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Xenegon Bahir'an

Amongst The Graves

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Before he knew it, Zaius now found himself outside of the Squad Seven Barracks. He had managed to slip away from the meeting that was taking place without anyone seeming to notice that he had disappeared; of course, the power of the young Shinigami’s Zanpakuto could have played a small role in aiding his exit from a gathering that was starting to become a cavalcade of bickering and a lack of listening. For that very reason, the bald adolescent felt that it was time to make his departure. Besides, he felt somewhat out of place amongst so many veteran Soul Reapers. Especially since by the grace of the Captain Commander Aiden Hunter, Zaius had just become one himself.

The young Shinigami was unaware of what was going on inside the chambers of the Central Forty Six, for he had made his way outside from the assembly hall quite some time ago and began walking with his thoughts. As he traversed the Seireitei, the bald adolescent could not help but wonder if the Shinigami he met in the meeting were truly the Soul Society’s best hope for defeating the Wandenreich. With the exception of a mere few, Zaius did not believe any of the other Soul Reapers in that meeting to be capable of working together towards a common goal. The young Shinigami would simply have to train on his own, for he needed to become stronger and he was well aware of that fact.

Before too long, the bald adolescent had exited a brief series of Flash Steps just outside of a cemetery adjacent to the Barracks of Squad Seven. Gazing upon all of the unmarked graves within the space, Zaius considered his own death to be a very possible future if he did not continue to get stronger…strong enough to contend with the Wandenreich when the time came. The young Shinigami leaned back against one of the many headstones in the yard, pondering how he would spend his time training. While training solo was something the bald adolescent had become rather accustomed to, he would much rather have someone whom he could test himself against.

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"Welcome to an important place in my life."

A voice spoke as Aiden seemingly appeared out of the shade of a lone and dead tree which sat upon a small hill. Three more unmarked graves rested under it, two large ones and one slightly smaller one. The raven haired Shinigami held a tired smile on his face, and the overall atmosphere about him was one which seemed to show a calm and peaceful man. Looking at Zaius, his grey eyes making contact with the newly made Shinigami's, Aiden would calmly stroll forwards, closing distance at a slow pace. A sunset was beginning to form along the horizon, giving everything a bit of an orange shade to their overall textures and illuminating the sky with colors verging from orange to red to purple. Truly a unique look was being brought with the sunset, though then again all sunsets were beautiful and unique, so really nothing was out of the ordinary with this particular one.

No smell was present other than that of dying grass, an odd smell sure, though one which one like Aiden was accustomed with. Stopping just a few graves away from his newly met comrade, the ex-Captain Commander would gently place his right hand upon the top of a particular one, one which was covered in moss and looked as if it was falling apart at his very touch. Aiden's attention turned to this gravestone, where he would give out a small sigh and continue one, reaching a distance of five feet away from the younger-appearing Shinigami.

"It's funny, that so many of your family members, friends, and comrades died, more than enough that you end up having your very own graveyard. So many graves having been dug, even my own. Heh, it's as if I'm having a family reunion right now. The now destroyed southern district of 80 rests here as well, a fitting place for the last survivor of the vicious massacre which occurred to place them.."

His voice trailed off as he scanned the area, seemingly keeping a lookout for anyone which may be eased ripping upon this conversation he wished to have with Zaius. After looking around, the raven-haired Shinigami picked a random gravestone, sitting upon it as a gentle breeze flowed throughout the cemetery. It was surely a relaxing place for Aiden to go to and relax himself, letting his feelings flow freely and his mind run free. Truly at home he was here, surrounded by his family, friends, and the people he grew up with. He looked at the sunset as one such thought entered his mind. He knew that the chances of the very Soul Society ending up as one huge gravesite isn't as large as he made it out to be, but the very fact that the chance still remains there invites more than enough reason for him to worry, and oh he did so worry, worrying for what the future will bring and if the present will still be so merciful as to hold off the threat for a little longer.

"So, when you arrived here, what thoughts did the very site of death give you? For me, they meant more than just bodies buried in dirt, lost relics of my own personal past. Just being here makes me think about what the future may hold for us, and whether or not at the end if we will either be the ones being buried, or the ones doing the burying. An unmarked grave which makes you nothing more than an indication that one more soul had been lost. Such thoughts, they're a bit funny to think about. Especially since I've been told on many occasions to focus on the present since it will make me improve a lot more, but whenever I did, another friend or comrade would die. It's almost like a curse, really, but enough of my rambling, may I ask why you came here?"

