Disclaimer: I own neither Naruto, not Bleach

I know this chapter may be like 'The Burdened Deathcake' by Naruto6023, but it's different from his story, I promise. Instead, it features Naruto as the main protagonist from both Bleach and Naruto, with no Ichigo at all

Chapter 1: Meeting with Death and Dead

A fourteen-year-old blond haired boy walked through the streets of Konoha, his orange outfit blending against the reddish-yellow setting sun.

He walked unmindful of the glares and whispers directed to his form as he passed. Having received that treatment for as long as he could remember, Naruto was used to it by now. Plus, it's not like everyone dislike him.

The ninja with dogs seemed to generally like him, and many ninja and a few civilians were somewhat fond of him, or at least his pranks. And then, there were the ghosts.

Naruto had been able to see them as long as he could remember. At first, he thought them to be regular people with chains hanging on them. That, until an aged, retired shinobi explained to a six-year-old Naruto that he had died. Realizing that he was the only one who could see the people with chains, while others would only phase trough them, Naruto realized they were all ghosts.

At first, the blonde had been scared shitless by the fact that he could see dead people, but seeing as most of them were friendly, or at least warmed up to him when they realized that he was the only source of company they could have in their current state.

Most of them disappeared after some time, to the afterlife, the same aged shinobi suggested once, few weeks before he too disappeared. That had been a real shame, in Naruto's opinion. They had been friends for at least two years before that. Later, visiting his grave, Naruto learned that he was Mugen Himura, a shinobi old as the Hokage who once was Konoha's best swordsman

He rather liked old man Mugen and their conversations. He had even helped Naruto with some problems he had on the academy, offering advice and his teaching a little of his own training methods and sword style. Naruto owned a lot to old man Mugen, and always visited his grave as form of respect.

'Man, I wish old man Mugen was here. I could use some advice for the graduation exam tomorrow. Damn bunshin…'Snapping out of his thoughts, he realized he had arrived at his destination.

"Oi, old man Teuchi, Ayame! I hope you got some ramen," The blond loudly declared, entering the small ramen stand

The next day

"I'm sorry Naruto, but you fail" Iruka informed the blonde genin hopeful

"Can't we pass him Iruka? He did well on the taijutsu part, and the other two techniques, plus he's got a nice kenjutsu" Mizuki intervened, trying to convince his friend "And he even managed to create a bunshin…somewhat," He added, looking at the dead-like copy of Naruto that he had summoned.

"You know we can't, Mizuki," The scarred chunnin told his friend "I'm really sorry Naruto"

'Perfect' Thought Mizuki, seeing the dejected look on Naruto's face as the blonde walked way.

Naruto sat on a swing, watching as parents came to pick up their children, congratulating them for passing and suggesting celebrations. As if it wasn't enough he had failed, he had to watch as others enjoyed something he would never have.

To add even more salt to injury, he had to listen to the comment's the parent's made about him.

"There he is, the despicable little…"

"The only one who didn't graduate."

"I can't believe they would let it attend the academy in the first place"

"You know what he is"

"Shhh, be quiet!"

Soon the blonde got fed up with all that, and turned around to leave the academy grounds, but someone appeared in front of him.

"Oh, hi Naruto, I was just looking for you. Can we talk?" Mizuki asked, smiling at the blonde

Forest Clearing, that night

"Hmm, let's see…Kage Bunshin, bunshin? No way! Mokuton: Moku Bunshin, GAH! Another bunshin!" Naruto muttered as he read the Forbidden Scroll of Konoha "Hmm… Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu, hey, old man Mugen's techniques!"

Sometime later, Naruto panted as he just finished perfecting the techniques was training. He was about to go looking for Mizuki, as the chunnin instructor still hadn't arrived, when a familiar figured jumped from the trees

"NARUTO, THERE YOU ARE!" Iruka shouted, pointing his finger accusingly at the blonde

"Oh, hey their Iruka-sensei" Naruto waved at the chunnin "Are you here in Mizuki's place for the makeup exam?"

