KG: …did anyone see a 'Completed' label on the Fanfic? Sheesh! I just said I had more arcs to go through!

Music of the Month: I Will Always Return by Bryan Adams.

Quote: "In family life, love is the oil that eases friction, the cement that binds closer together, and the music that brings harmony." – Friedrich Nietzsche


-x-

Nothing.

That was the state of the Earth at the moment. There was simply nothing anywhere. Monuments to human civilization, a world decorated and scarred by the marvels and horrors of the Elemental Nations, it was all gone. The entire world seemed like a barren void where only drifts of dust and broken rock could travel along a gentle breeze.

No matter where one might look, they would see nothing. There were no trees, no rivers, no mountains, no animals. There wasn't even one stone that laid on top of another. If a traveler came upon this world, they would have thought it uninhabited since its creation.

To the far southwest, the famous sandy dunes of Sunagakure were drowned beneath miles of crumbled rock. To the northwest, the mountain lands of Iwagakure were toppled over and buried beneath the crust of the Earth.

To the far mid-north, the famously towering mountains that speared the clouds of Kumogakure were no more. To the northwest, the seas and oceans of Kirigakure had dried up. Anything living in them would have long since passed away, engulfed in the cruelest embrace of violence that the Elemental Nations had ever seen.

And then, in the very middle of the world itself, the beautiful forests of Konohagakure had burned away. The only thing that might have indicated that civilization had been there was the giant hole in the ground where the Village Hidden in the Leaves once resided. It had long been teleported away by Uzumaki Naruto to Kagura's domain.

The wind continued to blow over the barren nothingness until its speed started to increase. Upon the ground, a powerful light appeared. If anyone were watching, they would have been blinded by its brilliance. Its harshness steadily decreased and a familiar white robe drifted along the barren ground. Eyes pierced through the land where shinobi once ruled and the being wasn't sure how to feel. After all, his summoner was dead, fighting his brother to the very last of his soul's strength.

The Shinigami wasn't sure what he was supposed to think when he saw this scene of nothingness. He'd obviously seen it numerous times. Having lived as long as he had, he'd grown used to sights such as this, some more horrifying than others. He'd seen dead planets, devoid of all life, devoid of all existence, devoid of all meaning.

"Are you upset at my decision?"

Even when the question was asked, the Shinigami didn't answer immediately. He didn't even turn around to see his mother behind him. Kami looked over the Earth. She too looked at the nothingness. A deep frown marred her perfect skin, and her eyes were deeply saddened at the state of what she'd seen.

"I am the god of Death. I have grown used to such a sight. It is not for me to question your decisions, Mother. I know not beginning from end. My summoner fulfilled his duty and he punished my brother for his cruel desires," The Shinigami replied, unable to unhook his eyes from the background before him.

Staring at her son, Kami closed her eyes and floated next to him. "That wasn't what I asked," she said sternly. Gentle and compassionate though she was, Kami made sure to remind her son just whom he was addressing.

The Shinigami turned to his mother. "What would you have me say?" he asked.

Kami closed her eyes and sighed. "Tell me, my son. This was a matter which was well justified and suited to the role which I had granted upon you, and yet you are displeased with its end result. What has you so displeased?" Kami questioned.

The Shinigami looked down, watching a wayward piece of rock roll across the ground in the wind until it broke into dust as well. "Mother, surely this should have convinced you. Even as they were ferried into my realm, they stood together in harmony and unity. Yes, it wasn't perfect, but they will continue to learn. Does that not warrant them a second chance?" The Shinigami asked.

Of the many things the god of Death was expecting, a chuckle wasn't one of them. "My my, and just who has interested you so much to ask such a question? You know that since the first world, I have not forgotten a single thing. You have never advocated for a world like this before," Kami said as her gaze turned back to the ruined world.

Meanwhile, the Shinigami frowned. While mortal men and women would forget, he hadn't forgotten his summoner who had burned his very soul away to erase the divinity and authority of Jashin. They had been sailed into the Gate of The End until neither of them remained. The Shinigami knew since he saw neither light nor flicker of his summoner's spirit, and there had never been a spirit that he couldn't see before now.

"Perhaps. He was a hassle. He was slow to learn, and even slower to understand. His manners and attempts at proper respect were severely lacking. He was emotional, and he made boasts he couldn't back up on more than one occasion. However, had I the opportunity to make such a decision a second time, I would have done so. Mother, if it is your will, then know that he will keep them in line. You were pleased with him as well when you saw him," The Shinigami said.

Kami closed her eyes. In a single instant, she'd seen over ten thousand times where what her son was proposing would end in failure. In fact, she took a step forward and even looked at a hundred thousand other times. In every single one of them, Uzumaki Naruto failed.

"And you believe he can handle such a burden? I hope you don't think I've been lax in my judgments. While you might have contracted with him out of interest, that interest clearly has matured into something much grander. I know what you're trying to do," Kami pointed out.

The Shinigami's face never changed. His eyes remained unblinking upon the land. However, Kami watched something of a smile appear on his face. "And yet, you have not bothered to dissuade me," He said.

"Because I know you, my son. While I love all of you, even Jashin, you have always been the most reasonable, and the most responsible. You have also done as I tasked and have never overstepped your boundaries… at least until you contracted with this boy. Have you never questioned why I allowed it?" Kami then asked.

"If I was to know, then you would have told me. That said, I am grateful that you think so highly of me. Based on your question, no doubt you see the millions of possibilities where my judgment is greatly misplaced. However, I know that as you look you shall see the others where he succeeded. In fact, you already know the end of this one. What more needs to be decided?" The Shinigami inquired.

Kami smiled. "And are you still willing to take that risk?"

"Yes. I shall take responsibility if my intuition is proven wrong," The Shinigami answered immediately. The smile on Kami's face fell. She then stepped in front of her son and exhaled.

"Even when you know what is to come?" she asked.

"Yes."

Kami closed her eyes and sighed. "You still have a lot to learn, my son. However, I cannot say that such a lesson hasn't born fruit for you," Kami thought to herself.

"Very well. I shall indulge your request but once for indeed even in the lowest of times, there is love that no hatred can extinguish no matter how hard it tries. That said, you and I know that such a situation shall never again be replicated for this world ever again. If they fail this time, I shall respect their choice of their own destruction, and you shall respect it as well. Additionally, some must be punished, all who dared serve Jashin shall not be allowed such mercy, especially in such blatant disregard of my authority. You shall execute judgment befitting their crimes," she said, fading away while the Shinigami watched on.

Immediately, the ground began to shake with great power. The god of Death watched in silence as divine power rolled through the entire world. Quickly, life sprung forth in abundance. Trees decorated the landscape, flowers blossomed in gorgeous fields, and barren lands were refreshed with crystal-clear oceans, seas, and springs of water were formed. The damages to the moon were quickly fixed and the Shinigami watched as numerous animals populated the Elemental Nations once again.

