Disclaimer: I don't own Rurouni Kenshin...at all...not even a smidgen...*depressed*
Author's Note: Yet another attempt at creativity. Note that relative ages are not as important in this fic. Please let me know what you think! Review!
The dark windowless room was lit by candles standing in two rows on the wooden floor, their eerie lights fueled by magic. The flames themselves seemed to float above the wicks. These candles did not have dripping wax along their lengths. Magic, indeed.
The doorway opened outward and a large figure walked in. Even this movement did not deter the candles from their purpose as they continued to light a straight path to the other end of the room. Heavy footsteps made their way towards the monument of weapons displayed on the opposite wall. Truly, a display of power once wielded. A large hand reached out for a sword hanging high above the other weapons. Waves of energy came off of it like smoke, surrounding the blade and warding off unwanted attention. The hilt itself was worn and dirty with some semblance of blood that was unable to be washed off. It sensed the intrusion and struck.
"Damn it." The man cursed as he held his hand in pain, falling to his knees. He glared with his dark eyes at the sword held upon a frame on the wall. The intense throbbing wouldn't stop, as if someone were squeezing his hand in punishment. It became swollen and dark, remnants of the dark energy flowing through his veins. Would he have to cut it off now to avoid the curse?
Dark laughter came from behind Gohei Hiruma and so he turned abruptly to face a bandaged man. Hiruma was a broad and tall person dressed in garments similar to a monk's. His pointed straw hat dropped at his abrupt turn to reveal a thick beard and perspiration. His face was still twisted in agony.
"Shishio!" He hissed, backing himself into a corner. Despite the fact that he towered over Shishio by a great length, he knew not to test this man's patience, especially since Gohei had disobediently entered the room containing the powerful weapons they had stolen. What he didn't know was that Shishio didn't bother to guard this room heavily because all the weapons were damn cursed anyway.
Shishio was a smaller man bandaged from his head down to his arms and torso. Where the white cloth was loose, one could see evidence of burnt flesh already healed yet now marred scar tissue. The burn marks would never leave his scarred body. Right now, his eyes shone with mischief and plotting. Gohei could tell the man was dangerous as he was evil. Shishio walked towards the same area Gohei stood in and the large man gladly stepped aside to give way. His eyes were fixed to the sword that Gohei had attempted to grasp.
Gohei almost missed the child that had followed behind Shishio. Her small pale hand held one of Shishio's bandaged ones. She stepped up to stand next to him. It was a little girl with short black hair and dazed blue eyes. She looked almost lost, but had no trace of fear. Was she drugged? Perhaps under Shishio's strong spell? Gohei frowned. No man should have that much magical power. When Shishio would allow his magic to spread outwards from his body, it choked nearby onlookers and caused the weak of heart to faint. There was no need for incantations, magic circles, or mystic items.
Shishio's voice cooed. "Say hello Kaoru. This is the sword of Battousai."
Gohei's curiosity peaked. Did he want to kill the little girl? "The brat can't be over 10." Gohei pointed out.
Shishio said nothing in reply, only watching as the child responded to his alluring voice by raising her head to look at the unsheathed blade. A spark of recognition was lit in her eyes.
Gohei's eyes widened, forgetting his pain. "You mean she is one of them? "
She could possibly be the one.
He glanced over her once more. The state of her kimono told him she lived in the middle class area of the city. Her skin was pale and delicate and without scars. She wasn't a brat from the streets. This was confirmed by her size. She was thin, but not bony so she had been eating well wherever she was. If she had any parents, Shishio must have killed them, probably burned them to the ground. "Oblivious fools." Gohei sneered. He preferred not to participate in the fights, but the most recent family, perhaps hers, that they had targeted apparently took out many of Shishio's men. Shishio himself had to step in. Gohei had hoped the recent mission would have held Shishio up long enough for Gohei to steal one of the weapons for himself to keep or sell.
