KG: Good morning people. We are here to welcome the new year and we're also here to welcome the coming of my new laptop. Well you already knew that didn't you? Well I won't waste anyone's time. We'll just move forward.

Music of the Week – Absolute Destiny Apocalypse by Orchestra.

Quote: "The only way you can lose is if you don't try," by unknown.

It was hot, a little too hot. The sun was blazing over the forests of Hi no Kuni and the imperial guards of the daimyo were feeling it effects. Some were sweating in their clothes and others were casually fanning themselves with whatever they had available. "Man, why is it so hot today?" one of them asked while the other shrugged his shoulders trying to keep himself cool as well. "Don't know, but you'd better stop sitting around. Hot or not, we're still supposed to be protecting Daimyo-sama and I'd rather not have to be chastised for slacking off just because of you," he said while the person next to him snorted.

"Please, who the hell would be willing to travel in this heat? Hell, who would be willing to stage an attack in this heat? You need to stop being such a stick in the mud. When was the last time you actually went home and tended to your wife?" his companion asked and the man growled. "That is absolutely none of your damn business and if you bring it up again then Daimyo-sama's going to have a stain on the grounds inside his palace," the angry guard said getting the other to hold his hands up defensively.

"Whoa, easy there man. You really are too uptight. Kami, I wish I had some water," the lax companion said getting his partner to shake his head in shame of said lax companion. He then turned his head forward and frowned. "Either I've been standing out in this heat for too long, or you're just a lucky bastard, but why do I see two people coming this way?" the guard asked while his partner snorted.

"I think you're fuckin' insane there man. No way is someone walking here. Must be a mirage or something," he said while the guard sighed to himself before banging the butt of his sword on his associate's head. "This isn't Sunagakure you dumbass. Look out there and tell me that you don't see two people coming!" he shouted and the person leaned up and looked out into the distance and indeed he could see two people coming towards the grounds. Both squinted their eyes as they tried to examine the figures, but it was hard to do with the sweat in their eyes.

"Should we alert the other guards?" one of them asked and the other frowned taking a hand to his chin in a thoughtful expression. "Probably not, I don't sense any ill-intent from them and I doubt anyone would have enough power to attack the Daimyo's palace directly in broad daylight. Let's meet them and see what they want, but be prepared for anything!" he said sternly and the associate quickly saluted standing to his feet and taking his broad sword into his hands.

From far off, Naruto dropped to his hands and knees with a large grin. "F-Finally! We finally made it dattebayo," Naruto said the sweat falling from his face to the ground. Right beside him was Chiku carefully wiping her face of some sweat with one of her robes. She didn't really care about the attire that much to worry about it. "Hmm this is the first time that I have been to the Daimyo's palace. It truly is a sight to behold," Chiku said and Naruto turned to her.

"Trust me, I've never been here either. How long have we been walking?" Naruto asked and Chiku looked up at the sky, hearing the birds, the sounds of insects, and seeing the light of the sun. "Six or seven hours with one break I would assume. You had said that we waste no more time and see him as quickly as possible which I agreed with. We have been walking for two days now," Chiku said and Naruto groaned.

"I really hope what this guy says is important. This heat is nothing to joke about," Naruto said prompting Chiku to place a hand just above her eyes to shield them from some light. "The longer you lay there the longer it will take to get refreshed," Chiku said and that was all Naruto had to hear before he, begrudgingly, started walking with Chiku right by his side. Both feet picked up dust as the two left a trail of footprints on the dirt trail and began walking to the entrance of the Daimyo's palace.

With a promise of maybe some water, food, and a little rest, Naruto and Chiku made it to the front of the gates with little trouble which both appreciated. Well they only said 'little' because now they had at least six armed guards blocking their pathway with their swords. Naruto frowned, but Chiku didn't seem to care one way or the other, but Naruto was used to that. He was absolutely sure that she could all but annihilate these guys and obviously so could he. Naruto just faced Nagato, the leader of Akatsuki, in a crater of Konoha. What were a few guards? But as Naruto frowned he also thought of the heat. The entire Hi no Kuni land had been experiencing a heat wave in the last two days and rather than waste time and energy getting angry, Naruto just took a deep breath and calmed himself.

"Who are you and what business do you have being here?" one of the guards asked and Naruto took a step forward. Chiku didn't move to stop him or move to intervene in anything. She felt that she didn't have to, and she was right in her assumption when Naruto spoke clearly. "My name is Uzumaki Naruto from Konoha and I'm here because the Daimyo summoned me with this scroll," Naruto said and the guards glanced to each other before one sheathed his sword and stepped forward to meet with Naruto.

"And what would Daimyo-sama want with a brat like you?" he asked and Naruto was prepared to tell this person to just go shove it up his ass, but reigned those thoughts in. Chiku had warned him that any type of backtalk would be fruitless and likely cause more issues than it solved and what Naruto didn't want was more issues on top of the ones that he already had. Naruto shook his head before reaching into his pouch alerting the guards until he pulled out a scroll and held it out.

"I do not know his reasons for summoning me which is why I'm here for verification. Please check his signature if you aren't sure," Naruto explained and the guard narrowed his eyes before taking the scroll from Naruto's hands rudely and opening it. He scanned its contents and the message itself that had been handed to Naruto from his superiors, or former superiors until he was given the all-clear to return to Konoha, and then quickly closed it. He bore his eyes into Naruto's getting the blond to stare seriously suddenly making the guard flinch. He sighed and then held his hand out backwards. "Take this to Daimyo-sama and have him verify. If what this brat is saying then this is definitely his signature. Until then, you two aren't going anywhere," the guard said getting Chiku to turn her head and watch the trees sway back and forth. Naruto shrugged his shoulders and folded his arms. The heat was quickly getting to him making his irritation rise over slight periods of time.

Time passed as the guards watched Naruto and Chiku, both of which had enough of standing around and decided to sit in the shade of the trees. "How are you holding up?" Naruto asked to Chiku who was looking off into the distance. "I am fine. The shade is a welcome change I suppose," Chiku said and Naruto rested his head to the bark of the tree he was sitting just looking up at the sky. He watched the clouds rolling by before closing his eyes. Chiku turned to him and she noticed his peaceful expression. Blinking to herself, she couldn't really think of a reason on why she had chosen Naruto for this task, but maybe it was because of his words to her former self that made her want to think that he could be the one to succeed where she, or Nagato, had failed. It was a weird thing to see the serene expression on his face in contrast to the talkative expressions that he held, but Chiku knew that was what made him up and she'd honestly not change them at all. She didn't have much a right to anyway.

The sounds of feet brought Chiku from her observations as she noticed one of the guards heading for them. Sighing to herself, she gently patted Naruto's shoulder getting him to open his eyes. He turned and noticed the head guard from before coming up to him. "It turns out that your document checks up. Please forgive our rudeness Uzumaki-san, but we hope that you will understand our hostility. We take our job very seriously. Daimyo-sama wishes for you to see him soon after you have been offered the chance to relax," The guard said and Naruto leaned up and lightly smiled. "Thanks I guess. We'd like to take his offer," Naruto said happy that they were finally moving on with better things. The guard nodded and spun on his foot to walk back and escort them inside while Naruto quickly got to his feet and offered his hand to Chiku. She glanced to the hand before taking it as Naruto brought her to her feet as well. Both then followed the guard and shouted for the others to open the gate. The doors opened quickly letting Naruto and Chiku walk inside.

Both were quickly escorted to a medium-sized vacant house and soon Naruto placed a backpack to the ground, sitting in a chair with a cup of water. "Kami, that tastes good. I feel like I haven't drunken anything in forever," Naruto said allowing his sudden seriousness to drop for a few minutes. "Please remember that we're not here for leisure. Once you have finished your talk with the Daimyo then we will head towards our next destination, which is where?" Chiku asked turning to Naruto and the blond pinched the bridge of his nose before leaning forward.

"Not sure to be honest. It's not like I have entire groups of people that I can just call on like that on short hand notice. Then again, before I left there was that messenger hawk I sent out a few days ago," Naruto replied making Chiku turn to him. "I was not aware of this. When did you send out a messenger hawk?" Chiku asked taking a sip of her water feeling its coolness run down her throat.

"Yeah it was sort of a last minute thing. Don't worry about it. You'll see who I sent it to soon enough. A good friend of mine," Naruto said getting a tiny glare from Chiku, but nothing more as she looked off. "I see," she said before closing her eyes and downing the rest of her water with no haste in her movements.

