It had been such a normal day. Then again nothing was ever normal for her.
Naruko Uzumaki, the container for the Kyuubi no Youko, had been having a really crappy day. It all started nice enough, her legs moved like they should for about five hours...then came jutsu practice.
Her lower limbs locked up without warning, causing her to misfire her jutsu. What's more was that even though the Hokage had her checked (repeatedly, by standing over the medic shinobi to insure the reports weren't being altered) no one could figure out what was going on.
And it only happened when she used jutsu.
She lay on her bed, trying to figure out why she always messed things up.
Tomorrow was the worst day of the year, because it was the start of the Kyuubi festival. She hated it, because she always had trouble with the drunken idiots who went.
As her battered clock hit the twelve, she felt something awaken.
The odd book, which was bound in chains that she had gotten for her birthday five years ago, broke the bindings keeping it closed as the pages flipped as if touched by an invisible wind.
A bizarre circle appeared on the floor and four figures appeared.
Each of them were in a strange uniform, and had weapons. One almost looked like a wolf of sorts with his ears.
"The Book of Darkness has Awakened," said the oldest one, who had long flowing dark rose hair that was held in a pony tail. Around her neck was something that looked like either a dagger or a closed ended kunai.
"We are the Knights who collect magical power for the Book of Darkness and our master," said the blond woman.
"It is our mission to accomplish our master's goals," said the lone male.
"We are the Wolkenritter, please give us your orders," said the youngest one.
Naruko was in shock. However, her ability to tell friend from foe said that these four wouldn't hurt her.
The fact they hadn't started screaming about demons also helped.
"Ano...who are you people?"
"We are the Guardian Knights who protect the Master of the Book of Darkness. We exist to protect that person alone, and to complete the book," said the 'leader'.
"And who is the master?" asked Naruko.
"You are," said the other woman, who had blonde hair like ripened wheat. It was barely down to her neck, and she had rings on a single chain necklace.
"You are the Master of the Book of Darkness," said the youngest one, a girl with bright red hair that was held back by twin pigtails that were braided a little past her neck. She had a hammer necklace around her neck.
Naruko's poor brain short circuited and she passed out from shock.
By morning she awoke to find that no, it wasn't a dream and there were people now in her apartment that she didn't know. Along with what appeared to be a blue-furred Inuzuka-type wolf.
"Ano, who are you people?" asked Naruko carefully.
"Master, are you alright?" asked the rose-haired one.
"It's not Master. My name is Naruko! Uzumaki Naruko, and I'm gonna be the next Hokage!" said Naruko firmly.
"Naruko-sama," started the rose-haired one.
"Just Naruko. I hate formalities with a passion," said Naruko.
"Naruko-chan," the woman tried.
"That works," said Naruko.
"Naruko-chan, perhaps you should explain to us about this world. And in return we shall explain the Book of Darkness to you," suggested the rose-haired one.
"Okay! But Jiji knows more than I would, so you can ask him! But first, what are your names?" asked Naruko. Better to let Jiji know about them before the ANBU picked them up by mistake.
"My name is Signum, Knight of the Blade," said the rose-haired one.
"Shamal, Knight of the Lake and reinforcement specialist," said the blonde.
"Vita, Knight of the Hammer," said the girl.
"Zafira, Guardian Beast," said the wolf.
"Call me Naruko! Or Naruko-chan if you have to use formalities."
Sarutobi had a massive headache, and poor Naruko was the cause of it.
"So let me get this straight. You came out of the odd book we found at the sight of where the Kyuubi was taken down."
"We are part of the Book of Darkness," said Signum.
"And you four are samurai-shinobi hybrids who live to serve the master of this Book of Darkness," said Sarutobi, rubbing his poor head.
"Naruko, for whatever reason, was picked as your new master, but since she knows very little about this world and knew better than to try and work behind my back she brought you here," said Sarutobi.
Signum nodded again.
"Right...Horse, bring me the strongest sake you can find and some migraine relievers. I do believe it's going to be one of those days..."
"While we wait, why don't you explain in detail what the difference is between chakra and magic and we'll work from there. And Naruko, why don't you take...Zafira, was it? Why don't you take him to get some ramen and put it on my tab?" said the Hokage.
"Ramen! Come on Zafira, you'll love it!" said Naruko.
