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Tokens and Thralls

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Tessi rubbed his eyes. He, Jinta, and Ururu had been too late to stop things from going horrible.

They knew something was wrong when Ururu had cried out and started back for the tower. Given how she was tied to the wards of the place, Tessai knew something horrible must have happened.

Finding Urahara down, blood pouring from his mouth and nose, was horrible. Seeing what could only be Prince Kurosaki, mutated in some sort of dragon-beast lurking over the blond’s body just made things worse.

If it wasn’t for the twisted tree there as well, he would have made the horrible mistake of thinking Prince Kurosaki had been the cause for Urahara’s injuries.

A spell, fed by the deep wells of power in the tower, managed to knock Prince Kurosaki out before Ururu attacked the creature that had been their guest. Tessai sent her and Jinta to put the prince in one of the secured rooms in the basement, while he worked on Urahara.

The marks of a death curse were all over him, dark red pain laced all over his skin, and Tessai frowned. This was not something he could do on his own.

Reaching up, he pulled loose the token around his neck and snapped it. That would let Yoruichi know that assistance was needed. This would be the first time any of them broke the tokens since they had come to the world of mortals.

Death curses were horrid things. But, thankfully, they didn’t work quite the same on fey as they did on regular mortals. Still, it was a spell he couldn’t pull off on his own. Jinta and Ururu were not trained enough. So he would have to wait for Yoruichi to arrive.

Until then, however, he was able to at least make Urahara comfortable. He, carefully, picked up the other and took him in. The smell of blood made the larger man grimace, and he was already reviewing healing spells. They would be needed once they pulled the worst of the curse off.

There was a shattering sound as he walked up the stairs, and he could feel Yoruichi’s power reaching out. She had come through one of the mirrors. That was good, and he flared his own power back for her to follow. She came running.

“Tessai?” Her tone was high as it carried ahead of her body, worry clear through it. “Urahara?”

“Here,” he called back, setting Urahara down on a bed. It wasn’t Urahara’s bed, just one of the guest chambers. But it had a bath next to it, so easy access to water. Tessai also did not want to climb all the way up the top of the tower.

Yoruichi slid into the room, looking around and then gold eyes locked onto Urahara. “What happened?”

Her shoulders were tight and anger filled her voice. Tessai, moving around her to get water, saw her shift her weight from foot to foot, ready to fight. “We need to pull a death curse off of him.” Tessai’s frown deepened as he spoke. “It appears as if Aizen found them.”

To be fair, Tessai was not sure if it was truly Aizen they were dealing with. The man was not the sort to give his life so easily. Something to talk about with Urahara when the man woke up.

“Ichigo?”

“In the basement.” Tessai returned with a wet cloth and started to wipe away the blood on Urahara’s face. “Aizen’s transformation curse triggered finally.”

That got a scowl from Yoruichi. “We’ll have to fix that,” she muttered. She, like Tessai himself, approved of the young prince in Urahara’s life. He had changed, for the better, after starting a relationship with the young man.

“I’ll get what we need,” the woman finally said. “He’s going to be unbearable until he’s healed.”

Tessai nodded. In that, she definitely was not wrong.

Right now, though, it brought back horrible memories. When they had felt their pursuers from the realm of their birth, Urahara had almost burnt himself out casting spells of confusion while Yoruichi had covered their tracks as Tessai found the path forward.

He could do without relieving those days again.

///

Sagged against Tessai, Urahara looked through the ward that sealed the door to the basement cell. Behind it, the dragon that had been Ichigo was pacing. Steam escaped between teeth that were pointed and Urahara felt his chest twinge hard as there was a snarl in his direction.

Was positive that was more from the fact Ichigo didn’t recognize him than from the fact he had barely recovered from a death curse. There was another thrill of pain and panic through his chest at the noise that escaped Ichigo.

He had woken up from the curse screaming, and Urahara felt it in his throat as he swallowed hard. Was going to have nightmares about this for months. Even now, he felt a cold prickle down his spine at the creature that Ichigo had become. Not because it was Ichigo, but because of what the other had become.

“Let’s go outside,” he said after a moment. He ignored the noise of disapproval from Tessai.

“Why?” came from Yoruichi, who was perched on the stairs back up. “You should be resting.”

Urahara smiled, still tasting blood on his mouth. She was not wrong. “I need to see who it was we caught.” It might have been Aizen. But the man was a master at sleight of hand and illusion. He also was strong. Far stronger than Urahara himself was. There was no way he should have survived a true death curse from someone of Aizen’s magic.

“Either help me outside, or take me to my workroom,” he said, the easy tone he normally used dropping out of his tone. “I need to start working on how to fix that.” A sharp wave at the cell. He had to pause, stifling a cough as the sudden movement.

“You need to rest,” Tessai said. “We were able to repair most of the damage, but only time will heal the rest.”

“And I can heal in my workroom,” Urahara said easily. He studied Tessai, then looked at Yoruichi. Both of them were frowning at him. Which said bad things for his chances of poking at everything he wanted to do. So he changed tacts.

“Yoruichi, would you look at the one outside? I have my doubts, and it may have been one of those poor thralls he managed to wrap in his power.”

He shifted his weight away from Tessai, wobbling a moment. Behind them both, he heard a low rumble from Ichigo, a predecessor of another howl that would shake the tower.

Something else to have nightmares about.

“I,” he said firmly, looking at both of them. “Am going to the workroom.”

Something in his expression told them how serious he was. Tessai moved in again, slipping an arm around Urahara. Yoruichi looked annoyed, then rolled her eyes.

“I always knew you’d be annoying when you fell in love. Nice to see I’m right. Again.”

Then she turned and headed up the stairs.

Well, she wasn't wrong. He did love Ichigo, and he refused to leave him like this for any longer than he had to. Behind him, Ichigo roared, shaking the air.

Barely functional or not, he had things to do, curses to break.