It was raining in Yugakure. Sounds of thunder and drizzle were echoing in the beautiful valley surrounded by mountains and two major rivers. If one were to look outside, all they would see was a thick blanket of smog and rain.

Streets that were usually filled with people and animals were now a barren landscape, abiding to be painted by the drops of water falling from heaven. Far away from those barren streets, the infinity dragon was reveling in what could be termed as the most satisfying activity that she had ever performed in her long life.

Fishing.

An activity that had become her favorite ever since old man Ito had first introduced it to her. At first, she tried it due to mild curiosity but soon, when she started to catch the rarest fishes without any outside help, her mind began to love the activity. The amusement she felt whenever she saw Ito always crying what he called 'manly tears' whenever he saw Ophis carry back her haul was a bonus. Also, the fact that she would be showered with praises and head pats for catching them only fueled her love for it. Not only was she catching delicious food, but she was also getting to learn the emotion that was happiness.

"Happiness..." An idle Ophis, who was sitting on the banks of her favorite river, whispered out to no one in particular. "It's a very strange emotion," she noted with a very rare smile on her face, a smile that would have made anyone melt at the mere sight of it. It was warm and genuine, something she had only learned to concoct after spending weeks with the old couple of the Kawagishi family.

Over the past few months, she had made considerable progress in her quest to gain emotions. It was difficult at first, with her not knowing social customs and all, but with the constant support of Ito and Tsuga, she had finally started the process of leaving her shell.

No longer did she speak short sentences with the people she considered to be close to. When around strangers she would speak like before, but with Ito and Tsuga, she'd start talking longer sentences and in a manner that could only be described as animatedly. This notion had the old couple shedding tears of joy inwardly because she was behaving exactly like what they thought a child would. The old couple had lost the ability to produce a child because Tsuga suffered a grievous injury when she was younger, permanently damaging her womb.

It filled them with immeasurable joy as a dream that they had long since thought to be impossible, was coming true in front of their very eyes. Having a child of their own, and watching them grow up. They watched as she started to grow mentally and socially, helped without hesitation whenever she seemingly struggled with something, but most importantly, they smiled whenever they saw their precious daughter smile.

It wasn't just the couple who had been changed by her arrival, Ophis herself had also changed immensely. She had started interacting with the other villagers more often, and she realized that there was so much more to humans and their emotions than she had previously thought. She had seen what some of the other humans in the ninja villages could do, ranging all the way from murder to rape, even torture and she thought that it was the norm in those places. However, after being around the people in her village and mingling for a while, she realized that it was not the case.

It was only when she asked around, did she realize that the places where she had seen were usually off-limits to the general public, as they were often called 'Prisons' or 'Torture and Interrogation'. She was met with some concerned stares when she asked about those places and even more concerned ones when she told them to ask Ito as to why she wanted to know about those, or how she knew.

She couldn't figure out why they would be so nice to her the next time they saw her, but she appreciated it regardless. The villagers here were so friendly, much like Ito and Tsuga were to her. She felt like she was part of a large family.

"Family," Her black eyes blinked at the mention of the familiar word. In the past, that word would have been ignored by her mind but now that she knew what meaning that word held, she couldn't help but get drawn to the concept of having a family of her own. "A family…" She whispered with an unreadable expression on her small face. "Do I need a family?" Of course, she did.

After spending so much time with people like Ito and Tsuga, one was bound to yearn for a family of their own. The old couple's love was contagious after all. Throughout her whole stay at their inn, old man Ito and his still beautiful wife, Tsuga had made sure to spoil her as much as they could. From buying her the most expensive Kimono in the town to feeding her the most delicious food, the Kawagishi couple had made sure to treat her as their own daughter and Ophis wouldn't lie, she liked it, even more than the silence of her void.

For the first time in Eternity, she found herself at peace. At this place, Ophis truly felt at home. "But, I still have to get rid of baka-red. He might find me here. I have to-" she paused and blinked when a huge fish jumped out of the river and drizzled her with countless drops of freshwater. "-catch it. It's huge!" As if the fish could understand her, the huge marine animal disappeared into the depths of the water, and just like that, Ophis forgot about the Great Red and began to focus on her next prey.

"I'll fry you…" There was something akin to a small fire in her eyes as the words left her mouth.


-oOo-


"Is he still unconscious?"

"Yes."

"Good-"

"But boss, what about those Konoha nins?"

"Shhhh… Stupid! Don't speak about our mission in this village."

"S-Sorry boss. It's just that I'm nervous about this."

"This is hardly the first time we are going on an espionage or kidnapping mission. You might not know this, but we are the best team around. What has got you so nervous now?"

