Snap Back To Reality @jazhop
The Sages Edicts

Snap Back To Reality 46

The Sages Edicts

I placed the cargo back in the caravan and fed Tug an apple. The sleepy horse huffed at me in a mixture of annoyance and appreciation. I felt illogically like I had to explain myself to it. I sighed and scratched behind its ears in apology for waking him up so late.

"I know buddy, but we have to go," I apologised before being guilted into feeding him another apple.

The other two horses sent me looks of longing, but unfortunately for them they weren't my favourites and… who was I kidding. I succumbed to their collective cuteness and ended up feeding them apples too.

"Apples are expensive in this region. Is it wise to feed the cattle?"

I turned around to see Kusari folding his arms by the shed. I knew he was there and so it hadn't startled me in the slightest, but my heart was beating fast. Had he known? I felt inexplicably tense besides him, looking into his guarded navy blue, almost black eyes that glinted under the moonlight. He looked like every ROOT agent did; cold and stoic, yet I could never see him that way. Behind the poise of a killer all I could see was the ghost of a smile, of a carefree child that should have been. A part of me thought it was ridiculous I held onto the notion that any innocence still remained in him. Maybe it was the guilt that despite pulling him under my protection, I had managed to do absolutely nothing to protect him from Danzo.

So it begged the question. Did he know about the mission being rigged? Was he even allowed to tell me? Was he capable of physically doing so?

I ignored the question he asked about feeding the horses. A million things were on the tip of my tongue that could have been considered small talk. I could tell him that horses weren't cattle. I could tell him that it didn't matter if the apples were eaten now because we wouldn't be selling them anymore. I could tell him a number of things and pretend I never questioned him in the first place, because I should trust him. Instead I held out my hand. He looked at it hesitantly, but with a longing that I only ever saw in private. He took it quietly, almost reverently, and we laced our fingers together. I drew him close and into a hug so I could stop myself from asking, but it didn't stop the glimmer of worry still there.

What would I do if it was true?

"Did Danzo tell you about this?" I croaked out, biting my lip, and keeping my chin firmly on his shoulders.

His hands tensed for a moment and then he looked at me like he was unable to speak. He frowned, then looked down and then away.

"At first I thought I couldn't do anything," he admitted, like he was telling me his deepest secret. "I remember the day you killed Hakanai. It was beautiful. I still remember it today. It felt… freeing."

I found that I had no idea why he was telling me this now. Kusari wasn't one for many words. Unless he was stating mission directives, or was asking questions, he hardly ever spoke, especially not about himself. It had nothing to do with my question which was telling enough as it was. He probably wasn't allowed to speak about it. I felt my worry grow.

"I thought this mission was a punishment for feeling that way."

I paused. No. No it wasn't. I felt so angry. So fucking angry at Danzo, at the Hokage, at Konoha. A child was confessing how his thoughts alone warranted feeling like being sent to his death was alright. How could anyone who proclaimed unity and the will of fire allow a child to think this way? Why hadn't anyone done anything? Why hadn't I done anything?

"It's not," I said angrily. "It's not your fault. It's not… I can't put it into words."

"I know… I can't either, but it wasn't a punishment you know. Rui is fun."

The softness in his voice caught me off-guard. While the two boys barely interacted, it was probably a lot more interaction than Kusari was ever allowed to have in his life with anyone other than me. Their friendship was something special.

"Can you tell me in any way possible if you were asked to have us killed?" I asked him again.

"Rui is fun, and so is Anko and Rengoku," he continued with an imploring look. "And you are—"

He paused for a moment as if the words were stuck in his throat. He shook his head as if to tell himself to stop and I felt marginally disappointed somehow. He was just opening up.

"This mission was not a punishment. It was fun. Even better than when you killed Hakanai."

"It makes you feel free," I blinked in realisation. "We make you feel free."

He nodded and held my hand tightly, eyes searching mine for some clue of understanding. I felt my worries clear up. His loyalties didn't lie with Danzo which was a relief because I couldn't afford to have someone sabotage this mission, even if it was Kusari. I almost didn't want to think about what I'd have to do if it wasn't the case, if he was indeed tasked with sabotaging us. Would I choose him if it meant risking my teammates? I couldn't see a clear choice there. Kusari was my duty in a way that no one else was because he was a child, and I was the only one in this whole world who wanted to help him. I was the only one who could.

