16 Small Reprieve

-1974 words-

[Year 51, Land of Vegetables]

Souei stood behind Zuri as talks and negotiations of the trade deal between the Land of Wind and the Land of Vegetables went underway. He was simply there as an escort, with him having absolutely no say on the talks, which suited him just fine.

After the whole ambush with the masked Ninja, he released Zuri from his cocoon and went on their way. Souei opted to leave the carriage since one, the coachman, is dead, and two, it's a useless mode of travel for only two people. So to speed things up, Souei carried Zuri on his back before he used his strings to swing to the capital.

He had to take a few rests in between, but they managed to make it 2 days ahead of the scheduled time. The capital guards were alarmed at first when two men suddenly dropped from the sky at their gates, but their worries were soon abided when Zuri fished the necessary papers that proved their identity from his pockets.

The guards questioned them on what happened, since they were originally expecting an entire convoy. That's when Zuri told them about the ambush, and how he and Zuri are all that's left.

Souei then thought back to the fight and the subsequent meaning behind it. The masked ninja had already prepared an ambush, which means they knew that a convoy was coming through and they knew exactly the route they were going to take.

Sandaime himself said the info about the mission was limited to only the higher ups in the Kage Office and the Daimyo Office. Which means that they either have a traitor, or the information somehow got leaked.

Whichever it was, the breach in security was a cause of concern.

"-lieve that an alliance between our countries would be beneficial. The Land of Vegetables lacks raw minerals but has an excess of agricultural crops. The Land of Wind is the exact opposite."

He was brought out of his thoughts as Zuri continued to talk with the Land of Vegetables's representative.

Heh, excess of raw minerals, honestly it's a pretty big understatement. The Land of Wind currently holds the largest exports of iron with the Land of Iron just behind them. That's what you get when their very own Kazekage could extract tons of iron sand with a wave of his hand. Once Rasa's control over his abilities increases, Suna would become even richer with Gold Dust being added to their list.

Speaking of Rasa, Souei wonders how he's doing. Although they, along with Rukia, do missions together from time to time. They opted to pursue their own interest in their own separate divisions in the Suna Shinobi Force.

Rukia balanced her time between doing missions, learning under Aunt Chiyo, and working in the hospital. She's managed to save a few lives already and people are starting to recognize her for her skills.

Rasa and Souei went on a rotating cycle of missions with different Chunin and Jonin. They learned how to work in a team and even gained some experience in leading their own squads.

However, they do make an effort to make sure they trained with one another or at least hung out once a week.

The scraping of chairs got his attention as he looked up. Zuri and the representative from the Land of Vegetables were shaking hands and smiling, which means that the talks most likely ended positively for both parties.

He and Zuri then exited the conference room as they walked side by side towards their assigned rooms.

"So how'd it go?"

"Pretty well all things considered. We didn't get as high a number as we'd like but the agreed amount is still well within our budget." Zuri then looked at him as he raised an eyebrow. "Weren't you listening?"

"I got a little distracted." Souei shrugged. "In any case, when are we clear to get back to the village?"

"We should be able to get back tomorrow morning. We'll also be having an escort from the Daimyo Guard, thankfully."

"That's useful. I just hope nothing else happens on our way back." Souei said with a huff.

"You and me both, my boy." Zuri agreed. "You and me both."


— Marionette of Suna —


"-is the outcome of the mission. Aside from the success in creating a trade alliance with the Land of Vegetables and my concerns about the ambush, that should be everything."

"Very well then. You're dismissed"

Ryushi, the Third Kazekage, watched as Souei Matsuri flickered out of view as he finally took the chance to take a break. He leaned back against the backrest of his chair, closed his eyes, and massaged his temples.

Although the news his shinobi just brought to him is a positive one, the fact that they now have a clear source of food imports would mean Konoha has no chances of threatening their position in the war with threats of cutting their supply line. However, the fact that there is an apparent leak of information is a troubling matter he couldn't just push aside.

The fact that foreign shinobi managed to receive information that negotiations took place between their two countries and even the route the representative would take means a heavy breach in security. And he has no idea where to start to resolve this.

Usually, a simple bait would do the trick, but he doubts that this supposed mole would fall for it, if the fact he's managed to remain hidden for so long is to be believed.

But now, with their focus on the upcoming war ahead, sparing the resources to do would undoubtedly be difficult.

Ryushi sighed at that. 'War. It's all what Shinobi know these days.' He thought in distate.

