I own Mr. Beltaine, Sandra Ogawa, Denise Parkinson and the Hell's Belles, all others are owned by the mighty Joss Whedon. I'm just playing in his dark sandbox.
Rating; PG-13 to R
This is the continuation of my series, "Somewhere I Have Never Traveled", my own personal epic. I'm looking at a trilogy, and now that I have a threat worthy of the mighty Slayer, I'm looking forward to springing it on you.
Buffy and Willow are reunited after the Slayer's return from Hell. But what are these strange dreams that Buffy is having? Who is the mysterious Mr. Beltaine? Where do Spike and Darla figure? And what happened to Faith?
Spoiler; Fourth Season up to "Hush" and "I Will Remember You"; Angel the Series
Somewhere I Have Never Travelled
Book Two; The Sang Real
Written by Kirayoshi
We have met the enemy, and he is us.
~From the diaries of Rupert Giles~
February 11, 1999
Today, I became a traitor.
I have betrayed the finest, most noble woman I have ever known. Because I had not the stomach to tell my superiors in the Watchers Council that what they were doing was wrong.
Buffy Summers just left the library. I sat by silently as she left. She was still weakened by the muscle relaxant that I had pumped into her veins. She still has no idea why her strength has deserted her, why her reflexes are at half of their norm, why her speed is not up to standard. And I sat by without saying anything. I just watched as she marched on to certain doom.
That's what I do, isn't it? I Watch. I'm a Watcher. A worthless, bloody Watcher!
Damn Quentin, damn him to the deepest pits of Hell! When I confront him tomorrow, I intend to resign my position as Watcher. Then I shall tell Buffy the truth about how I have betrayed her, and accept her anger, her hatred of me. Believe me, she cannot hate me as much as I hate myself.
February 12, 1999, 12:05 PM
Quentin refused to even listen to me when I confronted him. He insisted that we were following the traditions of the Watcher's Counsel.
Shortsighted little toady!
I told him that he and his bloody traditions could go to Hell! I tendered my resignation to the Watcher's Council and informed him that I was ending the test. He responded that the test was in progress; that Buffy had gone to face Kralik. That she would soon pass the test or die.
I felt a strange satisfaction when my fist impacted with his jaw. He simply ordered me to start packing my bags, that I would be recalled to England within the next two days. I told him to go to Hell.
February 12, 1999, 8:30 PM
It's all my fault!
She failed in her battle with Kralik. She has fallen.
Kralik somehow managed to escape his confinement in the safehouse where Quentin was keeping him, he burst out of his cage and turned several Council employees. He then attacked and abducted Joyce Summers, in order to force Buffy to confront him. And he defeated her in battle. Without her Slayer strength, she was no match for a psychotic vampire like Kralik.
Just how do I know this? Because late last night, she knocked on my door. I invited her in, steeling myself for what I had to do. I offered her tea, allowed her to rest on my couch, then I sat in the overstuffed chair beside her. I confessed my crimes to her, how I was responsible for her weakened condition. How I had been ordered by the Council to subject her to this rite of passage. I spoke with caution, expecting her to attack me at any moment. Her temper is legendary.
Dear God, I wasn't prepared for what happened. She just looked at me, without emotion, without any rage at all. She just stared, almost as though she were looking past me, through me. She then smiled, and I could see an almost imperceptible change in her. A coldness, a terrible knowledge, something that reminded me of--
Of Drusilla. That's when I realized the truth.
She said to me; "So you're the one responsible for what happened to me? For making me--" Her face contorted, her brow shifted, her eyes turned sickly yellow. Her teeth were bared, and sharp fangs emerged from her mouth.
Dear God, she's a vampire!
"And I was just going to kill you, Giles," the monster that had once been Buffy Summers snarled at me, as she leapt from the couch and punched me in the gut, hard. She cuffed me on the back of the neck, and kicked me in the ribs several times for good measure, before she spoke again. "It's too bad you never gave my mom a chance, after that whole band candy incident. I guess it's too late now, seeing as how I drained her just now. Ooh, she was so sweet." The predatory leer on her face spoke volumes to me. Gone forever was the woman whom I had regarded as a surrogate daughter. In her place stood a creature which combined the strengths of a Slayer with the powers of a vampire. And it was all my fault.
