Dear God almighty, did I receive A LOT of butthurt for this Chapter. A few people claim I've flat out ruined the story, others don't want to read it anymore, some people are calling me a terrible Author, etc.
Alright…in an attempt to at least calm some people the hell down in the wait for the next Chapter, I'm stepping in to take the brunt of the backlash myself.
For starters, I'm gonna address a lot of the main issues that everyone talked about in the last Chapter.
One, Yagura is from Kirigakure, not Iwagakure. Alright, that was my bad; I don't know why I thought he was from Iwa, so this is totally my fault here for not checking my facts. I'm actually planning to take down Chapter 6 and revise it to make sure any references relating Iwa to Yagura are replaced with Kirigakure instead.
Two, why is Naruto taking this blackmail bullshit from Azula? Shouldn't he be strong enough to crush the entire fleet and just gallivant away?
First off, showing weakness isn't being a 'bitch' or a 'pussy' as some people have claimed. Azula said that if Naruto didn't enter the fray upon finding out what the Fire Nation's policies really are that she wouldn't argue their agreement and slaughter the whole village; civilian populace and all.
Let me state now that Naruto doesn't want to be responsible for more or less the complete butchery of these people. Hence why he's fighting this battle on arranged terms. Some people have also argued if he's so against what he knows what the Fire Nation represents, why doesn't he side with the Avatar's group? Simple, he doesn't agree with their philosophy; he sympathizes with the people who have suffered in the war to be true, but he doesn't necessarily think following Aang's naiveté visions on reality will benefit the world.
Straightforwardly put, Aang had the moral standpoints of a pacifistic child; Naruto doesn't think his views represent cruel reality. The Fire Nation wants to dominate the world through the influence of fear and tyranny, Naruto doesn't agree with that either. Basically Naruto doesn't know what side he wants to be on now, not that I blame him.
The reason he didn't just kill Azula is because doing so (sinking the entire fleet, killing the Princess of the Fire Nation, etc) would gain the Water Nation near unbridled animosity from the Fire Nation. Ozai doesn't know of Naruto's existence yet, so he would assume the attack was from the Water Tribe and forward his offensive ever more towards the common people of the Water Tribe; something Naruto didn't want to be responsible for.
Showing restraint isn't weakness fellas, it's actually more of strength.
A lot of people also had beef with the OC Villain/Original Plotline involving Azrael/Mephistopheles. Alright, as I said before, I had this planned from the very beginning; it wasn't just some bullshit I through in randomly in an attempt to be creative. I can see where it would be off-putting, but I don't see it as a true story killer. Maybe some people do, but I don't; and if there are people who don't want to read the story anymore because of this, then they can do what they want.
Also, it turns out I got Azrael's name wrong in my own definition; the Angel of Death I'm actually supposed to be referring to is Abbadon; so once more, my bad. Really need to brush up on some of these religious facts I swear…
Multiple people have PMed me about this new site that allows MA Ratings/Lemons etc; let me just at this point in the story I haven't censored anything yet so there are no lemons yet obviously. And since every time I tried to post the name of the website I thought to post eventual uncensored material on is now invalid, the name of the new site is simply your ff dot com. Hopefully that bit isn't censored, if it is, I'm just gonna put it on my profile were to go. And when the uncensored material does eventually surface, I'll obviously give everyone a heads up on it.
Chapter VII will be here in three in three and a half weeks, where I also PROMISE these things.
1) Not as much of a heavy reliance on dialogue. (It's exhausting for you and it's exhausting for me; no more I say!)
2) If Faust does show up again, his speech will be in parenthesis alone; it'll be implied he's speaking Japanese but there won't be an entire tirade of Japanese to read. I also intend on erasing all of the Japanese parts of Faust's dialogue from Chapter 6 when I repost it and only leave what he's saying in English.
I hope this calms everyone down a bit to the point where everyone's guns aren't pointed at me.
Until then guys, just be patient with me and try not to blow my head off.
And if this doesn't put a lot of fears to rest and people still wanna kill me, then I've done all I can do to calm them and that's their deal.
Faust Talking (No quotation marks means it's Faust.)
Shinobi no Kami=God of Shinobi.
Godaime Kazekage=Fifth Kazekage.
Sandaime Hokage=Third Hokage.
Yondaime Mizukage=Fourth Mizukage.
Yondaime Raikage=Fourth Raikage.
Hi no Ishi=Will of Fire.
Kirigakure=Village Hidden by Mist.
Konohagakure=Village Hidden in the Leaves.
Sunagakure=Village Hidden by Sand.
Kumogakure-Village Hidden by Clouds.
Iwagakure=Village Hidden by Rocks.
Takigakure=Village Hidden by a Waterfall.
Kuchiyose no Jutsu: Shinjitsu no Pasu=Summoning Jutsu: Paths of Truth.
Golden eyes met azure and viridian once more, a deadlock stare between their retinas was at hand. It was obvious there was tension in the rather compact room, a sort of claustrophobic sense had begun to enrapture the two. The Sage and the Princess waited for one another to make the first move, a physical game of psychological chess clearly at hand.
Azula hadn't said much after Naruto told her she had explaining to do, quite evidently looking for the correct response to reply with. She didn't want to offend her newly gained ally in any way, but she knew she had to say something eventually.
"What do you mean I have explaining to do? It's hardly within my station to explain my motives to anyone." Azula replied haughtily, Naruto's stare slanting ever more so.
"Perhaps, but your political station can only shield you from so much Azula-hime; everyone has to answer for their actions eventually, regardless of who they are whether they be a civilian or a royal. I have learned a great many things from my travel to the Northern Water Tribe, both of good and ill repute on my homeland's part."
"As I mentioned previously, I have successfully spied on their Tribe and located where the militant outposts lie; to which will be our prime targets while civilian installations shall be avoided at all costs, per our agreement for you to personally inform Zhao of. However, I have learned a great many things as well that personally disturb me, most of which being supplied evidence that contradicts your earlier statements that the other Nations were truly the 'enemies'."
"I have been told by many residents of the Northern Water Tribe, as well as the Avatar and his company as well that the Fire Nation is responsible for a great many atrocities; many of which border on heinous war crimes such as oppressive dictatorship, the democratization of fear, and borderline genocide at best. Such claims cannot be so easily dismissed, not even by you, Azula-hime." Naruto darkly stated a sort of frustrated almost hateful look evident in his eyes.
He didn't feel the necessary anger to truly hate Azula, but if the supposed actions of his Nation were indeed true, and Azula herself was around for at least part of it while standing idly by; then she herself was partly responsible for such suffering as well.
The Fire Princess sighed heavily, a haggard breathe for air quickly being taken afterwards. Attempting to swallow her pride that usually allowed her to strike out at those who showed insubordination towards her or her Nation, she looked at the boy with all the calmness she could muster.
"In truth Naruto, my great grandfather Fire Lord Sozin did indeed order the absolute destruction of the Air Nomads under the notion that the next Avatar would rise with them, it was only through their utter annihilation that the Unification of the Fire Nation could TRULY begin. I have told what the Avatar Order stood for, and how their philosophical morals, self-entitlement and senseless altruism ultimately endangers the very principals of this world."
"To ensure that the Unification was successful, Sozin's son and my grandfather Fire Lord Azulon carried out my great grandfather's wishes to carry out his vision. As you can expect, the other Nations believed in the words of the Avatar's that the Unification of the Four was a mistake that should not be garnered upon; and thus, they rebelled just as strongly as they did when they learned of the destruction of the Air Nomads. Azulon carried out Sozin's regime to forcibly unite the world under the fact that they would not even attempt to see the folly of Avatar Roku's machinations."
"Our Nation truly did attempt to peacefully unite the Nations at first, we really did, but they just wouldn't listen. Back then all anyone ever cared about was the words of the Avatar and the Avatar's before him, and even one hundred years of fighting later while many have lost their face in the order of those self-entitled saviors, more still continue to fight against us in the name of righteousness and freedom." Azula finished almost exhaustedly after a long-winded explanation, hoping that at least some of her words had reached Naruto's sanity.
Tapping his chin for a moment in thought, the youth looked up at her, and shook his head sadly. A depressed and infuriated look adorned his face, evidently saddened by the explanation. "So…you do not deny of the claims that the people of the Northern Water Tribe or the Avatar and his company themselves have presented me with? This would irrefutably point to their claims being truthful in the fact that my homeland, Hi no Kuni, the current Land of Fire, had indeed become a corrupt, tyrannical land."
A rather shocked look crept Azula's face, realizing her mistake a bit too late. While she had attempted to justify her Nation's reasons for such actions, she hadn't exactly denied them.
"But.." Azula tried to speak, only to have Naruto's hand raised in retaliation.
"This would mean that everything you told me my homeland currently stands for, which the exact principals in stood for in the past; is nothing more than a fabrication and the current Hi no Kuni is actually what I was fighting against in the first place thousands of years ago? Tyranny, genocide, destruction…all things wrought by cowards and dictators, and my own Nation had become the very symbol of everything I hate!" Naruto exclaimed angrily, to which Azula herself entered a much more defensive position.
"I've told you why our Nation has done such things; we did not employ such policies out of the sake of tyranny itself, but for the sake of peace. The other Nations would not listen to Sozin's plea; they were too instilled by the words of Roku to listen properly." The Fire Princess proclaimed as she tried to defend her cause, to which Naruto would have none of.
"Ah yes, the sake of 'peace', I've heard such claims from many a man and woman in my own time beforehand…and all such claims were only excuses to instill to violence and fear; which my Nation has employed to in a majority once again. Even if the Avatar Order was dedicated to such morals that threatened to engulf the world in self-servitude to them, the absolute destruction of their people was not necessary. Genocide does nothing but breed hatred and inspire vengeance, which many people are often consumed by to commit even graver atrocities." Naruto spoke gravely, reminded of a long passed friend who had been too far gone for him to save.
It would seem to be Avatar Aang as the exact opposite of Uchiha Sasuke; his family had been destroyed but he did not seek vengeance for their deaths, he sought peace instead. In truth while many of Aang's claims in themselves could not be validated by the harsh reality of war, they seemed no less self-destructive than Sasuke's vendetta against Konoha for the genocide of the Uchiha's.
Rubbing his temples in an infuriated manner, Naruto could only look at Azula with disbelief with the slightest hint of disappointment. "These aren't things a land, Kingdom or Nation can make excuses for; while the end sometimes does justify the means, this isn't one of those things that can be looked at with such a black and white perspective. In my own time I specifically fought three men in particular who wished to damn the world with their own personal agendas, all their ways were different, but none of them were any less dangerous than the other. Shimura Danzo, Uchiha Madara, and Hebi Sannin Orochimaru…all deranged men who thought their own agenda's gave them free reign over anyone else they deemed insignificant."
"And from the look of it, your father wants to do the same exact thing; he just blindly followed his grandfather's wish just as his actual father did before him. You can't just force people to follow you no matter how good or bad your idea is, life doesn't work that way; there has to be a mutual understanding between all parties involved."
" I'm all for trying to unite people under a single banner, but if they don't specifically WANT to be united then I wouldn't try to force them into it. Plus, it sounds like Fire Daimyo Sozin went about this in the wrong way; if he was really trying to achieve Unification he should've tried to accomplish through a peaceful, respectful process rather than just deciding he could force everyone under his regime." Naruto stated determinedly, desperately trying to get through to Azula.
The Fire Princess couldn't help but sneer at Naruto, somewhat disgusted with his lack of spine. "You of all people should know that life is full of hard choices, sometimes evils must be undertaken to ensure the greater good triumphs. That is the natural selection of things, it's always been this way."
"It's not natural if such ways of thinking is forced upon others, the philosophy of the weak dying and strong surviving is bullshit. Natural selection within itself is just an excuse for justifying crimes that will never see justice within themselves. I've sensed pride, strength and honor deep within you Azula-hime; do not let yourself be warped by my homeland's now warped over patriotism." The Sage adamantly declared.
Ozai's daughter merely glared at the golden-haired boy in response, in remembrance of behavior similar to his. "Funny, when I first freed you that Spirit said that you had accomplished a many great things and you would do what was necessary to achieve peace; now I'm beginning to doubt those words. Your hesitance to do what needs to do be done reminds me of my foolish brother, perhaps you and Zuzu can talk about how peace and democracy can obviously solve all the world's problems."
"I never said everything could be solved peacefully, but all-out war against anyone who disagrees with your regime isn't in the least bit logical itself. There's a time for violence and there's a time for peace, and I fear your great-grandfather has already planted the seeds in this world's hearts that shall stem xenophobia, hatred and vengeance; all things that blind anyone of common sense." Minato's son rebutted, ensuing a rather haughty laugh from Azula.
"Regardless whether or not the Fire Nation is or isn't in the right of the current scenario involving the four other Nations, you are obligated to obey me and serve your homeland once more. You said yourself you both failed and succeeded to protect it, and this was your chance to redeem yourself for said failure; would you really forsake your homeland and shirk your sense of duty due to petty moral concerns from a populace who would deny the world Unification?" Azula said arrogantly, a concerned glare emitting from Naruto's eyes.
The Sage cupped his chin and closed his eyes solemnly, thinking for a moment on Azula's words. Doubt spread through his mind somewhat quickly, but he knew he couldn't be deterred; no matter what this new life of his threw at him. For a small moment, it seemed he would remain silent, prompting a small smirk from the Princess
Sighing heavily and clenching his right fist, he looked up at Azula with an adamant sense of determination. "Yes, yes I would."
"What? You cannot be serious!" Azula protested almost violently.
"Who says I can't be? My honor as both a Konoha Nin and as a warrior to the true Hi no Kuni dictates that if I entered such a battle under the servitude of the Princess who openly knows that her own father, the current Daimyo; employs such tyranny on those who disagree with him, is shameful within itself. It dishonors the Hi no Ishi, the Will of Fire, set forth by Sarutobi Hiruzen, the Sandaime Hokage; the first leader I came to know in my life under servitude to Konohagakure."
"He set the standard for me for what I know to be honor, integrity and service to my homeland; he told me that as a Konoha Nin, I should always protect my loved ones and serve Hi no Kuni to the best of my ability. However, he specifically mentioned not to follow the one who leads the country blindly, and always remember what our homeland stood for. I may have known Hiruzen when he was elderly, but his heart burned with the soul of a warrior more fiercely than nearly any combatant I've come to know." Naruto said with a sense of pride in his voice, remembering the fond times he had with the old Hokage of the Leaf.
Shrugging almost apathetically, the Princess gazed at Naruto nonchalantly. "You're honestly telling me that your honor and sense of morality as a warrior, granted to you by some old man who played a part in your life literally thousands of years ago is the reason you won't compete in this battle? How pathetically droll."
Almost instantly, a hand was on Azula's neck, forcibly lifting her high in the air as its grip threatened to snap her lick a twig. She had no choice but to cough and gasp for air, Naruto's immense physical strength threatening to choke the life out of her.
"W-W-Wh-at are y-you doing!" Azula spat while Naruto's adamant hand sapped the life out of her.
