Post by Hanabi on May 17, 2015 13:47:48 GMT -5
“...throw roses into the abyss and say 'here is my thanks to the monster who didn't succeed in swallowing me alive.”
- Friedrich Nietzsche
Chinda, Kiriko [珍田, 喜理子] | Enyo, Hanabi [炎陽, 花火]
Physical Age: 15
Birthday: October 8th, 1902
Loyalties: Hanabi is ostensibly loyal to Chinda Kiriko as well as the Gotei, however inside she realizes that she has pledged her loyalty to herself above all others. In her heart this is not to her own survival, or for any certain motivation, but instead for the lofty and intangible goal of attaining happiness. Hanabi feels driven to reach that far away destination, to ensure that she, unlike the Chinda Kiriko of this world, will strive at all times for true happiness instead of power. And thus her loyalties in actuality lie with her own heart and what she feels is most likely to bring about that happiness.
Height and Weight: 5'3 & 120 lbs
Hair and Eye Color: Black & ; Commonly appears red
Reiatsu: Hanabi's reiatsu is a brilliant purple, tightly wound around her in a fractal pattern of swirls and many-jointed lines, almost akin to bony wing protrusions that curl around her body. Unlike most of her peer's Hanabi's reiatsu tends to stay in close around her body, wrapping her in a tendril-like cocoon instead of spilling outward. Each finger of fractal energy continuously moves, blooming and bursting like fireworks as their hue shifts from white-hot amethyst down to a burnished orange-gold. Capturing the inexperience of new growth and the white-hot heat of youth, her reiatsu's constant bursting movement implies the powerful promise of a fireworks display. Much like one would expect, this colorful profusion of reiatsu casts off a feeling of warmth to those nearby, however when physical contact is made it feels as if brushing up against a geode or grazing sharp tines of metal.
Spiritual Description: Hanabi's spiritual aura is muted, kept tightly under wraps. In all but the most insightful of presences, she gives off very little feeling, her reiatsu a blank wall with nothing to show. Instead of appearing as nothingness though, that blank quality is more analogous to a perceptible lack of power as if Hanabi's spiritual depth is particularly shallow in nature. To those with a keener ability to sense the spiritual, however, beneath the placid surface of her aura is a dizzying array of conflicting emotions that rise up like supernovas in their intensity. It's not that she actually lacks for powerful feelings but instead that she manages to keep even the emotion out of her reiatsu in a display of stubborn control, lending her aura a subdued quality.
Sound: Due to her extensive training, Hanabi does not tend to make much noise when moving around. She holds a heavy control over her gestures and rarely makes sounds that were not intended. The most vocal thing about her is her voice, which has a lilting tone riddled with archaic turns of phrases and colloquial terminology. Having grown up for the most part in an uneducated and far out section of Rukongai her speech patterns reflect her lack of polish and best resemble a mix between the Fukui Japanese tonal range and a rough-and-tumble fuedal-esque samurai dialect. This is reflected in her chosen pronoun of soregashi and results in no small amount of mockery from her more cultured peers.
Physical Description: What is in an appearance? Is it an accurate reflection of the person within, or merely an arbitrary string of traits hard coded into your DNA? For Hanabi, appearance is linked to confusion and to questions. The original Chinda Kiriko was striking in her nondescript nature, black hair, black eyes – traditional Japanese girl in everything but presence. As an undeniable copy of Kiriko, Hanabi cannot escape the heavy resemblance between her current form and the woman that existed on this plane before her. Relegated as a pale shadow of that overpowering persona, Hanabi has done what she could to ensure she stands out as different, even if only slightly, from this world's Chinda Kiriko.
While shorter than average, Hanabi stands with such composure and force that her ramrod straight back gives the illusion of several extra inches, especially since she is careful to reinforce the masquerade by never standing too close to anyone else. With slim shoulders, turned almost forcefully back, she appears much like a little bird all puffed up and trying to make the bigger predator think twice about biting her. Much of Hanabi's carefully stylized appearance is just that, too cautious, and too planned out, and it shows. From her perfectly tailored Shinigami uniform with sleeves that reach just the standard two inches beyond her wrist, to her overzealous way of standing at all times in parade-rest, it becomes clear after only a few glances that Hanabi is trying to compensate for something.
That something upon closer inspection can be summed up as “normalcy.” Her body still holds much of the same shapes as it did in her childhood. Long limbs and the compact core of a gawky teenager on the cusp of something older. Hanabi's face carries the remnants of the baby fat of her youth though it is beginning to burn off to reveal sharp cheek bones and angled eyes. Still, maturity isn't necessarily something one would think of when they see her. And she seems to know this instinctively and tries to make up for it by controlling her facial muscles stiffly. Try as she might to always be serious and professional, with plenty of frowns and down-turned eyes, Hanabi just can't maintain that sort of look for long and will spontaneously revert back to her natural bright eyes and eager smiles.
This duality in her bearing makes everything she does a little bit awkward, like watching a colt learn to walk for the first time. She stumbles between overzealous extremes – either too heavily modulated, keeping her gestures stiff and formal, to a rapture of youthful energy as she laughs too loudly and smiles just a shade too brightly, all without ever seeming at ease with either option. Unable to settle on one mode or the other she only serves to make herself appear all the more uncomfortable with herself, as if she is a jerky marionette trying to act out what she believes to be expected of her without actually understanding what that is.
The one glaring difference between Hanabi and a younger Chinda Kiriko are the girl's eyes, which ever since the awakening of her Zanpakutou Spirit have taken on the twinkling ability of fireflies as they transition in and out between various unlikely hues. Hinata always croons something about a gift whenever Hanabi asks her spirit about the oddity, but whatever this change in appearance was supposed to achieve it has only resulted in Hanabi feeling more and more out of place among her peers. As a result of her displeasure with the odd looks she would received when her eyes brightened or faded, Hinata graciously compromised and Hanabi's eyes now stay a bright carmine red – not that the inhuman color has helped to avoid attention. Hinata has taken to bringing up the varied symbolism of the color red in the form of haikus whenever Hanabi gets too upset about the change.
In spite of her eyes, Hanabi does her best to appear as normal as possible. This results in a lot of effort put into minimizing and ignoring her body that so heavily resembles the other Kiriko. It has gotten to such an extent that now the only thing she truly takes pride in is her hair. Though the length does nothing to separate her from the ghost of Chinda Kiriko, Hanabi cannot help but maintain her old delight in her long hair, a delight that was born from her youth and the shared memories of styling her hair with her sisters. Hair and hair alone is the one trait that Hanabi cherishes and likes about herself no matter who it makes her look like.
Her hair is a glossy black, long silky strands stripped of any pigment until they hang smoothly down her back in a cascade of ink colored ringlets. It has a natural wave to it, but due to the length of her hair this is usually tamed through sheer weight, giving Hanabi a lot of versatility with her hair styles. She is fastidious about her appearance, and has an obsession with brushing her hair in the mirror again and again, aiming for the one-hundred strokes that were prized in most fairy-tale stories. This does her no real favors though and Hanabi ends up with bouncy locks that frizz this way and that, each individual hank a different tousled length so that her hair appears more like wide downy feathers than the one long stream of tresses that she was aiming for.
Despite her attention to her hair, Hanabi doesn't actually want others to see it, keeping her full appreciation of it as some sort of awkward memento to her true self. Instead, while in public, she tends to wear it up to reduce the attention her long locks can attract. Her favorite hairdo is one with a close connection to the Chinda Kiriko of this world, though Hanabi has never liked the way that woman's serious bun seems to make her frown all the time. Instead of doing one bun in the back, Hanabi pulls her hair up and splits it into two side-buns, or odango. Twisting the strands of hair, she rolls them into smooth balls, tucking the various lengths of hair into the ball, and tying it off with thin combat wire. To make herself more presentable Hanabi will tie longer strands of crimson colored ribbons to the base of her hair buns, both to secure them and to capitalize on her own gawky beauty.
