Disclaimer - I do not own Bleach nor any of the characters
Memories are simple things. They tell us who we are and they remind us of the events that shaped our personalities. To most people memories are something that is meant to be cherished. To a few, memories are something that they try their best to forget.
They can bring joy and they can also bring pain. That is simply the nature of memories; they are what we ourselves made of them.
For my part, I am one of those who desperately want to remember and yet cannot. I'm still unsure of how it happened but I have lost all memory of the person that I am.
Now some would say that, as the spirit of a zanpaktou, I am not a person at all but that is not the case. I possess my own personality, am my own person, but even so I am not complete.
I need that one soul to whom I am eternally bound.
Unlike the other zanpaktou, who seek freedom from those who wielded them, I seek only the knowledge of who I am and to whom I am meant to belong. The others seek to break the bond they share with the Shinigami in whose soul they resided until recently.
I seek only to remember.
The knowledge is there somewhere, of that I am certain. I need only travel around the Seireitei until I come across the Shinigami who is powerful enough to be the one who wields me.
That is how I will know the correct Shinigami. Whoever was in control of my spirit until Muramasa intervened has to be strong so it shouldn't take long for me to discover their identity.
That is my goal.
And as I walk through the Seireitei I think back to the words that Muramasa spoke to all of us. Telling us all that there was a certain Shinigami, an orange haired young man, whom we weren't supposed to engage in combat with.
This is the person that I will seek out.
It was obvious, by the look in Muramasa's eyes, that the youth named Ichigo Kurosaki had shocked him with his strength. Someone powerful enough to cause such a look in his eyes was definitely someone worth looking into.
Perhaps this is the key to the puzzle that will finally allow me to piece together my shattered memories and reclaim the person that I am.
And reclaim the partner that I am destined to walk through eternity with.
The burden of not even knowing your own identity is crushing and this thought echoes through my mind as I walk through the Seireitei. Searching. Without my memories, who am I really?
I am no one.
I can feel the reiatsu of a powerful fighter and I find that I am drawn toward it as a moth to a flame. Perhaps the person giving off this tremendous aura of power is the person that I seek or, if not, then perhaps they will be able to tell me who it is that I seek.
It takes a little time but I finally manage to find the source of the powerful reiatsu that I sensed before. This person is standing on a ledge alone, surveying the surrounding lands, and I waste no time initiating my attack.
I need to know if he is the one and there is only one way for me to ascertain the truth. I have to fight him.
Summoning my powers I launch a barrage of ice in his direction, which he manages to dodge. This is an impressive feat, seeing as he has yet to determine my location, and I find myself hopeful.
Perhaps my search has ended.
For my second attack I summon forth four of the ice dragons, sending them in the man's direction. He leaps into the air and once again manages to block my attack.
And this time his gaze focuses squarely on the spot where I am standing.
"Who are you?"
There is confusion in his eyes as he gazes in my direction but this could be caused by a number of things.
And I have to know the truth.
"You're Ichigo Kurosaki am I correct?"
"How do you know my name?" The man named Kurosaki remains in his position on the ledge as he makes this demand of me.
"You are strong. Muramasa said not to fight you."
"Why the hell would he say something like that?" Kurosaki's tone is hostile as he poses this question but I'm unsure at whom his hostility is directed.
Muramasa or myself?
"I would like to know that as well." Holding up my blade I once again summon the four ice dragons, which circle the ledge where Kurosaki is standing.
The dragons of ice circle around him a couple of times before completely incasing him within their icy bodies. I stare at the ledge that is now surrounded by ice for the briefest of moments before lowering my blade and turning to walk away.
Perhaps I misjudged him.
Turning back toward the ledge I can vaguely see a flash of light from behind the wall of ice and then, mere seconds later, the ice shatters.
I must admit that I'm surprised by this move as well as by the fact that someone so young would have achieved Bankai.
"Bankai you say?"
"Yea," the young man says, his voice containing a slightly defensive tone. "What's it to you?"
The fact that he was able to break out of my trap so effortlessly has renewed my hope somewhat. "That katana… is it a zanpaktou?"
The young man answers in the affirmative.
"A zanpaktou," I repeat, more to myself than to Kurosaki. "What's it's name?"
This question seems to surprise the young man somewhat. "Why do you care?"
I hesitate, my gaze going to the ground. Reality is setting in and I'm forced to admit what I fear I've known all along. While strong, this boy is not the one I seek.
"What is it?"
"You aren't my master, are you?"
Still more confusion from the orange haired youth that I chose as my opponent. "What are you talking about?"
I have no desire to go into the details with this person. All I want to do is find my true master and reclaim my lost identity. "I have no business with you if you are not my master."
It's as simple as that.
I turn to walk away, determined to find the master that I seem to have forgotten. Determined to reclaim my lost memories and with them, my very identity.
I pause as I hear Kurosaki call out to me and once more I turn to face him.
"Don't you know who you belong to?"
I turn away once more. "I do not." What has happened to me is disgraceful and I find it difficult to even admit this fact. "I do not know my master's name, nor even my own."