"NO ONE, I repeat, NO ONE, will EVER disrespect Sarutobi Hiruzen in my presence! He was my father figure growing up, even more so than my own father! He was one of the greatest men I've ever known or ever shall know, and you will NOT spit on his memory!" Naruto practically growled, his good eye threatening to turn into a feral slit.
"Y-y-you would assault the P-Princess of your own N-Nation! Have you gone absolutely mad!" Azula choked out.
"No, not mad, just determined to preserve what I know as precious to me. You have not denied any of the grim atrocities of my homeland to be false, in fact you've more-or-less confirmed them without any disdain of such actions in your voice. Hell, you've been AROUND for at least some of these morbid deeds and you've no made attempt to even disapprove of your father's actions; who are clearly reminiscent of Shimura Danzo's or even Uchiha Madara's."
"With that in my mind, I see this physical affront as completely justified; whether you have a part to play in ruling this Nation are not. You are a greater warrior than you realize, you just have yet to find the true honor my teachers from my past imparted me with; someday, I hope you realize that." Naruto said with a rather simple tone to his voice.
"Y-you do realize that if you d-don't partake in the b-battle there is literally n-nothing from me not telling Zhao which area's to and not to bombard? Which in itself m-means if y-you retire from this b-bout than even m-more people could d-die on your behalf?" Azula rasped almost evilly.
Naruto's face darkened considerably, his eye threatening to turn red. "You…you wouldn't DARE…"
"…Oh but I would, if our alliance ends than so does the t-terms for this b-battle…are you sure your h-honor will let you l-live with what you w-wrought upon these people l-live?" Azula hissed haughtily.
A more than frustrated look adorned Naruto's face, one filled with infuriation and indecision. After a moment or two he released his grip on Azula, and decidedly punched the side of the nearby wall in frustration; causing a sizeable dent in it and a frightened yelp on the other side, something that amused Azula.
"…Fine, I'll help you for now, but ONLY to ensure that this battle is not a complete bloodbath. I will strike down those who assail me, but I will not turn my hand against those who cannot defend themselves; and as long as I'm around, neither shall your men." Naruto practically snarled.
Azula, regaining her composure through violent coughing, looked up at Naruto with a grim smirk of victory upon her face. "Good, we have an understanding then. I'll report to Zhao on your findings in the morning, I trust you have forms on where the military outposts are?"
Naruto growled angrily and performed a few hand signs, summoning a scroll that detailed all of what he had learned in his time at the Northern Water Tribe. Clasping it from the youth's hand arrogantly, Azula's smile widened further.
"Good, very good…I'm sure this will give us all we need to know on how to secure a quick victory against these petty rabble." Azula chuckled, to learning the infuriate blonde behind.
"Oh, and Naruto…?" The Princess carried on.
"Yes?" The Sage replied.
Two fingers placed themselves dangerously close to his neck very suddenly; a duo of bright azure flames began to heat his skin. He gritted his teeth as he felt a minority of his flesh heat up, but he refused to make a sound out of determination.
"If you EVER try to lay a hand on me like that again, you'll be wishing I left you back in those ruins. Do I make myself clear?" Azula darkly stated.
Sighing heavily in defeat, Naruto leaned against the nearest wall, shaking his head in shame. Azula looked down at the Sage with a look of arrogance, clearly pleased at her victory.
"Oh, and by the way, you can sleep here for tonight; given your little stunt just now." Azula chuckled, closing the door as she addressed the blonde for the final time.
Darkness enveloped his sight; the dim surrounding of the closet began to cloud his vision. Shaking his head lazily, Naruto couldn't help but feel defeated by the Princess's wit and quick thinking.
"So…essentially blackmailed by the Princess of our own homeland to use our skills to serve as an over-glorified foot soldier to a man whose regime is more of less Danzo worthy…great."
I know, this completely blows, but what the hell can we do? If we don't participate, Azula isn't going to follow the terms for our battle; thus, it would be a bloodbath, and all that crimson would be on our hands.
"Can't be any worse considering how we fucked up the world."
Fucking low blow, Kurama.
"Why don't we just use our power to crush this bitch and her whole fleet? We could easily kill them all if we really let loose."
Perhaps, but I don't want to be responsible for a major political catastrophe on our Nation's part; considering the Fire Daimyo's daughter and a man he appointed personally as a Fleet Admiral are here amongst us. We'd make even more enemies this way, not only that, but if Ozai is anything like I think he is he'd probably use this as an opportunity to capitalize on violent treatment towards the three other Nations and try to destroy them with renewed hatred; I fear our victory would cause even more bloodshed in the future.
"Well fuck, can't we do anything? This is maddening."
For now, we can't; but when the battle does take place I'll only strike down those who attack me, the civilians won't be harmed by me or by Zhao's fleet for that matter as long as we are present.
"I have to admit, not only is woman quite attractive for a sniveling human, but she's quite cunning as well. A shame she's being such a bitch, she could be a valuable mate to you considering she's the friggin' Hime of our homeland."
Do all you ever think about is me mating? It's actually a bit disturbing.
"As I said before, you get laid, I get laid. And since it's been a few thousand years since I managed to REALLY get down on all fours, let's just starting I'm starting to rut. Besides, anything that helps us further of our agenda of establishing true peace is worth a bang."
WAAAY too much information Kurama.
"Hey, I saw you and that Water Hime smack your lips together on that bridge, so don't you talk to me about not wanting to get laid."
I honestly expected things not to go that fast, Yue-hime is a wonderful woman though; she certainly deserves more than Hahn-teme.
"Well now Hahn needs hands."
"She probably will get a new husband if Arnook decides to take your advice, ya know, if we don't end up defeating her Tribe to be secured under Ozai's regime."
That doesn't sit well with me either…even if we win, we still lose. I can only imagine the current policies of the Fire Nation will destroy these people's culture, we'll destroy them by not destroying them.
"Hey, life's a bitch."
But we're responsible for this!
"Not like that supposed Messiah would be able to defeat a Fleet this size alone…"
True, he's childish and undisciplined, not to mention his innocence and naivety could ultimately be his undoing on the battlefield…
"We agree on that much at least."
If we encounter him though, he's ultimately fair game considering the circumstances, if I hold back, especially to an opponent of that importance; Azula could very well order Zhao to attack all encampments upon my hesitation.
"I have a feeling your right for once Kit, she seems like she'd pull that kind of dick-move, given what she's already doing."
"But what of people like Katara and her rather imbecilic brother, Sokka? Would you strike them down as well Kit? Something tells me you wouldn't; you may be a great deal more hardened more than this Avatar Aang is, but you aren't a true monster like me."
…Katara shows great promise as a Waterbender, and I sense Sokka has yet to find his true potential. I'll try to knock them out at best if I confront them, and as for Pakku, I doubt he'll fall so easily even if I'm actually a great deal stronger than him.
"The old man is quite powerful in the Art of Water Release, though I'm sure if we were to actually fight him without holding back and use abilities other than Waterbending we could kill him."
I don't want to kill him, but we might have no other choice.
"Who says you'll get to fight him? If Azula and Zhao are so dead-set on killing Aang they might just nuke him and rush past to kill the Avatar himself."
True, but even with an additional edge in this battle due to the scroll I gave Azula-hime I doubt the Waterbenders will fall so easily; they have that look about them that reminds me of Konoha…
"The Hi no Ishi exists within a frigid encampment? Irony, doth how you troll us."
"Before you nod off Kit, there's something I need to tell you."
And what is that?
"I was visited by Faust during a time while you were at the Water Tribe."
What! How! You exist within my mind! I should've felt his presence!
"Don't get so freaked out Kit, he visited in MY mind. Remember, I can hear what you're thinking but you can't hear what I'm hearing; he visited me at a place your consciousness couldn't reach."
Spirits cheat at cards, I swear…
"Ha ha hah, true that! Anyway, he told me that the Spirit World has been keeping tabs on us ever since we 'woke up' persay."
Really? Well, I can't say I'm surprised given how long Faust watched over me and constantly kept us revitalized.
"Faust told me to tell you that some of them arguing whether you entering this conflict will disrupt the balance of nature itself, others are content with you doing what you please but some of have voiced their discontent."
Well those who disagree can bite me, not like they can do anything about it anyway.
"Good to see you're taking this so well, anyway back to the point. He also told me that sometime tomorrow he's going to drop by and visit you, or rather us."
"He didn't say."
Of course not.
"He just said it was when 'all joined as one once more'."
Cryptic as hell, as usual.
"Did you come to expect anything else?"
Anything else I should know about?
"Nothing else for now, try to get some sleep Kit, though given your room that's going to be a bit difficult."
I've slept in worse, remember the orphanage?
"…And just when I had forgotten the cockroaches."
*Zhao's Ship, Morning*
Breathing heavily in his sleep, Naruto had a bit of a hard time getting to sleep. The space was confined and uncomfortable, so it wasn't like he could stretch out properly. Deciding to enter a meditation stance, he looked to find peace in his rather compact surrounding. He eventually fell asleep so it worked better than he expected of course, to which he woke to a smell of musky dust and a faded sense of blackness that accompanied his weary eyes.
Standing up nonchalantly while yawning loudly, the Sage attempted to stand, only to step in a bucket and fall backward, sending all the supplies of said room crashing down on top of him upon hitting a nearby rack. His muffled scream could be only slightly heard under the sound of everything falling onto to him, which the crash made much more of a noise than his yell itself.
Soon enough, the door flung open to investigate the scene, to which Naruto could barely see a feminine visage through the supplies. A bubbly fit of laughter and snorting was heard soon after, to which the figure soon started to clear all items off of him.
"Hello Ty Lee…" Naruto muttered through a mop that had landed on his head, making him look like an old woman.
"Hey there Naruto, are you okay? Looks like you had a fight with the closet and lost." Ty Lee half-giggled.
"You noticed?" Naruto laughed, feeling a bit better himself.
As the acrobat started to clear off the Sage off all the supplies that had landed on him, she looked at him square in the face rather softly, surprising Naruto somewhat. "I'm sorry you had to sleep in here, Zula really doesn't like people their opinions around here; she's usually okay with me doing it for some reason, but not many other people get to speak their minds so freely."
"I noticed…" The blonde grumbled grumpily.
"Why does she let you do it, Ty-chan? Are you two…close, or something?" Naruto grinned somewhat mischievously, earning a small blush from the acrobat.
"W-What? N-no! No, nothing like that!" Ty Lee stuttered, while mock beating up the downed Sage at the same time.
Naruto gazed at her for a moment in silence, his blue and viridian eye meeting hers once more. An unusual quietness filled the room for at least a minute, before he decided to address the situation a bit more boldly. "Ty Lee, I told you I can read minds upon eye contact, I can tell you're lying."
The pink girl went to defend herself but then remembered the truth about Naruto's rather peculiar ability, sighing lightly in defeat. Naruto's grin continued to widen in almost Chesire like smile, clearly quite amused by what he had heard.
"Well…yes, Azula and I have a…relationship, persay. We…we try to keep it a secret though, it's never displayed too openly." Ty Lee muttered somewhat sadly.
"Soooo…when did you two hook up?" Naruto asked curiously.
"When we were eight…" The acrobat stated happily in a sense of nostalgia, earning an even more intrigued stare from Naruto.
The youngest relationship he had known was between Konohamaru and Moegi, and even that hadn't started off easily. They were both ten to eleven when they had actually begun going out on date's persay, but it wasn't easy for them in the beginning due to their inexperience.
"Pardon me if I step above my station Ty-chan, but usually a homosexual relationship, either with men or women; usually don't start off that early. After all, most youths are often given the whole 'when a man and a woman love each very much' speech early on and are introduced to the concepts of heterosexuality much more so than homosexuality; probably due the fact that a man and a man or a woman with a woman can't produce, but I personally don't discriminate." Naruto finished smiling, earning a relieved sigh from Ty Lee in the process.
"Oh that's a relief, trust me when I say that Azula and I both know the dangers of our relationship. She's a royal, and I of course don't particularly belong to any official royal family, throw in the fact that I'm of the same sex and you're asking for controversy. If Ozai found out that his daughter was in a relationship like this and obviously no future heir would come of it, he'd be outraged. Azula might be banished or thrown in prison and I'd probably get the death penalty for 'corrupting' his daughter." The acrobat stated sadly.
Naruto shook his head in disbelief, quite shocked at Ozai's policies. "Truly? In my day when a member of a royal clan, be a man or a woman liked a member of their same sex whether it was a civilian or fellow noble, it was looked down upon surely but it wasn't discriminated against that harshly. Sure you'd have the occasional bigot disown his or her son or daughter upon discovering the relationship, but imprisonment and or death? Damn, things really have gone down Shit Creek."
Ty Lee giggled at Naruto's analogy, finding the way to phrase the rather dangerous situation so humorously funny within itself. "Azula and I both recognize that, hence why we've kept a secret for so long. We first found out we liked each other in a bathtub, and we were both at the time as I stated before. It started off as a physical attraction and eventually developed into something more, much to our continued mutual interest."
Naruto blushed ever so slightly at the thought, rubbing his temples to regain his composure. "That's some pretty risqué material for someone at that age to experiment with, I'm not gonna even ask if you two 'Played Doctor' when you were that age."
Ty Lee turned red almost immediately and delivered a swift jab to Naruto's arm, to which he had a good laugh at. Rubbing his arm for a moment, he turned to face the acrobat once more.
"How did you and Azula even hook up anyway? Ya know, besides the obvious story you just told me." Naruto mumbled offhand.
"What do you mean by that?" Ty Lee inquired.
Rubbing the back of his neck nervously, the blonde looked the bubbly girl in her chocolate eyes directly. "I mean, I can see why you'd both be possibly physically attracted to one another, both of you are quite pretty; but what I mean is how you actually emotionally connected? Granted, you're a bubbly, happy, happy-go-lucky person and Azula…well, how do I put it kindly? She's a bit uptight, official, cocky, and a bit self-entitled herself…not only that but I got to experience firsthand last night what she's like when she's aggressive, not pleasant let me assure you."
Ty Lee sighed heavily, rubbing her hands through her light hazel hair. "Azula's a bit rough around the edges, but with me in private she seems to be a completely different person. She confines things in private with me, her doubts, and her fears…things she doesn't tell anyone else. I think she's been through a lot too…she was never really close to her mom from what I know."
"Really? So you're telling me behind that rough exterior Azula is a bit softer than what she lets on? Good to know, I'll keep it mind." Naruto chuckled, earning a frantic look from Ty Lee.
"You can't tell her I told you, she'd kill me! Please, pretty please don't!" The acrobat exclaimed, waving her arms like a madman.
Naruto laughed harder in response, shaking his head nonchalantly. "Relax Ty-chan, I won't tell her you told me, I'll just use it to my advantage when the time is right that's all. Now can you do me a favor and pull me out of this crap?"
Ty Lee nodded somewhat happily and began to toss aside all the closet supplies that had buried themselves on top of Naruto. As he stood to remove the bucket stuck to his foot, he wobbled a bit trying to maintain his balance while Ty Lee herself tried to removed the bucket. Losing his sense of gravity Naruto began to fall forward, to which neither himself or Ty Lee could do anything to stop his descent.
