hitokiri no musume

by: kouchan

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prologue

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Where does a child fit when a country is ripping itself apart? However are they supposed to survive when their own existence is a thread in the tapestry of a country undergoing revolution? In a town near Kyoto, when memory is lost, this child will survive.

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Once upon a time there was a man named Nakamura Hanjirou. He was a poor man, and the life of the sword had shaved away his kindness, charm and happiness until he was only a weapon. He was a feared man, a hitokiri. One day his clan leader called him and said to him, solemnly: "Are you loyal and brave?" Nakamura answered, "You know I am willing to die for our cause!" Said the clan leader: "Can I send you on a dangerous mission of the greatest importance, and trust you as I would trust myself?" and Nakamura answered, "You can".

"Then carry this message to Tanakasan of Ryokan Shinpei," said the clan leader, "and do not spare your horse in getting there. Do not stop for rain or snow, do not skirt the mountains but ride across them; die if you must, but do not reveal my message to a soul. Above all else, look no young woman in the eye until my message is delivered safely." Thus spoke the clan leader.

"I will deliver your message and will travel as you direct me," said Nakamura.

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That night was dark. Thick thunderclouds blocked the stars and obscured the moon. All around the sky was filled with water, an outpour of rain. Mud had replaced streets and the dark water had soaked the once pure white tabi of the child. Her body shook as she walked, as if she had just stopped running, and her once brilliant red kimono now hung heavy, full of water. Her shoulders drooped and her feet stepped hesitantly as her strange eyes stared blankly ahead, void, without sight or memory. Her desperate lips formed a lost plea:

"okaasan"

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note:

All names are written in common japanese order, family-name and then personal-name. For example, my name is Seta Koumori. Seta is my family-name and Koumori is my personal-name.

unfamiliar words:

hitokiri : (from rurouni kenshin) a shadow assassin/ manslayer

musume : daughter

-san : (suffix) Mr. or Mrs.

ryokan : a japanese-style inn

tabi : japanese-style socks

okaasan : mother