After their victory in Ame, the Shobikou nin felt like celebrating and had a small party in the fox village. They were all in a good mood since this meant they only had one more victory to claim. Defeating Namikaze's army and taking down the Yondaime once and for all. They knew it was going to be tough, but taking down an internationally infamous organization was a hell of a morale boost and right now they felt invincible.

At the moment Kushina and Hinata were away from the party and choosing to relax in one of the territory's hot springs. The hot water felt really nice after being exposed to Ame's perpetual downfall. They weren't alone, they were joined by Anko, Shizune, Hanabi, Haku, Yakumo, and Ino who also preferred a warm bath over anything else right then.

"How's your arm Hanabi? Is the hot water hurting you?" Hinata asked.

Hanabi shook her head. "No, the skin's still a little tender but this isn't killing me."

"Good to see the treatment's working." Shizune noted, having been a part of helping the young girl regrow her formerly petrified skin.

"Does this mean I can help in the next fight?" Hanabi asked.

Hinata shook her head. "No, the next fight will probably be the most intense one yet, and you're too out of practice to be of any real help."

"But I trained in that cell all that time." Hanabi insisted.

"Self taught training and against no opposition. Sorry, but that's not going to be good enough for a war. You're going to sit this out. Period." Hinata declared.

"Do you think the next fight will be the last one?" Ino asked. "Who else is left but the Yondaime himself?"

"His army should be the only one left, but it's not going to be easy. Fortunately Kumo is already on their way to take him down, and I don't know what Kiri is doing. It's not impossible for them to succeed, but Namikaze would have made sure he could take down the Raikage by now. Especially after losing Konoha itself to Kumo years ago. Both sides are going to hurt each other quite a bit, and either one could lose." Kushina thought out loud.

"Shouldn't we be helping them? I mean, isn't Kumo our ally in this war?" Haku asked.

"Kumo has been helpful, but the Raikage is opportunistic and likely has his own agenda." Kushina countered. "After all, he tried to force the jinchuuriki to join him in the fight, which on paper sounds smart. But that's also bringing the bijuu right into Namikaze's hands. That tactic has already been done, so Namikaze is expecting it again. Even without Akatsuki, I wouldn't be surprised if the bastard had some plan to take them down if they fought him again."

"Considering we found a jinchuuriki captive in Ame, I think that's a very reasonable caution to have." Hinata agreed.

"So what? Is the plan now to keep the jinchuuriki out of the war? What about Kuramamaru? As far as Namikaze knows, he's still one." Shizune asked.

"The best way to fight Namikaze is to avoid doing what he's expecting. It's how we've been able to last this long against him. If he's expecting the jinchuuriki, the best counter is to keep them away but make him think they're about to show up any minute. Make him expect one thing so he won't see another thing coming." Kushina explained.

Anko sighed and stretched her arms. "Ugh, I can't wait for all this to be over with."

"Same here, I'd like to get back to a normal life." Yakumo agreed. "Or at least a better life than the one I used to have."

"Rebuilding Konoha will be tough, but better than constantly fighting." Ino noted.

"Why would you rebuild Konoha?" Hinata asked.

Ino blinked, not expecting such a question. "Isn't that what we're fighting for? To reclaim our home away from corrupt leaders?"

"I'm fighting for Kuramamaru-kun and me, so we can have a life together. What are you fighting for?"

"A home where I know the leaders don't expect us to throw away our lives to make themselves better off."

The two kunoichi looked at each other and then Hinata nodded with a smile. "Me too."

"Then why have a problem with rebuilding Konoha?" Yakumo asked.

"Does the world really need more ninja in it? After all, doesn't every problem we have link back to the ninja system that put Namikaze in power?"

"What do you expect us to do when the war's over? Stop being ninja?" Ino asked.

