Alright, I feel that this is a novel idea, and I'm excited as all hell to get it started. I was going to wait until I finished my story that's closest to completion before I started writing this, but I couldn't function until I got this out.
I enjoyed putting together what I've got so far for you so I hope you'll give it a shot and join along for the ride. This one's gonna be LONG.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto. Kishimoto, as a college graduation present ante up and fork it over. Come on. All you've got to do is mail me a card attached to a docket of official forms transferring ownership to me. I'll sign them, get a witness when I do it, and bang. You'll have given a new graduate a great start on the world… because I'm seriously going to need it.
Naruto: Great Clan Days
The days of constant conflict between the ninja clans of the world never came to an end. The two legendary heads of the clans Senju and Uchiha, Hashirama and Madara, never came together to form the place that symbolized their dream of peace.
No, the ninja clans, Senju and Uchiha included, continued to loan their strength out to the individuals willing to pay them the most for their skills, constantly coming across each other during the course of their work and doing battle.
The perpetual warfare seemed as if it would never end, as Hashirama and Madara and their ambitions had been the closest examples to any kind of real peace being established in the world.
Days centuries past, one man travelled the world during a time of savage bloodshed and endless war, braving the dangerous lands as he discovered the truth of the chakra in every living being and eventually spreading his ideals of peace. All over the Elemental Nations, people took his message to heart, and this was the closest that the world had ever come to peace.
With his death came the end of his peaceful dream, but he always knew that it would be impossible for him to complete his goals of universal harmony in one lifetime regardless. Putting his dream into the hands of his youngest son and subsequently jading the eldest went down as the cardinal mistake in the legacy of the most powerful man to ever live, and set into motion events that affected the world for centuries.
The years dragged on. The Shinobi Sect broke into clans with different beliefs in the Rikudou Sennin's message, and the relations between these clans eventually devolved into nothing but combat between each other… nothing but victory and defeat. The world was a much different place now, even if a lot of it was similar to the days of the past.
The status quo was violence. Pointless, pointless violence.
And it was everywhere.
Something drastic had to happen if the world was ever going to change. Peace could never occur without understanding, and the only thing that the other clans understood about each other for certain was that they would sooner stick a knife in your back than shake your hand.
Achieving a lasting peace between all of the clans was not a dream that died with the friendship of Hashirama Senju and Uchiha Madara, but no other attempt had ever come as close. It didn't stop the dream from remaining in the minds of some, and it never stopped them from working to bring it to reality.
There was one thing that was oftentimes left out and neglected when it came to telling the stories of the Rikudou Sennin and his legendary feats that culminated in his great peace.
In order to form his beliefs and discover his personal truth that he shared with all others he had to travel the world in a time of vast turmoil. Braving the dangers of his time and growing as a man in a hostile land, he was forged physically and spiritually into a man of mythical proportions.
These things did not fall in line for him neatly, and his power and purpose did not come easily or overnight.
Legends even on that level had to begin somewhere. And usually their beginnings were far more humble than the stories ever figured to trace back to.
Chapter 1: Welcome To My World
The large rolling, forested hills that surrounded the village of the Uzumaki Clan played host to one rather disgruntled mother looking for her only son.
Around thirty years of age or so in her appearance, she had fair, lovely skin, long red hair that reached down past her waist, and pretty violet eyes. Her attire consisted of a sleeveless white blouse with a high collar underneath a long green dress. Not exactly attire befitting of a ninja. More like that of a housewife really.
"That boy…" She said to herself as she walked along in a huff, searching around for her beloved child, "How many times do I have to tell him to stop leaving the village? I don't know where he gets it from."
The least he could do was not leave alone. Even though the lands surrounding the village that was their home and the entire country of Uzu no Kuni in general was markedly safer than the nearby mainland of the Elemental Nations that they were to the east of, it was still dangerous for a little boy to be out there alone.
Ninja or not, he was still only ten. But that was only by proxy.
The only reason he was a ninja was because he was old enough to be deemed one by the society they lived in. Conscripted to be a shinobi of the Uzumaki Clan of which they were a part.
He hadn't been on any missions outside of the island. He had never fought a real battle against a shinobi or taken a life on purpose. None of the kids his age really had to before, fortunately.
This was an advantage of the fact that their nation was a small island, as well as due to the fact that they were allies of the feared Senju Clan.
They were too far out of the way to engage in battle with more often than not for the more aggressive clans in the world, and the fact that attacking them meant incurring the wrath of the most powerful clan of ninjas in the world kept them in relative peace. The Uzumaki Clan was definitely the clan that engaged in the least amount of direct wars against other clans, even though they took a high amount of missions.
Their life expectancy was much higher than other clans. Instead of the usual average expected age of thirty, many reached the ripe old age of fifty years old. Some even got beyond that.
But back with the Uzumaki Clan mother searching for her child.
Fortunately for her he wasn't that hard to track. The trees were marked with nicks and cuts and holes, probably from Naruto practicing with his kunai and shuriken as he wandered.
Eventually stopping as she was tired of doing all of the walking to look for her son, the mother just sighed and held her temple as a vein began to pulse on her head. A short growl gave way to a booming raise of her voice, "NARUTO YOU LITTLE SO-AND-SO, GET YOUR ASS OVER HERE RIGHT NOW! IF I ACTUALLY HAVE TO KEEP LOOKING FOR YOU I'M NOT COOKING THE YOU-KNOW-WHAT THAT YOU LIKE TONIGHT!"
Her voice reverberated through the woods and echoed into the open air for what seemed to be miles around, and all the while she simply stood there with her arms crossed underneath her bosom, tapping her sandaled foot on the ground impatiently as she counted down in her head from 120 seconds to be fair.
But eventually that time ticked down to the precious final seconds.
'Twelve, eleven, ten, nine, eight, seven, six-.'
She stopped counting when she heard a distant rustle of leaves and a constant chanting of, "Nonononononononono!"
Facing in the appropriate direction with her best scolding face, she put her hands on her hips well in advance as a little yellow-topped blur rushed into sight from the trees and slid to a dusty stop, bumping his face right into her stomach before bouncing off and falling down onto his backside.
