Sakura Hiden: Thoughts of Love, Riding Upon a Spring Breeze (サクラ秘伝 思恋、春風にのせて, Sakura Hiden — Shiren, Harukaze ni Nosete, Viz:Naruto: Sakura’s Story — Love Riding the Spring Breeze) is an original story written by Tomohito Ōsaki and illustrated by Masashi Kishimoto. It is the third book of the Naruto Hiden series.
None of the eight chapters in this novel has a title; however, each chapter is divided into 2-5 subsections.
Sakura Haruno reflects on some moments she’s had with Sasuke Uchiha: when she unintentionally insulted him shortly after the formation of Team 7; when she tried to stop him from defecting to Orochimaru; when he left Konoha to wander the world, but promised to see her again. Sakura wonders where he is now and what he is doing but has hope he will return.
- After the Fourth Shinobi World War ended two years ago, Sakura assisted with healing those injured and displaced by the conflict. Although the adults recovered quickly and were put at peace by the end of hostilities, children struggled to recover from the stress of the War and the deaths of those they knew. In order to help them deal with this, Sakura and Ino Yamanaka opened a clinic within the Konoha Hospital that would assess and treat children’s mental health six months after the war. Following a progress report about their program, Ino invites Sakura out to tea with her, but Sakura declines because she has paperwork she wants to do. She later encounters Naruto Uzumaki and Hinata Hyūga on a date, and they also invite her to join them. She again declines, but realises that her friends are becoming worried about her heavy workload.
- A week later, Sakura meets with the Hokage, Kakashi Hatake. He informs her that Sunagakure is interested in opening its own clinic for children and has requested that she and Ino help lay the groundwork. After she leaves to prepare for the trip, Kakashi meets with Sai and tells him about two separate attacks by unknown perpetrators against the Fire daimyō and Homura Mitokado. Although nobody was badly hurt and there’s no proof the two attacks are connected, Kakashi wants Sai to investigate both incidents by himself.
- Sakura meets with Tsunade before she leaves for Suna. Tsunade tries to encourage Sakura to take it easy, as the clinic’s growing success means that there are other people able and willing to do some of the work. Sakura takes the opportunity to ask how to make men take notice. When Tsunade can’t offer her any specific advice, Sakura asks that Tsunade bet against her love life, hoping for Tsunade’s bad luck to play in her favour.
- Sakura and Ino start gossiping when they depart for Suna and Sakura learns about Shikamaru Nara’s relationship with Temari, Chōji Akimichi’s relationship with Karui, and Ino’s feelings for Sai. While Ino debates how to express herself to Sai, Sakura wonders about Sasuke and herself in regards to their own relationship.
- Sasuke meets with a group of Suna missing-nin, offering to help them perform a coup d’état in Suna if they will first help him destroy Konoha. When the group’s leader refuses to be subordinate to him, Sasuke kills him. A squad of Suna Anbu immediately begins attacking the group and Sasuke escapes in the commotion.
- Sai meets with an informant just outside of Konoha and sends him to investigate if some criminals listed in the Bingo Book are behind the two attacks. As he returns to the village, Sai is attacked by two masked individuals. Although each of the attackers has a cloak of tailed beast chakra, he is able to drive one of them off and capture the other. Sai starts questioning the captive, but when the man begins to respond a juinjutsu activates and his body blows up.
- While taking a break during their trip to Suna, Sakura dreams that Sasuke meets her at the entrance and they share a happy reunion. She wishes for the dream to become a reality, but she and Ino are met only by a Suna shinobi who escorts them to their conference with the village’s doctors. Afterwards, however, they are summoned before Gaara, the Kazekage, who informs them that Sasuke has been to Suna.
- Gaara repeats to them the conversation that Sasuke had with the terrorist group and killed a terrorist after being refused for their support two days earlier, which he (who was surveiling the group anyway) witnessed with his Third Eye. Although he, Ino, and Sakura want to believe it was someone disguised as Sasuke, they can come up with no practical explanations for the man having Sasuke’s chakra signature. Hoping to keep Sasuke’s apparent plans a secret, Gaara asks Sakura to personally inform Kakashi of the plot against Konoha.
