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While you both appear to differ, in the end you are nothing but equals. What you inherited from my power is not "proof of strength" but "proof of lineage." You are both responsible for teaching what I have taught and speaking what I have spoke. In time, when you both are older, maybe you will acknowledge the fact that simply being stronger or wiser does not put you above the other... but allows you to act as a platform, a platform that the other can stand on. Separated you are strong, but together... you may even surpass your old father.

—The Sage of the Six Paths speaking to his sons in their youth.

Flames of War Edit

The Uchiha clan, a proud and strong group feared and respected by many. Led by the will of Madara Uchiha, they have existed in this world for as far back as anyone can remember. Their power dwarfs all and their strength lies in their eyes. Fueled by their hatred of the Senju clan that has sparked war since the dawning of the ninja, the Uchiha have named themselves "the worlds strongest."

"I need you to lead the clan in my stead while I am gone brother." Madara said as the two walked through the wide fields that lied just a couple of yards away from their home. Madara had taken to wearing a more casual attire as he spoke to his brother, not seeing an overwhelming need to be "ready for war" on their own lands. Despite not wearing his armor, a war fan marked with three tomoe rested on his back.

"Are you sure about this Madara-san, the Senju could easily be forging some sort of trap for you. If they capture you we will surely lose this war." Izuna said worriedly. Like his brother, Izuna lacked any formal armor yet Izuna was not armed for battle as the clan leader was.

"I don't put it passed them," Madara said, considering his words before he spoke them aloud. He gave a glance to his brother and sighed. "I tell you this in confidence Izuna, I am looking to do what is best for the clan. If the Senju have some form of treaty worked out that I can consider, I don't see the harm in at least reading it over." Madara spoke with a sense of calmness, one that was unlike him. He placed a hand onto his brothers shoulder and nodded towards their homes.

Izuna gave his older brother a smile, finding great comfort in such strong words. "I'm not sure if this is Madara I'm talking to, the real Madara would have surely drawn his weapon at the name of the Senju even being mentioned!" Izuna said with a chuckle.

Madara shook his head in amusement at his brothers comment. "We all need to open our eyes once and a while brother. Despite our eyes, the Sharingan can not always see what is there. It sees what we want it to see, not the reality."

The two had left the fields and made their way into the large house, bearing the crest of the Uchiha. Izuna promptly sat on a chair that lied besides a table where a quill and ink rested. "Is this the letter you intend on giving Hashirama?" Izuna asked.

Madara, having already placed on his breastplate, nodded at his brother. "Yes, I clearly outline the fact that a treaty would be best for both of us. If Hashirama is serious about this treaty, I plan on taking it seriously."

"The clan seems unsure of a treaty Madara," said Izuna whose eyes were glued to the treaty before him. "So much blood has been spilled, they would not like to see the culprits be given a slap on the wrist."

"Blood has been spilled on both sides Izuna, we have killed just as many of their clansmen as they have ours and they still extended the idea of a treaty. The point of this is not to settle old scores, but assure no more conflict arises." Madara said, now in full apparel. Madara seemed unsure as he spoke these words and Izuna spotted the subtly in his voice.

"Are you so ready to believe that love and camaraderie will bring peace to this world? Izuna asked.

Madara closed his eyes and turned from his brother, letting out a sigh of displeasure as he did so. "Izuna, we both have seen the darkness that lies in this world. Love, friendship, unity are not strong enough to end the wars and bring peace... while power is." he said without hesitation. "But —" Madara said. "With our power and the Senju's belief of love and unity, we might be able to achieve peace." Madara's words no longer carried a sense of doubt. He spoke strongly and with certainty. What was best for the Uchiha was his only care in this world and if that meant a treaty with the man he swore to kill with his own hands one day, he would seal his hatred away in the name of the Uchiha.

Hashirama silently walked down a dirt path; his and his companion's footsteps being the only noise in the area. For some odd reason, a reason Hashirama could never fully explain, nature seemed to stop everything it was doing when the Senju clansman was in the vicinity. He had been told by the clan-head before him that this was common for the leader of the Senju. Even though Hashirama knew this, he couldn't help but think it was something more when it came to him.

