Chapter 1: Solitude
Disclaimer: I do not own, nor will I ever own any rights to My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, or Naruto. They do not belong to me in any way, shape, form, or idea. This is simply an effort to further my own abilities, entertain myself, and entertain others. No one is intended to be harmed in any way.
Beginning Author's Note: Hello everyone! Welcome to my first of hopefully many stories on this website. I hope you have a good time reading the story, and my one rule is this: No Flames! Constructive criticism is very wanted. Just... no flames.
A tall blonde-haired young man sighed as he walked up a dirt path towards the peak of a majestic mountain. He was having a rather boring day, but going to the top of a mountain for the reason he was did not interest him whatsoever.
Looking around at the scenery, the first word to describe it would be: serene. There was an enormous amount of incredibly varied types of vegetation. Tall oaken trees, with wide leaves and branches cast comforting shadows on the ground below, while allowing rays of beautiful sunlight to breach through them and cast an amorphous pattern of light and shadow on the ground.
Along the path, as it was really just a dirt path with grass and mushrooms and all other manner of nature running along it, grew all manner of small plant life. Sunflowers, dandelions, ferns, etc. There also grew large red mushrooms, easily up to the figure's chest, with white spots across the tops.
Finally, completing the masterpiece of nature there were odd plants that the figure couldn't even try to name which shot high up into the sky. Thick dark green stems with wide leaves shot up all over the mountainside and along the path itself and even into the distance, beyond the line of sight.
Wildlife was also abundant, small animals such as squirrels and even the odd rabbit and deer were commonplace. Birds flew in the sky, nesting in the odd yet peaceful plant-life of the mountain. The most abundant animals however, were the toads.
Toads could be seen everywhere one walked, from statues of ancient toads, honored in the past, to young tadpoles, to adolescent toads just barely out of the pond and getting used to their legs, toads were everywhere.
Of course, these were no ordinary animals, as this was no ordinary place. For this was the Mountain of the Summon Toads, their sanctuary.
The blonde walking along the path couldn't help but smile at the sight of the sun rising from around the distant mountain tops. Despite his lack of will to go to the top of the mountain, he had to admit that the view was spectacular. Walking in what had become his customary clothing for the past decade he was garbed in simple, yet flexible, blue ninja clothing and sandals, a red cloak with black flames over his shoulders. He was also walking with a rather tall staff with a large ring at the top, and six smaller rings hanging around the edge of the large top ring, a Khakkara.
"Neh, Kurama! Isn't it a lovely view today partner?!" The man asked within his soul. A deep and rumbling, yet not cruel, voice responded to his question.
"It certainly is Naruto. I hate to admit it, but this place has grown on me over the past few years." The newly named Kurama replied somewhat reluctantly. The figure grinned, tan skin stretching and the six fox-like whisker marks on his cheeks stretching with it as he broke out into a wide grin.
Kurama, as if sensing his hosts amusement asked back somewhat annoyed, "What? Does it amuse you that I find this place to be peaceful after spending so long here?"
The blonde, Naruto, laughed. "No, no it's not that. I'm more surprised you'd admit it is all." He said as they began their ascent to the peak of the mountain where the Great Toad Sage lay.
"Yeah… well don't get used to it. Just because I'm all 'buddy buddy' with the toads and you doesn't mean I'll let you get away with insulting me!" Naruto smiled as he felt the figures ire, but knew that it was also joking. Hopping over a rather large rock he grinned back.
"So does this mean I should bring you out and have Shima cook some food for you, you great old fox?" Kurama made a retching sound in reply before yelling back.
"Never again! Please! I will never try that… that… monster's cooking again! I couldn't taste anything for a month after that meal Kit! A! MONTH!" Naruto laughed again, this time at the fox's expense before stopping and just taking the moment in.
He was honestly surprised how well he and Kurama had gotten along since the war had ended. Since Kurama existed in his mindscape, Naruto would frequently go there in his sleep to simply talk with the old fox and learn more about him. He felt rather bad, despite the fact that the fox had tried to kill him several times, including when he was a baby.
