Here is the new chapter how you all enjoy it.
Thanks again to Aroneden for getting through twenty pages of proofreading in like a day, mad props to letting me get this chapter out.
Also Phantomzeke is going over my earlier chapters and correcting them so you might see a remastered first through seventh chapter in the future.
Buying time, that was his only goal. The creature's shoulder twitched, her core beginning to twist and he jerked to the side as a spear of dark pink light grazed his shirt burning away the fabric it touched. Her eyes flickered with annoyance as more light gathered to her hand, it was shorter, more like a dagger than anything. As she exploded forward, Ichigo gave way, dodging a slash by a hair's breadth. The next attack sliced a line of burning agony across his chest and he retaliated with a punch that the creature batted aside with her speed and strength, simply greater than a base human like him. Her light dagger almost got him then, a stab at his heart, but he threw himself backward feeling only the gentle sting of the dagger's point kiss his skin. He caught the arm of the creature as he fell, and as he had hoped she did not expect it in time to pull back and her strength, wherever it was from, did not give her any more mass. So his greater weight allowed him to haul her down with him, plant his feet into her chest and complete the roll launching her into the base of the stone fountain. There was a solid whack as her back and head slammed into the structure.
It made her blink for a moment at least and to his surprise there was some blood on the stone as she got to her feet. Odd, he had not really expected to do any sort of damage. Her hand slowly went to the back of her head and came away wet with her ichor, staining her fingers red. Eyes of pure murder flash up at him. Another spear of dark pink light formed, this one fully manifested, griped in both her hands. Power danced along her body as she took in a breath, he brought his hands up as she moved. Her speed was simply too much, to far, pain seared his arms, pierced his chest and sides, each a light blow, almost gentle.
It was easy to keep the smile off his face as the fire of light seared itself into his flesh. He had gotten her well and truly mad which meant she must have forgotten her statement of killing him quick. He had heard death by a thousand cuts was a bad way to go, never expected to experience it himself. Still he would fight back. With a scream he closed the gap, Ichigo grabbed onto the spear with his hands. Ignoring the pain, he butted the creature in the head with his own, once, twice, and then he was thrown off with such force that he slammed into a tree hard enough that his spine seemed to ripple with electric pain. Raynare was screaming now, her hand clutching her face, and Ichigo grinned at the sight of her broken nose. The sight of his grin seemed to enrage her to new heights, he was too stunned from hitting the tree to do anything as she charged and rammed the spear through his chest and back into the tree he was leaning on.
The agony seared the shock from his system, the creature pushed the spear in until she was skin to skin with him forcing his eyes to meet hers. She must have thought him done because when his hand came up and he jammed his thumb into her eye she seemed surprised. A blow like that should have blinded anything reasonable but this creature was not one of them. Her eye did not pop or break, but was surely injured and painful. The spear of light vanished, leaving the small problem of the hole in his chest. A part of him noted that for some reason blood was not leaving his body nearly as fast as it should have. Raynare howled, the sound utterly feral. A pride so wounded there had to be restitution. Her fist crashed into him before he could slump forward and collapse on the ground, blow after blow slammed into him like a baseball bat, his chest, his face all battered by the inhuman power of this woman. Something should break, something should be broken, his mind whispered to him, at least the part still fully functioning. He almost fell again but her hand gripped his shoulder and pinned him back against the tree, he saw her hand then and it was trembling and...bleeding?
The creature stared at it in shock a snarl of pain tearing its way loose from her throat, had she actually hurt herself punching him...how? The hole in his chest still was not bleeding right and she seemed to think so too as she stuck a few fingers in it twisting with the motion, he almost screamed then but with little air in his lungs it came out as a wheeze. "Die, die, die!" she hissed pushing her fingers in further.
"Stop it!" resounded through the park as something solid thwacked into her head knocking it forward. Her face was close enough to his face that he managed to lean forward and bit down on her cheek, when she tore away from him she left the piece of her face he had bitten with him and it fell out of his mouth as he began to slump forward. He caught a glimpse of Issei standing there a look of terror on his face but also something else, anger. He had another one of his heavy books in his hand. Raynare turned her now horrific visage on him making the boy step back and throw another book.
Blackness fell and he was falling, falling into it, into the dark place that was his inner world. It was cold now, and grey had replaced the darkness. He could see it now, the world was the right side up it's broken buildings reaching up like sores, perhaps two hundred yards of ground remained and beyond that a void as deep and empty as space. He looked upon a broken soul, one that hardly had enough left in it to function as one, this had been the damage Zangetsu had meant when he told him the price of the Final Getsuga Tenshou.
The power of a shinigami used the soul, it took power from it as one might the solar energy of the sun. That was where the Reiryoku came from, flowing out constantly from his soul. And, based on what his soul looked like now, what he had done was use the soul itself as fuel. Taken part of the sun and devoured it for power, the power he had needed to face Aizen, to stop him, to save those he wished to protect. This, a broken, shattered soul was all that was left at the end. Perhaps not even enough to pass on, he would just fade away. He had broken his soul to use the Final Getsuga Tenshou and this was to be his end, to end with the death of another on his soul...no he would not allow that. The fact that he was there meant he was not dead yet, he would not die this way, staring into his broken soul. He would die fighting, his every breath, his every drop of blood spent for the sake of another. Something burned in his core, something small, something weak, but perhaps if he called to it, it would be enough. When he reached for it, when he touched the ember of what had once been, something responded, something outside of him. It rushed into his body like a flood and his eyes glowed blue.
