Disclaimer: This is strictly a work of fanfiction using characters and elements from both the Naruto world, created by Masashi Kishimoto and the League of Legends world, created by Riot Games. I do not claim to own them, and this story is merely a product of my own imagination, written not for monetary gain, but for my own enjoyment.

There is no worse feeling than helplessness. Nothing worse than the crushing feeling of despair gnawing at your very marrow as you rail against the unfairness of it all, as you've exhausted all your options- when you've gotten so used to desperation that the word has lost its meaning.

Naruto clenched his fist as he mustered up more youki from the demon within him. It no longer resisted, or even acknowledged the blond's effort or existence. Naruto wasn't even sure if the titanic fox was still alive. How long had it been since they had last talked?

Too long. But he had no time for idle conversation. The war was too pressing- their situation too dire. When he was not fighting, he was trying desperately to come up with a new technique that would surely, surely! turn the tides of the battle. And when he was too tired to do this, he slept- a tortured slumber full of the screams of the dead and dying. Were they the ones that he had killed? Or the ones he let die?

But rest he must, if he was to fight on. So he endured this much, in the hope that more would not be added to the cacophony inside his nightmares.

However, that rest was merely a wishful fantasy to him right now- cornered by a relentless enemy, hunting him, baying for his blood and the demon energy that lay within him. An enemy that didn't pause, didn't rest… an enemy as numerous as the stars in the sky, whose number only grew with each passing day.

"DAAAAAMNNNN YOUUUUU!" he howled as he tossed a huge youki-fuelled Rasengan into the white soldiers in front of him.

No time for fancy techniques here. Just the most basic staple of his arsenal, amped up with as much power as he could spare.

It did its job, however and briefly blew a bloody path open to freedom. Naruto darted through the opening, knowing that the white soldiers did not fear, and did not hesitate. The gap in their ranks would not be open for very long, and he was not sure he had the chakra to use on more Rasengans.

He stopped for the briefest of moments on the branch of a tree to catch his breath, but that was the most rest he could spare. He had a long way to go until he reached the Allied Shinobi Headquarters.

He gave a ragged sigh and urged his pain-racked, exhausted body into motion.

"What's the situation?"

Tsunade looked up from the enormous map on the table, an eyebrow raised.

"Not telling," she said, seeing the newcomer, "You look like shit. Go get some rest."

Naruto staggered to the desk and collapsed into one of the hard seats in front of it.

"Just gimme the lowdown, old lady," he half-slurred, the slightest hint of a smile flickering briefly onto his face as he used the familiar nickname, "I need to know how bad it is."

Tsunade glanced back down at the map, crisscrossed with pins and red strings.

"Not good," she said gravely, "We got maybe a week at best before we get overwhelmed."

"Can't we do anything? I tried to reach that outpost you said that had the Iwa ninja, but it was already overrun by the time I got there. I barely escaped with my life."

Tsunade sighed and gruffly murmured, "I feared as much."

Naruto sank his head in his hands, and sent some lightning chakra through his body to keep himself awake.

"How're the civilians holding up?" he asked.

Tsunade shook her head.

"Not well. The evacuation arks are running out of food. This war is dragging on for too long. Madara will win a war of attrition. His soldiers don't need sustenance. If this goes on… we won't be under the spell of his Moon's Eye Plan; we'll be dead instead. I'm not sure that it wouldn't be better to surrender just so the civilians will survive."

Naruto slammed his fist onto the table, dislodging several pins.

"I won't give in to that bastard!" he snarled, eyes turning red, "I refuse! I would rather die than live in a lie! Die a thousand times over!"

Suddenly, Tsunade coughed wetly into a balled fist, and then ran a palm covered in mystical green chakra over her throat.

Naruto's angry expression disappeared immediately, replaced with one of concern.

"What's wrong, granny?" he asked worriedly, "You alright?"

Tsunade waved off his concern.

"I'm fine, brat," she said, although her voice was rather hoarse, "But back to what you were saying… you might prefer oblivion to a life in illusion… but others might not. The majority of this world's inhabitants- the civilians… they're not as strong-willed as you. They would rather live out their false lives in blissful ignorance than to struggle through this war with you."

