Disclaimer: I don´t own Naruto
Chapter 04: Reunification (Early lunchtime 04.10.36 AfoK - 05.10.36 AfoK early morning)
As it turned out Tsunade was a lousy loser, she didn´t have the dignity to show up in person for the meal while enduring being made fun of, instead, she came by Ichiraku and told him she would pay for everything we ate and would bring the money the next day.
I wasn´t amused and hypothesized I might have teased her a little bit too much, but discarded that thought as fast as it came to mind. This screamed for some kind of retribution, the question being what prank is appropriate for this situation Hmm.
Mito and I each had our reason for being angry at Tsunade´s behavior, Kushina, on the other hand, couldn´t be happier, not to suffer her presence while eating on her tab. And boy did she take advantage, every Bowl she had was filled with more extras than their usual content. She even went so far as to order a dozen bowls to go for her second dinner later in the day.
To my and Kushina Suprise Mito allowed it, without so much as an objection. Might have been an allowance since Kushina did not challenge me again to Ramen eating contest, I personally doubted she learned her lesson, it probably was her way of thanking me for teaching her by not trying to thrash me. And I had to emphasize the word try, she might think differently but I won´t be dethroned as the Ramen King ever!
Subsequently, we went home. I helped Kushina refine the two jutsu I taught her earlier in the day and Mito vanished somewhere in the house.
The day for me ended a few hours later after the second Ramen buffet courtesy of Kushina who was nice enough to share some of her loot.
After that, I didn´t stick around for long and went to my room with the help of a few Kage-Bunshin I enlarged the Shiki Fuin on my stomach. I have lost count how many times I had to fix it in some fashion.
It was high time I replaced it with the labor of my hard work, now that Kurama isn´t in it and a slight mistake could cost me my life I had free reign to adapt and evolve it, there was only so much that could be built on top of something if the base wasn´t designed for it.
I had to be ready should the worst case come to pass, and the current seal on my stomach wouldn´t hold up to what would be required of it even though powered by the Shinigami with my father´s soul as Brickstone. It needed to become more and I had an idea on how to achieve that.
We were jumping from tree to tree, I could sense another presence being snuffed out. I increased my speed again, despite knowing we won´t make it in time, we were just too far away. My companions who already struggled to keep up with me before I made haste slowly fell behind.
I didn´t care, I cursed Sakura and pushed myself even further.
When I finally reached the site the battle took place the attackers had already retreated leaving behind a battlefield dozens of shinobi strewn about their innards adorning the ground, the stink of death lingering about amidst the simmering flames marking the places Fire-jutsu connected with their surroundings.
Lying against a tree I found her, Sakura, she was the last to die, her body a wrangled mess her limbs cut away from her and the torso littered with hundreds of wounds, where jutsu and kunai penetrated her flesh over and over again until her chakra finally ran out and her regeneration jutsu stopped working only then did she die.
Tortured to death. Stupid woman, why would you destroy your Hiraishin marker. You were the only one left, the only one as hard to kill as me and now you left me too. And this wouldn´t have been the first trap of Madara that I sprung, Dammit Sakura what were you thinking.
I released the seal on her body containing her personal effects within them the medical encyclopedia she wrote after Tsunade´s death to preserve her knowledge within were the plans she and Tsunade worked on in their free-time their dream hospital as they called it.
Having everything a doctor and its patient could ever hope, to wish for.
Their little project, in such a dire situation we found ourselves in everybody, needed something to hang on to in order not lose hope and what better way was there than to plan for the after.
I pocketed it. My hands balled into fists at my side I gave her a last silent salute and then I took off, there were no tears left in my body to be shed and I had no time to waste, I had some guys to kill.
At this moment I didn´t care what trap they laid for me Sakura didn´t want me to step into I had just one feeling one desire in my entire body that needed to be sated, my hunger for revenge.
I woke up in the middle of the night by the rustling of fabric close to me. I kept my eyes closed and a sweep with my sensor power told me it was Mito, who for some reason was standing in my room in the middle of the night.
