Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or any other references mentioned in this fanfic.
A/N: Hello everyone, its great to be back. For a moment I thought I would have to give up writing fanfic, thankfully that isn't the case.
A lot of things have been happening in my life both good and bad but I'm ready to get back to work. I apologize to everyone that have been waiting for me to update.
Not to worry I plan to focus on Naruto at least until the Chunin exams.
Well enough stalling.
"We finally made it! I can see the gate from here."
"After countless weeks of being on the road we finally made it!"
Up the road leading to Konoha were two identical looking young men wearing worn out clothes and makeshift spears.
"I can't wait to visit the White Lotus District!" one of them exclaimed jumping in the air.
"I want to visit the Alchemy Guild!" the other said just as excitedly.
They looked at each other before sprinting the rest of the way, reaching the entrance of the village within a few seconds.
"Wow! It's bigger than I thought," one of them said astonished as he had to tilt his head almost all the way back just to see the gate.
"It's completely different from our small fishing village."
The chunin guard stationed by the gate overheard them and couldn't help but chuckle drawing their attention.
Seeing their clueless faces, the guard beckoned them over with a wave of his hand, "Seems this is your first visit to the Leaf."
"Yes sir," one of the said, "my brother and I have journeyed a long way from home to come here."
The man pointed at the spears each was holding, "If you're mercenaries looking for work, I suggest heading to the Chakra Beast Association Headquarters, they're always looking for an extra set of hands. The pay is decent enough if you don't mind a little danger."
"Actually, we were hoping to meet someone while were here," one of them said taking out a worn out book from his pack and gesturing to the back where a photo of the author could be seen, "Do you know if this person is in the village."
The guard looked at them back and forth, "Now what would you boys want with Lord Yamamoto?"
"We're going to ask him to take us as his disciples?" they declared with conviction.
"…I see, well if that's your goal I suggest visiting the White Lotus District," he told them before pointing to the where a tall white tower peeked over the other buildings, "just head in the direction of the pagoda."
"Thanks a lot," they said before hurriedly rushing off.
The guard shook his head, "Poor boys, wouldn't be the first time some zealous fans try to get 'cultivation' lessons from Lord Yamamoto. Hopefully he doesn't throw them over the village wall again, I couldn't hardly sense any chakra coming from them."
Kenji's office was a hive of activity as numerous clones ran around the room carrying stacks of paper.
With the news of the Third Dungeon opening Kenji's workload had increased many times over.
Overlooking a large map of the Land of Fire Kenji and his clones were busy devising a way to overcome this latest crisis. The map was littered with a number of small wooden piece that indicated various things like towns, villages, C.B.A. bases, chakras beast nests and available members.
"We're going to have to evacuate every town within a hundred mile of the gorge," one of his clones said using a pointer stick to indicated the area on the map, "Thankfully there are only a few, the problem however will be moving such a large number of people before the first wave of chakra beast flocks to the dungeon."
"How many elephant carriages do we have on standby?" Kenji asked.
Another of his clones scanned through a stack of papers before answering, "Three dozen at most, not enough for everyone I'm afraid. Though even if we did, they would need to travel around these forested areas in order to avoid the various nesting grounds of chakra beasts."
A different clone looked surprised, "I thought the subjection squad had finished cleaning up that area?"
"No, it seems that after discovering the dungeon they decided to pull back all field personal and set up a temporary base near its entrance in case of a sudden outbreak," the previous clone added passing around the report.
Kenji looked at the map intensely, "There aren't any nearby rivers either so we can't even send ships. If we can't do it by land or sea, that only leaves us with one option."
All the clones cursed at once, having already come to the same conclusion.
The silver haired boy nodded as if to convince himself, "Send out an urgent request, I want them to capture as many flying chakra beasts as they can find. Offer them double the usual pay and access to the armory if need be. The less damaged the better, taming them all is going to be rather time-consuming as it is, so I'd rather not have to add healing to it too. How are we on logistics, how soon can we send supplies?"
A clone was ready with the answer, "If we send out Ash Hawks immediately, they will get there within three days. Thankfully most of the troublesome aspects of carrying a large amount of supplies can be overcome with special devices."
