Rippling Future @airheaded_dude
Legacy Awakened

Chapter Eight: Legacy Awakened


'The legend of the three wolves' fanged maw cavern was perhaps a testament to the great literary boom of the Samurai culture in ancient times. It is widely believed that the legend comes from the tales of samurai and their families that were crossing of what is now known as Iron Country. These Samurai often had to fend off night predators of the snowy country during the night. It is said in legend that a great wolf with three heads, who held control above all heavens, made it snow in the country constantly and so harsh, that no creature could ever live in the lands of pure white snow. The wolf in legend, contained within its possession, was an orb that made its power so. Legend states that Susanoo wo Mikoto, the god of storms, dared to cross the land with nothing but his divine sword, Ame no Murakumo and the clothes on his back in order to obtain the orb, as a gift in appeasing his sister, Amaterasu Omikami. Braving the cold winds, Susanoo had finally reached the monster at the very center of the country itself, sitting upon a black obelisk like stone and under its paw was the said orb. It glowed ethereally in the colors of the Aurora Borealis shining, shimmering and surrounded by sharp claws that didn't seem to scratch the almost fragile looking object. But it did not seem willing to fight at all, instead it looked severely weakened. The wolf had mentioned it was drunk on the power of the orb and with it the wolf had covered the entire country in snow and killing all the animals in it, starving him. Susanoo, with pity, slew the wolf with his sword and grabbed the orb from the monster's claws and swore to himself that he would store this treasure in Amatsu never letting anyone touch the orb. It is said that the Aurora Borealis in the skies of Iron Country represented the power of the orb leaking from its storage in the sacred treasury or that it was the way that lead to the great hall of Amatsu. Folk tales in Iron Country have long since held a religious system much different from the legend of the Rikudo Sennin. But its first tales written in ancient texts suggest that the author of the book had…'

Kiba had yawned at the page as he stretched and put the book down. Today, he was off duty and he had nothing better to do. He could go train, but he didn't know what else to work on without a new jutsu he had in mind. So he decided to hang out with his teammates on this particular day off. What a mistake that turned out to be! Shino's idea of fun, when it's not collecting bugs, was reading a book. Who has fun reading a damn book!?

He sighed loudly, earning a stern look from Shino while his female teammate Hinata, didn't seem to care. He looked at the title of Hinata's book and squinted.

'The Five Countries: The Powers that came to be Throughout the Continent After the Warring Clans Era.'

Kiba relented. If it was one thing he hated the most, it was historical accounts in paper form. He could not remember a time when he had finished an entire chapter of a history book that he didn't sleep through after the third page. Sometimes he wondered if his teammates were rocks in disguise, they didn't know how to have fun!

"Man, this is boring…" He finally voiced out as he closed the book in his hands and stared outside the window.

"I bet Naruto is having all sorts of action right now in his mission."

"You let me decide on as to what we do in our free time other than training, why? Because each of us have little to perfect other than our own family styles at the moment, many of our clansmen are still out there with the repairs and doing the extra missions while we genin have to sit back and help with the maintenance. It is surprising that the Jounin commander has given us a break." Shino clarified as he turned the page.

'Arachnia: The Natural Enemy of Family Insectidae'

Kiba cringed from Shino's book.

'Aaaand I think I just found something that I hate more than history books.'

It was then that Team Ten had arrived in the library. They looked a little tired but not by much from what Kiba could tell.

"What's with you guys? Don't tell me reading is one of your hobbies too?" Kiba asked with a hint of sarcasm in his voice. Ino seemed to scoff at her former classmate.

"Speak for yourself, mutt boy. I happen to appreciate a good book from time to time." Ino said as she went to the bookshelves while Chouji followed suit and Shikamaru sitting at the nearest table and lead his head on his arms to sleep.

'Well it's good to know one of us has some sense of normalcy right now.'

"Oh, so one of your interests is the samurai culture huh?" Chouji peered to his side as he noticed Kiba's book while the boy scoffed.

"Not really, I thought it was interesting at first, but then it went on from myths and then made those debunking statements. I really hate that!" Kiba almost shouted. Shikamaru groaned and replied lazily.

"Kiba, we're in the library, the few places where loud doesn't mix within Konoha. I would appreciate it if you keep your opinions to yourself here. I'm trying to sleep."

"If that's your problem, why don't you try reading anything in the fiction area?" Ino asked as she pointed to the shelves where the sign "fiction" was posted.

Kiba was gone immediately followed as Akamaru waved at them and went to the fiction area.

'Daigoro: Loyal Friend of Yojimbo.'

Kiba paused at the title and grabbed the book from the shelf, he looked at the cover of the book and was mildly interested when he noticed a Samurai, clad in tattered robes and a straw hat with two swords on one side while his dog carried four more.

Kiba looked at Akamaru at the top of his head and asked with a smile, "Want to give this a shot, boy?"

The dog complied with a small bark and Kiba said, "That's a yes then!"

'Today, you will witness the life of a seamless man, alive in an age of endless war and carried over a thousand sins. He draws his blade for those who will pay the right price. He had slain for money but in a time where his sword is not needed, he realizes his actions with remorse and atones for his actions by being a wandering samurai. But he is not alone, for at his side, was his most loyal friend, his most trusted companion, Daigoro. With Daigoro, the repentant warrior would create once more, another legacy.'

Kiba smiled, this was something he could definitely get behind in.


Tanzaku City:

Naruto was out into the woods again to train. This time, he had begun to use clones to learn the final stage of the Rasengan and learn it by one hand. He was having a ridiculously difficult time at it too. The shape would destabilize when he tried compressing the chakra in a thin shell layer. It was freaking frustrating as he had made little progress since training with shadow clones!

Try as he might, performing the Rasengan with one hand would make even a seasoned jounin nuts about the difficulty curve in chakra control! Naruto gritted his teeth and sat down under a shade of a tree beside its tree trunk. He looked up, the sun's light muffled by the leaves that blocked most of it.

He sighed. It was getting dark in the first day, he had yet to dispel any of his clones and he was tired as hell. What the hell was he doing wrong?

Naruto had never been back at the hotel for almost twenty four hours. Jiraiya had not come to pick him up. The boy scoffed, the man was probably still trying to convince Tsunade. Naruto wouldn't even accept someone like Tsunade as Hokage!

"Um… May I ask a little bit of your time, Naruto-kun?"

The boy was thrown out of his thoughts when he saw Tsunade's attendant, Shizune along with her pet pig as she looked at the boy with a concerned look.

"Shizune-nee-chan?" Naruto asked, curious as to what this woman wanted from her.

