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Only seconds had passed since the fight started and the other members of Team 7 leapt in; Sai with a textbook kick that missed Omoi, and Sakura with a superpowered punch aimed for Karui that the incredibly fast Omoi cut off by kicking the medic flying through the air. One Naruto went after the sprawling Sakura, the other the clone received a reverse elbow to the head from Karui who clearly didn't need a big sword to be tough.

Uchiha Sasuke of Konoha assaulted our village! A third figure leapt in between the two groups. Feminine, blond and busty. For a moment Sakura thought Tsunade had henged into a woman in her twenties again. Wh- what are you doing here? Were you fighting these Leaf ninja? They're so tedious I want to cut off my own ears-'.

Omoi cut Karui's thoughts off; "What clone did you leave? Samui knew the male ninja was trying to change the subject.

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They weren't as stupid as they looked. Kage Bunshin is easy for you Captain of course; a ninja of your level, also those massive tits double as massive chakra batteries don't they? Samui knew Karui was trying to provoke her to avoid responsibility for potentially starting a war with the Leaf by attacking ninja in their territory. It may actually be working as Samui noticed the Leaf ninja staring at her rather than their attackers She turned to the leaf ninja ignoring her team mates; "I must apologise for my team mates. An argument can be made they were sent into the Leaf village because the Raikage considered them expendable.

That wasn't true but Samui needed to convince the ninja her imbecile comrades just assaulted to drop any charges before this turned into an international incident. Hopefully the strategic bow she gave the two males would help- it never worked with females- except that one time Staring at the over-endowed woman in front of them, Sai couldn't help but think; 'How does she maintain her balance with those abnormally large breasts? Also, do large breasts function as chakra storage devices? I should ask about this Sakura was thinking; 'Blond hair, huge tits, bad attitude, what is she a relative of Lady Tsunade or something?

She turned away from the leaf trio and adopted her 'You are all idiots and here's why' mode of speech with her team mates- the dismissive, lecturing tone of voice actually didn't sound any different than how she usually spoke to the uninitiated. Samui had a thing for powerful men, finding chakra levels much more of a turn on than money, popularity or good looks. Her second thought was that given his choice in wardrobe and loud, annoying voice was that he was an idiot. Her third thought was something that truly stunned her; he was looking her in the eye- few people- male or female could do that.

Samui made a very familiar handseal and a Kage Bunshin appeared from a puff of smoke. One of the voluptuous blonds turned to Karui and Omoi. The original spoke to Naruto. I believe your subordinates may be Who the hell does this walking cleavage think she is? Naruto if you go with this slut I will Sai considered performing the Heimlich maneuver on her. Then thought better of what would happen if he got in that position with her. I'll strangle you with your own freakishly sized boobs! Who does this ninja hooker Naruto and Samui had relocated to a nearby sentry house- it was empty so the pair went inside to avoid prying eyes and ears.

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We have one ninja dead, one wounded and one- our sensei- missing- possibly dead. She paused for effect. He was wearing the Akatsuki robes and assaulted the shinobi I just spoke of. Samui shook her head, unconvinced. The wounds on the corpse match those known to be caused by Hatake Kakashi's Chidori and child techniques. Furthermore, a sentry the wounded ninja was taken down via high level genjutsu performed without hand signs; a visual genjutsu.

Lastly, our sensei was wounded by the Amaterasu - a jutsu only accessible via Mangekyo Sharingan. The point is; a rogue Konoha shinobi killed a shinobi of Kumo and abducted another. Your Hokage has given us permission to eliminate Uchiha and had offered all available information on him.

If you don't wish to assist us in killing a former Leaf ninja then I humbly ask that you do not prevent us from finding our sensei. More things we do!

Pirates Underpants Monsters Princesses. Friday, July 31, What time is it? We take a look inside the scout-smart world of "Lumberjanes" with Issue Don't miss the astonishing, the amazing, the utterly brilliant Templar Publishing Summer Blog Tour next week! A touching tale about growing old, and being young, about memories and friendships. Thursday, July 30, A stunning range of board books for baby literary geniuses.

