The Hidden Heart of the Nausicaa Forest
I do not own Naruto. This is a complete work of fiction. Enjoy.
Chapter 1 – The Start of an Adventure
The sun had started to set in Konoha. Orange and red covered the sky where the pale blue had once been. A good sign for a certain blonde.
It was closing time for the flower shop, and Ino Yamanaka could not be happier. She had closed shop and was on the hunt for her teammates, Shikamaru and Chouji. Hmmm, where are they, she wondered. It felt like the blonde had searched everywhere but couldn't find them. Out of thin air, a figure appeared before her. It was Genma. The Jounin had the usual senbon between his lips. "The Hokage wants you."
Genma always came off as confident and cool, at times jovial. But now…It seemed to Ino that he was being uncharacteristic. He eyed the blonde in a way that made her uncomfortable. "Um…Okay. I'll head to her office now."
Ino walked away, bowing as she passed him. Genma didn't do or say anything back. That was strange, Ino thought. She looked over her shoulder and saw that he was gone.
In front of the Hokage building, Ino came across Sakura and Naruto who stopped to greet her, Sasuke was already walking through the doors. "Hey, Ino-pig. What are you doing here? I didn't hear anything about a pig convention."
"I swear that forehead of yours gets shinier every day, we might have to start wearing sunglasses when we're around you or else we'll go blind."
"What did you say!" Naruto held back an angry Sakura. Ino only laughed.
"Let's just head upstairs," said Naruto. Ah, Sakura smells as beautiful as usual.
"Fine…Sasuke-kun! Wait for me!" Sakura pushed off Naruto and ran inside the building. The two blonde gave each other a knowing look and sighed before entering the building themselves.
Inside, Sasuke stood by a door, Hinata, Neji and Rock Lee were with him.
"Hey, Rock Lee and Neji. You, too?" Naruto approached the two.
Ino's heart almost stopped when she saw Neji. He caught her eyes but she turned away. Her hands where shaking and inside she felt rage but she pushed her emotions aside and greeted Rock Lee and Hinata.
"Ah! Hinata! How long were you standing there?" Naruto rubbed the back of his head as the girl stammered that she had been standing there the entire time.
"I wonder what kind of mission Tsunade is sending us to?" Asked Sakura.
"Well, there's only one way to find out." Naruto opened the door and walked into a room filled with scrolls and books.
"That's not the Hokage's office, Naruto." Naruto could hear Sakura, Ino and Rock Lee sniggering behind him. Neji exhaled as Sasuke shook his head. "Idiot."
In the Hokage's office, a young woman with pale blonde hair sat behind a desk. Behind her were large windows with a good view of Konoha. Although the woman appeared young, she was older than what she let on to be, much older. Standing across from her was another woman except with short hair the color of coal. In her hands were several books and sheets of paper. The first woman had been writing something on her desk but glanced at the other woman and sighed with disbelief.
"More work? Shizune, how much work are you planning on making me do! Tch, this isn't exactly the job I signed up for you know?"
The woman, referred as Shizune, shoved what she carried on top of the cluttered desk. She roared, "Tsunade-sama! You are the Hokage so it is your responsibility to- " which was all Tsunade could bear.
While Shizune kept lecturing her about her responsibility and what-not, Tsunade took this chance to rest from her work and rub her throbbing head. Man, do I need a drink and bad. From under her desk, Tsunade took out a stash of sake and gulped it down.
It was then that the door of the office opened and seven Genins filed in. Tsunade quickly hid her stash. She nonchalantly prompted her elbows on her desk while weaving her fingers together. Some of them raised an eyebrow at her, wondering what the blonde had hidden in such a rush. However, the expression she gave them suggested they ignore it.
Tsunade's features was laughably ironic, her stern amber eyes indicated she wasn't someone to mess with but her smile proved a mischievous side. All seven positioned themselves in a row in front of her desk
"Okay let's get things started. This mission requires only the seven of you. No Jonin would participate. And just in case you're asking why I chose the seven of you, it is because each of you have the necessary skills to complete this mission. The mission can't wait, so you are to leave tonight at exactly at 21:00."
"Why can't we at least have more time to get prepared," whined Naruto.
"You heard her Naruto. Stop complaining! Where is this mission taking place?" asked Sakura.
