AN: Adapted nearly line for line from the poem. Extreme angst from Kenshin's point of view, centered mainly on the Revolution. Kenshin/Tomoe focused.

The title, kokuei, means silhouette, or dark shadow.

Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin is the sole property of Nobuhiro Watsuki and Viz. "Darkness" is credited to George Gordon, Lord Byron

………

Kokuei

………

I had an innocence, not long kept

It's brightness was extinguished, and I

Did wander darkling into blacker streets

Sightless, and pathless, and the Age

Rent blind and emptying through bloody air

Morns came and went—came again and passed me by,

And men forgot their passions in the dread

Of this their desolation; and my heart

Was chilled into a selfish prayer for light:

And I did live by amber fire—and the lives

The futures born anew—the fragile hopes

The happiness of all those that dreamt

Were burnt for justices; cities were consumed,

And babes would gather 'round their blazing homes

To look upon the embers of advancing change;

Happy were those who dwelt beyond the

Thousand-year palace and its reddened gate:

A fearful hope was all the land contain'd;

All hearts were set afire—but hour by hour

They fell and faded—and honor's courage

Extinguish'd by my hand—and all was red.

My face of man by despairing night

Wore inhuman light, as if by death

Brightness fell beyond me; and many lay down

And hid their eyes and wept; some did find

Crimson upon clenched hands, and smiled;

And others hurried to hide the dead, and fed

The funeral piles with scorched bones, and looked up

With twisted appreciation on the wounded sky,

The remnants of a lost time, and then to

Cast it away with curses into dust

And flashed their teeth and cheered: the mad ones howl'd

And, terrified, did collapse into the earth,

And beat their breathless breasts; the tamest brutes

Came wild and hardened; and children crawled

And lost themselves among the chaos

Weeping, but worthless—they were slain for spite;

And peace, which in a moment was no more,

Did fade from me—a life was bought

With blood, and each wet the hunger

Awakened in my gloom: no heart was left;

All earth was but one thought—and that was war

Immediate and inglorious; and the wound

Of murder fell upon me—men,

Died and their bones lay tombless as their flesh;

By me the people were devoured

All in blame were assailed, save one,

And she was pale and cold, and kept

The anger and the hatred and the sorrow at bay

Till love did find her, and me

Lured into kindness; myself she did not wish to betray

But with a smile in the falling snow, and a mark

That would not heal, caressing the cheek

That bled in desolation my tears—she died.

Then the armies were famished by degrees, but one

Within the greatest city did survive,

And they were enemies, and we met within

The smoldering ruin of the royal place

Where heaped the masses of wasted lives

For the rotted wish; we faced

And trembling fought with burning eyes

The belief in what was right, and our might

Made for little life, and led to only flame

Which was a mockery; then I lifted up

My eyes as it grew fiercer, and beheld

The destruction I had made—how all shrieked and died—

Of my sinful course they died,

Unknowing who he was upon whose brow

War had written fiend. My self was a wasteland

The realization of a dream was a farce,

Hopeless, heartless, worthless, lifeless—

A noose of guilt—a despair of stained hands.

The days, the hours, the minutes all stood still,

And nothing stirred in my depths;

Seasons pass as I wander o'er an altered world:

My penance falls into a pit bottomless: as if

An abyss without forgiveness calls me to sleep—

My heart is dying; my smile joins hers in her grave,

My love, my loss, gone before me;

My soul has withered in stagnant years,

My hope soon to perish; my shadow in me

Born of them and others—this is my universe