Disclaimer – I do not own Bleach, Wheel of Time, or any of the creations from the great minds of Tite Kubo and Robert Jordan. I am merely a humble fan, molding their ideas into creations of my own in hopes of entertaining others. While I do own my OC's and ideas, I'm not making any money off them. So please, enjoy the story but don't sue me. XD
For those of you who were already reading this story, you
are already aware that this is a revised version of the original story.
It was a terrible example of what I am capable of in my opinion, and
my skills have improved dramatically since it was first written.
Please keep in mind that this is a crossover story between two fandoms. I
will do my absolute best to explain everything in the story, so that readers
unfamiliar with the Wheel of Time series do not feel lost or left out.
I hope you like this new and improved version of the tale.
Please be sure to visit my deviantART page to see fan art created
of the characters. The link is available in my profile.
(I am SweetYuya there as well)
Chapter 1 – A Chance Encounter
A large column of dust filled the sky, brought on by the rather explosive end of their latest experimental hollow. Two men wrapped in the dark cloak of night stood watching the sight impassively, unconcerned with the loss of a specimen or the dirt and ashes that clouded their view. One with a head of thin, silvery hair; a fox like grin playing across his sharp features. The other was graced with silken locks that were a deep shade of brown, a few of the thick tresses of which spilled carelessly over onto his forehead.
"Yare, yare. Another one bites th' dust," said the fox-faced man in a whimsical tune.
"So it would seem," his companion replied in a rich baritone. "It is most unfortunate, but I believe we should be going now. That will have caught the attention of the 12th Division."
"Ah, tha's too bad. I was jus' startin' ta have fun."
"Are we jus' gonna leave th' other one here?"
"It's best that way. More likely than not, the fools will assume it was the source of that reiatsu spike."
"An' if they decide ta keep it alive an' experiment on it…then what?"
The pair began striding away casually, ignoring the screeching hollow that roared less than half a mile from where they stood. The dark haired man pushed his glasses up on the bridge of his nose, humming to himself a moment before responding. He had a plan for every possible outcome, just in case. There was no call for concern. Steps had already been taken to assure that there would be no evidence left behind to trace back to him.
"Division 6 is the closest but even they are at least a good hour from here. The probability of them being the ones to respond is quite high. They won't leave the creature alive."
Only the members of the 12th Division Department of Research would be fool enough to try and capture a hollow alive. No other squad in the Gotei 13 would risk their necks for the sake of science as they would. No matter who came across it first, or what their plans were for it, they would find quite a surprise.
"Hn," smirked the silver fox, his ever present grin widening. "Whatever ya say, Aizen-sama."
In the dark, early morning hours, Tianorin Lounalt stuck her head into one of the canvas tents that had been erected before the sun set the night before. That was all that was needed to rouse the sleeping figure inside, which likely meant there had been a ward placed on the tent, set to wake her if anyone entered. Tianorin had done the same herself. One could never be too careful.
Pushing herself up on one elbow, the shadowy figure mumbled groggily, peering at her through squinted. "Light Tia, must you drag us from our blankets so early?"
Despite her complaining, the dark skinned woman was already rubbing the sleep from her eyes and donning a fresh shift. It was just as well, for her complaints fell on deaf ears.
For the most part, the plump woman ignored the grumbles of her companion. Zhai was never very friendly in the morning hours. Very little could put a bounce in her step until after she'd broken the mornings fast, not even the prospect of studying a relic from the Age of Legends. That was purely baffling to Tianorin. While the Atha'an Miere girl was a fellow Aes Sedai, even a member of the same Ajah, she certainly did not act it. Not in private, at least.
What self respecting Brown sister would not wish to rise hours before the sun to gather information on a pillar of rune stones? They were not just any stones, after all. There were groups of these mysterious ruins scattered across their world, typically in remote locations, perhaps where ancient cities once were. Information on them was sparse, but from what Tianorin had read, they could be used to Travel. More than likely, they were the quickest form of travel before the Waygates had been created, though she did not have the faintest idea as to how they were used. Just supposition from worn pages that would have long since crumbled to dust, were they not preserved by the One Power.
