|Height||183 cm (6'1")|
|Weight||83 kg (169 lbs)|
World of the Living
|Previous Affiliation||Soul Society|
|Occupation||Vocalist of Sphere|
|Previous Occupation||Founding Captain of the 7th Division|
Hiromasa Ishikawa (宏昌石川 "Large Bright Stone River") Is the founding Captain of the Seventh Division. Having shaped it with the desire to make something he might call a family of his own, a thing that he never had during his own childhood. While he treated all of his subordinates with a warmth seldom witnessed from a commanding officer of his position, Hiromasa was not a particularly good leader. Eventually, Hiromasa's desire for freedom proved too great and he left his division after a few centuries of service. He did so in a manner most unorthodox, he handed in a note to be delivered to the Captain-Commander an hour after his departure, and then he simply went ahead and left. Never saying any formal goodbyes and not bothering to talk about it to his squad mates, evidently, despite being praised for his kindness among his peers, he could certainly be found lacking in terms of common courtesy.
Prior to becoming one of the founding Captains of the Gotei 13, Hiromasa had been a travelling swordsman working not for the highest bidder, but for whomever he found worthy of his services. During the tumultuous times before Soul Society was formed, this often ensured the survival of whomever he rendered his services to and with his help they could often get quite far, far enough to make the difference they sought. Hiromasa's sword skills were exemplary even back then, being one of the first individuals to awaken what is now referred to as a Bankai. Throughout the years that talent would only increase. Until it reached the point where he ironically never required to unsheathe his blade to fight to uphold his own honor.
Although he left Soul Society behind, Hiromasa became highly invested in the human world and has come to own many strange establishments across the millennia, ranging from taverns, schools and gambling parlors and other places where the free and inhibited might come to enjoy one another's company. Currently however, Hiromasa is the lead vocalist for the extremely popular human world band known as Sphere, why he chose to do this is anyone's guess but few might realize that he does what he does simply because he finds the simplicity of most humans to be so charming and refreshing. He found them so fascinating in fact, that he often intentionally let them witness his true abilities, curious as to their reaction. The humans, incapable of comprehending the power of a Shinigami, much less one of his potential attributed his powers to a divine lineage and subsequently began worshipping him as a deity of wind.
Thus, Hiromasa has been known by a great many names, and in many different mythologies. In Japan he's known as Fūjin, in Greece as Aeolus and in China he's Fei Lian. He played the part of a god to the best of his abilities, he uses his powers to assist humans, keeping storms at bay and blowing away opposing armies and enemies. In time however, he came to realize that his worshippers wished to turn his powers towards warfare, to conquer and overwhelm their bitter enemies. Some of them also had the nasty habits of killing animals and executing enemies as a way to appease him somehow.. he found that quite alarming and refused to help them anymore. Hence most of them lost their favor with their "God".
Hiromasa is a man of a lithe build and tall frame, wiry and lean, yet posessing of a kind of hidden strength. His face is angular with white unkempt hair and a matching beard, giving across the image of someone who'd rather just do his own thing and not be bothered with the rest.
There's a confidence to his gait, yet also a sprightly spring to his step, as if he can't decide whether to act cool or elated. His movements are wild and unrestrained, as if he wants everyone to share his view on the matter at hand. Few are surprised to hear that in his youth, Hiromasa had difficulties remaining in one place for long, he'd pace around where he stood, trip about and just make himself abundantly clear in his impatience.
Although his habits have gotten better since then, there's always a certain tenseness whenever Ishikawa is forced to stand or sit for extended periods of time. He's a man of momentum, pure and simple. If he ever feels constrained or restricted in anyway, he, a man at over six feet is known to, for a lack of a better word.. sulk.
Slighter in frame than most swordsmen, Hiromasa has often had to prove his worth to challengers. Who expected a Zanjutsu Master of his caliber to be noticeably more bulky. Tales of his feats have regaled him as a twelve foot monstrosity, with bulging muscles and a glare that could kill a Menos out of raw primal fear, most of his opponents are quite dissapointed to find that these are tales are strongly exagerrated, at least where it pertains to his sheer size.
There's a grain of truth in these claims, Hiromasa does in fact possess a glare that can frighten children. Though whether or not it could do the same for Menos.. well, that depends on the Menos in question. Creatures born of fear though they may be, a few of them can be quite cowardly.
The Founding Captain of the 7th Division has little in common with his successors, that much is certain. Although he formed the division out of a desire to make a place where he could belong and call family, his refusal of his duties and unwillingness to do what was expected of him quickly put his division into a lot of trouble. Therefore, throughout most of his tenure as a Captain, the day-to-day proceedings were handled pretty much exclusively by his Lieutenant, while this went well, his relationship with his division suffered as a result, as while he was very popular on a personal level with his squadmates and treated them kindly, his division was often made to make up for his slack while he roamed Soul Society for some reason or another.
Any attempt at reasoning with him about this was met with a short nod and a "of course" or a fake promise about improving as a Captain. He never took any of these promises seriously, refusing to be bound down by anything or anyone, Hiromasa goes where the wind blows, and that's what he's always done - attempts at keeping him in place have always been made in vain. In fact, in most cases, it hastens his departure. With most finding him gone the very next day.
There's little in point in denying it, but things like promises, responsibilities and trust mean very little to Hiromasa. It's not that he's spiteful, cruel or uncaring, no, his kindnesss and warmth is indeed genuine despite what others might believe. He simply doesn't take words as seriously as he should, promises are a flexible thing, and although he might agree wholeheartedly to a promise at one time, he's prone to either attempt to renegotiate the terms afterwards or break his word completely. He's a flighty person, who does whatever (and whoever) he fancies at the time, a decision can be changed at a split second and his opinion is never set in stone. If they want to keep their sanity, most of his friends learn to never depend upon Ishikawa.
While these traits tend to put others off, there's a great warmth to him, the kind of charisma that draws others in and makes them feel understood. Whoever they are, wherever they are and yes, whatever they've done, Hiromasa opens up to them like a long lost friend. There's a great deal of sincerity within him, he's earnest to the point that he can't be trusted, but honest to the point that they feel they have to. Hiromasa considers nobody a stranger, and words flow freely from his mouth without issue, if there's a single thing that the founder of the 7th Division has always been capable of, it's keeping a secret. That's the only vow he'll never break, as he considers it far more personal than everything else.
