Kindred Spirits
by Karen

Ishimura, Japan,

Smoke curled up in thin tendrils from bronze tripods carved with lions' feet. They were arranged at intervals crisscrossed with meticiously terraced gardens inside a central courtyard of the small farming community. The sky faded towards sunset, as the aroma of ingredients being cooked for dinner wafted through the air. Being the tail-end of the day, there weren't that many people about. Many rested on their porches, men smoked pipes, women exchanged gossip, or kept on eye on children. Others finished up last minute chores: sweeping, trimming apple-blossoms, and patrolled the walls.

Said walls rosed about ten feet and surroundd the entire community. Beyond, a valley rose and fell in rolling green hils, with their larger cousins, the mountains looming in the distance. This was the kind of landscape the local artists loved to pick out in exact detail. The walls weren't designed to keep people in, rather, to keep unwanted intruders out.


Being once more swept into the ocen of time by the Phoenix Gate, Brooklyn learned that struggling against it wasn't doing him much good. He resigned himself to let the tide take him where it would. "I wonder where I'll end up this time?" he muttered.

Travelling through the Void takes time, however, there isn't any reliable way of keeping track of it. It could have been seconds later, or it could have been years. A crimson, red gargoyle emerged from the fiery circle.

Brooklyn was somewhat battered, as he crashed through a closely grown grove of apple blossom trees. "Great. More trees," Brooklyn said. "Look on the bright side, Brook, at least these trees smell a lot better than the other ones did. All this time-travel stuff has gotten me into the habit of talking to myseklf," he finished.


With the coming of sunset, the people of Clan Ishimura retired to thier beds, and the guardians that protect the community at night, awaken. For several years, the people of Ishimura have had an unspoken agreement with their neighbors who came asking for sancutary. It took time, as these things usally do. Eventually, an arrangmetn was worked out.


"Hey! This place looks kind of familar! Like one of those places Goliath told us about when he went on his 'world- tour with the Gate! But somehow it doesn't look exactly the way I pictured it when he was describing it! It looks kind of, well, more, more, more,..." Brooklyn trailed off, having run out of words to describe what he was seeing and feeling. Picking himself out of a small snowfall of white blossoms, he turned around and began to get a good look of his surroundings. He noted that the houses looked like ones Goliath had mentioned, turrets and all. He noticed that the people heading inside, to go to sleep, and that there were still guards on the walls. "I wonder if any of the fruit on some of the other trees are edible?" So saying, he went over to a likely looking tree with yellowish-white fruit and plucked one of. ""Not bad," he commented, popping one into his mouth.


The horizon was backlit by the waning glow of the setting sun. The statues on top of the walls showed signs of long' running cracks in thier stone facades; starting with the head, then angling down the arms and legs, and wings. The roar of awakening gargoyles echoed in the night. A even dozen, six female and six male shifted positions, spreading wings to ease stiffened muscles from the day spent frozen in stone. They divided themselves up into four groups of three, to take up stations on the cardinal points of the wall. Before they left, they ate a meal prepared for them by the humans with whom they shared a partnership.

The past weeks had turned up nothing too remarkable, although rumors from the Emperor's capital in Edo, reached them, even in this remote corner of the empire. The gargoyles were just observing their usual patrol duty out of a sense of of a job well done. They didn't really expect anything to happen. When, two hours later, a voice cried out in sudden authority and excitment.

"Hold! Intruder!" an ivory-colored male gargoyle stated, as he approached and pointed a very sharp object about level with the red gargoyle's beak. It appeared he was prepared to shorten it by several inches.

"Wait a minute! Brooklyn protested, trying to move out of the way. Even though he'd heared comments about his nose being a little on the long side, he didn't want any surgery on the spot. Getting a closer look at the other gargoyle who had accosted him, Brooklyn noticed two other things: First, the sword, Second, the fact that the gargoyle appeared to be on the older side. In fact, he kind of reminded him of Hudson. His coloring was off-white instead of the clan mentor's brown. And Third, that there were others watching the exchange.

"Is this the way you greet people around here? From what I've heard hospitatlity is supposed to be a little bit better around here." Brooklyn said.

