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Beautiful Lie

By Liz Grothe

Romance / Horror

Prologue

Definitions:



Zanpakuto-sword-like weapon carried by Shinigami. They are known to have spirits embedded within them, which the Shinigami can communicate with.


Shinigami- Known as a death god, rankings range from the basic shinigami, lieutenant, captain, and finally Captain-Commander.

Seireitei- The land where the Shinigami thrive. Many districts include people who are yet to become shinigamis, and live in poverty. The shinigami ranks thrive in the center beyond the gates.

Hollow- A gigantic creature with a white mask. Normally in the resemblance of an animal.

Menos Grande- A type of hollow, as its name ensues, it is the biggest of the hollows.

It was pitch black, extremely cold, and a layer of mist covered the cave. Hoarse cries could be heard echoing deep within the mouth, along with a deafening roar, shaking the newly formed icicles hanging from the ceiling like stalactites. Rapid footsteps pounded against the hard ground somewhere inside the bottomless pit, skidding and sliding as if they were on a thin sheet of ice in the first snowfall of the season. Panting was picked up below the sound of the padding footsteps, gasping and choking on air while running away from an unseen enemy. They fisted a hand in their uniform, as if clutching onto their life, racing towards the entrance, hoping for a quick escape.

  The piercing roar sounded off again, shattering his eardrums with ease. He could hear its growls draw near, rebounding off the walls and ringing in his ears. He pictured the monstrosity in the liquid moonlight of dazzling crystal, revealing those slitted, murderous pools of emotion boring into his eye sockets, large elongating fangs that curled over its lip, and a deep familiar sound that resonated within its throat. He gasped, shaking his head, and ran faster, hoping to escape the terrifying beast that was chasing him.

 But, he found himself slowing down as what sounded like a yell mixed with a scream erupted from the back of the cave, and he knew that it came from whatever was pursuing him. Every time he heard the creature’s cry, it somehow reminded him of a small, helpless boy; lonely, afraid, and in need of comfort. He didn’t know how to explain what he heard. It was almost like it was searching for something, or someone.

 He knew, however, that it was no mere child. He could hear the obvious masculine definition within the contours of the male’s vocal chords, vibrating out a large, exuberant roar that sounded centuries old. He continued his race to escape when he heard the flaps of concentrated ice closing in, and he could make out the silhouette of the beast at the far end of the cave flying towards him at excessive speeds.

  His breath came out in gasps, billows of mist spilling from his lips due to the drop in temperature upon entering the cave. Sweat gathered along his forehead when enormous spiritual pressure pushed against him and berated his body, slowing him down. The source came from behind him but he did not dare look back, afraid that if he caught even a glimpse of the monster, he’d freeze in shock and drop to the ground from the overwhelming reiatsu that threatened to suffocate him.

 It was becoming harder to run at a fast pace, and he could hear the monster getting closer. He looked around warily for a way to escape, and his eyes locked on a small hole leading into the wall. Without a second thought, he leaped into the hole, and watched as a blur whipped by him, disappearing down the end of the hallway that he was just running on.

  He inhaled deeply, coughing roughly as he tried to refill the oxygen back into his lungs. He didn’t think or care that his follower could hear him and head back in this direction, all that mattered was that he was safe for the time being. He looked around and noticed that the hole dragged on, leaving a thin walkway through the wall that lead to another path. He slowly got to his knees and crawled down the narrow trail, hoping and praying that he could make it back to the entrance so he could warn the Gotei 13, the leaders of Seireitei, about the rising menace that was a danger to the people in the afterlife.

XxXx

Earlier that evening, when he had been patrolling the outskirts of Seireitei, he had come across a rather intriguing sight. He had wandered off into the woods just outside the walls that protected Soul Society, and the trees opened up to reveal an uncommon mark of someone’s presence. It was a massive cave, drilled deep into the side of a snowy-peaked mountain. The entrance was about twice as tall as him, large enough to fit a hollow, but not a Menos Grande. But, what had caught his eye wasn’t how strange the occurrence of a cave in the middle of a thick forest was, but instead what was piled in a large mound that blocked him from accessing this cave.

Flowers.

