A/N: This is the end of 'The White Warrior' Epics... I'm not altogether certain how I feel about that. These two stories have been wonder, joyous, heartbreaking, disappointing, and enlightening for me. I am sad to see them come to an end, but I am also more than a little relieved. There is a lot of 'me' inside the 40plus chapters of these two stories, and it took a lot out of me to write them. But the experience of writing them is one I would never trade for anything in the world. I learned so much... about writing, and about myself. I picked up some friends I hope to have for life or longer, and the closeness of those relationships are more special to me than 1,000 reviews. Thank-you, Minna-san.

KnT

Chapter Twenty-five

The Sword and The Fist Part I

The Journey into Neverland

He could feel it. The press of death as he watched a beast his mind knew could not exist bear down upon him and his companions. It was impossible. Even with everything he'd seen over the years he still couldn't bring himself to accept what his eyes saw now. Would his fists work against something like that? Something that wasn't real?

"Prepare yourself, Sagara." The sound of Saitou's katana sliding free of its sheath followed his words. "It's judgement day...again and there aren't any second chances if you fuck up here. Battousai isn't going to come save your ass. We're trying to save his so make it count. Whatever you're going to do, make it count."

"Here she comes!" Hiko shouted and crouched with his katana angled across his chest and shoulders. "Oni Iroona!" He cried springing forward to meet the charging blur of bone and muscle head on, his own body becoming no more than a flash beneath the moonlight .

"HITEN MISTURUGI STYLE KUZU RYU SEN!"

The swordmaster's katana struck hard and he felt the shudder of bone beneath his blows as each of the nine made contact with crushing force. The howl of pain erupted like a volcano and Hiko sensed more than saw, the bane twisting to slash at his back and shoulders as they passed. Grunting with the maximum effort and sluggishness of his old body, he wrenched himself around and brought his katana downward from over his head slamming it into the vulnerable spot between the Bane's shoulder blades.

"HITEN MISTURUGI STYLE RYU TSUI SEN!"

Bones crunched and blood gushed upward painting the white of his cloak a grisly crimson. As he forced his legs to propel him away from the screaming beast, Hiko saw a flash of bluish-green out the corner of his eye. A snarling war cry ensued and he watched Saitou go at the Bane from ground zero.

"GATOTSU ZERO STYLE!"

Moonlight flashed on the long slender blade as it sliced through the air at incredible speed and power. Saitou was sparing nothing of himself as he sent the edge of his sword slicing across the Bane's throat. Muscle, tendons and hairy flesh separated leaving a long, gapping wound from her jaw to her nape. Blood poured down from the slash dropping into the cold dirt like thick raindrops falling from a scarlet sky. Once more, the night was filled with hellish screams of pain and fury as the beast rose up on back legs and clawed the air with one paw and her neck with the other.

"Ahhh!" She screamed falling back to the ground. "Spineless, pitiful humans, how could you do this to me? You are nothing compared to me, how have you done this?" The massive head shook viciously from side to side splattering blood and saliva all around. "No matter," she snarled as her vision cleared and focused. "I will heal quickly and you will all die for this insult and the Battousai and his brats will suffer. Hai, they will all suffer."

"I don't think so, bitch!" Sano let his fist fly with all the strength he could muster. Saitou said to make it count, whatever he was going to do. Well, this was the only thing he could think of doing and, by Kami, he was going to make it count.

"FUTAE NO KIWAMI!"

As his fist slammed into the Bane's right hip bone, Sano let out a scream of pain. Although the shaft beneath his knuckles crumbled to fragments and bloody shards, he felt the agony of every bone in his hand shattering. The jarring impact shuddered up his forearm and both bones gave under the powerful force rendering the arm crushed and useless. Clutching the screaming appendage against his chest in a protective embrace, Sano staggered away from the writhing, wailing hulk of the Bane.

"I did it," his voice shook as he clenched his teeth against the pain shooting daggers through his right side. "I did it, Kenshin. I helped you this time and I did more than just drag your bloody, busted up ass home." Sanosuke collapsed to his knees gulping in the chilled air. "Okay, God... now it's your turn. You help Kenshin or all bets between you and me are off. You got that?"

