Naruto (c) Masashi Kishimoto
Beta: AceOfCrows (thanks so much dear!)
Note: If you have read the old version of this chapter and you wish to review it, please submit an anonymous review with your penname. Thank you. R'n"R
It was a balancing act, as they sparred atop bamboo poles in a clearing deep in the forest that surrounded their home. It was one of Madara's training exercises, designed for him by him, to combat Hashirama's mokuton and fighting among ever shifting trees. The bamboo's natural flexibility was the closest Madara could get to Hashirama's ever shifting mokuton branches. Plus, if he or Izuna fell and caught themselves on the top of the poles, the bamboo would cut into their skin; leaving nasty bloodied rings on their palms.
"You're going easy on me, Nii-san!" Izuna was in a horse stance, balancing on the springing poles.
"Am not," Madara growled, Sharingan spinning in his eyes. He was shifting his weight from foot to foot, causing the poles he was standing on to sway slightly. Sweat glistened on his bare skin, crisscrossing the lattice of scars. Some scars were fine, tight and shiny, while others were thick and ropy. His brother's body mirrored his own, though Izuna was a bit shorter than the eighteen-year-old clan leader was.
Izuna flashed a taunting grin, his long black hair tied back in a low ponytail. It was rather humid for an early spring day and his shirt was soaked with sweat. Madara felt his blood boil in excitement and charged at his brother. His footfalls making a hollow thunk-thunk-thunk sound as he ran across the poles. He threw a punch at Izuna's nose, with enough force to break it and maybe crack Izuna's skull.
Izuna blocked, more out of instinct than training. He raised his leg to kick the side of Madara's head but his brother grabbed his ankle, and Izuna countered with a punch. Scoring a hit against Madara who lost his balance. He let go of Izuna and flailed his arms for a split second before regaining it.
"Heh," Madara smirked, "thought you got me there didn't you, Otouto-san?" Madara said has he noted the pout on Izuna's lips. "I'm still one point ahead of you."
"Not for long," Izuna shot back. He was just as determined to win as Madara was. These training sessions kept their skills sharp and it was a nice way to release their highly competitive spirit. Izuna began weaving signs, the exact same signs Madara was mimicking.
"Katon! Gokakyuu no jutsu!" the two Uchiha brothers shouted simultaneously. Both belched giant fireballs that collided with each other and exploded. The shockwave sent both young men flying back at a rather high speed. They smacked loudly into the trees before falling to the ground with a resounding thump.
It took them a few moments to recover, groaning as their bodies protested any form of movement. Madara glanced up at the burning embers before executing a water style jutsu and putting the fire out before it began to spread. He couldn't have a rampaging inferno in his village. Fire meant death and he took an intense pride in being able to utilize fire jutsu. "Shall we call it a draw?" Izuna popped his back.
"Hn." Madara brushed himself off.
"I suppose," Madara sighed. It almost sounded forced, but Izuna knew it was just his brother's way of accepting the fact that he lost. There was only win or lose in his world: no in-between.
"I'm up for a hot bath," Izuna said as he removed his shirt and wrung it out, "and maybe some cold cucumber salad. That sounds good." Izuna licked his lips in anticipation.
"Yeah, it does," Madara agreed, "but it'll have to wait until after I've dealt with my work."
"Maybe for you, but I'm going to go straight home to take a bath and have a snack."
Madara said, "Is everything I've tasked you with done for the day?"
"Naturally," Izuna replied with a bit of arrogance. "I may be fifteen, but I'm not a fool, Nii-san."
Madara bobbed his head in defeat. "You're right. Forgive me."
"Ah, of course you're forgiven," Izuna chirped with a grin as he slung his arm over his brother. And just to be a dick, he planted a big sloppy kiss on his brother's sweaty cheek. "Love ya, Nii-san."
"Get off," Madara chuckled softly as he pushed his brother away. Izuna laughed, pleased to see that he was able to get his normally stoic brother to at least grin a bit. "Let's head back," Madara said and began walking in the direction of their house, Izuna right beside him.
Madara popped the pickled plum into his mouth as he skimmed the document in his hand. The trees outside were beginning to bud and in a few weeks sakura blossoms would be sending their sweet and subtle scent into the air. A scent that all members of the Uchiha clan associated with blood, war and death. The sakura were a perfect reminder of the fragility of life. Regardless, Madara still found himself staring at them from time to time, deep in his thoughts.