"Grandfather, put down the sword. He may be an unfamilar face around these parts, but he is correct. He does merit a courteous greeting from us," a blue gargoyles said to the ivory one, who sheathed his sword.

"You are right, Koyoto." Forgive an old gargoyle's forgetfulness. Kinichiwa, haji" You are welcome here as a stranger far from home. I am Honshu. May I have the honor of sharing your name?" Honshu said as if he meant it.

"I. My name is Brooklyn. What do you mean? How did you know? What was that thing about being a stranger far from home?"

"Welcome to Clan Ishimura. Brooklyn-san. It is not a name that I have heard a gargoyle would bear, but I count you an outlander and someone who has travelled many miles to reach our far community. It has been long since we have seen others around these parts," Koyoto explained, with a small bow.

"I guess I am, at that. It's been so long latelly, that I've lost count how long I've been away from my clan," Brooklyn said.

"Be at home here, as much as you can, gaijin,' Koyoto said.

"A gargoyle without a clan is like the rain without rainbows afterward," Honshu said, understandingly.

"Huh?" Brooklyn gasped.

"Ah, it's only a line from one of my attemopts at haiku. Haiku is a form of Japnese poetry," Honshu explained.

"I'm in Japan?"

"Yes, Brooklyn-san. Is this not where you intended to come?"

"Maybe. Of all the places I've gone so far, there's always a reason I'm supposed to there and not anwyhere else."

"I am Oyama" a female gargoyle interrupted, Do you have a clan of your own?" asked, as if she couldn't quite believe someonne without one.

"Acutally I do, I just haven't seen them in a while," Brooklyn answered her.

"What is your clan like? Oyamara asked, eager to hear news and stories from outside. How many live there?" "There are twevle of us here."

"It's great. My clan is about half as large. Counting me, that makes seven." Brooklyn said.

"You must miss them very much," Koyoto observed.

"Now that you mention it, I guess I do," Brooklyn shrugged.

"How long has it been since you've seen them?" Honshu wondered.

"I don't really know. Forever and a day," he replied.

"Grandfather, you will share the stranger with us? Or are you not going to introduce the rest of the clan? a red gargoyle said. His coloring was similar to Brooklyn's but a lighter shade. He wore a cotton shirt tucked into a half-skirt outfit that came down to his knees that was also white. His wings were gray. His eyes narrowed in unfriendly suspicion, even though he was smiling.

"Brooklyn-san, this is Nagano." Honshu said.

"Uh, nice to meet you." Brooklyn said, gripping the other's forearm and shaking the way gargoyles greeted one another.

"Not that my intention is to pry, but what has kept you from your clan for so long?" Nagano asked, furrowing his brow, which had the effedct of adding creases to his already lined face. He adjusted his tunic and flexed his wings.

"It's kind of a long story, with a couple of hitches in it." Brooklyn replied, a little irritated with this fellow.

"He is a guest, Nagano. He has travelled far and is no doubt tired and hungry both. And we weary him with our curiousity and endless questions. We will have future opportunity to enjoy his company when he has eaten,' Honshu said, stepping into between them.

"Aren't you worried what people might say if they saw you?" Brooklyn asked.

"No. We trust the humans as they trust us," Honshu replied. Ah, yes, Brooklyn-san, I'd like to introduce you the rest of the clan. You've already met Koyoto and Oymara mader her name known. The forward one is Nagano, and the hatchling here, is Anjo... he trailed off.

"And where is that child?" Koyoto rubbed his haand through his forelock of hair that was more grey than black, as he peered in the direction of their sleeping wall.

"They are always long stories. We may have made you welcome, yet you hold out on us, why?" Nagano asked.


"Grandfather, I would have thought you, of all people, would not neglect duty to enjoy a few moments of lesiure." a voice said, with a teasing tone. Brooklyn caught a glimpse of the voice''s owner as she emerged from around a corner. She had hair dark as ebony, and skin like cool jade. She wore a dark red dress embroidered with a flower he'd never seen before. She carried a wicked-looking sword with a dragon's head. Although the only other female gargoyle he'd seen on his travels had been Ebony, he'd met during the American Civil War' he'd found exotically beautiful with her black skin, and contrasting white shades in her wings and sides; this one took his breath away. For a few minutes, he didn't know what to say.

