True Faith Chapter 1

White and Black

Disclaimer: Kur0Kishi does not own anything. Naruto belongs to Masashi Kishimoto and Negima belongs to Ken Akamatsu.

Happy 2013!

And finally, the long awaited sequel to Broken Faith is out. This was already done by November but we waited for New Year's Day, just for that little bit of meaningfulness. This; along with Caliburn Initiative and Unwavering Sky have been updated at the same time as a present to our readers in celebration of 2013.

Bow to our generosity, Bwahahaha!


****Soundtrack List****

Supercell - My Dearest

Naruto Shippuden OST – Gekiha

Naruto OST – Strike and Strong

****True Faith****

Nekane giggled quietly as she watched the three cheerleaders of 3-A sleepily troop into the room and head straight for the breakfast table, despite it being almost afternoon already.

Beside her, the elegant blonde woman, Yukihiro-san if she remembered it right, was sipping from a cup of tea beside her cousin, the equally beautiful and elegant Naba-san. Both of them rolled their eyes at their less composed classmates though Naba-san failed to suppress her own amused giggle.

"Is that all of us?" Ayaka inquired curiously, "Where is everybody else?"

"I'm not sure." Chizuru answered calmly, "I'll go and wake them up. It's almost noon and it's not polite to impose on Nekane-san's kindness for too long. She must have her own things to do."

"Oh my, I don't mind." Nekane smiled rather wistfully, "It gets rather lonely around here when Anya and Negi aren't around. I would actually prefer it if everybody stayed a little longer." Nekane said with a cheerful smile.

"It's still not polite to sleep so late. At the very least, we should help you around the house and cook lunch since these monkeys all eat so much." Ayaka pointed out with dignity.

Chizuru grinned slightly, "As strict as always, Aya-chan. But good point."

Ayaka pouted at her cousin, "I thought you promised not to call me that in front of other people."

Her auburn haired cousin merely whimsically waved over her shoulder in reply as she flounced up the stairs.

Moments later, the sounds of feet hurriedly tapping on the hardwood floor as Chizuru reappeared at the bottom of the stairs, looking uncharacteristically worried and flustered, "They're not there, Yunna-san, Makie-san, they're all gone."

The three cheerleaders immediately shot upwards with a loud, "What!?" while Nekane covered her lips to hide a gasp.

Chizuru's eyes were drawn straight to the only person who had failed to react, or rather, was too stunned to react.

Ayaka was intensely staring at the silver band on her hand, with another hand clutched to her chest as if in physical pain. Her tea cup which was carefully set down on a saucer plate had split in half, allowing steaming brown liquid to slowly pool over the table top, coming dangerously close to dripping on the her lap.

"Ayaka?" Chizuru asked with some concern, shaking her shoulder gently.

The blonde girl who had been staring at the amber liquid slowly make its way towards the edge of the table stirred with a slight jump, "I-I'm sorry. We have those idiots to worry about." She stood up decisively, "Chizuru, can you wait here for a day or so just in case they got lost or something?"

The narrow eyed girl opened her eyes slightly to stare at her cousin, "I can... but you think they snuck off with Negi to Mundus Magicus don't you?"

Ayaka sighed and rubbed her temples in frustration, "I thought it was strange that they accepted everything so easily. I didn't see them when I went to see Naruto and Negi off, but I certainly wouldn't put it past them. That being the case, if I go back to Japan I can talk to some of my contacts to see if they were caught by Immigrations on the other side. They're going to need some help getting back if so, especially since they don't have magic or any currency."

Chizuru accepted the explanation with a nod, "Very well," She turned to a worried looking, "Nekane-san, I'm sorry but is it alri-"

The blonde woman interrupted her with a warm smile, "As I've said before, it's completely alright. I'm worried about them as well."

The two cousins bowed politely in thanks.

Chizuru glanced at the remaining members of 3-A that looked as if they had finally realized something was wrong, "Well... now our only problem is convincing them that nothing is wrong and calming them down." She muttered, knowing better than most how excitable her classmates were.

Ayaka grinned as the two of them walked down the drive way together, "I'll leave that one to you, you were always better than me at manipulating people."

"Oh my, I would prefer if you didn't put it so crudely," The sweet motherly smile that decorated her face somehow managed to look dangerously foreboding, much to her cousin's amusement at being proved right, "I prefer calling it mutually beneficial negotiations." She sighed in a deliberate manner and pouted childishly, "Mou... Why do people fight so hard when you just want them to be happy? It's like they want to be all gloomy and broody; acting like spoiled children just because it looks cool." She said the last word with a large amount of distaste evident on her face.

"Somehow, I don't think the people you help see it quite the way you do," Ayaka dryly commented with a roll of her eyes, "In fact, I'm quite surprised that Naruto is still alive with you helping him."

Chizuru who was seeing her cousin off only huffed before hugging the blonde with a teasing smile, "Well, if I did that, I wouldn't have gotten my dear Aya-chan to smile again. Mutually beneficial negotiations at its best. Well that and I promised Papa I wouldn't throw people into the sea with concrete shoes anymore... at least not anyone important." She trailed off suspiciously.

Ayaka gave her an exasperated look as she struggled to get out of the deceptively strong bear hug, "You do realize how irritating that is don't you?"

"What is? The fact that I'm always right?"

"Typical Naba."

