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Chapter 3: First Contact-Part 3
Naruto stared at Avatar Roku like the man has spontaneously combusted into a pile of flowers. The idea of becoming a sort of second Avatar hadn't even occurred to him throughout his stay in the Spiritual World; all they had done was debate on issues relating to the Avatar. There had been no hidden intentions behind their questioning, no manipulations behind his back (and he would know, having routinely used some of his various means to interrogate the Avatars during his brief stay there) and they seemed to have had great faith in the newest incarnation of the Avatar.
What made the request, or implied demand, so odd was that all the Avatars were highly, and sometimes foolishly, traditional. They did things in an orderly, perfected manner which they imparted unto their younger incarnations, as well as their view that the Elemental Nations should remain the way Avatar Wan had established. Anything that went against their concept of the norm was met with harsh criticism and scalding disapproval.
Avatar Aang may have saved the world, earned the trust and respect of the people across the lands, but he would forever be regarded as a disappointment in the eyes of the elder Avatars. His decision to spare Fire Lord Osai had turned several previous incarnations against him; to them, all he had done was postpone the problem rather than dealing with it. It didn't help that one of Osai's supporters had led an uprising against Fire Lord Zuko and Aang, one that had come pretty close to causing a civil war within the Fire Nation.
For them to do something so unquestionably radical meant that whatever threat they had seen would be more than Korra could handle alone.
However, Naruto could see why Roku and the others could and would come to this situation. Korra, despite being a talented bender and somewhat of a prodigy amongst the newer generations of the Avatar, still lacked the most important aspect that represented the Avatar: a connection to the Spiritual Arts. From what he had heard of her from Tenzin over the years, she was seen as a huge disappointment by her teachers from the White Lotus organization. Tenzin himself once confided in him that had she not been the Avatar, he would've recommended that she give up and look elsewhere.
Naruto honestly thought that was a whole load of shit. Tenzin, despite his virtues and somewhat pleasant personality, was an Airbender; his tribe and family were so steeped in spiritual matters that if they were to be compared to every other bending nation, they would be in a league of their own. Tenzin especially seemed to think that methods that worked for his family would work for everyone else and couldn't really grasp the fact that people learned at different rates.
It was that quality of his that had resulted in the fight two years ago. Even now, it was a maddening thing for Naruto to endure, especially when his father decided to try teaching him something.
He inhaled deeply, running his hand through his hair. "Roku, we had an agreement." He started, keeping the irritation he was feeling from bleeding into his voice. "I was to help Korra become a great Avatar, helping her through the trials and challenges that come with her status, but there was nothing said about becoming another Avatar."
He wasn't totally adverse to the idea, but he had enough on his plate as it was; managing the kids at the orphanage, helping out Lin with some of the cases her Police Force were ill-equipped or too preoccupied to handle, and helping out his mother as well as spending time with his new family. Hagoromo also kept on hounding him to practice using the hermit chakra he had received during the war, as well as keeping the Shinju on a tight leash. That damn plant seemed to act like such a dog sometimes.
He still shivered each time he thought of the whole 'tentacle/vine event'.
His training was different. He did that just because he liked being stronger than almost everyone in this world. After all, after coming out of the Fourth Great Ninja War with strength that seemed more suited for a god than a man, it was quite fun to end fights with the greatest of ease.
The creases on Roku's forehead deepened. "Unfortunately, Vaatu has thrown quite a huge wrench in our plans. Somehow, despite our best efforts, he's managed to weaken the elemental seals keeping him locked inside the Tree of Time."
Naruto had to wonder just why they seemed to surprise that the barrier had been weakened. Kurama had taught him early on in his life that when a being of earthshaking power was caged, usually by a seal, they would never stop trying to break free with all their might. Never mind the fact that a seal that has been working for centuries would eventually weaken over time.
"So what exactly does that mean?" He asked, getting the feeling that all their previous plans had effectively turned to dust right now.
Roku stared grimly at him. "A few days ago, during my usual morning meditations, Vaatu spoke to me…"
Roku gasped as he found his spiritual form standing before a barren wasteland. He clutched his head, the image spinning as he wobbled about on his feet. One moment, he had been in the company of the other Avatar incarnations, getting ready for their usual meditations, when he suddenly found himself…plucked out of his corner of the Spirit World. Shaking his head to clear the disorientation, the elderly man raised his head to take in his environment.
His eyes widened.
There, right before him like an ominous shadow, was a tree. The tree was gnarled and withered, with no leaves decorating its twisted form. In the center of its trunk was a hole, one large enough to house several spirits at once. However, that hole was already filled, a golden barrier preventing the spirit from escaping. That did nothing to hide the huge, evil-looking eye that stared down at him like one does towards a bug.
The eye glowed as it stared at him, an ominous purple light that promised nothing but death and destruction. "Hello, former Avatar. I was expecting you much sooner." Its voice was loud and deep, colored with anger and arrogance in an unexpected combination. "Then again, your late arrival has helped move my plans forward splendidly."
