Chapter 8 - Escaping the Forest

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Chapter 8 - Escaping the Forest

Post by WarJack on Sun Aug 06, 2017 3:25 pm

- A few days earlier -

A powerful presence ripped through the forest that Jack had resided in for an unknown amount of time. And ‘powerful’ was an understatement. The amount of pressure he felt was titanic in volume.

All consuming, all present and all powerful.

Whoever this is… This is monstrous” Jack thought, as he grit his teeth and attempted to remain standing, as his knees buckled under the sheer weight of the power he was feeling.

He would not kneel.

-

The Octava Espada, Styx, wandered through the undergrowth of the Menos Forest. He’d already collected a sizable number of Hollows for the standing army of Las Noches.

Styx once again unbound some of his stored power, allowing his dense, heavy Reishi to seep through the dank, murky air of the forest, before speaking.

“To any Hollows out there who wish for an objective, a goal. Something to strive towards. Follow me.” The Octava Espada’s enchanting voice pierced through the Menos forest.

“My name is Styx, and I am the Octava Espada serving under my Lord, King Dormammu. Follow me, and I shall be your salvation.”

-

Jack saw the tall, gangly looking man walking calmly through the undergrowth, expertly avoiding the long, spindly arms of the quartz trees that made up the forest.

Behind him trailed a veritable army of Hollows, of all shapes and sizes. The combined power of all these Hollows overwhelmed Jack’s senses, masking any attempt by him to perceive the power of any individuals.

Strangely, none of the Hollows were fighting with each other, instead they were all lumbering calmly through the forest, as if aligned with one purpose.

Getting closer to the large army of Hollows, Jack suddenly heard one call out: “Hey, you! Join us!”

Jack’s attention was grabbed by a tall, gangly Hollow and a shorter, more rounded Hollow. They introduced themselves as Zerorin and Darine, respectively.

The taller of the pair, Zerorin, carried around some kind of bone-bow, which surprised Jack. He’d never seen a Hollow with a weapon beyond their own body before.

Zerorin was also surprisingly fast and agile for a Hollow of his height, and he apparently had the ability to shoot a multitude of green Cero and Bala volleys, using his bow as a medium.

Meanwhile his companion, Darine, was a quiet, soft spoken, but heavily accented Hollow. His large, helmet-shaped Hollow mask with protruding horns, which made him look like a viking, and was the main factor that differentiated him from most Hollows.

Darine was stocky, medium height. Oh, and he had gigantic, bone-plated arms the size of small people.
Seriously. Darine’s body shape was almost comical. Short legs, large upper body, and arms that were jokingly referred to as skyscrapers. Jack wasn’t sure if those spikes were for show or actual combat, and definitely didn’t want to find out.

Jack wasn’t initially sure if he’d stick with the precession that slowly trundled through the forest. Admittedly, this was the most exciting thing to happen in the few short weeks he’d been in the Menos Forest, as he’d learnt it was called.

The thing that swung it for Jack though was the companionship. Everyone he’d encountered thus far on his journey as a Hollow had treated him with fear or scorn. Fear from his prey, scorn from his hunters.

These Hollows however, were chatting like he’d remembered normal Humans did. It was an odd sight to see, but he was thankful to the Octava Espada for bringing them all together.

-

Jack discovered many things during his time marching with the Hollow army. He’d learnt the stages of Hollow evolution; A simple Hollow would evolve into a Menos Grande. After that, the Gillian (as the Menos Grande were also known) would become an Adjuchas.

As it happened, both himself, Zerorin and Darine were all at that stage, the penultimate state of evolution for a Hollow.

The final stage seemed far off, yet so close at the same time. The Vasto Lorde were the pinnacle of Hollow evolution, the final step in the natural Hollow evolution cycle.

But interestingly, it didn’t stop there.

No, some Hollows - such as the Espada - had managed to progress beyond the natural stages of Hollow evolution.

An extremely old Hollow, known simply as Carnage, had pushed the boundaries further than any Hollow before him had done. In a seemingly random act of madness, he’d torn at his mask with all his might, eventually ripping it from his face in a most gruesome manner.

The resulting form became known as an Arrancar. If the natural stages of Hollow evolution were a 4-step straight line, the 5th and final stage of becoming an Arrancar was a diagonal-step forwards.

From what Jack had been told, becoming an Arrancar blurred the lines between Hollow and Shinigami, while allowing the Hollows to summon unfathomable amounts of power to their aid.

In addition, the Arrancar would unlock any remaining blockages on their inner world. This allowed them to access their true, inner self. Their inner Hollows represented their past life, as well as all the power that they had amalgamated thus far in their lives.

