heart of SWORD

Kenshin Himura
20 June
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A man known by many names, with all of which he has earned respect from those around him- be it out of fear, admiration or love.
This swordsman has lived his life in the line of danger, all in name of his beliefs.

At the beginning, he was known as Shinta, son of a peasant couple during the Tokugawa shogunate. These were harsh times in Japan, particularly for those of the lower economical statuses. By the time he was eight, Shinta had been left an orphan after his parents died of cholera; at age ten, he was sold into the slavery market. However, fate had other plans for him on mind.
The slave traders' caravan in which he traveled was taken under attack by a gang of thieves; being the only boy, Shinta felt the responsibility to protect the girls that travelled with him, but his plans turned around when the terrified girls grabbed him into a protective embrace, begging the criminals to spare the young boy's life.

Unable to do anything to help them, he had to watch as the girls were brutally murdered along with everyone else.

When it all seemed to be lost, a man appeared and killed all of the bandits with ease. The words he directed at the sole survivor of this unlucky tragedy were short, telling him to take refuge in a nearby village, and then he was gone as fast as he had arrived.

A week later, when the mysterious man returned to the scene of the massacre with no news of the boy and the intentions of laying the victims' bodies to rest, he discovered that it had already been turned into a graveyard. Slavers, slaves and bandits alike, they had all been given a proper burial by Shinta alone.
The boy's resolve to protect others and his views on equality during a time when everything depended on a strict class hierarchy made the man, Hiko Seijuro, take the boy under his care, changing his name for one much more apt for a swordsman: Kenshin.

With this new name, he trained in the swordstyle known as Hiten Mitsurugi-Ryu under Seijuro's supervision up until he was fourteen years of age; it was then that, after a class of standing-points with his master, Kenshin left before completing his training. All because he simply couldn't stand back while other people suffered.

It was now the the late Tokugawa Shogunate, also knowns as "Bakumatsu".

Kenshin sided with those who were against the shogunate, his impressive skills with the sword were quickly noticed and pointed out to Katsura Kogoro, one of the leaders of the Choshu Ishin Shisi. The boy's abilities were so, that in exchange to have him in his ranks, Katsura vowed to never draw his sword again. It would now be Kenshin's turn to do so.

At this young age, Kenshin is assigned the role of Hitokiri- a man slayer. Along with the Ishin Shishi, his goal was to deliver Divine Justice, "Tenchu", upon the Shogunate; making way for an era of change where people wouldn't have to suffer any more injustices, or at least that was Kenshin's utopian ideal.

During this time he earned yet another name: Battousai. This one was for being a master at Battojutsu, the sword drawing technique which he handles and an amazing speed.

While in a mission at Kyoto to assassinate the local administrator, he found himself needing to kill the two bodyguards that accompanied him in order to leave no witnesses, but one of them, Kiyosato Akira, was not ready to merely die that night. With nothing but the power of his will to live and his sword, this puny man accomplished what no other before had been able to: To leave a latent mark on the Battousai, a scar on his left cheek, so full with emotion, that would never fully heal.

After this incident, it was starting to become more noticeable that all the killing was taking its toll on the young man; nor food nor drink would taste good anymore, all there was left to do was to keep on killing.

One night, he was ambushed by a shogunate assassin out in the open of a deserted street; Kenshin killed him with ease in one bloody spectacle. When he calmed down, he noticed the scent of white plums overriding that of the blood. The source, he discovered in shock, was a woman who had been standing there all along, witnessing his crime. A hitokiri leaves no witnesses, he had to kill her- but then she spoke: "You are the one who makes blood rain." Then she passed out.
The swordsman, knowing not what else to do, took the woman back to the inn he was staying at along with other Ishin Shishi members who, to Kenshins dismay and annoyance, ended up thinking she was his woman.

