Chapter 87: A Violent Meeting.
Copyright© 2011 by Murasame
From the capital there is a demon gate under the northeastern sky. On the slopes of Mt. Hiei, famous from olden times as a mountain of ghosts that protected the emperor's castle-- Soujirou: Here it is. Well, please come in.
(Houji knocks on Shishio's door.)
Yumi (stumbling out): If you're looking for Lord Shishio, he isn't here. (God you're loud.)
Houji: Then where is he?
Yumi: I don't know. But he said he was all worked up about something, so maybe he's in the training room.
(A soldier is hanging from the rafters in the training room, stabbed with a sword and a spear. Shishio regards him carefully.)
Houji (coming in): Lord Shishio.
(The soldier is slashed in half.)
Houji (thinking): I never saw the sword leave the scabbard--
(The upper half of the soldier bursts into flame.)
Soujirou (coming in behind a shocked Houji): Oh, it's been a while. The old secret sword Homura Dama.
Shishio: I caught him trying to steal a sword. Did you want something, Houji?
Houji: Ye-yes. I received word of Soujirou's return, but...
Soujirou: Now, now, don't be angry. I'm back, Mr. Shishio. And I brought all the Ten Swords in Eastern Japan.
Shishio: It's been a while, Anji. Have you completed your training?
Shishio: Henya, I've been waiting for you. Your skills haven't gotten rusty, have they?
Shishio: Iwanbou, you look as stupid as ever.
Iwanbou (grinning): Gufu.
Shishio (coming to Aoshi): And you ... You're the first outsider ever to enter this fortress. Welcome.
Aoshi: Let me say this now so we'll have no misunderstandings. I'm here only for information about Battousai. I have absolutely no intention of working for you.
Shishio: Well, that should be fine. I have a little theory about you. Everyone has their own position in life. There are those born to lead, those born to follow, and those, incompatible with anyone, born to live alone. I don't need someone like you working for me. Someone who keeps to themselves is the key to dissolving an organization. But I like you. So what are we going to do? On the one hand, I could offer you information about Battousai.
Aoshi: Or, I could help you destroy Battousai.
Shishio: Don't be impatient. You can fight Battousai purely of your own free will. You'll be doing it for us both.
Aoshi: In other works, not as your underling, but your equal.
(They stare each other down for a moment.)
Aoshi: Do you have news of Battousai?
Houji: After the fight with Chou we haven't heard a thing...
Aoshi (turning for the door): Then I have no need to speak with you.