A surprising addition to their already advanced arsenal, was the Zanpakutō that materialised by sides upon completion of the Arrancarization process.

Now armed with swords of their own, this meant that the Hollows that had reached the Arrancar stage were finally on an equal, or even greater, footing against the upper echelons of the Shinigami hierarchy: The Captains.

After all, even with their hardened skin - which Jack had learned was called Hierro - fighting against swords wasn’t fun. Having your own sword to block, parry and fight back with was certainly preferable.

Jack had also learnt that the blue essence he saw in his mind and that oozed from his prey when he devoured souls was known as Reishi. And it was a different colour for everyone.

While his own Reishi was a deep blue colour, Zerorin’s Reishi was a dark green colour, and Darine’s Reishi was a bright red colour. Reishi was a representation of power and all attacks and techniques were based off this. Meaning all of Zerorin’s attacks would be green, while all of Darine’s would be red.

He’d also learnt the Shinigami sought to purify souls, while the Hollows devoured and gained strength from them. Naturally, this resulted in a direct conflict of interest and the Hollows were in a constant state of war with the Shinigami.

Another interesting fact he’d noticed was the fact that, while Styx was an immensely powerful Hollow, he didn’t slaughter everything in his immediate vicinity. It had something to do with becoming an Arrancar, Jack was sure, but he hadn’t been given a reason yet.

In fact, Jack didn’t feel the need to attack any of the Hollows in the army that currently marched through the Menos Forest. Perhaps it was the commanding aura or the near overwhelming volume of Reishi that the Espada seemed to exude.

-

After marching for a while, Jack noticed the forest floor started to change slightly, as if they were marching up a gentle incline. He couldn’t see anything up ahead however, as there was a literal sea of black bodies surrounding him.

Questioning his companions appeared to be for nought as well, as they too had been Hollows of the Menos Forest before now, merely surviving for as long as they could.

The forest up ahead appeared to be getting brighter, as if more light was filtering through the canopy.

A few minutes later, Jack noticed the trees were slowly thinning out, and they entered a clearing.

“Welcome, all of you.” A loud, booming voice echoed through the clearing.


“You have come here seeking power and a purpose. Being a Hollow is a lonely life, as you strive for survival on your own, searching desperately for a few to satisfy that hunger that plagues your every waking moment.” Styx, the Octava Espada’s voice was full of passion, as he rose into the air, demonstrating masterful control of his powers.

“My Lord, King Dormammu, rules over Hueco Mundo from his seat of power, Las Noches. Before his time, Hollows were hunted by the Shinigami. Chased all over the Human World and even in our home realm, Hueco Mundo. King Dormammu did what no other Hollow had done, he’d gathered the strongest Hollows he could find and raised an army of Hollows to defend us from the Shinigami.”

The clearing was near silent in response. Jack was listening intently and he knew that his companions were caught on every word that tumbled from the mouth of the powerful Hollow.

“Las Noches sits at the heart of the Hueco Mundo desert. There you shall be protected and allowed to train. Once you arrive at Las Noches, you will be individually picked by an Espada, to serve under them. They will train you and assist you with any needs you may have.” The Octava Espada spoke, gesturing to the army that surrounded him in a semi-circle.

Styx’s face then darkened slightly, as he grew more serious. “However, in return we expect the rules set out to be followed. There will be no killing of any Hollows in Las Noches. The time to hunt your brothers and sisters has passed. You are better than that now. Anyone caught hunting Hollows will be banished from Las Noches.”

Jack shivered slightly, as a wave of pure power rolled over the army, to compliment the powerful warning which the Espada had delivered.

The Octava Espada’s face then lightened. “But I’m sure we won’t have to worry about that now. Onto the next stage then, leaving this depressing forest. As all of you are Adjuchas, you all have the ability to use Sonido, the ability to moving extremely quickly, so fast that it creates a buzzing sound. We will be using Sonido to escape the forest.”

Jack mentally questioned the Espada. While the forest canopy was certainly closer now that it ever had been before, how would they reach that high?

The Octava Espada smiled at the confused sounds coming from his audience. “For those of you that are confused about our destination and how to get there. We are currently residing under a desert.”

Shocked sounds echoed throughout the clearing. They had all seen the sand that slowly seeped through the forest canopy, but had never stopped to consider what could be above them. But the clearings that were interspersed randomly throughout the Menos Forest all seemed to have sand covered floors, where the sand had slipped through the cracks in the foliage above.