As Ty Lee and the Sage respectively both hit the ground behind them, Naruto had managed to stop his fall by stretching his knees around Ty Lee's sides while his palms had planted themselves next to the sides of the acrobat's head. Their faces were now inches away from one another, as Naruto's cloak drenched itself over her body, covering a majority of both of their figures.
It wasn't long before the two started blushing immensely, their faces as bright and vibrant as tomatoes. It was long before Naruto realized that something had begun to press against chest ever so strongly, something soft yet firm, puffy yet bouncy. Something reminiscent of airbags…the Sage began to slowly look down in a realization that horrified.
Ty Lee's breasts to be precise.
Gulping heavily in fear that this would lead to a Sakura-esque beating, he tried desperately not to stare…but then his eyes seemed to move on themselves.
He blamed Jiraiya…oh HOW he blamed Jiraiya.
They weren't nearly as overzealously large as Tsunade's, but they seemed to near what he had come to have known Hinata's by after he had seen her without her daunting Eskimo coat on. She was certainly well proportioned for someone her age, something he knew that other girls who knew her were probably jealous of.
Once again Kurama's laughter echoed in his mind, taunting him ever so viciously.
"Come on Kit, grab em! Ya know you want to!…"
N-n-n-n-no! I shouldn't! I c-can't! I'll get killed!
"You know it'd be completely worth it." Shaking the Kyuubi's perverted thoughts as well as his own out of his mind, Naruto began to regain his composure as Ty Lee was still too flustered to do anything. She had seen his face from an entirely straightforward angle, as well have witnessed his broad, firm chest from a near touchable level. She herself as a young woman had the urge to feel his pectorals, but she was still shocked to do anything.
Both downed teenagers looked to their right to see and old man dressed in a Fire Nation General outfit smiling mischievously down on both of them. A look of both envy and mockery was instilled in his rather calm face, obviously enjoying the situation at hand.
Atop his head his hair was encased in a small bun similar to Zhao's, but was much more grey in color. He was also much pudgier than the Admiral, a good deal of wait being present within him. A steaming tea cup was held in both of his hands; the sizzling smell of herbs began to fragrance the air.
Looking at each other upon the realization of what it must've looked like to the elderly man, they quickly and frantically began trying to get up, Ty Lee's knee placing itself within Naruto's sternum in the process. A rather violent cough was heard in response, as the Sage rolled off the acrobat, writhing in pain.
Ty Lee was the first to regain her balance and bowed customary to the old man, and then hugged him lightly in a sense of remembrance.
"It's good to see you again, Iroh. Last time I checked you weren't you with Zuko?" Ty Lee asked curiously, trying to completely ignore what just happened and skip on to another topic. Naruto still writhed on the floor with pain before balancing himself a nearby wall as Iroh looked over the girl's shoulder to see the rather strange looking lad.
"Yes, but circumstance lead to a rather tragic circumstance…I'm afraid our Prince may be no more." Iroh said feigning sadness, knowing full well the truth of his nephew's fate.
"Z-Zuko is…dead? That's horrible! Whatever you do, do NOT tell Mai about this Iroh! It would break her heart!" Ty Lee exclaimed in a horrified state, saddened as well for the supposed passing of the Prince of the Fire Nation.
"I won't my dear, I'll only tell her when the time is right. But I must ask, what were you in this stranger doing? It looked as if I was interrupting something rather…intimate, if I may so myself." Iroh chuckled, earning a slap on the head from the acrobat.
As Naruto regained his balance and dusted himself off, he looked up at the old man in pain as his composure returned. "Hello there, I'm Uzumaki Namikaze Naruto, Azula's new traveling companion. We crossed paths as she was traveling to this vessel, and we fought off a group of rogue Earthbenders together. She was impressed by my skills and decided to bring me along."
"Really? From what I've known about my niece she isn't too easily impressed; so you must be quite the warrior, boy. I must say your name has a nice ring to it even if it is a bit uncommon, which is not saying much by your rather unusual if you don't me addressing." Iroh stated calmly as he took another sip of his tea.
"I get that a lot, trust me. I'm a foreigner from the Earth Kingdom if you must know, though I never really agreed with my Nation's policies in regards to the Fire Nation so I left it behind." The Sage lied, earning a curious stare from Ty Lee only for her to understanding the meaning of his fabrication shortly afterwards.
"I see…you do have quite the unusual hair color though my boy and its length is quite remarkable as well; I'm sure you were quite the lady-killer back in your hometown, you probably still are." Iroh laughed heartily.
Naruto rubbed the back of his head in embarrassment; the old man didn't know how right he was. "In truth Iroh-san the females of my village were always less than interested in me for quite a while, only quite a bit later in these teenage years of mine have they started to tried garner for my attention; it's a mixed blessing at best I assure you."
The rather portly continued to laugh, his admirable gut bouncing with each chuckle. Wiping a few tears away from his eyes he looked at the blonde with a much more serious look. Looking at the new disheveled closet, the old man could only shake his head lightly. "I see your accommodations aren't exactly worthy of being with Azula's company; did something occur to anger her?"
"I spoke my mind about the Fire Nation's policies in this War, pointing what was specifically wrong about at them at best. Let's just say she didn't take it too well and stuffed me in the storage compartment for the night as punishment; the unusual sight you witnessed was an attempt at Ty Lee trying to wrench me out of there after everything collapsed on me, to which I fell on her after losing my balance." Naruto sighed heavily, a small blush still evident within Ty Lee's cheeks.
"My niece has never been one to accept criticism kindly, let me assure that you're one of the lucky ones Naruto, usually people who voice their opinions around royalty are often imprisoned or even executed for supposed insubordination or heresy. I myself never found such measures against people who just want to speak their minds freely necessary, something which my brother and I have often argued about." Iroh muttered regrettably, taking another swig of his tea.
"Truly? You'd openly disagree with your brother? Given that he's the current Fire Lord I didn't think you of all people would try to vocally defy him." Naruto stated casually.
"To date I think I'm the only person to speak of ill refute or even speak against my brother's policies, how he thinks he can unify the Four Nations through such violence is beyond me. I've always thought that Ozai took after our own father, the late Fire Lord Azulon, far too well. I know that a person should not speak ill of parents, but my father was hardly a saint himself; always pressing on forward blindly about carrying our grandfather Sozin's dying testament of true Unification."
"Azulon blindly followed the will of his father, and now I feel my brother has repeated the same mistake of ill refute without properly thinking of the consequences at hand. I'm not even sure if Ozai had truly originally believed Sozin's regime to be justified, I personally think it was just a matter of time until our father's words of Sozin's plan indoctrinated itself within Ozai's mind. Now I'm almost certain Ozai truly believes in a will he was never even around to witness, blindly following the wishes of his father and of his father before him." Iroh muttered regrettably, swigging down his last sip of tea.
Naruto couldn't help but feel sympathy for the elderly, portly man; it wasn't the first time someone had followed had a path out of a blind sense of loyalty and or vengeance. Ozai had followed his father's intentions that were past down by his grandfather, similar to how Sasuke had inherited the Nikushimi no Noroi from his ancestors before him.
Some could argue that it wasn't really either man's fault, and they simply inherited the hateful nature from their relatives before them; but it became more evident over time that Sasuke had truly believed in his path of vengeance, becoming truly and utterly devoted to it. A part of Naruto feared the same outcome for the current Fire Daimyo, who would feel the need to exercise his ancestor's regime to forcefully unite the world throughout absolute domination.
"At least someone else is willing to view things in a different light, I suppose with age comes wisdom, right old man?" Naruto chuckled, earning a collective grin from both Ty Lee and Iroh respectively.
"I suppose so, though you yourself are quite knowledgeable for one your age, it is most surprising. While I cannot say I am blame them, many youths of today's world only see the troubles of this world on a purely black and white scale; they do not pause to see the in between, which in itself often leads to disaster." Iroh contemplated casually, not knowing the truth behind Naruto's actual age.
"On that we can agree can agree upon Iroh, I only hope in time Azula will be able to truly see that this war isn't just about who's right and who's wrong; perhaps in time I can persuade her to see things differently." Naruto muttered softly.
Iroh chuckled grimly, wiping a small tear from his eye. "You'll need the aid of the Spirits and the luck of a greased noble to pull that one off my boy, but perhaps someday it will be possible for someone; even if that person isn't you."
As Naruto began to walk past Iroh and Ty Lee, he had not taken more than seven steps before the acrobat had called out to him. He turned around slowly to look at the pink girl, who had taken out his old headband from her side pocket. Tossing it to him gently, silk and metal whirled across the air until they connected with his hand. Wrapping across his forehead under his golden hair, he couldn't help but smile at the familiar feeling of something protecting him from a possible deathblow.
"Azula told me to give back your headband to you when I caught up with you, she was originally going to do it herself but considering what happened last night, I think she decided it wasn't the best idea to talk to you so soon. Sorry about that, Zula will get over it eventually Naruto, don't worry." Ty Lee said sweetly, a small smile tracing across the lips of the Sage.
"Thanks Ty-chan, if anyone needs me before we reach the Water Tribe's perimeter I'll be on the outside of the ship; mostly likely on the bridge…I have to meet up with some old friends of mine." Naruto answered cryptically, walking away without actually caring to endeavor either Ty Lee or Iroh on who exactly he was meeting once more.
"Old friends? Ty-chan? That boy is a bit of an oddity, isn't he Ty Lee?" Iroh laughed while slapping his gut.
Sighing lightly, Ty Lee shook in her head in disbelief and at this point a common acceptance. "I don't think you realize how right you are, Iroh."
*Zhao's Vessel, Hallways*
As Naruto walked through the ever looming steel maze that seemed to confine him, he knew what he had to do upon reaching the bridge; it had been far too long since he had seen any of them. He would've performed the Summoning Technique sooner had the chance been presented to him or the opportunity within itself was prime, but he had no such luck so far.
Besides, not only would their assistance be most welcome in the assault was to come, it wasn't like a majority of them were just bodies of Chakra now; their own Unification had ensured their mortality once more. They were alive as anyone else was, it was just a matter of reintroducing them to the common world and letting them know what exactly was going on.
A familiar presence tapped in the back of his mind, Kurama obviously had questions.
"You're not just going to the bridge for fresh air I take it Kit? You're going to summon the Paths of Truth, your fellow Jinchuriki, aren't you? I can't imagine this will go over smoothly, just gonna put that out there right now."
It's not like I have a choice Kurama, I'm not just gonna not Summon them. They're living, breathing human beings; they aren't Chakra dolls like Nagato's Paths of Pains were. They're just as live as you or me, and more importantly, they're my friends; my brothers and sisters, comrades in arms.
"So fucking cheesy."
"After you tell em everything that's happened to us so far, you better inform em to tone down their respective abilities otherwise the Tribe you're trying not to pulverize is gonna be nothing but a fucking smoking crater."
"Hey! Wait a moment…since Nagato reverted Madara's control of the Jinchuriki Paths to you before he died, and everyone of them minus obviously you, Gaara and Kirabi had both a Rinnegan Eye and a Sharingan Eye implanted within them; doesn't that mean your Paths, your friends, will have the Rinnegan AND Sharingan?"
…OOOHHHHH SHIIIIIT! I can't believe I totally forgot about that! The Rinnegan and the Sharingan in six out of nine of us, and given the fact that we're all working together…that's gonna be some asskicking worthy material right there!
"Not only that, but there's also the fact that the Sharingan's Mangenkyo Limit activates upon the death of your best friend; and considering how literally billions of people ended up dying and the world as we knew it ended, wouldn't that allow the six Jinchuriki under Madara's control to have the Mangenkyo Sharingan in at least one of their respective eyes?"
…How the hell did I overlook this!
"Because you're a complete moron?"
You didn't think of it until now either!
"At least I thought of it first."
"While in truth Gaara and Kirabi would only have the Rinnegan, that's still quite a Dojutsu within itself. Maybe when you meet up with Faust again sometime today you can ask him if he can heal your damaged eye. Madara-teme sure did a number on your face, and it would be really beneficial to the both of us if not only your full vision is restored; but the prime effects of both your Rinnegan and Sage Mode can be utilized to their complete extent."
…You really think he'll agree to something like that? Faust watched over us for literally thousands of years while constantly making sure we didn't rot away into nothing; if anything, we owe him a favor, not the other way around.
"True, but if you could validate your point more clearly to him and explain the necessary meaning of why your returned eyesight in said eye would be beneficial to our cause it might improve our chances of persuading him."
Again, very true and quite observant; maybe I will ask him…
"…Hey, about that old man? Iroh, wasn't it?"
What about him?
"He was lying to you about Azula's brother, wasn't he? Prince Zuko wasn't it?"
"He claimed he was dead, lost due to cruel circumstance; when you looked him directly in the eyes your thought pattern transferred the information to me that he was fibbing due to your limited clairvoyance."
"That, and any fellow Demon can usually tell when one of you humans is lying; we can sense deception upon you. It often reeks of desperation and foolishness, though I sensed none in him."
He indeed has some semblance of honor…reminds me of Jiraiya-sensei…
"What did you learn from reading his mind?"
He's obviously lying about this Prince Zuko character, or Azula's older brother to be precise. He's not dead at all, he's here somewhere; on the ship.
"So he's lying to Zhao and Azula to protect his nephew's well being?"
That's most likely the cause, you and I both heard Azula voice contempt for her brother; I doubt this Zuko would exactly care for a family reunion so early. And as for Zhao, the man seems a bit pompous; he probably just wants to subdue or kill Aang on his own to hog all the glory of presenting his corpse to Daimyo Ozai.
"You really think he's stupid enough to try to go over Azula's head?"
It's quite possible; you could see the arrogance in his face as well as I could. It's obvious he doesn't care for my presence here; probably because he doesn't want to feel upstaged in an invasion that was supposed to be under his jurisdiction alone.
"That doesn't answer why Azula's brother is here on this ship in the first place…"
Perhaps he means to kill or capture the Avatar first? I'd imagine raking in this supposed Messiah would grant you considerable honor in Hi no Kuni, no matter who you are, royal or military.
"A wise guess, but I doubt Azula would be willing to give up such a prize so easily; especially to her brother of all people."
"Are you planning on revealing Iroh's scheme to Azula? Could possibly win us some brownie points for our little incident last night."
No…not yet I think. Let us see how this all plays out first…I'd rather see all of Iroh's cards on the table before immediately condemning him as a threat.
"Hiding such knowledge is a dangerous task, even more so considering who you'd be hiding it from."
Azula will find out in due time I'm certain, but let her find out on her own accord. She is the Hime of this Nation so this problem is of her own mess; it is of no concern to me. Such family matters should be reserved to be mopped up by said family alone; I have no place in passing down judgment in this scenario.
"That's a risky game you're intending on playing Kit, who's to say Azula won't eventually find out the truth?"
Regardless if she does or not, my reasons are justified in this scenario; if she discovers this threat and thwarts than all the better for her, if not, than it is not of my concern. I may serve this Nation and Azula along with it, but she has given me reasons to doubt her and more specifically her father.
In time I hope to make her see the error of her father's foolish judgment that has been passed down for two generations now, this cycle of bloodshed must end.
"Words well spoken, you're much more like Minato than you think, Kit…he'd be proud."
…Thanks Kurama, that means a lot me.
"Hey, we're partners, aren't we? You taught me that a long time ago."
