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Origin of Power

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Almost 10 months have passed since his battle with the Adjuchas. This meant that a year has already passed since he met Iris and even more than that since he became a Fullbringer. Though maybe ‘became’ wasn’t the right word as that wasn’t something you can become by trying. It was determined even before his birth. Until that night over a year ago he was completely oblivious to this and any other spiritual matters.

To Arthur this time has passed in the blink of an eye as he was juggling his normal and Fullbringer life as well as public and private. It was something that everyone probably struggled with just like he did though he couldn’t say he got used to it. If he said he was used to getting involved in all of these crazy events he himself would definitely have become crazy. Luckily, he had important people by his side like Iris and Alice as well as the whole of Duality who supported him throughout the hard times. It was safe that he had built up a tolerance to these spiritual matters.

Following the fight, Iris moved in with him just like they discussed, and they were living together before the month was over. She successfully passed her exams with high marks and graduated right on schedule in the middle of July. After this the two of them decided to go on a month-long holiday to England like they first mentioned. There was much more to it than London after all. They went to amusement parks like Thorpe Park and Alton Towers for excitement filled joy from the fast and high rides which got both of their adrenalines pumping.

They visited smaller towns that were mainly situated on the coat like Hastings where they got to see the ruins of Hastings Castle, Blackpool where they went to see attractions like the zoo, Blackpool Tower Dungeon and the Sandcastle Waterpark where they had a refreshing time. The two of them also went to Bognor Regis which at first sight had much less than the other two places but it had a holiday camp known as Butlins which they spent some time in. Having constantly been on the coast the thought came to them,’Why stop there?’ And so, they went to Dublin in Ireland and took in the sights of the city like the Guinness Factory. Once they finished there, their next destination was Scotland where they got to see another castle in Edinburgh but wanting to experience new things they went to the mountains where they went hiking and then visited a skiing resort while they were still in a mountainy mood. Lastly, they visited a few national parks for a change of scenery to something that was serene and breath taking.

Having done so, they returned to London from where they returned to Karakura Town after a brief rest from all the travelling they have done. Since their return, Iris put her medical degree to good use as she became a general practitioner at a local clinic which may seem like a small start, but her true aim was Karakura Hospital where she would be able to save a great many lives. Arthur continued his normal job as an IT technician, but he stopped helping out at Alice’s café which was understandable as he had more responsibilities now but the two of them still visited often so it wasn’t like their relationship with Alice was any worse.

Needless to say, he was also killing Hollows throughout this time. He became much stronger and started getting sent on missions just by himself as proof of that. Even though he may have struggled against that Adjuchas he was now at a level where he was mostly confident of taking them on. Arthur’s most recent mission was to kill a Hollow which turned out to be a perverted parasite whom was hard to locate but thanks to the help of a fellow Fullbringer called Masato Hizorashi made it possible. The duo of Fullbringers combined their strengths and were able to solve the ‘problem’ which also led to them finding about a certain Espada which will certainly become a threat in the near future. Now, Arthur’s story continues.

Word Count: 706

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Having received a message about a Hollow, Arthur headed out into the night to hunt his target. On the rooftops of Karakura he reached for his phone and opened a new app that as recently been installed. As part of intel gathering update of Duality, they have set up Bluetooth cameras throughout various rooftops which allowed them to see the streets. Granted they still didn’t have a wide area covered due to money and time limitations, but it was definitely and upgrade from what they had before as now everyone had access to it.

These cameras were specially made to detect spiritual beings though it was more tailored for Hollows than any other race. Once a Hollow appeared in view of the camera it’s appearance would be scanned and could then be viewed separately from a catalogue, almost like a gadget from a monster catching game. Unfortunately, it still didn’t tell them much about the abilities of the individual Hollows as there was just a too large variety. However, by getting to see the bodies of their enemies the Fullbringers were able to look for any weak points and naturally they also know what the Hollow looked like making it much easier to find.

Arthur looked through the camera feed and indeed found the culprit; another Adjuchas level Hollow in the shape of a wolfy kind of creature which had a black body which seemed to be really short fur with red markings on it but it also had long white fur on its head which also stretched down its back and in other places though in smaller quantities. Furthermore, its front paws were heavily armoured almost until the leg joint and he was certain that he would not be able to pierce through this thick armour. It also seemed to have red protruding appendages coming out of its head and tail where it looked more crystal-like, but Arthur couldn’t deduce its purpose. Despite it being an Adjuchas this one was still 3 times bigger than him so brute force wouldn’t work either.

That was the result of his analysis so next he checked which cameras detected him and where they were located so that he could follow the trail. He shortly found it tormenting a lost soul, so Arthur jumped down from the rooftop and while still in mid-air he summoned his Myriad Manifestations Umbrella. Immediately, he changed it into rifle form and shot a few times at the Adjuchas to get its attention before his landing. It turned out to be a success as the wolf Hollow turned away from the soul and faced its new attacker while growling,’I’ll take care of it, so you get out of here,’ Arthur called out to the soul.

The Adjuchas charged at him so he turned back the rifle into its standard umbrella form and side stepped to the right and slashed at its left hind leg. The attack connected though the wolf sent out a kick with the same leg which Arthur avoided with a roll and then the Adjuchas turned around before slamming its right armoured paw into the ground and wrecking the asphalt where he was just a moment before if he hadn’t used Bringer Light.

Arthur pointed his left index finger at the wolf’s right leg joint and gathered reiryoku in his finger before launching a gold beam out of it which pierced right through its flesh and bone causing the Adjuchas to limp on that leg as it let out a roar of pain. In its anger it suddenly began gathering red energy at its mouth which turned into a ball and fired a beam of reiryoku at him. Arthur quickly opened his umbrella into shield form to block the Cero and walked away unscathed. Before the wolf could make its next move, he turned the shield form into spear form by pushing the runner even further as 4 reiryoku spears appeared by his back.

Arthur used Bringer Light on the soles of his shoes which enhanced his leap and allowed him to cover the distance between the two even faster. He put forward the spear for a stab attack but he wouldn’t make it as simple as that as the 4 reiryoku spears joined the physical spear at the tip and began spinning which made it look as though there was a vortex of golden reiryoku surrounding his spear. The spear hit its mark and the enhancement caused it to completely destroy the bone joint making the leg unusable. With both its legs out of commission, Arthur sought to finish this battle quickly in case it the Hollow had strong regenerative powers.

The Fullbringer sent the 4 reiryoku spears into the sky and made them stab in the Adjuchas’ back while he would slash at its neck but before he was able to, the Hollow began gathering energy at its mouth for another Cero again but this time the red appendages began to glow which made Arthur back away from the unknown danger. Flames rose up the wolf’s throat but when it breathed them out, they combined with the reiryoku for the Cero causing it to become a destructive Cero flame.

Once again, he turned the umbrella back to its shield form, but the attack looked a bit too strong for the shield to handle so he reinforced it with his Ironclad ability allowing him to tank the ability. When he lowered the shield, the asphalt was heavily damaged with reiryoku flames everywhere and luckily no cars were caught up in the attack.

Arthur changed the umbrella into the gun form and fired a charged shot at the Hollow’s head to stun it so that it couldn’t continue its destruction. The Fullbringer used this time to leap above it and slashed at its neck though due to it’s thickness he was not able to cut through it in one attack. He slashed once again as this time the head separated from the body which lifelessly fell to the ground and began to disintegrate.

He let out a sigh of relief now that the fight was over and inspected his Fullbring. It looked just like it did the day he first learned how to use it. Despite some time passing by and his current strength level he was still not able to achieve its complete form. What was he doing wrong? He didn’t know. The others at Duality encouraged him that everybody’s time will come but it just made it feel slow. Compared to the other members who got theirs much earlier before his current level it just felt like there was something missing. Since each Fullbring was different even after asking them what he should do he was no closer than he was before. Unfortunately, the umbrella didn’t talk to him either so he couldn’t directly ask it what it needed.

