Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto...
Hey everyone, it has been a really long time since I last updated a story and for that I apologise from the deepest depths of my heart. I am entering service into my country's army on the 13th of June, which means I will be inactive for a very long time. So I hope to update as much as possible before I have to enter, the first of which will be this story!
Also just watched Blood Prison again, thinking of including Ryuuzetsu into the harem. Thoughts?
Well now I'm back with this chapter of Path of the Samurai and without any further delay, enjoy!
Chapter 3: The path I walk
Konohagakure no Sato
Senju Tsunade, the Godaime Hokage of Konoha, looked up from her paperwork as the sound of multiple footfalls sounded from the corridor outside her office followed by someone rapping their knuckle against the door.
"Enter!" She called out tersely as she gladly shoved her paperwork off to one corner of her desk as the door to the office swung open and people started filing in one by one.
Raking her hazel eyes over the gathered audience, she noted that everyone she had called for was in attendance. First there was the remainder of Team Seven, consisting of Haruno Sakura and Hatake Kakashi. Team Eight consisting of Inuzuka Kiba, Hyuuga Hinata, Aburame Shino and their Jounin instructor Yuuhi Kurenai, Team Nine consisting of Rock Lee, Higurashi Tenten, Hyuuga Neji and their rather eccentric Jounin instructor Maito Gai, Team Ten consisting of Nara Shikamaru, Akimichi Chouji, Yamanaka Ino and their laidback Jounin instructor Sarutobi Asuma.
In addition, Umino Iruka, Shizune, Morino Ibiki and Mitarashi Anko were in attendance as well. To her right stood the bandaged figure of one Shimura Danzo with his two apprentices while on her left stood the intimidating figure of Jiraiya of the Sannin. Observing them keenly, she was pleased to note that the Genins involved in the Uchiha retrieval mission were well on their road to recovery.
"Now... I'm sure the majority of you are wondering why you are gathered here am I right?" Tsunade asked in a rather subdued tone, getting many small nods of acknowledgement. "Well the reason is regarding the Uchiha retrieval mission..."
Immediately chatter burst out across the room as people started asking questions before a particularly loud voice belonging to the pink-haired Genin of Team Seven broke through, "What happened to Sasuke-kun? Did Naruto bring him back?!"
"...no. The Uchiha retrieval mission was a failure, Uchiha Sasuke managed to cross the border and is now probably in the hands of Orochimaru." Tsunade replied with a sigh as an even louder din erupted through the office.
"Failed... b-but Naruto promised me he would bring Sasuke-kun back! He promised! I can't believe that baka (idiot) broke his promise, I'm going to pound his head in when I see him again!" Sakura screamed as tears of anger and sadness fell from her eyes.
Tsunade growled lowly as she glared at the pink-haired Genin, "What makes you so sure you would ever see him again? Especially since he seems to have left the village as well, all because of that fucking Uchiha brat you worship!"
"W-what?" Sakura stammered as her eyes widened at the news.
"You heard me... Uzumaki Naruto seems to have left as well. We are unsure if it was by his own choice or against it but all we managed to recover was his Hitai-ate (Forehead Protector) abandoned at the edge of the forest..." Tsunade said solemnly as she placed said item on her desk, getting a gasp from the scarred Chunnin Instructor.
"That's definitely Naruto's... I would recognise it anywhere as it was my old Hitai-ate that I had passed to him as a present for graduating the Genin Exams..." Iruka spoke up with a soft smile as he recalled that particular event.
There was a small period of shocked silence that filled the office before everyone suddenly burst out asking questions and shouting causing the Senju heiress to slam a fist on her desk, "SHUT UP!"
"...that's better. Now one at a time..." She said before pointing at Kiba.
"Hokage-sama I mean no disrespect but... this is Naruto we're talking about here! The same blonde idiot that would play pranks, annoy people and proclaim that he would become Hokage almost nonstop... there's no way he would abandon the village!" Kiba pointed out, getting many nods from the audience.
"I-I agree w-with K-Kiba-kun... N-Naruto-kun isn't t-the kind of p-person to d-do that..." Hinata stuttered as she poked her fingers together. 'I hope you're safe Naruto-kun...'
"I too agree with Kiba. While Naruto may be loud, annoying and brash... he was definitely loyal to a fault." Ino added on.
Tsunade found herself agreeing with all their points, which was why she found it so hard to believe that the blonde hyperactive Genin would ever willingly abandon the village he so desperately wanted to be leader off. Her eyes landed on a slightly frowning Shikamaru as he gazed at the Hitai-ate on the table, deep in thought.
"Nara! What are your thoughts on this?" Tsunade asked causing the lazy shinobi to sigh dramatically.