Shishio chuckled and pet the little girl on the head. She seemed immune to the dark power that radiated from the sword. "Rare indeed. She was hard to find, but she will prove useful."
"Will you keep looking for more like her?" Gohei inquired, quite suspicious. Why would Shishio let her out of all of them take Battousai's sword?
Shishio shook his head, seemingly in a good mood. "No. I believe we've found a sufficient amount in this region. I do not want to waste anymore time. I will have my desires soon." He knelt down and picked up the little girl as if she were his own child.
"Her name is Kaoru Kamiya. Isn't she adorable?" Shishio smiled an evil smile.
Gohei's brows furrowed. "How do you know the brat's name?"
"Her name…was the last thing her parents yelled before their demise." And with that Shishio laughed and held Kaoru up to the sword. Gohei half expected the sword's energy to eat her whole, but it stayed. It was not threatened by Kaoru. He felt a twinge of envy. Battousai's sword contained power that probably rivaled Shishio's and the spirit of a killer.
"Amazing." Gohei breathed, the pain in his hand finally dissipating. He suspected it was due to the sword paying attention to the girl.
Shishio let the girl run her hands along the hilt and the top of the blade. His voice took on a story telling tone. "Each mage warrior's sword has a protection spell. It is a part of that warrior from memory to personality. Along with the magic abilities endowed on the sword, it is also said that only the owner could touch it."
Shishio smiled as Kaoru continued to touch the sword without consequence. The sword's black energy floated gingerly on her hand before wrapping around her arm and exploring her body. Slowly Shishio put her on the floor as Battousai's spell searched Kaoru's soul.
"Yes, get to know this sword well. It belonged to a man I've hated for a long time now. No one knows the numbers he has killed. But after the war he left his sword and disappeared. Abandoning such power is a waste. Don't you think so Hiruma?" Shishio asked without looking at the third party in the room. Gohei could only nod. The presence of Battousai was becoming more and more apparent and Gohei was finding it hard to breathe.
The sword lifted itself off the frame as Kaoru held both palms out. Her blue eyes were wide, but as soon as she held the heavier sword in her hands, they became dark. Memories and feelings she had never known began to fill her. She began shaking.
"She IS a wielder, one who is empathetic with weapons of all sorts." Gohei watched intently as Kaoru held the sword up. She held it without trouble, as if she were completely comfortable with it, as if SHE were Battousai himself.
Shishio laughed maniacally, his loose bandages shaking. "This is perfect! You and the other wielders will lead my cause. Your parents were very good at convincing everyone you had no magic powers."
Gohei had to admit that Shishio was just as good a strategist as he was a zealous killer. This mastermind somehow managed to find the person who guarded the collection of family names and residences who possessed powerful magic. After the war, the identities of these people were protected to avoid the negative stigma against those who used magic. This was because the most powerful and feared of the fighters were men and women who could cast spells, control minds, and throw fire and water from their fingertips and weapons. And while there were guns to be reckoned with on both sides of the war, the forces that were remembered where those who wielded weapons such blades embedded with their magic and intent to kill. Only the owners can hold what they've used to kill. However, during this time of peace, many of them left the weapons with trusted personnel who promised to destroy them.
Gohei was one of those trusted people, until he met Shishio and was promised a large reward for keeping specific weapons safe from destruction. Handpicked by Shishio, these weapons represented people he had encountered on his path during the war. Shishio's side had lost, but Gohei figured habits died hard or never died at all when it came to men of war.
"Genius." Was all Gohei could say. In the war, when a powerful soldier who used a magical weapon died, it might have seemed like that person's talents were lost forever. But there was a small class of wielders who took on the weapon and adapted to that warrior's style. All wielders can touch any weapon they wish and learn how they are used. It was like seeing the fallen battler resurrected. Fortunately, wielders were not as needed because it was rare for such powerful beings to die. They were nothing but back up plans in most cases. Yet Shishio created a plan to exploit them to create a new world were the strongest of both sides of the war would enforce his rules. Battousai was deemed to have the speed of the gods as well as invincibility. Yet he more than anyone shared the government's vision of peace and so left his sword and lifestyle to retire to one of a pacifist. Rumors were that he had taken a vow not to kill. If this girl could truly wield this sword, then that meant that Shishio…
"You have resurrected Battousai, the man slayer."
