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PrologueEdit

A blonde young man stood silently at the shore of a lake, the lake itself was clean and untouched by the ravages of man, and so was the surrounding area - newly bloomed flowers stood at attention and formed a meadow of dazzling colors; here, he felt at ease..

Hiroya always sought this place out when he needed to think, the location itself was secluded from the majority of the world by a spine of hills and rocks that encircled it, there was only a single pathway that could be used in order to get here by foot, and Hiroya; in order to protect this place of tranquility had warded it properly, no human could come here without his will, that was how he had crafted the spell.

Hiroya stood there silently and watched his reflection in the water, despite the calm and the serenity - he felt, uneasy in a way...

The MissionEdit

In the afternoon sky, unbeknowst to all but the most perceptive of eyes, a pair of sliding doors opened, revealing the form of a regal man. His cold visage gazed upon the landscape, as his clothes fluttering in the wind. His eyes closed in what appeared to be concentration, though only for a moment. Peering northward, he narrowed his eyes a single thought on his mind.

In the next instant he disappeared.

---

Flashback

Upon returning from his last mission, Kenshin had immediately been called upon by commander of the Intelligence Operations Division again. He had already delievered his report, so either there was something that needed to be discussed....or he was being tasked with another mission. Of course this time he was forced to make his way towards the Intelligence commander center....which was nothing more than elaborate ramen stand. It was times like these he hated the commanders eccentric nature. He approached the counter ordering his meal, as the chef..or rather commander Tsuchimikado came to take his order. It was necessary to hide in plain sight, though to this day he couldnt fathom why the Intelligence Division went along with its commanders lunacy. Choosing such a.....ugh...he couldnt find a word for this....deplorable location.

"Yo, welcome Ken-chan! Got a new special for ya today." Nodding in repsonse, he understood the commanders innuendo. He was being tasked with another mission. Another target. He ordered the meal while Tsuchimikado began fixing the unholy broth.

"This one's got some spice in it, gives it a nice kick." Hmm, so the target was at least Captain-class in power. Now if only he could get the "who" and "where" he could be off. "Is it pork ramen?" An inquiry. Foods and flavors are used as indicators to determine ones powers and abilities.

"Nope! This time its miso." A Kido user. Interesting. But the only captain level entities out there with a specialization in Kido was.....

His eyes widened in understanding, as Tsuchimikado winked knowingly, before serving the ramen. Figuring he wasnt going to get out it, Kenshin ate his meal in silence, contemplating his next move. "Oh, and Ken-chan, be careful out there. All sorts of ghouls and goblins have been popping around recently. You see the news? Keep yourself safe."

So he was here in Karakura Town? Or perhaps was. Well, at least he had a lead for now. Finishing up his ramen he paid the amount and left, fading into the crowd.

---

Kenshin flew the air, having pinpointed an anamoly in the surrounding area. It was a shame. The environment looked...beautiful. He would rather not fight here if he could help it. Earth had changed in the last few centuries, and in many cases not for the better in his opinion. Swooping down, he came across a series of flowing hills. He walked through a winding path, keeping himself hidden in the darkness. He swept his hands across the various rocks and trees scattered about as his Kinzoku Kuusou read through the memories of the objects. Images, impressions, and sights, all began flowing through his mind, when suddenly the image of a young blonde haired man, walking towards the lake just down the path appeared in his mind.

Good, now that he had acquired his target it was time to introduce himself. With that in mind, he walked through the barrier...one meant to keep humans out, but not people like him. There at the shore of the lake stood one Hiroya Ginkarei.

The man turned, having sensed his presence. He regarded the man before him, with a mix of curiosity and awe. Hiroya was a renown master of the magical arts. And was not one to be taken lightly. Furthermore he was a pacifist by nature. He wouldnt fight if he didnt have to, and if forced, he would flee at the earliest opportunity. He would have to tread carefully with this one.

"Hiroya Ginkarei, I presume."

The man turned around slowly, the wind picking up and playing with the folds of his characteristic gray robe, before it fell silent only before another gust came and ruffled the mans blonde hair; he snorted in displeasure as he stroked a number of golden locks away from his eyes, before he spoke - his voice, while deep and masculine carried with it a certain softness, which was somewhat unusual for the male gender.

"One would think that the hunter knew the trails of the rabbit he pursued, or perhaps this is not the case? While I am indeed the man you seek, I'm somewhat at a loss to why you've sought me out, though I do have a certain idea why - I'd thus ask you to turn back, as if you act with hostility, I'll be forced to defend myself."

The man turns his back to Kenshin completely, as he walks over towards a small pond, decorated with water lilies of different shapes and sizes, despite his previous statements he doesn't appear to be the least bit intimidated by Kenshin's presence - one would say that if anything, he's.. calmer than before.

He's different. Far from the emotionally unstable Haru Nakamaru. But that doesnt make him any less dangerous. Kenshin considered his options briefly, and decided on the course of action less likely to end in immediate bloodshed. So he made his way towards the Kido Master, circling around him, before kneeling at the edge of the small pond.

His eyes gazed into his own watery reflection, as he said, "My mission is to determine the reason for your resurfacing Hiroya Ginkarei. Recently there seems to be an insurgence of powerful and potentially dangerous individuals, and I would rather not count you amongst our enemies. But it seems you've already made that choice for me." Shaking his head, he stood up gazing into the sky.

Silence permeated the air, as both warriors seemed lost in the tranquility of nature. Neither moved nor spoke for a time. Words were unnecessary to understand that which fate has already deigned.

"I will have to detain you. But I would prefer if our battle took place somewhere else. I'd rather not destroy one of the few sanctuary's left on earth."

Hiroya nods in appreciation before he moves over to towards the woods, however, in the third step he simply vanishes - a gust of wind is blown outwards from the empty space, whistling trough the fauna of the meadows; the air then contracts with a tearing sound in order to fill the empty space left behind by him - he's fast, there's no doupt about that, and Kenshin would have to move quickly in order to catch up with him.

As Hiroya was as much trying to flee, as to lure Kenshin away from his sanctuary: Kenshin didn't have the time to think about this anymore - as four heavy chains of golden light shot up from the ground in four different directions - as two of them attempt to secure themselves around his legs, while the remaining two attempt to binds his arms.

He's fast! Kenshin thought. Acting on pure instinct his body move to evade the chains. But he wasnt quite fast enough, as a chain wrapped itself around his right arm and leg. The chains began wrapping around his limbs like a snake coiling and constricting its prey. His eyes widened, in realization as he felt a crushing pain, the limbs quickly growing numb.

Summoning his Zanpakutou to his hand, he activated his Shikai with a mere thought. Thankfully he recognized the binding spell, and swung down cutting the chains, causing them to dissipate. He had to wait a few moments before feeling returned in his limbs, before giving chase.

Cursing under his breath, as his target was quickly gaining distance, he flared his spiritual power rejuvenating his body. With renewed vigor, he gave chase, making use of Bakushukuchi, to gain distance. Narrowing his eyes, Kenshin began casting a multi-version "Gaki Rekkō" within seconds, hundreds of green streams of light arc through the woods racing at incredible speeds towards their target. Meanwhile Kenshin wordlessly fades into the darkness moving from shadow to shadow with even greater speed than before, closing on his foe.

Two Danku-like Barriers appeared in front of the onlaught of magic that Kenshin released, however, as the green bolts of light connected at the shields surface, something odd happened - instead of dissipating like they normally would; they were instead reflected back towards the casters original position, this was not half of it however, as after the barrage was successfully reflected, the two "Danku Mirrors" began to move systematically around the area, redirecting the bolts further - and from odd postions: And before long the space was flooded by bolts of green light that came from every possible direction.

