Greetings one and all to another new chapter of Kage no Naruto. Once again, sorry about how long it's taken to update, blame life, or anything really as long as it isn't me. Now then, there is one thing that I would like to address before I begin the chapter. Someone asked whether Tayuya would be brought back, due to the entire 'harem' premise earlier in the story. I have to say that, looking back, that doing such a harem pairing would be in bad taste, and have decided that it wouldn't be in character for him to get into relationships with so many and decided to change the decision. What the final pairing will be, or whether there shall be any pairing at all, will be kept secret until it is published. I hope that nobody gets angry over this and that you continue to enjoy the story. With that said let the chapter begin, starting with a familiar sight.

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Summary of last chapter

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Team Hawk manages to return to civilization to prepare for their journey into Tsuchi no Kuni.

In Konoha, Tsunade has sent a missive to Kirigakure, and several teams to locate the Nanabi Jinchuuriki in hopes of gaining him as an ally in exchange for the protection of Konohagakure from Oinin. This is all done in hopes of beefing up the forces that she can bring to bear against Naruto when the time comes.

Naruto himself has been notified of the extermination of the Sound Four, and has been seen writing something in a large book, purpose unknown.

Finally, Gomorrah, the Raikage, and Kirabi have continued their battle against Pein, the last scene in the chapter being the Raikage attacking almost all of the bodies at once with a large-scale electrical attack.

Did Pein survive? What is that book that Naruto is writing? All these things and more shall be revealed… eventually. So read this chapter hoping that they're revealed here instead of in chapter ninety two.

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With the Raikage, Kirabi, and Gomorrah

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The storm of lighting ripped through the air, directed outward and then upward by Kirabi's blades and the Raikage's will. When he did so, six of the seven Pein bodies were caught inside the blast. The only one who wasn't inside that storm of electricity was the Hungry Ghost Realm body which Gomorrah pulled away to prevent him from absorbing the attack.

Kirabi stood back and enjoyed the sight of the people who were chasing him minutes before getting fried, while Gomorrah focused more on breaking the Hungry Ghost Realm's neck. The assault of deadly lightning only lasted a few seconds, but those seconds were more than enough to fry anything inside the enclosure. And surely enough, six blackened, charred bodies fell to earth inside the enclosure or in the surrounding area.

The Raikage, exhausted and still half buried in the ground, simply let his arm flop to the ground and let out a heavy sigh of exhaustion. Kirabi let out a cheer of victory.

Gomorrah was reeling in the broken body of the Hungry Ghost Realm. When he had it upon the tree branch, he quickly pulled out a scroll from his pocket, the one he had just in case he had a corpse he needed to bring back. Every General had at least one, just in case. He sealed the corpse into its writing to give to Hogback. If the trick behind the thing's absorption could be harnessed and reproduced, his Lord could surely make use of it. With that piece of business concluded, he turned his attention to the Raikage and his brother.

What none of them saw was the man crouched in the bushes several yards out of the way. Nagato had managed to escape from the dangerous blast, but he did not escape unharmed. His left arm hung at his side, horribly burned. The skin was a mix of red, black, and pink, the flesh melted like wax and withered, clinging to his bones. The broken skin oozed with blood and clear fluid.

He was not sure if he should be thankful that it did not hurt.

But Nagato did know that he could not let this go without retribution. Though it was far more difficult with simply one handed seals, he still managed to call lightning into his hand and sent it darting forward toward the foe that had so mutilated him.

The Raikage was only spared because Nagato was so unused to unorthodox methods of Ninjutsu such as one handed handseals. Instead of spearing him through the heart like he had intended, it struck him in his right arm, the arm he had used to attack the bodies of Pein. It pierced through muscle and bone of the shoulder. As the Raikage roared in the sudden and unexpected pain of the lightning, Nagato cursed at his foul aim, but still took advantage of his strike, quickly drawing the stream of energy to the right, all but severing the arm, the flesh burning and bubbling where the focused bolt of lightning touched flesh before the lightning vanished.