Their party had discovered this particular cluster of stones the night before, shortly before making camp at Toman Head. Immediately Tianorin's interest was piqued. She'd only read about the stones before, never had she been so fortunate as to see them. It was truly an experience she would forever treasure.
Once she'd chivvied the dark skinned woman from her bed and helped her dress, they set out immediately towards the stones that were some twenty feet out from their camp. A good, safe distance. One had to exercise caution with such objects, particularly if you were uncertain of how to activate it. You could never be too cautious, as rash behavior with any object that dealt with the One Power could easily lead to death, or worse, being burned out.
That was something every Aes Sedai feared, though few spoke of it. Being able to draw upon the female half of the One Power, Saidar, was a feeling like none other. Few women in their world had such an ability, and very few survived long if they lost it. Even thinking of being without the joy of Saidar sent an unsettling chill down Tianorin's spine, causing her to receive a concerned glance from the flame haired man that was waiting for her a few feet ahead. Tsūretsu Hogosha had been her Warder for quite a few decades now, ever since he was a young man. These days his red tresses were heavily streaked with gray, but age made him no less a threat to any would be attackers.
Warders were like a blade that never lost its edge, no matter how many years they weathered. Their lives were dedicated to protecting that of their Aes Sedai. It was their sole purpose, what they lived and died for. In the Old Tongue, these men were also referred to as Gaidin, which literally means 'brother to battles'.
Tsūretsu had faced death many times at her side, each time keeping her well and whole. As with most sisters of the Brown Ajah, Tianorin had a tendency to get lost in her own world, which had landed her in danger more than once. He was always there to watch out for her, even if it was something as simple as preventing her from tripping over her own feet. Aes Sedai could die from a broken neck just like any other human. They were far from invincible.
A light blush threatened to rise in her full cheeks as memories of just how many times the man had gently caught her, or adjusted her path to keep her from running into something came floating back. Browns were notorious for being so caught up in thought that they almost seemed almost naïve, and Tianorin was really no exception. Gathering knowledge always ranked higher than most with her, her surroundings second at best, if they were interesting.
Pushing it down, she cast a secretive glance at the man now walking beside her to find a tiny smile gracing his typically hardened features. The Saidar formed bond between them had already alerted him to her feelings but he'd wisely remained silent. His head swiveling about, ignoring her embarrassment and focusing on possible dangers. Thank the Light for that!
Moments later they were joined by one other. Stalking silently towards them was the towering figure of Kamavon Shinowa, his handsome features all but hidden in shadows. Bonded to Nelisande Togita, he was her man to the bone, from the very day she was born. He too moved with the deadly grace of a Warder, acquired after years of intense training and dedication. Although he was much younger than her Tsūretsu, he was no less menacing. Anyone who doubted the skill of a Warder was a fool.
Judging by the tall man's scowl, Nelisande had run off ahead of him, as she was prone to do. It did not help that she was just as eager as the Brown upon locating the ancient relics, curious to see what they could learn from them. Were it not for her fierce personality and love of men – both extremely common qualities amongst sisters in the Green Ajah – Tianorin would have expected the girl to choose the Brown Ajah when she was raised to an Aes Sedai.
Lost again in her own thoughts, Tianorin nearly jumped when the petite girl beside her spoke up, her voice still thick with sleep. "Couldn't we have at least have eaten something for breakfast?"
"There is no sense in wasting time, Zhai." Tianorin responded after a moment, the beads at the ends of her dark braids clicking together softly as she walked. "Breakfast can wait."
Her companion snorted, tossing back a head of thick, black hair. By mainlander standards, Zhai was likely considered to be exotic. Her deeply tanned skin, so dark it was the color of cocoa, and graceful movements earned by being born and raised at sea made her catch the eyes of men and women alike. Amongst her own people she could easily go without notice but she was by no means a plain woman.
