RK Fic: Rurouni Battousai – Chapter 4 Pt. 3

As promised, here is Pt. 3 of Chapter 4 of RuroBatt/Edge of the Blade.

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3

Back to Chapter 4, Part 2.

1) I’ve fiddled a bit with Okina’s character – he’s actually sane here.

2) There’s a bit more insight into Kenshin’s views of his life in this AU and why he stayed at the Kamiya dojo….

3) Just a reminder that anyone who provides constructive criticism will get credited as a gamma-reader.

Rurouni Kenshin is © Nobuhiro Watsuki. A lot of the dialogue – but definitely not all – in this chapter was taken from Acts 70-71 and 74-81 of the Rurouni Kenshin manga, written by the noble Watsuki-san, some of it modified slightly by bits from the anime, some of it modified by the requirements of the story. This story is fanfiction, and is not intended as infringement on that copyright.

“Rurouni Battōsai”
by tag

CHAPTER FOUR: Okina – Oniwabanshū of Kyoto

Part 3: Arrival in Kyoto

“We’re finally here!” Misao exclaimed, delighted, as they entered the city five days after leaving Shingetsu.

Kenshin nodded silently, feeling uncomfortably conspicuous. He’d put a bandage over his left cheek when he’d woken up, to hide the scar, but his hair was still distinctive enough to draw attention. And, unfortunately, so was the sword at his side.

They’d left the horses this morning at Otsu, where Kenshin had kept his head down and let Misao handle the details. While it had been fourteen years – and they’d never known who he was, so there should be no reason for anyone to remember him – he definitely preferred not to take the chance. The memories along the road had been bad enough.

And now, Kyoto. The city where he’d become a bloody legend.

“I feel so much more at home here,” Misao continued, her tone still bright and happy, as she darted ahead.

Kyoto. Ten years of wandering since the revolution… and I never thought to set foot here again.

“Himura, this way!” Misao called from a short lane just up ahead, and Kenshin winced at the sound of his name shouted for all the city to hear, even as he followed her.

He felt tense, uneasy; the last time he’d been in Kyoto had been before the battles of Toba Fushimi, and the familiarity of the streets brought memories flooding back. His nerves were on edge, expecting at any moment to encounter a Shinsengumi patrol, despite the fact that he was well aware that it was impossible. The Shinsengumi were gone, except for Saitō, who was now an ally. The danger in the Kyoto of today was Shishio and his forces, and Kenshin certainly hoped that they wouldn’t attack in the middle of a street in broad daylight–


Kenshin blinked at Misao. Why was she yelling? As if he wasn’t edgy enough already….

“Why are you so out of it?” she demanded. “You’ve been weird since we entered Kyoto!”

He winced again. “My apologies, Misao-san. I’m just finding myself… a bit overwhelmed.” It was true enough; and it wasn’t just the memories overwhelming him. He wasn’t accustomed to seeing so many people wandering Kyoto’s streets, either.

It’s no longer a war zone, and hasn’t been one for ten years now, Kenshin reflected, as Misao returned to leading him through the streets. I suppose most of the damage has had a chance to heal….

Then he turned his attention to his companion. “Really, Misao-san, you should be heading home,” he said. He shouldn’t have too much trouble finding an inn; even if none of the ones he remembered from ten years ago were still around, he knew where to look. “Your people must be getting worried, and….” Kenshin paused as something abruptly occurred to him. “Where is your home?”

Misao grinned and pointed straight ahead. “Right over there. We’re here already. See?”

Following the direction of her finger, Kenshin’s eyes widened slightly, taking in the sight in front of him. “An inn…?” He had a bad feeling about this….

“Yup! Aoi-ya. We’re famous in Kyoto,” she explained. Then she leaned forward slightly. “Gramps! Hey!

The elderly man who was brushing off the walk in front of the inn looked up at Misao’s shout, and grinned. “Misao!

Darting forward, Misao flung herself into the man’s arms and gave him a hug. “I’m home!”

“So you are, so you are!” he declared, still grinning as he hugged her back; and then his smile disappeared as he gave her a stern look. “You took so long, we were terrified!”

“Sorry, sorry!” Misao exclaimed. “I was… delayed.”

By attempted robbery, Kenshin thought, remembering his irritation at her that night. It had eased quite a bit over the past several days, but he still wasn’t happy about her actions; when he came back later to speak to the man about Aoshi, he’d make sure to mention what Misao had tried to do. He suspected that this man wouldn’t let Misao get away with things like that.

