Three-hundred and forty three? That couldn't be right. Of course it was. But even they didn't expect their father to take out quite so many souls in a single attack. Oh. I mean killing that many is one thing. But absolutely destroying their souls? Things were bound to get ugly.
“Talking about ugly, nee-san. It seems we are being called.”
The pair manifest at a small wrought iron table under a gazebo overlooking a grassy hill. It wasn't often that another soul would be so hopeless that they'd find themselves in their dreams like this. Of course, it was more rare that there was no third seat already set out for their host. There were no teacups. No empty plate for snacks. Clearly whoever was visiting them wasn't in the mood for talking...
“Now, now, nee-san, be polite.” One twin lifted a finger as though she were lecturing the other, a common game. “Even if the soul doesn't know it needs our guidance, why else would we be here?”
Lost. Far too many things had happened to quickly. He had a fight with Freyleif one day. Then the next thing he knew she returned covered in wounds. Next he was forced to fight to protect her, and a new power awoke within him. Then before he could even adjust to all of that, Freyleif's 'Big Sister' had appeared and taken them to some big meet up of spiritually powerful people. Apparently there was some trouble with the shinigami which had everyone up in arms. Of course not having any reason to take part in such a battle, the thief had quietly left.
Now Wraith found himself wandering about the streets of the town. Knowing that most if not all of the spiritually powerful people likely had better things to do than worry about someone like him, he found himself contemplating. He though of what he could do now that he essentially had free reign of the town. Or perhaps he could even go back into that fancy potal and finding something useful in the Shinigami's world. Both options lay out before him, but the hooded male found himself unable to come to a conclusion. Just what was it he should be doing right now?
Freyleif was safe with Angeni, as far as he knew at least. However, even though he had protected the blond Quincy they had still fought the last time they met. A fight he hadn't forgotten yet, causing some unease he didn't want to be bothered with just yet. The shinigami were apparently in an uproar, but he didn't owe them any favors. He had only met one before, and their meeting hadn't exactly been without trouble. The other spiritualists that he saw? He didn't know any of them. He had nothing to gain from whatever war they were fighting, so helping them wasn't a decision he saw himself making. However, that just led him back to his problem. What did he want to do right now?
While he thought through all of these things Wraith found himself at a bar he frequented. Not sure what to do he entered and after nodding to the owner entered a backroom he usually used to meet clients. No one was there just now, so the thief sat down in a char and began to go over what he knew once more. He let out a yawn, as a strange wave of fatigue washed over him suddenly. He closed his eyes for what he thought was a mere second, or perhaps even just a normal blink. However, when he opened them he was in an unfamiliar place.
Now Wraith wasn't the type of person to panic. Especially after he had seen so much in the past month or so. After artificial humans, and ancient arrancar that could spiritualize 3D maps of the city he had become a bit more accustomed to this ridiculous world. At least, accustomed enough to not openly show his surprise. He glanced around at the grassy hill behind him and the gazebo ahead of him. Two people seemed to be seated there, very similar in appearance. So twins, or at least sisters if he had to guess. Sighing mentally Wraith ran down his new list of options. He didn't have many, so it wasn't long before he made a move.
Walking forward a very calm and business like smile appeared on Wraith's face as he went to the open seat and sat down. "Pardon ma' intrusion on yer' lil' picnic, but given how we seem ta' be da' only ones 'ere. Do ya' mind tellin' me wat's up?"
"Not dat' I would mind hangin' out wit' such adorable Ojou-han's like ya' two fer' awhile.... I get da' feelin' dat' ain't how dis' works." said the thief whom immediately reached up to pull down his hood and remove his sunglasses. He then gazed upon the two with uniquely colored eyes. His spiritual senses told him nothing about what was going on, but he felt a subconscious tug telling him before someone like this, it was pointless to hide things.
“Onee-san, can you believe this?” She raised her hand as though to whisper to her sister, but her voice was clearly loud enough for the human to hear. “The thief breaks into our home and then tries to break up our lunch.”
“Onee-san, that's not very polite.” Her sister followed suit, making sure he could hear them regardless of their body language. “It's his home after all. Aren't we the intruders?”
“Ah, but that would mean he made us tea!”
