I Capture the Sun
Title: I Capture the Sun
Author: The Little Cherry Tree, aka Alpha
Genre: Fantasy/Action/Adventure and a little bit of romance.
Teaser: Buffy ends up in Heaven, which happens to be Middle-Earth. But not everything is as heavenly as it seems as she's come in the middle of a war and finds a piece of Heaven worth fighting for.
Summary: Buffy's version of Heaven is Middle-Earth. When she arrives, she is brought to a clan of fighting women. Seeing this as her eternal reward for fighting and killing on Earth, Buffy is only too happy to return to her roots - until she is captured by the Elves and begins to learn there's a whole lot more worth fighting for... in Heaven.
Disclaimer: Buffy the Vampire Slayer belongs to Joss Whedon. The 'Lord of the Rings' book series belongs to J.R.R. Tolkien. The plot is (hopefully) my own.
Timeline: Set well before the time of the Fellowship (around fifty years), in which case Buffy has already been in "Heaven" for some time (I would like to say between twenty and thirty years). So approximately thirty five years passed while Buffy was in Heaven before her friends took her out of it. So, Buffy came to be in Middle-earth about seventy years before the Fellowship.
Thank you for taking the time to read the legal tender. Now onwards with the story!
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The horns blew at dawn.
Those encamped in the narrow circle of tents and horses sprang to their feet as utter chaos fell around them.
For a moment, they wondered why their scouts had sounded the alarm.
And then all hell broke loose.
There was a loud cry as a figure came from the shadows, a sword flashing in her hands. There were more cries, all of them undoubtedly female. The men in the camp quickly came to arms, but by the time they had arranged themselves into some sort of order, their captain had been pulled aside by a slender figure wielding a dangerous-looking sword. Her eyes were flashing with hatred as she held the tip to their faithful Captain's neck.
"Put down your weapons," she called clearly.
All of the men complied with her order, hoping she would release her hold on their Captain, but she did not do anything of the like. Instead, she glared forcefully at all of the faces staring at her with a mixture of fear, uncertainty and awe.
"What are you doing in this land?" another voice asked. This figure was taller and carried a bow, looking slightly angered. "You pass through the land of the Lady of Shadow."
The men all glanced at one another, sudden understanding in their eyes. They had heard the tales of a woman who fought alone by night, taking out many foes.
"You lie," the Captain said, spluttering through his shattered nose as the woman's grip around his neck tightened.
"Take a good look, buddy," the figure hissed before shoving him forcefully to the ground. As she did, she revealed herself, her sword falling to her side, her eyes full of fury. "You wanna see a living legend? Here I am. You hear those stories that all those old men told of this woman who came and fought at night? You're looking at her. This is my land, so I suggest you get the hell out of here before we decide to party."
There was a rustling in the bushes as more women came, all of them in long black trousers and tunic-tops, wielding swords, bows and spears. They all wore the same look, one of mingled fury.
"We travel to Dunharrow, my Lady," said one of the lieutenants, taking a step forward. The woman turned and silenced him with her piercing hazel-eyed gaze.
"You want passage, you ask for it," she snapped. "I have not spent the last two decades making this land safe only to have men come and spread their... filth about it." Her eyes regarded him coldly. "You've got two hours. Get out of here, or I'll let these girls have some fun."
It was obvious she wasn't just saying these words, as some of the women looked positively delighted. They all turned to the men with a sort of hungered look in their eyes.
"Long have you gone unchecked through our land," the dark-haired woman said, standing next to the somewhat shorter woman.
"We only ask to travel through the hills," the Captain said, his hand cupping the flow of blood from his nose. "There is nothing else we ask."
The woman with the fair-colored hair regarded him for a moment, but then stepped hard on something upon the ground and a small axe went flipping into her hand.
"You have two hours," she said softly, a brief flash of compassion in her eyes. "Now get out of here. We've fought both the pointy-ears and the straight-backs. There's a reason why no man has passed this land in five years... and that's me."
"But--" the lieutenant protested weakly, his voice falling away as the dark-haired woman glared at him.
"You dare deny an order from a royal?" she asked coldly.
"Siri, down," the blonde said, stepping into the light of their camp. "Get out while you still can," she told the lieutenant calmly. "There are worse things than Elves in these hills."
