Yep, I'm back and the best part is I am still working on the next chapter too, but not sure how far I will go beyond that. Also, got back into reading stuff in the Naruto archive and it is still interesting to see how many people are still going, even after Naruto melted into Boruto… yikes.

Haven't been getting email alerts, so I made a discord server as a nice place to chat instead. Link to server is dis cord .gg/ mgAZ9GGuFG
Trolls and rude people will be booted and banned as this is supposed to be a fun place so let's keep it that way.
It is still small at the moment, but I think it is nice to give everyone a place to talk about things (not just my stories) with other similarly interested people. I do also hope to get some feedback through there as well as I haven't had any for four months essentially

The good thing though, for this story at least, is I'm not using canon very much for this story (how can I with him in Mist?) so that doesn't bother me. It must not bother most of you either, since this is actually my second most followed story, but my first bleach story is only a couple dozen off, with my first DxD story only a couple dozen ahead of this one.

Anyway, hope you enjoy and know the next chapter is being worked on.

SSJ3 Kyuubi Gohan.

The teams of Genin would arrive for their next task, only to be led to a coliseum. Along the way, Naruto would tease his former Leaf allies about his relationship with Ameyuri. The next task would feature a series of battles in which participants would be paired up randomly in a varying sequence of combinations. Naruto would be paired up with Matsuri from Sand for his two-on-two battle against Lee and Tenten, with the team of Naruto and Matsuri picking up the win via surrender.

Disclaimer – I don't own anything from the Naruto anime/manga. All I own are my original characters and plot twists.



'Heavily demonic voice'

'Fox talking'

"Fox thinking"




Chapter 13 – Battle crescendo

Naruto relaxed as he entered his room, waiting for the doors to signal his next battle. It was interesting to see how far Lee had come, but Naruto knew he would keep pushing, that was the kind of person he was. The door to Naruto's right lit up and he smiled, walking towards it in excitement. Opening the door, Naruto nearly had a fit at the team he was on.

'Wow, talk about a coincidence. I never would have thought the three of us would be fighting together again.' Said Naruto in amusement.

'Whatever.' Said Sasuke, not bothering to spare the third member of their team a glance.

'Guess we're going to be carrying you again, eh Sakura? Just like old times huh.' Teased Naruto.

'Naruto! What the hell do you mean by carrying me?' Ranted Sakura.

'Sheesh, it was just a joke, I'm sure you've at least gotten a little stronger, right? There is no way Kakashi would have sent you here if you were still as weak as you were from before, right?' Teased Naruto with a wink.

Sakura pulled out a pair of gloves with studs on them and pulled them on tightly.

'When did you become a strong silent type?' Joked Naruto.

'Oi! Don't ignore us while you have a little tea party!' Shouted Karui.

'Relax, no need to get so riled up. So, Sasuke, should we spar, or do you want to play with the hot heads?' Asked Suigetsu.

'Who are you calling a hot head?' Asked Kiba angrily.

'Ah man, after Karin, I didn't think I would run in to two people just like her.' Commented Suigetsu.

'Ah if you don't like hot heads, you're going to have to face me.' Said Naruto in amusement.

'Well, I would like to see if you really can hold yourself against one of these bad boys.' Said Suigetsu, before Ao's head appeared on the screen.

'The same rules as before apply, however, as this is a three-on-three battle, the outcome must be unanimous. A death or forfeit from either member, of either team, leads to a whole team outcome. Begin.' Said Ao, before vanishing.

'Oh, so it is just like when we first signed up. Neat. Well then. Come on whitey.' Said Naruto, dropping his jacket and dropping his arms to either side of him.

'What kind of a stance is that?' Shouted Karui.

'Why don't you test it out?' Asked Naruto.

'Oi, stay in your lane, I want the kidnapper.' Said Suigetsu, before rushing Naruto.

'The hell I will.' Said Karui, before charging Naruto as well.