"I'll free you Kusari. I promised you remember. We are not tools. Not kunai. No one would ever use us again, but I need you to trust me. I have a way of doing so… to remove the seal."

I expected pain but it didn't come so I continued despite the widening of Kusari's eyes.

"I haven't tested it out on a live subject yet, but it should be done. So whatever mission Danzo put you on, I need you to throw it away. We're doing this mission our way from now on. You stay here with the children and Satomi-san. I'll be back for you, but if I'm not here on time you take them and leave with us. If we die you take them to Danzo and contact a man named Nara Shikaku. Tell him I sent you."

He nodded grimly at that. He put his forehead against mine and I felt myself graced with a rare smile of his. I smiled back.

"You won't die, and I will not be a tool," he said resolutely.

"That's right."

I got into the cart noting the way both Anko and Rui were more silent than usual. We weren't the quietest team around. Even in tense situations one of us preferred to make an inappropriate quip to ease the silence if nothing. The idea however that their own village betrayed them, was definitely a reason to be introspective. If I weren't already so disillusioned with authority, I would have been in just as much of a shock as them. I wasn't though. I don't even know why I was surprised. I should have seen this coming. Of course Danzo would want both Orochimaru and myself dead. We had both proven to be more of a liability than an asset. It didn't matter how brilliant of a shinobi we were, just that we listened to him solely.

"Let Rengoku-san and Komizawa-san do the talking. We will only speak unless spoken to. If we're caught, I want you two to run. Don't wait up for me or the old men."

"But we can't just leave them," Rui protested.

"We can and we will," I said sharply.

As much as Rengoku and Komizawa didn't deserve to die, I would rather them do so instead of Anko and Rui. I knew this wasn't the way Konoha tended to work ideally, but since when did I care about the will of fire? Anko, Rui and Kusari were more important to me than a few men I had just met a month ago, let alone two children I had no connection with. It wouldn't be ideal to lose anyone, but I knew who I would chose to save if it came down to it. Even the Kaguya children would be left behind if I had no other choice.

"We don't leave anyone behind in a mission," Anko said resolutely.

They'd already been so brainwashed, even though Orochimaru wasn't particularly inclined to proclaim the will of fire. In the end they learnt it from other Jounin they worked with, especially considering how actual little time they had to learn from their own Sensei out of his training drills. While this meant they probably weren't as disillusioned as me, they were also incredibly loyal to Konoha itself. Already indoctrinated at the ripe young age of 13. I scowled at that.

"I have suspicions that Rengoku was a Jounin at his prime. He can take care of himself. You two just make sure you get out alive."

"What about you?" Anko asked with a frown.

"I'm team lead. If we fail, I'm taking the fall and I might as well be dead anyway. So you two get out alive and if I die go to Nara Shikaku."

Rui folded his arms and frowned. He was catching on and considering how little time they had to process all the shit that was going on, I was surprised he came to any conclusion outside of the obvious. Then again, we were Shinobi, and Shinobi always looked underneath the underneath.

"You know why this mission was rigged. Why we were chosen."

I didn't have the heart to lie so I just nodded. Anko let out a breath of disbelief.

"And you didn't think to tell us?" she asked.

I winced. "I physically can't. Now's not the time to discuss this. We can talk once we're safely out of here with the kids. It's a 2-month journey back to Konoha. We have the time to talk then."

I didn't wait for a reply. I didn't want to risk it, so I went out front to meet the merchants. Kohachi tagged along too.

"Thanks for having us here Kohachi-san," I said gratefully.

"You better be grateful Hina-girl. I just signed my death," he said waving his walking stick.

"Doing what you believe was right," I said imploringly. "Hope it eases whatever's on your conscience."

He snorted as if it was the farthest thing from what he wanted to achieve. Then he looked at me and pulled out something from his sleeve. I froze as he handed it to me. An omamori. It had the same Yakuyake kanji woven at the front. I felt my blood chill and my thoughts blur for a moment before I managed to catch my brief lapse of emotion.

"A ward for evil, huh," I said a bit too angrily.

"It's not the object itself. It's the belief."

"A placebo," I said nodding.

He nodded back. "You believe you will be safe, and you will most likely be safe."

"Well it's lost some of its magic now that we know how it works huh," I said sardonically.

Kohachi just paused and searched my eyes.

"You know Hina-girl, that's how most things in life works. We make what we believe. Reality often doesn't matter to an individual as much as you think. Reality for realities sake is a false ideal. We all live in our own perceptions."

