Koyuki's eyes widened, making Tsunade and Shizune smile.

Apprehensive of what she was about to see, Koyuki was confident that she could handle whatever secret Konoha was hiding. However, as Tsunade opened the door, nothing would have prepared her for the sight of a blond man sitting behind the Hokage desk. She was no fool. She was well aware of who this man was.

"Yondaime," she slowly started, "Hokage…"

Minato smiled at the Daimyo. "Welcome, Daimyo-sama. I hope this didn't shock you too much. I am very much alive and well." He gestured to the seat across his desk and said, "Please take a seat. Kazekage-sama will be joining us shortly."

Kumogakure

Shakuren let out a groan and pulled his arms behind his head as he and his teammates had been processed and ushered into the exam room proper. "Finally," he exclaimed, "that took forever!"

Shu snorted. "I know, right? They took so long that I swear it was deliberate!"

Akua sighed in exasperation as she palmed her forehead. "Oh, be quiet. We're in a foreign village and I don't want them to raise an international incident just because we said something bad about it."

He scoffed. "I'm sure they'll appreciate the sentiment of us not insulting their village when they visit our village next time and feel the urge to do the same."

"At least keep it low volume," she shook her head, "I don't want to explain to our senseis why we got into trouble before we could even get past the first part."

"Fine," Shu huffed, "I'll keep quiet." The three of them approached a crossing hallway and saw their friends from Team Kakashi, Fate, and Sakura. "Hey, guys," he greeted before turning to Shinku, "Hey, Shinku."

His sister smiled softly and nodded at him.

"Took you guys long enough," Yoruha spoke up from behind the main group, leaning against the wall.

"I know," Shakuren crossed his arms, "I couldn't handle another minute of it."

Seishi grinned as she put her hands on her hips. "Well, we're all here and that's what counts!"

Everyone smiled at her exuberance. Maihime patted her on the head, making Seishi pout. "You're right, Seishi. We're all here and we're going to win this…together."

She grinned again and hugged Maihime. "Yup," she exclaimed, "We'll all make Chuunin in this exam!"

Another woman joined their discussion. "That's the spirit!"

Turning, they saw a group of Suna ninja approaching them with eager smiles on their faces.

The one who spoke stepped forward and said, "I'm Yukata, pleased to meet you! Let's do our best, okay?" Her long, dark hair bobbed behind her as her brown eyes glinted with happiness. She embraced the surprised Seishi and let her go with a bright smile. She then straightened her flak jacket and skirt and fixed her arm guards before placing her hands on her hips confidently. "These are my teammates, Matsuri-chan and Mikoshi-kun!"

Matsuri nodded at them, her brown hair following her movements. She closed her dark eyes to join her lips in a smile and she said, "Hello."

Beside the two girls, the lone boy pushed his glasses up, his black eyes peering at another group passing by them to enter their examination room. "Hello," he greeted the Konoha ninjas.

Seishi blinked twice before perking up. "Hey, guys, I'm Seishi and these are my friends, Shakuren, Yoruha, Shinku, Ki, Yakumo, Maihime, Shu, Akai, Akua, Sorairo, and Kohaku! Is this your first Chuunin Exams?"

Yukata looked sheepish as she scratched the back of her head. "Ah, no, it isn't. This is our second exam."

Yakumo raised a brow. "You didn't get promoted the first time?"

Matsuri shook her head. "There were some complications that happened during the previous Chuunin Exams that caused our promotions to be delegated to a shinobi's Kage. Unfortunately, Kazekage-sama didn't deem us ready to be Chuunin and, as much as it hurt, we did agree with his decision; we performed rather poorly back then." She puffed her chest confidently. "This time, though, we'll do it right! We'll make Kazekage-sama proud!"

"You said it, Matsuri," yet another woman joined their discussion. A bandanna-wearing brunette bounced onto their group and smiled, "We can do it this time!" She turned to the Konoha ninjas and said, "I'm Sari and these are my teammates, Ittetsu and Sen!"

The lone boy in the team also wore a bandanna over his brown hair while the other girl had her sandy brown hair tied in a ponytail with two strands and two braids going down the sides of her face.

Maihime blinked. "I recognize you," she said to the girl, "Aren't you with that guy with mad taijutsu skills and girl with weird eyes?"

The girl, Sen, raised her brows and asked, "How did you know about that?"

She sighed in exasperation as she pointed at Kohaku and Ki. "Those two heard from Lee-san about your taijutsu teammate – Shira, I think his name was – and they wouldn't shut up about wanting to meet him." Both taijutsu users looked sheepish and turned their interest to another group that was entering their room.

"Well," she chuckled, "you're going to have to talk to Kazekage-sama about that. My two teammates, Shira and Yome, joined the Special Forces on the northern border of Kaze no Kuni so that Shira could watch over his parents. The two of them accepted their promotions because they knew that that was their only chance at becoming chuunin. They wouldn't be able to join another exam until they were released from service and back into Suna's shinobi forces."

"Wait, if the Kazekage promoted your two teammates into chuunin, weren't you promoted as well," Maihime asked.

