A Foxes Tale

Chapter 26

AN: Hello all, it's been a while. Firstly thanks to everyone who reviewed the previous chapter or added this story to favorite and alert lists. It hit me recently that this story is almost done. I've been writing this story for a long time and while I have taken frequent breaks from writing over the years I just want to thank you guys for sticking with me and this story over the years. I still have a bit to go obviously but I won't be covering Boruto, I don't watch the anime or read the manga and though I looked into it I don't like the direction they went. Anyway with that out of the way here is the new chapter.

Start Now:

Mount Myoboku was the home of the Toad as well as one of the three unexplored sage regions of the world and it was here that Naruto would be completing the last stages of his training, senjutsu. Senjutsu practitioners were extremely rare, so much so that Jiraiya was the sole human practitioner on the entire continent, and it was the reason why he was called The Sage of Myoboku. That isn't to say he is the only one to have ever attempted to learn the skill, far from it as Myoboku was littered with hundreds upon hundreds of the remains of those who'd come before him and failed in the task.

However though rare there had been those who'd mastered the skill before Jiraiya and truly mastered it unlike Jiraiya who still hadn't done so. One such person had been the Shodai Hokage Senju Hashirama, a feat Naruto had learned about when he was still in the Academy when he'd began his personal research on the Hokage's and what set them apart from everyone else.

The second person he discovered not long after the first, and that was his father the Yondaime Hokage Namikaze Minato. Unlike the Shodai however his father had never mastered Senjutsu as while he knew the ability it wasn't good enough so that it was applicable in battle. Then there was Jiraiya who in terms of ability was the worst of the bunch, though he at least could use it in battle.

The final person he'd learned about in regard to the ability was in all honesty the most important and that was Otsutsuki Hagoromo otherwise known as the Sage of Six Paths, the legend from which modern day ninjutsu descends from. He'd learned about him from the Kurama during his time away and according to the fox Hagoromo had been a true master of the ability, so much so that he had pushed the ability to a level that no one else had ever reached.

The ability in question was called Sage Mode, which was an empowered state that was triggered upon the successful blending of natural energy with the users own chakra the byproduct of which was the creation of senjutsu chakra. Such a thing was not easy and in fact was incredibly dangerous as while if too little natural energy is added to the mix senjutsu cannot be used, conversely gathering too much energy would result in the user turning to stone animal. This meant that just to learn the art a potential practitioner would need an enormous amount of chakra already as otherwise they'd almost immediately be overcome by the natural energy and thus turn to stone. However those who were successful in the pursuit would find that their physical abilities and sensing capabilities are dramatically enhanced for as long as the mode is active.

Naruto himself naturally had an enormous amount of chakra even while he was basically untrained in the academy, a byproduct of his Uzumaki heritage, his mother being a Kyubi, and his own time as a jinchurriki. His early training under his mother and then Tenzo-sensei had taught him the control he'd lacked with that enormous well of power. Over the last few years while he'd been on his training trip his level of power had increased massively as had his ability to control that power and the number of techniques he knew especially once the fox had taken a vested interest in his training.

That training he thought would soon prove to have been a phenomenal aid once he began learning to draw in and channel natural energy. During his time training under the ancient kitsune Naruto had begun learning to channel the biju's chakra which was several times more potent than his own. The goal had been to channel it but not be overwhelmed by the power, something he had slowly gotten accustomed to over the years to the point that he could now channel quite a bit of it without suffering any undo influence from it until he channeled four tails worth for too long. Because of this Jiraiya thought he would actually be able to learn the sage arts quite quickly at least when compared to other sages.

At the moment none of that really mattered as in order for any of it to apply Naruto had to get through the first step, learning to be still. However unlike what many may think it wasn't something as simple as sitting still, but complete stillness, even something as minor as a twitch would be considered a fail and cause him to start over. At the moment the blond could be seen meditating at the base of a large toad statue where he had been for the last hour. At the moment he was wearing only a pair of shorts and the First Hokage's Necklace, though his hair was still held in the high ponytail that he tended to keep it in these days.

"Alright Naruto that's enough, any longer and you might actually fall asleep." Came the call of Fukasaku, one of the elder toad sages.

At this Naruto allowed himself to relax his body slumping forward as he allowed his eyes to open.

