Naruto Hiden / Naruto Hiden Vol 2 Chapter 13

He couldn’t refute what Gengo had said…

Shikamaru was bewildered by the shaken state of his own heart.

He had come all the way here to kill Gengo.

He’d firmly believed that he was a hindrance to the road to peace for shinobi.

It was because he believed that that Shikamaru started out on this path without telling a single one of his comrades the truth.

But now that Gengo was standing in front of his eyes, now that he was listening to what he was saying, Shikamaru wasn’t sure if his way of thinking was really the right one.

“Have you ever thought about why wars keep endlessly repeating in this world?” Gengo asked.

The truth was that Shikamaru had never once thought about it. 

From the moment this continent had come into existence, there had been a great number of countries who went kept repeating the same skirmishes with each other, again and again, going through their own ups and downs as they did. 

And in the space between the relationships of those countries, shinobi existed and offered their skill sets for a price, thus gaining provision. That was just the way things had always been, so the word ‘war’ didn’t even seem to apply.

Shikamaru had always been concerned with the affairs of the world of shinobi alone. Unlike Gengo, he had never considered the rest of the world.

Shikamaru’s thoughts had always been about how to secure the future of shinobi. How to preserve the reconciled bonds between villages. How effective the union would be for that. How to make Naruto hokage. How to build a strong foundation for his generation.

Shikamaru’s concerns seemed impossibly small in the face of what Gengo was considering. His focus wasn’t the world of shinobi, but the whole earth.

“Don’t you think the reason all the fighting hasn’t stopped is because the daimyou are governing everything, instead of shinobi? Because these people who hold neither chakra nor jutsu keep meeting together, every time they pass by each other, these wars never end. Because they have no extraordinary people among them, there is no country which is stronger than all the others, and thus no one to keep them in check. So the countries keep fighting and reconciling, again and again, and this world of war continues. I am telling you about a method that will put an end to all that. With the power of shinobi, I and my Enlightened Ones will achieve what no one else has before: the unification of the continent.”

“Unification of the continent…” Shikamaru murmured.

Gengo gave a satisfied nod at him echoing the words.

“From the start, this world has always been about ‘survival of the fittest’. This way of life doesn’t only extend to beasts. Even the beasts called humans haven’t been able to rid themselves of it. In that case, isn’t it only fitting that the holders of true strength, shinobi, reign as the strongest, at the top of this hierarchy? The revolution I’m speaking of carrying out is exactly that: to turn this atypical world into the best that it can be.”

Thinking that shinobi are the ones who should be controlling the world…

…might not be wrong.

“Lord Shikamaru.”

Rou’s voice came from behind him. Shikamaru turned his head and looked over his shoulder at the man.

“Is it not exactly as Lord Gengo has said?” Rou asked. “Why must shinobi always be used by the daimyou? I am a member of Anbu. I have seen the foul side of the daimyous many, many times. They think of us shinobi as nothing more than convenient tools. My best friend was a man used as a tool in the wars between the Land of Fire and the Land of Wind. The moment both countries declared a ceasefire, he was gotten rid of.” A single tear overflowed from Rou’s wet eyes. “A hindrance.”

“…I think so too, y’know.”

This time, the subdued whisper came from Soku’s mouth. As Shikamaru turned to look at her, he could see dark purple bruises colouring her young face. Even though she was a child, Gengo had mercilessly given his subordinates the order to torture her along with Rou.

“I think that what Gengo’s saying is right, too, y’know.”

“Hinoko…”

“It’s not just the daimyou, it’s those people living in the countries they govern, y’know.” Soku didn’t even care that Shikamaru had called her by her real name, continuing to speak with a heated anger. “No matter how nice you are to normal people, the minute that they hear that you’re a shinobi, they start watching you from the corner of their eyes. The look in those eyes…horrified…suspicious…marking us as ‘different’. Why do we have to spill our blood, sweat and tears for bastards like that? I- I don’t understand why, y’know!”

Even though Gengo was the one to order all those bruises onto her skin, Soku was looking up at the man with admiration, as if she’d forgotten that fact completely.

“You see? Even your comrades are agreeing with me. What I want to do is the most meaningful action for all shinobi. Shikamaru, come with me. Together, couldn’t we stop this age of war?”

Gengo held out his hand.

If Shikamaru took hold of that hand, he wouldn’t be able to go back home.

No, wasn’t it strange to think of going back?

If Gengo really united all the countries, that included the world of shinobi. If that happened, then surely Naruto, Chouji, Ino, everyone, he would be able to meet them all again. 

No, in fact he could extend an invitation to them himself, and they could all come together to build the world of shinobi.

“Shikamaru. Become my right hand man.”

Gengo’s words pressed against Shikamaru’s spine.

“I…”

Shikamaru wanted to take that hand.

But…

There was also a part of Shikamaru that was desperately trying to stop himself from doing so.

“Come now,” Gengo prodded.