Issei screamed in pain as Yumma cut him from shoulder to hip, the blow did not kill him but the pain made him wish that it had, and he fell back, body paralyzed by the raw agony. Tears of both fear and pain dripped down his face but some part of him was satisfied that at the very least he had done something good. Done something right for once in his life, even if it meant nothing, even if he had to die this way. Never got to touch a boob, never suckled that amazing treasure...but he would be content with his death...if only it would hurry up before he lost control of his body.
Yuuma stood over him face dripping with blood, her eyes absolutely insane with pain and hate. Her spear had been raised, both hand gripping its base, she must have tried to say something but the words came out mangled in a banshee scream. He kept his eyes open mostly to see how long it would take for the pain to end, the weapon shimmered and brought her arms to full extension.
White light exploded out of her front, a lance of power perhaps the size of a fist, blood and bone fragment exploded and fell over him. Yuuma just looked down at the hole in her body, stunned. Her head slowly turned along with Issei to where Ichigo Kurosaki stood. White energy had sheathed his right hand, the shape reminiscent of a bow, through its size was comically small like a handgun. His thumb held back the white string and a small length of white light was drawn back as the arrow. "What are you?" Yuuma whispered in shock.
There was no answer as Ichigo loosed the arrow, the beam of light lancing through Yuuma's neck, more blood exploded from her as the body went limp. It, and the head, crashed to the ground, head rolling so that her dead eyes stared at him caught in them her last moments of terror at her impending death. Then the strangest thing happened, she began to simply dissolve, particles of light rising from her body.
Ichigo took a step towards him as if to help him up, before he simply collapsed on his face blood beginning to from a pool under his limp body. Issei felt his heart tear at the slight of such a brave and good soul dying, dying for the sake of someone like him. The tears stung his eyes as the pain became too much and he guessed that he was dying too, or at least it felt like it. That was his last thought before the blackness enveloped him as well. The instant before it claimed him there was a flash, a flash of crimson.
Sona bit back a scream of horror as the teleportation ended, Rias was kneeling over Issei Hyoudou the power fading as she turned him. An angel, or fallen angel was in the process of disintegrating, most of her now the very light from which her God had forged her. But none of that mattered, on the ground lay Ichigo Kurosaki. His hair was matted with blood, his body bruised horribly, a surge of hot rage flashed through her at the sight of Rias finishing her claim on the other boy.
She did not remember her body moving but she was at Ichigo's side before she realized she was moving. Her own power flaring, water twisting its way into existence, she turned him over as her water blocked the exit of blood from his body. His was pale, so very pale, his breath almost inaudible to her inhuman senses. "No, no, no." she whispered, "No!" what in the seven hells had happened, why had he been involved in this. Her sister's warning about the fallen in town rushed back to her head, but they had looked and found nothing.
Oh no, her sister, how would she take this, no this was not right, not fair. There was still so much that she wanted to learn about him, to know, to see him grow...to...to...perhaps...one...day be something...more. And now it was all gone fading before her eyes and should could do nothing, she did not not have two rooks, she did not have eight pawns, she did not have a queen piece, she had half as much as she need and that was nothing at all...unless" her head shot up as Rias approached her face fraught with her own worry, doubt and self loathing. She had made the decision to save Issei, someone she had been targeting for months, and the thought galled her more than it should have. Issei did not look like he was going to die through perhaps that was her own anger talking she had not seen how bad off he was.
"We can get him to the hospital..." Rias said through her words were empty, she could see as well as Sona could the pointlessness of that.
"Rias," she whispered, "I want to do something very stupid, something that I know should not work." She looked down at Ichigo the eight points of his worth floating over his head in her King sight "Will you help me?"
There was contentment as he fell this time, his back was to his broken inner world, his eyes looking up in the the storm shrouded black sky. He was going to fade away now, he knew it, he could hear the remnant of his soul cracking under him far below. Ichigo wondered if Issei would live, the blow he had been given, the odds were not good and even less so for a normal boy who had never had to face death and injury before.
Well, it did not matter. All he could do was hope that what he had done had been enough. Knowing that the creature that had done this would not be hurting anyone ever again was, at least, something he could die for.
Not die peacefully, knowing that he would hurt those he cared about with his passing, but about as close to peace as he could hope to get. He kept his eyes open as he lay waiting for the crash landing in his breaking soul. Then there was a sound, a great sound like the tolling of a bell. Ichigo blinked into the sudden rain as sudden movement pierced the stormy sky. Whatever they were they were huge, monolithic in size, alien in scope. Two dark shapes fell from the heavens, faster than him, and the holes in the sky they left in their wake created a path for light to shine down once more. He twisted his head to watch the shapes as they descended into the void of his soul, down and down and...there was a sound so vast that his inner world AND his soul shook. The sound of two structures the size of Mt. Everest finding purchase in what he had assumed was an endless void. The grey surroundings shattered and color returned in a flood, he could see them now, and he recognized them though what two everest sized rook pieces were doing in his inner world was a question he had no answer for.