"I know I may be a bit intruding, but please, try to understand Tsunade-sama." She bowed, she knew she was going to very personal levels of Tsunade's behaviour if this kept up.

"She was not always like this. She had lost many people that she loved because of that necklace…"


Tsunade and Jiraiya:

'Becoming Hokage is my dream afterall…'

Everything was quiet around her. Those were the only words she was hearing right now, those painful memories of her little brother and her lover. They echoed in her head, so much that it hurt just even hearing them.

She gritted her teeth, taking another swig of the strong alcohol in her hands.

"Oden and a bottle of sake, old man…" A voice called out. She looked at her side and saw Jiraiya sitting down beside her.

"You brought that kid with you on purpose, didn't you?" Tsunade asked as bitterness rang in her voice. She had questioned him again about the boy. Jiraiya merely shrugged and grabbed his dish and bottle.

"You won't even try to deny it?" She asked and Jiraiya smirked at that.

"If I did, I'd be lying. A spy master knows when he needs to lie and when he doesn't." Jiraiya mentioned as he took a sip of his sake.

"What an underhanded trick, Jiraiya. That kid reminded me a lot about Nawaki. You know damn well when to push my buttons." She said as the mere mention of her brother's name caused her to take another long swig of the alcohol. She had never gotten over the boy's death.

"Still can't accept it, huh? After many years since then, you still carry that sadness with you." Jiraiya mused.

"How in the world am I supposed to get over it, Jiraiya? How can I just accept their deaths just like that?"

Jiraiya had heard enough, "Four students, Tsunade, I had four students who died. Do you know how worse that is for me, to have your students that you consider to be your children, die before you do? Three of them I couldn't even bury! There were no last words, no time for me to see their bodies except for one. How does that make me feel?" Jiraiya asked as he turned his back and looked up at the night sky outside.

"There isn't a day that I regret about them and I'll carry over this regret until I die. But until then, I refuse to let that sadness take over me for the rest of my life. Because I still have to do what needs to be done."

She hadn't notice it before, but now killing intent was oozing bit by bit from Jiraiya.

"So you try to do anything against Konoha, and I'll personally see to it that I deal with you, do you understand, Tsunade?"

The look he had given her was a testament to Jiraiya's loyalty to his village. Tsunade didn't seem fazed by it though, as a member of the Sannin, she was quite capable of standing on even ground with Jiraiya.

But a thought had come to her mind though.

Her teammate showed loyalty to his village more so than loyalty to his team. The years had certainly changed a lot of people and Jiraiya was not immune to it. She dropped her head a little and looked at the glass of alcohol she had in her hands.

'Nawaki, Dan… What would you have done?'

She knew she would get no answer. All she could hear was the sound of the wind flowing behind her. There was nothing that she could ever gain.

Her memories were once more filled with the memories of Dan and Nawaki, their lives before they were taken away from her, how fate dealt a severe hand against them, against her.

Two days from now, she would have her answer.

When she came back to the apartment, Shizune was looking at her intently. It was two in the morning, Tsunade noted. She had been spending time getting drunk throughout the night. There was no sign of Naruto in the hotel but Jiraiya was sound asleep in his room. She paid the boy no heed until Shizune spoke to her.

"Tsunade-sama, please do not continue with this bet. That boy, he's willing to prove you wrong and get that necklace. I tried to deter him from doing so, but he refuses to back down from his word. He would even harm himself just to prove his point!"

Tsunade gritted her teeth, "That boy, acting all brave and not thinking of the consequences just like Nawa…" She paused.

She had almost said his younger brother's name. Somehow, that upset her more.

"Get that boy here immediately, Shizune, so that we can stop his stupidity for at least one day!"

Shizune had agreed and had left Tonton behind who had scurried over to Tsunade while the woman asked.

"That boy is a lot to handle, huh? Nawaki acted like that too…" She said as she sat down her hand placed on her forehead in deep thought as she gritted her teeth and closed her eyes.

"Why can't I just stop comparing him to my little brother?"

When Shizune had arrived, she had brought Naruto over, unconscious and showing signs of chakra exhaustion. His hands had chakra burns laden on them, evident of his own disciplining himself in training trying to master the Yondaime Hokage's jutsu.

Tsunade's hands touched the young boy's hands and it glowed in an incandescent green. Shizune had watched her master at work as she slowly mended the boy's wounds. There was no blood, only scrapes and burn marks. She had stopped the inflammation of the boy's chakra coils by suppressing anymore inflammatory cells effectively numbing Naruto's hands from the pain.

Shizune, no matter how many times she had seen Tsunade's work, remained astounded of her master's ability to heal injuries. It had been a long time since she showed her skills but seeing it now at work once more, she couldn't help but compare Tsunade's work to an elite artisan.

This was a testament to Tsunade's skill as a medic-nin.

Tsunade then stood up as she let go of the boy's hands but didn't walk away for a few seconds, she watched the boy asleep for a few minutes without a word before she informed Shizune that she was going to bed.

Throughout her sleep, she recalled dreams of her lover Dan but her little brother's memory seemed to become more prominent.

When Naruto woke up, he felt his arms were okay. His fatigue was gone and his sleep had fully restored him. Which was puzzling, because he had remembered exhausting himself to the brink of his arms were aching and burning in pain due to the constant practice of performing a one handed Rasengan. When he had ran out of juice, his clones suddenly popped and their memories invaded his mind in a rush that he eventually blacked out.

He looked at his right hand and flexed every finger in it and found it to be completely okay. He smiled, and went outside. His work was far from finished, but he knew progress when he saw one.

When he had reached his personal training area outside the walls of the city, Naruto surveyed the entire area before nodding. Just before he was about to perform the Kage Bunshin once more to hasten his training, he knew he should practice first on his own.

'Doing it like Ero-sennin won't cut me right now, I have too much chakra to exert control with just one hand.' Naruto thought as he then tried a new approach. He placed his hands together in his front. His fingers were touching each other, tip to tip while his palms remained open. He extended his arm outwards and then began molding chakra into the empty void in the middle of his hands. It was then that Naruto began pushing chakra to his hands and began a spiralling pattern as chakra began to take shape. He could hear the sound of grinding as chakra rotated in his hands.

The spinning was getting harder, harsher and more turbulent. The dust in his feet began to disperse as the grass danced from the force being displayed. It was then that Naruto applied the shell of thin chakra around the orb to contain the force of his chakra within. The winds slowly died and the turbulence, controlled. For a few seconds, all seemed normal and even Naruto felt a sense of control. But the shell of the technique completely shattered from the sheer force as Naruto was sent flying from his place and on to cold hard ground a good ten feet from where he stood.

