CH1: The Return to the Living
Official Chapter One
Hinata Hyuga opened her bleary eyes to find herself being lowered to the ground by set of vines that seemed to have formed a cocoon around her. Observing her surroundings, she saw hundreds of other cocoons release shinobi to the ground much like herself.
As soon as she felt the cracked earth beneath her feet, she activated the Byakugan to find him. It didn't even take her a second. In an instant, she was able to find his and Sasuke's chakra signatures a couple kilometers away... along with a chakra mass of epic proportions.
With worry in her heart, she rushed to the heart of the battle without a single hint of hesitation. The Hyuga princess weaved through various shinobi all dazed and confused. A few saw her move towards the area of the final battle and followed her.
"Naruto, just wait a little longer. We're all coming to help!"
"Ain't this nostalgic?" Kiba grinned from her side as he was accompanied by Akamaru. "Team 8 is back in action!"
"Kiba! Akamaru!" Hinata smiled brightly.
"You didn't forget about me, did you?"
Shino joined Hinata on her left side while adjusting the goggles he always wore.
"You're all safe." Hinata said with relief.
The duo nodded while Kiba pointed behind them. "And we're not alone either!"
Behind Team 8, the rest of the Konoha 11 weren't too far away from them.
Shikamaru, Choji, Ino, Lee, and Tenten were the literal head of the pack along with the five Kage. Behind their leaders, the remainder of the Allied Shinobi Forces followed not a hair's inch away. There was not a single shinobi who wasn't prepared to sacrifice themselves for the sake of repaying their debt to him.
The man who had stolen her heart, Naruto Uzumaki.
"Everyone's all together again." Hinata murmured in awe.
"Heh, we can't let Naruto hog all the glory forever!" Kiba smirked while Akamaru barked in agreement.
Just as Hinata made to reply, an earth-shattering and ear-deafening explosion rocked the earth from the area they were heading to. The gale force winds created launched a large amount of shinobi back while the stronger ones were able to stand their ground. Hinata covered her eyes with her arm while her hair flew back wildly. Through the gap in her arm, she looked forward only to confirm her biggest fears.
The chakra signatures belonging to Naruto Uzumaki and Sasuke Uchiha were gone.
An Unknown Space
Darkness. The encompassing black void wrapped around him like a cocoon. He couldn't see anything. He couldn't hear anything, and above all else he could not feel anything. His limbs were no where to be seen while there was no way to look around without his neck.
Despite being lost in an unknown space, Naruto Uzumaki could only feel a great sense of accomplishment and pride.
Naruto and his teammate Sasuke Uchiha had beaten Kaguya and sealed her away forever along with Black Zetsu. It was a grueling battle, one that took hours with many close scrapes with death.
Kaguya, the progenitor of Chakra, was an enemy like no other. The goddess was able to open pathways to different dimensions, and almost succeeded in trapping Sasuke forever. If he was a honest, the duo would have lost if it weren't for the timely actions of Kakashi and Sakura.
Yet despite existing as a being of near endless power, Kaguya still had an even greater ability. The All Killing Ash Bones. A mere scratch was more than enough to completely destroy a person's body on a molecular level. Naruto knew what the ability was capable of firsthand. Obito Uchiha only smiled as his body fell to ash after he had saved both Naruto and Sasuke's lives.
Thanks to the former Konoha shinobi's sacrifice, the team was able to seal away Kaguya for good. After the Uzumaki and Uchiha sealed away Kaguya, the Juubi fell apart soon after. That was the last thing Naruto saw before there was a flash of light and then darkness.
Naruto felt nothing before his vision slowly returned as he blearily blinked his eyes. "Where am I?" Naruto wondered looking around. "Am I dead? the blonde shinobi asked himself.
"Not completely." an elderly voice replied.
Naruto turned around to see the legendary creator of Ninshuu, the Rikudo Sennin Hagoromo Otsutski. The old sage wore a white robe with 9 black magatama surrounding his collar and back. He sat on 9 Truth seeking balls and held a staff across his lap.
Hagoromo wore a small smile upon his weary visage as he watched the blonde youth. The jinchuuriki of the Kyuubi took the opportunity to observe his surroundings and was surprised that they were now standing on water, or in the sage's case floating above water.
Oddly enough, the scenery reminded him of when he had first met Son Goku after the gorilla ate him. Of course he was able to make the gorilla vomit him out, but that was a new experience in itself. Ah, good times.
A reminiscent smile appeared on his face as he recollected all the horrible and disgusting events he had been subjected to in his lifetime. "My life really has not been great. But still..."
He wouldn't have traded those experiences for anything else in the world. His first mission C to A rank mission where he ran into Haku and Zabuza, his rivalry with Sasuke, his training with Jiraiya, his meeting with Nagato and the Akatsuki, they were all precious experiences that he wouldn't trade for anything.
"You have beaten the Juubi, sealed away my mother, and have saved the world. You are truly worthy of the title, Child of Prophecy." Hagoromo spoke in a grandfatherly manner.
Disrupted from his inner musings to hear the sage's congratulations, Naruto could not prevent the smile that made its way across his face. "It was nothing I couldn't handle!". The shinobi gave the sage a thumbs-up as well as his signature grin.
The sage's disposition fell at that statement and he sighed knowing what he had to do next.
"Naruto during your last battle... the explosion of chakra killed you and Sasuke." Hagoromo solemnly said.
Like he had anticipated, Naruto's expression turned ghastly white while shock had yet to fully hit him.
For the blond jinchuriki, it was like the old sage had cast a spell. Just as he had regained his senses, it was as if they were mercilessly ripped away once more.
The sage waited for the information to sink in while Naruto's heart sunk upon hearing his words. The blonde shinobi's face contained a mix of emotions anger, sadness, but a strange sense of calm. Strangely, he couldn't find it in himself to scream in anger or curse the world. All he felt was acceptance as if subconsciously he knew that he couldn't change his situation this time no matter what. Naruto's entire posture seemed to drop as a mirthless smile replaced his previous grinning one.
"So that's it huh? I'm really dead? What happened after the battle?" Naruto weakly asked.