"Good, see to it then," Kenji nodded, "Once that's taken care of we need to think long term, we need to build a more permanent base to secure the area as well as an adequate amount of people to monitor the situation as it develops. We'll need to ask the Alchemy Guild to see if they're willing to send over a couple of their members, if they need incentive explain that Master Shu will personally be overseeing their lessons."
A knock at the door made them look up from the map before a stern woman carrying a clipboard walked in, "Lord Yamamoto, I hear to remind you that you have a meeting with Lord Hyuga to discuss the security detail for the upcoming genin exams."
"Tch. I completely forgot about that," the boy said rubbing his forehead. He glanced at the clock before look back at his secretary, "Call the Golden Phoenix Palace and tell them to prepare a room, I'll be there shortly."
She nodded before walking away.
Kenji looked at his clothes with a look of upmost seriousness, "Alright, we can't afford to slack off. The faster we get this done the faster we can start planning for Moon Artifacts Auction House. Nobles from all over the country will be coming so everything must be perfect for when we take their Ryo."
"Yes sir!" the clones cheered in unison before going back to planning.
(White Lotus District)
"Now boys, remember that these guest passes apply only for today. You'll need to buy new ones if you lose it or want to come back tomorrow. With that being said, I officially welcome you to the White Lotus District," the receptionist said kindly to the two boys as she handed them their cards.
Ryo Balance: 44,600
Ryo Balance: 44,600
"Thank you so much, miss," the two said in unison getting a giggle from the attractive woman, causing both to gain a faint blush.
The two walked away with their fresh passes, exiting the White Jade Bank.
Once they were out of ear-shot they playfully shoved each other, "What did I tell you Kai, didn't I say it was a good idea to visit the Leaf instead of going to that creepy mountain."
"You were right brother; did you see how beautiful the receptionist was?" Kai nodded.
"Not just the receptionist, almost every girl here is prettier than those found in our small fishing village. I guess the saying is true that the Leaf grows the most beautiful flowers," he said spotting a group of girls strolling into a clothing store. "How much money did we get from selling those ingredients, Kai?"
"About 90,000 Ryo," his sibling answered holding up his card.
"That should be enough for us to have a look around before finding Lord Yamamoto," Rai told his twin.
Kai nodded excitedly, "Oh, let's get something to eat first!"
The mention of food caused both their stomachs to growl.
"Hahaha, I forgot we haven't had anything to eat since yesterday," Rai said rubbing his stomach, "Where do you think we should go?"
"There's a map right there," Kai indicated pointing to the large bulletin board.
Scanning the map for all of the eateries their eyes landed on one in particular. "Hmm, seeing as we're already here we might as well go for the very best," Rai proclaimed.
"Good thinking brother."
The two couldn't keep their enthusiasm contained as they walked along the street excitedly pointing out everything they could find.
"Look brother, demon beasts are pulling that carriage!"
"Ah! Isn't that dumpling shop exactly like the one described in the Lonesome Sword, where the protagonist beats up those cultivators from a rival sect!"
"Speaking of which, they have the entire collection of the Jade Flower on display in that bookstore. We definitely have to get it."
"Oh my god, that girl's clothing is too revealing, I feel as if my eyes were blessed by the sight alone."
Those watching the twins and their antics either laughed in amusement or rolled their eyes at their ignorance.
"Whoa, you see that brother, that boy in green is fighting against that giant bear," Kai proclaimed as he leaned against the railing of the Challenge Arena.
A distance away, he could see a group of people cheering loudly.
"Come on Lee, you can do it!" a girl wearing Chinese clothes cheered.
"Lee-kun let the flames of youth engulphed your fists," shouted a man dressed in clothes similar to the boy.
Rai pulled his brother away, "I thought you said you were hungry, come on the Golden Phoenix Palace is this way."
"Glacial Plum Wine, a recent addition to the menu," Kenji said as he filled the Hyuga Head's cup, "tell me what you think?"
Hisashi studied the light pink liquid for a moment before bringing it to his lips. He savored the richly sweet taste as a seemingly icy sensation seemed to run down his throat, cooling his insides. "It's very flavorful," he said with that same stoic expression that all Hyuga were known for. He looked puzzled to find that his cup was already empty despite feeling like he had only taken a sip.