Gomorrah and Kirabi immediately turned toward where the strike had come from and leapt into the bushes, heading forward quickly and purposefully, keeping a careful and wary eye on their surroundings. But there was nothing to be found. Nagato had made his escape the moment he had burned off the Raikage's arm.

When the two returned to the downed Raikage, he had ripped himself from the earth and separated the strand of flesh that kept his arm attached to him, letting the limb drop to the ground as he dressed his wound. He looked up at the two and said, in a tired, agonized voice "Take me back to Kumo, the doctors may be able to do something."

Kirabi wasted no time, quickly picking up his elder sibling under his arm, picking up the one from the ground to carry back as well. Gomorrah simply stood there, carefully observing the leader of Kumogakure no Sato.

Before Kirabi could haul the man off back home, the Raikage opened his eyes and looked at Gomorrah. He said "Tell your Master what happened here." Then he closed his eyes. Whether he drifted into unconsciousness or went into shock, who can say.

Gomorrah knew that Kirabi wouldn't have to look hard to find a rescue team meant for his recovery. Odds were good that the Raikage would make it back to Kumo without much incident. With that thought in mind, Gomorrah used the power of his Gem, using the darkness to travel from the patch of woodland, from there to the center of his Master's power.

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With Anko

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Anko was very much irritated.

She had been running around the continent looking for a book. She had a grand ten Soldiers in order to assist her with that task.

So, she had been using all of her patience not to strangle everyone she spoke to when she went about this extremely undesirable task, trying to find a think black leather volume. She checked the cities, which took weeks at a time to look through where the thing could have been and asking around. She checked the country, which was much easier half of the time when the people she was talking to couldn't even read and so didn't know what a book was, and harder half the time when she stumbled across some stern looking untrusting community with too many old people who wished she would burst into flames on the spot.

At the moment, she was at some moderately decent inn driving up her blood alcohol percentage. She couldn't help it. She was so frustrated from dealing with obnoxious city people for weeks and months who acted as if she couldn't turn them into a paste, and she couldn't DO just that because she didn't want to broadcast her location, and dealing with suspicious country hicks and their overpriced goods and constant stares, and dealing with the ignorant country hicks who couldn't tell you the difference between katakana and kana. It was simply all too much, and she needed some way to relax, so here she was gulping down sake by the bottle for an hour and a half, and planning to do so for another hour and a half before she stumbled, or crawled, up the stairs to collapse into the tatami mat she had upstairs.

And all of this because she was ousted from the one place she really tried to call home.

Being extraordinarily inebriated, she couldn't help but drunkenly go over her life, when she began her life as a wanted criminal. Going by the description of Konoha's populace that would be either the day she was born or the day Orochimaru left her behind depending on how bigoted the individual was. The people who actually knew something about her knew that it was the day she up and left with Naruto on the day Orochimaru attacked Konoha.

When she got her mind on that subject, her mind started to go over the events of that fateful day. About how she had tried to bolster the defenses of her home as best she could, killing almost half a dozen Sunagakure ninja before that massive snake bust through the wall and wreaked havoc. How the two ANBU cornered her and tried to kill her. She remembered the feeling of her heart cracking in two when they told her that they were under orders from the Sandaime, one of about five people that she actually trusted. She remembered how stunned she was and how those ANBU took advantage of her inner turmoil. Then she remembered HIM.

He swooped in like a girl's dream and saved her from those who would kill her. She remembered when he defended her from the flames of her enemy's attack, and how he subsequently cut them down. She remembered vividly how he offered her his hand and told her that he was leaving, and if she would like to come with him. And she remembered the joy and sudden hope when she took the hand he offered, and all that it led to. Meeting Temari on top of the Monument, Haruka and Yukino, Haku, and those individuals that were known as the Three Enigmas.

Never in her life had she met such a disconcerting group of people. She knew that they were the First of Naruto's followers. The ones who were with him since the beginning. And as much as she despised the thought she knew that she would never hold their standing.

