Here is the second part of the first chapter of Rurouni Battōsai, for your reading pleasure…
1) This chapter is – for the most part – a re-telling of Acts 48-53 of the manga, with some additions to make it fit in with the RuroBatt concept.
2) Again, this is still just a draft, and I need comments! *tag gets Aspen and Mitzy to look cute and adorable, raising the ‘cute-li’l-puddy-tat-eyes’ power to three…*
3) Rurouni Battōsai is simply the working title. Still need suggestions for a better title…
Rurouni Kenshin is © Nobuhiro Watsuki. A lot of the dialogue in this chapter was taken from Acts 48-53 of the Rurouni Kenshin manga, written by the noble Watsuki-san, some of it modified slightly by bits from the anime. This story is fanfiction, and is not intended as infringement on that copyright.
CHAPTER ONE: Saitō Hajime – Mibu’s Wolf
Part 2: Dreams of Blood
The stars glittered brightly in the night sky, adding their faint light to the glow of the full moon that illuminated the street, the dead and dying bodies, and the three living men who faced each other across the remains of the squad of Shinsengumi. It was a confrontation that had repeated itself several times over the past two and a half years, since the aftermath of the attack at Ikeda-ya: Okita Sōshi, Captain of the Shinsengumi First Unit; Saitō Hajime, Captain of the Shinsengumi Third Unit; and Himura Battōsai, hitokiri and bodyguard for the Chōshū Ishin Shishi.
He waited patiently, sword held loosely in one hand. He could afford to wait, for a few minutes at least; by now, Katsura-san’s group would have almost reached the inn, and there would be no way for Okita, Saitō, or any reinforcements they might be expecting to catch up with Katsura-san before he reached safety. He had safely accomplished his primary duty tonight.
Okita took a step forward, raising his sword with an obvious intent to challenge; but Saitō was swifter, stepping in front of the other Shinsengumi.
“Okita-kun,” the captain of the third unit said, “please step back.”
“Don’t worry about me,” Okita said confidently, grinning. “I’m still captain of the first unit of the Shinsengumi.” He moved his sword into a ready position.
“But are you not ill in the lungs?” Saitō countered, as Battōsai watched them patiently. One or the other of them would fight him, that was inevitable. At the moment, it didn’t matter to him which of them it was; his previous duels with both had always ended in draws.
Okita appeared surprised by Saitō’s knowledge, and Saitō gave him a thin smile and continued, “My eyes are not blind.” Then Battōsai felt Saitō’s full focus shift to him. “I, Saitō Hajime, captain of the Third Shinsengumi Unit, will kill Hitokiri Battōsai.”
You can try, he thought calmly, watching Saitō carefully and stretching out his senses to feel what he could of Saitō’s ki. You have before, and never yet succeeded; what makes you think this time will be any different?
The stance Saitō sank into was instantly recognizable: it was the stance for Gatotsu, Saitō’s powerful left single-handed thrust.
He lifted his sword and prepared himself.
“Ready,” Saitō said… and they moved….
His eyes opened wide in surprise.
“C’mon! Get up!” a boy’s voice said impatiently.
“Our training visit’s over, Kenshin,” added a female voice.
He blinked. “…Kenshin…?” No one called him that, not even Katsura-san, who was likely the only one who remembered his personal name; even Okami-san called him ‘Himura-san’….
“We’re talking, here!” the young boy exclaimed.
They’re too close… too loud…. He forcibly restrained the urge to move away until he knew more about what was happening.
“Is there another ‘Kenshin’ around?!”
“What were you dreaming about?” the girl added, a touch of concern in her voice.
Dreaming? I was dreaming? He blinked again – and his surroundings abruptly slid into focus. They were in the Maekawa dojo; the voices were those of Yahiko and Kaoru, both of whom were regarding him with expressions of concern.
