Chapter 177: Remembrances 14--And So Time Passed

Copyright© 2011 by Murasame

It's all right. So please, don't cry...

Kenshin (thinking): It's not all right. How could this be right? If someone had to die, it should have been me, the killer ... How can it be right that you died? Tomoe...

(Two weeks later. A villager points the way, directing Katsura to Kenshin's house.)

(Kenshin sits in the middle of the room, staring at the fire.)

Kenshin (thinking): I think and I think and I can't understand. Why ... why would she ... Tomoe.

(The wind ruffles the pages of her diary, sitting open on a table.)

Kenshin (thinking): Tomoe's ... diary...

(He picks it up and begins reading.)

April 4--Today we received word from that Kyosato Akira had been killed. Though I can hardly believe it, I am filled with regret that I did not stop him from leaving. Now-- Kenshin (thinking): Kyosato ... so that was her fiance's name. I've heard that name somewhere before.

(Suddenly, he remembers the young man he killed in Kyoto, and his last word: To ... mo ... e.)

Kenshin (thinking): I killed him! I was the one who killed her fiance--I stole her happiness from her! Tomoe...

Katsura (at the door): Your misfortune in killing her fiance. Her misfortune in falling in love with you. It was just two pieces of very bad luck. It's not your fault. I heard all about it. I've already sent someone for the traitor.

(Iizuka is walking along a snowy mountain path.)

Iizuka: Heh heh ... Everyone's bad, I'm just a step ahead of the rest. Whether the Bakuku or the patriots win, pretty soon there aren't going to be any samurai any more. (juggling a couple of medicine tablets) These are much more reliable than a sword--

(A swordsman appears on the path before, holding a blade with a serrated edge. Iizuka stares at him for a moment.)

Iizuka: Damn ... leave it to Kogorou. He couldn't just let me go. Well, guess I'll have to rely on a sword this time--

(Shishio smiles. Iizuka is killed in one burst of flame.)

Shishio: My first job was too easy. Is this all they think I'm worth? No matter. Let them think of me as their toy. It won't be the Bakufu or the patriots who take this country. It'll be me...

(Back in Kenshin's house.)

Kenshin: Shishio Makoto...

Katsura: Yes ... his origins and school are unknown. He's dangerous, but his skills are on a par with yours. It's been decided that he will conduct the assassinations from now on.

Kenshin: So I'm being fired.

Katsura: No ... you must continue to wield your sword for us. The patriot-hunting in the capital has grown worse. If no one stands up to them, total destruction is inevitable. Himura, you must protect the patriots as a mobile attacker. It's cruel of me to ask you, but there is no one else I can ask this of. I want you to make your heart bloodthirsty and wield the sword that soars the heavens.

(Kenshin is silent. Katsura is startled when the door suddenly opens--it's the village kids.)

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