"Troublesome... at first I too find it impossible that Naruto would abandon Konoha and his dreams of becoming Hokage." Shikamaru replied slowly as if he was still fitting the pieces of the puzzle together. "However... what is the number one rule that every shinobi learns in the shinobi academy..."
"Deception is key..." Danzo muttered before his lone eye widened slightly. "Chunnin... surely you don't suggest that Uzumaki had been leading us on this entire time?"
"I know it sounds a little farfetched but bear with me for a moment..." Shikamaru said as he placed his hands together in his signature thinking position with his eyes closed. "First off, everyone wrote him off as a failure of a shinobi because he couldn't perform the Bunshin no Jutsu (Clone Technique) during the academy... am I right Iruka-sensei?"
Iruka seemed startled for a moment before looking down sadly, "Hai... no matter how much I tried to help, it seemed like he could never form the required three clones to pass."
"Yet he managed to learn a more advanced clone technique, the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Shadow Clone Technique) through an unknown means... or at the very least, unknown to our graduating class." Shikamaru opened his eyes and looked directly into his academy teacher's own.
"Well seems like you caught on..." Iruka sighed, getting looks from everyone in the room. "With the Sandaime dead, I am the only person here who knows the truth of Naruto passing the Genin Exams."
"What do you mean the truth? Didn't he pass some make-up test like you told us?" Chouji asked in confusion.
"No... the truth is he helped defeat Mizuki, who was a traitor to Konoha and had tricked Naruto into stealing the Forbidden Scroll located within the Hokage vault..." Iruka then proceeded to recount the entire events of that particular night, shocking almost everyone in the room.
"Troublesome... but this just adds more weight to my theory. Naruto managed to learn a Kinjutsu (Forbidden Technique) from a scroll within an hour... however the regular clone technique lay beyond his grasp despite years of practice and tutoring. Or should I say, he could never be able to perform it at all." The Nara continued on as he closed his eyes again.
"The brat is right... the Bunshin no Jutsu required only miniscule amounts of chakra to create. And for a chakra powerhouse like Naruto, his reserves were simply too large to perform such a small scale technique like that... hence why the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu was a perfect replacement for him." Jiraiya explained.
"Exactly, also Naruto recently had another jutsu added to his current arsenal... the Rasengan (Spiralling Sphere). The famous A-ranked technique that the Yondaime Hokage himself took three years to create, I would assume both Kakashi-sensei and Jiraiya-sama learnt the jutsu as well?"
"I tried copying it using the Sharingan but it came out incomplete and unstable, it took me a further six months to learn how to stabilise it properly and even then it still couldn't match up to the original..." Kakashi admitted with a sign.
"Minato taught it to me, I took a year to get it down... and I'm starting to see where you're coming from." Jiraiya stated as the gears in his head started turning as well. "Naruto only took a week to perform a fully stable and working Rasengan, albeit with the help of a shadow clone..."
"Naruto, the one everyone claims to be an idiot, took a week to learn an A-ranked jutsu that took a Sannin a year to learn... Kakashi-sensei, who was the one that made the Wave mission successful?" Shikamaru asked the silver-haired Jounin.
"It was Sasuke-kun of course!" Sakura cut in with a smile, getting a fierce glare from the normally docile Nara.
"Did I ask you? No, I asked your sensei. So keep your trap shut!" Shikamaru hissed, getting wide eyed looks from everyone in the room.
"Umm... it was Naruto who taught up the plan to save me from A-ranked missing-nin Momochi Zabuza after he had captured me in his jutsu. Naruto saved the client's daughter and grandson from being kidnapped and used as bargaining tools, he also saved Sasuke from the Hyoton (Ice Release) wielding accomplice of Zabuza and finally inspiring the people of Nami no Kuni (Land of Waves) to stand up for themselves... they named the bridge after him as thanks." Kakashi replied truthfully.
"Naruto once again proving his moniker as the dead-last wrong as he will continue to do so at almost every turn... it was Naruto who saved Daimyo Koyuki and defeated Dotou in the Yuki no Kuni (Land of Snow), he defeated Kiba in the preliminaries, then proving everyone wrong by defeating the 'Hyuuga prodigy' Neji in the finals and then going on to summon Gamabunta to defeat the Ichibi Jinchuuriki, Sabaku no Gaara, in his fully released form." Shikamaru listed instance after instance of Naruto saving the day.
"So you're saying that blonde gaki was really a genius in hiding?" Anko asked.
"I'm not just saying it... I'm completely certain that he is a genius in hiding. One last thing is something that I have never told anyone before, something kept between Naruto and myself only..." Shikamaru paused as he took a deep breath and sighed. "Naruto often hung out with me just to play Shogi... and I have never beaten him once."
"Are you serious?!" Asuma exclaimed as he dropped his lighter in shock.
"Huh? What's the big deal... it's only a game..." Sakura said.
