As I Wake

Peaceful Village

I was greeted with a clink sound coming from another sword clashing into mine.

He was young. Possibly a year older, but his slim built featured his adolescence. Even young, he towered a good six inches over me. A mop of brown curly hair perched upon his head. Emerald green eyes borrowed into mine, trying to puncture a hole into my very soul.

Our swords clashed as we continued to spar.

“I’ll kill you!” the boy screamed.

Team Seven ran towards the commotion. “Quorra!” Naruto yelled, still a distance away. “Are you alright? What’s going on?”

I grunted in reply. Who was this boy and why was he attacking me? I deflected another blow.

As the manic boy prepared to take another swing, an older man appeared. He looked mid-40 with salt and pepper hair that was combed neatly back. “Isiah, that’s enough.”

The boy, Isiah, hesitantly put down his sword and I did the same. “But James! She’s the enemy!”

James shook his head. “No she’s not, Isiah. Can’t you see what she’s wielding?”

We both looked puzzled at the sword in my hand.

“Shit,” Isiah muttered.

I didn’t see how the sword had anything to do with this. It wasn’t even mine.

Team Seven finally met up with us. Violet was on Kakashi’s back.

Naruto started a scene. “Hey, you,” pointing to Isiah. “Who are you and why are you attacking my teammate!?”

Teammate, huh?

Naruto pulled out a kunai knife, ready to start a brawl, but Kakashi placed a firm grip on his shoulder.

“Easy, Naruto,” Kakashi calmly said.

“Cool it, Naruto.” Sasuke warned as he took out a weapon as well.

“Yeah! Cool it, Naruto!” Sakura chanted. “Listen to Sasuke.”

“Now, Now,” the older man, James, said. He placed a hand on Isiah’s shoulder, holding his pupil back. “Please excuse my apprentice here. He mistaken you for the enemy.”

James’ eyes scanned across Team Seven and me, his expression unconvinced. “I’m terribly sorry. Please, as a form of an apology, come back to the village as our guests. We will supply you all with food and shelter for the night. It’s the least we can do,” he smiled sincerely.

I snorted. I didn’t see the point in going. We’re only a few hours away from the village. There was still an hour of daylight left. Plus, something about them gave me weird vibes. Why were they here, surrounded by all these fallen men?

As if all those factors flew over his head, “We would be happy to take you up on your offer, thank you.” Kakashi smiled through his mask.

Flabbergasted. We are what now?

Our high-tensioned group walked towards the village. James explained how the ginger-bearded man goes by the name of Bartholomew. He used to be the leader of the village until he was corrupted by evil, became power hungry, and went on a rampage.

“It was terrible to witness that, to someone who was once a dear friend,” James said in lament. “The shinobi killed were just passing-by when Bartholomew and his crew ambushed and attacked them.”

“Was Bartholomew and his men shinobi as well?” Sakura asked.

Isiah made a face of disgust, but James smiled it off. “No, they were not but they did have skills that were passed down in the village for generations.”

He then added, “Of course they were only meant to be used for defensive purposes.”

It was nightfall by the time we reached the village. At the entrance, stood a beast of a man. Possibly reaching the height of seven feet, he looked like he had been in a few battles. Scars and tattoos lingered over his tan, muscular body. A white scar traveled from his left ear to chin. His hair was shaved close to the scalp on the sides while the top had some length. He stood defensively with his arms crossed; itching to snap a few necks and crack a few skulls.

“Caesar, these people just witnessed the effects of Bartholomew’s wrath and greed. Isiah mistaken them as his accomplices and as our deepest apologies, I offered them a place to stay and rest for the night,” James said.

Caesar looked pissed but whatever was bothering him, he didn’t say. He simply replied with a grunt. I guess in caveman language that meant ‘okay’.

The team and I walked pass him into the village. I couldn’t help but glance back. Caesar gave a side-eyed glance towards us, wearing a huge smirk on his face. What a fucking creep-a-zoid.

James guided us to the building where we would be staying. A young women greeted us.

“Aimi,” James said. “Please take,” he paused, hesitant. “It would seem that I haven’t caught any of your names.”

Our Jonin replied. “Well, I’m Kakashi and these are my students.” He pointed to us individually. “Here we have Naruto, Sakura, Sasuke, and…”

Before he could properly introduce me, I pinched his arm. For some reason, this whole situation didn’t feel right to me. I did not trust this man, nor this village. James was acting sincere and genuine, but something was off. I preferred that the less this guy knew about me, the better. Kakashi must have understood my apprehension because he doesn’t say anything.

“Hmmm, well,” James cleared his throat. “Anyway, Aimi, show our guests to their room.”

Soon after we settled in, Team Seven, myself, Violet, Isiah and James sat around the campfire and had dinner. Overall, it was a very silent and awkward meal. James and Isiah were on the log left of me, discussing something in hushed tones. Naruto, who was on the log right of me along with Sakura, babbled on about some non-sense to no one in particular. Sakura was concentrated on Sasuke, who sat next to me. He was staring menacingly at the fire.

