Today, is a special day... well to be more precice, a few days ago was a special day... mainly because I was... indesposed and unable to read manga that day.
Today, we say so long but not goodbye. Naruto's journey has ended... yet, at the same time it's only just begun. In his world life carries on; it grows, changes, becoming a little better as it rolls along. Yes, perhaps just maybe, it gives one hope for the future of our own. In this chapter I salute you Naruto, I salute everything you've done, not just for me (being the 'never give up' little shit that you are) But for everyone your story has touched and helped through this last decade and a half. I salute you for being the guiding role model that you were and are, for giving people the courage to follow through with their goals to the very end and to hold on to what they have and fight for what they believe in.
I salute you Naruto; Hokage!
Ok now that that's out of the way, on to the meat of things. NaNoWriMo is a thing. I had forgotten it was a thing... So instead of writing a 50K word thing, I'm just going to try and update 50K words worth of things in the next month, maybe it will motivate me to write more, dunno, I did bust out this chapter in like... three days, so it's not so bad given how little time I'm actually able to focus on writing.
But yeah Enjoy, Fic of the day is in the AN at the bottom but I'll yank it up here for the sake of those too lazy to read my rants. A Drop of Poison by Angel of Snapdragons. Think Shadow clones, taken to their logical extreme, now add in Naruto Shenanigans. That about sums it up.
Word/s of the day: "Justice will prevail? Of course it will! Because whoever wins.. becomes justice!" -Doflamingo, One Piece.
Vid/music of the day: Juno Reactor - Navras And DJ Snake - Turn Down for what (MO BUTT PROPANE REMIX) Because this is far too amusing not to share.
Disclaimer: I don't own Naruto or Familiar of Zero. If I did, well, we wouldn't be having this conversation, now would we?
Chapter 8: Chasing Fouquet Part 1
A whisper of movement sent several dried leaves spinning along the ground.
Louise ground to a halt as she tucked into a roll, bleeding off her forward momentum and coming to a stop right beside Itachi.
"What is it?"
Those words escaped her mouth quickly enough as she ducked behind the bush that her mentor and familiar was crouched next to.
They had been running for nearly 5 hours now, Louise slowly but surely overcoming the stilted and awkward running posture to fall into a comfortable slouch. It was this posture she had held for the last half of the trip and, if she were being honest with herself, she felt amazing! The subtle but agonizing burn in her legs had long since faded as she had gotten used to the exercise, her chakra flooding the area to numb the pain and repair the muscles. It was euphoric, an almost pleasurable ache that sent her spine to tingling, it was no wonder that ninja trained so often, she herself would be hard pressed not to become addicted-.
Shaking her head, Louise focused on what her sensei was looking at and put those uncomfortable thoughts behind her. Through the bushes Louise could just make out La Rochelle off in the distance.
Louise shifted and glanced to her side. She blinked in confusion as she noticed Itachi moving further away from the road into the forest, circling around a few dozen meters. Quickly shadowing behind him the Valliere ducked behind another set bushes under a shady tree, hiding herself from view.
"Look." Itachi subtly poited towards the treeline.
Or more specifically, the highwaymen laying in wait behind the treeline. From this angle the dozen or so men were mostly hidden, only their gleaming weapons giving away their position. From the roadway proper, they would have been almost invisible in their mottled brown and green clothing.
"Bandits.' Louise hissed between her teeth.
"Hn." Itachi sighed. "Normally I would ignore such a minor threat in a mission of this nature." The Uchiha glared at the gathered men, a frown on his face. "However, Fouquet spoke with these men as she passed through, they've been provided as a distraction by someone other than the our thief."
"Someone is protecting her?"
Itachi's nose twitched slightly at the thought of these bandits being any threat to a mage of any credible strength, much less someone of his ability. "So it seems."
"What should we do?" Louise asked quietly. There was a tenseness in her familiar's shoulders that set her on edge, like he was a coiled spring ready to unleash it's energy into anything nearby.
In response to her question, Itachi slid out of his hiding spot, moving from shadow to shadow as quiet as a ghost. Louise, who knew by now that everything Itachi did, he did with purpose, followed behind him as best she could, watching her steps far more than he did.