Over the entire world, the scarred history of the nations was rectified. With but a word, the mountains were raised, and hills were lowered. In a gentle voice, the lands were populated with animals. Islands were pulled up and Kami wove her hand over the land. Deep ravines and dangerous results of explosions and blasts were healed while precious minerals were formed back into the earth.

Then, the Shinigami felt great power leave his realm as his mother took the millions of souls who had died in Jashin's ruthless rampage. She then breathed life back into them all. One by one, they were laid upon the ground. On the softest grass, Guren, Komachi, and Yukimaru were placed.

Meanwhile, in a battle that ranged from the furthest reaches of the world, as far as the East was from the West, men and women were granted back their lives. Kushina, Yuri, and Yura slept on the grass. Sasuke, Mikoto, and Yuna were leaned against the body of large trees. Kakashi and Yugao were placed on the ground.

Risa, Tayuya, Fuka, Karui, Omoi, Karin, Itachi, The Five Kage, members of the Hyuga Clan, and even those of the Konoha 11 were placed amongst the forestry. Soon enough, in less than an hour, nearly everyone save for those who willingly bent their knee to Jashin was privileged with populating the Earth once again.

…Well, almost everyone.

"Mother, one moment," The Shinigami said.

Kami narrowed her eyes, briefly ceasing her creative work. It seemed her son had gotten rather cheeky with her as of late. Nevertheless, she inclined her ear to him and ceased momentarily.

-x-

A groan from her lips, Kushina scrunched up her face. As it turned out, dying the second time was just as painful as the first time. That said, she wondered if Paradise was supposed to be this chilly. She always imagined Heaven, or whatever the equivalent was, to at least be a little warmer than it was currently.

Slowly opening her eyes, Kushina was stunned to find herself lying on the ground. In utter shock, her eyes stared at the crystal-blue sky and the glory of the sun beaming its wonderful rays upon her face. Her gaze suddenly got wider. She leaned up, her mouth threatening to drop as she felt the freshest cuts of grass beneath her palms.

Kushina looked out and she saw bodies on the ground, each of them sleeping peacefully. Next to her was Yuri and Yura, neither one with nary an injury on their bodies. It was then that Kushina's eyes refused to hold back their tears. She gritted her teeth and clenched her hands.

Choked sobs came out of Kushina's throat as she looked into the beauty of their restored home. "Sochi, you did it. You actually did it!" Kushina said in her thoughts.

Unable to keep her joy contained, the mother of Uzumaki Naruto screamed into the open air, her nose inhaling the rich smell of the wind and flowers. The landscape from before seemed like such a wretched dream from which she and everyone else had just woken up from.

Thanks to the blessing of the wind, Kushina's voice carried out for miles. And, just like her, hundreds and thousands began to wake up. As far as Suna was from Kiri, people opened their eyes in wonder. Those loyal men and women who died fighting Jashin mere hours ago looked at their world in shock, however, none were without tears as they saw their friends and loved ones looking out in bewilderment.

Risa laughed as she crushed her daughter in a hug while Tayuya scowled. "Alright, I get it! We're all fucking alive! You can let me go now!" Tayuya urgently claimed with a big smile plastered across her face.

"Shut up and let me hug you! This is gonna be your life for a little bit!" Risa exclaimed. Had Tayuya not been rubbing her eyes too, she might have rolled them upon hearing her mother's response.

Far off, Karui and Omoi hugged the bewildered Samui and Atsui.

Rin threw her arms around Kakashi, the jonin smiling before he was glomped by his supposed best friend, Gai. Yugao watched on, a small grin on her face.

Tenten sobbed as she took Lee and Neji into her arms.

"Will someone tell me what's going on here?!" Onoki asked, watching his granddaughter cheer to the highest heavens and the lowest hells.

"We won, Old Man! That's what's fucking going on! WE FUCKING WON!" she hollered, her celebration eagerly drawing in others with her. Onoki just continued to look at her like she'd grown a second head.

On another side, Yuri stilled as she saw Guren, Komachi, Shi, and Yukimaru appear. Trembling, she fell to her knees. "I'm sorry. I'm so sorry I let you down, Yukimaru. I… I couldn't save you!" Yuri wept while the young man smiled. He knelt in front of her and hugged her.

"But you did, Yuri! You and Naruto-nii did!" Yukimaru said, hoping to encourage her even as his shoulder became soaked in the Sanbi Jinchuuriki's tears. Guren and Komachi watched on before they too were embraced by Yura, Karin, Risa, Tayuya, and Fuka. Not even Shi was safe, following the embrace of Karui, Omoi, and Atsui. The Uzumaki family laughed together, their voices nearly being deafened out amongst the chorus of a thousand multitudes.

Far over, Sasuke heard the celebrating noise of the masses. Not even the stoic Uchiha could keep a grin off his face as he turned to Yuna. Before she could even react, he grabbed her face and kissed her with more passion than she'd ever expected before. Yuna wasn't sure when her legs started weakening, but she felt her heart leap out of her chest when Sasuke even took it a step further and dipped her head back. She touched his cheek with her hand.

Itachi and Mikoto surveyed the moment, the latter hugging the former. Itachi smiled in the embrace of his mother. He looked over the landscape. Not even the Akatsuki were immune to the emotions running through the renewed land. Those who suffered for all those months in the harsh cold embraced the warmth of their confused loved ones.

Unfortunately, all the joy momentarily ceased when Kushina appeared in front of Mikoto and Itachi. "Kushina?" Mikoto asked.

"Where's Naruto?! I can't sense him!" she exclaimed.

That question seemed to shatter the hopes of nearly everyone who heard her. Sasuke and Yuna widened their eyes before the Uchiha Family stared out into the masses. No matter how hard they looked, even with renewed sight from being revived none of them could point out any spiky, blond hair.

"No! No fucking way, Dobe! Don't you fucking dare do this!" Sasuke snarled to himself. The Uchiha swiftly dashed into the masses, weaving between this person and that. Mikoto, Yuna, and Itachi quickly joined him in their search.

Their search didn't take long to spread into the Hinoken Team and even into the Uzumaki Family itself. In their joyful bliss, Yura and Yuri swiftly realized that they couldn't sense Naruto's power at all. Not even Karin, arguably the best sensor of the entire family, couldn't locate the Uzumaki Patriarch.

Kushina remembered panting as she ran through the masses. Anyone who even remotely looked like her son she briefly investigated. She tapped on shoulders, she asked questions, and she surveyed every detail.

"Kushina, what's going on?" Tsunade asked, finally managing to get a hold of the erratic redhead.

"S-Sochi. I can't find him. I can't even sense him. It's like he doesn't exist at all," Kushina replied, struggling against Tsunade's firm grip. The Godaime felt a chill run down her spine amid the cheers and celebrations.