"Say what now?" Before Naruto could answer, the familiar voice of Mizuki

"Heh heh, I knew you'd find him first, Iruka" Mizuki said, hopping off a tree, a pair of large shuriken on his back

"Mizuki-sensei? What's going on?" Naruto demanded, holding the Forbidden Scroll behind his back

"Hey, Naruto, why don't you give me the scroll" Mizuki said, trying to sound friendly

"No, Naruto, don't give him the scroll! He's lying to you, there is no makeup test"

"I'm lying to him, am I?" Mizuki asked Iruka, sarcasm evident on his voice "Hey, Naruto, do you know why everyone in the village hate's you?"

"No Mizuki! You can't! It's forbidden!"

"You see Naruto, when you were born, a law was put into effect" Mizuki explained, ignoring Iruka's protest.

"What law, what law are you talking about?" The blonde asked

"It forbids anyone from telling you and the younger generation what really happened to the Kyuubi when it attacked. You see the Yondaime didn't kill the beast; instead he sealed it away into a newborn, and that newborn is you Naruto!" Mizuki shouted the last part "You are the demon that attacked Konoha and killed Iruka's parents!"

Naruto was frozen in shock. He was the nine tailed fox, the Kyuubi. The one that almost destroyed Konoha and killed not only his sensei's parents, but many of the spirits he had seen. He was a monster.

"Now, die Kyuubi!" Mizuki screamed, before hurling a shuriken at Naruto

Had Naruto been in his regular state of mind, he would have dodged, blocked or at least raised his arms to defend himself form the flying metal star, but in his shocked state, he didn't flinch as the shuriken approached him

The squelching sound of flesh being pierced snapped Naruto out of his thoughts. Looking up, he saw Iruka, standing in front of him, the shuriken buried into his torso.

"Naruto! Take the scroll and run!" Iruka shouted

The blonde looked at Mizuki, then the Forbidden Scroll, and then at Iruka, before jumping in the trees.

"Such a shame you did that, Iruka" Mizuki stated, shaking his head "I'd even let you leave, but you had to be a hero and save the monster"

"S-shut up!" Iruka told Mizuki "Naruto is not a monster!"

"HA! Are you hallucinating from blood loss?" Mizuki asked rhetorically "He's the fox that killed your parents Iruka! He will now probably destroy Konoha with the Scroll! That's what demons do"

"Your right, that's what a demon would do" Iruka said. Unseen to the two chunnin, Naruto was actually listening from behind a tree. Hearing that his precious sensei thought of him as a demon, like the villagers, brought tears to Naruto's eyes.

"But Naruto's not a demon, is he?" Iruka asked "He may be devious with his pranks…but he's not the fox demon! He's Naruto Uzumaki, my student and future Hokage!"

Hearing that, Mizuki erupted in laughter "You lost your fucking mind Iruka! I'll just kill you and save you the pain!"

As Mizuki moved his hand to the shuriken on his back, an orange blur jumped between him and Iruka.

"HAHAHA Now that the demon's here! It saves me the trouble of looking for you!" The chunnin said, before he launched the shuriken at Naruto

With a speed neither chunnin had ever seen from him before, Naruto unsheathed his blade, and sliced the shuriken in two.

"Shut up! If you lay a hand on my sensei ever again, I'll kill you!"

"You are just a genin! I'm an elite chunnin; you'll never even touch me!"

"In that case then, pay attention Mizuki. I'll show you the technique I learned from the scroll today" Naruto said, sheathing his katana.

"Oh yeah? Then c'mon demon!" The silver haired chunnin taunted

"Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu: Sōryūsen!" Naruto called out, before he simply disappeared, reappearing a second later in front of Mizuki, his blade already out of the scabbard and moving to strike the chunnin. The strike to his torso came to fast Mizuki didn't even have time to react as the blade cut horizontally across his chest.

Mizuki screamed in pain as the second strike came, this time from the blade's scabbard, which Naruto swung as a blunt force weapon following the sword slash.

"Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu: Ryūsōsen" Naruto called, before he unleashed a flurry of strikes. The sheer speed of the slashes was so great that Iruka couldn't even see the strikes, only the wounds that were left behind from the slashes to his former friend's body.

On the sidelines, Iruka watched dumbfounded as his favorite student just executed two techniques from Mugen Himura, the famous Manslayer of Konoha, with mastery he had never seen before.

"Hey, Naruto, come over here for a minute" Iruka called the blonde, who had already sheathed his blade and was staring at the fallen Mizuki, who had collapsed from blood loss and pain.

