Lorne Greene sat patiently in the waiting room, exchanging one magazine for another from the small end table beside him. He began flipping through the lightly scented pages until he found a story that seemed remotely interesting and engrossed himself in it for a few moments.
When the tiny bell let out a ding, he lifted his head up from the magazine and turned to look at the two young women coming inside. "Come on, Tara," the one with the curly red hair said gently to the other. She reached a hand out to the blonde and assured her everything was fine.
The blonde slowly came in, babbling like a young child. She was in pajama's and had a cast on one hand. When they passed, the blonde seemed to stop being as 'out there' and looked directly at him. He threw her a smile. She began rocking her body back and forth. "Something's coming," she said.
The redhead turned her head and shot him a polite smile then turned her attention back to the blonde. She said soft whispers and tucked some of the hair that had fallen from the blonde's ponytail behind her ear. And soon had them walking up to the front desk to check in before going to find a seat.
Lorne gave them another glance before returning to the magazine.
It was a few minutes later when she, the blonde called Tara, began to hum. A shock rippled through Lorne at the first note. He sucked in a breath and listened as she continued, humming and soon she was rocking her body in the office chair, her eyes wandering aimlessly around the room.
Once again, out of nowhere it seemed, she looked at him once she finished. "You saw it, too, right?"
Lorne tried hard to swallow. He had, through her.
Angelus woke with a groan. He laid in bed for a few extra moments before rolling over and turning his alarm off. Sitting at the edge of his large bed, he scratched his neck, yawned, then rubbed his eyes. It took a few cycles of doing such before he actually pulled himself to his feet, going to use the bathroom and start his shower and begin getting ready for the day ahead.
Sitting down for breakfast in his usual spot, his eyes flicked to the large television screen while the servants busied about him, getting his meal an the table ready around him. As the report coverage for the story ended, they directed the attention over to the meteorologist. At this, Angelus rolled his eyes. He had half a mind to remove such a thing as weather reports from Wolfram and Hart all together. Yes, there were better days and there were worst days, but hardly enough for it to be news.
With a growl, he turned the television off, forgot about breakfast and stormed out.
Wolfram and Hart was a kingdom more popularly known as "The Dark Realm." To which, it lived up its name. From the darkness, the evil that flowed in the air here to the fact that the sky was overcast entirely in gray and the rain poured down all day, every single day.
As for the weather, one day... the storm clouds gathered and they never left. No sun broke through, though you could somewhat tell when it was meant to be daylight. No matter how much effort was put into artificial light, it still made little difference... inside or out. Their world was always black, light always dimmed somehow. Headlights on cars were always in use, streetlamps always on. Additional attempts to make it brighter outside remained on, helping what little it could. Houses never seemed bright enough. Offices never lit right. It was always cold, but livable for the most part. The actual temperature never ventured out of a ten degree bracket ninety-nine of the time. No question to you were better off inside your home, office, car, or wherever though than actually out there in it. The wind always blew, lightening crackled in the sky at least five times a day, and the rain... it fell and it fell and it fell. Generally, it stayed on course, a steady downpour.
A handful of times the weather increased, getting out of control, storms gathering that devastate everything in their path... but for the most part, things remain the same here, at the end of the worlds.
As for the curse, that brought the weather, that brought the endless dark... well, that all traced back to the great-grandfather of Angelus Hart.
Once, this area was all ran together by three families: the Wolf family, Ram and Hart family. That is how it always had been, for as long as anyone could remember. Then, over time, a rift in the workings started to form. By the time his great-grandfather was in place, the land was on the brink of chaos. The three families couldn't get their acts together.
There's many theories, but the most popular is the tension and chaos erupting between these men and this land actually created the witch. That she came to exist because they left "an opening." Nevertheless, she came. And when she did, the three families broke apart completely. And everyone else living here went into an uproar.
She came to each of them, the witch did, using their anger, their greed, their power. She manipulated them further against one another and the people they ruled over. The riots rang out. The slaughtering began.
The three families were the worst of it, basically going into all-out war with one another.
His great-grandfather was almost lost, feeding into along with everyone else. According to him though, at the very last moment before it would all fall, something he called "an angel" saved him. Saved all of them. In almost a single instance, he regained himself, regained his family heritage. He stopped the madness with himself first then went to work on the kingdom. His family and a few close friends bound together and formulated a plan, guidance in here from this so-called angel, and they went after the evil witch.