"What about the Shinigami? He's contracted to Naruto, right? The brat can't die. C-Can he?" Tsunade inquired.

Kushina shivered, biting her lip. Of course, she'd tried the Shinigami, but it seemed that the God of Death hadn't deemed her worthy of an answer. "I don't know. The battle was intense and Sochi used a lot of power. I don't know what happened to him after… after I died," Kushina responded.

In her surprise, Tsunade quickly released Kushina, watching as the redhead disappeared into the masses. Closing her eyes, Tsunade balled her fists and resisted the urge to shout every profanity that she could think of. She turned around and spotted a Konoha shinobi.

"You! Send out a message to all Konoha shinobi present! Get me a visual on Uzumaki Naruto. If you have any sight of him, then announce it!" Tsunade ordered.

The shinobi immediately agreed and a handful of searches quickly spiraled into a worldwide investigation into the disappearance of Naruto. While much of the populace was confused, especially those of Iwa whose comrades seemed to really care about the Konoha shinobi, others were restless. Those who had been alive during the onslaught against Jashin knew the power, presence, and ability of Uzumaki Naruto. There hadn't been a single person who hadn't seen him.

"Hey, you seen Naruto? Spiky, blond hair? Weird whisker marks on the side of his face?" Karui asked one of her fellow comrades. The Kumo shinobi snorted as he sat on the grass.

"Hah! Who the hell cares about the Konoha dog? Good riddance to the bastard. Konoha could stand to lose a few more men anyway," he said before Karui dragged him up by the scruff of his neck.

"Hey! Let go of me!" He scowled before his lips quivered when he saw the pure rage, threatening to boil over beneath Karui's gaze.

"Say. that. Again! That idiot fought harder for you, for me, for everyone on this whole damn planet than anyone else. The only reason you even get to speak that shit outta your mouth is because of him! You were lucky! You didn't live to see what the hell we saw! Now get off your fucking ass and start searching! We were just brought back, I bet you don't wanna start losing your new teeth!" Karui growled. While she might not know Naruto as well as many others, it changed not that she and Omoi were welcomed into the Uzumaki family. While that still left the matter of whether or not to relocate to Konoha in the air, the least she could do was search for a distant cousin.

"Karui, he's not worth it. Let's just continue searching," Omoi said, patting her shoulder. His partner shoved off his hand.

"No! Not this time. No one gets to bury their damn heads in the ground this time. I'm gonna make sure everyone knows the hell we all went through to get this back, and everyone's gonna know who they'd better thank for it!" Karui growled while the shinobi looked at her in surprise.

Omoi's eyes softened while Samui and Atsui glanced at each other. Never had they seen Karui so furious before. "What exactly happened?" Atsui inquired.

Omoi shook his head. "It's a long story. Longer than anything we have time for right now," the young Kumo shinobi replied to his comrade.

Though Samui remained silent, she carefully observed her teammate. For as long as she'd known Karui, never had she seen such anger in the redhead's eyes. Never had she even seen her teammate's hands tremble so much. Of course, Samui remembered her death at the hands of those… things that were once human, but she could tell there was a lot of misery, anger, sadness, and frustration behind Karui's gaze. However, above it all, there was worry.

…Just what had happened.

"Then allow me to issue a mission for the rest of you. Find Uzumaki Naruto, or you will bring shame to the name of Kumogakure."

The Kumo shinobi turned their heads. Karui, Omoi, Samui, and Atsui did the same, watching as Ay and Kirabi approached. For those who wished to offer a retort, they were quickly rebuffed when a glare from both the Raikage and the Hachibi Jinchuuriki descended on them.

"Find nine, we will. If not, these breaths we breathe will be still!" Kirabi said. Some weren't sure, given the rather odd nature of the rhyme, but that almost sounded like a threat.

One by one, the Kumo shinobi swiftly began their search for the one called Uzumaki Naruto. Karui released the man she held and began her search as well. Meanwhile, Samui approached Omoi.

"A lot happened, didn't it?" she asked. Her eyes narrowed when she saw the same worry fill Omoi's eyes.

"More than you know," he answered.

Just like the Raikage and the Hokage, the Mizukage, and Kazekage organized their troops. Though many tried to celebrate, the four Kage allowed none to celebrate for too long until the one who'd led them all had been found.

On the other side, the Iwa shinobi watched on. "Who are they even looking for?" one of them asked, watching countless foreign shinobi not only ask them questions but also scattered about the region like frantic rabbits in a field.

"Uzumaki Naruto. He was that guy who battled the bastard who got us all into this mess. Apparently, he's gone," one of the Iwa shinobi said.

That statement got something of a chuckle/snort from most of the Iwa populace. "That Konoha guy? No offense, but I won't be losing any sleep over not finding him. Not only did the Yondaime's wife survive, but I've heard the rumors that her clan's making a resurgence. If someone that powerful was allowed to live, then there'd be nothing keeping Konoha from laying siege to the rest of the world. What would we be able to do against a guy like that anyway?" another Iwa shinobi asked, folding his arms as he watched the Kumo, Suna, Konoha, and Kiri shinobi work tirelessly.

Though the vast majority of the Iwa shinobi were indifferent, and borderline resentful, those who had survived into the icy domain and fought alongside other comrades in the Elemental Nations felt very much conflicted. They wanted to look for the blond as well. They hadn't forgotten what he'd done for them. They all remembered dying horribly, but with great faith that the young Chunin would somehow overcome and save them. And, judging by the spectacular grandeur of the world and its pristine beauty, he must have fulfilled their grandest wishes.

Unfortunately, they were too afraid to speak up.

"Let them search all they want. The matter has been resolved. For now, we shall return to the village and reorganize ourselves. We must find out what happened before the other nations have a chance to fortify themselves."

The Iwa shinobi turned their heads and they saw the short, yet imposing stature of the Tsuchikage. At his side, stood Kitsuchi and Akatsuchi. Both guards looked at the Tsuchikage with great disapproval. Many others were no different. Wasn't it a great shame on the name of Iwagakure to not at least give some measure of thanks to the man who helped save their world?

"Hai Tsuchikage-sama!" the others exclaimed.

Onoki nodded. Truth be told, he wanted to see this young man who had saved the world as well. However, he wasn't quite so sure that the boy wouldn't harbor a grudge for the attack that Onoki put on him and Jashin from earlier. Additionally, he wanted to bolster his forces quickly while the rest of the nations scrambled around aimlessly for a guy whom Onoki helped was dead. He still remembered his meetings with the Regent and Danzo. If he were lucky, both stayed dead, especially that damn Regent.

Onoki was ready to set off with his men until Kurotsuchi stepped in front of him. "Now that's where you're wrong, Jiji. All of you, get your asses moving too. I wanna see Uzumaki Naruto in front of me or I wanna see a corpse so we can properly bury him! If anyone tries to go back home before then, I'll make you wish you stayed dead!" Kurotsuchi said, making sure her voice was heard amongst the masses.

