The Bird of Hermes, Free Again.
Welcome dear readers to the rewrite of my first story. A few warnings before you read on. I had a serious rethink and some concepts have changed. However the basics remain the same and I hope you enjoy this new attempt at combining two of my favourite characters.
PS. Did you know that the first version was over 150 pages of Arial 12pt. thinking about it now, I wonder how that translates into as an actual book.
Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach or Hellsing.
Chapter 1: The Chains of Fate are Broken.
The town of Karakura was tranquil and at peace. The sky was clear and people went about their daily lives as per usual. In the basement of the Urahara shop though, things were less than peaceful.
Ichigo Kurosaki was on his knees, bound at the bottom of the shattered shaft, screaming his lungs out as the final encroachment began. He could only watch in horror as the tiny mouths rapidly spawned and feasted on his soul chain. Left with nothing, his scream became a howl as a white substance poured from his chest and eyes, attempting to swallow him.
Observing this was Kisuke Urahara, his assistant Tessai Tsukabishi and two young children Ururu Tsumugiya and Jinta Hanakari. As Kisuke stared down at the transforming teen, he could see that Ururu was about to intervene.
"Wait just a little longer," he said, as he placed his hand in front of her. "Normally when a plus becomes a hollow the soul breaks down and then reforms with its mask. Here though, the order is reversed. Be patient, as he may yet come out of this unscathed."
Seeing the calculating look in his eye, the two of them stood down and watched the process, trusting him to know what he was doing.
"Manager, I'm at my limit," Tessai shouted up at them, as the initial bindings snapped off of Ichigo. "I am now switching to suppression measures. Bakudo no.99, Type 2 Bankin! First Song – Shiryu." White cloth erupted from the ground and wrapped around Ichigo, pinning him in place and muffling his screams. "Second Song – Hyakurensan." A hundred metal bolts impaled him, their blades digging deep into his bandaged form
"O-Oi Tessai if you use that he may very well die." Jinta yelled.
"I have no choice he is at the limit of my ability to contain him" Tessai replied. "Final Song – Bankin Taiho," he finished chanting, causing a giant block of sekkiseki stone to appear above them and plummet to the ground. As the stone block hit Ichigo, there was an explosion of reiatsu and a figure was seen flying out of the pit.
Ichigo's Inner World 10 minutes ago.
Wincing as he felt his head throb in pain, Ichigo woke up in a dark and gloomy cemetery. Looking around, he could see countless gravestones dotted across the landscape. The trees and flowerbeds, provided little comfort to him as they were dead and withered, their petals and leaves varying in colour from black to grey and even a sickly brown. Looking up at the night sky, he could see it covered in storm clouds, with lightning arcing across it and making the crimson moon appear all the more sinister.
"Quite beautiful isn't it" said someone behind him, their voice sending a shiver down his spine. Turning to face the newcomer, he found a tall man standing a few feet away from him. As Ichigo took in his appearance, he marvelled at his imposing stature. Starting at his feet, the stranger was clothed in a pair of leather riding boots, their presence in stark contrast to the charcoal black suit he wore, while white gloves covered his hands. Surprisingly, it was not a tie he wore but a red cravat. Over the suit's jacket, he wore a red full length overcoat with a small cape around his shoulders. Reaching his face, his black shoulder length hair seemed to be tamed by a red fedora, while his blood red eyes, were hidden away by a pair of orange tinted sunglasses. When he smiled though, Ichigo cringed and took a step back, as his teeth were more akin to fangs of a rabid beast than a person. "Welcome young one to your inner world. A place, that serves as a representation of your soul."
Ichigo was taken back; this creepy place was a representation of his soul? As he tried to deny the information to himself, a strange peace settled over him, soothing him and assuring him that this was right. Shaking his head to clear his thoughts, he turned to the stranger, asking what should have been the first question. "Sorry, but who are you?"
