End Author's Note
"Am I really ready, sensei? To learn my release, that is?"
Ocean coloured eyes, once full of life, glare down upon the form of a teenager. A voice filled gravely wounded by death answers back. It's hollow. It's broken. Deeper than the darkest of coal-coloured eyes.
"You will never be ready to utilize this release. It will tear your body apart, piece by piece. The sweltering heat will burn you alive within an hour, so you have an hour to use it. By hour's end…"
"I'll die," the teen finishes.
The boy's eyes are downtrodden. To be given such a release at his age, life is unfair. To be granted the power of a star's hypernova, many souls would jump at the chance to be bestowed such an honor… that is, if they knew the drawback of such a power. An hour to use it before your own body becomes ash in the wind.
"There comes a point in someone's life where power is all they have left. Emotion will lead you to an early grave. You need only know sacrifice. My father knew it. His father knew it. His father's father knew it. My whole family line has been cursed to sacrifice what we are to continue our familial line."
The entity with the gravelly voice stands from his seated position on the cold, unforgiving ground. The rough cobblestones, once a dull grey, are now burnt midnight. From an unknown source of heat, but to the teen, it isn't unknown. The power his teacher has, even on his death-bed, shreds through his body and always chars the land around him. Such is the way of the sun.
Olive green hair lays matte against the entity's head. Long enough to cover its entire face from view, but an artificial wind always shows the blue of the man's eyes. Or the blue of the right and black of the left. Heterochrome eyes glaring at nothing in particular. Blindness is what some souls say, but the people the entity has slain say differently, but only to him. Only when he uses his power.
The entity slowly stands to its full height, dwarfing the teen by a multiple of two. Now at its height of eleven-foot-seven, it lowers its gaze to the boy. A black, full body cloak billows in the artificial wind it creates just with an aura of omnipotence. On the front of the cloak is an orange spiral, while the back shows a red and white fan. Such simple choice of decoration for the shirt, but it means the world to the man. Mementos of his mother and father.
Sleeved arms shake with age beside the being, but it stays standing tall. Standing strong. It's all a front to keep people aware of its overwhelming power. Or. What the power was before he turned a ghastly age of one-thousand. The de-facto age of someone with his mixed bloodline. The first of his mixed bloodline. He had a sibling, but they fought. Had to kill the other to truly gain the power of their parents. Too bad their parents weren't alive to watch the gruesome battle take shape.
"You will come to know true pain when I grant you the 'gift', young one."
Black eyes regard their teacher with an aura of excitement, but it isn't real. A testament of his ability to lie when faced with absolute fear. Tan skin ripples with the shaking of the teen's body. Short black hair trembles in anticipation. The teen, standing roughly five-eight, can't help but fear the outcome. A statistic rattles in his mind at high velocity. Of his teacher's five-hundred years teaching, one-hundred students were turned to dust by one-percent his power. One-hundred students who were born stronger than all other souls, except his. One-hundred students who accepted the challenge, but their screams radiate around his teacher's body.
"I'm more than ready, sensei. I'll do whatever it takes to shrug off the pain I know will be present."
A breeze erupts around the being's head, whipping olive green hair away and revealing an eye taken over by red and four tomoes. The eye blitz's through the boy's mind and finds every twitch of nervousness, fear, and… pain.
"You feel pain, yet you have yet to feel it. Why?"
The question startles the boy, but he forges on and answers.
"I know I'm ready for the power. I know I'm ready to succeed. But. When I succeed, you'll be gone. I've spent ten years as your disciple. You've trained me to be the best possible. Raised me more than my parents have. When they died, you took me on and trained me to overcome the despair. To learn. To protect. How can I protect when I can't even save you?!"
The demand in the boy's question startles the entity, but a hand slowly raises. Skin wrapped tight around feeble bones, the hand slowly lowers onto the boy's head. The teen's eyes grow wide at the touch. Never before has his teacher done something so sensitive. Having shown no signs of affection before, the teen looks into the eyes of his teacher to see the same dead look. Unfortunately, that dead look isn't there. It's replaced by a look of utmost confidence and sadness.
"I have been your teacher for more than half your life. I watched you grow strong enough to make it here. As your teacher, I know you have what it takes to succeed. However," the teen's eyes are focused on the man as he stalls to take a breath, "However. As your father-figure," At this, the teen's eyes widen considerably, "As your father-figure, it saddens me to see you in pain. I want to see the best of the pseudo-son I've been raising. It most certainly pains me to leave you in such disarray, but it's a father's duty to watch his son succeed him. It's a parent's duty to watch their child be better than them. It's why I want you to lose the pain of the loss you'll face. It's why I want you smile back. Show me you're really ready to face this new role."
