I didn't expect this.
Seems my "Remnant" story blew up overnight. Also, judging by all the private messages I received...
...some VERY VOCAL PEOPLE felt bad about the complete and utter thrashing Cinder received in "Remnant" and insisted I give her a story of her own. I wasn't keen on that idea at first, quite opposed to it, as a matter of fact. But then someone suggested this, both the title and the idea, and I found myself going along with it anyway. Although we know precious little of her past, perhaps she does deserve a chance at redemption. Or perhaps she deserves to burn to cinders like her namesake. Who can say where this will lead?
Funny thing, I've already written it out, so it won't affect my writing schedule overmuch. Its merely a matter of fine tuning chapters and then posting them.
Lets just say...this Naruto would scare Salem. For good bloody reason. Feel free to read on and see what I mean, dear reader.
Just like Remnant, updates for this will be bi-weekly, so worry not. I have a plan. And a draft already written out.
Fair warning here, this takes place after the events Volume 5 in RWBY.
Quote gives quite the hint as to how Naruto got here:
"How much longer must I endure? Its been ages. Everyone is gone.
My friends. My family. My world. Yet still I always remain.
I sealed her inside me. So long as I live, she cannot.
I am neither living nor dead now. I simply...am.
Its been so long. My watch has yet to end.
How much longer? When?
I'm tired. Let it end.
All Things Must Die
Cinder stirred slowly.
Shards of glacial pain stabbed through her good eye as she blinked away the cobwebs shrouding her vision, to no avail. She may as well have been wading through water for all it mattered. Try as she might her strength failed her, leaving her world swimming in and out of focus despite her best efforts to master herself. A slow blink sent a jagged spike of pain through her temple and elicited a raw gasp from the wounded maiden. Damnit. Everything. Hurt. Even the merest act of breathing threatened to send her body spiraling down into paroxysms of fresh agony and leave her paralyzed where she lay.
The same could not be said for her surroundings.
In hindsight, the room in which she found herself couldn't call the room anything but primitive. Four thatch walls topped by a straw roof and a rickety wooden frame. Even the floor itself was dirt. This wasn't a house. It wasn't even a cottage at that. This was some sort of shack, and her nose curled at the sight of it. Were it not for warmth of a small fire pit in the center of the room, she would have thought it a hovel. As things stood the flickering firelight cast an eerie glow across their room, playing tricks with the shadows, sending fingers of darkness trailing across the sole sheet shielding her bare skin...
"What the hell is this?!" she yelped! "Why am I naked?!"
With a snarl, the Fall Maiden jerked upright, flailing in her fury.
Only then did her memories finally return; she almost wished that they hadn't.
Cinder remembered now; because she had been beaten. Badly. A flood of recognition came rushing back, bringing with it the bitter pang of humiliation. Yes. There it was. That's right. She remembered. Raven. She'd made the mistake of goading her into a fight; one she wasn't prepared to win. Indeed, Cinder'd chosen her fight poorly and promptly paid the price for her folly. For all her might, she still tasted defeat. Near the end of their duel Raven had broken one of her leg and blasted a hole in her stomach, frozen her, then thrown her down a chasm. If it hadn't been for the water, she might've died. Even then she'd been on death's door. Somehow, she had clung on long enough to wake find an exit and haul herself back out into daylight.
Her last memory consisted of dragging her broken body across the road in the rain before the blackness claimed her.
Now she was lying here in a stranger's bed, trapped in some infernal hut in gods-knew-where.
For a fleeting instant she thought one of her allies had retrieved her.
Someone had certainly gone to great length to bandaged her wounds; when she glanced down she saw her broken leg sheathed in a cast; while much of her bloodied stomach and chest were likewise wrapped in a sheathe of fresh white bandages. With her aura at an all-time low, this rudimentary treatment would have to suffice for the time being. Still, who had done this? Emerald and Mercury didn't know a lick about medicine. Hazel...even less so. In her eyes-eye!-that one was a brute good for little more than destruction. Which brought Cinder to her next line of inquiry; who the devil did this?
Inhaling a second time now brought with it a faint aroma; one she vaguely recognized as stew, which in turn caused her recovering stomach to offer a plaintive growl.
