Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Fairy Tail. I also don't have an entertaining way of stating it.
Now what better way to celebrate the end of my first round of exams than to publish my first story? I can think of at least twenty things off the top of my head, but regardless.
Anywho, the first part of the chapter is basically taken from canon, so you're welcome to skip it if you want to. Still, I'd appreciate a few comments on wether I managed to stay close to canon characterisation or not.
Also, if anyone has any doubts with anything on the chapter, please read the author's notes at the bottom of the, since the answer you're looking for may be located there. If it isn't, feel free to share your question on a review. If the answer is there but doesn't satisfy you, feel free to lay into me as well.
With that out of the way, enjoy the thing you came here for.
Erza Scarlet couldn't help but sigh. While, unlike her team mates, she hadn't expected a warm reception from the crowd, the outright hatred they were being showered with surprised her. Yes, Fairy Tail had fallen upon hard times, and yes, their team was second to last in the maze, but still, the five of them were presumed dead for seven years! Didn't that deserve at least a little respect?
The crowd said no.
Nevertheless, she was Titania. It was her duty as the eldest and most mature member of the team to stay calm and reassure her team mates.
Like Lucy, who seemed saddened by the insults, or possibly still worried about Wendy.
"Keep your cool, Lucy" She said in the most reassuring tone she could muster. Considering her friend's unenthusiastic response, it wasn't much. That didn't deter her, though. She pointed at their guidmates in the stands. "All we need is the cheering of our friends."
Lucy didn't look up immediately, but the small smile she showed at the words and the increasingly louder cheers of their friends told the redhead that her attempt at cheering up the celestial mage was successful.
"What's that?" They heard Natsu say. Turning, they followed his gaze, locked onto their supporters.
"No way?!" Lucy exclaimed.
"Could that be..." Erza, always calmer, wondered.
It was. Looking exactly as she had on Tenrou Island, Mavis Vermillion, Fairy Tail's founder and first guildmaster, sat near the members of her guild, long blonde hair waving in the air as she kicked her bare feet and yelled out encouragement to the guild's representatives, looking as happy as anyone of her apparent age should be.
The rest of the guild seemed just as shocked to see her.
Sensing their shock at seeing her once again, she explained herself.
"I came to cheer you on." She stated, still smilling cheerfully, and waving off Master Makarov's concerns by stating only those with the mark of Fairy Tail could see her.
Natsu had no such concerns. "Having the first master here looking over us is reassuring!" he laughed.
Erza missed Gray's more controlled agreement as she looked around for the only team to do worse then them on the maze. The announcer, however, interrupted that train of thought.
"Next up... In eighth place in the preliminaries, the hounds of hell's army... Quatro Cerberus!"
One thing she felt surprisingly good about was Quatro Cerberus's attitude. Seven years had passed for everyone but the Tenrou Team, yet the mages of the wildest guild in Fiore still acted the same way. In a world that had changed so much, seeing something so familiar was very reassuring.
What wasn't reassuring, however, was the lack of Bacchus. He'd always been their ace, their one mage who could match her. Why wasn't he on their team? Had he been surpassed by the five she was seeing? Just how strong had the other guilds gotten in their absence?
Once again, the announcer distracted her.
"Coming in seventh place we have the all female guild, the dancers of the deep, Mermaid Heel!"
From what she remembered from Macao's information, Mermaid Heel was formed a few months after Acnologia's attack, but only rose to prominence when their ace, Kagura Mikazuchi, joined three years earlier.
Kagura herself, easily distinguisheable due to her calm and relaxed demeanor, walked in front of her teammates. Mermaid Heel's ace was a slim woman in her early to mid twenties with long, straight dark hair cut in the traditional princess style. She was wearing an elaborate white blazer with a large collar open to reveal a collared shirt and tie underneath, white gloves and a pair of black tights tucked into a pair of thigh-high boots and sitting under a short frilled skirt. On her head was a ribbon, with the ends of the bow pointing straight up, giving them the appearance of animal ears, giving the ensemble a rather odd finishing touch.
The next team's name made her blood run cold, driving away any irritation at yet another interruption to her accessment of a powerful opponent.
"Sixth place is the azure wings that sparkle in the darkness, Blue Pegasus!"
Blue Pegasus's lineup had only one unfamiliar face, and an odd one at that: the Trimens's partner was wearing a bunny costume while giving the same pose as the rest of the team.
