In the clearing that Naruto was told was the Third Training Ground, he was being taught how to mold chakra by his new Sensei. He was so excited! He was finally taking a step towards becoming the Hokage through his actions rather than his words. Sensei-san told him that with as much chakra as he already had Naruto really could become the next Hokage. If he was willing to put in the hours and hours of practice and training, that was.
After watching Naruto successfully mold chakra for the tenth consecutive time, his sensei showed him how to float a rock using his chakra. He explained that it would help him build the control that he would need to perform jutsu. "When you can hold the pebble up for an hour without it shaking, you will have mastered this technique. For now though, let's just focus on raising the stone at all." Naruto's face contorted in concentration; his eyebrows drawing together and his tongue sticking out to the side. Naruto's sensei saw the chakra build in his hand and slowly trickle upwards to the pebble.
He raised it for about a second a quarter of an inch off his hand - so tiny an amount that Naruto didn't think he succeeded. His mentor had seen it though and smiled when the little boy pouted. "Try again, but gather more chakra this time. If you want to become a ninja this is just one of the many things you will need to succeed. Most every genin can learn a jutsu, and that might count in battle, but the more hours you put into things like this the more jutsu you can perform without wasting chakra. And the more jutsu you can perform, the stronger you'll become, which is one more step for you towards your dream." Naruto smiled and nodded.
The young blonde took a deep breath, and began to channel his chakra. The rock was raised up two inches before leveling off. It was shaking like it was in a hurricane, but was raised up for three seconds before it fell. His smile grew in to a goofy grin. 'He's a prodigy when he has the right motivation,' the stranger thought. 'Not many people of any age, let alone his, that has only just been taught how to mold chakra could have asked for the same results.'
He cleared his throat. "That was excellent Naruto. Now do the same thing with your other hand, then your head." He watched the boy do as he instructed, each time seeing the rock go higher. 'If he moves it any higher he won't be able to steady the thing...' The man squatted down, so he could look Naruto in the eye. "I want you to raise the stone as high as your eyes, and keep it there as long as you can. Can you do that for me?" Naruto nodded rapidly.
The man watched Naruto pick another rock off the ground, then saw the pebble rise up to the point he had instructed. Five seconds passed. Then another. The stone began to shake more after twenty seconds, but steadied slightly at thirty, and fell after forty had elapsed. He wanted to cry. 'Such raw talent... If only they would have taught him without bias.' He sighed. 'They never will though... Even some of the shinobi population has come to see him as the beast...' Naruto had mistaken the sigh that was loosed as disappointment, and had immediately began apologizing and saying that he would try harder.
"Whoa there, you haven't done anything wrong! I'm just upset at the way you're treated by others. You wouldn't have gotten anywhere in four years had I not..." The blonde was looking at him with big blue eyes, in wonder. 'If anyone else has to endure the things this boy had, I'll make sure he helps them. To not be used to so much as an act of dismissal... The next person that treats the boy poorly is going to be strung up for all to see. That's the least I can do for him.' He laid his hand on the boys shoulder and smiled. "How about after this I treat you to some dinner? Anywhere you want to go."
Naruto didn't hesitate a moment. "Can we go to Ichiraku Ramen?"
He raised an eyebrow. "Ichiraku Ramen? You can go anywhere you want." Watching Naruto nod forced him to resist the urge to shake his head. "You understand that I'll pay for it?" The blonde nodded again.
He chuckled. "As long as you're sure."
"Another bowl Naruto-kun?" The boy's had nodded rapidly. Ayame smiled. "How about you?" The man looked at her, nodded, then turned back to Naruto in confusion.
Somehow Naruto had three times as many bowls stacked up. 'He's had six bowls already and is still hungry? How can someone eat that much...'
As it turned out, it took Naruto five more bowls to fill him.
"Naruto, there's something I've been meaning to tell you."
"What is it, Sensei-san?"
"I can only be your sensei for a few more days before I have to go." Naruto looked upset, but the man raised his hands. "None of that, please. Don't worry. Before I go I'll find a way to keep your training progressing. I'll leave you a note tomorrow morning on where to meet. It'll probably be the same spot though." The man stood. He pushed the flap out of his way before turning back to lock eyes with the boy. "Sleep well, Naruto." The eye contact was held for a few more seconds before he turned away again.
