[K] Day Two-Five: Road to Archmage

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Kaze

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Day Two Chapter Two: The Mountain Climb (1,003 words)

Quickly putting on the special suit made for the kidoushuu members, Zalin realized he was going to be late to meet at the trail up to the mountains that the Wall would be taking place in. Once he had the uniform on and zipped all the way up and the gloves on his hands, Zalin then put on over the suit his normal uniform to keep himself warm for when they would reach the cold top of the mountains. As he looked at the boots to the kidoushuu suit, Zalin rolled his eyes and put them on last.

Having everything else he needed inside his side bag, Zalin grabbed it and slung it over to his left shoulder and let the bag hang on his right side while his zanpakutou was on its usual left side. Leaving his tent, he looked around and allowed himself once last look at the camp he'd be leaving before activating the kakuremino on his right shoulder. Once he felt ready and had taken a deep breath, Zalin walked towards the direction of the trail to the mountains.

Zalin walked up the trail towards the back of the group from the Kidoushuu. He had made it to the trail on time and had listened to the short speech given before their departure. Even though he could have walked up closer to the others, Zalin preferred to walk by himself for a while. The chill of the mountains was held back some by his normal uniform, and the boots kept the cold snow he occasionally stepped in from making his feet cold.

At least its not bitter cold yet. Zalin commented in his thoughts. I hope I can assist the Kidoushuu as best as I can in this cold area. I wonder, will my data terminal be alright being in this cold region? I would hate to have to repair it later because I accidentally allowed it to get frozen.

It shouldn't be that hard to repair, once you get back to the Seireitei of course. Then again, I doubt it will get damaged because of the cold. Kageboushi spoke to Zalin in his mind as Zalin continued to walk up the trail.

Yes, but if it does I have to pay for the components this time. Last time it was my assignment to work on it, this time it would be a personal repair. Anyways, I hope we reach the campsite soon. I am starting to feel colder. Zalin began to shiver some as they came into a colder area of the mountains with more snow.

When this battle starts, you realize you are not going to be getting very much sleep. Be glad it's cold to keep you awake when you are performing your task. Kageboushi said to Zalin then went silent.

"I may not get much sleep, but I at least have something to look forward to from all of this." Zalin said under his breath then went to search through his side bag for a scarf or something to keep him slightly warmer.

It was beginning to become dark as Zalin continued his walk up the trail. He had found a scarf in his side bag and wrapped it around his neck. Zalin had not noticed oddly any hollows as they had gone up the trail, even though he could sense to a point a faint reiatsu of hollows somewhere on the range. Shrugging it off as he tried to keep his mind off the cold, Zalin decided to try and view the scenery around him.

Zalin almost immediately regretted thinking of using that activity to get his mind off the cold, the snow covered mountain just kept yelled cold to him. Shaking his head as he turned his gaze to in front of him, he focus on the only goal he had for that moment: making it to the place where camp would be set up. Increasing his speed slightly as he walked, Zalin noticed as the sky continued to just get darker and darker.

"...The illusion of darkness is that it is believed temporary, when in fact because days are segregated by their night it is truly realized day is temporary. Everything begins in darkness then enters light. Yet if we are not aware of darkness, are we still standing in light? Or are we in an unknown force which it neither light nor darkness? Who is to say except one who exists outside of light and darkness?" Zalin began to say under his breath as the thoughts entered his mind, bring him to stream of consciousness thinking.

Don't even try that thought. There is no way anyone can answer such questions. As you stated, everything begins in darkness then enters the light. It is such a grand metaphor, in one case it means all begin blind then see and in another it can even mean you begin without certain knowledge than receive it. Kageboushi commented almost sounding amused by Zalin's thoughts.

"Ah, but it is good to ponder on questions which we have no chance of answering at a certain time. It is quite helpful to show us how our capacity of thinking has come, how far outside of the box some have reached." Zalin whispered as he laughed for a moment.

To Zalin's surprise, when he quickly looked ahead he found that they had finally reached the place where camp would be set up. A feeling of relief came to Zalin as he increased his speed again to catch up with the others. Once he had gotten up to the rest of the group, he helped to set up several of the tents then watched as a camp fire was made to keep the area warmer than usual.

"I feel tired; I think I'll just turn in now so I can be rested enough for the upcoming battle in the morning." Zalin said to himself then entered his tent and wrapped up in a blanket before lying down on his cot.
 

