Hello there, and I know it might be a bit of a surprise to see a brand-new ByaRuki fic from me (and an AU again). :) I have been really busy, the bad things still keep coming... but I'm coping (I thank you all for the well wishes, seriously!). I haven't done much writing for Demons because it would require a lot of time and planning so I just let that slip for now.

But then I love to scribble random things and just this morning, I was watching this video on an old Chinese series I used to watch when I was a kid (good times...) And somehow, a feudal era ByaRuki plot just constructed itself in my head and I found myself writing for a bit after that and I just thought to upload it anyway. It was really easy to write, I did not strain my brain or hand much... but I do hope you enjoy it. And I will be writing Demons and the sequel fic when I have the time. :)

This was written fast as well... so there might be corrections needed.

Cheers. Hope you enjoy. :)

WARNING: ByaRuki AU fic.

DISCLAIMER: I don't own the Bleach series or its characters. But I do own this fic.

The cold wind whipped around the field as the frosty snowflakes fell from the sky. It would have been a pretty sight in winter… if not for the tiny young girl backing away from the advances of a terrifying man.

"You have no money, nothing! Just my bad luck to try and rob a beggar! I should just kill you and be done with it!"

Rukia focused her eyes on the sharp dagger in the man's right hand and whirled around, starting to run. The snow was falling in thick sheets, it was very hard to move. Rukia felt her bare feet sink into the snow but she could not be bothered about the stinging cold, her life mattered more. Or maybe, she should just let this man catch her up… and end her miserable hard life…

'No!' Rukia shook her head. 'I want to live, because I will soon live a better life, a better life than this one!' She chanted the words to herself, words she had been chanting everyday for her eight years of miserable life.

Rukia heard the man crashing in the snow behind her as he chased her, and silently prayed that he was having more trouble than she was moving. She did not turn around as she ran, knowing that the precious few seconds doing so might be enough to cost her her life. She looked down at the ground, hoping that she wasn't going to have any bad luck of running into a ground trap covered by snow.

"OUCH!" Rukia felt herself hit something hard, and fell to the ground. In the few seconds that she had looked down, she had ran into something, probably a tree judging by its firmness. In her confusion, Rukia hurriedly tried to get back up.

"I could say the same for myself."

Rukia looked up in shock at the male voice. The tree that she thought she had ran into… was a boy. A young boy slightly older than herself, with black hair tied up into a ponytail at the back and very piercing grey eyes. He was dressed in thick expensive-looking clothes, with a pale blue scarf around his neck. Looking at him in his comfortable clothes, Rukia felt the harsh coldness sting at her bare arms and legs and her own thin clothes.

"You are missing shoes." The boy spoke again, and Rukia looked back up at him. He had been scrutinizing her as she did him. Rukia hurriedly got up from the ground. She heard the sounds of the man running in the snow in the distance.

"I have to-"

"Are you in trouble?"

Rukia looked back at the boy. He spoke simply, but with an air of authority.

"Y-Yes. That man, behind me… I really have to-"

As if to reinforce her hesitant statement, the man shouted "I WILL KILL YOU, YOU WORTHLESS RAT!"

Rukia turned back to the boy in a panic. She did not have time to feel embarrassed, she was in danger. But the boy was gazing into the distance, looking mildly interested. Then he turned to her.

"How about I help you?"

Rukia's eyes widened, but the boy smiled slightly. "Only if you give me something though."

Rukia immediately became wary. Was this boy also a robber? She cursed her bad luck of running into two robbers, as she took a defensive stance."I… don't have anything to offer."

She did not like the smile on the teenage boy's face, even as the man advanced menacingly on them with the knife. "Have you ever kissed someone before?"

Rukia's eyes widened at the quiet question from the boy. "N-No. W-Why?"

"To be honest, I have been feeling curious about these kisses and other things they talk about between boys and girls. Ikarashi-sensei wouldn't tell me anything about it." The boy continued on, seemingly oblivious to the danger of the situation and appearing completely obnoxious and cool to Rukia as he spoke. "I think it is foolish but for that, I will need to try it myself as evidence. So… can you give me your first kiss in exchange for safety?"

The purple eyes widened but the grey eyes remained calm.

The consent was hesitant in the girls' quivery voice. "O-Okay."

