“Oh the samurai and ninja they are fighting
With katanas and a little karate
But there isn’t any war when the clock strikes four
Everything stops for tea
Canon Travers sang as he poured out tea for the guards. Xander restricted himself to smiling, bowing, and nodding. Once everyone held a cup Xander bowed low. “Drink deep, honorable sirs,” he said.
“Bottoms up!” Travers urged. “Ah, that’s the bottoms of the tea-cups. It is merely an invitation to drink and not a gymnastic instruction.”
Most of the guards raised their cups and drank deeply. One held back. “Why do you not drink?” he asked.
“Alas, my religion forbids me to take tea in the presence of the heathen,” Travers explained.
“And, hey, I’m only a Taikomochi,” Xander said. “I don’t get to drink with actual warriors of Bushido. I’m way too low in rank for that.”
The samurai’s eyebrows descended and he stared at Xander. “But you drank with the former Shogun, did you not?” A clatter of china from one side distracted the samurai and he glanced aside. A yawning guard had dropped his cup and slumped over sideways. Another closed his eyes and lay down. A third toppled face first onto the lawn and began to snore. “Shimata!” exclaimed the samurai. “You have drugged them.” He rose to his feet and drew his katana.
Xander had no chance to dodge. The shining blade swept down towards his head. It struck Xander squarely on his wok helmet.
And bounced off. Xander lowered his head and butted the samurai on the chin. The warrior reeled back and collapsed unconscious.
“Are you all right, young man?” Travers asked.
“Yeah, Travers-san, I’m okay,” Xander replied. He grinned and rapped his knuckles on his improvised helmet. “Hard wok.”
“Hallelujah!”- - - - -
Giles, Harmony, and Cordelia pushed against the door of the vault. It wasn’t locked but something on the other side was preventing it from opening. Willow and Jenny chanted mystical phrases, trying to move the barrier magically, but without their herbs and amulets were unable to summon up enough power.
Suddenly the two witches were thrown aside as Drusilla burst into the room and shouldered them out of her way. The ninja nun raced across the room and attacked the Shogun and his geishas. She punched and kicked, driving them back, and then stood with her back to the door. “You shall not pass,” she declared, opening up her deadly fan. “The yurei warned me that you were on your way to harm my Angel. I will not allow that.”
“We’re merely trying to stop him from destroying the world, Drusilla-san,” Giles told her. “You can’t want to be ravished by tentacle demons, surely?”
Jenny glared at Drusilla. “Oh yes she can.”- - - - -
Angel recoiled from the tentacles as they emerged from Acathla. He drew the Fireblade and slashed. He severed one of the tentacles a foot from the tip and a section fell to the floor. The truncated end sagged for a moment, dripping ichor, but the flow stopped almost immediately. The tentacle reshaped itself, the flat end morphing into a rounded point with a small vertical slit, and it came on once more.
Angel wrinkled his nose in disgust and backed further away. He bent and heaved at the bookcase that he had used to block the entry to the vault, moving it away from the door enough to open up a narrow gap, and then a book that had fallen from the shelves caught his eye.
‘Acathla: Legend of the Overfiend’. He tugged at the bookcase for another second and then turned aside to snatch up the book. He stabbed the katana down into the books, leaving it sticking up close to his hand, and flipped the book open. “Index,” he muttered, thumbing through the pages. “How do I stop those things?”
He had to break off his reading to slash through a pair of tentacles that were winding around his legs and probing under the hem of his Shogunate robes. He replaced the sword and found his place again. “Acathla was stopped by a samurai known as the Perfect Warrior… the Fireblade, Celestial Fury, pierced Acathla’s chest and froze the demon into a state of stasis… removal of the sword will wake the demon… Yeah, right, I know all this now. So how do I fix it?”
He read on. “Once Acathla is awakened the Overfiend will emerge and everyone on Earth will be radished… Huh? Oh, yeah, that’s ravished. Ravished by the demon’s tentacles until they perish horribly. Only a sacrifice can stop the demon. So there is a way. Good. Oh. The one who withdraws the sword must die. His head must be cut off with Celestial Fury. Crap. I have to die? That’s not fair.”
