Through the Cracks Ch1 bit – Wounded

It’s done, Kenshin told himself bluntly now, head low so his red bangs would hide any stray gleam of amber in his gaze. Curling the tips of his fingers in and under, as had become his habit these past two years; Gensai-isha didn’t mind, surely, but the local gaijin tended to have… irrational reactions to hanyou. Almost as bad as their response to hitokiri. You can’t return the energies to the earth now, Gensai would notice. And if he didn’t – I don’t know exactly what Companions are, but they live and breathe magic. Sanosuke couldn’t miss it.

Not to mention that every reflex his shishou had hammered into his head through years of training cringed at the very thought of relinquishing one spark of magic under these conditions. He was alone. Wounded. With no backup, and an unknown number of hostiles likely to soon be closing on his position….

Heralds. Heralds who know magic. One of them must have ki-sense. Focus, you baka!

One breath. Another. Kenshin pictured the movements of a slow kata, finding the stillness that was his lifeline. Center. Ground. Store the energy. Don’t let it rule you.

With a mental crack like a stiff neck easing, the blood-magic flowed into its proper place.

Che’, I’m out of practice. Kenshin winced at the slow glow of warmth from within, as empty reserves filled with the glittering strength of death. Shishou would give me five hundred swings, then pound me through a few rocks for good measure.

He’d wanted to get out of practice. He hadn’t wanted to touch death ever again….

“Well, nothing seems to be too wrong here.” Gensai touched a hand to his shoulder just above the wound, feeling at the prominent collarbone under pale skin. “Tch. Weeks here and you still need feeding up. You really weren’t eating well, were you?”

Kenshin gave him an abbreviated shrug. “Sessha had been wandering a while.”

“And the local diet made just about everyone sick when we first Jumped here,” Gensai said matter-of-factly. “Heavy meat, heavy breads, hardly a familiar green in sight. Not to mention this cheese Valdemarans like so much. It looks like tofu, you’d think it’d stay down like tofu….”

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30 thoughts on “Through the Cracks Ch1 bit – Wounded

  1. Yeah, totally different diet that your body is not used to does very . . . unpleasant things to your system.

    Plus with the cheese thing – in addition to not being used to it in general, they might be lactose-intolerate which adds another layer of suck trying to adjust to the diet.

    Valdemarians are just as prone to xenophobia as any other group of humans.

    OTOH if you aren’t expecting people to have claws in the first place . . .

    Jumped

    Dimension-hopping?

    Interesting.

    Blood magic

    Okay, blood magic is a very good reason to steer clear of the Heralds.

    And to be fair to the Heralds, most people who use blood magic they have met haven’t exactly given them reason to look upon it favorably.

    Through Sanosuke might know more than he’s saying to you, Kenshin. The rooster head isn’t nearly as oblivious as he can come across to strangers and some people would probably like him to be.

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    1. “Jumping” is the in-Valdemar-universe term for teleportation – which is very strongly related to Fetching.

      BTW, given Kethry’s backstory, it’s Velgarth canon that the Fetching gift can be used to manipulate magic.

      And yes. Kenshin has many, many reasons to be wary of Heralds!

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      1. “Jumping” is the in-Valdemar-universe term for teleportation

        Okay.

        My knowledge of Valdemar is limited to the two books (Foundation and Intrigues – the first books in the Collegium Series), a short story collection called Sword of Ice and Other Tales of Valdemar, and Friends Across Borders fan fiction series.

        I want to read more but it looks like I’m going to have to order the books online to get the less recent ones.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Most Japanese are either lactose intolerant, or really dislike the taste of a lot of dairy. But the national school system makes all Japanese kids drink milk every day, for the calcium et cetera. Gouda and certain other cheeses are liked, but not others.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. On the other hand, adding aloe pulp to you dairy can (or so I was told by the nice Japanese shopkeeper who sold me the plant) mitigate the digestive unpleasantness. And here I was, just wanting a burn remedy.

        There was also a commercially available aloe yogurt (yes, yogurt with aloe in, like we’d put actual fruit in over here) that I tried which was actually quite tasty.

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      2. It’s be more correct to say ‘people of genetically European descent are /lactose-tolerant/’.

        Most humans/our ancestors around the globe didn’t have as convenient a herd animal that could produce a lactose based food in such high quantities as the milk cow.

