Damon brushed at his leather jacket, and shook his head, dislodging a powdery substance. He glanced around the unfamiliar forest and stared back at the four people who were staring at him.
"What are you looking at?" he demanded. "And what the hell are you wearing? Please don't tell me it's a Renaissance fair."
The younger man stepped forward. "I'm Richard, the Seeker. This is Kahlan, the Mother Confessor, my grandfather Zedd, the First Wizard, and Cara, a Mord'Sith. Where did you come from? You just appeared out of thin air."
"I sense powerful magic," Zedd intoned.
"Oh, yes. Witches. Goddamn witches," Damon groused, thinking about Bonnie, who was probably behind his current predicament. "I was just minding my own business and the next thing I know I'm here. Which is where, exactly?"
"The Midlands," Kahlan said, apparently attempting to be helpful.
Damon stared up at the sky and then at his ring. He wasn't on fire, which was good, and meant his ring still worked. However he was fairly certain this world wasn't the same as his own. It felt different, somehow, something in the very air.
"I don't think I'm in Kansas anymore," he quipped.
"Is that where you're from? Kansas?" Richard's eyes were wide with what Damon guessed was concern.
Damon repressed the urge to roll his eyes. He was gratified to see that Cara did not. He was very impressed with her cleavage and tight leather clothes too.
"If some witch woman is behind this, of course we'll try to put it right," Zedd said. So, not a feminist utopia, Damon thought. The women here were carrying weapons, but magic? Women using it, bad, men like Zedd using it, good, if he was reading the situation right. Which was fine with him; daylight rings were the only good reasons for having a witch around.
Damon nodded forlornly and decided to play along. "A witch woman did this on purpose."
Kahlan fixed him with a stern glare however. "That's not really true, is it? What is your name?"
"Damon." Crap, what fresh hell was this? Some sort of lie detecting magic? Or just an Elena-like ability to see into whatever was left of his soul? "Look, I want to get back home. I need to help Elena."
Kahlan relaxed, as well she might. It was the truth, and if he was painting himself as needing to rescue a damsel, so be it. People tended to appreciate that kind of thing.
Zedd asked Damon some questions about his world, which ranged from the odd (how many suns?) to the bizarre (did they have persimmons?). The notion of an MP3 player delighted and baffled the wizard in equal parts, and Damon decided not to mention aeroplanes.
"We'll have to go to the Black Hills," Zedd declared. "I have a feeling the rocks there may help me in unravelling this conundrum."
"Seriously? You guys speak like this all the time?" Damon asked.
"The wizard does," Cara drawled. She gave a whistle and five horses trotted into view.
"Where did they come from?" Damon asked, trying to remember the last time he'd ridden, and trying to forget that time a horse had bitten him.
Cara shrugged. "They're here when we need them, as many as we require. Otherwise we walk."
"That doesn't even make sense," Damon protested. It could be argued that magic didn't make sense, but he'd seen magic in action. Horses…horses were not magical. And these were horses, not even unicorns or whatever.
"Do you want our help or not?" Cara asked, mounting with ease.
It occurred to Damon that he'd been very lucky – suspiciously lucky - to fall in with a wizard who could send him home, along with the wizard's naïve grandson – not to mention two gorgeous women. So he bowed towards Kahlan. "After you, my lady."
She gave him a look that said she wasn't sure if he was mocking her or not, and chose a horse.
"Have you ridden before, Damon?" Richard asked.
"A long time ago. But you know what they say. It's like riding a bicycle."
Richard gave him a blanker than his usual blank look. "What is a bis-ek-kel?"
Damon sighed. "Never mind." He had no idea how far it was to the Black Hills, but he was sure it was going to be a long ride.
Things were going fine until a bunch of knights attacked them. Damon's horse apparently didn't do fights, because the little bastard threw him. When Damon got to his feet, cursing the animal and thanking his vampire constitution alike, the others had dismounted or been thrown too and their horses were nowhere in sight. He decided to go with dismounted since his companions were already engaged in beautifully choreographed combat that resembled a music video more than any fight Damon had ever been in.