I had to swallow the retort on my lips, that there were things objectively true, but I didn't. He sounded exactly like he was parroting the words of my first mother. But there were things you could quantify, measure, and understand objectively and I needed that to survive, maybe more than I needed air to breathe.

He seemed to take a moment before he spoke.

"I killed my own child. My little girl but four years old, because she was born unable to walk. This world—this village would have never taken kindly to her sort, and I had neither the strength nor the will to face off against a whole village like Satomi-girl is doing."

I took in a deep breath, feeling my mind blank for a moment. Kohachi didn't seem to be lying. In fact he looked entirely truthful. There was a sorrow in his expression that felt all too familiar.

"To some it may seem cruel, to others a mercy. To me it is a shame, a necessary shame, and you have the pose of someone bearing the same weight, so I'm giving this to you. A reminder of your perception. Maybe you can find the peace I never found."

I nodded and watched in kind of an awe as Kohachi smiled freely. He was most likely going to die soon, aiding a member of the Kaguya Clan to escape, and yet there wasn't an ounce of fear behind his eyes.

"You know, I don't often talk about things like this, but for someone who claims to be under the weight of shame, you come off as rather unbound to it. Free— if you will," I said, stumbling over my words.

Kohachi paused and pondered over my words before smiling.

"I was wrong about you Hina. You're old."

I snorted. He didn't call me girl. Maybe the old man did know. I felt an odd moment of kinship with him, and then the magic was, ruined when he waved me off grumpily. I turned to Rengoku and Komizawa and gestured for them to get ready. We were set to leave. The sooner the better.

We reached the border shrouded by tense silence. I could feel both Anko and Rui glance at me on the occasion with a look of distrust that was beginning to hurt. We didn't expect any sort of history from each other. What we did at home was oddly private to all of us. It was an unspoken rule within our team. It was apparently unusual for a team to behave this way, but I assumed it was because none of us had the best home lives and all of us seemed to escape to work no matter how much we complained about it. I was so used to their easy acceptance and unyielding trust that without it, I felt lost.

I tried to push those thoughts away. While on a risky part of a mission like this, I couldn't afford to be distracted, so I kept alert.

As we entered the gate a few Shinobi stopped us. It took everything for me not to reach for the kunai pouch hidden under my kimono.

"Check their caravans," the lead ordered before he turned to Rengoku. "Your merchants' certification."

Rengoku fished out the card and the Shinobi inspected it. I held my breath as he glanced my way then back at Rui and Anko.

"Quite a lot of children, wouldn't you say," he asked.

"These are my nephew and nieces. They wanted to learn about trade, but it seems this village is rather scary to them. Can't sleep a wink here," he said looking a little mockingly at us.

"Children are a different breed here. I tend to forget how soft they are outside," the man said derisively.

The other Shinobi came from up back and gave the all clear. They let us go but I tuned my hearing in despite my initial relief.

"They hadn't sold a thing. Spent a day in and a day out."

"Keep an eye on them past the gates."


They were onto us. I scratched my neck nervously before narrowing my eyes and looking at my teammates. I made the hand sign for 'being followed' and then for 'splitting up me' 'you go ahead'.

Rui looked hesitant but he created a clone of me and nodded my way. Anko sent me a firm look as did Rengoku and I smiled back in reassurance before slinking away. I wanted to say more, but time was of the essence and despite their recent distrust of me, I needed to know they could do their jobs right.

For now I needed to focus on the mission. The underbrush provided a sort of middle ground safe haven at night times, shrouded in darkness and full of other creatures slinking away into its depths as well. I kept low and out of sight, only pausing to push down my chakra to a mute as the Shinobi tailing the caravan jumped by. For a moment all I could hear was my own heartbeat, as he paused and looked around. I shut my eyes for a moment, keeping my senses alert as he came my way, the cracking of the twigs under his feet suddenly sounding like thunder to my ears. It paused and I felt my heart skip a beat, and then after a moment that felt like an eternity, it receded. I opened my eyes to see an empty spot in front of me. I let out the breath I had been holding in before extending my senses once more and making my way deeper into the woods, surrounded by fog even at night. My snake like sight allowed me to see well at night and coupled with my other heightened scenes I was able to slither my way in without making much of a sound. It was only when I was a good kilometre away from the border that I allowed myself to jump onto the treetops to run.

