Week 55: Amagawa Sougen vs. Shimizu Isamu

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Mar 19, 2005
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Sou Kyouko 55
Crystal
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ソウキョウコ​



[ Amagawa Sougen vs. Shimizu Isamu ]

Note: Please refer to the bottom of this post for terminology definitions.​






A cold drift of air went almost unnoticed, sending a light tremor up and down Isamu's spine. The Assistant Vice Captain reached to his side and grabbed a few stalks of grass as he was lying on the cold grass in front of the Fourth Division headquarters, not far from a large tree that cast the most faintest of shadows on Isamu's lower limbs. It was night time, quite late in fact, and the tree's shadow came from opposite to the full moon that shone above Seireitei.

Isamu grinded the grass softly, absentmindedly, in his hands. He was staring blankly at the moon, his mind buzzing with attempts to silence the buzz itself. He ran across a list of actions and assignments he did on that day as another gust of wind went past him, both body and mind.

From the dark skies, an even darker creature descended down and landed on Isamu's shoulder. The Jigokuchou's wings fluttered a few times and took flight away. A message was delivered, time for others.

Sou Kyouku? Why would I be needed in Sou Kyouku Hill?

The Shinigami jumped to his feet and flickered out of existence with a burst of Shunpo, reappearing a few minutes later on top of the hill, right outside of the large stadium.




~​



He's here...

Standing within the midst of the arena's vast core, Amagawa briefly clenched his fingers and profoundly inhaled the moon-saccharine air. Freeing himself from the broad sleeves of his daibaori, the First's Vice Captain concealed the length of his arms entirely behind the heavy coat's coverage, and as he did so, turned about to catch sight of his opponent emerging into the hallowed coliseum's grand, arched entrance.

Without hesitation, Amagawa's invisible Utsutoki exuded from his very existence, signaling his own brand of phantasmal belligerence. There would be no audience for the moonlit duel to come.

The warrior waited.




~​



Isamu spotted the figure that stood at the center of the arena, serene and quiet; it was more than obvious he wasn't surprising the man by entering the stadium.

Stepping closer, he surveyed the man, his arms were covered under the large overcoat, a fact that only contributed to the aura that man gave out: a peaceful, respectful aura.

A final step positioned him a short distance from the man. Usually, Isamu would have taken another step and stretch his hand out for a handshake, but something about the man stopped him from doing so. He looked almost like royalty to Isamu, which made him think himself as being very small in comparison.

"Shimizu Isamu, third seat of the Fourth Division." He politely introduced himself with a most well-mannered tone, instinctively scratching the nape of his neck to try and rub off this feeling that grappled his stomach.




~​



Within a mere second, the Vice Captain was able to discern the qualities of his opponent's moonlit physique. The distinctive trudge and chafe of the wooden Zori footwear, the uncommon length of the Shinigami's keikogi sleeves, a full koshirae daisho wedged within the coils of the obi... and more importantly, the distinction of the Fourth Division.

Wasting no further time, Amagawa returned Isamu's introduction with a deep bow, and established his credentials with similar civility. "Amagawa Sougen, Vice Captain of the First Division. It is a privilege to cross swords with you on this nightly duel, Shimizu Isamu." In that instant, the Vice Captain's Utsutoki soundlessly crescendoed. "Please receive my blade."

Not even the full, presiding moon heard anything more than the softest susurration as Amagawa immediately entered the midst of his opponent, with his revealed blade flashing fast to meet Isamu with a Migikiriage cut.




~​



A blade made its way at the unsuspecting Isamu. The Shinigami barely discerned the opponent's movements; they were fluid and, for the lack of a better term, empty.

The only vice about that perfect attack was that Amagawa gave a very nice prologue to it. If he hadn't had done that, Isamu might've not been able to react in time, which, in actuality, he did poorly.

With his two swords sheathed, Isamu was left with only his hands to counter the attack. He skidded ever so slightly to his left and grabbed with both hands his adversary's hilt. One hand grabbed Amagawa's own hand, and the other rested on the base of the hilt, slightly behind it to give Isamu an anchor point to stop the blade's progress, a blade that stopped just inches from his waist.