A short little boy ten years of age, Naruto looked up at his mother with a wince after running into her. Spiky blond hair and bright blue eyes, he dressed himself in a black t-shirt with the red swirl mark Uzumaki Clan insignia right in the center and a pair of orange shorts.
He just stared up at his mother with a fearful wide-eyed expression and didn't move a muscle, as if he was sitting down in front of a predator that would only attack him if she felt his movement.
She didn't look it at first glance, but in her time doing missions, Naruto's mother had been one of the finest kunoichi that their clan had to their names. A woman with scary skills and a nasty temper to match; the 'Red Hot-Blooded Habanero' of the Uzumaki Clan. He'd seen this woman's performance firsthand sometimes on a handful of low-key missions that he ran with her around the island.
Naruto just called her mom though.
"Okay mom I'm here!" Naruto said, jumping back up to his feet in a panic as he clamored around in front of her, "You were just kidding about that whole dinner thing right? Right? We're still having the miso ramen with the pork in it right?"
"I don't know." Kushina said undecidedly, turning her eyes away from Naruto as she seemingly ignored all of his hopping around, "I mean you keep disobeying me whenever I say-…" She then slammed a hard fist down on top of Naruto's head to floor him, "-To stay in the goddamn village and stop running off all by yourself, 'ttebane!"
"Heh." Naruto grinned through the tears welling up in his eyes from the hit, "You did it again mom, with the dattebane."
"N-Nevermind that!" Kushina replied, though her cheeks did grow slightly rosy at being called on her verbal tic by her son, "Honestly Naruto, listen to your mother, or if you're really going to run off when I told you not to at least pick a better day for it!"
Preferably one that wouldn't result in him possibly being punished by her withholding the favorite meal of his that he knew in advance she was going to make that night.
"Where do you even go all of the time?" She asked again. Naruto didn't have some kind of super-secret training spot. He did his thing all over, never really in one place in particular.
"I'm just taking a walk sometimes."
A delicate, crimson eyebrow raised in skepticism at the youngster's excuse-making, "A walk where you use your weapons on the trees for target practice and come back all beaten up and smelly more often than not?"
"…I take really enthusiastic walks?" Naruto ventured before realizing that Kushina wasn't budging on her stern stance, "Sorry mom." He said, still sitting on the forest floor with a big bump on his head from his mother's 'love tap', "I have a good reason! It's just… well, I don't know."
Kushina's expression softened as she heard Naruto struggle for an excuse as to why he kept running off farther and farther from the village on a whim. She knew why already, but she also knew that he'd never admit the reason out loud, even to her, 'Kami, he looks so much like you Minato. I wish you could see him.'
This time, Kushina's hand rested on Naruto's head and rubbed his hair.
"Come on Naruto, let's go home."
(Late Afternoon – Uzumaki Clan Village)
The village that was the Uzumaki Clan's main base of operations was rather large due to the amount of people that lived there. There were more civilians than ninjas due to the fact that only Uzumaki Clan members were shinobi, but the safety ensured by the clan that was the centerpiece of the settlement led it to be a rather sprawling society.
The main point of the village was a gigantic river that ran straight through the center that separated the settlement into two halves. One half was meant for the Uzumaki Clan, the other half was meant for the civilians and it was where most of the citizens and businesses were situated.
The Uzumaki Clan side was a guarded, traditional castle of sorts. There were several bridges to the other side that were always guarded by at least two ninjas per bridge. Only clan members could make their way over to this side of the village, but civilians could be invited after being cleared first.
A huge wall covered the riverbank to keep people from being able to swim across, and the castle itself was something of a small town. At the center of it was a hill that could overlook the whole village with a tall traditional mansion on it where the leader of the clan and overall village lived and worked.
This was where Naruto and Kushina lived as members of the clan, but even as they passed the guards of the bridge that let them in, Naruto could feel cold eyes on him and his mother. He'd grown used to it from the adults, and he already knew why. He was taunted by other kids for it constantly.
Kushina just gave them a chilling stare right back to deter them from looking at her child as if he were a pox cast on their people. To take Naruto's mind off of it, Kushina put her hand on his head and gave him a big grin while they walked on the paved clan streets on their way home, "So, did you just play in the woods all day or did you actually do anything useful today?"
"I didn't just play." Naruto pouted up at her. He did more than play. He was a ninja for crying out loud, "I was totally doing something useful! Since you won't teach me any cool fuuinjutsu, I've gotta do my own stuff."
"Baby, fuuinjutsu is dangerous." Kushina told him, "I taught you basic generic sealing, but if you can't even get the first three ninjutsu I taught you down, I can't responsibly teach you anything else. Now can you do the Bunshin no Jutsu?"
"…No." Naruto admitted begrudgingly, "But I can do the other two! My Henge is awesome, and I can definitely Kawarimi! I can stick to stuff with my feet and water-walk and all of that stuff!"
"That's good. Now get the Bunshin down and we'll talk."
Naruto knew his mom had cool stuff in her repertoire. Word on the street was that she'd been very, very good; heralded as one of the most powerful Uzumaki kunoichi not just of her generation, but ever, with special chakra even for their clan.
He'd never seen her use it though, or any of her high-level techniques, even when she'd been training him. Then again, when they sparred he never did well enough to justify her using much more than what she'd already taught him how to do. It was just the mama lion playing with her cub from her perspective.
He hated the Bunshin though. What need would he ever have for a jutsu that didn't even make a real copy? So what if all of his looked dead and colorless? A Bunshin wouldn't fool anyone that was actually good anyway.
"Don't be in such a rush to grow up." Kushina told Naruto as they arrived at their quaint little one-story home, "Not too long ago, a kid like you would be on the battlefield right now."
"That sounds so cool." Naruto said with a grin as he imagined taking down hordes of enemies with jutsu that he didn't even know were possible yet.
His red-haired mother didn't share in his opinion, "No. Not cool." Kushina said, flicking him on the ear to make sure she had his attention, "We're lucky. Uzu no Kuni is out of the way. There isn't any other clan in this country for us to fight tooth and nail with. Not like on the mainland." All they really got were bandits from the other populated areas in Uzu no Kuni, and not many of them even knew how to use chakra.
