The Buffyverse rewritten as seventeenth-century Japan, full of samurai, and ninjas, and warrior monks. And, for some reason, marmalade sandwiches. This chapter is exactly 3,000 words. Rating R. Banner and icon by spikeshunny. Several people who usually comment on every chapter didn’t do so last time, and I discovered this morning that I had forgotten to put it into Memories, and so I think that some of you may have missed it. If you didn’t see the chapter posted on November 12th then check out Chapter 12 before you read this one.
Warren gazed at the sword hilt and his eyes widened. “Wow,” he breathed. “Celestial Fury.”
“Celestial Fury?” A deep crease appeared between Angel’s heavy brows. “I thought that it was the Honda Fireblade.”
“Same thing, dude,” Warren said. “Uh, I mean, Angel-sama the magnificent, all powerful Shogun, favored of Heaven.”
“That’s better,” said Angel. “A fine piece of deferring there. So, you know about swords?”
“Uh, sure thing, oh supreme one,” Warren said. “We’re totally into the history of all the great samurai and their weapons. Ogami Itto, Sanjuro, Zatôichi, Musashi, we know all about those dudes. Don’t we, guys?” He glanced to Jonathan and Andrew for confirmation but they were totally overawed in the presence of the Shogun and could only nod.
“Okay,” Angel said, “tell me about this sword. Especially about how to get it out of the statue.”
Warren swallowed hard. “Uh, yeah, right. Celestial Fury was forged a hundred years ago by the great sword-smith Soichiro Honda to be the personal weapon of Ogami Itto when he was the Lord High Executioner to Mitsubishi Shogun. It was lost during the Lone Wolf’s wanderings but turned up again in the hands of Sanjuro…” He continued for several minutes, telling Angel far more about the history of the Fireblade than the Shogun had ever wanted to know.
“Cut to the chase,” Angel growled at last. “What is this statue, Acathla, and how do I get the sword out of it?”
“Uh, right, great Shogun.” Warren took a deep breath. “Acathla is a city in a legendary world. The capital of Amn, in Faerûn. It’s full of treasure and magic swords. The statue must be a gateway to that world.”
Angel’s ears pricked up at the word ‘treasure’. “And I can open that gateway if I pull out the sword?”
“I guess so,” said Warren. “Like the haiku says, ‘For to enter Acathla, Remove katana’. The other line, ‘Wash your bloody hands’, uh, I think it means that you have to have blood on your hands before you can pull out the sword.”
“Hmm.” Angel lowered his hand to his Ôdachi and looked speculatively at Warren’s neck. Warren trembled.
A voice from outside the vault interrupted. “Olaf has returned, Lord Angel-sama, and he wishes to make his report.”
“I’ll be with him in a minute,” Angel called back. He took his hand away from the sword and Warren relaxed. “I’ll wait until the next time I execute someone,” Angel said. “Okay, thanks.” He pulled a purse of coins from his sash and handed it to Warren. “Right, peasant, you can get back to your workshop.”
Warren bowed low and forced a smile to his lips. Not a sincere smile, for the purse of coins was very small. “I thank you, oh magnificent one before whom the world trembles.”
“Now that’s what I call deferring,” Angel beamed. He turned to the bookshelves, grabbed a volume at random, and presented it to Warren. “Here is an extra gift. Now get the hell out of here.”
“At once, Angel-sama, greatest of Shoguns,” said Warren, and he scurried off with Andrew and Jonathan following close behind.
Once clear of the castle the other two apprentices recovered their voices. “I didn’t see any sign of a party,” Andrew said. “You think that Chopstick really wanted the armored baby-cart so he could dress up as Ogami Itto?”
“Who cares?” Warren shrugged. “Let’s just keep our mouths shut. We don’t want to get him pissed at us.” He shook the purse. “And hey, Shogun Angel don’t impress me much. I don’t think there’s even enough here to get us into The Bonze. Tightwad.”
“Uh, Warren,” Jonathan said, “isn’t the city in Amn called Athkatla and not Acathla?”
“Yeah, I guess,” Warren said. “But, what the hell, it’s close enough for Government work.”
“What’s that book that the Shogun gave you?” Andrew asked.