“My apologies, Kaoru-dono, Yahiko,” Kenshin said quietly. “This one did not intend to cause you concern.” He stood up, and tied his sheath into his obi, uncomfortably aware that he was being watched with open curiosity by a number of the students. “If your training session is finished, then we should be going, should we not?”
“That’s what we were just saying!” Yahiko declared. “C’mon, let’s get on home!”
They had been walking for about five minutes, Kenshin lagging behind the other two, when Kaoru reiterated the question that had brought him out of his memories. “What were you dreaming about, Kenshin?”
Kenshin hesitated for a second, unsure of whether to tell them or not, then decided there was unlikely to be any harm in it. “This one was dreaming about a confrontation many years ago, with the Shinsengumi,” he replied.
“Shinsengumi?” Kaoru repeated. “I thought you were in a deeper sleep than usual. You were dreaming about your past.”
Yes – dreams that I haven’t had for many years…. “Those days haven’t visited in a very long time,” Kenshin murmured out loud, wondering absently what could have triggered it.
“When you say ‘Shinsengumi’,” Yahiko started, interrupting his thoughts, “you mean the famous army that fought the revolutionaries, right?”
Kenshin couldn’t help but be somewhat amused by the fact that Yahiko seemed to be impressed. “Yes, that ‘famous army’,” he answered. I wonder what Okita or Saitō would say to that description? “Our swords crossed many times; they focused most of their attention on the Chōshū Ishin Shishi. They were our nemesis.” His eyes grew somewhat distant as he found himself remembering Kyoto.
“Originally, the Shinsengumi were a group of swordsmen of the Edo Tama region, employed by the Guardian of Kyoto. The revolutionaries had fallen to fighting their individual feuds. Kyoto became a city of bloody wind and glistening blades. That’s when the Shinsengumi took up their blades to uphold its laws.
“They called them the Wolves of Mibu. They shook Kyoto with their well-trained swords, their striped light-blue jackets, their lack of fear of death… and their red banner, bearing the character Makoto – truth. They fell in their fight against modern weapons and the tides of time – but they were and always will be the largest and strongest group of swordsmen known to Japanese history,” he finished.
Kaoru looked doubtful. “But they say the Shinsengumi launched group attacks on single fighters. Isn’t that a bit cowardly?”
“Their mission wasn’t to duel,” Kenshin corrected her. Although Saitō certainly never hesitated because of that during our encounters… but then, I was an enemy; I suppose I never truly fell into the ‘personal duels’ category. “It was to keep peace in Kyoto. Not all of them were strong or honourable, it’s true. But the officers, especially the leaders of the first, second, and third of the ten units… they were astonishing. This one fought against those three several times, but never were those fights finished.”
Kenshin looked into the distance, remembering how he’d felt when he’d first heard the news of Okita’s death in hospital, and the rumours of Saitō’s death in Aizu during the Boshin War….
“Rumour has all those officers dead now…. It feels a huge loss,” he added quietly, more to himself than to his companions.
“You’re pretty sympathetic,” Yahiko commented. “Weren’t they your enemies?”
“Mm…. Sort of,” Kenshin replied. How to explain to Yahiko – or even to Kaoru – the peculiar mixture of respect and enmity he’d felt for the most honourable members of the Shinsengumi? Of all of the friends he’d made in Tokyo, it was likely that Sanosuke would be the only one who could come close to understanding; but Kenshin doubted that even he could realize the full depth of those feelings.
Nonetheless, he had to try. While he hoped it would never have to happen, the world was not a perfect place, and Yahiko could one day find himself facing an enemy as honourable as he was. “We were on different sides,” Kenshin said slowly, “but it was nothing personal. Whatever our politics, we all fought with lives and philosophies riding on our swords.” Risking death for our beliefs, knowing and accepting that it could happen at any time. We were the same, as Jin-e and I never were. “Compared to the ex-revolutionaries holding government posts right now, time seems to have brought them even closer,” he added.
“Wow…” Kaoru murmured.
Kenshin glanced at her curiously. “You find that odd?”