It definitely was a tough predicament as fighting stronger enemies would require stronger abilities which he did not currently have. For now, it proved to be enough and if he got creative about how he used the abilities it helped to push its limits. However, he knew that with the threat of Tsukishima petty tricks like this wouldn’t be enough. He hoped that it wouldn’t prove to be a liability in the battles to come as he didn’t want to have to be protected by others. In the worst-case scenario, it was also possible that he would be excluded from fighting due to his weakness which he did not want as he knew there were still things that he was able to do. With no clear solution in sight, he had no choice but to keep fighting and hope for the best.

Word Count: 1,288

Learned Fudesaki: 700/700

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Arthur’s next trial awaited him with a call from Layla,’This time you will be fighting a Vasto Lorde. Without a doubt this is the real deal unlike what we thought about the parasite. I’ll message you the details. You’ll be going alone but thanks to the camera system we will be able to watch the fight and if it goes south, I will send reinforcements so just hold out until then, alright?’ That was the gist of it, so he checked the specified camera feeds to form an analysis.

True to the Vasto Lorde title, this Hollow was a normal human size and even looked very equal with his own height with the exception of its disproportionate looking head. Apart from its white mask, the Hollow was black from head to toe and didn’t seem to be armoured anywhere so it didn’t look like attacking would be a problem. It felt very odd as it didn’t feel very Hollow-like from its appearance. On the camera feed the Vasto Lorde didn’t show any acts of brutality or hunting as it seemed to be just walking around on a casual stroll through town. Was it another case like the parasite Hollow? Arthur’s objective would be to find that out but based on his previous experiences he wouldn’t have his hopes up.

In the evening, the Fullbringer started his search but ended up just going to the town centre as that was where this Hollow was spotted passing by several times. After waiting for several minutes, Arthur spotted the Vasto Lorde approaching him at a slow pace. It looked exactly like the video as it was also dressed in a grey robe. It was supressing its reiatsu as he didn’t feel the massive force that should come from a Vasto Lorde and it continued to walk as if ignoring Arthur completely.

The Fullbringer raised his reiatsu to inform the Hollow that he could in fact see him very clearly which caused it to stop,’I am not looking for a fight, but I will show no remorse if attacked.’ Its mask didn’t open as it spoke making him wonder if it really had a mouth. Its voice actually sounded like what you would expect from a wise man or a sage but its very light blue eyes which almost bordered on being white gave him a creepier aura. However, from its body language and how his body actually looked like gave of mixed signals. It felt as if though the Hollow in front of him wasn’t a living being to begin with.

Arthur spoke to him,’Why are you here then? Looking for some food?’ The Vasto Lorde answered without moving an inch as if it was frozen there,’No, I am searching.’ Indeed, that is what it looked like from the camera feed but at the same time he couldn’t know what it did when it wasn’t in the vision of the cameras,’What are you searching for?’ The Hollow replied with the same tone,’I have no reason to answer that. It does not concern you.

He had a point, but Arthur was sent here to find out the Hollow’s purpose,’For all intents and purposes you don’t seem like a bad guy. However, I can’t have you walking around unchecked like this. Are you one of Tsukishima’s lackeys?’ The Vasto Lorde’s eyes narrowed at the mention of the name,’No, I do not ally myself with that overlord and his aims. My presence here is unrelated to his actions though I suppose it may be hard to believe.

This was quite a dilemma then as this Hollow didn’t seem to be involved with the bad guys, but his intentions were completely unknown to him. They were both willing to talk to the other but due to their difference it didn’t seem easy to build trust,’It seems that we are at a stalemate then. I don’t want to let you go and you surely want to continue your search for whatever you are looking for. I’m no ordinary human so will you tell me if I prove my strength to you?

The Hollow thought about it,’The fact that you haven’t attacked me already shows that you have some virtue. I suppose there is no other way taking into account our differences. One would not do the bidding of the other for no reason. If you prove your strength to me, a Vasto Lorde, then I will indeed be more willing to share my objectives. Prove to me that you aren’t simply another human focused on murder.

He summoned his Myriad Manifestations Umbrella which the Hollow was intrigued by,’So, you are what they call a Fullbringer. A human which uses the power of Hollows.’ Arthur confirmed this and then closed the distance between the two while sending out a few attacks which the Hollow blocked with his hand. It didn’t seem to have hard skin as there were no sparks created from the contact but being a Vasto Lorde, Arthur assumed that he was able to use Hierro and he would have to wound the Hollow to find out if it could regenerate.

The Vasto Lorde stabbed forward with his right-hand which Arthur swiftly avoided. The Hollow had a lean build which made him think that he would be an agile type but at the same time he could feel that the hand had great force behind it. It was really hard to figure him out. The Vasto Lorde turned his hand into a fist as cobalt blue reiryoku gathered into it. Arthur backed away using Bringer Light in order to prepare for a Cero but what came out seemed to be a weaker but faster version known as Bala.

The umbrella changed into its rifle form as the Fullbringer shot out towards the attack as the golden beam neutralised the cobalt bullet and continued towards the black Hollow. The beam was redirected with a swift motion of his hand and the Vasto Lorde gazed curiously at his weapon. Arthur shifted the umbrella into spear mode and began his assault on his opponent with a flurry of his physical spear as well as his reiryoku spear.

However, the Vasto Lorde did not cede his ground as his fingers turned into sharp claws which he used to meet the spears head on so it was clear that Arthur had to use a different strategy that wasn’t as straightforward. The Fullbringer stabbed the reiryoku spear into the ground to use it as leverage and lift himself to launch a kick which was actually a decoy as the real attack was the Shibuki that came out of it. The Hollow was caught off guard as the wave cut into his arms that he raised to defend his torso causing a spurt of blood.

Using Bringer Light on the reiryoku spear, Arthur propelled himself high into the air from where he fired the remaining three spears one by one. The Hollow dodged it through the use of Sonido and immediately reached Arthur in the air as the black claw reached for the centre of his chest. The spear clashed with the claw as it was swung horizontally to intercept it though he used the spear to hide his next attack as under it was his left hand with the index finger pointing at the Vasto’s left side. A golden beam fire from the tip of the finger which pierced right through the Hollow’s side and once again catching him by surprise.

Arthur kicked his opponent away to create some distance and changed the spear into rifle form to fire a charged shot at the Vasto which caused it to crash into the ground. The Fullbringer descended safely to the ground and waited for his opponent to raise himself. Was this enough to prove his strength? The Vasto stood back on his feet again and spoke,’I see. I have heard about your kind from my brethren though in truth this is the first time I have faced against one of you. I have underestimated you.

The Vasto Lorde increased his reiatsu to the level which one would expect and pointed his right index finger at Arthur. The black finger instantly extended and pierced into the Fullbringer’s left shoulder as pain assaulted him,’But it’s still not enough.’ The Vasto Lorde reached for his neck and unbuttoned his robe before dropping it to the ground. His torso showed no visible musculature and with his fully body shown it reinforced the idea of a mannequin. His opponent showed his arms as the wounds visibly healed themselves not only there but as well as the hole in his side,’How interesting that the first time I fight a Fullbringer it is someone with those abilities.’

Arthur didn’t really understand that sentence as it seemed to have a hidden meaning behind it, but he found out in the next moments. The Vasto Lorde’s body lost its human shape but was immediately reformed in the blink of an eye into something different, a panther to be precise,’No way,’ the surprised words came out of his mouth. A shapeshifting Fullbring and a shapeshifting Hollow. While their meeting here was but a coincidence could the same be said for their abilities? A Fullbringer received its powers from the remnants of Hollow reiryoku that melded with its body before birth. Was it possible that Arthur’s powers came from this very Hollow? In theory, it was not impossible as Hollow lived a long time provided that they were not killed in combat.

However, he didn’t have any more time to think about it as the panther leaped into the air and quickly closed the distance. The panther curled itself as edges extended from its head all the way down to its tail before the Hollow started spinning causing itself to become something akin to a circular saw. Arthur tried to par the attack but was unsuccessful as sparks emerged from the umbrella and he was pushed back while the panther landed on all four paws.

The Fullbringer could then feel that something was amiss as he felt something below him where in the next instant black spikes exploded from the ground and cut at his legs. He managed to jump away before they could fully stab into his legs and trap him but in the air, he was met with two tendrils which came from the panther’s sides. Upon swinging the umbrella at them, they lost their direction and threat though at the same time the panther changed and became an eagle which soared up to him. Even if he was to use Bringer Light, aerial battle was never Arthur forte but even that was brought to an end pretty quickly as he was sent to the ground with a single kick. The Vasto Lorde didn’t even let him reach the ground as the eagle fired a Cero right at him.

