Author: BrokenMimir PM
When the ancient dragon Fafnir decides to devour all of Sweden, Buffy and Willow must embark upon an epic quest to acquire the one weapon that can stop it. (Not a Buffy/Willow Pairing! They are the main characters.) (Part Two of the Saga of the Seven Swords)Rated: Fiction T - English - Adventure/Supernatural - Buffy S. & Willow R. - Chapters: 17 - Words: 53,585 - Reviews: 8 - Favs: 1 - Follows: 1 - Updated: 01-31-13 - Published: 12-10-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8782312
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
I don't own anything. Buffy is not owned by me. It is owned by rich, talented people. I'm a nobody. Please don't sue me.
A Strange Journey
Buffy couldn't decide what was the most disturbing thing. It could be the way that, when looking up, she could see nothing but gray. Not simply the gray of a cloudy day, or of predawn lighting up the sky, or even of a thick fog rolling in in the morning. It was a gray that seemed caused by nothing, broken by nothing, ended by nothing. It simply was gray, as though it were a blank sheet of colored art paper, ready to be painted upon, but without an artist willing to complete the composition.
When she wasn't looking above her head, she saw that they were moving along a great stretch of what appeared to be bark. It was also gray, but unlike the sky, it was made of varying shades of the color, with imperfections and discrepancies that made it feel real. That sense of reality was questioned, however, by the sheer scope of it. Nothing could be so large, as her eyes could see no end to it in any direction, simple seeing more stretching as far as her keen Slayer vision allowed.
The disturbing sensations of where they were consisted of more than what her she could see, however. She could hear nothing but the beating of hearts and the thumping of clawed feet against wood, the utter silence of the strange dimension they were travelling through causing her senses to focus in on the sounds in a way that she couldn't ignore. Not even the sound of wind whipping past her face from their great rate of speed intruded upon her hearing, as none seemed to be present.
Which was another point that disturbed Buffy greatly. There seemed to be no air, and yet they could breath. Breathing produced no sound, nor did it let her smell any odors, even sitting so closely to Willow that her hair should have been flying in her face. Yet instead, her locks sat as though still, without any wind whipping past, and with a steady enough gate that accelerations did not disturb them.
Furthermore, while they were travelling in a direction that felt, to some deep, primal sense, to be 'down', nothing that she could discern explained why. Gravity did not seem to exist, yet somehow neither they nor their mount floated away from the surface they ran on. Buffy couldn't explain it, yet somehow it simply was, and she decided that she didn't want to know how anymore. She was certain that any explanation would be long, boring, and painful.
Of course, the fact that she and Willow were riding on the back of a giant, green furred, horned squirrel while travelling along Yggdrasil was disturbing enough. Brown Allree had been a strange mount, but the two of them had bonded by the end. Buffy wasn't certain that she could ever make such a connection with a green squirrel.
"This is great!" Willow exclaimed breathlessly as she all but vibrated in her seat from excitement. Ratatoskr chittered cheerfully in reply.
It took all of Buffy's years as the Slayer and her pride to keep from whimpering in disagreement. The very alien nature of the experience bothered her terribly, but she couldn't bring herself to admit it. Instead she simply closed her eyes and held on, hoping that Willow wouldn't notice.
If Willow did, she was kind enough to say nothing, and the time passed slowly. Buffy meditated, focusing entirely on her pounding heart, until, with even, tasteless breaths, she brought herself under control. To her dying day Buffy would never be able to explain why travelling Yggdrasil bothered her so much, only that it did. She was very grateful when they reached their destination.
With her eyes closed Buffy first noticed their arrival when she suddenly felt Ratatoskr jump, and immediately after noticed the return of normal air and gravity. When the creature then stopped moving entirely, she took a huge, deep breath (which mostly smelled of strawberry shampoo), and sighed in relief. That relief was short lived, however, vanishing as soon as she opened her eyes.
She was in complete darkness. She had only seen a darkness so black and total once before in her life, in the first moments after she had awakened in her coffin under six feet of dirt. Listening, she could hear the muffled echoes of their mount's footsteps coming back to her, telling her immediately that they were underground.
Buffy swallowed hard as her heart began to pound in her chest once again. While she had become uncomfortable being in overly confined spaces since she had awakened in her coffin, she was normally able to ignore it with the ease of a lifetime of overcoming her fears. Unfortunately, the disturbing journey, combined with the flashback opening her eyes in such darkness had given her, made it difficult to control herself.
"Fiat lux," Willow said with a gesture as she conjured a floating ball of white light.
Buffy blinked against the sudden glare, taking her mind off of her barely contained terror by examining their surroundings. She had been correct she noticed, as she took in the glistening cave walls all around them. They were in a large chamber deep under the earth, with stalactites reaching down from the ceiling and stalagmites rising up from the floor like the jaws of a hungry predator. Buffy forced that thought away, bringing her breathing back under control as she realized that they were alone wherever they were.
"Huh," Willow said. "I was expecting something... I dunno... more. Is it just me? I mean, this is some other cool dimension full of magic dwarves, and it just looks like any other cave. Yggdrasil was neato, but this is just a letdown."
