A Plan Set in Motion
Somewhere on the outskirts of the Norwegian town of Lillehammer; a woman stepped out of the empty air, transported across the planes by the mysterious leader of the Coven. It was winter, and dunes of snow lay around the area, were she not a soul, she might well have frozen to death in this weather were she unable to find shelter.
In the distance she could see the lights of homes, centered on the shores of Mjøsa, the countries largest lake. Megumi thought about all those mageless, living out their parasitic existence and she felt anger boil inside her. By the end of the week, she was certain that many of those lights would be gone, and only those with potential would remain.
From within the folds of her cloak the woman pulled a smooth stone, so black that it seemed as though it devoured all light around it. This was an object forged from the lives of the bearers of the Soul Fragments, a Lodestone; it would serve as a lynchpin connecting this world to Home, causing the dimension to seep in and supplant this world gradually.
Uttering a few phrases of protective enchantments and incantations in order to activate the object, Megumi let it hover in mid-air, where a dark blue sheen emanated from the lodestone, as the ground, air and sky directly around and above it began to darken and turn into a spectral representation of the Coven's homeworld.
“That despotic structure is a fitting garnish for the stench of your malevolence, dogmatic booby,” came a distinguishable shout.
A small blizzard billowed in the distance from behind the woman. Glacies Fidus, the canine Lieutenant of the Thirteenth Division, stepped into view with almost ceremonial pace and posture, betraying his own confusion of the circumstances.
“So this is the Human World, I presume?” he asked rhetorically. “How droll that master of yours would know not that he cannot merely place me as he deems fit.” With a round sway of his elongated tail, the canine cast away the snow clinging to his fur, along with the blizzard obscuring much of his figure. “No matter, perhaps you are worthy of my scrutiny. If not, begone with you and you may be so fortunate as to not receive my blade to your back, as it so seems I will be needed elsewhere.”
Glacies deemed his relocation a minor setback, for with a mere beckoning to his tome, he could return to his original spot. Nevertheless, he truly held no intention of allowing this woman to live, merely a result of her standing tantalizingly within reach of his sword.
"Your threats are as insignificant to me as the threats of a mouse are to a lion, you are hardly fit to lick my boots. Much less pretend to match me, you flea-ridden mongrel!"
Megumi raised her hand up high, as electricity coursed around the battlefield, the temperature increased tremendously and blue lightning lit up the night like a beacon. With eyes gleaming with disgust, she directed a single hand towards Glacies direction and uttered a simple word.
Ordinarily the spell would've issued forth from her hand, but in this case it drew upon the nearby sources of lightning generated by her reiryoku; for a moment nothing happened, but then the entire battlefield was consumed by a dozen crisscrossing bolts of lightning that coursed around, bouncing between trees, and causing the snow to turn into electrified water that presented yet another deadly aftereffect of Megumi's magic.
Each of the dozen bolts were then redirected to follow Glacies with pinpoint precision, darting, curving and turning in the air to continously keep track of his position even as he might move to evade them. The influence of magic was easy to see, for no lightning could move like that naturally, the speed at which these bolts split the air was likewise great.
But the witch wasn't quite done yet, as she raised her remaining hand and cast the spell Rikujōkōrō silently while her destructive magic rendered it difficult to see due to the flashing lights, or hear it coming due to the thunderous roars of each lance of lightning. Six thin, wide beams of electrified reiryoku appeared around Glaices in that moment, converging inwards to completely paralyze him, while simultaneously electrocuting his body. Megumi's intent was to end the battle swiftly, because if he was caught, he'd be struck by all of the lances of lightning at once shortly afterwards.
Glacies' eyes shot open as he was suddenly encircled by bolts hurtling in every direction; he had not anticipated the sorceress to attack so promptly. Keen of the harm such bolts would pose were he to remain in his spot, Glacies' first instinct was to stamp his paw onto the ground, conjuring his Bibliotheca from underneath him and using it to carry him high into the air, effectively avoiding the electrified water.
His following thoughts were of the pursuing shards of lightning. However, blinded by the lights proceeding the sorceress' magic, he was unaware of the Rikujokoro silently cast whilst he focused on evasion. Bound and electrocuted continuously by the spell, Glacies merely cursed at his predicament, seemingly helpless as the lightning bolts moved to pierce him from every angle.
But Glacies was far from finished. With a beckoning roar, he summoned forth his guardian from a cyclone of snow, a gigantic, frigid canine comprised of pure ice, its red eyes piercing through the blizzard. By commanding the beast to strike at him with its snout, Glacies and his Bibliotheca were both propelled quickly upwards, releasing Glacies from his bindings and affording him more time against the Byakurai still persistently upon him. In the same instant Glacies' guardian collided with his Bibliotheca, three pages were rent from its body and begun to circle the field as if carried by the wind. Furthermore, Glacies summoned his Zanpakutō into his mouth and lodged it into the guardian's nose by throwing it, just as the guardian moved to intercept a fair number of bolts, losing much of its face in the process and causing chunks of ice to fly in every direction, hovering mysteriously just above the ground.