Everything that happened next was a blur. Rukia saw the ghost of a smile cross the boy's lips as he turned. The next second, there was a flash of grey steel and a strangled cry before Rukia watch the man collapse to the snowy ground, clutching his bloodied leg where his dagger jutted out from the knee.

She was unable to take her eyes off the red patch of blood on the snow… until she realized the mysterious boy was standing right in front of her again. She lifted her head up and noted again how misty and beautiful his grey eyes were.

And then he was bending toward her. He did not even wait, did not even give her any signal that he was about to do anything. The boy bent downward easily and confidently, with an air of proprietary that he was well within his rights to do anything, that he owned everything in the cold, open field.

Rukia could only watch as those grey eyes come closer and closer to hers, as her heart raced madly. Even if she had the willpower, she could not have forced her feet to move. It was almost as if those eyes were hypnotizing her, holding her in place even if his arms were not. It was his air of command, that aura of possession… and it took her breath away, immobilized her.

She had never kissed any boy before, or even had romantic feelings for one. That was very far from her mind, especially when she had to scavenge for food everyday with no home or family to go back to. Rukia did not even know what was she supposed to do. Was she just supposed to stand there? What would happen when this boy kissed her? Would it hurt?

Their noses were almost touching now… she could count the lashes at the edges of his beautiful eyes. Slowly, she watched as his eyelids lowered slightly, and she did the same…


Both boy and girl broke apart in surprise. Rukia heard him curse slightly under his breath and caught a single disgruntled word of 'Evidence'. Both of them watched as a fat man appeared, running toward them.

"You." Rukia turned in surprise when she heard the boy's voice. He was now wrapping his scarf securely around his neck. "You will keep your promise."

"W-What do you mean?"

"My servant is here to fetch me now… and I refuse to let him on that I am gathering evidence about these foolish things. So I will take my leave now, but you are to keep your promise."


The boy gave her an annoyed look. "You are a lot denser than you look. I am talking about the kiss, your first kiss that you promised me." A small smirk crossed the boy's lips. Then, he reached into his coat pocket before taking out a piece of jade amulet. He took Rukia's hand and placed the amulet into it. "This will serve as a mark of your identity, I will return to claim it someday. And until then… you will keep your lips untainted. If we meet in future and I find out that you have broken it, I will kill you. Everyone should keep their promises… because it shows how much they value their own pride." The boy gave her a snobbish expression.

"And you better get out of here, before the bastard starts moving again. If not, you might as well be dead… for all I care."

"Stop, you pest!"

Rukia breathed fast as she dodged the numerous stalls along the roadside, her agile legs making a lot of progress on the dirt ground. They would not be able to catch her. She felt a mischievous smile grace her lips as she leapt easily over a cart carrying baskets of fruit, tightening her hands over the bag of bread… her dinner.

Rukia rounded a corner, stopping short when she caught sight of three men who had just appeared at the end of the alley.

"There she is! Catch her!"


Rukia backed away from the alley and took off down one of the narrower lanes. This was her playing ground, they would never be able to track her down. She knew every crook and turn in this marketplace, and could easily lose any angry stall owner without trouble.

"You pest!" Rukia noticed another pack of men coming down the alleys ahead and took another right turn. It seemed that the shopkeeper this time was more furious than usual, judging by the amount of men he had sent after her.

More men up ahead.

Rukia looked around the vicinity and saw a small teahouse in the corner. It was going to be a first time, but she would take a chance between this and a beating. Rukia dashed through the curtained entrance of the shop.

The warm and delicious scent of fresh tea engulfed her senses as she stepped into the shop. It was noisy and crowded, and a very good place for camouflage. Rukia heard the men starting to come in through the front of the shop and she hurriedly walked down between the tables before sliding into an empty seat of an occupied table.

Now, she could only pray that the occupants did not give her away before she made her escape. Chances were slim… but she had to try.

Rukia chanced a look at the person sitting opposite her, and found herself looking into surprised brown eyes. She stared at the man in front of her, noting how strange the orange hair jutted out in spikes and how the Imperial plaque dangled from his sword on the table.

Oh my God. Oh… my God.

Of all the tables she had chosen, it just had to be one of a royal officer. Rukia hurriedly plastered a strickened expression on her face.

"Please… please don't give me away, Sir! They are taking me away… to be forced to be married to their young master!" She did not bother pointing out that dressed in rags, she was hardly any man's choice for a bride.