The figure seemed mildly amused at the question. "I have been trying to tell you my name for quite some time young one, my name is *bzzzzzt*," the stranger answered, taking his hat off and bowing to him.
Ichigo frowned, as he heard nothing but static when the figure said his name. "Sorry can you repeat that?" he asked, seeing the stranger chuckle and replace his hat.
"The definition of insanity is to repeat the same action, but expect a different result," the man said with a smirk. "For now do not stress yourself trying to hear my name. You should rather focus on regaining your powers and saving yourself from turning into a hollow." As he said this the ground seemed to rumble and splinter as an earthquake ripped through the world, swallowing up countless trees, graves and other landmarks. "In order to reclaim your powers, find the gravestone that holds your power, or fail and be damned for all eternity." His declaration finished he disappeared into the darkness.
Ichigo looked around at the countless gravestones before shouting, "AND JUST HOW THE HELL AM I SUPPOSED TO DO THAT!?"
Taking a deep breath, he tried to calm himself enough to begin his task. 'Cracking open each and every one of these markers will take forever and there's no time to spare. So just how in the hell am I supposed to do this in the first place?!' he thought in desperation.
Unbidden, a conversation with Uryu sprang to mind, "Did you know that a soul reapers spirit ribbon is red?"
'Thank god for stuck-up pencil-neck elitist rivals,' he thought with a smirk on his face.
Concentrating to materialise the ribbons, he caught hold of the single red one and ran towards it. Reaching the stone he yanked hard on the ribbon, watching transfixed as the rock crumbled and fell away revealing the hilt of a sword.
"Well done young one, now pull me out and reclaim that which is yours by right!" shouted the stranger.
Pulling as hard as he could, the sword came free and with it Ichigo was thrust back into the World of the Living.
As the figure came to a rest on the ground, it kicked up a cloud of dust, obscuring it from view. Seeing a silhouette stand up, both Jinta and Ururu adopted a fighting stance, while Kisuke watched on waving his fan in front of his face.
"Oi Strawberry if you're alive, say something," Jinta shouted to the unknown figure.
As a breeze blew past, dispelling the cloud of dust, it revealed Ichigo dressed in his shihakusho and wearing a hollow mask. The mask itself was a ghastly spectre of the human skull, with the exception of two horns sprouting from just above its temples and curving back over the skull. Completing its hideous appearance, each tooth was an inch long and arranged in such a way, that the upper and lower teeth formed an inescapable vice should they tear into you.
"A hollow mask and soul reaper garments, what is he?" Jinta asked fearfully, the mask unsettling him.
In a swift motion Ichigo reached behind him to draw the hilt of his damaged zanpakuto and rammed the hilt of it into the mask breaking it and removing the chunks from his face.
"Congratulations on regaining your powers Kurosaki-san, lesson two clear," Kisuke said jovially, falling back with a yelp as the hilt of Ichigo's sword found its mark on his face.
"I warned you Urahara, if I ever got out of that hole I would kill you," Ichigo said with a sadistic smile on his face.
Looking back at him, Kisuke smiled and said "Very well since you're so energetic let's begin with lesson three. There is no time limit this time, all you have to do is knock my hat off with your zanpakuto," he said cheerfully, leaning back just in time to avoid the upward slash from Ichigo's broken blade. Looking up, he could see the faintest cut on his hat.
"Forget that no time limit crap!" Ichigo said as he held his blade level with Kisuke. "This won't even take three minutes."
"You're really confident about this aren't you?" Kisuke asked as he drew his sword from his cane. "Try not to die then."
As he ran across the training grounds, Ichigo gritted his teeth in anger and embarrassment. Looking back at the last few minutes, he cursed his stupidity and the mess it had landed him in now. The first mistake he made, was to assume that the sword from Kisuke's cane was not a zanpakuto and was thus of no danger to him. Yeah tell that to the hairs he had lost from that slice. His ignorance was all the motivation Kisuke needed to release his zanpakuto and start taking this test far more seriously, cutting through the rocks around him and Ichigo's zanpakuto with ease. Now as he continued to run he felt sick with himself.
