(A/N: I am going to go out on a limb here and guess that some people might not like this chapter so much. It is mostly due to the fact this chapter is more of a filler to set up the next chapter or two since this section is important to the story. While I hope you enjoy it, I can understand if you don't given even I don't like filler arcs. But here's the latest chapter!)
It was a heavily raining day in the Village of Iron, but the weather fit the mood of the people who resided within the place…
It had been a few days since the attack on their home, which ultimately ended with the death of Mifune himself before the men who attacked them left since he had been their target from the beginning. There had been a massive funeral for the man, with many of his loyal samurai holding his coffin to place it in his final resting place. Naruto had been the one to lead them to his grave, and all the while the tears would not stop flowing since Mifune had given him a life worth living, yet he had not been there to defend his home when they needed him the most. Instead he had been out adventuring when he should have stayed here. He was a samurai, not a Shinobi so this was a clear sign to remain home from now on unless he needed to leave for a mission or aiding people.
But after the funeral was done with, the people dispersed all the while wondering on just what they were going to do now since they were without a leader of any sort. But for now they would rest in hopes that things would be fixed soon. And as they left, Naruto stayed kneeling at his teacher's grave, all the while holding the sheath that contained Mifune's broken blade. From what he had learned, the men who had attacked had cut through it in their fight, thus breaking it in half.
Karen had been there along with Naruko as he simply sat there. But Karen took the hint of Naruto wanting to be left alone to grieve, so she took Naruko elsewhere to do something to lift her spirits a bit. Naruto had sat there in that spot for a full day and a half, all the while it began to rain heavily upon him. Yet he did not budge from his spot and remained there until his mind became clear to properly think. It was there that he swore he would avenge Mifune personally, and with a fire of vengeance now burning within his soul, he knew what he needed to do first.
So for the past day and a half, Naruto had been in a blacksmith's workplace forging himself a new blade using Mifune's broken one for the metal. He had the blacksmith himself explain the process, all the while admiring the young man's desire to forge it himself. The blacksmith had offered to do it given it was his profession, yet Naruto had said he would forge the blade with his own two hands. He was warned that given his inexperience he would more than likely hurt himself in the process, but Naruto didn't care. As he said, he was not here to defend his home from intruders and so people died. He would bear any pain he received without complaint to atone and remind him what it was he was going to do once his blade was forged.
Naruto had at first melted the metal of the now broken blade into a mold to make it into a bar he could mold, but as he did a thought came to him. He pulled out his shard of Gashi and smiled as he dropped it into the molten metal as well. He saw as the orange molten liquid turned white for a brief second before it went back to how it looked before he added the shard. Once the metal had fully cooled into a metal ingot, he punched the mold with his bare hand to break it open. It wasn't too hard to do since he was insanely strong, plus it was easier than chiseling it out.
Naruto heated the ingot in an open hearth as he watched it heat up. He waited until the heat of the material was nearing 1,600 degrees to make it malleable for forging and to remove impurities. During the heating process, substances like sulfur and silica will oxidize and separate from the iron, creating slag. The removal of slag greatly strengthens the steel. Naruto felt as though he was being taught by Mifune all over again as he made this blade. Sure it was the blacksmith who was telling him, but it was still a nostalgic feeling all the same.
He then pulled the heated material from the hearth when it becomes a yellow-orange hue and put it on an anvil to begin forming it. This was the part where he screwed up quite a few times, with one of them causing his hand to bleed from the damage done. But Naruto bore through the pain and would simply go back to step one when it failed. Unexpectedly his blood got into the mix as he melted the metal for the fourth time, and it turned the metal jet black to the surprise of not only himself but the blacksmith as well. He had heard of people putting blood into a blade for certain reasons, but never had he heard of this happening to them. He had no explanation as to what had happened, but Naruto took an easy guess.
His magical power was darkness, and so apparently it was in his blood. Said metal was imbued with the chakra leeching hunger of Gashi, but Naruto had been injecting magical power into it for years. So sensing a familiar power, it absorbed it like it had before, thus causing the metal to turn black like it had. This made Naruto smile since it seemed like his old blade still remembered him so to speak if that was the case.
So Naruto once more heated the metal to begin forging it into a proper blade, but this time he was taken back a bit by the fact the fires themselves turned blue as he put the metal into the hearth to heat it up. The blacksmith was utterly speechless at this point and simply left the room since he had nothing to say on the matter and needed a drink to process this. Naruto was indifferent to this since he had seen stranger things in his life so this was not really that surprising to him. But as he finally took the metal out once it was properly heated, which once more was odd given instead of orange in color it was white, it was like someone, or something began to guide his hand as he forged his blade properly this time.
It took a bit, but eventually the blade was forged and Naruto plunged the newly forged blade into the barrel of water used to do just that. Once cooled, Naruto smiled as well as laughed as he saw the blade he had made for himself, and for some reason he felt as Mifune's spirit was laughing with him. The old man had always told him that when it came to tasks like this that took intense amounts of concentration he was terrible at concentrating long enough to do them. Well he showed his old teacher now didn't he?
But even though the blade was now forged, he needed a handle that would go well with it. But luckily for him, the blacksmith had been busy making a hilt for his blade while Naruto had been busy making his blade. The man had been crying anime tears over the fact that Naruto had shown him things no other blacksmith had ever seen, even going so far as offering to take Naruto as his apprentice to learn the trade fully if he so wished. But Naruto politely declined and stated he was a samurai through and through, which the blacksmith could respect. So he showed Naruto the hilt he made, and dear Kami it was the perfect design for his blade.
It was a white colored hilt, which was a complete opposite of the jet black blade he would place into it, and, with his black bull head in the center of it engraved with metal. The guard was an elaborate design that showed two dragons, one of silver while the other gold were entangled in battle forever more. The scabbard matched the hilt of the blade perfectly in color, like it was made with the same coloring materials, but that wasn't possible given the ways to make such a thing differed greatly from that of a hilt.
Naruto thanked the man as he placed the blade into the hilt as well as through the guard to complete his new blade once and for all. But now that the blade was done, now came the bigger question of just what to call this new blade of his? He couldn't call it Gashi anymore since it was only a small shard of his old blade that made this one, nor could he call it Kurosawa since that blade was Mifune's not his. But as he thought about it, a name came to him, that while it was simple it still spoke volumes the more you thought about it:
That was the name of his new forged blade. All it meant was 'black', which was perfect given the jet black color of the actual blade, yet it also described the magic he used while wielding it as well as the black you would see upon death as the blade ended your life. He could go on with the description, but now was not the time for that.
So with a new blade in hand, he made his way home to assure his cousin and little sister that things were alright and apologized for being such a downer for the last few days. Karen simply nodded since she knew that the loss of someone close hit you hard, so she understood why he had been that way. Naruko had simply hugged him, but then pouted as she all but demanded ice cream as an apology. Naruto had laughed since his sister's obsession with the sugary treat was funny to him. So after he bought her her frozen treat, which she began to lick like crazy, Naruto told them he would be back in a bit since he had to go meet with some people for the moment.
As Naruto had been grieving as well as forging a new blade, the other samurai, or at least the strongest ones all had been discussing who would take charge of the village. Mifune had never gotten around to naming a successor in the time of his demise, so this made the process complicated since the man had left such big shoes to fill with his death. So they had been arguing and bickering on the subject for days with no clear resolution in sight. This was the sight that Naruto had walked into as he entered the meeting. He had stood against the wall for about an hour before he made himself fully known to them and stated he would take over for Mifune. This had stumped the others given his age, but Naruto mentioned how he was the only student Mifune had ever taught so why not him.
While the samurai of Iron village admired the young man for overcoming every major obstacle thrown his way since they could remember, they told him that leading the village was a bit too much for him to handle. Naruto had simply smirked as they had said that and proposed a proper means to decide the one to take charge instead of bickering like children. The samurai were all ears now, since they had to admit they were going nowhere the way they were doing it…
So it was decided that a tournament would be held, with any and all samurai able to participate. The winner would become the leader. The news had reached everyone in the village, and they all agreed with it since in uncertain times like this they needed strong leadership, and this way not only would they get that, but they would be entertained while they did it. So it killed two birds with one stone.