Defeating her in the end. Or so they thought. After all the damage that had already been done, over the last few centuries through the last several months, she went out with an even larger bang.
Before they could get to her, the witch murdered the Wolf and Ram families in their entirety. She went after the families of everyone helping the Hart family, nearly wiping them out completely as well, only a scattered few surviving. Members of his own family were picked off, one by one, until he was the only one standing.
Her last words rang out, loud as she could make them, in a language no one knew. After she finished, and as he had gotten to her, the iciness ran through him and somehow he understood what she had cursed him with. Then, the flooding began.
In a matter of seconds, the kingdom was all but washed away. And as quickly as it came, it went.
The body of the witch, gone.
And that's when the dark crept in. The rain began. Evil remained hanging in the air.
Most of the land was destroyed. Families were gone... from the fighting, from the flooding, from the witch herself. But with who they had left, they rebuilt with what they had left. Against all odds.
But, as time went on, the realized more and more at what cost.
Angelus Hart was approaching his thirtieth year. He had been King of The Dark Realm for nearly two decades. Which his crowning itself had caused quite an uproar given his young age, but they were without any other choice. His father had taken his own life and there was only Angelus to take his place.
His father's act had been a blessing to Angelus. In fact, he had no doubt he played a large part in the reasoning. But at the end of the day, h didn't really care. Not after the years and years of abuse and neglect at his father's hands.
His mother had been what his father called nothing but a mistake. And he, an even worse one than that. A drunken night out led to number three, which lead to the wedding to avoid a scandal, which later led to her death at his birth and being left with the father that wanted nothing to do with him.
Hart's had been left cold since the curse, but his father was evil beyond what ran in their bloodline. He made for an awful ruler, and a monster of a father.
They'd had to take six months before actually presenting him to the public as the new king. He'd been a mess when they found him. Chained up in a room in the basement of the mansion, beaten, starved, near death with illness.
He was finally found and freed, given the care he needed, and then he took his place as leader of this land.
Even with the dark future such a task held, it was still brighter than his past. And he swore he would do the best he could, that he wouldn't be his father, that he would change things as much as he could. For himself, for those around him, for the kingdom itself.
As time went on, it became harder to remember who he was. At times, even impossible. The cold would take over, the evil would control him, but so far, he always regained power over it.
They were all cursed. He was, and with some of the worst of it. His land was. Every single person who lived here, in one way or another, the cursed seeped into all of them. But he was always trying to do his best. He wasn't perfect, but he was trying.
Angelus ducked from under the hood of the black umbrella into the comfort of the backseat of one of his cars. He nodded to the man who helped him out and watched as the black door was shut. He let out a sigh then called out to the driver, letting him know the plans for the day.
A few minutes later, they were heading down the long drive to the mansion and out the gate.
Angelus sighed, leaning his head back. He was tired and hungry. And he did not like where they were heading either. The last time he was at one of these meetings he nearly killed the woman when he lost control of himself during their non-stop arguments. He would be dealing with the daughter mostly, who was no fan of him obviously, having not yet forgiven him.
He'd put this off for as long as he could though, so he figured he might as well get it over with and hope for the best.
They were only a few blocks away and stopped at a red light. Angelus sighed again, mentally going over what he intended to say once they arrived as well as practicing some calming techniques in case all hell broke loose.
Leaning forward to grab a bottle of water, suddenly... he heard... nothing. His hand stilled, fingertips barely touching the white cap of the bottle. His mouth was slightly opened, his eyes going from one side, up and over to the other.
There was a cough. "Um, s-sir?"
His head turned slightly. He let out a breath. "It stopped," he whispered.
The driver opened his mouth but nothing came out.
Angelus swallowed hard then told him to unlock the back doors. Once he heard the click, he carefully opened one side, afraid of what he might find.
Stepping out, he noticed a throng of other dumbfounded people doing the same thing as he. They came out of their houses, stood outside of their cars, staring. Angelus looked around at them, then up at the sky.
The sky was still dark, but no rain fell.
