Naruto: The Hope of the Senju Clan

Chapter Forty: Prophecy

Well its New Year Eve, and I can't think of a better present to give all my fans before the start of a brand new year than to post a new Chapter for The Hope of the Senju Clan. I Hope you all enjoy it and I wish everyone a very Happy New Year.

This story was inspired by the Story Senju Naruto by Baal of Yarns

"Thinking/Writing"

"Jutsu"

"Animal talk/Thinking Jutsu"

-Konoha-

In an unknown location in Konoha, a lone figure slowly travelled through an underground passageway beneath the village, with only a small torch lighting his way.

After several minutes the figure arrived at the end of the passageway and entered a large room with numerous bookshelves, filled with hundreds of scrolls and books.

"This could take a while" the figure said to himself, when he saw just how many scrolls and books there were in here. Ignoring the scrolls for the time being, the figure began pulling out various books off their shelves and then putting them back when they weren't the one he was look for.

After about an hour of searching the figure finally found the book he was looking for, which read "How to care for your Bonsai Tree."

Quickly opening the book, the figure began scanning each page carefully in the hope of finding what he was looking for. But when he reached the final page of the book, to his frustration, the page turned out blank.

Thinking he must have gotten the wrong book, the figure was about to place the book back, but stopped when he noticed several Kanji appear on blank page. But as soon as they appeared they quickly disappeared again.

Holding the page up the Kanji slowly reappeared again. Realizing that this was what he had been searching for, the figure quickly closed the book and raced for the exit, wanting to show this to his mother as quickly as possible.

-Hokage Mansion, Konoha-

Sitting at her desk, a rather annoyed looking Tsunade had just finished rereading the after mission reports from Naruto recent mission at the border. Needless to say the female Hokage was far from pleased when she learned that what was supposed to be a simple C rank mission turned into a battle between her son's team and a full company of Iwa Shinobi.

"I swear that boy is a trouble magnet, everywhere he goes he gets into some kind of trouble." Tsunade grumbled to herself. But what really worried her was how the Iwa Shinobi had been targeting her son and knew where he would be. After finishing the report, Tsunade agreed with Kushina and the others theory that Iwa had a spy in Konoha; it was the only thing that made sense of the whole situation.

Shortly after finishing reading the report, the Tsunade heard a loud knock on the door, responding with an "Enter" the door opened and revealed Shimura Danzo. Slowly entering the office, the old Shinobi closed the door behind him.

"You asked for me Lady Hokage?" Danzo asked dully, taking one of the two seats in front of Tsunade's desk.

"Yes" Tsunade answered. "I take it that you've already heard of the recent incident we had at the Ame border?"

"Indeed I have, it was fortunate that your son and his team were able to hold out against such a large raiding force until reinforcements arrived. But I suspect that is not exactly the full story, given how you summoned me here."

"Yes" answered Tsunade. "I've classified the exact details of the mission due to some trouble issues that have come to light."

"Such as?" inquired the old Shinobi, raising left eyebrow.

"According to the reports, the Iwa plan was to kidnap Naruto and kill everyone else and make it look like Ame was responsible..."

"Where we would then respond by breaking our pack with Ame and retaliate, which would then lead to all out war." finished Danzo, to which Tsunade just nodded. "You are certain of this?"

"We are?" Tsunade replied, "The Iwa Shinobi specifically targeted Naruto, and after searching some of the bodies, Kushina and her team found several Ame headbands on them. Also according to the reports Sandaime Tsuchikage's son and Granddaughter were among the group."

Upon hearing this Danzo left eyebrow rose again. "A bold plan by Iwa, clearly they see your son as a dangerous threat if they went to such extremes just to capture him. But it still begs one question, how did they know that your son would be there?"

"That's why I've asked for you"

"You suspect a spy?"

"Yes" said Tsunade, she didn't like the idea of asking Danzo for help. But the fact was he was the best person to find this spy. Due to his many years as the leader of ROOT, Danzo had certain skills and contacts that would be useful in finding the spy and despite her distrust of him, she knew he was loyal to Konoha and would not tolerate a spy. "It's the only explanation as to how they knew that Naruto would be there."

"Do you have any suspects?"

"I've had ANBU investigate the matter quietly and they believe the spy to be in the mission department."

"That would be the most logically conclusions" replied Danzo, nodding his head slowly. "As part of the mission department, the spy would have access to key information, such the names of Shinobi who are assigned to specific missions, and where they would be assigned to."

"Correct, so you can understand why we need to do this quietly and find this person as quickly as possible. So long as this spy remains unidentified, all our Shinobi are in danger. But if we're not careful the spy could flee before we have a chance capture and interrogate them."

Agreeing with this Danzo nodded again, "If I may make a suggestion, I think it might be wise to have your son leave the village for a time."

Narrowing her eyes Tsunade stared directly into the old man one eyes. "And how exactly would that be wise?"

"As you just mentioned, so long as this spy remains unidentified, all our Shinobi are in danger, especially your son. Iwa is clearly desperate to capture him, the fact that the Tsuchikage sent his own son and Granddaughter to capture him proves that, and after what happened at the border they may become even more desperate."

"You're suggesting that they may try to capture Naruto here?" Tsunade asked in surprise.

"It is a possibility" answered Danzo. "Until we've identified and captured the spy we have no idea how far Iwa's infiltration has reached. For all we know Iwa could've several spies in the village waiting to be activate, and if they cannot capture him, they may simply kill him."

"I will take your advice under consideration" Tsunade replied calmly, while maintaining controlled facade. But inwardly she was worried, as much as she hated to admit it; she knew Danzo had a point. Everyone in Konoha knew where she and Naruto lived and knew Naruto by sight, even if she assigned ANBU to watch Naruto day and night, so long as the spy was in Konoha, her son was in danger.

Nodding again, Danzo then asked, "I assume you will want to be kept informed of my progress."

"Yes, I want a daily report until we have identified the leak, my ANBU will assist you in the investigation, but you're not to make any move or arrest without my permission, am I understood?"

Showing no emotion, the old War Hawk nodded and replied "Yes Lady Hokage," before moving towards the office door.

But before his hand could even touch the door handle, the double doors burst open with someone racing in shouting "Mom, Mom, I found it! I found the map to the valley o-ugh!" right before they bumped into him.

Looking down, Danzo saw Naruto picking himself off the ground. At the same time a concerned Shizune entered the office, "I'm sorry Hokage-sama, I tried telling Naruto that you were in a meeting, but he rushed passed me before I could stop him."

"Its fine Shizune, Danzo was just leaving."

"You should be more careful of where you are going Naruto-san" said Danzo, helping Naruto up.

"Eh, yea, sorry about that" replied Naruto, feeling more than a little uncomfortable with how Danzo was still holding his hand and staring at him.

Accepting Naruto's apology, Danzo nodded and let go of the by's hand before leaving the office, where Shizune closed the door behind him.

"So Naruto what was so urgent that you needed barge into my office shouting?" Tsunade asked.

"I found the book that Hashirama-jiji told me about; you know the one that leads to the Valley of the Four Winds."

Remembering the conversation she had with her son after his near death experience, Tsunade nodded and signalled him to show her the book. But when she looked at the page she saw nothing, it was only when Naruto told her to touched the page that writing began to appear, giving directions and clues on how to supposedly find the Valley.

Surprised by how the writing suddenly appeared, Tsunade began to rub the paper between her fingers and frowned.

"Shizune, can you take a look at this page and tell me if you can see the writing?"

Taking the book from her teacher, Shizune tried to read the page, but before she could the writing disappeared. "I can't the writing is gone!"

"Are you touching the page with your fingers?" asked Tsunade, when Shizune indicated that she was, the female Sennin smirked as it confirmed what she suspected. "I figured as much, that page isn't made out of ordinary paper, it reacts to a person's Chakra whenever they touch it."

"You mean it's like affinity paper?" said Naruto. "But instead of revealing a person's Nature affinity it reveals the directions to the Valley."

"Correct."

"But if that's true, why doesn't the directions appear when I was touching the paper?" asked Shizune.

"My guess is that the Chakra only reacts to the Shodai's Chakra, and since both Naruto and I are related to the Shodai, the paper will react to our Chakra" Tsunade answered. "My Grandfather must've wanted to make sure that only someone related to him could find the Valley."

"Then that proves what Hashirama-jiji told me" said Naruto. "The fact that he went to so much trouble proves it."

Tsunade was of course forced to agree. When Naruto first told her about the Valley, she was naturally a little sceptical, having never heard of the place, and had asked Jiraiya to ask the Toads Sages if they knew anything about the Valley. But despite Jiraiya's best efforts he learned very little as the Toad Sages were rather reluctant to share any information on the place for some reason. When asked, the Toads Sages simply said that they had an agreement with the residents of the Valley to reveal nothing about them. The only things they would say about the residents of the Valley were that they were peaceful, but secretive and were very powerful.

Taking the book from Shizune, Tsunade reread the directions and clues again, from want she could tell, it would take a few weeks to get to there, if not longer. When Naruto asked if he could be allowed to go, she hesitated, the recent incident at Ame no Kuni (Rain Country) border had made her fearful of letting her son leave the village. Even if the residents of the Valley of the Four Winds could help her son fully master his Mokuton powers. The risk of him of being captured was still too great in her mind. But at the same time Danzo's words about the Iwa spy rang in her ears, if Iwa really did have more than one spy in the village, and if Tsuchikage was desperate enough, they could order the spy to kill him. Until they found this spy Naruto was endanger, whether he left the village or not.

"I will consider it, but I need some time to think on it, so until I have decided you'll remain at the estate, am I clear?"

Knowing that this was the best answer he was going to get out of his mother, Naruto sighed and nodded. Ever since he returned to the village his mother had been even more protective of him and had him restricted to their estate. Even when he was allowed to leave, he was certain that his mother had ANBU watching him, or was monitoring him through the Hokage's crystal ball. He understood that she was worried and was only trying to protect him, but he felt like a prisoner in the village.

-Iwa, The Tsuchikage's Mansion-

Sitting at his desk, the Sandaime Tsuchikage massaged his head in the hope of stemming his growing migraine, which had been forming ever since he began reading his son's report.

What should have been a simple enough mission, turned into nothing short of an absolute disaster, of the eighty Shinobi that he sent to support his son and his team, fifty-six were killed. On the return journey, they lost another four, along Aotsuchi, (who had been wounded after battling both Senju Naruto and another Shinobi), when they were ambushed by an Ame patrol. Of the remaining twenty, eight were wounded, three of which were serious and needed to stay in the hospital for a week or more.

What was even more aggravating was that they had the Konoha group outnumbered fourteen to one, and yet they still managed to overcome them and inflict heavy losses.

After finally finishing reading the report, the Sandaime glance up at his son, who was standing in front of his desk. "Is there anything else that you haven't mentioned in this report?"

"Only this" his son replied, taking out the note that Naruto had left on Kurotsuchi from when he defeated her and laid it on father's desk so that he could read it.

As soon as the Tsuchikage had finished reading the note, the old Kage crushed the note in his hand and growled, "Arrogant little brat!" and glanced up at Kitsuchi.

"How is she?"

"Fine, minor injuries, her pride is hurting more than anything else."

Nodding, the Tsuchikage let out a long sigh, "I'm calling off your mission, at least for the time being. After this incident Tsunade will more than likely keep the boy inside the village for some time. I'm also ordering our spies to stand down and to not to attract attention to themselves."

"You think the Hokage suspects that we've spies in the village?"

"I would if I was her, and we can't afford to lose the spies we have in Konoha, it's taken us years just to get them where they are now."

Seeing the logic behind his father's reasoning, Kitsuchi nodded in agreement. "I think it would be also prudent that we strengthen our forces along the Southern and Eastern borders. It's possible that Konoha may retaliate after our attack."

"Agreed" nodded the Sandaime, although he doubted that Konoha would retaliate, given how the mission failed and resulted in heavy losses for Iwa. Still there was always the possibility that he could be wrong, especially if Danzo got involved. Unlike the Sandaime Hokage, Danzo was not a forgiving person, a trait that both he and Ōnoki shared.

Over the years the Sandaime Tsuchikage had several different run-ins with the notorious War Hawk of Konoha, more commonly referred to as the Shinobi no Yami (The Darkness of the Shinobi). He knew that there was a strong possibility that Danzo would act on his own accord and strike back. The Tsuchikage always found it humorous that an extremist like Danzo, who was obsessed war and destroying his enemies was born in a village like Konoha, known for its idealism and peaceful beliefs.

For the next hour the Tsuchikage and his son discussed how they would increase their border defensives. Once they had finished, Kitsuchi left his father's office to inform his daughter of the Tsuchikage's decision on their mission to capture Naruto, leaving Ōnoki alone in his office to begin writing up orders.

XXXXX

A week after finding the directions for the Valley for the Four Winds, Naruto waited outside his mother's office, having been summoned by her.

When he arrived he met Shizune at her desk, who told her his mother was in a meeting at the moment and would see him shortly.

After waiting for about ten minutes, Naruto heard his mother voice over the intercom asking if he had arrived. When Shizune responded that he was, his mother asked her to let him in.

No sooner had the double doors opened and Naruto entered the office, he was knocked down to the floor by a bright yellow blur that shouted "NARUTO-KUN!"

By the time Naruto regained his senses, he found Ino on top of him hugging him tightly. "I've missed you, it's been ages."

"Eh hey Ino, it's been a while, good to see you too" gasped Naruto as he struggled to breath from Ino's hold. How the girl could be so strong at times made Naruto wonder if she was somehow taking secret lessons from her mother.

Looking up Naruto saw the rest of team eight standing in front of his mother's desk, laughing at the two blondes, with the exception of Shikamaru, who simply looked board and stared out the window.

Surprisingly, Tsunade remained remarkably calm and showed no anger. But Naruto knew that this was just a facade when he saw her left eyebrow twitch ever few seconds, which was a clear sign that she wasn't happy with what Ino was doing.

"Ahem, now that Naruto is here perhaps we can get to matter at hand, if you don't mind?" Tsunade asked all too sweetly.

Recognising the tone in her voice, Naruto knew his mother was struggling to reign in her temper, so he quickly pushed Ino off him and got back onto his feet.

Somewhat disappointed with how Naruto pushed her off him, Ino tried to keep hold of his arm. But after catching a glimpse of Tsunade out of the corner of her eye, and somehow sensing her displeasure, the blonde girl wisely decided to let his arm go and settle with just standing next to him.

"So is there something I can help you with Hokage-sama?" Naruto asked, using his mother's official title, since when if front of other Shinobi he was to refer to her as it.

"Yes" replied Tsunade, adopting an official tone. "I asked you here because I have decided to allow you to go on your search for the Valley of the Four Winds."

"Really?" said Naruto, not expecting his mother to agree so soon.

When his mother nodded, the young blonde had to fight hard to keep from shouting "Yes!"

"Will Kushina-sensei and Yamato-sensei be coming too?"

