Chapter 8

Gaara

The three siblings woke up at dawn, after barely three hours of sleep, as monkeys howled in the upper branches of the trees.

“What the hell is that noise?”

“I have no idea, Gaara. The only noises we hear in the desert is the wind, the sand and the snakes...”

“Look! It is up there, Kankuro!”

Kankuro followed Temari’s pointing fingers and saw furry animals swinging from branch to branch.

“Furry humans? I never heard of those!”

“Neither have I, Kankuro. But since they woke us up, we might as well get on the move. I see they are eating that green thing found on that tree. If it is good for them, it might be good for us. I will go collect some while you two prepare the animals.”

“Okay, Gaara.”

Gaara walked up the tree trunk and reached to lower branches. At first, the monkeys looked at him walking up the slick tree trunk not really understanding how he made his way up its vertical face, but suddenly it caught up to them the strange visitor might be a predator. At first, they began yelling in the hope of scaring Gaara away, but as the Ninja made it up, they felt the pressure of the demon contained within the jinchuriki and they backed away, growing more and more silent in the hope of going unnoticed, a bit late. Gaara found some of the big green fruits and picked two dozen to store in a back-pack. Once satisfied with his reaping, he turned back down, surprising the monkeys once again by his actions.

“Temari, these fruits are heavy. Let us open one and see how it is inside. I doubt the skin is edible. It is a bit too rough.”

What neither siblings knew was they were handling fresh avocados. Temari split the fruit in two, finding a huge nut inside; separating the two halves, she used a peeling knife to remove the meat off the peel and mashed it with some pepper. She then took a spoon and ate some. The taste was not bad, a bit oily, but filling. The others followed her example and ate their own avocado fruits.

“We ate six, two each. Let us keep the rest. We do not know when we will find anything else to eat,” decided Gaara.

The caravan resumed moving within the forest, following Gaara. By noon, they stopped at the base of another tree that seemed to have big fruits, somewhat different than those they had in storage. Gaara climbed up, killed a snake that tried to take a bite, and threw down the big round golden fruits, trying to hit a rock in the hope of cracking them. Unable to peel the fibrous cover of the fruit, Temari asked Gaara to help. He pulled out his only weapon apart from his sand, an axe, and gave a mighty swing at the stubborn fruit. It finally peeled off, revealing a dark nut. Once the fibrous protection had been removed, Kankuro used his tools to pierce a hole and extract a whitish sap that was sweet. After sharing the sap with his siblings, he used a big hammer to break the nut open, and discovered the inner whitish meat contained in the nut. Using a knife, he peeled the meat out and shared it with the others.

“We will take the rest with us. That fruit, even if it hard to prepare, is nutritious,” decided Gaara.

“Gaara, are we far?”

“Kankuro, far is relative. We have covered barely four miles since morning. We are in a forest, and we have no idea of where our destination is. It might be around the next tree trunk as far as we know.”

“I finished smoking the snake. We will have meat tonight.”

“Thank you, Temari.”

The caravan progressed very, very slowly amongst the tall trees, forced to detour around narrow canyons, walk on narrow, unstable ledges, climb down steep cliffs by twisting back and forth along a narrow dirt path. At some point, the head of the caravan met the tail of the same caravan, split by a deep chasm that was barely three feet wide, but wide enough to stop the animals from jumping from one side to the other safely.

“Gaara, I passed where you are two hours ago!” said Temari.

“I hate forests. When you reach the top, camp. I will be joining you with the last mules at sundown.”


The sky was turning dark purple when Gaara finally emerged into the clearing at the top of the mountain with the last four donkeys.

“I had to sand that one’s cock for him to continue. Donkeys can be so stubborn!” said Gaara, as he sat down, pointing to a donkey with a rather reddish rash dangling beyond his balls.

“It is what drives males, one of my teachers told me,” Temari replied with a smirk. “Did he cream?”

“She sanded her pleasure tunnel?” wondered Kankuro, who was sanding the left forearm of a puppet. “Given how small some of our teachers are down there, I would not put it beyond necessity for the females to do just that to feel anything!”