Styx raised his hands in an attention-grabbing manner. “Please. Calm yourselves. We will be travelling through a gap in the forest, one that I intend to create momentarily. Then you will focus your Reishi on the ground below your feet and catapult yourselves through the gap in the canopy and into the desert of Hueco Mundo.”

Jack and his companions nodded, although they all seemed very sceptical of what was supposedly about to happen.

The Octava Espada then surprised the crowd of Hollows, by drawing the sword from his waist and cutting his forefinger and middle finger by sliding them down the sharp edge of his Zanpakutō, cutting them open.

Styx then raised his hand towards the sky and began charging a gigantic golden Cero. His voiced echoed throughout the clearing. “Among several other things forbidden within Las Noches, this technique is one of them.” The Espada then roared over the din: “Gran Rey Cero!”

The gigantic Golden Gran Rey Cero began to spin like a razor, as it compressed and decompressed due to its sheer speed and raw power, as it left the Octava Espada’s hand and raced towards the forest canopy high above them.

The attack crashed into the ceiling with immense power. The foliage was immediately obliterated, while the sand above it was glassed.  

“Now then, we have some time before the trees cover the gap. Please make your way to the highest point of the clearing and copy my actions.” Styx said, pointing to where the miniature hill peaked and walking over to it.

“Now, you’ll need to begin pooling your power in your feet.” The Espada spoke, as a visible orange aura spread downward his body to engulf his feet. “Then it’s simply a matter of bending your knees and jumping as hard as you can.”

As the last word left his mouth, the Espada rocketed skywards, so fast that an afterimage was left in his place.

A shout was heard from the hole in the trees above them and as one, all the Hollows in the clearing looked up to see the waving figure of the Espada.

“No time like the present! I expect to see you all come up here, in single file, as quickly as you can!” Styx shouted down at the Hollows below him.

Jack decided he needed to show his worth to the Espada. Signalling for his companions to follow him, Jack pushed his way through the crowd and up to the highest point of the clearing.

Glancing up briefly at the Espada high above him, before looking down at the ground, Jack closed his eyes and focused. He’d jumped before, sure. But not this high.

Fully immersing himself in his own power, Jack felt his Reiatsu permeate the air around him. Focusing that energy into his legs, he gave an almighty roar as he leaped through the air.

Two more roars quickly followed, as Zerorin and Darine followed him through the gap in the canopy.

-

Styx smiled slightly, as the three Hollows crashed into the sand next to him, before standing up and looking around in wonder. “The first of Lord Dormammu’s new army,” he thought to himself.

Leaning over the gap, the Octava Espada shouted down to the remaining Hollows below: “Well, what are you waiting for?”

That seemed to spur the crowd below into action, as several Hollows jockeyed for position on the raised area.

As Hollows began flying through the gap, one after another, Styx thought to himself: “Yes, the next generation of Hollows had arrived.

-

Eventually, the last of the Hollows came travelled to the sands above, just in time, as the gap had gotten slowly smaller and smaller.

Jack and his companions made managed to maintain their position at the front of the new army, as they turned and began a long march in a seemingly random direction.

So this is the true land of Hueco Mundo…” Jack thought to himself, as they traversed the desert that seemed to stretch forever in every direction.

“Does this desert ever end?” “I don’t like sand. It’s coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere.” “Can we drink the cactus juice? I’ve heard it's the quenchiest!” Jack tried to block out the multitudes of chattering voices coming from the Hollows behind them, but it was almost too much.

“Relax, my friend. It seems ve are are nearly at ze destination.”
“It appears Darine is correct; The Octava Espada has stopped.”

The comments from his companions gave him pause, as Jack looked ahead and saw Styx had stopped in the distance.

The Octava Espada had done well, clearing the path for the army by beating back the many predatory Hollows that prowled the sands, Jack admitted to himself. Their army was full of younger, eager Hollows. Naive, inexperienced, but excited to leave the Menos Forest behind.

As they eventually reached Styx at the apex of the large sand dune he was atop, they looked over the other side and were shocked.

“And that, is Las Noches,” spoke Styx, as the army gathered around him. Whispers and chatters quickly carried the message through the army, as the noise increased in volume.

A gigantic, white, stone building stood out among the sands around it. Surrounded by 6 humongous white pillars, and seemingly randomly placed large, red pillars, that stuck out of the sands at odd angles.

“Our new home… It’s magnificent.” Darine and Jack nodded at Zerorin’s words.
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WarJack
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Human

Posts : 41
Join date : 2015-02-13
Age : 22

Character sheet
Name: WarJack
Title: King of Hueco Mundo
Race: Hollow

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