“No, it’s not that,” she explained. “It’s just… I’m not used to you talking so much about your past.”
Kenshin froze, his words of a few minutes ago coming back to haunt him. “Those days haven’t visited in a very long time.” He was only vaguely aware that Kaoru and Yahiko had moved on ahead. Those dreams ought to have been long past. Why now? What is bringing them back?
Saitō shifted the box of medicine to a slightly more comfortable position as he walked up the street toward the Kamiya dojo. He had seen the street-fighter Sagara Sanosuke walk in this direction about five minutes ago, which meant that the young thug would be at the dojo alone, as Battōsai, the Kamiya girl and the Myōjin boy had all gone off to the Maekawa dojo on the other side of the ward. And since he had a meeting arranged with the man who had hired Udō Jin-e tonight – during which there was an excellent chance that he would be offered a job, with his first task being to kill Battōsai – the timing could not have been better had he planned it all himself. All that remained was to set the stage and wait.
Sliding the dojo’s front gate open, he stepped in to see Sagara sitting on the porch.
“Hello,” he said.
Sagara looked up, appearing surprised. “And you are…?” he asked, as Saitō walked forward.
“How are you today?” Saitō asked politely. “I’ve come from Tama, selling the Ishida powdered medicine.” I wonder what Hijikata would think, using Ishida medicine to set a trap for Battōsai? “Fujita Gorō is the name.” He removed his cap and offered Sagara a cool smile, then put the box down on the porch and opened it.
“Do you know Ishida powder?” he continued, holding up a bag of the medicine as Sagara stood up. “It works wonders for bruises and fractures.”
“Whoa, whoa,” Sagara interrupted. “This isn’t my place. They’re all out somewhere.”
Saitō rubbed his chin – a habit he’d cultivated as Fujita Gorō. “Oh… I see. Too bad.”
There was a flicker in Sagara’s ki, and Saitō hid a smile. He’s noticed something…. So, perhaps he relies on more than merely his fists.
“Hey, you,” Sagara said, his eyes narrowing.
“Your eyes are awfully squinty-looking….”
That’s what he noticed? “I was born with them,” Saitō said coolly.
“Is that right? If so….” Sagara grabbed his wrist, twisting it so that his palm was facing upwards. “Where does a medicine seller get these calluses?” he demanded, looking pointedly at the sword-calluses that were clearly visible on Saitō’s hand. “Who are you really?”
Then again… not too bad, Sagara. For a thug. “Heh…. You’re quite observant, Sagara Sanosuke,” he said coolly, letting his eyes open a bit more.
Sagara jerked back, obviously surprised, and Saitō chuckled. “So, Battōsai is not at home,” he remarked, reaching up for the hilt of the cane-sword he’d hidden under his gi. “In that case, I shall have to leave him… a gift,” he continued, sliding the sword out.
“Carrying a concealed weapon…” Sagara muttered. Then he glared at Saitō. “You came here to fight, did you?”
Saitō chuckled again, and licked the blade of the sword – an old habit from facing the ‘demon of Kyoto’.
“Fine with me,” Sagara declared, slamming his fists together, in a move that was no doubt meant to look impressive. “Then let’s fight! Your true identity will be found with this fist!”
With that, he delivered a firm punch to Saitō’s cheek; a punch Saitō pulled back from, lessening the force that reached him.
Compared to a number of blows he’d taken – most of them delivered by Battōsai – Sagara’s punch was nothing. Powerful, yes, but not so much so that it did any damage.
“Good,” he said calmly, as the dust stirred up by his rapid movement backward began to settle again. “Your punch lives up to its reputation.” The shock was clearly visible on Sagara’s face, as well as echoing through his ki, and Saitō felt amused. Did Sagara really think he would have permitted the punch if he’d thought it would harm him? He shook his head and slid easily into the beginning stance for Gatotsu. “But only in this age of weakness, called Meiji. In Kyoto, during the Bakumatsu, a punch like that would be nothing.”