I have no idea what the young man is about to say, nor do I care to listen. He is not my master and therefore I have no further use for him. I must continue with my search for the one person who can restore what I've lost.
"Thousand year ice prison."
Once more four pillars of ice grow to surround the ledge where the orange haired young man still stands. Circling around they will prevent him from interfering with me. Not even glancing back, I continue to walk forward.
I had hoped that the man that Muramasa had warned us against fighting would be the key to recapturing my lost memories but sadly this was not the case. With downcast eyes I walk away, beginning to fear that I may never regain my self.
"Hyourinmaru… Your name is Hyourinmaru."
I shift my gaze toward the sound of this new voice and I see a young boy standing on a ledge, gazing over at me with the strangest expression in his teal eyes.
It's almost as though he knows me.
"Toushirou!" The young man trapped by my thousand year ice prison calls out to the boy, which leads me to believe that the two of them know one another.
And yet the white haired youth completely ignores his comrade. With his gaze still resolutely focused on me the boy named Toushirou jumps from the ledge, landing lightly a few feet away from the spot where I'm standing.
And the look in his eyes seems somewhat sad.
"Your name is Hyourinmaru," the strange youth repeats as he gazes over in my direction. "And you are… my zanpaktou."
This declaration comes as somewhat of a surprise to me but I force my features to remain completely emotionless as I return the boy's stare. As much as I want to find my master there is simply no way that a child like this could ever possess the power to wield me.
The white haired youth and I continue to gaze at one another, our eyes locked together.
"Your name is Hyourinmaru. And I am your master Toushirou Hitsugaya."
"Hmmm." I can't help the slight chuckle that escapes my lips at this bold declaration from the child. "There's no way that a mere child such as yourself could ever be my master."
A surprised gasp escapes the lips of the child and I can see that he is clenching his hands in anger. My words seem to come as a shock to him but I'm not certain why.
Did he really think that I was going to be fooled by this trick?
"Are you serious?" There's a slight note of demanding in the boy's voice, although it's difficult to pick out. Possibly a bit of an accusation. "Have you really forgotten me?"
Holding my blade at a slight angle I continue to gaze at the boy. "Child, did you truly think that I would believe you?"
There's an angry expression on the boy's face although I'm uncertain exactly who it is that he's angry at. Is it me or perhaps someone else.
"Did that freak Muramasa do something to you?"
"That is unrelated." It seems as though the boy isn't going to give up on his assertion that he is my master no matter what I say. "I merely lost my memories when I was released from my master."
"All of your memories?"
I'm not certain why I feel the need to explain myself to this child but the words simply come of their own free will. There isn't really anything that I can do about it. "I'm currently working under Muramasa but my real goal is to find my true master."
The child's eyes widen even further upon hearing these words. "Your true master?"
"That's correct." Finding my true master, the only one who can wield me, and regaining my memories is my sole purpose. I have no real interest in Muramasa's goals nor are they my own. "Because my powers are so vast, only a truly powerful Shinigami can wield me. At the very least, he cannot be a child such as yourself."
The child's facial expression has reverted back to the way it looked when he first arrived. He seems thoughtful somehow. "My powers may still be immature but…" His facial expression changes once more, this time to one of determination. "that doesn't change the fact that I'm your master."
I find myself growing impatient with this child's persistence in saying that he is my true master and I raise the blade that I am holding. "If you persist in saying that you are my master, you will have to prove it to me."
This said I prepare to attack. Using a flash-step I appear behind the child, who manages to block my attack with the blade that he carries. Then he whirls around and jumps back a few feet, out of striking distance.
I have to admit I'm somewhat surprised by the fact that the child actually managed to dodge the attack but that means nothing. He still doesn't possess the power necessary to beat me and therefore cannot possess the power necessary to wield me.
This child is not my true master.
Raising my blade once more I launch a barrage of ice in his direction, thinking that this attack will take him out of the battle for certain. And to make doubly sure, I leap toward him, swinging my blade.
Which he blocks and then jumps back, using a nearby ledge to launch himself toward me.
This child is certainly fearless in battle, I am forced to admit. But that in and of itself does not necessarily mean that he is powerful. Just that he is young and lacking in experience.
Holding up my blade I effortlessly block the blow that he is aiming toward me and, with one thrust, send the child skyward. Glancing back over my shoulder I see that the child is preparing for another attack, although I'm unsure of what it will be.
"Way of Binding Number 63: Binding Chains."
I watch as lights erupt from his hands, forming chains which then proceed to wrap themselves around my body. So he decided to go with a kidou technique. Completely unfazed by the attack I merely watch as the child lands a few feet away.
"That won't work." Summoning my powers I freeze the chains that are wrapped around my body and then use my strength to destroy them.
Practically without effort.
Holding up my blade I release a burst of reiatsu, quite honestly more than I had intended to use in this fight with the white haired child. But nothing is going as it should and I watch as storm clouds gather, each a deep shade of gray.
Snow begins to fly through the air as yet another ice dragon rises to float behind me. The child is staring in disbelief but it's his own fault that this battle is still going on.