Buffy climbed down from Ratatoskr and pulled out a flashlight. It was small but quite bright, and she moved it around, taking in her surroundings quickly. "I've got a spare. Flashlight, I mean."
Willow turned towards her friend and frowned. "Are you okay? You look pale. Not vampire pale, 'cause that would be really of the bad, but still. Paler than usual Buffy pale."
"I'm fine," she said, smiling stiffly. "Raring to find a dwarf."
"If you're sure," Willow said, eyeing her carefully. "And I don't need a flashlight."
Buffy frowned. While a light spell wasn't normally dangerous, she was more concerned about Willow's dependance on magic. Even if she didn't use her power to perform dark or dubious tasks, using it unnecessarily was still a bad sign. She really hoped that her friend was correct, and that there was some way to prevent Willow from going dark eyed and veiny again. She really didn't want to kill her, even if she already had... time travel sucked, she decided firmly.
Willow reached into her pack and pulled out a small electric lantern, turning it on and dispelling her light. "Brought my own," she said cheerfully.
"Right," Buffy said, relieved. "What do we do about squirrely over here?"
The creature chittered with annoyance. "Don't call him squirrely," Willow said reprovingly. Turning to Ratatoskr, she smiling brightly. "Thanks for your help! It was a lot of fun. I'll call soon when we need to leave again, okay?"
It chittered again, and then leapt back into the portal that still hung in the air. A moment later the gray patch faded away, leaving them stranded in the dark caverns. Buffy looked around uneasily, the cave formations creating strange shadows in the dim light, further unnerving the already anxious Slayer. She really didn't like being underground.
"We cannot go back," Willow said dramatically, gesturing towards the absent portal.
"What!" Buffy yelped. "I can't stay in some cave forever! I have to get back!"
"No, no," Willow said shaking her head. "I didn't mean you can't really go back, ever. I just meant, you know, Tolkein. Like the mines of Moria? I was being Gandalf."
"The who of the what now?" Buffy asked, lost.
"You really need to crack a book," Willow said, shaking her head sadly.
"I read!" Buffy said defensively. At her friend's doubtful look, she shrugged. "They have Cosmo in the Land of Giles."
"I bet he was so disappointed," Willow said with a giggle. "Anyway, let's find us some dwarves! I can't wait. I wonder how thick their beards are? Do you think Santa-beards or Amish-beards?"
"I'm not an expert on the whole beardiness thing," Buffy said delicately. "Or on dwarviness."
Willow shrugged and quietly chanted a spell, conjuring another green mote of light, which danced in front of her like a firefly. "Take us to a dwarf who can fix Gram," she said. The light hesitated for a moment, before leading the way into the darkness.
The two of them walked through the dark of the caverns for several hours. Everything appeared to be completely natural, with no signs of inhabitants or any kind of artificial workings whatsoever. The tunnels twisted and turned at random, making it easy to get lost, and occasionally they widened out into large chambers such as the one they had entered in. The only sounds were their echoing footsteps and the steady drip of water.
Eventually they entered another large chamber, and as they did so they were stunned by what they saw. Their lights caused the walls to light up with sparkles of color, and all around them were what appeared to be a field of delicate flowers. Buffy had never seen anything like them, and she couldn't help but approach to get a closer look.
"What are they?" Buffy asked as she examined one. Standing close by, she was shocked to see that it wasn't a flower at all, but rather something made of stone.
"Gypsum flowers," Willow said. "It's a kind of rock formation. They happen in caves sometimes, but they're not common. And the walls look like they have some veins of crystals in them. That's pretty rare, and really pretty. It's pretty, isn't it?"
"Very," Buffy said quietly. Look around, she found herself truly relaxing for the first time since she had left her dimension. She found it difficult to be anxious in a place with such striking natural beauty. Smiling slightly, she sighed and stood. "Still, we can't stay. Dragons don't slay themselves you know."
"Be nice if they did," Willow agreed.
"Put us out of business," Buffy said. "'Course, 's not much of a business, what with the not getting paid and all."
"Hence the bank robbery," Willow said snidely.
Buffy walked on for a few minutes, before finally looking at her friend. "Yes. Hence the bank robbery. And you know what? I'd do it again. I chose to take those girls, and turn them into Slayers. Remember how much I used to complain about being destiny girl? Well, I did that. I did that to them. And if I have to rob banks to make sure they don't have to work someplace with a cow hat 'cause of what I did? I'm okay with that."
"That just makes it okay," Willow countered heatedly. "It was the easiest way to get what you want, so hey! Do whatever. You aren't above the law Buffy."
"We're saving the world. I'm gonna ignore any law that gets in the way of that. Or is it only okay when you do it, miss hacks-a-lot?"
"I did that for you," Willow said, glaring.
"And I did what I did for them," Buffy said. "Do you see me living it up? Partying with the ill gotten gains? I have like, five pairs of shoes. Total. If I robbed banks for me, I'd have to have a whole castle just to store my shoes in. A closet-castle. Instead: five pairs."
Willow smiled slightly at that. "Point. But, how much of our problems with the angry army people are 'cause of your sticky fingers?"