Naruto woke up early, and found a note on his floor that told him to open his door. When he did, he saw his Sensei outside, hair fiery as usual. "May I come in?" Naruto nodded, glad he was generally a tidy person. His apartment didn't look like someone had emptied the garbage of the entire village on his floor. His sensei looked around, the last place he found himself looking was at his food supplies.
'Instant ramen? That's it?' He to turned to look at Naruto. "Is this all you have?" Naruto's nod elicited a sigh. "We probably aren't training today. I'm going to take you into town and teach you how to cook. I'll write down everything for you, in case you can't take everything in. Okay?" Naruto bobbed his head. "I'm also going to buy you a refrigerator and a stove." Naruto's eyes went wide.
"Thank you sensei!" Naruto ran over and hugged his leg. He chuckled.
The day was spent teaching Naruto how to cook foods of all kinds. He taught him what each seasoning looked like and tasted like, that he could always add seasoning but it was hard to fix if he started with too much, and that Naruto needed to eat a balanced variety of food everyday. And that he shouldn't eat ramen every meal. After that, he spent an hour teaching Naruto more chakra control. He was interrupted by a masked ANBU with a red triangle pointing downward at the top, and two red wavy lines running underneath the eyes to the side of his mask.
"You are to come with me."
His sensei shook his head. "I don't think so. I know what he wants. So no. I'm not going to come with you." He raised his hands in a seal. "Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Shadow Clone Technique)." A puff of smoke erupted, and after it cleared, Naruto didn't know what to say. Three of his sensei appeared, four of him total. One moved to guard Naruto. He reached out and touched the one that had moved towards him once he figured out his intentions.
"I thought the Bunshin no Jutsu (Clone Technique) only made it look like you made copies of yourself?" The little boy said.
His sensei smiled. "Ah, but as you must of heard me say, this is the Kage Bunshin no Jutsu. It's a completely different technique. We Kage Bunshin can think for ourselves, making quite a deadly combination of jutsu when had attack." Naruto nodded in understanding, and opened his mouth in awe. His sensei must be really powerful to know such a technique.
His sensei took out a kunai for one hand and held three shuriken in the other, as did the other copies of himself, excluding Naruto's guard. They threw the shuriken one by one, forcing the ANBU to move. Each time he did, each copy of his sensei lunged towards his possible destination. Each time he failed to capture him. 'He's gotten faster,' he thought. He saw him go through a few hand seals and jumped backwards, getting to a more safe distance.
"Doton: Retsudo Tenshō (Tearing Earth Turning Palm)," the ANBU mumbled. The ground in front of the Kage Bunshin began to spiral down, taking them with it. Or so the ANBU had intended. What he had certainly not expected was for the Kage Bunshin to jumped towards him and explode.
Naruto looked up at his sensei, the question obvious. "It's called the Kage Bunshin Daibakuha no Jutsu (Shadow Clone Explosion Technique). It does... Well, you just saw what it does. Kage Bunshin can manually detonate themselves with the correct seals and do quite a bit of damage." Naruto surveyed the surrounding area to find that the technique had scorched the rocks that were nearby and had tipped some of the trees over. The ANBU was nowhere to be found.
His sensei dispelled his remaining Kage Bunshin, and squatted down to look Naruto in the eyes. "You remember how I said I would have to go soon?" Naruto nodded, tears threatening to fall. "I'm sorry Naruto. I don't want to, but if I stay, someone will eventually get something out of me that I don't want them to have." He put his hand on Naruto's shoulder and gave it a light squeeze of support.
"How will I learn how to be a true shinobi on my own?" His sensei smiled.
"I'll tell you what I believe a true shinobi is right now, if you really want me to." Naruto nodded vigorously. "A true shinobi is someone who protects those who cannot protect themselves. One who stands with those they love no matter the cost." They locked eyes once more, and then he vanished.
Later that night Itachi Uchiha slipped away from the Uchiha Compound and went to the Forest of Death to think. Earlier in the day he had helped Shisui kill himself. He was still shaken up about it, but would eventually make sense of what had happened.
Nobody would bother him here, on the tree tops of such a 'dangerous' place. So he thought before a man with a mask literally appeared into the space that was directly in front of him. Itachi assumed it was a man, but could not be sure. The mask had only one eye hole for his right eye, and was white with a flame pattern. The man was also wearing a black cloak that covered all but his feet, with two long sleeves that were currently at his sides and showing no traces of his arms.
