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Shinigami Academy 2
Miwa leaned back in her chair and stared at the boards and pictures in the front of the room. She got detention because she accidentally blew up a few things in the Kido practice. She sighed and looked around. No one else was in here, maybe they were late....

"GET IN THERE, INGRATE!" A boy was roughly shoved into the classroom and the door shut behind him. A familiar face got up from the floor and dusted himself off.
"Hey, Ryuujin!" Miwa whispered. "Sensei left, so we can talk a bit." She patted the seat next to her. "Whatcha in for?"
"Well... It's rather embarrassing.... this is just where I got put for the time being... They say they're gonna take it to the Gotei Court this time... I might even face expulsion..." He said nervously as he slid into the seat.
Miwa shrugged. "They just tell you that to make you fret. I've had that threat like 60 times already. I'm here because I blew up a few things.... and students.... and sensei..." She smiled shyly and pulled out some burnt items. "These where whole this morning...."
He looked over at the items. "My... I can barely recognize those... If you don't mind my asking, do you just not put in any effort, or are you just that bad at Kido?"
Miwa shrugged and leaned back until her chair was balanced on two legs. "Both? I didn't like the spell we were learning, I was distracted, and I kinda suck at Kidou." She laughed. "You shoulda seen it though! I was all messed up!"
He smiled weakly. "I see...." He turned away again. He was obviously distracted by his own transgression. Miwa stopped laughing. "Still quiet little Ryuujin, I see." She let her chair fall back down to all four legs, and stood up. She walked to the front of the room and opened the sensei's desk drawers. he smiled coyly again. "Sorry... It's just that what happened today.... It..."
He broke off, looking at his desk.
Miwa glanced up at him and smiled. "That bad eh?"
He still didn't look up. "I guess.. if you call attacking other students "that bad..." yeah."

Miwa shrugged. "Who did ya attack?"
"Some random jerks... But... I didn't..."

He looked up suddenly, his face even paler than normal. "I didn't want to! I didn't mean to... but there was something else... that made..."

he shuddered.
Miwa shrugged. "They'll get over it. Actually, I think you got one of my boyfriends...." "Is that a bad thing? Sorry?"
Miwa laughed and waved her hand. "Naw. He isn't that important. Just another star in the sky." She sat back down in her seat and hid something in her uniform top. "Just don't attack Rio, and I don't mind. She's a sweetheart, but not battle material. She was meant for the library."

He looked over at her. "Stealing?..." Miwa looked at him. "I have no idea what you're talking about...." She said with false innocence.
He laughed a bit. "It doesn't really matter to me." He looked around the room.
"so... how long do they have us in here for?"

Miwa smiled and leaned towards him. "This..." She put her hand on her chest. "Is an old thing that gives access to the most secret places in the library. Let's just say my... research project.... doesn't quite cut school safety policy."

He smiled weakly. "Is that something a future-captain should be nosing about in?" He turned a bit. "Then again, I shouldn't be talking..."

Miwa laughed. "All bodies of government are corrupt in some way." "Now that's just a bit shrewd way of thinking... But I suppose you're right... So what might that key unlock? Or is it a secret?"

Miwa smiled at him. "If you really want to know, come with us tonight."

he felt a shiver run up his spine. "With... who else?"
Miwa shrugged. "Just Kaiki, Rio and I. Smaller the group the better, because we don't want a bunch of rumors flying every which way."
Kurotsubame's eyes flashed with a light of intrigue. "I see... Sounds interesting enough... tonight, right?"

Miwa smiled. "Tonight then." She leaned back in her chair. "The girls are gunna flip when they see you." She laughed and leaned back towards him. "You know, another reason I messed up practice was for this." She patted her chest. "I'm smarter than people give me credit for."
He laughed. "I see... Well, I apologize for my appearance, but I honestly can't really do anything about it... Albino and all..."

Miwa laughed and shook her head. "Naw it's not that. We all have personal flaw, and Rio and Kaiki never judge by those. It's just that we've never convinced a guy to come with us." She sighed and leaned back. "Chloe would've loved to be here. This was something we girls liked to do when we were living." She smiled. "Odd habits die hard, ya know?"
"I suppose so... Well, whenever we get out of detention... Then we can just avoid risking immediate expulsion." He laughed.
Miwa laughed and shrugged. "They'll keep us until the sun sets, then we'll go to our own rooms. At 10 we all sneak out and meet in the Main library room, then Rio will take us to the other parts." She smiled. "We've done this before, but we've never been able to get into the forbidden sections, so we haven't gotten that far yet. Kurotsubame smiled mysteriously. "Perhaps I might be of assistance... There's a reason I get thrown in detention a lot..."
Miwa smiled. "Well, tonight will be slightly weird, but only for a few minutes. See.... the girls and I like exploring spells, secrets, and any dark, hidden pasts." She glanced at the door behind her, which was slightly open. "Make sure you don't let anyone know about this. We all could be executed id anyone knew. We-" The sensei walked in and frowned at them. "You're excused, Ms. Kisara. Take your friend with you." He said before sitting back down at his desk. Miwa smiled and grabbed Ryuujin's hand and tugged him out the door. "Don't forget!" She left him go before running to the girl's dorms.
~ 10:00 ~
Ryuujin showed up at the appointed meeting point, carrying a standard-issue student satchel on his back, and looking a bit nervous.
A tall blonde haired student ran up to Ryuujin and hugged him from behind. She let go and bounced around until she was in front of him. "Hi! My name is Kaiki Hisagi, Fourth year student and friend of Miwa!" She whispered excitedly. Another girl walked calmly around and smiled shyly. She was shorter than Kaiki and Miwa, but more shapely and mature like. She nodded to Kaiki in greeting and turned back to Ryuujin. "I'm Rio Nagini." She said before sitting down in a chair. "Miwa's late again." Rio sighed before opening one of the three thick books she carried.
Kurotsubame was shaken by the unexpected greeting from behind. "I-I see. I'm Kurotsubame Ryuujin. Didn't Miwa come with you?"