Warren put the purse away and took a look at the book. “Gaijin writing,” he said. He laboriously deciphered the title. “It’s called ‘Ye Scandalouf Doingf of ye Groom and ye Stable-maid. Illuftrated.’ That doesn’t sound promising.” He opened the book and gazed at a woodcut. His eyes bulged. “Wow. On second thoughts, this is pretty cool.”
“What is it?” Jonathan and Andrew chorused.
“Free stable porn!”
Giles and Xander sat in their prison cell. “This really is too much,” Giles complained. “Time passes heavily when I have nothing to read.”
“Let me entertain you,” offered Xander.
Giles shuddered. “I think that I have heard all your good jokes at least ten times over by now, and I have no desire to hear any more of your bad ones.” He scratched his head. “Perhaps a song will pass the time.”
“If you call for a song of the sea…” Xander began.
Giles made a chopping motion with his hand and Xander fell silent. “No, I think that I will do the singing,” said Giles.
“No one knows what it’s like
To be the Shogun
Sometimes it’s no fun
Behind stone walls…”
“I don’t trust you, Chopstick,” Buffy stated. “I’ll work with you, ‘cause I don’t have much choice, but as soon as we overthrow Angel and rescue Giles I want you out of Sunnydale.”
“Not gonna happen, Slayer,” Chopstick told her. “I’ve found my true love and I’m sticking at her side. Your side.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Just ‘cause I fixed your back doesn’t mean that I’m your true love. I told you I’m fully trained in massage.”
“And Doctor House of Flying Daggers said that if the wrong person did it, no matter how trained they were, it would just bugger my back up good and proper. Want to argue with him?”
Buffy’s eyebrows descended low and she stuck out her lower lip. She had heard of the eccentric ninja doctor. He was said to have a tongue sharper than the blade of a katana and to be extremely touchy with anyone who questioned his professional opinions. “I still want you out of Sunnydale,” she said. “True love or not. You’re an enemy of Giles anyway.”
“Got nothing against the bloke,” Chopstick said. “’Decent old stick, from what I gather. I’ve just got problems with the whole feudal thing of there being a supreme Shogun who can do whatever he bloody likes with no checks or balances. ‘S okay with a bloke like Giles in charge but it all goes tits up when a right bastard gets the job. Should be some system of elected representatives, keeping a brake on him, like the English gaijin brought in when they kicked out King James in the Glorious Revolution. Listen to Wesley some time. What I really want,” he explained, his eyes fixed on Buffy, “is to introduce a Diet.”
Buffy glowered at him. “Hey, are you saying I’m fat?”
Harmony tiptoed along the corridor. She heard Shogun Giles singing from one of the cells, hesitated briefly, and then decided to change her plan. She had intended to rescue Cordelia first but, if she freed the Shogun instead, he might be able to sway the palace guards back to their original allegiance.
She crept to the door of the cell, looked around nervously, and then slid the keys out of her sleeve. She tried the first key on the ring and winced as the other keys jingled slightly. It wouldn’t turn. She rejected that one and tried the next. There was some resistance but then she managed to turn the key. The door swung open. Giles’ song stopped in the middle of a line.
“Hey! Who is it?” Xander demanded from inside the cell.
“Shush,” Harmony hissed. “I’m getting you out.”
“Way to go, Harmony-san,” Xander praised in a whisper. “Come on, Giles-sama, let’s go.”
“Oh dear,” Giles said. “I’m afraid that my legs are extremely stiff from sitting on this cold stone floor. I’m not sure that I can walk.”
“Lean on me, Giles-sama,” Xander offered.
“I can totally fix your legs with a massage,” Harmony suggested.
“Thank you, my dear,” Giles said. “Xander-san, you go on ahead. Try to find me a sword.”
“Or you can set the others free.” Harmony passed the bunch of keys to Xander. “They’re just along the corridor.”
“An excellent suggestion, Harmony-san,” Giles said. “Xander-san, release Jenny and Willow. With their magical abilities at my command we might be able to do something against the usurper.”
