Chapter 145: Houji's Devotion

Copyright© 2011 by Murasame

A devil wrapped in flame, Shishio disappeared into the fire laughing. What was the meaning of that last laugh? No one undestood ... And so-- (They stand staring at the blackened stones.)

Sanosuke: Not a trace left ... He really just burned away. (looking at Kenshin) You won.

Kenshin (bowing his head): No...

(Houji falls to his knees.)

Houji: He didn't lose! He did not lose! Lord Shishio cannot lose!

(Screaming, he runs from the platform.)

Aoshi: He's gone mad...

(Yumi's watch drops to the floor as Kenshin collapses.)

Sanosuke: Kenshin!

(The heavy iron doors creak shut.)

Sanosuke (pounding on the door): Dammit! That pointy-eyed bastard! It won't open! Even if I could use the Futae no Kiwami, they're too thick--

Aoshi (remembering Shishio's words to him): After the Amakakeru Ryuu no Hirameki, your attacking power is nil. (aloud) Damn him...

Sanosuke: If we don't get out of here quick Kenshin'll--

Saitou: Stand aside.

(He assumes Gatotsu stance.)

Aoshi: The Gatotsu...

Sanosuke: Wait a minute--you're hurt too--

(Saitou punches through the doors.)

Saitou (even though his wounds are bleeding again): I've gotten through more of these situations than you.

Sanosuke (Kenshin slung over his shoulder): Let's get out of here!

(They start across the walkway, but the entire structure suddenly shakes. One of the chimneys bursts and falls over.)

Sanosuke: The battlefield--it's exploding!

(Houji is down in the boiler room chopping at pipes with an axe.)

Houji: Ha ha ha! Die, die! Everybody dies! If everyone dies no one wins, and Lord Shishio is invincible! Only Lord Shishio will forever be unbeaten!

(A huge section of the walkway falls, leaving Saitou stranded on the far side.)

Sanosuke: Sa--saitou!

Saitou: How annoying...

(He calmly lights a cigarette.)

Sanosuke: You bastard, trying to run out again while you're ahead? What about our fight, huh? Answer me, Saitou!

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