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Konoha Children's Crusade

Chapter One: A brand new day.

It was going to be a bright sunny day. The sun had just crept above the mountaintops and was beginning to burn off the morning mist. The light gleamed down through the forest like warm butter. It warmed the wings of a hawk circling through the sky. It lit up the six faces carved into the mountainside above the sleepy village. It shone down on the Hokage's residence, where it found a slightly parted curtain. Quickly, it stabbed inside and landed on the Hokage's face.

Naruto snorted and twitched, but the sun showed no mercy. He tried to brush it away with his hand but to no avail. He smacked his lips and slowly sat up in bed. He scratched his head and yawned. He looked around his bedroom. He looked down at his wife, and smiled.

"She will always be beautiful to me." He thought to himself as he reached over and brushed a lock of raven black hair off her face. His fingers traced her hairline A few silver strands were showing at her temples. He ran a fingertip down one of her cheeks. A few wrinkles showed at the edges of her eyes. She sighed in her sleep. He embraced her from behind and kissed her gently on the nape of her neck. She sighed again still asleep and snuggled close to him.

He kissed her neck again and moved up to nibble her ear. He kissed her cheek and heard her breathing quicken. He kissed her ear and whispered "Good morning Mrs. Uzumaki." She rolled over and opened her expressive grey eyes. She smiled and reached up to brush his cheek.

"Naruto… What are you doing awake so early? Are the children up?" Hinata ran her hands through his hair.

"No my love, It's still pretty early. In fact…" Naruto snickered. "Hee-hee-hee, I do believe that we are the only ones in the Uzumaki household up at the crack of dawn." He ran his hand down her nightgown and rested it on her thigh. "I was wondering if you night be in the mood for some… recreational activities this morning?"

Hinata smiled. "I don't know where you get the energy." She wrapped her arms around his neck and pulled him close for one kiss, then another. "I'm still waking up… Why don't you try your best to convince me?" Naruto grinned and buried his face in her neck. She pressed her hands to his back. "Mmmmmm... Naruto…" Naruto kissed his way down her chest, kissing her through her nightgown. Here and there, he nipped gently with his teeth and she shuddered.  He straddled her hips and sat up looking down at her lovingly.

"I love you Hinata." Naruto said smiling.

"I love you too Naruto." Hinata smiled back. She reached up and pulled him closer. "I'm awake now… And I think you've managed to convince me…"

"DADDY!" A red headed blur flew across the room, crashed into Naruto, and knocked him off the bed and on to the floor. "Daddy, daddy daddy! Play with me!"

Hinata sat up quickly "Naruto?!? Are you okay?"

Naruto got up to his hands and knees. "I'm okay… I just have a baby on my head." Hinata giggled. Their youngest, Sasuko, was trying to ride his father like a horse.

"Play with me, play with me daddy!" He shouted. "Pony ride! Pony ride!" Hinata laughed and clapped her hands as Naruto galloped around the room neighing like a horse.

Naruto stopped his prancing after a moment. "Do you know what is even better than riding a horse Sasuko?" Sasuko shook his head. "A frog!" Naruto began to jump in the air with the child on his back yelling "Ribbit! Ribbit!"

After pretending to be a lion, an elephant, and an ostrich, Naruto and Sasuko collapsed on the bed. Sasuko reached out for Hinata. "Mommy!" He called. She reached over and kissed him on the forehead. Sasuko snuggled into her arms. Naruto sat up next to her and lay his head on her shoulder. The sounds of the other children thumping about began to filter into their room. Naruto sighed. He and Hinata shared one tender kiss.

"I guess we have lost the opportunity huh?"

Hinata made a mischievous smile, then turned and kissed his cheek. She leaned into his ear and whispered "I'm going to take a shower now… If you can convince someone to watch Sasuko, I'm sure there will be plenty of room in the shower for you as well." She got up from the bed and gracefully walked to the bathroom door. She gave Naruto a playful, come-hither look over her shoulder, delicately tossed her hair with one hand, then stepped into the bathroom and shut the door.

Naruto closed his mouth with a click. He ruffled Sasuko's bright red hair. "Hey little guy," He said with a grin. "Let's see if your sisters and brother are awake yet."

Sasuko pouted. "No daddy. I want to stay with you." Naruto tickled him.

"I just need to help mommy with something for a little bit… Don't you want to see if your brother is awake?"