But his kindness isn't merely restricted to his allies, it's also frequently extended to his enemies with a hearty smile. A man of peace, Hiromasa believes the taking of a life to be a great personal failure - even if doing so was absolutely neccessary for the sake of himself or someone else. This personal rule has been with him since his earliest days, and it's unknown what caused it's emergence, but it was evidently so strong that he sometimes had difficulties purifying Hollows. Although some might consider that a weakness and a flaw of character, Hiromasa considers respecting life to be the greatest strength of all and happily accepts their scorn with his head raised high. Confident that he's done the right thing. While enemies he has spared or let go sometimes kill innocents as a result, this strangely doesn't seem to impact Hiromasa much - relinquishing his responsibility over any given foe the moment his fight with them ceases. Attempts to pin blame on him are met with a smile and a nod, something that has infuriated both allies and enemies alike in the past.
Few things are capable of breaking Hiromasa's seemingly endless amount of composure, if a friend is in need he assists them as best he can but wastes no time arguing with their foe, and he fights to incapacitate not kill. Others might fly off the handle at such an incident, but it never seems to have much of an effect on him, revenge is a concept entirely foreign to Ishikawa. A man who has spent a long time travelling and experiences the pleasures of all worlds, Hiromasa's experiences have left him particularly hard to surprise or impress. Even some of the most advanced techniques or abilities fail at raising even a single eyebrow in contemplation, as he politely informs them that he's seen it all before.
Following his habit of seemingly doing everything backwards is Hiromasa's great appreciation of the male form. Believing manhood to be the true ideal of beauty, Ishikawa is prone to flirt with handsome men he encounters in his travels, addressing them as he would a lover (-chan) and otherwise being quite open about his interest in them. This ideal of beauty has lead to some situations where Hiromasa has simply put refused to engage particularly good-looking men in combat out of his own unique brand of chivalry. Mirroring how some men utterly refuse to fight a woman, needless to say, these fortunate guys rarely appreciate the gesture, and tend to become offended as a result. Something which Ishikawa has always considered quite strange.
His views on women stand in stark contrast to how he views men, as while he has nothing against them per se he finds it extremely difficult to tell most of them apart. And the female officers of his division often had to introduce themselves to him once a week in order to keep him updated, if a woman manages to catch his interest to the extent that he learns and remembers her name, it's proof that she's made a great impression on him. At any rate, he has no compunctions whatsoever about fighting women, and would do so graciously and respectfully, as if facing any other equal.
Powers & Abilities
- "A finer master of Zanjutsu has not yet been born, child. Ishikawa-taichō is a monster who's beaten all of his challengers without even having to kill one of them.. that's why he's known as Hiromasa of the Gentle Blade."
- —The Founding Lieutenant of the Seventh Division about Hiromasa.
Divine Spiritual Power: Reiryoku is the lifeblood of all manners of spirit, from the lowliest plus to the greatest Shinigami Captain. Although there's always existed immense differences between the amount afforded to any individual, one constant has remained all the same, reiryoku was something finite and material, something that could be weighed, measured and gauged provided one had the sufficient skill. And although certain beings possessed reiryoku of such transcendent nature that lesser beings could not sense it, they too merely required an equal for their spiritual energy to be sensed once more. Hiromasa's spiritual energy is wholly different from most, to the extent that it cannot truly be described as such anymore - unlike other beings at his level of power his energy can be sensed by all, even ordinary humans that are not spiritually aware. This was how he was found during his stay in the human world, and why he's had to employ special Gigai in order to not affect the world overmuch. Just as like how it does feel like reiryoku, it likewise has none of the effects on the environment, there's not even a single speck of reiatsu to exert for Hiromasa, and it's effects on the human world does not seem to cause others around him to spontaneously develop powers of their own. No, the greatest reason for why he's chosen to keep it hidden is not for their sake, but for his own, given how he was in the past never left alone for even a passing moment. With superstitious farmers imploring him for aid or raising shrines in his name wherever he went, being worshipped by unenlightened rabble proved too much of a burden for even his ego to bear.
Those who sense his energy are usually unable to pinpoint it's source for it seems to exist everywhere around them at once, almost like if the very air itself was part of his spiritual power. Not even Ishikawa or Murakaze are aware of just how much energy he has at his disposition, as it's virtually boundless and thus beyond either of their ability to gauge. For that reason, Hiromasa no longer knows the limit of his own power, and thus far he's never once run out of energy or gotten exhausted. Although he lacks the ability to exert reiatsu, his energy can manifest as extremely powerful gusts of wind at will, typically surrounding the man within a raging current of his own making and forcing others to remain at bay, the wind pressure from this is released as a continuous stream, and as such only the fewest and most foolhardy of individuals might be able to eventually overcome it in order to reach Hiromasa himself. With but a thought he can increase the force of this wind or redirect it in order to clear away thunderclouds, weather-affecting techniques or the like.
Kidō Expert: Ishikawa's skills within the art of magic is limited entirely to non-combat spells -- as he lacks the aptitude for the way of destruction, or more specifically, he simply has no need of it whatsoever. Within his given element, Hiromasa is capable of mustering more power than the greatest of destructive spells many times over, but there's one function which magic serves to someone like him, and that is out-of-battle utility. Following this idea, Ishikawa is an expert within barriers and the way of binding as a whole, being capable of casting most of it's spells without incantation. He admits to being mostly uninterested in the artform, remarking on how it took him centuries of on-and-off practice to get to the measly point he's now.
- Intermediate Kidō Knowledge: While he might not be much of a spell slinger himself, Hiromasa is nonetheless keenly aware of the powers of magic, and possesses an at least basic understanding of most disciplines. This extends to an impressive amount of knowledge on the subject of Bounded Fields, the Way of Change and even includes knowledge of forbidden spells such as the Geas, Jikanteishi and Kukanten'i spells. How someone as thoroughly lacking in interest as Hiromasa managed to get ahold of such information is anyone's guess, but it's rumored that he grew up in a household where magic was particularly widespread. His knowledge far enough that he can often give a detailed account of how to counteract certain spells, along with some more general weaknesses of Kido. Anyone who underestimates this kind of knowledge had best do so at their own risk.