Kaiki sat on the floor at Rio's feet and began to spin coins on the wooden floor. Rio looked up at Ryuujin. "Nice to meet you, and Miwa comes when she's able. She has a few boyfriends, and sometimes one comes to her at night. She usually drugs them and sneaks out to the back, but the ground keepers stay up later nowadays. Give her a few minutes." Ryuujin nodded. "I see..." He looked a bit uncomfortable being around people he didn't know. Rio squinted at the pages for a few more minutes before sighing and slamming the book shut. "I can't read without my glasses." She said before walking over to a window. Kaiki got up and pocketed her coins. She walked over to Ryuujin and smiled. "So.... got a girlfriend?" Kurotsubame blushed a bit and looked the other way. "N-no. That is, no self-respecting girl would want to get near me..." He laughed nervously. Kaiki laughed and threw her arms around his neck. "Ya know, you're just another guy. You have no idea how handsome you are!" Kurotsubame tensed up upon being touched. "U-um... uh... I guess..." In his mind, he was preoccupied with other thoughts, such as, "Are all your friends this crazy, Miwa?"

Rio walked over to them and placed her hand on Kaiki's shoulder. It was a light touch, but it was clear that Rio was displeased. "Kaiki, I think our guest does not like you touching him." She said in a soft voice. Kaiki looked at Ryuujin and smiled. "Sorry, love." she let go of him and skipped off to look at the books in a distant corner. "I apologize." Rio said to Ryuujin. "She's never been able to keep to herself." Kurotsubame relaxed. "It's okay. I'm just not used to people treating me like your friend did... Generally, they give me funny looks from the other side of the corridor." He laughed a little.

Rio smiled more genuinely at him. "You know, Kaiki, Miwa, and I are outcasted as well. You might want to get used to all three of us, because Miwa is one fierce friend. Once she knows you're her friend, she won't let you be lonely. Miwa, as you know, is outcasted because of her personality, but Kaiki and I are not perfect by any standard. Don't feel alone, Mr. Kurotsubame, because you're not. All three of us know how you feel, and we understand more than you think."

Kurotsubame smiled a bit more. "I see... I realized that Miwa was a pariah, as I was, when we both came to the Academy... But I didn't realize she had friends like you guys as well..."
Rio smiled and untied her hair. "Do you want to know more about us, Mr. Kurotsubame? We are not shy with our differences, which is why most people dislike us."
"I suppose so... But then again, there are reasons in our past that makes us the loners we are, I guess..."
Rio smiled and leaned against a wall. "Miwa, Kaiki, and I were born in the same hospital, in the Real World. We died together as well, so we were never really alone. For a few months, yes, but we found each other." She sighed and looked over at Kaiki. "You may not have noticed, since you thought us normal, but Kaiki only has nine fingers. She was born that way. I was born with only one usable eye." She pointed to her left eye. "This eye isn't real." She smiled and shrugged. "And I'm half blind in the other eye. I completely rely on my ability to sense presence’s and my friends to survive."

Kurotsubame looked at them both, and nodded. "Well... you can obviously tell what my physical flaw is... And then there are the things that you can't see in people..."

Rio nodded. "Miwa told us you've had a hard past. All of us have, we just deal with it differently. Kaiki reverts to a very childish persona when she's troubled, I stick to myself, and Miwa finds comfort in men." She shrugged. "We don't judge people by what they've been through, or what mistakes they make. We judge people by what they choose to do with the knowledge they gain by those experiences and mistakes."

Kurotsubame looked up. "That's a very mature and wise view... It's unfortunate that others different than us don't see that way." Rio nodded. "Except Kaiki, we're pretty mature for our ages."
Kurotsubame didn't quite have a reply for this, so he nodded and turned back to watching for Miwa. He decided he preferred talking to Rio over Kaiki- his tastes were more the quieter, intelligent type. Plus, they were easier to interact with when they weren't trying to strangle him.
Miwa snuck into the window behind Rio and creeped over to the girl. She raised her and waved to Ryuujin. Rio rolled her eyes and turned around suddenly. "You're late, Miwa....." She said. Miwa smiled and hugged Rio. "I know!" She smiled. "We doing this?" Kurotsubame nodded, and adjusted his satchel over his back. "I guess so. Do you have any sort of plan, or?..."

Miwa nodded and ran over to a big door. She pushed it open and gestured for them to follow her. Kaiki ran in first, the Miwa followed. Rio lightly grabbed Ryuujin's sleeve, before letting go and blushing slightly. "Sorry.... I'm afraid to walk in the dark..."
Kurotsubame smiled, then offered her his arm. "When lost in the dark, close your eyes. Your heart will be your guide." He blushed a bit too. "It was a philosophy taught to me by the only person I’ve ever considered my mentor. I didn't know what you'd think of it..."