Kaze

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Day Three Chapter One: The Storm Cometh(1,019 words)

Zalin stood near the edge of the mountain he was on with several others who were assigned to that location for the Wall. Watching down towards the valley below him, Zalin watched as the battle was being fought by his fellow shinigami from the Intitial Strike and as the Javelin slowly moved into the valley. It seemed too calm in the mountains in Zalin's opinion, but he knew the storm would be coming soon to all in the Wall.

He listened carefully as he was looking down towards the major part of the fight. At any moment he needed to be ready to attack hollows in proximity of his location to slow down their reinforcements and keep the volume of the hollows attacking his comrades down in the valley. Breathing slowly, he suddenly heard something in the distance making him turn along with others to verify what was coming.

"Air borne hollows coming in from the west." Zalin said as he and the others in his location prepared to cast kidou at the hollows. "On my mark, half cast just in front of them then when the hollows are confused the other half cast right on them. Ready...Now!"

As the first half of the group cast their kidou in front of the air borne hollows, Zalin the rest of the second half watched for the right time to strike the confused hollows. As some dust clear in the sky, he noticed the hollows looking around desperately for where the attack had originated. Raising his right arm up, Zalin aimed for one of the hollows which were just noticing the group on the mountain.

"Hadou #44, Raiden!" Zalin bypassed the incantation and cast the large beam of lightning at his mark.

As Zalin cast his spell, the rest took this as the sign to also attack and cast their specific kidou to take out their targets. Watching his spell hit, Zalin first saw his target fall and disperse then saw as several more also found this fate. The remaining hollows that survived the blow of the kidou continued to come at the group, but those from the first half were ready and cast their own spells at the hollows taking them out, much like soldiers in war that took turns firing at the enemy.

"Sir, another group is coming from the east." One of the shinigami yelled then everyone else turned to see the other group of hollows coming.

"Alright, this time those who sent the initial attack will attack directly while those who directly attacked before will send the attack too confuse the hollows." Zalin directed as he and the group prepared again to cast their kidou. "Again on my mark, ready...now! Hadou #33, Soukatsui!"

Zalin and the rest of the half he was in cast just in front of the hollows, which work for several moments to confuse the hollows but they then immediately came at the group. Surprised by the hollows quickly realization of where they were being attacked from, the other half attacked and took out quite a bit of the hollows but a hand full still came at them as the dust cleared. His half tried to cast again, but the hollows were already upon them.

"Everyone, take them on in groups. We need to quickly dispatch them before another group can go by." Zalin yelled as he drew his zanpakutou then went after a hollow with two others of the group.

While the other two with him blocked the hollow's attacks, Zalin went right for the mask. To his surprise the hollow formed a tentacle on its back and swatted him back. Going at the tentacle, Zalin first blocked the tentacle then slashed a large portion of it off of the hollow. As the hollow shrieked in pain, Zalin again went for the mask while the others went for the hollow's appendages. This time successfully getting to the mask, Zalin slashed very hard down on the mask and cut through it with several pieces of the mask flying away.

Scanning to the others in the group, Zalin watched as all of the hollows were taken out in relatively the same moment. Regrouping then, they again looked to the sky for more hollows coming. As he looked to the sky, a strange presence passed by him making his eyes widen and his gaze turn towards the south. As he looked along with several others who were just as surprised by the presence, he saw the source. Coming from the south, passing by other groups of the Wall, was a large group of airborne hollows.

"Everyone, be ready to just cast to hurt as best as we can. A large group is coming, and there is a strong possibility we will not be able to take it all out before it can pass us and go down into the valley." Zalin spoke loudly for everyone in the group to hear as best as possible, then raised his arm again waiting for the hollows to come into their range.

As soon as the hollows came into range, everyone on Zalin's group cast the strongest kidou they could at the hollows. Most of their hits seemed to only injury the hollows, but a few took out some hollows. Still waiting for a clear hit, Zalin held his arm ready.

"Hadou #44, Raiden!" Zalin cast the lightning beam kidou at a hollow which came into a very clear hit position then moved his arm towards another hollow coming into range. "Hadou #44, Raiden!"

Both hollow fell and dispersed, but quite a bit of the hollow were still flying towards the way to go into the valley. More cast kidou from his group and took down a good portion in the tail end of the group. Breathing heavily, Zalin then saw as more kidou came from a lower part of the mountains and took more of the hollows out.

"Good, another group seems to be there to take out more of those hollows." Zalin tried to slow down his breath so that he wouldn't get lightheaded from breathing too much.
 

