Note: One of my best sources of inspiration has been the writing communities on LiveJournal. Like "Images and Words" (my two contributions to the 1sentence challenge), this story came out my contributions to the 5sentencefics community. However, I didn't want them to be just quick one-offs, so I made all 125 sentences (5 sentences for each segment, 5 segments per chapter, 5 chapters in total) part of a larger story. I also changed the order of the segments in the table to give me a finer control for my story.

The title, "Seishin no samurai," translates to "The Samurai's Heart" (or "the Samurai's spirit"). Each chapter has its own title, and in parentheses is the segment description.

This tale is set approximately one year after the Battle of Kanna, assumes that both Nasami and Kambei survived the battle, and that they are beginning their lives together.


SEISHIN NO SAMURAI

The Beauty of Sunlight (Blue Skies)

The thunderous rumble of the waterfall, the gentle hiss of a spring breeze, the wide expanse of blue skies after the grey of storm clouds, all of these drew Nasami to the falls at the edge of Kanna Village as they had so often before, and now here she was again, with Kambei at her side.

"Do you remember," she asked softly, standing on 'their' rock looking over the falls and then glancing up at the tall samurai at her side, "how it all began right here?"

"In despair, anguish, and sorrow, like I had never seen you succumb to before," he murmured thoughtfully, stroking his chin as was his wont, but behind his serious demeanor his eyes twinkled as he looked down at her and remarked, "but out of that came something beautiful, did it not?"

"It truly is as the sages said, that 'one cannot understand the beauty of sunlight on water if one has never known the darkness,'" she replied as the wind tossed her long white hair across her eyes and she brushed it back with one small hand, "and yet I would not trade a single moment of that darkness."

And with that, she stepped backward into Kambei's arms, tilted her head back so that it rested against his chest, and closed her eyes to let the warmth of the sunlight fall on her upturned face.


The Reunion (Silver and Gold)

"So your father has granted his blessing at last?" Kambei asked as he stepped into Rikichi's small house, letting his eyes adjust to the darkness as he did so, and slipping off his sandals before stepping onto the raised platform.

"Indeed, but I'm afraid I didn't give him much choice in the matter," Nasami said, her voice filled with quiet laughter, gesturing for him to sit beside her, and as he did so, she reached over to pick up a package wrapped in silk and bearing the mon of her Clan.

"Still, it is reassuring to know that even your choice to involve yourself with an outcast ronin would not cost you your family, your honor, or your status as samurai," Kambei replied, running his fingers through his long hair as he sat beside her, then he eyed the package she held out to him, and she nodded her permission to open it.

Carefully he placed the package in his lap as Nasami leaned against the wall behind her, then he unwound the bindings that held the silk in place and pulled aside the wrappings to reveal an ancient katana and saya – the pommel wrapped in dark blue, black, and silver, the tsuba cast in burnished gold in the graceful shape of her family crest, the saya a rich black with kanji stamped in silver on the side… the twin of the katana Nasami wore in the obi at her waist.

"At last," Nasami murmured, her eyes glistening with tears at the sight of her brother's sword, even as Kambei stared in reverence at the katana he held, "Mamorimasu and Sememasu are reunited, as they were always meant to be…"


The Art of the Sword (Chasing the Wind)

Gleaming in the moonlight and starlight, the two blades rose and fell in perfect harmony, twisting and weaving in the air as they moved through the ancient kata patterns, bringing mind and body closer together.

Around them, the night wind seemed to whisper secrets, just on the edge of hearing, as Nasami and Kambei moved side by side as though one were the other's shadow.

For a moment, she paused, letting her katana fall still as she closed her eyes and breathed deeply, then she sighed in pleasure and loosened her hair from the foxtail she always wore so that her white mane tumbled to her waist and the wind blew it into disarray around her body.

Opening her eyes again, she began her kata once more, but Kambei stared at her, transfixed, as the moonlight turned her hair to silver and she moved with no more sound than the wind moving over water.

"Dancing with the wind," he whispered as the words of a poem suddenly came to him while watching her, "her eyes sparkle with secrets, just beyond my grasp."


As He Sleeps (Slow Hand)

In the dying light of the fire, I lie beside him awake, one arm cushioning my head as I stare at him, and I let my eyes trace over his face as I so often do before letting sleep claim me at last.

Asleep, he looks years younger, without the cares and worries he carries with him after years in the Great War or his wanderings as a ronin, without the sorrows he has suffered from losing the ones he cares for, and all of his troubles are soothed away by the grace of Lord Moon until there is only gentle relaxation and peace there.

My eyes are drawn to the shadows and lines of his face, the fullness of his mouth, the carved cheekbones and elegant features that proclaim his samurai nobility, and as I do each night, I reach out with one hand to brush against his cheek and trace my fingers along his jawline, and like every time before, even in sleep, he turns his head just slightly so that my fingertips brush his lips, bestowing the faintest of kisses upon them before my hand moves away.

The skin of my fingertips tingles as he does so, and I can feel heat flooding my face and through my body until I feel like the embers of the fire have crawled inside of me, and I resolutely draw back my hand and close my eyes to try and sleep.

Until I feel him take my hand in his, and as slumber claims me, I smile to myself.


First Night (Paradise)

Her skin feels like satin, as even I trace every scar, every line, even the tattoos that seem to writhe and move on her body, and my only desire is to lose myself forever in learning every inch of her.

Years of training, of battle, of studying the art of war and the sword, have all honed her body into a weapon as fine as the katana she carries, and yet, I am entranced at the gentle curves of her, so often hidden in the silk and steel of her armor.

I have already spent hours tonight learning that behind the armor, behind the legends and stories and songs that they sing of the samuraiko with hair like snow and eyes like twilight, beats the heart of a woman, a woman who loves and yearns and weeps and desires like any other… and like no other before her.

For what truly astonishes me, more than any of the rest of the secrets of her past, is that she is still pure, forsaking the pleasures of the flesh unlike many of the samurai during the time of the Great War, as though to yield her body to another would somehow diminish her own strength, her own honor… and yet now she yields it to me.

For a long time, I cannot speak, so overcome am I at this most precious gift, for how can I put into words what it means to know that she has given me her trust, as well as her heart?

To be continued...