"I was offered the promotion but I refused." Sen shook her head. "I felt like I didn't earn it. Kazekage-sama understood and held off the promotion."

"I see. That's…very honorable of you."

"Honor," someone scoffed, "honor is meaningless to a ninja." They all turned to see a team of Iwagakure ninjas glaring at them.

"Now, that's not very nice," Yukata pouted.

One of them sneered, "We aren't friends, Suna-nin. We are here to be promoted to chuunin, nothing else."

"Then, why are you talking to us," Shu retorted with a snarl. "We aren't friends, right? You shouldn't be talking to us if that's the case!"

Shinku softly called out, "Shu…" However, her brother ignored her attempts at placation.

The ninja walked up to him and stopped straight in front of his face. Being a good two inches taller than Shu, he looked down on the Onmyoji shinobi with a scowl on his face. "We weren't talking to any of you, Konoha-nin," he spat out like a curse, "We were talking amongst ourselves and you just happened to hear it."

"Sure, we did," Shu sarcastically snapped back, "I mean, it wasn't as though you guys were talking so loudly that even a deaf man on the other side of the continent can hear you."

The second Iwa-nin went to his side and crossed his arms intimidatingly. "You got a problem with that, bastard?"

Shakuren did the same and frowned at them. "Yeah, we do. The problem is that you three idiots are still talking to us and not leaving us alone!"

"Oh, idiots, are we," the third Iwa-nin joined them now, "You can't tell us what to do! You know what? We don't want to leave! What are you going to do about it?"

Yoruha wordlessly walked to Shu's other side and flashed the Iwa team his sheathed katana. "Try us," he softly threatened. "We are not some run-of-the-mill bandits; we are students trained by the students of Jiraiya and Tsunade of the Sannin, the last Uchiha, and Sharingan no Kakashi." The three of them widened their eyes. "Try us and fall," he repeated.

Reining in their shock at their mentors, the Iwa-nins puffed their chests out. The first said, "So what?! Being their students doesn't mean anything! If anything, it makes things worse for you guys!" They punched their palms threateningly. "We're going to enjoy beating you idiots up!"

As the fight was about to break out, they were all alerted to a burst of chakra. Turning to the stairs leading up to their floor, they were greeted to the sight of Mabui, Tee, and Dee approaching them. Mabui was scowling as she stopped in front of them.

"Is there a problem here," she icily asked.

"No," Yoruha replied, hiding his katana within his coat, "there isn't."

"That's good. I won't tolerate any conflicts or issues at any time in this exam." She fixed her glasses on her face. "As exam head proctor, do note that I have the ultimate power to send any of you back to your home villages without repercussions." Her narrowed green eyes intimidated them all. "Am I clear?"

The Iwa-nin, Shu, and Shakuren frowned at her but desisted with a unified 'Yeah.'

Seishi nodded enthusiastically. "We got it, Mabui-san! We will be on our best behavior!"

"See to it that you do. I'd hate to send any of you home because tempers went high." She gestured to the closed doors around them. "The last of the genin teams has been processed and already entered their room. Your teams are the only ones not in your respective rooms." She raised a brow expectantly. "Are we going to have any issues if I leave you all alone to head into your rooms?"

Akai grunted, "None at all, Mabui-san."

Mabui nodded. "Good," she said, "You are all dismissed." She then watched emotionlessly as they all scattered and left for their rooms. She huffed once they were all in their rooms and continued walking, Tee and Dee trailing after her.

She entered a room filled with a control panel and monitors. Sitting down in front of a microphone, she pressed the button to start broadcasting and announced, "Welcome, everyone, to the first phase of Kumogakure's Chuunin Exams. Each team has been assigned different rooms within the building and each team has been given three papers, one for each member of the team. Your objective," she paused to press a button on the panel.

In every room, the sound of the doors locking was heard and all genin teams gave sounds of alarm.

She finished, "…is to leave the room you are in within one hour. In your hands is your test paper; once you're done with the test, press the button beside the door and a proctor will go into your room for you to hand it to him. Afterwards, you are to head onto the lobby and await further instructions. There are only two rules of conduct."

She then continued, "Firstly, there will be no jutsu use whatsoever, be it ninjutsu, taijutsu, genjutsu, or so on at any time during the test. This is an examination, not an arena. Usage of any jutsu at any time will not be tolerated and will disqualify you and your team from the Chuunin Exam. Secondly, if you manage to escape your room, do not contact your fellow ninja who are still in the examination room in any way, be it to provide words of encouragement or to pass on some information. Again, this is an examination. Talking amongst each other is not permitted. Am I understood?"

She watched as the ninjas in each room gave signs of understanding. She nodded, saying, "Good. Unless any of you has any objections," she pressed a button on her panel, "you all may begin."

Shakuren, Shu, and Akua had gathered chairs around a table to begin their exams. The moment they saw the paper, their eyes twitched in annoyance.

The first question was, 'How many holes are in a polo?'

What kind of test is this?!

The next question was, 'Can a match box?'

This has nothing about ninjas!

His two teammates showed their shock at the questions.

"What is this," Shu snarled, "This is an exam?! This is stupid!"

