This is the journey of a boy, through a world riddled with war and travesty. Will he be able to find a purpose, or will he be consumed by the darkness surrounding him? Could he preserve his humanity, more importantly, what will be worth his humanity? Regular updates every sunday. Read ahead and support me; pare0n. com/drkest

Drkest · Anime & Comics
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74 Chs

Chapter 23: Beloved Rose!



"Was I just a mission to you? A honeypot arranged by this village?"

Karin said in a cold voice. She then turned to look me straight in the eye.

I just gulped down in my seat thinking about her accusations. They were wild but I knew she did not want to hear it like that. She was scared, conflicted, and alone. And she was just lashing out irrationally.

"Do you really think that?" I asked in a small voice.

She scoffed at my words.

"What does it matter what I think? The only thing that matters is what you did. You have forced me into a corner from where there is no solution!"

I listened to her words quietly, just staring at her red furious face. Then I began speaking in a slow tone.

"Do you really believe in your heart that everything I have done for you? That everything I feel for you is a lie?"

She did not reply. She began chewing her lips and looked down at the table.

"Say it once and I will help you leave this village myself"—she looked up at me surprised, I continued --"I will help you settle in a secluded area on the continent at any cost? No one will be able to find you. Not Kusa, not Konoha. No one."

I finished. She was now staring at me wide-eyed. She understood the meaning behind those words. If she said the word, I would go rogue for her. I would become a missing-nin, hunted by hunter-nin from every village.

"One day when I was getting my lease for this land. I saw a team from a foreign village enter. I saw them enter the village, a red-haired girl entered the village and closed her eyes. She closed her eyes and smiled one of the most radiant smiles I had ever seen. It was like she had seen color for the first time. A bird who had taken its maiden flight."

I was staring out the window as I recalled our first encounter.

"Her ankle was sprained. She was in pain yet she did not seem to care. Then I saw one of her teammates grab her by the arm, his face twisted in something nauseating. And then her expression changed. I saw his expression morph into one of dread and hopelessness. The smile, gone from her face, death taking its place. I saw the various bite marks on her hands"

Karin was looking down now. Not matching my eyes.

"He opened his mouth and had a hungry look on his face."

At this, I stood up and moved towards her. She was still looking down her face not visible. I help her face in my hands. Feeling the heat in her cheeks and the tremble of her body.

"And I rushed in. Just because I wanted to see that smile again. Damn the consequences!"

And now I was staring straight into her eyes. Deep Brown found bright Red. Tears linger on both their edges.

"And from that day I have hungered for that smile. And I shall continue to hunger for it. Damn the consequences."

And both of us just broke down into tears. Karin got up and wrapped her arms around me, holding me tightly as she rested on my chest, wetness spreading through my shirt. My face rested on the crook shoulder, covered with bright red hair, smelling like fresh lavender.

Both of us stayed that way for a long time, crying for each other, at each other, forgetting the world around us. For it did it matter. Did the world really matter if it destroyed that smile?



The day of the exam was here. Shikamaru watched as the crowd roared at the various opening performances. A lot of the people were just arriving. Yet the chunin exams were not the leaf's biggest news at the moment. Another news had dwarfed it.

A grand council had been called by The Hokage. This was the first Grand Council after the Uchiha massacre. In that meeting, Konoha had lost a clan. But this time it had gained a clan. More like regained, his brain corrected.

After more than two decades Uzumaki had retaken their seat on the council. A pure-blooded descendant from the once great clan had sought asylum and Konoha had stood in support of their ally. Politically it was a statement move by the Hokage. It was a statement to their allies that they would not forget them under any circumstances. To their enemies, it was a stand showing that Konoha stood proud and strong.

To Shikamaru, it was a drag. Her mother had gotten wind of the engagement of his friend Shinso. That lucky bastard, Shikamaru thought as he remembered his friend's face. And since that day the clan elders and his mother had started asking him about a match. Man, he was just about to be fifteen. If Shinso had the capability to deal with nagging at this age, then so be it. He did not have it. Yet.

"Shikamaru," someone broke his thought process and Shikamaru saw Ino, Choji, and Lee coming towards him.

"Hello," he said waving at them. All three of them took the chairs beside his. Lee was still in his clutches.

"How are you feeling Shikamaru? Are you nervous? Have you prepared well?" Ino began fussing over him.

Shikamaru just looked at his teammate and noticed the change in her. These exams had changed them all. They had them growing up. Ino had changed a lot over the last month. Despite being eliminated from the exam she had been training extremely hard.