"I do believe I read somewhere that it's highly inappropriate from a Vice Captain to assault a fellow Shinigami without proper cause, and I do think that it's even more badly chosen for a Vice Captain to assault a fellow Shinigami on a very nice night with an even nicer full moon above said Vice Captain and said assaulted Shinigami. Am I being the center of some kind of treachery against the Gotei, or are you not who you claim to be, Amagawa-san?"




~​



In the midst of his opponent's idle banter, Amagawa retracted his stopped blade abruptly inward along with Isamu's hands, and proceeded to manually revive and re-accelerate the path of the cutting edge further towards his opponent's torso by pushing the ridge of the blade forth with his left palm.



~​



He seems like such a charming fellow.

Isamu released his grip on Amagawa's hand and leapt slightly to the left and mainly backwards, distancing himself from his attacker.

There were no answers to be seen, and Isamu wasn't planning on waiting for them to show up and in the mean time getting his abdomen slashed. With a swift motion, Sanome was retracted from its sheath and held diagonally at Isamu's hands, the tip of the blade pointing straight at Amagawa's head, and the hilt held almost loosely in Isamu's hands.

He took another look at the alleged Vice Captain of the First. There was a clear difference in the man's swordsmanship. Isamu was slightly behind; same could've been said about his speed. He would have to keep a sharp eye on this adversary.

Isamu blasted forward, a Shunpo sending him straight at Amagawa, his sword held at waist level, ready to feint a strike at the last possible moment before diverting the strike to hit Amagawa's neck.




~​



A quick flickering of his eyes, as well as a perk of his ears, revealed to Amagawa the very path in which Isamu's Shunpo trod as foreseen by the envisioned void. The staccato of the rushing Zori soles gave away his opponent's emergence point as well as the positioning of his legs.

A ringing flash hissed as the opposing blade was extracted.

Too slow for a direct, initial assault...

Realizing Isamu's intent just by the mere method of his blade extraction as well as the lag-time before the actual cut was executed, Amagawa lowly lunged forth with sudden force in tandem with a swift Tsuki, both deflecting the path of his opponent's nearing edge and stroking in promptly to stab at Isamu's own neck.




~​



The parry that deflected the course of his thrust was just about the only thing that warned Isamu of the approaching blade. He quickly lowered his stance and dodged to the side. Consequently, the sword that aimed to tear a hole in his neck missed just barely and slashed at the angle between the base of his neck and shoulder, releasing a small blast of blood in its wake.

With his non-sword hand, which wasn't clenched around the hilt, but merely accompanying the blade when he made his thrust, Isamu promptly retaliated, springing upwards and sending the heel of his palm at the man's chin.

It was a hastened attack, and it would position Isamu at the side of his attacker, with his sword's path blocked by the opponent's blade just as much as the latter was positioned safely away from Isamu. If all would fail, the Assistant Vice Captain readied just enough energy for a low step Shunpo, though the same energy could be used for an attack if the opportunity presented itself.




~​



Following through with his Tsuki, Amagawa took note of Isamu's prompt evasion with heightened zanshin. The Vice Captain further swiveled and lowered his stance to almost a crouch, effectively eluding the racing palm as it closely breezed across the above vicinity of his falling hair. Withdrawing his blade from the sword lock in the same motion, Amagawa retained his spinning action and stroked the flashing steel in a wide arch, aiming to swipe across his opponent's exposed quadriceps.



~​


As his outstretched hand twisted down, Isamu let go of the sword in his right hand and blocked the slash at his leg using his exposed sword hand. Sanome rang with a clear sound throughout the empty, moonlight-bathed stadium.

As one hand got slashed, successfully grabbing the blade, but slashed nonetheless, Isamu lowered his other hand at Amagawa's face, the side of his palm raising the chin and clearing a path for three fingers-- the index, middle and thumb-- to grab the Shinigami's Adam's apple. All the while Isamu recited the chant for a spell he hadn't used in a long while... maybe too long.

"As God molded the Earth, may I mold your Flesh. Hadou #1, Yakekoge."

Isamu's hand, imitating the claw of a bird of pray, launched at his foe's neck, the tips of the fingers lighting up in a blazing fury, he clenched his hand even harder around the enemy's blade.