"No daddy I want to stay with you! I miss you!"

"Awww… I miss you too little guy. I tell you what, if you play with your brother or sister for a little bit this morning, I'll take you to the office with me today. Will that be okay?"

Sasuko looked thoughtful. "Maybe…" The bathroom door creaked open. Hinata's arm slipped through the crack and slowly let her nightgown slide to the floor.

Naruto turned back to Sasuko. "I'll take you to the office, get you an ice cream, and buy you any toy you want."

Sasuko clapped his hands in delight. "Yay!"

Naruto picked him up, yelled "I'll be back in a minute dear!" to the bathroom, and ran down the hallway.

He skidded to a stop in front of the first doorway. "Hishyota… I need you to help me for a while." Loud snores filled the air. Juggling Sasuko to hold him in one arm he stepped over the piles of dirty clothes and scattered ninja tools on the floor. He opened the curtains covering the window. The morning sunlight spilled across the bed. Somewhere buried under the pile of blankets was his eldest daughter. "Hishyota…" He said again, nudging her bed with his foot.

The pile of blankets shifted. From somewhere deep inside a voice muttered, "Go 'way." Naruto thumped the bed again.

"Hishyota…Get up! I need you to play with Sasuko. You have to wake up soon anyway. You might as well get up now." There was a ripping noise as a kunai tore through the blankets and solidly slammed in the wall next to Naruto's ear. A pale arm emerged from the pile of blankets groped around for a pillow and pulled it back under the pile.

"Go 'way I said… Still sleeping." the voice muttered again.

Naruto and Sasuko looked and the knife still vibrating in the woodwork. "Let's go see what your other sister and brother are doing this morning shall we?" He quietly stepped out of the room and very gently closed the door.

******         

Kusumina carefully smoothed down the sheet on her bed. She flipped the blankets up once in the air and tucked them neatly under the corners of her mattress. She then arranged her stuffed animals at the head next to her pillow. "I will… Never understand… Why you do… That sis." Her twin brother was doing pushups on his side of the room they shared. Normally there was a divider that could split the room for privacy, but they usually opened it when they woke up.

"It makes it look nice." Kusumina had a soft voice. "It makes Mom and Dad proud to see that I can take care of things myself. I can't understand how you can stand to sleep in such a messy bed."

"Ha!" said her brother Jiraiya. Jumping up from the floor and starting to do free squats, his unruly jet black hair flapping up and down. "It just gets messy again the moment you get back into bed. You shouldn't be so helpful Kusumina. It makes you look like a pushover."

Kusumina stopped and stared at him. "Just because I like to have a clean bed doesn't make me a pushover!"

"No... But doing everything that anyone asks you to does!"

Kusumina stomped her foot. "It does not."

Jiraiya smirked. "Oh Kusumina, will you be a good girl and make dinner? Oh Kusumina, will you please sweep up? Oh Kusumina could you help me with the homework? Oh Kusumina, could please run down to the store? Oh Kusumina, please watch Sasuko for a minute." He bent down, placed both hands on the floor and then kicked his legs up into a handstand.

"I am not a pushover!" She said with finality. Kusumina marched over to her vanity and starting the hundred brush strokes she daily gave her long brown hair. She pointedly avoided looking at her brother in the mirror.

Jiraiya hated being ignored. "Want to make a bet?"

"What is the bet?"

Jiraiya thought for a second. "I bet you can't go the whole day with out doing something someone else asks you to do."

Kusumina narrowed her eyes. "Not fair... If the sensei asks me to do homework, I have to do it. You won't trap me there."

Jiraiya jumped back to his feet. "That's not what I'm getting at... You are always doing other people's jobs for them. I want to see you go the whole day with out someone else taking advantage of your good will."

"But what if they really need help?"

"Helping a little old lady cross the street or rescuing a kitten from a burning building or other heroics is okay... Is it a deal? Will you try it?"

Kusumina folded her arms. "Fine. I bet you a lunch at Ichiraku's that I can go the whole day without being a pushover." They shook hands just as the door to their room opened.

Naruto came in smiling. "Ah, good Kusumina you're awake. I need you to watch your brother for bit while I go help your mother with something."

"Good morning little one." as Kusumina reached out for Sasuko, Jiraiya loudly cleared his throat. She glanced at him quickly and then turned to her father. "Why do you need me to watch him Father?"

