I told you I would know ;p This was the winner! Unfortunately for all the rest of my readers, KawaiiBerry-chan reviewed first and this happens to be our brain child! She's such a proud parent XD Okay, I'm not sure how well this one will go over, but the idea was pretty good and KawaiiBerry-chan helped it evolve into something awesome! I just hope I can do it justice =)
Ichi: Am I free in this fic? No torment? *hopeful eyes once again*
Shiro: Ya know, if ya use yer puppy eyes they might get ya further. =)
Ichi: *large watery puppy eyes* Please?
Vae: So hard... to... resist! NO! I must fight them! D8
Grimm: You'll grow an immunity, trust me... I just have a few more years until it kicks in.
It was such a peaceful night. The moon hanging high overhead as its light shone down on the world below lovingly… and then that light turned crimson. Fires fell from the sky and set the small village of Alperen aflame, people screaming in terror as they rushed to save their families. The fires were magic induced, unable to be put out by any that didn't know magic, and the people hurried toward the home of the only mage within their walls. Ichigo Kurosaki is a white mage, one that does his best to protect those around him, and that's the only reason he was allowed to live there. His potions are powerful, his spells of wild magic that's as untamable as his soul, and his greatest talent lies in summoning. As the humans approach the two story house of the talented mage, they're drawn to an abrupt stop. Their only hope is standing off against four witches, all of them drawing on powerful curses to take out the only defense these villagers have.
"You can't win!" a witch with curly purple locks snaps. "Just give up!"
"Go fuck yourself!" the nineteen year old spits out. "I have a master, I don't need another!"
"If you come with us now, we'll leave this village in peace," a petite male witch comments.
"I'll do everything in my power to keep them safe!"
A ball of flame is thrown his way by a witch with aggression lacing her features, her twin sister beside her ready to back her up. Ichigo erects a barrier quickly; just a swipe of his arm and the spell meets a hardened layer of air. The petite male strengthens the onslaught of flames, the small orange haired mage trying his best to shield the entire village. With his power diverted to the barrier around the village, the witches charge.
"Shit!" he gasps.
One hand leaving the barrier, he quickly throws it out above their heads. Above them, a black vortex swirls with wisps of white. They quickly jump from beneath the strange swirl of hues, just in time to miss the jaws striking out to capture them. A huge dragon of white grins toothily at them as it emerges from the vortex, fangs ready to devour them as it unfurls its wings.
"Douse the fires!" Ichigo commands.
Taking in a deep breath, the dragon breathes out a smog of ice to douse the fires around it. The humans cower in fear of the creature, yet they know their mage is in perfect control. Weariness shows on young features as he tries to force the vortex closed before anything else can slip through from the demon realm. The witches note he's tiring, grinning to one another as they close in on him. A shiver of ice passes through him as his magic is touched by a demonic presence and he quickly forces the vortex shut. Praying the demon didn't get through, Ichigo sets the dragon to guard what humans remain… which aren't many, probably about twenty if any. Afterward, he leads the witches away from them and into the forest surrounding Alperen. They're hot on his heels, knowing he doesn't have the energy to summon anything else and delighting in the fact such a powerful being is on the run. Unfortunately, they're not aware that Kenpachi's werewolf pack roams the forest like Ichigo is. He's just coming to the clearing he normally meets the giant werewolf in, when he realizes it looks as though the other hasn't been around in weeks. Fear strikes him as he turns to face the witches surrounding him. He can recall them from earlier encounters pressed by the ambitious Aizen, a male witch practiced within the dark arts.
"Looks like there's nowhere to run to now," Cirucci grins. "Time to give up, Mage."
"Never," the orangette growls out. "I'd rather die than join Aizen's coven. My master is Kisuke Urahara; I answer to no one else!"
"Then we're to kill you," Luppi waves off. "Aizen doesn't want any threats to his cause roaming around."
"Enslaving humans isn't a just cause, no matter how you phrase it."
"They're the lesser species, they deserve chains," Lolli scoffs.
"That's right! After hunting us all down like they did, they deserve nothing else!" Menoly snaps.
