Speaker-to-Customers (speakr2customrs) wrote,

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Tabula Avatar Chapter 4

Here is Chapter Four of my BtVS/Baldur’s Gate 2 crossover. This chapter is 4,970 words – and that makes 21,520 words in 4 days! Still PG-ish, any warnings at this stage would be for violence, with my intention still being to reach R later. Contains lots of spoilers for BG2.

Chapter One was HERE. Chapter Two was HERE. Chapter Three 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 Four

The girl was pretty, in a sultry way, with olive skin and raven hair. Her blue silk dress clung to a voluptuous but lithe figure. “Ah, excellent,” she purred in seductively rich tones. “I see that I am to be provided fresh blood for once.”

“Where is your master, fiend?” the leather-clad man confronting her demanded. “We seek Irenicus. Give us that upstart and you shall survive.” The two henchmen at his back drew their bows and sighted along the shafts.

“Already I am dead, thief,” the girl crooned. “Join me in darkness.”

“Enough! Kill this creature and raze the guild. Irenicus shall learn what it means to oppose the Shadow Thieves.”

“Vampire!” Sorkatani hissed from just inside the door of the chamber where the confrontation was taking place. “Kill her.” Her fingers flew as she nocked an arrow and loosed.

Spike raised his crossbow and fired without hesitation. Minsc loosed a shaft. Jaheira whirled a sling about her head and let fly. Giles and Xander fired their crossbows. Yoshimo followed suit with a shortbow.

The vampire woman was already in motion. She seized the Shadow Thief spokesman and spun him into place as a shield against the arrows from his henchmen. She carried him in front of her as she charged, slammed him into one of the bowmen, and kicked out to disarm the other. Her fangs sank home into a throat.

Arrows and crossbow bolts thudded home in her back even as she bit. She snarled and turned, raising her prey as a shield against the new attackers, and charged. Spike ran to meet her, dropped low, and swept her legs out from under her. Buffy’s sword bit into the vampire’s neck and took off her head.

She didn’t dust.

Her body dissolved into a cloud of white vapor and drifted away. The Shadow Thief’s body fell to the ground and its head lolled to one side.

“Oh, bollocks!” Spike swore. “Sodding gypsy tricks.”

Sorkatani showed no sign of surprise. “Follow it to its coffin and stake the body,” she said in tones of command. Jaheira moved to obey.

Spike raised an eyebrow. “That really how it works here, pet?”

“So your vampires are like Dracula? Sleep in a coffin, turn to mist?” Buffy asked.

“Yours are not?” Sorkatani raised an eyebrow.

“Sleep in a coffin? Not bloody likely.” Spike shook his head. “This lot are bloody posers, it – hey!”

An arrow glanced off the Mail of the Dead and fell to the floor beside Spike. Even as he turned another arrow struck, gashing his forearm below the sleeves of the mail coat. “Bloody hell!” he shouted at the two surviving Shadow Thieves, who were drawing their bows for further shots. “We’re not your sodding enemies! My enemy’s enemy is my friend, right?”

They ignored him and loosed again. He rolled and dodged. One of the arrows struck Minsc in the thigh. The party unleashed their own volley of bolts and arrows in answer and the thieves fell.

“Are those blokes seriously stupid or what?” Spike grumbled.

Jaheira returned. “The vampire escaped,” she reported. “It entered an air shaft, a mere pipe, and I could not follow.”

“Perhaps I could?” Dawn suggested.

“Hardly, child,” Jaheira told her. She held her hands four or five inches apart. “The pipe was only this size.”

“Hey, I wonder if Spike would turn to smoke like that if we staked him? Maybe we should find out,” Xander said.

Tara turned from where she was tending to Minsc’s wound. “Xander! That’s not funny.”

“Who was joking?” Xander shook his head. “I still think we should stake Spike.”

“I thought I was passing the Sword of Chaos to a warrior, not to a mean-spirited fool,” Sorkatani snapped.

Xander flushed. “Listen, lady, you don’t know the history between us and Spike.”

“Like when we worked together all summer? Like when I saved Buffy from burning up?” Spike reminded him, a bitter edge to his voice.

Giles sighed. “Please, both of you, stop it. You are giving me a headache. I must say, Xander, I’m rather disappointed in you.”

“Yeah, Xander, stop it. For me?” Willow pleaded.

Xander simultaneously pouted and frowned. “Okay. Sorry I said that, Spike.” The apology was hardly more than a grunt.

