Chapter 10: Plagued
-Traveling Road. (2nd day) Afternoon-
The heat had become unbearable. Everyone's stomaches interfered with their will to carry on. The small army stopped by a few trees to take refuge in the trees' shade. There they ate simple snacks consisting of fresh vegetables, rice balls and cool refreshing water. Light laughter rose from their three to four man groups as they talked about a range of things. Diru tied the tired horse to a stable branch of a tree sat on the other side, deciding to take a short nap. It had been a long ride and his bottom was sore from sitting in a hard, leather saddle for so long. It was bliss to be sitting on soft ground for once.
Kenshin was busy talking with Sanosuke about this situation. Surely Kenshin hated the idea Enishi would sink to accomplish such a thing. It also rose other questions within the rurouni's head. If Enishi truly was after him again, then why would he bother messing with Imagawa Akira and his fiancee Kisagi Kiyoko? For Enishi, this kind of crime was too random.
" Don't keep thinking about, Kenshin. Let's just worry 'bout it when we get there."
" Well, it's just hard to imagine...and Diru, this one fears the worst from him. Enishi was consumed with hatred and vengeance for the death of his sister. It was an accident but, a family member can never see their loved ones killed as an accident. All his life, he planned to take his vengeance out on me. his whole life, planning his plot so closely and carefully. This one has no doubt...that is what Diru-san is doing right now. His sister has been taken and he plots tediously what he will do to Enishi once he gets his hands on them. (sighs) The two are so alike, so similiar. There is no doubt the two will butt heads...but this one hopes he can stop that before it happens!"
" If what you say is really true, Kenshin...eve I doubt you'll be able to stop THAT. I mean, c'mon...it is their fight. You vowed to not take a life yourself, but those two will have their own decisions to make that you can't stop."
" I can try (forces a smile)"
Akira had climbed a tree and sat on one of the sturdier branches, overlooking the small army. A silky blue scarf flowed with the wind as he held it at its middle. One of the end flew up and caressed his hard cheek in warmth. Akira stared at the scarf and petted the rippling material with tender fingertips. He had wished it was Kiyoko's cheek, imagining it was he who would be the one to tell her everything was okay. All he could ever wish for at this moment was to have Kiyoko safe in his arms. A smile brightened his dirtied face as he remembered so vividly the warmth of her hand and her placid smile.
" Beautiful Maiden...do not cry and feed your fear...your prince is coming."
-Enishi's Household. Afternoon-
Tomoya sat across the room from where Enishi was sleeping so peacefully on his plush couch. Tomoya's eyes were glazed over in emptiness, blocking any hint of what went on in his homocidal mind. It would be so easy to kill Enishi right here and now then take everything the poor wretch had. Instead, Tomoya dismissed the thought for another day and resumed reading a book about sword arts. It was relatively peaceful in the household now. The servants were preparing another delicious, succulent lunch, there was no shouting, no fighting. Just the solemn peace with the smell of ocean. Tomoya envied Enishi for having such a peaceful place to reside to. For Tomoya, all he knew was busy, hustling cities, filthy alleyways and the daily sounds of whistles blown by the police. It was nice to have a small change in scenery. A loud creak was heard from upstairs. Tomoya marked his space in the book with a smooth finger, looking to his left to see what was going on. Soon, Kiyoko was revealed walking down the stairs cautiously, looking around like a scared deer. Truly she was breathtaking.
" May I help you, Kiyoko?"
"No...I just need something to drink."
Tomoya watched as she smiled, excused herself and made her way into the kitchen among the tempting scents of lunch. Enishi hadn't stirred from his sleep. Tomoya disregarded Enishi's warning from last night and followed Kiyoko into the kitchen to talk with her. She poured a small cup of steaming hot green tea, then added flavor to it from a fruit. The way she moved showed no rigidness, no clumsiness; only smooth, wavy movements no matter how her body moved. Everything about her was delicate; fragile like porcelain.
" May we talk?"
" Enishi doesn't want us talking..."
" Do you always do what you're told?"
Her face tilted down to hide her gentle eyes. The two servant girls looked to one another then to Tomoya and Kiyoko. Both servants quietly left the room, not wishing to see their Master Enishi's face once he woke to see the two talking. Tomoya noted their absence and appproached the timid Kiyoko. Her face averted to the side, her eyes still downcast. Very faintly, Tomoya caressed her poreless cheek.
" You're a very beautiful girl, Kiyoko. Very beautiful...everything I would like in a girl. It's too bad you're engaged or I would ask you to lie down with me. I would promise to be very gentle."