Onoki paused. He glared at his granddaughter, but he was shocked when he saw her glare back at him. "And that's an order from the Temporary Yondaime Tsuchikage. Until order has been reestablished, and a session held by leading Daimyo and shinobi, I still hold the position, and I say no one's gonna call Iwagakure ungrateful! Now get your asses to work!" Kurotsuchi ordered, daring anyone to defy her. She had just realized that all her friends and family, at least from what she could see, had been revived. She wasn't about to waste this opportunity.

"What? Temporary Tsuchikage? When did that happen?" another Iwa shinobi asked while others murmured. Luckily, Akatsuchi stepped forward.

"You heard your Tsuchikage! Get moving!" He ordered.

The Iwa shinobi, not sure what to think, hesitantly started moving and joined the efforts of the other nations. Meanwhile, Onoki looked at his granddaughter.

"Girl, what do you think you're doing?" he asked.

"Showing the world The Will of Stone, Old Man. At this point, I don't care what grudges you've got against the other nations. Leave our people out of it. This shit's gone on for long enough," Kurotsuchi said as she joined the four Kage, aiding in the efforts to find Naruto. Onoki was left stunned as he watched his granddaughter slap the Kazekage on the back, smiling like he'd never seen her before.

…What happened?

-x-

Following Kurotsuchi, the Five Great Nations enlisted the help of every man, woman, and child in the search for Uzumaki Naruto. Even those from minor nations came together, numerous individuals who had been touched by the warming glow of his influence.

From individuals as powerful as Koyuki, Haruna, and Toki, to even the smallest civilians like Tazuna, Inari, and Temujin, the name of Uzumaki Naruto spread out through every lip, tongue, and voice. The Yamanaka clan acted as the central intelligence force, coordinating the thoughts of everyone around the world. News traveled this way and that, from East to West and North to South. Though it might be for only half a day, the world was fully united in one singular purpose.

Find Uzumaki Naruto.

Unfortunately, the day continued to run long and no news was heard from anyone. Not even the Hyuuga, Hiashi, Hizashi, Neji, and Hinata, leading the charge could find anything. Neither could the Inuzuka clan. Though many were saddened, and even confused to say it, but Naruto had no scent. It was almost like he didn't even exist.

That news was not good for Kushina.

"I don't care! Find him! Even if you have to work yourselves ragged! FIND HIM!" Kushina said grabbing the scruff of Tsunade's neck. The Konoha shinobi looked concerned. While they really wished to protect their Hokage, they weren't too sure they'd win in a battle against Kushina. Hell, not even Jiraiya was confident.

"Kushina… we're trying, I promise. We're all working hard. No one even has the time to celebrate anymore. I feel like we've got the whole damn earth scoured. He could be on some deserted island, or in a cave. We simply don't know yet," Tsunade said, clenching her fists when she saw the way Kushina shivered.

Unfortunately, the news refused to get better. Even when the sun had set, people refused to stop looking. Using whatever skills they could, they searched for Naruto throughout the night with no sign. It was only when the sun rose the next morning that Kushina fell to her knees.

"Sochi, you can't be gone. You can't leave me again," Kushina thought, her tears staining her face while others watched her solemnly. Yuri wept in Yura's arms while the older sister held her.

Truth be told, Yura wasn't holding it together either. If not for her trying to support Yuri, she might have broken down as well. However, even she couldn't cease her tears. The two sisters fell to the ground, weeping with Kushina for their lost love. Somehow, all three knew that he was gone. Even if he had died, surely the Shinigami would have allowed them to see his spirit so he could contact them. Yet, they didn't even get that. As they thought, he must have fought so hard that not even his spirit, his soul, remained.

Karin clenched her fists and held her head down. Even now, she still tried to sense her cousin, but to no avail. Tayuya turned away with a harsh scowl while Risa, Fuka, and Guren felt a sorrow so painful it threatened to crush their newly made hearts to pieces. Komachi, Yukimaru, Shi, Karui, and Omoi were silent with stunned anguish.

Samui, Atsui, Mei, and Tsunade could only watch sadly along with the others. No one was sure what to say. Not even Konoan could find the words that might be of some solace to Yuri. She could only comfort her young friend with a hand on the shoulder.

Even Sasuke, the ever-stoic Uchiha, and the rest of his family weren't immune from the anguish. Mikoto held Kushina while Kakashi and Yugao held their heads down. Hell, if it were possible, many of them would have been more than happy to trade their lives if it meant Uzumaki Naruto might be able to come back.

The sorrow was so severe, so infectious that even those who didn't feel anything at first were soon affected. It wasn't like no one knew the sorrow and misery of losing someone that you loved, but the agony through Kushina's broken voice. The echoes of pain reverberated from her voice and down to the depths of her soul.

Kurotsuchi took off her headband, exhaustion finally taking its toll on her. It seemed so funny. She would have liked nothing more than for Konoha to suffer when they all went into that frozen domain. Even more than that, she would have loved for Naruto to get himself killed, but the more the days and weeks waned on her, the more she started to realize what was really important. The suffering of all people was something that should unite the hearts of all people. Kushina's tears reminded the Tsuchikage of her own tears. How quaint that their restored home welcomed cheers in the morning and soul-crushing sobs in the evening.

"Let's go home. We'll search tomorrow," Kurotsuchi said, hanging her head down. The Iwa shinobi, wiping their heads of sweat and dirt slowly nodded. Some of them wanted to keep looking, if just to bring some form of peace to the wailing mother, wife of the Yondaime or not.

However, unknown to them all, the Shinigami, all his brothers and sisters, and… his mother watched. The God of Death looked at his mother and her eyes narrowed. "The God of Death brings restoration to a broken world. My son, you might not realize it, but you have changed as well. It was good of me to allow you to form such a contract," Kami thought to herself. She nodded.

Having gained her approval, the Shinigami closed his eyes. Immediately, he stood in front of the Right Gate. His eyes narrowed. With nary an effort, he grabbed the door and opened it. He held out his hands. Obeying his silent command, the black and violet flames of The End gathered every piece of the torn spirit of the Summoner of the Shinigami. When the white-robed spirit was handed his human summoner, he marveled at the pieces that were missing. Like lashes set to scar the skin from intense torture, his spirit was marred with numerous imperfections. If resurrected like this, he'd probably only live for maybe an hour or two.

"You are reckless, boy. You are slow to understand, and even slower to comprehend. Yet, you have not let my interest in you wane even once. Know that this was your victory. You have done me very proud," The Shinigami said. He tapped the blond's forehead. His own divinity augmented by his mother's might, the tears and scars in Naruto's spirit were swiftly healed.

However, he wasn't alone.

The Shinigami turned his head and spotted the resurrected forms of Pakura, Dan, Kimimaro, Gari, Suiren, Madara, Tobirama, and Yahiko, the Kindred, Kurama, Mōryō, and Kagura Otsutsuki. Slowly, he handed Naruto to Pakura. The former Suna kunoichi took her lord in her arms.

