There once lived a man who if not for a simple choice made on a fairly ordinary day could have forever altered the course of human history and though his name is now long forgotten by time his choice and its effects remain in the lives of billions of the inhabitants of the world and the fate of the five great ninja nations.
If Naruto Uzumaki knew anything it was that one never pissed off anybody who was able to keep pace with him and more to the point never to piss anybody off who bore white-hot rage for his deed. But in his defense, he wasn't going to eat that apple anyway so why should it matter if he took it from his table. It was far better it be enjoyed by somebody else than tossed aside uneaten. Of course, the man didn't seem too keen on viewing it in such a light. All he seemed to want is to rip him a new one with that meat cleaver of his that was still covered in bits of blood and meat from his last job. Such was the scene in which our mysterious hero enters the picture.
Naruto didn't know what had happened. One second the man was about to cut him in two and end his pitifully short life of a measly 8 years and the next second that very same man was face-first unmoving upon the ground. His weapon of choice flying harmlessly away and landing in a bush some dozen or so feet away from his wannabe killer.
"If I may ask why was that man trying to kill you just now"? Came the voice of a elder man with hair as white as freshly fallen snow who held eyes of the greenest eyes of emerald.
"Um...I just took this here apple. He was just going to toss it in the bin anyway...so I took it to eat. I haven't eaten anything in nearly three days so I was kind of hoping he wouldn't see me or if he did that he wouldn't care that I took it from his table". Naruto said as he fell onto the grass and took in a long breath of fresh air. Truth be told he was rather happy that this man had saved his life even though he didn't know who exactly this man was or even if he was from the village. He didn't seem to have the same hatred for his existence as the other villagers but then again the village was rather huge so maybe he simply didn't know who he was and so didn't know he should be trying to kill him or at least beat him up.
The man didn't seem too pleased with his answer but after a few seconds seemed to relax. Upon seeing this Naruto couldn't help but relax as well as if being in the presence of this mysterious man had a calming effect upon him. He wasn't sure why that was but at this point, he didn't much care. He was alive and that was enough for him.
"If you truly have nobody to keep you safe allow me to take you in. I was coming to this village in search of an apprentice and it seems the goddess Yuniki has seen fit to link our fates together. Do you wish to be my apprentice young one"? The man asked as he held out his hand. Naruto unsure what to make of him simply eyed the hand for a second before standing up and asking him what that would entail.
"It means you will learn the art of swordsmanship. I was once a well-known warrior but I'm too old to enter battle and have thus seen fit to seek out an apprentice to bestow upon my knowledge and skills. Do you not wish to learn the art of the sword"? The man asked as he eyed the boy before him.
"Before I answer you I would first like to know who you are. If you are to teach me I should at least know who my sensei is called...should I not? Naruto said as he awaited the man's answer.
"Fair enough I guess my name is Akio Mitarashi. However, I'm better known as the White Fox by what few have lived to tell of my tale which to be fair is at most a dozen people most of whom are now dead, and what few remain are too old to be of much worry". Mitarashi answered as he in turn awaited the boy's answer to his own inquiry.
"If I take you up on this would that mean we will be leaving the village"? Naruto asked the man. He wasn't sure the Hokage would be ok with him just leaving the village, after all, he was just eight years old. Nobody in their right mind would expect an eight-year-old child to be able to defend themselves from the dangers of the wider world. Jailer of a demon fox or otherwise and while he was at first taken aback at this realization he had soon come to accept this fact. It wouldn't do him any good being upset over something he couldn't fix after all. It was far better he just deal with this as best he could and try to master the demon's vast amount of insanely dense chakra.
"Of course we would...in time anyway. I was planning on enjoying the hot springs and maybe even partake in a few games of cards. But we would depart in about a week's time". Mitarashi said as he watched as the boy digested this recent information.
"Ok I accept your apprenticeship but I should let old man Hokage know. He is one of the only people who take care of me and I would feel bad if I didn't at least let him know about this". Naruto said after thinking about what that would mean for both him and the village. The man in turn only nodded his head in understanding before he turned and walked ever deeper into the village. Naruto not too far behind.
