AN: Naruto & Elder Scrolls are owned by Masashi Kishimoto, TV Tokyo, & Bethesda Softworks. Please read and enjoy the Epicness!




"Jutsu!/Shouts!/Dragon or Nirn Language!"

Konoha's Dovahkiin

Chapter 22: Return to Skyrim

Rain dropped harshly over Hi no Kun, lightning clapped every so often. Times of such weather was a result of a tragic if not disastrous events, Naruto sat on his father's stone monument letting the waters drench his hair and armor.

The mission reports were in and a small percentage of the village were aware of his supernatural status. He had failed to bring down his target, Kabuto along with several other curse marked individuals had intercepted him from ripping the Uchiha's heart out. If not for Kakashi's sudden appearance to distract him then maybe he'd still have a shot at the raven haired boy.

The Snake's right hand man had of course Shunshin'd away from him, leaving both Werewolf and silver-haired Jonin to fend off the attackers. Naruto afterwards had attempted to track the duo however, Kabuto had deliberately misled him using Sasuke's own blood, giving enough time to cover his tracks.

This however wasn't what worried him, the fact that he had bitten the Uchiha is what placed the village on high alert. With the newly acquired Lycanthropy and his Curse Mark, would no doubt raise his aggression and blood lust as a Werewolf, making him an uncontrollable killing machine. If lucky, Sasuke would kill the Snake Sannin and half of Otogakure before forcing them to kill the Uchiha.

Tsunade had asked him if the curse could be negated through the use of Fuinjutsu, his only response was, "If it could be sealed that I would've done so a long time ago... believe me... I've tried" and it was true. With Kurama's aid, both him and Naruto had attempted to seal up his wolf spirit's blood lust which only failed numerous times before hiding out in the Forsaken Cave.

In the end, nothing could be done to save the Uchiha, if they brought him back alive he'd most likey slaughter both villagers and Shinobi, if they let him roam with Orochimaru many innocent people could be killed if not turned into man-beasts themselves. Henceforth, Sasuke was given an A-Rank entry in the Bingo Book with a KOS (Kill On Sight) order.


That voice, "Night Mother?" he spoke.

"Do not worry my child, the Uchiha will join the void... not now, not soon... but eventually... the chance to take his life will come again"

While Naruto wasn't one to just let his target walk away, there really wasn't a point to tracking him. The heavy rains have already washed away his scent and any possible blood spots could mislead him in a different direction. He wasn't just going to wait for Jiraiya's Spy Network to come up with a possible lead either, so he decided to halt any motions to try and terminate the Uchiha, for now.

"My Champion, can you hear me?"

"Azura? What is it?" glancing at the star around his neck, "I've seen the coming future, the events that will occur in the following days... are inevitable"

"Events? What's gonna happen?"

"Skyrim needs you to return, creatures of the night are beginning surface... unless you stop them, all of Temriel will fall in eternal darkness and will drown our world in its own blood"

Naruto bit his lower lip, Azura's tone held great worry and when a Deity feared for something, it meant serious business.

"Exactly how many days?"

"The first attack will begin on the twentieth of Sun's Height, Whiterun"

"Twentieth... Sun's Height... that's during the Sun's Rest Festival"

"Indeed, it most certainly will not stop there, every major Hold will suffer an attack within eight days of the next... do what must be done, my Champion"

With that, the connection was lost and Naruto was gone.

Naruto's Residence

Gaara grunted as he stood in a stalemate between himself and the Brotherhood's newest member, Kimimaro. Having saved his life, something even Orochimaru nor Kabuto have been able to nor attempt to do, and having been informed of the Snake's deception to both Kin and Tayuya. The Kaguya had switched loyalties and had pledged his allegiance to Naruto and Naruto alone.

After explaining to the Guild Master of his loose skills, Naruto had suggested he Train whenever possible to make up for all those months he had spent on a medical bed.

At the moment, Gaara had volunteered to be the man's sparing partner. Using his Satetsu to create a pair of Tantos the two while Kimimaro utilized his Kekkei Genkai for his own pair of shoulder blades. The two took a jump back, "Teshi Sendan! (Ten Finger Drilling Bullets)" his finger tips split open and shot skeletal bullets. Gaara held his arms in a cross-fashion, letting his Satetsu form a shield around him.

Hearing the bones bounce off, he thrusted a palm at said shield and fired arrow shaped rounds of his own.

As the spar raged on in the stormy weather, Kin and Tenten sat next to a near a sleeping Tsumu. The weapon mistress took the time to sharpen and maintain her twin Ebony Swords, taking special precautions in order to not activate their enchantments during their maintenance. Kin herself was attempting a Transmutation Spell to change an iron ore provided by Tenten in a 24k gold ore variation.

In another room Tayuya was studying various Genjutsu scrolls, seeing as her most dependable tool was damaged during the invasion she felt the need to learn illusions that didn't require a flute. Next to her was Anko, she was looking over several of the Brotherhoods recipes, each held a lethal poison that caused agonizing pain if not death in an instant, 'Not even the venom of the Kusanagi blade can give such quick effects' she thought.

Everyone inside the compound took notice of the opening doors, "Kin, can you gather everyone" Naruto spoke whilst drying himself with a nearby towel. "Hai" leaving her now silver ore on the table.

The Following Day

Tsunade, Jiraiya, Hiruzen, Tsumu, and the members of the Dark Brotherhood stood outside of Naruto's home while said blonde communicated with Deity known as Azura. The Dovahkiin had informed Tsunade of the sudden danger that would engulf his grandfather's home world, while she was hesitant to allow this, Jiraiya had mentioned that it would keep the blonde Werewolf out of the Akatsuki's grasp and Hiruzen stating that a Deity wouldn't have contacted him unless it was a serious issue.

With a sigh, she had allowed her Shinobi to return to Skyrim.

They watched as an ethereal beam shot forth from the Deadric Artifact and engulf the home, slowly disappearing with an implosion effect.

"What happened?" Jiraiya asked.

"Didn't want the villagers much less Danzo's forces raiding the place, so I've talked with Azura and she's allowed me to store it within her realm" Naruto replied.

Moonshadow was a plane of Oblivion that was governed by Azura, the blonde Werewolf hoped to someday visit this rather peaceful realm as it was described by Morian Zenas as one of thee most beautiful sights that any man or woman would ever gaze upon. The realm was said to contain an enormous rose garden, a city of silver, and breathtaking vistas brimming with waterfalls, flowers, and majestic trees where winds and rain carry heady perfumes.