There was a moment of silence, as his inner world stopped it's shaking. Then from the crown of the right rook came a cascade of water. It spilled out over the edges of the crown, falling, a tide so vast that it stuck the void with the force of the ocean itself. From the left rook's crown black fire erupted like a torch, starting at the top before wreathing its way down the entire length of the rook, both crashed into the soul void and met with great force. A wave of agonizing steam erupted from the clash of the titanic forces colliding and erupted up at Ichigo's still-falling form. All vision vanished.
Without his sight, there was only pain, pain and...something else. Power, conficting power twisting its way through his inner world, both trying to do something but both were canceled out, no that was not the right term, they were fighting each other. Just like he and his hollow had fought each other. Even with the mask they had fought, and only when he had taken in his power, the entirety of his power, both the hollow and Zangetsu, had he reached true strength. Without his eyes he could sense the powers and he did as he had learned and drew them into himself.
While it was not the worst agony he had ever experienced it would rank quite a ways up there, the feeling of being crushed between the weight of the ocean and a vast burning darkness. His body, or his astral representation of his body, became the dividing line separating, and driving back, the two colliding powers. The strain doubled and redoubled as the forces drew back and crashed against him, eager to seek each other.
But there was another feeling as well now, both powers were doing something. The clash was simply the natural order but for the moments he could keep them separate some of that power began to do other work. There was a tingle at the base of his spine, the root chakra if some of the traditions were to be believed. It was a small spark at first, a distraction from the crushing weight. The spark grew into heat and spread up to just below his navel. Faster than before, heat grew, rising to his stomach, building like an unstoppable force. He screamed as the heat passed through his heart, his throat, his eyes, and lastly his head. Something clicked. His eyes glowed bright blue, and this time his scream was a call, a summon, and with the force of an atom bomb his soul responded.
His body glowed blue, his inner world glowed blue, he drew in everything, the power flooding his soul now reinforcing his will, the two contrasting powers were brought into him fully and as it had always been with Ichigo Kurosaki, child born of three worlds, a hybrid from beginning to end, the powers found balance. It was simply how his soul worked, how he worked, how he had been born. Always existing with conflicting powers that found balance in him, in the uniqueness that made him Ichigo Kurosaki. All his soul had been waiting for was a spark, he realized then, it had never been broken, not really, it had just been waiting to reignite.
Arms caught him, slowing his fall to a gentle drop, the stream still shrouded everything. You could not see your hand in front of your face yet Ichigo knew who held him. He knew it like he knew the sun would rise, like his body knew breath.
The steam parted around them as the figure gently landed on top of a single lone flagpole atop the tallest building. Ichigo knew the face as well as he own, the strong sharp way, the pointed nose, the scruff of a beard, the dark cloth black on the outside but white on the inside, as it had always been. Zangetsu and the Hollow, two sides of the same coin. "His name is White." the old man said with gentle reproach, "What have I told you about the importance of names?" Ichigo embraced the part of soul reborn in fire and water, in will and hope and the old man embraced him as a father might a long lost son.
"Welcome back, Ichigo." the rough voice started and somehow those words made it real. He let go of Zangetsu, calling to his power in this place to stand on the air itself and howl his joy to all of creation. For once, and perhaps the first time, Zangetsu smiled. The howl seemed to simply erase the steam, the will of this Inner World's Deity more than enough to do so. Ichigo Kurosaki looked upon a world very much different from the one before. First off all the place was still the right way up, no longer were the buildings rising sideways. As far as the eye could see buildings were either finished or were in the process of rising, the closest ones around him were blue with lots of a black metal patchwork filling in the gaps. Further out, where new buildings were raising, he could see that they were made entirely of the black metal. In fact it looked like the dark fire from before was taking shape and solidifying. Below them instead of empty space an ocean flowed its height enough not only to fill where the void had been but rise halfway up the buildings as well. It was crystal clear blue water, calm as a lake in midsummer. Where the dark fire and the water met there seemed to be no clash anymore, he had taken them both in after all, they were part of him now so it made sense.
The two rook pieces, still Mt. Everest in height, had sunken far enough that their flared bases were covered in the ocean which still left five-sixths of each one rising from it. Both looked different, both having started as solid black rook pieces. Now it looked like they had been changed rather severely, one sported stylized gold lined carvings of a single rose that went from the top of the crown to the bottom of the base, Tron-like lines of blue ran along its surface, flaring blue seemingly at random before fading back to almost invisible. At the crown a bonfire of dark flame burned up into the cloudless sky, the red outline of the power casting odd but not disconcerting shadows. The other rook looked as if a huge serpentine creature had been engraved in diamond twisting up the piece to mirror the other. Blue water flowered from the crown spilling over the entire rook and providing the new ocean he had for a floor with an endless supply of water. More Tron-like lines of blue ran up the rook's sides, flaring blue then vanishing into invisible at random intervals. Both, however, shaired one feature. Above the top of each piece a white blue symbol burned, visible in both the dark fire and the rushing water, a five pointed cross with a circle held inside its points.
"And now we are four," Zangetsu said, "Shinigami, Hollow, Devil,"
"Quincy?" Ichigo finished.
