Disclaimer: Peacemaker Kurogane does not belong to these faeries.

Note: The song excerpts will be from the Smashing Pumpkins 1995 album, Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness. The summary is a lyric from their song, 'Tonight, Tonight.'

CHAPTER ONE

The wind howled ferociously across the outskirts of Kyoto, and combined with the intense heat of the noon sun could have stalled an army of even the most brazen samurai. Through papery trees it hissed, scattering leaves and dust through dying fields, before lingering on an area of unfinished rice paddies.

The farmers watched in dismay, no one could have predicted such harsh weather that had overwhelmed them so suddenly this season. A few were determined to stand their ground even when the wind become more severe, hurling stones and dirt at the men. Eventually it became apparent that they were no match for such brutal force and they ran for cover behind the torn limbs of what had been towering trees.

As they hid, fervently praying the newly planted rice would hold, one of the farmers could not help but yell to his comrades, his shouts drowned out by the roaring wind. They turned to see what the commotion was all about, squinting in the direction he was waving his arm.

Their eyes widened.

Against the backdrop of the crimson sky, a slim silhouette was trudging along the horizon, trying to keep up with the pace of the whirlwind. The scent of smoke grew stronger with his approach, almost trailing behind him. They stared in astonishment -- if they, grown men, who had become toughened by the natural elements and toil of their work, could not withstand this sandstorm, it seemed impossible that any ordinary man would be able to wander amidst the chaos.

The farmers stared on in awe and pity, shielding their faces from the biting wind until the figure was swallowed whole into the shroud of sand and smoky mist.

They stayed put as the seconds ticked by, waiting for the weather to calm down. Then on shaky legs they stood, gazing into the distance, momentarily oblivious to the destruction surrounding them as they searched for a glimpse of the figure. The farmers wondered if their eyes had been playing tricks on them, before coming to the realisation that they could not have all seen the same mirage. Shrugging it off, the men took in the ruined landscape at last, and began clearing the debris with heavy hearts.

They felt some momentary pity for whoever they had seen, thinking he had to have been finished off by the blizzard. They were unaware that the figure, though burned and thirsty, was still very much alive, and he continued to stagger on, assured in the knowledge that once again, he had escaped death.

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Ten times removed

I forget about where it all began…

A wild eyed child of the sun

And right as rain

I'm not the same but

I feel the same, I feel nothing

Holding back the fool again

Holding back the fool pretends

I forget to forget

nothing is important

Holding back the fool again

I sensed my loss

Before I even learned to talk…

And all along, I knew it was wrong

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A blistered hand shielded his delicate features from the wind, while the other gingerly ran over his body, examining burns he had received from a fire he didn't want to recall. Just thinking about the incident that had left him wounded for life and out in the middle of nowhere was enough to make Kichisaburo clench his fist in anger.

He regretted the action immediately as a jolt of pain sped up his right arm, his sword fighting arm. He gritted his teeth as he then thought about the other more recent situation that left him with a temporarily useless arm as well as swordless. He doubled over at the side of the road, and not just because of the pain he felt while straining his muscles. He had been attacked by mere peasant boys, he thought angrily, who had taken advantage of his weak state.

Fuming, he supported himself against the fence post and inhaled deeply, staring out beyond the field of failing crops, his eyes betraying his blank expression. He stole a glance at the road with disdain -- if you could call it a road, he mused, scowling at the dirt track with its jutting rocks gleaming in the sun.

The wind made his once glossy locks billow around him, grating his nerves. It wasn't as harsh as it was a couple of hours ago, but it still irritated him. He took a moment to tie his hair into a ponytail, wishing he still had his sword so he could just cut it off. Long hair certainly had no place in the midst of such weather.

He wondered if the ponytail made him look more like a samurai, but with that thought came an old twinge of bitterness, so he shoved it away.

Gazing around at the remote plains, for it seemed that was all he could do, Kichisaburo tried to formulate an explanation as to why the weather had been acting peculiar, but he couldn't come up with any. He wondered if it was normal around here, and if it was only him who thought it unusual.

After all, he never really had the chance to explore the outdoors, he was understandably accustomed to more lavish surroundings indoors. Though he did venture out for a spot of sightseeing here and there…He laughed out loud at his misstatement, sightseeing indeed.