"A merchant from the Land of Iron, came not too long ago. I was able to trade some of my high-quality iron for some of their local goods," Kenji explained as he refilled the empty cup, "However what I found most interesting was the fact that many of their items seemed to have come from chakra beasts."
The Hyuga Head patiently waited for the boy to continue knowing there must be some point.
"Unlike us, the samurai from the Land of Iron have seen the emergence of the chakra beasts as a great boon, a chance to test their mantle as great warriors without having to wage war. The more fearsome the beast slain the more honor they obtain. They have even set up an organization similar to the C.B.A. and develop weapons made from the very beasts they slay," the silver haired youth said offhandedly as if it didn't matter to him, "Give them a few years and they'll have sufficient strength to compete with any one of the other Five Great Nations."
"While the Land of Iron have always chosen to remained steadfast in their desire to stay neutral, rarely if ever involving themselves with the other shinobi affairs, that does not mean that it will always be the case," Haishi remarked, "Their lack of conflict with other nations just means they have had more time to prepare. Their numbers also haven't suffered from wars and the fact that they were able to mobilize against the threat of the chakra beasts means they have capable leaders."
Kenji nodded, "And unlike us who have to split our forces, they can devote their entire military to repel them while also gaining valuable battle experience."
"No doubt you've already taken the matter to the Hokage," the man inquired to which Kenji nodded, "So then why bring this up with me?"
Knitting his fingers Kenji gave his guest an amused look, "Just thought it was something worth noting. The world is changing at a fast pace, those who fail to adapt are doomed to be left behind and disappear."
The tension in the room suddenly skyrocketed as the air seemed to still. Cold white eye met mischievous golden eyes.
The staring match went on for several seconds.
Still grinning Kenji took the bell placed in the middle of the table and wrung it a few times.
They didn't have to wait long before the doors to the room slid open and several waiters carrying trays of food walked in. Just like that the pressure in the room disappeared like a deflated balloon.
"Before we get to the real reason for this meeting let's get business out of the way first," Kenji said, tossing a sealed scroll to the stoic man, "the C.B.A. has taken measures to secure the area where the genin exams for the reserve corps will take place, the full details are inside. If you feel anything specific needs to be addressed, please inform my secretary."
Hiashi accepted the scroll silently.
Once the last of the food was placed on the giant round table, the servers filed out of the room one by one. A total of thirty different dishes were spread between them, filling the room with all manner of mouthwatering aromas.
"The White Phoenix Palace truly lives up to its reputation," Hiashi praised offhandedly as he took the chopsticks next to him. He might not know what the boy had planned but it was best to play along for now.
Kenji showed a genuine smile at the compliment, as the restaurant was a particular point of pride for him, he had created many of their recipes himself afterall. "I'm glad it suits your taste."
Grabbing a pair of chopsticks, he took a dumpling and popped it in his mouth. The soft chewy texture of the dough gave way to perfectly seasoned meat and vegetables. It came as no surprise that it was delicious seeing as the White Phoenix used the Fermentation Tank for all its ingredients.
Fermentation tank +10
10+: Food and ingredients placed inside will absorb the ambient nature energy making it taste better as well as provide better nutrition.
Chakra Points Needed to Upgrade: 400
Out of all of his upgraded items, the tank was perhaps his favorite.
Sure, selling artifacts and pills was good, but speaking realistically they didn't bring as much money as one would think. The only people that could actually afford them were shinobi from wealthy families or nobles wanting them for the prestige they brought. But again, there was only so many diet pills or flaming katanas you could realistically buy.
Food on the other hand was different. Everyone needs to eat, and unlike other goods people will continue to buy it constantly. That and the added benefits from eating chakra infused food and the White Lotus Palace was well on its way to becoming his most profitable business.
Meat and Vegetable Dumpling
+ Increases chakra recovery rate by 20% for an hour.
Chakra Points needed to Upgrade: N/A
Kenji could already feel the effects of the dumpling taking effect even as he reached for a bowl of soup.
Neither one of them talked even as the number of empty dishes started to pile up. Kenji just happy to get some peace and quiet before having to go back to the mountain of work while Hiashi tried to organize his thoughts.
