This is the new, edited Chapter One. The storyline itself is intact- I don't plan to mess with it at all throughout the twenty-five existing chapters. The things I'm changing are small things, such as certain descriptions, the way in which some things happen, and some character tweaking, too. For instance, in this chapter, Kenshin was originally faking being rubbish at fighting, and Kaoru had a 'turn your nose up' reaction to that. I've decided that just doesn't fit their characters, so now Kenshin is faking being a mediocre swordsman, but still with the grace and control a true fighter would be unable to hide, and Kaoru finds it hard to respect or like him because he doesn't seem to make any use of the freedom he has that she can't have herself. The characterisation is going to change a little throughout the story, I think: I want to aim more for a 'Kenshin and co as they are in the PB situations', rather than a mixture of characterisations from both RK and the PB.
I hope these changes don't upset anyone- honestly, I want them to be a way of improving the story, building on what was there before, and a way of getting back into the story again myself so that continuing from chapter twenty-five isn't so difficult.
Anyway, my added notes won't be this long in future- this is the initial introduction and explanation of the editing process. I'll probably put in little notes for any significant or important changes in subsequent chapters, but hey-ho- they'll be there for you guys. As always though, if you have questions, ask me them! I'll do my best to answer them helpfully.
And, finally, I've decided to leave all the original author's notes- and replies to reviewers- intact and untouched. You guys have all given me so much support, and I look back on my reviews when I feel in need of encouragement, so I wouldn't take away my thanks for them.
Okay, on with the new (and hopefully better) edition of:
The Princess Bride: Kenshin Style
Once upon a time, there lived a young girl named Kaoru. She worked on a farm near a dojo, where she used to go and visit every day to deliver vegetables for all the training fighters. Secretly, she would climb a certain giant old tree, which had a certain wide low branch, from which she could watch all the (rather ugly) young men going through their drills and exercises. You may wonder what use a young girl would have for a set of ugly trainee swordsmen, but she didn't watch them for their looks. You see, though she was but a poor and lowly peasant's daughter, when she went to bed each night, she dreamed, not of hoeing or weeding, as any ordinary girl should, but of wielding a real blade, and fighting duels.
She never breathed this secret to a single soul, knowing that it was a well-nigh impossible dream that would only cause people to laugh at her. She didn't much like the thought of being laughed at.
One day, Kaoru noticed a new trainee at the dojo. He was quite young, and had tanned skin and flame-bright hair. Kaoru watched him more than the others, as he was rather a curiosity: there was a quick fluidity to his movements that drew the eye, and suggested strength and control, yet he seemed only a beginner in his knowledge and moves, and a terribly slow learner. In fact, he never seemed to pick up any new moves at all. It was somewhat pitiable, Kaoru thought. Watching him, however, only made her wish all the harder that she could join the dojo, too: she was sure she could pick it up quickly if trained properly with the others. Indeed, from only watching the exercises being done, and mimicking them (with an old wooden practice sword she'd taken from the rubbish at the dojo) before she went to bed each night, she had already built up some basic skill for herself.
The days went slowly for Kaoru, and she spent most of her time wishing she were anywhere but where she was. However, as her father grew older and tired and the work too much for him, they found the need for a new worker, and the curious red-haired stranger from the dojo took the job to work on the farm. As he left the sword school for his new home (a tiny room at the back of Kaoru's house), his fellow trainees had shrugged and bid careless goodbyes, telling him he was better off as a simple farm boy: he was too slow a learner, and would never be a warrior. The young man didn't mind their reaction. After all, on the farm, he would remain unnoticed by life and the world, and perhaps attain a peaceful existence. It helped that the farm-owner's daughter (whom he'd noticed watching the training grounds) was very pretty: and when he looked into her face for the first time on his first day at the farm, he couldn't help noticing, with a blink of surprise at first, that she would grow to be the most beautiful lady in the whole world. It was a bit of a miracle that no one else had noticed, really. But then, people didn't tend to keep an eye out in a tiny, poor village, for the most beautiful lady in the world.
