It all started that day. The day she died.
Masaki. His mother. Dead because of his ignorance of the truth.
Ichigo had hit his head pretty hard falling down, and the trauma of learning that his mother was dead didn't help matters. He eventually recovered, but his life was forever changed.
The first thing he saw were the lines. That was the day his world changed.
"What are these lines Ichigo-kun?" asked Ryuusuke Ishida, the head Doctor and owner of the hospital.
When he had mentioned those lines to his father, he had looked concerned. Ichigo had been around the clinic often enough helping out here and there to know that his dad feared he had head trauma.
"I don't know what they are! They won't go away!" said Ichigo, upset.
He had tried touching one, only to watch as his finger go straight through. Since it had been his arm he had touched, he had felt sick and he was terrified of what would happen if he traced one.
Ichigo's mental condition only grew worse the longer the week went on. The lines he saw were driving him crazy! Eventually he couldn't take it anymore when he saw them on his twin sisters.
Ichigo ran away from Karakura Hospital, trying to get away from those awful lines. Something about them was wrong, and his body reacted violently upon contact with even one. He didn't dare trace one, afraid of what would happen if he did.
He eventually came upon an abandoned park, where no one else was around.
"Why are you running little one?" asked a voice.
He turned and found a woman with long red hair behind him.
"I don't want to see them!" he cried.
"See what?" she asked.
"These lines... I'm afraid if I touched one, something terrible will happen!" he said crying.
"These lines...are they everywhere, even on people?" she asked.
Ichigo nodded miserably.
"Oh you poor thing..." she said in sympathy.
It took her an hour to calm the poor kid down, and explain what was happening to him.
"You have gained a very special gift. Though you might not see it that way now, it will help you later," she said gently.
"What are those lines?" asked Ichigo.
"The recent injury and trauma you received have given you a rare gift called the Eyes of Death Perception. By simply tracing those lines you can end the existence of something. But they come at a terrible price. If you use them too much, your humanity becomes skewed, and you become very aware of those who are not human around you. It may even drive you to do something that you normally wouldn't, like murder someone in cold blood."
Ichigo looked like he would start crying again. He didn't want to hurt anyone!
The red haired woman hugged him tightly.
"Don't worry little one. I have something that might help you until you're ready to handle this power," she said gently.
She reached into her briefcase and pulled out a pair of glasses. They were oval in shape, and he had seen other kids wear something similar in school.
"Try these on."
Ichigo did, and when he opened his eyes the lines were gone.
"They're gone!" he said.
"Those are special glasses. They hide Mystic Eyes such as yours from view...or in your case, they allow you to avoid seeing what's in front of you. They aren't perfect, and if you use those special eyes of yours too often or too much they will only dampen the effects. But they can allow you to live a normal life until you're ready to use that power of yours."
Isshin found his son a few hours later, and froze.
Ichigo watched as his father talked to the woman...and he couldn't disguise the relief when he learned what was actually going on with his son.
"Ichigo has awakened to a rare set of Mystic Eyes?" asked Isshin.
"He has the Eyes of Death Perception. The lines he sees are in fact the lines of existence of everything around him. So long as he doesn't trace them, he should be fine. I am curious as to how the son of a former Shinigami acquired those eyes though," she said.
"Masaki, my wife...she was a former Magus. She apparently attracted the attention of a noted Wizard Marshal and quit her studies as a result. As I recall, she had a set of Mystic Eyes as well, and I think she was teaching Ichigo how to be a Magus."
"Well that explains one thing...how a shinigami's son could have Mystic Eyes... Was there anyone your wife associated with, or did she teach Ichigo on her own?"
"She just started teaching him, and I'm fairly certain she only activated his circuits a week before she was killed by a hollow."
"I forgot Karakura was filled with those annoying things. The good news is that Ichigo can now kill them with ease, however it would be better for all involved if he didn't learn to use those particular eyes just yet. I've managed to keep him from using them for now with a little scare, but you might want to keep an eye on him."
"In all honestly I would prefer my son be a Magus rather than a shinigami. At least then he would have some protection from those damn nobles."
"I'll ask around for a teacher...chances are that he'll have to go to Clock Tower on his breaks though," said Touko.
"I can live with that. What of the girls?"
"Any competent teacher can show him how to awaken another's circuits...and it will help him learn things he needs as well later. If you're lucky, he won't attract the Wizard Marshal's attention... Zelretch is known to break his students."
"Zelretch? That was the name Masaki cursed about when she finally came clean about being a Magus!"
"I'm not surprised."
Time skip to age fourteen...
Ichigo sighed as he leaned back into his chair. Today had been hectic, but at least he was making headway into his personal project.
After the incident six years ago when his mother died, Ichigo had been learning magecraft from the one person who was nearby to train him...a priest who gave him the creeps named Kotomine.