Rio smiled and clung to his arm. "It's a beautiful saying, but for the faint hearted, it's the same as having neither eyes nor sense." She blushed. "I've never been much more than a quiet librarian..... so please don't expect me to be as energetic or brave as Miwa and Kaiki."
He laughed at this. "Well, I can't exactly say I’m a knight in shining armor myself... But growing up in the Rukongai has left me with little to fear... And personally, I prefer quieter, more level-headed people. I'm not a leader, like Miwa is."
Rio smiled. "Then we have alot more in common then I thought, Mr. Kurotsubame." Kaiki bounced back to where they were and tugged on Ryuujin's ear. She brought his head close to here's and whispered, "Quit flirting and just ask her out already!" She giggled before running up to be with Miwa again. Rio glanced around at Ryuujin curiously and raised her eyebrow. "What was that about?" She asked quietly. Kurotsubame flushed, making his face almost a normal color. He wasn't aware that they had been overheard... "Uhh... Kaiki... She wanted me... to ask you out? Or something?" When it came to this kind of interaction, Kurotsubame was more than incompetent. Rio hugged Ryuujin around the waist gently. "Kaiki's an odd girl, and likes putting people in odd situations. I'm not opposing her idea, though, but only if you're comfortable with it." She smiled at him. Kurotsubame just stood a second, trying to get his brain to work out what was happening. He was happy, but at the same time, supremely confused. "uhh... yeah, I like it too..." He smiled a bit. "Just that... I have no experience with girls... hardly any with people at all, for that matter. Are... you okay with that? I might make a mistake or something..."

Rio smiled and shook her head. "I haven't done this either.... so I think we're about even." She took a step forward and lightly tugged on him. "We should get walking.... or Miwa will be-" Miwa hugged Rio and Ryuujin tightly. "YOU TWO ARE JUST SOOOOO CUTE!!!" She squeaked. Rio blushed and hid her face in Ryuujin's chest.
Kurotsubame laughed. "Alright. I get your point. Let's get out of here, or we'll be spending our quality time in confinement. Lead the way, Miwa-san.

He turned to Rio and held out his hand, smiling. "Don't worry, the dark can't hurt you when you use someone as a scapegoat." He laughed again.
Rio grabbed his hand and shyly kissed it. "You're not a scapegoat." She said before reaching out with one hand to grab Miwa's shirt. The girls made a slight chain and made their way through thousands of bookshelves. Miwa grabbed Rio's hand and brought her and Ryuujin up front. Rio knelt down and felt along the floor. She pressed in a small bump, and the bookshelf on the wall slid to the side to reveal a narrow passageway. Miwa smiled at Ryuujin. "Never knew they'd have this here, would ya?"

He smiled. "I'll have to remember that one... Much... "safer" than my normal approach for getting into restricted areas... I have scars to vouch for that..."
Miwa shrugged her shoulder. "She may not look like much, but your girlfriend is pro at micro-mining EVERYTHING. She found this when she tripped and hit her elbow on that bump. We also found out that this passageway was a shortcut to the main room, where we usually meet. After that room, you go down, and you find this other room, where the key is needed." She smiled. "All this was discovered by goody two shoe Rio." Wow. that's an interesting talent." He smiled at Rio. "So, where do we go beyond there?"

Rio blushed and crawled through the passageway. Miwa laughed and gestured for Ryuujin to go next. "It's a bit low, but it'll fit you just fine." He nodded, then ducked into the passageway, feeling a bit apprehensive. Perhaps he should have come better prepared? Now that he felt obliged to protect someone else, not just himself... But instincts before logic at times like these, Ryuujin reminded himself. he hurried after Rio.
Miwa smiled and crawled in after, then Kaiki followed. They came out of the passageway, and entered a large room decorated in rich, dark reds and blues. Rio smiled serenely and knelt down on the floor. Miwa ran up to a door that dominated the better half of the far wall. Kaiki pulled out a zanpakuto and stood battle ready. "Rio frowned at her. "What're you doing?" She asked. Kaiki frowned. "Better be ready in case something comes out!" She said while glaring at Rio. Rio rolled her brown eyes and pulled out a journal and pen. She began writing. "Pen is mightier than the sword, Kaiki." She said. "Yeah, in a dork battle." Kaiki swung her sword around and joined Miwa on the other side of the room. Rio shook her head and tugged on Ryuujin's pant leg. "Join me down here." She said softly. He looked down at her. "Do you have anything to defend yourself with?" He glanced over at the door. "I have my zanpakuto with me... But... I can't wield it very well... At all..." He put his hand in his robes. "Which is why I brought my own tools." Rio shook her head. "Trust me, you won't need it." She flipped her journal around and showed him what she wrote. "This is a spell of protection. When said correctly, it offers protection to three or less people within five feet of the Speaker. It's an old art I've perfected. Kaiki and Miwa are suited for battling the creature lurking here, so just sit. They'll clear the area out, while we sit protected, and we'll move on when the coast is clear." Rio smiled. "Simple operations need simple plans yes?" he sat down tentatively, close to her. "Yeah, alright."
He had drawn out 3 small cylindrical silver tubes, embezzled with a symbol that seemed familiar... but he quickly shoved them back inside his kimono.
"I'm not too good at sword arts... Or Kidou... or hadou... not much at anything." he laughed a bit offly. "Sorry, I'm not much help in a situation like this..."

Rio shrugged and pulled her knees to her chest. She muttered something under her breath, and a silver circle appeared around them, and then went up to create a dome above them. She nodded and closed her journal, before repacking her bag. "I really wish you'd trust us. Just because we're girls doesn't mean we need protection." She smiled. "We are from the Rukongai as well, so we know how to take care of yourselves." Kaiki tapped the dome with her sword. "Yeah, we're big girls now." She smiled and stabbed at Ryuujin. The dome's light fluctuated where her sword pierced, then thrust the sword out. "See? You're pretty safe." Kaiki waved before going through the now open door.

He smiled again. "Sorry, I didn't mean to sound chauvinistic. I was merely worried about you. I know what it's like in the Rukongai."

