Chapter 1

Turn back the Pendulum: The fateful meeting…

The space between dimensions….

Ichigo has done the impossible and defeated the Quincy Emperor Juha Bach after a very grueling and beyond brutal battle that spanned time, space and dimensions. Having forced to use his Bankai, the surge of titanically tremendous spiritual power has transformed the Substitute into a Transcendental Being once more. For in order to defeat a god, Ichigo had no choice but to become one himself. To protect his friends and what's left of the Soul King's dimension, Soul Society, and the world itself, he took the fight to the heavens where the Substitute knew he can no longer afford to hold back and use the full extent of his considerable might. Their battle raged endlessly at least in Ichigo's perspective but the concept of time has lost its meaning. Seconds, minutes, hours, days, years, centuries, millennia, and eons blended together, a tapestry of organized chaos that nearly overwhelmed the Substitute Shinigami's senses. Still he never gave up the fight and after causing massive catastrophic destruction in the cosmos, Ichigo prevailed as if the Universe has decided to side with him and cast the die in his favor. As luck would have it and by some seemingly coincidental occurrences has given the Substitute the precious seconds to plunge the glowing blade of his Zanpakuto and with all the power that he had in his very being used the most powerful Mugetsu he has ever fired -exponentially a million times more powerful than what he used against Aizen - and witnessed the Quincy emperor disappear out of existence. Having used the technique with his true Zanpakuto in hand, Mugetsu didn't have the same reiryoku destroying effect that it did when Ichigo used the Final Getsuga Tensho. So powerful this technique was that the Substitute tore a hole in several dimensions and destroyed primordial galaxies with the super massive shockwave that Saigo no Mugetsu - as it was called - has generated…..

Now exhausted beyond belief, he floated in the endless void of space not bothering to move a finger. Ichigo knew that his hasty plan to take his fight to the aether was probably a foolish one as he warped so far out of his dimension that he was hopelessly lost and he probably won't be able to come back home again. He didn't know how long he floated endlessly in the vastness of space - his wounds rapidly healing as he did so. As his Shinigami robes -as if with the life of its own -began to reform itself, he reverted back to his permanent Shikai state. Tensa Zangetsu turned back to two distinctive swords -sheathed in their respected places on his hip and back. As he floated through eternity, Ichigo could have sworn he heard a voice…

"At last I have found you my son…"

"W-who are you?"

"You know who I am…"

Ichigo knew who this disembodied voice belonged to…

"The Spirit King? I thought you died…"

"Indeed I did but after you have defeated my other foolish son, the power that he stole from me has returned me back to life. I thank you for that…"

Ichigo didn't know what to say. It wasn't everyday that a deity actually thanked him for doing his job….

"No problem. It's the least I can do to pay the bastard back for what he did…"

The Spirit King chuckled. Ichigo didn't know that Gods have a sense of humor….

"I have to apologize to you Kurosaki Ichigo…"

"For what?"

"For burdening you with matters that humans weren't meant to be involved with…"

"Nah, don't worry about it. I needed the power to protect what's important to me and I achieved that goal when I met Rukia. I had my ups and downs. I had my doubts and fears. I've beaten the odds and achieved the impossible. Being a Shinigami was an honor and I had fun. If given the chance to do it all over again, I would have chosen the same path. So I have no regrets if I die here now and return to the cycle of Rebirth then so be it…"

"Even if you will not see your family and friends ever again?"

"It took me fighting a homicidal megalomaniac to realize that they don't need me to protect them because they are powerful enough to do it themselves. Although it would be sad for me not to see them one more time and say my farewell, I think that they'll be fine without me. As long as I know that they will be alright then I am satisfied…"

"I see…"

The Spirit King showed him a vision of a planet….

"This is not Earth is it?"

"No it is not…"

"Then why show this to me?"

"This planet is in flux and I am afraid that it will not survive the calamity that will come to destroy it. Do not be dismissive of your power that you believe that there is no need for it for clearly this world will need your help - that is if you are willing to lend this world your strength."

Before Ichigo knew it, the instinctual need to protect - even a world not his own - has asserted itself. Narrowing his eyes, he saw the beauty that reminded him of the home he can no longer reach. Perhaps if he concentrated his faculties in protecting this new world then maybe he wouldn't feel as hollow as he was feeling considering that he had a new purpose! Besides, the prospect of surmounting new challenges excited him and he always wondered what it was like to be in another world…

"I'm game, where do I sign up?"

"I see…Then are you ready Kurosaki Ichigo?"

Ichigo smiled…

"You know that I was born ready…"

"Then let us go see where the fates will take you this time…"

Ichigo felt a pull and he vanished for parts unknown. A gigantic man with broad shoulders and clad in full plate of armor. The most distinctive feature he had was the oversized mustache that flared outward and was long enough that it went past his chest. His crimson eyes were unreadable but there seemed to be a mischievous glint behind them.

"Ah I see that he is on his way." The giant man said. "Are you sure that he will be up to the task?"

"Ichigo will be more than ready for the challenges ahead…"

"For all our sakes, I hope you are right."

"Do not worry my friend. Watch and he may surprise you yet!" The Spirit King.

The giant man roared in laughter….

"Then I look forward in observing his great deeds!"

Fiore - X763

Rumors of a phantom swordsman who saved people and then only for him to suddenly vanish into the darkness like a whisper in the wind. People knew that their mystery hero's weapon of choice was a sword as the Constables almost always discovered precision cuts that only a master swordsman could make. Witness accounts of his deeds were scarce as he tended to disappear as soon as his mission to help was done. Harder still was that no one knew what he really looked like. Whispers of a tall muscular man in strange black robes wearing a white cloak and a white cloth on his head with intricate black patterns on its surface. The most prominent thing that he wore though was a menacing metal mask that suspiciously looked like a skull that had strange red markings on the left side. Captured criminals would later confess that they didn't want to ever gaze into those piercing yellow eyes that turned the toughest of men into quivering and sniveling idiots at the mere mention of the the man.