Konohagakure

"Greetings, Hokage-sama," Gaara greeted Minato, who nodded in kind, as he entered the Hokage office. His turquoise eyes landed on the other occupant in the room and he raised a brow. "I assume you're Yuki no Kuni's Daimyo." When she nodded, he bowed his head. "It's a pleasure to meet you then, Daimyo-sama. I am Sabaku no Gaara, Godaime Kazekage." He gestured to the ninja behind him. "These are my siblings, Sabaku no Kankuro and Sabaku no Temari." The two of them bowed at the waist.

"I'm glad you could join us today, Gaara-kun," Minato replied, gesturing to the other seat across his desk. "Please, take a seat."

"Thank you." Gaara took the seat and looked at Koyuki. "I heard from Namikaze-san that your people have developed some new technology that you would like to share with us."

She nodded. "As your ally, I feel it is only proper to share it with you two. But first, I must share the reason for this technological development." She cleared her throat. "For quite some time now, my country has been under attack by some unknown force and they terrorized my land and people. As reported to me, the intruders were mostly on odd flying contraptions and were very mobile and fast. My guards and the ninjas of Yukigakure couldn't get to them easily. The Yukigakure ninjas were fortunate with their Hyoton ninjutsu that helped us stave them off for a bit longer. Those without chakra, however, weren't as fortunate in striking back. That's why I had my people search for a way to help those without chakra to retaliate."

"And I assume your researchers found a way," Minato concluded.

Koyuki nodded and looked behind to one of her handmaidens. The handmaiden pulled out something elongated covered in cloth and gently placed it on Koyuki's hands. Returning to her post, the handmaiden watched as her mistress unravelled the package and presented the unveiled object on the Hokage's desk.

Gaara raised a nonexistent brow while Minato remained pensive.

"Hokage-sama, Kazekage-sama, I present to you two the pistol."

Minato narrowed his eyes. Gaara, on the other hand, put a hand to his chin and said, "How does this pistol work?"

"You load the ammo in this chamber here," she pointed at the empty chamber along the pistol's barrel, "and pull the trigger to fire. Within the barrel is the firing mechanism and pulling the trigger creates a small spark within that propels the projectile to the target.

"Then either the ammo itself or the propelling mechanism would have to be highly explosive. So far, no one has discovered such material outside of chakra powerful enough for such a thing."

Koyuki held out an open hand in front of her other handmaiden, who placed a small pouch on said hand. She opened the pouch and pulled out a small cylindrical object with a round cap at the top and a glowing blue substance shining at the base. "This is whale oil."

Their eyes widened. Interested, Minato asked, "Whale oil can be used as an energy source?"

"It's an extensive process. My head researcher discovered it when he came across a whale processing plant and saw some workers utilizing the seeping whale oil to fuel the fires they produced to protect themselves from the cold."

Gaara narrowed his eyes. "I seem to recall that your land has its heating machine. Was it broken?"

"Yuki no Kuni is still very cold at night, machine or not. Regardless, the machine is indeed broken. It was one of the first targets of the assailants when they struck; my mechanics are still fixing it when we left."

"I see. Continue."

"So the head researcher observed the workers of the plant using the whale oil to fuel their fires and got an epiphany. He collected some of the oil and worked with it. Eventually, he managed to refine the oil to the point that it became a viable fuel source." She gestured to the pistol. "My technology team collaborated with my research team to produce the pistol. At this moment, my teams are working on improving the pistol and making other weapons to use."

"So you want to share this technology with us?"

Koyuki nodded. "We are allies and I feel that we would benefit from sharing it, if not for your ninja, then for your civilians."

"I would like to ask a question about your project."

"So would I," Gaara piped in.

"I will answer what I can."

Minato took the whale oil bullet and perused it. "How rare is this whale oil that your people can make?"

"As explained to me by my scientists, the whale oil itself is common and is naturally produced within their bodies due to the great pressures deep in the ocean for temperature regulation. The oil is somewhat flammable by itself but the refinement process made it very volatile. The process is only known to the main researcher and I swore him to secrecy on the process."

Gaara asked next, "What other projects are your teams working on?"

"For now, they're thinking of adding some attachments to the pistol and improving some aspects of the weapon, like fire rate, bullet type, scopes, and so on. As to more potential weapons, I haven't been told yet."

"I would be more than willing to provide some suggestions for your researchers."

"So will I," said Minato.

"Thank you, both of you. I will tell my teams of your offer."

"Eventually, would you be welcome to talks of producing this whale oil for marketing?"

Koyuki remained silent briefly in thought. "For now, I'd prefer to keep the whale oil within us for now because my people had yet to fully study the refined whale oil and its effects in society and I don't want to risk any unforeseen accidents because of lack of knowledge of the whale oil."

Nodding, the Hokage replied, "I understand. Thank you."

Gaara grabbed the pistol with one hand to observe it closely and put the other hand to his chin. "I could see this as a fine weapon for civilians in dire situations; we just need to regulate its use to prevent misuse. However, in your opinion, would this be a suitable weapon for ninja use or would we be better off sticking to traditional weapons?" He placed the weapon back on the desk.