"Yes, but this is the first time we have done so in a major village, Konoha no less. They might be tree-hugging scum, but we can't deny their strength. We have lost ever-" His ramblings were cut off by the leader grabbing him by the collar and bringing his face closer than comfortable to his subordinate's, staring right in his eyes.

"Listen here you little shit. We were given a job. A job we agreed to after knowing the risks. A job that is near completion. I do not care what is bothering you, get it sorted out before we set out tonight. We have the package, we are NOT messing this up now, you better get this in your head. I. Will. Not. Tolerate. Failure. Is that understood?" The menacing whisper shout of the leader of the team of 4 rooted the shinobi in his place, before he managed to gather enough of his bearings to give a slight nod to his leader, prompting him to let go of his subordinate, making the man collapse to the ground as a boneless heap.

"Does anyone else have any issues that need addressing?" Getting no response, he nodded slightly, "That's what I thought. If anyone messes this up, I'll kill them in the most painful way I can think up before Konoha gets that chance. Your performance today will be an indication of how much you value your own life. Be. Prepared."

With that Itama, the leader of the team headed out of the room they had rented. Konoha, despite being a -supposedly- hidden village, was more like a landmark, known to almost everyone in the elemental nations. Even entering the village under the guise of customers looking to hire ninjas was easier than they thought. A few forged papers, a false job description of hiring Chunins on behalf of the Daimyo of Grass country, and they were in. Even more surprising was the total lack of security around their mark, but they weren't ones to look a gift horse in the mouth.

'Stupid.' He thought bitterly as he walked towards the general store in an unhappy mood, annoyed at the incompetence of his new - and temporary, he reminded himself - teammate. He was the best tracker and infiltrator that Kumo had, and his team was the most successful in Kumo's history. However, one of their members recently got injured quite badly in an accident, so they had to have a replacement assigned to them. Usually, they could work with that, but the issue was that the replacement was a newbie, and a prideful one to boot! A chain was only as strong as its weakest link, and in terms of their team, the weakest link dragged them from being the strongest covert team into probably the weakest!

So engrossed he was with his thoughts, that he didn't notice the narrowed, black eyes that were following him as he walked past.


-oOo-


'Kumo' Ophis thought as she saw the ninja walk past her without noticing her presence at all. 'What, are they doing here?'

She had learned of what happened to the village she was living in from Ito and Tsuga. To say that she was angry was an understatement. For the first time in her endless existence, she felt a true burning rage simmer deep within her. This was not the same feeling she felt when she saw Great Red, it was far darker and significantly more intense. She felt the need to go to Kumo and unleash her power to evaporate the village and everyone associated with it.

The only reason she didn't do so, was because Ito and Tsuga seemingly didn't want it. She had offered to go and obliterate Kumo but they just laughed and thanked her for her offer, declining it with an amused chuckle. She felt the confusion return, but she didn't question them. She figured that they had their reasons for not wanting to do so, so she stayed put. She trusted them.

What Ito and Tsuga didn't know was that Ophis wasn't joking. If they had answered affirmatively, there would be one less hidden village in the elemental nations.

As the man disappeared into the store, Ophis mentally sent a thank you to the helpful librarian who assisted her in finding books about the world, in particular, ones about chakra and spiritual energy.

She came across those terms back when she was in the hidden villages, and she always wanted to know what those two terms meant. After reading the scrolls and books about them, she started to get an understanding as to why the shinobis felt so nervous whenever she was around, and the civilians were not.

Chakra and spiritual energy were everywhere in this world; it was fundamentally the oxygen of the place and nothing could survive without it. It was to the extent that even an untrained civilian could sense it if there was a sufficient amount. She concluded that it was because her power was so different that none of the civilians could sense her, and shinobis could only get a general feeling of her power.

It was like a normal human standing on the earth; the human wouldn't feel the earth moving around the sun, nor would they feel the earth spinning. In this instance, her power would be the earth and the civilians would be the normal humans. The difference was just too large for them to notice.

The shinobi on the other hand would be a step above the normal human. They would feel that something was around, but they cannot pinpoint where. Using the earth and human analogy again, they would feel the earth spinning, but they would be unable to pinpoint where the spinning is.

She realized that because her power was not present in this world, there was nothing more she could do to gain more knowledge. As a result, she converted the entirety of her immeasurable power into the same spiritual energy as mentioned in the book, and the results were seemingly perfect.

Using the same methods she used to suppress her original power, she cautiously teleported into random shinobi villages and walked around as a test. She felt a sense of accomplishment when she noticed that none of the villages became alert or reacted to her presence like before.