The criminal underworld has put a hefty 10 million jewel bounty on the man's head as he has done tremendous damage in their operations. However, no one has yet to collect the money as the mercenaries and dark guilds alike failed miserably in their attempt to secure an easy payday or so they thought. Those who dared to apprehend him got a good ass whipping that they would never forget. Rumors of the black clad man's enormous strength and unbelievable speed circulated around the Kingdom. Those that scoffed at the man's power would later rave like lunatics that he was nigh invincible. That he was some kind of monster. Hearsay and truth were so garbled by retelling that no one knew if any of it was a bunch of baloney or there really was something to the tale after all. But if there was one thing that everyone actually agreed on is that if one was in trouble, this "hero" was going to be there and save you one way or the other….

Somewhere in Fiore…

Layla Heartfilia was walking into Waas Forest with a sense of purpose and a big tick mark over her head because she has somehow lost her way thanks to some so called friends who had even worse sense of direction than she did! And to add insult to injury they actually had the balls to turn tail and run like a bunch of damn cowards at the first sign of trouble. In this case, "trouble" was the two of them falling 5 feet from a hill and they were screaming like little girls when a deer came out of nowhere and scared the bejeezus out of them and ran off the opposite direction leaving her alone! SERIOUSLY! Well when she got back home those idiots will get an earful from her and a dainty foot on their stupid faces for good measure! Then it occurred to the blonde headed girl that she can use this as blackmail material to teach those little chicken shits not to leave a beautiful and vulnerable young lady behind! A comical dark miasma began to ooze out of the young girl's body as her eyes flashed brightly and the sadistic smile that nearly cut her beautiful face in half as it reached from ear to ear in anxious anticipation of a good ass whopping in the near future

At first glance, Layla was a beautiful young woman of 15 with long blonde hair and a heart shaped face. Her heaving ample bosom lifted up and down in a hypnotic rhythm as she breathed in and out of her mouth from the heat and humidity of the season. Her soft brown eyes held an unusual determination in them that burned an inner fire that urged her on. The pink ensemble of button up shirt and a scandalously short skirt teased and tantalized the imagination. Her white knee high socks terminated mid-thigh and accentuated her runaway model legs. The outlandish and somewhat frilly outfit was a bright contrast to the greenery of the forest that surrounded her. The clinking sound of keys on her belt gave her comfort and confidence that she will see things through even if she did it all alone. For she knew that her celestial spirits would protect her. So what business did a beautiful young Mage have in a forest far away from home?

"I saw him. I know that he's here!"

Young Layla was referring to the mysterious black clad swordsman that has become an immediate sensation and media darling overnight. No one knew if he was real or some myth conjured up by drunks talking in front of their camp fires. And everyone had a opinion of him. The boys scoffed at his existence but she knew they were just a bunch of bitter and jealous cry babies! The girls on the other hand, certainly swoon as their overly active and hormone induced imaginations ran wild as they speculated on what he looked like and wondered how dashing and handsome the man they thought him to be. Perhaps she was the exception as she just can't seem to wrap her mind around judging someone based on speculation alone. For all she knew, this mystery man could be a big hentai who liked stalking helpless maidens! Layla has heard some rumors that brigands and criminals were being ambushed on this very road she's currently walking on. And the fact that she thought she saw a man dressed in black Putting two and two together, the young mage with the help of her friends were going to the forest and perhaps she would shed some light into this mystery. Well that was the plan anyway until those two bakas panicked and left her all alone...

"Damn idiots! When I get my hands on them, I'll beat their asses sideways to Sunday!" Layla growled in an unladylike fashion.

The blonde haired girl kept walking for what seemed like an eternity but she ended up not finding anyone even resembling a black clad swordsman. In fact she hadn't encountered anyone in the last hour. Still she's already here and she can't back down now or her pride wouldn't be able to take it. Layla was completely adamant in proving this mysterious hero existed and was determined whether he's the genuine article or just a damn fraud. That and because she didn't really want to go home this instant. She was having parental issues that flared up this morning and Layla didn't really want to deal with that crap presently at this time. So she walked on even though she didn't know who to look for and wasn't aware that she was being watched...

Waas Forest- above the tree line

Ichigo watched at the blonde haired girl kept walking for what seemed like hours. He didn't know what she was doing all alone in the forest in the first place but as of now it can't be helped and he might have to keep an eye on her if need be. Still the girl being here of all places will somewhat complicates matters. For Waas forest was the alleged home base of a dark guild that way laid travelers and occasionally hired themselves for mercenary and assassination jobs. Quite recently, their leader decide to to incorporate their guild with a bunch of gangsters and that's when all hell broke loose. The town of Maar became a war zone as gangs tried to carve the city up like a cold turkey and thus the conflict became a free for all of whomever can gobble up the most territory. Murder, kidnapping, weapon and drug smuggling, the list of atrocities has gone too far and the good people of the town decided to call upon the Guilds for help considering that the authorities were out gunned and out matched. With the possibility that the Magi Council too busy with other matters such as the rumors of Dark Wizard Zeref unleashing one of his creations up North, the mayor had no choice but to ask Mage Guilds for help.

Flashback -3 days ago

After a long journey, Ichigo finally arrived at the Town of Maar. From what he's read, it has come a long way from the little hamlet it use to be. Considering the Waas Forest was just a stone's throw away and it was located not far a river; it has became a logging town and a few years later it's population exploded enough that the mayor needed to expand and build outward. With fishing, tourism, and logging it's main industries, Maar became prosperous and was on it's way to become a major city in Ishgar but underneath all the success was a dark side that the townsfolk didn't want to admit that existed. As the Town grew, gangsters began to move in and as the years went by, they two major gangs have entrenched themselves and vied for taking over the criminal underworld that was established there years ago. Still they haven't been blatantly obvious about it till quite recently...

Ichigo noticed that the town looked like it has seen better days...

"What the hell! I thought this was supposed to be a bustling place?"

