Through the Cracks ch1 bit – Facts

No excuses. Just the facts. “It happened so fast… Jin-e just clamped down, and I couldn’t MindHear or MindCall at all. I saw Megumi fall, and I couldn’t help her.” Kaoru suppressed a shiver. “It was like being wrapped in an iron blanket.”

:Kenshin pried me up off my side before he took off, or I’d have been one sorry horse,: Megumi said dryly, leaning against her Chosen so the warmth of white hide seeped through Kaoru’s embroidered tunic. :I know he’s stronger than he looks, but some of that had to be Fetching.:

“Fetches and magic-resistant.” Elspeth nodded slowly. “Interesting.”

“Begging your pardon, Herald,” Guard Chief Tostig nudged up his glasses as he walked into hearing range, “but Himura said what this bastard was using wasn’t all magic. Shin-something-”

“Shin no Ippou,” Kaoru nodded. “One side of the soul.” She gave Tostig a smile, relieved to see the man she usually worked with handling Yamato-related problems in Haven. His short dark hair was unruly, his blue uniform less than pressed neat, and he looked worn at the edges, but he was in one piece. Gods, I wish I’d been there that night. But Tani doesn’t trust Heralds, Sanosuke said he’d go with Kenshin, and….

“Sessha has a suspicion, that I do,” Kenshin’s voice echoed out of memory. “If this one is correct – one who hears with the mind would be doubly vulnerable, Kaoru-dono. Sessha cannot Hear or Call, and Sanosuke lives as a mind alone. But you and Megumi, you are two woven together. Please. Stay here and wait for me.”

Kenshin’s smile had never changed, still that quiet, rurouni smile that seemed to say anything while it hid everything. But there had been a shadow in his eyes.

A shadow that had clenched at her heart, when a bloodied Sanosuke came back to her dojo to say Kenshin wasn’t coming back. A shadow that had driven her to the river where Kenshin was trying to lay a trap for Jin-e, only to find herself trapped instead.

He promised. He still has your ribbon. He promised he’d bring it back!

But… if Jin-e pushed him too far… if what he did makes him feel so guilty that he can’t stay, that he has to go wandering again….

Then I’ll just have to track him down, thump him with my bokken, and tie him up until Megumi and I can make him see sense, Kaoru thought fiercely. And the quickest way to do that is to get this mess straightened out. “Some kind of coercive Gift,” she finished. “Only so strong. I’ve never felt anything that strong.”

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16 thoughts on “Through the Cracks ch1 bit – Facts

  1. Since Kenshin is made of stubborn, it serves him right to have to deal with someone else who is made of stubborn.

    Methinks Tani doesn’t trust Heralds for reason having to do with less than above board. Or he just thinks Companions are unnatural (because even people raised in Valdemar sometimes react that way to Companions).

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Decent chance Kenshin is a veteran of a war in this Yamato place that involved some very ugly forces. Further decent chance that Tani saw some of those on the battlefield, and that Yamato war veterans are mostly not telling the Heralds everything about what happened.

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      1. Kenshin definitely is, Tani knows exactly who he is – and yes, Yamagata’s people are keeping quiet like their lives depend on it. Given what they know about Heralds so far, they do.

        Thankfully Kerowyn has enough suspicions to start thinking that keeping Elspeth and Kenshin away from each other might be a very good idea.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. . . . So, I’m guessing part of the reason for the Jump is that here the Isshin Shishi did /not/ win the Bakumatsu? Because it’d explain the odd population of Yamatoans living in Valdemar’s borders.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. They won, but things happened afterward that went very, very badly for them.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satsuma_Rebellion

      That’s what happened historically, and got crushed.

      However, in 1876, there was an abortive rebellion against the Meiji government that Saigo Takamori almost got involved in. He wrote that he would have joined them, except that they started their fight about a month too early. If they’d struck on the Emperor’s birthday instead, Saigo felt that there would have been mass uprisings all over Japan and he would have launched himself and his followers into the fray. Given the personal charisma and resources the man could bring to bear, that would have made a significant difference.

      In actual history, the leaders of that rebellion consulted an oracle before they went forward. Translate that to the world of Velgarth, where there are actual oracles who can ForeSee the future, and they might well have waited until the Emperor’s birthday.

      And that would have caused a very big ripple indeed….

      Liked by 1 person

      1. No kidding.

        And give Kenshin more than enough reason to find somewhere else to live. Anywhere else. Because Satsuma is unlikely to want that particular assassin running around and Kenshin knows perfectly well that the odds automatically favor them because he has to survive every attempt, they only need to suceed once.

        Also might give him reason to stir clear of old comrades because some of them probably pin their reasons for losing the Satsuma Rebellion firmly on his shoulders. Because that is after the Battle of Toba-Fushimi and thus after Kenshin had left the Ishin-Shishi.