The motherly girl with auburn haired poked her tongue out at her cousin in a show of utter maturity.

****True Faith****

"Oi, Oi, Kitty, it's your turn." Konoe commented irritatedly, a shogi board sitting in between him and the vampire. If she took any longer to make her move, both him and the board would start gathering dust.

The blonde girl snapped out of her thoughts and looked around in surprise, "Sorry." She muttered in an apologetic tone, "I was lost in thought."

"For the past three hours." The Dean of Mahora pointed out dryly, "If you were so worried, why didn't you just go with them? It's not like you couldn't since he apparently broke the seal, I don't even know why you stay in Mahora anymore. It's not like you are required to."

"Who said I was worried about that idiot?" Evangeline spluttered loudly, "I-I was just thinking about my next move! And whether I stay here is my business or not isn't it!?"

"Which idiot might you be talking about? I don't recall mentioning anyone in particular." Konoemon teased the fuming vampire with a wide grin.

"Grrr!" She picked up a white piece and slammed in on the board in a random position, "There, you go! You happy?!"

"Gohohoho! My win!"

Evangeline blanched comically as she realized that she had allowed the old man to corner her, when she felt the small black wing brooch pinned to the front of her white dress start to heat up. The vampire paled and her hands limply dropped to her side, "So fast?" she gasped shakily.

Inhaling deeply, she looked at the concerned Konoe, "Old man, where's your pactio?"

"My... Pactio?" he asked uncertainly, wary of the way the vampire's pupils were dilated, almost like a feral animal barely holding herself back.

"The one you made with the blonde idiot! Pull it out, hurry!" She urged him impatiently, restraining herself from simply leaping across the board to attack the old man to make him move faster.

Shrugging, the old man pulled out the card from his inner pocket and inspected it curiously before flipping it over for the nearly vibrating vampire to check.

A blonde man with three scars on each cheek, standing in a relaxed pose with one hand resting on the barrel of his sniper rifle and the other holding a mask to his face that hiding half of his face although a confident smirk could be seen on what was visible of his face. The blonde seemed to smirk smugly back at her from the surface of the card. Beneath the blonde's feet lay a banner that prominently displayed the words Astra Petas in bold, stylish font.

"He's alive." Evangeline let out an explosive breath of relief.

"Who's alive?" Her Shougi partner carefully asked.

The vampire waved the question away with seeming unconcern, "No one," and stood up, patting down her skirt.

"Eh? Where are you going? We're not done yet." The old man gestured towards the shougi board with, massive eyebrows quivering.

The vampire snorted derisively, "I'm done, but you certainly aren't. I get the feeling that you're going to have a lot of work in the days to come."

Just then the phone rang, causing the old man to jump a little in his seat. "How did yo-"

The little vampire was gone.

****True Faith****

Play Supercell - My Dearest

When Negi awoke with a start, the first thing he noticed was that it was almost evening and that someone had tucked him into a comfortable futon under a very nice shade.

Groaning, Negi pulled himself up warily, reaching for his staff when he realized that it wasn't there anymore, to make matter worse, the muscles in his abdomen were almost constantly crying out in pain. Wincing, the red headed boy propped himself on a tree as he tried to straighten out his thoughts. The last thing he remembered was... getting trapped in some sort of bubble of magic that was meant to get them to safety and his older brother... He shook his head, now was not the time. The teacher peered up into the thick foliage and tried to discern his location with a squint.

Unfortunately, he had never been very good with astronomy. Failing that, Negi ran a hand through his hair in frustration as he tried to think about what to do next with his muddled brain when his ears captured the sound of water splashing.

Perking up, the ten year old boy began creeping through the undergrowth towards the sound in hopes of finding some answers.

However, instead of finding any answers, he found himself stumbling upon a scene so poignant and beautiful in an incredibly sad way that instantly quashed his initial urge to charge at her and demand where everyone was. A familiar looking green haired girl dressed in a ragged black dress was sitting at the edge of a sparkling pool with her feet dipped into the cold liquid as she ran her fingers through something on her lap with an almost lost expression, "Chachamaru-nee chan?" he croaked.

The gynoid didn't reply immediately, instead she seemed to straighten up before turning around to smile at him mechanically, "Negi-sensei. You are awake. Are you truly alright?"

The boy blinked, was it him or was the gynoid talking differently? She sounded far more mechanical and flat then he was used too.

"Ye-yeah, what happened?" He winced and grabbed his aching side as he clumsily sat down beside Chachamaru, accepting the make shift cup made of some sort of leaves and drinking the contents with relief, "I only remember a bubble..." He gestured lamely, "Lots of flashes, then nothing else."

"It was a special spell that Master weaved into our badges. Protective spells that were meant to take us to Hellas Empire where we would be able to get help from Naruto-sama since he would be basing himself there temporarily if we encountered any problems." Chachamaru replied stiffly.

"Naru... Oh." Negi chewed his lips as another piece of memory floated to his mind.

Lifeless blue eyes, a pained, bloodied smile and a torn hand reaching out to push him away. The very image seemed to constrict his throat and heart.

"It will be fine." Chachamaru stated confidently when she noticed her classroom teacher's slow downward spiral, laying one comforting hand on his shoulder, "He is fine. He has to be."

Negi drew a deep breath and chastised himself. It was no time to be brooding, "Yeah, Nii-san is too tough for something like that to take down." Silently, they both agreed not to speak about the blonde until they absolutely had to. They had more important things to do; namely finding their wayward classmates.