No matter what iteration or style she wears though, Hanabi is careful to always accessorize cautiously. She understands that being a Shinigami is partially a public role and that the way the world sees you matters. For that reason she has accumulated a broad collection of kanzashi, or Japanese hair ornaments. With her meager funds she mostly makes the hair pins herself, laboriously folding scraps of silk into cascading flower chains, tiny origami birds, or sheaves of wheat depending on the season for her new pin. Wearing at least one is a mainstay, and the quiet tinkle of a metal bira-bira kanzashi or the shine of painted koga add a quiet sophistication to her otherwise somber look.
Clothing wise she holds a sharp disconnect between her professional life, or what she is starting to create as a professional life, and her off time. Because of that she can never be found without the proper attire and uniform while on duty and yet it stays on her body not a second longer than her preordained hours of service. Hanabi isn't used to clothes of any real quality so she finds her uniform to be of the highest luxury and takes care of it accordingly, ensuring that it is perfectly pressed and starched and that all corners are creased exactly as the day she received it.
Her fascination with textiles has led her to collect a hodgepodge of kimono and other articles of clothes, though she is most comfortable in her familiar yukata. When not working she likes to practice the art of kitsuke and does her best to follow current fashions as she sees them – mostly very outdated and often completely different from this world's newest trends.
Who am I?
Personality: Upon first glance, Hanabi seems to be summed up in one word; control. To win at this puzzle called life one must be able to master themselves first before they can master the world around them. Hanabi has always been adaptable, seeking to morph and shift herself and her perspective so as to better survive the difficulties of her life. Control is the one aspect that has never escaped her, for it is through controlling her mind, thoughts, emotions, and body, that she can escape the rigors and dangers of living and potentially navigate the millions of future paths to find that elusive happiness she dreams about.
While she seeks to have perfect control over herself, this is inevitably an impossibility. The very things that Hanabi wants to control are ephemeral and hard to grasp, rising up from between clenched fingers no matter how hard she squeezes. While she can shape and reshape herself according to her own needs, she can never erase what has been and how that history holds power over who she is now. Chinda Kiriko's emotions and experiences leave an insidious taint on her soul, invisible hand prints that linger and soak through, even as she tries to recreate herself in the image of Enyo Hanabi. So Hanabi excels at the smaller domains of control; she is hardworking, dedicated and fastidious to the last detail. She flows through minutiae as if they give meaning to her life, finding joy in the simplicity of doing known activities perfectly again and again. She is law-abiding and trustworthy, professional to the point of often irritating her peers. Her grasp of etiquette and protocol make others appear all the more foolish. If there is a skill that can be learned to accomplish the goals set before Hanabi, she will be certain to master it in record time without complaint. All of these things she is good at, nearly flawless in her commitment to being as close to perfect as she can be.
And yet, the safe path, the tried and true method of doing exactly what is needed from you, excelling at all requirements, that is not the desire of her soul. Hanabi lives and breaths protocol because it makes her feel protected, it gives her a purpose and a drive that create an undeniable acceptance. No one can be mad at her, or hate her, or harm her, if she always does what she is told and does it well. No one can turn the tables on her or surprise her if she knows her books of protocol backwards and forwards. If only she can prepare for any contingency, then she can be in control of her life. She can be safe, ensconced in her own power instead of someone elses.
But that is merely the outer shell of Enyo Hanabi, the personality that she has culled from the dying Chinda Kiriko and forged into the armor of Hanabi. Hanabi is more than dull obligation and practiced perfection. In choosing her new name, Hanabi purposefully evoked the image of the sun, of flames and rebirth and the dazzling explosion of fireworks. She wanted to be reborn herself, recreated as a creature of light instead of what felt like her past in the shadows. If all was to be taken from her, she wanted Enyo Hanabi to be someone with a heart of gold.
That desire grew stronger as time passed, as Hanabi saw exactly what had happened to this world's Chinda Kiriko, and as she realized the depths of despair and darkness that the woman had fallen to. Seeing that mania, the darkest side of the very same need for control that ruled her life, Hanabi promised herself that she would seek to become the opposite of this world's Chinda Kiriko. They shared the same blood, the same DNA, the same history, but she would not be a mirror's reflection. She refused to let herself become that broken shadow when there was so much sunlight in this world.
And so Hanabi lives for that sunlight, for the captured moments of peace and happiness. As her Oneesama taught her long ago, Hanabi strives for the happiness that she knows she can one day achieve. She cannot control this side of herself, cannot remove the unprofessional and childish aspects that mark her as naïve. She might never be a good soldier mentally, for all that she steels herself to the task, but her wonder at life, her deep-rooted desire to be kind, her love for learning, her profound yearning for peace, all these things are what make Hanabi whole. Uncultured she might be, her emotions unfettered by any skillful manipulation or smooth ability to disassemble, but Hanabi has a simple purity that shines through her stiff walls. She wants for life to be good, an overwhelming desire that leads her into trouble after trouble as it turns out life is not as simple as her imagined fairy-tales would lead one to expect.
Eager to find joy in all aspects of life, Hanabi prefers a slow approach to new experiences, one that she can monitor and control and mine for all of its fresh sensations. She needs that level of distance from the quick pace of life, time to think things through and react internally before engaging outwardly. This sort of ponderous nature makes her a great analyst, but a not so useful field-agent. There are simply too many threads to consider in each new picture for Hanabi to come to her conclusions all that rapidly, and she hates most of all to be rushed into word or action.
Is this my mask?
- Hard-Working: Hanabi grew up in rough circumstances and ever since the age she could be trusted to walk without assistance she was given some sort of task to assist the group. This upbringing was enough to instill in her a strong sense of a work ethic and she not only feels at odds when she isn't giving her all but she also can't imagine a situation where she would want to slack off. With her current situation, working hard and throwing herself into the tasks that are given to her has become something of an escape, the monotony of action being the only time that she can truly lose her sense of displacement. These two facts have built up to ensure that Hanabi is never quite able to relax or give up on a job until it is done so completely and perfectly that no one else can complain about it. She likes to think of this as her best trait, for while she's never felt confident in any of her other abilities or skills, working hard is something that she can control and something that she herself chose to be emblematic of her personality.
- Methodical: A correlation to having such a strong work ethic, Hanabi is never satisfied until something had been done thoroughly and completely. She always prefers to go about something slowly to make sure she has checked off every box rather than to rush to get something done but potentially miss the smallest of details. This focus on the tiny things is part of the reason that she was able to progress so quickly at the Academy and adapt to the other Kiriko's demands. To put it simply, she takes pride in her work, and to ensure that everything is up to her standards she makes it a priority to give all her focus and time to whatever she is working on. This also gives Hanabi the chance to focus on a routine, something safe and pre-planned, rather than rushing ahead and finding herself in a situation she wasn't expecting.
- Calm: Perhaps originally due to her own self-respect Hanabi has a hard time showing when she's rattled. She never wanted anyone in her family to pick up on her pains because she didn't want to bother them, and because she was too proud to accept help most of the time for her own issues. This natural rectitude grew into something more like self-assurance after she was brought to this world and suffered under the other Kiriko's control. Falling deep inside herself to escape the trauma of what had happened to her, Hanabi soon realized that the more she shut down the harder it was to scare or rattle her. She became inured to being thrown into situations without any control and eventually Hanabi realized that she had a certain sense of perpetual calmness because she knew no matter what happened she would find a way to survive and move on. Moving on was all that she really had and her track record of getting through bad situations was such that most things now completely fail to shake her. That is not to say that Hanabi is never afraid or full of shock or bewilderment, just that she tends to view trials as expected and it is hard for her to completely lose her cool.
- Optimistic: Life is full of sadness and pain, and Hanabi is well acquainted with it all. That's what makes her conscious decision to search unfailingly for the bright side of life so divergent from this world's Kiriko. She holds a deep belief that happiness is all about perspective, just as pain and anger are, and that it is up to her to choose how she views her life. The same events can be interpreted in many different ways, and Hanabi is the one who can decide to be optimistic or cheerful about things rather than wallowing in her darker emotions. She tries to balance her willful naivety with a solid understanding of reality, which is what makes her hopeful rather than innocent. She might not believe the best of everyone or even the world itself, but she will do her best not to judge things outright, and to hold out hope that anyone or thing can have a positive impact on her life.