~​



Sanome's earthly clamor silenced immediately as its freed tsuka found itself within the swift, left grasp of the Vice Captain. With his right, Amagawa quickly rotated the axis of his own Zanpakutou edge-up, not only to further aggravate the bloodied hand that restrained it, but also in preparation for the warrior's next move.

With his chin forcefully raised by Isamu, the Vice Captain discerned the first couple syllables of a Kidou recitation resounding from his opponent's lips.

Waste of time...

Vigor was instilled into Amagawa's legs. With both blades poised in his hands, the Vice Captain performed a powerful Uren jump clear before the Yakekoge Hadou's chant itself could be completed. The restrained Zanpakutou lifted up immediately and slid with a harrowing hiss out of Isamu's hold as Amagawa arched Sanome's edge up in tandem with Uren's upward velocity, intent on both cutting the vertical length of his opponent's torso with a flashing Sakakaze and hacking the Yakekoge-instilled hand in a single swipe. Not even a second later was the Vice Captain drifting high in the moon's pale, nesting luminosity.




~​



For the second time in a row, Isamu's face was slashed when he fought on top of Sou Kyouku hill. The first time was during his spar against Takero, and this time was completely different. He was cut by his own sword, held in the hands of a would-be traitor of Seireitei or a would-be imposter to a Vice Captain of the Gotei... In both cases, not a friendly fight, not even close.

Sanome's edge slit a thin stripe of crimson from the bottom to top of Isamu's gi. He winced only at the thought of Keisou and what would she do to him if anything happened to the hilt-less katana, and concluded that he was probably better off at the hands of Amagawa than hers.

As the blade made its way skywards, Isamu leapt rearward, boosting his evasion with Shunpo. The Shinigami stopped and looked at his opponent descend, Shizukasumi sliding in a continuous hiss as his eyes kept a close watch on the antagonist.

If he thought he just took his Zanpakutou away from him, it would only benefit Isamu; he could use the element of surprise later on.

But, the moment of releasing Shikai seemed near, for Isamu was barely keeping track of his adversary's movements.

"I'll ask you one more time... who are you exactly and what are your intentions? I'll warn you that if you plan on causing any harm and even to a single soul, I won't let you leave these grounds, not with your life I won't."




~​



A moon-drunk draft coursed against the descending daibaori in rustling ripples. Amagawa alit soundlessly like silk falling upon a cloud, and settled into a calm crouch with a sternly halcyon expression that hasn't shifted by even a twitch since the start of the duel. Isamu's inquiry did not go unheard, yet the Vice Captain was more inclined towards communicating his answer through the red-riddle-stained reflection of his blade.

Notwithstanding, "I am your opponent for this evening; there is nothing more you need to know than that, Shimizu Isamu. My intention is simple. My blade is just; it does not crave the blood of the innocent. But if you must insist, I am not the same as Shinkou Masaru. This soul is still caged within this midnight."

An upsurge of air whistled as Amagawa unfurled his arms out like a snowy egret heaving up its veiling wings. Both the edged steels of his Zanpakutou and Sanome stroked in accordance with his arm span, dashing away the staining blood of his opponent out into the glowing air. The two blades returned to his sides, quickly concealing themselves behind the coverage of the ebon daibaori. The Vice Captain's left hand convulsed slightly, as if something was amiss from the indigo-tasseled Sanome.

...No response from this blade to the presence of my Reiatsu... Is it vacant? There seems to be no pressure emanating from within its composition... That means...

A cosmic tide stirred a collective quiver in the flitting stars, like a wintry wind cresting through an observing audience. Amagawa placed his right foot forth by a negligible measure, assuming the discreet, dual-sword method of Happou Biraki.

...Like the moon, there may be no need to show him the hidden reflection of my blade.




~​



The Assistant Vice Captain rubbed the blood that trickled down his forehead using the heel of his hand, eyeing the man in front of him, but paying closer attention to the tip of Sanome's blade as it whipped away his own blood. The irony of the situation wasn't lost on Isamu, the tragedy wasn't either.

"Your blade is just; nothing else I need to know?" he echoed Amagawa's words under his breath, "Hmm... then let's test this caged soul of yours; days to come will tell who you truly are." The Shinigami concluded in something that was less than a whisper. Only the zephyrs could've heard him, only they were the witnesses of his resolve, the audience of his play.

