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.”