New Lives

Chapter 1

Zaku lay on his bed, staring at the ceiling, one burning question on his mind. He got up and walked down the hall to Eiji's room, knocked, and peeked in "Eiji?"

Eiji was sitting cross-legged on his bed, reading, "Yes, what is it?"

Zaku plopped onto the bed beside him, "I was thinking... Am I The Devil?"

Eiji looked at the boy in shock, "What!? Of course you're not The Devil!"

"I was just thinking, lots of people worshiped Jashin, I killed him, so does that make me the Devil to them?"

Eiji considered for a moment, "The Invisible Blade could be described as a sort of Devil, to Jashinists anyway, but I guess it would be more appropriate to call him the Anti-Jashin."

"You'd think an Anti-Jashin would be somebody peaceful, you know, not violent like Jashin."

Eiji put his book down, "No one is violent like Jashin, he's the god of War, Death and Evil."

Zaku grabbed Eiji's pillow and curled up around it, "Where did he come from? Jashin, I mean..."

Eiji fell back onto the bed, "Well, the Prophecies of Aku also have a story for his origins. According to legend he was born about three thousand years ago in Assyria to a priestess of Asshur, and allegedly his father was Asshur himself, a violent, evil god in his own right. He had a very... Negative effect on that culture, which became probably the most violent and sadistic in history. He's bloodthirsty, literally, he hungers for blood and violence, he needs it. Anyway, after Assyria fell to the Babylonians, Jashin vanished. Apparently he was killed, but his evil survived in various incarnations through the centuries, influencing all sorts of wars, crusades and acts of genocide. Each Avatar was eventually destroyed by the forces of good, or at least, at times, lesser evil. This one we encountered was his fifteenth Avatar, The Many Hands of Death."

"So, there have been other Invisible Blades?"

"Different names, same purpose. Let's see, The Golden Bow, The Sword of Flames, my personal favorite, other than you, of course, was The Clawed One. He was a Beast-User. How did the book put it? 'And Jashin-Sama fell before a pack of vicious curs'..."

Zaku laughed, For once, history that isn't boring! "So, he'll be back?"

"Not likely, The Prophecies of Aku end with his fifteenth Avatar."

Zaku scratched his head, "Who is this Aku guy?"

"He was the Prophet of Jashin, he set down the words of Jashin to guide his followers to his twisted will, some say he was an Avatar of Jashin himself, the Seventh Avatar, The Scribe."

"So, if he knew he was going to be killed like that, why did he come back?"

"The outcome wasn't a foregone conclusion, remember..."

"Oh, yeah. Why do people worship that thing, anyway?"

"He offers them power, immortality and the opportunity to shed blood without worrying about things like guilt or punishment. That draws the evil like flies. Would you believe Orochimaru himself wanted Eiichiro to help him make a bargain for immortality with Jashin? Jashin didn't want his soul, apparently it was too tainted, even for Jashin's tastes. Then he offered everyone else's souls, but he has no authority to do that, so Eiichiro basically told him to get lost."

"Everyone?"

"Everyone in his employ, yes."

Zaku sat up, and looked down at the pillow he was holding, "All of us, huh?"

Oh crap... Why'd I tell him that... "Well, it doesn't matter now, they both got what they deserved, didn't they?"

"Yeah, I guess they did."

...

This guy's good, and he never betrays his moves. Yep, Sai has the perfect Poker Face. Kidoumaru looked up from the chess board at his opponent, "Have you ever played poker? You'd be great at it."

Sai raised and eyebrow, "Poker. No, I don't believe I have, I never had time or reason for such frivolities in ROOT."

"Frivolities? Games are an important part of life! Fun is an important part of life, we need fun, we need pleasure and joy."

"I was taught to disregard such things. They are obstacles to rational thinking..."

Kidoumaru looked at him with pity, God, this kid doesn't even know what fun is! How could anyone do that to someone else!

"Kidoumaru, You needn't pity me, though I have a strange urge to feel these emotions like everyone else, and to put, as they say, my heart and soul into my art, I am quite content. Because I have no emotions, I have no regret over lacking emotions."

Kidoumaru shook his head, "Then why do you have this desire to feel emotions? Those... People robbed you of your natural birthright as a human being. We're not meant to be emotionless, and your brain knows that, even if your intellect is telling it something else."

Sai frowned, then reached over and moved his Bishop, "An interesting argument, but sadly futile. The centers of my brain which control emotion are stunted from disuse, even if I did manage to break my training, I could only achieve limited emotional capability."

They both turned toward the street at the sound of screaming, and Konohamaru ran by, the back of his pants in flames, an angry Sasuke hot on his heels, "It appears my hypothesis was correct, there is a direct relationship between practical jokes and physical injury..."

Kidoumaru arched his left eyebrow, "Indeed."

...

Konohamaru jumped into a wading pool in a nearby yard, extinguishing his flaming bottom. "Hey, you could have really hurt me!"

Sasuke smiled, "That was my intention, brat." Sasuke laughed, 'You're lucky there are witnesses around, or I would have done much worse! Now stay away from me!"

Sasuke turned and started to stalk off, only to trip over his own shoelaces and fall face first into the dirt...

To Be Continued . . .