He spoke with a slightly saddened tone of voice as he looked over to the young Shinigami. He was quite curious at why Zaius would choose this place out of all of them to arrive at. Shouldn't he be joining a squad or something of the sort and getting settled in, training later on for the inevitable? Aiden didn't mind, of course. Having company that can actually speak in response to him would be a nice change in things than what he was basically having for the past while or so. But enough of such thoughts, Aiden now wished to hear a friend's response.

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Zaius continued to rest his back against one of the more towering tombstones in the cemetery. The sun was now beginning to set, and a crisp breeze whistled through the trees, blowing a few leaves off of certain branches in the process; it was indeed a gorgeous day where the weather was concerned. The young Shinigami was still in the midst of determining how he should spend his time training, when a voice suddenly spoke from the shade of a lifeless tree which was rooted into a small hill a short distance from where the bald adolescent was standing. "Welcome to an important place in my life," the voice stated. Zaius’ eyes widened and a smile crept across his lips as he realized who was speaking these words.

Either by coincidence or otherwise, Captain Commander Hunter was in the area. The raven haired Shinigami emerged, seemingly from the shadow of the dead tree. As the smell of dying and dead grass wafted up from the earth, Aiden approached the young Shinigami, halting his steps a few graves away from the bald adolescent. Captain Commander Hunter would then gently place his hand upon one particular headstone; the slab of stone was draped in moss and was extremely worn from what was likely quite some time above ground in the elements. Upon focusing his attention on this tombstone, the raven haired Shinigami would release a short sigh, before proceeding towards Zaius once more; when he had reached a distance of five feet away from the young Shinigami, Aiden came to a stop.

"It's funny, that so many of your family members, friends, and comrades died, more than enough that you end up having your very own graveyard. So many graves having been dug, even my own. Heh, it's as if I'm having a family reunion right now. The now destroyed southern district of 80 rests here as well, a fitting place for the last survivor of the vicious massacre which occurred to place them," the Captain Commander expounded. The raven haired Shinigami’s voice started to trail off as he peered about the expanse, apparently on the lookout for eavesdroppers. Once Aiden had seemingly completed his quick scan of the area, he sat upon a random gravestone, while a slight breeze pushed through the graveyard.

As Captain Commander Hunter gazed off into the sunset, the bald adolescent could not help but wonder what he was pondering at that very moment; Zaius would not have to wait for long, as the raven haired Shinigami began to speak, “So, when you arrived here, what thoughts did the very site of death give you? For me, they meant more than just bodies buried in dirt, lost relics of my own personal past. Just being here makes me think about what the future may hold for us, and whether or not at the end if we will either be the ones being buried, or the ones doing the burying. An unmarked grave which makes you nothing more than an indication that one more soul had been lost. Such thoughts, they're a bit funny to think about. Especially since I've been told on many occasions to focus on the present since it will make me improve a lot more, but whenever I did, another friend or comrade would die. It's almost like a curse, really, but enough of my rambling, may I ask why you came here?"

Aiden verbalized his thoughts with a somber tone as he looked to the young Shinigami, which made him uneasy. The Captain Commander clearly considered the possibility that the Wandenreich would be too much for the Soul Society to overcome in this coming war. Then again, that was something that the whole of the Soul Society needed to prepare for. At any rate, the raven haired Shinigami had asked the bald adolescent some questions, and Zaius was more than happy to answer the man whom welcomed him when no one else would. The young Shinigami then stood from his resting position and gazed at his hands, as he was seemingly fixated on the mysterious symbols that had been crudely, yet masterfully carved into his flesh.

“I am so sorry to hear that so many members of your family are below our very feet, Captain Commander Hunter; I believe that having loved and lost family members is just as heart wrenching as having no memory of any sort of family whatsoever…which is the case with myself. Compound that with an entire district also resting in the terra firma here, and there are far too many graves here. However, I cannot explain it…but somehow…death and destruction is something with which I am quite familiar; I do not see how that is possible, yet it is something that is very recognizable within my mind,†the bald adolescent stated, his eyes never leaving the sight of the strange engravings upon his palms.