"No" answered Tsunade, shaking her head. "To keep your search secret, and maintain the ruse that you are still in the village, they will remain here. If they were to leave with you, people may become suspicious. I've already explained the situation to Asuma and his team, which is why I'm assigning you to team eight. There will be no record of you accompanying them, as far as anyone is concerned you are still confined to the estate and team eight left on a previously assigned mission. The only ones that'll know the truth will be Shizune, the guards at the main gate and the people in this room, you're forbidden from telling anyone else, am I clear?" at which point she gave Ino a rather intense looking stare, knowing the Yamanaka girl's reputation for gossiping.

After everyone had indicated that they understood, Tsunade nodded. "Good, you'll leave first thing at dawn so to lessen the chance of anyone seeing you leave and head for Shimizu Temple, which is where the direction say to go first, from there Naruto will lead the way." (1)

Once everyone understood what they were to do, Tsunade dismissed the group, allowing them to leave and prepare for tomorrow. But as Naruto and the others left the office, no-one noticed a small black mouse that had been hiding in corner of the room leave with them.

XXXXX

Later that day, deep beneath Konoha, Danzo met with one of his agents Sai, who was debriefing him on what happened in Tsunade's office.

"So Naruto-san is leaving the village tomorrow to locate the Valley of the Four Winds, interesting" commented Danzo with a thoughtful expresssion on his face.

"If I may Danzo-sama, why is this Valley so important?" Sai asked as he knelt before his lord. "Does it hold some great secret for the Senju Clan?"

"Unfortunately, even I have never heard of the Valley of the Four Winds, but if Tsunade is willing to go such extremes to keep her son search for it secret, it must be of great importance" the old Shinobi replied.

"Still, I'm surprised that Godaime is sending Naruto-san, especially given the recent boarder skirmish."

"There must be some reason that makes it impossible for anyone other than Naruto-san to search for the Valley. It's the only explanation as to why she would send him instead of sending more experience Shinobi to find it."

"Do you think it might be due to his Mokuton Bloodline limit?"

"That would be the logical explanation. But regardless this works well for what I have planned to find Iwa's spy."

"How so?"

"Like the Sandaime Hokage, Tsunade has a fatal weakness; she allows her personal feelings to get the better of her, especially when it comes to her son. With Iwa's recent attempt on him, Tsunade concerns for his safety have already reached the point of paranoia. Before During our meeting, I hinted to Tsunade of the possibility that Iwa may have more than one spy and that they may try to kidnap or kill the boy."

"You think Iwa would?"

"Although it is not impossible, I find it highly unlikely they would; doing so could compromise their spy, who is more valuable to them so long as he or she goes unnoticed. Tsunade doesn't know this, as her desire to protect her son blinds her to this fact. I had originally planned to send some agents to make a fake attempt on his life, but this works better for us."

"But how will having Naruto-san leave the village help us find the spy?" asked Sai.

"Catching a spy is like hunting, all you need is the right bait to lure your prey out, Senju Naruto is that bait. That's why I want you to intercept the assignment forms before they reach the mission department and add in Naruto-san's name to Asuma-san team and list their destination as Shimizu Temple. We're already monitoring all the personal there, and when the spy sends word to Iwa of his location, we'll know who he or she is."

"But what of Naruto-san?" asked Sai, who looked from ground to his master. "By leaking his whereabouts there is a chance that Iwa may capture or kill him this time."

"Some risks are necessary when it comes to finding a spy. The boy has already proven himself to be quite resourceful when faced with difficult situations. Besides Sarutobi Asuma is a highly capable Shinobi, not at the same level as his father, but still a Shinobi that should not be underestimated; Naruto-sn should be fine."

"And if Iwa does capture him?"

"Then we'll act accordingly, so that the boy cannot be used against us, for the good of Konoha" Danzo replied coolly.

"For the Good of Konoha" repeated Sai, before leaving the underground hall to complete his new mission.

After Sai left, Danzo turned and headed to his office to begin preparations for the next phase of his plan.

XXXX

After travelling all day, and with the sun now setting, Naruto and the members of team eight decided to make camp and rest for the night. It had been two weeks since they left Konoha, and according to the directions and clues in the book they were getting close.

The journey hadn't been easy for the group, especially when it came to locating certain places given how the directions and clues did not take into account how much things had changed in the past ninety years. Fortunately though with the help Asuma and Shikamaru they were able to decipher the more difficult directions and clues in the book and figure out where to go.

As soon as camp had been set up Naruto started cooking dinner with Choji assisting, while Ino and Shikamaru gathered water and wood, and Asuma went to set up traps and go on lookout duty.

Once dinner was ready everyone gathered around the campfire to eat.

"MMMuuu, this is really good" Ino complimented, as she took small bits of her stew, since she was on another one of her diets and didn't want to gain weight.

"Yea, this is really good" agreed Choji, who had just finished his first bowel and was on his second.

"Arf!" replied Kurimaru before he went back to eating his share of the stew. Originally Naruto had planned leave the small half wolf back home in Konoha with his mother and Shizune. But the small pup refused to be left behind this time and followed after the group.

When Naruto introduced the pup to the group, Ino almost immediately fell in love with the adorable pup, cooing at how cute he was. Kurimaru on the other hand became wary of the Yamanaka heiress after she tried to tie a pink ribbon around neck, which Naruto thankfully prevented.

"Thanks, Shizune-nee taught me, although Kosuke-san gave me some pointers too" replied Naruto.

"Kosuke-san does know his stuff when it comes to cooking" nodded Asuma, having worked with the old Genin on several occasions.

As Naruto and the others continued to talk amongst themselves, Shikamaru who had been keeping quiet most of the day, decided to ask Naruto something that had been on his mind for most of the Journey. "So Naruto, what exactly is so important about this valley that the Shodai Hokage decided to hide directions to it in a book about caring for a bonsai tree?"

At this question the other members of team eight all turned to look at Naruto.

The blonde boy of course wasn't surprised by the question; in fact what surprised him was that it took Shikamaru this long to ask. Figuring that they would find out sooner or later once they arrived at the Valley of the Four Winds, Naruto decided to share with the reason for why they were looking for the Valley.

"The reason why we're looking for the Valley of the Four Winds is because it may hold secrets that may help me master my Mokuton Bloodline limit" answered Naruto, at which point everyone began to listen very carefully at what he had to say.

"How exactly can it help you master you Bloodline limit?" asked Shikamaru.

"According to what the Shodai told me..." began Naruto, but before he could say anything more, Ino interrupt him.

"Wait! The Shodai Hokage told you, How?!"

"He probably told him when during the invasion when Orochimaru revived him and the Nidaime Hokage" Asuma explained before Naruto could answer. "Am I right?"

Not really wanting to explain his near death experience to everyone and have them all think he might be crazy, Naruto just nodded and continued with explanation. "According to what the Shodai said, back before Konoha was founded, when he was around my age, during the Great Clan Wars. He left our Clan to do some secret training to master his Bloodline limit, where by pure chance he found the Valley. The people there then helped him master his Mokuton powers to their fullest extent."

"So you're hoping the people there can help you the same way they helped the Shodai Hokage in mastering your Bloodline limit" discerned Shikamaru, where Naruto just nodded.

"I can see why the Godaime felt the need to keep the goal of the mission secret, there are a lot of people who would be interested in that Valley and stop at nothing to find it, especially if they knew it held secrets to unlocking Mokuton" Asuma remarked. He knew that if the wrong people learned of the Valley it would be disastrous for everyone.

Shortly after finishing their discussion on the Valley, Ino excused herself from the group and moved behind trees, saying that she needed to "powder" her nose.

After she left Choji, who had just finished his eight bowl of stew, decided to ask Naruto something. "Hey Naruto, what exactly do you put in this stew to make it taste so good."

"Nothing special" shrugged Naruto. "I just added some ingredients that I would use in some of the remedies, which help give more energy and make the food taste better."

"What short of ingredients?" Choji asked, hoping that Naruto would share his secret so that he could suggest it to his mother when cooking.

Placing his bowl down, Naruto took a small pouch from his utility belt and poured the contents out, revealing several mushrooms, weeds, dead insects and a small dead lizard. "I use these."

Upon seeing the contents of Naruto's pouch, Asuma suddenly felt very ill. "Y-You put that stuff in the stew?"

"Yea" shrugged Naruto, not really seeing the problem, "When I'm making remedies I often dry things like these-" holding up the dead lizard, "out and crush them into ponder."

Fighting the urge not to throw up, and silently swearing never to get sick again, the son of the Sandaime passed his half unfinished bowel of stew to Choji. The young Akimichi of course took the bowl without compliant since food was food as far as he was concerned, and if it tasted good, then it didn't bother him. Shikamaru was also not bothered by the revelation since he was familiar with such things, his Clan helped make most of the medicines and remedies in Konoha.

After coming to terms with what he had just eaten, Asuma glanced over to the trees where Ino went behind and then turned Naruto and quietly said, "A word of advice Naruto, "never"tell Ino about any of this. If she found out that you got her eat dead insects and lizards, she'd kill you, crush or no crush."

"He's right, if Ino finds out about any of this, you're a dead man" added Shikamaru, while Choji, who was still easting, just nodded in agreement.

Taking their advice, Naruto quickly gathered his ingredients and put them back in his pouch before Ino came back so that she would never know what she'd eaten.

XXXXX

Elsewhere a mile away from the Konoha camp, two squads of Iwa Shinobi watched the camp fire from the distance.

Leading the two squads was the Tsuchikage's son Kitsuchi accompanied by his daughter Kurotsuchi and the rest of their team.

"So do we attack?" asked Kurotsuchi.

"No! The Tsuchikage's orders were clear!" replied Kitsuchi. After the disaster at the Konoha border the Sandaime Tsuchikage suspended all operations involving Naruto for the time being. But before he could send word to their spies in Konoha to go quiet, he received word that Naruto would be leaving the village again on a secret mission.

Hoping to make up for their failure at the border, both Kitsuchi and Kurotsuchi volunteered for the mission. Fearing it to be a trap, the Tsuchikage was reluctant to send them out on the mission. It was only after a lengthy argument that the Sandaime finally agreed, but left them strict orders to observe and to only engage if absolutely certain that it wasn't a trap

"Why not?" demanded the girl. "There're only five of them, and eight of us."

"Last time there were six of them and eighty of us and you know how well that turned out!" retorted her father.

"But this time is different!" argued Kurotsuchi. "Last time most of them were Jonin, this time there only one Jonin."

"That one Jonin happens to be Sarutobi Asuma, the son of the Sandaime Hokage, one of Konoha's top Jonin and a former member of the Fire Daimyo's Shugonin Jūnishi (Twelve Gentlemen Guardian Ninja). He's not someone that should ever be underestimated" Kitsuchi countered.

Kurotsuchi of course tried to argue further, but her father stopped her in her tracks, "Enough Kurotsuchi! You're letting your personal issues with Senju cloud your judgment; this could easily be a trap."

"You weren't the one he humiliated" snarled Kurotsuchi, remembering what Naruto did to her after he defeated her, and how people were still laughing behind her back about it. "Besides we've been following them for almost two weeks now, if it was a trap they would have sprung it by now!"

"That may be true, but I'm not going to take the chance, last time we underestimate Konoha and it cost us dearly. I am not going to make the same mistake twice; we will continue to watching them until I am certain we can control the situation, then we'll strike."

Knowing that there was no point in arguing with her father any further, the Iwa Kunoichi settled with taking out her frustration out by punching the trunk of the tree they were standing on. Shortly after she just jumped down to the ground and settled against a tree to get some rest, knowing that they had a long day ahead of them.

XXXXX

Back at the Konoha camp after finishing eating his food Naruto went on guard duty while the member of team eight settled into their sleeping bags to get some sleep. He also had Kurimaru to stay at the camp on the chance that someone snuck pass him, knowing the young ninken (Ninja Hound) keen sense of smell would be able to detect any approaching strangers.

After making sure the area was secure by using his Chakura Parusu (Chakra Pulse) technique. Naruto leaped onto a trick tree branch and settled himself down, waited until his shift was over.

An hour into his watch, Naruto heard some movement coming up from behind him, fearing an intruder Naruto slowly drew a Kunai from his utility belt and waited.

Once the intruder was close enough, Naruto spun around and threw his Kunai, causing the person to yelp in surprise and fall to the ground onto their rear.

Recognising the yelp, Naruto leapt down next to the person he attacked, "Ino-chan what are you doing here? I could have killed you!"

"Sorry, I couldn't sleep, so I thought I could keep you company."

Sighing, Naruto held out his hand and helped the young girl up, after which they then leapt back up onto the tree he had been sitting on moments ago.

"The moon is really pretty tonight" sigh Ino as she looked up at the full moon glowing brightly in the night sky.

"Yea it is" nodded Naruto.

"And the stars are so beautiful, they're like diamonds" continued the girl as she leaned her head next to Naruto, thinking how romantic this was, just the two of them, alone gazing up at the stars.

Naruto on the other hand was a bit uncomfortable with the situation, it wasn't he didn't find Ino attractive or anything. Fact was, he found Ino to be quite attractive for a girl her age, what bothered him was her attitude; she refused to take her Shinobi duties serious and was more worried about stuff like her looks, gossip, boys and what others thought of her.

After a few minutes, Ino lifted her head off his shoulder and turned to her fellow blonde. "Naruto-kun, when we find this Valley that we're looking for, would you go out on a date with me?"

Surprised by Ino openness, Naruto said nothing at first and continued to look up at the stars, but after a few minutes, he turned to Ino and shook his head. "I'm sorry Ino-chan, but no."

"But why, is it because I'm not pretty enough, that I don't have big breast, am I too fat?"

"It's nothing like that I don't care about stuff like that, you're fine the way you are."

"Then why not?"

Sighing, Naruto just shook his head again. "Ino the problem is you only care about things like your looks and what people think of you. You don't take being a Kunoichi seriously; you spend most of your time dieting and trying to make yourself look good instead of training and improving you're fighting skill. Look at how easily Samui-chan defeated you in the preliminaries of the Chunin exam. Even now, when we're on an important mission you're more focus on going on a date with me than the mission itself."

"But I can change, just give me a chance!" pleaded Ino, but just shook his head.

"Ino you're just proving my point, you don't know what it means to be a Kunoichi. You're simply saying you want to get strong so that I will date you. Even if you were serious it's the wrong reasons for wanting to get stronger. If you keep thinking this way, one day you're going to get yourself or one of the others hurt or killed, which is why I think you should consider giving up being a Kunoichi."

"Y-You don't mean that!" cried Ino, not believing that Naruto would say such a thing to her.

"I'm sorry Ino, but I do, if you're not going to take your duties as a Kunoichi seriously, then you shouldn't being one."

Hurt by Naruto's words, the young girl jumped off her the branch and ran back to the camp with tears in her eyes.

Feeling awful for making Ino cry Naruto was tempted to go after her, but stopped himself, knowing it would do no good.

"Kind of hard on her weren't you?" asked a familiar voice.

Turning to the sound of the voice Naruto was surprised to see Asuma appear out from behind a nearby tree, standing on a branch.