Long before she got close enough to shake me awake I opened my eyes and turned her way. She had her cane with her, which I didn´t hear while she walked and placed it on the ground. A silencing seal perhaps? Which begged the question why not use the same to mask the other sound she makes? Must have been intentional only a moron would get close to a shinobi in a manner that might be construed as ill intention especially when they are at their most vulnerable, during their sleep.
I asked. I knew she wouldn´t come to me at such a strange time if it wouldn´t be important. She after all was around me the whole afternoon and evening, but so was Kushina the paranoid part of my mind added.
"I think it would be better we talk somewhere else." She said.
Sensible Kushina had her room on the second floor and the walls were thick, nonetheless, she is a shinobi in training better to be safe especially if we are discussing anything she was better off not overhear.
Furthermore, we couldn´t risk a Hyuuga having his eyes pointed at us, they usually are expert lip readers and the barriers around the house and the compound weren´t capable to hinder their sight, not much could actually.
There are a few high powered barriers that run a lot of chakra through them which at least distort what they could make out inside the barrier, similar to looking through a murky glass.
It wouldn´t be enough to not be seen, having our lips read on the other hand will be all but impossible. Which sufficed for our purposes.
She led me through parts of the house I haven´t been to before to a reinforced door. She removed a key dangling from the chain necklace around her neck and put it into a lock. The door that opened cleared the way to a spiraling staircase that lead deep down into the basement of the building.
She placed her hand on the wall to her right and along the walls lights flared up, clearly the product of some seal work. We walked down the stairs for quite some time, deeper into the ground with every step.
The purpose of the basement revealed itself to me after Mito opened up another door after reaching the bottom level, while I thought the other door was reinforced it paled to the monster in front of me. It was a safe hundreds of seals carved into it one more intricate than the other something I could infer through the visible encryption alone.
When the heavy double door swung open it gave way to a huge room hidden behind it. It was an extensive library full of scrolls sorted in Ninjutsu Taijutsu Genjutsu and Fujinjutsu portions. I have seen something like this once or twice, Clan-libraries usually, look exactly like that but none I have seen before was this extensive. The Genjutsu portion the smallest one was bigger than complete libraries of some clans combined twice over.
I followed Mito inside and the heavy doors closed behind us. She reached for the key around her neck and gave it to me.
"It is yours now, together with everything else the Uzumaki clan of Konoha owns as the new Clan Head." She said to me.
She made me her heir, no her words had more far-reaching implications. She closed her hands painfully around mine holding the key and there was a sting I felt and the key glowed for a second immediately after. What shouldn´t be possible, my seal should prevent that from happening without my consent. My blood leaving my body should be inert for any jutsu relying on a genetic marker of any kind.
She smirked at me and released the grip on my hand allowing me to open it, a short glance at the key made it obvious it was masterwork and one of the countless seals adorning it was designed to penetrate the one protecting my body fluids, which thinking about it makes sense it should even be a requirement for such a key lest it might be fooled.
She took a step away from me.
"We are currently in the Main-Hall the jutsu library, in here resides the collection of jutsu I was able to gather and write down over the years some entries I brought with me from Uzu when I first came to Konoha to marry Hashirama some are copies from what I found in the Senju library.
And then there are the foul creations I helped Tobirama create in a weak moment after the death of my husband. Jutsu I hope will never see the light of the day. Then you came along and I wondered, that despite the atrocity one particular jutsu turned out to be, it perhaps was the right thing to develop it. I heard those sweet words in my head, this time spoken by myself not by Tobirama when he took advantage of me, of my grief, and for the first time since our success I understood where he came from." Mito reminiscent with a voice that nearly broke at the end.
It wasn´t hard to puzzle the pieces together, the Second Hokage was known for his Water-jutsu and the groundwork of the Hiraishin that my father brought to new never before seen heights and the Edo-Tensei this accursed jutsu. It all suddenly made sense, how a Senju could develop a jutsu that wrest the souls from the Shinigami when he was worshipped by the Uzumaki, he must have had help and thinking back to the notes of the Hiraishin Tobirama version clearly had a strong influence in how an Uzumaki would draw a seal similar to my father's hand whose knowledge to no small part must have come from my mother.
And this also would explain how Dad could come up with something like the Shiki Fujin, with Mom thinking herself the last Uzumaki she would of course teach him even the best-kept secrets of the clan.