The people cheered as they saw the various samurai they have known for years fight one another for the honor of taking the seat left by Mifune. The samurai went all out to display their skills, since they would have to prove to the people watching that they were strong enough to lead them if they won.
But while they all fought well given they had been trained into the ground from an early age to become the veteran that they were, none fought as Naruto himself did. The young man defeated one samurai after another with ease, thus eliminating the weaker ones from the roster early on. But as he went against stronger opponents he put more effort into the fights since it was necessary. The people had been in awe of his new blade from the moment they saw its color, and since the one who wielded such a blade was as skilled in its use it almost appeared like a dance of sorts.
Naruto had gotten far in this tournament, like many had guessed he would given his reputation as well as who his teacher was, but even they were shocked to see some of the skills he had showcased for them.
When Naruto had learned about his ability to use chakra once more, albeit in an unusual manner given his magical power was mixed in and making it into something else entirely, he wondered just what element he had to use. He had always heard about the various elements one got from it, with there being cases of multiple or bloodlines strengthening a single one beyond what was considered normal. So he bought a piece of Chakra paper and pulsed his power through it. What happened was the thing disintegrated before his very eyes is what. Naruto had to buy a few more pieces of chakra paper to see if this was right, and each and every one of them had disintegrated like the first one had. He had asked the man selling them just what the hell that meant for him, but the man had been surprised to see that happen.
While he had heard of chakra paper getting destroyed like he had done, there was always usually something left there to show what they had as an affinity. But Naruto's affinity was so strong it literally decimated the paper without a trace of it remaining. Apparently Naruto had the rarest affinity of all, being Wind, which allowed him to amplify his slow moving dark slashes which was a major improvement to what they used to be like.
Naruto also learned to use simple air swipes for a far less lethal attack towards his opponents, which was perfect for right now given he was not out to kill anyone. This was a tournament, not a fight to the death. So utilizing his newly awakened power, albeit watered down by a lot, he defeated the samurai he was pitted against one by one until he finally went face to face with none other than Jun himself. The man was one of the men who helped teach him when he was young, and Naruto had lots of respect for the man. So Naruto showed the proper respect to his teacher by going all out in this fight and held nothing back other than a killing blow.
Jun had put up quite a fight, with Naruto actually receiving a few wounds of his own to show for it, yet Naruto showed him he had an ace up his sleeve and channeled power into his body as well as his blade. The power enhanced his speed beyond what it had been before with his eyes being filled with what appeared to be black flames that flowed from them, but the power in his blade took on a more physical appearance as he surged forward. Jun could only look on in shock and awe as he saw what appeared to be the spirit of a dragon of all things engulfing the blade that was currently coming at him, and even though he used his blade to block the attack, it wasn't enough to stop it and was launched back by the sheer amount of power that went into the strike. Jun had hit the wall of the arena hard, and thus fell unconscious due to the pain he was in.
The people all got up and cheered as Naruto raised his blade to the sky, and as they cheered, the samurai who had lost all came forward and bowed as one. Naruto had won the tournament, and as such he was now the leader of Iron Village. So Naruto went over and picked up Jun and carried him home to sleep off the damage done to him. It wasn't anything too serious, but he did have a massive headache for the next day at least. Even Jun came to give him his respects after his headache was gone and went on to state that the boy who had come to them with the world's worst handicap had yet ceased to amaze him to this day.
So with the leadership of the village now in order, Naruto had called for a meeting between the higher ups of his village to see where they stood. While the attack had done some serious damage to a few buildings as well as ended in the death of too many innocents to get to Mifune, their village as a whole was not suffering from it. Sighing a quick breath of relief that that was the case at least, he ordered for scrolls to be sent out to the Kages of the villages for a Summit to discuss a major threat to the world. The men he ordered to do so left the room to do as ordered, and Naruto simply smirked as he sat in Mifune's old chair and looked out at the village below.
Naruto wondered if Mifune had any idea of Naruto taking over the village like he had, but that was a question he would get answered when he himself died and met the old man in whatever afterlife there was. But for now, he decided to train since while he was strong as he was already, he was not at his peak strength. One of the most crucial lessons taught to him was that no matter how strong one was, there would always be someone, or something stronger than you so train diligently to ensure that the number of things only remained at the one. He had taken to this lesson quite well, mainly since he had met as well as received his magical power from an entity far stronger than he was who helped him twice now. True, the Grimoire has been the source of his magical power, Paragon had been the one to provide the thing that was not even from his dimension.
So Naruto made his way towards his own private training ground, which used to belong to Mifune who hadn't been using it as much in his later years. Naruto had to have some people fix it up, but it wasn't that big of an issue.
So Naruto walked into his training room and looked upon the large solid cube of steel that lay in the center of it. He had the thing made since the last one he had sliced cleanly in half. Out of the many skills of a samurai, the ability to cut through steel was one of the hardest to master. His new blade was strange for him to handle, yet felt like he had used it before at the same time so he knew he had to practice with it better than he had before. He had won the tournament through sheer strength and basic skills, but there were stronger opponents who that would not work against.
So Naruto unsheathed Burakku and held it with his hand to fully get a feel for his new blade. He took a deep breath and then swiped at the steel cube. The blade cut into it, but only got about one third of the way through before it got stuck. Naruto simply smirked as he saw that he had at least cut that deep. When Mifune had taught him this, he had barely nicked the damn thing.
Memories of his lessons came flooding back to him all at once, and he saw himself as he was back then when he had first begun training under Mifune. The old man had told him it was possible to cut through it, but Naruto, being the young idiot he was back then, told him he was full of shit. Mifune had simply smirked as he made a bet with Naruto, with the loser having to do an excruciatingly painful exercise that had you in the pushup position from an elevated height. But the part that made it painful was the fact you were forced to hold onto small wooden blocks that all your weight would be pushing down on. Naruto had accepted the bet like an idiot, and he would always remember the open mouthed look he had when he saw Mifune slice the block clean in half in a single swipe.
Naruto had taken his punishment for doubting his teacher's words, and had tried to do the same for years. He failed time and time again, even with a blade that was capable of doing so better than most. He was taught that it was more of a state of mind than raw physical strength that allowed one to accomplish such a feat, and only when the two were in balance could he achieve it.
Naruto knew that the reason he was not able to cut this block of steel like he had years ago was that his mind was too clouded at the moment. His strength had allowed him to cut halfway through, but like Mifune said, strength was only half of it. So Naruto sighed since he needed to clear his mind before he was truly ready to do it again.
Many things had changed since his fight with Moryo, the main being his Grimoire was gone. This had shocked him since the book had been his source of power since he drew his magic from the thing. But somehow he was able to use magic like he had before without it. While that bit was shocking, it also was extremely useful to know since his one major weakness had been having his Grimoire taken from him like Orochimaru had done and Kushina had tried to do. Not like it would have done anything for them since not only was he the only person capable of reading the thing, but if he had died the thing would have gone up in flames like it was supposed to when Yami died.
Yet he knew he had to learn to channel his power better than he could already. Using the magic he had for years was second nature to him, but it was reeling back the amount of power he put into the attacks that became an issue. He knew he had his chakra back, which was something he never thought he would get, which made a few questions raise in his mind given his lack of the energy had given him a few unique advantages. So he had found the same samurai who he had trained with years ago who was an excellent sensor. To his delight, apparently even with his chakra back he was still undetectable as he was before. This was more than likely due to the magical power mixed in, yet he was not sure. He even used a sensor seal to see if he could still walk past them like before, and he could. So at least that one major question was answered, but now he had a lot more going through his mind. Paragon had explained a lot about his power to him, but it was quite a lot and it was coming back to him a little at a time, mainly due to him being a hands on kind of guy instead of a book learner. Ironic given his main power at one point came from a book of all things…
So Naruto stood in the center of the room and took another deep breath as the memories of Paragon's teachings came back to him...
