“BEGIN!” The announcer yelled and every finalist darted towards the pillar.
Adrenaline was in severe overdrive, Blaze couldn't hear anything other than the sound of his own heartbeat; even in the crowd's silence. Feeling the raindrops batter against his face and the pillar drawing ever so close to each contestant Blaze could feel that someone was already raising the pressure and starting this fight off.
“Ladies and gentlemen it appears that Kibo Kyuryu is not wasting any time in drawing his shikai!” The announcer commentated but drew no reaction from the occupied crowd, each spectator sitting anxiously on the edge of their seat. Blaze turned his head to see Kibo with his shikai; it's long turquoise pole and spiked ends beginning to spin before Kibo made a full 180 degree turn and smashed his pole onto the arena ground. Wind combusted on contact and sent Kibo hurling into the air. Turning back around, Kibo's soft blonde hair slapped his face and through the water hitting his eyes there was a blurred image already awaiting him on top of the pillar...Zuka.
Standing on top of the pillar with one foot resting on the locked box, Zuka held his dormant zanpakuto and slashed horizontally towards Kibo. Too much momentum left Kibo defenseless. Grinding his teeth together, Blaze watched Kibo go right over the pillar and passed Zuka, arena spotlights created silhouettes of Kibo and Zuka for Blaze just in time to watch a spray blood trickle from Kibo's passing body.
“And to think you are called lightspeed it's pa-”
Before Zuka could take the time to scold Kibo's impatient rush, Zuka was violently thrown from the pillar's top. A long streak of strong wind had took form of a spear and pierced his right shoulder, carrying Zuka off of his platform and onto the arena's floor at the base of the Pillar. A mist of blood flung all over his face from the violent wind continuing to puncture his shoulder while he was pinned to the floor. “Nnngh, D-dammit!” Zuka exclaimed in anger. In Zuka's peripherals was Kibo starting to run at him. Wind died down and it appeared as if Kibo had permitted Zuka to be released. “You were saying?!”| Kibo yelled, holding his stomach with his left hand in clearly visible pain while his right was beginning to spin his shikai's pole in quick succession “Kaze No Jishiin!” Kibo exclaimed while wind spine just around the circumference of Kibo's pole which created a buzz-saw effect. Kibo released his grip on his spinning Shikai but once it struck the ground it continued to crawl it's way on the arena floor while cutting through the very ground it passed...aiming right for Zuka's side.
Standing at the top of the pillar Blaze had the perfect vantage point to attack Kibo who patiently watched his attack take action on his enemy. Hesitation stopped Blaze from stopping potential threats; (I..I can't I'll fight him last) Blaze told himself. Before looking down to the box in front of him.
A powerful blow to his face, Blaze's vision darkened and before he knew it he too found himself on the arena floor with no wind coming in or out of his lungs. High above him stood Marume who twirled his cane in his right hand, all the while looking down to Blaze with a sinister grin. As Marume stopped spinning his cane he caught it mid spin, flawlessly, with his left hand. Blaze took notion to the blood from his own face lingering on the dark silver cane.
Marume whistled down to Blaze to get his attention. Both men locked eyes and Marume gestured his hand for Blaze to look above him, out in the distance. “Don't just pay attention to that lad haha” Marume chuckled. Blaze looked above him just in time to see upside-down, Kibo was charging at him. Blaze rolled to his right just in time to avoid Kibo mid lunge who just so happened to impale his spear-like shikai in time for Blaze to get to one knee.
“Discipline!” Kibo yelled, Blaze felt a shiver down his spine...Kibo was filled with anger. Unsheathing his shikai from the ground, Kiibo began to twirl his weapon and swap it from hand to hand which caused a flurries of strikes here and there towards Blaze's arms and legs. “Loyalty!” Kibo continued yelling while Kibo gripped his Shikai with both hands and drove his Shikai's sharp edge towards Blaze.
Quick reaction and accuracy had Blaze parry Kibo's Shikai upwards and gave Blaze the opportunity to strike...an opportunity wasted. Blaze instead of potentially striking down his friend; had one question left to ask. Time seemed to slow by and the rain traveled to the ground ever so slowly. “What are you here to prove?” Blaze asked with no emotion, just curiosity. “
Kibo's Spiritual pressure spiked, wind enclosing from all around Blaze and Kibo to wrap tightly and spin around his Shikai. “To prove myself, how... HOW DO YOU NOT SEE THAT?!”
