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Episode 1: Serene Island

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Minato winced, clutching the wound on his thigh as he leaned against a tree. He tapped the seal inscribed on his wristband, unsealing three kunai with the Flying Raijin formula. He threw two of the kunai into trees at his sides and kept the third. The hair on the back of Minato's neck rose. Has he already found me?

Thousands of jagged, purple crystals the size of an eye appeared in the air at his left. Minato immediately flipped through hand signs. The crystals shot at him in a blur as a black barrier materialized before him. The crystals vanished into the barrier, then reappeared from the kunai to Minato's left at their master. A purple wall of crystals rose, making the small crystals shatter upon impact.

Minato froze. He looked down to find a hole the size of a fist in his stomach. He realized the trees in front of him had a similar sized hole through them. Minato sank to a knee, panting with sweat pouring down his face. His foe's magic flared, launching another barrage of crystals from every direction. Single Yang Formation! Minato clapped his hands together, and a red barrier surrounded him. The crystals shattered upon impact, briefly blinding Minato with their shards.

When his vision cleared, his killer stood before him. "You… who are you? Did Michello send you?" Minato demanded, forcing himself to stand. He leaned against the tree with one hand.

"No." The man answered. He was shrouded in shadow with only his pitch black hair and the glowing, gold patterns across his skin visible.

That mark over his heart is an ankh. Minato narrowed his eyes. "Then why are you doing this?" My legs are going numb already, but I can't teleport yet, I need more information.

"I'll humor you. Consider it a deadtime story," the man shrugged. Minato clenched his fist. So much for talking distracting him, he's still building up magic to break my barrier. "A century ago, your council created the Nakagami Armor for the sake of escaping Mother's Principles. A few years ago, citizens of Ishgar attempted to travel through time. And now, Namikaze, your subordinates have violated the Principles of Life and Death… I was far too lenient with this world, for far too long."

Minato narrowed his eyes. "So, you're the one who murdered five councilmembers a century ago." The gods have laws restricting who they can punish. If he's killing someone who hasn't violated any of Mother's Principles, then that can only mean one thing. "You intend to deliver Mother's Justice, don't you?

The god narrowed his eyes. It was all the answer Minato needed. He ripped off a chunk of bark. The man's magic flared, then crystals shot from the earth in front of Minato.

Minato made the seal of confrontation. The next instant, he was standing in front of his home. Minato fell to his hands and knees with a gasp. Gritting his teeth, he pushed off the ground as hard as he could, then his arms buckled. He built up his magic while we talked to create a crystal that could grow within my barrier. Minato chuckled. I hope you can forgive me Naruto. Dad's leaving you quite a mess, isn't he?

Minato tightened his grip on the bark as his hand was consumed by yellow chakra. Carving Seal. I'm leaving you with a burden, but I know you'll rise to the challenge. Minato smiled. I entrust everything to you, son. He exhaled, and his eyes shut for the last time. Even in death, Minato held the bark that held the future's hope tight. The bark was inscribed with a single word — the name of the God-King.

Ankhseram.

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"Hurry it up! If we're late to this one because you overslept I'm destroying that stupid flak jacket!"

"Five more minutes," Naruto muttered as he rolled onto his side. Something soft and furry smacked his cheek. He groaned and pushed himself to his feet. He opened his eyes to find a red-orange tail on his nose. "You're awfully impatient for a thousand-year-old demon," Naruto grumbled. "The sun is barely up yet."

"I am going to eat you someday," Kurama hissed.

"Our life forces are bound to one another," Naruto responded as he stretched. "And you look like a regular fox right now; you're not scaring anybody." Naruto reached down and picked Kurama up before placing him into their bag, so only his head stuck out.

"Why Kushina? Why would you leave me to this brat?" Kurama demanded as he stared up at the sky.

"Because you're an even bigger brat."

"I loathe you."

"Love you too, Kurama," Naruto responded with a laugh. Now then, which way was it? I think it's this way. A hundred paces to their right, he found his sight blocked by a heavy fog. Naruto blinked, rubbed his eyes, and looked up. Gray and black clouds covered the sky above the fog like a thick blanket. "You're supposed to tell me when weird things happen, ya know!" he reminded Kurama with a glare.

"Consider this a lesson from yours truly. Take better care to examine your environment next time. Honestly, this is the first time you've slipped up like this in years."

"The one who wakes up first is supposed to mention weird stuff! That's been the rule for years!"

"First I'm hearing of it," Kurama said with a shrug.