We're taking a look at a diverse set of subjects this month but starting with a subject dear to many girls' hearts - lovely lovely shoes! Beautiful black and white illustrations from Lucie Arnoux make this book a really fabulous treasure trove of stories! A fantastic collection, released to neatly coincide with an utterly amazing exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London called gulp "Shoes - Pleasure and Pain" which opened on 13th June. The Iron Man Cometh! The story opens with Ted Hughes' rich prose describing a fearful terrible iron giant standing on the edge of a cliff, staring out to sea.

Why is he there? What does he want - and why does he seemingly tumble to his doom so soon into the story? Obviously this isn't the end of the Iron Man as his dismembered body soon reforms itself ready to pursue a mission unknown. The Iron Man can be polished off over a week's worth of bedtimes which is precisely how we read it , often leaving us breathless with anticipation for the next chapter as he slowly and inexorably marches on, and his true purpose and intent is revealed. Time for a new book range with a resourceful new girl detective. She's a clever and smart detective and star of her own new adventure series with two books available now, and more planned for In Lottie's first adventure "Lottie Lipton: Both share a deep love of history but both also love solving puzzles and mysteries - as you will too as you dive into the story and help Lottie solve the mystery of the disappearance of The Golden Cat of Cairo - a priceless egyptian artifact.

Fans of fast paced adventure will love these books. Look out also for Lottie's other adventurous investigation, "The Secrets of the Stone" also available now. We have a feeling this is going to turn into a series that children will love so look out for "The Scroll of Alexandria" and "The Egyptian Enchantment" coming in January Looking for something uber-cool about little folk to read? Puskin Press have got you covered Tatsuo Moriyama is a young Japanese boy entrusted with a special gift by his favourite teacher. Tatsuo is tasked with looking after two tiny little folk, Fern and Balbo, who are small enough to nestle in the palm of his hand.

They use household objects from the world around them to make their clothes and furniture, and require only one thing from Tatsuo - a nightly glass of milk, served in a special blue glass goblet. The story follows Tatsuo as he grows up, has a family of his own and the shadow of World War 2 threatens to change everything - including the lives of Fern and Balbo who now have a family of their own too. As wartime rations take devastating effect, can Tatsuo's daughter Yuri maintain her sworn duty to look after the little people and keep them safe?

With echoes of bittersweet sadness that really heavily reminded me of Studio Ghibli's "Grave of the Fireflies", and as mentioned already echoes of the superb "Borrowers" series by Mary Norton, this is truly something fresh and original from Pushkin who seem to have a knack for bringing brilliant stories to life with their recent publications!

Tune in once again in August when we'll be bringing you more glorious chapter book goodness! All titles kindly supplied for review by their respective publishers. It might be a little early to be thinking about your child's very first day at 'Big School' but here's another book that may help allay some of your little one's fears before the big day arrives in September.

Step inside to meet Ally-Saurus Step inside to read more Tuesday, July 28, Maverick re-issues a monster tale! A nifty crafty sticker book for pixel perfectionists?


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Make some stunning designs and pictures in the new "Pixelcraft" range from Studio Press. Just don't get square eyes The enormously talented dino-team behind "Yikes, Stinkysaurus" and "Yikes, Santa Claws" are back with a rather naughty new dino creation. Are you ready to be tickled? Then step right this way Maggie Li knows a thing or two about producing scintillating designs and engaging children with awesome science subjects.

Her work as Art Director at Okido Magazine contributes to one of the best children's magazines on the planet. Pirate books show no signs of disappearing from our book shelves or publisher's release schedules. Pirates are just so crazily popular so we are always on the lookout for an author or illustrator who goes the extra mile to produce pirate tales that make us giggle and hoot with laughter. Wednesday, July 22, Moving in, moving things around, panic ye not!