"After you survived the battle, your former teacher and fellow pupil both survived the blast. The people who were imprisoned by the Mugen Tsukuyomi have all been freed. You saved them, Naruto." Naruto's mood slightly improved upon hearing the good news, but remained in despondent silence.
"And... what about Sasuke?"
The silence between Hagoromo and Naruto was palpable. It existed as an invisible fog between the ancestor and descendant. The first son of Kaguya cleared his throat before finally answering.
"Sasuke Uchiha has chosen to move forward."
Naruto's blue eyes slowly widened in disbelief. "Sasuke... gave up?"
Hagoromo nodded before speaking once more. "He was the last of his clan and he informed me that he no longer possessed any ties to the Elemental Nations with you dead as well."
Naruto punched the watery surface which was surprisingly more solid than it looked. A mirthless smile spread across his lips as he stared into his own reflection. He looked completely worn, the tiredness of his gaze a reminder of how brutal his final battle had been. His clothes that Jiraiya bought him were in tatters. His jacket was practically torn in half, his pants barely held on, and a mesh undershirt was his last line of defense.
"That bastard's always going ahead and doing what he wants. Sakura's probably going to be pissed." he chuckled with an air of melancholy.
"There's a reason why you're still here." the sage continued. The elder's voice held a tone of hope to it as Naruto's gaze looked upwards to meet his own. "I wanted to offer you another chance at life in a new world considering your current one was spent fixing the mistakes of an old fool."
Naruto was surprised by the offer. "A new... life?" he tentatively asked.
The Sage nodded and tapped the bottom of his staff on the water's surface. The ripples created altered the endless bottom into a live image of a vast land. Towns, mountains, forests, numerous objects were shown. It was as if Hagoromo had used Gaara's Sand Eye Jutsu to peer into an entirely different world.
"This place is known as Earthland. It is a world similar to our own except with a difference. Chakra does not exist but standing in its place is Magic."
"Magic like those parlor tricks in the Elemental Nations?"
"No, not like that kind of magic." Hagoromo amusedly chortled. "The magic the people of this world use allows them to accomplish feats similar to Ninjutsu. Manipulating the elements, creating Runes, or even transformations. The possibilities are endless over there as they are here."
Naruto was left in silent awe. Not only was he being granted a once in a lifetime opportunity, but a chance to actually live his life. But...
"Old man, I... I don't know if I should go. It's just—"
"What are you waiting for?"
Naruto's eyes widened upon hearing a new voice while Hagoromo chuckled knowingly.
"Don't worry about us." a distinctly familiar and female voice added.
"Those voices... no way..."
Naruto slowly turned around, hoping with all his might that he hadn't hallucinated those voices. Turning to look behind him, Naruto's hopeful gaze met two different pairs that he had only gotten to see on very rare occasions.
Appearing in a blue, long-sleeved shirt and a pair of black pants, Minato Namikaze looked the same as ever with his trademark blue eyes and yellow hair. Standing by his side, his wife Kushina Uzumaki wore the same green dress that Naruto first met her in as the bright smile adorning her features could put the stars to shame in terms of radiance.
Standing both proud and elated, the two forms of Minato and Kushina approached and embraced their precious son. For the first time in 17 years, the Uzumaki family was reunited.
Naruto could feel them. Their scent, their warmth, it was everything that he had dreamed of growing up alone.
"Happy birthday, Naruto." his parents congratulated through tearful eyes.
"The hell, you're gonna make me cry too." Naruto sniffed. His arms pulled his parents even closer not wanting to let go for even a moment. "I made sure to eat a lot every day. I made sure to bathe every day like you asked."
Warm tears began to sting the corners of his eyes while he struggled to keep his voice together.
"I-I slept a lot too and I made friends. I had a little trouble but..."
"Shhh... it's okay, Naruto. We're both proud of you." Kushina hushed gently stroking Naruto's hair. Her vision was blurred by the tears that were already falling, but she didn't care. Kushina simply continued her maternal ministrations as held her baby boy close.
"You truly are a kind child." Minato softly smiled. "It's okay to be selfish, Naruto. You've spent too many years of your life worrying about the well being of others, so it's time you worry about your own."
"But you guys—"
"We'll be waiting for you with open arms only after you've lived the life we couldn't give you." Kushina gently spoke soothing her son.
The Fourth Hokage and his wife released their son who wiped away his tears with the sleeve of his jacket. Hints of redness trailed along the edges of his eyes but the smile he sported was as bright as his mother's and the confidence in his gaze mirrored that of his father's.
"I guess I'm not ready to move on yet, old man Hagoromo." Naruto said with a wry laugh. "I want another chance and this time I'll make sure to live each day the way I want to."
Hagoromo smiled and nodded approvingly.
The whiskered shinobi turned to meet his parents' eyes once more as both father and mother held onto one of his hands.
Before he could ask what they were doing, a scroll appeared out of thin air before it was grabbed by Minato. The former Hokage of the Leaf created a seal on his son's wrist as the scroll he was holding disappeared with its creation. The black lettering of the seal disappeared without a trace leaving Naruto utterly confused as to what just transpired.
"Those were the Fuinjutsu I was able to master in my lifetime. Hopefully you'll be able to learn from them before creating sealing jutsu of your own." Minato chuckled with slight grin.
From his mother's hands, Naruto watched as chains of gold with a white glow emerged from Kushina's palms before entering his own. While he half-expected it to be a painful process, the chains entered without a hitch before he watched the final link disappear into his body.
"The Uzumaki were known for three things." Kushina began with a mischievous grin. "The first was their red hair, the second was their longevity, and the third was their Fuinjutsu. There aren't many people who know about the fourth trait, the Adamantium Sealing Chains. Unfortunately I can't pass down my hair color to you, but the least I can do is pass on our clan's renowned jutsu."
Naruto was left stunned. He felt a great deal of gratitude, but he also felt undeserving.
"Is this really okay?" he chuckled jokingly. "At this rate I'll be a spoiled brat."
"And you'll always be our spoiled brat." Kushina giggled placing her hand on his cheek. "Listen to your father, Naruto. Be a little more selfish with your choices. Ah! But don't be too selfish now. I don't want my son turning into a rotten apple, y'know?"
