Through the Cracks Ch 2 is up on AO3. And hands up, who feels sorry for Kero….
Silvered glass, Kenshin thought, ghosting over to tap one. “In Yamato, Kerowyn-dono, this would be an unacceptable hazard.”
“Really?” Kerowyn raised a blonde brow at him, tightening straps on her leather armor.
“Earthquakes.” Kenshin shuddered, all too able to picture shards of flying glass.
“Now those, I still find hard to believe,” Kerowyn admitted, picking up a weighted wooden sword. “I’ve felt the earth shake once or twice, and a few of my Skybolts have told me about places where that happens every year – but a land where the ground actually opens up and tries to swallow you? Without any mage behind it?” Aquamarine eyes narrowed at Kaoru. “And I thought you were going to make him bring armor.”
“According to my father, it can,” Kaoru nodded. “And… well… he did.”
Kenshin set down his travel bag, taking out the leather arm-guards Hiko had given him so many years before. He’d had to replace the outer, disguising layer of ordinary leather more than once, but the true armor beneath it, crafted of youkai dragon-hide, would likely last his lifetime.
“That’s it.” Kerowyn’s tone held frank disbelief.
Kenshin inclined his head.
“This one’s style does not lend itself well to armor, Kerowyn-dono. The less weight, the better.” He cinched the guards into place, feeling the hitokiri’s mindset rise closer to the surface. Sparring. We’re only sparring. “And these appear little different from the guards of arm and hand any peasant would wear to work the fields. Scythe to reap or sword to block; in Yamato, both peasant and samurai have need of shields against their own blades. If pressed, a lone warrior simply needed to abandon the blue haori of his uniform, and no Shogunate soldier could be certain they had snared one of Choshu.”
“So you’re a skirmisher first. Good to know,” Kerowyn murmured. Shrugged her shoulders. “Well, when you walk away from this with bruises, don’t come crying to me.”