Chapter 173: Remembrances 10--Forest of Barriers

Copyright© 2011 by Murasame

(A dark forest. The plotters are concealed among the trees, watching.)

Sumita: What's that?

Mumyoui: Someone's coming. A woman. The woman...

(Tomoe is walking up the path, towards them.)

Nakajou: She's half a day late. Thank your lucky stars, kid. If she'd been any later I'd have killed you--huh? Hey, where's the brat?

Tatsumi: I sent him to Battousai. In all things, there will be no oversight. Well, this woman. What news will she bring for us?

(A little later. Tatsumi, Nakajou and Sumita interrogate Tomoe in front of the hut.)

Tatsumi: Tell us your news.

Tomoe: First let me ask one thing. Why did you involve Enishi in this?

Tatsumi: I didn't. I just couldn't stand to see him running all over Kyoto asking for his sister, so I took him with me. There's a difference between "his sister's whereabouts" and "her fiancé's true killer," but to him they are exactly the same. Tell us your news.

(Tomoe is silent.)

Sumita: Tell us. What is Battousai's weak point?

Nakajou: After running after him for a year, you aren't going to tell us you don't know.

Tatsumi: Well?

Tomoe: Himura Battousai's weakness is...

The kindness that doesn't match with a killer. Tomoe: When he's asleep. (thinking of the time she accidentally woke him and found a sword at her throat) Even the best swordsman cannot perfectly defend himself when he is sleeping, and Battousai is no exception.

Tatsumi: Then I'll ask you one more thing. Is Battousai in love with you?

Tomoe: ... Why do you ask me that. That has nothing to do with his weakness.

Tatsumi: It does! If Battousai is in love with you, then he will follow you here. If we can lure him into this forest, the odds rise greatly in our favor! I've already sent a messenger with our invitation. He must be very angry right about now.

Tomoe: ... No. Then sending me to find his weak point was a blind. Your real objective was-- (thinking) To set me up as his weak point.

Tatsumi: Rather than look for a weakness I hardly expected him to have, I sent you to make one for me. It turned out to be far easier than I thought...

Tomoe (thinking): ... Oh no. In the end ... I only drew into enemy territory. But at least-- (she draws a small dagger) At least I can make sure there's one less of them!

(She lunges at Tatsumi; he strikes her and she falls to the ground.)

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