15 A Shinobi's Reality

-4199 words-

{Start of Crisis Affliction Arc}





[Year 51, Sunagakure]

The sounds of wood clashing could be heard as two wooden puppets could be seen clashing against each other in a small clearing.

The puppets were humanoid with no distinguishing features as they were created simply for practice dummies for budding puppeteers to use when they started to learn the art of puppetry.

Right now, Sasori Matsuri was having the time of his life.

After all, his precious nii-san is taking time out of his busy schedule to finally train him. It's been a year since his brother (technically, he was his uncle but who cares. Brother Souei is much better) kicked everyone's butt in the Chunin Exams.

His brother and his two teammates were promoted to Chunin as soon as they returned back to the village. He didn't really know the details but apparently the Kazekage heaped praises on them for being the first team to become Chunin at the age of 12.

And isn't that incredible?! From what Sasori understands, people don't usually make Chunin until they're like 15 or something. That's three years earlier than they should be.

Sasori himself was still in the academy. Even though he was only 6, his skills are growing at a pretty good pace.

Right now though, he had to focus as he swiped his little hands to the right to dodge an attack by his opponent's puppet. The difference in skill was pretty obvious though, Sasori's movements on his puppet were still stiff and awkward while Souei's were filled with grace and fluidity.

This was later proved when Souei's puppet managed to dropkick Sasori's to the ground. In one fluid movement, his older brother directed his puppet to reach Sasori's side and tap him on the head.

Acknowledging his loss, Sasori immediately dispelled the chakra strings from his fingers before he pouted.

"Looks like it's my win again." Souei chuckled amusedly.

"Whatever. I'll get you next time!" Sasori exclaimed excitedly

"Sure you will." Souei snorted. "Now come on, I have a mission soon and I should get ready."

The duo then turned and made their way back to the Matsuri Clan Compound. They walked and talked as they quickly reached their front door and promptly walked in.

However, as soon as they entered the living room. They could see Grandpa Ebizo consoling a crying Grandma Chiyo by the couch.

"W-What's going on?" Sasori asked anxiously.

Souei himself looked with narrowed eyes as he could see that their appearance made both elders jump in their seats.

Chiyo's tear filled eyes immediately widened as she quickly wiped them away before approaching her grandson.

"Oh Sasori, I'm so sorry…" She said in a soft voice as she hugged him.

"...It's about your parents, Sasori. I'm so sorry but they didn't make it back from their last mission." Ebizo said as his voice shook, obviously trying to hold strong in front of his family.

Sasori and Souei's eyes widened in shock as they heard that news. Sasori himself looked like someone punched him in the gut as tears appeared on the edge of his vision.

"W-what? M-mom and dad?"

His arms slowly circled around Chiyo as held on for dear life. Silent sobs then turned to the wails of a desperate child, hoping for his parents to come home, but knowing it was futile.

"Who did it?" The cold voice of Souei Matsuri reached the occupants of the room. Seeing his usually cheerful nephew act this way brought forth a surge of emotions he never realized he was capable of.

Ebizo of course noticed this and knows how dangerous it was for them to act out in anger. But despite his heart saying otherwise, he answered. "It was Sakumo Hatake. The White Fang of Konoha."

"I see." Souei said quietly before reluctantly turning around to leave the room. "I want nothing else but to stay here and help Sasori through this, but the Kazekage gave me an important mission. I have to go."

"Don't worry. We'll all be here by the time you get back. But Souei, please make sure you return to us."

"...Of course I will."

— Marionette of Suna —

A few days had passed since he left for his mission. Souei recently found himself lounging around the roof of a caravan. His mission involved a High B-rank mission involving the protection of a high ranking official from the daimyo office.

The man was heading to the Land of Vegetables to try and engage a working relationship between both countries. The Land of Wind would provide them with rare minerals while the Land of Vegetables would provide fresh crops and agricultural products.