"What the fuck would someone like you promise God, Sagara?" Saitou gently helped the fighter back to his feet and started to drag him back into the bushes.

"That I'd never let my son gamble or turn into a street fighter."

"I thought you did that already when you named the little brat after Battousai and asked to put him in that ridiculous school?"

"Well, yeah I did, but you never know what's gonna happen to kid when he grows up. Best of intentions and all, you know?" Sano gasped as Saitou lowered him to the ground. "Anyway, I made Kami-sama a promise that if Kenshin didn't die I'd make sure nothing like that ever happened. I make sure Ken-chan didn't turn out like me."

"Well, let's hope God listens to you, Sargara, because even if that bitch is busted up and bleeding she is far from being finished."

"I was afraid you were going to say that. Dammit! Why was I only good for one lowsey punch?"

"Hey, but what a punch it was, ne? You shattered her leg bone. Now she only has three legs to run on, well make that two and a half, I'm thinking that should slow her a little." Saitou tore off his coat and used it to bind the fighters shattered arm to his chest. "If Battousai and those brats–ahem–my son-in-laws were ever going to have a chance of killing that thing," golden eyes twinkled just enough to erase about ten years off Satiou's age. "The best chance to do it would be now."

"I guess you're right. God, that hurts."

"It's supposed to, baka." Saitou tested the tightness of his make-shift brace and nodded. "That should do you. Now you stay here while I go check what is going on."

"Yeah, like I'm going anywhere."

Saitou grinned and then disappeared leaving Sano alone with his pain and his worries.

"What's going on, Otou?" Kenji's voice was tight with concern as he struggled to see through the thickening fog. The sounds of screaming and clashing metal were echoing off the high stone walls of the palace giving the three Himura's a frightening auditory account of the battle they could not see. "Should we go help them?"

"Iie, Kenji-san." Kenshin shook his head and gazed with mournful eyes in the direction of the screams and shouts. "They are fighting to help us. It would be a dishonor to their sacrifices if we broke from the plan and left our position. We must wait and let them do what they feel they must...no matter what we hear."

"This is the feelings you suffered when you faced me Madre before, Si Otousan?"

"What do you mean, Chri-stan? What are you feeling, Aisoku?"

"Helpless, responsible...alone and sad. We may never see my hermonos, the Uncles or Sofu alive again, and we can do nothing."

"Hai, Aisoku. We can do nothing but be grateful and honor them should they die for us."

"Si," Christian's dark eyes filled with sorrow as he thought about the men who so recently became such an important part of his life. The possibility of losing them to death in this battle was a pain he understood he may have to bear but it was not one he felt the same about as his father or his other brother. He understood the meaning of honoring the dead for their deeds, but to be grateful for their deaths so that he might live was not something he was raised to believe. He knew that what had to happen this night might cost lives–lives of those he had come to love and call family but he did not know if he could summon the gratitude his father said he should feel. Even if they died so that he could meet his destiny and help banish this horrible evil back to hell it did not seem worth the price he might have to pay to achieve it. It was a very expensive destiny.

She was broken. She could feel it. The bastard had broken her leg with that incredibly powerful punch of his. How had he accomplished such a thing when he was nothing more than a disgusting human? It was beyond her level of comprehension. None of them should have been able to hurt her this badly, how had they done it? Were there just too many of them to fight at one time? Was that her mistake? Or was it her sense of over confidence that did this to her? It didn't really seem to matter anymore. She could hear all of them moving away which made no sense to her. Why didn't they come in and finish her off? And then somewhere in the small human hindbrain a rational thought occurred.

'Maybe they can't...maybe no matter how much damage they do I will never die.' A rush of adrenaline spread through the pain haze and a part of Elsbeth stretched and rolled over. 'I think they know know this... they know they cannot kill me. I have become immortal and this body will never fall. I will yet claim my victory over these weaklings. I just need time... a little more time.'

It was a beautiful thought. A comforting thought and she snuggled down into it feeling the warmth of confidence seeping back into her shaken soul. 'Rest,' she thought as her eyes closed and she willed her breathing to become regular. "I will rest, and then... then I will finish them. They will all die screa...'

The scent invaded her nostrils like the putrid odor of rotting dead flesh and as her blood-red eyes shot open in disbelief, her mind howled her denial.