Naruto looked puzzled "I told you, I just need to help your mother with something for a little bit. That's all." Through the open door, the sounds of the shower starting up could be clearly heard.

Kusumina looked puzzled. "What do you need to help Mother with in the shower? Is it important?"

Naruto's face turned bright red. "Uhm..."

Jiraiya shook his head. "Helping dad with pervy things is not important enough."

"Pervy?!? What? I..." Naruto looked from one twin to the other.

Kusumina lowered her head. "I am sorry Father. I made a promise that I would only help those in dire need today. I am afraid your need doesn't meet the requirements."

Naruto turned from one twin to the other. "I have no idea what is going on here, but I need someone to watch Sasuko right now. Jiraiya... It's going to be you." Sasuko climbed down out of Naruto's arms and padded over to Kusumina.

Jiraiya folded his arms. "Sure... I'll do it for the right price."

"I'll pay you 300 ryo for watching him for next twenty minutes."

"Make it six hundred and you'll have a deal."

Naruto narrowed his eyes. "In a minute you'll be doing it because your Hokage made it an A-ranked mission."

Jiraiya narrowed his eyes in return. "That's really unfortunate. If that was the case, I would have to inform the Hokage's wife of the mysterious collection of instant ramen hidden in the large decorative urn in the sitting room. Since the Hokage's doctor expressly told him he had to cut back on his ramen intake I simply cannot imagine what such a hoard could be doing in our house."

Just as Naruto opened his mouth to retort, Hinata called out from the shower. "Naruto-kun... I need you." Naruto shut his mouth with a click.

"Fine." he muttered. "600 ryo."

Jiraiya smiled, and pointed at his Kusumina. "And another six hundred for my assistant here."

"WHAT?!?" Naruto bellowed.

"Naruto-kun... Could you please wash my back?"

Naruto looked distracted for a second. "Fine... Okay." He turned to go.

"And we want to go out to dinner at Ichiraku's." Jiraiya said.

"Fine..."

"All we can eat..."

"Fine..."

"...Every night this week." Jiraiya grinned.

Naruto turned. "My son, I am leaving now before bankrupt me. I'm coming Honey!" He called as he ran down the hall.

Jiraiya turned to his siblings. "And that my dear Brother and Sister is how you make a deal."

"Daddy promised me ice cream." said Sasuko.

Jiraiya lifted his eyebrows in surprise. "Shoot... I should have held out for more."

*****

The Uzumaki-Hyuga family breakfast table was experiencing a quiet lull. The mad scramble for the food had settled down. Hishyota was chewing slowly in between yawns. Jiraiya was shoveling in as much food as his mouth could handle before making an attempt at chewing. Kusumina was daintily using her chopsticks to take small bites, and somehow she seemed to be eating faster that Jiraiya was. Sasuko was using his chubby hands to stuff handfuls of rice in his mouth, and occasionally rub it in his hair.

The stars of the breakfast table were Naruto and Hinata. They kept giving each other dreamy smiles, purposefully brushing past each other, and occasionally giving the other a gentle caress. Once as Naruto got up to get an extra serving bowl of rice, he leaned in and gave his wife a quick kiss.

Hishyota sleepily watching this back and forth finally let curiosity get the better of her. She kicked her brother under the table and hissed. "What is up with mom and dad this morning?"

Jiraiya rolled his eyes. "Trust me..." He whispered back." if you want to refrain from being scarred for life, you will not ask that question."

She stared at her parents again as Hinata fed Naruto a piece of fish from her chopsticks, and then leaned into his ear and whispered something that made him blush. "Well then what took mom so long in the shower this morning? I have a mission I have to get ready for."

Jiraiya looked back with an evil twinkle in his eye. "Remember that aforementioned life scarring incident? Well, it involves Mom, Dad, the shower, and something so incredibly pervy that dad promised to take us out for ramen every night this week if we watched Sasuko for twenty minutes...

"Eww."

"All right everyone," said Hinata, Sitting straighter in her chair. "I plan on leaving tomorrow for the monthly clan meeting. This month we are going to the resort town where your grandfather retired to. Since your Uncle Neji will be coming with me, and your Aunt Tenten is away on a mission, both of your cousins will be staying with us while I am away.

"Woo-hoo!" yelled Jiraiya, throwing his arms in the air. "Party time!"

