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This article, Nurturing the Black Blade, is property of Seireitou.

A special add-in chapter...!

Meeting

The face of an orange-haired man clad in black expressed feelings of bubbling annoyance, staring at the silver-haired man standing in his way.

"I was asked by Rukia to meet her in the Soul Society... So I have no time for whatever business you have with me, old man." the orange-haired teenager stated.

This caused a chuckle to form in the silver-haired man, crossing his arms as he bore a rather amused expression. "That telegram was sent by me, Kurosaki Ichigo. I don't believe we've been properly introduced. My name is Seireitou." he answered.

Ichigo's brow furrowed. "And for what reason did you trick me into coming...?" he would cautiously ask, his hand reaching over to grasp the hilt of the Zanpakutō on his back.

"Don't bother. I've not come here to fight you. Even if I did, you wouldn't have stood a chance anyways. However, the reason I've summoned you here is solely to commence your real training." Seireitou explained.

"...Training...? You must be suffering from some kind of tumor, idiot. A stranger who lies about his identity and then offers to train me, that looks extremely suspicious! Am I supposed to just go along with that?" the orange-haired teen retorted.

Seireitou closed his eyes for a brief moment. "It isn't an offer, it's a demand."

With that, Ichigo's expression calmed down slightly, his anger replaced with a look of surprise and confusion.

"The fact is, you play a role in the conflicts that are to pass that can't be overlooked. But as you are now, you're just a weak shitstain." Seireitou began making his way toward Ichigo, whom in turn appeared disgruntled by the silver-haired man's words. "The power you possess... or rather, the potential within you, is something too great to be allowed to be squandered. Urahara Kisuke succeeded in awakening only a small part of that strength, but I'm here now to help you fully realize the power you possess. Don't make me force you to come with me..." Seireitou added.

Ichigo narrowed his gaze, his eyes slightly twitching as he finally closed them, breathing in and then out. Opening his eyes, he stood tall and faced Seireitou... but remained silent.

"You have... people you want to protect, right?" asked Seireitou, causing Ichigo's eyes to widen slightly.

"If you lack the correct form of power to do so... what good are you to them? You owe it to them... to realize your true powers." the silver-haired man expressed.

"...Fine... I will go with you and train." Ichigo finally admitted, albeit in an almost defeated tone of voice.

"Excellent!" answered Seireitou joyously, something that quickly and comically surprised Ichigo, as the silver-haired man approached him, grabbing hold of his shoulder.

Almost instantaneously, with nothing more than an echo of force to signify their departure, the duo vanished...

The Power of Zangetsu

Within a split-second, the two of them arrived in a barren wasteland, far away from the grassy knolls where Ichigo could see the sekki-seki castle known as Seireitei; where he had just stood not even a second before this change of scenery. Though, the transition felt... weird. The moment he had realized Seireitou touched him, his vision was quickly blinded by what appeared to be a river of various colors; some he knew and some he hadn't ever laid eyes upon before. It has seemed as though they were swimming in this river of colors, but before he comprehended such a thing, they had arrived in their destination. A strange feeling indeed... It was no flash step that the silver-haired man had just used to bring them to their location. It was more like... teleportation than anything else.

"Where... are we? I've never seen this place in Soul Society before..." Ichigo noted.

"That's because we're not in Soul Society, but rather on its outskirts entirely. This is a place that has been untouched by the Shinigami for the past two thousand years... and will serve as a perfect location for the training you will be undergoing." Seireitou explained. "But first..." He continued, sitting down on a rock formation. "Get comfortable, I have some things to talk to you about regarding your Zanpakutō."

In response, Ichigo nodded softly and took a seat down at one of the rocks, facing the silver-haired man.

"Have you ever wondered why you, a human with not even a fifth of a decade of actual training, has been able to contend with Shinigami whom have been training for centuries?" Seireitou asked, drawing a blank from Ichigo.

"It's because... each and every fight you had, was whilst using your Bankai. Tensa Zangetsu. Consider each of the fights you've had up until now. Byakuya Kuchiki. Grimmjow Jaegerjaquez. Ulquiorra Cifer. Gin Ichimaru. Sōsuke Aizen. And the Vandenreich Quincy. Each of these fights were only possible for you to contend in because of your Bankai."

"There is a reason... why Byakuya called your Bankai a fake back then." Seireitou continued.

~

"...Impossible. Only the strongest of Shinigami can use Bankai. It is the ultimate technique of a Zanpakutō. Even the four noble families, whose members are always exceptionally talented, have only a member capable of Bankai every few generations. Those who achieve Bankai always have remarkable roles in the history of Soul Society. That is the significance of Bankai. But... what about him?! He became a Shinigami by draining Rukia's power. Why then... does he speak of Bankai with such ease... Why... does he emit such immense spiritual pressure? The strength of which is almost at the level of..."