"Asuma-sensei, how long have you been here?!"

"A while, I noticed Ino sneaking out of the camp and decided to check up on her, I figured she'd come to you" replied the man, before giving Naruto a stern look. "Did you really have to be so blunt with her like that?"

"It was the only way I could see it getting through to her, if she heard it from me, she'd at least take it seriously."

"You know she could end up hating you for what you said."

"Better that she hates me than ending up dead. If it gets her to take her duties as a Kunoichi more serious then it'll be worth it."

"I suppose your right" nodded Asuma, who couldn't help but be surprised by how mature the young Senju could be for his age. But still a part of him thought that Naruto was being rather cruel to Ino, especially given how he knew her feelings towards him.

Knowing that he could do nothing about it now, Asuma figured he leave Naruto to his own thoughts and headed back to the camp to get some rest before it was time for him to take the watch.

-A Few Days Later-

Following their talk at the camp things became rather tense between Naruto and Ino. Naturally both Shikamaru and Choji notice the tension between the two, but when they asked them what was going on neither of them were willing to talk.

Sensing the tension between his master and Ino as well, Kurimaru tried to ease things between the two by playing on his cuteness with Ino and allowing her to pet him, dress him up in ribbons and spray perfume on him. Sadly despite the ordeals he went through for his master, Ino still refused to talk to Naruto, even when the small pup forced the two to speak to each other.

After two days of travel the group arrived at a stone bridge, which according to the directions in the book they needed to cross. The bridge was old and looked to be made around the time of Great Shinobi Clan Wars, it made out of grey stones and featured a large gate at both ends, somewhat resembling a torii and spanned over a deep ravine with a raging river at the bottom.

"So after we cross this bridge how long more will it before we arrive at this Valley?" Shikamaru asked.

"About another week or more," replied Naruto after looking at the directions on the book. "That's if the directions are right and that we don't meet any problems."

"Great" moaned the Nara heir as he began to grumble about how troublesome this mission was.

Naruto just smirked at this, but when he glanced at Ino his smirk almost immediately disappeared. Ever since their talk the young Yamanaka girl had been unusually quiet, avoiding contact with him as possible, walking as far forward or as far back as she could, speaking to him only when she had to. Naruto of course tried to talk to her, but Ino would either ignore him and walk away or start up a conversation one of the others.

Making their way across the old bridge, the group suddenly stopped when several smoke bombs rolled across the bridge and exploded, covering the bridge with smoke and blinded the Konoha group.

"Defensive formation!" yelled Asuma.

Heeding his orders, the group quickly drew their Kunai and formed a circle with their back to one another with Kurimaru in the centre. Moments later a hail of Shruiken and Kunai appeared out of the smoke from both ends of the bridge, which the Konoha group defeated against, with only minor scratches.

"Everyone alright?" asked Asuma while at the same time keeping a lookout for any more projectiles.

"I'm okay!" answered Choji

"Same here!" said Shikamaru who was then followed by similar responses by Naruto and Ino.

When the smoke cleared the group saw two four-man teams of Iwa Shinobi positioned on both ends of the bridge.

"Iwa!" cried Ino in surprise. "What are they doing here?!"

"They're here for me" answered Naruto, knowing of no other reason for the Iwa Shinobi to be here. This was made more apparent when he saw Kurotsuchi, who was glaring daggers at him. "Guess she's still kind of pissed at me for what I did the last time we met."

"Troublesome" muttered Shikamaru, not only were they surrounded and outnumbered, but were completely exposed on the bridge with no cover or escape route. "Iwa planned this perfectly, they must've scouted a headed of us and decided to ambush us here, we were careless."

"How did they know that you were with us?" Choji asked. "I thought only the Hokage was supposed to know that you were with us."

"I don't know, but they're here now and have use cornered" a frowning Asuma replied. Any doubts that he may have had about Iwa having a spy in Konoha had now been put to rest.

Given the situation they were in, Ino turned to Asuma. "What are we going to do Sensei?"

Before Asuma could answer Ino, they heard Kitsuchi calling out to them.

"Sarutobi Asuma... you're surrounded and outnumbered. All we want is Senju Naruto, hand him over to us, and neither you nor the rest of your team will be harmed. Resist and you will all die...You have one minute to answer."

After hearing Kitsuchi's demands, Naruto was about walk towards the Iwa Shinobi to surrender himself. But before he could even take a step towards them, he stopped when he felt Kurimaru biting on his trouser legs.

"Naruto! What do you think you're doing?!" Ino hissed as she glanced at her fellow blonde.

"What does it look like I'm doing, I going to surrender?"

"You can't!"

"What choice do we have? They have us surrounded and could attack us at any moment."

"We can fight."

"If we do that we'll lose, they have us pinned between them"

"He's right" said Shikamaru joining the conversation, after keeping quiet the entire time, trying to think of a way for them to escape. "We're caught in between two groups of enemies on opposing sides, with no cover and limited room to manoeuvre. If a fight breaks our chances of escaping this, let alone surviving, are slime."

"But we can't just let them take Naruto!" argued Choji, who didn't like the idea of handing over a friend to an enemy.

"We won't" replied Asuma, while keeping his eyes focused on the Iwa Shinobi in front of him.

Not wanting his friends to be hurt because of him, Naruto tried to argue against it, but was cut off by Asuma

"Naruto, I know what you're going to say and appreciate what you're trying to do, but as team leader it's my job to protect you, and if it was one of us that they wanted, you probably wouldn't let us go either."

Realizing that Asuma was right, Naruto just nodded.

"Besides..." continued Asuma, "chances are they would still kill us once you surrendered yourself to them. It works better for Iwa if there are no survivors to report back to Konoha on what happened here. Our best option to rush through one group, then blow the bridge before the second group can cross the bridge."

"But for that we need a distraction to keep the second group busy long enough for us to break through the first group," stated Shikamaru.

"I have just the idea" said Asuma before he told his team of his plan.

Shortly after Kitsuchi could be heard calling out to them. "Your time is up, What's your answer?"

"Here's our answer!" shouted Naruto before he threw a dozen smoke bombs to the ground, creating a cloud of smoke that covered much of the bridge.

"Don't let them escape!" yelled Kitsuchi where he and the other Iwa Shinobi threw their Shuriken into the cloud of smoke.

Before the smoke could dissipate, another large cloud of smoke erupted from the first cloud and began to envelop the first group of Iwa Shinobi.

Thinking that the Konoha team were trying a make a break for it, the four Iwa-nins stayed where they were and kept their eyes peeled for any movement in the smoke.

But what the Iwa Shinobi didn't know was that this was not another smoke screen, it was chakra infused gun-powder, which then exploded when Asuma ignited it, killing two of the Shinobi and injuring a third.

After recovering from being blasted away by the explosion, the fourth member of the Iwa team attempted strike back with several Kunai and Shuriken. But before she could even throw the projectiles she found herself unable to move.

"What the...?"

Looking down the Iwa Kunoichi could see a shadow tendril extending from the smoke cloud to her own Shadow.

Realizing she had be caught, the Iwa Kunoichi struggled to move, but quickly realized that it was impossible. Moments later Sarutobi Asuma appeared right in front of her and punched her hard in the stomach causing her to double over and lose consciousness from the pain of the blow.

At the same time at the opposite end of the bridge Kitsuchi and his team were pinned behind a large wall of Earth.

After seeing the explosion, Kitsuchi and his team had attempted to assist their comrades. But before they could even move, a hail of Shruiken, Kunai and wooden spikes flew out of the smoke cloud, forcing Monga to create a wall of Earth to block the projectiles.

Shortly after Choji burst out of the cloud of smoke in his human tank form and charged straight at the Earth wall, smashing right through it, destroying it and scattering the Iwa team.

With the Earth wall destroyed and the Iwa Shinobi scattered, Choji quickly turned and headed back to the bridge, but before he could reach the rest of his team he was hit by several globs quicklime, courteously of Kurotsuchi, which quickly hardened stopping him in his tracks.

Unable to move, Choji was forced reverted into his normal state. No sooner had he done this Kurotsuchi appeared above the Akimichi heir and threw several Kunai at him. Before they could hit, the Kunai were intercepted by several other Kunai from Naruto, who then held up his arm and fired several vines at her.

Stuck in midair, unable to move, Kurotsuchi could only watch as they wrapped themselves around her right arm and pull her down to the ground next to Naruto, who then wrapped her up in several more vines.

No sooner had he done this, Kurotsuchi's father and the rest of her team moved into action to help her.

Seeing this, Naruto created several clones and had them intercept Kitsuchi and his team and keep them busy while he helped free Choji.

Once he had freed the Akimichi heir, Naruto called out to Ino inside the smoke. "Are they ready yet?"

"I've just finished!" the blonde girl called back where as the smoke from the bombs dissipated they could see the middle of the bridge covered with dozens of exploding notes.

With the Iwa Shinobi on Asuma's side defeated, and the exploding notes ready, Naruto and Choji were about to fall back and blow the bridge to prevent Kitsuchi and his team from following them. But before they could even move, Naruto suddenly pushed the Choji away and shouted "Watch Out!"

Moments later a Kunai flew pass them, looking in the direction from where the Kunai came from, they saw a now freed Kuotsuchi performing hand seals, having used the Kunai she had thrown to cut herself free.

After finishing her hand set Kurotschi spat out a long stream of fire, forcing both boys to separate, where they received light burns on their arms as they avoided the flames.

Taking out another Kunai, Kurotsuchi moved to attack. But before she could she was force to use the blade to deflect several Shuriken set by Ino, who then attacked.

Seeing Ino attacking Kurotsuchi, Naruto tried to warn her not to and to fall back, but the blonde girl ignored his cries. At the same time Naruto saw that the rest of the Iwa squad defeated all but two of his clones and would on them in moments.

Knowing they won't have long until the rest of the Iwa Shinobi were on top of them Choji and Naruto moved to help Ino. After she had been easily defeated by Kurotsuchi and was lying on the ground holding her bleeding arm.

Before Kurotsuchi could finish Ino off, Kurimaru appeared and bit down hard on Kurotsuchi's arm, causing her to cry out in pain and drop the Kunai she had been holding.

Taking advantage of Kurotsuchi's distraction Choji charged at the Iwa Kunoichi, using his PartialMulti-Size technique to increase the size of his fist. But Kurotsuchi saw him coming and before Choji' attack could connect, the Iwa Kunoichi spun around him and kicked him hard in the back of the head, knocking him out and causing him to fall forward several feet away.

No sooner had she knocked Choji out, Naruto appeared behind her with a kunai in hand and slashed her in the back.

Feeling the metal tearing through her skin, Kurotsuchi cried out in pain before moving away from the two blondes. Despite her flak jacket having taken the brunt of the slash, where she received only a shallow cut, the wound still hurt.

After driving Kurotsuchi away, Naruto immediately went to check on Ino.

"Ino, Kurimaru are you okay?"

Kurimaru barked indicating that he was fine, while Ino nodded, held her bleeding arm, ashamed by what had happened. When she saw Kurotsuchi attacking Naruto and Choji, she attacked the Iwa Kunouchi thinking that she could beat her, and prove to Naruto that she wasn't weak as he had said. But instead Kurotsuchi defeated her with little effort, and even mocked her at how weak she was. When Naruto saved her, it just added salt to the already open wound.

Helping Ino to her feet, Naruto was about to lead her across the bridge, but before he could, Kurotsuchi fired a large glob of quicklime at them, hitting Naruto's leg.

At the same the Monga created a large Earth wall right in front of them, blocking Ino and Naruto's path while at the same time preventing Asuma and Shikamaru helping them.

With only seconds before Kitsuchi and the rest of his team were on them, and with no time to free himself in time, Naruto grabbed Kurimaru and gave him to Ino.

"Naruto what are you doing?"

Not bothering to answer, Naruto took hold of Ino's uninjured hand arm and used his enhanced strength to throw her and Kurimaru over the massive Earth wall.

Once they were over the wall, Naruto then channelled his chakra into his fist and slammed it onto the ground causing the middle section of the bridge to shatter and collapse. At the same time the excess shock of the attacked detonated the exploding notes, blasting Kitsuchi and the other Iwa Shinobi back to the other side of the ravine.

As he fell into the ravine Naruto tried to save himself by using his Banmuchi (Vine Whip) technique to latch onto the bridge edge. But before he could complete the necessary hand seals a stray piece of rubble hit him in the back of the head, knocking him out, where he then fell into the river bellow.

"NARUTO!" cried Ino as leaned over the edge of the bridge aned was immediately joined by Kurimaru, who looked down into the ravine, wining and barking in the hope of seeing his master.

"Ino don't!" shouted Asuma, pulling Ino back.

"But Naruto..." began Ino, before being cut off by her teacher.

"We can't do anything for him now, we need to fall back, Choji is injured and if we stay Kitsuchi and his group could attack us."

"But we can't just abandon him!" responded Ino.

"We won't, once we've regrouped and made sure Choji is okay, we'll come back and search for him, I promise. But for now we need to leave now!"

Nothing wanting to leave, Ino tried to argue further but before she could Shikamaru cut her off by grabbing her arm. "Asuma-sensei is right Ino, we need to leave now! I don't like leaving Naruto either, but if we stay we risk getting into another fight the Iwa Shinobi, and with Choji hurt we're no shape fight back."

Not wanting to give Ino any more time to argue, Shikamura pulled on her arm and led her away into the tree line, while Asuma picked Kurimaru and the unconscious Choji up from the ground and followed after them.

At the same time on the opposite end of the ravine Kitsuchi and his team were picking themselves from the ground after being blasted away by the explosion.

"Is everyone alright?"

"I think so" groaned Akatsuchi as he slowly picked himself up and held his left side, having several broken rips.

"I'll live" grunted Monga before he hissed in pain as he had dislocated his right arm when he hit the ground.

Kitsuchi wasn't much better himself as he had burns and injuries across his face and arms, which would need treating soon.

"Any sign of the Senju heir?" asked Akatsuchi while slowing making his way over to Kitsuchi.

"Before the explosion I saw him fall down into the ravine" answered Monga, joining his comrades.

"Guess that's it for him then" replied Akatsuchi, looking down the ravine and the raging river below.

Kitsuchi made no comment to this, but noticed Asuma and his team retreat into the tree line on the other side of the ravine. "Huh, so much for Konoha Shinobi never abandoning their own" the Iwa Jonin thought to himself before looking back down the ravine. Although ideally he would've preferred to bring Naruto back to Iwa, killing him was within their mission parameters. The only problem now was Asuma and his Genin, who would no doubt report what happened here, which would then result in Konoha retaliating for killing the son of their new Hokage. Kitsuchi considered pursuing them, but given the shape he and his team were in and the fact that the bridge was destroyed, it would be pointless. The only options left was gather their dead and wounded and return home and prepare for Konoha's eventually reprisal, whether it be open war or assassination attempts on him and his family.

At the thought of assassination attempts on his family, Kitsuchi eyes widened when he realized that they were missing someone. "Kurotsuchi...! Where's Kurotsuchi!"