He sat down cross-legged next to her, content to wait. Rio shrugged and laid down on the floor. She sighed and frowned. "Were you serious? What you said before we found the passageway?" She rolled onto her back and looked up at the dome.
He looked perplexed- he obviously didn't recall what he had said. "About what?"...
Rio laughed. "About us going together."
He scratched the side of his face meekly. "Well... Yeah, I guess. I mean, I like you, and I doubt I could ever get anyone else, so I'm happy about it... are you?"
Rio smiled and sat up. She crawled over to him and kissed him. "Yes." She giggled and looked over his shoulder. He blushed deeply again, and looked back where she was. "Enemies?"
Rio's eyes narrowed. "Stay here." She got up and walked out of the dome. She turned around and placed her hand on the top, and used her own spiritual energy to reinforce the shield. "It won't allow you out, so don't try and follow, Ryuujin. I'll be right back." She smiled ad nodded slightly. "Trust me. I just want to go check it out." She turned around and ran into the dark room behind the door.

A flood of emotions surged through his mind in succession. What if she was hurt? She got lost? Did she not want him with her? Was this a trick after all? He shook his head. No, calm down. I'm just being overly emotional. Rio isn't stupid. She wouldn't be going off into something over her head...

he sat there for another half-minute or so. He didn't want to betray Rio's trust and break out of the barrier, but he was anxious about what might be happening. At once, an idea came to him- he could do both!

He pulled out one of his silver tubes again, and clicked the button on top of it. It released a small amount of vapor, then ejected a mass of strange liquid- more like Mercury than anything else. It started quivering, then formed together into a complex shape- and quickly became a living creature. A small lizard Hollow stood there, seeming rather placid. Kurotsubame looked down at it.

Ytthg r' kththhzhy ngh hhu' xyx zym.

the language is one that was known by few living soul reapers- but apparently, the hollow understood him. It started digging beneath itself, and in no time crawled out on the other side of the barrier. It looked back at its master.

Kurotsubame spoke again. jyvhh' k-thyuu hyhm. Xhi!

It nodded, then cloaked itself; a skill best used by hollows with low reiatsu- and scurried off quickly after Rio, with Kurotsubame being able to scry through it. Rio quickly found Miwa and Kaiki, and the three girls explored around together. They met nothing besides a few large skeletons, but nothing out of the ordinary for them. Miwa opened a few doors, and they decided to find their next destination while they were here. Kaiki walked backwards to keep and eye behind them, and Rio led Miwa to the most logical routes in her mind. They finally found what they were looking for, and ran back to Ryuujin. "Rio smiled and dusted off her school uniform pants. She lifted the barrier, and hugged him. "Told you I'd come back."
Kurotsubame looked a little disheartened. "Yeah..." He stood up slowly and readjusted his pack. "Well then, shall we be going, if we have nothing else to do then?"

He remembered something, and muttered a couple of unintelligible words under his breath, and snapped his fingers, releasing a tiny flash of reiatsu when he did so.
Rio looped her arm through Ryuujin's and led the way to the other room. Kaiki and Miwa unlocked the door, and they all went in. They found another library-like room, and Rio ran off in front and pulled out six or so books. She and Kaiki sat in a corner while Miwa relocked the door. Rio patted the space beside her, and opened the first book before passing the rest to Kaiki and Miwa.

Ryuujin looked around at the library. "Amazing... In all my time exploring the Seireitei, I never did find this cache... I usually just use my "personal" entrance to the Grand Library after hours... So what kind of books are these?"
Rio shrugged. "Books deemed too evil but too useful to burn."
Kaiki nodded. "Rio's an exploratory genius."
At these words, Kurotsubame's entire reiatsu aura seemed to have a small seizure- as if he were experiencing a strong emotion that he had fought to keep from showing. Only his zanpakuto knew what it was for certain- it was the emotion of excitement... and ambition.

"I... I see... How intriguing..." He plopped himself down beside Rio, looking rather ill at ease.
Rio noticed his change, and scooted closer to him. She whispered in his ear, "They're not evil... just... inappropriate for most society members. These books explain and teach, in detail, how to do things beyond normal Shinigami powers. Mind reading, foretelling events, and even stalling death, are just a few." She smiled. "Miwa, Kaiki and I are perfecting those powers within ourselves, to improve our chances at succeeding in life. Kaiki uses these magics to improve her battle skills, Miwa to improve her physical power and health, and I.... to help them know when to stop. I foresaw Miwa meeting you, and I foresaw this night." She leaned back over to her own place. "It's not true evil."

"What? Oh, yes, of course..." He looked at the books, a sea of emotions seeming to swim around just behind is mono-color eyes, all of them difficult to make out. He was having more trouble keeping these emotions from affecting
his aura; it shimmered and flickered, alight with all the thoughts running through his mind. But perhaps the most prevalent feelings he was broadcasting were anxiety, reminiscence, and... guilt?
Rio put her hand on his shoulder. "I know something's bothering you, and if you want, you and I can take a walk in the woods tonight instead. I don't have to be here, and you seem uncomfortable." She stood up and offered him her hand. "Come on, Ryuujin. Let's go and get some air."
He looked up at her. "Yeah... yeah, that sounds good." He stood up with the help of her hand. "Sorry, I guess I'm just a bit distracted..." He turned to his other two friends. "Will they be alright here by themselves?"
Rio nodded and led him back to the main library. She crawled through the window Miwa came in, and smiled at him. "It’s a beautiful night." He looked upwards. "Yeah... I suppose it is. I've always liked the night... When the sky is full of stars. Actually..."
He paused a moment before continuing.

