The Tarot Master
Chapter Fourteen – Tarot Card 3 The Empress
Characteristics: Rational, the woman in action. The humanity.
"Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
For lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land."
Song of Solomon (2:10)
"MOVE, YOU FOOL!" She urged him, abruptly pushing him out of the way and pointing the scepter towards the Guardians who were chasing him close behind. A flood of ice swept through the hall, freezing everyone inside.
"Rukia?..." He was lying on the snow, staring at her with wonder and surprise.
"Come!" She grabbed his hand and took off in flight, making him spread his wings to accompany her.
Outside the gate, an also winged Byakuya was standing inside a strange floating gondola, seemingly made of pink petals continuously rustling in between them. Rukia landed on the snow, close to her brother's boat.
"Get in, kozo, unless you want to be turned to ice." Byakuya ordered him. Ichigo obeyed, but once he saw several Nephilim flying from the household to attack them, he tried to get out of the boat to help Rukia, but Byakuya's strong hand on his shoulder sat him back down. "Just watch."
Rukia stabbed her scepter on the ground with all her might and peaks of ice started rising from the earth, engulfing the ancient construction and everyone who was trying to reach them. She went up to the boat and her brother motioned his oar shaped scepter to bring the gondola into the Severing World. Once they were completely inside the intermediate dimension, Rukia lost her wings and her apparel became casual, but her brother still had his Nephilim features. Ichigo was swinging his confused stare in between the brother and the sister, until Rukia started talking, sitting next to him and facing down.
"Nii-sama is a Nephilim like you. He told me all about it when I arrived." Ichigo was listening to her intently. "He's my adoptive brother, but my real sister was a Nephilim too, she and Nii-sama were lovers behind their Covenant's back."
"How couldn't I see he was a Nephilim before?"
"That I don't know." And she raised her head to her brother, who was standing with his back turned to them, moving the oar in front. "Nii-sama?"
He replied without facing them. "Years away from a Covenant erode the traces which make us recognizable to Nephilim eyes, while using a human form."
Rukia continued. "Apparently female Nephilim are rare and tend to have a frail health. My sister was a Watcher and didn't have a Soul Aegis. She only saw the real world because Nii-sama's power allows him to carry individuals with him securely in this gondola, and they did little escapades when they could, away from the Covenant's eyes." She held her hands over her lap. "Apparently, our mother was unusually fertile towards divine seed, but somehow I was born human instead of Nephilim. When my sister learned of my birth and particular nature, she was already very sick… Her last wish was for Nii-sama to take me away from the Covenant, so that I wouldn't share our mother's fate… And so he did, he fled the Covenant with me and took care of me ever since."
Ichigo asked her about the only thing that still didn't make sense inside his head. "Why did you save me?"
She raised her eyebrows, still gazing low at her hands. "You sacrificed yourself to get me out of there. I couldn't let it be, if within my power to do something about it."
"But I was the one to make you end up in the Covenant in the first place."
"I know…" She paused, trying to find the words. "Before you sent me away… you said… you wished you could start over… find out what it would be like… without tricks…" Ichigo looked at her intently, his face animated and his heart warmed. "I guess… I won't mind finding that out too." She finally gathered the nerve to face him, inspecting his features.
"Oh Rukia!" Drunk in happiness, he circled his arms around her to kiss her passionately, but her hand against his cheek made him face the opposite way with the violence of the impact, before their lips even brushed.
"I SAID START OVER, DON'T GET AHEAD OF YOURSELF!"
Still facing the opposite way, Ichigo brought a palm to massage his bruised cheek, noticing Byakuya was amused with his troubles, smirking over his shoulder.
"Tsk…" He shook his head condescendingly and resumed his rowing through the Severing World.
Ichigo narrowed his eyes at him in between the fingers which still massaged his face and turned his head to look at the violent petite girl sitting by his side, staring at him with those defiant violet orbs which feared nothing. And he smiled, regarding her in between the fingers that still tried to ease his bruised side, remembering this was exactly what made him so crazy about her from the moment they met. Yes. This was a start. This was a damn good start.