'And I thought I was impatient.' Said Kiba, before joining his temporary teams' charge.

'That's just mean, you are all leaving out Sakura and Sasuke, I guess I better do something about that. Water Style: Water Wall.' Said Naruto, before two walls of water rushed forward, narrowing in on the trio, but leaving enough space for the two on the side to dodge.

'Stupid, that won't stop us.' Said Karui, only to eat her words a moment later.

'Barricade!' Shouted Naruto, as he slapped his hands on the ground, causing the two waves to reach the ceiling and cover the entire expanse of the building.

'Neat.' Said Suigetsu, continuing his charge, before drawing his sword out to the side.

'I thought so too. Got to keep some secrets after all.' Said Naruto, before making a set of hand signs.

Before Suigetsu knew it, he was trapped in a prison of ice mirrors.

'This is Secret Jutsu: Crystal Ice Mirrors, or at least I think that is what Haku called it. This should make it a lot harder for anyone to get involved.' Said Naruto, before letting his water walls fall, allowing him to hear the sound of battle.

Suigetsu moved forward undeterred, before slashing horizontally, only for Naruto to jump and land on the blade.

'Always thought it was cool how Zabuza could stand on this thing.' Said Naruto, before kicking Suigetsu in the face, only for his face to explode.

'Whew, thought I killed you there.' Said Naruto, as the head reformed.

'I'm a Houzuki, we can turn into water as long as there is enough around.' Said Suigetsu, before slashing upwards, seeking to bisect Naruto.

Naruto jumped and held his fist out, letting a stump of wood emerge and block the sword, which was quickly embedded.

'Doesn't work for the sword though, does it?' Asked Naruto, making a hand seal as he spat out a wad of lava at Suigetsu's hand.

Instead of letting go of the sword as Naruto expected, the water-based individual blasted a projectile of water from his hand at the glob of lava, causing it to harden and cool. Naruto laughed in amusement and jumped back, letting the sword escape from the chunk of wood it had been embedded in.

'You are really attached to that thing.' Said Naruto.

'It is my dream to reunite all the swords of the Hidden Mist and reform the Seven Ninja Swordsmen.' Explained Suigetsu.

'Shouldn't you join the Mist then, since they have the rest of them, aside from Kisame's?' Asked Naruto.

'I might later, but I still want the chance to fight against them all first. Can't do that if I'm on the same side.' Said Suigetsu.

'Huh, that actually makes a lot of sense. In that case, let me treat you like a real enemy.' Said Naruto, before he bulked up again, hair turning green, before the ground exploded under him as he pushed off, charging towards Suigetsu.

Suigetsu panicked and had his head punched off again, only for Naruto to then channel water chakra himself, and kick Suigetsu, successfully sending him flying through the air as he reformed.

'Fire Style: Grand Fireball jutsu.' Said Naruto, as he spat out a huge ball of fire.

The heat alone caused the four combatants to pause momentarily, before the ball exploded and caused a huge wave of heat to wash over everyone.

'Guess I shouldn't have told you about me needing water.' Said Suigetsu, his face appearing from a clump of water on the ground.

'Never tell me your weakness, or I will put you down in seconds.' Agreed Naruto easily, with a shrug of his shoulders.

'Good thing I bring my own supply.' Said Suigetsu as he reformed, before uncapping two bottles of water, which he poured out in front of him.

'You're going to need more than a few bottles.' Said Naruto, as he let lava form around his hands.

'Your guard is down!' Shouted Karui, seeking to behead Naruto, only for him to grab the sword and melt it down into a brittle piece of metal.

'You know, the last time someone ignored Sakura, she punched them on the back of their head.' Said Naruto, throwing the girl back to her opponent.

Sakura smirked, before giving a mighty yell. Naruto and Sasuke both stopped to stare at Sakura, as her fist, which usually packed a mean punch, embedded Karui into the ground, causing spittle to come out of her mouth, before her eyes rolled into the back of her head.

