Chapter 4, December 1867
Again, from the game: With the new year just around the corner, the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance formed an army and marched on the capital. In response, the Shinsengumi moved to the Fushimi magistrate’s office and began to prepare for war.
Someone has attacked Kondou. Kaika brings tea for the captains. Apparently, the Satsuma-Choshu Alliance wants power in the court as well as the shogunate’s assets and holdings. Shinpachi deduces that they want to start a war, and that they should prepare for it. Toshi agrees. He waits for input from others. Shimada states that Sanan has been trying to augment the Fury Corps. Harada is against using them because they’re too hard to control in a war. Shinpachi comments that it’s inhumane to use them too, and Saito tells him to offer better suggestions. Shinpachi shoots back that they’re still coming up with other methods, and that if it was such an easy matter to solve, they wouldn’t be in this mess.
Shimada asks for Toshi’s opinion. Toshi tells him that he’ll think about it, first surveying the actions of the alliance and then hearing the wishes of the shogunate.
Kaika decides to go visit Okita after not being able to fall asleep that night. She finds out Heisuke has also come to visit. Heisuke makes jokes about Kaika visiting a man’s room at night, but Okita doesn’t seem amused. He asks why they’re there, and Kaika asks them if they have heard about Sanan trying to augment the Fury Corps. They both affirm that they have, and discuss about how Sanan thought that without more men in the Fury Corps, they would lose, and how ultimately, it was Toshi’s decision whether or not to use them. Okita personally wants to get vengeance for Kondou and curses his ill body. Kaika notes that using the Fury Corps would give them an advantage in battle, but after the war, they might be disposed of.
Princess Sen and Kimigiku comes to visit Kaika. They ask to see Kondou, but he isn’t in the shape to see anyone, so Kaika proposes for them to see Toshi instead. They agree. Sen and Kimigiku ask Toshi how long they are going to use furies and tell them that they are a failed experiment. Toshi tells them that they have continued researching the Water of Life, and that it isn’t their place to judge them. Kimigiku then tells him that the furies have been murdering people in the streets to test out their strenght. Toshi is taken aback by this news. Toshi asks for the source, and Kimigiku tells him that she has no reason to divulge it, but that it was reliable. She suggests for him to disband the Fury Corps. Kaika thinks of what may happen to Sanan and Heisuke if that were to happen. There is silence.
Sen breaks the silence, but suggesting to postpone their talk of this, and asks Kaika to leave with them again. Sen states that there is a war about to start, and the Shinsengumi won’t be able to protect her once it does. Hijikata is upset with this statement, but Sen backs up her argument by asking him if he could protect her from Chikage if he came while he was in battle with the Satsuma and Choshu. Toshi couldn’t give a reply. Sen then appeals to Kaika by saying that if she leaves, then the Shinsengumi could fight their battles without any distractions. Kaika knows this is true, but still wants to stay. She looks over at Toshi for an answer, but he looks away.
I have to leave
I should leave
I should leave
(What the hell is this?!!! Is this because I don’t have enough love points with Toshi?!!! Argh!)
Kaika thinks that she should leave, but she does not want to. She hoped to live as a human after the war, and doesn’t respond when Sen asks her for her decision again. Hijikata senses her feelings and says, “…You don’t want to leave, do you?”This is more of a statement, rather than a question. “Then stay. What’s there to think about.” He gives Kaika a warm smile.
(Gives love points for Toshizo Hijikata)
(Ah, I see now- the choices were actually quite different despite them seeming the same- I should probably not jump to conclusions next time.)
Kaika asks if he’s sure that it’s ok. He responds, “I’m not going to repeat myself. …Or are you suggesting the Shinsengumi can’t handle this?” Toshi reassures her that she can stay, and that if she was as much of a pain in the ass as she seemed to think she was, he would have kicked her out a long time ago.
Before Sen leaves, she talks to Kaika again. She asks if the man Kaika was interested in was Toshi. Kaika has difficulty explaining her feelings, but tells Sen that although Toshi seems cold, she feels that he has a heart, but cannot show it because the fate of the Shinsengumi lies on his shoulders. She says that she wants to do whatever she can to help him.
Sen laughs and remarks that Toshi has captured her quite thoroughly. She then says that her ancestor, Suzuka Gozen, fell in love with a human named Tamuramaro Sakanoue and followed him to the capital. She was their granddaughter- so she knew a bit about how Kaika felt, claiming that circumstance and rank had nothing to do with love. Kaika gets flustered once she mentions love, but Sen calms her and tells her that she is cheering her on. She bids farewell and asks her to be careful, esp. since Chikage was very dangerous.