Throughout the ages, many monks and people of faith have sought to comprehend themselves, to attain enlightenment and achieve what is called a personal Nirvana. Their methods have been many, but their attempts always resulted in failure, however, there is one style, both of combat and of existence which comes close to attaining this coveted state. This would be the discipline of Zanjutsu, whose practitioners dedicate their lives to that of their inner spirit, seeks to converse with it, learn from it and derive power from that bond they share. By learning to know the spirit that dwells within ones Zanpakutō, Hiromasa believes that he could one day learn to find himself. Murakaze has consistently proven himself a flighty man to understand however, much like Hiromasa himself and it took many centuries before the former 7th Division Captain found out how to analyze his speech patterns in such a way as to glean meaningful information and knowledge from him.
Every bit of knowledge Murakaze offered he offered only after Hiromasa had proven himself worthy, but the raw strength he gained from every achievement was nothing short of groundbreaking. For every advancement brought cause for celebration as he overwhelmed and defeated opponents who had previously caused him great trouble, such is the power of Murakaze. Entranced by the power of his Zanpakutō and filled with pride that this kind of power could be discovered within him, a man who had never truly warranted the Balancers interest, Hiromasa was charmed into following the path of the blade exclusively.
Whereas others might spend years in the state of Jinzen, Ishikawa spent several centuries with nothing but his surroundings and latent spiritual energy to keep him in it's stasis. In this manner, he has learned how to accept every piece of Murakaze as himself, and realizes better than most how they are functionally the same, although he readily admits to the differences between a wielder and their Zanpakutō. If the Shinigami is what everyone sees, then the spirit often represents what they fear confronting or the insecurities which they've kept buried up until that point. By confronting his fears and accepting them by having Murakaze function as a mirror, Hiromasa was capable of comprehending his true nature, and with that, achieve true mastery within the art of Zanjutsu.
Today, there's no true difference between him and Murakaze, they are one and the same and thus the Zanpakutō's ability to manipulate air has bled over into Hiromasa himself, granting him great power and prowess in combat. The bond has also bestowed upon him a great number of additional boons directly connected to the potential of Murakaze. These boons include powerful innate abilities along with techniques entirely unique to Hiromasa. Because of these additional boons, Ishikawa no longer has even the slightest need of other skills in the Zankensoki, and he's capable of holding his own against some of the strongest opponents imaginable, all without ever releasing his Zanpakutō. According to himself, Hiromasa has never truly practiced basic sword techniques, but due to his intimate bond with Murakaze there has in truth never been a need to. With absurd ease, Hiromasa perfectly executes even the most advanced Kenjutsu techniques, without ever having learned how or why. For as long as he remains physically close to his Zanpakutō, he knows instinctively how to move his blade to parry, deflect, attack or retaliate. This guidance only grows stronger the higher the skill of his opposition, with Hiromasa explaining that his skill within the art of Kenjutsu is just as advanced as it needs to be at any one time.
- General Swordsmanship Prowess: The art of Swordsmanship is often considered more limitation than power by most, for what use might it be in the face of spectacular powers and magic. Its true that they way of the blade might seem restrictive, but after so many years, and so close a bond to Murakaze, Hiromasa has come to realize that these shortcomings weren't set in stone, and could be overcome with sufficient training, as he did. It was thought that a sword could only strike once for each swing of its blade, that was why some might prefer to wield two. But this wasn't true in the end, as Hiromasa is capable of producing dozens of simultaneous attack converging upon the opponent from mutually exclusive directions. This makes it immensely difficult to block his attack, for even if one manages to block his actual blade, they opponent is struck by numerous converging slashes produced from the empty air.
- Contrary to what many would believe, this is not a technique, but a result of his transcendent skill with the blade alone, whose extraordinary ability bypasses the natural laws of the world. When combined with Ishikawa's fifth boon, Fūjin this allows him to strike at any range imaginable and counter mighty techniques with simply his own sheathed blade. Sometimes, Hiromasa likens himself and his blade to a tool of direction, explaining that although he might wield a katana, it is the very sky, air and breath that forms his real weapon. In the face of such fantastical ability, the use of mere techniques seems almost vulgar to his eyes, and while his foes brandish their named techniques, shout at the heavens and approach him with the intent to take away his title, he merely offers them a glance of utter boredom, often emphasized by rolling his eyes in exasperation.
- If faced in combat with his swordsmanship alone, Hiromasa wields his Zanpakutō like a hurricane, with his movements and attacks being so fast and so skillful so as to leave little room for an opening. It is a form of perfection afforded to him by his training under the great Satō Shingen. From the speed of his blade alone, and the force of his swings, whirlwinds gather about him and his foe, knocking up debris in their path as he engages his foe with an unstoppable onslaught of attacks. Those caught off-guard are invariably swept off their feet and remain suspended above the ground as the Zanjutsu Grandmaster saps away at their strength with Osafune, well-knowing that the only reason they still live is his inherent resentment of killing. Attempts at deceiving him with feints and distractions are subpar at best, utterly damning at their worst, for with the sixth sense afforded to him by the Boon of Fūjin, such matters are inherently disadvantageous. Oftentimes, he is so disappointed by this tactic that he pretends to be deceived only to utilize his boon to strike at a vital area in order to end the battle then and there.
- Among swordsmen, its often a point of contention in what they can or cannot cut -- cutting through steel is a point of pride for many budding Zanjutsu trainees; and Captains are often capable of cutting through massive structures with the force of their attacks as well. As one trained by the very founder of Zanjutsu, Hiromasa does not disappoint in this regard either, although his talents extend far further - for someone of Ishikawa's skill might cut into actual concepts and abstract matters. Including dispersing an incoming spell or technique by striking at the core of its existence, to even use his blade to open Garganta to other planes of existence entirely, by cutting away at the foundation which makes up the worlds. Although these portals only last for a short time, as the planes struggle to correct the gap.