Kibo's spear struck Blaze in his chest and sent his body wheeling along the winds current to smash against the arena floor 30 feet away from the impact. Blaze lay on the ground starting to make his way to standing straight up, pain surging up hist chest and collarbone. Blaze began to remember a flashback to when he was leaving Kibo and the Soul Society. “I will walk away today, stronger...I've walked away stronger than what I had been once before”.
"Blaze, just please… whatever this is all about can you just sit down and wait for other Captains to get here" Kibo yelled so Blaze would hear, yet all the other members of Squad 14 inside couldn't hear, lighting flickered down in the background, illuminating Kibo and Blaze only meters away from each other. "Blaze… you were the one to teach me, help me see that the world of us Soul Reapers isn't something to be worried about… you guided me" Kibo grinded his teeth together and his zanpakuto now jingled, the steel clutching in both Kibo's hands now. Blaze just stared to Kibo with his mouth wide opened and in shock… why did Kibo have to be there at this time. "You taught me how to toughen up, our fathers both not their when we needed them… yet I was there for you and.. You for me".
"Kibo, you know I'd rather die than ever lay my blade down… I can't stay here if no matter what I do im frowned upon, there is no place here for me to help so I promise I'll be elsewhere…"
"I don't want you elsewhere" Kibo stared into Blazes eyes, his wide open with fury… anger towards Blaze that he wouldn't see his understanding. "And as for dying… I'd rather be dead than let you leave this place you oh so loved to fight for… If fear of the powerful and unknown drives stupid people to lead with a shivering hand then I will be the one to pass on what you showed me. I will show everyone WITH YOU BLA-"
Kibo stopped, his body hunched forward and his zanpakuto slowly hitting the ground. Blaze removed his fist from Kibo's chest, a cracking noise faintly emitting as he withdrew his fist. Blaze began to walk past his friend and towards the Senkaimons building.
"Kibo Kyuryu… I wish it could be true, but I promise you, give it time. Goodbye my friend"
*Flashback ends, Blaze now standing before his friend and enemy*
Blaze no longer looked out towards a best friend...not in this battle, to undermine Kibo with anything else but swordsmanship would be an insult. “Kibo...” Blaze felt his tears hit his hand. Kibo stared down Blaze. With a quick clear of his throat and wiping away his tears, Blaze found himself holding a zanpakuto just burning his clenched fist with flames. “This fight is going to be oh so good!” Blaze grinned and began to hold his shikai infront of his chest horizontally, his body began to outline with red spirit energy. Rocks and loose gravel tumbled away from Blaze with each surge of his releasing power and every sway of stuttering flames.
Kibo charged Blaze with shikai in hand and his spiritual energy also vibrating the very ground he walked on.
Blaze's shikai emerged from it's sheath of fully covering flames to have only portions visible while the rest held onto the flickering flames. “Let's GO!” Blaze roared. In a very anti-climatic dissapointment tot he crowd, Kibo was struck in the side by many small lines moving so fast and so thin that both spectators and competators couldn't see just how Kibo had been hurt. Kibo dropped to his knees and his Shikai's win began to encase around his body and spin in a circular motion quickly, acting as a shield agaisnt what was striking him. Blaze watched as a flurry of tiny wooden needles...splinters, bounced off of Kibo's shield and stuck into the arena ground.
Blaze look to his far left and watched as Zuka pointed his newly released Shikai. Zuka's bandages covering his face had been torn off, Blaze presuming that Kibo's wind had taken it's toll. Zuka's foggy white eyes blinking, a wide smile on his face. “Buraindo Aki, the endless autumn!” Zuka began to speak, Blaze began to run towards Zuka and almost instantly Zuka whipped his sword into Blaze's Direction. Zuka's Shikai was a black, wooden kendo sword with a splintered wooden hilt. “the Shards of my zanpakuto will be all the guidance to victory I need” Zuka remarked, splinters of his shikai beginning to dart towards blaze in a straight tunnel-like projectile, Blaze seeing no end.
“I once left the soul society” Blaze began to speak, setting his right foot back and getting ready for Zuka's attack. Kibo within his defensive shell tried to make out Blaze and Zuka but could only hear what blaze was saying muffled. “I left because I saw no line I had crossed and yet...I was told to stop fighting alongside my zanpakuto. I took all the time I could muster in a year” the splinters from Zuka's Shikai were only a second away from Blaze before he began slicing his blade back and forth from hand to hand, acting as if his Zanpakuto was a never ending series of horizontal and vertical slashes that merged between the combination on angles. Each slash had Blaze's zanpakuto meet one of the splinters in mid attack and sliced the wood in half, some thin halves of the wooden splinters crumbled into a feint glow of charred ember. The sword motions from Blaze's technique were so fast even the flame on Kewashii Furea seemed to stay in place, the blade moving too fast for his own fire to catch up.