“Now then...” Glacies mumbled to himself as the remaining bolts continued to pursue him in the air unhindered. With a click of his tongue, he had vanished entirely, and the bolts instead drew towards the abdomen of his guardian. After the guardian absorbed every remaining bolt, losing much of its midsection in the process, it was suddenly ripped in twine horizontally by a powerful slash originating from inside its abdomen, its legs crumbling into the ground and its upper body remaining oddly static in the sky, still pierced with Glacies' sword.
Glacies' Zanpakutō, Sibilus Vertex, was the power of stasis. Any object or being pierced by the weapon could be frozen in time by his command, unable to be disturbed by all but the strongest of assaults. Glacies had hidden himself within his own guardian to divert the remaining bolts before making his escape by severing the beast; however, he was nowhere to be found, having vanished instantaneously yet again. Instead, he was a distance behind Megumi, using the floating chunks of ice that previously comprised the face of his guardian as stepping stones to protect him in the case the sorceress attempted to electrocute him with the shallow body of water she had created. Moving quickly and silently upon one chunk of ice to the next as only a predator could, Glacies moved to pierce Megumi from behind, his Bibliotheca now assuming the form of a decorated black blade within his mouth. With his own immense speed and the distraction provided by his previous actions, the canine believed his victory to be assured. Sorcerers were rarely known for maneuverability, and so he would aim to slay these covetous rogues with the very art they detested so. Glacies' own sorcery consumed as much stamina as would be expected of such power; he was aware he would need to limit its use if he could not merely end the battle with this single attack.
To many who encountered her, Megumi's cold and hostile demeanour lead many to underestimate her intelligence, and it would appear that Glacies Fidus had made the same mistake. For as soon as the hound had encased himself within the construct of ice and snow, she had swiftly cast the spell Kakushitsujiaku upon herself silently, and although its effects were diminished it gave her a general visualization of where and how the dog moved to assail her.
His powers were unique, and distinctly magical, but she was positive that they weren't Kidou; if she could, she might have to break his spirit and bring him with her back to her colleagues for a proper examination. In that moment she could sense through the power of her Divination that Glacies was steadily gaining ground upon her, his movements were predictable for enemies always attacked from the back when possible.
Ordinarily, she would not be able to react to his speed effectively, and she realized her shortcomings, but Kakushitsujiaku's influence evened the battlefield by allowing her to track his movements. In order to boost the canines confidence she began looking around wildly, as if to find him, making her appear all that more likely a target. Yet just before the canine managed to reach her, the air around her exploded in an omnidirectional shockwave of coursing electricity, the force of which generated a thunderous roar of such volumes that it might induce dizziness and vertigo in Glacies. Due to the likely enhanced hearing that naturally came with possessing the body of a dog.
Arcs of lightning moved through the shockwave, seeking to fry his body; although its offence was secondary to its defensive application; namely to negate Glacies' attack and hopefully render him airborne, where he might be a far easier target. Quickly, Megumi spun around to face him her hand outstretched towards him as she spoke with a voice filled with disdain and disgust.
"It appears like you have some knowledge of nobler arts, perhaps you even dare think your magic powerful; well then, allow me to reeducate you."
The only warning that Glacies might receive would be a myriad of twinkling golden lights; within the span of a moment arcs of golden lightning would arc between them before they all culminated in a mighty Raikōhō spell.
"Behold, lousy bagworm, for this is MAGIC!"
Megumi's skill with destructive kido was exemplary even among the Coven, and her penchant for lightning magic in particular ensured that even cast silently, and without much assistance from the fragmented wills. Megumi's magic was still very powerful, lances and arcs of lightning with the girth of buses split the ground asunder beneath them, even as much of the area was engulfed within a towering pillar of golden light; the night was made as bright as day for several seconds while the lightning storm raged around Glacies, attempting to tear him to pieces, disintegrate his body and blow him apart all at once. Megumi's intentions were simply the complete annihilation of the canine officer, and annihilation was something that the sorceress did very well.
When the spell finally dispersed, the entire area had been cleansed of trees, foliage, bedrock and vegetation; trees lay broken and charred all around them; and the woodlands directly surrounding this new clearing was charred black by flames that lit up the night like large torches.
“Damn you, termagant!” Glacies bellowed as Megumi caught him in an electric shockwave when he had previously made efforts to prevent just that. Nevertheless, Glacies had considered the possibility that those efforts would be in vain, shielding his body within a thin layer of ice to somewhat mitigate the electricity flowing into his body.
Even so, the force was sufficient to fling Glacies wildly through the air and disorient him considerably with its intense roar. The canine's first act was to throw the sword formed from his Bibliotheca toward the remains of his guardian still suspended in the air. Although his aim was compromised, he had luckily managed to send the sword colliding with the structure's snout. As Sibilus Vertex was still in effect, the sword harmlessly bounced from the position and twirled in the air at roughly the same altitude as the book pages still fluttering above the guardian.