Negi stood up and squared his shoulder, pushing down the initial urge to panic and rush off to find them, "Do you know where everyone else is? If they had a badge, then they should have been protected as well."

The gynoid shook her head slowly, "Our enemies superimposed a forced transmission spell on top of ours. It threw off the coordinates. At best, they should be scattered all around Hellas, at worst..." she trailed off, leaving a pointed silence in her wake.

"I see..." He rummaged around in his intact pocket and pulled out his Pactio cards, "I wonder..." He steeled his resolve and lifted them to his forehead, "Yue-san? Nodoka-san? Haruna-san? Chisame-san?!"

There was no reply. Negi gritted his teeth, "If that's the case..."

Chachamaru blankly watched the small boy unleash his magic and attempt a forced summoning, "I Summon Thee, Mine Minstral!"

"It's no use." The green haired girl softly said, "The telepathic jamming is easily jammed, on top of that, this area is filled with magic jamming rock crags that interfere with that function. Summoning might have worked, but there's a five to ten kilometre limit. If they are any further than that, it won't work."

Negi sat down again and sighed heavily before taking notice of the small bundle on Chachamaru's lap. Unless Naruto or Chachamaru asked her to, the small fox girl rarely if ever reverted to her full kitsune form ever since she had gotten used to staying with her adopted parents, preferring to dance around looking like a little girl, "Is Akako... alright?" Negi winced at the incredibly stupid and thoughtless question. The green haired gynoid seemed to ponder the question as she ran one hand through Akako's dull and almost lifeless pelt gently, "She is..." The small fox huffed through her nose quietly and buried herself in Chachamaru's lap, curling up into a tight trembling little ball of fur, "She says that she's tired." Chachamaru finally concluded with a little hitch in her voice before smiling wanly, "She'll be fine."

As the ten year old laid a comforting hand on her shoulder and smiled reassuringly, the gynoid chuckled lowly. Before Negi had awoken, she had told herself that she needed to be his pillar of support in the wilderness, but now it seemed as if the younger boy was the one comforting her.

Negi hummed unsurely before turning around, "I'm going to find somewhere high to see if I can determine where we are."

"Are you sure that you are well enough for that?" Chachamaru inquired worriedly.

The short boy laughed awkwardly, "I'll be alright, besides I won't go far." He pointed at a rocky outcropping that reached for the sky somewhere east of them, its tip just barely poking out through the thick foliage, "Just over there."

Despite his assurance, Chachamaru stood up gracefully and followed her homeroom teacher without another word, gently depositing the small kitsune on her head where she simply snuffled quietly.

When they reached the top, Negi was taken aback by the sheer size of the untouched panorama before him. The setting sun threw a dusky red hue on everything before the small boy, making it almost ethereally beautiful if not for the niggling frustration at the back of his mind.

"It's... huge... How are we going to find anyone here?" Negi whispered despondently.

"We can start by finding out where WE are first." Chachamaru replied in a matter of fact tone as she pulled out a map that she had downloaded at the port before it was... destroyed.

At any rate, as two of them struggled to determine their locations by observing the new landscape and the stars, her finger slowly matriculated towards the empty land between Elysium and Hellas, "We are in the Great Cerberus Forest, not too far off from Hellas. Slightly less than 5000 kilometres North north east from here, and 10000 kilometres east to Megalomesembria." She concluded before pointing at the various white dots on the map, "I have also run a scan to look for any responses from the badges. We are fortunate in that there are quite a few of us scattered within range. Although, it seems that the numbers do not add up, this means that there are a few of them outside my range."

"Then... we should pick them up before heading to Hellas? We might be able to get help from them before going off towards Megalomesembria and picking everyone else up on the way..." Negi frowned a little at the mother and daughter pair's almost tangible sadness at the mention of Hellas, and struggled to find another topic.

"Hmmm?" inspecting the map a little closer, Negi cocked his head, "What... are those black dots? There's one beside us."

Chachamaru stiffened at the question, "That..." She slowly unfroze and slipped a hand into her pocket to pull out a small black brooch. On her head, the small red fox shuffled a little, lifting her snout to show Negi the same badge pinned to the ribbon around her neck, "It is... was the emblem that Master made for Naruto. She felt the irony would be amusing."

Negi swallowed slowly, feeling it strangely hard to tear his eyes away from the black wing badges, "What do you mean?"

"Ala Alba and its brother team, the Ala Atra. The White and Black wings."

****True Faith****

Blue eyes slowly peeled back heavy eyelids, wincing slightly as a bright beam of sunlight hit his retina directly from the open sky light. They blinked slowly. The sapphire orbs eyes painstakingly panned around the room to understand where he was by swivelling around their sockets, simply because his neck was feeling incredibly stiff. So was his entire body for that matter.

Indifferently, they rolled back to the open skylight with one arm gradually lifted up to shield his visual organs from the bright glare of sunlight reflecting off the ceiling which seemed to be made of nothing but glass.

"Oh, you're awake." A cheerful voice interrupted his ruminations.

Sapphire eyes slowly rolled downwards and took in the newcomer's profile. She was a lightly tanned blonde, of above average height; and lean musculature that was not meant for prolonged fighting but allowed for a strong and enduring body, and... Were those horns?