Only now realizing that Kurotsuchi had been missing, Monga and Akatsuchi quickly began to search for her.

"Where is she?!" shouted Akatsuchi, looking around for his best friend.

"I don't know, I thought she had been blasted back like we were, but I don't see her anywhere" Monga replied.

Looking down into the ravine, Akatsuchi turned to Monga and Kitsuchi "You don't think she..."

"It's the only possible explanation" said Monga, cutting Akatsuchi off. "When the Senju destroyed the bridge, Kurotsuchi must've fallen into the ravine, and if that happen she may be..."

"DON'T YOU DARE SAY IT!" roared Kitsuchi

"Kitsuchi we have to face the truth, the chances of her surviving that fall are slim, even if she somehow avoided the rocks below, she..."

"I TOLD YOU NOT TO SAY IT!" Kitsuchi rounded, cutting Monga off. "I know my daughter, Kurotsuchi won't die that easily, and I'm going to find her!"

"Kitsuchi-san, you need to down"

"CALM?! How can I calm down when my daughter fell into a ravine, I need to find her...now!"

"And how do you expect to find her in your state?!" Monga retorted angrily, looking Kitsuchi directly into his eyes. "None of us are in any state to search for her, we also have wounded and dead on the other side that we need to take care of."

"Are you saying I should abandon her like the Konoha-nins did with the Senju?" Kitsuchi growled angrily refusing to even consider the thought..

"That's not what I'm saying , you'd know that if you were thinking clearly. What I saying is that we need to take care ourselves first, in the state we're in we now won't be able to search for her for very long."

Realizing that Monga was right, Kitsuchi began to slowly calm himself down, knowing that getting himself worked up like this would not help him find his daughter any sooner. His first priority was to take care of his subordinates, then search for Kurotsuchi, hoping that she was alright.

Lying face down on a small beach an unconscious Naruto slowly began to wake up. Groaning, Naruto sluggishly opened his eyes and pushed himself up, taking in his new surroundings.

"Where am I?" Naruto asked himself before hissing in pain from the large bump on the back of his head. "Last thing I remember is falling off the bridge...something must have knocked me out before I could use my Vine whip."

Fearing that he might have a concussion from the blow, Naruto created a clone of himself and had the clone help carry him over to a large rock nearby. He then watched the clone perform a medical scan.

Thankfully the scan revealed that he didn't have a concussion and only had a medium size bump.

Relieved by the news, Naruto then had his clone treat his reaming other injuries that he had received from the fall. When the clone finished healing him, he cancelled it and picked himself up off the ground.

Looking up, he could see the sun would soon be setting, indicating that he had been unconscious for several hours.

"It's going to get dark in a couple of hours; I should start looking for a place to spend the night" thought Naruto as he slowly made his way inland into densely packed forest.

After walking through the forest for about twenty minutes, Naruto came across an old stone path leading up a steep hill. Figuring that he would find shelter on the top of the hill, Naruto decided to follow the path.

Making his way up the hill a thick dark mist began to form around him, covering much of the hill and the surrounding forestry. By the time he reached the top of the hill, the mist covered the entire hill, making it even harder to see and nearly crashed into old ruined wall that seemed to pop out of nowhere.

Surprised by the sudden appearance of the wall, Naruto climbed up the high wall to see what was behind it. When he reached the top, Naruto immediately realized that he had stumbled across an ancient Monastery.

Jumping off the wall, Naruto began to search the Monastery for the best place to spend the night. Looking around Naruto could see various stone carvings and statues of various creatures like Dragons, Tigers, Komainu (Lion-dog) bears and other creatures around Monastery.

Ignore the statues and carvings Naruto focused his attention on finding a good place to spend the night. It was obvious given its age, state of disrepair and the amount of moss that covered the walls that the Monastery had been abandoned for several decades, if not longer. And given how he had lost his backpack when he fell into the river, he had no sleeping bag or change of clothes and would quickly catch hypothermia in his damp clothes if he did not find a dry place soon.

After searching the main temple and several smaller old buildings, Naruto arrived at the back of the temple and what looked to large open garden. Like the rest of the Monastery, the garden had fallen into disrepair the stone pathways were falling apart and covered in moss and grass, while the garden itself was filled with trees and weeds that had grown out of control, spreading everywhere like a small jungle. Naruto could barely even see the small pound and river in the centre garden, or the small wooden bridge that allowed people to cross to the other side of the garden.

Looking around at the once beautiful garden, Naruto felt a sudden uneasiness crawl up his spine, as if someone was watching him from somewhere.

Not wanting to take any chances with his visibility being so poor, Naruto took out the Raijin no Ken (Sword of the Thunder God) from the back of his utility belt and activated the ancient sword, where it glowed brightly in the dim light.

"I know your there, come out where I can see!" Naruto called out.

Hearing no response Naruto called out again. "I don't mean any harm, I lost and I'm just looking for a safe place to spend the night."

After still hearing no response from the person following him, Naruto prepared to use Chakra pulse technique to locate the person. But before he could perform the technique a pair of hands burst out of the ground and grabbed his legs.

Wasting no time Naruto stabbed his sword into the ground, causing the hands to revert into mud and melt away. But no sooner had he done this, a dark figure burst out of the mist and tried to stab him in the side of his neck with a Kunai.

Acting on pure instinct, the young blonde quickly side stepped the strike and leaped back, putting some distance between him and his assailant, who turned out to be Kurotsuchi.

"Surprised to see me Senju?!" sneered the Iwa Kunochi as leered at the younger boy.

"A little" the blonde replied, as kept an eye out for any movement within the mist on the chance that the rest of her team were hiding somewhere. "I'm guessing you must have fallen into the river with me when I destroyed the bridge?"

Kurotsuchi of course didn't need to answer, since it was obvious given the state of her uniform and the injuries on her arms, legs and face that she had been caught in the explosion when Naruto destroyed the middle section of the bridge. It was also clear that Kurotsuchi had tried to treat her injuries herself but had done a poor job at it, he could see some of the wounds she had bandaged and wrapped up were tied to tightly, causing them to bleed more, while others had not been treated correctly.

Still, Naruto couldn't help but been admire the girls tenacity, given her injuries she was obliviously hurting, yet masked it well and could still move remarkable well.

"You really intend to fight me in your state?" he asked.

"What do you think?" replied the girl as she readied her Kunai.

"And how do you plan to beat me in your state?" Naruto asked. "In case you forgot the last time we fought I defeated you, and that was when you were at a hundred precent."

Growling at the memory, Kurotsuchi leapt forward and slashed at Naruto with her Kunai which Naruto quickly blocked with the Raijin.

After blocking the slash, Naruto pushed Kurotsuchi back. Recovering quickly, Kuotsuchi jumped further back, putting some distance between the two of them before. Once she was far enough away she preformed three quick hand seals and spat out a large condensed ball of quicklime.

Seeing the ball, Naruto quickly side stepped the attack and allowed it to fly right past him, where it destroyed a nearby stone statue. He then quickly ran up to the Kurotsuchi and preformed a downward slash in the hope of ending the fight with one move. But before his attack could reach, Kurotsuchi took out several exploding flash pellets slammed them into the ground, temporarily blinding Naruto.

Taking advantage of Naruto's distraction, Kurotsuchi swung her Kunai at him, slashing him lightly across the stomach, before kicking him, sending skidding across the ground. But before she could do anymore, Naruto recovered and blocked her next attack and pushed her back. After which he then struck back by channelling some of his Chakra into his fist and slammed into the ground, shattering it into pieces, forcing Kurotsuchi to jump away, as debris flew everywhere.

This went on for several minutes, where the two continued to battle with one another, all the while unaware of the presence of a lone figure with bright yellow eyes watching them from within the mist.

After avoiding another one of Narutoi's destructive punches, Kurotsuchi landed back on the ground and struck back by throwing several Shuriken at him. Seeing them, Naruto deflected them easily enough with the Raijin no Ken. But no sooner had he done this he saw Kurotsuchi racing towards him with surprising speed for someone as injured as her.

Brining the Raijin up, Naruto attempted to block her Kunai stab with the sword, but before either weapon could connect they were both blocked by a large wood bamboo staff, that seemed to appear right out of the mist.

Before either teen knew what happened, they were both kick away to opposing sides by a mysterious figure, disappearing as quickly as he had appeared.

"What the hell was that?!" thought both Naruto and Kurotsuhi.

With the arrival of the unknown assailant, the two teens halted their battle and took up defensive stances, all the while keeping a look out for movement within the mist.

Shortly after Kurotsuchi heard something moving behind her, turning around, the girl took out an exploding note from her pouch and threw it into the mist and detonated it.

As soon as the note exploded the unknown person jumped out of the mist and landed in the middle between Naruto and Kurotsuchi.

The person in question was not very tall, roughly five and a half, dressed dark blue loose fitting martial arts robes, carried a long bamboo staff, that was taller than him and wore a large straw hat that obscured his face. He had short stubby legs, with long arms and large hand with a hefty build, which was surprising given how fast he moved around.

At appearance alone, one would not think that the stranger wasn't much of a threat, but given the way he handled himself just moments ago and the way he held himself. Naruto could tell that this person was more than he appeared, proving once again what his mother had told him, that appearances were deceptive.

"That wasn't very nice" the stranger remarked with a slight chuckle, as if amused by what she had done.

"Who are you?" Naruto asked, causing the stranger to glance at him. "Why did you attack us?"

"It seems the youth of today have forgotten their manners, common courtesy dictates that you introduce yourself before asking someone there name?"

Before Naruto could respond, Kurotsuchi cut him off, "I don't care who you are, all I want to know is why you are interfering? This has nothing to do with you!"

Turning to Kurotsuchi, the stranger then replied "In that you are correct, your fight has nothing to do with me, nor do I care to be involved in the disputes between Konoha and Iwa. But the fact that you are having it here does concern me. This place is rather important to me, and my village. So if you wish to continue your battle by all means do so, but will have to have it elsewhere."

"And if we don't leave?" Naruto asked, causing to the stranger to look at him.

"Then you'll have to deal with me" replied the stranger, his voice taking a much more serious tone.

Not one to be bossed around like some fluky by a complete stranger, Kurotsuchi took the Kunai in her hand and threw it straight at the stranger's head. Without even turning to look at the approaching projectile, the stranger brought up his hand and caught it right between his stubby looking fingers, much to Naruto and Kurotsuchi's shock.

Before either teen could comment, the stranger tossed the Kunai right back at Kurotsuchi, where it flew right past her with startling speed, cutting her right cheek.

"You my dear need to learn some manners" the stranger scolded as he glanced over at the stunned girl, who seemed to be at a loss for words.

Coming out of his stupor, Naruto began to pay close attention to the mysterious stranger, all the while thinking "Whoever this guy is, he's good."

Angered by how she was being talked down, like some wet behind the ear Genin, by some nobody, Kurotsuchi launched forward and attempted to punch the stranger in the face. But was blocked by the strangers staff, who then pushed her arm back and then hit her hard in the stomach with the other end of his staff.

Doubling over from the pain of the blow, Kurotsuchi attempted to pick herself up, but before she could she was sent crashing face first into the ground, courtisly of the stranger hitting her in the back of the head with his bamboo staff.

No sooner had he finished with the Iwa Kurotsuchi, the stranger immideatly spun around to face Naruto, who suddenly appeared behind him. With a Kunai in one hand and the Raijin in his other, he hoped of to take advanatage of the stranger's distraction.

After the stranger backhanded his Kunai out of his hand. Naruto brought the Raijin no Ken in a downward slash, but missed when the starnger jumped back, where the only thing Naruto was able to cut was the stranger's straw hat.

Still keeping his face hidden underneath the hat, the stranger glanced up at the young boy through the opening in his hat, allowing Naruto to see his bright yellow eyes. "It seems that you're also one that needs a lesson in manners...its not very polite to sneak up on people like that."

Not bothering to respond, Naruto continued to press his attacks with a series of sword slashes and Kunai stabs. But each time the stranger would easily sidestep his attack with ease, as if he wasn't even trying.

"I see that you've some skill with a sword" the stranger remarked, while continuing to dodged Naruto's attack. "Your moves are quick and fierce, but still lack refinemenent and leave yourself open to attack...Like this!" After sidestepping another one of Naruto's slashes, the stranger brought his staff up and smacked the Raijin out of the blonde boy's hand into the air, causing the blade to disappear, and then kicked him in the stomach, sending him skidding accross the ground.

As the the sword fell back to the ground the stranger caught the weapon and began to examine it. "An interestering weapon you have here..."

"Give it back, that's mine!" demanded Naruto.

"Children such as you shouldn't have such dangerious things...didn't your mother ever teach you not to play with sharp things?"

-Enter Naruto OST – Heavy Violence-

"No, but she did teach me this..." replied Naruto right before he jumped into air and yelling "Tsūtenkyaku (Heavenly Foot of Pain)!" as he preformed a falling axe kick.

Jumping back, the stranger watch in disbelief when Naruto's heel hit the ground and shattered it, sending debrief and dust flying everywhere, and creating a large crater in the ground.

"It seems the boy is powerful more than I first thought?" the stranger said to himself in mild surprise before hidding the Raijin within his clothing.

"I suggest that you give me back by Great Uncle's sword, otherwise I'll take it from you" siad Naruto coolly as he picked himself back up.

Smirking underneath his staw hat, the stranger fell into a fighting stance, with his left hand streached out and his staff behind. "Interesting...well by all means young one come and take it...if you can," waving his left hand at Naruto, urgiung him to attack.

Not one to back down from a challange, Naruto raced forward and attack. For the next few minutes Naruto attacked the stranger with a series of hard and fast jabs and punches. But stranger would avoid or sidestep each and every single one of them, not bothering to block them, knowing that if Naruto could land one solid blow, he'd be finished.

As the fight continued, the stranger began to notice the amount of damage they were doing to the Monastery. For every time Naruto missed him, he would destroy a statue, a wall, an altar or more of the ground.

Realizing that this could not go no any longer, the stranger devised a new strategy to deal with Naruto and his super human-like strength.

When Naruto drew close enough, the stranger sidestepped Naruto's punch and grabbed his wrist and flipped him over onto his back.

Recovering quickly Naruto flipped himself back onto his feet and attempted to hit the stranger with a reverse heel kick. But again the stranger avoided this by ducking under his outstretched leg and kicked him off his feet, causing Naruto to fall on his back again.

Picking himself up again, Naruto attempted an enhanced spin kick, but missed again when the stranger ducked under the kick and grabbed his outstretched leg and swung him around, sending him crashing into the ground several feet away.

After tossing Naruto away, the stranger smirked underneath his hat as he watched the young boy pick himself up for what must be the third or fourth. His strategy was simple enough; whenever Naruto attacked, he would wait until the very last second to sidestep or duck under the blonde boy's attack, avoiding them by mere inches. This then left Naruto open to attack, allowing the stranger to strike him at the moment his guard was at its weakest. The strategy also had the added benefit of reducing the amount of collateral done around the temple.