Then, spinning, she disappeared. The dark-haired woman and a few others followed, but those surrounding the camp stood their ground, their weapons in their hands, obviously making due on the threat of the woman.
The captain sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "Break camp," he uttered in frustration. "We do not need the company of the Shadow upon us."
"My lord," the lieutenant said weakly. "We must get through to Rohan!"
"We will take the long passage," the captain said with resignation. "Or have you not heard the tales of the Lady of Shadow?"
As the men started to pack their tents and arm themselves, the women disappeared into the Shadow. They started to discuss, among other things, the Lady herself.
"She is much smaller than legend says," one of the men said.
"Legend does not say much of her size," the lieutenant retorted. "All I have heard from the tales is that she appeared in this land decades ago, and has united the women of the old fighting clans of Dunland in the west. Since then, she has used her army to fight off many foes. Many regard her as entertainment, but today we saw something different."
"I should say," the soldier said dryly as he slipped on his cloak.
As the men gathered their horses and set off back to the north and west, a figure stood alone on top of the hill, her spear in hand, gazing as the strangers disappeared back into the woods. A figure soon joined her, a taller, dark-haired woman dressed in a long, emerald cloak.
"They're gone," the blonde said softly.
"They should have been taken," the dark-haired woman snapped. "Why did you not give the order?"
"I'm not going to kill my own people, Siri," the blonde said with a sigh. "Good as their intentions were, I don't think they wanted to hurt anyone."
"They would have killed you had you not stopped their call to arms," Siri replied waspishy. "You were foolish to stand--"
"Stop, you hear me? Just... stop."
Siri stared at her, resentment flashing in her eyes before she stalked off, her cloak floating behind her. The blonde turned back to the woods as the first sliver of pink appeared on the horizon. Letting out a long breath, she turned at last and started walking back towards the forest awaiting her.
She soon found their small refuge in the trees. Many of the women regarded her with awe. Some of them bowed. She just found it haplessly annoying.
Why should they worship someone who deserved none of that honor? A Lady, they called her, as though she were some red-blooded royal. In truth, she had united these factions of banished women under her sword-arm to take out some nasty evil Elves. They had fought their fair share of wargs and orc. It had taken her twenty years to gain their trust, and only Siri, the rightful heir to this clan, opposed her decisions from time to time.
But the truth was, this was Heaven. Or at least the Heaven that Buffy Summers saw it as. The women only knew her as Buffy, but few spoke her name out of fear she would unleash her power upon them. The thought of doing that to Siri made her smirk, yet she held her tongue. Siri had been one of her strongest supporters in the beginning, only to spend the past year opposing nearly every decision Buffy had made. Including the one today. One of their scouts had seen a party of soldiers come in to answer a call from Rohan. Feeling as though they should at least warn these men, Buffy had made the call to intercept but not destroy. She wasn't heartless. She still had one of those.
These women had no one to trust, no one to turn to. They despised the baddies from Mordor, the orcs and the wargs. They didn't like the Elves, who picked them off one by one, considering these women from Dunland to be some sort of enemy. And the Rangers certainly didn't appreciate a pack of wild women being led by a strong woman. Yes, they had many enemies.
Buffy was going to make certain that the common man was not one of them.
She reached the base of a ladder and climbed it, disappearing into her own brightly-lit area. It was a house in the trees, a place where royalty slept. She laughed bitterly as she disarmed herself. A sword, axe and spear all clanked on the neatly planked wooden floor.
The chair she usually curled up in for hours was sitting underneath the eaves. She took it, undoing her armor and dumping it unceremoniously on the floor. Taking the seat, she pulled her knees up to her chest and clasped her arms around them.
Had it really been more than twenty years since she'd first shown up from a hole in the sky? It certainly seemed to be so. She'd arrived in the middle of a field, only to be "rescued" by two wayward men. They had taken her to their village on the edge of the Misty Mountains. It was there that she'd met Siri, a child of only eight back then. Her father was the leader of their particular band of people. He spoke that his people were among the last of the free peoples of this Middle-earth.
Buffy knew enough to know that this wasn't exactly her fair idea of Heaven, but it was close. The land was absolutely breaktaking and she spent hours upon hours out in the hills surveying meadows and trees alike. It was far beyond peaceful out here, and she truly felt free. She also knew that everyone back in California was all right, no matter where they were.
