Something's fishy! Sasuke's anger takes on a new meaning!
"How much farther is this place," an unhappy, tired guy named Shikamaru Nara asked. His hands were ice cold and his toes numb. They had been walking for hours up the mountain full of snow. The sound of it crunching underneath his feet was enough to get on his nerves.
"I don't know exactly, " Rock Lee answered.
"Aw, man," Shikamaru griped. "Leave it to us to be following a guy around that doesn't know where we are going."
"We don't have a choice. We have to do what the Hokage says. Even if it is Naruto," Sasuke Uchiha said his voice full of arrogance. He, too, was a bit flustered. It had been two days since they had left the village north of the Sound Village. They were in unknown territory, and in Sasuke's mind, they were asking for trouble.
Neji Hyuga walked behind them with Kiba Inuzuka and Mebae bringing up the rear. The group was wearing out quicker than they had thought. The treacherous climb up the mountain would explain why not many people had heard about this village so far north. The sun was going down and time was running out for them to find shelter.
Shikamaru looked over at the horizon from the dark trees. He lifted up his hand. There were no birds here. No sounds of anything but their feet crunching through the snow. "It's getting dark. If we don't find shelter soon, we're gonna be done for," he said plainly.
Mebae barked his complaints. His large furry body was almost frozen. Kiba looked up at his dog. Mebae was getting impatient for an older dog. The black dog was ahead of him by several paces. Kiba didn’t realize he had stopped and soon began to jog a little in order to catch up to the group. His slit eyes narrowed as he watched the trees. There was really no sign of life up this mountain. It was strange.
Neji opened his eyes wide. Byakugan! His vision shifted to where it appeared he was racing up the mountain, passing the dark trees, until he found it. There were a few people scattered out harvesting something in the snow at the very top. "The village is not that far off. We should get there by nightfall," he said matter-of-factly.
They kept walking until nightfall had come upon them. It was so dark outside that no one could really see in front of where they were walking. The people that had been harvesting where Neji had seen previously had gone inside the village fortress. "It looks like everyone has left. It has to be up the mountain. There's nowhere else to go but up from this point."
"Man, my fingers are so cold I can't feel them anymore," Shikamaru complained.
"I can't feel mine, either," Rock Lee agreed. "Are you sure you saw people, Neji? I don't hear anyone out here, but us."
"There were several people out here harvesting something in the snow. I don't know where they could have gone. The Byakugan is limited in distance and-," he stopped.
Sasuke sensed his tension. He flipped his head left and right squinting his eyes in the dark. "What is it?"
Neji hesitated. "There's someone out there. Farther up the mountain. It's too dark to see who it is."
As tired as he was, he found a bit of energy to pace away from the group, his eyes narrowing, searching. Sasuke Uchiha felt threatened in a world he knew nothing of. It was dark. It was quiet. And every bit of it was getting on his nerves. He slowed down. Someone had been here. Someone Neji had sensed. Sasuke bent down. In the snow lay a bit of green onions that had managed to grow despite the freezing temperatures. He made out the footprints sunk in the snow. Whoever had stood here was scared off for the time being.
The rest of the group came jogging after him. Rock Lee was the first to speak his mind, naturally. "Sasuke, you’re not supposed to run away from a group! What if someone had been up here and attacked you," he panted.
"I am capable of defending myself. Besides, someone was here," he pointed at the green onions that appeared black in the night. "Whoever it was, I scared 'em off."
"Well, none of that matters now. We're here," Kiba said. Mebae barked his agreement and complaints all at once. "Alright, we're going on. I'll get you a warm bed, I promise," he said to ease Mebae’s barking. "At least you have fur!"
Inside the village fortress, people were hurrying along the streets trying to get out of the cold. Vendors were issuing them to come in for various reasons. They ignored the newcomers. It was more important to seek out a warm environment with food. The group's energy was running low. Rock Lee looked around at the different stores, his mouth starting to water. They have all different kinds of shops in this place. I wonder where a good place to eat will be.
Sasuke reached up with one hand, grabbing the back of Rock Lee’s collar to stop him from running into a strong, mean looking individual. He heard Lee gack but it did not lessen his hold on the man. Sasuke looked up at the stranger with a blank expression. "Can we help you, or something," he asked, trying to take the edge out of his voice, his guard up.
The man grinned at the group. He crossed his arms. He appeared to be about ten years older than them. He was a hefty, strong looking sort. His eyes were heavy and cut through the air, slicing it in half. "I suggest you mind your attitude while you are in this village. I keep the peace around here. It is rare for us to get outsiders, such as yourselves this far up the mountain," he said in a deep voice.
"I don't like the way this guy is eying us," Shikamaru said lowly. He had a bad feeling about this man. The guy had battle wounds all over his arms and neck. If there weren't many travelers who came this far, then how is it he got all of those wounds? He couldn't figure it out.
