A Leaf in the Wind
Summary: It has been six months since the events in the Land of Waves and the Chunin exams are approaching. A young Samurai decides to accept an invitation, will learn secrets of her past, and must choose the path of her future.
Disclaimer: Naruto is the property of Masashi Kishimoto, the characters and original plot completely belong to him. I'm just burrowing his characters for a while... what the hell I'm borrowing his characters, reimagining them and tossing them into an alternate story of my choosing... that's what fanfiction is all about.
She sat on her knees in the shadow of an age old oak tree, chest exhaling and inhaling slowly as she took in and released calming breathes of air. A light breeze brushed past her, ruffling her unkempt mane of blonde hair as she fell deeper into her trance, a form of meditation passed down to her by her sensei.
Naruto took in another deep breath and hummed in elation, for but a moment forgetting that she was supposed to be meditating. She couldn't help it though, being in this climate, far away from any signs of civilization, where the air was clear and the water crisp, so different from the air of towns and cities she had visited these past several months.
Suddenly he shook her head, bringing her hands up to smack lightly into her whiskered cheeks to bring herself back to reality. This was not the time to lavish in the tranquillity of her surroundings. This was the time to quieten her mind and meditate, to fall into that trance and find the answers she was seeking.
It was a shame that she wasn't cut out for meditation.
She spent a further half hour in that state, attempting to find her spiritual centre and failing miserably. The longer she spent sitting still the more impatient she became. Finally she growled low in her throat, a growl which morphed into a howl of frustration.
"Why the hell is this so hard!?" she exclaimed in frustration and anger.
"Perhaps you're thinking too much, Naruto." A soft voice chided softly from high above her. Naruto's head snapped up, blonde hair flailing with the movement, to the thick branches of the tree she was taking refuge under to level a glare at her companion and self appointed retainer. He had started to open up to her as they continued to travel but he had also gained a bit of a streak in sarcasm.
"Haku, you're really not helping."
The Ice Ninja looked down from his perch on one of the oak trees thickest branches, taking a few moments from reading his book to study his companion as she fumed below him. "Perhaps you should think of something calming, like a babbling brook or a field of flowers."
The glare his friend threw his way said everything about his opinion and with a sigh the Land of Water native went back to his reading. "That's what I've been trying to do this whole time."
"Hmm," Haku hummed under his breath, absently turning a page. "Then perhaps we should change strategies, maybe instead of thinking of calming things you should think of nothing."
"Think of nothing?" Naruto asked with a frown.
"Yeah, like clearing your mind of any thoughts and emotions." Haku continued, eyes dancing right and left as he continued to read and give out advice. Meditation was something he only knew in passing. "I know it will be difficult, with your tendency to be a little hyperactive on occasion, but it is worth a try."
Once again he ignored the glare his female charge sent his way, remaining silent as he watched her roll then relax her shoulders, close her eyes and wait as she attempted to fall back into some sort of meditative trance. He mentally counted the peace and quiet until her next outburst, three minutes and forty two seconds.
She cried out in annoyance, right hand forming into a fist which she then slammed into the dirt to her side. "Why is this so hard?"
"I've been meaning to ask this Naruto, but why are you trying to meditate?" Haku noticed her go rigid for a moment before looking back at him. "I mean meditation isn't really something tendered to your personality, and there is no real advantage to you being able to use it from what I can see, yet you have persisted on it for the last four months and not really gotten anywhere."
Naruto looked at him for a long moment, then sighed and reached over for her katana, picking it up midway along its sheathed form and bringing it up to eyelevel. She placed her other hand on the hilt, and unsheathed a few centimetres, just enough for the glistening liquid steel of the blade to become visible for a moment before snapping it shut again.
Haku watched the scene, attention now fully on his charge. He noticed her whiskered cheeks crinkle slightly as she cracked a feral smile. "You'll think I'm crazy if I tell you."