“I'm used to it,” Spike grunted in return. He walked away a few yards to where the bodies of two thieves lay and began to search them for coin and useful items of equipment.

“And are you disappointed in me too?” Buffy challenged Giles.

“Frankly, yes.” Giles took off his glasses and pinched the bridge of his nose. “I must say that Spike has behaved rather well since we were brought to this place. We have enough troubles without you needlessly antagonizing him.”

Buffy’s eyebrows shot up. “And what happened to ‘I’ll never want your opinion, Spike’?”

“I was wrong. Not half an hour after I said that Spike saved your life while I was just standing there doing nothing but, well, watching.” Giles replaced his glasses. “Your own attitude to Spike is hardly consistent. You have actively sought his help, even his company, on a regular basis since your, ah, return. Why shun him now?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “Because of the chip. It’s stopped working. He was a serial killer in prison, and now he’s escaped. We can’t trust him.”

“I suspect that there is nothing wrong with the chip. I don’t know if Xander is right about us being somehow trapped inside a computer game, or if we are in an alternate dimension – perhaps one that somehow influenced the creation of the game – but it seems to me that the chip simply might not operate according to the parameters that define this world. If, or rather when, we return to Sunnydale I am sure that the chip will once more be in perfect working order.”

“And if it isn’t?”

“We can cross that bridge when we come to it. Spike’s affection for Dawn is perfectly genuine, of that I have no doubt. It may act as a brake on his desire for wanton carnage, perhaps as effectively as the chip itself.”

“And his ‘affection’ for me?”

“Led him to endure a quite horrific beating for your sake, I might remind you, and inspired him to patrol alongside us when you were, ah, in no position to be won over by his actions.”

“When I was dead, you mean.”

“Ah, yes. I would, of course, be appalled if you did reciprocate his affections – a ridiculous idea, I know – but he does deserve to be treated with some degree of courtesy and respect.” Giles rubbed his forehead. “I need to sleep. We all need to sleep. Perhaps that is why our tempers are fraying.”

Jaheira handed Spike a bottle. “This potion will heal your wound. I have but one healing spell remaining, and I would hold it back lest aid is needed by one who is unconscious and who cannot drink.”

“Makes sense,” Spike said, his eyes fixed on where Buffy and Giles were carrying on their conversation some yards away. He could hear them, but they were far enough away that they might not realize that. ‘Giles is being fair to me for once,’ he thought. ‘Question is, will the Slayer take any notice?’ He tore his attention away from them and drained the vial of healing potion. “Great stuff! Taken the pain right away from my ribs, too. Thanks, Jaheira.”

“It is my duty to tend to any of our band who requires attention,” Jaheira said with no friendliness in either her expression or her tone. “That is all. There is no need to thank me.”

“No reason why I shouldn’t be polite, either.”

Jaheira nodded briefly and then walked away with no further words.

Sorkatani came to stand beside Spike. “Forgive her if she seemed rude.”

“No problem, pet. She’s been through a lot.” Spike grimaced and shook his head. “The bloke who runs this place is a right bastard.”

“Indeed.” Sorkatani glanced around the group. “There is much friction within your group. This is not good. Dissension is a more deadly peril than any outside enemy. I sense that we are nearing the exit of this place. Once outside, it may be that our groups might go their separate ways. If so, you would be welcome to travel with me.”

Spike raised an eyebrow. “Thanks, pet. I might take you up on that. Don’t want to leave them, though. I made a promise to protect Dawn, until the end of the world, and I wouldn’t want to go back on it. Even if her sister is being a right pain in the arse.”

Sorkatani looked from Spike to Buffy and then back again. “A lovers’ quarrel?”

Spike’s eyebrows shot up. “What makes you say that? Yeah, I love her, but it’s just one way. Had thought she was getting to like me, but it seems I was wrong.”

“Perhaps. I have little experience in matters of the heart. It seems to me, though, that – no matter. Let us move on.”

- - - - -

“Something about this seems not right to me,” Jaheira said.

“I concur.” Sorkatani stared through a glass pane at the old man, locked in the room beyond, who claimed to be yet another prisoner.

“What’s up?” Xander asked. “The old guy’s locked in. Why not let him out?”

“Furniture,” Sorkatani pointed out. “Tables, desks, an armchair, a bed. We were not so comfortable. Iron cages for us. A bare room for Imoen. Yoshimo, where were you imprisoned?”