At least Ichiya had shown no indication of approaching her yet. Though she didn't have much faith on that lasting.
"Fifth place... the goddess of love and war's secret destroyers, Lamia Scale!"
That shocked her. Team Lamia Scale had one of the Ten Wizard Saints, and Gray's friend Lyon was no pushover either. What kind of powerhouses were the four teams who scored higher?
"Who's that?" Natsu wondered, looking at the girl around Wendy's age that accompanied Jura Neekis, Lyon Vastia, Yuka Suzuki and Toby Horhorta. She had pink hair styled in pigtails held up by orange ribbons and was wearing a mini skirt, a pink, sleeveless top with a dark blue center and a folded collar with yet another orange ribbon tied around it and a heart emblem on the chest, and long gloves.
"Where's the usual 'love' at?" Gray wondered. Lucy, meanwhile, was interested in another team.
"There's a person I've nerver seen before over there, too... Person?!" She yelled, seemingly noticing the Blue Pegasus member in the bunny suit for the first time. Erza reminded herself to have a serious conversation with her blonde friend about letting sleeping dogs lie. Or, in this case, not reminding absentminded Ichiyas of Titania's presence.
Meanwhile, Yuka Suzuki, a petite blue-haired man wearing a green one-tail coat and sporting the thickest eyebrows she'd ever seen on anyone, was introducing the little girl to the rest of Team Fairy Tail.
"Chelia is Sherry's little cousin." He stated calmly.
"Ooooonnn, she's really strong." The dog-like Toby Horhorta added.
"Yeah, my 'love' still isn't nearly enough." Chelia agreed, clearly not paying attention to the conversation, something Toby wasn't pleased with.
"I was complimenting you!" And he made that very clear.
"Ah, I'm sorry Toby!" She yelled out, scared. Yuka sighed and tried to play peacemaker.
Erza couldn't help but smile as she saw the members of the different guilds interact with each other as if they were all old friends.
At least until Ichiya noticed her.
"Okay then, in that case, I'll have a taste of Erza-san!" He yelled out enthusiatically, hearts in his eyes as he sniffed her. Her reaction was the same as always.
"Quit... it!" She stammered out in embaressment, trying to push him away. He remained unfazed.
"Mmmm... A lovely perfume, as always." He stated in what might have felt like a flattering tone coming from anyone else. As it was, she was just wondering if he'd go away if she punched him.
No, wait, she'd tried that tactic before. Darn it.
"Moving on, coming in fourth place we have... Now this is quite a surprise, in fourth place we hava a first time competing guild! The midnight raiders, Raven Tail!"
"Raven Tail?!" Natsu yelled, echoing all of Fairy Tail's surprise.
"That's Master's son's, Ivan, guild." Erza stated for the benefit of those who didn't know about it.
"But... That means..." Lucy started, understanding the implications of that.
Master Makarov, meanwhile, was raging in the stands about Raven Tail beeing a dark guild, spreading confusion among the spectators.
"Well, according to our official information, Raven Tail existed over seven years ago." The announcer started, hoping to defuse the tension. "But had only been approved as an official guild recently."
"If they're approved by the Council, then that means they're not a dark guild, right?" Former councilman Yajima added, trying to bury the controversy for good.
"Fairy Tail..." A voice stated, causing the whole team to turn around, seeing Raven Tail.
"That little girl was our way of saying hello." The same voice spoke, allowing them to identify the owner as a tall figure with blue hair and wearing golden armor and a dark furred cape. The man's face was covered by a golden mask, slightly triangular in the bottom and shaped like a trident from the nose up.
The small goblin-like creature on the right shoulder of the odd-looking man next to the speaker let out a sound similar to a giggle.
Fairy Tail was furious.
"You're the ones... who did that to Wendy..." Natsu started, getting angrier by the second, "I won't forgive you!" He yelled out, examplefying their team's anger at the man better than anyone else ever could.
The ravens seemed unfazed by the dragon slayer's proclamation, turning away from Fairy Tail and leaving for another spot after a parting 'Enjoy the festival' from the armored man.
No else had heard the confession, sadly, and thus were more worried about who the two guilds left besides Sabertooth were.
"It seems like two more powerful guilds are still hiding." Gray whispered from besides her.
She understood where he was headed. "I wonder if they have anything to do with that mysterious energy Jellal mentioned?"
