Sarutobi Hiruzen was beginning to feel angry. In a meeting at the Hokage Office, he looked straight at Shimura Danzo and said, “Anyone else is fine, but not Tonan. Both Shinnosuke and Asuma are dead. Do you want me to send my disciple to risk his life as well?”
Seeing the atmosphere tense, Mitokado Homura said in a low voice, “Hiruzen, what happened with Shinnosuke is already in the past. We can only say that he participated in a vortex and fell victim to the political struggle. As for Asuma, the Daimyo has already made a statement that it had nothing to do with him. I guess it was enemy spies adding fuel to the fire. You cannot fall for such tricks.”
Hiruzen glanced at Homura and then looked at Danzo. As if understanding what was going on, he angrily roared, “Don’t force me, Danzo. I’ve been indulging you because I consider us companions. Do you think I don’t know you’ve been secretly communicating with the Daimyo? Do you think I don’t know that you have been regularly getting large funds from him?”
Danzo seemed wronged hearing Hiruzen’s words, and asked with a look of disbelief, “Hiruzen, how can you slander me like this! Everything I do is for Konoha. Since you disagree, let’s put the decision to vote.”
Homura hesitated for a bit and lightly coughed, “Hiruzen, the Daimyo has already succeeded to the throne. From his attitude, he’s not willing to go against Konoha. Even the financial support for Konoha has increased a lot during this time. He is already showing goodwill, and we should also move forward. We know you can’t stop worrying about Tonan but think about it. The Daimyo has no reason to harm him.”
Watching the one-sided play put on by Danzo and Homura, Hiruzen’s face darkened and his tone was not good as he said, “You mean you support Danzo. Koharu, what about you?”
Utatane Koharu secretly glanced at the confident Danzo. She didn’t dare to look at Hiruzen and said in a low voice, “I’ll remain neutral.”
When Hiruzen heard this, the hand holding the smoke pipe tightened.
At this time.
Knock, knock, knock.
Hiruzen coldly asked, “Who’s it?”
An Anbu member’s voice came through, “Hokage-sama, Orochimaru-sama is here.”
Hiruzen narrowed his eyes and then thought of something, “Let him in.”
Orochimaru, who was wearing a flak jacket, walked into the conference room with a faint smile on his face. He looked at the people in the meeting room and his gaze stopped at Hiruzen. He said with a smile, “Sensei, it seems I came at the wrong time.”
Hiruzen said with a warm face, “No, you came at the right time.”
Hiruzen then lightly commented to Danzo and the others, “I think Orochimaru is fully qualified to vote on this matter as well. After all, his achievements are nothing to scoff at. What do you all think?”
Even before Homura and Koharu could open their mouths, Danzo was the first to agree, “I have no opinion. In terms of qualifications and strength, I think Orochimaru is fully qualified to participate in high-level decision making.”
Danzo’s quick agreement made the originally confident Hiruzen feel a shadow of a doubt. He began to explain things to Orochimaru, “Orochimaru, this is what we are discussing. The Daimyo is going to hold the Five Great Countries Honorary Chunin Competition in the Fire Capital, in a display of power. He called Tonan to represent the Land of Fire in this competition but I think Tonan’s current strength and experience are not enough, so he’s not a suitable candidate. I wonder what is your opinion on this.”
Orochimaru didn’t look surprised at all upon hearing Hiruzen’s words. He pondered for a moment and replied, “Tonan? As sensei’s student, and the number one new genius of Konoha, I think no one is more suitable than him.”
Hiruzen narrowed his eyes and continued to remind his student, “Orochimaru, you might not be familiar with Tonan. Although he’s a genius, a genius also needs time to grow.”
Who would have thought that Orochimaru completely ignored Hiruzen’s signal and leisurely said, “Tonan is your disciple, I believe he’s capable.”
Hiruzen now completely understood the situation. Orochimaru was already on Danzo’s side and he was not here to support him but to add weight to Danzo’s position. This was blatant betrayal, and this betrayal was from the disciple he had always relied on.
At this moment, Danzo tapped a few times on the table with his finger, and said with a victorious smile, “Hiruzen, since Orochimaru also agrees, do you still want to stop this? We are all thinking from the village’s perspective. Uchiha Tonan is indeed the best choice.”
Hiruzen stared at Orochimaru for a while, and his face was gloomy as he lightly nodded, “Very good, Orochimaru, you’ve grown so much that even I can’t understand you.”
Orochimaru innocently replied, “Sensei, I don’t understand what you are talking about. I just considered things from an objective viewpoint. You can ignore it if you think what I said was wrong.”
Hiruzen retracted his gaze and stared at the table. He began to smoke again and stopped speaking. After a few breaths, HIruzen recovered his calm and said, “I think it’s necessary to ask the concerned person’s opinion on this as well.”
It was Danzo’s turn to fly off the handle. He slammed the table and shouted, “Hiruzen, you’re being impulsive. Uchiha Tonan is a Leaf ninja first and then your student. This test is to represent the village and is also an assigned mission. Could it be that this matter is over just because he said he is unwilling to participate? Then, what’s the use of us old men? Should we just stop managing the village and let them do whatever they please?”
Hiruzen took a deep breath and blew out smoke from his nostrils. He placed the smoke pipe on the table and slowly got up, looking straight at Danzo, saying word by word, “Shimura Danzo, is this your attitude towards the Hokage?”
The two people stared at each other for a few seconds before Danzo admitted defeat. He sat down on the chair and lowered his head, “The village needs a fair leader. If someone wants to use official authority for private interest, I’ll be the first person to oppose him. The Will of Fire in my heart doesn’t allow me to turn a blind eye to this.”
His words were impeccable and filled with stern righteousness. Hiruzen knew that if he continued to argue, he would lose more than he would gain.
Would the past Danzo dare to speak to me like this? It’s because ever since the new Daimyo assumed office, every time he gave funds to the village, he would also privately line Danzo’s pockets heavily. The prices have been skyrocketing, and on many occasions, for the village’s development, Hiruzen had to lower his head to Danzo for money.
At this moment, he felt like a mere figurehead. It seemed that most of the power he had in the past had slipped off at some point. Hiruzen sat down, leaned back on the chair, and sighed, “Alright, since you’ve all decided, then let Tonan participate. You can all leave now.”
After hearing Hiruzen’s words, Danzo smiled and took the lead to get up and leave. Orochimaru and Homura followed behind. Only then did Koharu stand up and said, “Hiruzen…”
However, before she could say anything more, Danzo turned his head and gave her a cold look. Koharu swallowed back her words and left with her head lowered.