Legends create majesty. Legends create dreams. Legends inspire and live on beyond death eternal.
Break, shatter, tear.
A sword alone can carve the way. A sword alone will tread through the beaten path, and strive towards a promised redemption.
The light in Ayon's eyes momentarily dimmed to be replaced by the eyes of another. It was a giant of a man with a presence beyond a simple soul.
Pernida felt a shudder travel down its body, a permeating sense of desolation suffocating it in its intensity.
It was simply a beast enshrouded in madness.
'My labours. My vindication.'
Muscles bulged starting from Ayon's grip all the way to the rest of his robust body, rippling with sheer physical power.
'My doubts. My fears.'
The sword shifted ever so slightly, the knees dipping, veins popping over skin.
Thunder echoed within the heavens, writhing masses of lightning crackling into arcing tendrils.
Ayon who still had something to protect, and he, a Zanpakuto spirit who'd watched its user lose everything through his own hands…Never again.
Time will enter its twilight.
The world seemed to come to a halt, sound entering silence, sensation entering muted numbness. Everything was still, and yet from one spirit's perspective, it was only a breath's time.
No matter how many times it would be cut, more and more would appear. Its scales were iron, its breath, a corrosive poison. Its teeth were razors, its claws a storm of serrated blades.
Recall it. The desperation, the rapid beating of the heart, the roar of flowing blood in that moment.
When despair creeps ever closer, and the vitality of life grows ever dim, the hands that wielded a bow are the same hands that hold this sword.
'The Shooting Hundred Heads.'
Spiritual energy erupted from around Ayon as everything simply just moved.
There were no indications, no warnings, or signs, it was instantaneous.
One moment, thousands of Pernida's hands filled the space to the brim, and in the next, blood was showering.
"W-What?" Pernida's voice echoed, the sheer bafflement and confusion mixed within, tinged with incomprehensible wariness, but even that was muted in the droning hum of God Speed.
It was practically impossible to react to, let alone for Pernida who never bothered dodging in a fight to care about doing so now.
A berserker's war shout reverberated in the sudden quiet, a final swing brutalizing the rest of Pernida's bodies now scattered into fragments of sand siphoned away.
"He's just going to reform," Sung-Sun gnashed her teeth before Mila-Rose nudged her side and gestured, her lone arm full with carrying Aaroniero.
Frowning, Sung-Sun turned to Apacci, Ichigo, and Silent.
The atomized pieces of Pernida that should have reformed were all flowing in Silent's direction, glowing in faint blue spiritual light. It was surreal in the sense that it was neither forceful, nor too passive. Like floating dust in the wind, the particles gathered into a funnel that directly attached itself to Silent's spiritual signature, robbing Pernida of its power.
"As expected," Aizen's voice echoed in Silent's ears; she, the most dumbfounded of all. "All Quincy possess the means to harness and gather spiritual energy from the environment to create spiritual constructs and arrows. In which case, it can be considered a natural inclination, a subconscious tendency to naturally circumvent the flow of the order set by the Soul King. Granted, Quincy are by extension, conduits of Yhwach, thereby creating an aspect of rebellion, but I digress. Simply put, you, a Quincy that shouldn't exist under Yhwach's eyes, have somehow transcended the rest- an unknown factor with a voracious appetite."
Silent mulled over the words, feeling as if the majority of what Aizen muttered was mere speculation. However, what was also true was the situation that was unfolding.
Outstretching a hand, she could feel Pernida's energy flowing into her, increasing her own reserves and elevating her level of existence. Her brows furrowed in worry and doubt. If there was any true sign that she wasn't the same as she was before despite turning into a hollow, it was this. What exactly had happened to her?
She was a variable that shouldn't have existed, no; she was a variable whose existence she knew was impossible to begin with, and yet here she was. Inexplicably, the process of her conception into her current form was what played a key factor into everything.
Yhwach was the son of the Soul King, making the power he granted to Quincy on the level of the Divine, and yet Silent's circumstances weren't so different. Having been consumed by Grand Fisher, the energy stored in a certain sword's dual aspects of demonic and holy powers belong to a similar level of existence.
