(Author Notes) Hey there. I am Riyuto-san, and I hope you come to enjoy this story as it progresses. I honestly meant to sit down and begin on the sequel to one of my other works, Bonds of Time, but now I find myself writing this. While I do plan on beginning it soon, I wanted to tell this tale that has been on my mind for years now.
I'll try to keep an update schedule for my stories. I plan on having 3 running simultaneously for a short while, on top of writing my own novel. In a way, this is practice for me and a chance to improve my writing style. That is why I ask for your honest reviews at the end of the chapters.
This story takes place after the war. However, the war didn't go exactly the same I guess, as Sasuke has been successfully brought back and no longer harbors hatred for Konoha. Akatsuki is completely defeated, and there is a sort of peace in the ninja world right now.
Okay, now that that's all out of the way, let's delve into my newest concoction. Hopefully I don't mess this up.
Disclaimer: Riyuto-san does not own Naruto. You could probably fill a book with things he doesn't own, anyways.
A Cursed Blessing
Chapter 1: The Orphan Suzuka
The sun rose to greet a beautiful, cloudless day. A lone carriage strolled down the dirt road at a casual pace. They were making good time, and the travelers would reach their destination soon.
Inside the horse-drawn carriage sat two elderly women on one side, and a small girl on the other. The child had short azure blue hair and a soft face and hazel eyes. She was dressed in purple jacket.
"Not too much longer, and we'll be rid of her." Said one of the older women. There was a little excitement in her tone.
"We shouldn't talk about her like she's not here, Alza." Said the other woman.
Alza glanced at the child. "Megumi, you know as well as I do that this child doesn't care."
"You're right." Megumi conceded. "I'm honestly going to be a little sad to part with her."
"Are you mad, sister?" Alza snapped. "Do you know of the misfortune she has brought onto our village? How many lives were lost? Have you forgotten Terumi?"
Megumi flinched. "Yes, you are right. I meant to speak of the village we are taking her to, not being sad to be rid of her."
Alza nodded. "Yes, but it's not our problem anymore. We must put this behind us."
The entire time the two women spoke, the child stared down at the floor. Her face betrayed no emotion, nor did it acknowledge the passengers she rode with.
It wasn't long before the carriage came to a stop. Alza and Megumi beamed at one another and exited the carriage. They ushered the small child out of the carriage and pushed her in front of them.
They came up to the man who steered the horses speaking with the gatekeeper. He gestured to the women, and the elder ladies conversed with him. Alza pointed at the child, and the gatekeeper looked down at her and nodded. He hollered at someone to open the gates.
"Welcome to Konohagakure." He said.
Alza and Megumi entered the Hokage's office with the small child in tow. They each greeted Tsunade in earnest before taking seats before her desk. They sent the child to a chair along the wall. She wordlessly obeyed.
"I trust your trip was safe?" Tsunade asked, taking a seat at her desk.
"It was very uneventful, thanks to the escort you provided. Many thanks, Hokage-sama." Alza said.
Tsunade glanced over at the child. "I take it that is the child mentioned in your letter?"
The two women nodded. "Yes." Alza said. "We fear there is no place for her in our village that is safe."
"In your letter, you never specified the reasons for her safety being an issue. You addressed a problem placing her, and noted several attempts to do so have had her permanently shunned from many villages." The Hokage said.
"Yes," Megumi spoke quickly. "We have no explanations either, Hokage-sama, else we would have told you of them earlier. The child is a mystery. Many people have died after taking her in, and we are not sure why. We have been in search of help in identifying the source of the problem, which is one of the reasons we brought her to your village."
"Do you think there is some sort of jutsu attached to this child?"
"It is a possibility. We have heard tales of the amazing people of Konohagakure. Surely someone can identify her problem." Alza said.
"You said one reason?" Tsunade asked.
Megumi nodded. "We can no longer watch over her. Too many incidents have transpired, too many lives lost because of her."
Alza shot her sister a nasty look that warned her to be silent. "My sister means that we have no means to take care of the child. We have brought her documentation; we just need your approval to accept her as a member of the Konoha Orphanage." She reached for her purse and produced a folder of papers, which she handed to Tsunade.
The Hokage combed through the papers, glancing over each one briefly.
"Are you sure you wish for her to be put into the orphanage?" She asked. "I'm sure with these credentials we could find her a family quite easily."
"No!" The two women gushed. Tsunade nearly jumped out of her seat. They composed themselves and cleared throats. "Our apologies." Alza said.
"Yes. You see, bad things happen to the people who have tried to…adopt her…in the past." Megumi said.
Tsunade's brow narrowed in thought . She looked over at the small girl still sitting in the chair. Usually, a small child would be fidgeting in the chair or looking around. She seemed determined to stare at the floor, as if it fascinated her to no end.
She rose from her seat and went over to the girl. She knelt down so she was eye level with her.