But as Glacies' believed himself to have averted danger, his opponent had already prepared another spell, a Raikōhō so intense that his disorientation was thoroughly compounded by blinding light. Realizing that no mere layer of ice would be sufficient in protecting from the astronomical force of the proverbial nuke bolting towards him, the canine had another plan in mind. His link to his Bibliotheca allowed him to swap places with it or anything considered part of it, including its pages. His first act was to swap places with one of the pages that he had deliberately loosed from his Bibliotheca earlier, landing him a small distance from his guardian and rendering him safe from the immediate threat. With the Raikōhō now headed towards the page he had swapped places with, Glacies inscribed the page with thin barrier of Kido extending upwards as far as the eye could see; but his intention was not to deflect the sorceress' spell, for he knew full well that such a feeble barrier would prove insufficient for the task.
The sheer collateral damage the spell would impose upon its surroundings still presented a fatal threat as it was. Swapping place with another page released from his Bibliotheca, Glacies was now directly atop his guardian and the two pages were positioned so that they flanked Megumi on both sides, with Glacies safely outside of their radius. Inscribing the page with the same Kido he had conjured with the other page, Glacies had successfully combined them into a barrier surrounding Megumi and her spell from all sides. With any luck, the sorceress would be destroyed by her own power, trapped alongside her with no escape, but Glacies was already contemplating his next move. Luck would only remain on his side for so long.
And as the canine feared, his barrier only sustained itself for so long before it collapsed under the weight of Megumi's spell, its containment having made it only stronger than ever. Having had enough time to return his Bibliotheca to its original form, Glacies retrieved it from the air before vanishing back inside the abdomen of his guardian, using the final page released from his Bibliotheca to conjure one final barrier around its remaining body.
When the explosion diminished and only ash and flame remained of the environment, the guardian had been reduced to an unrecognizable ball of ice clinging to the sky, the power of Sibilus Vertex along with Glacies' barrier having narrowly spared it from total destruction. It was time for the canine to unleash an overwhelming offense of his own.
Objects static with the power of Sibilus Vertex possessed one dastardly trait: to store the energy of any and all attacks insufficient to destroy it outright, and unleash it all upon being released from its stasis. Although limitless in potential, the stasis itself was temporary, and because Glacies had no control over how much energy the object absorbed, using Sibilus Vertex was exceedingly dangerous if the energy was enough to pose a risk to Glacies himself. In managing to prevent Megumi's Raikōhō from destroying his guardian, Glacies had successfully stored all of its energy within his ice ball, added by the power of the Byakurai from earlier and even the power of Glacies' own Bibliotheca from when it collided with the structure earlier. The amalgamated power was, simply put, astonishing. And the canine was running out of time before all of that energy came crashing down. Vanishing away from his floating, supercharged bomb of ice, Glacies jumped onto his Bibliotheca and attempted to fly as far away as possible from the inevitable detonation.
Pure, frigid white. Upon impacting the ground with the force of a meteor, any debris that remained in the barren field was flung miles away if not annihilated outright by the frigid hurricane extending far and wide, potentially resulting in numerous human casualties. Only a vast, dense field of snow stood in the wake of the explosion, accompanied by residual winds and heavy snowfall. Where the bomb of ice fell, only a massive crater remained.
Far away from where the battle first began, Glacies dug himself out from a patch of snow. He was a creature of the cold, and he may well have perished despite every preparation were he anything less than that. While he had considered the possibility that Megumi had perished the moment he isolated her with her own destructive power, he was not one to take chances, and her death was worth than a few human sacrifices as he saw it. Brushing the snow from his fur, he proceeded to limp in the direction of the crater, intent on locating his missing Zanpakutō.
Snow and Lightning
Megumi could scarcely believe it as she felt the immense energies welling up within Glacies' Guardian, she, the one who was once thought to be a scion of the Kuchiki clan was being pressured? Impossible, she would not stand for this! Even now, her Kakushitsujiaku was still active, and she could make out how the canine was swiftly running from the area.
She had numerous options to deal with this, but most of them were inefficient; yet with how her senses were ever aware of Glacies position even as he ran, she realized that she might be able to kill two birds with one stone. Although the feat she was about to accomplish would take a lot out of her, to think that she'd been pushed this far by a mangy animal filled her with an anger she seldom felt, she WOULD destroy that wretched dog for daring to stand against the goals of the Coven.
Megumi raised both hands towards the heavens, before she drew upon the now great amounts of ambient reishi in the immediate area. Such as it happened when two mighty spiritual combatants had recently clashed. Lightning coursed around her as the powers buildt up in Glacies' guardian, her feet left the earth as she hovered in mid-air. Five concentric circles of lightning began to appear around her, electricity arcing inbetween them.
And as the enormous energies above began their descent, one that would undoubtedly see the sorceress destroyed if she failed at what she was about to do. Trailing glyphs and sigils of blue light around her, Megumi began to chant the incantation for the most powerful lightning spell she knew. Hiryū Gekizoku Shinten Raihō; a spell created by the founder of the Kidou Corps, Hiroya Ginkarei.
