Speaker-to-Customers (speakr2customrs) wrote,

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Tabula Avatar Chapter 3

New layout! myfeetshowit has made me a wonderful banner depicting a scene from Lonely on the Mountain, and I’ve put it up to replace the old ‘Cloak of Mist’ banner. Take a look! ETA: Since I wrote this I've replaced that banner with a self-made 'Tabula Avatar' banner; the 'Lonely on the Mountain' and 'Cloak of Mist' banners are on my Profile page. ETA 2: and since I wrote that amendment the self-made banner has been replaced with one created for me by mythichistorian depicting the Scoobies in 'Tabula Avatar'.

Here is Chapter Three of my BtVS/Baldur’s Gate 2 crossover. This chapter is 4,100 words. Still PG, with my intention still being to reach R later. There is one section of this chapter that is not in the least humorous. It’s taken almost verbatim from the Baldur’s Gate 2 game; it’s pretty much the game’s equivalent of ‘The Body’.

ffutures has pointed out that the story is full of spoilers for BG2. It’s a pretty old game, and my assumption is that everybody who would want to play the game already has done – apart from rahirah, who is playing it now – but if you are worried about spoilers then hold off on reading it. If I catch up to where rahirah is in the game I’ll pause until she’s moved on.

Chapter One was HERE. Chapter Two was HERE.

Summary: AU from some point during Tabula Rasa. kallysten and kantayra’s excellent story Tabula Rasa Ad Aeternum could almost be the other half of this story, as you will see. The crystal doesn’t get broken in ‘Tabula Rasa’; something else happens to it instead …

Tabula Avatar

Chapter Three

“Oh, this reminds me so much of Candlekeep,” Imoen commented. “Dusty old tomes all over, bookcases nearly spilling, it’s like we never left.”

Giles ran his fingers over a shelf of books. “It inspires certain feelings of, ah, homesickness in me too.”

“Yeah, including the whole being attacked by homicidal monsters in among the book stacks thing,” Xander put in. “Just like old times.”

“Check the shelves for spell-books,” Sorkatani ordered Imoen.

“That seems like a good idea to me,” Buffy said. “Will, Giles, you do the same, ‘kay?”

“I’m on it,” Willow assented.

“Certainly.” Giles began to take books from the shelves one after the other, scanning through each before putting it back. He read a little more of the book each time. By the fifth he abandoned his mission and stood reading the text.

“Uh, Giles, back on topic,” Buffy prompted him.

“What? Oh, yes. This could be very useful, you know. A history of Baldur’s Gate. We must learn more about this culture if we are to spend any time here.”

“We might not be even in Baldiegate,” Buffy pointed out. “Sorkatani didn’t recognize the money, remember? If the book’s so interesting, take it with you. Let’s just find what we need to get the hell out of here.”

“Oh, very well.” Giles sighed and returned to his task.

“I don’t know why you didn’t ask me,” Anya complained. “It’s not as if haven’t got experience with spells, and shelves, and finding items for impatient customers.”

“I kinda thought you might not need to be asked,” Buffy said. “Okay, Anya, would you help search the shelves for anything useful like, you know, spell-books and things?”

Anya’s smile spread across her whole face. “Why, of course, Buffy, since you ask so nicely.” She hastened to the nearest shelf and began industriously sorting through the books.

Buffy frowned at her for a moment and then looked away. She met Sorkatani’s eyes. “Uh, Anya can be a little strange sometimes,” Buffy said.

Minsc was frowning at the bookshelves. “Swords, not words!” he grumbled. “Evil cannot stand before the might of a righteous man and his hamster.”

Sorkatani grinned and raised an eyebrow. “You were saying?”

- - - - -

Spike pulled his fangs from Ilych’s throat and allowed his face to resume its human appearance. “Tough little bugger,” he remarked. “Think he cracked a couple of my ribs.”

“You’ll heal,” Buffy said unsympathetically. The sight of Spike drinking the blood of a dwarf, as close to human as made no difference, was making her fingers itch for her stake. “Isn’t he the one with those acorn things?”