It was only when they had asked her to take up arms did she feel complete. It wouldn't be a Slayer's version of Heaven without bloodshed, she decided. The village had been all but destroyed in two consequential attacks from Mordor. Siri's mother had been appointed a leader and led her female warriors against the orcs. It was upon her deathbed did she tell Buffy the truth: she didn't want this life. She wanted to be free. After making Buffy promise she would look after Siri, she died in Buffy's arms.
That had been so long ago, before the Elves and the Rangers. The Elves were more of a nuisance than anything, since their 'village' was at the foot of the Mirkwood, a place some King revered above anyone. But since the woodland Elves were in their own state of turmoil, Buffy mostly left them alone.
The Rangers had been another story. Brutal, cold and deadly accurate, they had taken nearly half of the women in the first year. Buffy had refused to let them take all of the women, so she had formed an army. Siri, being only ten years old, had been given a sword. Twenty years later, she still carried her father's sword and had a deep hatred for all strangers. Buffy had been her leader and her adopted mother. Buffy was hopeful and strong and carried a lot of power, and many of the surviving women had flocked to her. Even though Dunland was to the south and west, Buffy kept their place in the trees, basically because it offered unlimited access to the orc that constantly assailed Mirkland.
"My lady?" a voice asked from the doorway. Buffy lifted her chin from her kneecaps and saw one of the women standing there. "The scout has returned; the men from this morning have left this land. They are going south to the mountains."
"Good," Buffy said grumpily. "I really didn't want to hurt them anyway."
The woman looked almost uneasy as she took another step closer. "Siri believes we should have taken them. They would have made valuable hostages."
"You want to know something?" Buffy asked the woman, frowning slightly. "I don't care. These men are fighting in a war to the south of us. They're fighting the orcs and all the other baddies while we sit here and get picked off one by one. One of these days, the Elves are going to remember that we're a bloody thorn in their side and they're going to come after us."
"The women of the court agree with that," the woman, whose name was Meira and had appointed herself as Buffy's official hand-maiden, despite Buffy's hasty attempts to shoo the woman away all of the time. "Siri says she has a plan to repel the Elves permanently."
"I'm not surprised," Buffy muttered. "Siri's got a mind for violence."
"She only wants revenge against those who murdered her family," Meira replied. "Siri's father was killed by the Elves and the orc killed her mother."
Buffy closed her eyes as she disappeared twenty three years into the past. There was the sound of screaming and the scent of burning wood. She saw herself, then a young woman of twenty, running around with an axe in her hands, the only one to repel the dark Elves as they swept eagerly through the village, burning and slaughtering everything.
Across the field, there was a tall man on a horse, surrounded by others. Many rushed to their Prince to ask what had to be done. Buffy would have joined him had eight-year-old Siri not been wandering around the burnt-out wreckage of her home. Buffy had dived in front of one of the archers and had managed to knock him away before running with Siri to safety.
She had seen the blade, too, as it had spun through the air. It had caught the middle of their Prince's back and with a startled cry, he fell sideways from his horse, his screams cut off abruptly as he landed, his eyes wide and startled. He had been dead before he had touched the ground.
Buffy opened her eyes again and glanced up at Meira. "Maybe it's time we do something about those Elves. It's been nearly a year since Mordor attacked. It might be a good time to go on the offensive."
"Siri will appreciate that you agree," Meira said, sounding relieved by Buffy's answer. "I will tell her."
"Go for it," Buffy said. As Meira left, Buffy rested and stared at the trees swaying gently above her.
She had no idea what she was thinking, really. Why would she want to hurt these immortal beings?
Maybe because Buffy herself was immortal. She wasn't, not completely. But she had survived how many battles and wars and the only scar on her body was the markings of the Master's bite upon her neck. Since she was already dead, she was basically a vampire in this world, only one that could walk around and live in the sunlight.
She'd had to endure her own blows and suffer her own defeats, but that didn't make her any less of a leader.
"What am I doing?" she asked herself, staring out at the brilliant blue sky above them. "Am I doing the right thing?"
She believed that fighting to keep these people alive was essential. She knew this; she had died because of this. She wasn't about to let these people die.
Siri held counsel that night in her chambers. Buffy, as well as a few other women, joined her.
"I need your help with something," Siri told her, gently pulling her aside. "I know what Meira told you. I don't know if it will be of any use, but I believe that this is the right thing to do. Dol Guldur has long remained quiet, and for this..." Her voice trailed off and she glanced into the distance.