And despite Kenshin's invisibility it'd prove a hard to task to avoid all of them without getting eviscerated; additionally, whenever the bolts fled past him or such, the "Mirrors" would position themselves infront of them once more, sending them straight backwards, in a style vastly similiar to the game of Ping-Pong. Though Kenshin would note that for every new "Round" approximately 15% of the bolts would vanish, so basically he had to surrive this onslaught for 6 "rounds" or find a way to move past this barrage, and pursue his target.


Danku!? He can remotely cast that spell And move them!? Impossible!? Kenshin was forced to a stop as he had to dodge his own attacks. Thanks to Bakushukuchi, he didnt have to stop his movements, allowing him to flow around the beams. Shifting his head a beam of emerald light streaked past, and as expected the Danku moved to intercept it. In the same instant he fired a "Byakurai" in the opposite direction testing a theory. Hiroya must have configured the barriers to track the movements of that specific spell.

Only for the second Danku to intercept the spell. Once again he found himself cursing under his breath, as he dropped into a nearby shadow avoiding the two-pronged attack that would have surely cost him his head. Appearing a ways away, he had to formulate another plan. Instead of dodging he moved towards the next array of attacks, but before they could make contact, he turned one-hundred-eighty degrees. As expected one of the Danku appeared before him to intercept the beams. Summoning his Zanpakutou he sliced through the Danku causing it shatter like glass.

An instant later the second barrier flew in attempting to deflect the attacks the other missed that were trailing behind him. Like a dragon swimming through the sky, he charged straight towards the energy beams, flowing around them with fluid grace. As they ricocheted off the barrier, Kenshin cast a barrier directly under his feet. When the beams collided, they smashed into the shield pushing him forward with explosive force. Enough that he could resume his chase without significant loss.

Focusing on his spiritual awareness, he quickly pin-pointed the location of Hiroya, unfortunately the pacifist had gained some distance. Resuming his movement in darkness he began rapidly teleporting to catch up. Using demon magic to slow Hiroya was a mistake. One he wouldnt make again. He had to pour a significant amount of spiritual energy into his body to augment his speed, but he did eventually catch up, as Hiroya's form entered his sight.

Hiroya turned around mid-leap to glance at his pursuer, surprise flashed across his comely features, followed by, relief? He quickly descended towards the ground as he smiled warmly at Kenshin "You're alive, I see - good, would you please cease these meaningless actions? I don't want to harm you needlessly" Hiroya folded his arms across his chest as he gave Kenshin a pleading glance.

Kenshin's expression was cold and stoic as he regarded his target, "That excuse was used up the second you killed Shinigami operatives, regardless of their zealous pursuit. If you don't wish to fight, then you should consider surrendering. But once again...you've already given me your answer." He says increasing his speed. Flickering from his position, he appeared in the air above him, before descended upon Hiroya, his sword in a downward arc, while he muttered the name of destructive spell its cackling energies gathering in his left hand as he prepared to assault the pacifist.

Hiroya merely stood there as he awaited the blow to come, when the sword entered his personal space, a large, white hexagonal barrier was brought into existence - blocking the attack, or rather in this case.. delaying it; as Kenshin's Zanpakuto cleaved its way trough the surface of the barrier - Hiroya had already made his next move, in another blurr he stood at Kenshin's side, hands glowing with white energy: And with one elegant thrust of his right palm he attembs to connect a Shō-enhanced blow against Kenshin's abdomen: while the movement is certainly fast, it doesn't quite measure up to Kenshin's own speed.

Kenshin jerked slightly maneuvering his other hand so as to block the attack. As his hand caught the other, he released the pent up energy, as a wave of blue lightning surged upon Hiroya. Without pause, he leapt back muttering the name of another spell, "Sokatsui" hurling four in rapid succession, colliding with the lightning. Like a volcano the resulting explosion erupted rippling upward as blue fire flared as electricity danced around it. In the smoke, a translucent shield had appeared around Kenshin, as he peered behind its faint golden light. He shifted into a stance, his knees bent low, his hands gripping his sword held parallel to his face.

Hiroya quickly made some distance, but not before he had become partially electrocuted by the lightning spells - though his wards took off for some of the damage; the Sokatsui spell though didn't even reach him, as it stopped in midair, only for the four blasts to converge upon one another and hover over to Hiroya's outstretched hand, where they began to reshape at an accelerated rate. Hiroya mumbled something inaudible as three lances of highly temperated blue flames shoot up from his palm at high speed and with deadly precision - one could only assume them to be fatal if they made contact, straight afterwards though, Hiroya reshaped the restover energies of Kenshin's spell into an "ordinary" Sokatsui blast - at least as ordinary as it could be given how masterfully he rewove it.

The fun doesn't end there though, as six thin, wide beams of light appear around Kenshin's form attempting to slam themselves into his midsection, and by that - halt his movements entirely.

He can even turn my own spells against me. As expected of the infamous Hiroya Ginkarei. Kenshin thought upon witnessing the spectale of Hiroya stopping his spells with masterful ease, and turn them into his own weapons. Charging forward, Kenshin cut through the blue flame lances, his sword deflecting the attack and causing them to sputter before fizzling out of existence with each calculated strike as he drew closer to his target.

But only to be stopped as six rods of golden light converged on his torso. Surprise evident on his face he cut down the three in front of him with a single wide arcing slash. However the three to his rear slammed into his backside, eliciting a gasp as he grit his teeth before being smashed into the ground. Cursing, he found his body unresponsize, a pittle of blood dribbling down the side of his mouth before white hot flames washed over him in a furious explosion of hellfire.

As the smoke cleared, all that was left was the sword Kenshin had been wielding the six rods apparently gone and a shimmering barrier which likely protected the latter from the last attack. But to his Hiroya's astonishment, the sword glowed a brillant white, transforming into Kenshin. Gasping for breath he held his hand out only for the exact same sword to appear in his hands once more.

"It appears I've underestimated your abilities Hiroya Ginkarei. I assure you that will not happen again." With his sword arm he reached up into the sky, a single phrase escaping his lips.

"Hakutou Kaigan!" With a single downward sweep of his blade, a brillant white wave of energy in the shape of a crescent moon was unleashed, parting the very earth beneath it, as it quickly sped towards Hiroya. A feint, but he wont know that. Any defensive barrier he erects will crumble before "Genzoumetsu". In that same instant, Kenshin flickered from his location, appearing behind Hiroya his sword cutting through the very air itself as the winds howled, and the earth shook. "Nadegiri."

---

A few miles away, a door suddenly appeared in the air, sliding open it released a puff of smoke along the floor as a black butterfly came fluttering out of the door. It was followed out by a tall, lean man dressed in black with a distinct blue haori.

As the Senkaimon closed behind him, Tarō began taking in his surroundings, searching with all his senses for the one he has here for and the comrade he was here to aid. In the distance he could feel the clash of two great powers, not really making it difficult for anyone to track them. Judging the distance between them, Tarō quickly made up his mind about what he had to do. If Kenshin had indeed engaged Hiroya then he could do with all the aid possible, and fast. Partly pulling out his katana from its sheath, he whispered softly, "Open, Shukuchi".