"However I was also thinking that we could go see Konan. Tell her that you're back and maybe she could transplant your eyes for you. Ya know to give you the full power you need," Naruto said, but he got a shake of the head from Chiku. "That will have to come later if you insist. I do not believe that I need to handle such a thing so quickly as even with the portion of Rinnegan powers that I possess will overwhelm most people," Chiku said and Naruto raised an eyebrow.

"But you said that whatever this thing that's coming in three years is something even I can't beat and no offense, but I did beat you…six times actually and we're going to need you at your best also," Naruto explained and he was lucky to miss the small eyebrow twitch from Chiku when he spoke of him beating her, or rather her former self. It wasn't something that she liked to be reminded of. "That would be true wouldn't it?" Chiku asked placing a finger to her chin. Naruto watched her do so before looking around aimlessly of the room.

Then, the sudden voice of Chiku made him jump slightly and got him to turn around. "Very well. Once we meet with this contact of yours then we will go to Ame, but once we do then I ask that you and Konan discuss something," Chiku spoke getting Naruto to suddenly frown. "Umm okay then?" Naruto said like a question and Chiku just nodded though for some reason Naruto wasn't sure if it was in response to his question or from something else.

"Anyway, how far have you come with your sudden interest in your newest technique?" Chiku asked and Naruto snapped to his current thoughts and Chiku watched his face scrunch up and his body slouch slightly in the chair he was sitting in. "Don't even remind me of that. I have the…purpose of it, but anything dealing with making it happen is just not going for me," Naruto said prompting Chiku to nod.

"Jutsu theory is probably too complicated for most like you," She said and Naruto growled before pointing at her. "I'll have you know that I have gotten plenty of jutsu down! It's how I beat you isn't it?" Naruto asked and Chiku indeed admitted that, but Naruto could tell that something was going to be added. He wasn't let down either.

"However, you have only hit me with variations of the same technique. Even I see the ingenuity towards the Rasengan. The Yondaime Hokage was truly a master of jutsu to devise such a technique and from what you have told me it seems that you're the first to add elemental chakra to it, thus forming the Rasenshuriken however it would also be best if you came up with ways for making it with every nature possible," Chiku said and Naruto frowned.

"Make it with every nature? Well sorry to disappoint you, but I'm a wind-element natured person. I don't get all chakra natures like you do," Naruto said and Chiku turned to him noting the slight jealously and disappointment on his face. "You would be correct, but everyone has a secondary affinity. What is yours?" Chiku asked and Naruto seemed surprised.

"People have secondary affinities?" Naruto asked and Chiku took a long sigh, but held herself. "Yes, it's not as strong as the primary affinity, but it helps the shinobi to remain versatile. If only we had some chakra paper," Chiku said and Naruto quickly stood to his feet.

"Now that I think about it, Ero-sennin did say something about that actually, but the earliest I remember affinities is from Asuma-sensei, I wonder why," Naruto thought to himself until there was a knock at the door. Naruto and Chiku stopped their talk before ushering the person behind the door inside. The door opened and both noticed a girl about their age standing. She obviously had some fancy clothes, violet eyes and raven hair quite similar to a certain Uchiha that Naruto knew. She glanced from Chiku to Naruto before bowing. "Greetings travelers from Hi no Kuni. My name Kuya, daughter of the Daimyo and I hope we learn a lot about each other in the coming days," she said before closing the door. Naruto blinked and Chiku raised an eyebrow.

"What…did she say?" Naruto asked as if he had heard wrong. "This obviously has something to do with what the Daimyo wants to see you about, which does bring up that we should not waste anymore time here. The longer we're here, the more time we will waste," Chiku reasoned and Naruto wondered what the rush was, but didn't bother asking. He was sure that he wouldn't get a straight answer anyway.

"Yeah, you're right. I guess we'll go see what he wants. You should stay here and rest. It shouldn't take long," Naruto said and Chiku responded by standing on her feet like she hadn't even heard him. "Do not worry. I'm not nearly as tired as I was a few moments ago. I am ready to leave when you are," she said and Naruto could see that her eyes left no room for discussion before he threw his hands up and sighed letting whatever happened just happen.

Being escorted to the Daimyo, Naruto was given a strict search of his person for any and all weapons. Naturally Naruto kept those well-hidden from anyone's view and he wouldn't say where, but there were perks to an orange and black jumpsuit. Glancing to his side, Naruto sighed to himself as one person patted his pants leg and then went to the other. "Search complete sir. He's clear," A guard shouted and the head guard finally nodded before turning an eye to the companion next to him. "You may go inside, but she stays out here," he said finding the aura around the woman unsettling, but that also had to do with the shape of her eyes. They seemed so…unnatural.

In response to that order, Naruto frowned before calling the guards attention. "No, she stays with me. Sorry, but I'd rather not leave her alone with people I don't know every well. No offense," Naruto replied and the guard turned to cast his glare at the blond and the thing that unsettled him was the sudden smile that came to Naruto's face. "If you are worried for the girl's safety then you have no reason to be concerned we will keep watch of her until you are done," he said back firmly and Naruto sighed. He was ready to refute some more before he felt a hand on his shoulder.

"Am I allowed to stay in this room we are in currently?" Chiku asked and the guard pondered her question for a bit, putting his finger to his chin and closing his eyes. Seconds seemed like minutes until he opened his eyes and announced the decision. "That is fine. We will stay with you will Uzumaki-san meets with Daimyo-sama. Once he is done you may leave together. However we also advise that you not try to force your way through as BOTH of you will be subject to the wrath of Hi no Kuni," he said sternly prompting Naruto to raise an eyebrow and Chiku close her own eyes as she sat down in a chair.

Well, insignificant threats aside, Naruto knew that Chiku was more than capable of entirely dismantling the 'wrath of Hi no Kuni' in a few minutes give or take a second or so, but Naruto could feel that she wouldn't be pushed to do that. If she did then he'd just have to end her life again though he didn't want to do so. Chiku was a rather pleasant person to talk to though given her usual straight sentences then it would usually end quite fast, but the little time he had with her was a lot better than when they first met. "Alright Chiku, I'm going," Naruto said and Chiku nodded. "Farewell Naruto," Chiku said and Naruto walked through the doors before they got closed behind him. Naruto and Chiku only managed one glance to each other before both were separated once again. Naruto shook his head before moving forward.

He sped through the hall only admiring a little of the things he had seen, ya know the usual such as the jewel-encrusted katana, some fancy robes, pictures of family members and, oddly enough, the pictures of every Daimyo before the current one. A lineage group of pictures, Naruto could see. However it was the fifth one from the first that stopped him. Naruto took a look at the man who seemed to have yellow hair just like his or rather to say it was a tad darker than his own. Nowhere near as spike, but the spikes seemed to be just at the tips of his bangs. He had dark blue eyes that reminded him a lot of his father or something like that. Naruto scrunched his face before continuing on taking one more look to the picture before walking off.

Finally, Naruto came to a rather medium-sized door made out of some type of material, maybe silk or something cheesy like that. Rich people, go figure. Naruto knocked on the door and a response quickly came in. "Come in," came a rather elderly voice and Naruto came inside and closed the door.

One word for the Daimyo, in Naruto's honest opinion, plain. Naruto wouldn't say that the man was all that old as some people had said. No, he only looked to be in his ending thirties or early forties. Those droopy, yet lazy eyes of his kind of reminded him of Shikamaru, but at the same time they had that certain air to them. Naruto could see the Daimyo writing something down on a paper before he suddenly stopped and dropped his pen or pencil. He looked up and gave Naruto a wide smile. "Well if it isn't Uzumaki Naruto, the Hero of Konoha," the Daimyo said causing Naruto to raise an eyebrow.

"Hero?" Naruto asked and the man shifted in his seat before standing to his feet. "Oh my yes, haven't you heard the news? Uzumaki Naruto is a famous man now for his defeat of the leader of Akatsuki," he explained and Naruto sighed. Was he really a hero? He was just doing what should've been done in the first place. Anyone else would have done the same, Naruto figured. However he that wasn't to say that he didn't feel good about as Naruto just grinned and scratched his cheek.