It was said to hold such beauty that it would leave a mortals half blind, while it wasn't something he would prefer, it'd be worth it.

"Is everyone ready?" receiving a nod from the Brotherhood; giving them all enough time to say their goodbye's to their Teams and or loved ones, as well as sealing up any useful supplies.

"Hai!" was they're response.

"Then you might wanna put on your Snow Cloaks, I nearly froze to death on my first trip, don't want any of you guys suffering from frostbite" taking his advice they, removed their full body tan cloaks from their bags.

"Naruto... I don't know much about Skyrim but... stay safe and don't get yourself killed" Hiruzen spoke.

"Sure thing Jiji"

"Safe trip Naruto, give 'em hell for me" Tsunade stated with a smirk.

"That you can count on"

Gathering around their Leader, they gazed in awe at the golden foot long scroll he unsealed, The Elder Scroll. "Till next time-" he said upon opening the scroll, causing its runes to glow bright green. Naruto, Gaara, Kin, Tayuya, Tenten, Kimimaro, Anko and Tsumu disappeared in a green flash.

Skyrim - High Hrothgar

A green flash was seen near the top of the mountain, several villagers wondered if the Greybeards were attempting a spell, unaware that it was something much greater.

"Phew... did we make it?" Tenten asked, tukking her self slightly deeper into her coat as did everyone excluding Naruto.

"Yeah, we did" walking towards the edge, they gaze upon the ongoing forests and further out plains of Skyrim. Aura glazed the sky in an ever so beautiful lights, "Whoa~~~" Gaara muttered, Tsumu nuzzled her head under Naruto's arm, "So this is your Grandfather's home world?" this got a nod from the blonde Werewolf.

"Ux Dovahkiin wux tepohaic (Dragonborn thou has returned)" they heard as a large shadow glided down onto the temple. Landing ever so gently as to not collapse the roof, they sights were gazed upon a dull tan scaled Elder Dragon. "Paarthurnax coi ui bensvelk ekess ocuir wux tenamalo (Paarthurnax it's good to see you again)" Naruto replied.

"Wer kiwiegir ui mutual, wlekjr months li wux returned ekess dout treskri (The feeling is mutual, nine months since you returned to your world)"

"Wlekjr months? Coita ergriff coanwor jiil persvek wer Atonus Nations, si filiik tairais ossaluri weyotiprevi persvek trian treskriri (Nine Months? Its only been two in the Elemental Nations, I guess time travels differently in both worlds)"

"Zyak coi seems (So it seems)"

The Brotherhood members looked back and forward, wondering what the two were saying.

"Vur svaust re astahii? Arytissi de dout okarthel treskri? (And who are they? Warriors from your home world?)"

"Veh, astahii re wer z'arilti voranle ekess sia svihelen (Yeah, they're the newest addition to my family)"

"Wer Vutha Cha'sid Si presume? (The Black Hand I presume?)"

"Svabol shilta si yenta, astahii re zarlathil sventari (What can I say, they're natural killers)

"Vur wer nuwa'jimos, jaciv ui reaching maturity, axun? tepoha wux coanwor kemir jacioniv? Tepohaic jaciv coanwor kema? (And the hatchling, she is reaching maturity, yes? Has she been trained?)"

"Si tepoha authot svabol si tiliw, ankua jacioniv vi lauth shouts shar, yth tiliw ti tir tivol else ios causing vi kawflev (I've done what I could, taught her a few shouts, but we couldn't do anthing else without causing a panic)" Naruto replied before pondering.

"Wux vucot, mrith wer events batobot re zahae ekess transpire, si nomag ti itrewic wer krehl ekess anku jacioniv tivol else, tir wux siofme wux shilta? (You know, with the events that are about to transpire, I may not get the chance to teach her anything else, do you think you can?)"

"Sjek batobot ui svabol wux huven (If that is what you wish)"

"Tsumu-chan, I want you to go with Paarthurnax, he'll teach you what he can about Dragons... I'll come visit whenever I can" Tsumu whimpered slightly but nodded before giving him a lick. The two flapped their wings and flew to the very top, the Throat of the World.

"Um... Naruto? What was that all about?" Gaara asked.

"That my dear friend was the Grand Master of the Greybeards and most likely the oldest Dragon still breathing, he's also my mentor-"


"Yeah surprising huh? Anyway, I've transported us three weeks before the initial attack, that'll give us enough time to step up our training, we'll head to the Dawnstar Sanctuary and inform your Guildmates of the situation, let's move!" taking point and jumping off the edge, Kimimaro and Gaara quickly followed, soon everyone thereafter.

"Coi seems hesi ghergo pupil tepohaic returned (It seems our young pupil has returned)" Borri spoke as he witnessed the green flash that had allowed their student passage to another world.

"Ui batobot zyak? Zklaen qe jathila sjek jaci tepohada ti confn ekess fekiik udoka (Is that so? Must be important if he had not come to greet us)" Arngeir replied, sipping from his tea.

North of Pale Hold - Blizzard's Rest

"You were right about it being cold Gaki, not even the three snow countries are like this" Anko called out, taking point besides the Master Assassin and the Kaguya.

"You'll get used to it"

"Whoa!" Kin shouted, everyone looked up to see a white Dragon fly by, it had a pale blue underbelly, large torn-like spikes on its back, a spear tipped tail, and two short curved horns.

"A Frost Dragon... keep quiet and stay low, don't think it's seen us yet"

The flying reptile flapped its wings while keeping a keen eye on any potential prey, it tilted its head upon spotting a herd of huge furred elephants. It gave a roar and dived down, placing the Assassins on guard, this however led to surprise as the ear began to shake. A pair of Giants left their bonfire and towards their herd, readying their large clubs as the Dragon suddenly stopped its descent, "FO KRAH DIIN!" spewing a misty blue stream and freezing the surrounding area.

A Giant pushed its way past the stream and jumped up, grabbing the Dragon's leg and with its immense strength, brought the Dragon down onto the earth. It of course retaliated by viciously biting down on the humanoid's arm and torso, the second giant swung its club nailing the beast and flinging it off it's companion.

"Well ain't this entertaining-" Tayuya mused as the two grappled the dragon in place while attempting to beat it into submission, "This is unreal" Tenten whispered.

