Merrick, Alain [SHINIGAMI] Jan 30, 2017 1:08:54 GMT -5
Post by Alain Merrick on Jan 30, 2017 1:08:54 GMT -5
SHINIGAMI SEEKER OF KNOWLEDGE AND CONTROL
[ AT A GLANCE ]
Age / Apparent Age: 169 / 20
Height & Weight: 6'4" & 195 lbs
Hair & Eye Color: Dark Brown & Blue
Loyalties: Gotei, Himself, Logic and Knowledge
- Birth of Merrick (1848)
- Joins the American Civil War (1862)
- Enrolls at Cornell University (1866)
- Graduates from Cornell University and begins medical school (1870)
- Death of Merrick (1873)
- Arrives in the Rukongai and meets Josephine (1873)
- Josephine falls ill (1974)
- Death of Josephine (1984)
- Joins the Shinigami Academy (2010)
- Obtains Shikai (2013)
- Graduates from the Shinigami Academy (2016)
- Joins Third Division (2016)
[ ON THE SURFACE ]
Physical Description: When Alain Merrick strides into a room with his upright posture, his steps are purposeful and deliberate. As you brush by his person, it’s clear that his lightly tanned body is suited for power and speed. From the broad shoulders and six-pack abs to his muscled arms and legs, the figure that he cuts is striking. A well-honed balance of the muscular and the lean, his training is obvious. Though despite his tall stature and resolute demeanor, he lacks any sense of the intimidating.
If you lock eyes from across the room, you catch a glimpse of dark, sky blue globes, most likely framed behind a pair of thin-rimmed glasses with oval lenses. Further glances reveal a thoughtful intelligence, but only to the most observant. Otherwise, the wavy, neck-length, dark brown hair begins to obscure the features of his oval-shaped face as it falls loosely to the sides.
Alain always chooses the seat furthest from others in order to avoid unnecessary talk. Nevertheless, someone inevitably summons the nerve to approach his table and strike up a conversation. They often find him lost in thought while stroking the short, neatly trimmed goatee which dots his chin. An awkward pause later, Alain finally responds. His tone is even and carries little emotion. Likewise, the words depart his lips at a slow pace and low volume. These talks rarely last more than a few minutes before they seek out more cheerful company.
Most people are accustomed to seeing Alain in his immaculate Shinigami robes which are absent of sleeves. However, it’s rare to find him in off duty attire. If you do get the opportunity, then you see garb consisting of a knee-length haori in any dark color along with a hakama of the same hue. Both garments are worn over a kimono of white. One notable exception to his normal off duty attire is a long, brown leather coat which he acquired from the human world. This is always paired with blue jeans and a t-shirt. The last thing that others notice is a slight hint of peppermint and lavender while in his presence. This is a remnant from how his clothing is laundered.
There are three other items which are always in Merrick’s possession. Around his neck, he wears a white beaded necklace with a gold locket in the shape of a book. He also carries a journal. It’s either tucked within the sash of his robes on the right hip or somewhere in his upper robes. Finally, he wears his zanpakuto on the left hip. The sheath is blue while the hilt bears a blue and white cloth wrapping in criss-cross pattern. The hilt also boasts two tassel cords, one blue and one white.
Spiritual Description: Merrick’s reiatsu is like a gentle wind. When released, his body emanates a two-tone reiatsu of blue and white reminiscent of a swirling sky while conveying a sense of calm. There’s a noticeable lack of the oppressive during release, a combination of natural and practiced restraint. During these times, individuals would only feel the pressure of a cool, summer breeze, but at it’s peak, it becomes a fierce gale.
[ BEHIND THE EYES ]
Personality:Innately inquisitive, nearly everything about Alain Merrick speaks to his desire to learn. He enjoys to read and study, but always with a purpose in mind rather than for pleasure. When he is engaged in conversation or any other activity, he always takes the time to carefully consider the best choice of words or course of action. Over the years, Merrick has learned that the path of knowledge is often a singular pursuit, one which he walks alone. As a result, it's rare to see him in the company of others. He prefers the ease and efficiency of working on his own, but his new life as a Shinigami requires increased interaction.