"O Watatsumi, Ye who Rule among Kings, Greatest of Dragons, at thy mercy I submit." She could already feel the immense build up of power all around her, as a lightningstorm emerged from her body and ravaged the surrounding areas with bolts of lightning that would be easily visible to anyone wthin the radius of several miles.
"With reverence I extend my broken claws to the skies. Thunder, Rain, Life and Storm - forgive the crime of this broken thrall:" Every syllable that Megumi uttered cost her dearly, as she could feel her spiritual energy struggling to keep up with the immense power required to cast such a powerful spell. Yet she pushed through and persevered to speak the final words of the Incantation.
"Descending Before Rainfall. Hiryū Gekizoku Shinten Raihō!"
A gargantuan beam of electricity and spiritual energy issued forth from her hands towards the plummeting remains of Glacies guardian, and it reached it just before the entire object explode with the force of a thousand raging blizzards. Two powers rarely seen in the human world clashed in that moment, sending thunderous shockwaves of lightning and ice reverbating across the heavens themselves, the noise was defeaneing to the point that Megumi feared that her ears might burst from the strain. For several seconds the forces of her spell clashed with that of Glacies' guardian, but eventually the penetrative forces of lightning succeeded in ripping through the explosions center, dispersing its catastrophic effects elsewhere although greatly weakening the impact of Megumi's spell in question.
This gigantic beam of lightning then struck the heavens clean, where it dispersed into aurora-like ripples across the night sky. As the sorceress fell to her knees on the ground, heaving from exhaustion as she struggled to regain her energies. A pox upon that blasted dog, how dare he make her exert this amount of effort, trash should realize their nature and calmly present themselves for execution. From above the effects that Megumi and Glacies' spells had had on the environment presented a curious phenomena, for it resembled a human eye from above, a massive circular expanse of snow and ice, and at its center a black mark of shorched earth.
"Well done, sorceress."
Glacies, having made his way back to the battlefield, spoke those words with a calm, almost sympathetic tone. He could sense that the sorceress' power had waned considerably in overcoming his attack, and although he himself suffered from considerable exhaustion and a sprained leg, he was now free to act as he pleased with his Bibliotheca. Before this moment, he had been too occupied surviving Megumi's overwhelming power to launch a proper assault of his own, and now the opportunity lay bare before his eyes. But he would not merely end this fight with his Bibliotheca. He had other plans for the zealot.
"Shall I tell you a story, decrepit cretin?" he spoke. "Long ago existed a preeminent cult not unlike your own. I stood among them, sworn brother of its leader; yet so little did I know how I truly came to be... nor my cult's own avaricious shadow. Ere I was slain by a traitor in hiding, something was made known to me: my parents were accountable for the advent of the goddess we worshiped, and by that sin were they imprinted with a curse... a curse that I would inherit from them. It was of little consequence in my former life... but now I find it to have been a blessing beyond all else, for with the power of that very curse... I may invoke power from the memories of my former existence. As for what that means, we shall now both see, for I have not invoked it before this moment. Shall I speak to you the name of that very curse?"
Buckling his legs and lowering himself until his mouth was virtually against the snow, the canine drew forth a wicked power, manifested as tendrils of dark energy spouting from his body.
With the tendrils wrapping around corner of his body, Glacies was engulfed in a roaring black eruption that had oddly minor effect over the surrounding snow. When the energy dissipated and could no longer obscure whatever was within it, the canine known as Glacies Fidus was no more."With that said, allow me to enlighten you, sorceress," spoke a younger voice in a less condescending tone, in the same spot the canine once stood. In his place, a young man gazed before the sorceress with a deadpan expression, wearing a hakama which made him appear as a Shinigami. The only thing left unmistakable was his eyes and the badge he wore around his neck.
"I am Glacies Divus Crux!" the young man firmly announced, "Founder of Diluculum Sanctus, brother of Axenus, sentinel of this world and the next! I am he who wishes to reclaim all he has lost, and beyond even that, I am... Lieutenant of the Thirteenth Division. Greetings."
Having made his formal introduction, the founder proceeded to walk toward the sorceress in a deliberately slow pace, calling his Zanpakutō into his hand by merely extending it to his side. "I will not claim your life. If you would merely forfeit, I will not continue this battle."
Though powerful beyond all comprehension, the founder's intention was not at all to overwhelm his opponent. Indeed, he had transformed only so that he would possess greater control over his own power, for it was no longer his intention to kill Megumi, but merely to survive whatever spell she may conjure against him until she had exhausted all of her energy—to break her spirit and capture her, assuming she did not merely surrender immediately.
By now, the sorceress stood tall and proud once more and quietly observed as the canine was replaced by a young man. She remained passive while he spoke, not out of interest or even a desire to be polite. Nay, these notions held no sway over Megumi when she dealt with those who would oppose the Coven; it simply behooved her to play along to an extent, such that she might regain her composure and shake off her temporary exhaustion.
She could tell that her adversaries powers had increased, although she was unsure of how much. Although his sudden arrogance suggested that he thought he could defeat her minimal difficulties at this point. Such a laughable notion.