He realized after learning Kurama's name that the fox had undergone much of the same pain he had. He had been trapped by humans to use as a tool, his sentience and basic right to an identity being overtaken by the purpose humanity had assigned him, and had lost himself in his hatred towards his oppressors.
Over time, he and Kurama had bonded to the point where Naruto could safely say that Kurama was the best friend he would ever have. Sure, they'd annoy each other all the time, and make fun of each other, but he always knew that Kurama would guard his back and help him whenever he needed it.
It was times like this, when he had time to ponder his past and remember all the fun he had with the fox that he realized that…
"Kit… don't get sappy on me now. We talked about this. When you get sappy the water starts to rise and my pristine fur gets all wet…" Came the fox's sarcastic reply from inside his soul. Naruto's eye twitched as the fox laughed at him.
… Kurama could be just as sarcastic a prick as he himself could be these days. "Way to ruin a moment there furball…" He thought angrily to his Nine-Tailed friend.
The fox scoffed. "What? It's true! Ever since you became a full sage, you've gotten so much sappier. It reminds me of the old man."
Naruto grinned at that, idly noting that their journey had passed much quicker than he thought it would thanks to his conversation, and subsequent ire, with his tenant. "Oh? Comparing me to the most badass shinobi to ever live? Thanks Kurama…"
The fox's reply was equally as joking. "Well… maybe not quite like father… but you're close. Like… halfway? Maybe?! Hahahah!"
Naruto's eye twitched before he turned his attention to the smaller figure standing in front of him. It was a small, elderly male toad with dark green skin, white hair, and a stern expression. He was also wearing a plain brown cloak. His eyes were closed, indicating that he was focusing on something.
"Yo Fukasaku-sensei! What's up?" Naruto asked him, not caring that he was probably breaking the toad's focus.
Fukasaku shot the boy a withering glare, which had him step back, before the toad sighed amusedly. "You never change, do you Naruto-boy?" Naruto grinned at the toad's nickname for him.
"No…" Came Kurama's sarcastic response from inside of his soul.
"Nobody asked you Kurama!" He yelled dejectedly while the fox laughed at him. Looking to Fukasaku he replied happily.
"Yeah… well, –" That was all he was able to say before he was cutoff as a staff nearly hit him on the head. He blocked with his own staff, and grunted at the strong force behind to blow. Fukasaku smiled before pulling the staff back.
"When did he even pull it out?" Naruto asked himself quietly before lowering his staff. "What the hell Sensei?!" He asked angrily to the toad's now grinning mouth.
"Good job my boy! Glad to see you haven't lost you edge!" The toad laughed lightly before turning around and hopping towards the large building at the top of the mountain that Naruto had previously ignored. It was a rather interesting and old looking shrine, and the design indicated that who or whatever existed in there had earned a large degree of respect.
"What?! Hey! Get back here!" He yelled running up to the old toad, who was still hopping along towards the large building. "Do you mean to tell me that you called me up here just to attack me sensei?!"
The toad gave him another withering glance out of the corner of his eyes, his tone now less jolly and more annoyed. "No you fool! I attacked you because of what I found you and the Great Toad Sage were doing up here! Honestly Naruto-boy, working with experimental seals is dangerous and something I'd expect from Jiraiya-boy. Working with sealing arrays that take up the floor of the sanctuary and appear to require the chakra of a Jinchurikki to even attempt to activate is something I didn't even thing YOU were capable of doing! Honestly!"
Naruto had the sense to look sheepish at that. Fukasaku continued. "What are you even planning on doing with that giant array you have made? In the middle of our greatest and most important building no less!"
Now Naruto was actually somewhat nervous. When Fukasaku yelled at him these days it usually meant he had done something stupid and had actually earned his master's ire. Scratching the back of his head and averting his eyes he mumbled out, "Well… do you really want to know?"
"YES!" Fukasaku yelled out angrily. Naruto sighed.
"I was… hoping to look into exploring other summon realms…" He winced, already expecting his old sensei's outburst.
He wasn't disappointed. The toad, practically apoplectic with rage at this point swung its staff out towards him so quickly Naruto almost couldn't block it. Even then, the force of the blow surprised him and caused him to skid back. "Damn, old geezer's still got a lot of fight in him."