Letting go of his blade, he reached out with his hand and grasping the air with his fingers pulled back to open a door in the air itself. As he stepped in the door closed behind him, vanishing once more. Walking through the small pathway that appeared in front of him, Tarō began gathering spiritual energy in his hand as he moved, mumbling an incantation under his breath. As a similar door opened up a little behind and above Hiroya, Tarō stepping out from within. Noticing the two combatants, he raised his palm into the air and pointing it, along with the crackling orb of energy, at Hiroya shouted, "Hiroya Ginkarei, I request you to stop resisting and letting us take you in. I would rather not have to fight you." He was well aware that not launching a surprise attack was a tactical blunder, but he was not willing to blindly attack a person from behind without giving them a chance to surrender. What he did not realize was his sudden appearance and speech might distract Hiroya as Kenshin came in with his attack.

The True Fight BeginsEdit

Hiroya quickly unsheathed his blade to block the the first attack, being pushed backwards by the force for quite some yards, he told me he'd stop underestimating me but I've already read the nature of his abilities - and one of the first rules of battle is to always assume the worst when it comes to an opponents capabilities. At this moment though, he heard the unfamiliar voice and reflexively turned around as Kenshin's sword surged towards his unsuspecting neck, only for a wall of white feathers appeared to stop the track of his blade mid-strike, fluttering around Hiroya from all directions possible. Before they, after blocking the attack, reshaped back into his sealed Zanpakutō.

Hiroya nodded softly to himself before the air convulsed as he, using Shunpo, relocated himself a distance from Kenshin, proceeding to speak softly to Kenshin and Taro both "A sneak attack, and one whom would've undouptedly got me had it not been for Shirohane. You're clever, clever indeed - and this newcomer, have your superiours sent a pack of dogs to hunt but a lonely fox?"

Hiroya carefully removes his left arm from the sleeve of his elaborate grey robe; revealing him to wear a green shirt that sits just right, an Ankh dangling from his throat; brilliantly blue eyes watching their movements slowly, as with a look of great displeasure; he grips around the handle of his Zanpakutō with his right hand, as his opposite arm rests firmly by the elbow in the sleeve of his robe.

Hiroya's Reiatsu flares out visibly, as it turns from white to a deep blue in but an instant; as two dozen of doves, made of blue flames is seemingly given birth by his Reiryoku, on all of the twenty-four "Doves" a pair of extra wings sprout as they with excessive speed fly out towards the two Shinsengumi members, twelve on each; though one of the ones whom head towards Taro mistakenly hits a tree instead - resulting in a great explosion of blue flames that levels a good deal of the woodland around it; Kenshin and Taro would by that immedeatly deduce the danger of this, pretty but truly devastating spellwork: The shockwave that radiates outward from the spells epicenter picking up and playing with the folds of Hiroya's robe.

As these things happen, Hiroya stands firm at a distance, as he calmly releases his Zanpakutō, he doesn't even need to recite its name before he, and a large portion of the battlefield is sorrounded in dazzling white feathers: Hiroya then begun to stealthily weave odd gestures with his hands, preparing a Kido trap for later no doupt, while his adversaries are busy with the birds.

Kenshin gazed stoically, as the Kido grandmaster unsealed the power of his Zanpakutou. Glancing up he takes note of his comrade. His brow creases in irritation, as he realizes who his aid is. While he does not question the man's power, he believed the man's compassionate nature made him....ill suited for the many tasks the Shinsengumi demanded. But alas, he was here and he would make do.

"Taro Suzuki. You had both surprise and opportunity yet used neither. That compassionate nature of yours will one day be your end." Turning from his ally he regards Hiroya with interest as the latter's spiritual power began to subtlety rise - no doubt casting another spell. Narrowing his eyes, he began his own counterattack. As the doves from Hiroya's release sped towards him.

The doves flew in a seemingly chaotic pattern, as they attempted to bombard Kenshin into a fiery oblivion, and in that instant he allowed his mind expanded as he used his most powerful analytical ability.

Mugen Kuusou! he thought, as the familiar sensation of his very perceptions changed, bending and warping as he drifted around, past and beneath the maelstrom of doves with fluid grace, slipping between their attacks like rain through a sieve. He couldn't see the doves, couldn't predict their attacks, but he knew exactly how he should move to evade the onslaught.

His body unconsciously transitioned from Shunpo to Bakushukuchi, as he glided in a circular path around Hiroya as his body shifted into the darkness, thanks to his Onmitsu Shunpo Shihō no Go - Higurashi. It was obvious he was going to use his more...stealth based techniques and allow Taro Suzuki to deal directly with Hiroya while he setup the first phase of his next attack.

Hiroya frowned deeply as he felt Kenshin's Spiritual fade away to nothing, he had to prevent him from resorting to such tricks in the future - luckily for him though he knew just the spell for that; Hiroya began to chant softly, as his Reiatsu flared out to incredible heights, as he is illuminated by a bright white light - "Tears of a lone maiden, hand of pity; lend thyself to this soul" his voice, albeit soft resounded in about the battleground - as runic symbols begin to form in the air in his immediate vicinity, as his very own Reiatsu begins to slowly move towards him "Blooming orchid, a withering rose" - Taro and Kenshin should neither recognize the spell, which would likely attribute to them wanting to interupt it while they still had the chance.

Tarō, ignoring Kenshin's comments, calmly observed the eleven doves approaching him as well as the one that had collided with the tree, knowing he had to avoid this attack. He could make use of Tobira to absorb and dissipate the attacks elsewhere, but opening portals to deal with each of the doves would tire him far too much to be of any good in a fight against such an opponent. Instead he opened up a much smaller portal in front of himself and in the instant before the doves hit him stepped through the portal to emerge a few feet ahead of his previous position so that the doves were behind him and moving away from him. Acting quickly, he opened up two more doors to create another portal, one right in front of him and another a dozen or so meters below Hiroya. Still holding the orb of spiritual energy in his right hand, he raised both hands to point straight at the open door in front of him released the spell shouting, "Hadō #88. Hiryugekizokushintenraiho." A huge beam of electrical and spiritual energy shot out from his outstretched hands and passing through the portal emerged once more from the other door, flying in towards Hiroya from below.

Hiroya analyzed the attack closely, as Taro executed his complicated techniques, the massive blast of energy shot out from underneath him he simply used Shunpo to relocate himself a few yards away (albeit it cost him his incantation). Hiroya then sighs sadly at the other man "A valiant trick, but you seem to have forgotten something important" almost simultaneously as the words were spoken, the elleven doves of energy turned mid-air and sent course for Taro once more, this time however, the twelve doves whom had originally followed Kenshin joined in the pursuit of Taro as well - making for a total of 23 high-speed missiles.

However, masked by the magical onslaught, Hiroya himself began to breath unsteadily, quite obviously this prolonged use of powerful spells had tired him to a degree. Hiroya quickly moved back to his original spot, the one he had been standing at just before he was forced to move. He began to make vivid hand gestures while he spoke inaudibly before finally slamming his hands together as a bright white flash was seen, and then.. nothing? Though judging from the way Hiroya appeared, his spell had been successful, Hiroya follows this up with an even odder course of action; namely the resealing of his Zanpakuto. What could he be up to?

Kenshin doesnt miss the series of spells Hiroya cast, though even with his "Mugen Kuusou", he had to rely on his own intelligence to determine what their use would be for. Regardless, Hiroya's attention was now divided by two opponents, which would allow him to use the massive levels of ambient spiritual energy to his benefit. To ensure Hiroya wouldnt be able to escape the effect, Kenshin had to make the area of effect rather massive, so he was only able to make one revolution around the battlefield with his speed. Unfortunately so as long as he was using Higurashi he couldnt make any offensive attacks, so he, unfortunately had to rely on Taro Suzuki to keep Hiroya's interest. It wouldnt be long, perhaps two more revolutions before he could initiate his final attack - Kagerou.