Alain is a man motivated by fear. In life, and death, he has suffered losses which hurt him deeply. To prevent the pain of further loss, he doesn't allow anyone to get close. This has created a guarded person who is emotionally distanced from others. Loss has also spawned an obsession with control and change. Due to his inability to accept the death of his surrogate mother, he now seeks to control every aspect of his life. If he encounters something which he can’t control, then he seeks to change it into a controllable form. He truly believes that knowledge is power, but also the vehicle through which he can enact control.
Professionally, Alain enjoys the life of a Shinigami. While it takes time away from his own goals, the resources and knowledge provided by the Gotei are an acceptable trade-off. Likewise, he functions well with the routine of a military organization. He knows what has to be done and when it needs to be accomplished. This strict and ordered operation is similar to the way he patterns his own life. In addition, his hardworking and earnest manner are well-suited to success within the Gotei despite not being overly concerned with personal advancement.
Merrick doesn’t have friends, but acquaintances. After struggling most of his life to connect with others, he has started to become aware that people view him as aloof or apathetic. Whether it's his subtle sense of humor, his direct manner of speech, or the inability to find common ground, he has done little to dissuade others of their opinions. However, Alain wants to change. This is best demonstrated by his desire to find an emotional connection to fill the void left by the death of his guardian. Unfortunately, he has noticed a manipulative streak within himself. Likely born of his desire to find a companion, he now questions whether any future relationship will be genuine or a function of his unintended manipulations.
Achievements & Goals:
- Enrolled and graduated from the Shinigami Academy
- Learned Shikai
- Joined 3rd Division
- Master kaido
- Master zanjutsu
- Promoted to Lieutenant of Third Division
- Discover the cause of Josephine’s illness and find a cure
- Continue learning something everyday
- Find a companion
- Build a personal lab/workstation
[ GUARDIAN ANGEL ]
Zanpakutō Spirit:Aleith’Sor is a formless entity of malleable life energy. Much like the wind, it’s an unrestrained spirit of friendly and outgoing disposition that likes to flaunt its ability to change form. When it speaks, the voice is often boisterous with the hint of an echo. The booming sound is capable of reaching Alain no matter where he happens to be within the inner world. The spirit’s tone rarely deviates from the jovial. Merrick always finds himself trying to reconcile the seriousness of what his spirit says with the manner in which it’s delivered.
The spirit’s appearance can be ever-changing, but there are three forms which are most prevalent. First, there’s a young girl with wavy blond hair and glowing wings. She wears a white ankle length dress and a blue wrap draped around her waist and shoulder. Next, there’s an elderly woman with a reddish-brown hooded shawl and a brown dress in the medieval Saxon style. Finally, his spirit seems to like taking the form of a small, snowy white dove.
The zanpakuto spirit represents Alain’s boundless potential to become whatever he desires. The formless entity also represents an indecisive nature and the stagnant state of his soul which has been frozen since the death of his guardian. Should Alain come to terms with the experiences of his past, then he will begin to realize his full potential. Aleith’Sor seeks to smooth out the rough edges of his personality which have hindered his ability to grow. Games, tests, and verbal sparring are a few of the ways in which his spirit attempts to impart wisdom and life lessons.
Inner World:Alain’s inner world is a vast reddish-brown desert which stretches endlessly in all directions. During the day, a scorching sun hangs high overhead, but at night is replaced by a cool, radiant moon. Rock formations of various sizes dot the horizon. Likewise, the occasional tree can be found, but it’s the most sparse and pitiful example of life. Animals seem nonexistent as none can be found scurrying along the ground or soaring in the sky. The only sounds are the whistling of the wind and the shifting of sand. As Alain evolves, the inner world also experiences minor changes. However, the initial state of the world exemplifies Alain’s feelings of emptiness and loneliness. The world is a blank canvas. Alain is similarly indistinct without truly realizing it. Despite a few specific goals, he leads a largely directionless existence. In addition, the lack of strong emotions display a sense of homogeneity within Alain that is typical of a desert. No matter which direction one looks, the view is always the same.