        Japan’s use of milk… I don’t know and cannot be certain of why they’d mandate it for school lunches, but my (paranoid) suspicion is that it has its political roots in the American military occupancy.

        And while most modern yoghurt we tend to think of contains high quantities of lactase, one of the major trade goods developed anywhere lactose-tolerant and lactose-intolerant people interacted was yoghurt. Properly made it’s not as sweet as milk or modern yoghurts, but it contains /much/ lower levels of lactase and can be safely consumed as a still dairy based food with some of the usual benefits of actually /drinking/ milk. That and it’s a reasonable way to turn your extra milk into profits when a section of the market won’t /buy/ milk.

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      3. You might look less at political roots and more at Japan’s history of adopting what seems to work from other nations. As one example, a lot of the Meiji period government revolved around restructuring their army and navy around European models, since obviously those worked well enough to force Japan open. In the aftermath of WWII, I’m sure they looked at things like “American kids drink milk for calcium” for “how did they beat us this time?”

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  2. Lord, is this going to be a mess. Blood magic is going to send every Valdemaran running screaming. Some of them in Kenshin’s direction waving sharp objects.

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      1. Yeah, definitely has reflexes . . .

        All of which tend to have him stop threats to himself or others very quickly. Most of the time without much conscious thought. He just moves.

        If you are lucky, stop just means he hits you hard enough that you are unconscious or simply can’t get up. This method is painful but survivable.

        But you push Kenshin too hard or put him in the wrong circumstance and you wind up facing not Kenshin but Battousai and his version of stop is a lot more permanent.

        Which reminds, is a certain Wolf wandering around, effectively waiting for the right moment to pop in, be rather sarcastic and snarky, and refuse to call Kenshin anything but Battousai?

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Ah, Saitou. That’s a bit complicated. He shows up in the part that went argh.

        ATM what I plan to do is tidy up most of what I have written into one complete story, then try to take the piece with Saitou and make it into a different story later. Drat it all.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Hah, I thought Kenshin was a hanyou, he never seems to be/or stay human in your fics ( not that I don’t love that cause I do). Considering how some people reacted to Nyara, I can see how Kenshin must be worried.

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    1. Believe it or not this draws off a question raised in a short story of Tarma and Kethry and never addressed in the Velgarth universe again, to my knowledge. (If you know the name Thalkarsh, you know what I’m talking about.) Youkai and hanyou were just a convenient way to bring up a subject already there!

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      1. I do remember Thalkarsh. I think the reason demons don’t show up more is part of the no magic gaes and that the Companions tend to keep a lot of spirit type nastiness out of Valdemar just by existing (which makes sense when you basically have hundreds of angels patrolling your country).

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      2. … what’s the first book in this series? Because at first I was intrigued; now you have my attention.

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      3. Depends on how you define “first book”. The first books written in the setting were the Heralds of Valdemar trilogy – Arrows of the Queen, Arrow’s Flight, and Arrow’s Fall. The Vows and Honor trilogy that has Tarma and Kethry in it (Oathbound, Oathbreakers, Oathblood) were written a bit later, but take place earlier in the timeline. They were also the first books in the setting I read.

        This Wikipedia entry should give you a decent idea.

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velgarth#Vows_and_Honor_Trilogy

        Liked by 1 person

      4. @ not seeing them everywhere- probably the same reason why you don’t see them everywhere in places like Forgotten Realms. People do actually have a modicum of sense _sometimes_ and when you have a few hideous messes someone’s bound to get wise. Even in places like Halruaa, where mages literally make up the bulk of the population, there’s not a lot of demons. Necromancers, sure, but no demon summoning.

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      5. It does remind me of the joke about Latin. “The reason Latin is a dead language is because they kept accidentally summoning demons whenever they went to have a conversation.” One would think actually experiencing that sort of mess a few times would make even unscrupulous mages look askance at any other unscrupulous mage who appears to be considering summoning demons.

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  4. Random RK Thought:

    Kenshin has to exercise a lot of control when he fights. Because he could kill with that sakabatou even without flipping it over to use the sharp edge.

    Because it is still a long length of steel. Hit someone hard enough or just in the wrong place or both and you could easily kill them.

    Heck, someone who knows what they are doing could do the same with a bokken. They are generally made out of good, solid hardwood. More than sturdy enough to inflict serious injury or death in the hands of an expert.

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