Sasuke was furious. His father had summoned him a little earlier during the day, in the washitsu of the main house, like a nobody, him, his own son. Uchiha Fugaku was at the head of one of the most powerful and prominent clans of the Land of Fire, and as the one and only heir, Sasuke is his father's pride and greatest joy. How can he summon him as if he was the last one of the domestics? The young man knelt down on tatamis in front of his parents and bowed curtly his head. He succeeded with great difficulty in mastering the shivers of anger of his body. His mother did not dare to look at him and kept looking away. Could she feel the confusion which invaded her boy? Fugaku kept his eyes fixed on the scroll he held in his hands for a little while longer, then eventually give his son this terrible look severe and rigid which was his own.
" May I know the reason of your convocation, father? " This word rings painfully in the ear of Sasuke.
''I have just received an important message from the Capital. Our Emperor, Hiruzen Sarutobi-sama, would have succeeded in concluding a treaty of alliance with the last rebels clans to the regime.''
''This is very good news, father. If the various clans succeed in understanding, we finally shall go out of these years of wars and ceaseless bereavements, and the Land of Fire can go to an era of peace and unification.''
Any trace of the anger Sasuke felt disappeared. He felt really relieved. For decades, the various clans which constituted the Land of Fire had never stopped fighting for questions of influence or territories. Sasuke had often accompanied his father on battlefields, for as the future clan leader, he had to be trained in all the forms of tactics and military strategies. However because of its young age, Fugaku had never allowed him to fight in a battle directly, in spite of the protests of his son. But the young man had seen mass graves, corpses (could they still be called "bodies"?) being lying half ripped, dismembered, shattered, some making even already the delight of vultures. A real red human pulp! The stomach of Sasuke did not have been able to bear such a horrendous sight. " Never forget what you saw today, my son " had told him the head of the Uchihas. No, never he could forget. Then if clans had finally decided to agree and ally with the Emperor, yes Sasuke welcomed the news with joy. He quickly disenchanted.
" There is however a condition, continued Fugaku. In spite of his old age, the Emperor is everything but an imbecile. He knows perfectly well that this agreement is still fragile and that the war can start again at any time at the slightest false move. If it had to arrive, He would at least like to make sure of the loyalty of two of the most powerful clans, the Hyuugas and ours, in order to discourage possible uprisings ".
Sasuke was thinking: " And how the Emperor hopes to make sure of our loyalty? Do we have to send him men? Or hostages? "
''No such thing. He hopes for an alliance of quite a different kind, one's solid and unbreakable: He wants that you go immediately to Konoha to marry his adopted daughter as soon as possible.''
The young man was taken aback. He, getting married? The same father who always refused to allow him to fight on the battlefield considering that he wasn't still old enough, desired now that he gets married? Sasuke did not know what to say, he understood nothing more. Could you really be too young to kill and old enough to get married and start a family?
" And the Hyuugas? " he asked in a somewhat trembling voice.
''The elder girl and heiress of the head of the clan, Hyuuga Hinata, was promised to the son of the heir nominated by the Emperor, a certain Namikaze Naruto, if I read the scroll properly.''
''And what will you decide, father?'' Sasuke asked after a short pause.
Fugaku frowned. "We will accept, of course. Such an alliance is a benefit for both our clan and the Land of Fire. It will solidify and strengthen the understanding among all the Shinobi clans, thus putting an end to this war. It will unify the entire country, which will eventually become a powerful nation capable of facing its enemies from the outside. And then, think my son, that you will marry the adopted daughter of the Emperor; you will enter the Imperial family and you will be at the heart of all the political intrigues of this country. It is a great glory for the Uchihas. A father could not dream of a brighter future for his child. "
Sasuke closed his eyes. His father was right, he knew it. Such an alliance would benefit everyone. The Land of Fire would finally come out of these years of violence and suffering and could compete against the other Shinobi Nations. However, he was reluctant to rejoice at the prospect of leaving his home, his family, his adored mother to marry a perfect stranger. His blood froze at this simple idea. His eyes met Mikoto's. She smiled sadly. She too felt sorry to lose her only child. His heart broke at this simple thought. She knew, however, that this was the only solution: her son would not have to die in battle, he would always remain protected from the horrors of war within the imperial family at Konoha. This time her child would be saved. Sasuke could be proud and stubborn - like her father, she thought - but he was also a smart boy, and he would eventually understand that there was no other option. It was his duty as a son to obey the will of his parents, and as a shinobi to protect his own clan and the Land of Fire.
To Mikoto's surprise, the young man bowed his head respectfully and replied, "I will do according to what you have decided, father."
Fugaku relaxed and smiled: ''That's my boy!"
Sasuke grimaced at the memory of this scene. It has been already one week since he had left his home together with his professor and mentor, Hatake Kakashi, to go in the capital of the Country of Fire, Konoha. His departure had left him a bitter taste. His father had remained impassive, as usual, contenting with telling to the son that he would probably not see again before the wedding: " Makes the clan proud of you, Sasuke ". The farewells with his mother, on the other hand, had been heartbreaking. Mikoto did not have been able to hold back her tears when she had tightened her son in her arms. It had been some time before he managed to get away from her embrace. The young man and his mother had a particular, fusional relation, and it is true since his birth. Unlike his father, who only worried about his son when the interests and future of the Uchihas were at stake, Mikoto had always been very tender and protective with him. The well-being and happiness of Sasuke had always been her only concern. It was her, with the tacit agreement of Fugaku, who had given him as an instructor a former comrade of her cousin Uchiha Obito who died in the war. The latter had agreed to take care of the Uchiha heir in memory of his missing friend. At the beginning, the young boy was quite reserved and even suspicious with his new sensei. But little by little, a relationship of trust had been established between the master and his pupil. Sasuke finally saw in this man a brother to whom he could entrust everything. People murmured all over the Land of Fire that he was one of the most gifted shinobis of his generation. Sasuke knew he was lucky to be the pupil of such a shinobi. Kakashi gave him judicious advice, emphasized his progress and encouraged him to surpass himself. What his father had never done, just attending the training sessions and pointing at the made mistakes and the techniques to improve. Nothing was ever good enough for Uchiha Fugaku. So, when the young man had learned of his imminent departure for Konoha, he insisted that his sensei, his friend, his brother should accompany him.