Kaika wonders if her feeling of wanting to be near Toshi was indeed love. She then thinks that to Toshi, the most important thing to him right now was the Shinsengumi, so she would need to think of how to put her skills to use.
Okita’s illness worsened to the point he couldn’t hide that he had tuberculosis anymore.
Kaika and some other men, including Inoue, are on their way to Yodo Castle to bring reinforcements, under Toshi’s orders. Inoue mentions that they must bring back reinforcements, and that he doesn’t want to see Toshi like he was that day.
3rd day of the new year. The Fushimi Magistrate, the Shinsengumi’s new headquarters, are attacked and a cannon is shooting at the building. Saito notes that they have incredibly long-range rifles and skilled gunners (fifty percent of their shots hit, despite the long range). Shinpachi tries to attack the enemy line, but is pushed back. Toshi, alarmed by the rifle shots outside, thought Shinpachi died, and had went pale. Suddenly smoke starts to rise and it is apparent that the cannon had set the building on fire- Harada urges Toshi for a retreat.
Toshi: “…I guess this is the end. Nobody can win a war with swords and spears anymore.” He calls for a retreat.
// End Flashback//
Inoue remarks that it was incredibly hard for Toshi to call a retreat, and that one defeat was enough. He then remarks that even though he’s not as good a swordsman as Kondou, he had his own ways of helping out. Kaika is resolved to help out as well.
Yodo Castle is strangely quiet. Inoue announces that they are looking for help to crush the rebels. Yodo Castle responds with bullets. They are no longer allies. Inoue decides to retreat with Kaika to help protect her from harm. This makes Kaika feel useless.
After they get to a safe place, Kaika weeps about how useless she is. Kaika likens Inoue to her father after he tries to calm her. They go to find the soldiers they left behind, and find that they’re all dead. And Chikage is standing in the middle of where all the corpses lay. (T___T That bastard….) Apparently, Chikage had gone to talk to those in Yodo Castle, and seeing Kaika, decided to play with the soldiers before she came back. Both Kaika and Inoue are furious- Inoue especially, because most of the men killed were from his division (the sixth division). Kaika, looking at the situation, knows that they can neither retreat nor defeat Chikage nor hold him back. Kaika is about to turn herself in when Inoue tells her to stay back. He puts himself between her and Chikage and tells her to run for it, and tell Toshi that he apologizes for his incompetence and that he hopes that Toshi will forgive him for not staying with him to the end. “Tell him that I don’t have the words to thank him for giving a man like me the chance to be a part of something. I’ll never forget what he did for me.” Kaika fights back tears as she pleads with Inoue to let her go with Chikage so he won’t have to die. Inoue tells her that he won’t use a woman as a shield to escape and that no father wants their daughter to die before them.
Chikage kills Inoue, and even though Kaika’s instincts are to run, she goes to hold Inoue’s hand as he passes away.
Chikage steps forward to take her hand.
Kaika grabs her kodachi and points it towards Chikage. He taunts her and tells her that her time with humans must have poisoned her and that Inoue’s death was inevitable when he challenged a demon. Kaika yells at him to shut up, and feels a strong desire to kill him. And if she were able to transform her wrath into strength she would have been the strongest creature alive. She runs towards Chikage and he slaps her strike aside. Her kodachi falls out of her hands and as she goes to reach of it again, Kazama stomps on her arm. Chikage notes that perhaps he should punish her so that she would never defy him again. “Pain is an excellent tool for discipline. Fortunately your body heals very quickly” Kaika curses. “Damn you!” She realizes she can’t escape, but at the very least she could refuse to give him the satisfaction of a compliant victim. “If all you’re going to do is use me however you like, then I might as well bite off my own tongue and drown in my own blood!”
???: “Don’t remember giving you permission to do that. And I don’t much care for people who can’t follow orders.”
