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The prologue to Crelrn's Bleach: Reemergence
The dirt path started turning to a deep brown from the rain that was beginning to lightly fall over it. Only gradually, though, as the path was sheltered by the colossal, ancient trees that it meandered its way through.
The primordial lake that the path made its home next to, however, wasn’t so fortunate and took the full brunt of the downpour, causing large ripples to form, disturbing and distorting its mirrored surface. The mystical red Tori gate that jutted out of its surface stood silently as the small waves crashed against its legs.
A fog began to form, covering up the path, the trees, the gate, and the lake in its entirety. The fog consumed everything that it grasped, swallowing up the venue and cradling it in its clammy clutch.
It was quiet, apart from the steady sound of water dripping off the branches onto the trodden path and the abnormality of metal clashing into metal, blade into blade.
In the middle of the path were two rather odd-looking figures exchanging blows with another odd-looking character. The first of the two was tall and slender, and had long, flowing red hair that climbed down his back. He wore a blue hakama with a red sash and a white, open-chested jacket, very unusual for the times. He wore a cool expression on his face, apparently not phased by anything.
The other of the two looked the complete opposite. He was a little shorter than average height, with a very muscular build. His short, navy blue hair seemed to defy his fiery personality, framing his piercing green eyes. He wore a red hakama with a blue sash, though he was shirtless, flaunting his well-toned body.
Both the men had what appeared to be a white piece of plaster on their cheeks: the left cheek on the redhead and the right cheek on the other man. Apart from their dress, the oddest thing about them was that where their right pectoral muscle should have been was a gaping hole. Although it seems impossible that they would both be still alive with the holes there (or that part of the body not there, depending on your point of view), sure enough the two men were there, living and breathing.
The man with whom they were exchanging blows with was rather odd, too. He looked about 19 years of age, which didn’t seem very suspicious. He was a little taller than what an average Japanese would be, garbed in a black robe that opened up at the waist like a trench-coat and continued downwards to his feet. There was a slash down the side of the robe that was bleeding lightly. His right sleeve was missing, revealing that his arm was entirely wrapped in black bandages, excluding his fingers.
He had a slim build, with long limbs and a short torso. His messy, black hair had a slight dark-red tinge to it. The expression on his face was similar to the taller of the two men: calm and collected. He was apparently not especially concerned of the situation that the two men had placed him in.
Momentarily, there was a lull in the fighting. The robed man looked around his surroundings, noticing that he had been placed between a thick row of trees and his two opponents. Apparently, there’s nowhere to run anymore, he thought to himself with a sigh.
A malicious grin started to form on the blue-haired man’s face, causing the ghost-white plaster on the side of his face to rise up with it. “There’s nowhere left to run, Shinigami,” the man stated. He raised his short, curved sword up, pointing it at the robed figure. “Now, dog of the Soul Society, prepare to lose your life by the hands of the Numeros Arrancar, Alvaro Baudelio!”
“I see a few problems with your assertion,” sighed the Shinigami as he sheathed his sword and turned his back to the Arrancar.
The red haired Arrancar narrowed his eyes, changing his stare from cool ice to that of intrigue. “What was that?”
Now facing the row of trees, the Shinigami began, “First off, I am of no relation to the Soul Society. I dropped from their ranks long ago. Secondly,” he continued, turning his head in their direction. His eyes were no longer calm and lighthearted: they were dark and murderous, their brown irises seemed to flare red. “Why would I run away when it would be so much easier to kill you instead?”
The Shinigami drew his sword, slashed his blade toward the row of trees and re-sheathed his sword all in one motion. He turned back towards the unmasked Hollows, a placid stare on his face. The trees started to fall towards the two Arrancar, threatening to crush them under their massive weight.
“Shit!” exclaimed Alvaro, surprised. As he reached up to cut the trees that were falling on top of him, he looked down just in time to see the Shinigami appear sliding past him underneath, unsheathing his sword. With a flash the sword came cut of its sheath, colliding with Alvaro’s mid-section.
