Greetings everyone. I come bearing a little new story here, which was the result of a little ByaRuki plot bunny I suddenly thought about while listening to a love song and watching an anime about demons. I just suddenly got so fascinated with the idea of sacrifices turned into something more XD
I know there are still plenty of my ByaRuki fics still on hiatus, so why do I keep coming out with new ones? I don't really know actually XD my mind just goes and I just find myself writing... and decided to put up the first chapter here. It's set in alternate Bleach universe version I guess, since some of the aspects of this story aren't according to the actual Bleach storyline.
'The Emperor's Last Consort' was recently updated, do have a read if you are interested. :)
I hope you all will enjoy this first chapter, I actually had fun writing this one... and to be honest, I have been struggling to find fun in writing nowadays.
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Bleach and its characters. What I own is the story told in this fanfiction.
Karakura was a small, peaceful village situated at the west of the Fuku district of Tokyo. The sea was close by, and the fishermen went out everyday to brave the waves for a good profitable catch. The harvests were good with each coming season, which the farmers then used to trade with neighbouring villages for luxuries and rare goods. There was a school, a hospital, basic telecommunication facilities and clean water supply to the village. People made their income by honest means, and were kind to one another.
But the village of Karakura… hid a terrible secret in its innocent midst.
The village's prosperity appeared man made, but it was long believed that the favourable rain during harvest season and the low waves which made good sea catch possible… were the work of Gods.
Death Gods, otherwise known as Shinigami.
Karakura had long observed the worship of Shinigami, powerful Death Gods that wield immeasurable power from their realm… who acted as guardians of the Karakura village. The villagers believed that it was the Gods who made the lives of the villagers easier, that they could be happy and still yield good harvest with minimal effort.
But the prosperity came with a horrible price.
Every year, a single virgin girl was to be offered to the Shinigami as a sacrificial bride. The girl was tied to a single wooden pole at a high precipice overlooking the sea at night and left there to be claimed by the Shinigami. By morning, the girl would be gone… and never seen again. Some legend has it that each girl would be devoured by the ravenous Death Gods down to the bone so that nothing was left, other tales tell of girls being brought to palaces in the sky where they were forced to become slaves. The precipice soon became known as the Virgin's End, and people took to avoiding the place at night as they believed it to be haunted by the restless spirits of the dead girls who had been sacrificed.
Families would often hide their daughters when the sacrifice date loomed near, or find a good man to marry her off to before she was picked as a sacrificial bride. Some of the poorer families were not so lucky, and were paid handsomely to offer their daughters as sacrifice to feed other family members. The ritual was all cleverly covered up by the town counsel and the local police in the village, to avoid attracting unwanted attention from law enforcers of neighbouring villages or towns.
But one day, a careless person desecrated the Shinigami temple in the village by spitting on the front door of the sacred place. The culprit was never caught. The Shinigami had been furious and unleashed their wrath upon the village people. Waves were crashing over boats in the sea, causing fishermen to lose their lives fighting their way back to shore. The rain dried out, cracking the soil and withering precious vegetables meant for harvest.
The town counsel hurriedly called an emergency meeting to discuss regarding a plan to appease their angry Death Gods. It was decided that another sacrifice was to be made, even though another girl was sacrificed a week ago as their annual sacrificial bride.
A sacrifice… to appease the angry Death Gods.
"My dear Rukia-channnnn!"
Rukia sighed as she heard her bedroom door open. She stopped reading her book and turned around. "Yes, Otousan?"
"Rukia-chan, it is time for dinner… and for Otousan's extra-spicy-and-sweet fried egg! Your favourite!"
Rukia could not help smiling, even as she observed her eccentric father Kurosaki Isshin. He had on a bright red apron with pictures of kittens on the front, and had a cooking ladle in one hand. "Yes, of course."
"What are you studying, my beloved third daughter?" Isshin scrunched up his face as he approached the petite girl seated at her desk.
