Hello everyone and welcome to my newest story! I have been toying with this idea for far too long and decided to just go for it. I'll always try and update as soon as I can but I don't spend all my free time writing and you never know when life is going to throw a curve ball at you so all I can do is my best and hope my readers can remain patient.

Before we get into the actual story there are a couple of things I'd like to go over that I know will be asked. Yes, there will hopefully be romance in this story, I say hopefully because I have never tried to write it before and so I may not be very good at it. Yes, this is DXD, however, Ichigo will not have a harem, that just isn't him in my opinion. I would maybe – and that's a strong maybe – do two girls at once if I had a strong reason to do so but it's still unlikely.

As for everyone's favourite pervert Issei, yes he will still be in this story. I dislike when authors take Ichigo and slot him into Issei's position and then follow canon identically, that's lazy writing in my opinion and I don't agree with it. Also, Ichigo will not now nor will he ever be joining a Devil's peerage, be it Rias, Sona, or whoever. The Ichigo I know would never become someone's servant willingly and even if he was forced into it he still wouldn't follow the orders of his 'master,' that just isn't him.

Disclaimer: I do not own Bleach, Highschool DXD, nor any of their respective characters.

Guardian of the Dead

- Chapter 1 -

It had been six months since the end of the Winter War and things had not gone at all like he'd hoped.

When he gave everything to defeat Aizen, the megalomaniac with dreams of godhood, he really didn't care what happened to him afterwards as long as he won. As he looked back on it now he realized what an irresponsible way of thinking that was when it came to such an important and life-changing decision for himself, especially when it was his soul on the line, but he didn't care back then and that sentiment still hadn't changed. The way he saw it there were only two options, the first would be him sacrificing his powers to win and the second would be him keeping his powers and letting Aizen win, the choice was incredibly easy to make and in truth should have been no matter who was in his position.

Yes, he was losing his powers, his ability to do that which he loved, protect, however, he wasn't the only one capable of safeguarding the souls of the dead, there was a whole army of Shinigami dedicated to that very task. Besides, when all was said and done he would still have his friends, his family, so what was the problem? Eventually, his powers would return to him and when that happened all would go back to normal.

Or so he thought.

Sure, for the first couple of weeks after the final battle in which his powers were slowly but surly fading away his friends stayed by his side, constantly checking on him and making sure he was truly happy with the outcome and that there were no complications, but after that fateful day in which he watched Rukia fade from existence in front of the Kurosaki Clinic everything changed.

His father tried to maintain some normalcy by keeping up his goody facade and routinely attacking him, but as time passed his 'training' became less frequent and less intense. Isshin had always been better with the girls and so despite what either of them wanted it became quite awkward between the two. His so-called human friends treated him as if he were made of glass, like his supposedly fragile state would shatter at but the slightest whispers of the supernatural. Always hushing up their discussions when he approached, unable to look him in the eye, and on the occasions in which they would return from hollow hunting with smiles on their faces after the exciting break from their everyday lives, it would all disappear when they noticed his gaze was upon them.

The Visored, who claimed him to be a part of their family on multiple occasions - something that truly made him happy since he'd never felt like he truly belonged anywhere, to any specific group - never once came to visit him, and sadly it was the same with the Shinigami. At first, he just assumed that they were really busy in the aftermath of the war, but as days turned to weeks and weeks to months, not once did someone come by to see him in a Gigai. Even on the rare occasion that he went to the Urahara Shop, there were never any messages left for him.

Kisuke and Yoruichi themselves still treated him normally, something which he appreciated more than they would ever know, and even though he considered them to be good friends, without his powers there was just no need to go over there. Urahara was always busy with his research and experiments and Yoruichi was always bouncing between the Soul Society and the human world doing whatever it was that free-spirited cat liked to do.

So really the only sense of normalcy he got on a daily basis was thanks to the two little angels he called his sisters. He was so proud of them. They were already growing up to be incredible woman and he tried his best not to show them his increasing sadness but sometimes it just slipped out of him when he thought no one was looking. But thankfully, instead of trying to make him talk about it they would just do anything they could to distract him from whatever thoughts were plaguing him, be it Karen asking him to help her practice soccer or Yuzu asking him to help with the grocery shopping.

He was so grateful for them and he tried to show it as much as possible, but they were growing older and he didn't want to be that over-protective big brother so much, instead letting them go out and forge their own paths leaving him to watch over from afar and give his help when they needed it. Unfortunately, because of this, he was left with much more free time on his hands, free time in which his mind could wander and think of all the negative things that weighed him down. A tinge of sadness would always enter his heart at those moments, though it would quickly pass and be replaced by frustration, frustration at his situation and frustration at everyone around him.

They were fools, all of them.

This continued endlessly for weeks and after a while of being pushed away, he could safely say that he had fallen into a pretty bad case of depression. He began to second guess himself, constantly wondering if all of his supposed friends ever liked him in the first place. Maybe that was why they had all abandoned him now, maybe it was all an elaborate ruse they created to use him and his vast power. It certainly made sense, why else would they all disappear from his life now that he no longer had any of that incredible power? Maybe he had never been more than a weapon to any of them in the first place, someone who would clean up all of their messes for them under the guise of friendship, meanwhile they were all laughing at his naivete behind his back.

Honestly, he was just being really pathetic, and one night during the long months of being powerless he realized this, then everything changed.

He'd been thinking about his time as a Shinigami, and more importantly his time with Zangetsu and even his Hollow, the lessons he'd been taught by them. He never really noticed it before but most of the things he had learned had been from his Hollow and not old man Zangetsu. This confused him, his Hollow had always gone on about how he wanted to consume Ichigo's soul and take the crown for himself, yet now that he thought about it the attempts made were always quite lazy.

If he looked back on all of that now he could easily recall a couple of times where if his Hollow really wanted the crown he could have taken it, and there would've been nothing Ichigo could do to stop it. Yet he never did. He always gave Ichigo another chance, always said the right things to push him in the right direction, always taught him how to win, it didn't make sense.

It was during one of those moments of reminiscence that the realization hit him like a slap to the face, he had been acting so weak and out of character, he was no longer being himself, the old man would be so disappointed in him right now. It was he who always told Ichigo to abandon his fear, to look forward, move forward and never stop, that he would age if he pulled back, if he hesitated he would die, yet that is what he'd been doing this whole time. Ever since that day Rukia left he fell into a state of stagnation and let despair take hold, well no more, it was about time he put everything behind him and started moving forwards once more.

That was when everything changed for him. He threw himself into a heavy training regime because even without his powers he wanted to stay in shape, he loved getting his adrenaline going, pushing himself to his limits and then smashing through them like he always had. When he wasn't training he was studying, he'd always been smart however with his Shinigami duties taking up a lot of his time his grades eventually fell no matter how hard he tried to balance the two of them. With some effort he managed to get himself up into the top five of his school right behind Inoue and Ishida at third which to him was perfect, he was close to starting his final year of High School and would need good grades if he wished to get into a good College.

Speaking of his friends, things still stayed awkward between them for the most part and they still tiptoed around the supernatural subjects when he was near which annoyed him, but some form or normalcy had ensued at least during school hours and that was good enough for him. He had more than enough to do anyways between studying, training, and saving up money from his part-time job. He would keep moving forward, keep improving, and when that day eventually came when his powers returned to him he would be smarter, faster, stronger and just more prepared to do that which he was meant to, protect.