The man, who had appeared momentarily shocked, reached for his sword on the table. Rukia stiffened slightly, her senses immediately going into overdrive. If he had seen through her bluff and was going to cut her down, she would dodge and jump through the window. But then he spoke the word, "Go."

Rukia could not help the grateful smile that formed on her lips. "Arigato."

The man smiled at her as he rose from the table. "Take the back entrance. I will cover for you."

"Arigato! I will always remember your kindness for saving me from this forced marriage!" Rukia started to inch toward the exit.

"There she is!" The furious men spotted her easily, but the orange-haired man stepped in front of the group as he unsheathed his sword. Rukia hurried toward the exit.

"It seems a little barbaric to send twenty men after a young girl who just stole some bread, don't you think?"

Rukia froze as she heard the words. She turned around in surprise in time to see the man wink slightly at her. Their eyes locked... and then she hurried out of the shop.




That was every name she had been called before in her life.

Rukia peeled a piece of bread and put it into her mouth, as she lay down on the makeshift bed of cloth and rags. No one had ever called her beautiful before or even had anything nice to say to her, and she would never hope for such lofty dreams.

She refused to cry, because she had finished crying so many years ago. Rukia was an orphan as long as she could remember and as soon as she could think, she had been running from bullies her whole life. She had no money, no home, no family. And so, she grew up stealing or scavenging food from leftovers of other people. She lived in any place she could find and make into a decent temporary home with the help of rags, blankets and sticks.

She was all alone and while the reality pained her so much, she had learned to deal with it over the years. She would still peek into restaurants and gaze longingly at families laughing and eating together, she would still come back all alone to her little holed-up corner in an abandoned building and weep for an hour. But it was getting better… she was getting stronger, and learned never to depend on others. She was now eighteen and if the whole world was against her, she would take it all down, as she had always done.

Rukia folded up the paper bag of bread, keeping the rest of it for tomorrow. She pushed the sleeves of her torn shirt up, exposing multiple bruises along the arm. The small figure huddled down along one blackened wall to nurse her wounds, both seen and unseen.

Tonight, she did not cry.

"Drowned. How ironic… in the Fountain of Everlasting Life." The delicate fingers dipped into the clear water and retrieved a wet embroidered handkerchief before lifting it up. The long, glossy indigo hair swung as the woman turned to one of the three nervous servants. "Fetch Lady Unohana for me, if you please."

"Hai, Empress Yoruichi."

Yoruichi turned back to the fountain. She stepped forward and closer to the fountain where the water steadily lapped at the edges, almost running over with the additional mass… of a woman's dead body in its depths.

The cat-like eyes of the Empress scanned the perimeter of the fountain, before turning back to the body, where clouds of black hair floated up in the water. The approaching footsteps announced the arrival of the newcomer. Yoruichi did not even turn around.

"Retsu, take a look at this."

The beautiful woman draped in robes of silvery white moved toward the fountain, her long hair secured in an elegant braid at her front. Unohana Retsu stopped beside Yoruichi and peered into the fountain. The dark blue eyes took on a knowing look, one identical to the pair of gold-tinged ones of the Empress.

"A murder." Unohana's voice was soft.

"I suspected the same, even with the suicide note. But as always, we can never find out the perpetrator… not when the Imperial palace is overflowing with so many of them." Yoruichi turned up to the top of the fountain, where the glorious stone dragon statute bared its glowing fireball in the mouth. "It sometimes bothers me that I dine with murderers for company."

Unohana nodded. "You will report this case?"

"Yes… but I believe they will only classify it as suicide." Yoruichi turned away from the fountain, before signaling to a few of the guards who walked off dutifully. Unohana joined her in step. "I still find it ironic that the Ladies still find competition amongst themselves when the Emperor clearly does not favour any."

Unohana sighed softly. "But say, five years behind the palace walls, waiting everyday for a sign of the Emperor with only scheming maids and attendants for company… can drive one crazy sometimes."

Yoruichi closed her eyes slightly. "I agree with that. Then maybe it is a problem that lies with Byakuya-bo… having not summoned a woman for five years now."

Byakuya sat in his chair as he reviewed the report in his hand, ignoring the people around him. This morning, the royal Keeper of the Imperial palace had announced that the witchdoctor from the high mountains had arrived for the annual fortune-telling of the Emperor.