"For now, ninjas should stick to what they have. This is new technology, something the world hasn't seen before, and it may unsettle or discomfort veteran shinobi. It would be best to slowly bring them into the fold one at a time."

He nodded. "I have no further questions."

"Neither do I."

Koyuki bowed her head and repackaged the pistol and whale oil bullet and gave them back to her handmaiden.

"Now, let's move onto the next topic of discussion: these attackers on your land." Minato frowned. "As an ally, I can't just let your land be attacked without helping you. I can provide you with two teams to help with this."

"Unfortunately, I cannot do the same," Gaara solemnly replied, "My ninjas are unused to the cold and would not operate at their fullest capacity."

"I understand," she said to Gaara before turning to Minato, "I accept your aid, Hokage-sama. Thank you. May I ask who you have in mind?"

"I recently inducted into service some…unique ninjas. One team, I feel, is ready to be sent out into the field while the other, I feel, has been sidelined for too long. All I ask, though, is that you treat them like ninjas and not any differently."

She looked confused with Gaara looking just as confused beside her. He simply smiled mysteriously and pulled out a piece of paper and pen. After writing something on it, he held it in the air and the paper was picked up by an ANBU. Turning to him, Minato said, "Give that to Tsunade-san and Negi-san." Gaara's eyes gleamed in recognition. The ANBU bowed low and vanished in a blur.

Minutes later, there was a knock on the door. Minato called out, "Come in." The door opened and Koyuki felt her eyebrows rise to her hairline at who entered.

She saw a ninja wearing a crow mask and ANBU outfit, an orange-haired teen, a white-haired teen, a bluish-grey-haired monk, a young redhead boy, a jacket-wearing, black-haired boy, a heterochromatic girl, a tall close-eyed girl, and a samurai girl.

"You called for us, Hokage-sama," the masked ANBU asked.

Minato nodded. "Everyone, please meet Kazehana Koyuki, Daimyo of Yuki no Kuni, and Sabaku no Gaara, Kazekage of Sunagakure." Turning to Koyuki, he said, "Please don't discredit them just because they're children."

"I would be remiss if I discriminated because of age. After all, it was because of a child that I came to know the greatest ninja I have ever known." Minato raised a brow in confusion.

Negi bowed. "It's good to see you again, Kazekage-san, and to meet you, Daimyo-san."

Koyuki giggled. "I've never seen such formality in someone so young. It's a stark contrast to young Naruto years ago." The children widened their eyes.

Blinking, the Hokage smiled. "Oh, yes, I forgot. My son's team was sent to return you to your homeland. I've never asked your experience about him."

She smiled wistfully. "He was stubborn and brash, kind of like me back then, and yet it was that attitude that won me over and made me believe in him. He was the one who changed me and I'm forever grateful to him."

Gaara chuckled. "He does have that effect, doesn't he? So he's the greatest ninja you've ever known," he said as a matter of fact.

Suigetsu crossed his arms. "There are a lot stronger ninjas living and dead that could be considered the greatest, aren't there?" He then gave an exclamation of pain when Jugo elbowed him hard. "What's that for?"

"You're in the presence of two Kage and one Daimyo. Don't speak out of turn."

Koyuki waved it off. "It's fine." She turned to Suigetsu. "Strength is not everything. Strength is nothing if you don't have the heart or will to use it responsibly. Naruto indeed may not have been the strongest but he had heart and that was what won me over." The Hozuki frowned but said nothing. "Oh, where are my manners? I haven't asked for your names yet."

The ANBU stepped forward. "I am Codename: Karasu." He then gestured to the others. "This is Jugo-san, Suigetsu-san, Sora-kun, Negi-kun, Kotarou-kun, Asuna-san, Setsuna-san, and Kaede-san."

The Daimyo nodded and said, "Please to meet you."

"So what will we be doing, Hokage-sama," Setsuna asked after they all returned the gesture.

"You are to return with Koyuki-san and help her fight against the attackers of her country."

They all straightened up and saluted, exclaiming, "Yes, Hokage-sama!"

"There will be two teams formed for this assignment. The first team will consist of Jugo-san, Suigetsu-san, Sora-san, and Negi-kun." The aforementioned four nodded. "The second team will consist of Kotarou-kun, Asuna-chan, Setsuna-chan, and Kaede-chan." The next four affirmed his decision. "And you two will be led Karasu; he will be your joint leader."

Karasu nodded. "As you wish," he replied.

Koyuki smiled at Minato. "Thank you, Hokage-sama. I appreciate your aid and will repay it in the future."

"You're welcome, Daimyo-sama. Will you be staying in Konoha for a little while before returning?"

"I'm afraid I can't, Hokage-sama. I have to return to my people quickly before anything worse happens to them."

"I will stay, Hokage-sama," Gaara spoke up, "I need some time to rest from the journey."

"As you wish," Minato waved a hand and summoned another ANBU, "Prepare rooms for the Kazekage. He and his siblings are guests in our village."

"As you command, Hokage-sama," she replied before leaving the office.

He turned to the teams and said, "You have your orders. Gather what tools you will need for your trip and meet Daimyo-sama by the front gates."