"Considering how they're workin' for Twilight?" Buffy asked. "Anywhere from all to none of the reason."
Willow rolled her eyes. "Knowing you? That means you think that you're all the reason."
"Doesn't mean I'm not," Buffy said, looking away.
"Buffy, you probably feel guilty about Tara dying when Warren shot you," Willow said. "And no matter what you think you saw in that vision, I don't blame you! Really. I mean, sometimes it feels like it was your fault, but that's just me being bad friend Willow. Not reasonable Willow. And I know it. So I don't really blame you, okay? Things happen, and they aren't all your, or anyone's, fault."
"Why is this whole talk about my stuff?" Buffy asked suddenly as they reached the end of the glittering cavern. "'Cause me stealing stuff from insured banks wasn't the only visiony thing that happened that time."
"Nothing to talk about," Willow said shiftily.
"So the snake lady you were getting all... close to was nothing?" Buffy asked.
"Not nothing," Willow said. "Just not a big deal. Compared to being all Slayers Eleven while I was gone. Didn't you beat up Warren and his pals for robbing banks with magic powers?"
"No shifting this blame game back to me miss shifty!" Buffy said firmly. "That wasn't nothing. What have you been doing? 'Cause you still won't give me a straight answer about anything you've been up to."
"What's this really about?" Willow asked heatedly. "What's your problem with me been? I know things were awkward, but not this awkward. What happened? When did you get to be all disapprovey Buffy."
"When did you start doing magic for everything again?" Buffy asked. "You aren't just over your fear of doing any little spell. You're now doing every little spell. It's the first thing you always come up with to do."
"I'm not doing selfish magic," Willow said defensively. "I'm doing magic to save the world. Or should we not have tried to fix Gram? Maybe let Sweden by an all dragons can eat buffet?"
"Maybe not, but I worry," Buffy said. "Sometimes you seem less like my friend Willow, and more like this force of nature. You don't always seem to be using magic. You seem to be magic."
"I changed," Willow replied tersely. "People do, you know. I'm not the mousy little girl who was afraid of being noticed. And you aren't who you used to be either. How often are you the Buffy who made friends with the girl wearing clothes her mom picked out, and how often are you General Buffy?"
"I'm doing what I have to do," Buffy answered defensively. "If I didn't take this seriously, if I wasn't the best leader I could be, then those girls would die. I made them Slayers, and it's my job to lead them. It's what I have to do. And you know what? I'm not bad at it."
"And I'm doing what I have to do," Willow said. "I absorbed so much magic... it's a part of me now. I can't just go back to being shy nerd Willow. Or even confident nerd Willow. I'm witchy Willow for life, just like you're Slayer Buffy. And if I wasn't, people would die for that too. You can't just say it's fine that you changed, but I have to stay the same forever. I'm not your sidekick Buffy!"
Buffy looked stricken for a moment, before suddenly the ground began to shake. "What's happening!" she shouted, staggering against a wall. They had left the larger chamber behind some time ago while arguing, and were now in a narrow passage.
"Earthquake!" Willow shouted. "Or, well, Svartálfa-quake, since we're not on earth."
She was suddenly cut off at the shaking intensified, and the roof began to fall in. Rubble fell all around them, and the two women staggered as dust choked the air. A large rock hit Buffy on the shoulder, but her scream of pain was swallowed by the rumble of the collapsing cavern.
Running away from the weak roofed area, Buffy was barely able to keep her feet. She had tried to grab Willow, but in the end she couldn't reach her, and simply had to trust that she could take care of herself. Of course, given her magic, Buffy suspected that her friend would be more capable of making it through their situation than she was.
Buffy tripped on a crack in the floor, her flashlight falling out of her hand as she hit the ground. Rubble fell on top of her with bruising force, but after several seconds the collapse finally stopped. She lay still for a moment, buried under the rock, her heart pouding with fear. Then a scream caught in her throat, and she began to flail about, her movements panicked.
She was buried alive. Trapped under rubble from a cave in. In a dimension that seemed composed of little besides caverns, which meant that there may well have been no above ground at all. It was, simply put, terrifying.
Her panicked motions didn't calm as she pushed the last of the rubble off of her, pulling herself to freedom with broken nails and lungs full of dust. Coughing and gasping, she barely suppressed a whimper as her eyes struggled to make any sense of the pitch black darkness she found herself surrounded by. Her movements were jerky as she crawled around on bloodied knees, until finally she found her flashlight.
Turning it back on, her heart finally stopped racing as she took in her surroundings. She was at the edge of the collapse, with the tunnel in front of her having stayed free of rubble. Looking around, she saw no sign of her friend. "Willow!" Buffy shouted. "Can you hear me? Willow!"
She stood for a long moment, until her voice stopped echoing back to her. There was no other response. Buffy was all alone, trapped in the dark with no Willow, and no way home.
Brown Allree is a fairy horse that Buffy rode in the first story of this series. Fiat lux means 'let there be light' in Latin. I can't think of a more appropriate wording for a spell to create light than that.
The quote Willow says is from the Fellowship of the Ring, as is the Mines of Moria. Their argument repeatedly refers to the secrets revealed in the No Future For You arc of Season 8.