He could still remember the Kazekage being adamant this mission not end in failure. Sunagakure usually receives their import of food and fresh products from the Land of Fire. This is because the Land of Wind's climate just isn't fit for farms. Sure we have our own foods that can grow in the harsh deserts, but it's nowhere near enough.

With the rumors of war taking place soon, Suna needs to have their own source of food and grains that aren't from their potential enemies.

The daimyo and the Kazekage had decided we would open trade routes with the Land of Vegetables. And so Souei was whisked away in this bodyguard mission by Ryushi. The official himself was pretty excited to get the champion of the Chunin Exams as his bodyguard, as he was among the few to accompany the Daimyo in watching the event a year ago.

The convoy to the Land of Vegetables was a decent sized group. There were 3 caravans each bringing their own group of people. The first one was filled with 3 people who served as servants and escorts. The second one had the official himself, while the last one belonged to the Daimyo's personal guards, who brought their own forces as precaution.

There were 4 of them, each one Souei ranked as around low to mid Chunin level in strength. Pretty decent, but not enough. Souei wonders why such an important mission like this only has such low level guards protecting it. Sure he's here but still.

A few hours passed by that Souei spent laying down on the roof of the caravan with his thoughts centered towards Sasori. 'I wonder if he's okay…'

Souei then clenched his fists as he thought of the man responsible for the pain his family has suffered. 'The White Fang of Konoha, eh?'

The sudden stop of the carriage got his attention, as they weren't scheduled for a break for the next 3 hours.

He got up and looked to the front. Ahead of them, the path was blocked by an uprooted tree. Souei stayed put on the roof on the middle caravan, already a decent amount of what could only be bandits circled around the convoy. He could see the coachman of each carriage shaking in fear as their hands shook while the clutches to the horses.

From the back caravan, the 4 daimyo guards immediately exited as they all brandished their weapons against the bandits.

One of the bandits that Souei assumes to be the leader took a step forward as he grinned maliciously. He was a large man with visibles muscles covering his entire body. His head was shaved as he held an axe in his hand. "Well lookie here! Now you people look like you got some good coin on ya! How about sharing some with us eh?"

That was the moment the official himself, Zori, exited his carriage and confronted the bandit. "You got some nerve disrupting a convoy from the Daimyo Office! I'll have your head hanged for this!" He declared, getting wide eyes from the bandits.

"Woah woah, back up. You're saying you lot are with the Daimyo?" he blinked owlishly before his grin grew wider. "How perfect! That means he'd probably pay good money to have you back right?!"

Zori looked taken aback at that. His face paled as his fear was shown.

Souei however, had already tuned them out as he took a mental count of all the bandits in the area.

'Around 20 of them. From the looks of it, they're just run of the mill thugs with no formal training.'

Souei smirked. This was going to be easy. 'Hmm, maybe I should take this chance to try out something I've been working on.'

He refocused back on the conversation only to see the bandit leader rush towards Zori with his axe raised. It looks like he'll be able to reach him before the other guards could do anything.

"Now that won't do."

To everyone's surprise, the large man was suddenly stopped in his tracks. He looked shocked as his eyes darted, trying to find the cause of his immobility.

"That was pretty rude of you to ignore me y'know? And that's my client you're trying to kill." Souei's voice cut through as everyone there looked to his direction.

He was sitting on top of the middle carriage, legs crossed and he laid his head on a palm in a bored manner.


"Yep, you got it in one. You didn't think an official client from the Daimyo Office wouldn't have any competent guards, did you?"

The bandit leader panicked and immediately ordered his men. "K-Kill him! He's just a kid!"

Although they slightly hesitated, the group of bandits immediately charged forward. Zori, the official, rushed back to the safe confines of his carriage the moment he saw this. "P-protect me! Please!"

Souei said nothing as he immediately stood up, strings conjured from his fingers connected to every single bandit in the area.

"What is this?!"

"I can't move."

"Hehehe, now then…" Souei had a concentrated look on his face as he started moving his fingers in an intricate manner.

