Well, for the sake of continuity, I suppose we can't very well tell when this arc took place, neh? That being said, I've decided to throw this arc in shortly after Grimmjow's self serving attack on Karakura town. Don't kill me if I messed up some japanese. I really suck at this whole second language thing, and thanks to those of you who've pointed it my mistakes. Now, I can learn from them, without making a complete ass of myself.
"Bakana! Impossible!" Both Muramasa and Ichigo choked out, ending with the vizard glaring at the zanpaktou before continuing himself. "Inoue's not even a soul reaper! How can she have a zanpaktou?!"
"Actually...Kurosaki-kun, I kinda am." Orihime fidgeted a bit under everyone's intense stare.
Ikkaku raised an eyebrow in disbelief. "Come on, don't mess with-
Just like that, Inoue stepped out of herself. Her body fell to the ground, revealing her soul, clad in a black shihakusho, with an orange sash wrapped around her waist. Everyone stared at the sight, unable to believe their eyes.
"See?" She giggled, as everyone guffawed at the sight. "I really am a soul reaper."
"Oh." Suddenly, Rukia slapped one fist into her palm. "I think I understand what she means. Ichigo, do you remember that night? When you saved Inoue from her brother?"
"Eh? That was a long time ago, but..."
Before he could finish, Muramasa doubled over, the coughing spasms returning with renewed fervor. His eyes glassed over, filling with blood for nary a second, then spilling over as he dropped to his hands and knees. However, instead of the inky black goop he had expunged before, a thick, slimy green residue pooled onto the grass. His renewed strength suddenly deserted him, leaving the zanpaktou to gasp for breath.
"N-Naze...what is this?"
This? An eerie chorus of distorted voices, filled with chilling laughter rang throughout his head, We are not this. We are... you!
Do not make us repeat ourselves! We...are...you!
It felt as if he were being sucked into an endless abyss. He could not breathe this air, it felt as if he had instead ingested a gallon of water, and was suffering the horrid fate of drowning on dry land. Helpless to save himself, helpless to do anything other than retch, and struggle for oxygen.
Then, with a raw, tearing sound a huge clump of...something, exploded from his lips with a renewed assault of bile. Immediately, Muramasa groaned, the air returning to his withered lungs with such a sharp rush that he remained on his hands and knees for several moments, greedily taking in huge lungfuls of life giving oxygen. The voices were gone, he could think again.
Then, he saw it. With his The dark matter that had emerged with his squirmed and writhed in the puddle of bile for several moments, trying to make its way back to Murmasa, who angrlily lashed out at it. The effort was too much for his weakened form to sustain, and his body gave out.
"C-Careful!" Inoue was immediately there to support him, draping one arm around Muramasa's waist, whilst bring herself under his shoulder, an effort the zanpaktou made no effort to refuse, as his stomach divulged even more of the lime green liquid. "I wasn't able to eliminate all of the hollow reaitsu. There's still a litttle bit inside your bloodstream, but if I got rid of that...
"Tch." Ichigo scowled at the blobbish thing, now impaled on the end of Tensa Zangetsu, and trying to work itself free, though its efforts only served to further embellish its rotund shape around the blade. "Ugly little bastard. This thing...was inside him this whole time?"
Rukia suppressed a shudder, whilst Byakuya's only reaction was a slight, narrowing of the eyes. The congregation of zanpaktou each made a slightly disgusted sound, ending with Ruiriro Kujaku's remark at how hideous the creature was. Disposing of it with a flick of his wrist, Ichigo tossed the bulbous blod into the lake and brought his attention back to Inoue's conversation with Muramasa.
"Just...don't use your reaitsu too often, okay? You're not fully healed right now, so-
"Soka. I see." Muramasa, his composure finally regained, closed his eyes, for longer than the standard blink, wiped his mouth and nodded in mutual agreement. He had relied on the energy gained from countless gillian, vasto lordes' and adjuchas for far too long, to simple relinquish it in one day. He had survived by devouring the hollow's absorbing them through their reaitsu. In all likelihood, he'd have their power lingering in his veins for many years to come.
Steadying himself, Muramasa forced his body to stand upright. He was able to do so, but it required some effort, and the human girl took note of this, her lips pursing in concern for a moment, before parting to speak once more:
"Are you feeling better now?" Blinking heavily, Muramasa considered how to reply. He was unfamilair with this woman, even though her name readily came to mind. He could not bring himself to say it, however. It was far too soon for familiarity such as that.
"I... am. You have my thanks, Inoue."
A light pink blush lit the girl's face.
"I-It was nothing, r-really!"
A few gentle smile's broke out amonst Yumichika and the other's. YES, Muramasa had nearly caused the destruction of this world and the next, but at the same time, the scene before them was just too endearing for anyone to frown upon.
"Inoue Orihime,"Soi fon's stern voice cut through the mood like Seele Schneider would through spirit particles. "If you truly area shinigami, and judging by your recent confession you are, and if Muramasa is your zanpaktou, which, considering his sealed state just materialized for you, he seems to be, then the Sou-taichou will want to hear about all of this this."
