Resting her chin in her hands, Miss Ochi grinned, recalling how she’d first put together that Something Was Up with Kurosaki Ichigo. First, there were the sudden bouts of class-skipping; though his grades hadn’t slipped, by dint of what heroic effort she could only imagine. Then, and almost concurrently, came the sudden rash of unexplained scratches and bruises… and one quiet, grim-faced Kurosaki joining Chad in his daily kenjutsu instruction.
A physician-alchemist’s son, taking up sword-training. And he was good at it.
Yet somehow, carefully, never too good. Mr. Kagine had been overheard to swear Kurosaki was deliberately flubbing some of the moves. Just enough to keep him from any consideration for the competitive team roster. Not that he ought to be on it in the first place, Kagine would hastily add; what swordsman in his right mind wanted to fight without armor?
“Sword-sages do,” Miss Ochi had informed him cheerfully, having run into a few of those rare and closed-mouth swordmasters in her decades of wandering worlds and planes. Decades most of her fellow teachers didn’t even suspect; knowing some very odd alchemists was handy for many, many things. Potions of longevity, for one. “Oh, and some duskblades, and every once in a while you run into a really strange sorcerer-”
Which always made them stop listening right there. Kurosaki didn’t have sorcery. He’d been tested. Thoroughly. Over his father’s strident objections.
Very interesting, those. Most people thought highly of having a sorcerer in the family; it was almost certain proof of dragon blood in their lineage, and so a connection, however tenuous, to the noble creatures that ruled all of Yamato.
Kurosaki Isshin, however, was not impressed by sorcerers. Or nobles. Or even dragons. He was what he was, a healer who treated the patients who came his way, and until three months ago, Ichigo had had every declared intention of following in his father’s footsteps.
Not anymore. Though he doesn’t know it yet.