Due to the distance to the ground not being that long to begin with, Arthur did not have time to change the umbrella into shield form so to minimise the damage he swung it horizontally to intercept it as the panels of the umbrella rattled against the impact. The Fullbringer still took the majority of the attack and his back hitting the ground wasn’t a too pleasant experience. In terms of strength there wasn’t actually that big of a difference though the Vasto Lorde had a slight advantage. Both of them were simply getting used to the other’s abilities as dealing with a shapeshifter was never easy.

Arthur raised himself to his feet while the eagle returned to his normal form, if it even was that, as they stared each other down. This was still not enough to beat the Fullbringer as thanks to his massive stamina he was able to take quite a beating as proven in his extended fight with the parasite possessed Masato. He began changing the umbrella into its spear form but before the canopy could fully flip over the Vasto Lorde extended all five of its fingers and hit the umbrella mid transformation.

The attack caused several parts like the joints and the axle to become damaged or completely broken as a few of the canopy panels fell apart. Needless to say, the umbrella wouldn’t be able to change forms in this state. The Vasto Lorde used its spare hand to deliver a vertical attack in much the same manner as the previous attack. With a broken Myriad Manifestations Umbrella there was little he could do to defend himself. To begin with the shock of seeing it broken interrupted his thought process.

Arthur positioned the umbrella in front of him as the claws damaged the shaft and broke the trigger which did little to stop the claws that cut up his torso next. He fell to his knees in defeat as the Hollow looked on,’You are unable to continue fighting. Therefore, I will not be giving you any details and will continue my search. However, as commendation for your effort I will retreat just for today. If you are able to return before me stronger than now, then perhaps I will change my mind. Only if you return before I find what I seek that is.

The Hollow opened a Garganta and walked through it leaving Arthur alone. The Fullbringer was still on his knees as blood ran down his chest and soaked his clothes. His gaze was focused on the broken Fullbring before him.

Word Count: 2,246

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Shortly after the Vasto Lorde left, help arrive in the form of William with his scythe at the ready. Seeing that the terrain was clear he quickly approached Arthur and knelt beside him,’You okay?’ He nodded,’I’ll manage. It wasn’t a serious fight, so my wounds aren’t that bad.’ William sighed,’Let me see. I can at least fix you up a bit before we return,’ he said as he lifted Arthur’s shirt and began healing him. He was able use it just like Liz though he said many times that he was not suitable for these kinds of things, so his technique was much more inferior compared to Liz’s.

Nevertheless, it eased the pain a bit and at least prevented further bleeding as long as he didn’t move around too much. William looked at the state of the umbrella but didn’t seem troubled by it,’Don’t worry, it should be back to normal the next time you use it. As long as your object of affinity is preserved then your Fullbring can’t be destroyed.

He was glad to hear it, so he returned the umbrella back into the wristband and stood up,’Come let’s get you back to base.’ They returned at a moderate pace where everyone was waiting for them. Arthur was surprised to even see Iris there as she approached him and looked him over,’Are you alright?!’ Well, it wasn’t like the location was secret to her since they came here together for New Years Eve to party with everyone, so she knew where it was as well as all the members. Layla must have called for her at the same time that William left,’Yes, I’m fine. No lethal wounds so just got a bit roughed up.

They stayed in the lobby where Liz began his treatment with everybody gathered around him,’At least the camera system is useful.’ Before it was set up it was impossible to have such a quick reaction time so the next best option would be to flee though everyone knew that wasn’t always possible. Arthur told them about his exchange with the Hollow which brought his questions,’Have there been any spiritual anomalies in the town lately?’ He still didn’t know what the Vasto Lorde was searching for but without a doubt it couldn’t have been normal.

Oliver answered,’The last significant one was Halloween though since our intel gathering was limited we did not participate.’ That must have been the event Masato mentioned to him during the case. Layla followed up,’Everything has been fairly normal since then. Especially since the Hollow had been sighted. If we can trust him that he’s not part of Tsukishima’s group, then then he shouldn’t be dangerous, and our feed proves that. However, like you say that if a Vasto Lorde is interested then it can’t be anything good.

His treatment was finished but their meeting had not finished there. Iris then spoke up,’What if we contact that Masato person? They have a much better surveillance system than we do. I would say it’s worth a try.’ Arthur saw all the monitors for himself so that was an undeniable fact and asking wouldn’t harm anyone. He reached for his phone and called his fellow Fullbringer. After a short delay, Arthur received a call back after Masato checked up with Shizuka, but it didn’t seem like they had found anything either.

Therefore, they had no idea what the Hollow could be searching for and they most likely wouldn’t be able to find out by staying here. The best option was to find the Hollow again and get him to talk. However, from his conversation with him brute force wouldn’t work. This meant that Arthur would have to go since they already talked and there was a minimal amount of trust. Now that he knew the Vasto’s abilities he didn’t think that the battle would turn out the same way again but to ensure that he wanted to get stronger. The problem was that he didn’t have a lot of time. Like the Hollow said if he returned after he found it then there would be no point and the Vasto would be long gone. Since the solution couldn’t be obtained right there and then, the whole team split up and returned to their homes.

Word Count: 712

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The next morning, a bit after waking up the first thought that came to Arthur was about his Fullbring. He hasn’t checked up on it since it was damaged last night but figuring that after some rest it should be fine, he chose this moment after a good night’s sleep. However, when he summoned the Myriad Manifestation Umbrella he encountered a problem,’It’s still broken!

It looked exactly the same as it did when it got broken. Not a single part was fixed. This went against the norm that a Fullbring would fix itself as long as the object of affinity was fine. Iris chimed in with those exact thoughts,’Wasn’t it supposed to be fixed?’ Arthur nodded in confirmation,’That’s what I was told. Not only yesterday but since the beginning. I don’t know why it hasn’t fixed itself.

She too frowned as the situation went against the knowledge she had,’Hmm, did the Hollow do anything to your body that might prevent it from fixing?’ Arthur shook his head,’Don’t think so. I mean my wounds healed up fine and I still have the ability to Fullbring things, so I don’t think that’s it. Besides, I would like to think that I would be aware if I had a curse placed on me.’ Iris crossed her arms in thought,’I guess so,’ and continued thinking before raising a finger,’How about this? If it didn’t fix itself automatically can’t you try to fix it manually? You have the power to control the souls of objects so why not mend the soul of the umbrella back to normal?

Although she was not a Fullbringer herself, he appreciated the feedback as in some cases she was more knowledgeable than himself. Furthermore, it was always good to have someone with a clear head about to think about things rationally. This was one of those thoughts,’Hmm, I think you’re on to something.’ He focused his attention on the umbrella and could feel its soul, something that he was used to by now and indeed just like the physical form the soul was damaged as well with chunks missing or parts in tatters.

Luckily, it was not necessary for him to gather the bits that were missing as Fullbringers were able to fix a soul as long as there was a tiny remnant of it and the majority of the umbrella’s soul was still present. Therefore, it should not be a problem to fix it by himself. The umbrella was then enveloped by a green glow which was representative of a Fullbringer manipulating a soul. Reishi particles began gathering at the umbrella in order to aid in its restoration as it was regenerating piece by piece and before long it was back to its complete shape.

Unfortunately, it did not seem like things would be so simple as on the outside the umbrella hasn’t changed one bit even though its soul was complete. He tried turning it off and on again but that didn’t bring about any changes either. Since directly mending the soul of the umbrella didn’t work, his next course of action was to try it on the wristband which was his object of affinity. There were no faults or damages in the soul of the wristband, so he tried enhancing it instead but to no effect,’It’s not working,’ he motioned to his lover.

Seeing that even this method didn’t restore it to normal also began worrying her,’You should call up Duality. I’m sure they can help you better than I can.’ Even though both of them worried, Iris especially tried to keep Arthur from panicking. He called everyone that he could, but the general consensus was the same in that it should have fixed itself. It was not something that they had experience in either and so their advice was the same as what Iris told him but upon hearing that it did not work, they too were stumped.