It was at that point, that Zaius elevated his head, locking eyes with Aiden. As his hands dropped back down to his sides, the young Shinigami proceeded to answer the Captain Commander’s inquires, “As it pertains to your questions, Captain Commander Hunter, upon arriving here, I had the same exact thoughts as you did; I wondered if at the end of this conflict, if I myself would fill a hole in the earth. Moreover, I wondered what would happen to the entire Soul Society should we fail to defeat the Wandenreich. In addition, I also wondered about my own origins…where I came from. My earliest complete memories only started somewhere around four years ago. Before that, all I have are incomplete and vague fragments of memories.â€

The bald adolescent sighed, as he prepared to continue addressing the raven haired Shinigami, “I hope to one day regain my memories…so that I might discover certain things about myself which I consider troubling. In any case, you were wondering why I chose to come to this spot. Well, upon leaving the meeting, I just kept walking and walking. Eventually, I happened to notice the graveyard here; that was when I started to think about possibly ending up under the ground myself, and that in order to prevent such a fate…I need to become stronger…whatever it takes. There was no hidden meaning to my stopping here…I just wanted to find a secluded spot where I could consider how I might become much stronger, in a short amount of time.â€

Zaius then squinted slightly, as his mouth turned up into a mischievous grin. “Captain Commander Hunter…I do not suppose you would be interested in a friendly sparring match?†the young Shinigami catechized. The bald adolescent then looked down at his hands once more, before focusing on Aiden once again. “I know you are more than likely much stronger than I am; you would not be the Captain Commander otherwise. Still, competing against someone who is indeed on a higher level than myself will only serve to increase my skills that much faster,†the bald adolescent stated, before he began stretching and cracking his knuckles. “So, what do you say, Captain Commander?†Zaius inquired with the same mischievous grin.

After having completed his warm up, the young Shinigami sat in anticipation of Aiden’s response. If the bald adolescent was to be of any use in the inevitable conflict against the Wandenreich, he would need to train relentlessly in order to do so. While being just below a Vice Captain’s level at such a young age was commendable, Zaius knew that level of Spiritual Pressure would certainly not be enough to contend with the strongest Quincy on the Wandenreich’s side. With that in mind, the young Shinigami hoped that his new comrade would be up for a fight.

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Aiden chuckled slightly at Zaius's response, where the adolescent exclaimed his apologies for hearing the so many members of his family are below their very feet. He continued on via stating that he believes that having loved and lost family members is just as heart wrenching as having no memory of any sort of family whatsoever like himself. Then, Zaius moved things over to to the thought of an entire district resting in this very graveyard and there would be too many graves here. He explained that even though he can not explain it, death and destruction is something which he was familiar with. He didn't see how that was possible, of course, yet it was still something quite recognizable in his mind. As the young Shinigami finished his statement, Aiden noticed that he was staring at his hands, such hands which had strange symbols covering them as if they were carved into his flesh.

"Don't be sorry for the loss of my family, for both my adopted family and my biological family were very dysfunctional and very distant, making love a rare thing among us when we knew our relation with one another. Heck, I nearly fell in love with my own half-sister due to my not knowing of our relation right before I failed to save her from a hell-spawn taking her, and my own adoptive father was the one that led the woman that massacred my district to us. Our own district was as violent and lawless as can be. Honestly, death is a blessing for those that rest here, as nearly all of them were dysfunctional, psychotic, corrupt, or all of the above. Even then, I've found a few graves emptied, both corpse and belongings missing, and that makes me wonder..."

He responded in a lighter tone than before as a smirk grew upon his face. He knew that a few of the dead weren't really dead, and soon enough they'll crane their heads out of the shadows, though the only thing they'll receive is Aiden's blade, for the dead must remain dead, whether human or Shinigami, especially when it's one of the would buried in this hallowed ground. At this point Zaius would lock eyes with Aiden as his position straightened up. He began to answer Aiden's question in some kind of formal manner. He would speak of how he had the same exact thoughts that he had, and that he wondered if at the end of the conflict if he would find himself in a hole in the earth. He continued to state that he wondered what would happen to the entire Soul Society should they fail to defeat the Wandenreich. In addition, he had also wondered about his own origins, specifically where he came from.

He continued listening as the adolescent stated that his earliest complete memories only started somewhere around four years ago and that, before that all he has are incomplete and vague fragments of memories. Afterwards Zaius would simply give out a sigh as he continued speaking, stating that he hopes to one day regain his memories so that he may discover things about himself which he considers troubling. He then explained his leaving the meeting and his arrival to this particular spot, explaining that he just kept walking and walking, and that eventually he happened to notice the graveyard, which was when he gained his own thoughts about he himself being in the ground. In order to prevent such a fate though, he needed to become stronger.. Whatever it takes. There is no hidden meaning in his stopping here as he just wished to find a secluded spot where he might become stronger in a short amount of time.