- Dependable: Hanabi has never wanted to be a leader of any sort. She never trusted herself to take care of her own problems, let alone help other people,but due to her attention to detail along with her unflappable nature she has ended up with a lot of leadership positions in the Academy. All of which have taught her the more formal ethics about having people depend on you. Her whole life she always had to take care of her family and siblings, and yet had appreciated being a loner, someone who could isolate herself without causing anyone much harm or distress. Now Hanabi has realized that her other traits have come together to put her in a position where people often come to her for different sorts of things and it is expected of a Shinigami to be responsible for those around them. With the right justification, she has found that she actually quite enjoys being in charge of other people or having them rely on her because it gives some worth to her struggles to learn and master new skills. At least if she's helping other people and being there for them there was a reason for all these bad things to have happened to herself. Despite her own isolation due to her heavy secret, when surrounded by people who need her for something, Hanabi truly begins to feel alive, as if the group is what gives her a reason to be all that she can be and do her best. To let someone down is something that plagues her nightmares and it pushes her to become even more focused on supporting those around her.
- Professional: Hanabi is afraid of letting people get close to her after several threats from the other Kiriko about what would happen if her secret was found out. Due to this, and her own standoffish nature, she is rather awkward around people when it isn't a formal situation. Formality she can understand and control. Formality won't betray her weaknesses or secrets. And so Hanabi has sought to become as formal as possible, to study every stitch of writing on protocol and etiquette that was available to her and to grill her better trained classmates whenever possible. Finding that formality also gave her an answer to pretty much every difficult interpersonal experience and Hanabi has clung to those books as if they were the gospel, letting them seep into her mind and dictate her actions. This had garnered her praise from her teachers for being so perfectly mannered and professional in all aspects of work, but it certainly hasn't made making friends any easier as Hanabi realized quite early on that people found her excessive ceremony strange. Sinking into the blank face of being a professional though is another sort of refuge because in that state there is nothing that anyone can really be mad at her for doing. Not if her conduct is perfect at all times, and so Hanabi has taken to it as a sort of perpetual armor to ward of the other Kiriko's anger alongside the overtures of a social world that she doesn't understand.
- Adaptable: Hanabi notices things quickly, picking up on the rules of whatever situation she is in almost automatically. She's been so ingrained to change herself to survive whatever danger is going on at the moment that she almost doesn't even think of it anymore. It's a defense mechanism that has cropped up with some rather powerful impacts on her normal personality as well, for Hanabi doesn't become as distressed as her peers when something doesn't go her way or when she has to immediately switch tracks in the middle of something. She's used to changing all the time to fit her situation and it's become a gift of sorts that she enjoys being flexible enough to never get stuck in a bad spot. Adaptability isn't an insult, it's what has allowed her to survive so long, and she cherishes the lessons she has learned by being able to go with the flow and somehow still end up in one piece.
Or is this my mask?
- Easily Angered: Hanabi has dealt with overwhelming power her whole life. First her tyrannical Chichiue who everyone just capitulated to in order to avoid getting hurt by and then the other Kiriko who outlines every aspect of her life and has succeeded in erasing her true identity and forcing this life on her. Her response to that type of power and control is to fold in on herself and turn into nothing, to blank away anything that might get her in trouble. Including her rather strident sense of self-respect and anger. But without the direct interference of someone who she thinks will attack her for being vocally derisive, Hanabi is actually quite a bundle of easily riled up nerves. She doesn't like a lot of things about other people, especially when they don't respect her, and it's hard for her to keep her temper after having to mute it for most of her life. Righteous fury is the hardest emotion for Hanabi to repress, especially since she believes so strongly in human justice.
- Defensive: Being in trouble in the past has always resulted in physical pain or mental abuse, and now that Hanabi is somewhat free of people who have direct control over her every action or thought she is really not okay with people pinning crimes or mistakes on her. Even if they are valid. Despite knowing that no one ever believes her when she goes overboard in denying any culpability, she can't quite stop herself from going over the top in denying that she has ever made a mistake in anything. Even when someone implies something, or she merely thinks they implied something about her, she has to go out of her way to make sure that they believe that she didn't do anything wrong. It's the only way to make sure that no one can hurt her for making a mistake.
- Demanding: Hanabi gives her all to her teammates and comrades, and she expects the same in return. Loyalty is hard for her because of her past of being used by other people and taken advantage of. But she knows deep down inside that there should be something about equivalency in this world – so if she does something for someone else they owe her the same amount of effort or risk in return. And if they don't give it she becomes very upset. It's not just rude, it's an affront to her own security, because why is she risking herself for someone if they won't do the same for her? Due to this, and her rather obsessive focus on rules and details, Hanabi is never quite satisfied with what goes on around her unless it is flawless and perfect according to her own standards.
- Outspoken: Hanabi knows what is right because she's made an effort to read all the books she could get her hands on about mission protocol and proper conduct and anything else that would enlighten her about this new world. What she can't understand is people who haven't done the same thing as her, or put in the same amount of effort, and for those people she holds back nothing in castigating their crimes and affronts. As quiet as she is in front of authority, Hanabi's inborn feeling that anyone not doing what is right needs to be corrected pushes her to voice her outrage or expectations at any moment. Everyone stronger than her seems to do it to her all the time, so on some level Hanabi believes this is okay to do to people below her no matter how cutting or acerbic the end result.
- Controlling: Everything around her is so fluid and that's okay because she can get through it by changing herself to fit a new situation. But her true fear lays in losing a sense of her self, in losing control of who she is. Chinda Kiriko no longer exists. Who is Enyo Hanabi? And what happens now? What happens with the people who know that she is only a copy of another person who lives in this world? That she's an intruder from another dimension? What happens to herself now that she had to hide away from reality and recreate herself as someone different? Control over her own fate is an imperative, control and understanding and a strong grasp on her identity, all of these things are vital for Hanabi even as she balances her natural proclivity to adapt and change with the times. In this way, despite being rather easily convinced to shift an opinion or go along with a new plan, Hanabi prizes the ability to control what she is doing, to remain levelheaded and in control of her responses. For her, the loss of control over her own emotions and her mind would be the biggest blow, and thus she clamps down hard on anything that would endanger this very necessary ability to master herself if she cannot master anything else in this world.
"Mine is a stabilizing force that perpetuates the cycle of life. I stand immobile against the test of adversity, resolute and unimpeachable. I seek to serve integrity, to the burdens of righteousness. I abide by the laws of nature, patiently pushing the wheel of Fate. Thus, shall I weave my own destiny."
Astrology Element: Metal [what others perceive you as]
"Metal, the fourth phase of the Chinese philosophy of Wu Xing, is yin in character, its motion is inwards and its energy is contracting. Metal attributes are considered to be firmness, rigidity, persistence, strength, and determination. The metal person is controlling, ambitious, forceful, and set in their ways as metal is very strong. They are self-reliant and prefer to handle their problems alone. The metal person is also wise, business oriented, and good at organization and stability. Just as metal can conduct electricity, the metal person has strong impulses and has a strong will."
Inner Element: Earth [what you are internally]
"Earth is the third element in the Wu Xing cycle and is a balance of both yin and yang, the feminine and masculine together. Its motion is inward and centering, and its energy is stabilizing and conserving. Earth is associated with the qualities of patience, thoughtfulness, practicality, hard work, and stability. The earth element is also nurturing and seeks to draw all things together with itself, in order to bring harmony, rootedness and stability."
Hinata [妃陽] | Queen of Heaven
Zanpakutou Spirit's Essence: Hanabi is best represented by the element earth, she is solid and dependable, choosing to work hard at the same thing until it is perfected rather than change course. Hinata is in clear opposition to that nature, as mercurial as they come. She could very well represent air, flowing and weaving and shifting at all times and never again the same as it was once before. She is the sophistication and subtlety to Hanabi's plain straightforward nature, just as she is the heart to Hanabi's shell of unfeeling iron. The two are duality at its best, however never totally in opposition of each other. Hanabi wishes for some level of that emotional freedom that Hinata offers, understanding implicitly in the need for change and flexibility, whereas Hinata is tempered somewhat by Hanabi's dedication to reality and levelheaded view on practicalities.