“You two are disgusting! And I thought I was the one with the devil in me!” replied Gaara, making puking noises.

“Let us eat the snake... before Temari decides to sand it to try and make it hard!”

“Kankuro!” Temari and Gaara exclaimed in tandem.

“We have seen too much for our young age, I think! Spending the day in the gymnasium, alternating between some training, swimming, and watching others court if not downright mate in the pool or on the tatami during a fight has given us more than enough images to fill our dreams. Paper walls are not sound-proof anyway. We learned to count by the thrusts!” Temari added.

Snake eaten, with the help of some wild rice and coconut juice, the three set for the night. Gaara would take the last watch, Temari the first, and Kankuro the mid-watch. Growls, fights between nocturnal animals for the dominance over prey, the cry of pain of said prey as it got taken down occupied the night. An hour after Gaara took watch, he got up and climbed on the tree to walk along a huge branch to have a look over the cliff. Far below, way down and a good six hours away, he saw shadows move around, following the trail they had used. He noticed right away that the shadows jumped across the narrow pass that they had to track to its fullest before climbing back up. Gaara returned to the camp and woke up his siblings.

“We are being followed. They shaved two hours by jumping the narrow gorge. We need to get moving.”

The others, however sleepy they were, quickly took their position in the caravan and followed Gaara.

“Temari, take that trail and climb to the top. I will be back shortly. I want to slow down these nosey followers. Kankuro, make sure the last pack animal follows in the trail, then hide the trail by creating a rock avalanche. I want them to be forced to use the left trail. Make sure your horse leaves an occasional hoof print, and make enough damage to give the impression we are running. I will be joining you about halfway through the misleading trail, adding finishing touches to keep them busy along the way.”

Kankuro tied the pack animals as each one reached him to the previous one and let them pass. Once the last donkey was gone, he followed it for half an hour, and retraced his steps to remove any mark of their passage. At the juncture, he moved his horse along the diversionary trail, backtracked, collapsed the cliff face above the juncture, and created a narrow path leading the old path to his position. Satisfied, Kankuro followed the trail, gradually widening his path print, much like he was getting tired and negligent with his effort to erase the convoy’s tracks.

Meanwhile, Gaara backtracked to the leading ninja that were following them. Carefully studying them, he noticed they were top notch, more than likely Anbu or S-class. No time to do in half-measures! He sped forward a bit, then undermined the trees, leaving only barely enough rooting to resist a light pressure. Then he dug a leopard trap, planted the bottom with long pointed spikes, and covered the trap with finely worked grass blades tied to make ropes. The grass ropes were then laid like a carpet over the leopard traps and made tout so one or two persons could walk over without triggering the traps but if someone ran or more than two tried to cross, the grass ropes would break. He then covered the carpets with dirt, small rocks, and dead leaves, and ‘planted’ bushes that seemed to be rooted to the cliff.

An hour of hard work later, Gaara left the area, hiding his chakra signature just enough to give the impression the caravan had passed through fourteen hours earlier. He began trapping the rest of the trail with unstable rocks, logs held in place by hair-thin triggers, spider webs, and mud slides. Well aware that the ninjas would resort to the tree highway rather quickly, he trapped the tree branches by making their choices of branches obvious, then suddenly ‘rotting’ the next big branch by sanding the wood under the bark so the only thing holding it in place was a very thin wood spike.

As he made his way forward, he heard the cries of pain behind him telling him the leopard traps had caught their victims. The ninjas would slow down to study their environment with more care from now on, and he would give them a lot to study! He finally reached the junction and studied Kankuro’s work. He added stream marks, giving the impression that the cliff fall was a washout. He used his chakra to redress some ten to fifteen year-old trees, ageing the landslide appropriately, adding some finishing touches to the trail created by Kankuro, even adding a landslide over another landslide to give the followers the feeling the ground was inherently unstable. Once done, he progressed quickly, adding traps and more obstacles to the path created by Kankuro. He caught up with him at a sharp decline.