The Substitute didn't expect the town to be so...run down. All the people he met on the streets were walking at a briskly pace and they seem to shy away from him. Though he knew that it wasn't because he had orange hair. That was something he was still astonished to this day that people weren't discriminating against him because of hair color. It was more the opposite really as people were fascinated by how exotic it was. Then again, he did notice that different people had hair from every color of the rainbow so it was quite refreshing that he wasn't being looked at suspiciously or assumed that he was some kind of delinquent. Still these people were behaving strangely and was curious about what was going on here. Ichigo shrugged. He had a feeling he'll find out soon enough. Ichigo didn't know at the time but the Substitute's premonition would prove true in a few moments...

Fifteen minutes later...

Ichigo found himself crashing out the window of a bar and sliding unceremoniously through the dirt road and stopped at a watering trough. Not expecting to be attacked so early in the morning, the bastard who knocked him through the wall managed to have surprised the strawberry with some kind of lightning attack. He wasn't quite clear why this ass attacked him unprovoked but he made eye contact with the assailant and when he didn't cower like all the customers might have ignited something within the thug that his overbearing pride couldn't quite suppress. That same person who recklessly running towards him now through the hole on the wall Ichigo sailed from. The Substitute got up quickly...

"Cool your jets cowboy!"

Ichigo lifted the trough and threw the entire thing - water and all - at his assailant. Trailing electricity through his body, the enemy Mage got the shock of his life as he got electrocuted on top of the fact that he got smacked with a heavy wooded trough. So he sailed back into the bar and crashed on the far wall knocked silly. Ichigo then sensed a surge of magic - another something that he's still getting used to - and stepped to the side as a fireball passed him by and two more thugs who tried to take advantage of the situation, hastily got out of the burning spell's way. The fireball then sailed passed those two and exploded on the poor guy who ambushed the Substitute earlier. Ichigo sweat dropped. Seriously though you gotta give it to these douchebags, they're very persistent. He didn't even know why they want to pick a fight with him anyway other than they thought they could bully him and wanting to look bad ass in front of people and their dumb ass friends. Then again these poor saps didn't know his history of "eating" bullies for breakfast...

"Bastard you'll pay for that!"

Another one came our of nowhere and tried to ambush him again. Even as limited as he was, Ichigo looked in fascination as the punch moved in slow motion at least by his perception. It seemed instinct honed from war was far too ingrained in him to just readily forget. So Ichigo casually stepped to the side -his right fist already on its way to smash into the guy's face as he got a hold of the thug's shoulder with a left hand and swept his legs making him tumble to the ground in an unconscious heap. The strawberry then kicked the other guy in the face as he recklessly ran toward him and taking the thug out of the fight. Strangely enough yet another dummy tried another sneak attack but Ichigo's instinctively crouched down and felt and saw a chair swing by. He elbowed his assailant in the gut pulled his hair and punched the poor guy in the face as he hit the ground.

"Anybody else!" Ichigo growled.

Seeing that their strongest member got taken down -and was still twitching on the ground apparently - the two that were left gathered their beaten comrades and made a hasty retreat...

"We'll be back!"

"You'll see!"

They hurried up as soon as they heard a whistle from the cops. Ichigo with half lidded eyes pointed the direction where the thugs went since they were crisscrossing every street as they were confused. He sighed and went back inside the bar and tossed the a bag of jewels towards the barkeep and said.

"Sorry about the mess. Hopefully that will cover the repairs..."

"Ain't no thing sir. Glad you got rid of the trash while you did or I would have kicked their asses out mi self!" The portly bartender said.

"So what's their problem anyway?" Ichigo asked. "Why are they bothering decent folk who's minding their own business?"

"Those boys were part of a gang trying to muscle in on Mantis gangs territory. You be careful sir, you've become one of their targets now though it seems that you can take care of yourself quite well!"

Ichigo responded chuckling….

"Well anyway if you need a place to stay for the night we can accommodate you." The man said.

"How much?" Ichigo asked.

"For getting rid of that scum, I'll give ya a discount! How does 500 jewels a night sound? And that includes breakfast and half off lunch and dinner if ya want." He said.

"That sounds fair to me." Ichigo replied.

"Well good to have ya then!"

The next 3 days would prove interesting as the gangsters harassed him at every turn but he ended up beating all comers to a bloody pulp. However, on the last day of his stay, it seemed that an army of them (30) tried and failed to take him out. Ichigo was further pissed all to hell as they burned the bar down and tried to use the bartender's daughter as a hostage which he immediately mitigated in the most brutally painful way. He knew then and there that these idiots were a threat to this town and his instinct to protect kicked in. Since he knew that these bastards were not going to stop until he's dead or someone else for that matter; at the first light of dawn, he declared war on ALL of them...

Flashback end...

And he was fighting none stop for hours. After cleaning up the town, Ichigo went after that dark guild he's been hearing from his interrogations of the gangsters he left conscious. Hopefully the cops in this world can appreciate the gift he gave considering he tied all those bastards up and hung them upside down by the police station.

It was only a few minutes ago he saw a trio of wizards heading deep in the forest. From the way the blonde headed girl was complaining and bossing around the other two, it was evident that she pressured them to come here for whatever reason...

"B-but Layla-chan what makes you think he's here?" Her companion muttered.

"Well there were rumors flying around that this place is his hunting ground." Layla replied "I know the Reaper is in this forest somewhere!"

Ichigo frowned when he heard the nickname. People were calling him that? True that he passed through here often and he occasionally helped stop a robbery or two and he so happened to save a few people who got themselves lost or in some kind of trouble but it didn't mean this place was a hunting ground. Then again this was the first time he's heard of what the people thought of him considering he has avoided cities, making contact with people, and preferred to work in the shadows - most of the time. Well it didn't matter, he did have a dark guild to bring to justice. Now hopefully there wouldn't be any complications and things ran smoothly from here...