A fair distance away, Louise stopped, hidden in a particularly dark patch of shadow, watching Itachi as he approached one of the thieves from behind. With barely a whisper of cloth the man was on the ground unconscious, the Uchiha slowly lowering the man to the ground so as to make as little noise as possible.
With a methodical bent, the ex-ANBU then proceeded to do the same with the others, whittling them down one by one until only a handful were left. That was when one of the bandits apparently thought the growing quiet was rather unsettling and glanced back at the rest of the group, only to see a pair of charcoal black eyes glaring at him from only a foot away. Eye's widening in alarm, he made to yell out but was silenced with a well placed blow to the throat. The damage was done however as the noise of the slight scuffle alerted the other three bandits that Itachi hadn't gotten to yet.
With a cry of alarm, the trio raised their weapons and rushed Itachi, prepared to strike him down.
Louise blinked and the bandits had sprouted a bladed star from their throats, their hands clutching at the matte black metal impotently as they suffocated on their own blood.
With all the bandits down, Itachi quickly pulled the group of nine into a rough line and tied them up. With a tap to the back of their neck the group were groggily brought back to the land of consciousness to find themselves in a rather precarious situation.
"Let us go yah bastard!" One of the bandits growled, struggling against his bindings as hard as he could.
He got a shuriken in the shoulder for his troubles.
"Now that I have your attention." Itachi spoke smoothly, dangerously. "The first one to tell me who put you up to this will be released, the rest..." He left that threat hang in the air as he palmed a kunai in his hand.
Several of the bandits gulped, One in particular though had far more bravado than he did brains.
"We ain't tellin yah nothin, sides we don't know who -hrk."
The kunai that sprouted from his throat silenced anything else he might have said. Itachi glared at them, silently releasing a little bit killing intent, just enough to make them sweat. "I'm waiting."
The group was silent for several moment's eying which one would be the first to sell the others out. The weak link showed itself true as the youngest of the group, barely out of his teens spoke up. "Look, we don't know, honestly." The young man flinched when another kunai appeared in Itachi's hand, speaking quickly so as not to end up like his compatriot, he explained. "H-h-hey, I'm honest here. We was hangin round the pub when this robed man walked in, he told us that there was some nobles on the road and tossed two hundred gold on the table. " The youth shrugged. "He told us that even though they was nobles that they'd be easy pickings, nothing but little girls and a young man"
"Was there anything defining about this man?" Itachi demanded. "Anything that stood out."
"Y-yeah." The young man nodded. "He... he had a beard, could barely see it through the hood of his cloak though." Giving a bit more thought, the man nodded again. "He also had one of those fancy swords mages use... we thought he was some noble with a grudge, wanted t-to remove the competition." He stared at Itachi for a few moments before shaking his head. "That's all I know, honest."
"Hn..." Itachi's eyes closed, twitching for a moment before snapping open to glare into the young man's eyes. Tomoe spun, the hypnotic suggestion of the Sharingan causing the teen to lock up for several seconds before his muscles relaxed. Itachi cut him loose with a Kunai, allowing the man to stand up and slowly walk off in the opposite direction towards a nearby village, giving Itachi and the group more than enough time to complete their mission, which left the remaining seven criminals. With a flick of the wrist, six of them hit the ground, bleeding from a knife in their throats.
Louise walked slowly from around the tree she was hiding behind, fidgiting slightly as she witnessed the darker side of her new profession, though she did wonder why he'd left one alive, maybe he was planning to free that one too-?
Itachi turned to her and tossed a Kunai at her feet. "Next lesson." The Uchiha spoke tonelessly, silently casting a genjutsu on the remaining individual. "We're going into enemy territory, with an unknown party aware of our pursuit, anything and everything can happen in such a situation." He pointed to the Kunai. "I wish we had more time to build up to this but time does not wait for the unprepared." The hand moved to the bandit. "Kill him."
Louise stood there unblinking for a moment before what Itachi had said sank in. The girl's horrified gaze moved from the knife, to Itachi and back again. "W-what? Why!? Why don't you just send him off like the one you let go?"