Analytical information slowly filtered into his consciousness. He was not even sure why he was thinking about something like kill points.

"Where... am... I?" He slowly croaked haggardly, his throat feeling as if someone had taken a hammer to it before pouring sand down his mouth, gratefully accepting the cup filled with crystal clear water, poured from a jug on his bedside.

"We found you unconscious in the castle's royal garden." The blonde woman chirped happily, "The princess allowed me to take care of you until you felt better."

"Prin-cess?" He tried to place the cup back on the table with shaking hands, achieving limited success when the glass landed with a loud crack.

"Princess Theodora?" Seeing his flat look, she tried again, "Third princess of the Hellas Empire?"

When her patient shook his head resolutely, the blonde woman sighed, "Well, let's try it another way, what's your name?"

The blonde man lying on the bed seemed to stare at her uncomprehendingly for a few seconds before he tilted his head and blinked slowly, "I... am not... sure."

The nurse seemed to pause for a moment at his answer before digging in the pockets of her pink nurse uniform for something, "Here, this might help you remember something. You were holding on to them pretty tightly when I found you."

The pained expression deepened as she pulled out three items that were shaped like a playing cards, all three of them were bleached a pure white save for the front where three different pictures, each card was emblazoned with a title and different types of equipment, the nurse leaned forward with an expectant expression, "They look a little different than normal but I'm sure these are Pactios."

The first of them was a blonde garbed in a light blue long coat and equipped with a long metallic weapon of some sort while he held a mask up to his face. The second of these was the exact same man, garbed in a red version of the long coat. He stood in the middle, as if leaning on the back of the card with his hands in his pockets while nine delicate and glowing crystals floated in the air around him. The last of them however, was a very beautiful woman sitting under a tree as she cradled a sword. He didn't know her... but felt that she was very important somehow, almost familiar.

The dark eyed nurse almost sighed in relief when she saw the man's eyes light up with a spark of recognition, only to deflate again as the spark was clouded over by extreme pain. The man grabbed his head and groaned in pain as his temples seriously began to throb, it felt as if there was a splinter or a nail digging its way through the soft brain tissue in his head, or as if something wanted to get out, but couldn't. Seeing his wrenched expression, the nurse immediately rushed to his side and hurriedly laid a calming hand on his shoulder, "It's alright, you don't have to remember everything right now. We can take it easy for now."

The furrowed expression instantly cleared, returning to another blank slate as the blonde man laid back on to the bed as instructed.

She heaved a sigh and smiled briefly, "Well... why don't you just rest for now. I'll come back later, maybe with some books or something. Would you like that?"

The near catatonic man simply nodded, though she wasn't entire sure if he was happy about getting some mental stimulation or simply reacting to her words. They both seemed equally likely. Sighing, the nurse left the room with heavy footsteps.

"How was he?" a tall goateed man, dressed in elaborate robes inquired in a soft measured tone as he observed the woman step behind a changing screen.

The nurse sighed and rubbed her temples as she released her hair from its strict ponytail, "No good. It was worse than we thought. Though his injuries are healing extremely quickly, he doesn't remember anything much, if at all."

Princess Theodora stepped out from behind the screens, shaking her hair out with an elegant shake of the head and joined the older man who was watching the blonde in the other room blankly stare at the ceiling from behind a one way mirror.

"The only reason that I allowed you to take care of him instead of throwing him into the dungeons for trespassing was because you were convinced that he was the Black Paladin, even though we know nothing about him." The dignified man slowly spoke with a pointed look, "What will you do if this wasn't worth it? Especially with the meeting with Anheuser to decide who hosts the Tournament is coming up soon."

Troubled onyx eyes turned from her patient to the man who was her advisor and her father's advisor before her, Lord Ashram, and doubt filled her, "Despite the rumours about him dying, I thought it was him for sure. His appearance matched the general description I had been given, and he had my personal emblem in his grasp. That was the only way he could have appeared in my personal garden." She murmured quietly.

The tall elderly man with greying brown hair smiled softly and laid a hand on the young woman's shoulders, marvelling at how frail she looked despite the burden she carried, "It'll be alright. The meeting is not for days, for now, we shall see how it goes. Though it is doubtful if we'll succeed, I'll see if we can contact your uncle to help us in his place instead."

"A replacement representative might not make it in time, especially not with all this turmoil, but please see if you can get in contact with Konoe-sama anyway; ultimately, his influence is what matters." Theodora quietly ordered.

"Very well." The man bowed elegantly, "With your leave?"

Nodding silently, Theodora returned to watching the blonde man who was now fingering his patient robes with an intense expression as her advisor left the room, the sounds of his steel toed boots making a loud clicking sound on the silent marble floors.

The day before the Black Paladin was supposed to arrive and serve as part of her Royal Guard to the Pre-Tournament meeting, rumours of the B-rank Archmage's death had begun to spread and she had retreated to her garden to think of an alternative, something she always done ever since she was a child, only to find the blonde man taking a dirt nap in her private little garden located inside the veritable fortress that served as her family's home. A small little piece of heaven that very few people knew about and even fewer could access.

Given the way things had been going lately, his appearance had been a nice little bright spot in an otherwise terrible day filled with bleak news about Mundus Magicus' link to Mundus Vetus being destroyed one after another by a group of supposed terrorists... even if he had been slowly bleeding out on her favourite lilies.