"And if you won't help us, Aizen assumes you'll be against us," Cirruci informs. "This means we're to get rid of you before you become a nuisance. So sorry, sweetheart, but if you can't benefit our cause you're useless."
They raise their hands, readying their searing white fires that will most likely burn through his body before he can feel himself dying. Ichigo presses back against a thick tree trunk, closing amber eyes that normally glow in the dark as he turns his face away. As he's preoccupied with waiting for the final blow, a hand of ghostly white reaches from a smaller black vortex. Luppi stops and turns to look behind him, the claws of the white beast shredding through his throat before he can yelp. Crimson gushes from his jugular as he falls, staining pale skin as it returns to the vortex. The twins catch sight of it, fear shooting through their eyes as they look back at the mage waiting for his demise. It's obvious he didn't summon anything. The black void opens again near Cirruci, those claws aching to tear through more flesh, when a roar rumbles through the trees. It hesitates, and then withdraws just as a huge white jaguar barrels through the trees. The twins take off, Cirruci throwing her spell toward the cat whose back touches that of a horse's in height. Ichigo's eyes snap open and stare in shock, his body slowly sliding down the tree trunk behind him as the jaguar leaps. Cirruci goes down, the jaguar's jaws wrapping around her head and closing as blood paints white fur and green grass.
"Shit," Ichigo whispers in panic. "I don't remember this were-creature in Kenpachi's pack."
Flicking an ear his direction, the feline lifts its enormous head and levels the orange haired mage with a cool cyan gaze. The night's activities are catching up to Ichigo, the young mage unable to keep himself conscious after using so much power attempting to protect his village. The werejaguar watches as the mage topples to the ground, startled at this turn of events and uncertain what he should do now. At the sound of humans calling for the mage, he steps over toward the vibrant male and breathes in deeply to memorize their scent of cinnamon and a chaotic hint of elements. The magic crackling on tanned skin snaps him, the jaguar jerking back and sneezing before tilting his head curiously. Mages are rare, their talents far more rounded than a witch's. They not only know spells of illusion or destruction, they know some for healing and growth. They know a far wider array of potions, their minds built to concoct completely new ones and alter older ones for far more uses, and they can summon more than ghostly beings used by witches for distractions or gathering information. He makes a quick decision, shifting into his half human form to lift the mage into his arms. There aren't many humans left and they'll likely give him up for dead before packing up to migrate away. Besides, his pack could keep the mage far safer than any human could. After making a hopeless trail through the forest, he turns and bounds back toward his new den and his pack of misfits.
Ichigo groans and blindly reaches for his blanket as he buries his face in his pillows, his body lying on his stomach as per usual. The night was too warm and he probably kicked the blanket off of the bed completely, but he doesn't want to get up yet to get it. A hand gently lying between his shoulder blades has him jerking awake in surprise and fear, amber orbs sleepily searching for a threat. The night before rushes back at him, his breathing quickening as he begins to hyperventilate.
"Oh my," an exasperated tone comments. "Let's not have that, I didn't lose my sleep these past nights to take care of you just for you to kill yourself from lack of oxygen."
He turns onto his side, staring at a male with petite features and pink hair that falls to his shoulders. A tingle of magic from his fingertips touches onto Ichigo's skin, calming the mage as he lets go to get him a drink. His eyes are golden, slightly alight and hinting at were-creature descent.
"Here, drink this."
"No," Ichigo frowns. "I'm not stupid; I know that's a potion."
"You're a mage, of course you'd recognize a potion when you see it," the other remarks scathingly. "If you couldn't, I would've insisted our pack leader kill you for your stupidity! I don't have the time to bandage you up and teach you what you need to know!"
"My master told me to never drink a potion I didn't make myself!" Ichigo snaps. "I don't even know you, I'm not about to trust you! I want to… Mm!"
The creature had rolled his eyes at Ichigo's rant before grabbing his cheeks, forcing his jaw open with a bit of pressure and forcing the potion past his lips. Ichigo tries to get away, yet were-creatures have always been powerful and it's a futile struggle. The pink haired male plugs Ichigo's nose with one hand, forcing his head back with other as it holds his mouth closed, and the orangette swallows the potion unwillingly. The effect is immediate, his muscles relaxing and his heated temper vanishing as a calm he rarely ever feels settles over him.