"A sky full of stars is probably the most beautiful thing in the world to me. Sometimes, I'll stand outside for hours, just staring at a sky like this. I loose touch with the real world, and become oblivious to the cold, noise, or action around me. Just imagining each one of those pinpricks of light supports who-knows how many worlds like ours... And in those worlds, someone like me is looking up at the same sky, wondering things like I do. It makes your troubles in this world seem so small and insignificant... Our world constantly changing, while the night sky remains unchanged..."

he stopped at this point, and blushed furiously, realizing how melodramatic and corny he must have sounded. "S-sorry, how stupid, blabbering about things like that, I didn't mean..."

Rio shook her head and smiled. "It's alright. I like when you talk. I agree with you. The night's sky.... it is so... moving. When you take the time to look at it, it gives back so much more. Peace of mind, a place to get away, the most beautiful dreams in the world." She grabbed his hand and gently pulled on it. "Let's get a better view." She led him to a hill in the center of the forest. She climbed to the top of the hill and laid down on the moist grass.
He folded his legs crossed under him and plopped down next to her. "I'm usually in the lab, so it's rare that I get to see the sky like this... It's really beautiful, no?..." Rio stood up. "I always used to stand on top of my house when I was in the Real World. I'd raise my arms, and pretend that I could grab a few of those stars, and bring them down." She smiled and raised her arms. "Sometimes, my dad would come up with me, and he'd tell me that one day, I would get a star." She let her arms fall to her sides and looked down at him. "He loved me very much. Mom hated be because I couldn't see well, and I was shunned from the others." She knelt down to look into his eyes. "She hated me ever since I was born. Even so, I became the top in my class, and found true friends. And now, I've found love. That's a power that they can't teach you."

He smiled. "Yeah... There's a motto that I have lived by since coming from the Rukongai... Judge not a person by their actions of the past so much as their actions of the present, and their promise for the future. I've done things that no one could be proud of... But all for the reason of a better life. And someday, I want to repent for everything evil I’ve done..."

He looked deeply sorrowful for but a moment, as if a lifetime of memories came rushing back to him in an instant.

"It's rather ironic... That the people who want peace the most... Are the ones who must kill the most to achieve it..."
Rio nodded and hugged him. "Sometimes I wish... we didn't have to go through the things we did. But if we didn't.... who would we be? Would we have met?" She sat down on her heels. "Miwa says if we didn't suffer, we would take for granted everything that makes us happy."
He laughed a bit. "This is true... Miwa is definitely wise, when she chooses to show it." He looked up at the stars a bit longer, then sneezed all of a sudden. Rio glanced at him. "Someone's thinking about you." She smiled then frowned. She looked down and wiped at her eyes.
Kurotsubame was a bit alarmed. "Are you alright?..."
Rio shook her head. "I don't think so...." She said to Ryuujin. "I just foresaw...." She looked up at him. "Promise me that you'll always be there to take care of Miwa." Her eyes were still watery, and several tears streamed down her paling cheeks.
He smiled, a little bit confused, but genuinely. "Don't worry about a thing. If you want me too, I'll take care of her. And I'll take care of you."

He leaned across and hugged her gently into his shoulder.

"I won't let anything happen to you. I promise."

Rio shook her head. "What I foresee.... it's solid. No matter what you do to prevent it, it'll pass. I think.... someday... something is going to take us, and Miwa will get hurt." She leaned her weight into Ryuujin. "Just stay with her and help her, if anything does happen."
He sat back. "No... Don't say that. It can't be for certain..."

His face fell into shadow as he looked at the ground.

"No... If something like that... something like that were to happen... something I couldn't prevent... What the hell good am I!?" Rio shook her head. "You're only human. You can't be everyone's hero."
"... I can't be anyone's hero..."

"I can't do anything that will make a difference... In the end, the only thing I can do now is hurt other people for my selfish reasons..."

He was slightly shaking all over now, but not crying.
Rio hugged him around the waist. "It's not too late to change. It's your life, live it how you want to. If being selfish hurts so much, reach out, and touch someone's life."
He smiled... But something told Rio that his emotions inside were still in turmoil.
"Yeah... Alright. You're right. I was being stupid."

He glanced back at the woods. "I wonder how the other two are faring..."
Rio frowned. "They're probably dueling with learned magics." She looked around. "It's midnight." She smiled and sat up straight. "Tomorrow, you'll be hanging around Kaiki, because I have to go to a special class, and Miwa has a few exams." Kurotsubame, if only the littlest bit, looked a tad frightened at the prospect of spending time alone with Kaiki.

"You act as if I have nothing to do as well..." He laughed. "Don't worry, I’ll make the date."

Rio laughed. "Just in case you get lonely. Kaiki's a bit... much... but she's a true friend you can count on. Unless you need to copy on a test." She smiled. He laughed. "I've never felt alone before, but perhaps that will change when we part tonight..."
Rio nodded. "It might."

Sonkurra sat in a tree. He watched the couple. When they had gone into the library, he had been heading to his dorms. He had followed them, and figured out what they were doing. He wondered what he should do. They did have their reasons, but they did deliberately sneak into forbidden parts of the library. He was new to the whole "Shinigami" thing, so he didn't know what to do. But his mind was set. He jumped out of the tree, and headed for his dorm. He would tell the captains in the morning.

Kurotsubame looked up at the sky, and seemed about to say something...

then a heart-wrenchingly- familiar sound rent the night air- the cry of hungry hollows.

