7.Four Months Later.
“He wanted me to bow!” Faith complained as she rolled over and laid her head on Peachy’s chest.
“‘e wot?” Peach raised his head off the pillow and looked down at Faith.
“Danny,” Faith shifted herself around so she could see Peachy’s face, “he wanted me to bow or curtsy or whatever.”
“So,” Peachy laughed, “wot did you tell him?”
“I told him he was an asshole, and hey!” Faith punched Peachy’s arm reasonably gently, “This ain’t no laughing matter…he’s gonna get us all killed, Peachy.”
“Killed?” Peachy rubbed his arm where Faith had hit him and then went back to stroking her hair, “Danny wouldn’t let anything like that happen.”
“The priests don’t like him getting married,” Faith pointed out, “they say a god can’t marry a mortal.”
“You know as well as I do, Faithie,” Peachy rested his hand on Faith’s shoulder, “Daniel Dravot Esquire is no more a god than you or I.”
“I know that,” Faith sounded uncharacteristically worried, “you know that, but the priests don’t an’ they’re still the power in the land whatever Danny might think.”
“That’s unusually astute of you,” Peachy lifted Faith’s chin so he could see her face properly; seeing her puzzled expression he added, “Just checking it’s actually still you.”
“Hey,” Faith pulled her head away and rested it once more on Peachy’s chest, “I’m not stupid y’know. Didn’t you see the look on the old man’s face when that Roxanne chick turned up yesterday?”
“Aye,” Peachy sighed, “that I did an’ he didn’t look best pleased.”
In fact the high priest of all Kafiristan had looked really ticked off.
“Can’t we leave yet?” Faith let her hand drift down between Peachy’s legs.
“Not for a couple of more weeks,” Peachy gasped at Faith’s touch. “Woman,” he lay back as Faith climbed on top of him, “aren’t you ever satisfied?”
“What can I say?” Faith grinned down at Peachy, “I’m a healthy girl with a lot of energy to work off.”
“You can say that again,” Peachy rested his hands on Faith’s hips.
“Are ya complaining?” Faith looked down at her lover challenging him to say ‘yes’.
“No!” Peachy smiled lazily, “Wot me complain? Never ‘appen!”0=0=0=0
Opening the door to Daniel’s private chamber, Peachy almost ran across the room to look out the window.
“Look Danny!” Peachy pointed excitedly at the geese flying overhead, “The geese, skeins of ‘em all flyin’ north.” He added excitedly, “Another fortnight and the pass’ll be open. What we ought to do is make camp high up in the mountains and wait on the weather!”
Turning to face his old comrade, Peachy saw how Daniel sat in his throne-like chair clutching that bloody arrow of his and staring unseeingly off into the distance. Danny sighed and shook his head, Faith was right, if they weren’t careful Danny would get them all killed; he’d have to try and talk Danny round. There was a long pause before Daniel spoke.
“I ain’t goin’, Peachy,” Daniel’s voice was almost a whisper as he lifted his head to look at Peachy.
“Wot?” Although Peachy’d suspected Daniel would say something like this it had still came as a shock when it actually happened.
“You heard me,” Daniel turned away from his friend and went back to studying the wall.
“‘ave you gone barmy?” Peachy smiled and tried to make light of the situation.
“I see things clear,” Daniel’s voice took on a more forceful tone. “I’m staying here to rule the country and take Roxanne as my wife.”
“What about the contract?” Peachy demanded.
“The contract only lasted until we was kings,” Daniel pointed his arrow at Peachy, “and king I’ve been for these last four months. The first king here since Alexander, the first king this country's had in twenty-two-hundred and…and…”
“Fourteen,” Peachy supplied.
“Twenty-two-hundred and fourteen years!,” Daniel stood up, “Him and now me! They call me his son and I am…in spirit at least.”
“You need a physic!” Peachy could see it all clear as day, Daniel had gone completely and utterly insane.
“I’m fair disappointed in you Peachy,” Daniel shook his head sadly. “You of all men who’ve followed me from the very beginning.”
“Followed you!” Peachy exclaimed, “Who was it who ‘ad to be pulled along behind the mule? Tell me that?” Peachy took a deep breath and controlled his temper, “Danny,” he smiled, “we’ve had a rare stroke of luck. Let’s quit winners for once. Cut an’ run while the runnings good.”
“You call it luck,” Daniel replied gravely, “I call it destiny.”
“HA! HA!” Peachy laughed but there was no humour in his voice, “Pardon me while I fall down laughing.”
True to his word Peachy fell down and started to laugh, Daniel turned on him angrily.
“Whatever you think,” Daniel pointed his arrow, “I’m a king and you’re my subject! So don’t you provoke me Peachy Carnahan!”
“Or you’ll do what?” Peachy jumped angrily to his feet, “What’ll you do, eh?”