Roughly fifteen meters behind Alvaro, the Shinigami’s sliding body came to a halt. Looking back, he looked at Alvaro with an uninterested look on his face. “You’re still alive? I’m surprised.” His words betrayed his apathetic expression, though.
Alvaro grinned. “Why wouldn’t I be? Arrancar have a skin as hard as diamonds, called ‘Hierro.’ It’s futile to attempt to cut us!” he said with a laugh.
“If that’s so,” began the Shinigami, holding up his Zanpakutou, “then what’s this?”
The back of the Shinigami’s blade was painted crimson. Bewildered, Alvaro felt his stomach and felt his own blood, hot and sticky. He glared at the Shinigami. “So I see we’re not dealing with some runt.” A malicious smile spread across his face. “I guess we’ll have to get serious, then.” He glanced at his brother, who then nodded at him.
“What?” started the Shinigami, “Are you going to release your Zanpakutou now?” A surprised expression shot across both of the Arrancar’s faces. “Why do you look so surprised? It was obvious that you two weren’t fighting at full strength, as your Spiritual Pressure is nothing extraordinary. Plus both of your swords resemble Zanpakutou and are radically different, leading me to believe that you have at least one release. So can we quit with this charade and continue?”
The red-haired Arrancar smiled. “That’s quite the hypothesis you’ve come up with. You’re actually quite correct. However,” continued the Arrancar while raising his sword, “you’ll find that this is very unfortunate for you. Are you ready, Alvaro?”
The blue-haired Arrancar rose his short, curved blade above his head. “Of course, Goyo!” He looked at the Shinigami, a malicious look in his eyes. “Are you ready, Shinigami?” Prepare to witness our true power!”
He took his sword and stabbed it into his own Hollow-hole. “Chispa (Spark), Infierno!”
Goyo did the same, stabbing his long blade into the Hollow-hole on his right. “Ascenso (Rise), Torrente.”
As soon as Goyo said his Zanpakutou’s name it dissolved into water that then poured from his Hollow-hole, then disappeared. Alvaro’s Zanpakutou turned into flames, erupting from his Hollow-hole. Turning to face the Shinigami, Alvaro asked, “What’s wrong, Shinigami? Have you never seen an Arrancar’s release before?” He grinned, pointing his fist at the Shinigami. “Well here’s a first-hand experience!” he yelled, punctuating the last word with a burst of blazing-flames from his hand.
“Fire?” bluntly questioned the Shinigami, easily avoiding the blast. “You control fire? Then I’m assuming that this one,” turning to face Goyo, “controls water.”
The red-haired Arrancar pulled back a loose strand of hair off of his face. “Correct once again, Shinigami-san. Now, if you’d please,” began Goyo, now staring at the Shinigami, “Die!” His arm dissolved into water and launched itself at the Shinigami, which he easily dodged. However, he didn’t count on the water rematerializing into an arm, which then proceeded to club him in the back of the head, knocking him over.
He recovered his fall into a dive-roll, using the momentum from the roll to launch himself at Goyo, slashing him in half. With a smile on his face, the two halves of Goyo disolved into water, going around his ankles. “Now, Alvaro!” yelled the puddle of water that went around the Shinigami’s feet, constricting him.
“Of course, brother!” yelled back the other Arrancar, who’s forearms turned to flames. “Die, Shinigami!” he hollered with a spiteful grin on his face, launching his arms at the Shinigami, colliding with his body and covering him from head to toe in flames.
“Ow! Goddamit, Alvaro!” yelled his brother retreating from the flames that were now engulfing their surroundings. “You made me steam again!” This was actually quite true, as steam was literally emanating from his body.
“Heh, so?” asked Alvaro, uninterested. Flame sprouted out of where his forearms were missing, which then formed into new ones. “I killed him, didn’t I? So why does it matter?”
“I think you may be mistaken,” said a voice coming from the smoke. Surprised, the two brothers looked in the direction of the voice. As the smoke and steam cleared from the trees, a figure was revealed, belonging to none other than the Shinigami, completely unscathed. “You look surprised to see I’m still alive.”