After a while, she arrived at the inn just as the clock hit 9 am.

"Morning, Oto-san" The dragon girl greeted her caretaker with a casual wave of her hand and a small smile as she opened the door and sat down.

Ito, who was completely silent a while ago, began to chuckle at Ophis, no doubt amused by her way of greeting him. "It's Ito-san, little Ophis. Otō-san is used to greet your father." He corrected her but the girl just waved his explanation away.

"What is a father?" Ophis asked as she sat down on the bench adjacent to the place where those Kumo shinobi were sitting.

"Huh?" Ito blinked at the odd question. Hadn't he already told her about that? He thought but ultimately decided to entertain her innocent query. "A father is someone who's very important to a child, Ophis. He is the person who does everything in his capability to fulfill his child's wishes and dreams." His explanation was erratic and unappealing but the old man knew his curious little girl would understand him without any trouble.

Just like he thought, Ophis smiled at him, a thing she had begun to do a lot ever since she had moved in with them. Maybe it was the effect of the environment or maybe it was the warm personality of his wife, but whatever had led to Ophis being like that was a blessing in disguise for them. "Then you are my father, Otō-san." Her statement made Ito smile again.

"No-"

"Yes, you are."

"No-"

Ophis' smile got bigger and brighter. "Yes, you are."

"No-"

"Hey, old freak! Can you serve us our breakfast already?!"

Black eyes took a sharp turn to their right and got locked onto the frame of a young man, a man who wasn't going to see the beautiful evening of Yugakure today. He was walking down the stairs and was carrying a sack over his shoulder.

"Behave…" It was a mere whisper but Ophis was sure that the man heard her, after all, one doesn't make that silly face when they are perfectly calm.

Brown met black as the man locked his eyes with her own. "Who are you, little girl?" He asked, a cruel smile dancing on his dry lips.

Before Ophis could riposte, Ito intervened in the argument. "Ophis! Don't argue with the guests." He tried to control the small girl but she, like an unexpected and fearless female she was, ignored his words and began to glare at the angry Kumo shinobi, a gesture that only angered the ninja further. 'Oh dear…' the old inn owner thought to himself as he saw that cold look on Ophis' face. She was about to say something stupid.

"Ophis… My name is Ophis. And you are noisy."

The Kumo shinobi barely restrained himself from hurting the girl on the spot. The humiliation from his senior earlier today was still fresh in his mind and was hurting his pride like nothing else. At that time he was able to control himself from killing someone but now after seeing this small dimwit trying to lecture him for nothing, his patience was finally on the verge of leaving his body. "Ophis? What an odd name…"

Ophis blinked at the outright jab at her name. "Oh really?" She hummed, a thoughtful expression resting on her small face.

Anger was practically oozing out of the shinobi's skin now. "Do you want to die, girl?" His question earned him another blank stare from the girl.

"What type of question is that, noisy man?" with a cold look on her face, Ophis finally took a step forward.

"Op-"

"Sshh… old freak. Let her do whatever she is doing."

In the past, Ito would have been silenced by that man but now, he was no longer afraid of these shinobi because now, he had this little girl, who was probably the most clueless person in the world, to protect. "Ophis… enough. Go back to your room-"

Ophis stopped her walk and looked at her father. "He disrespected Oto-san." was her reply as if the words were enough explanation for her actions. Which according to her, were.

"So what if I did? Is this old man supposed to be some daimyo? Learn your place, kid, unless you wanna die."

"Shut up. You are annoying." With those words Ophis prepared to obliterate the annoying person, only to be stopped by Ito's voice.

"Just because I have not said anything about your behavior till now, doesn't mean we welcome it ninja-san. You can show yourself out, we are not willing to serve you."

The words were enough to make the ninja lose it. First his senior, then that little girl, now this old man. He needed something to take all his anger out on, and he needed it fast. With that thought in mind, he placed a none too gentle hand on Ito's shoulder, causing him to turn around, only for a fist to meet his cheek, knocking him out. While the shinobi had held back, simply because he wasn't in the mood to kill anyone, didn't mean the blow was any less painful to the old man.

With a slight cry, Ito collapsed to the floor, unconscious, leaving behind an utterly horrified and hurt Ophis.

"Who isn't going to serve me now huh?" an animalistic shout left the mouth of the angry shinobi, a shout that conveyed both his frustration and satisfaction very well. "Tell me!" He yelled again and kicked the unconscious man in the abdomen, drawing a painful groan from him in the process. "And you," he turned his head to his right in order to look at the girl. She deserved some punishment too. "How dare-" whatever he was going to say perished in his mouth as soon as his eyes got locked with onyx orbs of the girl.