Saitō narrowed his eyes – and then moved, aiming for Sagara’s shoulder. He didn’t want to give Battōsai cause to kill him over a message, after all.
The force of his lunge pierced Sagara’s shoulder and flung him straight through the outside wall of the dojo to crash into the floor halfway across the room. It also snapped the cane-sword in half.
Once he had stopped his slide across the floor, Saitō looked at the remains of the cane-sword with a shake of his head. “Ah, yes,” he murmured, and tossed the half he still held over his shoulder in disgust. “Cane-swords are easy to carry, but have the durability of toys. There is still no match for the katana.”
The sound of Sagara getting to his feet behind him and the flare of his ki – somewhat weaker than before – brought Saitō’s head around.
Sagara was standing unsteadily, blood flowing down from the wound in his shoulder, eyes unfocused, and panting. “Which way you facing, squinty-eyes?” he demanded. “It’s not over yet!”
Stubborn, Saitō thought; it wasn’t a compliment. The street-fighter would have been much wiser to simply stay on the floor and let him leave; now he was going to have to do more damage. “You’re resilient,” he commented, turning around to face Sagara. “But you should have stayed down. The blow may not be fatal, but it is serious.”
“Shut up!” Sagara yelled. “I’m wounded, but your sword is broken! This fight is just starting!”
Observant and resilient – but also stubborn and stupid, Saitō thought, as he easily deflected the punch Sagara threw at him with his right hand, and then delivered an open-handed punch to Sagara’s wounded shoulder with his left, pushing the broken-off blade farther into the wound. As Sagara gasped in pain, Saitō gripped his wrist, placed his other hand over Sagara’s face, and forced him down. “Time to sleep,” he said grimly, and slammed the street-fighter’s head into the floor, knocking him into unconsciousness. Very stupid.
Standing back up, Saitō examined the area carefully.
The wound, the broken sword, and the hole in the dojo wall would be more than sufficient to let Battōsai know what blow had hit Sagara. The box of Ishida medicine, which he would recognize as being from the Hijikata family, would serve to confirm it – and perhaps, if Battōsai thought about it carefully, provide an additional hint as to what this was about.
And if his suspicions about the rurouni were correct… the fact that Sagara was not dead would serve as a message in and of itself.
There is no sense to it. Nothing I have seen or done over the past several days had anything to do with the Shinsengumi – and most definitely did not have enough to cause such a dream–
“…Kenshin?” came Kaoru’s voice.
Kenshin blinked and looked up to where Kaoru and Yahiko had stopped, just in front of him. “Hm…?”
Kaoru looked impatient. “The sun’ll set us on fire if we don’t hurry,” she said a bit sharply.
Kenshin blinked again, puzzled by the comment. What was Kaoru speaking about? Then, as Yahiko turned to say something to her, he found himself drawn back into his thoughts.
When was the last time I even thought about the Shinsengumi? he wondered, even as he sensed Megumi’s ki approaching. Her presence didn’t draw him out of his contemplations, however; Megumi was not a threat, but the dream might presage one. Better to decipher it now….
Ah, yes, the fight with Raijūta, when he informed me he would defeat me. Kenshin frowned slightly. That was almost three weeks ago; it should not have suddenly begun troubling me now. Was there anything else? Perhaps something I sensed, rather than saw? There has to be some reason behind the dream; I would not have been so thoroughly trapped in it as to not recognize where I was when I awoke, otherwise–
“Hey, Kenshin.” Megumi’s voice was the one to interrupt his thoughts this time. “You don’t mind if I come over, do you?”
“…No,” Kenshin replied after a moment. Megumi could keep Yahiko and Kaoru occupied – and ensure that Kaoru didn’t ruin dinner – while he concentrated on discovering the answers.
Then Megumi’s face took on the same concerned expression Kaoru and Yahiko had shared when he woke up. “You seem really down,” she commented, leaning a bit closer, her voice worried. “Would you like me to take a look at you?”
