Hi guys, I'm back. It took some time, but I feel the chapter is at a sufficient quality for you all to enjoy.
Disclaimer: I do not own Naruto or MLP. Original idea for this story, as always, belongs to Raja-Ulat
The room was simple. Four walls, bare for but a few decoratory weapons. A coat of arms bearing a kanji inscription. For one occupant of the small, yet quaint space, the kanji was unreadable, as she hadn't taken to learning the written language, but the other, quietly sipping tea, knew what it said quite well. Roughly translated into the language of his companion, it stated 'Power is Peace.' The male smirked a bit, knowing full well that even if she could read it, the lady before him wouldn't understand its true meaning. Most beings didn't. A lesson which too often fell on deaf ears.
Levitating his cup of tea back to the table, the red aura surrounding it diminishing, Kyuubi looked across the table to the Princess of the Moon. She was an intriguing creature. An enigma which the old fox wished to understand. Using his demon chakra to manipulate the object before him, much in the same way the alicorn used magic to levitate and manipulate various things, sliding it across the game board. Looking up at her with a smile bizarrely filled with mirth and good humor, unnerving the Princess, who had never before met a demon that acted in that manner, he motioned to the board.
"Check," he announced, and she did indeed note that her King was in imminent danger. One thing Kyuubi had going for him, he was a very competant chess player. He knew it too. But Luna was no slouch either. It was really only while focussing on the game that she found herself calm enough to keep her end of the bargain and remain civil while dealing with the fox demon. They had been immersed in the match since shortly after she had arrived for her first weekly visit, entering through the dreamscape. They had been going for nearly an hour.
Chess was one of the few things the two had found they had in common with each other. Kyuubi, being a manipulator of the highest degree, as evidenced by how easily he had gotten the two Princesses to concede to such a deal as this, easily filled a chessmaster role. He had spent quite some time sealed away in not just Naruto, but others as well. He understood emotions far better than most, and could very easily predict how others would react when pushed in just the right direction.
For Luna, it was one of the few things she had come to enjoy about her own childhood. It was one of few things she was better at then her older sister. Despite knowing the game and being a chessmaster in her own right, Celestia always played trying to retain as many pieces as possible, usually to her detriment, as she didn't think sacrificing pieces to achieve the main goal was acceptable. It appeared though, after imprisoning Luna in the moon for a thousand years, Celestia had gained a far more appreciative view of things, and had even developed a manipulative streak, though the Sun Princess mainly manipulated to benefit others, rather than herself...usually. She did seem to enjoy messing with her Student and friends. Like at the last Grand Galloping Gala.
Luna shook the thoughts from her head. Now was not the time to be reminiscing. She needed to get her king out of harms way. "Tell me, Demon," the Princess demanded. "When we first met, how did you know about my fall."
"I see there is more to you both than mere flesh..." the eye's gaze moved specifically to Princess Luna now, and it unnerved both sisters. "And yet, despite the power, you try to cast away the darkness you once accepted so readily into your heart...You, my dear, are worthy of my interest."
"The darkness that once tainted me is nothing but shame and poison, shadowed one," Luna bristled. "I care not for your interests, nor who you are. I will wipe you out of existence." As he horn glowed dangerously, the fox merely chuckled.
"Please do," he announced in a rather bored manner. "Perhaps the blame from the others outside, coupled with your guilt shall bring back the dark being you claim to be ashamed of." The glow around Luna's horn faded as, confused and somewhat taken aback, she stared at the shrouded creature before her.
"I indeed let myself be tainted by the darkness once. How did you, who had never met, or even heard of me, know about the being that calls herself 'Nightmare Moon?" Luna continued, desciding to castle her King, sliding it around the Rook and out of harm's way. Kyuubi just closed his eyes, as though deep in thought. Taking a sip of tea, he responded.
"You ask a demon this?" he asked, almost sounding amused. "We all have a darkness within us. When someone, anyone, succumbs to that darkness, even if they have shaken it off and begun to repent, it will ultimately leave its mark...I could see it in your eyes." Despite herself, Luna blushed. He had gotten that all simply by studying her eyes. Cracking a smile, Kyuubi again spoke. "Now let me ask you something, dear Princess...why in the world would you, having been stripped of that power, try to repent, and hold your darkness at bay?" Luna's face darkened.
"The Nightmare forces granted me great power, yes...but at a price."
"All power comes with a price," Kyuubi announced evenly, sipping his tea. "And you were willing to pay that price, once. What's stopping you now?"
"It isn't worth it," Luna replied softly after a moment, and Kyuubi quirked an eyebrow.
"...You're afraid of what you become..." Luna's wings flared out dangerously as she snorted in indignation.
