July 12, 1929 3:41am
Kenshin woke from a rather sound sleep and sat up in bed. He felt strange; it took him a few minutes to realize that he actually felt good. His health was growing poorer in his older age. Kaoru had aged so gracefully, but Kenshin had kinda gone to seed in a manner of speaking. In the past year, he'd fallen and broken his hip while walking the now narrow path to the river. He was told not to leave his home without someone anymore. But he didn't mind that much, Kaoru was more than happy to go with him, even if she did have to hold his arm. In the past few months he'd been feeling considerably run down, and hadn't left the house.
So now, lying in bed in the middle of the night, he wondered why he was feeling so good. He looked down at his wife, sleeping in the futon next to him. Her skin was still soft, and smooth. She was still slim and in good shape, even after three children. Kenshin smiled the same way he had almost twice a month, in the middle of the night, ever since they had married. *It is now that he notices the light shining on Kaoru's face. He looks up and sees the source of all the light. It's coming from the corner of the ceiling, and is so bright he has to cover his eyes. Kenshin notices his hand isn't old and wrinkled anymore. He feels his face and finds that it isn't wrinkled either. A voice calls from the light.
"You were the man called Kamiya Kenshin in life, once called Himura Kenshin, Himura Battousai, and Shinta." The voice said. It sounds familiar to him.
"Who are you?" Kenshin says.
"I am that which created you, and the female who sleeps next to you, as well as all life in existence and the existence itself." The voice says.
"Kami?" Kenshin says, in wonder.
"One of many names given to me, you may call me whatever you wish, my child." The voice says. Kenshin realizes that the voice is his own.
"What name would you prefer?" Kenshin asks.
"I have no 'name' as you know it. The most efficient way for your language to give my consciousness a designation, would take more paper than your planet's plant life can produce. Therefore, I would prefer you call me whatever you wish." The voice says. Kenshin nods.
"Come." The voice says. Kenshin looks down at Kaoru.
"She will wake to find you are no longer alive. You must move on now, your body cannot support the level of life you have now achieved. She will follow when her existence reaches the same level yours has." Kami says. Without fully understanding how, Kenshin rises off of his futon and floats toward the light. He leaves the Kamiya home behind, and travels through a tunnel made of clouds, and the night sky. Kenshin sees the deeds of his life circling in them. The closer to the light he gets, the faster the scenes play by. In seconds he's past his life as Hitokiri Battousai. A few seconds later he sees himself with Kaoru, he sees the images of the day they marry. A few more seconds and he sees his first child. The images slow, and Kenshin is stopped. He stares at the image playing on the cloud tunnel; The first time he held his first son. A moment later he continues on. The birth of his second son happens in much the same way. He is stopped an allowed to see a scene from his life. Kenshin soon realizes he is watching the parts of his life that he values most. He speeds up again and is floating up toward the light again. He stops again on the image of his Daughter's birth; the first and only of his children he witnesses being born. The images slow more now as he sees the images of Eiji completing Kamiya Kasshin Ryu, and of Kenji setting sail for London, to attend Cambridge. He sees Kasumi growing up, he sees the image of the first man she falls in love with. He sees her wedding, and The birth of his first Grandchild. Then the images speed up again until they almost become a blur.
He reaches the light; all around the light is a darkness.
"This is where we will judge your deeds in the first existence you have known." Kami says. Another voice speaks, this voice sounds like Battousai.
"If you fail here, your existence is no more." The Battou voice says.
"Who are you?" Kenshin asks.
"BE SILENT LIFE FORM!" The voice bellows
"It Is that which destroys."
"Destroys?" Kenshin says.
"I say SILENCE!"
"Destroys all, Destroys existence, and causes the absence of existence." Kami explains. "To save you from further speech, as the darkness wishes, you will stand so I may judge your existence, If I deem you worthy of continuing your existence to the next level, You will continue into the light. If I deem you unworthy, you will fall into the darkness and become one with it, one with nothing." Kami finishes, softly.
"You see what this life form wishes to remember most. Now see what he wishes to forget." The darkness says. Kenshin sees the images of his youth as Battousai flashing across the face of the darkness. Images of hundreds being slaughtered. Blood runs across the clouds where he stands. The images slow, and Kenshin sees the Image of himself killing a young woman. The scene repeats, slower. She's very elegant. The scene repeats. Her hair flow with the wind, just like that day. The scene repeats. Her name… **was Tomoe. Kenshin almost turns away, but continues facing the light and darkness.
"You wish not to see this?" The darkness says.
"I wish not to, but I will not deny this." Kenshin says.
"There are other instances." The scenes continue, more bloodshed, and anguish.
