A Kingly Crown to Gain.By Dave Turner.
Disclaimer: I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon and Mutant Enemy) or ‘The Man Who Would Be King’; directed by John Huston, written by John Huston and Gladys Hill based on a story by Rudyard Kipling. Neither do I claim authorship of any scripted dialogue that may appear in this fic. I write these stories for fun not profit.
Crossover: The Man Who Would Be King.
Spelling, Punctuation, and Grammar; Written in glorious English-English. American and English idioms are used throughout this fic. I have used the Kafiri spellings given in the film sub-titles wherever possible.
Timeline: Another story in the ‘Faith Fell’ series.
Words: Seven Chapters of 2500+ words.
Warnings: Some strong language and violence.
Crossover: The Man Who Would Be King xover. Faith plummets from her apartment in Sunnydale; she lands in northern Afghanistan and it’s the late 1880’s. Here she meets up with two Englishmen who are looking for riches and a kingly crown.0=0=0=0The Son of God goes forth to war,
A kingly crown to gain;
His blood red banner streams afar:
Who follows in his train?
Who best can drink his cup of woe,
Triumphant over pain,
Who patient bears his cross below,
He follows in his train.
Words: Reginald Heber, 1812. Music: Henry Cutler, 1872.0=0=0=0Lahore, 1889.
The correspondent of the Northern Star sat in his office late one night trying to write poetry. A bead of sweat fell from his forehead and landed on the paper smudging the ink. Annoyed more than angry, for only an insane man would get angry at the inescapable Indian heat, Kipling blotted up the ink and sweat. He never noticed the lantern flicker or his papers rustle as a window opened and closed silently somewhere in the building. Moments later a voice made him start up from his work.
“Brother Kipling?” A figure dressed in rags stepped out of the shadow to stand next to Kipling’s desk and put down a heavy looking pack.
Turning to confront the intruder, who he’d not noticed creeping into his office, Kipling paused as he realised the figure was that of a white woman dressed in the rags of some hill tribesman.
“Ya don’t know me,” the woman sat down keeping one side of her face turned away from the light and in shadow, a long exhausted sigh escaped her chapped lips; she nodded at the bottle of whiskey that sat on top of a pile of papers on Kipling’s desk, “Give me a drink.”
“No, I don't know you.” Kipling replied softly not wanting to scare this apparition away, “Who are you? What can I do for you?”
“I told ya,” the woman gave a bitter chuckle, “give me a drink. It was all settled right here in this office.” The woman looked around, “Remember?”
Intrigued, Kipling got up, poured a measure of whiskey into a glass and handed it to the woman. She took the glass in hands that trembled and were missing several fingers; she drank the whiskey in one gulp. Pausing as if to gather her thoughts the woman sat silent for a moment or two.
“Danny and Peachy signed a contract, and you witnessed it. You stood over there,” the woman pointed to the far side of the office, “Peachy stood there,” the woman paused again, “poor Peachy,” she shook her head sadly, “and Daniel stood here. Or so they told me later. Remember?”
“Of course,” Kipling gasped and looked away from the woman as he remembered those events from three summers and a thousand years ago.
“Keep looking at me,” the woman interrupted Kipling’s thoughts, “It helps to keep my soul from flying away.”
”Who are you?” Kipling asked as he refilled the woman’s glass.
“Faith,” the woman’s voice cracked a little with emotion, “Faith Lehane…I’ve not used that name inna while,” she smiled showing broken teeth, “lots of things I’ve not used inna while…but ya don’t wanna hear about that, you wanna hear about Danny an’ Peachy. But, y’know ya gonna have to listen to some of my story ‘til we get to Danny and Peachy.”0=0=0=0 Three summers and a thousand years previously.
Landing with a bone jarring *THUMP!*, Faith groaned as she writhed in the dust. It was bright, too bright. It had been night only seconds before, a foolish thought entered her mind; perhaps she’d fallen so far that the sun had come up while she’d been plummeting into what was so obviously hell. It was hot and the light was too dazzling and there were voices jabbering in some weird language that she couldn’t place, not that she’d understand it anyway.
Her head spinning, Faith climbed drunkenly to her feet and staggered as she tried to regain her balance. Her eyes watered when she tried to open them reducing the figures that swarmed around her to indistinct blurs. Rough hands reached out to her and pulled at her clothes. Lashing out automatically, Faith felt a bone break under her hand and a strangely human scream as at least one of the figures whirled away from her. This seemed to be the signal for a general melee to begin.
