The concept of an embassy was still relatively new and hadn’t been fully developed either. The Land of Fire had been the first to offer another country, the Land of Fire, a spot to build an embassy.
Its intended purpose was to be an established form of connection between countries. The Land of Fire and Land of Earth had just come out of numerous conflicts caused by a severe lack of communication at the time. As expected, the Land of Earth jumped on the opportunity to freely set up a base in another country’s land , and the Elemental Nation’s first embassy had been created.
Iwata had never personally seen that embassy, but she’d heard stories and rumors as to the strength and size of it. She had heard it had taken a year to build, and could safely and comfortably house well over a hundred shinobi. It was built near the center of the Land of Fire’s capital, Leaf City.
Shortly after the first embassy was finished, more lands began to offer a property for others to build their own embassy. Kumo, however, forced their way into countries and built an embassy whether the country wanted one or not. Most were created with the idea of a small stronghold in mind, more than a peaceful location for diplomatic relations.
She was skeptical as to how long this embassy idea would survive, as the concept had yet to go through a war. In her experience, most brilliant ideas fell by the wayside under the brutal pressure of war. Iwata hoped that another Great Ninja War wouldn’t happen in her lifetime. Perhaps the embassies could help hold back the relentless need for power and violence the Shinobi thrived on.
The reason she feared such a war was because the next one would be different. The Bijū had all been captured and subjugated, their power now under Shinobi control. It was highly likely that the Jinchuriki would be sent into the battlefield.
Shaking her head, she raised her hand to shade her eyes, trying to spot the Kumo Embassy ahead of them. Her teammates surrounded her as they followed after a Puppeteer Shinobi. He’d introduced himself as Ochida and had offered to guide them there.
She’d never seen this embassy, not having been stationed here or gone on missions in Suna since it was built. She knew the embassy in this city wasn’t one of the most impressive ones Kumo had ever made, but it was nothing to scoff at either. Despite that, it had been broken into, and everyone inside had been taken completely unaware.
Ochida gestured toward the ground below, and she dropped off the roof after him. They all landed in a small courtyard surrounded by iron fencing. Behind her was the street, only a few civilians walking by glanced at them before hurrying on. In front was a nondescript building that barely stood out from the ones around it.
“This is the Kumo Embassy,” Ochida said as he walked up the small sandstone pathway to the door. Standing next to the door was a Suna Shinobi hidden in a low-level Genjustu, who dropped it as Ochida approached. She’d noticed him as soon as she landed in the courtyard.
Ochida opened the door and gestured for them to follow him.
Stepping inside, Iwata checked the back of the door and noticed the protection seal had been destroyed. She wasn’t an expert in seals, not many in Kumo were, but she had a rudimentary knowledge all Shinobi were required to have.
Ochida noticed her looking at it as her teammates funneled into the building by her.
“We had to destroy that to get in,” he commented, and she nodded.
“Do you know how the attackers got in?” Taguchi asked, and Ochida shook his head.
“We still don’t know, despite doing a rough search. We were hesitant to explore the lower levels of the embassy, as we didn’t want to break the treaty. However, we did have to go down there to retrieve two of the bodies.” Ochida explained.
“Where are their bodies?” Taguchi asked.
“Over there,” Ochida said, pointing toward a door on the right toward the end of the hallway. “We cleaned up the blood, sealed their bodies to prevent decomposition, and moved them to that room.”
Iwata stepped around Ochida and followed Taguchi to the room, quickly walking in after him. Her two other teammates entered behind her. Ochida stopped in the doorway, leaning on the frame.
“If you want, one of my men can show you a Genjutsu of the embassy when we found it.”
“That won’t be necessary,” Taguchi replied, focusing on the four bodies on the floor in front of him. Each was covered in a white sheet. Iwata kneeled down by the first and pulled back the rough fabric, taking in the lifeless face. She didn’t recognize them.
Looking down at his neck, she found the artificially-healed scar across the throat. Moving to the next one, she found the same wound.
“I need to get back to my post. If you require anything, let Hori know. He’ll be outside.” Ochida said. After waiting for a moment and getting no reply, he activated a shunshin and vanished in a swirl of sand. The room was quiet for several moments.
“It seems like Baki was right… there wasn’t a fight.” Taguchi said solemnly, looking between each fallen comrade’s wounds.