Kushina continued to rattle off a mental checklist of reminders and do's-and-don'ts, yet with each rule spoken her frame began to tremble and her voice began to fade. An arm belonging to her husband wrapped over her shoulder, soothingly stroking her back as Minato tried his best to ease his wife's heartache.
Naruto wiped his eyes and laughed, giving his mother one last hug as he felt her tears of pride wet his cheek while her trembling began to quell.
"I love you Mom. I'll be fine on my own, okay? I promise."
"You better." Kushina managed to whisper as she struggled to contain her sobs while holding on to Naruto for dear life. Her baby had grown up so much in the time she last saw him, and it broke her heart to know she would not be able to see him again for a long time. Gradually loosening her hold, she felt the warmth emanating from her son fade as he let go to have one last exchange with his father.
Clasping the hand that was hanging by her side, Kushina interlocked her fingers with Minato surprising him. "Sorry, it looks like I didn't give you much time to talk with Naruto again, huh?"
Minato simply smiled and shook his head, instead choosing to hold on to Kushina's hand tighter. Facing Naruto's steady gaze, Minato grabbed a hold of Naruto's shoulder, the strength in his grip and firmness of his expression an indication of how proud he was.
"Naruto, my advice as your father is mostly the same as your overprotective mother." Minato spoke with a fatherly chuckle. "Just make sure to find someone as amazing as her, okay?"
Naruto laughed mirthfully, wiping the stray wetness stinging the edges of his eyes before nodding much to his mother's embarrassment. "I will Dad, thanks."
Turning to the last occupant of the room who had been quiet out of respect, Naruto, features brimming with conviction once more, faced the Sage of Six Paths with an expression mimicking that of his past reincarnation.
"If that's all, I think I'm ready, old man."
An amused chuckle escaped the elderly sage as he raised a single hand indicating he wasn't done. "I apologize for the delay Naruto, but there is one more who would like to speak with you."
"One more?" Naruto mentally repeated. "Who else is there?"
As his way of answering, Hagoromo tapped his staff onto the watery surface as one massive being materialized out of a golden light. His predatory eyes glowed with the deepest crimson red imaginable while nine flowing tails swished in the air behind him. Although the being had the form of a kitsune, he had the upper body shape of a human complete with five dangerously clawed fingers on each hand.
Although the last time the Uzumaki saw the creature wasn't too long ago, the first son of the Sage, Kurama, had managed to double his size as he completely towered over his former jailor.
Seeing as it was finally his turn, the strongest of the nine biju gave a vulpine smirk towards his partner.
"Y'know, I'm a little offended that you didn't ask if I was okay, Naruto."
"I shouldn't have to worry because don't you reincarnate even if you die?"
"Details, details." the fox carelessly shrugged.
Naruto lightly chuckled to himself. It was quite nostalgic being able to talk with Kurama again. Back then, the large fox was completely hell bent on taking over his body. If someone had told his younger self three years ago that he would befriend the giant fox, he would've laughed in their face before giving them the bird. He couldn't help but smile remembering his journey through life with the chakra incarnate by his side. Their tales and adventures would make quite the story if it was written.
"Hey Kurama..." he quietly greeted. "I guess this is goodbye, huh?"
The Kyuubi blinked doing a double take. "I'm coming with you."
This time it was Naruto's turn to blink. "What?"
The Bijuu simply smirked displaying each razor sharp canine in his mouth.
"After all, someone has to keep you out of trouble. I don't want my partner dying because he didn't have me with him."
"What are you talking about?! I can handle myself just fine." Naruto argued as he stomped to confront his partner.
"Did you forget who decided to graciously help you when Obito had seven Biju on his side?" Kurama boasted daring Naruto to argue back.
"Graciously?! It was either me, him, or the end of the world! You only had one option!"
Naruto and Kurama both growled at one another, Naruto's forehead pressed against Kurama's snout as the pair were mere seconds away from brawling. Their spat was interrupted by the sound of Kushina's sweet-sounding laughter as well as Minato's concealed chuckles.
The pair looked towards one another before redirecting their gaze back to the pair of laughing parents.
"What's so funny/What's so funny?!" they said in unison.
"It's just that you two make an adorable team." Kushina proudly grinned. "Please take care of my son, Kurama. I know he can be quite the troublemaker."
Kurama chuckled knowingly while ignoring Naruto's indignant cries of denial. "I'll make sure to."
The nine-tailed chakra beast turned his gaze towards Minato with an expectant stare. "Is there anything you'd like to add?"
The Fourth Hokage simply shook his head with a small smile. "Be safe you two. The both of you."
With their goodbyes finished, Hagoromo had already finished the necessary preparations as a large Seal formula appeared beneath Naruto and Kurama while Minato and Kushina took a few steps back.
"Good luck, Naruto. May you find happiness in your new life." the sage spoke with reverent pride.
As the light from the seal gradually enveloped him, Naruto looked to his parents one last time to see his father's arm wrapped over his mother's shoulder as they each waved from where they stood.
A large ringing sound filled the air to the point that Naruto could no longer hear anything. Although he couldn't use his ears, Naruto's eyes were still able to make out his parents' final words to him.
"Thank you for allowing us to be your parents, Naruto."
In a flash of light Naruto and Kurama were gone. As soon as they disappeared, Minato and Kushina nodded to one another before waving Hagoromo goodbye as they left soon after.
Hagoromo wearily sighed to himself after having to witness a rather heavy-hearted reunion. Nevertheless, he spoke out to the empty void around him.
"As you can see, he's made his decision. Now the question is, what do you intend to do knowing the choice he has made?"
The only response Hagoromo received was silence. Heh. Coming from him, it was a rather common answer.
In a forest somewhere in Fiore
Naruto woke up under a tree in a verdant forest just as a droplet of rain fell onto his nose. His eyes blearily opened themselves to reveal the wilderness that encompassed him. The weather was quite chilly while the rain didn't help in terms of warmth. He assumed that night had already fell but it was hard to tell with the vast sea of storm clouds that hid the sky and rained upon the earth.