*Northern Water Tribe*
"What do you mean he just vanished?" Katara exclaimed in a rather annoyed tone.
Sokka rubbed his temples, tired of explaining it for the seventh thousandth time.
"I swear by our Ancestors, the guy just disappeared! Zoop! Right out of thin air! One moment he's chatting up Princess Yue and the next he disappears faster than meat around me at a buffet!" The warrior exclaimed rather ravishingly, savoring the thought of roasted beef in his mouth.
Katara and Aang couldn't help but roll their eyes, having come to expect meat related metaphors from Sokka by now. But no matter how hard they thought, neither one of them could think of how anyone could just literally vanish away into nothing; it didn't seem physically possible. For a Spirit perhaps it was an easy feat, but for a human being? It just didn't make sense, nothing was adding up.
"What were Naruto and Yue talking about anyway? You said you overhead a lot of their conversation?" Aang inquired, earning a mischievous look from Katara.
"By 'overheard' I think Sokka meant spying." The Inuit girl chuckled, earning a frustrated look from her brother.
"I didn't spy on them! I was just watching their every move!" Sokka proclaimed rather proudly, an almost empathetic look being shot off at him from Aang.
Walking over to his friend slowly, Aang casually put his hand on his friend's shoulder; the Avatar softly shook his head with a sense of humor behind it. "Sokka, that's the same exact thing."
"No it's not!" Sokka pleaded desperately.
"Yeah, yeah it kind of is." Katara added in.
Shaking his head in infuriation, the now flustered warrior shook his arms like a madman to defend himself. "Whatever! Watching, spying, you're both missing the point! I still heard a lot of what they were talking about! Naruto said something about protecting Yue no matter what the situation was to become in the future, what does anyone make of that?"
Katara's eyes widened ever so slightly, cupping her chin in thought. Aang seemed a bit as well, trying to decipher the cryptic words left behind by the even stranger man. They would've spent a few more moments in thought, before Sokka decided to impulsively voice his opinion.
"Maybe he's a spy from the Fire Nation?" Sokka said out of nowhere, surprising both his sister and Aang.
"What makes you say that?" Aang asked.
Raising both of his palms to defend his claims, Sokka was ready to alleviate his claim. "Think about it, he looks like a complete weirdo, acts like a complete weirdo, has a crapload of abilities we haven't seen and acts more or less friendly to near everyone; ya know, except for Hahn who is now without his hands."
"But he Waterbends and Earthbends, he told us his mother and father from that small town in the Earth Kingdom taught him so. Besides, even if that story isn't true, why would the Fire Nation want a person who can Waterbend on their side? They hate our kind with a burning passion, no pun intended." Katara stated somewhat heatedly.
"Maybe they made an acceptation for him? Look at the Bending he's capable of performing in both the Waterbending and Earthbending Styles, maybe they just decided he was worthy temporarily looking past their policies?" Sokka tried to defend himself, earning a head shake from his sister.
"Sokka, there's no way the Fire Nation would ever look past such a thing; their far too bigoted to even consider making anyone other than Firebenders their allies." Katara said in a defensive manner.
Before the debate could continue, a random man burst through their door in a panicked state; alarming the group considerably to the point where Sokka fell out of his bed. Momo screeched in a burst of fear, clinging onto Aang considerably.
"Avatar! You and your friends are to report to Arnook immediately!" The man said as he panted heavily.
"Why? What's wrong?" Aang inquired curiously.
"Don't tell me that we did something wrong again?" Sokka moaned as he held his head in pain, rolling around the icy floor in agony.
"No, it's not that…it's much worse than that I fear." The man rasped fearfully,
"What is it then?" Katara asked.
"Our scouts far out past the perimeter of the Tribe has reported confirming visual of a massive armada headed this way…"
"…It's Fire Nation."
*Zhao's Vessel, Outer Bridge*"
Naruto stood amongst the open parameter of the bridge, casually looking by as many of the readying soldiers passed him in preparation to properly to assign ordinance to each and every station. Sighing heavily with a hint of nostalgia, Naruto performed a few hand signs; ready to see his old friends again.
"Kuchiyose no Jutsu: Shinjitsu no Pasu."
A large puff of smoke engulfed the surrounding perimeter, which lead to the coughing and hacking of many nearby foot soldiers. As the haze cleared, numerous figures could be seen standing by the blond Sage.
The first of which was a man dressed in clad red, a torn grey military jacket wrapping around his chest. He wore dark grey pants accompanied by pure black sandals, both of his eyes swirled with dark violet textures, the first of three to do so. A bright red Kanji symbol on his head that translated to Love was entirely evident, which was in turn accompanied by an even darker set of red hair. The most noticeable feature about the young man was a large gourd of some sort strapped to his back, evidently filled with something in which the contents remained currently unknown.
Subaku no Gaara, Jinchuriki of the Ichibi no Shukaku; and much more prominently, the man who was once the Godaime Kazekage of Sunagakure.
Second was a rather mature looking blonde woman, the first to bare the swirling crimson and violet eyes of the Sharingan and Rinnegan Kekkei Genkai respectively. Her hair was adorned in a long ponytail; a black shirt remained somewhat hidden under a small light purple vest. Two black fingerless gloves took refuge upon her hands, her arms and ankles covered in white sashes. Around her waist a crimson belt was draped, which in turn was complimented by a pair of dark purple pants.
Yugito Nii of Kumogakure, Jinchuriki of the Bakenono Nibi, the Two Tails Monster Cat, Matatabi.
Third was a young looking man whose skin seemed very clear and creamy. A strange scar had made its way down his right eye; a green scarf-like garment adorned itself around his neck. His outfit seemed very formal almost like it commanded respect; not nearly as casual as his companions. It was mainly clad in both black and different shades of green, aside from hazel boots and a headband bearing a strange symbol that wrapped itself around his waist. Like Gaara before him his most prominent feature adorned his back, a giant black spear-hook like weapon that was accompanied by a light viridian flower.
Yagura, Jinchuriki of the Kyodaigame Sanbi, the Three Tails Giant Turtle, Isobu. Akin to Gaara, Yagura too held rank in what was once his village; he was once the Yondaime Mizukage of Kirigakure; in which most of his reign was corrupted through his manipulation under the eyes of Uchiha Madara.
The fourth and considerably older man bore brazen red hair similar to Gaara, though even his beard and sideburns were crimson as well. His boots and fingerless gloves were both black, his entire body adorned by a large magenta coat of some sort. A three pronged helmet decorate his head, which shared its hazel color with a large brown sash wrapped around the elderly man's waist.
Much like Yugito Nii, he was not a Kage of any sort like Yagura or Gaara, but his tales of valor had made him well known in ancient times. He was Roshi, or more prominently known Yoton no Roshi, Roshi of the Fire Release; one of the most powerful ninja of Iwagakure. Roshi himself was Jinchuriki to one of the most illustrious albeit boastful Biju of all the Nine, Son Goku, who prided himself as both Sen'en no O and the Seiten Taisei, the King of the Sage Monkeys and the Great Sage Equaling Heaven respectively. The ape was more commonly known as the Saru Yonbi, the Four Tails Monkey; though it hated such brash terminology and would often demand to be addressed by its self-given titles or its actual name.
Fifth was the largest and tallest member amongst them all, standing at least seven and a half feet tall. Completely adorned in a bright crimson armor that's only differencing colors being the black vest, gloves and pants; this individual was undoubtedly the most mysterious among them. An old fashioned almost samurai-esque hat adorned his crown, which in turn covered his most of head itself through a white sash that descended down from under it.
The mysterious stranger's name was Han, who had hailed from Iwagakure similarly to his fellow Jinchuriki in arms, Roshi. Han himself was host to the Iruka-Ba Gobi, the Five Tails Dolphin Horse, Kokuo.
The sixth was a rather handsome young man who has hazel hair drooped down in front of his face, leaving only one eye exposed completely. He was dressed in a rather light blue gown of sort that symbolized royalty, a golden sash adorning his waist. A peculiar small pipe was lodged in his mouth, content on resting itself within his gums.
A former missing-Nin of Kirigakure, Utakata was the Jinchuriki of the Namekuji Rokubi, Saiken. He and Naruto had met previously before the Fourth Great Ninja World War brought on by Madara; where they conversed upon their views on fellow Jinchuriki and of the war with what was once the Akatsuki itself. The young man was tragically captured and killed however by Akatsuki's efforts, leaving his self-titled servant Hotaru to grieve, in which she found eventual comfort in Naruto's arms themselves.
The second to last and seventh of the Jinchuriki was a young female with light mint hair mainly dressed in white. Her legs and her navel remained bear with almost fishnet material surfacing from her apron skirt and shorts. Long silver colored sleeves covered most of her arms; a large crimson cylindrical was draped over her back, similarly to Gaara's gourd and Yagura's spear-hook. An almost mischievous smile quickly bordered across her face, to which Naruto was glad to see after so long.
Her name was Fu, who had hailed from Takigakure as the Jinchuriki of the Kabutomushi Nanabi, the Seven Tails Japanese Rhinoceros Beetle, Chomei; who often addressed itself has Rakki Sebun Chomei, Lucky Seven Chomei.
The last and eighth amongst those summoned was a large, tall African American man draped in mainly white garments decorated with the occasional crimson polishing that adorned his gloves and boots. His pants and sandals were a charcoal black, a Kumogakure headband draping itself over his head, which were accompanied by black sunglasses covering his eyes. A numerous multitude of small blades whose hilts were all a dark red were attached to many sheaths upon his back, though from common inspection one would guess they were far too many swords for one man to use; the populace couldn't have been more wrong.
The rather rambunctious man's name was Kirabi; the adoptive brother to the Yondaime Raikage A, and much more prominently, the Jinchuriki of the Tako Ushi Hachibi, the Eight Tails Octopus Ox, Gyuki.
Mere moments after they had arrived, smiles had rapidly crept their way up the Nine's faces upon seeing each other once more.
The Jinchuriki stood as brothers and sisters in arms once more.
And that was made incredibly clear through a shriek of joy but Fu, who jump glomped Kirabi and Naruto at the same time, rubbing her now incredibly content on both of theirs. Roshi and Han were shaking hands once more, while both Utakata and Yagura exchanged friendly glances at one another.
Gaara pulled Naruto out of Fu's ever clinging embrace, with Yugito strangely willing to take the fellow blonde's face; contented with Fu's cheerful demeanor and more than happy to see her old friend Kirabi again. The old but youthful Kazekage greeted the one who saved him with an almost tearful hug, overjoyed to see Naruto once more.
The Sage returned the hug with equal passion, glad to see finally see his fellow brothers and sisters once more. Gaara and Naruto's hold was interrupted shortly afterwards by an over energetic Fu, who was now done hugging the life out of Kirabi and Yugito; now held both sons of Kage's in an enthusiastic headlock.
After a few moments of laughing that induced tears, and rampant greetings galore, everyone finally started to calm down. The nearby foot soldiers didn't even begin to question what was going on, the scene was so foreign to them they all just decided it was best they ignored it.
Wiping a few tears from his eyes, Naruto looked at his fellow Jinchuriki with the largest smile he had ever given the new world. He had no doubt that the Biju had or were still having a reunion with one another physically across the minds of their hosts; it was a good day for everyone.
"Guys…I can't even tell you how good it feels to see you all back again…you have quite literally have no idea how happy I am to see you all." Naruto happily remarked, tears still coming down his cheeks.
"Then why are you crying, Naruto-kun? That doesn't seem very happy." Fu commented in her usual uppity fashion, leaning happily against Han's armor who could only sigh in contentment.
"Happy reunions like this always bring in the waterworks, yo. I'd cry but that just wouldn't be very tight, now would it?" Kirabi said as he began to rap ever so slightly, to which Yugito shook her head in disbelief. Utakata and Yagura laughed together lightly, their arms draped over one another's shoulders to balance each other's weight which they had yet to get used to again.
"Already and you start in with that infernal rapping of yours? You'd think a few thousand years being out of commission and you would've matured…" Yugito casually remarked facepalming as she said so.
The large black man soon struck a pose in his usual eccentric fashion, clearly lightly offended. "Hey, don't be hatin' on me! I'm still the one and only Killer Bee! Might've been a dead for a few thousand years, but when it comes to free verse I gotta steer clear!"
Roshi couldn't resist joining Yugito in a united facepalm, much to Fu and Naruto's combined amusement. Utakata chuckled ever so lightly, taking a joint step forward with Yagura. Before either one could state their case, the usually silent armored titan Han decided to make his own opinion known first.
"It's been quite awhile since we've the eight of us excluding you of course Naruto-san have seen the light of day once more; I'm sure we all have questions to what we're doing here, where we are currently, what has become of the world, and of course, what convoluted nonsense you have gotten yourself into." Han muttered quietly, a resounding chorus of laughs escaping the mouths of Fu, Kirabi and Yagura respectively.
Naruto couldn't resist a small chuckle himself, looking up at his newly revived friends with a look of mock hurt. "Ah come on guys, don't you have some faith in me at least that I'm not in over my head again?"
"You may be capable, but you're perfectly capable of getting yourself in a mess as well."
Such were the utterances of Yagura, Utakata and Roshi respectively; while Naruto himself faked a blow to the stomach. Kirabi stood behind his longtime friend and patted him on the back lightly, a bright smile shining across his face.
"We all know ya too well by now boy; don't try to be foolin' us with an innocent ploy! All of us know when Uzumaki Naruto is back, y'all be ready for some for flack; that's just the fact, jack!"
Rolling his eyes and sharing a laugh with his large dark-skinned friend, Naruto couldn't help but shake his head in acceptance of the facts at hand. Whenever he did get involved in something, no matter if it was a big problem or a small when at first; it always seemed to grow bigger and more prominent whenever he joined the picture. He guessed it was karma itself at work considering that nothing in his life ever seemed to be simple, but hey, what was he supposed to do?
Cracking his knuckles and looking up at his fellow Jinchuriki, he was more than ready and able to alleviate their curiosity. "Alright, where do I begin…?"
*Northern Water Tribe*
News of Chieftain's Arnook's summoning of all civilians and warriors of the prominence had almost everyone on edge, even Pakku, the most experienced fighter amongst them all. Nearly everyone present could almost guess what their leader was about to announce, even if they pleaded with fate for it not to be true. Fear had spread through everyone's systems like a poison, corrupting them with thoughts of death and failure while struggling to survive as the worst had yet to come.
"My people, the day we have feared for so very long is upon us all…the Fire Nation is at our doorstep; and they nothing else but our sheer, unbridled decimation. It with great sorrow I call my family here before me, knowing full well that many of the faces I have come to love and adore will vanish from my sight forever…but they will NEVER vanish from our hearts."
"Now, as we approach the battle for our very existence, I call upon the great Spirits to watch over us, our Ancestors to Guide us, and Tui and La Themselves to gaze upon our struggle! God of the Ocean! God of the Moon! Be with us here today in what shall either make or break us as a whole! I'm going to need volunteers for a dangerous mission...Gods know we'll need heroes in our darkest hour."
A young man rises from amongst the crowd, a brash fiery determination evident in his eyes. "Count me in! I couldn't make a difference when the Fire Nation harassed by Tribe, I won't stand by and be helpless this time!"
