16 The prison

"You need to understand, Kaname-san, I'm on your side, you saved my life before, so I owe you. I'll do everything I can to help, I promise." The old man assured, "But I need proofs. Your words are not enough to persuade Daimyō-sama."

"Thanks, but something doesn't add up. Naru-chan came back to Konoha last month, and I haven't seen him for three years. Who was the one that saw me in Fire City with him?"

"I believe you, but I'm forbidden to divulge witness's name for his protection. You know, I like my head where it is." he replied comically.

"You sure it wasn't a burly, old, white-haired pervert that was seen?" Furido shook his head, "Hmm, if I help you with fighting off the spread of the virus, will I be pardoned from prison?"

"I'm sorry, you're the only suspect at the moment. I can't let you walk away. Please, give me something to work with Kaname-san - I want to help you."

"You most likely heard that I'm opposed to our current leadership, Furido-san." After his nod, Kaname continued, "I thought so. If I wanted Daimyō dead, no army could stop me. All of you would find after I would be done, is him dead in his bed before dawn, none the wiser on the assailant. Why should I do it in such a roundabout way?"

"Haah... I agree, but the nobles are already sure of your guilt. My hands are tied. Give me a day - I'll find proof of your innocence."

"Sure. Enjoy yourself." Kaname replied, unconcerned.

"Guards!" Furido shouted out. When two samurais barged into the room, he continued calmly, "Please, take Kaname-san to the prison. Act nicely around her - she doesn't have to, nor won't hold back against any perverse attempts. If you value your life, you will treat her like a VIP. AM I UNDERSTOOD?!"

"HAI!"

Without any struggle, Kaname extended her hands, providing a chance for the samurai to lock them in chunky shackles. "Hehe, how cute. They're made to seal the chakra in my body."

"All shinobi prisoners are made to wear those," Furido explained.

"Nah. I don't mind." the Uchiha shrugged, interrupting the man, "I played around with such chakra seals a decade ago."

She watched as the High Councilor glared at the bodyguard, giving him a voiceless command.

"Kaname Uchiha, you're under arrest!" The swordsman announced loudly, "Follow me calmly, or I'll have to use force."

"Sure, lead on. Thanks, Furido-san. I'll wait for the news."

Kaname was escorted to her cell. Entering through solid steel doors, she observed a dark, damp cave - with three steps, she would touch the cold stone on the back wall. 'I'm not tall, but this rotten wood cot will be too small. Meh, whatever, I will wreck it before evening. Is that a toilet?" Kaname looked at an empty bucket.

"That's the best cell we have got. You should be proud, shinobi."

"Yeah, it needs some renov-" the doors shut loudly behind her back, "Heh, you could have at least take off the cuffs first, idiot." She chuckled. Circling the chakra along her chakra pathways, the iron on her hands wailed, with a quick yank, the chain links on Kaname's restraints broke apart.

'Good. Everything according to plan, I got in! Now to make short work of the seals around me and making this place somewhat comfy...'

-----

"Jiraiya-san, do you know why Hokage called all of us here?"

"Yes, but I think you should hear it from her, Inoichi-kun."

"It's about Kaname-chan, right? Tsunade-san wouldn't have gathered all jōnins otherwise." The Nara facepalmed, "What has she done this time? Ahh! What a troublesome woman."

"Sharp as always, Shikaku-kun."

"*Munch-munch* As much as *Gulp* Shikaku is smart, Kana-chan is unpredictable. We will have to wait for Hokage's explanation." Replied their red-haired teammate.

"Okay, zip it, everybody!" Tsunade hushed out the crowd assembled in her office, "We have got a major problem. Kaname was arrested in the Daimyō's palace on some fraudulent charges."

The crowd exploded in whispers, "I said shut up! Let me finish." The Senju commanded.

"Yeah, you tell them, Granny!" A female laugh brought a nervous tick of Tsunade's eyebrow.

"Kaname is a big girl - she assured me she can take care of herself. But her jail time has grown into another problem. Whoever attacked her did that to temporarily weaken Konoha. That's why I'm tripling the patrols around the village. I want you to report anything out of the ordinary!" Hokage announced, "Guy-san, I'm sorry to shorten your vacation, but I'll need your help."

"UUOOOOHHH!" Flames danced in Guy's eyes, "What Kana-chan needs me for?!"

"Haaah... Back in shape, I see? Team Kakashi is on the hunt. Take your team, catch up with them and provide support. I'm not sure how successful that Flat Board was in her attempt at infiltration. But her gaki could be a potential target."

"I swear on the Flames of youth in my heart. No harm will come to my eternal rival's team!"