It was also when he made that self-discovery that something else changed with him, something he had yet to tell anyone else about in his life. Ever since the end of the Winter War, his sleep had been plagued by a strange dream. As time moved on it would appear more and more frequently and more details would be revealed to him with each passing night. It was odd, continually seeing this world of Angels, Fallen Angels, Devils, massive Dragons soaring through the sky, creatures which after some research he learned to be Nekomata and Kitsune and so much more.

He didn't know why his mind was continually showing him this world but he was more than content to let it pass without telling anyone, at least until he started hearing a voice. It was after his personal self-discovery that he originally began hearing it, just soft whispers in the back of his mind that he couldn't quite understand. As with the scenery that became less clouded as time passed the voice too became louder until it the message was clearly being received.

"Wake up. When will you wake up, Ichigo Kurosaki.."

"This world needs a Savior, there are still so many counting on you.."

At first, he was going to brush it off, it was probably just his minds way of telling him that he missed his powers, which he did. Then he reconsidered. He' already d experienced far too much in the supernatural, learned too much about the human soul and it's capabilities to just brush it off. So with a feeling of dread bubbling in his stomach he asked himself the one question which came to mind, 'Aizen was gone, defeated, and locked away, so who does the world need saving from?'

To answer this question he went to the one man who seemed to know everything, Kisuke Urahara.

~ Urahara Shop

"So you've been having this dream since the end of the Winter War..?" the shopkeeper reaffirmed, an odd look on his face after hearing the teens problem.

These two had an uncanny ability to piss Ichigo off, the way his two mentors were looking at him made him really think he was losing it, "Yeah, they started after my powers fully vanished."

Urahara hummed in thought for a moment, his eyes never once leaving those of the teens. "And what have these dreams consisted of?"

Ichigo mind raced and he once more caught that brief flash of intensity in the shopkeeper's eyes, the same one he always got whenever something big was going on, 'but what could be so serious about these dreams..'

"It's always been the same, though as time passed more and more became clear to me. I see Angels, Fallen Angels, Devils, Dragons of all sizes, those half-human half-animal beings called Kitsune and Nekomata, and it's always really sunny and warm.." The former Shinigami trailed off slowly, the hairs on the back of his neck standing as his two mentors gazed through him, small lines of concern forming at the edges of their eyes.

"Is there any more Ichigo? Maybe voices or..?" Yoruichi questioned eagerly, maybe too eagerly she realized as Ichigo's own eyes briefly narrowed at her question.

"Yes actually, though it only started recently after a sort of self-discovery I guess you could call it. It's always a female voice, and she always says the same thing to me." Okay now he was getting a little self-conscious, where were the usual teasing remarks? Instead, both of them only looked more serious than before.

After a couple more seconds of the awkward staring contest, he released a sigh and told them. "She always says Wake up, when will you wake up Ichigo Kurosaki. This world needs a Savior, there are still so many counting on you."

Silence. That was the only response he got, they were probably going to start laughing at him anytime. 'Oh my Kurosaki-san, your hero complex is a large as ever I see,' is what that bastard will probably say as he waves that stupid fan in front of his face. Surprisingly however that wasn't what happened. Instead, the shopkeeper silently got up mumbling an 'I see,' and 'I'll be right back,' before leaving the room.

The man didn't even come back for a good ten minutes leaving Ichigo and Yoruichi in a bit of an awkward silence. He couldn't read the look she had on her face but the woman seemed content to just sit there and stare at him the whole time bringing a little bit of pink to his cheeks, something she did not miss if the cat-like smirk on her face was anything to go by. When Urahara did finally return Ichigo was surprised to see his father trailing a couple feet behind the man.

"Oyaji..? What are you doing here?" the man in question did briefly meet gazes with his son and nod his head slightly but he didn't reply, instead, he chose to sit down and take a moment to collect his thoughts.

A tense moment passed before he looked up again, his eyes once more finding those of his son's. In his eyes were a myriad of emotions, apprehension, fear, sadness, anger, all of them conveyed strongly to the former Shinigami. It was obvious that whatever Isshin was about to say was heavily weighing on him, and had been for a long time.

"Ichigo, do you remember during the battle in fake Karakura, you told me that when I was ready I could tell you everything?" He asked, getting a hesitant nod in return from his son. Isshin let out a deep sigh before continuing, "Well, due to recent developments now is that time."

Ichigo's heart rate picked up at those words and his mind began to race, "recent developments? You mean the dreams? But what do they have-" the words died in his throat when Urahara stuck his hand up and gave him a look that said 'listen first, ask questions later.'

Isshin sighed again and scratched at the stubble under his chin before leaning back into a more relaxed posture, his eyes becoming cloudy as he reminisced. "You should know that you were never really a true Shinigami, but, you aren't really a normal human either.

Ichigo, your mother was.. She was a Quincy."

'What?!' he screamed out internally, outwardly his eyes had bulged. "A Quincy?! But how?"

His father slumped forwards now, eyes falling to the cup sat before him. "As you know I'm a Shinigami, and I used to be the Captain of the tenth as well. Well back then we kept receiving reports of a mysterious but very powerful Hollow that had been stalking the nearby Naruki City and killing all the low-level Shinigami stationed there. The problem was that the bastard would appear and disappear from the human world faster than you could blink thus we could never get a full read on the thing or dispatch a Captain to go kill it.

I knew something was odd about the situation even if no one else wanted to admit it and so I took a little trip down there myself to check it out. It didn't take very long for the Hollow to show itself and it was surprising, to say the least. It was fairly human in shape much like a Vasto Lorde and damn did it have the power to match. It was all black and it's Hollow hole had been filled with some unknown substance which was most surprising.

Anyways, I engaged it and was forced to release my Shikai pretty early on but even still I was struggling. It had two blades for arms and could coat them in a black and red reiatsu to further strengthen its blows. It felt like the longer this battle went on, the stronger the Hollow would get. I was fully prepared to release my Bankai just get it over with."

There was a slight pause in Isshin's story as he noticed his son tense, he as well as Kisuke and Yoruichi knew what had struck the teen so harshly and it was by no mistake that Isshin gave such a blunt bit of foreshadowing. Black reiatsu tinted red and the ability to cloak its blade in that reiatsu to strengthen its blows would sound shockingly familiar to the teen across from them.

Ichigo's eyes were filled with confusion and uncertainty and his mind pieced the puzzle together, he so badly wanted to ask for the answers but even if he did he doubted to would receive them, he would need to hold his tongue and keep listening to find out the answers to all that plagued him.

Taking a deep breath his father once more began to speak, "At the time I wasn't aware of who it really was but now I know that it had been Aizen who was lurking in the shadows, hiding with one of Kisuke's cloaks so that he could watch his experiment in person. He must've known that I was going to release Bankai so he struck me from behind, deeply wounding my back to the point where I was unable to focus my reiatsu and release Bankai without having detrimental after effects.

I'll admit that things weren't looking good for me, however, not all hope was lost, just as the hollow was readying to finish me off your mother swooped in and saved my life, she ended up tricking the Hollow and finished it off with one shot.

Ichigo couldn't help but crack a small, sad smile at the information. It was shocking to hear that Aizen's machinations had gone so far back, even affecting his own father, but to hear that it had been his mother who had saved him all those years ago was something he could easily picture.