'NO! NO! NO! NO!' Her front paws dug into the cold dirt trying to find the leverage to pull her heavy body off its side. Wounded back legs shivered and twitched while the shaggy plume of her tail thrashed against the ground. 'It can't be.' The befuddled thoughts spun inside her pain hazed mind as she struggled over onto her belly. 'I did not smell them before...THEY WERE NOT HERE! HIMURA!'

Kenshin's head jerked up as a spike in ki power rushed though the air and surrounded him and his son's. The feel and taste was evil and bitter setting his teeth on edge and bringing out the gleaming gold of his eyes. The sharp intakes of breath beside him told him that both Christian and Kenji were sensing the same thing he was. The answering rise in their ki's tingled along his flesh and he felt the 'spirit of the tiger' stretch and flex its claws beneath the shell of his skin. Battle lines were being drawn across the ethereal plane and although he could sense a measure of weakness on the other side, he knew it was only a small advantage.

"She knows we are here, Otou."

"Hai, Kenji-san. She has caught our scent. We are no longer observers."

"No, Otousan, we have become prey. Her hatred dances with us, si?"

"Hai, Chri-stan. You can feel it?" Kenshin turned to his older son and beheld the glory of the Dragon as it unfolded from the young Spaniard. Eyes the color of pale indigo shimmered in his angelic face growing brighter as circles of gold wrapped themselves around his iris and pupils. A cold light entered the shifting depths and Kenshin shivered.

"Si, Otousan. I can...maybe better." Christian turned a baleful gaze toward the source of the powerful ki. "I feel the magik and what left of her soul. When I was little boy, I believe the Devil was only real evil for man to fear–I wrong. This is evil that has no name."

"It had a name, Aisoka. It was called Elsbeth."

"Si, now it must die."

"Are we ready?" Kenji moved to his brother's side and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Do you understand what has to be done?"

"Si, do you?" Crystalline eyes locked and held. "We focus through Otousan. He is still the 'White Warrior'. Only he can wield weapon."

"Hai. You do understand."

"What are the two of you talking about?" Kenshin turned and stared at his sons. "I am not the one. It is the two of you who must use your combined strength to do this."

"Iie, Otou. It is not us. We are the weapon, you are the wielder."

"I–explain."

"There is nothing to explain, Oodora." Kenji stood in front of his father and gazed into the proud confused face. "You are the key. You always were, but you were so busy trying to discover what it was Dorogon and I were meant to do that you failed to see it. We all did. It is true, my brother and I are the mirrors of your torn soul and we each inherited from you a part of your strength and your weakness. But if we are the 'twins of your soul', Otou, then the only way to restore that which is separate is to fuse it again...through the main source. You are the source. We are what is separate. You must use us."

"The weapon..."

"Was never ours to wield, Oodora. The honor remains yours as it always was."

"Si, Oodora. Kodora and this Dorogan...we are what remains to be reclaimed by your Battousai's spirit. Claim power you gave us and become... become man you should have been."

"How... I don't know how."

"Hai, Oodora. You do. It is within in you as much as your love for us. Use the bonding string and find your way to us and we will all become what must be."

"The bonding string? You are speaking of the soul link that holds the three us together as one blood source, aren't you?"

"Hai, Oodora. You've seen it, ne?"

"Iie, Kodora. I have never seen the bonding string, but Aoshi has spoken to me of it before. It was how you found Dorogan inside the palace. You followed it to his soul, ne?"

"Hai, and you can do this too. Uncle said you had never been to The World between Worlds because you never needed to go. Now you do. I will show you the way, Oodora, and from there you will see what you have to do."

Kenshin could feel the sheen of a cold sweat breaking out on his forehead. This was not what he expected to be doing at this moment, and part of him wondered if there were time. What his son was suggesting required intense meditation and concentration to achieve. Was there enough time to do that before the Bane was upon them? He didn't know but knew there were no other choices. Everything Kodora and Dorogan said about being the missing pieces of his soul rang true inside his heart. To reconstruct that which is broken one must sacrifice and accept the trials of fate and destiny.

He had freed himself from the Battousai's guilt when he saved Christain and brought him home to his heart and his father's love. But he was not whole. The fragments of his life and mind remained in pieces around him. He would have to travel to the World Between and find his way back to the world of the living. It was the only way.

