It's been awhile. A long while. But it was time to turn attention once more on Alabaster Orchestra. So much has happened in canon Bleach, and there is so much content to work with now. I can make adjustments as I see fit, and as such I am cleaning up the story to make it "less of a mess".

Overture I

"Begin, be bold, and venture to be wise."


He barely could recollect the previous ten minutes.

The summons had arrived suddenly, giving him very little time to prepare. Despite this, Asguiario Ebern still intended to answer the call as quickly as he possibly could.

After all, Yhwach was a man who was not to be kept waiting.

As he walked down one of the many long hallways of the Wandenreich, he repeatedly gave himself numerous check overs to ensure that his person was entirely in order for his meeting with the Quincy Emperor. Such an event was seen as a privilege.

…Or dreaded depending on the context, to which Ebern hoped it would be the former of the two.

He continued to make his way to the Emperor's throne room, his rapid pace reflecting his heartbeat. Soldats and the various tiers of servants also traversed the corridors, and he avoided them without pause. Upon arriving to the outside his destination, he took a brief moment to collect himself one final time. Standing there was enough to make the Arrancar realize how severe the anxiety was. Before proceeding through the magnificent double doors in front of him, Asguiario inhaled a single breath slowly through his lungs before releasing it in the same calm fashion.

It... wasn't much a help.

Proceeding brought him into a massive chamber, in the middle of which was a large throne fitting the Emperor of the Quincy. From there the near divine ruler placed his powerful stare upon Ebern. To the left of Yhwach stood a much younger blonde Quincy male. Numerous guards lined the sides of the room and were just a silent as he was.

No surprise came from the presence of the Stern Ritter Grandmaster. The man tended to be wherever the Yhwach was.

Slowing as he drew closer to the Wandenreich leader, he lowered himself on one knee upon reaching the appropriate distance. He averted his gaze downward as was customary whenever facing someone in a superior position. Rather it was done because it was expected of him, and because it was the best way to earn himself praise.

"I answer your call, your Majesty."

Yhwach waved a hand in response, speaking, "You have been asked here, Asguiario Ebern, because there is something that needs to be discussed. Rather, I believe there is something important that you can assist me with."

He couldn't help but feel a twinge of relief at the spoken words. "My will is your command, your Majesty."

"Your loyalty is admirable," the dark haired Emperor said, chuckling slightly. "I will remember it. The task at hand is a mission of observation and possibly interaction with a very special target. I'm sure you are aware of the Special War Potentials?"

"Yes, your Majesty. I have been overlooking the Daten in preparation alongside the others."

"Then you are already aware of Kurosaki Ichigo, and thus you can be spared a few unnecessary details when you receive your final briefing before being deployed. My intent is to administer a… test to this boy."

As he listened, it occurred to Ebern that this could possibly be the desired assignment he had been seeking for some time. It was to be a mission that would define him from the rest of the Arrancar Vanguard. Though the vanguard itself was regarded as being slightly higher than the ranks of the Soldats, it was rare for them to receive the respect that would be expected from their place in the hierarchy. The Quincy tended to have an aversion towards his kind, and he had experienced multiple occasions where this was more or less shown.

However, if he was successful in such a coveted task, he may well gain enough favor so that he could join the Stern Ritter elite. Then the respect he sought would come. Until such a time, the Hollow mask fragment that took space on the left side of his forehead would continue to act as a constant reminder of his position and motivate him to move forward within the empire.

I'm not an Arrancar… I'm not.

"A test, your Majesty?"

"The results of such will possibly prove valuable and beneficial. Until then, you are dismissed Asguiario Ebern. Expect further word on the assignment in the coming days."

Ebern arose, giving a formal bow before departing from the room.

The hallway may have remained unchanged in appearance, but immediately came the sense that something was off when he stepped into it. He cautiously avoided showing any sign that would indicate his unease, but came to relax as he realized what was causing him this feeling.

Unseen individuals had placed their gazes upon him. No doubt spying as to why he was here.

It was only natural that the Quincy would be curious as to why he would be meeting with their king, though Ebern continued on without attempting to acknowledge their presence or trying to sense the identity of the observers.

To do nothing was probably the wisest decision, and to linger would only bring him trouble.

Emerging from where they had been observing the Arrancar discreetly, three Wandenreich members moved to the center of the hallway. One of them, a dark haired female, pouted as she watched the retreating form of Ebern.

"Why would his Majesty want to talk to him? I mean, surely if it was really important, he'd talk to a Stern Ritter?" She sighed before looking to the smaller of the two men next to her. "Nakk-chan?"

He shrugged in response before returning his arms to their original position of being crossed over his chest. "Don't know what to tell you Giselle. His Majesty's business is his own. Just make sure it doesn't get around to Bazz-B… And that circle of women you associate with."

"I agree," the other man spoke after letting out a chuckle. "Basterbine can be irrational in her own right, and it'll save some young man from becoming a victim of 'personal' time with her."

Giselle huffed, and looked up at his mustached features. "I suppose so, Mask-chan…" She suddenly smiled. "I guess we should pretend that we never saw this?"

Askin gave a nod. "Exactly, now if you both don't mind, I think I'll rest a bit. I imagine that once we begin to mobilize again that activity will become a luxury." He gave an over dramatized yawn to emphasize his statement.

The other Quincy left with him, leaving the dark haired girl alone as she headed in a separate direction. She made a mental note that despite them all agreeing not to speak of what they had seen, she would still tease a fellow female Wandenreich member that she had a secret. Candy-chan tended to be rather easy to annoy, and from the displeasure of her fellow Stern Ritter she'd have a few laughs.

Giselle's thoughts turned to how she should start the routine as she continued on back to where she had her home in the Wandenreich.