Chapter 148: Unfaltering Loyalty, Shattering Hiruzen’s Defense

Just after the four of them left the meeting room, they noticed a person standing by the window in the corridor. The person was wearing a white windbreaker, and his slender figure was thin but elegant.

He was looking at the scenery outside the window with his hands behind his back as if he was observing something. This was the very Uchiha Tonan who was the primary subject of the argument just now.

Shimura Danzo glanced at him and lightly said, “Little fellow, what a coincidence you are here.” In his heart, however, he thought that Sarutobi Hiruzen had secretly summoned Tonan. Tonan seemed to have just noticed their presence. He turned around and adjusted his glasses, greeting with a smile, “Danzo-sama, Advisors-sama, Orochimaru-sama.”

Tonan behaved very politely. Mitokado Homura and Utatane Koharu both nodded back, thinking this young boy was very well behaved. Although they were on Danzo’s side at this time, most of their reasons were not about going against Hiruzen.

On one hand, Tonan was indeed the best candidate and they didn’t want to go against the Daimyo. But on the other hand, Danzo had given them a promise that they couldn’t refuse.

While walking past Tonan, Danzo patted his shoulder and said with a smile that did not reach his eyes, “Half a year later, we need you to win glory for Konoha. Make extra effort in this time to strengthen yourself.”

Orochimaru’s snake eyes also focused on Tonan, and a look of interest flashed through his narrowed slits. Tonan didn’t respond. He just smiled and watched the four people leave. After they were gone, he walked into the meeting room.

He saw Hiruzen leaning on the chair to rest with his eyes closed. Tonan lightly walked behind him and stretched out his hands. He then rubbed Hiruzen’s temple with his thumb and transmitted some chakra into it, making the massage even more relaxing. After a while, he asked in a quiet voice, “Sensei, what is bothering you?”

Hiruzen took a deep breath and exhaled heavily. Much had happened recently that was giving him a splitting headache. He enjoyed the head massage and the depressing feelings in his heart dissipated a bit. “Why did you come here?”

During this time, Hiruzen felt exhausted both mentally and physically. Since Shinnosuke and Asuma’s death, it could be said that the people to whom Hiruzen attached the most importance were Tonan and Orochimaru.

Orochimaru had been with him for so many years. He had personally watched him grow from an ignorant boy to one of the sannin who shook the Ninja World. He had always been his pride. Unexpectedly though, the student he valued the most betrayed him at a critical moment.

In terms of teacher-disciple relationships, Tonan was Orochimaru’s junior brother. However, he still pushed him into the fire pit of the Capital.

Tonan controlled the strength of his hands and softly said, “I thought of some regulations for the welfare institution. I wanted sensei to help publicize it.”

Hiruzen sighed and took a sip of tea. He waved his hand, “Let’s put the matter of the institution aside for now. The higher-ups just had a meeting. The Daimyo asked you to participate in the Honorary Chunin Competition that will be held in the Fire Capital in half a year. After a vote, this discussion is now finalized and you have to participate.”

Tonan nodded lightly and said, “I don’t have a problem with that. It’s my honor to win glory for the village.”

Hiruzen opened his eyes and held Tonan’s hand. Patting the back of his student’s hand, he earnestly said, “Tonan, you’re still too innocent. Some things are not that simple. Perhaps, I’m truly old. I never expected them to stand together now.” Hiruzen squinted his eyes as he said this.

Hearing his words, Tonan paused and asked, “Is it related to politics?”

A bitter smile appeared on Hiruzen’s face, “What do you understand about these things?” Tonan smiled and replied, “I’m not stupid. I’ve actually seen many things but I’m not interested in paying attention to them. In my heart, as long as the village is fine, and sensei is healthy, I’m satisfied.”

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There were only the two of them in the office, and white smoke was still rising from the smoke pipe on the table. Hiruzen stared at Tonan and compared this junior disciple with Orochimaru. It was only at this moment that he realized the two were not comparable at all.