"Sadly that isn't the end of our story as your mother was quite the reckless one. When I say she tricked the Hollow she did so by letting it bite her which allowed her to get one clean, point black shot that would kill it for good. It worked thankfully, but there were some negative side effects. A few days after the incident she collapsed and began to undergo Hollowfication. Unfortunately for Quincy, a Hollow is like a deadly poison to them, so unlike the Visored who have a chance at subduing and gaining control of their inner a Hollow, a Quincy will only die if they are infected, or so we thought.

It turns out that Kisuke had developed a method to stop this from happening which was what brought about our initial meeting. In short, I would enter a special Gigai that would tie my soul to hers and with my Shinigami powers I would be able to suppress the Hollow inside her sparing her life. Only upon her mortal death would the link break allowing me to exit the Gigai and regain my powers. At least that's how it was supposed to work. When she passed away on July 17th my powers did start returning to me, however, there was something blocking them from coming back completely."

"Me," Ichigo replied simply, finishing his father's train of thought. "I'm part Shinigami from you and part Quincy from mom, and when I was born the Hollow that your reiatsu was suppressing transferred itself to my soul in an attempt to escape."

The three adults nodded their heads approvingly at his deduction. "Correct, though unluckily for the Hollow his plan didn't have the desired effect, yes he was able to transfer himself to you but the link to my powers came along with him. It was only after your powers started growing at a tremendous rate during your raid on the Soul Society that mine were no longer able to suppress it and the link shattered allowing your Hollow to fully awaken."

'No wonder Aizen always treated me like I was some crazy science experiment,' he mused bitterly to himself, then something else clicked in his mind. 'Wait, if I have been part Hollow since birth then that would me that he has been here since the beginning as well and not just the shattered shaft like I previously thought.'

Ichigo frowned further as he continued to think about the psycho he called an inner hollow, 'Then again he did always try and tell me that he too was Zangetsu, I just never wanted to believe it. I always thought he was my enemy, but looking back on it now he was the one who saved my life more than anyone else.'

Shaking his head lightly he changed the direction of his thoughts, first and foremost he needed to consider the man before him and everything he'd just been told. 'Yeah I wish he had told me sooner, maybe if I'd begun training at a younger age things would have turned out differently, perhaps all of this could have been avoided.' Shaking his head again he dropped the subject, it was already done and dwelling on it wouldn't accomplish anything, besides, he'd just realized something else.

"Y'know it just hit me," he started, looking towards his father with a grin, "You said you were going to release your Bankai to fight the Hollow yet mom was able to kill it with only one arrow. You must've been a pretty weak Captain, huh?" As he finished his grin grew wider when he noticed his father's eyebrow start twitching at his comment.

"Why you little.." Isshin began, only to be interrupted by the laughter of Urahara and Yoruichi, he too couldn't resist letting out the chuckle bubbling in his stomach. He was just glad that Ichigo had accepted everything nicely and it seemed that he wasn't holding anything against him for keeping such large secrets for so long.

Urahara clapped once drawing the attention of the room to him, "Now then!" He began, a cheery expression on his face as he gazed towards the youngest of the four, "With all of that backstory out of the way we can finally get onto the main order of business."

Ichigo perked up at this, sure he was glad to finally know everything about himself and his family but clearly there was something more to the dreams he had been having and he was really anxious to find out what.

"I should start by saying that everything you have been seeing in those drams is 100% real, Kurosaki-san."

Ichigo stared bug-eyed at the statement, looking as if the shopkeeper had suddenly grown a second head.

"Come now, surely you didn't think that Shinigami, Hollow, and Quincy were all that existed out there?"

The teen looked ready to smack the man to his left, "How the hell would I know otherwise? Those are the only races I've ever seen."

Urahara's eyebrow rose slightly almost as if asking 'are you sure about that?' further annoying the teen. "Oh? Then what about Komamura-taichou? Or our very own Yoruichi-san? The first is a wolf and the latter a cat, surely you don't believe they are just regular Shinigami like everyone else."

It didn't take long for Ichigo to nod in acceptance at the man's words, he had been rather shortsighted to not realize that a wolf and a cat aren't exactly normal even in a world of Shinigami and Hollows.

"The fact of the matter is that we Shinigami, Hollow, and Quincy are the minority in this universe of supernatural beings. Our role as the keepers of balance is far too important to be messed with and thus we are kept separate from everything else."

"Kept separate from everyone else? By who? Does it have anything to do with the woman whose voice I keep hearing?" He wasn't sure how to feel about what he was hearing, the way Urahara said that made it sound like they were prisoners, forever kept in solitude and unable to interact with the rest of the world as the did their duties.

"Yes, I'd say it has quite a lot to do with the woman who wishes to meet you considering they are on in the same. As I said earlier we cannot go into too much detail Kurosaki-san so just know this, she wants to meet you, and should you agree then all the questions you have will be answered."

Ichigo's eyelids fell slightly, appearing to be in a daze as he watched the leaves in his cup of tea swirl, giving a simple reply of 'I see.' as he mulled over the most recent topic of discussion between the four at the small table. It was obvious that his father and two mentors wanted him to meet this woman, or at the very least trusted her enough to where if Ichigo agreed to meet her they wouldn't be hesitant in sending him to wherever he would have to go.

He'd be lying if he said he wasn't curious, whoever this woman was, clearly she was powerful and likely of a different race to anything he'd ever seen before too. Hell, if Dragons, Angels, and Devils all exist it wouldn't be too shocking to think Gods did as well, and knowing his luck he wouldn't be all that surprised to find out it was a God of all things that wished to meet him.

'It's suspicious though, why would this person want to meet me of all people, especially now that I've lost my powers.' It just wasn't adding up to the teen, not to mention.. "If this woman is such a big secret then how do you three seem to know her? And why me anyways?"

"Why you? You heard her Ichigo, this world still needs a Savior and who better to save it than you?" Yoruichi finished with a smirk, even if the kid wouldn't admit it he loved to play hero and would gladly do so again if given the chance. She would admit that she'd grown quite fond of him since their first meeting and that selflessness of his was a big part of it. "As for how we know her.. I can't speak for Isshin but you know this guy loves digging into things he isn't supposed too." she finished, jabbing her thumb at the man with the striped hat.

The youngest of the four scoffed at that, he wasn't surprised in the slightest to hear that Urahara had once again dug a little too deep and found out something he shouldn't have, his thirst for knowledge was far too great to expect otherwise. Shifting his attention to his father now he could only wonder what he had done to meet this mysterious woman but he wouldn't push it for today, he'd already been told a lot that Isshin probably wasn't fully ready to tell but had to due to the circumstances.

No, anything else his father had yet to tell could wait until the appropriate time, all Ichigo wanted now was to know what his father thought of all this. Sure they had never been the closest through the years and there were a lot of lies told and secrets kept that didn't help the situation, but he loves his father just as much as he loved- still loves his mother and he knows that Isshin loves him just as much as he does Yuzu and Karin. So as valuable as his two mentor's opinions are to him, nothing could beat his own fathers.

It only took a brief second of eye contact for the message to be conveyed from father to son, 'Do it, you weren't born to waste away in this town studying for exams, your purpose is far greater than that, you are a protector, so go and do your name proud.'