"The first step a warrior must do with the energy you have is to harness it, learn to control it as well. At the moment your power is in an uncontrollable but stable state. If you can harness and control it then you will be able to notice a significant difference in your attacks. Once you have controlled such power you can do many things such as emit a barrier…'
Naruto held out his hand and channeled his power through his hands to try and make a barrier with it. He felt as the energy within him rushed outwards towards the point he was channeling it to, and it made controlling it akin to holding back a raging river with just about anything large and handheld. Or to put it simply, hard as hell. But after taking several deep breaths he was able to control the flow for just a bit and from his hand a barrier became visible. Yet unlike his usual Black Cocoon he used to do this, this one was far more powerful, yet not as dark in color with it being more of a transparent grey of all things. But he could only hold the thing in place for a small burst of time, which he knew he would have to work on...
While he had been able to sense Ki before all this was, he wondered just how much that ability had been enhanced with his power. The way he had seen it before was like being in a dark room with balls of light representing people all around him showing glimpses of those wishing to attack him so he could counter their attempts. Now… now his ability was far better than before.
He was able to basically send out a pulse of all things, which made him think about how bats saw things, and this way he saw everything in such details that went beyond what he was normally able to do. He was not sure just how useful this ability was now, but he had time to learn.
'And even locate hidden entrances and do many other things. However the main thing you MUST control is your emotions. If you lose it then your energy can fluctuate and would damage both you and the area surrounding you. So I suggest you focus on controlling both of those aspects before you even experiment.'
Naruto sighed as he remembered that portion of the lesson since it seemed like everything always found its way back to the most basic of things which was control. Control your breathing, control your temper, control your stance… the list went on, but it was still always about control one way or another. Hell even when he forged Burakku it took control, which only further drove the point home!
'If you manage the basics like that you can enhance yourself beyond normal means. An example would be the Biju Mode of a Jinchuriki. When a Jinchuriki is at a suitable level they MUST be trained to properly handle their new power. Emotional outbursts or being unconscious can lead to their Biju controlling them making them become a puppeteer and touching their energy is like trying to touch acid or fire. But with a barrier around your person to protect yourself that can be negated entirely as long as you have the energy for it of course.'
That particular part of the lesson had appealed to him. He knew that at this very moment that Menma was doing all in his power to master the Biju inside him so as to grow stronger. The shame of losing to the disowned member of his family would weigh heavily on his psyche to the point he would do nothing else but train. So Naruto knew that one day he would face Menma again, and by then he would be a bigger threat than before. The main reason Naruto had won his fight was surprise alone.
When he had fought Shizuka, he had shown his speed was greater than they thought, and against Sasuke he showed the same thing about his strength. But it wasn't until his fight with Menma that he showed his true power. It was because Menma had not expected it that he had been hit with Naruto's magical power, as it was Naruto's mercy that Menma still lived. His blade had been still sheathed so the blow was not at full power. Now that they knew he was not so weak, the element of surprise was no longer with him, so the ability to cloak himself so as to not suffer any adverse effects against a fully trained Jinchuriki was a great asset...
'This will be the final part I will explain so listen carefully. Not only can you use the power to make things appear or enhance yourself but you can enter an "Enhanced State". You could call it a transformation or an alternate form, but reaching such a state would require one to either figure it out or break their very own limitations beyond humanly possible. I could show you such an example but I fear it would break your mindscape immediately. If you can manage to reach such a state using your power, then I will give you a sign of respect.'
Naruto simply smirked at that last bit since now it seemed like he was getting a repeat of Yami's one lesson he had seen in the man's memories…
Push past your limits…
Sometimes it seemed like the universe was on repeat with the life lessons, but he would learn them all the same. So seeing that learning to master his power required actually putting in the effort to do so, he flexed his muscles as he stood there and felt his power begin to cover him all over. But as he had been warned, it was hard to control, and not only that it was extremely painful as well. It felt like his skin was peeling off of the bone along with his muscles.
Naruto had to stop as he fell to his knees in pain. Words failed to describe what he was feeling, but the word painful did not do it any justice. This went beyond that. The old saying went that pain bred character or no pain no gain. If that was the case then dear Kami he would have so much to gain as well as becoming the best sort of character as he finally mastered this power. But in his state of coping with inhuman amounts of pain that would have any other man collapsing from it, one final memory had come back to him. He hadn't remembered it so well since he had been coming out of his comatose state by that point so things were a bit cloudy.
"It looks like you're about to wake up, so take my advice kid and use those lessons I taught you. Your power can be a curse as much as a gift. I may not have been able to show you some physical examples but the words can help you a lot. However if I find you abusing it, I will return and personally end you. And trust me, you won't see me coming."
Naruto had laughed at that last bit. Mifune had said pretty much the exact same words when he began training Naruto once Naruto could properly wield Gashi when he was eight. The man told him that the blade was far more dangerous than normal and he would kill Naruto if he ever went rogue with the blade and hurt innocent people. Naruto had no plans to do so, but the threat still lingered there to this day.
So now that his memories of his time in the mindscape were fully remembered, he felt more at peace in his mind than he was before. So he stepped forward and swung Burakku once more at the steel block. But this time he cut it cleanly through all the way…
Naruto had chuckled as he saw the top portion slowly slide off since he had cut at a slight angle so it did that.
"Well that is one lesson down," said Naruto with a sigh, "and now to master the other more painful ones…"
And so once more Naruto used his power to cover his body like before, and he would continue on with this form of training far into the night for many days. But he had time given the Kages wouldn't be there for a few weeks...
(3 weeks later - Meeting room)
The various Kages all sat at the wide circular table while looking at each other with mixed emotions on their faces. Pretty much all of them had some issue with another or two and it showed by the fact none of them were really talking to one another as they sat there.
Gaara was there with his sister Temari and his trusted Anbu Baki at his side. The two people he had the most issue with in this room were both Minato and Yagura. Minato was easy to understand since the pompous ass was knowingly crippling his home financially by taking most of the missions sent their way by the Wind Daimyo. He could easily say no, but Konoha had become greedy in the years since Hiruzen had been in charge of the village. Plus sprinkle on the fact that this man had caused his one and only friend Naruto so suffer like he had only solidified such hatred for the man.
Yagura though was another story, which wasn't as complicated as his hatred for Minato. Gaara was born with a bloodline, and Yagura not only hated those with such things, but had started a war in his own country to purge those who had them. It was easy to understand it when you said it.
The tension between Minato and A from Kumo and Onoki from Iwa was palpable. But then again after the ass kicking the man had given both of them it was understood just as much as Gaara's hatred for Yagura. So they all just sat there glaring at one another, but they were getting impatient on the matter. Hopefully Mifune would show up soon since in this room there were four Jinchuriki of all people within it and if it came to blows it would be disastrous. Sure Minato didn't bring Menma, who had been training nonstop ever since his loss at the tournament, but Kushina was with him and she was known to be able to hinder a Biju with her seals and chakra chains.
Eventually, the door opened, which caused everyone to look and see who arrived, and in walked Jun as the Kages all looked at the man.
"Sorry to keep you waiting," said Jun with a polite bow, "but our leader had to finish something important before coming this way."
"Why did Mifune summon us to a Summit of all things," demanded A, who said basically what was on everybody's mind right now. "The scroll made no mention on the subject other than 'a grave matter that needed to be dealt with.'"
"I'm not sure how to answer that," said Jun with a shake of his head, "since Mifune was not the one to send out those messages."
"Is that some sort of joke," asked Minato with a raised eyebrow, "since this scroll clearly has the seal of Mifune on it."
"That is not the seal of Mifune," said Jun politely, "that is the seal of the leader of Iron Village, and Mifune is not our leader anymore."
There was a brief moment of silence before all the people in the room shouted at once…
"Mifune was killed in battle several weeks ago," said Jun sadly. His death was still a painful subject for the citizens of Iron village, "and it was our new leader that sent those messages out to you all."
"So who exactly is this new leader of yours," asked Gaara in wonder. His village had far better ties with them than any of the others so it made him wonder where their standing was now given a new leader could mean someone who utterly hated Suna for whatever reason.