As the Senju leader walked down the makeshift street, he turned to his partner, Keigai Uzumaki. The two men were great friends, as well as allies. Due to being distant cousins, the two men had worked together since a young age. The duo were known for their many abilities and great strategies, making the toughest opponents mere child's play when together. Today - instead of going into combat - they were on their way to a Senju outpost near the Senju-Uchiha borderlands to offer a treaty to the leader of the Uchiha clan: Madara Uchiha. The three shinobi had a very lengthy history together, known, collectively, as the Three Great Rivals to the rest of the world.

Keigai was the first to break the silence. "Hashirama-sama, are you absolutely sure that we should make this treaty with those dastardly Uchiha? You know how devious they can - and will - be."

"Keigai," Hashirama started. "this war between our clans has gone on long enough. It is time for all of us to swallow our pride and put aside our petty differences to create a more peaceful world. If we let this go on any further, I'm sure all three of our clans will be slaughter by one another. This treaty is our only chance to prevent such a future from coming to fruition." Closing his eyes for a moment, the Senju clansman went over his plan in his head, making sure there were no loose ends needing to be tied up. Opening his eyes, Hashirama realized they were only a few kilometers away from the outpost.

It appeared the Senju leader had put his cousin at a lost for words, as Keigai didn't respond immediately following Hashirama's peace speech as he would normally. After a lengthy amount of time has passed, the Uzumaki clansman finally spoke. "Okay, Hashirama-sama; I trust your judgment."

Hashirama merely smiled at the comment. "This is gonna be a night where history is made." the man thought as the duo continued on their path towards the outpost.

Madara stood atop a large grassy hill, overlooking the compound where the meeting was to take place. His eyes were aglow a crimson hue, marked with intricate designs around each pupil. These eyes were the Sharingan. Even from his position high up on the hill, Madara could see both Hashirama Senju and Keigai Uzumaki make their way into the compound. He knew that Hashirama had most likely sensed him as well and didn't want to make his rival wait any longer.

Leaping down the hill, Madara took up speed towards the compound. It was a secure center that lied between his peoples land and the Senju's own. There would be no interruptions and hopefully no hindrances.

Landing before the large torii doorway, he had taken note that Hashirama and Keigai had already entered. "Here is goes..." he thought to himself, slowly making his way in.

His chakra was distinguished, Madara's. Hashirama had sensed it at least ten minutes before the Uchiha clansman was even in sight. Immediately after his rival entered the compound, the Senju clansman turned to the doorway, greeting Madara with a nod; he made it a point to not make eye contact. Having battled the man many a times, Hashirama knew - quite well, if he said so himself - that Madara's sharingan could place anyone under an incredibly powerful illusion from simple eye contact.

Following Keigai and Madara's exchanged of greetings, the Senju leader took control of the situation. "Please, Madara, sit." he requested as he motioned towards a table situated at the center of the single room of the outpost. After everyone had taken a seat at the table - Hashirama and Keigai on one side, while Madara sat on the other - Hashirama began the peace discussion.

"Well, I thank you for meeting with us, Madara. I understand that this is a painful event, but we must remember that this is to secure the future of our respective clans. Here, I extend a treaty from the Senju and Uzumaki clans to the Uchiha, hoping to resolve our conflicts and come together to form a nation of clans. I have already invited other clans in and around the Land of Fire to join our movement, but we all know that our three clans united would be more convincing than just the Senju and Uzumaki. The ball is in your court, my dear rival." Hashirama plainly stated. He had thrown everything onto the table; Madara would be the one to make the final decision.

Madara remained silent for several seconds, having taken note that both Hashirama and Keigai refused to make eye contact. To extend a treaty of peace to him then have doubts of his loyalty, this was the Senju that he has always known.

Madara folded his hands in front of his face and began to speak. "My people have doubts of this joint alliance, they are not so willing to forget our pasts," Madara said with a heavy drawn out sigh. "I have no doubts that your own people—" Madara shot a look at Keigai "—are not as willing to accept a treaty of peace."

"I assure you, my friend, that there are only a few who feel this way, with Keigai being the only higher-up within our clans having doubts." Hashirama stared directly into Madara's eyes as he spoke; he knew how the Uchiha could twist any sort of gesture into an insult. The lack of eye contact was one of them. "Madara, I am fully prepared to treat the Uchiha as if they are my own family if you were to accept this treaty. However, this treaty is a one-time offer; I won't ask again." the Senju leader said with a powerful tone in his voice.