Zangetsu looked him over, as if appraising him, looking for his worth. It was a look Ichigo knew very well. "Yes." he said.
"Why am I a Quincy, how long have you known and why has this not come up before?"
Zangetsu just looked at him. "You were not ready."
Ichigo sighed, it was the response he had expected. "What about now?"
"It is not my place to tell you." the spirit stated simply. "I am your teacher in how to use your power, and in the time to come we will be quite busy, I think."
"Do you, now?" Ichigo paused looking Zangetsu up and down, across his black cloak a there was a gold chain linked to a shoulder guard of purest silver and a radiance of white light, faint but unmistakable, drifted softly from the old man's form. "And what happened to you?"
Zangetsu looked up at the sky and smiled. "Welcome Home, Ichigo." he said simply and the inner world faded. It must have said something about himself that the cryptic messages and non-answers of the part of his soul forged for combat made him happy, frustrated but happy. "Wait, did Zangetsu say Devil?"
Once again he opened his eyes to a familiar ceiling and sensation hit him like a hurricane. He took the briefest moment to bask in it, as senses once familiar, returned in full force. It was like his mind was awake again, his mind casting its spiritual senses, a force that crossed an unimaginable distance. He sensed Orihime, Ishida, his father, his sisters, sensed that they were all right, he could just barely sense the presence of Rukia a world away. Then the input was gone, his sense shrunk, and he could feel new people or rather he could feel his new friends. They were close by, and given the feeling of a bed beneath him he had a few guesses at where he currently was. The first and easiest one to sense was the cold power emanating from a soul that seemed to hold an ice age at bay, a swirling power fit to swallow the world. And yet he did not fear it. Did not, for it was controlled and measured, but most of all because in that soul he felt a kinship and knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that they were of a similar purpose. In fact perhaps that soul held more, much more under its protection than he once did and now might again.
The second noticeable soul held the power of a crystal clear, perfectly still lake. Utterly controlled, perfect in clarity, and yet it was deep, perhaps deeper than the person, themselves, knew. In its depths was a boiling power, sleeping deeply but still there, still waiting for a spark.
The third was dark fire, a heat that rose and fell like the breath of a dragon, it had a color all its own on that matched the flame that now burned in his soul. It smoldered under its own tight control, held in a grasp that had a desperate air to it, and a potential of great power much closer to the surface.
There were others, much more human, or rather a mix of human and non-human power mixed as one, creating a new being, a new soul. Each soul was tinged by the dark flame or the smooth water. Two in particular were different from even those, one a burning white light mixed with the dark flame, the other a blue flame intermixed with the dark. Ichigo opened his eyes and let out a breath as his senses retracted from the vague sensation of the other souls.
They were in the main room of Sona's mansion. He could tell that based on feel he found himself naked, though given that Raynare had pretty much destroyed what he had been wearing that made sense. His hand came up and he looked upon it. As if in response to his scrutiny lines of blue that traced his veins seemed to shimmer. He focused on his hand trying to recall the feeling of gathering energy but all that came to him was what he held himself. The air shimmered and vibrated as it always did.
He lowered his hand and went over to redress himself, pulling on his pants and shirt slipping his feet in sandals. "So, I know you threw me out, but are you going to speak to me?" he asked aloud.
"What do you wish to know?"
There were a lot of things he wished to know but for starters, "Has anything changed?"
"Of course your soul has changed on a fundamental level, of course I have changed, of course White has changed, we have both become more."
"Do I need to go get the badge?" he had left the object of his authority back at his room in Karakura town.
"Summon me and find out."
Ichigo smiled, his heart pounding in sudden burning joy and reached inward there was a rush as his soul seemed to explode the twisted around him solidified clothing him in his own power, his hand closed around a solid grip and a blade appeared as if drawn from the air itself. As the transformation ended he turned his eyes to the mirror, everything from the neck down was covered in a skintight body glove of solid black. It felt comfortable and natural like another layer of his own skin, armor of white covered his arms, chest, shoulders and feet. The armor on his left arm was thicker, sheathing the whole of his forearm, the odd material at the end near his wrist humped up a little bit with a hole open at the end like a barrel. In his right hand the blade he held was around two and a half feet long, a little thicker near the base with a handle that was suited for two hands as well as one.
"Wow." was the only word that fully summed up the situation. Slowly lifting his arm, twisting to see if the range of motion was limited, lifting one foot and then the other coming down on the air above the floor and feeling a solid footing. He drifted down to the ground and released the power watching the armor and sword vanish from his body.
He took a breath, forcing his heart to slow, forcing his mind to focus and work once more...He had not been the only one attacked by Raynare, he needed to find out what happened to the boy. Ichigo guessed that he caught the people in the living room by complete surprise as he walked in. Rias was there as was Sona along with both their respective groups, Serafall was there was well she was on her feet and looked to have been pacing. All conversion simply stopped as he looked over them all a frozen moment of silence that he willingly shattered. "Is Issei ok?"
That also seemed to catch them off guard, all of them except Serafall her head tilted as she looked at him eyes tracing him up and down looking for injury. "So," he said into the silence, "is Issei still alive, I was not in a good position to tell."