Fujino, who was standing off to the side, nodded, “Whoever did this was extremely skilled. I’m amazed they managed to take Nikko unaware.”
Iwata agreed, looking back down at the body she was crouched by. She couldn’t help but think that Nikko would have been pissed to see how he died if he was still alive. Nikko was an ex-RAIKOU and had accepted a position at this embassy as his last assignment before retiring. Despite being an older Shinobi, he’d been powerful. Shaking her head, she got up and walked to the final body, already knowing who it would be.
Taking a deep breath, she pulled back the sheet. The familiar handsome face of a young teen came into view, skin pale and lifeless like the rest. His name was Motoki, the younger brother of her friend Akari. She sighed sadly and gently placed the sheet back over Motoki’s face. Her friend Akari had begged her to join this mission to check on her brother. Due to the assignment’s potentially high danger level, Akari wasn’t qualified for it yet.
“That’s him, isn’t it?” Fujino asked, walking over to her.
She nodded and stood up. Hearing the familiar sound of a seal releasing its contents, she looked over at Taisho, who was now holding a small black book. Taisho set Nikko’s wrist back on the floor and tossed the book to Taguchi. Iwata waited with anticipation for Taguchi to read through Nikko’s logbook.
The uninteresting-looking black book was like thousands of others, unremarkable from the exterior. However, it was precious. Every single Kumo Captain was required to keep one with them at all times and log everything in it, regardless of whether they thought something was worth being written down. This rule had solved dozens of problems for Kumo and was one of its best-kept secrets.
The strategy was supported by the Land of Lightning’s custom of burying their dead shinobi in a massive catacomb in the mountains. Most countries and shinobi respected each other’s traditions in regards to their dead, and usually allowed Kumo Shinobi to collect their fallen comrades, and thus, their logbooks.
“Baki said something about a prisoner being delivered here before the attack, right?” Fujino asked, gesturing toward the book in Taguchi’s hands.
“He did…” Taguchi said slowly, “and the prisoner was here…”
Iwata narrowed her eyes as Taguchi looked up at her for a moment before returning to the book.
“May 12th. A man was delivered to the embassy by Suna Shinobi. They believed the man to be a Kumo Shinobi. It was unspoken but clear that they think him to be one of our spies. He was in horrible condition, and I demanded an answer as to why, citing our treaty with the Land of Wind. They denied any involvement, claiming the man had entered Suna that way before running headfirst into their Jinchuriki.”
“That lines up with what Baki said,” Taisho commented.
“We brought the man inside and found a Kumo Headband inside his shirt. It could have been planted. He appeared extremely delirious, dehydrated, and at the brink of insanity. Most of his skin was covered in first, second, or even third-degree burns in numerous places. He has yet to say anything but incoherent mumbling. None of us recognize him.”
Taguchi shook his head in apparent disbelief and continued reading, “The man is indeed a Kumo Shinobi; his name is Katai Kayami.
Iwata stared at Taguchi in disbelief, not really seeing him.
“He was conscious long enough to prove who he was, and told us he’d been stationed in Kazedama as a spy before again passing out.” Taguchi said and turned the page, “After a few hours of care, Katai woke up and immediately began pleading with us that we run for our lives. He says someone is chasing him. We are locking down the Embassy.”
Fujino whistled, shaking his head. “They knew someone was coming, and whoever it was still got all of them without a fight… Damn.”
Taguchi had reached the end of where he’d already read, and his eyes widened in surprise. “Katai has just told me that he believes the Stone of Legend must still exist.”
“What?” Taisho exclaimed, and Taguchi nodded, equally in disbelief as he hurried to read the rest of the log.
“While in Kazedama, he noticed that there was something suspicious going on with the Daimyo. Carefully spying on the Palace from afar, he discovered that around every two to three weeks, a group of Shinobi dressed in black would break in and presumably attack the Daimyo. They never came back out. Retracing their tracks, he was able to find and spy on their hideout after much careful searching. He couldn’t figure out who they were, but from overhearing a small amount of conversation, he learned that the Daimyo has a new Kekkai Genkai. He can only conclude that the Stone must still exist.”
Iwata finally snapped out of her shock, “What happened to my brother, damn it!”
“According to Katai, three days ago, there was another attack on the Daimyo, but two of the Shinobi stayed back. He moved close enough to overhear their conversation, and heard them talking about the Daimyo’s Kekkai Genkai. He says they believe it to be some sort of pulsating chakra wave. He was forced to run when the Shinobi spotted him. They followed him out of Kazedama and across the desert. He’s been running from them for three days without stopping. He remembers reaching Suna, but nothing after that.”
