AN: Here's chapter 22. The release schedule for this fic is changing as of this post. The next update will now be on 03/03/24, but for those who cannot wait it is already up on the pat. Also, as of today there are still 15 days left in the summons poll. go to pat to vote! it's free.

Without further delay, let us begin.

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XXX

Beware the Ill Wind

"So I need to spin my chakra until the balloon pops?" Naruto asked, squinting his eyes at the balloon in his hands as they walked into one of the little towns within fire country. This would be their first stop on their path to Tsunade. Jiraiya was checking in with one of his contacts here to help pinpoint where Tsunade was.

As his father wanted, Jiraiya did exactly as he'd asked and started teaching him the Rasengan as soon as they'd left. Well, sort of. The very first thing he did was have Naruto sign the toad summoning contract and he summoned his first toad while they were taking a break for lunch. Jiraiya had been surprised when Naruto skipped right over tadpoles, but when Kushina explained that she'd taught him some theory around summoning in preparation for him to receive the Uzumaki summoning scrolls, he merely made a sound of understanding and moved along with the next bit of Naruto's training.

Jiraiya had told Naruto they'd come back to the summons when they were in a location that wasn't so close to a town. As it was, they were nearly to the first stop and he didn't want to scare the locals if Naruto managed a large toad somehow. Instead, he began telling him about the jutsu Naruto was most excited to learn about: the Rasengan.

The way Jiraiya talked about his father coming up with the jutsu was with an air of pride and respect. Minato clearly impressed his godfather with his genius. The awe Naruto sometimes caught in Jiraiya's voice as he spoke was endearing, and it was a side of the man Naruto could appreciate. For all his perversion, he really did care about Minato.

It made Naruto wonder why Jiraiya hadn't been around for him.

After an explanation on the jutsu that was really just Jiraiya praising his dad, the sannin finally got around to the actual training instructions, which is how Naruto ended up with a water balloon in his hand, asking Jiraiya about the exercise. He would do as Jiraiya said, but it was just an odd way to learn a jutsu in his opinion.

"Yeah, kid. Spin away. Not until it pops though. I'm not expecting that out of you here. Make a hole and that'll be enough for me," said Jiraiya. And so Naruto got to work. He was trying to get the balloon to pop for hours. He'd hardly paid any attention to them getting an inn for the night, and he merely continued practicing in the room. His mother watched him struggle with a smile and Jiraiya had long since come back from gathering information before Naruto took a break.

The frustration was clear on Naruto's face, and Sasuke couldn't help but make a comment. "Is it really that hard?"

Instead of Jiraiya or Kushina, the one who answered him was Kakashi. "The Rasengan is an A-rank jutsu for a reason, Sasuke. It seems simple, but most people cannot create one."

"But why?" Sakura asked, looking up from her medical book.

"Because it requires a high level of shape manipulation," said Kakashi. Sasuke crossed his arms, shooting his teacher a skeptical look.

"It's just a sphere," Sasuke responded.

"Yeah, Sensei. Isn't making a dragon out of water more impressive?" Sakur asked.

"More impressive she says," barked Jiraiya, laughing. Kakashi hummed and then eye smiled at his students.

"This is a good moment for a bit of a chakra theory lesson. Pay attention, my cute little genin. Tell me, Sasuke. Do you know any offensive techniques that are pure chakra? No element attached to them at all?" Kakashi asked. Sasuke opened his mouth, prepared to rattle off a list, and then stopped. When he really thought about it, he couldn't really think of any.

"Chakra scalpels…?" Sakura offered in his stead. Kakashi shook his head.

"Those can be used offensively, you aren't wrong Sakura… but they aren't an offensive technique. That's never what they were meant for," Kakashi replied.

"What about those chakra strings Kankuro uses?" Naruto asked, already back to trying to get the balloon to pop again. He was never one to sit still for long, frustrated or not.

"No. Technically, the puppet is what's offensive there. The strings themselves are just an aspect of control," Kakashi responded. Sasuke 's eyes narrowed as he thought.

"So, the Rasengan is the only one?"

"As far as we're aware," Kakashi responded.

"But what does that have to do with the difficulty of the jutsu?" Sakura asked.

"More than you'd think, Sakura," Kushina said, "everyone has an affinity for a particular chakra nature. It makes using jutsu of that element much easier. What people don't know is that it's easier to shape elemental chakra than pure chakra. And alongside that, names have more power than people give them credit for. The very name of the jutsu is like a brand on your mind. You brought up the water dragon, Sakura. The very nature of the jutsu is almost like a predetermined blueprint for its shape. An imprint on your cognition. 'If the Suiryuudan is not a dragon, I have not performed the correct jutsu.' Simplistic, but it is something like that."