Of the three women in their party, she was certainly the most attractive of the lot. Tianorin herself was pleasantly plump at best, and her penchant for wearing the clingy Taraboner dresses of her people did nothing to flatter her figure. Despite her girth, she had a loving face, dimples marking her cheeks and somehow bringing about a motherly appeal. When the woman smiled, she could light up a room, though it rarely occurred.
Zhai stood out like a sore thumb amongst the Brown Sisters for her outgoing personality and her tendency to shun books in general. She felt they were a waste of time. Why read about something when you could go out and experience it for yourself? Truly, if it were not an unspoken rule between the few Atha'an Miere women who trained in the White Tower, she would have joined the Green instead of the Brown.
It was Zhai's exuberance, along with several other shared similarities, that caught Nelisande's eye when they first met. The two women had become fast friends during their training, though Nelisande moved from Novice to Accepted long before Zhai. The Atha'an Miere girl struggled for years with a block, unable to channel a whit unless she was thoroughly embarrassed. Blocks were not common by any means and usually occurred when a woman had the ability to channel yet held some fear of it, their minds creating a mental wall to shield them from their own power.
The walls could be broken but it was an arduous task, the difficulty varying with each girl. It seemed Zhai's own people had considered her a lost cause, sending her to the White Tower rather than a girl with a weaker channeling skill. The Sea Folk were always very selective on what children would be sent to Tar Valon, taking care to send those with very little strength in the One Power in the hopes of maintaining the fallacy that Atha'an Miere women had no real talent with Saidar.
While Zhai may have trailed behind Nelisande in rank, the two girls always remained friends, secretly. Friendships were all but forbidden between Novices and Accepted, though many women picked them up immediately once their friend reached the same level as they.
Nelisande even made a point of staying in the White Tower until Zhai was raised to the Shawl, finally attaining the rank of Aes Sedai. It was harder on both of them, as friendship between an Aes Sedai and Accepted or Novices truly was forbidden. It would not do to have an Accepted thinking herself on the same level with an Aes Sedai. The two women had to make do with it for the duration, ignoring each other in the halls as best they could, waiting silently. Such was the extent of their friendship.
Tianorin had seen fit to take both girls under her wing, though she had a bad habit of forgetfulness that had both Nelis and Zhai ready to tear their hair out at times. They formed a slightly dysfunctional family of sorts, the younger women looking to Tianorin as both mother and mentor even after they became equals.
The fiery Green was waving excitedly to them now, a small glow floating beside her, created with a simple weave of the One Power to provide ample lighting until the sun came up. To Zhai's right, Kamavon picked up his pace, eager to be back by her side. Danger was not expected but it could never be discounted in the eyes of a Warder. Gaidin were always on alert, even when relaxed.
"You should not have run ahead, Nelis," the big man said to her. Chastisement, but said with a softness that showed only affection.
Sniffing, she gave the man a playful smile; eyes alit by more than the lamp she created. The Shienaran woman was known for having a slight mischievous streak, to which her mother accredited her father. When most young noblewomen would have been learning needlepoint, Nelisande was sparring with her father, being taught the ways of his people.
While her mother was a lesser noble to House Togita, her father had been a simple Aiel warrior. The combination was more than just rare, it was nearly inconceivable. The Aiel had never gone past the Spine of the World until the Aiel War, remaining hidden in the desert wasteland they called home and killing anyone who entered, save peddlers, gleeman and Aes Sedai.
Saiane Togita had been traveling with her father's Border Guards scouting Niamh Pass when she met Nelisande's father. It was believed that all of the Aiel had left the Waste to fight in the war, so their job was no different than usual. Keep the pass safe. With the Aiel gone, the last thing they'd expected to find was a group of them, alive or dead.
Juric had led a group of Sovin Nai, Knife Hands, into skirmish against Shadowspawn. When Saiane's hunting party stumbled across him, he lay dying from wounds inflicted by Trollocs. Their bodies were strewn about him; at least twenty of the foul creatures had been slain by his hand, countless more slain by his brethren. Juric was the sole survivor, and only by a thread. Though he had protested adamantly, Saiane insisted upon nursing him back to health despite his wishes.