Billions of ice-coated lilies layered every opening, every crack, not allowing anyone to even get a glimpse of what was inside. They had a natural beauty and it astonished him of the craftsmanship of each individual flower, which made them look like polished glass. They sparkled with dew in the hot sun, but the frost didn’t melt from the petals like you would assume. Ice flowers spawning in the middle of summer was unorthodox, and it puzzled him how they could grow in the agonizing heat. He wondered how they had appeared in front of a cave entrance of all places.

 Did someone create them?

 He reached down and gently stroked one of the petals, jerking his hand back when a sharp pain suddenly dug into his fingertips. He held his hand and peered down at it to see the fingers that had touched the flower had drowned in a dark purple. Cold seeped through his hand and he hissed in pain, realizing that he had gotten frostbite. He glared at the flower, quickly stepping away and analyzing the situation, before suddenly coming up with an idea.

Approaching the cave, he used his other hand to reach down and clasp around a hilt that was attached to his belt. His thumb pressed against the guard and a silver blade protruded out of the sheath, revealing to be a thin katana about two inches thick. He grabbed the hilt with his good hand and raised it above him, before bringing it down and slicing through several lilies. The sword went right through them, shattering the flowers like glass beneath his blade. He noticed, to his concern, that the bottom of his blade had frost lining it, and he could feel the rigid cold sinking into his precious katana. He ignored this hazard and continued his pattern of hacking and slashing until there was a big enough opening for him to crawl through.

 Being cautious as to not touch any more of the ice-coated lilies, he slipped inside, landing softly on the cave floor. He stared in awe as he noticed icicles hung from the ceiling, dangerously hovering over him. He began to walk deeper into the mouth of the cave, watching for any signs of life.

He didn’t notice the flowers resurrecting themselves besides their brethren, re-growing all their beautiful glory, spreading out and blocking the sunlight from entering the cave. They stacked on top of one another until everything was sealed, not even a speck of light could shine through. He didn’t realize later what this truly meant.

...He was trapped.

XxXx

  He finally reached the end of the hidden trail, and he nervously peeked around the corner to see if there were any signs of the possible hollow. He hadn’t heard anything from it since it passed him earlier, and he was worried that it was hiding within the shadows, waiting for the perfect moment to strike. Claws and teeth flashed in his mind along with the menacing glare of the beast, causing him to flinch and cower against the wall.

  He was going to go mad if he didn’t get out of here soon.

  He looked up and his eyes widened in disbelief as he recognized the dazzling display of crystalline flowers. It was pitch black, but he could make out the outline of each individual frost-coated lily. There was no way he could mistake them. He scrambled out of the hole quickly, skidding across the frozen floor, narrowly avoiding a collision with his face on the floor, before he made it to the front entrance.

  A smile of relief spread across his lips and he gave a silent prayer of gratitude to whatever higher being had helped him through this. He searched around for the hole he had made earlier, and he noticed, to his horror, that it had disappeared. A bead of sweat trickled down the side of his face, and he gulped, quickly shaking his head in dismay.

  Calm down, he thought. The hollow probably sealed it back up once you entered.

  Taking a quick look behind him to make sure that the beast wasn’t hovering above him, preparing to give the finishing blow, he quickly unsheathed his zanpakuto and struck the closest lily, increasing his pace as paranoia set in, where he swore he could feel the hollow’s hot breath on his neck. Sweat poured down his face as he continued this pattern of splitting the flowers in half, until he could feel the exhaustion bearing down on his shoulders, forcing him to stop.

  He looked up and felt his heart stop in his chest at the sight he saw.

  There was no hole, not even a hint of his hard work.

  He felt his lips start to tremble, tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. He sliced through a lily, watching it crack and shatter to the ground into a pile of dust. He focused closely on the dust as it dissolved into the ground, adding to the sleet of slippery ice. His eyes locked on a bud that sprouted from the tip of another lily petal, and he jumped back as two more bloomed in its place, covering up the spot where he had previously destroyed the ice flower.

  Realization sunk in and he cried out in fear, falling to his knees with his sword, still trying to hack away the flowers so he could escape. Tears threatened to spill but he refused to show his weakness despite the hopelessness that he currently felt at the moment. The flowers kept growing back every time he killed one with the sharp side of his sword, but yet he refused to give up. He had to get out of here.

  Fatigue finally took its toll and he nearly collapsed after he cut through what seemed like the thousandth lily. His zanpakuto laid halfway imbedded within a flower and he found himself not having the strength to remove it. He could barely lift his head to see if he had caused any damage, but he already knew that nothing had changed. He was still trapped. He was still with a raging beast that wanted to furiously murder him. He was still going to die.