"Be with him. Strengthen him. And speak my words to him when he awakens," The Shinigami said, taking notice of Kagura's envious look upon him. However, all it took was one look from the God of Death for her gaze to turn away.

"Do not delve or aspire for positions which do not belong to you. All who have tried have been met with harsh judgment. See that you remember that," The Shinigami said. Kagura might have glared at him if he were a being of the same realm as her. However, not only was she subjected to his realm, but she knew that this being was impossibly stronger than her. Just standing next to him made her tremble. She would have to rectify this embarrassment as soon as possible.

The others glanced at her for only a moment before the Shinigami's gaze focused on Tobirama. "Your time has come. You shall return to me once again," he said.

The Nidaime Hokage frowned, hardly perturbed by the order. Instead, he looked at his summoner. He then looked at Madara. "I hope you know who's waiting for you if you try to continue in your foolish endeavor. You'll have your work cut out for you. Though he's even more of an idiot than my brother, he's got more than three times his spirit and his talent," Tobirama warned.

Madara glared at the Senju, but offered no reply. Instead, he and the others watched the Nidaime Hokage march toward the Shinigami with great boldness. Once he was in front of the god, the imposing stature of Senju Tobirama became little more than a wisp of white fire. The Shinigami opened his mouth and the former Hokage flew in, being swallowed once again and settling into the belly of the God of Death.

The Shinigami then dismissed Madara, the Uchiha having played his part as the god demanded. All that was left were the others. "Go, and be with him. You have all done well, even amid his accusations," The Shinigami said. He then disappeared and everyone was let out.

On the outside, everyone stopped moving as they heard the gentle hum of the wind over the fields of grass. Even leaves of trees swayed. Everyone paused, looking up at the peculiar weather. However, for others, it was much less peculiar. If anything, it was simply miraculous.

Kushina, Yura, Yuri, the families of the Uchiha, Hyuuga, Uzumaki, and members of Hinoken felt the sharp swirl of Honshou. Many others grew fearful, having felt the embrace of Jashin's might. Some drew their weapons in the vain hopes that they might be saved, but others grew hopeful for they had sensed this sort of presence before. It was the same when they felt… when they felt… Uzumaki Naruto descended back into the frozen domain.

Kushina's eyes widened as a pillar of white fire sprouted out in front of her. Yuri and Yura looked on, both stunned into silence as Pakura and the rest of Naruto's summons appeared, carrying the spirit of their lord. As they stood in front of Kushina, none of them spoke a word. Instead, they looked out into the masses. Everyone stared at them as if they were in the presence of something not of the world of the Elemental Nations.

Pakura spared a brief glance at the Suna shinobi. She always wondered what she might say to them if she had the opportunity to talk to them now. She supposed she should be angry, but what good would it do now? After all, she'd seen what unresolved anger could do. Painful and hard though it might be, perhaps it was better to just let demons die.

Pakura turned back to Kushina and gently laid Naruto on the ground. As soon as she placed Naruto down, color, flesh, and blood returned to his body. Everyone marveled at the wonder, watching the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki return to the land of the Elemental Nations, restored to his original body.

Once his body was brought forth, the glowing light faded away. Kushina felt her dry throat grow even drier. She thought it might be some sort of cruel joke, perhaps granting her sight of her son's body only to confirm his death. However, those thoughts were quickly dashed when all ears in the vicinity heard the Summoner of the Shinigami groan. His chest heaved.

"Naruto? Naruto!" Kushina claimed, scrambling for her son. She took him in her arms and slowly lifted him up. He leaned into her arms while she inspected every corner of his body. He seemed without a single scratch, a miracle given how battered and bruised he looked when Kushina last saw him.

At her side came Yura and Yuri. The latter touched Naruto's cheek. "N-Naruto-nii. H-He made it," Yuri whimpered, rubbing her nose and dirtying her face. She grabbed his hands while Yura touched his head.

"Just like Nii-sama promised he would," Yura responded. She'd make sure to give the Shinigami a proper prayer before the night was over.

Kushina laughed. "Yeah, he did promise that, didn't he?" she asked.

"Thank yo-" Kushina's thanks to her son's summons came to a halt when she realized they were all gone. The lands of the Elemental Nations were quiet, save for the soft breeze of the wind.

Immediately, the Uzumaki family approached along with the Uchiha and Hinoken. "He's alive?" Yuna asked.

"Yeah. Y-Yes, he is," Kushina said.

Komachi, Karin, Shi, Risa, Tayuya, Fuka, Guren, Yukimaru, Karui, Omoi, and Mei gathered around him. Kakashi Yugao, Mikoto, and Sasuke watched on from a distance, none of them able to keep the grins from their faces.

"I never thought he could look more like an idiot when he's asleep," Tayuya mentioned, getting a few laughs from the gathered family.

"Should I tell him that before or after you cried the whole of Kirigakure's new oceans?" Fuka asked, gaining a snarl from her young chunin. Guren laughed while Komachi and Shi smiled.

"...aww, you cried for me? Too bad I didn't get a picture… of… that."

Everyone stilled and looked down to see Naruto's weary smile and hazy, yet open eyes.

"Naruto-niisan!" Yukimaru exclaimed while the Kyuubi Jinchuuriki stared up at the remnant of the once powerful Uzumaki Clan, individuals from nearly every nation gathered together as one family, one clan, one people. The young boy who slept alone in a single apartment, barely living on cups of instant ramen noodles, and expired milk, received the warm embrace of true family, people he might call his own.

"Hey, Yukimaru. It's been a while, hasn't it?" Naruto inquired tiredly.

"Y-Yeah, it has. It really has," the young man replied. Naruto chuckled, looking at the ecstatic expressions of his entire family until he settled his gaze on his mother, Yura, and Yuri.

"I love you. I love all of you so much. I swear that I'll keep you happy all the days of my life. That is a promise from Uzumaki Naruto," he uttered drowsily.

The three redheads smiled. Unable to resist herself, Kushina bent down and kissed her son, her handsome, gallant son. Naruto returned her kiss as best he could. Unfortunately, being revived, especially in a matter like this from a sea of existence-ending flames made one rather weak, at least physically.

Nevertheless, he enjoyed the taste of her warm lips, and her delicate fingers on his chest. Neither cared who saw nor the seemingly disgusted looks from the masses. Instead, they embraced each other as lingering tears fell from her eyes. Her tongue struck his over and over before they finally parted. Violet eyes and light blue stared into each other, each filled with the face of their respective lovers

"My turn!" Yuri exclaimed, making Kushina widen her eyes, and Naruto gasp as Yuri kissed him next. She cupped his cheek and enjoyed his lips hungrily, almost desperately so. Yet, her aggressive affection soon turned just as tender. Her lips pursed and her hands touched her lover's arms. Feelings of unbridled love and pleasure soared through the Sanbi Jinchuuriki's being. Her very being ached for him, months of no contact nearly threatened to overtake her. All the fighting that barely seemed only a few hours ago now seemed so far away.