Kaze

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Day Three Chapter Two: Halting the Retreat(1,017 words)

The sounds of battle echoed throughout the valley and its surrounding mountains. At that moment there was no place in the area for several miles which didn't have battling of the hollows of Hueco Mundo against the shinigami. The snow covered mountains were stained with blotches of blood from fallen shinigami in the Wall, and Zalin stood back to back with several others a part of his group in the mountains.

All around them, hollows were coming to enter the valley below. And also as these hollow flew by, Zalin and the others all over the mountains cast their kidou to injure and fell the hollows. All in the mountains were feeling fatigue whether they were like Zalin and trying to stop the reinforcements for the valley battling hollows or were in a group blanketing the hollows near the mountains below and above with powerful kidou trying not to cause friendly fire.

Finally after what was the majority of the day, Zalin found that there were no more hollows flying in to enter the valley. The strange calm caused a chill, not from the cold temperature of the mountains, to run up Zalin's spine and made him shiver. Looking to some that were with him, they all shrugged unable to tell why there were no more hollows trying to enter the valley below. Something did not seem to be right about the calm, and all knew this, must especially Zalin who was then looking around everywhere trying to find where any hollow might be.

"There can be no reason for the hollows to stop entering the valley, their forces by now must be weak and needing their reserves to replenish they numbers," Zalin said aloud as he walked to be closer to the edge of the mountain to look down into the valley several miles below.

To Zalin's surprise, all of the hollows below were not fighting anymore, but were rushing up into the mountains. Clearly Zalin realized they were retreating to regroup away from the shinigami attacking them. Turning quickly to the others in his group, Zalin cleared his throat then with an expression of seriousness spoke.

"The hollows are retreating from the valley. Everyone be ready to engage them with kidou and sword or hand to hand if they reach up to here. We are to keep them in the valley so that they can be dispatched and defeated there." Zalin explained the situation to the others then walked towards the path leading down towards the main trail which lead to the base camp for the Wall. "I doubt anymore hollows shall be coming to enter the valley. Let us move down closer so that we have a better chance at blasting the hollows back to the valley."

Zalin and his group walked down to a lower mountains top and waited for the retreating hollows to come into range. As the first hollow came even an inch into range, all in the group raised their arms and began speaking the incantations of their spells. For the brief moment Zalin took to listen, he heard the echo of incantations and the explosions of kidou all through out the mountains.

"Hadou #49, Kageryuu Ikari!" Zalin skipped the spell's incantation as a hollow came close to him.

The hollow was impaled by the shadow spike of the kidou and took a step back as it was unprepared to be attacked by shinigami in the mountains where it had hoped to find sanctuary with its brethren to regain their strength. Its shriek echoed throughout the mountains as did those of other hollows finding out there was more enemies to engage. Setting its gaze at Zalin and his group the hollow rushed towards them to attack, but as it got in range more kidou blasted the hollow destroying it.

Seeing more hollows rushing up the mountain, Zalin noticed an empty ridge above where the hollows were and turn his gaze to his fellow shinigami pointing to the ridge. Once he had all their attention he quickly adjusted his glasses then cleared his throat. All from his group had their eyes looking to him wondering what he was going to say.

"That ridge is empty and can be useful to limit how much kidou we will need to use. Everyone cast at that ridge so that it falls upon the hollows. Hopefully it will not cause anything else, but it should crush several of those hollows and make the other halt their retreat." Zalin then turn to the ridge and focused his attention to the ridge. Hadou #63, Raikouhou!"

His raikouhou and the kidou of everyone in his group hit the empty ridge and caused it to collapse upon the oncoming hollows crushing several as Zalin had thought and completely halting all the other hollows. Using this short moment of confusion to their advantage, Zalin directed everyone to cast more at the surviving hollows to push them back. As more kidou was cast at the hollows which remained, the hollows realized they were better off to return to the valley were they had better odd than being sniped away by shinigami.

Zalin watched as the hollows turned tail and returned to the valley, but he could see more hollows were still trying to retreat all over the mountains. Looking to his group, he motioned that they move to a new location to continue stopping the retreat of the rest of the hollows. Slowly walking in the back of the group as they took the path to the next area, Zalin realized he did not notice the old of the mountains anymore.

"I guess with all this battling, I have completely forgotten about how cold I have been feeling. Hopeful it stays that way for now." Zalin said under his breath they increased his pace and headed for the front of the group.

The wind blew in the mountains as the hollows retreat continued. And with the wind were the loose snow of the mountain and a light flurry of new snow coming down. Slowly, the day was coming to an end.
 