“Think so.” Spike began to explore the body and found several pouches tied to the dwarf’s belt. He ripped them free and opened them up. “Fair bit of cash. Hey, food! Only more black bread and cheese, but it’s something. And, lookee here, acorns. Good thing we bumped into those dryad bints before we came this way or we’d have probably fed them to Boo.” He handed the acorns to Sorkatani.

“His armor is of fine quality,” Sorkatani observed.

“Never fit you, pet,” Spike said. “Bloke’s a bit on the short squat size. Won’t fit any of us, worse luck.”

“Strip it from him anyway. I think that you will be surprised.”

“Oh, all right.” Spike pulled the armor free and tossed the dwarf’s limp corpse down on the floor. Buffy winced. Spike held the armor out to Sorkatani. “Here you are.”

The warrior girl examined the coat of mail. “A fine hauberk indeed. Jaheira, what do you make of this?”

Jaheira scrutinized the links, and paid particular attention to the steel plates that reinforced the shoulders. “The Mail of the Dead,” she declared. “There is the emblem of Vorusta. There can be no mistake.”

“The Mail of the Dead?” Sorkatani quirked an eyebrow and offered the hauberk to Spike. “Then it is obvious who should wear it.”

“Uh, ta, love, but it’s a bit short for me, innit? That Ilyich geezer was a foot and a half shorter than me. It’ll be like a sodding crop-top.”

“Trust me,” Sorkatani said, smiling.

“Oh, all right.” Spike shrugged off his tattered suit jacket and pulled the leather-lined mail coat over his head. He tugged it down over his chest and the armor extended as he pulled. “Bloody hell!”

“I told you,” Sorkatani said.

“Sodding brilliant!” Spike grinned happily for a moment and then shook his head. “Hang on a minute. Should I be the one to get this? Still a couple of the rest of us without any armor. I’m pretty hard to kill anyway.”

Giles took off his glasses and then replaced them. “I’m surprised, and rather pleased, that you feel that way, Spike. I agree with Sorkatani. You should have that armor.”

“Mail of the Dead for the Dead Male,” Xander agreed. Blood was trickling from his nose, broken during the fight against the half-dozen duergar guards, and Anya was dabbing at it with a shred of torn clothing. “And, got to say, it looks better on you than that stupid jacket.”

“Hasn’t got any pockets, though,” Spike grumbled. “Where am I going to keep my ciggies?”

- - - - -

“Okay, we’ve got the acorns. So, we head off back to the dryads, I guess.” Buffy picked up a morning star from the duergar weapons rack and swung it idly.

“Uh, wait a minute, Buffster.” Xander’s nose had stopped bleeding now, but it was still swollen and his nostrils were crusted with dried blood. “I see these guys, and I think kitchens.”


“They’ve got to eat, right? And I don’t mean just one piece of bread and cheese. An army marches on its stomach, or whatever. These guys were guards, they had to have rations, and we’ve got to have rations too. My stomach is kinda forgetting what it’s like to have eaten. I vote that we search along that way for their kitchen or food store or canteen or whatever.”

“Boo says that Xander speaks wisely,” Minsc agreed. “I too am still very hungry.”

“Okay, okay,” Buffy said. “What do you say, Sorkatani?”

“I agree.” Sorkatani raised her sword and headed for the room’s exit. “We search for food.”

- - - - -

“Stop!” Anya’s voice rang out loudly and urgently.

Imoen froze. “What is it?”

“Tripwire,” Anya told her. “Just in front of you.” She moved forward and pointed. “Not very well concealed, really. I would have done it better.”

Imoen flushed. “I should have seen it. Thank you.”

“Ah, perhaps we have discovered Anya’s abilities,” Giles said. “Another thief, it would seem.”

“Thief? I don’t think so.” Anya wrinkled her nose. “I don’t feel any urge to take hard-earned goods and negotiable currency away from the rightful owners.”

“Oh. Right. Very well.” Giles frowned, removed his glasses, and felt for the hem of his shirt to use as a polishing cloth. His hand struck the leather jerkin that he wore as armor and he abandoned his intended action. “Pity. I thought that we’d made a discovery there.”

“Oh well, whatever Anya is, I’m sure she’s a very good whatever,” Buffy said. “Move on, people.”