They were wrong.

They were just so very ̸w̶r̶o̴n̷g̴

T̶̡̢̖̥͈͈̳͙͍͙̻̓͐̾͜H̷̹̮͛͊̈͋͑̂ͅE̴̯̬͔̗̝̞̜̐̾̉̀́̊̅̂̾̌̕͝͠ͅY̴̗̼̥͙͈̾̍̀̉̉́͒͋͂͌͋̕ ̴̜́͛͊̈́̊̾͒͝͝Ẁ̸̨̛̹̞̻̱͔͙̺̰̝̠͓̜̟͕̏̔̒̓̒͑̉̌̒̕͜ͅE̷̼̍̂͂̅R̴̨͕̯̮̩̪̙̠̣͓̟̣̓̊̈͛̓̋̇̈́̀͘̕͘͜͝͝ͅÉ̸̹̪̱͚̓̈́͗͐̌͐̾͌̒̌̉̿͝͠͝ ̷̧͖̺̠̣̈̀̆̄̾̃̆͆̕͠͝͝S̵̙̰̪̟͕̜̮̙̪͎̩̖͉̞̣̙̘̓̎̈́̐̈́̏͐̐́̈͆̐̀͋͋̍Ó̴̡̝̪̩̻̼̪͎͙̪͔̟͔̱̖̅́̓̉̚̚͝ ̶̧̡͚̦͍̠͚̩̼͔͙̖̤̺͕̈̒V̷͓͈̮͓͕̘͍̥̳̤̰̰̜̉̄͛̇̇̾̅̉͆́̎̊̐̽̑̕͘ͅĘ̶͍̙̲̼̥̲͍̰͕̤̹̏̄͜R̵̙͍͎̪̱̀̀̊̇̊̅̚Y̷̧̡̡͚͍͇̖̫̝̪̪͎͈̗̌̈́͝ ̵̝̟͈͙̜̀W̷̧̨͚̞̘̺̤͔͇̝͕̗͚̪̮̥̤͒̒͛͊̈́̒̈̈͋̅̾̃̈̚̚͘͠R̶̗̱̱͎͛̂̎͂̔O̴̢͇̳͉͉̬͙̼̰̪͚͚̲̪͆̍̇̓̐̈́̀̿͑̐̌̈́̕̚͜͝N̷̡̧̖̺͕̺̣͍̭͓̱̪̤̅͆͜͜ͅG̴̛̟̫̩͕̟͚̱̥̲͈͚̫̗̎̏͐́͘͝ͅ

The man could feel his mind shattering as he gazed into the abyss. He vaguely felt himself collapsing onto the ground as foam started forming from his mouth. He could feel his sanity draining away, as well as his very being melting and leaving this reality as the abyss gazed back at him, judging him, condemning him.

He no longer saw anything except a vision of a giant black dragon imprinted on a twisting void of what could only be described as pure chaos. It was staring into his soul, reading his past, present, and future. As seconds ticked by, he started to realize that something was not right with the dragon. It didn't make sense… Dragons were not supposed to look like that. This was a monstrosity that shouldn't exist. Such a thing shouldn't exist. It shouldn't exist… I̷̢̟͂̚̚T̸̠̰̺̭͑͛̀̓́ ̵͈͙͎͇̜̾̀S̵͉͑̍̉H̷̛̟̲̟̗͂Ó̸̜̋U̸̪͋̇̚͝ͅĹ̷̲̦̫̙̾D̸͙̫̆͌N̵̨̳͂̕'̶̮̉̾͠T̶̙͍͔̎͒ ̴̦̘̈́̏̃͘ͅE̶̗͋̃̈́̕͠X̸̛͔͈͍̾͝Ị̴̱̟͒Ŝ̴̡̭̞͈T̷̰̈́̽͗̔

Whispers of madness filled his ears as he tried to turn his head away from the ghastly image of wrongness, but he couldn't. He tried averting his eyes, but that only increased the volume of the whispers. He couldn't take it anymore, he couldn't…

Wait...

Head? Eyes? Ears? What were those and why did they sound so familiar? Why did he know about them? Why did he need to know about them?

They held no significance to him, right?

"You dare hurt Otō-san." a dual-layered voice oozing with insanity echoed out from seemingly everywhere in the ever-changing void, breaking him from his psychotic thoughts.

The voice finally disintegrated what tiny sliver of his mind remained. "He" was now no longer a human, "he" was now "it". It came to a horrific realization.

It began to realize that it was nothing.

It realized that everything held no meaning. Everything was just nothing.