The Fullbringer was genuinely lost regarding what to do. He couldn’t fix it by exchanging parts as parts like this weren’t really made. Taking parts from a normal umbrella and putting it into the Myriad Manifestations Umbrella would be catastrophic. Although their parts had the same appearance, the build was completely different and needless to say the Fullbring had many unique parts which allowed it to transform. Anything that comes outside of his Fullbring would just be a cheap substitute that would break instantly. It wasn’t like he could just flex tape the broken parts back together as that was not how the transforming umbrella worked. To begin with, the broken parts didn’t come back so he didn’t have them anymore even though all of it should have returned to the wristband.

If members of Duality couldn’t help him then who could? Where else would he find an expert that would be willing to help him? Arthur began thinking about his options until he saw a potential solution,’Actually, there is one.’ Iris looked at him puzzled,’I’m going to see your father. There is no one more knowledgeable than him that I know.’ She seemed to be happy at the solution he has come to,’Do you want me to come with you?’ The Fullbringer shook his head though,’No, I don’t want you to be skipping work. This is only something that I can do.

Iris wouldn’t and didn’t need to argue back. There were things only she could do and things only he could do, and this was one of them. They helped each other as much as they could but that didn’t mean that it was the best method,’Alright, when will you be back?’ They both started getting ready for their respective journeys,’As soon as I can. I don’t have the privilege of time, but I doubt I will come back tonight. Definitely tomorrow before evening though.

The two of them left the house and went their separate ways as Arthur headed to the train station and got on the earliest train possible. Luckily, less than a two hours ride was all that was needed especially without changes. From his arrival, Arthur rushed to the house as fast as he could do to not waste any time. At the door a surprised Vincent welcomed him,’Oh, Arthur. What an unexpected visit. Come in.

Emily didn’t seem to be in at the moment but being alone with him didn’t bother him though it wasn’t like they spent a great deal of time together. The Fullbringer explained his problem to the former Shinigami who listened with all his attention,’I see, you are in quite a bind by the looks of it. I say forget about fixing it.’ He was a bit confused as he came here for answers but instead, he was being told to give up,’Then what do I do?’ Vincent scratched short bearded chin,’Well, it’s true that you can’t fight with it anymore. Why not have a normal life then?

That was definitely an option but not the one that he wanted right now,’There is a dangerous Espada scheming against Karakura. I need my powers to protect Iris and Alice. Besides, even with a broken Zanpakuto you don’t exactly have a normal life.’ The former Shinigami Captain chuckled,’Hah, you got me there. Good enough. Alright, like I said forget about fixing it. Instead we are going to complete your Fullbring. Not only will that fix it, but it will also make you stronger.

Finally, there seemed to be a hope that he could hold on to but at the same time it didn’t sound simple,’How are you going to complete it? It’s long overdue for an upgrade but it didn’t happen yet.’ Vincent expected this question,’Exactly. There is a way though. The power to Fullbring comes from Hollows so by being in the presence of Hollow reiryoku it will become stronger over time. With a high density of reiryoku that time should become sooner rather than later. Now, I could very well chuck you through a Garganta into Hueco Mundo but that’s not very ethical and I would definitely get an earful from Iris and Emily. So, we’ll use my Hollowfication.

Arthur too wouldn’t enjoy a ride to Hueco Mundo so he was on board with this course of action,’Alright, let’s begin then.’ They came out into the garden where Vincent first added more layers to the barrier surrounded the house and the isolated them in a barrier so that they wouldn’t trash the garden. There wasn’t really much space but running around wouldn’t get him results. Arthur summoned the umbrella while his future parent put on his Hollow mask as overwhelming reiryoku surrounded him,’What a great bonding experience this is.

Vincent chuckled in response,’You are a bit too old to cry when you receive a beating though,’ and then the fight began. Arthur was completely on the defense against the Vizard’s assault since the difference in their strength was like day and night, but it was obvious that Vincent was holding back though it was still his job to give the Fullbringer a hard time. This wasn’t a short process either as it lasted all the way until evening. No matter whether it was a Bala, Cero or sword slashes he had to take it all. The umbrella became even more damaged under the pressure, but he had faith that it would be restored. They had many breaks and Arthur joined them for dinner which was made by Emily.

After dinner was when the climax happened as he felt a surge of energy coming from his wristband which began glowing golden and sparking as the Fullbring was losing shape. The wristband began expanding further down his arm and then his whole body exploded with his reiryoku going out of control. Needless to say, it wasn’t a pleasant experience. Now he had to tame it but even with his current reiryoku control abilities he was struggling. Various cuts began opening up around his body as it couldn’t handle the strain and it would only get worse from there if he did not end this soon.

No matter how hard he tried it was just not receding and then a voice came,’Your Fullbring has myriad possibilities. Having so many possible forms is creating it fall apart. You must imagine your strongest form and that is the form that it will take. Quickly,’ Arthur recognised this voice. It was the same that he heard on the night that he was first attacked by a Hollow. Incomplete and complete Fullbring. It couldn’t be a coincidence. He understood now. That voice was none other than his own. His instincts were telling him what to do to achieve his full power.

He closed his eyes and used his imagination. His strongest form. It wasn’t exactly easy. In his childhood he was a wimpy kid who got bullied by everyone while in his adulthood he was the very definition of average. This current moment is the strongest he has ever been. What could surpass it? He couldn’t possibly imagine. Yet, even his average self managed to attract a beautiful woman like Iris. What was it that happened that day? He remembered and smiled. Then, he no longer resisted it as the wristband expanded even further and enveloped his whole body causing a second burst of reiryoku.

Vincent did his duty and absorbed excess reiryoku to prevent harm to the Fullbringer and the reiryoku subsided leaving behind a cloud of smoke. He swung his right hand and got rid of the smoke. In his hand was the Myriad Manifestations Umbrella restored to its full glory. Despite being complete, there were no noticeable changes in its form. However, the change was in his body. Arthur was now wearing all black garments and was equipped with silver vambraces, graves, belt and cuirass while from his pauldrons hanged a dark red detachable cape. The armour pieces were very light and so weren’t very durable, but he reckoned they would be able to take a hit or two. He looked exactly like his game character. He finally achieved the next step.

Word Count: 2,011

Learned Complete Fullbring: 1,500/1,500




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After unlocking his complete Fullbring, Arthur rested for a few hours as quite a lot of fatigue built up from obtaining the next level. However, there was still more to be done. It was true that having his complete Fullbring would make a difference, but he wanted an even bigger edge. Vincent was very experienced and so knew many methods with which one can improve oneself. Without him it was very probably that he would still be walking around and panicking with his broken Fullbring but thankfully now that was behind him.

The other thing that he wanted to upgrade was his Gafu. He didn’t have a need to learn every single technique out there and decided to stick with the most useful ones. Frankly, the novice Gafu had very little diversity in its arsenal which is why he wanted to expand it. Oliver had told him that in order to move to the expert stage a Fullbringer had to seclude himself in an environment that was rife with the specific element, in this case wind. The problem with wind was that it existed everywhere but wasn’t very reliable. It wasn’t possible to control nature after all. Arthur chose the wind element out of convenience but now it was proving to be inconvenient.

To find a large pool of water one would just have to go to the sea while for earth the mountains would be the best spot. Fire was a tricky one as he reckoned a small campfire wouldn’t be enough to do the job but starting a forest fire would be very selfish and dangerous. As for wind, for it to be sufficient he once again came back to the idea of a mountain. The peak of a mountain was a place where winds were the strongest. The problem was with going to a mountain. While he did go hiking during his vacation with Iris that was a time for entertainment and not training so he did not do it then.

He hadn’t gotten another opportunity since then and as he was now short on time, travelling far wasn’t a very viable option. Therefore, he wanted to turn to Vincent for help. They reconvened in the middle of the night and Arthur told him of his next problem. The exiled Shinigami listened without a complaint and responded,’That won’t be a problem. I’ve got something perfect for the job. Come.