- - - - -

“Stupid genie,” Xander grumbled. “I thought they were supposed to grant you, like, three wishes.”

“Wishes can be bad,” Willow muttered.

“Okay, the ‘w’ word, usually of the bad, but we could have been careful. Anyway, all we got was one sword.”

“It is a mighty weapon,” Sorkatani said. “The Sword of Chaos. It belonged to my half-brother.”

“Oh. So, you gonna give it back to him?”

“No.” Sorkatani looked down at her feet. “I killed him.”

“He was evil,” Jaheira said. “We shed no tears for Sarevok.”

“I do not want the sword,” Sorkatani said. “I kept it only so that it did not fall into the hands of another such.”

“It’s not, like, cursed or something?” Xander asked.

“No. It is powerful, but neither good nor evil. It has certain healing powers for the one who wields it. It is only because it is a two-handed weapon that I do not desire it for myself. I like to wield one weapon in each hand. Minsc owned Spider’s Bane at that time, an even finer blade, and did not want the Sword of Chaos. Perhaps you should take it, Xander?”

“For me?” Xander swallowed. “Uh, that would be cool, but, I don’t know, maybe Minsc might like it? Or, and I don’t know why I’m saying this, Spike? Or Buffy, of course.”

“I know!” Anya piped up. “Draw lots.”

“Count me out,” Buffy said. “I’m okay with this sword and the hammer.”

“I got the good armor,” Spike said. “Doesn’t seem fair for me to get the sword too.”

“Boo says, every hamster has his day,” Minsc said. He frowned. “I do not know why he says that. It has nothing to do with this sword.”

“Okay,” Xander said. “If it’s just between me and the big guy, we could toss a coin. I call heads.”

“And I call tails. Although Boo’s tail is very small.”

Sorkatani produced a coin and tossed it. “Heads it is. Take the Sword of Chaos, Xander, and use it well.”

“I’ll give it my best shot,” Xander promised. “I wonder what its plusses are? Plus two, plus three even?” Everyone looked at him uncomprehendingly. “Okay, forget it. Hey, wait a minute! It’s a two-handed sword. I won’t be able to use my shield.”

- - - - -

The party gathered in front of the portal. “Wonder where it’s going to take us? Be just my luck if it was right out in the sodding sunshine,” Spike said. “Anybody any idea what time of day it is?”

Xander looked at his watch. “Eleven at night Sunnydale time. Not that that means a damn thing here. Better get ready to hold a coat over your head, Evil Dead.”

“I have lost track of the passing of the hours,” Jaheira said. “There is no sun or moon in this place.”

“I wonder how the trees grow in the Dryad grove, with no sun?” Tara mused.

“Easy,” Xander grinned. “A wizard did it.”

- - - - -

The portal did not take them into the sunshine. They used the key to activate the teleportation device, stepped one after another through the shimmering screen of force, and emerged in another stone-walled chamber not unlike the one that they had just left. Those at the front stumbled as the ones behind caught up with them and collided, and there was some pushing and jostling before everyone was through and standing in some kind of formation.

“So there is sanity in all of this madness,” a voice greeted them. “If you are not in league with the evil that dwells in this unholy place, Yoshimo begs your assistance.”

The speaker was a man of Oriental appearance. Perhaps five feet five inches tall, slim but wiry of build, and with jet black hair tied in a topknot. He wore a studded leather jerkin and held a katana in one hand.

Minsc had ended up at the front of the group, nearest to the man, and looked down at him with a frown on his face. “We serve no evil mages. But Boo looks upon you with suspicion, little man. How is it that you come to be here? Never have I seen his whiskers quiver so!”

“I am not sure how I came to be here,” the stranger replied. “Much like you, I suspect. I have been trying to find a way out, but I have failed so far. I have been wounded in my attempts.”

“How did you come to be trapped here?” Jaheira pressed him.

“It is, ah, quite embarrassing.” Yoshimo coughed. “My profession does not leave itself open to those who are not wary, yet somehow I was caught unawares.”

Sorkatani moved towards him. “Your profession? And what would that be?”

