Dark Side That Is Me

Upon The Rostrum

The large gathering of people that lined the stone courtyard jostled each other in a buzz of excitement and confusion. It had been many, many years since such a public gathering and it was all they could do to keep their imaginations in check.

Was he proclaiming more freedom? Was he announcing some kind of ball or festival? Was he going to announce some important and dangerous war declaration that would send them into battle with a different country? It was nearly too much for them to bear, their breathing coming heavily and faces flushed with a myriad of emotions that teetered between happiness and terror.

There were a few faces scattered within the crowd that were quietly humming in pleasure. For it was the morning after the King's grand celebration and they knew what the announcement would be. They understood why the assassination of a King would be kept quiet for a night. They needed to devise a plan, a story to cover up their failure at protecting the King. And they would need to weigh their options for a new King. But the ones smiling to themselves in the crowd knew that there was only one other choice for Kingship and so they knew that whoever would step out on the balcony overhanging the courtyard would be who they wanted it to be.

Because their faith and money had been placed in the orange haired demon that never failed, that had meticulously planned his moves. And although they regretted the fact that he was most likely dead, since he had not returned to his little home or hideout afterwards, they counted his sacrifice as heroism and promised that once everything was settled they would write ballads that bespoke of one who killed a king.

Although the throng of bodies produced a huge volume of noise that echoed and steadily grew even louder, there was an instant hush as something on the banister caught their eye. It was something odd, something that set them back in their thought process, and for a few minutes even the smiling faces didn't react to the sight that all beheld.

The King stood there, in all his regal glory. Glossy locks of deep chocolate brown were pushed back, lightly oiled to keep it in place and with a thick lock drooping down to rest between his eyebrows in a way that only he could pull off. Sharp angled face held the smallest of smirks, a daring mock that sent the crowd tittering in added confusion.

His eyes scanned the flooded courtyard in regal regard, choosing to look down the length of his nose instead of tilting his head. A white satin robe embroidered with golden designs was draped over his body, high collar sticking straight up before folding neatly back over itself. A blue dress robe laid beneath that, hemmed in thick gold and red silk, the pattern hidden by distance to those looking on. The Holy Sword, strapped to his hip by a dark blue sash, winked its sapphire jeweled hilt in the sunlight, the gold running up the whole of the scabbard nearly glowing in amusement.

His appearance, while slightly overdressed, was not completely uncommon. After all, King Aizen was a man of pride and vanity and loved to be surrounded by beautiful things; that alone was common sense. No, the surprise was what stood at his right side catching attention in numerous ways.

Lips that were smiling secret smiles now stood apart, jaws dropping as those treacherous planners beheld the man as if he were a ghost. A long body made up of legs and arms and healthy sinew that rippled as he shifted from foot to foot; not a nervous gesture but an irritated one barely caught and covered by a blinding white smile that arched over full lips that usually held a cocky smirk. Skin kissed lightly by the sun glowed a healthy pink, as if just scrubbed in a bath.

Around his slender neck a red velvet cape was clasped with a brooch of gold, braided threads of red and blue and white looping multiple times across his chest. The hood on the cape was pulled back but the white fur lining could still be seen as the wind shifted the heavy looking garment. Chest was plated in what looked like silver armor, etched with ancient designs that only the King could understand, and fitting his chest and ribs as if made for him. Blue sleeves reached halfway down his biceps, tied off and leading to a strange set of arm protection that started just above his elbows to extend to his wrists, held down snug by slits of fabric that looped between his fingers.

His lower half was trussed up easily as gussy, with pleated light blue fabric brushing over his strong thighs much like a skirt and yet not, more like shorts with a skirt-like appearance… a 'squart.' Then the small flash of flesh revealed gave way to more strange looking armor, not of metal origin either, strapped to his legs all the way down to his ankles. His feet were encased is soft, supple leather bathed in blue.

He was truly a sight to behold. The color of his orange gold hair matched the glinting of gold that came from shoulder plates, forearm plates, and knee guards. Coupled by the ever intriguing multiple shades of blues and reds, splashes of burgundy interrupted only by plum purples and hare whites, he was truly the most beautiful creature that the kingdom had seen in a very long time.

The Kings voice carried out even though it seemed as if he didn't raise it and it made the crowd take a collective breath since they had not been aware that they had been holding it since the duo's appearance.