The Fullbringer followed him down to the basement where his lab was. He didn’t know he had such a thing, but it was all there before him. It was on the smaller side, but it had plenty of tech to fully function for research and development. They went into the adjacent rooms where Arthur was met with a pair of high-tech chairs,’So how is this going to help?’ They did look pretty comfortable, but he didn’t understand how this would assist in his training. It was no mountain peak after all,’It’s a Virtual Reality technology specifically made for training simulations. With this I’ll be able to replicate any kind of environment you want and of course any progress you made will be reflected with your physical body.

That truly was an incredible piece of technology,’Did you make it yourself?!’ Vincent chuckled,’No, it was made by a friend of mine. It’s an old model but it does the job.’ This meant that it must have been made in Soul Society which made sense as VR wasn’t quite at that stage in the living world,’Alright, so does it have any side effects? Will I get stuck in the simulation if the power goes out? Will I get transported to a game world where if I die then I die for real?’ The Shinigami shook his head,’No, it’s perfectly safe. I’ve used it many times and there are preventative systems in place to make sure nothing bad will happen to you.

Arthur trusted him and not like there was any better option for him out there, so he took a seat and put on the headgear. In just a few minutes, a full body scan was done, and Arthur found himself floating in an empty white room of the combat simulation,’Loading the environment,’ Vincent’s voice said. Before, Arthur a digital environment was created as mountain ranges appeared in his view and he found himself standing on the peak of a mountain. The view was surreal and upon inspecting the surface, everything felt like he was there physically. The stones had variety of shapes and his shoes made a crunching noise with every step.

Then came the fierce winds which felt cold on his skin. It was just like the real thing, but he didn’t come here to play around. Arthur regained his focus and started to feel the environment around him. There was a multitude of wind particles around that he would be hard pressed to find on a normal day in a town. A small ball of green energy formed in his hands and he fired the Gafu off into the distance. It felt perfectly normal and there was nothing unusual about it.

The first step to upgrading his Gafu that he would take is to increase the quantity of particles that he was able to gather. Usually he could only gather small amounts due to the availability but not he would truly be able to find his limit. He started the process as more and more wind encircled him. Now that he possessed such an abundant source, he had to make sure that he did not gather it too fast as that would quickly get out of control.

Upon reaching his limit, Arthur would then release the energy as a blast of wind and repeat this a few times. Even so, he didn’t feel like making much progress despite being in the perfect environment. There wasn’t a best way to do it and only continuous practice would allow the passage to the next level. The Fullbringer then spoke certain that Vincent could hear him,’Give me some sort of challenge. Keep the environment the same but give me some hard task to do.’ His line of thinking was that if he was put on the spot then it was more likely to release his true power.

The Shinigami approved and the landscape changed again. Behind him was now a massive rock wall and in front of him was simple straight ground as far as the eye could see. Then from the ground a pedestal raised itself a good distance away and a trophy materialised on it,’Get to the trophy,’ was the objective of the task. It didn’t really seem hard as it was about 500 metres between him and the pedestal so if he ran at full speed, he could snatch it in but a moment. However, this is where the challenge came from as a furious gale began blowing and Arthur was pinned against the rock wall unable to move an inch.

It felt like he was in the centre of a tornado and the pressure of the wind was just too great. Only 500 metres became whole 500 metres. This really was no easy task. His first immediate problem was his breathing. Due to the strong wind coming directly at him, he was having difficulty breathing and if it kept up for too long he would definitely choke. Arthur focused himself and began breaking down the wind into energy and let it enter his nose to aid his breathing. The theory behind this was similar to how Fullbringers extracted the soul of objects to assist in their use but with Gafu. Now that he was able to breathe normally his lungs stopped hurting and move on to the next problem.

By purely using his strength he was able to slightly move forward, but the gale quickly pushed him back. Since this was meant to be Gafu training using his strength wasn’t the right solution anyway so he began gathering wind reiryoku around his body. To keep it simple, he made a veil of wind around himself which dispersed the oncoming wind. Though the effect was not great, but it allowed him to walk. Step by step he started his journey. Slowly, putting one foot in front of the other was how it had to be done. He didn’t know how long he could keep up his protection though as he had to focus both on his breathing and the veil so he would quickly get tired if he took too long.

Upon reaching the 100 metre mark Arthur knew that he had to do something different to make more progress faster. Therefore, he held his breath and fired off a Shibuki to clear the path directly in front of him. He had to alternate between these two actions though it didn’t seem to be making the process any faster. On the contrary, he was just getting tired quicker. Then he remembered Oliver explaining that on the expert level a Fullbringer was able to augment the element-less techniques with the element of choice. He decided to try it out as he gathered wind reiryoku in his hand and fired off another Shibuki. This time its colour changed from golden to green due to the wind element and its effects seemed to have increased as well as the path it cleared was just a bit more than the standard version.

He continued his challenge like this. After 100 metres came 200 and after 200 came 300. It felt like a really long time has passed though in reality it had only been a few minutes. However, the closer he got to the trophy the stronger the gale seemed to be, and he was weakening by the second or maybe it felt stronger because of that, it was hard to tell. Upon reaching 400 metres he knew that he was at his limit, so he no longer used Shibuki and instead focused on his barrier which effects were also dimming. After 450 metres every step felt like an achievement, but he knew that if he dropped the barrier he would be pushed back, possibly all the way back to the start. A decision was made.

Arthur held his breath and put everything he had into the barrier and kept walking. At 470 metres he could feel the tension in lungs. At 480 metres he could feel the pain in his chest. At 490 he had no choice but to exhale leaving him to do the last 10 metres without any breath. Each step became harder than the last. The corners of his vision were becoming black and the golden trophy looked blurry. He reached out his right hand. Only 5 more metres left. The barrier was fading as was his vision. He felt as his body was made of lead and his consciousness was giving up.

The Fullbringer was now right in front of the trophy. His hand was positioned to grab it and his fingers wrapped around it and lifted it with all his remaining strength. He fell to the ground and the gale stopped in the same instant. Oxygen filled his lungs and his vision was restored. He felt strength flowing throughout his body again. He looked back at the rock wall to see the distance he had come. It wasn’t that far but it felt anything but. The trophy disappeared from his hand and Arthur got to his feet.

First, his Fullbring and now his Gafu. In terms of abilities this was the most progress he has made in a year. It felt amazing. He wouldn’t feel like he was lagging behind anymore, that he was a failure without potential. This proved all of those feelings wrong. He truly was a Fullbringer and he was capable of just as much as any other Fullbringer was. He was certain that this was not the end though and that he could still get stronger, but first he would have to learn how to use his new gained abilities in the most effective way before he met the Vasto Lorde again.

Word Count: 2,020

Learned Expert Gafu: 2,000/2,000

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After his training finished, Arthur rested a few more hours before returning back to Karakura Town. It was evening once again so without a doubt the Vasto Lorde will be appearing soon. Luckily, he didn’t have any luggage with him so he could go and look for him straight away. His first destination was the centre of the town, but he didn’t expect to find his opponent there. After all, he was wondering around the whole town so the fact that he came through the centre last time was pure coincidence.

Arthur checked the feeds but there didn’t seem to be any sightings today and this particular Vasto made it a point to supress his reiatsu so finding him blindly wouldn’t yield much results. The Fullbringer waited a bit longer for there to be less people before increasing his reiatsu. If he couldn’t get to him then Arthur would get him to come right to him. Based on what he said last time it didn’t seem like he would deny him this.

Though before getting the Vasto’s attention it seemed that a weaker Hollow appeared before him. It seemed to be a fresh Adjuchas as its reiatsu was weak, so it probably came to try out its strength. Arthur wouldn’t oblige him,’Not you. I’m waiting here for a date,’ he said before swinging his arm as a Gafu launched at the Hollow and split it in half causing it to disappear.

Before long, the Vasto Lorde came before him and spoke,’So you’ve returned.’ The Fullbringer nodded,’Of course. I want a rematch. Can’t let you go so easily after breaking my weapon. Same conditions?’ The Hollow began taking of his robe showing that they no longer needed time to feel each other out,’Yes. I will stay true to my word. If you prove your strength to me then I will answer your questions.