"Alright, I'll meet this woman, just tell me how."

"I'm glad to hear it, Kurosaki-san!" The shopkeeper replied jovially while rolling up the right sleeve of his kimono confusing Ichigo who without his powers was unable to see the faint golden glow which surrounded the man's arm.

Even though he was unable to see the glow he did feel the familiar tugging sensation he used to get when separating from his human body, though before he could question any of the three on what was happening the back room of the Urahara Shop he was in vanished leaving only the three adults who occupied it with him.

"You know he won't be able to come back for a while Kisuke, what happens when Soul Society notices that he's gone?" The Goddess of Flash pondered, earning a sly look from the man in question.

"Why whatever do you mean my feline friend?" He responded, pulling out his fan a waving it much to enthusiastically in front of his face, "I am but a handsome, humble shopkeeper, surely I cannot be expected to know the whereabouts of our young friend at all times."

Isshin and Yoruichi smirked at the reply, Urahara had already told them that his ties with the Soul Society had long since been severed and that he would always have Ichigo's back, even if it meant going against the very organization which he used to call home.

~ Planes of Takama-ga-hara

Any who were lucky enough to set foot in the high planes of heaven would be stunned by the beauty of the sight before them, it was nothing short of breathtaking. The planes themselves were set onto a large floating island, green grass and rolling hills as far as the eyes could see, rivers of crystal water weaving and cutting through the land. The sounds of birds chirping lightly echoed in the air as various animals of all shapes and sizes scurried and roamed the vast ground without a care in the world.

On the northernmost part of the island, an intricately crafted marble bridge arched out over the abyss below connecting to a golden gate which bridged them to the human world. A large village sat on the opposite side of the bridge which acted as the home to a large part of the Kyuubi population that lived under the Shinto Trinity and more importantly the Goddess of the Sun.

It was always peaceful here, never raining, the skies were always blue with various amounts of clouds rolling overhead. The temperature was almost always perfect in the Heavenly Planes. The motherly Amaterasu who loved all of her children was not immune to moments of frustration and sadness herself thus temperature would rise and fall varying on her mood at the current time. Today, however, was different, the temperature was perfect, not to cool and not to warm which meant one thing, the Goddess of the Sun was very happy.

The reason for her heightened joy and slight anticipation lay in the arrival of a very special guest for the not only the Shinto Trinity but the faction as a whole. After seventeen years of patiently waiting for the son of Isshin Shiba and heir to the Shiba Clan, not to mention Amaterasu's favourite young hero, Ichigo Kurosaki was coming to the planes to finally meet her and hopefully usher in a new era of peace for the supernatural worlds.

She had first met his father Isshin when she did the one thing she was never supposed to, she left the Heavenly Planes and entered the mortal realm to use her powers for the purpose of cheating death. On that rainy June night eight years ago Ichigo Kurosaki was supposed to die along with his mother, but something called out to the Goddess of the Sun, the mother of the Nihon-jin, in the depths of her soul something screamed at her that this young boy with a bright smile and hair like the sun could not die, it was not yet his time.

Isshin was of course eternally grateful to her, he'd lost his wife that night and was seconds away from losing his only son too, he promised her that if there was anything he could do to thank her, he would. She was blunt with him in stating that when Ichigo had aged some she wished to meet him face to face, they would know when the time had come but she made it clear that she would not rush it.

Part of it was simply because she wished to see what kind of man he would become in the future, the boy she had saved, sure she could watch over him from above, and she would, but there was nothing quite like meeting someone face to facing and laying everything to bear. That was only half of it, however, the other part of her knew that when the time finally came in which Ichigo would step foot onto the Heavenly Planes she would ask him to carry yet another heavy burden on his already weighted shoulders.

She would ask him to be the Shinto's connection the rest of the supernatural once more, for far too long they had kept to themselves and it was time that changed. Tensions between the factions of the world were grower ever higher, teetering dangerously on the point of breaking out in a war which would shape this universe none for the better. With the re-emergence of the Infinite Dragon God it was about time the Shinto stepped back into things and helped in the efforts of bringing peace between the pantheons and forging an alliance that could fend off any threat to the peace currently holding the world, be they Man or God.

And perhaps it was a bit petty of her but she also wanted to send Ichigo down there to curb the Devils ever-growing arrogance before it could grow any further, though honestly, her patience had already thinned to dangerous levels. She had been gracious in granting the Devils permission to use her land of Japan to set up their little 'territories' as they called it, the only condition being that they had to follow certain guidelines as to ensure her children's safety.

Now, however, those territories had simply become areas where their arrogant and naive children could live and experience a human life all while believing themselves to be the rulers of that land and doing whatever the hell they pleased on it. Well no more.

For hopes of peace the Goddess of the Sun really didn't want to terminate their deal with them and essentially give them the boot but they as well as the Fallen Angels were pushing their luck just a little too far. Their behaviour was unacceptable and she would be lying if she said she didn't wish for Ichigo to verbally or physically if need be put them back in their place.

A devious smile crept onto her face as she thought of all the possibilities the future might hold.

~ Unknown Location.

'Typical Urahara, never explains what he's doing and just does it,' Ichigo mused as he stood in an unending darkness. When the Urahara Shop vanished and he could once more feel solid ground beneath his feet he opened his eyes to see nothing, just an endless void that reminded him way too much of a Garganta for his liking, all that was missing was the blue reishi path beneath his feet and it would be exactly the same. This, however, was not a Garganta, and there was no reishi path beneath his feet, just a single golden archway that stood proudly in the distance providing the only source of light in this otherwise black world.

That was the goal he'd been trying to reach for the last few minutes or so, just aimlessly walking towards the gate that he assumed – hoped – would take him to where he needed to be, some unknown world with an unknown woman who wished to meet him and could potentially answer all of the questions he had.

What would he want to ask though? He wanted to learn more about everything else that existed, of that he was sure, his curiosity had long since been peaked. Another big question would be why the hell she wanted to meet him of all people, asides from being a freak of nature who was born a mix of Shinigami, Hollow, and Quincy, there wasn't really anything too special about him.

But, he supposed such question would be answered when they met, for now, he had some walking to do.

Upon finally reaching his destination he studied it briefly, sure it didn't seem dangerous at first glance but Urahara was involved in this and that always meant risks. Tentatively he rose his hand and stretched out his index finger lightly touching the flat golden doorway causing a small rippling effect to roll out from the point of contact. He waited for the surface to calm once more before reaching out again, this time becoming more daring and pushing his hand and arm through the golden surface up till his elbow, letting a couple seconds pass once more he retracted his arm and further scrutinized the gate.

'Well even if there is a danger on the other side it'll still beat standing around in this creepy place any longer.' With his decision made he sighed and stepped forwards, his body passing through the gate into the unknown.

He quickly became alerted to the fact that the marble bridge he stood on while beautiful in design was floating over nothingness, as too was the immensely large mass of land laid out before him, no matter how much he concentrated he couldn't see how far it stretched in either direction.

Glancing back ahead he could see mountains off in the distance, rolling hills and lush forests that blocked out most of the scenery from his sight. One plus from his scouting so far was a set of houses he'd spotted just peaking through the trees a tad bit northwest from the bridge, hopefully, there would be someone there that could give him a bit of information concerning where he was and more importantly who he was supposed to be meeting.

