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 Shine, Firefly of the Sun. [Bankai-training thread]

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Join date : 2012-11-27

PostSubject: Shine, Firefly of the Sun. [Bankai-training thread]   Mon May 26, 2014 6:08 pm

[Toja Hagiwara]


What had been the final straw for Toja Hagiwara? It was hard to say. Maybe it was the, by now, never-stopping pain in his head, warning of the foretold time coming near. Maybe it was his complete inability to become stronger on his own - his over-reliance on his Squadmates, and on his Captain. Or his knowledge that, for all of his bravado in the face of danger, he was too weak to beat his inner monster long enough to save his squadmates. That last humiliation, being saved by Kaminari YET AGAIN, was simply dehumanizing for him. When he had begun his hard training, he still believed - maybe foolishly so - that by accepting his weaknesses, by overcoming them, he could be more... more like her. Without doubt in his own strength, in control of his emotions - a stronger person. But all that had gotten stronger was his body. He still rushed into action without any plan, and almost got his squadmates killed as a result - a poor excuse for a seated officer.

So now, he was leaving the Seireitei behind him, rapidly disappearing into the distance, as he dashed away from it using Shunpo repeatedly. The banging hammers in his head didn't ease up at all - a constant clanging, searing pain far worse than his own fire. The fires of the Firefly... fires fuelled by love. But by what love, exactly? What did he love? Was it a person, the Gotei itself, maybe even himself - he just couldn't tell. Even after Kaminari made him realize the truth of his flames, he couldn't control them. What use were flames of love, anyway? Fire was a means to destroy, not something to protect. How was he supposed to ever protect anyone with his flames, love or not?
But now, he would learn to understand it - or die trying. He'd take the power of Hotaru, and understand it - ease the hammers, defeat his inner Hollow, and become what he should've been ages ago - a full person, not some comedic relief fuelled by rage at people misreading his gender. But to truly do this, he had to travel far - without enough distance, the Shinigami within Seireitei would immedeatly sense the massive buildup of Reiatsu. So his target was a group of hills beyond even the 90th District - a lawless land, with few souls living there, and even fewer Shinigami ever paid attention to this area. Here, he'd be alone - something that he promised Kaminari that he wouldn't ever be until this monster was tamed. This was the second time he was breaking his word with her - and just like the first time, the sting of doing so was deep. He didn't WANT to betray her trust - he'd rather swallow a thousand needles. But what was the alternative? Keep acting tough, until the monster in him broke free, destroyed her reputation for keeping it secret, and forcing her to take him down? Survival or not, that fate would not be one he'd readily accept.
"This far should be fine. One last time... I'll give it my all. I'll do it." Taking a deep breath, standing in the middle of a lush green field, Toja was unable to sense anything with even the slightest bit of energy anywhere in a large radius. Focusing all of his mind into his inner self, the hammers just intensified with the pain they were causing. It was obvious why - using so much Reiatsu was going to drive his other self into activity, would call active his dark Reiatsu as well. But he'd hold on - unleash his true self without letting the beast run free.
"Now, come... Hotaru!"

The blade on his back began glowing, before a shape slowly materialized out of it. This was different from the normal 'appearances' his Zanpakutō-Spirit had done in the past - this time, she was at her full power, right here, in Soul Society. Almost immedeatly, the figure in front of him radiated out enough heat to wither and wilt the grass in a large radius away to dust - but the small Shinigami braved the heat, and grabbed the handle of the sword on his back, which was now lacking a spirit within.
There was no need for words between the two now. In Hotaru's hand, a sword materialized - a perfect copy of the one Toja was holding. No, it would be more accurate to call his sword a copy or fake - what she held in her hand was a representation of herself. The fire-fairy was no taller than Toja himself, and her face was unusually serious - this battle would decide everything. If Toja lost now, then he would either die, or his Hollow would take control. There was no room for error for him, and his spirit knew that. She also knew the truths he was still searching for - and she'd take them to the grave if he failed here today.
For weeks, Toja had trained in the art of the blade, learning how to properly take a fighting stance, and how to fight a true opponent with a sword. But none of that mattered now. Raising his blade with a single hand, he didn't even try to take on a proper fighting position, instead facing Hotaru head on - and she did the same. The heat around both of them only intensified, and the air flirred wildly with it. For anyone watching, both of them seemed to be just blurs of color within searing heat.