She walked toward the door, as though I weren't worth her time. She then turned around, and smiled, almost sweetly. "No, you aren't worth the effort of killing. I'll keep you around for a while. And every person I kill, and believe me, we're talking triple digits at the very least, their deaths will be on your hands as well! Toodles!" She left my place and before I could follow her, disappeared into the night.
I spent the last hour setting up magical wards against Buffy; having invited the vampire, I had to recite the proper spell to 'uninvite' her. I then tried to call the others, but only contacted their parents. I informed them calmly that I needed to speak to them. I doubt they will get the message; I am aware that the parents of Sunnydale tend to look upon me as a dirty old man, not one with whom they would trust with the safety and well-being of their children. All I can do now is ready myself, and pray.
It is my fault that the Slayer is now a vampire. I must rectify that mistake.
I have to slay Buffy.
February 17, 1999
As Shakespeare once said, "One woe doth tread upon another's heels, so fast they follow".
She calls herself Bathory now. She had listened to Willow babble on about how she had read about Countess Bathory, the mad Romanian noblewoman who slaughtered virgins, believing that their blood would make her immortal. And now, Bathory has taken the others.
Willow was first. I encountered her last night, standing alone in Wetherly Park. I tried to warn her off, to explain what happened to Buffy. She just smiled at me, and changed. Buffy -- I mean Bathory, stepped behind her and kissed her soundly on the lips. Evidently Bathory had made Willow a willing lover as well as a vampire. Bathory then pointed to the pile of corpses the two of them had recently drained, that I had failed to notice in the first place. Willow then whistled, and a wolf-like creature ran toward her on all fours, and knelt beside his mistress, allowing her to scratch behind his ears.
My eyes widened when I recognized him. "Oz?"
Willow nodded to the beast, who changed before me into Daniel Ozbourne. But he still knelt beside Willow, like a trained lap dog. "I control his transformations now," Willow explained, smiling evilly, "not the moon."
"You've lost, Giles," Bathory growled at me. "I'm in charge now! Sunnydale is mine! And I will destroy everything you ever loved!"
The next night, she called my house, to inform me that Faith, Xander and Cordelia had been turned as well. They hadn't bothered to turn Oz, he was more effective to their cause as a mindless werewolf. I turned on the news, and the anchorman had reported many violent murders. Violent ends are not uncommon here in Sunnydale, seeing as how we are close to the Hellmouth, but this many, so quickly, even the populace of this town couldn't ignore them. Among the fatalities over the last twenty-four hours were, to my lack of surprise, the parents of Willow, Xander and Cordelia, Mr. Snyder and a large percentage of the school faculty. The reporters claimed that the police had no leads, but I knew exactly what was going on. The former Scooby Gang were having their revenge.
After I had seen the news, I desperately phoned the Watcher's Council; Quentin had quietly left town after the test. I begged them for help in this matter. They informed me that, from this moment on, Sunnydale was no longer their concern, and that as far as they were concerned, the sooner I died, the better. I was told to never contact them again, before the line disconnected.
I had tried to contact Angel for the last few nights, with no luck. I must assume that Bathory has dealt with him as well. I am also aware of the lack of activity in the demonic circles. Even Mayor Wilkins, who I know has dabbled in dark forces, has been weirdly absent these last few days.
So I am alone in my battle with my former allies. These five young people, once the bravest, most self-sacrificing individuals I had ever encountered, now perhaps the greatest threats the world had ever seen. Sunnydale was abandoned, no help would be coming, and I now prepare, alone, to fight my friends. This will very likely be my final entry in this diary. If by chance, a future Slayer finds this book, let me give this one word of advice to you;
Ignore the Watcher's Council. Do not trust them, do not believe them, not even if they tell you that rain is wet. They are as much to blame for any of this mess, they and their hidebound need for ritual and tradition. Do what you know is right. Oppose the Council at all costs. They are as much the enemy as any vampire you will ever face. Their arrogance, their sanctimonious belief that their archaic traditions are right, will be their undoing.