"Oh! It's a list of potential colleges that might be really interesting, I was just looking them up." Rukia smiled brightly as she smoothed out three pieces of paper on her table. "I know I'm still in high school, but I will be finishing soon so I thought-"
"But I thought Rukia-chan was going to finish school and then get married to my idiot son, Ichigo as per the contract, remember?" Isshin frowned slightly, holding up the cooking ladle as if to emphasize his statement
Rukia's eyes widened. "I just turned seventeen! I can't get married so fast! Stop joking!"
"There's nothing to be shy about, my dear! I will talk you through the painful first night… and then it will all be okay!" Isshin winked to a mortified Rukia.
Rukia never knew her birth parents, or any blood relatives she had had. She had only been a baby when she was left on the doorstep of the orphanage in Karakura, with only a note with her name 'Rukia' on it. Rukia had then grew up a solitary but strong little girl behind the cold walls of the orphanage. All that changed when the orphans were brought on a rare trip to a funfair when Rukia was six years old. She had been cornered by the usual orphanage bullies for the toy rabbit she had just won from a darts competition, and she had started to fight back as she always had. A strange boy with fiery orange hair abruptly came to help her, even though she did not know him and did not want help from any stranger. When both of them had beaten the bullies away, Rukia was surprised to find the boy's father standing nearby with an ecstatic smile and remarking that he was going to make her his third daughter and future wife to his son (the orange-haired boy promptly punched his father in the face). They left then, leaving little Rukia with that wistful feeling of having a happy noisy family.
The very next day, Kurosaki Isshin turned up at the orphanage, much to Rukia's shock and surprise. Rukia learned that his wife died a year ago, and that the orange-haired boy had been so very close to his deceased mother ('No wonder he looked so morose,' Rukia found herself thinking). Isshin wanted to take Rukia home as a playmate for his son, to take his mind off the bitter thoughts.
And so he did.
The Kurosaki family was like a firecracker, largely due in part to the psychedelic Kurosaki Isshin, who was one of the village doctors in Karakura. He had one eldest son, Ichigo and twin daughters, Karin and Yuzu. When Rukia entered the Kurosaki family, she was six years old, and Ichigo seven. The twins were four years old and very bright girls, Karin was the more serious mature twin and Yuzu the quiet homemaker.
Ichigo and Rukia bickered everyday, they fought each other, they were loud and blunt to one another. They went to school together, bickered a little more and Ichigo laughed at her drawings and childlike fascination with rabbits (her answer was always painful - a punch in his face or a jab to his gut). And they stood silently side by side at Masaki's grave on her death anniversary every year as they grew up.
"RUKIAA-CHANN! Are you listening to me?"
Rukia was thrown from her reverie by the loud voice of her father, and hurriedly plastered a smile on her face. "I am sorry. What were you saying?"
"Your first night! Yours and my idiot son, Ichigo!"
It had been one of the regular rumours at school that Ichigo and Rukia were dating, given that they were always seen together. Kurosaki Isshin had also played up the drama that he had brought Rukia home as a child bride for Ichigo, but both teenagers were not perturbed by it. Instead, both Ichigo and Rukia found the whole thing annoying.
Rukia was not very sure about romance with Ichigo, but they were both definitely extremely close to each other. She could talk about anything with him, tell him anything that bothered her even if it sounded stupid, and he could do the same to her. At one point, they did not even need to communicate with words, they could understand each other that easily. But Rukia was still seventeen, and she wasn't one to make romantic love a priority in her life.
"What's all this shouting about? It's irritating." A second gruff voice threw Rukia out of her reverie once more. She watched as Kurosaki Ichigo stepped into the room to join his father. The young boy was dressed in a white shirt fitted to his broad physique and loose black pants. Ichigo had grown so tall over the years, he practically towered over Rukia now. Rukia knew Ichigo was popular among the female students in school, if not for his fearsome height and regular scowl, the girls would be throwing themselves all over him.
"Your father was just talking about our first night when we are going to be married," Rukia remarked carelessly and watched Ichigo's face turn an odd shade of purple as he mouthed noiselessly.