"The term lesser lifeform seems applicable given your unfounded arrogance. Do you think this is over, that you have won." Megumi's lips split apart to reveal a wide grin, before she began laughing hysterically at Glacies' attempts at diplomacy.
When she stopped, her eyes were furious and veins throbbed in her forehead. "Don't presume to talk back to me, filthy parasite. We will usher into our utopia, such is the will of a God."
In that moment Megumi let her reiatsu be unleashed in full; it was as if her entire body radiated lavender-colored flames that rippled outwards in waves, threatening to simultaneously elecotructe and burn whomever stood in her way. While the flashing lights and splendor of her energies captured Glacies' attention, she utilized her unique talent, Uraomote in order to instantly weave two spells into being; finely entertwined and manifested. But although she did so, the only indication was a brief flash of blue, then nothing at all. Ultimately, Megumi didn't intend to attack just yet.
Glacies came to an abrupt stop before the pressure exerted by Megumi's Reiatsu, although not because it had overwhelmed him. While before such a blinding display of lights would have rendered the founder incapable of perceiving his enemy's actions, he now virtually possessed the pinnacle of Nefas capabilities, able to perceive his enemies' actions by reading into their very soul. Even with all of his natural senses rendered null or useless, Glacies could now trace his enemy as effectively as ever. He could sense the sorceress had conjured something into existence, but whatever it was mattered little to him; at least at the moment.
But if she would take so long to attack him, perhaps it was his turn to act first. With his massively improved command over water and ice, Glacies kicked up an avalanche of snow underneath him, intent on obscuring Megumi's own view if not engulf her outright. Materializing a small shard of ice above his palm, he proceeded to graze it with his Zanpakutō before flicking it towards the mounting blizzard where Megumi once stood.
But he was not quite finished. Corpus Ubique Praesens was a well-known method of instantaneous movement for Nefas, but beyond that, it could be used to transport objects and even other individuals wherever the user pleased—it was vastly superior to the movement afforded by Glacies' Bibliotheca. Applying that very technique on the shard of ice, Glacies instantly transported it within mere inches from Megumi's heart as it moved to pierce her. If she had so much as touched it, she would be rendered static by the power of Sibilus Vertex. Beyond that, the avalanche along with its small size rendered the shard nearly impossible to perceive with one's eyes alone.
While Glacies summoned his blizzard, Megumi raised her hand in preparation to cast a spell in return; but in that moment she suddenly felt a stabbing pain in her chest. But that was the least of her worries, as the affected area quickly turned numb and unfeeling, spreading at an alarming pace. Had she not unleashed her reiatsu earlier, she wouldn't have had time to react, Megumi didn't know what it was, although she had observed some unusual phenomena during their battle. Such as large ice formations that remained far above ground, seemingly frozen in place.
On reflex, Megumi spoke aloud the name of a spell of purification; lesser known among the Gotei 13, one that cleansed the spirit of whomever it was cast on. Like most spells, it wasn't perfect, but fortune smiled at Megumi as she discovered that it did indeed apply to whatever the power of her adversary was. Her body briefly lit up with green light, and the spell that had taken ahold of her was broken, allowing her to move freely. For the first time since they met, Megumi regarded Glacies as something other than a pest, and her tone turned slightly less venomous.
"That was.. unpleasant. It would appear there's more to you than cheap mimicry of the noble art. However, despite your efforts, it appears that the unique powers you possess can be dispelled through Kokkai."
Megumi didn't appear the least bit concerned with the snow, ice and cold wind that was heading her way; and it was soon revealed just why. For once it drew within her immediate range it melted, then evaporated instantenously, due to a source of overwhelming heat around Megumi's current location. Undoubtedly the spell she had woven earlier. And now, the entire area around them both was covered with innumerable water droplets and saturation that reflected the pale moonlight. Megumi wasted no time in exploiting this newly afforded advantage; as she without the slightest gesture or word spoken caused nineteen branches of lightning to emerge out of thin air all around Glacies, the arcs of lightning connected with the water droplets and used them to spread around instantenously, and within a single moment Glacies was within a large cage of scintilating lightning which then swiftly surged inwards in an effort to completely disintegrate his body while limiting his movement to the barest minimum.
But the witch cast another spell simultaneously, although at further strain to her energy resserves. This spell was vastly different from those she'd used up till that point, it was her third mastered spell; and one she'd used to brainwash others to the Coven's cause, a spell of enchantment, Hakufuku. Ordinarily, Hakufuku was primarily only effective if the opponent met the casters gaze, but when wielded by someone as skilled as Megumi, it had powerful effects even when that wasn't the case. In the very moment the spell was cast, a vivid dark blue sheen seemed to color the environment and black feathers fell from the sky like snow all around the combatants. It was a powerful spell and its effects were always useful once they took root, and often proved a deadly distraction in and of themselves.
The moment the spell came into being, was also the moment where the coursing lightning rushed inwards to destroy the brazen enemy of the Coven. Its influence lingered at his mind, and probed darkly, attempting to suffocate his conciousness, his very ability to conduct himself intelligently and render his body lethargic, drowsy and slow. It was a spell that could do all of this at once, for it attacked the very mind of its opponent, thus, although Megumi's elemental magic was fearsome all on its own; this additional distraction, that sought to sap his ability to respond properly might very well be enough to pacify him once and for all.