"There will be a festival, in two weeks' time! It is to officially mark a new and important Tournament that will welcome Knights from foreign lands to participate in! It will not discriminate against those without Royal or Noble Blood," at this the King's voice dipped in an amused fashion as if challenging those who lacked in such blood to step forth. "So all who think themselves fancy with a blade may enter, though the style of weapon is not limited to the sword and each competitor may use whatever means necessary to win, even if it results in death."

He paused to let his words sink into the crowd and just as he suspected half of the people below him began to murmur excitedly while others took on more nervous facades, pretending that the idea frightened them. But he knew better because he had been ruling these people for very long time.

His gaze slid side-ways to the young man standing at his side and he dipped his chin ever so slightly with that sly little upturn of the corner of his lips, making him look like a very hungry predator.

"The man you see here is to be my Champion in this tournament. Any and all who enter should heed my warning," the King looked out over the crowd again, too far away to make out faces and yet sharp enough to point out a few areas in the crowd where motion had ceased altogether. "This man is very dangerous. Just last night he attempted to slay a King."

A collective gasp was his answer and he wanted to smile but he didn't because he himself was amused at the fact that he had gained a foothold on those who thought themselves worthy to hire an assassin to take his head. In his lazy drawl, he continued.

"Obviously I am still alive. This does not affirm to failure. I would be cruel to those entering if I were not honest. I nearly parished last night on his blade, and there was no man that was able to stop him before I did so myself. In that light," the King clapped his hands loudly in front of his chest, still scanning the crowd.

"Do enjoy your preparations. I look forward to a grand Tournament indeed."

As they turned their backs the mob rose their voices in a roar of approval and excitement, cheering in abandon. Ichigo wanted to spit on them. Actually, he would like nothing better than to hurled himself over the ledge of the balcony and cut into them mercilessly. It would satisfy that little itch starting at the tips of his fingers. Damn the man.

He continued to follow the King, one step behind and to the right even though his eyes bore holes into the back of the man's head. Eventually they entered a large sitting room and the brown haired older man found his way to a lounge chair, lowering himself into it with a grace that Ichigo couldn't help but admire.

"You did well, Ichigo."

He narrowed his eyes. Was Aizen really complimenting him for merely standing there? His thoughts were interrupted before he even had the chance to form the proper retort.

"Everyone fears you now, and yet they will be unable to resist the urge to challenge you in the Tournament simply for the fact that they think you almost succeeded in killing a King."

A servant girl bustled into the room and Ichigo watched her like a hawk as she moved towards Aizen, bowing before him as she offered him a cup of tea. He gave that small little smile to Ichigo as he took it from her and she made her way to Ichigo to do the same.

At first she kept her eyes averted, her short pale colored hair hiding her facial expression from him. When he took it and mumbled a soft thank you she looked up at him with a smile that could light a thousand nights and with a brief bow to them both she skittered away.

Ichigo felt sick, and Aizen continued.

"Have you wondered why I haven't asked for the names of the ones who hired you?" The tone was mild and it jerked Ichigo from his thoughts on the little servant girl who wore fine clothes and bowed to them both. He blinked and locked a bland stare on the King.

"The thought hadn't really crossed my mind, no."

Silence stretcheed between them and it was broken only by the small sips of tea. Ichigo refused to drink his own.

"It's because I know, with time, that they will become angered by your failure. They will call it Betrayal. They will seek retribution. And I believe that with this tournament, they will take their chance no matter how rushed it is. Because that is the type of people they are, Ichigo. Simple minded and weak."

Ichigo thinned his lips and felt his eyes narrow but said nothing to counteract the words that rattled around noisily in his mind.

Failure.

Betrayal.

Retribution.

Never before had he ever been on the receiving end of those things.

Everything had a price.

Please Review!

I know some of you might be wondering what happened. Don't worry! It will all be revealed soon. I wouldn't just leave that out. I promise!

Review. And much love.

By the way, for future reference if these terms are used in the story, this is who I am talking about. In Order of their rank as I have them.)...(Though do be careful. Though the King's Knight is at the top, that does not mean he necessarily has the power to command the others. Well, not yet. Har har.)

Ichigo: The King's Knight

Gin: The King's Ears (I had to put this one up to. At least it explains part of what happened.)

Tosen: The King's Eyes

Ulquiorra: The King's Shadow

Starrk: The King's Hound

Grimm: The King's Hand