"Shogi is a game that involves a lot of thinking and an excellent strategic mind as well as the ability to think up new strategies on the go as the situation demands... and Shikamaru has only ever lost to one other person..." Asuma explained before looking over to his student.
"...my father, Nara Shikaku. The head of the Intelligence Gathering department as well as Head Jounin of the shinobi corps..." Shikamaru told them, getting gasps of disbelief.
"B-but he always failed all his written tests in class!" Ino shouted.
"Correct... however there are many different kinds of genius. And Naruto just happens to be a genius on the battlefield; he was able to think up multiple strategies in the blink of an eye whenever I played against him. And the thing is his strategies were always unpredictable... which is what makes him deadly in the field." The pineapple-haired Chunnin sighed again as he finished explaining.
"Amazing... that Uzumaki has managed to fool us all... truly remarkable..." Danzo whispered to himself, further regretting being unable to teach the blonde shinobi.
"So what does he being a genius have to do with him leaving the village?" Tsunade asked with narrowed eyes as her mind absorbed all the new information being exposed.
"That is part two of my theory... why would Uzumaki Naruto resort to hiding his true skills from people that are supposed to be his comrades and friends? What would cause him to create his mask, that fake happy go lucky persona that he always wore...?" Shikamaru noticed the way the adults in the room seemed to stiffen up slightly, further increasing his suspicion.
"What do you mean...? I mean sure he was an orphan but was it really that bad?" Tenten asked.
"I wondered that too and then remembered that his birthday was on the tenth of October... the day of the Kyuubi's attack." Shikamaru replied as he started pacing the available space in the room. "That still doesn't add up though... why would being born on the date of the Kyuubi's attack cause any form of issue for him?"
"Didn't Yondaime-sama kill the Kyuubi? Isn't that why we celebrate the Kyuubi festival every year on that date? So shouldn't it be great to be born on that day?" Lee asked with his thick eyebrows knitted together in confusion.
"Supposedly... just like how it was 'supposedly' impossible to kill a Bijū (Tailed-Beast) yet they claimed that the Yondaime Hokage managed to kill the Kyuubi no Yoko. What I think is that he couldn't kill the Kyuubi so he did the next best thing when it came to a Bijū, he sealed it inside a baby and not just any baby... he sealed it inside Uzumaki Naruto, making him the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Yoko. Am I right Hokage-sama?" Shikamaru stopped pacing as he looked right at the blonde-haired female Kage.
"...sometimes you Nara are just too damn smart for your own good." Tsunade sighed as she pressed a finger to a seal on the underside of her desk and channelled some of her chakra into it to activate it. "I've just activated a silencing seal so whatever I am about to disclose to you will not leave this room. Failure to comply will result in punishment fitting off the exposure of an S-ranked secret, which is public execution..."
A series of nervous gulps followed that statement before Jiraiya stepped forward and cleared his throat, "I believe I should be the one to explain this as I was Minato's sensei... yes you are right in your assumption that Naruto is indeed the Kyuubi's Jinchuuriki. Minato couldn't kill the Kyuubi so he performed the only remaining action possible... he sealed it into Naruto in hopes that he would learn how to control the Kyuubi's power."
"Wasn't the Kyuubi said to be a force of nature, capable of causing Tsunamis and Earthquakes with barely any effort? How could someone seal something so powerful and even if that was possible, how could anyone managed to tame such a scary power?" Neji asked in a subdued tone, finally realising that Naruto had lived his life under the oppression of a seal he never wanted as well.
"Minato was a genius... a true genius that really only comes along once in every generation. He excelled especially in the department of Fuuinjutsu (Sealing Techniques), going so far as to invent the jutsu which made him famous throughout the Elemental Nations... the Hiraishin no Jutsu (Flying Thunder God Technique)." Jiraiya stated with a prideful smile at the accomplishments of his deceased student.
"So the Yondaime used his superior knowledge of Fuuinjutsu to seal the Kyuubi into Naruto... probably using some kind of suppressor seal to keep the Kyuubi from influencing Naruto yet allowing him to access Kyuubi's chakra. So it wasn't because of the pranks that Naruto was glared at... it was because he was the container of the Kyuubi." Shikamaru deduced with a sigh.
"That's correct. You have no idea how many times I had to save him from drunken mobs when I was still serving in the ANBU division..." Kakashi said sadly.
Tsunade silently observed the shifting expressions of the people in her office, Danzo and Jiraiya had their poker faces on and gave nothing away as to what they might be thinking. She noticed as Anko's hand drifted over the Cursed Mark on her shoulder, both Ibiki and Kurenai giving her sympathetic glances.
'He was just like me... shunned for something beyond our control... I should've reached out to him instead of wallowing in my own self-pity.' Anko thought with a grimace.