"It's not that big a deal," Naruto chuckled to himself, but remembered his lessons with Chiku and slowly calmed himself. Daimyo seemed to notice this and only increased his grin to himself as he fanned out his fan and waved it over his face. "Oh but it is a very big deal Uzumaki-san. Countless times I have heard of your exploits. Beating the Ichibi jinchuuriki, Sabaku no Gaara, facing off against Tsunade Senju, facing Orochimaru, and even become the apprentice of Jiraiya of the Sannin. You have a very high reputation my young boy," the aged man spoke seemingly trying to stroke Naruto's ego, but the blond had a humble opinion of himself…most of the time. Even Naruto knew that most of his confidence in himself had stemmed from his early life where no one had confidence in him and he had to provide that for himself.

Seeing the sudden shift in Naruto's mood, the Daimyo thought silently to himself and would've pushed the issue, but he didn't feel like it, plus he really wanted someone to do this work for him so that he could relax. "Well past things aside, I'm glad that you responded to my message with swiftness. I was very eager to meet you. You are the team that helped my wife right?" he asked and Naruto scrunched.

"Well she needed her cat back, though I'm sure a lot of teams have gone through that hell," Naruto said and despite himself, the Daimyo chuckled at what Naruto was saying. Yes, Tora was always a troublemaker and still was at this point in their lives. "You are not wrong Uzumaki-san. You are not wrong," he said before clearing his throat and intertwining his hands.

"Now then..," he spoke in a sudden tone that brought Naruto back. "Pleasantries aside for another matter Uzumaki-san, I would like to know of the status of Konoha," the Daimyo said not really surprising Naruto by the question as the blonde suddenly turned his head out to the side to look out the window. The Daimyo followed his view and both heard the birds chirping just like always. "It is the exact opposite of what you see in front of you. A large crater in the ground, but there are a few structures here and there. Some medical tents, apartment complexes for the homeless and renewed training grounds, a few food stands, but that's about it. We also have a sound structure for still maintaining order and authority by the shinobi. It's not much, but we're alive," Naruto said with a slight shrug and the Daimyo nodded slowly.

"I see, well that's well and good. You see I heard about your Godaime Hokage and I understand that you're now without a Hokage. I'm to meet with your council sometime next month or the end of this month to designate a new Hokage," he said and Naruto stiffened. "What? But Tsunade-baachan isn't dead!" Naruto raised his voice slightly, but caught himself once again and just shook his head.

"Forgive my outburst," Naruto said and the Daimyo waved him off. "That's quite alright. I know what you mean because if she had died then they would be more hard-pressed than they are now. However just the council isn't enough and I'm sure that you realize this, but morale is also a thing to be considered," he said closing his fan. Naruto gave a small frown, but he could understand. The Hokage was the central figure throughout Konoha's structure. Without that one person then there was only the illusion of authority, but deep down there was lawlessness and people's opinions on what needed to be done would collide with others until the society broke down into nothing, virtually destroying itself from the inside.

Naruto and the Daimyo stayed silent for a few moments only choosing to let the other think for the time being. "That being said, what would think if I made you the Hokage?" he said suddenly. Naruto widened his eyes and jerked up in response. He could see the Daimyo looking at him with a small smile on his face and Naruto looked at the ground. Him as the Hokage? One could never understand how his heart leapt for joy at that moment. His dream right in front of his face and the person willing to make it happen. The Daimyo watched his reaction carefully and he noticed Naruto close his eyes.

"Thank you, but I can't," Naruto said and the Daimyo arched an eyebrow while Naruto offered a chuckle and rubbed the back of his head. "Don't get me wrong, I would love to do it even right now, but I'm not strong enough to protect the entire village just yet and there are things that I have to do otherwise being Hokage would be meaningless," Naruto said offering a bow of his head graciously.

"I see. So most of the rumors are true, Uzumaki Naruto is truly a mysterious man," he spoke then slowly nodded. "Very well then. Now then onto why I called you. I had gotten word from Konoha that you are on leave by their orders as they rebuild. A valiant effort and I pray that you return to their service soon, but seeing as how you aren't there then I guess you aren't taking orders are you?" he asked and Naruto slowly nodded confusingly. He didn't know where this man was going with this as the Daimyo turned his back to Naruto and wrapped his hand together.

"Uzumaki-san, I am 38 years old. I have seen a lot in my time and my life has constantly been in danger. Myself, my wife, and my daughter. Tell me, what do you plan on doing now that you're out of the village?" he asked and Naruto suddenly found the ceiling appealing as he looked up to it in thought for about ten seconds before moving back down. "Travel I guess. Continue to train, and visit the other nations if I can. I don't really have a plan," Naruto said slightly ashamed at that. Changed as he did, he still couldn't get rid of some old habits of his.

"So you will be wandering then? Well I have no problems with that, but if you are unsure of where to go then I would like it if you would deliver these," The daimyo then proceeded to snap his fingers bringing in a guard and Naruto took notice of at least ten scrolls, each with a different insignia than the last one. He turned back to the Daimyo as the scrolls were dropped to his desk. Naruto blinked at the sight of them while the Daimyo quickly tossed one to the blonde. Naruto caught it effortlessly and sent a small glare back to the Daimyo as a grin came on his face.

"Uzumaki-san I personally requested you from Konoha because I believed that you were the only one who could do this for me. In those scrolls are things that any bandit, enemy shinobi, or even other local daimyo would kill to get their hands on and I can't entrust the completion of this mission to anyone except someone highly favored with Konoha," the mature man spoke caught Naruto to raise his eyebrow slightly. "I want you to deliver these to specific locations as there is a note attached to each scroll telling where it must go. You may take as much time as you'd like delivering these, but I ask that you deliver them all before the year is up,"

Naruto frowned and folded his arms. "Not to sound rude or speak like I'm telling you off, but why are you making me do this?" Naruto asked and the Daimyo merely kept his smile in place while his hands rested on the desk. "Because you're the only one I can absolutely count on for this. I had asked for a record of your skills beforehand and I think you fit the required attitudes that I expect. Naturally, you will be rewarded once you're done," he said and Naruto glanced back to the scroll one more time before looking at the eagerness in the Daimyo's eyes hoping for the young blond to accept.

"So you just want me to basically be your errand boy delivering these scrolls to various countries and villages?" Naruto asked and the Daimyo chuckled slightly. "Is that a problem?" he asked and Naruto's fingers twitched slightly before he strained a chuckle from his lips.

"No Daimyo-sama, that is not a problem at all," Naruto responded back and the Daimyo nodded his head, but he missed the look of irritation on Naruto's face. How could Naruto not be irritated? He was NO ONE'S errand boy. Especially not to this guy, but Naruto also remembered his place in speaking out to someone as powerful as this. Naruto didn't need to bring troubles down on his village just because he didn't like something. Fine, he would do it, but Kami if some words weren't going to spoken when he was finished. "Thank goodness my boy. You don't know how relieved you've made me. May you, your companion and my daughter have safe travels," he said and Naruto nodded once again with the same smile. A second passed and Naruto's smile faltered, then slipped, in nearly five seconds it dropped to a frown.

"Your daughter?! That wasn't part of the deal! Didn't you just say that these scrolls are so dangerous that anyone would try to get them? I'm not putting your daughter in harm's way without a good reason!" Naruto growled out and this got him to quickly take out a kunai and clash with the sword of the guard in the room which got narrowed eyes from said man. "You! How do you have a weapon in here when you were searched?!" he asked and Naruto frowned before turning a glare to the Daimyo.

"Stand down!" the Daimyo instructed and the man quickly withdrew his sword from Naruto's face asking for apologies while Naruto pocketed his kunai. "Now then Uzumaki-san, there is actually a good reason for this as my daughter Kuya is at the age where she will begin learning politics and I have also had a few threatening letters come my way recently. While this is no new occurence to me, I fear for what I have now given the innate detail to these letters. I'm not all that concerned for me or my wife as I trust both of us to make smart decisions, but since she is young I can't trust Kuya to make the same decisions and I'd rather not leave in the hands of my guards who I sometimes know are incapable of fighting on equal footing with shinobi. The Twelve Guardians also have their hands full just protecting the compound we live in, not just me or my wife. I would think that the Hero of Konoha would be able to keep her safe until I can be sure that these dealings have stopped," he said and Naruto's irritation lessened into an understanding glare.

"Hmmm is that so?" Naruto asked more to himself than the Daimyo, but the man nodded anyway and Naruto slumped his shoulders downward. "You do understand that there is an organization known as Akatsuki trying to track me right? As much as I say I can protect her, I can't guarantee her safety if she'd with me," Naruto said and the Daimyo frowned.