"Hai, Kodora." The great Samurai removed his sword and lowered himself to the ground. "You are right. It is the only way and you must show me for I have never ventured to such places."

"Hai, Oodora. We will both take you." Kenji took a seat in front of this father and did his brother, and then they reached out and each took one of Kenshin's hands in theirs. "It is not such a difficult journey once you get the hang of it," he said with a lop-sided grin. "And we will have to forego the mediation because there is no time. It will be a direct assault across the planes. Are you prepared, Oodora?"

"Hai," Kenshin swallowed and wondered what he had just agreed to. "I am ready. As you said, Kodora...there is little time."

"Then close your eyes, Great Tiger, and follow us."

As Kenshin shut his eyes and prepared for what his son called 'a direct assault', he breathed a prayer deep inside his heart that he would live to see Shakaku born and hold her in his arms. He begged for the right to cradle his wife against his heart again and the joy of holding his own grandchildren. He prayed to live.

Suddenly his world exploded into golden lights and flaming starburts, and Kenshin felt pain race through his scull. This was nothing like the time he had entered the frozen void of Soujiro's mind to retrieve him. Indeed, this was more like flying down the abyss of Hell into infinity itself. If not for the dual presence of his sons, the Samurai feared he might actually succumb to the insanity that nipped at his heels as his spirit surged through into the World Between. Only the steady grasp of the hands that held him and his long years of training kept Kenshin from letting go and losing himself inside the passage. This is what happened when one ventured too far from the source of one's soul without proper preparation and meditation. He was on the verge of being completely out of control.

The strength of spirit flowed from Kenji's soul into the vessel of his father as he struggled to maintain a tight grip on the swordsman's ki. Beside him he felt the power of his brother's ki spike to incredible proportions lending its immeasurable support to the effort and together they pulled the floundering spirit across the threshold. It was both psychologically and spiritually exhausting but they managed and the three of them tumbled through the portal into the starscape of Between.

"What's happening?" Soujiro grabbed his younger brother by the arm and hauled him to his feet. "The fighting has stopped." His troubled blue-gray eyes scanned across the misty yard searching for any of the other members of their family. "And I can't see anyone."

"Your grandfather and Uncles have wounded the Bane, Seta-san. They have built upon what we began, and she is faltering."

"For how long, Aoshi?" Yahiko brushed the dirt off his hakama. "And what about your swords? How do we get them back?"

"I believe I've already done that, Raion."

Yahiko gapped. Sure enough Aoshi stood holding both of his Kodachi blades, one in each hand. The slick silver blades were awash with blood and his hands dripped with it as well. "How...what did you do?"

"She was immobile for a few moments after Sanosuke shattered her leg. I simply slipped in and removed them while she had other more pressing matters to worry about."

"As in?"

"The pain in her leg. It is quite useless now and with the slash you delivered to her other flank she has been slowed considerably." Aoshi carefully reinserted the blades into the long doubled ended sheath.

"Why didn't you just slit her throat?" Yahiko was incredulous as he watched the tall ninja's nonchalant movements. "You were that close and you didn't do anything else to her? Why not!"

"Because, Raion, it would have served no purpose but to prolong the inevitable."

"The inev... are you out of your fucking mind?"

"Yahiko!" Soujiro grabbed the young swordsman by the shoulder and shook him hard. "What's gotten into you? You know as well as the rest of us that nothing is going to overcome the Bane except Kenji, Chri-stan, and Otousan. You must not speak to Aoshi-sama in such a manner. It is beneath you and the man you have become."

"But he could have done more." Bloody eyes sparkled with an impotent fury as Yahiko shook off his brothers hand. "He could have... I..."

"It would have made no difference, Raion." Aoshi faced the seething Samurai. "I could have done exactly what you say, but in the end it would make no difference. The blood of Himura must vanquish this evil. None other can do it. I may have further wounded her, but none of our swords are powerful enough to cut through her hide completely. If that were possible, Seta-san would have decapitated her with his blow."

"Are you listening to him, Yahiko? Do you hear what he is saying?" Soujiro yanked his brother around to face him. "There is nothing more we can do but wait and pray. We must believe."