It was a strange twist of fate, their meeting. Whatever the Creator had in mind, Nelisande was the end result. A curious blend of noble and savage, her crimson tresses could have come from either parent but her height and trim figure was unmistakably Aiel. The unusual shade of amber that colored her eyes tend to draw almost as much attention to her as her hair, as they shifted between shimmering gold and a rusty shade of brown.
Since they were often seen traveling together, Nelisande and Tsūretsu had been mistaken for siblings on more than one occasion. They both bore the same deep red locks, though Tsūretsu was easily picked out as a Saldaean for his beak like nose. Perhaps it was their olive skin, something many Borderlanders had in common, though Shienar and Saldaea were on opposite ends of the Border.
"I am not helpless Kam; you of all people should know this."
The big man grunted, choosing to ignore the truth of her words. Oh, he knew alright. Kamavon had been hand selected to serve as Nelisande's guardian when they were still children. He'd been there for many of her sparring sessions, often taking lessons from Juric himself. Nelis took delight in testing her new skills out on her friend at every chance she got. Though she rarely bested him, she could hold her own with ease, as though she had been raised a Maiden of the Spear instead of a Shienaran noblewoman.
Tianorin, Tsūretsu and Zhai finally reached the impatient Nelisande and prepared to get down to business. They made an interesting party, quite a mixture of cultures and backgrounds, yet even that was common amongst Aes Sedai and Gaidin. Women and men from all nationalities and groups, noble houses and the poor alike came to train in the White Tower inside of Tar Valon.
"Shall we get to work?" Tianorin asked, already digging through the satchel Tsūretsu was carrying for her.
Delicate chimes and the fluttering of wings in his ear brought Renji from his fitful sleep with little effort. His dreams this night had been plagued with death, something he felt he'd seen more than enough of waking. Annoyed with the disturbance but curious, he extended his finger and waited for the creature to land and relay its message.
"Abarai fuku-taichō. Please assemble a small team to investigate a disturbance of reiatsu at the following location…"
Listening quietly, he memorized the location given, already beginning to dress himself. It would take some time for him to get the men together and even more time to get them there. The Squad 6 barracks were the closest to that quadrant but it was still a good ways outside of the Seireitei.
The chances of them actually discovering what, or who caused the commotion would be slim but orders were orders. Muttering sleepily to himself, he tugged on his hakama hastily.
"Wasn't sleeping worth a shit anyway."
"The engravings are a bit difficult to decipher, the Ages have not been kind to these stones."
"Use the charcoal and paper I brought, Nelis."
"I think Tia is using it right now."
The two women glanced over at their senior, who was indeed making use of those tools, covering herself with charcoal in the process. Smudges of it were carelessly rubbed across her cheek, spots staining the sleeves of her silken dress.
The two Warders stood above the women on either side, eyes scanning in all directions and hands ever ready to draw their swords if needed. Their vigilance went largely unnoticed by the Aes Sedai, so used to their presence as it were.
They worked for nearly half an hour in this fashion, recording and copying the images on paper almost fervently. It was not as though the White Tower was completely lacking information on these stones, but it was their first time actually seeing them with their own eyes.
Rocking back on her heels, Zhai gazed at the stone directly in front of her. It bore a simple diamond, hollowed out and resting on its side. Unlike most of the others, it was actually quite clear to see, the passage of time somehow moving a bit more gently over it than the others. Embracing the Source, the young Aes Sedai pulled a thin strand of spirit from the air around her, alerting her companions moments before making contact with the stone.
"I'm going to probe this one lightly; it seems to be in much better condition than the rest."
Tianorin, still wrapped up in her current work, took a bit longer to register the statement than she should have. A grievous error on her part, as she would soon come to learn. The tiny thread entered the stone just as the absentminded woman spoke up.
"I don't believe that's wise with as little informa-"
A sudden lurch in the world around them killed her words just as surely as the overwhelming wave of nausea did. The very space around them flickered, over and over, blinking in and out of reality. Tianorin watched what she could only assume was their future playing out in every way imaginable, the scenes changing with each flicker. No matter what was done differently, each vision ended with the same, resounding conclusion. Death. When the darkness enveloped her, Tianorin suspected her long life had ended at last.