Koneko rose from her spot on the couch, a complicated look on her face, one that had gone through a range of emotions in a very short time. Her walk was stiff and rigid as she stalked over to him. "Koneko." Rias said gently, though the girl ignored her.
Ichigo waited until she was right in front of him face a mask of conflicting emotions, anger, relief, it reminded him on his own thoughts on the matter. He put a hand on her head and gently ruffled it. "Hey," he said in a low voice, "I seem to be fine now."
She shuddered at the words and half growled, half sobbed a wordless response before latching onto him and hugging him hard enough to bend steel….it felt a little tight for comfort but other than that he was fine. Gently he patted her head looking up. "Issei?" he asked.
"He...he is fine." Rias said carefully "Back at his home, sleeping. I will know when he wakes up, though I should have known when you woke." Sona nodded. The relief that Issei had survived or at least something like had happened to him giving him some room again for other emotions and thoughts allowing him to start paying attention to the girls.
Serafall's eyes flickered down to Koneko, her expression one of relief, amusement and a very comfortable desire. "Well, I for one think it is good that you are among the living."
"I feel the same way Levi-tan." he replied.
The words struck her hard, though not in a bad way. It was almost as if she expected something about him to have changed. Perhaps the vast, vast, power he sensed from her was the cause, power that he did not think could be matched by any in his experience save Kenpachi or Yamamoto, and even then, Kenpachi was a toss up. He smiled at that, understanding the fear that the large amount of power might evoke in others and her desire to not be feared. But her strength was instead used to protect and thus he felt no fear of it. "Some things have changed," he said, "but not that much." The look she gave him almost made him take a step back, a look so molten that flared up and was gone before he could study it.
Serafall laughed. "Good, I was worried."
He gently pulled Koneko from him and she did not resist. His eyes flicked to Sona, who looked torn between rising and not wanting to move. He walked over one of the empty love seats and sat down, Serafall simply appearing beside him, though he could track her movements now at least, and claiming the other side. Koneko did not even pause to glare, she just sat down in his lap like it was the most natural thing in the world. That got Sona to grit her teeth but she sighed and let it go for the moment. "So I think I am ready now for a full explanation?" he started politely "Starting with who the hell was Raynare and what is the Gregori?"
Serafall, Sona, and Rias stiffened at the last word. "Was that her name?" Sona said.
"She introduced herself as 'Raynare of the Gregori' right before she tried to kill us."
"We have questions for you as well like how you managed to kill her as Issei claims." Rias added.
Ichigo looked at his hand feeling nothing of the tug that had allowed him to manifest the small bow. "For a quincy it is not simply will," Zangetsu said, as the world froze in shadow, "While they do draw power from their own Reiryoku for certain abilities and Reshi from the surrounding area for others, you are unique for you use a union of the two. Your own power is not enough to simply call it out. Our sealed form incorporates it into your power, but to manifest the bow outside of that you must do as all quincy have done since the beginning." That was right. The tug had been from within and without. He called his power to his hand and then let his senses drift, not just to the room but the power within the room. There was not as much as one might have expected, perhaps because the power these people had was not the same as his own, not spiritual in nature as he knew it. But the reshi was still there and at his will it came to him, white light glowed in his hand forming a bow, a small bow its shaft of light formed over his fingers the string of reshi in the position to be drawn back by his thumb.
The room reacted mostly in curiosity, Rias, Sona, Serafall, and Koneko moving to lean down and examine the quincy bow. "I don't sense any devil power." Sona said.
"I don't sense anything at all." Rias added reaching out to touch the solid mass of spiritual power.
"He didn't even use his power of Imagination," Serafall sounded more than intrigued, "This is something else."
"Right," Ichigo said, feeling just a little uncomfortable with all the suddenly encroaching females, letting the construct fall apart. "S-so," he said blinking at his slight stutter "Back to my questions please?"
Before anyone could answer the door to the front yard opened and Tsubasa stormed through, her shoulders drooping in relief at the sight of him, though her hackles rose at the confluence of female bodies near him. "What are you all doing?"
Rias got a nasty grin on her face. "He was just showing us his big hard curved bow."
Ichigo just paused to look at her as Koneko and Sona went red in the face, while Serafall choked back a giggle. "You are evil." he said at least.
"Devil, duh." she replied before moving back to her seat turning to look at Tsubasa's gaping mouth. "Nothing I said was untrue, by the way."
"Kaichou," she said sounding hurt, "You could have at least called me over first."
"Th-th-th-that is not what happened." the student council president threw herself back from him, Ichigo held up his hand in a T shape.
"Ohh, Ohh, time out everyone! Ichigo called timeout!" Serafall said.
To his surprise they stopped at her words. "If someone could explain what its going on, I would feel a lot better." Koneko leaned back against him and mouthed 30-love at Sona who let out a sigh, though Tsubasa glared at the girl from her spot. Rias sufficiently amused went back to sit as well.
"I do not know how much you think you know already." Sona started.
"Assume I know nothing," he replied "That sounds safe."
The humor in the room faded as Sona and Rias nodded "The basics then." Sona said. "First and foremost, just about every myth you have ever heard of is real. Gods are real, monsters are real, angels are real, and devils, as well as a thousand more."
"So you are all devils I take it?"
