Summary: Kaoru, the daughter of an Irish King, must save her brothers
from an enchantment placed on them by an evil sorceress. What will
happen when she falls in love with a Britain? Story is based off of
Juliet Marillier's book Daughter of the Forest. KK
I do not own Rurouni Kenshin, or Daughter of
As much as I'd love to take credit for Nobuhiro Watsuki's and Juliet
Marillier's creations, I'd rather keep what little money I have.
A/N: This story is written for a mature audience. There will be references to rape, torture and violence in later chapters. I do not enjoy this side of humanity, but this is a period piece. The term "The Dark Ages" was given for a reason. If you have a problem with any of these themes I urge you not to continue reading.
Also keep in mind that this story is going to have a lot of OOCiness and that siblings may be split up. Do not act like I didn't warn you.
Italics mean mental converstations.
Daughter of the Forest RK Style
Chapter 1: The House of Sevenwaters
"Soujiro, Tsunan, wait up!" I'd scream while running after them. "Can't we walk?"
"We have to hurry up if we're going to get to the lake on time," they would laugh back while quickening their pace.
Despite my lack of height and age, I would run after my brothers as fast as my legs could manage. I always knew that I would fail to keep up with them, but that never stopped me from trying. I may be the only girl in a household of men, but my brothers have never treated me thus. I am a child of Sevenwaters and I must fulfill my title. I would rather die than show my brothers that I am weaker than them.
So everyday, my brothers and I would meet at Rock Lake. In those days we had little responsibility and could easily find the time to enjoy each other's company. Our father didn't care what we did or where we went, as long as we were back home in time for dinner. Our father was much too busy trying to win back the islands to be paying much attention to his seven children.
As we got older, times changed. As future leaders of our tuath we have all been given roles to fulfill. For the eldest son, Okubo, my father is trying to mold him into a proud leader of our tuath. Our father is a difficult task maker and keeps Okubo constantly busy. When he isn't outside helping the villagers or practicing his warfare, he is inside studying strategy with our father. Sometimes I will pass him through the halls or see him during dinner, but otherwise our time is mostly spent apart.
The second eldest son, Souzou, is a fine soldier and has a great aptitude for swordplay. He is gifted when it comes to strategy games, but is nothing in comparison to our father, Okubo or Okita. Though Souzou knows he will never become Commander of the army, he is content knowing that he is the best at lifting the men's morale. Whenever our father is going to announce a new campaign, he calls on Souzou to rally the troops before hand.
The next eldest sons are Okita and Shougo. They may be twins, but no two individuals could be less similar.
Okita is smaller and may be the scrawnier of the two, but he is the best strategist our father has. No one can surpass him with a sword and he is favored above all others to become Commander.
As for my brother Shougo, he is destined to be a scholar. He spends his days reading books in our father's library and speaking to the Christian Holy Man.
Many a day, Soujiro and I would accompany Shougo to the Christian's place of refuge and study. When our father heard of our trips, he hired the Christian to teach us how to read and write in both Gaelic and English. My father once said, "If a man is to fight one's enemy, you must first know how he thinks."
Despite the fact that our family is well known throughout Erin to be one of the last places to practice the old faith, that never got in the way of our studies. The Christian respected our people and thought no ill toward our practices.
The Christian not only is a scholar, but skilled in the arts of medicine also. After taking note of my interest in the field, he began training me. After several years of studying, my healing skills have surpassed the Christian's. At his request I took his place as the main practicing healer of Sevenwaters.
As for the fifth son, Soujiro, our father tried to shape him into a spy. Soujiro not only is close to Okita's equal in swordplay, but he also has God like speed and the ability to hide in the shadows. Despite our father's efforts, Soujiro never was complacent. This enraged our father to no end. He would punish Soujiro on an almost daily basis, but my brother's will never folded. Our father eventually learned to accept my brother's shortcomings though he is more than displeased. As for Soujiro, he revels in our father's anger.
In the few times that word must be spoken between the two, Soujiro's silent way of protesting is by never showing his emotions. This strategy has worked so well that Soujiro soon became obsessed with his facade. After a couple of years, it seems that he has lost all ability to stop smiling.
Despite the fact that he does not show his emotions, I know better than to believe that he feels nothing. My brother and I hold a bond that few siblings share. Ever since I can remember, my brother and I have been able to communicate to one another without the use of words. Through our bond, we share more than a childhood, but a shared consciousness. For I feel his every pain and hear his every thought, just as he can do the same for me. I don't know how we found out about this ability; all I know is that we have it.
