This won't be a real story but a collection of weekly prompts, mostly about Zevran. Each chapter stands for itself.
Once upon a Crossover
Silence drowned all activity on the street. Fear forced the villagers to stay in their houses, the women shielding their children, the men holding spears and treshing-flails in their trembling hands, hoping that they would not have to fight themselves.
All set at the south, Zevran? Kambei asked the slim swordmaster with his stony face not exposing his own concerns. He tugged away the last pieces of the rice-cakes one of the peasant wives brought to him and reached a small bottle to Zevran.
Yes, barricades are ready. They can be pushed on the street in short time. Nemain prepared a square of them for catching a handful of the bandits before stopping the rest. Zevran took a small sip of the sake, the alcohol burning in his stomach fueling his energy.
Even Kambei had to smile, thinking about the stout warrioress. Having only been able to muster 5 companions for the defense of the village, it had in part been his wish to reach the lucky number 7 to allow her to partake. But in the short time since then she had been able to prove her usefulness, her kill counter only topped by Zevran.
Be careful. Don't let in too many of the bandits at a time. There are too many of them, we can't afford more deaths on our side. In silence they thought about Gorobei, the archer having been killed in the first fight, the eight bandit corpses not enough to compensate the loss. At last Zevran broke the silence. How could I do this? Careful? You know Nemain's temper. I'll have enough to handle with restraining her from attacking the bandits outright. Have you seen her face after we detected those mistreated women in the bandits' camp?
Kambei nodded in agreement, his leather armor squeaking. I remember. Hate I saw. And guilt for not being able to save them earlier. You have to look after her, Zevran. I can't spare another man for the south, you two must hold out long enough. Watch her back when she rushes to attack.
Watch her back, I think I can do this, Zevran answered with a smirk.
I'm sure you are. Kambei was hard pressed not to smile. The growing feelings had been obviously in the past days. An unusual pair they were. Nemain, being born into a good family, her stout and graceless body even so not allowing her an adequate wedding as her temper did. And Zevran, born into a low standing, reared up to be a deadly ninja as far as Kambei assumed, but now a Ronin as they all were. Both deadly with their swords but with different temper and fighting styles, Zevran the scorpion waiting in patience, ready to strike with his Katana as fast as lightning and Nemain remembering on an angry bear, charging forward and slicing any living enemy with her two-handed No-Daichi.
The sign. Zevran pointed to a near hill, where a younger peasant's son was stationed. Giving Kambei a last nod he hurried back to the south were Nemain was already nervously waiting for him, anxious to fight. There you are. I feared you would miss the fun. Zevran smiled back. You mean, you "hoped" I would miss the fun. Nemain made a few testing strikes thru the air with her weapon. May be.
Zevran liked to watch her. She was not nearly as graceful as the Geishas he had known back in Kyoto and he would anticipate a tea ceremony with her to be a complete disaster. Unmarriageable, that her family surely thought about her, Nemain seldom speaking of the past. Gorgeous, he would describe her. Feeling his gaze upon her, Nemain gave a sly smile. Not knowing if he survived the next hour, Zevran allowed her to surprise him with what be a fast movement for Nemain. She grabbed him, pulled his face to hers and gave him an intense kiss. In his mind Zevran saw her parents faint to the floor if they would have seen this behavior, not nearly befitting a well-educated lady.
The clattering of hooves called them back to the present. Eight, ten, thirteen bandits Zevran made a quick count, on horses with a wild array of rags and leather armor, some with helms, wearing mostly swords stolen form the battlefields around, two with bows. Too his relief none of the bandits had a firearm. Yelling loudly, more to inspire braveness to themselves than frightening anyone, they followed the fence around the village, riding thru the rice fields, spoiling the crops.
We let four of them pass, then we push the barricade on the street. Zevran pressed, while he ran to the hideout. Eight, Nemain responded. Six, Zevran cursed, pulling Nemain down out of sight.
The clattering neared, the first rider passed, spreading the odor of cheap booze. From the north the noises of battle erupted, cries, clashing of swords, the thunder of a single firearm. Four, five, six, Zevran counted with his fingers to Nemain, sprang up and pushed the wagon with all might. With a blood-curling yell Nemain followed, shying away the following horses, then helped Zevran to push the wagon-barricade in place. The passed riders in the meantime realized that there were further obstacles on all paths, pulling their horses around.
With flashing strikes of her No-Daichi Nemain jumped between the horses, stabbing and striking, yelling and shooing. Zevran knew that Nemain later would cry bitter tears about this, injuring and killing horses to frighten them, unsaddle their riders, trample them to death. But it was the only way they could hope to win against them.
He held back, leaving the filed to her merciless blade and watched. With a lightning-fast movement and precise stab he finished one of the riders who tried to get behind Nemain. In seconds Zevran was out of range again, eying for the rest of the group. Some of them dismounted to push the wagon away. Nemain seemed secure, most bandits of the first group dead or lying injured on the ground. So he rushed to the wagon, killed two of the bandits before they realized his appearance. Cursing the three riders warned their last two comrades, one of the riders pulling his bow but waiting for a better sight for a sure shot.
Left, right, left, right. Zevran remembered his sword training lessons in Kyoto, only then being stacked against four or five enemies, these two bandits being only playing children in comparison. In the second he cut the second down, something crashed against his back, knocking him to the floor, yelping in pain. Zevran recognized Nemain's voice, turned around to see the arrow in her lower back, the warrioress shouting a curse she only learned days ago from Zevran. In spite of the circumstances Zevran had to smile and press a short kiss on her lips before he jumped up and attacked the last three bandits with a battlecry …
Silence laid over the village anew. The silence of death. Slowly the first villagers showed their faces, not believing that the fight was over, the battle was won. More than thirty killed bandits disseminated all around the streets, the last being killed by angry villagers, trashed to death while trying to flee. All the fear, the rage, the despair searched for a way to release. The last samurai watched in tired silence. From the northern fight only Kambei and Shichiroji survived, Kyuzo being shot by a bullet and Kikuchiyo dying from countless wounds.
While the villagers began to believe their luck, to cry in delight and dance on the streets, Kambei couldn't feel real joy, seeing only the faces of his dead comrades. Only the peasants have won. The swordsmen lost, lost as always we do.
No. This time at least some of us won, too. With a broad smile Shichiroji pointed to Zevran and Nemain, the two Ronin continuing their kiss as if they were all alone.
PS: I hope it is recognizable that it should be a 7-Samurai-Crossover.