"Louise..." Itachi closed his eyes, a particularly unpleasant memory from his past drifting up from the darker corners of his mind. "Most people making their first kill will freeze, I have witnessed it time and again on the battlefield. I have lost friends and family to such a thing more times than I am comfortable with. You chose to be a ninja and most ninja would have made their first kill before the age of thirteen; most soldiers conscripted by the Daimyo likewise by at least sixteen. You are a year older than even that and an adult in both your culture and mine. Louise, I can't take you into a dangerous situation without knowing that you can defend yourself with lethal force if necessary."
Louise bit her lip, her hand shaking as she slowly bent to pick up the knife.
Seeing the girls hesitance, he spoke to her in a calming voice, leading her through it. "Remember Louise, this man was planning to assault not only you but Kirche and Tabitha. Had I not been there and had I not stopped you, he could have very well been the one to kill one or all of you." He shook his head. "Or worse, he could have captured you, violated you and then sold you into slavery. "At Louise's flinch, Itachi pressed harder. "It was a very common thing for bandits to do to the women of my world, I doubt that this worlds criminals are any different."
The pinkette's hands gripped the blade tight, the cloth handle creaking in the girl's hand. She trembled as she approached the bandit, holding the blade forward and out with both hands.
"Pick the point of attack carefully." Itachi cautioned. "The jugular on either side of the neck, the throat, heart and liver are four points that can guarantee a debilitating if not lethal strike and are easily accessible from the front. The spine and groin are also viable, given your height and can be followed upon by a more lethal strike as the enemy is bent over in pain."
Louise frowned at the reference to her small stature though that turned into a grimace as she held the shaking Kunai to the bandit's neck, choosing the method that her teacher seemed to prefer.
A hard, quick tug was all it took.
The girl watched, fascinated as blood seeped out of the thin gash she had created, squirting the red fluid every once in awhile onto the ground at her feet. The man, who was still under the effects of the Genjutsu, slowly became pale and started shaking as blood loss took it's toll. After roughly half a minute the man's eyes rolled up into his head and he unceremoniously hit the ground face first to bleed the last little bit of his blood onto the ground.
Louise stood there, face blank as she stared down at the still body of the man she had just killed... no, murdered in cold blood.
A hand was placed on her head, warm and comforting.
"A ninja is someone who is fully prepared to kill and die for their dreams." Itachi crouched in front of Louise, holding her by her shoulder and forcing her to look him in the face. "I do not teach half way Louise, if you want to continue with your lessons, then you have to be prepared for that. This lesson is to teach you to cherish the time you have because one day, that might very well be you on the ground with your killer standing over you..." Itachi rubbed the girls head, slowly in calming circles. "If you wish to talk about this later, then we shall do so, until then, understand that 'killing to protect' and 'murder' are two different things. Killing this man prevented him from attacking someone else in the future where they might not be as fortunate as we were."
Louise nodded slowly, small tracks of tears dripping down onto her mentor's cloak.
"As long as you understand." He sighed. "We need to move, the others will be worried if they have to come back for us." He still felt wary of sending the two girls and the dragon on ahead but now was not the time to contemplate that. Collecting his thrown weapons and hiding the bodies with a quick earth Jutsu, Itachi quickly moved back onto the main road with Louise right behind him.
The next hour was an uncomfortable and tense time for Louise as she came to grips with what she'd done. Worrying about it now wouldn't help things, but she couldn't help but think about the blood, the crimson liquid that had rushed from the man's neck like a waterfall, as the light slowly left his eyes.
A harsh shiver rand down the girl's spine.
The gates of La Rochelle stood tall over the duo as the entered the city, the air-port's built into the winding limbs of the giant tree that made up the city bustled with sailors and dock hands each dealing with their own duties as the captains made their way to the local bars. It was at one of these bars where Louise and Itachi met up with Tabitha and Kirche.
"It took you long enough to get here darling." Kirche huffed, wrapping her arms up under her chest. "I hope you didn't meet any trouble on the roads?" The buxom woman asked curiously, noting Louise's expression darken dramatically.
"Did you do as asked?" Itachi prodded, clearly ignoring the question entirely.
Kirche stared the man in the eyes for a long moment -something exceptionally foolish- before sighing, "Yes, we chartered a ship to Albion, although all airships have been docked due to bad weather."
"Hn." The man sighed slowly, the only hint of his irritation showing. "Regardless, our target is also stranded for the night. It isn't in our best interests to confront the thief right now, we must allow the head and body to meet before striking at both."