Zaius would then squint slightly as he gave off a mischievous grin of sorts, issuing a challenge to Aiden. 'A sparring match does indeed seem nice at the moment..' Aiden thought silently to himself. He ignored the next few things Zaius had said after this, having focused on himself fully, more so specifically on his Zanpakuto. 'Remember.. We're not trying to kill nor injury badly, so please try to hold back if you end up wishing to be released. I don't feel like digging up a grave for someone that has potential like this boy here, let alone a comrade at that.' He told his Zanpakuto, knowing the creature's tendency to get carried away when his abilities are released. After thinking though, Aiden's spiritual energy began to leak out of his body, visible to the naked eye as the stagnant dark grey mass began to spread out all around the graveyard. He made sure to restrain his spiritual pressure though while an inhuman smile came to be, giving him a look of someone that lies a bit in the more.. Insane side of things.

"The way I see it Zaius, is that as long as you don't try to hold onto something as limiting as "honor" or "fairness" then you should be fine. You have to take whatever chance you get in order to kill the enemy, no matter how dirty it may be. The only things excluded from this are using innocent Humans as shields, harming helpless children, and sexual acts being committed in order to force the enemy into a rage or into a trap. Also, from what those old bickering fools from before showed you, age matters little. What truly matters is how hard you try and how much you endured. I didn't get the rank I reached due to my age. Heck, I'm barely three hundred years old! What I got it from, my friend, was from training until I was close to dying nearly every day. Now then.."

Aiden said in a slightly growling tone of voice as he drew his crimson Zanpakuto. The cool metal reflecting the sunset while it rested in his right hand, and the scabbard itself was held in Aiden's left hand, poised as if it's going to be used as a weapon as well. Staring at his opponent with narrowed eyes, Aiden awaited Zaius to make the first move.

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Captain Commander Hunter chuckled in response to Zaius, before addressing his previously made statements, “Don't be sorry for the loss of my family, for both my adopted family and my biological family were very dysfunctional and very distant, making love a rare thing among us when we knew our relation with one another. Heck, I nearly fell in love with my own half-sister due to my not knowing of our relation right before I failed to save her from a hell-spawn taking her, and my own adoptive father was the one that led the woman that massacred my district to us. Our own district was as violent and lawless as can be. Honestly, death is a blessing for those that rest here, as nearly all of them were dysfunctional, psychotic, corrupt, or all of the above. Even then, I've found a few graves emptied, both corpse and belongings missing, and that makes me wonder…â€

A smirk then appeared on the raven haired Shinigami’s face, as he continued to listen to the bald adolescent speak his thoughts. When the young Shinigami had concluded his address to Aiden, the Captain Commander sat in contemplation for a moment. Soon after, Zaius could feel the raven haired Shinigami’s Reiatsu begin slowly emitting from his person and then start to gradually spread out among the graveyard; amongst the uncertainty of fighting a new opponent, the bald adolescent did know one thing…this was certainly a proper setting for a fight. As somewhat of an inhuman smile overcame Aiden’s face, the young Shinigami could not help but notice that the Captain Commander was holding back; due to the gap in the two combatants’ Spiritual Pressure, this was a smart move on his part.

The raven haired Shinigami then began to speak once more, “The way I see it Zaius, is that as long as you don't try to hold onto something as limiting as "honor" or "fairness" then you should be fine. You have to take whatever chance you get in order to kill the enemy, no matter how dirty it may be. The only things excluded from this are using innocent Humans as shields, harming helpless children, and sexual acts being committed in order to force the enemy into a rage or into a trap. Also, from what those old bickering fools from before showed you, age matters little. What truly matters is how hard you try and how much you endured. I didn't get the rank I reached due to my age. Heck, I'm barely three hundred years old! What I got it from, my friend, was from training until I was close to dying nearly every day. Now then…â€

Aiden spoke in somewhat of a growling tone as he drew his Zanpakuto, which was crimson in color. In his other hand was the scabbard which his blade was drawn from; the Captain Commander appeared ready to use it as a weapon as well, if the situation called for it. A mischievous smile, if there was such a thing, stretched across Zaius’ lips as he too drew his Zanpakuto. “There are many things I do not know about myself, Captain Commander Hunter…things which I need to be aware of. I hope that I am able to comprehend those things someday and accept them as a part of who I am. Until that time, fighting is always a nice distraction,†the bald adolescent stated.