****True Faith****

Negi hefted the makeshift bag that contained everything of their meagre supplies and set his jaw, "Are you ready, Chachamaru-nee chan?"

The gynoid who had been sitting on a boulder, gently stroking Akako's fur again, was jolted from her daze, "Oh... Hai." She replied gently and stood up, carefully tucking the small bundle of fur into her dress. Nodding, the two of them began moving at a light but speedy jog across, heading for the closest town outside the Cerberus Forest.

It was several hours of nonstop running and moving when they finally came to a rolling stretch of white sand, signifying that three of them had finally reached the eastern coastline. Slowing down to a stop, Negi paused to squint into the horizon, "As long as we follow this beach north, we should reach the mountains soon, and beyond that will be the closest town." He murmured softly.

"Negi-sensei, my sensors are picking up one of 3-A near us." The gynoid seemed to look around for a moment, the mechanisms at the tip of her ears making a whirring sound as they scanned the area, "I cannot tell who it is but we are close. South East."

The younger red head smiled widely for the first time in two days, "Let's hurry, we have to make sure if she is safe."

"Understood." Her sensors began beeping as she picked up something organic closing in on their location with great speed. "Sense-" her warning was cut off when the sand under them shifted with a rumble. A massive blur leapt out of the tangled underbrush and swiped at the two people, sending both of them crashing to the ground and driving the air out of their lungs, "Negi-sensei!"

Play Naruto OST – Strike and Strong

The younger red head grunted as he struggled to push back a huge jaw hell bent on biting him in two, "I'm fine!" Above the jaw and beady intelligent eyes, the two ivory horns began sparking with latent electricity. "Nuuoooh!" Putting all the strength into his arms, the boy who was absolutely tiny compared to the beast lifted it up and slammed it onto its back with a loud rumble.

The green haired girl instantly scrambled to his side and helped him up as the two of them stood tense against the pissed off beast. Just as it leapt towards them with another roar, Negi automatically pulled the gynoid back, protecting her and Akako from harm before darting forwards under its snapping jaws and launched an upper cut, "Raikahouken!" before releasing three arrows of light from his other hand directly into its exposed chest with a cry, blasting the huge winged tiger backwards into the surf with a yelp.

Negi landed back beside Chachamaru with a grimace, "There was something wrong. I didn't feel my attacks landing properly, but it should be enough to keep it occupied for now; we should leave before it gathers its wits."

"I'm afraid that is not possible, Negi-sensei." Chachamaru replied quietly, "We appear to be surrounded by its pack." Her sleeves were torn apart as her forearms transformed into two massive blades and the two of them stood back to back as several smaller tiger dragons emerged from the brush with aggressive growls, "It appears that the one you attacked is their mother." She observed neutrally. Behind them, the largest one slowly loomed above the waters with a deep angry growl, looking no worse for the wear.

Negi clenched and unclenched his fist as he carefully watched the four tiger dragons surround them, "What a wonderful time to lose my staff. This ring isn't very good at channelling large spells."

"Please stand back, Negi-sensei. Your magic will only hinder us here." She quietly said before darting off on her own towards the two nearest tiger dragons, swinging her huge blades expertly to score several light slashes on their front legs. Nothing on Earth or Magicus Mundus could have made Negi listen to that particular suggestion and the red head went for another tiger dragon, beating it down with his magic enhanced fists, all the while releasing spell after spell with a fierceness that rivalled Chachamaru's blades at the ones encircling his sister in law. He was fully aware that his spells were doing little next to nothing to the beasts, simply sizzling out as they splashed on a pale blue barrier, but he figured it that distracting them from being able to corner Chachamaru was better than nothing.

Side stepping a large paw that would have smashed her into the sand, Chachamaru gracefully spun in mid air with her blades outstretched, furiously slashing at her attacker's thick hide. The cuts were lighter and thinner than she would have liked but beggars couldn't be choosers. She landed on the beast's snout and kicked off, left arm momentarily switching into a heavy machine gun that she unloaded into its eyes with a series of loud thundering cracks. When she landed again, the gun morphed back into a sword and the green haired girl crossed both blades, stopping another massive paw from shredding her into ribbons when a blast of lightning hit her behind, "KYAAH!"

She hit the ground rolling, arms hugging herself to protect the furiously struggling ball of fur tucked in her dress. Panting a little, she slowly got up, ignoring the tear in her dress.

"Chachamaru-nee chan!"

"I'm alright," She called back breathlessly as she tried to get a handle on Akako, "Akako? What's wrong? Why won't you be still?"

The small kitsune bite her fingers before leaping free of her hold. The tiny fox which was barely longer than the smallest tiger dragon's claws was bristling angrily, "You hurt mama."

Akako began to glow with a bright orange aura, "No one hurts MAMA!"

"Wa-wait, Akako!" The aura exploded outwards, enveloping the gynoid with a strange gentleness, before slowly dissipating. Where the tiny kitsune used to be was a horse sized fox with two tails that were literally on fire. The tails swished violently, before the strange fox roared an ear piercing call and jumped on the four far larger tiger dragons in a fierce whirl of fur, tails, claws and fangs, evading blasts of magic, lightning with ease thanks to her preternaturally slim and agile build.