It was Toshi (or Hijikata, as Kaika refers to him in the game). He sees Inoue’s body, and is shaken by grief and regret, seemingly on the verge of tears. Kaika gives Toshi Inoue’s final words, although she knows this will pain him. Game words (I find them to be too beautiful to rephrase and summarize, so here they are): Slowly, almost as if in prayer, he bowed his head. When he lifted it again, his eyes were changed; they shone now with the brilliant fires of rage. (Again, I am reminded of why I fell in love so deeply with this man… I fell initially for his looks, but once I found out how compassionate he was, although seeming like a Demon on the outside, and how he is able to turn his grief into rage, his sorrow into strength, how he puts duty, pride, and honor, but most of all the well-being of the Shinsengumi before his feelings- I fell completely and utterly in love. For two years and counting already… I’ve been waiting a long time for you, Toshi…^___^)
Toshi prepares to attack Chikage. …the game words are amazing at this moment, so I’ll be transcribing them instead at this point.
Chikage: “Another human who wishes to throw his life away? It is difficult for me to understand why your kind is so anxious to die.
Chikage: “I was hoping I’d seen the last of this idiocy. Very well. Let’s get this over with.”
Kazama’s voice was bored, but as he spoke the fire in Hijikata’s eyes grew into a raging furnace.
Toshi: “‘Throw his life away,’ you piece of shit?!”
(…damn, I love you…)
Toshi: “How dare you say he threw his life away!”
(…I love you even more…>___<)
Hijikata roared in wordless fury and launched himself toward Kazama. (I’ve been using first names up to this point, but Hijikata = Toshi, Kazama = Chikage )
With all of his weight behind the blade, he struck at the demon’s neck.
Chikage: “Nn!” (Chikage looks rattled at the moment)
Kazama flicked his sword up to catch Hijikata’s. For a moment, it looked as though they were evenly matched- And then Kazama was thrown back!
From the look on his face, it was likely the first time he’s ever found himself overpowered by a human, and he was stunned. Hijikata didn’t let that opening go to waste. He pushed forward, his sword hissing back and forth through the air if possessed.
Just moments ago Kazama’s face had been calm and serene- now it was warped with frustration and surprise. Hijikata, by contrast, wore a manic grin and his blade slammed again and again into Kazama’s with more strength than I’d ever seen before.
(Just have to say… DAMN… the writers for Hakuouki are SKILLED. The words are like poetry and they’re also able to add in a really damn good storyline mixed really well with the actual history of the Shinsengumi… I’m really impressed…maybe I haven’t read a decent read in a long time, but this is definitely a work of art so far.)
Chikage: “Be honored, mortal. The moment your eyes behold a true demon is the moment of your death.”
And with that, the battle changed.
Kazama’s sword hummed and flickered through the air with ease, far faster and smoother than it had been a minute before. It was all Hijikata could do to anticipate and block his strikes, leaving him no time to try and land an offensive blow on his own.
Chikage: “Where’s the fire you had a moment ago?! Is this the most you can muster for the dead insect?”
Kazama’s demonic strength and endurance were beginning to show: He wasn’t even breathing hard.
Hijikata, however, was quickly running short of breath. All Kazama had to do was wait for him to tire, and…
He threw his full strength behind his sword, and lunged at Kazama one more time. The demon anticipated his blow easily, and twisted to the side as Hijikata’s blade swept past him.
Kazama’s hand snapped out and Hijikata’s sword fell, clattering, to the ground.
In my mind’s eye, I could already see him, crumpling to the dirt, just as Inoue had done. A slow puddle of blood growing under his still-warm body… I had to do something! I couldn’t let him die too! … But I was utterly and completely helpless. Useless.
Toshi: “…” (he’s coughing and wheezing right now… :()
He fell to his knees, his chest heaving. Sweat rolled down his forehead in streams, and the cloth of his shirt was soaked. Kazama lifted his sword and pointed it at Hijikata.
Chikage: “…This is the end for you.” His mouth curved up into a cold, confident smile. “Humans are such fools. They will try to fight what they know they cannot defeat. I call that recklessness, not courage.” “You have underestimated the power of a demon, and chosen not to fear us. I hope your last thoughts are of shame at your ignorance.”
As Kazama spoke, Hijikata dragged his tired body across the ground, toward his fallen sword.
Chikage: “What’s this? Trying to run?”
Hijikata had reached his sword. With the last ounce of strength he possessed, he lifted it up once again and turned to face his foe. (….again, I fall in love one more time…haha…)
Chikage: “…You won’t bow, will you? I’ve made a fool of you, and yet you refuse to acknowledge the difference between us.” …No. Hijikata was not the sort of man to care about a difference in strength, but neither was he the sort of man that would simply abandon victory. So why, then, had he not responded? As I watched, he pulled out something from inside his shirt.