If Yhwach was a container that freely held and granted his breadth onto others, then Silent was a conduit who'd processed similar powers to obtain her current identity. Coupled with a Quincy's ability to harness and assimilate the energy of their environment, Silent's circumstances had evolved to assimilate the energy of her creation, holy attribute, or the divine- the energy of the Soul King, Yhwach, and by extension, all other Quincy.
Hence, Zero, the origin beyond the granted letters.
"You know, I hate the guy, but it actually worked," Mila Rose murmured, lips curling, half satisfied, half annoyed while thinking about Aizen. She shifted her weight and slung Aaroniero over her shoulder before inwardly sighing in relief that they'd won.
Afterwards, came appreciation.
The way Mila-Rose proudly looked at Ayon in pride was practically mirrored by Apacci and Sung-Sun. Though Sung-Sun was trying to be more reserved about it, there was no hiding the constant tugging of her lips, and it was truly justified.
Ayon was strong, making one have to think twice about underestimating Sung-Sun, Apacci, and Mila-Rose in a tight situation. Already, they'd sensed even Lady Harribel take a glance in the middle of all the fighting.
In any case, across from Mila-Rose and the others, Silent was still standing rooted as the last of Pernida's energy was absorbed by her. Frankly, she didn't know how to feel, or how to react. Judging by what happened just now, she didn't have to be stupid to infer that she was likely to be spirited away from battle to battle.
Lost in her thoughts, she ended up making the mistake of growing complacent despite openly proving her importance in this war.
Ichigo's voice resounded in Silent's ears before she felt a blur of movement whisk her away from the spot that she was standing. A second later and several penetrating beams of light utterly decimated the area in which she had stood. Unfortunately, not everyone had been as quick to react as Ichigo who'd trained his focus on protecting his mother from the moment she'd been goaded here by Apacci.
Mila Rose suddenly grabbed Apacci by the shoulder before she could lunge forward. In front of them, several holes had suddenly appeared to pierce through Ayon's entire body. The wounds were caused by the same rays of light that tried to pierce through Silent earlier, but with only a single difference.
A majority of the beams had focused on the arm that Ayon was using to hold onto the obsidian axe-sword, and directly severed it. The sword sailed through the air, and was lost in the turbulent winds and power surges of the battles occurring all around.
In the distance, a being with eight golden wings mottled with holes was peering over. On his figure was a priestly garment, his face crossed with white lines while a large halo hovered atop his head.
The figure had noticed the peculiarity. It hadn't been Ayon that was the main factor in the increase in strength and abilities, but the sword in Ayon's hands.
Upon separation, there was a distinct change in Ayon's temperament. He began howling and raging like a primal beast, losing the steady cool of the figure who'd struck with an unseeing blow. Moreover, Ayon didn't even try to dodge when several more beams of light shot towards him and tore him into pieces.
Sung-Sun, Mila-Rose, and Apacci flinched, pain shooting up their offered arms as Ayon died and his remains returned to them. The three would have to regather their spiritual energy to an optimum level if they wished to resummon Ayon in any capacity. Given their present state, it wasn't likely.
"Fucker!" Apacci grimaced, glaring at the figure in the sky, but almost cowering when the figure's gaze focused on her. She knew that she wouldn't be able to dodge the speed of the light beams, and felt dread pool in her stomach.
"Shit, he's going to attack again," Mila-Rose pushed Apacci aside and unabashedly raised AAroniero up as a shield. If they were going to get hit, he'd contribute first.
"Hey!" Ichigo gritted his teeth at the sight of his cousin's fate, but he had no room to worry about him now. The figure's attention was also locked-on to him and Silent. "Focus!"
Tensing their bodies, the air suddenly shifted with unbridled spiritual pressure.
The figure hadn't been the opponent of Apacci and the others, but someone else's prey.
Instantly, several world-shaking Cero blasts were fired at the figure, but all phased through it. At this, Coyote lowered her gun across from her opponent and grimaced that her opponent had the time to observe another's battle.
Then again, everyone had taken notice of Silent's development.
Even Yhawch's features crinkled into a frown in the distance, feeling as if there was an arrow pointed towards him. However, even if he wanted to do something about it, he couldn't with both Aizen and Shirou pressing him. Therefore, he could only leave it to the members of his upper echelon, one of which had already taken the initiative.
Lille Barro knit his brows, letting out a small hum as numerous Ceros shot through him. He was the one who'd effectively neutralized Ayon's threat when an opportunity had presented itself in the beast's triumph.