“It should be poured for us by now!”
“They are heavier than before.”
“Then take a sip.”
Their stark white sundresses ruffled in the whispering breeze. The pair simultaneously raised their glasses, closing their eyes as they brought the cups to their lips. It took them only a sip of that bitter brown stuff to make them cringe their faces and spit in disgust. In the ruckus their glassware fell and they stood from their seats, clearly offended by their visitor's gift.
But it wasn't the bourbon burning their throats that caused them to hiss and gag. Rather it was the memories they'd imbibed, so wrought with fear and lacking ambition they were afraid they might just die.
“What are you here to steal?”
“What is it that you want?”
“If your after our hearts you have plenty of your own.”
“And if your after our innocence you'll reap what you've sewn.”
Their eyes opened wide in simultaneous shock. A breeze confirmed their worst suspicions and they took three steps back from their table. They shot him a look that could kill as their reiatsu spiked so rapidly they wondered if he could even breathe. A tiny knife of distorted space manifest in one hand, the other summoning a bow of pure light. Their anger was so thick it could crush cities. Their outrage almost taking complete control. Fortunately for everyone involved, they knew they coulnd't exceed the limits of his imagination. Unfortunately for Wraith, it still took them a few seconds before they were able to lower their guard and calm down.
“Oneesan, it looks like we have the worst kind of criminal,” She held out her knife as their signature condensed enough to allow him to stand.
“One who steals hearts because his own is so weak?”
There was a pause as another gust of wind caused the solid white undergarments in Wraith's hands to wave like a flag. His sunglasses were nowhere to be found.
“One who steals our virtue because he has none of his own.”
Strange. Wraith couldn't recall a meeting ever going as badly as this one. The two unexpected guests went from talking to themselves and ignoring the thief, to showing near murderous intent and almost crushing him with their enormous power in an instant. The thief still didn't even understand what was going on, and he was already in trouble. Before he could even begin to respond to any of their words, it seemed like he was already being hated. This was a first for him. He had no clue what was in those cups, as he obviously hadn't prepared them or seen them before. However, he understood based on the twin's reactions that whatever was in them not only did not suit their tastes, but apparently told them some very foul things about him. This situation was only getting more strange.
A few seconds past, and Wraith visibly began to sweat under the weight of the two's power. He struggled to try and speak. To try to say something, but he couldn't get any of the words out. Though the thought occurred to him, he had no clue what to say in this situation anyways. He wasn't exactly sure what these two thought they knew about him after all. All he could do was wait until the two let up on the pressure. When they finally did he noticed that it wasn't done lightly. Weapons were being pointed at him, alongside accusations. Just as he was catching his breath and about to open his mouth to counter them, he noticed something strange in his hands where his sunglasses were. What had replaced them caused the thief's face to go red as he quickly tossed them behind himself and cleared his throat. He couldn't help but mentally scream and wonder what the hell was going on.
A heavy sigh escaped his lips as he looked at the clearly hostile girls before him. He considered the best way to approach the situation and after calming down and catching his breath, he began to speak. "Look. I dun' know whatcha' drank, or wat' ya' think ya' know about me, but don't ya' think yer' bein' a bit extreme here? I don't even know wat's happenin' or where I am, and I'm already bein' crushed ta' death and weapons pointed at me. I dun' know where yer' from, but where I come from ya' should at least have some evidence before throwin' around such hurtful words at someone ya' jus' met."
As he finished speaking the thief took a look around. No escape routes. For some reason all he could perceive was this gazebo he was in and the grassy hill it was on. A strange sense of attachment to this place washed over him as well, a sensation that even if he tried to leave he would just end up back here again. In simple words, it seemed like he couldn't run away. The thief sighed again thinking about how troublesome this situation was. He had just wanted to take a nap, and now he was locked in some weird place with a set of angry twins with the spiritual power to crush him at a whim.