"You have no idea what you're even talking about," she snapped. "I'm not the only one who paid the price for that power. Everyone I hurt paid it, my Sister paid it when she stopped me. Nothing good comes from the Nightmare Forces, and that is why I refuse to accept them again. Do not ever accuse me of being afraid."
Kyuubi was silent for a moment, before raising his hoof and tipping over his king. Luna looked on in a strange mix of rage and confusion as the fox-turned-stallion stood, making toward the door to his new bedroom. He didn't even look over his shoulder as he spoke. "So, you're either afraid of what you become...or afraid that you like what you become..." Infuriated, Luna used her magic to send Kyuubi's now empty tea-cup smashing into the wall, inches from the door frame and his head. This time, Kyuubi turned and was once again wearing that eerily cheerful smile.
"I think this is the beginning of a very beautiful friendship between you and I." He chuckled as Luna, stil enraged at his behavior, disappeared with a burst of magical power. "Very soon, you and I will see just what your limit is, dear Princess. And then, I will see if you break..." Looking to his king, laying fallen on the board, his smile grew even greater. "But I concede this first battle to you. There will be many more in the war to come."
Fluttershy smiled brightly as she prepared breakfast, her adoptive son still asleep, and looking as if he wouldn't be getting up any time soon. She just hoped she was preparing everything correctly. After having gone through Naruto's memories fully, the Princess Sisters had sent her notice of what the human diet consisted of. She was a little disturbed at the idea of Naruto eating meat, but knew enough about carnivores to settle her down. Besides, there were other things he could eat for protein. But she would figure that out later. For now, she was too concentrated on the work at hand, preparing the dish the humans called 'Ramen.' It was very new to her, and would take some time to get just right, but she had quite a while to learn.
She set the table, before making her way to the boy's room...well, her room technically. The two were sleeping in the same room until they could afford to make an addition to her cottage. Entering, she saw her tiny, white rabbit, Angel, attempting to wake the slumbering child, doing everything from shaking him to slapping him across the face. All the bunny got in return were even louder snores. He pawed his face and shook his head, turning to the Pegasus pony with a look that simply said 'He's your kid, you deal with him.'
She nudged the child, who groaned in his sleep, pulling the blanket over his head. "Naruto, it's time to get up." His head now went beneath the pillow. "Rise and shine!" She again tried, beaming brightly, but to no avail. "Come on, Naruto. We're going to go see about getting you enrolled in school..." The boy now wrapped himself tighter in the blankets. Blowing some mane from out of her face, Fluttershy just sighed, before turning toward the door. "Well, alright. I guess I'll just find somepony else to eat this ramen with me-"
The Pegasus' mane was sent flying in all directions by the sudden gust of wind, consequently blowing the blanket over her. Thowing it off, she looked to see the blonde was already down the stairs. Smiling down at Angel, she raised her hoof. The bunny in turn bumped her hoof with his paw, smirking. Descending the stairs, she saw the boy already half-way through his bowl.
"Naruto, slow down," she said, worriedly. "You'll make yourself sick if you keep eating like this." Naruto slurped up a large amount of noodles, making sure not to speak with his mouthful. Rarity gave him an earful the last time he did so in front of her.
"But Fluttershy..." he whined. "I haven't had ramen in sooooo long! It's been days!" The Pegasus Pony just sighed and shook her head. As of yet, Naruto hadn't refered to her as his mother, and she was perfectly fine with that. This was an adjustment for the both of them, and while she knew it was in the best interests of the young blonde, it was still kind of bizarre for her to think of herself as the boy's mother.
"You still should slow down," she replied, smiling at the child. "Then you could actually taste it."
"I can taste it just fine," Naruto argued, as his adoptive mother giggled at him. "It's amazing. And I've had some pretty awesome ramen before." As he thought about Ichiraku's, Fluttershy beamed at the complement to her cooking. She would have to make the dish more often. As she sampled some of her work, she was actually surprised at how good it turned out.
"So, are you ready to go meet Miss Cheerilee at the school today?" the Pegasus asked, hopeful that the boy would come around. His slowed eating and fallen face dashed those hopes, but again, it was in his best interests. "I've told her all about you. She's really looking forward to meeting you. In fact, she wants to learn a bit about your world from you. Not many students get to teach the teacher." The boy smiled just a bit, but quickly returned to his sour face, which he stuffed further with noodles. Sighing, Fluttershy looked to the human boy in her charge. "Please, Naruto. Just try this, for me...? The girls will be there with you, they can help you out."
Naruto sighed, but nodded. He wasn't about to disappoint Fluttershy. Satisfied, Fluttershy finished the small bowl of noodles, while Naruto put away a second. He would have had more, but Fluttershy hadn't made very much, simply testing her recipe.
While Naruto went upstairs to change out of his sleepwear, Fluttershy went outside to make sure all the animals were fed and tended to.