Although Orochimaru was also intelligent and perceptive, he attached too much importance to personal interests. His heart was uncertain, and he was not loyal enough. But this disciple in front of him was perfect in every aspect. Tonan shared his burdens, liked him, and also had a sense of justice.

Thinking this way, Hiruzen felt strangely relieved. He sighed, “The only thing I’m angry about is that my student, Orochimaru, actually helped Danzo.”

After he spoke, the atmosphere became silent. The light snowflakes were dancing in the air outside the window as if millions of jade scales were falling from the sky. Hiruzen kept his head down with a bit of regret and heartache.

After a long time, Tonan suddenly said, “Sensei.”

“Hmm?”

Tonan looked straight at Hiruzen’s eyes and said with determination, “I’ll always be on your side. If someone goes against you, I’ll do everything in my power to get rid of him. Even if I’ve to use dirty tricks that I abhor, I’ll do it for you.”

Tonan’s eyes glowed with ruthlessness as he resolutely looked at Hiruzen. The latter never thought that Tonan, who had always been courteous, had such a side to him. He asked with a stunned look, “Tonan… what do you mean?”

Tonan looked at Hiruzen with gleaming eyes and warmly said, “Sensei, you’ve dedicated so much to Konoha over the years. You swallowed an insult, considered the big picture, and didn’t go against the Daimyo. Your thinking is so advanced. I’ve always believed you can lead Konoha to glory. Whoever goes against you is going against the village and going against my principles.”

“As your student, if I don’t help you then who will I help? In fact, I’m not so great. Everything I love has its origin in you. For you, even if I’ve to fall into darkness, I’ll do anything. Even if the entire world betrays you, I’ll always be your student.”

Tonan’s tone was powerful and impressive. The more he spoke, the more excited he became. His eyes flickered, and his gaze was filled with admiration when he looked at Hiruzen.

Hiruzen felt deeply disappointed after Orochimaru’s betrayal today. Seeing Tonan’s unfaltering loyalty, the defense he had erected around his heart for so many years was thoroughly shattered.

‘Ding! Gained Sarutobi Hiruzen’s acknowledgment.’

Hiruzen had tears in his eyes, and he said with a touched look, “Good child, just having you to have thought like this is enough. Things haven’t reached that point yet. I’ll take care of this.”

Tonan shook his head and said, “Sensei, I’ll participate in the competition, and win first place. I want everyone to know that I’m the student of the strongest Hokage. I want to be your pride. Please don’t make it difficult for me. Have confidence in me sensei.”

Hiruzen was shocked when he heard Tonan’s words. He nodded repeatedly and said, “Alright, if you need any help, just tell me.”

Tonan smiled and pulled his hand from Hiruzen’s grip. He in turn held Hiruzen’s hand, letting the older man feel the temperature of his palm, the warmth slowly entering his heart.

“Sensei, thank you for taking care of me in the past. Please don’t treat me as a child in the future. Sooner or later, I’ll grow into a tall tree that can shelter Konoha from the wind and rain for you.”

After making this promise, Tonan got up and walked out of the meeting room. When he reached the door, he paused and turned back, “Sensei, give me some time. I’ll definitely be able to help you.”

Tonan strode away after saying that. Hiruzen looked at the door and rubbed his eyes lightly, mumbling, “This child…” He then took a deep breath and his eyes glimmered again. He narrowed his gaze and muttered to himself, “Old friend, I’m sorry. Konoha cannot be destroyed in your hands.”

“Guards.”

“Hokage-sama.”

“Carry out my instruction – the first and second Anbu squads are to start investigating Utatane Koharu and Mitokado Homura. Including the important people of their clans, everyone should be investigated. Anyone who has private dealings, in all cases, whether there is definite evidence or just conjecture, bring them all to me in three days.”

“Yes, Hokage-sama.”


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