"You're the one who made the rule!" Naruto said, his frown sinking into a scowl. Kurama ignored Naruto in favor of licking his paw. Naruto huffed, threw their bag over his shoulders, and strode from the tiny island they'd spent the night on toward the fog. One thing he appreciated about his career was that It didn't matter much if you forgot which direction your destination was, as long as you went in the direction your instincts told you not to go, you'd reach your destination.

"Decades here and this world still feels weird," Kurama said.

"Hmm? How?"

"This form I've taken for one, " Kurama snorted, "And in our world, a kunai could kill even Hashirama. It seems every mage worth their salt in this world can catch a blade with their bare hand."

"You could do that in the world you were born in," Naruto pointed out.

"Not the point!" Kurama muttered, glaring at Naruto. "Humans doing it is weird."

"Sulking cause you're not special?" Naruto inquired with a sly smirk. Kurama went back to grooming, and Naruto laughed. "I gotta admit, blocking cutting and stabbing attacks without using chakra would be pretty great," Naruto said with a smile.

"Now that I think about it, we might need to rethink your career," Kurama deadpanned. "Walking toward the ominous fog that's under a dark sky is never a good idea."

"Please, you'd be sleeping all day if I didn't have this job!" Naruto paused a few steps before the fog and flipped through hand signs. Wind Style: Great Breakthrough! A gust of wind crashed through the fog, clearing a path for them. He ran through it. "I think we'll go to that resort. Even Fairy Tail can't destroy too much in two weeks, right?" There are a few people around there I'll be needing to negotiate with.

"Finally! After two and a half years!" Kurama huffed. "If you waited any longer I'd go on strike."

"You don't work for me," Naruto pointed out as used the Great Breakthrough again.

"Not the point," Kurama said, giving Naruto a tap with his paw. " Now kick it up a notch. We should get to the island as quick as possible." Naruto had to agree. This fog couldn't mean anything good for Serene Island. We aren't teammates anymore, but I won't let your homeland be destroyed because they can't pay the Magic Council's taxes, James.

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Naruto sighed as he took his first step on land. The journey was long and boring. Not one monster or mage waiting for them in the clearly formed by an evil force fog. Was it really too much for there to be a sea serpent or something? The only odd thing was the lack of fish or turtles.

"My power is maximum," Kurama mumbled. "All shall kneel before my might."

"Sure, buddy," Naruto murmured with a chuckle. He's kind of cute when he sleeps. Don't think I'll tell him that. Now, I think the nearest town is Serna. He turned to take in the rest of the beach. The last time he'd come, the island seemed a paradise. The white sand, the clear waters, the vibrant green of the abundant coconut trees, and the laughter of the locals were etched in his mind years.

That beach, so full of laughter and life, was abandoned. Frowning deeply, Naruto headed toward Serna. At least the fog is thinner here. As he grew closer to the town, he noticed many coconut trees had been slashed in two, thin trenches were carved into the earth at random, and there were several small holes too deep for him to see the bottom. Naruto knelt in front of a single massive footprint with three toes longer than Naruto's hands. The sand next to the footprint looked to have been wiped smooth.

This thing is smart enough to hide its footprints, which means it can't be identified by any outsiders who've come to help the island, but it missed one print. Maybe the local militia attacked it before it could finish? But where are the corpses? Did they win without losing anyone? He sighed and wiped the sweat from his brow before running again. As he ran, he found more torn trees, trenches, and small holes. He sped up. Am I too late?

It didn't take long for them to reach the town. Naruto smiled when he saw the town gates were still manned. The gates were logs bound together by vines that had been strengthened by a form of plant magic. His smile widened when he saw the gates were unscratched. Naruto stopped about ten yards in front of the gates. He turned back. The destruction the beast caused stopped about a couple hundred yards away from the town itself. The barrier surrounding this place must be way stronger.

"You there! State your purpose!" one of the five guards barked, making Kurama burrow deeper into the bag. Naruto reached into his pocket and showed them the request they'd sent; then he showed them the burnt orange sash with a black ankh on it tied around his left arm.

"I'm from the Council," Naruto told them with a smile.

"The council," a guard repeated, scowling. He was an old man with graying, blond hair, and a full beard. "We told you, we can't pay!"

"I'm not here to collect taxes," Naruto said, his smile becoming a bit smaller. "I'm here to help, free of charge."

"Free of charge, huh," the old guard's eyes narrowed. The other guards whispered among themselves while the gray-bearded guard stared down at him for a moment. He muttered something to another guard, and the gate was lifted.