- Concepts like range or distance matter naught to someone such as Hiromasa, and neither provides an obstacle. Not even sight has any bearing on his accuracy, for with Fuujin he is always aware of their presence. The extent of his skill is such that he's been known to incapacitate troublemakers in the taverns he frequents in Soul Society, without standing up or turning to face them; all this without requiring to even be in the same room as them. Avoidance of his attacks therefore seem a decidedly unlikely gambit.
Wonders of the Blade
Among the most dedicated followers of Zanjutsu, the pursuit of the twelve techniques known collectively as the Wonders of the Blade is one many aspire towards. In truth, Hiromasa was no different -- and he spent many years chasing shadows before he managed to make them his, but in the end it was not his determination, it was his bond with Murakaze that unlocked their potential. For the Wonders cannot be taught, sure, a practitioner might explain the basics but without an open heart, mind and body it's functionally impossible to employ the Wonders of the Blade.
In fact, as Ishikawa himself explains it, the very nature of the Wonders transcends simple swordsmanship, common sense and indeed, the very foundation which the discipline is built upon. Therefore, the greater ones skill within Kenjutsu, and the greater ones investment within the art itself, the more unlikely it is for someone to master the twelve wonders. This is why one might consider Zanjutsu and Kenjutsu to be two opposing paths, although Hiromasa considers the former infinitely superior in most regards.
Regardless, Hiromasa is perhaps most well known for being able to utilize all known Wonders of the Blade, and exceedingly rare phenomenon thus far only achieved by himself, cementing his status as a Grandmaster of Zanjutsu. According to him, most advanced specialists within this field have only ever gotten around to learning how to use six or seven of them, that Ishikawa has managed learn all twelve of them is easily the greatest testimony to his skill, and the true reason he's held in such high regard among other users of Zanjutsu.
Kiku-Ichimonji (菊一文字, "Sanguine Blossom"): The Wonder known as Kiku-Ichimonji is perhaps one of the most coveted of all techniques among swordsmen, for it allows the Zanjutsu Specialist to turn the tables on users of magic, who frequently overwhelm swordsmen beneath a certain level of skill. Even so, it's an ability that only a small amount of swordsmen learn in their lifetimes, and even fewer manage to master it to it's true extent. As the Zanjutsu Master's bond with their inner spirit nears completion the true potency of this Wonder becomes apparent. For while they have until then been forced to utilize it in close combat, enlightenment is eventually reached and the swordsman reaches a glorious epiphany.
The truth is this, while a Zanpakutō is a sword, it is not the only sword Kiku-Ichimonji might be channeled through, as the Zanpakutō represents the Shinigami himself it could be said that their entire spirit might be wielded as a sword. As one of the first individuals to have reached this pinnacle, Hiromasa is capable of applying Kiku-Ichimonji to any attack or technique he utilizes born out of his bond with Murakaze. From a basic point of view, this allows him to reach through wards and defenses in order to touch an opponent that covers beneath, on a more impressive scale however it allows him to apply the qualities of Kiku-Ichimonji to his wind elemental techniques, such as creating blasts of wind that ignores any obstacle to reach their foe.
This can be applied to all of his techniques, although the drain in energy levels is quite intense, but manageable due to the sheer amount he has at his disposal. Regardless, prolonged usage will eventually tire him. By that point however, most challengers lie beaten and humiliated, as they're unable to deal with Murakaze's powers in conjunction with those of Kiku-Ichimonji.
Effect on Murakaze's Spears: As the purest and most true expression of sword, the spears manifested by Murakaze are permanently enhanced by the effect of Kiku-Ichimonji. Unlike the actual Wonder itself though, their effect is self-sustaining and requires no energy whatsoever to support it's existence. Although the effect might be briefly negated under the right circumstances, it resumes effect almost immediately afterwards, making it possible to delay it's effect, but not deal with it permanently. It's a power as constant as the five Boons of Murakaze in this regard. While the basic effect of Kiku-Ichimonji is undoubtedly powerful, these spears possess an even more fearsome version - for not even physical obstructions can cease their pursuit, and they slip past things like walls, parries and shields just as easily as any mystical barrier. For all intents and purposes, they're almost completely unblockable, whether it be by physical or arcane means.
Osafune (備前長船, "Verse of Oblivion"): The origin of Hiromasa's epithet as Hiromasa of the Gentle Blade, Osafune is a Wonder that replaces physical damage with spiritual damage, wounding the subjects spirit and reservoir of energy as opposed to their body. His absolute favorite among the wonders, and by all means the technique he has the greatest degree of mastery in, Hiromasa is not restricted to utilizing it only with a blade -- just like how he is not limited in his use of Kiku-Ichimonji. With strict ease and with no visual changes whatsoever, Ishikawa can imbue any attacks he makes, whether they be physical or elemental in nature with Osafune in order to ensure that his attacks remain non-lethal. This also has the advantage of completely bypassing any sort of regeneration or self-healing, as there's virtually no enemies who're capable of restoring their own spiritual energy mid-combat.
His mastery is also brought about by his kindness and strong compunction towards killing even the most vicious of criminals. This is the reason why he's never been forced to kill even a single one of his challengers, as Osafune is incapable of killing by accident -- as no matter how much energy it drains, it does so in set portions depending on the area hit. But due to Hiromasa's restraint always leaves at least the bare minimum necessary for the target to survive.. even so, the victim is often effectively removed from the world for months at a time as when used by Hiromasa, it puts the target into a deep coma as opposed to killing them. This coma typically lasts about a month, but has no lasting impact on spiritual creatures. In the most extreme cases it's been known to incapacitate individuals for the better part of an entire year. Making it a terrifying thing despite it's inability to kill.
Due to his exceptional skill with this particular wonder, and it's great connection with his personality and way of life, Osafune may be kept active indefinitely and without any sort of strain to his reserves whatsoever, and on the start of every fight it's active by default. For Hiromasa to fight without the use of Osafune is an extremely rare occurrence, and given how laid back and forgiving he is, it seems almost impossible for him to go to such lengths. Although many believe this weakens his prowess in combat, he's found it to be quite on the contrary in fact -- as even a glancing blow from his attacks are known to affect his adversary in truly profound ways, to a far greater degree than any shallow cut or scrape would.
