I watched them retreat, they maintained weariness even as they backed through their method of connection through Realms. The gate slammed shut, spinning and disappeared into the ambient Reishi.
I allowed myself to relax once they were finally gone.
That Captain, the one who attacked me, was dangerous. I didn't take the Spear out just to be cute and mimic his actions. I'll admit that it was a benefit, but I was a hair's breadth away from activating Balance Breaker.
The speed at which his sword moved had taken me by surprise. It was enough to make me feel threatened and I nearly got hurt by it. If I was a fraction of a second late, it would have pierced right through my heart, Aura be damned.
It was a lesson not to take Captains lightly. He was leagues above the dangerous feeling I got from Mayuri before. While Mayuri's Bankai was definitely dangerous and had the potential to kill me, it wasn't nearly the neck hair raising feeling that I got when this guy was about to release his Bankai.
I had a feeling that if he released his Bankai, and I released my Balance Breaker, the town wouldn't be standing for much longer.
Now, it looked like I was recognized, which was annoying. I hoped they wouldn't send anyone after me, I'd hate to have to leave town. I mean…I could, but this was the best spot for me to help fulfill my goal at the moment.
I'd cross that bridge when I got to it.
My attention was now occupied by the orange-haired idiot who was currently bleeding out on the ground. I stared at him with a scowl appearing very quickly. He had already lost consciousness at this point. "Me and my bleeding heart." I sighed reluctantly.
This had nothing to do with me and I stuck my nose into it like I always did. But…..he's just a stupid kid, I couldn't let him die like that.
And I supposed he earned my admiration, willing to go that far when he perceived his friend to be threatened.
Can't say I wouldn't do the same thing in his situation if someone close to me was being taken away.
"Alright, you stupid brat, let's see how bad it is." I walked over, and rolled him onto his back. Spiritual Beings were significantly more durable than a normal human, so I wasn't too concerned about him immediately dying.
I inspected the wound and clicked my tongue. I put my hand on it to get a better look, trying to see his spiritual biology through Magical Means and I got a rough picture that took a second to translate.
I wanted to call him lucky, but after trading one blow with that Shinigami, I knew this was entirely intentional. A tenth of a centimeter to the right and the kid would have died.
Did he even have the intention of killing the kid?
With a groan, I ran a hand through my hair. "Looks like I stepped in for nothing, fantastic." Well, I already put one foot in, may as well see this through now.
How should I go about this then? My normal healing methods wouldn't work on a Spiritual Being like this, or at the most they would be so heavily reduced that a small cut would probably take an hour to heal properly…
I wasn't stupid enough to test the method I learned from Unohana as I had absolutely no experience with that yet.
Speaking of….his Reiatsu felt small.
Before, it felt wild and uncontrolled, an endless stream. Now….it was like a candle wafting in the wind, about to be snuffed out at any moment.
I glanced at the oversized sword at his side. There was a hole from where it was stabbed previously, and from the epicenter cracks jutted off in every direction. I was pretty sure it would shatter if I poked it too hard.
Yoruichi did say that his powers manifested this way from Rukia, could his sword breaking mean that the powers were disappearing?
That's probably going to be a big hit for him when he wakes up….
Looks like I had pretty much one option here, and I wasn't even sure it'd work. Their spiritual bodies were supposed to mimic a body of flesh and blood even if it was basically made up of Reishi. They were different enough from Servants – which Avalon worked on fine – that I was not without a small bit of doubt if this would work properly.
Putting my spear away, I touched my chest and called upon the Ever Distant Utopia and pulled it out. The holy light illuminated the dark night and I set it on top of his chest and pushed it inside him.
At the very least, I was confident it wouldn't have an adverse effect. Avalon was many things, but harmful to reciprocants is not one of them.
I frowned though once I felt a tinge of resistance.
I pressed further on, ignoring it. Though once I pushed past a certain point, his Reiatsu suddenly skyrocketed. It was for a very brief moment, barely a blink and then it was gone. And I felt a pair of eyes staring back at me before it dissipated.
Avalon completely sunk down into him and his body began to glow. The wound he suffered lighting up with a Holy Light and mending.
I waited until the light died down before retrieving Artoria's Noble Phantasm and returning it inside of me.