Glacies raised an eyebrow upon sensing that the sorceress had overcome the effects of Sibilus Vertex. "Perhaps I should have frozen you literally instead," he mumbled to himself. In attempting to capture the sorceress, he had already made the fatal mistake of using his Zanpakutō so unsuitably, at least to an extent. He chuckled almost involuntarily at his predicament, finding slight humor he could not quite place.
The founder did little but remain firmly in his position as the sorceress instantly evaporated his avalanche and nearly the all snow around them along with it, transforming their surroundings into a damp tundra. And before he could consider taking advantage of such an environment himself, the sorceress had already made her move, using the saturation in the air to encase him within a prison.
Lightning. What a funny coincidence that he would find himself standing before a woman in command of it yet again. It was an almost riveting reminder of all his experiences with both his former partner and the woman he now called Captain. He vividly recalled the day he first met with the aforementioned woman and was soundly dominated by her power; but through that battle, he had learned numerous methods of diverting electricity with his own command over water.
The founder was transfixed, almost hypnotized by his illuminated prison as he only began to recognize the similarities between then and now. Perhaps even in his restored form, he was still Fidus along with Divus Crux. Megumi's own command of lightning was truly palpable—overwhelming and versatile just the same.
But in the end, it was still a far cry from that of his Captain.
Megumi had done well to take advantage of the aerosol generated by his avalanche against her Reiatsu. It was both a cunning move and a grave mistake, for Glacies held command over all water in his surroundings, no matter its form. Because the lightning prison before him used aerosol as a vector, dispersing the prison would be as simple as changing the form and shape of the water in the air and moving it according to his will.
But as the founder began to do just that, creating innumerable shards of ice along with ropes of water and using them to scatter the lightning every other direction in a marvelous spectacle, he suddenly found his consciousness slipping from him, his vision wavering and his thoughts scattering into nigh disarray. With his instinctive lust for knowledge, Glacies was well-read regarding virtually all forms of Kidō, and he promptly recognized the effects of Hakufuku. He might have very well been left with no effortless option were he not a Shinigami himself.
Closing his eyes as struggle to retain his focus on diverting the prison, he managed the words: "Bibliotheca Caput Quinque: Ferio: Kokkai."
In his present form, Glacies could not use Kidō, and so he opted to rely on his Bibliotheca, using the knowledge he stored of the very spell Megumi had used herself. With his mind renewed, the founder was relieved to see he had successfully undone Megumi's prison. But now was no time for revelry.
In the same period of time he was occupied with escaping from his prison of lightning, Glacies used the aerosol to forge countless ice shards covering every corner of the land before loosing them all in Megumi's direction with a snap of his fingers; but that was merely a cover for his true intentions. With the ice shard he had infused with the power of Sibilus Vertex, he had managed to time-lock small bundles of snow with the help of his avalanche, just before he had teleported the shard inches from Megumi. With their newly-gained resilience, Those very bundles survived Megumi's Reiatsu, and in doing so, acquired significant energy. With the stasis lifted, the snow would be reshaped into deceptive shards of ice that continued their path to Megumi with the speed of bullets. Glacies was fully aware that the sorceress could and would likely attempt to blast away every shard with her Reiatsu just as she had done with his avalanche. Were she to do just that, she could blast away all but the shards empowered by that same Reiatsu, which would continue unhindered and impossible to tell apart from the others. This time, he would flash freeze every inch of her body the instant any of these shards came into contact with her. He had no desire of repeating past mistakes.
Might of Magic
"You're proving to be persistent, trash like you should just allow yourself to be squished like caterpillars. Roll over on your back and die, you spindle-legged man-pooch!"
All around Megumi, projectiles of ice were rapidly approaching at great speeds. but the sorceress made no effort to evade or protect herself in any way whatsoever. For in the moment they came within a few yards of her they instantly turned to steam and vanished up towards the cloud. If Glacies took the time to inspect the cause catiously he'd find that there was a great many sources of immense heat around the sorceress. Through her magic, not a single shard of ice managed to get even close to her, much less touch her. She, perhaps one of the Coven's most zealous and ruthless members looked at Glacies with eyes the color of an overcast sky. When she spoke, her voice was like cold steel, if there was anything left of the young woman who once idolized Glacies Captain, it was well hidden. Crushed under the brutality of the Coven's leadership.
"Your own form of magic, the menial displays you've assaulted me with thus far. It appears to tax your life directly as opposed to your spiritual energy, whenever you've used it in my presence, you have instinctively flinched at its release. Clearly it is a primitive art without true merit to the Coven. In other words, I shall release you from this world as the stepping stone you are meant to be."