With a flick of his sword hand's wrist, Isamu revealed his hand from under his black sleeve, in its grasp the hilt of Shizukasumi, and with the same flick the sword was held reversed in his hand, the blade shimmered under the moon's borrowed light, parallel to his forearm.

His legs traversed forward bit by bit as he readied a suiting position for his next move, alert to every movement in the stadium, slightest as it was. At a moment's notice, his figure was already gone, made corporeal by the power of his flash step behind Amagawa, lowly crouched and sending Shizukasumi's blade at the back of his foe's knees, with his left hand held ready above his head for any attack should Amagawa spot him.




~​



Veils of velvet black undulated in the breezes as Sanome's xenon luster sibilated rearward through the nocturnal currents.

That's three times now...

A deafening grind of argent steel against argent steel rung lowly as Amagawa axially rotated counterclockwise, and with a calm, yet expert, indiscernible degree of haste, followed up with a Kesagiri sweep of his rightly-grasped Zanpakutou to cut down his opponent's upheld left arm.




~​



The outstretched hand was quickly retracted to avoid being severed by Tsuyukusa's shimmering blade, the edge swept in a diagonal arc without even rousing the most silent of opposition from the winds, a perfect and extraordinary cut in terms of ability.

Isamu rose from his low stance, with the momentum from his swift change in height he made a slash of his own at Amagawa's neck whilst using his leg to push the edge of Sanome a few inches into the dry ground. The Shinigami kept a somewhat closed stance, his hands held close and movements short in the case of a sudden strike from his foe's side.




~​



Isamu's arrest of Sanome proved to be ineffectual: the blade itself was angled much too steeply vertical to be stamped down by a foot. Easily freed from the opponent's attempted seizure, Sanome powerfully swiped up in a flicker of reflected moonlight, clashing Isamu's rushing wakizashi away immediately. In the same motion, Amagawa renewed his offense with an abrupt escalation in the dexterity, timing, and rapidity of both his attacks and movements: it was time to show his opponent his normal speed.

It's time I stopped holding back.

With revived vim, the Vice Captain surged forth and twisted his Zanpakutou up from its previous Kesagiri, blurring into a Tsuki stab straight for Isamu's approaching sternum. In keeping with the sudden explosion of aggression, Amagawa instantly followed up with his own momentum and stroked Sanome into a flashing Miginagi cut, intent upon affording his opponent with no vertical or lateral means of evading.




~​



Shizukasumi was hastily pulled back at its wielder's aid. Isamu's eyes flared open with Amagawa's renewed forces.

No.

Not renewed, he wasn't even pushing himself, not even straining as all of Isamu's efforts were rendered null and vain. The Shinigami scarcely managed to block the stab at his upper torso, deflecting it to go under his arm and next to his chest, far too close for safety.

If that wasn't enough, he caught just a glimpse of his own Sanome slashing at him from below his line of sight, his legs acting on impulse more than ability or real awareness. He ground his teeth as the blade still managed to pierce his flesh, though he was already moving backwards and away from Sanome's reach. A splatter of blood rained on the floor, drenched in the moon's light and Isamu's incapacity.

He stopped, and fumbling slightly with his back leg, he quickly regained his posture and took a few steps of Shunpo to the sides, one to the left and another to the right. On the third step, Isamu muttered under his lips the release phrase for his Zanpakutou. The blade shimmered with a light blue, untraceable in the blur of movements.

"Jibun o heikoido shiro, Shizukasumi."

The Shinigami took yet another Shunpo and flashed by his adversary, drawing a thin line of Nouseiren as he did so. The mist drifted serenely in its place, undisturbed by the nightly winds. Isamu readied for another run next to Amagawa, trying to lock him in with Nouseiren from both sides.




~​



The turbid air shivered with a howl as the Vice Captain's opponent surged all about the immediate grounds. Amagawa kept still as he worked to trace out Isamu's several paths, and found fruition in discerning both his opponent's condition, as well as minute threads of Reiatsu that now threatened to encompass his midst.

Five Shunpo executions, five injuries... enough to be pushed into Shikai.