'Wow, I guess that is where everything went over the past year or so.' Commented Naruto.

'What is that supposed to mean?' Asked Sakura.

'I mean you've clearly learnt something from Granny, but it seems you didn't learn all her tricks.' Said Naruto, tapping his chest with his right hand.

'We forfeit.' Said Sasuke, causing his teammates to stare at him.

'We do? Why?' Asked Naruto.

'Because I know both of you will win your individual battles now and I want to make sure Suigetsu gets to fight against your teammates. Besides, I don't think she is going to win her next fight, even after being healed.' Said Sasuke.

'Cutting my fun short already?' Asked Suigetsu.

'Just make sure you make it through the next battle.' Said Sasuke.

'I guess that's that then. Kind of an anticlimactic reunion.' Said Naruto in disappointment, as Ao was displayed on the screen.

'The forfeit is accepted, please return to your rooms.' Said Ao.

'Don't worry Sakura, my other teammate is pretty flat too, but she is super flexible, you can always make up for being small by being enthusiastic.' Said Naruto, causing Sakura to fume as she blushed.

Naruto waved to Sasuke after picking up his jacket, before heading back to his room. As the door closed, Naruto relaxed his transformation, having kept it up as he didn't trust Sasuke enough to not try something if he thought he could pull it off.

'One-on-one next huh, should be fun.' Muttered Naruto.

As a new door lit up, Naruto walked towards it a bit more carefully, not wanting to ruin the suspense he was building up internally.

'Rain huh? Last Chunin exam I was in we got our scroll from a Rain team. Hope you can do something other than make fake clones, because I can make real ones.' Said Naruto, surveying his next opponent.

The ninja standing across from Naruto was a purple haired individual, with her hair tied up into a strange bun. The only other thing Naruto noted, was the dark orange sash, with a small pouch on it.

'At least your taste in colour is good.' Said Naruto, after his opponent remained silent.

'This is a one-on-one battle. Anyone who loses both this battle and the next will be automatically disqualified, so do your best.' Said Ao, before he disappeared again.

'I would make a comment about how it wouldn't make sense to not do your best, but then again, one of my teammates just forfeited the last battle. Unfortunately, that means I have to win, so I really hope you didn't just lose your last battle, or you are about to be eliminated.' Said Naruto with a smile.

His opponent didn't verbally reply but raised their hands into a combat stance.

'Oh, I'm itching for a good brawl after fighting Lee. I hope you can keep up.' Said Naruto, before rushing forward.

Naruto threw his right fist out in a straight punch, only for his opponent to weave slightly to the side and duck down, preparing to punch Naruto in the gut. For this reason, it was with great surprise that a knee met her face and smashed her back, with Naruto following through with a vertical jump.

'You're pretty fast, but I'm faster.' Said Naruto, bouncing on the soles of his feet.

His opponent wiped their bleeding lip, before pulling out some sealing tags, surprising Naruto.

'You're going to fight an Uzumaki with seals? You're brave, I'll give you that.' Said Naruto in amusement.

Out of the sealing tag a wave of shuriken came shooting out. Naruto smiled and covered his arms in Earth chakra, before shooting through the onslaught, the metal shuriken bouncing off his makeshift armour. Naruto let the armour break down around his left hand, swinging out with his right. The Rain ninja raised a sealing tag, preparing to mount an attack, only for Naruto's left hand to dart out faster than his right, his index finger glowing with chakra and touching the sealing tag. There was only a moment for her eyes to widen, before Naruto's fist smashed into her face and blasted her away.

'I said you were brave, but bravery isn't always a good thing.' Said Naruto, as he watched his opponent crawl back to a vertical base.

'You are very arrogant.' Said the Kunoichi.

'So you can talk after all? I wouldn't call it arrogance though. I am going to win as there is no other acceptable outcome.' Said Naruto.