They all saluted and said, "Hai, Hokage-sama."

Kumogakure

Mabui leaned back in her chair and checked her watch. There are only 20 minutes left on the clock and no one had managed to leave the room so far.

"This is boring," Tee grunted beside her, "Aside from one group or another getting angry at the questions, nothing interesting has happened." Dee gave a soft hum, agreeing with him. "Only a few of our teams have succeeded in escaping the room."

"Don't be surprised," Mabui replied, "This test is completely out of left field and everyone is confused as to how to answer it."

"Did you make the test, Mabui-san," Dee asked.

"Yes, I did. I handed Raikage the draft involving the questions and the purpose of the test. He agreed and I began writing the test."

"What's the purpose of the test then?"

"I'll tell you in 20 minutes."

Tee and Dee pouted but didn't push her. They knew better than to even try persuading the Raikage's assistant. She's just as headstrong and stubborn as he was.

Mabui internally smirked at their reaction but kept a vigilant eye on the teams. Despite her silence on the matter, she too felt bored by what she was seeing. The vast majority of the teams were just answering the test normally and it was rather dull.

Then, her eyes caught sight of another monitor. It showed the room containing the team of Sharingan no Kakashi. In it, all three had forgone answering the test and focused on their room instead. Curious, she thought to herself.

Shinku was just reading the test, not even bothering to answer it. Sorairo was scouring the room, opening drawers and cupboards and meddling with the furniture. Yoruha, however, was crouched in front of the door, fiddling with it.

"What are those guys doing," Dee asked.

"They're not answering the test; they're just messing around." Tee turned to Mabui. "Are you going to allow this?"

"As long as they are not communicating with any team other than their own or using any jutsu, they can do whatever they want. Those are the rules," she calmly stated, while inwardly smiling. At least someone's getting the purpose of this exam.

"But-but," he tried, "they're not answering the test. Isn't answering the test the only way to leave the room?"

She shook her head. "I thought that you two would have listened to me intently. I didn't say that they should answer the test. I said that they should escape the room." Their eyes widened. "One should listen closely to the instructions because even words can be used as a tool by ninjas. Cloaking one word with another, twisting facts to one's own purpose, and making people focus on or think of the wrong thing when you speak, that's a mark of a good ninja."

They were wide-eyed at her, making her push up her glasses.

"There's a reason why I'm Raikage-sama's assistant. I'm more than a cute face; I take my job very seriously and won't suffer anything less."

"I got the lock," Yoruha spoke from within the room to his teammates, "Now let's get out of here."

"Are you sure, man," Sorairo asked, "I mean, we're supposed to answer the test."

Yoruha pocketed his lock-picking tools and turned to them. "No. We're supposed to escape the room. The test is probably some sort of red herring, meant to distract us from escaping this room. I am willing to bet that the proctors wouldn't even do anything if we left this room with an empty test paper."

"Where'd you even learn how to pick locks," Shinku asked with a raised brow.

"I was a freelancer when I was very young and before I was in Konoha," he stood up and fixed his cloak, "I learned how to pick locks whenever I was given a mission to steal something for someone."

"Oh, I see."

"Now, let's get going." He opened the door. "We should get to the main lobby." Yoruha then left through the door and the other two followed after him. They just rounded a corner when they came face-to-face with a Kumogakure jonin.

As the rules were still in effect regarding jutsu use, they were uncertain about their chances of getting past this large ninja.

The dark-skinned shinobi raised a brow at them, watching them crouch into fighting stances. He gave a grunt and said, "The lobby is that way, pipsqueaks." He pointed at the other direction with his head. "Get going and don't talking to anyone." They all gaped at him. He gave a small glare. "What? You want a fight?"

"Ah, no," Yoruha immediately replied, "Thank you. We'll just head over down."

Grunting again, the Kumo-nin watched as the team went the other way and down the stairs.

"Come on!" Another commotion reached his ears. "The lobby's this way!"

He massaged the bridge of his nose as another team rounded the corner and into him. It's rather shameful that the team was Kumo's. "Didn't Mabui-san tell you to keep it quiet," he growled.

The lead instigator gulped and looked away, embarrassed. "S-Sorry. We just want to get to the lobby because there's only less than 15 minutes left."

"The lobby is the other way. Now, get over there and be quiet."

The lone female nodded. "Okay. Sorry and thank you."

"Kids," he muttered under his breath.

Back in another room, two of a Suna's team were looking in shock at their third teammate.

"This is too easy," she whined, "Is this the whole test?!"

"Yukata," Matsuri asked disbelievingly, "You're done? I haven't even gotten halfway and we only have 15 minutes left."

Her brown eyes showed her confusion. "What are you talking about, Matsuri-chan? These questions are incredibly easy!" She showed them her paper. "See, this question here. 'What is a wingless fly?' It's obviously a walk! I mean, if you don't have wings, then you can't fly! Then it's just walking instead of flying!"

"W-Well, it could be talking about the insect fly," Mikoshi suggested, making her giggle.

"It's the same thing, silly. A wingless insect can't really fly; it can only walk to where it wants to go!" She pointed to another question. "And there's this question. 'It'th thimple. Find the moth!'"