A sharp rap on the door stopped him in mid-chew. He finished chewing then swallowed. "Usuke, I told you I don't want to be bothered," the eighteen-year-old clan leader barked. "I'm busy."
"I'm not Usuke," an old woman's raspy voice sounded and the door opened a second later. A hunched old woman hobbled in, leaning heavily on her cane. Such was the hand Time dealt Uchiha Mieko, stripped completely of her former beauty and physical prowess. "Madara, we need to talk."
"I'm busy, come back later," Madara said, gesturing with his chopsticks for Mieko to leave, like she was some sort of child.
"This is important," Mieko insisted. Damn the woman was stubborn. "It concerns the clan's future."
"And me divvying out missions, accepting commissions from allies of our daimyo and contracts from our daimyo, isn't important? I need to make sure we have enough supplies for long campaigns, enough rice seed for the planting, enough salt for the coming winter."
"Winter is a long way off," Mieko scoffed with a dismissive wave of her hand. Madara's eyes narrowed.
"Winter, is not a long way's off!" Madara growled, his voice had an iron edge to it. "An incompetent leader thinks that and it's his folly when two-thirds of his clan starves during the winter because they didn't plant enough rice and didn't have enough salt to preserve the meat. That will not happen so long as I lead." Madara enunciated each point with a jab of his chopsticks.
"Yes, yes. That's all well and good but you also need to take a wife," Mieko snapped, sounding very impatient with her grandson.
Madara rolled his eyes, set his chopsticks aside and rubbed his face with both hands. "Not this again. Listen," Madara began, "I have more important worries to stress about than marrying some dimwitted flat-chested girl."
"It's an arranged marriage," Mieko went on as if she wasn't interrupted.
"I'm not finalizing it," Madara grumbled. He was annoyed. He wanted to get through the rest of his paperwork, take a nap before dinner, then spend the evening smoking and playing shogi with Izuna. This problem was one that he could deal with later. The way he looked at it, he had roughly twenty-two years to crush Senju Hashirama and his pathetic excuse for a clan, unite the world under him and become the next great sage. By the time he hit forty, he should have achieved all his goals and then some, then and only then would he settle down and produce the heir that was required to secure his bloodline. Until then, children and wives could wait, thank you very much.
"It's not going through you," Mieko said as she inspected her nails.
Madara's head snapped up. "What?" he hissed, eyes narrowing, the red of his Sharingan threatening to spill over into his irises.
"It's been fully approved and finalized by the Council of Elders," Mieko said, gifting him with a haughty little smirk, which made her withered face look even more like a shriveled old prune.
"I refuse to do this! I refuse to go along with this!"
"Madara, think of the clan."
"I am thinking of the clan!" Madara roared. He grabbed one of the documents he was reading and shook it at her. "Every day I think about this glorious clan! How to make it better, how to improve our fighting ability, how to better educate and train our young shinobi and kunoichi! I slave over this clan!"
"A wife is also for the benefit of the clan. She's the domestic link between you and your people," Mieko pointed out. Madara's knitted his brows.
"But, Izuna does that. He takes care of the domestic issues, I take care of the everything else and we both deal with the financial aspects of leading. We have an effective system between the two of us. I don't need you muddling it up by throwing a nescient woman into the mix!"
"You will do this. You don't have a choice, the Council of Elders have finalized it!" Mieko snapped.
"Don't you dare tell me what I can and cannot do you old crone!" Madara snarled, eyes narrowing dangerously.
"If it'll make you feel better, talk it over with Izuna. You will go ahead with this marriage. It's too late to nullify it now. Hayashi-dono is committed to the arrangement as is the Uchiha."
"I'm not committed! I'm the head of this clan! Why wasn't I brought in on these discussions!"
"We knew you'd object. In rare cases, the Council of Elders is allowed to go over the head of the clan leader. You've read our laws. It was the same way with the Council of Generals, before you abolished that and took power."
"The Council of Generals at that point had consisted of three men. Torazaki and his two goons. I did what I had to do, to keep this clan safe," Madara's eyes clouded over for a split second, "my father would've wanted that."
Mieko sighed softly at the mention of her son, Tajima. "I'm not questioning your right to lead Madara, you are Tajima's son. I'm just saying that in certain circumstances the Council of Elders has the power to go over the leader's head."
"So you went behind my back! That's treason!"
"It's politics. And no I didn't! The Council of Elders didn't either! It's not treason! Discuss it with Izuna," Mieko huffed.