In it’s sealed form, the young Shinigami’s Zanpakuto is nothing special, despite being superiorly crafted. Both the tsuba and the hilt were draped in a weaving pattern of black leather rayskin, and a golden guard sat at the bottom of the blade. The blade itself was shined steel, and as sharp as the individual wielding this Zanpakuto. Zaius was never one to take a ‘wait and see’ approach. The best way to determine what the raven haired Shinigami was capable of, was to put some pressure on him; the bald adolescent was about to do just that.

“I am fighting the Captain Commander of the Gotei Thirteen, so I better give it everything that I have,†the young Shinigami thought to himself. With that in mind, Zaius thrust his Zanpakuto into the sky and bellowed, “May the hands of time become my own, Taimubanditto!†Suddenly, the bald adolescent's Zanpakuto became enveloped in what appeared to be a cocoon of teal colored energy. Soon after the swirling mass of Reiatsu surrounded the young Shinigami’s weapon, it shattered into several thousand pieces; these same pieces that had just splintered from a single solid mass swiftly became translucent and congregated into a similar storm, surrounding Zaius himself instead of his Zanpakuto this time.

It was an interesting sight to see, the bald adolescent grinning through a lucent storm of Spiritual Pressure spiraling all about him. As rapidly as it had come about, the see-through cyclone of Reiatsu burst outwards in all directions, slightly pushing back against the advancing mass of Spiritual Pressure leaking from Aiden’s body before dissipating. When the dust had settled and the leaves that had been kicked up in the wind created by the young Shinigami’s release had fallen back to the earth, it could be seen that Zaius’ Zanpakuto, now in its Shikai form, had changed rather dramatically.

The tsuka was become extremely thin, while the kashira that sat at the butt of the handle was what appeared to be a clock gear. In addition, the tsuba had all but vanished, leaving a gear like spacer between the bottom of the blade and the tip of the tsuka. The blade itself had been altered to appear like that of a broadsword, though there were some interesting features that would also be perceived for those that would take only a few moments to observe it. An indented plate had been pressed into the blade somehow; the background of this plate was all engraved gears covered in coiled gold tendrils that looked like copper from a distance.

The final feature of the bald adolescent's Zanpakuto was the small clock that now manifested itself near the bottom of the blade; the face of the clock was jet black, with a graphite colored ring around the outside where the numbers on the clock resided. However, both the numbers and the hands of the clock themselves were glowing with a white aura. The young Shinigami would never reveal such a detail, especially to an opponent, but this was only the second time he had ever had to activate his Shikai; there were three different abilities, yet Zaius had only every used one before. Of course, the bald adolescent knew that learning was all a part of battling, so he would not concern himself with such things.

The young Shinigami’s eyes had never left the Captain Commander throughout his Shikai activation…he was as focused as he had ever remembered being up to this point in his young life. With that in mind, Zaius was prepared to kick off the festivities. The bald adolescent flung his Zanpakuto down and to the right, bringing it to a resting position running parallel with his legs. After he had done this, the young Shinigami elevated his left hand, pointing his palm straight at his opponent. Without warning, the strange symbols on Zaius’ left hand began to glow. Mere nanoseconds after the symbols were illuminated, a crimson orb formed before the bald adolescent’s palm. As expeditiously as it had formed, it propelled towards Aiden with intense speed and power…more celerity and force than the young Shinigami should have been capable of.

As soon as what seemed to be a Shakkaho expelled from his hand, Zaius vanished using Shunpo and rapidly emerged directly next to the Captain Commander’s right leg, his Zanpakuto prepared to slice through the back of the raven haired Shinigami’s right knee, as well as his right Achilles tendon. With each attack came more fighting experience and the bald adolescent was a quick study indeed. The young Shinigami knew that his series of attacks would likely be halted by Aiden. At this point, it was paramount to see what the Captain Commander was capable of, so Zaius decided to ease off of the throttle a bit so early in the fight.

However, the bald adolescent could not help but wonder if his opponent would realize what had just happened. In his mind, any Shinigami would…especially the Captain Commander. At any rate, the young Soul Reaper would anticipate a defensive response from his opponent, since he was the one who acted first. With any luck, Zaius’ attacks would not be incredibly easy to thwart

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