The shinobi looked down at his clothing and was surprised to see a black cloak with a red outline on the connecting center and edges of the garment. It was highly reminiscent to the formal Akatsuki's uniform minus the red clouds. Underneath the cloak was a new red jacket like the one he had received from Jiraiya on his training trip. His pants and signature sandals remained the same from the ones he previously owned with the only difference being that they were new. Tentatively touching his forehead, Naruto found that he had still kept his former Leaf headband.
So many thoughts flooded his head at the same time. What would he do now? Just what kind of things awaited him in this new world? Deciding to gather his bearings first, Naruto sat up and leaned his back against a tree.
The first thing he needed to do was check his chakra reserves. Closing his eyes in concentration, he felt himself connect to the boundless ocean of chakra that belonged to Kurama and himself.
It looked like the fox hadn't fully recovered from the war since his snores were heard loud and clear. Then again, he had no idea what kind of toll inter-dimensional travel would have on the beast, so he wisely decided let him rest.
Ignoring the Kyuubi's steadily recovering chakra, he finally found his own pitiably low reserves. It looked like he had't fully recovered either after going toe to toe with the goddess of his old world.
Sighing to himself, it looked like he wouldn't be using chakra anytime soon.
"I wonder where he sent me anyway?" Naruto wondered to himself as he sat up. The heavy splats of rain hitting the ground filled the entire forest with nature's peaceful melancholy.
His moment of relaxation was cut short by a loud bestial roar that shook the forest in its entirety. Wildlife scattered as they ran away from the source of the roar while an expression of wariness appeared on Naruto's face. Whatever that was, it definitely didn't sound friendly.
Without a single moment of hesitation, the shinobi was up on his feet and bolted full speed towards the unknown.
Little did he know that his presence would drastically change this new world. For better or worse, Naruto Uzumaki was going to shake the very foundations of Earthland's core.
The hero of the Fourth Great Shinobi war leaped from tree to tree much like his previous life in Konoha. If there were any humans nearby, they would only see a barely visible blur of blonde hair flying past them in an instant. Following the source of the tremors while keeping an eye for toppled trees, Naruto found the source.
As Naruto arrived to the scene, he saw a giant beast looming over a young girl white-haired girl who looked around his age.
He watched as the girl remained stock still, refusing to move out of the monster's warpath. With one arm, she cradled her other which in all likelihood seemed broken. From the distance, Naruto was able to make out two dull eyes that looked all too familiar. They were the eyes of someone who had just lost the will to live.
Mirajane Strauss was a teenager with white-hair tied in a pony tail with a purple bow and radiant blue-eyes similar to his own. She donned a dark, skimpy sleeveless shirt adorned with some light curved motifs on the chest, a short skirt held up by a studded belt with a demonic-looking buckle and thigh-high boots with stiletto heels, each bearing a skull adorned by a flower on their upper front.
Her appearance didn't really matter at the moment.
For the first time in the entirety of her life, Mirajane Strauss, S-Class mage of Fairy Tail, felt numb. The pain that she felt from having the bones in arm broken no longer seemed to matter. The scrapes that decorated her legs didn't sting. She could no longer feel the freezing rain that beat down on her or hear the earth-shattering stomps of the Beast in front of her as it drew closer and closer.
She wondered to herself just how the mission went so wrong. Her brother's body had been taken over by the beast after he had tried to Take-over the King of Beasts. Elfman had been feeling jealous that he couldn't pull off a full-body takeover like his sisters and had resorted to trying to subjugate a monster out of his league. By the time she had realized what had occurred, it was too late. With its revitalized body, the beast broke her arm tearing apart the muscles in it like wet tissue paper.
Like the appearance that she prided herself on, her broken arm didn't matter.
Lisanna Strauss was a short, petite girl and wore a short, dark red dress with a white collar and bow. Up on her arms above her elbows, she wore gold rings with a pale pink fabric flowing down from them. She was bright young girl, a wizard of Fairy Tail, and above all else, she was Mirajane's dear sister.
The youngest Strauss sibling had returned to report her status. She had evacuated the townspeople only to find her sister injured and her brother no where to found. She had run to her sister's side and asked where their beloved brother was only to learn the harsh truth. Elfman's envy had led him to a use full body takeover resulting in the total loss of his sanity.
Although this would normally cause panic for most, Lisanna had turned around and calmly approached the beast. Seeing the small morsel stand in front of it, the beast had regarded the young girl in front of it with a dangerous silence.
"Lisanna get away from there!"
The words Mirajane had cried reverberated within the confines of her mind, constantly playing on an endless loop. The eldest sibling had tried with all her might to muster the strength to stand, but only succeeded in falling once more.
She was forced to watch as Lisanna was mercilessly battered away like a fly.
She was forced to watch as her gentle frame brutally bounced across the rocky earth before skidding to a stop.
Even though she moved her broken body to her sister's side by sheer will, she could only watch as her sister disappeared into nothing within her arms. She no longer possessed the will to move as the loss of her sister crushed her soul beneath its weight.
Even as the beast that was her brother loomed over her with its hand raised in a similar fashion, she couldn't care less about her life.
She waited for the final blow to come. The blow that would in all likelihood shatter the remaining bones in her body before putting her through an even worse death than her sister.
That blow would never come.
Out of no where, a blonde teenager who looked to be around her age appeared right in front of Elfman before tackling her to the ground. The Beast's hand barely missed the two of them as the resulting force blew apart a set of trees a couple meters away.
She felt the stranger pick her up and carry her away after throwing her body over his shoulders while carefully making sure not to aggravate her broken arm.
With her current mental state, she never registered just how quickly the man managed to carry her safely to the tree line.
He set Mirajane down carefully against the trunk of a tree.
"Hey, are you okay? Stay with me! Where does it hurt?"
His voice was deep and comforting, but she didn't even bother to meet his gaze. Her dull, broken eyes remained transfixed on the wet earth.
"Why did you save me..." she quietly murmured.
"I'm gonna get you to a doctor. Just hold on!" Naruto said unable to hear her murmurs.
As Naruto made to inspect her hand, he was left shocked as Mirajane slapped away his hand with her good arm while fixing one of the most soul-crushed glares on his person.
"Why didn't you just let me die?!"