"Ah, there you are, child. Brooklyn-san, may I introduce my niece, Sata,' Koyoto said.

"Uh, honored." Brooklyn managed to stammer.

"As am I, Brooklyn-san.'Sata replied with a little bow, sheathing her sword. "It seems our intruder turns out to be a guest. Be welcome here.

"Perhaps you might want to learn more about us. I am certain Sata would be more than willing to show you around. Or she will complain that she doesn't have enough to do around here," Honshu laughed.

"She's worse than Samaka, my mate." Koyoto agreed. "Come, we have work to do,' he finished. "Our guest is in good hands." With that the other gargoyles left.


"Uh now what?" Brooklyn asked his new host.

"Come. Now I will show you around. Follow me. Sata said, walking off a ways as Brooklyn hurried to catch up with her.

"You will be intersted to see that our gardens are laid out according to geometric patterns. The apple blossoms grow every spring; their scent is especially popular to young couples," Sata explained, blushing.

"I'll bet they are," Brooklyn agreed.

As they walked along, the two gargoyles; one crimson, the other green, trod the garden paths. Sata, occassionaly bent to sniff the flowers, or to make certain all was well with them, as she pointed out various places.

"Each of these buildings house families, and craft guilds, there are the Weavers; the print-makers, the poets, the Muramassa, the weapons-maker. In our society each person has a place and knows what it is," Sata explained.

"They're happy that way?" Brooklyn asked. "Yes. It's called fuedalism." she replied.

"You're not going to believe this, but I kind of remember something of what you're tallking about. We had something like that in a place called Caledonia. But from where I come from, it would be called Scotland now, or then." Brooklyn started to explain time-travel and the Pheonix Gate, but wasn't sure if he could put into words that Sata would understand, or even beliefve. "Bother the magical talisman anyway!" he muttered.

"Caledonia? Scotland? I have never heard of these places. We have maps here, and I have not seeen those names on any of them. However, I shall be the first to admit there must be more to the world than what appears on the maps we have, Are you making fun of me?"

"No, wouldn't dream of it," he replied.

"Then why? Never mind,: she trailed off.

"Does everyone here wear swords? I kind of noticed that and I was just wondering." Brooklyn asked.

"Yes. We follow Bushido." Sata replied. "What is Bushido? I've heard my clan leader mention it, but I never quite understood what he meant by it." he asked.

"Bushido is a code of unquestioned obdenience and loyalty. It binds the samurai class to their lords. Honor is prized above wealth and life and atoned for dishonor by committing ritual sucide. It is a human code that our gargoyle clan has found most appealing in dealing with the humans; not only those who protect us during the day, as we protect them at night. But, we also find it a useful thing to teach the young ones, our own and the human children who come to us to learn. It means 'the way of the warriror" Sata finished.

"It sounds kind of familar." Brooklyn mused.

"How is that possible? How did your clean leader hear of it? For many years now our country has been cut off fromt the rest of the world. Rumors have reached us that may soon change."

"Is it something particular to your clan? I mean, couldn't it be something other clans around the world have too? Like some, I don't know, universal warrior code? That we just don't call by the same name?" Brooklyn asked.

"We have lived here many years, and yes, it has been ingrained as part of us, like the air we breathe,' Sata replied.

"Funny you should mention that. Because the elder of my clan used to say that a gargoyle could no more stop defending the castle than he could stop breathing the air." He used to say that a lot. It kind of went in one ear and out the other. I mean, me and my rookery brothers used to tease him about it," Brooklyn explained.

"Do you come from a place that had castles?" Sata asked.

"Had castles. It was called Castle Wyvern. Now, the castle my clan protects is called the Eyrie Building." Brooklyn gave himself a mental kick, for telling Sata this much. He knew that it might get him into murky waters, since Wyvern was currently perched atop the latter building in Manhattan.

"You did not listen to your elder? What was his name?" Sata asked.

"Uh, his name's Hudson. Yeah, we listened to him," he replied. "Folks here seem to think pretty highly o f Honshu and Koyoto."

"Honshu has lived for a very long time. Age brings wisdom." Sata replied.