“How?” demanded Alvaro, grinding his teeth. “How are you still alive?”
“How?” commented the Shinigami. “Well, it’s quite simple, really. Though I think it would be better for you to experience it for yourself. Here!” he said, pointing at his chest. “Shoot me with your flames again and see what happens. It’s futile.”
Great! thought Alvaro. Now I just need to use a full-powered blast and he’s down for good! “Alright Shinigami, but it’s your funeral!” This time his entire body dissolved into flames that seemed to sneer at him. “Die!” he yelled as the flames launched themselves at the stoic figure, colliding with his chest. It’s over! thought the Arrancar, who now reassembled himself behind the Shinigami. He turned around to admire his handiwork and then noticed that the Shinigami was standing there, untouched and unfazed by his attack.
The Shinigami looked over his shoulder, an unimpressed look on his face. “Is that it?” He sighed. “It looks like this fight will turn out to be much less interesting than I had predicted.” He redrew his Zanpakutou, holding it out in front of him. “You see, your flames don’t affect me because of the nature of my Zanpakutou. Witness it yourself!”
His demeanor changed from one of uninterest to one of seriousness as he leaned back into a battle stance. “Oku no homura to saku! Honoo no Kaze Soushi (With your inner fire, separate! The Twin Flaming Winds!).”
There was an explosion of fire that disrupted the visibility between the three figures. Just as suddenly and explosive as the fires came up, they died down, revealing the Shinigami’s Zanpakutou. In his hands were two identical blades. The two blades looked like two flat pieces of iron, ending in a vicious-looking hook at the end of each. The handles of the two swords looked like a smashed-in square, a crescent moon shaped piece of metal made up the front of it while underneath it looked very similar to the end of a halberd.
He turned to face the Arrancars. “Owarimashou (Let’s end this.).” He disappeared, reappearing in front of a bewildered Alvaro, the blade in his right hand sinking into Alvaro’s torso. “Moetsuku (Ignite).” From the hilt of the blade rising upwards, fire ignited on the blade, catching Alvaro on fire.
Alvaro kicked out at the Shinigami, which he blocked with his own leg, though the Arrancar used the recoil of the kick to separate himself from the blade inside his stomach. Landing on the ground, he grabbed his blackened stomach, polluted blood pouring from it onto the trodden path. “How did you burn me? Me, the Arrancar master of fire!”
“Master of fire? Don’t make me laugh,” he said, sickened. “Your flames can’t even scorch my robe.” Turning towards Goyo, he blandly stated, “Your turn.” He disappeared.
Goyo prepared to guard the inevitable strike in front of him. He suddenly felt a presence behind him and, learning from his brother’s mistake, turned himself into water just before the two blades came crashing through his shoulder blades, splitting him into four pieces. The quarters of water went up along the blade and surrounded the Shinigami, attempting to suffocate him.
Before the water could reach his head, he stabbed both his blades into the dirt of the forest path. “Jisei Honoo no Hana (Blossoming Flame Flower).” he muttered. All of a sudden, a column of fire sprouted from the cracks in the ground, swallowing up the two combatants in a figure of fire that looked like a blooming flower.
As the flames died down, the Shinigami was the only one standing; Goyo was laying on the ground, steaming and missing his left arm. “Damn you!” he spat through gritted teeth. “Just what the hell are you, anyways?”
“’What’?” asked the Shinigami. “Do you mean ‘who’? If so, I’ll tell you.” He leaned on his Zanpakutou, which was still stuck in the ground. “Possessor of what was the second most powerful Fire-type Zanpakutou in the Gotei 13, Shou Michio.” Pulling his Zanpakutou out of the ground, he raised them both above his head. “But please now, disappear. Moetsuku,” he whispered, the flames igniting on the length his Zanpakutou. “May Death be merciful on your soul.”
The twin blades came down.
The path continued to darken like before, but was no longer darkened by rain, but by blood.