“In that chamber where we fought the vampire.” Yoshimo shuddered. “Perhaps I was to have been food for the creature. I came close to blundering into the wand traps when I escaped.”

“You see?” Sorkatani shook her head. “Yet I see items within the room that would be of use to us. And look, there is food on the table! I am torn.”

“He’s just an old guy. How much danger can he be?” Xander shook his head. “There’s twelve of us.”

“Thirteen, in fact,” Sorkatani corrected him. “And there are warriors and creatures in this world who could slay all thirteen in a heartbeat. Such beings would not be restrained by a simple locked door, however. Perhaps my caution is excessive. Very well, we shall open the door. Unless you say otherwise, Buffy?”

“No, let the old guy out,” Buffy said.

“Thank you, good people,” the old man said, as Imoen opened the door of the chamber. “I have no skill in combat, but I will follow you from this place, if I may. I will try to stay out of the way.”

“Fine, you do that,” said Buffy, hardly looking at the man. “Okay, we’ve got the drill off pretty pat by now. Loot the room and move on, right?”

- - - - -

“At last it seems that we are getting somewhere,” Sorkatani observed with satisfaction in her voice. They were proceeding along a broad tunnel with a sewer channel along the middle. “I believe that I can see daylight ahead. Maybe we’ve found the way out.”

“You have found only your own deaths, foolish apes,” the old man boomed out in a voice very different from the one with which he had pleaded for aid. His face transformed, the features fading, leaving him with only eyes, nostril slits, and a broad lipless mouth. He grew, rising to seven feet in height, and long arms reached out for Sorkatani.

She thrust backwards with her scimitar without even looking at him. Simultaneously Imoen knifed the creature in the side. Jaheira dropped the butt of her spear to the ground, wedged it against her foot, and angled the weapon towards the monster. Minsc grabbed it by one arm. Sorkatani released her scimitar, leaving it sticking out of the strange being’s stomach, and caught the other arm. Together Minsc and Sorkatani pulled the creature forward and ran it into Jaheira’s braced spear, impaling it. It screamed horribly, jerked, and went limp.

Sorkatani pulled her scimitar free and wiped the blade clean. “Doppelganger,” she explained to a wide-eyed and open-mouthed Buffy. “Baldur’s Gate was plagued by such creatures. It is said that they are very intelligent, but I have always thought them stupid. They are so convinced that they are superior to us that they will attack against overwhelming odds. They can be dangerous if they get right in amongst you in a melee, for they will change their appearance to impersonate one of the group, and friend may strike friend in error, but they pose no great threat if you keep your wits about you.”

Jaheira looked at her spear. It transfixed the doppelganger, the point and two feet of shaft protruding from the creature’s back, and was coated with blood and slime. The shaft appeared to be cracked. Jaheira shook her head, unstrapped a shield from her back, and slipped her arm through its grips. Sorkatani tossed her the scimitar and looked to Minsc, who was carrying a bundle of spare weapons on his back, and the huge warrior unslung the bundle and opened it for Sorkatani’s perusal. She selected a katana, fastened its scabbard at her side, and practiced drawing and resheathing the weapon a couple of times.

“Thought that bloke didn’t smell quite right,” Spike muttered.

“You could smell him? A useful talent,” Sorkatani said.

“Trouble is, ‘m getting a bit overwhelmed here,” Spike said. “Place stinks. We’re all bloody filthy, all you humans are sweaty, blood all over the place. Not easy for me to pick scents out, pet.”

“Yeah, we could all use a bath,” Buffy remarked. “We’re getting to smell pretty gross.”

“That’s right.” Dawn looked at Xander. “I guess that means your idea that we’re all inside a computer game has to be wrong. I mean, computers have sound cards, and graphics cards, but they don’t have smell cards. So this has got to be a real world.”

Xander shook his head. “It’s all pretty much D&D, anyway. Hell, we’ve even got Character Classes! Okay, so maybe we can’t actually be in a computer, but I still think that it’s the game. Maybe the guys who wrote the game dreamed about this place. Or some nerd is dreaming and we’re all stuck inside his whacky D&D nightmare.” He grinned at Willow.

His grin was not reflected in Willow’s expression. Her eyes were screwed up and her mouth turned down. “It’s all my fault,” Willow said. “I did a spell. I wanted us to forget about the things that were making us unhappy. Well, I guess pretty much everything was making us unhappy. Maybe it didn’t make us forget, just took us away from Sunnydale, and money worries, and the Hellmouth and all that shit. And yeah, I was stupid. And selfish. And I lied to you, Tara. I know.”