“I trained harder than I ever thought imaginable” Blaze started to walk forward through the endless stream of splinters. “I've fallen far down from being a good captain, leader and most of all a good friend!” Upon yelling Blaze's Shikai roared with a gust of Flame to push back Zuka's Shikai attack. The fire was a nothing but a simple distraction, crowd watching as Blaze Shunpo'd out of harms way. Zuka's needles still aiming at where he had been once Blaze's flames had dispersed. Zuka's right arm which held his Shikai outwards felt weak, Blaze's bone shattering grip holding Zuka by his bicep. “I'll be damned if I'm stopped by a porcupine” In a very quiet monotone Blaze spoke to Zuka who's mouth cracked open in surprise. Blaze flung Zuka over his head, not releasing his grip. “My climb to redemption-” Blaze spoke out loud in general, Zuka hanging in mid air now felt his arm dislocate with the force and speed that Blaze used to smash Zuka back into the arena floor; “-begins tonight” Blaze finished his sentence while avoiding a mouthful of debris.
The crowd whispered among themselves, murmurs heard by Blaze and Kibo who stood out in the open now. Kibo waved his Shikai in front of himself and used his wind to wipe away the debris swiftly to show Zuka on the ground motionless. Zuka's zanpakuto was in it's dormant state. “H-how...” Zuka paused and coughed up blood, his blood being quickly washed off his face with the rain starting to pick up and drop so heavy it almost heart when it touched bare skin. “How can I... a top contender for the captain position be beat...so easily” Blaze looked down to Zuka with mostly distaste.
“You made it this far, be proud. I don't see myself giving up that haori anytime soon” Blaze opened his mouth and nothing but truth came out, no matter if he felt bad being so blunt...this fight in his mind would be his.
“Then I'm sorry to disappoint!”
Marume Saiwai, the man with nothing on his agenda but opening the locked haori box atop the pillar stood with a lock and chain in his hand...the box was still visibly closed but only needed a simple latch to be lifted up.
Blaze's eyes widened and watched as Kibo's wind formed a whip that tailored around Marume's arm and the lock, tightly gripping marume and retracting him close to Kibo, close to the battle.
“Bastard!” Marume yelled smashing his cane against Kibo's wind and breaking the grip on his arm all too late as his body still struck the arena floor and tossed his body along the ground like a ragdoll.
Blaze stared down to Zuka with a look that appeared to most of the crowd as 'frightening'. “Do you know why you were able to sneak up on Kibo and land your Shikai's hit?” Blaze said as he knelt down next to Zuka's head briefly. “I released my Shikai...your power wasn't even noticed...Zu-kaaa” Blaze whispered next to Zuka before standing back up.
Zuka who lay down on the ground attempted to spit on Blaze, “this is not over!” Zuka tried to grab his sword. “Submit” Blaze demanded and moved his zanpakuto over to Zuka's neck. Blaze's adrenaline felt as if it were in overdrive when he heard Zuka reply “Never!”. The Crowd watched in silence, even marume and Kibo took time to watch Blaze begin to form a sphere of searing flames at the hilt of his blade. “I'm serious! Forfeit or I will make sure you will!” Blaze yelled attempting to force his opponent to a submission, all the while knowing this tournament had to have a winner and the rules are very straightforward.
“Submit to thy opponent, death, or wear the haori. Those are the rules oh great Blaze” Zuka grinned, blood running through his teeth. “My lungs punctured, ribs shattered, what more could happen...I will NOT EVER STO-”
Blaze never looked away and his sphere of flames slammed against Zuka's face.
A pause of silence for only a second before Blaze could hear the scariest sound in his life...a grown man's scream. Blaze could make out the words from Zuka's yells and screams...Zuka yelled “I submit!”. Blaze quickly dispersing his flames and walking away from Zuka's body. No emotion would or could be shown...not now, Blaze kept re assuring himself while he stepped aside to allow medics and officials to have Zuka removed from the tournament.
“That sound... it was so delightful” Blaze said in his own conscious, his eyes blacking out before he found himself feeling dizzy. That statement actually being the scariest thing Blaze had ever heard himself...hearing his own conscious saying such a thing.
Kibo stood staring at Blaze his expression....scared.
“It had to of been done” Blaze said to Kibo in reasoning. “I know...it's not that though Blaze” Kibo began to take a few steps back. Blaze looking around his body as if something was on his body. “What is it?” Blaze asked.
