A/N: Here we go, as asked! An early update!

EDIT: Flames and trolls seem to have returned with a vengeance...sigh...

Is this what I get for updating early? Hasn't even been a week, and I thought folks would like to see this... T_T

Once more, we're sticking with the "Embers" rule for this story.

If folks don't like this, it won't be continued. Meaning that if the story itself ain't popular? POOF! Gone. Completely. I'm working two jobs during the holidays so I barely have time to write; as such, I cannot afford to write something folks don't enjoy. So by all means, speak up! Your voice matters! Make yourself heard! As ever, reviews are the fuel that sustain me. Without them I cannot write a single word. Simple as that.

Two jobs keep me absurdly busy, and I can't bring myself to write something folks don't like.

Now for your questions, comments, and concerns.

Q: How fares Elden Ring? (Old Question)

A: ...someone spoiled the whole Frenzied Flame things for me, and I'm not happy. Thankfully I avoided that, but still...

Still devouring my free time and cutting into my writing hours. Busy with online play-helping folks trounce bosses- and rescuing them from invaders. Its been a blast, but the Fire Giant has earned a special hate from me at this point. I barely beat that bastard by myself, but he's a menace that oneshots just about everyone I work with. His second phase is faaaaar easier than the first.

...I'm afraid to burn the tree. At this point, I'm going around finding extra bosses, and helping people beat Astel.

Q: How hard is Naruto going here?

A: Yes. Naruto isn't the sort that enjoys killing, but recall that death is...a transient concept for some in Elden Ring.

Q: Oh gods, he's gonna save everyone, ain't he?

A: Not all. Some don't deserve to be saved, as you well know.

Q: Do the Frenzy Flame Ending! Let Chaos Take the World!

A: NAY. I've heard about that one.


A: Yes, for once, there will be plenty of SPOILER. Haven't written those in awhile, so they'll be...interesting.

Alright then, this old man has kept you long enough! I'll let you enjoy this sappy little story.

As ever, I own no quotes references, themes or memes. Not a wit or a one!

Now then, I'll not keep you. Get ready to smile~!

Minor verbatim for ingame dialogue.

"That man...well. He doesn't take kindly to those who kill callously...or needlessly.

And what have you been doing all this time? That's right. You know.

So many lives. So much grafting, all for your precious power.

Do you hear him, now? He's coming.

Run away, little lord.

Oh, yes.



Spirits and Summons

This world was absolutely broken.

Naruto realized this fundamental truth just before the first night passed...and what an ugly truth it was. He'd known this wasn't his world. He could accept that much now, albeit begrudgingly. Everyone and everything he'd encountered here-with very few exceptions!- tried to kill him on sight. Well, good for them, but he wasn't about to go down without a fight. Again, that didn't bother him.

What bothered him, was Death. Or the apparent lack thereof in this world.

Tonight, they'd taken refuge in the crumbling remains of a church with a rather curious merchant, well outside of Stormveil Castle. The man had been more than happy to offer a great many wares at discount -and a hint about howling wolves in a place called Mistwood- in exchange for tonight's protection. As leader, first watch fell to him, leaving him to tend a lonesome fire while his companions slumbered near a half-demolished wall. His gaze flicked their way, make certain no harm had come to them while he wasn't looking, then swiveled back to the darkness.

A mute girl and a woman who could vanish into thin air made for strange bedfellows, he felt.

"Quite the merry little fellowship we're forming." Kurama remarked.

"I'll say." he nudged the fire with a stick. "Whaddya think of 'em?"

"The big one's easy to read, but the other...

"Mmm. She's more than she seems."

...you alright?"

"Just a little shaken.

He had every right to be, given what he'd witnessed today. They'd stumbled into soldiers on the way here. Not the chatty sort, those. They hadn't been willing to back down, and an attempt to skirt them led to an attack in turn. Trish had beaten them to a pulp. No contest. He'd managed to drive the rest away, but the deed was done.

A small shiver shook his shoulders. He'd recovered from that much, even forgiven her for attacking blindly. He couldn't find fault with that.

Not so what came after.