A driving wind billowed up the Vice Captain's daibaori in a great flutter, like a thick flag heaving against a high draft. His body crouched with sudden action, and the two blades spanning from his grasps unfurled to glance at the high moon. The pale earth roared upon finding itself scarred with webbed fissures; Amagawa had initiated his interception of Isamu's returning Shunpo. With an atmospheric crescendo, the Vice Captain lowly glided across the field, and upon sighting his adversary's immediate presence, he cleft the screeching air with a crosswise cut: a combination of both Sakagesa and Kesagiri to strike the man down.




~​



Isamu's form materialized mere inches away from the shrieking blades. This time his fatigue incongruously worked in his favor. The low paced Shunpo stopped with the skidding of his wooden Zori against the segmented ground. Isamu bolted sideways to evade the slashes made by the foe's katana and his own stolen blade, escaping but still cut by the latter at his right shoulder; a simple nick, but they seemed to gang up and accumulate on him lately.

The young Shinigami turned around his own axis and eyed his solemn opponent, hoping to catch a glimpse of the azure mist around a part of his body, any part would do. He found none.
Still, the mere presence of Nouseiren around the battle field can prove to be beneficial for Isamu, and unfavorable for his foe.

Isamu breathed slowly and heavily, gathering his breath and trying to decelerate the beating of his pounding heart. His hands limply stationed at his sides for less than a fleeting moment before he raised them to a battle ready position.

He of course planned for it to work otherwise, but even without completely putting his plan into action, the one and half lines he did managed to stretch could still work. All he needed to do was push Amagawa into one of them, and the battle will be decided on his next action, when his blade would connect with the ring of Reiatsu and deliver a fatal wound, if not death.

With a quick succession, an open hand cleaved its way through the winds; a short run positioned Isamu near Amagawa in a crouched stance, his vacant hand aimed at the side of the daibaori and the Vice Captain's lower torso. Isamu kept his weight balanced between both legs, ready for any attack made by his foe, but even more so for any dodging action that might take place, Isamu will be prompt to attack and push Amagawa back into the Nouseiren's serene net.




~​



Quickly discerning his opponent's rapid recovery, Amagawa's brows creased together against an ensuing rush of air at his side. Not even an instance later was the ungrasped Sanome freely wheeling poetically in the turbid moonlight, with Isamu's swiftly-approaching palm clearly reflected in the blade's stained luster.

Having been able to gauge the proficiency of his opponent's skill with the sword, Amagawa acted promptly, exciting the aural Utsutoki into an unseen storming veil.

Mutou: Nihou no Hi Tou Fu Kan.

Immediately, the Vice Captain's entire form vanished in a blink. Isamu's low-striking fist met naught but air and Sanome's borrowed luminosity.

Amagawa spared no time.

With a rustling whistle like that of a raised festoon before a hurricane, the ebony and ivory daibaori unfurled voluminously as its wearer flickered to Isamu's own left side with a spirited Shunpo, still very much invisible in his opponent's eyes by Mutou's Utsutoki veil. Tsuyukusa, reborn from its wielder's deafened release command during the flash step, rose unseen over the Vice Captain's head.

Never had the moon quivered so frighteningly in the wake of its own companion clouds as they ghostly rifted apart, like cobwebs shredding in the presence of a bladed gust. Amagawa ferociously plunged Tsuyukusa down in Kiriotoshi, intent upon demolishing his opponent's left shoulder blade as the invisible Shikai Zanpakutou dove. However, whether or not the indelible cut had met its mark, the now-materialized Vice Captain's Utsutoki, now instilled within the Kiriotoshi, rendered the immediate grounds and atmosphere asunder in a harrowing maelstrom of hue-less, absolute force.




~​



The Kanji that decorated the base of Sanome's hilt was easily distinguished by Isamu; the letters circled the air as the wielder of the guard-less katana disappeared in a silent and skillful Shunpo. Isamu promptly changed the course and strength he put into his hand and reached to grab the spinning hilt, his fingers barely clutching at the dark fabric as Tsuyukusa burrowed under his skin.

His shoulder blade torn by the blade, that unlike Sanome wasn't reflecting the soft light that covered the stadium, he soon found out that was nothing but the end of it.
As he felt the tip of the Zanpakutou slice at his flesh, a second blade, made out of Amagawa's Utsutoki, rushed in the corporeal sword's wake.