"Yeah, I am fine. My father has said that my skills were adequate for the exam so I will do all right." he just drawled out.

Then Ino began talking and he realized she had not changed that much.

"Did you hear the news about Shinso-kun? He actually got engaged and is now on the clan council. Honestly, most of my clan has been buzzing about him and Karin-san." And she went on and on. But after a while, she stopped and said in a profoundly serious tone.

"My father mentioned that he has painted a huge target on his back with this. That Kusa was not happy with the news and he might find some retaliation from them."

And he was right. Kusa had been livid, despite being their allies they had rejected Konoha's explanation. But we had pointed to their breach of the peace treaty of the Second war, yet they remained adamant. But that was not Shinso Kun's major concern.

He had the second match today. A match against Gaara of the sand.

"Well, he can worry about Kusa later. First, he must beat that kid from Suna, otherwise, their retaliation will be quite late." He commented and he saw Ino nod at that.

He then turned towards Lee and Ten-Ten both were quite close to Shinso-Kun as he recalled.

"So, where is he?" he asked, and Ten-Ten just shook her head.

"I do not know. He has not been seen since the announcement of the council. We asked Kurenai sensei and she said that he has chosen a special place to train and is unreachable."

Shikamaru nodded his head at that. But Ten-Ten continued.

"But he will be here. The first match is of his teammate Hinata and there is no way that he misses it."

"Do you think he stands a chance?" Ino asked. Her question was a bit insensitive but it was something that he wanted to ask as well.

Ten-Ten just shrugged her shoulders, her face showed that she was worried for him. But she turned to Lee who was the real target of the question.

"I have known Shinso kun for many years now. We have trained together and over the years I have understood a certain thing about him."

And Shikamaru narrowed his eyes as he soaked up all this new information about the infamous genin.

"Under certain conditions, Shinso Kun can defeat anyone!" Lee said with conviction. He then continued.

"We all mostly focus on his fuinjutsu and ninjutsu. Yet most of us forget that it took me years to reach the level of speed that I have. And in all those years a certain someone was training right beside me."

Understanding dawned on Shikamaru. And a huge grin appeared on his face.

So, that is how it was.

He had not even shown them all of the tricks in his bag. Then the performers left the arena and the announcer entered the stage.


Applause broke out through the arena.

"Please welcome the esteemed leaders. HOKAGE AND KAZEKAGE." And he pointed towards the special box at the top seating thee two kages with their ceremonial garbs.

"Now I shall announce the first two contestants!" And Shikamaru saw the two Hyuga's entering the arena from the side.

"The first match is between shinobi from one of the oldest clans in the shinobi world. Give it up for."

And the people were getting excited.


Shikamaru noticed a jounin walk between them and as he was about to say something. There was a very large smoke from one side of the arena. He narrowed his eye and saw Shinso kun walking out of the smoke.

Behind him was the Red Haired Uzumaki heiress. Dressed in a royal purple kimono with a cherry blossom decorating it all. She had her hair tied up and her glasses were nowhere to be seen. She was wearing some large earrings.

"She is dressed like Lady Mito."

Then Shikamaru's attention shifted to Shinso Ken. And he had changed. His brown hair was brushed back, his ears also held a single piercing. He was now wearing a black jacket over a dark red undershirt. His trousers and sandals were also pitch black. Yet the biggest change was the eyes.

Gone was the easy-going gaze he usually held and in its place was the gaze of a predator. Those eyes hid a storm beneath them.

"Damn, he knows how to make a statement!"

And Ten-Ten was right. This was Shinso making a statement to all the nobles and the other clan heads. He was showing them that this was no longer just a nominal seat. And from the silence around the arena, it seemed that he had made his point.

Shinso then led Karin to the VIP booth. And after she had taken a seat, with the other nobility. He made his way to the other side, his eyes finally landing on his teammate, Hinata. Hinata had a small grin on her face as she saw her teammate.

He took his seat, and the proctor finally realized his duties.

"Now, we shall begin the first match."

"Are both contestants ready?"

Both Hinata and Neji nodded at the proctor.


And the third phase was underway. Shikamaru was observing the match. Yet he had not missed the movements of the masked shinobi in the back.

'What was the ANBU doing here?'


The Third phase begins. Shinso has just undergone his first change.

Moreover, who will Shikamaru end up with? Will he succumb to his mother's wishes or will he be able to delay them calling all this such a drag?

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