Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any of it's characters.
Chapter 1: Forest of Death
Fire country was a huge nation. People were blessed with abundant natural resources which they mostly get from the woods which covered a large amount of the land. But not all forests served as the source of their lives, because there was one that was taking away lives of those who entered it, the "Forest of Death".
Forest of Death was huge woodland which was located at the village of Konoha. It was rumored to be the home for a mythical beast. People who entered the forest wasn't able to come back home and were believed to became the beast's lunch. However, there were people who didn't believe the tale and one of them was Sakura Haruno.
Sakura was a beautiful sixteen year old girl with shoulder length pink hair and green eyes which sparked with courage. She was a freshman in KonohaHigh School and currently residing at the village with her beloved mother, Mebuki Haruno. She was just an infant when her father, Kizashi Haruno, passed away due to an accident, leaving her mother to be the only one to raise her. Mebuki was strict, yet cheerful and loving mother. She was a simple village dress maker and she was working hard for the two of them, especially since Sakura was on her high school now.
Sakura gripped the strap of her huge cream backpack as she stared at the Forest of Death's entrance, remembering why she should go inside it….
Sakura just arrived on their small home from school and found her mother, Mebuki, lying unconscious at their kitchen with an unusual high temperature. She didn't waste any minute and took her mother to the village hospital. Yet, the doctor said they cannot find anything wrong with her mother and her temperature will eventually return to normal so they immediately discharged her. Sakura was not satisfied with the result so she decided to consult the village shaman, Lady Tsunade.
Lady Tsunade was a beautiful busty woman with blond locks that was tied in two pigtails. She was known for her miraculous healing which was rumored to cure people who cannot be healed by modern medicine. But due to her strange healing ability, not to mention her undying youthful appearance, some people believed that she was using some dark magic and started to avoid her. Sakura had barely seen her, since the latter hardly went out of her house, yet she was aware that the blond woman was a nice person. Lady Tsunade was an old friend of her mother. She once cured Sakura's sickness when she was a child and she was sure that she will also treat her mother.
That day, Sakura went to Lady Tsunade's abode, a small house distant from the other houses, nearby the Forest of Death. She was greeted by a woman with a short black hair with a piglet in her arms. The woman was Lady Tsunade's apprentice, Shizune and the little pig was Tonton, Lady Tsunade's pet. Shizune informed Sakura that the shaman was not around that time, but as her apprentice, she tried to help the pinkette and checked on Mebuki's condition.
"How is she?" Sakura asked worriedly after Shizune looked at her mother.
The black haired woman frowned. "I'm sorry, but her case is beyond my knowledge. Only Lady Tsunade could heal her. In fact, we just had a patient similar to your mother's case and Lady Tsunade was out to gather the ingredients for the cure to her illness."
The pinkette's spirit was lifted upon hearing that. So Lady Tsunade could really help her mother. "When will Lady Tsunade come back?" she asked enthusiastically.
"Honestly, I don't know… She's been gone for a week," Shizune answered anxiously.
Sakura's jaw dropped. "A week? Where did she go to be out for that long?" The shaman's apprentice seemed to be uncomfortable with her question. "Shizune?"
"W-well she's … she went to a forest to find the ingredients."
"Oh, no wonder she's been gone for so long. Maybe she's at a far away land since there's no other forest that was near Konoha, except for the Forest of Death." Shizune flinched visibly at the mention of the said forest which made Sakura grew suspicious. "She couldn't be on that forest, right? They say that no one could ever get out of that forest, dead or alive."
The older woman burst into tears upon hearing her last sentence and even Tonton wailed.
The pinkette panicked on their reaction. She rushed to Shizune's side to soothe her. "Hey, are you alright?" she asked anxiously.
"I-I'm sorry. I'm just so worried about her. She had never been out at the forest this long before. "
Sakura's eyes widen. "So she's really at the Forest of Death? And what do you mean she had never been out at the forest this long before? She has been able to enter and exit the Forest of Death?"
Shizune's face went horrified. "W-what are you saying? I-I didn't say that she's at THAT forest, did I?"
"No, you didn't. But… you're reaction told it when I mentioned the forest. So please tell me the truth. I need to know where Lady Tsunade is. My mother needs her," Sakura pleaded.