"Edo-Tensei, Hiraishin you helped him create them."
The words I said weren´t a question, but an accusation.
"You know about them?" she asked suprised "Then things must have been dire if you or your predecessor saw the need to use them."
"Oh the need was there –" I confessed. "But our side never used the jutsu. It was stolen by an enemy who used it against us. It was by this jutsu Hiruzen was forced to use a suicide jutsu summoning the Shinigami to win against a revived First and Second Hokage."
She paled and nearly fell down if not for my fast reflexes. I caught her and sat her down in a nearby chair.
"There are two seals I devised years after Tobirama was gone. I couldn´t allow for such a jutsu to exist without the means to combat it. The first applied to anyone will make it sure that when they die the hold over them by the Shinigami is absolute they won´t ever be able to escape him and make it´s way back in the land of the living. I applied it to myself and Kushina the other seal, frees the souls from the jutsu sending them back in death embrace." she said, it was clear to see it disturbed her greatly how the creations she had a hand in and were meant to safeguard the village were used to destroy it.
"Don´t worry I had no intention to ever allow for that jutsu to be used ever again. After having fought against many of best friends and family, after they were being revived preventing this from occurring made it to the top of my list." I reassured her.
Her seals would be useful, I was working on something similar might be interesting to compare notes and to see if her work could still be used against the improved version of the Edo-Tensei. I hoped it wouldn´t require me to test it in order to find out.
She was visibly relieved to hear that.
"So you know about the copy in the Scroll of Seals, Tobirama created to collect all the dangerous but potentially useful jutsu in it." she inquired.
"Yes, I do and I have my eyes upon the one who is gonna steal it." I said.
"Good, that´s good – Now where were we?"
"You were about to tell me about the other rooms and their function."
"Right, through the door behind me you can reach the Master-seal of the compound every other seal applied somewhere in it is linked to this one and can be edited activated and erased from over there. The key I gave you gives you access to it. Then there is an armory filled to the brim with weapons seals and the like, enough to equip an army, a forge with rare materials is nearby.
Then there is a huge training hall, able to simulate nearly any surrounding imaginable you design and place on a memory seal." She explained.
Listening to that I had to suppress the urge to try it out, such a room is of an incredible value. In wars the home field advantage even during the 4th, in which the fighting forces should have learned from the past, was astounding. What some Suna-puppeteers could do while fighting on sand or Kiri-Nin were capable of with water nearby was just frightening and it is not easy to recreate those environments, the villages sure tried, but those simulacra never came close to the real deal.
"I have also established a record room where I keep all the originals of the dealings of our clan, contracts, and the like. Next to it, there is a small library mostly filled with old history texts. It is also where I stored a not insubstantial part of the wealth of the clan in various forms, money, and gold are just two of them. The rest can be accessed through the Konoha bank, ownership of them was transferred to you, to accelerate the whole process, their bureaucracy sometimes takes forever and I didn´t want to risk anything or anybody trying something with those funds."
It made sense since I wasn´t her direct descendant they could have tried to make a case against us about who is the rightful successor to get some kind of concession from either me or Tsunade whoever they finally decide to go with. Doing something like this could hurt them in the short term should it get out, depending on the sum it might still be worth it.
Seems like she considered everything, I, in her shoes, might have forgotten it, never really got the chance to handle anything funding related. By the time I wore the hat there wasn´t much left that needed oversight.
"The centerpiece of this all is a copy of the place Hashirama and I designed with the transfer of the Kyuubi in mind, outside of the village. It should be enough to withstand and hide the transfer so not only those noisy Hyuuga would notice it taking place if not looking for it. This way the higher-ups all not informed can only guess who is the new Kyuubi Jinchuriki, you or Kushina, or perhaps might even assume I died before I could chose a successor."
"Which might work in our favor, because it also means no enemy would know for sure until it is confirmed and it allows for some mind games. You are one scary woman, someone ever told you that." I complimented her.
"Who knows -" she said a soft smile on her lips "I have taken the liberty to write up a summary of all the important dealings of our clan with the village and it inhabitants and the associated duties and where to find the contracts so no one takes advantage of you at the start of your tenure. Don´t let yourself get outsmarted many will try."
"I won´t, I promise."