"Thanks!" Naruto said as he walked through. He glanced at the walls that surrounded the town on all sides. The walls were made with the same magic as the gates. It was quite an improvement over the defenses Serna had the last time he'd come. The magic coming from those vines isn't something to scoff at. They must have gotten lacrima to reinforce the walls. He glanced around the area directly behind the gate. The buildings he could see were almost hidden behind a line of trees with many thick branches on them that started growing lower than the average tree. They probably use plant magic on those trees to slow down anything that manages to get past the wall.

"Thank you for your help, Rune Knight," the old guard said in a tense tone.

"I'm the Councilor of Fiore's twelfth province," Naruto said in a dry tone. The old guard twitched as the other four guards began to whisper among themselves again.

"A pleasure to meet you Councilor," the old guard said, extending a hand, "I am the Captain of Seren Town's militia. My men and I look forward to helping you slay this menace."

"Oh? So, you're the famous Captain Pierce?" Naruto's eyes lit up as he took the captain's hand. "James talked about you all the time! I was really hoping to meet you the last time I was here."

"James," Pierce repeated, blinking. "You know my grandson?"

"We were teammates," Naruto said with a smile, "The five of us-" Kurama stirred in the pack. "The six of us came here a few years back. It was after Lord Hyberion finished cleaning up most of the demons running wild here."

"Ah, when I was on the mainland," Pierce nodded. He turned and motioned for Naruto to follow him. "Let me show you where you can spend the night."

"Thank you," Naruto responded while inclining his head slightly. Pierce walked, Naruto followed, and another guard followed quietly once they thought Naruto wasn't looking. He rolled his eyes. Pierce stopped before the trees.

"I feel I must warn you that you'll have to leave your weapons with the staff of the inn," Pierce told him. "If we find you don't give the inn every weapon you have-"

"I'll be escorted outside the town gates and left to fend for myself," Naruto finished. "I'll give everything I have. I promise." Pierce nodded and began walking again. The pack wiggled before Kurama stuck his head out.

"He's definitely that brat's grandfather," Kurama said in a deadpan. Pierce tensed while Naruto pressed a finger to his lips. Kurama rolled his eyes and slid into the pack while keeping his head out enough to see their surroundings.

Serna hadn't changed much. The roads and houses were made of drab gray stones. Most of the houses were a single story tall and had small trees growing near them. The sweet scent of apples carried in the air, just as it had almost seven years ago.

Though the sun was only up enough to peek through the storm clouds, the people of Serna were already starting their day. They waved and smiled at Pierce and Naruto warmly. Naruto returned with waves of his own while Pierce merely nodded. A few townspeople noticed the ankh on Naruto's sash, and their smiles fell a bit, but they still wished him a good day.

"There's more greenery here than I remember in this town," Kurama said, glancing between the homes. Each house had small plants in front of them or had a small garden, and the larger houses had a couple of trees and bushes in their yard.

"We planted several trees and bushes after the demon attacks six and a half years ago," Pierce explained.

"I guess that would make anyone want to improve their defenses," Naruto said as he placed a hand over his chest. The scar he'd gotten from a demon he'd killed on that day still ached occasionally.

"Improve our defenses," Pierce snorted, "These defenses are nothing compared to what we had thirty years ago! Had we been prepared properly; the demons could have been killed without help from outsiders." He shook his head, looking a bit like a father chastising his child. "They should've been fine without my help."

Naruto glanced at the man's frown. James tended to blame himself for things he couldn't control too. It made it easier to picture the two as a family. James often spoke of his grumpy, stubborn grandfather who drilled him until he was stronger than almost every adult in his town. Even when he complained, it was obvious James loved and admired his grandfather. Naruto lowered his gaze to the ground.

Pierce stopped. Naruto stumbled, shooting a chain from his shoulder to wrap around a nearby tree to steady him. Sighing, Naruto retracted the chain. Zoning out in public, I need more rest than I thought. "We're here," Pierce said.

"Eh, thanks," Naruto said, reaching to rub the back of his head. Pierce grunted, gave him a nod, and walked toward five guards sitting in front of a nearby house drinking out of beer jugs. Naruto winced. This isn't going to end well.

"What the hell are you idiots doing!" Pierce roared, making the guards jump and scramble away. "I'll skin you alive if you abandon your posts again!"

Naruto ran into the inn.

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Naruto yawned and looked up at the sky. The storm clouds seemed to be even darker than they were yesterday, but there was a warm breeze that made him smile. I wonder what it says of me as a ninja that I still slept like a log in such a dangerous place. Naruto shrugged and turned to open his room's door.

Naruto paused with his hand on the room's doorknob. He turned to find a boy across the street staring at him. Naruto smiled and waved. The boy blinked before offering a grin with a few gaps in it. "What're you standing around for? We're opening in a half hour!" a man's voice boomed, making the boy jump.