"That would be me," said a new voice as yet another person walked into the room in full view of the people inside. To say that their eyes, well all except Jun since he knew who it was, opened wide in shock was a vast understatement on the matter. It was like their eyes were trying to jump out of their heads like in some sort of cartoon or something.
"I… wha…" was all Gaara was able to sputter out since this was not what he was expecting. For a guy who was mostly emotionless a good chunk of the time, it was funny to see him like this. Temari was speechless just like he had been, but with a heavy blush on her face that made it all but impossible to speak. For standing there was none other than Naruto himself.
He had changed his outfit a bit to fit the role he now played. He wore the same kind of shirt he wore before, but he wore a cloak with a hood that bore the Black Bull he used as his own. He also wore a belt with the buckle that was inscribed with the Iron Village symbol. The man had his hood down, and was lighting up the smoke he had in his mouth with his personal lighter as he stepped forward.
"Glad you could all make it here," said Naruto as he saw the looks given to him by everyone. Gaara's were a bit humorous to him, Temari was about the same she always was around him, which was to say red in the face angry at him to the point she couldn't speak to him for reasons he couldn't understand, and Minato and his wife were glaring at him with so much hatred. But given what he did to Menma as well as Naruko being with him kind of made it easy to guess where their hatred was stemming from. "My name is Naruto Sukehiro. And as my friend here mentioned, I am the newest leader of Iron village."
He walked forward so that they could all clearly see him, and as he did, he saw Onoki from Iwa looking at him with a very confused look on his face. The elderly man was looking back and forth from him and Minato, which Naruto could understand why given the history his former father had with their village. Minato was just about to say something when Naruto held up his hand and continued.
"Before either you or the Tsuchikage start," said Naruto as he pulled out his cigarette and blew out smoke through the side of his mouth, "let me just tell you Hokage to shut up and listen, and for the Tsuchikage who is confused allow me to explain."
"How dare…" started Minato, who would not be talked down to by someone he not only saw as inferior by profession, but in life as well. Naruto simply smirked as he clicked his fingers. Two blades were placed at Minato's throat by two different samurai the second he did.
"Please refrain from sudden anger bursts like that," said Naruto simply, "this is neutral ground here. So leave any and all problems with people outside." Naruto then clicked his fingers again, and the swords were removed from Minato's neck. The man wouldn't admit it, but he had felt a small sliver of fear when they had been placed there since it had been so sudden. "But like I was saying, allow me to help you understand Onoki. The reason I look like this man right here is that at one point of my life I was regretfully called his son."
This bit of news made everyone in the room react in a different way. His samurai had known the truth for years since he had told them when he trained with them years ago. Gaara was passive on the revelation given he had heard this once already when the man had admitted it to them in some attempt to use family as a reason to get Naruto to go back to Konoha willingly. A was simply shocked given the fact that the son of one of the strongest Shinobi was a samurai was a bit much to process. Onoki was clenching his teeth in rage since his village hated… and I mean hated the Namikaze family line given the decimation one man had done to their village in the Third Shinobi War. To hear that another of them was the leader elsewhere did not bode well, and already the start of assassination plans began to form so that they wouldn't have a repeat of history. But those plans never came to fruition, and in fact disappeared entirely when he heard the next part.
"But you see," continued Naruto since he could already see Onoki getting mad at him for his relation to their most hated enemy, "This man did not see me as a son. In fact, at the age of seven he as well as his wife gifted the clan heir title to their other, and now only, son Menma. Their gift to me for my seventh birthday was disowning me and throwing me onto the streets in hopes I would die there and no longer be their problem. So since I am no longer a Namikaze or even an Uzumaki by law, I have taken up the last name Sukehiro. So believe me when I say I understand your dislike of the man, since he is an asshole to so many. But don't hate me for his actions, since I have no relation to the man anymore, nor will I ever since I don't care to."
Onoki's face was stuck in confusion right now. He had started to hate the young man just on the grounds of his relation to Minato, but that hatred was eliminated in the manner of seconds after it had begun. The boy apparently hated Minato as much as their village did, and given the reasoning he just heard it made perfect sense to him and his group.
"But that is not why I called for this summit," said Naruto as he sighed.
"Why did you ask us to come here," asked Gaara, who wanted to get this meeting on track instead of the people being at each other's throats.
"Well that is easy to explain," said Naruto, "you see Mifune was killed by two S ranked Shinobi from a group of them known to the world as the Akatsuki."
"The Akatsuki," said A with a laugh, "that group? You called us here for that?"
"I don't know why you are laughing," said Temari, who wanted her voice to be heard. She saw Gaara was getting mad at the Raikage's lax reaction to the group, but then again their village had yet to be attacked by them like Suna had. "They are not ones to be taken lightly. They attacked Suna and caused so much damage before they were finally stopped!"
"And this matters to us why?" asked A in a huff, "since your village is considered the weakest. Plus Iron Village is a samurai village, so it was due to their own weakness that Mifune died."
The various samurai all placed their hands on the hilts of their blades to attack the man who insulted their previous leader to their faces like that. But Naruto held up his hand to tell them to stay their hand.
"Raikage," said Naruto simply as he tilted his head in a manner you couldn't see his eyes, "while this meeting is on neutral ground, please refrain from insulting the samurai who inhabit it. Alive or dead, we are stronger than you Shinobi think. But on a side note…"
A felt a pressure unlike anything he had ever felt in his life all at once hit him. It made him slam his hands onto the table so as to steady himself. He looked up at Naruto, and that alone was hard to do since the pressure he was feeling made him submissive as all hell. It wasn't just him feeling this, but Bee and Yugito as well, with their Biju telling them to not say a word to piss this man off more than he already was. A had made his bed, let him deal with it.
But what A saw was Naruto staring at him with glowing white eyes that had no pupils to them, and the top half of his head was black to only make the whites of his eyes all the more ominous to look at. But the thing that really got to him was the very dark purplish aura that was coming off the young man in waves. It was thick to look at, and it formed into the barely visible image of a multi headed dragon of sorts. A had no reason as to why that was, or what power this kid had, but he knew he had fucked up majorly by insulting Mifune.
"Never insult Mifune in my, or any samurai's presence," said Naruto with a murderous laced voice, "since I will make you regret it for the rest of your life if you do. Then you will know what we supposedly 'inferior, weak' samurai are capable of."
A felt as the pressure he was under vanished just as quickly as it had hit him. And the moment it did he looked up and saw Naruto calmly smoking his cigarette like nothing had happened. But the others were looking at him a bit more with analytical eyes since what he had done was not something they expected from anyone other than maybe a trained Jinchuriki. How a samurai did it… they had no clue.
"What… how?" Was all A was able to even mumble in shock. In his as well as many of the other peoples' minds, this type of power was not something a samurai should wield like that. It raised so many questions that he had no means to answer, nor would Naruto tell him given his strength was his alone, or at least his and any child he may have in the future.
"My strength is my own," said Naruto simply since he wasn't going to speak on the matter more, "but if you still consider me weak in some fashion, allow me to educate you a bit. Two of the Kages in this room know of my strength, with Gaara being saved by me when the members of the Akatsuki attacked his home and defeated him. Were it not for me, I can only speculate on what they would have done. But given he is a Jinchuriki, it wouldn't have been good. Plus there was the time I beat one Menma Uzumaki Namikaze in one on one combat in front of about half his village. For those unaware of the matter, Menma is the Jinchuriki of the Kyubi, the strongest Biju, and I still beat him. Plus let's not forget I recently killed Orochimaru of all people. A man who no one here has been able to kill even though he was wanted just about everywhere. If that doesn't paint a perfectly clear picture of my strength and skill, then sir you are just blind."
A opened his mouth to say something in response, but in truth he had nothing he could say as a retort. The things Naruto stated did show that the young man had skills that were far greater than he assumed the peak of a samurai could achieve. Maybe he had been wrong in his assumptions about samurai being weaker?
