Kyuuzou drifted about in a haze, bloody hands caressing him, provoking him, soothing him, terrifying him. When he finally managed to be in command of his senses, he snarled and swatted the sensation away, ignoring the blood all over his body, and found the swords that never left his side in life in his hands still, even in death. After a few minutes of concentrated attacking of that which tried to bind his senses and body, he got it to back off, leaving him in a pool of silence and waiting.
'So this is Death, huh?' he thought, looking around. It wasn't so different from what his life had been. Just a lot of darkness, blood, anger, sadness and loneliness drifting about him. He had expected more. He touched his chest, which was aching, and came away with his blood thick on his hands. He looked down and saw the wounds that katsushiro had caused. His left hand curled into a fist, and the blood that had been in it came squishing out the sides.
'That brat' he hissed to the darkness. He hadn't felt this strong a bloodlust in a very long time,and frankly, would have enjoyed the sensation had he been alive to follow through on it. Had he been alive, he knew exactly what he'd do to Katsushiro. He'd strangle him within an inch of his life after cutting off both his hands. He'd let him recover enough to attempt to feebly fight back, and then slowly dismember him, starting with his ankles, then calves, then thighs, leaving on his torso and arms. He'd then slice off his forearms, then upperarms, leaving him with only a head and a torso, quickly fading from bloodloss. He'd then sit there and watch him as he slowly bled to death. He'd probably tear out his vocal chords just to make sure he didn't have to listen to him whine and whimper. And when the last bit of life within him was flickering out, he'd find a gun and blow Katsushiro's brains out.
That would make him feel much, much better.
The image, however, only made the bloodlust worse. Trying to find something to think about besides how much he desperately needed to kill Katsushiro, his mind turned elsewhere.
And settled directly on Kanbei.
The emotions in Kyuuzou that his image provoked were radically different, but built up another kind of lust within him. He twitched and slashed out instinctively, and he heard with satisfaction the dying cry of something.
Yes, that would do quite nicely. If this was Death, he was certain there were many desperate, angry, dreary souls waiting around, tormented by their guilt. They had nowhere else to go, and he had all the time in eternity. It would help appease his bloodlust to kill...a few...maybe.
He slashed his way out of the little bubble he was trapped in, and when he finally came up out of the blood he left in his wake, he looked around, and was mildly surprised. He was floating in a black emptiness, but all around him were bubbles, some large, some small. He looked inside a few, and saw both private and collective torment.
'It appears it depends on your beliefs, as to what you experience.'
Some bubbles were dark, some light, some clear. In each one were souls experiencing what they considered to be the afterlife.
'I guess I'm too stubborn to stay where I was supposed to be.'
As he walked on nothing, a tendril of darkness snaked around his left leg, and he quickly cut it, stepping back. all around him the darkness seemed to focus on him, and he fell into a guard stance. Fine. If he couldn't kill people, he'd fight against a darkness that seemed intent on smothering him.
Since he was dead, he couldn't get tired, but neither could that which wanted him silenced. He wasn't sure how long he fought; it could have been an eternity, it could have been a second. Either way, his determination to remain active and awake didn't falter. He wouldn't bow under pressure.
suddenly, rust-red runes and patterns began to flow across his body, starting from his feet and hands. He was startled, but the only thing that showed it was his eyes. The pain that hit him as the writing dug into the fabric of his being made him dizzy and falter. The darkness caught him and chained him to the ground, but he stubbornly held onto his swords. He let out a scream of rage and pain when the writing worked its way onto his torso, and his mind rebelled. His body acted instinctively, and he thrashed against the bonds that held him, and he cut the ties with his swords, and stood on shaky feet even as the writing worked its way to his heart and head.
'WHAT IS THE MEANING OF THIS!' he yelled into the abyss, and only felt cool,detached amusement meet his demand. He writhed in pain, agony deepening on agony, building into a wave that broke on him as the writing penetrated his heart and mind.
Since you desire to live strongly and feel strongly enough to break the bonds of your prison, I will give you what you desire. But you are not free, Kyuuzou. Your body is mine, your mind is mine, and your soul is mine.
As if to emphasize the point, a spear of white-hot pain ran through his body, making him shudder.
I will allow you to find the two you desire, but in allowing you to do so, you will do my bidding.
'I do not wish to serve anyone ever again!' Kyuuzou snarled.
Kyuuzou whimpered as the world spiraled around him and into him, throwing off his sense of coordination and time, and left him feeling drained and, for the first time in his life, helpless even as he held his swords.
Outside of Kanna Village there is a hill with memorials to those who fell in the battle against the Nobuseri. The most prominent ones, however, are situated overlooking a cliff. On top of each mound were swords, marking that those who had fallen had been samurai. In the grey twilight muted by fog, two crossed swords began to hum, shivering as if alive as they caught what little light there was and absorbed it. The humming became slowly stronger, until it ascended into a range outside human hearing, and then when it appeared the swords would fall apart from how hard they were shaking, they abruptly disappeared.
Now all that was left was a grave without a marker for the body beneath it.