"Coming!" the boy cried, racing into the shop behind him. Naruto laughed. I bet I looked like that when mom called me. His smile shrank a bit. Are we really fine with letting him die because Serene can't afford to pay their taxes? I think other countries have failed to pay their taxes and still received protection from the council. If that's the case, then It's possible the real reason we're not trying to bring this island back into the fold is far more complicated than it looks.

Pergrande conquered Serene over two and a half centuries ago. In those days, Pergrande functioned more like a military-run empire than the constitutional monarchy it was today. It took what it wanted, from who it wanted, and consumed small countries like a fire devoured dry wood — quite a bit like Alvarez from Alikatasia. Serene Island stayed under the thumb of Pergrande until the Giant Queen, Lynne, declared the Island a territory of her newly formed Magic Council.

After Founder Lynne killed the King of Pergrande, the island remained an Ishgarian territory for generations and was granted the privileges that came with being a territory. Though most mainlanders had no desire to interact with the island, there were more than a few who were willing to trade and mingle with the people of Serene Island.

It was said their standard of living continued to improve until the woes of their past were distant memories. Everything changed when Ishgar experienced a historic famine that resulted in millions of people starving. The council couldn't afford to extend its protection to so many countries, and since Serene was a territory, the government decided to withdraw their troops. Several crews of pirates struck after the Rune Knights were recalled. They plundered many villages and killed thousands of people before meeting their end at the claws of the demons they'd awoken deep in Serene's jungle. Those demons would push the citizens to the coasts

If only Serene Island had agreed to become more than a territory before it was too late. He supposed it wasn't fair to blame them for fearing to have their freedom stripped from them after decades of occupation. The people of this island were citizens. They have to become citizens, but it won't be easy to convince mainlanders the citizens of Serene should have equal status and representation on the council as every other country.

To this day, citizens of Ishgar's mainland considered Serene Island a land abandoned by the gods. As long as anyone knew, monsters called the island home. The vicious demons and tenacious beasts that dwelled deep in the forests and hills in the island's center were formidable and possessed forms of magic most mages would never see in their careers. Those creatures and the pirates that ravaged the island from time to time had many mainlanders convinced the island wasn't worth saving. Dad did like to say nothing worth doing is ever easy.

Naruto opened the door. "Kurama get up! We're meeting the Fairy Tail guy for breakfast!"

"No," Kurama mumbled. Naruto rolled his eyes. He grabbed the blanket and yanked it. Blank sheets greeted him.

"You can't be serious," Naruto deadpanned. "You hid so you could sleep in."

"Maybe."

"Whatever," Naruto sighed. He headed toward the door. "I guess I'll go alone. I think I'll take that stuffed toy with me… It's cuter than you are anyway."

"You traitor!" Kurama roared as he sprang from beneath the bed with his teeth bared. Naruto grabbed him by his nape. "I can't believe I fell for it again," Kurama muttered.

"I can't either," Naruto said with a shrug while stepping out the door. "I don't even have any stuffed animals." Naruto placed Kurama on his shoulder, ignoring the glare his partner was giving him as he walked up the wall of the inn.

"Sometimes I think we should just settle down in a peaceful place like this, " Kurama sighed.

"Seriously?" Naruto blinked. "You really mean that?"

"Hell no! Now get me to that cafe!" Kurama said as he pointed toward the cafe.

"Wait, you remember where the cafe is after six years? Food and sleep are the only things you care about, aren't they?"

"You know they are. Now get moving, " Kurama ordered. Naruto rolled his eyes and leaped from the inn to a nearby home. Moments later, he landed in front of the café. Traveling this way is so much better than walking. Above the entrance to the café, there was a tablet with a green-skinned, blue-eyed woman who had vines that reached the back of her knees atop her head instead of hair.

"Serena's Cafe," Naruto murmured. "That name… I feel like I should remember it."

"You should. Serene is named after her," Kurama grunted, pointing at the tablet. "Serena was one of the Eighteen War Gods of Magic. She protected the people of Serene and taught them the plant magic they use to this day. This island was free as long as she was alive."

"Oh right, James talked about her," Naruto said, tapping his chin in thought. I still don't get why he'd want to resurrect a goddess to fight her. Naruto strode into the cafe and returned the cheerful greeting he was given. In a corner across the restaurant, sat a man with a blue bandana, a green mask that obscured most of his face, a dark blue cloak, and had bandages covering the majority of his limbs. The magic staves at the man's side confirmed his identity. Naruto sat in the booth across the masked man.