As the 23 doves came rushing in towards him, Tarō let go of the Reiryoku gathered below his feet that was enabling him to float in the air. With nothing to hold him up, he plummeted to the ground, picking up speed as he fell. The doves also changed direction and came converging on him from above. As he fell the doves began began closing in, covering a much smaller area then before. Waiting till the very last instant, Tarō drew his blade and slashed once through the air above him, opening a door large enough to engulf all the doves. As they flew in he opened the other end of the portal right above the ground so that the doves had hardly any time to change direction and one after another crashed into the ground. As the energy from the blasts flew outwards, reaching even him, he used the force of it to let himself be pushed upwards, slowing his descent. Steadying himself, he finally came to a stop once more, panting deeply, opening such a large portal and sustaining it as such a large and concentrated amount of spiritual energy passed through it had been draining.

Looking up he was just in time to see a white flash as Hiroya finished casting his spell. Not sensing any effect from the spell, Tarō was immediately cautious as he noticed the satisfied look on Hiroya's face. Using Shunpo, he appeared in front of Hiroya, standing a dozen or so feet away from him. At such close distances the drain on him due to opening his portals would be much less, allowing him to open more of them and at a higher frequency. Opening a door right in front of him, he raised his palm and created a red orb of energy. Releasing it in a concentrated wave straight at the door, he followed it up with nine more such blasts in quick succession, demonstrating his mastery of Shakkahō. But as the blasts flew into the portal, he opened up the other end of the portal at equidistant points on a circle around Hiroya so that each one appeared around him from a different direction. Having slowly moved every successive door a little closer to Hiroya, every one of the energy blasts came converging on Hiroya at the same time.

Hiroya was hit by all of the blasts at once, he had no time to react before he began to fall down towards the ground; however, once it had come halfway, Hiroya's lifeless body dispersed into a cascade of white feathers, which then vanished into the empty air. Taro would however not have the time to ponder for long though, as the real Hiroya appeared at his back, left hand burned moderately, whatever he had done before, he hadn't been quite fast enough in its execution.

Hiroya then mumbled a single word, as he thrust his palm straight forwards towards Taro's exposed back in a quick and fluid motion "Majinya!" (魔ジン, Japanese for Devil-Silver Palm) - while he'd be fully capable of killing Taro with a single shot of this technique, Hiroya unconciously pulled the power of the attack back by a large amount, no doupt, his aim was to incapacitate or severely weaken, rather than to outright kill his opponent.

Kenshin didnt have much time to act, he knew that Taro was momentarily taxed from creating so many portals. Hiding within the shadows, he was thankful that one was nearby. Teleportating to that one, he had only half of a second before Hiroya struck. Using a burst of speed, he appeared, erupting from the darkness below, his sword striking Hiroya's arm just as it connected with Taro's unprotected backside. His Genzoumetsu had removed its augmented damage, though he wasnt sure if he was successful or not. The blow apparently had enough force to propel Taro a few meters away before he managed to twist himself midair and land. Glancing at the wound however it seemed his fears were misplaced - a superficial wound at best.

But with his attention diverted, he was smashed with a downward palm strike by Hiroya directly into his clavicle. Using the force of the blow, he seemingly splashed into the darkness below. Not a moment later, he appeared next to Taro, sprouting from the latters own shadow. He regarded the foe before him, briefly registering Taro's own acknowledgement of the next phase of their attack. They need'nt speak, for words were unnecessary amongst the Shinsengumi. Without a second thought Kenshin charged to the right, his sapphire blade gleaming with a faint light - intent on beginning the own counterattack, as Taro prepared his own. His form wavered for a moment, before splitting into multiple clone like images their blades descending upon Hiroya, as the gentle winds carried a whisper, "Onmitsu Shunpo Shihō no Kyū - Sasori."

Hiroya was hardly unprepared for this attack though, as a Kido Master, he was fully capable of attacking from multiple directions himself, therefore it was quite easier for him to protect from such attacks. With a faint mumbling he spoke "Seishin Nami" - as a powerful wave of Spiritual Energy was released from his body in a 360'degrees blast; while neither Kenshin or the "clones" suffered any damage, the technique managed to keep them away from Hiroya long enough for the clones to naturally expire on their own. Holding Kenshin at bay with the pressure-difference, he proceeded to attack for real, as he spoke once more - a blast of blue flames erupts from his body in another 360'degrees blast, rolling out towards Taro and Kenshin both - though they'd both note that it doesn't seem to be potent, and even if they're hit, they'd likely only suffer moderate burns.

Taro's breathing had become a little labored, the strike to his back had actually done a little more damage than it had seemed. Drawing his blade, he drew in a deep breath to steady himself and prepared for the next attack as Kenshin moved out to begin his own attack. In his current condition he wasn't really in a position to directly harm Hiroya, but he could distract him enough to give Kenshin the chance to strike. Drawing his blade he pointed it straight at Hiroya and once more opened a portal in front of him. As the flames came rushing towards him, Taro himself took a step forward to pass through the portal and appear in front of Hiroya. Making a single slash through the air, he sheathed his blade and rushed forward, using Shunpo in tandem with his mastery of battōjutsu to pass Hiroya and draw his blade and strike at him in one fluid motion. Though he did not expect to seriously harm him in his weakened state, the attack wasn't supposed to hurt him. He had put enough force in it to push him back by at least one step so that when he took that single step backwards his foot would be trapped in the small portal he had opened right behind him with that last slash before sheathing his blade. Immediately flash stepping away to further the distance between them, Taro turned around to see if Hiroya had fallen for his trick or not.

He had, Hiroya had managed to block the blow of Taro just in time, but this also left him in a bad situation as the portal clamped around his leg and thus immobilized him, however, Hiroya countered this to a slight degree by sorrounding the entrapped foot with a protective Kido spell, the alien influence would also disable Taro from closing the barrier (which would effectively have cut Hiroya's foot off) - despite these precautions though, all that Hiroya could do for now was to protect himself with Barriers and hope that he'd be able to handle Kenshin's next attack. He hated to admit it, but for now, he was indeed trapped.

Kenshin immediately realized how fortuitous the situation was, but relented in springing his attack. Instead with Hiroya so distracted he could concentrate on wittling down the latters defenses, and continue his revolutions around the Kido master. Gripping his blade with renewed focus, Kenshin lunged forward, his form a misty haze as he danced around Hiroya, as he once again shifted into his assassination technique - Sasori. Appearing as nothing more than a series of translucent phantoms, he attacked the immobilized rogue shinigami with impunity, attacking from all sides and angles aimed at numerous vitals.

Hiroya was hit by all of the attacks straight on, the barriers protected him from any bodily harm though. Though when Kenshin's attack had ceased, his defenses was all but destroyed. Hiroya's face took on an unfamiliar appearance, as his brilliantly blue eyes flashed with something - desperation or fear perhaps? His newfound resolve was released as a wave of white Reiatsu, that while harmless to his assailants served to push them back quite some feet, giving Hiroya range.

They barely had time to readjust their weight before a dozen of golden chains appeared seemingly from empty air, five of the chains headed for Kenshin; as the first four attempted to wrap themselves tightly around his legs and arms, before securing themselves firmly to the ground. The fifth chain would then attempt to wrap itself around his neck and yank it backwards with great force, in an effort to instantly break it, and end his struggling. As this happens, a sixth rope would attempt to lock itself around his arms in an effort to completely immobilize him, however.. the chain that would go for his neck seems to move much slower than the rest of the chains, which serves to prove Hiroya's hesitation to kill.