Naruto gritted his teeth.

"I know," he said shortly, and in that one short phrase, Tsunade heard the first veins of defeat and hopelessness in the voice that until now had seemed so indomitable, bellowing out encouragements and war cries in abundance.

She knew, because that same tone was what she struggled to keep out of her own voice, day after day.

"Cheer up," she said, as brightly as she could, "We're relocating again tomorrow morning, this time to somewhere that might hold our last beacon of hope against Madara."

Naruto raised an eyebrow in disbelief.

"Yeah? What is it? Where are we going this time?"

Tsunade shook her head.

"It's a secret. But we're moving the headquarters tomorrow for sure, so go tell Division Leaders One and Two to meet me here as soon as they can, please. Oh, and get some rest after that, Naruto. You really do look like shit."

"This is your big plan?" asked Naruto, incredulously, "It's just some hollow mountain. What are we gonna do? Hole the entire population in here until Madara gets bored and dies?"

"Mmm…" said Tsunade non-committedly, "Not really."

But just as the final syllable left her mouth, she darted forward and tapped Naruto's forehead, an enormous amount of chakra flooding from her palm into his body. Naruto felt himself bonelessly flopping to the ground as he lost all strength in his muscles. He wasn't sure what Tsunade had done, but he had a feeling it was something to do with his nerves.

Growling to himself, he started to flood his body with lightning-natured chakra, trying to reconnect whatever had been disconnected. He wasn't unduly concerned with doing damage to himself, as he knew that it would naturally fix itself in due course because of his inhuman regeneration and healing- courtesy of both his jinchuuriki status and his Uzumaki heritage.

But what concerned him right now was the farce that was going on around him.

"What are you playing at, Tsunade?" he roared, using her name in his fury, "Why'd you go and do that?"

Tsunade ignored him and gestured to Yamato, who had been standing next to her.

"Do it, Tenzo."

Naruto's growl only intensified as wooden totems grew from the ground and sucked away the youki he had reflexively gathered when he had been attacked.

"You better be joking about this, Tsunade… I can't believe you would just betray me like that."

Tsunade didn't meet his eyes as she got Yamato to lift Naruto's prone form.

"It's for your own good," she said, and it was with said with such broken tenderness, such naked love, that Naruto was taken aback.

It was not the callousness he expected- rather, it was so warm that it touched his heart, hardened from years of constant war. This wasn't a simple betrayal.

So he stayed silent as Yamato followed Tsunade into the next room in the mysterious mountain stronghold, wondering what was going to happen.

Was she going to kill him? If that were the case, he would rather die by her hand than Madara's. Perhaps she had some plan, some elaborate fuuinjutsu to seal away the Kyuubi so that when Naruto died, Madara wouldn't obtain the final piece to completing his Moon's Eye Plan?

No… the Tsunade I know would not allow another of her loved ones to die if she had any say in the matter whatsoever, thought Naruto, Not after Dan and Nawaki. She'd rip open hell's gates with her bare hands if she had to.

So… what is she up to?

Yamato stopped in the middle of the room, or so Naruto presumed, as he could only see the floor from how he was being carried- like a sack of potatoes over the other man's shoulder.

It was a strange floor. It was covered with arcane fuuinjutsu symbols- black symbols that formed esoteric symbols and patterns, laid out and interacting in intricate ways. Naruto was not a stranger to seals- his mentor, Jiraiya, and both his parents were some of the Elemental Nation's most accomplished seal-masters in their day. He had dabbled in the art himself and was no novice by any means of the word, but he to this day could not shake the unsettling feeling that the seals moved when he wasn't looking at them directly. Maybe it was a side-effect of their monochromaticism, but the disturbing sensation of being watched, and of things moving subtly in his peripheral, continued to disturb him every time he laid down his brush.

Ninjutsu was his calling, he decided the first time he could put a name to the uncomfortable feeling that had besieged him whenever he practised his fuuinjutsu.

But for once, the black squiggles and lines was not the strangest feature in the scenery. The floor that he was looking at, although covered in fuuinjutsu for whatever reason, was blue. It was also slightly translucent, as if it was made of murky glass or something.

