Series- Samurai 7

The Magnificent Samurai © September 17, 2006 by dragonwrangler

Main Pairings- Shichiroji/Yukino, Kambei/Kyuzo, Kambei/Shichiroji

Rating- M

Warnings- AU, WIP, yaoi, het, anal, oral

Author's Notes- This is basically a retelling of "Samurai 7" that came out after seeing several western themed drawings by Zel. It is also giving me a chance to indulge in my fascination in myths and legends. There will also be the occasional sentences in Scots Gaelic (another interest of mine!) I'm still in the early stages of this story so feedback is always welcomed. Enjoy!

Disclaimer-This story fragment is a non-commercial work of fiction based on the anime/manga Samurai 7. Original copyright of Samurai 7 belongs to Akira Kurosawa, Shinobu Hashimoto, Hideo Oguni, MICO, GDH, GONZO. Some dialogue copyrighted Funimation Entertainment. The character Kakita Nasami belongs to Samuraiko and has been borrowed by permission of the author. The character Sedith belongs to Laura "Zel" Carboni and has been borrowed by permission of the artist. The character Nuada belongs to me. Absolutely no monetary gain has been made with this work and was written for my entertainment and for the entertainment of anyone who wishes to read it

Spoilers- Pretty much the whole series.

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Chapter One

The sprawling town spreading out below him was not much to look at from the viewpoint Shichiroji had on the ridge but it was definitely a welcomed sight. The town had grown out from the point where the Long Road- the main route of commerce and knowledge that wound its way over the frontier from east to west- crossed the river that marked the start of the arable land that sat between the desert behind Shichiroji and the mountains rising along the western horizon.

With a click of his tongue, Shichiroji angled his horse back to the path leading down to the Long Road and pulled the rim of his hat down slightly to cut some of the glare from the bright sunlight. Once on the Road though, Shichiroji found there was no need for him to guide the mare since she knew the way home from here, allowing Shichiroji a chance to relax and explore what changes might have happened since he had left to travel in his capacity as a bard of the Clans.

He had spent the last several months gathering the stories that were forming as the Clans were forced from the ancient homelands and out onto the frontier. However, as interesting as those stories were, Shichiroji needed some time in one spot to absorb and organize it all; and so had finally returned to the one place a vagabond like him felt welcomed.

As he approached the edge of the town Shichiroji could see the blacksmith shop that sat on the eastern edge of town now had a new sign and the bank further in was now painted in a clean white paint job he knew would be yellowed and cracked come spring. However, beyond that, it was just as it was when he had left it months earlier.

Finally reaching the bridge that joined the two halves of the town together Shichiroji found his horse growing tired of the slow pace it was being forced to endure as they made their way through the crowded streets. With a rebellious shake of her head, the mare easily maneuvered herself into a gap between an overloaded wagon and the edge of the bridge and happily picked up the pace. Not bothering to regain control over the willful little mare, Shichiroji simply leaned back in the saddle and enjoyed the ride. Easily weaving her way between other riders, pedestrians and the wagons that filled the bridge, the mare finally reached the other side and eventually turned down a side street, eagerly heading to the building that sat at the end.

There were not many men who would claim a saloon hall as home sweet home, but for Shichiroji there was nothing that could beat the slightly faded and slightly worn Firefly Inn after months on the trail.

As soon as his horse came to a stop, Shichiroji swung out of the saddle and tied the mare's reins to the hitching post in front of the Firefly while the mare drank eagerly from the water trough set beside it. Shichiroji tried slapping away some of the dust that had accumulated on his clothing but was finding it a useless gesture. He was certainly looking forward to a night in a real bed and a bath that would wash away all the grit that was beginning to feel like a second skin. Before he had a chance to enjoy that thought though, a sudden itch between the shoulder blades distracted him, causing him to turn while automatically reaching out with his artificial hand for the spear still stuck in his saddlebag.

His hand froze in mid motion as he caught sight of the pair that had been following him since Red Ridge; the pair he had only managed to glimpse once and that had only been through sheer dumb luck if the truth be told.

Yet here they were in full view, calmly sitting on their horses studying him from the opposite side of the busy street.

He could now see details he had been unable to see before. The blond one Shichiroji had assumed to be a fur trapper, the heavy crimson jacket similar to ones he had seen on men at rendezvous during his travels along the northern borderlands. But the eyes were not those of a mountain man, and the two swords strapped to the man's back did not strike Shichiroji as being of much use in the high country.

The other man appeared even more of an enigma. It was clear he had the blood of the First Nations within him, but it was obviously to Shichiroji he was more than that. The man's calm grey-brown eyes seemed to belong to a different heritage and Shichiroji found them more exotic than those of his companion's crimson ones.

And then there was the fact the man had a samurai's sword strapped to his waist and a samurai's bow tied to the back of his saddle.

Shichiroji frowned. He recognized this man instinctively and somehow knew that they had met before. "But not in this lifetime", the voices of the ancients whispered in his ears. Shichiroji sighed as he watched the men suddenly turn their mounts and ride away without a word. He had no doubts in his mind he would be joining up with the pair for some reason and that this would prove to be only a momentary separation.

"An nì a tha 'n dàn, tachraidh e." Shichiroji muttered under his breath as he untied the reins and wearily pulled himself back into the saddle. The fated will happen.

"Leaving already, Shichiroji?"

Glancing up to the entrance of the Firefly, Shichiroji found Yukino staring down at him, arms crossed and a look of exasperation on her face. Long black hair pulled back in a tight braid that fell down her back, the dance hall girl was still dressed in her day clothes; her colorful scarf covering the wine colored shirt that she wore, while a long brown riding skirt hid her shapely legs from view.