Fukasaku despite being around 800 years old and amongst the most powerful and respected of the toads, above even Gamabunta, was also one of the smallest toads Naruto had met. He was green with white hair styled in somewhat of a mohawk, very thick eyebrows and a small goatee. Despite his rather underwhelming appearance he'd demonstrated his strength when he was first explaining the benefits of learning to gather natural energy by lifting one of the giant stone toad status rather easily above him with only a single hand.

"Now that you know how to remain still it's time to move on to step two, learning to sense and gather natural energy. Normally this would take quite a while but considering we're working on a shorten timescale we'll be going about things the quicker way. I'll warn you though, this is going to hurt." Said the toad elder much to the blonds nervousness.

Naruto had learned over the last few years when someone training him said something would hurt, it was a massive understatement for what he had to look forward to. Collapsing onto his back he stared up at the sky wandering absently what he'd done to bring so much pain onto himself.

The man known as Pein stared out into the distance arms crossed and face impassive. They had finished sealing away the Rokubi only a few hours earlier, meaning only the Hachibi and the Kyubi were still outside of their control. The host body of Hachibi had simply collapsed onto itself as if he'd been made of water once the biju was fully extracted. It hadn't surprised him, simply due to the fact that he'd gotten used to it, as it seemed each host that had died via biju extraction had their body destroyed by the biju on its way out.

The Nibi and Yonbi had both been burnt to ashes, the Gobi's body had collapsed on itself as if melted and the Nanabi had crumbled like an empty shell. The only reason he hadn't thought they were clones in the beginning was because of the extraction of the biju which was something that just couldn't be faked. Kisame had likened it to a final 'fuck you' on behalf of the biju and in the end the only one that was upset about the destroyed bodies was Zetsu and that was only because the creature had most likely wanted to eat them.

Regardless of their success in acquiring the biju the group was down to five member, four in a half considering that Itachi pretty much already had one foot in the grave. His instinct was to start recruiting but in truth he saw little point to it, shinobi on their level were extremely rare and with seven of the biju accounted for greater numbers may not even be necessary going forward.

"I thought I'd find you here." Came a voice breaking him from his thoughts

Though he didn't turn to face the speaker he knew who they were all the same, even before the came to stand beside him.

"What is it?" questioned Pein.

"Our numbers situation needs to be resolved." Said the masked figure known as Tobi.

"I've thought on that. It is not an easy prospect."

"No, however the strength of Akatsuki lies in its numbers. Unless I were to reveal myself you and I are unknowns to the vast majority of the shinobi world."

"I take it you have a prospect." Said Pein cutting to the chase.

"Indeed, Itachi's younger brother…" started Tobi only for Pein to scoff.

"He is a nothing that has done nothing." Said Pein.

"He is Orochimaru's last apprentice and considering his peculiarities a very well trained one as well with a level 2 cursed seal." Said Tobi.

"Is that supposed to impress me?" questioned Pein.

"No, however it gives me a way to increase his strength, should he survive the challenge."

"Do what you will, we can discuss more should he survive." Said Pein.

"Very well." Said Tobi before he vanished into a spiraling vortex.

In the months since the death of Orochimaru, Uchiha Sasuke had been busy. He would admit if only to himself that when he had first been given his mission, his final one by the Sandaime Hokage he had been surprised. His mission had been to infiltrate Otogakure as Orochimaru's apprentice and get as much training in as he could. Jiraiya, who was his sole contact had stated Orochimaru's vices were well known to the Sandaime, and the old man wouldn't hesitate to use them against him given the opportunity. Of course the Sandaime had wanted him to be a chunin before he did this but with the Sandaime dead Jiraiya had assigned him the mission before he left on his own training trip with Naruto. It hadn't escaped his attention that all three of the members of his team would be training under one of the Sanin.

He had questioned Jiraiya on if he should be seeking to learn more but had been denied. He would focus only on growing stronger, anything else would be outside of his known character thus far and as such raise the suspicion of Orochimaru. When the Sound Four had come for him, he'd played his role perfectly as he'd simply acted as he would before he had learned the truth about Itachi's actions that night and from there the rest was history.

He had learned much over the last three years and had been just about ready to move on when the attack on the base had happened. Getting the scroll from the Godaime he had been surprised to find updated mission parameters, he was to go to the remaining bases and retrieve all the data he could. First he would go to the Southern Hideout and meet his partner who he had been surprised to learn was Karin who was the warden of the Southern Hideout.