"VEN GAR NOS!" spewing a high pressured whirlwind, forcing a Giant off and onto the many rocks that surrounded their bonfire. "IISS SLEN NUS!" from a loose gap was the Frost Dragon able to freeze the first Giant before promptly shattering the body with a backlash from it's tail.

It then pounced on the second and bit its head into it's mouth, after several seconds of struggle, a sickening crush was heard and a headless body slid to the ground.

"Ugk-" Kin muttered as she held her neck, they flinched as the Dragon caught sight of them. It then turned and crawled towards the Mammoth herd. "Looks like its too hungry for it to deal with us, come on let's go before it changes its mind" Naruto mused.

Kin, Gaara, and Tenten glanced back to see the winged reptile bite down on a Mammoth's neck, the mothers drove their young away while the fathers rammed their massive tusks against their opponent.

Dawnstar - Two Hours Later

Dropping from the snow covered pine trees, the six newcomers gazed upon a small fishing/mining settlement. While the residents continued their daily routine of ore collecting, smithing, fishing, guard patrols, etc. they all took notice of their rather tired conditions.

'Seems like those dreams worsened since the last time I shopped here' Naruto thought.

"Hey Naruto, any idea why everyone's like this?"

"Not sure when all of this started but, everyone has been having these strange nightmares... at first it just seemed like nothing at the time, though the more I passed through here the more frequent the nightmares seemed to occur... I remember a guard suffer a breakdown, the man couldn't tell the difference between dreams and reality"

"Seems pretty serious" Anko mused.

"Until we get a possible lead on this mystery, there's just nothing we can do"

They continued down the coastline until they eventually came upon a black door, itself had an image of a skeleton leaning before a pile of skulls and a dagger. There was also a large skull with a dark red hand print on its forehead. Growing around it were several bushes of Nightshade.

"Quid est vitae maximam speciem? (What is life's greatest illusion?)"

"Innocentiae, frater meus (Innocence, my brother)"

They stood silent for several seconds, "Domum suscipiat (Welcome Home)" with a sound of turned gears, the doors unlocked and in entered the assassins. Stepping into the torch lit corridors, they came into a bar separated opening that led into the downstairs dining room.

It wasn't until Naruto felt a sudden chill go up his spine, "Naruto-sama, are you feeling alright?" Kimimaro asked.

"She's here... I sense it"

'She?' they all thought, unaware of the pair of glowing red eyes and fanged infested grin that suspended from the ceiling above them.

'Right? Left? Below? Then she must be... UP!' suddenly shooting his arms towards the ceiling and instantly grabbed hold of the figure attempting to pounce him.

"Aw, quod habuistis tunc paene (Aw, I almost had you that time)"

"Prope te, ad te bonum est Babette (You almost did, it's good to see you again Babette)" hugging his 'little' sister figure.

"Whoa sunt de mundo tui? Nova membra sunt? (Whoa, are they from your world? Are they new members?)"

"Yup sed, priusquam faciat prooemiis ya cogitare poteris frangere eorum lingua obice, dum legerit, non possunt vere sustentaret conuersari (Yup but, before introductions do ya think you can break their language barrier, while they can read, they can't really hold up a conversation)"

"Numquid nescis curis (You didn't know the spell did you)-"

"Uh, ego non (Uh, I did not)"

"Tam felix uobis didici a centum retro annis (Well, lucky for you I learned it a hundred years back)" she replied with a sigh, much like the before with the Elder Dragon, the Shinobi had trouble understanding what they were saying.

The watched as the 'little girl' flex her hands, giving them a good snap and shooting forward a familiar white stream.

"Nē, nani the hell was that?" Tayuya suddenly spoke.

"I imagine we'll have less trouble understanding one another" Babette responded.

"Oh... thanks... I guess?"

"Now how about a full introduction with the rest of our guildmates"

"Oh, yes! Of course! The others will be thrilled to see you have returned, especially Aela~~~" she said in a sing-along tone, while giving her leader a nudge with her elbow.

'Aela?' both Tenten and Tayuya thought, while Anko was smirking up a storm.

Naruto laughed sheepishly, "Aela-Chan... it'd be great to see her again, how is she?"

"Well, she hasn't stopped training since you left, quite honestly with you gone she was our strongest and most liable member, half of our guilds have yet to defeat her in combat... she's really taking your training seriously"

"Sounds like someone I'd like to go up against" Tayuya spoke, while Tenten had similar thoughts.

The group trekked past the spear trapped bridge and down the spiral staircase, where sword clanks and clangs along with several cheers were heard. They came into the opening where few assassin's were witnessing a Brotherhood Initiation, "New recruits?" Naruto asked.

"Yes, though we rarely get anyone worth while any more"

"You mean they were-"

"Killed? Of course, to boss's decree, in order to join the Dark Brotherhood one must receive an invitation from a member then survive an extended time against an operative of Executioner Rank or higher... those unworthy are cut down as to not reveal any information of our Sanctuary"

"Makes sense-" Kimimaro spoke, "It was the same in Otogakure"

"I remember, each recruit was given a mission borderlining suicide to test one's loyalty and prowess, the ones that came back alive joined Orochimaru and those who didn't were either dead or hunted down for insubordination and possible intelligence collection" Tayuya added.

"While harsh, dangerous, and risky... it works" Kin mused.

Tenten sighed, Naruto didn't take it easy on any of them during their initiation, it was only due to the fact that they were all comrades under the same village, protected by the Namikaze Clan, and close friends, that he didn't slaughter them during the test.

The ones currently engaged in combat was the Substitute Leader of the Dark Brotherhood, Nazir and a female Bosmer (Wood Elf). Swinging down his Scimitar in a swift yet powerful motion, the Wood Elf blocked with her Nordic Sword however was forced to her knees under the pressure. She gave a low kick that tripped Nazir onto his back, he however stopped his fall with an open palm and gave a drop kick to the recruit.

She herself brought up her arms and braced for impact, said kick knocked her back and off her feet. She reached for her blade in time to block an execution transfix from Nazir's Scimitar, twenty seconds of struggle passed before she pushed the curved sword to the side and kick the elder assassin in the knee, causing Nazir to stagger and giving her enough time to roll away and back to her feet.

Alphaeus, the Brotherhood Mage glanced over at his Candlelight Spell which had shortly diminished, "Time!" he shouted, stopping the match from progressing. Both calmed their breathes and sheathed their weapons, "You did well, not many would survive against me, for that I welcome you to the Dark Brotherhood" Nazir motioned a guildmate to step forward, in his hands was their faction's newly updated armor.