The toad hopped in front of him squinting at him with hard eyes. When he spoke, his voice was reigned in, a sure sign Naruto was going to have a rough day. "Are you mad boy?! Do you have any idea how dangerous this could be?!"
Naruto nodded, deciding to be serious since his master was being so serious. Kurama had gone silent, letting master and student duke it out.
"Of course I do! Why do you think I asked to work with the senile old toad in the first place?! He's forgotten more about seals than anyone, even an Uzumaki, could ever learn in the first place!"
"And why should that comfort me?! He's old Naruto! He's prone to make a mistake, just as you are!" Fukasaku countered just as harshly. Naruto narrowed his eyes in anger.
"Why are you getting so upset over this sensei?! Do you not trust me to make a working seal after studying it for so long? Or do you not trust me to look after myself?" The toad glanced to the side uncertainly, but Naruto got all the answer he needed. "You don't trust me. Even after all I've done… how could you not trust me?!"
He stood back up, towering over the toad and continued. "You trusted me to fight Pein all those years ago! You all trusted me to save the world too! How is this more dangerous, huh sensei?!" The toad didn't answer, looking down slightly in some shame. Naruto growled.
"Was it just because of the old toad's prophecy that you even trusted me to do that in the first place? Do I still fail to reach some expectation of your – "
"It has nothing to do with that Naruto!" Fukasaku yelled out angrily for once, cutting his blonde apprentice from many years ago off. "You have never failed to exceed any of my expectations! No, it has nothing to do with you!"
Naruto deflated, using his staff as support as if he was physically struck. "Then… why are you so angry?"
Fukasaku threw his... hands… up in the air. "Because we aren't supposed to enter other summoning realms Naruto! It goes against our treaties! I thought you knew that!"
Naruto sighed. He knew it alright, but he had hoped that he would be able to use the sway being the child of prophecy had to let him travel to those lands anyways. It wasn't that he felt he was entitled to it, he was honestly curious about the other lands and had been missing a sense of adventure over the years.
"I do." He sighed towards his master, incredulous expression now on the toad's face. "I had hoped… that I would be able to travel to their lands and explore them, renew my old sense of adventure and maybe smooth things over between the summoning clans…"
Fukasaku was floored at that. Here he was yelling at his apprentice for what he presumed was audacity and arrogance, when really he had good intentions, if a little steeped in personal boredom. Far from the self-serving nature he thought this little expedition was based upon.
Fukasaku sighed, looking at Naruto before looking at the mountains, thinking. "Would it really be a bad idea to let him go? His intentions are pure… and they could smooth things over between several of the other clans…" Fukasaku was actually torn. The summon clans lived in a precarious, but also somewhat stable peace ever since the era of the First Hokage Senju Hashirama.
They had agreed to use Earth as their battleground, rather than the summon realms themselves, thus allowing the many clans to exist in their world's peacefully and settle their many scores with each other on the land of earth, while allied with the ninjas. Overtime, they began to grow affiliations with the villages, and thus certain clans allied with each other, but generally they all stuck to the contract because it worked and they did not want war to break out in their homeland like it had on the plane they were summoned.
He sighed. "I know he'd be able to do it, the sway he has after slaying the Ten-Tailed Monster is enormous, and he can't learn any other sage arts or secrets unless he signs their contracts. Hell, he won't even be able to read them due to protective jutsu-shiki on their scrolls." He looked at the boy and widened his eyes at the sight.
Naruto looked… old.
Not physically, he looked almost as he had all those years ago after they had first met, just a little older physically. No more than 5 years. But his posture screamed age. His shoulder's were slumped, his eyes turned downwards slightly at the corners. His smile seemed almost bitter-sweet, not the kind he had worn honestly long ago after the war when he was with his friends and… wife. Fukasaku also noticed how tightly he gripped his own staff, a testament to how strongly he was resisting the urge to snap out and say something.
For the first time since they had met and he had been teaching him, Naruto looked…
The old sage sighed, realizing that he had been rough on his pupil, but he was concerned. He truly cared for Naruto, even more than he did for Jiraiya, and only wanted him to be safe and happy. "But before he can be happy he should be safe… shouldn't he?"