Apparently she was an Uzumaki and had been sent in as something of an emergency aid in case he needed an escape. It turns out she was also an extremely capable tracker ninja, together they would retrieve both Hozuki Suigetsu and Jugo from their respective prisons. Suigetsu was the last of the Hozuki bloodline and could turn his entire body into water while Jugo was apparently the origin of the cursed seal and Tsunade wanted to study him. They had made good on their time, and he'd been all set to head to Konoha after retrieving Jugo when he received a message to meet up with Itachi.

Now he stood with his makeshift team in front of the Uchiha Hideout, a place he'd only been to once when he was much younger. They had already run into Itachi's partner Kisame who stated Itachi wanted him alone and wouldn't let the rest of his group pass him. It was only the knowledge that a large group of shinobi were close that allowed him to leave, as he'd already sent a message to Tsunade informing her of the detour. Taking a breath he pushed open the doors in front of him only to be greeted to the sight of Itachi lounging on a throne like chair near the back of the room. It was only when he crossed the center point of the room that the genjutsu hit him and he stopped moving.

"What is this Itachi?" questioned Sasuke.

"I'm afraid we are being observed so a more receptive reunion will have to wait." Said Itachi calmly getting Sasuke to narrow his eyes.

"So what am I doing here?" questioned the teen.

"I am sick Sasuke, terminally so. Lady Tsunade has developed a cure for me however it requires I disappear for some time." Said Itachi.

"Your working with the Hokage?" questioned Sasuke in surprise.

"I worked with the Sandaime as well. It was at his direction that I joined the Akatsuki in the first place. Much like it was his direction that saw you training under Orochimaru." Said Itachi calmly further surprising his brother.

"While we battle your job will be to immobilize me and remove my eyes, our observer will definitely understand why. Also know that I will not make it easy for you and in fact will be doing much the same to you. Our observer will most definitely try and take my eyes so you must do so. Should you succeed you will find them a great help in your future."

Naruto had been in the middle of his lunch when Jiraiya arrived. Jiraiya had stayed with him for the first few days of his training before departing again and he would be honest he was glad to see the old man again. He knew that his grandfather really wanted to go to Ame and confront his old students but Tsunade had successfully argued that if he stayed put they would eventually come to him so there was no point in rushing it.

"How ya doin' brat?" questioned Jiraiya taking a seat beside him.

"Pretty good, I've moved to stage two of my training. How are things outside?" returned and questioned Naruto

"Moving. Akatsuki managed to extract the Rokubi yesterday. That makes seven." Said Jiraiya causing Naruto to grimace.

"That's not good." Said Naruto.

"Understatement." Came the voice of the fox

"We may need to increase our timetable." Said Benihime

"Have you heard from my mom?" questioned Naruto.

"Yeah, as you can imagine she's far from happy. The fact is only Konoha and Suna took the threat of Akatsuki seriously and what they said at the last summit was just lip service. Luckily the biju themselves don't rely on the Kage for anything so as of now there are 5 new biju with their respective clans." Said Jiraiya.

"What else?" questioned Naruto seeing the look on his grandfather's face.

"Itachi and Sasuke fought this morning." Said Jiraiya making Naruto nearly drop his cup ramen.

"Who won?" questioned the blond.

"Itachi, but his body gave out on him afterwards. We arrived in time to find Sasuke removing Itachi's eyes. Unfortunately the masked bastard showed up as well and whisked him away with his new team with that time-space jutsu of his." Said Jiraiya.

"So looks like Sasuke knew about the curse the fox put on the Mangekyo." Said Naruto frowning.

"Damn Uchiha are like roaches, you think you've dealt with one and they pop back up as if nothing happened." Said the fox clearly irritated.

"So what brought you back so early?" questioned Naruto after nearly a full minute of silence.

"About that, remember Shizuka?" questioned Jiraiya getting Naruto to pause before he looked up at Jiraiya the pupils of his eyes having changed into slits as the iris had a bit of gold bleed into them.

It was kind of hard for him to forget the girl as she was the reason he had been rushed back to Konoha early. Fair-skinned she stood about even with Hinata which would put her at about 5'3" with an athletic yet curvaceous build with big tits and an ass that popped out. She has green eyes and waist-length black hair in a hime-style cut tied in a high ponytail with short bangs and chin-length strands framing her face and was all in all quite the looker and hard to forget. She also happened to be a kunoichi from Nadeshiko Village, an all-female village and the student of its former leader.