̶̹͇͕̗̘̎E̵͕̺͈̒̐̀̔̅v̷͍̏e̸̫̜͔̽͗̽̂ř̶̭͋̐̐̚y̷͓̞̩̎̋̉̑̕t̸͍̦͠ͅh̷̫̃̏̈́i̵͓̿̌̓͛͊n̶̟͕̘̭͙̚g̷̡̨̛̹̀̆̽͊͜ ̴̛̤̲̺̪̫͗͆w̸̡̱̿͜a̸̓̍͜ş̴̗̑ ̶̡̩̼̤̔̑j̶̹́̀͘u̸̯̟͎͗̈́͘͘͠ͅs̵̨̰̮͔̟̅̈́̓͊͘ẗ̸̢̡̹͉͔́̽͘ ̷̲͇̉̔̈́̒̕n̷̳̆͂́̕o̵̝̝̓͆͛t̴̗͎̼͜͝ḧ̴̢̢͈͚̙̓̇̽̈i̸̢͖̮͓͎̋̋͊̓̈ń̵̡̳̳̘̹g̸͕̙̫͓̔͂

As soon as it came to that conclusion, it forgot how to breathe.

Its heart forgot how to beat.

Its brain forgot how to function.

It soon ceased to exist in the world and faded into the void of horror.


-oOo-


Ophis wrinkled her nose in disgust as she gazed down at the dead form of the Kumo shinobi. It was quite a rather disturbing sight, lumpy, grey matter leaked from its ears and a clear, but greyish liquid flowed from the empty sockets of what was once a living being. That wasn't even counting the brown and yellow stains on the dead shinobi's pants and the rug.

'Bleh. Smells horrid' she thought and snapped her fingers, vanishing the corpse and leaving no trace of the smell of urine and excrement he left behind. It was so thorough that nobody could tell that there used to be a person there.

Usually, she would have just killed these types of people if they would have met her earlier but now, after living with the Tsuga and Ito for so long, Ophis had begun to quell her anger to a level where she no longer wanted to hurt anyone badly. Instead, she had learned to solve disputes with the power of her words.

"Unless someone hurts Tsuga and Ito." She whispered to herself with a slightly maniacal smile.

She had gotten a feeling which she especially enjoyed, one which could only come from spending time with people who cared about you. Instant death was far too easy for people like these; she would break anyone who dared to harm what she saw as hers without any mercy.

Satisfied with her work, she was about to wake up her old man but was yet again interrupted by some lowly humans.

"Hey! Where is our teammate?" The first Kumo shinobi said as he ran into the room.

"What are you talking about?" Another asked confusedly as he followed the first. "It was always just us three here. The Raikage didn't have enough time to get a suitable replacement for us. Are you sure you got enough sleep?"

Thinking for a while, the first shinobi shrugged and responded, "Probably not. Must have thought that we had another teammate due to not getting enough sleep. This place is really trash."

He ignored the irony of calling the inn 'trash' when in fact, each room was on the level of a 4-star hotel room, including the one they rented.

"Enough bickering," the leader said, silencing the two people behind him. "We are here to determine who was releasing such an amount of potent chakra and if they will pose a threat to our mission."

Ophis sighed as the annoying people moved around, preventing her from going to Ito. She was about to shove them away with her power when she heard one of the ninjas whispering something interesting to his leader.

"Boss, should I take away the boy from here?"

"Yes. Take the boy away from here and wait for us at the rear end of the town."

Intrigued, onyx eyes of the Dragon followed the man as he strolled towards the motionless sack that was resting on the table of her restaurant. But before she could get a decent look at the sack, her attention was disrupted by a very loud shout.

"Oi, you! Little girl! Have you seen anyone suspicious around here?"

Ophis frowned as she heard the little girl remark again for the hundredth time. She was beginning to get tired of it and her petite body. "Yes."

The man wasted no time and flickered before her. "What?" He asked with a little urgency to his voice.

"You and your team. What are you doing here? What is in that bag?" Questions after questions left Ophis' mouth as she glared at the man who was clearly taken aback by the sudden change of her attitude.

"W-what do you mean, little girl? There is nothing wrong with us. We are shinobi of Kumogakure and we are on a small mission." Acting as cool as he could, the leader of the team tried to divert the attention from the current topic of discussion. If he was right, then Yugakure was still in a decent relationship with Konoha and if the word got out that they did something stupid here then Konoha won't waste any time in taking strict action and that was the last thing he wanted to happen.

The child dragon immediately noticed what the man was trying to do. If she was not sure before, then she was completely sure now. There's something wrong with that bag. For the past two days, these noisy shinobis had been carrying that sack with themselves, even to the lunch tables. "Liar…" she whispered and scowled when the man began to glare daggers at her.