Suddenly, the bandit leader slowly raised his axe, before he swung it sideways, cutting one of his subordinates in half.

On the other side, one bandit raised his blade before he stabbed his friend beside him.

Another bandit, who had a relatively large stature, simply grabbed two of his colleagues before he started choking them.

"W-What is this?! What's going on?!"

Under the shocked gaze of the official and his escorts, every single bandit started killing each other.

Screams of pain could be heard as the massacre started. Souei simply had a blank look on his face as it all happened.

After what felt like hours, the ground was covered in red as corpses littered the field around them. The Bandit Leader was the only one left standing, with him panting in exhaustion and sweat and blood pooling around him.

Souei released his control as the large man fell to the ground unceremoniously, akin to a puppet whose strings have been cut. He laid there in the ground, physically and mentally broken as he looked up to see Souei standing above him.

"P-Please. Have mercy." The bandit leader cried. Snot and tears dirtying his face as he sobbed.

Souei just looked on before he turned around and left. A wave of his hand was all it took for strings to appear and lift the tree that blocked their path away.

He jumped back onto the roof of the middle caravan, before he laid back down with his hands behind his head. "Let's go."

Zuri, who was still in a state of shock, immediately snapped back into attention. "O-Of course!"

He then gestured for everyone to start moving as they gingerly move past the dead bodies and away towards their original destination, leaving the sobbing man by himself.

— Marionette of Suna —

"May I ask you a question?"

Zuri asked him as they sat by the fire. It's been a few hours since the encounter with bandits and the convoy has stopped to rest for the day. They were half a day away from the border to the Land of Vegetables and decided they'd continue the journey in the morning. They camped close to a river and Souei found himself in the company of the official.

Looking at the man, Souei finally took the chance to study his features. Zuri was a man in his mid 50's, with slightly graying hair. He had a goatee and tan skin that contrasted to his bright yellow suit.

"What is it?"

"Why did you spare that man from before? If I understood correctly, he was the leader." The man asked with a curious tone.

"He asked for mercy and I gave it to him, that was all there is to it." Souei said in a quiet tone. "Besides, someone had to bury the corpses."

Zuri frowned at the answer as he looked at the Shinobi that was assigned as his bodyguard. He was barely older than his own son, and he was already doing something like massacring 20 people in cold blood.

What a messed up world they live in.

He then remembered the first part of the answer and smiled. 'Perhaps not as cold as I thought.'

"Nevertheless, I thank you. You saved me and the entire convoy and for that, you have my gratitude."

Souei just smirked. "Anytime, oldman."




It was four days later that they found themselves in another situation. Souei was in his usual spot on top of the middle carriage before a sudden chill ran down his back. He immediately got up and scanned their surroundings, just trees and a small clearing ahead.

However, something was obviously wrong or else his instincts won't be screaming at him like this. He continued to look around him to find anything out of the ordinary.

Something red crossed his vision and his eyes widened as he saw an explosion tag attached to a tree beside them. A quick scan told him that every tree around them had tags planted on them.

Souei was about to warn the guards, only for the tags to suddenly glow bright as they were activated.

'No time!'

Deciding that he and Zuri's lives took priority, Souei resolved himself as he crossed his arms and created a cocoon of solid string that surrounded the middle carriage.

He tensed himself in preparation as a bright explosion could be seen through the small gaps from the string cocoon. Souei pumped more chakra to his strings to make sure they held as the shockwave nearly knocked him down.

After the explosion passed, he released the cocoon. Immediately he could see both carriages in front and behind him to be nothing more than charred blackened pieces of wood with no survivors.

Souei growled at that. He had gotten the chance to know each and every single person that traveled with him in this journey and now they were all dead.

"Good god…"

Zuri took this chance to exit his carriage and expressed his disbelief at the scenery that greeted him. He clenched his fists before letting it go in his powerlessness.

