Mirrors on the Water
It would be worthy of pity, had it not amused him so.
Of course, he couldn't rightfully blame them for not noticing. Even though he considered himself a master of illusion, he had put on quite a show for the Soul Society, to their detriment. Such a display hadn't been entirely necessary, but it was better to be overly cautious. Better to be the man who was prepared for every possibility.
Sousuke Aizen considered himself to be that man. Or was that too just an illusion? Did he only appear to think of every possibility long into the night, while it really came to him as naturally and quickly as a breath?
It was a game he thoroughly enjoyed: the guessing game. Being the epitome of mystery and intrigue, it was a game he played often, and one he always won.
He sipped his tea quietly, the usual polite expression of thought settling over his face like a thin porcelain mask, concealing his true nature of darkness and deceit. This was yet another illusion in his grand house of mirrors.
Mirrors were fascinating to him. They held the curious power to distort. When a person gazed into a silvery looking glass, they were always certain that what they saw was the truth, but in that lay a mirror's greatest deception. Perception was a tricky thing with a mirror, and Aizen exploited that to his advantage frequently.
He set the teacup down with a soft click and listened to the cool silence permeating through the still air.
Was it fear of clear perception that people suffered, or was it fear of the pain that comes when the inevitable truth is uncovered?
He was blessed with both talents, to observe things as they were and to control that observation as he saw fit. He had never been dishonest, not in the conventional sense, at least. With the ability to control perceived truth came the power to blur the universally accepted divisions between honesty and lies. Not one Soul Reaper had fully picked up on that until it was far too late. He couldn't be faulted for their ignorance, for their entire lack of clarity, even if it was produced by the distortion he had set upon them.
Even now, it continued, and in his favor.
It had interested him to learn that the hollows and arrancar of Hueco Mundo referred to him as 'the man without fear'. Even the Espada spouted that off with varying degrees of reverence, and it always amused him. For a race driven by raw power, they were riddled with fear, thus they admired-no, worshipped-him for his innate defense against that weakness.
The concept amused him.
Even now, when they had come so far, those lowly creatures still felt that way. How truly inferior of them.
"Admiration is the emotion furthest from understanding."
That much was a fact, but the truth of the matter was that the situation was mingled with fear and respect along with that admiration. It was exactly the way hearts all around the world felt when they were in the presence of a god, which was precisely what he had intended.
He was a god of illusion that saw past all pretense to the very core of every being, every event. He could pierce through every mirror, and he held warped reflections as his weapon, something that was almost impossible to defeat.
He would have laughed, but that would have been unseemly. A mirror, though the reflection was of something warm and comforting, would still remain cool, metallic, and completely unyielding.
Just like reflections of the heart, twisted to serve his own purpose, regardless of the immense pain it would cause. Perhaps it was because of the pain it rendered that he enjoyed this chess game with nothing more than mere pawns on the board.
The chess game had only just begun. A true master of strategy did not reveal his best move prematurely, not if he was wise and well-versed in the arts of bluffing and feinting.
On his way to the largest hall in Las Noches, he stopped short, a door on his right. He opened it quietly and entered the room like a ghost, his white clothes barely making a whisper from his movements. The area was more like a white box than anything. A space had been cleared for a bed and a rug was spread over the floor. Despite the furniture and slight décor, the room remained as it was in the beginning: cold and empty.
Aizen glanced up to the small, barred window built high above the floor. A sliver of the moon shone through, but its beams of light were broken by unfeeling steel.
It was a bedroom prepared as little more than a holding cell. Its inhabitant had not yet arrived.
"Poor child." His voice made mockery of pity and compassion. "Perhaps I shall have a mirror brought in for her, as a gesture of my good will and hospitality." The corners of his mouth twitched in a cruel smirk. Perhaps he would provide one after all, just to watch just how far the beautiful flower would wilt until it finally turned black. Should there be any darkness in her heart, it would play directly into his hands.
"Orihime Inoue," he murmured softly. "Princess of Las Noches, you will be here soon enough, of your own free will." A princess in a cage, and it would not be difficult to bring about.
There was darkness in every soul; no single soul could ever be entirely pure. So long as rage, guilt, sorrow, and jealousy existed, shadows would forever linger in the hearts of the world, haunting every consciousness. While that still held true, he would always remain victorious. He could never be challenged when the one inevitable truth was still in his deck of cards: with light came darkness.
A shard of glass could only endure so much pressure before it eventually snapped in two.
"Shatter, Kyouka Suigetsu," he whispered to his sword, letting its power leak through his surroundings.
Somewhere in the palace of never-ending white, a ray of moonlight bounced off a disc, a mirror floating in a shallow basin of clear water. Just underneath it lay a bruised, drowned flower petal.
Shatter, Orihime Inoue. Ichigo Kurosaki. Soul Society. Karakura Town. All of it, shatter.
Let it all burn.
With a note of finality, the mirror in the water suddenly cracked in two and sank into the basin. He turned away from the window, making his way back to the grand hall, where his audience was waiting for him. A sadistic smile had crept onto his face, devoid of any mercy. There was no need for masks here.
It was the last stage of the game, his very favorite part. It had finally come down to sudden death.
"It is very nearly check," he said, drawing near to his stage. "And mate."
Let the final illusion begin with the drawing of the curtain for the very last act.