Rias nodded "We are all devils, Ichigo."
Zangetsu's words rang through him and he nodded which Sona took as a reason to continue. "You almost died Ichigo, and I...I could not let that stand and thankfully I had a friend with me." Rias nodded a troubled look taking over her face as Sona spoke "To make a long story very short and I will give you the whole story later if you want it, our Pathion has three factsion, the Devils, the Angels and the Fallen Angels. Raynare, being a fallen angel, was one of God's creations who has given into sin." Ichigo felt it was a good thing he was getting this story as he came to terms with the fact that nothing seemed to match up with what he knew. "These three factions had a major war in which there were many casualties."
"Which was followed by a civil war among the devils," Serafall added with a smile that did not seem real, "Because, yes, fighting over scraps like children while our race dies is exactly what one would expect from sensible people." That sounded like a lot of pent up aggression.
Sona winced, but moved on, "So our species population was at a staggeringly low number and normal birth rates were not going to allow us to sustain ourselves as a viable population. Which led to the creation of these." she held up a hand and a black King appeared floating above her palm.
"I'm going to assume those are not just chess pieces?" he said.
"You would be correct" her mouth quirked in amusement "This is a magic item, perhaps the closest so far to matching the Sacred Gear's created by God." Ichigo filed that term away for a future question. "These items allow for those granted them to gift unto those they wish to reincarnate as a devil."
"So that was what those two chess pieces were." He said, nodding.
That got a pause. "What do you mean?"
"Well, I watched them remake most of my soul and now it makes sense why."
"...remake your soul?"
He sighed "I had some powers before this, they were powers that utilize the energy that a soul gives off." He was not sure how much detail to go into and decided to go light on it for now. "There was an enemy I had to stop, someone who would have killed those I cared about. I could not let that happen so I utilized my soul itself transforming it into power." They were all staring at him. "It worked, for the most part, but given how much I damaged my soul it was inevitable my powers would fade." He smiled. "Then you two?" he asked. "Gave those pieces to me."
Rias and Sona glanced at each other. "Yes, that is….complicated."
Serafall snorted. "Complicated? I just had Ajuka-kun tell me, without any rancor, that what you two did was one hundred percent impossible." she smiled "I think he thought it was one of my crazy ideas so he did not press as to why, so your secret's safe with me. Though if he ever so much as sees any of you three from a distance he will know."
"Thank you, Nee-san." Sona said "So, going into the finer details there is a system behind who, what and how someone can be transformed. Each candidate is worth a certain number of points to differing people. You, for example, were worth eight points. To give you an idea of what that means, a knight piece is worth three, a pawn piece is worth one, a rook piece is worth five and a queen piece is worth nine."
"Two rooks means that you overspent on me." he said.
"Well, we did not have any options at the time. I was desperate and Nee-san was not in town." her fingers played over each other, "So I acted and it worked, you're still alive."
"Thank for that by the way, both of you."
"By the way." Serafall said leaning against his shoulder. "Can either of you command him?"
"I assume that has something to do with the king piece?" he said.
"It was meant to be a control mechanism in case someone who should not have been given this gift could be controlled." Serafall grimaced and Ichigo got the idea she was not so sure about that. "We, or at least those with any sense, make it a point never to use it, as the whole point of people having brains is for them to use them. I would not see any potential wasted much less by my own words."
"Still," Ichigo said "I know I do not like that idea, so could you try it and we can see what will happen?"
Sona sighed and looked at him. "Stand up for a moment." Nothing happened and he shook his head.
Rias tilted her head. "Stand up for a moment." Again nothing happened, no flicker of compulsion, nothing and he shook his head again.
"Hmm, perhaps that fact that there are two kings?" Sona said.
"Or," Serafall said "He might just be that strong willed. There have been cases where creatures of great power and mental fortitude have been able to ignore the command. My Beli-chan, for example."
"You Queen is the Behemoth, the first." Sona said carefully. "That makes sense."
"Why do you call her Beli-chan and not Behe-chan?" Ichigo asked curiously.
"I like the way it sounded better and she was fine with it." She answered.
"Ok, so commands don't work…. I feel a lot better about that, no offence."
"None taken." Rias said "It is often the largest reason for refusal among mortals."
"Ok, so, to sum it up I am a devil."
Ichigo nodded "And I work for both of you now?"
"It's closer to you are part of our framily now and we are the head of that family."
"You two saved my life, and gave me back my powers, I am grateful to that and I will repay that debt." He pondered his next words "I do not mind seeing where this goes and where this path leads but I will let both of you know this." He looked each of them in the eye "If you should ever do anything that goes against what I am, what I believe in, what I would die to protect. As you have just seen, I will stop you." He let that warning hang in the air for a moment.
"Wow," Serafall said leaning closer, "is anyone else feeling hot in here?" Koneko raised her hand.
"I understand that. You seemed to have a well developed sense of morals and I will try and respect that." Sona leveled her own gaze at him. "But, I would ask that you speak to me should there be an issue and I will explain myself and wish you to do the same."
"I can work with that." Ichigo nodded. "Rias?"
"Fine by me." she shrugged "I honestly do not have any overarching plans yet, save to grow my own powerbase, become an asset to my brother and most importantly keep my freedom."