It took him a little longer than expected to reach his destination although his less than brisk pace could be to blame for that. It was hard to rush through this place where there was so much beauty for him to look at. It was so peaceful here, it reminded him a lot of the Soul Society and the times when Rukia and himself would go out exploring the forests of Rukongai. The temperature here was perfect, it along with the slight breeze brushing across his skin was comforting and really set his soul at ease. The sounds of birds chirping echoed through the forests and every once in a while he would catch a glimpse of an animal darting by or eyeing him from the shadows, oddly enough they were usually foxes he saw.

Upon finally arriving at the village he noted that it was quite large in size with many people each going about their daily lives, some of them spared him a small glance and others outright stared though he couldn't blame them, his orange hair, white, v-neck shirt and black jeans were a far cry from their Yukata's and more traditional Kimono. One glaring fact that he noticed about all the people before him be they man or woman, adult or child, one trait that they all seemed to share with each other were the two fluffy fox ears on their heads and a tail to match.

"Welcome to Takama-ga-hara, Shiba-sama, we have been expecting you." A small voice spoke up from beside him, startling him slightly. The voice came from a relatively short girl with shoulder length brown hair, green eyes, and a light dusting of pink on her cheeks. She wore a white Yukata with pink cherry blossoms and petals dotted all over it which was secured at her waist by a red Obi. After studying her for a moment he noticed that much like everyone else he'd seen so far she too had a pair of ears atop her head and a tail swaying softly behind her.

It was then that he actually realized what the girl had said, "Wait, Takama-ga-hara?" she nodded, "As in the high plains of Heaven and the home of the Shinto Trinity?" Seeing her nod once more he could only look dumbly out over the land as the realization of his current situation hit him, "I thought this was all a myth..." he breathed out a few seconds later, voice barely above a whisper.

She nodded again, "It's understandable for you to think as such however I can assure you they are very real, as are most other things you would likely consider to be myths." After watching him survey the land for a short while longer she spoke up again not having any more time to spare. "I apologize for rushing you Shiba-sama but I was sent here to escort you to your meeting with Lady Amaterasu and while you were granted some leeway I don't think we should keep her waiting for too long."

There was a short pause before his composure slipped and his voice rang out, "I'm here to meet the Goddess of the Sun?!" He shouted, rounding on the short girl with wide eyes. He couldn't believe it, Urahara couldn't have given him a small hint or something? He understood why the man couldn't go around using that name freely but come on, not even a heads up that he was meeting someone really important? "Oi, and whats with this Shiba-sama nonsense? I'm not a noble so just Ichigo is fine."

"Unacceptable, Shiba-sama. Shiba-sama is the son of Isshin Shiba and the rightful heir to the Shiba Clan which holds an elite spot even among the other five great noble houses of the Soul Society, I must address Shiba-sama with all of the respect that Shiba-sama deserves." She finished turning away from him and facing down one of the paths which led away from the village and deeper into the planes of Takama-ga-hara.

Ichigo's eyebrow was twitching rapidly as his annoyance peaked, only further being stirred by the fact that he was damn sure he'd seen a smirk on the corner of her lips as she turned away, "Tch, whatever," he grunted out with a small pout, "What's your name then?"

"Its Ayame, Shiba-sama," she replied still facing away from him no doubt still hiding her little grin. After briefly listening to him mumble curses to himself she stepped forwards and started down the pathway into the forests knowing that the tall teenager would be following shortly behind her.

Neither spoke as they walked as both were comfortable with the silence around them, he could see her stealing glances at him occasionally but it didn't really bother him. His mind was far too preoccupied with inspecting the lands around them, no matter how much he saw of it he couldn't get over the sheer beauty of this place. Eventually, they did reach something which drew his attention away from the landscape around him, an incredible multi-storied shrine of sharp brown's, vibrant reds and gold which shone as bright as the sun decorating it.

"That is the shrine of the Shinto Trinity Shiba-sama. Amaterasu the Goddess of the Sun, Tsukuyomi the God of the Moon, and Susanoo the God of the Sea and Storms," she informed, noticing the former Shinigami's awe-filled and curious stare.

Ichigo hummed in acknowledgement of her words but kept his gaze on the elegant building, "Is that where we're going then?"

Ayame's hair swayed softly as she shook her head in the negative, "No, we are currently headed towards Lady Amaterasu's manor." In the corner of her eye, she noticed Ichigo's own eyes briefly widen before setting themselves back to normal though that was all the reaction he gave, instead choosing to continue their walk in silence.

It took another twenty or so moments after reaching and passing the shrine for them to reach their final destination, the home of the Goddess of the Sun. The young man assumed that they must've had another more efficient way of travel than walking around everywhere as this was quite the distance to travel, perhaps they had something similar to Shunpo? Or hell, maybe they could just outright teleport themselves, he wouldn't be at all surprised anymore if it was possible now that the existence of Gods had been confirmed.

As for the manor itself? It was as ridiculously big as one would expect from the Goddess of the Sun. He wouldn't tell the man in person but truthfully Byakuya's house wasn't looking so grand anymore.

"This is the home of our Lady, please follow me inside," she piped up beside him before stepping through the gates.

It was a beautiful property, as they walked along the porch he could see neatly trimmed hedges lining each of the pathways which weaved through her vast courtyard and gardens. There were three ponds he could see from his vantage point, the one in the centre of her garden is much larger than the other two, the surface of its water decorated with fallen petals from the cherry blossom tree which stood proudly over it.

When the garden vanished from sight now being hidden by the inner walls of the home he shifted his attention back forwards and paid attention to the rout he was taking through the winding halls of this place. It didn't take long for him to really start appreciating having Ayame as his guide. Without his powers and furthermore his ability to sense reiatsu he would get completely lost in here without her as everything around him looked exactly the same. He was pleased to finally see some variation when they came upon two large sliding doors, one guard perched on each side of the entrance way.

It was odd, during his whole walk through the manor he hadn't seen any other guards stationed like these two, hell not even the entrance to the grounds had any stationed guards. So it was weird that there were some here yet nowhere else, perhaps because the Goddess of the Sun was just on the other side of those two thin doors? Then again, if he had to take a guess at anyone who could protect themselves it would be a God, so perhaps this was just a formality, or maybe there was something deeper to it, a hidden purpose? He couldn't say.

"She is just beyond these doors Ichigo-sama, head in when you are ready."

"ah, thank you Ayame," he nodded giving her a genuine smile at the use of his actual name, sure she kept the honorific but at the very least it was better than Shiba-sama.

With a smile of her own and a slight bow, she turned on her heal and started back down the hallway which they came. Turning back towards the doors he slowly started to slide them open, carefully peaking inside the room with every new inch that was exposed to him, honestly, he was really nervous. The room was fairly large with polished wooden floors, white walls and a small ground level throne which reminded him a lot of Kukaku sat against the far wall partially hidden by a low wooden table with cushions laid out around it.

The most shocking things about the room, however, was the woman inside of it, she was beautiful, divine, and for the first time in his life, he'd found his breath had been taken away. Long strands of ebony hair fell down her back contrasting beautifully with her porcelain skin, thin pink lips were set into a warm and alluring smile and long eyelashes framed her vibrant golden eyes which looked as if they were burning with the fire of the sun itself. She was dressed in a red kimono decorated with golden suns which hugged her generous figure, it had long sleeves that covered her hands and was held together with a yellowish golden Obi that reminded him of his own Hollow eyes.