"Souei, what can-"

He asked only to stop as Souei raised an arm in the universal sign to wait.

Suddenly, a group of people flickered in towards their position. They had blank masks and wore cloaks that hide their body underneath.

"Who the hell are you?"

Souei questioned as his eyes were blazing in fury. Again and again, death encompasses those around him. First his cousins, and now them. Hari, Jojo, Kanto, and Mayuri, the four guards. Mirai, Hotetsu, and Kari the servants. Even the coachmen weren't spared. These people weren't ninjas. They were just innocent civilians.

He clenched his fists tight as he could barely hold back his anger. Seeing the masked people in front of him not answering his question, he pointed a palm towards Zuri.

"Sorry old man, but I'll have to focus. Just wait up and this'll be over soon." He said to him as he created another cocoon smaller in size to the previous one with Zuri inside.

"No wait!"

Souei just ignored him as the 6 Shinobi in front of him took stances to prepare for the fight. Not knowing what they could do, Souei opted to be more cautious.

Two of the masked men immediately dashed towards him with a kunai in hand. They kept going forwards, only to suddenly lose their momentum as they got bisected, pieces of their flesh falling to the ground in a soft thud.

Souei simply glanced at the remains of his two opponents before his eyes gazed back at the 4 remaining masked shinobi who were visibly surprised at the fate of their 2 comrades.

Souei mentally pat himself on the back. It was an idea he had after the Chunin Exams where he was forced to fight 2 fast opponents. By silently conjuring strings in between him and his opponents, anyone who dashed at high speeds towards him would find themselves an untimely death. After all, he could create strings so thin it was nearly impossible to see with the naked eye.

One of his opponents must have noticed something as he signaled his allies and immediately one of them did quick hand signs and burst out a thin stream of fire towards him.

The strings he put between them caught fire almost immediately and Souei had to quickly conjure up an earth wall to defend himself against the flames.

Knowing the strings are now gone, 2 of his opponents immediately dashed out from the sides of the wall while the other two appeared on top of said wall peering down at him.

Not wanting to participate in a 1v4 fight, Souei immediately evened the odds as 3 string clones appeared behind him and rushed their individual targets.

The real Souei however singled out the one from the group that seemed to be the leader. Strings pulled him up as he shoulder checked his opponent off the wall.

His body then twisted mid air as it now rushed the now still flying opponent. Souei quickly appeared above said assumed leader of the masked ninjas before lifting his leg up and hammering it down on his opponent's shoulder, driving him back into the ground.

Souei didn't slow down as he continued to summon strings to jump off of and launched himself towards the now downed ninja.

He slammed his knee into the ninja's chest. He felt the ninja's ribs shatter upon impact and organs ripping apart. He pulled his knee from the dead shinobi's chest with a sickening squelch.

He looked away towards the three remaining masked ninja, only to see two of them already done dispatching his string clones with only one remaining left. His last clone on his last legs as it tried to fight off against three ninja at the same time.

Souei simply raised one hand into a half ram seal. The thing about string clones are that they work pretty differently to a regular standard clone. The first being they require direct control by the user, which means that Souei himself had to individually manipulate the movement of the string clones for them to move. The more clones there are, the harder to control, the less fluid their movements become. However, the plus sides involve them being much more durable than standard clones. Unlike water clones that are only a tenth the user strength or shadow clones that dispel after one hit, string clones can take a lot of damage before they crumble back to regular strings.

And of course, last but not least, Souei's favorite application of them.

"String Clone: Combustion."

Similar to how the string grenades could explode into sharp shrapnel, the clones could do the same thing.

The result, of course, being that all three shinobi found themselves mutilated beyond recognition.


Except one apparently.

Souei immediately found the one moaning in pain, he managed to luck out by only getting one of his arms cut off below the elbow and his leg from above the knee.

Seeing this as an opportunity, Souei tried his best to keep the man from dying. At first he contemplated on heating up his injuries so he could cauterize them, but that would undoubtedly be painful and the man would probably fall unconscious from the pain. Which won't do since he's pretty pressed for time.