Once most of the dishes were eaten Kenji placed his chopsticks down and let out a content sigh, "I should probably stop now or else I'll be too full to get to back to work." Pouring himself a cup of sake he down the alcoholic beverage in one smooth motion and looked at the Clan Head who looked like he would not be stopping soon. Knitting his fingers Kenji cleared his throat, "Have you finally thought of what you wish to discuss?"
"I can take it from your previous comment that you already know why I'm here," Hiashi stated not really looking at Kenji, though the previous coldness was gone from his tone, "You were correct in your observation. The world is changing at an astronomical rate, so much so that it's hard for those of the older generation to adjust."
"True, but change isn't always necessarily bad," Kenji.
"I concur, not all change is bad, but when one lives their life so firmly stuck in tradition one cannot help but to fear it."
Kenji did not envy the position the man was in, so he decided to stop beating around the bush, "Have the relations between the main and branch family truly gotten that bad? I've heard a few rumors, but I didn't want to pry."
The Hyuga Head shook his head, "As much as I would like to say it's a recent development that isn't exactly true. There has always been a certain level of strain between the two houses, but recent events have only made it more prevalent?"
"I take it the chastity rings I made have a lot to do with that?" Kenji wagered a guess. As they say, no action is without its consequence. While he may have reduced the threat of being sexually attacked while outside of the village for a number of shinobi and civilians, he had also inadvertently made on of the Hyuga's main traditions come into question. If their bloodline was no longer in danger of being stolen, they why continue to brand members of the branch family?
"It certainly didn't help matters," Hiashi admitted taking a sip from his drink, "While none of the branch members have gone so far as to openly defy me yet, I can feel the growing resentment behind their eyes."
"It foolish to believe that you could create a sentient slave and believe it would never yearn for freedom."
Hiashi didn't take the bait this time, knowing it was a frequent tactic by the younger boy to get others unbalanced. "It is not slavery."
Kenji raised a sarcastic eyebrow, "If you say so."
"If you quite finished with your jokes, I'd appreciate a serious discussion."
The silver haired merchant let out a sigh, "Oh very well. Honestly, I don't understand why you decided to come to me with this. I'm hardly what you would call an expert in familial matters."
"As an outsider with a large political backing that has to deal with the everyday happening of an organization that spans the entirety of the Land of Fire, I figured you could provide a valuable viewpoint."
Kenji wasn't buying it however as he said in a deadpan voice, "The Hokage turned you down, didn't he?"
"His exact words were that as the political leader of the Leaf he was unable to take a stance concerning one clan's matters as it might create disharmony among the ranks," he replied without a hint of shame at being caught.
"Huh, I'll have to remember to use that excuse in the future," Kenji commented, reaching for a potsticker, "If I'm being completely honest, I have no clue to how you can fix your current situation. As you said the conflict was a long time coming, its not something that can be fixed with a few flowery words of apology. That being said if you take too long to mend the rift it could get to the point of no return. I'm not saying an 'Uchiha' situation might occur but sooner or later some of the more rebellious Branch members might feel that a chance at freedom outweighs the risk of death."
"I very much doubt it will ever come to that," Hiashi said confidently, but Kenji couldn't help but detect the small amount of worry.
"Let's hope your right, I'd hate to lose one of my best customers," Kenji said mockingly raising a glass of sake in the air, "That being the case, I stand by what I said. You have no chance of resolving this issue and still smelling of roses."
There was something about the way that he said it that Hiashi couldn't help but catch, "But you have thought of a way?"
Kenji's chopsticks stopped short of a dumpling as he looked at the Clan Head, "I have but it isn't something I would call sane or wise for that matter. I'd fear you'd see things get a lot worse before they got better."
"I'd still like to hear your thoughts."
"Very well, if you are so insistent. While you have no hope of pleasing both houses there might be someone who will," Kenji spoke vaguely.
"You're talking about the next Clan Head."
"Just like how a small pebble thrown from a mountain top can cause a huge rockslide, an action today can pave the road for the future. In other words, choose an heir that can do what you couldn't, and help them by lay the groundwork for their future role."
"It sounds like you're suggesting I choose a new heir," he said with a dark undertone.
