2,500 words. Rating R. Previous parts are HERE and you might well need to refresh your memories; it’s been a while.
Dojo Hard Part 8
“You need not have brought the gaijin, Drusilla-san” Fuji grumbled. “My pictures are faster and clearer than any.”
Travers looked down his nose at the ninja artist. “Humph! The special training of the Church of England is unrivalled. When speed and clarity is desired, especially in a poor light, none can do better than a Canon.”
“I need both of you,” Drusilla said. “You could have a race. Now hush. Prepare yourselves.”
Each man took up position outside one of the windows. Travers set up his easel, canvas, and palette. Fuji readied his scrolls and inks. They took up their brushes and stood ready.
Drusilla peered into the room. “Excellent. They are lying so that their faces can be clearly seen. Go!”
The two men set to work. Their brushes flew at lightning speed. In almost no time each had painted a picture of the room in which Angel and Buffy lay in bed. Drusilla examined them critically. “Very good,” she said. “Now the real test, for there shall be movement. Remember that you must clearly show his feet.”
When the two artists were ready again Drusilla tossed a paper ball into the room. It landed on Angel’s face. The Lord High Executioner jerked awake. He grabbed for his Ôdachi and rose from the bed ready to do battle against the shadowy figures at the windows. His feet went to where he had left his sandals. There was nothing there. He frowned, saw his sandals on the floor under the windows, and set off across the floor towards them with his sword raised high.
“Now!” Drusilla snapped. The artists worked frantically. Angel stood in the center of the room, a puzzled frown on his brown, the Ôdachi poised in a defensive position. The artists stepped back. Drusilla pulled off the hood that had obscured her face, seized the scroll from Fuji, and held it up. “You are dishonored, Angel-sama,” she sneered. “You have deflowered a maiden, the soles of your unshod feet have trodden the floor, and I have paintings to prove it.”
Angel glanced down at his feet, back at the slumbering Buffy on the futon, and then back at Drusilla. “You tricked me!” he hissed. “Give me those paintings!”
Drusilla handed the scroll back to Fuji. “Run, both of you, in different directions,” she ordered. Leave your easel, Travers-san!” The two men obeyed and in moments were out of sight. “The shogun shall see the pictures if you do not heed my words, Angel-sama.”
Angel fumed. He knew that he had no chance of catching both of the men. Drusilla had outsmarted him decisively. “What do you want, Drusilla-san?”
“I want my Angel-kun back,” Drusilla told him. “You have two choices. Commit seppuku, as honor dictates, or rejoin the clan and seize power.”
Angel’s brows lowered. “Seize power?”
“You are Lord High Executioner. Trusted by the Shogun. Make use of that. A palace coup would be so easy. You could be Shogun, Angel-kun. We could rule this land together.”
Angel’s face contorted. “That would be treachery. If I failed the punishment would be terrible.”
“Worse than seppuku?” Drusilla raised her eyebrows and looked Angel straight in the eye. “You know that I am right, Angel-kun.”
Angel gestured back towards the futon. “But what of – her?”
Drusilla tossed her head. “Keep her as a concubine if you wish.”
“He was the bravest samurai in all the land,” Drusilla said. “As a ronin and as a ninja he was fearsome. But he was only ever a substitute for you. Now that he is crippled I have no further use for him.” Her top lip curled. “And frankly it will be a relief not to have to pretend to like his bloody awful haiku.”
“It’s really rather disappointing,” House of Flying Daggers said. He poked Chopstick with his cane. “A waste of my talents. No choice of six rare ailments, all with exactly the same symptoms, but with dramatically different treatments all of which would make you much worse if I chose the wrong one. It’s merely a cracked vertebra. Simple, straightforward, and boring. Such a shame.”
“Yeah, well, next time I’ll try to get smashed up in a more interesting fashion,” Chopstick said.
House of Flying Daggers wrinkled his nose. “Now, if it had been a case of the spinal nerves having been stunned into inaction by proximity to an extremely loud and discordant musical note, then that would have been interesting. The treatment is quite fascinating. Not like this, where all you have to do is to lie there and keep completely still for three weeks, and then move on to a little gentle exercise. Take two of these tablets and call me in the morning.”
Chopstick reached for the tablets and then closed his hand without taking them. “Doc,” he said, “I fell on a koto zither. Made a hell of a ‘twang’ when I landed on it.”
House of Flying Daggers opened his eyes very wide and tilted his head to one side, and then he tilted his head to the other side, and finally he looked upwards as if trying to see his own eyebrows. “Hmm. Now that is interesting. You may well have suffered a case of music-induced paralysis of the spine. If that is what happened then the treatment is completely different. Those pills would, in fact, kill you instantly.”