"Don´t promise me something like that" she sternly said "there is no need at the end of the day I couldn´t care less about some money. What I care about are the people my family, so I expect you to uphold your promise to protect them. Especially Kushina and Tsunade will need you in the days to come, don´t allow them to push you away. And I want to make another request of you."
"Make sure they are happy, existing without a spark of happiness is worse than everything else. Don´t let it come to that. You have to promise me." She nearly begged me.
I knew, what she was talking about probably better than anybody. There was a time, I was about to walk the same path as Tsunade when I first met her and called her out on closing of her heart shying away from allowing others to get close to her, derelicting her duties, how naive I have been.
No, I wouldn´t allow Tsunade to fall in this Abyss this time around and neither will Kushina make the acquaintance with this special form of misery.
"I will, I promise and Uzumaki Naruto never goes back on his word." I vowed.
"Good, then let´s get started." she said.
I helped her back to her feet and she escorted me to a huge room, the walls ceiling and floor covered with seals. The door we stepped through closed behind us.
She moved into the middle of the room and turned to me.
"Show me your seal." she demanded.
And my fears, my hopes were all verified at the same time. I removed the top of the white Yukata I wore and showed her the seal on my stomach. It has been modified no twelve hours before in a series of ways making the original base the Shiki Fuin unrecognizable having evolved beyond what my father ever thought possible.
She traced the lines on my stomach and despite the encryption still being in place a practiced seal master can make some educated guesses about the function and complexity of a seal.
"Do you want to see it for real?" I asked her.
"There is no need, I have seen what I was looking for. This astounding work will have no trouble holding it, "she mused " being far more than I could have hoped for."
"It is" I confirmed. It was so much more than just a simple containment seal like she used on herself, nothing like the seal she intended to use on Kushina designed, with it barely allowing for the Bijuu chakra to be used.
Dad had the right idea but didn´t go all the way to its final conclusion in fear of Kurama, not something that is gonna stop me.
"Then let´s start. Step inside this circle drawn on the ground." She commanded and pointed at one of the two circles and moved over to another one close to the first, barely a meter separating them.
"The transfer seal I drew should have no problems getting my prisoner to you. In case something goes wrong I trust you can handle it?" she asked "My advanced age and the loss of the Bijuu might weaken me to a point, which won´t allow me to interfere."
"I will manage." I said, I was more worried about her, to be honest.
She nodded at hearing my reassurance and lied down on the ground right in the center of the seal.
"There is another thing I have to ask of you - when it is done. Can you return me to my bed? I don´t want it to end here." She beseeched me.
"It won´t." I stated.
She gifted me with a smile and then with a flick of her chakra she activated the seals spread through the room and loosened the grip on the prison holding Kurama, opening the door just a crack a second later the escaping chakra was channeled into me gathered and focused in my stomach.
His chakra invading my Coils was biting and painful, like thousand of needles pulled through one´s veins. I had forgotten how using his chakra felt at the beginning like liquid fire burning you up inside out, uncooperative filled with hate and disgust.
The complete opposite of what I was used to, the enjoyable warmth spreading through my body like a blanket in the coldest of winter.
The stream of his chakra was steady, his presence in me grew stronger at the same rate it diminished in Mito, something with her seal now opened even if just a crack I had no trouble to verify.
What concerned me was Mito growing weaker at a dangerous rate, expending most of her strength to control what ungovernable wild and boundless.
"Mito, don´t hold back I can take it." I instructed her, "Conserve your energy."
Following my order, she loosened her grip and the increased output augmented the strain manifold. Every nerve ending screaming for relief, I didn´t move so much as a muscle and endured, after all, I had worse a lot worse.
The effects this had on Mito were clear to see, she was no longer overexerting herself of course she was still growing weaker but nowhere near fast enough for me to fear her dying prematurely.
I lost all sense of time, with my own chakra sense being overwhelmed with all this chakra around and inside of me, the only thing that allowed a sense that time still moved forward was that Kurama self, the chakra he consisted of continued moving from one place to another and that the amounts on one end diminished and grew on the other. Besides, I noticed Mitos breath becoming more labored with every intake of air, the sweat which only consisted of occasional drops on her forehead at the beginning was now present in abundance soaking her clothes.