Megumi extended her palm and within its confines a miniature whirlwind took shape, as she stealthily wove another lesser spell into existence with her free hand. Then with an elegant flourish she proceeded to unleash an omnidirectional blast of wind outwards in all cardinal directions, seizing ahold of the now great amounts of ambient water in the area and hurtling it miles away with the sheer force of her spell. Truthfully, she'd let Glacies maintain this advantage of his for far too long, if only because she mistook it for being a personal advantage as well. Her latest failure at destroying her adversary had proven otherwise.
The blast of wind, powerful as it was quickly headed towards Glacies himself; but its power wasn't strong enough to be of much affect to him alone. This might lead to him dropping his guard for half a second, which was all that was neccessary to destroy him. For just before the winds left Megumi's immediate surroundings they vanished in favor of a raging firestorm of transcendent azure flames, the transition was so flawless that it would give little to no time to properly react, and sudden enough that it might momentarily stun Glacies for its sheer splendor. Then a gigantic wave of immensely hot blue flames would wash over him in an attempt to incinerate his body and destroy all that he was, it attempted to curl around him and cradle him within a multi-layered cocoon of blue flames. Sealing his efforts at escape and finally culminating in a raging cyclone that hurled blue fireballs across the battlefield and set a large portion of the surrounding area ablaze with blue flames. So great was the sheer heat of it that although a direct hit was likely to inflict lethal damage, merely being close to the flames might inflict aggravated burns on their own.
When the fiery cyclone at last dispersed, the battlefield was encircled by towering walls of blue flame, and those selfsame blue flames ravaged the woodland around them. But the most striking changes was the sudden presence of nine large orbs of blue flame that orbited around Megumi like planets around a sun, their heat was palpable, and they were what had rendered his previous attempts at utilizing ice null and void. For the clever Sorceress had hid them through the use of Kyokkō; masking even these powerful elemental from Glacies sight and ability to sense energy, allowing the spell to silently grow as it fed on the energy unleashed by both combatants. This combination of Kyokkō and Sōkatsui was what she'd woven into existence during the brief respite she'd been afforded earlier.
Megumi herself had also changed to an extent, there was a certain air about her that suggested that she had come to respect him as a threat. She'd unsheathed her european sword, a curiousity to see on a magician, but the most noteable change was a mighty aura of blue flames that was clad multiple times around her body and made quasi-corporeal, making it a potent defense but most importantly, made it extremely risky to attack Megumi through physical means. Megumi had determined that she fared best in a ranged battle and she was of a mind to ensure that her foe didn't catch her off-guard like he had before. She'd almost lost due to that oversight. Some ways behind Megumi was the lodestone, although it had originally been small and unseemly it now stood like a miniature monolith upon a scorched field. Darkness seeped into the world around it like pus from an ulcer, it appeared to spread quite quickly and at this rate the first casualties would occur before noon came.
Glacies' ever deadpan expression belied his growing frustration. He exhibited no motion as the sorceress proceeded summon forth a fierce gust of wind, seemingly denying him the advantage of whatever aerosol had remained after his attack.
But even as his body was consumed beneath the subsequent vortex of mystic flame, he remained perfectly still. In fact, it appeared as though the flames merely danced harmlessly around his body. A dense vapor accumulated in the eye of the cyclone where Glacies stood unharmed in an isolated space, and the founder closed his eyes, entering into a state of focus.
He had tried and failed to make the sorceress see reason upon reawakening his ancient power—to realize that all her efforts to overpower him thenceforth would be rendered meaningless, no matter what. His only option was to kill her.
"Were you under the impression... that you could so freely deprive me of my power?" he cryptically spoke telepathically to Megumi as the cyclone continued to persist over his surroundings. "Certain to say, you have denied me convenience, but know also this..."
And when the flames at last scattered, what appeared to be a towering waterspout stood in its place—but nay, one could not surely say it was comprised of mere water at all. The pure white substance sparkled beautifully before its own mesmerizing radiance. It truly resembled something otherworldly.
"... You have, without nary doubt and against your own interests... swayed my vigor so very unfavorably," Glacies finished, yet concealed before this unusual liquid. Contrary to all his previous actions, he was very much capable of conjuring vast quantities of water on his own, even without any water present in the atmosphere at all. In doing so, he could grant his water special properties and alter its appearance drastically as a result. Beyond that, he could alter its temperature according to his desires and prevent its evaporation against any sort of heat. In his human life, his dominance over water could have been considered something greater than absolute.
His 'plan' was as follows: to demolish his enemy with all the power he possessed—to dominate her in her own game. To that end, he would unleash enough divine water from the skies above to flood a city whole. The sorceress would find her attempts to evaporate his water countered by his own power to regulate its temperature. And with any water she did manage to burn into vapor, he would merely transform it into water anew. It would be the purest expression of his power against hers. And he vowed to win against all odds.
It was true that manipulating water came at the cost of his own life force; such was a glaring weakness his entire race possessed. But Fluens Exsecratio was a technique that granted him power from his own memories as a Nefas, a race that did not possess such a weakness. As such, he could continue to control his element for a far greater duration than what his own limitations would normally allow. Indeed, if he had not transformed, he might have already died. Because he only a Venator Scientiae attempting to imitate a Nefas through unnatural means, he could not utilize all of the techniques he once possessed, but nevertheless the feeling of his restored human body had made him more exuberant than ever. It was a feeling he would forget, even if he could never use Fluens Exsecratio again.