It came from the woods behind Rio and Kurotsubame, and seemed to be getting closer. Kurotsubame sat up, instinctively having his hand on the hilt of his sword. "Damn it! Here?" Rio looked around looking more like a scared child than a Shinigami student. She stood up and grabbed hold of Ryuujin's arm. "Let's get inside! Please!" She whispered repeatedly in panic. A cold sweat started down his face.

"Too late... They're already h-"

that was as far as he got. Out of the woods, what looked like a long, pointed tentacle shot out at incredible speed and speared Kurotsubame through the arm, sending him flying backwards, and depositing him, limp, on the ground a few yards away.
Rio screamed as the Hollow revealed itself slowly. She ran over to Ryuujin and shook him roughly. "Ryuujin!" She cried. Kaiki flashstepped next to Rio and looked at Ryuujin. "Get him inside, Rio. We'll handle this." She and Miwa pulled out their zanpakutos and carefully approached the Hollows.

Behind them, Ryuujin had gotten to his feet, his silver hair falling over his face. His voice had changed...

"You two go ahead and take care of any others. This ******** mine."

He looked up- his eyes were as red as the blood pouring down his kimono, and had a sinister glow, etched with cold fury, glowing from the moon's light. His whole demeanor had changed...
Rio swallowed and got back to her feet. She ran to the buildings and kept running until she was lodged in the secret library. Miwa looked back at Ryuujin. "I sense twelve. You take him, Kaiki and I will take the lower classes."
"Fine with me."

He smiled, even with his shoulder giving him excruciating pain. Now that he knew Rio was safe, he could fight uninhibited... He didn't want to imagine what she would think of him if she saw what was about to take place.

"Oy. Hollow. I just lost a lot of blood from this wound... You're going to give me yours in exchange."
Kaiki smiled approvingly and launched an attack on the Hollows following on the left side. Miwa followed suit on the right side, but in a more calm and uninterested fashion. Kaiki slaughtered most with brute strength, and used her battle wits to out do the rest. Miwa mostly flash stepped around them, letting the Hollows kill each other in attempt to wound her. She let Kaiki finish the ones she missed, and stood away from the battle, keeping her senses tuned to any approaching Hollows, to make sure Ryuujin could battle without worry of interference.

The Hollow smiled down sadistically at the Shinigami student. "So, Child, you wish to fight me alone? Not so smart, but I will take it." The creature hissed in a voice that sounded much like a snake. It stuck out its long black tongue, and ran it across the sharp, broken teeth that stretched clear up to the back of its head. It opened its large mouth, and let out a low, rumbling laugh. The thick tentacles that ran down its back and sides wriggled excitedly, as if anticipating an easy meal. "Make your move, Child." Sonkurra turned at the sound of the battle going on. What the hell? He thought. He ran back to see what was going on only to find another shinigami in front of a very High-Class hollow.

His first thought was, "Is that guy gonna be ok?" But as he saw the anger in the shinigami's eyes, he decided that he'd watch from a safe distance, just in case he needed help.

Kurotsubame's expression didn't change- it seems he barely even heard the Hollow talking. He reached up and grasped his shoulder, blood still pouring out from the wound, and chanted a quick incantation under his breath. When his hand came away, the wound was sealed... But strangely. It seemed that he didn't use any healing magic at all... He had just retarded the bleeding somehow. He held out his palm, completely sanguine.

"Didn't you hear me? You. Owe. Me. Your. Blood."

His palm shone with reishi- and a searing, excruciating pain instantly appeared in the Hollow's shoulder. A handprint was appearing there- in the exact same place Kurotsubame had been hit.

"Don't you get it now, Hollow? You're not ******** around with a normal Shinigami."
The Hollow hissed, and then smiled wider. "So, you're the one she was talking about..." He said before shifting his weight to his other limbs. "Why don't you show both me and your little girly what you're made of." He nodded towards the building, pointing out that Rio had grabbed her zanpakuto and returned. She panted slightly, and even from a distance you could see her shaking. The Hollow laughed again and without warning swung his clawed hands out to wound Kaiki and Miwa simultaneously. He then jumped over to the buildings, towering over Rio.
Kurotsubame didn't move an inch- He simply smiled.

"I'll say this once. You aren't allowed to touch her."

At this, he clenched his fist tightly, causing him to grunt in pain- smoke was coming out of his fist- but it was nothing compared to what he Hollow was feeling, as he was having his arm separated from his body, tendon by tendon.
In an instant, he was in front of Rio, his arm still outstretched and smoking.

"Now, Hollow, focus on your real target- or I’ll just cut my fun short and send you to Hell right now." The Hollow twisted around in pain. He reared up onto his back legs, and raised his other arm to grab hold of the injured limb. He tore at himself, until there was nothing left of his arm. He backed into the building, and hissed loudly. "Trickery! You're nothing but a coward that relies on tricks to win! Liar! Cowardly pest!" The Hollow shrieked. He shuffled his back legs forward and jumped back over to the two girls. He wrapped a few tentacles around Miwa, and ran into the forest. Kurotsubame's eyes narrowed.

"Yes... Interesting, how alike we are in that aspect..."