Said men had been alive and well after they rested at one of these "Grace" sites. Alive and well. They even seemed to recognize them; if only because they weren't quite so eager to engage a second time. For reasons he didn't understand, enemies seemed unable to die here; and if they did, it didn't stick for long. Did that apply to everyone, or only certain persons? Did he even want to test it?

Broken indeed.

A fitting term, given all this talk of Shattering and broken rings and whatnot. Melina had proven rather talkative in that manner. This realm, the Lands Between she called it, was in every way, screwed. Which begged the question. How to fix it? Did he even want to? Should he? Did he have that right?

"Of course you do. You're not the sort to let folk suffer."

"Yeah, I know, but I don't even know where-

His senses tingled, warning him..

"Might I have a word?"

He pivoted in place. A woman in white robes awaited him, perched upon a rocky outcrop. Four hands folded in her lap. Blue hands. He tilted his head, trying to get a look beneath the wide-brimmed hat she wore, and succeeded at the last. A lone eye regarded him from a cherubic face, pale as can be.

"A pleasure to meet thee tarnished." her voice was low, husky even. "I am the witch, Renna."

He knew a lie when he sensed one. "...that's not your real name is it?"

She didn't answer.

"Aw, c'mon!" he winced a little, sensing her anger. "I wasn't trying to make you angry! You're cold, right? There's plenty of space here at the fire...

She didn't budge.

A blond brow rose. "Really?"

Her brow furrowed. "I do not require warmth."

Be that way, would she? Fine. Then he'd come to her.

"I've heard tell of a warrior hurtling about these lands, making all manner of madness." her lone eye drilled into him as he picked himself up and wandered her way. "And upon looking into the matter, the talk, I surmise, is of thee?"

Heat crept up the back of his neck. He scratched at it."That'd be me, yeah."

"As I thought." a thin smile was his reward. "Then I must ask...what do you hope to gain from all this?"

"Nothin', really." he turned and stared back into the campfire, heat smoldering in his eyes. "I like helping people." as she looked on he threw a stick into it, sparking the dying embers to new heights. "This place...seems like it needs a lot of help." his spirit warmed to the words, even as he said them. "So that's what I'm gonna do."

He didn't really know where to start, but he'd be damned if he didn't try.

"Fool of a boy." her lips pursed into a thin line. "You cannot save everyone.

He laughed at her. Actually dared to laugh, as he hadn't in a long time. "See, that sounds like a challenge...and I've never backed down from one of those."

"I ask again," Ranni pressed, "What does thou hope to gain?"

Naruto smiled. He had his answer at last.



He'd spoken with the Witch last night.

Melina knew it was no business of hers. Indeed, anyone else would have been well asleep. She'd only noticed by chance; and in noticing, her anxiety raced to new heights. It galled her. She was no true Maiden, not really, but she had her Purpose. Just as Ranni likewise had hers.

He need not consort with that one.

And yet he had. They'd sat and talked for some time.

Her Tarnished was a curious sort it seemed. Such rankled, but she couldn't fault him for it.

Perhaps he wasn't her Tarnished at all; he didn't act like one in the least. He had no destination in mind; indeed, he wandered hither and yon without a care in the world. She'd already tried to nudge him in the direction of Stormveil Castle and the Great Rune within, but he seemed immune to her machinations.

He'd laughed when she offered to turn his runes to strength; because you see, he didn't have any runes.

Naruto had not slain a single soul. Not since he'd come to this land. Not a one.

Even now she watched him lay out a soldier with a powerful punch to the head. He stooped to a knee, made certain the poor soul still lived, and kept walking. Baffling! Others parted for him, falling to fists and techniques she'd not seen the like of. None could touch him. None came close. And still, he remained in his base state.

This man was a warrior, a fighter. He knew his way around the battlefield and fought with frightful speed. His techniques rent armor apart and his fist shattered weapons like so much kindling. Where he walked, enemies fell in trove. He could have torn his way through them in a tornado of blood, reaped their runes and left them to rot. Yet he didn't.


Why wouldn't he kill?

He wasn't afraid to fight, but the injuries he inflicted were of a minor sort.