"Ok," Ichigo nodded, "Now are there any other fallen like Raynare around town because I don't want any more Issei's happening.
"No worries," Serafall smiled "When I heard what had happened to you I was mad, very mad." Sona winced at the words. "So while you were asleep, I and my peerage went over this whole town with a fine-toothed comb. We think there were three other fallen, but they had fled due to the death of their leader, good job on that by the way. I found a whole church full of their cultists, bunch of fallen priests and excommunicated exorcists, and they tried to attack me, so I went all Miracle Levi-tan Ice Love on their asses."
Tsubaki raised an eyebrow and walked over to the window pulling back a curtain revealing, in the distance, a several hundred feet tall pointed glacier rising above the forest. "So, given that you seem to like secrecy," he looked at Sona "how are you going to deal with that?"
"I'm not. There are whole companies in the underworld dedicated to helping with this sort of a thing and my sister can afford the best." Sona replied, putting her hand over her face, pink touching her cheeks.
"Aww, I'm not that bad." Serafall giggled.
"Ok, ok," Ichigo said "So if that has been taken care of where is Issei?"
"I put him back in his house." Rias said.
"You just left him there?" she nodded. "So he is going to wake up with no idea of what just happened, full memories of his almost death and no one to explain it to him?"
Rias blinked...once. "I should be going." she said with a nod. "Good to see you have recovered so well and," she glanced at Sona, "We will need to work out a schedule on his time. After all it's now fifty-fifty on him."
Sona nodded. "We will talk later."
"Koneko, Akeno." Rias said.
Akeno had been silent for this conversion but as she stood she cast a look over him that almost made him shudder. "As the Maou said well done in killing that Fallen."
He decided not to answer as Koneko reluctantly got off his lap, turning to punch him lightly in his chest. "Do not get yourself killed again." she said. "I would be very sad if you did."
Ichigo put his hand on her head. "I do not plan on it."
That got a sigh from the small girl. "Is that what you say every time?"
"Pretty much. And it is always true,"
That did not seem to help her mood and Ichigo knew it did not, but he would be something different than what he was at his core if it weren't. "Then I guess I will just have to watch your back." she nodded to herself before walking over to Rias.
Serafall grinned and took Koneko's place on his lap. All his hair stood on end at the sensation of her power washing over him. It was like a live nuclear bomb was on his lap, though this one had a very nice cushion. Koneko glared her heart out at the woman who just smiled glibly in return. "Nee-san." Sona whined in mortification.
"Hey, this is me de-stressing. Is that not what you wanted me to do?" He caught an undercurrent to her words, something small but powerful, a need that he could not place. Sona's expression changed and he knew she had caught it too. "I...did," she allowed, "But it's not fair." she whispered.
"Indeed." Tsubasa agreed moving to take the seat beside him and taking his arm, wrapping it up with hers.
"Yura-san." Sona growled.
"If you decided to spank me over this, at least do it where he can watch." the girl replied with a cheshire cat smile.
The image that brought to mind was sudden and not at all expected. Serafall jumped a little. "Oh, he liked that." she informed the room. He almost threw her off his lap as his face went crimson, only stopped by her leaning back against him and that undercurrent of need shown in her face.
Koneko had bared her teeth at the exchange, much to Rias's amusement. "Well, we need to get going now, see you tomorrow Ichigo." With that they all vanished as circles of red appeared under them and causing them to vanish.
"Ah, teleportation." he said fighting the heat that built on his lower half. "Neat."
Sona held up a hand and took several calming breaths, though her gaze at Tsubasa told them all that she would be having words with her. As it was Tsubasa was distracting as hell around his arm, not quite as much as Serafall's posterior on his lap through. "So, are all the members of the student council your…Peerage, is that the right word?"
"Yes and yes." she replied "I will reintroduce you to them all tomorrow but for now I will tell you that, Tsubasa here is a rook," She paused for a moment to glare at the girl, "Tsubaki is my Queen, Momo is my bishop, as is Reya. Tomoe stands as my knight, and both Ruruko and Saji are my pawns."
"Do those different pieces do anything or are they just ways of turning bigger and bigger creatures into devils?"
"Yes to both of those. A pawn does not gain any real special traits save for promotion, as in chess if they reach enemy territory they can promote to another piece. Bishops, for example, gain increased magical potential," Ichigo make a note to ask about this "Magic" at another time, "The Knight piece grants the user enhanced speed and mobility, whereas the Rook is the opposite granting enhanced strength and durability." She nodded to his hands. "I honestly expected some damage to the environment by now, it took Yura about a week before we could let her out of my house."
"Kaichou!" said girl snapped her face blushing.
"I have dealt with enhanced strength before. I got good at compensating with control." plus, he thought, I am fast already, being tougher could not hurt at all. "Do multiple pieces stack?"
"Not in the original benefit, no, but should the pieces mutate, which is possible, they could grant further separate effects."
"How do you know if they mutate?"
"They look different from the original" Sona said with a wave of her hand, Ichigo almost winced at the memory of what the hell those rook pieces looked like now.
"Ok, moving on, can you take them out of your body?"