All Kaoru said when the young man looked at her with his deep violet eyes that first time was, "Go and water the seedlings in the south field, farm boy."
He wanted to ask if she had any idea whether or not she'd ever fall in love with him- just for future reference, you know- but all he said was, "As you wish."
As the days, weeks and months went by, things stayed pretty much the same.
"Fetch me my pony, farm boy." If only you weren't such a slow learner at the dojo, you wouldn't be stuck on this farm like me.
"As you wish." You deserve so much more than this life.
"Mend this bucket, farm boy." Why don't you make better use of your life?
"As you wish." I wish I could do more to help you.
"Take this rice to the shop in town. And be quick about it, farm boy!" You have more freedom than I ever will, but you don't even try to use it. It's not fair!
"As you wish." I wish you'd say just a single kind word to me, Kaoru…
The farm boy's real name was Kenshin, but Kaoru always called him farm boy, because she thought he didn't deserve any better name. After all, she was stuck on her parents' farm, and she would grow up only to be married off to someone or other on another farm. Yet he, with the choice of where to go and what to do, chose to live on their farm! It made no sense to Kaoru, and she really couldn't respect him for the choice he'd made. She had no idea that every time she spoke to him, he was trying not to think about taking her into his arms, so she didn't mind ordering him around. He, on the other hand, had a pretty good idea that she didn't think too much of him. Instead of letting it get him down, he vowed that he would one day prove to be worthy of her, and set her free from the way of life that so obviously didn't make her happy.
As time went by, people in town began to gossip about the two young farmers. Some people wondered why such a good-looking young man would stay on such a poor little farm, when most of the girls in town were madly in love with him- some of them with rich families. Some suspected an unseemly arrangement went on at the farm, and shook their heads in disapproval. All the young girls merely sighed and shed tears that, no matter what they tried, Kenshin paid no attention to them, and they cursed Kaoru for her beauty, which she was ever unconscious of.
As word of Kenshin's amazing good looks spread, it came about that a rich widow land owner from a neighbouring area heard of the young man. Being rich and without a husband was really rather boring and tedious in those days, and boredom and tedium always put older people out of sorts, so, being a rather self-assured woman of middle age, she set off to meet the man she had heard so much about, and, if he was satisfactory, seduce him if she could.
Kaoru was very surprised when she saw a grand carriage pull into the front pathway of the little farmhouse. She hurried to meet the visitors, and her parents came out as well at the arrival of such a wealthy guest.
The woman who stepped out of the carriage wore a kimono of dazzling colours and beautiful patterns, and Kaoru wished she could wear such a beautiful outfit, just once. The woman looked around at the muddy ground and the small house, and a disdainful look came over her face, making her slight wrinkles stand out and giving her an unpleasant look.
"I wish to inspect your produce, as I am thinking of finding a new supplier for my foodstuffs," she said haughtily.
"Of course, my lady, I will bring some examples for you to see," stammered Kaoru's father, before shuffling off, leaving his wife and daughter to entertain their guest. They were about to show her in for some tea, when Kenshin, topless and sweaty from a morning of hard work, came round from the west plantation for a splash of water and some food.
When the great lady saw him, tanned, lean and muscled like a young god, she gasped and stared with wide eyes. Kaoru, seeing her face, looked over at Kenshin, wondering why the woman reacted in such a way.
Kenshin did have a good body, to be sure, and he did have deep, intense violet eyes, and the sweat on his body did make him look different somehow, but… As she looked, Kaoru felt a little trembling sensation tingle down her spine, and flutter suddenly in her chest.
For the first time, she realised how she really felt about Kenshin. All this time when he had been working alongside her on the farm, she had thought of him only as an unmotivated waste and a 'farm boy'. And only now, when someone else had shown up on the scene, had she realised just how damn gorgeous and courteous Kenshin was: had always been, now that she thought about it.
As she stood with wide blue eyes, the haughty woman swept past her, without so much as a glance, and grabbed Kenshin's hand.
As they made introductions (well, Kenshin saying 'oro' and the woman introducing herself), Kaoru could have cried.
WHAT CAN I DO?!?