85 CH - 83 Yuki Clan

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In just a few days, Akihiko and his team swiftly returned to the Land of Grass. Upon arrival, Akihiko immediately had Kana arrange for the delivery of the unique ninja vests to the Sand Village as quickly as possible. Time was of the essence, given the news of the Mist Village preparing to attack the Sand Village. The Sand Village needed to be fully prepared for any potential battle.

With the down payment received, the Grass Village was determined to provide top-quality service to the Sand Village. The cooperation between the two parties proceeded smoothly, and the Sand Village kept their end of the bargain by sending the promised Gold Sand in return. Despite their financial hardships, the Sand Village knew they couldn't afford to default on their obligations during this crucial moment.

The smooth cooperation with the Sand Village, as well as the earlier one with the Rock Village, stirred emotions among many Grass Shinobi. Under their leader's guidance, Grass Village was steadily rising towards prominence in the ninja world, envisioning a day when they could regain the glory of doing business with the Five Great Shinobi Villages during the Great War.

Of course, some might see this as a bit exaggerated. Nevertheless, the recent successful collaborations with the Sand Village and the Rock Village indicated that the Grass Village had achieved significant progress during the past six years of reforms. They were on the right path to prosperity and growth.

In many ways, the Grass Village was still finding its way, much like how the First Hokage established the system of one nation, one village. It had taken generations, under the guidance of the First Hokage and subsequent Hokage, to perfect that system. The path ahead for the Grass Village was still long and uncertain.

Without their leader, Akihiko, to guide them forward, even if they managed to rebuild, the Grass Village might have remained stuck in the past, rigidly adhering to the system established by the First Hokage.

Fortunately, the Grass Village had begun to change, embracing inclusion and development as the current themes in the Land of Grass.

During this time, Uzumaki Yoshinori and the others also returned, bringing along the surviving members of the Yuki clan. However, their numbers were few, much worse off than the Uzumaki clan when it faced extinction. They were now living outside the Mist Village, possibly due to new policies and rumors about blood boundary ninjas. With less than a hundred clan members, and lacking proper training due to hiding their identities, very few powerful ninjas remained among them.

When the sole surviving elder of the Yuki clan saw Uzumaki Yoshinori, he was startled, assuming that the Uzumaki clan had come seeking revenge for past grievances. Fearing for his clan member's safety, he quickly dispersed the few scattered members and urged his daughter, Kiyoshi, who was soon to be married, to escape. He made the brave decision to stay behind alone, ready to fight for his life and buy time.

However, Uzumaki Yoshinori had undergone significant changes since the past. He immediately summoned all the Grass Shinobi who accompanied him and subdued the Yuki elder and his people, much to the elder's frustration and cursing.

Initially, Uzumaki Yoshinori tried to persuade them, upholding the principles of friendliness and inclusion that the Grass Village now embraced. However, when the Yuki elder continued to doubt and insult him, he decided to take more decisive action and promptly knocked the elder unconscious.

Taking advantage of the situation, he assumed the elder's identity and summoned all the hidden Yuki clan members, capturing them one by one. Using an upper-level chakra sealing technique, he secured them safely and prepared to take them away.

Time was of the essence as the war with Mist Village escalated, leaving no room for slow negotiations with the Yuki clan. Hence, they had to swiftly relocate the Yuki clan members before anyone could discover their whereabouts.

Upon their return to Grass Shadow Village, the Yuki elder appeared bewildered but was touched by the thriving Uzumaki clan and the nurturing environment of Grass Village. Witnessing the children from the village learning and growing, the elder decided to join forces with Grass Village. With the support of Grass Shinobi mentors, they began to strengthen their understanding of the New Spirit of Grass.

In truth, many of the ninja clans in this world desired recognition and longed for a peaceful life. Even Kakuzu, the old war veteran, couldn't escape this longing. In the original future timeline, he initially joined the Akatsuki for money, but later, he continued to work for the organization in pursuit of their ideal of peace. During missions, he even took on "part-time jobs" to earn money for the organization and ultimately met his demise in battle. This wandering old man, like many others, yearned to be accepted and recognized by others.

Speaking of Which, Akihiko couldn't help but wonder why Kakuzu had not responded to the offer yet. Could it be that he genuinely didn't care about a hundred Ryo or if there was some other reason for his absence?

Amidst the addition of the Mist Village and their declarations of war, the conflict in the ninja world intensified, plunging it into deep chaos. The Five Great Shinobi Villages found themselves at odds, engaging in fierce and relentless battles.

Konoha, in particular, faced immense pressure as they received declarations of war from the other Four Great Shinobi Villages. Sarutobi Hiruzen couldn't help but express frustration and complain about the other villages. Despite always adhering to the principles of the First Hokage and striving for peace and cooperation, they found themselves repeatedly targeted for war without any just cause. It seemed that whenever a conflict arose, the other Four Great Shinobi Villages were quick to declare war on Konoha, even without solid evidence linking them to any incident.

In particular, Suna had been accusing Konoha of involvement in the disappearance of their Third Kazekage, despite a lack of concrete evidence supporting the claim. Dealing with such baseless accusations was incredibly infuriating.