"Why would the Akatsuki attack Iron country of all places though," asked Gaara, who was thinking about the situation as a whole, and his mind was drawing a big blank on the reasoning behind it. Shinobi didn't really attack Iron village since they stayed out of Shinobi matters. Sure there were fights between the two groups during missions, but that was just business. To attack someone in their own home turf was more personal than business.
"The reason for that took me as well as the others quite a bit of time to figure out," said Naruto as he pulled out a small book from his inside jacket pocket. Many of those who saw it easily recognized a Bingo Book when they saw it. But this one was so old and falling apart that it was a miracle that it remained intact as it was. "And I found this old Bingo Book by pure chance when going through the old man's old things. He had no family so we divided things to those who had memories with said things since it was better than rusting away or collecting dirt. But I found this, and it explained the reason behind the attack."
Naruto opened the book, but slowly as well as carefully since he didn't want the thing to fall apart in his hands. He opened the book to the page he wanted found and then placed the book on the table for them to all see. What Naruto showed them was a page on Mifune himself with a sizable bounty on his head.
"This book is from about 25 years ago," said Naruto, "and the bounty on his head had been issued by one Hiruzen Sarutobi from Konoha."
This revelation caused a few of the people to gasp since that made no sense. Sure there were rogue samurai, ronin, and the like who got placed in the book here and there. But even that was rare. Mifune was a man who ensured his home remained Neutral to all Shinobi affairs and only faced off against them when his home was threatened by outside forces. Most of the Kages respected the man too much to actually put a bounty on him like this, and if ever came the situation where they would have to fight, they would fight the man personally instead of sending others to do their dirty work. Mifune was not a threat to anyone who hadn't personally pissed him off.
"And while I'm not sure why Hiruzen did this," said Naruto with a shake of his head, "since the two people who could answer that question are both dead, it made me look into who else might have wanted a piece of him. It took a while, as well as paying quite a few people, but I got Bingo Books from all over from up to thirty years ago, and not one of them outside of Konoha had him in there. He still is, since he was still alive, so would you care to explain Minato, why a neutral samurai leader was being hunted by those you paid to do it?"
"How was I to know he was in there?" demanded Minato, who really hated the fact this brat was making him seem like such a bad guy. He might be the Hokage, but that bounty was from before his time as such and they remained there until the person was dead and the bounty collected.
"You are the Hokage, aren't you?" asked Naruto with a raised eyebrow, "and approving things like that are your job aren't they?"
"Yes, but that was an old bounty!"
"Excuses, excuses," said Naruto with a shake of his head. "But that is in the past now. The man is dead, and nothing can change that. But back to the reason I called you here. The Akatsuki are a threat that needs to be dealt with now before it is too late."
"And how have you come to this conclusion," asked Yagura, who was still growling to himself as this whole thing had gone on between Naruto and Minato.
"You are dealing with a group of S ranked Shinobi who are capable of massive amounts of destruction. They attacked Suna, and there were just two of them when that happened. They nearly succeeded in their mission to capture Gaara, but I was able to thwart them. There are more to this group, so what if they came in full to any of your village? You say that Suna is the weakest village and that is why they nearly lost, but if two people could do that, what are your chances if they come with more? What if there were five? Or a dozen of them all at once slaughtering your Shinobi? Are the hypothetical future losses worth staying out of this because of ignorance laced with your pride and ego?"
"Say we agree to help fight this supposed threat," said Onoki in thought as he was looking at the facts fully before he would make any sort of decision. "What is it that you are requesting?"
"I am asking for a few powerful Shinobi from any of the villages willing to aid me in this endeavor." said Naruto seriously.
"Aid you?" asked A in a bit of confusion, "It sounds like you are planning to go yourself and fight them."
"That is because I am," said Naruto in all seriousness, "I already managed to kill two of them, and so I am confident in my abilities. Now if you aren't man enough to do so, just come out and say that you're scared. I'm secure in my masculinity…"
Gaara laughed as he heard that since Naruto's response was out of nowhere and quite funny to hear. The room was too serious and so an insult like that lightened the mood a bit, with even Onoki cracking a smile as he heard it.
"Oh you little…" seethed A, who did not like being talked down to like this.
"What?" said Naruto with a smirk, "can't take an insult? I can and I have no qualms about insulting people to their faces who deserve it. You already think so low of me due to my profession, so your opinion can't really sink lower than it is."
"He got you there bro," said Killer Bee with a smirk of his own, "so just take a deep breath and take it nice and slow."
Naruto raised an eyebrow at this man's strange way of talking, but he was not one to judge since he had heard stranger manners of speech elsewhere.
"But I request any aid you are willing to offer," said Naruto who got back to the point since they were going far off from it at this point. "I don't need an army, just a few Shinobi with strength to their name. The people we are hunting down are strong, and I can't express that enough really. So instead of waiting for them to attack us, which leaves us at a major disadvantage given the casualties they could cause, let's take the fight to them to minimize the loss of life."
Naruto surveyed the room as he finished his piece, and as he looked around he saw a mixture of emotions on their faces. But he had said what he was going to say, and now came the moment of truth on whether or not he would receive aid from any of them.
"First I shall ask the Kazekage," said Naruto as he motioned with his hand towards Gaara, "will your village aid me in this mission?"
Gaara had simply chuckled as he heard his friend ask him to help. Naruto had to know the answer to this question before he even asked it, but he just had to be formal about it was all.
"Of course," said Gaara with a smile and a nod, "you have already aided me once against their forces and thus saved my life in the process. It is time I repaid the debt I owe you."
"Well then we have the aid of one village," said Naruto as he then looked towards Onoki, "now Tsuchikage, will you aid us in this mission?"
Onoki's face was at this moment fully unreadable. This was a bit unsettling to those witnessing it, but the elderly man's head was swimming with plenty of facts that he was trying to make full sense of at the moment. When the young man had first arrived, he had been confused as to why he looked like Minato of all people. Yet when Naruto had gone on to explain his relation to the man as his son, Onoki had been furious to begin with and was on the verge of forming plans to kill him before he became a threat like Minato was. But those thoughts had ceased the second the young lad had explained everything in full. And he honestly had to say the hatred he had for the man just for being born a Namikaze all but vanished as he explained how he was no longer one. So here he was conflicted as to whether or not to help the man who was once the son of his village's most sworn enemy. On the one hand it would put them in good relations with Iron Country of all things, which could be beneficial since their blacksmiths made the best blades in the entire Elemental Countries. Plus they had access to materials Iwa did not so trade would not be out of the question. But it was too much, and the boy wanted an answer now.
"Please grant me more time to come to a decision," asked Onoki.
"All right," said Naruto. He had always heard about Onoki being the fence sitter, but seeing it in person spoke more to his character than just hearing about it. The man was careful to weigh out all his options before coming to a decision, which Naruto could respect. "Mizukage, what say you?"
"No," said Yagura without any form of hesitation whatsoever.
"That was a fairly quick answer," said Naruto offhandedly, "but is there a reason behind your decision?"
"Where do I even start," growled Yagura in anger, "well let me start off with the fact my country is still in the middle of a Civil War so diverting my own Shinobi elsewhere is as stupid as it is idiotic. Then there is also the fact that quite a few of you are Bloodline users and I would rather end your lives here than help you in any way shape or form!"
"Well," said Naruto with a shrug of his shoulders, "at least you are an honest man, so you got that going for you in the end. So now we move onto the Raikage. Do you wish to help out here, or do you want to continue this pissing contest with me and you seem to be going through and trying to one up me by waiting it out and having these people attack your home? Is your ego capable of seeing so many dead when it could have been avoided?"
"You little…" started A, who was still so pissed about this brat. The boy had the gall to challenge him of all people, and that alone was bad enough. Yet him being a samurai as well as doing so in front of the other Kages only made it worse since it painted a picture he did not want seen by others. How would the world react if they learned a sixteen year old brat had challenged him like he had with no sense of fear? It didn't put A in a good light really. But he felt Bee put his hand on his shoulder, which helped him calm down. "Fine… My village will help you, but I want you to swear that upon the completion of this mission, you will return any and all Shinobi I lend you to take care of the Akatsuki."