Power:Merrick possesses a form of matter manipulation which emphasizes organic or biological manipulation.
To represent Alain’s intelligence, his power has taken a form largely rooted in science, a field where mental acuity is treasured. His overly-cautious nature, a creation of consistent analysis, has made him adaptable to any situation. The power of matter manipulation acts as an expression of this adaptability. Finally, Merrick has been shaped and motivated by his fears of loss and failure. Similarly, his power acts to prevent these fears. Generally, he has sustained loss and failure within the combat arena. However, his most important loss, the death of his guardian, was the result of a mysterious illness. To prevent these intensely personal losses, Alain's power takes the form of a specific type of matter manipulation. It's the biological and organic manipulation of himself. This manipulation of the self allows enhancement in combat through the formation and generation of various weapons from living material, but the potential also exists for full body manipulation which provides unique insight into the art of healing. Whether he's confronted with a combat or medical related danger, Alain's power literally allows his self to adapt in order to survive and prevent future losses.
Zanpakutō:Alain’s unreleased zanpakuto is the standard katana, but with a blade that is longer by ten to twelve inches. The blade is held within an unadorned sheath with blue body while the tip and opening are black. The one element of ornamentation is a small image of flying birds which is etched onto both sides of the sheath, just below the opening. The cross-guard is rectangular in shape while black and gold in color. It also bears the flying birds motif. The hilt is covered in blue and white cloth which has been wrapped in a criss-cross pattern. A small hole in the base of the hilt serves as an attachment location for two tassel cords, one blue and one white.
The released zanpakuto doesn't possess a single true form. By unsealing Aleith’Sor, Alain is able to manipulate organic matter. In the case of Shikai, he alters the living matter that is his zanpakuto into its constituent parts which can then be restructured to form different shapes with different properties. While the shapes can vary, they often take the form of weapons. Through his training, Alain believes that he may one day be able to develop his power to a point where he will be able to incorporate physical changes to his body.
[ LEGACY CREATED ]
Origin:Alain Merrick was born in Cleveland, Ohio on March 10th 1848 to John and Cara Merrick. He was the youngest of 3 siblings, all boys, and the last child that Cara would conceive. His father was a history professor at Case Western Reserve University. His mother was a local seamstress.
As children of a college professor, the brothers had a scholastic upbringing where frivolity was severely frowned upon. This meant that there was little time for interaction with peers or engaging in typical children’s activities. For Alain and his brothers, there was always something else which needed to be read or studied. This was difficult for young Alain, but as he grew older, he began to appreciate what his father was trying to impart and grew to love learning.
By the time he was thirteen, Alain’s life had become routine. Formal schooling was combined with his father’s tutelage in the hopes that Alain would one day follow in his footsteps and become a professor. All plans changed in 1861 with the outbreak of the civil war. Never one to shy away from duty, patriotic or otherwise, John Merrick prepared for war. The two oldest sons would also return from college to enlist. Alain was eager to join the men having read numerous texts which romanticized war. Unfortunately, he was too young. So when the time came for his father and brothers to head off to war, his job was to become man of the house.
In June of 1862, tragedy struck. A letter arrived informing the Merrick household of terrible news. John Sr. had died in battle. His oldest brother, James, was badly injured and unlikely to survive. Finally, John Jr. was missing. The blow to Alain and his mother was tremendous. In the days that followed, both struggled find a way to move forward. What could either do when so far removed from events. This sentiment became the seed for an idea. Alain sat in his room and penned a letter to his mother detailing his intentions. His goal was to locate John Jr. and bring him home. If he could retrieve his father’s body for burial and bring James home, then that would be ideal. Sadly, Alain didn’t have a clue how best to accomplish this task. After careful deliberation, only one avenue seemed available to him. On July 12th 1862, Alain departed home to join the American Civil War. His mother would find his letter days later.