When they parted, Yuri smiled. "I love you, Naruto-nii," Yuri claimed.

Naruto smiled back at her until he looked at Yura. "Nii-sama," she said.

He continued to smile at her while Yura moved herself over. Moving her hair to the side, she kissed him as well. His lips were warm, much warmer than they were back in that icy, frost-ridden cave they climbed. Yura still remembered how cold their bodies were, even when they huddled together. Compared to then, his lips were as hot as the Suna desert sands. His beating chest was like a rhythmic hum of the start of the nations and her own joy.

Yura kissed him with as much passion as she could. She shivered when he struck the top of her mouth and his hands tickled her long legs. Her face grew flushed until she parted from him as well. "Please don't do that again," she said.

Unfortunately, Naruto offered no reply. As a young man who lived and died by his word, he couldn't make such a promise this time. Of course, Yura knew that as well, but what else was a woman to do when the man she loved barely escaped from having his entire soul burned away into nothingness?

"I'll try my best," he said, granting her a weak smile.

…Well, perhaps that was better than nothing.

After some time, Naruto decided to try and stand with Kushina helping to support him. Immediately, he noticed the thousands upon thousands of men and women looking at him in wonder. Shinobi of different nations looked upon him with various expressions of awe, pride, acceptance, respect, and even fear. There were also a few who looked at him with indifference, yet he cared not so much for them. Instead, he looked at his family. The joy on their faces was more than enough for him. While he might not care so much about the rest of the world, he strove to protect that world as it was where his family and friends resided.

That was enough.

"Cutting it close aren't you, Dobe?" Sasuke asked. Naruto focused his gaze on his not-best friend and snorted.

"I'm just repaying the favor you gave the rest of us back at the Chunin Exams, you ass," Naruto replied a little weakly.

Everyone noticed this, and Yugao spoke up. "Are you feeling alright?" she asked.

"I'll be fine. Just… feeling a little exhausted right now," Naruto answered.

Truth be told, no one was ready to blame him for feeling the way he did. Of course, it did confuse a few others why they felt better than ever, yet he remained weak, but no one was going to look a gift horse in the mouth. Hell, they were happy he was standing even at all.

"So… are we done? Have we done all the shit we need to do? Can we finally think of this as just a fucking bad nightmare? I'd really like to lay down right now!" Tayuya exclaimed, leaning on Komachi's arm.

The others laughed at her, but soon everyone quieted down when Naruto spoke.

"No. We're not done. Not yet. There's… one more thing that needs to be done. Isn't that right, Shin?" Naruto asked into the open air. His voice felled the celebration that had nearly erupted from the crowd of people. Many quickly fell into terror, wondering what Naruto might be speaking about.

"What do you mean? We won right? What else could there be?" Karui inquired before everyone shivered when they found themselves under the weight of the Shinigami's mighty gaze. The God of Death floated over the masses, no one capable of mounting any sort of offense against the deity, not that anyone was really willing to try.

Many immediately grew fearful, flashbacks to the nightmare they'd just endured came back in full force. However, Naruto, Hinoken, the Uchiha family, and those of the Uzumaki family looked upon the Shinigami with great pride, respect, and reverence.

"Have you not forgotten a task which I had assigned to you, Uzumaki Naruto? It must be settled," The Shinigami said.

People looked at each other, clearly confused when they heard the drumming voice of the God of Death. Naruto's eyes narrowed for only a moment. Nevertheless, he nodded.

"Where's Nagato?" he asked, turning to his mother.

Immediately, everyone realized what he was implying, none more than Konan, who was holding her only living friend's ailing body around her shoulder. All eyes were swiftly on her while she bit her lip. Her mouth quivered and her hands balled into fists. Even she knew where this was coming from. While she wouldn't say she had a perfect idea of why the God of Death might care about her friend, she had a feeling. However, what was she supposed to say that might change the mind of a god?

"Konan-san, it'll be alright. Bring him here."

The young woman raised her head, witnessing the reassuring grin on Naruto's face. She couldn't tell if he was saying that just to make her feel better, or whether he actually believed it. Konan opened her mouth, but she slowly closed it when she saw Yahiko standing in front of her. He patted her shoulder and slowly nodded.

"You trusted him before. Trust him now," Yahiko said.

…That really wasn't fair. What was Konan supposed to say to that?

She looked at Nagato. Every path of Pain had been destroyed, the bodies of those killed finally being laid to rest along with their spirits. That simply left Nagato a little more winded than others.

And speaking of Nagato, he saw every eye on him. Not even the other members of the Akatsuki dared come to his aid. His eyes narrowed, yet he knew better than to speak out of turn in front of the God of Death. He looked at his best friend, Yahiko. The man calmly welcomed him with confidence.

Finally, the former leader of the Akatsuki held his own down. In fact, he smiled. How funny that this might be the culmination of all his achievements, especially after all that he'd learned from Yahiko and Uchiha Madara. It seemed that all his dreams, future, and plans had simply been the whims of another. Perhaps there was no proper means of atonement, but maybe it became clear to him just how flawed his peace might be.

Nagato then held his head up and removed his arm from Konan. She looked at him while he gently pushed her away.

"I will go," Nagato said.

No one spoke as he limped forward. His red hair covered her eyes as he passed under the ruthless scrutiny of the gaze of millions. Nevertheless, his head remained high as his feet felt the grass. His eyes gazed over the horizons, watching the moon spread its glittering magnificence over the area. The mountains seemed so beautiful and the smell of the air was cleaner than he'd ever remembered smelling before. The scent of rain was nowhere to be found before he spotted Naruto, Kyuubi Jinchuuriki, the most troublesome target.

The two Uzumaki looked at each other. The older then looked over the masses until his eyes settled on his master, Jiraiya. The Toad Sage remained steadily silent, his fingers clasped in the grasp of the Godaime Hokage.

"When people get hurt, they learn to hate. When people hurt others, they become hated and racked with guilt. But knowing that pain allows others to be kind. Pain allows people to grow, and how you grow… is up to you!"

Nagato then briefly looked over the Elemental Nations. While many remained hesitant around former enemies and allies, others who had lived through the trauma and pain of the last few months were more than happy to share in the bliss with foreign shinobi. In fact, you might not even think that Suna shinobi harbored a great disdain for Kiri shinobi, or that Konoha might be at the throat of Kumo and Iwa.

"Uzumaki Naruto, I leave Konan in your hands. It seems we were unfortunate at this stage in our lives. Perhaps at another time, we might sit together and enjoy our time as a family. You might think it nonsense, but even I wished for peace. I do not regret my choice of action, but I hope you will find an answer so that no one else in our family ends up like I did," he said, as he walked forward.