First off, a nice crisp clean look so that reviews have a bit more room, content can be found more easily, and some new navigation options 'oop top' to allow you to find new and interesting content on the blog. Most of the tried and tested things will stay the same. It was a lot of work, but Suna, until half a year ago, had been facing an alarmingly shrinking number of jobs for their working ninja population. Jiraiya had heard rumors of perfectly capable chuunin and even one or two jounin slipping into months of unemployment, sometimes even years.

He had heard of some going homeless and forced to rely on state welfare to make ends meet and wasn't that a sad fate for warriors who had trained since birth to do their job for their nation? The kind of enormous workload that came with a fully operating state-sponsored transnational railway system, while an unbearable burden for other villages, would be a boon to them right now.

Two birds with one stone. Publicly, the Kazekage could claim to spearhead this project for the good of the nation and win some more good press for the village. In private, he would have won several thousand new and very well paid jobs over the span of years for his people. So, now that questions regarding supplies, security and feasibility had been adequately answered, the one major issue left was…. This is going to come straight out of Kaze no Kuni national coffer? The Wind Daimyo, despite being the richest man of Kaze and owning pretty much all the oil rigs in Kaze no Kuni, was a notorious cheapskate.

His penny pinching habit was so bad that he foolishly compromised the security of his nation by outsourcing vital tasks to the cheaper ninja of Konohagakure. No other Hidden Villages would suffer such an insult to their dedication and loyalty, but because of the low productivity of the land and the crown's chokehold of oil drilling, Sunagakure was especially dependent on its Daimyo for financial stability and so had to grit their teeth and suffer the slight in silence. For such a man, agreeing to fund a project like this would be painful on the same level as selling his firstborn.

If the Kazekage had somehow persuaded such a man to give up that kind of money, then he was far more wily and determined than Jiraiya gave him credit for. On the other side of the table, Saigo smiled, poured herself a cup from a chilled Sake bottle before leisurely sipping from it. They didn't send an invitation.


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He had to ask for it. She was taking obvious pleasure from this sudden in Kaze no Kuni politics that unfolded. It seemed the wind daimyo hadn't offended just his ninja with his scroogy ways. The usual lip work, as you well know. As far as Jiraiya knew, the Wind Daimyo and the current Kazekage hadn't even talked face to face for the last five years. He didn't know a lot of people in the ninja world who genuinely liked the Wind daimyo. Sure Konoha was benefiting from his imprudent decisions, but one could not help but imagine oneself in the place of Suna nins.

Bad rulers were generally not very well liked by ninja who tended to die in droves for nonsensical reasons while under their reign. Apparently Sunagakure had been seeing great changes. They have become… shall we say… far less dependent on coins from the crown and far more committed to bolstering their village's power, and that made the crown very nervous as to where they stood with each other.

Jiraiya supposed they would. It was common sense to not bite the hand that fed one but when the aforementioned hand was no longer feeding, what then? Kaze no Kuni had its own standing army of course but that army had not seen a single conflict in the last years. It was shinobi's blood that flowed in the last century and it was from that blood that bloomed the peace that Kaze no Kuni civilians enjoyed.

Having an autonomous militaristic state inside one's own country was only wise so long as one could control that autonomous state with a sturdy financial leash. If that leash was no longer working….

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Not that the crown of Kaze no Kuni didn't have it coming. They had been slighting their own warriors for years, making one stupid mistake after another, and leaving their ninja to deal with the messy aftermath. But not so delightful to those doing the talking," said Saigo. The Daimyo was too nervous… and too used to the status quo to start on tackling their new dynamic.

The Kazekage was too… set on creating radical changes to tolerate the usual capitalistic nonsense. After the Third Ninja World War, there were bets abound that the village Hidden in the Sand would soon either collapse into itself or crumble down and become a minor village, one of the many on this continent. Their streak of bad luck had held ever since the Second War. Their strength, assets and resources had been bleeding freely since the Second War and the unsuccessful project to resurrect their local ecosystem.

But in the end, it was the Third War that put the nail to the coffin. They had lost their Third Kazekage, supposedly the strongest warrior they had ever produced. He didn't even make it to their main fighting. Rumor was that the man was kidnapped en route while heading to a tertiary outpost near the border.

