CHAPTER 1: AB INITIO
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach...
The title of this chapter is Latin for "from the beginning."
"Lord Aizen, are you sure this is the right choice?"
"You're being very forward today, Urahara."
"I apologize, my Lord. I'm only worried for the future."
"This is for the future."
Urahara watched as the Keeper, or ruler of all, Lord Aizen, reached his hand forward over the precipice they stood near. Call it a ledge of clouds, if you would. The all-powerful brunet stood tall, his intimidating form cloaked in a long, pristine white robe, trimmed with gold around the hems of the sleeves, collar and trailing along the ends. His feet were clad in golden boots, and a sword made of the purest of diamonds rested at his left hip, the sheath made of the most impermeable steel, the hilt made of onyx. His brown hair was wavy, but impeccable, even with a single, stubborn strand hanging over his high brow. His dark brown eyes sparkled with unspeakable amounts of energy, only broadcasting his immense wealth of strength. As the Keeper, Sosuke Aizen, held his hand out, what appeared to be a free-floating puddle of ice-blue water shimmered into existence at the tips of his fingers. It wavered and produced a shrill ringing sound, like trembling crystals.
Urahara had the urge to move forward and inspect the strange, watery formation, but held his curiosity at bay. Barely. Aizen's fingers moved as if he were playing a harp and the formation solidified, morphing into a looking glass. The image it displayed was of the intended resting places for the four ancient Storm Element gods. The blond man shifted uneasily. After what they had just gone through, he didn't believe laying the elements to rest was the wisest decision, but Aizen was the Keeper and ruler of all worlds, meaning, what he said was law.
The resting places were each different locations on Earth, but all deeply ensconced and cleverly hidden from plain sight. Made of an old stone – one that had been around long before Urahara had come into being, and able to withstand any form of damage, whether natural or man-made – the "tombs" were indestructible. Each god had its own tomb and would lie inert until summoned once more. In Urahara's opinion, they were needed at all times, but again, that was just his opinion. The Master of the Netherworld and his Norwhul minions were bound to wreak havoc on the Earth again. It was only a matter of time. However, Aizen must have something grand in mind if he was giving the protective elements a rest. Urahara did edge forward when the brunet began muttering under his breath in the tongue of days of old, his deep voice echoing hugely over the vast land of cloud that made up the man's ethereal kingdom. The blond's heart rate picked up as the air took on a dense texture and shimmered, like a heat induced mirage. The images in the looking glass showed huge slabs of that same indestructible stone rolling in front of the entrances of all the tombs. In turn, it caused the hairs all over Urahara's body to stand erect. It was over. Aizen's voice died down, the last of his words carrying on the wind like a haunting melody. He slowly turned and faced the blond, his eyes holding infinite wisdom.
"Yes, my Lord," Urahara replied, head instantly lowering into a deep, acknowledging bow.
"I will place in your hands the safekeeping of Earth. Build me an army to protect the humans dwelling there."
The blond's mouth dropped open in shock, even as his head gradually lifted from its former submissive pose. "M-my Lord?"
Aizen's brown eyes twinkled as the corner of his mouth lifted into a small smile. "An army. They may be human, but they must be extraordinary humans. I will tolerate nothing less."
"This is not like you."
Urahara stopped and took a deep breath. He was indeed panicking. Aizen had never placed so much responsibility on him all at once, and it unnerved him. He was to create an army to protect the Earth? How? It seemed an impossible task. One that loomed ahead of him like a yawning cavern. With a sigh and a slight shake of blond hair, he glanced at the dissolving looking glass. If this was his task, he would certainly perform it to the best of his ability; it was only his nature. He gave his attention back to his Lord and nodded.
"I will do my best."
Panting desperately, she plastered herself to the jagged cave wall she found herself running for her life through. It was dark. It was freezing cold. It was terrifying. Her heart felt like it was bulldozing her ribs, and her chest ached from the icy air filling her lungs. As she paused and listened to her surroundings, she could hear the steady drip of moisture hitting the cave floor, the distant echoing of scurrying rodents, but nothing of her pursuer. Air puffed in front of her like small, ghostly thunder clouds as she tried her hardest to catch her breath and keep silent all at the same time. She clutched her precious cargo to her chest, tears forming in the corners of her slanted, golden eyes. If she didn't get the prophecy to the hidden ancestral room, the world would be doomed. She absolutely could not allow that to happen.