"But you defeated their leader right? Surely they would have lost their morale if even their leader was destroyed," he said and Naruto suppressed the want to groan. "Daimyo-sama, a group like Akatsuki wouldn't go down just because its leader was defeated. If anything, they would just replace Pain and continue on with their dealings. You have to realize how much a threat they are," Naruto said, but all he got was the Daimyo's smile.

"Past is past Uzumaki, my boy. Now then off with you. I entrust my daughter to your safety. Hope you have a good journey and I hope you do whatever it is you planned to do, successfully," he said and before Naruto could get another word in he was forced out of the room and back into the halls. Naruto snarled and wanted so much to tell the Daimyo off for what he had just been asked to do. Naruto sighed and ran his fingers through his hair. He then shook his head before turning around. He hoped his friend liked company, and he wasn't talking about Chiku if you could catch his drift.

Naruto came back through the door and noticed Chiku sitting patiently, waiting for him to come out. The guards around her were as stern-looking as the time Naruto had left her. "Chiku," Naruto called bringing the former path's attention to her companion. The guards saw Naruto near the door before relaxing. "Is everything taken care of Uzumaki-san?" the head guard asked and Naruto looked at him before turning a glance to Chiku. She seemed to want to know that answer as well and Naruto gave her a look that told her he would explain it all later. So, Chiku just closed her eyes and shifted her attention somewhere else.

"Everything is fine. Chiku and I are going to rest here and then tomorrow we'll be on our way," Naruto said and from his point of view, he could tell that this guard was very much relieved when he heard that. Naruto didn't know what his problem was and he doubted that this man spoke with Chiku about anything, especially given Chiku's stern attitude and quietness. "I see. Very well. We will head back to our stations. Please enjoy your stay and don't hesitate to ask the guards or servants for anything," he said prompting Naruto to nod as he and Chiku walked off into the distance. The head guard narrowed his eyes before a large grin came across his face as the two left.

As they walked, Naruto was surprised that Chiku hadn't outright asked him about the situation, but he was sure that was her just being careful or something like that. "Are you okay?" Naruto asked and Chiku just stared forward, her lips unmoving for the time being which made Naruto stare at her in worry before she finally opened her mouth. "How did the meeting go?" she asked and Naruto wasn't sure, but he thought he could hear just the slightest bit of agitation in her voice, but maybe he just imagined it. He had hoped that she had no reason to feel agitated and was just tired still, ready to go back to the house and rest for a little while. Like he said, that's what he truly hoped anyway.

"Seems we're going to be traveling a lot more than I thought, but that should be good. We're going to be delivering seven scrolls to seven countries and villages. They're important from the Daimyo to other daimyo and village leaders," Naruto said and Chiku slowly nodded. "I see. Well that doesn't hinder anything, but you are leaving something out," she inquired and Naruto took a deep breath and exhaled.

"His daughter is also going to be going with us," he said and at this Chiku tapped his shoulder telling him to stop. "Excuse me," she said and Naruto shivered under that tone before glancing to her.

"The Daimyo's daughter is coming with us to "help" us deliver these scrolls," Naruto said and Chiku placed a finger to her chin. "Is there some kind of reason for this action?" she asked prompting Naruto to continue.

"He's being threatened and he doesn't want his daughter to stay here to deal with whatever he's dealing with. I doubt he's told her that too. So we're going to be traveling around until it's safe for her to come home," Naruto said and Chiku narrowed her eyes searching anyplace in Naruto's eyes that he was messing with her, she wouldn't have appreciated it even if he were. Unfortunately he wasn't lying and Chiku looked forward. "I...see," she said before walking forward and Naruto frowned.

"Why do I get the feeling things are going to go terribly wrong for me?" Naruto thought to himself before shaking his head from some thoughts as he followed after Chiku.

-Oto no Kuni-

Three figures bowed on one knee towards their leader. This leader couldn't have been over eighteen, but she had a certain amount of experience in her eyes. Glancing through a scroll, the grin on her face suddenly grew bigger and bigger before she placed a finger to his chin. "Hmmm been a good two or three years since I saw him last time. I wonder what he looks like now. Back then he was kind of an idiot, but maybe he's grown up a little. So he wants our help then does he?" She quickly stood to her feet shocking the members of her clan before throwing her hands out.

"All of you, prepare! We're going to have a very special guest and I want no bullshit from any of you!" she shouted and they quickly shot off to various directions leaving her in the room alone. The young woman smirked to herself before sitting back down. Naruto Uzumaki, what did you look like now? This lone thought was the one in her mind and she wondered how a certain someone would feel when she gave this news.

Naturally she had heard of the news that Naruto had defeated the Akatsuki leader, Pain. Kami, he had to have really changed to be called the Hero of Konoha. Maybe she could see just how the 'Hero of Konoha' stacked up now. Snorting, and wiping the blush from her cheeks, the young woman sighed before turning her attention to some papers that needed sighing. "Hanzaki, why did you leave me with this nonsense? I'm not suited to paperwork at all," she said with a sudden lonely sigh before taking an ink brush to finish her work.

Sensing a presence to her side, she couldn't stop the smirk on her face before uttering. "Come in," She called out and the slid-in door opened showing a familiar face bringing a smile to the young girl's features. "Well, back from your mission huh?" she asked and the person sighed while taking out the band that kept their hair in a ponytail letting her hair drop down to her waist.

"Yeah, just got back a few hours ago. Why are you so happy? The only time I've seen you this happy was when you heard of the news of Orochimaru's death," the woman next to her said getting the obvious clan leader to grin. "Well good news is where good news is supposed to be. Besides, I just got a very…curious message from someone. Someone that we both know very well," she said and the person next to her raised their eyebrows slightly before she was handed the message from Naruto. She scrolled its contents and a small, friendly grin came to her features.

"You know, when he told me his dream I found him admirable, but I surprised he didn't forget us," she said smiling while the clan leader snorted. "Yeah I suppose that's true. Though who would've thought that he would become such a celebrity. Think he's gotten any more grown up?" the clan leader asked and the woman next to her shrugged.

"Well he might still be fawning over Sakura-san, but I don't know. A lot can happen in two years," she responded while the leader smirked and placed her elbows on the table. "Oh I think I could get him to forget that girl," she said while the woman face-palmed.

"And it is that personality that often makes me question why you were picked as the head of our clan," she said shaking her head before the leader expressed shock. "I am an excellent leader dammit! Also trust me it's not as fun as it sounds. This goddamn paperwork is talking years of my life," she said getting her companion to fold her arms.

"You've only been the leader for about a year," she said and suddenly she got a finger to her face. "For you it's been a year, for me it's been at least 56 years!" leader shouted while the kunoichi groaned before looking back to the scroll. "So…when is he coming?" she asked and watching her friend go back to the scroll, the leader smiled and looked up at the ceiling.

"Hopefully by next week or the end of this week. Can't wait to see him, right Sasame?" she asked and the orange-haired young kunoichi suddenly grinned and scratched her cheek. "I suppose," she said quickly turning to walk out of the room leaving the leader to laugh to herself. Man this was going to be fun!


The sounds of the construction finally died down in the crater known as Konohagakure no Sato. Workers sighed as they began to leave their stations and go back to their cramped homes for some chance of peace. People groaned and cracked their backs in exhaustion while food stalls, stands, and small-time restaurants began to open allowing people to at least retain some semblance of normality.

Off in the corner of one of these restaurants, was a certain pink-haired kunoichi sighing to herself as she swirled her chopsticks in her broth full of noodles. She looked around at the people chatting happily, but she just couldn't get into the mood of things. Sakura frowned and tapped her fingers on the table. Now it was two, two members of Team Seven had left Konoha. One to a traitor, and the other…well Sakura still didn't understand Naruto's circumstances that made his leaving an acceptable thing. She had tried asking Kakashi, Gai, Kurenai, and even more openly, the famous Mitarashi Anko, what the purpose of Naruto's leaving was and nearly all ended on the same note of saying that they didn't know with the last one telling her she was more than a little wound up about the blond. Sakura didn't think she was wound up, but what could she say about it now? Sure Kakashi was a jonin, but even Sakura could feel patterns to her teacher if she thought hard enough and he was keeping something from her. She just didn't know what. Then there was that strange orange-haired young woman who had just come out of nowhere and just suddenly seemed close to Naruto. Sakura had never seen her before, plus there was something strange on how she never tried to stare at Sakura's eyes. It was like she really didn't want Sakura looking at her or something terrible might happen. Sakura shivered at the thought. The idea of someone like that around someone like Naruto, who was nearly as gullible as they came, really worried her. Though Sakura couldn't say that he hadn't surprised her with his sudden tone. The way he ordered the citizens to stop celebrating and get to work was truly outrageous. It actually made Sakura wonder just how much she knew about her blond teammate.

