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Daraku was ready, at least as ready as he ever would be. He'd been waiting over six years for this moment, when he could finally stand on his own two feet, take up his sword, and go kill the woman that he'd resented for so long. It wasn't his only goal in life as it had been back then, as now he just wanted to be the bridge that reunited his clansmen, his kin...but this journey, this tale of vengeance and strafe and hatred and pain, was the first step in doing so. He needed to end Fuiyoka's life to fulfill both his own and his clan's needs; she was the last obstacle that held the Ishido of the Truth Path stuck in Konoha, following her rulings, submitting to her judgement. She had left Sunagakure a queen ruling with grace over her people, and although that still made the Fortune Path Ishido hate her, at least her underlings still followed her with passionate determination. Now, she wasn't even allowed that freedom...she was left in yet another revolt, and innocent lives were being lost, all because of her. She couldn't rule any longer, she was old, traditional, and feeble...she wasn't the figure of power she wanted to make herself out to be. And finally, her servants were recognizing that after Daraku's last ploy, and it glimmered hope on the idea that the Ishido could be whole once again.

The man packed his things, strapped on his swords and newly-crafted armor, and briskly walked to the Tsuchi no Kuni border, and looked out at the rocky landscape. He'd come and gone from this very spot many times since he left Sunagakure and jumpstarted everything. This time, though, there was a clear itinerary. It wasn't about becoming stronger or making money or discovering the world or any of the other crap building up to this moment. The moment was here, the climax was near, the first battle was going to begin. He took the first step down from the stone cliffside and slid down to ground level, looked back at Iwagakure no Sato for a moment with reflection, and made his way out into the wilderness. The wind whistled through his hair as he proceeded, and the moonlight shone in his eyes and brought warmth to his heart. He finally felt like he had a purpose that wasn't intrinsic, self-centered, and evil. It wasn't a natural fit for him, but it was a good feeling, nonetheless. He was benefiting himself in the process, but this had a bigger picture. It was about the hundreds that were of his own blood, a very part of him. An entire clan, the Ishido. He would broaden their horizons beyond the borders of Sunagakure and Konohagakure; he would give them the freedom they deserved.

By the time Daraku arrived at the iconic gate that signaled his destination, the sun had risen and it was early morning. His informant had last told him that Fuiyoka was seen at the Small South Forest west of here, and that the Truth Compound was in flames. Chances were, she was hiding there while her people revolted, as she had been blamed for the deaths that Daraku caused. Although he was the trigger, it seemed everyone was finally seeing through her transparent lies. Daraku's Aoi Bara cloak shrouded his figure, and the organization's Wolf Mask kept his identity hidden, for the time being. He wasted no time, and began running straight for the forest in question. Her blood would paint the forest floor, and represent the next chapter in Daraku's life.

(620, Travel Complete)


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Naruto and Naruto Shippuuden belong to Masashi Kishimoto.