"Of course. It's terrible. Those battles are absolutely horrible." Kushina said, her eyes taking on something of a thousand-yard stare, "Adults butchering children even younger than you… kids that were put on the battlefield to fight for their clan's name." She then realized that she was getting to Naruto mentally a bit and shook her head, "I'm just saying, don't think that this is some kind of race. You've got plenty of time to get involved in those things, because once you actually do start you're probably going to wish you could have gone a bit longer without going to the mainland."
"On my missions?"
"On your missions. Now go play and I'll start dinner."
Kushina kissed Naruto on the forehead and went on inside of the house to start making food while he grumbled about the pretty public display of affection. Inside the house was fine. Not outside where people were watching. He wanted to look cool after all.
Either way, Naruto hopped along down the street until he came across an open field where he could see a mess of red-haired kids all playing a pretty fast-paced version of king of the hill.
There wasn't any use in trying to run on over there and get himself involved because they'd just try to keep him from playing, so he just sat down in the grass just outside of range and watched, 'Man, why is it always like this? It's not my fault.' Naruto said, pulling at a few locks of his own blond hair with a frown, 'Stupid old man… how could he leave mom like this?'
Ten years of age and he'd never seen his father one time. But Kushina was still head over heels in love with the man. Naruto didn't even know what he looked like, and for all he cared he hoped the bastard never came around.
It was because of him that Kushina wasn't a ninja that did missions anymore. Either because of his father or because of his presence.
His mother always used to tell him just what a powerful shinobi his father was. About how he was possibly one of the most powerful people in the world. She made him think that he was a superhero or something, but then Naruto started interacting with other members of the clan and heard many, many things.
A female ninja in the clan wedding an outside shinobi was against their customs. Naruto's father wasn't part of the clan, he was a wandering ninja from outside with no known ties to any clan, and with the fact that Kushina had no living family, there was no one to give their union blessing. She was sort of on the outs, and that made Naruto complete black-sheep material by inheritance.
Namikaze Minato. That name was known in the village because he was supposed to be an extremely dangerous man. This was Naruto's father.
If you saw the flash, that was your ass. Naruto had no idea what that meant, but he'd heard adult male clan members say it enough for it to stick with him. Also it rhymed, and anything that rhymed tended to be more memorable by default.
But a lot of good his dad's reputation as a fearsome shinobi did when he hadn't shown his face one time in Naruto's entire life. Still, Kushina swore by him, and repeatedly reassured Naruto that his father was a good man, and that he loved him dearly.
Naruto was beginning to doubt that, but for the sake of keeping Kushina in the highest spirits he could he never let her see him down in the mouth for too long about anything, including that.
His musings were brought to a close when he felt a set of knuckles grind into the side of his head for a noogie, "You left the village again didn't you?" A girl's voice asked as she let go once Naruto pushed her hands off, "I could sense you leave you know."
"Well goody for you!" Naruto bellowed before turning around to face his 'attacker', "Why do you gotta be so mean all the time Karin?"
Stupid Mind's Eye of the Kagura. She could sense anything for miles around, and it would only get stronger over time. Meanwhile he was begging for something above Bunshin-level from his mother.
Karin had red hair much like the vast majority of the rest of the Uzumaki Clan, hers being long and straight on the left and spiky and a bit messy on the right. She had red eyes and brown-framed glasses and wore a tan short-sleeved jacket with a black shirt underneath that exposed her stomach, short black shorts, and black stockings that went down to her black sandals.
"I'm not being mean. I'm toughening you up for ninja life." The young girl argued back in return, something that Naruto just rolled his eyes at. As if she were that much better than him. At least she was able to start learning the parts of her family's branch of ninjutsu though, so she had that over him, "I felt you run off, and then I felt Auntie Kushina go off to get you. So how much trouble are you in?"
"I'm not in trouble, 'ttebayo." Today. He meant that he wasn't in trouble today. Not really anyway.
"You're always in trouble Naruto. If it's not with Auntie Kushina it's with my mom. If it's not with her it's with someone else." By now Naruto had turned back around to ignore her, something that she wasn't really alright with, "What's out there that you're always running off for anyway huh?"
"It's a secret." Naruto said with a big grin, "If nobody around here wants to play with me or train with me or whatever, I can do that too. Who needs 'em?"
Suddenly she sidled up to him with big doe eyes, trying to adjust her glasses to look cuter in order to persuade him, "You can tell your cousin right?" She wasn't pretty enough, or nice enough to him on a regular basis for something like that to work.
"Uh, but Karin, you're all my cousins and stuff."
"Okay, your favorite cousin then?"
"Um." How could he say that she wasn't his favorite cousin without incurring her wrath? Hell, most of them didn't even claim him, and she only really did it suited her, like right then. Luckily, he was saved from such a fate by the vey children that he'd been watching play just moments earlier.
"Hey Karin!" One boy shouted as the rest of the kids seemed to be done with their game, "Nagato-sama is on his way up to the mansion! Let's go see him before he makes it in!" He and the other kids with him spared a glance Naruto's way before ignoring his presence altogether. Once again, something he was already used to.
This was basically their way of letting them know that he wasn't invited.
Karin's eyes lit up at the thought of the village leader and being around his absurdly powerful chakra. Without a second thought she got up and ran over to them to join them, but before getting too far she turned around to Naruto one more time, "Are you going to leave the village again tomorrow like you do every day?"
Naruto just deadpanned a stare at her before smirking slightly, "…Maybe."
(The Next Day – Uzu no Kuni Countryside)
It was harder than normal to get out of the house today without getting caught by Kushina, but he was just too clever for his mom sometimes in his own humble opinion, and made it back outside of the village and far beyond, having been travelling through the trees fairly quickly for four hours.
By now he'd been doing this for just around two years or so and he had to think he'd been everywhere that there was for him to explore in the wilderness of Uzu no Kuni. He didn't go to other towns that lay around the coast and things, but when it came to the interior of the island nation where his village was situated he'd seen his share.
But nothing was more interesting than what he'd come across more or less a year ago; the place that he was off to on this very day.