She remembered hating those three, Hogback and his fat, rotund body and how he casually played with human bodies, human life. He reminded her way too much of Orochimaru for her to like him. Absalom and his perversion, she caught him peeking into the bath at her at least twice and there were probably many more times she didn't catch him. And as much as she wanted to punish him she knew that she couldn't because of several reasons. Naruto valued Absalom, his wisdom and experience. And above all else his strength. Anko had sparred with Guy and Kakashi, with Ibiki and Kurenai, with Orochimaru, Jiraiya, and Tsunade back before Orochimaru betrayed them all. And with the exception of Tsunade's superhuman punches, she had never once seen anyone who could match Absalom's raw strength. His speed was above par, and she'd seen better, but his strength was so far beyond human it beggared belief.

And last but not least Perona. The one woman who had managed to draw Naruto to her, the one person who she envied more than any other. She was the one who laid claim to him first and had held on ever since. She was the one who commanded a full third of his forces. When in combat, she was all but invincible, an unstoppable freak of nature the likes of which Anko had never seen or heard of. She hated Perona and wanted nothing more than to see Naruto get rid of her.

But she knew that that would never happen. He valued her too much. He valued all of the Enigmas too much for that to happen.

She wasn't blind, she could see the hierarchy in that Castle. She had studied Naruto enough to know, a little, how he thought. And what she realized scared her. She realized that she was expendable. That EVERYONE was expendable. The Soldiers, the Generals, the Colonels, her, Haku, Temari, the Sound Four, all of them were expendable. But those three weren't. Hogback, Absalom, and Perona, she knew that he would never let those three come to harm if he could avoid it, they were the only ones that he considered essential. If he had those three than no matter what happened to everything else he could always rebuild. It might take decades, centuries, and those three could walk that distance with him without growing old. The Enigmas were the only ones he absolutely needed, in more ways than one.

Anko saw something more that attracted the four of them, something she couldn't become, at least not willingly.

All four of them were completely out of their minds.

It was perhaps most obvious with Naruto. His rage, his sudden shifts of mood and bearing. His inconsistency and his attitude. He was a twenty four karat lunatic, and the other three were no better, just less obvious. Absalom was obsessed with women, he preferred the living but the dead would do. She knew that his chambers were decorated with women. And not a one of them was whole. Hogback was obsessed with improving the perfect, the beauty of the human form, the fickle loyalty toward each specimen. Experiments that would never work that he tried anyway, to the agony of numerous people, for a near meaningless purpose. She saw what he did when he tried to make someone truly 'beautiful' and her pity for the people he did such things to had no bounds. Living or dead, both were subjected to his madness and neither deserved it.

Perona was either the most or least noticeable, Anko couldn't tell. Self-contradicting, fleeting from one subject to the next at times, sometimes not remembering such things. Her mind was elsewhere, always. She was completely unpredictable and completely mad. Anko could burn that girl to death and she would die giggling at the fire. But she had a remarkably well sense of detecting personal danger, all four of them did. That sense for when peril is about to befall them, and the swift and nearly instinctual defensive measures they took when that sense went off protected them until they could bring what little reason they had together to deal with it. Well honed survival instinct and personal experience, combined with the knowledge of how best to use them. Such things were what let people like the Enigmas stay alive for centuries.

That insanity, and the reflexes to survive it, was something that Anko couldn't have, and one more thing that she knew gave Perona her biggest edge over her in the lists of love. It was a connection that Anko would never be able to willingly duplicate. She wouldn't call what Perona and Naruto shared 'love' because that wasn't it. Rather she wouldn't dignify it by calling it love. No, the more Anko thought about it the more she came to the conclusion that the thing that most drew them together was the fact that they had similar, complementary insanities. It was the only way that Anko could think to put it.

The Enigmas relied on Naruto for his strength, his drive, and the sense of purpose that it gave them. It drew them like moths to a flame, and they couldn't have left him if they tried. Where would they go if they did? And in exchange, they provided Naruto with what he needed. The military force granted by Hogback, the strategic command of Absalom. Perona provided something as well, though Anko didn't know what. Stability? Caring? Some kind of balance? She had no idea what worth Naruto saw in Perona, but the fact remained that the Three Enigmas were the only ones that Naruto felt were indispensible. And that filled her with a dread she hadn't felt for a long time. The possibility of being sent to die for no purpose, She was afraid that the one who saved her might do as Orochimaru had done before him, and leave her behind in the cold while he moved on. And the thought of being alone terrified her more than anything else. She couldn't help but feel that same cold creeping up on her again, like she no longer belonged. She wouldn't admit it if you tortured her, but she was afraid.