He had laid everything out on the table; it was up to Madara to choose which path he'd walk down with his clan.

Madara's eyes locked with Hashirama, if he desired, he could quickly snatch the Senju clan leader under his all powerful eyes and force him to submit to his will. The thought of taking Hashirama under his control and slitting his throat, which spat nothing more then condescending comments.

With each second Madara looked into Hashirama's eyes, he grew even angrier. The smug superiority that emitted from the Senju was enough to leave a bad taste in Madara's mouth. His previous positive intuition of a "treaty" was slowly becoming nothing more then a grayed out concept that sounded wrong in every way possible to Madara. Madness! The Uchiha, allies with the Senju? It was nonsense in every sense in the word.

"Tell me Hashirama...what happens if our clans form this alliance?"

Hashirama smirked at the question. "Well, the Uzumaki would open the trade route between the Land of Fire and the Land of Water to the Uchiha, which I know your clan has desired for many months now. The treaty would also allow us to create a village of sorts for the people of the Land of Fire, as one of my goals is to unite this country we reside in and establish a government of sorts. However, that type of future will forever be out of grasp if this treaty falls through." the Senju clansman said, hoping his rival would finally see through the clouded vision of the Uchiha and accept the treaty.

Madara was on the fence about this statement; the Uchiha did indeed desire the trade route between the Land of Fire and Land of Water, but would he be willing to forsake everything his clan stood for? "What is stopping us from taking the trade route on our own? Do not pretend to not know that I have an outlet of Uchiha stationed near the border for that very reason." Madara had a maniacal grin on his face. "Could it be that you are scared to lose this trade route, that you are willing to form a treaty just to keep control. It sounds just like you Hashirama..."

The smirk the man had previously worn was immediately exchanged for a powerful glare directed towards Madara. "I see where you're trying to take this discussion, and I will not allow you do so. I do not have any ulterior motives, and I find it incredibly disrespectful that you'd jump to such conclusions. Like I have said, this is your first and only offer of peace." Hashirama was a patient man, but even he had his breaking points...

Madara rose himself from the chair opposite of both Keigai and Hashirama, closing his eyes and turning away from the two clan leaders. "I'll be adjourning to my quarters for the day, we'll pick up this discussion in the morning." Madara said as he began to walk off. "I trust that you do not try anything in my sleep Hashirama, we don't want to start a war now... do we?" Madara said with a sarcastic tone.

No longer able to hold his tongue, Keigai stood up with furious fire within eyes. "How dare you speak to Hashirama-sama in such a condescending tone?! He has been all but civil to you for the entirety of this meeting and you have given him no respect in any way, shape or form! I demand that yo-" Keigai was stopped midway through his sentence by a wave of Hashirama's hand.

"Keigai! He will not be swayed by such attacks on his character. Let him retire to his quarters; we shall resume our talks come morning." Turning his attention towards Madara, "I bid you ado, Madara."

With that, Hashirama and Keigai exited the complex, walking off towards the Senju territory. After a few miles of walking, the Senju leader clapped his palms together, creating a large house of wood. "This will be our housing for the night." Putting his hand on Keigai's shoulder, Hashirama spoke again. "Don't worry about Madara; he says those things to get you riled up. You have to just grin and bare it." Letting go of the Uzumaki man's shoulder, Hashirama stepped into the building, preparing himself for the day ahead of him.

Madara had not yet adjourned from the compound, now stationed atop the roof of the building aside the large shibi shaped like a shachihoko. His legs, casually hung off from the side of the building, as he looked off into the distance. Madara remained silent as his eyes darted from the beautiful horizon to the encampment that Hashirama had set up for him and Keigai. Madara, having made this trip on his own, was left to fend with a meager camp fire and small shelter through the night.

"Kira..." Madara called.

The shadows parted and gave way for a figure draped in purple to appear from the haze. The Uchiha crest marked his back and his eyes were aglow with the Sharingan. "Yes Madara-sama?" Kira chimed.

