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Tabula Avatar Chapter 26

Happy Birthday to slackerace

I’m not wishing a belated happy birthday to maddeinin yet because she’s away for the weekend and wouldn’t see it. I’ll do it when she gets back.

Here’s another chapter of my BtVS/Baldur’s Gate 2 crossover ‘Tabula Avatar’. 5,850 words. Rating R. Lots of spoilers for ‘Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn’, of course. Previous Chapters are HERE.

Summary: AU from some point during Tabula Rasa, when the crystal doesn’t get broken and something else happens to it instead. Events bearing some similarities to those in kallysten and kantayra’s excellent story Tabula Rasa Ad Aeternum are taking place simultaneously with this story, but off-screen.

Tabula Avatar

Chapter Twenty-six

“I could actually order that he be hanged? Legally?” Sorkatani’s eyes widened.

“Yes, my Lady,” Captain Cernick confirmed. “You have the power of High justice within the De’Arnise Hold. It is within your remit to order executions, maimings, brandings, imprisonment and floggings.”

Sorkatani shuddered. “With no right of appeal against my judgments? I like that not. No one should have that power. I see why Nalia feared the hold falling into the hands of one cruel or unscrupulous. Or capricious. A crime could be punished by execution just because I was having a bad hair day.” She stared directly into Cernick’s eyes. “This man Lastin is under your command. What do you know of him? Is he a good soldier – apart from the thefts, that is?”

Cernick pursed his lips and considered his reply for a moment and then spoke. “I have not observed him in combat. He is one of the new guards taken on to replace those slain in the troll invasion, and I do not know him well, but he came to us with good reports. He is a hard worker, I know that, diligent in all his duties and never shirking a task. He cares for his equipment meticulously. He seemed popular with the other men, save only that this past ten-day he has been somewhat morose and unsociable.”

“And that is when the thefts took place,” Sorkatani said. “I would hear him speak for himself.”

“I shall have him brought before you forthwith, my Lady,” Cernick said, and departed.

“Theft from his liege lord’s hold? Utterly shameful behavior,” Anomen spoke up. “Execution is too severe for petty theft, certainly, but you should have him flogged. And dismissed from your service, of course. Perhaps branded to warn others of his bad character.”

“I am certainly having thoughts of a flogging and dismissal from my service,” Sorkatani told him. Her brows were lowered in a heavy frown but the corner of her mouth twitched and her eyes seemed to twinkle.

Anomen smiled and nodded. Dawn gave a horrified gasp. Spike clapped his hand over his mouth to smother a chuckle. Xander clamped his mouth tightly shut and his cheeks puffed out as he fought to smother an outburst of laughter. Buffy’s frown matched Sorkatani’s but without the twinkling eyes.

“No, jabbress, you mustn’t have the guy flogged,” Willow protested. “Not just for some petty thefts. Okay, fire the guy if you have to, but not flogging.”

“A flogging would be entertaining,” Viconia remarked.

“I will do what I must,” Sorkatani said. “Viconia, confirm for me the truth of the man’s words, if you would?”

“Usstan a’dos quarth,” Viconia agreed, bowing her head.

The guard who had been caught stealing from the keep was brought before Sorkatani. Lastin stood to attention, his face impassive, as he confessed his crimes.

“Why?” Sorkatani asked simply.

Lastin’s impassive demeanor cracked and he blurted out a story of a sick wife and medicines costing five hundred danter, two years’ wages for a man-at-arms, and his seeing no honest way to come by the money. “I couldn’t let her die, my Lady,” he finished. “I know what I did was wrong – but I just couldn’t let her die.”

“Viconia?” Sorkatani raised her eyebrows questioningly.

“He speaks the truth, jabbress,” Viconia confirmed.

“You should have come to me,” Sorkatani told the guard. “Or to Captain Cernick in my absence. What you did was wrong – but, in the circumstances, I pardon you.”

“Thank you, my Lady,” Lastin said. “I am to be dismissed?”

“No.” Sorkatani smiled at him. “How would it help your wife if you had no wage at all? Captain Cernick, there is five hundred danter in the tax receipts, if I am not mistaken? Give it to Lastin for the purchase of the medicines.”

“Thank you, my Lady,” Lastin said again, but this time with a tone of reverence and wonder in his voice as well as gratitude.

“Very well, Lady Sorkatani,” Cernick said. “Then he is to receive no punishment?” His stern demeanor and frowning brow could well have indicated that he felt that Sorkatani was being excessively lenient.