She scowled at it, to no avail. 'Traitor!'
It only growled louder still.
Sure enough her gaze alighted upon a pot at the edge of the strange hearth; filled to the brim with vegetables and assorted meat. At least, Cinder hoped that was meat. The dim flames afforded precious little in the way of light at the moment, leading her to believe the hour was late. Her stomach protested once more, muscles threatening to clamp down as she tried to stand. Worse, her bad leg protested viciously when she attempted to put her weight on it, leaving her at something of an impasse. Still, she did have her arms...
She was just considering stealing it when someone spoke.
"Been awhile since I've seen someone with an arm like that." a man's dry, cracked voice arose from the dark. "You're a strange one."
All at once Cinder realized she wasn't alone. Instinctively, she arched her back and searched for a weapon. Nothing came.
"Now, now," the voice soothed. "There's no need for violence. I come in peace."
"You'll leave in pieces!" Cinder snarled, weakened Aura flaring.
"Braver souls have tried."
At first she hadn't seen her host; if only because he stood with his back to her and his clothes blended with the blackness. But she heard him now. She certainly heard him when he tossed another log into the fire. The faint scratch of a mortal and pestle captured her attention for a moment before its owner finally laid his tools to rest and turned to face her. Shadow and flame seemed to dance across his quiet countenance, briefly hiding it from view before he stepped into the light.
"Still, its good to see you're awake." the barest beginnings of a smile tugged at his face as he glided to her side. "I was beginning to think you wouldn't wake up."
A waspish retort leaped to her lips, only to a die a withering death when she beheld her host's countenance.
The first thing she noticed were the eyes; while the left stood blue as the ocean depths, the right shone an eerie rimmed shade of unholy violet.
She found herself gazing at a young man...at least, he appeared young behind that absurdly long beard of his. Filthy, too. Matted golden hair framed whiskered cheeks alongside a face smudged with dirt and ash, before tapering down his back in a jagged spiky mane even more untamed than the wilds in which she found herself. Clad in little more than a dirty black cloak, she glimpsed faded traveling leathers beneath, their color leeched away by time and use. They might have been orange, once. Still, those mismatching eyes were bright and sharp and they followed her when she attempted to sit up.
"Where am I?" she challenged, clutching the sheet to her chest. "Who are you?"
"You're in my home, girl." his mouth quirked in a small smile. "I'll thank you to show an old man some respect. As to who...well." slim shoulders rolled in a halfhearted shrug. "I tend go by "Doctor" these days. Old man, or Quack when one of my patients gets rowdy."
"I'd prefer a name." Cinder pursed her lips.
He tilted his head. "And I'd prefer you sit back down. You'll open your wound."
Reluctantly, she did as she'd been bade, though not without hesitation. Something about his words stuck with her, though.
He'd called himself old? This blond buffoon didn't look a day over twenty at best. His face was unlined and tanned, not a single wrinkle to be seen. If it weren't for the hair and that long, dragging beard of his, she might have dismissed his words outright. But his eyes told another story, one she was almost afraid to hear. What manner of fool called themselves old when they clearly were not? Was he made? Insane, perhaps? He certainly had the mad hermit look going for him and-
Her stomach chose that moment to growl again.
"Hungry, are we?" The Doctor favored her with a laugh. "Alright, then."
He turned his back to her without a second thought, dismissing her as no threat.
"I found you on the road and tended to your wounds." he strode back to the fire and began to ladle a fresh helping of stew into a wooden bowl from a nearby pot, a few waning shadows flickering from the fire over his back. "I brought you here for treatment. That was...hmm? Three days ago? Five? You've been out for quite some time, I'm afraid." Was it her imagination, or right eye seemed to burn just a bit brighter as he spoke? Surely not. "You talk in your sleep, you know." a lone blue eye gazed at her over his shoulder. "Might want to do something about that."
Heat rose to Cinder's cheeks but she banished it with a snarl.
...I take it you expect payment?" she scoffed softly.
He merely offered her the bowl and a spoon.
"Kindness is its own reward. Here."