“Hey, Kankuro, good job. Wait for me!”

“Hey Gaara. I was wondering how to go down...”

“We do not. But they will!”

“Have you found who is following us?”

“Not yet, but they are good. Sit still on your horse on that rock plate.”

Kankuro did not know what Gaara planned but did as asked. Gaara crawled under the horse and suddenly stood up, lifting the horse off the ground. A Shunshin later, Kankuro, the horse, and Gaara were at the lead of the caravan, surprising Temari.

“Where the hell do you come from?”

“Stop calling home! It is getting costly in long-distance fees!” Gaara said with a smirk. “I will be back shortly. I have to finish the last trap.”

Gaara shunshined back to the same rock that had held Kankuro and his horse. He then quickly undermined the cliff face to a depth of several hundred feet, diverting water so it flowed along the fissure before exiting below in a thin but powerful cascade. Then he created a very narrow path on the cliff face that would give the impression the caravan had engaged itself in the narrow passage between the cliff and the void. Rolling rocks would make the followers slow down, giving the waterfall more time to undermine the cliff face. Almost done with his misleading, Gaara ported a dead ibex which would call to the scavengers, giving the trackers the impression that some pack animals had fallen. Finally satisfied, he shunshined back to the caravan.

Gaara led them to a clearing that had tall dolmen covered with greenery. On one side was an amphitheater and on the other side an opening to the dark blue sky. Off to the side, way down, they could see buzzards circling below.

“The guests have arrived for their meal!” said Gaara enigmatically. “Take a seat!”

More and more gravediggers were flying in, creating a song of death that was getting on the nerves of everyone but Gaara. Gaara, sat in a lotus position and focussed. His siblings realised that Gaara was busy manipulating the earth, and that something momentous was about to play out. They could see, some two miles away, little stick figures walking around trying to figure out something. Suddenly a sharp cry was heard, muffled by the distance: one of the figures had walked to the edge of the cliff lip and slipped, falling to its death down on the rocks below.

“Wow!” Temari exclaimed. “I did not know you could effect that far!”

“Oh, that is only the tip of the sandbox...”

“What do you mean?”

“I made it so that the more chakra he pushed in to hold, the more the rock disintegrated...”

“But... How?”

“What is the cliff made of, Kankuro?”

“Err... Sandstone. I used this to sand my puppet.”

“And what am I renowned for?”

“Sand manipulation. But this is stone!”

“So? The stone is called stone because it does not grain off on contact, but you noticed it takes very little effort to make it lose its cohesiveness.”

“Right!”

“So, I simply removed the cohesiveness of sandstone by adding my chakra to his. The more chakra he pumped to try and get a grip, the more sandy it became.”

“But what is this veil we see below the lip?”

“That, Temari, is my surprise for them. I have been driving a stream of water through the cliff face. The water is pushing the sand ahead of it, and it should come out in the form of wet sand shortly. Meanwhile the water is digging back, and climbing up. At some point, probably at dawn tomorrow morning, the cliff face will lose all adherence and slide majestically down in the void, taking these jerks to their death.”

“They will be warned...”

“Kankuro, the fracture is almost a thousand feet below them; second, the cliff cleavage will be back almost to the juncture, so they will never be able to reach safe ground before the face-cliff falls off the mountain. Third, the lip hides the sand and later, the water, being ejected so they will not have any visual warning. Fourth, the birds’ cries hide any noise. Fifth, the night is close at hand, so even if the birds suddenly go quiet, the rumble will seem natural to them. Sixth, by morning, the birds will begin again and by then it will be too late for them to make an escape.”

“You seem sure of yourself.”

“I am. I am guiding the process by making sure things happen as I see fit.”

“How many were following us?”

“I counted a hundred or so chakra signatures, Temari. Twenty died in the traps I lay behind us. The rest will die tomorrow morning.”