He was still unconscious, so I hefted him up and slung him over my shoulder.
I gently grabbed his sword, not really sure what to do with it, so I slid it back into his sheath.
No idea where he actually lived….so I guess I'm taking him home with me.
"You're finally awake?" I glanced at the Orange Haired kid twitching off to the side.
He jolted up, eyes widened. "What – Where am I !?" He hurriedly looked around the room.
"I would call it my home, but it's just a place I've been staying to conduct my experiments."
He jumped to his feet and still was on guard, I gave him a moment to orientate himself. "You…."
"Me?" I answered back, setting aside the sack of dirt I grabbed from my time in Soul Society. I was curious to see if it would gradually lose its coherent form whilst in the living world.
Interesting enough, it still retained its original properties. Reishi in the form of dirt, and acted exactly as dirt should act.
"Rukia… WHERE'S RUKIA?" He shouted, his current situation probably settling in now.
"Long gone." I hummed. "She went with those Shinigami."
"Why didn't you stop them!?" He shouted again, reaching forward and grabbed at my collar.
I flicked his nose with a little bit of my Aura mixed in knocking him back onto his ass. "Why do you think it's my responsibility to interfere there? You're being awfully ungrateful after I saved your life." I didn't really fault him for how upset he was right now, I just wanted him to realize the situation he was in. And whether I actually saved his life is up for debate.
"I have no idea who that girl is." I elaborated. "Beyond her name, I've interacted with her twice and exchanged only a few words."
"You could have done something!" He scowled, throwing his arm out angrily. "You could have saved her, couldn't you!?"
"Sure." I didn't deny it. "I could have fought that Shinigami you say. And the ensuing fight would have leveled – and I'll be modest and say a quarter of your town."
"She willingly went with them to protect you, you idiot." I flicked his forehead again. "And you threw away all that goodwill and tried to fight two Captains. How did that turn out for you, huh?"
"I could have taken them. I was….just unprepared. I'll do better next time." He grunted, pushing himself to his feet. "I just need to find a way to get to Soul Society and rescue her."
I rubbed my eyes. Stubborn and stupid kids. "Have you seen your sword?"
Realization dawned on him, he quickly pulled it from his sheath. There was a noticeable breathing hitch but he gritted his teeth. "It's good enough."
I let out a sigh, moving my hand in front of his sword, and gave it a hard flick.
It shattered quite easily, hundreds of pieces falling to the ground and dissipating into Reishi before drifting away.
He stared at his broken sword, barely anything left but a jutted edge stemming from the hilt. "I'll just kick their asses then." He finally said.
Fucking stubborn as hell...and it was hard to get annoyed with him. Maybe I saw a bit of myself in him at this point.
"And how do you propose you accomplish that when any one of those Shinigami that popped up could have handled you at your best?" I wasn't trying to be mean, but…..he needed to face reality.
And I suppose it wasn't entirely hopeless. I recalled that burst of Reiatsu he had at the end….I'm fairly sure the kid wasn't normal.
"I'll figure it out." He grumbled.
I rubbed the bridge of my nose. He's definitely a stubborn idiot, but he had good intentions. I was about to continue arguing with him, but I heard a knock on the door.
I went to open it, and it was certainly not who I expected. "I think you're at the wrong place, there aren't any children here you can tempt into your van with candy." I said dryly.
"Schweinorg-kun." That Urahara Kisuke greeted me with a smile.
I didn't sense his Reiatsu.
Even with him standing right infront of me, he was concealing it somehow.
"What can I help you with?"
"I was just taking a midnight stroll –"
"You were watching, weren't you?" I narrowed my eyes.
"Hat-n-clogs?" Ichigo called out from behind me.
"Kurosaki-kun!" The Shopkeeper greeted happily.
"Well, that answers my question." I pushed the door open and let him walk in.
"My, and here I thought you would need some help healing." He started to inspect Ichigo. "But it looks like Schweinorg-kun took care of you." He glanced at me. "And not a single scar left."
"As you can see, he's the picture of health." I crossed my arms. Did he expect me to blurt out how I healed him?