Violet was sitting next to Kakashi, across from me. I wanted to talk to her, comfort her that she was safe with us. But, how could a mute and a blind communicate with each other? It was a terrible joke with a shitty ending.

Sakura was the first to engage in a proper conversation. “So James,” she began.

He stopped talking to Isiah and gave her the proper attention. “Yes, Sakura?” I readjusted myself, uncomfortable that he called her by her name.

“I was just wondering. Why did you trust us so easily? I mean, we could have easily been the enemies. How did you know we weren’t?” Sakura asked.

As if Naruto was wondering this the entire time, “Yeah! Why?”

James’ expression softened as he smiled nonchalantly. “Well, you see, I didn’tknow if you were the enemy. But I knew I could trust you because of what the young lady here,” his head nodded, gesturing towards me. “What she was wielding.”

Confused looks surrounded the campfire. I couldn’t help but feel intrigued as well.

James explained. “The sword can only be held by non-shinobi. It burns anyone with a chakra level that is higher than a civilian’s. Because of that, I knew she wasn’t a shinobi.”

My cheeks flushed as I felt everyone’s eyes watch me. I forced my eyes down at my feet. So, I was not a shinobi after all. All this talk about how I was one and should be training. It was all a lie. I shouldn’t be here, with a team. Only civilians can wield the sword, and I could wield it. This was as much proof as I can get, right?

I shifted uncomfortably on the log and played with my hands idly, locking each finger to the other. My only grip on reality right now.

But, how could I make a shadow clone then? Was it just a fluke? Just a magic trick that I could show to friends and family as a fun dinner conversation?

I squeezed my hands tighter. Dammit, just who exactly am I?

“And whoever she is allies with, is allies to us,” James concluded. “Excuse us if that sounds insulting to you, but many issues in the past have been caused by shinobi.”

As we ate dinner, James explained the purpose of the village was to be very peaceful and to only present purity to the world. This ranged from morals to ceremonies that allowed proper cleansing to peace offerings to a higher entity.

I looked around the village as he was explaining this to us. His words sounded convincing, like he had passionately worked for this goal and was proud to establish the platform he was currently on. But what he was saying doesn’t show true, to me. Sure, there were child playing at various campfires and gentlemen laughing over joke, but there were also the sketchy people. Many of the women, looked wary, skittish almost, afraid that something might happen.

Rambunctious, Naruto broke my train of thought. “So Violet,” he began. “I was just wondering. Why were you being escorted anyway?”

“Oh, right,” she eagerly readjusted herself on the log. “I was being escorted to the Land of the Earth. You see, I have the ability to read people.”

Without realizing she had everyone’s attention, “I read people. It could be something from the past or future. Anything from a happy childhood memory to something as terrible as a death. Sometimes it is just an aura, a feeling I get by just touching the person.”

“So you were to read someone then?” Sakura concluded.

Violet nodded in agreement. “I was to read the Tsuchikage. Apparently, he is a very superstitious man and feared that his people wanted to overthrow him.”

Violet’s ability stroked an interest in Naruto and Sakura as they both asked if they could be read. Violet was happy to comply.

Violet first grabbed Naruto’s hand. “You feel you have a lot of determination and strength, but people tend to not see your true potential.” She smiled. “You will do something remarkable one day.”

Naruto gave a goofy grin. “See, Sakura, she said I’m going to do something remarkable.”

He pointed to Sasuke, “You hear that Sasuke?! Remarkable! Believe it!!”

Sasuke smirked, unaffected. I couldn’t help but smile. He’s an odd one, but he has a lot of heart.

“Yeah, whatever Naruto,” Sakura snapped. She gave Violet her hand. “What about me?”

“You will one day experience a physical change that will begin a chain reaction. Your views on the world will be different from there out,” Violet said.

Sakura scrunched her nose, not satisfied by her reading.

I bet she was hoping her reading would be based on a certain love interest.

“That’s a nice reading, Sakura,” Naruto assured.

“Shut up, Naruto!” she said has she huffed back to her seat.

Sasuke, unaware he even wanted to be read, silently walked up to Violet and grabbed her hand.

Violet’s mouth twisted. “You will get what you desire most one day.”

Sasuke smirked and returned to his seat. Sakura stared at Sasuke with glee, hoping that deepest desire had something to do with her.

“Kakashi-sensei, why don’t you get a reading?” Naruto asked.

Kakashi smiled and waved him off.“No, no. That’s quite alright. If there is anything important that happens in the future, I want to experience it on my own. And, there’s nothing I particularly want to relive from my past.”

Naruto made a face, but didn’t push it. “What about you, Quorra? Give it a try!”