"Your strength is truly impressive young one" the stranger remarked. "But no matter how strong your attacks are, they are worthless if they cannot make contact."

Frustrated by the strangers remarks and how the fight was going, Naruto pushed himself off the ground and spun around and attempted to punch the stranger right to the head. But missed when the strange sidestepped the punch and spun around him, hitting the spiky haired blonde right in the back with his staff.

Grunting his pain, Naruto held his ground and spun back around, grabbing the stranger's bamboo staff and flining his right fist forward again.

Unafraid of the approaching punch, the stranger waited until the last second to duck under it. But before he could strike back, Naruto brought his right knee up in an attempt to hit the stranger right underneath his chin.

When the stranger's head flung back, Naruto smirked in triumphant, thinking he had finally hit his opponent. But just as quickly as it had appeared, his smirk vanished after he felt a strong kick right underneath his own chin, causing him to fall backwards.

"He's learning" the stranger remarked. After flipping himself back onto his feet, the stranger smiled in amusement as he watched Naruto get back onto his feet. When he saw Naruto bringing his knee up the stranger pulled his head back at the last second and fell backwards, narrowly avoiding the blow, but making it seem like the knee kick had connected. "He's already figured out my plan, had I not avoided that kick when I did, it would've done a considerable amount of damage."

Spitting out some blood in his mouth, Naruto glared angrily at his opponent, who he could almost feel his opponent smirking at him.

After getting back onto his feet, Naruto raced forward, but before he and the stranger could continue their battle. They saw a massive stream of fire flying towards them.

Acting quickly the two jumped apart from one another, where the stream of fire flew right pass them, igniting the overgrow garden, turning it into a field of fire.

Turning to the direction of where the fire came from, Naruto was not surprised to find that the source of the fire was Kurotsuchi, who decided to take advantage of their fight and take them both out with one attack.

Before Naruto could even respond to the attempts on his life, Kurotsuchi finished a new set of hand seals and spat out a large stream of Water, which missed both Naruto and his opponent but extinguished the flames.

After evading the Water attack Naruto wasted no time in striking back where he fired several poisoned tip Senbon needles using his Wrist-Mounted Senbon Launcher hidden underneath his left arm sleeve.

Jumping to her left, the Iwa Kunoichi was able to avoid the needles, but no sooner had her feet touched the ground again. She was force to flip backwards to avoid another attack from their mysterious attacker who appeared in front of her and swung his bamboo staff after her.

Once she landed back on her feet, Kurotsuchi formed three quick hand seals and fired several large condense balls of quicklime at the stranger,

"Yōton (Lava Release)?" thought the stranger as he skilfully evaded each of Kurotsuchi's attacks. "Given the fact that she is from Iwa and the Yōton style she is using, she's obviously from the Konkurito Clan."

Bringing his bamboo staff up, the stranger caught one of the globs of quicklime using the tip of the staff, spun around a full three-sixty, and flung it right back at her, narrowly missing Kurotsuchi's head.

Smirking at the surprised look of on the girl's face the stranger raised his staff and said "Where the great wind blows, the green reed bends."

Before the Iwa Kunoichi could even ask what that was supposed to mean. The stranger disappeared in a whirl of mist and reappeared right in front of her, palm striking her in the chest, catching her completely off-guard.

Falling to her knees, the young girl struggled to catch her breath and looked up at her opponent, who raised his bamboo staff up to finish her off. But before he could deliver the final blow, several earth spikes appeared out of the ground around them and nearly skewered him, forcing the stranger to jump away, while at the same time nearly impaling Kurotsuchi.

At that moment Naruto appeared and attempted to hit the stranger with a supercharged punch, but hit only air when the stranger disappeared in another swirl of mist.

"What the hell Senju, you could've killed me!" Kurotsuchi yelled angrily, ignoring the fact that Naruto had probably just saved her life.

"Well I guess that makes us even then" responded Naruto, without even turning to look at the older girl. Focusing his attention more on the whereabouts of their mysterious opponent, who was hiding his presence within the surrounding mist.

At the same time, the stranger in question eyes widened when he heard Kurotsuchi shout Naruto's surname. "Senju? Could he be...?"

Unable to locate his opponent, Naruto decided to use his Chakra Pulse technique. Gathering a large amount of Chakra to his fingertips, he touched the ground and released it in a large burst.

Still hidden within the mist, the stranger's yellow eyes widened again when he first felt the burst of emanate from Naruto and expand throughout the Monastery.

Before the stranger could even ask himself what had happened, Naruto appeared in front of him and attempted to hit him with an enhanced spin kick to the head.

Jumping back, the stranger was only able avoid the lethal kick a hairsbreadth and was blown back by the force of the attack. But before Naruto could press his advantage, the stranger brought up his staff and swung it at him, driving Naruto away.

Unable to get any closer to his opponent, Naruto preformed several quick hand seals and shouted "Suiton: Mizurappa (Water Style: Violent Water Wave)" right before he spat out a large stream of what from his mouth which formed into a large speeding wave.

Unafraid of the speeding wave of Water, the stranger stood his ground held his staff forward and waited until the wave was right on top of him. At the last moment he began to spin around at high speed, using the staff to make Water swirl around him, like a waterspout, and then send it right back at Naruto. Stunned by what happened Naruto could watch as his own Water attack was sent right back at him, which blasted him several meters away, into a stone statue.

-End Naruto OST – Heavy Violence-

After dealing with Naruto, the stranger came under assault again when several small Earth spikes flew towards him.

Seeing the spikes, the stranger wasted no time in destroying them with his staff, but was then forced to move away when Kurotsushi popped out of the ground and attempted stab him in the leg. After the failed attempt the stranger was put on the defensive as Kurotsuchi continued her assault, and before long she was joined by Naruto, who recovered from having his own attack being turned back on him

But despite their best attempts neither one of them were able to land a solid blow on their opponent, who avoided all their attacks with a remarkable skill.

After sidestepping another one of Kurotsuchi's attacks, the stranger dunked under a straight forward punch from her, hitting an unsuspecting Naruto right in the face when he tried to sneak up on the stranger from behind.

"OW! Hey watch it Rock Princess!"

"You watch it!" Kurotsuchi snapped back before the stranger spun around behind her and hit her in the back with his staff. This then caused her to fall forward and into Naruto's elbow strike when he tried to hit the stranger. Fortunately though for Kurotsuchi, the elbow strike was a normal one and had not been enhanced by his Chakra.

Before Naruto could even apologise for hitting the girl or even complain about her getting in his way. The stranger spun around behind him and hit him in the back, causing him to crash into Kurotsuchi and fall to the ground on top of her.

Seeing the two tangled up Shinobi the stranger couldn't help but smile. "My, My, if you two wanted some alone time, all you had to do was ask me to leave?"

Blushing at implication, Naruto and Kurotsuchi quickly untangled themselves from one another and glared furiously at their opponent, before charging forward.

Smirking at the two, the stranger just evaded each of their attacks, all the while keeping a sharp eye out for any opening that would appear.

When the two attempted to surround him and attack from opposite sides. The stranger leapt into the air at the last second, causing them to hit one another instead.

Panting heavily, the two teens slowly picked themselves up off the ground. They had been fighting for almost forty minutes, and had yet to land a single solid blow on their opponent.

"This is getting ridiculous, this guy is seriously good, he's wiping the floor with us, like we're a pair of newly made Genin" thought Naruto angrily.

"Just who the hell is this guy?" Kurotsuchi asked to herself

Appearing several meters away from the two, the stranger fell into a loose fighting stance and waved Naruto and Kurotsuchi over. "Come now younglings, don't tell your getting tired already? The fun has only just begun...Then again perhaps I should let you two go back to fighting each other; you seem to be doing a better job at that, than fighting me."

Angered by the strangers taunts, Kurotsuchi glared at him, "Keep talking teme, we'll see how much you have to say when your head is covered in ten inches of cement"

"Bold words, but a boulder pulled on opposing sides cannot be moved."

Not understanding what the opponent was saying, Kurotsuchi only response was a confused look that said "What?!"

"A single raindrop cannot fill a glass, but many together can fill an ocean."

Again, the Iwa Kunoichi could only look at the stranger like he was crazy, but before she make any kind of a responce, Naruto answered.

"He saying that we can't beat him if we're fighting him and each other at the same time, and that the only chance we have of beating him is if we can work together."

"Work together?!" Kurotsuchi repeated, not believing the words that were coming out Naruto's mouth, "You gotta be kidding me?"

"Believe me, I don't like it anymore than you do, but if we want to have any chance of beating him, we need to put aside our difference and work together. Niether one of us are strong enough to beat him by ourselves" said Naruto, all the while keeping his eyes focused on the straw hat wearing stranger. Given how easily their opponent was handing them their asses, it was obivious that the stranger was at the level of a vertern Jonin at or close to to Kakashi and Kushina's level.

When he thought of the one-eyed Jonin-sensei, Naruto couldn't help but be reminded of the team exam he took with Sasuke and Sakura right after arriving in Konoha, and how simlair this situation was to it. This was how he came to realize what the stranger was trying to tell them.

"Speak for yourself Senju" Kurotsuchi replied. "But still, you "might" have a point with whole working together idea...so we'll call a truce, for now."

Nodding his head, Naruto took out his last Kunai from his pouch and tossed it over at Kurotsuchi, who caught it. He then formed a single one handed hand seal to create a wooden sword for himself, which emerged from he right hand.

Seeing that the two teens had finally decided to put aside there difference and work toegther the stranger smiled. "They're learning," But when he saw Naruto use his Mokuton powers to create a wooden sword for himself. The stranger's yellow eyes widened in surprise. "Mokuton...! For him to have that power, he's not only a member of the Senju Clan, but also a decendant of Hashirama...he could actually be the one."

Realizing that he needed to end this fight quickly the stranger decided to take things more seriously. But before he could make any sort of move, Naruto and Kurotsuchi attacked.

Kurtotsuchi struck first by attempting to stab him the chest with her Kunai, which the stranger blocked effortless with his bamboo staff. After which he twirled his staff around and hit Kurotsuchi in the side and sent her flying.

At that moment Naruto appeared in front of the stranger and attempted to slash him across his chest with his Wind enhanced bokken.

Prepared for this the stranger hit Naruto's bokken away with his staff and then brought the bottom end of his staff up underneath Naruto and flipped the blonde boy over him.

Seeing this, Kurotsuchi quickly picked herself up off the ground and attacked the stranger again. This continued for several minutes, where the two young Shinobi fought their mysterious opponent across Monastery garden. But despite their new found cooperation, they were still unable to land and serious blows on the stranger, who was kept on the defensive the whole time, unable to counterattack.

After blocking another one of Naruto's sword slashed with his staff. The stranger brought up his right leg to block a strong kick from Kurotsuchi, who appeared on his right.

Pushing the two teens away, the stranger jumped into the air, at a height that should have been impossible to go for someone his size and build to even reach. He then preformed a midair back flip, and landed in the middle of one of the garden's stone paths several meters away from the two.

Not wanting to give the stranger a chance to attack, Naruto struck first by channelling a large portion of his Charkra into his fist and slammed it into the ground. The ground then began to shake while dozen of large spider web-like cracks appeared on the stone path as the stranger to stumble and struggled to keep his balance.

Taking advantage of the stranger's distraction, Kurotsuchi fired several globs of quicklime at him, but the stranger evaded them all by jumping into the air and twisting his body. But as soon as he had avoided Kurotsuchi's attacks, Naruto appeared directly above him swung his bokken down.

Unable to move, the stranger could only watch as Naruto swung his wooden sword down on him. But as soon as his sword hit the stranger "he" exploded into a puff of smoke, and reverent into one of the stone statues.

Before either Naruto or Kurotsuchi knew what had happened, the stranger reappeared behind Kurotsuchi and hit her in the back, sending her flying.

Recovering quickly, Kurotsuchi preformed a midair flip and landed back on her feet, where she was then joined by Naruto who landed next to her.

After signalling to one another on what they would do next. The two teens began to form hand seals. Naruto was the first to finish and created several earth walls around the stranger, cornering him.

At the same time Kurotsuchi finished her own set of hand seals and spat out a massive stream of Fire, which flew straight for the stranger.

Unable to avoid the approaching flames, the stranger brought up his bamboo staff and began to channel his Chakra into it. Waiting until the last second, the stranger swung his staff down causing the stream out fire to suddenly split in half and dissipate, much to the shock and confusion of both Naruto and Kurotsuchi.

"What the fuck just happened?" thought Kurotsuchi.

"Did he use some sort of Wind technique?" Naruto asked himself. But before he could even think of another explanation, the stranger raced forward and brought his staff down on him.

Acting quickly Naruto raised his bokken up and blocked the downward slash, but as soon as he had done this the stranger kneed him in the stomach and then kicked Naruto away.

Seeing Naruto being sent flying, Kurotuchi wasted no time in joining the fight and attempted to hit the straw hat wearing stranger with a heel kick to the side, only to have it caught by the stranger who then swung her around and sent her crashing into the Naruto.

Recovering, Naruto struck back by creating several wooden spikes out of the ground, which the stranger evaded easily enough by hopping back several feet and landing on the tip of one of the spikes, balancing on it.

"An interesting ability you have young one, by any chance would you be a descendant of Senju Hashirama?"

"What's it to you? Did you know him?"

"Unfortunately no, I did not have the honour in knowing him, but he is well known to my people" the stranger replied. But before Naruto could ask any more, Kurotsuchi leapt forward and attempted to kick the stranger in the side of the head with a whirling kick, which the stranger avoided by jumping off the spike.

"I suggest you save the chit chat for later Senju, or have you forgotten that this guy is our enemy?"

Releasing that Kurotsuchi was right Naruto fired several wooden spikes out of his hand, which the stranger skilfully evaded, before leaping forward and attacking him with his bokken.

For the next few minutes the two young Shinobi continued attack the their opponent and coordinated their attacks together. But despite their best efforts, the stranger kept blocking or avoiding all their attacks with little trouble. The only thing they were able to do successfully was keep him on the defensive and forcing him back, but even that didn't last for very long.

After evading several of Naruto's wooden tentacles, the stranger saw both the Senju heir and Tsuchikage granddaughter charging at him from opposite sides.

Attacked on both sides and with nowhere to go the stranger jumped into the air just as the two Shinobi were about to hit him, resulting in Naruto and Kunoichi nearly hitting one another again.

As the stranger fell back to the ground he brought his bamboo staff up once again while channelling his Chakra into it. Then swung it down onto the ground with such force that it created a massive shockwave that blew surrounding mist away along with both Naruto and Kurotsuchi, who were sent crashing into a wall, which collapsed right on top of them.

"Ohhh, perhaps I over did it with that last attack" the stranger said to himself after seeing the damage he had done. The whole point of him interfering in Naruto and Kurotsuchi's fight was to avoid further damage to the Monastery.

Still somehow conscious after having a wall collapse on top of them, Naruto and Kurotsuchi pushed the rubble off of them and dug themselves out of the rubble. But just as they had pulled the upper half of their bodies out of the rubble their opponent appeared in front of them and pointed the tip of his staff at them.

