It dates back to those unspoken times. Those times that were never revealed, never questioned, almost like a secret, selflessly protected and guarded, even seen as a weakness for all; the past of the Seven Samurais.
Kambei, Katsuhiro, Gorobey, Sichiroji, Kikuchiyo, Heihachi, Kyuzo.
When they met, gathered by the priestess who sought out help for her trampled village, all they had in mind was the question of courage and honour, of a duty that could pass their time and maybe give them a taste of what they had lost, or what they had yet to discover.
They did not question too much who each of them were; some had fought in the war against the Nobuseri many years ago, some wanted to be led onto the same path, most of them still had yet to discover who they truly were. When they were joined and linked by their mission, all that mattered was that they were all swordsmen, samurais that fought with the sharp tip of their soul, and that were willing enough to fight off the bandits in exchange of rice, a meagre prize without praise. They did not speak or inquire or question further more, and leaned over their task.
But the memories and the past they left behind, what carved them into what they became; it never left. Even when four of the seven samurais lost their lives and were buried in Kana Village, their memory mourned but honoured, the path they walked did not shrivel away, and the people that had been part of their lives did not vanish upon same tune. The story of how they came to be lives on, albeit untold. But that can be remedied.
Here is a fragment, really just a piece, of his untold tale. The red-coated samurai that Katsuhiro looked up to so much, and to whom Kambei promised a rematch. Words rarely fluttered through his mouth, and somehow everyone knew there was no need for him to speak any more than he did. He wasn't very friendly. He was fashioned as intimidating but extremely skilled; he was a creature that wore a pulsing heart, but who's emotions vibrated like the drunken hum of cicadas in those old long summer nights ago.
That time Kyuzo barely made it alive. It was just a slip in the system, and not in his skills. It was a dark night, sombre like ink, but cool and fresh and perfect for a run, a few strikes and a job well done. He was at Ayamaro's service, still, and the time was barely three years before he met Kambei and the others. At that time he was just as disinterested as he'd be when he'd joined the troupe, simple as a koi circling the pond, but precise and effortless in his steps, inexpressive through his eyes.
It had been said some Nobuseri's had turned rebellious, ignoring the Emperor's command to raid villages and take the harvested rice. Instead they had taken a liking in Kougakyo, the subordinated iron bins appearing on the streets and causing chaos among the merchant's city population. Kyuzo was certain the Ronins were looking for something.
Kougakyo was a city of trading wares and production, a bustling nest for ambitious merchants. Somehow the Nobuseri had found in it interest, and the Emperor had been quick to send a missive to the Magistrate, along with a generous troupe of soldiers. Somehow Kyuzo had found himself among the ranks.
He wasn't certain why, but he knew his heart wanted to skip a beat. He wanted to run, to strike and to fly, to rush his soul into battle. He wanted to fight another war, and ever since the end of the actual thing he had not had the occasion to feel alive. He had stayed untouched and unstained, saving himself from ruin and fall by trapping himself in the demands of the capital and the magistrate. It was no good for a wild heart like his. It was no good for any samurai, and he wanted to be pinned off the wall of security and luxury, and honed by the edge of a blade once again. And maybe that's why he was following the mass of darkly-clad soldiers, sent to investigate the group of rebellious Nobuseri, beyond the desert circling Kougakyo and towards a greener region that gave birth to mountains and forest. There were no villages around, but the wall of mountains was a cover as good as any other.
He did not like the sound of the Emperor's soldiers. They had mechanical steps, but no ambition or passion in their movements. He made quick to dislodge himself from them and glue his gaze to the sky. And that's when he saw it, the Nobuseri airship, tall and weaved strangely like a monster with too thin legs. He thought he could see eyes implanted in the façade.
Stolen, too. With less iron-binned soldiers flying around. The ship was certain to be containing far less ammunition and men than a usual Harvesting Forest. It would be easy to take it down. The troupes were mobilized but Kyuzo wasn't listening. He gripped his katana tighter, urging the leader with his mind to speak faster or not speak at all.
The fool wanted to resonate with the Nobuseri leader first. Get some explanations and try to convince the machines to fall back into step and keep doing as the Emperor commanded them. Kyuzo knew that it would fail. And it did. When the canons overhead fired he was the first one to dash out of the ranks, leap and strike.
It was almost a war. The sky turned to fire, and the air became explosives. Figures were being swallowed whole, some others trashed down like manikins, while he kept on rising higher and higher, his blade cutting through the iron bins capriciously, and he waiting for the fantastic feeling of battle to overwhelm him. It did not come though, and he started feeling angry. Angry that they were so easy to defeat. Angry that there was no proper man out there to come stand in his way and give him some second thoughts. A man of flesh and wielding a true katana. Who could daunt him. Outlaw him.
Come on, he thought as he whipped the air and turned the machines to debris.
And then a canon fired at him and he felt his flank burning. He twisted in his fall and deflected another blow, and the katana in his hand shivered. His eyes widened slightly as his feet found ground again, but he had to promptly roll aside for now the entire attention was on him.
Scattered bodies everywhere. The Emperor's troupes were losing. Bloody hell.
Kyuzo broke into a run, but he did not go far as pain shot through his flank. He almost tripped, but he buried his katana in the ground to steady himself and have a look around. Bodies scattered everywhere.
He shushed the pain and equipped his katana once again, fiercely protesting to idle procrastinating. And when his blade met with the solid carapace of a landed Nobuseri's body, the katana broke in two. He stared, wide-eyed, as the blade cracked and jolted into the pieces. Then the ground was being blasted under his feet and what followed was conundrum.