August, 1883

Kamiya Dojo

On a cloudy August day, 16-year-old Myojin Yahiko approached the front gate of the Kamiya Dojo, the weight of the sheathed Sakabatou Shinuchi clunking against his left hip. He paused to adjust the sheath in his obi.

Yahiko had been wielding the Sakabatou for a year now. It wasn't as heavy as it once was and he'd come a long way with it under Kenshin's guidance. Today was to be a test of how he was coming along, an assessment of his skills. As Yahiko opened the gate, he looked up and saw Kenshin standing in the front yard, waiting for him. He had Kamiya Koshijiro's oak bokken at his side and his strange eyes were lit.

After a silent nod of greeting between them, Yahiko unsheathed the Sakabatou. The two men faced off, each sizing the other up. Yahiko knew he'd have to make the first move as Kenshin never initiated a spar. Kenshin stood ready, eyes concentrated straight ahead on the younger man.

In the last year, Yahiko had gained speed and strength. Perhaps this time, he'd be able to beat Kenshin. Suddenly he took off full blast. Everything was a blur. Yahiko felt more than saw what transpired between them. He heard and felt the distinct sound of steel connecting with wood. The pressure was intense.

It was over in a flash and flurry of movement. Yahiko turned and looked back at Kenshin. Yes! His hands were empty. Yahiko was the... wait a minute. Yahiko's hands were also empty. Yahiko followed Kenshin's gaze to the wall of the dojo where two swords lay in a perfect X on the ground in front of it. Well, it wasn't a total victory; Kenshin had still disarmed him, but Yahiko had at last connected and was able to disarm Kenshin. His swordsmanship had improved manifold in the past year.

Kenshin and Yahiko retrieved their respective swords. Smiling at the younger swordsman, Kenshin pulled out a jug of sake he had chilling in the well and two saucer. The two spent the next hour sitting side by side on the engawa, sipping sake. Never a word was spoken.