"Hello!" The man shouted, elongating the -o like a child would. Itachi raised an eyebrow, preparing himself mentally should the need to fight arise. "I heard from a little birdie that you have to kill your clan," the man said again. Itachi could have sworn he was smiling, but couldn't see underneath his mask to check.
Itachi remained motionless, both unsure of how he obtained such classified information and how he should deal with this man. He was also troubled with how he had just appeared, making him wonder if he would even be able to defeat such a person. Setting that thought aside, Itachi nodded in agreement of the statement. It would be pointless to lie, and not confirming could be potentially dangerous.
The two remained staring at each other until the masked man moved. He shot his hand behind his back, and Itachi immediately pulled out a kunai. He felt for his footing before he moved back into a stance, never taking his eyes off of the masked man. All of this happened in the span of less than a second.
He fell a few feet down the tree before he could catch himself when he saw the man pull a sandwich from his pants and move his mask to the side to eat. "So," the masked man said in between mouthfuls, "do you need any help?"
Itachi chose his words carefully. "I am unsure whether or not you are able to. Though they have grown arrogant, most from the Uchiha clan are strong. Should the need to fight arise, you may not fare very well."
The man's head bobbed up and down. "I see..." He popped the rest of his sandwich in his mouth and stood up. "It's a good thing I'm an Uchiha too!" He slid his mask back into place, again able to see Itachi's incredulous look.
"You... You're an Uchiha?" Someone so easy going could not possibly be from his clan.
"Yup!" He flashed his sharingan. He walked over the branches to Itachi, holding out his hand. "Madara Uchiha, at your service." When Itachi did not move, he reached over and grabbed his hand, shaking it firmly. "Such poor manners for one so uptight." Itachi's left eye began to twitch, and the vein on his right temple became noticeably more prominent. "Touchy, touchy," Madara said while waggling his finger.
"Wait... Madara Uchiha? The Madara Uchiha?" Madara nodded rapidly, giving him two thumbs up. Itachi's look of surprise quickly turned into a frown, his eyes narrowing. "Impossible. You would have to be over one hundred years old then."
"I have learned many things over that time," Madara said in a suddenly serious tone. "You would benefit from this offer, and I would be given the opportunity to exact revenge on the offspring of those that exiled me." He sat down on the branches, his forearms resting on his knees. "If you believe you can defeat the whole of the Uchiha clan without my help, be my guest. If just one puts up a fight, things will get out of hand very quickly."
Itachi shook his head slowly. "This is my burden to bear, and it is not about revenge. It is about quelling the imminent coup d'état by any means necessary. Because they will not listen to reason I must stop them through force." Itachi turned around and prepared to jump away. "I believe it time for you to take your leave," he called over his shoulder.
'Kage Bunshin no Jutsu,' Itachi split his chakra into four clones. It was the dead of night and not a single thing had stirred for the past fifteen minutes. He found his mouth drawn in a grimace that was mirrored by all of his Kage Bunshin. With a hand signal, the five flashed to each of the corners of the pentagonal Uchiha Compound and began their slaughter of both the guilty and the innocent.
The real Itachi had decided to take the section that his parents and younger brother resided. He had also chosen to deal with them first, lest he find himself without the heart to do so later.
Killing his father would not be a very difficult for him, but killing his mother... He wrestled within his mind over whether he should spare her. Itachi knew he couldn't bring himself to kill Sasuke, but if he left Sasuke all alone, how would he turn out? Would he follow the path paved with blood that was revenge? Or would someone pull him out of the despair he would no doubt be in? Itachi decided that he could not risk it, and that he would leave Mikoto alive because she wasn't arrogant unlike the rest of the Uchiha Clan; but his decision did not matter.
His father Fugaku was awake.
When Itachi looked at his father he found disappointment and anger staring back at him. It made him feel a small pang of guilt. He was in the process of killing his relatives... 'No,' Itachi thought, mentally clearing his head. 'This is what must happen. The village is more important than the Uchiha Clan.' His feelings dealt with, he returned the look his father gave him with nothing more than a cold stare. After a few minutes, Fugaku motioned with his head for them to move away from their home. Itachi replied with a single nod.