"Mind you, it could just be the booze. Yeah… yeah, that's probably… probably it." She muttered to herself and she slammed down yet another bottle on the table in front of her. She managed to stagger to her feet, her face red as a tomato as she wobbled, or fell, through the door, idly muttering to the barkeep to put it on her tab. She threw up on the floorboards outside the bar and tried to get up the stairs, barely making it to the top thanks to the banister.

She knocked on the wrong door twice, but made it to her own room on the third try. The Soldiers were all out in the field trying to find the book, so it was just her and the mat on the floor when she stumbled into the room. She managed to close the door behind her, and considered changing into bed clothes for about half a minute before she muttered "Fuck it" and just stumbled onto the mat, curling up to sleep as she pressed her face into the pillow.

Drunkenly snoring away all the alcohol she had just consumed, she was out like a light and nothing short of repeatedly kicking her could possibly have woken up.

So, naturally she didn't notice the tall, suit clad figure that was watching her as she stumbled up the stairs. She didn't see the figure in her window as it watched her fall asleep.

She didn't hear the glass breaking downstairs, the sudden slamming of doors and windows being shut by unseen force and not opening no matter how much people tried to open them. She didn't hear the roar of the flames nor smell the smoke. She just lay there, drunkenly murmuring to herself the name of a man who viewed her as a tool. A broken tool.

A broken tool whose fears had come true.

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With Sasuke

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Sasuke woke with a start in an unfamiliar bed. He forced himself to sit up, where he hurriedly examined his surroundings. First thing he noticed was that he was in a pair of underwear and nothing else. The second was that he had a needle in his arm hooked up to an IV drip. He thought about taking it out, but decided not to until he found out more about what was going on. He scanned the room carefully, taking note of thee other beds, and all four of them were laid out in a square pattern that took up much of the small room they occupied. In one was Suigetsu, wearing as little as Sasuke was judging by the exposed chest. Karin was across from him, in a bra and panties judging by the lacy straps on her shoulders. The bed next to Sasuke was empty.

There was a table beside each bed, but the only things on them were trays of medical instruments, and vials of liquid held in racks. Taking it all together, Sasuke was able to make a guess that he was in a hospital.

As he took a second look around and saw that there was no window, his next objective was to find out why. 'The best way to do that' he thought to himself 'would be to just lie down and pretend I'm still asleep. Someone will show up eventually.' With that thought, Sasuke pulled the sheets over him and relaxed on the bed, keeping one eye slightly open and fixed on the door.

He was correct in the belief that someone would, eventually, show up. But he didn't expect that it would take almost two hours for it to happen.

When the door finally opened, Sasuke was at the point of drifting off again, but he managed to rouse himself to watch the new development. He was quite surprised at who showed up.

It was Jugo.

The massive man was clad in regular clothing, and closed the door behind him as he went to Sasuke's bed. He didn't bother with pretense, immediately saying "Stop playing Sasuke, I know you're awake." Then he pulled up a chair from behind one of the other beds and sat down near him.

Sasuke didn't waste any time. "Where are we, and how long have we been here Jugo?"

Jugo sat back in his chair and shrugged. "You've been here for about four days. As for why you're here, all three of you were pretty badly ill. I called in a local Doctor when none of you woke up the first morning we were here. He took a quick look at the three of you, and diagnosed all of you with some jungle sickness that I can't pronounce. He called in a few guys and had you carted over here in about five minutes. You're clothes were taken and burned, you were given what you're wearing now, and ever since then he's been giving you guys chemical treatments, antibiotics, all sorts of things. Karin had the worst of it, though you were pretty badly off as well. Suigetsu wasn't as bad, but they kept him anyway. He told me that if he got to you about a day later than he did then Karin would be dead for sure, and you two would be on death's door. As it was, all three of you made it, though for Karin it was a real struggle. We were lucky to get here when we did."

