Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin belongs to someone else. I'm borrowing it solely for my own entertainment. I promise to return everyone mostly unscathed.
This teaser does contain spoilers for some of the anime series. Mostly the OAV's. I haven't actually read the manga, so I'm ignoring anything that happens there as something I know nothing about.
Kenshin: But when the new era arrives...
Katura: You will throw away the sword?
Kenshin: I do not know. But when that time comes, I will never kill anyone again. Never again.
Rurouni Kenshin, OAV 4
All that existed was darkness. There was nothing else; no sound, no memory. Nothing but the all-encompassing darkness of thought and feeling, so much more than just a mere lack of sight. Slowly, painfully slowly, the edges of the darkness began to recede, allowing the merest tendrils of thought to reform and kindle the inviolate sense of self.
The darkness became a thing, an enemy. The darkness was wrong, strangely out of place. He knew that, but the knowledge seemed to come from somewhere else: obtainable, but without urgency or logic. That was all right. Patience was the key. Until the answers revealed themselves, there could be no action.
He lay quietly, letting his returning consciousness slowly erode the remaining blankness. With his memory came feelings. Urgency and concern began to take hold, rising in a wave that swiftly banished the remaining fog. The darkness was wrong because there should be light. It was the middle of the afternoon, wasn't it?
All right, good. That explained the problem, but it didn't explain the complete lack of light. Maybe it was later than he thought. He could have fallen asleep down by the river. That wasn't like him, not at all, but he had been fighting more than usual recently and he wasn't getting any younger. Exhaustion could sometimes make even the best fighter careless. There was a reason one didn't see many old samurai, especially rurouni samurai.
Good. The darkness seemed to be explainable. Nothing left to do but head home then, right? No problem.
Kenshin forced his way back up through the relentless darkness. There was still something missing, something he was supposed to do. Something at the dojo? No, something to do with a meeting…
Karou-dono was going to kill him.
The thought pushed him through the last restraining layers. Kenshin opened his eyes and sat bolt upright.
The harsh sound of his breathing suddenly ceased as a faint flickering light exploded through his vision with a thousand fragments of formless color. Every muscle in his body screamed in protest at the sudden movement. He squeezed his eyes shut and slid bonelessly back down to the floor, frantically trying to will the darkness away even through the layers of pain enveloping him.
He lay quietly on the floor for several minutes, trying to recover his equilibrium. The darkness no longer seemed quite so total behind his closed eyelids so logically there must be a source of light that had flared through eyes, but what other light would there be by the river? Something else was missing as well. Sound. If he was near the river, he should be able to hear the rush of quickly moving water. There was nothing but the broken sound of his own breathing.
He wasn't by the river at all.
Why did he seem to remember water? Fast cold water rushing over his clothes, taking the sting of blood away from numb hands and arms…
Taking a deep breath, Kenshin slowly opened his eyes. This time he was careful to make no accompanying sudden movements. His vision swam and the faint light once again exploded like painful shards into his skull, but the disorientation quickly receded. His vision wasn't swimming; the light was flickering. Candles or torchlight then instead of sunlight.
With slow exaggerated movements he once again pushed himself up to a sitting position. Turning only his head he began to search for the source of the light. There, to his right. A torch was guttering in a bracket on the stone wall. Kenshin blinked. Stone walls. He was surrounded by stone walls. That meant he was inside a building, but where?
He looked down towards the dirt floor, but something else caught his vision and chased all other thoughts temporarily away. His Sakaba sword was gripped so tightly in his right hand that the knuckles were white. Nothing unusual if he felt threatened. Waking up in an unfamiliar building counted as being threatened. No, the problem came from the sword itself. It was reversed, ready for a killing blow. Kenshin reached out one shaky hand to touch the sharp exposed edge of the blade. Bile rose in his throat as his fingers found something cool and sticky.
Never again, never going to kill again, neverneverneverNEVER!
He pushed himself to his feet, ignoring the pain, ignoring everything but the shrieking denial ringing through his head. He had to get away. He had to get away now. If he could kill, if everything he hoped to become was a desperate lie, everyone around him was in danger. Everyone. Karou-dono, Sanosuke, Yahiki, Suzume, Ayame…
The quiet voice stopped him. Gripping the reversed sword more tightly, Kenshin searched the flickering shadows. There, on the far side of the room. He blinked his eyes until the form came into focus. A young woman stood with her back pressed against the wall, one hand clutching at her chest. Her eyes were huge. He could see the whites showing around the pupil even from a distance.
"You are still the hotokiri. Once a killer, always a killer." Her voice was incredibly steady. Only her appearance gave away her fear.
Kenshin shook his head in denial, ignoring the tide of pain and nausea. There was something on the ground by her feet, something not moving. The something was vaguely human-shaped and was resting in a puddle of dark liquid that glinted with faint crimson highlights in the flickering light. Wild eyes darted from the puddle to his sword and back again.
No, not a killer, not the hotokiri battousei. NOT ANYMORE!
Logic was trying to reassert itself around the fear and rage. He knew that voice. Why did he know that voice?
A phantom stirred in the depths of long banished memories. "You really make it rain. A rain… of blood."
How could he ever forget that voice?
Not possible this isn't happening-
The question remained unanswered. Something connected with the back of his head and the world exploded in a rush of flickering light. Kenshin collapsed back to the dirt floor, reversed sword still tightly clenched in his right hand.