“W- wh…”

Something was firmly clogging up Shikamaru’s throat. Shikamaru struggled to push his voice past the foreign, thorny lump, and finally spat out the words:

“Why do I have to become the subordinate of someone like you?”

“Oh? To think you’ve listened to my words up to this point, and still refuse to understand. You seem to be a very stubborn one as well.”

Something wasn’t right.

Somewhere deep in Shikamaru’s heart, there was still something inside him that didn’t believe Gengo. That part of him said that it wasn’t a good idea to submit to this man. There were no well-reasoned words or explanations. Just some part of him that couldn’t stomach this. A bad feeling.

Every other part of him was utterly convinced that Gengo had the right idea.

“Very well then, we’ll do this…” Gengo nodded at the guards beside Shikamaru, and then turned to walk back to where the stairs began.

The Enlightened Ones that had been guarding Shikamaru up until now undid the manacles that had been holding his hands behind his back. The sudden disappearance of the constraints that had been forcing him into a crouch made his body go limp with relief. Shikamaru barely stopped himself from crashing to the floor, somehow holding himself up with his right arm. He looked up at Gengo.

Gengo was standing at the bottom of the stairs, just several metres away. He had thrown out both of his arms, holding out his chest.

“If you truly can’t trust me, then just kill me here.”

“K-kill you?” Shikamaru’s voice was shaking.

“There’s no reason why you shouldn’t be able to strangle me to death with that shadow manipulating jutsu of yours. Go on. Let’s see you kill me.”

Why was he so confident as he told Shikamaru to kill him?

The uneasy feeling in Shikamaru’s gut was slowly growing.

There was something he was missing, somewhere, he wasn’t thinking properly, there was something he overlooked…

Shikamaru placed a shaky hand onto the floor.

Sunshine was shining through a large window at the side of the hall. The brightly glowing light fell easily on Shikamaru’s arm and torso, clearly making a shadow. The pitch black shadow began to quiver slightly. The trembling was slowly increasing, his shadow rippling, and then shaking violently as it tried to shake off its original form.

“Go…” Shikamaru ordered his shadow in a weak voice. The rippling shadow changed into a long, dark tendril that headed in a straight line for Gengo.

“Now, don’t stop, Shikamaru!”

Gengo’s called out, his eyes burning brightly. He sounded like he was enjoying this.

His voice brimming with confidence pressed down on Shikamaru from all sides.

His shadow…

Stopped.

It stopped right at the edge of Gengo’s toes. No matter how much Shikamaru willed it, it wouldn’t go any further.

“What’s wrong?” Gengo asked. “Why aren’t you using your shadow?”

Why wasn’t his shadow moving?

Something was strange, something was off, something was wrong…

Think, think, think, think…

Think, Shikamaru!

What aren’t you noticing?

His head felt like it was going to burst into flames.

Rou and Soku…

The feeling in his gut was because of them.

Rou and Soku. They were both dedicated members of Anbu that specialised in remaining loyal even under duress… so why were they both accepting Gengo’s words so quickly and so easily?

After undergoing such severe torture under his orders, why weren’t there any feelings of hostility?

For their feelings to change to adoration so quickly and easily– it wasn’t possible.

There had to be a trick. A trick.

One word clearly rose to the forefront of Shikamaru’s mind.

Genjutsu…

It was a ninjutsu that manipulated your thoughts and plunged you into delusions. Rou and Soku looked like they were under a genjutsu.

In that case, then was Shikamaru under the genjutsu too?

That was probably the case.

But, genjutsu was a doujutsu, a technique rooted in the eyes. A prime example of that was Konoha’s Uchiha clan, and their special sharingan eyes, a bloodline limit that let them plunge their opponents into a genjutsu.

The incident at the plaza. At that time, something had weakened Rou’s jutsu and exposed their presence to Gengo. That something couldn’t have possibly been doujutsu, because until Gengo spoke out and called them ‘mice’, neither of the men had looked Gengo in the eye. Eye contact with your opponent was an absolute requirement for doujutsu. There had been no way he could make eye contact with them at that time.

Then, what was casting the genjutsu on Shikamaru and the others?

He couldn’t think. His thoughts were sluggish.

When you were caught in a genjutsu, you always needed someone else to help you escape it. But both his comrades were already well under Gengo’s grasp.

Shikamaru felt like he was walking through a thick and murky swamp, slowly sinking in deeper and deeper. In the end, he knew his head was going to go down under as well. 

Soon, he was going to fall completely under Gengo’s control.

“I really can’t stand this…” Shikamaru’s thoughts helplessly fell out of his mouth.

Gengo was looking at him with victorious eyes. Even now, Shikamaru’s shadow quivered mere inches away from the man’s feet.

“Wouldn’t you like to just give in now?”

His voice was gentle and soothing. Shikamaru could feel his whole body melting against the warmth of it. The remaining slivers of his conscious were slipping away…

The true nature of Gengo’s genjutsu…

A vague answer had been materialising in the depths of Shikamaru’s mind, but before it could manifest clearly, he erased it of his own free will.

He didn’t care anymore.

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