- During a meeting with the Fire daimyō to discuss the budget, Kakashi and Shizune try to secure additional funding for Sakura’s clinic. Kido Tsumiki argues against them, believing the recent attacks against the daimyō and Homura call for increased funding to Konoha’s Anbu. The daimyō defers to Homura, who decides to side with Kido.
- When Kakashi returns to his office he is met by Sai, who tells him of the earlier attack he fought off. Both observe that the attacker’s suicidal juinjutsu is similar to what Danzō Shimura used on his agents. This, combined with the fact that nobody but an Anbu could have even guessed Sai’s assignment and thus known to attack him, convinces Kakashi that it is all part of a scheme concocted by Kido Tsumiki, a former ally to Danzō. Kakashi instructs Sai to focus his investigation on Kido.
- Sakura and Ino deliver Gaara’s message to Kakashi as soon as they return to Konoha. Kakashi is also convinced that the man conspiring against Konoha was a lookalike of Sasuke, but he has no reliable way of contacting Sasuke in order to confirm. He shares Gaara’s recommendation to do nothing at the moment so that unsubstantiated assumptions can’t be spread against Sasuke and he wants to try to get in touch with Sasuke so he can profess his innocence himself. Sakura returns home, frustrated by Sasuke’s years of absence.
- In a secret lab outside Konoha, Kido talks with his assistant, Magire. Magire speculates that Kakashi has figured out that they were behind the attacks on the daimyō and Homura. Kido is unconcerned so long as Kakashi doesn’t realise the actual purpose of the attacks: to test out their synthesised tailed beast cloaks.
- Sai follows Kido’s movements between his different hideouts for three days, but he has no way of getting inside any of them without revealing his presence. His informant requests a meeting and, there, reports a rumour about Sasuke: that he approached some arms dealers several weeks earlier seeking weapons for an attack on Konoha, and then killed the dealers when they failed to cooperate. He also reveals that, after the war, he saw Anbu collecting samples from the Valley of the End and the bridge where Sasuke fought Danzō. Sai pays him for this information and requests another meeting in the future.
- Kakashi informs Sakura and Ino of the rumours about Sasuke’s activity that have been reported by Sai. Ino is initially more concerned with what risks Sai may be facing, but Sakura steers things back to what the rumours mean for Sasuke because he has ignored all of Konoha’s attempts to contact him. Since Sasuke was so instrumental to the victory during the Fourth Shinobi World War, the five Kage are still willing to believe it is not Sasuke planning against Konoha. However, if news of his actions gets out and public opinion turns against him, the Kage will be forced to declare him an international criminal and hunt him down.
- Kido reflects on how successful his imitation of Sasuke is being. By having the impostor conspire with underworld elements and then kill them, word of Sasuke’s seeming activities is spreading throughout the ninja community, despite the intentions of Gaara and Kakashi. Kido believes it is only a matter of time before the real Sasuke returns to Konoha in order to investigate the impostor, at which point Kido will be able to capture him.
- Sakura wanders the village trying to clear her thoughts. She passes by the Academy and sees Naruto instructing a class of Academy students. He invites her to help the class with their sparring lessons, and Sakura finds it an effective stress relief. Afterwards, she tells Naruto the rumours about Sasuke. Naruto isn’t concerned, confident that it’s an impostor. He also points out that Sasuke must not be worried about it either, otherwise he would have responded to Kakashi’s messages. Sakura realises he’s right and is finally put at ease.
- Sakura has drinks with Tsunade to try and figure out how the Sasuke impostor is able to reproduce Sasuke’s chakra without his knowledge. Sakura theorises that samples of Sasuke’s skin and hair that naturally fall off from his battles with Naruto and Danzō have been gathered in amounts large enough to extract a chakra signature from. Tsunade deems her idea plausible. Sakura runs into Sai afterwards and she tells him her theory, which makes enough sense to him that he asks her to accompany him to Kakashi’s office.