“I didn’t say that,” Sorkatani replied, a hint of a smile appearing at the corners of her mouth. “There is arduous and unpleasant work to be done when one is a guard, is there not? The digging of latrine pits, repairs to the palisade, setting up the practice dummies, polishing armor, and cleaning boots – I think that you should be able to find duties enough to assign to Lastin to make him thoroughly miserable for the rest of the month. Then that is to be the end of it. This matter is not to be held against him afterwards.”

Cernick’s frown cleared. “You are wise as well as merciful, my Lady,” he said approvingly, and led away the grateful guard.

Viconia sniffed. “A flogging would have been entertaining,” she lamented.

“It would have been well deserved,” Anomen said. “Stealing from his betters? A heinous crime. You should have dismissed him forthwith.”

“I approve wholeheartedly of your judgment, my dear,” Giles said. “The latrine pits were an excellent touch.”

“Yeah, good call, Tani,” Buffy smiled.

Willow’s forehead bore a perplexed frown. “But you said you were thinking of a flogging and a dismissal. You were just teasing? It was kinda – oh. Right. I get what you meant.” Her eyes went to Anomen and the corners of her mouth turned up. “Cruel, maybe, but, yeah, I get it now.”

“Bit slow there, Red,” Spike grinned. “Xander got it right off.”

“I could do nothing else but show mercy,” Sorkatani said. “Love, give, forgive. These are the principles by which I try to live. All too often, alas, only violence will serve, but this was not one of those occasions.” She grinned ruefully and shook her head. “This place is a drain on my purse indeed. Nalia got the best of me, it seems. And yet, I do not regret acceding to her request. Isaea Roenal would have had the man hanged, I am sure, and that would not have been justice.”

“Wouldn’t even have been in his own interests,” Spike put in. “Saw the look in that bloke’s eyes as he went out, Tani. You’ve got another lad there who’ll follow you into hell if you ask him, no question. Bet that Roenal git’s soldiers would bugger off and leave him to it if he got into a tight spot.”

“That was not my motivation,” Sorkatani said. “I just want to do the right thing.”

“And it is why you are beloved by many,” Jaheira said. “Truly Gorion would have been proud of your actions.”

“I hope so,” Sorkatani said. “Alas that it seems my actions matter not to certain Harpers who concern themselves only with my parentage.” She sighed. “I must not brood upon that. Let us eat and then set forth in search of Tara.”

- - - - -

“I like not these words,” Viconia complained. She was rehearsing ‘Sunshine on a Rainy Day’ as they rode, with Giles tapping out a rhythm on the pommel of his saddle, but she had a problem with the lyrics of the fifth verse. “Shar is a foe to Selûne, goddess of the moon, and to sing what might be seen as praise of the moon may offend my deity.”

“Ah. I see your problem.” Giles thought for a second. “There is no rhyme involved. Substituting ‘wave’ for ‘moon’ would be perfectly acceptable. ‘Like a wave on the sea’.”

“That is satisfactory, zra’ha. Again, then. ‘Make it feel, make it feel, so unreal. Like a wind in the desert, like a wave on the sea. Yeah! Sunshine on a rainy day, makes my soul, makes my soul, trip trip away’…”

Spike squirmed in his saddle. Listening to Viconia sing was giving him a hard-on and making him uncomfortable both physically and morally. He had to admit he was extremely tempted to take her up on her offer of a shag, she was definitely a smart piece of talent and her husky voice made him want to hear her crying out in the throes of passion, but how would Buffy react? Okay, it shouldn’t really be any of the Slayer’s business, she’d made it very clear that there was nothing on offer from her but friendship, but Spike still had a feeling that actually shagging another girl wouldn’t go down with Buffy at all well.

A faint scent on the wind impinged on his consciousness and distracted him from that train of thought. He sniffed the air. “Somebody’s left the prawns on the barbie too bloody long,” he commented. “Well, smells more like chops than prawns, but that’d have spoiled the quip.”

“I can’t smell anything,” Buffy said. “Cooking? So, you’re thinking we’re near a village or something?”

Spike inhaled again. “Nah. Thinking more like someone’s been doing a bit of Joan of Arc reenactment.” Another sniff. “Maybe set fire to a horse too.”

“Eww.” Buffy’s nose wrinkled. “That is totally gross.” She sniffed hard and caught a scent. “Although, possibly accurate. Maybe we oughta check it out. What do you think, Tani?”

“I smell it too,” Sorkatani said, “and I think that we have no choice but to check it out. Unless I am much mistaken the burning was directly in front of us.”

She was proven correct a few minutes later. The charred and twisted body of a horse lay in the path. The remnants of a saddle and harness indicated that it was not the sole source of the stench of burned flesh and confirmation of that fact turned up a few yards further on. A knight in armor.