Wind Release: Wind walker Technique

It was only once I had reached the Shrine once more that I briefly dropped my guard. Kusari signed to me from afar and I signed back. With a quick flick, I landed neatly and silently besides him in front of the Shrine entrance. Kota and Kimimaro was idly sleeping by inside by the entrance.

"Why isn't she ready with the children?" I asked, my irritation growing.

"The children are ready and packed. She refuses to do so until she talks to you," Kusari shrugged.

"Is the premise safe. You have detection seals set up correct?" I asked.


"Good. Sound an alarm if anything goes wrong. I'll go talk to the client," I sighed.

Rui nodded and I put a hand on his shoulder in thanks. It was at times like this that I really appreciated his professionalism. He took this job seriously and so I could trust him entirely with doing the right thing. Anko and Rui could take a leaf of his book.

When I entered the shrine, I felt the unease spark up my spine. The concept of a deity in itself had never been such a chilling, uncomfortable thought before. The vague sense of fear I had for hell in my previous life, held nothing to the deep uncertainty I felt now when my thoughts wandered to these elusive concepts. I had to actively push back the unnecessary questions that popped up in my head. It was simply a distraction from the mission, and I needed to focus on that now. Yet, I found myself pausing in practiced reverence when I heard Satomi chanting in a controlled tone. Years of going to temples with my dad and mass with my mother had instilled a sort of damning reverence to these religious tasks. I couldn't find it in myself to disrupt it, so I situated myself behind Satomi, close enough so that she knew I was there.

She was sitting in front of an altar, a banner hung ahead of her holding the kanji for connection written perfectly on the cloth. It looked oddly like a kanji one would use for Fuinjutsu, and so I pulled out a notepad and wrote it down with some chalk quickly before I looked at the cushion on the ground and resigned myself to sit down.

I sat down by the shrine, my knees firmly together, my hands gently palming the cotton kimono draping across my thighs. The candles flickered light across the room, illuminating the 6 paths, all embroidered into tapestry parallel on the red walls. My attention turned to Satomi's back. She lit an incense stick and bowed her head in front of the shrine before slowly rising. Her voice was soft and yet it carried quite powerfully through the small enclosed room.

"We need to go Satomi-san," I said.

"What do you know about the Sage?" she asked instead.

"I know the story, maybe more than most," I said, remembering the Canon events.

"Not the story, the teachings," she reiterated.

"Not much, although you can preach as much as you want later when we're out of here," I said urgently.

She shook her head, and a sad expression crossed her face. Wasn't she coming? She wasn't, was she? I wanted to rip out my hair in frustration. Was now really the time to pull something like this?

"You would stay here and die?! What about your children?" I growled out in frustrated anger.

She sent me a look that softened considerably, but I could see another emotion behind her now wet eyes I didn't understand.

"Hina-san, do you believe there are things in this world more important than your family, more important than who you love?" she asked.

I shook my head and frowned. "No, I really don't. Nothing is more important."

"That's where you're wrong. I can't come with you, because my task is to warn the other Clan's here while I can. If there is a genocide to come, and I did nothing to even mitigate this senseless violence, then it will be their blood on my hands."

"Why are you telling me this?" I asked in frustration.

"Because I want you to understand. Despite everything, I do… trust you Hina-san. You look like someone who cares deeply, so deeply that you've repressed all feeling because to really feel it all would be too much."

I felt almost like she had struck a painful chord in me; one I had been aiming to keep locked up for years. I could almost feel the blood on my hands again, and the image of my parents flashed before my eyes for a second. I felt the breath knock out of my lungs and I looked up at her with a growing scowl. It died down at her empathetic expression, too connected to my pain to let me be angry for long.

"Then convince me what you're doing is worth it, or I will drag you out myself for Kota and Kimimaro," I hissed.

She nodded and then took a moment to speak.

"The way of the Sage is one of balance. Of Yin and Yang. You wish to know true goodness. Then heed these words Suzuki Hina.

Goodness is like water.

It nurtures everything and harms nothing. Like water, it ever seeks the lowest place,

the place that all others avoid.

This is the way of the Sage.

For a dwelling it chooses the quiet meadow.

For the heart, a circling eddy.

In generosity it is kind.

In speech it is sincere.

In authority it is order.

In action it is gentle.

In movement it is rhythm.

Because it is always peaceable,

it soothes and refreshes.

It is therefore beyond reproach."