Naruto walked to his injured sensei "Ok, close your eyes Naruto" The blond was confused for a second, before closing his eyes.

The blonde felt his goggles sliding off his forehead, before a cloth was put in the same place "Ok, you can open your eyes now" Doing as he was told, Naruto opened his eyes, to see Iruka smiling, holding his goggles. Realizing that Iruka wasn't wearing his headband, Naruto's fingers went for his forehead, trailing the spiral symbol of the Leaf Village engraved on the metal plate that now rested on the cloth on his forehead.

"Does this mean?"

"Yes Naruto. You're now a genin of Konohagakure no Sato!" The chunnin proclaimed proudly.

It was then that four masked shinobi appeared in the clearing "Iruka-san, what's going on?" The one with an eagle mask asked.

"Mizuki tricked Naruto into stealing the scroll, take him away, Naruto and I will take the Scroll back to Hokage-sama" The ANBU nodded, and disappeared with Mizuki's body

Hokage Monument

The moon shined brightly over the Hokage Monument, illuminating the village

Suddenly, the air itself began to waver and distort, creating some sort of disturbance.

A second later, a bright, irregular rift began to open, until it became the size of a doorway.

From inside the rift, a figure dressed in black stepped out, the strange portal closing behind her. For the figure was definitely a she, and a very beautiful one. She had long wavy blond hair, blue eyes, full lips and a beauty mark on the right side of her mouth. Her face was heart shaped, her bust ample and her figure curvaceous. All in all, she was what most women aspired to be

Her clothes, however, didn't seem to complement her beauty. She wore black robes, hanging loose in order to show her ample bosom, along with a pink scarf. Her white sash had a strange armband on it.

"Un, so this is Konohagakure?" The blonde asked herself "It's beautiful here" She muttered to herself, before yawning.

"I guess I'll find a place to sleep, and tomorrow I can begin my job" She concluded, stretching her arms and yawning once more, before disappearing, the settling dust on the Nidaime's head being the only indication she was ever there

Hokage's office

Naruto and Iruka had gone to the Hokage, returning the scroll and explaining what had transpired. After that, Sarutobi reassured Naruto he was not a demon after explained some of the sealing ritual the Yondaime used.

"Iruka, did Mizuki say anything that may imply why he wanted the forbidden scroll?" The Hokage asked the two ninja in front of him.

"No, Hokage-sama" Iruka replied, shocking his head.

"I see…now, I have some questions for you, Naruto" Sarutobi said, focusing on the blonde "In your confrontation with Mizuki, you used not one, but two sword techniques from the legendary Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu, a style which was last used by, Mugen Himura, who died some years ago" The Hokage began "So how can you not only manage to learn two techniques, but be able to use one just after the other, without any strain on your body?"

"I trained a lot! Not only Kenjutsu, but Battōjutsu too!" Naruto replied with a grin, knowing the Hokage would never believe him if he said that the ghost of Mugen had taught him the basics.

"And what led you to learn those skills from all the jutsus inside the scroll, Naruto?" He asked "And how many did you learn?"

"There were a lot of bunshin techniques, and they suck! So I saw a sword technique and tried it," Naruto explained, "I learned four. Two techniques and a variation of each technique"

The Hokage nodded, seemingly satisfied with the answers given to him by the blonde 'Naruto is hiding something, but what, and more importantly, why?'

"Iruka, you can go now, I would like to speak with Naruto alone" The chunnin hesitate, before nodding and leaving.

"Naruto, I want to say I'm sorry for not telling you about the Kyuubi, but I wanted you to have a normal childhood" The aged shinobi began "I know it didn't work very well, but I hope you understand and can forgive a foolish old man for his mistake"

Without a second of hesitation, the blonde nodded "It's okay Gramps, I guess I understand why you didn't tell me, but… were you ever going to tell me?"

"Of course Naruto, when you got older I would have told you" Sarutobi answered.

"Okay then…can I go now?" Instead of answering, the Hokage got up and walked over to the Forbidden Scroll.

"Not yet Naruto. I don't know which techniques you learned from the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu, but I think it would be best if you learned them all" The Hokage said "Consider it a gift for stopping Mizuki" The Hokage unsealed a scroll from the Forbidden Scroll. It was red with the kanji for 'Hiten Mitsurugi' on it "Here you go" The aged Kage said, handing the scroll to Naruto.