He quickly noted that he was staring at her, much to his embarrassment and her amusement he could feel his cheeks heating up quite quickly the longer he gazed at her, and soon enough he found it hard to meet her gaze any longer.

"You need not be embarrassed Ichigo-kun," she spoke in a melodic tone sending shivers down the teen's spine and soothing his nerves.

Lightly he cleared his throat before bowing slightly and greeting the woman before him, "Hello Lady Amaterasu, it's a pleasure to meet you." Mentally he patted himself on the back, his voice was steady and it came out cleanly however when he noticed a slight frown cross her face he wondered if he had actually messed something up.

"While it's nice to finally see you learning some manners I can't help but think that being polite really doesn't suit you Ichigo-kun, so please be at ease around me." Her tone was teasing and her smile playful which showed that her words weren't meant in a negative way, no, in truth she found his brash and abrasive manors while in the company of 'superiors' to be quite charming.

Outwardly he showed surprise, everyone always told him to be more polite and now that he meets the Goddess of the Sun and actually is, she tells him not to be anymore, though inwardly he was thankful. He hated kissing ass, even if he respected someone he would never beg for something. "Well if you're sure.." he replied finally, taking her words to heart and sitting down on the cushion across from her.

Her warm smile from earlier came back which made him happy, he couldn't understand why but he had an unnatural desire to make this woman before him smile, to make her proud of him, it was odd.

For the first couple of moments both of them just sat there gazing at each other, both content with trying to read into the others thoughts, though after enough time passed Amaterasu spoke first and took a more direct approach. "What is on your mind Ichigo? What are you thinking.."

It was a simple answer, "I'm wondering why the Goddess of the Sun wanted to meet me of all people."

"Straight to the point, very well," she nodded in acceptance. I have watched over you since you were born, I knew from the very beginning that you would be special and no, not because of your heritage either. I knew that someday you would become an incredible man who would inspire all others around him and I was right." The genuinity in her tone brought a flush to his cheeks, the young teen couldn't help the reaction he was having, it felt as if he was being praised by his very own mother.

"Then how do Urahara-san and my Oyaji know you then? It was pretty obvious with how they spoke about it that not many people know you exist, not to mention everything else out there as well."

"On the night your mother passed away you were supposed to die with her," she began bluntly causing Ichigo to stiffen in shock. "However I could not let such a thing happen and thus I left Takama-ga-hara and entered the mortal plain, an action which a God is forbidden from doing all for the purpose of saving your life, it was then that I met your father.

As for your shopkeeper friend, he has quite the habit of sticking his nose into places where it doesn't belong. But, I supposed it's to be expected for a scientist of his calibre, the man is far too smart for his own good."

As she finished giving her reply her voice held a slight tone of annoyance whilst speaking of Urahara, something which Ichigo would have found quite amusing had he not just been told that without this woman he would currently be dead. How was he supposed to react? How could he ever repay her? What could a powerless former Shinigami do for the Goddess of the Sun?

"Thank you. I don't know if I'll ever be able to repay you for saving me," he spoke truthfully, Ichigo wasn't one for theatrics nor was he the type to throw around thank you's and praises without reason so he just hoped she could tell the genuine gratitude he had.

She merely scoffed and wove her arm in a dismissive manner, "Don't be silly Ichigo-kun, you have already repaid me by growing up to be such a strong and kind-hearted young man, and lets not forget the many times you have already fought with your life on the line to protect the Soul Society and the human world. I would never demand anything of you, and in truth, it is I who owes you for all that you have done."

The young teen merely nodded his head in response, he understood that nothing he could say would be able to change her mind and so, for now, he would just let it go, besides there was something on his mind that he really wished to ask about. "I understand now that there is far more to the world than Shinigami, Hollow, and Quincy, but how is it that so few know this fact? Surely the different races would bump into each other eventually, right?

"Good question, and one that would be true under normal circumstances however your world is merely a fake created with the likeness of the true earth to hide the balancer's of souls from those who would disrupt their work. It is an alternate version existing in parallel to the true world.

Even if you were aware of the existence of other supernatural races without the correct knowledge on how to cross the threshold it will do you little good as you would never be able to find them. More so, unless you are a divine being you much have my blessing to be able to step through the barrier.

"A fake?!" He couldn't believe what he was hearing, to hear the world that he grew up in, had friends and family in was nothing more than a fake created with a likeness to the original was a little unsettling if he was honest. "How is that even possible?"

"This is a world of Gods, Ichigo, I am the Goddess of the Sun and with my two brothers Tsukuyomi and Susanoo we complete the Trinity, something like creating a new dimension is a simple task for us in that state."

He held an incredulous look on his face, creating a dimension was a simple task? It really put into perspective how small he actually was, even at the height of his power, the Final Getsuga Tenshou, how insignificant would he be against this woman before him? He really didn't want to find out.

Letting his mind fall back to the task at hand he proposed another question which had been pecking at his mind, "I get the importance of balance and all but isn't that a bit excessive? Creating a whole new dimension just to hide the Shinigami, surely they can defend themselves? Isn't Jii-san supposed to be the strongest Shinigami alive?" Even as he said this he couldn't help but doubt his own words as memories came flooding into his mind showing all the times that the Shinigami couldn't protect themselves and he had to step in and do so for them.

He was wrought from his memories by Amaterasu's melodic laughter, "Yes, 'gramps' as you call him is indeed powerful, frighteningly so, there is only one Shinigami who could hope to defeat him and that is merely due to his Zanpakuto's abilities and not his power itself, that isn't to say he is weak but in terms of raw power Shigekuni is.. something that common sense can't really explain."

Shaking her head lightly she regained her original train of thought, "The problem Ichigo-kun, lies not with the Shinigami's strength and ability to protect themselves but instead with everything else which exists in the true world. There are many others who would like to accomplish what Sosuke Aizen could not."

Ichigo grimaced at the thought, 'I'd rather not have to see another Aizen so soon.'

"Have you never wondered why the Shinigami and Hollow go unseen by human eyes yet the Quincy who also possess spiritual powers of their own are able to live as regular mortals in the human realm, seen by all? It's because they were never meant to co-exist with the Shinigami and Hollow, they originate from the true world, but their King and the first Quincy coveted the throne of the Soul King and thus found a way to cross over.

T'was nearly a thousand years ago now that the Quincy armies marched onto the planes of the Soul Society, as you can guess they lost but it was far too close a battle for my liking. If the Shinigami did not have Shigekuni leading them, they would have most definitely lost that war."

"But how did he cross over? You said that one needed to either be divine or blessed by you to do so."

The Goddess of the Sun's mouth twisted downwards in distaste as she mulled over his question, "The Quincy King, a man known as Yhwach, is a unique exception to the rule due to his nature and circumstances for being born. To say he is the Soul King's son wouldn't quite be right as they were originally one in the same being.

The Soul King was a God, an immensely powerful one too due to the ability he possessed. Precognition, by itself it is a frightening ability however his was twisted, not only could he see the future but he could immediately understand anything seen in the visions as well, and that isn't all.

Imagine that all of the different flows of time are grains of sand, each one possessing an alternate reality to our own, his power, Ichigo, is to simultaneously see each of those grains of sand and 'jump' to them, changing our current timeline as he wishes, such as instantly destroying a Shinigami's Bankai or infinitely erasing his own death from ever happening.