Her words were woven like a practiced poet. The first thing that came to mind despite the beauty of its delivery was: impossible. It was impossible to achieve something so idealistic. How did anyone think to be beyond reproach? It was simply in human nature to fail.

"You cannot be truly good," I said pointedly.

"You cannot," she agreed. "The way of the Sage is an ideal. It is a balance that is found within. The sage rejects all excess. Avarice, greed, pride: these are all things we possess and balance with the goodness within us. To be a sage is to reject excess of the soul. It is to bring the feminine and the masculine together. To look into the darkness and see the goodness. To reveal the shadow within the light. True goodness is sometimes unachievable for the soul, but the sage does not work in words but in action. If you follow these teachings, you will truly be rich."

I put down the amulet Kohachi gave me and couldn't help but snort a little depreciatively. The sage of six paths sure was an idealist. What good did it do him? Warring sons who would pass down a legacy of death and battle? The world was a chaotic mess full of rage, death, war, and greed. It was excessive to a fault. What good would it do for me to change? What good would it do others to preach peace only to suffer and die by violence?

"Come on Satomi-san, I appreciate the words of wisdom, but we will need to leave. These teachings certainly aren't worth your life nor the life of your child."

"You came to me broken Hina-san. You and the men who come to kill me are the same; broken by this world. I will not move. I will be like the water," she said resolutely, her voice still as calm as ever.

"Please don't do this. Think of your children. It's not worth it," I implored urgently.

"It has always been worth it."

Then she turned to me and smiled, her brilliant red eyes shimmering like a wet stone tempered and smoothed by years of a flowing river. She was unyielding in her beliefs and there was not even a hint of fear or regret in her eyes.

"Kota and Kimimaro won't think that when they find you dead," I hissed, hoping to garner some reason from her, but she didn't budge.

"There are things in this world that are unfortunate. Things that are sad and make the soul ache, but there are things worth giving up flesh and body for."

"These ideals? You would die for them?" I asked in disbelief.

"I have already done so. There is freedom in bondage. It is often the wild and untamed that find themselves shackled to an impossible dream. I have... I have found myself and made peace. Were you to die today, can you say the same for yourself Hina-san?"

I scowled and stood up. Why did her words sting? I pushed away my anger and sighed. I had given ear to her thoughts and I was obligated to do no more. If she wanted to die, then it was her right.

"Tell Kota and Kimimaro that I am sorry."

"Tell them yourself," I said waspishly.

She looked genuinely sad for a second before grim recognition took her eyes and her posture stiffened again. I felt angry—no—conflicted, because for some reason I couldn't find it in myself to blame her for leaving her children, even if it stood against everything I believed.

"I am sad to leave them so early in their life, but there are things you should not give up so easily for survival Hina-san. Do not give up your soul."

She looked like she had said her piece and I was done too. We needed to go soon. I'd wasted enough time humouring her. There was wisdom in her words, an idealistic wisdom that should everyone have followed suite would have ended all human suffering, and yet people would not follow. They were all fools, I was a fool too, a fool who would rather sell my soul than to fail in my avarice. The people who belonged to me... I could not let go of so easily.

"She isn't coming then?" Kusari asked.

I shook my head, my brows still furrowed in angry confusion. I looked at her two sleeping children and wondered what they must think of their mother when they would come to understand what she had done. Would they respect her for her choice or hate her for leaving them? Maybe things were not so clear cut. Maybe it could be both. Either way, they had no one but each other from now on. They didn't even truly really have us. They were our mission. I personally would see to it that they survived, but it wasn't really the same.

"Should we wake them? I was hoping that their mother would keep them calm and silent on the journey," I said with a frown.

"It's best to knock them out for now. I feel they wouldn't be able to escape even if they could move and I'd rather have them silent than potentially crying," Kusari suggested logically.

I nodded in agreement. I summoned a paralytic snake and grabbed it by its neck. It hissed, mouth open angrily, which gave me the opportunity to grab its teeth and push down it's venom glands into a container on my hip. Snake summons were more than a little useful, if only for the fact that most of them were Orochimaru's experimental mindless creations and were disposable. Sure… it was animal cruelty, but I was personally beyond the days when I cried when killing a bunny. Once the snake had fulfilled its purpose, I dismissed it before I had to inevitably kill it should it go lose. Then I went about administering the venom to the sleeping children.