Groaning, Zhai clutched her head in hopes of stopping the world around her from spinning. Bile rose in her throat, forcing her to choke it down quickly and leaving a bitter taste in her mouth.
"Light!" she exclaimed, pushing herself up on wobbly legs. "Well, you don't have to worry about me doing that again!"
It took her a moment to realize that she was receiving no response from her companions. Glancing from side to side and then cursing herself for it as her vision blurred, she quickly located the four of her friends.
Kamavon was assisting a rather cranky looking Nelisande to her feet, while Tsūretsu struggled to rouse Tianorin.
"Is everyone alright?" she asked hesitantly, bearing the weight of her actions with a heavy heart.
"Blood and bloody ashes, Zhai! Perhaps a bit more warning before you try to kill us next, if you would be so kind."
The Atha'an Miere woman smiled at the tart response of her friend, taking it as a sign of her well being. Wringing her hands together, she offered an apologetic smile.
"Sorry doesn't begin to cover it, impatient child! Sometimes I cannot believe they raised you to the Shawl. Such rash behavior is unbecoming of an Aes Sedai, Zhai din Eiran!"
Tianorin's harsh words stung her, successfully chastising the young woman, yet they came as a relief. If the older woman had that much bite to her words, it meant she was only annoyed, not injured.
"At least we are alright, if not a bit dizzy." Nelisande offered up, hoping to shift Tianorin's ire, or in the very least, distract the older woman.
The later of the two being highly unlikely, for once you had Tianorin's attention, only something more 'intriguing' could possibly pull it away. And when the stout Taraboner was angry, you absolutely held her full interest.
"That may be," she said with a huff "But have you bothered to take in our surroundings, Nelisande?"
The Shienaran noble blinked, amber eyes sliding from her mentor to survey the area around them carefully. It was unsettling to discover they were no longer on the familiar plains of Toman Head. They were now located in a thickly wooded area, only a tiny clearing formed around the ancient stones they had been so intently studying moments before.
"Peace…Zhai, you've managed to activate the portal stones."
Biting her lip, the quixotic Aes Sedai hung her head, ashamed of the trouble she'd caused. It was times like these that she herself wondered how she had finally attained the Shawl with her undisciplined and sometimes hasty actions. It wasn't as though she had been raised poorly. On the contrary, the Sea Folk were quite strict, especially when it came to their hierarchy. Zhai had been relieved when they made the decision to send her to Tar Valon. Though she would miss the constant sway of a ship beneath her feet, it meant she could escape the somewhat harsh life of her people and prevent bringing any more shame upon her family.
When she stepped onto the docks of Tar Valon, it felt as though a great weight had been lifted from her, that she was finally free. She would not be forced to remain a lowly deckhand, her hopes of being a Windfinder dashed by her own accursed block to Saidar. She tried to make the most of every moment in this new life, a clean slate that she could bring her own design to. It was her zest for life that made her so impulsive, her rash decisions often landing her in a boiling pot both as a Novice and as an Accepted. This incident seemed to be no different than others, except this time, she had dragged her friends down with her.
This night, fate would not grant her much time to dwell upon her mistake. A bone chilling howl reached their ears, ripping through the silence of the night. Warders tensed beside their companions, automatically drawing their weapons and shifting their stance. All three women took in a startled breath, eyes searching the darkened forest for the source.
"That sounded like nothing I have ever heard" Nelisande whispered breathily.
Gulping, Zhai nodded, reaching out and embracing the Source once more. Even with her eyes closed, she could feel that her sisters had done the same. Whatever lurked in the night, it would not catch them unawares. The howl came again, much louder and much closer. Spinning on their heels, Kamavon and Tsūretsu turned towards the source with a self assured calm. The ground began to shake as the creature drew near, and even in the dark they could see the trees of the forest being smashed aside by a giant being.