- With Sakura’s theory and his informant’s earlier report about Anbu activity at the Valley of the End, Sai believes the Anbu – specifically Kido and Magire – are behind the Sasuke impostor. He also believes this would explain the tailed beast cloaks he encountered, with those being drawn from skin and hair samples taken from Naruto and other jinchūriki. Since Sakura, Sai, and Ino are apparently all investigating the same thing, Kakashi makes them a team; Ino dubs themselves “Ino–Saku–Sai”. The three agree to continue their investigations and keep each other informed of their findings.
- Kido is becoming frustrated by Sasuke’s continued absence. Hoping to force his return, he orders his underlings to kidnap Sakura. When one suggests killing her to increase the chances of Sasuke’s appearance, Kido responds they may do so at a later date.
- Sakura and Ino return from an interview with Rock Lee, who saw Anbu near the Naka Shrine two years ago. On their way to meet up with Sai, Sakura sees two Anbu trying to take Sasuke into custody for terrorist activity. She goes to them to lend assistance, either to free the real Sasuke or apprehend the impostor, but discovers that it is all a genjutsu. She dispels it, but is immediately injected with a drug that renders her unconscious.
- Sakura wakes up to find herself bound and imprisoned. She tries to break out when she remembers what’s happened, but the drug she was injected with hinders her strength and chakra. Kido comes to visit her soon afterwards, explaining that he wants to draw Sasuke out with news of her kidnapping and Sasuke would come rescue her because of their relationship. Sakura is secretly curious about whether Sasuke would indeed come back because of her, but ignores this because she doesn’t want to be used to hurt him. She tells Kido to kill her, which he promises to do only after Sasuke is captured so that seeing her death will make his Sharingan stronger, in turn making his planned synthetic Sharingan more effective.
- While taking a shower, Sai is called to answer the door. He finds Ino there, who is embarrassed by his lack of clothes. She tells him that Sakura is missing and they assume she’s been kidnapped by Kido. While he gets dressed, Ino contacts Kakashi and informs him of what’s happened. He advises not getting anyone else involved in the rescue as that might only provoke Kido to kill Sakura. He also informs them that the Fourth Raikage is contemplating a Kage Summit to discuss reports of Sasuke’s activity.
- Sakura keeps Kido engaged in the conversation by speculating that his synthetic tailed beast cloaks are supposed to help capture Sasuke. Kido confirms this, saying that the cloaks are at least effective enough to restrain Sasuke while they take his eyes. Sakura finds the various things Kido has synthesised unimpressive, pointing out the many minor flaws in the Sasuke impostor she saw earlier. Kido tests her claim by having the impostor tell Sakura he loves her. Though she’s unsettled by the words — even knowing they’re not from the real Sasuke — Sakura maintains it’s a poor imitation. The conversation buys Sakura the time she needs to gather enough chakra to break free.
- Sai and Ino go to one of Kido’s hideouts and Ino senses the interior for Sakura’s chakra. Sakura isn’t there, but Sai decides they should see what intel they can get anyway. Ino uses the Mind Body Switch Techniqueon the hideout’s sentry while Sai captures them, her first time using such a tactic without Shikamaru or Chōji. When the sentry, an acquaintance of Sai’s, is unwilling to answer their questions, Sai forces Sakura’s whereabouts from him by tickling him with a paintbrush, much to Ino’s bemusement that it is Sai’s torture method. They go to the hideout where Sakura is being kept, but find that she’s already escaped and is on the offensive.
- Sakura breaks out of the basement, through the floors above, and finally the roof with a single Cherry Blossom Impact. When she sees Sai and Ino, she tells them what she’s learned about Kido and the drugs he’s making. They are surrounded by many Anbu, Magire, and Kido himself, who tells them that he plans to leave Konoha and start his own military company in which he will sell his drugs not only as tools of war but as ways in which to cause those wars, thus giving him a never-ending source of revenue. Ino doubts that such drugs would ever have a market because the powers they grant are unearned, which Kido declares as naive, just like their clinic for children’s mental health. He instructs his Anbu to use their synthetic tailed beast cloaks to either capture or kill Sakura and the others, no longer having a preference for their fate.