A tiny bottle filled with red liquid.
Chikage: “The Water of Life, eh? How far do you mean to take this idiocy?”
Hijikata replied with a toothy grin. “I’m an idiot, huh? Like I give a shit what you think. We were always a pack of idiots. We shared an idiot’s dream that we were all too bullheaded to give up on. And now, here we are. We’re halfway up the hill. If we stumble now, we’re gonna fall all the way back down.”
Chikage: “Even if you become a fury, you’ll be nothing more than a faded reflection of a true demon.”
Hijikata’s grin never wavered. “Well, you never know till you try.”
Kaika: “Hijikata, no!” My cries fell on deaf ears.Hijikata lifted the bottle to his lips and drank.
Hijikata: “Shut up.” Hijikata’s voice rumbled out from the fury, dark and low, like approaching thunder. “I’ve had enough of those fucking cowards in the shogunate and I’m sick of you goddamn demons. So I’m not a real demon? Why the hell should I care? Never once in my whole stinking life have they treated me like a real warrior.”
His eyes burned with anger. “But hell… Where are you supposed to find a real warrior these days? Lotta men callin’ themselves ‘samurai’ when all they do is sit behind ten feet of stone in a castle and get fat. Only thing those sons of bitches care about is making sure the side they buddy up to is the side that’s gonna win. We’re better soldiers than any of those bastards!”
Hijikata’s words weren’t just for Kazama anymore. They were for Inoue, who had died in a fight he couldn’t win…For the shogunate and the counselors, who didn’t have the courage to make difficult decisions; and for everyone who had ever refused to treat the Shinsengumi as true warriors.
Hijikata: “I believe what I believe. Nothing can change that. And I will never, ever, retreat. That’s what brought us this far. Call us fake if you want, but if we push hard enough and don’t give up, eventually we become what we say we are. If I can defeat you now, as a fury, then I-no then we- can become real demons. Right?”
The predatory grin on Hijikata’s face wasn’t human. When he leapt at Kazama, he moved so fast that I could barely even see him. He’d been impressive as a human, but as a fury.. he was beyond belief.
Chikage: “Gah!” Kazama smashed aside the first attack but a second followed it almost immediately, and then a third. Blow after blow crashed against his defenses, giving him no time to even breathe.
Hijikata: “C’mon! That all you’ve got! I thought we were just ants for you to crush! Where’s your smart mouth now, demon?!”
Hijikata’s eye flashed, like a great beast closing in on its prey, and he lunged at Kazama.
Chikage: “Hnng!” With an effort, he managed to swing his blade up in time to catch HIjikata’s but he’d lost the advantage of casually superior strength. “Gaaaah!” His sword rebounded from Hijikata’s strike, and Kazama was forced back. Hijikata leapt for the opening.
*Blood splatter sounds and a flash of steel* Hijikata’s sword moved too fast for the eye to see: A line of blood simply appeared on Kazama’s face. He clapped a hand to it in surprise and pain, and jumped backward, trying to put space between them.
Hijikata: “Ah ha ha ha… Great. Looks like you’re finally getting into it. You look like a man now. How’s it feel to get cut by a fake?!”
Kazama didn’t even seem to hear HIjikata’s words- he simply stared, eyes wide at the blood that fell from his face to pool in his hand. Even as I watched, his wounds closed themselves. The stream of blood slowed to a trickle and then stopped. “Damn you!” Though the wound itself had disappeared, it seemed the ramifications had not. “How dare you! False demon! Insect! Scum!”
It must have been the first time he’d ever been wounded by a human. Kazama’s preternaturally calm face was distorted now by rage and disgust. It was the first time I had ever seen him truly look like a demon.
Chikage: “I will never forgive you for this! I will torture you until you beg for death! You will learn what it truly means to feel pain!”
Hijikata: “Gaaaah!”Kazama had been strong before, but now his blows landed with all the strength of a cannon. Veins stood out on Hijikata’s neck and forehead as he strained against the onslaught.
Chikage: “Damn you! You are nothing! Not even a shadow of a demon! How dare you draw my blood!” Kazama had gone mad with rage, his golden eyes wide and bloodshot.
Hijikata: “Bastard!”Every time their swords met, I could see Hijikata’s chip and shake. It looked as if the next blow could break it in two. Hijikata tried desperately to block with the back of the blade, and protect it from more damage, but Kazama’s strikes were too quick and too powerful. Hatred rolled off of them in waves. Neither of them would be satisfied with simply killing the other. “I’ll never forgive you, you arrogant son of a bitch! You’re going to hell even if I gotta drag you there myself!”