It was a simple matter. Although Ayon's feat had been able to inwardly unnerve Lille to a degree, it wasn't enough to make him panic, but observe further. This was how he'd noticed the peculiarity of the sword that Ayon was wielding and opted to sever it.
Still, Ayon was a secondary priority compared to the one Lille had actually intended to eliminate.
Pernida's sudden loss inwardly ruffled him. Given Pernida's ability and the gift bestowed by the Lord, Pernida shouldn't have been defeated by a mere show of strength or lethality. Instead, what enabled Pernida's defeat was nothing else but the arrival of a single clueless looking woman.
More than anything his instincts screamed that the woman was dangerous.
Lille narrowed his eyes through the ambiguity of his humanoid-looking head. His form was no longer the same as his base, as he'd activated his schrift.
Understanding the gravity of the situation, Lille had started the battle using his Quincy: Vollständig. He'd already suffered from his own arrogance prior, and got killed by an attack he hadn't been able to perceive in time. It was only through his Lord's grace that he was returned to life, and he would not forget his Lord's favour.
From Yhwach, Lille was granted the power of the 'X-Axis.'
It allowed him to pierce through anything in his line of sight with perfect accuracy and without the need for projectiles using his rifle. It cannot be blocked by any defense, and in his Vollstandig, the beams of light he could shoot out all carried the same property. So long as he could perceive it, it would be penetrated with unerring accuracy.
The strongest aspect of this ability itself was the means to 'pierce' through attacks in a form of intangibility. Any attack that came at him that he could visualize, perceive, or discern would simply pass through him as his body was enshrouded by the power of the 'X-Axis.' He was basically invincible in any form of combat, making him develop the habit of keeping one eye closed. This had cost him in the Soul Society when an inconceivable blade killed him in an instant.
In this form, he could see all. There was no longer a weakness to be taken advantage of, but nonetheless, this was why his focus fixated on the woman. Somehow, someway, if she got close, Lille felt on some level that he'd experience difficulty in managing his Lord's gift.
'A fellow Quincy?'
This much was clear for Lille to observe from the woman's actions, but that in itself was what confused him.
What was that power? It obviously wasn't something granted by Yhwach, but it carried similar properties to the Lord's Holy Selection. Didn't that mean that the woman could siphon off their power if she so willed it, or was it an unconscious factor?
It didn't matter, as the whole situation simply left a sour taste in his mouth. The implication that Silent's existence alone could prove a detriment to Lille had him on edge as the Captain of Yhwach's Upper Echelon. When the chance had presented itself, he hadn't hesitated to attack, but the speed of that other Hollow who saved the woman was surprising-
A blast of potent spiritual energy momentarily redirected Lille's focus of attention.
"Futile," he scoffed.
Scowling, Coyote fired again, trying to analyze the extent of her adversary's ability, and growing frustrated that nothing seemed to work. She was stronger than Lille. This was for certain as power output practically dwarfed his by leagues, but at the same time, her attacks just wouldn't hit.
Shifting her weight to the side, Coyote nimbly fired several rounds to counter the beams of light sent her way. Even if Lille appeared intangible, the attacks he fired were still made of tangible spiritual energy, allowing Coyote to deftly block them shot for shot.
Shockwaves lifted dirt and white sand into a storm, Coyote careful to keep her eyes trained forward. Flicking the sleeve of her left hand, the furred overcoat slung around her shoulders fluttered to reveal a second gun within. Snagging the handle of the gun with the pinky of her left hand, she twirled it into her grip and fired to her left.
A blast resounded, followed by an annoyed huff.
Coyote could hear it. No, sense it was a more apt description, but there was no need for any further thoughts on the matter.
The way her opponent fought was practically at the height of arrogance.
Lille neither bothered to dodge, nor put much care in anything Coyote was doing, focusing instead on an unending barrage of attacks, marksman to marksman.
"Colmillo," she whispered the call for a fang. Blue spiritual light soon curved around the handles of her revolvers and formed a sharp point overhead. Her eyes shut, her muscles growing taut.
The buzzing of the wind echoed.
"Meaningless," Lille's derided, the mottled wings over his back forming several beams of light as Coyote suddenly appeared and cut across Lille's neck.
This attack too, phased right through, leaving her open for attack.