'I should've paid more attention to Naruto... how can I ever face Minato-sensei again knowing that I had failed to uphold his teachings and ignored his son...' Kakashi thought with regret and depression.
'So he too knew the burden that came with being oppressed by a seal yet he did not allow it to negatively affect him... you are truly strong Naruto and I will forever be in your debt for opening my eyes to my own faults.' Neji closed his eyes and silently wished his absent friend to be safe.
'Naruto-kun... you are so strong... I wish I could be more like you... I want to get stronger so I can bring you back to the village...' Hinata vowed to herself.
'Naruto always had this burden within him... yet he still kept trying to keep up his cheerful façade... and I belittled him for it... what kind of person am I?' Were the shared thoughts of both Ino and Sakura, looking at each other with downtrodden expressions.
"So the reason he left is because he couldn't put up with the village's bullshit any longer... and the fact that he might possibly never achieve his dream of being Hokage." Shikamaru concluded but quickly held his hands up as multiple angered gazes turned onto him. "Wait let me clarify!"
Sighing as he rubbed his temple, "Troublesome, I believe everyone knows how Naruto is treated by the majority of the civilians and a portion of the shinobi forces as well? That's exactly the reason why he would never achieve his dream, to be Hokage means more than just being some sort of figurehead."
"I understand where the Nara boy is coming from now... Uzumaki would have needed the complete and utter trust and loyalty of his village behind him if he were to become Hokage. If he can't even trust his own village to watch his back then how would he function as a proper Kage?" Danzo explained as he gestured out the window to the village beyond.
"I... I never thought about it like that..." Tsunade said with wide eyes before she hardened her gaze and slammed her fist onto the surface of her desk. "So the reason he left is because of the idiotic actions of the villagers..."
"Possibly, we still can't rule out the option that he might have been kidnapped whilst unconscious. The boy from what I remember has always been trusting and naïve. He could have been swayed by whatever lies his captors may have told him, but that is not important at the moment." Danzo slammed his cane onto the wooden ground to silence the rising chatter. "The main issue at the moment is that we don't even have a clue to his location, for all we know, Akatsuki could have gotten to him already."
"Even if they have captured him, they would not be able to seal him yet. The information obtained through my spy network states that the Kyuubi has to be sealed last, the beast holds too much power and would unbalance their sealing structure. Akatsuki would not risk revealing their main base by holding a shinobi captive for such a long duration, especially a Jinchuuriki at that." Jiraiya spoke up from his position.
"...all we can do at the moment is to carry on with our lives. And pray that Jiraiya's information network manages to find some trace of Naruto, I'll also be deploying tracking units to patrol around the borders of Hi no Kuni just in case." Tsunade sighed as she watched the gloomy expressions on her shinobi's faces.
"Excuse me Hokage-sama, but I don't think that is the only thing you've called us here for... now why don't you introduce us to the two fine young gentlemen standing by Danzo's side?" Kakashi eye-smiled as he tilted his head in the direction of the two silent teenagers, getting a shift in posture from them.
Danzo gestured for the two male teens at his side to step forward, "Perhaps you should allow me to do the introductions Tsunade-hime?"
He received a nod for him to continue.
"For those of you here who are not acquainted with my person, I am Shimura Danzo. I serve as an advisor to the Hokage and used to serve as a shinobi alongside my rival Sarutobi Hiruzen, whom you all would know as the Sandaime Hokage. What even less people know is that I have a programme in the running that picks up promising and talented strays and orphans off the street, giving them the chance to serve as shinobi. These two here are part of said programme, except they excelled further and faster than any other trainees I've had. Thus I had taken it upon myself to train both of them myself personally... both of you introduce yourself."
The grey-haired boy stepped forward first.
"My name is Shin, I do not know my family name. I will be turning fourteen this year. I have been trained in all facets of the shinobi arts but I excel in kenjutsu (sword techniques) and shurikenjutsu (shuriken techniques). My dreams for the future is to enter Konohagakure's Ansatsu Senjutsu Tokushu Butai (Special Assassination and Tactical Squad) and serve our village to the best of my abilities."
Next up was the pale-skinned, black-haired boy.
"My name is Sai, likewise my family name is unknown. I will be turning thirteen this year. I have been trained in all facets of the shinobi arts but I excel in my particular brand of ninjutsu revolving around bringing my paintings to life. At this moment it is still unknown if my particular ability is a Kekkei Genkai, Danzo-sama is still investigating that matter. My dreams for the future is similar to my partner's and that is to enter the ANBU division and serve Konoha to the best of my abilities."
The Jounins nodded in understanding as they were old enough to be aware of Danzo's not so secretive Root programme. The rookies on the other hand were a little thrown off by how robotic the two apprentices were, also they were unaware of the Root programme which was immediately voiced by Shikamaru.