"True shape manipulation is when you alter the form of something that already has a defined shape to it," Kakashi continued, "turning a Suiryuudan into a sphere or a dome after casting it as a means to trap your enemy or throw them off is far more difficult than merely making the dragon. It requires a level of control over the jutsu most people do not have. And pure chakra is even harder to manipulate in that way. It has no set state of being. Water flows, fire flows and flickers, wind twists and turns, slashes, and applies pressure. Lightning is rather twitchy and never stops moving, earth is like a solid wall and immovable.

"Most elemental jutsu have shapes that fit in with the natural state of the element they are derived from. Pure chakra is wild; unchecked. Forcing it into any shape is difficult. Keeping it that way is even more so. It destabilizes faster than any elemental chakra. That makes its use in long range techniques all but impossible. Chakra strings are a bit of an exception. Since they aren't packed with much chakra, they're easier to maintain and they're structure is simple too. The Rasengan is a dense ball, packed with chakra that wants nothing more than to be released. To be able to shape it and maintain it is the pinnacle of shape manipulation," Kakashi finished.

"And its not even a complete jutsu," Jiraiya grinned. Sasuke, Naruto, and Sakura whipped their heads over to Jiraiya.

"What…? But, Dad's known for this. And I know its power is pretty devastating. What more could he want to do to it?" Naruto asked.

"Add an element to it," Kushina replied, "I know everything we've said thus far would suggest that pure chakra is stronger than elemental chakra, and in some ways that is true. Pure chakra has no direct counter like the elemental chakra's do, and thus it has an edge in that regard, but elemental chakra brings its own benefits. Your father aimed to combine the two. A Rasengan that has the raw power of pure chakra and the added finesse of elemental chakra. It would be an S-rank jutsu without doubt… but he never got around to finishing it before we were captured."

"Which is understandable. It's an extremely difficult thing to do. My Raikiri is just my failed attempt at a Raiton Rasengan," Kakashi admitted. This surprised his genin. They knew of the technique's power. And they knew of its renown. And now they come to find out that it was the result of a failure? It was hard to believe.

"This… is a lot to take in," said Sakura. Neither of her teammates made an outward show of agreeing with her, but they still did. Naruto imagined that he would have paid more attention in the academy if they'd been learning that.

"So, I uh… i have a question."

"Yes, Naru?" said his mother.

"There aren't a lot of techniques made through pure chakra… but do you think I could still make some?" Naruto asked.


Hijiri dodged behind a tree, avoiding a glob of water that pulverized the earth where she'd once been. When she came back around the tree she kicked her naginata into a spin as she covered it in wind. A fireball slammed into the spinning weapon, the wind wicking away the heat and the flames. Hijiri swung the naginata, forcing the weakened fireball off to her side, and jumped over a wriggling mass of snakes.

Hijiri had caught Orochimaru off guard at the start of their fight, but after she'd nearly shredded his arms from his body, he'd stopped attempting to test her limits. It was smart of him, in her opinion. If he had continued it would have easily resulted in his death–faster than it was already coming to him, anyway. Now he was proving to be a challenge.

Orochimaru may not have been in his propper body, but he was still quick and supremely skilled. His knowledge of jutsu was vast. His mind was sharp. And he had help.

"Suiton: Suiryuudan no jutsu!" the aqua dragon rushed at her, opened its mouth wide, and devoured her. Hijiri sliced through its neck from the inside and escaped the technique. Orochimaru burst out of the ground as she was landing, his hand reaching for her feet. She flung her naginata into his skull only for him to burst into smoke as a jet stream of water cut through a tree behind her and swung toward her. Hijiri dropped to her stomach and then rolled away.

She quickly got to her feet. Neither Kabuto or Orochimaru were in sight, and while it was annoying she could respect their strategy. Hit and run was smart, especially if you thought you were outclassed. It provided them opportunities to surprise attack her or make a retreat if they could–which they couldn't. Hijiri didn't need to see, after all.

She saw no reason to prolong this. Hijiri took a deep breath and kicked off. She vanished from their sight, but both of them knew she was making a beeline for where they were. Orochimaru swung down from a branch and flung a kick out, predicting where Hijiri would be. He was proven right, but she blocked the attack with the flat of her blade. Her free hand jerked forward and dug itself into his gut. Orochimaru went flying back end over end while Kabuto came up on her side, a chakra scalpel swinging at her throat. He was quite literally going for the jugular.