"Are you saying that none of you have any other skills?" Hinata asked back. "Ino you have a passion for fashion, why not design clothes? Shizune you're already a qualified medic, Anko can go work for the daimyo if she wants, and Yakumo there's always a market for art. None of you are incapable of having other jobs."

The women looked at her in surprise for her suggestion. "But Land of Fire will still need an army."

"Why? Land of Wind and Land of Earth just lost theirs to Namikaze, and Land of Lightning will take some hits before this is over. Not to mention Land of Water's army is barely a threat by itself. Honestly when this war is over shinobi armies will barely exist anymore and need to be rebuilt from scratch. And thanks to four wars in quick succession, is it really worth it to keep shinobi around just because it's tradition?"

"An entire culture and lifestyle can't just cease to exist." Anko pointed out.

"Then why are we fighting Namikaze if the culture he's exploiting can't be erased?" Hinata asked back.

"It's better to learn from the mistakes of the past than to pretend they never happened." Shizune stated.

"I repeat, four wars. People aren't learning."

"Let's change the subject." Kushina insisted, and everyone agreed.

Namikaze was not happy. While he had defeated Iwa and acquired a new jinchuuriki, in his absence to restrain Han, apparently someone had attacked his army with lava that actually killed his Edo forces along with his living forces. This was not supposed to happen and he was in severe disbelief, but after an extensive headcount he had to confront the reality of it. Right now, Namikaze's army was less than half the size it was before he fought Iwa.

'Where are you, you bastards?' He rued, searching everywhere, convinced that the Uzumaki were out there watching and waiting for their next chance to strike. He was in the process of relocating his army to flatter open land to make it harder for any enemy to sneak up on him.

As a result he completely overlooked a hawk flying overhead that flew northeast and eventually landed on the arm of a Kumo shinobi. The hawk then did as trained and signaled where the target was, then the shinobi informed A.

"Perfect, Namikaze will be ours before sunset. Everyone, take some rest for an hour, then we go to war!"

The Kumo nin rallied in excitement and support.

"But sir, what about the Uzumaki?" Samui asked.

"They got the enemy into position, it's our job to finish him off. We don't need the Uzumaki for that. Now be sure to get the sacred treasure ready. I have a feeling we're going to need it."

"Yes sir." Samui agreed before going off.

'There's no escaping this time you yellow bastard.' A thought, picturing a bruised and beaten chibi Namikaze waving a white flag while a chibi version of himself laughing victoriously.

Kuramamaru was sitting along in the forest of Kuo, looking like he was deep in thought. He had always liked coming here to think, this place was usually isolated save for those he trusted the most, making it sort of the replacement for the top of the hokage monument for him. Not to mention this place was essentially where his life took a turn for the better, so coming here added some extra comfort and reassurance.

'C'mon, what is it I'm not getting?' He thought, trying to block out all distraction.

For a few days, he had been getting a nagging thought in the back of his mind. Like a barely-remembered memory begging to come back. It all started after he had mentioned to Hinata about the fight in Wave being the end to their war against Namikaze, and had persisted since. But after the duel with Sasuke it was like having a song stuck in his head but he couldn't recall a single lyric.

'Ashura, are you there? Is this you trying to tell me something?'

Kuramamaru had never really tried to make contact with his past life before, at least not often enough to recall the last time if there had been a last time. Most of the time it had been Ashura coming to him, usually with a test for the rinnegan. Lately it was like this ancient spirit was trying to reconnect with him, but something was getting in the way.

'Maybe it's because Indra's reincarnation is gone, Ashura has to lay low for the rest of this lifetime.' Kuramamaru thought, then sardonically chuckled. 'Gotta admit, I'm surprised it was Sasuke. I knew it wasn't going to be someone on my side, but I still didn't think it was going to be the teme. Makes me wonder if Sakura was the reincarnation of Indra's wife, though that would be weird. Oh well, hopefully they'll both be better people in the next one. But for now I need to work on this lifetime and this crisis.'

