AN: I cannot for the life of me come up with a title I like. If anyone wants to suggest a better name in a chapter or two, please feel free. Please.


There was blood splattered everywhere - the ground, the brush, the trees.

Shoving the brush aside, Kenshin stepped cautiously into the clearing.

A blade lay beside the stains, shading the sunlight, looking far too cheerful for such a horrifying portrait. On the far side of the clearing a stream ran quickly, jumping away from the rocks and the soil, fleeing the cares of the corporeal living. The trees made a striking tableau, emerald green dripping the dark scarlet of life to the ground below.

Kenshin stepped further in, observing the quiet. The sour tang of blood had led him to the small space, and his nerves were laced with fire, though seemingly there was no threat present. He however knew better than anyone that appearances could be deceiving, and remained alert as he studied the surroundings.

There was no body. How could there be that much blood and no body to accompany it? No one could loose that much and live. His eyes tracked the largest concentration of red. Beside the pool was an outline in the dirt, almost as if a body had lain there moments before. The sword lay near what would have been the right arm, if you looked a certain way.

Another step, a furtive look. The blade was clean; splattered with blood, but none of its own cut. There was no one there. The blood was still dripping. Where were the victors? How could they move a body so fast and so quietly? Stretching his ki senses, he tried once more to sense something. Nothing.

He froze for several minutes, listening for any sound. When nothing was detected, he viewed the ground closely, tracing the course of events in the footsteps. Walking forward, he took the place of one set, and marked out that person's actions through the clearing.

Pace forward, light dodge, easy swing. The deceased opponent was not a competent swordsman, he was being played with. There. The opponent tripped, and it was all over. Judging from the weight, he was beheaded.

But where was he?

Casting his eyes around once more, Kenshin lit upon something stuck in the stream. Striding over quickly, he bent down to snatch it up. He looked at it curiously.

It was a piece of fish, though it was no fish he had ever seen. It was of a toughness one did not usually see except in larger sea animals, and had a pattern of scales that was completely foreign to him. Not that he could say he was extraordinarily familiar with all types of fish. But all things considered...

Looking around once more, he turned and left the clearing. There was all the evidence of foul play, yet apparently nothing to prove. He could help no one. Suppressing a cold chill down his spine, Kenshin paced back to his camp site to build a fire. He was so hungry, and no one would care about a useless chunk of fish he'd found in a small stream.