"Here we go! The team who came in third in the preliminaries... Well, now... This is definitely unexpected! Could the flapping of their fallen wings really carry them all the way here?!" The announcer stated, hoping to milk the suspense for all it was worth. "It's the least expected... The unbelievable..."
The team came out, surprising everyone.
"Fairy Tail B Team!"
Erza didn't see Mirajane, Gajeel, Juvia or Laxus. No, her eyes were firmly fixed on the man completly covered by cloth except for his eyes. Only one man had ever dressed like that, and he was currently on an alternate dimension.
He was, however, that dimension's counterpart of someone she knew very well.
"It can't be... Are you... Jellal...?" She asked, hopeful.
The 'Shhh' she got in response was all the answer she needed.
"Seriously!" Gray and Natsu yelled simultaneously.
While that was happening, agressive mutterings went on by in the crowd about why Fairy Tail had two teams.
Natsu let everyone know that he also had no clue about what was happening with a loud yell.
The announcer picked up on the confusion, "Well, it seems as if there's a lot of people still confused over the new revisions to the rules this year, don't you think, Yajima-san?"
"That's right... This year, each guild can have not just one, but two teams enter into the tournament."
That little tidbit of information could have been useful to know, a sentiment Lucy echoed as the master taunted his colleagues due to having two teams in the finals.
After a brief debate between the announcer, Yajima and guest commentator Jenny Realight from Blue Pegasus over the pros and cons of having two teams in the finals, Natsu and Gajeel made a point of leaving it clear that the two Fairy Tail teams would fight each other as hard as they would anyone else. While that was happening, Erza approached the disguised Jellal.
"Je... Mystogan... You..." She started, not sure how to convey her worry for him.
"Master is a really understanding told him about our situation, and he was more than happy to consent to this." He said, hoping to dissuade her worries.
No such luck.
"You said you weren't able to get near the event grounds, didn't you?"
"That was before I thought of this idea."
"That is still against the rules. You're not a guild member." Same old Erza, still a sticker for the rules. She really hadn't changed.
Then again, from her perspective, it had only been three months since Acnologia's attack, not seven years, so it was only natural.
"Anyway, haven't you heard? For all our purposes, Mystogan and I are the same person."
"Anyway, don't get so worked up, this is a 'festival', isn't it?" Laxus said, appearing out of nowhere and putting an arm over Jellal's shoulder, "Right, Mystogan?"
"Exactly, Erza." The bluenette replied, silently thankful at beeing seconded like that. 'Who knew Laxus could be such a pal?' He thought.
"And watch it... Mystogan is a lot less talkative, remember?" Any annoyance Erza might have felt at the blonde for enabling Jellal's irresponsability and interrupting their talk vanished with those words.
It would return, though. And then those two would have a lot more in common with Natsu and Gray.
As her old friend walked past her, he whispered, "... So... Have you noticed anything yet?"
"Raven Tail seems a bit suspicious, but apart from that, nothing." She answered in the same pitch.
"That's the guild that came out before us, right? Their magical presence feels diferent than it was in previous years."
"Have you felt the 'mysterious presence' yet?"
"Not the one I told you about, but there are five odd ones somewhere in the stadium. They don't feel dark, mind you." He added quickly before she could jump to conclusions,"But they're unlike anything I've ever felt before."
"Should we be worried?"
"Not necessarily, but it never hurts to be on your toes. My team already knows. You should tell yours as well." He advised before walking away, doing his best to keep his cover intact. She still didn't like it, but there was nothing she could do.
With the Team B issue cleared up, everyone was ready for the introduction of the last two teams. The news of each guild being able to have more than one team on the finals, however had convinced almost everyone that the two final teams were from Sabertooth, the number one guild in all of Fiore.
"And now it's time to introduce the second team to clear the maze! They are the strongest! The invincible! The complete dominators! The number one guild in all of Fiore! They! Are! SAAABERTOOTH!" The announcer yelled out with enthusiasm he'd yet to show that evening.
That it was a team from Sbertooth was unsurprising. That it was a team composed of the best of Sabertooth, as the Twin Dragons's presence attested, however, was very surprising.
Once again, the crowd and competitors started muttering. Who could number one be? Who could have done better then Sabertooth's best?
These questions kept the audience member's attention so much that many of them forgot to cheer for their favorite guild. The lack of the support they expected, in turn, seemed to leave the few Team Sabertooth members who cared about that in an even worse mood than coming in second did.