"Sokka…" His sister whispered, impressed by her brother's newfound courage.
"Be warned, many of you will not return from this battle; while this struggle may indeed be a battle we can win, it cannot be done without sacrifice. Blood must be shed on both sides today regardless if we are destroyed or if we prosper…it is the inevitable tragedy of war. To all those who volunteer, come forth and receive my mark if you're up to this task."
Sokka steps forward the man before him receives the Mark of War, passing him by almost sorrowfully at what could inevitably be his end. Three crimson lines are passed onto to Sokka's face by Arnook himself, a declaration of rebellion against the invaders at hand. The young man gazes in Yue's direction looking for either comfort or output, to which the young woman averts her gaze and closes her eyes; tears strolling down her smooth, creamy cheeks.
She didn't want this for Sokka, yet alone anyone; the brutality of war should not be met with those who have barely lived their lives. With each coming battle younger warriors replace the elderly, and with each empty grave therein lies a man who had yet to truly live…truly, war was Hell.
The Chieftain looks over his Tribe as many begin sharpening their weapons, or conversing with their fellow soldiers for tactics if the worse should occur. Others said goodbye to their families, to which such sorrowful reunions usually led to tears on both sides. Even more offered words of regret and hope to their lovers, many of whom were engaged to one another.
A line of black and red could be seen across the very borderline of the sea from what could be seen with the naked eye, a malevolent promise of the destruction that could and very well would follow. Arnook shook his head in obvious disapproval, dismayed by the odds against him and his people.
"The stillness before battle is unbearable…such a quiet dread."
Aang looks out to the ever growing rows of black, a look of determination showing itself upon his face. Katara stands next to him, bracing herself for what is to come.
"I wasn't there when the Fire Nation butchered my people…I'm going to make a difference this time; I won't let what happened so long again occur again, I won't."
A warrior steps forward Arnook and Aang's company ever so grimly, all of them when the sound of footsteps is within audible range; and all express their apparent shock at the rather dismal site before them.
Hahn's eyes narrow with almost hateful determination, a hint of contempt presents itself within his face. What used to be his hands are now no more than bloody stumps bandaged over and over again, but it is what replaces his means of holding a sword that shocks everyone. Forcefully and crudely taking his hands place are two blades, each one representing the failure of his battle with Naruto. Holding his custom means of fighting to his sides, Hahn glares out at the sea with unbridled fury.
"The healers did everything they could to help me; but one cannot replace a severed limb with Waterbending alone. I had my servants tend to my wounds shortly afterwards, in which these blades were placed within what were once my hands; an agonizing experience I wish I could forget. I requested it though; if I cannot hold a sword my hands will be swords instead."
Arnook sighed heavily, admiring the boy's determination for looking past what was obviously a truly painful experience but perturbed by his hatred and his lack of rationality. "Lord Hahn, even with your makeshift weapons I cannot allow you to partake in the mission I have set forth; it is a matter requiring espionage, and protruding swords do not carry such secrecy with them.
Hahn snorts angrily in retaliation, shaking his arms in frustration.
"Fine, then put me on the Wall, I will be there to fight the Fire Nation directly when they show their heinous faces. I'm sure it is not every day they face an opponent whose weapons are his very hands."
Arnook shakes his head in a dim manner, and nods in approval at Hahn's statement; to which the warrior walks off in a furiously determined matter to face his people's encroachers. Stepping forward softly to Sokka and placing his hand on his shoulder lightly, the young man looks up at the Chieftain in a concerned matter.
"Sokka, could you walk with me for a moment? There is a matter in which we must discuss."
The Southern Tribe warrior swallows slightly in thought, but then briefly nods in agreement. The two men begin to walk off in the opposite direction of Aang, the gap slowly closing between them both which step. At least thirty paces away from amiable eavesdropping distance, Arnook turns his head slowly as the two continue to walk on.
"Sokka…I don't want you partaking in the matter you have volunteered for." The Chieftain mutters softly, earning the attention of a now somewhat infuriated Sokka.
"But I can handle it! I'm just as much a warrior as anyone else here!" The young man proclaims defensively.
"Perhaps…but I have another task for you…something I believe I can only trust someone of your caliber with. You have traveled with the Avatar through his fateful journey more than halfway across the world, and you had voiced your obvious disapproval at Hahn's arrogance as well, a feat only you and the now distant Naruto share…you deserve much more than a death upon a Fire Nation vessel."
"Oh…okay, I guess. But what did you have in mind for me to do, exactly?"
"…To protect my daughter."
*Zhao's Vessel, Outer Bridge*
After a much needed though very longwinded explanation, the reawakened Jinchuriki couldn't help but shake their heads, gape in awe and laugh at Naruto's story. They expected he would've gotten into at least SOME trouble, but this?
He hadn't been active for over three days and already he was chasing after a person rumored to be the Messiah of the world, allied with his now thousands of years developed Nation that had apparently turned into a dictatorship, shared a kiss with a Princess no less, AND was now smack dab in the middle of war caused by a totalitarianism regime started over one hundred years ago that had only evolved through a sense of self-entitlement and ever growing racial tensions.
Roshi pinched the bridge of nose in frustration; beginning to wonder how the long passed Gama Sannin Jiraiya had managed to deal with this boy's antics. "From what you've told us Naruto-san Hi no Kuni has fallen under the same tyranny that teme you opposed Shimura Danzo would've enforced on Konohagakure. I'm glad your Sandaime Hokage, Sarutobi Hiruzen is not here to witness this outrage; the Shinobi no Kami would've not tolerated this disgrace to continue as long as it has."
"Indeed, I can only vaguely remember what my rule turned into when Madara-teme used his Mangenkyo to control me and impose his own regime on my beloved Kiri…self-serving, ignorant monster." Yagura muttered angrily, a comforting hand placed on his shoulder by an empathetic Fu.
"What do you think we should do, Naruto-san? The matter of the blackmail this Azula-hime has imposed on you in order to ensure your loyalty for this battle is truly despicable; it's a very snakelike move, she reminds me much of the tales I heard of in relation to Orochimaru who used fear to manipulate people. I think this Hime has learned a little too well from her father Naruto-san, maybe we should just aid the people you described being under the banner of this Northern Water Tribe instead." Yugito added on, a tone of considerable disapproval evident in her voice.
Naruto shook his head soon afterwards, having already come up with his own solution to the rather abundant problem at hand. "If we do that Yugito-chan than we very well risk the chance of the current Hi no Kuni declaring us not only as a mortal enemy for the death of their Daimyo's daughter, but it will only inspire Ozai to further escalate the violence of this war. Even if the Fire Nation doesn't learn that it was us specifically, they'd most likely try to shift the blame to be some kind of Water Tribe terrorist attack and use it to justify further brutality; we can't have that kind of blood on our hands so early."
"And in regards to your statement about Azula-hime, yes I'll admit she's a little rough around the edges and she has a lot of improvement to do, no thanks to her father I'm sure but that's beside the point. There IS good in here, I can sense it; she just hasn't found it yet, unlike Sasuke I believe she can be saved if there is a guiding force besides her than can show her not to be so complacent with a way of ruling she had thought to be justified for so long." Naruto replied softly, still wanting to help the Princess avoid Sasuke's fate.
"And what if she doesn't listen? This could be another Sasuke all over again Naruto-san; I don't want to see you break yourself for a person who won't listen." Gaara said almost desperately, able and willing to avoid another vengeful Uchiha scenario.
Kirabi nodded his head in agreement and pounded his chest out of respect for the Kazekage's sentiment, sharing the same beliefs as well. The vengeful young man had attacked him ages ago and yet he could still remember the hateful stare of his Kekkei Genkai; the Sharingan had been tainted by a vendetta over a hundred years old by the time Sasuke was born, so it wasn't entirely the boy's fault. Regardless, people were still responsible for their actions genetics or not; if Azula couldn't break free from her great grandfather Sozin's arrogance than maybe death was truly a safer alternative.
Naruto sighed heavily upon the redhead's words, agreeing with them to a certain extent. He had learned the hard way that not everyone can be saved, as some people truly don't want to be rescued or have fallen so far they cannot be rescued to begin with.
"If Azula-hime truly cannot be dissuaded from this tyrannical thinking put forth by three generations of self-entitled rulers than I will do what I must…even if that means killing her myself. I truly hope it does not come to such a violent alternative, but if she is truly lost I will do what I must in order to prevent another Sasuke."
Utakata took a quick puff of his water pipe, exhaling bubbles calmly. "Sounds like you've got it all planned out Naruto-san, as for our effort in this siege though, what exactly did you have in mind? If you want us to utilize our combined powers in this assault then I fear our strength will do more than this fight; we might outright destroy this Tribe in the process."
"I fear what Utakata-san says is true Naruto-san, if we did indeed utilize an all-out offensive against these people it would result in their utter annihilation. Given how you've stated your own abilities seem almost mythical to these people I can only imagine the nine of us unleashing our true talents would be far too much for these people to handle, in retrospect we are far too powerful in comparison to their own strengths." Yugito sighed heavily in agreement with Utakata's earlier statement.
Nodding his head in understanding, the famous Uzumaki smirk accompanied Naruto's face soon after. "I'm glad you guys realize this too, considering I managed to beat down Master Pakku who's apparently the strongest Waterbender there; I had help mind you but I only used Water Release Arts so it took me a bit longer than it would have had I utilized other abilities, but the point is if I can beat their mightiest fighter on my own our united powers would cripple them utterly."
"Instead I've opted for a different strategy as long as we're all together; we should use a good portion of our strength but not nearly give it everything we have against these people. Our objective here is to defeat them, not destroy them; and as long I compete in this fight Azula-hime will keep our deal in tact about ordering Admiral Zhao to not fire upon the civilian population and only the military encampments."
"The goal here is rather simple; we're to break through their defenses the best we can without slaughtering them, avoid targeting any non-combatants, and if absolutely necessary, to deal with this being I have described to you as the one they call the Avatar, a young boy named Aang who in retrospect is far older than he appears. Despite this his mentality and innocence in the field of battle I no doubt suspect will be his great weakness against us, to which we must use such flaws to our advantage. Since you are all linked to me I'm about to mentally send you images of the ones we are not to slay and to only defeat; I will not be party to outright murder."
As Naruto finished explaining, multiple images flashed across the minds of the other eight Jinchuriki; all those their friend and leader had spoken of. A young girl whose hair was adorned in loopies, a young man with his hair tied in a bun, a white haired azure-eyed beauty, and an older man in his fifties who the woman before shared a physical resemblance with. As the mental pictures the faded, the eight turned to Naruto in understanding and nodded in agreement.
"Their names are Katara, Sokka, Princess Yue and Chieftain Arnook respectively. Katara and Sokka have apparently ventured with the Avatar for a long time now, presumably at least a few months; however neither one of them seems truly prepared for what is to occur, and they have yet to understand the reality of life as we Shinobi know it, as a result they are to be only knocked unconscious if confronted and not killed. Yue and her father Arnook are the future leader and current leader of this Tribe respectively, if either one is killed the future of this Tribe itself will placed in true jeopardy; Arnook is an honorable man and Yue a great, intelligent woman, they are not to be harmed." The Sage exclaimed stiffly.
Yagura and Roshi both stepped forward, looks of concerns evident on their faces. "Forgive me Naruto-san but I doubt the Chieftain will give out without a fight, I certainly wouldn't when I was in control of my mind during the time when I was Kage over Iwa. And as for this Azula, what if she orders the deaths of these two royals? Will we outright defy her then?" Yagura asked inquisitively.
"And then there is still the matter of those facts that Yagura has brought up in general; if this Azula does indeed order their deaths and we rebel against her orders defiantly, we will be branded traitors to the current Hi no Kuni. I could also not help but notice that you did not list this Master Pakku or the Avatar himself under the names we were not to strike down; does this mean they are fair game in this battle?"
Sighing heavily while rubbing his temples in deep thought, Naruto couldn't help but consider the facts at hand. Hypocrisy of sorts was a necessary evil here, even if he detested the matter entirely. "To answer your questions in order, if Arnook does not surrender on the fields of battle he is to be knocked unconscious as well; and if Azula orders the deaths of this Tribe's leaders than we shall rebel completely and utterly, as I said I will not be party to destruction of this Tribe's culture or its people. As loyal as I and you all may be to the Land of Fire, outright destruction of its future is out of the question; this cultural genocide Fire Daimyo Ozai has implanted within the hearts of his people is a maddening matter that I will certainly not abide by in the future."
"And as for Master Pakku and Avatar Aang respectively, if their deaths truly cannot be avoided then they have chosen their fate. I truly do not wish to slay either one, Pakku is a true warrior and Aang is merely a child in the face of war, though if he will not see what truly needs to be done in order to better the world perhaps Earth is better off without a hopeless Messiah. And in retrospect if the Fire Nation declares us traitors should we rebel against Azula-hime's orders than I can say faithfully in regards to our ancestors that we will not follow tyranny; nor shall we side with a boy who is far too naïve to truly save the world, we will accomplish peace ourselves need be."
An empty silence engulfed the group, leading Naruto to fear that his friends didn't exactly agree with his words. However such silence was merely the result of wheels turning in their minds, contemplating the words of the son of Namikaze Minato, the Yondaime Hokage of Konohagakure. Naruto's words themselves echoed of what a true Kage would say what Sarutobi Hiruzen would've been proud of. Looking at each once more, the gaze of the remaining eight turned to Naruto silently and nodded their heads in agreement. The golden-haired Sage couldn't help but smile at their understanding, proud to stand besides his fellow Nin once more.
Gaara stepped forward, a look of curiosity and possible worry adorned his face. "I'm afraid my Sand Release Techniques will be of little use in this environment Naruto-san, they would be rendered very much ineffective by how actual little sand or even dirt lies within this place. And against an onslaught of these Waterbenders as you've described them, my sand would be reduced to mud within minutes; and I only carry so much within my gourd itself."
Tapping his chin in thought, Naruto snapped his fingers in a sense of realization a few moments later. "Gaara-san, you've always been a brilliant tactical commander and an expert strategist, I'm sure once I talk to Azula-hime about your talents your strategies could be utilized to their full potential by Zhao if he's commanded to listen to you. Don't get me wrong, he'll probably be even more pissed off at me for this but in all honesty the shits I give are minimal at best so it'd probably be the best decision in your case."
Chuckling lightly at his friend's choice of words, the Kazekage could only shake his head in a sense of nostalgia. "As tactful as ever Naruto-san, I'm truly glad to be fighting alongside you once more."
Before a single word by any of the nine could spoken in response, an eerie breeze filled the air, a lack of oxygen almost immediately evident. It was a frightening thing, a feeling of a being lost since passed present amongst the current populace but its visage lacked a physical representation. A near instant later, a sharp breeze cut through the air, visible light blue strand of wind spiraled amongst one another like a miniature tornado; catching the attention of many of the soldiers and of course the Jinchuriki themselves.
As the wind began to subsides, an almost chilling feeling tore made itself evident; the harsh coldness of death made themselves all too real. As the visible air cleared, a luminescent almost glowing figure adorned in a silver cape his visage well known as he floated above the mortal beings. No limbs presented themselves from either where legs would surface or even the sleeves of the cloak; even his face could not be seen from the darkness that his hood presented itself with.