The girl, Tomoe Yukishiro, stayed and worked as a maid at the inn. During her stay there, little by little, she managed to get past the hitokiri shell and closer to the real Kenshin who was still only a boy at heart.
Meanwhile, it was suspected that there was a traitor within the Ishin Shishi who was leaking out important information to their adversaries; though Tomoe was suspected at first, this idea was dismissed by Iizuka, field examiner for the group.

Later, fomented by the Ikedaya incident (where the Shinsengumi, the bakufu's special police force, attacked the Ikedaya inn while part of the Ishin Shishi were there, planning their next moves), a fight that would be known as the Kinmon incident took place. Kyoto was set on fire, Kenshin fought alongside the Ishin Shishi versus the men of the shogunate, who ended up defeating the other side by far.
Tomoe and Kenshin managed to escape miraculously and met up with Katsura, he ordered to move to a farm outside of Kyoto in order to stay hidden for now, also suggesting to them that if they stayed together pretending to be a young couple they would arise less suspicions from others.

Kenshin didn't like pretending and so, at age fifteen, he married Tomoe. He had, after all, started to truly fall in love with the girl.

While Kyoto continued to be a dangerous place for imperialists, they peacefully lived together as medicine sellers in their farm; though such life was certainly boring for a swordsman, Kenshin does admit to having been able to use this time to meditate on many things. They didn't have children of their own, but often the children of the village would go to their farm to play with Kenshin .

Even though they were married, Kenshin knew nothing about Tomoe's past until one day when a boy who turned out to be her little brother showed up at their house. It was obvious that Enishi Yukishiro did not like him at all. The boy didn't stay for long and once he had left Tomoe finally revealed to him her origins; she was the daughter of an average family, they had money but weren't precisely wealthy, their mother had died while giving birth to Enishi, so she had taken on the role of his sister and mother, thus leading him to become very possessive of her. Tomoe had her marriage arranged with a childhood friend, but he was killed in Kyoto before it was formalized.

Kenshin swears to protect her from any more pain and suffering in the future, telling her that he'll continue to kill for now, but once the revolution's finally over, he won't kill any more and he'll try to find a way to atone for the sins he has committed.

Unknown to Kenshin was the fact that she, who was now his wife, originally only intended to act as a spy and, eventually, lead to the hitokiri's death in the name of revenge. That had changed though, now that she loved the man that had granted her with a happiness that had been stolen from her.

Next morning, Kenshin woke up to find Tomoe gone, only a letter left behind with clues as to her location. Enraged, he head out to search for her, led into a strange forest where his sixth sense for predicting enemy's movements was impaired. Recklessly he fought against three adversaries that tried to stop him, though he won on each ocassion, each of them managed to damage him importantly; the first got his sense of hearing through an explosion, but he kept going using his sight; the second one gave him a wound across his back, escaping then; and the third one, using another explosion, damaged his sight temporarily.

Led only by his sense of smell, Kenshin arrived to the place where Tomoe was being held. Injured, out of practice and led by his emotions, he faced one last opponent. The fight was tough but he had to defeat this man to save Tomoe, it didn't matter to him if he had to die in order to do so; putting all of his might into one last attack, Kenshin charged at his opponent, eyes closed and full of determination.

Blood and white plums. Tomoe had gotten in between them in an attempt to injure his attacker and save Kenshin, but she had received his attack's full force. The blade she held flew out of her hands, cutting Kenshin's left cheek in a way that formed a cross along with his previous scar.
With a smile on her face she died in his arms; all of this time, Tomoe's little brother watched from behind the trees.

Devastated an unable to comprehend why Tomoe had done that, Kenshin returned to their house. Once there, he began to read the diary Tomoe had been keeping so diligently since Kenshin could remember, it was like this that he found out the name of the man she had been originally arranged to marry to: Kiyosato Akira. The very same man who had given him the first part of the wound on his cheek while being murdered by him. Now knowing that it had been him who had taken Tomoe's happiness in the first place only made him even more depressed, but now was not the time to be depressed. Kurata reappeared from hiding and paid a visit to Kenshin, letting him know that the traitor within the Ishin Shihi had finally been found out and murdered by the new hitokiri of the group: Shishio Makoto. Now that someone else occupied the position that originally had belonged to Kenshin, he was assigned to fight in the battlefield in order to protect the loyalists in Kyoto. Kenshin takes up the offer, thinking that if he gave up now all of the lives he had taken beforehand would have been in vain, but once again, he says that after the revolution had been finalized he will never kill another person.