        Jeez, with so many people gunning for him, Kenshin was probably even skinnier and threadbare when Kaoru met him in this universe than he was in canon.

        Liked by 2 people

      2. Also neatly explains why Kaoru is with this group. Her dad canonically died suppressing that rebellion, I imagine the lone daughter of a dead warrior on the losing side wouldn’t be very well treated after everything was cleared up.

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      3. Hahahaha…

        I think Meiji helped set the stage for WWII Japan. (As in the institutions adopted built the foundation.) The Tokugawa shogunate was none too nice a regime. (Except compared to Japan’s state just prior to Sekigahara.) So I’ve got to wonder what Yamato’s new regime might be like.

        What is the cognate to western influences? I know some Japanese artists have used western influence as a source of demons, especially in the case of Oda Nobunaga. My speculation runs down certain lanes.

        Interesting potential for Aoshi and for Saito.

        Could Megumi and Sanosuke have died in the fighting in Yamato, and somehow ended up Heralds?

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  3. …Huh. Going back through these snippets (searching for something I thought might be – or more correctly I’m pretty sure /isn’t/ – mentioned in one of them) and something caught my eye.

    Kaoru here speculates that Shin-no-Ippo is some kind of Gift. I’ve mentioned my distinct /lack/ of knowledge about Valdemar canon often enough now that I’m probably beating a dead horse-shaped being, so I’ll try not to retread that point too much here. My understanding is that Gifts are effectively inherent. A little magical trick or tricks you’re born with, you can train them, and certain things – being chosen by and bonding with a Companion, for instance – can increase their potency or activate previously dormant Gifts in an individual, but you’ve got ’em or you don’t.

    Now, /maybe/ you’re translating something to the setting, or /maybe/ Kaoru’s right and it’s a very unique application of MindSpeech – something like what weaponized killing intent from Naruto (among others) or Spiritual Pressure from Bleach is. But Kenshin /has a theory/. It’s something he’s heard of and/or encountered before. It’s possible it is a unique Gift and Kenshin just remembers it from fighting Jin-E in the Bakumatsu, the same way he did in canon, but to me this makes it sound like it’s a specific rare /technique/.

    If it’s a technique then it can be taught, meaning even if the basis is a Gift then the Shin-no-Ippo itself /isn’t/ a Gift, at best it’s a unique application of a Gift. And Kaoru says she’s never felt any coercion that strong.

    I… may be reaching here, but… Most places have/rely on mages for their… magical-stuff. Valdemar didn’t for a very long time because they had no mages. They relied on Gifts instead, but they also made up the difference in capability between the Gifted and mages by having their Gifted forces bolstered through their Companions. Yamato, you mention elsewhere /also/ doesn’t have mages… mostly… But Yamato does have plenty of Gifted (and I’m starting to suspect that means Samurai/Yokai heritage, if those two are even separate things here) but nothing to bolster it… except training in various techniques and schools.

    What if… What I’m starting to suspect… When it comes to Valdemar v Yamato, it may be a contest of Power v Technique. Valdemar’s Heralds have more raw Companion-based power to throw behind their mystical Gifts – /and/ they now have Herald-Mages – but Yamatoans have completely unheard of and deadly applications of those Gifts they have. A Herald may be able to out-power any Samurai or Hitokiri (which I’m starting to suspect simply means Samurai Blood Mage) – as long as said Samurai’s Yokai heritage isn’t too strong – but that Samurai will probably respond by attacking in a way or from an angle the Herald didn’t even know they could be attacked /from/.

    Now… I’m starting to get worried.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Shin no Ippou is indeed a technique. As Kenshin puts it in canon, it’s a battle of wills.

      And yes. Yes, this may be my way of poking “you know, for people who have used psychic gifts for over two thousand years, where the heck is your training beyond the basics?”

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I was thinking about this earlier, and an absolutely horrifying thought occurred to me:

        Shishio’s a Firestarter, isn’t he?

        Even /I/ knew about Lavan Firestarter before this, and I knew /next to nothing/ about Velgarth.

        Shishio… is scary. /Very/ scary. And was brought up in an environment where he would receive /training/ for that Gift of his. And has none of Lavan’s empathy. I am suddenly very terrified.

        The one thing I can’t work out/translate is how his sword figures into it. In canon his fire-blade trick only worked because Arai /made/ that sword, and further – made it to do just that. Here…

        Oh. Oh dear.

        Inuyasha is /canon/. And Inuyasha is /full/ of crazy-awesome magic swords with superpowers tied to their bearers… Actually, while it probably requires crazy Youkai ingredients and a Gifted swordsmith, forging magic blades is probably totally a known /thing/ in Yamato. And unlike elsewhere in Velgarth, ones meant to amplify the Gifts of their wielders… or maybe aid in /controlling/ said gifts in the Sakabatou’s case.

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