"There, that wasn't so bad," the man comments. "Honestly, I've never met such a stubborn magic user. You almost died the other night I'll have you know! If it weren't for me mixing that reviving potion, you never would've regained your mana!"
Ichigo nods dumbly, not expecting that revelation. Mana is what mage's draw power from, the aura their soul gives off, and without it their soul can likely escape their bodies and head to the afterlife. Mages are the only ones in the Dark Circles, or the sects of magical creatures, that have this barrier to keep their souls within their bodies. He knew his mana was low, but he didn't know it was that low. Suddenly, he feels much more grateful to the were-creature watching him.
"I'm sorry," he remarks honestly. "Thank you; I really appreciate your help."
"As you should," the arrogant male comments. "But you should really be thanking our pack leader; if he hadn't brought you here I wouldn't have gotten the opportunity to stud… I mean… heal you."
"What the hell's the fascination with studying mages?" Ichigo mumbles. "We're not that different."
"I'll go get the pack leader; he'll want to speak with you."
The mage sighs and nods, waiting within the mess of blankets and finally taking in his surroundings. He's in a den, the rocky walls naturally eroded to create the small room, and the walls are decorated with flowers and vines. The doorway is covered by stings of colorful beads, a bear's fur laid along the floor for a rug, and his bed is a hollowed out boulder filled with down stuffed pillows and a large mattress of the same material. Footsteps wander down the hall and the large jaguar from last night saunters in.
"You saved me," Ichigo says in astonishment. "Why didn't you just leave me there?"
"Mages are rare," he comments. "They're misfits. This pack was established to give misfits a safe place to live; you belong here."
"I belong in my village, taking care of the humans there!"
"Had I not brought you with me, would your humans know the potion to revive your mana and keep your soul locked where it belongs?"
"Then you belong here. Szayel is a hybrid, his father was a were-creature and his mother was a white witch. He's adept at potions and has a powerfully curious nature, which helps him learn more than the average witch. He'll be able to take care of you where others can't."
"… You brought me here for more than that," Ichigo spits out. "What do you want from me?"
The jaguar tilts his head curiously, a humored glint in those steely cyan orbs. Ichigo scowls back at him, the potion doing nothing to eradicate his growing temper in the face of this irritating creature. The jaguar grins, toothy and feral as his ears lay back in challenge. After a long silence, filled with the tenseness that usually precedes a bloody battle, Ichigo relaxes though his scowl never wavers.
"Your humans have packed up and migrated, anyway," the feline grins. "They're not about to stick around this dangerous area without a white mage to protect them."
"They didn't even wait?"
"You've been out for two days, how long did you expect them to wait?" the large cat snorts. "Besides when finding the decapitated head of a witch and another with their throat gouged out, mixed with paw prints of a huge feline and the knowledge of were-creatures roaming the forest… that doesn't leave much room to hope for the best."
The mage groans in irritation as his head falls back on the fluffy pillows, covering his eyes with one arm as the other beats on the down mattress furiously. Humored by the small tantrum, the jaguar snickers and Ichigo growls from between gritted teeth. It doesn't take long for Szayel's potion to kick in, soothing him to the point of sleep. Once the mage is under, the jaguar creeps closer and climbs onto its bed. Curling up beside the strange male, he lies so he can watch the other slumber and lays his head upon his paws.
It's around eleven when Ichigo wakes a second time, the bed beside him still warm and the blanket ruffled in the form of an animal. Carefully, he forces himself to his feet. He can't use his magic yet, his mana is still recovering, but he'll be damned if he lies around until it's better. Ichigo creeps down the hallway on soundless feet he inherited from his tigress mother, though the gene never activated in him, and tries to keep out of sight. It doesn't take him long to realize this den is Kenpachi's old den, the knowledge from countless spars and visits to heal the werewolves as per their agreement. He wonders what happened to the giant werewolf, breathing a sigh of relief when he steps out into the moonlight.