"Seriously, it's been nothin' but trouble ever since I came ta' dis' dam' town. Ever since.... never mind. Jus' tell me wat' ya' two want, so I can leave, or wake up, or whatever. Normally I wouldn't mind a situation like dis', chattin' wit some beauties, but since da' feelin' is far from mutual it seems, let's jus' get down ta' business." he said clearly displeased with this situation. Though who wouldn't be in this situation? Especially someone who was just a normal thief until all this supernatural business decided to follow him around. Though what was most unusual is Wraith didn't bother to try and hide the emotion on his face, behind his usual calm or playful self. That strange sensation he got, was also telling him that such things were pointless here.
“He's worse than we thought, oneesan.” The twin with the bow lowered her weapon, narrowing her gaze and crinkling her nose as she watched him squirm.
“He's absolutely disgusting, oneesan.” She watched as the pair of underwear dissolved in mid-air, as though it were consumed by the sister's power. She took one step forward and held her knife to the man's throat, looking straight into his eyes. Every word that left his mouth filled theirs with unbridled disgust. It wasn't his perversion that caused them such anger. On the contrary, had he been even a little direct it might have given him something they could work with. But instead they were left standing eye to eye with an irredeemable failure of a spiritualist. A soul blessed with power, but paralyzed by fear.
Opening her palm, the sharp blade of energy winked out of existence. She lowered her hand just a few inches, relaxing her shoulders and steadying her power. He had the potential to be so much more than he was, if only his cowardice didn't hold back his aspirations. It was such a pity, really. But one she could cure, especially if he was smart enough to keep his guard down and let her show him just how little he had to fear. She leaned in just a little, her fingers nearing his chest. She tilted her head just a few degrees, her smile widening as she whispered haughtily.
“Stay and chat then.”
An instant later, her hand had been forcefully driven through his chest, firmly clutching his still-beating heart and giving it a good squeeze.
Annoyed. He didn't understand anything. He didn't know why he was here, or what these two women wanted. Then to top it off they were obviously insulting him, someone they knew nothing about. Accusing him of things, based on the strange things that kept happening in this place. All the thief could do was keep observing the situation and trying to figure out how he could leave. He wanted to leave this unpleasant place immediately. He had a real bad feeling about being here. As though this was the last place someone like him wanted to be.
It seemed as though he had no say in what was happening here however. As he watched the two talk among themselves, and one of the twins moved closer him and was inching their hand towards him. A weird feeling washed over him. A feeling so immaterial Wraith couldn't tell if it was a warning, or just a gust of wind. Then suddenly the twin that was close to him suddenly smiled in a way that sent a shiver down his spine. Then before he could react her hand entered him.
A strange sensation washed over him. Wraith's body felt both cold and warm at the same time. Excruciating pain, but at the same time numbness to where he could feel nothing. He wanted to struggle, but for some reason couldn't find the strength to move. His thoughts raced as he went through the possible results of the scenario. His ghostly powers then activated and spiritualized his body around the woman's arm, trying to allow his ghostly regeneration to activate, but with her arm in the way it was pointless. He wasn't even sure if his powers worked properly in this world in the first place. But he could only guess his powers were the reason for this strange combination of sensations he was experiencing.
He didn't really know how to react to this. A girl he found attractive was literally grabbing his heart. The feelings of dread and discomfort combined together with his already confused state and left him at a loss. So Wraith did the only thing he knew how to do in tough situations like this. With what little strength he could muster, he was able to still talk and a playful smile somehow appeared forcefully across his lips.
"H-hey now Ojou-hans, if ya' want a place or two in ma' heart we should do things da' old fashioned way, ya' know? D-dinner and a movie? Or perhaps ya' would prefer an amusement park? Some coffee and cake maybe?"
So, he told a joke. She did say that he should stay and chat after all, and this was just how he was.
For a brief moment the anger in her eyes gave way to a kind of curious understanding. She had read enough of this man's life to know his power, in some way better than he did. But as he watched the cocky thief mouth off to her, he realized exactly why he was there. And while he power was as much an asset to him as the sister's former abilities were to them, they both knew that it afforded them a level of protection that served to stunt their growth as much as it shielded them from the rest of the world. But while those little girls had three-hundred years in the Dangai to break free of their shells, they had just one evening with Wraith to get him to understand the folly of his ways.
More than enough time.