Xander set off along the corridor towards the women’s cell but before he reached it he heard the ‘clop’ of several sets of sandals approaching rapidly. He ran the remaining steps to the door and thrust the first key into the lock. He looked back over his shoulder and saw armored guards running into view. He made one quick attempt to turn the key, realized that it was the wrong one, and gave up hope of freeing the prisoners before the guards arrived. He left the keys in the lock and fled around a corner.
“Oh, crap,” Harmony exclaimed, as two of Angel’s men appeared at the cell door and pointed spears at her and at Giles.
“Resistance is useless,” one of them boomed out. It was the first time that he had been able to use the phrase since he had joined the palace guard; under Giles’ benevolent regime he had been required to greet the citizenry with ‘how may I help you?’ Angel’s despotic rule was much more to his taste.
“Ah, yes, quite,” Giles agreed. “As I am presently unarmed and unable to walk properly I think that you may well be correct there.”
Drusilla stepped from behind the guards. “Naughty, naughty,” she scolded Harmony. “Taking away my nice dollies. That’s not allowed.” She opened her razor-edged fan. “I knew that you would betray us.”
Giles took a limping step forwards and stood in front of Harmony. “She is true to the rightful Shogun,” he said. “I will not let you harm her.”
Drusilla raised her eyebrows. “You could not stop me, foolish one. But it is not yet time for you to die. We have questions to ask you first.”
One of the guards brought Drusilla the keys, retrieved from the door of the women’s cell, and bowed as he handed them over. Drusilla gestured and the first guard pulled the door closed. “It’s too late for questions tonight,” Drusilla said. She locked the door. “Goodnight, Giles-san. I’ll probably kill you in the morning.”
Once Drusilla and the guards had departed Xander crept back to the cell and pressed his face against the grille set into the door. “Giles-sama, you okay?” he asked.
“Yes, thank you, Xander-san, other than being rather disappointed at not having escaped,” Giles said. “They don’t seem to have noticed your absence. We must make use of that.”
“It might be pretty hard to get hold of the keys again,” Xander said.
“Yeah, I had to give the head jailer a blow job so that I could get to pick his pocket,” Harmony revealed, “and I don’t think you’re his type.”
“Ah, yes, quite,” Giles said. “Perhaps it would be best if you escaped from the castle, Xander-san, and then you can raise the populace in revolt.”
“I don’t think that the peasants can do much against Angel’s men,” Xander pointed out. “We need Buffy. Unless she’s on Angel’s side.”
“She’s loyal,” Harmony told them. “I tried to warn her that Angel had gone bad, only she wouldn’t listen to me, but she escaped when his men ambushed her. Her and a gaijin girl from Peru who turned up looking for Giles-sama. She has some fancy moves.”
“A relative of my dear friend Lucy, undoubtedly,” Giles said. A smile of fond recollection came to his lips. “She could cross her ankles behind her head. I – ah, perhaps I should concentrate on more pertinent matters. Make your way to Buffy, Xander-san, and assist her in any way you can.”
Xander disappeared from their view as his low bow took him below the level of the grille. “Your wish is my command, Giles-sama,” he said. “I shall return.” He straightened up, turned, and scurried off.
Chopstick pushed the baby-cart and Buffy, Oz, and Dalton walked along beside him. “Don’t think I’m up to storming the castle tonight,” Chopstick admitted. “Not feeling at full strength by a long way. Could do with a night’s rest first.”
“Where?” Buffy asked. “We can’t stay at my place, ‘cause it’s the first place Angel would look for me, and your place burned down.”
“And we left dead guards littering up my pad,” said Oz. “I guess my pal Devon would put us up for the night.”
“’S okay, mate, I know a couple of places where we can hole up,” Chopstick said. He chewed on his lip. “Might be an idea to whittle Angel’s forces down a bit before we strike, seeing as how he’s got all my men plus most of Giles’. Could be that it’ll take us a day or two before we’re ready. We need a plan.” He looked at Dalton. “Got any ideas, Dalton-san?”
Dalton was gazing into the distance and he did not immediately reply.
“Tell me, Dalton-san,
Do you have a cunning plan
To defeat Angel?” Chopstick asked again.
Dalton jumped. “What did you say, Chopstick-sama?”
Chopstick frowned. “Not like you not to pay attention. What’s on your mind, mate?”