"Well look who's here by herself. What are you doing, Sakura?" Sakura looked up and she took notice of team ten coming to greet her. All three sat down with her and Sakura sighed to herself. "Nothing I guess. Just thinking about some things that's all. Like when Tsunade-sama's going to wake up or who's going to be her replacement until she well. Those types of things," Sakura said while Ino smiled.

"Hmm I'm surprised you're not thinking about Naruto. He is our hero after all," Ino said and Sakura's mouth twitched, but she truly couldn't deny that. "Yeah, I suppose he is," Sakura said more to herself than her friends prompting Shikamaru to sigh as he looked up at the ceiling.

"Who would have ever thought that Naruto would be the Hero of Konoha and not even a month later and he's gone doing some important things. I guess he doesn't have time for us anymore. It's such a drag thinking about the trouble he's going to bring once he comes back," Shikamaru said with a sigh. Sakura couldn't help, but snicker at that and nodded the same thing. Whether gullible or unpredictable, Naruto was still Naruto down to the letter.

"Well I'm sure that lady will keep him out of trouble. We're just going to have to work where we can right?" Chouji asked getting a handful of nods. "So where is everyone else?" Sakura asked and Ino sighed.

"Neji is in a meeting with his family. Tenten is busy with her own father crafting weapons. Lee is…probably doing some stupidly intense training as usual. Kiba is at home also and so is Shino. Hinata…hasn't woken up yet," Ino said sadly getting Sakura to lower her head. "Oh, okay," she replied and then the mood in the room suddenly took a downward spiral.

"It still doesn't make sense. Why wouldn't Akatsuki come after Naruto sooner if just one of them had the power to turn Konoha into a crater in the ground," Shikamaru thought to himself. "Maybe they weren't ready for him just yet. Naruto shouldn't have even been in their attention. They were…are all S-rank shinobi within reason. I remember Kakashi-sensei telling me that Kisame Hoshigaki and Itachi Uchiha confronted Naruto on his search for Tsunade-sama with Jiraiya-sama. Shouldn't that mean that there is something about him to want their attention?" Sakura asked and Shikamaru placed a finger to his chin.

"No, it shouldn't. Something isn't making sense here. If they sought to draw out Naruto then they would have likely gone for Kakashi-san, Sasuke, or you, Sakura. They went for neither, but they went for Asuma-sensei," Shikamaru said and Chouji, despite his sadness, continued to eat albeit slowly. "Well the person who died, Kakuzu, I believe, was also a greedy bounty hunter. You guys have to admit that Asuma-san's bounty was impressive. Maybe he just got sidetracked," Sakura said and Shikamaru frowned.

"I doubt an S-rank shinobi would be so easily sidetracked like that. Something isn't adding up here. Troublesome, sorry guys I gotta check something out," Shikamaru said finishing his food and quickly leaving the open-door restaurant. Sakura, Ino and Chouji glanced to each other with the only sound being from Chouji's teeth crunching on his potato chips.

"Well that took a turn for the worst fast," Ino said sighing as she placed her elbows on the table. "What do you think he meant by he needed to go figure something out?" Sakura inquired and Ino leaned her head back.

"Who the hell knows. He'll just probably think about and then fall asleep like he always does. Lazy idiot," Ino replied back making Sakura chuckle slightly to herself. "But still, you gotta admit that Naruto's a lucky guy. On the road, sharing a tent with a woman about his age, them alone. Can you imagine what they're doing?" Chouji asked and Sakura chuckled darkly while making the vein on her forehead bulge.

"What, our Naruto? Yeah right. The day he gets with a woman is the day I cut my hair off dye it pink and call myself Forehead," Ino said and Sakura's grin got darker. "Mmm yeah you're probably right. Naruto's never been good with girls," Chouji responded.

"Not like you've been much better," Ino laughed quietly making Chouji sigh to himself as he couldn't even deny that she was right. "Well guys I have to get back to work. I'll see you later," Sakura said getting up, taking her tray and discarding it to be washed before leaving.

"Is it just me or is she a lot quieter since Naruto left?" Ino asked and Chouji shrugged. "You know whose going to be worse than her?" Chouji asked getting Ino to turn to him. She thought for a second before the thought hit her head like a ton of bricks.

"Yeah, you're definitely right there," Ino said thinking of a certain Hyuuga getting Chouji to nod to her response. "So…what else is there to eat in this place?" Chouji asked making Ino instantly facepalm.

"Would you for once stop thinking with your stomach?!" She growled out making Chouji sweatdrop at her question. What was wrong with her? A guy's got to eat ya know.

-Daimyo Compound, Nighttime-

Back at the illustrious compound of the Daimyo of Hi no Kuni, Naruto was also having his dinner, but he could honestly say that he had never felt more tense than right now. Naruto mentally sighed while trying to eat his bowl of rice, but how could he? The young blond was seated at the middle of a short table with Chiku at the far end and the recent addition to this problem, Kuya, who sat at the opposite end with a backpack and some scrolls filled with…whatever was in them. Everyone was eating quietly seemingly content with the atmosphere of the moment, but Naruto could feel the underlying pressure. He could tell that Chiku was annoyed with this current situation. He couldn't say that he was the same, but what the hell could he do? Say a simple no and refuse the Daimyo? Naruto didn't even want to think about the consequences of those actions.

"Uzumaki-san, could you pass the sauce?" Naruto nearly jumped when he turned to Kuya seeing her still eating without a care in the world. "Yeah…sure," Naruto said passing some sauce to Kuya and she took it with small thanks before she continued to eat. Naruto shook his head before moving back to his food as well. The one sound for those few moments was the sound of chopsticks hitting bowls as the three continued to eat. It was then that Chiku opened her eyes slowly and glanced in Naruto's direction.

"You spoke of your contact and I both understand and agree with this, but you have also yet to explain where our destination lies," Chiku said. Naruto gave her a glance and could see the curiousness in her eyes before scratching his head. Though both of them didn't see it, they could tell that their conversation had awoken their guest's curiosity as well. Naruto, seeing as how he was going to be escorting the illustrious Daimyo's daughter around, easily preferred to not hid this fact. He had figured it would save him the trouble of explanations. "Well I was thinking that we should go to Oto no Kuni," Naruto said and Chiku slowly raised an eyebrow.

"You wish to venture to a place that was ruled by Orochimaru of the Sannin?" Chiku asked. Kuya merely raised her eyebrow at that information. Yes, even she had heard of Orochimaru. Some weird, despicable man who performed horrific experiments on people in the hopes of becoming immortal. Because of her pride, Kuya wouldn't admit that she was scared of ever meeting the man, but the mere thought not only scared her, it terrified her. What the 'Hero of Konoha' had to do with such a backwater country, she would never understand. It was also because of this thought, that Kuya voiced her opinions…after Naruto finished his own comment.

"Well I'm sure that Sasuke's actions have been heard of by them as well. Anyone loyal to Orochimaru would still keep their heads down, but I doubt anyone would bother us. We'd just kick their ass if they tried," Naruto grinned widely despite himself. Chiku blinked before sighing to herself. "I will not go," Naruto and Chiku turned to Kuya, the source of the comment.

"And why not?" Naruto asked making Kuya fold her arms. "I don't see the need why we have to go to such a dangerous and unlawful country. We're better not going there at all. Sorry, but I'd rather not have my stuff stolen or deal with the idiots of that country," she said stoically. Naruto frowned before he started chuckling to himself. Kuya and Chiku turned to him with the former being surprised and the latter merely watching with a small amount of interest.

"Oh you're going. You're going to come even if I have to drag you by your neck in front of dozens of people on the dirt road," Naruto said showcasing his anger which in turn made the girl next to growl. "Excuse me?! I'm sorry, but do you remember who you're talking to?!" She asked slamming her bowl to the table, but not hard enough to break it. It was an expensive bowl, mind you.

"Is there anyone else I would be talking to? I'm definitely not talking to Chiku here!" Naruto growled out making Kuya frown. "I am not going to some ragged, deranged, and possibly scratchy country just because you want to. That's not how this is going to work," She growled and Naruto in response snorted.

"You have no idea how they live and you damn well don't earn the right to judge them. We're leaving first thing in the morning. Pack your stuff and meet us at the gates. If you don't then I'll find you, drag you out of your bed kicking and screaming for the rest of our journey. Got it?!" Naruto growled out while Kuya snarled.