The sun set, the dusk animals hunted, followed by the night hunters. But, generally, the cracking moon witnessed little activity as the presence of a strong contingent of ninja cramped the nocturnal animals’ style. During the night, the noise produced by the falling sand changed tone, becoming more of a rumbling tone than a hiss. It unnerved the ninja, but they could not find neither the cause nor the source of the sounds. Around five in the morning, the first deep purple line marking the return of the sun on the eastern horizon warned the ninja... and the buzzards! They flew off and began circling right above the ninjas. If anything, this should have told them they were their next meal! But they prepared their own meal, ignoring their environment. Insect-eating birds took off, followed, shortly, by worm-eaters. Had the ninja taken notice they would have seen that all tree nests had been deserted, and that burrowers had left their den for the most part.

Suddenly, a resounding crack occurred in the forest behind their camp site, alerting them, a bit late, of their precarious situation. Gaara and his siblings watched the rock face beginning to move slowly forward as they heard a distant rumble.

“They do not seem to realise their situation, Gaara.”

“Earthquakes are common here, as you know, and familiarity brings contempt. I think they are not even aware the ground is moving under them, Kankuro.”

The slice of sand-rock was gaining speed slowly, and the overhanging portion was now several feet. Below, the stream was pushing violently on the huge slab, lubricating the interface between the slice of rock and the subsurface. Another powerful crack was heard as another slice of the mountain began to move downward, following the first chunk down to its doom. By now, the ninjas moved to the edge of the forest, but suddenly found themselves looking at a cliff face where they saw the trail they had followed the previous night continue getting further away. Some, the most in control, shunshined across the gap, but the vast majority froze in surprise, which cost them their lives as the slab finally pitted its nose downward, ejecting them into the void it was falling into.

The few survivors began running up the trail, only to fall to new traps laid there by Gaara during the night. A couple did manage to reach the top edge of the second slice, but by then, the dust was so thick they could not Shunshin anywhere safely. And what for anyway, as they heard more cracking further up the mountainside?

Gaara and his family watched the events unfold with cold demeanour. They saw quite a few ninja projected across the gap to land in a bloody splatter against the cliff face below. Others ended up below, getting sandblasted to the bones in a fraction of a second, and others were crushed by falling rocks, trees, and other flying debris. Those few that had managed to jump the first gap only lasted a minute longer than their colleagues before joining them in oblivion.

“I still wonder who they were.”

“I still do not care, Temari.”

“They are members of a criminal organisation known as the Akatsuki,” said a blonde boy no older than Gaara, Kankuro and Temari, sitting on a tree stump, busily preparing a big bowl of ramen on an open fire.

The three siblings looked at the kid wide-eyed. Where did he come from? They never felt his chakra!

“Hey, take a seat, the ramen is almost ready. Ichibi, do you like your ramen spicy or sweet?”

That he was called out by the stranger unnerved Ichibi, and by extension, Gaara.

“How do you know?”

“That you are a jinchuriki? I am Kyuubi Kurama. I feel that your container is near breaking point, Ichibi. Strip! I need to fix the seal, or you will break out and the pain will make you mad.”

“But I want out!”

“No, you do not. The Akatsuki want you out so they can control you and enslaved you for eternity for a reason of their own. They tried with me, and I know it is not good for the Kitsune if they succeed. Obey! We do this now, while the Akatsuki still have not learned of their failure at capturing you and killing your container and his siblings.”

The tone used by the nine-tailed fox was so dominating that Gaara stripped and lay on his back on a big tree stump, legs wide and telephone pole standing at attention. It was not his first time to be seen aroused by his siblings, and played with by them, so he did not see any objection to the situation. And the commanding tone of his family member sort of raised his awareness of his body, and the feeling of the wind on the exposed glans and stretched foreskin stimulated him to the point he shook violently.

“You need to jack off, Gaara. You are way too sensitive!”

“I have not been able for the past week and a half!”

“I see.” The Naruto clone touched the tip, intent on pinching it, but Gaara shook violently and peed on himself.