Daniel almost struck Peachy with his arrow but managed to stop himself before the blow was even begun.
“You have my permission,” Daniel said slowly and deliberately, “to bugger off,” he pointed to the door.
“An’ that I will,” Peachy said from between clenched teeth, “with or without your permission…an’ may you rot in hell Daniel Dravot.”
With that parting shot, Peachy stormed out of the room.0=0=0=0
“FAITH!” Peachy burst into the apartment he shared with Faith, he saw her by the window sharpening her sword, “Pack y’bags…we’re leavin’!”
Jumping up, Faith ran across the room and threw her arms around Peachy’s neck and kissed him. When he didn’t respond she pulled away from his lips and looked into his eyes.
“Bad was it?” she asked.
“Bleedin’ terrible,” agreed Peachy, “I don’t know wot’s come over ‘im I don’t. This king thing’s gone right to ‘is ‘ead.”
“Yeah, right,” Faith let go of Peachy; she’d never had a good friend like Daniel had been for Peachy so she didn’t know what it was like to be betrayed like that. “I’ve got some mules just outside the city with the riflemen,” Faith instinctively changed the subject. “We can load up today and be gone by first light.”
“Yes,” Peachy’s head drooped between his shoulders, “you get the mules organised, I’ll sort out the treasure and supplies…Damn it Faithie!” Peachy looked up a tortured expression on his face, “Once, just once why couldn’t ‘e go through with the plan an’ walk away?”
Not knowing what to say Faith just shrugged and said, “I’ll go get the mules ready.”
She walked out of the room leaving Peachy to his own thoughts.0=0=0=0
“Well Danny,” Peachy walked into Daniel’s chamber that evening and stood watching his old friend as he sat on his throne, Daniel looked up at his comrade of many years. “The time has come, as the saying goes.”
“When do you leave?” Daniel asked.
“At first light,” Peachy paused for a moment before saying, “I thought you might like to take a look in the boxes before I nail ‘em shut, see wot I’m taking.”
“Take what you like,” Daniel, having had time to think about his outburst that morning regretted every word he’d said.
“I weighed the gold out, pound for pound,” explained Peachy, “the jewels ounce for ounce.”
“Right,” Daniel stood uncomfortably in front of Peachy.
“Me an' Faithie want to take all the riflemen to see us through the pass, if that’s alright with you?”
“Take ‘em,” Daniel nodded, “take ‘em.”
The sound of wailing came in through the window from the courtyard outside.
“God’s ‘oly trousers,” Peachy sighed and walked over to the window, “wot’s that noise?”
“Um,” Daniel hesitated before explaining, “that’s Roxanne and her relatives preparing for the wedding…” Daniel smiled half-heartedly, “they still think she’s goin’ to burst into flames on our wedding night.”
“They’re savages ‘ere, one an’ all,” Peachy felt duty bound to try and persuade his old friend to come with him, “leave them to slaughtering babes and playing stick and ball with men’s ‘eads and pissing on their neighbours.” Peachy turned away from the window, “Please Danny…for the last time of asking, come back with Faithie an’ me.”
“For the last time of answering,” Daniel shook his head, “I won’t…Peachy, I know you’ve got my best interests at heart…”
“Well,” Peachy didn’t let Daniel finish, he knew what would happen if he had to listen to Daniel’s excuses again and he didn’t want to part with anger in his heart. “I’ll be seeing you then. In London maybe…when the Queen gives you the Order of the Garter.”
The two men shook hands; Peachy turned and headed for the door.
“Peachy!” Daniel called; Peachy turned hoping that his friend had changed his mind. “I’m to be married midmorning, could you not wait and leave after the wedding, for old time’s sake?”
“If you like,” sadly, Peachy turned away once more and headed back to Faith.0=0=0=0
The sky was a clear, bright blue as Faith and Peachy stood behind Daniel at the top of the stairs above the square. The plaza itself was full of novice monks and priests behind whom stood crowds of locals, no doubt come to see the bride burst into flames. Faith eyed the crowd not exactly fearfully but with a certain unease. Before they’d left their apartment she and Peachy had made love, now she had the feeling that it would be for the last time.
Over the months she stamped down on her slayer instincts trying to be as normal as she knew how for Peachy’s sake at least. But just recently the slayer dreams had come again and they couldn’t be ignored. This was why she’d urged Peachy to leave, at one point she’d considered leaving by herself, but… But, she couldn’t do that, she had something with Peachy, something she’d looked for all her life. She’d found it once with her watcher; a rock to anchor herself to in the stormy sea of life. Her watcher had been taken from her and she’d drifted until she came to Sunnydale. For awhile she’d thought Buffy and her friends might be the ones, but they’d betrayed her in the end. Then there’d been the Mayor, but she’d lost him too…now there was Peachy and it looked like she was going to lose him as well.