Upon looking at the transformation Ichigo had taken, clad in a ankle-length black robe and wielding a black daitō, Byakuya's surprised expression turned into one of annoyance.

"What is... that thing? That small... object... is his Bankai...? Isn't that just... the normal sealed form of your Zanpakutō? I see... With the execution and that Bankai, it seems that you... really enjoy stepping on our pride. Very well then... I shall carve onto your body, the penalty for violating our pride!" Byakuya roared, the storm of blade fragments that exist as Senbonzakura's Bankai, began to tower over his being and crashed down on Ichigo's location, like a massive tsunami crashing into the coast.

But, despite that... the orange-haired teenager had disappeared long before the blades struck the location of their intended target.

Ichigo reappeared in front of Byakuya's person, the tip of his black blade aimed for the Captain's neck. A look of shock resonated in Byakuya's face.

"In an instant... I lost sight of him. How... could this be?!"

With a jump backwards, Ichigo distanced himself, returning to his stance as Byakuya's eyes narrowed back into their cold composure.

"Why... did you move your blade away from my neck? Was it to show your confidence? Arrogance... is often the undoing of a would-be victor. I will say it once more. That thing you are holding... can not possibly be a Bankai. It is impossible for something so small to be Bankai, and... it is impossible... for a mere ryoka to achieve Bankai. You will regret not slicing my throat open when you had the chance. Miracles only happen once. Don't count on another opening, brat!" the Captain declared, preparing for yet another exchange.

~

"Byakuya Kuchiki had called it impossible for such a Bankai to exist. Why? Because, in all the records of Soul Society, every single Bankai produced always resulted in some form of large-scale effect. Even Bankai such as Tōshirō Hitsugaya's Daiguren Hyōrinmaru and Shigekuni Yamamoto's Zanka no Tachi, while they appear to be condensed versions of their Shikai, they also bear the power of affecting their surroundings in some significant way, such as altering the weather or causing an intense heat wave. But Tensa Zangetsu does not do such a thing. It is unheard of for a Bankai to act like this. But you see... It is because of Tensa Zangetsu's unusual nature that has allowed you to contend with the Captains and opponents whom wield similar strength." Seireitou continued with his explanation, prompting Ichigo to pay closer attention.

"How can I better explain this... Let me start with a simple broad remark. In the world of the spiritual, energy exists primarily in three states or phases. There is reiryoku, reiatsu, and reishi. Reiryoku is the internal energy all beings possess. Human martial artists refer to it as chi, the "life force". It is the source of power for all Shinigami, and fuels the majority of their abilities; Kidō being the prime example. Reiatsu, or "spiritual pressure", is the force that living beings emit from their center. Because energy is always in motion, there is a significant balance between reiatsu and reiryoku in Shinigami. Hollows... and Arrancar especially, battle primarily by way of utilizing reiatsu. Their hierro defense, Cero, Bala... all of their techniques rely on the compression of reiatsu in some way and then releasing it appropriately. And last but not least, there is reishi. You've taken science in high school, I presume, so you know what matter is, right? In the human world, matter is composed of atoms, or "kishi". However, the matter of the spirit world is composed of reishi. Quincy battle by collecting reishi and forming structures out of it, such as bows and arrows, to engage in combat with. That's the gist anyways..."

Seireitou then pointed at Ichigo. "Your Bankai operates in a manner similar to that of Arrancar. It compresses your spiritual pressure to the point that your physical attributes are augmented explosively, allowing for hyper-speed combat. In other words, I would call it a Zanpakutō that perfectly embodies the fighting style employed by Arrancar. Getsuga Tenshō... Haven't you ever noticed how similar it is to a Cero?"

Ichigo's eyes widened slightly, remembering a similar event where someone mentioned such a thing...

~

"Your Getsuga... is very similar to the Cero we Espada use." Ulquiorra had stated, after completely crushing the energy strike Ichigo used.

"Cero...? Don't ever associate me with such nonsense!" Ichigo's hollowfied voice had roared in protest.

Ulquiorra pointed his finger at Ichigo, forming a black ball of condensed energy. "Cero... Oscuras." Suddenly, the ball erupted into a dense beam of spiritual energy, exploding into the masked Ichigo, causing massive destruction...

~

"Yeah... Ulquiorra said something like that too, but I thought it was just bull." Ichigo remarked, causing Seireitou to nod slightly.

"Just as the Hollows were able to find a way to contend with the Captains and other Shinigami by evolving into Arrancar... Tensa Zangetsu allows you to fight against opponents whom your normal skills would be insufficient in comparison. That's why... the first part of your training, will be to enhance your innate abilities... through the four fields of Shinigami combat." Seireitou confirmed.

Training, Part I: The Way of Shinigami

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