Ironically, the fact that someone bested Sabertooth completely overshadowed Sabertooth itself.
"Ah, I can see that everyone is wondering who could have possibly topped them, huh?" The announcer started, hoping to wave off Sabertooth's lack of support. It was bad for business. "Well then, wonder no more! The last team in the finals of the X791 Grand Magic Games is participating for the first time ever. Their presence was requested by the king himself, and his wish to see them fight many opponents is the reason there are ten teams in the finals instead of eight." He said, taking a dramatic pause to feed the crowd's curiosity.
It didn't just work on the crowd. The competitors were also wondering what kind of team could catch the king's own eyes. Some, like Natu, couldn't wait for a chance to fight them. Others were more analythical.
'Could those be the odd presences Jellal felt?' Erza wondered. Anyone who could gain the king's favor like that had to be unique.
"Be prepared, for they are a sight never before seen in Fiore!" He said with another dramatic pause, clearly enjoying the attention. "You see, the sole remaining team is from overseas!" He yelled out in excitement.
The crowd didn't agree. In fact, many of them seemed more angry at having foreigners in the tournament than anything.
Erza herself was trying to figure out what was going on. She didn't recall any mention of land overseas. A few miles off the coast there was a ring of treacherous waters not even the most desperate pirates dared to brave. Why would anyone go through that?
"These five were sent as diplomats by the lands known as the 'Elemental Nations' and, upon meeting the king, agreed to participate in this tournament as a show of friendship and trust! Since they're from a whole different continent, they're also bound to possess abilities we've never seen before! So, give a warm welcome to... Team United Shadows!"
Erza felt rather sorry for the five figures who entered the stadium. The crowd still hadn't forgiven them for being foreigners who'd defeated their home's heroes.
Still, at least there was someone who got even less cheers than Fairy Tail.
Kankuro sighed. He'd been prepared for the crowd's hostility, but apparently that didn't apply to the whole team. Karui seemed ready to attack a few members of the audience for their comments. Chojuro was intimidated, looking rather confused and out of place, as he always did whenever the Mizukage was in no imediate danger. At least that meant the Kumo jonin would probably notice him and start berating him for 'being a coward' soon, as she had taken to doing during the boat ride.
Naruto called her a tsundere. Never to her face after the first time, though.
Speaking of Naruto, he was trying to calm Kurotsuchi down while the Iwa kunoichi complained about is poor choice in names.
She was probably faking it, though. That girl just loved messing with the blonde. He would have suspected something if she wasn't happily married already.
Thinking of marriage caused the puppeteer to rub his own wedding ring. Darn, he really missed his wife. The short visits Naruto took him on with Hiraishin during the six months they'd been on the mission weren't nearly enough. Maki had really been a blessing to his life.
She was even worth having Naruto call him whipped. Or Temari joining in on the ribbing. Or Gaara throwing in his two scents.
Gaara... That made him think about Suna. He knew they were all worried for their villages, which was why Naruto had used Hiraishin so much during the trip.
It was really progressive, how the major villages allowed someone who'd proven himself able to destroy armies on his own to plant teleporting beacons on their gates.
Beacons that were ready to be used by this team in the very likely event of a rehash of the Fifth War after the weakening the Great Villages had suffered during the Sixth.
Hoping to distract himself from that train of thought, the Kazekage's brother turned back to their appointed leader for this mission, who seemed to be acessing the competion alongside the Tsuchikage's daughter. His friend really had changed.
Granted, three wars over ten years were bound to do so for everyone involved, but still, not many had been hit harder by the conflicts than Naruto. How the blonde could be as carefree as he was was a mystery.
After finally managing to stop Kurotsuchi's complaining, Naruto turned to study the competition, the Iwa kunoichi accompanying him. His eyes went from team to team, studying stances and expressions in order to judge the biggest threats. He recognized most of them from the materials they'd made a point of reading to prepare themselves for this. This tournament was just too important to lose.
The materials seemed correct. From what he could see of their stances and what he could feel in this 'proto Sage Mode' the energy in the atmosphere allowed to enter faster then usual at the cost of the aura and its physical benefits, the biggest threats were exactly so.
One thing the materials also weren't wrong about were the breast sizes. Seriously, were these women all related to Tsunade? It was like he'd fallen in one of his sensei's (and now his as well) novels! Hell, just seeing them all gave him material for at least two more books!