Rolling his eyes Kenji continued, "Not necessarily, just make it look like your considering it. To be honest while your eldest daughter isn't without potential, she lacks ambition and the confidence to truly lead the clan. A gentle heart without a firm hand only makes an easy target."
"So you think I should name Hanabi as the heir?"
"Well she certainly has the drive to succeed. With prober guidance she could be educated to be a capable leader though I doubt she has the charisma needed to join the two houses."
"Well seeing as I only have two daughters, that leaves me with few options."
Kenji gave him sly grin, "I seem to recall you have a very talented nephew."
The Hyuga leader's eyes widened in shock, "What your suggesting is completely insane. I'd be throwing away centuries of tradition!"
"Isn't that what you want to do in the first place," Kenji asked with annoyed look, "Obvious I'm not saying you should actually follow through with it, but at least give the impression that your giving it some thought. If they see you actually considering making a member of the branch family the future head, it will help lower the tension between the two families for a time. Sure, you'll probably run into some opposition but if you handle it correctly, your successor will have an easier time healing the rift."
Hiashi wasn't sure what to say as his mind turned over the idea.
Kenji could feel the torrent of emotions raging inside the man like storm, "Sometimes, the toughest choices require the strongest wills."
Before anymore could be said there was a knock at the door.
"Enter," Kenji answered as he went to refill his cup.
A hunched over old man in serving clothes opened the door and bowed, "I apologize for the interruption my Lord, but there is an issue on the first floor that requires your attention."
The silver haired youth raised an eyebrow, wonder what it could be.
Turning to his companion he excused himself, "It would seem I am needed elsewhere. Please enjoy the rest of the meal. If you need to discuss anything further feel free to drop by anytime."
With that Kenji followed the old man out of the room and closing the door behind him.
So lost in thought, it took Hiashi several seconds to realize something important, "…He left me with the bill?"
In unison both Rai and Kai opened their eyes only to see a cold grey ceiling.
Groggily they both sat up and looked at each other only to see they had matching blackeyes.
"Urg, what happened?"
"I'm not sure."
The two had been having a delicious meal when they were approached by a group of pretty girls. They had asked if they could join them at their table, which the two brothers had eagerly accepted. Not used to the attention of the opposite sex the two boys had wanted to impress them by ordering some of the more expensive items on the menu.
As one could imagine, it didn't take very long for their savings to dry up, but by this point they were more than a little drunk due to no small part on the girls for refilling their cups when they looked close to being empty. When the time to pay finally came they found that the group of girls were nowhere to be found.
If they had been just a bit more sober, they would have explained to the restaurant staff that they couldn't pay and come to an agreement. Unfortunately, that wasn't the case and the two brothers had foolishly thought of running away without paying.
They made it ten steps before they found the air knocked out of them by a group of cute waitresses that had surrounded in in flash of speed. The last thing either of them saw was a deceptively delicate fist aimed at their face.
Hearing chuckling, they turned around and saw that they weren't the only ones in the cell.
Sitting against one of the walls was a blonde man a few years older than them wearing expensive looking clothes and sporting a few bruises himself.
"This your first time?" the man inquired.
"Who are you?" Kai asked while tenderly touching his injured eye.
"Name's Akira," the man introduced himself with a salute that caused him to wince and touch his ribs, "So what are you in for?"
"Where are we exactly?" Rai asked seeing that they looked to be in a dimly lit room. What was strange was that the room lacked any windows or exits, just smooth stone walls. The only source of light seemed to be coming from a small slip of paper stuck to the ceiling of the room.
Seeing their obvious confusion, Akira decided to enlighten them, "This here is the Black Cell, a special holding cell for those individuals who have broken one of the rules in the White Lotus District. People should really read the fine print before they sign."
"What rule did you break?" Kai asked curiously seeing as the man was even more beat up than them.
The blonde gained a fond smile and a far-off look, "I feel in love."
The two brothers gave each other skeptical looks.
Akira gave them a look of disappointment, "I take it neither of you have been to the Temple yet?"
Nodding Rai was the one to explain, "No, we actually arrived in the Leaf today?"
"Then I'm guessing you saw how pretty all the women in the Leaf are compared to the outside right?"
The two gained an embarrassed look but nodded, seeing as the entire reason they were there was because they were fooled by a couple of pretty faces.