"Good. Asuma, I've got a job for you as well. Of all of my shinobi, you're the most knowledgeable about the Fire City. Are you capable of getting past the guards and contact Kaname unseen? She may need help for all I know."

"A simple job." Asuma nodded, pulling out a pack of smokes and flicking one of the cigarettes straight into his mouth.

"Asuma, I dare you to try lighting it up in my office. I'll put it so far up your ass-"

"Hahaha. Do it, Asuma-kun!" A female hysteric laugh interrupted Tsunade.

"For fucks sake, just shut up, Flat Board! Let the adults tal- huh? What? Why are you here?"

Kaname munched on Chōza chips, "I got bored."

"Like that explains anything, stupid Flat Board! You don't just go out of prison for a walk."

"Then they should invest in better seals to keep me there." Kaname shrugged her shoulders, "You all know me - I wouldn't survive five minutes of boredom."

"More like two, but I concur." Inoichi heaved out.

"Hahaha." Kaname scratched the side of her head, "So, Asuma-kun, I need to ask you one thing. Do you know a man called Furido?"

"Hmm, nope, never heard of him. Why?" The Sarutobi replied.

"That Furido said that he was one of the Twelve Guardians."

"Another one of them survived? That's good news! I thought it was only me and Chiriku-san left. It seems that Furido has changed his name for his own safety! What does he look like, Kana-chan?"

"Long grey hair, a scar on the nose, confident personality." she summarised, "Ah, right! I also met the resident cat lady, Asuma-kun."

"Hmm, Ehh... who?"

"Moron, I'm talking about Tōu-chan."

"I saw her neck slashed right open by that Kazuma bastard! You couldn't have met her."

"Okay enough!" The Hokage roared at them, "Nice to see you have mutual friends, but I need to know what's happening to decide on our next move."

"Send Asuma-kun to Fire City. His word should still mean something there." Shikaku suggested.

"Should I try to find Chiriku-san? He was the leader of your group."

"He knows how to hide, but he should be somewhere around Fire Temple, Kana-chan. With this Furido on our side, Chiriku-san, Tōu-chan, and me, we should have enough weight to persuade Daimyō."

"So you don't know who it is, Asuma? Are you sure I can trust him - there were rebels among your group?"

"Chiriku and I executed them, one by one, very slowly... Yes, Kana-chan, you can trust him. Or even better, ask him to find Chiriku, whoever that Furido is - he won't keep his anonymity under that old monk's gaze for long."

"Sure. Granny, I have a favor to ask of you."

-----

"Has she eaten the provided food?"

"Yes! As ordered, we spik-" the guard reported, but he faltered under Furido's gaze.

"Have you got anything unusual else to report?"

"No. Her cell was inspected by a guard every ten minutes - Kaname-sama didn't move from the bunk for the last 4 hours."

"Kaname-sama? I want to meet with the prisoner, now!" Furido bolted towards the Uchiha's cell. The moment the steel doors opened, the man froze in his tracks, gaping at the sight. Kaname was chuckling, reading a book while lying on a big, comfortable bed. The cell changed its size, becoming almost twice as deep. Its damp, hollowed-out walls were transformed into perfectly perpendicular light-green surfaces. Forget about every present darkness - the woman found several candles to light the cell up in a warm brightness.

Without the intent to, Furido took a step in, only for his foot to plunge into a thick silver carpet. "Bu-But how? The seals... Your chakra..."

"Oh, hi Furido-san. I'm sorry, the cell was a little too cold for my taste."

"How?" he gasped again.

"You mean the chakra cuffs you got on me? As I said, I played with the likes ten years ago. I still remember making bets around military camp in Hot Water country on how quickly can I get out of one of these. It's not about you, but it seems your subordinate forgot to take them off. But don't worry, I cracked those seals before I left your office. Pulling the cuffs off was a child's play then."

"But... the seals in this cell."

"Ah, those. That's why I hate bureaucracy. Instead of taking the best option, the officials always have to pull the funds and find the cheapest one! Where did all of you find such tragically designed seals? In the grocery shop?!"

'I-I made them... I heard she is good, but not that good!'

"I just put a minuscule amount of chakra in the seal array, and it all chained crashed. What the heck?!" Kaname droned on.

"I'm sorry, I'll look into that, Kaname-san. What about the guard? He is under genjutsu."

"You said it yourself. I didn't have to hold back - the moron tried to walk on me when I was on the toilet. I thought of turning his brain into mush but decided otherwise."

"Thank you for that, Kaname-san."

"Have a seat." She pointed at a sofa, "How is the looking for proofs working out?"

"I believe I found something, but I'll need more time." Furido assured.