Tabitha nodded along with him "Close loose ends." She tapped her staff lightly against the floor while muttering a few words under her breath. "Storm will pass..." A thoughtful look crossed her face for a few moments as she stared off at dark clouds in the distance "Several hours before dawn."
Louise glanced up at Itachi. "Which would be the perfect time to leave the city?"
"Undoubtedly." Itachi twitched slightly as if his attention was elsewhere when he answered her, moments later a Shadowclone phased into existence, it's arrival only a brief flicker before it was replaced by a non-descript civilian who nodded to it's creator and walked off towards a certain dock in the distance. "If Fouquet does try to leave, then I shall know." A slight tilt of the head towards the inn's counter. "Get a room and get what rest you can, I will return shortly."
The trio of girls blinked and where Itachi had once been was now empty air.
"Impressive." Kirche tapped her chin thoughtfully, turning to Louise, she smirked. "Will you ever be able to do that?"
Louise's huffed, not giving her rival the satisfaction of an answer.
Itachi crouched uncomfortably in an alcove overlooking the city, brooding in a way only the Uchiha could brood while silently contemplating the Crow in front of him. "Are you certain?" He asked after a long pause.
The Crow in front of him nodded, as if she could understand his words, which she could. Kurohane was one of his crow summons after all and she would be a poor summoned creature if she couldn't at least understand the one who summoned her.
And yes 'her' as the crow often reminded him in her own preening way, all to obsessed with her own 'luxurious' feathers. The Uchiha resisted the urge to roll his eyes at that, the annoying creature looked like any other crow he'd summoned, only differentiated by a small tuft of gray under one eye that resembled a beauty mark on a normal human woman. Though the damn bird insisted that her feathers were more shiny than the others; Itachi agreed, if only to shut her up for a short while.
The crow pecked at the ground to get his attention. "Yatagarasu-sama say, something in the way Kaw." She tilted her head, staring at him with one eye. "Big summons locked, temporary summon blocked Kaw!"
She also had a bad habit of speaking in rhyme.
Itachi frowned as the name of the Crows boss summon came up; Yatagarasu, the three legged old crow had worked with him in the past to get from point to point quickly when running simply wasn't an option. Yet, he hadn't dealt with the old man for quite some time, mainly because a giant three legged crow was too conspicuous for a wanted missing nin to just ride around like some kind of beast of burden.
But now it seemed that he wouldn't be able to summon him at all, there was some kind of... wall of some sort... that stopped exceptionally large beings from being temporarily summoned from beyond the planet. Likely... it was this so called Founder's doing. If this Brimmer fellow founded the system used by a majority of the chakra users of this world to summon their familiar's then he most likely left behind either a very powerful spell or artifact that interfered with short term summoning to make sure that those familiars stayed with their summoner.
The only reason that Kurohane was even here now was through stupidly overpowered brute force, and that was only after the first half-dozen tries, which had tipped off the Crow Summons that their summoner was still alive.
"There might be a way, that we can stay. Kaw." Kurohane mused tilting her head slightly to look up at Itachi.
Itachi remained silent, nodding slightly to give the bird the go ahead to speak.
"Temporary summons return from where they went, maybe instead we make summons permanent, Kaw?"
Itachi frowned. "Your plan is to bypass the block that stops temporary summons by permanently moving the entire clan here to this world?" A silent hum escaped his mouth. "It would work, possibly... but you would need the entire clan to agree to it."
The bird clacked her beak in thought. "Clan tired of the villages fighting, new world would be exciting. Kaw" She shook her head. "Pointless to fight when there's nothing to win, cycle of hatred begins again. Kaw."
Itachi slumped, releasing a sigh. "Agreed, I wouldn't be surprised if quite a few of the summon clans would feel the same." Itachi stiffened slightly at that thought. "Actually, do you know of any other clans who would wish to leave the Elemental Nations behind?"
The bird blinked, her feathers ruffling as she adjusted herself on her perch. "Maybe a few, one or two. Kaw."