Sasuke absorbed that information for a moment. 'I almost died'. That revelation really shook Sasuke. He'd been sick before, but not with something potentially lethal. And even in the worst cases of illness that he could remember, he always had skilled physicians on hand. In Konoha there were the doctors and Medical ninja. Later on he had Orochimaru's corps of researchers. This was the first time that he'd been alone for such a thing. He grimaced when he thought 'I guess that's part of being a Nukenin.'

Then something struck him as odd. "Wait a moment Jugo, you said that this town was in the boonies, right? In the outskirts of the country, deep in the jungle. Hardly anyone comes here. So how do these guys have advanced medical supplies and skilled doctors? By the way you were talking about this place, I would expect that If they had a hospital at all it would be a one room, roach infested hut minded by some little one eyed witchdoctor in a loincloth or something. Where did this stuff come from?"

Jugo looked a bit sheepish, which seemed very odd for him. "Well, I had four days, so I looked around and asked some questions. You're right about the hut bit, the last time I came here it was almost exactly like that. This place was an absolute hellhole. Now it's a lot different. No city, but it isn't a complete slum anymore. I was pretty confused at first too. So I had a look at things, and it turns out that they managed to discover a copper deposit a few miles from the village. Or rather some people from Tsuchi no Kuni found it. When they did, they came over here and told them. Before long, they made a deal to sell the metal to the government of Tsuchi no Kuni. The only catch was that they paid for the first shipment in advance so that they could get started. The Tsuchi guys paid up, and they spent the money on mining equipment and people who knew how to mine to tell them what to do. They followed the advice they got and started to produce a lot of ore. They shipped it to Tsuchi no Kuni and have been making money ever since. And most of that money has been going into this hospital and people's homes. All the medicines they have are from Tsuchi no Kuni, though the doctor is from the capital of Kusa no Kuni. These guys are ecstatic about it all, they have money like they never believed and it's all because those guys up North decided to build the railroad near here and took a look around for useful metals."

Sasuke listened to all of that and almost exploded "Wait a minute! Are you telling me that the medicine that saved my life was made in TSUCHI NO KUNI?!"

Jugo winced "Yes. The medicine that saved you, some of it at least, is experimental stuff developed by a pharmaceutical research facility in Tsuchi no Kuni. By order of the State. It was given to these guys for free to field test it, since apparently they have the same disease in certain regions of Tsuchi no Kuni too. Nobody here except maybe the doctor realizes it, but that stuff could have had weird side effects, and the guys up North didn't want to test it on any patients from their country. You're lucky that you got the dose that does what it's supposed to do. There were seven other groups who had the same disease and five of them aren't doing nearly as well."

Sasuke just looked at him and Jugo explained "Well, two of them got the same thing you did, and they're alright. Three groups got another experimental thing, and two other groups got a third variant. The guys with the third one died within forty eight hours due to a sudden fever, and the guys with the second treatment are alive, but are currently puking their guts out. Either way, you'll be free to go in a few days, and if you're up then the others can't be far behind. We'll wait for a bit while we get what supplies we can and then head North to Korin."

Sasuke just nodded, his mind clearly elsewhere.

Jugo took the hint and got up. As he left the room he said "I'll tell the doctor that you're awake Sasuke. I'll try and get some clothes for you three for when you're released." Then he closed the door behind him.

Sasuke wasn't really paying much attention to that, too focused on the concept that he nearly died because of an illness. And that the cure could have just as easily killed him as it saved him. But that wasn't the thing that weighed on his mind the most. The fact that the medicine which saved him was made by Naruto, of all people, irritated him to no end. Directly or indirectly, the fact that it was thanks to him that his life was saved made him more angry than anything else he could remember. But Sasuke managed to calm himself. Despite his humiliation, he knew better than to go charging in. All he did was determine that he would be more cruel than he would have been when the time came for Naruto's throat to be cut. He stayed awake like that, imagining torments for this latest humiliation.