Upon finding a deep ravine that was hidden away by a substantial thicket, Naruto grinned and began tying the large amount of rope he had managed to sneak out of the house with him around a very sturdy tree before securing the other side snugly around himself so that he could safely lower himself down the hundreds of feet into the dark.
'Good thing I brought lanterns and stuff.' Naruto thought to himself as he pulled a light from the bag on his back. It allowed him to look around the dank place and find when he was getting close to the bottom. He couldn't free himself from his makeshift harness quickly enough for his tastes, doing so hurriedly before running over to the source of a low rumbling noise in the chasm.
Jumping up onto a rock where he sat down, Naruto turned his light forward to scan ahead of him, "Hello? You there?" His light bounced forward and revealed a gigantic red-orange wall that seemed to be moving as if it were alive, "Oh come on. I can see you. How could I miss you? You're the size of a mountain."
A sigh that sounded like a great wind tearing through the crevice sounded out before a booming voice filled the great hole in the ground, "Go away boy. You're useless to me. Far too weak to be any kind of a threat, far too small to eat and be worth anything more than a bug caught in my throat."
Naruto frowned and jumped up from his seat before walking around the long end of the big furry orange wall, until that wall broke off into a long paw, and then a gigantic head with pointy ears, lined with black that trailed over to a closed eye.
The light was shined on the eye until it popped open, angry and red. Naruto involuntarily took a step back at the intimidating sight, but just smiled and walked closer after the initial shock wore off, "Hi Kurama. Sorry I haven't been here in a while. I was busy training before my mom could come looking for me."
"I don't care. You could have been gone for fifty years for all I care and the amount of attention I would have paid to your absence would have been the exact same as right now. Go away."
"Why are you such a jerk fox? I know you're not that mean."
A dark chuckle came from the titanic creature that Naruto was conversing with as if it were a regular person, "You keep thinking that. I can guarantee you you're the only human being in the world that would think that. Such a foolish runt."
The novelty of talking to the biggest f'n fox that anyone else would ever see outweighed the constant insults and overall unpleasant attitude that Kurama had to life in general, at least for Naruto. His coolness factor more than balanced out the miserable bastard portion of his personality.
"I brought some leftovers from last night for lunch." Naruto said, pulling out a big bowl of ramen from his bag and taking the top off, "You want some? It's good. Miso ramen with servings of pork."
At that, Kurama's eye turned Naruto's way and stared at him for several seconds while the child didn't budge. That smell was just too much, "…If you insist…" As Naruto climbed up on one of Kurama's big paws, the fox lifted its head up off of the ground enough so that he could open his mouth for Naruto to pour it in.
While for Naruto it was a pretty big serving, to Kurama it was the equivalent of using an eye-dropper to hydrate a human tongue. But it wasn't about the portion, it was about the taste. It almost made him wish he were smaller so that he could enjoy it better.
"I never saw a fox that liked ramen before." Naruto commented, stashing the bowl back into his bag and pulling out his own bowl for personal consumption.
"You need some variety away from eating people every now and then." Kurama joked blackly as he settled back into his paws as a pillow to rest on, "Eventually the taste just blends together. I like the vitamin-D deficient bodies better. Less crunch, easier to chew."
Naruto didn't know how serious he was about that statement so he just grinned uncomfortably and broke apart his chopsticks to begin eating his own lunch, "T-That's great."
Nobody knew about the presence of Kurama on Uzu no Kuni with the exception of Naruto. And that was just because Naruto randomly came across him after falling into the ravine by accident one day.
Falling to his death after being chased into a hidden pitfall by a massive bear, Naruto was saved by way of his landing on a bed of nine gigantic tails. Naruto after getting over his initial shock innocently asked Kurama if he was stuck. Kurama almost felt the need to show Naruto just how trapped he was, but instead of causing a fatal cave in that would destroy his temporary den, Kurama just told Naruto that he liked it there and not to tell anyone about him until he left or he'd destroy his village.
That was a year ago. And ever since then he had come back to find Kurama still there, just sleeping the days away until he dropped in to wake him up and hang out with him.
Was it a shame that Naruto found a monster fox more willing to spend time with him than other human kids his age in his own clan? Probably.
"So Kurama, I was wondering, do you have a dad?"
"Yes, because there's more than one gigantic fox running around the world." Sarcasm aside, there was no real reason to be so nasty to the kid. It was just a question, and for a human he wasn't afraid of him for what he was. That was strange. Strange enough to be intriguing, "Father wouldn't be the correct term. I had a creator."
"So he wasn't around for you?" Naruto could relate if that were indeed the case. All he could relate Minato to being was the guy that banged his mom and left her with the baggage. Not in so crude a way of speaking, but more or less such, "The whole big talking fox thing was a bit weird for him huh?"
"No, the Sage was around quite often." Kurama recalled, swishing his tails around in a bored manner, "He had to be to keep the rest of us in line I imagine." It was funny to remember the days back when he was a young biju. Good times.
Naruto stared at his inhuman acquaintance in awe, "So there are more big, giant foxes out there?"
"No dumbass." Kurama said, using his tails to count off his brothers and sisters, "There's a giant tanuki, a giant cat, a giant turtle… thing, a giant monkey, a giant horse… a giant dolphin thing." What the hell was Kokuou supposed to be? He didn't even know, "A giant slug, a giant beetle, and a giant ox/octopus thing."
"…Your family is weird Kurama."
"I know. Especially since our creator is human. The most sickeningly powerful human that ever walked the face of the planet." And one of the very few humans in his long, long life that he'd ever respected, 'Why am I carrying on a conversation with a brat of a human?'
Possibly because he couldn't sense any negative emotions from the boy directed at him whatsoever. It was how Naruto managed to literally drop in on him to begin with when they'd first met. He still had darkness of course. There was a deep pit of loneliness in the center of Naruto that no amount of loud talking and smiling could hide from Kurama's ability to feel it out.
"Let me just get a nap for a bit." Naruto said with a yawn, still resting on Kurama's paw, "I've got to start going back home soon or Mom's gonna kill me this time. This is a long way out from the village."
Kurama just snorted hot air through his nose and shut his own eyes as Naruto did the same, "Whatever. If I shift around in my sleep and crush you under my chin it's your fault."
"You'd feel bad and cry."