"What do you think, Namikaze?" Kurotsuchi's question brought him back to focus. Iwa nin insisted on calling him Namikaze, even though he never went by the name. He had no idea why, as they refused to answer when he asked.
He wouldn't put it past her to convince them to do it just to mess with him.
Looking at her serious expression, he understood the answer she was looking for.
"From what I can sense, the materials seem correct." He answered, no traces of the playfulness from before present in his voice. "Lamia Scale's little girl also has a high amount of sheer power, more than nearly anyone. Sabertooth's unknown is untrained in physical combat, but she has a high amount of energy as well. There's something odd about the armored man from Raven Tail, but I can't figure out what. The rest of his team have reserves of around a mid level jonin."
His whole team had stopped to listen to the information, completely ignoring the hostile crowd. All five of them standing there in their respective jonin uniforms brought him memories of the Fourth War, both good ones and not so much.
Against all odds, the real Uchiha Madara was driven away when, in an unlikely gambit, the seven Tailed Beasts inside the shell of their progenitor managed to temporarily impose their combined will to attack him. That, combined with Kakashi's, Gai's, Kirabi's and his own efforts forcing Obito to rely on Izanagi again, lead to the two Uchihas's retreat. Unfortunately, taking away their younger enemy's last Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan, thus removing his Kamui (Authority of the Gods) from the equation, was offset by Gyuki's, the Eight-Tailed Giant Ox, capture.
After returning to base camp and learning of what happened to the five kage, it was decided that Naruto would spend the night in Mt. Myoboko in order to refine his control over his new jinchuriki powers. After leaving a few clones to detect any transformed White Zetsu that may try to attack during his absence, the jinchuriki left, carrying a few scrolls on new jutsu that may be needed and the hopes of many.
He liked to think he didn't dissapoint.
Copious use of his signature Taju Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Mass Shadow Clone Technique), to unprecedented levels due to having Kurama's full cooperation, allowed him to accomplish his objectives and arrive at dawn, just as the day's battles began.
It was a good day, all things considered. The kage fought Madara again. Better prepared, and following Nara Shikaku´s brilliant strategy, they managed to give him a much more even battle. In the end, however, the Tsuchikage was forced to use the Shiki Fujin (Dead Demon Consuming Seal) to save his colleagues. And so, the famed Onoki of Both Scales, Third Tsuchikage, died while expressing his faith in the newer generations, taking with him the strongest shinobi since the Sage of Six Paths himself.
Naruto, meanwhile, had his fated battle with his former best friend Sasuke. It was nothing like their extremely even clash four years earlier at the Valley of the End, however. Back then, none of them had much experience with their abilities. By the Fourth War, however, things had changed. While Sasuke had only had his perfect Sharingan for a few days, Naruto had accumulated years of training in his Yang Chakra Mode thanks to his clones. Combined with the fact that the full power of the strongest Tailed Beast was already much more than what the Eternal Mangekyo Sharingan could give (as even Obito, a much more experienced user of the eyes, had to resort to more indirect methods to fight it), the youngest Uchiha's straighforward strategy didn't stand a chance. Nevertheless, the blonde refused to give up on the one he considered a brother. They argued, fought and then argued some more until finally, after four gruelling hours, Sasuke understood. He understood that Naruto would not give up on him. He understood what Itachi had sacrificed so much for. He understood that all of Konoha wasn't to blame for the Uchiha Massacre. He also understood that it was too late for him.
Obito then appeared, having replaced his missing eye with Nagato's other one and looking to take advantage of the blonde's exaustion. He didn't count, however, on facing two opponents. Sasuke realized that the man in front of him was responsible for what happened to his clan. And so, for the last time, the two rivals teamed up. Without Kamui and with the incomplete Ten Tails still unstable, Obito stood no chance. In the end, Sasuke also used the Shiki Fujin, telling Naruto that he had done too much to be able to live normally again, and that his life was better spent making sure his clansman could not be brought back. He also informed him of his and his brother's battle with Kabuto and the revival of Orochimaru. Lastly, with a true smile on his face, Uchiha Sasuke died, ironically not feeling any hatred for the first time in his life.