Naruto was left momentarily taken aback by the estranged white-haired girl's outburst before he returned the glare with full force. "Because I won't let a defenseless girl with a broken arm get killed because of her own inability to move. This is usually the part where people say thank you."
"Thank you...?" Mirajane coldly repeated. "Thank you for what?! Thank you for saving me from my brother who's lost his mind?! Or maybe I should thank you for not being able to save my sister when he killed her!"
It was unfair. Deep down she knew it was unfair to accuse someone she had never met of being unable to save Lisanna, but she didn't care at the moment. She had just lost one of the brightest lights in her life that kept her alive. One of the few remaining buoys that kept her from sinking beneath the harsh weight of reality.
Naruto's eyes widened finally putting the pieces together. The reason her eyes were like that. His two cerulean orbs narrowed and returned towards the Beast that was currently looking for them uprooting trees and destroying boulders in the process.
Making sure Mirajane wasn't in a position to hurt herself, he exited their hiding spot with his face contorted into an expression of solemn rage. Even now the beast hadn't managed to locate them.
Well, he was about to find out.
The Beast's glowing purple eyes found their way onto Naruto. A deafening roar shook the earth as he stepped closer and closer to his newfound prey.
Despite having a stature nearly 20 times smaller, there was not a single trace of fear to be found in Naruto's eyes. No, there was only fury. The frigid rain relentlessly poured down on him soaking his hair as dozens of drops ran down his face, but he didn't even notice them due to the inner heat that seethed from his chest.
"Aren't you supposed to be her brother?" he calmly questioned gesturing to Mirajane's visible body.
The Beast didn't deign to reply as he continued to walk forward with murderous intent radiating off of him in waves.
"So it looks like you won't ever remember what happened here. Fine then..."
Although he knew Kurama was recovering, Naruto only hoped the fox would forgive him for borrowing a bit of his chakra. Focusing the flow towards his arm, Naruto channeled the unpurified, raw chakra of the Kyuubi around his right arm. A red, bubbling cloak surrounded the limb from the forearm to his fist before the skin steadily began to peel away revealing a black and red coating beneath.
At the very moment Elfman threw a fist intending to crush the blond, Naruto vanished only to reappear over the Beast's head.
"I'll make sure to get a proper explanation from you after this is over."
Using all his might, Naruto punched the back of the Beast's head. The blow had so much force it nearly broke the sound barrier as it propelled the Beast's body straight into the ground burying him nearly 10 feet deep. A spider web of cracks emanated from the focal point spreading across the ground.
With a single blow, the Beast was completely put down as Naruto safely landed behind it. The monster's body glowed before slowly reverting back into a human with bright, white hair and tanned skin.
Releasing a breath of air, Naruto willed the chakra around his arm to recede leaving slightly burnt skin that had already begun to repair itself.
Walking over to the crater, Naruto grabbed one of Elfman's arms with his good hand before yanking his body out of the ground. The shinobi dragged the unconscious and shirtless teen with him back into the tree line where he found Mirajane who didn't even register his return.
The girl's knees were tucked against her chest as she pulled them close with her arms.
Naruto set Elfman against a different tree across from her before touching her shoulder to get her attention. As soon as he had touched her shoulder, he immediately pulled away.
She was cold. Frighteningly so.
Taking off his cloak, he wrapped it over Mirajane and sat beside her before pulling her close. She finally acknowledged his presence before weakly attempting to pull away to no avail.
"Let go of me..." she quietly murmured.
"You're wet and cold. The last thing you need is a fever that you won't be able to fight off with your current state of mind and I'd rather you not die of hypothermia either."
Despite expecting her to continue resisting, Naruto was left surprised when he felt the girl relax and stop moving.
The shinobi felt a distinct wetness on his chest that wasn't from the rain. It was warm.
Looking down, he saw a steady stream of tears flow down Mirajane's cheeks as she cradled herself within her own arms. "Lisanna... I couldn't save you... Lisanna I'm so sorry... "
Mirajane continued to sob into his chest while continuously calling out for Lisanna who Naruto assumed was her late sister. There was nothing else that he could offer her right now. The only thing he could offer was a place to grieve.
He would end up sitting there through the rest of the night as Mirajane cried herself to sleep.
The Next Morning
This feeling was quite nostalgic. Naruto had not ridden on a train since his mission in the Land of Snow where he saved Koyuki, the film princess and political daimyo. Unfortunately, there wasn't a single chance that he would be able to enjoy it at the moment.
His eyes moved from the rolling landscape to the two sleeping siblings in front of him.
After the rain finally stopped, Naruto had recovered enough chakra to create clones that could carry the two sleeping siblings back to town. When a passerby saw him carrying the two back into town, he pointed out to the shinobi that they were both Fairy Tail guild mages renown as the Takeover Trio's Mirajane and Elfman Strauss.
Mages, from what Naruto could infer, were the replacement for shinobi in this world and Mirajane's team had accepted a job for their guild to eliminate the monster terrorizing the town.
Guilds, a congregation of mages that accepted various types of jobs for cash payment. The system was similar to that of the Hidden Villages but no where near as militarized. The whiskered jinchuriki was able to glean this bit of information from the same passerby after asking what guilds were before receiving a strange stare.
After finding the town's city hall, Naruto was able to convince the town's mayor that he was an ally of the Strauss siblings who was going to take them back to their "guild" for medical attention. Thankfully, the location and directions to Magnolia Town's Fairy Tail came up in the conversation and so the reward money was passed on to him.
He didn't intend to rob the two siblings of their money after what they had been through, but he knew he needed a bit of money if he were going to bring them aboard the train.
To be honest, he had no idea if either of them would even accept the reward money after what transpired the previous night.
These events then led to their current situation.
Naruto's thoughts were brought to a halt as Mirajane slowly began to stir. Heavy, black bags beneath her eyes showed just how weary she felt as her vision finally returned. Her clothes were ragged exposing even more of her body than it did before.
Naruto could practically hear Jiraiya's tempting him to look down.
"Good morning." Naruto plainly stated as his gaze returned to the window for various reasons. Like those mountains. Yep those were a nice pair of mountains.
