The Peddlers Escort Mission (行商人護衛任務, Gyōshō Jin Goei Ninmu) spans from episodes 187 to 191 of the Naruto anime. This arc is preceded by the Star Guard Mission, Akamaru Monitoring Mission and the Funeral Proxy Mission and is followed by the Matchmaking Proxy Mission, Lady Daimyō Search Mission and the Third Great Beast Arc.
Excited to finally have another mission, Naruto was joined with Hinata and Chōji to the Land of Vegetables for escorting a group of merchants. Along the way, it was noticed that smoke was coming from deep within the Land of Vegetables, prompting Naruto to investigate. Upon doing so, he was attacked by a couple of unknown ninja. After escaping them and reporting to his team, it was decided to try going down a different route in hopes the mysterious ninja weren't after them. In addition one of the merchants, Shun, suggested the group split into two to allow the weak and younger members a further protection. After the teams were split up, with Hinata going ahead with the weaker group and Naruto with Chōji staying back to protect the first group, Naruto went to check the area again and found one of the merchants, Kikunojō, dead and dressed as a ninja. Naruto then returned to his group in time to see the enemies attacking and then just as quickly retreating. This allowed Naruto and Chōji to realise the enemies were after a target in the other group.
After catching up with Hinata's group, Naruto and Chōji confronted Shun and Yurinoshin, since Kikunosuke was close to them. It was revealed that Shun was actually Princess Haruna, heir to the Land of Vegetables throne, and Kikunosuke and Yurinoshin were Haruna's personal ninja bodyguards named Kikunojō and Yurinojō. It was also explained that a dangerous group of ninja called the Janin conjured a coup d'état and captured the Land of Vegetables' daimyō. Fearing that their combined skills would not be enough to protect Haruna, Kikunojō and Yurinojō hired Konoha for extra help, but pretended it was an escort mission because they were low on money. Naruto was furious when he learned that Haruna purposely decided to use the innocent merchants as a decoy for her escape from the Criminal Brothers. Later, he was told that Haruna has lost her faith in others because of her troubled past of growing up away from home for years in a terrible land.
Later, the youngest brother of the the group and the one who killed Kikunojō, Ruiga attacked Naruto and his team. Despite outnumbered, Ruiga's unique water technique easily overpowered his enemies. Fortunately, an attack was already predicted and Hinata escaped with Haruna. After Yurinojō realised Ruiga's technique wouldn't work in dry areas, he along with Naruto and Chōji lured Ruiga into a canyon to cut off his water supply and were able to defeat him. Unfortunately, Yurinojō sustained an injury, causing Chōji to stay with him while Naruto went after Hinata and Haruna. Naruto then discovered that Haruna knocked out Hinata and ran away. While looking for Haruna, the second brother, Jiga, appeared. Armed with a magnetic wave manipulating jutsu, Naruto was quickly defeated by his enemy. Fortunately, Hinata arrived and used her Gentle Fist to turn Jiga's own technique against him by tampering with his chakra network, causing Jiga to become buried in iron sand. Afterwards, Naruto leaves an exhausted Hinata in Chōji and Yurinojō's care while he went off to find Haruna, knowing that she needs help and to regain faith in others.
After finding Haruna, they were ambushed by the eldest brother of the group, Renga. Naruto faced off against Renga, but his unique ability to create ice disks out of the moisture in the air allowed him to repel all of Naruto's attacks and force him on the defensive. After hearing from Renga planned to kill his brothers later so he could keep all the profits for himself and how Haruna's father gave her up for the country's safety but deeply despised himself for it, Haruna realised her outlook in life was wrong. When Renga began using his disks to create heat beams from the sun's rays, Naruto used his forehead protector to reflect the beam on Renga and defeat him. Afterwards, Haruna found herself with a chance to kill Renga and avenge her father, but she chose not to after being inspired by Naruto's selflessness. Later after being crowned daimyō, Haruna decided to become a ruler with the same kind of compassion. She also asked Naruto to be her advisor, but Naruto unfortunately declined as he still desired to save Sasuke.
|#||Episode Title||Japanese Airdate||English Airdate|
|187||"Open for Business! The Leaf Moving Service"||31 May 2006||9 August 2008|
|188||"The Mystery of the Targeted Merchants"||7 June 2006||16 August 2008|
|189||"A Limitless Supply of Ninja Tools"||14 June 2006||16 August 2008|
|190||"The Byakugan Sees the Blind Spot!"||21 June 2006||23 August 2008|
|191||"Forecast: Death! Cloudy with Chance of Sun!"||28 June 2006||23 August 2008|