"I'd lick you off of my paw and go back to sleep."
(Uzumaki Clan Village – Clan Grounds)
"I might kill him this time." Kushina muttered to herself as she took down the dried laundry from their backyard and quickly folded it on the spot, "I seriously might. He couldn't wait a week before running off again? I've seen puppies that are easier to train."
"Naruto troubles again Kushina?"
"What's it to you pal?" Kushina barked, not even turning back around to face the calm voice that had remarked about her son, "If he didn't break anything, fight your kid, or do anything that's actually bad I don't want to hear you complain about him to me. Go do it to someone else like everybody else."
"Do you really think the village leader would complain about your kid behind your back? Especially when he's an old friend of yours?"
Kushina stopped folding clothes and turned around with a grin to see a familiar face sitting on the low-lying roof. A man with almost pale skin and chin-length red hair that covered his eyes, he wore traditional plated clan armor over black formal attire with long sleeves that covered his hands.
He just sat there smiling and waiting for her to react somehow, which she did by walking over, hands on her hips as she looked up at him, "Why Nagato-sama. You don't have anything better to do than come pick on little old me?"
Dropping down from his seat on the roof, Nagato landed with a bit of a stumble, chuckling sheepishly at not looking very cool, "I call it checking in." He said, getting a big hug from the spirited mother, "Good to see you Kushi… it's been a while. I wanted to stop in before the Senju Clan meeting in about a week. No idea when else I'd have the free time."
"Being clan leader is a tireless job after all." Kushina commented glibly, "I don't really get much to do with clan affairs anymore as you know, so it's nice to know sometimes that I've got a friend up there somewhere. But I guess it does get lonely up at the top for a 'God' after all."
"Don't you start calling me that now too." Nagato complained, revealing behind his red bangs a pair of strange purple eyes with ring ripple patterns in them, "I actually like the fact that someone around doesn't always consider the Rinnegan first when they think of me."
"Because when I think about Nagato, I can't help but think back to the crybaby you used to be. Sticking those fancy eyes in your head all of a sudden can't make me forget that." Back before Nagato had somehow awakened the Rinnegan, he and Kushina had been friends.
Back then he didn't have many of them because of his personality, but after it became known during his early teen years that he had the Rinnegan things changed popularity-wise for him, and to his credit he grew into it to the point where when it came time to select a new clan head he was chosen despite being under thirty at the time, mostly due to the deterrent that the threat of the Rinnegan posed for potential enemies of the Uzumaki Clan.
Even so, even with people falling all over them to get on the good side of the man that had inherited the legendary eyes of the Rikudou Sennin, Kushina wasn't one of them and still treated him like regular old Nagato, something that he actually appreciated to keep him honest.
By the time he became clan head a few years back Kushina had already fallen out of favor for having Naruto with a roaming, clanless ninja, so it wasn't as if she cared about making more people angry. Thus she spoke on what she felt about what she was privy to with clan activities, and Nagato liked to use her as a sounding board of sorts for a completely unbiased opinion that wouldn't suck up to him.
That, and he'd known her for his entire life and had seen how beautiful she'd become. She'd been a great active ninja. She probably still was. And she was a close friend of his.
"So." Nagato said, looking around as the lovely female redhead got back to working on the laundry, "Where's your firstborn?"
Kushina chuckled darkly at the topic of Naruto being brought back up, "Take a guess."
Powerful as he was, Nagato felt the need to take a step back for safety just in case Kushina's temper wasn't level, "…Ran off again?"
"Of course. It's his thing apparently." As annoyed by it as she sounded before she sighed and a melancholy look came to her eyes, "Not that I can really blame him for not wanting to be around here with the way things are for him. It's the only thing I regret about being with Minato; what it's done to Naruto just for being born." A pretty big regret even if it was the only one she had.
Most of the Uzumaki Clan didn't claim Naruto as one of them because of the nature of his birth. Even though Kushina and Minato were married at the time of conception and birth, Naruto was perceived as a bastard. The fact that he didn't look like a single one of them didn't help either. It just drove the stake in further.
"You could remarry back into the clan. That would solve most of the hate." Nagato presented to Kushina as an option, "If you married someone with enough pull they could even shield Naruto from the way others treat him." For some reason it sounded like he was talking about himself, even if he didn't say it aloud, "It'd be better than it is now."
"I'm not divorcing Minato."
"He could be dead. You haven't seen him in how many years?"
"You know better." Kushina said with a ghost of a smile on her lovely face and a shake of her head, "Shame on you."
"Sorry, sorry. It's just that you know what it's like on the mainland. If it wasn't for-."
Kushina cut him off and explained everything he was about to say, "I know, I know. If it weren't for the Senju, the fact that we're our own island nation, and the fact that you having the Rinnegan scares the hell out of most of the superstitious clans out there we'd be up to our necks in enemies."
Fuuinjutsu was that dangerous of an art to specialize in, and the Uzumaki Clan was the best at it in the entire world. It was like they could speak their own language with the arrays, the hand-seals, and the effects. Even the children were fairly decent at it.
That made a lot of people afraid, for many reasons. Most prominent of them being that fuuinjutsu was the only known way to defend in earnest against the nine forces of nature in their world that went by the collective name of the biju, none of whom had been seen attacking in quite some time. Years and years.
The Uzumaki Clan had cornered the market so to speak on the best fuuinjutsu available. They were always coming up with more as well. And that was something that everyone wanted to keep an eye on. Every advantage available was more than welcome.
It was a wild world out there.
The conversation tapered off as Nagato had figured he'd overstepped his bounds even as village leader. Kushina was a married woman and was incredibly faithful even though not a single person had seen Namikaze Minato in Uzu no Kuni in ten years. It wasn't like he was welcome amongst their clan anyway. He was a vagrant ninja and everyone knew it. No clan, no pull in the world. The only thing about him was that he was apparently strong. Extremely strong.
Hell, the only reason most people in the village didn't think of him as a myth was because Naruto was physical proof of his bloodline. Namikaze Minato; the ninja so strong that his own physical traits managed to overpower the dominant physical traits of the Uzumaki Clan in his offspring.