It was not easy sneaking into his daughter's room. Not only was he badly wounded, but his wife had lost a lot of blood as well. She was weakening by the second. But both he and she knew that they could not accomplish this without her. The rain would not stop pouring. It was both a blessing and a curse as it was easy to weave in and out in the cover of the hard rain. Drenched down to the bone, the Kamiyas climbed into the room Shishio had placed Kaoru.
It was sparse. There was not even a bed. Kaoru lay in a bundle of worn rags not fit to be called blankets. She was shaking considerably. In one swift movement Kamiya had taken out the drunken guard that was also stationed in the room. It was a grave mistake he was thankful that Shishio had made.
"Do you think…?" The worried voice of his wife reached his ears. Her knees shook from the lack of blood but her face showed no weakness. It was characteristic Kaoru had taken from her. He lovingly tucked a strand of loose black her behind her ear.
"It seems we were too late. But we can still escape. How are you feeling dear?" He whispered. To her he was strength and confidence but also gentleness and kindness. Tears threatened to fall. He had suffered internal injuries that she was not sure he could survive.
"I'm fine." She sighed into his hand. How she loved him.
He nodded, water dripping down his face. They had hidden for so long in peace that they were completely caught off guard when Shishio had shown up at their door. His men had been no problem, but Shishio was a powerful force.
"Kaoru, quickly. We must depart." Kaoru's eyes opened slowly but not fully. Her father's eyes widened at the blackness of her eyes. What had Shishio done to her? As he made to gather her in his arms, he fell to the wooden floor in pain, a thud resounding in the room. His wife rushed to his side silently. His fall might have alerted someone in the next room. Sure enough, she heard footsteps slowly heading to Kaoru's room.
"I will perform the transport." Her voice had resolve.
His eyes widened. "The plan was to escape and then recover for 3 days before you transported all of us." He gasped, the pain in his chest even stronger. It shot down his body. Broken bones, he concluded. Probably internal bleeding.
She began to form hand signs, a soft glow emanating from her body. She pointed her palm at the door and the lock snapped into place. She then placed her hands on the floor and a circle filled with mystical symbols appeared on the floor. "I can't make one big enough for all of us." She whispered, almost in defeat. The door shook back and forth as several men tried to make their way in. One man cursed as her spell burned his hand when he reached for the knob.
Her husband stood up slowly and drew his bokken. "Send Kaoru."
"You don't have to tell me that." She insisted.
He looked back at her and smiled. Their eyes met as he said, "It's just that you never listen to the plan."
She snorted. "I don't comply to plans? Well, you never intended to be transported along with us. You knew you wouldn't survive those injuries for more than 3 days without seeking medical attention. You weren't planning on coming with us."
"Let's just put this behind us, love."
She raised a brow, but suddenly felt a wave of energy leave her. The transport circle was ready. She struggled to stay awake. "Be safe my dear Kaoru. We will always be watching you."
A bright light engulfed the room, raising the girl's body several feet above the floor before she was lowered and then continued lowering through the floor. As she passed through the floor, she would appear on the floor of another location, hopefully in the home of a friend. Kaoru's eyes suddenly went wide as the magic of the sword wore off. "Mama? Mama…" Even if the little girl reached for her mother, her mother would not reach back for her. Instead she offered her the last words she would hear. "Please, be free Kaoru. Your father and I love you with all our hearts."
With that she collapsed, breathing heavily.
A bandaged figure broke through the door and the courageous husband stood before him, protecting his wife and the disappearing body of his daughter.
Shishio's power rolled off him in heat waves and the room seemed to melt.