He frowned and looked like he was trying to concentrate harder, which honestly just looked like he was on the toilet dealing with something his body didn't want to deal with. But nothing was coming. After a while he sighed and opened his eyes.

"Fine, you don't want to talk to me? You don't care about my enemy? Only yours? How does that make you any better than Indra? You told me that peace would come when people try to connect with each other. And now you're refusing to connect to me anymore? Because you got what you needed so screw me? How are you any different than Indra you sanctimonious sack of-?"

He was cut off by his vision fading and soon finding himself in a meadow made out of aurora, and there before him was Ashura. And he did not look too happy.

"I am nothing like Indra. Just like you are nothing like Sasuke."

"And yet you weren't responding." Kuramamaru told him.

"You shouldn't be dependent on me to solve things for you Kuramamaru. I've given you help, but I can't win this war for you."

"I'm not asking you to. But I know you've been thinking of something since we got rid of Sasuke. At least you quieted down when we went after Akatsuki, but now you're at it again. What is it you want to say?"

Ashura paused for a bit, as if he knew what was about to come wasn't going to be good.

"You shouldn't fight Namikaze."


"I'm not finished. You shouldn't fight him directly. As in one on one. He'll be expecting that. Hell, he'll be counting on it."

"You think I don't know that?" Kuramamaru asked.

"And yet you still intend to do it. Is it because you're the only one who can kill him? Or is it because you want to be the one that will kill him?" Ashura asked back.

Kuramamaru made a fist. "Every horrible thing in my life leads back to him. I have a right to be the one that puts this problem to an end once and for all."

Ashura crossed his arms. "Now you sound just like Sasuke."

Kuramamaru grit his teeth.

"Think about it. Didn't you once say that if Sasuke really cared about avenging his clan he'd be smart about it? He should kill from a distance like Haku or trap his target like Shikamaru or even poison him or kill him in his sleep like Anko? Anything but a one-on-one fight just to prove he could win in one? And yet you're planning to do exactly that with your father. If you can give me one good reason why that isn't just another way to say 'Because I want to', I'll take back what I said."

"It's part of the plan. He won't resist going after me. That's how we'll get him in position so that we can truly take him down." Kuramamaru insisted.

Ashura rolled his eyes. "So your plan for victory involves you being bait. And you think this is a good idea?"

"Do you have a better one?"

"Yes, just stay in the summons realm. Namikaze is mortal and will die eventually and-"

"NO!" Kuramamaru shouted, silencing the son of the sage. "You know damn well that if I did that I'd be condemning the human world to suffer under his tyranny!"

"Since when have you cared about the world?" Ashura asked. "From day one this has been about you and the people you knew. You've been happy to let strangers suffer with your enemies."

"What about Shizune and Anko? They were strangers and I gave them the chance to change sides."

"Because they were useful to you."

"What the fuck do you want from me Ashura? Are you expecting me to be perfect? A saint? Someone who seeks peace instead of war? I want peace, but I can't get it until this war is over and I can't just pretend the war already is! I get that you prefer the nonviolent approach, but what do you expect me to do? Hug Namikaze and ask to be his friend?"

"No, but what about after the war? Will you help restore the society he sought out to destabilize and conquer? Or will your allies be left on their own? The allies who will make your victory possible, will you help them after you've gotten your prize?"

"I'll help them to a point, but I will not become their hokage. And you know that they don't want me as their hokage either. We have a common enemy and we work well together, but that doesn't mean they're my friends."

"That, that right there is the problem!" Ashura proclaimed, pointing at the former jinchuuriki. "You've had years with these people. You've shared your home with them, you helped them learn of the threats they were blind to, but aside from Hinata you have not made friends with any of them. You said you were afraid that you'd end up becoming someone who had nothing to live for but the next enemy to fight, well what have you done to make friends instead of mere allies?"

Kuramamaru was surprised by this question, and could not bring himself to respond.