A red hooded cowl that draped down to one's waistline in a cape like fashion, an Ebony chest plate over a red long sleeve tunic, along with black pants and a pair of Ebony/Leather Gauntlets that closely resembled that of an Anbu's; each branding the Brotherhood insignia on them. It also came with several extra belt pouches and a dual holster on for either back or waistline weapons.

(AN: Dark Brotherhood Armor TS Edition)

"Wear it proudly and let your enemies bathe in their own blood" she nodded and took the clothing.

"New armor, new members, and better alcohol... I think this calls for a celebration" Naruto made himself known as he examined a bottle of Stros M'Kai Rum.

"BOSS!" those who knew the blonde Dovahkiin stood up straight with a fist close to their left chest areas. A form of salute and respect to their superiors and or role models, those new to the Brotherhood were either confused or in disbelief, expecting the leader to be someone... older.

"Naruto, my brother, it has been much too long since your departure" Nazir spoke.

"As to you"

"I see you've brought allies of your own"

"Indeed, now before we have a round of Ale, there is a matter in which I must discuss in which I require everyone's presence" Naruto responded, in a serious tone.

One Week Later

Having explained the situation informed to him by Azura, the entire guild had begun their own training regime. The Brotherhood had sent a message to the Companions via Hawk, much to the surprise of the thee Jonin assassin's as the five Shinobi Villages weren't the only ones to use the messenger birds.

The mercenaries had sent a letter back not five hours later, Vilkas had their guildmates hone their skills as well as inform the Jarl of the possible threat to Whiterun. What made Naruto blush was the postscript, 'Though Aela does not admit it, she misses you greatly and is 'looking forward' to seeing you again' this got a laugh from the older members and a sly look from the younger ones.

At the moment, Naruto, Kin, and Tayuya sat at the dining table reading over few Spell Tomes and Scrolls that Alphaeus had collected. In another room, Kimimaro studied a map of Skyrim, memorizing every last detail of each hold, city, and known areas. Anko found herself teaching several members stealth based execution techniques, though her sessions were harsh, difficult, and rather sadistic, they were proven highly effective.

Gaara and Tenten were off sparing in the lower levels, what amazed Alphaeus was the red head's ability to manipulate iron sand. From his explanation, it wasn't a mana-based Telekinetic Spell but, was highly intrigued by what could be found in Naruto's home world.

"So, any idea on who or what we should be on the look out for?" Kin asked.

"Not entirely sure, Azura mentioned that they were creatures of the night so that leaves only a handful of what could attack, either way, depending on what they are it'll might be difficult to spot them through the crowds"

"What do we do then? Just wait for them to attack?" Tayuya replies.

Naruto sighs, "I don't know, this isn't like the Oto and Suna Invasion were Gaara worked as a double agent and gave us the knowledge to prepare for it, we're dealing with an unknown opponent here and we can't progress unless they have the first move".

"He's right... can't really charge blindly at something we know nothing about"

Tayuya rubs her forehead, "Fine, we'll wait it out, though can you at least help me out with this" she asked the blonde Dovahkiin.

"Sure why not, could use the practice as well" Naruto said, promptly before heading out with his red-haired guildmate.

"Ice Runes?" Kin jumped at Babette's sudden appearance, "You thinking about becoming a Cyromage?" she asked.

"Uh, well..."

"I might be able to help you with that?" she asked, a gleam in her that made Kin shutter.

Dawnstar - Northeast

Naruto and Tayuya stood at the bottom of a cliff, one that wasn't too rough as to cause a rock slide with their Spells.



Both of their Mana Coils blazed o life and sent their Magicka through their arms and out their palms, Naruto thrusted both hand forward and casted many Fire Runes across the walls. Tayuya gave a swipe and shot forward multiple Fire Bolts, several hit their marks, others dispersed upon missing the runes. She gave another swipe, letting her second wave of bolts chain the Runes in a firey explosion.

They continued this process for a good twenty minutes, "Alright you're getting the hang of it, though your accuracy is a little off I wouldn't recommend firing more than four at a time"

"Yeah... sure-" she weezed out, blazing out more than one Fire Bolt drains out more Mana than it would by itself, and with wanting to surpase her limits, Tayuya had attempted to cast the spell with drained coils, causing them to momentarily shut-down and strain her muscles.

Naruto slung her arm over his shoulders and walked her over to a fallen log.

Unsealing his old satchel, he brought out a Mana Potion, "Here, don't have many on me, so let's try to make 'em last" taking the vial, Tayuya gulped down the crystal clear liquids.

While letting the Potion take effect, Naruto took a glance at the red head, or rather the mark on her neck.

Like Anko and Kimimaro, Tayuya branded a Curse Mark. While his own Fuinjutsu skills weren't enough to remove it much less alter it, Naruto had restricted the three or rather two from using its corrupted abilities. Since mark heavily increased the user's Strength and Chakra Levels, Naruto had no clue as to what could happen if Mana were to be introduced to it.

Mana was a form of pure energy and tainting it with the power of the Curse Mark could bring catastrophic effects to the user. Naruto wouldn't risk the lives of his family to quell his curiosity and some things were better left in the dark.

"What? Something on my face?" Naruto blinked as Tayuya stared at him, "No, it's nothing... how are you feeling?"

"Somewhat tired, though I wish we can take a brake from this-"

"Break-" Naruto chuckled, "We only started like half an hour ago"

"I don't mean it like that, I'm talking about training, we've been staying at your place for over two months and only left for that one mission after the Uchiha, I want to test my skills out in the field"

"Well, can't argue that, if I was cooped up for so long, I'd want to get out too... alright then, let's go"

Tayuya raised an eyebrow, "Go where?"

"Back to Dawnstar, remember what Babette said about the nightmares affecting the Brotherhood-" she gave a nod, "This little curse just became a serious problem and its my fault for not mending it in the past... so let's break this curse" he stated with a grin.


It didn't take long to gain a lead on their objective, having conversed with several villagers, the two discovered that the hold was relying on a priest of Mara to break the curse they have dubbed, The Walking Nughtmare.

Like wiith what Naruto had seen before, more and more villagers found it difficult to tell dreams from reality.

They have stated that the Priest Erandur, was staying at the Windpeak Inn.

Without a second thought the two Shinobi trecked through the snowy streets and into the local rest stop. Business seemed slow, as very few villagers sat around the fire, ate, or drank what they could to get by.