The words of the man bring a chill up the teen's spine. The notion of the words also isn't lost on him. To lose the pain he feels and to smile at the terms agreed upon before becoming his teacher's last student. Smile not at becoming more powerful, but at being known as his teacher's only child. Smile at becoming his teacher's successor. Smile at being given a chance to protect.
And he does. A genuine smile. A smile he's never known to have been able to make. All the pain in his life has come to this final crossroad. To feel pain means to fail the task given to him. A hundred students failed because they smiled at the power being given to them. They failed because they still felt the pain of losing someone important.
The entity only smiles back in return, all signs of sadness gone from the depths of his discoloured eyes.
"I can see that."
And the pain is immense. It wraps around the inner core of the teen and threatens to burn it to cinders, but the teen stays smiling. His black eyes never leaving his teacher's red and blue. Fire explodes from the boy's body in waves. It burns and blackens his tan skin, vaporizes the thread of his black and white robe, but doesn't leave him in the nude. The fire disintegrates his blood and bones, ruins the black of his eyes, annihilates the colour of his hair, and fuses his lips together. It completely destroys what was once a handsome child, leaving behind a still burning husk, but the boy is still smiling. The same smile plastered on his teacher's face.
Even through the blindness of being burned to death, the boy never loses his smile. Likewise, no matter the impossible heat attempting to liquidate his core, it stands firm.
"Ten percent done," comes the rough voice of his teacher.
Cracks begin to form along the boy's skin. Cracks aligning to the veins underneath. Cracks splitting the skin in different sections. Blood vapour begins to meld into the fire surrounding him. The white flames turn pink when all the teen's blood joins the fray, but the smile remains.
"Forty percent done."
All that's left is a skeleton with organs floating in the fire, but the smile stays the same. Somehow, a smile can be seen then all that remains is a skull with a steaming brain.
"Twenty percent remaining."
The rest happens too fast. The pink coloured flames erupt in black. The fire of a god shreds through remaining organs and turns every revealed bone to an ash pile. The ashes float aimlessly in the air, but the fire slowly fades away. The ashes, now with nothing suspending them, fall to the ground in a heartless heap. What was once a proud teen willing to learn is now nothing but a pile of death.
"You did it."
A tan hand forces its way out of the smoldering pile, followed by its arm. A head follows. A neck. Shoulders. A whole torso with both arms. And finally, a full body, clothed in the same apparel as before, is standing with a hand upon its head. The boy is back from the grave. And still a genuine smile is adorning his face.
However, new muscle mass is adorning the boy's arms, torso, and legs. Shoulders are more pronounced and he doesn't look like an average kid. The process of a phoenix burning has aged the boy a couple hundred years. Now standing at six-foot-five, the man is a spitting image of his father. His eyes are more piercing and all baby fat on his face is gone, revealing slim, battle-hardened features.
And black eyes watch in fascination as his teacher begins to fade into dust. The same smile on his teacher's face never falls away.
"Use me well, Genryūsei."
As soon as the words are done illuminating the air in black fire, a cane appears in the now man's hand. A beige coloured cane with a spiral top is gripped with such fierceness in the man's right hand, you'd think someone would be foolish enough to try and take it.
"Ryūjin Jakka. That's your name, sensei. How fitting."
'I understand now, sensei. The need to sacrifice when one is in a position to protect. This is the moment you've been waiting for, isn't it?'
The Zanpakutō vibrates as if answering a silent yes.
'So I see. I suppose, then, it's time to protect what I came to being in charge of.'
Nieve turns around to face the form of the alive captain-commander. One completely dressed and mint Genryūsai Shigekuni Yamamoto with his hand on a released Ryūjin Jakka.
"Shinigami~!" Nieve screams to the high heavens, but it does little to perturb the man he's facing.
"Zanka no Tachi."
I'm back. Fuck it. Might as well run through this arc really quick. Strange chapter. If you didn't like the two-year hiatus, kiss my ass. Life doesn't wait for people, so you shouldn't wait for the life of another.
Guess who Ryūjin Jakka's parents are. You might get it. You might not. I won't ttell any of you.