Arthur smiled from the fact that he met an honest Hollow for once,’Good,’ and summoned his Myriad Manifestations Umbrella and the new outfit that came with it. Once a Fullbring has unlocked its true form there was no option of reverting so this was how it would look like from now on. The Vasto Lorde narrowed his eyes at his form and spoke,’It seems that you have gotten stronger in such a short time,’ to which he replied,’Who knows? Aren’t you supposed to be the judge of that? No point in me saying it if you won’t believe it.

The Fullbringer instantly closed the distance between them and attacked with the Umbrella which was met with claws. However, if it was to continue like this then it would never end so he changed the umbrella into spear form and attacked with two spears. The Vasto blocked both of them with large wings that grew out of his back and kicked him with the leg of a horse. Arthur shielded himself with his left arm causing a clunk as the hoof met his metal vambrace and stabbed forward with his right hand.

The Hollow distanced himself and took a low stance as bull horns grew out of his head which he charged at him with. He sidestepped the charge at the last moment and kicked his opponent square in the chest followed by swinging the reiryoku spear in his left hand though this was blocked. They distanced themselves as the Vasto fired a Cero at him, so he quickly changed the spear into rifle form and fired a single shot to counter the attack. Unfortunately, as he was focused on dealing with the Cero Arthur did not see the Bala coming under it which hit him in the stomach.

All in all, his performance was much better than last time in terms of dealing with attacks. He was far from losing and he would not be surprised again. The Hollow closed the distance again as his arms swelled into that of a gorilla, so Arthur changed to the shield form to block the smash attack and then stabbed forward with the umbrella form. Much like him the Vasto Lorde was an all rounder like him, but the difference was that depending on the form the Hollow took his power was reallocated. Needless to say, the gorilla arms increased his strength while for agility he would rely on the panther form or the eagle. However, he couldn’t say for sure if animals were all that he could turn into and even then, there were too many to consider which was what type. Now he understood what the opponents he fought against him felt like. It was easily headache inducing.

The Hollow dodged his stabs and from his back emerged many appendages which surrounded them by forming a net. It looked like this time he wanted to lure Arthur into close combat. There wasn’t much space in the net and if he used the spear form then he would be in a disadvantage due to its length. The umbrella form itself was a bit long too so the Vasto Lorde who only needed the reach of his arms had the upper hand here, or at least that’s what he thought. Arthur split the umbrella in half by unsheathing the sword from it which was the newest form unlocked through his complete Fullbring.

His opponent was surprised to see this but only for an instant. With the long life that he had lived it was needless to say that he had accumulated a vast amount of battle experience. Solely doing this wouldn’t give the Fullbringer the upper hand but it would even out his odds. The blade clashed against the now claws as both of them took small wounds here and there though it wouldn’t stop either of them.

In the next moment, the Vasto Lorde stabbed forward with his hand directly at his chest so Arthur ducked under his arm while simultaneously putting his own under it and then behind the Hollow’s neck. He dropped both parts of the umbrella and locked his arms behind the Vasto’s back which put him in a lock unable to use his right arm. To finish off, the Fullbringer brought down his enemy with him and slammed him into the ground causing the next to collapse and begin returning into nothing. Since he had the positional advantage being on top of the Hollow, he wanted to give him a few solid punched but before he could do that Arthur had to retreat and the Vasto’s front exploded into spikes.

He retrieved both parts of the umbrella and sheathed the sword while his opponent got to his feet. Arthur didn’t want to make this drag out any longer than it had to, so he began preparing to finish this test. Even though the Hollow had seen the new sword form he had no clue what it was capable of yet, so this was his ticket to victory. He swung his left hand to release the Gafu at the Vasto which decided to counter it with a Cero, which was exactly what Arthur wanted.

At the instant when the two reiryoku attacks met and exploded, the Fullbringer used his ghosting ability to get behind the Vasto and prepared another Gafu in his left hand. This time it turned into a long black rod which he threw at the unaware Hollow and pinned his foot to the ground. This was a new Gafu that he had learned after achieving the expert level. He couldn’t leave without learning something new as just learning the expert level was not much use to him if he didn’t know any techniques. Therefore, he continued his training a bit longer to get a hang of his new techniques and this was the result of it. In addition to getting familiar with the umbrella’s new form, he also managed to learn two new Gafu techniques and this was one of them.

The Hollow was unable to move so Arthur quickly moved in front of him and drew the sword from the umbrella once again. The blade glowed as a pale green boundary appeared right where the Hollow was standing and was then overlapped with a red boundary. Arthur being in the red boundary caused him to have a red glow as his strength was boosted which he used to attack simultaneously with the sword and the other half of the umbrella. As soon as his attacks made contact, little spirits began emerging from the pale green boundary and immediately surrounded the Vasto Lorde before exploding one by one.

Arthur stepped back a few steps and sheathed the sword,’Well, how about it? Did you see enough?’ The Hollow emerged from the smoke cloud with a wounded body and nodded,’You have done well. I am impressed with your progress in such a short time. Very well, I will answer your questions.’ The Fullbringer smiled as he too was proud of his progress and that he had such an understanding opponent to fully test it on but he didn’t forget his purpose and would finally learn the mystery behind this weird Hollow.

Word Count: 1,515

Learned Bunchin: 1,500/1,500

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Now that Arthur was finally able to get some answers, he asked the first thing that was on his mind,’Your and my powers, are we related?’ The Vasto Lorde shook his head in response,’I do not know, though I haven’t seen any other Hollow with similar powers similar to mine so it may be possible. I have visited many places though I don’t know their names or when it was. Perhaps by some coincidence we came into contact.

Arthur sighed,’Fullbringers are made through contact of parents with the Hollow actually so it wouldn’t have been me.’ Another solution might have been to ask his parents, but he was strongly against that idea. Besides, even though he had high reiatsu it didn’t mean that his parents did. He didn’t really think it was something that was passed down. It didn’t really answer much but in the end did it really matter? Even if he was the source of his powers it wasn’t like they were going to be friends. Both of them lived in different worlds and that wouldn’t change. After today they probably wouldn’t ever see each other again and that was how it should be.

He decided to close the topic there and move on to the main case,’Alright then, what are you searching for so adamantly?’ This time the Hollow did have an answer for him,’In recent times Hollows have gone missing, not only from my group but many of those who had come here to feed.’ Thinking about it that didn’t seem like any ground-breaking discovery,Well, this is a town that is rich in reishi. Don’t you think that they were killed by other Fullbringers or even Shinigami? It’s a normal occurrence.

The Vasto nodded,’Of course we took that into consideration. However, I came here to investigate to make sure if that was really the case. I have sensed disturbing anomalies in Hollow reiatsu. It does not feel like it normally should. Among those anomalies I have felt the reiatsu of my kin, though it was very thin and couldn’t be traced. This led me to the conclusion that they were in fact still alive. Perhaps, instead of being killed they were captured.

If that was true then it would be a very big deal,’Kidnapping a Hollow? Why would anyone do that?’ It definitely wasn’t the style of the Shinigami to do something like that so was it had to be a human, but no normal human could see or even subdue a Hollow so it must have been someone strong. However, from the sound of it there seemed to be quite a few missing. The Vasto’s face was still emotionless which Arthur couldn’t quite get used to,’I have my suspicions but none of them are good.

He nodded along,’So, did you find anything?’ The Hollow focused on him,’Yes, I found a door that seems to lead to the underground.’ Arthur let out a sigh,’At this point, if someone told me there was another town underground I wouldn’t be surprised. What was in there?’ The Vasto turned away and looked in a particular direction,’I didn’t go inside yet and chose to meet with you instead.’ The Fullbringer was a bit surprised at this since he supposedly was put on a time limit,’What now then?’ The Hollow faced him again,’This probably concerns you humans too so I think it would be best if you came along.

A surprising proposal but he thought it over carefully. The Hollow before him was innocent and instead somebody has been kidnapping Hollows and keeping them underground where there were likely measures in place that prevent anyone from sensing it. Though, depending on how far underground it was perhaps that wasn’t even necessary in the first place. Could this be a part of Tsukishima’s plot? It didn’t seem likely but at this point he couldn’t rule it out. Either way, there would never be a good reason for kidnapping Hollows and he had to find out why,’Yea, I’ll come. Let’s go.