Down? Kenshin wondered, puzzled, as he met her eyes for a long moment. This wasn’t one of her usual teases; she was genuinely concerned about him. Why would she think–
Comprehension dawned with the sudden alarmed realization that his usual mask of good humour had slipped, and he’d been so preoccupied with his dream that he hadn’t noticed before Megumi had called his attention to it.
Kuso! How could I have let this happen? If he continued to let his guard down like this, he could end up getting all of them killed!
First things first – I’ve got to pull the mask back on, he thought firmly to himself. It will only worry the others even more if I don’t – they’re not accustomed to seeing me this serious outside of battle situations.
Consciously relaxing and pushing his worries to one side, Kenshin plastered a reassuring smile on his face and assured Megumi, “No, I’m all right. Really, it’s nothing.”
Megumi studied his face carefully, but Kenshin had learned to completely mask his true feelings shortly after he had first joined the Ishin Shishi, and had begun learning to cover that mask with another, of emotions he didn’t necessarily feel, shortly after Toba Fushimi; the intervening ten years of practice had made both masks nearly perfect, and there were very few who would have both the knowledge and ability to see what flaws were left. Megumi was not one of them.
She shrugged. “Well, as long as you’re sure….”
“This one is certain,” Kenshin said cheerfully.
“C’mon, let’s go!” Yahiko called impatiently, already starting to walk. “I’m getting hungry!”
“You…” Kaoru started, hurrying after him.
Kenshin and Megumi exchanged an amused look that clearly said, ‘Children,’ and sped up enough to catch up to the other two.
As they continued toward the dojo, Kenshin forced himself to keep the majority of his attention on the others, moving his concern over the dream to the back of his mind for the present. He definitely didn’t want them worrying any further – and considering the fact that his thoughts had simply been going in circles, he was unlikely to be able to resolve the puzzle it presented at the moment. There’s no use dwelling in dreams of the past, he decided, as he slid open the dojo’s gate. No, the answers will no doubt come in–
His eyes widened in shock at the sight in front of them. The wall next to the door of the dojo had a large hole – just the right size for a body – punched right through it.
“What is this…?” Megumi gasped.
“What happened here?” Yahiko demanded at the same time.
Kenshin was frozen for a long moment as a sweet, coppery scent – one more familiar to him than the sharpness of sake or the gentleness of cherry blossoms – teased at his senses, recalling memories of hundreds of fights; and, even stronger than those, the memory of his dream. The smell of blood….
And then he was running forward, already knowing, instinctively, what he would find – there was only one member of his immediate circle of friends missing from the group at the gate. He shoved the door open.
He hurried into the main room of the dojo, distantly aware that Megumi and Kaoru were right behind him, and fell to his knees beside Sanosuke, taking in the details of his wound – and feeling cold anger race through him once more, mingled with the beginnings of furious understanding.
There was a broken-off blade buried in his shoulder – a blade that would have been parallel to the ground when it pierced the skin. Based on the blood trail, Sanosuke had been thrown through the wall from the yard, and landed a short distance away from where he was lying right now. He’d then stood up, either stepped or lunged forward, and been pushed back and onto the floor again – which had undoubtedly been the blow that knocked him unconscious.
As Megumi joined him, leaning over to examine the wound, Kenshin stood back up and looked around the dojo more carefully.
The other half of the blade – a cane-sword, from the looks of it – was lying carelessly on the floor by the side wall, where it appeared to have been tossed. And he’d seen something out of place on the porch when he had run up….
“Sano!” Yahiko exclaimed in shock, as he got through the door. “What happened?”
“Never mind that!” Megumi snapped. “We’ve got to move him – get him to a room where I can treat him. The wound isn’t fatal by itself – but if we don’t treat him soon, blood-loss and shock could be. Ken-san, can you help me carry him?”
Kenshin turned back from where he’d been walking toward the porch to confirm what he thought he’d noticed. “Of course, Megumi-dono,” he replied quietly, giving his head a slight shake to ensure his bangs stayed over his eyes.