“Joyce Summers is a very beautiful woman, is she not?” Dalton said. “Tell me, Buffy-san, what of your father? I heard nothing of him whilst we were at your house.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Dad was a gaijin lieutenant,” she said, “and pretty much of a jerk. He stuck me with this dumb name, which is short for ‘Butterfly’, and then went back to England or Spain or whatever. Mom’s had him legally declared dead.”
A beaming smile spread across Dalton’s face for a moment and then he suppressed it and adopted an expression of sympathy. “I am sad for you, Buffy-san. Tell me, what sort of flowers does your mother like?”
“Cherry blossoms, same as everybody else,” said Buffy, “or maybe chrysanthemums. Why do you ask?”
“Oh, no reason,” Dalton said. “Idle curiosity.”
Chopstick snickered. “Right. So, no bright ideas for how to fight Angel, then?”
“Alas, not at the moment, Chopstick-sama,” Dalton lamented.
“Yeah, your mind is on other things. Okay, up to me then, innit? First thing is to make sure we’ve all got weapons. Plenty in the cart. Help yourselves.”
“I have my own sword,” said Buffy, “but it might be nice to have a naginata as well. You got any bows?”
“Sorry, no bows. Just the two harquebuses.”
“Too noisy,” Buffy criticized. “I’ll stick to shuriken for distance work.”
Chopstick nodded. “How about you, Oz-san?”
“I picked up a wakizashi and a spear from one of those guys that we ran over near Buffy’s house,” Oz said, “but they’re not quite my scene, dude. I’m more into the peasant weapons. The kama sickle is what I’m best with.”
“No problem,” Chopstick said. He scooped up the spear and short sword from the baby-cart, held the spear out, and chopped a section from it with the sword. He tossed away the long shaft and made a slit across the end of the foot-long piece that remained. He forced the sword blade into the slit, placed the assembly on the ground, and ran it over with the baby-cart. The armored vehicle snapped off the hilt of the sword leaving the blade embedded in the wood. “There you are, mate, sorted,” Chopstick said, handing the improvised sickle to Oz. “Instant kama.”
Xander crept into the kitchen. He hadn’t been able to get to the armory to steal a sword and he had decided that a kitchen knife would be the next best thing. Hardly had he entered the room when he heard footsteps approaching.
“I am hungry, and when I am hungry I grow short of patience,” a deep voice rumbled. “Feed me, cook, and quickly.”
“I shall serve you chazuke, Olaf-san, for you missed the main meal,” a second voice replied. “I can heat it up for you in mere moments.”
They were getting very close. Xander grabbed the closest kitchen implement and fled. Hardly had he gone when the kitchen’s other door opened and the cook entered. Olaf followed at his heels. The giant ronin looked around the kitchen and sniffed appreciatively. He saw a huge pan of rice and beamed.
“It’s a big wok,” Olaf commented. “I can’t wait to tell my friends. They don’t have a wok this big.”
The plaintive notes of a shakuhachi flute disturbed the quiet of the evening. Chopstick’s party turned their eyes towards the source of the music.
The flautist wore shabby brown robes and a basket-weave hat that came down low and obscured his face. He shuffled slowly into the path of the baby-cart, lowered the flute, and spoke. “Buffy Summers?”
Buffy put her hand on the hilt of her sword. “That’s me. Who are you? Uh, are you Flutie-san, who was the Chancellor before Snyder?”
The flautist pushed up the brim of his hat to reveal the face of a stranger. “Nope. The name is Whistler, kid, and I’ve been waiting for you.”
The jailer was dragged before the Shogun and forced to kneel. “Forgive me, great Shogun,” he pleaded. “I thought that the girl was trustworthy. I shall not make the same mistake again.”
“That’s right, you won’t,” Angel agreed. The sword swung up high and then swept down. Angel stepped aside to avoid the head as it rolled across the floor, sheathed his Ôdachi, and held out his hand into the spurting blood.
“Naughty Angel-kun,” Drusilla scolded him. “You have sheathed your sword without flipping away the blood. The scabbard will be all messy inside.”
“I won’t need this sword once I have Celestial Fury, the Honda Fireblade,” Angel said. He strode to the statue, took hold of the beautiful weapon with his bloody hand, and pulled.