Not so the Tree Sentinel, or Trish, as he called her. She'd seen her fight; that one was a whirlwind of woe to any who came near her or her mount; the wise fled at the sight of her...the foolhardy had their heads stove in by halberd and shield. But not her Tarnished. She deferred to him wordlessly, as was her wont. He must be a soft sort. The realization alarmed her, and not in a good way. Her Tarnished wanted to help others, to heal rather than hurt.

Wait. Her Tarnished? She'd only known him for a few days. When had she come think of him as such?

Moreover, who did he think he was, sparing his foes?


That settled it, then.

Her Tarnished was bloody mad.

Melina felt he must be insane; if only because it explained his recent spate of actions. He did not seek out Godrick the Grafted as his kin had before him; no, nay, never. He seemed intent on ranging about the wilds in search of every nook and cranny. Every chest, every bit of material, anything he could get his hands on. When his tall companion balked at such he simply pointed out that they'd need such things to survive. Melina felt he was just hoarding things.

Would he be strong enough to face Godrick, in all his grisly glory?

She could but hope; twisted though he may be, he was a demigod. He'd been the end of many a Tarnished before.

"Oi, do you have ta do that?" Naruto turned suddenly, looking right at her, right through her hidden spectral form. "If you're gonna travel with us, you could at least help shoulder some of our burdens. Carry some stuff, ya know?"

Melina bridled. It was a bluff. He couldn't be aware of her presence-nay, surely not. None could find her, or harm her, in her spectral form.

Ignore him. Maybe if she remained silent, perfectly still, he'd let her be.

"I may not be able to see ya when you're like that, but I can sense ya pretty easily." Naruto planted a fist on his hip, tone almost chiding toward her, as an elder brother might speak unto a younger sibling. "Now come down here, stop hiding, and quit wasting everyone's time."



...damn him.

She appeared with a huff. "You need not be rude about it."

"Ain't trying to be." he drawled. "But if you wanna help us, you can at least do your part."

Rather than relent, Melina steered the subject to safer waters. "You would do well not to trust that witch."

"Nah," that dazzling smile flashed out again, stark as sunbeams. "I think I'll be alright. She doesn't seem the like the dangerous sort, ya know?"

How very little he knew. That one was dangerous. She knew full well, after all. "Her name is-

"Ranni, I know." his head bobbed. "She told me."

Melina balked. "How did you...?"

"Well, she introduced herself as Renna at first," his lips quirked in a small smile as the walked, "But she told me after I badgered her a bit. Ran away soon after that, though."

Ranni? Running away? How unlike her. No, that wasn't her concern. Not anymore. Melina grit her teeth until she felt her jaw ache...no, she couldn't break their pact. Alay, alas, the deed was done, the deal made, their accord sealed in both word and bond. It could not be undone so easily. He didn't seem to care. Fine. If he didn't care, then she cared not what he thought, not a jot!

"Witches aside, I suggest you take heed in other matters." and if her words were a tad clipped, she pretended not to notice. "Lest you run afoul and find yourself grafted by Godrick."

"You've said that word before. Grafting." His gaze snapped to hers. "Tell me more about this grafting thing."

A cold certainty settled in Melina's gut. Surely he knew? He must. He couldn't be so ignorant.

"Do you truly not know?"

He squinted at her, rather reminding her of a fox. "Know what?"

Perhaps it was remiss of her to manipulate him in such a manner -his expression said he knew full well what she was doing!- but his love for life could be a boon here. If he knew the atrocities that...thing committed every day, then he might yet hasten to stop him. Or die, a nasty little voice whispered in the back of her head.

Nonsense. He wouldn't fall so easily. Surely.

"You truly are a stranger to these lands, aren't you?" she tried to keep the scorn from her words, to no avail. "He kills dozens of Tarnished by the day and adds them to his...host. His body."

The silence that followed threatened to choke the very life from her lungs.

Blue eyes glazed over, cold with anger. "Does he, now...

Melina let him go and vanished back into the ether.

Not an hour later, they came upon the shack.


"Everyone's been grafted."