The area they went to didn’t seem suspicious at all, it was just a normal housing district in all regards. He stuck to his word though and kept following the Hollow until they reached someone’s garden and entered an underground bunker until it let them to a password protected door. It truly wasn’t something that anybody would have expected so he was not surprised that the Vasto had so much trouble finding a place like this,’I don’t suppose you know the password?’ Arthur’s accomplice shook his head and simply punched through the door and opened their path.

The door was reinforced but frankly there wasn’t a material that was capable of holding back beings surpassing human capabilities in any of the realms. Past the door was a staircase leading further down which they descended which led them to a long corridor which looked very mechanical compared to what was on the outside. They kept walking until they reached a fork in the path, so he suggested,’Let’s split up?’ Since they were in enemy territory perhaps that was not the best suggestion at first glance, but he was confident in their strengths. The Vasto nodded and went left while the Fullbringer went right.

Just like the Hollow told him outside, he did feel a weird amalgamation of reiatsu but it also felt very thin. However, he wasn’t certain that anyone was in as their path so far lit up automatically with every step which meant it was on a motion sensor. At the very least, no one passed through this way for some time, but it did not mean that there wasn’t anyone there further in. The more he walked the more it turned out to be a full-blown facility but the vibe it was giving off was completely opposite to the Duality HQ.

Any doors that he encountered were now protected by a fingerprint scanner but upon breaking in through the door he didn’t find anything of note. They were simply plain rooms. He chose to break through the doors as their entry wasn’t discrete to begin with, so it wasn’t like they were pursuing stealth. Arthur kept going until he came into a wide-open area that had rows of pods on both the left and right sides. He checked his phone to see that there was no signal but that wasn’t exactly needed right now so he began by taking photos of his discovery.

He approached a pod at random and tapped on the touch screen which caused it to display many statistics which he didn’t really understand. He took a picture of those too and looked in through the circular window and instantly pulled his head back,’No way.’ There really was a Hollow in there, but it looked very off and by that he meant heavily disfigured and even its mask seemed to be merged with its head rather than being on it. The Fullbringer moved on to the next pod and saw the same thing. The theory that someone has been kidnapping Hollows was now without a doubt confirmed and probably whatever was done to them caused the reiatsu to feel off.

In one of the pods that he was looking at, suddenly warning signs appeared showing a malfunction in the pod,’That wasn’t me, I swear,’ and then the Hollow inside opened its eyes and began writhing about. Arthur backed away and prepared himself as the pod took hits and became dented until the door was quickly sent flying and all the liquid burst forth as the Hollow emerged. It was gray in colour and it had upside down wings and its hands appeared to be a bit too large for its body though it didn’t seem to be bothered by them. The area on its chest and the three long claws on its hands and legs were orange in colour,’Can we talk about it? I didn’t come here to hurt you. I’m not one of them.

He tried to reason with it as it was susceptible to confusion and lashing out after being stuck in a pod and experimented on but it was no use as it leaped at him and made a hole in the floor from where he was standing. The Hollow shrieked and attacked him in rage so Arthur had no choice but to defend himself as he struck back with the umbrella. The Fullbringer had the speed advantage so he used it to attack and steer clear of its long claws. He couldn’t quite tell what class of Hollow it was but in terms of strength it wasn’t actually that far behind Arthur.

Still, he couldn’t allow this fight to prolong as if the Hollow caused any damage to the other pods it might aid in their release and quickly cause him to be outnumbered. The Hollow came at him and Arthur raised his left hand as a glass like panel formed in front of him and took the attack from the claw. Seeing that its attack was not successful it tried to back away to prepare for another charge, but it found another panel at its back. This was the other Gafu that Arthur had learned after achieving the expert level. It was a shield that could be used both defensively and offensively and this was the offensive use he thought of.

The Hollow was trapped between the two panels which tried to come together as the Hollow was slowly being crushed between them. Arthur could hear the cracking of bones as this was going on and he disliked the method, but it was the most efficient as it restricted the movement of the berserk Hollow. After a few moments, the Hollow breathed its last and dropped limply on the floor and disappeared like a Hollow normally would.

Arthur wanted to avoid any further confrontation, so he refrained from touching any of the other pods and continued going until the end of the large room. He was met with three doors; left, right and forward. The door forward was the first one to have glass in it but the Fullbringer couldn’t see through it so perhaps it was only one way. He thought about which door to choose and he decided that since he came here by taking the right fork, he would take the left door first. However, it was clear that the room forward was important so he would definitely come back to it after checking out the other two rooms.

Upon entering the room on the left, he didn’t like what he saw as he immediately noticed dried blood and scratch marks in various places. This was most prominent in the middle where there was an examination table which used to have a glass covered which now seemed to be shattered and there were still some pieces on the floor. It was literally like a scene from a horror movie and the thought of it wanted to make him vomit. He found some bloodied tools, but he didn’t really know what they were for as they didn’t seem to be any normal surgical equipment. Since Arthur didn’t find any important documents so took some pictures and left the room to started heading towards the room on the right.

From what he had inspected so far, he knew that the person behind this was smart as there was such a big facility in here and yet there wasn’t a single clue that could point out who done it. It was crazy to think about it. How long has this been going on? What exactly is happening here? The right room was no better than the previous as it turned out to be a morgue. He wanted to leave as soon as he entered but he had to look for evidence. Arthur approached the nearest panel and opened it. There was a body inside. A human body. It showed heavy disfiguration too but not something that would come from genetics but from experimentation.

He left the room with a bad taste in his mouth and a sense of disgust. His stomach was turning and even without knowing who was behind this he felt immense hatred towards them,’This is just sick. Whoever is doing this needs to be put down immediately.’ He took a few moments to regain his composure and carried on. One final door and he didn’t know if it could get any worse. The Fullbringer broke through the door and entered.

When he entered it seemed to be like an operations rooms as there was a massive monitor right in the centre of the wall accompanied by smaller monitors that were on the desk. There also seemed to be more doors as there was a door on the left and right once again. The computer was on, but it was password locked so he couldn’t get access to it. He was no hacker and with no signal there wasn’t the option of calling anybody. Once again there were no paper documents and the culprit was very careful not to leave any important evidence behind that could be linked back to him. He thought about what to do but then his thoughts were interrupted by the sound of the door opening.

Arthur quickly changed the umbrella into gun form and pointed it at the door on the left that just opened. A black figure emerged,’It’s me,’ causing him to lower his weapon. He questioned him,’Did you find your Hollows?’ He shook his head,’No, but this is a pretty big facility and it seems that there is a lot of mechanism which allows something big to be transported to certain rooms.’ Since he had an idea of what that was, he shared his findings with the Vasto Lorde who did not like the sound of it either.

After a few moments of silence, the Hollow spoke,’It would seem that we are too late. This seems to have been going on for some time so neither of us are to blame. It doesn’t seem like we can save any of the Hollows that are here either.’ Having explored most of the facility it was almost time for them to make the final decision about what to do with all this but before that Arthur decided to check out what was in the room on the right since neither of them have been in there.

To his dismay, there was more glass containers which were different as what was inside was fully visible compared to the pods that the Hollows were kept in. Most of the containers were empty save for the last one which had liquid in it. He approached it to find a naked girl who seemed to be around 20 year old or thereabouts,’We can’t let this place exist any longer.’ He smashed through the glass and took her in his arms. Her hair was white and he didn’t reckon that it was from dyeing so she must have been experimented on. He didn’t even want to imagine what she had to go through in here. However, the rest of her body was completely normal which mean that she could still be saved and that is exactly what he will do.

He took his cape and used it to cover her and he headed for the entrance while the Vasto Lorde quickly checked the perimeter for any others that could be saved. He used this time to check up on the girl by checking for the vitals that he could. Her breathing was shallow and with this came a slower heartbeat but without a doubt she was still alive. He noticed that her irises were yellow in colour which was another side effect of the experiments and they were also unresponsive to light, though assuming that she was unconscious for some time it was reasonable.