"What in the Light is that?" Zhai asked, her voice tinged with worry.
"C'mon men, step it up! I don't want to see any stragglers back there!" Renji yelled, turning his head and scowling at the sleepy group of officers he'd rounded up in the pre-dawn hours.
He was no less exhausted than any of them. In actuality, he was probably more drained but that would not keep him from doing his duty. They all needed to be prepared for anything. Sluggish movements would only get them killed.
They were still about fifteen minutes out from the targeted area but unless they picked up the speed, it would be thirty minutes instead of half that. Had it just been Renji, he would already have arrived. Serving as a Lieutenant to Squad 6 meant he was a great deal stronger than the rest of the Squad, not counting his Captain, of course. One day though, one day he would surpass Byakuya Kuchiki, the noble Captain of the 6th Division.
Zhai choked back a terrified scream when the enormous beast burst into the clearing, already swinging its deadly claws at them. It looked like a gigantic bug of sorts, a scorpion like tail appearing from over top its head and aiming directly at the two men guarding them.
The Warders dodged the first attack, careful to keep themselves between the monster and the Aes Sedai. Kamavon was the first to attack, the long, sharp blade of his sword arcing upwards, seeking to slice into the chest of the strange creature. Much to his surprise and dismay, its tough carapace provided an impenetrable shield to the simple steel, bouncing the blade right off. With a lazy swing, the oversized insect flicked Kamavon aside as though he were the bug instead.
Panic gripped Nelisande's throat as she watched him skid away, feeling through the bond they shared that the unexpected blow had broken through several of the mans ribs. Giving a sharp nod to her sisters, she immediately rushed to his side to begin healing him, leaving them to continue the fight.
Behind the remaining Warder, Tianorin began weaving threads of fire together, preparing an enormous ball of flame. Mimicking her mentor, Zhai did the same, hurtling it towards the enemy only moments after the other woman.
The giant beast roared, tossing its head angrily as the flames seared its chest and right pincer. Furious, it sent its massive tail straight towards the women, seeking to skewer them both. Tsūretsu was there in a flash, leaping in front of Zhai and Tianorin to shield them from the attack.
The Saldaean man held the great sword across his chest, bracing it with one hand on the hilt, one on the blade. His intent was to use the weapon to block the rapid descent of the viciously curved hook, heading all too swiftly his way. The powerful momentum and sheer velocity of the attack forced him backwards, cracks splintering the sword. The thin metal was of no use against a creature of its size or strength, giving way almost instantly, the tail piercing through his body with a sickening crunch.
With that fatal moment, time seemed to slow down for them all, watching Tsūretsu stare blankly down at the gaping hole in his chest before crumpling to the ground, eyes already clouding. Still at Kamavon's side, Nelisande heard Tianorin's mournful wail as the Brown sister felt the death blow dealt to her Warder.
For nearly fifty years, Tsūretsu had remained by her side, ever vigilant. To have the bond suddenly severed, to feel the excruciating pain he endured in his last moments, sent Tianorin tumbling over the brink into madness. Her normally passive face was contorted with fury, the glow of Saidar brightening around her until the light was nearly blinding. His death she had foreseen when the stones had been activated, as well as her own, but she had not truly expected it to come to pass.
If the stones had accurately predicted this, then she knew what her next move must be. It was the only way. Sorrow and fury gripped her throat, blinded her vision, but still she drew on Saidar. Drew until the sweetness of the Power became pain, sharp and foreboding. Ignoring that warning, she drew deeper still. It was the only way.
"Tianorin, stop it! You are already at your limit!"
Zhai's warnings fell on deaf ears. Her mentor, her friend, was out of reach. The fires of her rage exploded from her hands, consuming the monster with its scorching heat. It thrashed wildly, trying desperately to escape the inferno that enveloped it.
Without warning the creature exploded, the force clearing the immediate area around it and sending Zhai hurtling through the trees. Nelisande just barely managed to summon forth a barrier composed of air, fire and earth to provide an airtight and nearly impenetrable barrier around them. Despite the shield protecting them and injuries that were not fully healed, Kamavon pulled her to the ground, further shielding Nelisande with his own body. Such was the dedication of a Warder.