“I am a bounty hunter,” Yoshimo revealed.

“A bounty hunter? So am I,” Anya cried. “That’s it! That’s what I am.”

“They came in search of paradise,” Spike quoted, “but all they found was chocolate-coated shredded coconut.”

Giles chuckled. Buffy looked from one to the other. “You know,” she said, “sometimes I think that all British people are seriously strange.”

- - - - -

“Why’d you make her a Bounty Hunter, dude?” Warren asked.

Jonathan shrugged. “I don’t know. It just seemed to fit. She’s all about the money. And her stats came out right for the kit.”

“Will she, like, start wearing a poncho?” Andrew wondered. “And smoking those thin cigars?”

Warren sniggered. “Maybe she’ll start smoking a pipe like Colonel Mortimer.”

- - - - -

“I came to Athkatla some years ago from Kara-Tur to seek my fortune,” Yoshimo related. “One night I went to my bed in the Copper Coronet and awoke in a strange room with a very sore head.”

“Athkatla?” Imoen said. “That’s the City of Coin, right, in Amn? We come from the Sword Coast, way up north. You think we’re in Amn?”

“I am unsure. I was drugged, I think. I do not know how long for. I was not particularly hungry when I awoke, though, and so I do not think that I could have been unconscious for all that long. I suspect that I have been taken no great distance.”

“Logical,” Sorkatani said.

“My hunger was mighty when I awoke,” Minsc said.

“Isn’t it always?” Imoen teased.

Minsc smiled at Yoshimo, his previous suspicions forgotten. “Then you too know the hardship of being set into a maze like a helpless hamster. We are comrades in peril. Boo asks what you propose we do next, little man.”

“Search for a way out,” Yoshimo replied.

“Hey, I thought this was supposed to be the exit,” Buffy moaned.

“That would seem not to be the case, alas,” Giles said. “I fear that we have no alternative but to continue our search for an egress.”

Buffy frowned. “And we’re going to get shown the way out by some stupid bird?”

- - - - -

The room was obviously a torture chamber. A heavy oak table stood against one wall and a dead body lay upon it. The corpse had been mutilated to such an extent that even Spike hesitated to look at it. Buffy positioned herself to shield Dawn’s eyes from the ghastly sight.

Jaheira looked at it with the impassionate gaze of one well accustomed to gruesome death and then froze. She stood rigid for a moment and then advanced haltingly towards the table, eyes wide, and stared at it. “Kha-Khalid?” she gasped. “No! No!”

“Oh my God,” Buffy gasped.

“Khalid?” Sorkatani moved to stand beside her friend. “No. Please. No.”

Jaheira stretched out a trembling hand but did not touch the corpse. “This cannot be. It is an illusion, a bad dream.” She laughed shrilly and almost hysterically. “An illusion! Where are the mirrors? The switches to pull to, to show where he is hidden … Khalid?” Her lips drew back from her teeth. “Damn you! I will have the heart of whoever has done this! I will tear their blackened heart from their … I will …”

“Khalid?” Sorkatani seemed stunned and almost equally grief-stricken. “What has happened? Why?” She put her hand upon her friend’s shoulder.

“Shut up!” Jaheira snapped. “No more words. Words are nothing.”

Sorkatani recoiled and took her hand away and then stood silent with tears trickling down her cheeks.

Buffy’s group stayed silent. No-one had any idea of what they could say. Dawn began to cry quietly.

“I knew him not, but I mourn for your loss,” Yoshimo ventured.

“Stranger! Nobody! I will not hear your words,” Jaheira almost growled. “Leave me.”

“A brave man has fallen here, but that is no reason to hurl insults at the living,” Minsc chided her gently. “Here, Boo shall comfort you.”

“Imbecile! Affront to nature! What do you and your rodent know? What can you know? No more words. Save your speeches. The only voice I wish to hear is … is dead! No more! No …” She sank to her knees and burst into deep, wrenching, sobs.

Sorkatani replaced her hand on Jaheira’s shoulder, and then knelt down and pulled her friend into a hug. Jaheira resisted for a moment and then embraced Sorkatani, leaned against her, and cried.