It wasn't long into his first year that he saw the true horrors of war and how false the books had been. There was little heroic to be found on the battlefield despite the bravery that he often witnessed. In order to cope and survive the ordeal, he had to adapt and adapt he did. At fourteen years of age, four years below the minimum age requirement of a soldier, Alain would serve in a variety of capacities tangential to the battlefield. For the next three years, he would be employed as a musician, runner, scribe, and surgeon’s assistant. There were even a few tense moments when he had been forced to take up arms, but he never knew if he was responsible for taking a life.
Despite his best efforts, his mission was a failure. He never recovered his father’s body, James succumbed to his injuries and John Jr. was never found. The only thing left was to deliver the awful news. On July 8th 1865, nearly three years to the day of his departure, Alain returned home to the open arms of his mother. They spent the next year trying to put their lives back together. The loss of his father and two brothers was almost more than he could bear. There were so many times when he wanted to curl up and die. He even considered suicide, but to leave his mother alone in the world, always stayed his hand.
One afternoon, his thoughts had grown particularly dark. Fortunately, this was also the day when he found a number of his father’s personal effects, triggering a revelation. Alain began to recall the teachings of his youth. In this moment, he decided that it was time to move forward and finally honor his father's wishes. He made the necessary arrangements, took the requisite tests and applied for enrollment at Cornell University.
In the fall of 1866, Alain enrolled at Cornell University. From a young age, his father had presented many fields of study. It made the choosing of a single discipline all the more difficult. On one hand, he wanted to honor his father with an emphasis in history. However, his experience as a surgeon’s assistant had left an indelible mark, sparking an interest in medicine. He ultimately decided to pursue both fields, but with an emphasis on medicine and science. He felt that this choice would allow him to help the most people after the war.
Alain graduated from Cornell University in 1870 and immediately entered the Case Western Reserve School of Medicine. Due to the rigors of his chosen profession and the recurring negative effects of the war, he remained a single man. This led to a closer relationship with his mother whom he would often visit. During one of these trips, Alain fell victim to unfortunate circumstances. The day was November 24th 1873. While tending family affairs at the local bank, two men wearing grey pinstripe suits and felt fedoras attempted to rob the place. With faces hidden behind black kerchiefs, they began waving guns around, forcing everyone to the floor. While one robber controlled the crowd, the other led the bank manager to the vault. A local officer of the law had been patrolling the streets and happened to pass by. When looking through the window, he saw patrons on the floor and surmised that a crime was in process. The policeman quickly burst through the door, opening fire on the first unsuspecting robber. Frightened customers began shouting as they tried to escape through the front door. The second criminal soon joined his partner and also opened fire. Within seconds, one robber and the cop were down. Then everything went black. Merrick couldn’t see or feel his limbs. Something wasn’t right.
Once his vision returned, he found himself standing beside his body which was face down on the floor. He was bleeding from a bullet wound to the temple. A few feet to the right of his corpse was the body of a bank robber. He suspected that the gunman fired a final bullet while in the midst of his death throes which had struck him in the head. The shock and awe of the moment was so great that he nearly missed the short male figure dressed in black robes with a sword at his hip. He started to ask the stranger a question, but was prevented by the pressure of the sword hilt pressed against his forehead. Alain closed his eyes as if by reflex to the contact with his head. When the blue orbs opened, he found himself standing on an old dirt road in the middle of nowhere with nothing in sight but a mass of trees. His mind was a blank. While walking along the road, he passed numerous people who held the same vacant look which he was certain to have. He knew not where he was and other details were equally lacking.