"Not normally, you can manifest them," Sona held out her hand on her king piece appeared, "But it is merely an astral projection of the real thing, the same in every way and can be studied and tested but the real body is the one inside you."
Ichigo let out a breath leaning back, Serafall giggled as the breath tickled the back of her neck "Well things just a lot more complicated." he said aloud.
"I know." Sona replied.
"Hey, at least you got near immortality out of the mix." she paused "Or, well, an enhanced life span in which you can be killed, but otherwise you stick around, forever youthful, if not young and strong."
Laughter rumbled in his chest. "That is good, I guess." he had actually been thinking of what the hell, no pun intended, he was going to tell his family about this. 'Hey dad, I just added devil to the list of things that I am. Oh, ya, and why am I part Quincy?' His eyes closed which was a mistake as the feeling of Serafall's body against his seemed to magnify.
Ok, that was another matter. What was with all this sudden female attention he was getting. He was not complaining at all, but he was curious. It was not like he had done anything different then be himself. "N-E-E! S-A-N!" Sona said punctuating each word. Serafall grinned at her and then slid off his lap to the floor, and Ichigo leaned forward, crossing his hands over his lap, so as not to give an obvious show as to what effect the woman had on him. Tsubasa and Sona still glared at him like it was his fault, which he was honestly not sure if it was. "So about these chess pieces..."
"They are actually called Evil Pieces and before you ask Ajuka-kun was having an off day and is too proud to admit his first name was stupid." Serafall shrugged from her spot on the ground between his legs. "I said that Miracle Devil Transformation Pieces would have been better but he said no."
"Hmm," Ichigo said, "Ok, good to know, but, um, what happens to the person if the Evil piece mutates?"
"Odd things," Serafall answered "Most of the time they grant odd special powers, or ways to manipulate the rating game, sometimes just simple power boosts." Sona nodded at her words.
"Ok so what do you think these do?" he held out his hand and manifested evil pieces. For the water's piece, water began to run off his hand and onto Serafall, who did not seem to mind. She just craned her head to look at him and gave him a good view of how her wet shirt clung to her well formed chest. The other rook piece burned with the black flame. The flame one with its glowing gold gilding the other the carved lines of diamonds.
The room just stared at him. "Both of them mutated?" Tsubasa asked. "I thought that was like one in a million."
Serafall laughed and drank some of the water. "Not bad." she proclaimed as Ichigo dismissed the pieces. trying and failing to keep his eyes from straying to her soaked shirt. Tsubasa tightened her grip on his arm but he hardly felt it. Sona took the more sensible approach waving her hand and a blanket appearing over her sister who snuggled in it gratefully.
"What was that?" Ichigo asked.
"Magic." she replied pleased at his interest. "It is a trait all devils bear and most can use. Though we do it differently from the human magicians." Yet another question to add to the list, wizards were real? "For one of our species we require three traits to use magic. One is imagination," she held out her hand, "I picture water in my head, I understand it, I have studied it, I know how it works, how it is supposed to move and operate. Now while all that does help me in using it, all I really need to do is picture how I want it to look in my head. Second, I channel my power through it and have to sense when there is enough, when that is complete..." an orb of water floated above her hand. "This of course does not stop me from learning human magic, or other such systems but for our kind this is how we do magic."
Ichigo closed his eyes for a moment feeling and only finding his reiatsu their and waiting for use, deep down within that he could feel something else, something small but too far out of reach for now. "I want to learn that." he said simply.
Sona again looked pleased. "I will be happy to teach you, when time comes."
"And I will show you how to use your rook skills." Tsubasa said seemining annoyed that she had not gotten much of a word in these past few minutes.
"Thank you." he told her with a smile, she looked satisfied with that and her grip on his arm loosened.
"Ok," he said, "This has been quite the Q&A today."
"It is a start." Sona agreed.
"But, I think I want to take what you have told me in before I get anymore. So in the meantime who wants some dinner?" As it turned out all of them, "Good, but first I need an ice cold shower, thank you for that by the way Levi-tan."
"Always happy to help." the girl said with another one of those cheshire cat grins.
"And I will get right on that." Ichigo stood up and turned away from the girls mostly to hide is annoying biological reaction that was refusing to go away. Honestly the shower might give him some time to figure out what the hell he was going to do next...besides school and being a devil, whatever that meant.
But for the moment, his powers were back, he was not dead, he might have the attention of several beautiful girls, not that he understood why or what he was going to do about it. His chest burned with good feelings and his doubts and depression, everything that had forced him to leave Karakura to seek relief, burned away by his returned powers. He could be himself fully again, he could stand in the same world as his friends old and new. Once more he could truly stand against the monsters. No more would he be helpless before creatures like Raynare. He felt reborn in more ways than one and Ichigo Kurosaki would admit, he was happy, happier than he could remember being in a long time. Life was good and he could work from that point into what in the world he was going to do tomorrow, when this all settled in.
Well a lot happened in a short time, Raynare is dead before her arc could really begin, what is going to happen to Asia? What about the other fallen, is Issei going to be the same oppai loving boy with big brother Ichigo as an example of what he could be...for that matter is Ichigo going to be able to set a good example with all the female attention he is getting or will he become the harem master? Well you will just have to tune in next time to find out won't you.
Have a good day, Fanboy913