Shikamaru Hiden: A Cloud Drifting in Silent Darkness (シカマル秘伝 闇の黙に浮ぶ雲, Shikamaru Hiden — Yami no Shijima ni Ukabu Kumo, Viz:Naruto: Shikamaru’s Story — A Cloud Drifting in the Silent Dark) is an original story written by Takashi Yano and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. It is the second book of the Naruto Hiden series.
Konoha (木の葉, Konoha)
Two years after the end of the Fourth Shinobi World War, Shikamaru Nara lies on the roof of the Hokage Residence in Konohagakure, wondering how his life went so awry. Once, he wanted to spend his days watching the clouds, having an unremarkable life that would end with an unremarkable death. Starting with his promotion to chūnin, however, he was increasingly heaped with responsibilities, culminating with his most recent job of advising the five Kage and coordinating missions for the Shinobi Union, the successor to the Allied Shinobi Forces. Shikamaru decides that he won’t get up until somebody else forces him to.
While watching the sunset, Shikamaru sees one of Sai’s ink birds approaching the office of Kakashi Hatake, the Hokage. Eager to finally have news about Sai’s mission, Shikamaru rushes to the Hokage to hear his report. During the War and every month since then, a large number of shinobi (almost exclusively young, single men) have been deserting their hidden villages and then disappearing. The number of missions has also seen an unusually sharp decline. From investigating both matters, Kakashi believed the Land of Silence – a samurai-run country on a distant continent – was involved. He sent Sai and a team of ten Anbu to investigate.
Kakashi and Shikamaru are concerned by a number of things in Sai’s message: the clear haste it was written with, not having Sai’s characteristically clear handwriting; his report that his entire team has gone missing; his warning of the threat posed by Gengo, the Land of Silence’s strangely charismatic leader; Sai’s choice of words that suggest he is awed by Gengo and doubtful of the Shinobi Union. What troubles them most, however, is the fact that Sai did not deliver the report in person. It is apparent to Kakashi that, if nothing is done, the Union will inevitably go to war with the Land of Silence. In order to avoid this, Gengo must be assassinated. Shikamaru does not hesitate to volunteer for the job, chiefly so that he can try to find Sai.
At the next monthly meeting of Union representatives in the Land of Iron, Shikamaru is distant with his peers. Temari of Sunagakure, his greatest ally in these meetings, questions him about his behaviour afterwards. He upsets her by refusing to tell her anything. When he gets back to Konoha he has dinner at Yakiniku Q with his friends, Chōji Akimichi and Ino Yamanaka, intent on asking for their help with assassinating Gengo, but cannot bring himself to involve them in such an affair. Before leaving on his mission he visits the graves of his father, Shikaku, and his teacher, Asuma Sarutobi. At the latter’s he runs into Kurenai and Mirai Sarutobi, Asuma’s lover and daughter respectively. Shikamaru reminds himself of his promise to Asuma to train Mirai, and as such becomes determined not to die on his mission.
Kakashi assigns two Anbu to assist Shikamaru with his mission: Rō, who can disguise his and others’ chakrasignatures, and Soku, who can shoot lethal and unavoidable Chakra Needles. They leave the village in secret early the following morning. After he’s gone, Naruto Uzumaki talks to Sakura Haruno about Sai’s long absence and Shikamaru’s recent cold behaviour. He knows Shikamaru is working hard with the goal of making him the next Hokage, but Naruto can’t help but wonder if he’s worth whatever risks Shikamaru is taking. In Sunagakure, Temari shares her own worries about Shikamaru with the Fifth Kazekage. Gaara, like Temari, assumes Shikamaru is on some assignment for Konoha too important to share with them. Although he trusts Konoha has a good reason for the secrecy, he gives Temari permission to investigate what Shikamaru is doing and lend him whatever support she wishes to.
The Land of Silence (黙の国, Shijima no Kuni)
It takes Shikamaru’s team three days of nonstop travel to reach the Land of Silence and another day to infiltrate the capital city. Even though Gengo is, in effect, the country’s daimyō, there are none of the usual telltale signs of a daimyō’s presence on the streets of the capital. The closest similarities are the actions of cloaked figures, who are treated with deference by the citizens. They recognise one of these cloaked figures as Minoichi, a Konoha Anbu who disappeared during the War. Shikamaru questions him and Minoichi eventually admits under duressthat he is an Enlightened One: a shinobi who has seen the truth in Gengo’s words and seeks to help him revolutionise the world.
They capture two more Enlightened Ones so that they each have enough a cloak to disguise themselves with. From interrogating them, they learn that Gengo and his Enlightened Ones overthrew the previous daimyō and now rule the country. The Enlightened Ones all speak reverently of Gengo and criticise the shinobi system. And yet, the Land of Silence offers shinobi services (albeit at significantly cheaper prices), and so they are only reproducing the very system they claim to hate. Shikamaru, Soku, and Rō are all confused by this evident self-loathing.
They attend a rally the next day where Gengo delivers a speech to an enraptured crowd. Shikamaru and his team do not find his words at all impressive, but nevertheless cannot deny an allure to what he says. Shikamaru moves close enough to Gengo to use the Shadow Imitation Technique, intending to restrain him so that Soku can kill him with her Chakra Needles. However, his shadow refuses to be used against Gengo, who inexplicably discovers their presence. Shikamaru rushes at Gengo in order to perform the assassination himself, but is intercepted by Sai, now an Enlightened One. Sai attacks him with numerous ink tigers and Shikamaru tries to counter with his Shadow Sewing Technique, but Gengo commands his shadow to stop. Shikamaru is captured and imprisoned, forced to listen to the tortures of Rō and Soku while he must only endure occasional smalltalk from Gengo.