'Typical Great Shinobi arrogance, no care for the smaller villages.' Said his opponent, causing Naruto's eyes to widen.

'Talking to me like I'm just another shinobi with the backing of a big village. Now who is the arrogant one. Did you expect me to pity you? A single person can be just as deadly as a whole village.' Said Naruto with a frown.

'On that we agree.' Said the Kunoichi, before rushing Naruto.

Naruto put his arms down and let ice cover his hands.

'Unsealing Jutsu: Confetti Storm.' Said the girl, as a wave of tiny white paper filled the entire room they were in.

Naruto let the paper cover him, sensing there was no chakra in it and was really just a smokescreen. Naruto tilted his head to the right as a shuriken passed through but was unable to pinpoint the exact location of his attacker. Two kunai then came through from opposite sides of Naruto, causing him to spin as both passed by him at the same time.

'Boil Style: Skilled Mist jutsu.' Said Naruto, before letting a stream of acidic mist come out of his mouth, which quickly expanded outwards.

The paper which surrounded Naruto immediately started to corrode, with layer after layer crumbling out of existence. A few more shuriken were launched at Naruto, but Naruto simply directed his mist to target them, leading to them being dissolved before they could even reach him.

'It's over.' Said Naruto, sucking in a deep breath, before giving a chakra infused exhale, sending a huge amount of the mist out and propelling it in every direction with a quick spin.

The paper was wiped out in seconds, until the only thing remaining was a corroding brown gate.

'Rasengan.' Said Naruto, as a spiralling ball of fast spinning chakra formed in his hand, causing the mist to swirl.

In an instant, Naruto was above the gate and pushed the sphere of chakra down, shattering the wood, only for a sealing tag to be slapped on his hand. Naruto's opponent looked battered, but despite this, smiled in victory, believing she had just sealed Naruto's chakra.

'It was a nice attempt and had you been against anyone else, it might have worked. Like I said earlier though, facing an Uzumaki with seals is brave, but facing me with seals is stupid, plain and simple.' Said Naruto, pushing some of the Kyuubi's chakra to his right arm, causing the seal to burn away.

'If that is all you got, you better forfeit now.' Said Naruto, his eyes bleeding purple, as the usual blue mixed with red.

Unbeknownst to Naruto, this proved enough to make his foe concede, believing she had something sufficient to report back now, regardless of the results of the exam.

'I forfeit.' Said the Kunoichi, as Naruto's chakra faded away.

'Who are you?' Asked the Kunoichi.

'Shouldn't you introduce yourself first since you lost?' Countered Naruto.

'My name is Ajisai.' Said the girl.

'My name is Naruto Uzumaki.' Said Naruto, before walking back to his door.

Naruto breathed a small sigh of relief. He knew there were very few people in the exam who could actually beat him in a direct fight right now, but the very real risk of being eliminated by a trick of some sort was always possible. Naruto scrunched up his face and resolved to kick Sasuke in the head if he made it to the finals for causing him unnecessary stress.

'Guess I know what is coming next though.' Said Naruto with a grin, as the fourth door lit up.

'Fancy meeting the two of you here.' Said Naruto.

'You didn't really think I was going to lose to any of those brats. Not after I've had so much training disciplining one for so long.' Said the disguised Kushimaru.

'Exactly, I can carry anyone really.' Said the disguised Ameyuri.

'Well that's good, one of my teammates forfeited on me so I actually need this to get through, can you believe it?' Said Naruto, getting a chuckle from Ameyuri.

'Of course you would be the one of us to lose a battle. Ridiculous.' Commented Ameyuri.

'Well, at least killing is allowed, I think we need to do some, considering our opponents, old grudges and all.' Said Kushimaru.

Naruto looked ahead and saw the Rock team was their final challenge. Naruto didn't have any particularly strong feelings one way or another about killing the team, having not been involved with the conflicts between the Rock and Mist villages in the past.

