Arc X Chapter 17


A heavy sigh escaped Raiden, as his person guided Lady Asami and company, her apparent sister and a little kitten through the lifeless ruins of Nara. An unexpected turn of events for sure. The ways of fate were strange indeed.

Had he been told back in his youth that he would be one day be ordered around by a pubescent precocious girl, half his age, with fluffy cheeks and hair, he would have accused the person in question of suffering from a serious case of delusion, ranging from clinically insane to mentally disabled. Yet here he was, scavenging some long forgotten ruins while being ordered around by a pubescent precocious girl, more than half his age, with fluffy cheeks and hair, clad in a kimono and armed with melodramatic theatrics of grace and elegance, reigning over Amegakure by marshalling the support of the clans and rich. Not to mention, speakingon on behalf of Pain, or rather instead of their dear, wise leader as some voices might say. How times had changed. How Amegakure had changed. The irony and absurdity of the circumstances of reality never failed to surprise him.

Yesterday, proud ninja and intelligence operator, but today, reduced to Lady Asami's precious lackey. Quite a change in his profession, and yet despite resenting it, he was ultimately following her commands. For some strange reasons, despite all his misgivings, his doubts, his initial reluctance, he was now following the command of a little girl without question. Curious, wasn't it? Perhaps blind obedience and unwavering loyalty were after all the true essence of being a ninja. They were often said to be nothing but tools, disposable tools destined to fulfil the wishes of their lords and masters, and in his case, granting the wishes of his mistress.


Crumbled stone lay sprawled as far as her eye reached. The ruins offered Asami an underwhelming view, as their little group was guided through the deserted city that once was called Nara. Past cobbled courtyards, past crumbled walls, past fallen stone, they entered a large abandoned structure, impressive in size and dimension. "I gather we have made much progress."

"That depends on your definition of progress. So far, we have excavated little here to justify our efforts. Nothing here to find but scrap and trinkets to pocket. Historical curiosity aside, I see little point in continuing this expedition", he responded with a hint of pessimism.

Asami smiled, tilting her head. "No need to sell yourself short, Raiden." She firmly patted him on his shoulder in a reassuring gesture. " Judging by your recent reports, you managed to stumble across a major find. So what exactly have you and your men unearthed, aside from these little trinkets?"

Her chief archaeologist merely grumbled. "Hmm … Come, and see for yourself."

A pair of ninja guards moved aside, as Asami and company entered a poorly lit corridor. Torches provided a semblance of lighting. An ancient stone staircase led their group underground, deeper and deeper into the realm of subterranean darkness beneath layer upon layer of earth and rock, until they reached a vast empty hall deep down. Gargantuan stone pillars carried the weighty ceiling and above floors.

An impressive sight, from a purely architectural perspective, but otherwise disappointing. Asami had expected more than just some ancient stone structures. "Is this everything?"

"Obviously not." Their guide smirked, motioning forward. "Further me. Follow me."

They followed his lead through this interminable darkness before eventually hitting a dead end. Their passage was blocked by what appeared to be a mundane … wall.

Asami raised her eyebrow, a common sentiment this day. Her man in the field presented them with an admittedly ostentatious wall, adorned with elaborate patterns of inscriptions and gibberish symbols. A yin and yang circle was featured prominently in the middle. It was a circle of dark and light, unified and intertwined, despite their dualistic nature. Artistic considerations and Deidara's appreciation aside, the wall exuded no sense of importance. Quite the contrary. The grey monstrosity looked like a common wall. It felt like a common wall. It was in fact a common wall.

"A wall?"Asami paid Raiden with a questioning gaze. He owed her an explanation.

"We thought the same initially, but appearances are often deceiving. This is not a wall, but a gate."

Asami paid Raiden a questioning gaze.

"According to our linguists, the hall here is a treasure vault. The inscriptions mention ancient treasures, three sacred regalia, valour, wisdom, and benevolence in some way. Unfortunately, the inscriptions appear to be incomplete. Parts are missing., but we suspect that whatever these treasures might be, they must lie beyond the gate, inside the vault lay. The only problem is that ... ... ..."

Asami stepped forwards to study the gate herself. "Let me guess, you have no idea how to open it, correct?"

"... ... … So far, all our attempts to find the seams of the doors to open the passage have failed. The gate won't move."

Her hand touched the dusty, gritty surface. A faint puff of the substance drifted through the air. The grey stone felt cold, dense. "Are you absolutely certain the gate can be opened?"

"Very much so. The inscriptions leave little doubt about the matter, and I have never heard about an inaccessible treasure vault. That would be rather stupid, not to say counter productive. Judging by the slits and the seals, there must be a way. You don't put seals on something that can't be opened. In fact, we suspect the vault had been opened recently."

Asami was listening. "How so?"

Raiden elaborated, "When we arrived, the entire area was covered in rubble and debris; yet ... yet this underground passage has survived the times remarkably unscathed. No debris. No rubble. Little sign of erosion and age … As it turns out, we have found a stone plate lying right next to the staircase. It fits perfectly. The plate must have once covered the entrance, but it was lifted and moved … Someone came here before us."

Asami processed this new piece of information. So they weren't the first to discover this place. How disappointing, but a predictable outcome. "Just about how long ago are we talking about?"

"That is unfortunately impossible to tell at this point. Maybe years, perhaps decades, but we assume a more recent date."

"I see." Asami studied the gate and the engraved seals. Her hand touched the cold grey surface once more. This type of stone ... This type of sealing ... A nagging feeling insisted that she had seen all of this somewhere before. "And what about explosives? Have you tried those? Can't we force our way inside?"

"We have already tried ... It's impossible. Personally, I have nothing against the destruction of historic sites ..., but the problem that we face is the structural integrity of this place. If we try to blast our way through, the chances are good that we all are going to be buried alive."

Asami clicked her tongue in slight annoyance."Have you any other ideas, Raiden? As you have said, there must be a way. Our ancestors must have left us some hints here."

"... They have, but the inscriptions mostly consist of cryptic messages ...

Incomplete. The word incomplete occupied Asami's mind. It had a familiar touch.

Raiden straightened his back. "They say that 'passage will only be granted to those worthy, to those who carry the blood Ashura, or those who wield the eyes of Indra'. The inscriptions undoubtedly refer to the legendary progenitors of the two imperial lines, but since both have long since gone extinct, we are with few options left … Lady Asami?"

A subdued giggle filled the darkness, originating from a single girl. An amused smirk adorned Asami's lips. She finally ... remembered. This stone ... This seal strongly resembled ... A certain ancient shrine on a rainy night, a certain stone tablet from the past, came to mind. "Extinct. Extinct is such a harsh word, Raiden, don't you agree? While I can't speak for the children of Ashura, Raiden, I can assure you that the descendants of Indra, the last heirs of the imperial throne, are still very much among us. His blood hasn't yet waned."

The gate opened as ancient stone began to move, parting before Raiden's very eyes, Incredulity gripped his mind, as his lips fell silent.

How ... How was this possible ... The gate had opened itself ... But who ...

His gaze fell on a certain girl who returned a secretive smile, yet all of his attention was drawn to her eyes ..., to a purple abyss of endless power.

In an instant, his blood froze, as everything suddenly fell into place ... His mission ... All the ancient history ... This place ... The imperial regalia ... Her eyes ... Her blood ... Her legacy ... The destiny of a girl born to rule.