But before Glacies could last utilize the greatest extent of his powers, he all too suddenly felt them slipping from his grasp. He gasped with shock; his transformation vanished. Now he was again a mere canine under the shadow of his own human existence. He had never used Fluens Exsecratio before this battle—he could never have anticipated such a fleeting duration.
But the sparkling waterspout persisted for but a moment thereafter before plummeting into the ground like a tidal wave, affording the canine a moment to prepare one final attack. Using the flood to briefly conceal his movements and hopefully catch Megumi off-guard, Glacies darted out of his own water, charging straight into the sorceress with his Zanpakutō held in his mouth. In the same instant, several ethereal hounds with tails seemingly boundless in length spawned from the residual divine water, flying towards Megumi from every direction. In the same instant the hounds seemingly collided with their target, Glacies resolutely swung his Zanpakutō downward.
The result might have been considered more surreal than destructive. A garganuan, pure white ice sculpture in the form of a bestial maw spanned many kilometers across the land. Where Glacies and Megumi stood previously now existed a glowing lake of solid ice, embellished by the frozen tails of the hounds that once were; it nearly resembled a forest of sorts. In the heart of the forest stood the thorny root of the ice sculpture, where Glacies now stood encased in his own ice, having unleashed the remainder of his power. He could escape on his own given a day or two, and it was the canine's hope that when he awoke, Megumi would be no more, having either been frozen alongside him or disintegrated into nothing.
But was that truly what he now desired? Or had he lost all hope of reclaiming his humanity and merely seek to end his pathetic existence? In that one momentous moment, the once great founder surprised even himself by his own disregard for not only his life, but everything he formerly gave himself to: his new companions; his unfulfilled promises; Soul Society in its entirety. Everything that once meant something to him, however he neglected to admit it to anyone. If he were to survive, he could continue to ponder these feelings—he would at least have that to look forward to.
End of a Skirmish
As Glacies gathered water once more, in an attempt to overwhelm and best her once and for all, Megumi drew upon the massive reservoir of energy that was the many orbs of Sokatsui that now dotted her surroundings in order to cast one final spell. At its conclusion, her resserves would be spent, leaving her with only Byakurai to defend herself. Imbued by her will, the flames that surrounded them both began to turn from azure to violet, and their heat increased exponentially with each passing motion as Megumi began the incantation.
"O burning child, murderer in the womb; to thee I extend my hand."
Behind her, the now bright lavender-colored flames gathered in a large corona, like the halo of a goddess. The flames of Haien now reflected scenes from the bloody past of
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, where he was killed by his own father for burning his mother to death.
"A fathers grief, your mothers scream, the river that boils in blood."
Megumi raised her hand above her, as from its palm an impossibly bright lavender light emanated, and it was in that moment that she vanished in a sea of ice and frost, frozen in still motion, but just before the cold took her voice she uttered the final sentence of the Incantation.
"I beseech thine return, Kagutsuchi!"
No sooner had the words been spoke, before the entire forest of ice directly surrounding her and Glacies, in all of its wondrous splendor simply ceased to exist. It had vanished in bright violet light, in its place was neither moisture nor water, for the ice had been abolished by the power of the Shinto God of Fire, invoked through the sorceress' use of Haien. Glacies now lay on the ground, no longer encased in ice but untouched by Haien's flames, for it had been invoked against the ice, not against him.
Looking down on Glacies, Megumi approached him with sure steps as her hands crackled with the pale lightning of byakurai, her features had gone from disdain to hatred. A look at her side, which was turned black with blood revealed why, for miracolously, the canines last attack had pierced through her. As a Shinigami, Megumi knew she would survive such an injury, but words couldn't express how she felt at being so badly injured by a mageless.
Her expression turned to stone, her eyes grew strangely cold and distant; reflections to her wicked resolve. The first bolt of lightning tore straight through the dogs limb body, the second one struck somewhere else, charring flesh deeply as blades of electricity ravaged his skin, lacerating it and inflicting untold deep cuts, Glacies was then barraged by innumerable bolts of lightning that ripped, tore and charred his body. Soon the air grew putrid with the smell of scorched meat. Once she had had her fun, she raised her hand one final time and unleashed one last bolt of lightning to pierce through his skull and end his life.
But this last bolt of lightning never reached its prey, for a man dressed in billowing blue robes over a Captain's haori appeared in that moment and dispersed the spell with one of his own. Kazuya Kuchiki looked at Megumi with great anger, but also not an insignificant amount of grief.
"It pains me to see what you have turned into, Kuchiki Megumi. Where does this malice come from, I wonder; you need to be stopped but my greatest duty as a Captain is to my subordinates."
Understanding that she could muster no offensive against a Captain, Megumi gave Glacies one last look, a glare promising his future demise at her hand before she vanished back to protect the lodestone. While Kazuya teleported both himself and Glacies to a safe sanctuary where he might begin the process of saving the canines life..