The next minute-
"GIAAARRGGGHHH!" Isshin found his face pressed against the wooden floor of his daughter's bedroom as a furious Ichigo stepped on his back.
"I will see you both downstairs for dinner when you are ready." Rukia chuckled as she exited the room.
"Tuck in!" Isshin smiled excitedly despite the fresh bruise on his left cheek courtesy of his only son. "I hope all of you will find Otousan's fried egg dish fabulous!"
The Kurosaki family were seated for dinner that night, after a high-fiasco fight in the evening involving father and son. Yuzu had scooped out the rice into four separate bowls (with extra helpings for her brother), and Isshin had brought out all the dishes. Rukia picked up her chopsticks and started to help herself to the delicious food. Despite his strange antics, Isshin was as talented at medicine as he was at cooking.
"You know... the village counsel has put up a notice regarding a special sacrificial bride for the Death Gods this week. And they are trying to do it as fast as they can."
Ichigo and Rukia looked up at Isshin's remark, as Yuzu and Karin's eyes widened. All of them, as Karakura villagers, knew about the ritual.
"Whatever for?" Ichigo asked, frowning. "They already had one sacrifice for this year."
"Apparently, the Gods have been angry lately, because of the little spitting incident earlier last week. There have been fishing accidents, and the harvest aren't yielding in good."
"And they think the Gods are angry?" Ichigo remarked in disbelief. "How about repairing their boats first? Or adding more fertilizer to the crops?"
"Whatever it is... Rukia, be careful."
Rukia locked eyes with her father as she heard his words. She immediately understood, and nodded. "I will."
"Stay low for a while, and come home early everyday. You do not want to attract any attention to yourself."
Rukia nodded, her eyes wary. Isshin could be a very jovial father but when he became serious, it usually meant that there was a matter of significant concern. Beside her, Ichigo sat up a little straighter.
"Until this sacrifice is over, I don't want anything to happen to any of my family members."
'Especially me, since I am a girl and I am an of-age virgin,' Rukia thought to herself.
"Alright, clear up for the night!" Isshin stretched his hands above his head. "And don't let the bed bugs bite!"
Rukia finished wiping the table alongside Yuzu, and Ichigo stacked the chairs at the side of the dining room. Karin was looking out of the window.
"Okay, now let's go off to bed and-
KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK.
Isshin looked up, his expression immediately alert. "Who's there?"
"Inoue. Inoue Sora!" A male's voice was desperate as he called outside of the house. "Please let us in!"
"Inoue Sora? Orihime's brother?" Rukia questioned as she looked at Ichigo, who shrugged.
Isshin strode over to the door and unlocked it.
"Thank you, Mister Kurosaki!" Inoue Sora, a thin man with black hair, bowed low at the entrance. His hair was badly windswept and he looked very flustered. "I am really sorry to bother you tonight!"
"Orihime!" Ichigo and Rukia's eyes widened as they saw the figure standing behind Sora.
"Kurosaki-kun. Rukia-san." The beautiful Inoue Orihime bowed low to her friends behind her brother, her brown hair falling in strands over her shoulder. Orihime was one of their classmates in Karakura High, and was very pretty. She was also a very well-mannered girl, and was nice to everyone in school. Rukia had often caught her sneaking peeks at Ichigo, and sometimes wondered if the long-haired girl nursed a secret crush for him.
"What is it, Inoue-san?" Isshin walked forward to calm the panicked young man. "What has happened?"
"My sister! My beloved sister has... has been chosen as sacrifice!"
"WHAT!?" Twin shouts erupted from both Ichigo and Rukia. They both looked at Orihime who was still bowing low and trying hard not to tremble.
"Y-Yes, and we have only just got away from the villagers! What I have come here for... is to... is to ask a huge favour from you, Mister Kurosaki! Please allow your son to marry my sister... to save her from her fate!"
"WHAT!?" This time, only Ichigo shouted.
"I am terribly sorry to have to ask you such a favour." Sora sank to his knees. "Please... allow me to beg you... my sister cannot be sacrificed!"