Then the man turned to face him, keeping a firm hand on Misao’s shoulder as he did so – and judging from the expression on her face, it was a somewhat painful grip. On purpose, Kenshin thought.

“So, you walked our Misao home?”

“Yes,” Kenshin replied. “More or less.”

The man – clearly Misao’s guardian – snorted. “Must have been hard to be with her,” he commented, causing Misao to glare up at him.

“It… had its moments,” Kenshin said diplomatically. Then, hearing the sound of rapid footsteps approaching from the other side of the gate, he moved away just before it was pulled open and four people came rushing out, all of them with expressions of delight.

“Misao-chan!” the younger of the two women exclaimed.

“Look who’s finally home!” added one of the men.

Kenshin felt a wistful smile cross his face as he watched them surround Misao, hugging her warmly. They were so obviously pleased to have her back safely… it reminded him, albeit a bit uncomfortably, of his friends back in Tokyo.

Still smiling, he gave the elderly man a nod and started to walk away. “Then if you’ll excuse–”

“Hold on, you!” the man exclaimed. Kenshin stopped and turned back, eyeing him warily. “I haven’t thanked you yet.”

Kenshin was about to say that it wasn’t necessary when Misao looked away from the group surrounding her. “Shiro and Kuro will make you their best dinner tonight,” she declared eagerly, before they pulled her attention back. “You’ll love it!”

“She’s asking you to stay,” her guardian added.

I was afraid of this… Kenshin thought in dismay. He was about to give a polite refusal, when the man’s eyes acquired a hard glint that spoke of knowledge.

“Please, make yourself at home,” the man continued, in a somewhat quieter voice, “Himura Battōsai-dono.”

Kenshin’s eyes narrowed as he looked at the old man more carefully. Of course…. A friend of Aoshi’s, Misao said… he would be Oniwabanshū.

“Even if you hide your scars, those who can tell, can tell.”

“Old man…” Kenshin started, not wanting to appear hostile, but feeling threatened at the identification.

“We’ll talk details inside,” the man said calmly. “Please, come in.”

He reluctantly followed the man into the inn, trailed by Misao and the rest, not quite sure what to expect. The man didn’t feel threatening at all, but he was onmitsu – and he knew exactly who Kenshin was. It wasn’t a situation Kenshin could feel safe in, not here in Kyoto.

Once they were in the courtyard, Misao waved and turned toward the back of the inn. “I’m just going to have a bath – I’m covered in road dust!”

“Why don’t you do that,” her guardian encouraged her, as the other four slipped away – presumably to attend to their duties. Then, once she had wandered off, he led Kenshin into a nearby room, closing the shoji firmly behind them.

“Now,” the man said. “While on the road, did she mention the onmitsu Oniwabanshū?”

“Yes,” Kenshin said simply. “You’re….”

“As you suspect,” the man replied, turning around to face him, “I, Kashiwazaki Nenji, was a member of the Oniwabanshū during the Bakumatsu. I was the spy called ‘Okina’.

“When the black ships led by Perry came to Uraga in the sixth year of Kaei, the former okashira quickly realized this incident would raise questions between the emperor and the nobles about the control of Japan. What he foresaw was that Kyoto would be the centre of the struggle, and he sent me in to build an information network of our own.”

He motioned for Kenshin to sit down, and sat opposite him as he continued his explanation. “Aoi-ya was opened as the headquarters for this network, but, ironically, the Edo government fell first. After the revolution,” Okina added with a shrug, “it served only as a place for our comrades to run to.”

“Ah,” Kenshin murmured in comprehension. “So that’s why Aoshi left Misao-san here.”

Okina’s eyes widened slightly, and Kenshin felt a flicker of surprise in his partially-masked ki. “You know of Aoshi-sama?”

It was going to be both easier and harder to tell of what had happened to Aoshi and the Oniwabanshū than he had thought, Kenshin reflected ruefully. Easier, because he knew now that Okina would understand the subtleties that Misao probably would not; and harder, because Okina clearly knew and respected Aoshi not just as a friend, but as the okashira. Bowing his head slightly, he started, “There’s something you should know….”

It didn’t take very long to explain the details of the battles with Aoshi and the Oniwabanshū, and what Takeda Kanryū had done. Once he finished, Okina’s expression had become somber.

“…Is that right,” the onmitsu murmured, his gaze focused on his hands where they were folded in his lap. “Han’nya and the rest dead…. Aoshi-sama missing….”