Hinata's eyes narrowed. "It most certainly is not party time. I expect you all to behave while your cousins are here and show them that you can all be good hosts."

"Yes, mother," said Kusumina.

"Is Hishyoni staying with us too? Or does she have a mission?" Hishyota asked in that flat disinterested way people use when they are pretending their question isn't important.

"Nope, she will be right here," said Naruto. "Try to be more polite to Hishyoni this time okay?" Hishyota didn't say anything. She did not get along well with her cousin's cold, assertive, demeanor.

Hinata cleared her throat. "Jiraiya and Kusumina, even though your cousins will be here I expect both of you work extra hard on your school work. Just because we have visitors is not an excuse not to try your hardest."

"But Mom, "groaned Jiraiya. "What kind of host would we be if we just did homework all the time?"

"The kind that gets good grades, do you understand me?" Jiraiya opened his mouth to protest but his twin elbowed him.

"Yes mother, he does." Kusumina said.

"Now meals..."

Naruto interrupted her. "I thought that maybe we could just go out to Ichiraku's for dinner for a few nights until you got back..."

"Now dear, you know Sakura said you should cut back on the amount of ramen you eat, you need to start eating healthier."

"But I've already given up on the instant ramen cups, and she did say Ichiraku's wasn't too bad."

Kusumina chimed in. "Plus Father already promised he would take us there."

Hinata smiled. "Alright, just promise me you won't let your father eat more than one bowl."

"Only one?!?" protested Naruto.   

Hinata ignored him while the children snickered. "Now there is one other thing," Hinata continued. "Sakura will also be heading out with us to visit the fifth Hokage, who is vacationing in the same resort. So while we are gone I also expect you all to be good neighbors and help the Uchiha clan if they need it." She stopped to glare meaningfully at her son. "This also means no pranks on them."

"I have no idea what you are referring to," said Jiraiya. "And besides, no one can prove anything."

"Be that as it may, I don't want to hear about any problems when I get back is that understood?" Sasuko laughed out loud, and everyone turned to look at him. He had upended his rice bowl on his head.

"I'm the rice-kage!" He shouted. Hishyota, Kusumina and Jiraiya all giggled.

Hinata sighed. "Dear, would you be so good as to clean him up?"

Naruto looked up from his breakfast. "What? Oh no buddy, what happened?"

"I want to be the rice-Hokage when I grow up, Daddy."

"Hmm… a worthy goal, but right now let's get you cleaned up."

As Naruto and Sasuko left the table, Hinata leaned forward. She looked at each of her children. "I want each of you to promise that you will help out your father while I am gone. He always tries to be the best father he can, but there are times when he has to be the Hokage. When the village needs its Hokage, it is your job to help him… Do you understand?"

"Why do you always have to say that Mom," grumbled Hishyota, brushing her long dark bangs out of her eyes. "You would think we know that by now."

Kusumina spoke up. "Sister… You know why. Three years ago when Mother was pregnant with Sasuko… Do you remember?"

Hishyota stared down at the table and clenched her fists. "I remember. I remember everything." She stared at her mother. "I remember watching you bleeding on the ground. I remember Dad crying as he frantically tried to help stop the bleeding." She turned her glare to her brother and sister. "I remember you two screaming, and I remember the guards dying one by one."

Kusumina reached out for her sister's hand. "I remember too Hishyota. I remember that you helped to save us. I remember that you were so brave…"

Hishyota looked back down again. "Why do we have to be this way? Why can't things in our life just be normal?"

Hinata stood up from her chair and placed her hands on her daughter's shoulders. "Hishyoni, you were born into one of the noblest families in Konoha. Your father is the Hokage. Our family will be affected by many things that are outside of our control. But we are still a family, and no matter what happens we will be there for each other."

"Yeah sis," grinned Jiraiya. "As bad as all of that was, it all worked out in the end didn't it?"

Hinata sighed. "For our family, yes everything worked out… Politically, not so much. When you are older you will understand."

"When I'm older I will understand…" She said mocking her mother's tone. Hishyoni glared at her mother. "Fine… But, when will you understand, huh? Maybe I don't want to live this way!" Naruto and Sasuko returned to the kitchen.

"All clean!" said Sasuko beaming.