"Onnisan!" Orihime gasped and went to her brother's side.
"Inoue-san, please... stand up." Isshin knelt next to the young man. "Let us talk this through-
"CATCH HER! SHE IS IN THERE!" Sudden shouts erupted outside the Kurosaki residence.
"You have accidentally led the villagers here..." Isshin spoke quietly as the angry pounding started on the door. "RUKIA! ORIHIME! Get behind us, right now!"
"Hai!" Rukia nodded and pulled Orihime with her, taking refuge behind her father.
"LET US IN! WE KNOW INOUE ORIHIME IS IN THERE!"
"Let them... come." Ichigo's hand fisted as he stood in front of Rukia. "How dare they do this!"
The door was smashed open from outside, as the group of angry villagers entered the Kurosaki residence. A few of them were carrying ropes, and most wore scowls on their faces.
"Inoue Sora, it is time to give up your sister." An elderly man stepped up from the group. "She has been chosen."
"Please do not do this! I beg of you, please!" Sora pleaded with the apparent leader of the group. "She is so very young... with such a bright future! And she..." The young man flung a desperate look at Ichigo. "... she is going to marry Kurosaki Ichigo!"
"What?" The leader looked at Sora in surprise. "She is going to be married?"
"Yes yes!" Sora nodded, his eyes wide in a panic.
The leader turned to Orihime, who was standing next to Rukia. His gaze immediately ticked to the black-haired girl. "Then... we will just have to take Kurosaki's daughter as replacement."
"That would not do, Aki." Isshin stepped forward. "I believe it is not your decision to decide which girl to take as sacrifice on your own whim."
"Then I will have to enlighten you, Mister Kurosaki, that the village counsel has indeed appointed me as leader of this ritual... and therefore any girl I choose as sacrifice at any time and place, will have to play her part to the village. Seize Kurosaki Rukia."
Rukia's eyes widened as the men started to advance on them.
"Rukia is my... future wife!"
Rukia froze, as Ichigo did at his spontaneous outburst. Orihime's eyes widened as she looked between both of them.
"Which girl is your future wife, lad? You can't take both of them at once!" One of the villagers shouted furiously. "We will sacrifice the one who is not going to be married to you."
Rukia looked into Orihime's eyes, and only saw fear there. The demure girl was practically terrified, she would have collapsed long before they could bring her away as a sacrificial bride. Rukia stared back at her father and sisters, and made her decision in a split second.
"Orihime is Ichigo's fiancee," Rukia spoke up.
"WHAT!?" Ichigo's head whipped to face her, his eyes panicked.
But the men had already converged on Rukia, even as she tried to fight them off.
"RUKIA!" Both Ichigo and Isshin threw punches at the offending men, but there were too many. One of them grabbed Rukia by the arm, even as Orihime tried to help her. Another brought the ropes forward, to tie her up.
"Let go off Rukia Nee-san, you brute!" Karin ran up and bit one of the men hard on the arm.
"Ouch! You rascal!" The man shook her off, knocking the young girl against the wall.
"Karin!" Yuzu ran to help her younger sister, as the tears streamed down her face.
"Let go off her! Rukia!" Ichigo shouted as he punched one of the men and aimed a strong kick at another's midsection. He dashed toward the petite girl, and threw off the men attempting to tie her up. "Run!"
"Watch out!" Rukia's violet eyes widened in horror and Ichigo turned back to see one of the villagers swing a wooden bat to his head.
"So have they caught the idiot that spat on our grounds in Karakura, Izuru?" The red-haired male leaned back in his wooden chair, a single strong hand holding onto the bottle of sake.
"I don't think so." The male called Kira Izuru shook his head, his yellow hair combed neatly to cover his left eye. "During my rounds yesterday, I heard them talking about it. It seems they cannot reach a consensus on the main suspect."
"That is awful!" A high-pitched voice cut the conversation short, as a voluptuous woman with long brown hair walked into the meeting room. Her black robes were cut low over her cleavage, exposing an ample amount of skin and a single long necklace. "And Renji, no sake in the meeting room... our Taichos will be angry if they find out." She gestured to her red-haired friend, who frowned slightly.