“I… did not tell Misao any of this,” Kenshin admitted quietly. “I thought it best that she not learn of it from me, considering my involvement in events.”

Okina nodded in understanding, then looked up at Kenshin with a hint of a gleam in his eyes. “By the way, Battōsai – or do you prefer Himura-dono?” he checked.

“Himura Kenshin, please, Okina-san,” Kenshin requested firmly. “The name Battōsai… is not one that should be heard here in Kyoto again.” Not that that will stop Saitō… came the rueful thought. But then, very few things stopped Saitō from doing or saying whatever he wanted to.

“Very well,” Okina agreed. “Now, the reason you’ve shown up in Kyoto for the first time in ten years… it wouldn’t have anything to do with your successor, Shishio Makoto, would it?”

Kenshin felt slightly surprised, but reminded himself that he should have expected Okina to know as soon as he’d figured out the man was Oniwabanshū.

“The network we built then is still alive,” Okina explained. “Whatever goes on in Kyoto, both in front and behind the scenes, I know. It’s kind of like a hobby now.

“When I heard that man was still alive, and up to suspicious deeds in Kyoto, I didn’t believe it; but, now that you’ve come, it’s a different story.” Then Okina grinned. “So, for bringing our Misao back safely, and for witnessing the end of the Oniwabanshū, I shall extend to you my friendship and my help!”

Oh, no…. This was exactly what he hadn’t wanted! Okina might be onmitsu, but he was still elderly… and Misao was barely more than a child, not fully trained. For either of them to go against the forces Shishio seemed to have….

“I like the Kyoto of today!” Okina continued brightly. “Once again, I will stand up to protect the city!”

“Wait a second–” Kenshin protested.

“Don’t you worry about Aoi-ya,” Okina interrupted him. “There’s no need. Shiro, Kuro, Okon, Omasu – all ex-Oniwabanshū. They can easily defend Misao and themselves.”


“I won’t hear another word!” Okina declared, holding out his hand to stop Kenshin. “I’m the one who raised Misao, after all. She learned all her stubbornness from me.”

Considering just how stubborn Misao was, that was definitely saying something, Kenshin thought in dismay. It was true that the Oniwabanshū information network could be extremely useful… it might help counter Shishio’s own network…. And if the four others were fully trained, Okina was right – they should be able to at least defend themselves and Misao….

He sighed. “Then, your offer is accepted,” he said reluctantly. “With one condition.”

“Anything you’d like.” Okina’s tone was eager, and his eyes gleamed with excitement. Kenshin found himself wondering if perhaps the old man was bored….

“Might your information network search for a couple of people?”

“Search?” Okina repeated.

“Yes,” Kenshin affirmed. “Arai Shakkū… and Hiko Seijūrō.” He’d thought long and hard over the past few days about how he was going to handle the advantages Sōjirō had over him, and had come to only one conclusion: he was going to have to go back to Hiko, and request that his training be finished. “Please find them… as soon as you can.”

“Agreed!” Okina declared. “Now,” he added, standing back up, “let’s get you set up with a room, and then enjoy a celebration dinner, shall we?”

Kenshin stayed seated. “There is… one more thing I think you should be informed of, Okina-san,” he said carefully.

Okina frowned. “What?”

“How much do you know of Misao’s activities during her search for Aoshi?”

Okina’s frown deepened as he sat back down. “Why? What happened?” he demanded.

Kenshin took a deep breath. “When I found her,” he began, “she was attempting to rob a group of bandits who had just stolen money from a currency exchange in Odawara….”

Kenshin was up at dawn the next morning despite having gone to sleep very late, the knowledge that he was in Kyoto bringing back habits from ten years ago. As it turned out, he was lucky that he had risen that early, because just as he was finishing tying his hakama, the shoji to his room slid open to reveal Okina and Misao.

“Wake up, Himura!” Misao exclaimed brightly. She’d evidently got over not being allowed to speak at all during dinner. “It’s morning, and–”

Kenshin gave an inquiring, “Hmm?” as he looked over at them.

“Oh, were you already awake?” Misao said, pouting a bit. “I wanted to see your sleepy face.”

Kenshin blinked, thoroughly taken aback, but thought better of replying.

“If you’re ready, Himura-kun, let’s go,” Okina put in, turning back toward the hall.

“Go?” Kenshin repeated, noting that Okina had switched from using ‘-dono’ to ‘-kun’ overnight. He wondered whether that was to avoid letting Misao know exactly who he was – she’d heard Shishio’s little speech about not wanting to face the rurouni, and so knew he’d been hitokiri, though they hadn’t discussed it – or if Okina had another reason for the change in address.