"I'm-"

"Liar…"

The man was practically fuming now and like a raging volcano that's about to erupt, he grabbed the girl by her throat and lifted her so that he could see the fear on her face clearly. But imagine his surprise when instead of inconceivable fear, he was greeted with a look so cold that it could have frozen the whole world if it wanted to. "For a small civilian, you do have a lot of courage, girl. Say, do you want to join me in my village?" He asked her as he gently brought her face close to his own. She had pleasingly smooth skin, he noted but then again, almost every civilian woman was gifted with that boon.

Apprehended in the noisy man's hold, Ophis still did not attempt to get out of that situation. Instead, she decided to ask him a question, a thing that she was sure would make him more furious. "Say, do you want to join the remains of your friend in my dimensional void?"

Ophis' voice was as bland as ever, although if one were to listen closely, they would be able to discern the underlying tone of anger in her voice. This was picked up by the three shinobi whose danger senses skyrocketed. Dropping Ophis, the person who was holding Ophis up immediately got into formation with his two other teammates and stared at the girl warily and fearfully.

None of them noticed that they were shaking with terror.

"W-What do you mean?" One of them said, not even realizing he stuttered at the start. He was feeling extremely scared but he didn't know why. Something was screaming at him to get the hell out of there but for some reason, his body refused to move. "What do you mean 'our friend'? We didn't have anyone else here with us?"

Ophis let out a dark, but satisfied smirk as she heard what the shinobi were saying. It seems like the new ability that she created did indeed work as she had hoped it would. It not only annihilated the victim, but it also modified the memories of the people in the immediate vicinity with them being none the wiser.

She started chuckling slowly as she realized that she had three test subjects on which to experiment with different variations of her new technique.

"Well, why ḏ̷̩̥̫͂̏ȯ̵̤͉̅̀n̵̛̮̹̲̏̆̽'̵̜̮̗̙̈́͋t̷̻̻̖̮̅̈́̇̃͠ ̸̢̫̣̱̙̽Ȋ̸̻̟̻͚̣̇͝ ̶̮̻̍̋̇̇ş̷̯̽̀̃̎͝ḩ̴͕̔̂̉͠ȍ̸̧̖̩̱̭̋̉w̵͓͕̻̐̇ ̴̡͈̩̗̑͑ẙ̷̛̤̿̇͜o̴̪͎̍̋͑̈́́͜u̴̧̖͚̎̽?̵͉͖̫̗͋̾͑͝"

Ophis' voice degraded into an echoing growl dripping with corruption and insanity once more as she unleashed her power onto the three shinobi, who instantly froze up as their pupils vanished, leaving only the whites of their eyes behind.

She watched with disinterest as one screamed so hard that he ripped his throat apart and choked to death on his blood. Another one started whispering nonsensical things as he drew out his kunai, gouged his own eyes out with them, and slit his wrists, all while maintaining a smiling face that was the very definition of deranged. The final one was already dead, his head cracked open in a gruesome imitation of an egg, an effect of repeatedly smashing his head against the floor.

Sighing at the mess they made on the rug, she twitched her finger at the mess and everything vanished, leaving it as clean as ever.

'Humph. They can't even die right. At least have the decency to not make a mess on Oto-san's rug.' Ophis harrumphed as she woke Ito up and proceeded to untie the sack.

She stared and tilted her head inquisitively at the little boy clutching a battered, but clean dog plushie.


-oOo-


Innocent and scared blue eyes collided with onyx orbs filled with curiosity as the small boy wriggled out of his tight confinement. Inch by inch, he slithered out of the bag like an experienced serpent and made himself comfortable on the huge seat in front, all while not attempting to confront whom he presumed were his saviors.

And why should he? They'll just ignore him like other people.

Right now, his safety was his biggest concern. He needed to get away from here, far away from here, somewhere, where there would be no one to see around anywhere.

"Umm…"

His heart skipped a beat when he heard someone speak in front of him and by the tone of it, the special someone was trying to talk to him. Slowly, he raised his head to look at his saviors, only to get lost in the curious black eyes of the girl again. There was something odd about them. It was as if the girl was trying to do something to him through them. "Naruto…" he squeaked and frowned when he saw confusion engulf the faces of his saviors. "My name is Naruto," his attempts bore fruitful results as in a matter of seconds, the confusion vanished from their face and got replaced by something he had never seen on a stranger's face before.

Happiness and relief.