That man had a screw loose, because he delighted in comparing Ichigo to his only other student, Rin Tohsaka.
Ichigo had obtained copies of all his books, mostly to avoid having his sisters come into contact with that nutjob. He did not like Kirei...and neither did Rin for that matter. He was barely civil with the only other occupant of the Church, Gil.
Ichigo had read about Apostles, but when he first met Gil his first thought wasn't Vampire.
His first reaction was that the man was a spirit of some sort.
At least he didn't piss the guy off like Rin did when she saw his red eyes.
It was his summer break from normal school, so he had been shipped off to England for another round of what he called 'summer school' to his normal friends.
In reality it was much different. Rin was still pissed that he had a free admission to Clock Tower simply because one of the Magi had mentioned his unusual heritage and the fact he had gained Mystic Eyes.
The first snide Noble to comment on the fact he was a half-breed and mention those special eyes to Ichigo walked away with a broken nose and a black eye before the teachers stopped him.
The fact Ichigo had been quite vocal about wishing he never had the eyes and that his mother was still alive had been heard loud and clear.
After that no one was stupid enough to bring it up again.
"Having fun Ichigo-kun?" asked Waver.
Waver was Ichigo's tutor as he was one of the few who could speak Japanese without giving Ichigo a massive headache from his accent. There was also the fact he didn't look down on those of Asian descent like most.
"I can't wait until I pass this exam. Only one more year and I'm free of that damn Kirei," said Ichigo.
Unlike Rin, who was clan heir to the Tohsaka clan, Ichigo was the son of a normal Magus. Thanks to the fact he taught his sisters magic at night, he had practically skipped several different years ahead of the curriculum and was about due to receive what was left of his Mother's Crest, or what remained of it after the attack. It had come as a nasty shock to the Magus Association to find out that certain hollows could devour a Magus' crest and their circuits.
"So how's that project of yours going?" asked Waver.
Ichigo had chosen to study Mystic Eyes as his area of Magecraft, which made little sense to his scant few Mage friends. Most only studied them long enough to either awaken a set, or create them. After that they usually dropped the research completely.
Ichigo already had a pair, ones that were coveted by several, yet he studied the creation and alteration of Mystic Eyes once they were formed. Waver had no idea why until he asked his student.
Then he wondered why he had been so baffled in the first place.
Ichigo was not like other Magi. He didn't like having the ability to kill with minimal effort. Instead he was looking for a method to change his eyes to something less dangerous, or at least had a similar effect but wouldn't drive him to kill indiscriminately.
It was what endeared him to the Enforcers. As long as he pursued that avenue of research, he wouldn't be on their eventual list of idiots who had gone too far in their path to the Root and get himself killed. With his speed and those eyes, Ichigo could be a very dangerous opponent if he had ever put his mind to it.
"I almost have it, but there's some key part missing. Every time I try to change the eyes with prana, they just start throbbing and the lines start to become clearer even through the glasses. I've had to ask Touko to change the prescription."
Waver winced. The fact he had to change the 'prescription' of the glasses meant the enchantment was either weakening (not likely) or the eyes were getting stronger in power (highly likely).
"Have you tried another method of energy?"
"I've tried several, but they all boil down to the same thing...my eyes stay the same. There is one last thing I intend to try, but I have no idea how to go about it. Which is why I'm going to do something stupid later..." said Ichigo.
"Ask Zelretch for his help. With what I have in mind, he might be interested," said Ichigo. Waver winced in sympathy.
Zelretch had expressed an interest in his one-time student's son, if only because of his bloodline. However he had never formally approached the boy because he wasn't interesting enough yet.
If Ichigo asked for help, that would quickly change...Waver could only hope that the Wizard Marshal didn't break his most promising student.
Ichigo took a deep breath, gathered his courage as a Magus, and knocked on the door.
"Come in," said an older man's voice.
Ichigo walked in, his research notes in his bag. Inside the room was the infamous Wizard Marshal Zelretch, Master of the 2nd True Magic Kaleidoscope and known troll. Also in the room was his surrogate granddaughter Arcuied Brunestrud, one of the True Ancestors.
Zelretch grinned and Ichigo had to remind himself why he was here in the first place.
"Hello Kurosaki-san," said Zelretch.
"You know him grandfather?"
"He's the son of one of my students. She had quit the game, but her son has been most interesting since the incident. You specialize in Mystic Eyes, don't you Kurosaki-san?" said Zelretch.
"Why would a Magus specialize in Mystic Eyes? Don't they usually drop the research once they obtain a set?" asked Arcuied.
"I'm looking for a way to change mine to another set. Unfortunately I've had no luck with it," said Ichigo. He wasn't afraid of Arcuied, but Zelretch scared the hell out of him.
The Apostle Princess gave him an amused look.
"Are you afraid of me little Magus?" she asked, showing fangs.