They moved to a patch of grass between two large housing developments. Itachi nodded to himself, knowing that should their words turn to fists the Compound would receive limited damage.
Fugaku spoke first, simply saying, "So you've thrown your lot in with them." Upon receiving a curt nod, he continued. "For what purpose?"
Itachi chose his words carefully before responding, sorting through the vast amount of information he had received over the past two days. "Because," he said with a tone similar to Fugaku's, "they are in the right. It is the Uchiha Clan that is in the wrong. I understand you find that hard to comprehend, but I believe it to be true. The Uchiha Clan does not have more power because we would abuse it. A coup d'état is not the answer you should have come to." He paused, and purposely cut Fugaku off when he opened his mouth. "We have spoken of this once before, so there is no need to tell me your stance when I have already heard it."
Itachi's father closed his mouth, simmered quietly for a few seconds, and replied with, "I gave you permission to join the ANBU to spy on Konoha, not the other way around. Have you a reason for such actions?" Itachi didn't hesitate to bob his head. "What is it, then? What is more important to you than your entire clan?"
"Sasuke." Fugaku's eyebrows raised for such a short time that Itachi almost thought that he had imagined it. Almost.
"I see," he said. And that was all that he said before settling into a stance Itachi was very familiar with, and knew exactly how to counter. He had never let his father know, and had countered it in a less than effective way before, but this time...
Fugaku appeared behind him, and Itachi hit him, without turning around, with a kick that sent him a few feet backwards. It was the way he had always begun their fights, but Itachi had always just taken a few steps forward and turned. He turned to face his father, who was holding his side and grimacing.
ANBU training, and by extension ANBU, was not for everyone for two reasons. The first, you could die on any mission you were sent out on. There were no easy missions. Second, and less known, was that the physical training they went through was too rigorous for most to consider, much less complete.
Fugaku came at him more cautiously this time, but it mattered little. Itachi had everything down to a system. From the way he was coming at him he could be intending to do three things. He was either going to jump in the air and try to drop kick him; swing his leg around in a feint and try to strike a nerve near his neck; or swing his leg around in a true assault, except after missing he would plant it and come around with the other leg.
The first option was the riskiest, but against any other opponent would be the most effective. Against Itachi it would be best to try the second option, but if the feint was expected it would be disastrous. He could grab his leg and throw him into the air, spinning him in the process and then being able to jump up and strike at him multiple times in quick succession with little chance of either fending off the assault or blocking. And for the third option, it would also be easily countered by stepping into the kick and block the hit with one hand while striking at Fugaku with the other.
Fugaku planted his left leg, and swung at him with a very slightly slower than normal kick, intending a feint and to strike at any nerve he could reach. He found himself in the air spinning, and knew he was in trouble. He weaved a few hand seals as fast as he could, thinking, 'Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu (Grand Fireball Technique).' All around Fugaku flames seemed to erupt, but that was only because he was spinning in a ball. A constant stream of flames was flowing from Fugaku's mouth, forcing Itachi to stand his ground.
He still hadn't moved.
He thought for about half a second, then threw several kunai and shuriken. Fugaku couldn't see them through the flames he had erected around himself and had no way to know he needed to dodge. Most struck his back, but when an ANBU hits you with a kunai, it goes in deep. He landed on his knees and saw Itachi walking towards him with his katana in his right hand. "You are... well learned," Fugaku sputtered before throwing up blood. "I'm proud." Itachi nodded. His father usually paid him compliments of such kind.
He swung the blade, ending his suffering. At the same time, his Kage Bunshin dispersed. One had triggered a trap and had set a house aflame. Had his fight with his father not roused any of the Uchiha, that trap certainly would have. The other three Kage Bunshin dispelled themselves, and he left without a sound.
After sorting through the information his Kage Bunshin had collected, he nodded. 'The damage has been done. They are arrogant, but not stupid enough to try a coup d'état missing so many shinobi. Perhaps it is better this way. Konohagakure will not lose its most powerful clan, and they will hopefully become more humble.'
Naruto found a note on his table that told him to keep practicing chakra control and that he would become the greatest Kage there has ever been. There was also a scroll of jutsu and training exercises and a scroll full of the recipes his sensei taught him.