"This life form has no respect for that which you create. He clearly should be one with me, his life reflects this." The darkness says. "He takes so many life forms from their existence before their time, and only allows three to come into existence."
"Kami, This is only one chapter in-" Kenshin starts
"SILENCE LIFE FORM!!" The darkness bellows again.
"Kamiya Kenshin, you give three but take two hundred and fourteen, these lives arent able to continue to their next level, they must start over. You cannot reach the next level of existence-" Kami started.
"Then you are mine, life form!" the darkness says. Kenshin feels himself being pulled into the darkness.
"Wait!" The light calls out, it's brilliance increasing ten fold, and causing the darkness to cringe; It lets Kenshin go. "You may not proceed because you feel you are not ready to proceed." Kami explains.
"I do?" Kenshin asks.
"You feel guilt over one you could not help, a life form whose life cannot pass by here. You know who this being is, and you know if this being is able to be helped." Kami says.
"WHAT! No He's MINE!!" the darkness screams.
"BE SILENT!" Kami says, again radiating light deep into the darkness. Kenshin is certain he sees the faces of many humans when the darkness cringes.
"I know who? How do I help them?" Kenshin asks.
"You know that too." Kami says. Kenshin thinks to himself, wondering what Kami could mean. "I know who to help, and I know how. I can't think of anyone. Saitoh, but he's probably past hope. Sano, he's never really been too bad, he'll probably make it through. Shishio would most likely not pass here, but how could I help him? That leaves, Aoshi? He finally married Misao after six years. She's always loved him. I wonder if that could be enough to help him make it through. Who else is there…" He thinks.
"Hurry up life form!" The darkness yells.
"Who else in my life needs help…Soujiro!" Instantly Kenshin is transported to a street in a small town. Judging by the quality of the street, it's probably at least the turn of the century. Kenshin looked up and down the street, no one out. "Is this where I can help Soujiro? The sky is cloudy, it looks like rain." Kenshin looked down to see what he was wearing. "My gi, and hakama?" He put his hand on his face. "Smooth, I'm younger." He ran his hand over his left cheek. "No Scar"
"Help! Someone help me!" A young male voice screams. Kenshin bolted toward the sound.
* This is weird I know. I tried to give the writing a sense of non-linear time, as if there were no past, or future, only present.
**I just wanted to emphasize the past tense for that moment. To punctuate the final-ness of Tomoe's death.
Soujiro ran across the length of the warehouse, screaming at the top of his lungs. "My God Shishio San, Please help me!" Shishio's words echoing in his ear. The strong survive, The weak just die. Time seemed to slow down as he rounded the corner of the warehouse. "If I can just get to Shishio San's Wakizashi…" He thought as he slid in the mud near the corner of the warehouse.
"Get up!" He said to himself. He pulled himself to his feet and started to run again, but stopped. A man approached him, A samurai. He walked so calmly, and he had a soft look on his face. "Is he an angel, I asked God to save me… could this be god's answer?"
"Help me, please! They're trying to kill me!" He said, stumbling to his feet, and running toward the man. "Will you help me?" He asked the man,
"Don't worry, that's what I'm here for." The man said looking down at him.
Soujiro's foster family rounded the corner at about that time. The man, looked up at them, then ushered Soujiro behind him.
"What gives you the right to beat this boy, and threaten his life?" The man said.
"Get out of the way, you bum, or I'll kill you too." Soujiro's older Foster brother said, pointing his sword at the man.
"Go back into your home, and leave this boy alone."
"He's been harboring a fugitive, and giving away our food." Soujiro's foster father said, as if that were reason enough to kill him.
"Yeah, this isn't your business, bum, if you want to get involved you'll have to fight with me!"
"Fight me if you wish, but I'm taking this boy with me afterward." He answered. Soujiro cringed behind his leg.
"Who the hell do you think you are?" Soujiro's foster father asked.
"Just a Rurouni." He answered.
"Feh, this is taking too long, Get outta my way you bum!" The older brother said, lunging with his sword toward the Rurouni. The Rurouni pulled his sword, sheath and all up, and defended all of his attacks. The brother stepped back and checked his sword for blood.
"You can't even make him draw his sword? What kind of a worthless son are you?" The father said. The enraged brother charged again at the Rurouni. This time slashing more blindly. He dodged easily. He hopped back and back again. The brother stopped.
"Heh, just where I want you." He said, turning toward the now generally undefended Soujiro.
"Die you little Shi-" He started, interrupted by the sound of his arm breaking.
"I told you, he comes with me." The Rurouni said, his sword drawn. The brother got a good look at it; it was backward. The blade was on the wrong side. He fell, clutching his arm in pain. The rest of the family looked on in disbelief. The Rurouni turned to Soujiro, knelt down and smiled.