"You're Mystogan? Nice to meet you," Naruto said, smiling. "I'm Naruto. This guy's name is Kurama."

"Mystogan," Mystogan's dark eyes watched him carefully. Even though his voice was muffled, it was easy to tell it was a bit deeper than average, and his tone was calm and measured. "It's a pleasure to work with you, Councilor."

"No need to lie, we know you didn't want to come," Kurama smirked. Naruto glared down at him, which the demon fox ignored. "Makarov warned you not to trust us, didn't he? He told you being requested to join a Counselor on a mission couldn't bode well for you, or the guild," he chuckled. "I'll bet he's worried we're gonna crack down on Fairy Tail. Your master is quite paranoid, isn't he?

Mystogan tensed, glaring at Kurama, and Naruto sighed. I should have seen this coming. While his father and Makarov hadn't ever been on the best terms, his mother hated Makarov and Kurama did too. The time since his mother's death was the blink of an eye to a millennia-old demon. Naruto clapped his hands, drawing the attention of everyone in the cafe. "How we got here doesn't matter. We're here now, and we need to work together. That's all that matters."

Mystogan slowly relaxed, unclenching his fist and leaning back in the booth, Kurama turned to look out the windows, and Naruto smiled. "Now, if you don't mind, I'd like to know a bit more about your sleep magic."

"Before that, I take it you've already looked into my general fighting style?" Mystogan asked. Naruto nodded. "Good. My sleep magic is a light magic based barrier spell that affects all who are within it."

Kurama narrowed his eyes. "Is it stronger if you focus on one target?"

Mystogan shook his head. "The number of targets doesn't matter. The size of the barrier is what determines the strength of the spell. The larger the barrier, the weaker its effect will be."

"That's… totally awesome!" Naruto cried. Mystogan's eyes widened. "I've never heard of a light spell like that, ya know! Did you make it?"

"Er, well, my grandmother created it."

"I've gotta meet her!" Naruto grinned.

"I don't think you'll be able to," Mystogan said while averting his gaze.

"Oh, I get it," Naruto winced. "My condolences."

"She isn't dead," Mystogan huffed.

"Just nod and say yes every so often. He'll never know you're not listening," Kurama yawned. Naruto pouted.

Mystogan cleared his throat. "Anything else before we eat?"

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A light, warm gust blew through the street, sending the leaves rustling. Kurama narrowed his eyes. I know I felt something lurking around this town. He hissed and swatted a pebble in his path. If I could still sense negative emotions, this would be simple. He lowered his snout to the earth and sniffed. Nothing here either. Kurama continued to search slowly with his snout lowered and his ears twitching at the slightest sound. After several minutes of searching and weaving through the people walking in the roads, he felt strong magic to his left.

It might be a good thing there aren't any humans down this road. It was at that moment he saw something black that appeared to be slithering like a snake. Kurama's eyes widened when it disappeared into the shadow of a large building.

He turned to face the building, his eyes darting around the shadow, then he noticed part of it moving. Kurama crouched. Whatever it was, it hadn't realized he'd seen it. It slithered behind the building almost silently; then he felt another small burst of magic. A crack like thunder made Kurama stiffen as the building shook.

"Outside! Everyone!" Pierce barked. That's where the militiamen were meeting? Men poured out mere moments later; then a hiss came from behind the building. A chill fell upon them, drawing shudders from the militiamen, as the warm breeze disappeared — a giant four-fingered black hand wrapped around the building's corner creating cracks in the stone. Men paled, cursed, and Kurama could feel his heart speeding up. This is no ordinary demon…

Another hiss, a moment of silence, and it stepped into view. It was a pitch black reptilian creature that had a broad, flat head, and silver eyes. It must have stood over eight-feet tall on its two legs, and the muscular tail that was whipping behind it was as long as it was tall. What caught his eye were the enormous scales that were a deep gray and covered the beast's limbs. Those black scales may look like any other lizard's; those gray scales the size of small plates almost look like a knight's armor. Those scales might resist cutting and piercing attacks. Kurama took a few steps back into a bush. He needed to observe its fighting style before Naruto came.

The men trembled as black energy seeped from its hide. Its silver eyes narrowed as it took a step forward. Five militiamen turned and fled. The demon's eyes lit up while Pierce paled. "You fools! Don't show it your back!"

Five black rivers of energy burst from the demon's shadow and slithered across the earth until they touched the shadows of the men running. They froze, their mouths open as though they were attempting to scream, but no sound came. Black tendrils from beneath their feet rose to envelop them before the men sank into their shadows.

The demon rumbled, its lips twitching up as though in a smile, then it turned to the other militiamen.

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Hope you enjoyed it.