- Sakura, Sai, and Ino work well together despite being outnumbered. Sakura is drawn into a fight with the Sasuke impostor, who chokes her using his synthetic tailed beast cloak. Sakura breaks free and, as she beats him unconscious, warns him to never impersonate Sasuke again. This has the added benefit of revealing that the synthetic cloaks disappear when their user loses consciousness; Sai and Ino also discover that the cloaks have time limits. Sai recommends they use this information to end the fight quickly.
- Sakura, Sai, and Ino defeat all but Kido and Magire. Because Magire is a medic-nin, they decide to separate Kido from him so that Magire can’t heal his injuries. Sakura leads Kido away into a nearby forest to fight him by herself. When she repeatedly dodges his lightning jutsu, Kido activates a synthetic tailed beast cloak.
- Sai and Ino exchange attacks with Magire, but neither side is able to hit the other. Magire activates a synthetic tailed beast cloak and, with its tails, is able to create glowing orbs that detonate on contact. While Sai tries and fails to overpower Magire with his Super Beast Imitating Drawings, Ino takes control of a passing eagle which she uses to stab Magire from behind with a poisoned kunai. Magire’s movements slow, allowing Sai to deliver a finishing blow. Kakashi arrives to help as soon as Magire is defeated, with Naruto and Hinata tagging along. Together they head into the forest to help Sakura.
- Kido manifests a cloak that has nine tails and that is much denser in composition. His strengthened attacks blast Sakura around the forest, but she doesn’t give up, repeatedly attacking the same area of Kido’s protective cloak and using Creation Rebirth to heal her injuries. She compares her persistence to her relationship with Sasuke: if she tells Sasuke how she feels enough times, maybe he’ll reciprocate, in the same way that, if she attacks Kido in the same spot enough times, maybe he’ll be defeated. Although her attacks appear ineffective, Kido discovers that this is part of Sakura’s ruse; whenever she punches him, she heals the resulting damage, eventually killing the affected cells from over-replication. Sakura attacks the dead area one finally time with Cherry Blossom Impact.
- As he’s defeated, Kido remembers his childhood: his ailing father who required several expensive medications to stay alive; his father, despite his condition, always going out on missions in order to earn money to send Kido to the Ninja Academy; Kido having to drop out of the Academy because they could no longer afford it; his father no longer taking the medication so that the money could be saved for Kido’s education; his father’s death. Kido thinks about how different things would have been if they’d only had more money.
- As Sakura is verifying that Kido has been defeated, she is joined by Ino, Sai, Kakashi, Naruto, and Hinata. They congratulate her on her victory, but are interrupted by news that several of Kido’s Anbu have fled the village. Though he can’t move, Kido explains that they’re going to continue his plans while he doesn’t care about going to prison. Sakura and the others immediately give chase, but on reaching the Anbu they find them all defeated with a combination of fire and genjutsu. They guess that it was Sasuke’s doing and that he chose not to stick around when he confirmed Kido was defeated. Sakura is convinced further when she barely catches a glimpse of Sasuke leaving the scene. Although they’re disappointed that Sasuke didn’t at least say hello, they are glad that the entire ordeal is over, and Sakura is happy that Sasuke did care about her enough to return to the village to save her.
- Kido and Magire are turned over to Ibiki Morino, who interrogates them to learn how they made their tailed beast drugs: they gathered samples of Naruto’s skin and hair and used the body of a descendant of the Sage of Six Paths in order to cultivate enough for their drug. Details of Kido’s tragic childhood also emerged in the interrogation; although this doesn’t excuse his actions, Sakura is hopeful that her children’s mental health clinic will avert future cases like Kido. After Ino–Saku–Sai is dismissed by Kakashi, Sakura is called to a meeting with Suna-medics. Ino offers to go with her, but Sakura tells her to instead have lunch with Sai. Sakura departs happy for her friends and herself, confident that Sasuke’s promise of “until next time” will be soon and there are so many things she wants to tell him. The final scene hints Sasuke returns soon after, as Sakura happily greets him and he says he is home.
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