"No offense Danzo-san, but if you ran a programme that trained orphans and strays... why was Naruto not inducted into your programme? Was it because of the Kyuubi being sealed into him?"
"Him being a Jinchuuriki had nothing to do with it, as a matter of fact, it was all the more reason I wanted him in my programme. Let's just say I am not exactly... lenient and my training schedules would be considered torture to some people, namely the Sandaime Hokage among them."
"Leave Sarutobi-sensei out of this, he had all rights to deny your request for Naruto to be given to you for training. You would just brainwash him into your mindless puppet just like-"
"Just like these two here? I am fully aware of what being a Jinchuuriki entails, that the hosts tap into their Bijū's (Tailed Beast) chakra when they are in a heightened emotional state. I would have let the boy keep his emotions but trained him in the art of control... to control his emotions instead of letting them control him. Hiruzen coddled the boy too much, yet at the same time he also ignored him to the same extent." Danzo cleared his throat as he looked at the blonde Hokage with a serious one-eyed gaze. "Face it Tsunade, Hiruzen failed the boy and he also failed Konoha. His weakness when it came to dealing with Orochimaru came back full circle, look where it landed him. Would you want the same to happen to the Uzumaki boy?"
Tsunade glared at the crippled advisor but could not refute his words, she could only grit her teeth and sigh in defeat as she looked back at the gathered shinobi before her. The blonde village leader could not help but notice how well they had taken the news of Naruto's status as a Jinchuuriki as well as his undetermined defection from the village, she steeled her gaze and started writing on a piece of paper.
"From this moment on, Uchiha Sasuke will be listed as a B-rank missing-nin. Capture alive if possible, death only if capture is impossible. Wanted for the crime of willingly defecting to a known S-rank missing-nin of Konoha as well as harming his fellow leaf shinobi. Uzumaki Naruto will be listed as an A-rank missing-nin. Capture alive at all costs. Death will not be tolerated. Wanted for questioning."
"Why are you listing Sasuke-kun as a missing-nin? He was being controlled by the cursed seal that Orochimaru planted on him!" Sakura shouted with tears in her eyes.
"Are you questioning your Hokage's orders Genin?" Tsunade glared at the pink-haired girl until she bowed her head and backed down.
"By morning tomorrow, the majority of Konoha's shinobi will be notified of the additions to our bingo book. As two of your students are absent without leave, the holes in your squad will be filled by these two here. Is that understood Kakashi?"
"I understand Tsunade-sama."
"Let me make this clear Jounin Hatake Kakashi... I am extremely disappointed in the reports I've seen for Team Seven. This is your only chance at redemption, if I find that you have been slacking in your duties again..." Tsunade growled as she slammed a clenched fist onto the table, turning it into dust. "Do I make myself clear?"
"Crystal Hokage-sama..." Kakashi gulped as he mentally bid goodbye to his relaxing time.
"Good... remember that none of you are allowed to mention anything that you have heard about in here. Not to your family, not to your friends, not to anyone! That is a direct order!"
"Hai Hokage-sama!" Everyone echoed.
"You are all dismissed..." She sighed and slumped back into her seat.
Danzo nodded to his apprentices, signalling them to follow their new squad. Slowly the shinobi filtered out from the office, leaving only the two loyal Sannin and one crippled old advisor within the room.
"As much as I hate to admit it, Danzo here really does make a good point. As idealistic as Sarutobi-sensei's 'Will of Fire' is, the fact that we are a shinobi village still stands. The reason we are in this deep a mess is because sensei did not put his foot down when the time called for it, allowing the situation to degrade as far as it did... still a portion of the blame rests with me as well..." Jiraiya sighed as he turned to look out the window. "As the boy's godfather, the duty to look after him fell to me after his parents' death... yet I left him to fend for himself."
"A mistake is only truly a mistake when one does not learn from it, I trust that both of you have learnt from this... if you will excuse me, I have other matters to attend to." Danzo said with a tilt of his head before making his way out of the room.
"...I'll see you around Tsunade-hime. I have to inform my spy network of the recent developments... as well as see if I can track down Naruto through my contacts." Jiraiya gave his teammate one last glance before leaping out the open window.
"Sometimes... I really hate my job..." Tsunade muttered as she buried her face in her hands.
Naruto sighed as he once again found himself standing in the maze of sewage tunnels that was known as his mindscape, complete with rusty pipes and dirty sewage water that flowed around his ankles. Following the glowing red pipes that represented the Kyuubi's chakra flow through his body, he soon entered the large cavernous area that held the cage containing his tenant. As always the dark grey jail bars held together by a flimsy-looking piece of seal stood between him and the giant demonic fox made of chakra.
"Can someone explain why my mind is a sewer again?"
"Silly meatbag, it just means you have a filthy mind!" Kyuubi rumbled as she opened a single crimson eye to look at her jailor.