Or most of one, anyway.

- - - - -

They found the bodies of five horses, three of them partially devoured, and four humans who were dismembered as well as burned. A separate patch of seared metal fragments and scraps of blackened bone seemed to show that there had been a fifth knight who had been almost totally destroyed.

“I know these men,” Anomen said. “I think. Knights of the Order.”

Spike bit back the comment that rose to his lips. This terrible scene was no place for flippancy or sarcasm.

Sorkatani gazed down at one of the bodies. “Ajantis,” she said. Her voice trembled.

“Ajantis Ilvastarr,” Anomen confirmed. “I was not sure, but if you also think so…”

“I know. He accompanied us for a month and a half of hunting bandits. I remember him well.” Sorkatani turned to Viconia. “Can you do anything?”

“Nothing.” Viconia shook her head. “There is too much gone. It is beyond me, jabbress.”

Sorkatani turned back to the body and gazed at it with eyes that seemed to be open too wide. “I thought as much. Poor Ajantis. At least it seems that he achieved his knighthood before he died.”

“What did this?” Buffy wondered. “I’m guessing dragon. Is that just me not knowing enough about this world?” She glanced up at the sky with some nervousness showing on her face.

“I think the same as you,” Sorkatani confirmed. “A red dragon. A firebreather.” She looked up with equal nervousness. “To be caught in the open like this would not be good. If it appears the first thing that we must do is to dismount. Our horses would panic and that could be fatal.”

“Dismount, check. Giles makes with that ‘Won’t back down’ song?”

“Indeed.” Sorkatani turned to Willow. “Fire spells will not harm a red dragon, but perhaps the spell by which you make the air thicken would be of some avail. They have a great resistance to magic, alas, but there is a chance that it would bring it to the ground.”

“Sure thing,” Willow agreed. “I could hit it with a Cone of Cold, maybe? Or an Ice Storm? No, both.”

“With everything you have,” Sorkatani said. “Other than fire, that is. We must check what protections from fire we have and get them ready.”

“I kinda wish we’d brought a rocket launcher with us,” Buffy said. “That’s a thing from our world that would be a big help against a dragon. You think maybe you could sing one up, Giles?”

“I’m afraid that most of the songs that I know deal in rather more wholesale destruction,” Giles lamented. “The atomic bomb features often, but other military hardware is rarely mentioned. ‘The Sidewinder Sleeps Tonight’? No, no use. I can’t think of any other songs about rockets that don’t involve space, astronauts, walking on the moon, or satellites.” His brow furrowed. “Satellites, satellites – aha!” His brow cleared and a partial grin made a tentative appearance.

“A-ha?” Buffy looked at him with a frown of perplexity creasing her forehead. “That Eighties band that did one of the Bond movie themes?”

“What? Oh, no, I was thinking along totally different lines. I think I may have something. A song that would have quite devastating effects upon a dragon.” His frown returned. “Or so I hope. I would prefer not to have to try it out.”

“Mmm, red dragon leather,” Anya mused.

“Hey, crispy fried Scoobies,” Xander warned her. “Let’s not ask for trouble, Ahn.”

“Bloke heading this way,” Spike announced.

“I see him,” Yoshimo said. He drew his bow and nocked a shaft.

“Dismount!” Sorkatani called. The party left their horses and took up a fighting formation.

The approaching man wore chain mail and had a short sword belted at his waist. A steel cap hid most of his hair but the wisps that could be seen were a faded gray and his eyebrows were heavily streaked with white. “What has happened here?” he asked.

This opening gambit provoked a series of eye-rolls and at least two Scoobies bit their tongues holding back remarkably inappropriate rejoinders.

Sorkatani spoke for the party. “We believe that there has been a dragon attack,” she said.

The man surveyed the debris. “Quite probably. However I was brought news that described it somewhat differently. Is one of your group a witch named Willow?”

- - - - -

“Hey, this is interesting,” Jonathan commented. “That dumb scene where you have to fight those ogres that are really knights has gone. Firkraag just killed the knights himself and spread the word that it was Willow.”

“That fight always kinda bugged me,” Warren agreed. “You get railroaded into it and hey, anyone with half a brain would see that there’s something wrong and hold back. You can’t dispel the illusions, you can’t talk them out of it, if you fight to subdue they still try to kill you when they wake up – you’re stuck. And hey, one of them is a BG1 character and he doesn’t even get to recognize the Bhaalspawn’s voice, and you only find out about him if you’ve got Anomen or Keldorn with you. Like you wouldn’t know a guy you might have spent months with? Hey, if you go north straight from the Friendly Arm Inn first time you’re there, you can have Ajantis with you for as long as Jaheira and Khalid. Not that I ever did, paladins are a pain in the butt, but you could. And they think you won’t know the guy without someone pointing it out?”