As he walked back home, Naruto mentally went over all that had happened. First, he had graduate, finally he was a ninja of Konoha! One step closer to becoming Hokage! Second, he had learned the kenjutsu techniques from old man Mugen, and managed to successfully defeat an opponent using them

Looking up to the moon, he thought 'See that, old man? I told you one day I'd learn the Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu!' As if the deceased shinobi could hear him, a small breeze went past Naruto, ruffling his hair.

Naruto's happiness was dampened as he thought about the last thing that had happened that night. He now knew why most of Konoha's population was resentful towards him. He was the container of the mighty Kyuubi no Yoko. He was a jinchūriki, according to the old man, a human host to a tailed beast. Sarutobi had explained him all that the reason Naruto had great chakra reserves was because of the fox, along with his great healing factor and stamina

Deep in thought, Naruto didn't even realized he as at home, opening the door automatically, flicking the light on when he passed the switch as he walked along the corridor to his bedroom. He didn't even bothered to turn on the lights on his bedroom, going straight to the door that lead to his bathroom, intending on taking a nice, long shower.

Turning on the light on the bathroom, Naruto noticed a black form on his bed, reflected in the mirror. Normally he would dismiss it as the cat that would pop up once in a while. But cats weren't that big, nor did they have blonde hair

Putting a hand on the hilt of his katana, in case the person –woman, he realized– was hostile, Naruto approached his bed. After taking two steps forward, Naruto noticed a katana resting by the side of his bed.

This made Naruto halt as he reviewed the situation on his mind. One: There was a blonde woman on his room. Two: She had a katana. Three: She was sleeping. In his bed.

Try as he might, the only thing Naruto could come up with in face of a scenario like that was: 'What. The. Fuck?'

"Hey lady! Wake up!" Naruto called, kicking the mattress. Suddenly a black blur jumped from the bed, and he heard a weapon being drawn. Reacting on instinct, Naruto pulled his own blade free, pointing at the woman who was now awake and kicking.

Seeing a blonde kid pointing a sword at her, Matsumoto's eyes widened

"Who are you? What do you want?" Naruto asked, trying to keep his voice steady. The woman was definitely a ninja, judging by the acrobatics she had just performed.

Hearing him speak, to her, Matsumoto blinked "You can see me?"

If Naruto wasn't holding his sword, he would definitely face palm. What was she playing at?

"Of course I can see you! Why do you think I'm pointing by blade at you?!" Naruto demanded.

"You can hear me too?" Hearing that, Naruto's eyebrow twitched

"WHAT DO YOU THINK I AM? STUPID?" He demanded. Matsumoto blinked once more, before closing her eyes and focusing on her senses. When she did, her eyes snapped open and wide.

'No way! Even with a physical body, he is releasing reiryoku, that's why this house is filled with it!" She then felt the cold metal brushing on her neck 'And I can feel his blade on my neck, that means that he can touch us too. And I can also feel a tiny amount of reiatsu his reiryoku is producing'

"You can put you sword away, I won't hurt you I promise" She said calmly, trying to placate the blonde.

"Yeah? Well, you first then" Naruto said, nodding towards the katana she was holding.

"Oh, sorry" She replied with a smile, sliding Haineko back in its scabbard. As she did, Naruto lowered his sword, before putting it way as well "You know kid, you shouldn't play with swords, you could get seriously hurt"

"I'm not a kid lady! Show me some respect here! It's Uzumaki Naruto, future Hokage!" Naruto yelled, making Matsumoto giggle as she remembered another 'kid'.

"I'm sorry Naruto. I'm Matsumoto Rangiku" She told him "Say, what's a Hokage?"

Naruto blinked, hearing the question "How you don't know about the Hokage? Where have you been living all this time?"

"Not in this world" She replied seriously. Seeing Naruto's doubtful expression, she added "Since you can see me, I guess you can see pluses too…I better explain to you how the afterlife works"

"I can see what now?"

"Ghosts" She clarified.

"So you can see them too?" Naruto asked surprised.

"Yes I can" She replied with a smile, before it turned into a frown "You see Naruto, the thing is, I'm not technically alive either"

"WHAT?" Naruto shouted "But you don't have that chain that hangs on people's chests!"