"This, Kuramamaru, is why you must not be so determined to fight Namikaze. I know you want this war to end soon and I know you're willing to risk your life to do it, but if you keep making this about you, then what will stop those you now call allies from seeing you as their next enemy? You didn't bring them to Shobikou because you wanted to save them, but because you wanted to hurt Namikaze. You denied Sasuke and Sakura a chance to change sides because you deemed them early on to be a lost cause. You saved the other jinchuuriki but have not spared a thought for the villages they came from, even if it could have prepared them for Namikaze's arrival too. The truth is Kuramamaru, you are no hero. And until you are willing to fight for more than just yourself and Hinata, you will ultimately be no different than Namikaze. You'll just have a different goal than him."

Before Kuramamaru could speak, the vision faded and he found himself back in Kuo. For a time, he just sat there staring ahead of himself, trying to comprehend everything. With only one conclusion, he took a deep breath, got up, and went back to the human residences of Shobikou. One of the things he saw was Shikamaru trying to play shogi with Konohamaru.

"Hey guys." He greeted, drawing their attention. Right away he could see that in their eyes they still all had a small amount of fear for him, but he had always though that was because of his connection to Kyuubi. Now, he had a better idea of why they still did not trust him.

"Is anything wrong?" Konohamaru asked.

"No, nothing's wrong. I just wanted to know if I could play the winner."

Shikamaru blinked, not expecting this. "Do you know how to play?"

"I'm not the best. Personally I prefer go, but I'm not ignorant on this game."

"Udon has a go board, you could ask him." Konohamaru offered.

Kuramamaru shook his head. "In that case I'll just watch. Is that alright?"

Shikamaru was hesitant to answer, but Konohamaru nodded. So the fox boy sat down and watched their game, trying to converse when given the chance. By the end, all three felt the experience had not been a bad one.

Evening came, and the Kumo army ambushed Namikaze's army of the living and the dead. Kumo's army had never been afraid of diving directly into the battlefield and attempting to overwhelm the opponent with sheer brute force. So they charged in, jutsu blazing and kunai flying, intending to take an early lead against a surprised opponent and keep the lead in a short curbstomp battle.

Namikaze's army proved them wrong. This would be no curbstomp.

Kenjutsu did little against an opponent that felt no pain and had no blood to bleed. Lightning was little more than an obstacle to the undead. Genjutsu was useless, and taijutsu just made you vulnerable to what they could do to you. Darui and the Storm Release users were putting up the best fight with their ability to target their opponents and hinder them by damaging their legs, but that was just buying the rest of Kumo time.

Namikaze and the still living were waiting in the back, letting the Edo forces take the brunt of the first wave for them. The Edo forces did struggle a little, but the Kumo nin were wearing themselves out.

'Where is the Raikage? I know he's coming for me. The big ape wouldn't turn down the chance to face me even if his head was cut off.' Namikaze thought, eyeing the battlefield.

"Hokage-sama, the jinchuuriki haven't been deployed." One of the jounin informed.

"No shit, I have eyes like you do. They must be saving those this time."

"How will we take them down this time?" Tsume asked, aching to get in a fight.

"Kumo themselves will provide me the means I need, once I find them. There's no way they didn't bring what I know they have."

Off in the distance hidden in the trees there was Roshi, observing the war. After seeing the damage he had done to Namikaze's unnatural army, he had carefully followed from behind to see where they'd go next. He was unsure how he had avoided being noticed, but there was no way Namikaze was playing dumb. He was just one man, a jinchuuriki but Namikaze had the numbers advantage and would never act like he was afraid of fighting one man. Especially after what he did to Han.

'If I attack now, Kumo's forces will get caught in the crossfire. While that's not completely unacceptable, I'll only have one chance to catch them by surprise again and this time they'll know to get away immediately. I have to wait for Namikaze to be vulnerable too, or it'll be me taken hostage this time.'

Back with the Kumo nin, A was plowing through the zombie nin like they were made of paper. He was more annoyed by the endless armada than deterred by it.