Such a peculiar place to be taken.

He expressed this sentiment when Yamato set him down in the middle of the circular room, and from what eyes could see, the whole room was like the floor- made of the strange blue material and covered in scrawling fuuinjutsu symbols.

Tsunade looked at him, and Naruto could see the tears in her eyes clearly now.

That's weird, he thought absentmindedly, She's not gonna kill me… I think. Why's she crying, then? Has she given up? Or is she gonna kill me after all?

"Can we get some time alone, Tenzo?" she said, and her voice was steady despite the emotions clear on her face.

Yamato nodded and left swiftly, somehow walking through the wall. Naruto noticed then that the room didn't have any openings (like doors) that would blemish the perfect circularity of the space. Still, the wall which Yamato had walked through looked really solid for an illusion. But then again, Naruto had always sucked at genjutsu, so what did he know?

Tsunade knelt down to get to eye level with Naruto, whose body still stubbornly refused to move.

"Naruto…" she said tenderly, "I'm sorry… but there's no other way-"

"Stop," interrupted Naruto brokenly, "I don't need to hear your excuses… just tell me what you're going to do."

"You're not going to like it."

"I don't care. I trust you… you're the Hokage for a reason. You have to make these decisions, even if they're hard… and I have to accept it, even if I don't want to."

Tsunade let a small smile grace her face.

"You never let that stop you before, brat," she said gruffly, giving him a soft noogie, "… I'm gonna miss you."

"Oh, get to the point," Naruto said, "You're dragging this on for too long, you'll make me tear up like you, you sentimental woman. I don't even know what your brilliant plan is yet, anyway."

Tsunade closed her eyes, and gathered her composure, drawing on her experience as Hokage to prepare herself.

"I'm going to seal you away in this crystal monolith," she said seriously.

"I… see," said Naruto slowly.

"That's it? 'I see?' Is that all you're going to say? I thought you would've protested harder," said Tsunade in surprise.

Naruto's facial muscles twitched.

"Well, it's not like I can do anything about it in this situation," he said petulantly, "And I think… I knew, deep inside, that we weren't going to win at this rate. Madara's army is endless and undying… Madara himself is pretty much invincible. I would've chosen to fight, but you know me and I know you would've factored that in and chosen the best course of action anyway."

Tsunade swallowed.

"Yes… we need to stop him from completing his plan and keep him from obtaining the Kyuubi. The rest of us might be doomed without your help, but at least we won't go obediently into oblivion."

"But why sealing?"

"Because it's the most surefire way of ensuring that Madara will not get the Kyuubi. Killing you or extracting the bijuu will let it reincarnate in a couple of years, and just hiding will only delay the inevitable… and I'm sure you wouldn't want to live the rest of your life out cowering like a rat. However, sealing… keeps it in a state that, unless Madara finds this monolith and unseals you… you'll be forever out of his grasp."

Naruto frowned.

"And what stops him from finding me?"

"Being sealed will keep your chakra in stasis, where it won't leak out. Even the best sensor in the world won't be able to track your chakra, or Kyuubi's. And after we collapse the entrance to this mountain cavern, the ones who know about your location will apply memory seals… meaning that your hiding place will be truly known by no-one."

"You've thought about this a lot, haven't you, granny," said Naruto jokingly, although he couldn't keep the tremor out of his voice.

"Yeah… and Naruto? I had one more reason to seal you away. A selfish, selfish reason."


"I hope… that one day, when I'm gone… and Madara's gone… and all of this war is gone, and people once again repopulate the world, and have forgotten all this mess…you'll wake up, and start a new life in that new world. Because I truly, truly, believe that you are the best and most pure human being I've ever met. And more than, that… I love you, Naruto, and I don't want you to die before me."

Tsunade slid her hand around his nape and pressed his face into her chest. And while normally he would have yelled out "granny tits, eww" or some nonsense to avoid any emotional scenes, the wetness he could feel seeping into his hair and the trembling he could feel in the strong grip that held him against her sealed his lips shut. To his belated surprise, he could also, somehow, feel a stream of moisture coming from his own eyes.