"I think that's quite enough, don't you?" asked the amused stranger.

Glaring at the man neither teen said anything, although both knew that he had them.

"Now that we've had our evening exercise, perhaps we can stop all this and have a talk?"

When neither teen responded to his offer, the stranger decided that he would go first. "Allow me to introduce myself..." said the stranger as he slowly took his straw hat off, revealing himself to be a large Panda. "My name is Chen Ironpaw of the Jade Temple, and it a pleasure to meet you both." (2)

"Y-You're...You're a Panda?!" said both Naruto and Kurotsuchi in surprise, while at the same time thinking "There goes my reputation." After imagining the faces of everyone they knew heard that they got their butts handed to them by a giant talking Panda

"Yes I 'am, very observant of you young lady" smiled the large talking Panda named Chen. "Now perhaps we can have that conversation and talk like civilised people?

Seeing that there was no more point in fighting, both teen agreed, after which Chen helped them both out of the rubble.

"Now that I have introduced myself, perhaps you would be both so kind as introduce yourselves?" asked Chen. Although he already knew their names he wanted to keep the peace for as long as possible and get some answers.

"Konkurito Kurotsuchi" Kurotsuchi replied shortly.

"Senju Naruto" answered Naruto a bit more politely.

"A pleasure to meet you both" Chen bowed politely. "Now that we've gotten to know one another one another a little better, perhaps you would be so kind as to tell me what you are doing here?"

"I'm here because I'm looking for a place called the Valley of the Four Winds" Naruto answered.

"Really?" said Chen, raising his right eyebrow. "And why would you be looking for that? It wouldn't involve your Mokuton powers, would it?"

At the mention of his Mokuton powers, Naruto's body stiffened, confirming what Chen already suspected. Naruto had avoided mentioning why he was looking for the valley due Kurotsuch, who now had intrigued look on her face. Originally she had not really cared about what Naruto and his team were looking for, believing it to have no value to her village. But upon learning that it held some secrets involving Mokuton, she became very interested in it.

"How do you know that?" Naruto demanded.

"I know because the Valley of the Four Winds is my homeland?" Chen replied.

"You're from the Valley of the Four Winds?" repeated Naruto with a look of surprise, where the large talking Panda just nodded.

"I' am, but tell me, how is it that you came to know our valley?"

"My Great Grandfather left a message about the valley and mentioned how the people there could help me and left clues on how to find it" Naruto half-lied since given how he had just met Chen and Kurotsuchi was standing next to them.

"I see" hummed Chen while at the same time thinking. "So I was right, he is a descendant of Hashirama, then that means he could be the one that the prophecy spoke about."

"SSooo is this..."began Naruto.

"No" said Chen, cutting Naruto off before he could finish, already knowing what he was thinking. "This is not the Valley of the Four Winds. This is only a place that my kind uses to mediate in solitude. Long ago we had a friendship with the monks of this Monastery and would often visit them to share knowledge, food and talk. But we then stopped when the monks were driven out during a great war long ago."

"Is the valley far then?" Kurotsuchi asked.

"It's another week's journey away by foot, although even then you would have to know where you are going to find it, as it is well hidden from people."

Nodding, Kurotsuchi was about to ask another question but suddenly held her right side in pain hissing loudly. The adrenaline from the fight had finally begun to fade and the pain of her injuries was finally beginning to re-surface.

Concerned, Naruto quickly moved over to the Tsuchikage's granddaughter, who tried to push him away saying that she was fine, but he ignored her and tried to examine her. Feeling a sharp needle-like pain from her head, Kurotsuchi suddenly lost her balance and fell to her knees, luckily though Naruto was able to catch her and gently helped her sit on the ground.

"Take off your vest and pull up your shirt" Naruto ordered.

"What?! Are you serious?! Are you some kind of pervert?! There's no way I'm going to do that!" shouted the girl in outraged.

"I'm a medic, not a pervert!" Naruto retorted. "I need to check your injuries and I can't do that with your vest and shirt on. So you can do this the easy way and cooperate or the hard way, where I restrain you and take your vest and shirt off myself."

Annoyed, Kurotsuchi would have argued further but was prevented when another surge of pain sprung from her side, taking all the fight out of her.

Reluctantly, the Tsuchikage's granddaughter slowly removed her Shinobi vest, (with Naruto's assistance), and then pulled up her shirt and fishnet shirt underneath it before lying down on the ground. But stayed just below her chest, refusing to lift any higher, injuries be damned.

When Kurotsuchi pulled up her shirt up, Naruto could see a large purple bruise on her right side. Using one of the medical scanning techniques Shizune had taught him, Naruto discovered that Kurotsuchi had three broken ribs and another two fracture, which Naruto guessed was caused by the fall from the bridge. He was able to confirm this by lightly touching the girl's side, causing her to hiss loudly in pain. The fact that she was able to move around so well and fight as long as she did with these sort of injuries impressed the blonde boy, since it showed just how tough, not to mention stubborn Kurotsuchi was.

Upon further examination Naruto also learned that Kurotsuchi had a mild concussion, which he guessed was the result of her crashing into the stone wall and explained the sharp and sudden pain from her head moments ago.

As Naruto continued to examine Kurotsuchi, Chen stood out of his way and watched as blonde boy took out some bandages, ointments and medical tools and began to treat her injuries. Watching the young man work the Panda monk couldn't help but be impressed by Naruto's Medical skills, especially considering how young he was. It showed that whoever had thought him, not only knew what they were doing, but had trained him very well.

Once he had finished bandaging Kurotsuchi up and treating her injuries, Naruto gave her some pills to ease the pain and then told her could pull her shirt back down.

After pulling her shirt down and putting her vest back on, Kurotsuchi took the pills, with some reluctance, and glanced up at Naruto. "So how bad am I?"

"Well not counting the large number of minor bruises and cuts you received from both the fall and the fight. You have three broken ribs and two fractured, along with a concussion, but luckily for you it's mild one, so there'll be no lasting harm. No doubt thanks to the hard headedness that you Iwa Shinobi are so famed for" smirked Naruto, causing Kurotsuchi to give him a dirty look, which he ignored. "I also had to clean some of the wounds on your arms and rebadged to prevent infection, as you did a lousy job in bandaging them."

"Well excuse me for not being any good at first aid, not all of us can have a famed Medic for a mother to teach us" Kurotsuchi sneered. Not liking how a boy two years her younger was reminding her of her short comings. But when she tried get up onto her feet she was gently pushed back down by Naruto.

"Don't move, I may have mended your rips, but they're still tender, and there's not much I can do about your concussion, other than monitor you and make sure that there's no lasting harm. Not to mention the pain-killers I gave you are strong and will kick in soon, making you feel pretty woozy for while. You'll need to limit your movements for next two or three days at minimum and rest."

"Two or three days" Kurotsuchi repeated. She had never been a fan of hospitals, hating the thought of lying in a bed with nothing to do other than looking out a window or staring at the ceiling floor. But even that seem pleasant compared to spending more than a single night in the ruined temple with Naruto.

"Perhaps I may offer an alternative" Chen offered, whom Naruto and Kurotsuchi had almost completely forgotten about. "You could stay in my village in the Valley of the Four Winds?"

"Would that be alright?" Naruto asked, surprised by how willing Chen was in leading them to him homeland. "Wouldn't you get in trouble over it?"

"There will be some excitement, but I can assure it would be no trouble. It has been many years since we Pandas have had visitors and we would be honoured to have you as our guests" Chen assured. "Besides, I believe we have much to discuss with you Senju Naruto, descendant of Senju Hashirama."

Given how the whole point of his journey was to find the Valley of the Four Winds, Naruto almost immediately accepted the offer. But stopped himself when something else occurred to him. "Wait, how are we even going to get there, Kurotsuchi can't really move for a while and you said it would take at least week to get there."

"By foot" corrected Chen. "But there is more than one way to get to the valley."

Before either teen could ask him how, Chen walked up to them and formed three quick hand seals and slammed his hand onto the ground and yelled "Gyaku Kuchiyose no Jutsu (Reverse Summoning Technique)!" Seconds later, a large seal appeared on the ground around them along with and a large cloud of smoke that enveloped him, Naruto and Kurotsuchi together.

When the smoke died down, Naruto and Kurotsuchi found that they were no longer in the Monastery, instead they were standing underneath a large red Torii atop a high cliff, overlooking a vast valley below.

"Welcome to the Valley of the Four Winds" Chen declared, where almost on cue a large gust of Wind blew behind them and almost blowing Chen's hat off.

Looking down into the valley, the two teens were struck in awe at beauty of the place. The valley was flanked on both sides by high mountains and rock formations with small waterfalls falling down into rivers below with a thin layer of cloud or mist floating across the valley given it an air of mystery and magic around it.

Even from where they were Naruto and Kurotsuchi could make out buildings and houses scattered all across the valley. The valley was covered with tress, although there were some clear patches near the rivers, which were used for farming and growing corps. The valley seemed almost too beautiful to be real, making both Naruto and Kurotsuchi wonder if they were dreaming or under some kind of illusion. Staring down into the valley, another sudden gush of wind blew from behind them, blowing some of the cherry blossoms from a nearby tree off their branches and into the valley below, adding to the beauty to the scene, making it look like something out of a painting. (3)

Turning her eyes away from the valley below, a confused Kurotsuchi looked to Chen. "I don't understand, how did we get here? What sort of Jutsu did you use?" But before Chen could explain, Naruto answered for him.

"He used a Reverse Summoning Technique, Summons can use that technique to return home or call their respected contract holders to them when they need to talk to them. But I didn't know that they could bring along people who weren't contracted with them."

"Actually we can, so long as those we wish to bring along are standing close to us" answered Chen, turning to look at the boy. "I'm impressed; you know quite a bit about summoning, you wouldn't happen to possess a summoning contract as well?"

"Two" nodded Naruto, "The Slugs and the Toads."

"Two... Really? How Interesting" Chen remarked, scratching his chin, while looking at Naruto with a intrigue look in his eyes. He had never heard of anyone possessing two summoning contracts.

Kurotsuchi on the other had was not as surprised by the revelation as Chen was. She had heard the rumours of Naruto possessing two Summoning contracts after the invasion of Konoha. But she had brushed it off thinking them only stories created by Konoha to enhance the fame and reputation of their village hero.

Seeing that Naruto was feeling slightly uncomfortable with the way he was staring at him, Chen stopped and offered to lead them down into the valley.

Accepting the offer, Naruto then bended down and picked Kurotsuchi off the ground. When the older girl protested and that she could manage herself, Naruto remaindered her that the pain-killers he gave her would rob her of her strength and make her body feel numb.

When she tried to get up, as Naruto predicted, she fell right to her knees, leaving her with no other choice than to accept his help. Naruto then picked her up and followed after Chen, carrying Kurotsuchi piggyback style, much to the girl's mortification, who turned red from humiliation.

-With Asuma and Team Eight-

It had been three days since the ambush at the bridge and after another day of searching Asuma decided to camp for the night. Despite their best efforts, neither Asuma nor his team had found any trace of Naruto. They had tried to follow the river to where it ended in the hope of finding Naruto but that soon proved fruitless where after a few miles the river spilt and then again after several more miles. If that wasn't enough, the fact that Naruto fell into the river made it impossible for Kurimaru track Narutio's scent, making their search for him even harder.

During their search, Asuma and the others noticed some of Iwa Shinobi searching on different parts of the river. At first they thought that they were looking for Naruto like them. But it was only later that Shikamaru figured out that it wasn't just Naruto they were looking for after remembering seeing Kurotsuchi falling with Naruto.

Throughout the entire search Ino had been unusual silent and spent most of the first day taking care of Choji, who had been knocked out by Kurotsuchi and then injured during the explosion. Shinkamaru and Asuma naturally tried to talk to her and her get to talk to them, but blonde girl refused to tell them anything.

Once Choji had recovered on the morning of the second day, he and Ino joined the search. But like the first day it had proved fruitless and Asuma had to literally drag Ino back to the camp when she refused to stop searching, even when the sun had set.

The third day had not be any better, Ino hardly slept and barely ate a thing, and because of this her mood quickly soured, snapping or lashing at anyone over the smallest of things. One such incident was when Choji suggest that they take a break and have a bite to eat. Upon hearing the suggestion Ino turned on him and nearly bit his head off, saying that all he ever cared about was his stomach and that it was because he was so overweight that he hardly had any friends, before storming off.

Choji had of course been hurt by Ino's words, having considered Ino both his team-mate and friend. But Asuma assured him that Ino had not meant what she had said, and that the lack of food, rest and the frustration of not finding Naruto caused her to act like this.

As the team silently sat around the camp fire, eating some soup that Choji had made, Ino suddenly stood up and placed her bowel on the ground next to the fire. "I'm finished; I'll take the first watch."

"Ino wait!" Asuma ordered, stopping the girl from walking away. "You're not going anywhere; you've hardly eaten more than a few spoonfuls of your soup."

"I'm not hungry" replied Ino, hoping get away from her teacher quickly, but Asuma would have none of it.

Sighing, Asuma looked straight into Ino's eyes. "Ino you can't keep doing this to yourself, you've hardly eaten anything the past three days. I've also noticed that you're not sleeping either, which is obvious given your recent moods."

"This isn't only of your silly little diets that you go on." Shikamaru added, joining the conversation. "Have you looked at yourself in the mirror recently? You're not sleeping or eating, your hair is all over the place, you've bags under your eyes and you're snapping at us every chance you get."

"So what?" snapped Ino, "Your always saying that I should care more about by duties as a Kunoichi than my appearance, I'm just focused on finding Naruto!"

"This is different Ino and you know it" Shikamaru resorted sternly. "We all want to find Naruto, but what you're doing is stupid."

"Well at least I'm trying to find Naruto, unlike the rest of you!" Ino shouted as she pointed at her teacher and teammates. "While you are all sitting here eating. Naruto-kun could lying somewhere could, hurt or worse, but instead being out there searching for him you're all here, the only thing that any of you seem to care about is yourselves!"

"THAT'S ENOUGH INO!" yelled Asuma, cutting Ino off from her rant.

Shocked by the fact that her Asuma had yelled Ino stared at her teacher, who looked angrier than she had ever seen him look. Even Choji and Shikamaru were taken back by their teacher's sudden outburst, having never once seen their normally calm and easy going teacher look so angry, let alone yell at one of them.

Letting out a tired sigh, the son of the Sandaime Hokage placed his bowl of soup down on the ground next to him and took out a cigarette from his pack before lighting it. Taking a deep drag, Asuma blew out a puff of smoke and then look Ino straight into her eyes."

"Ino I know that you're worried about Naruto, but trust me, running yourself ragged like this helps nobody. Your body can't keep going like this, before long your will collapse from exhaustion and what help will you be to Naruto then?"

Nodding in agreement, Shikamaru turned to Ino. "Asuma-sensei is right Ino, you need to take care of yourselves better. I know that you like Naruto and have feelings for him. But this isn't the right way."