" You'll do no such thing, Tomoya."
Both saw Enishi leaning in the door way between the living room and kitchen. Kiyoko took a step back, escaping from Tomoya's touch. Tomoya only gave that empty smile to Enishi and bowed his head in submission.
" I'm sorry, Enishi. She is just so beautiful, isn't she? Come now, you should admit so...doesn't she even remind you of your sister?"
Something broke in Enishi. No one could exactly determine what it was, but his eye twitched and his lips curled back to reveal tightly clenched teeth. Tomoya only let his eyes close slowly, that tauting smile not fading away. Kiyoko saw the rage in Enishi's visage and backed off, hiding behind a table. Tomoya stood unphased in the face of the demon. He was prepared to fight Enishi if he had to.
" STOP IT! DON'T MENTION HER! YOU HEAR ME, TOMOYA! NEVER!"
Every muscle within Kiyoko had tensed to its maximum. The fibers were so taut she shook wildly. Enishi had grabbed his head and shook it, yelling in madness. Now, tomoya backed off, confused about how Enishi was reacting. Usually, he yelled and stormed off. Tomoya bowed his head and left the house, planning to come back once he calmed. Kiyoko peeked out from behind the table to see if Enishi left yet. Instead, she saw him on his knees holding his head and repeating a name. Kiyoko scooted across the floor to come closer to him. Soon that name, spoken in such sadness, came clear.
" Tomoe...Tomoe I'm sorry...Please, smile..."
Kiyoko stood and began to back away, not taking her eyes off him just in case he decided to focus rage on her. She was nearly out of the kitchen then he lifted his head and locked his eyes on her. Tears welled from them and there was the clear presence of twisted, inescapable despair and pain. Kiyoko's footsteps froze. And then what he said next left her speechless.
" Tomoe...don't leave me! Don't...not again..."
Enishi scrambled up and grabbed Kiyoko's wrist, pulling her to him. Those arms hugged her so tightly, she feared suffocation. He cried as he squeezed her tightly, whispering his dead sister's name, begging, pleading her to smile for him. Kiyoko stood confused and completely unsure about how to handle this situation. How would one handle their captor who was mistaking them for their dead sister? Kiyoko tried to slip out of his arms but only ended up tripping over the hem of her kimono and falling to the floor. Enishi did as well. He laid on the floor completely silent except for some quiet crying. Kiyoko wanted to leave and hide in her room, hoping that this segment of despair would quickly pass by and everything would return to normal; whatever normal was. There was a slight problem though. Kiyoko was always the hospitable, sensitive and caring kind. She couldn't bear the thought of simply leaving him on the floor in his misery without any kind of comfort provided. Kiyoko sat up and leaned over, reaching her hand to touch his face. She was so afraid he would snap out of his illusion and grab her arm with the intention of snapping it. She gathered all the courage she could muster and scooted close to him then placed her fingers upon his cheek. The touch brought him out of his drawn in state and he looked up to Kiyoko but he did not see Kiyoko there. He saw his dead sister, his Tomoe, leaning over him to comfort him. Then the one thing he saw boosted his spirits. She smiled to him as she drew him closer and his head into her lap. He continued to look to her hovering face that smiled so gently, so adoringly. His shaking arm reached up to touch her cheek. There was fascination that hushed his pleading cries.
Kiyoko had smiled to hopefully pleased him. His wished for his sister to smile for him and as long as he illusioned her as this "Tomoe", Kiyoko figured she could play the part just this time. Just to see him in this mood made her full perspective of him change. All along she'd seen him as this cold hearted, selfish and prejudice bastard but really, he was a child with a scar that wouldn't heal. It felt awkward to even touch him as it did for him to touch her. Kiyoko then grimaced in her mind, knowing how soft hearted she was. It didn't matter whom it was, but if she saw something human in them, she couldn't help but sympathize for them. Even Enishi.
" Shh...Enishi, go lie down...come, I'll help."
Kiyoko stood and helped the man to his feet. His face hung down in shame and it was quickly she saw him coming back to reality. She ushered him up to his room and had him lay down as she pulled the covers over him. Enishi's eyes became vacant and empty of feeling. The wailing, frantic years had long dried on his cheeks. Kiyoko seen this and decided to leave the room and let him have his peace. The door snapped shut and Kiyoko made her way to her room, letting out a relieved sigh that nothing worse happened. If Tomoya had chose to stay, if Enishi hadn't broke down...well now everything was settled. The petite woman settled herself down in a chair and looked out the window to the sea. And this...made her smile.