"We don't want any trouble," Neji said also standing his ground. "We're only here to get rare herbs for our village. Exactly who are you?"
The man tensed up his body, his ego displayed all over the contours of his face. "I am Tetsuyo Anamaraki. I am the Captain of this village and its guardian. If you wish to stay here, we have but two rules: One: Don't cause any trouble. Two: Stay away from the Cursed One."
"The Cursed One...? What, or who exactly is that," Kiba asked. He had his suspicions. Maybe it was total nonsense. Some of the villages still had their share of superstitious people.
The Captain narrowed his eyes at Kiba. "The Cursed One is a girl that has haunting eyes that drill into your soul. If you fall into her gaze, she can control your mind and your wits! No one in this village knows where she came from, or why she exists, but she is here, nonetheless, and we must deal with her. Be warned. Do not cross her path!" As he warned him threateningly, he issued with one hand, pointing. "There is an inn just there if you wish to get rooms and make yourselves more hospitable. I will take my leave from you all. A Captain's duty is never finished." With a gruffness in his voice, he left the confused group.
"That has got to be the weirdest guy we've come across in a while, "Shikamaru said, raising an eyebrow.
"More importantly, why did he go out of his way to tell us an old superstition," Neji pondered. "He wasn't interested in who we really were, or why there were so many of us ‘strangers’."
"Something's fishy," Sasuke said, his gaze following the wake of the Captain.
"Sounds like it," Kiba Inuzuka said, not buying that whole superstition nonsense for a second. What was he? Ten-years-old again?
"No, I mean something's fishy. I smell fish. Lets go find out where it's coming from, " Sasuke said, ignoring the current situation for the moment.
Shikamaru rolled his eyes.
Kiba happily sipped his tea, smiling as they sat at a table in one of the shops. He couldn't be happier right now. Hot tea to soothe his cold body was just the thing for a ninja.
An old woman approached the table and bowed. She greeted them readily and took their orders. She bowed again then went to fulfill her duties. The old woman appeared to be in her seventies, white hair tied neatly into a bun behind her head, fair amount of wrinkles, usual shop owner clothes. She was watching them a bit. Neji could tell. Whenever someone spoke, or looked around, he was catching her eye moving away from their table. "That woman is watching us," he told the others, his voice low.
Kiba stopped drinking his tea. "Geez, what is it with people in this place. They are suspicious of outsiders."
"I don't think that's what it is," Sasuke said. He was looking pass them towards the entrance. His chin placed in his hand, his other hand below the table, just in case, eyes remaining focused on the doorway.
Kiba turned his head to look. "What are you staring at," he asked. Mebae turned his head from his bowl to look up at Kiba, thinking he was speaking to him. His tail wagged a bit, then thought otherwise. The dog picked his head up again, his tail standing straight up, watching.
"It doesn't seem too friendly in here all of a sudden, does it," Shikamaru said watching the people around them.
Kiba turned back around as not to draw attention to his group. They were already getting too much. His voice lowered, he asked, "Do you guys see the kid, too?"
Sasuke lowered his vision to stare at the table. He brought his hands together and folded them, putting his mouth up against them. "That old woman keeps watching us," he said.
The old woman walked over as if she heard the group calling her. She brought a few of the orders. "I'm sorry, but the other two aren't ready yet. I apologize in advance good sirs, we will have them out momentarily." She bowed lowly as if she wasn't worthy of their hospitality, glanced at them, the door, then walked back to service another table.
Shikamaru's gaze followed her. Now he was being suspicious. Oh, well. To each their own.
Sasuke raised his vision. There was no guessing it. There was defiantly a kid out in the snow, trying to avoid the attention of the patrons in the shop. Something about the village was seriously annoying him. It wasn't just what the Captain had said to them, but the way the villagers were acting.
Kiba dug into his ramen greedily, slurping it up. "Hmm?" He watched Sasuke snatch the roll from his plate. "Hey, what are you taking my roll for?"
"Shh," Sasuke warned. The old woman was back. She brought Sasuke and Neji's food. He didn't want to look at the old lady. He didn't like the way he was being watched.
"Is there anything else, good sirs," she asked, waiting for their reply.
"No, I think we're fine for now. Thank you, "Neji said as politely as he could. Once the woman left, he too, took his roll and wrapped it up. Sasuke had the right idea in mind. "Who do you think the kid is?" He looked over his shoulder just in time to see a young girl dart back behind the corner of another shop. She had been looking in on everyone.
Mebae whined a bit, moving towards the entrance. He barked his reply. Kiba got up to retrieve him, but the dog darted out of the shop. "Hey, Mebae where are you going? Get back here," Kiba demanded.
"Maybe he saw a cat," Shikamaru hoped.
Rock Lee was looking out of the entrance of the shop. His gaze was focused on it, like he was seeing something no one else saw. "You don't suppose..that 'The Cursed One' that guy told us about...is that kid, do you?"