His eyes traveled across the sky. Nothing seemed otherwise out of place... until he spotted it. He nearly jumped at the sight. Far off, there was a... a spot. It was almost like a hole in the sky. Yellow looking beams fell through it. "What is that?" he breathed.
He felt someone move closer from behind. "I... I believe it's... it's sunlight?" his driver's voice spoke.
Angelus pushed the double doors to one of his home's libraries, gaining the attention of the two men he was tracking down. "What the hell is going on?" he asked.
Wesley opened his mouth. Then shut it. Opened it again, tilted his head... then shut his mouth once more and looked across the table.
Rupert Giles cleared his throat and stood, taking his glasses off in the process to wipe on the bottom of his shirt. "Well," he puffed out a chuckle, "we honestly have no idea," he replied truthfully.
Wesley stood up quickly, holding up his index finger. "Not yet anyway," he threw in.
"Are you kidding me?" Angelus asked.
"Well, it is quite unexpected," Wesley said then sat back down at the glare the King sent him.
"The rain that has plagued this place for over 150 years just ups and stops one day," he said, pacing the floor. "A beam of what I am told is freakin' sunlight shows up out of nowhere and is apparently growing, cutting a line across our skies, and no one has any clue as to why? Correct?"
Giles sighed, finally putting his frames back on his face. "We are looking into it, sir. But no, right now, we have answers for you."
Angelus sighed. "What am I supposed to tell them?" he asked after a moment. "Everybody has questions." He'd been getting flooded with them the whole way here, from himself and everyone else. It was nearly a mob back on the roads before they turned around and came back to the house. The driver would not shut up, which almost ended very badly for both of them. There were people following his car. People packed at the gates. Those who worked at the mansion coming up to him.
Why did this happen? He did not have a clue. How? Same. Was the rain gone for good? He had no idea. Was something else coming? Was the witch going to return? Was the curse broken? All very valid questions, all he wished he had an answer for.
\A goddamn sunbeam. Why was it here? Did it have to do with the rain disappearing? Where was it? Why did it seem to be growing? What's over there? Is this a next phase of something? Is this a good thing? A bad thing?
He had never seen actual sunlight like this before. He had never left the kingdom, he knew nothing but what they had lived with here his whole life. He had seen films made in other lands a handful of times, learned about them in teachings, read books, seen artwork depicting such a thing, even seen live photographs.. but this was all very new to him. To everyone.
About an hour later, Wesley stepped out onto the front steps of the mansion to host a press conference. He released a long statement about the current state of affairs then went on to the questions. Not that they had many answers on anything but they decided it was best to address the public with reassurance and tell them what little they did know.
"Where is King Hart?" one young reporter asked.
Wesley cleared his throat. "The King thought it would be best if he went to personally investigate..."
The area which was now lit up from the sky opening up was a mess by the time Angelus arrived. He growled in the car as they got closer, seeing the endless crowd of people who had the same idea as he to come see this up close and personal. Thankfully he had figured this would be the case and brought security back up in case they needed it.
Besides the obvious, nothing seemed different, nothing seemed out of place.
He let his men deal with both the crowd control and doing their own investigation while he tried to sneak off to himself.
Angelus stood under the beams, amazed by the warmth that hit him. His eyes squinted against the sun as he looked up then around, trying to see any sort of sign of why this might be happening. As most were trying to follow the path the line was making, he decided to re-trace it and see where it started, if he could.
By the time they reached such a spot, the day was nearly gone, night falling on them. But to be honest, looking up through the hole in the world, even that was different than what he had known and seen his whole life. Angelus reached the fenced wall that marked the beginning of Wolfram and Hart. It started underground and went up. He wasn't sure exactly how high but it seemed to go on forever. You couldn't see under, around, through or above it. And as far as he could tell, it was as it always had been.
When the sun finally set, the stars came out, stealing the king's breath away. He used to believe they went on forever. But there's an end to everything, as he learned later. As with everything here. Their universe was in a dome, they were on one end and somewhere out there was the other. The sky, the stars, the sun... only went so far until it reached the top. The ground below them only went so far. There was always beyond that he supposed, somehow, what was outside of the walls, but no one knew.
Many remained in the area, and though he would have liked to as well, he gathered up those he needed and said he was returning home for the night.