It was odd, he wouldn't lie. To have someone look at him like that felt strange. He didn't deserve those emotions. Those emotions should be reserved for someone very close and worthy, and Uzumaki Naruto was neither close to these people nor was he worthy of anything. He was nothing but a stupid child who got tricked by the people of another village.

How? Simple, they promised to give him something that he used to think of as impossible to achieve. They promised to take him away from the hell that was his village to a place that he could call home. A place where no one, and by no one, he really meant no one, would ignore him and his presence. They promised him a place where people would like and love him. It was preposterous, he knew but his little heart refused to turn down that proposal. He wanted to be loved and cherished. He wanted to be acknowledged by the people, and so he accepted their offer without giving it a second thought.

For the first few days, everything went smoothly. He felt like he was living a dream. Everywhere they went, people talked to him normally and even smiled at his jokes, something that was rarely an occurrence in Konoha. It only took him a day to forget about that village and its hostile people, but everything changed and took a dark turn when he accidentally heard the conversation of the ninjas whom he was earlier calling his saviors.

They never wanted to help him. Help? They didn't even want to keep him alive at all. They wanted to kill him and transfer the beast inside him to someone else's body. Speaking of the beast, Naruto slowly placed a hand on his abdomen and closed his eyes, stopping the tears from falling. 'I'm Kyūbi…' was the first thought that came into his mind as soon as he closed his eyes.

"Hello, Naruto."

Every thought left his mind when he heard the old man call out his name. His voice was very familiar yet completely unfamiliar at the same time. Maybe it was because he sounded just like the old Hokage from Konoha but unlike that manipulative man, this man's voice had a tinge of warmth in it. It was pleasant on his ears. "Y-yes," realizing that he had been silent for a while, Naruto decided to answer the old man.

"Are you ok, my child?"

For the third time that day, Naruto was surprised by the amount of kindness that these people had within them. Instead of telling him to go away, they were asking about his well-being. "Hmm…" he mumbled, clutching his dog plushie closer to his chest.

Ito, who has been watching the boy for a while now, grimaced when he saw Naruto recoil back in fear. Why was the boy afraid of them? He didn't know but he wanted to find out. "Who were those people?" He asked and saw the boy stiffen a little at his question.

"I don't know."

Uncertainty and despair began to brew inside Ito's heart. "Then why were they carrying you like that? Did they know-"

"They kidnapped me and were taking me to their village so that they could kill me." Naruto blurted out, pain and shame oozing out of every word that he spoke. "All four of them, not a single one was truthful."

This sentence caught Ophis' attention. How did he know there were four shinobi? The first version of the technique should have modified the memories of anyone whose chakra level wasn't a civilian's in the immediate vicinity. It worked on those Kumo nins, so why did it not work on this boy? From what she could tell from his power, his chakra levels were far above that of a normal civilian's. Ophis now gave her full attention to the boy, who was crying while clinging to the dog plushie as though it were a lifeline.

Ophis didn't like seeing him cry. It made her feel… Not right somewhere in her chest. She didn't like that feeling, but she didn't know what to do to make him stop crying.

As Ito observed Naruto, he watched as despair replaced the uncertainty and soon his heart started melting as he listened to the boy. He knew the boy was speaking the truth. There was no way a convoy of shinobi would carry a bag like that for no reason. They wanted something from this boy. "Wh-" he was about to ask a few more important questions but stopped when he saw the boy make a run towards the entrance of their inn. "Hey!" He shouted but the little boy didn't stop, he just kept running, aimlessly to a destination unknown to everyone.

"I'll bring him back, Otō-san." Ito blinked when he heard those words of Ophis and before he knew it, she too was nowhere to be seen.

"Ophis." He shouted but got no answer.


-oOo-


"Beautiful…"

A mesmerized Naruto whispered slowly as he basked at the visual in front of him. It was beautiful, even more than the forest behind the Hokage mountain. Lush green grass, fog-filled vale, and a river running through the beds of the mountains above, not only did this make the scene completely otherworldly but it also gave him a sense of peace that he had never felt before.

In a matter of seconds, this place had provided him something that Konoha couldn't in all those years. "Warmth…" a small smile blossomed on his lips as drops of warm water fell upon his cheeks from the trees above. "Hehe..." smile turned into a giggle and that giggle got lost in the fits of laughter when the droplets of water didn't stop flowing down.

Tap.

The laughs vanished as soon as the sounds of footsteps ruined the serenity of the vale. "W-who is there?!" the boy stuttered, fearing that the men might have returned to catch him again. "Show yourself," he whispered, this time a little more confident. Blue eyes that were earlier appreciating the beauty of the vale were now affixed to shadows that dominated the other side of the forest. They were scared, frightened of the thought that someone would close them again, but for forever this time.