Eventually she recovered herself to some extent and pulled away slightly. She recited a prayer and then clambered to her feet. “We must move on,” she said in a bleak and empty voice. “Move on and seek the light.”

“Can we not try to have him raised?” Sorkatani suggested. “Perhaps if we take him to a temple?”

Buffy shuddered.

“Beyond a point there can be no raising,” Jaheira said. “Especially when … the body … has been desecrated. We live in a time of miracles, and nature allows the rebirth of many that have passed the veil, but there is a time when … it is better … to let go.”

Willow moved away from the back of the group, staggered back into the room that they had just passed through, and threw up.

- - - - -

The party moved on in somber silence. There was no more levity. Their next battles were undertaken with a grim and sober resolve. Imps and goblins fell before their remorseless swords and they moved on into a region of the complex that appeared to be an actual building rather than an underground chamber, although there were no windows.

A floor mosaic surrounded by columns turned out to be full of ingenious and deadly traps. Disarming these gained the party an armory of magical wands; devices that spat forth fire, ice, electrical bolts and poison gas. They shared them out in coldly logical fashion and Willow accepted the Wand of Fire without hesitation.

All were now badly in need of sleep. Even Spike’s eyelids drooped if he remained still for long. There seemed nothing else to do but to press on, and so they did.

- - - - -

“Should we let them sleep?” Andrew suggested. “They’re, like, totally getting fatigued.”

“I want to get them out first,” Jonathan said. “I never liked the way you can sleep in Irenicus’ dungeon without it mattering. It’s kinda illogical. Hey, one time I rested the party so often that it took them three days to get out, and the fight outside was still going on. Totally illogical, Captain.”

“Yeah, the designers screwed up there,” Andrew admitted.

“I could do better,” Warren said.

“Oh yeah?” Jonathan challenged. “It’s still a totally awesome game, dude.”

“As good as it gets, except maybe for ‘Planescape: Torment’,” agreed Warren. “Only, suppose there was a game with infinite variations? Where you could do, like, absolutely anything? Romance options for every NPC in the whole thing?”

“Yeah, that would be totally cool,” Jonathan agreed. “You’re not thinking …?”

“I am,” Warren confirmed. “If I can isolate the way the magic changed the code…” He stared at his own monitor and scratched his head. “It’s not easy. Some of it, well, it’s working but I can’t work out how. But if I can crack it, I can make games that would make ‘The Sims’ look like ‘Minesweeper’. We could be millionaires, guys. Zillionaires.”

“Are we still going on with The Plan?” Andrew asked. “I mean, to rule Sunnydale?”

Warren scratched his head again. “I dunno, man. It’s cool to be a supervillain, yeah, but maybe being a game designer would be even cooler.”

- - - - -

“We are not your enemies,” Sorkatani insisted. “We wish only to escape from this place. And to set Irenicus’ head upon a pike. We should work together, not fight.”

“Do you think us fools?” the assassin sneered. “Foolish indeed would we be to take allies from those we meet in the stronghold of the enemy. Your master dies above, and you shall join him!” He sprang forward, dagger raised, and died upon Sorkatani’s blade.

Around the party the darkness came alive. An assassin vaulted over a railing and struck at Tara. Another stepped from behind a cabinet and stabbed down at Giles’ back. A bowman loosed a shaft at Jaheira. At the rear of the party a figure came out of a shadow and slipped a garotte over Anya’s head.

The Sword of Chaos hissed through the air. Anya’s assailant let the garotte fall from nerveless fingers and toppled to the ground. Xander drew back the sword, saw the great gash that he had made in the man’s skull, and felt the gorge rise in his throat.

Buffy lashed out with her hammer. The man attacking Giles was hurled from his feet and crashed into the chamber wall. He slid down the wall and lay still.

Spike saw a dagger aimed at Tara. No-one else was close enough to intervene in time. He lashed out with a kick, bracing himself for the pain from the chip, and sent the assassin sprawling. Giles brought down his quarterstaff on the assassin’s head.

Spike clutched at his head, anticipating a searing pain, and then let his hand fall and stood confused.

There was no pain.