"Hmph so even the 'Hero of Konoha' speaks rudely to others. Konoha is lacking if this is the best that they've got," She said and Naruto suddenly balled his fists before taking a deep sigh. He shook his head and pinched the bridge of his nose. "You're father chose me to watch out for you, but don't think for a second that you're going to change our plans. You go where we go, sleep where we sleep, and anything else that can bide your time. Once we set foot out of this compound, you are not the Daimyo's daughter. You are Kuya, nothing more, nothing less," Naruto asserted. Kuya was ready to say something else like to all the others who talked back to her until both she and Naruto heard a small sipping sound. They turned and noticed Chiku taking a sip of tea before breathing a sigh of relief.

"Fighting amongst ourselves will do very little for us. We will talk about this tomorrow," Chiku said playing peacemaker. She bore her eyes at both and Naruto folded his arms before huffing. Kuya merely snorted and stomped out of the room very...unbecoming of the Daimyo's daughter.

The room was deafened with silence before Naruto exhaled and turned around. "Thanks Chiku. I was about to lose my head," Naruto said slightly grinning. "I could see that very well. While you aren't wrong, I wish for you to understand her point as well. Oto has never been the best place to be for anyone. Being the Daimyo's daughter then I'm sure she's heard things about that place which would naturally repel her to the idea of going. I, equally, have my reservations about it, but I believe that I can put faith in your judgment. Though I would like it if you did not bring her into the country 'kicking and screaming.' That would draw too much attention ourselves," Chiku explained. Naruto scratched his cheek and chuckled sheepishly.

"Yeah I suppose it would, but she needs to understand that no one out there is going to bend over for her and they damn sure won't do it in my face. Sorry if I came out of nowhere like that," Naruto apologized prompting Chiku to shake her head. "You had done nothing wrong, but I would just ask that you try to keep a clear head even when dealing with difficult people. We will leave for Oto no Kuni when you are ready," Chiku said standing to her feet and walking to her room. Naruto sighed to himself as he wondered how this silent dinner went so wrong.

"However…," Naruto turned and he noticed Chiku's hand on the door. She didn't meet his eyes, but somehow Naruto could tell that she was glaring forward. "If she proves to me too much of a nuisance then it would be best if we had no dealings with her. While I will not refrain you from helping others as I find that side of your nature admirable, I don't want you being sidetracked. Good night," She said not allowing Naruto to respond in time before she closed the door. This left Naruto alone in the room and the spiky-haired blond looked out the window.

"Ero-sennin, am I really doing the right thing here?" Naruto suddenly asked. He shook his head before turning out the light and heading off to bed himself.

-Next Morning-

"And be sure to write to us everyday sweetie. Mommy will miss you dearly," Naruto and Chiku watched the seen as Kuya, her mother, and her father, the Daimyo said their farewells to each other. A few guards were saying their goodbyes as well to the child of the Daimyo and were also busy wishing her safe travels. "Kaa-sama, it would be impractical if I wrote to you every day, but if it makes you happy then I will do my best," Kuya said with a smile and her mother nodded happily.

"Uzumaki-san, take great care of my precious little girl. She can be a handful, I know," the rather…big-boned woman said making Naruto smile. "Hai, I'll keep her safe," Naruto said until he found himself trying to match a glare with Kuya's. Man, this was going to be a journey worth a lot of headaches and shouting.

Finally the pleasantries were over as Kuya took her place next to Naruto and Chiku. "Oi Uzumaki, keep in mind of what happens to you if something happens to Kuya-sama!" The head guard threatened with a slight glare prompting Kuya to grin. "Whatever old man!" Naruto shouted back. The head guard gawked and snarled.

"Daimyo-sama, we're really entrusting Kuya-sama to this smartass?" the head guard asked while the Daimyo shrugged his shoulders. "Ah they'll be fine. I'm sure of it. Definitely….well, probably…I hope so anyway," he said chuckling nervously. Everyone glanced to him, but by then he already had his face covering the lower half of his face while his eyes found something else to be entertaining at the moment.

"Darling, you did actually give this some thought and NOT push it on your advisors right?" His wife asked and the Daimyo chuckled nervously. "O-Of course I did. I care about who our daughter travels with and I came up with Uzumaki-san," he said defensively while his wife glared at him. She then turned back to the advisors and they paled as she casted a lone glare at them.

Meanwhile, Kuya walked over to Naruto's side of the entrance and couldn't help, but just settle for a slight stare at the blonde. "Done now?" Naruto asked unfolding his arms and it really pained the sudden member of their group, but Kuya nodded. "Hai, we can leave when you wish," she said and Naruto grinned.

"Well that's good. For a second I thought I was really going to have to drag you out of that bed," Naruto said and Kuya frowned. "And had I been in my sleep attire?" she asked folding her arms over her medium-sized bust. Naruto snorted in response and then offered a pleasant smile.

"Well then I would have wrapped you in rope and then took you dattebayo. We would already be gone when you woke up," Naruto said smiling. "You would kidnap me?!" she snarled and Naruto shook his head.

"It's not kidnapping of your father said you were coming in the first place. I let you make a decision and you made one, then I forced you to go with the right one. Kicking and screaming, Kuya-san. Kicking and screaming," Naruto repeated and Kuya stared at Naruto incredulously. The sheer nerve or…audacity of the man in front of her was incredible. Kuya just knew when she returned she was going to be oh so happy to not have to deal with someone like this anymore. "…Whatever," she mumbled underneath her breath.

The three turned around and quickly made tracks away from the Daimyo's large compound, Kuya still waving to the people in the background until her parents and the life she lived was gone in a maze of trees. Kuya couldn't help the small frown on her features, but ignored the feeling of being lonely. This was just another chapter in her life and she would deal…hopefully.

Seeing that they were a good distance away, Naruto sighed to himself before finally turning his head to Chiku's direction. "Chiku, do you know anything about what we're supposed to be doing? You're telling me to get people, but I don't even know what I'm fighting. What did you see in your dreams?" Naruto asked and Chiku turned to him.

"I am really not sure how I am able to explain it to you. I told you all the things that I could remember," Chiku said and Naruto frowned. "Seriously?! You can't tell me anything else?!" Naruto asked groaning to himself and sighing heavily as he slumped his shoulders. Chiku frowned as she placed a finger to her chin. It wasn't her hope that Naruto would be confused, so she went over the limited memories that she was given hoping to find something…anything that would put her companion at ease.

At this point, Kuya decided to inject herself into the conversation. "What are you two complaining about?" she asked and Naruto turned to her before shaking his head. "Nothing serious. Don't worry about it," Naruto lied prompting Kuya to raise an eyebrow before shrugging her shoulders. The three companions remained silent in their walk until Chiku opened her mouth to answer Naruto's previous frustrations.

"As I remember it correctly, the only things I can remember are a black sun, a plain-type of area, seven swords from Kiri, and…puppets," Chiku said and Naruto raised an eyebrow. Kuya turned to them both in obvious confusion this time. "Maybe your black sun is an eclipse," She said suddenly and Naruto placed a finger to his chin.

"That would make some sense I suppose. Other than that I would have no idea of how it could be explained," Chiku said and Naruto sighed. "Okay, so…swords from Kiri and…puppets. I suppose after we go to Oto, we can go to Kiri and get some information from them. That's not a problem for you is it?" Naruto asked looking up at the sky, but everyone knew who he was talking to.

"Hmph," Kuya grunted to herself and Naruto suddenly smiled. "Good. Then we've got no problems," Naruto said raising his fist into the air with Kuya folding her arms letting a small pout come to her cheeks. "Well there is one that we face," Chiku said. She and Naruto gave each a look and Naruto remembered what they spoke about. Nodding, Naruto turned to Kuya.

"So…what can you do?" Naruto asked and Kuya blinked. "Excuse me?" she asked and Naruto rolled his eyes.

"What can you do? You know, what are your skills?" Naruto explained further and Kuya twitched her lips. "Well you should've just asked that instead of making a vague question…idiot," Kuya muttered to herself and Naruto's eyebrow twitched. He then chuckled darkly before he tightened his fists.

"What did you call me?!" Naruto shouted glaring towards Kuya before she glared back. "Oh my are you deaf now? I called you an idiot. I-d-i-o-t!" Kuya shouted back. Naruto was ready to retort back even greater before both heard Chiku sigh.