Shichiroji knew by evening those lovely legs would be revealed in quick flashes during the high kicks that were part of the dance number Yukino performed regularly at the Firefly in the evenings and a moment of disappointment passed through Shichiroji. He had also been looking forward to sharing his bed once again with Yukino- but he found the pull to follow the two strangers too strong to ignore.

Sweeping his hat off, he bowed over the neck of his horse as he said, "Duty calls me away from your side once again, my lady. But rest assured I will return to you soon."

Yukino gave an unladylike snort of amusement as she raised her arm with a regal sweep of her hand. "I expect to hear great things of you when you finally get your ass back here, bard." she announced in an exaggerated, haughty voice as she warped slightly a routine they had often performed together for the patrons of the Firefly when Shichiroji was in town. "And I expect to see more than just your face revealed to me, Shichiroji." she added with a sharp look.

"I'll make sure that you do, my lady." Shichiroji responded with a laugh as he rode away.

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"He's following."

Shimada Kambei did not need to look back to know the blond they had tracked to this town was now tracking them. And he was not surprised by the whisper of irritation in Kyuzo's voice; it had been present ever since Red Ridge, no matter how hard the young samurai tried to hide it. Glanced at the crimson clad man riding beside him, Kambei said, "I would have been surprised if he had not."

A frown briefly flashed across his companion's stern features.

"I'm not sure I understand what it is you see in this one." Kyuzo finally stated as he gave Kambei as close to a frustrated look that he had yet seen on the young man's face.

Kambei sighed and shook his head. "I'm not sure I understand myself." Looking ahead, Kambei let his eyes wander, noting everything as his mind turned over the problem of the man they had followed to this town. There seemed to be nothing particularly outstanding about the stranger, though Kambei had heard the rumors circulating amongst the families about the blond story gatherer with one metal arm. The man had managed to impress several tribal elders with his knowledge regarding the ways of the families and had shown abilities equal to any warrior amongst the tribes. Kambei was now sure those rumors were correct; he was certain the man had been aware of their presence ever since they had started trailing him and there were few outside of the tribes who could manage that.

Truthfully, the only ones who had that ability were samurai, and there were few true samurai left these days.

And there was something else that drew Kambei to the man, something he could not explain. Not to Kyuzo at least.

Kambei found his thoughts turning to the oath that lay between himself and the man riding beside him. He had sworn to Kyuzo one final duel once he found the answer to the riddle that surrounding the promise flower mark he carried on his body. He was uncertain how Kyuzo would react if Kambei informed him that the reason they had followed the man was because the power within Kambei that was linked to the mark had reached out to the blond even before they had actually seen him leaving the town of Red Ridge.

Kambei had a suspision the blond storyteller had the answers he had sought for so long and that the duel Kyuzo waited for would not be delayed much longer.

A commotion suddenly drew Kambei's attention away from his thoughts and he reined in his horse as he scanned a crowd of people to his left. At first he was unable to make out what had caused the crowd to gather until he caught sight of a large orange and crimson mechanical man arguing with someone beyond Kambei's sight.

Dismounting his horse without a word, Kambei slipped into the crowd and made his way toward the commotion. He knew Kyuzo would be a few steps behind him; the man was not about to let someone else harm him before their last duel; that odd protectiveness was one of the things that made the man such an excellent companion.

As he walked Kambei sensed the presence of several other samurai scattered throughout the crowd, the intensity of their regard causing them to stand out. There was also an unfocused anger floating over the curiosity of the people around him that put Kambei on guard.

As he drew closer, Kambei slowed his steps and listened to the raised voices ahead of him. And he was not happy about what he was hearing.

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Kyuzo was not surprised when the General suddenly stop his horse to scan the crowd they had come upon. He was even less surprised when the dark skinned man silently dismounted and began making his way silently through the mass of people without once glancing back to see if Kyuzo would follow.

There was no reason that he should for they both knew Kyuzo would follow.

Kyuzo swung out of the saddle and to the ground in one quickly movement and identified those in the crowd who might be a threat to the General before discarded them from his attention as it became apparent that they were not about to get involved in the unfolding events.

He found himself wondering- not for the first time- why Kambei often had the need to involve himself in situations that did not concern him.

Watching the figure moving through the crowd ahead of him, Kyuzo instantly recognized the shift in the General's body language. He was on guard though Kyuzo could not see what he was reacting to. All he was able to see was what appeared to be a fool of a samurai attempting to take the coward's way out of this world instead of having the courage to do it himself.

Stopping behind Kambei when he came to a halt, Kyuzo stated quietly, "This will bring a patrol."

"I am aware of that." Kambei responded softly without turning away from the events before them.

Having stated his opinion, and not at all surprised by Kambei's answer, Kyuzo readied himself for the inevitable confrontation. He knew from experience that once the General had decided his course of action there was nothing he could do to sway him. And very little anyone else could do to stop him.

It was what had made him such an excellent opponent during the war and why Kyuzo followed him now instead of simply forcing the duel they were destined to fight. He had no doubts he could beat the General in a duel but there was still a lot to be learned from the dark skinned warrior.

Shifting back and to the side to give him room to maneuver, Kyuzo looked a little closer at the samurai causing the commotion and suddenly realized what Kambei was reacting to. Kyuzo let his hand drift to his swords, knowing the General was not about to let the troublemaker continue what he was doing.

Not when the man was using a baby as a bargaining chip.

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First Nation- "a term of ethnicity used in Canada. It refers to indigenous peoples of North America located in what is now Canada, and their descendants, who are not Inuit or Métis." (from Wikipedia)