Naruto, Kushina, and the rest of the Uzumaki family watched him go as the Shinigami's eyes peered down on him. Nagato stood before the God of Death while the Shinigami took its blade from its mouth. Too unnerved, millions looked away, but none heard Nagato scream. Instead, he died peacefully in the embrace of the Death deity. His spirit was collected by the Shinigami while Naruto watched, perhaps he owed Nagato at least that much.

After that, the presence of the Shinigami left and people were finally left to celebrate to their own devices. Yuri moved to comfort her friend while the whole Elemental Nations ruptured with cheers and voices of triumph.

One by one, Naruto was congratulated by many. Some even ripped him from his mother and hoisted him in the air. The blond screamed while people continued to throw him into the air. Kushina laughed while Sasuke, Kakashi, and Yugao watched in amusement.

Rin was quick to share in the congratulations before she remembered Obito. She looked out for him before their gazes locked. His eyes, hard and unyielding, stared back into her gentle ones. Finally, he turned away and disappeared into the masses before Rin could call out to him. She stepped forward to chase after him, but she paused when a hand from Kakashi rested on her shoulder.

"No matter how we try, even if we bring a horse to water, we can't force it to drink. We'll find a way, Rin. Unfortunately, it just won't be today," Kakashi said.

His former teammate looked at him sadly until she stared back into the crowd only to find that her teammate had disappeared entirely. "Obito, I'll find a way to bring you home. I swear it," Rin said, clenching her fist in defeat.

That said, many others were utterly exhausted, both from the mental headache of learning all that happened with their deaths and from the physical exhaustion of trying even to find the blond all day. Plus, that led to another problem, many who had scoured the world realized that every village or structure had been effectively destroyed, all save… Konoha.

With what little of his current might remained, Naruto, with Kagura's help, was able to put back all of Konoha in its space. The village was as dark and lifeless inside as many thought it was outside. It would take weeks, if not months to get everything running again, but many were too excited to even care about that.

Tsunade sighed and rubbed her head. "We're gonna be accommodating all these people, aren't we?" she asked.

Jiraiya patted her shoulder until there came ANOTHER problem, the matter of the Biju. Kagura had released them from their prisons along with the Gedo Mazo. Aside from the Sanbi, Hachibi, and Kyuubi, every other bijuu had been released. No one knew what to do about them, but they sure as hell knew they weren't ready to combat them, nor willing to either.

Of course, the answer to that problem was quickly revealed when the biju took it upon themselves to swiftly run off, vanishing into the very elements themselves. While many of them were more than happy to have the world resurrected, they weren't so willing to be captured for a second, third, fourth, or even fifth time.

"I-Is it alright to just let them go like that?" someone asked, their voice quivering.

"H-Hey, if you wanna go after them, then you're welcome to. Just don't involve me!" another replied.

Of course, the Kage were concerned about this as well, but everyone was in severe disarray at the moment. They'd also just literally fought to their deaths against a cruel god. No one was quite so willing to go against the bijuu, especially not with the possibility of foreign shinobi being so close. If anything, perhaps they were lucky that the bijuu hadn't violently come upon them as well.

Gaara, for himself, wasn't sure how he felt when he saw the Shukaku disappear into the sand. For years, he would have liked nothing more than to be rid of the bijuu. Now, he wondered if there might be a way that they could all remain amicable.

Either way, The Godaime Hokage welcomed many into Konoha. Of course, many weren't so willing to enter the village, namely the masses of Iwagakure, Kumogakure, numerous smaller nations, villages, and citizenry. Exhausted, they went their own ways with their friends, families, and fellow allies.

The rest that stayed found themselves in the wonderful hospitality of Konoha. To say that the village was overcrowded for a second time was an understatement. Not only that, but there weren't anywhere near enough blankets, pillows, or comfortable sleeping arrangements for the people. Homes were stuffed to full capacity and even underground bunkers were filled to the brim. It became clear to Tsunade that a full overhaul of the village would be needed, especially with former secret corridors, laboratories, and special meeting rooms being used to house individuals.

Many were even forced to sleep in the streets, but whether by a miracle from Kami or from Amaterasu and Tsukuyomi, the air wasn't hot or cold. In fact, it was the warmest, most pleasant night anyone had ever had. The soft breezes lulled many to sleep as the lands of Konoha slowly grew quiet.

If only such a peace might come to the Uzumaki compound.

"Ah, family togetherness. You gotta love it!" Tayuya snarled as she found herself smushed between Amaru and Karui.

"I don't like it either, short stuff! Put up with it!" the dark-skinned redhead growled back. She was really starting to regret staying here. Surely spending time with family could have waited for another week… month… maybe even a year!

"I think I prefer being dead," Amaru thought to herself as she found herself shoved against the wall again. Granted, she didn't remember much from having died, but it couldn't have been worse than this.

"Well, I prefer you being alive!" Yukimaru exclaimed happily. Amaru laughed while Komachi, Risa, and Fuka brushed against each other until everyone heard Tayuya snarl.

"Call me short stuff one more time, and the only thing short is gonna be the size of your fucking head after I'm done beating your face in!" Tayuya fired back.

"What? Can you speak a little louder? I can't hear you down there!" Karui shouted. She got the expression she wanted as Tayuya's hair started to raise itself into the air.

On the other side of the master bedroom, Shi sat next to Omoi, observing the altercation. "Did this happen a lot when we were gone?" he inquired.

The white-haired man shook his head. "Surprisingly, no. Though I think that was more because we were too concerned with our own survival than about the constricting space," Omoi mentioned, pulling a blanket over Yukimaru, much to the youngest Uzumaki's delight.

"Must you both fight? Should we be happy to come together as a family again, even if it's under some trying circumstances?" Shion asked.

"SHUT UP!" Tayuya and Karui argued before turning back to each other. The priestess then turned her head and gawked when she saw Karin already asleep. How could her cousin fall asleep in all this noise?

However, little did Shion realize it, but Karui had more than enough experience falling asleep in the maddening halls and labs of Orochimaru's bases. She'd grown used the the animalistic snarls, insults, threats, and screams that rampaged through those cold halls before Sasuke took her away. At this point, the noise was rather a nice bit of ambience for the member of Team Hebi.

"And why aren't you three upset at this?" Shion asked to the main four who occupied the bed.

Yuri simply smiled on top of Naruto's chest while Kushina and Yura took his arms. The only male of the four merely grinned. "Trust me, after all the mess we just got through, I'll take this in a heartbeat," Yuri claimed, running her hands over her lover's warm, powerful chest.

"Besides, I think if everyone knows that if someone messes up my room, I'm gonna make sure there're no other arguments that will ever be had in this room," Kushina answered calmly, making Tayuya and Karui stiffen. The smile on the Uzumaki Matriarch's face never waned, making sure the entire room heard her threat.