"Unfortunately, your powers are nearly depleted. I'm afraid that there won't be any more jaunting around as a Shinigami once you return to your body." Urahara hummed, ignoring me. "Schweinorg-kun was right, I was watching from the side."
"What the hell, Hat-n-clogs!?" Ichigo shouted again.
"I was about to step in before Schweinorg-kun did." He lightly tapped Ichigo on the head with his cane, forcing him back to the ground. "But I wanted you to understand where you stood."
"What's that supposed to mean?!"
"It means –" The cheerful shop keeper released his Reiatsu. It was heavy. It was similar to what Shunsui did, intentionally forcing it down on something as if he was bearing the weight of his soul and clashing it against everyone else. Ichigo shivered and fell straight to the ground, practically gasping for breath. Briefly, Urahara looked at me a little surprised as he was releasing it into me just as much as Ichigo. I merely raised an eyebrow and met his gaze. He turned back to Ichigo with an amused smile on his face as the pressure let up. "It means, Kurosaki-kun, that there are easier ways to kill yourself. You stand no chance against Soul Society, either of those Captains could have defeated you without much effort on their part. As you clearly just found out."
I had to admit, just from the weight of Reiatsu alone, I could tell this guy was strong. Easily on the same level as those other Captains I'd run into so far.
"What….what am I suppose to do now…?" I suppose it finally set in for the kid. He looked utterly lost.
The Shopkeep took out that fan of his again, tapping it against his hand. "Well, we'll just have to get you your powers back."
"You can do that?" Ichigo's eyes filled with light again.
"I'm wondering that as well." I looked at the Shopkeeper, expecting an answer.
"I have my ways." He hid his face behind his unfolded fan.
"Right, that doesn't sound shady as fuck." I snorted.
"Ara, Schweinorg-kun, I don't mind telling you my secrets if you share yours~"
"And suddenly, I lost interest." I shrugged.
However, I wasn't stupid. Shinigami powers don't appear out of thin air, there's clearly something about Ichigo that made him confident.
"What're we waiting for!?" Ichigo shot forward, but the shopkeeper grabbed him and pushed him back onto the ground.
"Don't panic, we have some time. It's customary to give prisoners sentenced to death a grace period of a month. But I have a condition that you will accept before I help you."
"What?" Ichigo took a deep breath, calming himself down.
"For the next ten days, you will train with me."
"What the hell is ten –"
The Shop owner pulled on his cane, revealing a sword and in one swift motion, swung it at me. It was extremely fast, though I didn't feel much intent behind it.
Ascalon was already floating in front of me, blocking the strike. The force of it whipped up the air, making my hair blow back, but otherwise, I didn't budge.
"Tell me, Kurosaki-kun, could you even see my strike?" He asked, pulling back his sword.
"Did you have to use me for your example?" I let out a sigh.
"Schweinorg-kun can fight Captain Ichimaru, I was sure he could handle a little hit from a candy salesman like me." He giggled from behind his fan again. "I was hoping to see that spear of yours again. But….that is an interesting sword, Schweinorg-kun."
I reached out, grabbing his fan, and broke it in half and tossing it to the side.
He looked at me, pouting before reaching into his sleeve and took out another fan with a big grin.
"….ten days. Will ten days make me stronger?" Ichigo asked.
"In ten days, I'll teach you how to properly fight so you'll have at least the smallest of chances." Urahara nodded.
"Ten days….okay, I can wait ten days."
"If it'll help comfort you, I need Seven days to create the gate to let you go to Soul Society." He slapped his fan shut. "And since Schweinorg-kun healed you so quickly, we can start tomorrow!"
"Alright, I'll do it." Ichigo punched his palm.
"I like the enthusiasm!" The Shopkeeper chuckled. "But I should warn you before we begin." His expression turned dark. "There's the possibility that you may die. You need to steel your resolve, Kurosaki Ichigo, if you want a chance at rescuing Rukia."
"If it weren't for her, I'd have been dead a while ago and my family probably too." The kid balled his fists. "I owe it to her to at least do this."
"Then it's settled!" His cheerfulness returned. "First things first, you need to get back to your body." He literally kicked Ichigo out the door.
The kid flipped him off and grumbled, but he made his way back towards town.