Blood spattered across the slightly humid ground as Isamu turned around his own axis and pushed Sanome's vivid edge forward to block the foe's Zanpakutou from any more attack that might come; crossed against the back of Sanome's blade he positioned Shizukasumi in order to support his thrust.

Isamu found it difficult to judge Tsuyukusa's position as the blade was nowhere to be found. He then plunged his swords forward in a scissors motion at Amagawa's neck, the wound at the right of his back tearing his mind apart.




~​



With Tsuyukusa angled down from Kiriotoshi's falling cut, Amagawa readied his composure to encounter Isamu's rush, assuming Chudan no Kamae as he did so.

Wielding a wakizashi in tandem with a katana will compromise one's personal, aggressive maai. At the current angle of his blades... and the shortening of effective maai...

Tsuyukusa stroked mellifluously down into Gedan no Kamae. At the instant Isamu's Shizukasumi and Sanome began to near the Vice Captain's neck, two moon-sparking flickers rung from the enemy's steel and strongly reversed the course of the opposing blades. Tsuyukusa, still unyielding its visible form to Isamu's eyes, invisibly flashed through the air to fulfill the remaining third cut of a grounded Tenpuu Senjoushou, with its wielder aiming to take advantage of the opening and strike down the enemy with Sakagesa.




~​



Three perfect rings resonated across the stadium in a quick succession as sparks flew from the meetings of Isamu's and Amagawa's blades at the execution of the Tenpuu Senjoushou. Isamu found the course of Sanome diverted as the second bell rang; the third threw him forward with the force of his own thrust.

In tandem to his leg flashing forward to support his unbalanced body, Tsuyukusa's ethereal form tore at his shoulder, again his blood splattered in a wide arc, almost staining his opponent's dark haori with thick, dark blood.

Isamu gritted his teeth, flashing his dark chestnut eyes up at his unhurt foe. A traitor or an imposter, he didn't care. He wasn't going to lose to this man. He won't.

Both sides of Shizukasumi's blade radiated with moonlight as Isamu spanned the short sword in the somewhat parched air and a fourth bell rang; the edge met the unseen back of the antagonist blade. Isamu shoved his sword down, locking Tsuyukusa between his Zanpakutou and his clavicle. Sanome emitted an ominous glow as it bulleted forward at Amagawa's kidneys area in a short arch upwards, aiming to go through as many internal organs as it possibly can.

Isamu wasn't planning on losing in this fight lest his body be torn apart and mind be blasted away. He wasn't going to lose. He can't let himself fall any further than he already has, even from the depths he had gotten himself into, he will somehow crawl up, and from the dust... like the dust... he'll rise.




~​



Narrowing his eyes, Amagawa further exacerbated Isamu's cleft shoulder by promptly rotating Tsuyukusa's axis clockwise, as if to turn a shining key in a lock of bleeding bones. Noting his opponent's deteriorated condition, the Vice Captain retracted the length of his blade, releasing a sudden flare of sparks between its sliding steel and Shizukasumi's own, and sprung distantly back through the moon-misting air, narrowly evading Isamu's desperate stab as Sanome's kissaki managed to nick the wooden First Division emblem plated upon Amagawa's uniform-concealed abdomen.

Once again visible, Tsuyukusa swiped to the side in Chiburi: an unfurling silver wing shedding its crimson pinions. The argent steel sighed as the obsidian saya inhaled its sacred luster. Afresh, the Vice Captain hid his arms within the concealing depths of his daibaori, with the sleeves still unoccupied and fluttering in the temperate zephyrs with an ironic serenity.

Amagawa's next words, though subdued, were heard even by the witnessing moon. "One last attack, Shimizu Isamu."




~​



The Assistant Vice Captain eyed his adversary suspiciously, "Last?" Sanome stabbed at the ground to act as a third standing point for Isamu to support his weight upon. "You haven't even seen the start of it...!" he lied.

Isamu wasn't built for long, stretched out fights like this one; he must've been the epitome of the Fourth Division: short bursts of energy and attempts to end the fight as quickly as possible. Straining himself more would just cut short his own circuits, as it was so effortlessly proven by Amagawa Sougen.