His hand veered off course. His eyes widened. Hijiri's foot landed on his chin and Kabuto saw black. As he fell to the forest floor below, Hijiri landed on a nearby tree and then crouched low, avoiding Orochimaru's flying kick. He twisted into a spin and landed sideways on a trunk before pushing off of it. The trunk snapped with a loud crack. It fell toward the both of them.

Hijiri spun her naginata around herself and then twirled as she made an upward slash that brought with it a twisting mass of wind that quickly took on the visage of three dark green dragons, their gaping maws letting forth a bellowing yell that sounded like the roar of a tornado.

"Toryumon!" Both Orochimaru and the tree were taken into the sky, shredded up, and then brought back down to the earth by the dragons. A huge snake lunged at her from beneath her branch. Hijiri backflipped away right as its jaws closed. As she was falling, Orochimaru flung two kunai from below her. She twisted her body out of the way, only for them to explode and fling her into a tree trunk. It was his first successful hit of the fight.

"You," Hijiri growled. "You dare?" Orochimaru grinned nastily at her, his hands gripping more Kunai.

"You cannot see. And while you've developed a technique to deal with such a handicap, it has its flaws. How do you predict an explosive note on a kunai, I wonder? Or on a tree trunk?" Orochimaru asked. Hijiri tried to leap away but it was too late. The trunk of the tree exploded at her feet and she was sent flying forward. Orochimaru dug his fist into her stomach. Spittle flew from her lips as she was flung back into the falling tree.

The forest floor shook. Birds took flight. Hijiri took slow, limping steps away from the fallen tree. She had only made it five steps when Orochimaru blitzed her from the side. Adrenaline pumping, she ignored the pain in her legs to spin toward him and swing her naginata down at his shoulder. Her body suddenly froze up and she looked down at her feet despite her closed eyes. There was a sealing array below her. A paralysis seal of some sort, she was sure.

With gritted teeth, she expended a hefty amount of chakra to break free, but it was a moment too slow. Orochimaru landed a punch to her face, followed by a palm to the chest, then a hook, a jab, a knee, and then he jumped away just as the sizzling sound of the explosive note he attached to her began. The explosion flung up the dirt beneath her and left a cloud of smoke in its wake.

Orochimaru landed a few feet away, but threw two more kunai into the smoke and detonated them for good measure.

"Futon: Byoki Kazegiri!" the same blade of wind Hijiri had thrown at him back at the invasion came cutting through the smoke. It was moving much faster than when he'd last seen it, and it was the same dark green as many of her other jutsu had been. Countless smaller wind blades also seemed to be hovering around it, increasing its overall area of impact. He knew he couldn't get hit by it. He quickly dug into the ground, deeper and deeper until he felt safe from whatever sort of mess that jutsu would create.

For what felt like ages, Orochimaru hid beneath the dirt, waiting on something–anything to happen.

And then it did.

The ground shook fiercely and he heard the muffled howling of wind above him, screeching at all who dared to listen. Snapping bark reached his ears, but he never heard or felt a tree fall to the ground. And then there was just suddenly silence. Orochimaru waited for just a little longer before he made his way back up to the surface. When his head poked out of the dirt, he laid his eyes on pure devastation.

There were no trees. No grass. No animals. Even the air around him tasted like something stale had permeated it. And breathing was painful, as if all the moisture had been sucked out of the very air. Nothing at all was around him in the path Hijiri's jutsu had followed. He climbed out of the ground and looked around, eyes searching out his opponent. He did not see her either.

"Futon: Fuso!" Something heavy settled on his shoulders as a roar of wind filled his ears. Orochimaru found himself planted back into the dirt. The only reason he survived was because he'd already created a downward path. If not for that, he knew he would have been a gory red splatter upon the earth right now. Orochimaru made another route to the surface and quickly located Hijiri standing in the new clearing, right behind where he'd resurfaced.

"You certainly live up to your place in the Akatsuki. You just won't die," Orochimaru hissed. How is she still alive? He wondered, is she dampening the explosions with wind, perhaps? It is the only explanation I can think of. Nothing else makes sense.

"Scum like you has no hope of killing me," Hijiri replied crossly. Internally, Orochimaru smiled. An angry opponent was a reckless one. They were prone to making mistakes, and those he could exploit.