Giving him another curt squeeze, she sneered as a spurt of blood from the hole in his chest sprayed the front of her white sundress. Looking back into his eyes, a cruel smile spread across her lips. The dream was becoming lucid, his senses telling him he wasn't awake. She'd made a grave miscalculation, the surreality of their world a shield they didn't expect anyone else to use so tactfully. But it was an easy fix.
And with a single swift yank, she ripped the man's heart out of his chest, arteries snapping like rubber as she tossed the useless thing over her shoulder and caught Wraith's dying body. Behind her, Expectation held out her palms playfully, tossing the thing back like a beach ball, but Aspiration didn't bother looking back. She just casually kicked the still-beating organ back to her sister with a graceful but firm kick of her bare-foot, the squishy membrane unravelling a bit as looser chunks began to spiral off the bloody meat spinning in mid-air. The world slipped away into blackness, shapes and colors slipping away into the void as all three of them became undone.
"There's no use hiding it." Whispering into the dying man's ears, she pulled his body closer with one hand and reached toward his groin with the other. "We aren't here to take it away..."
And a second later, he found himself back at his bar. His throbbing head lie face-down on the wooden counter, his chest still sore, but everything otherwise exactly like he was before he conked out. There was only one other customer, sloutched over a newspaper in the far corner of the room. The same bartender standing with his back to the unconscious thief, meticulously clattering around with some dishes in the sink.
Shock. He didn't have any chance to react. Though just a few seconds ago Wraith was still being his playful self, now he could do nothing. He felt a sudden squeeze to his heart, then a massive amount of pain. Blood was everywhere. His uniquely colored eyes widened as he stared at the woman who had did this to him. He didn't have the strength to continue talking, and instead his eyes trailed over to the other twin as it seemed the two were literally toying with his heart. This was certainly not how he expected things to go.
Wraith couldn't except this. The thief had been very careful. He had made an effort to make sure to avoid dangerous situations, but ever since his powers had awakened things like this kept interfering. He just wanted to live his life without all this supernatural nonsense getting in the way. Sure his powers were useful, but every time he ended up dealing with someone else that was 'special' bad things kept happening. This situation was no different.
As his vision slowly darkened, Wraith surprisingly only felt annoyance. The pain was secondary, the thief was mostly just annoyed with himself. Perhaps if he had been stronger like all of those super powered people he had met warned him to be this wouldn't be happening. He found himself cursing his own weakness yet again. How many times did this make now? Though as he closed his eyes completely, he perhaps was slightly pleased that none of that would matter anymore. Then he woke up.
The thief was startled. He suddenly sat upright and looked around. The pain in his chest still remaining, Wraith placed a hand over his heart as his eyes wandered the backroom of the bar he had recalled falling asleep in. Was that really a dream? If so, why did his heart hurt? If it was a dream, was it one of the ones that was supposedly a window to his subconscious? What was it trying to tell him in that case? Wraith only felt that he suddenly had more questions than answers, and most likely he had a new set of problems to deal with in this world he barely understood. The first being those twins and whatever they wanted. They claimed they weren't there to take away from him, but then why did he see them in that weird 'dream'?
Two minutes of silence. Not a single new customer walked into the room. One man's face hidden behind a paper. The bartender's back seemingly unmoving. It was like a painting. A quiet and still world where nothing of consequence ever happened. This was the life most humans like wraith came from. A life lacking consequence or responsibility. A life made more and more meaningless with each step one took on the grand scale of things.
"You don't expect me to pour you another drink, do ya?" The voice was too high-pitched to be the bartender. And as he turned, a familiar pair of gray eyes looked over their shoulder. The twin quietly giggled, turning and giving a curtsy in the crusty old tender's smock. The entire room seemed to go red, his drink turning into a thick white semi-solid paste. Before he knew it, he could feel his teeth melting, liquified calcium dripping down the back of his throat. The twin behind the bar just kept laughing, inching in closer and closer still...
"Do ya mind keepin' it down?" The other customer lowered her paper: the other sister, sliding out of her chair. Standing in front of the entrance, she let a cruel smile sweep across her face and began to slowly walk toward the thief, the paper in her hands clearly reading: 'Remains of Phantom Thief Found.'
The only unblocked exit was a small wooden door in the back. The only obstacle, a sign forbidding customers from entering. This door wasn't meant for everyone. Only an elite few.