Effect on Murakaze's Spears: Just like his other mastered Wonders, Osafune has an immense effect on the spears manifested through Murakaze. While other attacks might sap an opponents energy quite significantly through Osafune, the sheer punishment delivered through these spears is nothing short of brutal and depends partly on the strength of his opposition, but mainly on his own strength and the extent through which they make contact. An opponent with low control over his spiritual energy might be immediately felled by a single glancing blow from any of these spears, whereas exceptional combatants refer back to the minimum amount possible, which is set at about one tenth of their total level of energy per strike. Therefore, if an opponent ever suffered ten scratches from these spears over the cause of a fight, their defeat is certain -- the spears present such an overwhelming threat that many individuals simply forget to handle the immense elemental power at Hiromasa's command. This says nothing of what happens if they're careless enough to suffer a direct hit, which is known to defeat even opponents of peerless skill in a single hit.
Murasame (村雨, "Rain of Wisdom"): A blade is something to be used as a weapon, that's a truth few could ever dispute -- other than true practitioners of Zanjutsu that is. Murasame defies this very notion and allows a specialist to wield their Zanpakutō as a tool of healing, rather than warfare. As a man largely unwilling to commit what he deems to be the atrocity of murder, Murasame resonated strongly with him even as a young man. It represents his desire to negate any accidental deaths by healing the injuries of his enemies, bringing them back from the edge of death if necessary -- and to undo the harm that befalls those hurt because of his unwillingness to kill. Even in it's base form, Murasame is capable of wondrous feats of healing, rivalling even dedicated healing spells in it's potency, but when used by someone like Hiromasa, it's scope increases to the point that it's hardly recognizable from it's base incarnation.
Like with all the other Wonders, Murasame directly affects everything Ishikawa does in profound ways as when the technique is active all of his attacks, whatever their nature heal whomever they touch an amount relative to the amount of damage they'd otherwise had done. But this beyond merely healing physical injuries, as the touch of Murasame is known to purify the bodies of those it touches, cleansing them of a multitude of different ailments such as poisoning, sickness and lesser curses and enchantments. In this manner the Zanjutsu Grandmaster is capable of restoring a large amount of people to perfect health and rescue his subordinates, friends and indeed, even enemies from the clutches of death.
This phenomenon is denoted as the white wind, and the name is fitting for it does indeed manifest like silver-colored wind, being visible to the naked eye due to this peculiar characteristic. Although it's not intended for combat in the common sense, it does have it's uses, like healing superficial injuries on his adversary so that they might fight with their all for an extended amount of time, to even use it for the purposes of self-healing. This is done by focusing the white wind inwards rather than outwards, drawing upon the essence of all air around him -- despite it's uses, this is by no means a true form of regeneration and while it is indeed capable of restoring lost limbs, it cannot do so the middle of combat. It's primary use is to extend a fight, in either parts favor. He might also utilize it as a way to ensure that particularly good-looking challengers don't have their appearance marred.
Effect on Murakaze's Spears: Murasame's effect on the spears that represent his Zanpakutō's true form follows the established convention of being a highly empowered version of it's standard form. While the changes in regards to the spears are not quite as widespread as that of the other Wonders, the scope of their empowerment is perhaps the greatest yet -- for while Murasame ordinarily allows him to change the nature of his techniques from wounding to healing, Murakaze takes it even further once it's power is channeled through the very spears that exist as the literal expression of Hiromasa. By piercing a subject with any of these spears, they will quickly find their wounds healed and any ailments cleansed from their spirit. This extends even to very powerful effects, including most intermediate curses -- although it's unable to do anything against a Geas. Perhaps it's most extraordinary power though is resurrection, by piercing a corpse with one of these spears while Murasame courses through it, Hiromasa is capable of undoing death. Although such a feat can only be done a matter of days after the subjects demise, and requires a sizeable portion of their body to function.
Boons of Murakaze
Boons of Murakaze: The very proof of his highly advanced state within the art of Zanjutsu, the Boons of Murakaze are all born out of the bond he has with his Zanpakuto. While this is hardly anything special among Shinigami, what truly sets the boons apart from standard techniques and abilities is not only the fact that they're permanent qualities, but also because they're fundamental changes to his very spiritual body. Each boon represents a step towards the full realization of his inner self, a milestone on his path to achieve his personal Nirvana.
Unlike the techniques he gradually awakened through bonding with Murakaze, the Boons took centuries of continuous Jinzen to attain - as they represent not that he's accepted Murakaze's teachings. Instead, the boons represent how the two of them are gradually turning into the same individual. For this reason, Murakaze grows more and more restless and uncooperative, fearing the inevitable day where the two of them perfectly merge into one and both Murakaze and Hiromasa cease to exist, being replaced instead by what can only be described as their Perfect Self.
Soratate (空盾, "Sky Shield"): The first of the Boons that Ishikawa unlocked, Soratate is quite simple yet extremely powerful in how it affects the Shinigami himself, for when he achieved this boon - the very air around him came to regard him as being someone of importance. The very air seeks to ensure his survival, like a guardian it cradles him with protective currents of air and keeps opponents at bay by offering him a permanent layer of protection.
This form of protection manifests as an invisible force field that surrounds his body completely, being formed of compressed wind currents mere inches above his skin. Attacks made against him never truly connect, being instead blocked by an transparent wall of rapidly revolving wind. Although most wrongfully assume that this is connected to his levels of Reiatsu, the truth is that this effect even persists if he's knocked unconscious - it's believed that nothing short of death can fully prevent Soratate. Due to it's effect being entirely natural in scope, the wind barrier emanates not even a single iota of reishi, and consequently operates on a level beyond contemporary spiritual control or Kidō. As a consequence, it's commonly only discovered after opponents consistently find that their attacks don't do nearly as much damage as they should.
Despite it's enormous efficiency as a defensive tool, and the fact that it constantly reforms and repairs itself after sustaining damage, the Soratate is by no means impenetrable. In fact, for opponents of similar levels of strength to Hiromasa, it's remarkably easy to destroy. And each time it is destroyed he's left vulnerable for a little while, at which point every attack deals full damage.