Horns and cymbals made a discordant noise as Roxanne was led from a building at the far end of the square along the flower strewn path between two lines of monks. Up at the top of the stairs, Faith turned to watch the high priest and his henchmen, if there was going to be any trouble that’s where it’d start. Faith smiled for the first time that morning; if the old guy tried anything she’d snap his neck like a dry twig.
A crowd of black clad women swarmed around Roxanne like a flock of old crows, wailing and gibbering as they banged on drums and cymbals. They more or less pushed the young woman, resplendent in her white and gold bridal gown, up the stairs towards Daniel. As she climbed unsteadily up the long stone stairway, Faith could see her eyes, the girl was drugged up to the eyeballs. Obviously the only way they could get her to go through with the ceremony.
Sitting on his throne, Daniel waited with his crown upon his head and a purple cloak over his shoulder for his bride to arrive. As the girl made it to the top of the steps he turned and passed his arrow to Faith. Standing he stepped forward and took Roxanne by the hand. Faith noticed that even drugged the girl still flinched at Daniel’s touch, wondering why Daniel couldn’t see why this was a really bad idea, Faith waited for all hell to break loose.
“Peachy the ring,” Daniel called out as he guided Roxanne over to stand next to him; Peachy handed him the wedding ring. “I, Sikander the Second,” Daniel called out over the sound of the drums and horns, “hereby take thee, Roxanne, to be my lawful wedded wife and Queen of Kafiristan, SALAH!”
It was then that what Faith had feared would happen, happened. Daniel bent towards the girl to kiss her on the cheek; he cried out in pain and jerked his head away from her, there was blood on his face.
“She bit me!” Daniel looked at the blood on his hand from off his face, “The slut bit me!”
The high priest took a step towards Daniel and placed his hand on Danny’s cheek. He took it away and looked at the blood. Unfortunately there were too many people between Faith and the priest for her to stop him as he started to shout and hold his bloody hand in the air for all to see.
“What’s he saying, Faithie?” Peachy could guess but he wanted Faith to translate so he could be sure.
“They know!” Faith started to try and push Peachy towards the steps and possible safety, “He’s not a god, not a devil, they know he’s a man! Come on lets get outta here!”
“They’ve twigged it Danny,” Peachy pulled his arm away from Faith and stood in front of Daniel, “You’ve ‘ad it!”
They looked around as the crowd started to become restless as they realised something was wrong.
“The jigs up,” Peachy started to pull on Daniel’s sleeve, even now he wouldn’t admit to himself that it’d all gone wrong.
“Come on!” Faith pleaded edging towards the steps her earlier ideas about mayhem forgotten.
“I, SIKANDER…” Danny cried still thinking he could talk his way out of trouble.
“For god’s sake!” Peachy grabbed hold of Daniel and pulled him towards where Faith stood on the top step. “We’ve gotta brass it out!” Peachy explained urgently as the crowd started to hum like a swarm of angry bees, “Brass it out!”
Giving Danny’s arm a tug the three of them marched down the steps towards the crowd. Seeing a clear area, Faith and Peachy guided Danny towards that; once at the bottom of the steps Danny appeared to get a hold of himself. He stood up straight, head held high and shoulders back, just like Peachy. Copying the two men, Faith fell into step beside them as they headed for the exit on the far side of the square.
“Bags of swank!” Ordered Peachy as the marched briskly past the crowd.
As they entered the passageway that would lead to the city gate the crowd exploded behind them. Yelling and screaming in fury the priests, monks and tribesmen chased off after the three fugitives who were now running for their lives.
“We’ll get the riflemen,” cried Daniel as he dumped his purple cloak, “and come back and slaughter the dogs!”
On they ran with the angry mob not far behind them until they burst out of the city gate to find the riflemen waiting for them.
“A drenching in their own blood, that’s what we’ll give them,” cried Daniel crown still on his head, “Riflemen! Prepare to advance!”
“No time for that Danny,” Peachy pulled spare rifles and bandoliers from off the back of a pack mule, “there’s too many of ‘em,” he handed Faith her rifle, “Faith, retire by sections.”
Nodding, Faith slipped a cartridge into her rifle and got the riflemen organised into two ranks. Just as she looked back towards the gate the first of the mob burst from the city.
“FRONT RANK!” she cried, “FIRE!” the volley cut down the first rank of the mob, “RETIRE!”
The first rank of riflemen retired through the second rank who now became the first rank.
“FRONT RANK, FIRE!” again the rifles thundered cutting down monks and tribesmen alike, but still they came on.
“THIS ISN’T GONNA WORK!” she shouted to Peachy as he and Daniel took pot-shots at the advancing mob.
“RETIRE IN SKIRMISH ORDER!” Yelled Peachy as he backed away and reloaded his rifle.