Kahlan's hair swept around as she fought with two daggers – didn't it get in her eyes? Shouldn't she at least tie it back? Then she grabbed a soldier by the throat and the next thing Damon saw was the man turn on his comrades.
Richard was hacking and slashing with his sword. Somehow, despite turning his back on one opponent to deliver an unnecessarily showy blow to another, and leaping around like a demented bunny, Richard felled soldier after soldier. If these men weren't so stupid they could take him out at any time.
Meanwhile Cara was hitting her opponents with some tiny leather club and then kicking them in various parts of their anatomy. Zedd was sensibly standing back, occasionally lifting a gnarled hand to send a soldier flying through the air and, once, set one on fire. That was bad, Damon thought uneasily. Fire was not his friend.
One of the soldiers had noticed him and ran over to Damon. He arched a brow in disbelief. "Chain mail? So last century." The soldier was quicker with his sword than he'd expected and Damon got a cut across one cheek before he used his supernatural speed to seize his attacker and snap his neck. A quick glance around showed that the battle was over, and his companions were the only ones left standing.
"Damon! Are you…." Richard trailed off. "What happened to your face?"
"Just a cut," Damon said, before he realised that his fangs were showing. He quickly got himself under control, dropping the corpse to the ground. By the time he'd joined them, as they regrouped in the centre of the field, the cut had already healed.
"What are you?" Kahlan demanded. She really wasn't Damon's favourite person in the group.
He shrugged and chose to tell the truth. "A vampire."
As he'd hoped, they'd never heard of his kind. He explained, laying on the angst when he explained how Katherine had turned him without his permission, and highlighting how, while he had to drink blood to survive, he'd learned not to kill. In fact, besides the blood drinking, they were, Damon said, much like humans. Except for the growing old and dying part.
He omitted the part about sunlight and his ring, lest Kahlan use this information against him.
"He's telling the truth," Kahlan said. "Mostly."
"And what are you, Little Miss Lie Detector?" Damon demanded. "I saw you turn that man against his brothers in arms with one touch."
"She's the Mother Confessor," Richard said. "I did tell you."
Damon waved his hands impatiently. "I figured you meant she was head of some weird religious cult."
So Richard explained all about Confessors, with some pertinent interjections from Kahlan. "And I'm the One True Seeker," Richard said with pride, which seemed like it was going to be a long story and a less interesting one than the one about Confessors. So Damon pointed to Cara.
"And you? Mort-thingy? That leather a BDSM thing or do you belong to some rival religious order?"
"Of a sort, before I chose to follow Richard, the true Lord Rahl." Cara's voice was rich and her tone half-serious and half-mocking. She was definitely his favourite in the group, until such time as the wizard sent him home and earned Damon's temporary gratitude. "I am Mord'Sith."
Damon stepped in close. "I am very pleased to meet you. As you are me." He was deliberately trying to compel her. To his disappointment she was unaffected.
"I prefer taller men."
"Ouch." Damon struck himself in the chest with a fist. "Come on, Cara, let me show you my fangs. Once you go vamp you never go ba-"
Vervain didn't hurt nearly as much as the agony that ran through his veins. Damon found himself on the grass, screaming in pain.
"That's enough," Richard said. "Damon?"
Damon rolled onto his back and stared up at the cloudless blue sky. "What the hell?"
"It's an Agiel. It's a magical weapon. Are you all right? Cara, he's not of our world, you might have killed him!"
Richard went up a little in Damon's estimation. Cara went down some, no longer being his favourite. The little leather device, an Agiel, got filed into Do Not Want. No wonder Cara was wearing those ridiculous gloves.
After a few moments Damon got to his feet and assured Richard he was fine. Zedd pointed in what seemed to be a random direction and they all started walking.
"What about the horses?" Damon asked.
Richard shrugged. "They're not here right now." Then he moved to walk alongside Kahlan.