Without turning around, he said to Rio, "Can you stay here and take care of the rest of the hollows with Kaiki? I'll go get Miwa back.... It'll only take a few minutes... And please... Whatever you do... Don't follow me."
Rio watched Ryuujin chase the hollow. She was still shaking madly as she leaned against the wall of the building. Her grip on her zanpakuto tightened, and blood trickled down the blade. Kurotsubame dashed off after the hollow, intent only on it's destruction. As he flew through the trees via imperfect shunpo technique, he started chanting another spell under his breath.
The rather large Hollow crashed through the trees, and seemed to have forgotten about Miwa. The Hollow jumped out of the trees and skidded into a cave. It lowered itself and crawled into the cave, before stopping at a dead end. It turned around and hissed softly. "Damn her, that girl. She tricked me, tricked me into coming here.. No weak soul no souls to eat. Sent me to my death, that crooked woman. No mercy, no mercy for those souls lost, just the pain of being eaten by nasty creatures that lurk around the corner.. She told me I would be free, but no she sent me to my death." The Hollow said to itself. "You, Child, are like her. No mercy, no mercy." A reiatsu blast came out of the woods, hitting the hollow in the chest. The clearing smoke revealed Kurotsubame stepping into the mouth of the cave, his eyes still dancing with bloodlust.

"Don't think you can run. They know how to find each other."

A hollow stepped out from behind Kurotsubame- but it didn't seem intent on attacking him... rather, it seemed to be taking orders from him.

"Now then... I believe I was still in the middle of killing you."

Miwa yelled out from behind the Hollow. "Ryuujin! I don't think this Hollow wanted to become a Hollow... maybe something happened to him..." She coughed then yelled out again. "Lemme got out before you decide to kill him or not." She crawled out from beneath the Hollow, and ran over to Ryuujin. Her injury from the Hollow stopped bleeding, but was still open and still seemed to bother her. "He didn't kill me for some odd reason..." she whispered. She glanced up at the Hollow. "Zanpakuto's trick?" She asked.

The Hollow moved back against the wall and hissed. It didn't move other than that, and even the tentacles paused their usual movement. The Hollow's tongue hung out the side of its mouth, and one of the bigger tentacles was wrapped around its chest. Kurotsubame continued to glare at it, ready to blast it again.

"You realize it could just be a Hollow trick. They try to pull these things all the time. Easier to get their prey."

He glanced at her wound. "Are you seriously injured?" Miwa glanced down. "He didn't intend to kill us, so the wound is pretty shallow." She glanced up. "He keeps talking about some girl that supposedly tricked him into coming here... if that's what his babbling means..." He relaxed his aim just the slightest, and concentrated on what he Hollow had been saying.

"So... A hollow of this power was being commanded by someone... And judging by the fact that he seems to be nothing more than a tool.... It must be something intelligent. I don't know what..." The Hollow hissed at Ryuujin. "Don't be stupid, Child. You know very well what lurks behind my mind. Their breed was almost wiped out in the war, but some found a way to come back... they're trying to multiply, but with the limited power of the Hollows... have been unsuccessful."
Kurotsubame's eyes widened.

"No. That's not possible. I've searched the records myself. Even the confidential ones. They were cleanly, efficiently, and absolutely wiped out, down to their last reishi particle. You can't resurrect something that doesn't exist." The Hollow hissed and moved around, still in much pain from his wounds. "They can be born naturally through evolution, and their own will. Those false ones are all but gone, but there are still ones existing." The Hollow jerked its head and arched its back. "One has come to rank, and has taken over many Hollows. She is manipulative, and very persuasive with her poisonous words. She has told me to destroy you in exchange for my freedom, but lies... all lies" "Yes. You should expect that from your kind of greater intellect."

He lowered his hand, and glanced at Miwa.

"Change of plans. If I spare you, you will leave immediately. When you return to her, tell her that one arrogant, corrupted, powerless Shinigami plans on burying her reign beneath the white sands of Hueco Mundo for eternity." The Hollow closed his eyes. "She will destroy me, and you should know... keep you're loved ones close, because you are not her only target. I know that, and more."
"Either she destroys you or I do. And I still haven't even begun to exact my grievances on you. But before you go, why don't you validate your existence and tell us what else you know."
The Hollow hesitated, evaluating the situation. "She has more than 5 targets, only a few to be killed." He said after another moment. "I do not know the names of those targeted, but I know some are not Pluses, or Shinigami." Kurotsubame winced a bit.
"Humans? Quincy? Gillian? What?"
The Hollow opened his mouth, then paused. He ran his tongue over his teeth, then let out a loud shriek of pain. Smoke poured out of the hole in it's chest, and the Hollow's tentacles stiffened. It bent its legs and collapsed on its side. "I cannot say no more.... she knows." the Hollow half whispered

"Well... That's unfortunate."

He stepped towards the Hollow, drawing his sword.

"Well then, in return for all this information... Perhaps I would be inclined to show some mercy and just purify you... Or I could let you suffer at your master's hands... Which would you prefer?"
The Hollow hissed and clenched a clawed hand. "I have not permanently wronged you, I have not killed.. Nonetheless, it is your choice. I will not beg for your mercy, for I am not sure if I deserve it, being the monstrous abomination I was forced to be."
Kurotsubame remained silent for a moment. Then said-
"All things deserve another chance to start pure... Much as I sometimes detest such philosophy..."

For a moment he did nothing- then turned, a bit embarrassed, to Miwa.

"Um... Miwa? Do... You think you could take care of this one?... I... Uh... My sword's... not...uh... sharp enough..."
Miwa drew her zanpakuto and went up to Ryuujin. She handed him her sword without looking at him, and walked out of the cave without saying a word. She stopped outside the cave, still within sight, but far enough to not hear anything.

The Hollow watched Kurotsubame. "She's a gentle soul, not completely fit for her job. It would be best to watch for her, because I don't think she would have it in her to kill a Hollow, if it should ask for mercy."

Sonkurra jumped from a tree outside and landed next to Miwa. "Hey, think he needs any help?" His expression was blank, seemingly staring into nothing.

Kurotsubame was perplexed as she walked out.