He could have given up on his insistence that he is my master but he chose not to.
As a result of my raised reiatsu level the ice that is circling the Kurosaki boy begins to close in and I vaguely hear him swearing from above.
"Stop it Hyourinmaru!" There is anger evident in the child's teal eyes as his gaze shifts back and forth from Kurosaki's prison to me. "I'm your opponent."
This said the child holds out his hands. "Red Flame Cannon!"
This time a burst of red energy erupts from the child's hands and flies toward the spot where I am standing. This kidou isn't any more powerful than the binding spell that he had attempted earlier and is equally as ineffective.
He launches himself forward at the same moment that I catch the ball of energy, turning it to ice in my hands. "Couldn't you hear me when I said that won't work?"
Why else would the child persist with such weak attacks?
I crush the ball of ice that I'm holding in my hands and then direct the ice dragon to attack the child. It obediently flies forward and I watch as the two of them clash. The child makes a move to block the attack with his sword but he is pushed back none the less and, when he hits the ground, ice erupts to surround him.
The snow continues to swirl as I gaze at the spot where the child had landed and watch him crawl from the ice. He's using the blade that he carries for support but still seems resolved to continue the battle.
"Zanpaktou…" the child gazes at me as he speaks. "I've been told that the zanpaktou who have been released from their masters are now acting on instinct. So what are your instincts Hyourinmaru? What is your soul telling you to do?"
"My instincts?" I'm unsure of exactly what he means by this.
"Yes your instincts. What is it that your soul desires? Or have you even forgotten that?"
Closing my eyes I think about his question for the briefest of moments. What is it that my soul desires? There is a simple answer to that question. "I seek a place where I belong."
"Where you belong?"
I open my eyes once more and return my gaze to the white haired child who stands before me. "Yes. I believe I desire a place where I belong."
This seems to trigger something in the child's mind and for a moment he merely stands and stares off into the distance. He is still gazing in my direction but I can tell that, in this moment, I'm not the one that he is seeing.
Something about my words caused his mind to travel elsewhere, if only for this brief moment in time.
Not willing to attack someone who is so clearly at a disadvantage all I can do is stand and gaze at the child, as the snow continues to swirl fiercely around us.
"Sit upon the frozen heavens…"
My eyes open wide as the boy calls out these words, at the same time raising the blade that he held so that the tip of it was pointing to the sky.
Lightening flashes, the wind picks up in intensity, and all I can do is stare as a large dragon of ice emerges from the tip of the child's katana. This… this simply isn't possible. How did he…
"You still can't remember anything?" A strong aura begins to swirl around the child as he posses this question to me. "Then let me show you. I don't know what will happen when I use it in Shikai but…"
Still completely entranced by the fact that the child was able to summon forth my power all I can do is stare.
The child lowers the blade so that it is pointed in my direction. "Dragon Hail Flower!"
Wrapped in the coil of the dragon, together they fly toward me. And still I am powerless to avoid the attack. All I can do is watch as they approach, radiating an immense power.
Ice explodes to surround us, in the shape of a four petaled flower, and yet all I can focus on is the child who is still approaching. The blade of his katana pointing toward me.
"Remember. Remember who it was that heard your name. Remember where it is that you belong."
And it is in this moment that I am seized by memories, the memories that I had begun to fear I would never recover. I hear the sound of my own voice, speaking to someone. "Child, do you think that you can wield me? My name is…"
An image appears in my mind, blurry at first but then it begins to clear. And it is an image of the white haired child who is facing me now.
The image fades, replaced by the determined face of the same white haired child. His mouth is open and he is screaming… screaming out my name. "Hyourinmaru!"
This child… is my true master.
The one soul to whom I am bound for eternity. The one that I have been searching for.
A burst of reiatsu shatters the ice that surrounds us and shoots up into the sky, disbursing the storm clouds that had gathered. Transforming into my dragon form I gaze at the child who is hovering in the air before me.
The person that I have been searching for.
My true master.
I can tell that his energy is spent from the battle and I feel a stab of remorse for causing this. I lean my head closer to him.
Master opens his eyes and gazes at me. "Do you remember now?" There is no hatred in his voice, as one might expect from someone who's own zanpaktou had attacked them. He just sounds tired. "Now then, I'm no child. I'm Toushirou Hitsugaya."
Spreading my winds wide I throw my head back and let out one roar before shattering in a spray of ice, returning to my human form. Reaching out I gently take my master in my arms, grateful that at last I had found the place where I truly belong.
As I gently float back to earth with him held carefully in my arms there is a smile on my face for the first time since this ordeal began. I have finally returned to the place to where I belong.
I have my memories and my master back.
I am at peace.
A/N - this one turned out way longer than I anticipated but I wanted to write something from Hyourinmaru's POV after watching his fight with Hitsugaya. I felt really bad for him and it was a testament to his strength and loyalty that Muramasa actually had to strip him of his very identity in order to get him to follow along. And even then it didn't work. Hope that you enjoyed. Dialogue taken from episodes 238 and 239. Thanks for reading.