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Inheritance, Book 2

Chapter One

Prologue


The steady thunk of a cane beat its rhythm down the hallway towards the room, and Naruto stirred properly for the first time in weeks. Had it really only been weeks? Or was his gut feeling right that it was actually months? In the back of his mind, a niggling, terrifying thought whispered that he would have no way of knowing if it had even only been a few days or hours, stretched out to feel like an eternity.

He hated how the noise set his heart racing. A fine sheen of sweat still covered him from the last time somebody had visited him here. The way his screaming muscles squirmed against his restraints unbidden, his body trying desperately to escape what came for him. He especially resented the way his mind searched for any sign of the Fox within him—for any hint at all of its tainted power he might be able to use.

More than anything, however, he hated the aching sadness lodged deep in him that stirred when he could not detect even a hint.

Unnatural piercing light bathed the room he was in, emanating from violent white strips on the ceiling. Some sort of fuinjutsu he'd guessed—he even thought he'd worked out how it had been done to distract himself from the pain in the moments between visits. The rest of the room was plain—the table they had strapped him to surrounded by a sea of grey concrete, broken only by blotches and flecks of dried blood. His blood.

The cane beats grew louder, and Naruto would have spat if his mouth were not so damn dry. The bastard was doing it for effect—to build the dread for what was to come. It was working. He tried to swallow and choked on the lack of moisture, each barren, hacking cough scraping painfully at his throat. The door handle rattled, and Naruto, without conscious thought, yanked at his restraints once more, twisting and squirming—anything to not be here when that door opened.

His wrists and ankles burned and bled, blood and flesh scraping off onto the metal holding him, but of course, it was no use. The lock slid into place in the door, the metallic click echoing around the room above even his thrashing. He froze, and the door opened.

A man stepped through into the blinding white. Once, there had been hatred for him. Seething, passionate hate that had seemed unquenchable. Now, all he felt was black terror. He didn't dare move—not even a muscle, not even to breathe—for fear it would bring the man's attention down on him, and he hated himself for it.

An observer would find it ridiculous, Naruto knew. He was young, and strong, his wiry build exposed to air by the lack of a shirt. The man was not. His skin was weathered, his face all harsh angles and scars, old and deep. The heavy tapping of the cane gave away a serious leg injury, and his left arm lay limp in a sling. An old, ruined cripple. A man destroyed almost entirely by his life as a shinobi.

A lie. Every inch of it.

The man paused beside him. Too close. Naruto kept his eyes straight ahead, every ounce of willpower focused on resisting his instinct to turn and face the danger. In strange parallel, the man also behaved as though Naruto was not strapped to a table in the middle of the room. Suddenly there was a rattle, and Naruto risked a look.

The man was bent over a small metal sidetable, and Naruto could no longer remember if it had been there earlier or not. Upon it, the man lay a black leather package, rolled up tight like a scroll, and ice flooded Naruto's veins. He jerked his head back, tearing his eyes away and locking them straight ahead.

He heard the soft sound of the package unrolling, along with the soft metallic ringing of its contents. Naruto closed his eyes tight, all pretenses of resistance or strength having long since abandoned him. The old man approached, limping his way around the side table toward him. Cold metal kissed his cheek. Naruto recoiled violently as the man traced it all-too gently across his face and neck, and down his torso. His nerves screamed, and he was torn between dreading the searing bite of the blade and wanting it over and done with.

"To have held out for so long," the voice was quiet, a harsh whisper cutting the silence like a razor. "Truly Jiraiya's apprentice. Admirable. A shame Hiruzen's poisonous ideals have tainted you so. Had he given you to me when I first asked, all those years ago, I would have forged you into the perfect shinobi."

Trembling, Naruto used what little movement he had to lean away from the feather-light touch of the man's knife.

"Now, thanks to the weakness he planted within you, you are nothing. Stripped of all power and of potential. A pitiful waste, fit only for one final good before disposal. Open your eyes, boy."

Naruto resisted, turning his head away from the man, keeping his eyes clamped shut, but the demand came again, laced with steel. He opened his eyes.

The vivid red eyes of Shimura Danzou stared back at him. Naruto screamed, and the pain began once more.

AN: More a teaser than a prologue, but I hope you enjoyed nonetheless! So marks the beginning of Book 2 of Inheritance, and another crazy adventure down the Naruto rabbit hole!

This time round however, things will be a little different. Obviously, for one, I am working as a full-time teacher with a fledgling family, with all of the time-constraints, responsibilities yadda yadda that come with that. Secondly, I am also trying to make it as a full-time writer of original fantasy, which is obviously a time-sink in and of itself.

What this wraps around to is that I cannot commit to writing Inheritance the hours that I used to. Other things must come first. However, a promise is a promise, and I will see this fic done, so I have devised a compromise. Something a little different for those of you who have loved the story as much as I have.

I have started a Twitch channel, where I will be hosting a live writing session once per week where people who have enjoyed Inheritance and want a little more can come and hang out/write/study/ask questions about the story as it is being written. You'll get sneak peaks and the ability to discuss the story (and just about anything else with me) with me first hand. Of course, I will also use the channel to host other writing sessions, and gaming content as will, but I wanted to do something hopefully a little special for all the people who have been following this story for years.

You can find me on twitch as IWriteFantasy and I'll be streaming for the first time this Wednesday, at 8pm GMT (4pm Eastern Time). Hopefully I'll see a bunch of you there!