I shook my head, turning him down as well. As intriguing as it would be to have my mysterious past be possibility read to me, in all honesty, I was afraid that she wouldn’t get any reading. Blank, like my mind. I don’t want to be judged more. They already know I'm not a shinobi, thanks to that fancy-ass sword. I felt vulnerable enough and didn’t want any chances of making it worse. Maybe I'll consult her if we had a moment alone.

We returned to the rooms Aimi showed us. We each got separate rooms along the same hallway. Sakura suggested that we paired up, just in case, but that was soon vetoed when Naruto volunteered to be paired up with her. That girl will never learn.

I went into my room, washed up, and laid in bed, thinking about today’s series of events. About leaving the village for the first time since awakening, the brutal aftermath of a battle, the sword that crushed my spirits, this village, James, Isiah, Caesar, everyone. Finally, I dosed off even when my mind wasn't settled.

I jolted upright. My breaths were heavy and I was covered in sweat.

Not again. Not another nightmare. Shit. These nightmares are really getting the better of me.

From the window, it was still the middle of the night. I'd only gotten a few hours of sleep. Calming myself down was a common ritual now.

I just needed some fresh air.

I got up and walked to the back door which slid open to the deck. The fresh cool breeze felt good on my sweaty skin.

My nightmares were more or less the same, but in different versions. It was mainly me trapped somewhere and someone or something with green pupil-less eyes yelling to run. I always told myself that it was just a dream, but the brevity of it. It felt like I was there, in that dark place, slowly dying. Helpless.

The deck led to freshly cut grass. Various flowered plants and shrubs were along the perimeter. A small pond in the middle.

By the pond, I saw a figure standing with their back towards me. Even though dark, there was enough moonlight to tell who it was. The back of his shirt had a family crest, the Uchiha family crest.

I left the deck and joined Sasuke at the pond. He seemed to be disconnected as he stared off in the distance. Something was on his mind. I stood next to him and stared off as well.

Several moments passed in silence.

“I don't like this place,” Sasuke finally said. “Something doesn't seem right.”

The people here, from first glance, were fine. But, the more I observed, the more I noticed it was not. The women were eyeing everyone, acting like they had to walk on eggshells.

The men were drunk and looked perverted, Caesar being the biggest one. James demeanor had him seemingly gentle-souled and passionate about this village. He declared we were allies, but all he did was make my skin crawl.

I nodded. He felt the same way I did. We were both not buying into this peaceful and pure lifestyle crap.

“I'm going to get to the bottom of this,” he declared.

No, I thought, we're going to. Something wrong with this village and we were going to find out what exactly it was.

Sasuke smirked at me, he seemed to always know what I'm trying to convey. He knew he could count me in.

A twig snapped behind us and we swiveled.

“Well, well, well,” a voice said. “Look what we have here.”

Sasuke pulled out a kunai knife. “Show yourself!”

In the moonlight stood the same lanky boy I fought hours before. It was Isiah.

“Hello, again,” Isiah smiled cynically. “Having a late night stroll, I see?"

Twenty or so men surrounded us, each of them carrying various weapons, from swords to pickaxes. Someone was even wielding a garden hoe.

“I don't presume that if I asked nicely, you would both come with me?” Isiah questioned.

Sasuke snorted. I went for the more physical approach as I flipped him the bird.

Isiah chuckled. “I figured so. It didn't hurt to try.” He looked manic. The boy who I fought before was not the same boy I saw now.

“Get them,” Isiah commanded.

Men approached us as Sasuke and I got back-to-back in our fighting stance. Sasuke threw his kunai at the first guy.

The man who was wielding the garden hoe attacked me first. I, without a weapon, landed a solid punch to his nose. He yelped as he covered his face, dropping his weapon. Quickly, I grabbed the gardening tool, ready to fight.

Many of them were defeated by Sasuke's fire jutsu or with my mighty hoe. I swung that old women’s gardening tool with the painted flowers on it like no one else’s business.

We worked well together and didn't need to communicate anything. I had his back and he had mine. We trained together, but we were no match against this many people.

Prepared to battle the next horde, I heard Sasuke yip. I turned to see a needle in his neck. Purple fluid seeping out of the injection site. Poison dart.

“Shit,” Sasuke winced and crumbled to the ground.

I ran towards him as someone threw a smoke bomb. Heavy, dark mist surrounded us. The enemies still pursued us, kicking him while he's down.

Anger rose within me. Sasuke was defenseless. How dare they hit someone who was already down! I fought my way towards him, giving each guy I encountered a piece of my mind. I was feet away when a metal object connected with the back of my head.

The back of my skull pulsated, but I still crawled forward. A heavy foot stomped my back, pinning me to the ground. My vision blurred and quickly leads to tunnel vision.

Desperate, I reached for Sasuke, tasting bile. Just before I blacked out, there was a terrible scream. Rough and in pain. Sounded unnatural, nonhuman. It was wild, wounded. An animal’s.

It was my scream for Sasuke before I rendered unconscious.

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