With all three Uchiha dead and no one left to control the White Zetsu, it seemed like the war was finally over. Sadly, Yakushi Kabuto did not agree. Having broken out of Izanami, he proceed to strike down his former master, absorb him and resummon the revived shinobi Itachi had forced him to dismiss. As a bonus, Itachi himself was one of these, and without Shisui's eye, there was no chance of him breaking out of the madman's control again. Kabuto's first order to the Uchiha was to bring back Nagato's soul from the dimension he'd imprisioned it in. A quick sacrifice later, and the fully rejuvenated God of Ame was back in his service. He then sent his forces after the unprepared armies.
The slaughter was even more brutal the second time around. Not only was the united army caught unaware, but the enemies had increased, with the remaining dead kage as well as Orochimaru, Hoshigaki Kisame and, to Naruto's dismay, Mitarashi Anko, Yamato, Kirabi and his godfather Jiraya joining the horde. It was also when people close to him started dying.
Lee was killed by Nagato. In his grief, Gai had opened all eight chakra gates, using their power to overwhelm the Rinnegan user and seal him, along with all the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist except Kisame and Zabuza with the Shiki Fujin.
Ei, the Fourth Raikage, and his servant Dodai were next. Dodai was killed by a punch from the Third Raikage and Ei died using the Shiki Fujin on his father, brother and even predecessors, the First and Second Raikages. A few days later, the Yoton (Lava Release) user was on the enemy's side. Nara Shikaku, who was basically filling the spot anyway, was named Supreme Commander.
Mifune, the leader of the samurai, couldn't survive the Second Mizukage's Joki Boi (Steaming Danger Tyranny).
Choji was killed by the Third Kazekage's Iron Sand. Naruto knew he'd never forget the sight of his friend's mangled and barely recognisable corpse.
Sai had managed to seal away Pakura, Gari, Haku, Chukichi and Toroi with his special seal, proving himself the only alternative to pyrrhic victories. Unfortunately, this made him an important target, so Yamato had been sent to deal with him. He did, but the former Root operative managad to seal him before dying of bloodloss.
Tsunade used the Shiki Fujin on the First Kazekage and Tsuchikage, her lover Dan, as well as, to his despair, Jiraya. Seeing his godmother and father figures get dragged to the shinigami's stomach together broke him. He spent a few days without interacting with anyone before Sakura and Ino snapped him out of it.
And then there was Sakura. Her death had happened near the end of the war. By then, Kabuto, who had moved to a different location after absorbing his former master, had stopped sending more than one servant in the same place in order to avoid repeats of Gai, Ei and Tsunade's sacrifices. Medic-nin were working overtime to treat the many wounded. It was nearly impossible to walk on a battlefield without stepping on a corpse. Sakura was on the field when Zabuza ambushed her unit. None of them made it. The blonde himself barely made it past the depression her death caused. Ino had to snap (and slap) him out of it again.
In the end, it was clear that killing Kabuto was the only way to end it. So he did. After days of trying to track him down, Naruto finally fought the madman.
Even so, it wasn't easy.
Naruto may have had Sage Mode and the power of the strongest Tailed Beast on his side, but Kabuto had something else: the fruits of his and Orochimaru's research. The research on bloodlines had taken off, with the traitor throwing all elements and subelements at him while wearing the Rinnegan and bones spouted from every bit of skin that wasn't covered by a Sharingan. Combined with Karin's healing, Suigetsu's ability to turn into water and Jugo's ability to absorb nature energy allowing him to stay in his own Sage Mode indefinetly, Kabuto was an incredible opponent. An incredible opponent bent on insuring his name would always be remembered by destroying the Five Great Nations. An incredible opponent who, in the end, was very similar to himself.
Nevertheless, after two long days, the fourtieth Sharingan eye finally closed and Yakushi Kabuto was dead. When he finally left the man's hideout, the Allied Forces had managed to create a counter seal for the mind control formula. A few Kurama-reinforced shadow clones, and many battles against some of the best the shinobi world had ever produced, later and the Fourth Shinobi World War was over after two devastating months.
A few months later, he teamed up with the kage and the revived shinobi, sans those belonging to Akatsuki, whom had been sealed through the usual methods, to defeat and destroy the incomplete Ten Tails, thus freeing Kurama's siblings from their prison. Their mission over, the revived shinobi departed to the afterlife after expressing their faith in him and the future of the world.