"This has nothing to do about my feelings for Naruto!" Ino retorted angrily as her emotions started to get the better of her and tears began to form around her eyes.

"Then what is it?" Choji asked.

"Forget it, none of you would understand!" snapped Ino as she turned and tried to walk away. But after only taking two steps she found herself unable to move. Looking back to the others she saw that Shikamaru had caught her in his Shadow bind technique.

"We won't if you don't tell us" replied Shikamaru with determined look on his face that Ino had ever seen him on him before.

At first the Yamanaka heiress refused to answer and remained silent, keeping her face out of sight. But before long the young girl finally broke and burst it into tears. "It's all my fault! I'm the reason why Naruto fell of the bridge, if it wasn't for me he wouldn't be missing."

"What do you mean?" asked Choji, failing to understand what Ino meant.

"Naruto tried to tell me, but I wouldn't listen to him...hic...He told me this would happen...hic...He told me that I would get someone hurt because I didn't take my duties seriously and was too weak...hic...I wanted to prove him wrong. I wanted to show him I was strong so I attacked that Iwa Kunoichi, thinking I could beat her...hic...but instead I tried I got Choji hurt and Naruto had to sacrifice himself to save me...hic...If I hadn't been so weak and useless, none this would've happened...hic..It's all my fault!"

When Ino finished, the only sound that could be heard in the camp was Ino's sobs as everyone else remained silent. Eventually Shikamaru cancelled his shadow bind technique and let Ino go.

"Ino" said Asuma gently, hoping the calm the young girl down. "I know that you feel responsible for what happened to Naruto. But it's not your fault, none of it, the Iwa Shinobi caught us completely offer guard at the bridge, Naruto did what he did to protect us. Blaming yourself like this won't change anything, nor will it help matters. The best way to help Naruto is to pace ourselves while we search, not running ourselves ragged, I promise we won't stop searching until we find him."

Unfortunately Ino was too stubborn to listen to reason and refused to listen to Asuma's advice. "No! I'm going to search for Naruto myself, and I'm not going to stop until I find him. I need to make this right!" But just as Ino was about to walk away, Asuma appeared behind her and hit her with a Karate chop to the back of the neck, knocking her out.

"Asuma-sensei!" cried Choji, shocked at what he had just seen his sensei do.

"There was no other way" said the reluctant Jonin as Ino fell into his arms.

Shikamaru just nodded in agreement. "He's right Choji, you know how stubborn Ino can be, once she gets something into her head, it's almost impossible to get her to change her mind. You heard her, she blames herself for what happened to Naruto and wouldn't listen Asuma-sensei when he tried to explain to her that it wasn't her fault. In the state she is in now, we would've had to restrain her to get her to stay. This way at least she can get some rest and then maybe later when she is a better frame of mind, we can get her to see reason."

Still not liking what his teacher did, but knowing that Shikamaru was probably right, Choji just nodded.

After Asuma had placed the unconscious Ino into her sleeping bag, Kurimaru, who had remained silent throughout the entire altercation, made his way over to the young girl. The pup understood Ino feelings, like her, he had eaten very little the past few days and was desperate to find his master/friend. Hoping to give the girl even a little comfort, the small half-wolf snuggled up next to her and fell asleep.

Asuma-sensei?" Choji suddenly said. "do you really think that Naruto is alive? I mean he fell really far down and there has been no trace of him at all for three days." It had been something that had been on his mind lately, but had been too afraid to ask with Ino around, knowing how she would react to such a question.

Turning to his student Asuma smiled and said, "If it was anyone else I would doubt it, but after surviving what he did in the invasion, I certain he's still alive. Especially when you consider the fact that he's just as stubborn as Tsunade-sama."

"Yea, as troublesome as Naruto is, a fall like that wouldn't be enough to stop him" Shikamaru added with a small smirk.

Nodding again in agreement Choji smiled as well then went back to his soup. Once he and the others had finished, he and Shikamaru settled into their sleeping bags to get some rest for the next day, while Asuma added some more wood to the fair and prepared to take the first watch of the night.

-With Naruto and Kurotsuchi-

It had been two days since they had arrived in the Valley of the Four Winds, and three since the ambush at the bridge. Naruto and Kurotsuchi's stay at the Valley had been interesting to say the least.

Just as Chen had predicted there was much excitement to be had when the inhabitants of the valley first saw the two of them accompanying Chen into the valley.

Upon first arriving into the valley, Chen immediately led them to the valley healer, who was located in the main village. As they made their way through the village the two teens noticed how all the other Pandas stop and stared at them and whisper to one another. Some of the young Panda cubs even ran up to them and poked Naruto in the leg before running back to their parents, giggling.

Given their reaction, it was obvious to the two teens that this was the first time that any of the inhabitants of the village had seen a pair of humans.

When they arrived at the healers, Naruto laid Kurrotsuchi down on a small bed and allowed the healer to check her over. The healer in question was a female Panda named Lin Silentflower. Lin was broadly build, like most of the Panda's, with long dark hair tied up in a large bun and bright yellow eyes. She wore simple wooden sandals on her feet and a bright pink kimono with green edgings and large dark green beads around her neck.

Unlike the other Pandas in the valley Lin did not show much surprise when she saw the two teens, nor did she stare at them for long. Instead she focused her duties and carefully examined both Naruto and Kurotsuchi injuries.

When she had finished she praised Naruto healing skills, after learning he had threatened both his and Kurotsuchi injuries, having only needing to rebadged a few wounds and add some her own special ointments to their bruises to quicken the healing process. She also concurred with Naruto's initial assessment on Kurotsuchi's status, stating that all she needed was some rest and would monitor for next twenty-four hours for any possible after-effects to the concussion.

Kurotsuchi of course tried to argue, claiming that she was fine, despite being unable to walk let alone stand, thanks to the pain-killers she was on. But Lin quickly dispensed with any resistance from the Iwa Kunoichi by using acupressure points to completely immobilize her. It was also at that time that Naruto and Kurotsuchi learned, to their surprise, that Chen was the head of the Panda tribe, after hearing Lin refer to Chen as "Chen-sama."

After leaving Kurotsuchi at the Lin's clinic, Chen gave back the Raijin to Naruto and then invited him to stay at his family home as their guest.

Naruto of course tried to politely decline, stating that he would be fine, but Chen insisted, saying that his family would be delighted to have him stay with them.

Chen's home was a small simple two story white stone house, with a flower garden to the right and a small vegetable garden on the left, with large oak tree behind it and a small swing.

Chen's family was indeed more than welcoming to him. Naruto found Chen's wife Shu to be exceedingly kind to him, offering him tea and showing around their home and even introducing him to their daughter Chun.

Chun was a small but very excitable child who seemed full of energy and life, reminding Naruto a lot of himself when he was younger. She wore a simple bright pink qipao-style blouse and pants, with flower patterns, along with a pair of brown sandals. She had bright yellow eyes, like all Panda's, and wore her hair in Chinese-style buns on either side of her head, and according to Chen was five.

When introduced to Naruto, the little Panda bombarded him with questions, like where he was from, what the outside world was like, why he was here and numerous other things. Naruto was of course more than accommodating to the young Panda cub and entertained her with stories of his adventures, and of the different places he had visited with his mother and Shizune. He even demonstrated his Mokuton powers to her by creating another oak tree right next to the one behind her house.

Later when dinner came Naruto learned that Pandas shared his love of Ramen, which was a favourite delicacy among the Pandas. Needless to say Naruto's liking of the Panda tribe grew exponentially.

After the first day, Naruto spent the next two days being shown around the valley by Chen and Chun, visiting various sites and places. During those two days, Naruto quickly learned that Pandas were a very complex and unusual race of summoning animals. They had a deep spiritual nature and preferred to live in peace and were very accepting and believed in helping others in need, which showed given how kind they had been to Naruto and Kurotsuchi. Yet despite their kind and benevolent nature they had a fierceness in them and were skilled fighters, Chun being a prime example of this.

During his tour of the Valley Naruto watched as different groups of Pandas practiced and trained in Taijutsu, Kenjustu and even Ninjutsu. He later learned that the Panda tribe also trained in other areas like Healing, Bojutsu, Acupressure and Fūinjutsu.

While touring the valley, Naruto also made it a point to visit Kurotsuchi ever few hours to check on her, who according to Lin was doing fine, despite being the most stubborn and awkward patient she ever had.

On the morning of the third day, Naruto was woken early by Chen, who told him that the head of the Jade Temple had requested him.

Getting dress quickly, Chen led Naruto to the other end of the valley, which had been one of the few places he had yet seen. The Jade Temple was considered a sacred place to all Pandas and was the oldest site in the entire valley. It had been built by the first settlers in the valley and according to Chen, was where his Great Grandfather learned to fully master his powers.

The Temple itself was built into the Cliffside of one of the mountains that surrounded the valley. It had a large red Gateway with two large stone Komainu statues flanking it, like Guard dogs. The temple itself was covered with tress, indicating once again the deep connection and love the Pandas had with nature. There were various buildings inside, which Naruto guessed were used not only to house the residents of the temple, but for training, mediation as well as to store and cook food and eat in.

Making their way into the Temple, Naruto saw more Pandas, who dressed in similar fashion to Chen, sparing off with one another or performing various different training exercises in some of the open training grounds. Others monks practiced their martial techniques or were in deep meditation.

As they made their way further into the temple grounds Naruto saw more Panda monks performing more advance techniques. A Panda monk on his left was sitting on a large stone plate in a meditative stance, all the while balancing atop the point of a large stone spike.

While another Panda monk on his right was performing various open palm strikes and kicks, causing a massive stone bell to ring with each strike he performed. This of course surprised and confused Naruto since the bell was twenty feet away from where he stood, and looked to weigh well over a ton.

At first Naruto thought the monk was using some kind of Wind Jutsu, but he didn't perform any hand seals, nor did it look like any kind of Wind Jutsu he had seen or heard of before. He then thought it was some kind of Chakra enhancement technique, like the one he and his mother use to enhance the power of their strength, but he did not sense any chakra from the blows. It was almost as if he creating small shockwaves from the force of his strikes, causing the massive stone bell to ring.

"How is he doing that?" Naruto asked Chen.

Turning to where Naruto was looking Chen smiled, immediately understanding Naruto's interest. "He's using Natural energy; by gathering the natural energy around him he can surround himself with that energy, like an aura if you will. He can then use that energy as an extension of his own body creating a brief blast of force with each palm strike and kick he performs, allowing him to strike an opponent from a distance, or in his case the bell. The point of that training is to find balance and master the amount of energy you use, use too little and the bell will not ring, use too much and you crack or destroy the bell. It is not an easy thing to do and takes years of training to prefect. In fact I used the very same technique in my fight against you and Kurotsuchi-san"

Flashing back to the fight, Naruto remembered how Chen had been able to hit him without even touching him or how he split Kurotsuchi's fire attack in half and blow them away with a single wave of his staff. It all made perfect sense now; it was also in this moment that Naruto suddenly realized something. "Wait! You're talking about Sage Chakra, aren't you?!" replied Naruto.

Surprised by Naruto's knowledge of this, Chen looked at him, with both eyebrows raised. "Yes, that is another name for it; are you a student of the Sage arts?"

"Not exactly, I saw my Godfather Jiraiya, who is also one of my teachers, use it in a fight. He later told me a bit about it and how by combining natural energy, with spiritual energy and physical energy, which makes up Chakra, a person can become a Sage. He also told me that it takes years of intense training to even hope to use it."

"That is correct, mastering natural energy is a difficult feat for anyone, few are able to successfully combine spiritual energy and physical energy with natural energy and find a balance that will allow them to combine and achieve the level of Sage. We of the Panda tribe can use natural energy more easily than most due to our strong connection to Nature, and it has given us a distinct advantage in battle against are enemies. Your teacher must be a Great and Powerful Shinobi to be able to use the Sage mode. Few people because Sages."

Smiling, Naruto nodded. "Yea, he can be bit of an idiot at times, but he's a pretty awesome Shinobi and teacher. Just don't tell him that I said that, he already has a big enough ego as it is."

Nodding Chen then asked, "Tell me, which whom did your teacher learn the Sage arts from?"

"Toads" Naruto replied, confirming what Chen had already guessed. The Toads were one of the few animals summons who could use the Sage arts and given how Naruto held a contract with them, it made sense that his teacher would have learned the art from them.

"You might know this already, but your ancestor Hashirama was a Sage as well."

"Wait Hashirama-jiji was a Sage too?" Naruto asked with a clear look of surprise on his face, having never heard that from his mother or the others.

"Yes" replied Chen. "He learned the art while studying here, although he did not master it until many years later, after he left."

"So if Hashirama-jiji learned the Sage art here and you said that your tribe can use natural energy, does that mean you are all Sages?" Naruto asked curiously.

"No" replied Chen. "Although we are able to use and control natural energy more easily than most races. Our skill and use of it is limited and we dare not use it for long periods. If we did the natural energy would overcome senses and we can become savage bloodthirsty beasts that will turn on anyone, whether they be ally or foe. Only a select few of my kind, like the Temple Head, have ever been able to fully master natural energy and become true Sages like your ancestor and teacher."

Surprised and horrified by the idea of a race as kind and as peaceful as Chen's could turn into savage bloodthirsty beasts from using natural energy, Naruto just nodded and spoke no more of the matter.

Moving on Naruto then saw another Panda monk performing an unusual hand movement, causing the palm of his hand to glow. He then extended it forward, towards a dying flower bush.

To Naruto's surprise he saw energy flow out of his palm into the bush, causing it to glow briefly before coming back life with all its flowers blooming.

Surprised by this, Naruto at first thought it was a Mokuton technique, but quickly realised that it wasn't.

Turning, Naruto was about to ask Chen what the monk had done, but saw that the panda in question had moved out without him. Racing after him, Naruto caught up to Chen, when he stopped at two large brass doors with etchings of two large Panda monks on them. Standing on either side of the doors were two armed Panda guards.

The Guards in question were much bigger and burlier than most of the other Pandas Naruto had met or seen before, standing at least five foot six. They were dressed in armour and both held large spears in their hands and a Katana attached to their hip.(5)

Not having to wait long, the Guards soon pushed the brass doors open, allowing Naruto and Chen to enter. The Temple Head's chamber was quite large, and could easily fit up to a hundred people. It had many wooden pillars with elaborate brass bases that supported the roof and wooden floor. The Temple Head sat on a large cushion on an ornate covered platform, with a painting of the Valley behind him.

The Temple Head was of average size for a Panda and wore red qipao-style robes with brown straps and a long white beard that reached down just below his waist. He wore a pair of metal silver-like gantlets on his arms along with a silver waistband and a brown rope belt around his waist, tied in a bow. But the thing that caught Naruto's attention the most was how the Temple Head yellow eyes seemed to glow.

"Greetings Senju Naruto, my name Zian Lotuspaw and I welcome you to the Jade Temple" greeted the Temple Head as he waved the two forward and indicated to the two large cushions in front of the platform.