Chopstick snatched his hand back. “Bloody hell!”
“Just kidding,” House of Flying Daggers said. Chopstick began to extend his hand again. “They won’t kill you. They would, however, exacerbate your condition and jeopardize the success of the correct treatment.”
Chopstick pulled his hand back once more. “So, Doctor-ka, supposing I do have this music paralysis, what’s the treatment for that?”
“In that case, there would be no need to lie still,” the ninja doctor explained. “It would even be counter-productive as your muscles would atrophy. You should take as much exercise as possible, in fact. The essential element of the treatment is a special form of shiatsu massage of the back.”
“So I find a shiatsu masseur,” Chopstick said. “Shouldn’t be hard. Plenty of us ninjas do a bit of that. Know a little myself.”
“I said a special form of massage,” House of Flying Daggers said sharply. “Who is the doctor, me or you?”
Chopstick bowed his head. “You, Doctor-ka.”
“That’s right, and don’t forget it. No, this massage must be done with the feet, and by only one special person. Your true love. She, or he if your preferences lie in that direction, must walk on your back and massage your spine and the surrounding muscles with her toes and the balls of her feet.”
Chopstick’s face broke into a smile. “No problem. I’ll get Dru to do it.”
“Why does it have to be his true love, doctor dude?” Oz wondered.
“Frankly, I’ve no idea,” House of Flying Daggers said. “It might be some deep and mystical reason. Then again, it might just be that people tend to fall in love with someone of exactly the right weight. I do know that having it done by the wrong person can be catastrophic.”
“Dru’s the right person,” Chopstick said confidently.
“Of course if it really is a cracked vertebra that massage will probably sever your spinal cord,” the ninja doctor warned. “There really is no way for me to tell.”
“Yeah, well, not gonna lie flat on my back for three sodding weeks,” Chopstick said. “I’ll take the chance.”
“It’s your decision,” House of Flying Daggers said. “Now for the really important part of this consultation. My fee.”
“Angel-sama,” Chamberlain Snyder sneered. “If you think that I’m going to defer to you then you have another think coming. I suppose you want to see the Shogun? Forget it. You can wait until the morning. And those guys with you will just have to wait outside the castle.”
“You dare impede the Lord High Executioner? This is treason,” Angel announced. “Seize him.”
Four ninjas leaped upon Snyder and grabbed him by the arms and legs.
“This is not orderly!” the Chamberlain protested. “This is not discipline! You’re in my castle, buddy, and when I say you have to wait, you-” His voice was cut off short as Drusilla thrust a wad of cloth into his mouth.
“Nasty man,” Drusilla scolded. “You won’t be our Chamberlain. I think we should find a great big monster to swallow you whole. Tie him up!” The ninjas bound Snyder securely, fastened a rope around his head to hold the cloth gag in place, and dumped him against a wall. Angel strode on, with his retinue of ninja and ronin following in his wake, until he reached the Shogun’s private chamber. He threw open the doors and entered.
Giles woke, disentangled himself from Jenny Calendar, and sat up. “Angel-san! What is it? Are we under attack?”
“You could say that,” Angel said. “I have left your service, Giles-sama. You are a miserable excuse for a Shogun, weak and feeble, and I am deposing you.”
“You can’t do that!” Giles protested. “You are bound to my service. The Code of Bushido compels you to obey my commands.” Beside him Jenny sat up too, gasped in alarm, and clutched the sheets to her to shield her breasts from the intruders’ gaze.
“There was a loophole,” Angel reminded Giles. “If I should deflower a virgin, or allow my unshod soles to touch the floor, then the contract is void. I’ve done both.”
“Then you are dishonored,” Giles said. “You’re supposed to commit seppuku.”
“If I am already dishonored, what’s a little more dishonor?” Angel sneered at Giles. “You are a fool and unfit for the Shogunate. Sunnydale needs a strong ruler. Like me.”
“Why, you ungrateful wretch!” Giles spluttered. “After all that I’ve done for you.” He drew in a deep breath. “Buffy-san!” he shouted. “To me. Your Shogun needs you.”
“It’s no use, Giles-san,” Angel sneered. “She isn’t here. The castle is mine.” He used his sword to point at the bed and called to his warriors. “Seize them! Bind them and throw them into the dungeons. Search the palace for his taikomochi and shugenza. Round up his geishas.”
One of the ronin warriors, a burly man who wore a horned hoshikabuto helmet and wielded a massive hammer, raised a hand. “Can we make merry sport with them?”