He grinned and stood up from his spot. He had made a form of progress. He dusted himself off and then performed middle-index cross seal.

"Now or never… Kage Bunshin no Jutsu!" Naruto shouted as hundreds of clones appeared all around him, all wearing that grin that the original had.

It would take Naruto a few more dedicated hours before he pass out again, Shizune finding once more unconscious and dragging him back to the hotel. Like the previous night, Jiraiya would arrive earlier while his teammate would arrive into the early hours past midnight with the stench of alcohol lingering with her.

This time, Tsunade didn't heal him when she arrived, undoubtedly drunk once more.


The next day:

Jiraiya awoke with a sense of grogginess. He could feel his body being heavy and he was having a difficult time standing up.

'Why would I be… No. Tsunade!' Jiraiya tried to stand but found himself leaning on the wall as Shizune came barging into his room.

"Tsunade-sama!"

"What's the matter?" Jiraiya asked. His voice was raspy but he was slowly gaining his sense of balance.

"She's been missing throughout the day. I think she's going to confront Orochimaru on her own!" Shizune shouted earning a grunt from Jiraya before he answered.

"Damn that Tsunade… She drugged me last night and I never even noticed."

It was then that Naruto had woken up and gave the two a quizzical look.

"What's going on?"

Jiraiya went outside as he said, "No time! Grab your gear and prepare for a fight! We're going to where Tsunade is right now!"

Naruto suddenly felt the grogginess of the morning escape him as he felt the rush of adrenalin when he had grabbed his stuff from his bag outfitted himself with his gear.

He jumped right after Jiraiya and Shizune who were all being led by the woman's pet pig.

Whatever is going to happen, Naruto knew that he had to prepare himself for the worst.

Outside Tanzaku City:

"Well, Tsunade? Have you thought about my proposal yet?" Orochimaru asked to her, smirking at the woman as she stood in front of him. Behind him was Kabuto, remaining silent and adjusting his glasses. That man was looking for any signs of betrayal just in case. Orochimaru looked back at Tsunade who gave a silent nod as she approached Orochimaru.

The snake sannin smiled. Who knew his teammate was this easy to coax? The trivial emotions she displayed was easy to play with and manipulate. A mention of her loved ones who died tragically was all the push he needed to persuade her teammate. He made no further reasons to hide his intentions when he had his arms healed. He had said before to Tsunade in a clear manner, he was going to destroy Konoha once his arms were healed.

The woman's right hand glowed in a gentle green as she slowly approached Orochimaru's hands.

'Finally, this suffering ends and I can continue what I have been planning all these years…' His thoughts raced at the intoxicating prospect that he was going to able to use jutsu again. The thought was exciting, relieving even, to this immense pain that he was experiencing.

But as his taste of sweet victory drew near, his thoughts of power were abruptly ended when a kunai flew in between them forcing Orochimaru to jump back and look down angrily.

"To think that you would do this to me, of all people…" His face became murderous and turned to his former teammate.

"What is the meaning of this, Tsunade?"

His assistant, Kabuto, spoke first, "That technique she was about to perform was a cell disintegration technique, she was going to obliterate your arms by overloading all of cells with volatile chakra, Orochimaru-sama."

"You dare ask me that question after playing me for a fool, Orochimaru?" She asked, her voice turning to venom.

"You play with my emotions and you continue to belittle me, even though I am also part of the Sannin. You will pay for your arrogance, you filthy snake!" She was about to charge when Orochimaru shook his head and replied.

"A shame then; too bad, Tsunade. I really was planning to bring Nawaki and Dan back to life." He chuckled as Tsunade's temper flared.

"You don't ever mention their names to me, Orochimaru!" She then charged at her teammate. Kabuto intervened and stepped forward, to face off Orochimaru's opponent.

"It's a shame that you have turned out like this, Tsunade-sama. You could have been a valuable ally and I wouldn't have to resort to this." Kabuto pulled out a kunai and rather violently lacerated his hand with it. Blood spewed forth and Tsunade suddenly stopped in her tracks. The image of Dan and Nawaki's blood began bombing her head as her eyes went wide.

"A shame too, that a medic of your calibre has become hematophobic. You are far too easily dealt with because of your crippling weakness!" Kabuto lashed his blood laden hand at Tsunade who was painted by the man's blood. Tsunade stepped back as Kabuto had arrived at her front and kicked her in the gut forcing Tsunade to skid back for a few meters.

Kabuto smirked, the glasses on his eyes was covered by the sun's light as he approached Tsunade. The utter sadistic glee that he was having was showing and Tsunade was falling victim to his methods.

As he was about to charge again at the woman, three shuriken had intercepted his charge as three ninja and a pig jumped down in front of Tsunade and guarded her.

"Sorry for being late, because apparently, somebody thought it was a good idea to get someone drugged." Jiraiya had said, hearing nothing from her voice. He turned back towards his enemies and scowled.

'Orochimaru… I will definitely stop you here.' Jiraiya thought as he cringed and stumbled forward.

"Damn drug is still in effect." Jiraiya commented.

Orochimaru gave a small chucke.

"I see the idiot still falls for the oldest tricks in the book. I cannot believe how a blunder like you could even hope to stand against me let alone Tsunade. Well, I guess this has more to do with the teachings of Sarutobi-sensei than to your output."

Jiraiya growled at his teammate's jeering. That man never did have any sense of tact in him. Jiraiya had wished that he had gave Orochimaru a sound beating when they were younger, maybe it could have changed how Orochimaru would be today. But sadly, it was not to be. Orochimaru was a bastard whose heart was worse than his pasty faced smug.

The two elderly men were not moving from their respective positions as they were silently watching each other, anticipating any form of attack coming from one another.

Meanwhile, Naruto was staring worriedly at Kabuto, the only word escaped his lips was the man's name.

"Kabuto…" He said to no one in particular. The man turned to look at him and grinned.

"It seems you are not hopeless at all, Naruto-kun. You actually ranked up. I'm surprised that you were even considered."

Naruto knew then and there that this bastard was mocking him and the village. Looking up at the man's headband and then back to him, Naruto's frown turned to a scowl.

"Sound, huh? I misjudged you, Kabuto. To think that I actually had to trust you during the chuunin exam…"

Naruto's fists clenched and aimed his right hand at Kabuto, "I should've just given you a beating back then. That would have been more satisfying for me. It was too good to be true."

"My, my, how less naïve you have grown since our last meeting. But you know your growth won't be comparable to that of Sasuke-kun." Kabuto said those words with a hint of amusement in them. Naruto didn't look like he was too pleased with that.