Angel’s eyebrows descended into brooding position. “Just when I get to be Shogun, lord of all I survey, I have to lose everything. Including my head.” He shrugged. “Oh, well, I was in jail awaiting execution when I was offered the gig protecting the Shogun in the first place. I’m just back where I started. And decapitation with the world’s sharpest sword has to be better than being ravished to death by tentacle demons.”
He reached out to pick up the Fireblade once more. Before his fingers could close on the blade a tentacle shot out and wrapped around his wrist. Another fastened on his left arm. Two more tentacles curled around his ankles and tightened. He was trapped. His eyes widened as yet another tentacle touched his leg and then veered ominously upward.- - - - -
The rescuing force pushed their armored baby-cart round the last corner and into the chamber. Drusilla clapped her hands. “A dolly cart!” she exclaimed.
“A D’Oyly Carte?” Giles raised his eyebrows. “Perhaps so. ‘On a tree by a river a little tom tit, sang willow, tit willow, tit willow…”
“Hey! Shogun!” Willow cried. “Leave my tits alone.” She saw Oz among the new arrivals and beamed in delight.
“Oh,” said Giles. “I do beg your pardon. Very well, then. ‘The flowers that bloom in the spring, tra-la…”
“Have nothing to do with the case,” Drusilla cut him off. She slashed the air with her razor-edged fan. “I have not yet begun to fight.”
“Watch it, Shogun,” Chopstick advised. “She’s a mistress of Fanon.”
“Ah, Chopstick-san,” said Giles. “I understand that you have joined the forces of Good.”
“Always was on the side of Good,” Chopstick retorted. “Fighting to bring democracy to a land controlled by a hierarchical feudal system. That’s Good by definition, innit?”
Giles raised his eyebrows. “As the person at the apex of that hierarchical pyramid, and as one who has always striven to be benevolent and just, I could take issue with that,” he said. “Your ideals may be laudable in principle but determining the government on the basis of a popularity contest has perils of its own.”
“Sunnydale’s Next Shogun,” Buffy said. “Shogun Idol.” She sidled along the wall to outflank Drusilla.
Chopstick frowned. “Point, yeah, but s’ppose we had a constitutional Shogunate?”
Drusilla glared at Chopstick. “This stupid idealism of yours is what made me cast you aside,” she said. “I desire wealth and power. Angel understood that.” She stepped forward, away from the door, and waved her fan. “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend.”
“Still had to bloody trick Angel into ditching the Shogun and joining up with you, didn’t you, Dru-san?” Chopstick said. Buffy slipped behind Drusilla and managed to squeeze through the narrow gap where the door was partially open. “Anyway, all the best things in life are free.”
“You can give them to the birds and the bees,” Drusilla said. “I want money.”
“We’re wasting time here,” Giles said. “Perhaps we could debate politics and economics at some time when the world is not in imminent peril of destruction?”
Three tentacles, their tips bearing a remarkable resemblance to male genitalia, squirmed and wriggled through the doorway of the vault behind Drusilla. Giles raised his eyebrows. “Travers-san,” he said, “you are something of an artist, if I remember correctly. Would you be so good as to paint a picture of those tentacles? It would make a magnificent poster for the Kanamara Penis Festival.”- - - - -
Angel blinked his eyes. There wasn’t really anything else that he could do; the penis-headed tentacles had wrapped themselves around each of his wrists, had coiled around his neck, and one of them was probing at his mouth. He didn’t dare open it to speak.
“Can I say, eww?” Buffy groaned. She slashed the air in front of her to keep other tentacles at bay.
Angel waggled his eyebrows in a desperate attempt to signal Buffy. She frowned as she attempted to decipher his meaning. “I’m so not an expert at semaphore, but hey, I’ll try. Uh, Out… on the… wiley windy… moors… we’d roll and fall in green? You had a… temper… like my jealousy?”
Angel rolled his eyes, shook his head, and tried a different strategy. He blinked his eyes.
“Long, short, long, short, space. Short, short, long,” Buffy muttered as she puzzled over the pattern of blinks. “Long, long, short short short. C-u-t. Cut!” Her katana swished through the air as she severed a tentacle that was advancing towards her.