Almost immediately many of the Fire Nation soldiers aboard the bridge attacked, streaming flames from nearly every direction launched themselves at the mysterious figure; only to literally fade through his intangible form. Many shocked utterances from the men soon followed after, knowing full well that the one they targeted was obviously no mortal man; but a Spirit instead. Before any course of further action could be taken, Naruto raised his hands to still any further offensive gestures against the now panicking troops; temporarily putting them at ease.
Stepping forward slowly, Naruto couldn't help but sigh at the sudden appearance of the figure covered in white.
"Faust, you sure do love appearin' right the hell out of nowhere don't ya? Can't you tone down the mysteriousness a bit for these men? You're kinda creepin' em out." Naruto shrugged nonchalantly, his fellow Jinchuriki's eyes widening at the thought of how their friend was in common association with a Spirit.
(I have matters of great importance to discuss with you Naruto; our time cannot be wasted with technicalities.)
"Naruto-san? How is it you know a Spirit?" Fu asked innocently, though truly curious on the inside. Naruto rubbed the back of head almost mischievously, Faust ready to answer the girl's questions before the Sage could.
(I am Faust, and I have watched over Naruto for thousands of years now.)
(I know you all made the pact to become Naruto's Paths of Truth, but there is much you don't know due to your deaths.)
(I speak in the Old Tongue to disguise our conversation, unworthy ears must not hear of it.)
(Naruto, I trust your Tailed Beast told you of my coming?)
Before Naruto could open his mouth, a mental response echoed to Faust instead.
"I have a name asshole, I advice you use it; Kami knows I've earned some respect from you Spirits for all the shit I've been through."
(God owes you nothing, fox.)
(Naruto, I have come with a gift and a warning; something has escaped the sight of Heaven's reach and it now follows you.)
The Jinchuriki were silent for a moment, disturbed by the Spirit's words. Naruto looked forward adamantly, encouraging the soul to continue.
(My warning must come first, though I warn you it promises nothing short of death.)
(…The one responsible for your imprisonment has returned to this Plain of Existence.)
The group tensed up considerably, many uncomfortable looks being shared amongst one another in deep thought. Naruto's eyes focused into a rather scornful glare, he himself not fully aware of who had thrown him down so deep in the Earth to begin with. Kirabi stepped forward amongst everyone, a justifiably concerned look on his face?
"Imprisoned? Da fuck is up with that? I mean I know we died but who the hell imprisoned Naruto? Point me in the right direction so I can whoop his ass." The large black man claimed as he pumped his chest authoritatively, earning a facepalm from both Yugito, Gaara and Roshi for his lack of tact when talking to a Spirit of all things.
(Your bravery is commendable Kirabi, but it severely overlooks the situation at hand.)
(I speak of a great evil, an evil long since thought destroyed.)
(I speak of an angel who defied who Heaven, who defied God himself.)
(…Long ago this being was known in Heaven under the name Abbadon, the Angel of Death. However, his rebellion was incited by the Apocalypse caused by Madara; which failed and succeeded due to your efforts, Naruto.)
The Sage looked rather glum after Faust uttered his last sentence, but with soon comforted by a two hands placing themselves on his shoulders. Casually looking behind him, Naruto saw both Fu and Kirabi with rather sympathetic looks on their faces; willing to comfort their friend despite what had occurred so long ago. Smiling ever so briefly, the blonde turned to meet the Spirit once more; who had patiently waited through his pause.
(Abbadon believed that you needed to be punished for failing to stop Madara; which caused the near destruction of Earth itself. Due to the fact that Heaven is forbidden from interfering in the affairs of mortals, Azrael was not allowed to raise his hand against Madara like he wanted, something that infuriated him to no end.)
(When you alone were left alone on Earth after the utter destruction, his rage only grew when God denied him the justice he wanted when he sought you punished. My Lord saw you as a bright light in a dark world, and he hoped despite your failure you would bring balance to the planet that madman destroyed.)
Naruto paused for just a moment, truly awed at Faust's words. A Fallen Angel had a grudge against him for failing to stop Madara? The Creator of all Things, God, Kami HIMSELF saw him as a beacon of a hope to restore a destroyed world? He would've doubted such words from anyone else, but even in his time everyone knew Spirits never lied.
(Disobeying the words of our Lord and defying Heaven itself, Abbadon set out on a self-righteous mission to punish you for your failure. By the time I and many of Abbadon's fellow Seraphim reached you, he had already beaten to near death and placed upon you the Seal of Vengeance; a technique that only he as the Angel of Death had knowledge of.)
Naruto held up his hand to pause the Spirit, puzzling Faust at the first moment before an interjection could be asked. "Wait a minute, not to sound offensive or anything but you're just a Spirit, Faust. From what I vaguely remember about some of the religions of Hi no Kuni the Spirit World was a completely separate Plain of Existence from Tengoku or Naraka…so what you were doing in Heaven palling around with Seraphim and more prominently, Kami himself?"
(What you say is true; the Spirit World is a completely separate Plain of Existence from either Heaven or Hell. The reason God gave me leisure in Heaven was because he himself felt that since Heaven is so massive, he needed someone else as a fellow pair of eyes and ears to keep things in check. God may be all knowing, but even he needs help maintaining order in his own realm now and then; the fact that I am a Spirit only assists the matter since I quite literally have the time in the world.)
(The Seal of Vengeance as granted to Abbadon for becoming the Angel of Death, allows him to him eternally bind a foe through sheer malice alone; meaning to say as long as his hatred for the enslaved exists the seal will always remain as well. Before you ask, the reason you don't remember fighting Abbadon is because the seal only sends the enslaved into a coma; it'll erase their memory of said incident if were to ever escape it, a feat that Abbadon himself thought to be impossible.)
(However, Abbadon overlooked the wisdom of our Lord. He had thought the Seal of Vengeance was a permanent thing, while the Creator already had a countermeasure in place.)
(The countermeasure against the Seal of Vengeance required that a Spirit be bound to the enslaved body to keep it from fading away into nothingness; I volunteered to keep your form whole, in which I kept you constantly revitalized for thousands of years.)
(The Archangels had thought they had destroyed their corrupt brother, but their misjudgment paved the way for even greater future monstrosity. Azrael was not dead; though buried under ground far deeper than you, he had eventually evolved into something far darker.)
(Abbadon would become known in Heaven as Mephistopheles...the Lord of Sorrow. The Defiler, The Violator, The Oppressor, The Other, The Traitor…many such titles belonged to him soon after.)
Taking a brief moment to take all that Faust was taking in; Naruto couldn't help but sigh audibly at the Spirit's story. An Archangel, an Angel of Death no less named Azrael was apparently enraged with his failure to stop Madara, and wanted him punished for it is a result. God himself denied Azrael such vengeance, and even saw him as a beacon of light to help rebuild a devastated planet.
Azrael set off on his own in fury, beat him to a bloody pulp, and used a powerful Sealing technique to not only imprison him for what the Archangel thought would be forever; but even put a failsafe on the Seal if it truly did fail by erasing his memory of the encounter with the enraged Archangel as a result.
And, if that wasn't enough, Azrael's death apparently transformed into some kind of misbegotten abomination lying in wait deep in the Earth's crust; that apparently every Plain of Existence came to know as Mefisutoferesu or Mephistopheles, the Kanashimi no Omo, the Lord of Sorrow.
"Why would Azrael want to erase my memory of this encounter you've mentioned? Wouldn't he want me to remember the suffering he put me through before Sealing me?" Naruto asked inquisitively.
(Under any other circumstance yes, but his plan was to ensure if that if by some miracle you were to escape the Seal of Vengeance, he wanted a way to get the jump on you if you ever awoke. He wouldn't want you to remember the encounter specifically for the element of surprise so you'd be unprepared with facing him again, which is one of the reasons I'm here in the first place, to disrupt that part of his plan.)
(And before you ask, yes, he knows of your revival; part of the failsafe on the Seal of Vengeance allows him sense your presence if you ever woken. We don't know how or when Mephistopheles will emerge from the Earth to seek you out, we just know it's only a matter of time; and because of this God has asked of me to tell you to be prepared.)
(Among this warning, he has told to endow you with two gifts and tell you of one to come. The first is the condition of your damaged eye...advance towards me, Naruto.)
Gulping in a tone that hinted fear, Naruto began to take a step forward before feeling a hand on his shoulder. Gaara stood behind his friend and ally, a small smile crossing his face as to comfort his friend. While the Kazekage and his fellow Jinchuriki were as unsure as Naruto was about the Spirit's 'gist persay, he at least made it known that they were there for him should the worst occur. A very small smile crossed the blonde's lips, the smallest bit more confident than he was before.
As he turned to face Faust, he quickly found the Spirit was right in front of him after a small descent from above; which nearly made the blonde fall over in surprise. Suddenly an even paler arm suddenly extended itself from one the seemingly empty sleeves of Faust's cloak, sharing an almost bone-like skeletal complexion.
A singular bony touched Naruto's blind eye ever so slightly, to which Minato's son mustered all he could to not blink in response. A small white light filled his eye, to which was accompanied by a miniscule burning sensation to which Naruto audibly cursed upon feeling only to be quickly balanced by Kirabi and Han respectively.
After a moment or two of shaking his head in obvious pain, Naruto began to open his eyes once more as his limited vision returned to him…or so he thought. The darkness that accompanied his damaged eye had vanished; he could see the Spirit and his friends in full view now, the former of which let out a few audible gasps at seeing their newly reformed leader.
The viridian blindness had vanished completely, thought the large scar that had trailed from his face to his lower jaw was still prevalent, it seemed regularly miniscule in comparison to what had just been accomplished.
"Naruto-kun! Can you see again? That damaged eye of yours is no longer green, it's blue again!" Fu cheered happily, hugging her friend joyfully in an embrace that lead to the blonde's face being implanted face first in her breasts much to his embarrassment and enjoyment. After separating himself from Fu's…airbags, Naruto shook his head in a flustered manner struggling to fight off a nose blood much to Kirabi and Utakata's amusement.
"Thanks for that Faust, I didn't think I'd be ever be able to see in this eye ever again after Madara fucked up my face…speaking of which, couldn't you have done something about this scar while you were at it?" Naruto questioned in mock hurt.
(Your physical appearance is of no concern to me...besides, don't human females enjoy scars on their male counterparts?)
(That was a joke.)
"Right…what's the next gift anyway?"
(Activate your Rinnegan and you shall see.)
"Can't say I like the sound of that but okay."
As the violet textures of the Dojutsu engulfed the now both azure eyes, Faust floated backwards and extending two of his bony fingers, a duo of translucent silver lights emerged from the Spirit's fingers; slowly tracing to Naruto's face and going into his eyes like a worming snake. Surprisingly though the Sage blinked once, he didn't feel any true pain or agony like he did before. After a moment or two the blonde opened his mouth to comment on the experience, only to scream out in pain as he clutched his face in sheer agony.
His fellows tried to balance him as he shouted in pain, several of the Fire Nation soldiers took their offensive positions once more only for Han to shoot them all a mean-look which silenced any efforts at interfering. As Naruto's heavy panting began to die down, he struggled to open his eyes fully due to the ever lingering suffering. As the youth's eyes began to slowly open, he gazed at the Spirit in newfound anger.
"What the fuck was that for! That hurt like crazy!"
"My eyes haven't burned this badly since the Rinnegan was linked to your fellow Jinchuriki; tear him a new one Kit!"
(Hold your attack Naruto, you should look to your fellows and ask them what they see before you cast judgment so quickly.)
The Sage did as instructed and turned to his allies, whose facial expressions changed considerably upon gazing at their leader's eyes once again. Before anyone could properly describe the change to hi, Fu reached into one of her pockets and handed Naruto a small mirror; something the girl undoubtedly used to catch a quick glance at her own appearance in her past life. Taking the mirror in hand and holding it at a reasonable distance to himself, Naruto could only gape at the even more shocking change.
His eyes had changed yet again, but this time the change seemed much more drastic. The swirls of the Rinnegan remained, but their violet texture was gone; in their place lay a brilliant golden color instead reminiscent to his Perfect Sage Mode. The pupils of his now perfect vision also had changed from their Rinnegan appearance; they instead bore an incredible resemblance to that of the Perfect Sage Mode as well.
"What did you do to me Faust? I don't know what exactly you accomplished but whatever it is I feel even more powerful than I did before now." Naruto exclaimed in a somewhat excited manner, to which Kurama face palmed out how quickly his host's anger faded.
(Simple, I have merely combined your Sage Mode talents with the awakened Rinnegan you were granted; allowing you to utilize the full strength of both techniques at the same time. Sage Mode and the Rinnegan both utilize elements of Senjutsu; since they both rely on the same energies merging them is a relatively simple process for a spiritual being such as myself.)
(Not only can you utilize both the strengths of Sage Mode and the Rinnegan together; your restored eyesight will allow you far more access to such abilities rather than being only able to use one eye.)
"So in a nutshell you're telling me you've gifted me with some kind of hybrid Senjutsu Dojutsu?" Naruto exclaimed excitedly.
"…That is awesome!" The blonde yelled as he jumped in the air and pumped his fist; Roshi and Yugito were both quick to shake their heads in disbelief at his common over enthusiasm. Pausing for a very brief moment, Naruto gazed at the Spirit once more with a questioning look.
"Does this mean everyone else gets this ability as well? And what the hell is this third gift? Please tell me it's not gonna hurt as bad as what you just did." Naruto practically groaned, fearful of having the sensation of his eyes being dipped in lava once more.
(Your friends will not inherit this ability for a few reasons; I cannot combine your Sage Mode with them because they never trained to become a Sage like you did, and combining a trio of bloodline limits with one another; such a procedure is far too complicated for even a spiritual being. That and the Uchiha's Kekkei Genkai does not resonate with Senjutsu properties; thus it is incompatible to be fused with either the Rinnegan or Sage Mode.)
Sighing in a somewhat disappointed manner, Naruto kicked up a small bit of dust with his sandals. "Darn it…sorry guys, it would've been awesome if you guys coulda used your Rinnegan and Mangenkyo Sharingan abilities in combination with my Sage Mode. But I guess that's asking for too much now, isn't it?"
Yagura waved his hand in a lazy castoff manner, showing he wasn't at all hurt by what he or his friends wouldn't be able to do. "Please, things are already going to be weird enough around here as it is; I'd rather not have the situation get crazier than it already is."
"I agree with Yagura-san." Han muttered softly.
Pouting ever so slightly and crossing his arms in mock hurt, Naruto could only feign disappointment. "Sometimes you guys are no fun I swear."
(The third gift is most likely the one you'll value the most Naruto, though I will this gift will not be bestowed upon you today; it will be granted after this battle, regardless if you win or lose.)
"But you just said this would be the gift I'd value the most! Now you're waving it in front of my face saying it'll come later! Let me guess, you're not even gonna tell me what is, are you?" Naruto grumbled angrily.
"Tch sounds like a bit of a cocktease to me." Kirabi muttered of on the side, Yugito punching her friend lightly in the arm while giving reverent look of disapproval at his choice of words.