Gracefully leaping over a wing, the fox landed lightly on one on the tiger's back and hung on with her claws. Fangs crunched down on a barrier as ruby eyes narrowed into feral slits. With a loud crack, her fangs destroyed the barrier and the fox wrung the tiger dragon around like a rag doll despite its size dwarfing hers. Her two tails lashed out and wrapped up the two smaller tiger dragons in their embrace before flinging the two hapless beasts far out into the sea. Dropping the limp body in her jaws, the large kitsune slowly turned around to face the largest and absolutely furious tiger dragon whose horns were already sparking with more electricity.

Emitting another roar, globes of black and blue energy began coalescing in the fox's jaw, forming an incredibly dense black orb, before the two of the let loose. The massive waves of destructions clashed momentarily before the fiery red beam overcame the blue lightning and exploded outwards, devouring the screaming tiger dragon with finality.

When the light died down enough for them to see again, the larger than normal kitsune huffed once at the black spot, literally spitting flames, before slowly turning around to face the two open mouthed people staring at her.

She took a hesitant step forwards before sort of belly flopping onto the soft sand with an apprehensive whimper, covering her snout with two paws, afraid that her mother would hate her new form. Her long and floppy ears laid back downwards as her pupils returned to their natural round shape.

Negi rapidly blinked, "Wha... Akako? Is that y-" when he heard cloth rustling. Without hesitation, the gynoid gracefully stepped up to the kitsune and fearlessly hugged the snout that was almost as large as her torso.

She sighed disapprovingly despite having a loving smile on her lips, "You have your father's temper."

****True Faith****

Blue eyes looked up from the pages of the book that he had been reading, glimmering inquisitively as the nurse he had become rather familiar with throughout her daily visits, though he was still unaware of her name, stepped in through the door with two men behind her.

She smiled at the blonde man slightly as she reached forward to wipe his mouth with a handkerchief. It was rather cute despite his appalling lack of manners, not that she could blame him. Then again ever since she the first time she had brought him some book as entertainment, he devoured them as rapidly as he devoured food. Even now, he was continuously eating and reading without any pause, "Are you feeling better today?"

"There have been no changes that I noticed." He replied softly before looking over the two dark skinned men, "May I know who are they?"

The woman in the pink blouse briefly glanced over her shoulders, "These are my friends. One of them is a doctor that will be trying to see if he can help you. He is one of the best practitioners in the Hellas Empire, if anyone can help you, it'll be him." She gestured to the other man, "This is Lord Ashram, he is a personal friend and a powerful mage." The silver haired man regally bowed with a genteel smile while the blonde clumsily tried to mimic the bow with limited success considering the fact that he was still confined to the bed.

Other than that, the blonde didn't react as the cranky looking stick of a man made his way to the bed side and held his hands over the blonde's head, chanting under his breath as a host of cute looking fairies materialized and began hovering around his body. Curiously, he poked one of the fairy like things, causing it to giggle and blush, before poking back as the doctor scanned him with a larger and larger frown that worried the nurse.

When he finally dropped his outstretched arms again, the nurse stepped forwards, "So? What's wrong with him?"

"Mmmm..." The old man in a doctor's uniform scratched the back of his head furiously and dispelled the little spirits that were floating around a blank faced blonde man, "Physically he's fine, but his mental state is a whole different piece of cake. I can't even say whether or not it's temporary because his amnesia isn't... natural."

"What do you mean? Someone cast a spell on him?"

"I really can't say... Usually, when we use a memory erasing spell, the memory in question is completely deleted from the person's brain. In normal cases of patients with general amnesia, the memory is sort of locked away in a compartment of the brain due to a disruption of the unlocking mechanism as a result of some sort of trauma." The doctor placed his fingers around the man's eyes pulled his eyelids back and peered into the sky blue irises with a frown, the blonde didn't even try to resist, "When I first checked him, I assumed that it was a spell since there wasn't a single trace of his memories remaining. But then I scanned deeper... all his memories, his personality, everything that makes a person; a person, are locked inside his EYES and I've never seen a more complex lock." The doctor shrugged helplessly, "The conditions for unlocking them could be anything. Up to and including his death."

The tall man standing behind the nurse sighed, "Well? What are your plans now Dora? Konoe was unable to contact Namikaze-san, and a replacement will not arrive in time for the meeting. Your uncle might be able to do something, but he won't get here till tomorrow."

"There's no helping it then..." The nurse seemed to stand just that bit straighter and spoke, "Can you get something black for him to wear? A cloak maybe, or something suitably mysterious that will make it harder for people to identify him properly."

"I see." The silver haired old man nodded as he guessed what his princess planned to do, "It will be done. Should I assume that he will be accompanying you to the interview?"

She nodded, "We just need for the Black Paladin to appear as if he was supporting us. Besides, Konoe already agreed." She could have found someone to just impersonate the intimidating enforcer; however she could not risk the media finding out that the imposter was using Transformation Magic, something that would have been very obvious since the magic interference would have blurred the image that was plastered on the other side of the screen. Not to mention that his whisker marks were rather distinctive, Theodora reasoned to herself, though she was hard pressed to get rid of the nagging guilt of using an innocent like this.

She bent down to face level with the blonde, "Namikaze-san... Is it alright if I call you that?"

The blonde simply shrugged, indifferent.

The name meant nothing to him.

"Can I ask you to help my princess? You see, she has to go to this very important meeting and she needed a bodyguard, but he didn't come. So I can ask you to pretend to be him for a while?" She spoke softly.

