So, it had been over a year since I updated this story. I don't know what to say. I can't say I didn't know what I was doing, because I have known the plot for the entire year. I just… never got around to writing it. It wasn't until the other day, after my interest in fanfiction finally came back after pretty much a year lull that I planned what I wanted to do exactly, and I began typing. But S'TarKan didn't update for two and a half years, so what I did wasn't too bad.
Now, I want to address a complaint I have seen and might receive again, about how the daimyo has some say in approving the Hokage. Well, in this story, he doesn't. I thought about making it part of the plot, but that would have simply slowed down the story that is already being beaten by some corpses, so I tossed it out of the window. Complaints about the NaruHinaness of the story can look at other Naruhina fics that spent many chapters before addressing it fully, and that the plot, in order to make sense in my mind, needs to avoid a lot of Naru-Hina interaction for the time being.
Anyway, I'll stop talking, and you can start reading. Review and enjoy!
"Wait, I thought we were going to that village you were talking about, what was it called again?" Naruto began to complain about how they were sleeping on the ground almost two miles away from the village Jiraiya had mentioned.
"Well, we already wasted the money for the night in that hotel room that we had to run from so I don't want to pay for another room. Plus, there isn't enough in the town for me to do my research, so I can wait until morning." Jiraiya revealed the real purpose of the their dirt beds. "And like I said before, this town is called Araoicho. Kinda superstitious, but a nice joint overall"
Shin nodded in the assessment. "My studies of various local villages in the Land of Fire reveal similar information. However, there might be-" Jiraiya put a finger up to his mouth, motioning him to stay silent on whatever he was going to say. Shin quickly finished his statement, " a chance that it has modernized further."
Naruto ignored the statement, not really sure how would one go about "modernizing" but figuring he would have to ask later about it. "Fine, whatever then. Wake me up when you have to wake me up." Naruto let out a yawn as he realized how tired he was between training and this march. He made his way to a tree that had a natural chair growing from its roots and settled in, nodding off quickly.
Jiraiya rolled his eyes. "He should know better by now. Guess we got only 2 shifts tonight. You be first watch, kid, sage needs some shuteye." He directed to Shin who nodded. Jiraiya found a scroll and released a seal that contained a nice sized tent that could fit four. "Gaki could have waited a minute and got some real luxury. He should have known I had a back up plan." He quickly entered the tent to get some sleep before his shift to keep watch and make sure the kid, the Hokage, to stay safe.
Shin looked over to the tent and towards Naruto. Despite being only a day into the mission, Naruto was already causing him to question bits of Danzo's training. He didn't particularly like this feeling, as it made him...conflicted. With that, he decided to take a look at the perimeter of their camping grounds. And if he happened to gather more info on top of what he had already heard, better for all three of them.
The next morning,Naruto woke up when the son managed to break through the tree line and a beam of direct sunlight right into his eyes. His eyes shot open, yawning at the same time.
"That was actually a pretty good sleep. Hey, Jiraiya-sensei, Shin-san, why didn't you wake me up earlier? I want to train." The fuzziness one sees when they first wake up finally left Naruto as he looked around for his sensei, or his "bodyguard"/friend. They were nowhere to be seen, along with their bags. On his bag, there was a short note. Grabbing it, he read what it said.
Sorry kid, but we'll be back later. Go into town, and don't do anything stupid!
Naruto rolled his eyes. "Whatever, I should have expected this. He is probably looking for something for his research. I thought he was going to be serious and train me." Naruto stood up and stretched, arching his back and loosening up his shoulders. He quickly put on his bag and did a few hop steps before beginning his march into the way he thought town was.
"I wish I had a water balloon."
In the trees, Shin and Jiraiya hid themselves. "Jiraiya-sama, do you believe this is a good idea. I took the liberty to…"
"I know kid. So did I. This is a test for him. I just hope it doesn't end too poorly."
Luckily, Naruto was heading the proper way into town and was there in about 30 minutes, as he was only walking. He circled around the edge of the town, not wanting to pop up in someone's backyard, and found a suitable road to enter on. As he marched in, he was surprised by all of the activity that was occurring in this village at what seemed to be the middle of the morning.
Which is to say, it was almost a ghost town.