"I'm not a 'ghost' Naruto…I'm a Shinigami" Seeing Naruto was about to speak once more, she placed her hand on his mouth "We shinigami are the souls of the dead who have high spiritual energy, reiryoku, and we learn to use to in order to perform our duties" She explained.

"I come from another dimension, a place called soul society. One of our main duties is to send the souls of the dead or pluses to the afterlife, that is soul society...or what you call heaven."

Nodding at her explanation, Naruto decided to ask something seeing she was done talking.

"This 'reiryoku' thing. You said it's spiritual energy right?" She nodded

"But what about physical energy? Chakra is a combination of spiritual and physical energy in equal amounts; do you mean to say that you use raw spiritual energy?"

"Chakra? I've never heard of it" The blonde replied "But if this 'chakra' is the mixture of spiritual and physical energy, those who died can't use it, because we don't have a physical body"

"And how do you 'send' people to this 'soul society'?" Naruto asked

"We do a ritual called Konsō" She explained "I could show you if you know where there is a plus"

"What happens to a soul if you don't do this Konsō thing?" Rangiku paused for a moment.

"If a plus stays too long in the human world, the Chain of Fate erodes completely, and they become a monster called hollow" Hearing that, Naruto stood up.

"Follow me" Matsumoto blinked, before getting up as well and following Naruto. Rangiku was surprised when Naruto started to jump from rooftop to rooftop.

Naruto led her to a forest clearing, confusing Rangiku for a moment before she saw a young man, in his later teens, with a chain on his chest.

"This is Oji" Naruto began "He's shy, so he keeps to himself most of the time. Don't mind if he seems afraid of you" He explained, leaping into the clearing

"Oji!" Naruto called, making the spirit turn around.

"H-hi Naruto" The spirit said timidly "W-who's this?" He asked, pointing at Matsumoto.

"She's a friend Oji. She can send you to heaven" Naruto explained.

"R-really? I d-don't have to stay here a-anymore?" Oji asked, glancing at Rangiku nervously.

"No, you don't" She told him with a smile, while she approached the plus "Don't worry, I just need my katana to do it" Matsumoto said as she unsheathed Haineko.

Before she could perform the Konsō, the three heard a terrifying howl. It seemed filled with anguish and anger.

'A hollow!? But I didn't even sense it!' Matsumoto thought, looking around, trying to find the Hollow. That's when her eyes landed on Naruto, who had his katana drawn 'Could it be? His own spiritual power hindered my senses?'

Before she could ponder on it, they heard the same howl once more, and a shadow appeared from the trees. It was at least four times taller than Rangiku, with a white mask, black skin. The creature had long arms and legs, resembling a monkey, along with a long tail.

"Ah, there you are! I can already taste you delicious reiryoku! Especially yours, woman!" The monkey hollow said, pointing at Matsumoto

"Rangiku-san, do you Konsō thing on Oji, I'll deal with this thing" Naruto said, standing in front of her with his katana pointing at the hollow.

"What? No! It can kill you!" Matsumoto argued "I'll deal with him"

Before Naruto could argue, Rangiku shunpo'ed in front of the hollow, Haineko prepared to slice him. Using his tail, the hollow blocked the attack, before using it to attack Matsumoto.

Matsumoto dodged the tail swipe, before she jumped back 'Damn, this hollow is fast! He managed to block, no doubt he's stronger than normal!'

The hollow swung its arm, trying to hit Matsumoto with its claws. The blonde shinigami blocked the strike, before striking its hand. With sickening sound, one of the hollow's claws fell on the ground.

"RAAWWRR! I'll KILL YOU!" The hollow screamed, once more attacking Rangiku with its tail. She jumped over the attack, but the creature backhanded her while in the air, sending the blonde into a tree

"Naruto! Run!" Matsumoto ordered as she got up.

"But he will kill you!" Naruto exclaimed, before jumping back in order to avoid the hollow's tail.

As the hollow's tail came back to a second strike, Naruto slashed the appendage, but his katana bounced harmlessly on it.

"HAHAHA! You won't be able to hurt me with that stick, human!" The hollow boasted, then proceeded to attack the blonde with its uninjured hand. Before the hollow attack could hit Naruto, Matsumoto appeared in front of it, using Haineko to block the hollow's claws.