"We shall see," Orochimaru chuckled. He ran at her, as a kunai fell into his hand from his sleeve. He threw it. Hijiri swung her naginata, a small blade of wind flying off toward the kunai, meeting it, and cutting it in half. The note attached to it exploded halfway between them and Hijiri dashed in, not needing sight to make her move. She could tell with her Kaze Satoru that there were suddenly two Orochimaru's behind the smoke and when she swung her Naginata at one of them, the other took the chance to aim a kick at the back of her knees.

She stopped short to avoid the blow, and then blocked a punch from who she assumed was the real Orochimaru. Lifting a leg, she kicked out to her side and that Orochimaru took the kick, skidding back. When his clone did not pop, Hijiri tried to move away from it, only to have it give her a bear hug. The clone exploded. Hijiri was sent tumbling through the air, but she managed to land on her feet a moment later.

"Eventually, you will run out of steam and die," Orochimaru said as he created four more clones. "The fuinjutsu I have scattered arou–" he stopped himself short and his glare would have had Hijiri seize up and die if he was capable of such a thing. Her little giggle that soon turned into a laugh only intensified his current feelings.

"Finally realized it, did you?" Hijiri asked, calming her laughter. She was a sight; a trail of blood trickled from the right side of her lips. Her Akatsuki cloak was all but burnt off. Her arms were singed and even purpling a little from all the blunt force they'd taken and Orochimaru knew she still had a limp. He couldn't tell what sort of internal damage she'd taken, but he was sure there was plenty.

"You are a thorn like no other," Orochimaru replied, seething. And she was, for he looked only slightly better than her. His clothes were still intact, aside from a few cuts. His body, however, showed a myriad of bruises from how often she'd been landing blows upon him. Truthfully, he was just lucky he'd been avoiding strikes from her blade. He had little doubt he'd be dead by now if he'd taken even one strike from its tainted edge.

"I simply knew I had to clear our surroundings if I wanted to have a fair fight with you, Orochimaru. Do forgive me," Hijiri replied, even having the audacity to throw in a little bow at the end.

"This will not save you," Orochimaru responded even as he thought on how he could reapply the seals without her notice, or retreat. Fighting her without a way to actually catch her off guard was proving to be impossible.

"Oh, Orochimaru… your bravado will not save you," Hijiri mocked. With a sneer, Orochimaru dashed at her. She replied in kind. They met in the middle and Hijiri swung her naginata from the left side, forcing Orochimaru to block with a kunai as one of his clones came up on her right. It reached out to grab her only for her to raise her hand and force it away with a harsh gust of wind. It exploded a few feet away from them, but neither shinobi lost their stride.

Hijiri applied wind chakra to her blade, cutting the kunai in half. Orochimaru jumped back before he could suffer the same fate as a clone moved in to take his place. Hijiri jerked her naginata up to avoid killing it and making it explode as it threw a fist forward.

"Fuso," Hijiri said as she flicked her free fingers down sharply ahead of her. A column of wind dropped onto the clone and even though it exploded, the wind acted as a barrier that the heat and force could not escape, snuffing it out. All three of the remaining Orochimaru's attacked then, one from each side except her front.

Hijiri spun her naginata to the right. That Orochimaru stopped it with his palm on the flat of the blade and exploded. Hijiri tumbled to the left where that Orochimaru tried jumping on her. She rolled to her knees and flung her naginata into it. Impaled, the clone continued flying back and into the ground where it exploded as well. The real Orochimaru grinned viciously as he moved in behind Hijiri, pleased that she was finally without her pesky weapon.

She turned to him and blocked his first strike before jumping to her feet and headbutting him. He stumbled back and righted himself in time to dodge a knife hand aimed at his throat. As he saw Hijiri pull the limb back, he noted it was covered in dark green wind. Grimacing, he caught the arm and pulled, forcing her to lose her balance and then lifting her over his head where he then slammed her into the ground.

She coughed, but rolled away from his foot that left a little crater in the earth where her head used to be. Wrenching her arm free from his grip, Hijiri got back to her feet, blocked a knee with her palm, and then lifted the same hand into his chin. Orochimaru's head bounced up, his body lifting off the ground by a mere inch, and Hijiri aimed her free hand at her naginata.


It had been some time since Hiruzen looked at the picture of him and his genin team. These days it always brought him bittersweet memories. There was once a time when he'd thought his three students would lead Konoha into a new age of prosperity. Together they were a force like no other.