"As I recall, Rangiku, you were recently found drunk in your office by your own Taicho."
"Shut up." The woman called Matsumoto Rangiku snapped back, but then she smiled. "Hitsugaya Taicho was sweet about it, as always. He's too nice to say anything."
"Probably because she was too drunk to hear all the scolding," Abarai Renji whispered to Izuru and they both laughed.
"Shut up." Rangiku repeated and stood a little straighter. "We are Shinigamis, we deserve time to let loose when our job permits it. Taking care of the realms and maintaining the balance between both can be tiring sometimes."
"And speaking of..." Matsumoto pointed a single finger at Renji. "Is it not his shift tonight?" Matsumoto gave off an airy laugh.
"I hope they have a sacrificial bride prepared tonight, as I heard those humans talking about it. This will be so fun, not to mention that he would throw a fit." The red-haired Shinigami rubbed his hands together, and bared his sharp teeth.
"A silent fit, that is." Matsumoto laughed. "He's not the type to show much emotion, is he? Maybe a vein will twitch, and that's about it."
The group of Shinigamis laughed together.
"But... really." Matsumoto tapped her chin, her tone serious. "He hasn't taken in any sacrificial brides before, has he?"
"That's because he has always wisely chosen the timing of his job shifts in the human world, unlike us. He avoids going down to the human realm when there is a possible sacrificial bride that month. That's why we end up with all the human souls. Extra burden." Renji made a face.
Rangiku smirked. "But it's about damn time that ice prince took in a bride anyway."
"Hmmm.." Ichigo raised his head slightly and immediately felt a shoot of pain down his skull. "Owww!"
"Easy, Ichigo. Take it easy." He heard someone approach him, and then the familiar voice of his father, uncharacteristically serious.
"Oyaji, what happened?"
"Someone knocked you over the head. And now they have locked us up... and taken Rukia away."
At those words, the young boy's head snapped up as he remembered. "RUKIA!" Ignoring the painful pounding in his head, Ichigo stood up straight and took in his surroundings. They were in a makeshift cell, with thick wooden bars. The ground was cold and partially covered with hay.
Ichigo put both hands against the bars and pushed hard. When nothing happened, he took a step back and threw his body against the wooden pillars.
"I already tried everything." Isshin spoke up, as he looked around their cell. "It's hopeless."
Ichigo roared and punched the wooden bar in frustration. "Where's Karin and Yuzu?"
"They are fine, the guards brought them in to see us when you were unconscious just now. They told us that Rukia has been taken to Virgin's End." Isshin was grim.
"To be sacrificed to those stupid Gods!?"
"They are powerful, Ichigo," Isshin spoke quietly.
"I'm going to get her back." Ichigo's brown eyes were serious as they stared out at the single window of the cell where the silver moon now shone in the night sky.
"I'm going to save Rukia."
"Let go off me!" Rukia shouted, struggling against the men who were half-pulling, half-dragging her through the forest. "I demand to see the mayor!"
"The mayor gave specific orders for Kurosaki Rukia to be the sacrificial bride to the Death Gods, for the better good of the people of Karakura." One of the men sarcastically remarked to her as they struggled through the trees.
"Do you not know that this is a crime?" Rukia protested as they emerged onto a rocky precipice facing the sea. This must be the infamous peak, called the Virgin's End, that the girls were often left on as sacrifice. Rukia had long heard scary tales of this place, but had never ventured out to investigate.
And now, here she was. A sacrifice.
The men began tying her around a wooden pole fixed to the ground, even as she tried to fight against them. But there were too many, and Rukia found her hands bound behind her back as they tied her facing the open sea and sky.
"Let me go!" Rukia shouted, but to no avail. When they were finished with the ropes, the men took a step back.
"We are really sorry about this, Kurosaki Rukia." One of the older men spoke. "Please have pity on us, and try to understand the situation Karakura is in. Your sacrifice will save us all. We will take care of your father and family, do not worry. Peace be upon your soul."