“I can’t see how the spell you describe could have brought us here,” Giles said. “This place is hardly a paradise.”

“Even though it does have Bounty Hunters,” Spike put in.

Giles laughed. “Indeed. Seriously, though, Willow, I find it hard to reconcile your spell with the results, but there may be something in your hypothesis. You may have made us vulnerable to attack by some other force, a wizard or demon perhaps.”

“Ethan Rayne?” Buffy suggested.

Giles frowned. “I wouldn’t have thought that Dungeons and Dragons was quite his style, but I suppose that it is a possibility. The Initiative may have released him from custody after the collapse of their operations in Sunnydale. Hmm.” He turned his attention back to Willow. “You were foolish, yes, Willow. Your actions were ill-considered. I see no point in dwelling on it, however. Does the timing of your spell coincide exactly with our transportation to this place?”

“Yeah. I set a fire going with some Lethe’s Bramble just before I set off for the Magic Box. When the fire went out the spell would kick in and the crystal would go black.”


“Yeah. I checked it after I got to the magic box, and it was still green. It’s in my pouch. Oh! Crystal. If I break it then it breaks the spell!” Her hand went to her pouch.

“Wait,” Tara said. “Don’t break it just yet.” She ducked her head and let her hair fall across her face as she realized that everyone was staring at her.

“You like being in this place?” Buffy said. Her eyebrows were raised almost into her hairline.

“Uh, no, but, we can’t just leave Sorkatani like this. We have to stay until she gets out of this place. She might still need our help.”

Sorkatani smiled at her. “Thank you, Tara. Spoken like a true comrade.”

“But not in the Communist sense, I hope,” Anya put in.

“I guess,” Buffy said, sounding reluctant. “But do it the second she gets out, okay?”

“Uh, guys,” Willow said, “it’s out of our hands anyway. No crystal. I haven’t even opened this pouch since we got here, which was dumb of me ‘cause it would have been just right for spell components and stuff, but it’s not there. The pouch is empty.” She swallowed. “The crystal stayed behind. We’re still trapped.”

- - - - -

“You sure are,” Warren gloated. He held up the crystal. “The Willow who stayed here should have been more careful.”

“So, if we broke it, would they zap out of the game and back into their own heads?” Andrew asked.

“Nope. There’s nothing in here now. It’s just a pretty piece of rock. Everything that was in it is in the game now. They’re stuck there for good. Well, unless we reverse the download, put everything back in the crystal, and then smash it.”

“Uh, Warren, you think maybe we should do that?” Jonathan suggested. “When we finish running them through the game, that is.”

“Why should we?” Warren shrugged. “You heard Willow. They were miserable here. She thinks they got sent there to get away from the bad stuff. The new versions of them seem pretty happy to me. Why drag them back and mess everything up? What’s Xander going to say when he finds out his girl is engaged to Giles now?”

“Uh, yeah, things could get whacky.” Jonathan pursed his lips. “I don’t know. I wouldn’t like to be stuck in Amn myself. There’s some serious shit going on there. And, well, Buffy wants to get back.”

“Just so that she can get a hot shower,” Warren pointed out. “I’ll think about it, okay? There’s a long, long, way to go in the game yet.”

“Uh, Warren,” Andrew said, “they’re about to leave the Irenicus dungeon. Spike’s going to go out into the sunlight and he’s a Vampyr. He’ll burn up.”

“Maybe not,” Warren said. “I changed a PC race to Vampire with Shadowkeeper once and it didn’t really make much difference. There’s no check point for PC vulnerability to sunlight. Like that bug that lets you get Drow stuff out of the Underdark. If you bypass the check point, you can use the Adamantine gear no problem. It should be the same for Spike.”

“And if it’s not?” Andrew frowned at the monitor.

“Then it’s bye bye Spike. We’ll find out in a minute. Come on, short stuff, unpause.”

- - - - -

“Daylight!” Sorkatani exclaimed exultantly.

“Oh, bollocks,” Spike muttered. He was wearing his suit jacket over his chain mail, simply in order to have pockets to hold his lighter and cigarettes, and he took it off and held it over his head. “Hope there’s shelter somewhere near. Or I could hide out in the tunnel until nightfall.”

The ground shook under their feet. The ‘boom’ of a massive explosion reverberated through the tunnel from somewhere close at hand. Fragments of rock began to fall from the ceiling; small pieces at first, but larger rocks followed.