However, there was a slight relief in knowing that Suna's morale weakened as they initiated this war without valid cause and their resources started depleting due to reduced funding from the daimyo. As the war progressed, Suna's strength waned, and they began to face fatigue.

As the war raged on, With both Konoha and the other Great Shinobi Villages sending their ninja, including graduates, to the battlefield, a stalemate emerged in the conflict.

With a sigh, Sarutobi Hiruzen examined the intelligence report in his hand, his face reflecting deep concern. "How did it come to this? Why hasn't Suna retreated yet?" he wondered aloud.

Mitokado Homura, acting as Konoha's strategist, pondered for a moment before offering some insight. "The only fortunate thing now is that Suna lacks sufficient backing. Despite Kumo's troops withdrawing from Suna, they have redirected their forces to the Land of Earth."

"Iwa was a different story. Their strength is formidable, Fortunately for us, most of Kumo's forces have been dispatched there. At least that somewhat relieves the pressure on Konoha," he added.

Examining the ninja world map, Homura suggested a potential strategy. "We should prioritize ending the war with Suna first and then proceed to cut off Iwa's supply lines. This could be a crucial turning point for Konoha's situation."

As they contemplated Iwa's supply lines, they couldn't help but feel a headache, silently cursing the troublemakers from Kusa. Nonetheless, they acknowledged that, for the moment, the situation was still manageable. At least, those troublemakers hadn't caused any more disturbances since their withdrawal from the Kannabi Bridge.

After hearing Mitokado Homura's analysis, Sarutobi Hiruzen also rubbed his forehead, expressing helplessness. "Alright, let's end the war with Suna as soon as possible. I doubt Suna can hold on for much longer..."

However, before he could finish his sentence, a sudden interruption occurred. An ANBU ninja rushed in, delivering an urgent frontline battle report.

"Frontline? What happened?" Sarutobi Hiruzen asked, his suspicion evident. "Is it from Kumo or Iwa?"

The ANBU shook his head, delivering surprising news, "Neither! It's from Suna!"

"Suna? Could it be that Suna is withdrawing their troops?" Utatane Koharu, Mitokado Homura, and Sarutobi Hiruzen exchanged glances, their faces showing a hint of a smile. Utatane Koharu smiled and said, "Looks like Suna understands that continuing this war is..."

However, before Utatane Koharu could finish speaking, the ANBU ninja hesitated for a moment and said, "N-no, it's not about withdrawal. Hokage-Sama"

"What's going on?" Now even Sarutobi Hiruzen was curious and furrowed his brow, urging the ANBU to speak up.

"Yes!" The ANBU ninja quickly continued, "The offensive from Suna has grown stronger, and their Genins are engaging in battles with ours. Konoha has fallen into a disadvantage."

"What's happening?" The four of them were baffled, and before they could speak again, the ANBU ninja stood up, taking out a piece of clothing and carefully placing it on the table. "According to the frontline intelligence report, the new-generation genins of Suna are each equipped with ninja vests, significantly reducing their chances of getting injured. And this... is the ninja vest we obtained from one of the Suna genins."

Upon hearing this, everyone blinked and looked at the ninja vest placed on the table. The unexpected development left them surprised and concerned about the implications of this new advantage Suna seemed to possess.

"That's simply not possible! Each genin having their own ninja vest?" Utatane Koharu, the person in charge of managing Konoha's finances, immediately shook her head, displaying a resolute expression. "Suna is in such dire financial straits that they even sent their Third Kazekage to mine for gold. There's no way they can afford to purchase ninja vests for every genin! It's absolutely out of the question!"

In the war, although Jonin and Kage are considered the main force with the potential to impact the battle, the reality is that low-level ninjas, particularly Genin, make up the largest force and play a crucial role in the conflict due to their sheer numbers. After all, even Kage-level ninjas cannot fight a war alone, let alone Jonin. Therefore, providing ninja vests for such a massive force of Genin is not feasible for any village.

"Please remain calm, Koharu. The frontline ninjas wouldn't spread false information," Sarutobi Hiruzen interjected, halting Utatane Koharu just as she was about to slam the table. He furrowed his brow as he gazed at the ninja vests laid out in front of him. "Since they also sent these ninja vests, it seems they want to convey something to us."

He paused for a moment, and the others followed suit, lowering their heads to examine the ninja vests. At first glance, there didn't seem to be anything unusual. The vests looked newly purchased, albeit showing signs of wear from the ongoing war. The colors remained relatively fresh. However, the question lingered in their minds, How could Suna Afford this? Could they be hiding something?

Under the watchful gaze of everyone, Sarutobi Hiruzen flipped the ninja vest to the other side. It was then that everyone noticed what was wrong.

As they closely examined the ninja vests, they found small text and images on the back. It read: "Produced by the Kusagakure Garment Factory, high-quality product guaranteed." and "Every Ninja's Dream"

Above these words was the unmistakable little grass emblem that seemed to sway in the wind. The revelation left everyone stunned. Although it's not Kusagakure Symbol they understood that this was yet another trouble caused by those Grass shinobi.





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