His silent trek continued for days before he saw something new and different, a horse and carriage. As it drew closer, the quality of the carriage became apparent which made it feel out of place in the sparse environs. The development left him curious so he wasn't paying attention when a passerby accidentally bumped him into the path of the oncoming carriage. The collision left him with a badly injured leg. The occupant exited the cabin and checked his condition. With concern upon her face, she instructed the driver to help him into the carriage. She said her name was Josephine O’Connor and she was taking him to her home. Josephine appeared to be in her 50s. She stood a few inches shy of five foot with a body that was pleasantly plump. Her dull red hair was worn pulled back into a single ponytail which extended to the middle of her back. There were the slightest hints of grey starting to dot the red hair near her temples. Wrinkles had also begun to form at the corners of her light green eyes and along her brow. She no longer bore the smooth skin and glow of youth. It was now being replaced by a hard and rough texture. Nevertheless, she maintained a handsome face despite these advancing years. She would prove to be a tiny force of nature, one which belied her charming Irish lilt.
In the weeks that followed, she nursed him back to health and taught him the things which he couldn't remember. He was in the afterlife which she called Soul Society. Specifically, they were in the ninth district of the Rukongai, an area which she described as being on the border between upper and middle class. Since it was difficult to do anything besides remain in bed, Josephine would spend her days sitting with him. They would chat about all manner of topics as Alain tried to find his footing in this new world. Josephine was becoming part guide, part teacher and part motherly figure. She was the epitome of invaluable. After a few more weeks, Alain was healed and ready to leave. On the morning of his departure, Josephine asked if he wanted to stay. She had grown accustomed to having him around. He felt the same way and graciously accepted her invitation.
As the years passed and their bond grew closer, the relationship transitioned to one of surrogate mother and son. It was when Josephine taught Alain how to read and write that she discovered he had a knack for absorbing information and an eagerness to learn. Like any good parent, she wanted to encourage her child. She began teaching him everything she knew. When she no longer had anything to teach, she would introduce Merrick to neighbors who possessed various skills. This ranged from the business acumen of a merchant peddling his wares to the artisan perfecting their craft. She was overjoyed by her role of the proud mother.
For nearly 100 years, they lived a content life together, but it all came crashing down in 1974 when she was struck by a mysterious illness. The disease didn't kill her, but she was soon bedridden. It seemed as if the life was slowly ebbing from her. Senses remained intact, but she could no longer move her limbs. Not long after falling ill, various doctors and even Shinigami sought to cure her. Although the illness didn't seem contagious, there were others similarly afflicted within the ninth and higher districts. Oddly, there were no cases in any of the lower numbered districts. Finally, Alain decided to take action. His purpose was two-fold. He wanted to investigate the situation firsthand and also learn what he could about medicine. It was difficult to leave her side, but she would be in the care of friends.
Alain would spend the next seven years traveling back and forth between the districts of the Rukongai and Josephine’s bedside. He had just returned home after another fruitless venture. He dropped his belongings at the door and rushed to his mother. As his eyes fell to her lifeless form, he knew no further trips would be possible for fear of not being by her side at the end. Days later, Josephine finally succumbed to the illness which she had battled for nearly a decade. She passed with a smile upon her lips and Alain couldn't understand why. His world had been shattered. Due to his overwhelming sadness, he hastily put her affairs in order and set out again. He would discover a cure for death.
Alain roamed the Rukongai for the next twenty five years in search of anything that could aid in this new endeavor. Years were spent delving into the natural, the philosophical, the mystical and the technological. He studied plants, folk remedies and their potential effects on the body. He sought out wise men and wise women who taught him about concepts like mind over matter. Later he found a group seeking spiritual enlightenment. This was the great beyond after all. God had to exist. If he or she didn't, then perhaps the opposite end of the spectrum held the answer. This led to investigation into the possibility of machine enhancement for the body. He was willing to explore everything, but all avenues ended in failure.
While stopping for a respite after his latest excursion, Alain sat beneath a nearby tree to be alone with his thoughts. He had learned a great deal during his time in Soul Society. However, what he most wanted to know continued to elude him. His thoughts drifted to Josephine as they so often did. A tear ran down his cheek as a few special memories replayed in his mind. He wondered what she would think if she could see him now. A small smile formed upon his lips as he brushed the tear from his cheek. Perhaps the time had come to move on. Leaves and grass swayed in the breeze, but Alain was too preoccupied to realize the absence of wind.