It didn't need to be brought up to his wife to piss her off. Enough idiots had done that through the earlier years of their relationship and even after she'd had Naruto and Minato had been more or less subsequently blackballed from returning.
People had rather short memories as to how much of a scary badass someone could be when they were a new mother and hadn't been in the field for years just to raise her son and make sure he was properly cared for.
And Nagato loved her. But he could not have her. She was married with a son, and the son was a constant reminder of the man that took Kushina off the market before he was confident enough in himself as a ninja and a man to approach her as anything more than a friend. Even when he wasn't anywhere near them the cloud of Namikaze Minato hung over the village.
"I just know that if Naruto could meet Minato it would change his life, the way it changed mine. Ours." Kushina said, looking off at the sunset, "One day he will."
Every time the topic of Minato was brought up between Nagato and Kushina, hearing the way she spoke of him made his heart hurt. That was the way he wished that she would speak of him. In a better world, he would have been the one that she fell for. Naruto would be his son instead.
So many things would be different.
(With Naruto – Uzu no Kuni Countryside – Hidden Ravine)
Naruto couldn't tell the passing of time down in the dark ravine for two reasons. One, there was no way he could see the position of the sun because of the cave walls and the trees that concealed the top of the ravine. The second reason was because he was dead asleep in the paw of a walking natural disaster that was also asleep.
If he was awake, he'd be aware of the fact that the sun was going down, and he'd be freaking out because by the time he got home Kushina would be spitting fire at him she'd be so angry.
Fortunately he didn't have to worry about such things while sleeping, and he didn't seem like he'd be waking up anytime soon. Neither did Kurama.
Until one gigantic red eye snapped open upon the feeling of a disturbance in the air, just in time to catch sight of a swirling vortex appearing in the air at the back end of the ravine. From within it, a man appeared attired in a long, hooded cloak with an orange and black mask covering his face, "The Kyuubi no Yoko. The strongest of the nine biju."
Unlike with Naruto, Kurama sensed nothing but malice and ill intent from this man, and he stood up suddenly, prepared to kill the intruder. Who was this? He didn't feel anything at all one second and the next he was right on him.
Naruto fell off of Kurama's paw when he stood up and fell down onto the ground in a heap, "Wah! W-What? Why'd that happen? Kurama why'd you-?" He noticed that there was something wrong when he saw Kurama standing defensively, glaring and growling openly at something at the other end of the cave, "Who is that?"
"You've come to the wrong place human." Kurama said threateningly, his booming voice bouncing off of every wall with menace, "I'll give you one chance to leave the way you came."
"Or else what?" The masked man asked, sounding amused at Kurama's aggression.
"Or else I'll show you a little something I like to call 'fuck everything in that general direction'."
"You're aware that a Bijudama down here would cause an earthquake that would devastate this island aren't you?"
"Oh, I'm sorry. You're under the impression that I give a damn!" With that, Kurama lashed out with several of his positively massive tails, impaling into the walls and pulverizing rock formations sticking out of the ground while the strange man seemed fast enough to dodge them all, 'What? It would take more than speed to avoid all of my tails.' It was like he knew the direction they'd be coming from.
The masked man blurred through hand-seals and produced an offensive jutsu of his own to do battle with the monster before him, "Katon: Goukakyuu no Jutsu (Fire Release: Great Fireball Jutsu)!" Somehow from behind his mask he produced a mammoth fireball half the size of Kurama's head, but the deadly target of his choice merely swiped it out of existence with a paw.
"Die for me now." Kurama demanded as utilized his paw with the same swipe that destroyed the fireball to smash into the masked man, dragging the clawed appendage through the ground hard and fast enough to cause a miniature earthquake that brought large portions of the ravine down around him.
Something was wrong though, as Kurama felt a malevolent presence open up above him. From in the air over his head, the mysterious attacker dropped from the same kind of portal that he'd originally appeared from, 'He is holding back. This is perfect.'
Trying for another quick tailed assault, Kurama sent forth the last two of his tails only for the strange man to maneuver his body through them while falling before landing on one and running up the length of it.
Reaching Kurama's body itself, he made eye contact with the gargantuan fox through the eyeholes of his mask, "How about a blast from the past Kyuubi!"
Kurama couldn't see it from a distance, but once his attacker got close enough to look him in the eye and he saw the imprint of red eyes with three tomoe patterns in them form in his mind he did his best to shake off the control, thrashing about wildly into the walls, crashing harshly and bringing down chunks of rock able to crush a man, 'No! Sharingan! That damned eye!'
Naruto had long since become aware enough of what was going on to know that there was some serious danger going on around him. Dodging rocks, Naruto couldn't help but feel serious concern for Kurama. His roars as he tried to keep the genjutsu from taking hold, "Kurama!" Naruto turned his head and caught sight of the sinister culprit that was hurting the fox, "What are you doing?"
"Oh that's adorable." The masked man said in regards to Naruto as he saw the young Uzumaki Clan member storming right for him, dodging rocks for dear life as he tried to get close enough to fight, "You're worried about a monster that wouldn't hesitate to snuff you out in an instant. But let me tell you a secret kid."
It was brave for Naruto to try and fight him, but had he been paying attention? He'd just subdued a gigantic fox with the power to tear landscapes asunder. Did he really think anything he could do would hurt him?
Nevertheless, Naruto ran up the side of a nearby rock spire before leaping right off of it at his new enemy, unsealing a fuuma shuriken that he unfolded and held by the center ring around his wrist, "Leave him alone or I'll-!" His threat died in his throat when his opponent didn't budge, and the swing of his weapon passed right through him as if he were a specter.
He never felt the subsequent blow from the masked man that sank itself right into his belly, holding him up off of the ground just by the fist. Naruto choked and sputtered as his shuriken clanged to the ground.
The masked man grabbed Naruto by the collar of his shirt and held him up to whisper in his ear, "The secret is, it's not the monsters the size of a mountain that you should be scared of. It's the monsters that look like me or you that are the scariest of all." By now Kurama had been subdued by whatever genjutsu had been cast upon him, rendering him docile, and the mysterious attacker then proceeded to do the exact same thing to Naruto, "You know, you look like someone I've met before."