And the people who were out didn't help the matter. They looked forward, not daring to make eye contact with him, and walked quickly from wherever they were coming to wherever they were going. It gave Naruto a similar feeling to the one he got when he walked through Tazuna's village. They were not acting the same, but the vibe of being oppressed and hopeless was almost spot on. Naruto did not like it for one minute.
He tried to go to two different markets to look for some fruit or something for him to eat, but they were poorly stocked and the workers there were on edge around him, Naruto was almost certain that something was happening with this village, and that he needed to help them. Then, without warning, everyone went into overdrive. They began to, not run, but hurry to wherever they needed to go. He looked around for what was causing this mess whenever he saw a person that was out of place in that environment. He gave off a completely different vibe than anything Naruto had ever felt. It had the faintest hints of Gato, of Orochimaru, but it wasn't like that. He felt like that person was absorbing the fear he seemed to be causing with delight, that it was the fear itself he craved and not some goal specific that caused fear as a side effect.
The man stood about six feet tall and looked in decent shape, but he couldn't tell for sure by what the man was wearing. He wore a thin white coat that had a short collar, exposing the neck of the man and a hem that ended around his shins. Black pants were beneath the coat, but he appeared to be shirtless by all observation. His red sandals, an odd color, completed his clothing outlook. Except, the white coat was not a pure white coat. It was decorated with red splashes all around him. There was no uniformity to how these splashes were displayed, and the color reminded him of the dried blood he would sometimes have to wash out of his jumpsuit. But there was no way it would be blood?
The face only further instigated this line of thinking. He wore a short black buzzcut hairstyle, had a narrow nose and thin lips but it was his eyes that drew Naruto's attention. They seemed to compensate for the narrowness of the rest of his face, as they were incredibly wide and off-kilter. They were a deep blue that darted around his face, taking in the fear his presence commanded. The only word Naruto had to describe them was that they looked crazy, like the eyes of an insane person.
His coat and eyes needed attention, but his weapon he carried demanded it. It was unlike anything Naruto had really scene before. He could tell it was a scythe by the basic design of it, but it was so much more. Everyone inch of the weapon was the darkest of black, and seemed to shine. There were three blades in the direction of the scythe, each halving in length as they went down the pole. On the end of the pole there was a deadly looking spike, and opposite of the blades a row of nails extended 4 inches from the pole, each nail's point almost impossibly sharp-looking.
It was beyond obvious to Naruto that this man was terrorizing the town with his weapon, but he couldn't see a headband anywhere on his body, leading him to believe it was just a dangerous civilian. A crazy civilian with a very nasty weapon, but a person Naruto could dispatch with relative ease with his shadow clone hordes. Swarm the guy, take away his weapon, knock him out, and tie him up so the civilians could do what they saw fit to the guy. Easy as instant ramen, right?
"Come on, can't a guy get a little breakfast? All I want is some eggs, some fish, hell some tasty bread. I know you guys can make it." The man loudly complained in a loud and slightly annoying voice. The people tried to ignore him as long as they could without drawing his attention, but it inevitably failed. His eyes focused in on one of the people hurrying by him, carrying a small thing of groceries. "You there, the skinny ginger with the groceries, stop." The man froze in place, Naruto seeing his look of terror. He decided he had seen enough, and began his march towards him.
"Now, I know you heard me asking for breakfast, yet you have the discourtesy to keep walking when you have a bag full of delicious smelling food. How dare you treat your priest like that." He smiled sinisterly, and snaked his hand into the groceries. Which was suddenly stopped by a hand grabbing his wrist. He looked up to see a boy with whiskers and orange clothing wearing a ninja headband.
"It is rude to take things from people who aren't offering." Naruto told him sternly, slowly pulling the hand out of the bag. The man fell over, scooting away, not daring to run.
The man smiled. "I see you are not from around here, shinobi. I am the Priest Vegeta, and I rule this village. Now I ask you move on to wherever you are supposed to be." Vegeta told him in a sickly sweet tone. He was not a dumb man, and did not want to have to get involved with shinobi unless he was given a good reason to.
"You look like you bully this village, if anything, Vegeta-san. You should know better, if you really are a man of faith, than to prey on the weak." Naruto responded, his grip tightening.