"I... hai, Sou." The red eyes flashed but there was resignation in his shoulders as Yahiko turned to face Aoshi once more. "Forgive me," he whispered in a fierce voice. "I was wrong to speak to you as I did."

"It is understandable, Raion. I am afraid for them too." Before Aoshi could speak further a brilliant explosion of white and blue light surged upward from the far end of the yard. The sky became alight with the flare and as it peaked and became near to blinding, a ferocious wall of solid ki energy swept over the ground, through the air, and collided with every particle of spiritual energy existing in the vicinity. "Kami-sama..." Aoshi felt the impact slam into his chest lifting him back and tossing him aside like a fragile child. In his periphery he saw the bodies of his companions sailing through the air in a wild fray of arms and legs.

"Himura."

"Sochi!" Hiko stumbled as the surge of ki crashed into his body. The world around him became a blur and then there was pain swallowing the whole of him and with the pain came a darkness. A darkness heavy with grief and fear. He wouldn't be able to help his shining boy anymore.

The Sword and The Fist: Part II

Of Tigers and Dragons

Memories of being sucked inside the old prison and nearly being devoured by the catastrophic cave in fluttered behind closed eyes. She could smell the dust and hear the sounds of metal tearing as that brat unleashed a surge of ki that almost killed them all. But that was so long ago and this was not the dank, mustiness of the prison and she was no longer that woman.

The wall of ki power that struck her this time was incomparable to even the crushing force of that mutated brat. Vaguely she wondered if any more of her bones were broken but there was so much pain over so many parts of her body it was difficult to tell. The foggy haze of confusion slowly dissipated and she found herself wondering where Himura had found enough energy to send a wall smashing across the entire Palace yard? He was powerful but she knew that even he was not capable of such a crushing force. Where did he steal the power?

Getting back on her feet was the most excruciating pain she could remember. The burning throb in her hindquarters told her that she was badly damaged and needed to rest and repair herself, but the hatred seething within her refused to allow that to happen. The scent of her own blood was filling her nostrils and the thought of mixing that blood with the blood of her enemies filled her with a renewed strength.

A strength made of lust, hatred, and the need to be finished with the one man who destroyed everything she ever wanted. He took her love, her pride, her honor and dashed them to dust when he refused to become what she knew he was meant to be. Then he took her mortal life just as she was on the verge of becoming something so great and powerful...and now he'd taken her son.

'He was mine, Himura.' The words rattled inside her head as she flexed her front legs and tested the power of her least damaged hindquarter. 'I chose to save him from you when I left him behind in Spain. I didn't want his life infected with your weakness and foolish beliefs, but you ruined everything despite my best efforts. You took him away from me just when the two of us could have become the most powerful force in the human world. He was meant to be a part of me, don't you understand that, you spineless human? Christian was meant to live inside of me and replace the soul you took from me all those years ago. That is why he came to Japan...his blood pulled him here to join with me, but you destroyed everything between us just as you destroyed everything else I ever tried to accomplish. This war is at an end, my love. This is the time for all things to finally be set right and for me to claim what should have been mine long ago. Your soul. It will give me back the strength I have lost...and you will become nothing more than a distasteful memory.'

Fury as pure as the burning pits of hell surged through the damaged hulk of her body giving her a rush of power that tasted sweet and dulled the pain.

"Here I come, beloved." The howl of her voice rose and splintered the cold air, and then with an enormous effort, she shoved her body into motion and galloped on three legs toward the source of the powerful ki.

'She comes, Otou.'

'I can feel her, Aisoka.'

'We are with you, Otousan.'

'Hai, Kenji-san. You are always with me.'

'Now we are together–the three of us, Otousan.'

'Hai, The Sword and The Fist...you have become part of me my sons. We are one soul and one purpose. May God guide our hands in the task ahead and may we all live to see the rising of the sun.'

"HIMURA!"

'She is here...'

'...we will prevail...'

'The sword of Lightening is our to wield...'

'...and we will become the Hand of Justice.'

'Evil will not survive us...'

'We are Battousai, the Elemental...'

'...and in the name of God,'

'We unleash our wrath!'

"HITEN MITSURUGI STYLE SOU RYU SEN!"