"You will never have her Shishio."
"We'll find out now, won't we? Now, please die and stay dead."
Her screams would not cease. Her body twisted, writhed, and convulsed, her arms reaching out for the air above her. Her back arched, her legs kicked, and her eyes switched from black to blue and back to black. The middle aged man struggled to hold her arms down, a capped syringe in his mouth. He needed to still her long enough to administer the calming herbal mixture. He did not want to risk the needle breaking in her arm.
"Child!" He berated with a full mouth, but to no avail. Her high pitched voice started to become hoarse and her cries increased in volume. Finally he placed most of his weight on one arm and quickly snapped the cap of the syringe off with his teeth, pulling on the needle with his free hand. The needle dove into her skin and he pushed the sedating liquid in. Immediately she started to quiet down and the doctor sighed.
"I am not knowledgeable in magic, but I know you were brought here through it. It's not every day I have a little girl rising through my floor." He looked at her state. She was greasy and smudged with dirt and so pale he was close to thinking she lost a large amount of blood. Now she seemed, to best summarize it, drained. "It looks as if you've suffered a lot little one." Dr. Gensai sighed and sat up, placing a tired head on a propped knee.
Surprisingly she kept her consciousness, if this could be considered a state of awareness. Blood seeped out where he had injected his medicine. Taking a clean cloth, he applied pressure. He must've been a little rougher than he had anticipated.
Her chest rose and fell slowly. Her pale face was faced towards the ceiling. She swallowed and she looked as if she were attempting to speak. "Ma…ma…"
"Rest. We shall speak in the morning as soon as you rise."
Silent tears rolled down her cheeks. Her eyes closed and thus ended the first night Dr. Gensai took Kamiya Kaoru under his charge.
The young man fell to his knees, cradling his hurt arm to his chest. He was one of the ten wielders Shishio had recruited and the weapon Shishio had synced him with were the kunai of Makimachi Misao, elusive spy and beautifully deadly ninja. Shishio pushed the black haired youth to the side.
"Useless." Shishio had thought that he could instead have Battousai's sword paired with another wielder. But the dark sword of the manslayer was not cooperating. Why?
"Leave. Continue your training." He snapped at the boy, who stood despite the intensity of the shock from the sword and left Shishio in the room. All the weapons had taken a wielder and so what used to be a wall full of displayed blades was now only left with empty frames. Shishio drew his sword and placed its tip in the flame of a candle to his left. Only one sword remained on the wall, and it was the sword he had wanted to see active the most.
"Battousai. Even you're sword annoys me." He grumbled and the tip of his sword seemed to catch on fire. He drew a circle that was his height. The very air the tip touched seemed to light on fire and a solid outline of a circle was ablaze before him. The room was hot, the way that he liked it. Sheathing his blade, he stepped through the circle and into darkness.
This was the plane where spirits and the physical world met. It was considered a powerful spell and only those who were willing to risk their souls could perform it. Here, Shishio knew he could confront the spirit of the sword.
Immediately a voice questioned him.
Gold eyes in the distance glared almost as brightly as fire itself.
"I am the one who currently has a hold on this sword. I assume you are the spirit of the sword."
No answer. The eyes closed and disappeared from sight.
"And why do you come here?"
"I came to question why you refuse to take on a new owner."
"I want her."
If there was any light, then the spirit would have seen Shishio's eyes widen. However, his voice betrayed this expression.
"I see. Unfortunately, she is not at my disposal. Are you sure you will take no other as your wielder?" Shishio's voice was like that of a diplomat. He did his best to sound as persuasive as possible.
"I am not a fickle weapon. Let's leave it at that. Why is she not responding to my callings? She had better not be dead."
