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Chapter Three: The Hidden Leaf Village

The sunlight glinted through the thick treetops as the wind lightly tossed leaves into the air. A bird touched down on a branch and tweeted quietly. The silence was broken by a sudden rush through the trees. A figure darted through the foliage, sprinting branch over branch like a mystical creature. Several black creatures sped behind it, almost in perfect rhythm. She figure touched down on the ground, revealing that this person was a girl, of no more than 15. She tossed her pink hair back as she breathed heavily, and then dashed into the woods once more.

The black creatures touched down, their yellow eyes darting this way and that, searching for their prey. They were Heartless all right. They had ninja masks on and wielded long, sharp blades. They shifted around, searching for the girl until two new figures appeared. One was Rasputin, the evil sorcerer, and the other was a pale-skinned man who had snake-like eyes and a shifty, slithery voice. The dark portal Rasputin had just traveled through closed behind him.

Rasputin scoffed at the Heartless, who were busy probing the area for the girl. “They will never find the girl that way, Orochimaru. You must use the full potential of the Heartless, otherwise you can never wield infinite darkness.”

Orochimaru turned and smiled venomously at Rasputin. “Rest assured Rasputin, I intend to use the Heartless for a task of great importance. Once I crush the Leaf Village the Keyhole will reveal itself, and this world will fall!”

Rasputin smirked grimly. “Do not flood your heart with darkness, Orochimaru. The Heartless eagerly turn on those whose hearts are the most tempting to devour…”

Orochimaru laughed, “Your worry is amusing, Rasputin. You of all people should know that I cannot die so easily…” Orochimaru turned to face the Heartless. “Find that girl, and bring her to me at once.” The Heartless flashed their swords in agreement, and then zipped off into the branches. Orochimaru turned, then zipped off in his own direction. Rasputin smirked again, then vanished in a portal of green flame.

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Sora, Donald and Goofy emerged from the foliage. They glanced around at the huge trees in the area, trying to look up and see the top.

Sora was amazed. “Wow, I wonder what kind of world this is…” His thoughts were interrupted by a black shuriken that whistled through the air and stabbed into the tree behind him with a heavy thunk. Sora whipped out his Keyblade and saw that they were surrounded by a squad of Heartless. “Look out guys, here they come!”

Donald readied his magic staff. “Okay, let’s see how they like a taste of my fire!” Donald launched fire spells, but the Heartless were fast, and seemed to teleport from place to place, avoiding all of the flames. “Waagh! This isn’t working!”

Goofy tried to attack with his shield, but the Heartless executed flips and acrobatic maneuvers along with strong parries from their swords. “Gawrsh, these Heartless are strong, Sora! Watch out!”

Sora’s arms and legs began to grow heavy from trying to keep up with these Heartless. It was like with the Heartless on his Island; They HAD become stronger. His fatigue soon became dangerous, as he swung wide with his Keyblade, and left himself open to an attack. Sure enough, a Heartless dove in with its blade and prepared to strike. Donald and Goofy spotted the attack as it was occurring. “Sora, no!”

As Sora prepared for the blow a figure dove from the branches on the tree and tossed out several shuriken. They struck the Heartless expertly and caused them to fade into darkness. Sora, Donald and Goofy all dropped to the ground exhausted.

The figure, who turned out to be a boy, rose from his crouched landing. He had spiked yellow hair, and wore an orange jumpsuit, with a headband emblazoned with a leaf symbol on his head. He grinned, “Boy, it’s a good thing I came in time! Those creatures might have done you in!” He walked over and offered Sora a hand up. "You okay?”

Sora took the hand, then stood up and shook the boy’s hand. “Yeah, I’m all right. Anyways, thanks for saving us back there. That was some awesome aim! Those Heartless didn’t know what him ‘em!”

The boy cocked his head. “Heartless? Is that what those are? They’re causing some real trouble! They keep raiding the village looking for something, but I have no idea what!”

Sora nodded. “They’re looking for the Keyhole to this world.”

“Keyhole? How is it you know more about my world than I do?”

Sora shrugged and grinned, “I’m kind of good at this stuff. Anyways, I’m Sora, and over there’s Donald and Goofy.” Donald and Goofy walked over and said hello.

The boy nodded and replied, “My name is Naruto Uzumaki, the best ninja in the Hidden Leaf Village, believe it!” He pointed to his headband.

Sora took a close look at the symbol. “What’s this thing mean?”

Naruto scoffed, “Only super-cool ninja get to wear these! I became a ninja, and someday I’m gonna be Hokage!”

Donald seemed puzzled. “Hokage? What’s that?”

Naruto smiled again, as if reciting from memory. “The Hokage is the strongest ninja in the whole village! That’s gonna be me someday! Believe it!”

Sora looked at the remains of the shuriken on the ground. “Well, with skills like that, you’re probably a prime candidate!”

Naruto looked down at the ground. “Um, actually… there’s other ninja that are just as good as I am, maybe better.” His expression brightened. “Come on! I want you to meet my Sensei!” Naruto turned and motioned for the others to follow. He took a running start and began to run straight up the tree behind him.

Sora stopped in his tracks. He looked up at Naruto in wonder. How was he doing that? Was it the tree? He watched Naruto closely. He was running up the trunk as easily as running on the ground. Donald shrugged and tried running up the trunk like Naruto. He fell back onto the ground with a thunk. Goofy and Sora burst out laughing.

Naruto came running back down the tree. He remained on the trunk, facing them at a horizontal position. He looked dismayed. “What’s the matter? Don’t you guys know how to use chakra?” Sora looked at Donald and Goofy, then shook his head no. Naruto sighed. “Okay, I guess I’ll teach it to you myself.”