“Uh, guys, hiding out probably not an option,” Willow cried. “The tunnel’s collapsing!”

“Run for it!” Sorkatani yelled. Everybody obeyed.

They raced towards the light. Their eyes had adjusted to the darkness of the tunnels and the sunlight dazzled them. They could see little of the outside until they emerged into the open. Behind them the tunnel roof collapsed completely. Chunks of rock bounced and rattled past them. A cloud of dust billowed out and enveloped them, making them choke and cough, and blinding them again until it settled.

Imoen was the first to make it through the dust cloud. She saw the mage who had been her captor, engaged in a mismatched battle against a crowd of thieves who were falling before his magical blasts without ever getting close enough to trouble him, and she yelled out in anger. “You! You’re not going to torture us any longer.”

Sorkatani stumbled out of the dust beside her and stood coughing.

“So, God-child, you have escaped.” Irenicus dispatched the last of his Shadow Thief opponents with casual ease and turned his cold eyes on Sorkatani and her companions.

Spike was largely unaffected by the dust. His attention was mainly focused on seeking shelter from the sunlight but he heard the words. “God-child?” he muttered. “What the sodding hell does he mean by that?”

“I won’t let you leave. Not when you’re so close to unlocking your power.”

Sorkatani’s hands blurred as she nocked an arrow to her bowstring. “Who mentioned us leaving?”

“Resistance is useless.” Irenicus waved a hand and Sorkatani froze in place with the bow half drawn. Spike found himself held motionless with shelter ten feet away. The rest of the group, those who had made it out of the dust and those who were still blinded and unable to see what was going on, were similarly restrained.

All except for Imoen. She raised her hands and threw a bolt of her own magic at Irenicus. He waved a hand and dispersed her spell with ease. “Foolish. You dare pit your magic against mine?”

‘Nitwit girl,’ Spike thought. ‘Don’t try and take the bugger on by yourself! Break his spell on us lot and we’ll kick his arse. Come on, love, I’m going to burn to death here!’ Unfortunately his vocal chords were as paralyzed as his legs and he had no way of communicating his tactical suggestion to the girl.

Imoen advanced and threw another spell to no greater effect. Irenicus retaliated with a spell of his own; a weakening spell rather than a destructive one, apparently, as Imoen stumbled and slowed but took no serious harm.

Even as Imoen was unleashing another, equally ineffective, spell against Irenicus there were multiple shimmers in the air around the magical duelists. Several cloaked figures appeared and one spoke.

“This is an unlicensed use of magical energies! Cease this destructive rampage. You shall be taken into custody by the authority of the Cowled Wizards!”

“Do not presume to give me orders!” Irenicus growled. “Begone.”

“We are the law here, mage,” the wizard spokesman said. “Surrender!”

“You annoy me,” Irenicus said. His voice conveyed little anger, mild irritation at most, and his next action was shockingly unexpected. “Die.” He raised a hand in almost leisurely fashion and threw a bolt of energy that blasted a hole through the spokesman’s chest.

“Madman!” one of the other wizards shouted. He fired a bolt of his own at Irenicus, who ignored it. The energy bolt fizzled out without touching its target and Irenicus responded in lethal fashion.

The air shimmered again as more Cowled Wizards teleported in to reinforce their colleagues. A magical battle raged for several minutes under the helpless eyes of the paralyzed adventurers and Scoobies.

The dust settled. The sunlight blazed down on Spike, who was unable even to move the jacket to protect himself effectively, and he gritted his teeth, said a silent farewell to Buffy and Dawn, and prepared himself for death.

Nothing happened. The sunlight was harmless to him.

- - - - -

“Your pathetic magics are useless against me,” Irenicus mocked.

“Even if we fall, our numbers are legion,” one of the Cowled Wizards pointed out. “You will be overwhelmed.”

“This bores me.” Irenicus lowered his hands. “Very well. I shall not resist further. You may take me and the girl.”

“What? That’s not fair,” Imoen protested. “I’ve done nothing wrong.”

“You were involved in the illegal use of magic,” a wizard pointed out. “You shall come with us. The tribunal shall decide your fate.” He inscribed a magical symbol in the air. A swirling white cloud enveloped Imoen. Another wizard sent a similar cloud to envelop Irenicus. Circles of mist surrounded the Cowled Wizards. The vapor clouds dissipated and revealed empty spaces. The wizards, Irenicus, and Imoen were gone.