"So, he's the the clan's leader," Brooklyn guessed.

"Yes. Come inside. We will see inf Hanra-san has anything to quench a dry throat and something to eat," Sata said, gesturing to a small one-story white building with strange cury lettering crawling all over the facade of its entrance. Brooklyn's head began to swim trying to follow the intricate curlices and interweaving letters, if that's what they were. "Sounds good to me," he replied. Sata didn't seem to notice his distraction and entered the building with Brooklyn in tow.


"AH, Sata. It is good to see you."an old man greeted.

"It is good to be seen," Hanra-san." Sata returned. "I have not seen this one around before," he said. "He is haji, Hanra, a stranger far from home," Sata said. "AH, be welcome to my himble establishment then." he said. "We would like a meat pie and some honeysuckle to wash it down," Sata waved. "My pleasure," Hanra answered, heading towards the kitchen.


"Sit down, Brooklyn. Hanra makes the best meat pie in Ishimura, and maybe all of Japan for that matter." Sata said.

"Thanks. I'm starved. I can't wait to have one if they're as good as you say they are," Brooklyn replied. "Better, gaijin." she smiled. "You exaggerate, young lady." Hanra lauhged, returning with their order, then went back to check the overn for the next morning's baking. He raised an eyebrow where the two gargoyles couldn't see him, and chuckled to himself. "Well, well."


"Brooklyn-san. I find something odd about you, I cannot

"I, uh , feel the same way about you, too, Sata."

"What are the things you find you cannot tell me?"

"As I told you, it's a long story," Brooklyn muttered.

"Long stories are the best kind, haji. Tell me." Sata laughed, raising one jet black eyebrow.

"Well, you see, back where I come from I found this magical talisman,' he said, taking a deep breath. "Tailsiman?" she asked.

Brooklyn hesitated, thinking back to how erratic the Pheonxi Gate had behaved lately. Then he thought about how good Sata made him feel. He had been travelling through time for so long. He'd trusted the people he'd met during the American Civil War with his story; and he trusted Sata. Some other instinct told his rational side to shut up and take a back seat to emotion. He reached into the pocket of his loincloth, pulling out the Phoenix Gate. It was a small amulet, no bigger than a large pear. The gold edges were looking a bit worn and the blazing image of firebrid in flight embossed in the center, looked a bit scratched; as if it had seen hard use. There was also an additonal seam down the center which appeared that it had once broken in half, then sealed back togehter again at a later date.

"Be careful with it, it's not working properly" Brooklyn said, the golden amulet resting in his spread palm. The Pheonix Gate glinted dully in the low-lighting of the dining hall.

"It's beautiful," What do you call it," Sata sighed. "It's called the Phoenix Gate." "You said it was magical, What does it do?" she asked. "You may not believe this, but it moves me through time." "Through time? It's like one of those old stories told by the Magi, the wandering storytellers that travel to all the villages and towns." Sata said.

"This is true, and their's were make-believe. I have often dreamed what it would be like if one ot ther stories they told around the community bonfires took on flesh and blood became real." Are you real, Brooklyn-San?" Sata asked.

Brooklyn was expecting some sort of reaction, but this one went far beyond any scenario he could have imagined. "Oh man! Uh, yes, I'm real. Really a time-traveller. And I think I just found out why I'm here instead of someplace else," he finished.

The two gargoyles just stared at each other, grasping each other hands so tightly you could hear a pin drop. Neither said a word for a while, not even noticing as the sun rose.


Imperial Palace, Edo

The Meji Imperial Palace was a seven story arched building constructed to resemble the Shinto Temples of the times, its clean lines and geometric patterns carefully laid out with an equally plannned out terreaced gardens.

The throne room, an understated example of taste wtih all the best furnishings and drapings that money could buy. The throne itself, was a massive piece of furniture of carved ivory, emeralds, rubies, and diamonds. At the moment, it was unoccupied.

Emperor Yoroto, a middle-aged man with close-cropped gray hair, stood, harrunging his minister of protocol. "The samurai have served their purposed in the past, yet some things must be discarded in favor of newer, better ways! I intend to moderinize our country: we cannot forever isolated and hidebound to the way things have always been done! Let the old guards maintain that: things have always been done this way, they must always been this way! I say NO! The samurai have outlived their purpose. I intend to create a new and better way! Fuedalism is dead! I want roads, and trains! Crafts, a new and better Hapan!" He demanded.