Before anyone could answer, the old woman was back with the bill. She looked rather annoyed. The group looked up at her. Sternly, she said, "I will only say this once to your lot. Do not go near that girl. It will cause you more trouble than it is worth!" She started to walk away, but was immediately stopped by Sasuke grabbing onto her wrist.
"I'm not buying it old lady. What is going on in this village," he demanded. "Why would anyone let someone suffer like that? A village is supposed to be there for each of the people in it." He looked at her with a hard gaze.
The old woman held his gaze firmly. "You listen here, young man. We normally don't take outsiders and even though we appreciate your business, our hospitality is wearing thin. Do not ask questions and give demands about circumstances you know nothing of!"
Neji placed his hand on Sasuke's shoulder. "Sasuke, cool it. We are guests here. If we get in trouble, that guy will kick us out. We need to find those herbs for Lady Ainori."
Sasuke narrowed his eyes as a last measure of the battle with the old woman. He had had enough. He walked off, paid the girl at the front, then walked outside to find out where Kiba and Mebae had gone. This is ridiculous. A whole village scared of one little girl.
Kiba came back pulling Mebae by the gruff of the neck. He was breathing hard. "Stop it, Mebae! You're not chasing her! Hey, are we leaving already? I didn't get to finish."
"The food in there is terrible," Sasuke said, walking off without another word.
"Aw, man. Where is he going," Shikamaru asked appearing beside Kiba.
"What happened in there," Kiba said looking at Shikamaru for answers.
"It seems Sasuke is not happy with the answers he didn't get from the old woman who was watching us. Neji had to calm him down. He certainly has a temper – that guy."
"I think it's more important for us to get rooms at this point," Neji said issuing them to the Inn. "Sasuke needs time to cool off. He's fine on his own."
Sasuke Uchiha walked with his hands in his pockets down the roads of the village. His mind was deep in thought. His toes were frozen from the cold, but he paid no heed to it. I hate this time of year. His mind flashed back to the family he once had. He sighed. From what he learned a long time ago, about what really had happened with his clan and what Itachi's true intentions were, it had haunted him for the past fifteen years. Once, he had known his brother. Once, he had a mother that loved him and a father who spent time with him. Everything had been lost to him.
Sasuke looked up just in time to avoid running into someone carrying something for their family. Why did it have to be this way. This neverending torture that I feel pressing my chest. I know everything is said and done with, but I still see their faces. I let them down.
"Get out of here you little runt! I don't need you hanging around my place," an older man yelled, shaking his fist at a dark-haired little girl running off. "If I catch you around here again, I'll tell the Captain!"
That's the girl from before.. Sasuke walked over to the man who was still shouting obscenities at the girl. "Who is that girl," he asked. He wanted an answer. If the old broad wasn't going to give it, maybe this guy would.
The man bowed to Sasuke, assuming he was a patron. "Oh, that child," he said sweetly as if he was just now recalling who he had been yelling at. "She's an orphan that scurries around the village. Don't mind yourself about her. I am sorry she desecrated the road for you."
He ignored the man's apologies and pressed further. "What is wrong with that girl? Why does everyone cast her out, instead of taking her in?" He wanted to know. It was making his blood boil. It was exactly what the Leaf Village had done to Naruto, his best friend.
"Ah, I see." The man lowered his head in shame. "That girl came here with her family three years ago. Something unfortunate happened to her parents. We don't speak of it. She was left alone and no one was willing to take her in because she is 'different'. We have been ordered by the Captain not to interfere with her."
"That's despicable," Sasuke said, the disgust in his voice making the shop owner move back a few feet. "What is her name, and where does she go?"
"Ah, you misunderstand. We only know of her. We don't know where she goes, or what she is called. She has never spoken a word that anyone can understand. Please, don't concern yourself with our village's troubles, good sir. It is our Curse to bear," he bowed low to the ground, his head touching the snow.
"Curse? She is no more cursed than anyone in this village." Sasuke turned his heels on the man. Whoever she was, he was going to find out.
"That girl will not approach you," the man yelled after him. "She avoids every living thing in this village like a disease!"
I'm not buying that! The reason she avoids everyone is because they chase her off! Sasuke slid on the snow. The kid was fast, he would give her that. Where could she have gone?
Story notes: This story is much like Naruto, except there are new jutsus, teams, kids, and new things to experience. There is more character involvement with this story. It is set 15 years ahead.
ALSO: This was written BEFORE Naruto Shippuden came out. Therefore, Sasuke, Naruto, and the high skills of the other ninja won't be added until later chapters based on Research.
I don't mind pointing out misspellings, criticism, or helpful suggestions for the story. But Harsh, Negative comments I don't tolerate. It means you don't respect me as an amateur writer. This is a work in progress. Thank you.
Chapter notes: Correcting Chapters 1-10 with character placement. Making it more correct in time and place. Bear with me.
Chapter end notes: Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.