The tip of Sanome's blade was extracted from the cold earth and safely tucked within the wooden blankets of the katana's sheath. Raising the hand that held his wakizashi Zanpakutou at eye level, Isamu stared at his foe from behind the released blade, his shoulder and back aflame. His jaws clenched tightly as another ripple of pain emitted from the valleys of flesh which found themselves widely exposed to each and every biting wind that drifted on top of Sou Kyouku Hill, soft as they might be.

"So come," he wearily invited.




~​



Prodigiously, the Vice Captain's sable daibaori billowed from the blue earth as his arms were reinserted into its broad sleeves. His hands briefly clenched, flexing the ebon tekkou bracers wrapped about his forearms and spiking the very air around his solemn form into a fervid swirl that begged for the sun. Amagawa's eyes slightly tapered as Tsuyukusa answered his silent call.

Ittou Keihatsuki.

The exchanges of strikes, the shiftings of the eyes, the rhythms of respiration, the pressures and degrees of dexterity applied to the execution of sword skills and empty-handed methods of attack... All these and more, of what Amagawa had been able to observe of his opponent so far, culminated into a single, summary instance of "strategic instinct" only apparent within the infinitude and ubiquity of the void. These things came to him as facilely as the very breeze that coursed through his fingers.

Mutou: Ippou no Soku Mai Ninpen to Nihou no Hi Tou Fu Kan.

As if pilfered by a furtive wind, Tsuyukusa evanesced from the very saya that contained its staid steel, and no sooner after that thaumaturgy was its wielder within Isamu's midst, swiftly poised to strike down the adversary with Kesagiri.




~​



The heavy daibaori billowed wildly behind Amagawa as he appeared in front of Isamu, his hands hidden under the cover of the thick sleeves and his sword nowhere to be seen.
The Assistant Vice Captain's sword hand flashed in an arc in front of him, instinctively throwing Shizukasumi forward, tied to his hand with a thin string of Reiatsu.

In the same instant Isamu turned slightly sideways; he didn't know where the blade would come from, if it was in fact coming, but Shizukasumi covered one side of him, so Sanome would cover the other. The Kanji on the metal breathed the night air once again as Isamu unsheathed it upwards, the edge pointing away from him and the blade parallel to his body.




~​



Amagawa's hands swept down in Kesagiri, and yet, the air failed to carry the message of metal sailing through flesh. Isamu's Shizukasumi bulleted forth, famished in its faint path, and cruelly impaled the Vice Captain in the sternum. The linear blade continued through in its lethal progression, grating the very moonlight it was bathed within.

Yet...

Teiun Haisetsu: Gohou no Chuu Rin Kuu Ranpen.

A soul-deafening peal of bare, relucent steel lingered all throughout the hollow arena. Blood did not gout from Shizukasumi's prey; rather, the figure warped and vanished like a frail vapor in the wake of the moon's frigid heat, for it was merely an afterimage formed from both Mutou no Nihou no Hi Tou Fu Kan's Utsutoki body concealment, as well as air displacement born from a spirited Shunpo execution. The afterimage's 'blade' itself, visually indiscernible as was, had never really escaped its saya from the beginning: Mutou's concealment, coupled with Amagawa's imitated sword-grasp, had managed to charm Isamu into defensively reacting against a fake assailment.

Before the photogene was deleted, the true Vice Captain re-emerged into visibility behind his opponent. Intensely magnified and accelerated by the driving Utsutoki, Tsuyukusa blurrily coruscated in a narrow, lateral, drawing-sword cut, aiming to execute Isamu with a Hidarinagi. As the resplendent blade neared so, a torrential dome of upsurging Utsutoki erupted in a fatal diameter of eight meters all round Amagawa, indelibly intent upon shredding up Isamu in its invisible currents.




~​



Only the phantom signatures of someone behind reached Isamu's mind and were registered swiftly. The image of the Vice Captain in front of him vanished into thin air as quickly as it came, in an inversed relation to Isamu's 'ease' to pierce the afterimage's deceptive flesh.

The Assistant Vice Captain, who to an outside spectator could be identified as 'the one who was actually both tangible, and visible,' replied to the screaming of his mind with mental screams of his own.

Turn! Around! TURN AROUND!!

His legs fixed on the ground; planted by the rules of time and space, as nothing can change its position in less than the nothingth of a second, the Shinigami's waist turned around still, and from behind his torn-apart shoulder, a chocolate-colored eye widened in shock.

