I don't own Naruto. (Note: I had the end of this chapter planned before we found out about the Uzumaki-Senju connection (with solid evidence, not just conjecture), whether you believe me or not is up to you).

A Thousand Lifetimes

Chapter 4

And as you pray in your darkness

For wings to set you free

You are bound to your silent legacy – Melissa Etheridge

Three weeks passed since Naruto and Sasuke's big argument and fight. It has been three long, awkward weeks for the monk and priestess of Amaterasu temple. Out of respect to Naruto and Sasuke's privacy, neither attempted to mend what was left of the friendship/relationship the two boys had left. However, Rinji and Maiya both thought it would be a good idea to keep Sasuke and Naruto apart during the day and hope to the gods that they would not kill each other in the middle of the night.

Sasuke, thus, always went out with Rinji (for safety purposes) during daily excursions to find food. So, Naruto stayed at the temple and assisted Maiya with fixing up the temple and other chores. Naruto did not realize how much work Maiya accomplishes during the day while Rinji is away. She attempts to fix holes and things that are falling off the temple. She cleans, she does the laundry, she collects the water for cleaning and baths, she cleans the yard around the temple of weeds and tends to the small garden that they have. And after all, that she still has time to read over old scrolls and rewrite them (for copies, just in case).

Naruto was thankful now to the genin work he did when he was younger, so he was able to help Maiya do much of the work. Naruto, even, managed to fix all the holes in the roof.

Today, however, as Naruto helped lug water into the house for tonight's dinner and baths, Maiya was deep in thought. She almost always was and Naruto figured that Maiya (and probably Hinako and Hisano) is where his father Minato inherited some of his genius from. After that chore was finished, the chores were over for the day. With Naruto and Maiya both working, it took half the time it normally takes Maiya to do all the chores.

"Hey, Naruto-san, I want to show you something," said Maiya. He followed her to her room. Not much was different from Sasuke and his room; it was plain like a priestess should have it. To his surprise, she lifted open a secret door from the floor, which had stairs going down. Naruto had no idea temples could have basements. "This is the temple's library, as Rinji calls it. It has seals specially created to protect and house books for an extremely long time. Fire, even, can't get in. Head Priestess Hinako and her priestesses designed it. Rinji thought since you were interested in the older priestesses and monks I should show you it."

"Wow, thanks," said Naruto, stunned, as he followed Maiya down the flight of stairs. The library was the same size as a normal room in the temple, but it had shelves of books and papers everywhere. There was a small desk with some scrolls open on it. Naruto quickly spotted some seals that are used to create Jinchuuriki. He pretended not to notice. Maiya and Rinji really were trying to figure out a way to seal Juubi in Rinji. Maiya began searching for something, while Naruto studied more of the scrolls in the library.

Some of the works he knew were one of a kind, which was why Maiya was bothering to make hand copies. Naruto saw some unusual items that he did not think belonged in a library. There was a backpack with a seal on it that Naruto knew was used for storing things. There was a small, circular mirror that gave Naruto the chills. Another item was a large fan, similar to his friend Temari's fan, which had the kanji for 'elements' on it. There were medium sized bells each stood for five elements (fire, water, wind, earth, and lightning). A porcelain tea set, hand-crafted and painted animal dolls, a plain looking jewelry box, and two large scrolls that didn't fit in with the other smaller scrolls were other items Naruto did not suspect. One scroll made Naruto's heart ache for it was the summoning contract with the toads, the other was for wolves.

What made Naruto smile was Maiya's name was on the toad's summoning contract and Rinji's name was on the wolves' summoning contract.

"Here, Head Priestess Hinako's scroll. You see every priestess and monk kept a journal so to speak of their time at the temple and maybe of their life before or after it. It was a rule. Rinji and I both keep journals as well. It is a good practice so we can impart knowledge onto the next generations," said Maiya. She handed Naruto a scroll. Naruto sat down and opened the scroll. The header read 'Head Priestess Namikaze Hinako of the Amaterasu Temple'.