I looked at the shrine door and frowned. Wasn't she at least going to see her children one last time? Maybe it was too much for her to handle. Well, it wasn't like we could do anything. Forcing an adult to come along would be harder than forcing two toddlers and we had neither the time nor the resources to wait for her to change her mind or drag her away by force.

I gestured for Kusari to pick up one of the boys. I pulled up the little Kimimaro onto my shoulders and fastened the sleeping boy on my shoulders with some of the cloth I had taken. Once the boys were secured on our backs, we took to the treetops.

"Our caravan is under suspicion," I finally spoke once we got off.

"It's not surprising. Our early exit was unusual," Kusari commented back.

We travelled in silence for the next five minutes until we reached the steep rocky hills of the mountains. A thick dark fog had encroached onto us, but it was hardly something that worried me. Sight wasn't as important as a sense to me as my scent and hearing, even if I had night vision now. So the fog did nothing but cast an eerie glow to the moonlight above. It would have been hauntingly beautiful, and a sight to travel to in silent contemplation, had Kusari not been glancing at me on the occasion. I didn't say anything, hoping he would speak if he needed to, and to my relief after a few minutes left marinating in uncomfortable silence, he finally broke.

"The seal Hina… can you really break it?" he asked, a rare nervousness entering his normally baritone voice.

"It's in the works," I said truthfully. "I was hoping to test it on another ROOT member before administering it to us."

"Can you do it soon… before we reach the caravan?" he asked.

I raised a brow and paused my movement to turn and really look at Kusari. He looked so small in the darkness like this, not even 5 feet tall. I put a hand on his shoulder for comfort and he eased for a moment.

"Why are you asking me this now? Is there something important you need to say?"


"—Wait!" I hissed urgently, as I pushed him into a rocky alcove.

Kusari instantly quieted down as my ears picked up the slightest crack, too large to be that of an animal, and too distinct to the sound of falling bark. Shinobi were on our trail. I signed to him 'followed' and then 'plan C engagement'. It was one of many plans we had when dealing with enemy shinobi ambush. This one dealt with immediate and unexpected confrontation. You stuck to the shadows, prepared a plan of attack, gauged as best as you could how many shinobi it was that was coming, and then depending on extenuating circumstances made the call to flee or fight. So I appreciated that Kusari hunkered down into a stillness only managed by ROOT agents. It helped me focus on other sounds, and I did, catching first the scent of familiar blood, and an air of ozone that I had come to associate with Kiri shinobi. There were six Shinobi…

I cursed internally. That was the standard search and retrieval party size for Hunter-nin. Too many shinobi and a coordinated effort would be hard to keep cohesive, and too little and they might be overwhelmed or lose their targets. Konoha did this too with their traditional 3-4-man teams. It made for good strategy, but not good for us. There was no way both Kusari and I could outrun six Shinobi, most of whom would likely be Jounin level, whilst also protecting two knocked out toddlers. I scratched my neck in anxious thought, as the footsteps came closer.

I signed the information as best as I could to Kusari and I could feel him stiffen besides me. There was no other way. We couldn't escape them. They would have trackers, and I could sniff them out, then they could certainly sniff us out. We couldn't outrun them either. It would end in a confrontation, but a confrontation with two Chunin and six Jounin was not even a confrontation, it was a slaughter. Kusari knew it too judging from how he held my hands tightly in a comforting way. It helped ground my suddenly uneven breathing and I cleared my mind.

I wasn't going to die here. I needed a plan, and I knew just what I had to do. When I let out a breath and opened my eyes next, it was with a nervously excited smile. I pulled out a kunai and cut the children on our backs free, laying them down gently in the nook of small cave we were in.

"Do you trust me?" I asked.

He didn't even hesitate to nod. I felt a heavy weight in my chest at that. To have that trust was to risk breaking it. But I couldn't exactly ruminate on the weight of my decisions, as the footsteps fell right outside the cave. I didn't have more time, so I stepped out, and tried to bring my rapidly beating heart to a still. We still had a chance… I could do this.

Those thoughts were crushed when I walked out to see him.

"Needle," I whispered.

"Hello love," he greeted cheerily next to six masked men. "It's a little unfortunate that we have to push forward our date like this, but an order is an order, right?"


A/N (warning long authors note XD)

SORRY for leaving you on that cliff-hanger XD All I can say to ease the waiting time for the next chapter is, is that you're going to get a veeeerry action packed chapter next.