"That is enough," she said with obvious annoyance. Even with his sudden serious nature, Naruto was still Naruto. Not that she would try to change a thing about that. Naruto noticed Chiku's annoyed face and reigned himself in again. "Just tell us your skills," Naruto said and Kuya shook her head, not believing that she nearly lost control of herself. How embarrassing for the daughter of the Daimyo.

"Well I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I don't know any shinobi skills except for some taijutsu and special kenjutsu skills, if that's what you're wondering. I know how to cook, and I know nearly anything that you wish to know from politics. I also like to read I guess," she said and Naruto turned back to her. "What do you mean by certain kenjutsu skills?" He asked and Kuya quickly pulled out a scroll holding it in view of Naruto and Chiku. Both watched as she unfurled the scroll and then quickly unsealed its contents. So she had a minor sealing ability, is what Naruto and Chiku noticed. However both were also surprised when a long, weapon dropped to ground with a small thud. Naruto blinked at the weapon and Chiku narrowed her eyes while Kuya took the weapon into her hands and smiled.

"What is that?" Naruto asked and Kuya sighed. "It's my Naginata, idiot. I've had masters teach me to use it since I was five. It's my most prized possession," She said with a lingering smile. Naruto hummed to himself and Chiku nodded, approved by their recent companion's weapon choice.

She quickly picked it up and slugged it over her shoulder like she had done a few times in her life. "Good then we won't have to worry about you protecting yourself. Here you will be carrying your own weight," Chiku stated matter-of-factly making Kuya snort. "Like I would have a problem with that," she replied back.

"Course don't be afraid to ask us for help if you need it. Stingy or not, we're stuck together so we might as well try to get along," Naruto said using the term loosely and Kuya chuckled dryly. "You have no idea how happy I am to hear you say that," she replied oddly.

Deciding to leave that conversation for whatever time, Chiku made to reach into her sleeves and pull something out. "Here Naruto, use this," Chiku said handing to Naruto the item. Naruto took it and held it in his hand. Kuya looked to see what Naruto had taken and noticed that it was a piece of paper. She was about to ask, but Naruto opened his mouth faster than she did. No surprise there.

"Where did you get chakra paper from?" Naruto asked and Chiku explained. "One of the guards was fair enough to give me a piece. He told me to think of it as a thank you for protecting Kuya-san while she's with us," Chiku said and Naruto just took it all in stride.

"So you want me to find my second affinity?" Naruto asked and Chiku nodded with no hesitation. So, Naruto did that. As they walked, Kuya and Chiku watched as Naruto closed his eyes and focused.

After a few moments, Naruto opened his eyes and gazed at his work. Just like the first time he did it, the paper had been split in half signifying that he had wind for his affinity. "Okay, so the same thing happened just like last time Chiku. What now?" Naruto asked and Chiku took the paper. "What are you doing?" Kuya asked and Chiku spoke.

"Finding Naruto's second affinity for his training," Chiku explained quickly glancing over the paper. "Well what was your first affinity?" Kuya asked strangely interested in the prospect of affinities and what that meant.

"Wind, which means I would be naturally good a Fūton techniques," Naruto replied and Kuya slowly nodded. "I…see," she said before Naruto turned back to Chiku. Chiku held the paper at her fingertips and glanced to her opposite hand. Take a look a watch she saw, Chiku closed her eyes and then turned back to her blond companion.

"You do have a second affinity," she said and Naruto's eyes blinked twice trying to process those words that she had just spoken. "But the paper ripped in half. I didn't see anything different," Naruto said and Chiku shook her head.

"You didn't see, but you also didn't feel," Chiku said and before Naruto could ask her to expound on that, she turned and held out her hand. Naruto looked down as did Kuya and both noticed a small pool of water. "Water is my secondary affinity?" Naruto asked and Chiku nodded.

"Well I don't know what these affinities are, but I figured you would be earth with how thickheaded you are, idiot" Kuya chuckled and Naruto snarled slightly before putting it past him for another time. He would get his suddenly irritating companion to apologize one of these days, but for right now.

"So after Oto then we go to the neighboring countries around Kiri and see what we can find right?" Naruto asked and Chiku shrugged. "This is your journey. I am just here if you require help. You are the one to tell us where to go," Chiku answered like it was the simplest thing in the world. Naruto gawked at the woman while Kuya snorted.

"Well, take good care of us…leader," Kuya said grinning widely as the three walked off into the distance.

A few days passed for the group of three as they made their way to Oto no Kuni, only two groaned when they found themselves still in Hi no Kuni, which was still a few miles off. It could be said that things were a little awkward for them as no one was used to anyone else just yet, this was no more evident than with the constant bickering between Naruto and Kuya. Ranging from when they should take breaks to where they were actually going. Chiku had been the…unofficial peacemaker of the group which only slightly irritated her though she made no moves to show it. Between the ever changing Naruto, the fiery Kuya, and the suspiciously quiet Chiku, they had managed not to kill each other which was something all three were thankful for.

Those few days, Chiku had begun what little instruction to Suiton techniques that she knew for Naruto while Kuya merely watched from the distance. Chiku explained the theories and aspects of trying to turn chakra into water and then expel it, but she figured that Naruto wasn't the type for such things. So, Chiku decided on an approach that she or…Nagato had been taught by Jiraiya. She had Naruto cup his hands together and she poured a dab of water into them. Naruto asked her what the purpose was and Chiku told him that she wanted him to 'get a feel' for his water affinity instead of the strong wind affinity. She told him that once the water in his hands overflowed from the outreaches of said hands and onto the ground then they would take it from there.

So, Naruto, Chiku, and Kuya were on the road with the only blond of the group's hands soaked. Naruto grumbled to himself before he exuded a sigh and asked Chiku for more water. The orange-haired young woman complied and poured the drop into Naruto's waiting hands. Receiving the amount, Naruto pulled his hands away and focused on his task of mastering Suiton techniques. "Okay, not that this isn't…thrilling to watch, but are we going to stop at the next town or not?" Kuya asked her Naginata slung over her shoulders. "Judging from the map, we should be there in a few hours. We'll get a hotel or something and get something to eat. I'd rather not keep them waiting," Naruto said and Kuya nodded, for once happy with the decision that the blond made, though she would never admit it.

"Cool," she replied letting her head gaze up at the sky and the clouds while Naruto continued to work. He clamped his hands together tightly trying to force the chakra to turn to water and flow from his hands. "It won't work that way," Chiku replied and Naruto turned to her. Kuya did the same though she had assumed that the second female of the group was only talking to the one male of said group.

"What do you mean?" Naruto asked and Chiku pointed to his hands. "It's not about forcing what you see to make more, it's about seeing what you have and letting it obtain a consistent flow. Please think of it like, a gentle breezy through the air. It has a constant flow, not a rush or rapid movement. That is a first basic," Chiku explained and Naruto slowly nodded. Focusing his chakra to his hands, Naruto closed his eyes and concentrated. He imagined his chakra, just like water, letting it seep into the existing water source in small amounts.

Naruto opened his eyes and instead of a wide grin, he just offered a content one when he saw that the dab of water had grown into a very small pool in his hands. "Like this Chiku?" Naruto asked bringing Chiku's eyes to look down. She saw how big the water had become in comparison to the dab she had given him. Slightly satisfied, Chiku nodded. "Yes, that is the way it should be. However it seems that you still have a ways to go very it falls over your hands," Chiku said and Naruto slowly nodded. Hey, it was progress and progress counted in his book.

Throughout the rest of their day traveling, Naruto continued to try his hand at his Suiton exercises. Every break they took, for Kuya's sake, Naruto would find some secluded spot and summon six to ten clones to aid him. The sudden talk of affinity exercises had given Naruto his reason to also go back to his wind affinity exercises of cutting leaves in half with just his chakra. He could tell that Chiku had been watching him work hard, but never said anything to bring to her attention. What Naruto had never seen though, was that Kuya had been watching him as well.

Once their break was over, time seemed to speed forward for the three as they made it to the next town just as it was starting to get dark. The three stood on a hill and looked down at the place in town with its lovely lights beginning to come forward. "To think we would stop in Tanzaku Gai. I wasn't even aware that you knew this place," Kuya said looking down at the place.