"In the great Forest of Nausicaa" replied Shizune. "where the ancient village known as Mizuho resides. It lays deep inside the forest's heart, hidden for many years from human contact. It is said to have been deserted hundreds of years ago and as the villagers that had once resided inside disappeared, the town itself remained."
"Wow, sounds really cool! Okay, I changed my mind. Now I can't wait to start this mission!"
"Yeah, me neither. I can't wait to get lost in a forest searching for a hidden village." Ino rolled her eyes in disbelief at the Kyuubi boy.
"I kind of agree." Sakura pointed out, "How exactly are we supposed to find a 'hidden' village,"
"Shut the hell up! I thought you were the rookie nine, the best genins Konoha has had in a long time. I took you all for shinobi. Now are you guys shinobis or not?" Everyone nodded their heads, "so then stop complaining and do what shinobis do! Figure it out for yourselves!"
Breaking the tension, Neji asked, "So what are we searching for specifically?"
"There is intel that suggest a secret scroll buried inside of Mizuho. It is rumored to contain some of the most powerful Ninjutsu, Genjutsu, Taijutsu-" Shizune was cut off by Lee's sudden scream of glee.
"You mean it contains information about an all-powerful Taijutsu?" Shizune nodded. The leotard boy squealed, "Gai-sensei, you'll soon be proud of your pupil for he would surely improve our powerful youth!" Lee started jumping around with stars in his eyes. The people in the room sweat dropped, some smacked their foreheads.
"Like Shizune was saying, it holds important Jutsu information never known to any shinobi before us. That is why you must retrieve the scroll and bring it back here with any additional information that you could find. This is all rumors, of course, and the intel indicates nothing about any danger. This mission is classified as a C-Rank, without a Jonin being required. You seven would suffice."
Tsunade had a serious tone but it swiftly changed with a sly smile.
"It would take you guys at least a week to arrive at the heart of the forest. From then on, I don't know how long it will take to find the hidden village. So be good kids and play nice".
She darted her eyes between Ino and Sakura, then to Sasuke followed by Naruto and Hinata. This earned her some confused looks.
"Don't look so confused. Let's see some enthusiasm in this group! Yatta!"
The Hokage pumped a fist in the air, several shinobi followed with half-hearted "Hurray."
I'll be on a mission with Naruto, Hinata blushed slightly.
"Hn, whatever," said Sasuke.
Hinata started packing her bag for the mission. She couldn't believe she was going to be in the same mission with Naruto.
Oh, Naruto, I'm so happy that I'm going to be with you. This time I'll try my best to not be weird around him. I'll also give it my best effort to have a complete conversation with him. I'll try to at least...
Hinata stared at herself in the mirror. I wonder if he thinks of me like I think of him. Hinata turned beet red.
"Naruto..." whispered Hinata.
"Hinata hurry up or we're going to be late."
Hinata, startled, fell on her butt in front of her mirror. She blushed in embarrassment. She gawked at her cousin, who stared back with a blank expression.
She jabbed both of her index finger together and gazed down.
"N..Ne..Neji. I didn't notice you there." Neji walk over her bed and grab her bag.
Hinata stood up and dusted off her pants.
"Here, now let's go." Neji handed her the bag and walked out of her room.
Sakura happily brushed her hair.
Inner Sakura started throwing fist around while screaming Cha, I'm going to show off in front of that Ino-pig while Sasuke's watching, he'll be impressed with me then with her. Cha, I'll show her who the toughest female ninja is around here. CHA!
She finished brushing her hair, fetched her bag and headed for the door.
All seven were to meet at Konoha's entrance gate before starting the mission. Sakura frowned, "I can't believe I'm in the same team with bushy eye-brows. I won't get a chance to be alone with Sasuke. With both Naruto and Rock Lee bothering me, Ino-pig would win Sasuke for sure."
"No! I won't allow for that to happen in a million years!" The pink haired girl stomped off to the meeting place.
"I'm so excited! Believe it!" Naruto's bag was mostly filled with instant ramen in a cup.
"I can't wait to find the hidden village and jutsu scroll. I can just see it, the greatest jutsu that no other ninja had ever seen before. Erm, wait."
He shrugged it off, unable to withstand his excitement so the boy hurried to the meeting location.
Yes! I'm on the same team as my lovely Sakura. I will make her mine for sure. Lee smiled as his teeth twinkled.
"Hn." Sasuke grabbed his bag and walked out the door.