Hands grabbed for her and bodies crashed into her’s as Faith fought to keep her footing. She knew instinctively that if she fell, slayer strength or not, she’d surely die. So she parried blows as best as she could while breaking bones whenever she got the chance. After a minute or two, which had felt decidedly longer, the crowd backed off once again. Taking the opportunity offered, Faith blinked her eyes clear.
Having now got her eyes open and able to focus again, Faith chose not to believe what she was seeing. She wasn’t in Sunnydale, neither was she in hell, the lack of flames and demons with pitchforks spoke for that. No, if she believed her eyes, she was in some mud walled village under a hot sun that shone down from a clear light blue sky. Around her stood a dozen or more bearded men dressed in what she could only describe as rags. Each wore more rags around their heads and rough sandals on their feet. What was more important, they were all looking at Faith and didn’t appear too pleased at what they were seeing. That might have something to do with the half dozen men who either crawled away from the group or lay groaning in the dust.
“Hey!” Faith smiled insolently as she raised her fists and bounced lightly on the balls of her feet, “Maybe we could talk about this,” she gave the men her most evil smile, “or maybe I could just beat the living crap outta ya!”
There was a commotion at the back of the crowd as Faith saw a man at least a head taller than the tallest man in the group threatening her, push his way through the mob until he was standing in front of her. He looked down on her and sneered, saying something to the men behind him that made them laugh nervously. Even Faith with her poor social skills could tell that the mob were afraid of this guy, an idea bubbled to the surface of her mind like a three week old corpse from a swamp. If she took out this jerk maybe the others would think twice about attacking her and she could work out what the fuck was going on!
The big guy was dressed in better quality rags over which he wore a studded leather jacket, he drew a long single edge sword from the scabbard on his hip and advanced on Faith raising his arm ready to strike. Judging her time perfectly, Faith stepped inside the man’s killing zone and slammed into him back first. She heard the breath whistle out of his lungs as she jabbed him in the stomach with her elbow. As his arm continued in the swing that was supposed to cut her in two, she grabbed hold of the man’s sword arm. Bending the arm back against the elbow join, Faith kept pushing up with her right hand while pulling down on his sword hand with her left.
With a satisfied grin, Faith heard the man’s elbow break, he screamed like a girl as he dropped his sword from his lifeless fingers. Snatching the weapon out of mid air, Faith turned, bringing the sword around and up towards the man’s neck. There was a shocked gasp as, Faith felt the sword bite into the man’s neck sending vibrations up her arm. With a feeling of almost sexual satisfaction, she watched as the man’s head spun away to land in the dust at the feet of the now terrified mob.
Yammering excitedly in their weird language the mob backed off leaving Faith the mistress of the field. Given a breather, Faith took the opportunity to take in a little more of her surrounding. The buildings around her looked Arabic or like something she’d seen in pictures in her bible when she was little. She was standing in the middle of a small dusty square with a few market stalls standing in the shade around the periphery.
After taking a deep breath, Faith hawked and spat into the dust. The place stank of shit, rotting meat, animals and people who had a bath once a month whether they needed it or not. Trying to decide which would be the best way to run, she looked down the narrow alleys that led off the square, one looked no better than the other. None of them looked as if they led to hot showers, good food and the American Embassy. Now she’d had time to think a little, Faith decided she must have been transported to the middle east somehow. All she had to do was find the American Embassy or Army and phone the Mayor then she’d be on her way home.
The already frightened men in front of her took another couple of paces back from her at the sound of a voice approaching from behind her. Turning, Faith found herself face to face with a short, old woman in black robes. Faith didn’t know what the woman was saying, but she could tell by the sound of her voice that the old woman was giving the men shit; lashing them with her tongue making them cower in fear and shame.
Coming to the end of her tirade, the old woman looked up into Faith’s face. She tugged at Faith’s arm as she said something that sounded kind. Letting the woman hold on to her hand Faith allowed herself to be towed away from the blood flecked square by the little old woman who seemed totally unafraid of her. She acted as if strange, young, warrior women fell from the sky every day.0=0=0=0
As the weeks elapsed and turned into months, Faith slowly and painfully learnt the local language. She discovered she was in the village of, Er-Heb in a country called Kafiristan. Banu, the old woman who’d taken her in, professed no knowledge of any country called ‘America’. But then again as she freely admitted; she was an ignorant village woman. She would shrug her shoulders, laugh and say that this America place that Faith wanted to go to could be in the next valley for all she knew. Faith would smile, she actually liked the old woman and not just because she’d looked after her. Faith found she really enjoyed being around the old woman. It was like having a kind and slightly disreputable grandmother who cackled as she drank beer and told her about the short comings of the young men of her youth.
