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Ipsum. A mega-city that is located beachside, with mountains and a river surrounding its expansive homes and towering buildings. The city is beyond beautiful... yet none of the residents have any idea how they arrived, and have yet to leave, because Ipsum is a city you can never leave -- not by choice. People appear here without any knowledge where they are, no one knows what country or world they are even in. Yet, the city still provides for her people. Jobs, homes, goods are all readily available, and there is a place for everyone, be it the good or bad — Ipsum shall provide.
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Sword for Hire
Himura KenshinSamurai X: Trust and Betrayal
Bandits are just a part of life, and it is not unusual for them to attack such vulnerable groups as the caravan. He does not know why they choose to kill everyone, but he remembers the screams, the smell of blood filling the air. He remembers trying to make a stand, grasping a sword far to large for his small frame, trying to protect the three that had comforted him. He remembers, vividly, the way they, instead, shield him from the bandit's sword, a vision of red and steel and a wish for him to live.
It is devastating, to lose them. Especially so soon after losing his parents.
There is a moment where he truly believes he will die. And then there is a man, who cuts down the threat as if it is nothing, his sword too fast for the boy's eyes to follow. A man who leaves as soon as he is finished, and the boy can only watch as his savior disappears into the night.
Once dead, there are no slaves, no traders, no bandits, there are only bodies. And the dead deserve a proper burial, no matter what the person may have done in life. So he works, his tiny hands digging at the earth, dragging body after body, constructing marker after marking and spending the extra time to find three nice stones for the woman who made the short experience somewhat bearable. He will remember the weight of the dead for the rest of his life.
He does not expect the stranger to return in the morning, but he is touched by the offering of sake on the womens' graves. It is very surprising, when the stranger makes the decision to take him in, to train him in the way of the sword, and it is the first time he feels hope since he's been orphaned. He can learn, and he can protect those who need protecting.
From now on, your name will be Kenshin.
He trains, diligently, and he learns quickly. His light frame allowing him to use the lighting-speed of the style to the fullest. It is not an easy life, high in the mountains, with only his guardian for company, but over the years, Hiko becomes something like a father figure to him in many ways. He owes the man his life, and the best way to show his gratitude, he supposes, is to learn all the man has to teach.
It is only when news of revolution reaches them that he grows discontent with his life. It is what he's trained for, isn't it? To protect the weak? He does not understand his master's resistance to joining the revolutionaries, fighting for a better life for all. He is reminded, coldly, that this goes against the values Hiko has been trying to teach him, that the art of swordsmanship is, at its core, the art of murder, yet he insists.
Upon leaving their mountain home, it is not long until he finds himself a member of a small collection of other would-be fighters-for-hire. It is not long after that when he attracts the attention of none other than the leader of the Chōshū Clan and finds himself hired on as an assassin for the group. His hope is that his involvement will help to bring about peace. He takes to the job with relative ease, proving to be a valuable asset to the clan. It takes almost no time at all for him to earn his title.
There is one night which will affect his life far more than he can begin to imagine at the time. A man who should have been an easy kill is so determined to remain standing that he actually gives the young man a moment of trouble. He, in his final strike, manages to leave a lasting mark on the young assassin. In turn, the assassin grants him one last kindness, placing a flower he had been reaching desperately for on his corpse.
A wound on his left cheek, a slice from just shy of his chin to nearly the outer corner of his eye. He brushes it off, he was careless, that was all.
Only, it doesn't go away. It refuses to heal, and every kill he makes seems to make it bleed again. He is reminded, by another Clan member, of an old superstition. Of wounds inflicted by those with a deep hatred, wounds that do not heal until revenge has been taken. He wonders if there is truth to that.
It is a woman who will be his downfall, though he cannot know that at the time. He should have killed her where she stood, she was a witness to his murder of a rival clan's assassin sent after him. It would have simplified things in the long run but, instead, he shows mercy. He takes her to his clan's home.
Yukishiro Tomoe. She cannot leave, despite his protests she must stay where the clan can keep an eye on her. She's seen his face, she's a liability. She takes to housework easily enough, though, and, over time, the two grow closer. She takes the edge off his anger, keeps him from slipping into madness due to the work he does.
Then comes the night where, once again, he finds everything he knows slipping from his grasp. His clan in shambles, he is forced to flee Kyoto or risk his own life and it strikes him as - not strange, but...well, he doesn't have a word for it, the feeling that comes upon being ordered to take Tomoe with him. To act as if they are a newlywed couple simply settling in the countryside. He knows it is a plan devised to protect his real identity as the famed assassin of the Chōshū, but...he does not know how to do what they ask of him. It has been a long time since he's allowed himself to make a deeper connection, of any type, with anyone else.
It is hard, at the beginning, but there are things he remembers from his childhood, long before the slave caravan and Hiko and all the blood left in his wake. A small plot of land is good enough for farming to feed themselves, and with regular, covert, deliveries of herbs, they manage to scrape a meager living for themselves selling medicines in the nearest village.