“It didn’t hurt!” he announced. “The chip didn’t hurt!” His gleeful gaze met Tara’s wide eyes and he read fear in them. He looked around and found that he was the focus of the attention of the entire Sunnydale group. Buffy’s eyes were filled with cold hostility. Spike’s smile disappeared. “Oh, bugger!”

Buffy dropped her hammer to the ground. “No chip.” She drew her sword. “I’m sorry, Spike, but we always knew this would happen one day.”

“Buffy, no!” Dawn protested.

“Close your eyes, Dawn,” Buffy ordered. “You don’t want to see this.”

“Now, wait a minute, Slayer,” Spike said nervously, backing away with his hands raised. He collided with Minsc’s massive chest and was brought to a halt.

“Boo says, what?” Minsc frowned at Buffy.

“Out of the way, Minsc,” Buffy warned. “Spike’s dangerous.”

“Uh, Buffy,” Tara began.

“What madness is this?” Sorkatani demanded. She moved to stand beside Minsc, her scimitar poised to strike, but her eyes were fixed on Buffy rather than on Spike. “Cease! You turn on your comrade. Are you mad, or possessed?”

“Spike’s dangerous,” Buffy told her. “The chip’s stopped working.”

“I know not what you mean,” Sorkatani said, “and nor do I care. He has proven himself as brave and true a companion as any. Strike at him at your peril. I stand by him.”

“And I.” Jaheira’s face was stony and her lips were a tight straight line. She pointed her spear at Buffy.

“Boo says, all for one and one for all.” Minsc brought his own sword to the guard position to defend Spike.

Imoen didn’t speak, but moved to join her companions.

“Spike’s wrecking everything again,” Xander growled. “Splitting us up. Turning us against each other.”

“That is so not fair!” Dawn protested. “Spike didn’t do anything.”

“Except save my life,” Tara said. “Stop it, Buffy.”

“He’s unsouled and chipless. I have to kill him.”

“No you don’t, Buffy,” Willow said. “He’s not Angelus.”

“We don’t have to do this, Slayer,” Spike said. “What bloody difference does the chip make anyway? I still love you. Still promised to protect Dawn. Not gonna hurt you, or your pals.”

“I can’t trust you, Spike.” Buffy sized up Sorkatani warily. She had seen the Oriental girl display a chilling lethality with that curved sword in a score of fights. Buffy was stronger, she knew that, and faster, but Sorkatani was a mistress of her weapons and killed without hesitation or remorse. “He’s a vampire, Sorkatani. You don’t want to protect him.”

“He was a vampire ten minutes ago when you stood shoulder to shoulder with him,” Sorkatani pointed out.

“She has a point, Buffy,” Giles said. “I really don’t think that Spike is suddenly going to turn on us. Not here, in a strange land, where we’re each other’s only allies.”

“Spike would never hurt me,” Dawn insisted.

“Spike saved me,” Tara repeated. “It’s not fair treating him like this. He thought he was going to suffer for saving me and he still did it.”

“And hey, he’s still suffering,” Willow said. “Only not the way he thought. Put the sword down, Buffy. Hey, if we start fighting each other, we’re all going to get killed.”

“Fine! You win!” Buffy spat out, and sheathed her sword. “Only when we get out of here and Spike starts chowing down on the locals, don’t you dare go blaming me.”

“I won’t do that,” Spike said. “Not except on people who attack me first. Right? I can control myself. I’m not a bloody animal.” He turned around and faced Sorkatani. “Thanks for that, pet – Sorkatani. Means a lot, that you’d stand up for me. And you, Jaheira. Imoen. Minsc. And, of course, Boo.”

Continued in CHAPTER FOUR

The characters in this story do not belong to me, but are being used for amusement only and all rights remain with Joss Whedon, Mutant Enemy, the writers of the original episodes, and the TV and production companies responsible for the original television shows. BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (c) 2002 Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation. All Rights Reserved. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer trademark is used without express permission from Fox. I don’t know who currently owns the copyright to Bioware’s game ‘Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn’, but it isn’t me, and characters and dialogue extracts are used without permission and with no intent to profit from their use.

Tags: fic, tabula_avatar

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