Rise to Power:Alain had learned about the Shinigami many years ago. It was one of the first topics that Josephine had explained after his arrival in Soul Society. During the many years that he spent in the Rukongai, he only crossed their path on one occasion. They were investigating the mysterious disease when Josephine had taken ill. Their efforts proved lacking which did little to engender confidence in their order. So while he held no particular affinity for the military force, he felt that their knowledge and resources could be useful to him.
He arrived at the academy in the fall of 2010. Unsure what to expect from the school of a military organization, he maintained an open mind. Similarly, he had no idea what would be required for enrollment. This left him slightly concerned. He walked the grounds until he found someone in a position of authority. Alain explained his situation and was directed to a classroom for testing. The instructors led the students through a variety of tasks. This included a written exam, a test of combat proficiency, and an analysis of spiritual presence. The former was a piece of cake. As for the other areas, he had never been in a fight and his knowledge of spiritual presence was limited to what Josephine had taught him. Still, he was accepted as a student due to his intellectual capacity.
On his first day, he was provided with his own asauchi and given a detailed list of the required coursework. This included sword training, hand-to-hand combat, history, and spellcasting. While he didn't appear talented in any area, he found all of the lessons fascinating. They were so different from anything else that he had ever studied. Kaido, in particular, opened up a world of possibilities. Alain quickly grew accustomed to his new life as a Shinigami and never regretted the decision to join. He also progressed at a satisfactory pace despite being deemed no better than an average student. His enthusiasm never once wavered and he maintained a hardworking demeanor.
These efforts were finally rewarded in the spring of his third year when a small group of students were tasked with a routine patrol of some outlying farm areas. While performing their assignment, the students were forced stop a group of brigands from razing the fields. Although successful in dispatching and driving off the bandits, three students incurred significant injuries. Alain, who had been hesitant to act when the fighting began, walked away from the ordeal unscathed. Fortunately, he was the most skilled at Kaido and tended their wounds. It was a lengthy, draining process and before he could finish, more bandits arrived. Among the five students, three were slowly recovering, one was in fighting shape, and Alain was feeling the effects of administering healing. The situation looked dire. As he stood beside the one prepared student, he unsheathed his zanpakuto. While waiting for the attack, he closed his eyes and let his thoughts drift to Josephine.
When he opened his eyes, he was no longer standing beside the old dirt road near the farm’s edge. Now he stood in the expanse of a reddish-brown desert. Alain couldn't hear a sound or detect any signs of movement. Then it was there. A small white dove perched atop his left shoulder and chirped in his ear. Then he was standing beside the road once more. A cool, soft wind began to blow throughout the area. His robes undulated in the breeze. In a nearly inaudible voice, Alain repeated the words that he had heard upon the desert sands. A bluish-white reiatsu flowed from his person and washed across the nearby area. An ethereal glow began to emanate from the blade and slowly grew brighter. When the light dissipated, his katana had been replaced by a four foot long blade with a flattened V-shaped crossguard and brown leather bound hilt. Alain was rejuvenated with newfound strength. Together with his fellow student, they cut a swath through the returning bandits. Their efforts effectively ended the unpleasant experience and without the loss of a single student.
The incident in the outskirts of Soul Society was a turning point for Alain. Although his understanding of the Shinigami arts had always been at a high level, his execution would begin to improve. It didn't extend to every skill, but the title of “average student” had become a thing of the past. Likewise, he no longer wielded an asauchi, but a true zanpakuto. He would spend the next three years simultaneously fostering the relationship with his spirit as well as trying to master the various Shinigami arts. He would fall short on all accounts, but he had developed enough to graduate and earn a posting with one of the five divisions. Alain would continue his studies with the Third Division.