“Kyoto’s changed a lot in ten years,” Okina explained, winking at Kenshin as he put on a hat. “I’ll spend today showing you around.” He and Misao started down the engawa toward the entrance of the inn, forcing Kenshin to follow. “We’ll grab lunch at a local hot-pot house, ‘Shirobeko’.”

Yay!” Misao exclaimed, clapping her hands in delight. “I’ve been wanting to eat there!”

“Okina-san,” Kenshin started to protest. It was one thing to accept their help when it came to accommodations and information gathering; but for them to risk being seen with him, when Shishio would undoubtedly know within hours, if he didn’t already, that Kenshin was in the city… he couldn’t risk it.

“Oh, yes – about the people you’re looking for,” Okina continued, looking back at Kenshin, the expression on his face and the sudden sharpness in his ki telling the hitokiri that he wasn’t going to allow Kenshin to object. “I made arrangements during the night.”

“People?” Misao asked curiously. “Who? Wha–?”

Before she could get a full head of steam up, Kenshin said firmly, “It has nothing to do with you.”

“Nothing to do with– Ooh!” Misao glared at him, her expression strongly resembling the one Kaoru wore when she wanted to thump him with her bokken.

Even as she did that, the shoji just ahead of them slid open, and the larger of the male onmitsu – Kuro – held a twist of paper out to Okina. Okina tore it open and read through it, and Kenshin’s attention focused sharply on the elderly man as he tensed.

“Misao, I’m sorry,” Okina said quietly, not looking up from the paper. “We’ll go to the Shirobeko another time.


Kenshin looked at him directly.

“We have found one of the people you’re looking for. To be more precise,” Okina looked up and met his gaze, “we’ve confirmed his death.”

Arai, it has to be – it can’t possibly be Hiko. I’m sure I would have heard of a skilled swordsman being killed, and Shishō’s too stubborn to die of natural causes, even if he were old enough for that to happen.

“Arai Shakkū, the swordsmith who forged your sakabatō, died eight years ago.”

“‘Swordsmith’?” Misao repeated. Then her eyes widened. “I get it! You were going to have him make a replacement for the sakabatō!”

Kenshin nodded silently, wondering even as he did so what he should do now. He still didn’t want to use a regular katana, but it was beginning to seem more and more likely that he would be given no choice.

And Misao saw that as well. “But… if he’s dead…” the girl murmured, “the sakabatō will never be….” Her voice trailed off.

“However!” Okina put in, opening the outside gate and gesturing for Kenshin and Misao to follow him out. “There is still hope!”

Kenshin gave him an inquiring look.

“Arai Shakkū,” Okina started, as they turned left and began walking along the street beside the Aoi-ya. “He was a highly-honoured weapons-maker during the Bakumatsu. But, as years went by, he devoted himself not to ‘blades that cut’, but to ‘blades that kill’, and thereafter was shunned by the rest of the sword-crafting community.”

“A smith who specialized in killing swords forged the sakabatō?” Misao asked, sounding puzzled. “I don’t get it.”

“A man’s life can at times seem quite contradictory,” Okina told her, then shot a sly glance at Kenshin. “Right, Himura-kun?”

Kenshin didn’t respond to that, but he found himself wondering just how much Okina knew about his life over the past ten years. Between his use of ‘-kun’ and this last remark, the implication was that he was aware of quite a bit.

“To continue,” Okina went on after a moment or two. “According to our sources, Shakkū had one son – Arai Seikū – to whom he taught all he knew. He was expected to become a swordsmith himself; but in the Meiji era, he couldn’t make a living at that, so he sells tools like scythes and knives to support himself.

“Perhaps,” the elderly onmitsu added, gesturing to the house right in front of them, “this man can craft a new sakabatō.”

I can hope so… Kenshin thought, as Okina slid the gate open. The need becomes more urgent with each passing hour, and I really do not want to have to use a katana….

“Excuse the–” Okina started, only to stop short in shock at the sight of the only person in the courtyard – a toddler sitting on the engawa.

Kenshin knelt down in front of the child, smiling as the young boy held out his hands and said, “Shake!”

‘Shake’? Kenshin wondered for a moment, and then his smile widened as he realized what the boy wanted. Extending his hand, he let the child grab it and shake it up and down. “You like to shake hands, do you?” he asked warmly.

“Shake, shake!” the boy repeated, grinning at him.