"I resent that! I am nothing like Ero-Sennin!"
"Of course, and I'm a giant talking chakra construct of mass destruction..."
"...but you are a giant talking chakra construct of mass destruction."
"Wrong! I am THE giant talking chakra construct of mass destruction!"
"So... I got my assed kicked by the two Akatsuki shinobi huh?"
"No shit meatbag."
Naruto sighed as he conjured up a chair to sit on, placing his elbows on his knees and his face in his palms. A few seconds of silence was followed by another sigh as the young blond looked up at his tenant with a resigned look on his face.
"So if I took up that offer you mentioned to me during the one month break before the Chunnin Examinations final round... I would really get stronger? Strong enough to face off against the paired up S-rank missing-nin system that Akatsuki employs?"
"Yes and no. While it would definitely give you a major boost in power, power without control is worse than not having that power at all. Which is why I recommend you continue your training under that old sword-wielding meatbag, he looks like someone who can and will instil discipline into you." Kyuubi replied in a firm-tone, showing just how serious she was on the matter.
"I understand... but I don't believe that just learning kenjutsu will be enough. I appreciate your honesty on the subject of your offer and after careful months of deliberation in addition to my fight against Akatsuki yesterday... I've decided to take you up on that offer."
"You're serious? You trust me to hold up my end of the bargain?" Kyuubi seemed genuinely shocked at his response.
"You've explained to me about the night of my birth, how you were manipulated by a masked man wielding an advanced form of the Sharingan. Despite your insults and belittling of my race, you have never given me a reason to distrust you. If I allowed myself to be governed by the tales and rumours about you, I would be no better than the idiotic villagers from Konoha."
"...you're a strange meatbag. So when do you want it to happen?"
"I have an extra condition though..."
"An extra condition?"
"Oh it's nothing big really just... before it happens, you have to tell me your name. Your real name." Naruto said with a warm smile.
"My name? Why would you bother with something as trivial as that?" Kyuubi asked in confusion.
"Names are important to everyone. Konohamaru for example wanted his name to be seen as it was, not hidden within the shadows of his famous grandfather. For me... my name is the only thing I have that was given to me by my parents. I may not have known them and they may not have been around but I will always cherish the one thing they left behind for me... that is my name." He whispered softly as looked into his tenant's crimson orbs, seeing something familiar within them. "So I assumed that for you too, your name will also have a certain significance behind it..."
Kyuubi could only stare at her Jinchuuriki in front of her in astounded silence, she had not expected such a deep response from her usually dense container. For a moment she could see the shadowed outline of a cloaked man with pale-purple ringed eyes standing over him, the image vanished as quickly as it appeared.
"...fair enough. If you impress me enough through the ritual, I will grace you with my name."
"And how would I impress you?"
"The ritual involves us exchanging chakra as well as linking our souls together for that brief moment, during the ritual we will be able to view each others memories. I can not tell you the way to impress me as I am not sure myself, only during the ritual would I know what to look for."
"I see... so did Mifune-sensei and Shibuki manage to save Fū from those two assholes?" Naruto asked suddenly.
"I don't know meatbag, I can't exactly see anything outside this seal..."
"Oh right... that was a pretty dumb question I guess..."
"Don't worry, you're a pretty dumb person."
Takigakure no Sato (Village Hidden in the Waterfall)
Naruto groaned as he regained consciousness, a hand automatically pressing against his head due to his askew vision. A few seconds later he recovered enough for the room to stop spinning around him, a quick glance around told the blond that he was currently in a bedroom. Besides the single person bed he was laying on, the room was rather spartan in nature with few other furnishings.
His cerulean-blue eyes soon flew open in shock when he remembered the events prior to his descent into unconsciousness, he dragged himself out of bed despite the way his body groaned in protest. Moving over to the door, he was about to grab the handle when the door opened by itself revealing the imposing figure of his sensei.
"Going somewhere Naruto-totei?" He asked with a creepy smile.
"N-no Mifune-sensei... I was just going to look for Fū. Is she alright?" Naruto asked in return, his voice full of worry.
"No. No she isn't. Akatsuki managed to escape with her." Mifune replied, his tone flat and straight to the point.
"Shit... damn it!" Naruto cursed as he punched the wall beside him, cracking the cement slightly. "It's my fault... I was too weak. I couldn't save Sasuke... now Fū was taken as well because I wasn't strong enough..."
"So what are you going to do about it? Are you going to stand there and mope around? Are you going to run back to Konoha crying because of how much of a failure you are? If you even entertain one of those thoughts, I suggest you pack up and leave. I will not have an apprentice that whines and expects pity just because he failed!" Mifune growled in a stern, no nonsense voice.
"So what is it going to be? Are you going to run away like a coward? Are you going to whine like some pathetic civilian child?"