Itachi rose from his crouch, nodding lightly to himself. "Good, return and tell Yatagarasu what we have discussed, if he agrees ask him to get in touch with the other summon clans and see if they wish to come as well." turning around he spoke to the bird over his shoulder. "I will summon you again a week from now. If the other clans agree then pack your possessions and bring one of the other summon clan members with you and we shall start reverse summoning them in ascending order of power to this world." Without another word the Uchiha disappeared in a swirl of leaves.
"Understood." The bird sighed before following suit.
Itachi sighed, slipping under the sheets. A moment later he felt the bed shift slightly as Louise fell in place beside him.
He could understand sharing the same room, after what he had all but forced her to do it would be good to keep close to her and monitor her mental health after that little stunt. Seeing her far off look earlier, the Uchiha had felt a tinge of regret. After all, his last attempt to 'shock' someone into following a chosen path had left his younger brother traumatized and sent him on the path to insanity.
Not his brightest idea but hindsight is always 20-20 as they say.
But did she HAVE to stare at the back of his head that firmly? He knew why she was staring and he couldn't really even blame her for it, but still...
With a sigh, the Uchiha turned to his young charge. "Did you wish to speak about this afternoon?"
"I don't like it." Louise mumbled, a shiver passing through her as she hugged herself tightly. "I keep thinking about the blood, I keep seeing that look on his face... it makes me sick."
"Good." The word whispered out, barely heard in the silent room.
Louise's head snapped up, almost glaring into her teacher's eyes. "What?"
"If you had enjoyed such a thing I would cease training you and your chakra would be sealed to where you could never use a ninja technique again." His voice was calm, deadly calm.
Louise flinched back as if she had been slapped.
"Do not take pleasure in killing Louise." Itachi warned her, glaring at her with a near identical expression that her mother used when she showed her displeasure. "The moment you enjoy killing is the moment you should stop being a ninja." His expression softened somewhat. "Ninja are tools, directed by their kage to kill in defense of their village... no, more than that, ninja are people who kill to protect something important to them, be it a person an object or even an ideal. We kill not because we want to, but because it is necessary."
Louise relaxed slightly at her mentor's words. "What... What do you kill for...Itachi?" She sniffed lightly, eyes puffy as small trails of tears ran down her cheeks.
Itachi bowed his head in thought, the far off look in his eyes staggering the girl's self loathing for a short while. After several moments the man lifted his head. "I kill for my family and I kill for my village..." He seemed to deflate ever so slightly to the girls eyes. "Both of them are lost to me." His gaze shifted to her own. "You are the one I kill for now. As your teacher, I am responsible for your well-being and growth as well as putting you on the path to fulfilling your dreams. I kill to protect your future as those that came before did for me." He shifted. "You will have to do the same if and when you find something that you cherish, even more so than your own life. Remember that." His piece said, Itachi rolled back over.
He twitched a few moments later, tensing up as Louise wrapped her arm around his torso, gently spooning him.
Louise's fingers dug into the firm flesh of Itachi's stomach, shaking somewhat as they gripped the thin shirt that he wore under his cloak. As she drifted off to sleep, she wondered whether to feel relieved at her teachers words... or worried about what those words entailed...
A harsh squeak of wood echoed out in the night as a figure rolled out of bed, pointing a wand at the nearby window sill.
Another, darker figure chuckled, slipping into the small room. "You just had to pick the highest floor of the inn, you paranoid woman?"
The woman crouched on the floor eyed the darkness for several moment's, the wand clenched in her hand following it every step of the way. "It pays well to be prepared for anything, you should know as well as I... Wardes."
The dark figure turned, eying her for a moment longer before removing the hood of the robes that shrouded his face. "Indeed, it is good business to always be prepared, which is why we need to push our schedule up by a few days, Miss Logueville, or should I call you Fouquet?" The white of the man's teeth glimmered in the night, amused at the exchange.
Fouquet relaxed, stowing her wand away as she stood up. "Why the rush? I've kept a close watch on those following me, last I checked my spying stone, they were just leaving the School."
Wardes scoffed. "Then you will be surprised to know that they are right now but a few hundred mails away in a nearby inn."
"Impossible!" Fouquet snapped. "I could understand the dragon and the two girls making it here in a day but the other two left on foot."