“Take his head and shoulders,” she ordered, as he returned to stand beside her. “Try to keep them as flat as possible. Kaoru, we’re going to need a room….”
“We’ll use the guest room right next to here,” Kaoru said, hurrying over to the far end and opening the door that led to the house. “I’ll set out the futon,” she continued, as Kenshin bent down and carefully lifted Sanosuke’s upper torso and Megumi lifted his legs.
“Yahiko, while we’re getting him settled, I need you to get water and start heating it up,” Megumi continued. “Then once you’ve done that, run over to the clinic and bring me back my medical kit.”
“Right,” Yahiko agreed, and hurried out the door toward the well.
“The room’s ready,” Kaoru said, as Kenshin and Megumi carefully carried Sanosuke into the hall.
“Good. I’ll need bandages immediately; and then as soon as Yahiko brings the water in, I need you to keep an eye on it until it boils. Once that happens, bring it in to me.”
“All right,” Kaoru replied, hurrying down the hall to the room where she kept the dojo’s medical supplies.
“Ken-san, I’m going to need help removing the blade from his shoulder, and then keeping pressure on the wound….”
“Of course,” Kenshin repeated, still in that same quiet tone of voice. It was a tone he knew that none of the others would recognize; one he hadn’t used in over ten years. A tone suited more to the then-bloody streets of Kyoto than to this dojo.
Kenshin had helped Megumi as she’d requested; then, as soon as Yahiko had returned with her medical supplies, he’d removed himself to the dojo. The first thing he did there was to check just outside the door; and he found the box of Ishida medicine exactly where he’d thought he had seen it.
He then examined the floor of the dojo in more detail, with the help of a candle, and found the scuff marks from where the swordsman had slid across the floor, propelled by the force of his own blow.
Well, I now have an answer to the question about the dream, he reflected grimly, fingering the broken blade he’d removed from Sanosuke’s shoulder, paying little attention to the blood that slid down onto his hands. It all adds up: Ishida medicine was sold by the Hijikata family; the blade parallel to the ground – that’s unmistakably from the parallel thrust Hijikata Toshizō developed for the Shinsengumi; and the power behind the blow…. Kenshin looked from the hole in the wall to the spot on the floor where the signs said Sanosuke had landed. The sheer power of the blow can only be from Gatotsu.
He put the broken blade down on the floor, still ignoring the drying blood on his hands. Rumour had Saitō killed during his defense of Castle Wakamatsu; and I believed it, because alive, he was easily as dangerous to the Meiji government as Kondō, Okita, or Hijikata. But then, according to rumour, Kenshin gave the empty room a grim, unamused smile, his eyes glittering amber-flecked blue in the candlelight, I was the height of Hiruma Gohei, or taller, and a demon with a lust for blood and death. Obviously rumour was mistaken.
Sitting down against the unbroken wall of the dojo, with the candle just in front of him, he settled his sakabatō against his shoulder and leaned back. And as for the dream… I must have sensed something of his presence recently, and simply not recognized it. I did believe him over nine years dead, after all.
Taking another look around the dojo, Kenshin finally focused his attention on the flickering flame of the candle. However, even accepting that Saitō is alive, it still does not make sense. For me to have sensed him so vaguely that I had no conscious knowledge of it, but clearly enough for me to have had that dream, he must have been watching me for some time. Which implies that he must have known we were out when he showed up here – Saitō has never left anything to chance, nor has he ever been careless. His attack on Sano…. He used Gatotsu, but struck specifically to wound, not kill; Sano would have been dead instantly if Saitō had wanted him to be. And leaving the pieces of the sword, and the medicine box – that could not have been anything other than a deliberate choice. He definitely wanted me to know that it was him. Why?
“What are you trying to do?” Kenshin murmured, not looking away from the candle-flame as his mind’s eye called up an image of Saitō from the last time he’d seen the Shinsengumi captain, at the battles of Toba Fushimi. “What is it you want, Saitō?”