"While you were doing your own research, I thought of a backup plan. The leader of Twelve Guardians would certainly support me with his word - I believe he is still respected in the palace?"

"Yes, but the problem is that I couldn't locate Chiriku-san, he was deemed missing for the last seven years."

"Haha, he is hiding right under your nose, Furido-san. Just leave him a message in Fire Temple - Chiriku-san will respond, I'm sure of that.

"Fire Temple?" the man reflected on his next move.

"Hmm, can you tell me your real name, Furido-san? Looking at you now, I'm not certain if you're on my side or not."

"I..." he gasped, "What are you talking about, Kaname-san? You saved my life! I won't betray my savior's trust."

"Hmm, maybe I was wrong. As you can see, I'm in a rather precarious situation right now. Sorry."

"I'll make some preparations to contact Chiriku-san today. Thank you for your information, Kaname-san." Furido quickly evacuated her cell.

'He didn't tell me his name. And the look he got when I told him Chiriku-san's location... Congrats, moron, you just got promoted to the top ten of my shit list.' Before the steel doors closed, Kaname smiled, making Furido shake in fear, 'Shit, I should have killed him on the spot, but I can't let his worthless life be the reason for the war.'

-------

"A-are you alright, Furido-sama?" A young adult called out to him.

Furido almost broke his neck, yanking it towards the new voice in his office. "Ah, Sora." a young monk stood in front of him. His student had straight shoulder-length, dull gray hair with a single lock of hair falling onto his face, and brown-colored eyes.

"You look like you saw a ghost."

"Worse. I might have knocked on the wrong doors... I-I have never felt bloodlust so dense. Most likely, I barely got myself out alive out of there." He replied with traces of mental breakdown.

"Ruffled the wrong feathers, Furido-sama? That's weird you have never acted without a plan."

"I thought everything was planned out to perfection. I was wrong."

"So, what now?"

"I asked the guards to triple the doses of chakra blocker poison in Kaname Uchiha's dishes."

"Kaname Uchiha?! But-" Sora exclaimed in shock.

"I'm the judge here, never question my motives, Sora."

"I-I'm sorry, Furido-sama. I just-"

"I've to act fast. She is on to me..." Furido brainstormed, bitting on his fingernail, "Leave, I have lots of work to do."

"... Goodbye. And be careful, Furido-sama." the old man already stopped caring about Sora, trashing through the cabinet, looking for some documents.

'First, I need to write some letters. Fū-sama needs to act fast if he wants to use the time she has left in jail. Ah, without backers, she will be left defenseless in the court! Sending samurais just to be slaughtered by that stupid monk is pointless, but... Here it is! Akatsuki's intermediary!' Furido pulled out an overused file, 'Hahaha, I believe they will be very interested to know of Kaname's current whereabouts!'

[AN: If you forgot - Fū Yamanaka became a new head of Root in previous book :-)]

-------

In the middle of the night, Kaname's cell was visited by a small brown butterfly. Fluttering about, it quickly found its place on her finger.

"So, Little One? Got something for me?" Feeling a small probe of genjutsu reaching out to her, Kaname let herself ease out her defenses. Her mind was washed over with images from an insectoid point of view. Furido was being spied on by an inconspicuous butterfly through one of the office's windows the entire time.

"Hmm... He sent out two tanuki summons, each one with a letter?" Kaname lifted the butterfly to her eyes, "Call me paranoid, but they weren't sent out to find proof of my innocence, were they?"

Her little spy slowly fluttered its wings in agreement.

"One way to find out." Kaname teleported outside the city, "<Kuchiyose no Jutsu>!" Hundreds of small butterflies popped out into existence next to her, "Find me a tanuki!"

She didn't have to wait long - just three minutes later, one of her summons sent her an image of a brown, overgrown raccoon fleeing a kaleidoscope of butterflies. Kaname teleported to the butterfly above the animal.

The moment she was noticed by the tanuki, it divided itself into a dozen copies running in different directions. 'Clones? No, it's a genjutsu!' Kaname quickly activated her Sharingan and caught up with the real summon, pulling it up by its nape.

"Calm down, you won't remember a thing." she said, leveling tanuki's eyes with hers.

While the animal was disabled, Kaname took the scroll attached to its back and read it. 'Bingo! A letter to the Akatsuki's spy in Konoha!'

Reading the agent's name, her eyes opened in astonishment, "Mizuki?! I hoped he died in prison."

'Hmm, should I burn the message or... Heh, Chiriku-san's bounty got tripled, let them come, I will wait for them.' Kaname fixed the message back to the tanuki and let it go.

She watched it run off towards Konoha, 'That's why you should use shinobi to deliver important information. I should give the news to Asuma-kun, this Furido went AWOL."

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