Zanpakutou Spirit's Appearance: Hinata enjoys being enigmatic, it seems to be the crux of her high-strung personality that she takes such great joy in being overly mysterious and complicated. True to her illusory nature she has the ability to shift her own form to reflect whatever image she desires to take on at that moment in time. This initially created quite a few issues as Hinata first appeared to Hanabi in the form of a high-born noble lady, a reflection of a past connection in this world that the other Kiriko angrily derided when she demanded a description of Hanabi's Spirit. Later she would realize that Hinata had taken on the shape and form of Kiriko's old Inner Hollow, and from then on the woman constantly referred to Hanabi's sword-spirit as Hahaue even though it slowly became clearer that whatever Hanabi and Kiriko shared when it came to the makeup of their soul Hinata was not a replica of Hahaue in anything other than appearance.
This troubling beginning was not endemic of Hanabi's relationship with Hinata, for once she learned the spirit's true name the rippling changes and easy permutation of the older woman became something of a refuge for Hanabi in a world that seemed intent on impressing ugly similarities between Hanabi and Kiriko. With Hinata, at the very least, Hanabi could truly be someone else, anyone else, and it was in sharing that special refuge that Hinata revealed her truest reflection.
Hinata takes the form of a large white-scaled snake, slender of body with a narrow curved head and nearly endless coils. Her eyes are a shimmering ruby-red, with slitted pupils that seem to evoke the image of camellia petals with their soft-hues and tender gaze. Despite having the visage of a predator, Hinata has always carried a refined veneer over any semblance of animalistic emotions, and thus while her gaze can be piercing it is never visceral.
Long flat plates around her head are fully articulate and can lift up or lay flat to give the snake a puffed up ruff or a more slender dainty appearance depending on her mood, and their shifting seem to be the best way of sensing the spirit's true feelings due to her lack of human facial features. Several meters below Hinata's jaw begin fluffy protrusions made from bone white downy feathers. These “wings” are strong arches of bone that Hinata usually keeps folded around her mid-section like the imperial sweep of a noblewoman's kimono sleeves.
Lower down the scales on her body turn to silvered tones, iridescent colors that shimmer like moonlight until finally turning a true metallic at the end of her body where a tail should sit. Instead of a narrowed tail like a regular snake Hinata's body tapers off into a smoothly curved blade that glitters wickedly even without any light sources.
This form is Hinata's truth, her own real self, and thus it is not the one that she takes most of the time because it represents honesty and openness, two things which she does her best to obscure even with Hanabi. She takes it on only in moments of true vulnerability or heights of emotions, times when she is being completely sincere with Hanabi.
The rest of the time she still favors various illusions, her favorite of which is the high-born noble lady that she had first appeared as, though with the addition of a white snake curled around her body.
No matter what form she takes her voice remains the same, a delicate sound akin to the metallic ring of bells. With a heavy emphasis on pitch Hinata's voice can convey depths beyond normal understanding which more than makes up for any hidden expressions or lack of facial features in her various shapes. In sharp contrast to Hanabi, she speaks only in Kyoto-ben, with an especial focus on the most traditional and archaic of phrases such that a Geiko might use, the most noticeable tell being her personal pronoun choice of warawa.
Zanpakutou Spirit's Personality: Hinata is foremost a genteel woman. Someone who covers her mouth when smiling and speaks through covert glances and poetic turns of phrase. She is an enigma wrapped in a secret and coated with the bright sheen of mystery, and that is exactly the way that she likes it. No matter how close she is to Hanabi she exists on her secrets and thus despite their easy nature and camaraderie Hinata is nothing if not cryptic even when trying to help or assist her owner.
The very sharp divide in their soul has given Hinata the worldliness and maturity of a full grown woman while Hanabi lags behind like the country bumpkin she used to be. Hinata represents the knowledge and power of a courtesan, someone who holds all the secrets in the world and has the ability to define truth with the flutter of her eyelashes. All of Hanabi's straightforwardness and desire to work hard and profit from that alone is reversed in Hinata, who cherishes the intellectual in all forms, especially when it means playing smart instead of hard.
Despite the allure of control, the appeal of being a master at any game, Hinata represents the whirlwind of pure emotion that Hanabi often tries to avoid within herself. Passionate in all things, Hinata glows with an inner light, no matter if it comes from the deepest of rages or the heights of joy. She is a flurry of constantly changing and artfully expressed awareness, made not weaker by her powerful emotions but somehow larger than life, as if the flames of her feelings could burn away even the sun itself.
Above all Hinata is comfortable with her nature, perfectly at ease with every facet of her personality and demeanor. She looks down at Hanabi's childish stumbling and endless worrying as a Queen might deign to listen to a favored vassal's troubles, never quite able to understand the lack of experience that leads to such foibles. This chasm between the two is what has created most if not all of their arguments since the time that Hinata revealed herself to Hanabi.
Inner World: A rocky pillar rises up out of the vast misty darkness, heavy and solid but perilously narrow. This towering column of stone is grounded somewhere miles below, however, whatever plain or earth that exists at its base is obscured by thick cloudy mists that play peek-a-boo with the crags and rocky outcroppings of the pillar. At its peak, the stone is flat and well-worn, baked with the heat of a far away sun. An unadorned expanse of stone, the only decorations here are the stiff protrusions of the sides of the pillar itself. Up this high, one should be able to see for miles around, but instead of any clear landscape the very air around the pillar is a swirling maelstrom of visible wind that shrouds all else. Air caught up with the tinted hue of sunlight, each breeze battling against its neighbor is a faceted shade totally unlike any other in the sky. The wind is almost always violently ferocious, hurling and twirling and dancing with eager delight and all the fury and wild abandon of nature. In contrast, the very air above the stone platform is still, stirring only lightly in the safety of that granite circle and providing a quiet place from which to watch the riotous colors of the wind.
Sealed Zanpakutou: Hinata is an unorthodox zanpakutou in that it never takes the shape one would expect, and while it is quite capable of showing a particular image to those around it – in truth the real appearance of Hanabi's sealed Zanpakutou is that of an ornate hand-held mirror. About a foot tall and half as wide, the mirror is split into two parts; the flowing frame and the center pane that serves as a reflective material.
The center pane is made from polished bronze, but it seems to grow cloudy at times before revealing the clarity of a normal mirror. The bronze is like a pool of still water coalesced between the edges of the frame in that it gives off that same sort of liquid appearance, shimmering and deep, and yet it is merely one-dimensional no matter how hard you tilt it or look at it from various angles.
The frame around the center pane is an older tarnished silver, threaded through with gold to give it an almost metallic sheen. The detailing is complex with slips of metal looping and banding to form a myriad of inter-locking patterns. Unlike the center pane, this framework seems to be in constant motion, with the pieces of metal shifting and contorting to form new and more elaborate decorations and schemes. It holds to two main themes usually, that being geometric shapes, commonly triangles and octagons, or animals which are almost exclusively various birds, the most common being cranes or magpies. The only thing that stays constant in the design are the four directional outcroppings that jut above, below, and on each side of the mirror. These tines of metal are tipped with a delicate triangle and happen to be the only safe way to hold the mirror due to its constant shifting.
In light of Hinata's inability to take the form of a traditional Zanpakutou, the mirror seems to have developed a natural illusion to disguise its contempt for normal shapes and forms. Whether this means that the mirror isn't the fully sealed version of Hanabi's Zanpakutou or not remains to be seen as Hinata refuses to disclose the truth of the matter. In this case though, Hinata's vainglorious nature ensures that even when showing up as a simple sword it is always an overly ornate and bedecked sort of blade – precisely the sort to draw the attention Hanabi so desperately wishes to avoid.