Zedd came to walk with Damon and started telling him of all the weird creatures in this world; Damon came up the equivalents he knew of, fictional mostly. Calthrops were werewolves, for example, and damn werewolves were real enough. However the Nygaax was a zombie or, more likely, a mummy, but as far he knew, zombies weren't real. Although give a witch enough training and motivation and who knew what chaos she couldn't cause.
In fact, witches were the thing on which Damon and Zedd bonded. Damon had a laundry list of complaints about Bonnie and her accursed relatives, while Zedd had an angsty tale about some broad named Shota. (Damon had a feeling that back home the word had something do with young anime characters but didn't feel like explaining that to Zedd). They groused for over an hour about all the trouble magically gifted women had caused them. Witches. Can't live with them without trouble, can't kill them without someone whining about it.
They made camp near a stream and Zedd made stew. Richard insisted on telling Damon the story of how he was destined to kill Darken Rahl.
"Seriously? Who calls their kid Darken?" Damon asked, but no-one took any notice.
As far as he could make out, Cara had been sharing Darken's bed before Richard converted her with his puppy dog eyes, but since Richard was obsessed with Kahlan's boobies (very nice boobies, Damon had to admit), she was surely a little put out at her new living arrangements.
Damon offered to take a turn on guard duty, but Richard insisted he was a guest and they couldn't allow it, which was a polite way of saying they didn't trust him. Whatever.
As Zedd snored softly, Damon thought about his Compulsion and how it hadn't worked on Cara, probably wouldn't work on a Confessor, may or may not work on a wizard (and the kickback if he tried might be a damn sight more painful than that he got whenever he pissed Bonnie off), and might work on Richard. It disturbed him, making him feel more vulnerable than he was accustomed to.
On the other hand, there were no Original vampires or Hunters or any other of the type of creatures Mystic Falls seemed to attract. So he made the most of it, and slept soundly.
The next morning the horses were back. Damon didn't even bother to comment on it. The five of them rode for an hour before some crazy ninja chicks in some unfortunately coloured red-orange garb set upon them.
"Seriously, how many wacky religious cults do you have?" Damon asked after the women were all killed or had fled and he learned they were Sisters of the Dark, not to be confused with the identically dressed Sisters of the Light. He was sure Caroline would have phrased the question as such, as well as made some cutting remarks about their fashion sense – oh, please, no, surely he wasn't missing vampire Barbie?
After that things were quiet until Richard had to rescue a sheep that was stuck in a briar patch. Damon pretended to fish when it was time to gather some food for the evening meal, and pulled a face at the stew.
"I'd kill for some bourbon," he said. Food he could do without, but to be asked to be sober was too much. He tried explaining the concept to Richard but in the end said it was like really good, really strong ale. The thought he might never taste it again – might never go the movies again, might never get to bathe in his beloved bathtub again, worried Damon, not that he'd ever admit it. This world was less advanced than the one he'd grown up in, more magical than the reality he usually occupied, and altogether missing in essentials like bourbon and Elena.
To his disgust, he found he was homesick. He lay awake most of the night, staring at unfamiliar stars.
Eventually he must have fallen asleep because when he opened his eyes it was light again, the weather was chilly, and everything was covered in dew. Damon huddled by the fire, trying to get his clothes dry. Kahlan was brushing her hair and he watched her for a while, wondering how she kept it so shiny, and how her dress was so white without even a hint of a grass stain. Probably magic.
They rode – the horses were still there, amazing – for three hours without encountering anything untoward. After a light lunch, another hour's riding brought them in sight of a mountain range that Zedd said was the Black Hills.
By mid afternoon, they'd climbed halfway up the largest peak, stepping out onto a surprisingly even plateau. To the east lay a more treacherous trail to the summit, but near that path was a group of medium sized boulders currently serving as a seat for two people.
"Shota!" Zedd stepped forward, angry. The man sitting beside the red haired woman got to his feet. He was dressed oddly, his lower half matching Damon's idea of what constituted clothes and shoes, but with a shirt much like Richard's.
"Damon," Elijah said. "Fancy meeting you here."