Naruto looked through the recipes, his eyesight being unusually clear for so early in the morning. He shrugged. 'It happens every once a week. Maybe when something big happens yesterday?' He settled on tamagoyaki, broiled fish, steamed rice, and miso soup. His favorite was the soup, and he immediately thought to find a ramen recipe when he got home from the Academy. He was still on time, even when it took him an hour to read the recipe and make it. The actual cooking had taken about fifteen minutes, and everything was delicious.
When he got there he saw the room was almost full, but there were only eight people in the room that he actually knew. One was a quiet boy named Shino Aburame, who as sitting at the second level of three, looking out the window. If he remembered correctly, the boy was very interested in bugs. When Naruto looked closer, he saw that there were bugs that were crawling over the window in formations. That made Naruto shiver.
Oddly enough, sitting next to Shino was a quiet girl named Hinata Hyuuga. She had pale purple eyes that were bordering on white. She also had bluish hair, and was pushing her fingers together. She appeared to be attempting to talk to the bug user, but to no avail. She was an odd one, but from the few times he talked with her Naruto knew she was a nice person.
Ino Yamanaka, sometimes a blonde banshee, other times a sweet little girl, sat near the front row next to a redheaded girl. She had her blonde hair tied back in a high ponytail, with bangs covering a part of her face on the right side. She was currently glaring at the pink-haired Sakura Haruno, who sat next to the seat closest to the board. The seat closet to the board was occupied by the crush of nearly every single girl from eight to twelve years old. Sakura looked back up to Ino and stuck her tongue out, making a silly face.
Next he saw Kiba Inuzuka. Naruto grinned and the brown-haired boy returned it twofold. Kiba was one of the few people that played with Naruto, and Naruto was one of the few people that had the endurance to keep up with Kiba. As such, the two had hit it off. Though they also played games with Shikamaru Nara and Chōji Akimichi, those other boys couldn't stand all the sprinting around Kiba and Naruto did in the form of tag. It turned out that they were also a pretty even match the couple of times that they had sparred, after Kiba's sister Hana had explained the concept to Naruto.
Speaking of Shikamaru and Chōji, the two were sitting right in front of Kiba. Shikamaru was sleeping and Chōji was munching on chips, talking to Kiba. He was wearing a bandanna in such a way that his hair poked out on either side of his head. Chōji was often spoken of by the teachers as being too soft, but Naruto knew otherwise. With the right push, or insult about his weight, he would become a ferocious beast.
The last he knew was Sasuke Uchiha. He was sitting in the seat closest to the board with his elbows on the table, his head held high resting on his hands. He and Sasuke locked eyes, and he saw... nothing. He stared at Naruto with the coldest look, his eyes void of emotions. It was unnerving...
When Naruto asked Kiba if he knew what was wrong, Kiba nodded. He said in a whisper, "I heard my mom this morning talking about it. Most of his family was killed last night by his brother Itachi."
Naruto looked back at the Uchiha, this time his face full of sympathy rather than confusion. He never had a family, but had wished almost every day to have one. He couldn't imagine what losing that much of his family would do if he was in Sasuke's shoes... Hundreds killed in a single night? His brother insane and bloodthirsty? Naruto shook his head.
He got up, walked in front of Sasuke, squatted down slightly to be at eye level, and asked, "Are you going to be okay?" He saw the Uchiha's eyes flicker towards him, the heir of his clan nodding his head ever so slightly. Naruto thought for a long moment, thinking of what his sensei would say. Finally he settled on, "Do you want to talk about it?" Sasuke looked at him once more, and Naruto smiled.
"Why," he mumbled. "Why do you care?"
Naruto was surprised that he would ask that question, but answered just as easily as if he had expected it. "I've never had family, so I can only imagine the pain of losing them. I'm sure its even worse than what I think though."
"Thank you," he said in a quiet tone. "Thank you, but no."
Naruto nodded, and stood back up. "I'll talk with you later if you change your mind." The blonde saw Sasuke nod, so he put his hands behind his head and walked back up to Kiba.
The next day Naruto saw Sasuke's mother pick him up from school. When the beautiful woman saw him, she appeared in front of him and squatted down, hugging him. She thanked him for talking to Sasuke and asked Naruto to play with Sasuke more often.
After that, Naruto spent four years of making new friends, coming to slowly alter his appearance into something similar to what the man had wore. He thought the clothes his Sensei chose to wear one his off time were so much better than what he would have chosen. His clothes consisted of gray, red, black and white.