Tarō's situation was similiar to that of Kenshin: Four golden chains attempted to grab hold of his arms, though in his case, the fifth and sixth chain floated about him, ready to move at a moments notice if he should attempt to evade, or otherwise get away from one of the chains: Tarō would also note that the ends of the first four chains were bound to trees, most likely in order to "stretch" him, should he be caught. Though Tarō would also note that Hiroya very likely only wanted to incapacitate him, as killing with this method would stride to heavily against the Rogue Shinigami's generally non-brutal ways.

Though, to both of them it had become painfully obvious, Hiroya was getting serious.

Upon the release of Hiroya's spiritual power, Kenshin leapt back, being carried back the force a ways away. Kenshin's spiritual senses were finely tuned, so much so that he detected the hidden fluctations, evidence that Hiroya was using the burst of spiritual power to mask his spells. And just as he expected golden spiritual chains manifested, slithering through the air with incredible speed towards his person.

Uttering an incantation a circular shimmering barrier surrounded Kenshin, as the golden chains crashed into it, causing glass-like tears from the points of impact. Yet they continued to smash against his barrier seemingly with a mind of their own. However it was the fifth chain that broke through his barrier in an attempt to wrap itself around his exposed neck. The sneak attack struck true, only for the visage of Kenshin to fade away - an after-image.

The real Kenshin had appeared unscathed, as he charged low to the ground weaving through other chains as they desperately tried to reach him, his target a scant four paces within his reach. His blade glowed briefly before shooting forward, bending and twisting like a snake quickly closing the distance between Kenshin and Hiroya.

"Sasori: Sokuchiken" the words low and harsh, as he the blade suddenly multiplied into over a dozen as Kenshins form once again became like that of a phantom brigade descending upon Hiroya.

Hiroya made a sweeping movement of his hand as a white array of lights appeared around him; and Kenshin discovered to his shock that his technique vanished, every one of the phantoms were simply erased out of existance - and while Kenshin was still vulnerable in mid-attack Hiroya closed the remainder of the distance to rush towards him, his hand bright with his Spiritual Power as he attembs to slam the charged palm straight into Kenshin's chest, guided by a single word: "Majinya".

Tarō reacted almost instantly as the chains flew out towards him, he once more slashed his blade through the air and spoke the command to initiate his response, "Tobira". But this time instead of one, four doors appeared around him, boxing him in completely so that the approaching chains passed into them. The two other chains also moved in as soon as he activated his move but even they were unable to reach him before the doors opened up around him. A few moments later he released the doors, the chains having been dispersed elsewhere. His breath now coming in even longer gasps than before, he once more turned his attention towards Hiroya. He was just in time to see him moving in towards Kenshin. Seeing his opportunity, he made the decision to move in at once. He didn't really have many options left, he was already tired from opening all those portals and it would be better if the fight got over sooner rather than later. Betting most of his remaining energy on his next attack, he opened up one more portal and ran in, emerging immediately behind Kenshin. Pulling him in just as Hiroya's blow landed, he thrust his other hand forwards at Hiroya and generated a purple-black concentration spiritual energy spoke "Hadō #90. Kurohitsugi". He hoped that is the spell worked then the using it without the incantation would keep it's power in check enough so as to incapacitate Hiroya and not kill him.

A Beautiful FinaleEdit

Hiroya's form was shrounded in the black energy for a moment, as the spell convulsed and formed into a large black box, entrapping him, his eyes darted about in confusion before he vanished in the darkness, as several black spears of energy impaled the coffin at various points, before it dissipated.. the two combatants would be surprised to find that Hiroya was nowhere to be seen, though the white feathers had returned - and now they danced about the battle field in the thousands, at the place where Hiroya once stood the feathers began to clot together, before slowly.. like pieces to a puzzle Hiroya was recreated in his previous image. As he emerged from the feathers he bore a face of amazement, this was seemingly new to him as well.

Hiroya had by no means escaped Taro's attack unscathed though, his clothing was ragged and ruined and blotches of blood covered it at many places. Hiroya looked around at the feathers that encircled them, before he sighed "Gentlemen, you leave me no choice.. I'm sorry, I'll make your demise painless. But I cannot allowyo to live." Hiroya sounded sincerely distraught by this, and he flashed a warm smile at them before he raised his hand once more. Then it happened..

The fleeting array of feathers turned violet, and then they began to.. leak? Small droplets of liquified Spiritual Energy fell down upon the soil, however where they fell, nothing remained, everything was consumed in momentary violet blazes. Hiroya's soft voice resounded "Sattō Haien" (Flood, Abolishing Flames).

The droplets began to multiple by the thousands until a small lakes worth of violet liquid covered Hiroya's half of the battlefield - another addition had been made too, an enormous barrier that locked all of them in place, and defended the outside world from their battle. It would be instantly recognized as Bakudo #91 Doumu.

Hiroya made a vague movement with his hand as the massive worth of violet liquid, the spell resonated with his movement and it immediately rose up into the air like a huge tidal wave before crashed down towards the two Shinsengumi members, and as it approached the danger became immediately emmient, even at this range, the heat was so immense that their skin was subjected to gradual burns which would only get worse the closer they got to it - they would then quickly deduce that whatever they did, it was going to be really painful.

Hiroya watched on from afar as the large mass of violet liquid threw itsef at his foes like water brushing against a rock... this was the beginning of the end.

---

Kenshin stared in wonder at the display of magical prowess by Hiroya, the tsunami of violet molten liquid rising into the air, was a testatment to the man's ingenuity. But like all techniques, Kenshins "Mugen Kuusou" could see it its truest form as though it were a feed of data. In an instant he had determined its power, an impressive level at that, but he knew what he had to do. Bursting into action, he used Bakushukuchi to close the distance, before turning and moving rapidly in a circular pattern. The ambient heat and spiritual energy providing more than enough pressure, as he finished his technique. With a mighty leap he soared into the air pouring his own spiritual energy in a corkscrew as he yelled, "TAIFUU SHOUTEN!".

A low rumbling was the only warning, before the occupants were hit with a deafening howl. Powerful winds, fierce and wild formed beneath Kenshin, and began to rapidly expand, consuming all within its reach, the maelstrom growing to titanic proportions. It clashed violently against the Sattō Haien, as the amethyst liquid was buffeted, and sucked away into the chaotic funnel. The attack hadn't been neutralized, but Kenshin's own attack had provided a viable defense. An azure blade cut through the storm, as Kenshin leapt from the calm of the storm. As soon he touched ground, he was already on the move, intent on destroying the barrier.

---

Hiroya stood in the Maelstrom of energy, his last barriers the only thing that prevented him from being ripped along with the flow. He had never used this particular technique in battle to this date, but there had to be a first for everything with a voice that was heavy with melancholy he spoke "Bankai.. Ihakuchō Nehan!" (偉白鳥涅槃, Great Swan, Nirvana): A gigantic burst of Spiritual Energy was released from his being, the sudden change in Spiritual Energy caused the great whirlwind to fall out of balance, as while it was capable of absorbing Reiryoku - this time, it simply was too much of it, it was thus ripped apart by the contradicting flows.


File:White bird.jpg

As the wind cleared Hiroya was revealed to stand atop a great white bird, the bird greatly resembled a white version of the classical Hō-oh. Or to some, one of the Chinese Fenghuang - and while Hiroya stood there his Reiryoku seemed to grow immensly, before it.. vanished?