'This is pathetic,' he thought. 'Is this truly all that I can do? Am I a coward that can't even face someone head on? Am I such a coward that my promise is not worth risking my life for? Am I nothing more than a coward with a bit more power than others?
"Yes, yes you are," said the same voice from his inner world. Time seemed to freeze as he fell into his inner world again, falling at the stranger's feet.
"Tell me young one, why do you run?" the man asked. "Is it from fear of death? Regardless of your answer, it is foolish to fear death. There are far worse things in this world to fear and they do not bring a death sentence. So tell me Ichigo, what is it you fear?"
Ichigo thought for a moment. Recalling the loss of his mother, the way he defended his friends and family from thugs and how he protected them from hollows when he had borrowed Rukia's soul reaper powers.
"I fear living with failure, to know that I could not keep my promise to protect," he replied without hesitation. "It doesn't matter if I live, if those I care for are no longer around to share my life with."
"Then why have you not called for my aid young one?" the man asked with a grin that bared his menacing teeth again. "You seek the power to protect and I seek the one with the will to use me. What is there to fear, when to the one to help us fulfil our desires, stands before us willing and able to help. Now that you know what should truly be feared return and show that man why we are not to be underestimated."
Time seemed to resume and Ichigo came to a screeching halt in the sand, causing Kisuke to a stop as well, while he readied his zanpakuto to impale Ichigo. Without warning the artificial sky seemed to darken, the time of day looking more like the twilight hours than the bright midday sun. Soon the wind picked up with increasing intensity, blowing dust and debris around the training room and still Ichigo just stood his ground with his back to them all.
Crouching down, he whispered, "Break free of your chains, Erumesu no Tori," causing a pillar of black reiatsu to engulf him and roar into the sky, striking the roof of the room and spreading out.
"W-What's going on?" Jinta stuttered as Tessai grabbed him and Ururu. "Why's it growing darker, why's it feel like the temperature just dropped several degrees. What is that guy doing?" he asked as Tessai set them down behind a large pillar. Peering out, they could see a large swirling vortex that seemed to grow wilder and more violent by the second, smashing small boulders into the pillars around them. When the vortex began to calm down, they could see Ichigo still crouched down, his figure obscured by the dust around him.
Standing up straight from where he had dug Benihime into the ground, Kisuke could just barely make out a figure in the dark, as the reiatsu died away and a bit of the light returned.
As Ichigo rose from his crouch, their eyes widened in shock at his new appearance. Physically he seemed no different, but gone was the shihakusho that he had worn before. In its place, he now wore an expensive looking black suit, with silver cuff links and buttons. The jacket was left open, showing the blue button-up shirt and black tie he wore underneath it. On his feet, he wore a pair of black leather shoes with a steel tips and heels. Completing the look, he wore a pair of black gloves and blue sunglasses. When he pocketed the sunglasses to look at them, Jinta and Ururu cringed away from the blood red irises that stared back at them, while Kisuke and Tessai were more interested in finding out what had happened to his zanpakuto.
"Well now this is a surprise Kurosaki-san," Kisuke said with a small smile. "Do you mind telling us what happened to your zanpakuto and why you're dressed like that right now?" As he finished his question, a gunshot rang out and the ground at Kisuke's feet exploded in a cloud of dust.
"I'll tell you that when I figure it out, Urahara-san," Ichigo said as he lowered a silver handgun in his right hand. Looking at the weapon, it was far beyond anything they had seen before, the light reflecting off it almost blinding them. "This is called the Casull, 15 inches long, weighing 24 pounds," he said as he stroked it lovingly with his free hand. "Sadly I can't quite control it yet, so please make sure you dodge."
