It was a good day. The sun was high in the sky, there was a gentle breeze blowing and there where birds chirping in the background. It didn't half make you feel relaxed. Yet in this peaceful backdrop two individuals who bore the title Kensei stood with their eyes meet; a contest of wills resultant of that one motion.
"Ino told me this wasn't a good idea," one of the men said.
He wore a comfortable sleeveless black kosode with matching hakama, with a light blue ōbi tied loosely at his waist. From it hung a daishō combination; this was his Zanpakutō which was the newly christened Raijin. His right hand rested lazily on the katana while the thumb of his left hand was looped through his ōbi.
"I'm starting to agree with her, Kenji." Another man said, though younger..
This young man was Shinrei Hiroshi. His wounds where mostly healed though he still had some minor trouble from time to time. His body was still a mass of white bandages. He was only here to watch but judging by the weight of a mere stare from these two men, he should really have been somewhere else.
"I'm sure Kiyoko would had agreed with you there Kenji. But we can't stop for the sake of our wives you know." The last of the present men said.
The man's attire was completely different from the others before him, seeing that it was a long red cloak accented with various straps and pockets and black clothing underneath. From the looks of it, he did not possess a Zanpakutō at all. His hands were casually in his pockets while he kicked the dust off the ground with his black boots.
"True enough," Kenji replied as he cracked his neck muscles. "So... are you ready? For old times sake and all. I still owe you for back then, after all.."
Did the air just get heavier? "I could've swore it did." Shinrei thought. "What type of demons am I looking at here, who can affect their surroundings so much with nothing but a stare!?" It was maddening when you thought about it. "People think I know the depths of Kenji's abilities; what he's truly capable of. I don't. I've never seen him like this... So that begs the question: What is this Kei Yume capable of?"
"I don't know about you, but I've been ready since that time in Switzerland and Australia." Kei replied, who grinned in anticipation. "Believe me pal, you owe me so much for the things I do for you." He finished with a snickering smile. An aura permeated throughout his body, a so-called miasma that could only be seen by those who had a similar strength.
Kenji laughed loudly in response!
"Now that was a bad day for me." Kenji said through a string of laughter, though he still managed to exude his own miasma in response; to Kei it would appear like the one that had once surrounded Kenjiro only with an electrical visage.
"How can anything between these two be called friendly?" Shinrei thought. His mouth was agape with surprise and no one had even made a move yet! "They're going to destroy each other!"
"Back up, Shinrei... A lot. If you aren't a few kilometers away then I can't guarantee your safety."
Kei nodded at Kenji's words. "That seems to be the best course of action considering our presence. I wouldn't want you, Shinrei, to get caught in the crossfire. Besides, I'm sure you have good eyesight Shinrei; this entire landscape will be lit up." He finished with a wink.
Shinrei did as he was told and disappeared with an impressive Shunpo step which took him to rest atop a small hill a good ways-away from the soon-to-be-battlefield.
"Let's see what Kenji's gonna start off with." He was in a casual pose with his wakizashi drawn; his right hand resting upon the katana's hilt, which was still sheathed. "That's Form III." The youngster identified. "A sword form characterized by swift attacks and tight parries; the movements facilitated by feints and mis-direction." He'd seen it countless times before. "But what about Kei? I've never seen his opening stance before." It was only now dawning on Shinrei that he was about to bear witness to a battle between two Kensei!
Knowing that Shinrei was observing the two individuals before him, Kei slowly and nonchalantly turned his head to face the young man. Their eyes locked for a brief second, and Kei gave the young Shinigami a quick wink and smile.
"Beautiful day isn't it?" Kei simply stated. He made no clear indication of a move at all. "So good, that it feels like I entered My Own World of Serenity." Once Kei uttered those last few words, a short rumble occurred beneath them. But as fast it occurred, it disappeared.
If Kusaka where here he'd be mentioning something about either the bloodlist of the Kori or genuine excitement taking hold. At this particular moment, as a minor shockwave of power emanated from Kei, Kenji found himself grinning. It was like he had been hurled back into the days of his youth; back to the times when he and Kei and Van fought into the early hours of the morning.
"We may as well make this a recreation of that time, eh?" Kenji asked.
Kenji abandoned his defensive stance in favor of an offensive two-handed grip. His attacks would be coming thick and fast with plenty of oomph! He'd make sure of that because, as Kei would no doubt notice, Kenji's now yellow eyes showed that he had already partially Hollowfied. A recreation indeed. The time Kenji referred to was the time Kenji had lost control of his powers and went quite mad.