'Ok, just one though.' Said Naruto.

'Do you really think it will be that easy to take us down?' Asked one of the Rock ninja, a girl with black hair and pink eyes.

'Yes.' Said Ameyuri.

'We should keep her alive so she can see how wrong she is, right?' Said Kushimaru.

'For once we agree.' Said Ameyuri.

The girl's two partners appeared rather experienced as well. The female teammate had a sword strapped to her back indicating some potential skill, but compared to the two beside him, Naruto doubted it would amount to anything. The male teammate could be summed up in one word: large. He was tall enough that Naruto, who was only a little over two metres in height currently, didn't have to tilt his head down to look him in the eye. If Naruto transformed though, he would need to look down slightly, but considering his height in that form, the man was still a behemoth.

'So, attack, defense, does that mean you have the tricky moves?' Asked Naruto, looking at the three, but directing his question to the pink-eyed girl.

'Wouldn't you like to know.' Retorted the girl.

'Not really, just makes the most sense. We're the same.' Said Naruto.

'So does that mean we need to take our counterparts?' Asked Ameyuri.

'Do whatever makes you happy.' Said Naruto.

'In that case, I'll get started.' Said Kushimaru, charging the large man.

'Wait, you are the defender of your team?' Asked his opponent.

'Of course.' Said Kushimaru, throwing the Nuibari at the large man, only for him to sidestep.

A prick on the back of his neck made him turn around and see the blade flying back at him. This time, the Rock ninja drew a kunai and knocked the needle aside, only for Kushimaru to flash to it and throw it back at him from a new angle. This time, the Rock ninja grabbed on to the string behind the blade, only for it to slice into his hand and draw blood, causing it to slide through with ease.

'First blood is mine.' Said Kushimaru, before giving an eerie chuckle.

'Why don't you try that again?' Taunted the Rock ninja.

'With pleasure.' Said Kushimaru, throwing his blade again, this time however, his opponent had encased his arm in rock and grabbed on to the wire and didn't let it go.

'Oh, that's a new one, no one has tried to hold the Nuibari before, but there is a reason for that.' Said Kushimaru, as he tugged on the wire.

As the various threads started to tighten and close in on the ninja, he spat out a wad of mud.

'Earth Style: Earth Golem jutsu.' Said the Rock ninja, right as the wires wrapped around him.

Instead of being rendered into many different sized chunks of flesh, the wire dug into the earthen structure, cutting deeply, but not entirely through, as the summoner poured a large amount of chakra into the creation, eventually halting the wire in place.

'Oh you are good, but it is too bad for the three of you that we have your counter, Rock ninja.' Said Kushimaru.

-line break-

At the same time Kushimaru was fighting, Ameyuri was in her own battle. The two Kunoichi clashed, blade striking against blade, causing Ameyuri's smile to widen.

'Oh yeah, you will make a great message.' Said Ameyuri.

'The hell I will. Earth Style: Landslide jutsu.' Said the Kunoichi, causing the ground to split and rise up before rushing at Ameyuri.

'That's it?' Asked Ameyuri, leaping over the wave of earth and sticking her feet to the roof.

'Not even close. Earth Style: Earth Dragon jutsu.' Followed up Ameyuri's opponent, turning the mudslide into a large dragon, which shot into the air.

'Call that a dragon.' Muttered Naruto, only to tilt his head to the side as a blob of rubber seemed to fly at his neck.

'Hmm, that almost looked like lava style jutsu.' Said Naruto, turning to regard his opponent with more scrutiny.

'Surprised huh? You should give up; one good hit and I'll have your head.' Taunted the pink-eyed girl.

'Really? Try me.' Said Naruto arrogantly.

His opponent charged at Naruto and made a set of hand signs at the same time, before launching the same jutsu, before following up with a quick water bullet. Naruto felt the blob hit him and felt it cling to his skin and clothes, before the water caused it to harden.