Hiroya stood calmly there for a moment, appraising the current situation. It was silent, except for the heavy beats of the creatures great wings, he spotted Kenshin running for the barrier but the moment his sword hit it.. nothing happened, the Barrier was strenghtened by his current power. Which at this point far exceeded that of his Shikai.

Hiroya spoke softly once more "Please don't destroy the barrier, if you do that there'll be many more casualties than just the two of you" Hiroya then blurred for a moment before he abruptly stood by Kenshin's side, right hand going in for a powerful palm strike towards his back: And Kenshin would by that deduce that after the release of his Bankai, his speed had increased tremendously.

---

Tarō stood panting on the ground below as the two combatants fought on. He had been forced to overexert himself to avoid that last attack, using Bakudō # 81. Danku (斷空, Splitting Void) to protect himself. Since then he had been observing Hiroya's movements following his Bankai's release and had noticed the significant increase it had undergone. Deciding to test his speed still further, he opened a portal small enough to transport only him and stepped in. He was tired but still had some juice left in him. He opened up a total of sixteen doors, arranged around an imaginary sphere with Hiroya and Kenshin at the center. He emerged from one of the doors and making use of Shunpo and battōjutsu, slashed out at Hiroya with a highly powerful physical attack before continuing his forward motion and disappearing into another door. He repeated the process again, this time appearing from below and vanishing into another door. He paused then within his portal, checking to see if he had been able to inflict any damage to Hiroya or the barrier around him.

As Tarō approached to attack, white feathers materialized in the path of his sword, preventing it from cutting him, the same procedure happened the second time. Seemingly, Shirohane's claim of being one of the most effective Defense-Type Zanpakutō was far from overrated. Hiroya, reaizing the danger of his situstion proceeds to vanish in a sudden powerful vacuum, reappearing atop the Great white birds back, and with his free hands, he summons forth four large birds, presumably eagles, made entirely up of blue flames - four extra pairs of wings grow out from their backs, as they - almost too fast for the eye to follow proceed to fly down towards Kenshin and Taro, two one each. And judging by how much Hiroya's power has grown since he started using his Bankai. It'd be safe to assume that a direct hit from them would be very dangerous, and likely semi-fatal.

---

Kenshin had been saved from Hiroya's sudden attack as Taro intervened. He doubted he would have been able to dodge the attack in its entirety and would have suffered significant damage. He watched with interest as Taro began his own assault against Hiroya, only to be foiled by that thrice damned defense. Hiroya appeared above them on his summoned avatar, and he could feel the amount of power he had put into the fiery doves. "In this state, I won't be able to fight Hiroya head on, however...that is also my speciality. As Hiroya's doves sped towards him, he darted to a nearby shadow, timing his leap with the impact of the Hiroya's attack.

As the doves collided, detonating in a furious explosion of molten rock, Kenshin had already phased into the shadow. When the dust settled, there wasnt a trace of his physical body left and his spiritual signature had dropped significantly until it too was no more. To any observer, it was as though he had been destroyed in the attack.

But unbeknownst to everyone, Kenshin found himself in what appeared to be an inversed shadowy version of their battlefield. This was the realm if you could call it, that Kenshin moved through whenever he made use of his Higurashi. A sort of transparent spiritual realm where darkness reigned supreme. To his chagrin however, that barrier Hiroya erected was still in effect. But he would deal with that later. He observed Hiroya's reaction, noting the latter's surprise that his attack had seemingly worked.

With his plan in place he traversed the darkness until he reached what appeared to be a body of black ichor-like water, cast off by Hiroya himself. Sinking into the black pool, he arose back in the Human World only his upper torso visible from Hiroya's shadow, as he attempted a sneak attack against demon arts grandmaster. I'll limit his mobility first. He thought as he swung his blade. A soft hum accompanied downward strike, as he unleashed his technique, Nadegiri, intending to cut both the rogue shinigami and summon in one strike.

As Kenshin made his move, the feathers rushed in the path of the blade to protect him from the attack, and while it took some effort to do so it was largely successful, afterwards the feathers would attempt to swirl around the blade of his Zanpakuto and forcibly rip it out of his hands. While this spectacle unfolded, Hiroya slowly turned around to point a single finger on Kenshin's torso, and with a supressed sigh he released a wave of force, very similiar to that of a Shō spell, and if that is corrected - the sheer force at this range would likely blast away the entirety of his torso in quite a gruesome manner.

---

Tarō suddenly stepped out from a door in the sky so that Kenshin was now directly in between Hiroya and him. He had teleported past Hiroya's past attack using one of his smaller portals and used the subsequent time to prepare for his next move. His appearance was followed by the appearance of another door in the sky, this one in between Kenshin and Hiroya. Catching Kenshin's forearm, Tarō tossed him into the door and vanished within it himself to reappear in the ground below them. At the same time, as Hiroya launched his attack, the second door in front of him opened up to swallow it followed by the immediate appearance of another door right behind Hiroya which released the full burst of his own attack right back at him. Maybe his own attack could harm harm the defenses they could not.

Hiroya's eyes widened in surprise as his own Sho spell shot a clear line straight trough his body, creating a large hole and sending a huge gush of blood forwards, his body soon fell.. down from the bird as the massive creature released a screech of agony before dispersing into countless feathers.. which fell along with him. He landed with a thud far below, as his feathers disipated into nothing, a white aura shining from his corpse, as his Reiatsu began steadily dropping.

Taking a welcomed breath of air, Kenshin nods to Taro as thanks, before regarding Hiroya's fallen form only for the briefest of seconds. "I doubt that this is the end. As a master of demon magic....I wouldn't be surprised if he had a contingency spell in place. In any case, Taro, scan the surrounding area, I'll destroy the corpse. This is either a distraction, or he's buying time to escape. We can't let him get away." Without waiting for a reply he appeared next to the supposed "corspe". Raising his zanpakutou he prepared to destroy the corpse with one final attack. And so it happened.. the corpse were completely destroyed by the attack, Taro would in turn manage to pick up on an odd sensation, which came from a good three kilometers away from their current location:

Hiroya, still in his Bankai-enhanced state sped out towards an unknown location - the sheer speed he moved with would make tracking him extremely difficult in all situations - however, due to the fact that his Spiritual Power had become undetectable due to the tremendous increase his power after his Bankai, it was even harder than that - they discovered however, that the enormous barrier was gone - and Hiroya had most likely taken the chance to flee while they were preoccupied with the bird and the decoy: They could catch up with him if they really wanted to, but it'd strain them greatly to do so, no doupt.

Tarō stretched himself outwards, searching for Hiroya's presence. He was hiding himself, that much was certain, but Tarō was not about to let him go easily. Blocking out everything but how he remembered Hiroya's spiritual pressure to be, he finally honed in on him. Opening his eyes, he moved down to where Kenshin was and drew his sword, "That wasn't him, it seems he is every bit as strong as he is put up to be." Holding up his right arm he pressed his palm on an imaginary surface and pushed back a door in front of him, "Tobira". Stepping up to the door he pointed Kenshin in, "After you." A few moments later the two of them appeared in the sky some distance ahead of Hiroya, blocking his path.