His clothes were soaked with blood, but eyes alight with vigor and determination shone out from beneath his white hair.
Chikage: “Ha! Go to hell if you like, but you’ll be going alone!”
They leapt at each other like enraged animals, blows flying so quickly that they could only defend or attack on instinct. It was clear that the battle would only end when one of them was dead, but it was rapidly becoming clear that Hijikata was fighting in a way that put him at a disadvantage. Back home, he’d always been so calm, even in the heat of battle, but cool detachment had fled with his humanity.” I had to stop them. If I didn’t, Hijikata would die, but awe and terror at their display of violence and skill had sealed my voice in my throat. Even though I was a demon, just like Kazama, I was helpless. It was maddening.
Ok, time for the story transcription to end. Summarizing again.
Yamazaki asks Kaika if she’s seen the commander. She tries to explain what’s happened, but things come out in a jumble. He sees a fury engaged in combat- he recognizes the clothes- Kaika confirms his suspicions by telling him that it’s Toshi (:P I could say Hijikata, but Toshi’s his pet name, so I’d rather call him that at the moment. Plus, it’s shorter to type, >3>;;)Toshi’s sword is knocked away. He is about to be done away with by Chikage when Yamazaki suddenly jumps in and takes the blow for him. Yamazaki asks Toshi why is he fighting the enemy alone and that the men are his arms and legs while he is the brain of the Shinsengumi. You can replace the arms and legs, but without the head, the organization is dead. Kondou and Toshi make one whole. Hijikata’s hair turns back to original color, and Kaika watches as he struggles to blink back tears. Shinpachi’s yelling voice indicates that he’s not far away either. Chikage wants to finish off Toshi now, but Amagiri gets in the way, telling him to stop, and that further battles would only result in unnecessary casualties. Apparently, the Satsuma does not want the shogunate to fall by the hand of a demon, but by a human. Chikage vows never to forget Hijikata’s (I’m saying Hijikata here because that’s what Chikage calls him) name and that he’ll have his revenge. Toshi makes a death vow of his own to Chikage.
Shinpachi and Harada try to inquire for details of what happened, but Toshi tells them to attend to Yamazaki, who’s still alive at this moment. Kaika helps out with the first aid. Saito inquires what happened as well. Toshi doesn’t seem to hear him and instead is muttering about how he never though that he’d sacrifice his own men to survive. He then asks Saito to help him bury the soldiers and Inoue. He jokes that it gets cold this time of year so they can’t let them freeze. Kaika knows that although he wanted to break down and cry more than any of them, he struggled to grin and joke in front of his own men. (……*sigh*…..I wonder if I can comfort him somehow… I hope I can…)
Kaika breaks down but cries in her hands so no one can see. Inoue died protecting her, Toshi became a fury to fight the demon who was chasing after her, and Yamazaki might die from protecting Toshi. She wonders how she might atone for her sins.
The Fury Corps, which seemed to have an advantage because it was hard to aim pistols once night fell, were overwhelmed, and the Shinsengumi’s allies crumbled. With the betrayal of the Yodo and Tsu Domains, and the refusal of the Owari Domain to become involved in any way, the Shinsengumi was alone. With their allies gone and enemies everywhere, they had no choice but to retreat to Osaka Castle.
Shinpachi and Harada go take Yamazaki to go see Doctor Ryojun (Matsumoto). Hijikata is still around in the daylight even though he is now a fury. Kaika asks if he underwent any changes yet- he tells her hasn’t, but he won’t be able to look at sunlight anymore later, so he might as well enjoy it now. He tells her that he’s the one who decided to drink the Water of Life, so she shouldn’t worry about it too much. Toshi seems pleased that they were able to stay in the castle, since it’s impregnable.
However, his excitement is put to a halt when Shimada tells him that they’ve been ordered to go back to Edo. Yoshinobu Tokugawa has already boarded a ship for Edo so there is little point in remaining in Kyoto. Toshi’s infuriated because Tokugawa had run away to save his own ass while his armies put their lives on the line for him. He muttered that it was fine, and that they weren’t fighting solely for Tokugawa in the first place, and that at the least they had the Denshu Company, an elite force trained in western tactics by French military instructors, and a few warships bought from the foreigners.