"Done," said Naruto simply. His response shocked A a bit since he wasn't expecting such a fast response like that. Naruto picked up on his emotions and kept going. "Why are you surprised? We are samurai here, so just what the hell would I do with Shinobi? Come on now…"
"You made your point," said A, "so when exactly do you need my Shinobi to arrive. I just wish to know so we have the proper time to prepare."
"Well," said Naruto in thought, "I will ask that they be here in no more than three weeks. Time is of the essence here, and the sooner the threat is eliminated from the world the better in my book."
"Fine," said A, "I'll have Bee and Yugito come back fully prepared for a fight in time."
"So you are going to send your village's Jinchuriki to aid me?" asked Naruto with a voice laced in confusion. He was expecting A to send others, not just openly send his two most powerful Shinobi like that.
"Yes," said A simply, "since this group is hunting them anyway so as you said before it is better to bring the fight to them. Plus a group of trained Jinchuriki is a powerful group."
"I won't argue with you there," said Naruto with a chuckle, "and will simply say thanks for the support."
Naruto then finished the last bit of his cigarettes before he flicked the butt onto the ground and stomped the thing out. He then sighed a bit as he looked at the man he really didn't want to have to deal with, yet life always found a way to force such situations upon a person and the best way to deal with it was to just get it over and done with.
"Then we get to Konoha," said Naruto as he simply looked at Minato and his wife with eyes full of disgust. And while they assumed it was from their past history, as did most of the others who saw his mood towards them, but that was not the case. "Who I am not even going to bother to ask for assistance."
"And just why is that," said Minato, who was actually pissed off at hearing that since the way Naruto had phrased it made it more insulting than anything else.
"Well I have a good reason for not asking your village for assistance," said Naruto simply.
"Are you seriously going to throw out such personal reasoning to not even ask for help from our village?"
"Personal reasoning," said Naruto with a raised eyebrow, "no… the reasoning behind me not asking your village for help is not because of the things that transpired between the two of us. No this is a separate issue altogether that preceded our problems with one another."
"And just what has my village done to anger you?" demanded Minato, who felt like he was being led into a verbal trap of some sort, but his curiosity was piqued and he would get his answers one way or another. But as he said that, he felt as though he should have listened to his gut feeling and not done so since the smirk on Naruto's face was a bit off putting to say the least.
"I'm so glad you asked that." said Naruto as he put two fingers in his mouth and blew out a whistle. When he did that, a samurai came into the room carrying a medium sized bag he placed on the table in front of Naruto before heading back out since his job was done.
"What is that?" asked Gaara.
"All in good time Gaara," said Naruto as he reached into the bag and pulled out a mask, but held it in a manner that the others could not see the front of it. "But allow me to explain why this is here. When Mifune was attacked and killed, it made us all grieve about his passing, but for me it made me question a few things. The men who attacked us didn't slaughter their way from the front gate inwards. No, they made it near the center of our home before they began killing people. So that made me wonder if we had traitors in our midst since it would not be so easy for Shinobi to infiltrate a samurai village so easily like that. Especially with their fashion choice. So we put the village under lockdown and looked into the lives of absolutely everyone. And while I had been wrong about the members of the Akatsuki getting inside help, I was not about traitors. I as well as my samurai had found multiple safe houses that housed hidden Shinobi who were disguised as samurai under the orders to blend in with our forces until such a time when they were ordered to do differently."
It was at this point that Naruto flipped the mask around to show the front of the thing. While it was mainly blank, which was a bit odd since Shinobi were ones to usually decorate their mask one way or another to identify themselves to allies while keeping their identity hidden from the enemy, there was still one symbol on the front...
The kanji symbol for ROOT...
"Does anyone here other than Konoha recognize this symbol?" asked Naruto.
"Let me see that mask for a second," said Onoki as he looked at the thing. Naruto tossed him the mask, which the short elderly man caught in his hands. As he held the thing in his hands, so many memories of having to deal with this particular group flooded into his mind. And none of those memories were pleasant since they did very horrific things to complete the tasks given to them without a shred of remorse as they did. But then again they were trained to be emotionless for a reason. "I know this mask well. They have tried to assassinate me multiple times in the past."
"So you can vouch for them being a strictly Konoha organization?" asked Naruto.
"That I can," said Onoki with a growl.
"This is the reason I refuse to ask Konoha for help in this matter," said Naruto as he then dumped the contents of the bag onto the table. There were multiple masks as well as scrolls. "Since these men have been stationed in our village for the past twenty years. And according to the scrolls sent to them, they were put in place to fulfill one of three things in the future. The first was simply to assassinate any samurai who became deemed a threat to their master. The second was to sabotage us in various manners if ever we were to go to war with Konoha. And then there is the last one, which honestly pisses me off the most. The third reason was to use false evidence to get us to attack Konoha's enemies, namely all of you. As though we were some sort of attack dog for their personal use. This purpose is the worst since it would stain our honor as samurai if we were to fight an enemy for false reasons. So how can I trust your village with aiding us if you would go so far as to try and manipulate a neutral country into doing your dirty work?"
"ROOT is not under my control…" started Minato before he was stopped by Naruto holding his hand up to silence him.
"I already know who runs the damn group," said Naruto, "but that still doesn't excuse your village from this. You knew about this group's existence, and as such it is your duty to either disband it or support it as the Hokage. So since this group has been here longer than I have, that means your village has not made any attempts to rectify the situation. And to be perfectly honest, I highly doubt you had any intention to. It is only due to the fact that I point it out that you try to save face, yet there is no way to do so in this situation. But it doesn't matter since I am not going to ask you for help with this."
Minato was literally growling as his fingernails were digging into the table in rage right now. Naruto had just shattered Minato's image to the players of the world, and in doing so had set off a chain reaction. The other Kages would no doubt look inwards into their own villages and thoroughly seek out the ROOT Shinobi that were stationed in their own villages as well. Minato knew fully about them, since as the Hokage he needed to know. He even secretly supported them since they served a purpose that aided their village in the end.
"So with two yes, one rude yet honest no, one undecided, and one fuck off to that man's face," said Naruto as he pointed to Minato. The other Kages couldn't help but chuckle at that. While this man might be like Mifune in the manner he sees things in the big picture and does not act irrationally, he still had the balls to insult a man to his face in a manner that did not end in war being declared in some manner. "I call this meeting to a close. Thank you ladies and gentlemen for coming."
The Mizukage was the first person to leave the room with his bodyguards, with A following him as he sent Naruto a simple nod. Onoki though lingered for a bit before he left. He basically looked at Naruto with full on analytical eyes for a bit more and then simply left the room. All that remained was Gaara's group and Minato's.
"You are still here," said Naruto simply. He had an urge to pull out another smoke, but he resisted that urge for some reason, "and I'm pretty certain I know why you are."
"Where is my daughter you son of a bitch!" shouted Kushina, who couldn't contain herself anymore. She had bit her tongue for the entire meeting so as to not cause issues, but now that the meeting was over she would make sure her voice was heard. Naruto heard her loud and clear, and he began to laugh hard at her words, which only pissed her off more that he was laughing at her.
"You do know that even though you disowned me," pointed out Naruto, "you are still the woman who gave birth to me? So you just insulted yourself there."
"Where is Naruko?" demanded Minato, who wanted to leave this place as soon as possible. He had been humiliated in front of the other Kages as well as had his dirty laundry shown off to them as well with the knowledge of ROOT being told to them.
"Safe," said Naruto simply, "which is far off than she was before."
"You dare say that when you kidnapped her from our village!" shouted Kushina.
"Who are you trying to fool with that lie," asked Naruto seriously, "since I did not kidnap her? Gaara, when we left Konoha together after the tournament, did I have Naruko with me?"
"No you did not," said Gaara with a shake of his head.
"So please pray tell," said Naruto, "how could i have kidnapped her if I was with a group that easily saw I did not, and could go so far as to say I even was stuck in the hospital for a few days as well with the documents to prove such a thing in Suna. The timing doesn't add up. But let's be honest here, you are just looking for any excuse to make me look bad."
