Disclaimer: Bleach and all its characters are property of Kubo Tite, not mine. The quotes at the head of the chapters belong to the sources mentioned below them. The meanings of the Tarot cards were taken from the following books: The Bible of Tarot, by Sarah Bartlett; Predictions, by Bridget Reed; The Illustrated Book of Tarot, by Jane Lyle; Angels' Tarot, by Lubélia and José Medeiros. The Tarot deck is based on the one illustrated by Colin Howard.

Author's Notes: IchiRuki AU taking place in a fictional version of contemporary Tokyo where the Nephilim, the offspring of humans with angelic creatures, prey on women so that their species can prevail. Inspired by and dedicated to my friend and fellow author Fathom-x.


The Tarot Master

Prologue – The Nephilim

The hybrids born from the mating in between angels and humans.

"And it came to pass when the children of men had multiplied that in those days were born unto them beautiful and comely daughters. And the angels, the children of the heaven, saw and lusted after them, and said to one another: 'Come, let us choose us wives from among the children of men and beget us children.' And Semjaza, who was their leader, said unto them: 'I fear ye will not indeed agree to do this deed, and I alone shall have to pay the penalty of a great sin.' And they all answered him and said: 'Let us all swear an oath, and all bind ourselves by mutual imprecations not to abandon this plan but to do this thing.' Then swore they all together and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it. And they were in all two hundred; who descended in the days of Jared on the summit of Mount Hermon, and they called it Mount Hermon, because they had sworn and bound themselves by mutual imprecations upon it..."

Book of Enoch

***

Seiretei Covenant. A massive mansion resembling a gothic monastery in style. The center aisle, a high domed round room, was shrouded in silence and darkness until the tower bell was told.

DONG – The room came alight with all the torches rekindling flame, revealing colors and casting dancing shadows behind all the pillars standing on the marble floor.

DONG – The main door creaked open, a hooded figure advanced to the center of the room with slow but sure steps made with bare feet under the black satin cloak.

DONG – The door closed, the figure stopped, only the torches filled the silence with the sound of burning and leading the light on the dance of flame.

Behind the pillars, new shadows came alive. When the pale light revealed their form, they were men, or looked like men, for their footsteps held no sound and their eyes were a bright blue. The first one to reach the guest lowered the hood, revealing the beautiful young woman underneath it. Her eyes were filled with love, not just towards the one who was now untying the laces of her cloak, but also towards the one who was behind her running a hand up her leg underneath her robes, the one who was by her side with fingers rubbing her breast over the soft silk still hiding it, the one who didn't yet reach for her but watched behind his peers with lustful eyes… In truth, she loved everyone around her, she was bound to. Her soul had been manipulated and ripped from her, leaving nothing but an unconditional love for everyone belonging to that Covenant. Their word was law and to obey them a privilege, and so she rejoiced as fallen angels, ridden from their wings and condemned to live imprisoned in this outer dimension until the end of their days, feasted on her body together, lavishly possessing her like a pack of wolves in heat.

Only a silky sleeve still remained in place, as her body was being felt by half a dozen heavenly hands, licked and suckled by roughly an equal number of hungry mouths, watched by other several fiery blue eyes and penetrated by the third angel already during that night.

Above the pillars there was a balcony, where a winged man with an auburn gaze was admiring the whole scene, playfully flipping a card in between his fingers.

"Admiring your work, Kurosaki?" Another winged man approached him, holding a black scepter with a glowing sphere at the top.

He narrowed his eyes at his newly arrived company. "And you still don't trust my work, Ishida, to be walking around with the Scepter of Retrieval at hand."

"Never too safe. Human souls are more powerful in this realm than we Nephilim are in the real world. If one manages to unbind herself from the spell, it could mean the destruction of the whole Covenant. Why do you think only a handful of covenants still exist from the original twenty?"

He smirked. "Because those angels and the women they mated with never produced offspring as powerful as me."

Ishida sighed. "Sometimes I wish one would actually break your binding, just so you would lose that cocky attitude of yours."

The orange haired hybrid chuckled. "I'm a Tarot Master. Of all the abilities Nephilim can be born with, I was blessed with the most complete of them all. It grants me full domination of all aspects of life. No one can break my spell any more than this clown can actually realize he's walking towards his downfall." And he held up the final card of his soul binding, the numberless Major Arcana where a joker distracted with his own musings doesn't see his next step has no ground to set foot on. "That's her right now. So put the Scepter of Retrieval to rest, that woman isn't going to do anything apart from hopefully giving birth to a hybrid, some months from now."

Ishida didn't have to look at the woman to know the truth of that statement, her climaxing cries were reaching his ears just fine, given they were echoing all over the huge aisle. Still, he was a bad loser. "I'll leave the Scepter with Asano for him to keep an eye on things. Meet me at the gate, we're getting back to the real world, they'll grow tired of her soon." And he walked past him.

"They haven't called for anyone else yet."

"One more the reason for us to search for potentials."

"I don't need you for that."

"You'll only not need me if and when you become a Carrier yourself."

"And put all my power to waste?!"

Ishida was either too far to hear it already, or simply wouldn't be bothered to reply anymore. The Tarot Master shuffled his deck and placed it inside his black hakama, the only piece of clothing he liked to wear while in his winged form. And he followed Ishida's path out from the balcony. An unsuspecting world was out there waiting for him and his irresistible allure.