Kakashi watched the boy in silence. He knew what was tormenting him. After all, Sasuke was still only a child who had always lived in the clan and knew nothing of the outside world but the plains in the gilded colors of the battlefields. He also understood that a marriage with a girl he had not yet met could be a terrifying prospect. Especially since the young man had never really been interested in girls ... But Kakashi and his father had taught him the sense of duty and honor, and as a mentor he could only be proud of the decision taken by his protégé. Once married to the Emperor's daughter, Sasuke would be admitted to the heart of the Konoha Council, which presided over all political decisions taken in the interests of the Land of Fire. He will then be one of the pillars who will shape the future of their nation. The boy knew how to keep his head cool, he was intelligent, a good strategist and one of the best - perhaps even the best - pupil Kakashi could have had under his teaching. The man with the silvery mop was convinced that Sasuke could only be an asset to their government, and he could not help but selfishly think that this would be due to him. "So, there will not be any shinobis sacrificed like you were, Obito," he thought.
Sasuke was presented to the Emperor the very day of his arrival. Konoha was not at all like he had represented it. He had heard that the capital was originally a peaceful village hidden in the heart of a forest, hence its name "the hidden village of the leaves". Now it was no longer a small village, but rather a noisy and dirty city where it was very difficult to travel, as the little streets were for the most part tortuous and cluttered by merchants of all kinds, whether they are peddlers or entrenched behind their stalls. A gigantic crowd was massing in front of the stands, attracting thieves and pick-pokets. The city's military police found it difficult to maintain order and public outbursts and other fights were not uncommon. The garbage accumulated in places, and hints of alcohol and fish in brine ended up stinking out a city that was too narrow and overloaded, which had grown rich and developed too quickly and which now became asphixic.
The young man already regretted his home, retired into the heart of the land, the green valleys and the snow-capped mountains; the silence and the clean air that prevailed, favorable to escape and dreams. He was, however, pleasantly surprised to find that the palace of the Imperial family stood high on a hill, away from the shrieking, dusty city. Its architecture, sober and elegant, had been able to preserve the values of moderation that yore prevailed and therefore did not display any excessive wealth, unlike the city.
"Be welcomed to Konoha, young heir of the Uchihas".
The young man prostrated himself before the Emperor. The decoration of the courtroom was like the exterior of the palace, modest and warm. It was decorated with crafted furniture but reduced to the strictly necessary. Only the throne, placed in the center of the room like a sun around which the world had to gravitate, reflected the status and power of the man sitting on it: built in the most precious wood, covered with gold leaf and azure blue color. A golden dragon, symbol of the Land of Fire, sculpted all around served as a back. During the day, the rays of the sun came and reflected their gilded lights throughout the room, illuminating it with its brilliance. The simplicity of the Emperor's clothes, of a white and ocher color, contrasted strongly with this work of art and made it all the more emphasize the finesse and the spandeur. Sasuke then raised his head. The face of the old man, wrinkled and dotted with spots, emanated only wisdom and benevolence.
"You must be exhausted after such a journey from the lands of your clan. So you and your sensei will be taken to your apartments. Enjoy this night to recover and rest. We'll have plenty of time to talk tomorrow. "
Both were therefore taken to their respective apartments. Servants had been placed at their disposal with orders to reply to the least of their desires. The one attributed to Sasuke was a young boy, a little too small and a little too skinny for his age, his hair short and crimson colored and eyes opaline green surrounded by black.
"This is your room, Uchiha-sama."
It was spacious, decorated with magnificent mural representations on wood in bright and shimmering colors, located a little apart from the other rooms of the palace with a superb view on the shaded garden. The heir of the Uchihas felt good. He had never liked to go around with people, preferring solitude and tranquility. He took advantage of it to train most of the time, or to traverse the green expanses of his native land. He could spend hours sitting drawing or taking notes on what he saw. Nature and its mysteries had always fascinated him. A sensitivity inherited from his mother but which hardly appealed to his father. The garden of the imperial palace certainly did not resemble the landscapes Sasuke liked so much, but it was large enough and filled with varieties of plants and flowers that the young man did not know and that he really wanted to study . But it would wait the next day. For the time being he was far too exhausted. He dismissed his servant, barely had time to undress, and collapsed on the fluffy fûton, where he nearly fell asleep.
It is not normal.
Sasuke was a shinobi. Even in the deepest sleep, his sharp senses remained constantly on the alert. Night had fallen, and at this late hour the whole palace had been asleep for a long time. At least that should be the case. The young man, however, was awakened by a strange noise; A kind of friction on the ground, scarcely more audible than the breath of the wind. Most people would probably not have paid attention or would not even have heard it. But Sasuke was not the most people. Without uttering the slightest sound, he slowly slipped his hand under the fûton and took out the splendid katana offered by his father for his twelfth birthday. The young man held his breath and listened. The almost inaudible friction suddenly became a slight crack. Doubt, if there had ever been doubt, was no longer permitted.
There was someone in his room ...