"Hey!" replied Naruto with a wave, causing both Chen and Zian to chuckle at the rather simple way Naruto greeted him.

"I am honoured to meet the descendant of Hashirama, he was my friend, and I am yours."

"You knew my Great Grandfather?" Naruto said in surprise, not expecting Zian to be that old.

"Indeed, he and I trained at the Temple together when we were young, in fact I was the one who found him and brought here. Not unlike how you and your friend were found by Chen. When he left, I continued my training at the Temple and later became the new Head."

Looking down at Naruto, the old Panda Sage smiled. "You remind me of him...your Great Grandfather."

"I do?" asked Naruto in surprise, whenever people commented on his looks, they often compared him to his father, never the Shodai.

"Not in appearances, but you have the same look in your eyes as he had, honest eyes filled with determination and strength. You also have the same aura around you as he had; I sensed it clearly before you came in, strong and powerful, yet calming and gentle at the same time, like nature itself."

Before Naruto could respond Zian's comparison, the old Panda monk continued. "It has been many years since I have seen the valley so full of excitement. Then again you and your friend are the first humans to come to the valley since Hashirama in almost a hundred years now."

After a few minutes of silence, where Zian just at Naruto, the old Panda spoke again. "I am told that you are quite skilled as a healer, like Hashirama was."

"Eh Yea" nodded Naruto, "My mom taught me, although I'm nowhere near as good as she or Hashirama-jiji was."

"Heh, The smallest of acorns may not seem much in the beginning. But eventually it can grow into the mightiest of oaks, all it needs is time, like you,"assured the old Panda, making Naruto smile.

"I had heard that Hashirama had a granddaughter before his passing. But still, I had no idea she was a talented healer as well."

"She's best in the world" Naruto declared, clearly proud of his mother.

"I see" replied Zian with a smile, while at the same time thinking. "It seems your talent for healing is hereditary my old friend, if your Granddaughter and Great Grandson are any indication."

"I've also heard that you've inherited Hashirama Mokuton powers, would you mind showing me?"

Figuring that there was no harm in showing, Naruto nodded and formed three hand seals before creating a wood clone of himself, which emerged from his body. After which the clone opened up its hand to show a small single flower growing from his hands.

Satisfied with this, Zian nodded his thanks, after which Naruto reabsorbed the clone back into his body.

"You've indeed inherited Hashirama's Mokuton, in fact your powers may be more advance than his, you may indeed be the one whom we've been waiting so long for."

"You're talking about the prophecy, right?" asked Naruto, causing both Chun and Zian to look at him in surprise.

"You know about the prophecy? How?" Chen asked in surprise.

"Hashirama-jiji told me" explained the blonde boy, causing the two Pandas to look at him in confusion.

"Would mind elaborating young one?" Zian asked politely.

Nodding, Naruto then spent the next twenty minutes telling them of his near death experience and how he had meant with his deceased family members and talked to them. When he finished, neither Chen nor Zian said spoke and just continued to stare at him.

At first Naruto thought that they must think he was crazy or that he dreamed it all. But before he could say anything, Zian spoke.

"It would seem that you've had many interesting adventures in your young life Naruto-san. I can honestly say I have never met anyone who was able to speak to the deceased like you and come back."

"So you believe me?" Naruto asked, surprised by how quickly Zian was willing to believe him. When he first told his mother and the others of what happened, they at first thought he had dreamt it all. It was only after he told them things that only his Great Parents and the others could've know about did they finally believe him.

"As I told you before Naruto-san, you have the same look in your eyes as you Great Grandfather had, honest eyes. What you told us would also explain how you knew about our valley and the prophecy, as I know Hashirama would not simply write about us in a letter for anyone to read,"explainedthe Temple Head, before making his way down from his platform to Naruto and Chen.

Standing in front of Naruto, Zian placed his index finger on Naruto's forehead and closed his eyes.

Wondering what the old Panda monk was doing, Naruto glanced over at Chen, who simply signalled Naruto to wait. Moments later Zian opened his eyes again and smiled down at Naruto, "You are the one."

Before Naruto could even ask how he knew or what that meant, Zian walkedd around him and signalled for Chen and Naruto to follow him out the chamber.

Making their way through the open grounds of the Temple, Zian led Naruto and Chen to the back of the Temple where an old wall with various writing and images craved on it stood.

"What is this?" asked Naruto as he looked at the cravings on the wall.

"This is the wall of prophecy" Zian answered as he stood at the end of the old wall. "It was written long ago by one of our great Sages, who possessed the ability to see into the future. Over the years he worth many different prophecies on this wall, some have happened, others have yet to happen. The prophecy that we believe involves you, was one of the very first he wrote."

"What does it say?" Naruto asked, given how he could not read the writing on the wall.

"It says... "In the age of the five, old powers shall rise and clash with the new. The Saṃsara shall return and threatened to engulf the world in darkness. But hope remains with Avalokiteśvara, who will battle Saṃsara to bring harmony to the world."" (7)

"I don't get it, what does it mean? It doesn't mention me at all?" said Naruto.

"Not specifically, but it does indirectly, we believe that the age of five refers to now, the age of the five great nations and Shinobi villages, who are the major powers on this continent. We also believe that you are Avalokiteśvara and will play a key part in a great battle to come that will decide the fate of this world."

"But how do you know I am this Avaloket guy or whatever he's called, why not Hashirama-jiji?"

"Because of the second part of the prophecy" Zian pointed to the carvings on the wall. ""On the promise time, Avalokiteśvara shall come to the Valley of the Four Winds for aid. He will come from those with a Thousand Skills, Born in Fire, Loved by Nature, Touched by Heaven and Cursed by the Fox"...You are a member of the of the Senju Clan, known as the Clan with a thousand skills, your Clan's very name means a thousand hands, which is also in reference to Avalokiteśvara, a deity with a thousand hands. You were born in the Land of Fire, loved by nature clearly refers to your Mokuton powers, which are more advance than even Hashirama. But what makes us certain that it is you are the last parts of the prohecy, in the beginning we thought touch by Heaven referred to having a divine power or ability. But now I believe it was in reference to your appearance, bright blue eyes like the sky and bright blonde hair that shines like the sun. Cursed by the Fox, well I believe that is obvious enough... jinchūriki of the Kyūbi no Yōko (Nine-Tailed Demon Fox)."

At the mention of him being the jinchūriki for the Kyuubi, Naruto froze and stared at Zian in shock, "How do you know that?!"

"Natural energy gives a Sage many powers, one of those powers isthe ability to sensechakra around them much like sensor types. Your Mokuton Bloodline limit hides the Kyuubi's Chakra well and reduces it influence. But when I touched you earlier I was able to sense the Kyuubi's Chakra, which confirmed that you were the one the prophecy spoke of and bring harmony to our world."

"But who or what is this Saṃsara person that will bring darkness to the world, and this battle you're talking about, what does it mean by old powers rising to clash with the new?"

"That we do not know, prophecies are tricky that way and are often up to interpretation. The only thing we do know is that Saṃsara is the different cycles of reincarnation, which could mean almost anything."

"That's convenient" muttered Naruto in annoyance. "How can we even trust this prophecy? I don't believe that the future is predetermined. I believe we make our own fate," at which point Naruto remembered is conversation about fate with Neji during the Chunin finals.

"And you would be correct" replied Zian. "The future is like water dripping down a mountain, always flowing and changing, never staying on a fix path. It is true that some things are certain to happen, and people with the gift of foresight can glimpse into what "may" happen...but no-one can known precisely what will happen in the future. That is why prophecies are always left open; as you said earlier, we make our own fate by the choices we make."

"But what if I fail, what if I do something wrong, and the whole world ends because of a wrong choice I made?" said Naruto as he started to feel the pressure of everything.

"That is why we have faith Naruto-san" said Zian as he placed his paw on Naruto's left shoulder. "Prophecies are simply guides to help us make the right choice and you won't be alone when you do. We of the Panda tribe will help you in every possible way we can."

"Indeed" agreed Chen, who then placed his own paw on Naruto's right should and smiled at the boy.

Feeling more assured, Naruto smiled back at the two and nodded.

"Now that the more serious aspects of our talk are done, I believe it's time for lunch" Zian said suddenly, "Come, we're having Ramen today, so we should hurry before the dining hall gets too crowded."

At the mention of Ramen for lunch, Naruto cheered and took off like a shot for the Temple dining hall, ready to take on anything that the future had in store.

N/A.

Shimizu Temple, also known asKiyomizu-dera, is a famous temple in Japan located in eastern Kyoto. It is well known for its image of Senju Kannon, which of course is in reference to the Senju Clan.

For an image of Chen, go to my profile page and to the Hope of the Senju Clan section, the link will be number 28.

For an image of the Valley of the Four Winds, go to my profile page and to the Hope of the Senju Clan section, the link will be number 29.

For an image of the Jade Temple, go to my profile page and to the Hope of the Senju Clan section, the link will be number 30.

For an image of the one of the Panda Guards, go to my profile page and to the Hope of the Senju Clan section, the link will be number 31.

For an image of the Zian Lotuspaw, go to my profile page and to the Hope of the Senju Clan section, the link will be number 32.

Avalokiteśvara is a Buddhist deity who embodies compassion in all Buddhas. According Buddist lore, Avalokiteśvara vows never to rest until he has freed all sentient beings from the suffering of Samsara, which is why he has a thousand Hands. As for Samsara, well other that what was told in the Chapter, any true Naruto fan would know what the prophecy is really referring to in the story. If you don't known, then google Samsara and Naruto together and you will see what it is referring to.

Poll votes:

Dragons: 1,256

Bears: 1,258

Wolves: 947

Eagles: 657

Mongoose: 184

Badger: 11

Squirrel: 6

Others: 1

Total Votes: 4,320

Winner: Bears

Yes, the winners are the Bears, and as you can see it was a very close race between Bears and Dragons, with Bears only winning by a narrow margin of two votes. Now before you all ask; if the bears won, why is Naruto's new summons to be Pandas. Well skipping the obvious fact that Pandas are a species of Bear, Pandas fit better with the Aisa theme of the Naruto world. Plus they work better than regulars Bears do for what I have planned in the story. Now this of course does not mean that a regular Bears summons won't make an appearance in this story, because they will.

Also for those of you who think that Pandas aren't all fierce, trust me when I say, despite their cuddly appearance and reputation. They are not creatures you want to cross the wrong way. For example although normally docile, Pandas have been known to attack humans, presumably out of irritation or when they feel threatened.

Author's Note:

Well that's it for another instalment of Hope of the Senju Clan, I hope you all enjoyed it and sorry for the long wait. But as you can see given the long length of the chapter and with other things like family and work, these things take time to write up.

Now as you can guess the next Chapter will finish off the search for the Valley of the Four Winds Arc. There will of course be more interaction between Naruto and Kurotsuchi and of course Naruto will officially sign his contract with his new future summons. You will also see how Konoha spy problem is dealt with and of course there will be some blowback over how Iwa even learned of Naruto leaving the village in the first place.

Now please as always, read and review, I enjoy reading people's opinion of each chapter and on the story in general. I will do my best to reply to all your reviews, as I believe an author should respond to his readers. But please note that I cannot respond to anonymous reviews and if you wish for me to respond to your questions you must become a member of Fanfiction.

Suggestions are welcomed and will be given serious thought.

NOW AS TO MY GRAMMER AND SPELLING MISTAKES. I AM WELL AWARE THAT BOTH ARE FAR FROM PERFECT AND THAT IT MAY BE A PROBLEM FROM SOME READERS. BUT THEY CANNOT BE AVOIDED, I HAVE NO OFFICAL BETA TO HELP ME, AND I AM DOING MY BEST TO MAKE AS FEW MISTAKES AS POSSIBLE.

Now as for flames, they are as always not welcomed on this story, or on any of my other stories. If you don't like the story that's your opinion, and it is fine, I do not force anyone to read my stories. But I do not like reading people trash talking my stories, and acting like they are experts on writing, especially from people who have never written a story themselves. If I receive any flames, the review will be either deleted or the flamers will be flamed back by me, I am not afraid to stand up for my stories and defend my actions.

Again, I hope everyone enjoyed the Chapter, and please look out for my other stories, The Raikage, Rise of The Raikage, Rogue Shinigami, Brother's Bond, White Fire Prince and The Alchemist's Apprentice.

Again Happy New Year to all my Fans!

Extra info:

Konkurito Clan: The Konkurito are one of the most prominent Clans in all of Iwa, and wield the Yōton (Lava Release) Bloodline limit. The Clan is particularly well known for their unique style of the Bloodline limit, which allows them to create a corrosive-like substance. One of the Clans most prominent members is Kurotsuchi who is not only a skilled user in the Bloodline limit, but also the Granddaughter of the Sandaime Tsuchikage

Yōton: Fushoku-sei no Sutairu (Lava Release: Corrosive Style): This style is a unique style of the Yōton Bloodline limit which is known only to members of the Konkurito Clan. This style can be used in two forms, the first being where the users spits it out as a cement-like substance from their mouths, which can quickly harden and trap a target. The second in a fine powder which can blind and even burn a person's skin, also when mixed with Water the powder heats up and can explode.

Panda Summons:

The Pandas are a very secretive animal summons. They have limited contact with humans and other animal summonses and normally keep to themselves. They reside in the Valley of the Four Winds, a large hidden Valley that is difficult to find without a guide or directions. The Pandas are well verse in fighting arts, like Kenjutsu, Ninjutsu, Taijutsu, Bojutsu and other areas like Acupressure, Healing and Fuinjutsu. They're also very knowledgeable in the Sage arts, due to their strong connection to nature and natural ability to harness natural energy. Certain members of the Panda tribe have even been known to possess the ability to see into the future, much like the Great Toad Sage.

The Panda tribe are generally a very kind and gentle summons who will help those in need, and have a great respect for life, preferring to live in peace with others than fight. But despite their peaceful nature, when roused they're fierce fighters, especially when they use natural energy to increase their fighting power, making formable opponents. This of course has its drawbacks as if the Pandas use natural energy for extended periods they will lose their senses and turn into bloodthirsty beasts that will attack anyone on sight. Only certain members of the Panda tribe, who have reached the level Sage, have been able to successfully use natural energy for long periods without losing to their minds.

The Last known human to every visit the Valley of the Four Winds, before Naruto and Kurotsuchi, was Naruto's Great Grandfather Senju Hashirama. Who happened upon the valley by accident when on a training journey to improve his Mokuton powers and skills. During his time there, Hashirama learned much from the Panda tribe, including the Sage arts, (which he mastered later in his life), and the Prophecy of Avalokiteśvara. Before leaving the Valley, Hashirama made a vow to never reveal the Panda tribes secrets and to keep their location hidden. He however wrote down directions and clues that would lead to the Valley of the Four Winds should any future descendants of his need the Panda tribes help.

The Panda tribe also seemly have some kind of relationship with the Toads, although how close they are to one another is unknown. The only thing that is known is that the Toads will not speak of them to others, (including their contract holder Jiraiya), without the permission of the Pandas.