"I had a feeling things wouldn't go smoothly... that damned Hashirama, I can't help but feel he has some other motives." Madara seemed to be rattling off with his own conspiracy theories. Giving his head a shake to return back to reality, Madara pulled out a small scroll and handed to the Uchiha. "Take this to the one named Nanashi Uchiha at Kikyō Pass, I want that damned trade route taken by dawn."

"Yes Madara-sama..." Kira said, gripping the scroll and disappearing into the shadows.

"If that damned Senju fool thinks he can tempt me with fodder like this, then I'll just take it by force..." Madara said as he leaped down from the roof and towards the small camp he had set up for himself earlier in the day.

The next morning...

Hashirama awoke from his sleep as a bird chirped out his window. Smiling, the man dressed himself and walked to Keigai's room, as their discussion would began shortly.

The campfire that once lit up the night now lied in bits of kinder that scattered around the ground around Madara. He had not slept the night before and remained in the same position he had for the past few hours; arms crossed and eyes situated in the distance, where Hashirama and Keigai slept.

As the two cousins were done with their morning routines, Hashirama led Keigai to the outpost once again. As they walked to the building complex, the Senju man couldn't help but eye Madara, staring directly at the two men. "Did he watch us all night? Knowing my rival, he most certainly did." Putting his eyes back on the path, Hashirama began to run towards the encampment; he was ready to finish this treaty talk.

Madara contemplated as he watched Hashirama and Keigai head towards the compound, he did not want to move but he knew he had to. He loathed the idea of agreeing to this treaty; in the long run it would do nothing but add to the conflicts between the two clans. Madara scoffed; it hit him that he had done nothing but dwell on Hashirama all night, he had become so childish in his strive to power.

Raising his war fan, Madara leaped towards the compound. Before he gave his final answer, Madara wanted answers from his rival.

Hashirama and Keigai stepped into the Senju outpost; Madara had yet to arrive. As the two awaited the Uchiha's arrival, they passed the time by discussing how today would draw out. "Keigai, do not let Madara get the best of you today. You know it won't serve you any good to get all worked up over nothing. And, if he insults me, don't get bothered; it doesn't affect me, so it shouldn't affect you." the Senju stated in a hushed tone. If Madara heard them, he would only hear mumbling.

"Okay, Hashirama-sama. It just angers me whenever that man is in the same area - much less the same room! It's difficult to not wanna rip his head off whenever I hear him speak. Despite that, I will try my best to just brush off anything he says." Keigai whispered, his tone very irritated.

The two men then sat in silence, knowing Madara would soon walk through the doorway.

Madara stepped into the room slowly, his arms crossed and eyes closed. He wanted to speak out right then and there, he wanted to deny Hashirama of a treaty and wanted to kill his rival here and now, but he couldn't. Madara wanted answers to questions that Hashirama and Hashirama only could answer. "Hashirama-" Madara said before even sitting down.

"Yes?" the Senju clansman replied, hoping the eagerness in his voice wasn't blatantly obvious to Madara and/or Keigai.

Madara stepped closer to the table where Hashirama and Keigai sat, not sitting himself, but placing a single hand onto the table. "There are a few things that I want to let you know Hashirama Senju-" Madara said, the anger rising in his voice. "I despise your very existence; you are the manifestation to everything I hate in this world and beyond. You believe that peace can be achieved without fighting... but you are wrong." Madara had a wide snarl on his face, he had spent the entire night piecing together what he wanted to say to the Senju leader. "I decline your peace treaty Hashirama... if you ever plan on seeing this world united, it'll be from the afterlife." Madara quickly spun around, not even giving the Senju leader a chance to go back at him.

As Keigai's jaw hit the ground, Hashirama closed his eyes and tilted his head down. "So be it, then." he thought as his eternal rival walked out the door of the complex.

Immediately after Madara was no longer within hearing distance, Hashirama spoke. "Keigai, rally your clan's greatest warriors, and I shall do the same. Reach out to any and all clans not already aligned with the Uchiha; extend an alliance to them. Do whatever it takes to get an upper-hand on them. Knowing Madara, he will soon begin to attack Senju and Uzumaki-owned areas, and we will not be defeated without a fight. As much as I hate war, I foresee it being the only option to defeat Madara once and for all." And - with an "aye" from Keigai - the two cousins walked out of the outpost to their respective lands.

End

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