Time seemed to come to a halt, Shirou feeling unimaginably calm in the face of the adversary before him. Ever since he'd first started on the path of discovering the reason for his place in this world, he'd felt like he'd either been walking in circles, or that it was better to just stop. Yet now, there was an ever-growing sense of clarity gradually hardening into purpose as the battles raged around him.

Barragan's purplish vapors rotted all before him in pursuit of Gerard Valkyrie, the two forced into maintaining a tacit distance between themselves. One tried to contain the other, and the miracle just barely capable of doing that was expending the majority of Gerrard's efforts.

In stark contrast, Askin and Szayelaporro were a joke. Rather than a confrontation, it was more in line with a game of evolution. Szayelaporro would adjust the specs of his abilities to match Askin's characteristics through observing and researching Askin from a distance.

Numerous spiritual blasts had practically decimated all else.

Aizen was seemingly gone, and in his wake, was the final duel between the Lord of Quincy and the Lord of Hollows.

Hovering above the carnage in their own battlefield, Shirou stared across at Yhwach who similarly regarded him back with due caution.

Winds blew between them, wisps of spiritual energy spiraling around their bodies and silently gathering towards their weapons.

"Is that all?" Yhwach composed himself, and yet, the power of the Almighty was warning him of an inevitable danger. Still, he refused to acknowledge it after coming this far. "You wish me to believe that anything has changed with that sword in your hands?"

The sound of silence pervaded before Shirou gradually lifted his sword up, staring right into Yhwach' eyes.

"Whether it does or not, is not up to you to decide."

Light glinted over the sword's blade, the fuller flickering with the soft glow of burning embers. It clanked with each movement, a keening howl escaping out into the air with an endless presence of steel.

It was a sword that represented infinity, and the bladeworks of his soul.

Yhwach stirred, observing Shirou for any details he may have missed, yet finding none. Through the creation of the sword in Shirou's hands, it seemed as if everything had returned to a point of simplicity.

Indeed. From Shirou, Yhwach could no longer feel the malefic nature of a Hollow's spiritual energy, nor the purity of a Shinigami's. In fact, what he was feeling from Shirou now was more akin to the feeble presence of a human, the true danger seemingly locked away within the very confines of the sword in his grip.

"No matter what you've done, your actions still remain futile," Yhwach rolled his shoulders and dismissed a majority of the shadows that clung to him. Raising a hand, he undid the lapels pinning a mantle over his shoulders and let it fall to the ground beneath him. He then flourished his arm out, the spiritual sword in his grip shifting into the shape of a simple katana. "Come then. I will reveal to you and to all the depths of your folly to fleetingly resist against the tide of change."

Shirou took in a breath, his mind reaching its peak state. He did not shift into a combat ready stance, but into something more traditional; a single overhead swing with his arms raised over his head in preparation.

This would not be a battle. He had no intention of it being so.

Honestly, he didn't know if he'd last that long.

To begin with, Shirou knew full well of the toll this sword would impose. There was a reason he could never craft or Trace a blade such as Ea, and even now that he had, it was simply an ephemeral sword that could only exist with him as its wielder.

Even still. It would be enough.

His eyes hardened.

His resolve, his sheath concealing the hidden blade.

"It is not futile," Shirou calmly denied Yhwach's claims, his state of mind and body reaching its optimum level. "How can you call the fleeting resistance of others as futile, their hopes and desires meaningless when you too are the same?"

If Yhwach showed any reaction to the statement, it was concealed by an unwavering ambition. "…Preposterous."

"Is it really? Are you not resisting the current order yourself?"

Shirou understood it from the history he'd laid witness to from a host of weapons. "A King cannot be swayed by his emotions, lest he impose bias upon his subjects. With the power of the Soul King, were the Noble Houses really able to collude and bring down such a figure unless he was willing?"

"…" For the first time in a long while, Yhwach couldn't respond. The words made sense.