"Raikage-sama, perhaps we should use the secret weapon against this horde rather than-" Samui tried to get in.

"No!" A protested, ripping yet another Edo nin to pieces. "We only have one shot at it with the element of surprise. We save it for the hokage. Not these mooks."

"These 'mooks' aren't stopping anytime soon, but we're running out of chakra and stamina." Karui argued.

"She's right sir. We have to use it before you exhaust your chakra. Eliminating these creatures would be wiser." Omoi advised.

"I said I'm saving it for the Yellow Flash!" A insisted, busting more Edo heads. "Get it in position so that I can use it!"

Omoi sighed. "You heard him. Alert Darui."

Samui nodded and left, getting around some regenerating Edo shinobi. She found Darui with other Storm Release users trying to find any way to make the undead stay dead. Vaporizing the head, blasting the chests, bifercating them, anything, but it was only keeping them from getting back in one piece.

"Raikage-sama says get the you-know-what ready and near the hokage." Samui told Darui.

"And where is the hokage?" He asked, to which Samui just shrugged. "Just my luck."

"I'll try to narrow it down." One of the Raisotsu said, quickly doing a summoning and thus bringing a large stag beetle into the battlefield. "Find a man with Konoha's emblem and likely wearing a lot of yellow."

The beetle took off without a word, flying around and above the combat. It went away from it all, trying to find a place where the fighting was minimal so it would have a better view, as well as higher for the same reason. After a bit it noticed a cluster of humans holding back from the fight, so it went there. It managed to see numerous ninja seemingly in wait but not hiding, just observing from a distance from a higher altitude than the battle, and indeed one of them was proudly wearing yellow. So it turned back and got back to its summoner before signaling the direction.

"That way." The Raisotsu told Darui, pointing towards the hills.

"Great, Konoha's waiting for us to tire ourselves out. Either we start dying off or some of us go to them, and either way he has the advantage. Don't we have anything that can distract the enemy?"

"I was saving this, but we might not have a choice." The Raisotsu said before signaling to more of his clansmen, who nodded in response. Collectively they all summoned more beetles, with two the size of tigers, who all flew off towards the living Konoha nin.

Namikaze's forces obviously noticed the beetles coming their way and several shinobi were eager to get in a fight, so they were allowed to fight back. Hitting the smaller beetles was easy for those skilled with kunai and shuriken, but the beetles revealed a strange surprise upon impact. They became two, thus making the small swarm nearly twice as big as before.

"What the hell?" A former Anbu asked as the beetles came up and tried biting him. He ripped one off and crushed it in his hands but that just created two new ones that crawled up his arm and tried to bite it off.

Other ninja were experiencing similar struggles. The beetles got up close and any attempt to kill them just created more. The remaining Aburame nin tried to ward them off but their tactics were not working. These beetles were more resilient than the ones they were used to.

'It's like Tsunade's slugs, they just multiply.' Namikaze noted, managing to fend them off better than the others. However he was still surrounded, as if the insects were specifically targeting him. 'So then let's go for the summoner instead.'

With that, he took out two of his tri-kunai and hurled them towards the battlefield. They landed and he instantly went to work slaughtering the Kumo nin within his reach, going back and forth between his two anchors and only adding more when those that escaped his onslaught got away. At this point he barely cared if he actually killed the summoners anymore, he was just killing enemies and drawing out bigger game.

Speaking of bigger game, A saw the flashing yellow light and grew a smile. 'There you are.' Ignoring the Edo nin, he dashed like a madman towards his long-hated rival, an electric lariat forming in his hands.

Namikaze heard the crackling of lightning and the roar of a gorilla, and knew what that meant. He threw a tri-kunai towards A who swept an arm and actually batted it away. However that just made Namikaze smile, for he reacted by flash-stepped towards the tri-kunai just getting right behind the raikage and in a perfect position to take out a seal and slap it on his back.