I know this, for I supported them. And my beliefs have damned a beautiful, brave young woman. A woman named Buffy Summers.
I am dying.
I have failed in my efforts to slay Bathory and the others. And my failure has doomed the world.
Bathory had somehow discovered where that fool Quentin had hidden the crypt of Acaltha once it had been closed by Buffy, when she fought Angelus to save the world last year. Ironically, now it was Bathory who had finished what Angelus started.
Bathory's clan had relocated to Angel's old mansion. I was correct in my earlier assumption that Bathory had slain Angel. I am somewhat surprised that they didn't try to take his soul from him. An attempted seduction, an offer of bliss, that's all it would take. I suppose they didn't think him worthy.
I had brought spare stakes and a fully loaded crossbow with me, when I stormed the mansion. The first attack came from the werewolf. I shooed him away, hit him with a tranquilizing dart. I hoped foolishly that I might be able to save him once I had dispatched the others.
I didn't have a chance. Xander and Willow dropped behind me, and attacked mercilessly. It had been too long since I had taken the field. I had reached for my crucifix, but didn't find it. I glanced at Oz, only to see him toss a silver chain out the window. His attack must have been meant to rid me of any crosses and holy water before the vampires attacked me. And it had worked.
Before I could get enough leverage to break the deathgrip of Willow's arms around my neck, Bathory made her move. She threw me aside, and slashed at me with her sword. I tried to feint her attacks, to dodge the arc of her blade, but she was too fast for me. Soon, Xander had me pinned, and made motions for my throat, when Bathory stopped him.
"No, Xander," she glared, her voice was authority itself. "He's mine." She smiled at me as she walked toward me, saying, "Admit it, Giles, you wanted to get this close to me since the first day we met, when you dropped that book about vampires in my lap." She was now centimeters away from me, her lips redder than any blood. "Well, enjoy it while it lasts, because mine is the last face you will ever see."
Unable to reach her, I spat at her. "The one whom I loved as a daughter is dead. You are not she."
She glared at me, then slapped my cheek, hard. "And you are not anything," she shouted at me, her face corrupted into that of a vampire, "but a food source."
I closed my eyes, and made my peace with God, as I felt two sharp pricks pierce my neck.
I awoke, half-drained, in the middle of the desert. They must have drove me there, and left my body behind. I wasn't even good enough for her to finish off. She was going to let the desert take me.
So be it. I tried to stand up, but my legs failed me. I was lost, and I knew it. I had lost too much blood to survive for very much longer. I tried to look around me, to get my bearings, when I saw them.
Terrible greasy red clouds hanging over the horizon, spreading their taint to the rest of the night sky.
"She has finished her goal, Rupert Giles," a voice intoned behind me. I craned my neck as much as I could, to see the speaker. She was a golden-skinned woman, regal in bearing, dressed in an impossibly complex Greek toga. A wisdom shone around her, and a power, a power that sustained me somehow. I felt my limbs strengthen as I gazed at her.
I had heard and read the legends of this woman and her male companion, but I never believed I would encounter her. "Are you an Oracle?" I stammered.
"I am," she said sadly. "Alas, I fear you are the last mortal on this plane who will ever see me." She pointed to the red stain in the sky, saying, "Acaltha walks the earth. The one you once knew as Buffy has done her work. The monster Acaltha has damned all humanity to Hell on earth."
I lowered my head in despair. "So I have failed in my mission to defend the light against the darkness."
"Only in this world, Rupert Giles," she answered in a kind voice. "I can only sustain you for so long, Watcher. And soon, Bathory and her clan will seek to extend their evil to other worlds, other dimensions. You have one last task to perform." With a wave of her hand, she produced from thin air this Watcher's diary. "You must record the last battle, so that the Watcher and the Slayer of their next world will know what they face."