Mirajane slowly looked around to study her surroundings. "Where... where are we?" she confusedly murmured.
"We're on a train heading back to Magnolia Town. You two are part of a guild named Fairy Tail, right?"
At the aforementioned name of her guild, Mirajane's eyes snapped open as she looked around the cabin for her sister, desperately hoping that last night was a nightmare and nothing else.
"There's no one else here besides us three." Naruto softly spoke.
"So then... you really did save me last night." Mirajane said choking back a sob.
If he was here, then that meant Lisanna really was...
"I'm sorry." the shinobi gently murmured.
Mirajane's eyes slightly widened in confusion. What was he apologizing for? Her expression lit up as the accusations she made the night before popped into her mind. She lowered her head ashamed and humiliated.
"No, I'm sorry... I-I wasn't thinking straight and... I blamed you for my mistakes."
The ivory haired girl wiped the corners of her eyes with her thumb as she settled her gaze on the boy in front of her. He looked to be around her age while she observed his rather distinct traits. His vibrant eyes were cerulean blue and closely matched her own in terms of color. His striking blond hair was one of the brightest she had seen that could only be compared to the grandson of Makarov Dreyar.
Finally letting her curiosity get the better of her, Mirajane decided the anonymity had gone on long enough. "Who are you?" she warily asked.
Seeing that he was the one being addressed, Naruto ceased his sightseeing to focus on his inquisitor. "My name's Naruto. Naruto Uzumaki. I asked about you two around town while you guys were asleep. You're Mirajane, right?"
The girl in question silently nodded.
"Can you tell me what happened last night?"
At that very moment, Elfman began to stir as he groaned before opening his eyes. The big man was currently wearing a shirt donated by one of the townspeople to replace his destroyed one as a thank you for defeating the Beast."Big sis? What happened? Why are we back on the train?"
Naruto's expression hardened as his hard gaze stayed fixed on Elfman who had yet to notice him.
As Elfman looked around for one particular person, he finally asked the question about the one person Naruto wanted to learn about.
"Big sis? Where's Lisanna?"
Mirajane winced hearing her sister's name. Her hands balled themselves into tight fists as they rested on her lap. She lowered her gaze onto her hands as she tried to keep her voice together.
"Lisanna..." Mirajane swallowed hard. "Lisanna is dead, Elfman."
There was nothing but silence.
Elfman's expression said it all. Spread across his face was the reflection of utter disbelief and growing desperation.
"Hey, Sis that's not funny. Where's Lisanna? Come on, she's hiding around somewhere isn't she?"
"Elfman..." Mirajane began. She held onto her broken arm that had been wrapped in a makeshift sling. It most likely came from Naruto she surmised. The S-Class mage bit the corner of her lip, trying to say with all her might the words that wouldn't come. "You killed Lisanna. You lost control of the Full Body Takeover and you killed her."
Elfman's lips slowly quivered while the corners of his eyes watered. "No... you're lying... that can't be true!"
Not seeing Mirajane deny his claims, Elfman's heart sunk. His large shaky arms slowly rose to hold his head as the tears began to fall. "No... I couldn't have... All I wanted was to use a Full Takeover like you two.. I didn't mean for this to happen..." he choked.
It didn't even last a second. Elfman suddenly found himself being hoisted up by the collar of his shirt as Naruto slammed his back against the cabin's walls.
"Are you kidding me...?" the shinobi lowly muttered.
"W-Who are you?" Elfman asked with wide eyes finally noticing Naruto's presence.
"You endangered the lives of your sisters and killed one, but for what?! Out of jealousy?!"
From despair to fury, Elfman's eyes changed as a burning rage flared brightly in his eyes. "Who the hell are you to mention my sisters?"
"Naruto, please stop!" Mirajane jumped out of her seat and tried to remove Naruto's arm from Elfman but it was to no avail. The shinobi's arm was NOT going to be moving any time soon. The eldest sister knew what he was going to say, but she couldn't stop him. If there was one thing she wanted to do as an older sister, it was to at least spare her last sibling the pain of knowing how close he almost came to the point of no return.
"Who am I?" Naruto repeated incredulously ignoring Mirajane's cries for him to stop. Pulling Elfman's shirt before slamming him back into the wall, Naruto's voice rose even louder than the two siblings combined. "I'm the one who stopped you from killing Mirajane too! She would've been dead if I didn't get there when I did!"
Like a wisp in a hurricane, the inferno in Elfman's eyes was doused and extinguished in an instant, leaving only behind an expression of despair. Little by little, his gaze finally fell on his oldest sister who looked away.
"I... I almost killed you too?"
Mira gingerly nodded as her eyes started to tear up once more.
Naruto released his hold on Elfman causing him to fall to the ground. The large mage collapsed to his knees cradling his head within his hands. Slowly and progressively, the large man began to sob uncontrollably. His frame shook with grief while his cries of anguish filled the cabin. Mirajane could only watch remorsefully as the image her brother had tried to build fell to pieces.
Looking on, she watched as Naruto's face softened as he sat back down to watch the window. His face no longer reflecting anger, but self-deprecation.
Magnolia Town, Fairy Tail Guildhall
Not a single word was spoken for the remainder of the trip. As they traversed the streets, the beat up bodies of Mirajane and Elfman drew the stares of many Magnolia residents. For those who knew them more closely, the silent question as to where their youngest sibling remained kept to themselves.
After being urged to regain his bearings at the soothing words of his sister, Elfman had finally managed to climb back to his feet, and with heavy heart, carry himself back to the guild.
Mirajane had done her best to compose herself, but whether she would be able to hold it while reporting the incident was a different story.
For all the terrible experiences that he had gone through, the loss of a sibling was something that Naruto could never understand. The closest thing he ever had to a brother was his bond with Sasuke, yet like the Uchiha said he had no idea what it was like to lose something that he never had.
The unjustified fate of Itachi Uchiha had driven Sasuke to the very brink of self-destruction as he killed hundreds on his quest for revenge.
The fact that Mirajane and Elfman could hold themselves together after losing their precious little sister was something that Naruto couldn't even imagine as he walked with them.
