Big Trouble in Little Bruma
The Kvatch Trio weren't the only Ninja visitors to Bruma. Black hair and red eyes greeted the dusk as Sasuke waited for the right moment. He had been given an order from Lucian Lachance and traveled directly to the Cheydenhal enclave of the Dark Brotherhood. Life there was interesting. The people were all different. Two, the lizard people, were born into the order as Shadowscales. Others were drawn by their own personal link to certain people, mostly brought into the order by Lachance himself. Sasuke did not see it as a lifestyle or an arrangement of a lifetime, but merely a stepping stone.
There was no one holding him back now. No, indeed, they encouraged his quest for vengeance against his brother, as murder was a fact of life to them. This brotherhood understood the need for positive reinforcement. You were given plenty of chances to get it done, but if you did it perfectly the first time you got a bonus. Every time he got a bonus, he gained a little more power, a little more strength. They gave him tips on how to improve, how to become more deadly, more fearsome. The only one he had a problem with was that damn cat. He had no interest in dealing with him more often than absolutely necessary, but those poison apples were so useful.
Sasuke was blatantly aware of how far behind he was when compared to his brother's strength. Itachi had been an ANBU Captain at thirteen, his eyes awakened at 6, not long after his graduation. Sasuke himself had only graduated at thirteen and it took being kidnapped and attacked with intent to kill before his eyes awakened. But since that point, he had only gone forward, gaining more and more power. His stealth was unparalleled in the Dark Brotherhood, not to mention his ability to disguise himself as anyone. While this was a mundane skill in Konoha and the shinobi nations, here it was a desired skill, something illusionists had tried for years. He had already tutored three people in the skill and their success rate was skyrocketing. Sasuke, however, was using those precious Sharingan eyes to throw himself further and further forward towards his goal.
He had joined the mage's guild. Magic was slightly different than ninjutsu but not too different according to his eyes. He made his way into the caverns where the conjurers and necromancers practiced. Deep inside, he sat, waiting and watching, his eyes spinning whenever it seemed like something interesting was going to occur. Then he would strike from the shadows, a blade in the dark, the chakra flowing through their coils acting as his only light. He saw this as no different from a c-rank mission executing bandits. Though he might respect their skills, he hated them for their abuse of the dead. While he hadn't the patience to do the recommendations and enter the Arcane University, there were plenty of spells available for him through the various vendors. And they gave training to anyone with a bit of coin. By now he could call up the souls of the dead, animate corpses, see chakra as well as any Hyuuga, throw fire at a whim or even freeze a target's blood solid with a touch.
His martial abilities had increased no less than his more arcane talents. Sasuke traveled to the Arena and unlike most warriors, he only went to watch. He would make a minimal wager, an amount he cared little about losing. All he wanted was to watch the champions. His sword skill was now equal to that of the Gray Prince, his archery as good as any blue or yellow team pit dog, bloodletter or champion. Watching over the fights, the Uchiha gained more than he lost in coin, and never even needed to shed a drop of blood.
In his adventures, the "Last" Uchiha had also discovered a flaw in his Sharingan: speed. It wasn't common, but every so often there was a bandit or monster that could move faster than he could react, even when he could predict where and how they would strike. He'd been working almost exclusively on his speed, strength and agility.
And all this brought him to Bruma. His target was an old man. He didn't know who had called for his death, and truth be told, he didn't really care. Sasuke bit into a tomato he'd stolen from a farm not far from the city called Applewatch as he waited for night to fall. He knew from his talks with the other people in his Brotherhood cell that there was a secret entrance in back of the target's house. It just wasn't safe to wait in the house where he could be seen. He wanted his bonus.
In order to earn the bonus, the target had to be assassinated in a specific way to make it look like an accident. Every night at the same time, the target would sit in his favorite chair under a stuffed minotaur bust. Sasuke only had to loosen the ties and his problem would no longer be a problem.
He checked the time. Five minutes since the last time he checked his watch.