"Bring Naruko here so we can take her home," demanded Minato.
"No." said Naruto with authority.
"What did you just say to me?"
"I said no."
"You have no right to keep her here!"
"Keep her here?" said Naruto with a quizzical look on his face. "She is not a captive or anything like that. When I saved her from the clutches of Orochimaru, I offered to bring her back to Konoha. She didn't want to go back so I offered to keep her safe and I have. Her words to me were how you two ignored her and Menma was an ass to her."
"That's not true," stated Kushina, but Naruto gave her an 'are you serious' look.
"The first time I ever met Naruko, it ended with Menma punching her to the point of a nosebleed and her being chased by angry dogs of all things! How can you stand there and say it's not true when the facts say differently. But then going by your track record with me, it's not much of a surprise."
"Bring my daughter back to me right now!" shouted Kushina, whose anger was beginning to emanate from her body.
"I'll tell you what," said Naruto as he rubbed his forehead. These people were so stubborn, but that was no surprise to him given he already knew that. "I'll go get Naruko and we can all get together and talk this out. If she wants to go home she can. But I'm not going to force her, nor will I allow you to take her by force."
"Not allow us?" asked Minato in a pissed off voice. The fact that this brat was talking down to him was only making this worse. "Who the hell do you think you are?!"
"I believe I am the leader of a massive village full to the brim with samurai. Samurai who all know about the various ROOT agents put into place to try and manipulate us. Samurai who would not stop to end the life of someone threatening one of their own, even more so their newly appointed leader. See the picture I am painting here?"
Minato's only response was to growl since Naruto had a point, and while he was loath to openly admit it Naruto had the advantage here. He already was outed for the ROOT Shinobi, so attacking Iron Village would only be the light that ignited the powder keg of hatred towards his village.
"So I will do that, yet I need to speak to Gaara in private," said Naruto as he pointed towards the door. "I will send a messenger to fetch you when I am ready to speak to you."
Minato left, but he was hesitant to do so, as was his wife. But in the end they still did leave the room. And now that they were alone, albeit with Temari still there, all red in the face and not looking at him, he began to talk to Gaara about an important issue...
(30 Minutes later)
Naruto left the meeting room as the other Kages left themselves, but he did not leave the building entirely. He instead made his way to one of the side rooms that at the moment was housing three individuals who were awaiting his arrival. Inside the room was the leader of the Rebel forces of Kiri known as Mei Terumi and her associates Ao and Chojuro. He had invited them along with the Mizukage since they in a sense were the leaders of Kiri as well. Sure they were a rebellious force, but both sides led about the same sized army so the war could honestly go either way as it was, and he for one preferred to aid the side that he personally saw as the right one.
While he had sent Yagura a scroll asking for him to come to the Summit and deal with the Akatsuki with the others, he knew that the Mizukage would refuse to aid them. The man was too busy cleansing his country of those with Bloodlines in some strange notion that they were unnatural as well as evil. Funny views from a Jinchuriki of all things, but he was not going to argue the views of another to their face since people are stubborn and not really prone to change their views in an instant. So knowing all this, he also sent Mei a scroll in secret to attend the meeting as well, but one that was in secret after the real one was done. The woman had been intrigued since she wondered exactly what Mifune would want with her, but in the end her curiosity was piqued and she left with her two bodyguards in secret to meet with the man. She had been shown where they would meet in secret, and she remained there for the time being until Naruto himself came into the room.
"Ah, Mei Terumi I presume?" asked Naruto as he closed the door behind him. The room was soundproof without the need for seals, but only with the door fully closed.
"That I am," said Mei with a raised eyebrow as she saw Naruto there. She had expected Mifune, so she was wondering why this far younger (and she had to admit, far more handsome looking) man was here in his stead. "But where is Mifune? I was sent a message from him to meet him here for an important matter."
"Actually," said Naruto as he waved his hand a bit, "I was the one to send that message to you."
"You?" asked Mei in surprise since this was not what she expected to hear. "But who are you to do so?"
"The name is Naruto Sukehiro," said Naruto with a smile, "and as to who I am, that is easy to explain. I am the leader of Iron Village."
"But what about Mifune?" asked Ao, who had actually met the man once or twice in his past.
"Unfortunately Mifune has been killed," said Naruto sadly since the memory still hurt to think about, "but after quite a bit of deliberation as well as a tournament of all things to decide it, I was named the leader of the village in his stead."
"Oh," said Ao, "well I am sorry for your loss young man."
"Thanks," said Naruto with a smile, "Mifune was not only my teacher, but he was basically family to me so his death hurt me to hear about."
"Who was the one to manage to kill him?" asked Mei, "since from what I have always heard about him, he was not one to be taken down so easily."
"I can second that," said Naruto with a laugh, "and I know a certain leader of Ame who could say the same." Naruto had been told by Mifune about his fight with Hanzo in their prime, and how the man had given him the scar he had on his head years ago. It was only because he alone had stood and faced Hanzo when the other samurai had fled due to the man's infamous reputation that he was still alive today. Hanzo had poisoned him, but once he was beaten into the ground, Hanzo had left him there with the antidote for it as he left as a gesture that he recognized the young samurai's strength. From what Naruto had heard, he only did that one other time against the Shinobi squad from Konoha that would later become known as the Sannin. "But to answer your question, it was two members of the Akatsuki that ended his life. They are Hidan and Kakuzu, also known as the Zombie Combo."
His words caused the three of the people from Kiri to gasp a bit.
"Why would members of the Akatsuki attack Mifune of all people?" asked Mei since it didn't make sense in her head. The samurai of Iron village were neutral, so what good would it do for them to attack them?
"This is why," said Naruto as he pulled out the Bingo book that he still had from the meeting and opened it up to the proper page, "an old bounty that was never removed by the old Sandaime Hokage of all people. Not sure exactly what transpired between the two men to make the old fucker put a bounty on a samurai, but he has been dead for some time so I can't really ask him now can I?"
"Well that is a shame," said Mei as she shook her head, "but let's get back to the reason why you called us here."
"Oh right," said Naruto with a chuckle as he pulled out a cigarette and put it in his mouth. He then pulled out his lighter and lit it up.
"You really shouldn't smoke at your age," said Ao in a fatherly sort of tone, "since it will slowly kill you."
"Ha," said Naruto with a laugh, "going by my track record of things that could kill me in the future, this isn't even on the list. I highly doubt I will reach such an age for it to kill me."
"You seem way too lax about this," said Chojuro, the first thing he had said this entire time.
"That's simply because as a samurai, it is my desire to die in battle with my honor intact. We learned to accept that fact from an early age in our training."
"That seems a bit… grim…" said Chojuro.
"And being a Shinobi isn't?" asked Naruto with a raised eyebrow. "Seeing as death is primarily your job."
"Well shit," said Chojuro as he rubbed the back of his head, "you got me there."
"But getting back on track here, I called you here to offer our assistance in your Civil War."
Naruto mentally laughed at the open mouthed wide eyed look he got from the three of them. He had a sneaking suspicion that they would react like this, but to see it in person was humorous.
"Why would you, a samurai of all people, want to aid us?" asked Mei as she regained her composure. "Aren't samurai neutral?"
"We were," said Naruto with a nod of his head, "but apparently being neutral didn't really help us much given we were still attacked by Shinobi anyway. So after speaking with my council we have decided to become more involved in world matters. Since what is the point of neutrality if all that will happen is any samurai who gains a bit of fame can have a target placed on him and killed? Yours just happened to be one of the biggest issues I was made aware of and decided to help."
"I don't really know what to say," said Mei who was speechless at this point. This was the last thing she was expecting when she got the scroll sent to her. She expected this less than someone other than Mifune meeting her!
"But I must admit, there is a bit of a catch to this offer," said Naruto as he held up his hand to stop her from going further, "since in return for our aid, we need your assistance for something not as major as a civil war."
"And just what is it that you need our assistance with," asked Mei, who was a bit miffed that she had not seen this coming. Of course Naruto wouldn't offer her and the rebels help without a price of some sort.