Naruto smiled and continued to read his ancestor's scroll.

'Now that I am old enough and I learned enough to write, I was told to write my story, my life down in a scroll for future generations. While I am not yet Head Priestess, I will be someday soon. As it says on the top, my name is Namikaze Hinako, the great-granddaughter of Namikaze Hisano, founder of the Amaterasu and Kwannon temples. I am twelve and a half years old.

I suppose I should start with my birth. I was born to the Head Priestess of Amaterasu temple, Namikaze woman, the granddaughter of Namikaze Hisano, her name was Hachiyo, and I know barely anything of my father. I know, though, that he was not a monk, but a traveler that my mother fell in love with…either he died or left.

My mother Hachiyo's mother was still alive while I was young (Namikaze have extremely long lives, except when we do something stupid). My grandmother Haimi is the daughter of Hisano, my grandfather also was a traveler like my father and either died or left. I'm certain that Namikaze women (as there have never been any men yet) have bad luck concerning love—either the Namikaze can't be with the person they love or that person leaves or dies.

As it were I was raised by all the priestesses. I don't eat meat. I will never get married. I meditate three hours a day and I practice fighting skills. I do chores like all the other priestesses in training. We cook, clean, do laundry, and the like. We also attend lessons to learn how to read and write for it is demanded of both monks and priestesses to be able to do so.'

Naruto was grinning ear-to-ear. He had names of family—Hisano, Haimi, Hachiyo, Hinako and Maiya plus his parents' names. So far women out number men in the Namikaze family, which Naruto found quite the oddity, but figured it was not so bad. He skimmed down as she obviously hated chores and ranted about it as such.

At fifteen, she became the Head Priestess when her mother and grandmother both died of a terrible illness. Hinako did not write much until she was sixteen, where she seemed a bit better as she began writing about her good friends.

'My best friend was Kohaku. She is the most organized person ever. She's assigned herself the role of my assistant, because she claims that I would be late for everything, which is partially true. Kohaku made my life easier, even though I tell her she shouldn't bother. She's such a good person.

Kiyo is another of my friends. She's an excellent herbalist and chef. Her food is simply the best and she enjoys cooking so I put her in charge of the kitchens (all the four temples eat together). Kimi is possibly one of the smartest girls I ever met. By five she was reading and writing much better than anyone else. Kohaku, Kiyo and Kimi stay with me at the Amaterasu temple and like me were born to Amaterasu priestesses. But I have good friends over at the Kwannon temple, whom I see everyday.

Otohime is simply the fastest person around, so she's the temples' messenger and she is the prettiest out of all the girls. She's really sweet, she always willing to sneak out to town with me when we get bored. She was born to a Kwannon priestess. Then, there is Haruno Sakuya (she gave herself her last name, said it went with her first name). She was an orphan with unusual pink hair and green eyes, who stumbled across the temples at age four. Like Kimi, Sakuya is smart and a very fast learner. Naturally Kimi and Sakuya are good-natured rivals.

Last but not least, there is Hyuuga Chuujo (Sakuya gave Chuujo that last name). She was another strange orphan that appeared at age five (a year after Sakuya). Chuujo is blind, but oddly enough the gods gave her a gift of sight in a different way. She can see through things as well as she calls it 'the weird dot system in humans.' She can't turn it off, but with the help of Sakuya and Kimi, Chuujo has put her ability to good use. My six friends and I realized that we can control life energy or chakra.'

Naruto made mental notes to tell Sakura, Neji, and Hinata that their ancestors and his were friends. Neji and Hinata surely would like to know how their bloodline started. Maybe he could look around at Chuujo and Sakuya's scrolls too just for the three of them. Naruto read on as the priestesses worked endlessly to use chakra, there were diagrams written by Hinako that Naruto could barely understand. But they had help from their monk counterparts in the Tsukiyomi and Koushin temples.