As a sword, Hinata clearly desires to be among the best of them, representing herself not as the common katana or even a more demure wakizashi, but instead a cumbersome nagimaki. With a hilt as long as the blade itself, Hinata seems more concerned with the decorative spacing of the tsuka rather than any actual utilitarian purpose. And not one to waste any chance for a show, Hinata's tsuka is indeed an amazing display of artistic ability. Nagimaki are remembered for the particular method of wrapping the tsuka, using a criss-crossing pattern, often without the aid of ito. Hinata takes this to the next level by flaunting her sophistication with a five-tiered criss-cross pattern, each layer taking on a slightly different sheen of purple so that the wrapping of the hilt almost appears to be a weaving. The center of the tsuba has a scrolling scene of magpies taking flight done in the brightest of amethyst hues with darkening shades spreading outward like rippling water until the very edges are tainted an obsidian black with just the barest glimmer of purple peeping out like a spread of star spangled sky. The tsuba is gold-gilt of the finest gauge and appears to copy Hinata's mirror form by continually shifting and flowing with various illustrations of cranes or at times geometric patterns. A thick saya made from some dark but heavily polished wood completes the ostentatious look, flat triangles of mother of pearl and thin wedges of gold scroll down the flat of the saya to depict a cloudy daylight scene opposite of the hilt's midnight flight.
Shikai Appearance: Yume no yo ni konagona, Hinata! | Shatter like a dream, Hinata!
In shikai, Hinata reveals her offensive side, as the hand-mirror shatters into hundreds of crystalline fragments that then re-form in Hanabi's hands as a dual pair of fans. Faceted edges smooth together to create a simulacra of tessen, traditional Japanese war fans, and while their translucent nature and glass-like structure give them the appearance of utter fragility the tessen have actually solidified into hefty chunks of reflective crystal capable of being used as weaponry.
The most alluring and obvious change from normal tessen is that since Hinata is purely glass and other reflective material, the pieces that have fit together to form the tessen retain their individual nature and create a myriad of reflected colors and hues much like a prism in direct sunlight. Hinata seems to glow with a fairy light, a softly daubed hue that shifts and twinkles like a rainbow. Upon closer inspection, each tiny facet of glass is reflecting back an individual image or scene, casting a particular color back out at the world as if each prism contains a singular spark of flame. When moving quickly one can almost see the flicker of that inner fire fan out along the edges of the tessen as if a flag made from flames is stirring in the wind.
Shikai Abilities: Hinata deals with illusions, and the illusionary nature of belief itself. Her power reflects that uncanny ability she has for knowing in one glance just what is truth and what lie, or even more importantly, what is believed to be truth or lie. When an image is caught in the reflection of one of the pieces of glass that make up her Shikai form, the reflected object, be it physical or spiritual in nature, is transformed into an illusion. Being that only Hanabi knows that the object is now illusory, it works to the effect of allowing her to phase through what should be solid or tangible in the world around her. The heart of this power is the strength of belief, for Hinata capitalizes on the smallest amount of doubt, the tiniest seed of emotional turmoil, and uses that to shift another's reatisu into a harmless illusion. Seeing to the heart of a person, even if only through personal insight and trickery, gives Hanabi her true power, as she seeks to exploit the ambiguities of battle and create the artful illusion that she is in control and her target is nothing but the victim of inescapable fate, or better yet the victim of flaws in their own soul.
Current Divisions: Academy
Previous Divisions: Tangentially affiliated with the Second
1902 - Born in the Rukongai in District 72 | Mizune in East Rukongai
1915 - Nagi-chan is added to the family
1931 - The nomadic tribe is pushed out to District 76 Sakahone is East Rukongai
1972 - A fire destroy's the nomad's camp and kills Kiriko's Hahaue.
2013 - Kidnapped by Severance and Penance and brought to this world
2013 - Took on the alias Enyo Hanabi and enlisted in the Academy
2015 - First made contact with Hinata, her Zanpakutou Spirit
Where does life begin? Where do I begin?
An old story, or maybe not:
“Sometimes I can feel my bones straining under the weight of all the lives I’m not living.”
—Jonathan Safran Foer, Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Rukongai | 1902-1924
Kiriko has never really learned where she came in that numeration, there were simply too many siblings to keep track of, even for her Mother. Somewhere in the middle for sure though, because she had a difficult time growing up with several younger siblings arriving at all times and taking the attention away from her formative stages.
A loud and needy baby, she grew into a sullen and quiet child. There was never enough for a family that had only the spiritual power to draw hunger but not quite enough for the promised income of a Shinigami offspring. Everything was shared, split into fourths, tenths, even sometimes fifteenths. Food, clothes, shelter, love, all of it had to be spread out to reach the many needy children, and it was a tacit understanding that no one would ever really have enough of anything. Kiriko was not okay with that fact and she came to focus on it more and more as she grew old enough to realize what was going on. To realize just how unfair this situation was, as she was forced again and again to share things that she had found or that should have belonged to her and her alone.
When the family fell on worse luck than usual, the whole tribe picked up and moved deeper into some of the poorest districts in the Rukongai. They settled into a lowlands area, so far out that there ceased to be city or collective buildings and all that remained was wilderness. That was not to say they were alone though, for other roving bands of souls lurked this far away from Shinigami rule, and safety and life became harder than ever before.
The only light in Kiriko's bleak existence was that of her Oneesama who showed her all the good that Kiriko naturally spurned and ignored in her daily quest to be angry and jealous. Her Oneesama took notice of the wretchedness that Kiriko was harboring inside of her, that little seed of pain that Kiriko rolled over and over in her stomach like a clam working on a pearl, and she seemed to realize in that whirlwind of neediness that Kiriko was on a path of destruction.
It started out simply. After their Father had left the room during dinner, her Oneesama would inch closer and smile as she handed Kiriko half of her rice. When it rained, she would lean over and tuck Kiriko between her legs so that her hair didn't get wet. When Kiriko skinned her knee, she would use her own sleeve to wipe away the blood and give the motherly kiss on her forehead that Kiriko wanted so badly from her own Mother. It was her Oneesama that noticed Kiriko as someone separate from her siblings, and it was her Oneesama that singled her out for special attention.
Kiriko loved her for that. More than she loved anything else. More, even, than she loved herself. And that love allowed her to realize that as angry as she was at her fate, as jealous and needy as she was, so long as she was with her Oneesama there were still rays of sunshine to focus on. Her Oneesama taught her to find those sparks of light and to cup them in her hands like precious water, to let the warmth seep through her palms to save for another day when there was no light to be found.
“We tell ourselves stories in order to live.”
--The white album by Joan Didion
It was boring tedious work but slowly Kiriko began to see progress. After getting the approval of her teachers to move from spinning yarn into actual weaving the little girl realized that the work she was doing had an end product, and not just a string of lumpy yarn either, but a thick cloth to keep the body warm at night! Her first few attempts went towards utilitarian goals. Kiriko knew it was not about her effort but about the quality of her product, but she couldn't help but burn inside when her grandmother took her first piece of cloth and cut it up into small squares to be used as bandages for their ill. The next went to baby diapers, the next a blanket, and so on and so on. But with each woven cloth Kiriko was learning new skills until finally she could produce a weave that was worthy of the marketplace, something that would bring her family money so that her Father could stop complaining about how useless she was.
After realizing that her efforts could actually have an impact, that she was part of how her family bought food and other supplies they couldn't make, Kiriko threw herself into her work. She had a new-found drive, but she lacked interest as the backbreaking toil made her hands cramp and her eyes go bleary. The other women seemed to pick up on her problem after her skill started slipping during the long hours, and one day her grandmother told her a secret. If you are bored, it's because you're not creative enough to distract yourself. By all accounts Kiriko lacked creativity, favoring the same patterns as she was taught and doing the same stitches over and over and over again until they were perfect, but with the admonition of her grandmother in her ears she realized that this was just another situation that seemed bad on the outside but just might have a silver lining on the inside.
It took a lot of experimenting, but eventually with her Oneesama's advice, Kiriko decided to tell herself stories about the patterns she was weaving into her fabric. The shapes became familiar characters, each shade or line telling about a new affliction or event that befell them. Geometric patterns weren't enough though, not for the stories that she wanted to tell, and soon Kiriko was toying around with scraps of colored fabric until she came up with a way of using those squares and lines and triangles to create imagery that was so much more than the individual pieces.
"For small creatures such as we, the vastness is bearable only through love."
--- Carl Sagan, Contact.