“It seems I will not have to relieve the pressure with a pinch.” Naruto removed the residue, took out a wide brush and a bottle of blue ink. He then spread the blue ink around the belly of Gaara. As the ink sank it created a blue canvas that revealed the seal in red.

While waiting for the revealer to dry, Naruto studied the red outline of the seal. The more he studied it, the more enraged he got.

“The one that did this wants you to go nuts. The older you get, the more painful the situation becomes for you, Ichibi, and the more excruciating it becomes for the jinchuriki, Gaara. Once you reach thirteen and have your first liquid orgasm, you will go completely nuts and kill anyone in sight. You are lucky I know how to fix this. You are a death trap for any village that harbours you. And yet, Ichibi needs Gaara to live, so he would keep him alive, enslaved and totally in pain and nuts, sharing their misery.”

“Fix it! I WANT to sleep!”

“Ichibi, the first seal will be temporary. It will put you to sleep so you do not try and escape while I fix this crap. You need to sleep as much as your jinchuriki, and you will feel immensely better after it.”

Naruto took out a very fine-haired paint-brush, a pink ink, and drew a rather simple sleeping array, which he activated by a burst of chakra.

“Gaara? Ichibi is sleeping. I have to wait about ten minutes before the ink is dry so I can add another layer of revealing ink.”

“Why?”

“Simple: each revealing ink acts as insulator from the previous array, allowing me to draw overlays without interference. Once I have done all the overlays, I will redraw the seal as it should have been, and dispose of the underlying layers, including that shitty seal you currently have. It is dry. Next layer...”

An hour later, Naruto inked the final seal on top of the previous ones and waited for it to dry before covering the seal with a blood-red sealant.

“When Gaara wakes up, the other seals, including the initial fucked-up one will have been destroyed. It will take him three days to wake up. For his and your safety, we need to move. The Akatsuki will realise that something happened to Ichibi, if only because they will have more trouble tracking him until we reach our destination. Since they can not pinpoint him precisely, it is better for us to move now. I will move your animals first, since you tied them up ready to move this morning.”

Naruto clones appeared rapidly, grabbing each animal by a rope and shifting them to the top of the dolmen to vanish out of sight. Twenty minutes later, a Naruto clone came to the siblings, and grabbed Gaara, while another grabbed Temari and Kankuro to port them to the top and finally in the entrance hall of the cave.

“Welcome to the hidden entrance to the home of the Shadow Shogun. Boss will meet you shortly for lunch. As for Gaara, we will bring him to a resting place.”

“Can we see where?”

“Certainly, Temari. Follow me.”

The two siblings followed the Naruto clone along a passage that seemed to be endless. They reached a door, and the clone removed his shoes before kneeling down to open a paper door. Once this was done, he invited them inside, removing Gaara’s shoes and deposing them at the entrance.

“The kitchen is there, the onsen is in there and allows up to six adults at the same time; towels to wash and dry are in the tablets, along with all sorts of soaps; the organic disposal is right across the other door with flushing water disposal system, and there are three rather wide futons to sleep on. We know you share at night, but we did not want to presume, so we kept them separate. You can move them if you wish. Across that door is a hallway with rock walls enclosing a training ground. There are seals on every surface, so you risk not destroying the training space. We do have wooden stocks to destroy. After all, tree stumps do have some uses in a fireplace once they have been reduced to manageable splinters. Take a break. Lunch is in an hour. By the way, dressing code is extreme casual, namely, nothing! One of us will pick you up at the appropriate time so you do not get lost.”


“Gaara?”

“Yes, Kankuro?”

“Have you ever heard of a Shadow Shogun?”

“Actually, I never heard of a ‘Shogun’, much less of a shadowy one! Dad was not much into hiring tutors for us, remember? The only thing he values is our capacity to kill. All I know is he held the title of Yondaime Kazekage, or Fourth Shadow of the Wind, but my knowledge stops there.”

“I heard there were other shadows, all shadowing something different, but every time I talked about it, I was told to shut up...” Temari added.

“Dad wanted us to believe the world started at the border and stopped at the border. The fact that we are here, now, disproves his teachings.”