Gnashing her teeth, Coyote rounded, flipping herself to reorient and raising her revolvers to fire back against the ensuing onslaught.
"The losing side in a battle is always slow to understand and slow to react."
Coyote tumbled across the air from the impact, her heels dragging into the spiritual platform she formed beneath her. Blue flame-like energy ignited around her left eye before blazing into a fiery verdant hue in the shape of a skull and cross-bone.
"Wolves," Coyote muttered beneath her breath, the fur of her grey coat shooting out into dozens of spiritual wolves.
"Do you not understand?"
Coyote ignored the preaching. She'd already experienced the suffocating loneliness of loss. To her, she could accept nothing else but victory if defeat meant subjecting herself to that specific hell again.
The spiritual wolves around her bound forward, streaking through the air on powerful hind legs.
The dull glow over Coyote's lone eye acted as a targeter, directing the wolves to converge.
"Another useless endeavor. When one stands before the presence of an envoy of God, the disparity only becomes that much clearer."
Lille continued to speak, but Coyote was too focused on developing a battle strategy to care.
One wolf tried to bite into Lille's wings, but once more phased right through, followed by the rest. Legs, head, body, arms, hands, eyes, halo, it didn't matter where Coyote chose to direct an attack. All yielded the same result.
'Ceros don't work, physical blows don't work, concussive impact from explosions don't work either…' Coyote gradually began to ball her hands into fists. Her observations were leading her towards a path of no victory. How could she circumvent this? Sure, she could think of a way to do some form of damage, but it wouldn't be enough to kill.
Vision, no- perception.
Already, Coyote had discerned that the main factor of Lille's power. The closest she'd come to doing any form of damage was in the smoke of her cero's explosions. Coyote had noted a delay in Lille's intangibility in that moment, but even then, there was no way Lille would be able to not sense an attack coming.
Ceros and her own general fighting style were too over-the-top as most wouldn't be able to survive against her to begin with.
Coyote was stuck in a rock and a hard place.
She was stronger than Lille. Just the difference in their present power output assured her, but right now she was weaker.
Blocking several more beams of light, scratches and grazes formed over Coyote's hardened skin. While all she could really do while observing was defend and accumulate injury, Lille remained in a peak state. Soon enough, the difference in their spiritual energy would even out as Coyote took more and more damage.
Lille was smug, his voice almost condescending.
"How useless. From the moment His Majesty entered this place, the spirit of resistance has already falle-"
"You talk too much," Coyote interrupted in scorn.
Lille shut his mouth, but quickly followed up with several more strikes that unexpectedly managed to pierce a quarter-sized hole through Coyote's left shoulder.
Blood spurted over her coat, her expression twisting as she backpedaled in a bid to now determine her adversaries range and speed of attack.
'Time of delay…none.'
Coyote twisted her foot and side-stepped with a burst of Sonido, then another, and another, until all that were left were after images.
"Such a tactic will never work against an envoy of God."
Lille's eight wings unfurled and from each hole in the pinioned feathers of light, beams formed and fired, simultaneously striking each afterimage.
Widening her eyes, Coyote clicked her tongue and immediately fired a retaliatory strike point blank.
The subsequent impact had her plummeting to the ground where she bent her knees and gouged two scars into the flowing sand.
She panted for breath, features remaining ever composed despite the dilemma she was facing.
A method had to exist, a means to bypass her opponent's ability not through strength, but through another means…there was a way. Her mind had long since processed it. The problem was as stated before, it simply wouldn't be able to kill Lille.
Knowing that she couldn't risk being in Lille's line of sight as she formulated a strategy, she decisively shot into the hill of sand and dirt, creating a terrifying storm that she hid within.
Lille swept his gaze in the ensuing cloud of dust, irritation clawing at him.
His main priority was still Silent, but he was no fool. After having been killed by letting down his guard, he would not do so again, especially when Coyote did possess the power to kill him if she actually got a shot in. As such, he'd decided to settle this problem before focusing on the others.
"Hiding like a rat?" He goaded.
"…" Coyote wouldn't rise to it, her brows furrowing in thought until she noticed something at the corner of her eye.
A Zanpakuto Spirit.