"Regardless." He waved the woman's disbelief away. "They are here and they've already killed a group of highwaymen that I paid to distract them." He made a noise somewhere between annoyance and impatience. "I had hoped they would act like most of those idiotic children at that school and "turn in" their captives to the nearest authorities, which would have forced them to backtrack to the checkpoint a half days walk in the other direction, but one among their number is rather... unforgiving."
"He executed them." It wasn't a question.
"Cleanly and efficiently." The older man grumbled. "We're dealing with a professional assassin, one who does not take risks." Seeing the thief's confused expression, he elaborated. "The man forced his student to take the life of one of the bandits to keep her from freezing on her first kill."
A grimace formed on Fouquet's face. "How barbaric."
Wardes nodded. "But no less effective, we need to move as the storm breaks, while they are still preparing. A head start would do well to put distance, a distraction even more so." He looked her over. "Tell me, can you quickly create one of those golems you used to attack the school?"
The thief's eyes sharpened but she nodded slowly. "I would ask how you've gathered all this information in such a short amount of time but I don't think you would be generous enough to share that information." At his shrug the woman sneered. "It wont be as refined, but it will be enough to facilitate our escape."
Wardes smile returned with a vengeance. "Good."
I know some of you are going to dislike what I did to Louise this chapter, but it's fairly true. Naruto froze in his first fight and the guy is one of the most boisterous and hardheaded bastards I know. Louise, who canonically freezes the same way in who knows how many fights in the series, would probably BSOD if she so much as maimed someone in a close up fight.
Also, yes. Itachi WOULD probably do something like this to her before going off into an unknown battlefield, given how he treated his brother, treating his student in a similar manner to prepare her isn't that far fetched. Besides, this isn't one thief with a giant golem anymore. This is a unknown individual with who knows how many people supporting him. She NEEDS to know what taking a life feels like. Who better to pop your cherry than one of the thugs who just minutes before was perfectly ready to do any manner of vile things to you? The least of which being a quick, honorable death.
And before you all go boohoo Naruto was still a 'virgin' by the time the story ended can piss off. If we take filler into account then he popped his proverbial cherry years ago. Hell he was PREPARED to end Haku's life back during the first thirty chapters at age 12-13, how much more prepared do you think he is at the end of the Shinobi War Arc 670 chapters and roughly 3 to 4 years later? And he's STILL roughly half a year younger to a year younger than Louise at that point, possibly two if the Naruto world uses the same calender as we do as the FoZ world has a longer calender which means it takes longer for their birthdays to roll around.
The only reason Naruto hasn't really killed anyone throughout the course of the manga is because he's basically ninja Jesus, he either talks his enemies into becoming an ally, or simply breaks his foot off so far up their asses that the water on his knee quenches their thirst. But he doesn't kill, or at least never tries to kill. It's not in him to kill when he's trying to stop the "cycle of hatred" His goal is a world where people do not have to fight, kill or otherwise ruin the day of some upstanding citizen. He want's peace in it's purest form, Just like Jiraiya and just like Nagato. That is why he's so adamant about not offing people like Sasuke, which would have solved SO MANY PROBLEMS during the course of the series. If Naruto was as ruthless as someone of say... Pre-Talk no jutsu Nagato's level, then there wouldn't be much of a Shinobi world left. Naruto would have simply went the way of Madara and probably trashed the place. Hell, he has the capability to become nigh godlike even without using his Six Path Sage powers.
Just reading the stories that have him taking the shadow clone to it's logical extremes are downright frightening. Take for instance A Drop of Poison by Angel of Snapdragons, It's a rarely updating fic that's only gotten into about 2 months past the first chapter of Naruto but our lovable knucklehead already has the capability to rule the elemental nations from the shadows. In a few more months to a year he'd have the entire continent by the economic balls, not to mention how physically powerful he would be by that point. Hell, at that point he could outright just tell the ninja village's to stop fighting or he'd force them into economic collapse by doing to them what Wind Country's daimyo did to Suna.
I guess the point to this little rambling non-sequiter is that this is fanfiction. If you have a problem with what is written in this story then don't worry, you didn't pay for it, you lose nothing but maybe 30 minutes of your life and you do that anyway watching that idiot box you call a TV. Enjoy what you want, lambast what you dont, right now my shoulders are killing me so I don't really care.