'That's pretty neat. Too bad I know the counter to lava jutsu.' Said Naruto, before a white mist rolled over his skin, dissolving the stone away.

His opponent, who had been rushing to slice his head off with a kunai, stumbled, before leaping backwards and throwing the kunai instead. Her eyes widened as the blade started to near Naruto, only to start rusting away, before melting away entirely.

'You see, lava is earth and fire in combination, but if you melt away the earth, the whole thing crumbles to dust, or ash if you want to get technical. I think I will keep an eye on you in the finals, you've given me some new ideas, which is rare from my opponents these days. Ameyuri, Kushimaru, tag.' Said Naruto.

Kushimaru gave a small laugh as Ameyuri appeared next to him and tapped his blade with hers, causing an electric current to run through the wire, destroying the rocky sentinel and causing the wire to tighten around its maker. As this happened, Kushimaru took his blade and threw it at Ameyuri's opponent, skewering her through the shoulder and embedding her into the wall. Kushimaru then charged the impaled ninja and punched them in the stomach, causing them to shake against the wall, the blade keeping them pinned. Kushimaru then yanked the blade out and quickly stabbed the wounded Kunoichi in the stomach, before wrenching it out again and allowing her to fall off the wall. Kushimaru quickly followed up with another stab through the leg this time, before a sharp tug pulled the blade out and dropped the Kunoichi to her knees. Still having the strength to fight, the Kunoichi drew a kunai and tried to stab Kushimaru's hand as he pulled his weapon back, only for the Nuibari to then be stabbed into her forearm, causing her to drop the kunai. Kushimaru then pulled the blade through before stabbing it into her other arm, bringing the two together into a prayer motion as he pulled the string. Another sharp tug and the Kunoichi was flat on her stomach on the floor, before the Nuibari was swiftly embedded in her back, puncturing a lung.

'Enough playing and just end it already.' Said Ameyuri, finding Kushimaru's sick machinations disturbing, even against an enemy.

'You aren't the boss of me.' Said Kushimaru, stabbing the blade into the Kunoichi's other lung, causing her to start wheezing as she gasped for air.

'Fine then, I'll do it for you.' Said Ameyuri, before letting an electric current run through her blades, which she then touched on the wire encircling Kushimaru's previous opponent, shocking him, but also sending a current through to the currently impaled Kunoichi, causing her to jolt and then go still.

'Such a boring kill. Why don't I revive her, she still has probably a minute of life left in her?' Teased Kushimaru.

In response, Ameyuri upped the voltage and touched the wire again, causing the male Rock ninja to scream as he was shocked unnecessarily, as the current carried through and fried the downed Rock Kunoichi.

'Ah, party-pooper.' Said Kushimaru, as he pulled out his blade.

'Well, with that taken care of, I think you should forfeit now, otherwise I'm afraid your other teammate is next.' Said Naruto.

'Do you really think we will forfeit after you murdered our comrade?' Shouted the pink-eyed girl, staring heatedly at Naruto.

'We… need to forfeit!' Shouted the wrapped-up Rock ninja.

'Why?' Shouted his teammate.

'We can't die here.' Said the man, before biting his lip and going silent.

'If you don't want to forfeit as well, we can skewer you as well.' Said Kushimaru, walking over to the girl.

'You should forfeit, or he really will skewer you.' Added Ameyuri, coming to stand beside Naruto.

'You heard them.' Said Naruto.

'Fine! We forfeit.' Said the despondent girl, before Ao's head appeared.

'The forfeit is accepted, please return to your rooms and bring your deceased teammate with you.' Said Ao.

'I would say it was nothing personal, but it kind of was.' Said Naruto with a shrug.

'I'll get you back for this.' Said the enraged Kunoichi.

Naruto tilted his head back to look at the girl.

'Doubt it.' Said Naruto, before they split off into their separate rooms.

