Tied to the Bell Tree - Prelude

The year is 22 BK - The scene takes place at "Akimichi BBQ" in the central district of Konohagakure.

The story begins with a kiss, but not I imagine the one that you are expecting.

There is a young shinobi sitting with his teammates. He holds a sloshing cup of sake in one hand while the other wildly gestures as he retells a story that has lost its way two bottles ago, his quiet partner carefully mops up each spill as it hits the table. The remaining guest, a kunoichi, is torn between laughter and outrage and her face contorts accordingly, her hand twitching in habit preparing to reprimand.

The kiss doesn't have anything to do with the kunoichi as much as I am sure the young man would like that. No the kiss doesn't come from anyone at that table. It comes from a rather non-descript woman that some might refer to as a middle aged, though where precisely in the middle you couldn't quite tell. She walks past them bearing a delivery crate for the store, carefully balanced on one hip, she leans in casually and reaches out to deliver a firm pinch the drunken young man's cheek.

"Well aren't you cute?" She says in that sickeningly sweet voice that only your grandmother or spinster aunt ever dares to try out. Her face scrunches into a frown though, and she sighs. "Except for that wart... you know... I've heard that a kiss can turn a frog into a prince."

And with that she leans in and plants one right on his nose as his eyes cross following her movement. For the young shinobi at the table it seems like time freezes for a moment as she pulls back considering. "I don't think it helped," she sighs. "I think if it was going to work it would be right away."

She straightens up, adjusting the heavy box on her hip, and gives a slight nod. "At least you have a handsome friend!" She finishes as she affectionately pats a very young and very shocked Orochimaru on the shoulder.

As she leaves them, carrying her burden into the back of the establishment, two things happen though neither of them was memorable. The first was the very loud and outraged cries of a self proclaimed super pervert denying accusations of frogginess, this was nothing out of the ordinary and thought quite amusing would be quickly forgotten. The second was a young waitress making a notation for an order. It written in an almost indecipherable code but to the intended eyes it would read, "Kurosawa Jiraiya, Male Heir."

The waitress carries the order in her apron pocket through the rest of her shift and takes it home with her that evening. She holds onto it for six days before visiting with a cousin who works as a seamstress for a well known and much loved Kimono designer. On the way she would purchase a small box of baked goods and slipped the order form into the crisp envelope labeled "With My Sincerest Gratitude". The box is delivered to her cousins employer with a mischievous grin as she begs her cousin off work half a day early to watch her nephew graduate from the academy.

The two girls will leave laughing and happy. The waitress will never forget that order though, just as she hasn't forgotten any of the ones that came before it. Her smile isn't forced though, she knows her duty better than any other. She understands that great trees don't grow without small seeds.

The box itself remains unopened for the rest of the day and that evening the designer running the factory will carry it home with an assortment of ribbons that she intends for new design. All but one spool will be hastily discarded when the she arrives home. She takes a length of blood red ribbon and painstakingly sews a series of stitches in varying length down the sides of it. If she knew the significance of that ribbon Hayashi Rumi would have tossed away the paper and been done with it. Unfortunately for her she could sew the words but was never taught to understand their meaning. When the stitches are finished she packages them up with dozens of others and leaves them in an unaddressed box at a small postal substation. This was an address she didn't know.

Sometime during the day a postal worker of little significance will discretely label the box, its contents a mystery to her, and send it off to a high end shop in a border town that boasted the most popular geisha district in the Fire Country.

In less than month thirteen year old Hayashi Chiasu would shed her childhood name as her she took her place as the maiko named Umeki. When her new sister takes her to have her hair put up in the traditional wareshinobu the red silk ribbon woven into her hair would have tiny stitches on it that she will one day learn to read.

AN - Yes.. it is 100% edited. Some parts completed, some parts not. But in progress. I will be using the Kyuubi incident as Year Zero in this story. So "BK" will refer to "Before Kyuubi" and "AK" to refer to the years after the Kyuubi. So this scene took place in the year 22BK, so 22 years before the Kyuubi was released.