Mikoshi pushed up his glasses. "The first sentence aside, isn't the answer the moth in the middle?"

She shook her head again. "That's part of the joke, you see. The question had a lisp on purpose so that S's are TH's. So 'it's simple. Find the moss!' And the moss is that one on the left!"

Matsuri palmed her head. "Only Yukata could do this very easily."

She pouted. "Hey! I can tell that you're making fun of me!"

Mikoshi sighed. "In any case, let's copy your answers and get out of here."

Yukata tilted her head. "Isn't that cheating?"

"We're not allowed to use any jutsu or to talk to anyone else when we're done. That's what the head proctor told us. Copying answers shouldn't change anything."

"Well, if you're sure…" Yukata handed her paper to her teammates, who started to copy her answers.

In another room, Seishi gave a big groan as she put down her pen and stretched her arms into the air. "This is hard! Why couldn't it have been about ninja stuff instead of whatever this is?"

"I know, right," Yakumo agreed, "I don't know the point of these questions at all!"

Ki took a deep breath and let out a rather soft yell of energy. "Yosh," she shouted, "even if the questions aren't related to ninjas, we can still gain something from it!"

Seishi tilted her head. "Like what, Ki-chan," she asked.

Ki pumped her right fist and grabbed the wrist with her left hand. "My right hand has gotten its workout from this test! Whatever the next test will be, I will use my left hand only to balance it out! Afterwards, I will use only my right foot! And then I will use my left foot! I will not be stopped!"

Seishi and Yakumo had inched away from the fiery taijutsu specialist until their backs were to the wall. At that point, they looked at each other and sighed in exasperation, unable to ignore their invigorated teammate.

"Now, my friends," she continued to shout, "let's leave this room and proceed unhampered to the main lobby!"

Mabui watched Team Fate being escorted to the lobby by an attendant. That's another Konoha team passing this test. She marked it off in her clipboard before saying aloud to the microphone, "Ten minutes remaining." She then leaned back in her seat, amused at seeing every remaining team rush in an attempt to finish the exam.

Upon hearing that proclamation, Kohaku put his hands to his head in worry. "AAAHHHH," he exclaimed, "What do we do?! We're not finished yet!"

Arashi gave a sigh of exasperation. "Stop overreacting. We have ten minutes left, Kohaku, not oneor even five. We can answer what we could in five minutes and just submit our papers to the proctor and head over to the lobby with five minutes remaining." She crossed her arms in a huff. "We should at least strive for a passing grade at this point."

"We have no choice," Akai frowned, "We don't have enough time to finish the exams." She raised her pen and restarted writing the exams. I can only hope that the others are done with their tests too."

Five minutes later, the proctor escorted the team onto the lobby and came across the team with Sen, Sari, and Ittetsu also being escorted by another proctor.

"Sen-san, Sari-san, Ittetsu-san," Akai greeted them, "it's good that you managed to leave the room as well."

Sari grinned wide as both teams were led to the stairs. "You guys did too! I'm happy for you guys!"

Kohaku smirked as he put his arms behind his head. "I'm sure that we'll get a high grade for this test!"

"That's the spirit! I'm confident that we will also have a good score!"

They were dropped off by the lobby where there was already some number of genin teams gathered, albeit a lot fewer in number compared to when they started.

"Where are they," Akai muttered under his breath.

"There's too many people here," Sen hesitatingly said, "I can't see our friends from here."

"Come on," Ittetsu beckoned them, "Let's look for them."

(Mabui's voice echoed in the lobby, announcing, "Five minutes remaining.")

"Can you see them," Sari asked.

Sen shook her head. "I can see other Suna-nin but I can't see Matsuri or her group."

"Surely, Ki should be shouting at the top of her lungs about the Flames of Youth or something if she was here," Arashi suggested jokingly, "Kohaku, try doing it and maybe she'll respond."

Kohaku's eyes widened. "That's a great idea!" Arashi looked horrified but she was too late to stop him from shouting. "KI, I AM FILLED WITH THE FLAMES OF YOUTH! JOIN ME, SISTER!"

Everyone turned to and glared at them. Someone jumped from the crowd and landed in front of Kohaku. It was Ki and her eyes were just as one fire as he was. "I AM HERE, KOHAKU! NOW, LET US-"

She was cut off by Mabui through the speakers. She said, "Security to hallway 2-B! Security to hallway 2-B!"

"What," slowly asked Yoruha, "is going on?"

In another area of the lobby, Seishi looked at her surroundings, seeing the others look just as confused as they did. She put her hands together in a seal and closed her eyes. Seconds later, her eyes snapped open as she grasped Yakumo's shoulder.

"What is it?" Yakumo looked concerned.

Seishi raised a hand to her chest and clenched her fist, saying, "Those Iwa ninjas from earlier attacked Shakuren's team."

Hallway 2-B – Earlier

"Come on," Shakuren ran and looked back to call to his team, "We only have five minutes left!"

"Calm down, Shakuren," Akua called back, "We still have five minutes to get to the lobby!"