There was no loud bang to initiate the combat. No shout from either of them to signify it. Instead, they simply both charged forward - simultaneously, without holding back. Two blades, forged from steel as hot as fire, clashed against each other. The sparks flying through the air alone could probably create a deadly inferno alone, as neither of the two gave an inch to the other, pushing against each other. At first, they seemed evenly matched - until another searing attack of the hammers within his head caused Toja to falter for just a second. Reacting immedeatly, he used Shunpo to dodge backwards - not a second too early, for Hotaru's blade slammed down into the ground, melting the earth and rock underneath it. Without giving him a moment to recover, the spirit kept chasing, the red butterfly-like wings on her back propelling her forwards just as fast as if she had been able to use Shunpo as well. Steel clashed on steel again, this time while they were both in motion, and the sparks flying off to the side seared the ground and burned it black.
A shout from both of them, and blades interlocked, only to seperate and clash again. And every time the hammers bashed down, Toja had to retreat, again and again. The pounding was driving him crazy - why was he doing this? Why was he fighting? He should just give it up. Run away, or let himself be killed.
Before his left eye, Toja saw his inner world, but it was changed. Blue flames, blue magma, everything that was once red now clad in a tone of ghastly blue. And within it, grinning from ear to ear, a twisted version of himself... his inner Hollow. It was telling him to give in, to finally give up. It'd be so easy to do it, such a simple task. The small Shinigami was about to slip into the embrace of the blue flames, when an image flashed before his eyes.
Kaminari, and the look in her eyes when she told him about this monster. Give in, to something so vile?

No.

Gritting his teeth, Toja threw his entire strength forward with his blade - and for the first time, Hotaru was forced back by a few inches, their blades clashing in a whirlwind of steel, parry, riposte, dodge, parry, clash, in wild and frantic motions. The hammers in his head just intensified, further and further. A crescendo of pain, red haze, and suffering, but Toja didn't give a single inch anymore. The grinding of his teeth was loud enough to overpower the sound of clashing metal, and the rising Reiatsu of the two would soon be large enough to be felt all the way over in Seireitei. There was no reason to keep going - the pain was only getting worse. What was even his own name or purpose? Why did he fight - for WHOM did he fight? Had he ever fought for anyone, even if it was only himself, or was there no purpose behind his steel?
The world before his inner eye slowly was filled with nothing but blue fire, fuelling the hammers pounding away at his mind. If it could not make him give in with words, it would do so with pain and rage.

Don't Listen.

With a shout filled with anger and frustration, Toja leaped forward - but this time, his attack was flawed. The biting hot steel from Hotaru hit his left shoulder, cutting open a wound and spraying red blood into the air, where it evaporated from the enormous heat. More enraged than anything else, Toja just continued his assault - more and more small cuts appearing on his body, until a kick from Hotaru flung him back, crashing into the ground, leaving a wide trail of split open ground as he scraped along. Within a small crater, he slowly stood up, using his blade as a support. His breath was ragged - even though he couldn't see it himself, his right eye had gone black, with a yellow iris within. But something was different now. His rage... it was so meaningless. So empty. In the past, his anger and violent tendencies were sometimes a thing to laugh about, other times a thing to fear... But what did they mean, really? Frustration at his own appearance, nothing else. He never WANTED to be like this. When he became a Shinigami as a young boy, all he wanted to be... What had it been? His memory failed him. As Hotaru was slowly walking towards him, still with a completely serious and cold expression, Toja's mind raced.
And slowly, the scene before his inner eye changed again - visions of rage, of violence. And his Hollow, laughing amongst them - this was who he was, empty rage and destruction. Nothing would ever change that! Flames were fuelled by negativity, and he was only negative. Angry about his body, about never having lived properly outside of his duty, in the end, he was even angry and envious of his captain, right? These thoughts kept swarming him, twisted images of the past and possible future before his eyes. But no, he wouldn't give in to that. It was WRONG. Simply WRONG!