This was going to be a long wait.
"I'm starting to get really worried," Haku said as he and Sakura sat at a table in the Jerall View. They'd been sipping this sweet, warm drink the people up there called "mead" (which was great stuff, tasted like honey and apple) for some time and just then realized that Naruto hadn't shown up.
"Itsh hokay," Sakura slurred, throwing back her fifth bottle of mead. "Heel be fhine. Hesh Nahrootoh."
Haku, more than a little buzzed himself, didn't even realize she was slurring. Forgetting their friend, they went on to have a conversation about wheelbarrows. This overly in-depth conversation took two hours and should have only taken a few sentences.
Back at the Castle, Naruto had a mission. There was this thing called the Draconian Madstone. It was a retrieval mission, kinda like hunting for Tora except the Draconian Madstone wouldn't repost with nasty giant claws all over his face. Or at least he hoped so.
He left the city and headed north by north east eventually finding the Dragonclaw Rock, which was not actually a dragon claw at all, much to Naruto's disappointment. Now, in something his friends would find amazing, he actually was able to read a map and find his way. He moved along and found the gigantic statue.
"Shouldn't that be looking up since there's a whole bunch of mountains in the way?" he pondered aloud as he trudged through the snow. Then, up ahead, was a door with snakes on it, which was NOT bigger than the statue like the map said. "This must be the place," he muttered. "Damn, I was hoping for a big giant door like the one in that tower of Oblivion. No wonder they didn't find this dinky little thing."
Inside he had a grand adventure battling ogres, wolves and a bear before he made it out the other side where he battled more ogres and a handful of wolves. He kept on going until he encountered a large ruin of an ancient fort. Inside were a whole bunch of skeletons wielding katanas and traps that didn't make much sense if it was once a functioning fort with real people. Finally, Naruto reached the final room.
"NOBODY SAID THERE'S BE GHOSTS! I HATE GHOSTS!" Naruto screamed tossing the orders at the Akaviri ghost and running into a corner to hide. The Akaviri commander, looked at him confused.
"Was it something I said?" Akaviri Commander Mishaxi asked to no one in particular. The man nodded to where Naruto was shivering in the corner. He glanced at the orders Naruto had left in his flight and smiled. "Well done soldier, you have my thanks. Long live the Akavir!" Naruto didn't seem to have any positive response so the ghost shrugged and opened up a secret door before vanishing.
Naruto looked left and Naruto looked right. Seeing no more ghosts, he stood up and took a deep breath. Creeping slowly, he moved along the wall until he was able to look around the corner into the secret room.
"Whew... no ghosts!" he exclaimed. "Well," he said straightening up. "That, uh, wasn't so bad."
Picking up the Draconian Madstone, he stepped out the back door and made his way back out to the entrance. "Funny how this fort doesn't look like Cloud Ruler Temple or any back home."
He opened the door and walked into a snow storm. Now, normally, this would have been a clue to wait out the storm, but forethought has never been one of Naruto's strong points. Naruto picked a direction and ended up on a mountain. A very, very tall mountain.
"Uh, what is this place?" Naruto asked after banging on a door on a mountain building until someone opened said door.
"The mountain is the Throat of the World, and this is High Hrothgar," the old man with the very long beard replied.
"Do you guys have any warm clothes? Cuz I'm pretty damn cold," Naruto replied.
Back in Bruma, Sasuke dusted himself off as he congratulated himself for a successful assassination. He stepped out onto the street and stretched, feeling his back crack as he worked the kinks out. Waiting in one place for so long is not conducive to one's chiropractic health. So there he was, out on the street when a pink-haired girl and the other girl they'd been caged up with walked out of an inn. Haku and Sakura had been kicked out for public drunkenness and the fact that Naruto had been designated as the gold carrier. He cursed himself for his mistake as the girl's eyes went wide.
"Sasuke-kun?" she half whispered.
Sasuke stared at Sakura.