The grass and bushes rustled as did his heart when someone pushed the shrubs away to enter the area. "You…" a sense of relief washed over his whole body as he looked at the intruder. He instantly recognized her, she was the girl from that inn.

Ophis didn't answer, instead, she just continued to stare at the boy with her curious eyes. The boy was interesting, a lot more interesting than any other human she had met till now. He had this strange aura of mystery and danger around him, just like her. Also not to mention the fact that he was able to overrule her skill of erasing memories without even doing anything, that just made him even more important in her mind. "Who are you?" a blunt question left her mouth as she continued to walk close to the boy.

Naruto immediately stepped back when he saw the girl walk towards him. Something was wrong with her and so he, for his own safety and well-being, needed to be away from her. "I-I'm Naruto-"

"I know. I'm not asking that. I'm asking who you really are?" The black-haired girl illustrated her question further. Sensing the surroundings, she could decipher that the boy was afraid of her but yet she did not attempt to calm him down. It wasn't her problem.

"Who I really am?" A thoughtful look cascaded Naruto's face. What was the girl asking? Who he really was? 'I'm no one. I'm just an ordinary-' he stopped midway when the words of that shinobi rang loudly in his mind.

'We will extract the Kyūbi from him and then kill him.'

"No!" He whispered to himself. "I'm not ordinary." His words drew the attention of Ophis. "I'm a monster…" Sounding devastated, Naruto glanced at her with the most fragile look he could muster. "Go away…" He told her. "I'm not someone with whom you should talk."

Ophis ignored his cries and requests. There was no point in following them. "I see." She finally spoke in the most normal voice possible. "Nice to meet you, monster." Raising her hand a little, she held it out for the boy. If she could remember, that's how Ito had taught her to interact with people her age and now was the best time to observe how much she had learned. "My name is Ophis and I'm not an ordinary person either. I'm a very powerful dragon."

Naruto stopped crying. "Huh?" What did she mean by being a very powerful dragon? Was this girl joking with him or was she trying to make fun of his misery? Either way, he didn't care enough.

"What?" Ophis blinked at the boy. Why was he looking at her like that? "Aren't we playing that childish game of being supernatural creatures?" She asked him.

The boy finally understood what she was doing. "I see… You are making fun of me, right?" His miserable words sparked something inside Ophis. "Go on, do it. I won't say anything. You can say whatever you want. Monsters like me deserves nothing better." With that said, Naruto turned away from her and began to stare at the ravine with his hopeless eyes.

"Why would I make fun of you?" She asked him, curious as to why he would think something like that. It wasn't in her nature to make fun of humans. They were her last hope, after all, at least the good ones were.

"Because I'm a monster-"

She interrupted him. "No…" She whispered as she slowly sat down beside him, her eyes not leaving his face even for a second. It was nice and different, she noted, especially those lines on his cheeks. "You are not a monster, at least according to me, you are not. I have seen monsters, I have fought with them. They look nothing like you."

"Liar…"

A confused look enveloped Ophis' face. "Liar? Why would I lie to you? I'm speaking the truth, human boy."

Now that earned her a reaction from Naruto. Faster than she could anticipate, he turned his face towards her and smiled. It was a delicate and pure smile and for some reason, Ophis felt satisfied to be the reason behind it. "Human boy?" Naruto recited the phrase in the most ridiculous way possible. "Why did you call me that?" He couldn't help but ask her. "What are you? My grandma or something?"

"Human child is a human child, human child. You are one of them. That's why I don't think you are a monster." Ophis answered immediately. "If you were one then you would have looked like one, but you don't. So don't try to fool me with these words of yours. Now tell me, how did you manage to dispel my memory-erasing technique?" She asked him, giving him her undivided attention.

Naruto remained silent for a while before he finally smiled at the girl again. "You know…"

"Yes?"

"You are a very interesting girl, Ophis. I think I can listen to you forever."

The world went blank for Ophis. "F-Forever?" She murmured.

"Yhh..."

Silence claimed the ravine.

'Forever.' Ophis mused as she stared at nothing in particular. 'Why would he listen to me forever? Does he even know what that word means? She was very confused. Since she didn't understand exaggerations and metaphors, she took the word to mean literally. To her, forever meant forever. How could a human listen to her until the end of time? They couldn't even live that long, and even if they could, why would he do that and not do something else instead?

As she pondered over the strange acclamation of the boy, she didn't notice a small tingling feeling that begun to churn in her heart.

The seed had been planted, it would only be a matter of time before it sprouted into something beautiful.

-END-

I hope you liked the chapter.

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Thank you.

Stay safe.