“I wonder how many shadows there are?”

“Kankuro, I was aware of five, but then, there might be more, and that there is a shadow shogun, whatever a shogun is, tells me there are at least six of them.”

“I can not contest your logic, Temari. Maybe we will learn more at lunch,” replied Kankuro.

“I also wonder how huge this place is? Just this room is bigger than the Kazekage tower in floor area! And I thought we knew how to build with rocks! Do you see a single joint?”

The other two examined the walls as far as they could reach, the floor, and even the door frames and poles for the drapes marking their emplacement. However hard they tried, they could not find any crack, any fissure, any indication of discontinuity. Even the drape rungs were made of stone without even a crack to indicate how the tissue had been inserted in the loop. The floor of the bathroom was patterned in different coloured ‘tiles’ but, however closely they examined the ‘tiles’ they could not find a discontinuity from one tile to the next. The drain was also of the same make, as was the water line!

“It is no use, Gaara. I tried using chakra to feel for a discontinuity, but it reports a monolithic block. Even a mountain shows fissures, but this... this... nothing!”

“Do not stress on it, Temari. Quite apparently, this building was built by the finest Earth chakra users ever, well before our village.”


The three siblings were looking out a window at a giant cat calmly walking in what seemed to be an open park, apparently hunting something. As they watched, wide-eyed, they saw the cat pounce on a rabbit, but what a rabbit! The rabbit in question looked to be the size of a desert gazelle!

“I was wondering what could feed that cat! Now, I wish I didn’t know!” Kankuro whispered in awe as the silent scene of carnage unfolded in front of their eyes.

As Gaara was getting ready to reply, they heard a call from the doorway.

“Lunch will be ready shortly. Are you coming?”

Temari almost told the clone to piss off after the disgusting show of the cat hunt down the rabbit, but her stomach decided otherwise, with a very loud, and noticeable, growl. The siblings followed the clone along the halls, getting lost after the fifth turn.

“Boss has some visitors already. Some should be arriving later tonight, probably after dinner.”

“Who is ‘Boss’?”

“The Shadow Emperor.”

“A seventh Shadow? How many shadows are there?”

“Seven, a lucky number. Ah, here we are.”

The siblings walked in a huge room that seemed to have no roof, but they realised quickly it was one of the best Genjutsu they had ever seen. Huge candelabras seemed to hang from the non-existent roof, over a table of granite that could easily seat one hundred. At the far end was a diminutive figure, sitting on what seemed to be a high chair for babies of all things.

“Come in, come in! Sit near me. I have met the others and talked to them so you have the three nearest seats to mine!” sounded a childish voice coming from the diminutive figure.

The Sunagakure visitors made their way to the end of the table, noticing the fine china, the presence of imperial cutlery, namely spoons, forks, and knifes, along with chopsticks made of ivory; chopsticks they knew how to use, but they usually were made of bamboo, not ivory! Each sitting also comprised a bowl, a crystal glass finely cut into the purest white rock, quartz if Gaara saw correctly, and a piece of paper (?) folded like an elaborate flower in the glass. Each seat was covered with cushions, and, as they neared their own seating, steps to allow them to climb and sit comfortably.

Once seated, the young boy introduced them to the other guests at the table, and finally introduced himself.

“I am Uzumaki - Namikaze Naruto, your host. Given previous experiences, and to make sure you are not embarrassed, I will quickly explain what is found in front of you. First, the glass contains a paper square folded into a flower and is called a napkin. It is used to wipe fingers, mouth and protect your clothes from dripping food. Second, the utensils: the knife should be rather easy to recognise, then there is the fork, the thing with four points used to hold the food in place while cutting it with the knife, and to bring cut pieces to your mouth; the spoon is the last instrument and is used to eat liquids. I know you recognise the chopsticks. It takes some practice to use the imperial utensils so I will not be shocked if you decide to use the chopsticks. You certainly noticed there are several sets of imperial cutlery per sitting; the number is indicative of the number of services planned for the meal. In this case, as it is a simple meet and greet, it has five sittings. The cutlery is placed so that you use the outer ones first, and move ever closer to the plate. At the top is the cutlery for dessert and is used last. There are five glasses as well, as you noticed. That means we will be served five different drinks to go with each sitting. Oh yes, the little bowl to your right contains soapy water to wash your fingers should a plate require you to use your fingers to hold to the dish being served. Do not drink it, it does not taste good!” finished Naruto, looking sideways at a blushing guest, while biting on his lips not to laugh.