After ten days they are brought before Gengo. Gengo asks Shikamaru to become his right-hand man. When Shikamaru refuses, Gengo observes that shinobi, despite their importance to the world and their almost transcendent power, are outnumbered and ruled by ordinary people; legendary figures within the shinobi world, such as Naruto Uzumaki and Madara Uchiha, are virtually unknown to the common man. Shikamaru cannot argue Gengo’s points and finds his words compelling. When Gengo asks him if shinobi should be in charge, Shikamaru can’t bring himself to say, “No.” He starts doubting his mission to kill Gengo, only now realising that the shinobi world he’s fought so hard for all his life is small in the grand scheme.
Gengo adds that it is the normal people in charge, the daimyō, who continue to have conflicts between each other, and it is the shinobi who fight and die to resolve those conflicts. Rō and Soku, despite having been tortured by Gengo’s command, agree that this is unjust. Although he wants to agree, a small place of defiance in his heart causes Shikamaru to ask why he must be subordinate to Gengo. Gengo is impressed by his continued refusal and gives Shikamaru permission to kill him if he wants. He starts to suspect Gengo is using a genjutsu not dependent on eye contact, but he gives up before figuring it out, deciding it doesn’t matter.
Just as Shikamaru is about to join hands with Gengo, a gust of wind lifts him into the air and then drops him on the ground. He sees that it is the doing of Temari and, from her appearance and her words, Gengo’s influence over him disappears. Enlightened Ones start to engage Temari’s Sunagakure forces while Shikamaru resumes his discussion with Gengo. He finally deduces that Gengo’s voice is laced with genjutsu. Now aware of this, the things Gengo say no longer have power over him and his lack of interest only flusters Gengo. Shikamaru still can’t refute Gengo’s points, but the fact that Gengo wants to replace the world that Naruto and Temari occupy is reason enough for him to disagree.
Shikamaru (シカマル, Shikamaru)
Gengo loses his composure and strikes at Shikamaru with a kunai, which Shikamaru blocks with a kunai thrown to him by Temari. They trade blows and words, with Shikamaru deciding that, rather than the unremarkable life he used to want, he’d prefer dedicating himself to creating a peaceful world where it doesn’t matter whether or not a person is a shinobi. He overpowers Gengo, who blames Shikamaru’s new resolve on Temari’s appearance. Sai forces Shikamaru to release him and Gengo attempts to use his voice on the Suna shinobi, but Temari, at Shikamaru’s instruction, fills the chamber with gales of wind so that nobody can hear him. Gengo flees and Shikamaru goes after him.
Sai attempts to stop Shikamaru but his way is blocked by Temari, who has been desperately searching for Shikamaru ever since he left for the Land of Silence. She summons Kamatari to destroy Sai’s ink animals, but he pierces through her giant folding fan to stab her with a kunai. He moves in for a finishing blow with tears in his eyes, but he’s restrained by Chōji. Sakura heals Temari’s wound and Ino delves into Sai’s mind in order to break Gengo’s hold over him. She finds him trapped deep in his consciousness, wrapping himself with memories of his friends. She helps him break out and he thanks her with a heartfelt smile.
Shikamaru follows Gengo into a closed room. The room is too dark for Shikamaru to use his shadow, forcing him to go on the defence. He uses his other senses to locate Gengo, dodge his sword swings, and disarm him several times. When his friends arrive and open a door to provide some light, Shikamaru communicates a plan to Soku and Rō — freed from Gengo’s genjutsu — with Ino’s help. Shikamaru distracts Gengo with shadow cloneswhile Rō hides his chakra, allowing him to manoeuvre behind Gengo. He restrains Gengo with his shadow and Soku uses a Chakra Needle on his tongue, robbing him of his ability to talk. Defeated, Gengo is taken into custody.
The damage to Gengo’s tongue causes his influence over the Enlightened Ones to disappear. As such, they stop fighting the Suna forces; though some Enlightened Ones were injured, none were killed due to the express instructions of the Kazekage. Shikamaru checks on Sai and assures him that he is not to blame for anything he did while under Gengo’s control. Just as he leaves Sai’s side, however, Shikamaru is immediately assaulted by Naruto, who is upset that Shikamaru would put himself in danger without telling him. Shikamaru promises to never keep anything from Naruto ever again.
Most of the Konoha and Suna forces return to their villages, with a small force (including Naruto) remaining behind to help the Land of Silence return to normalcy after Gengo’s arrest. Shikamaru delays Temari from leaving with the others in order to ask her out on a date. She responds with, “How troublesome.”
End (仕舞, Shimai)
Kakashi gives Shikamaru some time off when he gets back to Konoha. Unlike before, he is able to relax at ease, unworried about any Union activity that may be going on without him; he is confident that his friends can handle anything that comes up, and if they do need him then he can become available without difficulty or protest. When Shikamaru returns to work after a week, Kakashi offers him a mission that, while important, can be accomplished by almost anyone. For that reason, he turns down the mission, as he has a date with Temari the next day.
Several years later, a new challenge faces Shikamaru: what to name his and Temari’s infant son.
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