During the last days of the Shogunate, Kenshin continued to fight alongside the Ishin Shihi versus the Shinsengumi and other supporters of the shogunate in order to free Japan. At last, by 1867, they restored the power to the Meiji Emperor; next year the Boshin war to overthrow the Shogunate goverment took place, after the first battle was won, the battousai disappeared to never be heard of again.

Ten years after the end of the revolution he showed up in Tokyo as Himura Kenshin, the rurouni who wielding a reverse-bladed sword known as "sakabato". Upon his arrival, Kenshin's confronted by a young girl who seems to know his true identity as the battousai; however, by showing her how his sword shows no signs of having been used, he manages to convince her of the contrary.

It turned out there was a man calling himself battousai in town while causing riots and killing people; since it was forbidden to carry around swords in public nowadays, the girl had thought Kenshin was this criminal.
Kamiya Kaoru was her name, instructor at the Kamiya Kasshin ryu dojo and daughter of the already defunct founder. The criminal going by the name of battousai claimed to be a student of this style so all other students had stopped going to the now disgraced dojo. In the end, Kenshin rescued her from the fake battousai and defeated him and his goonies, thus revealing his identity as the real battousai. She did not care about his past and offered for him to stay at the dojo and help around, so he did, remarking that he didn't know when he'd leave again though; thus was the life of a rurouni.

During his stay at the Kamiya Kasshin dojo Kenshin met many people that would later turn out to be valuable friends and allies; among these was Myoujin Yahiko, orphaned child of a samurai family and pickpocket for the Yakuza who they ended up taking as a student at the dojo; Sagara Sanosuke the street fighter also known as "Zanza"; and doctor Takani Megumi, who the group rescued after she had been involved in and illegal opium production scheme, thus earning her gratitude.
Though Kenshin never taught at the dojo, he did make himself useful by taking care of other household chores such as doing the laundry, shopping for supplies and even cooking when everyone needed a change from Kaoru's awful cooking.

Bearing his trademark scar combined with his unmistakable hair color made it only a matter of time before people began to take notice of the former hitokiri's presence in Tokyo, soon enough old enemies showed up, one of them being Saitou Hajime, former captain of the Shinsengumi's third unit. Under the guise of a police officer, this man entered the dojo to await for Kenshin and challenge him to a duel. Kenshin's vow not to kill made the fight far more complicated, and as the battle continued to grow precariously dangerous, the struggle for his survival began to reawaken the hitokiri in him. Kaoru and friends watched in horror as the two men, caught up in memories of the past, battled fiercely without any sign of wanting to stop until one of them dropped dead.
Luckily, their fight was interrupted by a man that had also lived during those violent times: former member of the Satsuma Ishin Shishi, now director of the Department of Internal Affairs, Okubo Toshimichi. It was then that the truth came out, Saitou had originally been sent merely to test Kenshin's strength since the government needed his help to fight a ghost of the past. Shishio Makoto, Kenshin's successor as hitokiri, was planning a rebellion in Kyoto. Everyone thought him to be death, the government had even made sure to burn his body, but that was not enough to kill him. They requested of Kenshin that he returned to Kyoto and assassinated this man. Since this request conflicted with his beliefs, they gave him a week to think about it; time during which his friends attempted to convince him of not going.

A week passed and Kenshin decided to leave for Kyoto, saying goodbye only to Kaoru.