It was a woman with long vibrant red hair tied into a flowing pony tail. The fringes of her hair outlined her face, the glow of her eyes filled with a resolve for battle. On the spirit's figure was a form fitting black-combat suit that accentuated her curves without limiting mobility.
Coyote stared at the Zanpakuto Spirit, and the Spirit stared back in turn within the cloud of dust and debris.
"Allow me to aid you," the spirit spoke first.
Unused to fighting with others that weren't her 'family,' Coyote gave a knee-jerk reaction typical for someone of her strength. "I do not need your aid."
The spirit snorted, crossing her arms and not shying away from staring Coyote dead in the eyes. "How do you strike something that can't be hit?"
Coyote mulled the words and focused on the implication.
"You speak as if you have a way."
"Indeed, although certain conditions have to be met which leaves me a little helpless on my own…"
Knowing that the dust would settle soon, and remembering how 'Starrk' had asked her to get along better with others, Coyote eased her guard.
A flicker crossed the spirit's expression before she spoke in all seriousness. "Their strongest attack. I need you to goad their strongest attack."
Was that all? Coyote hummed, recalling the method she'd devised internally. Sure, it wouldn't be enough to kill, but to aggravate into an all-out strike, it was possible. She nodded.
"Oh, I like your resolve. You won't regret this." Saying this, the spirit smirked before dematerializing into the form of a blade protruding from a sphere. It was practically indiscernible from all the other weapons that could be found in Shirou's inner world, so Lille would never expect it. "For now, I'll wait for when the time is right,"
Coyote merely nodded, and said nothing else, preparing herself and letting go of her reservations.
This wasn't the past.
Things weren't the same as they'd been before. No longer was she pursing weakness, but instead, what she needed now was even more strength.
As the dust finally settled, Coyote found herself face to face with Lille hovering in the air above her, but there was a notable change in her entire demeanor. She stood still, arms by her side, and gaze staring past Lille and towards the distant moon above. Memories of the past flashed and blurred, mixing with the lonely isolation of a figure wandering endlessly for 'family' in a barren white desert.
If power was what was necessary, then there was still one step left to take.
"Lilynette." Coyote tapped the butt of one pistol before shaking the other. "Starrk. Wake up."
"Oi you Fucking slouch, you heard her!" Lilynette's voice called.
No reaction. Honestly it was expected considering Starrk's personality, but before Lilynette could blow her fuse, Coyote's features grew more solemn. She understood. Gaining more power for her had always been something to fear. Shirou could stand her presence now, but what if she grew even stronger, and he too could not bear the weight of her existence?
Given Shirou's current state, it was unlikely, but then again, Coyote had never actively tried to get stronger her entire life, but right now, there was a goal more precious than overcoming personal fear.
"Starrk." Coyote whispered while watching Lille gather energy for another volley of strikes. "Our pack. Our family. Weigh it, and then tell me your answer."
A brief moment of silence.
"…At the ready."
Here and now, a supposed envoy of God watches down upon the mortals below, never knowing the potential stored within. Even mortals can slay Gods.
To Starrk and Lilynette, Coyote's form was that of their second release, but in truth, the transformation was in itself only a return to the base form of the strongest Vasto Lorde that had ever existed.
One more ascension existed.
The True release.
Blinding light and searing heat exuded from all around Coyote like a torch, filling the area with dense spiritual pressure. Coyote's hair whipped back, her grey coat billowing in the wind of her surging power.
"Resurrección: Segunda Etapa."
All at once, her energy expanded out and encompassed her form, her injuries healing, as a vivid pair of predatory eyes hardened into cold steel contrasted by steady howling.
Myth speaks of a solitary wolf. The strongest of them all, shackled by chains it itself would have to grow and break out of. This chain in this instance was conceptual, in that it was the terror of loneliness that restrained the nature of the wolf within.
"Dios Lobo del Fin." (God Wolf of the End)
The wolf that swallows divinity, bringer of the end times.
The chain shattered.
Thanks for reading, and sorry for delays and shorter chapter. Things have been getting really busy at my work place as winter transitions to spring, and I've been having less and less time to write. In any case, I hope you enjoyed the chapter and I'd also like to thank my newest supporters: Forge S, Paradox L, Steel 35, Anon, 1reign, Wasa999, Strategy g, Joel L, Ryu, Gabriel, and Dark!
Next update: Fate Beyond the gate
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