Roku's heart hammered within his chest, though he appeared every bit as calm and cool as the man he was known to be. "Vaatu. I see that the years haven't dulled your arrogance."
The incarnation of darkness chuckled at the greeting. "And I see that you still haven't chosen the right side to be with in this little war of ours. But enough with the idle chatter, Avatar Roku." The spirit pressed his body against the barrier of the Tree of Time, the purple glow darkening and flashing the more he pushed against it. "Tell your companions, the ones you call your family that I will return once again, stronger than ever. This time, Raava's companion will be no match for me." He growled, vibrating with a wealth of power that Roku knew he shouldn't have access to.
"Also," the eye narrowed, the design grotesque and unnatural even for the Spirit. "Tell Hagoromo's legacy that he should prepare himself. My champion would be most displeased if their eventual encounter is any less than earth rendering."
With a beastly howl, Roku found himself flung back to the realm of the Avatars.
Naruto grit his teeth as he processed the information he had been told. Vaatu, the spirit of chaos and darkness in this world, was someone he had read about during his stay in the Spirit World. He is one of the oldest known spirits, having existed over ten thousand lifetimes before the appearance of the first humans. He was the first spirit to cross over into the mortal world by breaking down the barrier that separated it from the plane of spirits, subsequently allowing other spirits to do the same. His essence swayed the spirits to the dark side, transforming them into dark spirits.
Vaatu and Raava, the spirit of peace and light, spent much of their existence combating each other, at least since the Harmonic Convergence of 19,829 BG, with neither able to fully vanquish the other. Even if Vaatu were to destroy Raava, what little light there was in him would magnify until a reborn Raava burst forth, beginning the cycle again. The reverse would happen to Raava if she were victorious over Vaatu.
He knew that Vaatu had been defeated by Raava and Avatar Wan, but not much was said about how he did it. All that mattered was that he was trapped within the Tree of Time, unable to do anything other than stew in anger. Or so they thought.
The news that Vaatu had a champion was also worrying. The fact that the person knew Hagoromo was doubly troubling. 'You wouldn't happen to have any idea as to who our mysterious contender could be, do you?'
He felt the elder sage frown, searching for a possible identity to Vaatu's champion. 'Unfortunately, no one comes to mind…then again, it could be anyone who was opposed to my power.'
Naruto rubbed his eyes, already expecting that answer. It always seemed like the universe liked to pit him against enemies he was unaware of, so why would this situation be any different? "So…how does all this tie in to me becoming the second Avatar?" He asked dryly.
Roku sighed, clearly uncomfortable with the situation as well. "Despite our own personal beliefs, the truth still stands that Avatar Korra is still woefully behind in the spiritual matters of the Avatar. Whilst we were more inclined to allow her to develop in her own time, Vaatu's message and actions have forced us to come to this decision." He turned towards the distance, noticing the sun beginning to rise. "It was decided, with Raava's blessing, to forge a new connection to the Spirit World by using you as a medium."
Naruto frowned, turning to the rising sun. Already, his life was devolving into a complicated mess because an asshat wanted to break out of his prison. Joy. "And if I refuse?" He questioned, already coming to a decision but hearing out the options he had.
Roku clasped his hands behind his back, still facing the sunrise. "Whilst it isn't a path I would recommend, especially given recent circumstances, you are free to turn down our offer. To be honest, the idea isn't appealing to most of us for many reasons, which includes the fact that your power should be more than sufficient to combat whatever Vaatu throws at you." There was a pause, as though he was struggling to say something, before the conversation flowed again. "Raava, on the other hand, thinks this would be for the best. She could lend some of her essence to you, effectively allowing you to function as another pillar to the Spirit World without usurping Korra's position as Avatar."
Naruto scratched his hair, already thinking up new ideas to incorporate into his training. "Could you let me think about this for a while? I know you're not a fan of this solution to the problem, and I'd rather get the full knowledge of what would happen to my body if I were to accept that offer. If Raava wouldn't mind explaining, that is."
Roku gave him a quick nod, already disappearing back to the Spirit World. "Very well. I shall return in a day's time for your answer."
Naruto watched him disappear into the light, his words echoing around the deck.
A/N: Short, yes, but that's how I wanted it. The first few times I wrote this chapter, it was so horrible and filled with unnecessary padding that I decided to settle for a shorter chapter that would make it easier for me to form later chapters.
Naruto isn't going to become a second Avatar, he's going to be a second bridge. There is a reason for this, which one part was illustrated in this chapter and another which will come later. Funnily enough, Vaatu ISNT the Big Bad in this fic.
His champion…I personally call him the most overshadowed, unluckiest character in the Naruto manga. Have fun guessing who he is.
To those concerned about the pairing and romance, don't worry. The pairing is Naruto/Korra/Asami but the romance isn't going to really start until Season 2. That way, everyone has had a reasonable amount of time to get to know one another and make way for developing feelings. Korra may develop a crush, but it won't be as blatant as canon Season 1 (because that was just too rushed in my opinion).
Read and Review,