Vegeta smiled. "Ah, but you do not know my faith, for I worship the great god Jashin, who gives great gifts to his followers and punishes the weak."
"Sounds like a real asshole, this Jashin guy." Naruto crudely remarked.
Finally, Vegeta forced Naruto to break his grip. "Repent, for you have insulted the great god Jashin, or I must do my duty as a loyal lamb and give you salvation." The tone clearly implied it was a great threat, but Naruto was not worried. However, the man he had saved was. The ginger haired man suddenly was grabbing his leg.
"Please boy, you do not understand. Repent your sins, save your self! Priest Vegeta, you can have my groceries, all of them if you want. But please forgive the boy." He bowed to pray for…not mercy but a steadied hand.
Naruto was not having any of that. "No, that is bullshit. You bought those groceries, so you shouldn't let some asshole take them from you. Just because he has a weapon doesn't mean you can fight back."
Vegeta grinned. "Oh, boy, so you do not want to repent to the lord Jashin? Then, I must make sacrifice to right this wrong."
Naruto's eyes noted on one specific word. "Sacrifice?"
Vegeta nodded. "Yes, boy. A great sacrifice must be made to those who dare to take Jashin's name in vain. A greater sacrifice than normal."
The ginger haired man eyes widened and his face paled. "Please repent." He turned to Naruto." For the love of Kami, please repent."
Naruto eyes went between the man and Vegeta. Finally, he focused his eyes on Vegeta. " It is obvious to me that you have been terrorizing these people for way too long. So, I swear this will be the last day you ever have power over these people, or any person ever again!" Naruto backed off preparing for a fight.
Vegeta suddenly flashed a smile at the look in Naruto's eyes. "Boy, what is your name?"
"My name is Naruto Uzumaki." Naruto continued his stare down of the man.
"Well then, Naruto Uzumaki, I will be seeing you soon. Feel free to come to my church anytime today, and try to back up your promises." With that, Vegeta turned around and began to march away.
"Hey, I haven't kicked your ass yet!" Naruto yelled to his retreating form and he made a move towards him, but was stopped by the ginger haired man.
"Don't! You have no idea what you are up against. Just leave, and save yourself!"
Naruto looked down at the man. "You don't have to worry about me, I'm a powerful shinobi. No priest could beat me."
The man shook his head. "You just don't understand."
Naruto looked into his eyes, and saw the utter fear in them. His sense were telling him there was things he needed to know from this man, things that he could use to beat this Vegeta man.
"Then educate me."
About ten minutes later, he found himself in the home with the man, who introduced himself as Kazama, and to his wife whom he lived with, Honoko. She was a nice person, and was grateful but Naruto did for her husband, but he could just tell that she was also worried. For him, for her husband, for herself, he didn't know. She had quickly doled out the breakfast leftovers they had of rice and miso soup to Naruto as Kazama got himself steady from his encounter with Vegeta. As Naruto enjoyed the breakfast, he waited for Kazama to get to the subject. Kazama finally sat across from the table to Naruto, Honoko standing nearby.
"Priest Vegeta showed up about four months ago as just your average traveler. We thought he might be a shinobi, so we gave him his distance. No offense, Uzumaki-san, but we have always been cautious about shinobi-types. The stories we hear don't usually make them sound as nice as you. But giving him his distance didn't let us see how he took over the abandoned mansion as his "cathedral". Then he began going around town, trying to convince people to go to his sermons about his god, Jashin. We all ignored him and figured it was a scam. Until one day, he had enough with our attitudes. So, he took the mayor of our town, who happened to be passing by him about the third day he was looking for converts and cut him with his scythe on that bed of nails and licked it clean. Well, we all surrounded him and was going to arrest him, but then he started to cut himself with his scythe, and drew a circle and an upside down triangle in his own blood. After that he…changed."
"Changed? Changed how?" Naruto was enticed by this story, making sure to take notes on how he would approaac this Vegeta character.
"He became black, pure black, with white symbols on his body. Then he prayed to Jashin, asking him if he would accept this humble sacrifice. We told him to get out of the circle and come quietly, but that is when he stabbed himself, through the heart."