The team members of Squad 6 were just entering the area in question when they heard the explosion, its deafening roar coming from the north east. It had been close enough for them to feel the strength of the blast, wind whipping past them and forcing many to shield their eyes from debris.
What none of them had expected to see flying through the air was the body of a woman, the red sash at her waist waving like a banner behind her and immediately catching Renji's eye. He was not close enough to catch her, to stop her delicate form from colliding with a tree, yet he still tried. The woman's body spasmed as she hit, eyes closed tightly and mouth open as she cried out. Dark hair flowed forward, hiding her face from him, but he was certain he would never forget that vision. Her pained expression would remain etched into his memory for days to come.
Leaping down, Renji managed to catch her just moments before she struck the ground, cradling her broken body as gently as he could manage. The moment his feet hit earth, he was barking orders to the surrounding men who had followed him.
"Kobayashi! We're going to need the medical unit as fast as possible. I'll try to meet them halfway with this one."
"Sir!" the young man replied, followed by a stiff bow before running back the way they had come.
"The rest of you keep moving forward, we need to find out what caused that blast! Split into two groups. Group one find out what that explosion was, group two search for survivors. If there was one injured, there is probably more."
"Yes sir!" the men shouted in unison, vanishing from his side as they rushed ahead.
When the remainder of his team had departed, Renji looked down at the battered woman in his arms, his face lined with pity. Judging by her tattered and singed clothing, she'd been relatively close to the blast. However, it was the impact of her slender figure crashing into the tree that seemed to have done the most damage. A thin line of blood trickled from her cracked lips, indicating internal bleeding.
'Not good,' he thought to himself.
Judging by his quick assessment, it did not look like the girl would make it to a healer, not in her condition. She might not even last another five minutes. Inwardly, he cursed his inability to use healing kidō. He'd never been skilled with any of it really, but he couldn't even heal a bruise no matter how hard he tried.
In the end, he decided to place her on the ground and make her as comfortable as he could. Slowly, he eased her down, kneeling beside her and holding her head in his lap. Brushing aside the dark tresses that lay scattered across her face, a pang of sadness rippled through him. 'What did this to you?'
It surprised him to see her eyes open, dark pupils swimming with tears. Whimpering in pain, she lifted one hand slowly, trying to reach up to his face. Renji caught it halfway, clasping it with his own and giving her a reassuring squeeze. In the very least, she would not die alone.
The young woman attempted a feeble smile, wincing at the pain lancing through her. Licking her lips, she tried to steady her shallow breaths, though a deeper intake of air only brought more agony.
"Shh…lie still and don't try to talk," he advised.
Tears slid down her face, finally spilling over at the comforting sound of his voice. She knew death was coming.
"I…cannot…die here," she whispered, wide lips beginning to tremble.
Renji's brows furrowed, the words hurting him simply because he knew he was helpless. Seeing death on a regular basis never made it any easier and certainly not in a situation like this. It made it personal to him, even if she was just a stranger.
"Will you…" she began, her words halting as a stinging wave of pain held her in its grip, causing her body to tense and forcing a strangled groan out.
Still holding her hand tightly, Renji used his free hand to wipe away the tears that were now streaking her face. It had definitely become personal. When her body went lax again she resumed her request, muddy brown eyes searching his desperately.
"…Lend me your…strength?"
Renji Abarai responded as any decent man would have, nodding his head in a silent agreement. Anything to soothe her in the final moments of her life. What he had not expected was the slight chill that came from her hand as her grip on his tightened.
The chill shifted gears, a precursor before rapidly becoming a roaring fire that engulfed him completely, if only for a moment. It felt like forever before that scorching blaze subsided, and when it did it was replaced by something else entirely. Following on the heels of that strange sensation was an acute awareness of the stranger he held, along with a searing, near overwhelming pain.