"I think you're plenty crazy now." Haku replied, snapping his book shut and swinging his legs over the branch to dangle in midair.
"It's to do with this sword." Naruto began, eyes not leaving the well crafted weapon held in her hands. "Do you remember the battle we had on the bridge?"
"Yeah, I remember." Haku replied, grimacing slightly at the memory.
"When you had beaten me I was all but spent, another blow probably would have finished me." Naruto set the katana back on the ground, continuing to stare at it. "It was then that I heard a voice."
"Yeah, a voice," Naruto affirmed, looking up and twitching slightly when she saw the slight frown mar the Water Country natives features. "And don't look at me like that! I'm not crazy."
"I didn't say anything," Haku placated softly. "What exactly did the voice say?"
"Some very colourful things, called me an idiot and a moron for one." Naruto replied with a shrug of her shoulders, "Kept telling me over and over again to call her name."
"How do you know the voice was a she?"
"I just know." Naruto replied, clearly becoming very nervous as the conversation progressed, eyes on the ground and shoulders rising and falling in another shrug.
Haku sighed, "Relax Naruto, I don't think you're crazy. Just tell me."
Naruto was silent for a long moment. "I think the voice I heard was from the sword."
Haku tilted his head to the side, and then gazed upon the sheathed weapon lying in front of her cross-legged form. He scanned it for a long moment before closing his eyes in concentration. "So the voice came from the sword, as in it being sentient?"
"I don't know," Naruto shook her head. "I do remember a few lectures Sensei gave me about the sword when he first gave it to me. He told me that I had to learn to communicate with it, learn from it, and know it. I originally thought he simply meant that I needed to learn how to use it in combat, but now I'm not so sure."
Haku was silent, himself thinking.
"Hey, Haku," Naruto spoke up after a long moment, hand absently patting the weapons scroll hidden within the folds of her kimono. "If I remember correctly Kirigakure had seven swords with supernatural properties, including the one sealed in this scroll... were there ever any stories, myths that they could... you know?"
"Be sentient?" Haku asked, seeing a nod from his master. "There were a lot of myths and stories about those swords. It was a well known superstition that the swords chose the masters and not the other way around, and more than one of them seemed to be alive."
"Alive?" Naruto asked.
"Hmm," Haku nodded his head thoughtfully. "There was one, called Samehada. I had only seen it once, before Zabuza-sama and I abandoned the village, but it immediately put me on edge. It seemed to be alive, exuding an aura of hunger and animal instinct, though it never spoke."
"I'm guessing the wielders of the seven swords were very secretive of them?"
"More or less," Haku agreed as he placed his closed book into the confines of his own kimono. "Samehada was the only real one I can think off. The others, including Zabuza-sama's own, didn't give off the same aura. They were weapons fused with some kind of power, giving them supernatural abilities but never giving off any sign of being fully sentient."
"I see." Naruto sighed.
"All I can say about the seven swords is that they are unique. There had never been any created like them before or since in the history of the elemental nations." Haku leaned back, dark eyes looking up at the clear blue sky. It had been difficult to speak about Zabuza-sama or anything related to him at first, but now he could talk about his former master and not feel a pang of pain in his heart.
Then he felt it, several presences approaching from up ahead. Using his hands he pushed himself from the branch and landed easily on the ground, even as Naruto reached for her sword and slowly rose to her feet, cracking her shoulder blades as she did so.
"I know," Naruto replied, feeling a nice pop as she rolled her head in a circle. "About time they decided to show up. Let's go Haku."
"I'm right behind you, Naruto-sama."
The two walked from the shade of their oak tree into the clearing, a large mass of flat land at the edge of a large lake which must have been a full kilometre across. It reminded Haku somewhat of a similar plot in the Land of Waves, the site of the failed ambush between his former master and the Konoha Shinobi.