Ichigo would find out later how wrong he was to temp the fates. He sweat dropped as those idiots screamed bloody murder as they got spooked by a deer and ran out on their friend. The girl -credit her tenaciously stubborn nature - somehow stumbled her way into the enemy camp. The Substitute's brow twitched. Seriously, how the hell does that happen? Ichigo sighed. He hasn't even met the girl yet and he has the feeling she going to be a big pain in the ass. Still her distraction might prove useful in ambushing the bastards when they least expect it. He heard an explosion in the camp and felt the surge of magic. Hmm, it seemed that there's more to his stalker than meets the eye.

"Well this is gonna be interesting..."

Ichigo vanished as he finalized his plan of action running in his head...

With Layla...

Layla has been walking to what seemed to be like eternity! She was tired, hungry and definitely needed a hot bath to ease her aching muscles. All this looking for a phantom swordsman on a rumor was probably the stupidest thing she ever came up with but let it be known that Layla Heartfilia - in all her stubborn glory - will never readily admit it! Nor did she ever call it quits - even if she did thought of doing so a few times…

"Stupid phantom swordsman!"

So busy she was fuming at her mistake that Layla didn't realize that she managed to walk in the middle of a dark guild's camp. Still half busy berating herself, Layla bumped into something and she fell to the ground...

"Hey watch where you're...uh going?"

Layla got up with all the dignity of a high born lady and brushed the dirt off herself. While she did so, she counted 50 very dirty and down right disreputable looking men surrounding her in a loose circle. It would seem she may have to summon a celestial spirit before she can herself out of this mess. She unconsciously held her keys…

"Time to pull off the charm, Layla. Hopefully these idiots will fall for it!"

Giving them her most winsome smile, Layla straightened herself up and tried to charm her way out of trouble...

"Well look here boys we got ourselves a guest!"

"Umm, e-excuse me s-sir. I-I think I'm lost." Layla stammered.

"Is that right?" The thug replied. "You hear that she's lost!"

The group surrounding her laughed. Still she continued with the charm offensive even if she felt a big sweat drop rolling down her cheek...

"So how about it boys? Are you going to just stand there and let this cute and innocent girl be in distress?" Layla said cutely.

"We would but it's gonna cost ya!"

"Preferably with that sexy ass body of yours!"

Layla cringed as all the thugs laughed in an uproar. Well this was going downhill quickly and she frantically looked around for an opportunity to escape. Then she noticed something among the trees. The young mage thought she was seeing things but with some quick thinking she found her way out...

"If you weren't a figment of my imagination, I would like kiss you oh ghostly silhouette thingy you!" Layla thought.

Then she said out loud...

"Look it's a ghost!"

They all turned towards where she was pointing and saw an outline of something there before it vanished. Layla was so surprised that she let an ear piercing scream that spooked even hardened thugs. As the chaos continued, she heard whispering from the men that peaked her interest as she sneaked out of the group.

"I-It's the Phantom Swordsman!"

"Idiot, that thing was too fast to be him!"

"Yeah I heard he's supposed to be 20 feet tall or something and stronger than 50 men!"

Layla was astonished. She didn't realize that the wild rumors about this mysterious stranger has spread this far North if all this chit chat was any indication. Still to be able to instill fear in a bunch of blood thirsty brigands was quite an accomplishment. Well this makes her job hunting him down easier. But then again what will she do when she finally met her goal and has come face to face with this "Phantom?"

"We'll cross that bridge when the time comes!" Layla thought. "I gotta concentrate and get out of this pickle I'm in first!"

When Layla finally broke free from the crowd, she didn't even walked 10 feet before someone noticed her sneaking off...

"Hey that chick is getting away!"

"Well what the hell you idiots are waiting for, get her dammit!"

Layla ran for her life as a storm of spells flew in the air trying to stop her...

"HEY WHAT THE HELL IS YOUR FRICKING PROBLEM HUH?" Layla shouted.

The thugs answered with barrage of even more spells. The blonde haired mage was fortunate though that despite her weak constitution, she was still young and athletic. She dodged the dozen spells flying around in the air like angry buzzards easily enough. Still she knew that she can't run forever. Layla knew that one way or another she will eventually have to fight to escape. Nonetheless, her tiring legs kept moving until she ran past the trees into a cliff. She frantically stopped and at the edge Layla comically flapped her arms up and down to keep her balance to finally step back towards safety. But alas the Fates had other plans for her as a stray fire ball exploded a few feet from her and the detonation made a piece of the cliff crumble to rubble and she found herself falling hundreds of feet down below.

"So this is it..." Layla thought forlornly. "This is how I'm going to bite the dust eh?"

The last feeling that Layla felt was regret. She knew that she will never see her idiot friends again nor will she make up with her parents for the stupid argument they had. She will never be able to go on adventures, get paid for jobs, or join a Guild and become a renowned Mage. (She really was interested in looking up to join Fairy Tail too...) As her short life flashed before her eyes, Layla -to her annoyance - never had a boyfriend or kissed a boy for that matter. Nor will she ever get married to a devilishly handsome prince who would shower her with gifts, give her lots of kids (she wanted 4) which would made her the happiest woman in existence! But none of that will matter as she fell down and she saw the ground get ever more prominent within her field of vision. As her perception of time slowed to a crawl, her mind raced frantically to somehow save herself but the sudden realization that she was going to die made her freeze to even think about summoning one of her Celestial Spirits.

"Please someone! Anyone! SAVE ME!"

As she was about to become flatter than a pancake, she felt an unfamiliar energy signature that was definitely not magic. Then she felt herself stop...

"What?"

"Don't worry miss, I got you!"

Although relieved, Layla couldn't help the first words that came out of her mouth was...

"What the hell do you mean you got me?" Layla replied frantically. "Then who the hell got you?"

Indeed her complaint was justified considering her savior was floating in thin air - without the aid of magic. The mages that she knew of that came to mind who could fly/float were either sky dragon slayers or those that used wind magic. This man however was obviously neither and she can sense the power he wielded was something far more denser and even darker than magic.