"You are different. Your ambition your own form of resistance. Therefore, this struggle is not meaningless nor futile. If you believe otherwise, then-"

Shirou and Yhwach came to an abrupt understanding.

"Prove it with strength."

The one who falls here would be in the wrong, and the victor, in the right.

Before him, Shirou could see it looming around Yhwach.

A darkness that needed to be cut; that which did not belong and preyed on the host by amplifying negative emotion. Like him, it was something that shouldn't have belonged in this world, yet nonetheless, was able to take root and exert influence the moment Yhwach usurped the energy of the Soul King.

The time was now.

With purpose in his hands, and meaning in his actions and existence, the taint of one world should no longer affect another.

He would sever that tie here.

For a single strike, he would devote body and mind to achieve the end and pinnacle of a blacksmith's path. To cut that which had never been cut before:

The strings of fate that tie and harden a person to their predestined ordeals; that which gives them strength and character, the 'essence' of their karma.

Yhwach moved, the buzzing sound of air echoing in the divide between he and him.


The minds eye opens and rejects all else for the sake of enacting a single action in this decisive moment.

All of his heart.

He focused not on where Yhwach was, but instead on where the strings of fate led to their source.

All of his perseverance.

Situated in an obscure image of a chalice in the void was the symbolic root of this driving karma.

And all of his soul.

He could no longer see nor tell how Yhwach would try to evade or strike, but in the end, it wouldn't matter in this instance.

Dodge all you like, or resist with every fiber of your being.

You were never the target to begin with.

Cry out.

The blade was swung down just as the tip of a sword made a cut over Shirou's neck.

"Sword of the Boundless."

It was a single overhead slash that struck out at air, and yet Yhwach could only blink in consternation at the result. Yhwach peered down at himself who'd appeared by Shirou's side, only to notice not a single cut. No, to be more accurate, Shirou had never even swung in his direction.

So then, why?

Yhwach's hands trembled, the grip over his sword quickly losing strength to follow through with his decapitating motion. In the end, the spiritual sword was the one that shattered. His eyes widened before he cautiously backpedaled to assess his condition.

On first glance, Yhwach could tell that there really wasn't anything wrong with him physically, but spiritually was a different matter. The flow of spiritual energy was in complete disorder and unable to be retained. One could think of it like trying to store water in a container broken at the bottom. The water would leak until the vessel was entirely depleted.

In a desperate struggle, Yhwach glanced at Gerrard and Askin in the distance. With a thought, he could usurp their power and life to fuel his own, yet he did not do so. Right now, he could tell with unwavering certainty that the effort would be futile.

Filling a broken container would only delay the inevitable.

Something fundamental to him and his power had been severed, and soon enough his physical body would show effect when his spiritual source ran dry.

"It's over," Shirou whispered softly amidst Yhwach's silence, his breaths coming out almost in erratic pants. "This sword does not cut what is before it, but that which is hidden in karma. Fate."

Releasing his grip on his sword, Shirou watched the blade break away piece by piece until only the hilt remained. In the end, even that two broke apart.

"Enough of this. Put your foolish ambitions to rest." He shook his head at Yhwach, vision beginning to swim. "This world no longer needs a ruler to guide it, nor to maintain a bal..an..ce..."

Yhwach processed the words, but silence was his only answer until he noticed Shirou begin to sway. The stability of Shirou's spiritual energy holding Shirou up in the air was gradually waning.

A sigh escaped Yhwach's lips as he recalled how things had come to this point.

"How naïve," Yhwach snorted, uncaring if Shirou was listening or not. His head bowed low as he took in breath and chuckled darkly. "None know of the nature of humans, Quincy, and Hollow as I do. Without power to lord over the masses, when two kings are brought down to the level of the rabble, the mice will come crawling with teeth bared."

Shirou did not answer, Yhwach did not expect him to.

