Author's Notes: This was written as part of a bonus-claim at the livejournal community iy(underscore)no(underscore)kakera.
Words to know:
Aniki: Since the Shichinin-tai is an extremely close group of mercenaries, they refer to each other as "Aniki (Brother)" and to Bankotsu, their leader, as "Oo-aniki (Respected Elder Brother)." This use of familial terms shows their closeness and hierarchy but does notmake themrelated by blood. (they are all listed in the offical character book by Takahashi has having no relatives)
Gesh or Gesh-shi: The sounds Ginkotsu makes when he's 'talking' sometimes.
The story is in Renkotsu's POV. Enjoy!
Chapter 1 - Storyteller
I look up as the rest of the group starts laughing at the conclusion to the story Oo-aniki was telling. Lately, it's become commonplace for Bankotsu and Jakotsu to recount their adventures prior to the formation of the Shichinin-tai. They're good for a laugh sometimes, other times- they even put me on the edge of my seat listening to the chilling way a boy so young can recount such gory events.
But this evening, it's something Bankotsu says after the story that catches my attention the most.
"You know, sometimes I wish I could write all this down. Like those monks and scholars do about important stuff. Then people, even after I'm dead, can get a good laugh out of it."
"Mou…but Aniki, you can't write, right?"
Bankotsu shook his head as he laughed, "Not unless you want half of the words mixed up. Not at all."
"Oo-aniki?" I speak up, the rest of the group turning to look at me.
"Hmm? What is it, Renkotsu?"
"Do you really think others would find the stories of our adventures that interesting?"
He shrugged, a wicked grin on his face as he gestured to Jakotsu. "Why not? Unless you think Jakotsu's too weird for them."
The taller man tackled Bankotsu onto the porch at that, his arms around his neck in a head-lock as he messed up the young leader's hair.
"Mou! You're weird too, Aniki!"
The group laughed again, and I excused myself from the porch to head into the yashiki. The idea, although it was clearly born of Bankotsu's child-like nature, was something I found very intriguing. He was quite right- monks often wrote out long scrolls of parchment on events they considered important. So why, why couldn't we write out our stories?
I began to rummage through the rooms, searching for any sort of writing utensils and paper. As I finished searching the second room to no avail, I noticed two figures standing in the doorway.
"Gesh-shi?" Ginkotsu questions.
"Something wrong, Renkotsu?" Bankotsu asks. They both seem to be worried due to my abrupt leaving of the group.
"It's just what you said, Oo-aniki. Someone should write out our story. And I thought that- if I could find the proper parchment and brush…"
His face lit up at that, "You mean you'll do it, Renkotsu?"
He was a weird one, Jakotsu was right about that. A young boy already one of the deadliest killers of our era and yet— still such a child deep down. And knowing that there was no way even a 'cold hearted killer' like myself could do anything that would cause the brimming excitement to vanish from Bankotsu's face, it meant that it was now up to me to recount this story.
"You should start at the beginning, though," Bankotsu continued, obviously giving the matter very serious regard.
He pointed to me with his smug smile he often gets when he knows he's right.
"Start with your story, then- when you met Ginkotsu- then us. If you're writing it, it should be your story."
"Gesh! Gesh-shi! He's right, Renkotsu."
I blink, taken back for the moment by the concept.
"Yours and Ginkotsu's. Then, we can have me and Jakotsu and the others all tell you their stories prior to joining the group. It'll be like one big story. We'll be like all the famous legends!"
He rushes over to give me a hearty pat on the back before practically running from the room.
"This will be great, Renkotsu. I'm gonna go tell Jakotsu and the others. I can't wait to hear your first story."
That evening, I was given a room all to myself with plenty of space and all the brushes, ink and parchment the six other men could find in the remains of the yashiki. Since the former owners had been killed off by poison and not by my fires, luckily a lot of it remained intact- giving me a large pile of supplies for this crazy, child's whim of an idea that I was embarking on.
But no matter how I tried, I couldn't seem to get things started. I just stared at the blank parchment trying to put into words all the memories I had about my past.
I was concentrating so hard on this, that I didn't even notice the door sliding open and the loud footsteps approaching me.
Glancing up, I noticed Ginkotsu looking down at me.
"Ginkotsu, it's rather late. What are you doing up still?"
He sat down, his metal arm's joints rattling.
"Gesh. I should be saying that to you, Renkotsu."
I smiled at that; leave it to him to worry about me.
"I'm just trying to get this story started out…"
My words cut off as Ginkotsu awkwardly took the brush from my hands. He held it loosely in his right hand, and shakily he scrawled out some rough characters on the parchment before him.
"Ginkotsu?" I questioned, not sure what to make of the crude symbols.
"My original name, I think I wrote it right."
Eyes widening at that, I gently took the brush back from him. He was right- that was where I had to start. This story couldn't start with 'Renkotsu' or 'Ginkotsu.'
No, it had to start with Ginjirou and Renichi.