The former Shinigami was overwhelmed by what he'd just heard. Amaterasu had just said this was a world of Gods and that making dimensions was a simple task, but to hear that such a broken ability existed was hard to grasp. He just couldn't imagine it, releasing his Bankai during a fight and then having the blade suddenly snap in two? It was a ridiculous notion.

After giving Ichigo a couple moments to sort his thoughts the Goddess of the Sun continued from where she left off, "The Soul King fully understood the magnitude of his power and he understood how dangerous it would be if it continued to exist, thus he split himself along with his power and created Yhwach. Both of them possess the ability to see the future and understand everything within it however now neither can change it to suit their needs.

Yhwach, of course, deemed this as unacceptable and immediately set out to reabsorb his father and regain their true power this time with him controlling it. Immediately I recognized the danger that would come if such a thing were to be allowed and so I reached out to the Soul King and offered him the position of regulator for the souls. If he were to accept, he would be safe from his son in another dimension with an army of Shinigami to protect him should Yhwach somehow find his way into the Soul Society."

"I'm guessing that the Shinigami don't know that part of the story?"

"Of course not," she replied with a shake of her head. "Sometimes it's best if you don't give all the details, instead tell them simply that there is something they must protect no matter the cost."

A couple of moments passed in silence before a light sigh escaped the teen. "Y'know, this is a lot to take in, putting aside the fact that I'm in Takama-ga-hara talking with one of the Shinto Trinity with the knowledge that Dragons, Angels, Fallen Angels, Devils, Kitsune and who knows what else exists out there, now I learn that the history between the Shinigami and Quincy go far deeper than I could ever imagine. It's just a lot to take in," He breathed out, tone relaxed and somewhat distant.

He wasn't complaining about all this knowledge being pushed onto him, in fact, he was happy as he had a thirst for knowledge but it was quite simply a lot to take in. These weren't small secrets you shared with a friend in elementary school, these were world-shaking revelations.

That was something that had always pissed him off, everyone just treated him as a naive and dumb child who couldn't understand complicated situations and topics, so they would always unnecessarily dumb down explanations for him. That was one of the reasons he loved spending so much time with his two mentors, they were two of the few people who actually realized his true intelligence and would hold meaningful conversations with him.

It was for that same reason that whenever he went to the Soul Society he would have tea with Kyoraku-san and usually Ukitake-san as well since the two were together so much. Even though he put up such a lazy and uncaring front the man who hid his eyes behind that straw hat was anything but, he was scarily perceptive, analytical, and had seen right through Ichigo the first time they met.

He had been present during one of the Captains meetings after the whole incident with Amagai and the Bakkoto and like usual they were talking to him as if he was a child who couldn't understand what the grownups were saying. Kyoraku had been very quiet the whole time and in truth, Ichigo had forgotten he was even there which was surprising since he wore such an outlandish pink kimono. Though that was one of the things which made him so scary, the ability to seamlessly blend into any situation and analyze everything before acting.

At one point during the meeting, Ichigo's eyes had caught those of Kyoraku's peeking from under the brim of his Sakkat and he'd be lying if he said it didn't put him on guard. In the end it seemed he worried for nothing for after the meeting finished the man approached him with a warm smile and asked if he would like to head back to the Eighth Division for some tea.. well it was actually sake that was offered, but, after much convincing to the man that he was a minor and unable to drink they settled on tea.

So once sat out on a porch at the Eighth Division Barracks with tea and sake in hand he spoke up very bluntly and asked, 'Why do you hide your intelligence from everyone?' It had originally caught him off guard, to say the least, but in the end that was the start of a great friendship.

Pulling himself from his memories he made the shocking discovery that for the past few moments he had been completely ignoring the Goddess of the Sun and judging by the smirk on her face and the twinkle of mischief in her eyes she knew it as well, though thankfully she didn't seem bothered by the fact. "Sorry, I was lost in thought," he mumbled out sheepishly.

"No need for apologies Ichigo-kun, as you said this is a lot to take in."

With a nod of his head, he made the decision that since he'd already been given so much to think of today he might as well just finish it off and ask her the question he'd been holding in since Kisuke told him the things in his dreams were real. "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't curious so could you tell me more about.. well everything?"

"I don't mind however it would take much too long to tell you, so instead how about I show you."

Any confusion which may have stemmed from her statement was quickly blown away when she lifted her arm over the table between them allowing the sleeve of her Kimono to fall back and reveal her dainty hand, pushing down any feelings of embarrassment he reached his own larger, more calloused hand across and grasped hers lightly within his own. 'I really am a prude,' he grumbled inwardly as a blush began warming his cheeks, thankfully before it could get too far his mind went blank and images along with information began assaulting his brain.

The Shinto Trinity of Amaterasu, Tsukuyomi, and Susanoo as well as the Kitsune who call Takama-ga-hara home. The Allfather of the Norse Odin and his two son's Thor and Loki. Sun Wukong the Victorious Fighting Buddha and first Monkey King. The Hindu Trimurti of Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma. Lugh, the Celtic God of War and Aten, the Egyptians own Sun God.

It was frightening to learn that Trihexa, the beast recorded in the book of the apocalypse was real, that discovery led to the Dragon's starting first and foremost with Great Red who much like Trihexa was the Dragon recorded in the book of the apocalypse, a being with complete authority over the dream, the both of them so powerful that if they were to fight everything in this universe would be destroyed.

Only slightly below them was the Infinite Dragon God, Ophis, who much like the other two could end everything on but the slightest of whims.

Next, you have the twin Heavenly Dragons Ddraig and Albion as well as the six Dragon Kings which became five when Tannin the Blaze Meteor Dragon became a Devil for reasons unknown. If that wasn't enough Dragon's for you there are also the eight evil Dragons though some of them aren't alive anymore. Crom Crauch through vigorous training was able to reach and surpass the original strength of a Heavenly Dragon and Apophis and Azi Dahaka weren't too far behind from him.

This was all frightening information to someone like Ichigo who for the majority of his time as a Shinigami believed Aizen was the biggest threat he would ever face. Aizen was nothing more than a spec of dust to some of these beings and it took Ichigo literally everything he had just to weaken the man enough for him to be sealed. Yet now he finds out that there are all these people who could make short work of him even after his Dangai training and he didn't even have any of his powers anymore let alone his Dangai form.

Then the really interesting information came, the Great War between the three factions that have each been decimated to an almost irreparable level, the God of the Bible along with the four original Satan's of Hell had each perished in the war. The Devils had a peerage system which allowed them to reincarnate other beings as Devils to re-bolster their numbers but the Angels had up until recently been pretty screwed and because of that had fallen behind in the power race. Now they had the Brave Saint system which was modelled after the Peerage system which allowed them to reincarnate people as Angels, however, their system was much more strict and thus even though they could perform reincarnations it was much harder for them to find worthy people than it was for the Devils.

This was troubling for Ichigo, he had nothing against the Devil's per say as he'd never actually met one but having a balance between the Angels and Devils was something that just seemed really important on a base level and currently there wasn't. The Fallen Angels, while low in number weren't in too dire of a situation as they took in anyone from any race, as such their numbers would replenish easily enough over time.