The neatly ordered ranks of riflemen dissolved into two man teams who fired and retired as the mob pressed ever closer. Monks fell as the big soft lead slugs tore into their bodies, but there were always more to take their place. For a while Faith held their pursuers at a ruined house where the riflemen could fire from cover, safe from the thrown stones of the mob. Unfortunately some of the natives worked their way around the position and fell on the riflemen from the flank.
Men were beaten to death by stone wielding monks and tribesman, all order was lost and Faith, Daniel and Peachy found themselves retreating to the top of a small hill. The last of the riflemen were beaten to the ground and torn apart by the Kafiris as the three survivors kept firing into the mob trying to stave off the inevitable.
“FAITH!” Peachy screamed as he ran towards where she stood, “Mount a mule and ride! There’s a chance you’ll make it!”
“NO CHANCE!” Faith shot down another Kafiri, “I’m not leaving you, not now I’ve found you…” with a quick movement of her hand Faith dashed away the tear that had appeared in her eye; she reloaded and fired again.
“Please Faithie,” begged Peachy, “get out of here!”
“No way, man,” Faith found herself smiling, “if I’m gonna die I’m gonna die here, with you.” Loading her last round she shot down one last priest, “I’m out!”
“Me too,” Daniel reversed his rifle and waited to use it like a club.
“That’s it then,” Peachy hefted his rifle ready to go down fighting.
All around the little group the Kafiris stood in silence waiting for the signal to tear the king and his friends apart.
“Faith, Peachy, I’m heartily ashamed for getting you both killed,” Daniel said as the mob slowly got nearer.
“Fuckin’ right,” Faith couldn’t find it in her heart to forgive the man; she didn’t know if what she and Peachy had would’ve lasted, but she’d liked to have found out. “Look,” Faith threw away her useless rifle and drew her sword, “I’m not waiting here to die…its not my way,” she took a deep breath, “it’s not the slayer way.”
“What are goin’ to do?” Peachy asked.
“This!” throwing her free arm around Peachy’s neck she kissed him one last time, breaking away she gazed up into his eye’s and grinned, “I’m gonna make their eyes water!”
With a blood curdling scream of hate and anger, Faith charged into the mob, leaving Danny and Peachy on the hill.0=0=0=0Lahore, 1889.
“I didn’t stop until I cut my way right through the fuckers,” Faith cackled at the shocked expression on Kipling’s face. “Of course by the time I got through the bastards I wasn’t near as pretty as I was before.”
Holding up her hands with their missing fingers, Faith pulled back her filthy, lank hair from her face to show the livid, red scar that ran across her cheek and through one sightless eye. Kipling reached for his glass and downed the whisky it contained, then after a moment’s hesitation he refilled Faith’s glass and his own from the bottle. The lantern light flickered as Faith took a sip of the strong liquor and nodded her thanks.
“What happened to Daniel and Peachy?” Kipling asked almost fearing the answer.
“Daniel?” Faith smiled as she held her glass in trembling hands, “They put him on the bridge outside the city and cut it down, and old Danny fell, ‘round and ‘round and ‘round like a penny whirligig. Twenty-thousand miles coz it took him half an hour to fall before he hit the rocks.”
Remaining silent for a moment, Faith could see Danny fall, spinning to his death at the bottom of the chasm.
“And you know what they did to my Peachy? Peachy who’d never done them any harm,” Faith’s voice started to crack for the first time as she told her tale, “they crucified him, sir, between two pine trees.” Sobbing Faith buried her face in her ruined hands. “He screamed and he screamed, it took him two days to die.” Looking up she glared at Kipling with her one good eye, “I tried to get to him…I tried…I really tried…”
After breaking down, Faith slowly regained control of herself.
“By the time I could get to him and cut him down it was too late.” Faith sighed for her lost lover.
“An’ Faithie she came home in about a year,” Faith sipped once more at her whiskey, “and the mountains tried to fall on old Faithie,” she laughed sending chills down Kipling’s spine. “but she was quite safe; because Daniel walked before her and Peachy walked beside her…and Peachy never let go of Faithie’s hand and Faithie never let go of Daniel’s and Peachy’s heads.”
“Their heads?” gasped Kipling as he stared at the mad woman.
“You knew, Peachy Carnahan and Daniel Dravot Esquire, sir?” Faith stood up and took two bundles from the pack that rested next to her chair. “You knew the most worshipful Brothers…well, they became Kings of Kafiristan,” Faith placed the bundles on a table and started to unwrap them. “And that’s all there is to tell.” Faith picked up her pack and started to shuffle towards the door.
“I’ll be on my way now, sir,” Faith pulled the door open, “I’ve got urgent business in the town…I’ve gotta meet the mayor at the high school before the ceremony begins.”
Without a backward glance, Faith disappeared through the door and out into the night leaving Kipling to stare in wonder and horror at the heads of, Peachy Carnahan and Daniel Dravot Esquire. The End.