- - - - -

With Irenicus’ departure the spell was broken. Sorkatani lowered her bow. “Imoen!” she cried.

“No! This cannot be! The murderer of Dynaheir flees from righteous butt-kicking vengeance!” Minsc shook his head. “And he takes Imoen with him too.”

“Uh, she got kinda arrested, right? So those guys are, like, the law?” Buffy tried to put a positive spin on the situation. “We can just go to them and, you know, explain.”

“We are indeed still within Athkatla,” Yoshimo announced. “This is the City of Coin, Buffy. There is only justice here for those who can afford it. And the Cowled Wizards are a law unto themselves.”

“We shall recover Imoen,” Sorkatani said. “Whatever it takes.”

“That guy was all kinds of powerful,” Willow said. “I can’t beat him, guys. Not even close. I couldn’t break that spell he put on us.”

“I wonder,” Giles mused. “While we were held motionless an idea came to my mind. I think that being a bard in this world may well operate in the same way as the magic in the ‘Spellsinger’ books.”

“Hey, Giles, that’s pretty lowbrow reading taste for you,” Willow commented.

“A little light reading at bedtime is much more conducive to relaxation than the perusal of a serious tome,” Giles said. “They are hardly great literature, but suffice to while away an idle hour. Anyway, it occurred to me that if I were to sing ‘Freebird’ it might well free us from our magical bonds. Alas, I was unable to make a sound. I had no access to a musical instrument, nor could I have moved my hands if I had, but it may be relevant at some future time.”

“That probably made a whole lot of sense, but I couldn’t follow it,” Buffy said. She yawned. “Passing out on my feet here. Yeah, we should get on to the guys who arrested Imogen – Imoen – but not now or we’re gonna be talking one whole lot of nonsense to them.”

“We do badly need sleep,” Jaheira agreed. “That must be our first priority, Sorkatani, lest we make serious errors.”

“Very well, though it galls me,” Sorkatani said. “Yoshimo, this is your home city, is it not? Can you show us to an inn nearby?”

“This is Waukeen’s Promenade,” Yoshimo told them. “There are shops aplenty, and several inns. We can bathe and sleep, and then eat well.”

“Shops?” Buffy pricked up her ears. “Uh, guys, I have to say that clean clothes are pretty much as necessary as food and sleep. No use having a bath and putting this stuff on again ‘cause, hey, filthy.”

“Yeah, we could use some – hey!” Xander began to back Buffy’s point and then broke off and pointed a quivering finger at Spike. “Evil Dead’s out in the sun and not burning up.”

“Just as bloody well or I’d have frazzled while that pillock had us all playing statues,” Spike said. “Yeah, looks like the sunlight here doesn’t do me any harm. Must be the wrong kind of sun.”

“Hey, we might all have super-powers,” Dawn suggested. She bent to a large lump of rock, attempted to lift it, and gave up. “Only, not so much.”

“If Spike is immune to sunlight here it will make things much more convenient,” Giles said. “We can travel around freely by day or by night.”

“He could have just stayed in during the day.” Buffy yawned again. “Come on, people. Baths and bed.”

- - - - -

Yoshimo led them to an inn that was a mere fifty yards away. The Mithrest Inn, which he assured them was a fine quality establishment. They were amply supplied with coin from their looting of rooms and bodies in Irenicus’ underground complex. However, it turned out that the Mithrest was of too fine quality to accept the custom of such grubby and disheveled visitors. They were refused admission and had to turn to the nearby Den of the Seven Vales.

The management there was less fussy. The weary visitors were greeted warmly as soon as they proved that they had funds. Hot baths were filled and bedrooms were prepared. It seemed that the concepts of single and double rooms were alien to hoteliers in this reality; the rooms all had several beds and sharing was standard practice. The men took one room and the women took another. Xander began to protest at the idea of Spike sharing the men’s room but lacked the energy to see his argument through. Everyone simply piled into the first vacant bed that came to hand and went straight to sleep.

Buffy’s last waking thought was that in the morning it would undoubtedly turn out that this whole adventure had just been a dream and that she would wake up in her own familiar bed in Sunnydale.

She didn’t. She woke to the crowing of cocks as dawn broke over Athkatla. They had been too tired to follow through on her suggestion that they buy clean clothes before going to the inn, and so she had to dress in the same soiled clothes as she had worn the day before. Washing was done in bowls of cold water. She had no toothbrush.

And as for the toilets … the less said, the better.

Continued in CHAPTER FIVE

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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