The first thing Naruto put on was a blood-red long-sleeved shirt. Then he donned his light gray pants, tucking the shirt into them. Next he put on a light gray short-sleeved shirt, over which went a sleeveless white vest. Lastly were his black shinobi sandals and black hitai-ate. He had improved upon what his sense wore, or at least in his opinion, with the white vest. He had also changed to grey pants and shirt from black. He didn't want to look like an Uchiha by wearing only red and black like his sensei. He wanted to dress like his sensei, not exactly as he had.
After Mikoto talked with him, he and Sasuke hit it off. He eventually became better friends with Sasuke than he was with Kiba, so he was ecstatic when he was paired with one of them in the team assignments. He finished in the upper half of his class, and judging by his teammates, Mikoto had pulled some strings.
"Next is Team Seven. Sakura Haruno, Sasuke Uchiha, and Naruto Uzumaki. Your Sensei is Kakashi Hatake." Naruto wasn't quite as excited about the team as Sasuke was, but he had learned to put up with Sakura.
As usual, he was sitting next to Kiba, with Sasuke and Sakura two rows below him. He switched between a grimace and a grin several times, settling on a frown. Kiba clapped him on his back once, showing Naruto that he knew just how much Sakura bothered him. Naruto nodded his thanks, and listened to the other assignments. His frown returned when the rest of the Jōnin picked up their genin and left Team Seven behind.
It also may have had something to do with the Kiba's sensei being so damned gorgeous.
'Hmm...' Naruto thought. 'Sasuke and I are at the top of the class. How are we paired together?' Naruto looked down to the couple, scowling. 'And if Sakura is with Sasuke too? His best friend and his girlfriend?' He sighed. 'Mikoto.'
When Kakashi finally arrived, he took them to the top of the Academy and had them speak of their hobbies, likes and dislikes, and goals for the future. Sakura didn't say her goal, and Sasuke's was to restore the Uchiha Clan and to avenge his father. Naruto's was to protect all that could not protect themselves, and to become Hokage. Kakashi did not say his, and merely told them to not eat breakfast tomorrow morning because they would be doing a very strenuous activity tomorrow morning, and to not be late to the Third Training Ground. The training would begin at 5:30.
And that's it. I made some of Naruto's thoughts kind of off grammatically on purpose, as at the time he was an eight year old. No flames about that particular thing please.
Thanks for reading and hopefully reviewing!
New Jutsu List (Both mentioned and used)
Kage Bunshin no Jutsu (Shadow Clone Technique) Supplementary. B-Rank (Ninjutsu) - The user creates a solid copy of him or herself that has a mind of its own and will transfer its memory (from the point it was created) to the user and other clones upon being dispelled. It is impossible to tell the difference between the clone and the user. This technique is considered dangerous because it splits the amount of chakra with however many clones are made.
Bunshin no Jutsu (Clone Technique) Supplementary. E-Rank (Ninjutsu) - The user creates a copy of him or herself that can be commanded (mentally) to appear to carry out tasks such as throwing kunai at a target. The kunai would not be real, but would appear to be. If they scored a hit on the target it would simply pass through, but it is a diversion for a real attack or technique to be used.
Doton: Retsudo Tenshō (Tearing Earth Turning Palm) Offensive. C-Rank (Ninjutsu) All Ranges. - The user disrupts the earth at a target location, causing it to turn to mud and then swirls it to trap a target deep under ground. It is easy to escape however, and it is best to stun the target before using this technique.
Kage Bunshin Daibakuha no Jutsu (Shadow Clone Explosion Technique) Offensive. A-Rank (Ninjutsu) Short Range. - The user creates a Kage Bunshin with the intent to detonate it. It looks like a normal Kage Bunshin, and will explode rather than dispelling, or could be manually set off using a hand seal. By mixing it in with other Kage Bunshin, or through other tricks, this Jutsu will become extremely effective, being able to completely blow a tree of average size to bits.
Katon: Gōkakyū no Jutsu (Grand Fireball Technique) Offensive. C-Rank (Ninjutsu) Short Range. - The user expels chakra from their lungs in the form of either a gigantic ball or a continuous flamethrower. The power of the technique depends on how much chakra is put in as well as the length of time in which the flames are released.