"Awe," a childish voice draws out. "You're not allowed on your feet yet! I'm telling Szayel!"
Startled, Ichigo swiftly turns to look at the magenta eyed coyote pup. The motion is so quick he falls against the cliff wall light headed, the pup grinning in satisfaction before hurrying off to locate the pink haired were-creature. The minute she starts heading inside, Ichigo takes off into the trees. He knows this trail like the back of his hand, can traverse it on a moonless night when there's little light to guide him, and is well on his way home when he hears the first hint of paws thundering against the ground.
"Shit, shit, shit, shit, shit," he chants as he leaps over a fallen tree.
A large coyote he can only guess is the pup's father streaks past his right side, the jaguar leaping over a boulder on the left. Behind him, he catches sight of a couple large foxes and a lanky wolf. He's just about to take a running jump over another fallen tree… when he's caught in midair by a length of scaly body. His first instinct is to scream… unfortunately, like a little girl… but his next instinct is to get away. He squirms fiercely within the huge anaconda's grip, forcing it to coil around him lest it drop him. He's set on the ground below gently, the snake unraveling itself from the trees it was hidden in and turning golden eyes onto the orange haired male. The pack closes in around him, glimmering eyes trained on his struggling form.
"Szayel, let him go," the jaguar commands in a gravelly voice. "But don't uncoil completely."
The anaconda nods, its coils loosening though staying stacked up along Ichigo's frame. The mage notes that the coyote pup is clinging to the larger one's back, canines bared in a triumphant grin. He sticks his tongue out at the pup, who returns the favor happily.
"You aren't ready to be on your feet," the jaguar hisses. "If you needed to take a jaunt through the trees, you should've asked someone to accompany you!"
"I don't need protection!"
"The witches are still combing the area," the coyote sighs as though talking is a chore. "I've caught their scent quite a few times today. They haven't given up on finding you… and something else is out there as well. I've found three dead bodies, mangled and torn to shreds by eager claws. We don't know what this thing is, but it likes bloodshed and a lone mage would make a tasty target."
Ichigo is reminded of the strange tingle that traveled his connection of magic, paling at the thought of a demon getting through that vortex. He's always so careful when summoning, but even Kisuke has had a few dark creatures slip through. Usually they go about their lives, killing and spreading chaos like a disease… so why is this one hanging about this area?
"Let's go," the jaguar sighs. "Ulquiorra will be back soon and I don't like to hear him complain about leaving the den unguarded… vampires are always so damn annoying when they get a bug up their ass."
"V-vampires?" Ichigo stammers.
"Yeah. The whole pack isn't here yet," the feline shrugs off. "We have two vampires, a werewolf, and a white witch yet… they went off to scout the nearby villages for threats and buy some shit they just can't live without."
Ichigo whimpers as he's pushed along by a snake at least sixty-six feet long, almost half the length of a football field. How a snake that long can hide within this forest is a mystery to the mage, though he's heard were-creatures can control the size of their animal forms. He's astounded when the theory is proven right, the snake shrinking down to about twenty feet long… the smallest length of a typical anaconda. With a sigh that clearly states this isn't what he was going for at all, Ichigo reluctantly follows the pack back to their cliffside hideaway. The jaguar watches him carefully, finally shaking the feeling he had gotten when Lilinette had rushed in tattling. When she said the mage was making a break for it, he felt as though he would throw up. Especially after seeing what that mysterious threat can do.
There we have it! Only the first chapter and Ichi's already been imprisoned... in a way. Well, I suppose that's the price for giving him a temper and a kick ass talent *sighs* Sorry, Ichi, you will forever be the temperamental beta that will either get molested, imprisoned, or impregnanted. You just have to choose the lesser of the three evils.
Ichi: Imprisoned. As long as it doesn't involve intimacy on any level whatsoever! =(
Grimm: I'll imprison him! =3 I can't promise I won't rape him, but I'll imprison him!
Ichi: I hate you.
Shiro: Uh... aibou? I don' wanna split hairs er nothin', but if ya take a tally a all these fics... that so ain't true.
Ichi: Shut up, Shiro. *sighs in aggravation*