She ducked her head around the darkened corner and strained her eyes and ears, struggling to pick up any indications that she was still being chased. She heard nor saw any, so she threw the hood to her maroon-colored cloak over her head of vibrant violet hair. She had already rid herself of her noisy boots, which meant she was currently barefoot, but that wasn't important. What was important was the scroll tucked against her breasts. She needed to hide it away before she was discovered. That thought in mind, she hurried on, her running steps silent against the cold, hard cave floor. Dirt crept between her toes, making her cringe with disgust, but still she ran. She slipped around another corner, this one lit by a torch affixed to the wall. As she passed it, she held up a hand and silenced the flame, causing it to shudder once before flickering into darkness. She knew this cave like the tip of her tongue, so light was unneeded. She skidded to a stop at the sound of a distant howl, eyes widening and heart racing. That wasn't good. That wasn't good at all.
She licked her lips and fell into an alternation between swift walking and brief jogging, glancing over her shoulder every few seconds. Fear trickled over her skin like ice water and parched her throat. She was petrified, but she also had a job to do. She rounded yet another corner and came to a patch of cave wall that glowed blue, only seen by those of the Seer race. She placed a small hand against it as she took a peek over her shoulder one more time. Nothing seemed to be following her, giving her the go ahead to open the hidden ancestral room. She hoped the cave corridor stayed empty until she reemerged. Although, to the average person, it would seem like she appeared out of thin air.
The wall disintegrated, revealing a torchlit stairwell. She bustled down them, still desperately clutching the scroll of prophecy to her chest. She'd made it! Just at the bottom of the stairs were the ancestral tombs, where she would be able to hide the prophecy for the future generation of Seers. It was most urgent that they find it, or else the Earth would be doomed. No amount of protection from the ancient storm elements would help, either. She reached the end of the stairwell and bent at the waist, resting her palms against her knees. She'd been running for what seemed like an excruciatingly long time, and now that she was at the end of her mission, the aches and pains were beginning to take a toll on her. Her chest and lungs burned, and when she had fallen earlier on her knees, she'd scraped them. They were beginning to sting as well. Fussing about it now, however, would serve no good. She straightened her back and hastily made her way to one corner of the huge, square room that was littered with stone monuments and statues of her predecessors. The floor and walls were covered with a light dusting of cobwebs, the air stale. She quickly found the statue of her own mother, a tall woman with flowing black hair and piercing gold eyes. The statue didn't show that, but she remembered her mother's face like she'd only died yesterday, instead of over one hundred years before. The statue was old and crumbling around the edges, but the woman's fierce features were still visible. She went to her knees, wincing at the singing pain before setting the scroll at her mother's feet. She bowed once, then closed her eyes and began chanting.
"Protege nos. Salva nos. Nobis."
A few more chants of those phrases, and the stone at the bottom of the statue began separating, forming a compartment just big enough for the scroll to fit inside. She lifted it, sticking it into the small space before whispering her thanks and climbing to her feet. She swayed unsteadily for a second, vertigo overcoming her senses and blurring her vision. Then she shook her head and watched as the compartment closed and sealed on its own. She sent one last reverent look to the statue of her mother before stepping over to the stairs and setting off at a trot on her way up. She could breathe easily now that she'd done what she'd been sent to do.
As she reached the top of the stairs, the hairs on the back of her neck immediately stood on end at the sound of another howl, this time much closer. She rushed from the opening in the wall and with a swift snap of her fingers, the wall reformed itself, jagged and moldy. The faint glowing blue was there again, but only she could see it. Rather than tempt fate, however, she left that part of the cave and rounded a corner, only to come to an abrupt stop. Eyes wide and filled with terror, all she could think was how happy she was to have reached her goal before coming face to face with this being. A low growl scattered the relative silence of the cave and echoed, bouncing off the walls and making the noise that much more ominous.
"Calm yourself, Krose," a rumbling voice issued from beneath the hood of a black cloak.
The form was hunched over, but still a bit towering. Flames licked from under the cloak where hands and feet were supposed to be, but still, at the end of one, long sleeve, a thick, black, leather leash led to the frightening Netherworld hound at the figure's side. The hound growled and thick saliva dripped to the floor from a maw full of sharp fangs and teeth. It was almost as large as its owner and black as pitch, the fur bristled and resembling velvet. A huge spiked collar was wrapped around its muscled neck, but the restraint of the beast did nothing to ease her. She knew for a fact that this would be where she met her end. Met her mother in the next life. Unlike her predecessors, she feared death and especially at the hands of this being.