"You'll come with me now, I'll take you somewhere safer."
"Thank you. I can't pay you though…" Soujiro said, looking at his shocked foster family.
"I don't need pay." The Rurouni said. "Shall we go?" He said, lifting the boy over his shoulder.
"What is your name?" Soujiro asked.
"Just call me Rurouni."
Kenshin walked down the street in the misty spring morning, thinking, as he usually did. "Tokyo is always nice this time of year, I like coming through in spring. This is…the fourth time I've traveled through. I need to find a place to eat, I wonder if the Akabeko is still open?" He thought.
"Wait!" A girl's voice called from behind. "Wait, Hitokiri Battousai!
"huh?" Kenshin turned around to see a young woman holding a bokken, and wearing a practice gi.
"I finally found you. You're shorter than I expected, Hitokiri Battousai!" She said. "Prepare yourself!" She yelled lunging toward him.
"ORO!" He leapt up to avoid her swing, gliding over, and landing on a rooftop. It gave way. "oro?!" he said quickly, falling through the roof and landing in a pile of wood, buckets, and other debris. Ooorooooooo…"
"This is the notorious Hitokiri Battousai? The serial killer who murdered three people last night?" The girl asked.
"Rurouni," He said, tossing his head to one side to knock a bucket off. "I'm a Rurouni, A wandering swordmaster. Besides, do you think I could kill anyone with this?" He said, pointing the hilt of his sword toward her. She slowly drew the sword from its sheath.
"What gives, the blade's on the wrong side?" She said, examining the sword.
"It's a Sakabatou."
"Sakabatou?" She repeated.
"It's not made to kill, take a closer look." He said, standing up, and brushing the dirt from his hakama.
"It looks brand new, there isn't a scratch on the blade." She said, turning the sword this way and that, letting the light hit it from different angles."
"So you see I can't be your killer." He said, smiling.
"A serial killer is here in Tokyo, and has started killing people. You sure look like a serial killer, conveniently wandering around while all this is going on," She started, stepping closer to him. She held the sword in front of her, with what would usually be the blade edge facing her. On Kenshin's Sakabatou, it was facing away from her, and only millimeters from his nose chin and forehead. "and carrying a sword is Illegal in this Meiji era." She continued, waving his sword erratically in front of her. The sound of police whistles stopped her. She turned toward the sound.
"That has to be him this time!" She said, tossing the sword into the air and taking off down the street.
"Oro! Oro, oroo, oro!" Kenshin said, looking up into the sky and stepping around blindly, trying to get under his sword. He held up the scabbard, under the falling sword. It slid perfectly into its sheath. Kenshin looked down the street in the direction the girl ran off in.
"You're so weak!" The huge masked man said, Holding a blood drenched sword in his left hand. Two police officers hesitantly stepped forward to fight him. He slashed them immediately across their chests. The two officers fell dead, leaving the last one to stand shaking in the street.
"I can't believe this is the legendary Hitokiri." He said to himself. Kaoru jumped over his head and swung at the massive killer. He countered her swing. She slid to a halt, facing him. A small spray of blood squirted from her right shoulder. She winced but otherwise remained ready for his next attack. He stepped forward, and swung at her; she defended, but her bokken was cut in two. She looked with shock at her ruined weapon, and then at the masked murderer, swinging his sword down at her. Kenshin ran past scooping her up in his arms and running past the killer's swing. He slid to a halt a few meters from the killer. She looked up to see who had saved her.
"Rurouni?" She said.
"Your wooden sword isn't very effective against his real one." He said, smiling at her. More police whistles sounded, distracting the killer from the two. He ran off through the policemen, slashing two as he went.
"I am Hitokiri Battousai! Kamiya Kasshin Ryu's Hitokiri Battousai!" He yelled as he ran off.
"No, wait." Kaoru said, struggling in Kenshin's arms.
"He's gone now." Kenshin said.
"No, I lead Kamiya Kasshin Ryu, I can't let a serial killer ruin my dojo…" She said, her words tapering off before she finally passed out.
"What strong spirit." Kenshin said to himself. He heard footsteps approaching. He looked up just in time to see a young man slide out of an alley. He had a wooden sword too.
"Hey you! What are you doing with a…Kaoru!" He said, running over to Kenshin. "What did you do to her!?" He demanded.
"She took on the serial killer by herself, and she got hurt. Do you know her?" Kenshin asked.
"She's my sister." He said. It finally hit him where he'd seen this man before. "This is the man who saved me." Soujiro thought. "This is the Rurouni."
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