-line break-

'So they finished, did they?' Asked Mei, as Ao briefed her on the outcome of the exams to date.

'Yes. Quite unfortunate that none of our actual Genin teams managed to make it through, but at least we have Naruto's team. I will definitely be speaking with the other Jounin about bringing their teams up to scratch though.' Reported Ao.

'Deaths?' Asked Mei.

'Just one. A Rock Kunoichi, killed by Naruto's team in the last round.' Said Ao.

'That's better than expected actually.' Commented Mei.

'It doesn't do our reputation as the Bloody Mist any favours, but I agree, it could have been worse.' Nodded Ao.

There was a knock on the door and Chojuro entered.

'You should wait to be called in before entering.' Chided Ao.

'I'm sorry, but the Kazekage and Hokage have almost arrived, and our scouts report the Raikage will be here in minutes.' Said Chojuro.

'And what of the Tsuchikage?' Asked Mei.

'Reportedly he will arrive tomorrow.' Said Chojuro.

'I see. Then let us prepare for their arrival. You may bring them here when they arrive.' Said Mei, earning a nod from Chojuro and a raised eyebrow from Ao.

'Are you sure it is wise to provoke them like that?' Asked Ao.

'We won't cower, the Mist of old is no more.' Said Mei.

'As you wish.' Said Ao, moving to stand beside the desk, as they waited for their guests to arrive.

-line break-

'This looks different than I remember.' Said Jiraiya.

'I suppose war does lead to a certain number of aesthetic changes.' Said Tsunade.

'Has the village changed so much?' Asked Gaara.

'I suppose it is hard to describe without having seen it yourself, but the Mist was a lawless bloody battlefield in the past. Corpses were stacked like firewood and burnt and there was as much blood as there was water in the streets.' Said Jiraiya.

'That sounds like the village was at war with itself.' Commented Temari.

'It was. I'm honestly surprised they've recovered so much already.' Said Tsunade.

The two groups had met up towards the end of their journey and decided to combine for the final stretch.

'I guess it goes to show the difference a person can make.' Said Tsunade.

Gaara nodded, also understanding Tsunade's implication. As they had walked, Gaara had expressed his interest in the rumours he had heard. With Jiraiya validating them, Gaara had no doubt that there was a single person behind Mist's revitalisation. Nearing the entrance to the village, a man with a large, bandaged lump on his back, stood waiting for them.

'Greetings Lady Hokage and Lord Kazekage. Greetings to you as well Jiraiya of the Sannin and Temari of the Sand. Please allow me to take you to the Mizukage. I am afraid we will need to move at once as I will return to retrieve the Raikage shortly.' Said Chojuro.

Jiraiya raised an eyebrow, while Tsunade narrowed her eyes. Gaara and Temari didn't react, but noted that Jiraiya and Tsunade looked dissatisfied.

'I guess the Mizukage was too busy to greet us in person.' Commented Jiraiya offhandedly.

'I do apologise, the penultimate stage of the Chunin Exams just ended, and Lady Mizukage was receiving a debrief and beginning preparations for the finals, they are only three days away after all.' Said Chojuro.

'Three days? That's not a lot of time to prepare.' Said Temari.

'At times you will find your back against the wall and not have time to prepare. That was a way of life for us in the past. Three days is actually quite generous, given you will rarely have this much time to prepare for combat in a life-or-death situation.' Countered Chojuro, before knocking on the door to the Mizukage office.

'Enter.' Said Mei.

Chojuro opened the door and gestured for the group of four to enter the room. Jiraiya seemed to flare his nostrils for a second once inside.

'No wonder he didn't want to come back.' Commented Jiraiya, causing Tsunade to scoff.

'Behave.' Said Tsunade, getting a sigh from Jiraiya.

'Welcome honoured guests. I am glad to see you managed to arrive safely.' Said Mei.

'It is nice to finally meet you in person, Lady Mizukage.' Said Tsunade.