---

Hiroya continued to move towards the location, though he was already aware of their ambush - he didn't know why but for some reason his senses always increased whenever he was in a bit of a pinch. As he ran his soft voice resounded quietly "Ye lord! Mask of flesh and bone, flutter of wings, ye who bears the name of Man!" As houndreds of blue specks of light began to swirl around from his Reiatsu, molding together to take the forms of roughly 100 doves of Spiritual Energy - Hiroya's voice resounded once more" Truth and temperance, upon this sinless wall of dreams unleash but slightly the wrath of your claws." each of the doves expanded violently in size, each of them now being roughly the size of an eagle, and their destructive properties heightened to incredible levels due to Hiroya's incantation, as two extra pairs of wings formed on each of their backs - Hiroya resigned himself to merely a slim hope, his adversaries had surrived everything he threw at them: Please, let this work! Damnit. The birds shot speed and vanished all at once, invisible to the naked eye - though the enormous quantity of Reiatsu was unmistakenly theirs, and it headed straight for Taro and Kenshin, their great power and their number would make dodging them all seem almost hopeless, no doupt.

---

"Taro." Kenshin said turning to the face his ally. "I'll clear a path. Use this opportunity to find an opening. He's getting desperate....we're close. Lets finish this." His form disappeared, as he charged forward in an azure blur, intent on meeting Hiroya's attack head on.

In that instant his perceptions warped, his eyes glowing brightly with white light. Mugen Kuusou already at work, calculating every movement of each blazing dove that sped towards him. So it comes to this? Very well, but it will take more than kido to stop me!" With a defiant shout, he screamed the name of his technique, feeling its subtle energies course through his body, as raw instinct took over.

"KABUTO!!!" His mind and body became one, all thoughts fading without a trace, as his face became an iron mask, devoid of all emotion. The next moment, he and the barrage of kido met.

---

With a downwards swing he brought the full might of his being to bear, as a faint blue beam of light, no thicker than his blade was released in the wake of his attack, destroying a dozen of the illuminated doves on impact. Shifting to his right, he slid past several more, twisting and turning as they bombarded him, narrowly missing his nimble frame.

His sword arm blurred, as it connected with another causing it to dissipate on contact, yet another dove slipped after his strike, intent on blowing up in his face. With impossible speed he pivoted mid-swing, its fiery flames leaving a thin scorch across his cheek as he barely dodged in time, his blade trailing after before it made contact causing another to shatter.

Each second brought him closer to death, as wave after wave of doves shot forward from all directions. He couldn't see their movements, couldn't predict their angles of attack, but he knew exactly how he needed to move. Like water, he flowed around the attacks, his zanpakutou not even visible due to the sheer speed he was maneuvering it at, slicing and tearing apart the blazing doves with relentless ferocity.

Having enough of his defensive position, he launched into the air, only to find the doves homing in on him, the flock undisturbed by his sudden movement. They spiraled together gaining increased velocity, and when they were near, opted for detonation. But Kenshin was faster, appearing nothing more than a phantom, he flickered from space to space, as a trail of explosions resounded in the air, as he flew upwards in a steep arc. Turning around, he was forced to use his zanpakutou to aid in his escape, cutting through any dove that got too close.

But Hiroya was no fool, as a second volley intercepted Kenshin from his flank. But that was the secret behind Kabuto it granted Kenshin an almost precognitive awareness, forcing his body to move at speeds as massive amounts of spiritual energy was channeled to maintain the technique. With ungodly speed, his sword flashed outward, blocking and deflecting nearby doves. Explosions tore through the air, buffeting the Shinsengumi, yet he still maintained his agility, using the concussive force to twist and turn around the attacks that would have surely destroyed him outright. But his body was being pushed to its limits, and his technique was beginning to fade.

An explosion to his left was close enough that the force alone, along with his slip in defenses broke through his guard, long enough for a nearby dove to collide with his unprotected backside. Gritting his teeth, he tried to reorient himself, only to be blasted again, from the other side, causing him to crash downward into the ground. Not a second later, more doves smashed into the crater, their powers compounding into a grand eruption of epic proportions.

Yet out of the smoke, a figure darted, zig-zagging through the downpour of birds that sought to finish him once and for all. His backside was terribly burned, nothing more than a black scorch, with various minor burns and soot all across his body. But still he fought, the continuous explosions ringing through the air. He had already fought through two-thirds of Hiroya's attack, and the last flock was quickly making gains on his location. With this, Taro finally had his opening, and he could only hope that his ally would take it. Swerving to the side, he dodged another dove, his intent clear, as he was held off this last stand.

---

Hiroya was scared, his knees shook in fear as the figure danced trough the brilliant haze of detonating avians --- scared, and why yes, almost hypnotized in fact. He had thought it impossible that someone could survive getting hit by one of these birds much less... this was completely ridicolous! When the immense onslaught had begun to die down and the object of his terror walked across the charred and cracked battleground towards him, Hiroya was halfway motivated to turn on his feets and flee -- in this state he could likely outrun them if he only tried hard enou- no, it was no use: One of his opponents had some means of teleportation, he'd only waste energy trying to run from that; forcefully calming his mind down he proceeded to speak.

Despite the relatively great distance between each and every fighter, Hiroya's voice reached both of his pursuers flawlessly - the words seemingly coming from everywhere at once, it arose from the very earth they threaded on and was whispered trough the gentle breeze that still found its way onto the battlefield --- and for a few disconcerting movements, Hiroya would appear to be almost omnipresent as if he was standing next to them and talking to each of them directly: "It has seemed that we've reached an impasse, I had hoped to incapacitate you with my earlier spell and then flee once you were unconcious; that way --- all of us could survive this day, but I'm afraid you're simply too skilled for me to think about sparing your lives; before we proceed with the finale; allow me to apologize for what I'm now about to do."

By now, the battlefield had been completely saturated by the spiritual energy of the combatants, all the energy they had previously released doused the forest and that could prove to be very useful indeed. Making use of his spiritual control, he seized hold of as many volumes of spiritual energy he could influence at any one time and casted his spell --- and as he did, his voice resounded in the ears of Taro and Kenshin "Jikanteishi!", their world then went completely black as the spell took its hold.

Hiroya watched with unease as he saw time itself stagger completely to a halt at his command --- Kami how unnerving and frightening it was to wield this kind of power, it was completely wrong --- it certainly didn't help on his conciousness that he as the former commander of the Kidō Corps knew just too well why the spell was forbidden to cast, despite what most believed Jikanteishi didn't merely halt time in a single area specified by the caster, no - it permanently shunted time forward three seconds to provide for the spells duration ---a small number if viewed on a theoretic basis - but during these three seconds time simply didn't exist, or rather - it was ignored. Meaning that any child destined to be birthed during these three seconds would always be stillborn - and anyone meant to die during this time would have their souls erased upon departure; thereby weakening the boundary between the worlds.

Time didn't matter here, and so Hiroya proceeded to reposition and divide his remaining doves, now numbering a meager 33 in number, around Kenshin and Taro; 13 around Kenshin, all of them positioned in the form of a perfect cylinder to allow for an omni-directional attack not unlike Kenshin's Sasori technique --- once Jikanteishi ended they would all charge at him at once and attempt to detonate synchronously. Hiroya positioned the remaining 20 around Taro Suzuki, the man having been caught by Jikanteishi midways in an elegant leap -- no doubt meant to draw him within immediate range of Hiroya himself --- the Doves were distributed in a cylinder around him as well, with the last five being kept suspended away from the other doves in order to instantly locate and track Taro down and detonate should he use his Zanpakuto to avoid the first wave.