As she integrated with the community, Faith found that the villagers were scared, in fact most things scared them. Faith scared them, a goat stuck in a bush in the night scared them, the people from the village down the valley scared them. The Kafiris believed that they were living in a world surrounded by demons and enemies. Where most people would have tried to educate the villages that the demons they saw were just shadows in the night, Faith saw it as an opportunity.
Taking the sword that she’d won in the fight with the big guy on her first day, Faith told the villagers that she would go out and slay the demons that terrorised them. Amid much disbelief the villagers watched as Faith marched out of the village gate late one evening and into the hills. The only person, Faith noted, who cried at her leaving and tried to stop her was Banu; everyone else looked slightly relieved that she was going to her certain death.
The villagers changed their tune the following morning when Faith stood outside the village walls with blood on her sword and a sardonic smile on her face. Yes, she told the gullible villagers, she had killed the demon that took their goats (it had actually been a pack of wild dogs, but Faith knew when she was on to a good thing so didn’t say). However, there were more demons that even she suspected and it would take some time for her to kill them all.
From that day forward the attitude of the villagers changed towards her. Instead of seeing her as some demon who’d come to kill them all as they slept. They decided she must be some minor goddess that had fallen from heaven who’d come to save them from their enemies. They gave her gifts of weapons and clothes, they donated food to Banu so she could feed Faith in a manner befitting a goddess, even the Headman, Ootah came to pay his respects and offer her a job.
While accepting that Faith was a goddess and had obviously been sent to save them from the horrors that stalked the night. Ootah (a cowardly little man) wondered if the goddess couldn’t find time in her busy schedule to do some work for him. Faith eyed the little man with distain, she’d never liked the way he looked at her; he reminded her too much of one or two of her mother’s more freaky boyfriends.
As it turned out, Ootah simply wanted her to kill what in more sophisticated societies would be termed his political rivals. Faith told him that while being open to the idea she would reserve the right to refuse any job he might give her. She was a goddess after all and a free agent, she wouldn’t work just for him. As it turned out, Faith kept any ‘wet work’ to people outside the village. She reasoned that if the villagers discovered her killing people for Ootah her position as local goddess and saviour could be jeopardised.
Time past slowly as Faith became more and more part of the local scene. Every few days she’d spend an uncomfortable night out on the surrounding mountains hunting ‘demons’. Once or twice she did actually run across the occasional vampire or demon. But they were always no match for her and she would quickly kill them. Any demons that didn’t turn to gunk once slayed she’d skin and take the hide back to the village (she’d explained how most demons turned to gunk which was why no one ever found any bodies) demon hides were much sort after and very valuable.
It was the summer of the year after she’d first appeared that Faith was sitting in front of Banu’s house where she still lived, when she heard gunfire. For a moment the blood froze in her veins; she’d not heard gunfire in all the time she’d been in Kafiristan. When questioned the villagers had no knowledge of firearms and seemed to think they were some sort of weapon of the gods. Buckling on her sword belt, Faith walked briskly towards the gate in the village wall.
Here she was almost trampled underfoot by a pack of panicking women. Grabbing the woman who usually did her laundry, Faith tried to question her. Through the woman’s terrified ramblings, Faith picked out the words that suggested she wasn’t the only god in town. The women had been washing clothes and bathing up-steam from village when they’d been attacked by a horde of demons. This Faith knew this probably meant raiders from one of the nearby villages.
As the ‘demons’ were carrying off the women a noise like thunder had come from the hills and the demons had started to fall from their horses; then two gods had appeared. Faith got the woman to describe these gods; she said that they were dressed in fine clothes and had pale skin like Faith’s. They had whiskers like normal men but they carried staffs that they would point at a demon; there would be a bang a flash and a cloud of white smoke then a demon would fall to the ground, dead.
Thinking that her time being a goddess was near its end, Faith made her way up to the battlements were the village warriors blew trumpets, banged gongs and beat drums. All this noise was supposed to frighten away the demons/gods. Looking down the path that led from the village to the river, Faith saw two European men with rifles over there shoulders drag a third local man towards the village. Before she could say anything to stop them the warriors sent a volley of arrows towards the Europeans.0=0=0=0