Behind him, the door to the house slid open, and a young woman stepped out. “Now, Iori, don’t bother them,” she scolded gently.

Kenshin looked up at her, still smiling. “There is no need to worry, he isn’t bothering us,” he assured her. He looked at the boy again. “He’s a very friendly child.”

“Yes, he is,” the woman agreed, smiling herself. “Now, what may I help you with?”

He had come prepared for the possibility that they would be heading out to find Arai Shakkū; a tray had been left outside his door this morning with his breakfast, and he’d taken a daikon from it to use to test the edge of any blade offered. However, some instinct told him it was best not to approach his request directly.

“If a kitchen knife might be presented,” Kenshin requested politely, ignoring the confused stare Okina gave him, “and given a brief test of edge?”

“Of course,” she replied, and lifted up a box that had been resting against one of the windows. Opening it, she pulled out a kitchen knife and extended it to Kenshin, and then picked up her son and sat down.

“Thank you,” Kenshin said, and pulled the daikon out of his gi. Holding it in one hand, he concentrated for a moment, and then brought the knife down at a very precise angle, cutting the daikon in half. Placing the knife on the counter in front of him, he then brought the two halves of the daikon back together, and let go of one.

Both halves stayed together.

Kenshin wasn’t sure whether he’d expected it to work or not, but the fact that it had meant that Arai Seikū was a very skilled smith indeed. To put such an edge on a kitchen knife, he reflected, as Okina explained what he had just done to Misao, I suspect he is more skilled, even, than his father. And as Okina had mentioned, Shakkū had been very skilled.

“Madam, might Seikū-dono be available?” Kenshin asked.

“Yes…” she replied slowly, her expression somewhat wary.

Puzzled and not liking that expression – not here in Kyoto, with so many memories of bloodshed lingering – Kenshin hastened to explain. He was aware that someone else – most likely Seikū himself – was listening from the side of the house, and so pitched his voice to carry. “If Seikū-dono might craft a sword, it would be most greatly appreciated indeed,” he explained.

“Yes…” she said slowly, “but….”

The presence Kenshin had sensed at the side of the house stepped around the corner then. The woman looked over at him, her expression and ki radiating relief. “Seikū.”

“Hello,” the young man standing there said, his voice soft. “I am Arai Seikū.”

Misao frowned, leaning close. “You don’t look much like a smith,” she said, her tone almost critical.

“Yeah, I hear that a lot,” the young man replied, his tone sheepish. Then he looked over at Kenshin. “I heard your story from outside,” he said. “It seems you’d like me to forge you a sword, but….” He bowed low. “I apologize. I have quit making swords. For that, you will have to go elsewhere.”

Kenshin wasn’t sure exactly what he felt at that. The sense of the young man’s ki told him that the decision was one Seikū felt quite strongly about, and Kenshin had no desire to force anyone to do something against their wishes. At the same time, the need for a sakabatō was urgent, and he had no idea who else to go to for that. Perhaps Okina, being who he was, would know of some other good swordsmiths….

Meanwhile, Misao appeared to be quite upset. “What?” she demanded, glaring at Seikū furiously.

Okina grabbed her and pulled her back, then asked in a much more restrained fashion, “May we hear your reason?”

Seikū nodded. “If you’ve come to get a sword of me,” he started, “you must know that my father, Shakkū, created weapons of death. Father used to say all the time, ‘The swords I make will create a new age.’

“But I didn’t like my father’s philosophy,” he continued. “Those swords intended to create that new age took many peoples’ lives. What kind of ‘new age’ does one forge from human blood? That, I could never understand.”

One doesn’t create a new age from human blood at all. One merely destroys the old one, Kenshin thought grimly. He had never deceived himself as to what his role as hitokiri had been. To create a new age takes more than blood and the destruction of the old – it takes men with strength of will and the desire for true peace for all. And the ability to translate the lessons of the past into hope for the future.

Men like Ōkubo was….

“It was a terrible time then, so perhaps it couldn’t be helped,” Seikū went on, “but this is Meiji. An age of peace, at last. The samurai have given up their swords; so, similarly, I have given up sword-making, and have decided to live peacefully, crafting tools for a living.”

“I see,” Okina said, his expression intent. “Unlike your father, your philosophy is peace.”

“I don’t know about ‘philosophy’,” Seikū admitted, “but I do like peace. Doesn’t everyone?”

One could only wish they did, Kenshin thought unhappily, remembering Shishio’s speech in Shingetsu village. Unfortunately, there are always those who do not, who prefer the bloodshed and fear. Nonetheless, he would not ask Seikū to betray his beliefs.

