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A lake of beauty and death

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The cool wind washed over Kenshi and as he regained his awareness, he realized that he was in a familiar place, thought not the fight that he was just experiencing. As he took in his surroundings, he realized that he was in a peaceful forest grove and he was looking out over a lake of silver. It was just like the dream, but this felt more… real. The wounds that he’d been dealing with up to this point were absent and he felt refreshed. Was he dreaming now? In the middle of a fight?

With his mind racing, he slowly stood up from his kneeling position at the edge of the lake. He’d never been able to move in the dreams, always being stuck watching and unable to react. “So finally you’ve decided to move. Oh, how long I’ve waited for this. Come now Kenshi, step out on to the lake so that we may finally see each other face to face.” The voice that carried over the wind was calm and gentle, seductive even.

Kenshi couldn’t shake the feeling of trepidation as he took a step out onto the silver water that made up the lake. The surface of the water broke slightly as his foot made contact, causing him to ever so slowly sink into the thick silver liquid.  “Is that fear?” The voice could be heard again, this time laughing at him in a somewhat mocking tone. “How unlike you. If you’re not sure of yourself when you step out, then you’ll sink to the bottom. This is not a place for fear. Fear serves only to weaken you. To kill you.” As she spoke, the woman’s voice became more and more serious, the mocking and seductive undertones abruptly absent.

How was he supposed to be sure of anything right now, much less himself? He had no idea where he was or how he got here. What about the fight? Did he lose? Did he win? His mind raced faster than ever before trying to process the information. As if in response to this, the sinking began to quicken, taking in more and more of his foot. With his foot submerged up past his ankle, it was apparent that he would certainly sink should he attempt to walk out. Suddenly it struck him like a punch to the gut. This was the lake from his dreams. This was what he has spent so much time searching for. The hows and the whys didn’t matter now, because he was here.

His next step was firm and confident, seeming to sense this the liquid below him held firm. Keeping his head clear of distractions as he walked, he was able to join the woman in the center of the lake. where the woman was seated. She was a pale slender woman with long silver hair and white eyes. She wore a long white dress that floated around her on the lake as she sat on the water. The only real color on her was the subtle pink hue to her lips. As he reached her, she slowly rose to meet him.

Once the two were face to face, she would reach out and let her fingertips caress the side of his face. “Oh, you don’t know how long I’ve waited for this. How long I’ve spent trying to get you here, but you’re such a stubborn boy. But all that matters is that you’re here now.” Her hand slowly moved down to his chest, stopping at the spot where he’d been stabbed in the chest just before arriving here. Though there was no visible wound, her touch caused the pain he’d felt to rush back as if he’d been stabbed all over again. She bit her bottom lip in excitement as she watched his face react to the sudden reemergence of the pain. “Oh, I know it hurts, but you love it don’t you? You love that feeling of teetering on the edge, not knowing if this is going to be the last thing you feel. Do you think you can win the fight like this? Do you think you can push through the pain and overcome an enemy that’s mastered his Zanpakutō while you haven’t?”

“Yes. I can beat him. It doesn’t matter what tricks he can use. I’m faster and stronger, that’s all that matters.” Kenshi spoke with conviction, ignoring the pain shooting through his chest. “Good. That’s the confidence I’m used to hearing from you. You’ll never win if you don’t believe that you can with no doubt of any other outcome. And I believe you can win this fight without my help, I really do….but I’m tired of sitting and watching the fighting. I can only enjoy so much while being sealed away. That’s why you’re not leaving here until you understand how to use me properly.” She stepped back away from him, leaving a few feet of space between the two.

 Kenshi wasn’t quite sure what she was even talking about at this point. She had been speaking to him as if she knew him despite this being their first meeting. Her talk of being sealed and being used served to only deepen his confusion, but he could feel a sudden aggression in her as she backed away. She meant to fight him, but with what? She had no weapons on her. “I don’t understand. What does any of this mean? Who are you?” He was hoping for some kind of answer but his hand was resting on the hilt of his sword nonetheless, as he could feel deep in himself that this wasn’t going to be solved without a fight.

“I could spend hours explaining all of the little details to you, but we both know you’ll learn nothing from that. I already said it before, you’re a stubborn boy. You always have been. The only way to make sure you learn this lesson is to beat it into you.” As she spoke, she reached down just under the surface of the water, as if grabbing something. When she stood up once again, in her hand was a sword identical to the one that Kenshi wore on his hip. Thought there was a slight difference, the blade itself seemed to be made of the same silver liquid as the lake. The blade slowly dripped with the strange liquid and, thought it was quite difficult to see, there seemed to be a strange vapor emanating from the blade. As he took a closer look, he realized that the entire lake seemed to be producing the strange gas.