"This is nothing but a pagan belief!" Rukia shouted back furiously. "What makes you think tying a girl up here is going to help the village?"
"You don't understand. But you will." One by one, the men bowed to her and started to leave. "Peace be upon your soul."
"No! Don't go! Let me go, you fools!" Rukia struggled again, but it was no use.
Night had fallen.
Rukia did not know how long she had been standing here. Her arms were sore from being tied behind her back so tightly, and her legs were aching from the long hours of standing. She was hungry and worried sick about her family, with nothing but the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks so far below her as company. It was dark, she could barely see in front of her.
Rukia struggled again to free herself from her bindings for the thousandth time, and the outcome was still the same. Those men had indeed made good on their word to allow her no escape, the tight ropes and countless knots were evident of that.
Karakura was determined to let its Death God have the sacrifice today.
Somewhere behind her, the bushes suddenly rustled slightly.
"Who's there?" Rukia shouted. In spite of herself, she felt her voice shake a little. "I am not scared! And it's really not funny!" Her head whipped desperately to her left to better look into the darkness, but she could see nothing. And the pitch black was starting to frighten her, even more than she dare admit. Who was it? A villager trying to play a prank? Was it a wild animal, Rukia had long heard that there were wolves in the forest. And with her hands tied behind her back like this, she was easy bait right now.
Rukia struggled again against her bindings, as she heard something rustle again in the darkness. What was that? Her breaths quickened, but Rukia tried hard to fight the panic down. She was going to get out of these troublesome ropes and find her way out of the forest, she was going to find Otousan and then take the earliest boat out of this awful place…
Rukia felt that bitter tickle start in her throat, even as she struggled to free herself.
She was a long way from home, and there was no one here to save her now. Her own village had all put her here, as a sacrifice to those Gods they worshipped… they did not care if she was dead or alive. And Otousan… and all her friends… they were all locked away, they could not help her now.
She was going… to die here. Alone.
Rukia felt a warm tear slid down her cheek… and shook her head. She struggled even harder against her ropes, her skin stinging from the rope burns. Even if she was going to die, she was going to die trying.
I want to go back to Otousan and Ichigo and Karin and Yuzu! I want… to go home!
This time, the rustling was a lot louder than before, and Rukia turned her head this way and that to catch the source. Suddenly, a wild brown rabbit jumped out from the bushes nearby, and started to approach her slowly. Rukia sighed slowly, as she watched the rabbit. The sight of her favourite animal calmed her somewhat, and she realized how scared she was right now. She had broken out in a cold sweat, and her chest was heaving up and down with both effort and fear. Her heart was pumping loudly in her body.
And then it stopped as she heard the sudden whisper.
"So you are the sacrifice."
Rukia's eyes widened as she heard the deep male voice… as the moonlight chose that moment to unveil itself from behind the treacherously dark clouds. The silver light bathed the precipice on which she now stood… and she was not alone.
A single menacing tall figure stood in front of her, back turned to her. The rabbit immediately turned and scurried back into the darkness, as if it sensed the impending danger ahead. How had this man gotten here without her realizing it? She had heard no footsteps! And he was standing at the tip of precipice so easily, with no fear that he would fall down onto the treacherous rocks below.
He was dressed in black robes that billowed slightly, even though there was no wind… and the sight chilled Rukia to the bone. A collared white haori covered the black robes, and the frightened girl noted the number 'six' printed in black kanji over the back.
Death itself had come to claim her.
Hmm... and wonder who it was that has come to claim our scared little Rukia? XD XD XD
I adored writing Rukia as an adopted daughter of the Kurosaki family - it was like the original Bleach all over again. :) And now she's forced to take Orihime's place as sacrifice... and someone (*smirk*) has indeed come to claim her as his sacrificial bride.
Do review this fic for me, and tell me what you think! :) :)
So long, and keep the ByaRuki love.
p/s: Is it me, or does the ByaRuki fandom just appear dead nowadays?