Taguchi closed the book with a snap, “The entries end there. Most likely, they were attacked after Nikko wrote that.”
“Where is Katai’s body then?” Iwata demanded.
Taisho bit his lip as he looked around the room, realizing that she was right. “Most likely… they took his body with them. They chased him because he learned too much about their plans, which is why they killed everyone here. They realized he was a spy stationed in Kazedama by us, it would give too much away. They didn’t know about the log.”
Fujino nodded solemnly in agreement, “By now… Katai is probably a pile of ashes somewhere…”
Iwata took a deep breath, focusing on the cold, lifeless face of her friend’s brother.
“We have permission to stay here as long as needed…” Iwata said, and Taguchi nodded.
“Get settled in then.”
Suna, Kazekage Province, Land of Wind, EN.
In the world of the Shinobi, the only thing that mattered was power. One’s ability to kill those in their way. People both Shinobi and Civilian, regularly died, even in times of peace. All that peace meant was that no significant countries were actively and openly at war with each other. Small states, territories, villages, and various groups were always fighting regardless.
Treaties had been used as far back as the records went, and their success ultimately depended on the leaders of the groups that signed it. The paper itself held no real meaning. It could and would be broken with the throw of a kunai.
While some countries did strive to live in peace and to respect their neighbors, others desired more and more control. However, the end of the Warring States Era had marked a crucial change in the mindset of the Shinobi. Before, only oneself and one’s family or clan mattered. Now, one’s country, leaders, citizens, and comrades had been added to that list, though not much else had changed.
If anything, the battles and wars had only gotten worse, progressively getting bloodier and more catastrophic with every Great Ninja War.
Rasa respected Hashirama Senju and Madara Uchiha, the ones who had brought about the end of the Warring States Era. He didn’t like them, but he admired their dedication to those who they saw as their people. Over forty years ago, they had captured the Nine-tailed Bijū and used it to threaten hundreds of clan leaders if they did not attend a special meeting.
At that meeting, they had presented their plan to change the ideology of the Shinobi. They’d brought attention to those who could not use their chakra, those that had simply been called villagers, or slaves in many cases. At the time, those without chakra were a dying race of humans. Unable to survive against the Shinobi, they were ruthlessly exploited and killed.
Rasa’s father had told him that it was believed that many of those without chakra made boats and sailed out into the ocean, never to be seen again.
Feeling the hot sun on his back fade away, Rasa looked up. In front of him was the massive hundred-and-fifty-foot wall that guarded Suna. It had been carved from what was once a mountain by the first Kazekage with his Magnet Release. A huge hole had been created in the center, and Suna built inside.
Walking next to him was Naruto, who seemed to be nearing a full recovery. He’d been carried in shifts by each of his Shinobi as they ran across the desert. After the incident in Nekokami, Rasa decided it was best to head straight for Suna and as quickly as possible. He had been gone much longer than he originally planned. He had to hope his efforts had some effect.
Behind him on his left was Gaara, his constant flow of killing intent making it easy to locate him without looking. Rasa slowly took a deep breath, guilt once more trying to overwhelm him. Every time he saw his son’s face, he saw his wife and the look of disappointment on her face. He’d betrayed her, and what was worse, he had not accepted the consequence of his foolish actions. He’d tried to have Gaara killed, so he could try again.
Shaking his head, Rasa focused back on his surroundings. They had just finished walking around the edge of Suna’s wall and were approaching the entrance. Suna usually had a steady flow of travelers from Irezumi City entering and leaving, and today was no different. Everyone had changed back into their regular garb sometime before, though Naruto now wore clothes Toshi had bought for him in Nekokami.
As they drew closer to the road in front of the enormous gates, people began to notice them and back away. Because Suna was mainly a military location more than a city, everyone entering or leaving was documented and checked to the best of their ability. Records on shinobi were usually hard to get, vague, or downright wrong.
Off to the left side of the ravine-like passageway was several lanes, where the civilians waited in line.
On the right was a building carved out of the side of the wall, just beyond the open gates. This was where Shinobi checked in when they were going on a mission or coming back. Walking through the crowd as it parted around them like sand hitting a rock, they stopped at the stone counter.