He looked out at the mountain for a moment longer before sighing again, noticing absently that he had been doing that quite frequently since this meeting began and spoke up. "… I don't suppose you've tested this seal have you?"
Naruto perked up at that slightly. "Yes, I actually had Katsuya test it out by sending one of her slug clones over. She told me they received it and that the seal worked. Which is awesome, because I planned on visiting a bit… friendlier territory before going anywhere like Ryuchi Cave… even I'm not that stupid."
Fukasaku held an involuntary shiver at the thought of the sanctuary of the serpents, but pressed onwards. "And you've accounted for everything. The seal is drawn perfectly, not a kanji out of place? The right chakra ratios?" Naruto nodded, a grin starting to form on his face. The old toad nodded before turning and moving towards the Great Toad Sage's palace.
"Well then… I guess we'd better get moving then, eh Naruto-boy?" He grinned, although Naruto couldn't see it as hit back was turned, as Naruto whooped with joy at that.
"But! Before you go, you're going to have dinner with Ma and I and I'm going to look over your sealing formula!"
Naruto's groan of suffering made this all the more worth it.
"That'll show you not to mess with the old toad, eh Naruto-boy? Hehehe."
It wouldn't be for another week that Naruto actually went through with his plan. He and Kurama had some last minute business to attend to.
Primarily, he had to first survive his meal with Shima and Fukasaku. He may have gotten used to their food, as he ate it every day, but when Shima cooked for him and they were angry, well….
It was never pleasant.
After that he had undergone a rigorous re-appraising of all of his calculations and drawings for the seals, re-doing the math from scratch, comparing the two, and even using clones to check their work.
That was the most tedious part, as he had to constantly break down the sealing array, starting from the outside and going to the inside, and relate the equations to each other and force them to balance out the proper way. In essence, he relived the experience of making the seal and once again understood why most ninja had never invested in sealing style techniques.
They were too hard to use.
Of course, with his Uzumaki blood, the help of thousands of shadow clones over the course of years, and the help of not only the Great Toad Sage but Fukasaku and even Shima, he had managed it in the end.
Now, a day before he left to the other realms, he found himself standing on a ledge on the side of a mountain. It was rather inconspicuous, and very easily hidden by the natural landmarks, but for one who knew how to find it, it was simple. He and, more importantly, Kurama, were there for a meeting with several important beings.
The eight other Tailed Beasts.
"Let's see… twist this knob, a pinch of chakra here… and… voila!" Naruto spoke to himself as a passage opened in the side of the mountain, revealing nothing but a white void.
Walking in, the passage sealed itself off, relocking itself and sealing them inside until their business was done.
Naruto looked in front of him, seeing the other eight of Kurama's siblings standing in front of him, curious looks on their faces.
"Naruto? Why are you here?" Questioned Gyuki, the eight-tails. "Is everything alright?"
Naruto went to speak, but was cut-off by the rather loud voice of Shukaku. "Yeah! Speak up! I was sleeping before I got pulled into this void!"
Inside of Naruto Kurama growled, "Let me out Kit. I'll deal with him… besides. This is more for my sake than yours anyway."
Naruto sighed, but agreed. Reaching down and twisting the seal, Kurama's chakra quickly left Naruto's body for a short while allowing him to stand in front of his brethren in all of his might once again.
The nine Bijuu had actually been retrieved from the Juubi after the "final battle" of the Fourth Shinobi World War. They had quickly retreated to the summoning world, and had staked claims in differing summoning world's territories that were willing to have them. Chomei, for example, was currently living with the Beetle summons as they shared much in common physically, and Shukaku had surprisingly joined the dog summons on the agreement that they never use his body as a place to relieve themselves.
Kurama found that part especially hilarious…
Shukaku glared at Kurama, crossing his arms over his chest. "Oh. It's you. What'dya want Kurama? Not here to make fun of me this time?"
Kurama waved a paw mockingly, never liking Shukaku, especially for how he treated his host. "Not this time you sandy fuzz ball. I'm actually here for a more important reason."