Cinder snatched them out of his grasp, swept the spoon through the broth, and jammed it into her mouth. For his part, the doctor didn't look offended by her rudeness. He only favored her with a small smile and turned to fetch a bowl for himself. The Fall Maiden paid him no more mind than she would an annoying ant. Instead she turned her focus to the foot in front of her and pushed all thoughts of him from her mind. Why should she? He may have tended her wounds, but she felt she didn't owe him in the slightest. He only breathed at this very moment because she was feeling merciful. And, well...hungry.
"Its Naruto, by the way."
Cinder felt her ears perk up. Just a touch. "What? That's your name? Ha!" She actually laughed at him for it.
All things considered, the stew was rather good, if a tad too warm for her liking.
Without thinking, Cinder moved to cool it with her Maiden powers.
Nothing came. Annoyed by her weakness, she tried again.
Once more, she failed in this simple task.
Her lone eye widened.
A pit of dread opened in Cinder's stomach, gaping wide to swallow up all she'd ever known. When she tried to reach for her strength again, for the power of the Fall Maiden, her power, the power she'd fought so hard to claim, she found nothing. Only the faintest embers of her former might and her Semblance, smoldering quietly. At first, she felt only confusion. That didn't make any sense. Her powers weren't merely depleted; they were gone entirely. Vanished. In place of that all-consuming might, Cinder felt nothing but an empty void when she reached for them. Worse than that.
The bowl tumbled out of her hands and clattered to the floor, upending its contents into the dirt.
"Where's my power?" she barely choked the words out. "What happened to my power?!"
"Gone, I'm afraid." the blond answered. "You were quite dead when I found you."
Her gaze snapped back to the hermit with laserlike focus.
...what? What are you talking about?!"
"Did I stutter? " having finished his meal, the blond doctor had turned his back her and begun to work on another concoction of some sort, grinding the mortar against the pestle as he spoke with firm, precise movements in spite of hysteria. "You know, I had a rather difficult time reviving you at all. You should be grateful."
Cinder scarcely heard him.
"No, no, no! NO!" her hands, human and Grimm alike, tore at her hair as she shook her head. "This isn't happening! This can't be happening!"
And yet it was.
No matter how she tried, her strength never came. Only her Semblance and her own aura remained. Those would recover in time. But the power of the Fall Maiden...was gone. Forever. Merely thinking of it was enough to send her back into a spiral of despair. Her heart skipped a beat, them another. Another still. Panic overtook her as she looked this way and that, frantically seeking an escape from what she knew to be the truth. Stop! Try to think! Don't panic! You can get it back!
But it was so very easy to panic.
Salem would never forgive her for this. Not only had she failed to secure the relic, but she'd lost her power. Without it, they couldn't access the relic at Beacon. Assuming it was ever found.
She felt small without her Maiden powers. Tiny. Weak. Just as she'd been...before. It made her want to tuck her knees against her chest and curl into a ball. In a rare moment of weakness, he did just that. No. She wasn't weak. She still had her arm. Her skills. Her training. Her Semblance. She wasn't weak. No. Not weak. Never weak. Not again.
If the power wasn't here, wasn't with her, that meant it sought out someone else.
Her last thoughts hadn't been of Raven. For all the pain and humiliation the Spring Maiden had inflicted upon her, she still hadn't been in Cinder's final thoughts. No, her last spiteful recollection had been of...that girl. That damned girl. Little Red. Ruby Rose. Something broke deep inside of Cinder. It was known that a Maiden's power went to those she held in her final thoughts. Salem had all but drilled the knowledge into her; it had been a pivotal point in acquiring them from Amber in the first place. But now she had been defeated, she'd even died for a period of time, if Naruto was to be believed.
One only person was in her final thoughts.
The power had likely gone to her.
Ruby. Freaking. Rose.
Ever since her ignominious defeat at Beacon, that insipid little girl was always, always, ALWAYS lurking at the forefront of Cinder's mind. Which meant...which meant...! No. That was impossible. Destiny couldn't possibly be so cruel as to do this to her. But it was. And it had. Her hands went limp at her sides as this awful realization dawned. Then her entire world went red as she pictured the huntresses's insufferable face, imagined her smiling at her-no, laughing at her, that blasted girl, that damn BRAT...!