"Aye. The landscape around us will be devastated, the sky will turn black, trees will wither and die, and the ground beneath us will be torn asunder. It won't be a pretty sight," Kei retorted dryly. "I hope you have better control over yourself this time. Or I'll be the one that will subdue you once again." He finished, looking straight into Kenji's yellow eyes.
"Only time will tell," Kenji replied.
He wasted no more time. The current Head of the Shiba clan burst forth like a bullet shot from a gun! Raijin trailed behind him wreathed in electricity of the brightest blue. He brought his slash the whole way 'round his body for added momentum; the smile was splitting his face.
With a blink of an eye, Kei side-stepped to the left, and raised his hands forward and miraculously caught Kenji's blade just between the cusps of his gloved hands. As that took place, the writhing electricity that outlined and trailed behind Rajin surged forward and enveloped Kei. However, he neither flinched or grimaced from the ensuing pain. Instead, he smiled. A devilish smile some would say.
"Only time will tell? Ha. I think now is the time my friend," Kei commented, heaving Raijin and Kenji to the side with a heavy throw. Before Kenji could recover, Kei materialized a blood red blade in his left hand, and with a slashing motion, pale white energy was discharged at his friend's direction. Yume no Kantsuuha!!
"You're surprisingly open, Kei." Kenji goaded.
He took his left hand away from Raijin's hilt and struck out towards Kei's red-as-blood sword before the energy was fully discharged. Form VII: Konshiki was one of Kenji's greatest skills: an absolute defense when nothing else worked. Because of it he emerged no more scathed from his friends attack than Kei had from Kenji's.
"Not bad, not bad." Kenji admitted. The force had parted both of them and now Kenji stood expectantly.
"I admit, that was on purpose Kenji; I wanted you to attack me. How else can we start this duel?" Kei replied, but not before turning his back to his old Friend, his cloak flowing gracefully with the wind. In the blink of the eye, Kei disappeared, leaving behind a faint image of himself.
"Or will this be the way we proceed with our match?" Kei uttered, appearing high above Kenji's head, his sword stretched out for a striking blow. No longer was Kei smiling. His face was emotionless, his brow furrowed deep in concentration.
Kenji dropped the talk.
He slashed upwards with a parrying blow. He skidded to the side on a flow of reishi and then sprang into the air, this time switching to a reverse-grip mid-stride. He spun as he descended and came down upon Kei after the latter had collided with the floor, fully intending to cut down through his friend from shoulder to hip!
"Gone all silent on me eh?" Kei managed to hastily say, realizing that Kenji was on a collision course to cut him down. However, Kei wasn't done yet. He brought his blade upward, intent on absorbing Kenji's blow. He also brought his free hand up, and a mirror copy of Kei's sword suddenly materialized.
Kei was able to parry Kenji's strike just in time with the crisscross formation of his blade, but not before absorbing a portion of the intended blow, sending him a few inches backward. The Tenshigami looked up at Kenji and smiled. "Oi! Intending to kill me? Only one person is allowed to do that and she ain't here!" He said with a loud voice, as if he was boasting.
The Tenshigami then proceeded to discard his right blade and readied himself into a stance. Kei held the blade horizontally above his head and it was pointed to the side. His body was notably half-twisted as if he was waiting for Kenji to strike.
From afar Shinrei watched with an inquisitive eye and a keenness for detail that came naturally to him. Maybe that was why his father insisted on taking him along to watch these matches? To learn and grow? He returned to the battle. "Did Kei notice?" He asked himself. "I guess time will tell."
Kenji couldn't resist. "Did he notice I wonder?"
He snapped his fingers and a series of light explosions -- nothing damaging but hopefully distracting -- engulfed the length of Kei's Zanpakutō; the work of Kenji's Kidō, which had been planted upon their initial contact. Once performed he committed himself to the offense but as always Kenji made sure to leave himself some form of retreat. With precautions took he swept in gracefully and drew both katana and wakizashi, aiming to cut low at Kei's legs.
The light explosions immediately overloaded Kei's visual senses, causing him to grunt a sound of annoyance and move take a step back in an attempt to regain his bearings. But knowing Kenji, he would not have much time to regain his posture, much less return to the offensive for the time being.