Immediately A felt his muscles seize up and refuse to obey him, and with momentum and gravity taking charge he stumbled to the ground unceremoniously. Struggling, A discovered that his back, shoulders, and the top of his legs were immobile, but the rest of him could move with effort. It was like his torso and immediate connecting areas were petrified. On the ground his jutsu basically got grounded and fried the grass while making a hole, but otherwise nothing else happened.

Namikaze then naturally stood over A and just to be a dick, he pushed down the raikage's head with his foot. "All these years and you still use the same tactics you always have."

"Says the man known for one jutsu." A hissed, struggling to get out from under the hokage.

"Namikaze!" Someone shouted.

The aforementioned man turned to see who it was, since that didn't sound like one of his forces, but he could be wrong. What he saw was several Kumo nin looking ready to fight with one of them standing right by a large orange jar with the lid off. He was holding onto it but keeping it on the ground, and keeping his eyes on the ground.

A grinned. 'That's it, take the bait.'

Namikaze was about to retaliate, but he stayed his hand. 'They're just standing there, like they're waiting for me. Why give up the element of surprise? No, they want me to notice them. Whatever they're planning, they need me to react first. Maybe I should give them something else to see how this goes.'

With that in mind, he took out a shortsword and raised it above A and then drove it down into the man's back, deliberately missing any vital or critical areas.

"No! Raikage-sama!" Darui called out in shock before covering his mouth, horrified at what he had just done.

"No! You fool!" A shouted before he realized what he had just done. The Amber Purifying Pot was activated and A felt himself being pulled into it against his will. He tried as hard as he could but it was futile to escape. Everyone could see the raikage sucked into the jar before sinking in, unable to get out.

'Well well, isn't that an interesting trick? That actually could have stopped me, if I was as impulsive as the raikage was.' Namikaze smirked before throwing more tri-kunai towards the Kumo nin.

"Retreat!" Darui ordered.

"Oh no you don't." Namikaze taunted. Using the hiraishin, he got up to them and immediately got to work slaughtering them all. He wasn't being professional about it at all, he hacked and slashed and stabbed like a genin who had undiagnosed psychopathic tendencies. A couple Kumo nin died instantly, but a few collapsed and bled out in painfully.

Seeing this, the living Konoha nin decided it was their time to join the fight. Kumo was currently on their second wind at best, but Konoha's forces were still fresh and going, and with the raikage gone their chances were getting slimmer and slimmer.

Hand over a bleeding wound, Darui was on his knees glaring at the blonde bastard who had done so much to his comrades and now taken his leader. 'This is my fault, I just couldn't keep my mouth shut when I needed to. I'm sorry Raikage-sama, I will free you or die trying.'

Force of will compelled him to crawl back to the Amber Purifying Pot, which he hadn't gotten too far from in the first place. He knew that doing what he was going to do would likely kill him, but refusing to do it would still likely kill him and completely doom Kumo to a crushing defeat. At least this way his sacrifice would give Kumo back the fighting chance it needed.

He got right up to the sage's treasure and put his fingers on it. "Relea-"

From behind his head was removed from his body, silencing him forever. The body collapsed, and standing over it was Tenten with a katana.

"Yondaime-sama, this man was up to something but I stopped him!" She informed when she saw Namikaze slow down for a moment.

Grinning, he came up to her and patted her on the shoulder. "You've done a great service to your village Higurashi. Thanks to you, Kumo is truly vanquished. We will honor you tonight."

Tenten beamed at the praise.

"Now please get this thing secured, and whatever you do make sure no one opens it."

"Yes sir." Tenten nodded and then sealed up the pot while Namikaze went back to massacring the enemy army.

Seeing the tide had changed, Omoi had turned to Karui and Samui whiloe getting away from the Edo nin. "We've lost this battle. Raikage-sama was too ambitious and it cost him and us. We need to get back to the village as fast as we can, alert the remaining forces ,and find someone who can contact the Uzumaki."

