Oh, it's such a pretty day out! The perfect day to take a walk through the park and follow Jiya's advice!I take my time as I walk toward my destination--the pond. I like being near water when I meditate. The trees are turning, and the leaves are so beautiful!There aren't that many people about when I reach the pond, just some ducks swimming lazily by. I watch them for a few minutes before I sit down by the edge of the pond, take off my tabi and socks, and let my feet dangle in the water. The water's a bit chilly, but I don't mind that much.I just sit there for a few minutes and stare across the pond, trying to clear my mind of all everything that was bothering me earlier today. A buttery yellow leaf from a horse chestnut tree goes floating by, and I reach out and pluck it from the water, laying it my lap. Some people when they meditate prefer to clear their minds completely and not think of anything of all. Some people chant the same sound over and over again. Both kinds of meditation can help a person discover who they are inside.I prefer another kind of meditation. I like to look at something created in nature, cause everything in nature is beautiful. You just can't go wrong when contemplating nature. Nature helps you find the beauty within.I lay the leaf flat in my palm, still dripping water between my fingers.I turn it over and over again, studying it. Its texture, its shape, and the warmth of its wonderful yellow color. I let one of my fingers trace along the tiny veins and along the edges.After a long while, the leaf is dry. I hold it up by its delicate stem and let it blow away in the wind. I smile.
I didn’t look back to check if Kenshin and Kaoru had followed me when I left the cabin by the river. I had a feeling that they wouldn’t. It was okay with me, because I did want to be alone, as least for a little while. Besides which, they deserved some time to be alone together. I did, after all, drag them along on a search for a woman who did not want to be found. As I walked, trying not to think about anything at all, I eventually reached the dojo. I paused, hands in my pockets, as I stared at the gate for a moment or two before I shook my head and moved on.I kept on walking, my feet taking me through the streets of Tokyo until I reached the long house. I entered, slipped inside, and locked the shoji behind me. Once inside, I leaned back against the wall, eventually letting myself fold down to the floor.I stared at the opposite wall for a very long before I fell asleep.
As we leave that shack by the beach, I feel that I have every right in the world to be upset. What was Aoshi-san trying to prove? I thought he was our friend. The Oniwabanshuu have been there to help us plenty of times before in the past just as we have also out of kindness. They let us stay at the Aoiya when we were in Kyoto, we let him and the others stay at our home here in Tokyo. What was he trying to accuse us of anyway?The longer that we walk, the more that my anger starts to subside however. Eventually it is replaced with a quiet sadness. Sanosuke can not find Shura-san, nor could Kenshin and I. I try and push that thought aside for as worried as I am about Sanosuke and her, I am also worried about the person beside me.I turn my head a little to look at him. Kenshin has not so much as squeaked out an oro, even when I was literally dragging him around when I had wanted to walk at a brisker pace. The sadness that I could pick up on as he was handing Aoshi-san our money from various wedding goers; it certain pulled quite a few heart strings. Now... I just stop, knowing that he has no choice other than to stop too.Autumn is starting to get into full swing here in Tokyo. Right here alongside Ueno Park, reds, yellows, oranges mingled with greens and even subtle hints of pink. The colors are not in peak quite yet, but it is still not too early too...."Let's go a different way home." It is the first thing that I have said in quite some time and I blurt it out too. Suddenly on impulse I am starting to pull him in a different direction. I do not know where this path leads too but finding out is half the fun, ne?( Kenshin pulled along for the ride with permission )
Before long the three of us make our way through the busy streets, finally arriving at my house. For a woman living alone it's a tad large, but I love it all the same...for the storage space and training space.Safely inside and with the gate securely locked, I turn to my two companions."Now then, ladies, if you'll follow me, I'll show you my collection."
I step outside of the cabin and move a few feet away from it as I wait for Kenshin and Kaoru to come out.Suddenly I'm feeling very tired.