He inwardly chuckled wondering just how his supposed second chance at life could have possibly gotten off to a rockier start. Shaking his mind away from those thoughts, Naruto instead chose to focus on studying the architecture of Magnolia. From the quaint bakeries and shops to the grand Cathedral, everything seemed to be closely located next to each other.
Looking around, he could see that there were a variety of different citizens ranging from a young couple, to a small family, a group of kids, or even an elderly couple. There was one thing they all had in common despite their numerous differences. They were all happy. The realization that this town was truly a home for them dawned on Naruto.
They had begun walking towards the Fairy Tail guild hall and Naruto quietly enjoyed the sights and sounds of this new world by himself. The streets of Magnolia were made of cobblestone while a built in canal was in the middle of the street. Lanterns could be seen every couple meters while Naruto could only marvel at the sheer complexity of their homes compared to the ones back in the Elemental Nations. As the guild hall came into view, Naruto noted that it was somewhat simple. The building was a two story wooden building with a pagoda roof and had a sign above the door that said 'Fairy Tail'. The name was pretty clever in Naruto's opinion. The Strauss siblings moved ahead of Naruto and opened the door.
Naruto had been expecting many things, but total pandemonium was not one of them. The entire guild hall was engaged in an all out brawl that destroyed nearby tables and chairs and knocked out mages left and right. The inside of the guild was just as quaint as the outside minus said war zone. The floors of the guild were made of long wood boards which was currently covered in splinters and debris from shattered furniture and tableware.
As soon as they entered, it was as if a switch had been turned and the entire fight had came to a close. Every Fairy Tail mage looked to the door at the new arrivals and suddenly stopped all raucous activity. They noticed the condition of the two elder siblings and immediately moved towards the group with looks of concern and worry.
"What the heck happened on your mission? Are you guys okay?"
"I'll kick your ass if you're the one who did this new guy!"
The group was bombarded with questions until a powerful voice decided to make itself known.
"ENOUGH!" Makarov Dreyar, Third Master of Fairy Tail stepped forward with worry in his eyes after seeing his children's condition. He moved towards the Strauss siblings as the crowd parted to let the master through. The elderly man carried a wooden staff with him that rhythmically tapped the ground with each step he took.
Elfman was covered in bandages while Mirajane had a broken arm. Needless to say, the old man was significantly worried for his children's condition and could only speculate on what happened during their job. Makarov was a short man who had a nearly bald head, but retained hair surrounding the edges of his skull.
He wore a simple white t-shirt that was covered by an orange hoodie that surprisingly fit his small stature and a matching pair of orange pants. "Are you two okay?" he worriedly asked. "Where is Lisanna?"
"Yeah we're fine Master, but can we talk about this somewhere else?" Mirajane forcefully requested. The ivory-haired teen didn't like all the looks of worry she and Elfman were receiving and desired to talk about this in a more private setting. There was a lot to discuss, more so concerning Lisanna's whereabouts.
"Of course we can go to my office." the old man immediately replied ushering the other members away to create a path.
As the trio followed the master to a nearby office door, all eyes returned to the blonde who had arrived with the two siblings. They stared and then blinked. Naruto stared back. A few seconds passed before Naruto decided it would probably be best to rejoin his newest acquaintances considering the fact that nearly everyone was currently staring at him with a "Who the hell are you?" expression.
The three mages and shinobi made themselves comfortable in the confines of Makarov's office. Elfman decided to sit down, while Mirajane and Naruto opted to stand. The latter which was curiously looking around at the various decorations of the room. Makarov's attention was brought towards the newcomer as he turned to look at the unfamiliar figure in the room. The boy held a curious gleam in his eyes as he observed the various common magical items Makarov's office contained. His spiky head of blonde hair seemed like a brighter shade compared to his grandson yet his attitude was the polar opposite. Noticing the master's gaze on him, Naruto gave him a polite wave.
Makarov chuckled at that. "Now who are you, young man? I saw you enter with my children, but we haven't been formally introduced. My name is Makarov Dreyar." he said as he held his hand out for a handshake.
The blonde shinobi was temporarily taken back by guild master's sudden introduction before he met the master's grip with one of his own. Since he had made a respectful introduction, it was only fair he returned the courtesy."Naruto Uzumaki, at your service." Naruto respectfully replied giving a cheesy one handed salute.
Makarov chuckled while Mirajane slightly smiled at the blonde's presentation. Makarov's head turned to the takeover duo as he decided to quickly address the matter at hand. Two of them looked heavily injured while the third was missing. "Now what on earth happened on that mission?" the guild master asked with an expression of deep worry. "I know this was an S-Class job, but it shouldn't have posed much difficulty for someone like you, Mira. Where is Lisanna?"
The pair shifted underneath the master's gaze, neither one wanting to report what happened. Eventually Mirajane decided as the eldest sibling it was her responsibility to tell the details of what had happened on their mission. She took a deep breath and composed herself.
Steeling her resolve, she forced herself to continue on. "When we encountered the beast, I sent Lisanna back to warn the village about the monster. It was a bit tough, but me and Elfman managed to defeat it. It took about half my magic to defeat it, and I should have been paying more attention but I was too late. As we were heading back, Elfman tried to take-over the beast." she spoke.
Elfman lowered his head down in shame as he clenched his teeth in regret and self-loathing. He knew it wasn't intentional. He knew that she was only stating the truth, but the truth hurt. The truth was that he killed his little sister all for the sake of his foolish pride. He had no right to call himself a man. If anything he was nothing but a jealous child considering his beyond stupid reasoning for acting as he did.
"At first he seemed to have retained control, but the beast's will overpowered him. He caught me off-guard and broke my arm and by the time I had run out of magic Lisanna returned." Mirajane continued. The eldest Strauss had a frown marring her features as she bit her lip. The memories of what had happened were still fresh on her mind, and she didn't wish to think about it unless she wanted to have a breakdown in front of everyone. Mirajane's arm cradled her broken one as its grip tightened.
"She tried to reason with Elfman, but she..." she paused to take a breath. "She ended up getting fatally wounded." Mirajane managed to finish.