“Your eyes...they turned black a second ago” Marume was the only other one than Kuro that had seen what happened. “When you attacked Zuka, your eyes...they...went dark or something” Marume began to seperate from Blaze and Kibo, the three ensuing a triangle around where Zuka had been.
Blaze knew exactly what had happened. (Kewashii...what's going on) Blaze saw the manifest of his Zanpakuto spirit by his side, turning his head Blaze raised his eyebrows expecting a response. “You want this. You want to win this tournament more than you're allowing yourself to acknowledge it...that man you attacked, you weren't looking to compromise but get him out of the way. Get him out of the way quickly” Kewashii began to explain.
(It was destruction I felt. I wanted to destroy him) Blaze confirmed to himself in his thoughts what was happening. Kewashii vanished just as soon as he had came. (After all the work with Lucia, Helen and Gemma) Blaze stared down to his feet in disgust and the feeling of inner defeat began to wash over him. (It could never be suppressed...such an urge)
Marume began to spin his cane in his right hand once more, this time water flinging against Blaze's cheek. “Are you ready day dreamer...we're all about to do something spectacular for the crowd hmmm?” Marume being more cheerful than he was just a second ago. Kibo stared at Blaze, not knowing what was happening exactly. “Blaze” Kibo called out and got Blaze's attention. “Chin up, you're gunna lose to me, got it?” Kibo grinned at his cocky remark...almost teasing Blaze in a friendly manner.
This gesture was all it took for Blaze to depart with whatever ill intended actions his mind might have been conjuring up for the ending of this tournament... Kibo's cocky smirk bringing Blaze back to his reality. Blaze smirked , throwing his left arm to catch Marume's cane in mid swing. Blaze turned his head to see Marume over his shoulder and caught, predicted in attack.
“Maybe I have to kick it up a notch like you two huh” Marume narrowed his eyes and smiled.
High up in the stands Tessa sat calm as could be, Tsuyoi who sat above Tessa noticed this and felt very uneasy. “Tessa” Tsuyoi called down to her in the seat below, a gentle tap on her shoulder and she turned around with a grin on her own. “W-what...I mean, is something bothering you?”.
Tessa turned her head back to the match and her shoulders bounced from her withheld laughter.
“This guy is gunna have to step up his game something fierce” Tessa spoke out, her chin upwards so Tsuyoi could hear over those talking next to him. “After all-” Tessa resting her elbows on her knees had leaned forward. “He's fighting Squad fourteen”.
Down on the arena floor Blaze and Marume stayed motionless and locked against one another. Marume's spiritual pressure was beginning to make it's presence known. “Shikai versus Shikai, versus Shi-”
“Shikai!” Kibo cut off Marume and whipped his Shikai into Marume's side.
Marume spiraled towards the tall pillar in the middle of the arena. Upon impact with the pole Marume's body indented into the pillar sending cracks climbing up and along the entire structure. Marume's eye twitched in pain, blood starting to form on a cut at the top of Marume's forehead. “D-damn” Marume spat to the floor and climbed out of the indent in the pillar, leaning forward and looking to the ground. Just as air was beginning to feel normal in his lungs after such an impact like that...two feet blurred into Marume's line of sight with the ground.
“Daini no Taiyo, Second Sun!” in a commanding tone Blaze slashed from Marume's right shoulder down to his left side of his hip. The searing red flames from Kewashii Furea's flames left some sort of after image of Kewashii Furea back at the point where Blaze had started his slash. With his free left hand Blaze reached for this after image of his Shikai; made of purely flames. In quick succession Blaze followed suit to the first slash, this time with the sword crafted of solid flames. Once the blade of flames slide across Marume's stomach Blaze clenched tightly onto the flames, causing the flames to waver and create an explosion. The explosion sent Marume covered in flames right through the Arena Pillar and his body sent smacking against the arena floor.
The arena floor began to shake as the large pillar crumbled to the ground. A crowd of debris started to flourish from the base of the pillar and consume the entire arena.
Kibo standing far enough back had time to spin his Shikai from one hand to another and blow a gust of wind along the arena wall. It took a few seconds but the cloud of grey began to spiral upwards and into the raining night. Blaze stood with his shikai in his hand and looked to his zanpakuto grinning. (Our practice through all of our free time. Right here, tonight...I'll show what new things we've been learning) Blaze thought to himself with a sense of accomplishment and approval.
The arena floor continued to vibrate, even though the pillar was gone. Blaze looked over to Marume's direction;
“Draw your sword, draw your shield...Rakki Fuko!”