"The heart? How is he alive? Did he use a genjutsu?" Naruto quickly asked, not believing Kazama's story.
He shook his head. "No, he truly stabbed himself in the heart. Now, we were all stunned at what he had done. And then the mayor began to bleed, out of his mouth and in his chest. We had no idea what had caused it, but in a few moments, he slumped over dead. We were all terrified, and tried to figure out what to do. Then we heard laughing, and Pries Vegeta explained what was going on. Worshipping Jashin gave one access to secret techniques that let his followers do wonderful things. Two of those things were immortality and becoming human voodoo dolls."
"Immortality? How is that even possible?" Naruto was horrified by the story but was interested in the immortality business.
Kazama shivered. "I do not want to know how, but it must have been truly evil things to allow for such an inhuman feat. Because of that, he could turn himself into a voodoo doll after consuming someone's blood and do things that would kill them and let him live. In the four months since that day, he had killed at least a dozen people. I think he wants to kill more of us, but he loves the fear he inspires."
"Then why do you stay?" Naruto didn't understand why a civilian would stay in such fear. "Or try and hire shinobi?"
"We did try to leave, try to go to Konoha." He quickly exclaimed. "But after his display, he got a few followers, and spies that would rat on us if we try to leave, if we try to send word. And I know he won't let you leave alive, so you need to escape now. You stopping him is pointless, so leave while you can!"
Naruto looked down. "Are you sure he is immortal, that it isn't some trick?"
Kazama nodded. "Yes, we are sure. Two months ago, a man got the jump and split his head into two with an axe. Without thinking, Priest Vegeta killed the man and stayed out of sight for a few days. When he came back out, it looked like he had never been hurt. He cannot be stopped! Forget about us, save yourself Uzumaki-san!"
Naruto began to shake his head. "Impossible. I could never let a monster like that continue his reign of terror." He grabbed his headband from his forehead. "I swear on my loyalty to Konohagakure I will stop this Vegeta and let Araoicho live on in peace."
"But how will you stop him?" Honoko asked from her spot.
Naruto tied his headband back into place. "Don't worry, I have a plan. Now tell me, how do I get to his cathedral?" His eyes punctuated the seriousness in his voice. For the first time in months, Kazama and Honoko were able to see something they had abandoned. They could see hope.
In fairness to Itachi and Kisame, they did not kill the ANBU behind the Black Boar mask. They merely put him to sleep for the next few days. That way, Itachi's masquerade under the mask would be kept secret. Kisame didn't think it mattered a whole lot, but Itachi had to explain that exposing a weakness a village has is not always in the enemies interest, especially if it could be exploited multiple times over in the future. Kisame got it, but still thought killing the guy would be better.
Honestly, Itachi wondered if he could just send Kisame on a wild goose chase once in a while, just for the peace his own logic brought him.
He quietly patrolled the areas of Konoha, randomly passing by a trio of young shinobi, most likely genin, when he recognized two of them. His brother and the pink-haired girl he was with the other day. He continued on with his patrol, but ducked out of sight for a moment to create a kage bunshin that would follow them. He would continue on to loop by the tower, near the Nara estates, and back into the forest. He had mapped this ANBU's route yesterday, which is why he felt confident in going about it today.
The bunshin looked as if he was patrolling the area around the trio, but was really enhancing his hearing with his chakra to catch their conversation.
"I truly do not understand your point, Quacky-san. Is it not recommended giving one another nicknames in order to establish bonds?"
Sasuke rolled his eyes. "Sai-san, do not called me Quacky again, or I will hurt you."
"That is most unlikely." Sai brazenly responded.
Sakura saw the look on Sasuke's face and decided to break the two up. "Sai-san, do not test Sasuke-kun. I don't want either of you getting into fights. And in regards to giving one another nicknames, that only occurs when there is a certain level of friendship between two people where nicknames develop naturally. Kind of like between Naruto-kun and Sasuke-kun. They do not get along well, but they have this odd bond I can't understand that makes the insults they call each other, Dobe and Teme seem more friendly than insulting." Sakura failed to add she still wanted to punch Naruto everytime he called Sasuke "teme", but she had explained her point thoroughly.