'Most of the monks were nice. From the Koushin Temple, there was Raiko, Aburmane Genno, and Ruiten. Raiko was Kiyo's best friend. They spent hours arguing over the finer points of whatever plant they found that day. Aburmane Genno was really quiet, but very nice. He, strangely enough, loved bugs and studied them endlessly. I figure when the lot of us figures out chakra to the full extent Genno will figure out a way to use bugs like they were his familiars.

Ruiten, the poor man, was the Head Monk's assistant like Kohaku was to me. From the Tsukiyomi Temple, there were Mosaku, Shiro and Inuzuka Takeru. Mosaku was also an herbalist, but also excelled at brewing alcohol to sell to the Eddy Village that lay through the forest. Shiro was the best medic around and he let you know that too. He could get annoying with his bragging, but he generally was a good guy. Inuzuka Takeru was Genno's best friend, but unlike Genno, Takeru was devoted to wolves and dogs.

Last but certainly least was Head Monk Hazoku, the sixteen year old in charge of Tsukiyomi and Koushin Temples.'

Naruto had to re-read that line over again just to make sure he read it right the first time. Hinako does not seem to like Hazoku. He shook his head, with a smile, and he had to remember to take a look at Aburmane Genno and Inuzuka Takeru's scrolls as well. So, Naruto continued to read.

'Hazoku is insufferable. He's such a jerk sometimes I swear. There is no reason to tease me, what are we four? He's been like this ever since, well ever. He thinks he is the gods' gift to the world. Monks are supposed to be humble. He's nice to everyone except me (and he is bossy towards Ruiten and the other monks). Seriously, that guy, if he had it his way, the monks would be the ones to get credit for the use of chakra, like I'm going to let that happen over my dead body.

Yes, we argue a lot, if you hadn't guessed it by now.'

Naruto burst out laughing. He could just see it now, sixteen year old Head Priestess Hinako ranting and raving about Hazoku to Kohaku, who probably heard the same thing hundreds of times before. Hinako did not hate Hazoku, she liked him. Naruto just laughed. Maiya thought he had gone crazy.

"What's so funny," asked Maiya.

"Hinako and Hazoku so like each other," said Naruto, laughing. Jiraiya would so use this for an Icha Icha Paradise book. The thought subdued Naruto's laughter. Maiya smiled.

"Oh, I noticed that too," said Maiya. She grabbed another scroll and opened it. "They were sixteen, right? Here's what Hazoku said about Hinako." Naruto took a look at Hazoku's scroll.

'Hinako is so beautiful when she's angry at me. My three year plan is working, she's going to fall in love with me soon enough or kill me, either way she's so thinking about me right now. I, Head Monk Hazoku, am a genius.'

Naruto rolled his eyes. Naruto knew that if Hinako found out about Hazoku's three year plan, she definitely kill the Head Monk. He went back to Hinako's scroll. Sure enough, Hazoku's three year plan does work and she does find out about it, but she's not that angry about it. While Hinako and Hazoku aren't allowed to get married, they were still technically together. Soon enough, Hinako was pregnant. Naruto was glad that there were happy times at the temples. Hinako, at age twenty, gave birth to a baby girl Namikaze Maemi (who Naruto added to his list of relatives). The priestesses and monks used chakra regularly like a ninja would. The herbalists and medics used jutsu similar to Tsunade and Sakura's healing. Genno and Takeru bonded closely with their creature of choice. Kimi, Sakuya, Kohaku, Ruiten, Hinako, Hazoku, Chuujo and Otohime practiced daily chakra exercises.

Naruto sighed as he read the next part.

'A dark demon has arrived on our world. We do not know where it came from or why is it here, but it's been killing people. As Head Priestess Hisano once did, I must face the evil that threatens the world. Sakuya, Kimi and I have been working on something as soon as we sensed the evil being arrive, whom we call Juubi. It's dangerous but must be done.'

He knew exactly what she was talking about—she was going to try to seal the demon inside herself. Naruto really did not want to read the next part but he willed himself on.