Hiroya then used Kyokko to mask his energy and make himself invisible, just before Jikanteishi's duration ended; Hiroya would then take advantage of his former adversaries unmistakable confusion in order to make a clear escape; not wanting to stay around to bare witness to the destruction and anguish he had just released upon the two boys. Even as he dashed trough the forest at impressive speeds ----an inner, lamenting and regretful voice spoke softly; Hiroya, how many child lives do you think you just stole with that spell?... Murderer.

---

When the effects of Jikanteishi vanished, for a fraction of a second Tarō was disoriented. Just a moment ago he had been moving towards Hiroya, a clear path open in front of him, Hiroya speaking as Tarō rushed froward. And then he had uttered that spell's name and the next thing Tarō knew, Hiroya was gone and Tarō himself was surrounded by a flock of those damn doves. As he stopped his forward motion, he noticed that Kenshin was in a similar predicament, though he had a fewer number of doves to deal with. Tarō had known just how powerful Hiroya was, had heard tales of his legendary Kidō skills, but for him to have actually used Jikanteishi was something that incensed Tarō to his very core. He knew the cost of such a spell, the effect it had the world around them. But at the same time some part of him knew that Hiroya himself must feel the same way about using the spell, the way that Hiroya had carried himself during this battle, erecting that barrier as much to trap them in as protect those without, he didn't seem like someone who would take such a drastic step unless he had no other option. It was in a way a testament of Kenshin and Tarō's own battle proficiency that such a drastic step had to be taken. The very fact that he and Kenshin were still alive should have been a matter of pride, something to tell the grand-kids, and Tarō hated it.

But now was not the time to let his mind wander, there were still those doves to deal with. As the first wave came in towards him, Tarō stood perfectly still and let his sword hand drop, Shukuchi's blade lightly pressing against the side of his leg as the doves came to within feet of him. He knew then what he had to do, in his current state there was only one thing that he could think of doing. As deep purple, almost black, spiritual energy began oozing out from his body, he began speaking in a soft, almost undecipherable voice, "Seeping crest of turbidity. Arrogant vessel of lunacy! Boil forth and deny! Grow numb and flicker! Disrupt sleep! Crawling queen of iron! Eternally self-destructing doll of mud! Unite! Repulse! Fill with soil and know your own powerlessness!"

Just as the first wave was about to crash into him he uttered the words that activated the spell, Hadō #90. Kurohitsugi. A Kurohitsugi into which Tarō was putting almost, but not quite, all of his spiritual powers, he used this one to target himself. Two dark boxes of pure black energy formed around Tarō and surrounded him within the two layers of spiritually strengthened gravity altering energy. The doves crashed into the outer box and fifteen huge explosions appeared across the surface of the box, ultimately shattering it. But though Tarō had been protected from the first wave of the doves, he still had the remaining doves to deal with and there was the matter of the spears of energy that came piercing towards him on the inside of his own spell. Closing his eyes, he uttered one more word, putting all of his remaining energy into this last move, Tobira. A number of small portals opened up around him and absorbed most of the spears that had come to impale him. The other end of portals then opened up outside the remaining box of Kurohitsugi and pierced outwards in all directions, some of them colliding with the remaining five doves and causing them to explode.

As the dust from the numerous explosions finally settled, Tarō was left standing on the ground, his clothes in tatters, bleeding from innumerable cuts all over his body, his right hand so badly injured that he couldn't even move it. But he as alive, just barely so, but alive nonetheless. He had avoided most of the spears from the first box and the second box had protected him from the explosion from the second wave of doves. But his energy had not been enough to prevent all the spears from the second box and he had only just been able to avoid enough of them to prevent fatal injuries. His breath coming in in painful bursts, he involuntarily fell to a knee, his hands shaking from fatigue. He knew that he should try pursuing Hiroya, even though he knew he was long since gone, and try and help Kenshin, but he was spent, with barely enough energy left to prevent himself from loosing consciousness. Taking a deep, steadying breath, he looked up and turned towards where Kenshin had been, hoping that his comrade had survived as well.

---

The moment the spell's effect vanished, Kenshin had nearly charged forward in a rage. His was an existence beyond the understanding of most Shinigami, and with his unique power Mugen Jijitsu, while he was all too trapped in the effect he was very much aware. With that knowledge came an almost primal fear. For an opponent to possess that kind of power? It was...it was inconcievable, incomprehensible! Their orders were to capture and detain, yet this man, who fancied himself a saint, would sink so low as to use such a spell to escape. To Kenshin, it was the ultimate betrayal of the self, a cowardice that was the epitome of sin itself.

Pathetic.

Yet he truly could not find disgust for his adversary, only...pity. Unfortunately he had used up what little time he had left seeing as his opponent had launched one last desperate gambit against them. As the doves dived towards them, he realized how desperate Hiroya had been, given their tactical positioning and proximity. This wasnt an attack to harm---it was to delay. No amount of speed would have allowed him to escape the resulting the explosion, and given his present condition, he doubted he could muster the necessary strength. Yet the Shinsengumi remained calm and stoic, his Mugen Jijitsu instantly analyzing the attack as his mind formulated the most appropiate defense. After a moment of deliberation, he had his plan.

His form blurred into motion, as he began rotating at incredible speeds, as the doves neared, and at first it seemed his stunt would do little good, but as the doves drew closer, they found themselves gradually shifting from their flight path, as the winds kicked up by Kenshin's modified Ryuu Tengai began to manifest. Ordinarily Ryuu Tengai used the differing spiritual pressures to generate a powerful maelstrom of winds whose strength was directly proportionate to the difference and magnitude of the opposing spiritual power. In this way is primarily an offensive based technique. Yet in this situation, by rotating on his own axis, Kenshin was able to focus the powerful winds, and condense them into a singular point. With this, the spiraling doves found their flight path diverted into a continous rotating pattern.

All that was left was for Kenshin to finalize the technique with an upward leap as his zanpakutou flashed in a deadly tornado of flickering glass, slicing into the doves, disintegrating them one by one. Without their master to guide them, Kenshin's Gensō Metsu had free reign to negate their explosive effect and absorb the dispersed spiritual energy. In a magnificent display of swordsmanship, he cut through the spiraling winds and the last of the doves, as he hovered in the air, sword still shimmering with light. He landed on the ground surveying the surroundings, and into the worrisome gaze of Tarō Suzuki.

He noted that his own attack had been significantly less troublesome than his ally, but at the very least they had both survived. Stretching out his spiritual awareness, he could no longer sense the presence of Hiroya.

He escaped. He thought. It wasn't a question, rather a statement of fact. Turning his attention towards his comrade once more, he made his over to the half-smiling Shinsengumi.

"Shouldn't we pursue him?" Taro asked. Injured as they were, Hiroya had been pushed into a deadly corner, utilzing some of his most powerful abilities. Whilst neither had released their Bankai. If push came to shove, Taro was confident that even in their present condition, they could obtain a decisive victory over Hiroya.

"No. I can no longer sense his presence. He's gone. Our intel did not suggest that his Kido prowess would be as great as it was." He responded.

"What of further search parties?" Taro dreaded any of his subordinates having to face a being of that caliber.

Kenshin didnt even have to read his allies mind to detect the worried tone in his words. "Negative." He began, noting the look of relief on Taro's features. "I'm going to recommend a "flee-on-sight" order for all of the lower-ranking members. He is far too powerful to be approached by anything less another team of Captains."

Taro frowned, but nonetheless agreed on Kenshin's assesment. Given that they had both fought him before and lived to tell the tale. If there was going to be another operation, chances were they would be leading the assault. Satisifed with Kenshin's answer, Taro wordlessly opened a Senkaimon Gate to the Shinsengumi HQ.

A moment later the pair was gone.

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