"Hold on a sec… don't you need to interrogate them or something?" Izuna stops Mei from finishing them off.
Mei shakes her head in denial.
"It doesn't matter… I already had an idea of the perpetrator… besides… the moment you free them… they will commit suicide. So, it is better for me to kill them."
Mei finishes her hand signs and slams her hand on the ground.
Izuna secretly activates his Sharingan to copy the jutsu.
'I have got a gist of Lava Release… I just need some practice to learn it.'
"Lava Release: Molten Catastrophe"
The ground beneath the Anbu group trembles, creating a small rift. The rift erupts and releases a large amount of lava. The lava engulfs the Anbu groups and turns them into ashes.
The rift on the ground closes and everything returns to normal.
'Hmm… It is a quite powerful jutsu… but it is not feasible for quick fights. The time required to cast this jutsu is quite large.'
Izuna shakes his head as he analyses the weakness of jutsu.
Mei sighs in relief and turns to Izuna.
"I still have my doubts regarding you... but you have my gratitude for saving our lives."
"Miss Mei… Miss Mei…."
A frantic voice fells in their ears. The group turns around and notices a group of Anbus rushing towards them.
Mei and the group raise their guard for an unexpected enemy.
"It's us, Miss Mei…"
One of the Anbu members in front removes his mask to reveal his face.
Mei lowers her guard as she greets the newcomer. Izuna nonchalantly looks at the group.
His attention is drawn by Ao, who is standing in the middle of the group. He curiously stares at Ao… or to be more accurate at the sealing talisman tied around his ears.
'Strange… very strange… I have never seen such strange Fuinjutsu seals. I generally use seals on a scroll… but I have never seen such sealing Talisman.'
Izuna secretly activates his Sharingan and closely inspect the talismans.
A chill runs down Ao's spine as he warily surveys his surroundings.
Ao senses a gaze focused on him. He looks around to search for the intruder. Ao notices Izuna staring at him. He frowns and scrutinizes Izuna.
Ao brings his right hand in front of his right eye and makes a hand seal.
Ao activates his Byakugan and inspects Izuna's chakra signature. Blue chakra flows through Izuna's chakra system.
'There is no problem with his chakra system. His reserves are on par with a high-level jounin… which is quite normal for many clan members. But… why I feel a threat from this guy?'
Ao turns to Mei and speaks.
"Sorry, Miss Mei... for interrupting your discussion."
He points towards Izuna and Kimimaro and questions.
"Who is this person? There is no report of him being a part of the squad."
"Oh! He is… he is…" Mei frowns as she couldn't remember his name.
"What's your name again?... Earlier… I forgot to ask your name."
Izuna speechlessly looks at Mei.
'I saved your life, and you didn't even bother to ask the name of your savior.'
Izuna clears his throat and introduces himself.
"I am Yuito Yuki, a member of Yuki clan."
He points at Kimimaro.
"This little guy over here is Yuto Yuki… my little brother."
Mei nods head in approval as she narrates the entire event to Ao and Uncle Wakan.
Uncle Wakan turns to Izuna and bows his head in gratitude.
"Mei is like my daughter. You have my gratitude for saving her life."
Izuna shakes his head.
"It's fine. I was just passing by when I heard the sound of battle. So, I hid nearby to see the situation. After I figured out the situation, I helped her."
Kimimaro silently stares at Izuna and the group.
'So… If I want to become like Messenger-san… I have to learn how to fool people.'
Kimimaro jots this down in his memory.
"If you don't mind… I will continue my journey to Kiri." Izuna holds Kimimaro's hand and walks away from the group.
'I don't want any more trouble. Staying near them will spell more trouble for me in the future. I better stay away from them.'
He hastily walks towards Kiri.
"Wait… wait a sec!"
A sweet voice fells in his ears.
'Here comes the trouble.'
Izuna turns around and feigns confusion.
"Do you need something from me… Miss?"
Mei shakes her head and points out.
"Since both of you are moving towards Kiri and we are also returning to Kiri… so… so why don't we move together?"
'Sigh… I can't refuse this… can I? If I refuse... they might turn suspicious of me. Why did I even bother to stop by and interfere in the fight when Ao and his group were on their way?'
