"It's gone fast, hasn't it?" Inoue remarked while he sat on the porch with Chizuru, enjoying the warm cup of tea she had brought him, while they watched the snow fall gently in the courtyard. "It's already more than a year since you and Miyagawa-san joined us, Yukimura-kun."
'Oh. It's been that long...' Chizuru thought, bowing her head slightly. 'So much has happened since we came to Kyoto looking for my father... But I still don't know where he is.'
"Thank you," Inoue said, snapping her out of her reverie.
"Huh?" Chizuru asked.
"Though a guest, you've been entrusted with many responsibilities," he said. "You've truly been a help, you and Miyagawa-san."
"I'm happy to have been of some use," Chizuru said humbly, blushing slightly after receiving such open praise.
"We expect our ranks to swell again. I think it would be best to look for a new headquarters fast," Kondo said, looking at the map of that had been laid out in the middle of the room.
"The men look like they've got it rough, sleeping together all in a huddle," Shinpachi said. Sumiko had already warned the men numerous times that the barracks would become a breeding ground for disease if they weren't careful about hygiene.
"But can you think of any place that might welcome us, the Shinsengumi?" Okita asked.
"Hmm..." Kondo said thoughtfully. "It would make things easier if we could..."
"Nishi Hongwanji Temple," Hijikata said firmly.
"Huh?" Kondo said as they glanced at him.
"Eh?" San'nan said, looking surprised.
While all the Shinsengumi members seemed to be staring at Hijikata like he'd just said something unreasonable, Itou had simply smiled, as if he approved.
"Nishi Hongwanji Temple is a hiding place for outlaw, rogue samurai such as the Choshu," San'nan reminded Hijikata. "I can't imagine they would simply accept us."
"None of that matters!" Hijikata replied austerely. "Up till now, Choshu has been using temples and priests as pretext to do what they want, right? If it comes to it, we will use force to make them consent."
"Don't you think it unseemly to use martial force to repress the actions of priests?" San'nan asked, concerned.
"Well, that's true," Shinpachi said hesitantly. "It may be as you said, San'nan-san."
"Toshi's opinion is sound, but San'nan-kun's thoughts make sense as well," Kondo said thoughtfully.
"Nishi Hongwanji. Is it not good?" Itou asked.
"?" Kondo said, glancing at him.
"I have done some research as well," Itou said, pulling out a folded piece of paper. He opened it up and set it out for the others to see. It was a written proposal to make Nishi Hongwanji their new headquarters. "It's location and conditions make it a ideal headquarters. As Hijikata-kun mentioned, making a temple our base will also let us clamp down on the Choshu."
"True, Choshu would lose one of their hiding places," Saito said.
"Well, I'm sure the priests won't be too happy, but being at Nishi Hongwanji would make it easy for us to move if we had to," Sano said.
"Yeah, but still..." Shinpachi said, not entirely convinced it was okay to use force against holy men.
"Hmm..." Kondo said thoughtfully, pondering everything that had just been said.
YOU ARE READING
Destiny. Fate. Sumiko never really believed in any of it until she met that man. Out of place and out of time, all Sumiko wanted to do was protect her friend Chizuru and help her find her missing father. But now things have gotten complicated...