"I wish for the same, friend." Shishio responded quickly. But he wondered how the sword was able to produce callings? It definitely lived up to its owner, the Battousai, to have such a capability. Callings allowed weapons and masters to, in a sense, communicate and find one another in battle. If a master dropped his sword and called for it, the sword would immediately fly to its master's side no matter where it was. A sword calling out to its master was also useful when spies used their weapons to locate enemies and their headquarters by slipping their weapons into clothing or sacks or on horses. Misao's kunai may have had weaker destructive powers, but its ability to call compensated for that. Battousai was powerful indeed to have both power and calling.
"I am afraid she might be too far away. But, if you allow someone to at least carry you, we could bring you close enough to her for her to hear your voice. But I am afraid, what if we do not find her within the next few days? What will you do?"
"I will permit someone strong to carry me. But I will not have someone wield me until I can confirm her death. I do not care how long it takes. Time is not an issue for myself. I will not rust nor dull."
Shishio smirked. "Very well." Behind him the doorway to his dimension opened in a circle of standing flames. For an instant, he caught sight of the spirit, standing with his legs spread apart. His golden eyes hardened before he turned away, his high red pony tail following his movements, and walked in the opposite direction.
It had been a while since he last saw Battousai.
10 years later...
"We've searched for so long already." Sanosuke said, breaking the silence from their walk. He ran his hands back and forth over long spiky brown hair that appeared to defy gravity itself. He chewed the toothpick in his mouth repeatedly, a habit of his that replaced his smoking back in the war.
"10 years is a long time." Kenshin chuckled, resting his hand against the reverse blade sword on his hip. Kenshin had long red hair that was worn in a low ponytail. His eyes were purple and gentle. Together, the two looked like companions and wanderers.
"We should consider ourselves lucky. Magic slows the aging process." His friend attempted to lighten the mood. The search was not as successful this time around.
"That it does. But I don't know if we should call it being lucky." Kenshin sighed. More time is good.
10 years ago, the government had recruited them to unveil a possible plot to overthrow the current peace. The only reason any of them had agreed to it was because their weapons were involved. If a battle broke out, part of it was their responsibility since the weapons that should have been destroyed were not.
The plan an informant had caught wind of involved a gathering of wielders. The involved warriors were surprised since wielders were somewhat like secondaries in battle. Firstly, being a wielder did not mean you couldn't fall victim to a weapon's madness. Some who were not even adept to physical activity allowed the weapons to use them instead of the other way around and thus destroyed their bodies doing feats they were not physically able to do. But the fact that they could just carry weapons of other powerful mages and even wield them accordingly made them useful. For example, anyone who had dropped their weapon at some point could have a wielder fetch it while the mage continued in battle using other means. Some who were trained could do minimal wielding but only for a short period of time, long enough to retrieve the weapon and return it to its owner or to the side the owner was fighting on. It would do no good to have a wielder from the opposite party getting his hands on powerful weapons.
But that was a long time ago and now magic users were mostly anonymous.
The first step, then, was interviewing the secretive families known to carry wielders in hopes they could find the weapons. They've done all the research they could, but the most information they got was that several families had missing children or parents who were wielders, but they were presumed dead. In fact, some were found dead.
What was going on?
"What bugs me is how these wielders are getting their hands on dangerous weapons. Someone has to be handing them out to the wielders. And then possibly collecting them after the wielder is killed." Sanosuke growled. Who would stoop so low? Luckily they had been able to find some minor weapons that were sold in the black market and being utilized by wielders. But those claimed to be acting of their own accord. It was of no consequence since the weapons were hardly powerful. But there were others such as Makimachi Misao's kunai, Shinomori Aoshi's short sword, and Hajime Saitou's sword. They were all involved in the war so naturally their weapons were imbedded with the desire to accomplish their missions, even if it entailed killing to get there. Misao's stealth, Aoshi's cold and calculating ways, and Saitou's wolf-like techniques would be dangerous when used against other humans.
Kenshin closed his eyes as a thought crossed his mind. Hopefully the wielder was not dead; the wielder that possessed Battousai's sword.
Author's Note: Good? Not good? Want me to continue? Or abandon? Meh. Up to you!