At the sound of the thud, the car slammed to a stop. A feminine scream was year a bit in the distance. Angelus cursed.
Getting out of the car, he cursed again, watching a form slide off the back of the vehicle.
"What the hell are you doing?"
"Tara!" a voice shouted.
Angelus looked to the side, seeing a redhaired girl being held back by guards. Behind her, a crowd was still gathered. He sighed and went around to the girl climbing to her feet. She stood on shaky legs and looked up at him, her eyes half-wild. "We have to help her," she told him.
His eyes went back to the redhead. "What's wrong with her?"
The blonde grabbed his hand. She didn't seem to notice his eyes flashing black when she did or him taking a step away from her and out of her grasp. "Not her," she said, then repeated that a few times before going into babbling nonsense.
"Tara!" the other girl shouted. "It's okay, honey." She looked at Angelus, eyes pleading. "I'm so sorry, she just... I could't catch her or stop her in time," she told him. "She doesn't mean any harm, I promise." She paused for a moment. "She's a Glory kid," Willow explained.
Angelus growled at the mention of that particular beast. He took a deep breath next then waved the redhead in. She rushed over and began comforting the blonde.
"Willow," this Tara whispered. "She's in danger."
"Who is she talking about?" he asked before shaking his head. Most likely it was no one. Those who came in contact with Glory had been left rather mentally impaired. Some more than others.
"Nobody," Willow quickly replied. "I just need to take her home."
He was about to turn away when the girl spoke again. "The girl... the girl who brought the sun."
This made him look back at the pair. "You know how all of this happened?" he asked despite the situation.
"She brought the sun."
"The girl..." she began then suddenly jumped to a another babbling fit. "She's not from here," Tara continued after it was over.
At that, he decided he had enough and excused himself. There was no way that was possible. There was no way in or out of this place. Not since the curse.
"I... I can prove it!" came from behind him. "Tomorrow. Tomorrow I can prove it. I can show you."
Buffy made her way back up the tree she had claimed for the night. It'd taken a lot of time and effort for this given the flock of people who seemed to be just everywhere. She got back to her spot and retied the rope around her waist then reached for one of her two bags she had with her. She grabbed a few berries she was saving in case she got hungry after her meal and ate those and one of her containers of water to wash them down with. She reached in for her blanket and put it across her the best she could. Having gone kingdom to kingdom had introduced her to many things, including a wide variety of climates, but she was apparently not made for any of these cooler places.
At least the rain and wind had stopped when she fully made it over. She didn't know too much about The Dark Realm honestly but she'd heard the rumors and stories and was not exactly looking forward to what she knew about the place.
But, on the other hand, it worried her. It couldn't just be an accident that the weather changed once both her feet his the ground. That suddenly the sky opened up above her and seemed to be following her. And that she did not need. The attention that brought, she did not need. This was supposed to be her safe haven, if she could just keep out of sight. No one was supposed to be able to get in or out. No one was going to be looking for her here of all places. She'd skipped through several lands, several kingdoms to get here, to the end of the world. It'd taken nearly everything she had to make it, and some stupid opening of the sky was trying to ruin that.
If she needed to, she thought she had probably saved enough dust to get back on the other side. But what would she do then? Keep running from one place to another? Running here sounded better in her plans. It was different here. She could make it work. Had to.
She put the water back into the bag and then tried to get a little more comfortable. Her eyes closed and she tried to get her mind to turn off. She needed rest if she was going to come up with a plan. She'd been going non-stop for days. Tomorrow... she could come up with her next move. Right now, she just needed a few hours of sleep.
"Tara, what are you thinking?" Willow whispered.
Tara stroked her girlfriend's face. "Believe in me, believe in this," she told her. Next she walked around, clumsily, gather items from the mansion, all with a handful of people watching her every move. Sometimes she would ask for help or directions but mostly just fluttered about on her own.
Once she gathered everything that was needed up, she asked the king about a certain item. A mirror. "How do you know about that?" he growled.
She giggled and went off into her own world for awhile. "When the new day approaches, I can show you where she is." Tara turned to Willow. "I'm going to need you. I always need you."
Willow gave a sad look her way. She'd never seen Tara act this way and didn't know how to handle it.