Angel nodded and then resumed his blinking. Long long, long short long long, pause. Short short short short, short, short long, long short short, pause, long long long, short short long short, short short long short, pause.
“M-y, space, h-e-a-d, space, o-f-f. My head off! Cut my head off!” Buffy smiled in triumph at her decoding feat and then the meaning sank in and she frowned. “Oh. Still, I guess it’s better than being tentacled to death. Close your eyes.”
Angel opened his mouth. The hovering tentacle moved to take advantage of the opportunity. Angel slammed his mouth closed again, in the nick of time, and blinked frantically.
“W-a-i-t,” Buffy deciphered the blinks. “I-t, space, h-a-s, space, t-o, space, b-e, space, w-i-t-h, space, t-h-e, space, h-o-n-d – with the Honda Fireblade!”
Angel rolled his eyes and nodded.
“I cracked it,” Buffy said, beaming. “Yay, go me!” The smile faded away as she remembered that she was still going to have to chop off the head of her first love. She sheathed her katana and picked up Celestial Fury from the bookcase. “Okay, back to where we were. Close your eyes.”- - - - -
“Time is running out,” Giles said. “We really have to get past Drusilla and stop Angel.”
“Shoot her,” Oz suggested. “Her Fanon won’t stop bullets.” Willow nodded vigorously.
Wesley frowned. “It seems rather unsporting,” he said. “Fair enough when we were outnumbered, but now that there are all of us against only one woman it would be positively un-English.”
“I am Peruvian,” Ampata reminded him. “I shall do it.” She raised a wheel-lock pistol.
Drusilla lowered her fan. “I shall surrender if you promise me a husband with wealth and status,” she addressed Giles. “Your Chamberlain, perhaps. Oh, yes, silly me. I had Chamberlain Snyder fed to the salamanders.”
Giles frowned. “Hmm. I’m not sure that I’m in a position to make such an offer,” he said. “I don’t have a son, and so you can’t be my daughter-in-law elect, and I don’t actually have the power to order my subjects to marry.”
“I’ll marry her,” Travers offered. He lowered his paint-brush. “I believe that I am of adequate status, I am moderately wealthy, and I must admit that I do find Drusilla rather attractive. That was a contributing factor to my willingness to assist her in her schemes.”
Drusilla’s brow furrowed as she sized up the Englishman. “You’re not quite what I had in mind,” she said, “You are a little old. And you’re a gaijin. But somehow I can’t say no.”
Travers smiled. “Of course,” he said. “Fanon must always give way to Canon.”- - - - -
The bookcase slid along the floor as the baby-cart slammed into the door. Xander and Chopstick pulled the cart back to give access to the doorway. Everyone rushed into the vault just as Buffy began her swing.
“Wait!” Giles yelled. “You have to use…”
Angel’s head fell from his shoulders and landed on the floor.
“…Celestial Fury,” Giles finished. “Oh. Too late. We are all…” The tentacles retreated, retracting back into the maw of Acathla, and the stone demon’s mouth began to close. “Ah. I see that you did indeed use the Fireblade to deliver the necessary death blow. Well done. May I ask how you knew what to do?”
Buffy twirled the magnificent sword to flick away the blood. “He signaled me with his eyes.”
“In that case,” Giles said, “he regained his honor, at the end.”
Buffy sighed. “I guess so. Which is of the good, right?”
“Indeed,” said Giles. “You have done very well. In fact we’ve all done very well.”
Drusilla sniffed. “It’s all very well for you. I have lost my Angel and now I’m forced to take under my wing, tra la, a most unattractive gaijin, tra la, with a caricature of a face.”
“I’ve always been given to understand that I am of rather distinguished appearance,” Travers said, frowning. “And is there not beauty in the bellow of the blast? And grandeur in the growling of the gale?”
Drusilla smiled and clapped her hands together. “There is, there is. You’re quite cute, really, Travers-san. I shall marry you after all. You won’t hate me because I'm just a little teeny weeny wee bit bloodthirsty, will you?”
Travers smiled. “I could forgive a woman as beautiful as you quite a significant amount of bloodthirstiness, my dear.”
Giles looked down at the puddle of blood on the floor. He pursed his lips. “I think that perhaps we should adjourn elsewhere. There will be much work to do before things can be restored to their normal state.”