'I am quite ill, I'm afraid. I had a miscarriage, it was terrible and I wish not to describe it. Hazoku, my beloved, is constantly by my side, taking care of me. Juubi is headed straight towards us and I worry about the safety of my friends, my love and my precious child Maemi. I know they all say that they will help me, but I'm afraid I must do this one my own to protect them.

This possibly may be the last time I write, so I would like to give a message to my daughter and our descendants.

Work hard and you will achieve great things. Try not to get into too much trouble. When you love someone, love them without judgment. Believe in the goodness of people.'

It was the end of the scroll. Naruto re-read the message to him. She was right and Naruto will remember those words. Naruto sighed.

"So what exactly happened to Hinako," asked Naruto.

"Well, after her death, none of the twelve monks and priestesses wrote much about it. Hazoku stopped writing all together except about Hinako 'She left' and about Maemi 'They took her away from me.' From what I gather, Hinako snuck out in the night and fought Juubi. She attempted to seal it inside of her, but apparently the seals were not right for it and she dies. But there was something else I found disturbing. While Kimi and Sakuya worked on seals with Hinako, Hinako confided more in Hazoku. I believe since she couldn't seal Juubi inside of her, but," said Maiya.

"Hinako was related to Hisano, who had a deal with the Shinigami, so let me take a guess, Hinako's soul is sealed inside Juubi," said Naruto, sardonically.

"Right," said Maiya, sighing. Naruto was silent for a moment. What did Maiya say Hazoku write about Maemi?

"Maemi was Hinako and Hazoku's daughter, so after Hinako's death, she should have been raised by Hazoku," said Naruto. Maiya shook her head.

"Like Hinako said, they did not marry as per the rules. Maemi stayed at the Amaterasu Temple with Hinako. As it were, Hinako's death hit Hazoku hard and the only thing he lived for was Maemi, but she was not allowed to stay in Tsukiyomi and Koushin with her father," said Maiya. "Well, I can't really explain it well, so…" She rummaged through some other scrolls. "Ruiten explained it the best."

Naruto opened Ruiten's scroll, Hazoku's assistant and monk of Tsukiyomi.

'Those old crones at the Kwannon Temple have some nerve taking Maemi-chan away from Hazoku. Seriously hasn't the loss of Hinako, the love of his life, been hard enough on him, now the older priestesses say that Hazoku has no right to raise Maemi, he is the girl's father. Well, I suppose I should explain more clearly or you can read Shikiou-sama and Hisano-sama's scrolls for the temple set up.

Hinako was Head Priestess. She chose three priestesses from Amaterasu and three priestesses from Kwannon to be her support and council. Similarly, Hazoku being Head Monk chose three monks from Tsukiyomi and three monks from Koushin to be his support and council. In the event of a premature death of either Head Priestess or Head Monk, the elder priestesses or monks took over the temples until the appropriate youngling was raised to be the new Head. Since Hinako and Hazoku did not get married and their child was a girl, the priestesses are supposed to raise her.

Now you know why Hinako's father left, and so on. I believe that Hisano-sama and Shikiou-sama did not mean for parents to be separate from their children, but for just in case. I and the others have been arguing on Hazoku's belief to get Maemi to be in his custody. I'm sure Hinako would want Maemi to be raised by Hazoku.'

"Harsh," said Naruto. "Well, I have some things to think about. Tell me when you want help with dinner." Naruto exited the underground library with his thoughts crazy.

Meanwhile, Rinji and Sasuke were meditating in a clearing of the woods. Sasuke was terribly bored with Rinji, but he understood that it was for the best that he was away from that idiot while Sasuke was still angry with him. Rinji did not speak much to Sasuke about what happened three weeks ago, but he knew that Rinji really wanted to. Rinji and Maiya were being way too nice to him and Naruto. If Sasuke were them, he would have kicked himself and Naruto out a long time ago.

"Do you want to go get some fish," asked Rinji.