Rukongai | 1951-2012
As her status in the family improved, though only marginally when it came to her Father's general disdain for all his offspring, Kiriko realized that life could be okay if you only worked hard enough at it. Her Oneesama was there whenever she got particularly angry or upset, and while she tried her hardest to always follow her Oneesama's lessons, Kiriko had never been a truly gracious child and that certainly never changed. Though as she grew, and the years passed, she began to look back at her bond with her Oneesama and made the conscious decision to do the same thing for her other siblings. Reaching out to the younger ones wasn't as hard as she had imagined, and Kiriko immediately found her favorite among all those adoring eyes.
Little Nagisa was so optimistic and cute, and the way she would perk up the moment Kiriko took her hand and stole her away from the rest of the work was actually pretty endearing. Enough so that Kiriko put up with the non-stop questions and the hero-worship that ensued. Kiriko liked to believe she hadn't been that needy when she was that age, but her Oneesama just laughed when she asked her and waved the question off.
Several decades passed until anything changed. Kiriko had just turned 70 by her own approximations when a disastrous fire took the lives of many of her fellow tribesman, including her own Mother. Three of her siblings also perished but after digging through the charred cinders of their home Kiriko was amazed to find that Nagisa had miraculously survived the flames.
After that things were different. Their Father had always been stubborn and angry, he was the clan head so he had to be seen as decisive and powerful, but with the death of his wife he lost whatever softness had remained within his soul and became a true taskmaster. None of his children were spiritually strong enough to seek revenge on the man he blamed for the fire, but they still had one thing to offer to him – work. And so he did what he did best, blustering and yelling until everyone was happy to do anything just to stay on his good side.
It was easier for Kiriko because of her skills with weaving. She was by no means renown, but the local markets where they sold their goods had begun to pick up notice with some of the districts of the Rukongai that were better off than hers and several families had commissioned work directly from her. She used that small political power to keep Nagisa away from her Father's moods, pulling her into the weaving house with the excuse that the little girl was too clumsy to handle other types of work. Kiriko never knew how her Oneesama survived in that toxic environment, but after their Mother's death the older soul seemed to take on even more of a burden as she struggled to oversee the food production and care of the rag tag group that was their family.
Every once and awhile their enclave would hear some rumblings or rumors from Seireitei but they were so far removed that it was rare indeed. Kiriko's Father would always say that they were exaggerated stories and laugh at anyone who wanted to gossip about them, but for Kiriko they were fodder for her weavings as she folded in the characters she heard about most in those whispered stories. There were all the greats, a cast of dashing heroes and evil villains, and while their actual exploits didn't have much of an impact on Kiriko's life, she made it her job to keep track of what was going on in the world of the higher powers. Nagisa was quick and had a good ear, so when the work was slow Kiriko would send her out to bring back the latest gossip, sitting at her loom and ruminating on the stories as she tried to imagine what life was really like in Seireitei or the Human World.
"i have lost millions and millions
of words to fear.
tell me that is not violence."
-the deaths, nayyirah waheed
Seireitei | 2013
Smiling to herself at the antics of what was sure to be one of her littler siblings, Kiriko slowed her pace politely and continued foraging for wood. The little noises kept at it, and only later would Kiriko have time to wonder at that odd discrepancy, time to wonder and consider that it had been meant as an intimidation tactic. It was certainly an intimidation tactic when she bent down for one last piece of kindling and the air rippled like water before two people stepped out of thin-air nearly an inch from her face.
Crying out in shock, Kiriko dropped her armful of wood and scrambled back, managing to fall rather ungracefully as she scrabbled in the dirt. Even later her brain seemed to have wiped away the conversation that ensued, with two powerful looking women looming over her as if they were Gods and her mind going white with static fear. That first assumption proved to be apt as the women's combined reiatsu held her pinned to the earth while they argued, and it was all Kiriko could do to stay conscious beneath those cold looks.
The woman who caught her gaze first was slender and tall, wrapped in floating pieces of black cloth that hovered around her like spider-silk. It was her pink hair that seemed the most outrageous though not compared to the eyes which were filled with such utter boredom that Kiriko cringed each time the woman glanced her way. The second woman appeared a mere afterthought physically until she moved that was, as her forceful gestures caused a painful pressure to flood the forest that more than made up for the nondescript black color scheme. But there was something strange about her face, something familiar. As if she was looking in a mirror at herself twenty years from now. An angry and violent twenty years from now. Whatever else she noticed about the women, Kiriko knew that they were deadly, and as she wrapped her arms around her knees and tried to shrink into the earth she only hoped that they were there for something else. Anything else.
“Get up.” It was the first sentence that had been directed towards Kiriko since the two had magically formed out of thin air. She had rather been hoping that the longer they snipped at each other the more likely it was they simply hadn't noticed her, or maybe she was just so insignificant that they were going to ignore her indefinitely so long as she stayed silent. That sentence though, hissed through gritted teeth from the shorter, more angry lady, was just one in a long line of disappointments that day. It was only then that Kiriko realized neither of the women had Zanpakutou, and her dwindling prayers that they were some sort of powerful Shinigami and not here to hurt her vanished even as she tried her best to push off the ground with that explosive reiatsu pushing her right back down.
The black haired woman's glare seemed to deepen at Kiriko's inability to stand and she sighed dramatically even as the pink haired woman deadpanned something that sounded like a joke – though no one laughed. Feeling tears creep up against her eyelids, Kiriko began to whisper a prayer her Mother had taught her when she was very little, begging on the gods to come and save her from these angry spirits. The black haired woman's face twisted into a rictus of such rage that Kiriko nearly stuttered to a halt in her prayers as the woman surged forward and backhanded her so hard that Kiriko tasted blood. It wasn't as if she had never been struck before, but something about the expression in the black haired woman's face and the painful familiarity of her appearance made the blow all the more shocking.
“Shut up,” the woman hissed, grabbing Kiriko's wrist with an iron-tight grip and dragging her forward, though whether the command was aimed at the now silent Kiriko or the smirking pink haired woman was unclear. As her heart constricted in fear Kiriko didn't dare disobey the direct order by begging for her life, though she was certain that this was the end. She still had her honor, and she wouldn't demean her name by falling to her knees and crying for mercy. Not when these two terrifying woman seemed so very unmoved by the blood on her lip or her bald-faced terror. Instead she closed her eyes and continued to pray, mouthing the words silently so as not to arouse any more blows from her strange captors.
Clenching her eyes shut, Kiriko clung to the faint hope that this was all a dream, that the longer and harder she held her eyes closed the more likely it would be she would wake up back in her bed next to her sisters. She kept her eyes closed even as the pink haired woman created another portal and she was dragged through it into a different realm entirely. Squeezing her eyes shut as coarse sand and heat blew around her body before she was dragged through yet another portal and back into Soul Society. She even kept her eyes shut tight as the black haired woman pulled her down empty hallway after hallway, holding out for her prayers to be answered and for this to all be a nightmare.
It was only when the woman threw her bodily into an empty room and Kiriko slammed shoulder first against a thick metal wall that her eyes flew open and she realized she was wrong. The feeling of a dream persisted though, throughout the next few days as Kiriko learned that the black haired woman's name was Chinda Kiriko – that she was in fact herself, from a different dimension. And that the pink haired lady had been a woman named Severance who had helped this dimension's Kiriko find and bring her here. At first she hadn't believe it, hadn't understood a word that was being said. Couldn't get her brain to absorb the terrible finality of what had to be a hallucination if it wasn't a dream. The other Kiriko had glared at her hard enough to shatter stone though the first time she had slipped into shocked babbling and Kiriko soon learned not to upset the other Kiriko. And after her first two attempts at escaping the empty metal room she also learned that while the other Kiriko was perhaps another version of herself, it was a version that was both stronger and far far smarter.
The other Kiriko explained that in this world she was a Shinigami, and had been for a very long time. She went on to say that Kiriko was the exact opposite, a normal soul that had never been trained enough to develop any spiritual power. All that was there was raw and unmolded, and that was why she was so weak, well that and this world's Kiriko was just ten thousand times colder, like the edge of a blade made from ice. It wasn't a lesson that Kiriko wanted to repeat, but her fear of the other Kiriko was weaker than her desire to return home, and so she tried several more times to escape the metal room. It wasn't until the other Kiriko purposefully let her escape one time, aiding and abetting from the shadows until Kiriko managed to smuggle herself out of Seireitei and into the Rukongai, that Kiriko finally began to realize her predicament.