"It was almost as if he was using celestial spirit magic?"

That couldn't be right! First of all, he didn't feel like a spirit since he's carrying her hundreds of feet into the air so it's only fair to assume that the man has a corporeal form. Just to test her hypothesis, she pretended to panic and thus had an excuse to roam her hands all over his body. Well he seemed solidly built enough with the hard muscle she felt...

"Magic?" He replied drily.

"Really you're gonna be a smart ass about this?" Layla countered.

"Hey you're lucky ass should be thankful I saved you!"

"Whatever, will you please let me down now?"

"You mean you want to go back down and face those thugs again? I gotta hand it to ya though, you got some guts! You some kind of masochist or something?"

Layla's eyes widened and looked down and sure enough, there was an angry mob looking up at them and from what she can tell, they weren't too pleased. They started firing spells at them but they were too high for the various fireballs, lightning, and etc. to hit anyone…

"Kyaah!"

The stranger's hold on her tightened slightly and for just a split moment she felt protected for some reason. Though that feeling was soon tested when a particularly big fire ball honed in on them. With long practiced precision, he reached up and grabbed the pommel if his sword and sliced the spell in half and the pieces then subsequently exploded behind them. Layla's eyes bulged and her jaw dropped as the wind blew the dark man's cloak in the spell induced wind. Did THAT just happened? Well apparently it did because she still felt the remnant heat from the bisected spell - all while floating in the air! She looked up at her savior but his face was obstructed by hood and a scarf that he wrapped around his face. Now curiosity has sank their claws on her being and Layla wondered, who was this man?

"Hey you know you might get lock jaw if you look like that. Just saying…"

Layla didn't dignify the smart ass comment and ignored it...

"H-how did you do that?" Layla asked in rapid succession. "And how is your sword still intact? And how are you carrying something so big?" A smirk appeared and she added. "Are you like compensating for something?"

Bad ass swordsman began to splutter in protest and if she knew better the man behind the mask was probably blushing. This little tidbit of information might come in handy in the future….

"You ask to many damn questions! Like I said earlier it's magic. Zangetsu has always been massive since the beginning and it's not because I'm compensating for anything so you can get your mind off the gutter! Hope that answered your questions?"

Layla looked at him half lidded…

"Can you be anymore vague?" she replied annoyed. "And what is a Zangetsu?"

"Like I said, the name of my sword is Zangetsu."

Layla scrutinized the weapon and noted its imposing massive size. The sword was long as he was tall and as wide as his body. The handle was as long as his forearm and there was a groove at the end where the handle met the cross guard where his hands fit perfectly. The most distinctive if not prominent feature was the large hollowed out portion running along the back edge of the blade. A white cloth was wrapped around the handle. The blonde haired mage then looked down in confusion as he made an angled vertical swing and hitting nothing. To her astonishment, the cliff wall exploded as tons of rock and debris fell down to the valley - the enormous gash mimicking his same swing. A large chunk of the cliff - along with the thugs - slid and fell down below.

"Dammit I didn't mean to do that..."

Layla looked at him with her eyes wide. As if in embarrassment, he further elaborated...

"I held back as much as possible but I guess I over did it...again." The stranger admitted.

"That's what you call "holding back?" Layla shouted.

"Well I didn't mean to!" he shouted back.

If that was holding back then she didn't want to know what calamity he will bring if he decided to get serious or god forbid get pissed so much that he used his full power. Just thinking about it made her shiver…

"Well I was looking for this bunch anyway, thanks for being my awesome decoy!" He said chuckling.

Before Layla could reply she found herself and the man suddenly on the ground. She knew that he didn't use some kind of teleportation spell as she would have sensed someone using that magic. It felt more like he physically moved so fast from point A to point B but she felt that weird power again.

"What just happened?"

"Oh sorry should have warned ya but I didn't have time and moved on my own..."

Before she could reply a huge explosion flashed in the air. Well that explained a lot. Still he should have the courtesy to at least warn her before he does things. Wait a minute how did he moved so fast and how is he doing all this stuff without using magic? Makes her wonder if her journey to find this mysterious swordsman has come to an end considering that this man fits that very description to a T. Now she wanted to know who was he and why does he do what he do. Yes he's already famous since he's the front page of all major publications in the continent and she's sure that he gets bounties from wanted criminals. But what is his motivation to save those ordinary people crying for help? Layla took note and she would ask him that very question one day when things blow over. Right now they were surrounded -again - and it wasn't looking too good at the moment...

"Is this all of you?" The man asked down below. "I don't want to have to bother hunting you bastards all day. So are you guys going to give it up or are we going to do this the hard way. Better hurry up and decide quick coz I didn't eat anything since last night. I'd like to have a decent breakfast sometime you know."

Despite the dire situation, Layla liked the fact that he can joke around like this and she started giggling…

The crowd growled angrily at his perceived insult and someone was aggravated enough that he actually attack them. That didn't work so well for the thug as he started flying back where he came from as soon as the black clad man took measure and hit the thug square in the face as the man stuck his massive weapon on the ground. He then let her go as he turned around and stopped a fire ball spell and crushing it with his bare hand. He made sure that she was behind him taking the brunt of the force as the spell exploded around him. After the smoke cleared, most of his cloaked burned away leaving an unusual black outfit. The only other notable thing in his appearance were two white shoulder plates crisscrossing his chest whistle another smaller blade sheathed on his right hip. Three sections of his left plated shoulder pad was adorned in red scales. A white cloak with black markings was tied around his waist which was billowing in the air. The most remarkable thing about was when she tried to peak at his face only to be thwarted because of a menacing metal mask with strange red markings on the left side of his face. Whatever it was the effect that he was trying for succeeded because she felt chills running down her spine when she first seen it...

"No wonder why his voice sounded so hollow..."

"Hey, it's getting too hot in here trying to protect you and fighting these bastards off. So when I give you the signal, I will make a path so you can run while I take care of these guys, ok?"