"We are not taking on a stronghold of Mordor or those neurotic wraiths," Buffy snapped, pushing her blonde hair back. "No. I won't do it, even if it gets us within a foot of those wretched Elves."
"I see no alternative other than taking the River," Siri replied hastily.
"Neither one of those is good enough to even consider telling them about," Buffy replied, gesturing to the women waiting patiently in the room beyond their present location. "Have you thought about them? Some of them are just girls, Siri! We can't ask them to just give up their lives on a chance we could inflict damage!"
"Then you come up with a better idea, because I am done waiting here to die," Siri replied, angrily turning away. It was the cold, brutal grip of the Slayer's hand that caught her off-guard.
"Never, ever speak to me like that," Buffy said in a very low, very cold voice. Her hazel eyes sparkled in the evening light like chips of iced cream. "I have done everything in my power to make sure you lived until you're an adult. It's time to start making decisions not based on violence and bloodshed. Revenge only works if you don't get killed."
Siri gave her a look of deep disgust before pulling away towards the room, sealing Buffy off. She sighed and crossed her arms. What had she done to deserve such hostility from the girl? Buffy had practically raised Siri since she was eight, and now, twenty years later, Siri was as cold and brutal as... Faith.
"She's going to get herself and everyone else killed," Buffy murmured, running a hand through her hair before pushing past the door and walking in on the meeting.
Siri broke off and glared haughtily across the chamber. "Do you have anything to add, your royal highness?"
"Nothing," Buffy said shortly, sitting down. Siri gave her a cold, calculating look before grinning. There was no warmth left in her eyes as she turned back to the women to explain her latest plan to get all of them killed.
She had no time for Siri to be the reckless hero. She had no time for women who didn't know what they were fighting for other than the fact they were separated hundreds of miles from their loved ones. They were surrounded by the stronghold of Dol Guldur and Mirkwood to the north, Mordor to the east and Lorien to the south. No, they really had no chance to get out of this unless they headed west into the mountains, and the last time that had happened...
Buffy closed her eyes as she listened to the women's enthusiastic response. One of them rose and looked at her leader, her eyes shining even in the dim candlelight surrounding them.
"What do you make of Siri's plan?" she asked, gently resting her hand on Buffy's shoulder.
"Which plan is it this time?" Buffy asked, glancing up and meeting Siri's gaze head-on. Siri looked away under Buffy's brutally realistic look.
"She believes we need to defeat the stronghold of--"
"Are you out of your minds, all of you?" Buffy gasped, standing up so fast her chair tipped backwards. "Do you have any idea how dead we are if we just stroll through the trees? That hold is guarded by more than just Orcs. You know as well as I do those wraiths are there, and they kill. How many of us have they already taken? One hundred? One thousand? Answer me."
The women all looked uncomfortable, until Siri crossed her arms and let out a low whistle. "I do not agree with you," she said calmly, smiling slightly at the put-out look in her leader's eyes. "Maybe they killed us, but we were not ready to face them. We are now. You have shown us that we can fight, that we can kill."
"You'll all die," Buffy said angrily. "Every last one of you. Can you live with the blood on your hands, Siri? Can you honestly live with yourself if you walk all of these women into a trap?"
"How have you done it?" Siri retorted. "How have you been able to walk and breathe and sleep while my Father's blood is on yours? You have not been protecting us from the outside, you have been protecting us from you!"
"It doesn't matter. I'm the leader. What I say goes, and it's my call. You all have to fall in line," Buffy snapped.
"Not anymore," Siri replied, and she gently relaxed her arms. "I have spent the past twenty years with you playing my Mother. She would have been ashamed of you, pretending you know what is in our greatest interest. My Father died trying to free his people. The most you have done with us is condemn us to death in these trees. My people are not from the trees. We come from the west and that still means something. Nay, I am done hiding. I am done learning. It is time I do something, and as the rightful heir to my Queendom, I shall say it stops here."
"It doesn't stop," Buffy said, leaning on the table. "Siri, it never stops! Evil will never stop hunting you. Even if you cross the mountains and get to the other side, there is still the old Kingdom of Angmar to worry about. There are still the northern Orc. And the men do not trust any from your Father's village to live."