Eyes growing wide, Renji leaned forward, gasping from the agony that now seized him. Through the haze of misery, he could see her eyes had closed once again. 'What the hell did she do to me? Oh gods…Why can I feel her wounds as clearly as if they were my own?!' He remained frozen like that for what seemed like an eternity, body and mind struggling to adjust to the sudden change.
When he finally thought he had a handle on the pain, he glanced at her again. He couldn't be certain, but her condition almost seemed to have improved. In the very least, her breathing was steady and her heartbeat not so ragged as before.
Taking it as a sign, Renji lifted the woman into his arms once more and stood. 'If I can get her to a healer…' he told himself before speeding back towards the Seireitei, cradling her like a prized possession. 'You're gonna make it, I promise.'
A/N: I hope you were able to see and appreciate the improvements made here. As always, I am accepting critiques because I know I still have a ways to go if I ever wish to be a successful writer. All I ask is that you remain polite. The other chapters will be released as they are rewritten.
Thank you for reading. A review would be appreciated but is not required. So long as you enjoy the story, that's all that matters. :) Special thanks to my Master, WannaBeNinja, aka oOLadyLuckOo for helping me proof read this chapter. You're always such a big help to me, thank you!
Aes Sedai - Servant of All, in the Old Tongue. These are an elite group of women trained in the White Tower inside of the great city of Tar Valon. All of them are able to channel Saidar, the One Power, and manipulate it to their will. This ability grants them permanently youthful features, an ageless appearance, as well as greatly extending their lifespan. The women who succeed in becoming Aes Sedai have survived the harsh and rigorous training in order to do so.
Accepted - An initiate of the White Tower, one very large step below the rank of Aes Sedai. Upon passing the test to become an Accepted, they are gifted with the golden Great Serpent ring worn by all Aes Sedai.
Novice - An initiate of the White Tower, one step below an Accepted. Girls as young as 13 join the White Tower in hopes of becoming Aes Sedai one day, though less than half actually succeed in doing so.
Ajah - Sub-organization within the White Tower. All Aes Sedai belong to one of seven Ajah's. Each of these societies serves a specific purpose. The Brown Ajah is dedicated to the study and collection of knowledge. The Green Ajah specializes in military and combat, giving rise to the term Battle Ajah. When a woman passes the test and is raised to the rank of Aes Sedai, she selects her Ajah and is granted a shawl, fringed in the color of that Ajah to serve as further proof that she has attained that rank. Normally, the shawl is only worn for formal occasions, but newly raised sisters tend to wear theirs constantly, as a reminder to themselves and to others.
Saidar - The One Power, also referred to as the Source. It is the female half of the True Power, which drives the Wheel of Time. Some women are either born with the ability to channel it, or can be trained how to. Their strength in doing so varies from woman to woman. Using Saidar requires combining one or more of the 5 elements (fire, air, water, earth and spirit) into a weave, each combination resulting in something different. From the mundane to the dangerous.
Atha'an Miere - Also known as the Sea Folk. They are a group of people who spend their entire lives at sea, coming ashore only to trade goods. They have a complex system of customs and hierarchy, and rank is often easy to spot by the number of piercing one has. They typically have very dark complexions and tattoos that mark their clans, leading mainlanders to see them as exotic and mysterious.
Warder - Also known as Gaidin, which translates as Brother to Battles in the Old Tongue. They are men whose souls are bonded to an Aes Sedai, whom they will serve as a bodyguard until their death. The Saidar formed bond is beneficial to both sides, granting the Warder greater stamina, physical prowess and the ability to sense creatures of the Dark One. The Aes Sedai gains a loyal bodyguard whose strength she can draw off of if needed. The bond also allows both parties a certain awareness of the other, so that they can always sense the feelings and emotions of the other, as well as always knowing their location.
Aiel - A race of people that live over the Spine of the World, in the desert wasteland referred to as the Aiel Waste by outsiders and the Three Fold Land by the inhabitants. They have a reputation for being the deadliest of all fighters, though little else is known about them in the outside world. Taller than most, they are characterized by both their height, as well as pale eyes and red or blonde hair.