Kokuo chose to speak up at that moment, leaning casually on his paws. Around him, the rest of the tailed beasts had all started to pay rapt attention to the interplay. Afterall, it wasn't often they were summoned to meet with each other.
"So Kurama, why have you chosen to gather all of us here? We haven't met since the fall of the Juubi. Is there a problem that needs our help?"
Kurama shook his head negatively. "Not quite my brother, this is more… personal."
Standing in front of them he started to look them over, his eyes gaining a slightly nostalgic glint. Seeing his hesitation, Matatabi chose to speak up at that moment, her two fiery tails waving around lazily.
"Just speak up Kurama! I'm sure what ever it is it can't be that bad…"
Kurama looked at her and sighed, sitting down on his hind legs. "I'll be frank. Tomorrow, the kit and I are leaving for other summoning lands to explore them."
Gyuki nodded, seeing where he was coming from. "I understand that Kurama. You told us about this before… but why call us here if you're just repeating what you already told us? Is there more?"
Kurama looked at him and nodded, clenching his teeth tightly before beginning. "Look. The point of me doing this is… a bit more selfish than I like, and a bit more pitiful. I'm here to apologize."
That statement floored everyone, even Naruto who had called this meeting in the first place for Kurama.
"What do you mean apologize?!" Shukaku shouted out in surprise and anger. Kurama had always teased him the most, as their tails were evident of their power and Shukaku was the weakest out of all the nine Bijuu.
Kurama's shoulders slumped at that. "I mean exactly what I say. I'm here to apologize for how I've acted over the years after the death of our father."
The Three Tails, Isobu, chose to speak up at that moment, staying silent for most of the time like Saiken, the six tailed slug and Son Godu, the four tails. "So is this more of a chance to help yourself Kurama or…" He let the statement hang and Kurama winced, feeling regret for how he had treated the others in the past.
Consumed by his blind arrogance as the most powerful being to ever walk the face of the earth after the Juubi was defeated, several years after the death of the Sage of Six Paths, Kurama had attacked his brothers and sisters in an effort to subjugate them to his will.
He was victorious. His power simply eclipsing the full might of all the other bijuu. Afterwards, he had spat upon their wounded bodies and gone off on his own to terrorize the world that was so filled with hate. His response had been so unexpected that it caused many of the other Bijuu, especially Shukaku who had at the time admired Kurama for his strength and former kindness, to go insane with bloodlust and anger themselves.
In a way, Kurama was the cause of their suffering, and after spending so long with Naruto he had come to recognize this.
He felt horrible for how he had acted.
"No… no I truly mean it. I've had many years to think over my actions and the results they caused. I was… idiotic… and driven mad by my lust for power and hatred of humanity. I took out on you all. My family." His voice was laced with regret, scarlet slitted eyes turned downwards.
He continued on anyway. "I was just so… angry at everything. Father was dead, humans were using his teachings to kill each other, polluting the world with their numbers. I fell prey to their unending hatred… adopting it and letting it consume my spirit. I became arrogant, and cruel, and… evil. The direct opposite of what our father wanted us to be…"
Matatabi hissed lowly. "An apology and a sad excuse isn't enough to wash away decades of suffering Kurama!" He flinched at the tone still looking down.
"I know… sister…" She lashed out at the ground at that remark.
She went to yell at him but was halted by Son. "Son! What are you-?"
He went over to Kurama and stared at him long and hard, his four tails swaying slightly, and fists balled up. Kurama looked him dead in the eyes. Every one was silent, waiting for anything to happen. Son was normally boisterous in any meeting, for him to be quiet for so long meant that he was actually doing deep thinking. Finally, he pulled back his fist and with a loud roar, sent it hurtling for Kurama's face.
The blow struck true and launched Kurama a fair way away. "Kurama!" Naruto yelled in shock going to run over to his friend.
"NO KIT! Stay there! I… I've earned that." He said from where he fell, standing as his now broken jaw mended itself.
Son Goku, who was breathing heavily lowered his fist. "You… You think you can just apologize after what you've done! You think we have short memories!?"