"Your majesty! It is not so easy to discard the old ways fo the sake of a whim,' Majordomo said soothingly.

"Majordomo, don't be such a pessimist. I am the people's Emperor! They must do what I say!" he yelled.

"If my Emperor would listen to his humble servatn, might I add that it is easy to make a decree; it is another to expect its immediate implementation. These things take time. I shall see to it, but an endeavor such as this might well beggar the he gloomily predicted.

"Money! Money Why must you always moan to me about money, Majordomo? I have seen it in a vision! My goal is to moderinize will not only bring us into a more equal footing with the rest of the world. It will make us a force to be reckoned with in suceeding generations; Japan will be promised a glorious future, and it will be my hand that shaped it!" he exclaimed.


Nightfall, the occluded clouds that failed to threaten earlier in the day, finally swooped in from the nort, from the direction of the island's tallest mountian. The fanciful among the old would no doubt ascribe the storm to the fierce weather dragons hidden beyound the sky; waging battle by sending storms and rain to the people on the ground.

The man tread the grounds of the enclosed palace, thinking that the Emperor he had served fro close on thirty yearrs, was not completely insane to consider modernizing the country, it would mean more luxurious apartments for himself, and a chance to move inland to the city of Tokoyo. He began planning the construction plans and estimated cost of moving the entire court, the palace staff and equipment all the miles that a journey would require. Apparently the balance added up in the the plus category. The thin elegant man, chuckled to himself. "It just might work,after all,." he thought. "Although," he sighed, "Most of the grunt work would have to be carried out by the daimoyo, the landowners; the emperor was right about one thing, the current social structure was waiting to drop from the vine." The smile aruptly cut off when a voice from the shadows made itself known.

"It has been a long time, Kato-san," the gargoyle said.

"Your arrival at this hour was not entirely unexpected," he replied.

"You know why I have come?" Nagano asked.

"Would you care for some tea?" Kato asked.

"No, don't waste my time for protocol. You live, eat and drink that stuff in court," Nagano snapped. "Very well. What can I do for you," Kato replied.

"You, who know everything that goes on in this piddling little kingdom of ours, may not know this," Nagano said, pulling his katana and restlessly stroking it back and forth motions, as if he were stroking a cat, a large one, with sharp teeth. It was his long sword, a carved dragon head at is pommel.

"I can not help but noticing you are agitated, Nagano-san."

"Ah, a mystery!" Kato exclaimed.

"Yes, a new gargoyle has arrived."

"A new gargoyle? From some other province?"

"No, he cannot account satisfactorially for his appearance, and when questionedf he gives evasive answers."

"You are suspicious?" Kato observed. "Yes." "You were to be bounded to a female come next harverst festival, were you not?" Kato asked. "Is that what worries you?" "Her name is Sata. You've forgotten. She is too close to him." Nagano snapped. "What do you wish me to do?" Kato asked. "Do you know what the Emperor's planning?" Nagano asked. "Do I look like his confidant?" Kato snapped.

"Yes." Koyoto is a hidebound old fool, and Honshu is worse. They are too quick to trust. They want to believe this gaijin gargoyle. I don't believe him and I certainly don't trust him. We made that mistake once before, with the other strangers who were here." Nagano explained.

"You have heard that the Emperor's is debating the wisdom of maintaining the current social classes. He is quite forward thinking for a a man of his, shall we say, veneration. He wishes to modernize our 'piddling kingdom" I believe is how you put it? Kato removed a long-stemmed pipe from his robe, and tamped it down, blowing blue smoke curls while he talked.

"Modernize? How?" Nagano leaned forward, interseted in spite of himself. He had orignally intended to come to his friend, Kato, who had the hear of the emepror, and convince him to help win over the lovely female gargoyle, Sata. But now, this could prove far more interesting. "Go on," he encouraged.