  A sudden jerk on his sword got him to raise his head and his eyes nearly bugged out of their sockets when he saw buds forming along the side of his blade. He gasped and let go of his zanpakuto just as they bloomed and quickly covered and consumed his blade, dragging it into the mass of flowers. He watched in incredulity as part of his soul disappeared underneath the weight of the flowers, until he couldn’t even feel his zanpakuto’s presence.

  His hand was still outstretched, as if already missing the one thing that marked him as a Shinigami.

  He screamed at the ceiling, raising his hands to pull madly at his hair. He ripped out black chunks and threw them effortlessly to the ground, shaking his head back and forth while sobs threatened to consume him.  He pounded the floor in frustration, forgetting about the one thing that was still in there with him. He never realized, until it was too late, at how acute a predator’s hearing is.

  He heard a low rumbling from above and suddenly the ceiling caved in, followed by a shadowy figure landing beneath the rubble. He stared up in horror at the icicles clanging above his head, threatening to crack and fall to claim his life. He didn’t notice a figure rising from the rubble until the terrifying roar sounded, and before he had a chance to think, claws had already enclosed around his neck and slammed him against the wall. The creature’s nails dug into his throat and started to strangle him, causing the man to sputter and gasp as he fought for air.

  He placed both hands on the arm of the monster and weakly attempted to push him away, hoping with the slightest chance that he could get at least a breath of air into his lungs. He felt his hands burn when a sudden cold sunk into his skin, and he noticed that the creature’s left arm was encased in ice all the way up to his dagger-like fingers that resembled claws. His eyes wandered down to the rest of his body and he noticed through the darkness that his feet were also covered in the crystal substance.

  A low growl escaped the monster’s lips when his eyes started wandering up his body to catch a glimpse of his face, and he felt himself suddenly being thrown in the opposite direction before he smashed into the wall. He felt his arm snap along with his ribs cracking from the impact and he cried out in agony at the pain.

  Clutching half of his body, he looked up to see teal eyes glaring down at him, inches away from his face. He shrieked but it choked in his throat as the savage reached forward and grabbed him again by the throat and thrust him against the wall, causing an indent to shatter part of the cavern wall. The shinigami spat out blood from the force, nearly knocking him out, but he looked up and his eyes slowly widened as he got a clear view of who he was facing.

  It wasn’t a hollow, he realized. Instead, just as he had imagined, it was a boy. No, wait. It was a man. He could see the sharp refines of his face along with the barely noticeable bristles above his chin and mouth. Little tiny white hairs that resembled facial hair that contrasted against his slightly tan skin. He noticed also, that his hair was the same color, a bright, snowy white, matted with what seemed like dirt and a faded shade of… burgundy?

  Blood.

  He yelped once he realized what it was and started to squirm against the man’s grip, but it only tightened upon moving, and he felt claws digging into his wind pipe. The man leaned closer, his hot breath fanning over his prey’s face, a snarl prominent on his features. Large, sea-green eyes bore into his head, glowing with such intensity that it nearly blinded him. There was no sign of a pupil, or even an iris for that matter.

There was only emptiness.

 The whites of his eyes seemed to have consumed the details that hid within his powerful orbs, mystifyingly changing them into a brilliant shade of aquamarine. He couldn’t identify who it was due to the changes, or maybe it was just too dark to recognize them. There’s also the possibility that he’s having a mental breakdown, causing him to hyperventilate beneath the male’s gaze. Well, he knew that he was going to die, so that could be another case.

His thought processing came to a halt when he suddenly felt like a snake was constricting around his neck, causing the breath to hitch in his throat, turning his lips a deep blue. He felt himself being pushed higher against the wall, his back scraping painfully on the jagged surface. He opened an eye to peer down at the opposing male, watching as a sinister smile split across his face. The demon raised its right hand, flashing a familiar weapon that gleamed against the icy surfaces around them.

A zanpakuto.

There, lodged in-between a Chinese dragon’s jaw, was a sword almost as exact as his; a beautiful, elegant, tall katana about the same length as its master. The dragon seemed to be a part of his right arm, its mouth opening to reveal sharp daggers that clung onto the hilt of the blade. The dragon had small scarlet eyes that seemed to stare straight at him, its glare just as menacing as its owner’s. It seemed to have an overwhelming aura, and soon he felt himself struggling underneath the weight of the heavy spiritual pressure coming off the man.