"Very well… we will tag along."
Izuna and Kimimaro join the group as they walk towards Kirigakure.
Ao walks near them and starts to question Izuna.
Izuna nods his head in affirmation.
"So… you are a member of now almost extinct Yuki clan. What made you return to Kiri… that also of all times?"
Ao stops and looks at Izuna's expression before he continues.
"Kiri is at its most chaotic time… the infamy of the village as 'Bloody Mist' is spread throughout other nations. Many Shinobis are abandoning the village to leave a relatively peaceful life.
It was the reason… Kiri created the Hunter-Nin Corp of Anbu to hunt down these deserters. So, why of all times are you returning to the village?"
Ao continues to observe Izuna for any change in his expression.
'Is he doubting my credibility? But I haven't done anything suspicious to warrant his doubt. I never knew Ao was such a meticulous person.'
"He is here to bury his mother's ashes," Mei explains to Ao before Izuna could open his mouth.
Ao nods his head and maintains his distance from them. He is still monitoring Izuna for any suspicious activity.
"Yuito… so that's your name. It... it lacks manliness."
'Did I choose the wrong name? I thought it would go quite well with my Yuki clan identity. Haku looked like a trap with his voice, name, and appearance.'
"My mother wanted a baby girl… but I was born instead. So… she gave me such a name."
Izuna explains to Mei. Mei nods her head.
"With that appearance… I think it quite suits you."
Izuna speechlessly looks at Mei.
They continue their journey towards Kiri as Ao constantly monitors Izuna's every move.
'Damn… this half-ass pirate is staring at me like a hawk. Should I gauge out that Byakugan of his? If he stares at me for again… then I will surely pluck out that Byakugan in the future.'
Izuna is pissed off by the continuous hawk-like gaze of Ao.
Ao feels a chill run down his spine. He immediately turns away from Izuna.
'Strange'. He mutters to himself.
Finally, they reach the entrance of the Kirigakure.
A giant arc of rock appears in their vision. There is a giant blue circular engraving with a symbol for 'Water' in Kanji carved on the arc.
The entrance is covered in mist as any Ninja patrols the walls of the village.
'So.. this is Kiri. It is my first time here in Kiri.'
Izuna inspects Kiri. He notices several cylindrical buildings erected all over in Kiri.
At the entrance of the Kiri, a middle-aged man and an old man waits for the group.
The middle-aged man notices the group and hurriedly approaches them. He hugs Mei and immediately questions her.
"Mei… are you alright?"
"I am alright Father." Mei nods her head and explains the entire incident in detail.
Fuji turns to Izuna and thanks him.
"Thanks for saving my daughter."
Fuji curiously inspects Izuna but couldn't find any extraordinary feature except his handsome face.
'His face is way too girly. Well… all Yuki clan males have such features.' Fuji shakes his head and continues the conversation.
"Since you are the savior of my daughter… I will allow you to enter the village without any exception. Kiri is in a pretty chaotic situation nowadays… so always be on alert. Also… as my gratitude, I will provide you with lodging."
Fuji signals a nearby shinobi. The shinobi leads Izuna and Kimimaro inside the village.
After their departure, Genji slowly walks up to Fuji and addresses him.
"You should keep an eye on him. Ao is suspicious of him. I have never seen Ao so guarded against somebody."
Fuji nods his head.
"Yes… I can't be lenient anymore. They have attempted assassination on my daughter."
Fuji turs towards Wakan and orders him.
"Wakan… you are one of my most trusted partners. I would like you to send someone to keep an eye on that Yuito. Also… send someone to the village he mentioned to investigate his background. I want to know if he is telling the truth or not.
If he is telling truth… then we can rope him in. There are no powerful Ice release users among our ranks. He can prove to be a worthy asset in our cause."
"Yes, Fuji-san." Wakan bows his head and turns towards his Anbu team.
He sends one of his Anbu members to keep an eye on Izuna and sends another to validate the background of Izuna.
On a nearby tree,
'So… that's what they are planning. I can never lower my guard... can I?'
Izuna is eavesdropping on the conversation of the group by using his invisibility.