'I got an idea but I have no idea if this is going to work. Well whatever, here goes…'

Finding sudden inspiration, Souei tried his best to use his strings to patch up his injuries and stitch the holes in his body. The result was crude work at best and was definitely only a temporary fix, but it opens up a lot of opportunities for on-the-spot treatment if he practices it more.

'I should consult Auntie and Rukia about this. Maybe even get a lesson or two from them on how to stitch properly.'

Souei puts a mental reminder to do just that as soon as he gets back to the village. Now though, he's got work to do.

He summoned strings that pulled the groaning ninja up before he held him in a starfish like position with both hands in the air and his legs open to the side. His body was tilted forwards with his head on the same height as Souei's. Souei then stepped forward and took off the ninja's mask.

Facing him was a man in his mid 20s with blonde hair and teal eyes.

"Talk. Who do you work for?" Souei questioned.

The man simply stared as Souei defiantly, his eyes practically challenging him.

Souei pulled on one of the strings, the strings on his wrists and ankles becoming tighter as a result and starting to cut into his skin.

The man's eyebrows slightly twitched as he fought through the pain. Souei assumed he must've gone through torture training if a twitch was all he got from that.

Not knowing what else to do, Souei simply frowned before pulling the string even further. The strings tightened even more as blood can now be seen flowing from his wrists to his arms and droplets of blood leak from his ankles. Souei made sure however to not pull enough that the wrists and ankles get cut off.

He could see the man's face scrunched up in response to the pain. His jaw tensed as Souei gave it a few more seconds before he let go of the string and let it loosen.

The ninja's entire body immediately slacked as he panted in quick breaths.

"Had enough?"

The man looked to Souei in fear before he nodded tiredly. He opened his mouth to speak only for his body to suddenly lock in place. The man's eyes were wide in panic as the paralysis took over and he found himself unable to move. It didn't take long for him to suddenly shake uncontrollably. Souei, not knowing what was going on, immediately cut off his strings and grabbed the body out of the air as he laid him on the ground.

His torture victim was convulsing and blood leaked out of his mouth and eyes. The man's body suddenly jerked upwards before dropping to the ground, clearly dead with his eyes and mouth wide open.

Souei was confused by all this. That was when a strange marking caught his eye and Souei opened the corpse's mouth and pulled on his tongue. Right there, engraved on the back of the tongue was a strange seal that was quickly disappearing. Souei made sure to remember the design as the seal was completely wiped from the man's body.

Souei then stood back up. His eyes gazed towards the remains of the other masked ninja nearby and then towards the broken and charred caravan. He then looked back down towards his latest torture victim, whose cause of death remains a mystery.

'What the hell is going on?'


The plot thickens mueheheheh.

I also apologize for the late chapter. It took a while to organize the plans for this arc, but now everything is dandy. The short hiatus is over and I should be back to posting pretty regularly.

Anyways, I'm pretty sure everyone already knows who exactly the masked ninja were. After all, at this point in time, Root was a VERY active organization and Danzo was very busy orchestrating a lot of things from behind the scenes.

I looked it up in the wiki and Danzo was responsible for a lot of the crazy stuff that happened pre-canon. I hoped to utilize that and make him scheme out a lot of dark things for the MC to eventually run into.

Writing the torture scene was pretty fun. And so was the forcing-your-enemies-to-kill-one-another type move. Been planning that one for a while now.

In other news, this is the start of the Crisis Affliction arc. We're starting things off with a small mission that will probably last a couple of chapters before we head towards the bigger stuff, aka The Second Shinobi War.

Advanced chapters on my pat_reon page! Depending on the tier, you could get up to chapter 22 along with a few other benefits. I've also got 3 chapters for The Dark Swordsman if you're interested


(Remove the spaces)

Anyway, that's all from me.


Trivia: How important of a character is Danzo to the series as a whole?

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