Unfortunately, it appeared Misao was not quite so restrained. Pulling away from Okina, she yelled, “Idiot! You are so naïve! ‘Doesn’t everyone?’ This city’s full of people who–”

Kenshin slapped his hand firmly over her mouth before she could continue, and gave Seikū a slight, apologetic bow. “Understood, Seikū-dono,” he declared calmly. “Sorry to have asked.” He gave both Seikū and his wife a smile. “We’ll be leaving now.”

“‘Leaving’? Himura!” Misao protested, her voice muffled by the hand Kenshin kept over her mouth as he dragged her away after Okina; he didn’t want her saying anything else that might upset the young couple any more than they already had been. “Hey!

“From his heart, what Seikū-dono wishes for is peace,” Kenshin said firmly, continuing to ignore her protests. It was, as Misao had pointed out, naïve – but he could understand. After all, he had been the one to take an oath never to kill again after Toba Fushimi; and even if that oath no longer applied – hadn’t applied for close to nine years now – he still very much preferred to avoid killing.

Which, of course, brought his thoughts straight back to the matter of his broken sakabatō – and the fact that Misao was still protesting.

“Even if it is a sakabatō, and not for killing, it’s still a weapon,” he pointed out to her. “It would be wrong to ask him to craft such a thing.” She sighed heavily, and Kenshin released her. “We’ll simply have to start our search over.”

“You’re too nice!” Misao snapped at him. “That guy was a weakling! Didn’t you see how he looked? If we’d pushed harder, we could have made him!”

Kenshin looked at her for a long moment, then sighed. “No,” he said firmly. “First of all, Seikū-dono’s life should not be overturned for my own personal ends.” After all, if need be… if we can’t find another smith who will forge a sakabatō… I will take up a katana again. I definitely do not want to, but there are times when one has no choice.

“That’s what I mean!” Misao growled at him. “You’re too nice!”

At that, Okina broke into the argument. “Second, even if we forced him to make it,” the elderly onmitsu pointed out, the firmness in his voice equal to Kenshin’s, “what sort of blade would it be without the maker’s heart?” He gave Misao a very sharp look. “Seta Sōjirō already broke one sakabatō. To face him or Shishio again may mean Himura-kun’s death. A sakabatō that is sakabatō in shape alone is nothing! The new blade must be superior to the blade that was broken!”

Then he sighed. “If you can’t figure that much out,” he added, his tone one of disgust, “what a stupid girl I have raised!”

Misao gave an incoherent yell and kicked at him.

Kenshin smiled wistfully as the two of them argued. It was good to see that, although the situation was definitely serious, there could still be laughter.

That was something he had learned from Kaoru, Yahiko and Sanosuke. Yes, his rurouni act encouraged laughter… but when the situation had involved fighting, he had always – even up to the point when he’d rescued Yahiko from the yakuza – been utterly serious. It wasn’t until he’d begun watching the antics of his friends that he’d understood just how much laughter could help even in the tensest and most serious situations.

At the same time, however, he found himself thinking about the young couple they’d left only minutes ago, and their son, who had been so delighted to shake his hand… and he also found himself remembering what he’d heard of some of Shishio’s kills during the Bakumatsu, and the reasons he’d left his friends back in Tokyo.

If he’d agreed to forge a new sakabatō… would Shishio’s men have left him alive? Would any be left alive? Shishio – and Sōjirō – may have both said that they wish to fight me, and I would need a sword for that… but that does not necessarily mean they won’t harm any who help me.

He didn’t know. But he would make certain that any other smith they approached was warned about the possibility, and given the chance to refuse because of that.

And then, once that is done – whether I manage to get another sakabatō, or am forced to use a katana – I will leave Aoi-ya. And this time, I will not allow Okina to change my mind.

With that decided, Kenshin found himself relaxing slightly, as though some of Kyoto’s weight of memories was eased; and he was able to laugh out loud as Misao chased Okina back to the gate of Aoi-ya.

Kaei: The era that began around the end of February 1848 and lasted until the end of November 1854. (Note that the manga is incorrect; Perry’s ships arrived in Kaei 6 – 1853 – not Kaei 3, which was 1850.)

For reviews, feel more than free to comment here, or email me at tagwriter@gmail.com. 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.

[Edited Fri. May 11/07] Go to Chapter 4, Part 4: Sakabatō Shinuchi (Kenshin meets Sword-Hunter Chō of the Juppongatana….)

Later, all!
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