I nodded, taking book and pen from her hands, and set my hand to writing one last time. I found it strangely comforting to do this, that writing should be my last act in this world.
So there is my story. I have erred, by following the wrong orders, and in so doing, doomed my world. I am assured by the Oracle that this book will fall in the right hands. I warn you, Watcher and Slayer, whoever you are, beware Lady Bathory. Beware her followers, Willow Rosenberg, Xander Harris, Daniel Ozborne and Cordelia Chase. They may be the most dangerous opponents you ever faced.
And above all else, beware the compulsion to follow orders blindly. If your instincts dispute your orders, follow your instincts. You must believe for yourself that what you do is right, is proper, is what must be done. If you don't question those who command, you are not fit to be the Slayer. Or a Watcher.
These are the last words of the Rupert Giles of this world. I wish whoever receives this diary better luck than I experienced. I pray that you will never have to face the mistakes I have made. Or the consequences of my mistakes.
Beware of Lady Bathory. Beware---------
Giles stared at the book, thunderstruck. The evil he had witnessed through the eyes of his counterpart, the damage that had been done because this Rupert Giles had said yes, when he himself had said no. He had read the book aloud, and the effect on the others was no less dramatic. Only Mr. Beltaine, who had read the book before, stood unmoved. Buffy instinctively placed her arms around Willow's shoulder, feeling the red haired wiccan tremble as Giles spoke. The two of them retained this close contact, afraid of losing each other if they let go.
"The Oracle came to me last year," Mr. Beltaine continued as Giles placed the book on the coffee table in front of him, "and gave me that book. I knew that I had to contact the Slayer. I had heard that Buffy Summers and her friends were still alive and well in Sunnydale, so I sent my spies to find them. They reported back that the Slayer had been killed, evidently by Bathory's servant Oz. She had sent Oz to this world to prepare for her coming, by killing the one person who could challenge her."
"So when you heard of Buffy's death," Denise Parkinson asked, "is that when you tried to contact Faith?""I did," Beltaine admitted. "She was unruly, untrustworthy, had made her share of mistakes," Faith sat beside Beltaine, squirming at his observations, not because he made them in front of her, but because they were true. "However," he added, noticing her discomfort, "she had the potential for redemption, and the power I would need to mount an offensive against Bathory. Unfortunately, she was locked up rather tightly in her prison. By the time I had been able to determine a method of, um, liberating her," he chuckled lightly, "vampires employed by Wolfram and Hart had turned her. It did make it easier for me to remove her body once the prison officials had her discarded, but it also necessitated the use of the Greater Orb of Thessula to restore her soul."
"Actually, luv," Spike commented, "these last two weeks led to an entirely new experience for me; I was actually glad that you weren't dead, Buffy." He tried to speak in his normal level of bluster, but Buffy could pick up the genuine undertones of earnestness in his voice. She started to believe that the monster that was William the Bloody was truly dead, buried by his newfound soul.
"Yes, Mr. Blood is right," Beltaine agreed. "Your return, Buffy Summers, has given me hope. But I fear we will not have much time to prepare."
"You're saying that my double's coming to Sunnydale?" Buffy asked.
"I am sure of it," Beltaine answered. "That is why Darla has recruited those formidable women with the motorcycles. She plans to lead them in a ritual that will pierce the dimensional veil and bring Lady Bathory and her clan to Earth." He leaned toward Buffy, his expression one of contrition. "I am aware that you have had much information to process these last few days. But this world needs you. Perhaps now more than ever."
Buffy digested the information that she had been given. Another Slayer, another Buffy, another Scooby gang, only evil, and augmented by vampiric strength. She looked at Willow, searching her green eyes, and asked, "Well, Wills, you up to saving the world?"
Willow nodded toward her fiancee, her resolve face firmly in place. "Always." She took Buffy's hand in her own.
"Hey, count me in, too," Xander added, reaching across to join hands with his two best friends.