It was of course, in the shadows that he relished in his ultimate attraction. Killing….slaying…murdering… however you wanted to put it. This pastime gave him no time to notice even the glittering mass of stars overhead, not that he ever looked up at them. He had never been one for nature. Not since he was a small child. But now, as he desperately looked around, the irony of his surroundings was enough to make him scream. As of this moment though, he was too weak even for that.

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"Damn those Mibu ronin."

A rancour smell purged the smoky remains of a once grand temple, as an annoyed and heavily draped man surveyed the debris. "I can't believe they evaded my eight element battle formation," he muttered to himself, his kohl outlined eyes livid at how he had been beaten.

"They were supposed to go mad…"

He nudged at the rubble, causing the ashes to rise. He ignored the soot and thought instead of what an unfortunate death the nobleman and his lover had escaped in.

"But in the end it was only them who succumbed to madness…"

Shaking his head, he retreated from the place that now held the aura of a cemetery, and with it he left behind the purpose he had served whilst staying there."I hope you will find peace in the after world, my Lord. And you as well Kichisaburo." he thought as he walked away. "Although I highly doubt you will."

The faint purring of a cat could be heard as silence fell upon the old ruins again.

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"Atchoo!"

Frowning, Kichisaburo looked back at his former path.

The road was clouded by patches of blowing sand, and for some reason it brought relief to him that he could not see what he had left behind him. He had planned to get as far away as he could from Kyoto and its dreamless nights. Away from Yogatoya, where he made a living fulfilling the pleasures of men, whether carnal, or murderous. He had slain so many people in those familiar alleyways around the place that had been his home, that he could always smell blood, no matter where he was.

It wasn't a bother, for it was something he relished.

In the last few weeks though, he had wanted to get away. And although the fire had nearly killed him, it had been the perfect excuse to leave. It wasn't as if he owed his Yogatoya anything; he had brought in more money than they had ever expected from him. And so, he was retreating as far away as he could from the place that had been all he had ever known since he was five years old.

And also, away from Mibu, where he had been employed to impersonate the Shinsengumi Captain, Souji Okita. He had envied the man, so much so, that he would have absolutely delighted in killing him. And perhaps he would have, if that irritating Vice commander hadn't stepped in front of him that fateful night of the fire.

The protectiveness he showed towards the younger man had only fired Kichisaburo's jealousy. How lucky it was, to have someone care for you that way. And of course, the man had been quite a looker. That had raised his jealousy a notch, though he didn't know if they were involved that way or not. Either way, he certainly didn't care. He had nothing to do with the Shinsengumi anymore, they were sure to think he was dead now.

As far as Kichisaburo was concerned, he had burned to death with the Lord in his estate. In Kyoto, he was dead. There would be no going back.

He smirked at the hazy memory of 'His Lordship' engulfed in the flickering flames. He had already started to forget about their encounter, like all his clients, yet he couldn't help but feel some pity for the unbalanced Maru.The man was after all the first being to sacrifice his life for him. In such a long time, a voice in his head added.

The more Kichisaburo dwelled upon the incident the more conflicted he felt. His eyes never left the arid landscape as he struggled to keep his emotions at bay, remembering the other who had once done the exact thing. To him it seemed a long, long time ago, yet he knew it had only been a few years.

Kichisaburo reached over and broke a wheat stalk, toying with it.

His vision blurred as the wheat was crushed in his palm. And these days, when he thought of her gaze, all he saw was scarlet….

I've cheated death twice.

He wasn't one for a premature death, never had been. But it wasn't as if that had ever been in his hands.

Refusing to dwell on the unwelcome reminders, Kichisaburo trudged back onto the road. His stomach grumbled, he bet he looked as undernourished as any stray around Kyoto. The comparison made him huff, as he futilely attempted to smooth out his bangs.

Kichisaburo, also known as a beautiful creature to most men, didn't even want to think about the state of his dress, let alone look at it. Hoping to find shelter before sunset, he trekked onwards, his dry throat reminding him that if he didn't find water soon, his body would fail him before his mind would. Grumbling, he thought of the more harmless peasants he recently passed, instead of gloating at how they gawked at him, he should have at least asked for some food.

The long and winding dirt road didn't seem to end, and having nothing to lose, he followed it.

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