The Vasto Lorde came and gave the signal that it was all clear,’Can you destroy this place?’ He nodded,’Are you sure?’ Arthur responded,’If you are fine with killing your kin then go ahead.’ It was true that there may have been additional leads that could have helped them find out the source of all this but as a result of a break in the person might increase security or destroy that evidence. This may have been their only chance, but they did as much as they could. The Hollow shook his head,’They are beyond saving like you said. Sparing them that suffering would be a mercy,’ he said so and charged a Gran Rey Cero before firing it. Explosions happened one after another as pipes burst and gas exploded and soon everything was on fire as smaller explosions continued. They returned up top without looking back. That twisted place was no more and yet he didn’t feel any better.

Word Count: 2,805

Learned Sugiharagami: 1,200/1,200

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Before they started their journey, the Fullbringer called Layla to get everyone together including Iris. The two of them then made their way to Duality HQ with the girl they found in Arthur’s arms. There was no conversation between them and the tense atmosphere that was in the facility also remained. Upon their arrival the Vasto Lorde spoke,’I’ll wait here for you and then we can talk about what comes next afterwards.

He nodded and entered with everyone waiting. They were surprised to see the girl, but they immediately prepared got her into a room and both Iris and Liz began examining her conditions while the others remained in case, they needed any help getting anything. Knowing that she was now in much safer hands than his, Arthur turned to Layla and asked to talk with her in private. In her office they sat down and she asked,’So what happened? Weren’t you supposed to be with the Hollow? What happened to this girl?

He unlocked his phone and gave it to her so that she could look through the pictures,’The Hollow was looking for his fellow Hollows who seemed to have gone missing. However, he was able to feel their residual reiatsu signature in the town which gave him reason to believe that they were not killed but kidnapped. So, this brought us to this facility which he found underground. There we found that he was right, and these Hollows were experimented on though I don’t know what actually was done to them. Not only that but it seems that they were experimenting on humans too as I found corpses in the morgue and the girl was the last one left alive.

Layla listened as she scrolled through the pictures and a deep frown appeared on her brow,’That’s terrible. I haven’t heard of anyone kidnapping Hollows. We’ll make sure to look after her and protect her so don’t worry about that. Did you find out who was responsible for this?’ Arthur shook his head though,’No, the facility was empty, and we didn’t find any resistance though it did have good security and seemed to have something that prevented reiatsu to be sensed from the outside. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any documents that would pinpoint who was behind this but given that it was left unattended I have a hunch that this is not the only facility of its kind.

She downloaded the pictures from his phone to her computer to keep as evidence and handed it back to him though her frown did not ease,’I see. What happened to the facility?’ He took back the phone and put it back in his pocket,’We blew it up. Seeing that we left clear evidence of breaking in I didn’t want the culprit to take further measures.’ Layla eased up a bit,’Well, I trust that you did everything you could so I doubt that there was anything more that we could have done. We can’t leave this as it is. We’ll be working with Shizuka from now to try to find more of these facilities since her surveillance should make it easier, but I’ll also spread the word to other Fullbringer factions that I trust. This is a serious matter and we don’t want this information to fall into wrong hands but at the same time we need to get to the core of this.

Arthur nodded in agreement as he believed this to be the best course of action and began taking his leave but before he reached the door Layla asked,’Are you alright?’ He answered without looking back,’I don’t know,’ and left. He headed to the room where everyone was to check up on the girl,’How is she?’ he asked as he entered. Iris was the first to answer,’Her vitals are normal, and she doesn’t seem to be in danger, but we can’t wake her up, so she is probably in a temporary coma. I found several needle marks on the back of her neck. There are no signs of bruising or any incisions but given her hair and eye colour her body most likely didn’t take too kindly to whatever was done to her. Maybe some of it even healed by now.

Liz was the next to speak up,’She also has reiatsu that’s aligned with Fullbringers with nature, but her body shows nothing that would indicate battle experience nor any signs of heavy labour. Perhaps she is not yet aware of her powers or it came about as a result of high stress. Though to find anything else we would have to ask her.’ He took all the information in and came to a conclusion,’Looks like that's the limit of what we can do then. Someone should stay and watch for any changes and we can take turns until she wakes up. Considering the nature of the situation, I don’t think that she was ever meant to be in a coma state for a long time so I reckon that she should wake up within a week or so, maybe even less.

The others didn’t try to refute this, and discussion began about who should be the first to keep watch but eventually William sighed and shooed them away,’You kids go and get some sleep, you need it. I’ll take over here.’ Granted that everyone liked their sleep they started leaving. Arthur and Iris took their leave too but before they could be fully on their way, the Vasto Lorde met with them outside,’What have you decided?’ The Fullbringer responded,’It won’t be easy but please keep looking for any other facilities as we will be doing our best to locate any further leads as well. You can consider us your allies and we won’t harm you, though you should still be careful of any other Fullbringers as they probably won’t be of the same opinion.

The Hollow nodded,’Very well, I understand. I too want to put a stop to this so that no more of my kind will have to needlessly suffer.’ With that he wanted to take his leave, but Arthur stopped him,’By the way, what’s your name?’ Now that their relationship would be somewhat extended, he thought it would be a good idea to get each other’s names,’Varuna.’ Arthur introduced himself as well and then they went their separate ways.

Their journey home was uneventful and accompanied by silence and neither of them had much energy or mood to do anything else, so they simply went to bed after arriving. However, no matter how hard he tried he just could not sleep. There were too many thoughts running through his head and especially after the things he saw it did not make it easy to just simply discard them. He kept turning and turning but no matter which position he took it did not help so eventually he just sat up on the edge of the bed and stayed like that.

Arthur didn’t know how much time had passed but eventually Iris turned towards him and then sat up,’Is everything okay?’ she asked in a sleepy voice. He let out a sigh,’I don’t if I should keep going anymore. Every time I close my eyes, I see that place, all those bodies and experiments… How can I keep living normally knowing that these things happen right under my feet? There must be many places like that, and no one knows about it. All these humans and Hollows can only suffer in silence with only empty hopes of being found. I don’t know if I can experience any more places like that without losing a part of myself or even breaking.

She knew that this was a serious matter so she made sure to give him her undivided attention and hearing his weak voice like that also hurt her,’I…’ she began but then took another moments to properly gather her thoughts and to formulate it into a proper sentence. They both knew that it was not something they could overlook but surely thinking about it all day would end up damaging them too,’I don’t have an answer for you I’m afraid. I know that you can’t blame yourself for it though. At the end of the day we have very little control over life or death. Sometimes we will get lucky and be able to save a life but there will also be many more cases where we can’t and it’s not our fault. We simply don’t have the ability to change that result. Nobody should have to experience what you saw today whether it is the people in the facility or observers like you.

Iris paused to take a deep breath and continued,’I am sure that some day a person will take their last breath on my operation table. I’m certain that I will feel crushed and an endless amount of guilt for not being able to save them. I can’t even imagine what it would feel like to tell their relatives about it. There will be many times that this will happen and I’m sure there will be come a day when I won’t be able to take any more of it. If on that day I choose to stop, then I think that is fine.’ She shuffled up behind him and embraced him,’Nobody is forcing you to do this. Nobody will think any less of you if you want to stop now and never look back. If you don’t want to keep going, then it’s okay. As much as saving people is a good cause, we can’t forget to take care of ourselves. There is only one of us and who we are is important. If anyone becomes broken as a result of what they do, then I believe that it will be very hard or maybe near impossible for them to recover which is why stepping away is not necessarily the wrong thing to do.

She tightened her embrace,’Just know that if you do want to keep going then I will always be here for you. I may not always have the answers and solutions and I am not able to change how the world or the people within it work. I will be here for you though. Just like this. I will talk and listen until you decide to conclude the matter and I expect you to do the same for me.’ He didn’t say anything back and simply listened to what Iris said until there was silence. She always knew what to say. Even though they weren’t any closer to the answer her unwavering support was a true blessing to him.

He finally answered,’You are the person closest to me and mean the world to me. If you ever think that I’m doing the wrong thing then make sure to stop me.’ She nodded,’I will. I love you for who you are, and I don’t want that to change. I can’t bear to see you depressed and broken and I don’t want either of us to be like that for the rest of our lives. I will not let you go down a path which only leads to endless suffering and losing who you are. Never.’ After this only silence remained as they fell asleep in the other’s embrace.

Word Count: 1,876

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