He leaned back into his chair with a sigh, letting the memories take him for just a bit. All that he'd hoped for was not to be, unfortunately. Orochimaru became more vile than he could have ever imagined. Tsunade had lost too much too quickly, and he did not have the heart to call her back to her duties. Not while he still lived. Jiraiya had turned out to be the best of them, but even he had been consumed by grief. Too many of his students had met their end, and he almost viewed teaching as a curse. Who wouldn't, if all who you raised up to be great shinobi died?

Hiruzen supposed it was even more of a good thing Minato turned out to be alive. He hoped it eased some of the pain in Jiraiya's heart. Leaning forward again, Hiruzen picked up the frame of himself and his team, and ran a weathered and wrinkled hand along the glass. He stiffened when it cracked.

Right over Orochimaru.


Hijiri's naginata freed itself from the dirt and came spinning toward her at the same moment Orochimaru's feet touched the ground again. A furious sneer upon his face, he aimed his hands at her and unleashed a horde of snakes from his sleeves. Right before the snakes could touch her, Hijiri caught her naginata and spun it, cutting them down by the dozens. Blood splashed against both of their faces as the gore piled up around them.

Orochimaru expelled more serpents, hoping to overwhelm her with sheer numbers and then buy himself a moment to back away. He knew if he stopped now that her blade would definitely reach him.

Orochimaru didn't realize he'd made a mistake until it was far too late.

"Akufu no Shoten!" Hijiri's naginata seemed to become sharper at her words, slicing through his snakes with a gleaming blade before cutting into his stomach from below and then up into his chest. The cut was shallow, but Orochimaru could feel it burning as though it was being cauterized. The shallow cut was the least of his worries, however.

A dark green wind followed the blade, slicing through all of his snakes before lifting him into the air as it left dozens upon dozens of shallow cuts along his arms, legs, and torso. He felt weightless for only a moment before Hijiri spoke again. His eyes refocused, finding her above him, naginata raised.

"Akufu no Kudari." Her blade swung down. It would have speared right through him if he hadn't managed to deflect it with a Kunai despite the sheer pain such a simple action caused him. The blade instead took his arm and Orochimaru had to hold back a scream as the wind that followed throttled him into the dirt below, cutting him up shallowly once again. Orochimaru could do little more than struggle to his knees as he looked up. And the very center of his being grew cold as he saw what was in Hijiri's hands. She almost seemed to just float above him in the air, that same dense, dark, green ball of wind that had eradicated the other part of the forest.

"Futon," Hijiri said, the apple sized ball shot off toward him before exploding outward. There was nothing to shred between himself and the technique this time, but Orochimaru remembered well what it did.

"Akufu no Minagoroshi Maiso-shiki…" the wind howled in his ears as it approached, like the roar of a thousand tortured souls, beckoning him to join them in the underworld. He almost felt as though he could see it, the faces of the dead between the sky blotting wall of dark green wind.

From above, Hijiri watched as her jutsu touched earth. Briefly, she saw a red mist explode out of the center of her technique, but even that too vanished with the microscopic wind blades that made up her jutsu. When she cut the power to her technique, all that was left of where it had touched was a perfectly circular deep hole in the ground.

Orochimaru was dead.

XXX

AN: That's that! And so ends Orochimaru. I had debated having him die this early, but ultimately decided I wanted this fic to have a focus on a different villain that just wouldn't die. Danzo's going to be fulfilling some of the role Orochimaru had in canon. I hope the fight was good. And I hope Hijiri made a good showing as a member of the Akatsuki. I think I'll make a spotlight about the Ill Wind techniques a little later, but I hope they're interesting enough so far. Does anyone have any speculations about them, I wonder? Hope to hear from you guys in the reviews!

The next chapter will drop 03/03/24, but is already up on pat for those who cannot wait. Again, as of today there are still 15 days left in the summons poll. go to pat to vote! it's free.

See you next time!

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Pat: p a t reon dot com/Philocipher

Translations:

Futon: Toryumon – Wind Release: Climbing Wind Dragon

Futon: Byoki Kazegiri – Wind Release: Ill Wind Cutting

Futon: Fuso – Wind Release: Wind Burial

Futon: Akufu no Shoten – Wind Release: Ill Wind Ascension

Futon: Akufu no Kudari – Wind Release: Descent of the Ill Wind

Futon: Akufu no Minagoroshi Maiso-shiki – Wind Release: All Killing Burial Ceremony of the Ill Wind