"I love you too… granny," he all but whispered, "Give that bastard Madara hell."

She hummed softly against him before she laid him down, flat, as if he were just about to go to sleep. And in a way, he was going to sleep. For a long time… maybe forever, even.

She stood up, and although Naruto could no longer see her, he could tell she was drying her tears.

Tsunade cleared her throat, and when next she spoke, it was with a steady tone.

"Alright, I'm going to seal it off now," she said, "Sweet dreams. Maybe you'll wake up, maybe not. Goodbye… and godspeed."

"Strange thing to say," Naruto joked, before his voice turned sober, "Good luck with the war… and maybe I'll see you again, in some better place."

"Not too soon, I should hope," Tsunade joked back, before crouching over and planting one last chaste kiss on his forehead, reminding him of better days, when there was no war, and everything was carefree. When he was still a child and not a soldier, or a killer.

She up and left, and before she exited the presumably soundproof crystal chamber, Naruto heard a hacking cough that was hurriedly stifled.

He knew.

He knew from the beginning.

It was one of the reasons why he accepted being sealed away so readily.

Ever since he had taken Kyuubi's youki for his own and started using it regularly, it had seeped into his own chakra pool. And it was poisoning everyone around him.

It was easy to notice. Teammates falling sick… animals and plants dying around his campsite.

Tsunade knew, although she never said anything. She silently approved his application to be allocated to a solo shinobi role. She arranged for his living arrangements to be moved where he would have the least contact with others, and claimed it was for his protection against Madara.

She knew, and soon became the only one who would have regular contact with him. He had thought it would be okay because of her prodigious healing skill and regeneration, but judging by her worsening coughs, this was not the case. He was killing her.

Even if they won the war, Naruto knew he would not be able to live in society ever again. He had thought about the issue at length, when lying in bed at night, unable to sleep, running away from the spectres that haunted his dreams. If, by some miracle, they won the war, he would have to be some kind of hermit, maybe living in the wastes of Suna or the rocky deadlands of Iwa, where his toxic aura would have nothing to eat away. Or maybe, he had considered, he could just kill himself, rid the world of an everpresent potential threat, and allow the Kyuubi to reincarnate and be resealed in someone who wouldn't use its chakra so willingly.

He was still mulling over what-ifs and what-thens when his consciousness drifted away, borne away into oblivion by a shifting wind.

The runes inscribed on his prison glowed ominously, before they, and the walls, gradually faded in luminescence, and cast the room, and its sleeping occupant, into absolute darkness.

During his deep slumber, Naruto was aware that time had passed. When he was not dreaming extraordinary dreams, filled with strange, fantastical creatures and mystical lights, he was somehow vaguely aware of events beyond his knowledge. Massive loss of life, enormous shifting of the land and sea as aeons passed. He could not see what happened, but at the back of his consciousness, he was sure that change had occurred, and it had left him in its wake.

Naruto awoke, groggy. He was physically the same as before he had been sealed, as if he had not slept at all- his eyes were bright and alert, and his senses were awake and working. However, his mind was slow and sluggish, and seemed to refuse to interpret any of the sensory information that had been given to it.

"Where am I?" he asked aloud, but there was no answer.

He quickly stood up and walked over to where the door had been before he had been sealed.

"Granny?" he called out, although, in his heart, he knew she was long gone.

He placed his hand on where the door should have been. It seemed like solid stone to him.

Maybe you had to walk into it to go through, he thought.

So he tried, and got a face-full of crystal for his efforts. Blood leaked from his nose and splattered onto the blue crystal floor, which, along with the walls, he noticed was now devoid of fuuinjutsu markings.

Then, something strange happened. As he was looking at the floor, he saw the blood droplets, dark against the bright crystal, start to move. They shivered, and then, with a sudden swoosh shot up into the air and back into Naruto's still-leaking nose.

"Wha-?" Naruto exclaimed in shock and grabbed at his nose, a little disgusted by whatever had gone up his nostrils.

But, then, to his surprise, he realised that his nose was no longer bleeding. In his scattered reflection in the glassy walls, he could see that even the bloodstains on his face were gone.

"Strange," he murmured as he ran his fingers over his face.