"There are many people who are physically and spiritually unprepared for their oncoming trials. However... These people's souls are also the purest. I don't believe she is unfit for her job... Just under the circumstances... Perhaps something has come up."

He turned back to the Hollow, sword in hand.

"Well, it's not of your concern anyway. Now, try to repent."

He raised Laila's zanpakuto, about to strike, then.... lowered it.

"No... Perhaps I'm being to rash." He stood still for a couple seconds.

Then, he drew his own sword again.

"Sorry, Hollow. Unlike Miwa, I do not have any compassion for pitiful foes like you. Currently, I see how you might be of even greater use to me..."

He pointed his own sword at the hollow.
Miwa jumped as Sonkurra landed beside her. "Um... no, he can handle himself." She smiled weakly and stepped closer. "I'm sorry, but I don't believe we've met..."

The Hollow looked at Kurotsubame's sword. "I do not wish to be held captive.. But if you command it so, I will serve in any way I can. You can modify me as you wish, but only if I can have some freedom." Kurotsubame kept smiling.
"I will be the judge of that. But don't worry... The modifications I do are relatively harmless. They usually only make you stronger. And I can promise you'll be far away from your master. You can just ask any of my other subjects... By the way, I will need to know your name."

Sonkurra looked at the shocked Miwa grinned "I don't believe he have either, my name is Sonkurra Ukaru." He gestured to his Zanpakuto "This is Aka Ookami, he tends not to show himself, but if he likes you me may just come out to say hello." He looked again at Ryuujin "Your right, he has power, I can feel it.."

Miwa smiled. "I am Miwa Kisara, nice to meet you. My Zanpakuto’s names are Hikari and Yami."

The Hollow hissed. "You intend to lock me away, and only let me out to battle when you see fit...." The Hollow shook its head slowly, and a small red tear escaped from one of its eyes. "My name is Souya. Not a Hollow's name, but it is mine."
Kurotsubame's expression never wavered.

"Very well, Souya. I accept your presence as a part... of my family."

At this, he whispered some words under his breath, and glowing runes appeared all the way down the blade of his zanpakuto. He stabbed the hollow straight in the mask- but instead of purifying it... Souya was absorbed into the blade itself.

Kurotsubame stepped back and wiped the sweat off his brow, then turned back towards the entrance of the cave, where he heard Miwa conversing with someone. Miwa heard footsteps behind her and turned to see Kurotsubame. "What happened to him?" She asked quietly, holding her hand out shakily for her sword. Sonkurra's smile faded. "Nice to meet you... but what just happened?"
Kurotsubame nodded towards the stranger as he handed back the sword. There would be time for introductions after.

"He's gone. That's all. Don't worry, I didn't send him to Hell or anything like that. But we need to go now... I'm worried about Kaiki... and Rio."

He turned to the stranger.

"I'm Kurotsubame Ryuujin. And you are?..." Sonkurra stared at the newcomer, the shinigami who just destroyed a hollow with one jab of his blade. "Sonkurra Ukaru..." Then a thought popped into his head. Was that some kind of kidou?
Miwa looked back and forth between the two others. "Rio's fine. Kaiki's awake and for the most part uninjured." Kurotsubame nodded. "Good. Then we should get going ourselves. It's gotten very, very late..." It was noticeable that he had relaxed a bit when she said that Rio was fine.
Miwa dropped her zanpakuto and slowly sat down on the ground, her face had fallen into a blank expression.
Sonkurra looked down at her "Miwa.. are you ok?"
He crouched down beside her, and put his hands on her shoulders.

"Hey... It's over now. Everyone's alive. Let's go home..."

He looked up at Sonkurra. "It might be the after-shock of the whole ordeal..."
Miwa tilted her head up slightly and looked at Kurotsubame. "I've never... seen Hollows like that... I'm sorry it's stupid..." She muttered before trying to stand up. She sighed and put her hands over her face. "I thought I was going to lose her..."
Sonkurra nodded. "I just hope she will be ok, think we should go check on the others... I kinda was um.. spying on you..." Miwa nodded. "We should..."
Kurotsubame sheathed his own sword, the runes long since faded.

"Alright. Let's go..."

he starts walking off towards the Seireitei.
Miwa nodded and stood up with a little difficulty. She followed Ryuujin, and kept glancing around to make sure no new Hollows would sneak up on them.

Kurotsubame walked back to the Seireitei, back to the walls. He searched around for Rio. He knew she was alright, but he couldn't help worrying a bit.
Rio climbed out from a tree and spotted Ryuujin. She ran over to him and hugged him. "You okay?" She asked worriedly.
He grinned. "Yeah. Everything's okay. Miwa's on her way back now... Where's Kaiki?"
"I took her to the sensei... he said she'd be alright, but we're all in big trouble."
He laughed weakly. "After all that's happened tonight... I honestly think "big trouble" was... is... the least of our worries... The least of mine, anyway..."

He smiled at her. "Don't worry. If they expel you, I’ll leave with you as well."
Rio shook her head. "I don't believe I face expulsion. Nor Miwa, Kaiki, or you. But Sensei is extremely angry... and Miwa's father was contacted. He's mad too." Rio grabbed Ryuujin's hand. "All of us are going to be under guard.. even during the day." "Ah my..."
He looked around for a second.
"Well, that will make things a bit harder... We will be able to still see each other?"
Rio smiled and nodded. "Kaiki made sure the sensei said we could." Kurotsubame seemed relieved. "That's good... Well then, perhaps we can see each other sometime later? Next week perhaps?" Rio nodded and smiled. "Yes." She said before Miwa ran up and dragged her off. "Night, Ryuujin!" They called over their shoulders

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