Mirajane could no longer retain her composure as she collapsed to her knees. Her quiet sobs caused her body to wrack itself in grief as Makarov was left stunned. Elfman grit his teeth and clenched his eyes shut as a few tears escaped.
Makarov seemed to age considerably as his facial features contorted into one of solemn heartache.
The Giant of Fairy Tail's fist clenched themselves so tightly that his desk began to crack beneath the weight of his power. The loss of a building or two was irrelevant, but the loss of a child was something that Makarov would normally never allow to happen. A parent should never have to outlive his own children. As much as the elderly wizard wanted to immediately leave the room and destroy the nearest forest, he still needed to have one thing answered.
"I found Mirajane and Elfman by luck." Naruto suddenly said earning Makarov's attention. "I managed to save Mirajane before Elfman could hurt her too and I knocked him out."
The tight vice grip Makarov's hand was locked in slowly loosened as Makarov wearily sighed.
"I see... then I thank you from the bottom of my heart, Naruto."
Makarov's expression spoke volumes of his feelings as Naruto was stunned by the sheer gratitude he could feel from the elderly man. His onyx eyes held the most respect he hadn't seen in ages directed solely at him. "You have my thanks for protecting my children. One of them may be lost but we will forever honor her memory. For saving her two siblings, you have my eternal gratitude."
How nostalgic. It had been a long time since he had heard words like those, but he didn't deserve it. Naruto smiled apologetically in response to Makarov's thanks," As I already told Mirajane, I'm sorry that I couldn't have made it there quicker." Naruto said with the same sincerity.
Mirajane who was physically being supported by her brother bit her lip in guilt once more as she looked downwards. The duo moved to the door to leave. Their parts were done, and there was no longer a reason to stay. As Elfman helped Mira regain her balance, he opened the door the follow her out. The door closed behind them with an audible click.
Naruto was left alone in the room with the master whose eyebrow rose slightly.
"If I'm being honest. I'm a bit lost on what to do right now." Naruto spoke as he scratched the back of his head. "I'm not really from around here and don't really know where to go."
Makarov was surprised by the new information that had come to light. Seeing as how he was practically indebted to the blond, Makarov decided he would help him to the best of his abilities. A sudden thought crossed his mind and with it came an opportunity. The man in front of him seemed rather strong for his age. Headstrong, straightforward, and direct, yet his compassion was one of the purest he had encountered in years. "If you don't mind me asking, how old are you young man?"
"Hm? I just turned 17 recently. Why do you ask?"
"Powerful, yet so young." Makarov murmured to himself remembering that the new kid was able to completely knock out an S-Class Beast. "If you like, you're welcome to join my guild, Fairy Tail."
"Fairy Tail?" Naruto curiously repeated. "That's the name of this guild isn't it? Why's this guild named Fairy Tail?"
A small smile that seemed to grow with each passing second appeared on Makarov's face as he heard the shinobi's question. The third guild master still remembered the day he had asked the same thing to his predecessor, Precht Gaebolg. Speaking in a voice that could only be matched by priest of Zentopia, Makarov began to recount the significance behind his prized guild's name. "Do fairies really have tails? Do they even exist... Like them, this place as an eternal mystery... A never ending adventure."
These were the words passed down by the first master which were then passed to him. He had engraved them onto his heart to remember for the rest of his life during his youth.
"Fairy Tail is a family for those that desire one. Everyone here has a past that haunts them, but here they will never be alone. There will be times when we've lost all hope and no longer have the strength to stand..." Makarov paused offering a kind, grandfatherly smile to Mirajane and Elfman through the window. "But together, we will continue to move forward. We will continue to push through the hard times and face everything the world throws at us with a smile!"
"Eternal adventure, huh?"
Naruto couldn't help but feel awe-inspired by the wizened man's words. A guild created to be a family that would move forward together supporting each other. Although the circumstances were different, Naruto had wished for nothing else, but a family as a child. Maybe he could find his purpose here. "I guess you've got a new recruit right here then." Naruto slightly smiled.
"Welcome to Fairy Tail." Makarov congratulated. The man's expression fell once more as he clasped his hands together behind his back. He moved from behind his desk to stand by one of the windows in his office as he looked over his children. "If it's alright, I'd like to postpone your official induction and briefing. I'd like to inform the rest of the guild of our loss and schedule a funeral."
Naruto's grin fell as a sad smile took its place. "Of course." His eyes moved to the window where he saw the two Strauss siblings get swarmed once more. The rest of the guild would learn the truth soon it would seem.
Makarov bowed his head in thanks before moving to open one of his desk's drawers. The old man withdrew a strange wooden object before presenting it to Naruto.
"Where would you like your stamp, Naruto?" the guild master asked.
"Stamp?" the shinobi eloquently replied.
"Although now isn't the time to introduce you, I'd still like to give you your stamp. This stamp will identify you as a member of Fairy Tail. You can choose the color and where you want to put it." Makarov explained. "It's essentially a painless tattoo."
Naruto's eyes lit up in understanding as he nodded before undoing his black cloak. He rolled up the sleeve of his red jacket revealing his arm. "I'd like to have it on my right arm in black if that's alright."
The old man placed the stamp between his shoulder and elbow and lifted it up.
Naruto tilted his arm to get a good view of his new marking before he nodded in satisfaction. "It looks great. Thank you."
Makarov chuckled and nodded. He got up from his seat and made his way to the door before opening it. He looked behind him offering an apologetic smile.
"I'm sorry that we couldn't have had you join under better circumstances."
"Trust me, it's really no big deal. If you need any manpower for the service, I'll help you out to the best of my abilities." Naruto smiled learning against the nearby wall.
"Thank you. I am truly grateful."
Makarov left Naruto to address the rest of the guild leaving the jinchuriki to stir in his own thoughts.
Downstairs, Naruto could already hear the cries of disbelief and the sobbing of others. None of these people were related by blood excluding the Strauss siblings, yet their reactions were that of actual family members.
"I fall asleep for about a day and your emotions are already in turmoil. If this place is causing you trouble, then just leave." Kurama plainly suggested.
"It's the opposite, Kurama. Fairy Tail, they really care about one another like a family … I think I'll like it here." Naruto inwardly replied with a chuckle.