The sky was bleeding and she was crippled, deaf to the screams of the green. Entropy oozed from the hole she had torn in the universe, and she wept her grief into the void between worlds. She held Wesley's soul to this place, unutterably and unwillingly precious to her. Wesley was now trapped as she was trapped, impotent and uncertain. He did not understand what she had done and she was too stretched between the then and the now and the here to force the truth into the inadequate shapings human ears could hear.

She did not count the cost. Wesley was her link to that which had been hers and that which would be hers again. She held him because she wished it. If a certain pet saw her actions as adaptation, it counted for nothing. Spike was significant only in his borrowed loyalty. His opinion lacked understanding.

Her grief...

Strange that she should experience such an emotion after all these eons. She had thought herself beyond such things. It was unacceptable, and yet she clung to them, these inconvenient emotions, when she should let them go. She should have let Wesley go.

The thought disturbed her and made her angry.

She had once bestrode worlds and the animals of this one had trembled as she ate of their flesh and drank of their feeble magics. They had evolved somewhat, but she was a sad imitation of herself, that one so insignificant now held her captive to emotions she did not wish, yet could not bear to lose. She hated him, and she loved him, and she did not want these feelings that shattered and split, weaving tendrils of themselves into her being until she was drowning in her own frailty.

She shuddered as the gaping hole at the core of her stretched and tested its boundaries. It ached, the touch of her power as it flowed through her, ripping and tearing and struggling to become something other than what she wished it to be. She had grown too small to wield power thus, but there was no other option.

She would not bow to the collective will of the Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart. She remembered the world before, the truth of the balance between what humans called Good and Evil. They sought to define that which could not be named, to control it, and satiate their fears. In the naming, however, they had lost truth.

Balance was controlled by those with the will to break it.

If one was willing to accept the consequences.

The Wolf, the Ram, and the Hart had mocked her weakness. They had taken that which was precious to her and they would pay for that carelessness. She was Illyria, and she was not to be discounted. Her kingdom was gone. Her allies ground to dust beneath the weight of millennia. Yet she remained.

And this world would shape itself once more to her will.