Wisely, yet begrudgingly, Karui and Tayuya remained quiet and settled down. Then, whole room steadily grew quiet as the Uzumaki household fell into silence and blissful sleep.

Yet, it was not only them. Across the Elemental Nations, whether by sun up or sun down, many found ways to sleep and rest as the rebirth of their glorious world brought them all. For once, the world rested easy.

Well, most of it.

On the outside, Kagura frowned as she stared up at the moon. Her eyes hardened momentarily. "So that's what you are kept. Imprisoned by chakra rather familiar to that of our clan, much stronger than the yoke that spawns upon this wretched rock. It seems that I've ceased your plan momentarily. However, I know that your Will still exists out there. Know that a great reckoning shall come before you and I, Sister," Kaguya said, never taking her gaze off that celestial body past the line of the earth. She'd have that meeting, even if she had to use Uzumaki Naruto and the gods themselves to do it.

-x-

Jashin wasn't sure when the pain stopped. He remembered the black flames of his damned brother's flames sticking to his body, sapping away every piece of his Authority over the realm of Slaughter and Malice. He didn't remember much after that. He just remembered feeling sheer terror as he bashed his fist over Uzumaki Naruto's head again and again until he passed out.

It was only when Jashin opened his eyes did he frown. "So I lost. Not bad, Uzumaki Naruto. However, rest easy for now. I shall have my vengeance soon enough," Jashin said as he found himself surrounded by his brothers and sisters, all of them standing next to their mother who remained seated upon her powerful throne. He took notice of the harsh gaze in her eye.

Well, that was certainly new.

Standing up, Jashin presented himself. "Mother! My wonderful brothers and sisters! Have you all come to welcome me home? I'm honored!" Jashin said. He frowned when he saw Tsukuyomi and Amaterasu turn their heads slightly.

"That was more of him than I hope I'll ever see again," The goddess of the Moon said, the frown on her face deepening. No one commented further which prompted a raised eyebrow from Jashin.

Looking down, the god of Slaughter and Malice noticed a lone purple and scarlet sheet on the floor. He also noticed that he was very much naked before them all. Of course, it wasn't like he was embarrassed by the idea. That said, his mother's gaze made him feel very small at the moment. Plus, her gaze made him feel more naked than he actually was.

"Well, that's a wake-up call. I think we'll have a nice chuckle about that when we remember it eons later. Perhaps it would be best if I were covered with my Authority again, Mother. I'm feeling rather judged right now," Jashin said as he grabbed the sheet and used it to wrap himself again.

Everyone noticed that Kami never responded. She just continued to glare at her son while the others watched on. Even the Shinigami cast a glance at his mother, none quite so used to her silence. While disappointed in mortals time after time, there were only a handful of times when Kami was truly, unequivocally angry. That this had to be one of those times made no one else too confident to speak.

Jashin's frown slowly deepened. "Mother?" he asked.

Immediately, absolute authority roared over the divine assembly. The god of Slaughter and Malice was quickly brought to his knees with his head bowed. Sharp beads of sweat fell down the sides of his face while the others shivered. Just standing next to their mother like this was nigh overwhelming. Had she not been so focused on Jashin, her power would easily be capable of crushing them all into nothingness.

"The next time you speak before me, it had better be done respectfully, Jashin. I shall not tell you a second time. Instead, you shall cease to exist entirely," Kami said, making Jashin swallow nervously. The other gods and goddesses wisely kept silent. Never had they heard their mother speak this way before.

Kami stood up and stepped away from her great throne. "Jashin, my son. I had been more than fair. I allowed you two realms because you proved yourself worthy of the responsibility. For eons, I observed you and found you capable. Why, my son? Why did your heart turn so black? You were to control the malice and slaughter its vile touch when it reached too much for mortals to handle. Instead, you reveled in the destruction and the pain which it paused, even going so far as to lure mortals in with forbidden knowledge of your cruel practices. I stayed my hand, believing that you might see the error of your ways and return to my diligent son that I took so much pride in. Instead, you orchestrated these events and dared set up your own kingdom in defiance of me and my council," Kami said as she stood in front of him.

Jashin still kept his head lowered, his body trembling as the full weight of the wrath of his mother fell upon him. "...Y-Yes, Mother," he said. He gritted his teeth, yet his thoughts were not so safe from his mother even with his head down.

"And you do not even feel the slightest bit apologetic for it, do you?" She asked, not expecting an answer. Even without her all-knowing ways, she could easily feel the frustration and vile anger seeping into her son's black heart. She sighed sadly.

"You shall be punished under the jurisdiction of your brother, Shinigami, until I decide otherwise. You shall suffer the flames of The End until I decide otherwise. Never again shall you obtain the privilege of divinity. Remove him," Kami said.

Jashin's anger exploded, but it was little more than a bluster in the wind with no divine might to back it up. Instead, he burst into a pillar of black fire and vanished from the assembly.

Kami looked at the spot where her son used to be. Her eyes then hardened. "Leave," she ordered.

No one spoke a word, doing as she wished. The last to leave was the Shinigami. He looked at his mother before he resolved to go back to his own business.

Once she was alone, Kami waved her hand. Immediately the bright color of the divine assembly turned as dark as the reaches of outer space itself. The only thing that remained to illuminate the darkness was Kami's own majestic divinity.

"What do you think you're doing?" she inquired into the darkness, knowing that the eyes of the person she'd summoned were upon her.

"I believe things between us have gone on for long enough. I cannot get rid of you and it would take the most extreme of measures for you to get rid of me, a sacrifice which even you, in your loving and creator nature, aren't so willing to go through with. Yet, we knew where this might lead. There cannot be two and you have not bothered to take my hand. That shall leave us with only one course. In the end, there shall only be one, and… it shall not be you," The voice said while the pressure upon the room exploded. The figure behind her was immediately on edge in the face of her might.

Rather than respond, Kami closed her eyes. She then smiled as she lessened her aura. "I look forward to the end result then. I hope you can pay the price for your hubris," she answered.

The being behind her didn't say anything for a little while. "...If you mean to say that I do not know about Uzumaki Naruto, then you will be disappointed. He is of no consequence," He said.

Having said her piece, Kami waved her hand and dismissed the presence from her assembly. She then glanced back at the throne she'd been sitting in a short while ago.

"...No consequence, is it?" She asked, another smile reaching her face when she thought of her son's young summoner.

The Mother of All then waved her hand. The smile on her face widened when a portal opened and she saw the future behind it. She then closed the portal and walked away.


KG: Choking on vanilla ice cream! Anyway, regarding the poll, I see some people like a certain someone more than I anticipated. Ya'll sure aren't making it easy for me. I've gone through numerous plots already, but what is life without a little bit of challenge? Now, then I think that there might be one more thing that needs to be done before this arc shall be set to a close. Don't you think so?

KG: CHEESECAKE!