Naruto placed her sheathed katana into her obi sash as she walked, reaching into her kimono to pull out a familiar piece of cloth which she then used to tie back her long blonde locks into a ponytail tightly and perfectly, her azure eyes did not waver though, looking across the flat land at their target.
There were about a dozen men at the other side of the clearing, dressed in chipped and faded armour and dirty fatigues. The one at the lead was the one who had her undivided attention. He stood a full head taller than his associates, tall and lanky with slicked back greasy hair, a lit cigarette clamped in his teeth and a katana at his hip.
The look of irritation was well seen on the leaders face as he saw the two of them approach, and his associates were also beginning to get edgy, hands on the hilts of their motley assortment of weapons. Naruto and Haku stopped, and watched as the larger group slowly approached.
"Who the hell are you?" the man demanded in a gruff voice.
"Takeshi Sakamoto, I presume?" Naruto asked in a calm voice, "Leader of the Blood Pack Bandits?"
"Yeah, that's me girly."
"Good," Naruto smiled brightly. "My name is Naruto, my associate here is Haku. We are here as representatives of Hana Yukimura."
He spat his cigarette from his mouth, looking Naruto up and down with a glance which definitely held ill intentions, "Never heard of her, girly."
"Oh, is that so?" Naruto asked, and her bright smile morphed into one without the slightest trace of joy, but as hollow as they come. "Because she remembers you very well, in fact she remembers every waking moment of her time as your captive, maybe you'll remember her better when I tell you the name of her father, Gin Yukimura?"
The big man was thoughtful for a moment, then his lips twisted into a toothy grin, "Oh yeah, that bastard farmer that wouldn't give us some funds for our activities, now I remember. She was a good one alright, her screaming and crying brought a tear to my eye, you know."
"Glad you do," Naruto's smile was completely gone now, replaced by a face of stone yet her eyes told the bandit exactly what she thought of him. She drew her katana slowly and pointed the liquid silver blade right at him. "Takeshi Sakamoto, for the crime of kidnapping, assault and rape I have been sent to bring you in."
"So the local law sends a little girl to do a man's job?" Sakamoto's grin widened as his bodyguards drew their weapons and slowly began to advance. "I didn't expect them to be so inadequate, but I suppose I should thank them. Another little toy for me and my boys to break, I'll have you squealing just like that bitch did."
Haku noticed it, the grip on his masters sword tightening until it was clanking. He didn't move, but simply waited until she gave him the order.
"Haku," the name came out pointedly, with authority so different from the girl a few minutes ago.
It was an order.
"At once, Naruto-sama," Haku responded, hands coming together to form a set of seals; "Kirigakure no Jutsu."
The mist came, seeping into existence with the help of the lake to their right. It wasn't long until it became so thick that it was almost impossible to see ten feet in front of one's face. Naruto and Haku were different though, an advantage of them being partners for the last six months was that they had learned of each other's abilities. Haku had taught Naruto how to see in the mist. It was actually quite simple, pulsing chakra into the ground at their feet to act as sonar, picking up any footfalls within the vicinity. It was actually a more advanced chakra control exercise for the denizens of Kirigakure, a step above water walking.
It wasn't long before voices could be heard, full of confusion and borderline panic. But the duo weren't finished yet, not by a long thought.
"Close them in." Naruto commanded next.
Haku nodded, hands going through a separate set of hand seals, activating his Kekkei Genkai to unleash his signature technique, "Makyō Hyōshō."
The dome of ice began to appear next, hundreds of sheets of ice no different from a mass of mirrors, utilised perfectly with Haku's sonar technique to completely enclose their targets, making sure that their targets could not escape from them. The technique complete Haku let out a breath and caste his eyes to his new benefactor.
"It is done."
"None escaped?" Naruto asked.
"None," Haku clarified.
"Good," Naruto nodded her head, falling into a basic sword fighting stance, blade held to her side. "Take out his guards, but the leader is mine."