The man didn't even wait for her answer and suddenly lifted his sword arm and swung down and a massive shock wave barreled through the crowd. Layla didn't have any words to say as she first look at the trench he made and then at the man only to return to the sight before her. Should she be surprised at this point? The blonde haired mage thought the power he so effortlessly displayed was just a taste of what he was truly capable of and knowing that he was holding back scared the hell out of her. Still Layla was a Celestial Spirit Mage and her pride cannot let someone else do the fighting for her when she was more than capable of helping with her own power - even if she felt a little bit inadequate compared to him...

"What are you doing? Why didn't you go when you had the chance?"

"Look Mr. Masked Man sir, I can help you fight them. You don't have to do this alone!" Layla replied.

Layla could feel the frown behind the mask and the skepticism in his brown eyes. Ichigo looked at her and saw the same determination that Orihime gave him right before a world altering fights and he knew that whatever he said will only fall on deaf ears. Well if she says she can handle herself then who was he to stop her

"Well if you wanna be stubborn about this I can't stop you. I will not be responsible for your life if things get dangerous, understand?"

Ichigo was impressed that the fire in her eyes smoldered even more and liked what he saw. Good, he won't need to baby sit her all that much so he can call concentrate on the task at hand. Still he was going to keep an eye out for her her anyway just in case things go South. His eyebrow quirked in curiosity as the golden key she took from her chain twirled in the air. As she grabbed it mid-spin and slammed the key into glowing "puddle" of magic and said...

"OPEN, GATE OF THE WATER BEARER!"

As the gate opened a whirlpool of water spun around and as it dissipated a royal mermaid with a blue urn appeared. She was a poster girl for blue: her tail, her eyes, and her waist high hair were that color. It was a good thing the Ichigo was wearing a mask as the celestial spirit was wearing a revealing blue bikini top which accentuated her rather well endowed breasts. She also wore accessories that further enhance her beauty. She wore a golden armlets and bracelets in each of her arms. A black marking of her sign was tattooed underneath her collar bone. Huh so that's how the spirits are summoned. Interesting…..

Aquarius looked at her summoner then at the army of thugs surrounding her and the blue haired spirit had to sigh. What the hell did this girl got herself into this time? And just as her conversation with Scorpio was getting interesting too! Though it's not like she was interested in him though, she was -after all - just talking to a fellow Celestial Spirit about myriad of subjects. He invited her for some coffee and before she knew it they've talking for hours. A light blush dusted her cheeks, Aquarius never realized that Scorpio was such a charmer before she felt the familiar pull of summoning. A large tick mark appeared above her head. She figured that the faster she get the job done the faster she can go back home and listen to Scorpio's corny stories. Then her eyes gazed upon a human in black, handling a massive sword. She began to dismiss him but she saw him vanish so fast that even her enhanced sight could barely follow his trajectory. Then the next thing she knew all hell broke loose. Seconds after he disappeared, she felt a surge of power unlike anything she felt before and after that burst, a shock wave literally barreled through a group of thugs in what felt swoop. Aquarius blinked in disbelief. Did she just see the man appear out of nowhere and blew all those people away with but a swing of his sword? How strong was this human and who was he?

"Very impressive isn't he?" Layla said drolly.

"Layla who is that man?" Aquarius asked. "How is he doing all this?"

"I don't know either but I'm going to find out one way or the other!" The blonde replied. Then in a teasing manner. "Why are you interested?"

This was why Aquarius loved Layla so much; she wasn't too aloof and cared enough about her feelings that she would banter with her. Oh too can play at this game...

"Why are you?" Aquarius asked. "Sounds like I'm not the one who would stalk the poor guy just to get at his secret."

"W-whaa...N-no!"

Hit a nerve did she? Though the young summoner recovered enough that she reasserted herself again...

"A-anyway, we're here to help him though try not to over do it."

"I-I do not "over" do things! Thank you very much!" Aquarius replied as if insulted.

"Uh he'll beat all these people up all by himself if you keep arguing you know." Layla said half lidded.

Indeed with each swing the black clad man was taking out 10 to 20 thugs at a time. Something in Aquarius snapped as her pride as a Celestial Spirit was on the line. Like her summoner, the spirit's pride was as stubborn as they come and she wouldn't let some human one-up her! The urn in her hands began to glow and water started spilling out if it. She did an elegant spin and emptied the urn's contents. A giant tornado made of water crashed into a group of thugs and had enough momentum to whip out several more. Feeling smug about her first attack, she whirled her head and her brows started twitching as the man's attacks takes down groups of thugs surrounding him with but a mere swing of his sword arm. Not to be outdone Aquarius decided to wipe them all out in one fell swoop when her magic surged and a tsunami overwhelmed all of them like drowned rats. Feeling proud of herself Aquarius looked smug and was about to gloat to Layla when she started sweating and realized that the torrent of water probably got her too...

"Geez remind me not to make your Celestial Spirit mad..." The man said chuckling.

"Sorry, she gets carried away sometimes..." Layla replied drily.

Aquarius' eyes widened and she comically turned her head in a painfully slow motion to see who was behind her. To her surprise and abundant relief there she being carried bridal style - soaked to the bone but safe and sound. Though what even more astonished her was the fact that he was floating in the air without the aid of magic at least nothing that she could sense. Nonetheless whatever substitute for magic he used was somehow powering his amazing abilities and it was potent and effective - the last five minutes only proved the point. He then signaled to her to go to the ground. When she got there, he told her something enigmatic that made her brows furrow...

"Aquarius, take her and get her out of here as far as you can..."

"W-what why?" Layla replied.

He looked at them both and they could tell that he looked grim despite the mask...

"I can't explain right now so hurry!"