"And don't forget us," Tara and Sandra agreed, joining their hands with the others. Denise and Giles also joined them, as Giles vowed, "You have my word, Buffy Summers, Denise and I will do everything in our power to help in this crisis."
"And you can count on my support as well," Angel added. "I have some connections in L.A. One call from me, they'll be here."
"And you will have the aid of my people," Mr. Beltaine promised. "I am not without resources, both in men, in finances and in more esoteric areas. I may have some magic tomes that even the old Council was unaware of," he added, winking at Giles. Spike, Faith and Oz nodded their agreement, silently pledging to give everything they had, up to and including their lives, to the cause.
"Okay," Buffy announced solemnly, "Some of us have to wake up in the morning, so we'll call it a night. Tomorrow night, we meet here and start planning our strategies." The gang started to disperse, as Xander headed out to return to police headquarters; he might have to recruit some help and equipment from Night Shift for this one.
Before Willow joined Buffy in the night air on their way home, Oz stopped her. "Hey," he said to his former love. Willow turned around, regarding the man whom she once blamed for her sorrow of the last year. She was no longer angry at him, but she still couldn't quite bring herself to fully trust him. He would have to earn that, as far as she was concerned.
"I just wanted to say," Oz continued, "I'm glad you and Buffy hooked up. She's good for you." He dropped his head, and Willow thought she could see a tear fall down the normally taciturn musician's cheek. "A lot better than I would have been."
Willow smiled sadly, lifting Oz's chin with her finger. "Yeah, she is good for me," she declared. "But I'm glad you're back in my life." She wasn't sure where those words came from, but the moment she said them, she knew them to be true. "Still friends?"
"Always," he answered, gripping her hand in a hearty handshake. Oz let go, and headed back up the stairs.
"Hey," Buffy wrapped her arms around Willow's waist. "You okay?"
Willow looked up at the face she loved more than any other. "Yeah," she said, smiling. "For the first time in a long time, I'm really okay." She kissed her love fully on the lips. They cherished this closeness, praying that it wouldn't end.
Tomorrow, they prepared for battle. Tonight, they simply wanted to be together, to make love, to maintain this connection. To be truly alive in the light of their love.
"DAMN!" Rizzo shouted as she and the others made their way back to the warehouse. She steadied Frenchie on one side as Frenchie's leg still ached from the holy-water treated splinters, while Leather cradled her shoulder, still wincing from the holy-water bullet.
Darla emerged from her hiding place, to see her wounded sisters. "Rough night, girls?" she asked.
"That bitch Slayer's so dead once I get my hands into her!" Rizzo screamed, as she deposited Frenchie onto the couch, and collapsed on the easy chair next to her.
"Yeah, just save me that red-haired girlfriend of hers," Leather answered as she sat next to Frenchie, and cradled her lover's body in her arms. "After what she did to Frenchie, I'm gonna think up new ways to hurt her!"
"Yeah, and that cop friend of theirs too," Frenchie complained, kissing Leather hotly. "Look what he did to my Leather's shoulder."
"And you idiots left your bikes behind," Darla complained. "Stop your complaining. One good day's sleep and you'll be good as new." She stalked the other three like a drill sergeant, saying, "Besides, tomorrow night, we have plans. I need you alive and well to perform the ritual. In three nights, we must prepare to summon Lady Bathory. With her and her clan on our side, the Slayer and her followers will be defeated!" The four vampires nodded, smiling wickedly.
Soon, they vowed, they would have their revenge on the Slayer.
Xander Harris came back to his single-bedroom apartment, his body and mind worn out. After what he had seen and heard this night, he despaired at the possibility of getting a good night's sleep. He took his jacket off, and started to remove his police holster, when a voice called out; "Xander? Is that you?"
Xander almost drew his gun out, until he belatedly recognized the speaker. "Geez, Cordy! Don't scare me like that!" He turned and saw Cordy getting up from the sofa. They met in the middle of the living room, in a warm embrace. "God I'm glad you're here," he said to his fiancee.
