The Enishi & Kaoru Project
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Affiliates: The Sheath :: The Crouching Tiger's Realm

Blood and Snow
Chapter 17

by: Yasai-chan

           Kaoru wasn't quite sure where he was taking her, but he defiantly seemed to know. He took her in a carriage and they rode strait for four days to the port. Kaoru thought they were going to get on a boat and sail back to Japan, but Enishi led them away parallel to the port until they got to the edge of town.

           It had been a long walk and Enishi was gracious enough to stop by an excellent restaurant before they continued to wherever they were going. There wasn't much talking between them, but Kaoru had already learned earlier on, in the ship, not to expect any.

           Enishi stopped by a stable intending to get a few horses but Kaoru objected saying she didn't know how to ride. Enishi shot her a sidelong glance and acquired one horse, pulling her up in front of him as he rode down along the coastline

           They finally arrived at a secluded cove on the coastline towards the south. The weather was a bit warmer than it had been in the city three days to the north. Kaoru gaped in wonder at the cliffs that rose above the water and sloped down into a gentle beach at points. Hidden between the cliff walls, Kaoru barely glimpsed a flash of white. When they approached closer it revealed itself as a huge building of intricate design nestled between the gargantuan stone crevices.

           It seemed to be some sort of personal resort. Kaoru blinked at the magnificence, but as they approached further it seemed empty. The surroundings were oddly quiet except for the crash of the waves breaking against the cliffs and the odd swish of the horse's hooves as it cantered on the sand. Enishi pulled the horse to a stop in front of the great building and dismounted, holding his hands up to assist Kaoru down as well.

           Kaoru hopped down, disregarding his offer for help, but she almost stumbled over unsteady from all that riding and he ended up helping her anyhow. Enishi looked at her for a long moment as he had his arms around her waist and stared deep into her confused eyes. He suddenly let go and whirled around, grabbing his sword from its place strapped across the horse's back. He unwrapped the bulky cloth that was loosely draped around it and handed it to Kaoru; She almost buckled under the weight but held it steady after a moment.

           "Show me how much you want this" He said seriously looking at the unwieldy hold on his blade. He looked over at the horse meaningfully.

           "How far will you go for it." He asked. Kaoru's eyes widened as she followed his gaze to the horse, and then down at the sword. She glanced at him an indiscernible but almost terrified expression on her face. He knew she'd never killed anything before.

           The minutes seemed to drag on, the silence only broken by the occasional impatient whiney of the horse. Kaoru squinted her eyes closed for a moment, then slowly opened them, looking once again at the blade of the sword. It gleamed almost wickedly in the fading sunlight. All the sudden Kaoru took a determined look in her eye and raised the sword unsteadily, meaning to bring it down on the unsuspecting creature.

           The sword stopped with a thud. Kaoru had closed her eyes during the swing and was afraid to open them and look. She slowly opened one eye, grimacing, as the first thing she saw was blood. Both of them popped open as she realized the blood belonged to Enishi. His had had stopped the path of the sword.

           "I had to be sure" he said simply "Because some things you may have to do to achieve your goals could kill you if you have a weak heart." He look his sword back from her and wiped his blood off the blade, wrapping it once more and slinging it over his back. He headed into the house with a shaken but relieved Kaoru in tow. What had she gotten herself into.

           Enishi led her into the house. He wasn't quite sure why he had brought her here after she had called for revenge. No, that wasn't right. He wanted this… no he wanted her. When she had said those three little words his fate was sealed. And now there was no turning back for him.

           But after what he was about to show her in the next few weeks, could she ever love him? He would take her into the very depths of hell, but would she stay with him? Or run further into hell past him, or help him out? He frowned at his thoughts. None of it was of any consequence. He would not give in to his emotions, and she would never know.

           He led her into a large room just to the left of the dinning hall. Turning around he addressed her

           "Some of what I do may not make sense" he spoke, afterwards striding towards a far wall and opening a panel that revealed a whole wall of weapons. "But the best I know how to do this is by giving you a shadow of what I had to go through" he said, his words growing quiet towards the last.

           "But before any of that," he pulled a bow off the wall "I'm going to teach you how to survive it." He smiled grimly, handing her the bow, and a quiver. Turning to a small door on the other side of the room, he led her out to a great field behind it. Set up in the field was a row of targets going diagonally across the line of the house, each in the row three feet further than the last.

           The first was about ten feet away, and there were twenty in all.

           "Shoot it" he said pointing. She nodded and pulled out an arrow, seemingly expertly stringing her bow, but after she got the arrow into the string and started pulling back, it was apparent she had no clue what she was doing. The arrow was wobbling back and forth to the side, and when she drew back and released it flew no more than six inches, to the side.

           Enishi winced and strode up to her, pulling an arrow out of the bag and surrounding her arms in his. He put the arrow in her hand; holding her other hand in place on the bow, lower than she had originally had it. Kaoru shivered at the contact, but not out of fear. She wasn't willing to find out why though.

           "If you hold the arrow in your fingers like this" he directed her "And pull it up to this, aligning it here" he went on, Kaoru just being guided along her eyes wide. He adjusted her body position, his hands leaving from around her arms to fall to her hips as he turned her to the side. He also turned her head and had her pull the arrow up next to her cheek, afterwards standing parallel to her and mocking the position one would have to show her.

           Kaoru nodded and looked back at the target, taking his advice in mind as she pulled the bow taut and released. The arrow flew past the target, hitting in the ground seven feet beyond it, gaining her a lecture on how to aim. She just watched Enishi as he expertly explained, wondering how many different weapons he knew how to use and why he had chosen a combination Japanese blade with the Chinese hilt.

           They went on till long after the sun fell, Enishi teaching her the imperatives of shooting and aiming in the dark after she'd caught on to everything else he taught her, adjustment for wind and weather, and how to do everything in a limited amount of time.

           Her arms were exhausted by the end of the day. She sighed and trudged up the stairs after him as he directed her to the room she'd be staying in "for now" he had said. She collapsed on the bed, not even caring that she hadn't eaten, too tired to care.

           The next day went much like the last, although about noon she noticed that they still hadn't eaten anything, nor had there been any mention of it. When she asked Enishi about it, she almost wished he hadn't. He pointed up one of the cliffs at the faint line of trees you could see at the top.

           "Up there" he said. "You can eat what you catch" he finished. Kaoru's eyes had teared up in frustration and hunger, but she refused to let them fall as she trudged over to the cliff, strapping the bow onto her back.

           She had been stopped at the foot of the cliff by Enishi, turning around, she thought he would tell her it had been another test. But he handed her a rope and strapped a belt around her waist with a small dagger and some other things.

           "Come back in a week." He said "Any less time, I'll send you back up for twice as long, and longer and I'll come after you."

           Kaoru nodded and stepped up onto the face of the cliff; glad she had enjoyed climbing things as a child.

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Disclaimer: Site created by the ExK no Tenshi-tachi. Enishi, Kaoru & other Rurouni Kenshin characters belong to Watsuki Nobuhiro-sensei, Sony, and Shonen Jump. The rest are products of the webdominatrices' imagination. Please don't sue us. We're very poor.