How pitiful. A King with everything to rule, yet nothing to conquer.
Vast dunes of sand stretched out across all that the eye could see. Distant winds signaled the coming of a raging storm.
"M-My lord," A bear like hollow began hesitantly. "The third expedition group has been wiped out."
"...Then why aren't you?"
Hollow eye sockets turned to regard the inferior creature making its presence known. Baraggan Louisenbairn was not amused. As a Vasto Lord of the highest calibur, none should be his equal, and all should know of his wrath. The failure of his subordinates, is a blight against he himself.
"I-I didn't fight. I-I was fortunate enough to not have followed to close to the others."
"So you failed and ran away?" The tone of Baraggan's voice was eerily calm.
Baraggan stood up from his throne of bone and stared off across at his boundless army, purple cloak billowing in the wind. Small tufts of the pitch-black tattered fur attached to the collar of his cloak , his neck area, and the fringes of his cloak swayed with every movement. He was the King of Hueco Mundo, the ruler of Las Noches, none would defy his rule.
The bear like hollow paled as Baraggan turned his empty skeletal gaze towards him.
"Let this be a lesson to all of you." Barragan said as he placed a gentle hand on the trembling bear hollow. "To bring failure upon my name, is a sin worthy of death."
Not even a single word could escape the mouth of the bear like hollow as he rapidly aged and died, rotting the very flesh from bone. Thus was the absolute power of Baraggan, the one able to govern time itself.
Slowly, Baraggan turned his gaze on a queer looking hollow, who's mandibles resembled that of an insect's, as its body resembled that of a crab.
"Who killed the third expedition group?" Baraggan asked, a sudden curiosity surfacing from within him.
The queer hollow took a moment to consider his answer. As a hollow specialized in hiding and gathering information, it very well knew the exact location of each expedition group and the general direction in which they were headed. It had sensors at the tip of each appendage able to differentiate between minute shifts in the sand, and thus was able to accurately follow any target. It just so happened that it had decided to follow the third expedition group.
"It's JuSt a RUmOur M'LoRd." The queer hollow began in its distorted voice. "BuT ThEre is WorD oF AnoThEr ruler iN The VAst DuNes oF HueCo MunDo."
The queer hollow had fully gained Baraggan's attention.
"...ThE VaSTo of WhItE, ThE LoNe King of THe HiGH SaNdS."
Lilynette Gingerbuck found herself once again staring in fascination at Shirou. He sat quietly watching over and protecting the hollows who resided in his domain. He was...her friend. A familiar feeling of euphoria welled up from within her whenever she thought about it. He was the one who changed her and Starrk's world. No longer were they alone. All around them was a plethora of hollows living in the area.
Speaking of Starrk, Lilynette shifted her gaze on the good for nothing hollow. He was sleeping-again...
Lilynette sighed, Starrk wasn't important right now. She had other matters to attend to.
"The hell ya want?" Lilynette asked with a huff.
"Do ya have a problem with me you midget?!" Apacci replied back.
"Weeell, there is your face to consider." Lilynette made for Starrk's sleeping form as Apacci took chase.
Shirou watched in amusement. The interactions between the hollows in which he looked after had changed ever since Harribel and her group had taken residence in the area. They lived in their own secluded spot in a cavern just barely within the range of his peripherals. Nothing changed much per say, but Lilynette didn't take to well to their foreign presence. He could suppose that it was in part due to him interacting less with her ever since Harribel and her group came. Then again, he didn't really hate having more people to talk to. Besides, something about the silent Harribel vaguely reminded him of a distant memory of a woman he used to know. It might have been the way in which she sat with her blond hair swaying with the wind, or the way her calm gaze seemed to hold some form of regality, he didn't know.
"Shirou," A beautiful smile brought a sense of joy and longing throughout his very being. "I am your blade, and you are my sheath. I... I-"
"Shirou?" Harribel turned her gaze to match Shirou's.