'I can keep fighting like this! I'm using all my reiryoku and the hollow is not even stopping!' Matsumoto thought, before she jumped to avoid the hollow's tail.

'Dammit! How can I protect Rangiku-san if I can't even hurt this thing?' Naruto thought 'I could try to channel chakra in the blade, but the metal is not strong enough for it, it may break!'

Seeing Rangiku fighting the hollow, Naruto made a decision. Screw his katana, she was more important!

Naruto sheathed his blade, keeping his hand on the hilt while the other held the scabbard. Naruto waited, watching the hollow moved. His eyes narrowed, before Naruto dashed forward.

"Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu: Sōryūsen" Using his still sheathed blade, Naruto attacked the hollow's tail, blocking it and pushing it away from him before he drew his blade, which had a blue hue around it "Ikazuchi!" After having drawn his blade, Naruto slashed the hollow's tail again.

The monkey creature howled in pain as its tail was severed from his body. Matsumoto's eyes widened in surprise, both from seeing such mastery of the blade from a kid, and from seeing Naruto not only manage to hurt the hollow, but actually cut its tail of.

Blinded by pain, the hollow trashed around, hitting both blondes in the process and sending them flying into a couple of trees.

As they got up, the hollow stopped trashing around, and having seen Oji, was moving towards the plus. Seeing the creature moving to his friend, Naruto was about to move, when Rangiku held him.

"Naruto, you won't be able to defeat the Hollow like you are now" She said "There is another way"

"Then do it! Can't you see his going for Oji?"

"Now listen carefully Uzumaki Naruto. I'm going to transfer some of my shinigami powers to you. It will be temporary and with your abundance of spiritual energy, you should be able to take it. Do you agree?" She asked seriously.

"Alright!" Naruto said. As Rangiku pointed her zanpakutō at his chest, Naruto cried out "What are you doing?"

"This is how it's done!" Matsumoto exclaimed.

"Then hurry up!" Naruto screamed in pain when she stabbed his chest. Looking down, he saw her katana, which now was glowing white due to Rangiku's reiryoku being channeled through it, completely piercing through his body. But he didn't see any of his blood.

"Matsumoto Rangiku" She said softly. Lifting his head, he saw her smiling softly at him while Haineko continued to glow brighter and brighter with each second.

Not knowing exactly why, Naruto opened his own mouth.

"Uzumaki Naruto" the white glow now beginning to cover their forms.

The glow formed a white sphere around then, before it expanded in a great explosion of white light. Wild gusts of wind making the trees rustle violently and sending debris flying around.

The hollow stared at the smoke, his hand still clutching Oji

"This reiatsu! It's huge!" The creature exclaimed, dropping Oji as he stared at the two forms inside the smoke.

As the wind blew, the smoke dissipated, revealing Matsumoto wearing only a simple white garb, and a blonde in black robes, a katana secured on his hip.

And that's it for today!

(1) I bumped the graduation age to fourteen so Naruto could be closer to Ichigo in age

Hiten Mitsurugi techniques:

Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu: Sōryūsen: (双龍閃, Twin Dragon Flash) Seemingly a simple Battōjutsu strike, Sōryūsen is the first of Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū's two-step Battōjutsu moves. After the first strike with the quickened sword, the user wields the empty sheath along the same path as a blunt weapon. After the sword strike lands, the sheath strike delivers a pulverizing blow capable of crushing bone and shattering wood, but if the sword strike misses, the sheath strike acts as powerful insurance, preventing an opponent's attack and delivering a crushing blow when it's least expected.

Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu: Sōryūsen - Ikazuchi: (双龍閃・雷, Twin Dragon Flash: Thunder) An alternate form of Sōryūsen wherein the sword is wielded while still inside the sheath. The first strike is made with the sheathed sword and, once it makes contact, the sword is drawn using Battōjutsu for a second strike. While the original Sōryūsen is designed to make two strikes, Sōryūsen Ikazuchi appears designed with the assumption that the first strike will be blocked.

Hiten Mitsurugi-ryu: Ryūsōsen: (龍巣閃, Dragon Nest Flash) A massive flurry of strikes delivered to the opponent. The sheer speed of the slashes makes this technique difficult to counter.