"No... I'll get stronger."
"You say that but where is your resolve. Anyone can say they want to get stronger... I want you to prove to me that you have the resolve to back up your words."
Naruto clenched his fists with is eyes closed and facing the ground, suddenly he dropped to his knees and fell prostrate before the elderly samurai. His next words rang loud and clear throughout the room, there was no hesitation behind his words only confidence and passion.
"Mifune-sensei, I pledge on my own honour to dedicate myself fully in my training to be a samurai. No matter how tough the training, no matter how hard you push me, I promise to endure everything without a single complaint. I will not stop until I have perfected every single exercise you set before me, I will not rest until I have become strong enough to protect all of my precious people!"
Mifune looked upon his apprentice with a wide smile, "Rise Naruto, I have seen your resolve. Tomorrow we shall begin your training here, Shibuki will be your first teacher. He has agreed to teach you their Takigakure-Ryū: Mizukiri no Yaiba (Hidden Waterfall Style: Water-cutting Blade), I expect you to offer him the proper thanks for imparting their village's secret technique to you."
"Hai Mifune-sensei." Naruto replied as he rose.
Undisclosed Location, hidden Akatsuki base
The unconscious form of the Nanabi Jinchuuriki was thrown onto the ground in front of a giant grotesque statue, the statue having its palm facing skywards and fingers fully extended upwards. Upon two of the fingers stood the forms of Deidara and Sasori, the rest of the figures were just a holographic shadowed outline of their form.
"We have captured the Nanabi's Jinchuuriki as you have ordered leader-sama." Sasori reported in his deep voice.
"Excellent. Were there any complications?" The ripple-patterned gaze of the unknown Akatsuki leader fell upon the infamous puppet-using missing-nin of Suna.
"To a certain extent... the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki and his mentor the samurai general of Tetsu no Kuni (Land of Iron) were also at Takigakure no Sato. The Kyuubi Jinchuuriki was together with the Nanabi's container when we attacked, so we had decided to capture both of them together. Unfortunately our opponents were more capable then we had expected and our fight managed to attract the attention of the shinobi within the village, including their leader and Mifune. We had to make our escape with just the Nanabi, my apologies leader-sama."
"Good thing you did... have you forgotten my orders that you were only to go after the target assigned to you? We are still short on funds and the only reason I decided to capture the Nanabi Jinchuuriki was because of her status as a village pariah, that way nobody would be alarmed of our movements. Now that we have witnesses, our actions will be that much harder to cover..." The leader paused as he gazed across the team of S-ranked missing-nin. "No matter, we will continue with our plans regardless of the circumstances... nobody can stop the wrath of a god after all. Now we will commence the sealing of the Nanabi immediately..."
"Fūinjutsu: Genryū Kyūfūjin (Sealing Technique: Phantom Dragons Nine Consuming Seals)."
She turned towards the direction from which the voice had come from, instantly spotting the head full of spiky sunshine-blond hair and bright cerulean-blue eyes. The boy in front of her looked no older than six years of age, his attire consisted of a pair of burnt orange shorts and a simple black tee with a red Konohagakure symbol imprinted on the front.
"Konnichiwa Naru-chan, how was the academy today?" She asked, a smile appearing on her face at the cute pout the blond was giving her.
"Stop calling me Naru-chan, my name is Naruto! And it was boring as usual!"
"You should pay attention in class, you do have to pass the Genin examinations if you want to become a shinobi you know?" She said before ruffling his spiky locks. "And you'll always be Naru-chan to me."
"Humph... even if I wanted to learn those stupid teachers just ignore me or kick me out of the lessons... they're just like the villagers." Naruto whispered as he kicked at the ground.
Her eyes narrowed at the information, she had thought that being Chunnin would mean that they knew the difference between a kunai and the scroll that contained it. Apparently she was wrong, looks like a trip to inform the Hokage was in order. And if he could not do anything about it... she might have to pay those teachers a personal visit and physically show them the difference between a kunai and its scroll.
"Don't worry Naru-chan, I can help you with the basics when I have some free time. Now how about we go get some ramen?" She smiled cheerfully at the blond child, pushing her dark thoughts into the back of her mind.
"Yeah! You're the best Nee-chan!"
Brown eyes snapped open in shock as a gasp escaped a pair of red lips, she attempted to pull herself up into a sitting position and was rewarded with a splitting headache for her actions. Forcing her body to cooperate, she opened a bottle of pills on her bedside table and downed two in an instant. A few minutes later she could already feel the painkillers at work, numbing both her headache as well as her aching body.
The long purple hair that framed her haggard yet still beautiful face, along with the fact that she still had on her ANBU armour signified the person as Uzuki Yūgao. ANBU captain and one of the strongest kunoichi in Konohagakure no Sato, perhaps the strongest if one did not count the current Hokage Senju Tsunade. However the death of her long-time lover Gekko Hayate had a large impact on her mental psyche, driving her into taking high-risk missions one after the other and yet somehow still completing each one with perfect results.