Saitō didn’t bother to look back at the restaurant he had just left, even as he felt Shibumi’s eyes on him.
He was well-pleased with the results of the meeting that had just ended – and rather amused by the fact that Shibumi was quite obviously still terrified of him, even as he tried to act as though he was superior. As Saitō had carefully made sure to mention, in order to support the impression he was giving, he was surprised that the trail he had followed from Udō Jin-e through his middleman had led straight to Shibumi – though he doubted it was for the same reasons Shibumi thought.
Shibumi was a coward and a bureaucrat; not the sort of man Saitō had considered Shishio would be willing to use, even as a pawn. Which suggested that either they were mistaken about Udō Jin-e having been a tool of Shishio’s – something that was possible, but highly unlikely – or someone else was involved in the choice and direction of Shishio’s pawns – one of his inner circle, probably. He would have to let ōkubo and Kawaji know – they were going to have to make a few adjustments to their plans to account for that fact.
Not many, however. It was obvious that Shishio was still the one setting the overall goals; after all, they had just hired him to kill Battōsai.
A wolfish grin spread across Saitō’s face as he reflected on just how well that part of his plan had gone. Without even realizing it, Shishio, Shibumi and that buffoon Akamatsu had just contributed to their own downfall. And Akamatsu, at least, was likely to contribute further.
By now, Battōsai had received his little gift, and Saitō found himself wondering just what the rurouni had made of it. He looked forward to finding out; but for the present, he would leave Battōsai to think about the implications, while he waited for the next move to take place.
A bit of an explanation for certain things Kenshin refers to:
1) Article #5 of the Shinsengumi’s laws prohibited members of the Shinsengumi from engaging in private fights.
2) Despite Watsuki-san’s use of Miburō (as “Wolf/Wolves of Mibu”) as an admirable term for the Shinsengumi (or, at least, for Saitō), they were in fact referred to as wolves by the citizens of Kyoto for the reckless and brutal actions of two of the original senior captains, Serizawa Kamo and Niimi Nishiki. (Niimi was made to commit seppuku by Hijikata, and Serizawa was killed on Sept. 18, 1863 by Hijikata and Okita (as part of a group that included Inoue, Yamanami, Todo, and Harada).) It was after this that the re-organization into ten units (which made Saitō captain of the Third Unit) took place.
3) The Ikedaya affair (Ikedaya Jinken), on June 5, 1864, was what made the Shinsengumi heroes when they prevented the Ishin Shishi’s plans to burn down Kyoto. Of the captains, it was Kondō, Okita, Tōdō (captain of the Eighth Unit), and Nagakura (captain of the Second Unit) who were at Ikeda-ya. Hijikata, Saitō, Inoue (captain of the Sixth Unit), and Harada (captain of the Tenth Unit) went to Shikoku-ya, as they didn’t know for certain which inn held the conspirators.
4) Okita died in a tuberculosis hospital in Edo on May 30, 1868.
5) Sept. 4, 1868, 20 of the remaining Shinsengumi, led by Saitō Hajime, fought the Imperial Army at the castle of Wakamatsu in Aizu; Saitō was the only survivor. The rest of the Shinsengumi fled to Hokkaido with Hijikata; his death in battle on May 11, 1869 against the Imperial Army is counted as the end of the Shinsengumi.
Information was obtained from the Wikipedia entries on the Shinsengumi, both English and French versions (the French has a great deal more detail).
6) (As per Vathara’s research into Japanese folklore) Human saliva was supposed to be poisonous to dragons.
For reviews, feel more than free to comment here, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Any type of reviews save flames are welcome (flames will be put out by the sand-kicking Plot Bunnies); constructive criticism is more than encouraged. (And tell me what you liked about it too! *g*)
[Edited Wed. Feb. 02/05] Go to Chapter 1, Part 3 (Preparations for Battle).
[Minor edits Thurs. May 18/06.]
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