Throughout the speech, Inoue's face fell, but Muramasa remained stoic.
Now, he stepped forward, even as the leader of the Onmitskido turned her steel gaze towards him.
"And as for you, zanpaktou," Soi fon neither showed nor gave him quarter in her words. "Do not think that your actions will go unpunished, simply because your old master fell at the hands of Kuchiki Byakuya." Muramasa did not allow the verbal jab to provoke him, but a pained grimace flickered across his face at the mention of his master.
"As it is," Soi fon continued, heedless of the dismayed look Orihime wore, "You're facing charges of high treason, wanton destruction, conspiracy to release a known criminal, AND commit mass murder, all added onto your prior sentence of four hundred years ago."
"Very well then." Muramasa stepped forward. He held out his hands, and immediately, Soi fon stepped back, before realizing that the zanpakutou was actually surrending, as opposed to attacking. "If that is how I must attone for my crimes, then so be it."
"Genryusai." Muramasa replied, his tone bland as the quiet murmur of conversation continued outside. He stood there before Yamamoto all the same, uncaring that there was a contingent of Onmitskido officers just outside the door, in case he should try anything.
Chojiro Sasakibe took offense to this immediately. "How dare you speak to the head captain like that! Have you no respect?!"
"Sasakibe." The lieutenant sitffened noticeably as Yamamoto's gaze swiveled towards him. "Your concern is appreciated, however, it is entirely unesseccary at the moment. Leave us."
"H-Hai, Genryusai-dono." Chojiro still balked at the lack of respect the zanpaktou gave, but did as he was told all the same, sparing the rogue zanpaktou one last baleful glare over the shoulder before disappearing behind the wooden frame.
"You didn't have to dismiss him."
"Watch your words. Do you not think that you deserve some punishment for your crimes, no matter how misguided your intentions were? I dismissed my lieutenant so that I could pass judgement on you without any sort of bias."
"Muramasa, you have incredible power. Power that could either be used for good...or for evil. While you may be resolute in your decision to stand by the Soul Society, by your new master I cannot take the risk of allowing you to roam free."
Despair welled up inside his heart, but Muramasa kept his expression stoic, his reaitsu already beginning to flar up. If he was going to be killed, then he'd at least take a few shinigami down with him, this he was certain off.
However? That was usually a good thing. His reaitsu dimmed a bit, but remained, ready to return at the slightest threat or provocation. He'd make certain that this wasn't a trick. Unperturbed, the head captain continued:
"I have had Inoue Orihime thoroughly examined, and oddly enough there is not a trace of deceit or malice to be found in her. Furthermore, she is willing to join one of our squads, in exchange for clemency on your part. We have refused her offer."
"Calm yourself. I said, we have refused her offer to join a squad. We believe that you will be unable to cause any damage, so long as she remains your shinigami, however. That being said, I have decided to grant her request. Furthermore, the two of you may very well be the trump card in this upcoming war against Sosuke Aizen."
Muramasa didn't answer, he could only blink. He was free to go? There would be no restrictions set against him? It was almost too much to believe, too good to be true. He felt as if he would wake up from this dream at any second.
Yamamoto's lips quirked upward in a smile.
"For your crimes against the Soul Society, and the human world, you, Muramasa, are hereby sentenced to serve Inoue Orihime for the rest of your days. That is our judgment. Now, be off with you."
"My ability?" Muramasa blinked, wiping aside a single blood red tear. "Why...you've been looking at it for at least an hour now, espada."
Ulquiorra's perpetual scowl deepened further. He didn't sense anything out of the ordinary, in fact, Muramasa's reaitsu had actually taken a sharp dive, instead of increasing.
But then...then he saw it. The walls and floor, even the ceiling itself, every single dimensional aspect constantly blurred and merged together, rippling across the facets that defined up, donw, left, and right, as if it were water.
Even the Muramasa's appearance was inconsistent, never remaining anything other than translucent. Indeed, the zanpaktou's shape constantly blurred and flickered, sometimes leaving multiple afterimages behind as he appeared and dissapeared with every blink.
"What is this? What have you done?"
Muramasa's once complacent visage quirked into a cruel sneer as he dissapeared and reappeared again.
"Consider this, arrancar, my resolve to kill you. Your five senses are now mine to manipulate as I please. And because of that-"
Without another word, he bolted forward, the indigo orb that was his cero swirling within the palm of his left hand. Ulquiorra remained still, waiting until the very last moment, then struck out without hesitation, ramming his right hand into Muramsa's chest, where it erupted out the back with an explosion of gore.
Surprirse flickered across Muramasa's face then...
Through the rip he had torn, Ulquiorra was suddenly granted a view of an amused Muramasa, standing a few feet away, when he was supposedto be impaled and deceased. The Muramasa he had struck, faded away as if it had never existed.
"You're depth perception is sorely lacking, arrancar." Startled, Ulquiorra whirled around, to find that his attacker had somehow gotten behind him, narrowly blocking the incoming stroke with his free hand, only to find that he had struck empty air. The zanpaktou scoffed, then a sharp kick to the solar plexus drove the espada away from him. "You can no longer wield that sword properly."