He hoped off the tree and landed onto the ground. “Okay, chakra is like your body’s energy, and when you know how to manipulate it, you can perform jutsu like the tree-climbing thing I was doing.” He stood with his feet and hands together and exhaled deeply. His hands were arranged in a strange sign, and Sora could have sworn he saw a faint aura around Naruto.

Naruto’s eyes flicked open. “And once you’ve done that, you focus your gathered chakra to your feet!” The faint aura around Naruto shifted to his feet, Sora’s eyes following every move. “And once you’ve done that, you keep a steady flow of it to your feet and you can climb the tree!” Naruto demonstrated by walking vertically up the trunk once more. “Now you try Sora! It’s okay if you don’t get it on the first-.”

He cut off when he saw Sora already taking shaky steps up the tree. He wobbled, “Uh, ah, um, I th-think I’ve got this…” Donald and Goofy followed suit, and soon were all wobbling next to Naruto.

Naruto was flabbergasted. “How did you do that? It took me a ton of tries to learn that!”

Sora shrugged, “I guess I’m just a natural!” He pondered if being from another world gave him the uncanny ability to perform this technique easier. When visiting Port Royal, he was immune to the curse along with Donald and Goofy. Maybe the point that he was from a different world gave them certain abilities?

He shook it off and followed Naruto up the trunk. Once on the top, Naruto explained on how to branch-hop. You simply hopped from the branch by using your muscles along with a small burst of chakra, then gathered chakra back to your feet so you can land firmly on a branch, then repeat for the next ones. Of course, Sora got the hang of it pretty quickly, as did Donald and Goofy. Soon they were all four leaping and zooming through tree foliage like a group of changelings on the move. Sora enjoyed the feel of the wind on his face, the feel of skipping over branches like he weighed nothing at all.

His thoughts were interrupted when he heard Naruto yell. The four of them stopped on a branch, but Donald stopped too late and windmilled his arms as he tilted forward. Fortunately Goofy caught him. Sora looked up to see what caused Naruto to shout. On the branch a few trees away was a large armored Heartless carrying an unconscious girl. The Heartless itself resembled a Shogun, with a samurai helmet and a massive blade that was connected to its wrist. It had shoulder armor and black upper torso armor, but had no body connecting the upper part of the body to the lower part. The upper body hovered over the bottom, as if held there by magnetism. The lower torso had leg armor, with the legs ending in wispy feet.

The girl herself was pretty, with pink hair and a red dress along with black tights underneath. She also wore a headband exactly like Naruto’s. Upon seeing her draped over the Heartless’ shoulder, Naruto seemed furious. “Sakura! Sora, that Heartless has Sakura! She’s one of my friends in my squad! We have to save her!” Sora nodded and lunged at the beast with the others.

The Heartless was fast, however, and launched backwards from their blows and zoomed off using the tree branches. Sora, Naruto, Donald, and Goofy gave chase, following the Heartless despite its incredible speed.

The Heartless then performed a maneuver no one expected. It came to a sudden stop, holding its forearm straight to the side. Naruto cried out before his neck slammed into the powerful limb and sent him reeling towards the forest floor below. Sora and the others saw this event too late, and they too fell victim to the surprising tactic. Before Sora hit the ground he saw the Heartless sprint off through the trees towards the woods that were farthest away from the village. Then everything went black.

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Orochimaru stood inside a dark chamber facing a black orb in the center. His yellow eyes strained with intense focus on the orb. Slowly, black, wispy smoke began to emanate from the orb. Orochimaru’s breathing became heavy and ragged, and exclamations of pain began to emanate from his throat. The eerie smoke sifted towards him, and he opened his mouth with a cry of pain. The smoke shot down his throat like a snake, his breath ceasing all the while. Then, as abruptly as it had started, it was over. He fell to one knee, clasping his throat, gasping for oxygen.

A dark portal appeared, and from it stepped Rasputin. He shook his head begrudgingly at Orochimaru. “Be careful when using the darkness to fuel your immortality jutsu, Orochimaru. The Heartless show no mercy when consuming a person’s heart; They show no favoritism when doing so, and I know they would gladly devour yours should you let down your guard.”

Orochimaru regained his breath, and spat at Rasputin, “Stay-out-of-this! I know what I’m doing! I do NOT fear the Heartless! My heart is too strong, and it is protected by the strongest of forbidden jutsu!” He slowly rose, and regained his composure, glancing back at the black orb. “Regardless, once we capture the seven princesses of Light, we can realize true darkness, and no amount of darkness will ever be able to claim my heart.”

Rasputin chuckled. “You show such confidence. Yet you do not know what lies in the deepest darkness, where the greatest of evils lurks.” Before he could continue, Orochimaru’s Heartless captain, a shogun/samurai being, returned. He had the girl from the Hidden Leaf village known as Sakura Haruno slung over his shoulder. It laid her down gently, and Orochimaru beamed approval.

“Excellent. Now that we have one of the princesses, this world shall fall. Soon the Leaf village shall feel the wrath of the Heartless, and I will finally be able to watch that pitiful spit of land crumble beneath my fingers!”

Rasputin interrupted Orochimaru’s dreams of conquest. “There is still one problem; The Keybearer has found his way to this world, and he has encountered the boy with the demon.”

Orochimaru laughed, “Let them meet! It will do them no good to try and work together. The boy knows not of how to control the limitless capabilities of the Nine-Tailed Fox’s chakra. The only thing it will bring him is pain. And when his heart is consumed by his own grief, the demon trapped inside will become the most powerful Heartless of all.”

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