This seemed to pacify Madara somewhat. He was still unhappy but he allowed it to pass. "Very well, now leave."
"As you wish, Madara-sama," the old crone replied with a stiff bow, before she hobbled out of his study.
"Obaa-san," Madara called softly, causing the old woman to pause.
"Yes, Madara?" Mieko looked over her shoulder.
"Do you think my father would've been proud of me?" he asked.
"Of course Madara," Mieko inclined her head and left the study.
Izuna watched as Madara moved his shogi piece. "What's bothering you?" the younger Uchiha asked. Madara bit down on his pipe in annoyance at how easily his brother could read him.
"The council has arranged a marriage for me," Madara sneered, "behind my back!"
"Oh? Oh, is the only thing you can say!"
"It's not surprising; you've been clan leader since you were thirteen. They've kept silent about the subject of marriage for five years. I was expecting them to bring it up sooner or later. Regardless though, it's a rather bold move on their part to arrange a marriage without your knowledge. Who had the misfortune of informing you?"
"The hag," Madara groused, he puffed on his pipe before he pushed a piece forward.
"I wanted to strangle the old hag right then and there! But she backed off eventually, told me I had three days to mull it over. Told me I can discuss it with you."
"Well," Izuna began. He stopped and thought about his words, choosing them wisely. "I think you should consider marriage and not immediately dismiss it."
Madara gave Izuna a look between annoyance and sadness. "I have considered marriage. For later. I'm in my prime right now! I don't need to be saddled down with a bitchy wife and a gaggle of whiny brats. I have plans, goals that I must... that I will achieve! I can't do that if I have a family!"
Izuna blinked, it almost sounded like Madara was whining. "A wife can benefit the clan."
"How? Give me one good reason why I should go along with the damn marriage."
"Yes, money. I have a feeling the girl isn't from our clan, in which case the monetary benefit would be thus null and void. Granted, a woman from our clan would be ideal, especially if she possesses potent chakra and a powerful Sharingan, but depending on how pure her blood is it could raise the chances of birth defects in the child."
"I doubt any child of mine would have birth defects."
"It's a gamble, and one you shouldn't be willing to play. Especially, since we're talking about a possible heir here. The heir will need to be healthy and with sound blood. So, continuing, the girl is most likely from a minor noble family. While not as wealthy as the daimyo or the large noble houses, her dowry will still be a considerable sum. Her family will not be an alley of ours, so by uniting our clan and her family through marriage we gain another batch of potential jobs, and more money. Plus, depending on how close her father's holdings are to our clan strongholds, we can also gain more land." Izuna said as he moved his piece.
"I see," was the only reply his brother gave. Izuna pressed onwards.
"By her being an outsider, she brings fresh blood to the clan, which nearly eliminates the chance of birth defects. Our Sharingan is the dominant gene, so the child will have an extremely high probability of possessing the Sharingan. Yet, there is still that slight risk with marrying an outsider, when it comes to a child of such union having the Sharingan or not and—"
"My heir will need to have the Sharingan. I suppose she can always whelp me another brat if the first one doesn't possess the Sharingan."
"Yes. All in all, the benefits to the clan are very good. The only way such benefits could get better if you actually married a daimyo's daughter."
"I'll think about what you said. It was certainly a more sound argument than the one Obaa-sama gave me."
"What was?" Izuna asked, just out of curiosity.
"She'd be the domestic link between me and the clan," Madara said with an eye roll.
"Well, she certainly will be such a link... in time. She'll have to win over the clan first. Regardless if she's from our clan or not. Women in our clan would be jealous that she got chosen for such a high honor and if she's not they'd feel cheated."
"So, either way the wench has an uphill battle."
The two brothers played in silence for a few more hours. Izuna lost, and they restarted. After a while, Madara finally broke the silence. "I thought it over. The benefits do outweigh the negative aspects. I don't have to like her, I just have to get a few whelps off of her and be done with it."
"Mmhmm," Izuna nodded.
"I'll go through with it."
"Pardon?" Izuna looked up at his brother. "You'll go through with it."
"Yes. I will," Madara said as he leaned back. He took a drag from his pipe and blew a silvery smoke ring into the twilit sky. He could smell the coming spring and it sent shivers down his arms. Spring meant the snows melted. Spring meant that armies can move, which meant war, which meant Madara could finally feel alive after feeling stagnant during the winter. Funny how the season of rebirth and new life could be painted with such a rich reaping of blood. It made him almost gleefully giddy with anticipation. "I'm going to make it seem like it was my idea though. I'm not going to give those old windbags the satisfaction of forcing me to do something I didn't want to do."