When they first met she revealed that Jiraiya in his youth had fought and defeated a kunoichi from Nadeshiko who would go on to become the leader of the village. The village law was that should a kunoichi lose a fight to a male they would marry that shinobi, but the shinobi would have to live in their village. Jiraiya had talked his way out of it but also rather carelessly promised that his student would fight her student for her hand in marriage. Needless to say Shizuka had sought him out for that reason, thankfully the first had been interrupted so neither could claim victory and Shizuka left to return home and hopefully change her village and its outdated laws.

"What did you do?" questioned Naruto slowly only for Jiraiya to hastily put his hands up.

"Nothing I swear! She and Tokiwa showed up today and Tsunade sent me here to get me out of the way." Said Jiraiya

"Hinata will kill her and if she doesn't Ino will most certainly do her best." Said Naruto staring his grandfather in the eye.

"I wouldn't worry about that. Both of them are away on missions thankfully." Said Jiraiya.

"Fine, how long are you staying?" questioned Naruto getting the man to release a sigh of relief.

"Until Tsunade calls me back or you finish your training, whichever comes first." Said Jiraiya

"Are you now?" questioned a new voice causing Jiraiya to freeze only to slowly turn to see Fukasaku standing behind him.

"Well if you're going to be here, we can work on your own version of Sage Mode. No point in going around with that half-assed version if you can help it." Said the elder toad.

"Sure, pa" said Jiraiya nervously while Naruto was grinning behind his upturned cup ramen.

That night while he had all the appearance of being asleep if one could peer into Naruto's mind they would find that he was very much awake. Within the forest that made up his soulscape Naruto could be found seated between alongside pair of figures in a triangle formation. To his right was sat Benihime while to his left was the old fox Kurama in a miniature fox form that was nearly ten feet long from tail to the tip of his nose. If he stood one could see the fox was about five feet in height as well, taller then Benihime.

"What's going on?" questioned the blond after a few moments of silence.

After the talk he'd had with Jiraiya earlier in the day both the fox and Benihime had been silent, at least until he'd been eating dinner when the fox had stated he needed to come inside so they could talk. In truth he hardly ever came inside at this point as he'd gotten to the point where he could materialize both outside of his body, granted when the fox did so it was in his more humanoid appearance and absent the vast majority of his power.

"We need to increase your power." Said the fox surprising him.

"To this point you've learned how to fight tactically and with the savagery of a demon. Now you need to learn how to fight with power."

"Wasn't that the point of the meditating with your chakra, so I could get used to it?" questioned Naruto

"Initially yes, but this is different" said Benihime

"We laid a foundation so you can use my chakra and not be overwhelmed by it. We have no more time to take things slow, you need to learn to fight like a biju." Said the fox.

"Do we even have time for that right now?" questioned Naruto.

"No. To master that kind of power will take years, but you do have time to at least access it." Said Benihime surprising Naruto.

"As the Kyubi, I am both the eldest and the strongest of the nine biju. Even with only half of my power available to me I am still the superior of the vast majority of the others combined." Said the fox

"You've said that before. I don't think I'll ever be that powerful though, I'm still only half demon" Said Naruto.

"True enough, but the point must be made. With that however let me ask you this if my current make-up consists solely of Yang Chakra, where do you think my Yin Chakra is." Questioned the fox bringing Naruto up short, as it was something he had never thought about.

"I thought the Shinigami took that." Said Naruto frowning.

"It did, however it didn't keep it. My yin chakra is currently locked away, it is the basis of your Benihime's next evolution." Said the fox shocking both Naruto and Benihime.

"Wait that means you'd have needed to give that up before I was even born." Said Naruto in shock.

"Indeed. I had no need for it being in the land of the dead. However in order for you to access that power and thus Benihime's full release you will need the Yang chakra to match." Said the fox grinning savagely.

"I'm not liking the sound of this." Said Naruto warily.

"You have enough sense to feel fear, good you've learned something. In order to gain access to the yang chakra you'll need to fight me in full and take it from me. To survive the times ahead you'll need the power of a Kyubi and for that you'll have to earn it the hard way." Said Kurama.

As he sat there Naruto wondered just who it was he had pissed off or which kami found amusement in his suffering.

AN: That's it, chapters done. I know it's shorter than what I usually have for this story but I felt like this was a good place to stop. Naruto's bankai is not going to be the same as Kisuke's was in Bleach and I've pretty much spelled out what it will be. Anyway thanks for reading and please review. Till next time, LATER.