He cocked his head, "Why me?"

Theodora hesitated, "Well... you look like him."

He slowly nodded and his eyes glimmered with a child-like determination, "You helped me, I don't know why, but I feel... bad if I cannot help you back."

The woman smiled brightly, "Alright, Lord Ashram will be coming by soon with something suitable for you to wear. You don't have to do anything, just stand beside her."


It took a few short minutes for the blonde to pull on the thick swarthy black cloak but when he was done, the nurse whistled lowly, "He might look even scarier than the REAL Black Paladin." She admitted. The black cape with starched collar only served to enhance his already lean physique and rippling muscles under the black material with a decorative sword attached to his waist while the blonde's naturally blank face was far more intimidating than any mask that they could find.

Touching his shoulder gently, she smiled, "I'll go and let my Princess know that we're ready alright? Just wait for her to come here."

The blonde mechanically nodded and stayed standing upright like a golem simply waiting for his next orders.

It was rather unnerving, and quite frankly, gave Theodora enough confidence that her wild plan might actually work. She whirled around and began walking at a quick pace, "Well... Time to begin this dog and pony show."

****True Faith****

"Oh, so that's what it meant..."

The nurse gave the blonde who had been devouring book after book with a desperation that matched that of a drowning man holding onto a life line while munching on a biscuit. It had gotten to the point where her kitchen staff had begun complaining about the blonde man's appetite so she had suggested that they tide him over with small snacks until it was time for a main meal, though she also noted that no matter what happened, he kept the Pactio card of the flame haired woman and the large sword with him at all times. Never leaving it out of his grasp for even a moment, "You really like reading and eating don't you?"

She leaned back into her chair a little wearily as she waited for his answer, feeling strangely drained after a simple yet unnerving interview where so many things could have gone wrong.

The blonde on the bed shut the latest book with some finality and looked at her blankly before shaking his head, "Not reading. I was... hungry."

She wrinkled up her nose in confusion, "You read when you're hungry?"

He shook his head emphatically before touching his head, his heart and his stomach, "I feel empty. Like I am..." He struggled to find the right word, "Non-existent. Reading makes my head feel a little better and eating makes my body feel a little better as well... but if I stop, the emptiness returns." He frowned, "I don't like it."

Theodora frowned, but before she could express her thoughts, someone knocked on the door, "Yes?"

The door opened quietly and a maid stepped in carrying a large platter of exotic food, "It's time for lunch, Prin-" the nurse glared at her and the short girl gulped as she carefully placed the platter down in front of the blonde, "Uhm, Namikaze-san."

"Thanks, Sarah."

The maid bowed with a cute grin, "You're welcome, Dora." The name caused the nurse to roll her eyes before turning back to the reclining blonde man and grinned with amusement. Despite the impassive face, whenever they gave him something new to taste, the blonde's eyes always lighted up with so much joy that it was almost wrong to consider it childish.

"Slow down," She chided the furiously chewing man, "It's not going anywhere."

He swallowed once, before obediently picking his food at a much slower pace.

The nurse that he now knew was named Dora smiled before leaning forward with a wide smile, "So what did you think about Princess Theodora? She's pretty good looking right?"

He slowly chewed on the shrimp with a neutral expression, "She looked scared and worn out."

The blonde woman blanched and hoped that no one else noticed, "Was it that obvious? I knew she should have put on more make up but I mean... It was just a simple interview..." she sighed again, "She has it hard you know, she's only ten years old and third in line for the throne."

The Namikaze silently watched the woman bury her face in the soft blankets, and continue her complaints in a muffled tone, "But her two older brothers are too busy flirting around the palace to bother or hiding in his room playing that stupid Vetus game, that's part of why I wanted the Namikaze you know."

Her face was drawn and haggard from sleeplessness as she punched the pillow in a fit of childish pique, "I heard that his company was the one supplying those weird movies from the Old World and thought he'd be able to snap Tristan out of his anime funk... then stupid Anheuser has to go and try all this crap while her father is sick... The King wanted a place where everyone could live together in peace, Hellas, human or beast but that old goat has get on his stupid high dragon and go spew his 'Oh, all humans are trash, we should kick them out. They're not worthy.' crap. So she's stuck trying to keep everything in one piece while everyone fools around..."

She jerked upwards and pouted cutely at the silent blonde, "Neh? Are you really listening?"

The blonde nodded slowly. Though the general context was far outside of his current grasp, he understood the literal meaning of the words and that Dora was feeling nervous. Awkwardly, he obeyed the instinct to pet her horns, causing the nurse to laugh softly, "Are you trying to make me feel better?"

He nodded mechanically.

"Thank-" She shot upright as the compound's intruder alert began blaring in her mind. Just then the door was blasted open by a fatigued guard who breathlessly gave his report, "Theodora-sama, the castle has been invaded. We don't know how they managed to get past security or suppress it this long. They've already set fire to the West and South Wing."

With a hurried, "Stay here. You'll be safe." The woman in her pale pink nurse's dress followed the guard out of the room with a tense expression.

Play Naruto Shippuden OST – Gekiha

Uncaring, Naruto leaned back into his bed with barely a change in expressions, studying the almost ethereally beautiful woman in the card for the umpteenth time. He didn't know why, but unlike food or books, this one stopped the pain in his heart. It was almost like there was literally a vacuum in his chest. He was about to take yet another bite out of the food in front of him when the door exploded again.