"Must be him" Naruto motioned, in a single table sat dark yellow hooded robbed figure who seemed to be in deep thought.

"Excuse me-" getting theDark Elf's attention, "Are you Erandur by any chance?"

"That I am?"

"We were told that you were the one they called upon to extinguish these nightmares-"

"Aye, these people are in serious danger, more than they could possibly comprihend but, I'm afraid there's little I can do about it" he replied with a sigh.

"How come? It's not like the dreams are real or anything" Tayuya spoke.

Erandur shook his head, "These dreams are manifistations created by the Deadric Lord Vaermina" this caught Naruto's attention.

"A Daedra... I should have known, and here I thought it might have been a Necromancer" he muttered.

"Vaermina has an awful hunger for memories, in return, she leaves behind nightmares not unlike a cough marks a serious illness... I must end her terrible influence over these people before the damage becomes permanent"

"And how exactly do you plan to do that?" Naruto asked, knowing perfectly well that not many Deadric Lords were as benevolent as Azura or Meridia.

"I need to return to the source of the problem, the Nightcaller Temple"

"Nightcaller Temple?" Tayuya spoke with a risen eyebrow.

"Hold up... what do you mean 'return?' You've been to the source before?" Naruto almost shouted.

This caused Erandur to sigh, "I've already said too much, if anyone overhears what we're saying, it couild cause a panic"

"I think everyone is more worried about staying awake then to actually give a shit" was the red-head's response.

"Wether or not that be the case a Deadra is very serious business and there is very little chance of me suceeding if I were to go alone, all I ask is that you trust and aid me in ending Dawnstar's nightmares"

"And how do we know you won't just lead us into a-" Tayuya was silence by Naruto.

"I trust you, how can we help?

"Wonderful! My lady Moro will ge quite pleased, Nightcaller Temple is only a short walk from Dawnstar, come, we must make haste" getting up from his seat and leading the two assassin's out the door.

"Whiskers, can we really trust this guy?"

"Nope, he's definitely hiding something and seems to have a history with Vaermina, keep your guard up, who knows what we can run into"

Nightcaller Temple - Five Minutes Later

While the walk was a rather quiet one, they at least managed to get their in one piece, even after the Trolls attacked. Nothing several presice cuts from Naruto's Nodachi couldn't fix, the two walked around the ruined church hall, noticing the torn old books and cobwebs around the seats and unlit torches.

They trailed up to a Mara Shrine just behind the podium, "Give me a moment, this will take just a second" allowing the Dark Elf a personal space, he unleashed a rather different variation of the Flames Spell. Little by little did the shrine become an ethereal violet, opening a doorway to a hidden passageway, "This way" he motioned, walking through the shrine and down the spiral staircase.

The purple haze that shrouded the area sent both assassin's a unnerved feeling up their spines.

"Now I can show you the source of the nightmares-" Erandur spoke as he led them to a steel barred opening. Taking a glance below did they see a crimson red and violet barrier shielding a rather demonic skull looking staff, "Behold the Skull of Corruption, the source of Dawnstar's woes... we must reach the inner sanctum and destroy it".

"Easier said than done, let's move" Tayuya spoke before heading down to the lower levels, "Wait! The Miasma is still active, those who sleep here might-" she stopped and nearly tripped upon having her ankle yanked.

What seemed like the corpse of an Orc was actually in a coma-like state, however it and the rest of its awakening allies seemed to be enraged from this as they quickly became hostile.

Tayuya blazed out dual Flames Spell which in return began to burn and melt off the Orc's skin, said berserker; while in excruciating pain, refused to let go of her leg.

"Fuck! Let go already!" she shouted as she raised a leg up and curve stomped the Orc's flaming head, splattering most of its black blood on the stone tiled grounds.

A Kunai flew by and stabbed through an Orc's wrist, forcing him to drop his Morning Star, "Tayuya duck!" freeing herself from the corpses grasp, she arc'd back and let two Ebony Arrows fly over head and into the aortic arteries of both Orcs. The red-haired assassin flipped back to her feet and tore out the Kunai out the remaining Orc's wrist and left a deep gash across his throat.

Tayuya whipped the blood on the Orc's Iron Armor before it fell dead, "How was that?" she asked.

"Execution was quick and flawless, you even shortened your draw by using my Kunai instead of your own, though I think you could've done better on the first" Naruto replied strapping his Dragonbone Bow to his back.

"Hey he took me by surprise, not my fault"

"Tayuya, keep in mind that we're not in the Elemental Nations, anything you wouldn't expect there, could happen here" she sighed and nodded in response.

"Erandur, lead the way"

"Uh, r-right" the Dark Elf muttered in disbelief, never before had he seen Orc's be taken down as quickly as these four. As he walked past the corpses he took a glance at the two arrows that hit dead center in the upper chest area, 'A hit like that would deliver near instant death... those two probably lived about five to eight seconds before passing to the afterlife' his eyes then wandered to the red haired young beauty.

'An Orc's skull is as hard as stone, yet she was able to cave it in with a single stomp... now that I think about it, their attire seem awfully familiar-' he thought as a feeling of dread passed through him as they caught his glance, "What?" Naruto asked.

"Not much further" he quickly replied.

The three suddenly came across an archway that was barricaded by an active barrier, from what they could see through the ethereal aura it produced, it was powered by a Grand Soul Gem. "Damn it, the priests must have activated this barrier when the Miasma was released" Erandur stated with an annoyed growl.

"Anyway to breach it?" the blonde Dovahkiin asked.

"It's impossible, the priests designed it to lock out intruders... though... I wonder-" the Dark Elf pondered, giving him a moment to think, "Wait! There may be a way to bypass the barrier, but I must check their library and confirm it can be done" he spoke.

"You know something, you claim that you've been here before yet, you seem to know an awful lot more about this place than you lead on" Naruto replied.

Erandur gave a sigh, "Very well, if we are to cooperate than it is best that we must fully trust one another... my knowledge of this temple comes from personal experience, I was a priest of Vaermina"

"You're a priest of Vaermina? Why keep it a secret?"

Erandur kept quiet for a few seconds before replying, "When the Orcs invaded the temple, I fled... I left my brothers and sisters here to die... I've spent the last few decades living in regret and seeking redemption from Mara, and by her benevolence, I will right my wrongs".

