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The time for Takao's departure from Iwagakure and the Earth Country in its entirety had finally come. The past few months of his life had been spent in the village hidden in the rocks... stones... or perhaps just the dirt itself. His original intention had been to seek out a medical shinobi capable of healing his leg which, looking back on it, had been an unnecessary journey. The damage done hadn't been severe enough to warrant a professional of abnormal skill. It would be a task to heal, surely that much was true, but it wasn't even a fraction as bad as it felt.

Takao had gathered the belongings he'd brought with him and sealed them away in the bandages wrapped around his forearms; it was a much easier method of transporting some of the essential items one might find themselves needing during their travels. In his case however, it was mostly just clothing and some spare weaponry that he couldn't imagine himself needing. Very seldom did he employ any sort of weapon based martial arts in his fighting styles, save for the mechanical tonfa strapped to his right arm. He was rather set on the mindset of wanting to have something available to him and not needing them, rather than the inverse situation of not having what he needed when he needed them.

After passing by the gate guards whom had once given him a hard time but had since learned that it might not be such a good idea to do such, Takao was on his way eastward. He had considered vehicular transportation for a brief moment before opting for the longer and considerably more painful option of walking. Takao wasn't in the market for easy outs, and thought that forcing himself to endure the torturous walk from Iwagakure to Konohagakure would be of some benefit. The concept of "over training" was foreign to him despite it being a very real risk to run, and it would undoubtedly come back to bite him in the ass at some point. But, for now, it was the long way back home.

Takao hadn't made it more than fifteen minutes along the road when his attention was brought to the mountains off in the north. As lightning struck and thunder roared in the background, a massive column of golden flames arose from the summit, as if it were a beacon calling to him. Takao had recognized the odd colour of the flames as an attribute unique to his father, who employed a unique golden yellow tinge to his flames as a personal touch. Takao always found it to be interesting and foolish, to leave something so recognizable in a world of deception was no different from signing one's death wish. Yet still, his father insisted on it. Takao was momentarily side tracked from his journey home and decided to scale the mountain itself, full aware of who he might find waiting for him at the peak. When he did finally reach the top, Takao was met with an apparition of his father. Nothing more than a shadow, much like the one he found plaguing his thoughts and following him around on a daily basis. They engaged in a fight, which in reality had simply been Takao alone on the peak, throwing something of a tantrum. A very explosive, fiery tantrum.

The culmination of his outburst left him with a revelation. The man whom he thought to be following him, the man whom he thought was still alive and haunting his dreams... That man was dead, and had been dead for quite some time. As harrowing and upsetting of an epiphany as it was, Takao was happy to finally close that particular chapter of his life. Before long, he was back on the road to Konohagakure, and homeward bound.

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Naruto and Naruto Shippuuden belong to Masashi Kishimoto.