"Ah, sorry." Shirou apologized. "You were saying?"
Harribel looked quizzically at Shirou before the expression faded from view, her eyes narrowing.
"There's a hollow approaching."
True to Harribel's words, a hollow was fast approaching, kicking up a storm of dust in its wake.
"It has no blood lust." Shirou noted.
After a moment, Haribel's eyes widened in recognition.
"Shoot it!" Harribel urged. "You can't let it get any closer!"
"Why? It means no ha-"
"-To hell with it!" Mila Rose fired off a cero, the blast eliminating the approaching hollow. She glared at Shirou. "When Lady Harribel says to do something, you do it without question!"
"Hey, Stop yelling at Shirou!" Lilynette yelled from her postion riding on a fuming Apacci.
"Oh but out bitch! Why don't you take that over-sized deer and dig yourself some hole to hide under." Mila Rose retorted.
"Over sized deer!" Apacci stomped over to Mila Rose and butted heads. "Better than a hag like you!"
A thin brow twitched in annoyance, a finger beginning to steadily tap against the ground in impatience.
"Exactly, you're just a hag!" Lilynette followed up.
"I'll kill you bo-"
"-Oh shut up already!" Starrk rolled his head to the side to stare impassively at the silenced crowd before bringing an arm behind his head and dozing off once again.
"That's enough Apacci, Mila Rose." Harribel said. "This isn't the time for your petty quarrels."
Harribel glared at Shirou. It was true that she could have shot down the approaching hollow herself, but the distance had been too far for an accurate shot. It was indeed a stroke of luck when Mila Rose's cero hit, but by then it was already too late.
"You should have listened to me." Harribel said with a resigned huff. "Now it's too late."
"Too late?" Shirou asked confused.
"That was not a hollow that was approaching." Harribel explained. "It was an extension of a certain hollow that has an ability to break off into smaller parts. Namely, observatory parts that hone in on specific locations."
"It's Baraggan isn't it." Sung-Sun said after a moment. "It was how he discovered our last location, why we're always on the move."
"The bastard's at it again isn't he." Apacci muttered, her eyes narrowed. "Lady Harribel would never work for scum like him."
"What's going on?" Lilynette asked as she repeatedly poked Apacci. Apacci ignored her.
"Who's Baraggan?" Shirou asked.
"The God King of Hueco Mundo." Harribel said. "His power is...dangerous."
Harribel furrowed her brows in thought. She wasn't exactly sure as to the nature of Baraggan's power, but everything simply decayed in his presence. There was a reason he was called the God King; he has never known defeat. However, something was off with the way Baraggan had sent only a single scout to find her location. It was almost as if-!
"Basic reconnaissance." Harribel said.
"Basic reconnaissance?" Sung-Sun echoed Harribel.
"We're not Baraggan's targets, which means," Harribel slowly turned her gaze on Shirou. "You have gained the interest of a strong adversary. You were a fool not to have shot down the hollow earlier." Anger seemed to lace Harribel's tone. "This location has been compromised, Baraggan's army will be upon us in a matter of days."
"It doesn't matter." Shirou said resolutely. "So long as there are those that I must protect, I will not fall, nor will I break- for steel is my body."
Harribel fixed Shirou with a long stare, watching for any flickers in his resolve. There was none to be seen. Once again she was faced with the oddity that was The Vasto of White. No Gillians resided in his territory, all the regular hollows having evolved without feeding on each other. The Vasto of White ruled over a true haven where hollows could grow strong without violence or strife. Yet what does this say about the nature of Shirou, the Vasto who very well created a revolution within the confines of Hueco Mundo? He was...If push-came -to-shove, a Vasto with the same mind set as her; no, she didn't know Shirou well enough to verify. However, if there was one thing she knew, it would be a pity for him to die, and lets just say, she didn't exactly hate him either- idiot he was.