This time literally, as a group of hulking men swathed in tight black suits entered through the burning remains, "That him?" one of them asked gruffly.

"He matches the description." The one furthest back replied curtly, "Careful, the dossier says that he's extremely skilled and dangerous."

The largest one chuckled, his stone ringing out in the room like rock grating on rock, pointing at the slowly chewing blonde with one large finger, "Dangerous? He's practically butt naked and just look at that stupid look on his face."

"Just take him out. 3 million drachma is no laughing matter. If he really is as weak as you think he is, all the better for us isn't it?" The wisest of the six men retorted.

Snorting derisively, the hulking man stepped forward, unsheathing the large axe on his back, "Sorry about this kiddo, but no hard feelings eh? It's just business and we have a reputation to maintain." he hefted the axe high above his head with bunched muscles before launching a massive powerful cleave attack.

The best way to describe what the amnesiac did then was to say that he reacted. Muscle memory providing him with incredible flexibility, speed and his eyes flicked around the room rapidly almost out of habit, giving him an innate assessment of the situation and useful tools, similar to how he had analysed the nurse, or anyone really, the first time he met her.

Back flipping out of bed, the blonde stuck to the ceiling like some deranged spider, scuttling around as he avoided the blasts of spell fire. Sticking his fingers to the stone ceiling with liberal amounts of... something, he vaulted downwards and caught the nearest man in black between his knees and twisted with a satisfying crack before letting go, swooping down onto the downed man's body in a predatorial crouch and smoothly pulling out the sheathed curved scimitars on his back. Whirling the two blades expertly, he simply stood there with a distant expression and blades hanging loosely from his grip.

The five men instantly went into a defensive formation as the smallest and definitely smartest of the group began casting fire spells all over the room, "Light the area up! Don't give him any space for his acrobatic-Gurk!" the glinting edge of a scimitar, dripping with his blood, sprouted from his chest mid sentence before jerking upwards in a flash of blood and steel.

"What the hell?! When did he get here!?" one of them cried out as the four of them circled around the stationary and detached blonde, "Don't attack! He won't fight back if you don't do anything!"

Another snorted angrily, "Don't attack? What do you propose we do then? Wait for Theodora and her guards to get here or let the fire burn us first?"

"We go all at once, make a net around him; make sure he has nowhere to dodge or counter!"

Naruto watched indifferently as they spread out and began filling the air with dangerously sparking spells that floated around him, waiting for a command before undoubtedly shooting straight for him.

"NOW!" four men and a whole host of spells shot at him.

He simply reacted.

****True Hunter****

Coughing badly, Theodora pushed her way through the throng of bodies towards where she could see several water mages casting wave upon wave on the red and green fires that were currently devouring the South Wing.

"Report! What's happening?!"

A soot blackened guard in Imperial armour ran up to her, looking distinctly afraid of the angry expression on her face, "It seems as if they were timed explosives. No further sightings or fires have been reported but some maids have reported seeing a group of men in black leaving the castle directly after."

"Doesn't that seem a little pointless? Causing a few fires and nothing else?" Theodora quietly mumbled to herself.


A calm and familiar deep baritone that belonged to her advisor, Lord Ashram cut through the loud chatter, "It's a diversion, everyone check if anything Important was stolen! Someone see if Prince Terran and Tristan are alright!"

Biting her lip, the Third Imperial Princess paled before running off again, her long legs loping through the wide corridors towards the Infirmary with an urgent sense of purpose. When she reached the oldest part of the castle where the Infirmary was located, she had to suppress a gasp at the smoke and flames pouring out of the open door and the iron tang of incredible battle magic suffusing the air.

Enveloping herself with a sturdy magic barrier, Theodora burst through the wall of fire before skidding to a stop, feeling her jaw go slack.

For a split second, she saw the blonde stranger standing unharmed in the midst of an ocean of red and green flames, clad in a black long coat with silver studs and a steel mask, handling a 5 foot long crude sword made of some sort of black metal in his right hand as if it was as light as a feather.

The team of intruders that had gotten through the castles defences were crucified to the walls with miniature versions of the same black sword that the man was wielding. The man in the black long coat looked up at her and their eyes connected for a barely a tenth of a second.

And the second ended; the silver mask shattered into dust to reveal a face that was almost coldly calculating in its ferocity and the swords disappeared, letting the groaning bloody lumps of flesh slide down into the inferno. It had been so quick that Theodora had to wonder if she didn't imagine it all.

Someone kicked the rest of door down from behind her and warily joined her by her side, "Well... At least now we know he's fireproof." Lord Ashram commented.

****True Faith****

Author's Note

Best wishes, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Some people asked me why I didn't do song lyrics the way I used to at important plot points in my fics the way I did before. It was mostly because someone pointed out that it violated the ToS of FF dot net and I was liable to get banned for it, this was during the fanfic witch hunts of course, so I stopped but kept in those that were already done and just put in prompts instead. Some liked it, some didn't.

Meh, me thinks it loses some emotional impact that I wanted to bring but I'm okay with it I guess. Kishi's just happy he doesn't have to clean up the font and everything anymore. xDDD

P.P.S: Was it me or did Kishimoto finally confirm the Naru Hina pairing? Cos I'm seeing a lot stuff from them all of a sudden.