Fear and Wrath writhed inside her like twin snakes, threatening to swallow her whole.
Quite simply. Broke.
Someone was screaming; it took Cinder several seconds to realize it was her.
She was still screaming when five firm fingers knifed into the side of her neck and knocked her out.
And there, from that single solitary moment, her entire world began to change. But for good or ill, who could say?
A/N: Don't worry about Naruto's messy appearance he'll be back to normal soon enough.
I think I just broke Cinder.
Before anyone asks, AGAIN, I've already written this out.
Its merely a matter of fine tuning chapters and then posting them.
You can expect a PURE RWBY story soon, which has also been written in advance.
Well, let's hope that one doesn't get me murdered. Its going to be...a different take, to say the least.
That's right, she perished and lost her Maiden powers; its STRONGLY hinted that she was revived by the Rinnegan after that fact. Aaaand to add insult to injury, those powers went to little miss Ruby Rose. Time will tell if Cinder takes this chance to reflect upon her fate or...well. She's never taken defeat well, has she?
You'll have to read on to find out her fate won't you?
So lets clarify some things real quick; this iteration of Naruto, due to circumstances that will be explained, had no choice but to seal Kaguya inside himself to prevent her from running amok. That is not a good idea under normal circumstances, Unfortunately in doing so, he accidentally gave himself immortality on the level of Salem and then some. He can't age. Nor can he die. These days he's just a humble sage trying to eke out a living while searching for a way to both destroy himself and the crazy goddess inside of him. He left his world to keep it safe.
Because. Kaguya. Wants. Out.
And if she has her way, the world of Remnant is in for hell.
If folks don't like this, I'll delete it in a day or so.
So in the Immortal Words of Atlas...
Review...Would You Kindly?
Here's a preview~!
Of course, I haven't forgotten Ruby and the gang...
"Weiss, Weiss! Haaaaaaaalp! My hands are on fire again! Hothothot! Make it stop!"
Blake twitched. "Is she...going to be alright?"
"Don't worry," Yang barely looked up. "Eh, my baby sis' is tough. I'm more worried about Weiss-
A distant explosion drew a wince from all parties present.
Qrow palmed his face. "I need a drink...
"Coward. You have all this power, yet you refuse to use it."
"Sometimes the best action is inaction." came the reply. "I chose the latter."
"Then you're a fool, Naruto Uzumaki. Power is meant to be used, not hoarded away."
He rebuffed her with a gentle sigh. "We've been over this. You do not want the gifts I have to offer."
"Of course I do! You think hoarding power means you'll have it forever." her lone eye regarded him venomously as he continued to change her bandages with limpid sincerity. "But it just makes the rest of us hungrier. And I refuse to starve."
A muscle jumped in his jaw. "Stop being melodramatic and let me do my job."
Cinder spat at his feet in mild derision, but didn't refuse him when he began to wrap a fresh poultice around her waist. Her lone eye never left him, watching every moment until he finally completed his task. The moment he did she tried to jerk away from him, only for him to seize her human hand in his. For a moment, just a moment, the tan flesh of his palm gleamed a ghastly white.
"You think you know power? You think you could bear my burden and survive. You know nothing." the words escaped him in a low snarl as his fingers tightened around her heel. "Salem? Grimm? Don't make me laugh." White eyes regarded her with the weight of a thousand worlds, and still, he didn't relent. "I could crush your Master and lock her away in an instant; seal her in a place so cold and dark that she'd never see the light of day. "
Just like that, he released her, the ghastly pallor fading from his visage as he smiled. "But if I did that, I'd unleash something far worse on this world."
"You have people who care about you. For instance-
As if waiting for that very moment, the door leading to the hut crashed open, spilling daylight into the darkened room. Not a heartbeat later, a teary green-and-tan blur shot across the room to cannon into her chest. The Sage favored her with a dry look that spoke volumes. Gods, she wanted to burn him alive. But where had Emerald come from? In the end, his smile answered her.
"I never said you were my only patient."