Byakuya found this all very ridiculous. But as the Emperor, he had to set the royal example and abide by the rules as all his predecessors before him. It didn't matter that he thought the witchdoctor had a ridiculous costume or that he thought the old man was actually a long-term fraud, this was all formality and he would go through with it.

Byakuya stifled a yawn as he picked up a new report after he finished with the previous one. This morning, the witchdoctor was going to ask the Gods if it was time for the Imperial palace to be filled with new women again. Byakuya found this a little more annoying than the usual prediction of weather for important events… because it was even more useless than knowing whether rain was going to soak his shoes on a visit to the temple.

A new selection process would mean a total of one hundred women to be moved to the Palace, and Byakuya wasn't all that fond of having it congested. In addition, he found no use for these women who only took up more food and space… as he would never take a look at any of them.

One of the main tasks of an Emperor was to produce heirs to the throne, a task Byakuya deem the only task he had not currently fulfilled in his run as the Supreme ruler of the country. He found it troublesome and very, very annoying especially when his attendants would remark on it with concern.

In his initial years as Emperor, he had been excited to fulfill that part of the duty as Emperor. But after a few months of summoning strangers to his bed without even knowing their name, Byakuya found that side of affair to be very awkward and in his personal opinion, unethical. The women had also all appeared fake and robotic in their speech and movement, and Byakuya felt as if they were only there to leech him of his "dragon seeds" (as his attendants put it). After a few months of trying, the young Emperor found them all very annoying and altogether stopped summoning women to his bedside.

The only woman he currently spared time with was the Empress Yoruichi, but even that was only for small talks or practice combat between friends. Yoruichi had not been a wife chosen by Byakuya himself, rather she had been appointed Empress by the previous Emperor Kuchiki Ginrei due to her high status as a general's daughter. Previously, she was a teacher of sorts for Byakuya in terms of combat, and annoyed him on a daily basis. This had not changed after their marriage, and Byakuya never consummated the relationship with her or even harboured any romantic intentions toward his former teacher. But Byakuya often went to her for advice on state matters, and the two shared a unique bond as comrades.

Byakuya now looked up and watched the crazed antics of the witchdoctor as he danced in the palace hall around a basin of water.

"If the sun falls in the third line… then you get an additional one hundred women at disposal… which you definitely will dispose off without use." Byakuya ignored the grumpy mumbles of his royal attendant Renji next to him and concentrated on the report from a nearby prefecture. He heard the rattling sounds as the witchdoctor started on a new chant with an unknown device.

Abarai Renji was also a close companion of Byakuya's. He had been a young boy plucked off the streets by the young Emperor (then, Crown Prince) during one of the trips down to the village, and had served as his close attendant ever since. Renji was the only person who dared speak casually around the young Emperor (though only in private) and who suffered minimal punishment for doing so. He knew a lot of inner things about Byakuya and was always the one to assist his master in a lot of diverse matters, be it official or not.

"Third line! The third line! The Sun falls in the third line!" The loud yells of the witchdoctor rang in the hall, as the officers present started to clap and nod.

Such an annoying waste of time.

Even as Renji walked down to check the puzzling results and the witchdoctor raised both hands as if in a trance, Byakuya was barely interested in all of the proceedings, only viewing it all as mere nuisance. The young Emperor turned back to his reports and barely looked up even as Renji made the official announcement.

"It is time for the selection of new imperial ladies for the Emperor again."

Right, and that's what I can write for the first chapter. There are already more than a few characters introduced in this initial chapter, besides Byakuya and Rukia. More elaboration will be done for each character as chapters pass... I only managed some for Rukia, Byakuya, Renji and Yoruichi.

There's the mysterious meeting between the boy and girl in the start (cookies if you know who they are - but then, I think I need to give out a lot of cookies then). Rukia's life, Byakuya's life and the life of the women in the palace in general.

I am still toying between the idea of having Hisana in the story as Byakuya's past but haven't decided on it. Either way, the story can work with or without her. Do let me know which one you would prefer, if I choose to develop this fic. And if there are any corrections, please do let me know as well.

Hope you can review this chapter for me, and tell me what you think! :) I welcome feedback, comments/critiques/suggestions. :)