Shizune stared at her, contemplating whether to tell her the truth or not. Defiantly, she sighed. "I guess, nothing would change whether I tell you where she is or not. But can you promise me that you wouldn't tell anyone what I will tell you?"
Sakura eagerly nodded.
"Well… you're right. She's at the Forest of Death." The pinkette's eyes widen but before she could ask further questions, the black haired woman continued. "And believe it or not, she has been there couple of times before and she was able to get out alive. It used take only a day for her to gather ingredients there for her medicines… that's why I'm worried right now."
Sakura was amazed at the first part of what she heard. But she frowned at the older woman's last sentence. "Don't worry, Shizune, She's been at the forest many times before, right? I know she's alright."
Shizune forced a smile. "I really hope so."
The room fell silent, only the sound of Mebuki's heavy breathing could be heard.
Sakura eyed her mother worriedly. Her condition was getting worse and they didn't have any idea when will Lady Tsunade be back. An idea popped on her head. "I could go look for Lady Tsunade there. Forest of Death isn't really deadly since she could go in and out there, right?"
Shizune looked at her outrageously. "Of course it's deadly! The rumors are all true, Sakura. There's a beast living out there! Lady Tsunade told me that she had seen it."
"Really? How come she could navigate the forest?"
The apprentice frowned. "I don't know either. But she told me to never enter the forest because it's dangerous."
Sakura clenched her fists. "If it's really dangerous, why don't we report to the police that she's at the forest and missing?"
"Have you forgotten what the people think about her? Do you think the police would dare to enter the forest just to find her? Maybe they will be glad that she's gone."
Sakura's silent for a minute. Village people were so mean. Lady Tsunade was their fellow villager, a human not an evil like what they think. "Then let's find her."
Shizune shook her head. "I told you it's dangerous."
"Are you saying that you'll just sit here doing nothing? I thought you are worried? Trying to find her is better than waiting without knowing when she'll be back or worse, if she'll return or not!"
"Of course I'm worried! But she made me promise never to step in the forest whenever she's not around." She sobbed and Tonton cried.
I'll find her, Sakura thought in full determination.
Sakura gazed at the shadowy forest ahead her. It was early in the morning and the sun rose but it was strangely dark at the woods. She didn't manage to convince Shizune to look for Lady Tsunade during their conversation yesterday, but that didn't stop her from doing her will.
Since Shizune promised to visit her mother again this morning, she left a note on their kitchen table saying that she's gone to look for Lady Tsunade. She explained that she wanted to find the shaman not only to heal her mother, but also to because she's also worried about her, after all she's been close to her when she's younger, almost like her godmother. And while she's not around, she asked her to look for her mother. She was aware that it was dangerous but it's better to at least try to save her mother's life, than just sit around and watch her suffer.
Sakura tugged her red hoody jacket as a cold shivering wind blew. Her eyes flew from the dead trees which were oddly looked like monsters, down to the barb wires in front of her that served like fence to the restricted area, and then to the big signage on her right that says "Do not enter". But strangely, the words "Do not" has three diagonal lines that seemed like scratches and barely readable. The banner seemed to be grazed from behind based from its appearance and likely made by a huge clawed animal. Maybe a bear? No, it looked like something definitely a lot bigger since the ten feet tall signage was almost ripped.
But instead of to run and be frightened, she wanted to laugh. Maybe some prankster did that to scare away people. There's no animal with that big claws, more so a "mythical" beast. If there was, why didn't Lady Tsunade told Shizune what the beast looked like if she really saw it? And if she could go in and out the forest, everyone else could, too. People were just too scared to try since they were fed up with those ridiculous rumors.
Her eyes fell on the broken barb wire right beside the signage. Perhaps, that's how Lady Tsunade entered the forest.
She looked back at the village once more before stepping inside not knowing that pair of bloody red eyes was watching her from the core of the Forest of Death.
Thanks for reading "My Husband is a Nine-tailed Demon Fox". The story has barely began. Follow/Favorite and be updated on Sakura's adventure. And please don't forget to leave a review for me to know what you think about this chapter. ;)
Next Chapter: Nine Tailed Fox
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