"We still would have to find our friends in that mess so we will need those five minutes!"

Shu panted behind them. "Slow down, damn it! I'm not exactly running material here!"

Shakuren laughed good-naturedly. "When we get back to Konoha, I'm going to have Sasuke-sensei put you through some physical training!"

"Like hell you will!"

With another laugh, he rounded a corner and bumped into someone. As both Shakuren and the person he bumped into fell to the ground, Shu and Akua, with no room to stop, joined the pile, followed by two other people.

"Ow, ow, ow," Shakuren moaned from beneath the pile of bodies, "That hurt."

"No shit," a familiar voice spoke from directly above him.

He gritted out, "You?!"

"What?! Of all the people I had to bump into, it had to be you three?!" The Iwa-nin looked behind him, to the other four on top of him and he snarled. "Get offa me!"

With groans, they removed themselves from the pile and walked away from each other. Then, the Iwa-nin and Shakuren followed suit and recovered from the impact.

Shaking his head, the Iwa-nin growled, "Not only did you assholes insult us an hour ago, you guys have the guts to bump into us?!"

"Hey," Shakuren replied back, "We didn't know that anyone was around that corner! We were just on our way to the lobby when both of us hit each other."

"Well, news flash, kid, that doesn't change the fact that you hit us." He cracked his knuckles. "You didn't even say sorry to us."

"Look, I'm sorry that we hit you but both of us don't have time for this. We need to get down to the lobby before the time runs out."

"We," he mocked with a laugh, "There's no 'we' here. My team and I are going to the lobby." He smirked maliciously. "You guys, on the other hand, are going nowhere." The other two looked a bit surprised before they too gave smirks of their own. "Look around us. Right now, there are no proctors here right now. We can continue our fight from earlier."

"We don't have time for this," Shu gritted out, "but we will if you get in our way."

"Oh, we definitely are in your way. Ready or not, you bastards, this is payback!" He leapt at Shakuren with his fists raised.

He dodged to the side and widened the space between them. "Don't do this," he pleaded, "We're still in the middle of exams. I don't want either of us to fail because of this."

"Shut up!" He stood up and charged back at him, who blocked his attack. "Just fight me!"

His teammates took the cue and leapt at Shu and Akua, who also leapt into action.

Shu, despite having little training in taijutsu due to his focus on genjutsu, was capable of handling mere brawls as this. He dodged the fist aimed at his head and then parried a blow to his stomach. Ducking under a wide swipe, he pushed his assailant away and crouched to the ground and swept his leg under his. When the Iwa-nin fell to the floor, Shu kept his distance and waited for the next attack.

Akua was a lot more graceful. She less dodged the blows and more danced around them. She twirled to the side and pushed a punch to the side. As the Iwa-nin spun around to continue his assault, Akua took to taking steps backwards while dodging his strikes. After the fourth strike, she found an opening and grabbed the offending limb to land an elbow strike at his chest. As the boy stumbled back, Akua followed through by spinning around and kicking him further away.

Shakuren kept his hands raised in front of his head because his opponent aimed most of his attacks at his face. He leaned sideways to avoid a punch and brought his arms together to block the next one. He was, though, unprepared for the kick that hit his torso. As he buckled forward, his neck was grabbed and was pulled up to make Shakuren face him. Despite his pain, he had enough presence of mind to raise his hands to his face to block the upcoming fist. He was also aware enough to plant a leg at him and kick him away.

Both teams regrouped and glared at each other while catching their breaths.

The lead Iwa-nin snarled, "Enough of this!" He then started to flash through handseals, much to Team Sasuke's shock.

They were about to react accordingly when they heard Mabui through the speakers, "Security to hallway 2-B! Security to hallway 2-B!"

Within seconds, two Kumo jonin appeared in front of both teams and stopped both fights.

The Iwa-nin stopped in mid-seal as he stared up at the glaring face of the dark-skinned kunoichi.

The pale-skinned shinobi in front of Team Sasuke kept a close eye on Shakuren's hands, which were inches away from each other.

Three new people joined the hallway and everyone turned to a scowling Mabui, Tee, and Dee.

"Team Sasuke, Team Shirotsuchi, did I not state that I will not tolerate conflict in this exam?" She kept her cold glare on the two teams. "Or did neither of you comprehend the meaning behind those words?"

"But, Mabui-san," Akua started, "it was accident and those guys blew it out of proportion." She squeaked into silence when Mabui fixed her stare on her.

"I am aware of the circumstances; I saw it all through the cameras. I had hoped that you two would act cordial towards each other when it happened. Imagine my disappointment when it devolved into a fight." She turned to Team Sasuke. "I applaud you three, though, for attempting to stop the fight before it began." She then turned to Team Shirotsuchi. "You three, on the other hand, are a disappointment. Letting your emotions get the best of you is an embarrassment. As the instigators of this fight, you three are therefore disqualified from participating further from this exam." The three of them gave sounds of indignation, making her narrow her eyes. "You three are ninjas of a village. Act like it! Until then, until the next Chuunin Exams, you three remain genin." She turned back to Team Sasuke. "As the defenders in this, I will not disqualify you. However, this'll be your only chance. If you get into another unsanctioned fight, whether you are the instigator or defender, you will be disqualified. Am I clear?"