"If your aim is to piss me off, then you're doing a damn good job. Right now I just want to beat you up within an inch of your life." When Naruto began to go into a basic stance and clasped his hands together for a handseal, Kabuto's amused smile grew and raised an eyebrow at the boy.

"You? I admit that you caught everyone by surprise, Naruto-kun. Your display of talent surpasses that of talented members from prominent clans. I must say I was quite impressed but do remember this. In Orochimaru-sama's eyes, you are nothing but a hindrance. Compared to Sasuke-kun, you are nothing."

"A guy who can't even make his own opinions doesn't deserve to look down on other people. You're just some lackey, Kabuto. You're nothing!"

This seemed to have an intended effect, Kabuto scowled at the boy, "You little brat. You don't know what you just got into."

"Kabuto…" Orochimaru interrupted. The silver haired medic looked to his master and nodded. He dabbed his left index and middle fingers to his bleeding right palm and began performing the sequence of the Kuchiyose no Jutsu.

In response, Jiraiya bit his thumb and began performing the seals of his Kuchiyose no Jutsu as well.

"Kuchiyose no Jutsu (Summoning Technique)!"

Smoke covered the area on two different areas of the land. Two giant snakes appeared beneath Kabuto and Orochimaru while Jiraiya stood over a comparatively smaller toad roughly standing just twenty feet tall.

Orochimaru smirked as Jiraiya gritted his teeth, "A fool shall always remain a fool after all."

It was then that the gigantic twin snakes attacked. Thankfully, Jiraiya's toad was agile enough and could jump adequately enough to avoid being struck. As the toad took flight and danced in the air as the snakes narrowly struck it down, Jiraiya was already in the midst of performing another technique.

"Doton: Yomi Numa (Earth Release: Underworld Swamp)" The ground beneath the twin serpents suddenly softened and already, half of its body was absorbed into the quicksand like mud.

"Kabuto, take care of the rest! Jiraiya is mine!" Orochimaru commanded his subordinate who agreed and jumped from beside the snake sannin and headed straight towards his target, a vulnerable Tsunade.

"Stand back, Naruto-kun." Shizune pulled the blonde back with her left hand and in quick motion, reeled her sleeve back revealing a set of five senbon launchers that was seemingly laced with poison.

Kabuto counted five and in a matter of less than a second, he reacted accordingly when Shizune pulled the strings back and fired her weapons. He drew a kunai from his pouch and deflected three of them while two passed by over his head when he ducked. His hand glowed in blue in what Shizune would recognize as a chakra scalpel.

Shizune reacted quickly and engaged Kabuto in hand to hand, with her own chakra scalpel.

'Chakra scalpels are like invisible blades depending on what the user wants to cut. It could go deep within the body to sever arteries or organs fast. If he has knowledge of this jutsu and he engages in combat, then he might be a medic that can go on the offensive without much of a problem.' Shizune thought. A standing rule for medics was that they were the last people to engage in combat. For Kabuto to charge in with an active medical jutsu, the man probably does have skill for his confidence to charge into battle.

Kabuto gave a horizontal swipe at Shizune's mid-section who parried the blow with her own chakra scalpel. The two jutsu clashed and repelled each other and recoiled both of their hands. Shizune quick to grab the momentum turned around and crouched as she faced Kabuto and thrusts her left hand forward Kabuto decided to go for a dodge and Shizune narrowly hit her target's abdomen. With skill that she thought unheard off, Kabuto had managed to enter her guard with a devilish smirk on his face and kicked Shizune on her midsection, sending her flying away but not before Shizune could counter with a jutsu she knew would be good enough for offense.

'Ninpo: Dokugiri (Ninja Art: Poisoned Mist)"

Alarmed that this ninja new that particular technique, Kabuto's eyes grew wide and his pupils turned to pin pricks as he was soon engulfed by the poisoned cloud.

'Even a small whiff of this cloud will kill me.'

When the poison mist cleared, Kabuto was nowhere in sight. Shizune stood on alert for that moment until her legs were suddenly sensing pain as if a thousand needles had pierced her legs ankles over and over.

'He struck the tendons on my ankles!' Shizune said as she grunted in pain and lost her balance. Kabuto was about to finish her off when three clones of Naruto had managed to intercept him before he could do so. All of them looked absolutely angry at Kabuto at that point.

Kabuto had jumped back, expecting the clones to charge at him but Naruto didn't. He was taking a pure defensive stance.

"It was wise of you to not engage me head on, Naruto-kun, you are getting better at your judgement."

The boy didn't say a word but Kabuto grinned.

"But even with that growing mind of yours, you will never be able to catch up to Sasuke-kun!" Kabuto adjusted his glasses and his wicked grin grew wider when the three clones scowled at Kabuto.

"Go fuck yourself, Kabuto. And I'm not letting you touch Shizune-nee-san or the old lady behind me. You want them? Then you're going to have to fight me!"

"Your bravado has no place in the shinobi world, Naruto-kun."

Calmly, Kabuto walked towards the blonde and his one hand glowed with blue chakra once more. Three Naruto's charged at him, intent on taking the man down. Kabuto remained unfazed. As the clones encircled Kabuto, one of them went in for the kill and aimed a stab at Kabuto's abdomen. Kabuto grinned as he merely took a step back and sidestepped the clone, the hand that held the kunai went past him and Kabuto immediately struck the clone with a downward swipe, blue chakra arching magnificently as he did so. But not before turning around to his back and swinging horizontally to a crouch as he swiped a clone going in for his back to its neck. The clone was immediately dispelled as the one upfront was directly struck to the face with palm thrust effectively dispelling it.

Now surrounded with smoke, Kabuto already thought of his next step. Naruto was a clever boy, after all. But a boy nonetheless and one still so unskilled in the nature of tactics and strategy, so with that in mind, Kabuto performed another earth jutsu and the earth below him swallowed him up.

Quite on time too, as a hail of kunai and shuriken came from all sides through the smokescreen that managed to pierce the ground with Kabuto safe from Naruto's volley of attacks.

Still unsure of the man's status, Naruto was still on guard and was almost taken by surprise when he heard the ground shatter at his feet. Kabuto had gotten too close for comfort as the boy jumped backwards with the traitor almost having him captured.

"Your skill is indeed a sight to behold. It's like watching a well-choreographed play. Where one misses, the other does its job to do the damage or cover him or could be the real attack next to a feint. But you still lack in a lot of areas. Your taijutsu may not be as subpar anymore but it is nothing to be admired either. Your speed is lacking, Sasuke-kun was faster even before the chuunin exam finals. The only thing that you are good at as of now is endurance and skill which is comparatively nothing. Your jutsu repertoire isn't even up to standards with your strongest being a wind jutsu that requires a pre-requisite that is beyond practical. You're just a rookie who is still wet behind the ears."