"Hello, my name is Tsunade. I am the Hokage of this village. What is your name?" She asked sweetly.
She waited for her to respond, but it never came.
"Her name is Suzuka." Said Alza, folding her arms across her chest and sighing. "In all the time I've known that girl, she has never uttered a single word."
"Never?" Asked Tsunade. Alza shook her head. "Is it from some sort of trauma?" She asked.
Tsunade heard arguing coming from the next room. The male voice was protesting, and she recognized it all too well. Before she could rise to try and quell the voices, the door swung open and Uzumaki Naruto came through it, followed by a protesting Shizune.
"Obaa-chan!" Exclaimed Naruto. She rose to her feet and sighed.
"I'm so sorry, Tsunade-sama." Cried Shizune, head hung low in defeat.
"What is it Naruto?" Tsunade asked irritant. She stole a glance at her frightened guests and shook her head. "If you hadn't noticed, I'm in the middle of something."
"Whatever it is can wait!" He exclaimed. He seemed a little peeved about something, and she had a feeling she knew what it was.
"How rude." Alza chided, scowling at Naruto.
Tsunade sighed. "What is it Naruto?"
"How come you let Sasuke-teme, Sakura-chan, and Kakashi-sensei go on a super cool mission without me?" He demanded like a small child denied ice cream after dinner.
She rolled her eyes. "Naruto, you're undertaking Hokage training. I thought you'd want to be here learning how to do my job when I'm ready to pass it on to you rather than wasting time on a mission."
Naruto's expression changed from angry to understanding to defeat. "Yeah, I get that. But…it would have been the first mission with Team 7 fully together again."
Tsunade finally understood what his problem was. He had been looking forward to his original team being together again to go on missions. Since Sasuke's return after the war, there hadn't been many missions to go on together. He had missed his chance today.
"There will be other missions, Naruto. But isn't Hokage your dream? You could show a little more enthusiasm." She advised.
He folded his arms in defeat and averted his gaze.
"He's going to be the Hokage one day?" Asked Megumi skeptically. She exchanged a glance with her sister that showed pity for the village.
Tsunade smiled. "Yes, but not for a very long time."
Naruto was about to retort, but his comeback died on his lips when he finally noticed Suzuka staring up at him with no emotion. When their eyes met, she jumped in her seat and resumed gazing down at the floor.
"Hey, what's your name?" He asked. He crouched down and tilted his head. When she didn't answer, he repeated his question. He tried a third time, a little louder, but she completely ignored him. "What gives?" He asked, a little irked.
"Suzuka doesn't talk, Naruto." Tsunade informed.
"She deaf and mute or something?" He asked, staring at the girl like she would give up her secrets if he kept doing so.
Alza shook her head. "No, she just chooses not to talk. No one knows why. It's just the way she is."
"Huh…." He muttered.
Tsunade sighed and whacked Naruto across the back of his head. "Leave the girl alone, Naruto." She ordered. He rose and muttered something under his breath. Tsunade returned to her desk and looked the paperwork over once again. She pulled out her stamp and marked the appropriate areas. Once she finished, she handed the papers to Alza.
"With this, she is officially a ward of Konoha, a member of our village. Take the papers to the orphanage and drop her off. I'll have someone escort you." Tsunade said. She smiled at Shizuka, who still didn't acknowledge her. "Welcome home, Suzuka."
Alza took the papers, she and her sister rose and bowed to Tsunade and thanked her. They ushered Shizuka out the door, and she followed obediently out the door.
"Poor kid." Muttered Naruto.
Tsunade approached Naruto. She rolled up a sheet of paper and whacked him again on the head. "Poor kid? You better worry about yourself, Naruto."
"What? What did I do?" He asked.
"You interrupted my meeting. You better be prepared for your punishment."
"P-p-punishment?" He stammered.
"You're training today is going to be so severe, you'll wish you were never born!"
Naruto strolled down the streets of Konoha, gripping his right wrist in pain. "Damn Obaa-chan. I'm going to get carpel tunnel for sure because of you."
He shook his wrist and let his mind wander from his hurt wrist. It was nearing dinner time, and Tsunade hadn't let him have a lunch break. As if on cue, his stomach growled loudly. He patted his belly.
"No sweat. I'll just go get some ramen and I'll be good as new." Just the thought of Ichiraku's ramen made him even hungrier. Determined, he began sprinting in the direction of the ramen stand.
Halfway there, the smell of smoke began to fill the air. He paused where he stood and glanced around. He didn't see any fire anywhere near, but he definitely smelled it. It definitely wasn't a coal fire. It smelled different. He jumped up on top of a building for a better look.
He spotted black smoke rising a short distance away. Thoughts of food disappeared as he leaped from rooftop to rooftop in the direction of the smoke. He found the source of the smoke easily. It was the village's orphanage.
