Prologue

“Class!” Iruka called for attention, rousing sleepy children from their lecture-induced slumber. “Today, we have a special guest with us to talk about genjutsu.”

Several heads perked up; the Academy prided itself on teaching excellence, and hardly ever brought in guest lecturers. Out of nowhere, mist swirled around a spot beside Iruka, coalescing into the form of an attractive woman. With black, tousled hair that trailed to her shoulders, ruby red eyes and porcelain skin, she looked like she had stepped out of a fairy tale, evidenced by Kiba’s gobsmacked expression. Dressed in a conservative long-sleeved red shirt and pants, along with a green Chūnin vest, it did little to hide her well-developed body. A soft smile curving her lips, she bowed politely and introduced herself as Yūhi Kurenai.

“Please ask as many questions as possible,” Iruka encouraged his students. “Yūhi-san here is an expert in genjutsu, and knows more about the art than even Jōnins.”

“Arigato gozaimasu, but I am not as good as you suggest, Umino-san,” Kurenai replied demurely.

Turning her attention to the eager children before her, she found her eyes inadvertently focused on a certain redhead. He was the most recognisable child in the room other than Uchiha Sasuke; his brilliant crimson hair was a rarity in Konoha, and his bright, azure eyes were even more rare. Decked in a black jumpsuit that looked too big for his small frame, he looked positively bored. Even Kurenai’s showy entrance did nothing to arouse his curiosity, as most impressionable children of his age were prone to. Her own curiosity piqued, she decided to keep an eye on the crimson-haired ninja trainee even as she began to answer questions.

“Yūhi-san, is genjutsu really strong?” a boy near the back row asked dubiously. “Won’t ninjutsu just blow the bad guys away?”

Kurenai shook her head indulgently. “While it is true that ninjutsu is a powerful part of a ninja’s arsenal, genjutsu has a place too. Top ninjas use genjutsu to distract or disorientate opponents, making them easier targets. Stronger genjutsu can immobilise or even kill enemies. The mind is very powerful, and the ability to manipulate the mind is what makes genjutsu subtle and highly dangerous.”

“Is it true that genjutsu users are really smart?” a girl in the front row asked.

“To use genjutsu requires one to be constantly aware of their surroundings and understand their opponent. Effective use of genjutsu does need one to possess a certain amount of intelligence in order to take greatest advantage of genjutsu,” Kurenai answered.

Sasuke snorted derisively, crossing his arms over his chest. “Genjutsu is for weaklings who can’t fight head on.”

Before Kurenai could rebut the black-haired child’s derogatory remark, Takeshi spoke. “Don’t be stupid. Genjutsu can be used to augment your other skills. Plus, if you can put down your opponent without ever revealing yourself, then won’t that be better than fighting face to face? Anyway, since when did ninjas fight head on? We’re supposed to fight from the shadows, dumbass.”

Sasuke seethed, and so did his fan girls. Before the situation could degenerate into a class-wide brawl (which, judging by Iruka’s resigned expression, had every chance of happening), Kurenai let loose a quick burst of chakra that grabbed attention and settled everyone down. “There’s no need to fight. And yes, Uzumaki-san, you are absolutely right. While most ninjas prefer the use of ninjutsu and taijutsu to genjutsu, genjutsu is just as powerful. And due to its lack of use, you will often find yourself with the element of surprise on your side.”

“Any more questions?” Kurenai addressed the class.

Takeshi’s hand rose. “Yūhi-san, what are the sensory targets you prefer? Are there any specific reasons for your preferences?”

Kurenai’s eyebrow rose. It was a surprising question from the redhead she had honestly not expected. Judging by Iruka’s stunned features, even his teacher didn’t expect it too. Regaining composure, Kurenai replied summarily. “Sight is often the most relied upon, and most genjutsu will take advantage of that. I’m no exception.”

“Then what is your favoured medium?” Takeshi enquired. “I’m guessing it’s your eyes, Yūhi-san, since they are so distinctive.”

“It’s a good guess, but I’m afraid I am still a distance from being able to use my eyes as a conduit,” Kurenai smiled, flattered by Takeshi’s assumption. “I use hand seals for most of my genjutsu.”

The redhead looked somewhat sceptical of her reply, but accepted it. “Do you have some sort of theme with all your genjutsu? I heard some genjutsu users like to do that.”

It was more a conversation between the two at this point, but none of the class really cared, astounded by Takeshi’s might-as-well-be-foreign questions. Iruka was trying to wrap his mind around his ninjutsu-mad student asking questions about genjutsu that even Genin aspiring to become specialists don’t think about. Kurenai, making the assumption that Takeshi was planning to become a genjutsu specialist, decided she would have a quick chat with him, and maybe give a few pointers. There were too few genjutsu users in the world, she lamented within, as she continued answering Takeshi’s queries.

At the end of class, the children streamed out of the amphitheatre-like classroom, their minds inundated with advanced genjutsu theory. Kurenai gestured for Takeshi, who ambled over to the Chūnin curiously. “Ne, is there something you need, Yūhi-san?”

“I’m glad to see someone as young as you has already developed such a keen interest in genjutsu-” Kurenai began excitedly, only to be interrupted by Takeshi’s light chuckle. “Yūhi-san, I’m not smart enough to be a genjutsu user. I happen to like ninjutsu more. I just know a lot about genjutsu.”

Frowning lightly, Kurenai couldn’t help but feel disappointed. “Then may I know why you have such advanced knowledge on genjutsu?”

“Oh, my aniki is a genjutsu user, so he taught me loads about it,” Takeshi shrugged, before an impish grin split his face. “Do you want to meet him? He told me about a Chūnin genjutsu specialist he was impressed by; I’m guessing that would be you.”

“Impressed by me?” Kurenai echoed dubiously.

Takeshi nodded enthusiastically. “Uh huh. Aniki always says his genjutsu are lacking in creativity.”

“I’m surprised I have not heard of your brother before,” Kurenai pondered aloud. “There aren’t that many genjutsu specialists in Konoha.”

“He’s ANBU,” Takeshi replied simply. “I don’t even see him around much these days. Ah, it was nice talking to you, Yūhi-san, but I have to go now! Ja ne!”

<<<<<<<<>>>>>>>>

Chapter 1 (Incomplete)

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