Naruto inwardly smirked and replied to the silver haired man, "Just goes to show that you don't know what you're talking about, snake fondler."

With that, Naruto performed the shadow clone technique once more and was soon surrounded with smoke. Kabuto merely scowled and grabbed a kunai from his pouch having it in a reverse grip. Soon the smoke cleared and out came twenty clones from the billowing smoke. A second later, they came charging at him like a stampede of mad oxen. But just before they came close to the silver haired medic, the clones split of in groups as one had jumped from thick layer of clones and headed straight for Kabuto with a punch. Instead of evading this time, Kabuto attacked head one with a swipe of his knife. The knife was about to end the clone's life when four clones had jumped in just in time to interrupt Kabuto but the silver haired medic already knew of this. He grabbed his first assailant at the boy's punching arm and swung him wildly around hitting the remaining four closed around him with Kabuto sticking the kunai to the clone's face dispelling him as well.

Without missing a beat, Kabuto didn't stay from his spot for too long as he might get ambushed sooner than later and used this time to try and break through Naruto's encircling manoeuvre. As Naruto tried to and failing to keep Kabuto contained, Shizune watched in strange wonder as the newly minted chuunin tried to keep Kabuto from going anywhere but slowly failing.

'Naruto-kun's manoeuvres are very good. He puts his enemies in positions that become more disadvantageous as time goes on making it somewhere that Naruto-kun is quite possibly good at, a battle of attrition. Naruto-kun knows his positions well and keeps Kabuto on his toes but ultimately, Kabuto has better skill, better and more fluid taijutsu and can counter just about any movement that Naruto-kun's clones cannot hope to overwhelm that easily.' Shizune was still down and she knew that Naruto was only trying to stall Kabuto down before she could get back. Her leg tendons were already reattaching as she healed her ankles flexing and extending her muscles there. She was about to take charge when she noticed that another batch of clones were dispelled this time, it was thanks to Kabuto's chakra scalpels. Behind the medic was a small stream of blue light arching sideways as five clones were dispelled simultaneously while Kabuto smirked.

"You're quite the slippery target, Naruto-kun. I thought I almost had you at the time. But you are still far outclassed. Your stupid dreams of becoming Hokage? Forget about it, you'll die sooner with those dreams unfulfilled."

Kabuto then performed several hand signs and placed both his palms on the ground, two seal arrays began to spread as Kabuto gave a wicked smile.

"I guess I just have to wipe out the entire platoon in order to take you down. Ninpo: Shikon no Jutsu (Ninja Art: Dead Soul Technique)"

Two ninjas then appeared from the earth below, wearing white masks, limp and hanging out front. Their uniform clearly told Naruto that they were ANBU. They grabbed their swords and the pair began charging at the remaining clones with disturbing speed and widely slashed about with their swords. Two clones were immediately dispatched as the smoke cleared. The two dead shinobi jumped from their position and let loose a hail of shuriken and kunai, forcing the clones to scatter about. With their wide, sloppy and sweeping movements, most of Naruto's clones were wiped out by the two tall ninja with their swords. Now with just one more clone, Naruto had ordered the remaining doppelganger to take another position. The clone did and performed a timely shunshin no jutsu just as a sword was about to decapitate it hitting nothing but smoke and air.

Naruto had managed to duck just in time only to see a sword about to pierce his face. Wide eyed, he felt time had managed to slow down for a moment just as the sword went straight in between his eyes and piercing his flesh.

"NARUTO-KUN!" Shizune shouted, getting the attention of the three Sannin who saw the boy being stabbed in between the eyes and a sword protruding on the top of his head.

Jiraiya looked on in shock, Tsunade in fear while Orochimaru in wicked glee.

But the body did not turn out to be as it was soon covered in smoke and a familiar hissing sound was heard from inside it.

BOOM!

The two bodies were obliterated and turned to nothing more than pounds of meat and giblets in the air as they landed on the ground in an unceremonious thud.

Kabuto was quick to put up his guard from that sudden stunt, the boy had managed to perform another Kawarimi (substitution) without virtually anyone's notice that even he was fooled! It was then that he noticed that he heard something at his back. Turning around, he saw Naruto charging at him already closing the gap by an inch with an orb of spiralling chakra in his hand viciously grinding as the boy held it in all its power.

Then, Kabuto heard a rustle in the wind and a whistle. He turned to the opposite side and saw another Naruto charging at him, with the wind spinning madly in his right forearm his forehead only slightly bleeding. Kabuto had soon realized that he was suddenly trapped like a cornered rat. He had no time to perform a kawarimi or sink into the ground and his meat shields were now piles of bloodless and decomposing flesh on the ground. He could not block, he would be foolish to do so. So his last viable option was to evade ever so slightly that the techniques would miss. With a little off balance, Kabuto smirked until he had realized what he had done.

So caught up with his own survival, he had failed to take into account that Naruto had ways to make him such a dangerous opponent and Kabuto was now witnessing it first-hand. He had forgotten one small detail that Naruto knew and would most likely exploit.

Tenrin had the power to absorb and reverse the powered spin of any technique against the opponent. In this case, the spiralling orb that the blonde contained definitely counted as a power source for his technique.

"Before I become Hokage, I definitely won't die!" Were Naruto's last words as he could feel the power of a contained storm encircled him and the winds howled in awesome fury. Kabuto was literally blown away from the impact as the ground beneath the blonde shattered from the sheer amount of power that the boy displayed and at the very epicentre of this attack was Naruto, absorbing every bit of the Rasengan's tempestuous strength.

"END GAME, KABUTO!"

Orochimaru had a surprised look on his face. To him, this was lightning in a bottle for Konoha. A boy that would prove much too dangerous for his plans, he thought.

Jiraiya took the opportunity to perform a jutsu and inhaled.

"Katon: Karyuu Endan (Fire Release: Fire Dragon Napalm Bomb)!" A huge surge of searing flames excited Jiraiya's mouth on top of a gigantic toad as Jiraiya burned all the snakes alive from his jutsu.

In surprise, Orochimaru jumped back and scowled.

Back to Naruto, the winds gave a furious howl as Naruto stood on the middle. The clone dispelling from the sheer force of the wind that had pushed him away as dust and debris flew about as he came out of his previous location. Kabuto scowled, he had never thought that the boy had just covered that one glaring weakness of his jutsu. Naruto, however, was the one now that was giving that menacing smirk against him.