The Tailed Beasts reinforced that sentiment a few weeks later. Kurama had been carefully extracted while the best medics kept Naruto stable and healthy throughout the three days the process required. Two days after the fox was freed, the united army watched as the toads lead the beasts to the Summoning Realm, where they could live peacefully and away from human interference.
The very next day, he was promoted to jonin.
With Kitsuchi as Fourth Tsuchikage, Darui as Fifth Raikage and Kakashi as Sixth Hokage, it seemed as if a new era of peace was at hand. Foreign ninja visiting became a common sight everywhere. It was called "a never ending golden age". After all, the Five Great Nations had started all previous wars. With such heavy losses, there was no way anyone would want to go through something like that again, right?
The announcer's voice snapped him out of it. "Thank you for waiting! Here is your lineup!" He yelled out, pointing towards a giant board thad had risen out of the ground. "The Grand Magic Games's program has been unveiled!"
A low murmur soon started to spread as the teams started commenting the schedule amongst each other.
"So, an unknown challenge and a battle every day. Three single battles and a tag battle before the unknown event in the fifth day. What do you guys think?" Kankuro asked.
"Feeling ready to pummel a few bastards, thats how." Karui declared, cracking her knuckles with an eager smile.
"Y-you shouldn't be so bl-bloodthirsty, K-Karui-san..." Chojuro muttered, clearly intimidated by her display. He may have grown a lot more confident than he used to be, but the redhead always brought out the meeker side of him.
"You should be more bloodthirsty!" She answered, "Just because we're being forced into this doesn't mean we can't enjoy testing our strength against these people. Don't be so scared all the time!"
Naruto could have mentioned how it was technically her fault, but that would end the entertainment. So, instead, he just agreed with her.
"Karui has a point. Even if the king goes back on his word or we don't win, a strong showing can still accomplish our goal. It's a lot easier to go all out if you enjoy it." He advised the swordsman, who nodded but still stepped away from the dark-skinned female.
Whenever he saw this interaction, which had been very often in the last six months, he couldn't believe Chojuro was part of the same group Zabuza and Kisame had also been members of. He also had nearly nothing in common with Suigetsu and Ao, the only other members of the Seven Swordsmen of the Mist he'd met personally.
"How can you ignore the idiots so easily anyway, masochist? You used to get just as pissed as I did about things like that back when you were learning from Raikage-sama with Omoi." Naruto sighed. Ever since their first meeting, when he'd allowed her to beat him up, she'd always called him that.
"I helped raise a kid." He anwered nevertheless, having long since given up on trying to change that. Instead, his thoughts turned towards Kurenai's child. While little Hitomi was already past the 'waking people up three times a night' phase when he started helping out with her, she was still very dependant and scared her precious people would leave her. He couldn't blame her. Growing up without a father and losing her older brother figure at the age of three was rough on anyone.
He could never forget her face after he, her mother and Ino explained to her that 'Shika-nii' wouldn't be visiting ever again. He promised himself that day that he'd never let her look that way again. Using Hiraishin so much in order to visit her at least once a week was tiring, but worth it.
"As far as the matches go, this is how the points will be distributed from first through tenth place. As the rankings fall, the amount of points received decreases." The announcer said as the writing on the board changed, depicting the scores. First place got ten points, second nine points, third eight points, fourth seven points, fifth six points, sixth five points, seventh four points, eighth two points, ninth one point and tenth zero points.
"For the contest part, you can choose anyone from your guild to participate. For the following battle part, the organisers will pair up cards selected from the fan's votes."
"So it's possible to have two matches in one day..." Kurotsuchi muttered in thought. Times like these reminded him that behind the woman who loved to mess with him and had once threatened to kill him ten years earlier even though their villages had just become allies was an elite jonin and the leading candidate for the title of Fifth Tsuchikage.
"The battle part's rules are simple. Each team will battle, like so." The announcer said, pointing towards the board where it showed that each team would only have one battle. "The winning team will receive ten points, the losing team will receive none. If it's a draw, each team will receive five points."
"Without further ado, I bring you the Great Magic Games's opening game!"
Author's note: If the Fourth War recount seems a little forced to you, that's because I just wanted to get it out before the next Naruto chapter, which I'm sure will wreck my view. Now it's out there though, and before canon, so I won't feel obligated to change it.
For those of you who care, yes, the Fifth and Sixth Wars will be explored. And they happened because I honestly find them to be the Fourth War's logical conclusions.
That's all for now. Take care guys.