Sakura stared at Sasuke.
Haku, holding a still rather drunk Sakura on her feet, glanced between the two.
"Hn," Sasuke replied in a depressed, broody tone.
And that's when the guards standing by the front gate finished comparing Sasuke to the wanted poster the legion soldiers had just finished passing out a day before.
"Stop right there criminal scum!" one said, only for Sasuke to break out of his stupor and run the guy through with a sword.
"Sasuke-kun! Whaht are yhou dohing? Yhou can't khill the guar's!" Sakura protested as she tried to stand on her own two feet and failed.
"Uh, Sakura, I think he's proving without a doubt that he can kill the guards quite easily, and I'm pretty sure that guars are a totally different thing. I think they're from Morrowind," Haku pointed out. "Should we be stopping him?"
"Sasuke-kuuuun!" Sakura moaned before her gorge rose. "Ih don't fheel sho ghood."
"Oh, not on my new robes!" Haku screeched, stepping away quickly. Sakura did miss Haku, but several of the guards were not so lucky. They slipped on the wet and quickly freezing steps, allowing Sasuke to dispatch the last standing guard with a blade through the gut and make a run for the gate.
The last two guards stood back up. To say that they were less than pleased would be an extraordinary understatement.
"You're coming with us!" one of they snarled, grabbing Sakura by the arm.
"Wait, where are you taking her?" Haku asked.
"The Bruma dungeons for aiding and abetting a known criminal," the other one said, grabbing Sakura's other arm.
"Is it warm in the dungeons?" Haku asked.
The two guards shared a look.
"Relatively I s'pose," said the second. Haku nodded.
"I should come along, right," Haku replied. "Since I'm, you know, a witness."
The second guard looked to the first for assistance.
"Uh, sure, why not?"
Naruto, now snugly wrapped up in a big wool blanket, was eating a bowl of soup. It was okay, but not that great.
"Hey, you know what would make this soup even more awesome?" Naruto asked.
"No," one of the Graybeards replied, well, the only one who actually ever said anything at all.
"Noodles," Naruto said seriously.
"What are these 'Noodles'?"
The poor Graybeard didn't know what he was getting into.
About five hours later, Naruto, using native Skyrim wheat, eggs and the finest melted mountain snow, produced the first noodles in Tamriel. "And you can dry them to keep for later or you can use them right away."
The Graybeards stood around nodded, hands stroking beards as they contemplated this new discovery.
"Come Naruto, we must thank you for this gift," the leader said, leading him out the back door, "Have you heard the Way of the Voice?"
"No, is that like Hari Krishna?"
The Graybeards looked at each other with a confused look.
"Probably not, but I think you'll like this," their speaker replied.
They were right. But of course, most twelve year old boys love the excuse to scream at the top of their lungs.
"Fus Ro Dah!" Naruto screamed, seeing a slight bit of snow move before him that might or might not just been from the mountain breeze. He turned back to the Graybeards. "How come mine doesn't knock people backwards?"
"You have to speak the words many times before your Thu'um is strong," said the old man.
"Hey, old man, I'll be the best at this because Naruto Uzumaki never gives up! Believe it, old man!" Naruto declared.
"You'll have to practice often and speak the words as much as possible for the Way of the Word to infuse your Voice," the old man replied kindly.
"Is that like the Will of Fire?" Naruto asked.
"Probably not exactly, but there's no reason they have to mutually exclusive," the old man replied with a shrug.
Sakura was sitting across from a guard in a dark room. The only light came from a sconce on the wall. The guard pulled out a large book with many other pieces of paper tucked into its pages and set the tome on the table before him. The dungeon was surprisingly warm and damp for the brutishly cold city, on the other hand, she was starting to sober up and the effects of dehydration on a twelve year old body were showing themselves. Basically she felt like crap.
The guard flipped open the book to the appropriate page.
"So..." he said slowly, glancing through the notes written on the yellowed pages. "You say your name is Sakura. What kind of name is that?"