"We can still fight!" Karui insisted.

Samui shook her head. "No, Omoi's right. Alerting the others is more important. We must go, while we still have time."

With reluctance, Karui agreed. And so the three students of Bee departed away from the battlefield. The rest of Kumo continued to fight the Konoha army, hoping to take as many down with them as they could.

'It looks like now's my chance.' Roshi thought, unsure what exactly what was happening but it was clear Kumo was beginning to lose. 'Monkey, if you have any genius ideas I'm all ears and this is your only chance to give them.'

"Don't waste time with a sneak attack or a flood of magma. In this open field they have all sorts of ways to escape except the direction you're attacking from. I suggest just jumping in and attacking the unnatural warriors directly, giving them no time to escape or defend. If you do it right, just going in like that will catch them off guard enough for you to do significant damage before they regain the sense to retaliate. And then flee before they can fight back. You do not want to be caught."

Roshi grinned. 'I agree, but I think I have a different target in mind. Thanks, old friend.'

Borrowing some of Son Goku's chakra along with some nature chakra he could somewhat tap into, Roshi got ready and cracked his knuckles before charging in.

Jiraiya was busy using some rasengans to eviscerate a Kumo nin. While doing so, something ran into him from behind with a lot of force and heat. He felt his legs give our completely, making him fall to the ground, and whatever hit him just kept going, ignoring him after the fact.

"Damn, at least being dead means the pain doesn't-" Jiraiya started, only to feel something wrong. He touched the wound but when he saw his own fingers, they were covered in magma and his hand was dissolving, and when he looked at himself he saw he was cut in half at the waist with his legs and upper body melting from both ends. The regeneration factor of the Edo Tensei was doing nothing to stop it.


Namikaze was the closest and decided to see what his sensei was complaining out, shocked and coming to a stop when he saw the self proclaimed super pervert melting away. "Sensei, who did this?"

"I don't know! Stop it!"

Fast reflexes allowed the Yellow Flash to detect someone coming his way with hostile intent. He saw of all things an old Iwa nin rushing at him, visible heat waves coming off him and the ground searing underneath him scarring the land. Making a rasengan of his own as swiftly as he could, Namikaze chose to match this new threat directly. All the while, the last bits of Jiraiya watched on in horror as his student left him to rot.

The impact came with a thunderous shockwave, knocking many around it off their feet entirely. The smoldering ashes of Jiraiya were scattered across the prairie, unnoticed by all. Heat from Roshi's magma scorched Namikaze's arm and gave him third degree burns on what skin remained, while Namikaze's rasengan spread the lava away from him and onto the nearby Kumo nin, injuring them all and killing a couple who got hit in just the wrong area.

'Gotcha!' Namikaze thought, having some experience with opponents who could withstand the initial hit of the rasengan. Admittedly this time it wasn't at full power, but it got him in close and his enemy had all his defense on one spot. So he took out one of his serrated cleaver kunai with his left hand and thrust it into Roshi's abdomen. Or it would have if his armor wasn't tough enough to withstand his own lava splatterback.

"Nice try!" Roshi laughed, spitting some more lava over the hit zone, thus hitting Namikaze on the left side of his left. His ear and hair took the majority of the damage, but it was enough to really hurt him.

Namikaze had to end his attack and back away, trying to cover his injury only to burn his hand. He succeeded in smothering the heat but he was not going to leave this fight unmarred. Pissed, he knew he had to annihilate the Iwa nin, and he needed something a lot more damaging than just one half-prepped rasengan.

Fortunately, he didn't have to do it himself. Tsume came up from behind and dug her elongated claws into Roshi's neck on both sides before pulling his throat open. Blood went everywhere and Roshi collapsed on his back.

Namikaze smiled, as satisfied as if he had done the kill himself. "Good job Tsume-chan."

Tsume grinned, but then noticed Roshi trying to laugh. "What's so funny?"