Kurama looked at him hardly. "I never said you had to accept my apology Son. I simply wanted to give it out now, before it's too late."
Saiken, the six tailed slug, looked over at him at that statement. In a somewhat high pitched voice he asked, "What do you mean by that Kurama?"
"I mean, that after today, you will probably never see me again for a long, long time. If at all."
The other Bijuu now looked at him in shock. Shukaku was the first to speak up, the sand that composed his body writhing in anger and his pupils dilated in his fury. "What do you mean by that! Are you finally going to go off and try to di-?!"
Kurama silenced him with a wave of his chakra, his time as a punching bag for his kin over. They all flinched, remembering who they were dealing with at the moment. He spoke, this time in his normal, confident voice, but regret still lingering on.
"No Shukaku. I simply wished to give my apology to you all now, because there is a chance we will never meet again." He paused at that, turning around.
"Where are you going Kurama?" Gyuki queried him. Gyuki personally had nothing wrong with the fox, having come to understand him through Killer B and the war.
Kurama glanced at him, favoring him with a small grin. "I can tell you guys are done listening me try and apologize. But I'll say it again anyway. I'm sorry for what I did and what it did to all of you."
Kokuo spoke up for a final time, his five tails waving around speedily as he tried to figure out where Kurama was coming from. "So why did you choose to do it? Why does it matter?"
Kurama smiled. A true smile, like the one's he favored Naruto very rarely and the ones he gave his siblings so long ago when he was a more caring older sibling. Their eyes widened at the sight of it, especially Shukaku, who began to recall their past days when he actually considered Kurama to be his… friend.
"I wanted my brothers' and sisters' last memories of me to be not of the grumpy and spiteful fox I had become, but of the kinder older brother they once knew. I knew that if I left you all with out at least trying I'd be doing all of us a disservice. Now, at least you can look back and remember a glimpse of the sibling you used to know…" And with that he marched over to Naruto.
"I'm ready kit… what?" He looked at his paws to see a surprisingly large volume of sand. Tracking it back to the only possible source, the group of eight Bijuu and one human found Shukaku to be looking at Kurama. Surprisingly he had a tear in his eye.
Turning around, Kurama glanced at Shukaku. "Is there something you need?"
Shukaku glared at him before shouting. "Damn you Kurama! It doesn't work like that!"
Startled by the outburst, the others were powerless to speak as Shukaku continued one of his first rants outside of his insanity. "You can't just do that and expect us… me… to just let you go like that…" They realized he was sad now, despairing at the loss of the sibling he had just regained moments ago.
Kurama's eyes opened wide, before a grin split his muzzle. He broke the sand's hold on him and walked over to Shukaku. Standing before the beast he held out a fist for a fist bump.
Shukaku glanced at it before ginning himself and bumping his sandy fist with his siblings.
"Thank you… Shukaku."
"Don't mention it… Kurama."
Soon the other Bijuu started to walk over towards them. Gyuki, Kokuo, and Chomei came first, as they had long ago forgiven Kurama for what he had done.
Bumping fists with him Kurama looked at them shocked. It was Chomei who spoke up. "What?! Did you expect us to not do this? We had forgiven long ago Kurama, we just needed you to apologize for it to be official."
Gyuki nodded in agreement. "I never really had a problem with you after the war Kurama."
"I just don't really care. You're reason was your own in the end brother." Was Kokuo's response. Kurama gave them a surprised look before smiling.
"Thank you Chomei… Gyuki… Kokuo…" They grinned in their own ways while Chomei sarcastically replied, "Don't get too emotional on us you old Fox…"
Those three were followed by Son Goku and Saiken and Isobu.
"Hahaha! Feel honored that the fantastic King of the Primeapes has HONORED you with -!" Son Goku began before Isobu hit him on the head with a tail. "I mean… yeah after I got my punch, I knew. You were sincere." Kurama smiled all the wider still amused by his brother's performance.
"Saiken and I are really just apathetic towards it. You became mad with bloodlust, so what?! We all did! And we were all sealed, you just happened to be sealed the longest anyway so… eh." Came Isobu's reply as Saiken just nodded.