"Keisei Gyakuten (Reverse Situation), bastard!"

With those words, Naruto vanished from his position and reappeared just beside Kabuto and he was already in midkick.

A sickle of wind escaped from the blonde's motion as Kabuto had jumped back and raised his lower torso and feet. The high pressured wind jutsu sailed below him fast but Naruto was already on work with multiple kunai and shuriken flying towards Kabuto at a fast pace. Naruto wasn't satisfied with the speed of his projectiles and decided to add more push to them. With a punch, a vacuum of wind escaped from his arm and pushed the shuriken towards his enemy faster. Kabuto shielded himself as the wind went by him at first cutting his cheek as the hail of knives and shuriken suddenly pierced his flesh while some passed by behind him. By now, Naruto had vanished at Kabuto's front and had jumped just several inches away from Kabuto, his hand grabbed a kunai from mid-air and slashed at the medic crucial enough to cause a decent amount of blood loss from the medic's back from the shoulder blades to the just above the lumbar spine and Naruto landed on his feet and held out two hands together in a clawing gesture at his front, touching finger to finger and began gathering chakra to them. He then began spinning it around and the chakra began to take shape. Naruto then began to contain it in the orb on his palm

The chakra glowed blue, incandescent but stood majestically as Naruto charged at Kabuto with the full intent of eradicating the silver haired medic.

"DIE!"

The blonde's expression showed something that Kabuto thought, perhaps was worse than Sasuke. Naruto had primal emotions and probably due to the fox, the boy's emotional capacities were being manipulated to a certain degree. This wasn't anger, this wasn't rage, no, all of those extreme forms of wrath were nothing compared to this. This was true, blood-curdling malice.

"RASENGAN (Spiralling Sphere)!"

Naruto's darkening expressions finally reared its ugly head when the blonde shoved the Rasengan on to Kabuto's stomach.

But Kabuto ultimately laid in one more blow before he was blasted with the Yondaime Hokage's technique and sent crashing to a boulder behind him while the ground became entrenched from the sheer force of the technique. Kabuto had managed to hit Naruto straight on the chest and mangled the boy's myocardial muscles.

Naruto was suddenly stopped by the sudden aching of his chest and then nothing. He coughed out blood just before he fell down with a sense of victory.

It was a slow, horrifyingly painful watch as Tsunade and Shizune saw Naruto fall down on the ground, blood flowing from his mouth and forehead before hitting the earth beneath him with his back.

"I… Win… You see that… Granny?" Naruto let out one final sentence before his vision was consumed by the darkness.

'That tenacity… Naruto-kun, you're truly a shinobi that should be destined for greatness.' Shizune was about to come to aid the boy when she heard the sound of Jiraiya's voice shouting vehemently. It was then that she noticed Orochimaru lunging in mid-air as he headed straight towards the boy, the sword of Kusanagi sprouted from his mouth. Just as he was close to the blonde, a figure had appeared just in time, her right fists were glowing with powerful chakra and sent it straight to the Sannin's face.

The result was an earth shattering, teeth clenching blow as Orochimaru was hit on his left arm and promptly sent tumbling back by at least several hundred meters. Shizune stood in awe as Tsunade stood there, fists still glowing. Her façade of fear was gone and in place was one of pure concentration. She looked down to the bow and with a simple flick of her heel, she tapped the earth beneath her feet and shouted the name of her technique.

"Doton: Go Doroku Gaeshi (Earth Release: Five Earth Wall Land Flips)"

Soon, five slabs of earth erected all around her and the boy as she said shouted to Jiraiya.

"Jiraiya, keep Orochimaru occupied for a while. I'm tending to the boy. This is an order… From your Godaime Hokage!"

'Nawaki, Dan, my memories of you has saddened me far too long. But this boy, he has reminded me of the times when you two were still alive. I'll forever cherish your memories, but this boy, who carries your will and desire, I will save him for all our sakes!'

With that, Tsunade's hands turned green, finally activating her healing chakra as she tended to the boy that stood up to a jounin.

"Tsunade, I find you saving that boy truly illogical. You have forsaken your chances of being with your lover and your younger brother for the sake of being part of a washed up village that serves no other purpose but cause grief." Orochimaru commented as he got up Jiraiya stood between him and the earthen wall erected from the Toad Hermit's back.

"You have no idea what you're on about Orochimaru. For the sake of the village, that boy was putting everything on the line, just like what Nawaki and Dan would have willingly done. What you don't get is the bonds that people share, something that you have thrown away for the sake of power. That boy that just beat your attendant? He'll go places and he'll be even better than your precious Uchiha. That kid has guts, Orochimaru. Something like you couldn't possibly ever have." Jiraiya mentioned in a smirk, with the effects of the drug minimizing, he was slowly gaining his strength back.

"That boy will only be a burden, Jiraiya. You know the types of people that will go after him. It is better he dies now or both our plans will be in jeopardy." Orochimaru replied with a scowl.

The toad hermit smirked, "I'm not even going to consider it. Besides, him being a dangerous threat to you in the future satisfies my childish ego."

With that, Jiraiya began performing a series of seals and his hair sharpened.

"Ninpo: Hari Jizou (Ninja Art: Hair Needle Guardians)"

With Naruto's mindscape:

Kurama looked around and saw the constructs of Naruto's mind around him slowly disappeared from the encroaching darkness.

'This place is getting dark… So dark…'

The boy was dying, Kurama deduced. The encroaching darkness coincided with the boy's weakening life force. He had surmised that the boy had a debilitating injury that would be difficult to heal even with his chakra. His regeneration could only do so much in this current state due to the seal. Not that he would be willing to spare chakra for this runt, no. If this was the limit and the peak of the boy's powers, then this was as far as he was going to go. Bijuu like him would reform after a few years. It wouldn't be much an inconvenience for him anyway.

'This is as far as you go, brat.'

When the darkness had crept into the cage of the seal, Kurama noticed it got slower and slower until it eventually stopped never even reaching past a third of its steel bars. The darkness soon receded back into the floors, into the pipes and began disappearing as far as he could see.

'It would seem luck still has more to play for you, brat. You are fortunate.'

Back in the physical world, Tsunade was vigorously healing the boy with all her will power. Her renewed spirit would simply not let this boy, who carried the same dreams for the future as his brother and lover, die so easily. So when his breathing stabilized, she was relieved fully and in one more act of pure cheekiness from Naruto, he reached out his right hand and grabbed hold of the necklace on her neck.