The youngest son and sixth child, Tsunan, is also trained in the arts of war. He might not be as courageous as our brother Soujiro, but I know that his heart also isn't in his sword. He has a brilliant mind that can solve any problem you set before him, but his true love lies in caring for the animals. Our father sees this and allows my brother to spend half his days training and the other half tending to the livestock. My brother is extremely shy around people and much prefers to deal with animals that do not judge or expect too much from him.
Then there is myself, the seventh child, Kaoru. When I was born, my mother, Akiko, died after giving birth. My mother's death was a terrible blow for the entire tuath. I never got to know her, but everyone who speaks of her mentions her exceptional beauty and inner strength.
Things have never been the same since her death. Our father immediately hated anything that reminded him of his late wife. Supposedly he avoided his children to the point of never glancing at his infant daughter.
After fourteen years of mourning, our father has finally learned to disassociate his children from the memory of our mother, except in the case of Soujiro and myself. When I questioned Soujiro about our father's treatment towards us, he replied that it's because we remind of him too much of what he's lost. Not only did our mother die giving birth to me, but I look almost identical to her. In Soujiro's case, he shares our mother's eyes and spirit.
The fact that the sight of us pains our father fills me with shame and anger. Is it such a curse that two of his children resemble his dead wife? No matter what I say or do, nothing seems to rid him of his pain. At first I saw my inability to reach our father personally, but I have come to realize that our father is too spiritually wounded to face his inner demons. The situation became much easier to bare once I become a healer and gave our father some space.
On nights when the weather is fair Soujiro and I often sneak on top of the roof to star gaze. What looks like companionable silence between the two of us is actually melding of the minds. While I enjoy mentally speaking to him about my day, he prefers to show to me through images. It is during these times that we speak of whatever feelings or emotions we can no longer keep bunched up inside of us. We often spend the entire night doing so in total neglect of how late it is getting. Tonight just happens to be such a moment.
"Soujiro, what's wrong? It must be pressing or else you wouldn't have questioned my whereabouts this evening." I say while staring into his sad blue eyes. It's times like these that make me wonder how anyone could take his smile for face value.
"I really can't hide any thing from you can I? Soujiro replies with his famous cheerful smile.
After a short pause he continues, "There are things that I must speak to you of. I wished not to burden you, but I can't help but feel like I'm betraying your trust by keeping this secret. Lately, I have seen things. Images of past, present and future and I can't seem to turn it off. I have seen things that I'd wish upon no enemy. I see death, destruction, and chaos yet…"
"I can't tell if they are indeed fragments of the past, present, or future. For all I know they could never happen and only be symbols.
"Why haven't you told me before?" I reply with a tinge of hurt. "Why hide this from me? Don't you trust me? Does anyone else know about this?"
Soujiro stares up at the stars in contemplation for a couple of seconds. I continue watching my brother, in hopes of a timely response.
With eyes still focused on the night sky, Soujiro replies with a guilt redden inner voice, "You're the first person I have told though I wouldn't be surprised if Shougo has started to catch on. As for why I didn't tell you, I think I was scared. I had no idea how you would react."
"You shouldn't have ever doubted me? I have always been there for you, so why would this make any difference? I'm your sister! I have the right to know about this and so do our brothers. We're family! Families should not hold such secrets." I state angrily.
"I'm sorry Kaoru. I didn't mean to hurt you or our brothers. I felt that I needed to hide this from everyone until I understood it better. I hope you can forgive me."
I cannot let my anger get the better of me. His only crime is not knowing how address the problem. How can you inform others of something that you have yet to fully understand?
"I'm sorry, Soujiro. I understand your delay, but I think there is more to this meeting than you have let on. I think it best that you tell me." I say in a matter of fact tone.
Proud of my insight, Soujiro immediately replies, "For the past few weeks I have seen images of a darkness befalling our home. I don't exactly know what it is, but I feel an undeniable evil coming our way. I don't know when or how it will show up, but the image is growing more persistent. From this point on, nothing will be the same."
"How can we fight something that we can not see?" I reply while staring at my brother in disbelief.
With a dark undertone, Soujiro remarks, "I don't know. All we can do is be prepared for whatever might come our way. We must remain strong in order to over come what we're about to face."
I don't know if it is just my imagination or a warning from an Otherworldly being, but I suddenly feel a cold chill overtake my body.
"I wish I had something nicer to foretell," Soujiro says sadly.
"You can't help what you see, plus who's to say that it's true? Did you not say that your visions don't always speak true?
As I leave my brother's side and head towards my room, Soujiro's words repeatedly enter my thoughts and will not be shut out.
"We must remain strong in order to over come what we're about to face."