The kid looked just like Namikaze Minato. How funny would it be for him to use the son of that man to kick off his plans and set everything into motion. He was going to kidnap a child of the Uzumaki Clan later, but this saved him risking Kurama attacking the village to obtain a proper vessel. Naruto's mere presence in the ravine also caused Kurama to hold back, making the battle easier than the masked man had anticipated.
Besides, Naruto's chakra was abundant and powerful for a small boy. Even by Uzumaki standards. He was perfect. Yes, Naruto was going to help him save that rotting cesspool of a world that the ninja in general had turned it into.
"Let me tell you something else while you're being such a good boy. Something I want you to remember as everything falls apart around you." The masked man said as he walked down the side of his elevated position, "All warfare since the beginning of the Shinobi Sect is based on deception. For years, every fool clan bastardizing the will of the Rikudou Sennin with their own machinations has made the world a battlefield. Brothers, sons, sisters, daughters, wives, mothers, fathers, husbands… everyone spills their blood for their selfish causes, and they have for centuries."
After getting down from his rocky perch, the masked ninja walked over to Kurama and dropped Naruto in a heap right at the yoked biju's feet before rolling up his shirt enough to expose his navel. With a few hand-seals, he had summoned a ritualistic alter with Naruto at the center of it.
"The deceit of conflict cuts both ways." The masked man continued to the catatonic boy as he went through a long, careful chain of hand-seals, "The bigger the lie, the more likely people will believe it. People will call for vengeance, and the lie spreads like a wildfire. The fire builds, devouring everything in its path. Our enemies all believe that they alone dictate the course of history."
As he finished his chain of seals, a glow overtook all of Kurama's body and Naruto's as well as the man placed his hand on his stomach and finished his jutsu, bathing the entire ravine in a blinding light.
"…And all it takes is the will of a single man."
"NARUTO YOU'RE IN SO MUCH TROUBLE!"
What a way to start a morning.
Awakening with a start, Naruto rocketed out of his bed and bounced off of the ceiling before falling onto the floor, Kushina standing over him in a white yukata, much to his confusion, "Mom?"
"Yeah, your mother." Kushina said flatly before beginning to put on a display of waterworks with a sniffle, "The woman that brought you into this world and nurtured you lovingly. Gave to you of herself with all of her heart, and yet day after day you continue to disobey even the simplest request when all she wants is for her son to be safe and a splendid shinobi-!"
Naruto hopped back up and hugged her tightly, "Mom I'm so sorry, I didn't want to be gone so long you were worried! I wanted to come back sooner yesterday but I fell asleep and I lost track of time and-." Got beaten up by some guy in a mask that did something to make Kurama freak out.
Wait a minute, did that shit actually happen or was that a dream? And how did he even get home? He didn't remember walking, but he still had the feeling in his legs that he'd have after he trekked home from a venture to Kurama's temporary den.
His stomach hurt like hell too now that he was awake enough to feel it. But it wasn't a sick, puky kind of hurt or a physical one. It was like a burning feeling, like something being steadily seared into his being, if there was a way that someone could know what that felt like.
Apparently Naruto cutting off the explanation of his own train of events from last night was enough for Kushina to believe she'd gotten the gist of what had happened. She'd heard it more than a few times before already, "I only tell you to do things that I do because I love you Naruto." She said as she ran a hand through his hair.
"I know." Naruto mumbled into her yukata, "I'll try. I don't want to do it to make you mad. It's just… I don't know." He said in a near repeat of his conversation with her from the day before.
Kushina just smiled down at him and pulled away to exit his room, "You don't have to say if you don't want, but remember that you can tell me anything. No matter what happens. No matter how old you get or how strong you become you'll still be my baby. And I'll still be able to kick your ass no matter what, so be good." She walked down the hall and shouted something back at him, "Make sure you wash your face before breakfast! You're filthy! The dirt on your face looks like whiskers!"
Naruto grinned at her until she vanished from sight in the doorway. Once he was certain that she was gone he held his stomach with a cringe and sat down on his bed, looking out at the early morning sun. Kushina loved making sure he was up no later than six-thirty every morning, and he had no idea what time he'd gotten back last night.
Was it a dream? He got beaten up. Losing a fight like that should have meant death. But he was alive, with an entire body that burned like fire on the inside, but he was okay. At least he figured he was okay.
If it was real then what happened to the guy? What happened to him that he was able to walk out of there and not remember it? What happened to Kurama?
Naruto looked at his bag on the floor and then to his own doorway before making a decision. Sorry Kushina. He'd be home quick this time, "…I've got to go back."
Outside, walking the Uzumaki Clan streets trying to get herself to wake up properly for the day, Karin rubbed at her eyes underneath her glasses before sighing at the first specs of light peeking over the horizon, "Why can't the day start at noon or something? The sun doesn't even want to be up right now."
As she walked she saw a little black and orange figure dart over the fence to his house and head off in a hurry to wherever he was planning on going so early in the morning.
"Naruto." Karin said a bit distastefully. Other kids liked to ignore him and even she ostracized him from time to time to fit in with the rest, but there was a reason she never tried to follow him despite being able to sense him. She just wasn't fast enough to keep up with him. When it came to training she hated it except for when it came to using the Mind's Eye of the Kagura. She loved that jutsu.
Speaking of which, she might as well get in a bit of practice by locking in on Naruto's chakra signature. She was used to how it felt so it couldn't have been that hard.
And it wasn't. But she wasn't expecting to get the equivalent of feedback overload in her brain due to being unprepared for the sheer amount of chakra that was inside of his body. That definitely hadn't been there yesterday, 'That's such strong chakra!' And Kami it was unstable.
She had to tell someone, because something was wrong. There was something infinitely more powerful than Naruto inside of his body. There was something sealed in there.
Something strong. Something bad.
(Later that Day – Uzu no Kuni Countryside – Hidden Ravine)
Naruto knew the way back to Kurama's den by heart, and his body moved on autopilot, using every precious brain cell to try and dredge up a decent recollection of what happened last night.
He was hanging out with Kurama. He went to sleep. He woke up and fell off of Kurama's paw. Weird guy in freaky full mask attacked Kurama, and instead of being smushed or eaten he did something to mess with his head. Naruto tried to fight him, and got flattened. He made eye contact with the guy, and then he went dark.