A final note rang.

Sanome's silver-steel blade, retracted almost fully, met the Zanpakutou in a ripple of a single color Reiatsu, though it was fairly obvious a second source of energy was present, only simply invisible and colorless as the air itself.

And with the final note of the two swords clashing, Isamu was shot backwards, both out of the force of the impact and his own accord. A second later the ground around Amagawa, along with the air around him as well, ruptured and splintered with a thousand, corporeal blades that pierced and slashed and skewered and hacked.

Isamu's flaccid body was thrown to the ground, where he hung for a few brief moments, somewhat ashamed, somewhat raged, and...

Beaten.




~​



The invisible storm calmed into a viscid, inebriating silence, in the center of which the Vice Captain stood poised, with his stainless blade still stolidly lingering in the petrifying air. Rotundly swirling debris, upheaved and pulverized by the transient gales, settled like silver-indigo foliage under moonlight.

Tsuyukusa smoothly waded through the falling dust, encasing itself within the black-lacquer saya. Amagawa solemnly remained, watching his defeated opponent lie upon the moon-frozen earth, till at last, he raised his right hand into the air and offered a newly alighting Jigokuchou a finger to perch upon. Its roosting legs bit like ice against his skin as he cognitively projected his request.

...Send for an paramedical unit. Make haste. Time cannot be trusted.

Yielding a heated breath, the Vice Captain motioned into a pace toward the prostrate Isamu, gently withdrawing his hand as the black butterfly winged reticently away.

The warrior's feet halted a few strides from the grounded Shinigami and his eyes locked with that of his fallen opponent's. "You are skilled, Shimizu Isamu. The strokes of your blades are swift and unorthodox. However, it has also summoned your defeat. One can only rely upon reflexes and untrained instincts for so long in a duel."




~​



Isamu took a hesitant step backwards, keeping away from the traitor in front of him. Shizukasumi hummed vigilantly, held tight and ready in his hand. He was still totally oblivious to the man's intentions and plans; he didn't even know if he was looking at the First Division's defected Vice Captain or an imposter.

"Who are you?" he inquired. Beneath the layers of jadedness a firm tone could be found, a tone that wasn't planning on wavering from its spot, as long as he was standing he'll fight this man until he gets his answers.

Even if he wasn't really standing.

"How could a person so close to the Soutaichou get so far from the Gotei? Tell me who you are...!" He wasn't asking. He was stating plainly in a very well-mannered voice, yet it was a voice that held daggers at the ready along with Shizukasumi.



~​



A disappointed scoff escaped from the Vice Captain's nostrils. "I've already introduced myself before, but seeing as my words have apparently failed to reach your ears, it can't be helped. If you wish to find out, go browse the Vice Captain Registries; you'll find your answer there... that is, if the clashings of our blades have not enlightened you of my identity already." Amagawa turned through the lifting air and commenced a calm exit from the arena midst. "This was a Sou Kyouko duel; the Jigokuchou that sent you here must've told you that, no doubt. To enter these bloodied grounds without anticipating the prospect of warfare is false."

His arms, no longer shrouded by the daibaori's flowing sleeves, once again took their place within the canopy of the swarthy fabric. Amagawa silently bid both Isamu and the very moon that hung over the enervated arena a lipless farewell. Like a streaking cloud soaring through a draft of lunar heat, the Vice Captain of the First Division dissipated into the murk of night.




[6,193]



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Notes:

Migikiriage - Upward, slantwise cut that targets the opponent's right quadriceps and/or right waist/torso.

Tsuki - A thrust made to the opponent's chest area.

Sakakaze - Upward, vertical cut that usually targets the center of the opponent's lower torso.

Kesagiri - Downward, slantwise cut that targets the opponent's left shoulder/neck base.

Sakagesa - Downward, slantwise cut that targets the opponent's right shoulder/neck base.

Miginagi - Horizontal cut that targets the opponent's right torso.

Hidarinagi - Horizontal cut that targets the opponent's left torso.

Zanshin - In Kenjutsu, summarily a perpetual state of heightened awareness and spiritual bearing retained all throughout the course of battle.

Kissaki - The tapering tip of a katana blade.




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