Three little words, yet they set Naruto's blood to boiling.

"Everyone who came with me." the hooded woman at his feet continued to babble, heedless of his mounting rage. "They crossed the sea for me. They fought, for me." she hugged herself, as though afraid her limbs would come flying off at any moment, "Only to have their arms taken...and their legs...and their heads." she swallowed once, shivering a little. "All of it, taken and stuck to the spider...

He hadn't thought to find anyone here, let alone a tale of woe like this.

"Spider?" he croaked out, remembering Melina's warning.

"Didn't you know?" she looked up at him, eyes damp. "If you're stuck to the spider, you become a chrysalid. Quite the lark, when you think about it." A weak laugh tumbled out of her. "You're headed to Stormveil Castle, aren't you? Hope you weren't enticed by that fellow with the strange mask.

His brow furrowed. He hadn't met a man in a mask.

"You've come to be one with the Spider, I presume?" he could feel the front she was putting up, even through her fear. "That makes us two peas in a pod. But I don't have your courage. Its scary, you know." her voice warbled a little now, tiny pitiful thing that she was. "Having your arms cut off, or your legs...or...or your head...

She lowered her head in shame.

...I want to be like everyone else, but I'm just too scared. I'm nothing but a craven, you see."

He knelt before her and didn't budge.

"If its not too much trouble...could you pass on a message for me, if you see the little chrysalids up in the castle?" earnest eyes turned up to meet his once more. "Tell them...tell them, I love them. And that despite my craven heart, I'm sure I'll be joining them soon enough. I'm finally getting the hang of this "pain" thing, you know."

Kuram absolutely hissed in his head.

Naruto felt a strange sensation bloom in his chest. It felt...hot. Hate. Was this hate? How long had it been since he experienced it? Not since Pain, not this raw, primal level of anger. That settled it. He'd be having a word with this Godrick fellow. Several words. Loud words, involving fists, and quite possibly a Rasengan...or three.

"I suggest a Rasenshuriken."

"Can you perhaps take this little one along with you?" she offered him a box of ashes, tugging him back to reality. "The poor thing deserves someone braver than me, I think." there it was again, that shy tremulous smile, as if she half-expected him to break her in half. "And the spirits look rather fondly upon you. It'll be glad of your company, I think, the little one.

Naruto made up his mind.

His hands flew out and seized hers.

"So you can use summoning jutsu, then? That's amazing!"


"So you can use summoning jutsu, then? That's amazing!"

Of all the words Roderika had hoped to hear, these were not that.

Jutsu? What on earth was a jutsu? And his hands were so very terribly warm! Her eyes flitted down to her fingers, clasped between his palms. Treacherous fingers betrayed her and squeezed a little tighter.

"You really think so?" the words babbled out of her in a rush. Then came her shame. "I'm afraid you're mistaken, sir. I'm not amazing, no, not at all-

"None of that!" his cry slew her doubts before they could take root. "Its tough at first, starting out as a summoner. Believe me, I know." His head bobbed before she could muster the nerve to speak. "But you mustn't give up!" Those strong arms thrashed hers up and down as he shook her hands. "It gets easier after awhile! Trust me!"

She jolted beneath the force of his words.

...who was he?!

He had stumbled upon her by purest chance, and now he seemed hellbent on lifting her spirits.

Heh. Spirits. A poor joke.

Even so, the man before her burned so bright in her sixth sense; a sun in all its gleaming glory. Even the Erdtree itself seemed dim by comparison-no, no, such thoughts were blasphemy.

Speaking of which, he had a bloody Tree Sentinel right there behind him! Couldn't they read minds? She'd heard the stories. And really, what was he doing with a Sentinel, anyway? That brute had nearly felled more than a few of her friends before...before Godrick's men came. Would that giant knight lop off her head...?

"You should come with us!"

Roderika's neck nearly suffered whiplash. "Me?!" The word emerged as a tiny squeak. "I couldn't possibly...I'd only slow you down, and its not safe out there...

A blond brow quirked. "Ain't much safer here."

He was right about that much...a strong breeze could knock these walls down.