'The same to you, Lady Hokage, and you, Lord Kazekage.' Replied Mei.

'It is an honour.' Said Gaara, causing Mei to smile.

'Such polite manners and from one so young.' Said Mei.

'Lord Kazekage may be young, however, he has the entirety of the Hidden Sand behind him.' Said Temari.

'Of course. I only envy such manners and wish it was reflected in others. I am sure you will understand soon enough.' Said Mei.

Another knock was heard on the door.

'Enter.' Repeated Mei.

The door opened and in walked a large muscle-bound man, with a more relaxed partner beside him.

'What is the meaning of this Mizukage, sending a lap-dog to pick up the Raikage.' Said A.

'You see what I mean? Lord Kazekage sets an excellent example. Well Lord Raikage, I am afraid the Chunin Exams latest event just finished, so regrettably I was unable to attend to you in person. I am sure you will be pleased though, two of your own shinobi made it through to the finals.' Said Mei.

A seemed surprised at this piece of information.

'You are most welcome to watch the matches at your own leisure of course, they have all been recorded and are available for viewing in your private suites. I do ask that you do not bother any of the combatants still in the competition, as we would prefer if they were not advised if they will already be promoted or not yet, as it would do no good to remove their motivation.' Said Mei.

'Darui, let's go.' Said A, turning around and exiting the room.

'Sorry.' Said Darui with a small bow, which Mei waved off.

'Chojuro, please guide them to their suite, it would be no good to have the Raikage stomping through the village untethered.' Said Mei, to which Chojuro nodded.

'I do apologise for the unpleasant interaction. The Raikage is well known for his short fuse.' Said Mei with a smile.

'And what are you known for?' Asked Tsunade.

'Me? I don't think I have a reputation just yet, perhaps I am known for my tenacity to lead a village out of war, I can't really say.' Said Mei.

'By yourself?' Asked Jiraiya.

'Oh no, I have never claimed to be the saviour of this village, I have always had allies by my side.' Said Mei.

'Does the name Naruto Uzumaki mean something to you?' Asked Gaara, causing all in the room to look at the Kazekage.

'If I may ask a question before providing my answer, does Naruto Uzumaki mean something to you?' Countered Mei.

'He is my friend.' Said Gaara simply, causing Mei to hum.

'It is certainly strange for the Kazekage to say he is looking for his friend to the Mizukage.' Said Mei.

'I see, respectfully, I will take my leave and find him myself. Come Temari.' Said Gaara, before turning to leave.

Mei didn't say anything as the two left and was left staring at the door.

'Still so polite that boy.' Commented Mei.

'So you don't actually know where he is then.' Said Tsunade.

'He is in the village, he is in the exams, that is what I know.' Countered Mei.

'Fine, we can also find him ourselves. The real question is, will the exams be interrupted by any non-participants?' Said Jiraiya.

'I think you will find those who are not welcome in the Mist do not stay for very long.' Said Mei.

'Works for me.' Said Jiraiya, sharing a look with Tsunade.

'I must admit, I was expecting more of a reaction from you, Jiraiya of the Sannin.' Said Mei.

'I wouldn't mess with Naruto's plaything. From what I understand, he was the master of pranks in his youth.' Said Jiraiya.

'Plaything? Whatever gave you that idea?' Asked Mei.

'Master's intuition.' Said Jiraiya.

'All right, that's enough of that, I need to get something to eat and drink now before we go searching.' Said Tsunade.

'Fine. One last thing though, you should probably apply chakra residue cleaning seals to this office, it practically oozes chakra.' Said Jiraiya, before the two left.

'Well Ao, what do you think?' Asked Mei.

'They won't take him back.' Said Ao.

'I doubt they would be able to, but do you think he will join them?' Asked Mei.

'You won't like my answer.' Said Ao.

'I see. Guess we will just have to wait and see how the exams play out.' Said Mei.