"Well, I think we are all about ready to start our day," said Naruto smiling. "I promised Sasuko that I would take him into work with me this morning. Does anyone want to walk with us? We could have an Uzumaki family parade!"

"Yay! Parade!" cheered Sasuko.

Naruto looked around the table. "Hey, why all the glum faces?" He noticed everyone centered around Hishyota. Four pairs of pale Hyuga eyes were studiously avoiding him. "Hey, is everything okay? Do you want to talk to me about anything?"

Hishyota ran the back of her hand across her eyes. "I'll be alright Dad. I'm meeting my team soon. Moegi-sensei doesn't like it when we're late." Hishyota gathered up her pack and started to leave. Naruto put his hand on her shoulder and stopped her. "What is it Dad? I have to get going," she said testily.

Naruto smiled in a sad way. "I just wanted to tell you to do your best. I wanted to say that I am proud of you."

"Whatever." Hishyota shouldered her pack and headed out the door.

Hinata put her arm around Naruto as he sighed and let his head drop to his chest. "Why do I always feel like I'm always doing the wrong thing when it comes to her?"

"It's just a phase she is going through. She is growing up and trying to figure things out on her own. She still loves you. She just needs to separate herself from your influence. Everyone rebels from their parents."

"You never were like this growing up."

Hinata smiled and kissed him. "No. I just went against the wishes of my father and my clan. I disregarded the opinions of every adult in the village and fell in love with a clumsy orphan boy that everyone thought was a monster." She laid her finger on the tip of his nose. "And every morning I wake up happy that I did."

Naruto smiled his old smile again. "Thanks." He said, kissing Hinata's forehead. "Alright everyone… let's get ready to go!" He turned back to her. "Do you want to walk with us?"

Hinata smiled. "I'll catch up to you in a bit. I want to clean up quickly first."

Naruto smiled back. "All right I'll see you later. I love you."

"And I love you." She watched as Naruto gathered up Sasuko and helped him put on his sandals. He called Kusumina and Jiraiya over to him. As they all walked down the front path, Naruto turned once and waved to her. Then they turned on to the main road, and she could not see them any more.
Chapter One of the Fan novel: Konoha Children's crusade

Naruto Characters belong to Masashi Kishimoto

NOTE: This chapter is pretty tame, however, if this whole novel were to be rated by the MPAA, it might cross the PG-13 boundary in parts. It's much more tame than what you'd find on late night cable TV though.

Cast List

Book 1 Links:

Prologue
Chapter_1
Chapter_2_part1
Chapter_2_part2
Chapter_3
Chapter_4_part1 PG-13 warning
Chapter_4_part2 PG-13 warning
Chapter_5_part1 PG-13 warning
Chapter_5_part2 PG-13 warning
Chapter_6_part1
Chapter_6_part2
Chapter_7_part1
Chapter_7_part2

Book 2 starts here
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:iconspadiekitchenqueen:
spadiekitchenqueen Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Short comment (at work) is it me or does Jiraiya seems to have somehow inherited Kakashi's schrewdness here? ;)
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:iconcas42:
cas42 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013
That's an interesting way to look at it...

I was trying to determine what would a younger version of Naruto, still loving pranks but less clumsy (due to his Hyuga parentage) raised by really important parents who due to their own upbringing would really be doting on their children, would end up like...

He's basically turned into Tom Sawyer, only more cutthroat, and he gets into trouble less because he depends on his parent's positions to keep him out of it.

Reading at work??? Shame on you!!! :)

-Cas
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:iconspadiekitchenqueen:
spadiekitchenqueen Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Well, maybe it's me but this sounded realkly "kakasi esque" to em; But then again, i guess everyone comes to a text with it's own feelings at the times and those influence what you feel in reading.

Tom Sawyer is good, bt I know what Tow went through.. Ji is in for a rough ride! :D
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:iconcas42:
cas42 Featured By Owner Aug 20, 2013
No, It's not just you... You're right... there is something Kakashi-eque about him right there. How he maintains his cool and controls the situation... But... well... You'll see as time goes on.

-Cas
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:iconsylversmyth:
Sylversmyth Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013
Just read through the Prologue and the First chapter, and I'm definitely hooked!