It had been easy to ignore the strangeness of Seireitei – she had never been there before. But Rukongai was another matter entirely. She couldn't find her family. She couldn't find anyone she knew. Not even familiar names. It was only then that it sunk in. She wasn't going to be able to get home. Because home was another dimension. A dimension that only the pink-haired woman could get to. And the only person who knew what was going on was the other her... The only person who could possibly return Kiriko to her home was a psychopathic clone of herself.
When she showed up back at the building where she had been kept, the other Kiriko was waiting. Only this time she seemed happier than normal, as if enjoying the pain that Kiriko was going through. The joy made the other Kiriko softer, she didn't even punish Kiriko for trying to escape again, she just led her back to the metal room and started to talk. A whole flood of information that for the first time Kiriko paid attention to, because unlike before this was the information that was going to get her out of this world and back to her own.
So she learned from Kiriko about her purpose here in this world. That she had been taken from her own dimension to serve the other Kiriko. That the other Kiriko was afraid of her enemies in this world and wanted a back-up contingency... for what she wouldn't explain, but Kiriko soon learned that the other Kiriko didn't need explicit reasons to do anything. She seemed almost deranged at times, despite her fierce controlling nature, as if her emotions were bubbling up out of her pores and driving her into rages. The idea that she would end up like the other Kiriko, no matter what had happened differently in this world, was utterly terrifying.
After a span in which the other Kiriko explained that her whole family was dead in this world, that she had nothing and no one but the other Kiriko, for anyone else would murder or experiment on her for being from another dimension, Kiriko began to formulate her own plan. She had learned that so long as she was compliant and agreeable to whatever the other Kiriko wanted everything would be okay. And so Kiriko went about being as obedient as possible, listening without complaint to the stories and studying the various tasks that the other Kiriko wanted her to be able to do, trying her best to become someone useful, even if she might never be trusted.
“What I need is the dandelion in the spring. The bright yellow that means rebirth instead of destruction. The promise that life can go on, mo matter how bad our losses. That it can be good again.” – Suzanne Collins
Seireitei: The Academy 2013-2014
What would the outside world be like? Did this mean she would be able to act on her own? Would she become a Shinigami? It was only as the other Kiriko's glare sharpened that she realized she was expected to respond to the latter part of the entrance. A name? Why would she need a new name? The other Kiriko seemed to sense her confusion because she sighed as if Kiriko was being a particularly spectacular idiot and explained that she couldn't go around with her current name because people would realize she was another version of this world's Kiriko. Her appearance was different enough already, childish as it was due to a lack of spiritual maturity, that with a different name most people wouldn't connect the dots on their own.
It was then that Kiriko realized she was still going to be a prisoner even if she got outside this metal room. It wouldn't be Chinda Kiriko who left, it would be someone else. Someone who belonged to this world's Kiriko. Her first choice of a surname, Himura because of the scarlet dye made in her village, was met with a faint eye roll and a demand to pick another one. Apparently that was too uncommon and would draw attention. Kiriko sped through a couple, tasting the names as if she could imagine what type of person would carry them, before the other Kiriko agreed with Enyo.
Deciding that if her last name was going to be controlled by the other Kiriko then at least her first would be of her own choosing, Kiriko squared her shoulders and braved that slicing stare as she uttered a first name. Hanabi. Tracing the kanji with her fingertips, she tried to let the warmth of an imagined sun settle into her bones. Hanabi, someone who turned towards the sun, someone who walked through fire and came out unscathed. If she had to be a different person, then she would choose happiness and strength. The other Kiriko stiffened at the idea, but after scowling for a few seconds she waved her hands and let it go. It was Kiriko's first real success, and it was another lesson that she committed to memory. Obedience was one thing, but pushing the limit could get results if you were very careful about it.
And just like that, she was enrolled in the Shinigami Academy under the name Enyo Hanabi and her dual life began. During the day she pretended to be a normal girl. It was easy to forget what was going on, to pretend to be herself, herself before this horrible nightmare had ever begun. But each time someone called her new name she couldn't help but flinch as if a bucket of cold water had been poured over her head. Reminding her again and again that she was just pretending, that around each corner lurked the other Kiriko ready to take everything away from her again.
The only way to survive was to bury her second self away, to submerge Kiriko and wrap herself in the persona of Hanabi. Hanabi, as she was called by her friends, was a cheerful and hard-working girl. She might have been weak and a poor study but she gave every assignment her all. As the months went by, she almost allowed herself to forget about the other Kiriko. And about the reason she was training to become a Shinigami. Training to learn all these skills so that she could use them for the other Kiriko. Training so that she could learn enough to find that pink-haired lady on her own. Training so that she could learn enough to demand for that woman to return her to her own world.
Classes were the most fun she had ever had and Hanabi delved into them with an eager mind. She had never been given the luxury of an education before, and with ample food and physical exercise her efforts began to pay off as she developed from a scrawny little soul into a young woman. She enjoyed the mental puzzle of the theory work she was learning and while she gave equal effort to all of her classes her favorite was Kido for the way in which spiritual energy leveled the playing field between her and opponents who were physically faster or stronger.
It was only when the other Kiriko visited her, secret meetings due to Hanabi's undercover status, that she allowed the gilded light to be stripped from her eyes. As enjoyable as life was at the Academy, as normal as it all seemed to be back in a group working towards a common goal, at the end of the day she belong to another, and the other Kiriko was a demanding taskmaster. She tested Hanabi's progress again and again, never happy with her work even if her teachers thought she was improving on par with the rest of her cohort. The other Kiriko would always leave her with a list of extra activities to do to strengthen her body and her spiritual pressure and several threats as to what she would do if Hanabi wasn't better the next time she came.
Time went on and it became easier to fall into the lull of being Enyo Hanabi. She began to crave the peace of Hanabi's life. A girl who had never known what it was like for everything to be ripped apart. For the world to end and start anew in dangerous and terrifying ways. She liked being Hanabi, so much so that she began to forget at times, when the other Kiriko was far away, exactly why it was that she had to work so hard to become a Shinigami when her friends were so easily taking their time and goofing off, enjoying their first year at the Academy. She wanted to be like them, to have fun and relax and enjoy the peace of having nothing to do but homework and training.
A month went by without the other Kiriko showing up and Hanabi began to slip further, delighting in her realization that the other academy students were just like the kids at home only more polished. They still enjoyed gossiping and playing games like any other kids, they just liked to pretend at being adults and called such things reconnaissance and training. For a moment she was able to forget everything and immerse herself in the childhood she had never had.
That moment shattered when the other Kiriko arrived, stealing into her room in the middle of the night to drag her protesting body out into the streets and back towards the Nibantai's compound. Now suddenly afraid that she was going to be locked back up in the metal room after she had finally tasted freedom, Hanabi began to beg for forgiveness, offering up anything and everything to get the other Kiriko to let her return to the Academy. Her words fell on deaf ears as the other Kiriko dragged her down empty halls until finally stopping in front of an elaborate archway that she recognized from her lessons as a Senkaimon gateway.
For a brief second, she felt the flutter of hope as she wondered if the other Kiriko was sending her back to her world. It came crashing down when Hanabi realized a Senkaimon couldn't break the barrier between dimensions. Instead, the other Kiriko activated the portal and proceeded to push Hanabi through until both materialized in the Dangai. It was there that the other Kiriko explained in no-nonsense terms that Hanabi had not been progressing quickly enough for her plans and that it was an unacceptable lapse that she was going to correct. That determination heralded the worst days of Hanabi's life as the other Kiriko did something to the energy in the Dangai with her heavy oppressive aura that made the very walls come alive, surging with deadly intent as the terrain itself started to wage war against Hanabi.
She wasn't sure for how long this went on. She would fight until she was passed out from exhaustion, always one step away from the end, and when she awoke her body would be in better shape and the energy would swirl around her once more as it launched a new attack. The other Kiriko appeared periodically to check on her progress and as afraid as Hanabi was of the stern woman she came to crave those intermissions because as least then she could rest somewhat as she listened to the other Kiriko's lectures and learned how she could do better.