The screaming battle cry erupted across the mist covered yard, and as the Bane threw herself at the faintly glowing shapes of three men in front of her they seemed to disintegrate into nothingness and fade like the fog. Then there was one man rising up out of the gray void like a phantom. His katana sheath gripped tightly in his left hand as he snaked the blade free in one vicious pull. The glint of the moonlight captured the shining steel for a split instant making it glow brilliant white, and then it was slashing through the air toward her nothing more than a silvery blur.

Pain flared across her right shoulder and she howled as she felt metal bite into bone. Her steps faltered and she stumbled beneath the impact reeling at the enormous power that was behind it. Then a blinding burst of stars exploded inside her skull as the length of the sheath was hammered across her head.

'A double blow attack?' The Bane shrieked and tried to shake the haze from her pounding brain. 'He hit me twice–so fast I didn't even see it. How...'

"HITEN MITSURUGI STYLE RYU KAN SEN KOGARAHIL!"

Once more, the man became a blur of motion and flying silver as he whirled and brought the blade crashing down against her quivering flank. Again she felt the bit go clear to the bone severing muscles and tendons on the way. Blood flooded over her flesh in warm rivers as she sailed through the air and tumbled to the ground in a heap of heaving fur.

"Am I...dead?" She rasped as she tried to roll onto her stomach but found her right foreleg to be crushed beyond use and she fell back to her side. "Have you k-killed me, koishii?"

"Iie, Elsbeth. We have not killed you, but you must die soon. It is inevitable."

"Si...where is m-my son?"

"He is here, with us. Can you not feel the strength and honor of his spirit all around you?"

"I...Christian?" The haze of pain was tremendous and her vision was blurring beneath the stress, but she swore there was only one man in front of her–not three. "Where?"

"Here, mi Madre." The man walked close and knelt down. "I am here."

"Mon Dios..." Hair the color of molten gold blew softly in a chilled breeze. Features she recognized yet did not know peaked out from behind the dancing tendrils as a face materialized before her shocked eyes. "Kenshin?"

"Hai, Elsbeth. I am here as is The Unborn."

"Nooooo..."

"We are the end of you, witch. There will be no coming back this time."

"Ken-shin..." The eyes that looked at her were a rich indigo flaring with gold and green as they considered her. There was pity swirling within those luminescent depths, but there was a hardness that belied the gentle look on the handsome face. Justice would be served by the hand of the only man she ever loved, and with him, her son and his would end her life completely. "Do it quickly, my love."

"Hai, it is almost over, Kirei. Soon you will be at peace. We will all be at peace."

"I–I loved you, Himura."

"Hai, I know." The Battousai-collective rose to its feet and gazed quietly down upon the dying beast. "We wish we could send you to heaven, keiri, but it cannot be."

"I–I don't think I'd like heaven, koishii."

"Hmm, perhaps not but we pray you find a place you can be comforted. It is our wish."

"Arigato, my love."

"Be at peace, Elsbleth." The great silver blade rose high into the air and arched sharply coming back down with a speed and power that defied reason. It bit deeply into the heavily muscled neck cleaving through the dense tissues and severing the spinal column as if it were a twig. A massive gout of blood spurted free from the open vessels as the wolfish head rolled to the side. White light, pure as the Hand of Fire, burst from the silver sword and engulfed both man and beast in a ball of energy that lit up the night sky for miles.

It was finished.

The Bane and the evil of the de'Angeles magik were defeated, and as the thick blood flowed to coat the frozen ground, a wave of heat surged outward covering the yard and the palace. Ice melted, the frozen daggers around the massive skylight shriveled up into drips of rain that showered down onto the white marble floor. The stain and stench of blood flamed and turned to ash pealing away from the inner walls leaving them the beautiful murals they were beneath. The Imperial Palace was reclaimed. The body of the Bane exploded into flame and was consumed until naught but dust remained.

The Hand of Fire had risen to cleanse the pathway once more and the blood of Himura sang with the taste of victory.

It was finished.

"Where is my father?" The fused Battousai stood before the remnants of his family and swiftly surveyed the damage. Sanosuke had a shattered hand and arm, Saitou and the boys were unscathed, and Aoshi was looking as somber as usual. However... "Where is Chi-chi?"