But as he pondered this phenomenon, he was suddenly struck with a thought.

Maybe that wasn't the right place for the door?

After all, the room was totally circular and featureless, so the door might've been slightly to the left, and he had missed it by a fraction.

So, Naruto, being the tactical genius that he was, ran into the crystal walls forty-eight times around the circumference of the room, trying to the exit. Lucky for him, any damage that seemed to be done to him was instantly reverted- presumably due to him being sealed- otherwise his nose would be very crooked after that ordeal.

Needless to say, he didn't succeed in finding an exit.

"Okay, then," he said, "If there's no door, then I'll make a door!"

He quickly formed a Rasengan and slammed it into the wall.

Or at least, he tried.

As soon as the rapidly spinning ball of chakra touched the wall, it fizzled away into nothingness without leaving a mark. Actually, it was more accurate to say the wall absorbed his chakra.

But Naruto was nothing if not stubborn, so he tried a couple more Rasengans, and then even pulled out the big guns like his Rasenshuriken and Planetary Demon Rasengan, just to make sure it wasn't an isolated incident.

It was after he had thrown enough firepower at the wall to level an entire mountain range that he remembered that it was supposed to suppress his chakra and preventing it from leaving the crystal, so of course it would have absorbing properties.

So Naruto sat down and thought about his predicament.

"Oh dear, how am I to get out… Kyuubi, got any ideas?" he asked to no one in particular.

When he got no reply, he wasn't really surprised, as the last time he had spoken to his bijuu was from way before the war even began.

So he directed his question inwards, specifically seeking an answer from the demon that should be within.

Kyuubi? You there?

Still no reply.

Naruto bit his lip. He hadn't really cared for the demon before his sealing, and had for the most part ignored it after he had wrested control of its youki from it. But now, trapped inside this crystal monolith that seemed to be all but invulnerable, he was suddenly hoping that the fox was still there, just for some company on what would otherwise seem to be a horrifyingly lonely existence.

His blood ran cold abruptly as he imagined what it would be like, trapped by himself for all eternity inside the featureless crystal prison.

I'm heading in, Kyuubi, he called, although, once again, there was no answer.

Naruto looked around the dank cavern in dismay. The titanic gates that originally held back the enormous bijuu were cracked and pitted with holes, a memento from the time when Naruto had challenged the demon for use of its youki. But despite this wear and tear, it still held, unyielding, for all the little it was worth.

Because the mountain-sized mass of youki-charged fur behind the seal lay unmoving. Not even the tell-tale heaving that signalled the deep breathing of the fox during its slumber (something Naruto had a couple of times witnessed when he had entered during his younger days) was present.

Naruto cautiously called out its name, and then, when the fur continued to be motionless, yelled it out as loud as he could.

After the echoes had died down, which took a while due to the enormous nature of the room, Naruto was silent, only the sound of dripping water breaking the tense quiet.

It was a long while before Naruto moved. The demon had a long time been a part of him, something to be hated, something that in turn hated him. It was something with power, something that he could use to get stronger, to obtain the strength he needed to protect his precious people. He would gladly rely on its tainted power, allow it to corrupt his core and torture him from within, if it meant his loved ones were safe.

But now, his feelings towards it were complicated. Even if it was a living mass of hatred, it was still something that had conversed with him occasionally, and lent him its power, usually to further its agenda of corruption to its own end. Their communication had ended after Naruto had stolen control of its youki away from it, but he had not thought much on the matter, since he had the considerably more important issue of the war to take care of.

Now that it was gone… he was tentatively… sad? Maybe that wasn't the right word to describe his feelings. There was a definite sense of loss… a splash of relief, a tinge of triumph... and an overwhelming sea of loneliness.

Naruto swallowed and touched a worn cage bar, as thick as any Fire Country oak. His eyes were dry, but his hand trembled all the same. He had been standing in quiet reflection for only a few moments, before something flashed before his eyes, a vivid moving image. He jerked back, but the ring of the dull roar that had accompanied the image was still ringing in his ears.

He turned to hurry out of his mindscape, because the sensations that had bombarded him during that brief contact with the Kyuubi's seal was not limited to just sight and sound.