Finally, Matatabi was the last to go over, but the grin on her face showed that she at least started to forgive Kurama. "I didn't expect you to come over little sister…"
She glared at him while bumping fists. "Yeah, well… if SHUKAKU could forgive you, I guess I can too…"
"Thank you… Matatabi. Thank you everyone!"
Naruto stood off on the side, watching a heart-warming reunion between a destroyed family with a smile on his face.
"Finally looks like they settled their differences and cleared the air between them… good. Family should stick together after all."
The next day found the two of them at the sealing array. Kurama had once again taken residence inside of Naruto's seal, far happier than Naruto had ever seen him in quite a while. Naruto himself was ready as well.
He had traded his red and black coat for a simple brown travelers cloak with a hood, and his Khakkara was being held in his left hand. He had a travelling pouch at his side, as well as a vest filled with several scrolls that held some essential supplies. He had a scroll dedicated to healing ointments and remedies, as well as several books on the subject in case he caught anything (but he doubted he would with Kurama and his Uzumaki blood). Several tonnes of sealing ink and many spare brushes and empty scrolls were also filling another one of his scrolls. He also had food and water in a final scroll, enough to last him for a few months. Finally, he had his prized possessions in a scroll which was in a pocket over his heart.
That scroll contained: his manuscripts for a book he was writing, a signed copy of Jiraiya's old Legend of the Gutsy Ninja, his headband, and, finally the three pictures which meant the world to him.
In front of him were the three toad sages of Mt. Myoboku. They all had solemn looks on their faces, but they were also ready to see him off.
"Are you ready Naruto-boy?" Came the ancient voice of the Great Toad Sage. He looked at the massive amphibian and gave him a thumbs up.
"Very well then. Anything I wanted to tell you, I already have. Fukasaku! Shima! If you have any last words, say them now." The toad's voice carried a… presence with it, that even the two smaller toads couldn't ignore.
Fukasaku looked at him and went to speak, but Shima smacked him with her hand. "Ow!" He moaned as his wife yelled at him. "What?!" He yelled back.
"It's rude to go before a lady! If we had a couch you'd be sleepin' on it Pa!"
He sighed dejectedly. "Sorry Ma."
"You should be!" She finished before turning somber and looking at Naruto. "Naruto-boy… you've been through a lot with us, so I'll keep this brief. Just remember to eat healthy, get plenty of rest, and have fun!" She finished trying to sound happy and exuberant but failing. She had grown to like Naruto over his stay at Mt. Myoboku.
She'd miss him.
She turned to Fukasaku. "Alright Pa. Now you can go."
Fukasaku sighed before starting. "… I've already said my part to you Naruto. So I'll just end with this." He held out his hand, his thumb up as he gave Naruto a grin. Naruto's eyes widened for a moment before he grinned a grin that reached his eyes, reciprocating the nice guy pose Fukasaku was giving him.
"Good luck Naruto-boy! And ditto to everything my wife said!"
Naruto smiled at their sentiments. "Fukasaku-sensei, Shima-sensei… Ma… Pa… thank you. You've really helped me over the years… I know this can't be an easy parting for you both…"
"Very well!" The toad sage said, voice sounding like the crumpling of ancient parchment, a tear in his eye. "Let us begin."
Naruto nodded towards them, his eyes closing as he grabbed his staff with both hands. Grabbing it tightly, he shut his eyes in concentration as he began to channel an ungodly amount of his and Kurama's chakra through the seal. It began to glow a harsh royal purple as the black kanji lit up. It started on the outside of the massive sealing array, which he was in the exact center of, and slowly crept towards him. Naruto would spend the next few minutes grunting in strain as he powered the seal.
Meanwhile, the other three toads were shocked at the sheer volume of chakra he was producing. It felt as if they were currently standing on a pit surrounded on all sides by a bottomless ocean. They began to sweat slightly. Despite the fact that he wasn't channeling any killing intent, the primal fear of pure power had taken over and they couldn't help but feel some fear.
All around Mt. Myoboku the other toads felt the same sensation of being surrounded on all sides by a bottomless sea. They didn't feel despair, simply uncomfortable as the raw energy spread out.
