Chapter 101: Awaiting Opportunity, Flute In The Forest
Half a month quickly passed. Uchiha Tonan did nothing during this time. After all, Sarutobi Hiruzen was still full of anger, and he didn’t want to enter his line of sight to avoid attracting any misfortune.
A qualified hunter must know how to wait for an opportunity before getting into action. Must be able to bear loneliness, restrain impulse, and resist temptation.
Now, half a month had passed. For a politician with rigorous schemes and deep foresight like Hiruzen, this much time was enough to heal the pain of losing his sons. Tonan was ready to make a move.
Early in the morning, the red sunlight had just lit up the Hokage Rock. At this moment, Tonan was sitting on a big tree above the Rock. He had found some bamboo and used a kunai to carve it into a flute.
After carefully calculating the time according to Hiruzen’s schedule, Tonan moved the flute near his mouth and played it softly. The bleak sound spread in the forest above the Hokage Rock.
Tonan’s flute playing skill was acquired from an anonymous courtesan. The courtesan was imprisoned in a brothel, and Tonan gained her acknowledgment on the day he exterminated the underground brothels. But just that afternoon Tonan acquired her skills. How she died — Tonan neither knew nor cared.
Today, this flute playing skill came in handy. In less than a minute after Tonan started playing, Hiruzen came to the platform above the Hokage Rock. And he looked down at Konoha that was gradually becoming livelier.
Ever since the Fire Captial incident, Hiruzen was filled with rage, grief, and doubts. But due to several reasons, he had nowhere to release these ill feelings.
His wife, Sarutobi Biwako, was stationed in the sealing squad, instructing the younger generation to monitor the barrier, throughout the year. After learning about Shinnosuke’s death without a corpse and Asuma missing, she returned home and fought with Hiruzen, parting on bad terms.
She threatened she would never return home if Asuma was not found. During this time, Hiruzen felt a hint of loneliness. He could only come to the Hokage Rock to relax every morning and then use the busy Hokage work schedule to numb himself.
Perhaps, because he had many experiences of parting never-to-meet again, he had already come to accept this. His mood gradually became calmer, and his grief also diminished.
Just when Hiruzen sighed looking at Konoha below, he heard a mournful and heart-rendering flute sound, coming from the forest. Almost instantly, it broke Hiruzen’s guard.
He stood there in a daze, listening to the melancholic sound, and memories of his time together with Shinnosuke and Asuma flashed in his mind. Indescribable grief surged in his heart, and it resonated with that flute sound.
After listening for a while, Hiruzen subconsciously moved and walked towards the origin of the sound. He walked up the stairs and entered the forest. He took a few dozen steps and then realized he had taken the wrong path and changed the direction.
Finally, he pushed aside the tall bush in front of him and saw the person who was playing the flute. He saw Tonan sitting on a tree branch leaning his back against the trunk. His eyes were drooping, and he was playing the flute with a downcast look.
It was as if he was expressing his grief by playing the flute. The morning breeze blew Tonan’s robe, and green leaves flew past Hiruzen’s line of sight.
Hiruzen reached out his hand and grabbed a leaf, murmuring in an inaudible voice, "When the tree leaves dance, the fire will also grow endlessly."
This sentence was a bit lousy and almost messed up Tonan’s rhythm. Fortunately, he was focused enough. He didn’t reveal any unusualness and continued to concentrate on playing the flute.
Tonan could understand Hiruzen. After all, as a ninja, how high could his education be? It was already hard to come up with a sentence or two that sounded a bit philosophical. Naturally, he would keep repeating it over and over again.
Hiruzen looked at Tonan and thought he was still immersed in the grief of Shinnosuke’s death.
He coughed, which seemed to wake Tonan up with a start. The flute stopped abruptly. He turned his head to look and after seeing the person who came was Hiruzen, he jumped down from the tree.
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Keeping a distance of about five meters from Hiruzen, Tonan put his hands on his knees and bowed, "Hokage-sama, I’m truly sorry, I didn’t expect to disturb you."
Hiruzen sighed, and waved his hand at Tonan, signaling him to follow. The two came to the platform above the Hokage Rock. Hiruzen stood in front of the railing, looking down at the entire Konoha. "Tonan, I know that Shinnosuke’s death has hit you hard. But if Shinnosuke was still alive, he wouldn’t want to see you depressed because of him."
Tonan knew that Hiruzen seemed to be consoling him by saying this. But in fact, it was just another way to remind him of Shinnosuke. He lowered his head woefully, and answered, "Yes."
Hiruzen sighed. He turned to look at Tonan who was still keeping a distance from him, and frowned slightly, "I noticed you seemed to be keeping a distance from me ever since you returned to the village. Are you hiding something from me?"
Tonan was shocked to hear this. He said nothing but looked sadder. Hiruzen looked at his expression and ruled out the possibility of Tonan betraying him. He sighed again, "Tonan, you have grown up. You are already hiding things from me now."
While speaking, he walked toward Tonan and wanted to rub his hair like before. However, when Tonan saw Hiruzen approaching him, he took a few steps back with a panicked look. He then used a pleading tone and said, "Hokage-sama, please don’t come close to me."
"Tonan, what’s wrong?" Hiruzen asked in confusion.
Tonan lowered his head and said, looking miserable, "I… I’m an ominous person. Father, mother, Teno-san, Chiryo, Mina, Grandpa Motoyoshi, White Fang-sama, Shinnosuke-senpai, and Asuma… everyone I hold dear and respect, died one after another."
Hiruzen raised his eyebrows a little and shook his head, "Tonan, these are all accidents and have nothing to do with you."
Tonan opened his eyes and activated his Sharingan. His majestic chakra overflowed everywhere. Then, he shouted, "But what if it’s true! In fact, I’ve long suspected this. So, I specifically distanced myself from Kakashi, Minato-sensei, and Kushina-senpai. After the incident in the Fire Capital, I’m more certain that I’m an ominous person. Hokage-sama, please don’t come near me, I’m afraid you will one day…"
Hiruzen sensed that Tonan’s chakra amount was already comparable to a jonin and narrowed his eyes a little.
"What power… he’s already far surpassed Kakashi."