Shirou had gradually passed out after funneling all his being to strike with a sword that should never have existed. His descent to the ground was inevitable.

Remaining in the air, Yhwach loosened his expression, no longer viewing things from a higher perspective to focus on the reality before him.

He watched Shirou's fall to the ground, observing as the Hollows and Arrancar flocked to the aid of their Lord who cratered into the white sand. Shirou's upper echelon, the Espada, foregoing their own battles in favor of rushing towards their King- or was it friend, love interest, or rival?

"Oi oi! Where are you going?! This fight's not over!"

"Fuck it! Don't you touch him, he's lady Harribel's!"

All manner of them began to congregate together for the sake of one.

Yhwach snorted.

It had been a long time since Yhwach had considered such base emotions, but he found it oddly soothing. With that single slash that struck at him, it felt as if an unseen fog that had been spurring him on had greatly abated, such that it practically no longer existed as much as it should.

"A good sword; an unreachable master stroke."

Yhwach would give praise where it was due. If Yhwach couldn't discern the nature of that sword, then the life he'd lived would have been meaningless.

In the end, that sword represented a level of being and understanding that he himself had never sought to attain.

He balled his hands into fists, clenching them, opening them, and then repeating. Slowly, surely, his spiritual form was crumbling into dust blown in the wind. It started from his finger tips and all the way down from his feet.

As his spiritual energy left him, so too would his body follow.

"Haschwalth," Yhwach abruptly called in the silence when a figure drew near. "Did you find it strange that I had not called upon you despite things turning out this way?"

Haschwalth was a man that possessed a cold countenance, but at present, his features were unresigned. Yhwach had instructed him to aid his fellow Schutzstaffel, but in the end, he'd waited for an opportunity by Yhwach's side instead.

As Shirou was weakening, Haschwalth was in the midst of executing him from the back, only to be stopped by a look from Yhwach's eyes.

Haschwalth balled his hands into fists, lips twisted before he shook his head and retained his composure. "I dare not speculate, my King," he answered.

Far from admonishing Haschwalth, Yhwach found himself amused at the intricacies of what made a human, human.

"A thousand years, and your character still remains the same," Yhwach muttered.

Yhwach glanced at Ishida, then towards Silent from the corner of his eyes, ignoring all else.

So, that's how it would be. Very well.

Yhwach's Almighty no longer knew what the future would bring. The old was dying, but the new was just beginning the first baby steps. The legacy of the Quincy would not die on this day.

Turning his head, Yhwach focused his attention back on Haschwalth and instructed him with a final task. "The limits and laws of the world are no more. Lead the remnants, or find your own path to follow."

Haschwalth's eyes widened. From his perspective, Yhwach was only slightly injured while the Vasto of White had fallen to the ground.

Was this not victory?


Yhwach snorted, shaking his head and cutting Haschwalth off. He was in no mood for argument nor explanation, not when the deterioration of his physical body began to accelerate and shut Haschwalth up.

From his arms to his legs, his body began to rapidly break apart into particles of spiritual energy dissipated in the void.

His end was drawing near, and yet it was in this state that he could view the circumstances from a different perspective.

How fitting.

The balance was broken, the worlds in disorder, and yet there was no ensuing chaos. No apocalypse as sure as the stability of hell…

In the end, life would go on with or without his intervention.

A good war this was.

Let it end here between you and I, but alas…

When the last of Yhwach faded away, the ends of his lips curved upward in contempt.

As expected,

The fall of a King is never followed by a respite.

Rats will be rats.

In the silence of a definite victory, a shout was all too clear.

"-Kisuke, Mayuri, now!"

Sorry for smaller update, there have been a lot of things I need to juggle between. (Note: This isn't the climax. It will come as things gets wrapped up in the next few chapters. This one was to lay down a bit of foreshadowing to the conclusion of the story)

Thanks for reading, and thanks to my newest patrons: Nassar Salah, Dias, and Chris R!

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