Signum could tell this man was a warrior, and almost as dangerous as she was. While she and Sarutobi spoke of magic and chakra, finding out that the two were so similar that it was hard to tell the real difference, Shamal and Vita were undergoing a minor interrogation by Anko and Ibiki. Signum was going to be cleared by the Hokage and Zafira, well he had been in wolf form so they didn't bother with him. Hence why Signum didn't make a fuss while her 'Master' went to get something to eat. So long as one of them was with her, she would come quietly.
"So Naruko-chan, where did you find this wolf?" asked Ayame.
They lived in a ninja village. Once the initial shock he could talk passed, they treated him like they would any other intelligent animal. Inuzuka occasionally came with their partners, so they had wolf-sized bowls already there.
Zafira was right behind Naruko eating his own bowl while she devoured over ten.
"They found me!" said Naruko.
"They?" said Teuchi.
"Signum, Shamal, Vita and Zafira!"
"And where are the others?"
"Being cleared by Jiji! Their arrival was a bit of a surprise, but I'm sure Jiji can keep them out of trouble!" said Naruko.
"They're cleared, Hokage-sama," said Anko.
Vita looked ticked, and Shamal looked rather nervous.
"Signum-san is cleared too," said the Hokage.
"Can we see Naruko-chan now?" asked Shamal. Her nerves were frayed after dealing with Anko's unique...humor...for over an hour. She would never look at snakes the same way again.
"You'll find her about three blocks down, and if I know her, still arms deep in ramen," chuckled Sarutobi.
"Have I answered your questions, Hokage-sama?" asked Signum. She felt this old one deserved her respect.
"Yes. About that suggestion earlier..."
"They can start tomorrow while we prepare our new lodgings," said Signum.
"Excellent. I'll fill out the forms," said the Hokage.
'Signum, what is that about?' asked Vita.
'You and Zafira will join Naruko-sama at the Academy until she graduates. Zafira will have to take a smaller form though.'
'What about me?' asked Shamal.
'The Hokage said that since Naruko's apartment couldn't possibly hold all of us, he will allow us to take an abandoned house as our own provided we take part in "missions" like the local military here.'
'And me?' asked Shamal.
'When I described you ability to heal, he suggested you help out at the hospital and learn their "medical jutsu". From what I understand, jutsu is their form of magic,' said Signum.
They paused when they reached the stand, unable to believe what they were seeing.
Their new master had at least twenty bowls and counting stacked around her while Zafira was almost done with three.
'What in the...?!' said Signum.
'This...ramen...is both highly addicting and good. Our master appears to have quite a taste for it,' commented Zafira without pausing.
Signum took a spot next to Naruko, while Vita took the other. Shamal found the last stool open near them and sat down.
"So how did your talks with Jiji go?" asked Naruko.
"It went well enough. Vita and Zafira will join you at school tomorrow while Shamal and I move your things. Because your apartment is too small, the Hokage has agreed to loan us a house that has been abandoned until now," said Signum.
"Everyone, I want you to welcome a transfer from outside the village," said Iruka.
The official story was that Signum and Vita were from Uzushiogakure and had come looking for Naruko. Since they weren't about to leave their 'family' behind they choose to move here with their friend Shamal. Zafira was listed as Naruko's new shinobi partner, having found him in the Forest of Death yesterday.
No one was going to disprove this, as Uzumaki were known for red hair, Zafira looked and acted like an Inuzuka nin hound, and Shamal...well she could use medical jutsu. And since Uzushiogakure was destroyed during the last war, it was unlikely that anyone would be able to disprove it.
Vita walked in, having been given new clothes to blend in better. She kept her hair in the twin braids, and her hammer remained around her neck.
"Uzumaki Vita, Yoroshiku," said Vita.
"Eh?!" the outcry of Naruko the failure having a relative was pretty loud.
"No way! The failure has family?!" said a pink-haired girl with deep green eyes. The look Vita sent the girl gave her shivers.
"Naruko happens to be my cousin on her mother's side," said Vita. She tried to keep the anger out of her voice.
"Uzumaki-san, could you please sit next to your cousin?" said Iruka.
"Hai," said Vita. Naruko was practically bouncing in her seat.
Vita was practically swarmed by the other students at lunch. Fortunately Zafira took over protecting Naruko for her...plus this was an excellent exercise in telepathy.
"So Uzumaki, where did you find a ninken?" asked Kiba. His new puppy, Akamaru barked on his head in hello.
"I found in him in one of the training areas! His name is Zafira!"