"Look," he raised a thumb to his mouth, just shy of his lips. "Lets compromise. If I beat this Godrick guy-

The Tree Sentinel made a disbelieving noise behind their helm.

-then would you come with us?" Naruto finished.

Could he? This particular Tarnished did not lack for confidence, if nothing else. But did he possess the ability? Could a mere mortal ever hope to best a demigod? She'd never laid eye on Godrick the Grafted, not herself, but she'd heard tell of him all the same. Legends had it he was terribly strong, even in his waning age. Powerful enough to still be Lord of Stormveil, even after all this time.

...the roads would certainly be safer." Roderika shook her head a moment later, refusing to dwell on such. "But you can't! He's much too powerful, even for someone like you!"

"Great!" his smile told her she'd fallen right into his trap. "'Till then, I'll leave you with a guard. Just in case."

Before she could think to stop him, he bit down on his thumb.

Blood sprayed forth. Roderika jerked back, hands flailing to protect her face. "What're you doing?!"

"This." he grinned, took three long strides backward for safety, and slapped his hand against the ground. "Summoning jutsu!"

Smoke sprayed forth as runic script burst forth from his palm. A dark shape emerged from within, looming large over the shack, larger now, largest still. Roderika looked up, squinting against the haze. What was that? An enemy dragon perhaps? It was so terribly large...

A sudden gust of wind swept the smoke away.

The Tree Sentinel made a terrified noise. Roderika stood in agreement. Not a dragon. Nay, not at all!

She felt her jaw click open all the same. "That...is a very large frog."

"Toad, actually." Naruto corrected. "They're touchy about that."

Why?! Bloody blasted thing was bigger than a house!

"Yo, Naruto!" the beast bade the blond greeting, because, apparently it could speak?! Oh gods, she felt faint. "Long time no see!"

"Hey, Gamakichi!" her fellow blond waved up at the monstrosity. "I need a favor! Would you mind...

Roderika barely heard the enthusiastic exchange that followed between the unlikely do. She retreated inward, withdrawing to a tiny inlet of calm within her mind. Even then her world swam anew and she felt faint. Not only did he have a spirit inside him, but he could summon them? How paltry that made her seem. He hadn't even summoned something from the ashes; this was a living, breathing creature and ohhhhhowhadshegottenintothismess?!


The summoner blinked, drawn back to reality by the tugging of her sleeve.

"Just stay put with my buddy, here?" The blond man offered her his hand. "I promise he'll protect ya. I'll be right back."

Bold, this one! Did he even realize what he was saying?

Her fingers curled around his, ever so gently.

...might I have your name, sir?"


Nepheli knelt before the dead man and paid her respects.

"Be proud." she touched a hand to the chest of the sundered knight shivering at her feet. "You were a fine warrior. Your only mistake was your choice of master." her hand eased the dented visor shut, obscuring the bloody ruin of the man's face from sight alongside his last gaprs. "Rest, now. Let the winds lift you to a higher place."

The warrior expired beneath her with a rasping gurgle. It almost sounded like a sigh.

She straightened with one of her own. Such a pity. Though their Lord was rotten and their bodies twisted within, these were fine fighters. It shamed her to slay such. But it was her duty. They could not be suffered to live, not as they mindless monsters they'd become in the wake of the Shattering.

Now for Godrick.

She would face him and slay him, or die in the offing.

The door slammed open. Nepheli jerked back, reaching for an ax, prepared for an attack

She had time enough to take in bright blue eyes, whiskered cheeks dimpled in a scowl, and sunny blond hair. Then he was upon her, all but flinging himself into the room.

"You!" the word burst out of the intruder in a shout that shook her bones. He both looked and sounded fed up beyond measure. "Don't you dare!"

Nepheli found herself standing at attention despite it. "Me?"

"You gonna attack us like everyone else?!"

She shook her head slowly. Nay. Not on her best day. Not when he was covered in that much blood, none of it his own. Had he waded through the castle to get here? And who was that giant of a woman after him? She couldn't even fit through the doorway, such was her height; she had to physically crouch down just to look in after him. Closer inspection revealed golden armor, a familiar halberd and...oh. Oh shit. Nepheli's blood ran cold. Tree Sentinel.