"What am I fighting for?"

Such a simple question, but all answers he knew were just excuses. 'For the Gotei', 'For my Squad'. No, that wasn't why he fought, and it had never been the reason. Why was he frustrated at how he looked, at how weak his body was naturally, before his Reiatsu and dedication finally managed to counteract it? He didn't want simple recognition. He wanted what all heroes from the stories always got. Not glory, not fame. Friends. Loved ones. Family. He never fought 'for his squad'. He fought... for his family. Inept idiots at times, assholes at others, genuinly scared of him in some cases... But all of them loveable idiots and screwups. When he heard they were in danger, he didn't rush out there to prove himself, or to kill Hollows, but to save his family. A tiny guy like him was no hero - he lacked the build for it, the patience and kindness. But he only lacked the latter two because of this anger, the feeling of being inadequate.
His Hollow looked quite displeased as Toja swatted away those images of rage. That wasn't him. His mind was filled not only with rage - it was part of him, but it would no longer define him. Caused by his Hollow, maybe - but also because he hated parts of himself, like anybody did. The spell of his inner beast was broken - now they stood before one another, each clad in their own flames, red and blue.

"I'm such a fool."

His mind went back to the bar from a few nights ago. How easy it actually was - to find friends, no matter the social standing or circumstance. He wasn't a funny guy, or especially handsome - but he had learned something from Kaminari. He was honest now, with himself. And now, it was time to be honest with himself. As Hotaru charged forward again, white steel rushing forward, Toja deflected the blow without even having to look. What he was seeing there, in Hotaru - this ignorant rage - was himself. A weak-minded guy plagued by nightmares and headaches, who had forgotten why he began fighting in the first place and continued only for fighting's sake. But no more. that was over, for now and forever. Every single following attack was deflected so easily that it was now Hotaru who seemed frustrated.

"This rage isn't all there is to me."

With a single swipe, Toja pushed his Zanpakutō spirit back, flinging her away from himself. One of his eyes was still glowing yellow, but the hammers couldn't hurt him anymore. The frustration caused by their pain was irrelevant. The first truth was now revealed - he was a rough guy, not the most pleasant person to be around, but he was honest, loved his 'family' - and he'd never, EVER hurt them again, in any way. This anger held no power, because ot was empty. And with a heart filled with that feeling, both him and Hotaru said a single word.
"Illuminate!"