"It's my name," she replied, eyes almost impossibly wide. If she wasn't suffering from severe hangover induced mal a la tete and dehydration she might have started to cry. She wasn't even sure why she was in the dungeon.
"Sooo..." the guard said, drawing out the syllable. "Tell me, what is your connection to the notorious murderer known as Red Eyed Saskay Koon?"
Haku raised his hand. "Oo! I know that one! Pick me, pick me!"
The guard stared at the boy as he eagerly waved his hand. Pinching the bridge of his nose and squeezing his eyes shut, the guard pointing to the brunette. "Fine, what's the connection?"
"He's her former teammate who ditched us all when we were leaving the jail with the Emperor. We haven't seen him since then until today," Haku replied in what he hoped was a helpful tone. "He's a real jerk from what their other teammate says. And since we just witnessed him killing guards, I'd say he's right."
"You seem quite flippant about their deaths," the guard commented.
"Master Zabuza has killed a lot more for less reason," Haku explained. "He's killed so many that now he's known as the Demon of the Bloody Mist."
"... … ...and he's your master?" the guard asked, suddenly worried about being trapped in the same room with the person.
"Yes, he took me off the streets and saved me after my father killed my mother and then tried to kill me," Haku explained with a wistful smile. The guard, realizing that Haku was between him and the door, started to sweat nervously.
"And your master, is he here?" the guard asked.
Haku cocked his head to the side, clearly pondering the question.
"Well, I doubt he's here right now, but I have faith that he'll be coming for me," Haku replied, not realizing that the guard was starting to shiver. "I'm a very useful tool, so it makes sense for him to come find me when I'm missing."
The guard glanced at Haku, at the door and at the pink haired girl holding her head in her hands. He paused a moment, not moving a muscle. Then he slapped the book shut and nodded to the door.
"Okay, I've heard enough, you can go since you've been so cooperative," the guard said perhaps a little too quickly, nodding for them to exit before him.
"Do we have to? Sakura's been so cold since we arrived and I think this is the first time she's been warm and remotely sober since we entered the city gates," Haku said. The guard froze a second, thinking fast.
"Uh, no, town policy," he replied. "If you want it warm, may I suggest Leyawiin?"
And with that, the nervous guard tossed the two of them on their butts in the middle of the Bruma Great Hall.
Meanwhile, off the coast of the Summerset Isle, a certain ship captain was being held up by his shirt by a very angry jonin.
"What do you mean 'they won't let us resupply and trade'?" Kakashi said as he hefted the man one handed.
"Altmer wizards have led a boycott against Imperial goods, I tried to explain that we aren't from the Empire, but they didn't listen," the captain replied amongst gasps for air. Kakashi gave him a little smile with his eye and opened his hand, dropping the shipcaptain on the deck. "They won't let us even stay here if they think we're headed for the Empire."
"And just why did they get that impression?" Zabuza asked, holding the gigantic sword as nonchalantly as possible for a sword that size.
"I-I ma-may have h-hinted we were h-headed in th-that direction," the captain said. Nodding, the Mist ninja shared a look with the Copy Ninja, who nodded.
"I think it's time for some 'aggressive negotiations,'" Kakashi stated.
"My negotiations always involve me threatening to kill them if I don't get what I want," Zabuza reminded him.
"Yeah, that's pretty much what I was going for," Kakashi agreed. He looked over towards the three ninja he dragged along. "Shikaku, Inoichi, Choza, you three ready to go?"
Shikaku Nara looked at the silver haired ninja with an exasperated look.
"What's so troublesome this time?" Choza Akamichi asked as he wolfed down the last bit of food in the stores.
"Well, when they start killing the boycotters and blockaders, they'll destroy the metaplot for Elder Scrolls V," Shikaku replied.
"Dammit, Shikaku," Inoichi grumbled. "Stop breaking the 4th Wall."
Next Time: Aggressive Negotiations!