What was a spirits-damned Sentinel doing her...?

"Tarnished, are you?" she took the initiative for what it was and made curt introductions. "I am Nepheli Loux, Tarnished, and warrior, here by decree of my father." she cast a glance to the knight at her feet. "How utterly repellent this is. This grafting of Godricks ill befits a lord. He's tainted the very winds."

He was just...staring at her. Did he even hear what she was saying?

"If you intend to challenge Godrick, I ask that you call upon me to fight by your side." she could only assume he was, with a look like that about him. "The winds run cold with his deeds." and so did she at the thought of facing him alone. "I'm certain father would permit me to aid you in the coming battle."

"Did I hear right, just now?" The man stormed forward, claiming her attention once more. "You after Godrick?"

Her brain fizzled under his direct gaze. "...yes?"

Blue eyes sparked with wild fury.

"That sounds grand."

A/N: EDIT: There's a reason we didn't see Margit/Morgott in this chapter. Next one will reveal why~!

Better run Godrick...oooooh, too late...

Fight next chapter.

Well? Did you like this story? Yes? No? Maybe? Speak out! Make yourselves heard! Your voice matters~!

Once more, we're sticking with the "Embers" rule for this story.

If folks don't like this, it won't be continued. Meaning that if the story itself ain't popular? POOF! Gone. Completely. I'm working two jobs during the holidays so I barely have time to write; as such, I cannot afford to write something folks don't enjoy. So by all means, speak up! Your voice matters! Make yourself heard! As ever, reviews are the fuel that sustain me. Without them I cannot write a single word. Simple as that.

So in the Immortal Words of Atlas...

...Review, Would You Kindly?

And have some previews.

Granted, some are far off, but still...


Naruto cracked his knuckles.


No one understood.

Fools and fops, the lot of them, unable to understand his greatness.

"Mighty dragon, thou'rt a trueborn heir." he touched a six-fingered hand to its mangled throat. "Lend me thy strength, o kindred. Deliver me unto greater heights...

The door stirred behind him.

...well, now. A lowly tarnished." he gripped the haft of his ax, blood warming to battle. "Playing as a lord, are we?"

He paused. Not just one Tarnished. Another. And behind them...?

The man gagged. "How many lives did you graft to yourself...

"As many as needed! And many more to come! I command thee, kneel! I am the Lord of all that is golden!"


Wait. Ground?

Why ground, now?

Dazed, blinking, his thoughts came back to him. Distantly, he registered an awful ache in his jaw; his face level with the dirt in a way no self-respecting lord desired. Struck. Had someone dared to strike him, Godrick the Golden? The gall of it all. His rage blazed, hotter than a dragon's flame. And still that filthy tarnished stalked his way.

"Get up." the words were a growl, righteous fury made manifest. "Take your lumps like a man!"

Godrick tried to rise, only for another impossibly fast blow to catch his face.

Blood fountained forth from his split lip. "I...I am the lord of...


"Hey!" A young woman in robes waved a hand, flailed it really, from over the next rise. Then louder, now. "HEY!"

Naruto looked left. Naruto looked right. "Who, me?"

He touched it, that little speck of light, and the world...shifted.


He kicked back out of habit and realized too late where he'd landed. Gone were the rolling green hills and giant golden tree; in its place he found naught but dead wastes and...

...that is a big dragon."

He looked up. The dragon looked down, rooted where it lay. Its great scaly snout somehow managing to convey surprise despite its girth.

It was trapped, just laying there in the rot. Absolutely massive too, large enough to give Kurama a run for his money.

And then it roared.

"Aaargh! My ears!"

He had an awful moment to see the flames building in the back of its throat; flames that guttered out with a dull whine as a rather put out Kurama reared up around him and stomped a golden paw upon its head. The moment of sheer realization made his brush with death all the more with it.

"Bad lizard! Calm down! I ain't here to fight ya!"

EDIT: Yes, that's Greyroll, giant dragon of the Caelid Wilds. Needless to say we have plans for her.