If the Hokage knew the kind of day he was going to have he doubted he would have even rolled out of his bed and entered this damnable office and deal with this pain in the ass paperwork. For the past 17 hours, he had been stamping his approval on everything from installing a new water fountain in one of the many parks to three new zoning requests in the southern part of the village. All in all, a fairly unremarkable day all things considered. That was of course until Naruto entered the office and dropped an absolute bombshell the size of the nine-tailed fox himself.
"I'm sorry you're doing what"? The Hokage asked as he looked at his surrogate grandson. The fact a man who he didn't know was standing beside him was of course reason enough to question the relation between Naruto's leaving the village and this man's appearance in his office. He was sure that the two were linked but in what way and to what extent he didn't yet know though he was by sage going to find out before the pair left the room.
"I'm going to leave the village. This guy says he'll teach me the art of swordsmanship. How cool is that grandpa Hokage"? Naruto asked as he couldn't help but jump around the office with the boundless energy of a child.
"And who by sage is this man"? The aged Hokage asked as he eyed the man up and down trying and failing to place a name upon the man's appearance. He could tell that the man was aged perhaps as old as he himself was but beyond that, the man was a complete and utter mystery.
"I'm Mitarashi...Akio Mitarashi. I'm better known as the White Fox."
With his answer, the old Hokage eyed the man in utter astonishment. He of course knew who the White Fox was. The fact that this man...this legendary warrior of days long since passed was standing just a few feet away from his surrogate grandson was a terrifying prospect. The man was the stuff of legends. Here stood a man that even the boy's father who was easily one of the most powerful the village had ever seen would be hard-pressed to match in battle. The fact that he of all people was going to teach Naruto the way of the sword was something that he couldn't even begin to comprehend the prospect was simply that ridiculous.
"When do you intend to depart the village"? The Hokage asked still trying to wrap his head around that bombshell of an announcement.
"In a week. Until then I plan on partaking in a few games of cards and a nice long soak in your famous hot springs. I'm told you have a few training grounds that are underused...I was planning on showing...this boy the fundamentals". Akio Mitarashi said as he placed his hand upon the boy's right shoulder much to the boy's clear irritation.
"Very well you may use training ground 29. It is almost never used besides in the four weeks leading up to the third part of the Chunin Exams. However, I will have my ANBU agents watch over your training for the time being at least until you depart the village". The Hokage said as he waved the pair off. He had a tower of paperwork that was nearly as tall as he was and if he didn't resume his duty as Hokage he would never escape this office until the wee hours of the morning.
Naruto wasn't quite sure where exactly his sensei was taking him but he knew he had never been so far removed from the village walls. Training ground 29 was outside the massive walls of the village for one reason and that reason was that it had been established sometime before the second great ninja world war necessitated the construction of the massive wall that now snaked its way around the massive village. It was also due to the fact that the kind of training one tended to do in this training ground was less than safe, to say the least, and so was deemed better to do so far away from any possible collateral damage.
"Ok so before I give you a training sword tell me first what do you know about Fujitsu"? Akio asked as he watched as the boy seemed to squirm under his intense gaze.
"Nothing we don't start Fujitsu classes until age ten. I'm only eight". Naruto answered the man who at once seemed to be disappointed with what now passed for a ninja academy's curriculum. He could understand that the second great ninja war was long oval and that the days of sending preteens into combat situations were more or less done away with but even so, this was simply unacceptable. No true ninja worthy of the name would be without at least a basic understanding of the art of seals. The many uses of seals were simply too numerous to overlook.
"Ok, so that'll be your first lesson. Learning seals. Until I am satisfied with your ability in the art that is Fujitsu you will learn nothing about swordsmanship. Am I clear, boy"? Akio asked.
"My name is Naruto...Naruto Uzumaki". Naruto said upset at being called boy. He had a name and it was the proper way to address someone.
"Until you prove your worth to me you'll be called boy. Don't like that name then prove your worth to me". Akio said as he started his lesson. A task that would take the better part of the week to do.