It was now 21:00 o'clock. Ino, Sasuke, Neji, Naruto, Hinata, Sakura, and Rock Lee stood waiting at the entrance gate.
Shizune appeared. "Well, here's the map you'll need to reach the Forest of Nausicaa. You know the warnings. Do not eat any strange fruit, animal or plants unless you want to speed up your death. For your sake Naruto, you better heed the warning. Now hurry up and go!" She disappeared in a puff of smoke.
"Sigh, I can't believe this is actually happening" whispered Ino to herself.
"Come on, let's go" yelled Naruto.
Eager, he started off, leaving Konoha behind. Everyone else followed.
A few minutes later.
"We're here!" said Naruto.
"That was quick." Everyone sweat dropped.
Everyone couldn't help but stare in awe at the grand forest that lay before them. The trees in the forest were the largest they've ever seen, even larger than the forest of Death where they had taken the Chuunin exam. This forest had an ancient and mystical atmosphere. The forest ground appeared as if it had never seen light.
"Well, let's stop standing here and go in already!" yelled Ino already irritated. She pushed past Naruto.
The girl just wanted to hurry up and get the mission over with. "What's wrong with miss bossy Yamanaka?" Naruto glared at the girl.
"What would you expect, it's pig-girl, everything is wrong with her." Haruno snickered loud enough for Ino to hear.
"Shut up! Forehead!" yelled Ino at the girl behind her, stomping towards the forest.
Great they already fighting and we're not even inside the forest, so annoying, thought Sasuke.
He started walking, following Ino. Neji just watched the whole scene and scoffed. He then followed too along with the rest.
Now in the forest, they walked past a bunch of giant tree. The tree made them seem very small. Sakura shuddered.
"So how do we reach the heart of the forest?" asked Hinata.
"Well, when you think about it, they never gave us a map of the forest," Sakura answered.
"Ugh, use that big forehead of yours," replied Ino. " All we have to do is keep going straight. Mizuho is at the heart of the forest. Which can translate to the center of the forest. If we go straight then we're bound to reach the center that way."
"Are you sure?" questioned Naruto. Well, that's what I think would get this mission over quicker. For a moment, Ino considered if whether going straight would cause them more hardship.
'Hmmm, oh well'.
The deeper they went into the forest the stranger things became.
"Everything is getting creepier by the minute," Sakura observed.
"Don't worry! I'll protect you," Lee told Sakura.
He winked at her and smiled. Sakura shuddered yet again.
I don't know what's creepier the forest or the thought of bushy-eyebrows protecting me? thought Sakura.
Ino was at the front of the group, behind her was Sasuke, Neji, Sakura and Lee. Naruto and Hinata were at the back of the group. Hinata blushed and bit her lips while thinking of what to say to Naruto.
"I found a book that gives some detail about this forest," started Sakura, disturbing the silence.
"It said that the Hidden village of Mizuho was the best hidden village ever. That's why no one knew of it's existent. It spoke about how less than a thousand years ago many demons and beast lived inside the great Forest of Nausicaa.
The most giant of creatures to the smallest anyone had ever laid eyes on. That's why no one, not even a ninja had ever dared to enter this forest. Since Mizuho was deep inside the forest's heart, no one could ever reach the village alive."
Everyone listened intently at Sakura, some with piqued interest.
"What happened to the demons and beasts?" enquired Hinata.
"No one knows since they stayed away from the forest all up until now. I'm not even sure if they're dead," said Sakura.
"Why the hell will Tsunade send us to a forest like this, when no one is sure if the creatures inside are still alive?" Naruto asked himself, " Is she trying to kill us?"
And you were so excited about this you idiot! The blonde girl thought to herself.
"We may not be high ranking ninjas," Rock Lee exclaimed, " But together we could be as powerful as 3 Jounin!"
Hinata added, "Remember what the Hokage said, we each have different skills required for completion of this mission. Even if there are still some creatures alive, Tsunade knows we are strong enough for this mission. She selected the best."
"You're right, Hinata! You're so smart," Naruto told the shy girl. The Hyuuga girl turned red. 'What about me,' Lee pouted in darkness.
"For now, we should quickly find a place to camp for the night," suggested Sasuke.
After setting camp and taking pre-cautions, everyone headed to sleep. They had a long journey ahead of them.
Hope you enjoy the story. Thank you for reading!