Sasuke failed to comment on the point, but agreed with the assessment. One of the thoughts that went through his head over the last few days was Naruto's comment about being his friend, and how he thought of Naruto as a friend, if not his best friend. It was a bit pitiful that Naruto became his best friend, but he was now Hokage so he couldn't say much. He achieved his goal in life a lot quicker than he had, and was getting training from a Sannin. He still needed to find Danzo to help with his training.
"I see. Nicknames are only used once a person's relationship with another has naturally created one. Thank you-" Sai paused for a moment, "Sakura-chan for that information. I hope we become close enough to have nicknames for each other by the time Naruto-sama comes back."
"Why do you always call Naruto-kun sama?" Sakura asked, but the Itachi bunshin was now ignoring the conversation as he had learned a key piece of information. Naruto had already left the village.
The real Itachi was still continuing Black Boar's route and coming close to the Nara compound, where a conversation between father and son was occurring.
"It just isn't plausible unless we convince both. The manpower needed to rebuild and deal an effective strike exceeds ours alone." Shikamaru was explaining to his father, nodding in agreement.
"But I do believe it will be difficult to convince Kusa to supply the number of forces needed for a fully successful strike. They have never been the most keen to support attacks on small villages."
"But we don't need numbers that large from Kusa. Honestly, we could make do with Suna's support, but convincing another independent village is meant to prevent another great war." Shikamaru waved it off. "Getting Kusa is meant to demonstrate a strong three prong alliance while demonstrating it is not reckless revenge. An alliance between two major nations and a key minor nation would be too dangerous for any of the three still solitary major villages to risk a massive war."
"But recent news have spoke of stronger alliances with Kumo and Iwa…" Shikaku commented.
Shikamaru waved it off. "We both realize that is Kumo propaganda for use in the trade treaty between the Land of Lightning and the Land of Fire."
Shikaku nodded. "True, but it does signal they are open to one if the event arises. And an invasion as such could offer one."
Shikamaru paused for a moment. "Well, it might be easier if we use Takigakure as our third ally. They have less reason to oppose Otogakure, but we do have a stronger alliance with them, especially considering Naruto's relationship with the leader."
Shikaku stroked his beard. "I hadn't even thought of that. And if memory recalls, they have a Jinchuriki as well to bolster their forces."
Shikamaru's eyes widened. "They do?"
Shikaku nodded. "It was a prize they won from Suna in the First Shinobi War. I remember fighting alongside him in the Third War. They have a new one now, though. I remember him getting killed near the end"
Shikamaru liked that news, but let out a sigh. "This is troublesome to think about. I think I'm going to get mom to yell at him when we get back for planning an invasion before he gets into office."
Shikaku smirked, before his face dropped. "Crap, I forgot to grind those antlers up. Talk later, kid."
Shikamaru waved him off, and decided to go outside and cloud watch and forget that troublesome Naruto and that troublesome order of a troublesome war with Otogakure. Hands in his pockets, he enjoyed the day off he got from the emotional woes of his sensei, which was a drag to contemplate. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw the ANBU who would often go by his estate. His skintight uniform caught his attention and he began to walk over to him.
Itachi worried slightly as he saw Shikamaru walk towards him, as he was not sure what would be the best course of action. He obviously knew things, but there was little he could do about it. So, he decided to stay quiet and hope he could leave without any issues.
Shikamaru stopped in the shade of the tree Itachi was in and laid down to cloud watch. While laying down, he spoke to the ANBU. "ANBU-san, shouldn't you be going out and trying to catch Itachi-san? He is no doubt after Naruto and Jiraiya-sama. And it is good to see you are eating well instead of weaseling out of meals. Your clothes used to be a bit more loose."
Itachi simply nodded in his ANBU mask and left. Inwardly, he could not help but shiver. This Shikamaru Nara was a highly intelligent and formidable opponent. But at least he saved him the hassle of chasing Naruto Uzumaki, and had the excuse to go back to his leader empty-handed.
At his seized cathedral, Priest Vegeta was praying to himself. "O' great god Jashin, I have found a lamb for the slaughter that will please thee so wonderfully. His blood spilt shall be your wine, his hope crumbled shall be your meal, his rotting corpse your dessert. May you give me all the strength to overcome any challenges that will hinder your sacrifice. Amen"