Team Sasuke straightened up and said, "Yes, Mabui-san!"

Nodding, she pushed up her glasses and said, "Get to the lobby then. You have one minute to get there." Almost immediately after, they rushed off to the lobby. "Now, Jii, Vee, escort Team Shirotsuchi into their rooms and wait for further instructions for those who failed the exam."

The two jonin nodded and did as told, ignoring the scowls and glares being sent their way by the team.

Lounge

The aforementioned Shirotsuchi massaged his forehead. "That was embarrassing. I thought I taught them better than that."

Kitsuchi grunted. "I'd let them wait through the next Chuunin Exams as punishment so that they'll learn to control their emotions."

Nanigashi gave a small frown. "It'd be too cruel for aspiring ninjas, Kitsuchi-san. Perhaps a simpler exercise would be better."

"You're too soft, Nanigashi."

Sasuke let loose a breath of relief. "That was a close one. I thought they'd be disqualified for sure."

"It's a good thing, though," Sakura spoke up, "that they didn't go all-out against them. That might have made things worse for them. At least, they only got a warning."

"Indeed," said Pakura, "Still, it would be a good idea to have a discussion with your team, Sasuke-san. They might need to reflect on what they had been through." Sasuke nodded in response.

The TV then showed to the lobby where the genin teams who passed the exams were gathered. Mabui, Tee, and Dee then appeared and stood atop the podium. The moment they did so, the doors to the lobby closed.

Mabui stepped forward and addressed the entire genin group. "Congratulations to all who are gathered here; you all have passed the first exam. It's unfortunate for those who didn't manage to escape the room but they have another opportunity for the next Chuunin Exams, whenever what that may be."

She continued, "Now, I assume you are all wondering about the test questions you've been given?" They all nodded. "You all must be confused as to what it has to do with being a ninja, why the higher-ups even allowed this exam to go through with these kinds of questions?" Again, they nodded. "Who among you, despite these concerns, answered the test questions?" Majority raised their hands. "During those 60 minutes you spent answering them, have you reflected deeply about the test?" There was a combination of yeses and noes. "And for those who didn't answer the test, did you not answer the test because you found it childish or nonsensical?" There were far more noes than yeses.

"Regardless of your answers, know that the exam wasn't focused on your answers to the questions. It was focused on whether you completed your objective." She pushed her glasses up her nose. "Your objective, if you would remember, was to escape the room you are in and get into this lobby. The test questions were there to distract you from achieving that objective." She smirked. "Had you paid attention, you would notice that I didn't say that answering the test was required; I only said what you should do if you finished answering the test. The proctors were given orders to take your test papers…whether they were answered or not." Everyone looked shocked and started to talk amongst themselves. "Yes, you could have passed the first part of the Chuunin Exams within five minutes and without answering a single question. All you needed to do once the test started was to just call the proctor, hand over your test papers, and head over to the lobby." She crossed her arms. "Whenever you're out on a mission, you are usually given a suggested method of completing it. Sometimes, though, the suggested method is the quickest or the easiest but it's often not the smartest or most efficient. In that case, you have to search for alternate methods to achieve your objective and this test is meant to gauge your ability to do so."

Yoruha raised his hand and asked, "So the test was indeed a red herring?"

"Yes and no," she replied, "For those who answered the test, you are not judged any differently than your peers who didn't. This test wouldn't affect your standing in this exam, whether you passed or not. However, this test was meant to gauge your ability to think outside the box, not your intelligence. Some of these questions are meant to be literal, some has answers right in front of your face, and some take a little thinking. As you go higher up in the ranks, you will inevitably face problems that would need a simpler approach instead of a complex one, a basic answer instead of an advanced one. Learn this well. There is no such thing as a straightforward or set way to accomplish your objective. What you've been told, what is presented to you, is not the only way; there is always more than one way to get to your goal." She watched them all give signs of acknowledgement. "With that, I call the first phase of the Chuunin Exams as over." She spread her arms wide towards the genin teams in front of her. "Congratulations again to all of you who passed. The next phase of the Chuunin Exams will take place along the outskirts of Kumogakure, in the Unraikyo. If you will follow me, I will take you there, where I will hand over the reins to the next exam proctor."

Yuki no Kuni

Having arrived on the shores of Yuki no Kuni, Koyuki and her companions were confused upon seeing someone running up to them from the train parked at the station.

"Hiro," Koyuki asked, "what's going on? Why are you like this?"

"M-Milady," Hiro exclaimed as he fell to the ground in both fatigue and panic, "our scouts have reported that the flying shinobi are returning for another attack!"

Koyuki's eyes widened and she said, "It's fortunate then that we had arrived just in time."

"That's not all, milady!" He struggled to catch his breath. "Our scouts also reported seeing ships approaching our land, both from the north and the south! We're being full-on invaded, milady!"

Now, all their eyes were wide.

"WHAT?!"


And that's the end of the next chapter of FHDFHR and that marks the beginning of the Snow and Clouds Arc.

Read and Review.