"Well, he certainly is an interesting one, isn't he," mused the Ponyville school-teacher, Cheerilee, as she watched the human child play outside with Applebloom, Sweetie Belle, and Scootaloo. "To tell you the truth, I was worried about whether he'd fit in or not, but none of the children seem very bothered." Fluttershy smiled and nodded.
"Oh yes. He's quite spirited, and doesn't seem to have much trouble making friends," the Pegasus replied, looking out the window at her adopted son. "That's not what worries me. Back in the world he came from, he tended to be looked down upon by his teachers. He needs an education, but I think the reason he isn't thrilled with the idea of school is because he doesn't trust teachers. He needs to see that they aren't all mean and nasty."
Cheerilee nodded. She didn't know exactly the circumstances behind Naruto's apparent lack of education, but knew he deserved the same chance as any filly or colt in her class. Neither noticed that the game of tag had been interrupted by the arrival of two more school-fillies. Silver Spoon and Diamond Tiara. The school's resident bullies. And based upon the faces of Naruto and his friends, they were engaging in said-activity.
"I'm not exactly used to teaching 'humans,' but then again, you aren't exactly used to raising them either. But as long as he's willing to learn, he's welcome in my class." Fluttershy beamed at the declaration.
"When can he start?" she asked, knowing they couldn't just drop Naruto into a classroom right off the bat. Again, the two paid no heed to the fact that Naruto had seemingly vanished from view, the Crusaders looking confused as to where he had gone.
Cheerilee seemed to contemplate that for a moment. "Well," she began, thinking it over carefully. "Under normal circumstances, I would say he could join the class immediately, but we might want to wait until he gets settled...maybe some time next week?" Fluttershy nodded. It seemed like a fairly smart idea to her. Naruto, while certainly taking things pretty positively, all things considered, was still just a child. It would probably take him a bit more time to settle into his new life. Waiting another week certainly wouldn't hurt the boy, and would actually give them a bit more time to bond as a family. Considering that was Celestia's original intension, she really couldn't argue anyway. Before she could say anything though, a shriek from outside finally caught their attention. Immediately bounding outside, Cheerilee and Fluttershy went slack-jawed at the sight of Diamond Tiara and Silver Spoon, covered in feathers and orange paint. The feathers, apparently, were held together with some kind of sticky paste, which also had the two stuck together at the flank.
Despite herself, Cheerilee had to fight to keep from snickering. Unfortunatly, as a teacher, remaining unbiased was something she had to do, and it taught the children the lesson that there were bullies in the world that they just had to deal with. But she would be lying to herself if she said that seeing the two as feathery, orange balls wasn't the funniest thing she'd seen in a long time. The rest of the class was also trying to at least restrain themselves, lest the fury of the two ponies be turned on them. The Cutie Mark Crusaders, already the target of most of the two fillies bullying, were having an even harder time.
Hearing quiet laughter, Fluttershy sighed sadly, before moving behind one of the nearby trees, grabbing the back of Naruto's shirt, before bringing him out to join the rest of his new classmates...provided of course Cheerilee still let him join her class.
"Here's what I want to know..." Rarity asked, between sips of her tea, staring at the blushing Pegasus before her. "Where in Celestia's name, did he manage to find a gallon of paste, and enough feathers and orange paint to cover two fillies...in the schoolyard?"
"I asked him the same thing," Fluttershy uttered. "I couldn't get a straight answer though. At least he apologized, and Cheerilee is still going to let him go to school." Rarity just giggled. After going to meet with Cheerilee, and with the school-day wrapping up, Fluttershy just brought Naruto with her to Carousel Boutique, looking to share the experience with one of her closest friends.
"Well, from what I hear from Sweetie Belle, those two certainly deserved it. But even still, it sounds like you're settling into your new role...I would imagine it's still a bit easier than handling my sister and her friends," she joked.
"It's all so new to me," replied Fluttershy, setting down her tea. "Handling the girls is one thing, but I don't know if I can pull off being a mother to Naruto." Rarity rolled her eyes.
"Fluttershy, you need to have a bit more faith in yourself. You seem to be doing a fabulous job. You already took it upon yourself to put him in school, you made sure that he apologized for his prank, and from the praise I heard earlier, managed to pull off his self-proclaimed favorite food," The fashionista announced, trying to help encourage the timid Pegasus. "And besides, you have all of us here to help as well. Between us, the girls, and Spike, his seal will be strong enough to hold back ten demons, if the Princesses were correct about its workings."
Fluttershy shuddered. That was another thing that was bothering her. How the demon came to be sealed into her charge to begin with. Why it was sealed. She just hoped Princess Luna could deduce the answers and relay them to her. She just hoped that if it was gifted with intelligence, like the Princesses claimed, that it might also be gifted with compassion. She finished her tea just as Naruto and the Cutie Mark Crusader's tumbled down the stairs in a heap.