"Off course, Naruto-sama," Haku agreed before fading out of her line of vision, moving too and becoming one with the dome of ice mirrors he had created. It wasn't long before the shouts of confusion became screams of panic as Haku began firing off volleys of his signature ice needles and senbon.
Naruto smirked, raising her drawn katana and falling into a basic stance, blade held slightly to the side as she lowered her head and waited for her enemy to make himself known to her line of sight. There she waited, listening closely to the flurry of needles and kunai, the shouts and cries of surprise and confusion.
Then he came.
Her smirk widened into a blood thirsty grin.
He staggered through the thick mist, eyes twitching as he attempted to see through the inhuman barrage before him. He had expected his opponent to be many things, but someone with knowledge of chakra control wasn't one of them. He expected police, soldiers, maybe some wandering mercenaries but not a Ninja.
Ninja never concerned themselves with such regional matters. They usually only concerned themselves with matter of national security, or of exterior threats to the nations sovereignty. They almost never concerned themselves with simple thugs and bandits like them. Even then it was usually a Genin squad with an instructor, and they very rarely hit them head on like this.
He had expected just a handful of police; never had he thought to encounter an experienced individual trained in the arts of a Shinobi. That made for a dangerous adversary. The Samurai was another matter, she would be the weak link of their duo, just strike her and the battle would end.
She was also obviously the leader.
Takeshi felt a grin edge across his face as he drew his katana from his hip and began to wean his way through the thick mist. He could find nothing, attempting and just barely ignoring the sounds of his bodyguards screams of pain and surprise as they were targeted and immobilised, maybe even killed, by the Shinobi's attacks.
Takeshi was ready though, waiting for a projectile to pierce the mists surrounding him. He was more than a simple street thug, with training and ability enough to block and counter things as easy as senbon, shuriken and kunai. He was a former border soldier, one who knew chakra control, not to the extent of a Shinobi, but just enough to be considered adequate.
Then he found his opponent, a grin spread across his features.
It was the Samurai. It was so obvious, even in this thick mist. The long hair done up in a long ponytail flailing in the wind, the just barely visible, round shaped face, the kimono and even the katana held to her side, ready to strike. The stance alone told him that this was the Samurai member of the duo, a swordfighter's stance.
That feminine voice, definitely that of a girl and not of a man. This was definitely the Samurai and not the Ninja who was creating this mist.
That opponent was beatable.
"I must admit that I'm disappointed," Takeshi allowed with a sadistic smirk as he fell into a basic sword-fighting stance. "I was expecting a Shinobi to fight me, not a wannabe Samurai."
"Oh," came the reply, azure eyes opened looking upon him with nothing but contempt. "What makes you think I'm inferior to my partner?"
A flash of movement.
That was all he had seen.
The next thing he saw was her slim frame well within his guard, both hands grasping the hilt of the katana, ready and prepared for a diagonal stroke across his chest. A flash of a smile, another flash of a weapon being brought into a diagonal slash with such speed and precision that all he had seen was a glistening blur of steel, a long silence and finally an explosion of crimson as his own blood flowed from wounds he was unsure he had sustained.
Takeshi could no longer breathe. All of his strength had left him. He fell to his knees, sword falling from weak and limp fingers to fall onto the ground as he continued his descent. He recognised the red across his vision as his own blood, and managed to look behind him in time to see the girl he had so woefully underestimated.
She stood with her back to him, swishing the blade of her katana with such speed that the blood on the blade flew to the ground in a spray of crimson. The blade was just as quickly sheathed within the scabbard, secured by an orange obi sash at her hip. Even with his vision fading he saw the look in her eyes, one of satisfied bloodlust and glee.
"Done," she whispered in a voice not her own, with a smile belonging to someone far older and with more blood on their hands. "Done and done."
Author's Note: The second instalment is up and running, and as to Naruto's bloodlust that will be explained later in the story. I give you three guesses as to who is utilising this technique at the moment.