Surreal. Something felt off as Wraith looked around. He seemed to have woken up, but at the same time he still felt a sense of unease. Like he was a mouse being toyed with by a cat. The thief shook his head and attributed this feeling to still being shaken up by the dream he had just seen. However, he still couldn't shake it now matter how much he tried to rationalize it. It became clear when he heard a familiar voice.
Looking up his eyes located the face of one of the two girl's he had just met inside of his dream. Positive that she wasn't the bartender at this place, his eyes widened a bit as he stared at her. "So it's like dat' huh?" he asked to no one in particular. He wasn't expecting the girl to give him an answer, but for some reason he found those words slipping out of is mouth. The room changed colors as though dyed in blood. The wound he had gotten from the dream began to ache. However, he couldn't even scream this time.
As the pain returned, Wraith wanted to do something but his eyes caught another problem. The drink in front of him turned into some foreign substance he didn't understand, and for some reason he felt a strange sensation in his own mouth. It suddenly felt like all his teeth had fallen out and his gums were bleeding, however he couldn't voice any concern. He suddenly felt like he was drowning as there was some strange liquid in his mouth, that he didn't want to swallow at any cost. He was just on the verge of panicking when he saw another familiar face. The other twin appeared and as though she just wanted to torment him, showed him a newspaper that was clearly just mocking him.
Eyes shifting around, the thief found the only exit he could see and made a run for it. Coughing up the foreign substance in his mouth, all the thief could do now was make a break for it. He didn't know why in his dream and in this place these twins seemed to want him to suffer, but he understood he had to get moving. Where this door lead, he was afraid to find out, but he hoped it would be better than sitting there doing nothing.
They didn't need to pursue him to know where he'd run. It's where he always ran when he thought his life was in danger. It was so painful watching a thief with so much potential being so afraid to steal a life worth taking, especially when he refused to invest in his own. A blinding light erupted from the other side of the door, as though an explosion had just gone off in the other room, and yet there was no heat or shaking. The door seemed to pull open the second the thief turned the knob, the handle slipping out of his grasp as some unknown force forced its way into his world. The sisters left, all evidence that they were ever there missing as the dreamscape seemed to lurch with the new invitation.
"Open your eyes."
The words seemed to come from both sides of the door.
Bright. That was the only word Wraith could think of to describe what he was seeing. Other than the panic he was feeling, he could think of nothing else by the brightness of the light that he saw as he opened that door. A sensation of being dragged along appeared, and yet the thief knew there was nothing he could do about it. He hadn't been in control for even a second since this encounter began. The frustration at his lack of understand and his lack of control just continued to build up inside of his mind. Running wasn't working, and trying to think his way out of this merely mentally exhausted himself. Just as he was wondering exactly what the hell he was supposed to do, a voice rang out.
Those simple words echoed inside his head over and over again. Confused as to what they meant, the echoing continuously got louder and louder within his ears. Soon it got unbearable. Wraith was sure his eyes were open, and yet all he could see was this bright light. All he could heard was the order to open his eyes. Eventually he simply sighed and laughed bitterly resigning himself to whatever was happening. He learned long ago he could fight this. As the echoing voice reached a peak volume, Wraith found himself losing consciousness. He wasn't sure what he would see when he opened his eyes again, but he was certain this had something to do with those damned twins and whatever game they were playing.
Seireitei is crumbling and the Gotei is a shell of its former self. Ravaged by the plague, the surviving Shinigami struggle to maintain the balance, but with so few of them left, the work is taxing and their fortress-city has fallen to neglect. Spread thin across all fronts, their diminished presence has been noted by friend and foe alike.
The Arrancar have rebuilt Las Noches and are rallying. The throne remains empty, but self-styled Espada have risen up from among them and are vying for control, each one endlessly testing the others’ weaknesses. Too evenly matched for any one of them to claim the crown, they bide their time, waiting for the opportune moment.
On Earth, all seems well—but there is a war being fought in the shadows as the mortals find themselves lacking the protection they once had and so sorely need. The Quincy, having realized the oppressive specter of the Shinigami is no more, are flourishing, and are fighting the Hollow-breeds with renewed vigor.