“Oh, yeah, the castle’s gonna need a new gate,” Buffy told him. “And we kinda knocked down a few doors.”
“I expect that my guards are somewhat depleted as well,” Giles sighed. “I shall have to recruit replacements.”
“All that can wait, Giles-sama,” said Xander. “We saved the world, right? That means we party.”
“Right on,” said Oz. “Tonight we’re gonna party like it’s sixteen ninety-nine.”- - - - -
“Now that I have been elected,” Giles said, “and the legitimacy of my reign established beyond all doubt, perhaps you would be willing to accept a position at my court?”
Chopstick bowed. “Depends what it is, Giles-sama, but probably. Not Lord High Executioner, though.”
“Captain of the Guard,” Giles said, “and Poet Laureate.”
“Bloody delighted to accept,” Chopstick said, beaming. “Buffy’ll be dead chuffed. Give me a minute to whip up a haiku.”
“Of course, Chopstick-san,” said Giles. “Here are the indigo robes of your position.”
“Ta, Giles-sama.” Chopstick took the robes from the Shogun and unfolded them. “Hang on,” he muttered, his brows descending in a frown. “There are pale patches on the cloth. Letters. A message.”
“Good daimyo!” Giles exclaimed. “What does it say?”
“Help, help,” Chopstick read out. “We are prisoners in a dye works. Warren, Jonathan, and Andrew.” His frown deepened. “Bugger. They’re the three blokes who built the armored baby-cart. Angel must have found out.”
“I shall have them released at once,” Giles promised. “And I shall find you new robes. You shall need them when you attend the wedding.”
“First of many,” Chopstick said. “Wes and Ampata, Travers and Dru, Dalton and Joyce, Oz and Willow.” He quirked an eyebrow upwards. “You ever think about making an honest woman out of Jenny Calendar, Giles-sama?”
“She has indeed consented to be my wife,” Giles revealed. “I did not wish to make the announcement earlier in case I was felt to be using the news to affect the election.”
“Congratulations, Giles-sama,” Chopstick said. He bowed deeply. “A thousand years of constitutional rule to your democratically elected dynasty.”
“Power to the People,” Giles replied. “Thank you, Chopstick-san.” He raised an eyebrow. “I am surprised that you have not yet been able to make a similar announcement about yourself and Buffy.”
Chopstick grimaced. “Day she susses out what she wants there’ll be a parade,” he said. “Seventy-six bloody sakuhachi. And there’s the Angel factor.”
“Summers mourns for one,
Not worthy even to lick
The soles of her boots
“Ah.” Giles pursed his lips. “Never mind, I’m sure that she will come to acknowledge your greatly superior worth in time.”- - - - -
Buffy easily out-jumped everyone else and caught the bouquet. “Kind of a strange custom,” she said. “Does it mean something?”
“Actually it does,” Wesley informed her. “According to our tradition it means that you shall be the next one to marry.”
“Oh.” Buffy opened her eyes wide and stared at the flowers. “He hasn’t actually asked me yet.”
“He will,” Ampata assured her. “He love you very much, I know.”
“Good,” said Buffy, “’cause hey, getting tired of waiting. My mom’s gonna get married before I do.” Her brows furrowed. “Uh, which is kind of the normal way, now I come to think about it.”
Ampata laughed. “True. But you will marry him, I am sure.”
“I’m sure too,” Buffy said. “Although maybe not all that soon. The rest of the guys are gonna beat me to it. Except maybe Xander.”
Ampata glanced across the room to where Xander was dancing with a slim but curvaceous Noh
actress in a Hannya
demon mask. “I think he might have found a replacement for Cordelia already,” she remarked.
“Could be,” Buffy agreed. “Hey, I guess you’ll be retiring from the dancing bare business now you’re married, right?”
“You’re not applying for the position, I trust?” Wesley raised his eyebrows.
“Me? As a dancing bare? No way,” said Buffy.
“Yes, I retire now,” Ampata confirmed. “It is not just because I marry.” She bent and put her ear close to Buffy’s mouth. “You are my best friend, Buffy, so I will tell you first.” She patted her stomach. “I am going to be a mummy.”