They never even found the corpse… if there was enough of it left to be found. Their military was devastated, their famed puppeteer corp reduced to a handful of shell-shocked survivors. One had even deserted, turned rogue in the middle of fighting, massacring his own team before taking off to who knew where. Something of the Red Sand. On top of that, they had emerged the loser from a World War and that meant enormous war reparations, crippling economic sanctions, and the cold shoulder from their own royal court.

They had lost the majority of their political holdings and had to give up their share of international commissions from wealthy merchants and clients. There was no way they were going to be able to support their dead, their wounded, their veterans and the leftover families after the war with only the paltry income of domestic commission works. For all intents and purposes, Sunagakure looked to be counting its final days right after the end of the Third Ninja World War.

Konoha was poised to absorb the remains into themselves, poised to annex their unfortunate neighbor. It was either that or let Iwagakure take over the power vacuum uncontested. The Council was ready. Danzo was sharpening his fangs and readying his cohorts. Magnet Release used to extract gold from deep mines. It sounded ridiculous mainly because gold wasn't a ferromagnetic metal. By the law of physics, it should not have been possible to magnet pull gold from mines miles deep underground. It wasn't even a matter of chakra quantity or quality, simply a characteristic inherent to the metal and magnetism science.

But apparently some ninjutsu genius had made a technical breakthrough and luckily for Sunagakure, that genius just so happened to be their brand new Kazekage. It looks like we won't have our own desert division after all. Danzo-san will be heartbroken. The extra territory and clients would be very nice, but he couldn't imagine Iwagakure would let Konoha come in uncontested.

The region right after the Third War was already unstable enough, the land ravaged, the ground dyed red with the blood of their young, some of them not even out of academy. They really didn't need another war to follow in the wake of the Third. The new income from the gold mines had successfully pulled the village from the brink of bankruptcy but the efforts of a single person, even when that person was a genius in his own right, only went so far.

Sunagakure might have avoided dissolution, but the village still languished in the results of a bad economy and back-to-back recessions for years while their neighbor villages gradually regained their pre-war strength and status. A slow decay was preferable to a quick implosion, but not by much. Death was still death whether it came quick or slow. Jiraiya could well imagine that if anyone wanted radical changes in their village, it would be the current Kazekage. The Kazekage and the Daimyo in the same room after years of passive aggressive mail correspondences. The latter nervous with this sudden change in the balance of power, but still sure enough in his status as daimyo to be offended.

The former brimming with restrained resentment and the need to incite change for the good of his people. It must have been a fun show. Jiraiya wished he could be a fly on that wall. She had on the perfect courtesan's coquettish face.

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She relished in this kind of work and something as juicy as this gave her even more pleasure. Anyways, the proposals for both the highway and railway systems came up on the sixth day…". At that moment she looked very much like the cat that had gotten the canary. Then Kazekage-dono brandished his brand new political chip. Now there was a word that had been following Jiraiya of late.

It was not either a name nor an official title. From what he knew, the word came from… some sort of obscure old language among the hundred tribal languages that had died out centuries ago in the desert of Kaze no Kuni. It meant priestess, priest… or something along those lines. For the past half year, it had been making repeated appearances in Jiraiya's ledgers… as the eye of a proverbial storm of activities. The supply of food was a one-of-a-kind beast in Kaze no Kuni and had its own politics.

It had to be with the kind of dead land those people had to live with. Every ten years or so, somebody would come up with some new "miracle", like self-multiplying food, edible clay, or similar idiocy. Sometimes, people would be desperate enough to believe in it, or not. Once in a long while, the government would feel enough pressure from public to do something about it.

The results of their attempts to "do something about it" varied. There were a few moderate successes like the underground channels that eased the water stress of the central region, but most tended to fizzle out and fade pretty quickly. So, when rumors of yet another "miracle" surfaced in Sunagakure, nobody sat up and took notes.

Everyone had expected it to blow over soon, in a month or maybe two at the outside, three months top. Then, out of nowhere, Sunagakure had pulled out of all of their supply contracts with food merchants from Ta, Na, and An no Kuni. Jiraiya hadn't even heard about it until months later.