Naruto shook his head, 'Spineless coward, abandoning his 'family' in their time of crisis, had I been here all those years ago I would've gutted him myself' he thought.

"There isn't much time, we must continue our trek"

The three turned back and headed to a locked room on the upper levels, "So how exactly is the Skull affecting Dawnstar?" Tayuya asked.

"Lore holds that the Skull of Corruption holds a constant hunger for the memories of others, the Skull has been out of reach for so long that I fear it's gained the ability to reach out on it's own and try to feed, what it does with these memories is just conjecture and an argument for scholars and historians to this very day" reaching into his pocket, Erandur pulled out a small bronze key and unlocked the door gimmicks.

Once inside the three gazed upon a two floor ruined library, pillars crumbled, several shelves tattered and books scattered. As such upon entering, the rested priests reawakened and immediately became hostile. Naruto drew his Nodachi while Tayuya readied hand signs, "Oi, Erandur, they know you right, can't you talk to 'em?" asked Naruto.

"I fear I cannot, they have been overexposed to the Miasma gas, while it greatly reduces the aging process during their rest it can also cause damage to ones mental state, victims can even lose their minds entirely... decades have passed, there is no talking our way out of this" reaching around his cloak and bringing out an Ebony Mace while his left hand went ablaze.

The priests rose their arms and blitzed the three with a Sparks Spell, Naruto placed his blade to his palm and blocked with a Steadfast Ward. Tayuya jumped overhead, "Magen: Norowa reta no Ekō! (Demonic Illusion: Echo of the Damned)" flashing away handsigns did the three disappear from sight.

The priests began to hear a crackling sound, which began to travel throughout the entire room, little by little did the walls began to crumble in, in place did hundred upon thousands of deformed corpses crawl out in a sick body twisting manner. The priests redirected their spells at the opponents, their electrical currents zapped the corpses into clouds of ash only to reform only seconds later, they screamed in pain as they were choked and bitten by their deathless adversaries.

Outside the illusion, Naruto flicked his Nodachi, "Now!" catching Tayuya on the blade's blunt side and gave her a boost towards mental trapped priests, Erandur followed suit firing Fire Bolts to counter loose Spark Spells. Tayuya dual casted twin Fire Bolts of her own and slammed both flaming palms two of the hooded heads, releasing her charged spells, the insane temperatures melted through their faces and plowed an actively heated hole through the back of their skulls.

Erandur got close enough to strike with his Mace, crippling a leg with a harsh blow he grabbed the man by the neck and ended the man's life via electrocution.

The last priest kept on blasting his Sparks spells at the non-existent undead, however, the man had let loose more power than he should and knocked a bookshelf to the bottom levels causing more Miasma educed bodies to reawaken.

"Nothing is ever easy is it?" the Dark Elf asked.

"Nope-" Naruto dashed passed the two and giving his black blade a blurred multi-swing before jumping to the lower levels, "-And that's how I like it!" the priest was split into five pieces, letting each fall off the torso and fountain up and repaint the top floor.

Tayuya and Erandur glanced over the ledge watching Naruto slice apart opponents and removing undamaged internal organs through his Zandetsu style.

"Is he always this... brutal?"

"From what I was told, yes"

Pulling out a heart, Naruto held the beating organ before crushing it, the body soon followed in a clean cut explosion. Tossing his blade up, Naruto swung his Bow around the neck of an aggressive Orc and with a spike of Chakra, used the string to decapitate the last of the Miasma-educed victims.

"Looks like we're clear-" reaching up to catch his Nodachi, "Oi, Erandur, what exactly are we looking for here?" said Dark Elf snapped out of his gob smacked demeanor. "O-Oh yes, baring any more interruptions, the information I require is written within a book of alchemical recipes called 'The Dreamstride'-" he explained as Tayuya hopped down while he himself preferred the stairs.

"The tome bears the likeness of Vaermina on the cover, it should be here somewhere"

"Huh?" was Tayuya's response.

"Look for a book that has the same symbol as the shrine we passed through"

"Couldn't he have just said that to begin with"

With that the three began their search, looking through every book on every shelve, behind every table and tattered pillars, until Naruto found it, ironically on a pedestal in mint condition on the upper level of the northeastern area of the room.

"Alright Erandur, let's see what the authors have to tell us-" handing over the rather thick book, Erandur opened its contents and was allowed a moment to search through the pages.

It didn't take long for him to find the answer, "Mara be praised! There is a way past the barrier to the inner sanctum, it involves a recipe for a liquid known as Vaermina's Torpor".

Knowing a bit of Alchemy herself, "How exactly will a Potion help us get by?" Tayuya asked.

"The Torpor itself grants an ability the priests of Vaermina called 'The Dreamstride', using dreams to travel distances in the real world" this got their attention.

"That's... amazing"

"Quite amazing, yes, Alchemy and the blessings of a Divine distilled down into a ingestible liquid, sadly, I have yet to see it function in person"

This earned him a deadpanned look from both the assassins, "So your saying that one of us will have to be the guinea pig?" Tayuya muttered.

"As a sworn priest of Mara, the elixir won't work for me, the Torpor will only work for Priests of Vaermina or the unaffiliated"

"This is a large gamble we're about to make, are you certain it will work?" was Naruto's response.

"I will not lie to you, there is some risk involved, the last time the Torpor was imbibed could have been decades ago, but I swear upon Lady Mara that I will do everything within my power to prevent any harm from befalling either of you"

Naruto sighed, "Do you know where we can find it?"

"I believe there is a laboratory in the east wing, if we proceed there, we should be able to locate a sample" the three shared a glance before heading off to their objective.

Tayuya let loose a sigh in relief, whipping the blood off her hands and armor. Having cleared out the hallways and room of all priests and Orcs, Erandur had them look for the Torpor, "Whiskers! You found it yet?" she asked/shouted.

"Not yet... though I did find a Daedra Heart-" he showed her the ruby red organ, "Hey I see you ripping those things out of bodies, don't need to see one up close" she pushed the heart away from her.

"Believe it or not but, these things could be used to make some of the most durable and deadliest weapons and armor"

"Not to mention, it also mixes well to make Potions and Poisons" Erandur adds in, "Yeah, yeah whatever can we stop talking about blood pumpers, already starting to feel sick" Tayuya retorts, walking over to several shelves, ignoring all loose ingredients until finding a peculiar phial.

"Hey Erandur, this it?" showing the phial.