“Kazekage-sama, Sasori-sama.” The Shinobi behind the counter said, bowing slightly.
“Tetsu-san,” Rasa replied, bowing his head slightly.
“Rasa-sama, sir, Baki-san has requested your presence in the Kazekage Tower immediately upon your arrival. A matter of emergency, sir.”
“I see,” Rasa replied, “We’ll skip the sign-in process for now.”
“Understood,” Tetsu replied, glancing at Naruto briefly before putting away the papers he’d pulled out.
Rasa turned toward Gaara, who was staring down the lantern-lit path to Suna blankly.
“You’re free to go, Gaara.” He said and wasn’t surprised when his son didn’t reply. Rasa watched Gaara walk away until he was out of earshot then turned to Sasori, who was standing by the eight Elite Shinobi. “Sasori, make sure Gaara’s wardens know he’s back. Tanyu, I want you to meet me at the mansion first thing tomorrow morning. The rest of you are off mission.”
All nine shinobi instantly vanished in swirls of sand.
Placing his hand on Naruto’s shoulder, Rasa followed his men’s example, and they vanished in a swirl of sand.
“Rasa-sama, welcome back.”
Naruto tried to focus on whoever was speaking, but his Byakugan was spinning. He heard Rasa walking away from him.
“Baki, Tetsu-san told me you wished to speak to me immediately?”
As his vision settled, Naruto realized he was inside a rather plain-looking office. Two large wooden double doors were behind him, closed. In front of him was a large oak desk, behind which was who he assumed to be Baki. Rasa was standing in front of it. Expanding his range, Naruto realized he was inside a large tower. Beneath them on every floor, there were Shinobi everywhere, ranging from children not much older than him to a very old-looking lady.
“Can it wait?” Rasa said.
Naruto focused back on the office and saw Rasa take the seat behind the desk from Baki.
“Good, I need to deal with something else for right now. I will talk with you soon.” Rasa said, folding his hands together on the polished desk. Baki nodded and walked toward the exit, Naruto moved to the side and pretended to not see the look of confusion and curiosity on Baki’s face as he noticed his blindfold.
Baki exited and closed the doors behind him. Naruto watched through the wall as he walked to the end of the hallway and began to descend the stairs.
“Naruto, please sit down.”
He did so, taking the chair on the left. Rasa took a scroll out of one of his many drawers and picked up a quill. Dipping it in the inkwell on the corner of his desk, he began to write, talking as he did so.
“Your father and I agreed that you would spend three years here in Suna before returning to visit him. After which, you would return to finish your training to become a Genin. At that time, it will be up to you and your father whether you continue your training.”
Naruto nodded, that was what his father had told him. Rasa continued to write on the scroll for a few moments.
“Your name will be Edano Naruto while you’re here,” Rasa said, glancing up Naruto to see if he agreed. “You have some light experience in the Shinobi arts, and show promise in Ninjutsu, correct?”
He nodded again, “That was Kanade-san’s analysis.”
“Good. I’ve written that you are the son of a rich lord in Kazedama, who will remain nameless for now. You are here because your father requested a favor from the Daimyo to come back with me to Suna to train to become a Shinobi.” Rasa said, refreshing his quill. “You won’t be questioned about this. If one of your teachers has a question, they will come to me, and I will deal with it. You are not to answer any questions in this regard, understood?“
“While you’re here, you will be staying in my home. I believe a new Shinobi Academy class starts in a week, I will be assigning you to it.” Rasa said, “I’ve noted that you are entirely blind, but have been taught to see with the Echolocation Jutsu. Maintaining that illusion is your responsibility.”
“Will Gaara tell anyone about my Byakugan?” Naruto asked.
Rasa shook his head, reading over the scroll to check it was correct. “No, Gaara doesn’t talk to anyone. Besides that, while Gaara has undoubtedly figured out some of the aspects of your Kekkai Genkai, he doesn’t know what it is or what it is called.”
Rolling up the scroll, Rasa clipped it closed and put it in his kunai pouch. Folding his hands on his desk, he focused on where Naruto’s eyes were, knowing the prince could see him.
“As I’m sure you know, Suna is a military base primarily, and city second. We have the largest number of Land of Wind shinobi in this city. I am aware that you can read lips, and expect you not to spy on things that are none of your business.” Rasa said.
Naruto bowed his head in agreement and respect to Rasa’s wishes.