"You're welcome to join too, Schweinorg-kun." The shopkeep looked at me.
"Do you think I'm as naive as him?"
"Ara, what are you trying to say?" His fan unfolded again as he hid his expression.
"I can see the manipulation as clear as day. Playing on his emotions and leading him by the nose." I shook my head. "I don't know what you're doing, and frankly, I don't really care. But if I find out that he dies because of whatever games you're playing –" Ascalon slammed into the wall next to his head. He glanced at it unflinchingly. "You can join him."
I don't like how he's manipulating a fifteen year old like that into a dangerous situation, but at the same time, it's not my decision to make. I don't have many firm lines I draw in the sand, but I don't like kids being pulled into games like this. Granted, he seems to have stepped into this side of the world by his own hand, but still.
Yoruichi vouched for him, so I wouldn't press it.
"That's a scary threat, Schweinorg-kun." He lowered his head.
"Right, the sarcasm really sells it."
"….you think I'm being sarcastic." He said quietly before walking towards the door. "You're free to join if you want." He started to leave, but turned back to me. "I really do have good intentions for Ichigo." He said before leaving for good.
Great, my guilt was eating at me here. I knew I was going to be pulled into this nonsense somehow.
"Meow!" A loud thump hit my door, and it slowly opened up. A black cat had its nails dug into the metal door, hanging there, staring at me as it slowly opened up.
"yo." She greeted.
"Haven't seen you in several days. "
"Yeah, heard you had some fun." She hopped over.
"Right, how's Ichigo doing? Heard you guys are training him. He should have started today, right?"
"Don't know, I'm not involved in that." She did a little cat shrug.
"Really? You're missing out on the chance to mess with Carrot top?" I was…skeptical.
"It was a hard decision to make, but I had something else today." Yoruichi rolled onto the ground and I relented, giving her some scratches. "I'm training up some other kids, friends of his."
I stopped. "Yoruichi, what the fuck?" I felt like this was becoming a habit at this point. "Don't drag more kids into this mess."
"Kinda late there. Thanks to Ichigo, their inherent Spiritual Powers bloomed and they developed their own powers."
"…that makes no sense, explain it properly."
"They had latent potential regardless, but it was kinda dormant. Sometimes Humans can awaken their Spiritual Power in a unique way. Ichigo's rampant Reiatsu acted as a catalyst. During the whole Hollow bait thing, they all fought off some Hollows which really pushed it out."
"That sounds much more plausible." I rubbed my chin. Ichigo's Reiatsu basically just acted as a match that ignited their own fires. "And they're strong enough to…..invade soul society?"
"….yoruichi, don't make me get the spray bottle."
"I'll be tagging along with them." She hurriedly stated.
"I'm slightly more relieved." I kinda felt like they had a slight disregard for the kids around them. Maybe it was just the mentality of being a Shinigami? I can't expect them to have the same outlook that I do.
"If it bothers you so much, you can come too." She said.
….that might make things worse. "I'll consider it."
"Anyways, the reason I came here. You wanna come help me?"
"You're asking me to help you train them? How do you know I even have the ability to do so?"
"Eh, you're strong enough. And you have that same sort of mindset that Tessai has. I'm more of a free hand, it'll be good if they had someone more meticulous."
"Did your friend ask you to come convince me to do so?"
"Yeah." Yoruichi said, her tail wagging as she didn't deny it in the slightest. "I thought it was a good idea, so I wanted to do it anyway."
"…thanks for the honesty."
"I don't mind helping, you've been helping me so much already. I'd feel bad if I didn't repay the favor somehow. Besides, I'm a little curious about these 'unique abilities' you spoke about."
"Awesome! Let's go." She excitedly bolted out the door.
Well, I can use the opportunity to practice with her some more, then maybe see Tessai again and talk some Kidō with him.
At the very least, I could make sure these kids weren't walking to their deaths.
Sorry for no chapter the past few days, for those of you who don't know, I was in Urgent Care this past sunday night. Nothing horrible, but I'm on some powerful pain meds and it's been difficult to do anything while i'm like this.
If you want to read 7 chapters ahead or support me, visit my p.a.t.r.e.o.n.c.o.m / astoryforone