"Naruto fishes better than me," said Sasuke, blankly.

"Hmm," said Rinji. "I think you should talk to Naruto-san again." Sasuke glared at Rinji.

"Why should I do that," he snapped.

"Because he really cares about you," said Rinji. Sasuke snorted. "Listen, I know you really don't want to hear this, but isn't Naruto-san more important than your revenge for people who wouldn't want you to destroy your life?"

"Shut up, you know nothing," said Sasuke. "Why doesn't everyone act like they are so much better than me? I know revenge is bad for me, I know it! Isn't it my choice what to do with my life? As for Naruto, he means nothing to me!"

"It is your choice what to do with your life, Sasuke-san, but isn't your choice a bit selfish?"

"Selfish, hardly. My revenge is perfectly justified and my family would want me to," he snapped.

"You'll regret it someday," said Rinji. "Revenge is not good for the soul. Do you know that your fate is connected to the choices you make? Don't you deserve to be happy; continuing on the path of revenge isn't really for you. I know deep, deep, down you are really a good person." Sasuke did not say anything. He knew full well what Rinji said was reasonable. "At least talk to Naruto again."

Back at the temple, Naruto was resting in his room. Sasuke and Rinji should be back soon with some nuts and berries. Sasuke hated fishing, so Naruto has been living off of noodles, nuts and berries. He felt like a rabbit. Maiya entered the room.

"Naruto-san, when are you going to start talking to Sasuke-san again," asked Maiya.

"I don't know, he's still angry with me," replied Naruto.

"It's awkward for me and Rinji, so can you make up with him," asked Maiya.

"I'll do my best," said Naruto. Sasuke was stubborn when he was angry (so was Naruto, but that's different).

Therefore, after dinner and the dishes were clean, Naruto and Sasuke sat in their shared room. Naruto knew that he was going to have to say something first. Sasuke would never apologize anyway.

"Sasuke, I'm sorry, well, I'm not too sure why I am, I suppose I shouldn't force my opinions down your throat," said Naruto. "I have lots to tell you about Head Priestess Hinako and stuff." Sasuke frowned, but then sighed.

"Sure, me too," said Sasuke. It was the best apology Naruto was ever going to get out of Sasuke and Naruto respected that fact. Sasuke did things in his own odd, off way. "So what about Hinako and Juubi?" Naruto explained what he previously learned about Hinako and her friends and Juubi. Added to the information about Hisano, Sasuke and Naruto both thought the key to get home was there somewhere.

"So Hinako's soul is in Juubi? Then, if her soul was not saved by Rinji-san when he, well, you know, that could possibly mean that her soul was split into nine when Juubi was," said Sasuke.

"And that would mean a piece of Hinako's soul is sealed inside of my fuzzy friend that's sealed inside of me," said Naruto. Sasuke and Naruto lapsed into silence, when Maiya yelled from outside. The two boys rushed out to find Rinji shaking his head amused at the young red haired boy that Maiya was beating up.

Just then, Wakana, the girl that would probably someday be Rinji's wife, rushed over to Maiya and the red haired boy.

"Damnit, I told you to wait for me," said Wakana, hands on her hips, scolding the boy. "I'm sorry about my little brother, Maiya-san, Rinji-san. He was just excited to meet you." Maiya laughed.

"Sorry, kid," said Maiya.

"Well, introduce your self," said Wakana. The red haired and brown eyed boy looked about twelve years old. His clothes were neat, but his hair was messy. Naruto almost winced; the boy's hair reminded him of his mother Kushina.

"I'm Uzumaki Itachi, next leader of the Eddy Village, pleased to me you all," said Uzumaki Itachi. He gave Maiya, Rinji, Naruto and Sasuke a double peace sign and a silly grin was on his face. Naruto was thoroughly disturbed, knowing for sure that this was another of his ancestors. Sasuke merely stared at the boy who shared the same name with his brother. Both Sasuke and Naruto had a feeling that they were in for big headaches.