"Ha! Then let me just tell you that you've seen nothing yet. The Red Moon Temple holds some of the most beautiful women in the Leaf- no, the entire Land of Fire! The Sisters are akin to saints; helping the poor, healing the sick, spreading happiness wherever they go," Akira praised with a certain zeal in his voice.
"Unfortunately, they are forbidding from dating," the shinobi lamented with a downcast.
Rai scrunched up his face in confusion, "And you still chose to fall in love with one of them?"
Akira gave him a pitting smile as if he were looking at a child who asked a stupid question, "No one choses to fall in love."
"Hold on, I'm having trouble believing they locked you up for just that," Kai interjected.
Rai too had doubtful expression.
The man tried to adopt an innocent expression that wouldn't fool a blind man, " So, I wanted to give her a present, but since she refused to accept any in public I decided to drop it off in her room but somehow ended up in their changing room. Before I could explain myself, the guards had burst into the room and beat me into this sorry state."
"…That seems more believable," Kai said.
"Tch. Enough about me, what's your story?"
The two brothers looked at each other before shrugging seeing no harm in telling him.
"Well I'm Rai, and this is my younger brother Kai, we come from a fishing village south of the Fire Capital…"
Looking through the two-way mirror, Kenji had a stoic face as he listened to their story with interest.
Normally the punishment for being unable to pay for a meal was mild, being a simple fine and a couple days working as a busboy. Likewise, the damaging of property was a larger fine and being forbidden entry for a month.
Neither crime warranted a visit to the Black Cell which was normally reserved for out of control Chakra Beasts and violent customers that had purposefully harmed one of his staff members.
However, there was a reason why they had moved them to such a place.
"Master, here is the reports from the Bank as well as a statement from the attendant," one of his puppets said handing him a folder which he scanned.
Fire Lotus X 4 = 2,000 Ryo
Horned Viper Gallbladder X 1 = 3,000 Ryo
Black Peal X 5= 5,000 Ryo
Sabretooth Fang X 2= 10,000 Ryo…
As expected, the list was thorough in documenting every item they had sold to the bank.
While most of them could simply be overlooked due to luck despite their rarity, it was the gallbladder that drew a red flag. It belonged to a particular dangerous chakra beast that even most chunni had trouble facing let alone two civilians with crude weapons and low chakra reserves.
For this reason, someone was ordered to tail them while in the district.
Nothing really stood out until the restaurant, where they were knocked out by the staff.
Upon examining their bodies, a startling discovery was made.
Both boys had Qi flowing through their chakra network.
Going through their belongings they found a couple of chakra beast crystals and crude alchemy pills. Again, it wasn't so strange, given their obvious skill to take down Level 1 chakra beasts. As for the crude pills, well they wouldn't be the first to try to replicate the pills made by the Alchemy Guild.
No, what really drew their attention was a cultivation manual labeled: Crashing Waves, Furious Sky.
Despite the stupid sounding name, Kenji was able to recognize it as one of the nameless cultivation techniques that he had created with Kaguya.
With all the evidence pointing in one direction it would be foolish to deny the obvious truth. They were cultivators. Judging by the state of their Qi they were Stage 1 cultivators, having opened their first chakra gate not too long ago.
Yet that still didn't explain what they were doing here in the Leaf.
Somehow, he didn't think it was a coincidence that they had just so happened to arrive right when the third dungeon was open or with the start of the series being only a few days away.
Now normally he would ask Kaguya if this was another of her plans but seeing as she hadn't informed him beforehand it could only mean two things. Either it wasn't such a big deal and nothing for him to worry about or she knew he wouldn't like or approve of her latest plan.
"Please let it be the former," the silver haired boy muttered under his breath.
A/N: Thank you for reading.
Again, I'll be focusing on Naruto for a while, sorry for everyone waiting for the Doll Gamer. I do have the chapter done but I don't want to release it just yet.
So yeah, this and last chapter were mostly for exposition, to get a feel to how the Shinobi world has differed to cannon.
Next chapter will have Naruto, I promise.
How do you all feel about Neji becoming a candidate for the heir position?
Should I add an evil cultivator?
Anyone's POV you want to see?