"Master Hiko is..." Aoshi gazed into the swirling multifaceted eyes of the entity that was both his brother and his nephews wondering at the miracles God kept showing to him. "He is... your father is dead, Himura."

"Dead?" The strange voice echoed the word as the face registered disbelief. "Iie. Chi-chi cannot die. If anyone was meant to die, it should have been Battousai. Show me...I do not believe you."

"He is here, Battousai." Saitou stood up and faced the fused man with a grim look. "The bitch got a piece of him and none of us saw it. He didn't have the strength to withstand that ki blast after losing so much blood, and...and, well, he's gone, Humura. Your father is gone."

Golden blue eyes stared at the white-haired man laying on the ground at Saitou's feet. The long white cloak was wrapped around him like a sari but the stain of blood seeping around from the back was unmistakable. The Battousai-collective walked to his side and knelt down placing a hand over the broad chest. There was no movement, no 'thud' of a heartbeat, it was not even warm.

"Iie, Chi-chi," he rasped as tears began to slide down his face. "It was not meant to end this way for us. How... how do I go on without you? I can't... I–I can't." Bloody hands tore at the cloak as Battousai threw his head back and howled with grief.

'Sofu...!'

'Ojjisan?'

'Father!'

'NOOOOOOOOO...'

Once more the world was engulfed in blazing white light as the sobbing warrior bent over the body of his beloved sensei. A sword that had been used only to kill and destroy that which was evil became an orange flame as it lifted into the air above the dead man. The night was finished and with it came the end of the Himura-triad. Flames erupted from the blade and reached for the swordsman tearing his fused soul back into three separate units. The world was alight with energy and the power swallowed the four men in a single shattering explosion of orange and blue.

The Hand of Fire was finished with the clan Himura. The Battousai's lost soul was healed and Himura Kenshin was reborn with the strength and youth of a man ten years his younger.

Himura Kenji and Himura Christian were separated from their father's soul and allowed to retain the knowledge and spirit ki they inherited from him.

The Spirit of the Tiger and the Soul of the Dragon were free.

The Sword and The Fist Part III–Epilogue

Shakaku–One year later

"Where's my Granddaughter!"

The End

God bless everyone who stayed with me through this little odyssey. Are we sorry it's finished? I have mixed feelings. It's been over a year since I wrote 'White Warrior' and started 'Beloved of The White Flame'. Many things have come and gone since that time. I wrote my first ever lemon–'End of A Weary Day','The Bad Kid' was hatched, 'Do You Want to Live Forever?' and 'The Black Hawke' wiggled into existence and I discovered I am almost just as much in love with Sesshoumaru from IY as I am with my beloved Kenshin. Ho hum.

I have dabbled in IY with 'Just Say Good-bye, Kagome' and have a couple of Yu Yu Hakeshu lemons floating about as well: 'The Moonchild and The Winter Rose', and 'Cloud Waltzing'. The original fiction, 'Master of High Tower' went on hiatus after 9 chapters, but it's still bouncing around in my computer. I may finish it one day, and there are a couple more IY's that I've been fiddling with–just haven't gotten to serious with them yet.

I started a co-authoring venture with my good friend, BelleDayNight; 'Life at Saitou's Ranch' which is currently plaguing me, but I shall eventually prevail. And I have collected so many stories I had to increase the domain size of my webpage-twice. My new RK and IY gallaries are going to be huge...so many beautiful pictures and talented artists. My lean toward erotica and erotic fanart is starting to show through. What can I say?

I also made it through the death of my father-in-law, the loss of a good friend and a little more of my innocence when it comes to trusting people, and have finally started the journey toward writing a real novel. Yeech! Lots harder than fanfiction...but fun. I've made many new and beloved friends... people I will cherish for the rest of my days. People I learned from and continue to learn from. Fans, friends, and a few I now call family. I never knew I had so many kids, or brothers and sisters, or mothers for that matter. :)

The experiences these two fanfictions have brought into my life... and instigated within my life are priceless. My love and humble gratitude go out to everyone who stuck by me through the trials of this old lady's life. There is more to a fanfiction author than a penname...and there is more to the fans who read the fiction than reviews.

God Bless, minna-san. I will love you all forever.

Kanzen ne Tsuki