Apparently neither side had wanted the end of their business relationship advertised. Sunagakure for obvious reasons and the merchants because they didn't want anybody finding out that Suna had discovered the key to quick and extremely cheap food production even in the middle of a desert. It wasn't until the farmers in the big three food production nations—An, Ta, and Na no Kuni—started complaining about the unreasonable decrease in profits from their sales to go-between merchants, did the international market find out.

After that, there were a lot of fluctuations. The market went completely haywire for about a month as town after town in Kaze no Kuni followed the example of Sunagakure and cut their contracts with food sellers, turning to their fellow countrymen for heavily subsidized fresh produce. Suna-based courier businesses became a big hit, for while admission to the civilian level farms were free for all, not everybody had the time or energy to go foraging every day for fresh lettuce and tomatoes.

Jiraiya remembered his incredulity over that piece of news. Fresh from the farms? Sunagakure was built on dead land. That was fact as the sun going up from the east every morning was fact. But apparently while Jiraiya wasn't looking, somebody had gone and changed that because the trade numbers coming out of the Kaze no Kuni ledger books couldn't be faked… at least not on such a massive scale.

That event was the starting point of an international stampede for information. Immediately, everyone with either political or economic interests on the continent started digging for the truth behind what, exactly, had happened. Whatever it was, it had originated from Sunagakure—a ninja village—and so it had to have something to do with the ninja arts, be it experimental ninjutsu or seal work.

It was already a huge economic disruption so it got the notice of nearly all the big merchants and daimyo with sharp business acumen. And since it undoubtedly had something to do with ninja, it also got on the radar of the Hidden Villages. That was when the world had first heard of 'The Miko'. Now here was the part in which things became confusing because nobody was quite sure what 'The Miko' was.

Apparently the title used—which was so archaic that no-one but the uppermost echelons of Sunagakure even knew what it meant anymore—was a deliberate move meant to confuse and complicate matters. Counter intelligence is thick, said the head of Konoha's Sunagakure surveillance team.

It didn't take a genius to figure out that whatever this 'Miko' was, it was a boon to Suna… as well as a major tactical weak point. Hitting the supply lines before anything else had always been a tried and tested tactic in warfare, and this 'Miko' had become the single source of food production in Suna. In other words, a big bullseye with extra red flags for bonus points on it. If a war were to break out and if Suna were involved, Jiraiya bet his outstanding tabs at all the brothels in Hi no Kuni that everybody and their mothers would be gunning for 'the Miko' before the cry of war had even left the throat of the instigator.

It was a good thing that now was a time of peace, or the absolute chaos in that first month of discovery would have been so much more troublesome. Of course the leaders of Sunagakure knew that, and while everybody else was busy thinking this was just another run-of-the-mill, made-in-desperado sham of a miracle, they had taken great pains to prepare a veritable forest of false leads and misdirections. The usual approach when one possessed a critical technological edge over one's competitors was to hide every relevant detail.

This time around, the leaders of Suna had gone the exact opposite and flooded every intelligence channel with information, most of it junk. Around the two and a half month mark from the ground zero of that whole 'Miko' business, Jiraiya had dropped in on the Sunagakure surveillance team in Konoha's Intelligence headquarters, just to see how they were doing, and if anybody had made progress on data analysis. Also, Mira-chan of the analysis team had a hot bod for a mother of two.

She was cold as they came, but Jiraiya could be very persistent. When he came in, the entire room, all eight-hundred square feet of it, was filled… no… flooded almost top to bottom with documents and paper reports on the Suna situation. And standing amidst this white, papery flood and screaming at the top of their voices at each other were no other than Suna surveillance team lead Ashikasa Yoshira and his sub Nene Ojite. We have records from eye witnesses…" screamed Ashikasa. And witness records can be falsified! And there were those reports from sensor agents of abnormal chakra activities around area she was said to have appeared in, in the trees she planted.