"Guess… I win the bet, Granny." He said with a smirk, it was weak but strong at the same time and Tsunade for the first time in more than a decade, cried with tears of joy.

"Yeah, you did, brat. And I've never been so glad at losing before." Tsunade held the boys hand with both of hers and removed the necklace around her neck. All of her hopes and dreams were now riding with this relatively unknown kid that had a larger than life attitude and the one that gave her hope.

"It's yours now…"

With that, the jutsu around her dispelled and the earthen walls collapsed around them. She turned her back on the boy that was now resting peacefully behind her and her expression turned fierce. In front of her stood Jiraiya, his jutsu still activated as he repelled Orochimaru quite well enough. The effect of her drug had expectantly run out and Jiraiya was holding off Orochimaru.

"So glad that you could finally join us, hime." Jiraiya said with a smirk and Tsunade took a step forward.

"Shut up. Orochimaru is mine." She said those words with clear intent of taking out their former teammate.

"Hmph. Loyalty to a village that has done absolutely nothing for you. What absolute lunacies that you two still delude yourselves into." Orochimaru commented while Jiraiya spoke.

"Bite me, Orochimaru. What we're doing today isn't just for Konoha. This is for Sarutobi-sensei. This is for all the people that you've killed and caused harm in the village." Jiraiya replied and gave the Snake sannin the middle finger.

"Orochimaru, I'm putting an end to all your schemes right here and now!" Tsunade finally roared as she bit down on her right thumb. Jiraiya was quick to do the same as he began performing the sequence of seals.

"KABUTO!" Orochimaru shouted and within seconds, Kabuto had appeared beside Orochimaru now fully healed.

"Storing your healing chakra into your cells that creates an advanced mitotic rate at all your basal layers, you're a very astute medic, aren't you?" Tsunade asked as she slammed her hand on the ground.

"A neat trick, but my jutsu is better." Tsunade then slammed her hand on the ground as the seal matrix appeared beneath her just as Orochimaru and Jiraiya did the same.

"KUCHIYOSE NO JUTSU!"

And soon, the battle of Tanzaku Gai would witness its legendary battle between three equally legendary people.

There standing in the age old fashion of the great three-way deadlock, were Tsunade, Jiraiya and Orochimaru, accompanied by Gamabunta, Katsuyu and Manda.

This was going to be another battle for the ages.


Konoha:

Sasuke was kneeling down and catching his breath. In front of him, Kakashi stood perfectly still, one hand holding a wooden sword. He had never pegged Kakashi to be a truly brutal sensei if he was serious enough.

"This style of swordsmanship is what the ANBU favour above all others. This is what made Itachi so agile and incredibly fast. It focuses on speed to perform the first strike in near perfect precision. Any wasted movement becomes completely covered by the fact that you target weak spots like the neck, the chest, the head and then some. The philosophy of this style is 'one swift stroke, one simple step'. With Itachi's sharingan and this particular training, it was the perfect complement to each other supplemental to that, was Uchiha Shisui's very effective use of the shunshin no jutsu, then it's no wonder that your brother would come out as a very gifted shinobi."

Then he went to Sasuke and urged him to get up with a simple push of his foot to the boy's side.

"Now, get up. In order to perfectly understand this style, you're going to have to get used to being hit by it. You need to learn to defend yourself against me before I can successfully endorse you to the current ANBU commander."

Sasuke did as he was told and used his wooden sword as a support to get up. Kakashi waited patiently as his student was up and looked to his right to see his shadow clone instructing Sakura now.

"Unlike your standard katana, these things are actually double edged. So I can't teach you what I am teaching to Sasuke. However, I can teach you a far more different style than Sasuke's." Kakashi spoke while Sakura was sitting on the ground listening to her teacher.

"How different are the two styles sensei? Isn't there only one preferred style that many of our shinobi use? And why did you have me practice with a shinai then if it would be practically useless in what you're about to teach me?"

Kakashi nodded.

"True, there is only one preferred style in this village. But different blades require different uses. Yours, for example, require a much more careful and methodical approach unlike Katanas that are less dangerous for users and much lighter to use. So I trained you with swinging a shinai to get acquainted on how to swing a sword much like what I am doing to Sasuke. But for all intents and purposes, you two have different ways of thinking. A specific sword style then should fit for specific purposes for specific people. For example, your swords are double edged meaning bouncing your blade against someone else is likely to lead you to cut yourself and leaving yourself open. Of course, the chakra blades are much better because of its nature as a weapon itself. But I want to train you as if you are still fighting with a pair of short swords. To do that, I should brief you with the history of the sword style you are about to learn."

Kakashi then grabbed the pair of swords from Sakura's small backpack and held the two glowing swords in both his hands.

"There is a pair of swords from Kirigakure that was held by one of the shinobi swordsmen of the mist. Her craft involved triangulation footwork, twirling her wrists to deflect or parry and perform devastatingly quick slashes in rapid successions with lethal force. Many who stood in her way were cut down to pieces. So brutal, quick and efficient were her attacks that it was said that those who tried to face her would ultimately fall into a trance like state called 'Shinobuto (Dance of Death)'. I unfortunately never had the chance to face her but I did get the chance to encounter that specific style in one of my missions, the user called it 'Yaban'na Okami no Sakebi (Cry of the Savage Wolf)'."

Sakura nodded at her sensei's words. Learning a foreign style did sound extremely appealing to her just because of her curiosity and from what she could deduce, a complicated fighting style that her mind can sink its teeth into. Who knew Kakashi-sensei, of all people, was actually a very astute teacher?

"I can only teach you what I have witnessed, Sakura. You're going to have to make do with what I have. The rest of its advanced techniques, you have to create and master on your own. Just remember the important key points that I'll be saying to you now; grapple, disarm, strike, joint lock, and throw. Every part of your sword is a weapon. From the hilt, to the guard, and to the blade, there is no part of a weapon that can't be used against an enemy."

This time, Kakashi had handed to her a wooden stick that was about the size of her arm.

"For this lesson, I'll teach you the angles and how you can hit in different ways either forehand or backhand. But you must do this while weighed down on your arms to maximize your swinging speed."

Kakashi then used a single handseal and Sakura was suddenly surprised that the weight of the small wooden stick suddenly increased.

"Come at me, Sakura, let's see if you can effectively learn this style."

Of course, Kakashi knew that Sakura had the perfect mindset to learn this style, but the question remains, can she handle it?

That would be something to discover.

Outskirts of Tanzaku City:

"Huh, nostalgia has a funny way to catch up to you once you realize who you're facing with." Gamabunta commented as he took his pipe and began smoking.