"This is my clan Izuna. Not theirs. It annoys me that I have to constantly teach them that lesson."
Sparrows sang softly in the branches of the tree outside the window. The window was open and led into a large room, tatami mats on the floor and futon neatly folded in the corner. A small table with three legs made out of dark cherry wood stood in one corner with an elegant vase seated on top of the little round tabletop. In the vase was a beautiful purple orchid, which added a subtle beauty to the room. A few wall scrolls hung on the walls, paintings of poets and dragons and calligraphy; an elegant display of luxury and wealth.
By the open window was a cluster of women around a mahogany vanity. Seated in the heart of the cluster of women was a sixteen-year-old girl, the eldest daughter of the lord of the house. She wore a stunning kimono of pale blue silk with patterns of flowers and sparrows along her long sleeves. The four women around her were currently applying a fine layer of white powder on her face, kohl around her eyes which were a brown so dark they appeared black, while a rouge the color of blood was applied to her delicate lips.
"Saki, put my hair up in something simple," the princess ordered in a soft voice.
"Yes of course, Yuzuki-hime," Saki, one of the attending maids, said in a delicate murmur as she ran a fancy ivory comb through her mistress's hair.
"Elegant as well," Yuzuki closed her eyes before opening them again, "simple yet elegant."
Saki mutely nodded as she worked out the last of the knots in her lady's hair. She glanced at Cho and Fumiko and Usagi, who were all busy applying Yuzuki's cosmetics. "Cho," Saki whispered softly to her plump friend, "could you help me?"
Cho looked up from what she was doing, glanced quickly at Yuzuki's long midnight black hair and then at Saki before giving a small nod. "One minute," she mouthed before going back to brushing the kohl across Yuzuki's right eyelid.
"I think Kameko is pressing Father into arranging a marriage for me," Yuzuki informed her ladies-in-waiting, "I hope it's to Iwanura Chusuke." The girl gave a dreamy sigh about that and the serving women all glanced at each other with knowing grins. It was no secret among their small group that Yuzuki was infatuated with the youngest son of Iwanura Akataka. Of course they couldn't imagine why though, since Chusuke had a reputation for fooling around with young girls. They had all encouraged her to choose focus her attention on Chusuke's elder brother Satoru or one of the other young lordlings. No, Yuzuki stubbornly clung to Chusuke and hoped every day that his affections would be true. "Kameko has been bugging Father about it lately," Yuzuki said dismissively.
"I'm sure your father's wife has a good reason to press for a marriage. I mean, you are his eldest daughter and of good breeding and have plenty of childbearing years left. You'd make a fine wife for any noble, providing him with plenty of sons and a few daughters to marry off." Fumiko, the eldest of the four attending maids, said in a sagely tone.
"Yes, yes, I know all the politics surrounding an arranged marriage, I just want it to be Chusuke-kun," Yuzuki replied with a huff.
"Hime-sama, please be still," Usagi said as she dabbed at Yuzuki's lips with a brush. Yuzuki's eyes narrowed but she didn't say anything.
"Why do you want to marry him so badly?" Cho asked. "There are plenty of other fine young men of good breeding you could marry. Wealthier too."
"I love Iwanura Chusuke," Yuzuki turned her nose up into the air with that statement. "Why wouldn't I want to marry him? Plus, he's a refined and proper man and he's utterly charming. He's not a half-wit or some brute, a man at home in society."
"I heard that one of the suitors presented was Demon-eyes Madara of the Uchiha clan," Usagi breathed, her large eyes open wider, making her look like a frightened rabbit.
There was a chilled hush fell into the room. Even the sparrows stopped singing in the trees. "It would be bad luck if you were arranged to marry, of all men, Demon-eyes Madara," Fumiko whispered and suppressed a shudder at the mere thought of the legendary ninja.
"A princess doesn't marry a shinobi. It'll be social suicide!" Saki gasped. "I'm shocked that he was even considered a suitable candidate!"
"I heard he killed his best friend and ate his heart and brain then danced in the moonlight with his intestines around his neck like a necklace and muttered dark incantations to some even darker god and gained powerful eyes and the ability to summon demons from the deepest hells!" Cho drew in a breath, her brown eyes wide in fear and wonder.
"I heard his parents were Sōjōbō the Tengu King and Izanami the Damned Queen of Yomi. I heard he can command both tengu and oni!" Usagi squeaked, terrified at the mere thought of the ninja in question.
