AN: Hey lovely readers! Another update! If you appreciate my work and effort, review! =)
Note: Kisuke is the Guardian God of Ichigo's world. And the cats eye is the portal key to go into the next world. Not every intersection between the worlds are like the one mentioned in this chapter. Special request granted for those that can guess who will be in the next world. =)
The next day was spent helping Starrk pile loads of clothes and pack food and bandages. Ichigo gave over the only valuable thing he had to him as part of the deal. The thick blood red ruby his mother had given to him at birth now sat in the pouch at Grimmjow's waist. He had half a mind to steal it back but that wouldn't have done much to help him with the rescue.
They left at day break the net day. Ichigo tried not to blush when Kisuke's eyes lingered on him for a bit too long and a slow knowing smile flashed over his face before he waved them off.
Ichigo twirled the small crystal bracelet in his fingers and watched in rapture as the small glittering diamond shaped bead jingled around its small crystal prison. A shout up ahead told him to go faster and he kicked the horse. The pale maroon steed under him gave a small whinny of protest and sped up. Ichigo frowned in annoyance and wiped a thin bead of sweat from his brow. They had been traveling for two days straight since they left Kisuke's shop during the day time. Ichigo tried to ignore the tense atmosphere in the city as they passed. Grimmjow had insisted to ride with him until they made it out of the city's patrol parameters.
Ichigo sort of missed the man's solid presence behind him. Grimmjow's skin was cold to the touch even under the heat of the sun. Somehow he didn't sweat under the blistering sun. Ichigo could faintly recall his body temperature feeling like a normal being a few days back but…
The prince glanced under his bright lashes and frowned at the straight back. The mercenary sat on his mount without any sighs of being tired. Kenpachi was having a bit of trouble with Yachiru. Apparently the small girl/monkey didn't do well with heat and was trying to chew through Kenpachi's arm. The tall man was cursing under his voice as he rode past, his horse picking up speed.
"The portal is close. Wait for my orders. We need to prepare the mounts." Starrk's firm voice made them slow down after an afternoon of riding without a word. The head mercenary dismounted from his horse and sighed in relief as he rotated his hips. Storm grey eyes surveyed the patch of bright blue flowers in front of them. The patch of flowers spread from the edge of the trees and disappeared into the mist farther ahead. Ichigo felt a cold chill seep through his skin and shivered involuntarily. The other two men dismounted and started tying eye patches over the horses' faces. Ichigo frowned in concern and watched as the horses whinnied nervously from the loss of sight.
Grimmjow stepped over to Ichigo's mount and looked up at the prince. He tried to smile at the assassin but Grimmjow leveled Ichigo a flat look and gave a gesture to dismount. Ichigo slid off his horse with a stiff cry.
"Put on the clothes and wait with Kenpachi." Grimmjow didn't turn back to look at him as he patted the maroon horse over the head and lead it to the other three mounts. Ichigo blinked when a heavy fur coat was draped onto his shoulders. The prince blushed scarlet as the small wooden bowls secured to his chest were knocked sideways by the heavy article of clothing and ducked in panic. But Kenpachi hadn't noticed a thing as he struggled with a thick black coat.
After each putting on a thick coat, Starrk pulled out a familiar item. It was the large gemstone that resembled a cat's eye that had been on Kisuke's chest when they had first gone to his shop.
"Well, princess. This is the first intersection of the worlds. Prepare yourself."
Starrk smiled slightly as he held out the stone and threw it out onto the field of unending flowers. A bright golden flame exploded over the blue petals and the whole field seemed to have been set on fire. Ichigo closed his eyes against the brightness and took a step back.
Starrk….how nice to see you once more. Something hissed behind the thick wall of flames.
"Hey, Yoruichi." Starrk stepped forward and reached out a hand. Ichigo's eyes widened as a slim woman stepped out of the flames. Her body was covered in a dress of flames. A handful of tails peeked out form behind her, all glowing in bright flames. She blew a kiss at the brunet man and turned her hypnotic eyes to Ichigo. The prince took a step back.
Taking another poor soul to the underworlds? An amused purr sounded as she stepped forward.
Starrk smiled and motioned for her to step into the flames. She smiled and flicked her tail for them to follow. Grimmjow mounted the horse without a word and patted the spot in front of him. Ichigo blinked in surprise.
Kenpachi slipped Yachiru into his coat and Ichigo mounted Grimmjow's horse. Starrk sent the maroon one back in the direction they had come and waited until it disappeared into the trees. Flames licked at Yoruichi's dark smooth skin as she watched them.
"Alright love, lead the way please." Starrk gave her a lazy charming smile and she slipped back into the wall of flames. Grimmjow had obviously felt Ichigo stiffen in front of him and held out a thick strip of cloth.
"Tie it to your eyes and no matter what you hear, don't open your eyes." A firm squeeze to his arm made warmth rush though Ichigo's body and he obediently wrapped the silk over his face. the flames felt icy as they passed though.
The sound of wind howling through trees echoed in Ichigo's ears as he passed though the portal. A sudden rush of wind stole his breath away and he nearly choked before warm arms wrapped around his waist and drew him against a solid body. Somewhere close a shrieking laugh exploded and he flinched as cold fingerlike tendrils brushed his face. The horse whinnied in fear and Ichigo felt the horse's muscles tremble in fear but it was obvious Grimmjow had trained his mount to trust him completely.
The sound of occasional hissing came from ahead. It was probably Yoruichi. Ichigo's fingers itched to reach up and pull the blindfold down. His fingers twitched in his lap and he had to pinch himself to stop the growing urge. It felt like he was going to be swallowed whole by the pitch black from behind his lids. Ichigo's fingers jerked up to his face and scratched at the cloth in a frenzy movement and for a few seconds, he saw something blurry in front of him. Then warm fingers wrapped around his hand and blocked out the sight of the horrid thing. But the deed was done.
He had seen the mutated face inches from his own. A horrid rotten bloated face. It was frozen in an expression of pain and one eye was missing. The other was a milky pale color. The feeling of pure anguish washed over him, threatening to swallow his very soul. Ichigo's mouth opened to scream but Grimmjow must have anticipated the move and a hand clamped over his mouth.
It felt like days until fresh open air greeted his nose and Ichigo choked out a breath as he slid numbly off the horse, not even caring about the fake breasts as he sobbed into his thick coat. No one tried to comfort him. Starrk's face was a clash of green and pasty white and his eyes were unfocused. Grimmjow had his eyes closed and was breathing slowly, his hands fisted into tight balls.
"That was some freaky shit." Kenpachi shook his head roughly and took a few gulps of air. "God, I hate this cold shitty place."
Ichigo blinked at Kenpachi's words and looked up though teary eyes. The world was painted a pure white. Small fluffy bits of white fell steadily from the sky and he reached out a hand to catch one. It disappeared in his palm, leaving a few drops of water. He poked out his tongue and caught a few of the cold fluffy bits. Trees were covered in the white stuff and hung down in thick clumps of white. The rest of the world had no other color. The glare of the sun was magnified by the thick white stuff and it hurt to look around.
"What is this?" Ichigo looked up at the tall teal haired man. Grimmjow's shoulders and head were covered in the white stuff.
"It's snow." He replied simply and Starrk offered a small stiff smile, his eyes retaining their sharp focus. He offered a hand to Ichigo.
"Welcome to the snow country, milady."
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