Frowning, Ulquiorra thrust a finger forward. Green light danced at the tip of the digit, rapidly forming the distinctively colored cero.
"Useless." Muramasa appeared before him again, uncurled his fist into a hand, and splayed the fingers wide, the motion creating an ominous clacking sound as the nails briefly raked themselves across one another.
Ulquiorra Schiffer could not move. Something had bound his arms to his sides his legs together, no his entire mobility was restricted, as if an invisble python had curled itself about his torso. He could not break free. He was held fast. Even turning his head towards Muramasa's voice, towards the sound of his footsteps, proved difficult.
"Inoue Orihime is my master. As her zanpakutou, I swore to keep her safe. I swore to protect her. I will always be by her side, and I will repay the kindness she has given me."
An air of distaste, of anger, filled his next sentence and with a a flash of purple fire, the sealed state of himself reappeared within Muramasa's right hand, the sound of its summoning rebounding off the still ever shifting walls.
"However, you, lapdog of Sosuke Aizen, would take her away from me without so much as batting an eyelash. You, who would coldly sever my bond with her, I cannot forgive!" He stalked forward then, cold, killing intent flashing within his pale blue eyes, the same light dancing of the silvery edge of his blade, as it was now raised high.
"Therefore, I will keep my promise to Inoue, by cutting you down, and sparing her the pain of betraying her nakama." Ulquiorra did not so much as flinch when the tapered tip pricked his neck, drawing thin rivulets of blood. "Farewell, filthy hollow." Muramasa spat, raising his sword for the final, decapitating blow. "May I never see your wretched face again."
"I see. So, your confidence comes from your ideas of complete control over my five senses? Allow me to tear that away from you completely. Allow me to show you despair."
Muramasa halted ped his attack as Ulquiorra's reiatsubegan to swallow up the entire corridor of the Dangai. Crystal blue eyes widened in shock as this spiritual power began to materialize and envelop the Arrancar across from him, completely covering Ulquiorra in an entirely black chrysalis. As another wave of energy shot outwards at him, the dense blanket of reiatsu tore away, revealing a hellish and black demon.
Before Muramasa could even move, before he could even think about defending himself, he was plummeting back towards the ground, his body spiraling as it fell. Ulquiorra appeared directly beside him, his golden irises staring harshly into the zanpaktou's startled face. From out of nowhere, a whip-like tail struck him in the ribs, sending Muramasa flying back up into the air. Ulquiorra was already above him, his cold expression steady as his long black tail shot forward and wrapped itself around the Muramasa's pale neck. While he dangled helplessly in front of him, Ulquiorra placed he hands together, creating a harsh glow of light from between his fingers.
"Lanza del Relámpago."
He swiftly separated his hands and created a lance as the distance between his palms grew. His right fist grasped at one side of the spear and he swung back with it, his eyes looking into the face of his opponent. Without so much as a word, Ulquiorra's weapon roared forward, demolishing Muramasa's entire lower body as he followed through with the slice. He came back around quickly, releasing his tail's grip upon the zanpaktou's neck before completely...
"Yadda! NO!" Muramasa flew out of the bed, eyes wide, breath coming in short ragged gasps as his eyes frantically scanned the room for any signs of the intruder. All he saw was darkness, dimly illuminated by the light of a lamp. The memories of that dream haunted him still, and he half expected an attack to come out of the darkness.
Nothing. No enemies in sight. He remained still, motionless, for another ten seconds, before the incomprehensible sounds of someone talking in their sleep, came from the next room over. Something about a futuristic robot destroying a watermelon??
Muramasa exhaled heavily, beginning to realize that he was still in the guest quarters of the first squad. In the opposite room, he could feel Inoue's reaitsu, though this did little to soothe him any. Dreams such as this were an ill omen. He'd had a dream like this once before, shortly before Kouga lost his mind and was sealed away. Now, that dark dream had returned, but in a different form. It was as if he had been granted a glimpse into a possible future, a future in which he perished, protecting Inoue.
Strangely enough, this did not bother Muramasa. Though the vision had left him with an ominous sense of dread, at the same time, he knew that his attacker had NOT succeeded in whatever his goal was, and that, Muramasa believed, was a very good sign. He did not fear death. No, his true fear was far greater.
He trembled slightly. He clasped a hand over his face. He sank back down into the bed, refusing to lay down, refusing to close his eyes as the terrible, and inexplicable realization struck him harder than Kouga's blow.
He feared losing the person who'd turned his life around. He felt drawn to her, though he knew little of her, no more than her name. The one who'd driven him to where he was now, and spared him a horrible fate as a hollow.
Muramasa could not bear the thought of losing her.
He just couldn't. If she didn't have a shred of malice or intent to kill, then he would be that shred of hatred, that tiny bit of blood on the tip of her blade that symbolized cutting into an enemy.
'Tomorrow, I will teach her how to use my abilities.'
And suddenly, with that thought locked inside his hear, sleep swept Muramasa into its comforting embrace.
Next time: Return to the human world, and return to normalcy? WRONG!