The orphanage was engulfed in crimson flames. People gathered in the streets in front of it. Women screamed as children cried. He saw some men yelling for help, but didn't recognize any of them as shinobi. Was he the first ninja on the scene?
He suddenly remembered Tsunade mentioning the little girl Suzuka was going to live at the orphanage today. Last time he saw her, she was heading for this place. Was she still inside? Were there other kids inside too?
He scanned the street. He saw a few children, but knew there should have been way more gathered. He heard women scream that there were still people inside.
That sealed it. He slipped into sage mode and jumped down onto the street. He created several sage powered shadow clones and they all rushed past the pedestrians and burst into the building through the door.
"Scatter and save everyone you can!" Naruto ordered his clones. They all dispersed, and he ran through the building. He checked every room he came across, taking great care to avoid the fire. He covered his mouth and had to squint as he searched. It was definitely hot, but nothing he wasn't used to.
The fire was spreading rapidly. Beams of wood collapsed as the fire crackled. Using his sage eyes, he was able to detect the chakra of several people trapped in a room. He broke through the caved in door and scooped up several children. He rushed through the path with least flames and broke through to the outside.
He saw his clones coming and going, dropping off survivors and rushing back into the building. He and his clones repeated this for a few minutes. Each time he went in, Naruto could feel that the building would collapse soon. What had started this fire in the first place?
When he thought everyone had been evacuated, he dispelled his clones and looked the building over. He concentrated, searching for chakra signatures.
His heart stopped beating when he noticed a very faint chakra source. He looked around, and didn't see Suzuka among the children being attended to. What if she was still in there? He wasn't going to stop to wonder. He rushed into the building again, despite cries that it was going to come down any minute.
The signature was on the top floor in the very back of the room. Naruto rushed up the stairs. A large chunk of ceiling came crashing down, and he had to dive forward to avoid being scorched and buried alive. He chocked it up to good luck as he watched it smash into the staircase, forcing them to collapse under the impact. He turned and located a patch around flames to the last survivor.
As he ran he couldn't help but think. Why was he so worried about this little girl? He hardly knew her, hadn't even said a word to him. Maybe it was because he saw a little of his old self in her. Maybe it was pity. Maybe because she was now a member of his village, and she was to be protected at all costs.
Whatever it was, he wasn't going to let this person die.
"Suzuka!" He called. The floor about gave out under his feet as he ran down the hallway. He dove forward, tucked and rolled. He didn't dare glance back. He rounded the corner and made a mad dash down the burning hallway. Why was she so far back?
Naruto reached the door and tried the door handle. It was scalding hot. He pulled his hand back in pain and tried blowing on it in vain. He kicked the door down in one kick. He scanned the room quickly.
The two women from earlier were buried underneath wooden debris aflame on opposite sides of the room. He knew they were dead when he could see no chakra. Suzuka sat in the center of the burning room. She was still expressionless, but she acknowledged Naruto's grand entrance.
Her small pink shirt was burnt in certain places, but other than that you would not think she was in the middle of a burning building. Her knees were pulled up to rest her chin. Did she plan on dying here?
Not on Naruto's watch!
He rushed forward and scooped her up in his arms. She didn't struggle, didn't even cling to him in terror. What was wrong with this kid?
He gave her a reassuring grin. "Don't you worry Suzuka. I'll protect you no matter what!"
Suzuka's eyes widened as tears began to flow. "No!" She screamed.
A blue light flooded the burning room. She screamed loudly. Naruto felt a surge of overwhelming confusion. Why was the room blue?
He looked down at her and noticed the blue light was coming from her small body. It pulsed around her, and spread throughout the room with a mighty rush of wind. The flames vanished immediately, but the blue light still lingered.
She squirmed in his arms, still screaming. He put her down and watched her. She fell to her knees crying.
"What's going on?" He asked desperately. He looked around the room, wondering if the fire was still engulfing the rest of the building.
The blue light began to glow brighter on her back. He thought he saw a blue flower glowing through her shirt before fading. He felt a tingle rush up his back. He jumped at the feeling, and looked around defensively. He didn't see or sense anything behind him. What was that feeling, then?
The blue light faded. Only the sounds of creaking wood remained.
He quickly went to the door and glanced around. The fire was out here too. There wasn't a trace of flame anywhere, though the building's foundation would probably still give way any moment now.
Not wanting to tempt fate. Naruto ran over to Suzuka, scooped her up in his arms, and took off running to escape the building.
(Author Notes) So how was it? Not too bad, I hope. Considering it's just the first chapter, I don't think it's too bad.
So what happens next?
5 Reviews or no update (Basically, reviews motivate me to write more. By asking for 5, I like to know people are reading. Understandable, right?)
This is the un-beta version of the chapter. This message will disappear when it's been grammar checked. I write late at night, I'm bound to make some mistakes.