Raising an eyebrow at Ichigo, Kisuke kept his stoic expression, even as the teenager charged at him at speeds beyond what a soul reaper could move at, barring flash steps. Raising his blade, he swung at Ichigo, crushing the ground in front of him. Surprised that Ichigo had dodged so easily, he turned his head to the left, ducking just in time as a reiatsu bullet flew over him, grazing his hat ever so slightly. Lashing out at Ichigo, his eyes widened in surprise when his blade struck his arm and slid off it in a shower of sparks.
"No time to be surprised Urahara-san," Ichigo said, drawing his fist back and sending a straight jab at Kisuke's face.
Raising his hand to deflect the blow, Kisuke winced slightly as he felt his bones crack under the force. Leaping back, he guessed that it was nothing more than a hairline fracture, a scratch compared to other injuries he'd had. Looking back at Ichigo, he could see a faint black glow within the muzzle of the gun.
"Like I said, please dodge this," Ichigo whispered, pulling the trigger and sending a volley of black, bowling ball sized blasts at Kisuke.
"Sing Benihime," Kisuke yelled out as the blasts barrelled towards him, causing a blood red shield to form in front of him and absorb the blow. Despite stopping it though, the bullet went on to explode, creating a small inferno in front of the shield. As the rest of the bullets hit, the shield began to crack and strain under the assault, the inferno in front of it growing in intensity with each explosion. Soon it completely engulfed the area in a flaming tornado, forcing Tessai to shield himself and the children.
As the flames and smoke died down, they could see Kisuke behind his shield, while the remains of his hat floated down around him and the ground around him was cracked and splintered under the strain of the destructive energies.
"That was close, if I didn't have this Blood Mist Shield you would've easily taken an arm and I do believe you have completely destroyed my hat," he said as the ashes disappeared in a gust of wind. "You really are a scary kid aren't you Kurosaki-san. Lesson three cleared. "
Oblivious to the destruction that he had caused, or the fact that he had passed, Ichigo was lying face down, passed out from exhaustion.
"Tessai-san if you would be so kind as to place Kurosaki-san in a bed upstairs please," Kisuke called out as his three assistants emerged from behind the pillar they had taken cover behind.
"Kisuke, what was that?" Tessai asked as he walked towards the sleeping teenager. "In all my time, I have never seen an ability like that. It seemed as if he fired raw reiatsu at you."
"I don't know old friend, all I know for now is that things certainly will be interesting for this next week." Kisuke answered as he observed the young man still dressed in his new outfit.
Within Ichigo's inner world his zanpakuto spirit smiled with unrestrained glee at how quickly his master had used his power. The sheer destruction around him was heart-warming to him at least. Sensing another presence he whirled around and came face to face with a bleached white version of Ichigo.
"Heh, so the kid is pretty strong, he'll be a nice meal to devour and a wondrous body to inhabit," the figure said with a smirk.
"You are a hollow aren't you?" he asked as he peered at the figure. "What will you do now?"
"For now I'm going to find a nice place to sleep until the King's ready for me to devour him," the figure said as he began to walk away, only to stop as he heard a gunshot, followed by the sensation of his leg being ripped off at the knee.
"And just what makes you think, that I'm just going to let you lie in wait to steal this body out from under the young master?" he asked walking over to the crippled hollow with the grin of a man that revels in pain and torture. "You are going to become a part of me. Your power will be added to our own and there's nothing you can do about it," he chuckled, stopping a few feet away.
The hollow could only look on as the right arm of the spirit transformed into a massive dog with two blood red eyes and teeth as large as fists. He refused to scream, even as the hound leapt forward and began to devour him, its teeth ripping into him with ease. Bone was splintered and flesh was torn, while not a single morsel was wasted. Once its meal completed was finished, the hound dissolved back into the spirits body.
"To continue to call me Erumesu no Tori, will get annoying young master, so for all intents and purposes, please call me…Alucard," he said to nobody in particular but knowing that his master had heard it.
So what do you think, better or not? So as to not spoil it for our new readers, I will not list what I changed, but if you want to know, send me a PM and I'll get back to you when I can.
Erumesu no Tori – The Bird of Hermes.