Kaze

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Day Four Chapter One: The Gillian's Crash from their Mountain Sleep.(1,003 words)

It was afternoon on the fourth day of the assault, and Zalin had not gotten any sleep since the previous night. Yet he felt totally unaffected by the lack of sleep, and to his surprise it seemed most of the hollows that were retreating since the previous day's events were now turning back to the valley. Zalin was feeling relief that soon the Wall would have accomplished it goal of keeping the hollows in the valley.

"I wonder how much longer before all the hollows stop attempting to escape the valley." Zalin said to himself as he searched for where to go next to engage hollows.

I doubt very much longer, Zalin. You could probably use some sleep soon. Kageboushi spoke in Zalin's mind.

"True." Zalin agreed as he walked on the trial, still searching for hollows to engage.

Suddenly Zalin noticed a deathly silence all through the mountains. Not a single sound of hollows rushing to escape through the mountains nor of the kidou explosions his fellow shinigami were casting. Scanning all over to see what was causing the silence, after several minutes Zalin began to hear a low rumbling which slowly grew into a large shaking of all the mountain ranges. Realizing this was not boding well, Zalin looked for others around him but suddenly found he was alone on the trail.

Zalin, this is not good. Get off this trail as quickly as possible, I doubt what ever is causing this is something you can take on by yourself.

"Alright, alright, I'm going, Kageboushi." Zalin said quite loud as he ran up the trail towards where he could safely leave the trail.

As he reached the place, Zalin turned to see if anything was coming and watched as all over the mountains explosions erupted from their very core. The source of these explosions made Zalin's law drop slightly and his legs to freeze up unable to move, from the center of all the explosions emerged Menos Gillian. In his entire career to date with the Gotei 13, Zalin did not ever expect to see some many Gillian all of which were descending into the valley below.

"G...g...gillian..." Zalin stuttered as he still was unable to move.

Zalin, it is not safe with all of those Menos heading for the valley. You had better return to camp, by I would have to guess the Wall's operation here in the mountains is coming to a close. Kageboushi advised Zalin.

"I agree. The preparations for the descent of the Wall back to the valley are probably coming into the works right now." Zalin said as he then began to run up the trail more heading for the base camp.

He could see the camp in the distance as he ran. Also heading for the base camp, Zalin found others running to reach the camp to help prepare for the withdrawal from the mountains. Coming to the entrance of the camp, Zalin stopped to catch his breath.

As he stood to rest a moment, Zalin looked behind to see that more Gillian were coming out of the mountains and heading towards the valley. He knew the valley would be in for problems because of the Gillian, but until the Wall could pack up and march back down to the valley his fellow shinigami would need to hold out as best they could. Taking a step into the camp, Zalin headed for his tent to pack his things up.

Zalin had his side bag at his side as he carried his tent all rolled up towards the group of shinigami in charge of the supplies for the camp. Dropping off the tent and then heading towards the massing group waiting at the trail's start to begin the march down the mountain trail towards the valley, Zalin watched as several members of the various divisions in the Wall talk with fellows of their own divisions.

I guess this is how it feels to be truly an outsider in a large group. My division is down in that valley right now, fighting with the other divisions in the valley battles. Soon I'll be able to join with them again in the last part of this assault. I just need to be patient. Zalin thought as he looked around.

It was beginning to become night fall as the march down the trail began. Zalin this time was towards the front, trying to keep an eye out for any wandering hollows which might have still been trying to escape into the mountains. The mountains themselves were destroyed quite a bit by the Gillian's exit from them to head to the valley. As he sensed out through the mountain, Zalin could no longer feel the presence of the Menos and was hoping everyone down in the valley were dealing with them as best as possible.

Zalin felt as the temperature increased as they moved farther and farther down the mountain. Soon enough a warm breeze blew by Zalin and made him feel quite uncomfortable with his uniform on over his kidoushuu suit. As he walked he had to open his uniform to allow himself to cool down some; he would need to take his uniform off from over the kidoushuu suit when they would reach the foot of the mountain.

Such a waste of a perfectly good evening. Zalin thought to himself as he walked behind several from the Sixth Division down the trail. Hopefully after this assault, I get a very long vacation from all this battling. Maybe even a raise in my salary as a member of the Gotei.

In the distance, the sound of hollows shrieking and zanpakutous' clanging echoed through the valley and up into the mountains. The fourth day of the assault was coming slowly to its close, and the beginning of the fifth was drawing nearer. Zalin and the rest of the Wall all hoped that when they reached the bottom of their descent that they were not too late to help their comrades.
 

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