When utilized in conjunction with Murakaze's Shikai state, the amount of damage it can absorb increases greatly, to the point that even equals might have trouble inflicting significant injuries. It's form also expands into a perfect sphere that encompasses Hiromasa entirely, preventing anyone from getting close enough to attack him in melee. Were it to be utilized during Murakaze Tengekidō it would make the founding 7th Division Captain practically invincible - as well as allowing him complete control over the barrier, to the extent that he could use it to shield others as well as himself. He might for instance extend the range of it to the extent that it can cover a small city, all without losing even a drop of defensive power - allowing him to isolate civilians from battle altogether with little issue, provided he did the unthinkable and unleashed his bankai, that is.
Hikūki (否空気, "No Atmosphere") The second ability unlocked in Hiromasa's expeditions within his own inner world, Hikūki is something of an extension of Soratate, although unique in and of itself. Like it's predecessor, it's entirely defensive in nature, but unlike Soratate, it's protection is always active and cannot be bypassed in any way whatsoever. At least not in any manner known thus far, Expanding on how the very air seems to consider Hiromasa an ally and friend to be protected, Hikūki takes that to the greatest degree, in the sense that neither air nor wind permits itself to do harm unto him. Tornadoes heading in his direction phase harmlessly through him, their tearing winds miraculously refusing to even touch him, air-elemental attacks unleashed by others discorporate and split apart just before connecting. All this occurs without him needing to be aware or conscious of the attack, the very concept of air immediately recognizes him and fades away harmlessly.
However, this protection isn't merely limited to typical spells of air - it also applies, albeit to a lesser extent to any element or power which has a component of air to it. Lightning being a common example, and while lightning will strike and wound Hiromasa, it'll do so in a decidedly half-hearted manner. In fact, whenever the element of lightning is wielded against him, the natural advantage of wind over lightning further decreases it's power to about one fourth of it's true potential, making it very difficult to defeat him through this element. In most cases, it's weakened enough for Soratate to absorb the remaining damage without any issue at all. Beyond his immunity to Air and high resistance against lightning - Ishikawa is also resistant towards the element of ice, as ice is deeply intertwined with the element of air. Being what one might call a composite of air and water, due to his ability to strip ice of it's secondary components through his dominance of air, Ice is another element which is rendered weaker through Hikūki.
However, for all it's strengths, this boon did not come cheaply. For while it granted him great power, it also introduced two powerful elemental weaknesses - those being Earth and Fire. The former has an enhanced effect whenever it strikes Hiromasa, with his spiritual body reacting strongly to the element, usually for no discernible reason. It's almost as if it's very existence harms him. Even worse than the element of earth is that of Fire, and when faced with particularly powerful wielders of that element, Hiromasa is often forced to go to great lengths to emerge victorious. For the mere presence of fire close to Hiromasa increases the potency of the flames greatly, as his very spirit surrenders to them and fans them into a raging inferno before they even make contact. Direct hits cause him to be immediately immolated, and forced to quell the fires within moments or risk being incinerated then and there.
Tengen (天拳, "Heaven's Fist"): Throughout the realms, air is constant and ever present, it's power is undeniable and it's presence an absolute neccessity. Hiromasa's third Boon, Tengen, embodies the concept of air as the greatest strength of all - and bestows upon Ishikawa that very same power. Just as he has never truly swung a blade for the purpose of practicing Kenjutsu, Hiromasa never put much stock in enhancing his own physical strength, always believing it to be more than adequate for whatever task he might face. However, there are countless threats in the world which could not be conquered by mere will alone, and thus Tengen exists to fill the void left in Hiromasa's training. The Boon itself grants him the strength of the heavens themselves, in a metaphorical sense - it allows him to strike as the heavens do. This bestows upon him a conceptual level of strength which mirrors that of the element with which he is so closely entwined.
Whenever Hiromasa is somewhere there's air, he's imbued with truly tremendous strength, with every strike he lands connecting with the force of a wild hurricane, and with every roundhouse kick akin to a raging tornado. Against a man like that, forged into a veritable force of nature through his bond with Murakaze, few opponents dare stand - and if they do, they stand briefly. With ease, he's capable of lifting massive structures hundreds of times larger than himself - even if it should be impossible to do so. The simple explanation is that whatever he touches is treated as being as light as air, making it so that Hiromasa is essentially capable of lifting anything provided that he can get a good grip.
Consequently, this means that his strength rises and falls with the amount of air available around him. At his peak, it's practically infinite, and it's lowest low, it's pretty much non-existant. Clever opponents can find ways to abuse this possible weakness, assuming they can survive his attacks in the meantime. But in truth, even should they discover it, the consequences are rarely too dramatic - as he's never been one to rely on strength in the first place.
Kyokōtei (虚工程, "Void Step"): Although many Shinigami might choose to specialize, the one part of the Zankensoki that never gets neglected would be the art of Hoho. On the battlefield, speed is often a decisive factor in avoiding lethal blows or surprising ones opposition, for this reason the art of Shunpo is one few could ever afford to deny, for what use is raw skill if you're unable to properly strike your foe? With these things in mind, it's not at all strange that Hiromasa was perhaps most ridiculed for his lack of speed at first, haven given his all to advance the powers of Murakaze. He'd always turn up late, and while he was a force to be reckoned with when he fought opponents slow enough for him to fight at his own pace, those foes were few and far between. Long he sought Murkaze's guidance on the matter, wanting to know if he could ever learn a technique that might assist him in this venture. But Murakaze refused, and so Hiromasa spent the first three centuries of his career as a Balancer without any speed whatsoever, earning him the embarassing epithet of "The Crawling Swordsman".
But, rather fortunately for the young Shinigami, he eventually discovered the ability to merge with air to move short distances nigh-instantaneously. At first his use of this ability, an imperfect version of the fourth boon, was clumsy and fairly incompetent, and he found himself struggling to keep up with those who possessed even a modicum of skill within Shunpo. Even so, he at least could, where he had for three centuries been unable to. As he honed his bond with Murakaze, this talent gradually grew more and more powerful. Until he found it easy to keep up with experts, and eventually masters.