Harribel sighed, before facing Apacci, Mila Rose, and Sung-Sun. "I want you all to run when things get too dangerous." She said. "There's no guarantee that I will be able to help you should the time come."
"B-But lady Harribel," Sung-Sun stammered. "What about you?"
"I can fend for myself."
"But..." Apacci trailed off. She didn't particularly want to argue against Harribel- but damn it all, why was she so weak!
"...Uhm," Lilynette began, hand against her chin with her index finger pointed out. "What are we worrying about? Shirou's here, and if that's not enough Starrk's here."
MIla Rose rolled her eyes at Lilynette.
"Shirou I could understand, but that lazy ass over there?" Mila Rose launched a stray rock at Starrk who did little more than lie there. "You fool. What could he possibly do against Baraggan's power."
Lilynette stared back unflinchingly. "If it's Starrk, he could do it- he's strong."
"Say what you want ya brat, we'll see how useful he is on the battlefield." Apacci said. "That is if he's not sleeping at the time."
"..." Lilynette couldn't refute the statement, it was highly possible. Therefore, she would have to take matters into her own hands. She could be just as strong as Starrk if she tried...maybe. If all else fails, she would wake him up one way or another.
"Then let's begin preparation." Harribel said.
Shirou stood from his position and was suddenly taken aback by the sheer number of Adjuchas and regular hollows that appeared before him. They spanned several miles across, from large hollows that shook the ground with every step, to short hollows no larger than a man's fist, they stood on guard. It was the first time Shirou had truly realized the vastness of the hollows he had been protecting for... he couldn't remember. It was difficult to differentiate time in Hueco Mundo after all.
"Glory to our King! Glory to the Vasto of White, the Lone King of the High Sands!"
As the voices increased in magnitude, more and more hollows began appearing from beneath the sand and even from the very sky. Words could not describe their feelings of loyalty. They had all once been weak, stuck under the thumb of the strong, and yet they were given power, and a place to live without losing their sanity to cannibalism. The Vasto of White had been with them through thick and thin, protecting them from all danger. If their lives and effort would be of use to their King, they would gladly throw it away.
Shirou wasn't the only one who was taken aback by the seen. Harribel, Sung-Sun, Apacci, Mila Rose, Lilynette, and even Starrk were all taken aback; granted, Starrk had only opened a single eye, but the fact that he was awake was enough of a surprise.
A lone hollow from the crowd of hollows stepped out, his raven like features granting a form of prominence to his appearance. Dark wings spread from his back, his entire form covered in hollow exoskeleton.
"My King, let us aid you in this battle. To return the favour for all that you've done for us."
Shirou was conflicted, he didn't want to endanger their lives, yet to refuse was to stomp down on their resolve. He didn't particularly like being called a King either, but that was less important. Shirou couldn't refuse, therefore, there was only one thing he could do, he would protect them.
"Then I will accept your assistance, but on one condition. None of you are to die, flee if things become difficult. I'll cover your back should you be unable to."
Baraggan sat atop his thrown of bone a chalice gripped loosely in his hand.
The Vasto of White
Baraggan swished the contents of the chalice and placed it down on the gold platter to his right.
Baraggan surveyed his empty kingdom of Las Noches, his armies having left to snuff out the upstart Vasto. All that remained in his kingdom, were his attendants and he himself. Normally he would have sent out an invitation to the Vasto of White to join his army, but such a thing can not granted to one who would lay claim to the title of 'King.'
"LoRd BarAgGan." The queer hollow spoke out. "ThEre Has BeEn a GrEat shiFt in tHE SaNds."
"...And that would mean?" Baraggan asked.
"IT WoulD ApPear ThAt YoUR LorDShip is Not thE oNly King With an ArMy."