She may be an entity similar to the summoned clans! Like… like a human shaped summon! The possibility is not zero. Ain't nothing like a human-shaped summon out there. She looked about a second away from taking Ashikasa's thesis from his hands and rendered it to shreds. That's just your nerdy tendency speaking! You just love the idea that there's an entire clan of summonable pretty girls out there! I know the kind of dirty magazines you keep in your locker Ashi baka! You think you can hide from me? Granted he was standing twenty miles out from the gate of Suna but everybody around her registered just fine.

All humans have chakra pathways. Even the ones born with defective pathways still have something. But she has nothing. She does not register in the Byakugan vision-at-all! That's proof that she's something not human. A tool created by the leaders of Sunagakure to manipulate their own people! This is Sunagakure we are talking about. If anybody can make a puppet realistic enough to pass for a person, it would be a Sunagakure ninja.

Just listen to me! Those Suna folks, they've got more problems than just overpriced rice and potatoes. Their people are fucking nihilists. They lost two fucking World Wars one after another. Their Daimyo is a shit ruler. Their Kage is a cranky miser who fucked up his own son and wife for a loose cannon of a demon. They ain't got no jobs! Their veterans are out on the streets and on state support!

Their unemployment rate is going up the roof and their morale down the gutters. A whole bunch of free potatoes ain't gonna solve their problems! They need a figure to believe in! And their Kage ain't gonna be that person. He's too fucking bloodied already. And what's better at that than semi-divine figure who also appears like an innocent young pretty girl who is secretly a puppet? Not every governing body is that crafty. Majority of them are actually rather stupid and corrupted. Sometimes, too much information was a problem. And that was before the Miko-worshipping cults sprang into existence, adding more misinformation and false evidence in the pile.

After a while, there was talk of partnering up with other villages to attempt to cut through the intel blockade, which did make a sort of sense in Jiraiya's book. The surveillance team in Konoha was not the only party having problems with the shin-deep false rumor crap coming out of Suna. There were teams from other villages around the area as well—Iwa of course, and Kumo, even a team from Grass, and hired help from all the countries whose merchants Suna pissed off by severing business relations—and occasionally they ran into each other while sniffing the same false trails planted by Sunagakure's counter-intelligence division.

Make a temporary truce, pool your resources and share the fruits of success. Made perfect sense in Jiraiya's book. Except… apparently Sunagakure had thought about that as well, because around the time when the various teams from different countries were making contact with each other, they started rolling out… the baits. For weeks, they played hide and seek, luring out overzealous agents made impatient with the lack of progress, then bagging them with traps laid out beforehand. In between such baits and traps, entire teams of Sand ANBU ran interference, causing scouting and infiltration teams from different nations to trip up on each other.

The upside of having a chunk of your workforce without jobs was that you didn't lack for bodies to throw at a problem. Sunagakure took perfect advantage of that. They threw every ninja out of duty they had at counter-intelligence and interference and ruthlessly exploited their home field advantage. Eventually, even the most stubborn teams started having second thoughts. This operation was taking up too many resources and manpower. Captured agents, if not killed outright, could become liabilities.

Sunagakure was making this painfully costly for every party with their nose in its business this time around, and all for a purely economic trade secret. But what was also true was the Hidden Village's largely militaristic natures. Their interest in scouting intelligence on the Sunagakure Miko was to acquire insurance in the case of future wars. They had no interest in kickstarting a war right now by poking too hard nor to spend more than the information was worth. At one point, various nations started deeming the gain of this Miko business to be of lesser value than what they were paying.

Their resources were better used elsewhere, especially when worrying activities were kicking up in other parts of the world; the revolution and brand new Mizukage in Kiri for example, or the political coup happening right then in Ta no Kuni—a strategically placed country with borders pressed against not only Hi no Kuni but also Tsuchi and Kaminari no Kuni. Gradually, the case of Sunagakure's miracle started losing heat and priority in the intelligence divisions of various countries…. He wasn't expecting anything out of Saigo. That case had gone cold for months and that was a lifetime in ninja espionage business.