There wasn´t much left of Kurama within her, it wouldn´t take much longer I thought to myself when suddenly the remaining chakra was unanchored and got loose and in one fell swoop, one huge wave of chakra reached me.
I wasn´t given time to analyze the situation to theorize why it might have happened if Mito lost her strength and couldn´t hold onto it any longer if Kurama freed himself from her grip or if the band his chakra was stretched into just snapped loose.
Because I was hit with it and this time, I couldn´t say I had worse. A guttural cry of pain escaped my lips and the constant pain I was under so far transformed into something else, indescribable I feared losing my mind if this continued and, then without forewarning it just stopped.
In my mind, I felt the gates close shut behind Kurama imprisoning him once more and my body contorting fell down to the ground exhausted.
I could already feel how my wounds mended themselves and my chakra adapted, realigned itself.
My eyes found Mito, too weak to move. With great effort I managed to stand up and walk over to Mito, I didn´t need the help of a diagnostic jutsu to know that there was nothing I could do for her, her remaining time nearly up.
I bent down and lifted her up in a princess carry, I had a promise to keep. I staggered my way up out of the basement and to her room and placed her on her bed. I was astounded by myself not having tripped somewhere along the way, even though I came close once or twice, sealing Kurama in me really did a number on me.
First I removed her soaked clothes and with some towels I found in her closet, dried and washed her body to the best of my ability before I clothed her again.
She deserved so much more than not dying in her own sweat, but there was nothing else I could do for her. I considered more than once waking Kushina or to fetch Tsunade or Nawaki, but ultimately decided against it for if it were her desire she would have asked it of me.
And I could understand her decision, dying isn´t the worst for the person leaving life behind, but for those that remain, the ones that loved her. In the hearts of those her absence will create a Void that can never be filled, never be forgotten time only allows it to grow smaller.
So who am I to fault her for not wanting to hurt them by allowing them to watch her slowly drift into an eternal sleep.
I tried to make the passage for her as comfortable as possible and told her anecdotes from my life, people I meet to take her mind off things while holding her hand and trying my best to provide her with solace. I couldn´t be sure I succeeded, without Kurama's help it would take some time before I could regain the ability to sense emotion, and the smile she displayed and reassuring words she uttered might have been just for my sake.
I could feel the exact moment the Shinigami retched his greedy hands for her to drag her with him, she knew, too. Because she whispered
"I´m scared" and then suddenly stilled. There was a long silence, the only sound being made by the occasional tear rolling down my cheeks splashing on her bed, my eyes focused on her, in death, peaceful looking face.
I was surprised at myself, I was convinced my body lost its ability to cry for quite some time. I already feared there wasn´t anything left that could be called human within me. So it was a relief to know it wasn´t the case, I just bemoaned the fact somebody had to die for me to recognize I might not have been as lost as I thought I was.
It took the first sunrays illuminating her room to pull me out of my thoughts. I carefully lowered her hand I held onto till this moment to the bed and moved it to her side. I racked my fingers through her hair and tried to fix it somewhat. Pleased with the result I leaned forward and kissed her on her forehead.
I stood up and opened the curtains to allow the sun to herald the advent of a new day unobstructed access to her room. A day that started without someone great in it. I turned around and left the room without looking back, my work has just begun.
A shorter chapter – didn´t want to overload it with to much meaningless stuff or to dump too much information. The main focus should have always been on Naruto and Mito ... with everything else just being byplay.
Not sure If I was able to capture the feelings and the message I wanted to convey with this chapter, the way I envisioned it in my mind. It was not easy to write it ... still, I hope it resonated somewhat.
I´m aware that in canon Naruto had an Eight Trigram seal on his stomach. But as I explained at great length on my profile page I´m neither a fan of Kurama being split nor the idea that somehow a seal powered by the Shinigami for some reason should be unable to hold the Kyuubi even within the body of an infant. I mean it was arguably one of the strongest seals ever crafted Naruto came into contact with the Kyuubi chakra since his conception meaning the fact he lived through that pretty much should make him the ideal Kyuubi Jinchuriki ... but in canon that still wasn´t enough, really?
So what you read above was done deliberately-