Slowly, day by day, hour by hour, little things began to improve. First it was her footwork. Then it was her accuracy with her Hado. Eventually, exhausted though she was, and at wit's end from battling for her life every waking second, Hanabi had to admit that even her energy reserves were increasing as the training continued. The next time the other Kiriko appeared, it was to return Hanabi to the Academy, where no one seemed to have noticed her absence as the other Kiriko explained that time worked differently in the Dangai and that she had only been gone for a few short hours in reality.
This pattern repeated itself several times over as Hanabi learned to soak up as much information as possible at the Academy to prepare herself for those dangerous times in the Dangai. No one could explain her sudden phenomenal burst in talent at school and even her teachers were amazed at the leaps and bounds she was showing. They began to shower her with praise, but Hanabi knew the truth, especially since Kiriko was so eager to remind her of it each time they met – she wasn't anything special, she never had been, it was just the other Kiriko's attention and effort that had allowed her to improve at all.
It wasn't long before people were taking undue notice. Hanabi was a first year student after all, it was supposed to take seven years in total, if you were good, to make it through the Academy. Her countless weeks and months in the Dangai began to add up, until even her teachers couldn't wave away the mysterious results. The other Kiriko had prepared Hanabi with a cover story, drilling her over and over again on the details and the dates and names until she could mutter it in the moment she woke from sleeping. It took longer than she had expected for the teachers to finally realize her monumental progress was pretty standard across all her classes, but once they did the inquisition was intense. She was glad then that the story had been beaten into her head because Hanabi had never been a good liar.
In the end she told her teachers that she had actually had training before coming to the Academy. That her family had been friends with a Shinigami who served in the Second, and that the man had come back occasionally to visit. When he had noticed her levels of reiatsu were higher than the other neighborhood children he had begun to train her, because at her age she was still too young to enroll in the Academy formerly. She had hidden her talents at the beginning because she hadn't wanted her teacher to get in trouble for passing on secrets and breaking the laws about teaching unaffiliated souls.
The story was farfetched enough that they had had to check several times over, running questions back to the Second and locating the man who was only a name in Hanabi's head. It turned out it was a real person though, someone who went along with the story and took the punishment for breaking the law without ever once even letting on that he'd never met Hanabi before in his life. That was another lesson that she took to heart, realizing that the other Kiriko wasn't just evil, she was also ingenious, able to instill such loyalty in her followers that they would accept a punishment for something they hadn't even done. The man hadn't paused to question it. The idea of such power resting in the hands of her rather creepy dimensional copy was just another reason why Hanabi knew she would have to train hard to escape the woman's clutches.
In the end the teachers seemed to accept the story once they found all the “evidence” to back it up, though Hanabi still thought that it had to be more because of the fact that there was really no other logical explanation for her meteoric improvements over the last few months. They admonished her for hiding her skills and devised an improvised schedule that took her away from her old classmates and put her in higher level classes. It wasn't so shocking the second time around when her monthly trips to the Dangai resulted in even more rapid skill increases, though she knew that she had made enemies of all of her new found classmates when Hanabi was bumped up once more to even more difficult courses. Her teachers didn't seem all that impressed either, as if she had betrayed them by “hiding” her abilities and not trusting them with the truth.
The joy she had felt at being in a structured environment with a group of familiar faces and struggling towards a shared goal faded entirely with these new changes. Instead all she had to cling to was her burgeoning enjoyment of learning new principles and putting theory into physical practice. Becoming friends with her classmates was now all but impossible, something Hanabi was certain had been part of the other Kiriko's goal all along. But she had learned the other implicit lesson, finally grasping just how dangerous it was to disobey the other Kiriko, so Hanabi put her head down and focused on her lessons. Trying to take to heart everything that her teachers and the other Kiriko's private lessons were supposed to impart on her.
Time passed, nearly a year in total, and Hanabi was promoted to the last year of her education. Life was a drudgery of physical training and mental studying. She existed only to meet goals and quotas set out by her taskmaster. Broken down to such a simple state, it was harder than ever to maintain hope, to think about her dreams, and slowly Chinda Kiriko slipped into believing the lies she told herself to make things go down easier. It was easier to imagine herself as a character in a book, an actor in a play. Less painful to think of this as a story about Enyo Hanabi and over time, that was who she became. The final defeat went unnoticed, as the other Kiriko became merely Kiriko in Hanabi's mind.
“Suffering has been stronger than all other teaching, and has taught me to understand what your heart used to be.”
– Charles Dickens
Seireitei | 2015
Eventually the emotion coalesced further into a voice, giving way after several ponderous and cryptic puzzles into a dream which finally evolved into the appearance of Hanabi's Zanpakutou Spirit. Unsure what to make of this mature and heady half of her soul, Hanabi nonetheless grew to rely quite heavily on Hinata's wellspring of vitality and force. Unlike Hanabi, Hinata was always in control of her life, and the two formed a steady bond as Hanabi learned to hunker down outwardly while tentatively reaching inwardly for the life and human contact she had been denied thus far.
Nearing the end of her last year in the Academy, Hanabi has the finish line in sight. Only who knows what will happen to her life after she graduates, or what Kiriko plans to do with her once she is sufficiently trained? All she can do for now is focus on what she can control, herself and her perspective as she searches for the small happinesses in life.
How anyone could use such a voice while trying to utterly tear another person down was beyond Hanabi's understanding, but so much that had to do with Chinda Kiriko was like that. Horrible. Ugly. Petrifying. It made her skin crawl just to look into those dead eyes and know that this thing was somehow like her, and not just like, but the same. Somehow they had sprouted from the same seed, and Hanabi could only desperately hope that she found a different path to crawl down. No matter what, no matter what, she was going to be happy. If she had to claw her way over broken glass to reach that state, it wouldn't matter, because whatever the cost to avoid this fate it was worth any and all pain.
Because she knew, deep down, that Kiriko was right. Hanabi was insignificant. All life was insignificant, except in the biggest of pictures. It mattered not at all if she was breathing from one day to the next. What could her breath change, her life? Except for perhaps in its passing she could maybe save someone, die fending off some horrible foe and allowing one more soul to live in her place. Or maybe she could impact the people around her, lifting them up with some miraculous wit or amazing kaido prowess. Maybe if she was smart enough she could invent something that would turn the tides of war, or save a life. Maybe if she was kind enough, she could change someone's fate like her Oneesama had changed hers.
But none of that contradicted the fact that she was insignificant. For Hanabi could throw away her life for another all while being miserable. She could be smart or kind or even skilled and still be unhappy. Her own state didn't matter, her own contentment or peace. No one else's life would change at all if she were to be lonely and miserable and angry. No one's, that is, except perhaps her own. Because looking up into that terrible gaze, she knew, like an arrow to the heart, that that was what had happened to Chinda Kiriko. And maybe nothing else had changed, maybe she would still die, maybe she would never create the ripples in the world that she wanted to, but she had impacted herself. Thrown herself down the rickety staircase of hell.
And that was enough to teach Hanabi one of those roundabout lessons that she was pretty sure Kiriko hadn't been intending on imparting. Unless the woman was far more devious than even Hanabi gave her credit for. She was insignificant in the big picture, just one more mote of dust in this vast world, a tiny twinkle of energy that could expire at any moment. And nothing was going to change that. Nothing would ever make her the fairy-tale princess of her stories, she knew that. But it didn't mean she had to be the ogre either. Because insignificant or not, nothing that Kiriko cared about would change if Hanabi was happy or if she was sad. Nothing outwardly would be effected, she would still be just as useful, just as kind, just as witty even --- but inside, inside in her tiny little heart, she would know for certain that she was different from the monster across from her. And that wasn't insignificant at all.
Player Alias: Paks/Paksennarion
Desired Starting GP?: I am hoping for 2000?
How long have you been Roleplaying?: Uhhh, 11 years.
How did you find out about us?: Hage-kun
Were you referred here by anyone? If so, by whom?: Hage-kun
Please tell us any other approved characters you have on BG: Yamane Kohaku, Chinda Kiriko