"The following year, during the the harvest festival, he plans to issue the Imperial Charter Oath, which will annouced the government's intention to modernize Japan. He plans to turn to the western countries for new ideas and technology. The Shogun plans to set up a system of education and abolish the samurai as a landed castel in its place, he plans to establish a modern ar,my and navy. Among other things. He claims to haver recieved this inspiration during a vision from our gods," Kato explained.

"A revelution . The daimoyos might go for it, but you know the stiff-necked reputation of the samurai warrior-class. They will hold out to the bitter end to keep their priveleges." Nagano predicted.

"Not unless, you, my friend, paint them a glowing picture of ife in modern Japan.: a world of wonder and technology from the mouth of a born magi. You, Nagano. Tell them it was a visison you recieved from the gods. If they don't believe you, well, the Emperor will require them to sheath their swords, lay down their weapons and never pick them up again," Kato concluded.

"And if I do, what's in it for me?" Nagano asked.

"I shall make sure that your neew mate is ready and waiting for you by the time of the harvest festival. You need'nt' worry about your erstwhile rival for the beautiful Sata's affections. He can't be much of a threat." Kato soothed.

"We have a deal then?" Nagano asked. "A deal, my friend." Kato replied. The two shook hands to close the bargain. Then the gargoyle jumped up from his position on the wall of the palace, catching a thermal updraft as he glided off into the night.

Kato sighed, :"Well, this has not been what I would call one of our usuall nighttime chats, my friend. But it has been one of the most stimulating. I should get some sleep now, if I must be with the sun tomorrow." He retraced his steps back to his apartment,still imagining the massive palace he would build in Tokoyo. He gripped war plans against a samurai clan that worked and defended a farming community in one of the northern provinces.


"Have you done as I requested, Majordomo?" Yoroto demanded.

"Yes. The reports are just coming in with the arrival of the couriers. Most of the samurai clans have acceded to your orders to disband or face repercussions. They surrendered almost to a man lest they face fines from the crown."

"You don't sound enthusatic, Majordomo, "Yoroto said. "Why can't people see that I'm doing this for them?" he complained.


"They will. Eventually. Never fear, Sire," he soothed.

"Who still holds out? Why will they not unbend their stubborn necks? Honor is all well and good, but the samurai code is as outdated as is their function in the new Japan I plan to create. If they insist on fighting me, insist on holding on to old ways, I will seperate their heads from their necks! Hah! See how they'll like that!" Emperor Yoroto laughed, as he rocked back on his heels.

"Yes. One would think that would bring them around."

"Who still defies me?" Yoroto demanded.

"Ishimura Clan."

"Then such defiance deserves an immediate response. If one clan, one province can defy me, than it means that another could do so, as well. We cannot have that. Assemble the troops of my new army, they're being paid, after all," he ordered.

"Very good, Sire." Kato, Majordomo said, leaving the room, headed for the barracks to carry out his instructions.


The hasitly assembled and garrissioned army of new Japan had been provided with weapons and mounts by order of the Majordomo. They set just a few hours before sunrise. Kato, had even secured a dappled brown nag that should have been put out to pasture years ago; to accompany the army, personally. The ride to the remote province of Ishimura would take it most of the day, which put their estimated time of arrvial sometime after sunset. Kato had a brief twinge of consience about Nagano and his clan. However, he determined that war had casualities. Nagano had been right about one thing: the samurai were jealous of their power and priveleges, and would put up a fight. Also, he had a small worry, the people of that particular village were rather protective of their gargoyle clan, which meant the gargoyles would fight as well. It would make that battle a tossup.. The winds of fortune could blow either way.


Before retiring for the day, the Japanese gargoyles who had not had a chance to meet the newcomer, could talk of nothing else. When, they woke up from their stone sleep, they picked up right where they had left off.

"Come, Come. You are seasoned warriors not magpies," Honshu said fondly, as he ruffled the black hair on a young hatchling. "Duty can be as light as feather or as heavy as a mountain." The youngsters just stared at him blankly. "We have work to do, save the gossip for off-nights. Go to your posts." He sighed. "Maybe I should give up poetry, they never understand it."