"I heard he is the son of Hachiman and a mortal woman and was born on a battlefield in the dead of winter, a full grown man in full battle armour and he started killing foes left and right. He drank the blood of his enemies and ate the hearts of the leaders he killed. He rides a dragon and has an army of killer hawks at his beck and call and he has a nine-tailed kitsune for a brother. He commands ten thousand legions of demons and can put you into a nightmare filled slumber or burn you alive with the black flames of hell if you look into his eyes!" Saki said breathlessly, and in her excitement yanked on Yuzuki's hair.
"Ouch!" Yuzuki glared at Saki through the mirror. "Be careful or you will regret it," Yuzuki spat, ice in her voice.
"S-Sorry Hime-sama, i-i-it won't happen again, I swear."
"See to it that it doesn't!" Yuzuki narrowed her eyes as she spoke, "Now hurry up and finish! I do not want to be late to the audience with my step-mother."
"Yes, Hime-sama," Saki muttered as Cho came over to help her friend. The door to Yuzuki's room opened and a young girl trotted in. She wore a beautiful kimono similar to Yuzuki's and had her blue-black hair in twin buns. The younger girl frowned at Yuzuki, eyeing jealously Yuzuki's true black hair, which if court rumor was to be believed, was Yuzuki's finest feature.
"Mother is waiting, Onee-san," the younger girl replied with an air of authority. The type that only comes about when a child knows they are favored by their parent. "You know Mother doesn't like to be kept waiting, right, Onee-san?"
Yuzuki sighed wearily, "Yes, Ryoko. I know. I'm almost done getting ready."
"I'm not some servant you can order around!" Ryoko snapped, stomping her foot. Yuzuki looked at her younger half-sister with mild dislike. Ryoko, though only eleven, wasn't a natural beauty like her mother, the Lady Kameko. Ryoko had a face like pug, large owlish eyes, a hawkish nose, and full pouty lips that didn't lend her beauty whatsoever. Of course, Yuzuki wasn't one to boast about beauty either; a sweet face to go along with a sweet smile, Yuzuki was just plain, yet in a charming way.
"Clearly, Kameko-sama thinks otherwise, if she sends you to me to inform me of my impending appointment with her," Yuzuki pointed out coolly. Ryoko gasped, her full lips making an O of surprise.
"Fine! You win, I'll go tell Mother you'll be around in a few minutes," Ryoko said as she did an about-face before shooting a nasty glare at her. "Ugly!" Ryoko spat childishly before stomping off to inform her mother. Yuzuki sighed wearily, looked at herself in the mirror, watching as Saki and Cho finished up the bun.
"You shouldn't let what Ryoko-chan says get to you, Hime-sama," Fumiko chided softly.
"I know," Yuzuki looked at her hands, how delicate they looked in her lap surrounded by the brightly colored silk she wore. "I know," Yuzuki murmured, before looking up at her reflection in the mirror. "Perfect," she smiled. "Help me up," she ordered. Fumiko offered her hand to the young princess and Yuzuki took it, gracefully getting to her feet. "Now, to deal with the demoness herself," Yuzuki muttered, flashing a grin at her maids before walking off, taking delicate little steps to ensure that the hem of her kimono fluttered like ripples in a stream.
"Poor girl," Fumiko shook her head, a great wave of relief spreading across the four maids. "Can't even see past her nose."
"I'm surprised she doesn't realize that her so-called friends, Lady Satsuki and Lady Hitomi are talking bad about her behind her back," Saki said, shaking her head ruefully.
"Well, it's for certain that Yuzuki-sama will get a strong reality check when she moves in with her future husband," Cho added. "If it's Madara of the Uchiha, that is." There was a murmur of agreement among the four women before they turned back to cleaning up their mistress's room.
The Lady Kameko was the eldest daughter of the Lord Fujiwara, by his first wife. She was slightly taller than average, with broad shoulders, a buxom figure, true black hair and skin the color of fresh cream. Intelligence glinted within dark brown eyes, and a cunning smile was always painted on her delicate lips. Well educated in etiquette, history and statecraft, the Lady Kameko was formidable woman. She was stern and strict and expected much from her natural born children as well as her two step-children. She was currently sitting on a fluffy cushion engaged in a game of go with one of her ladies-in-waiting when the door opened to reveal Yuzuki.
"Have a seat, Yuzuki," Kameko said, not bothering to look up from her board game. "We have much to discuss, and precious little time."