"Ow, I'm just sayin', geez!"
(God has told me granted you survive this fight, which he personally thinks you will; he'll allow me to give your third gift afterward as you'll have truly proved yourself worthy of continued survival and of this second chance that he granted ensured you with so long ago.)
"…So Kami himself is basically putting money down on the chances Naruto-san's survival as well us fellow Jinchuriki? Lovely, never thought life would make me it's personal punching bag." Utakata chuckled grimly, to which both Fu and Kirabi joined him in a resounding chuckle. The lightheartedness of Utakata's statement soon passed when the very air seem to thicken, presumably because of Faust.
(Watch your tongue Utakata, God deserves far more respect than your blatant nonchalance on a matter as important as this. You and your fellows only live because my Lord has demanded it; your continued existence was only made possible because of his direct interference.)
Huffing defiantly at the Spirit's retort, Faust could only shake his head at Utakata's seeming lack of gratitude and general respect. For so long humans had always put themselves above their Gods, their Creators and true Lords Among High…such a trait was prevalent even in the days of old; long before the time of Shinobi itself mankind always sought to step above its station. Uchiha Madara and the Hebi Sannin Orochimaru were prime examples of such callousness, though both had met their fates eventually through the blood, sweat and tears of those with enough morality and power to stop them.
(You should also know Naruto that my lord has sensed an unknown force that does not belong to Mephistopheles; it is not in league with him, that he knows for certain. Whatever he, she, or it is it's managing to cloak it's very identity from God himself...I've heard murmurs of discontent in Heaven; claiming that whatever this power is it's aura is similar to something or someone from your own time.)
"How is that possible? Anyone from the time of Shinobi should be long dead by now; excluding us of course due to your direct interference Faust." Roshi muttered on an offhand note, stroking his beard in contemplation.
"This doesn't seem like a mortally possible feat…perhaps this person has reached some manner of divinity." Han commented.
(My Lord has suspicions that this unfounded presence is of dark intent; a malevolent aura surrounds it similar to Mephistopheles.)
(Since the Creator does not know who or what this thing is; we have yet to accurately determine its motives. I humbly suggest you all be wary of any suspicious happenings that do not reassemble this world's current strengths in general. If any of the Seraphim or my Lord himself learn of this threat's true nature beforehand, we will contact you posthaste.)
(Since the Creator does not know who or what this thing is; we have yet to accurately determine its motives. I humbly suggest you all be wary of any suspicious happenings that do not reassemble this world's current strengths in general. If any of the Seraphim or my Lord himself learn of this threat's true nature beforehand, we will contact you posthaste.)
"Thanks for everything Faust, and get back to us when you know what exactly has surfaced from our time." Naruto exclaimed thankfully.
(Of course, I'd do nothing less.)
And with those words, the Spirit faded away almost instantly. Its opaque silvery visage vanished without a trace, not leaving one semblance behind of its existence. Turning to face his friends and fellow Jinchuriki, the nine quickly began debating what was the best course of action for each of them to take on the battlefield; specifically where each of their talents would be the most effective. Though Gaara felt slightly off put that he would not be fighting directly alongside his friends, he still stuck to his own recommendation about staying behind on the flagship as a tactical commander.
Before any true decisions could be made, the sound of footsteps was made apparently clear. All of the Biju hosts turned their heads to see a woman with a very vain look on her face walking towards them, her golden yet cruel eyes shining in the sun. Naruto held his hand to his followers to let know to temporarily stand their ground and wait to be addressed by this woman of obvious importance.
"Admiral Zhao and I witnessed the whole experience from his personal command deck, quite a show if I may so myself. We weren't able to hear much of your long-winded conversation mind you, but if I'm not mistaken that was the same Spirit that was present when I freed you from bindings, is it not? What did it want this time anyway? The Siege on the North is well about to commence, we don't have time to be drawn into spiritual matters." The royal girl practically snapped impatiently, having long awaited a truly glorious battle. Shaking his head ever so slightly, Naruto gave Azula a look of confidence and comfort.
"Worry not Azula-hime, Faust merely wanted to inform me of possible oncoming dangers and grant upon me a few noticeable gifts that will no doubt hasten our chances of victory in this assault; look upon me, does something seem at all different to you?" Naruto smirked mischievously.
Azula glanced at the boy intently, giving him a full look-over as to determine any differentiation. His physical appearance seemed largely the same, but it soon made itself clear that something was indeed different. His once blind eye that bore a pale green color to assert its failure to function now bore a resemblance to his normal eye, its functionality fully restored to its absolute prime.
"So…the Spirit has healed you? An interesting gift indeed, no doubt your returned vision will ensure that this operation goes even smoother than originally intended." Azula grinned wickedly.
Looking over the blonde's shoulder at his silent companions, she couldn't help but feel an aura of familiarity with all of them…something was strangely similar about them in comparison to Naruto himself. "Zhao and I saw these eight strangers literally pop out of nowhere in similar regards to the Spirit, but they did so a bit earlier. I can only assume they are your comrades, your friends; whatever you wish to address them as. Tell me Naruto, who exactly are these people? And do they possess talents similar to yours?"
"Indeed they do Azula-hime, as I told you when we first met I am the Jinchuriki of the Kyuubi no Kitsune; the host of the Nine Tailed Fox, Kurama. As mentioned previously Kurama was amongst the nine strongest animals in the world, the Biju, the Tailed Beasts themselves. The people you see before you were and still are my friends and comrades from my own time, and we all share the fact that we are all Jinchuriki; all hosts of the nine Biju themselves."
"They possess incredible powers and a truly admirable determination in battle; no matter who their opponents are, be they man or monster. Each one of them is a formidable force even without their Biju, but the fact that all of us are now truly united with our inner Demons and that we now fight as one yet again; I can assure you this battle is all but ours." The Sage proclaimed in a prideful gesture, extending his arms to each of his sides where four of each of the remaining eight Jinchuriki stood in place.
Azula cupped her chin in thought, which quickly turned into some kind of feral excitement. "You mean to tell me that you have essentially summoned eight more you's? All of whom possess talents unseen by this world for millennia's, and all of whom have inside them a Demon of great power similar to your own?"
Smiling in a matter that made Fu shiver in fright, Azula could only tighten her fists in excitement. If each one of these nine people would unleash their true powers upon this pathetic Tribe there would be no need for Zhao's fleet or for any fleet of that matter; nothing but true primal destruction would beseech those worthless peasants…oh how she could watch them burn.
"My friends allow me to introduce to you Azula-hime, Princess of the Fire Nation; which used to be our very own Hi no Kuni. Azula-hime, I'd like you to meet Gaara, Yugito Nii, Yagura, Roshi, Han, Utakata, Fu and last but least Kirabi; the containers of the eight other Biju besides myself of course. We will all do what we can to aid Zhao's fleet in this battle I assure you." Naruto stated in a somewhat restrained manner, still not completely comfortable with following Azula at all due to the fact that Hi no Kuni was now ruled by a Danzo-esque leader.
Utakata and Yagura begrudgingly stepped forward, almost disdainfully bowing to the royal woman while Han and Kirabi kowtowed on a much lighter note to the side. Gaara remained neutral and did not show any signs of true respect, only a mustering a slight nod of acceptance instead. The old Roshi only stroked his beard slowly in contemplation of Azula's character, while Yugito begrudgingly shook hands with the intimidating as Fu put on her brightest smile.
"How did you manage to convince Zhao to have his men abstain from any form of future assault on Faust or my friends during that entire exchange? I trust he was left quite aggravated as a result." Naruto chuckled somewhat loudly, earning the attention of his newly renewed friends.
"Zhao? Someone we should know about, I take it?" Roshi muttered on the side.
Azula ran her fingers through her hair softly, searching for the correct terms to properly address the Admiral by; though it took her a moment to find the exact words to describe him.
"Zhao is or rather was a Commander initially sent to capture the Avatar alongside my brother, whom I'm sure Naruto here has told you all about. While Zhao has managed to at least survive the campaign thus far, and that isn't much of a feat mind you all considering the Avatar has the mentality of a child; my pathetic older brother Zuko apparently was killed off by a mangy, slovenly group of pirates."
"While Zuko's death was in the least so demeaning it was worthy of his disgrace Zhao on the other hand has failed my father Fire Lord Ozai, ruler of the Fire Nation, on too many instances worth mentioning. He apparently more or less begged for this position as Admiral, to which my father granted him when he practically pleaded for one last chance to prove himself worthy of the Fire Nation; pathetically droll I know, but apparently my father is willing to overlook his callousness for the time being. If he does fail however, I have no doubt my father will have him executed for botching such a major operation against the Water Tribe and of course the Avatar's being himself."
"As you all have been most likely informed of how Naruto and I crossed paths, you're all well aware that I have freed him for that underground prison that I deviated from my objective to find. Simply put, whether or not you any of you are actually from the Fire Nation of old are not; you are only here today because I freed Naruto, who I can assume in turn freed you all, thus, I am the one more-or-less responsible for all of your continued existences."
After a long-winded speech, the swirling violet and crimson eyes of Naruto's fellow Jinchuriki couldn't help but narrow; even Fu, the usually happy-go-lucky one of them all seemed a bit miffed. Such haughty, prideful arrogant demeanor…truly she was a daughter raised by a tyrant; in a way she could not be blamed for such behavior, a good majority of it most likely stemmed from the way she was brought up itself.
Then again the argument could be made that she had been introduced to different forms of kindness, and simply had not bothered to heed them. Regardless, it was made very clear that a certain vainness was present in her personality.
"I hope you realize that we only follow Naruto-san, not you…you may be the reason for his freedom and by that extension or freedom, but do not think this allows you to hold such a burden over our heads." Roshi adamantly stated a gruff sternness evident in his voice.
Narrowing her eyes with a renewed fierceness, Azula couldn't help but glare at the old man. "Please, more elderly pish-posh...do not bore me with such honorific sentiments old man, lest you remind me of Iroh; who I detest to say is related to me by my very blood."
"You should head Roshi-san's advice Azula-hime…he has seen many more years than you in his past life than you have yet to walk the Earth I'd imagine." Han muttered softly.
"And a good portion of that 'life' you claim of was most likely spent inactive underground, am I correct? While he is not as old my Uncle, he certainly bares that sense of elderly self-entitlement to waves above younger generations…" Azula rolled her eyes mockingly, earning an intensified glare from Yugito.
What a hypocrite…
She's kind of a bully…I don't like bullies.
THIS is who we're expected to follow? I know Naruto said he, and by that extension we, are being blackmailed into this battle but this seems disgustingly dishonorable.
Bitch is trippin' if she thinks we all gonna fall in line like this!
Such were the sentiments of Naruto's friends, to which he muffled a chuckle upon hearing Kirabi's thoughts last as Azula raised an eyebrow in slight suspicion. Putting on his best poker face, the Sage looked at the Princess with newfound adamancy.
"With all due respect Azula-hime, my friends owe you nothing. Sure, ya freed me and if you want to take things outta context you could say ya freed them as well, but when all's said and done I'm the one who brought em all back, not you." Naruto declared defiantly, a small glare creeping across the face of the fiery maiden in the process.
"Are you sure you wish to address me as so lightly Naruto? Last time you did so you ended up sleeping in a closet, you'd think you would've learned your lesson by now…" Azula trailed off mockingly, earning an infuriated glare from Fu.
"I do what I must Azula-hime, certain things must be said; no matter the cost." Naruto remarked casually.
"You're either very brave or very foolish…perhaps a bit of both. Anyway, I assume your friends will be participating in this battle as well? You'd have no other reason to bring them back otherwise." Azula chuckled casually, earning a fair share of looks of disapproval.
Fu stepped forward calmly, hanging over Naruto's shoulder like a backpack. "Well gee, maybe he just wanted to see us again, ya know? We're his pals, not just his tools to be used leisurely."
"Heaven forbid we be anything else but weapons." Yagura stated sarcastically.
Ignoring the rather impudent behavior of Naruto's so-called comrades, Naruto stared at the blonde for a moment in thought while trying to ignore the girl with the mint hair draped over his back.
"I assume you've already formulated some strategies for each one of your friends Naruto? And how much power do you and your friends intend on using? While the utter destruction of this Tribe would no doubt be a glorious show of strength, the Fire Nation tends to have its captured landmarks in one piece and not scattered across an arctic ocean as unsalvageable pieces of debris."
"Gaara-san would like to stay onboard this vessel as a tactical commander; he was an expert strategist and military leader in the Shinobi Age, and he has not lost any of his skills in said areas even now. Not only that but his powers would be rather ineffective against the Water Benders in this aquatic frigid landscape, he even said so himself."
"Kirabi, Utakata and I will take up the forward offensive and meet any coming invaders head-on; we won't be attacking the Tribe directly however, our job is to act as a standstill to repel any attacks on the vessels that will lead the siege. We will only directly infiltrate the Tribe itself when your soldiers have broken through their defenses."
"Yugito and Roshi will have the left flank while Yagura and Fu take on the right, all four of them will merge together on the Tribe when the defenses are finally broken. Thus eight out of nine of us will lead the main offensive force on Arnook's battalions directly as soon as Zhao's men set foot upon the Tribe itself as mentioned beforehand; when that time comes, we will not unleash all of our power persay, but enough to defeat them at best."
As Naruto ended his military tirade speech, Azula couldn't help but show a look of both disapproval and disappointment; something Naruto had expected. He knew the dramatically prideful Princess would no doubt seek true violence upon the Tribe, and would demand no quarter of bloodshed to be censored from the attack. She had known previously when she had struck a deal with Naruto that no civilian encampments be targeted; something that had enraged Zhao significantly and had off put her wanton need for destruction as well.
"So you and your followers will not be showing the true extents of your power? Disappointing, but necessary I guess; well I'd revel in the chance to see what you are truly capable of Naruto, I understand why you'd have to tone yourself done for these pathetic ingrates." Azula stated in an almost lustful, dangerous manner; the thoughts of what this man could truly do with all his power truly intrigued her, not matter how much she wanted to deny it.
She didn't love him persay, it wasn't that deep of a connection…as she herself believed such an emotion was impossible for her to feel. But this ever-growing want to truly revel in his power tempted her, though Azula was thoroughly determined not to show such feelings.
"But let me get this straight…you and your friends won't attack the Tribe directly until Zhao's soldiers break the foothold? Why is that? Couldn't you easily accomplish such a feat by yourselves?" The Princess asked inquisitively.
"In theory yes we could, but my companions and I feel the need to see the strength of our current homeland before actually entering the battle ourselves. Think of it as a trust fall exercise Azula-hime, we need to see how strong our Nation's will is before just putting our lives on the line for them again. It's not a matter that we're honor bound to protect Hi no Kuni; we just need to see if they're still worth protecting." Naruto smirked mischievously.
"So what you're basically saying is that both you and your followers feel that a show of your future homeland's strength is necessary before you yourselves take action?" Azula questioned.
Rolling his shoulders casually, the blonde smirked in response. "More or less, yeah." Much to his displeasure, what he predicted the Princess's response would be wasn't far off from what would actually occur.
