Chapter 7: The Character for Evil
Copyright© 2011 by Murasame
(the dust settles around Kenshin and Zanza)
Goheh: He can do it! He took that blow of Battousai's like it was nothing ... Maybe he will...
Kiheh: You really are stupid. He hasn't landed anything with his precious zanbatou. Zanza has no chance of victory. (smiling evilly) It's all going as planned.
Zanza (raising the zanbatou again): Second round!
(He strikes, but Kenshin has disappeared. He finds him perched on the raised zanbatou's blade.)
Kenshin: The zanbatou is a huge, heavy weapon, so the stances of attack are limited. There are only two options: bringing the sword down or cutting across. (narrowing his eyes) They're very easy to read. (leaping forward) There will be no second round. This is the end!
(he strikes Zanza's shoulder. Zanza whips his blade across but Kenshin ducks under it.)
Kenshin: Zanza, if a single blow will not work against you--
(A myriad of blows strike Zanza from all directions, knocking him down.)
Kaoru (thinking): A rain of blows!
Kenshin: Hiten Mitsurugi School, the Ryuusousen.
Zanza (thinking): He's not just stronger than me. He's on a completely different level. I can't beat him...
Kenshin: Let's end this meaningless fight. I don't want to lift this sword against you any further. Accept defeat with grace.
(Flashback. Sanosuke, at about age eight, is standing on a rocky outcropping, carrying the sword of his captain, Sagara. They are watching an army marching.)
Sagara: Look well, Sanosuke. The three hundred year reign of the Tokugawa will soon be over. The curtain raises on a new age. The age when the oppressed weak cry themselves to sleep is over. There will be no high or low. The age of equality for the four classes has come. And we, the Sekihoutai, will lead the way.
Sanosuke (snickering): "It could take a year or ten, depending on how hard we work, but it will happen." You told me all this before.
(Sagara smiles at him. They start walking home.)
Sanosuke: Hey, captain. We're all going to be equal in the new age right? I can have a real last name even though I'm just a farmer's kid?
Sagara: That's right.
Sanosuke: Then my name's going to be Sagara!
Sagara: Sagara Sanosuke? Stop it, stop it. What a strange name.
the Sekihoutai--a group formed from the masses directly after the battle of Tobafushimi, in 1868. They marched to Edo ahead of the government army, to investigate the allied provinces on the way and to act as a spearhead, urging support. The First Regiment, led by Sagara Souzou, marched north by the Tousan Way, spreading the new government's proclamation that land taxes would be cut in half. However... (Sagara is meeting with other members of the group.)
Man: That's ridiculous--the Sekihoutai a false army?!!
Man with bandages: An order was sent to each province and each troop, sent by the governor-general, to suppress the false government army Sekihoutai. Our division in Usuitouge was attacked and destoryed!
Men: That's unbelievable ... What do we do?
Man with mustache: We've been abandoned! They're not cutting taxes after all! They promised to cut them in half to win the farmers of the provinces as allies, but the finances of the new government handle that. So they're calling us the liars--they'll punish us and say they never intended to cut taxes in the first place. We're made up of farmers and merchants, so they're using us as the perfect scapegoat... !!
Man: What do we do, Captain Sagara?
Sagara: There's no reason to disobey the governor-general. For the time being, we'll proceed to the headquarters in Shimosuwa. Sanosuke, you wait here. You're still young-- there's no reason for you to come this time.
Sagara: We'll be fine. Don't worry.
(Later. Sanosuke is pressed up against a fence by the crowd gathered to see the head of Sagara mounted on display.)