Yuzuki nodded and took dainty little steps to the cushion that was placed across from her step-mother's low table. Yuzuki studied the beautiful carvings of phoenixes and dragons, worked into the wooden legs and sides. "It's a lovely day, Mother," Yuzuki said softly. Kameko insisted that Yuzuki and her older brother, Kyosuke, call her mother. Yuzuki hated it. She still had memories of her own mother, Nozomi, but they were vague and the few vivid ones, Yuzuki held dear to her heart.
"Yes, it is. Soon the sakura will be in bloom," Kameko said as she moved a piece on the board. "I want to discuss an arranged marriage for you, Yuzuki."
"Why discuss with me something that you and Father have already decided on? It seems rather pointless."
Kameko looked up at her step-daughter, and Yuzuki was suddenly reminded of an enraged cobra she met once, ready to flare its hood before spitting its deadly poison. "Don't tell me what's pointless and what's not! Would you rather I have your father ship you off to some unknown location with your dowry and a handful of guards to protect you on your journey?! Or would you rather have that I send for your future husband to come and escort you to his home himself?" Kameko hissed, her eyes narrowing.
Yuzuki suppressed a shudder as she lowered her eyes, acting submissive towards her step-mother. "No, Mother... I would not like the former yet the latter doesn't sound too pleasing either."
"Hn," Kameko snorted before shooing away her lady-in-waiting and the game she was playing. The noblewoman leaned back, her arm resting on an arm rest. She played with a lock of hair that had fallen loose from her complex hair style. "The latter is much safer and you get to at least meet your husband before the actual wedding. A man won't let harm befall something he has put what he would consider an investment in."
Yuzuki gave a meek nod at that. "I understand, Mother."
"Ayami tells me you have a crush on some distasteful boy by the name of Iwanura Chusuke."
Yuzuki made a face at the fact that her Kameko's crone of a maidservant was snooping around. "Iwanura isn't a distasteful boy Mother!" Yuzuki snapped. There was a pregnant pause that hung in the air like a taut wire before Kameko slapped Yuzuki across the face.
"Insolent girl! You do not speak out of turn!" Kameko hissed, venom thick in her voice. "All lecherous young men are distasteful! A blight upon society; soiling good young women and destroying their futures in the process! All to satisfy their urges!" Kameko sniffed and snapped open her fan to fan herself. There was a brief moment of silence. "Yuzuki, you know your filial duty to this family right?"
"Yes Mother," Yuzuki nodded. "It's to marry whomever Father chooses me to wed."
"And you are also aware that this duty is for political and military benefits, correct?"
"And I'm sure you are also aware that we are in desperate need of a shinobi clan of our own, and that we aren't wealthy enough to afford to keep a clan in the traditional sense, right?"
"You are to acquire us a shinobi clan," Kameko said matter of factly.
Yuzuki waited with bated breath before speaking: "And how will I be able to do that, Mother?"
" An alliance by marriage, my dear. While shinobi are distasteful, a necessary blight upon society, I cannot deny that they do protect us." Kameko heaved a great world weary sigh, " I naturally encouraged your father to marry you to a proper nobleman, but he refused. Insisting that the offer made by the Uchiha clan was much more appealing to him than any offer made by the noble houses we asked. Stating that we'd finally have our much needed and desired shinobi clan."
Kameko's eyes narrowed. "There were a handful of other shinobi clans requesting a marriage with you: Yamanaka, Nara, Inuzuka and Hatake. Your father wanted a clan that will defend his borders and a clan that will be willing to go off to conduct war against his neighbours."
Yuzuki felt her heart sink, having an idea of which clan her father ultimately chose. "Who... is to be my husband?" Yuzuki asked timidly.
"You are to marry Uchiha Madara."
Dun Dun DUUUUH!
And so ends chapter one. Next chapter Madara comes to Hayashi to pick up his not-so-blushing bride.
I personally liked how this chapter turned out. It sets the stage nicely, much better than other SotM 1's did. You get a nice intro on both Madara and Yuzuki and get to see into their worlds for just a bit.
Yuzuki now has a straight-lace step-mom, and three step-siblings. Ryoko (11), Akihiko (9) and baby Sakuya.
Anyways, it's been fun trying to write this while the ship is rocking, between my watches and all the other shit I have to do. I am for quality over quanity to don't bother me about updates. The are infrequent because I want to give you guys the best possible story. Please bear with me, it'll be worth it in the end.