"I will not fight you, because I know you would destroy me," Siri said, taking out her beautifully-crafted Woodland blade and jamming it into the table, still standing. "But I am not going to watch my people die. You may have been the one my Mother chose as her successor, but you will never be my leader, anymore."
The other women in the council were eying both women with fear, trepidation and anxiety. They really didn't know which one to trust, if there was one they could. All they could do was see which woman would win the battle of wills, and surprisingly enough, it was Siri who had the upper-hand.
"What would you do in my stead?" Siri taunted coldly. "Would you sit up here making little bows and arrows and expect all of us to tend to you hand and foot? You have taught us to be fighters, Buffy. You have taught us to be someone. Is everything we have spent the past twenty years learning, has it all been a lie?"
"No," Buffy said, lowering her eyes. "It wasn't a lie."
"But you think I am being reckless," Siri said, still in her taunting voice. "Which leader led the women into the Anduin and managed to--"
"No," said another voice. It wasn't Buffy's, but another woman, one of the few elders remaining from the original village. "No, Siri. Do not speak of this. It is not wise to attack one who is both stronger and wiser than yourself. All of you, go."
Buffy remained, her eyes on the table as the others left, Siri's glowing smile of triumph the last remaining twist to the dagger sticking out of her back.
"They don't understand," Buffy said the moment the door closed. "They don't know what it's like... to be so torn inside, to not know the decisions... they don't know what it's like to be dead."
The older woman put a gnarled hand upon her shoulder before gently pushing Buffy into her chair and taking the one seated next to it.
"They may never know, my child, but they know you. They trust you. There may have been disaster and folley... but I will be damned to see all of the work we have done under your command go to waste with the reckless thoughts of an enraged woman."
"She's right," Buffy said, turning to the woman. "I can't change the fact she's the only survivor of the royal family. She's an adult now. It's time for her to take charge of these people and if that means to kill them off in one valiant battle, it's her choice. I'm wrong to keep making these decisions..."
"Your decisions have kept us alive," the old woman replied, a fire in her voice that hadn't been there for nearly a decade. "It was their choice to keep you as leader, even when Siri's claiming came to pass, she accepted you. If you let her lead now, many will die. I will not see the last of my house fade because of her reckless abandons."
"I hate being dead," Buffy sighed, running a hand over her face, which looked exactly the same as when she had arrived in this place nearly twenty five years earlier. "I hate the fact that they're here. And I hate the fact that there's nothing I can do to change this destiny."
"It was given to you, my child, upon Erae's death," the old woman replied. "You saved the life of her last child and she gave you her crown, there is no shame in that."
Buffy opened her mouth to reply when a shrill scream pierced the darkness.
"Under attack! Attack!"
Both women stood up abruptly. "Go," the woman said. "I will hide."
"Stay safe," Buffy replied, as she burst out onto the balcony and glanced down. She saw flaming arrows shooting in all directions and the sounds of chaos reigning in the encampment below.
She made her way quickly to the armory, despite the fact it was across the encampment. Dodging flying arrows and blades, she guessed their assailants to be Orc. Once she was on the ground, her suspicions were confirmed.
A group led by Meira was trying to fight back the driving force, but even through her enhanced senses, Buffy could see others going around the back for an entrapment. Taking her axe, she spun around, directing her own company to the other end. Once they had reached it, all hell broke loose. She took on the entire back line of the enemy by herself as the rest of the women went to find help. She had taken down more than a half dozen when the sounds of screaming were heard from above: Meira's line had broken.
"Fall back!" Buffy shouted as she pushed one of the Orc away, lifting her sword from just under his chin. "Fall back!"
As she turned, she saw, with horror in her eyes, the signs of a camp falling apart at the seams. She saw Meira being clubbed unnecessarily by a large group of Orc. She saw Siri being dragged backwards, her sword falling from her hands, her scream endlessly piercing the night.
The last thing she saw was a figure coming towards her, a hammer raised in the air.
She didn't feel the blow.
But everything had already fallen to darkness.
- - -
Thus begins Buffy's newest adventure. In the second part, we will learn of her attackers and see what the outcome of this latest attack.
Buffy's story of her coming into Middle-earth will not be told in its entirety. Instead, an account will be made through flashbacks, stories and other sequences to fill in the reader. And we will note that the arrival of the other said partner will be arriving in the next chapter.