Just then, thunder echoed in a loud rolling peal, which made the old ivory gargoyle's bones shudder. He glanced up into the clear grey sky, not a cloud to be seen. He jumped down from the wall, and laid an ear to the ground. Gasping for breath, he let out a bellow. "Samurai! To arms! We are under attack! People of Ishimura, to arms! We fight to defend our homes! The Emperor has declared war on the Samurai and the good people of this village! We will fight for our homes, our clans! and our honor!" he roared.

An organized chaos ensued, gargoyles taking up defensive positons on the walls. The locals, emerged from thier homes, most in rumpled sleeping robes. Grasping the nature of the emergency, the men ran back inside, scrounging for their weapons. Women, reassured young children, and told older ones to watch their younger sibilings, while they gathered up cooking oil and firebrands to take to the braizers. They also took casks of burning pitch to throw over the walls at any enemy who tried to scale them. Those responsible for the care and upkeep of weapons, began looking for where they had stored them, especially bows and arrows. Others began filling water pails in the event of a fire.


A long line of horsemen drew up within twenty feet of the walls. A tall, thin man rode at their head, pulling a bugle from his saddlebag. There were gasps of amazement when the defenders recognized Majordomo.

"People of Ishimura! You may yet save yourselves needless suffering and bloodshed! You must simply turn over all the samurai you are sheltering and the Emperor will promise to be merciful. What is your answer?"

"We will not!" Hanra shouted, "They're our people!" the old man yelled, waving a bony fist.

"Is that the answer of the samurai as well?" Kato managed to sound sorrowful.

"It is. Mayto, the oldest samurai in the viilage replied. "Very well. You've made your decision, Open fire!: Kato shouted.


A lethal spray of steel tipped arrows flew towards the defenders on the wall. The wooden palisads erected to guard against just such an emergency prevented any early causualites. They weren't aiming for targets at this early stage of the battle. It was intended as an opening salvo, it's purpose was for the archers to find the range and soften up the opposition. Since the defenders had the higher ground and the wooden barriers at each post would make it diffucult for them to find easy targets.

Koyoto ordered his archers to return fire. Just then a firebrand was launched from a hidden catapault behind enemy lines, aimed for the entrance gates to the courtyard. It feel fall short, but it worried Koyoto, who sent some of his clan to protect that point in the walls, pulling them off their previous detail.


The exchange of fire kept up for several hours. The enemy tried scaling ladders and were cut down even as they tried using small knives and short swords. Some did manange to reach the top of the walls, and small scale skrimishing took place. Men died, from arrows, swords, there were losses on both sides.


Koyoto was right to send somebody down here! Brooklyn gasped, as he ran to grab another bucket of water. He smothered the sudden flames that had sprung up around the foregate. "Do you think that guy who's running this thing, knows that his causaully tossed off fireballs have torched this place?"

"It would be unfortunate for him, if he did." Sata replied. "For he would be dead."

"Unfortunate for him? Honshu wondered, as he peered anxiously out through the widening gap.

"Honshu, what's the word?" Sata asked.

"So far, all clear. It doesn't appear the enemy troops have discovered there's an easier way in down here,"

"Spoke too soon, my friend. Look," Brooklyn said, pointing. A group of armed soilders came strolling around the corner, they had their swords in one hand, a wine flask in the other.

"Look like deserters to me," Brooklyn remarked.

"Drunk too," Honshu said. "This is going to be too easy. I was looking for more of a fight. And they scorn samurai honor. Probably because they don't even know the meaning of the word."

"Mercenaries?" Sata asked.

"Bah, soilders for hire. Honshu snapped, drawing his sword, and balancing himslef into a fighting stance. "Come, cowards, you came to fight, well, you have found one!"

The soilders, not so drunk, they didn't recognize a challenge when they heard one. They dropped the wine and rushed forward, with bare blades drawn. In their half-drunken stupor they didn't notice the nature of their opponents. The fact that it was gargoyles they faced instead of poor farmers, didn't matter at this point.

Seeing that their friend was outnumbered, Sata and Brooklyn dropped the water buckest they'd been carrying, and rushed into the fight.

Brooklyn spread his wings, launching himself at two of them. His eyes glowed a firery white. He grabbed them around the waist and threw the gap in the wall. They landed with a thud, collapsing in a boneless heap. Two more came at him, a sword blade just whistling past where his head had been a moment before.