"You're the one who left me a spare key, and I had to see you," Cordy answered, and Xander could hear the tension in her voice. "I desperately needed to be here, with you, after -- after --"
"You had one of those visions?" Xander asked.
"Yeah, a nasty one," she admitted. "I saw you and the others, you were being attacked by vampires." She shook in Xander's arms, as Xander eased her onto the couch and continued to hold her. "And Buffy, oh God, Buffy was one of them--" She could barely speak further, and her breathing was labored. "She tried to kill you!"
"Hey, don't worry, Cordy," Xander said, stroking her hair. "I'm not going anywhere. Besides, it wasn't Buffy." Cordy looked at him oddly, and he gave her one of his patented goofy Xander smiles. He then told her about the meeting with Mr. Beltaine, and the revelations he had heard that night. "The good news is that Buffy's back in the Slayer game. The bad news is that we'll be facing off against her evil double. That's who you must have seen attacking me."
"God, have I mentioned lately that I hate being a Seer?" Cordy grinned weakly. She cuddled into Xander's shoulder some more. "I wish I was more brave, like you are."
"Hey, you're the one marrying a cop," Xander commented. Cordy lifted her head to offer Xander a kiss, which he accepted. Their mutual need for comfort quickly gave way to passion, and their kisses became more urgent.
"I don't want to leave here tonight," Cordy said breathlessly.
"I don't want you to go," Xander answered. They kissed some more.
"God, Xander," Cordy whispered as they broke off the kiss and allowed Xander to lead her to his bedroom. "How did I get so lucky to get a second chance with you?"
Xander grinned, and coughed, "A-hem-karma-a-hem." Cordy playfully slapped his arm. He grinned back, and for the rest of the night, the two lovers were able to forget their fears and their concerns in their love for each other.
Joyce Summers arrived at the townhouse that her daughter shared with Willow, and knocked at their door. Buffy answered the door and hugged her mother. "Hey, Mom, good to see you."
"Thanks for inviting me," Joyce answered as she entered the house. She admired the tasteful decor, before continuing. "Is Willow here?""Right here, Mrs. Summers," Willow poked her head out of the kitchen. "You want anything?"
"Iced tea if you have it," Joyce answered. As she sat down, and Willow emerged with three glasses of tea, she looked at her daughter and asked, "So, any reason why you invited me here?""Well, Mom," Buffy started hesitantly, "Willow and I have a few announcements to make." Yeah, she added to herself, I'm gonna be fighting a vampire version of myself soon. Nah, I think I'll skip that part.
Willow sat beside Buffy as Buffy continued. "First, my amnesia cleared yesterday. Giles and Willow helped me remember everything."
Joyce sighed audibly. "I was kind of hoping you could forget being the Slayer."
"Yeah, you and me both," Buffy admitted. "But we have something else to announce." She took Willow's hand in her own, and started, haltingly, "Mom, I know that you've always supported me, and my relationship with Willow, despite the same-sex thing, so we want to tell you together, Mom,--"
"We're getting married," Willow chirped brightly. Buffy glared half-seriously at Willow, saying, "Hey, I wanted to say it!"Willow smiled impishly at her beloved, and kissed her nose. Joyce took in the sight of her daughter, looking happier than she had ever seen her.
"I'm so glad to hear that," Joyce declared. "Welcome to the family, Willow." She took her future daughter-in-law in her arms in a welcoming embrace. Buffy joined them in their embrace, until Willow complained, "Uh, guys, oxygen, becoming an issue."
The three disengaged their hug, and began to talk as a family. For a brief moment, the threat of Lady Bathory and Darla seemed far away.
Buffy looked at Willow, knowing that they would survive this ordeal together. Together. She repeated the word several times in her mind. She had found the one with whom she could share her life. And the one for whom she would give her life gladly to save.
She had her Willow. That was all she needed.
To be continued in "Handfasting"
Then the conclusion, "Somewhere I Have Never Traveled Book 3; Dopplegangwar"