They were outnumbered six-to-one. It was true that the army supporting Shirou was vast, but Baraggan's was simply far larger. It was composed of six units of 6000 hollows, all of which seemed to have specific skill sets. First there were the Gillians, lumbering at the back of the army, then came the Adjuchas who controlled them from the rear. The second to the sixth units, were all composed of various hollows, some Adjuchas, and some the more common types. However, at the forefront of each of the fourth to the sixth unit was a Vasto Lorde. Of particular danger was the Vasto Lorde who commanded the airborne unit. He wasn't dangerous per say, but the fact that he could fly made him tricky to shoot. On the ground, one was only limited to dodging in three directions, up, left, or right- the sky was different. One could dodge up, down, left, right, or at a diagonal cross.
In war, the first preemptive strike was highly important, and Shirou could begin his assault from a distance.
Luminescent arrow after luminescent arrow rocketed forth from the sky decimating the enemy lines with massive explosions. However, to counter the casualties, the Vasto Lordes separated their units to spread themselves apart. Almost immediately, the Adjuchas commanding the Gillians let loose the order to attack.
Thousands of red orbs lit the world in red, the ceros forming with impeccable speed. Shirou's eyes narrowed and his priorities changed. However, before Shirou could do anything more, ceros of varying colours lit up from his army in response to the enemy's ceros. The only difference, a Gillian's cero was far less potent than an Adjuchas. Blue, red, pink, violet, green, a multitude of ceros met at the half way point, detonating on impact. Of the ceros that collided numerous ceros were able to over power the Gillian level ceros and obliterated the Gillians in the rear.
"Here they come. Apacci, Mila Rose, Sung-Sun, prepare yourself." Harribel said.
The third unit was the first to make contact with Shirou's army. It specialized more in speed than power, which is why so many simply bypassed the defenses of the larger hollows, aiming for the weaker joints. However, The Vasto of White's army was not to be underestimated. Having fed off the dense Reishi granted to them by their King, even the weakest of hollows earned a major boost in capabilities. The Vasto of White's army held strong, and at the helm stood Harribel, Apacci, Mila Rose, and Sun-Sun, their efforts quick to reduce the strength of the third unit.
Shirou sighed in relief, with Harribel there, he could stop worrying about anymore casualties.
Shirou took a double take, taking his eyes away from the unit in the skies. Lilynette Gingerbuck road on the back of a small hollow, a short curved sword in her hand- where she got it from, Shirou didn't know. She was making a charge straight for the second unit led by a wolf like Adjuchas. Somehow, Shirou was thankful that Starrk was nearby...well if being dragged by a rope of some kind attached to the back of Lilynette's mount was anything to go by. His eyes seemed to be rolled back into his head.
Don't question it, just don't question it
Shirou cleared his mind, and focused at the situation at hand. It was clear to see that even with the numbers they already reduced, Baraggan's army still held the overwhelming numerical advantage. He needed a weapon to turn the tide of the battle, to even the playing field.
"So this is the Vasto of White."
Shirou turned his attention towards the form of the descending Vasto Lorde. Reptilian like wings sprouted from his back, and he had the head of a snake attached to his humanoid body. Based on the Vasto's attitude, he must be the general of the army.
"Your power sure is something to decimate thousands of my fellow hollows with but a few arrows from your bow," The Vasto Lorde narrowed his eyes. "But no more. Your army shall fall to ruins as Lord Baraggan plunders your lands."
"...I will give you this lone opportunity to leave." Shirou said firmly as he brought a hand forwards. "Harm any more of my companions, and you will regret ever setting foot on this land."
"Like that girl?" The Vasto Lorde laughed.
Shirou took a glance to his side and noticed that Lilynette had been knocked off her mount- near instantly getting surrounded at all sides. The situation didn't look good, Lilynette wasn't much of a fighter.
"If you hurt her, you won't live to regret it." Shirou warned.
"Ho, and who would kill me? You?"
"No," Shirou shook his head.
"Cero." A massive doom blast engulfed all those around Lilynette. Screams pierced the primal violence of the battle field.
"There's is someone else more suited than I."
Well, hope you liked the update.
-Thanks for reading