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.
Willow had used little magic to prepare the dragon heart for Buffy to consume. She simply needed to take advantage of a natural property of the heart, something that would help anyone who ate one. The next step of her plan, however, was far more complicated.
While Buffy recovered from the potion and sat quietly chatting with Xander, Willow spent over an hour drawing a circle on the ground. It was similar to what she used to summon Ratatoskr, in the same way that See Spot Run was similar to War and Peace. The final result was a runic circle of such surpassing complexity that it pained the eyes to try to understand it.
"Okay!" Willow said cheerfully. "You ready?"
"Nope," Buffy answered.
"Then I'll just... what do you mean, 'nope'?" Willow said, turning to look at her friend for the first time.
"Pretty hard to be ready when I don't know what for," Buffy pointed out reasonably.
"Oh, right," Willow said. "I'm going to summon Huginn and Muninn, Odin's ravens. You'll be able to talk to them, and tell them what you want to know."
"Okay," Buffy said slowly. "How can I talk to them?"
"The heart," Willow explained. "It'll let you talk to them, otherwise you couldn't understand them, which is why people can't normally use this spell."
"Alright," Buffy said, standing up. "Do it."
Willow pulled a pair of sheep eyes from a pouch, placing them at the center of the circle, before slowly chanting in ancient Norse. Finally, after a long moment, shadows began to coalesce into the form of two large ravens, standing at the center of the circle. They took the entire room in slowly, before quickly gobbling down the eyes.
"Ew," Buffy said, wrinkling her nose in distaste.
"Naw, toots," one of the ravens said. "Tastes like a ram."
"Toots?!" Buffy yelped.
"He called you toots?" Xander asked with a grin.
The two ravens looked up at him, before conferring among themselves. "He's got one eye," one of them said.
"Yeah, looks pretty dumb though," the other said. "No way he traded it for knowin' anythin'."
Buffy snickered, before stepping forward. "Hey, um, birdies."
They both drew themselves up, ruffling their feathers self importantly. "Birdies!" one shrieked. "I'll show you birdies, blondie!"
Buffy rolled her eyes. "Right. You and what army?"
"Um, Buffy, maybe you shouldn't taunt the magic birds," Willow whispered.
"Look, we gots important business," one raven said. "So whattaya need us for?"
"I need to know about Twilight," Buffy said. "What can you tell me?"
"Nothin'," one said. "Not 'til we go lookin'."
With that they both promptly flew out the window. "What happened?" Xander asked.
"They said they'd have to go look for info," Buffy explained.
Several hours later the two ravens returned, crouching on Buffy's windowsill. When Buffy looked at them they immediately began to talk.
"Twilight's not fully real," one said. "Just a spirit, a force of change, makin' way for the universe to be reborn in its next age. He's 'sposed ta exist, same way as gravity, see?"
"Until it's ready to make its move, it can't be killed," the other explained. "You'll have to wait until everything is in balance, then strike while it's not ready."
"But 'til then, yous can stop his schemin'. He's gonna have a big party in Japan, real soon like. Lotta fun. Lots of eyes to eat... even tasty human!"
"Japan," Buffy said, her heart clenching. "When?"
"Right now!" the ravens said in unison, before turning into shadow and fading away.
"Buffy, what's wrong?" Xander asked.
Buffy was pale as she looked at them. "Whatever Twilight's doing next, he's doing it in Japan. Right now."
Willow and Xander traded looks. "Then you should get packin' and explain to Dawnie where you're going," Xander said. "I'll call the airport."
"And I've got to get ready to head to the Coven," Willow said. "But if you need me... I'll be there. Always."
"Thanks Wills, Xan," Buffy said. "I couldn't do this without you. You know that right?"
"Group hug!" Xander suddenly called.
As Xander and Willow started heading towards the door, Buffy's voice suddenly stopped them. "Actually, got a question."
"What?" Xander asked.
Buffy looked out the window, her eyes locked on a tree. "Why exactly is that bird yelling about the tree being all his? 'Cause that's really wiggy."
Willow cleared her throat carefully, a nervous smile on her face. "Um... that potion. With the dragon heart?"
"Side effect," Buffy asked, her tone completely level.
"No, no!" Willow objected. "No side effects! Just, well, effects."
Buffy slowly turned to face her, her expression forbidding. "Effects?"
"Well, Huginn and Muninn are, well, birds," Willow explained carefully. "So only people who can speak, um, bird, can understand them. So... surprise!"
"And when does it wear off," Buffy asked reasonably, her face blank.
"Wear off?" Willow asked.
Buffy glared at her, her arms crossed over her chest. Xander took advantage of their distraction to sneak away, leaving them both alone. Willow smiled innocently.
"Um... never?" Willow offered.
"Willow..." Buffy growled. "Isn't that something that I should really really have known about before before drinking the potion?"
"But then you wouldn't have drunk it," Willow pointed out reasonably.
"Willow!" Buffy shouted.
"Bye! Coven calling me!" Willow shouted over her shoulder as she ran.
There's that. This story now leaves European mythology behind for a while to spend some quality time in Japan. Japan has a rich history of magical swords, and I intend to take full advantage. This is also going to be the beginnings of the romance for the series, although the pairing isn't going to push the story out. It should hopefully simply add to the piece, rather than distracting from it.
It'll be a bit before I get to the next story, however, as holidays and other ideas (in particular something for a live journal thing my sister is moderating that she's been twisting my arm to post on) have cut into my writing on this series. I like to have a bit of a lead time when I write, so that I can backtrack and change things, but I'm now without one. For the first time since I started posting Slayer of Harrowstone, it looks as though I'll need to take a bit of a break from my Monday and Friday update schedule. I'm still writing everyday, though, so I'll have material to post on something soon!