"Yes! My dear child you've found it-" taking the bottle for inspection, "I'm relieved the bottle is intact, this place looks as though it was ransacked by the Orcs" he explained.

"So... I've brought us this far, but only one of you need to guide us the rest of the way"

Naruto and Tayuya shared a glance, "Do you wanna-".

"Oh no by all means, you are the 'boss' I think the favor goes to you"

Naruto's eye twitched, while he was in fact hesitant to let Tayuya drink if she had wanted to, if it was proven dangerous then who knows what effects could be bestowed onto both his mind and body.

"Bottoms up" taking the cork out and letting the fluids flow down his throat.

"The Orcs have breached the inner sanctum, Brother Veren"

"We must hold, we can't allow the Skull to fall into their hands"

Naruto blinked, in front of him were a pair of priests, however what caught him off guard was that everything that was once ruin was now back to its former condition. While his vision was slightly bright and blurred, he felt lighter, almost like a feather.

"But... no more than a handful of us remain, brother"

"Then we have no choice, the Miasma must be released"

"The Miasma? But, brother..."

"We have no alternative, it's the will of Vaermina-" the Dark Elf then turns to Naruto, "And what about you, Brother Casimir? Are you prepared to serve the will of Vaermina?" he asked.

"I've made my peace, I'm ready"

"Then it's decided, Brother Casimir, you must activate the barrier and release the Miasma, let nothing stop you, Brother Thorek, we must remain here and guard the Skull with our lives if necessary"

"Agreed, to the death"

With that Naruto felt his body move on autopilot, rushing through the corridors and hastily passed the bands of Orcs and priests that battled within the temple.

Nearly been struck down twice, Naruto or rather Casimir made it to the archway where the barrier would be activated. He pulled a lever alongside the wall and the temple was quickly flooded with a strange eerie haze, he then reached into his robes and brought out a Grand Soul Gem.

Placing it on a pedestal, the gem activated and shot out an aura that formed an impenetrable barrier.

Naruto blinked before clutching his head, "Fucking hell-" he groaned, hopefully a headache would be the only effect given by the potion.

"It... it worked, Mara be praised" he turned to see Erandur and Tayuya on the other side of the barrier, the whiskered Werewolf removed the Enchanting stone from its pedestal causing the shield to drop and his two companions to enter.

"You vanished after drinking the Torpor and materialized on the other side, I have never seen anything quite like it"

"Aside from the skull bashing headache, it was amazing... like I a was really there" this got a chuckle from the Dark Elf.

"How I envy you, I can only imagine the excitement of seeing history through the eyes of another, sadly I am resigned to just reading of its wonders through my research of the Skull"

"Guys, if you don't mind, can we talk about this later, we've still got a village to save" Tayuya cut in.

"Indeed, my reverence for Vaermina's machinations should not take precedence over our mission, the inner sanctum lies ahead, we must reach the Skull and put an end to to Dawnstar's troubles, lead on my friend".

Trekking deeper into the temple, the trio finally reached Inner Sanctum where small steps led up to the Daedric Artifact. Tayuya felt her body tremble, 'This feeling... its so... evil, I don't even think Orochimaru's Killing Intent is as bad as this' she thought.

"Let's do this-"

"Wait!" Naruto stopped and gave Erandur a questioning look.

"Out of the corners did two priests walk out, Naruto recognized these two from the Dreamstride, "Veren... Thorek... you're alive!" he said.

"No thanks to you Casimir"

'Casimir!? So then it was Erandur's dreams I was following' Naruto thought in slight surprise.

"I no longer use that name, I'm Erandur, Priest of Mara" this got a sneer from the two worshipers.

"You're a traitor, you left us to die and then ran before the Miasma took you"

"No, I... I was scared... I wasn't ready to sleep"

"Enough of your lies! I can't allow you to destroy the Skull, Priest of Mara"

"Then you leave me no choice!"

Before Erandur could attack, the priests had already made their move and fired a dual cast of Lightning Bolts. Naruto and Tayuya quickly pulled up their Ward spells, as the lightning splashed against the barriers, Erandur revved up a Flames Spell which forced the priests to raise up Ward spell of their own.

"Suiton: Mizurappa! (Water Release: Water Trumpet)" Naruto released a large of jet stream of water, while surprised of the 'aqua' based spell, the priests froze the pressurized waters with a Frostbite spell. Without warning, two Shuriken crashed through the ice and nearly sunk into their skulls, as they prepared another Lightning Bolt, the Shuriken reversed and sent the worshipers to the graves.

Tayuya sighed and removed the threads of her fingers, "Nice save" Naruto complimented, "Thanks".

The walked up to Erandur who stared down at the corpses, "I... knew Veren and Thorek... they were my friends... is this punishment for my past? Is it Mara's will to torment me so?"

"Hey, nothing in life is ever easy, they not only tried to kill us but wanted to prevent us from destroying the Skull, and you've said it yourself, the Miasma causes mental disorders from overexposure, there was no negotiating with them"

The Dark Elf gave a sigh, "You are right, had we aided them in releasing the Skull, they would use it to wreak havoc across Skyrim, they... they had to die" both assassins gave a nod and followed him up the steps and towards the menacing artifact.

"If you'll stand back, I'll preform the ritual granted to me by Lady Mara"

Giving him space, Erandur began his work, "I call upon you, Lady Mara! The Skull hungers, it yearns for memories and leaves nightmares in its wake, grant me the power to break through this barrier and send the Skull to the depths of Oblivion!" he spoke.

Within seconds did the barrier retreat within the Skull and as the Dark Elf's body emitted a strong Holy aura did an eerie voice echo throughout the temple.

"He's deceiving you"


"It's Vaermina" Naruto answered, Erandur was too busy with the ritual to notice.

"When the ritual's complete, the Skull will be free and Erandur will turn on you"

They both glanced at the Dark Elf, "Quickly! Kill him now, kill him and claim the Skull for your own! Vaermina commands you!"

"Oh yeah, like that's gonna happen-' his thoughts stopped when he saw Tayuya bring out a Kunai, "Tayuya don't! It's what she wants!" snatching her wrist in time to stop a throw.

"You heard what she said! The bastard's gonna hit us once the Skull is free!"

"Then we'll deal with him if it comes to that, don't you remember what I said about the Daedra! Vaermina wants you in her service, if you even touch that Skull your soul will belong to her!"

"Does it look like I give a shit!" her curse mark which had activated was slowly spreading up and down her neck.