Preliminary thoughts: 1) your character interactions are definitely a strong point to your writing.  You successfully convey SO MUCH through dialogue while still maintaining the various characters' personalities and building lighthearted moments. From my own attempts to write multi-character fics and reading other fics on FF and DA, I can confidently say that this is NOT a common talent and it's wonderfully refreshing to read your work (one of the only other works that I've read that can compare is JFalcon's piece "New Blood" on FF).  2) not sure if Hishyoni is a nickname, but it seemed like you jumped between Hishyoni and Hishyota a lot and I started to get confused.  Just a reflection on my part more than anything else, but it distracted me a bit from the actual flow 3) I did feel a little sad that you didn't include some descriptions of the kids themselves.  I felt SO close to the family from reading their interactions, but struggled to really visualize them in my mind, especially when you started off with a beautiful description of Hinata from Naruto's perspective.  I'm hoping that there is some more in the later chapters!  Also, I may be reading a bit into things, but is there some foreshadowing going on here???  I guess there's nothing more to do than to continue on to the next chapter!
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:iconcas42:
cas42 Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2013
Hoo-boy...

I want to thank you for your above comment... I was going through Ch 1 to make your suggested changes and I suddenly realized why you were so confused by the whole Hisyota/Hishyoni thing...

Holy smokes, I totally screwed the pooch editing there. I confused it everywhere. Anyway, I fixed it... thank you.

-Cas
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:iconsylversmyth:
Sylversmyth Featured By Owner Aug 2, 2013
Haha no worries, I don't even want to begin to guess how many chapters you've written in this story.  You were bound to make some mistakes along the way.
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:iconcas42:
cas42 Featured By Owner Jul 31, 2013
Hold on... I have to wait for my ego to deflate before I can reply...

Okay...

Thank you so much :D I am brimming with pride that you liked it that much this early on... Personally I think it's kind of wish-washy until chapter 4 ish.

There is a character named Hishyoni (NejiTen's oldest daughter, and there is a reason why both Hishyota and Hishyoni have such similar names. (Albeit it's probably not as cool as it first seemed when I dreamed it up... but :shrug:

I probably could have described the kids in detail... but I drew pictures instead: Uzumaki-Hyuga_family:

I'm not sure if it was a good idea or not, but I wanted to try leaving a visual clue about one of the Uzumaki-Hyuga kids instead of writing it into the text proper.

I'm not sure which part you think you're reading into, but I can most likely answer yes, it is foreshadowing... There is so much foreshadowing going on in this story that I'm surprised the characters are not walking around in perpetual darkness (Sorry, I'm still kind of giddy that you wrote such a great review :happybounce: )

-Cas
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:iconsylversmyth:
Sylversmyth Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2013
Wishy washy doesn't always equal bad, especially since you honestly need the lighthearted moments to build the contrast into the action and the plot (kind of parallel to the whole "you can't appreciate the good without the bad" kind of concept).  I mean, Hishyota's negative view and attitude probably wouldn't have seemed all that noticeable except that you included it in a scene that had, up until that point, been filled with fluffy NaruHina + family moments.

I do like the cast list and the family portraits (it's SO much more effective than people trying to describe every single detail of their OC's and completely stalling the plot and dialogue) but I think that by avoiding all descriptions whatsoever you make it a little more difficult to distinguish the various characters.  I'm going to use an example from the first chapter (again) just to help explain.  When referencing Hishyota, you could refer to her using a few physical characteristics (refer to her as Naruto's eldest, mention her age, or say that she brushed her dark hair out of her eyes, etc) and it doesn't completely disrupt the flow of the scenes or the dialogue, but it helps the reader build visualizations of the characters as we're reading through.  This is, also, probably linked to the fact that I am a VERY visual person and often have difficulties linking situations to words alone =/

I'm really glad that you enjoyed the review!  I'm going to try to take my time reading through (instead of just sprinting through like I want to...) so that I can keep giving you the feedback that the story deserves!
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:iconcas42:
cas42 Featured By Owner Aug 1, 2013
I'm going to use an example from the first chapter (again) just to help explain.  When referencing Hishyota, you could refer to her using a few physical characteristics (refer to her as Naruto's eldest, mention her age, or say that she brushed her dark hair out of her eyes, etc)

Hmmm... You make a very good point... I started this almost two years ago and I know there are spots early on that I could improve, But I've been terrified to go find them in the event it meant whole chapters rewritten.

All right, you convinced me! I'll go back and do a little editing, when I have free time. (God only know when that will be... ugh!)

-Cas
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