“No, Olaf-san, you mustn’t be naughty,” Drusilla told him. “Not yet, anyway. Later, if they don’t co-operate.” She turned away from the ronin, seized Jenny Calendar, and dragged her from the bed. She stood over the abacus teacher, threatening her with her razor-edged fan, and forced her to don a kimono.
Giles was treated in similar fashion. The captive shogun and his lady were hustled from the chamber and into the main audience room. Soon they were joined by Xander, Willow, Cordelia, Harmony, and Amber, all struggling in the grasp of ninja or ronin.
“The Shogunate is mine,” Angel proclaimed. “You have a choice. Serve me as you have served the unworthy Giles-san, or be thrown into the dungeons to rot or be executed at my convenience.”
“You can’t just declare yourself Shogun,” Xander protested. “It’s unheard of.”
“Actually it’s not,” Willow said. “Mitsubishi Shogun seized the throne after crossing swamps and mountains.”
“Well, yeah,” Xander admitted. “But not after betraying his lord and attacking people sleeping in their beds.”
“It’s the best way,” Angel said. “They can’t fight back. I’m not as stupid as Chopstick.”
“Not as honorable either,” said Xander. “You wouldn’t be doing this if he was alive.”
“He is alive,” Drusilla said. “His back is broken but he lives.” One of the ninjas pricked up his ears.
“So, you even lied about that,” Giles said scornfully. “You really were an abject failure as Lord High Executioner.”
“And what does that say about you for appointing me?” Angel sneered. “Enough! You shall dwell in a dungeon cell, exactly as you proposed for Chopstick, until I think of a more suitable fate for you.” He turned to the three geisha girls. “You shall go free if you agree to serve me.”
“I wouldn’t serve you if you were waiting at the bar all night, you big jerk,” Cordelia said.
“Me neither,” said Amber.
“I will,” Harmony said. She smiled at Angel.
“You traitor, Harmony-san!” Cordelia spat.
Harmony shrugged. “If he’s the one with the power, I’m good with that.” She bowed to Angel. “I shall serve you faithfully, Angel-sama. You can totally have confidence in me.”
“Release her,” Angel ordered. “Only one geisha. Oh well, it’s a start. At least we can have tea ceremonies.”
“I shall bring my dollies to the palace,” Drusilla said. “We can have a tea ceremony for Miss Edith.”
“Yeah, you two can have a chimpanzees’ tea ceremony,” Xander muttered.
The captives were dragged away and thrown into dungeons. The soldiers of the Sunnydale Self-Defense Force were mustered and informed of the change in management. With their leaders gone they dared not face the fierce ronin and acceded to the situation.
“Bring me Buffy,” Angel ordered them, in his first proclamation as Shogun. “She can be my second geisha.”
Harmony pouted. “Hey, she’s not trained as a geisha,” she pointed out. “We have a deal. She doesn’t carry out tea ceremonies and boink – entertain important noblemen, and I don’t kick people in the teeth and chop their heads off.”
“She’s done the boinking part,” Angel smirked. “You can teach her the rest. You are the new senior geisha, remember?”
“You boinked Buffy?” Harmony’s forehead creased up. “And now you’re just gonna make her a geisha?”
“I’m back with Drusilla now,” Angel said. “You got a problem with that? I thought you didn’t like Buffy.”
“I don’t,” Harmony said. “I’m cool with that. I’m cool. Hey, if I’m gonna teach her, can I call myself Sensei?”
The ninja who had taken particular note of Drusilla’s announcement that Chopstick was still alive had been lurking at the back ever since, avoiding possible confrontations, and merely observing. Whilst Angel and Drusilla’s attention was engaged elsewhere he slipped away. “So, Chopstick-sama lives,” he whispered to himself, “and his lady has betrayed him. I must seek out my master and aid him.” Dalton scuttled from shadow to shadow and left the castle.
“What did you go and leave that loophole for?” Xander complained to the fallen Shogun as they sat in the dungeon cell. “Forgive me, Giles-sama, but that thing about not deflowering virgins was a pretty dumb clause to put into the contract of a hunky guy.”
“I was thinking of Buffy,” Giles explained. “I regard her almost as a daughter, and I really didn’t want someone who started off in life as a criminal to take advantage of her, even if he was a great warrior in my service.”
“Point,” Xander admitted. “What about the sole clause? I mean, that thing about not touching the ground with his bare feet. What was the point of that?”
“Well,” Giles explained, “I have an absolute horror of veruccas and Athlete’s Foot.”