At the nexus of this swirling tide of power, Naruto and Kurama both maintained pure concentration, their forms lighting up as they felt their bodies begin to leave this area and teleport to the next seal. Their struggle came, purely due to the barriers each species had erected around their lands. To break that barrier was to challenge the chakra of hundreds of life-forms which fueled it. The old toad statues of old that failed to master senjutsu actually fueled the toad's barrier, that was why they were protected so. Not just out of memory of powerful allies of the clan who had failed but still reached for the pinnacle of Senjutsu, no. They also served a purpose, even as stone statues.
Finally, Naruto opened his eyes wide, having made the hole he needed to breach through to the land of the slugs. The portal established he turned his eyes one last time to his two mentors.
His eyes met theirs and he favored them one last smile. They were shocked to see a single tear falling down his face at the thought of goodbye.
… he vanished with a burst of light.
Fukasaku looked on, speaking in a solemn voice, with a sad smile on his face. "You think he'll find the happiness he's been missing for so long Ma?"
Shima's reply was as solemn as his own. "… I know he will Pa."
The last thing they had to remember him by was the tear that fell in the center of the seal.
That single tear however, would change everything.
Sealing matrices were meant to stay static as they were used. A single change in the seal would cause a different result.
Normally, sealing ink was impervious to water unless it was flooded with chakra, but due to the presence of the chakra rich environment of Mt. Myoboku as well as the chakra flooding Naruto's body as he prepared for his journey that tear became powerful.
For all the chakra and effects surrounding this single tear, it may as well have been a Water Dragon Bullet from Kisame Hoshigaki that was launched to the center of that seal.
The result was interesting, as now, Naruto who regretted leaving his last remaining comrades would stumble upon a world where he would have the chance to have at least one eternal friend aside from the being stuck in his stomach.
Meanwhile, in another plane of reality a being awoke in shock as she felt the world trembling.
Jettisoning up from her bed, she landed on her four legs, large and white majestic wings fanning out behind her and her long mane and tail flowing as she galloped to the window.
"What… is this?" She asked herself, her voice tender and kind, yet laced with worry and suspense.
"I felt a massive amount of energy from the Everfree Forest… I doubt any other pony in Equestria could feel it aside from Luna... but she is still in the moon…" The thought gave her worry.
What she felt wasn't power on a scale of the average unicorn or even herself. This power was… alien. She could barely feel anything coming from it, rather she could barely comprehend what it even was. She could tell it was massive, but not because she sensed it's depths, no.
She felt the world, Equestria itself, tremble as the power blanketed the entire land.
"It certainly feels like no magic I've ever felt. Even Discord's powers don't hold a candle to this."
That thought worried her. Discord had been their single greatest foe. Their battle with him lasting days. They only won because of his nature, he would never kill and he was simply random chaos. He chose to have fun with the world and rules of reality, because it was simply more interesting to do.
But this, this was focused, this was powerful.
She couldn't help but try and relate it to something, to try and relate it to terms she could understand.
"It felt like I was being crushed on all sides by my very surroundings, as if they could tear me apart in a single instant but refused to…
… like there was an ocean above the sky…"
But search as she might over the next century, she would never find out who or what that power belonged to. All she could tell is that it had arrived quite suddenly, as if in a flash of light, somewhere near the Everfree Forest, a vast expanse outside of the simple town of Ponyville she was surprised no one else had felt anything.
There wasn't even any evidence of where this… thing… had arrived except for a strange and massive array somewhere near the south edge of the forest, near the Castle of the Two Sisters, and the trees which had been blasted back away from the written array.
After a decade of waiting, Celestia had stopped sending out major search parties for the being, deciding to simply stay alert, but wait. There were never any signs of deaths or wounds of her subjects, and eventually the worries of her sister's return kept her focused on other tasks.
And so, for 90 years after Celestia gave up searching for him and before the return of the Mare in the Moon, two eternal beings of great power spent their time travelling the land of Equestria, reveling in their adventures.
No one would ever learn their names. Their only defining characteristics being a strange staff with six rings placed on a larger ring, a brown cloak with a hood on it…
and nine flowing tails.