"Afraid of you? Not a chance in hell. It's him I'm worried about. Compared to Zelretch you're as threatening as a caged lion," said Ichigo honestly.
Arcuied blinked twice. That...was odd. Zelretch started laughing hard.
"Oh? Do explain that comment," she said, flashing her claws.
"You just kill people. He's a damn troll, and he's not afraid to break people. I remember far too well the stories my mother told me about the teacher who ruined her career as a Magus," said Ichigo flatly.
She seemed very satisfied by that response, amusing as it was.
"So you honestly have no trouble with vampires?" she asked, calming down.
"I'm a half-shinigami. I have no room to talk," said Ichigo deadpan. Shinigami were notorious for being on the extreme end of the balancing equation. They wouldn't even allow a half-blood to live if they found them, let alone let a human gain their powers without killing the soul reaper responsible and the human in question.
And there were the tales of the Quincy clan, who didn't agree with the soul reaper's policies. They had the unfortunate problem of attracting hollows because they mixed spirit energy with prana, and when they defended themselves they got into an all out war between the hollows. Eventually the shinigami stepped in and all but slaughtered the clan, claiming they were effecting the world's balance.
Which Ichigo thought a complete load of bullshit to be honest. It might have effected an area of Japan, but he sincerely doubted that the Quincy were killing that many hollows since they were only available in certain areas of Japan. Plus there was the fact that there were literally billions of people in the world. How could killing a few thousand hollows wreck the balance?
So no, Ichigo had no real love for shinigami considering his only defense against them was the fact he was a Magus and trained.
His response seemed to satisfy the girl, and he finally had a chance to ask something that had bugged him. He had heard rumors Arcuied didn't drink human blood after the incident with Roa, but how had she been avoiding the obvious blood cravings?
So he asked.
"I don't drink blood period," she answered flatly.
Ichigo pushed up his glasses.
"Do you get a regular transfusion or do you use blood bags from normal donors?" he asked.
"Transfusion? Blood donors?" she asked confused.
"In the normal world, there are medical efforts to help those who have lost a lot of blood. People donate blood for free or for money, and the doctors match up the blood type. It's given through a needle through a vein."
Arcuied looked intrigued.
"Tell me more," she said. It sounded like a way to get blood without the nasty side effect of accidentally turning someone.
Ichigo explained how a blood transfusion worked, and how the needles were disposed of in a sterile way so that they couldn't infect people with blood based diseases. There was also the fact that the blood was always inspected before going into circulation to weed out those who had a disease and wasn't aware of the fact, or the generally malicious who wanted to infect others because they could.
"Sounds like an interesting way to work around that no-blood rule you have," he said.
After Roa, Arcuied had sworn off drinking blood directly. It was a good idea, but the downside was that she had a slower healing rate if she hadn't had blood in a while. And blood transfusions were common enough that it wouldn't draw attention if she were discreet.
It would neatly solve her problem of keeping her healing factor up without worrying about infecting anyone and accidentally making them an apostle.
"So why exactly would a Magus be so interested in Mystic Eyes?" she asked finally.
"I wear these to keep my eyes from affecting my day-to-day life. Because of the incident in which my mother was killed by a hollow, I have gained the Eyes of Death Perception. As I have no desire to see the lines of existence or the areas with which to kill in a single blow, I have been looking for a way to alter the eyes, or at least find a way to turn them off. Failing that I am trying to find a way to get contacts that act the same as my glasses, as they are much easier to wear and less likely to fall off," explained Ichigo.
Arcueid seemed satisfied by that answer.
"Using prana wouldn't help. Most Magi would kill for those eyes. If anything using your magic would only make the eyes stronger as the circuits would get used to the strain of using the effect," said Zelretch.
"Which was why I came to you for help. I am aware that as the son of a former captain-class shinigami, I have a rather large store of spirit energy to use. Since it is similar, but not the same as prana or other magical energies, I was hoping to see if I could possibly find a way to alter my eyes to use spirit energy."
"An interesting concept...however I believe doing that would only make hollows and spirits in general more visible as a result," said Zelretch.
"I already see them, even with the glasses on. What else would be new?" said Ichigo.
"Well you might be able to see a Servant, even when they're astralized for one. Still, this is an interesting concept."
And with that, Ichigo managed to rope Zelretch into lending his considerable experience towards his project.
Strangely, Arcueid ended up becoming a regular visitor at his family clinic after his discussion on blood transfusions. When he informed his father what she was and why she was really there, he immediately placed an order for her favorite blood types on standby with the hospital.
If it meant keeping a vampire from attacking the innocent and giving Ichigo a nice girl to talk to without hiding anything, then he was willing to let someone like Arcuied around his family.
Damn snow...I keep getting snowed in! On the plus side, it has resulted in a mass update for you, the readers and several new stories! Sorry if I've been gone a while, the snow has been the bane of my existence lately!