'This is bad, the Skull's influence is tempting her into using the mark-', "Erandur! Hurry the fuck up!" he shouts.

Tayuya gave a headbutt and elbow to the chest which left her enough room to pull out another Kunai, "No you don't" tackling her down the stairs, the Skull's eyes glew a menacing red as the ex-Oto nin's curse mark crawled across her face.

"Out of my way Whiskers before I kill you too!"

"Ain't gonna happen Tayuya, now drop the knives before I end up doing something I'll know I'll regret!"

"Really now-" her mark now fully spread throughout her body, letting her skin turn from light peach to dark grey, a total of six horn curving forward and back of her head, gaining two slit tear marks below her eyes which were now bright yellow in color.

"Show me what'cha got!"

'So this is her Level Two, sorry Tayuya can't let you passed me' his eyes going from ocean blue to blood red, now slitted like his inner partner's. "Chōshinka! (Butterfly Needle Fire)" letting her body burst into a thousand violet butterflies, all rushing towards the blonde Dovahkiin, "Kai! (Release)" the butterflies disappeared to show countless explosive tags, ready for detonation, "Busō megami no Danmaku! (Barrage of the Twelve Armed Goddess)" swing with precision strikes, giving the illusion of having twelve limbs, Naruto slashed the right keywords of each tag and rendering them useless.

"Gotcha-" Naruto raised his Nodachi to block a rather large Firebolt, Tayuya stood on the barred walls and flung more Firebolts, "You try it!" shooting a bolt of his own Tayuya easily evaded with her increased speed however was not prepared for what happened next.

She started convulsing, falling to her knees while gripping her head in pain, "Tayuya!?" he could feel both her Chakra and Mana levels increasing at an alarming rate, 'The curse mark... its bonding its power to her mana, this won't be good' he thought.

Tayuya gasped for air, she began hyperventilating as two budges crawled along her back. In an instant, two bat wings tore through her attire along with an arrow tipped tail, her horns went from six to eight as they now curved around her head in a crown formation, her nails formed into claws, and her chest expanded from a C-cup to a D-cup. Her tear marks now dripped down to her chin and left her hair a darker shade of red.

She gave a sigh from her fang infested mouth, her wings flapped and flew over Naruto and was about to pierce a hole through Erandur when she was stopped by a glowing yet bubbling claw of red Chakra. Naruto now utilizing his Chakra Cloak reeled her in and threw her back across the hallway, Tayuya flipped onto her feet and boosted herself off the walls and slammed against the Jinchuuriki.

Naruto skid several inches as he now grappled the turned red-head, 'Amazing... her skin's become for resistant to your Chakra' he thought.

"Not even the Shodaime could withstand my Chakra for long, she'd make a fine~~~ mate wouldn't you say?"

'Now is not the time for jokes Kurama!' he growled while getting a hiss from Tayuya.

The Skull could sense its destruction growing near and unleashed more of its influence on the red-head. Tayuya growled and stabbed her tail into Naruto's abdomen, grunting in pain he refused to back down and continued to grapple his teammate.

'I've got to get her to stop, I could try and knock her out, but with that power up I don't think its gonna be possible, I might end up killing her if I strike any harder and I sure as hell don't want to do anything drastic while in Beast Form' Tayuya snarled and removed her tail, only to stab him repeatedly over and over again in attempt to release her.

Finally growing weak from the loss of blood, Naruto did the one thing he could think of... pressed his lips against hers.

Tayuya was completely taken off guard by this, a part of her seemed to calm down, another confused by the blonde's actions. while a third grew furious for defiling her lips.

A sudden burst of light shadowed behind the two as Erandur fell to his knees, The Skull of Corruption was successfully sent back to Oblivion.

With the sudden cut of influence and extended use of the Curse Mark's Third Level, Tayuya's body lost it's adrenaline and slumped into Naruto's Arms, her wings retracted back inside her along with her tail. Her skin color revert back into crack-like marks retreated back into the seal, however, her horns and tear marks had yet to vanish, in fact had shrunken instead.

Hearing her quiet snores, 'She's drained...' raising a hand up to cast a Healing Hands Spell, aiding Kurama in patching up his bleeding wounds.

"She got you good kit, if you hadn't had the cloak active, those last skewers would've have killed you"

'Hehe, she wouldn't... I saw it in her eyes, even under the influence of the Skull, she was struggling to break free... she's a strong woman, and I'm glad to have her on the team'

"So... do you think Aela will accept her?"

'Do. Not. Joke about that'

"Whose joking? Your a Jonin and under the laws of the Sandaime you are now eligible for the CRA"

'Kurama we're not in the Elemental Nations at the moment, I don't think those laws apply to us here'

"You never know"

"My friends, are you alright?" Erandur asked.

"Yeah, give me five minutes, I'll be back on my feet... what about the Skull? Is it gone?" Naruto asked, receiving a nod from the Dark Elf.

"Indeed, back in Oblivion and out of Vaermina's reach... I have you two to thank for"

"Think nothing of it, now how about you do us a favor a whip up a Health Potion"

"Erandur chuckled, "If that is what you wish" helping the blonde to his feet, while he carried the red-head off to the temple's laboratory.

Next Chapter: Dawnguard

AN: Sup everybody, it's finally out I know, like what the fuck took so long. Well there was a shit-load of editing, school, and video games (Don't judge me). Originally I was going to post this chapter on the September 12th aka my birthday, while I did finish on that day, several things prevented me from getting on my labtop and posting it for all you guys to read. Either way I think Friday the 13th works as good as any day.

Now onto the story details, YES they are finally back in Skyrim, keep in mind that the story will no longer be focusing soley on Naruto, while most of the time it will, there will be several scenes in the story where on of the Shinobi gets caught up in a side-quest.

Second, yup Tayuya has achived Level Three of the her Curse Mark, now not sure if any of you agree with this method but, I'd figure I'd give this chapter a little spice and have something unexpected happen. Now this brings up the question will Kimimaro have a level three as well? Personally I have something else instored for him but, if that's what you guys want, the vote for it at the end of your review. Now Anko will never consider using the mark under any circumstance so don't bother asking about hers.

Also, like with my Nuclear Badlands fic, I will be adding some mods into the story as you've noticed with the new Brotherhood Armor and Morning Star Weapon.

Anyway the next chapter we'll finally get to see some Vampire action that all of you have been dying to read about. Till next time, Ja Ne!