I am not hungry. My body is tired, but the thought of sleep fails to interest me.I should not have gone to her. I should not have gone to her.Why is my judgment no longer what it once was?And then, as the hours wear on, I find myself no longer caring.What is done is done. There is nothing I can do but plunge on.I think idly that I should leave a message at the Kite. Thank you for your help, I do not know how I can ever repay you, I apologize for the short notice, good-bye.Not necessary, his voice whispers. You will not be missed.Let's go, I say tiredly. Let's go again, to that place. That place where the magnolias blossomed beneath the blue sky, and the land was like a mirror reflecting water and air.Yes, we will go.I do not know the way.Of course. You have forgotten, he says cruelly. You often forget such things. These things that should never be forgotten.No, don't say that. I have never forgotten. Never. Never.But I do not know the way.But he does not reply and when I look, I see two snakes slithering along the side of the road. I wonder if one of them is the little green creature I released just days ago. I wonder many things but it is useless to wonder. They are both black anyway. Green does not turn to ink so easily.They go on and on and on, and I step after them tiredly, and wonder where they lead me.It does not matter.All roads lead there in the end.*wanders off*
[Flashback]Everything was gone.The dreams, the memories, the laughter, the tears--everything was consumed along with the house in the flames of revolution.The old man put his tattered hat over his head, protecting the only remnant of the life he left behind.If his children would not come to him, then he would go after them.He would follow them to the very depths of hell if he had to.[/Flashback]
Then Mushashi being...something...something...did fight something... I blink and close the book for a moment, running a hand through my hair. I start a bit as I see the sun's position. I had been reading a long time. Or...trying anyway. My head is aching a little with the effort. I put the book down and flop back on the grass, staring at the sky. Puffy white clouds pass overhead. The sky was blue that day too. Even though it shouldn't have been. I close my eyes tightly, fighting back the images that are trying to spring to my mind. I'm tired of seeing them."Stop thinking about that," I tell myself forcefully. I had a family...well...somewhere to stay now. With Saitou-san...even though...well... I wasn't really staying with him either at the moment. I sat up again, staring at the shimmering river. It hadn't too long and allready I was missing how it was. Helping Tokio-san around the house. Waiting for Saitou-san to come home and now everything was...uncertain again. Staying with Okita-san is fine, but...I just wish something would stay the same from one day to the next.
After leaving Saitou, as Kenshin and Jou-chan catch up with me, I tell them that I want to check along the bay.I may have checked the port, but what if Shura just went off to be alone for some reason? She definitely wouldn't go to the port, then.The bay would be the perfect place for her to go. It's got lots of little places where a person can be alone and not see another single soul.I lead both Kenshin and Kaoru over the stretches of white sand and the occasional bits of rocky soil that make up Tokyo's open waterfront.As we walk, my eyes are constantly moving. Up to the water and back, all the way to the tree line that marks the border between the forest and the beach. Searching for any sign of Shura.It's October and grown colder, so there's no one else about. The wind off the water has a chilled feeling to it.After we all hike for a long while, I suddenly stop walking and find myself staring across the water as a few clouds go scudding by on the horizon. The water is a blue-gray today; not as beautiful as the clear crystal blue that I usually like, but still pretty. "Why don't we take a break?"(Kenshin and Kaoru moved with players' permission.)
After a discreet and silent retreat from the clinic, we scour the river for a place a body can be hidden.Of course, it needn't sound so morbid. From what Yamazaki said, she should be alive. But we do not know how long she has.Still, I find myself more fatigued than usual. I didn't exactly get a good night's sleep and this exercise of carrying my lady love across half the town is wearing on my reserves.Damn that shinobi. He couldn't be a little more specific? Did he expect Megumi to just run over here by herself and find this 'Shura' woman?I settle the good doctor on her feet after coming down from a brief perch in a tree to see the lay of the land. I need some rest. And we need to figure out what we're doing out here. Can someone say 'ambush?'I wander down to the river's edge near a familiar bridge. The water is cold on my hands and colder on my face."Ideas on where to go? Do you think she could be..." I don't want to say it. "Where...he was before?"He. The man I'd like to forget.