Naruto shrugged his shoulders in response. "I've been here before. Had to search for Tsunade-baachan in this place with Ero-sennin. Heh, back then she was just a drunk, slightly bitter woman," Naruto narrowed his eyes and his lips curved into a small smile as he remembered all the things about that trip. Orochimaru, Kabuto, Shizune, Jiraiya, Tsunade, and eventually his learning of his father's signature technique, the Rasengan. So many things the blond had experienced in this place and how he was coming here again. Seems like he really had some kind of luck or maybe it was just him being unlucky. He wasn't sure which.

"Alright then, let's get going," Naruto said and he quickly walked off and Chiku fell into step behind him. Kuya shrugged and walked off with her companions as they entered the town.

Once inside, Naruto, Chiku and Kuya listened to the sounds of people chatting with each other as they roamed the streets of the high-class town. "Okay so first we're going to have to find something to eat," Kuya said smiling widely. Naruto shook his head, but Chiku said nothing in response. "I guess," Naruto figured to himself.

"What's wrong with you?" Kuya asked and Naruto glared forward. "Turn your eyes, not your head, to the right," Naruto answered. Kuya raised an eyebrow, but had her eyes stray. Her head stayed forward, but she could somehow feel the presence of someone watching them.

"What do we do?" Kuya asked and Naruto then stopped. "We're going to the hotel, going to sleep and come tomorrow we're leaving," Naruto said firmly. Kuya narrowed her eyes at the sudden change in Naruto's demeanor, but she didn't disagree.

"That would be the appropriate action though I doubt that they would come at you in this place as lit up as it is," Chiku said and Naruto slowly nodded. He grabbed Chiku and Kuya by their arms and led them away quickly into their hotel.

Getting two rooms quickly since those where what was available, Naruto quickly put them in rooms, closed the doors and then locked them. "Do you see them?" Kuya asked swallowing the lump in her throat. "I do not. I believe that they have retreated…for now," Chiku answered. This answer caused Naruto to relax and sit in a chair.

"Do you have any idea who they were?" Kuya asked and Chiku shook her head. "Forget about it for now. They're gone and it's obvious that we found them out which is why they left. Chiku, help me put some of these seals on the walls and doors," Naruto said and Chiku nodded.

"I did not suspect that you worked on Fūinjutsu," Chiku replied back making Naruto smile. "It's not mine. Ero-sennin was the person who made these," Naruto explained making Chiku harden her eyes slightly. She gave a small sigh before continuing on her side of the room.

"In case you forgot, but we still need to eat," Kuya stated getting to her feet. "I'm going to go get some dinner and I'll bring back some for the rest of us," she quickly said before Naruto began to protest.

"That's alright. We should all go out together. I don't want you to be out by yourself when we just had an encounter like that," Naruto said, but he noticed Kuya wave him off. "Whatever you say Kaa-san. I'm pretty sure I can handle myself. Besides I don't need the help of an idiot to deal with what I've dealt. Don't be such a worrywart idiot," Kuya said suddenly flashing a smile.

"Precaution is one of the shinobi's essential assets. It's not safe for you to be out on your own. Added to the fact that you have no shinobi training then that puts you deliberately out as a target. We cannot risk your safety that way. Do not forget that you're still the Daimyo's daughter," Chiku stated firmly. Kuya glanced to the second feminine companion before turning back to Naruto. She grumbled to herself before snorting.

"Whatever," she said and then closed the door behind her. Naruto and Chiku glanced to each other before Naruto rubbed the back of his head. "You're not going to go with her and leave me alone are you?" Naruto asked without looking back and he could feel Chiku's eyes digging into the back of his head making him sigh before he nodded slowly.

"Gotcha," Naruto replied and stood to his feet. He opened the door for Chiku and both walked out of the room before closing the door and turning out the light.

Once Naruto, Kuya, and Chiku left, three shadows crept dropped down to a nearby rooftop as they stared at the dark room where the Hero of Konoha stayed. "Is that him?" one of the figures asked. The other two slowly nodded their heads and the obvious leader grinned. "The Hero of Konoha? How…fortunate for us. Let's go and…introduce ourselves," he said and they rushed off from the rooftop.

In a span of about half an hour, Naruto, Kuya and Chiku had their food in a couple of bags and containers. "Oh man I can't wait to eat this thing. Gonna be so good, so good!" Kuya said licking her lips before she noticed Naruto and Chiku looked at her strangely. "What?" the newest member asked prompting Naruto and Chiku to glance to each other before Naruto elaborated.

"Not very refined are you? You just changed so fast," Naruto said and Kuya snorted. "Please, if you think that pleasant stuff was me then you really are the idiot I take you for." Kuya said giggling while Naruto snorted.

"Well isn't that the pot calling the kettle black," Naruto said to himself knowing he was loud enough to be heard. Kuya twitched and chuckled dangerously before calming herself. "Gonna let that one slide idiot. I walked into that one," Kuya said and Naruto sported a wide grin across his face.

"Enough of this," Chiku said quieting them both. "Naruto, we still have things to go over while we eat," Chiku said and Naruto agreed. He and Chiku had talked about future destinations and the like, but also for places to find Naruto Suiton scrolls for his secondary affinity exercises. The progress Naruto made was small, but it was progress nonetheless and Chiku was always the patient type. You learn to develop patience when you have to keep a bunch of S-rank missing nin in line.

Everyone picked up the pace back to their hotel and as they were ascending the stairs, Naruto suddenly stopped. "What's the matter?" Kuya asked and Naruto frowned. "Chiku, do you feel that? The chakra is back," Naruto said and Chiku slowly nodded.

"It's emanating from our room," she said and Naruto frowned before he quickly shot off leaving Kuya and Chiku at the stairs. "Oi Naruto, hold up!" Kuya shouted as she and Chiku ran after him. Naruto quickly, but quietly, placed the bags down on the floor and grabbed the doorknob. His firm frame lined up with the wall before he noticed Kuya and Chiku behind him.

"What do we do?" Kuya asked and Naruto growled. "At most I can feel about three people inside. WE…," Naruto gestured to himself and Chiku with his finger.

"…are going to take care of this fast while you wait for our signal," Naruto said and Kuya growled. "I don't need you to act like you can save me dammit. I have survived a lot longer than you're obviously giving me credit for," Kuya returned heatedly.

"We'll talk about this later. Right now, you NEED to stay here," Naruto said and before Kuya could gather her retort, Naruto busted the door open and charged inside. Chiku sighed and shook her head before she rushed inside as well. The sounds of kicking and and surprise could be heard making Kuya turn her head in the door to see nothing but darkness. The idiot told her to stay outside, he didn't say she couldn't…oh say stretch her hands inside and possibly flip the light switch. Kuya effortlessly flipped it giving everyone light and she widened her eyes to see Chiku holding two people by the top of their neck, her eyes flashing, ready to rip out their souls at a moment's notice, and Naruto on top of one person with a kunai to his throat.

Seeing the lights turn on, Naruto got a good look at the man and narrowed his eyes dangerously. "Who are you? Why are you stalking us?" Naruto asked quickly. Chiku frowned as she turned to the obvious interlopers in her hands to examine them. "How did you get into this room?" Chiku asked. However looking at their attire, Chiku felt something was wrong with this picture.

The choking sounds of their captured was like an unpleasant sound to their ears until the man under Naruto grunted. "N...Na…Naruto Uzumaki?" He asked trying to gasp for air. "What do you want? How do you know my name?" Naruto asked very quickly.

"Well considering that you are the 'Hero of Konoha' then it stands to reason that quite a few people would know about you idiot," Kuya said folding her arms from outside the doorway and Naruto growled. "Not the time Kuya," Naruto replied.

"N-Naruto Uzumaki-san, we…are from Ame. Our angel told…us to find…you and….give you this mess…age," he choked out holding a scroll in his hand towards Naruto's face and Naruto widened his eyes while Chiku blinked. Shinobi from Ame? Now Chiku could see why they seemed to be familiar. Releasing thier holds on the people in front of them Naruto and Chiku had only one revelation.

"Konan," the two thought out in perfect unison. Kuya…was just lost.

KG: Okay so that's it from me. No, you don't get anything this time. Oh now don't hate me or something. Since my classes are about to start again then that means I need to revise my entire update schedule. Yeah, will get back to you on that. Well that's it people, stay breezy and…

KG: You know what, it might be the 5 gallons of eggnog I drink, but I'm feeling…smoother. Everyone, have a pleasant new year and hope you had a very good Christmas, Kwanza, or Hanukkah whatever like that. Let's all have a good year. Now as I open this new can of cream soda I say, CHEERS!.

Stay well and drink Swell. If you don't know what Swell is, then...I feel sorry for you.