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?

Anji: Yes.

Shishio: Henya, I've been waiting for you. Your skills haven't gotten rusty, have they?

Henya: Hardly.

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.

There is more of this chapter...

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