Prologue: Part II

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Part II

The figure trudged through the sand, covered by cloth the same color as the desert floor.

The face was hidden, dark eyes barely glinting through the wrappings that protected from the wind and the sand and the sun. He or she walked with a slow, shuffling gate; one that would minimize energy loss; one that could be maintained for hours; one that hid the tracks that would show the person was travelling alone.

The figure's destination soon became apparent when large walls slowly rose above the horizon. His or her shoulders rose slightly at the sight, but the pace remained the same, neither quickening nor slowing. He or she knew that in the desert, things could be much farther away than they appeared. Just as it was in life.

The desert had many lessons to teach.

The sun had begun to set, though that did nothing to abate the blistering heat. The sand would retain its warmth for some hours more, until the chill of night set in. The cold could come more quickly than most were prepared for. Just as it was in life.

The desert could be a harsh teacher.

Long shadows jumped out from shifting sand dunes. The desert was just another sea; it simply moved more slowly. Every day you could look out upon it's waves and see that nothing had changed, day by day, but then, suddenly, looking back, everything was different. Just as it was in life.

The desert spared no one from its truths.

When the figure was approximately fifty yards away from the walls, two figures jumped down to confront him or her. Everyone and everything froze but the desert's constantly shifting sands.

"State your purpose, stranger," the older shinobi ordered, voice roughened from the desert's wind and unwavering sun. Silence rang for several moments. The shinobi pair tightened the grips they had on their weapons, prepared for resistance. They would defend their home to the death.

The figure studied the pair in silence. His or her stance didn't even shift as the two guards prepared for any possible attack. Then, finally, the figure opened his or her mouth to speak. "I will see your Kazekage," the figure said, rasping voice dry as the desert air. The voice was harsh, as though the woman—it was now clear by her voice that the figure was female—had spent hours screaming at the severe and unrelenting truths the desert had chosen to reveal to her.

"You may see the Kazekage if we deem that you will not be a threat to him." This time it was the younger shinobi who spoke, and his voice cracked halfway through. He couldn't be older than twenty one. The woman shifted slightly, tilting her head as though either amused or choosing the best place to strike. Maybe it was a mixture of the two.

"I will see your Kazekage," she repeated.

"We can't let you do that," the older shinobi growled. "Not until we are sure you are not a threat."

Silence—the kind found only in the desert—grew around the three. The woman broke it, just as the desert had broken her.

"And if I was?"

"Excuse me?" The older shinobi asked, wondering vaguely whether he should attack even though the girl hadn't yet been proven as hostile to the village.

"If I was a threat," she spoke calmly, demanding the shinobi to follow her logic. "If I had come here to assassinate your Kazekage, do you think you could stop me?"

"What are you getting at?" the younger questioned agressively. His voice trembled, and he wiped at his sweating upper lip with an equally shaking hand.

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