"Isn't that detrimental to our cause in general? I fear that ever since that damnable reconnaissance mission of yours your faith and loyalty in our Nation has been severely dampened." Azula remarked almost spitefully.
"Dampened no, misplaced, perhaps." Naruto chuckled grimly, a set of glaring golden eyes burned into his soul soon after. He would not be deterred however, no matter who his opponent would be; royalty or not.
A silence fell over the large group, a sense of animosity ever present. It was clear to Azula now more than ever that Naruto, even while being a hero to her Nation in days no longer recorded by history; would not be ordered around like a common foot soldier. He had willpower; he had a spine…all things that the common trooper lacked in her own eyes. Though such things would usually be valued in a strong ally, one who would display his or her own intent so freely without fear of consequence could be deemed as either potentially treasonous or dangerous in their own right.
She knew as long as she held the burden of war over his head, he would enter the battle on special terms that would ensure the downplay of slaughter; it was regrettable that the true glory of war couldn't be granted to her Nation in any battle Naruto partook in, but it would ensure his loyalty in the least. Perhaps when this battle passed as well she would continue to employ the same tactic; though Azula herself pondered for how long such blackmail would actually work. If Naruto's true power was enough to devastate mountains like Faust had claimed, if he were truly turned hostile than such animosity between him and the Fire Nation could prove disastrous.
"You spoke with Zhao about the marked military encampments I take it? He knows that the civilian populace is off limits to bombardment?" Naruto asked softly, in an attempt to clear the tension.
"He knows yes, he initially tried to voice his immediate disapproval of said strategy but he knew better than to question his Lord's daughter. The battle will carry on as you and I have agreed upon, though I can say without a doubt in my mind that Zhao most likely despises you right now Naruto." Azula chuckled casually, earning the ire of Naruto's companions.
"He can hate me for this all he wants, in all due honesty I couldn't care less about him to begin with; he's a very bitter, contempt man." The Sage grumbled, relating the Admiral to be the exact opposite of the long passed Sandaime Hokage.
Rolling her eyes casually, and turning her attention to Gaara. She signaled for the redhead to follow her, which he complied with after a moment of hesitation only to be given the go ahead by Naruto. "I'll introduce your friend to Zhao and tell him of his role to come, I can't say he'll be any more pleased than he already his, but it's a sacrifice he'll have to live with. Though keep in mind just because Gaara's tactics may be brilliant, I cannot ensure that Zhao will heed them."
"I can be very persuasive." Gaara rasped almost dangerously, earning a smirk from Azula.
"You're a bit passionate aren't you? We might get along fabulously." The prideful Princess haughtily stated as she and the Jinchuriki of Shukaku began to walk off toward a nearby metal door.
Gaara only turned his halfway to look back once, a look of discomfort evident on his face. He didn't particularly enjoy the fact that he was being dragged along by a woman as arrogant as this Princess, even more so that he detested being away from his fellow brothers and sisters in the heat of battle. His weakness was exploitable here and he full well knew it, but that didn't make him feel any more comforted with his tactical role whatsoever.
After Azula and Gaara disappeared from sight completely through the metallic entrance, many glances of disapproval were shot at Naruto by his fellows. Scratching the back of his head lightly in a sense of nervousness, a small bonk on the headed greeted him via Fu's fist.
"Oooowww! What was that for!" Naruto whined childishly, before quickly being put in a headlock by Fu's slender arms.
"Naruto-kun, what are we going to do with you? You always get yourself into big messes like this! Can't you think first and then jump after?" Fu groaned girlishly, clinging onto Naruto's back obsessively like an infantile Koala bear while fishing through his extensively long golden hair looking to entertain herself.
"Not to mention the first person you've met Naruto-san turns out to be a rather ignorant Princess whose father has employed genocide and terror into the hearts of the people of this world; a similar strategy to Madara's no doubt." Han added in as reserved as ever.
Yugito stepped forward, brushing herself off calmly. "And then there's the fact that she's essentially blackmailing you to partake in this battle; which now the same said tactics are being applied to all of us as well."
"I don't trust this Azula woman, the pride and vanity she displays no doubt stems from her upbringing; and considering her father is apparently a tyrant that makes this whole scenario all the more troublesome." Utakata remarked while taking a puff of his pipe.
"I agree with Utakata-san, we shouldn't be serving this woman at all. Regardless whether or not her father is the Daimyo of Hi no Kuni, this Fire Lord Ozai is disgracing the legacy of Konoha's Hi no Ishi and the good name of our old homeland in general. If anything, perhaps we should be fighting with this 'Avatar' despite his naivety on how the world works." Yagura hissed almost angrily, a worried look from Fu sympathized with his feelings.
Naruto sighed heavily, fully well guessing his friends would not approve of the current situation. Under any other circumstance in his past life, he most likely would've voiced the same feelings; but things were different now. The black and white good and evils he had grown up had turned to shades of gray, shades that weren't too easy to distinguish on their true intents.
On one side his old homeland had turned into what threatened in the very first place, enforced rule through tyranny and fear; the democratization of overzealous pride and callous ambitions that reeked with ignorance. And on the differing side there was a boy whose true character did not support his chronological age, a child's mindset thrown into the middle of a war; which consisted of innocent naivety, lack of discipline, self-entitled heroism, pointless altruism and a general fear of reality that would damn him and those who followed him to failure. There was also the fact that this supposed Messiah fled from the world over one hundred years ago out of personal fear, which ultimately lead to a century of dictatorship and suffering.
In a way both sides were to blame however, not only through the actions of the Fire Lords and the Avatars, but of the people who sided with each claim of righteousness. The people of the current Hi no Kuni were apparently comfortable with the self-righteous reign of Ozai, and had made no attempts to stand against his goal over ruling the existing Four Nations like a God; nor had they made any effort to even speak their possible discomforts against him.
The same could be said for those who continued to believe in and support the Avatar legacy as well; the apparent mutual feeling of the three other Nations was that without the Avatar the Fire Lord could never be vanquished, and as a result a complete rebellion was just a fleeting dream on the farthest corners of everyone's mind. There were Freedom Fighters here and there of course as to be expected, but without an icon to believe in; such struggle was incompetent and doomed to failure.
"Apathy." Naruto stated softly, earning the ears of his seven friends.
"Come again?" Yagura remarked.
"The people of this time have grown so complacent with putting all their faith in a child and kowtowing to a tyrant, without their savior they feel that they have no chance to break free of these chains imposed on them. What these people fail to realize is that they have the power to stand up against dictatorship without an Avatar; they have lost faith in their own strength. They need to be told and shown that they can stand up on their own two feet without an Avatar, they have grown apathetic in their need for an icon."
"Without an Avatar they feel there is no need to even try to rebel, as such a struggle would be useless under any other circumstance. Apathy is the emotion of choosing to do nothing, in itself it is worse than death; at least in death choosing to do nothing is an inevitability due to the fact you no longer function, while you're alive you have the CHOICE to stand up, and yet they do not. Their complacency for taking this abuse is a mistake; someone needs to show them that can stand up past this nonsense."
"Apathy is death."
A long moment of silence fell over the group; Naruto's fellow seven friends all bore bright smiles on their faces. Kirabi looked to be on the verge of laughing, a nostalgic sense of remembrance washing over him from the time he spent with the son of Minato in the past. His willpower still burned as strongly as it did thousands of years ago, not one speck of ambition our valor had faded in the least. Fu gave a resounding 'woohoo' of approval; much to Naruto and Kirabi's amusement.
"From the way you phrase it seems like you want to oppose Hi no Kuni's current government in general Naruto-san, what is your long term plan exactly? You said you'd do what's necessary if you can't persuade Azula-hime to see the error of her father's ways of ruling and join our side, so what do you have in mind?" Roshi questioned as he stroked his crimson beard.
"Well we obviously can't just ditch this battle now due to Azula-hime's rather callous but effective blackmail strategy, so we participate in this battle despite whatever outcome there may be. Zhao's already been told to make sure none of the fleet's firepower is directed towards the civilian encampments so we won't be party to a slaughter, and I've already granted all of you the mental images of those to avoid killing."
"After this battle is done with I'd recommend that all of us stick around in Azula's company for a bit longer and try to get her to see the flaws of her father's rule, and if after a week or so she doesn't change her mind we should go our separate ways and seek to change this world on our own terms." Naruto concluded adamantly, a smile adorning his face similar to his father's.
"I can't imagine Azula will just 'let us go', my guess is she doesn't take rejection well." Yagura commented in rather slyly, earning a nod of agreement from both Fu and Han.
"I rather not make an enemy of Azula directly but if she says she won't let us go we'll just have to fight our way out; as I said I'd rather avoid that course of action but if it's the only possible outcome then we'll just have to do what we have to." The blonde responded rather calmly.
Rolling his fingers through his hair, Kirabi took a rather large step forward; adamant on asking a few questions of his own. "And where exactly would we go after splittin' from Azula's company? Quite frankly we don't really have many friends in high places nowadays, gainin' support and trust is gonna be a pain in the ass considerin' how off we all look in comparison to the people of today's world I'd say."
"I have no doubt that'll be a challenging feat within itself B-san, however we must try regardless. Perhaps when I bring back my beloveds we can restore the status from each of their respective Clans, thus gaining political power will no doubt help us gain influence in the future." The blonde retorted adamantly.
Fu brought her index finger to her lip in thought, snapping her fingers upon realization. "But all of the clans of the women you were supposed to marry are all long since gone, just like all the knowledge of the Shinobi Age in general."
"True, I had thought of that earlier on, we'll just have to officially reestablish the credibility of each Clan one by one, all in due time of course. I'm not saying it'll be an easy feat nor will it be one that can be accomplished easily, but it's our best shot in dealing with future matters." Naruto said.
"Besides, the Gedo Rinne Tensei Technique will be an invaluable method of bringing back my loved ones in the hopefully not too distant future; I can only pray they know of the necessary steps to regain their Clans political power once I explain the situation to them." The Sage stated somewhat grimly.
A loud shrilling noise made its way out of nearby speaker's approximately three floors up from Naruto's group, the high pitched ring made many of the nearby present foot soldiers caps their helmets in pain; to which Naruto and his friends repeated the same notion. To say the sound was mildly unpleasant was an understatement, it felt as though as if the claws of a feline were being scraped against a blackboard; and said blackboard represented everyone's eardrums.
"Attention all units! This is Fleet Admiral Zhao speaking! Standing next to me is the daughter of our Fire Lord Ozai himself, her Royal Highness, Princess Azula! She and her companions have come here today to partake in what is to be a great victory for the Fire Nation! Today, we defeat the Northern Water Tribe at long last! This battle is a great stepping stone in a war waged for far too long!"
"…Per special request by her Highness only the military standpoints of the Northern Water Tribe may be targeted! Direct all firepower at offensive and strategic outposts! Avoid directing any offensive maneuvers against any non-militant adversary! This may seem an unusual strategy, but I have been told that we must preserve our strength for the real threats at hand! We must not waste our power on petty fools and meaningless peasants!"
"Amongst that Tribe of cowards and savages lies the one being that they have held in such high stature for so long! The one being that deserted this world more than one hundred years ago at the very dawn of our great Nation brought on by the great Fire Lord Sozin himself! At the heart of their Tribe not only lies the Chieftain, but the Avatar himself!"
"Destroy him! Destroy the last remaining legacy of that pitiful Order!"
Rudimentary and expected cries of ferocity and valor rocketed from the nearby ships, a vocal tidal wave of arrogant pride and an astonishing need for bloodshed. Naruto could only shake his head at the misdirection of their beck and call…such blind, callous loyalty should be considered sinful to those who heed the allure of war.
Soon after a silence hushed over the gaping maw of the ships, their steel mouths silent; awaiting the next call of their Fleet Admiral.
"For Fire Lord Ozai! For the Fire Nation!"
*Snaps back to reality once more.*
God I've got to stop doing that.
Alright…a few words first.
This Chapter…this F***ING CHAPTER…
…This took me WAY longer and took WAY more effort than I originally had planned.
The writer's block I suffered writing this was terrible, the four day hiatus I had to suffer through due to a virus inhabiting my computer also took a lot of motivation out of me trying to get the damn thing fixed.
And boy do I know that at least someone out there is gonna flame this for not being the start of the Siege of the North Part 1, I already explained myself in the beginning for thinking this was way too long a Chapter to include a whole nother Chapter's worth of material but someone is bound to burn my ass for this decision.
I can truly say though, without ANY doubt in mind, that Chapter VII will be this story's first part of the Siege of the North.
I know I've made that claim before in the Chapter before this one, but this time I literally have everything I want to have out of the way for the SOTN Chapters.
Also, I'm almost completely positive that a good handful of people are gonna flat out flame the fact about the plot involving Naruto's imprisonment, along with the story's original villain, Azrael/Mephistopheles.
Some are gonna say that it just doesn't fit in with the Avatar Universe, other's will say they just want the story to continue through the ATLA Plotline without anything original thrown in the mix like this. Others will say this is a last minute decision within itself and I'm losing focus on the real story while trying to pave the way for something bigger.
Let me alleviate all of those fears right now.
One, I will NOT be deviating from the ATLA storyline; the Seasons shall play out as they did before, the only thing that'll change about them is obviously Naruto's involvement and what he can change from said events. Azrael/Mephistopheles will not change the ATLA plotline, he doesn't care about the world's current events; he only cares that Naruto has been awakened from his imprisonment.
Two, if some people say that this is just a last minute decision in an attempt to be original, it's NOT; I had this planned from the beginning. I wanted to mix Naruto's plotline, the ATLA plotline, and a original backstory all at once; it's quite a feat mind you, but I'm confident I can do it considering I know the cards I'm placing on the table. I have no doubt some people will stop reading he story and leave a flame before exiting stage left, and their entitled to do what they want, I can't stop.
Regardless of what anyone thinks of the tale, I'll continue on without pause.
With the reveal of Azrael/Mephistopheles, this narrows down two of the main three villains of the entire story. Azrael/Mephistopheles obviously represents the OC Villain and Fire Lord Ozai obviously represents the ATLA Villain. The Naruto Villain has been mentioned by Faust but his (it's a he) name and nature have not yet been revealed; who this shady character is will be largely hinted at in one of the two future Chapters dealing with the SOTN.
In the meantime, I'm going to be taking a small break from this story for a little bit. A two week vacation oughta do it to get back my writing spirit and give myself a well earned break. I gotta catch up on getting gear for SWTOR Character anyway, and since I just cleared the new Dawnguard DLC for Skyrim I'm good when it comes to Tamriel for the moment.
Also been playing Mass Effect 3 as of late, what with the Extended Cut Ending DLC out now and all. Kinda surprised though, the endings don't suck nearly as much balls as they did originally. I'm still not convinced though that the same team that did ME1 from ME2 to the majority of ME3 wrote the ending for the last game of the Trilogy…it just seems way too far off to be the same writing staff.
Anyway, I'll start writing again in two weeks tops; by then I should have Chapter VII up in a week and a half due to the fact my computer is back to normal.
This isn't even a hiatus, so don't get worried people; just catching a little R&R.
Quite a lot people are gettin' invested in this tale…sure as hell not gonna let you guys down now.
With fans like you guys, the show will always go on.
See ya in a bit!