The Devils's four Satan's were now titles to be earned and not actually inherited through bloodline, two of their current four were also Super Devils which put them on far different levels compared to the rest and while Heaven couldn't replace the God of the Bible they still had their original ten Seraph and four Great Seraph. Out of everything shown to him the thing which interested him the most was the sacred gear system created by the God of the Bible which allowed humans to have a better chance of fighting for themselves and protecting themselves against the other races.

It reminded him a lot of the Zanpakuto considering they each had the possibility of gaining a released state called the 'Balance Breaker.' There were many low tiered ones, however, there were also the 13 Longinus named after the True Longinus, each of these 13 weapons held the potential to kill a God and two of them actually held the souls of the twin Heavenly Dragons.

When the images finally stopped he experienced a brief moment of excruciating pain throughout his head, though it was to be expected considering all the information he just had forced into his brain in an instant. So deep in thought he was that he didn't even notice the curious smirk Amaterasu was sending his way, when he did notice and was about to ask what was so funny she simply glanced at their still joined hands which had remained as such even though the flood of information had stopped a good couple minutes ago.

He quickly retracted it after that and refused to meet the gaze of the woman before him due to his embarrassment, though it lessened slightly when the sound of her laughter reached his ears.

"My, my! You really are a prude, Ichigo-kun," she teased, though inwardly she was smiling. She knew he wasn't really a prude, he was just a good man who respected woman completely, there weren't many true gentlemen around like him anymore and so it just solidified it all the more that she made the right decision when she saved him all those years ago.

When he left the room Ayame was already there waiting for him and thankfully still calling him Ichigo even if there was that annoying suffix at the end, though he'd pretty much figured she was only doing it to bug him. As she had earlier she was stealing glances in his direction as they walked, a darker shade of pink tinged her cheeks the further along they got. It would be a lie if Ichigo said he didn't know what was up, he'd been told many times by many women be they human or Shinigami that he was attractive. And, despite what they all thought he wasn't actually dense, he merely played the part to avoid romantic situations. It wasn't that he was scared of romance he just didn't particularly have an interest in it, he was always too busy.

After winding his way throughout more hallways than seemed conventional they reached the dining room where he quickly noticed the gargantuan amounts of food that were stacked on the long table before him, one chair at the end was already slightly pulled out with a waiter behind it obviously waiting for Ichigo to take his seat. As soon as the smell hit his nose he couldn't help but dig in, he tried to be humble and hold manners but the more he ate the hungrier he got and the faster he felt the need to scarf the food down, he couldn't control himself.

By the time he was finished he'd eaten enough to make himself explode a few times over and honestly he was quite embarrassed with himself. None of the staff around him so much as batted an eye so maybe it was normal in this part of the supernatural to eat so much? He didn't know but he was definitely thankful for their lack of reaction.

After the incredible meal, Ayame was once more there to escort him, though this time it was to the baths and he could tell right away that something was up. Ayame had told him since it was his first time here he needed to follow a special custom which let's be honest was a total load of crap, however, he didn't sense any hostilities from her nor anyone else and thus decided to play along.

First, she got him to soak for about an hour in a relatively normal looking bath, the water was oddly white but with all the steam rising from the surface he passed it off as maybe a trick of his eyes, the second bath she asked him to enter was when he really became guarded. It was hot, the kind of hot that made you wonder if your skin was going to melt away before your eyes yet it didn't hurt, in fact, it felt incredible. No, the reason this spring gave him pause was the fact its waters were blood red. As with the first he was required to spend an hour soaking in the waters though for what reason he couldn't say, any attempts at questioning Ayame were swiftly deflected and he quickly gave up due to a realization that he wouldn't get anything from the girl.

When he was finally finished and had been escorted to his room the first thing he noticed was how good he felt. It was like his body had been completely reborn. It was a shame it was so late as the headache he'd received from the information transfer was nearly gone after those relaxing baths, but as he lay his head down on the pillow in his futon he realized just how tired he actually was. It was odd, there were many times when he gone through nights only getting a couple hours of sleep at most due to his Shinigami duties or catching up on his backed up homework yet right now it felt like he hadn't slept in years, no matter how hard he fought it his eyes drifted shut and he fell into a peaceful sleep.

When he awoke he was in the tattered remains of a city, most of its buildings had fallen apart or were close to it, the rubble having long since filled the cracked streets below. It looked like this place had been abandoned for so long that if mother nature could have reclaimed it she would have, however, everything was scorched black, embers still illuminating the surface below him releasing the bitter scent of smoke and ash into the air.

Landing on the scorched earth below with a soft crunch he began walking forwards. It was hot in this strange world, excruciatingly so, with every step he took it felt like he could combust any second. An odd sense of nostalgia had taken hold of him, everything there seemed so familiar yet he couldn't put his finger on why. Perhaps if it wasn't all destroyed he would be able to recognize it but alas that possibility was long gone. It also wasn't helping that he'd been too on edge to really concentrate, ever since coming here – wherever here was – he'd felt an odd sense of danger surrounding him, it wasn't directed at him per say and no killing intent accompanied the sense he was getting but it didn't stop him from being any less on edge.

It was only when he spotted a familiar ruined building in front of him and a partially charred sign reading 'Kurosaki Clinic' did realization dawn on him. Not wasting any time he busted into a sprint, reaching what was left of the front of the house and gazing into the charred remnants of his living room.

He was shocked further still when a scene began playing before his eyes. Karin was watching her Saturday morning cartoons and Yuzu was bustling around in the kitchen preparing breakfast, he couldn't hear anything they were saying even though he could see their mouths moving. A second later Yuzu spun on her foot and shouted something towards the door which led to their family clinic and no more than a breath later his idiot of a father came bursting through that same door, a large, goofy smile on his face.

He couldn't help his own smile which slowly made itself known as he watched the scene unfold though something was off, he still didn't know where exactly he was nor why Karakura Town had been completely destroyed upon his arrival when now everything looked to be back to normal.

His body tensed when from the corner of his eye he noticed a dark humanoid shape with glowing veins in the reflection of the window behind him, without hesitating he spun on his heel only to widen his eyes when nothing was actually there. Taking a brief moment to scan the surroundings and finding nothing out of the ordinary he was forced to pass it off as a trick of his imagination, though when he made to turn back towards the building which he called home a shock wave lifted him off his feet and sent him screaming through the air as the Kurosaki Clinic exploded in flames.

The air had been knocked from his lungs, he had minor scrapes and burns all over his body, his eyes refused to focus and there was a terrible ringing in his ears but he didn't care, he had to get up, to get back to his home and see if his sisters and father were alright.

Stumbling around it took him a couple tries to actually regain some semblance of balance but when he did he hobbled over to the burning wreck that lay before him, to steady him further he reached out and grasped onto one of the broken sections of walls, an action he immediately regretted. As soon as he made contact three anguish filled screams tore through the air around him and he was made to stand frozen and watch as flames consumed his family.

With tears running down his cheeks and an agony filled scream of his own as he watched the skin melt from his sister's bones finally his mind gave out and his world went black.

~ A/N:

So there's the end of Chapter 1! I hope you all enjoyed.

If you have any thoughts on the chapter than feel free to leave a review, I'm always looking to improve my writing and so constructive feedback is appreciated. If you have any questions then feel free to message me, I always reply when I can.

- Vertius