That didn't explain anything.
As he came back to the ravine, Naruto got on his hands and knees at the edge and looked down into the dark as if he could see with no light down there.
"Kurama!" Naruto yelled down the crevice, letting his voice echo until nothing of it remained. He just repeated himself hoping to get some kind of answer, "Kurama!"
He tried again time and time again, but got no response until he found himself pulled up by the back of his shirt and turned around in the air to face the familiar visage of Kushina, who didn't seem surprised but still rather perturbed nonetheless.
"Yeah, I followed you today." Kushina said, stating the obvious to break the ice, "I didn't think you could hustle like that though. You made pretty good time for coming this far into the backcountry."
"You're welcome." Kushina's smile was downright pleasant, but Naruto fell into what he considered to be an awkward silence as he remained off of the ground in his mother's grasp, at least until she felt her smile grow strained and she began slinging him around in a circle by his shirt, "What the hell is a Kurama, why the hell is it down a ravine, and is this where you've been going everyday!?"
A motion sick Naruto didn't know which question to answer first, "Wauwauwauwau! Mom stop!" Kushina's temper had officially reached the boiling point with him and his constant sneaking away from the village.
"And another thing! Why is your face still dirty? I saw you go into the bathroom before you tried to sneak out!"
"I washed up and changed clothes after I took a leak! I'm not dirty!"
"Then what's with the smudges on your cheeks you sneaky smartass?"
Kushina stopped swinging Naruto and set him down to observe his face up close, clutching his cheeks to look at the tanned flesh and the three horizontal lines on each cheek. Maternal instinct kicked in and Kushina licked at her own thumb before trying to stubbornly rub the marks off, ignoring Naruto's complaints to how it was gross.
She did so to no avail. They stayed on as if they were parts of his actual skin.
After trying and failing time and time again, Kushina just stared at Naruto's face, "…They're real." She said softly, confusing Naruto as it showed on his face, "Naruto… where did you get those marks?"
Naruto hadn't seen any marks, even when he'd washed up that morning. He had been in such a hurry he hadn't bothered to give himself anything more than a passing glance in the mirror, "What marks?" Naruto asked, "Mom, you're freaking me out. What marks?"
She just shook her head and looked over his shoulder at the ravine behind him, "Naruto, what have you been doing in this place? What did you do last night?" She was terrified. People didn't just get markings like that. There were clan markings, but the Uzumaki didn't have any.
Markings like that also meant other things. Terrible things. She needed to hear something from Naruto. Something positive. Something to set her mind at ease, because looking at the marks that had popped up on his skin overnight had her fearing the worst in the pit of her stomach.
"I… I don't know."
And this time when he said this, it wasn't because he was just trying to hide how he really felt from his mother. Naruto honestly had no idea what had transpired the night before. But whatever had happened after the man in the mask knocked him out put those marks on his cheeks, put that feeling in his body, and was making Kushina tear up right in front of his eyes.
Damn that masked man. What did he do to him? What did he do to Kurama?
(Uzumaki Clan Village – Clan Leader Mansion)
A leader's work was never done for Nagato. After stepping into the office that morning he had to deal with all sorts of requests. Civilian merchants in town wanted to request the services of the clan to protect them while they went out to obtain goods from the mainland. There were even a good number of requests from clients on the mainland that had yet to be sorted and given a price.
As far as things went, Uzu no Kuni was the closest thing to ninja paradise that one could find in the world today. The status quo was good to their clan. They weren't the strongest or most feared, but they didn't have to be the way that things were for them.
A knock came at the door and Nagato looked up to respond, "Come in."
After being prompted, a red-haired woman, his secretary/bodyguard, opened the door and poked her head in, "You've got someone here to see you Nagato-sama. One of the clan children, her name is Karin."
"Send her on in." The Rinnegan possessor said with an amicable smile as the nervous little girl was ushered in, "What can I do for you today Karin-chan? I doubt your parents want you trying your hand at a mission yet." He joked… somewhat. She was definitely old enough to take missions, though whether she was talented enough was another thing entirely.
The nerves at standing before the most powerful Uzumaki Clan ninja possibly ever started catching up to Karin who had never spoken to Nagato before, "W-Well Nagato-sama, um it's about another kid. Naruto."
Nagato frowned at the topic. He may not have been fond of Naruto for lineage reasons, but people trying to find some excuse to complain about him was annoying. The last thing anyone needed was for the children to fall into that habit too. It would make it extremely difficult for Naruto to work with them when the time came, "If you're having a problem with Naruto I'm sure it's something that two clan ninja such as yourselves can work out."
"No it's not that. There's something wrong with Naruto's chakra." Karin said, wringing her jacket with her hands, "It feels weird. I don't know how to explain it. It's like there's something else sealed inside of him. Whatever it is, it doesn't feel human."
The mood then turned gravely serious. This was not the sort of thing that was to be joked about, "How 'not human' did it feel?"
"It's the scariest chakra I've ever sensed in my life." Karin admitted, walking closer to the desk of the village leader, "I thought I messed up and turned off my jutsu for a second before I tried it again and it was the exact same."
Nagato got up and walked around the desk before setting his hands on Karin's shoulders and giving her a reassuring smile, "Thank you for telling me this. It's a very important thing that you did." Karin blushed at the attention and nodded as Nagato ushered her out, "Go on home for now."
After seeing her out and shutting the door behind him, Nagato sat back down at his desk and placed his hands on his temple, pushing his hair around his face. This was not good. This was not good at all.
If Karin was right, if Naruto had two sources of chakra and one of them wasn't human there was a chance that somehow the ultimate taboo of the shinobi world had been inexplicably committed.
A jinchuuriki had been created.
Alright. No rest for the weary. We're going to try this one now. I haven't read any stories with this kind of a premise… I think. But then again I haven't tried to really seek out anything to read in a while so it might have been done like this before. I don't know.
A story with the setting timeline-wise of the actual story more or less, but the hidden villages were never set up and created. Gonna be AWESOME!
Gonna be long too.
Whatever. Thanks for reading. Kenchi out.