Yūgao cradled her head as she walked out of the bedroom of her rented apartment, carefully manoeuvring her way through the maze of sake bottles littering the floor. Setting the kettle on the stove, she plopped herself down on one of the wooden chairs in her kitchen.
'That memory... I knew Naruto as a child?' The purple-haired woman mentally asked herself in confusion.
A few minutes of rooting through her memories, she succeeded in locating a particular memory.
"Yūgao I know you care for him but if you want to enter ANBU then you have to start training more, not to mention that being in ANBU will take up a lot of your time." Hayate said with a stern expression, even dropping the mask of his fake illness.
"I know Hayate-kun... but he doesn't have anyone in the village to look out for him. I can't just abandon him!" Yūgao protested with a conflicted expression.
"That's not true, he has Sandaime-sama as well as the owners of the ramen stand. Plus isn't it your dream to join Konoha's ANBU division?" He asked.
"It is... I-I guess that he would be alright without me. I mean he would understand that I want to fulfil my dreams as well right?" She said, though her own voice sounded unconfident.
"Exactly! Now how about a kenjutsu spar to take your mind off everything?"
'I abandoned him... but my dream depicted us as close as actual siblings. If we were that close, how could I abandon him?' Yūgao questioned herself.
Before her thoughts could proceed any further, several sharp knocks at her front door drew her attention. Standing up from her seat, she stumbled over to the door and pulled it open slightly and was greeted with the grinning visage of one Mitarashi Anko. Groaning softly, she unlatched the door and invited her friend in.
"Damn girl, you look like shit!" Anko stated bluntly.
"Thanks, at least now I know I look how I feel." She responded just as blunt.
Her fellow purple-haired friend deposited herself on the sofa with a sigh, pulling out a stick of dango from somewhere of her form. Hearing the kettle whistle, she poured herself a cup of coffee and downed it instantly and relished in the burning sensation of the hot drink washing down her gullet.
"So are you here for another one of your 'cheer Yu-chan up' plans?" Yūgao asked sarcastically.
Anko frowned slightly before shrugging, "Nope, I have plenty of time for that later on in the evening! I'm actually here to inform you of the decision that Hokage-sama just made regarding the Uchiha and Uzumaki brats."
"Uzumaki? You mean Naruto? I thought he went to retrieve the Uchiha?" She asked in confusion.
"Wow you really have been running yourself into the ground if you don't even know the recent news! Apparently the Uzumaki had failed to bring back the Uchiha but that's not all, the brat himself disappeared from the scene of the battle and only left his Hitai-ate behind."
"Naruto left the village?"
"Well his Hitai-ate didn't have a scratch across it so nobody can be sure. He could have been abducted whilst he was unconscious or the Uchiha could have taken him to the snake bastard." Anko hissed the last two words.
"And since when were you on a first name basis with our resident Jinchuuriki anyway?" Anko narrowed her eyes curiously.
"I just had some sort of memory flashback... I had a past with Naruto even though I seem to have forgotten about it." Yūgao replied hesitantly, especially since her friend seemed to have gained a mischievous glint in her eyes.
"Oh do tell! I love juicy gossip!"
"It's not much as I've told you I can't remember much myself... I seemed to be some kind of elder sister figure to him when he was about six years old... but I stopped visiting him when I started training for ANBU and after that... I guess I forgot about him." She said with a guilty tone.
"Well Yu-chan, I can't say you exactly won the best sister of the year award for that. I can sympathise with the Kyuubi gaki since I know what it's like to be hated for something beyond your control and not having anyone around to support you..." Here she paused and pressed a hand against her cursed seal. "However it seems that nothing can be done about it now since he is MIA, though you can ask the Hokage to join in on the search missions."
"I'll keep that in mind..." Yūgao fell silent as she looked into the empty cup she held.
'Who exactly are you Uzumaki Naruto?'
Well finally I managed to wrap this chapter up, it was extraordinarily hard due to the amount of dialogue in this chapter. This chapter served more as a means to advance the plot, showing the changes within the individual characters and their interactions.
What is the deal between Kyuubi and Naruto? Well you have to keep reading to find out! Expect a slight time-skip the next chapter and by slight I mean A WHOLE SEVEN YEARS! Just kidding, I won't pull a Fairy Tail on my lovely fans.
So now the rookies and team Gai are aware of Naruto's status as the Jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi no Yoko. How will that affect their growth? Shin and Sai have been introduced into the scheme of things, what will their presence serve? Naruto has gotten serious, what will this entail? Find out next time on...
NARUTO: PATH OF THE SAMURAI!