On his way to Kyoto Kenshin attempted to stay away from everyone, openly carrying a sword proved to be a good repellent, but there was one girl who stuck to him like a fly after trying to steal his sword: Makimachi Misao, member of the Oniwabanshu and madly in love with their leader, Shinomori Aoshi, who Kenshin had fought against back in Tokyo.
Together they continued on the way to Kyoto, coming across the village of Shingetsu where they learn from a dying man and his little brother that the place was under the control of Shishio. Determined to confront Shishio as soon as possible, Kenshin sets off to search him in the village, eventually finding him but having to fight one of his followers instead: Seta Soujirou. During this duel with the young prodigal swordsman, Kenshin’s sakabato is broken as is his enemie’s sword, thus declaring it a tie.

With a broken sword that was left in no condition to be repaired they finally arrived to Kyoto. Kenshin stayed at the Aoi-ya, an inn ran by Oniwabanshu members. Using their information network he found out that the blacksmith who had made his sword was now dead but that his son still lived and so he went to visit him. This man, however, had no intentions of making any swords since he was enjoying the peace of a quiet life with his wife and child.
The child was kidnapped by one of Shishio’s men though when he young blacksmith refused to give him his father’s last sword which was now an offering at a local temple. Kenshin set off to rescue the kid, but with a broken sword he could only use the steel sheat to fight. Trusting in the rurouni, the young blacksmith handed him his father’s last sword which, surprisingly, turned out to be another sakabato.

Armed once more with the only weapon he would wield, Kenshin returned to visit his master with whom he had fought ten years ago, abandoning his training. He now wanted to resume his training in order to be strong enough to defeat these new opponents. Something very unexpected for Kenshin happened then though: Kaoru showed up there. At first his master had refused to follow through with is training, but after having a talk with Kaoru he agreed to teach him what was left to teach of the Hiten Mitsurugi ryu. It took an intensive training and nearly killing his master, but Kenshin finally mastered the style’s secret techniques.

Accompanied by Saito Hajime and Sanosuke they fought their way at Shishio’s base, each of them taking on one adversary except for Kenshin who took not only on Seto Soujirou once more as appointed, but also fought against Shinomori Aoishi since he had promised Misao to bring him back.
Already injured and beaten, Kenshin fought against Shishio in an epic battle that ended up with Shishio spontaneously combusting due to his body overheating during the fight.

The group returns to Tokyo and, for once, Kenshin is able to call a place home again. But their peace is short lived- an apparently accidental cannon blast destroys the Akabeko, an inn where they often used to gather; soon after, many places and people even remotely related to Kenshin begin to fall under attack, the attackers call it “Jinchuu”.
Convinced that is is him they are after, Kenshin discovers who is behind the attacks: Yukishiro Enishi, his brother in law from his marriage with Tomoe. Enishi tells him that they will attack the dojo in ten days.
Kenshin explains the situation to his friends, painfully reliving the memories that cause him a feeling of guilt up until that day. When at least the time of the fight arrives, he receives full support of them as they fight against Enishi’s allies. Once the rest were defeated, it is at last time for Kenshin to confront Enishi and he proves to be a fierce opponent driven by his desire of revenge. After the confusion caused by the fight and surrounding smoke, a badly beaten Kenshin comes across a sight that shattered his whole being: Kaoru was dead. Enishi had killed her and he hadn’t been able to protect her, she who he loved had now died and he had failed.

Heavily depressed, Kenshin retired to a place known as the Fallen Village, there he did nothing but angst and torment himself with his memories. No matter how many times they tried to make him return to his sense, none of his friends managed anything.
It wasn’t until his friends discover that Kaoru was not actually dead that he returned to his sense, it turned out that it had all been staged with an icredibly realistic doll. The real Kaoru was alive somewhere, and he had to get her back.

At last they discover that Enishi is holding her captive at an island and they set off to rescue her. Kenshin fights once more with Enishi, finally managing to defeat him now that he has at last began to understand the power of the will to live on.

They happily return to Tokyo once more, life was just going back to normal when suddenly Kenshin was warped into Avoria.