If Hyakkimaru thought regaining his other five senses was a somewhat frightening experience, then he definitely wasn’t prepared to get his sight back.
He had spent weeks at a time trying to adjust his mind to the new sounds he was hearing for the first time after slaying a demon. Almost immediately, his head was flooded with circumambient noises from the wind blowing through the trees, the birds chirping loudly in the distance, the sounds of the waters of the raging river nearby, and of course, the sound of a little kid constantly chattering away. About what? He wasn’t exactly sure himself, but damn was it overbearing on his senses.
Regaining his sense of touch, of course, was a learning experience as he couldn’t act with the same amount of carelessness as he had before. Fighting enemies and demons now have a whole different meaning when you can feel katana blades and heads of arrows pierce your skin.
The least stressful, in Hyakkimaru’s opinion, was the regaining of his senses of smell and taste. Hyakkimaru would try to experiment with different items he found along his journey, picking them and wafting the smell to his nose directly, sometimes for the better or worse of his new olfactory senses. However, one of his favorite things to smell were the small pink flowers that grew alongside the dirt trail he and Dororo trekked upon everyday. The native flowers smelled earthy, but in a sense, it calmed and relaxed him in these stressful times.
The last sense Hyakkimaru regains, however, is one he completely was not prepared for, nor did he expect it so soon. One early morning, Hyakkimaru leaves a sleeping Dororo with a matching sleeping old priest on the forest floor in search of some food in the nearby village. While walking towards the village, Hyakkimaru becomes shocked to encounter a demon so close to a populous civilization, but yet, he slays it with ease.
Suddenly, he feels his heart clench and the oxygen from his lungs quickly escapes him. He falls to the forest floor, clenching his fists onto his chests and breathes heavily as a peculiar, yet familiar, feeling overtakes him once more. The best way he knows how to cope with the bizarre feeling is to just firmly close his eyes until the sensation goes away. Although the ordeal only lasts a few minutes, it feels like hours to Hyakkimaru, but eventually, he does gather the courage and strength to open his eyes. Almost instantly, a blinding light shocks him back to reality.
’What the hell is that?’ Hyakkimaru thinks to himself, immediately closing his eyes shut once again. He briefly saw a deep blue color, but he couldn’t keep his eyes open much longer as the blinding sunlight entered his vision. He looks all around him, overwhelmed by all the various images gracing his sight. Before he had only seen the souls and energies of the things around him, but this was very, very different. In a way, he kind of missed seeing the deep greens, reds, yellows, and whites of the various organic matter around him. Sight, in combination with his other four senses, made Hyakkimaru into a whole new man.
His train of thought is interrupted when a somewhat loud grumble erupts from his stomach. Perhaps he should head to the village soon before the other two wakes up, he thinks to himself. He slowly gets up from the floor, silently thanking the gods for being able to even hear his own stomach noise with his own two ears at least.
Hyakkimaru follows his nose to the scent of the first food vendor nearby and stares at the scenery before him. He has smelled these smells before, but this was his first time actually associating the two together.
“Hello, young man. What would you like to buy today?” An older woman greets Hyakkimaru at her food stand.
Hyakkimaru flicks his eyes up to greet and acknowledge the woman, but says nothing and continues staring at the food before him. The sight, plus the smells of the foods in the front of him are making his stomach sounds get angrier with each passing second.
The woman laughs lightheartedly, “So much to choose from you can’t make up your mind, huh?”
Hyakkimaru opens his mouth to answer, but is quickly interrupted by a loud, high-pitched voice. It reminds him a bit of Dororo’s voice, and he suddenly feels the urge to return back her soon before she wakes up and makes more noise than usual.
A little figure pops up from behind the older woman and greets Hyakkimaru. He tilts his gaze downwards and sees a young girl with two ponytails and two missing front teeth. She looks at him a bit warily at first, but then lightens up when his expression softens.
“My favorites are these sticky buns and these fish right here.” She points to various spots on the table, but she is so small her head barely reaches the top. "So you should eat those."
“Ah, what are you doing up so early, dear?” The vendor woman smiles at the young girl, bending down pick her up in her arms and gives her a light kiss on the cheek. “You should go back to bed.”
“I don’t wanna, grandma!” The young girl pouts and gives fake crocodile tears, causing the woman to laugh. “Hi mister.” She waves at him and Hyakkimaru can’t help but give the little girl a small smile and waves back.
Hyakkimaru points to the same dishes the little girl mentioned and manages to speak, “Three.” He says confidently and hands over all the money he has with him.
The woman quickly packages the food and hands it over to Hyakkimaru, bowing forward slightly. “Thank you so much, young man. Please come again! Hope you enjoy!”
When Hyakkimaru emerges from the depths of the forest, he is shocked to finally see what his two travel sidekicks look like. He gazes upon the sleeping figure of the old priest and then shifts his gaze to Dororo dipping her feet warily in the riverbed downstream.
He places the food on the grass and heads down the small hill to meet Dororo at the riverbank, anxious to see her up close. When she hears a rustling behind her, Dororo turns around and gives Hyakkimaru a bright smile.
She quickly jumps out of the riverbed and runs up to Hyakkimaru, “Anikki, where have you been? I’ve been looking for you all morning!” She sounds angry, but there’s no poison in her words.
“Food…” He stutters out, “Town.”
“Something seems different about you, Anikki. It looks like you’re actually looking at me.” She makes an astute observation. "...And your eyes! Your eyes are shiny!"
Hyakkimaru says nothing and merely blinks, waiting for her to continue talking.
“Oh my goodness, your eyes Anikki…..you can see now!?” She gasps excitedly.
Her excitement increases exponentially when he confirms that he regained his vision and can finally see her for the first time.
“You can finally see me, Anikki!” She says enthusiastically, “I-I mean, do I look like how you imagine me to be?” She says somewhat quieter.
He doesn’t say much a merely gives a firm nod, but it was enough to make Dororo happy. Small tear droplets began to form in the corner of her eyes and her face began to get a bit red. She doesn't know why she's crying per-se, but she can't help the flood of emotions that overcame her. She was just so relieved he could finally see her and his surroundings for the first time ever.
Hyakkimaru’s eyes widen at the sight of little Dororo beginning to cry for him and he can’t help but feel his heart clench tighter and tighter in chest. It was almost as if his hidden, unharnessed paternal instinct rose from inside of him when he saw her begin to cry. He reaches his arms out and places them underneath Dororo’s armpits, lifting her up with extreme ease.
Before Dororo even knew what was going on, Hyakkimaru shifted her body weight to his right arm, still holding onto her without much effort or exertion.
“A-anikki, what are you doing?” A blush forms on Dororo’s face, “Let me go!”
Hyakkimaru places a chaste kiss to Dororo’s cheek so quickly, it felt as if a ghost had brushed against Dororo’s skin.
“No…..cry.” He says softly. “No more cry.” His eyes soften at the sight of Dororo quickly wiping the tears from her eyes.
“Yeah sorry, I won’t do it again.” Dororo could still feel her cheeks burning at Hyakkimaru’s kind gesture from before, but now that he can see her, she can’t hide it anymore. “I’m….I’m so happy -- for you, Anikki. I really am.”
Hyakkimaru gently places her back in the ground and looks down at her. Dororo raises her head and lets her eyes meet his, “Thank you for taking me along with your on your journey.”
He places a hand on her head and rubs her hair softly, “Thanks….be...with me.”
Thank you for being with me.