Nevertheless, he looked back to the mass of reports and paperwork now stacked on his desk. Most detailing information regarding the soon to be what he expects to be next Great Shinobi War,

Even though he didn't like it one bit, academy students would have to graduate earlier. Impromptu promotions are needed as well, with current Genin to receive promotions despite their lack of skill and experience. Chunin were needed, and Genin had to replace the Chunin for village work.

"Looks like it's time to step up the game…"


— Marionette of Suna —


Souei sat on a large cliff that oversaw the entire village with his legs dangling on its edge. He had in his hand a stick of ice cream that was quickly melting from the heat of the Suna Desert.

This was a place he always went to whenever he needed to think. With everything going on recently, he felt he needed to take a step back and take it all in.

Sasori's parents died. His cousins. Souei had to regretfully admit that he wasn't that close to them. But they were still family. Remembering Sasori's outburst after news of their deaths would forever be etched into his memories.

Both of Souei's parents died before he was born. He never had the chance to actually know them, so he finds it kind of difficult to relate to what Sasori must be feeling right now.

Then his thoughts were brought back to his recent mission. The bandits, the masked men. He had killed so many people in a brutal fashion in such a short amount of time. Sure he spared the bandit leader, but one could argue that letting him live is a bigger torture than outright killing him.

Did he regret doing it, killing all those people?


But was it a tragedy? Sure.

He sighed as he took a bite out of his ice cream. The sweet mango-ey taste reinvigorating him as he enjoyed the view of the village. If anything, he could at least leave it to ice cream to bring him back to a good mood.

"I thought I'd find you here."

He looked back at the voice to see Aunt Chiyo walking up thim. She took a seat beside him as she pulled out her own stick of ice cream. Either strawberry or watermelon, Souei thinks judging from the red color.

"I heard you finished your mission but you didn't make it back to the mansion."

"Yeah, sorry about that. Needed some time to think is all." He said as he looked up towards the sky. "How's Sasori?"

"He's…recuperating." She answered with a sigh. "Don't get me wrong, he's still hit hard from losing his parents. But I think he's healing at the very least."

"And what about you?" Souei asked as he looked towards her.

Chiyo took a deep breath as she answered. "I thought the day your father died would be the worst moment of my life. But the pain of a mother outliving her son is one I never thought I'd experience." She said before continuing in a mournful voice.

"However, we are shinobi. We grieve, we endure, we move on. It's as simple as that."

"That doesn't really sound so simple." Souei said bitterly. How is someone supposed to move on from something like that? It was times like this where he truly sees her aunt as the strong woman she is. He doubts he'll be able to do the same in her shoes.

It's also a bitter reminder on how utterly fucked their world really is. A world where children die young and families are torn apart.

Chiyo just chuckled. "Perhaps not. I'd like to say that it gets easier with age but I'd be lying." She then smiled at her nephew. "You know your parents would have been very proud of you right?"

"Yeah, I know. It sounds crazy but I can sometimes feel it, you know. Like a warm embrace whenever I start second guessing myself. Whenever things start to get 'cold'." Souei said. "I just know they're watching over me. Wherever they are."

"That doesn't sound crazy at all." Chiyo smiled as she took a bite of her ice cream. "I'm glad to hear it."

Silence then took over as the two enjoyed the sudden small breeze that covered the area. Their hair swayed in the wind as they took that chance to relax. With the days ahead being filled with strife, they made sure to enjoy the moment of peace they had. For that peace will not last much longer.


Small chapter this time. I took the chance to dive in a little bit to Souei's psyche. He's now realizing just what a terrifying world it really is. He's realizing just what it takes to live as a shinobi. He's maturing and growing up.

The thing about the Souei's parents is also something I'm debating to put into the story. The power of love is a real thing in Naruto, considering Gaara's auto defense works due to his mother's love for him. I'm still pretty undecided if I want something like that though since it's a pretty vague concept. What are your thoughts?

We're starting with the Second Shinobi War next chapter. I can already imagine the chaos of writing that. What fun.

I also find writing things from Chiyo's perspective to be therapeutic. I don't know why, but there's something alluring about wizened elderly characters. Uncle Iroh being the most prime example.

Advanced chapters on my pat_reon page! Depending on the tier, you could get between 2 or 8 chapters ahead along with a few other benefits.


(Remove the spaces)

Anyway, that's all from me.


Trivia: What is the deadliest unconventional superpower? (For me, the simple ability to instantly boil water seems pretty cool. You can easily make great tea and coffee with it. Not to mention that 70% of the human body is made of water. Have fun burning from the inside out when I turn your blood to 100 degrees celcius.)

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