She, in time, becomes many of his firsts. He falls, slowly and surely, for this woman who can, somehow, tame his darker impulses, drag him back from the edge, time and time again. So, to be told, by a man long-considered a trusted clan member, that she is a spy, that it his duty to kill her...he finds himself almost in a daze. Disbelief, heartbreak, conflicting with loyalty to the clan, to his duty as an assassin, anger and pain at betrayal.
It is a ruse, long in the making, but he does not know that. They strike at his weakness and it works.
The trail he follows proves a treacherous one, in many ways. Hidden assassins try him, one after the other, and fall, one by one - though not without leaving their mark. It is sheer determination that sees him through, beaten and bloody, to find her. One way or another, he has to know.
It is all he can do to stay on his feet by the time he reaches the little temple at the end of the trail where he is faces with a final opponent. He strikes blind, desperate, his usual precision lost to confusion and pain and the trail of red he's left behind him.
His final strike destroys a part of him.
When he realizes what has happened, that she has placed herself between him and the man he's been fighting, that it is her blood that showers him he collapses to his knees in the snow with her in his arms. Her last act is to reach up, to drag her knife through his cheek and he lets her. What else can he do? The first mark comes from her late fiance, it seems only fitting she should add her own. She dies in his embrace and a small part of him goes with her.
He will see the rest of the revolution through, and then he will sheathe his sword for the last time. He will find a way to atone for his sins, the death and pain he has caused. He will retire and take to wandering.
He will live the life of the Rurouni.
Culture shock is putting it very, very, lightly. The city comes nowhere near anything he is familiar with. The buildings, the people, the technology, he finds himself lost and confused more often than not and so he resorts to what he does know. Maybe protecting people the way his master once wanted him to is a way to atone, maybe not, but it is the single familiar thing in an alien environment.
He will no longer work for groups or organizations, that way lies only more pain, more opportunities for people to use him and his skills for their own ends. No. He has learned his lesson there. Instead, he will protect the weak individually, those who cannot protect themselves. He will be their strength and, if needed, their sword. But it is up to him, finally, whether any opponent he meets deserves to live or die. He will no longer let anyone else make that decision for him and he will try his hardest to leave as many as he can alive.
It is not quite the wanderer lifestyle he intended, but all he can do is try to make a life in a new and very strange place.
A fighting style developed in order to defeat an enemy with a single blow. It typically stresses two-part attacks and keeping one hand on the sheath at all times to ensure a user is never caught off guard. It also focuses on extreme speed and agility (often called "godspeed"), battōjutsu, and a development of observation-based near-clairvoyance - or a highly increased ability to observe and predict an opponent which leaves the impression of clairvoyance. Movements are designed to minimize a practitioner's movement and increase their ability to counter-attack while preserving energy.
The so-called "godspeed" allows a practitioner to accelerate, maneuver, and strike at speeds most (human) eyes cannot follow which lets the user close distances in seconds and strike before (most) enemies can react.
As he left his training early, he only really has access to the lower-level techniques. Considering there's no real comprehensive list (as far as I know) of what he would have known upon leaving his apprenticeship, I've taken a little liberty and cut it down to the ones that seem to make sense for the level he would be at.
Attacking from above, it uses the momentum of the user to add strength to the two-handed slash to the target's head or shoulder.
- Ryūtsuisen ● Zan
Similar to the above, but ending in a stab to the head rather than a slash
- Ryūtsuisen ● Zan
A spinning attack best suited to when one is surrounded. It involves sidestepping an opponent to move past them, while spinning to add force and momentum to a strike aimed, typically, a the back of the head or neck.
The opposite of Ryūtsuisen, in that it's a rising slash typically aimed to slice through the opponent's chin/head from below, as a counter to attacks from above.
An extremely high-speed series of attacks designed to be very difficult to defend against or dodge simply because of the speed of the strikes.
A ranged attack which involves slashing at the ground in order to send chunks of debris at an opponent with knockout force.
A technique which focuses on the rapid drawing and sheathing of a sword and emphasizes being aware and capable of responding quickly to a sudden attack. It also focuses on hand-eye coordination, timing, distance, targeting, and knowing one's sword.
After the first strike with a sword, the sheath follows the same path to deliver a second strike with enough force behind it to crush bone. The idea is that, even if the sword strke misses, the sheath may land a crushing blow on an unsuspecting opponent.
- Physically powerful
- Fast learner
- Hitokiri mindset, he's making an effort to leave that life behind him but can still be pushed back into old habits relatively easily
- Guilt and regret
- His light build. The Hiten Mitsurugi-ryū Style is best suited to incredibly athletic bodies and can, and will, cause cumulative long-term damage over time, depending on how often he ends up in a real fight.
That one magical girl anime
Oh man, this app was wonderfully written, Ros! I loved how you decided to portray his background and how he goes through the changes of his extremely tragic life, finding that the blood that soaks his hands is something he cannot change but wanting to make it so no more is to burden him. He is a very complex character but you seemingly write him with precision and ease and I admire that so much! I cannot wait to see what Kenshin gets up to within the city of Ipsum!
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