Kei dropped his weapon on the ground and clapped his two hands together soon after. With the clap, Kei activated the thousands of spiritual molecules he released in the environment before he and Kenji started their duel. Upon activation the latent spiritual particles acted as a sort beacon to his senses by ticking, much like echolocation was for nocturnal creatures such as bats. Each tick went off a dozen times per second, providing an enhanced field of vision for the duration through illumination in the central cortex of brain. In this sense, Kei was able to visualize Kenji. And right now, he saw that Kenji was aiming for his legs..
Although Kei was blinded, he tried his best to dodge Kenji's strike. Whereas many opponents would attempt to move back or sideways, Kei did something else. He jumped up in an attempt to escape Kenji's offensive sweep, all the while trying to return the favor by countering with a quick kick aimed at his friend's face.
Kenji sent Raijin sliding along the ground the moment he saw Kei jump. He had spent thousands of hours in training sessions with his brother Rosuto in order to hone what was once a passable Hakuda display built upon what Anika Shihōin taught him. As a result he was now quite skilled in the unarmed practice.
"Here it comes." Shinrei noted, continuing his inner monlouge.
"Have I missed much?" Kentaro Hiroshi asked.
"Naw, you're just in time." Shinrei replied.
Kenji brought his arms up defensively in an X-shape. Kei's kick moved Kenji onto his back and the momentum that had originally been used to cut low at Kei's legs now carried Kenji along the ground, where he then grabbed his Zanpakutō. He wasted no time. Before Kei had even touched the ground Kenji turned and slashed the air. An unnamed Jitsugen tore up the ground before abruptly rising, it's target an airborne Kei!
Kei arched his body backward in an effort to avoid whatever Kenji sent right at him, barely missing the inferred attack by an inch. As this happened, Kei swung his blade at Kenji emptily, an energy wave erupting from his false "Zanpakuto".
Kei also clenched his free hand into a fist and it immediately glowed bright whitish blue. The Tenshigami then brought his hand forward, a quick flash emanating from the ball of energy Kei created. Two doppelgangers appeared besides Kei, each of them looking at the Tenshigami before them. Kei gave a slight nod and they returned it in kind. Just then, the two doppelgangers disappeared and reappeared at Kenji's side, ready to slash at the unaware Shinigami.
Kenji merely smiled before, with an abrupt burst of lightning-aided acceleration, disappeared completely from view; the only indication he had moved at all where the subtle vibrations on the air and the sound of his voice, which came from above Kei and his doppelgangers.
"Why, Kei, if I didn't know any better I'd think you where trying to trap me."
He then cleaned a trickle of blood from his cheek and shrugged his shoulders as if to say "come on, I was a fraction too slow". The reaction made Kentaro and Shinrei roll their eyes. It was perfectly in Kenji's character -- especially when facing old friends and rivals -- to maintain a jovial attitude.
But Kentaro then shook his head in an irritated fashion. "Why didn't he use Blut Vene?"
"I think that's enough of a warm up, don't you?" Kenji asked, sounding suddenly serious.
"Kenji, my old friend. I think you may have forgotten. I do love my traps. The Engelhaft Gewitter were a testament to that love. And they didn't take kindly to the trickery that had befallen them." Kei replied with a snicker. The Tenshigami raised his false "Zanpakuto" and pointed at his decades long friend.
"A warm up? I could hardly call it that. It was more like me waking up from my afternoon nap. HAAHAHAHA" Kei said to Kenji, his mouth widened with glee. Even though it sounded more like Kei was laughing at his own joke.
Unhesitatingly, Kei snapped back to attention and immediately turned his gaze to Kentaro and Shinrei. "Shinrei and Kentaro. Be prepared to be in awe. Because I am going to beat Old Man Kenji into submission, much like how I did years and years ago." He finished, saying it just loud enough for his friend to hear.
"I should thank you for that." Kenji said with a grin. "It was you going wild over in the Seireitei that allowed me to move unseen and mop up a pain in my ass."
Kenji descended so he was facing Kei and his clones. He silently drew his wakizashi and held the hilt of his primary katana parallel to his head and the wakizashi held out before him at a forty-five degree angle. His stance was typical of a Form III approach, specifically tailored to multiple opponents.
"I'm ready for my lesson now... Sensei."
Kenji vanished and reappeared in the blink of an eye with both blades at the ready. He sliced through one clone before swiftly turning on the balls of his right foot so he was facing the real Kei; all the while a cheeky little smile was plastered across his face.