Also this was a very important chapter to me, hence why it gets a name when most other chapters don't. I actually wrote this months ago, nearing the start of my writing process for Snap Back To Reality. The Sage's Edicts took a while to articulate in a way that made sense. I wanted it to hold a sort of double meaning in its scripts, and also hold a form of age-old wisdom. To get that feel, I did a lot of research into Shintoism and other Japanese practises, but it didn't fit it for me. I ended up choosing Taoism, which is an ancient Chinese religion/philosophy.

I read the entirety of the Tao Te Ching to understand the philosophy behind it to break it down into something easily consumable for this story. Most importantly, it felt exactly like the perfect ideological contrast to Hina's views on what's important and fit perfectly with the ideology of connectedness and peace that the Sage of Six Paths preached canonically. Ugh this is like my bread and butter when it comes to writing ToT I'm so happy I can finally post it up. There's another religious sect later on in the story with an opposing philosophy, but I'll leave that up to your speculation (hint- it is canon and related to the Akatsuki) 😉

Basically what I'm saying is that I'm not writing religion to make a comment on our real-life counterparts, but to make a point on how people in Naruto feel about the world. So please don't be offended if I portray religion negatively/positively, because it's character perspective, not my perspective. Also I personally don't believe in most of what these characters believe in. My beliefs are always kept separate from my character's beliefs, just so I can make the story without leaning too much in one way or another and let you guys chose what you think is right according to your own beliefs.

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. Chapter 1 4905 1 0 2. Chapter 2 6009 0 0 3. Chapter 3 5570 0 0 4. Chapter 4 5319 0 0 5. Chapter 5 5907 0 0 6. Chapter 6 5728 0 0 7. Chapter 7 4342 0 0 8. Chapter 8 4716 0 0 9. Chapter 9 9627 0 0 10. Chapter 10 4719 0 0 11. Chapter 11 5236 0 0 12. Chapter 12 5827 0 0 13. Chapter 13 6062 0 0 14. Chapter 14 6331 0 0 15. Chapter 15 4356 0 0 16. Chapter 16 3405 0 0 17. Chapter 17 6116 0 0 18. Chapter 18 3812 0 0 19. Chapter 19 3907 0 0 20. Chapter 20 5529 0 0 21. Chapter 21 5831 0 0 22. Chapter 22 6213 0 0 23. Chapter 23 6780 0 0 24. Chapter 24 4607 0 0 25. Chapter 25 4730 0 0 26. Orochimaru Part I 5058 0 0 27. Orochimaru Part II 5557 0 0 28. Chapter 28 7051 0 0 29. Chapter 29 6381 0 0 30. Chapter 30 3234 0 0 31. Chapter 31 4312 0 0 32. Chapter 32 7228 0 0 33. Chapter 33 6812 0 0 34. Suzuki Taichi Part I 7181 0 0 35. Suzuki Taichi Part II 3313 0 0 36. Chapter 36 7150 0 0 37. Chapter 37 5348 0 0 38. Chapter 38 5640 0 0 39. Chapter 39 7295 0 0 40. Chapter 40 6880 0 0 41. Chapter 41 4364 0 0 42. Chapter 42 7235 0 0 43. Chapter 43 4826 0 0 44. Chapter 44 4848 0 0 45. Chapter 45 4523 0 0 46. The Sages Edicts 6211 0 0 47. Chapter 47 5491 0 0 48. Chapter 48 6136 0 0 49. Chapter 49 5696 0 0 50. Chapter 50 4575 0 0 51. Chapter 51 5395 0 0 52. End of Part I 6060 0 0 53. Chapter 53 5512 0 0 54. Chapter 54 6088 0 0 55. Chapter 55 6659 0 0 56. Important Authors Note! 328 0 0 57. Chapter 57 5722 0 0 58. Chapter 58 6642 0 0 59. Chapter 59 8794 0 0 60. Nara Shikaku 1 6333 0 0 61. Nara Shikaku 2 3961 0 0 62. Chapter 62 7840 0 0 63. Chapter 63 4791 0 0 64. Chapter 64 5491 0 0 65. Chapter 65 7081 0 0 66. Hatake Kakashi 9379 0 0 67. Not discontinuing story, slower updates 610 0 0 68. Uchiha Fugaku Part I 3162 0 0 69. Uchiha Fugaku Part II 4249 0 0 70. Chapter 70 5916 0 0