Unable to speak, Roshi removed his armor enough to show a seal on his body, one that Namikaze recognized.

"What? No, it can't be!"

"What's going on Minato-kun?"

Namikaze ignored her and tried to stop the bleeding. "You're not allowed to die you hear me?! As your god I order you not to die!"

Roshi just grinned as he gurgled on his own blood and the light drained from his eyes. If he could speak, he would have mocked the Hokage for thinking he could order him around like that.

'Sorry it came to this Son Goku.'

"At least he won't get me this time. And thank you for once remembering my name."

'I never forgot it, I just didn't feel worthy to use it.'

"Get Tsunade now!" Namikaze told the Inuzuka matriarch, but before she could move, it was too late. Roshi was dead, and the Yonbi was gone with him.

"DAMN!" Namikaze roared, loud enough that if there were snow around an avalanche would have been inevitable. Even though he had won the battlefield, he had effectively lost the war.

Three to four years until the bijuu came back.

Three to four more years of waiting to become the god he saw himself as.

Three to four more years the Uzumaki had an advantage over him.

Seething with rage, Namikaze rushed back into the battlefield, butchering any and all living people he could get his blades on. Be they Kumo, Konoha, or Suna. He didn't care. He never cared, but he especially didn't care right now. If his destiny was going to be delayed yet again, many more would be denied theirs right here and now.

All the while, Roshi's body began to sizzle and heat up, due to a second seal he had placed on himself should the Akatsuki succeed in acquiring him. The seal built up all the nature chakra it could along with remnants of Son Goku's chakra, turning his body into a bomb. Or more accurately, a human volcano. Twenty seconds after he died, Roshi exploded, creating a cascade of molten magma all around him that spread like a biblical flood. Ninja of all types were caught in the wave, incinerated alive or dead, and none would return. The Amber Purifying Pot was ignored, and so it was left to dissolve in the lava, taking its prisoner along with it.

Many who were away enough from it escaped, but not all. The battle ended, and after the magma began to cool, Kumo's remaining forces retreated back to their village to recover and warn the others. Konoha's forces regrouped, not bothering to continue the fight against Kumo for now. As far as they were concerned, this was still a victory.

Panting, Namikaze saw who he had left. Among the living he still had Tsume, Tenten, Yugao, Natsu Hyuuga, a dozen Inuzuka with their ninken, five Aburame, seven Hyuuga, and about twenty or so Suna nin. Among the Edo shinobi he still had Tsunade, Orochimaru, Kurenai, Hiashi, Iruka, Fugaku, Itachi, and Kakashi and about thirty or so others.

His grand unbeatable army, reduced to less than a hundred. And he had lost a jinchuuriki along the way.

"Is this everyone?" He asked.

"As far as we can tell, yes." Tsunade answered.

"Tsume, step forward." Namikaze ordered.

Tsume did so, wondering if he was finally going to admit that she was his chosen one all this time and tonight he would reward her. Sure, he was not happy about the death of the enemy she had caused, but surely he was not going to hold that against her. Right.

Once she was away from the others, he pulled out his serrated cleaver kunai and swung it, decapitating her faster than she could blink. Head and body fell to the ground in a lump.

"Leave her, we move towards Kumo." Namikaze ordered.

"Yondaime-sama, we're worn out." Natsu told him.

Namikaze took out the second serrated cleaver kunai as a warning. "Anyone who sits down will not get back up so help me! Now move dammit!"

With a weary sigh, the living ninja followed behind the dead who followed him towards the east. A few who saw his exposed back contemplated ended this madness right here and now, but stayed their hands. But they were now certain that perhaps Shibi Aburame had been right along. That Kushina had been right all along.

But it was too late. They only had one direction to go, and that was towards Namikaze's inevitable victory or defeat. All they could do was pray that if he won, he would finally be merciful and reward them.

But what reward does a god of war and death give?