Currently, this ability is at it's absolute peak and Hiromasa therefore possesses the ability to merge with air at will to accomplish numerous purposes. These include making himself untargetable and incorporeal and assume direct control of powerful wind-elemental techniques by quite literally possessing then. Likewise, it confers upon him the ability of making himself completely invisible at will, or even conferring this sort of benefit to anyone and anything he touches. Unlike the spell Kyokko which has a similar effect, the presence of whomever is hidden can still be sensed, but it becomes almost impossible to pinpoint. This is because whenever someone reaches out to sense a target under this effect, they would find that their energy originates from everywhere at once - as though swallowed up by the air itself.
In spite of all these fantastical applications, Kyōkotei is still primarily utilized as a movement technique. The young man who clumsily attempted to make the best out of what he got is gone, replaced with an experienced Zanjutsu Grandmaster. There's few limitations to the Void Step at this time, as he's capable of instantly merging with the air around him and reappear at another location in the exact same distance, while never occupying the space between, as long as there's air to move to. There's only a single limit to this ability, at least in his unreleased state and that is that he can only move to places he can see - which at any time means that he instantly move to the edge of the horizon in a single step. However, he can continuously move with several steps, travelling from horizon to horizon until he reaches his destination. In this manner he's capable of easily outrunning most dedicated masters of movement techniques, only someone truly exceptional within the field could match his sheer mobility. Despite how it might appear, this isn't related to speed or physical effort at all, it's a form of teleportation using air as the medium.
Although it'd appear to have few weaknesses, it is completely reliant on the presence of air and line of sight. Making this fairly simple to deal with for a knowledgeable foe, to make up for it's inherent weaknesses however is the fact that it requires absolutely no effort whatsoever from Hiromasa, regardless of distance travelled. As to the element of air, all distance is relative and ultimately meaningless.
Fūjin (風塵, "Wordly Affairs"): The final and arguably the most powerful out of the five boons, Fūjin grants Ishikawa the awareness of a true Kami of Wind. At this point, he's transcended the realm of ordinary souls and become a lesser god. With this ascension comes Fūjin, an innate ability that allows Hiromasa to use the very air as an extension of his own senses - this grants him complete awareness of everything that the air touches in a massive radius around him. By merely concentrating he can conjure a perfect picture of any individual within this radius, immediately learning the most superficial qualities of their existence, such as their appearance, age, spiritual signature and as well as a rough draft on their level of power. This effect persists even if they attempt to mask their presence with magic or esoteric techniques, rendering spells and techniques like Kyokko wholly ineffective as even if his ordinary senses cannot pinpoint them, his sixth sense definitively can. Sneaking up on Hiromasa is therefore only possible if one does NOT move through air, such as moving through the earth or water, he also cannot sense someone surrounded by flames of high intensity.
Beyond it's uses out of combat, Fūjin also confers remarkably strong advantages while in combat, by shutting out everything but a few individuals from his senses, he can choose to intensely focus on those individuals in order to be able to read the air around them. This is an application of his power which makes him capable of reading their attacks by utilizing the air as a medium, thus he can predict their attacks with near infallible accuracy and retaliate with perfect timing nearly every time. Even some of the most advanced martial specialists in the world find their most powerful techniques easily defeated through the influence of Fūjin. Although it's extraordinarily powerful against other combatants, it carries with it the same restrictions as all of the other boons in that it's effects are weakened or even neutralized if there's a significant amount of earth or fire between him and his target.
However, perhaps it's most fearsome application is the fact that it enables Hiromasa to utilize his Void Step freely in combat, with him constantly being aware of an enemies location, he gains the ability to overcome the inherent weakness of the ability, which is coordination. In the past he had to pause briefly before attacking, as he was disoriented from the movement. Once Fūjin was achieved however, he could meld movement and attack together flawlessly, and each attack is therefore instant as a result, opponents find that their ability to dodge is entirely reflex-based, as attempting to outrun or evade his attacks are otherwise next to impossible - akin to a regular human attempting to evade lightning. Past opponents have commented that once Hiromasa gets even the slightest leeway he will continuously assault his target in a neverending stream of attacks like this until they're finally incapacitated.
Although it's mainly used for awareness of ones surroundings, it's equally effective at pinpointing attacks in the air, whether those be magical blasts, techniques or projectiles Ishikawa can instantly pinpoint their location and remains perfectly aware of their movements, making it so that he for all intents and purposes have no blind spots whatsoever.
Murakaze (叢 風, "Gathering Winds") : Is the Zanpakutō of Hiromasa, in it's sealed state it assumes the form of a regular katana. It's appearance is dull and forgettable, of exactly the precise length, and of the common color, it sports a common round tsuba and has a bluish gray wrapping. Hiromasa's sealed form can thus largely be described as nondescript, there's nothing remarkable about it, neither for good nor ill. That is, except for one thing, whenever it's drawn from it's sheath, the surroundings are put in motion as though grasped by a simple gust of wind, leaves flicker and dance, hair is drawn back and robes flutter in the breeze. It's as though the Zanpakutō is a physical manifestation of wind, the moment it's re-sheathed this effect quickly dissipates. Ishikawa explains that Murakaze is a no-nonsense kind of guy, and that his sealed state reflects that. Despite this, it's powers even in it's sealed state is nothing short of gargantuan, to the extent that Hiromasa often fights simple battles with the blade still meticulously sheathed. Which greatly weakens it's powers.
Even so, Murakaze's power is easily sufficient to keep up with most foes and might quickly overwhelm them at a moments notice. A gentle flick of his sheathed Zanpakutō being known to summon furious twisters, raging winds and blades of air all as he desires. A swing might conjure forth a gale so potent so as to upturn the very earth where it moves and hurl opponents far away from the Zanjutsu Grandmaster and breach most feeble attempts at standing against the forces of nature at Murakaze's command. Those who rise to challenge him are therefore almost never able to even reach him, as the moment he makes the slightest intent to defend himself his rival is picked up by fierce winds and deposited somewhere else, defeated but always miraculously uninjured.