"I am putting together a group to hunt down the members of the Akatsuki," said Naruto, "so I am asking for any Shinobi you could offer to help with this. It doesn't have to be a lot of them, since I am trying to make a group with a quality over quantity mentality."
"Wait a second…" said Mei as she was trying to piece this all together in her mind, "you are offering us aid in a civil war that does not affect you in the slightest, all for a few Shinobi helping you hunt down another group of them?"
"Well these Shinobi we are hunting are all S ranked ones from various villages," explained Naruto, "so this won't be so easily dealt with. But simply, yes. Once they are dead, we will help you. Yet it won't just be us."
"What?" asked Mei, "who else is there?"
"I spoke to my friend Gaara, who just so happens to be the Kazekage," said Naruto with a smirk, "and he has agreed to throw his hat into this as well if you so wish."
"How can… I don't…" said Mei, all the while finding it hard to find the right words here. This young man had just come out of the blue, told her Mifune the former leader of Iron village was dead, and that now the samurai of the village themselves were willing to help her and the rest of the rebellion in return for the help of a few Shinobi. Plus throw in the fact another Kage was willing to help as well as the fact this man was friends with a Shinobi of all people only made her head hurt so much right now.
"Long story," said Naruto with a wave of his hand, "but we are friends all the same. So will you aid us in this endeavor?"
"Who else is joining us?" asked Ao in curiosity of who they would be working beside as they did this.
"Well let's see here," said Naruto as he thought about it. "There is Gaara and his sister Temari who are joining this group. Apparently the Akatsuki are after the Jinchuriki and Suna was attacked once already by them so he doesn't want a repeat of that event and has decided to take the fight to them instead of waiting. Not quite sure if others will join him, but at least we have them. Then there is Iwa, who I can't really say if they will help or not. Onoki's face was a bit of an enigma at the end so I don't know if he will help or not. But then there was A, who at first was against the whole plan, as well as insulting not only my person but Mifune's memory as well. But his brother Killer B was onboard as well as Yugito, both Jinchuriki who are of the same mind as Gaara over the desire to hunt down those who would hunt them in time. Thankfully A saw reason to their logic in the end and agreed to it, but only after having to solemnly vow to not try and attempt to kidnap them after this was all said and done, which only made me laugh since as a samurai, what use do I have for Jinchuriki?"
"So you are saying you are receiving the aid of at least three Jinchuriki as well as a highly skilled kunoichi?" stated Mei.
"Indeed," said Naruto, "but I will be there along with them. I already killed two members of their organization, so I am a marked man in their books."
"You managed to kill two S ranked Shinobi?" asked Ao with a look of skepticism on his face, since it seemed so unlikely.
"Well," said Naruto in thought, "it was more like one and a half really. Since Gaara fought the other one while I challenged and defeated my opponent. So he wasn't at his peak. Still killed them though so I can claim that."
"Just who did you kill?" asked Ao, who just had to hear whom Naruto had ended the lives of.
"They were known as Deidara and Sasori," said Naruto with his hands folded on his chest. Mei and her group looked at the boy with admiration in their eyes. To hear someone beat such infamous Shinobi, and a samurai of all people was an impressive feat. So they looked at each other for a moment, and with a quick nod they agreed.
"We will help you fight the Akatsuki," said Mei as she held out her hand to shake his own. Naruto reached out and gripped it to shake it as well. Once they did, Naruto asked them to remain here for a bit longer, since the Mizukage was in the village as well, which he went on to explain why that was since he was there for the Summit between Kages. They nodded in understanding since it made sense, and did as he asked and remained there for a while until the man had left the village entirely, which wasn't too long. Once he was gone, the three of them left the village as well, but through a different entrance since they had no desire to come face to face with him just yet. They were strong, but not 'fighting a Jinchuriki and his bodyguards' strong…
Naruto had left the main meeting hall after he had met with Mei and her group, and he was feeling pretty good about the situation. The reason he had asked for Gaara's aid in their civil war was more for their benefit than his own villages. Their Daimyo was still sending too many of their missions to Konoha with no signs of stopping anytime soon, so Suna was still suffering financially. Sure the money Naruto had won them had eased the burden exponentially, but that was only a temporary solution to their problem, and thus needed a more permanent one if they were going to survive. They had tried attacking Konoha, which while stupid had been an act of desperation. So now with Naruto's help they would go the other route of things and help another village so as to gain a new source of income given missions would be sent to Suna as Kiri recovered from their Civil War. Who knows? Maybe in time the Wind Daimyo would finally decide to send missions back to Suna instead of Konoha in time, but Naruto could only guess about that since he was not able to see the future like Shion was able to.
Speaking of the priestess who he had helped, he wondered how she was doing right now. He hadn't heard from her in a while, but then again she probably had her own things to deal with back in Demon Country, and he was just honestly thankful that she took him to a hospital to heal for the two weeks he had been there as well as floated the bill for medical care as well. He wished her well, and given she no longer had a draconic demon of all things to sacrifice herself to seal back up anymore, he had a feeling she would do just fine.
What Naruto had no clue about was the fact that Shion was thinking about him right now as he thought about her. Yet while his thoughts were more on the sake of her wellbeing, hers were of a more intimate nature. Ever since he had saved her life that day, not a night had passed where she didn't dream about him in some manner, and it was really affecting her a bit too much. She was either blushing far too much or just straight up feeling her body heating up for some reason.
She had no idea what was happening to her, and she honestly feared what a doctor would say about it. Yet in the end she went to see one and get a diagnosis on the matter. The doctor, who was a woman mind you, had simply laughed as Shion had explained everything she was going through. The doctor had simply smiled and told her she was in love with this samurai she kept seeing in her mind. Her diagnosis had made Shion faint since that was not what she was expecting to hear, but she couldn't really argue about it.
She had looked for Naruto that day when he had left to head back towards Iron village, but she never found him in her carriage and eventually had to go back home. She did send a few people to find and deliver a message for him, but even they had not found him. This was due to the fact that the village had been in lockdown after the attack on it. So it made sense that they wouldn't be able to find him. The lockdown only was lifted once the Summit was over with so it would be a bit before people got the news and travel continued in and out of the place.
But back to Naruto, he walked towards his home, which had belonged to Mifune, yet the samurai had agreed Naruto should move in since he was the man's student and he had no other family to claim it. So once home, he found Naruko there, who was playing with the kitten she had found on the streets a few days ago.
Naruko was an adventurous young girl, and she was driving Karen a bit crazy with her random as all hell 'disappearing' acts where she would be there one second and then just up and vanish, showing off her latent Shinobi skills. It was one of those times that she stumbled upon a black and white kitten that had been abandoned by its mother. Karen had found her holding the poor animal, and Naruko had those innocent watery eyes that children use to get their way. Karen had told her it was not up to her if she could keep the kitten or not, but Naruto. Naruko had taken the kitten back to the house and waited for her older brother, which wasn't too long since there was not too much paperwork to finish. It was always a bit humorous to hear about how the Kages of the major village had to deal with such monstrous piles of paperwork every day, but for him it was not the case. He was able to spend most of his time training to keep his body in excellent shape since there were only at most about twenty things to sign off on, and that took no more than two hours. He of course agreed to let her keep it given it made her happy, plus what sort of monster would he have to be to abandon a kitten of all things on the street?
But now was not the time to reminisce on that past event, now was the time where Naruto took Naruko back to her parents. Like he had said in the meeting, he would let them meet, but it was ultimately her choice alone whether or not she wanted to go back, but judging by how happy she was here with him in comparison to the treatment she got at home in Konoha, it was a safe bet he knew her choice on the matter.
So with a simple tap on her shoulder and a quick explanation of what they were about to do, Naruto knelt down to piggyback Naruko to where they would meet with her parents. All the while, Naruto was mentally preparing himself for the argument that would ensue…
(A/N: Gonna leave it there for now since if i continued it would make the chapter way too long. But now the pieces are in place for a major event in the future. I wish you all a Happy New Year, and pray to whatever god there is that it goes better than this one!)