The Miko was now used as a political chip by the Kazekage. Of course, but only in that country could she—or it, if Nene was right—could be used in that way. When one's village became the new supplier of an entire nation, including much of the noble class, then one had weight to throw around, especially when combined with one's growing financial independence from the crown. It must be a tough place for the Daimyo right now, to see his control on his ninja army slipping. These transnational projects were probably the only way he could keep his control from evaporating completely.

These were clearly in Sunagakure's favor but in the end, these projects—both the transnational highways and railroad system—would tie the village that much tighter to the crown. But… that was just ties to the crown, not the Daimyo. The way Kaze no Kuni politics was going, it wouldn't be unimaginable for there to be a new Daimyo in a year or two. The din beneath them, in the tavern's diner where new settlers dined and drank and made merry, was dying down.

Night had arrived and with it the exhaustion of the day. Jiraiya could hear heavy feet going up the stairs, down the corridors, then into rooms. He heard the sounds of doors closing. From beyond the window of their room, the moon was high and bright and drew a sickle on the skies. From its position, Jiraiya calculated the time to be well over midnight by now. Their talk was turning out longer than he thought it would be.

Long black hair, pale skin, a little petite. Supposedly the single survivor of a deep desert dwelling clan. Official records say the clan was involved in developing experimental Hiden jutsu and it backfired… hard. The girl didn't survive unscathed. Whatever it was that killed her family had scrambled her brain so purportedly she's a little At least, that is what the official records Sunagakure relinquished to its royal court say. Which meant it accounted for squat. Sunagakure trusted its court about as far as it trusted its own child Jinchuuriki.

Not a lot… almost not at all. There's no Higurashi clan in Kaze no Kuni, as far as I know. They followed the outdated system where only certain castes in society were allowed surnames: Sunagakure ninja, despite their contribution to lasting peace in Kaze no Kuni in the last years, was still regarded by the court as 'commoners' and so most of them lacked a surname. The Kazekage clan had once been granted the use of a surname in honor of their high office but declined to stand in solidarity with the majority of their people.

But… the girl could have been an immigrant, perhaps first or second generation… or it could be a codename granted by the village if the records about the family developing experimental Hiden jutsu were true. There were plenty ninja clans out there who had gained their family name by way of their jutsu creations. Konoha's own Inuzuka and Aburame clans were fine examples. Instead of answering, Saigo merely took up a pen and a piece of paper and proceeded to demonstrate. She wrote the girl's given name first. The script used was strange to say the least, archaic… but not quite.

A warped version of incredibly old Kanji and Sogana. Who named this girl? That was a pretty name but somehow that felt like even more diversions. Suppressing a sigh, Jiraiya proceeded to commit this new piece of information to his head. It didn't feel like it would be useful, but it was still a possible lead. Across the table, Saigo had gone quiet suddenly. A coquettish smile spread across her face. The smile sent tingles up Jiraiya's fingers.

You know how this trade is sometimes. Some information doesn't stand the test of time, so… if you don't use it quick… it may… expire. Who knows for sure? It might be nothing, but Saigo was a very good broker. Rare indeed was the time that her information was rendered worthless. She was asking for a year's worth of pay for all the jounin in Konoha. He grew quiet, his head heavy with thoughts. This was… Shock was not strong enough a descriptor to fully communicate across what Jiraiya was feeling now. But there was no way the Council would clear him for that enormous an amount.

And even if they would, all that bureaucratic red tapes meant it would take time. On the other hand, this information was pivotal, especially in light of the new situation that had risen but a month ago. He tried very hard to keep his hand from shaking. It would not do to reveal to an information broker the wonderful revelation Jiraiya had just had.

Or you would not be sweet talking me right now. Saigo was good among the information brokers. She was straightforward and rarely tried to cheat her clients out of their hard-earned money, unlike some others he would rather not name. But that only made it that much harder to trick valuable intel out of her.

Because she did not favor underhanded tactics, she presented no opening for Jiraiya to take, which meant there was only one other course of action open to him. If you wanted information, you needed to give information.