He stiffened when he felt the cool edge of a blade press against his neck, threatening to slit his throat if he dared move. Large wings lifted into the air behind the unearthly man, resembling ice-sculptured masterpieces that stunned the shinigami until he was breathless. A tail swiveled across the floor, coated in the same substance as his arms, and if he looked closely, he could see icicles sticking out through the tip. Large chunks of ice hung from his shoulders, almost giving him the look that he was suffering from the weight, yet he seemed so agile.

He was in the presence of a ferocious ice god.

The white-haired man erupted in another earsplitting roar, shaking the cavern walls and rattling the icicles hanging above their heads. He could feel the grip tighten on the hilt of the sword against his neck and he screamed, tightly shutting his eyes as he awaited the never ending pain of having his throat sliced open. He thought he could feel the blade digging into his skin, but he was shocked to see when he opened his eyes that the beast had halted in his movements, eyes staring intently at him.

No, not at him, through him.

The god was looking at him as though he were a ghost, and it was only him in this cave. His eyes widened when the savage male’s blinding orbs suddenly filled with tears, slipping down his cheeks in streams while he continued to stare at him. His fangs bit into his bottom lip, and he saw drops of blood drip to the floor. A sob wrecked the winged-man’s body, and he released his hold on the captive’s neck, allowing him to fall to the ground in a quiet moan. The icy male curled his fingers against his face and cried into his hands, backing away from the shinigami. The prisoner watched as he walked away, shaking his head back and forth, mumbling something under his breath.

What the hell?

A second ago he was inches away from death, and now he was experiencing a traumatizing event. Somehow he triggered something within the man, causing him to explode and break down in tears. He didn’t know what he did, but boy, was he grateful. He tried to stand up but his ribs decided then to scratch against his side and he howled in agony, quickly falling back to the floor. He looked up as he noticed that the celestial being had removed his hands from his face, and was now revealing tear streaks scoring down his face.

“Hinamori…”A deep voice echoed out of his throat, but it didn’t seem like it could possibly come from him. It sounded centuries old, like a wise elder, mixed with the raw emotions that were prominent on the man’s face.  He called out the woman’s name again, this time adding anguish and misery to his tone, along with a need that was relevant within his voice. His clawed hands clutched his head, threading through his thick white hair while his eyes shut tightly, squeezing tears out of the corners of his eyes.

“I’m so sorry, Hinamori. I never meant… I never meant to hurt you…”

He screamed into the air, his tears spiking into crystal droplets before hitting the ground in a loud shatter. Wind gathered up around him and his wings lifted high into the air, a cold swiftness swirling throughout the cave, coating the walls with frost. The ground shook from his screams and his spiritual pressure created fissures in the ground below them. The black-haired man gasped, scooting closer to the wall in fear of being swallowed up into the earth below him, but that was the least of his worries. 

  The beast turned towards him, his expression phlegmatic despite the coursing tears along his face. A second ago he was a few feet away from him, before he disappeared in a flash and reappeared in front of him, sword raised and opposed to strike. He tried to move but his ribs cried out in protest.

He began to shake.

He thought he'd make it out alive.

The creature twisted its zanpakuto, causing a mist of ice to swirl around it.

He thought he'd be able to save everyone from the terrifying menace that was a threat to all of Soul Society.

A rush of robes swiveled around the man, the familiarity so apparent that it stung the shinigami’s eyes to gaze upon the unique pattern of white and black.

He was wrong.

He had invaded a depressed, uncontrollable monster's home. One that was grieving for something he lost. One who wanted nothing in the world but the thing he wanted most.

Hinamori…

He looked up to see the sword raining down on him.

Blood erupted into the air, spurting across the walls and trailing up the rocky sides like wildfire. The sound of cutting flesh broke through the chilly atmosphere and a sword emerged from the bloody explosion, dripping with remnants of its kill. The sticky substance coated the man’s body from the victim’s collapsing to the floor, drowning in the never ending puddles of crimson.

The last thing he remembered was sea-green eyes, filled with nothing but pain and regret.


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Chapters
1. Prologue
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