Honshu took three more by hamstringing them with his sword, then delivered the coup de grace. After, he wiped his blade on his tunic.

Sata whipped out her katana, in a blur of motion, her kimono flapping behind her, took out the remainder of the attackers. All told, the fight lasted about half an hour. When the dust settled, the three gargoyles were bruised, scratched and dirty, however, the drunk soilders didn't have anything to add, fro they lay still on the ground. The gargoyles moved the bodies outside the courtyard walls.


"Koyoto! Sata yelled. "Their attempt to get inside our walls has failed!"

"You thought you could breach the lion in his den! Kato! Koyoto yelled to Majordomo. "You were wrong! Now I offer you the choice, turn around and go back, or stay and die!"

"You may have won this time, old gargoyle. But, I'll be back. Kato, yelled. Raising the bugle, he signalled a fall back to the Imperial Army. If a motely army assembled in haste could be called an army. "I guess the times just weren'r right for a revolution. Although, you don't say I TOLD YOU SO, to an Emperor," Kato muttered to himself.


Brooklyn and Sata stood by the peach tree he had first sampled when he arrived in Japan. He wondered what else he could do to help clean up after the battle.

He felt about as useful as a pair of shoes without one right and one left.

"Leaving us so soon?" Sata asked coyly,. The jade green gargoyle leaned up against apple blossom's trunk.

It was the same one from which the red gargoyle had first made his appearance in her life. She patted the scabbard from which hung her katana.

"I wanted you to have this," she said, handing him a katana that looked like hers, except that it had those same curvy lines he'd seen when they went to the dining area.

"Are you sure about this, Sata?" Brooklyn asked.

"Shut up, and accept it, gaijin. It is a honor. You earned it," Sata replied

"I did?" Brooklyn asked, extending his hand for the offered weapon.

"Yes, you did. You distinguished yourself bravely in battle. Koyoto and Honshu are impressed," Sata said.

"Are they only ones?" Brooklyn teased, handling the sword.

"Not the only ones. I told you that when we met, there was something special about you. You were different. A stranger far from home. You told me your story, and I believed it. I had a vision, someone would come for me, like in the magi tales. I would leave this place. All the world is governed by fate. How could it be otherwise?" Sata shrugged.

"So, you weren't that surprised when I told you about the Phoenix Gate? How it takes me through time? How I don't have that much control over it, over where it takes me?" Brooklyn asked, frustrated.

"No. Yes. I knew that I had a destiny apart from that of my clan. But I did not know exactly what shape that it would take. Or even if it would happen." she shook her head. "I only knew that it would happen. Brooklyn-san, my beloved haij, I think yoursis the path to my destiny. It will become our destiny. I must travel with you, using your Phoenix Gate," Sata finished.

"Yeah. I'm not sure exactly how this things works, but it takes me here and there without much warning," Brooklyn answered, a little bewildered by her obvious conviction in what she was saying.

"Did you really think, that I would let you out of my sight? How much trouble have you gotten into without me?" Sata teased.

"I'm sorry that you had to get caught up in this, Sata," Brooklyn murrmured. "If there's any justice in this universe, I'm sure we'll find our way back to our homes."

Sata regarded him with dark eyes, deeply sad but with a resigned determination dawning in them: "Well then, Brooklyn-san, " an arch smile came across the female's face as she sheathed her sword, "Until that time arises, if and when it does, you and I will travel this strange path together."

"Better stay close, Sata," Brooklyn's familiar smug, grin appeared on his face, "It's going to be a bumpy ride."

"No doubt. We shall buffer each other, that's what shield-mates..

"That's what friends are for," Brooklyn finished the line.

"Yes. That's what friends are for. Brooklyn-san, I believe this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship. Maybe more, Imzadi," Sata said, grinning.

Drawing Sata closer to him , Brooklyn folded her up in his wings, and pulled out the Phoenix Gate. He willed that it would this time take them both inside its magical vortex. Surprisingly, it complied without even the barest twinge of complaint. Letting the tides of fate take them where it would, the red and green gargoyles floated into the ocean of time. Brooklyn felt better than he had in a long time: He wasn't alone anymore and Sata was wonderful.


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