The siblings nodded, and Naruto clapped his hands. Immediately a group of Naruto clones came in, carrying tureens of different types of Ramen on rolling serving tables.

“Pick the type of ramen you want. There are enough variety for every taste. I am getting miso chashu pork ramen, my favourite!”

The siblings picked their choices and watched Naruto use the imperial cutlery, trying their best to mimic his actions. All three were surprised at how heavy the cutlery was until it dawned on them that they were handing almost pure gold to eat such a common dish!

As new services were brought in, they talked to Naruto, wondering how to deal with him. Finally, Temari could not hold it anymore.

“Uzumaki Dono, we are at a loss as to whom you are. You seem to be of our age, yet you have the posture of one of our great ancestors...”

“I did not want to get titles in the way of an informal meal, but since you ask, I will answer. I am the Shadow Emperor, the Uzumaki of Uzumakigakure, destroyed by treason, and I am the Shadow Shogun, the Namikaze of Konohagakure. Both my parents were killed by treason, and I am on the path of revenge for their memory.”

“I may sound ignorant, but could you explain the political structure to us? Dad is a belly-button guy that can’t seem to look beyond his own stiffy!”

“Gaara!” exclaimed the other two, shocked by the language.

Naruto exploded in laughter, and quickly explained. “Your dad is at the bottom of the pyramid, so to speak. He commands a hidden village. Then there are countries, five of which host a hidden village, and are commanded by a Daimyo, with an army of Samurai. Above them there is the Shogun, or War Lord, that controls a number of countries. There used to be five shadow lords, but the arrival of the blasted Americans destroyed four of the shadow lords. I am the last, the last Shadow Shogun. Then, there is the Shadow Emperor, me again. The Americans, them again, tried to destroy and failed, because we were so well hidden that we were never detected. The current Emperor of Japan is a figure-head, a mere shadow (what irony!) of his old self, but he serves us well by keeping the Americans ignorant of us... keeping us in the shadow (again the irony!), if only because he knows not of our existence.”

After sipping on a coconut juice mix, Naruto continued the geopolitical lesson.

“The situation has degraded so much that hidden villages are on the verge of becoming known. Small minds, with small politics, short views, and delusions of grandeur are on the verge of bringing the hidden villages to light. I have been forced to destroy some, including Sunagakure, your home. I am in the process of recalling to this fall-back position every hidden village, by first recalling their jinchuriki. Should the world learn of the jinchuriki, the Americans would try to destroy them using raw force, thus unleashing the Demons on the world. They almost recalled Shinji, the original ten-tailed Demon, when they bombed Nagasaki, but we had all the Jinchuriki moved in the mountains at the start of the war. We had told the Japanese government, well, great-grand-father had, that starting an imperialistic expansion program was not for Japan and that we would not be involved. But Commodore Perry had scared the snot out of them, and they figured that building up a military would protect them. It ultimately backfired. You can not build without resources, and our islands are poor in essentials such as fuel, so expansionism ensued. That was the first treason, one of many to follow, by those who bent to the external pressure that led to the destruction of the Shogunates. We established the Shadow government in the hopes of preserving our heritage, but treason after treason by our own people have left us with only one hidden Shogunate, this one. And now, the Akatsuki, these criminals, are wanting to blow the cover up by acting openly. This will not be allowed to happen! I will not allow it!”

Naruto slammed his fist on the rock table, which resonated like a doomsday bell.

“There are many things left in the shadows with your explanation, Naruto – sama,” noted Gaara.

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