"Only difference is I get no awkward moments with the living leather apparel now that I can skin him for a nice wallet. I always wanted one since I met Manda. It would be nice with his head on a pike near the house too." Gamabunta said this with a hint of joy in his voice. After all the forced teamwork bullshit he had with the snake boss, he was finally, finally, getting a chance to cleave his knife on the snake's skull.

As a gesture of a disrespectful taunt, Gamabunta blew smoke to the snake summon's face.

"Watch your mouth, sewer toad. I should eat you where you stand for your meagre threats!"

Manda hissed at the boss toad. The toad knew perfectly well that he relied more on his vision and sensing the air with his tongue rather than eyesight for this belligerent, pipe smoking uncouth amphibian to blow a few wicks of smoke at him, that was a sign of disrespect and defiance against his authority who is rightfully considered the strongest of the three summons.

Gamabunta simply laughed at that.

"Ha! The only thing you're eating here today is my blade cutting your stomach!"

While the two were beginning to draw tension, a giant white slug had looked at its summoner and asked.

"Tsunade-sama, what would you have me do?"

"Katsuyu, separate the boy from us and give her to Shizune. This battle is not meant for me to carry an injured child. Besides…" Tsunade trailed off as she watched Jiraiya gather his chakra and began producing a sensory barrier around him. It seemed like the man was waiting for something.

The seal on her forehead suddenly glowed and spread throughout her head and reaching down her cheek, Katsuyu recognized that Tsunade was not going to use Souzo Saisei (Genesis Rebirth), but rather her most powerful technique, The Byakugo no Jutsu (Strength of a Hundred Technique).

"… I intend to finish off this little meeting we have with Orochimaru once and for all."


To be continued…

Ah, I finally updated again. I never noticed it was the end of one of my most favourite manga series from Shounen Jump. It's rather melancholic for me. I've been a reader since High School (15 at the time) and now, I'm twenty five, finally taking medicine and also about to finish it as well. I grew up with this manga, I guess. Ten years of reading, ten years of my life that I read this on a weekly basis and I'm happy that it's done. Also, Naruto and Hinata happening? I did not totally foresee that (insert sarcasm here)! But hey, shounen manga, a genre that had Goku and Bulma on almost every chapter of dragon ball but Goku marrying Chichi at the end and Ichigo 100% existed (Nishino being the woman that Manaka goes to at the end) where the most unlikely of couples also end up happening. Karui and Chouji? I did not fucking foresee, THAT I can tell you! Shino now also looks like Cyclops and Kiba becoming a desperate horn dog. Shikamaru and Temari happened as foreshadowed. But Sasuke and Sakura happening after all the years of the shitty attitude Sasuke had was somewhat rage inducing but ultimately, I had to let it go. A lot can happen between 699 and the large timeskip with the epilogue. Sasuke's road to redemption is more offscreen and he probably realized then and there that his heart wanted a family with Sakura, I don't fucking know. Sakura still pinning for him after all the years he had treated her like shit would be a more horrible thought for her, but then again her characterization wasn't handled well to begin with. Also, did you guys see the big technological leap of that world? We have Naruto with a laptop that is as modern as it is now and then the Konoha skyline that is littered with tall skyscrapers just behind the Hokage Montain. Jesus it's like they skipped several generations and went straight to the Digital Age.

Enough about that rant, let's get back to business.

Sakura's soon to be style is based from our martial art, Escrima or Arnis de Mano (Kali for people that don't know about the real name) and just like Kakashi's explanation, it's a complicated fighting style that involves weapons, hand-to-hand, joint locks, grapples and throw downs. Unlike other traditional martial arts, Escrima starts off with weapons before going hand-to-hand. It is actually used by the military because of its effective and often lethal combat use (It actually IS used for warfare) ever since its conception pre-spanish colony days were tribes were scattered all around the archipelago. There are multiple principles in Escrima that are actually quite pragmatic and ruthless in nature. For example, in knife fights, instead of going for the initial kill, an Escrimador (Escrima user) would target to slice his opponent's hand in order to disarm before he goes in to finish the job with a grapple and then a slice at the throat. What makes Escrima such an effective art isn't because of the rapid fire hits that you can have, but the existence of the checking hand. The checking hand is used to grapple, negotiate the position, block, disarm and give way for the weapon to strike.

If you ask me why I used knives as an example is because knives are a common tool for protection here in the Philippines especially in the province where concealed weapons are legal unless it's a knuckle duster. We have switch blades, balisongs (Butterfly knives), baton swords, jungle bolos, karambits (It's a sickle blade like a claw of a raptor and held in a reverse grip) out in the open. Firearms are more scrutinized but black markets exist here (not as much as they used to, but there are still some).

The Sannin battle continues next chapter, as well as more character development. Until then, Read and Review, please and thank you all.

Anonymous reviews have been disabled. Login to review. 1. The Stone that Ripples Waters 13228 0 0 2. The Effect: The First Movement 8867 0 0 3. The Effect: The Second Movement 10598 0 0 4. The Effect: Result 7879 0 0 5. Resonating 9957 0 0 6. Full Bloom 10114 0 0 7. Soldier of Fortune 10872 0 0 8. Legacy Awakened 9583 0 0 9. Tranquility 9813 0 0 10. Waves from A Ripple 11051 0 0 11. Flickering Flames 11564 0 0 12. Wilting Flowers 11513 0 0 13. Phantom 10033 0 0 14. Reasoning 9751 0 0 15. This Winding Road Part One 11952 0 0 16. This Winding Road Part Two 17097 0 0 17. Epilogue Book 1 13428 0 0 18. Book 2: Metamorphosis Part 1 10083 0 0 19. Book 2: Metamorphosis Part 2 11223 0 0 20. Metamorphosis END 13460 0 0 21. Legacy Part 1 14797 0 0 22. Legacy Part 2 11298 0 0 23. Legacy Part 3 8616 0 0 24. Inheritors part 1 12113 0 0 25. Inheritors part 2 12138 0 0 26. Inheritors part 3 9565 0 0 27. Succession part 1 9726 0 0 28. Succession part 2 11069 0 0 29. Succession part 3 book 2 END 12168 0 0 30. Book Three Chapter 1: Rebirth 11842 0 0 31. Beginning 10413 0 0 32. Renown 10217 0 0 33. Assault 15002 0 0 34. Challenge 13082 0 0 35. Sublimation 15277 0 0 36. The First Encounter 12700 0 0 37. Three Dragons 10106 0 0 38. The Long Night 12167 0 0 39. The Enemy Within 11032 0 0 40. Chapter 40 9116 0 0