"Where is the prophecy?" the ancient, gravelly voice asked.
"I will not tell," she spoke up, proud that her voice didn't wobble.
"Foolish girl!" the figure snapped, the flames under the cloak flaring. "What will your infernal pride accomplish?"
"You will not rule the Earth! It is not yours!"
"It will be mine, stupid Seer."
The walls and floor groaned, debris shaking free from the ceiling and falling down around them. It was just like an earthquake, but she knew better. She had angered the being. Angered him so much, his power was starting to leak and reach out for her. The flames under the figure's cloak whipped around, surrounding him and slowly morphing into dark-blue and black. The hound at his side gave a continuous deep growl and edged forward, but was caught by the leash. Still, she stepped back. She didn't know why; there was nowhere for her to run or hide, and the figure was quite aware of that.
"Mortuus," he rumbled, voice changing and taking on a demonic tone.
A sudden whip of black flame shot towards her and wrapped securely around her neck, causing her hood to fall back and her hands to immediately come up and grapple for a way to get it off. Her fingers went right through it, but the flame began crushing her throat, stripping her of air and making her eyes bulge wildly. She could do nothing but flail and slowly succumb to the inevitable.
"You..will not...have the...Earth...Nether...world...scum!" she choked.
Her head was light and lungs struggling to draw in air, but it was useless. Her hands fell to her sides limply as her eyelids fluttered uncontrollably. Her limbs had gone numb, blood freezing in her veins and digits tingling from lack of oxygen. The last thing she heard before darkness engulfed her was the growling of the figure's hound and the figure's rolling laughter.
"Matrem," she whispered.
"Have you heard, Urahara?"
Urahara sighed and rubbed a hand over his face. He was exhausted. Two human months had gone by with him searching the lands for what Aizen had dubbed "extraordinary humans." He had indeed found a few, starting them with training as soon as possible. Aizen hadn't given him a time limit, but he knew better than to be unprepared at any given moment. The training he had arranged for the selected humans involved hand-to-hand combat, sword fighting, and hunting and tracking skills. So far, the results had been superb. The humans were strong and quickly adapted to whatever trials he put them through. The only difficult area had been getting them to cooperate in the first place. They hadn't believed him when he'd told them that they would be fighting for the Earth, fighting against beings that went beyond their wildest imaginations. He sighed again. The groundwork was still underway because they would also need special swords that held power from Lord Aizen himself. If not, there was no way they would be able to defeat the beings from the Netherworld.
Speaking of the Netherworld, the Master of that treacherous wasteland, Yamamoto, had been up to absolutely no good recently. If the rumor Urahara's assistant was currently asking him about was indeed true, the evil man planned to move again. And soon. The blond had tried his hardest to persuade Aizen to reawaken the storm elements, but the Keeper had steadfastly refused. He believed they wouldn't be needed if the army Urahara built was up to par.
Urahara sighed and turned to Tessai. "Yes, I've heard. It's disheartening news."
"The Seers are prepared to retreat until the next generation is groomed."
Tessai toyed with his thick mustache as he stared through the window of the small wooden structure Urahara had created as his base of operations. He was a huge man made of all hard muscle and straight lines, but had a heart that was gentle as a lamb. He was fiercely loyal, so it had been the obvious choice to have him as an assistant.
"It worries me," Urahara started carefully, setting down the sword he'd been cleaning. "If the Seers retreat into themselves, we won't have a clue of what's to come. And if the Seer Princess was truly killed by Yamamoto..." his voice trailed off as he thought of the consequences.
They would not be pleasant.
Tessai huffed and crossed his arms over his broad chest. "Her servant was the last to see her entering their ancestral cave. She never returned."
The Earth Guardian hummed and picked up the sword he'd just abandoned. He ran a cloth over it, smiling when the steel blade shone like a jewel. They had much work left to be done, but with the humans Urahara had chosen, he was optimistic for the future.
Protege nos – protect us
Salva nos – save us
Nobis – keep us
Mortuus – die
Matrem - mother
So, I know I said I wouldn't post any new stories, but things change and I really wanted to get this out there since I have the first two chapters written already. I'd love to have your opinions on this! So review and let me know what you guys think!