The man shoved Layla abruptly and doing so saved her life as a massive thing fell from the sky and dust and debris swallowed him. The impact was so great that the ground around and underneath him buckled and shattered before the smoke obscured their vision. The smoke disappeared just as quickly as a massive wind suddenly blew it away just as quickly. Their eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets as they saw the man held a summoned Minotaur's giant ax with his bare hand. He let go as it struggled to dislodge its weapon from his iron grip and the two of them looked on helplessly as the creature slammed it's ax downward again. This time he used his own massive sword to block the attack - his body sinking even deeper into the ground.

The Minotaur howled in frustration because no matter what it did to take the black clad swordsman out, it's efforts were useless. He never moved an inch and when the man finally did decide to engage the enemy, he completely dominated in every way. After blocking a massive swing that finally made him slide a foot backward, the man displayed his ridiculously freakish power. When he countered -while sparks ignited all around them - even the Minotaur was surprised when it found itself losing its footing and being pushed 20 to 30 feet at a time. One particularly strong counter finally sent it flying and then crushing the side of a hill into rubble. As the Minotaur got up and intercepted the man's blade with its own. Whereas the swordsman didn't move from being similarly attacked, it -on the other hand - sank deeper into the ground and was brought to its knees from blocking such a powerful strike. Then out of nowhere the two combatants were engulfed in a blinding bright light. Layla and Aquarius blinked and before they knew it, the Minotaur has already disappeared, returning to the world it came from.

"Well that probably wraps it up except..."

The man vanished only to reappear with an unconscious man in his grasp. He tossed him aside and turned to the two of them.

"So does anybody have rope? We're gonna have to tie all these bastards up somehow you know..."

Layla and Aquarius found that funny for some reason...

"What's so funny?"

That made them laugh even harder...

One hour later...

They managed somehow and when all the thugs woke up they found themselves tied up and in front of the swordsman. Whatever he told the prisoners made them all compliant and marched towards town. With him in the lead, the swordsman dictated how fast they went and where. Every time some group slacked off, all he did for them to comply was turn around and look at the disgruntled prisoners and they happily marched on.

"I'm impressed..." Layla commented.

"About?"

"How you make them go wherever you want them to..."

"They deserve far worse for what they did but I won't take the law into my own hands." He replied glaring at them. "They wouldn't like MY brand of justice!"

All of them paled as he turned around and glared as he said those words that promised far more pain and suffering beyond words could describe and she knew that he was capable of fulfilling the treat mandatory make it a reality. Layla herself felt a chill run her spine and although he was still a mystery, she now knew a little something about him. That is, he has a code that he lived by and he has a strong sense of justice. It didn't matter how strong the opponent was or how many. It didn't matter what weapon was brandished or what fortress you were hiding in know that if you broke his unwritten rules of engagement then you were asking for an and probably deserved an ass whipping. All the evidence to the lengths he would go through she has already witnessed and she couldn't help but find that trait admirable and sexy for some reason.

"So what did they do anyway?"

He proceeded to tell her their crimes. The man seemed a little worried as she hadn't said anything for a few minutes…

"Hey you alright?"

"You're right, they deserved far worse!" Layla said chillingly. "Maybe you should put them off their misery and just send them all to hell!"

All of the prisoners turned even paler and comically sweated bullets as she turned to them with an evil aura rolling off her in waves and half her face was nearly bisected by her mouth as it somehow pulled back all the way to her ears in a sadistic smile.

"Damn you're evil!" He commented chuckling.

"Oh didn't you know? I'm evil incarnate!"

The rest of the way to Maar was filled with chatter here and there. When they did finally get to town, the citizens lined up in astonishment as the prisoners passed by. There was silence at first before someone realized who were being paraded in shame and clapped. Before Layla knew it, the crowd roared their pleasure. As they passed a burnt out Inn, the swordsman nodded at a man who she presumed was the owner. His wife was in tears and their daughter seemed ecstatic at the sight. Then they stopped right before a stunned sheriff...

"Good day Sheriff."

"Umm g-good morning..."

The black clad swordsman reached into his pocket and unfurled the wanted add...

"These guys are the ones on the wanted add. Half of these scum were the ones who torched half a block of the business district and tried to kill the innkeeper's daughter trying to get to me. If you want I'll also file a criminal complaint for harassing me and the citizens of this town."

"That won't be necessary. You don't have proof that what you alleged is true so I have no choice but to let these boys go."

There was outrage that rippled through the crowd while Layla herself was shocked. Didn't have proof that the crimes didn't took place? She was sure that the entire Maar community were witnesses. Seriously what better proof than the testimony of the people of this town? What kind of crap is going on in this town? As the thugs were being freed and started surrounding them while the cops looked on grimly, something even more fantastical happened. In a day full of surprises and feats of the impossible, an even more bizarre thing happened. As the thugs shoo away the restless crowd and cowed them with threat of violence, Layla noticed that the man didn't do anything but stand there, his head bowed down. She went up to him but her instinct screamed to get away.

"H-hey are you going to just let this stand?"

He looked up and the blonde mage didn't know if the setting sun's light was playing tricks on her eyes but she could have sworn that his eyes turned black and his pupils turned yellow. His fierce gaze trained on all the thugs. Then her skin crawled as she heard him once turn Hollow ad if two people were talking at once...

"I see..."

Then they all felt it collectively. The air felt thick and nearly tangible as it warped around the swordsman. A great weight suddenly pressed on the thugs and pinned them down to the ground. It was as if he used gravity magic but again she couldn't understand how he was fueling the spell if he didn't use magic. She didn't hear him utter a word nor got a surge usually associated with magical use. However, regardless whatever source of power he was using, it was effective since it incapacitated all the thugs and several of them dropped off like flies as they couldn't deal with the oppressive aura. After a what seemed like an eternity as if being drowned in a vast ocean, the pressure mysteriously disappeared. When it did, all the prisoners were unconscious on the ground including the sheriff and his men. The townsfolk who were understandably confused at what happened began to talk all at once. The chaos only stopped once more as the mayor and a large contingent of Magic Knights appeared.

"What is the meaning of this?" The mayor demanded.