And whatever the taste that had been in his mouth, it was certainly not beef or chicken. And the feeling of liquid that had run down his chin was no sauce, but blood.

Naruto awoke again. He had lost track of how many times he had awoken like this now. It wasn't that there were so many that he couldn't count them all, but because the length of time that existed between each one was so long. After all, this wasn't a normal slumber that he awoke from, that followed the cycle of night and day.

No, this was the deep sleep of sealing magic.

During the ageless period in which he had been sealed, there were certain lengths of time that Naruto was sure he was awake, and others in which he was asleep, deep in seal-borne stasis. His sense of time was so distorted that he had no idea how long anything was, but he felt as though he was 'awake' or conscious for entire years… where sleep was merely that, mental recuperation and rest. And then, with no warning or sign, he was then 'asleep' for a comparable length of time- again, probably years- where he was as if in a coma, and would not regain consciousness until his next 'awake' period.

Of course, he was not exactly sure about the details of any of this, but it was a very strong gut feeling. There is a certain undercurrent he could feel in his marrow, that told him, with certainty, that change had occurred. The stronger the feeling of change, the more time he knew had passed in his 'asleep' period of being sealed away.

But with no way to see into the outside world, to witness the shift from the life that had been all he had known prior to his sealing, Naruto was forced to confront a life trapped within an inescapable and featureless prison cell bereft of even a warden or fellow inmates for human contact.

He had cursed Tsunade for the first few days of soul-crushing boredom, but it wasn't in his nature to hold a grudge, especially towards the ones he cared for. He soon forgave her and instead tried to find something to do. But he had nothing… nothing except himself… and his chakra.

Training his body was a fruitless endeavour, a fact he soon found out after consecutive days of furious exercise- his body would not accumulate pain or take muscle damage, but would by the same token not gain any mass or become more defined. The seal kept his body the exact same as he day he had entered the crystal room.

So he had only one option left.

He trained his chakra. Remembering the toxic effect the chakra and youki hybrid he had used as energy had on his surrounds, Naruto spent much of his first 'awake' period painstakingly separating the two energy pools and purifying them for safe use.

It may be unbelievable to some that Naruto, Naruto, would be able to spend so much of his time training his chakra… and generally being still, but the power of living in a room with absolutely no additional stimuli was not to be underestimated. It also helped that he would never get stiff or sore from sitting down for long periods of time.

So… that was how he spent his 'awake' periods. Chakra training… and longingly daydreaming about one day when he would be freed from this prison and would once again live.

Luckily for him, chakra was a fascinating substance, and probably the best possible thing he could have been locked up with. At first, he had questioned the validity of training to use chakra if he might never get out and thus never get the opportunity to use it, but he soon discovered the wonder of chakra after he started experimenting.

Simultaneous creation and destruction… healing, burning, illuminating. Dreams and visions- sharpened steel and crawling darkness. Chakra was all of this and more. The more he delved into the power he had underneath his skin, the more he discovered he had to learn. An entire universe opened out in front of him, pouring, swirling, from inside his core.

It was truly amazing, and he could truly see himself devoting his whole life into studying the extraordinary substance- how in all the nine hells had he missed the beauty of the power he wielded during his younger years?!

But throughout all this, despite his fascination with his study of chakra… before he succumbed to each subsequent 'asleep' period, Naruto couldn't help wishing that the next time he woke up, it would be to the sweet scent of fresh, tree-born air in his nostrils. He wished to hear the thundering of rain, and the chirping of songbirds. He wished, although he was never hungry, to sink his teeth into a big, meaty, drumstick, and slurp up a bowl of his favourite ramen.

And, more than anything else, he wished to talk and see another human being.

A red-haired woman leaned back on the barrel she was using as a makeshift chair, stretching out her back, and hearing the satisfying crack of her spine straightening out. She was proud of her breasts, but gods if they didn't hang heavy at times!

She stood up, picked up the items on the table, and waved jauntily at the young blond man behind it.

She put the object in her left hand, her prized tricorne hat, securely on her head, and strode out the door. The other object, a worn piece of parchment that seemed to scream out 'treasure map', was held tight in her fist.