"Ok..." Scootaloo grunted. "Cutie Mark Crusader 'Pony Cannonballs' probably wasn't my best idea..."
"Can we try something that doesn't cause everypony to fall on me?" announced Sweetie Belle, a dazed look on her face.
"Probably not a good idea to fall on the one with the horn," Naruto agreed, pushing himself to his feet. Scootaloo and Apple Bloom just nodded, blankly staring at Sweetie Belle's horn as though they just had realized it was there. Granted, it wasn't necessarily sharp, but it would still be an uncomfortable experience.
As the four ran outside, Rarity giggled a bit. Sure, the antics of her sister and the other Crusaders often got on her nerves, but there was something about the human boy joining in that made it bizarrely adorable. The girls were a very close knit group, and to allow not only a boy into their midst, but one of a different species. Rarity was actually proud of Sweetie Belle. They treated him as if he were any other colt, which was exactly what Naruto needed right now. He needed to belong.
Hearing the sound of hooves, they turned to the door to see Twilight, with Spike on her back, entering the room. Not usually important, except for the scroll the dragon was holding. "Fluttershy, there you are," Twilight sighed in relief. But Fluttershy didn't like the look present on her face.
"Twilight, darling, what's wrong? You look a bit green..." Rarity said, quirking an eyebrow at Twilight's disheveled appearance. And she had just gotten back to normal, too. Spike chose to answer instead.
"We just got a letter from Princess Luna!" he announced. "And she, I mean we, um...you might want to read it yourself..." Looking to one-another, Fluttershy and Rarity's eyes moved onto the now unrolled scroll, eyes growing wider with each line, until eventually Fluttershy was quivering.
As you are aware, I have agreed to meet with the demon sealed within your adopted son, once every week. I had thought the demon would be easy enough to handle, despite being unable to rid the child of it, but it has already begun to get under my skin. Despite its malicious, demon nature, it is inherently an animal. Given your skill handling animals, demonstrated by both your readiness to care for the child, as well as ridding us of a dragon merely though words, I believe it would be best, one week from tonight, for you to venture into Naruto's mind with me. Perhaps you can make the vile creature within him back down.
Princess Luna of Equestria.
Turning back to Fluttershy, Twilight, Rarity and Spike's eyes widened as she was nowhere to be seen. Hearing a rattling, they turned toward Rarity's couch, and saw the bits of pink mane sticking out from beneath it. Twilight just sighed and used her magic to levitate the couch off of the Pegasus pony, who let out an 'eep' before covering her eyes with her hooves. "She wants me to try and deal with a demon that both Princesses couldn't?"
"I'm sure it won't be that bad," Trilight said, trying to be reassuring. "The only reason they didn't take care of the demon is because of what it would do to Naruto. Plus, you'll have Luna there, and it needs her to keep Naruto's mindscape anything but the giant cage it originally was." At the very least, it eased Fluttershy's fears enough to allow her to stand, but she still seemed visibly shaken. "At least I hope it won't go bad..." the Unicorn thought, watching the Pegasus pony walk outside to try and find her charge.
"There's some sort of...lingering energy...I can feel it. Whatever took Naruto, left us the key to follow it." Looking at his former student as he spoke, Sarutobi grunted, acknowledging that he had heard the Toad Sage.
"And how long until we can follow Naruto?" he asked, and Jiraiya sighed, rubbing his temples.
"I can't be sure," he announced. "Theoretically, I could capture and then channel the ambient energy into a seal array and re-direct it back to its source...but figuring out how to do so, and also how to properly design a functioning seal array is going to take time. It could take anywhere from a few weeks, to a few years, and by that time, most of the energy left over will likely have dissipated. Unless we get another surge, we may very well be stuck."
Sarutobi said nothing. He ground his teeth into his pipe in irritation as he just stared at the sky above.
"I don't care what you have to do," he replied, and Jiraiya recognized immediately the fire that had re-lit within the aged man. This was not Hiruzen Sarutobi. This was the Third Hokage of the Hidden Leaf Village. And it was about damn time he truly came out of retirement. Jiraiya wanted to know Naruto was safe as well. It was for his safety that he left Naruto in the care of the village after Minato and Kushina died. But it appeared even Konoha wasn't safe anymore. He swore though, that he was going to get his Godson back, and make up for that lost time. Sarutobi agreed in full. "As of this moment, you have full reign over this matter, and access to all the resources at the village's disposal. If Naruto is alive, wherever he is, we will bring him home, and we will make his abductors rue the day they ever messed with the Legacy of the Fourth Hokage.
Sorry it took so long, but I ended up getting stuck on how to properly execute Luna's interactions with Kurama. Then throwing in Cheerilee, who is a lot harder to write for. I think I have it easier writing for Pinkie Pie.
Peace to all my Fans
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