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With Naruto

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Naruto was still sitting in his office, just as he was for the last four days, writing furiously into that same volume. He stopped for meals, and to sleep, but that was it. He spent almost fourteen hours a day in that room, writing constantly. Until finally he had finished what he began days ago, and he set down the brush. He waited for the ink to dry, and then he closed the tome with a deep THUD. The characters were written very largely, to make it easier to read, and in a dialect that everyone in the Elemental Countries spoke to some degree. Everybody would be able to read what he had written.

Naruto took the book under his arm and left his office. He was pleased with the news that Anko had been dealt with, and he had been able to finally call off that ridiculous mission to search for the Word of Kemmler. He knew that it wasn't in the material world. His enemies had to know that if it was then he would be able to find it without difficulty. But it got Anko out of the way, and that was enough gain to warrant the operation. The fact that Pein disabled the Raikage was distasteful, but it didn't bother him. He obtained more information about the leader of Akatsuki and his tactics, and it also gave him a new angle to use when negotiating with the Raikage. The man would surely be much more agreeable than he would be otherwise when promised his missing arm returned to him.

Overall, things had gone well for Naruto on all fronts, and now he was about to make the biggest strike yet against the Elemental Nations. The knowledge he had copied down in the book he carried would be more than enough to weaken the world. It couldn't do much else.

So, he woke up a Colonel Zombie. He gave the creature the book and told him to go to Tsuchi no Kuni. They were to mass produce the book as quickly as possible. Then they were to distribute it as far as they could, keeping it out of Kaminari no Kuni if they could. The Colonel did what all Zombies did, he obeyed the order and brought the book to Tsuchi no Kuni.

Naruto returned to his office and sat down, looking thoughtfully at the map of the Elemental Countries, and the affect that his actions would have. Surely the five Great Ninja Villages and their nations would not fall, but the others had a very real chance of falling into anarchy within the next few months. It was one difficult job, but he still managed it. It was quite difficult translating German into Japanese.

He had spent the last several days writing, translating, copying the knowledge bound within the Blood, Mind, and Heart of Kemmler, the three books that held the darkest secrets he had ever seen. He put it all into one easily understood volume. The mindless, thronging masses out there, those that didn't realize the talents they had. How many would become curious and try the knowledge in the book? And when the first tried it and the knowledge spread that it worked. The book would be snapped up by all who wanted power. Those minor talents out there, one in a hundred perhaps, but numerous enough would seize the chance to no longer be the powerless piece of filth that they always had been.

With all of those people realizing their talents and getting their hands on some real Necromancy, there was no way that things would remain peaceful. Those who had discovered power would use it, it was human nature. With so many avenging themselves upon those whom they bore ill will, it was only a matter of time until one of these people attempted to seize the government of the country he happened to be in, certain that he would be a more fit ruler. It was possible that groups of these individuals would band together for that task. Countries would doubtlessly fall, Ninja Villages destroyed by the Necromancers who hated them. That in addition to what he had planned next would kick off panic on a massive scale, and weaken the world for when he was ready.

But for now, all he had to do was sit back and wait for the world to be destabilized, for the old to be threatened by the hundreds of Necromancers who Naruto just gave enough knowledge and power to finally be a threat.

He almost smiled at the thought of what Konoha would do when a gang of baby Necromancers showed up and knocked down the gates. He could hardly wait.

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And so, the chapter ends. Naruto continues to streamline his group. Sasuke has a near brush with death and misfortune. Pein is injured, the Raikage crippled, and Naruto prepares the first blow to the world in a way that they will never see coming. What shall happen? What is Naruto planning next? Who will rise to power with the knowledge that Naruto just gave the world? Read the next chapter and find out!

Again, sorry that this chapter took so long to get out. I'll try to be faster with the next one. I can't make any promises, life is a bit hectic as of late, but I'll do what I can. In the meantime, review my first chapter in over two months and tell me whether or not I've lost my touch. Hopefully I haven't.

Until the next chapter

Artful Lounger