As a testimony to Hiromasa's kindness and understanding of Murakaze, he's been known to consistently defeat his opponents in this manner, always without ever wounding them in the slightest. If his challenger is injured by him acting in self-defense, Ishikawa takes it as a great personal failure unless the individual was powerful enough to warrant a genuine use of force. Those who do warrant such a display however might get a taste of Murakaze's true powers. Should Ishikawa desire it, the sealed state of his Zanpakutō may split into two long spears, adorned with dragons along their shaft and evidently made out of the finest ivory. Although he might wield them as one would any other weapon, he rarely does so, instead that typically hover in mid-air and are more directed than actually wielded in combat.
While some might consider the spears to be a melee weapon with few applications, this is a grave fallacy that has cost many an opponent dearly. For each of the spears is a medium through which Murakaze might channel it's control over wind, A single spear might conjure forth raging tornadoes, cleave the sky in two to bring massive blades of wind down upon enemies below or fly forwards with such tremendous speed that even masters of the art of Hoho are known to have trouble outrunning them. Each time a spear strikes an enemy it does so with the force of a hurricane, disintegrating extremities and overwhelming even some of the most adamant of defenses in short order. The power of the elements cannot be stopped, even when consciously restrained in this manner. Should Hiromasa ever deign to wield one of Murakaze's spears for himself however, the result is immediate, and most foes soon learn just why he's hailed as one of the greatest masters of his field.
Shikai: For almost two thousand years, Hiromasa has been able to use Shikai -- and during this long span of time, his connection with Murakaze has grown to the point where they have achieved perfect symbiosis, for this very reason, the power of Murakaze's Shikai is virtually without equal, with it's power rivalling the likes of Zenka no Tachi even in it's base state. With such enormous powers at his command, Ishikawa hasn't used Bankai in over a thousand years, last time he used it being the first battle against Yhwach in which he participated.
Although it possesses a release command like any other, it's grown entirely obsolete over the past few centuries, as Hiromasa is capable of having it manifest or reseal itself with but a thought, to the extent that he can release it for just enough time to unleash a powerful Shikai-enhanced attack and then reseal it in the same motion. This lack of need for a command phrase has lead to him eventually forgetting it, like he does so much else. Curiously, Murakaze doesn't seem to care.
While releasing it quickly has it's uses, it bypasses most of the on release effects that Murakaze otherwise creates and leaves him without the true form of his Shikai, which assumes the form of six spears that manifest from six large twisters that come into being the moment he purposefully wills Murakaze to release into it's full Shikai. The very release of such an ancient and developed Zanpakutou is like an attack unto itself, for the clouds gather high above and the wind picks up in speed like a raging hurricane; the will of the heavens themselves can only bow in reverence to a Zanpakuto so pure, primal and proud as Murakaze. Even without Hiromasa expending even a biit of energy, his Shikai enacts profound change of it's own accord -- and a telltale sign of it's release is not simply the overwhelming amount of energy it emits, but also how the local area suddenly finds itself plagued by cyclones, tornadoes, twisters and other natural disasters.
Given the enormous destructive power of his Shikai, most opponents easily confuse it for a Bankai, and surely few could blame them for their mistake in so doing. While Murakaze's Shikai is most certainly tremendously powerful in both scope and effect, it doesn't even begin to compare to his Bankai, and his enemies, allies and any unfortunate bystanders should be grateful of that fact.
Shikai Special Ability: In it's most basic state, Murakaze relies on the spears summoned through it's release in order to greatly increase Hiromasa's offensive and defensive power, by allowing him the luxury of having the wind wield his spears in his place. Each spear is an extension of Murakaze, and of Hiromasa himself, through them he can freely channel any of the Wonders or other abiltiies at his command.
Yet even so, this is but the most basic expression of Murakaze's enormous power - and one that would've been thoroughly unimpressive on it's own. While they most commonly fulfill the role of simple weaponry, the true nature of the spears is quite different, as they're not intended to be used solely for physical combat - but to instead serve as tools to subjugate the very heavens themselves at Hiromasa's command.
Each spear has an established domain that extends several miles outwards in a circle from it's actual position - this effect is not limited by range, and theoretically, a spear placed would continue to affect it's surroundings even if Hiromasa was on the other side of the world. Furthermore, for the purposes of his Fuujin ability, these spears are always within sight, allowing him to move between them instantly. Through this, Hiromasa is capable of moving virtually anywhere within the world provided that he has left a spear somewhere.
For this reason, spears anchored to a location in this way persist even should Hiromasa reseal his Zanpakutou. It's believed that at least four spears are present elsewhere in the world at any time, ensuring that Ishikawa has plenty of opportunities for escape or relocation.
- Bankai: Murakaze Tengekidō (叢風天激動, lit. "Gathering Winds of Chaotic Heaven")
Bankai Special Ability: Even in his sealed state, the power of Murakaze strikes awe into friends and foes alike, with base power fit to equal most Bankai. That great might is tempered by Hiromasa's Will to restrict its full potential, even unleashing his Shikai is a matter that weighs heavily on the Zanjutsu Grandmaster. Few dare imagine then the power of his Bankai; and they would not be wrong to fear its potential, for they are not alone, Hiromasa counts himself among their number.
The elemental powers are fickle phenomena of limitless potential and might, the wind perhaps moreso than most, ever free, ever unrestrained in its strength. It goes where it pleases, and harms whomever gets in its way, that is the essence of the storm; no voice can calm or control it, not even that of Hiromasa, to attempt such is an excersise in futility.
Unlike most of the present day Zanpakuto, Murakaze's Bankai was personally named by no other than Ichibē Hyōsube himself. This made Murakaze Tengekidō the very idea of wind incarnate, it doesn't merely summon wind, it is Wind, it contains its truth and central ideas, thus, to unleash his Bankai would be to leave the world at the mercy of a force he couldn't possibly control, for the central tenet of air is freedom. Because of the potential catastrophe it represents, releasing Murakaze was an action forbidden on the pain of execution by the Central 46 during his time as one of the first Captains of the Gotei 13. In only the direst of circumstances is the release of Murakaze allowed, with most understanding that the act of doing so would unleash the four winds in full to wreak havoc as they wished, with their keeper at last relinquishing the grip he's had on them for millennia.