Call to Action:Alain had been a member of the Third Division for roughly two months. After spending a week familiarizing himself with the facilities and inner workings of the squad, he had been assigned to the Seireitei General Hospital as a nurse. He often requested double shifts in order to acquire additional kaido practice of a practical nature. While he had enjoyed his time at the academy, students rarely had the time to specialize in a particular field of study. Now Merrick was being afforded the opportunity to do just that and it wouldn’t be squandered. So when he wasn’t working in the hospital, every spare moment was spent studying in one of the division libraries. Unfortunately, his kaido studies had begun to interfere with all other training. Merrick would only realize this weeks later.
One day while walking through the hospital in search of the latest study materials, he overheard some fellow division members discussing a report about a mysterious illness in the Rukongai. Upon hearing further details, he asked to see the written report. As he read the findings, memories of Josephine filled his head. It had been six years since he had thought about her illness and the damage it had caused him. However, he wasn't the same person he was back then. Now he had the knowledge, skills, and resources of a full fledged Shinigami at his disposal. With the report in hand, he returned to his quarters to map out a plan. As soon as he had free time, he would return to the investigation which he had started so long ago.
Alain hated to request time off so soon after joining the division, but this required his immediate attention. Fortunately, his request was granted and within hours of receiving approval, he was well on his way to the 42nd District of the Rukongai. The written report stated that an Abel Kleiza had fallen ill and his father, Joram, had sought the assistance of anyone who might be able to help. Merrick remembered having the same feelings when Josephine took ill, but the Shinigami were unable to help. He wanted things to be different this time. Helping this family would be like helping his mother, a second chance to make amends. These kinds of thoughts filled his head during the uneventful trek to the forest home. Fortunately, it had provided Alain with some much needed shunpo practice.
Due to his late start, Merrick arrived at their home in the dead of night. He stood outside the door with hand raised ready to knock, but he hesitated. In that instant, Josephine sprang to mind yet again. He thought he had come to terms with her death, but there he stood, about to open that figurative door once more. Surely she could understand that he still owed her. In the end, it was the fond memories, too numerous to ignore, which decided for him. He rapped at the door, but it garnered no response. Alain was on the verge of a second series of knocks when he heard a pair of feet brush across the floor.
The wooden door exploded outward with a force sufficient to launch him backwards through the air and into a nearby tree. A split second prior to striking the tree, he caught a glimpse of a hooded figure as they darted through the doorway and into the forest. A product of shock more than physical injury, his reaction was slow. This allowed the assailant a significant head start. Merrick quickly regained his feet and began pursuit through the treetops, but they were fast, too fast. Within seconds, it was as if the attacker simply vanished from Alain’s vision. More disturbing was the lack of any spiritual trace. As he took a moment to assess the situation, he realized he had felt nothing at the house either.
The fingers of his left hand stroked the thin goatee upon his chin while those of his right firmly grasped the hilt of his now unsheathed zanpakuto. Despite continually scanning his surroundings, he neither saw nor sensed the impending attack. Rather, it was the breaking of branches which alerted him. This allowed just enough time to block a sword slash across his torso. However, the true saving grace may have been having blade in hand when the fight began. Despite his best effort, Alain soon found himself lying face down in the damp grass and bleeding out from multiple sword slashes to limbs and torso.
Merrick would find himself in Seireitei General Hospital the next day. Much of the damage had already been mended to perfection prior to his waking. Now he needed answers. The nurse said that he had been found by one of the routine patrols. When he questioned her about Joram and Abel, he learned that no bodies were found and the home had been burned to the ground. She then departed the room leaving Alain alone with his thoughts. The sting of having failed Josephine a second time was nearly as bad as when she died. The loss of life was always regrettable, but he couldn’t make himself feel for them. The loss of evidence and the loss of potential clues was by far the greater tragedy in his eyes. An investigation which had lacked new information for years, was once again stagnant. How would continue? How would he find this mystery assailant? He didn’t have the answers yet, but the incident revealed one thing. Kaido had become a detriment to his overall growth. His desire to honor Josephine had nearly killed him. If he ever wanted to reciprocate, he would need to stay alive. Thus, he would rededicate himself to all of the Shinigami arts.