If the battlefield was a frying pan beforehand, then it was now the surface of mercury. The heatwaves emitted from both Hotaru and Toja simultaneously washed over the ground, and cracked it open with heat alone, drying it out completely. Flames circled around the hands of both of them - wearing 'gloves' that left the fingers free, and went up almost to the elbow of the wearer. The sparkling fires reflected within the eyes of the Shinigami and the Spirt - the latter still deadly serious, while Toja's own love for the flames was reflected in his. Normally, using his Shikai meant a barrage of Kidō was about to rain upon his opponent... But not this time.
This was a fight to prove his worth to wield Hotaru fully - not to show off that he knew all incantations in his sleep and could blast a hole through a solid steel block with it. So instead of shouting the name of one of his spells, he instead formed both of his hands into fists, and ignited the molten blades of his gloves, extending over the hands like arm-mounted shortblades. Being made out of concentrated, hard fire, they shone with a bright light, emitting heat all around Toja once again.
Hotaru followed suit - the gloves on her hands also extended the glowing, short blades, which she raised and pointed at her wielder now. Unlike him, she was still completely without a real scratch from their fight. With a flap from her fairy-like wings, she dashed forward towards Toja - who himself used Shunpo for the same effect. Stabbing forth his right arm, Hotaru blocked his assault with her two blades, deflecting him to the side, dashing past her, who was now trying to stab Toja in he back - who, in turn, dropped down lower, dodging the fiery blades above his head, and kicking at Hotaru's legs, causing her to stumble backwards. Following up, the small Shinigami jumped back into fighting position and continued the asssault, deflecting the blades of his spirit to the side before attempting once again to hit her with the molten fire. However, right before his left-handed blade succeeded, he suddenly felt a surge of heat rising... and used Shunpo to dodge backwards just in time to evade a huge wave of fire from the hands of his spirit.
"You're running out of time."
For the first time in this fight, she spoke up - and Toja just nodded. He knew full and well that this fight was not only depleting his Reiatsu at an incredibly high rate, but also that his Hollow grew stronger by the second - without Reiatsu to chain him down, Toja would soon be helpless to keep him sealed. His black and yellow eyes spoke bounds of that. Before both of his eyes, he now saw his Hollow, and his Zanpakutō spirit, both in the same pose, both with flaming blades on their arms... Two sides of the same coin. Where there was trust and love, there was also betrayal and hatred. But instead of charging forward again, his stance relaxed - his mind was focused on the one thing he had to do to win this fight, and to unlock his true potential. Both Hotaru and his Hollow noticed what he was doing - instantly, the killing intent and pressure emitted from them and their hands especially skyrocketed. The Hollow had just witnessed his entire well thought-out plan crumble and shatter before him - his manipulation disabled by something as quaint as 'truth'. He was furious. Hotaru embodied the love he had - but only if his love was true, would he be able to defeat her. The vulcano of his inner world started to erupt now - red and blue magma flying past both of the versions of Toja, which were riding two melting rocks in the middle of the inferno.

"Hotaru no Hikari!"

Three voices in unison, and the sky above Soul Society lit up as if a second sun had just been born. Red flames clashed in the real world, while red and blue clashed in his inner world - and through those flames, the three combatants raced towards each other, internal or external world no longer mattered in this inferno. Whatever the result, it would be the final move of Toja as a Shinigami. Either he'd die, turn into a Hollow... or become who he wanted to be.
In the middle of the flames, three metal swords clashed into each other, interlocking. The bladed form of Hotaru, wielded by herself and both versions of her owner. The fires surrounding them burned them all equally - clothing and skin scorched and turned black, hair crisping away into ash...
But it all ended in one single motion. When Toja dropped his sword, and embraced them both. His monster, and his sword.
"This is... who I am. Love and rage, equally. If the world won't allow for fire to protect - then I will burn down the rules of the world that make it impossible!"
The bright light of the flames joined into each other now - instead of red and blue, the fire was as white as the brightest fires, as the three burned figures in the middle fused together. The flames around them shrunk together, forming a ball of bright light around the figure inside.
"Bankai!"
And with a quite audible 'bang', the sphere of white exploded to reveal a reborn man within. On his body, a deep red kimono, replacing his normal Shinigami-uniform. On his head, a red gem right above the forehead, shining with internal flame - and around it, like a tiara, a golden ring around the head. Even his hair seemed different - it was a bit longer now. The biggest change, however, were his weapons. Instead of long gloves on each arm, glowing, golden bracelets that were made from liquid fire were now serving as his weapons - flimmering symbols of the different schools of Kidō within the constantly melting and shifting material. When Toja opened his eyes, they were completely normal again - the raging within his head was tamed.
"Koasahi no Hotaru." [Firefly of the Small Sun]
And with the first wind not deathly hot hitting his skin in a while, he sank down to the ground - where he quickly collapsed right onto the charred and broken ground surrounding him. A complete and utter success, but damn, it had been a tiring one. And he wasn't exactly sure if this victory would keep his inner Hollow down for good - probably not. Aknowledging his rage as just another part of him, but one that was empty when without purpose, only took away part of the power that this monster had - but enough for Toja to feel quite accomplished as he disspelled his Bankai, and just decided to lay there for a couple more minutes... or hours... until he could move again properly.

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Shine, Firefly of the Sun. [Bankai-training thread]
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