"Nice to meet you Zafira," said Kiba.
"Hello," said Zafira.
"HE TALKS TOO?! Man you're lucky! You know how hard it is for use to find talking ninken?" said Kiba enviously.
"So is Vita-san really your cousin?" asked Chouji.
"Yeah, they showed up yesterday but apparently the gate guards were on a break so they had to wait a bit. But since they're planning on staying here I get to move in with them!" said Naruko.
"Sounds like fun," yawned Shikamaru.
Suddenly they heard a commotion from inside the Academy. Apparently Vita had gotten into a scuffle with Sakura over something the pink-haired girl said about Naruko. The teachers were having trouble pulling Vita off of her.
"Vita-chan, are you okay?" asked Naruko.
"I'll be fine," said Vita annoyed.
"Uzumaki-san, no fighting outside the practice ring or in training!" said Iruka. To be fair, some of the comments Sakura made about Naruko did warrant some sort of violent reaction. As a teacher, however, he tried to hold himself about those. At least against the students anyway.
Sakura looked like hell. A bruise was clearly about to form on her right eye, and she had been scratched up by Vita repeatedly. Vita had struck hard and fast.
"Sorry...sensei," said Vita.
"Stupid brat! Why did you attack Sakura-chan!?" demanded Ino shrilly. Several of the other Sasuke-fangirls agreed with the blond.
"Where I come from, we don't take people insulting our clan lightly. Be glad I didn't break your arms for that remark you made about Naruko-chan," snarled Vita.
'Vita, what exactly did they say about Naruko that angered you so much?' asked Zafira.
'If I told you, Naruko-sama would get into trouble for you maiming them,' replied Vita. She was still pissed as hell.
'I told you, call me Naruko-chan!' said Naruko. She had been listening the whole time, which was why she knew what had been said. She was just used to it by now.
"Since this is your first day here, I'll let this pass for now Uzumaki-san. But in the future, please wait until taijutsu practice to take out your anger on any comments made," said Iruka.
"Yes Sensei!" said Vita a little too eagerly for the girls to feel safe. Training was about to get a lot more painful for them.
Time skip, two months later...
The arrangement with the Hokage seemed to work perfectly. And as an added bonus, Naruko seemed to benefit from the situation as well...because she was being trained by Signum in how to use a sword.
Plus, with the addition of Signum and Shamal's wages, Naruko was finally starting to eat better. And with Vita and Zafira protecting her at the Academy and outside of it, the mobs no longer were able to hurt her.
However, not all was to her benefit. The strange problem with her chakra control, which had been irritating before, had grown to alarming levels. Now she was having trouble with more than just the clone jutsu. Her illusions were starting to fail as well.
And four months since the arrival of the Knights, Naruko started to feel numb from her legs down.
The Knights knew what was causing this, but because of the arrangement made with the Hokage to protect their master, they could not act in the Elemental Nations without bringing war down upon Naruko.
Which meant they had to travel off-world to save her.
"This may anger our Master," said Signum.
"Naruko will understand, I know it," said Vita. She was among the closest to their Master, next to Zafira.
"Still, it is troublesome that we must go off-world to fill the pages," said Zafira.
"But it is to protect our Master, we have no choice. What I would like to know is why the book's draining program hasn't acted up before now?" said Shamal.
For a young girl, she had been relatively unaffected by the book's nastier issues, such as the linker core draining, which was supposed to be quite severe. For it to take this long to truly affect her...was quite surprising really.
"How many pages will we need?" asked Vita.
None of them had so much as looked at the book since they had settled in, being more concerned about the villagers and protected Naruko.
That was why Shamal, who was usually designated the keeper of the Book, was very taken aback when she checked the status.
"What's wrong Shamal?" asked Signum.
"Over a hundred pages... there are over a hundred pages filled already!" she said in absolute shock.
"What?!" said Signum. She took the book, and look at it herself.
One hundred and thirteen pages were filled already, and most of it was chakra-based. Which meant the jutsu library had to have come from Naruko during the initial synchronization with the Book.
"How is this possible? I sincerely doubt Naruko even knows this many jutsu!" said Signum.
"Perhaps the Hokage would know," said Shamal. They were all quite shaken by this development.
"Should we ask him?" asked Vita.
"Later. Right now we need to start collecting," said Signum. They could solve this mystery later.
With a flash, they all vanished to another world.
The Book of Darkness had to be completed, if they were to protect their Master.