"These bastards were on your wanted list. I simply took out your trash for you!" The black clad man replied.

Layla blew out the breath that she didn't know she was unconsciously holding. She sighed in relief as she heard his voice wasn't warped and his eyes were back to normal. Then she looked in puzzlement as he went to the unconscious sheriff and his men and the swordsman started to rip their shirts off….

"No wonder the police couldn't keep order from the gangs. It's because your police department has been infiltrated by them. I don't want to tell you how you do your business but I suggest you screen all your employees just to make sure they're not a member of a dark guild and I'm sure that you can solve 95 percent of the problem right now if you do so. Just saying."

The thugs and the traitorous sheriff and his crew had the same skull and cross bones guild mark of the dark guild Raiders. Stunned beyond belief, the mayor couldn't think of the words to formulate a response. Looking at the evidence before him, he signaled to one of the Magic Knights and whispered in his ear who then nodded. The Magic Knight took a handful of his comrades and left. It was later revealed that they have arrested several people as they were either associated with the Raisers or that they were members.

"Well, I see that my job here is done so I will take my leave."

"You don't want your reward?" The mayor asked in astonishment.

"I think this city needs it more to rebuild than I do."

Layla blinked. He was going to do all this for free after all the trouble these hooligans gave him? Her respect and admiration for him just suddenly went up a notch. Some of the people who heard the conversation spread the word and before she knew it, the crowd cheered loudly. Some managed find their voices and protested the decision.

"Hey are you sure about this?" Layla asked frowning.

"Yup, I can always earn money on the next job"

A light bulb lit up above the mayor's head...

"Excuse me sir. You said you needed a job?"

"Yeah, you got one for me?" The man said.

"Since we don't have a sheriff at the moment, the job is yours."

Layla thought that was kind of surprisingly but she knew he was more than capable and deserving of the job...

"I don't know if can stay permanently..." The man said.

"How about you stay temporarily until I can send for a replacement sheriff." The mayor replied.

The man still hesitated...

"Who wants to be their temporary sheriff raise your hand."

Every one in the crowd raised their hand...

"The people has spoken sir..."

The man sighed...

"Fine if she can be my deputy."

"What, who me?" Layla protested. "Now way, I don't have any experience and I gotta go home. Yeah that's right, my parents are waiting and I don't have time to be you know, be someone's deputy and stuff!"

"Whoever wants this girl to be my deputy, raise your hand!"

Ironically enough it seemed all the men in the audience raised their hands...

"Congratulations deputy, you just got voted in..." The man said.

Layla glared at him which he ignored...

"So what do we call you sheriff?" The mayor asked.

"Oh I guess I haven't really introduced myself huh?" He replied sheepishly.

Seeing a fierce swordsman scratch the back of his head seemed kinda cute for some reason. Then reached out for his hoody and the audience was surprised when a shock of orange hair appeared. When he removed his metal mask, Layla couldn't believe how young he looked. Piercing brown eyes, high cheek bones, and a strong chin completed a very handsome looking man. As his hair fell down, the act of sweeping it away from his eyes made it seemed so sexy for some reason...

"The name's Ichigo Kurosaki, nice to meet ya!" Ichigo said smiling.

At that point Layla and the female population realized collectively one important fact...

"Oh my gawd, he's so damn hot!"

Apparently the women folk thought the same thing and they all screamed in ecstasy and surrounded the dumbfounded Ichigo. Layla perhaps should have felt annoyed but seeing him blush as he tried to fend off and answer all the females was somewhat satisfying….

"So where do you come from?"

"What's your favorite food/color/past time?"

"So sheriff, what do you do to work out?" One woman asked. "Can you come over and train me?"

"Sheriff Kurosaki, do you have a girlfriend?

For some reason, Ichigo managed to answer her and all the women seemed to have stopped breathing just to hear what he had to say. Although she didn't want to admit it, the blond haired mage was curious and listened as well…

"I've been fighting all my life nonstop trying to protect people that I never had the time to even think of getting into a relationship…"

Ichigo managed to cover his ears as they all reacted to his answer. To Layla's annoyance, it made them even more calculating like how a predator would stalk his prey. She turned around and noticed the mayor chuckling and the some of the Magic Knights grinning…

"It seems that our sheriff has managed to become popular with the ladies in quite a short time…" He commented.

"Yeah, I can't believe it either…" Layla replied drolly.

"Please keep the sheriff out of trouble Miss Layla…."

"I'm planning on it…."

"Oh sheriff, I've been a bad woman!" a brunette said seductively. "Please, arrest me?"

"HEY, HANDS OFF THE SHERIFF, HARPY!"

The mayor continued to watch as the new deputy argued with the women and took control the situation. Though he knew he had a ton of work to do, he is somewhat relieved that Ichigo and his companion were kind enough to take up their roles until Crocus can send Maar a replacement. Until then, it seemed that the townsfolk has warmed up to the duo and with Ichigo's mysterious power, he knew that the Town was in capable hands indeed…

to be continued….

A/N I know...I know...This perhaps my third attempt in writing a BleachxFairyTail crossover...Don't worry I'm still going to finish the second one I'm just going to have shorten it to 2 more chapters...At the time I thought that crossing over 3 stories was a good idea but the thought of juggling hundreds of characters was somewhat daunting and since time is at a premium these days, I figured it would be best to end the story and move on to the next. I feel that this story that replaced it, is somewhat more organized and I am able to plan ahead. As for updates that's going to be a stretch...lol

-Yes, Layla Compton is Layla Heartfilia if anyone was was no mention of her family name before she married into the Hearfilia in Fairytail Wiki so I just googled English nobility and picked a last name...lol

-I had a review where Layla was already a Heartfilia and sure enough when I researched it at Fairy Wiki, it seemed that it was true so Layla is no longer a Compton and restored her true name to her. 6/29/16

-As for my other projects, those are still in progress and should be published soon

-Well so how do you like it...read and review as usual

-That's it for now kiddies until next time...