As the realization hit him, he found it suddenly difficult to breath. His eyes began to water and his skin began to burn slightly. He could feel his once stable footing on the lake start to give way as he found it almost impossible to focus. “The water in this lake is beautiful isn’t it? The same could be said for this sword.” She ran her finger along the blade, collecting some of the liquid on her finger and raising it up so that it caught the light of the moon on it. “Look at how beautifully the silver shines in the full moon. Ah..but its not silver. You see the beauty on the surface is but an illusion. What you see here, and what this lake is made of, is pure mercury. Beautiful to look at, but oh so deadly to be near. Right about now I’d imagine it’s getting quite difficult to breath. That’s the vapors attacking your body from the inside. While normally I’d protect you from this, I feel that you need to fully understand me. Now, remember that I’m only doing this to teach you, so no matter how much this might hurt just know that we’re on the same side. Oh…and if it seems like I’m enjoying myself, its because I am.”

There was no delay between the moment she stopped speaking and the moment she was face to face with Kenshi. Her speed seemed to match his almost exactly, and it was for that reason alone that he was able to draw his sword and block the blow. Though as the two blades met, the liquid from her sword seemed to be thrown around the battlefield. As the new liquid flew through the air, the air seemed to thicken as the gas that surrounded them thickened. The two would clash repeatedly for several seconds, though Kenshi could feel his body tiring faster than normal as he continued. Seeing an opening to separate, he jumped back to get enough distance between them to try and collect his thoughts.

Kenshi’s body felt heavy, like he was having to push himself to fight like he normally would. His reactions were ever so slightly slower but worse than that he wasn’t able to put his full force behind his attacks without tiring himself out now. “You can feel it can’t you? The poison is making it hard to fight back isn’t it? Hard to breath? Hard to move? Fight it. Prove to me that you have what it takes to wield me.” She griped her sword with both hands and held it out to the side, as if preparing to attack despite the distance separating them. The liquid dripping from the blade seemed to overflow for a moment as she focused on her stance. With a powerful swing, the excess of liquid that had been building in the moments before were propelled towards Kenshi. As the mass of liquid metal flew through the air, it began to separate into four separate masses and solidify into blade like shapes.

Striking back at these flying blades, Kenshi was easily able to smash through each of the blades flying his direction, though as they shattered, they began to fill the area with the thick vapors once again. He couldn’t help but cough heavily as he breathed in more of the toxic gas, feeling the effects worsening his condition. Realizing that this was a losing battle if he stayed on the defense, he forced himself to rush her and attack. Much to his annoyance, each swing of his sword was met with an almost effortlessly matched swing of her own. “Oh, you poor thing. Can’t even land a single hit?” She taunted him as she gracefully matched his swings. The semiliquid nature of the blade seemed to be lessening the impact of his strikes to further weaken his attacks past what the poison was doing to him. For the first time in a long history of fights, Kenshi could feel himself getting frustrated as it seemed impossible that he’d even be able to touch his opponent.  

Seeming to grow tired from simply clashing blades with him, in a sudden rush of speed she knocked his sword aside and delivered a swift slash across his stomach. As if there was some kind of reaction between the blade and the poison already in his veins, he could feel a burning sensation explode throughout his body that caused him to cry out in pain. His cries of pain only served to cause the woman to laugh. She made no attempts to hide her enjoyment at watching him struggle before her. Her laughing only stopped when she ran her tongue up the length of her blood covered blade. A moan of pleasure would escape her lips as she tasted his blood. “Of all of the blood that I’ve ever had the pleasure of tasting, yours is without a doubt the most delicious. Now, how about w-“ Kenshi had used the pause in the battle to close the distance and was thrusting the tip of his sword right at her face. Just as the strike was inches from connecting, liquid metal from the surrounding area formed a disk between the two and stopped the attack from connecting. Though the disk had hardened just before the impact, it wasn’t quite solid enough to absorb the full power behind the blow and shattered completely as the sword connected. As the attack carried through and was able to graze the side of her cheek, he felt an odd resistance once again as if he’d met with yet another shield.  

As the two separated once again, she wiped a strange mixture of blood and mercury that was dripping from the wound. “Well it wasn’t much, but you did manage to finally connect with something. If it wasn’t for the mercury in my blood stopping that attack, I might have had a problem there.” She laughed as she licked her thumb clean of her own blood. “So now that we’ve crossed blades for a moment, are you beginning to understand what’s happening here? Can you understand how to properly utilize what you’re holding there? I’m eager to finally get involved instead of just watching for once, so I think you’ve earned a small taste. Let us finish this so that we can get back to the fight that’s actually important.” She took a defensive stance that mirrored Kenshi’s own stance that he’d used often in the past.                                                                                                                   

Kenshi rushed forward, thrusting at her in an attempt to bypass her defenses but was fully prepared for her to deflect the blow. So prepared that he was shocked when she allowed the attack to connect, instead matching it with a thrust of her own. The two came together exactly as Kenshi and Takada had done in the moments before Kenshi had arrived here. Kenshi could feel the same sensation from that moment as well, as if fading out of reality. In the very last moments that he was present on the lake, he felt her pull him close and whisper something into his ear.


WC 2,294

Shikai Learned 2,294/1,500

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