“Not now,” Jonathan said. “The logic circuits are engaged, Captain. It makes sense this time. I wonder how it’ll play out in your mod?”

“Do a save once they’ve finished talking with Garren Windspear and I’ll check it out,” Warren said. “I wonder what Firkraag’s got against Willow?”

“If you’re gonna leave charbroiled knights lying around it makes sense to blame it on someone who knows Fireball,” Jonathan suggested. “Maybe Tazok put him up to it. Get Willow out of the way and it gives him a better chance with Tara.”

Warren rolled his eyes. “Like he’s got any chance at all? Although I guess it wouldn’t be too bad a plan if she wasn’t gay. At least it got rid of that dumb and pointless fight. You don’t even get much experience for killing the knights and their equipment isn’t anything to shout about. Man, I hate it when games make you do something dumb for purposes of the plot and don’t give you any way out of it. That’s something we’d better watch out for with the pirates.” His tone sharpened. “Have you done anything with the rewrite on Andrew’s sucky scenes or have you just been watching the Adventures of Sorkatani and Buffy the whole time?”

“Don’t lose your cool, dude,” Jonathan replied calmly. “I’ve got the game running in a window. I’m working on the beta job the whole time. It’s just like having the TV on, dude. Pretty much like a movie seeing as how I can’t affect what they do anyway. Yeah, I’ve made progress.” He stuck a finger in his ear and wiggled it around. “Uh, I’ve got a couple of ideas, but you might not like them. They’d mean a whole lot of extra work.”

“I can maybe live with that,” Warren said, “if the pay-off is worth it. What kind of extra work?”

“Well,” Jonathan explained, “a couple of the bits that you weren’t happy with, they suck, yeah, but it’s ‘cause the things the guy says just aren’t things that a guy would say. Only it struck me that they’d be fine coming from a girl. So I thought, suppose we made it so you could play as a girl? There were girl pirates for real and not just in bad movies, dude, Anne Bonney and Mary Read.”

“I could live with having a kick-ass female player character, yeah,” Warren said approvingly. “As long as she wasn’t, like, just Sorkatani Mark 2. I’ve gotten to like that girl a lot but she wouldn’t cut it as a pirate. Hey, wait a minute; wouldn’t the whole Governor’s Daughter romance plot go all to hell with a girl PC? Unless she was a lesbian. Only then I guess the religious types would go all funny about the game.”

“That’s why I said it would make extra work for us, dude. I’ve got this idea for an alternate romance with the Royal Navy captain sent to catch them. Kinda star-crossed lovers thing, man.”

Andrew had been sitting in pouting silence during this interchange, as he had not taken kindly to Warren’s demand that Jonathan did the rewrite, but now he perked up. “Yeah, that would be kinda cool,” he agreed.

Warren nibbled thoughtfully on his lower lip for a moment. “Yeah, I guess that might pretty much rock,” he decided. “As long as there’s a chance of a happy ending. A bit of angst is fine as long as it works out okay in the end. Yeah, you go for it, man. But you still have to put right the problems with the original script, okay?”

“I’m just about finished,” Jonathan told him. “It hangs together pretty well now I’ve changed the dialog in a few places. And I put in a chance to fight your way out instead of talk in one scene ‘cause hey, pirate.” He lowered his head. “At least I think it hangs together well. Maybe it’ll just suck a different way.”

“Hey, don’t put yourself down, man. Your fanfic story was pretty good. About as good as most of the fics on ‘Tales from the Copper Coronet’, I’d say. We’ll get by. If there are any rough edges I’m counting on the magic straightening things out the way it’s done in Baldur’s Gate. Although it probably won’t work quite as well without Dawn really being there.”

“You could take her out of BG2 and stick her in the pirate game,” Andrew suggested. “Well, the whole bunch of them, I guess, not just her.”

Warren shook his head. “I’m not gonna mess them around like that, man. Maybe we did a bad thing sticking them in BG2 in the first place, but they seem to have gotten pretty used to it by now. Even Buffy seems okay with it. I can’t think of any way of getting them back to their real bodies without screwing things up for Alex and Joan and the others so I vote we just call it quits and leave them where they are.”

“Even if they get eaten by a red dragon and Tara ends up married to an ogre or whatever kind of cross that Tazok is?” Andrew challenged.

“Hey, at least he gives her chocolate,” Warren grinned. “Okay, maybe not then. If they get in too deep and I can’t work out any other way of saving them I’ll pull them out and send them to the Caribbean,” he conceded. “You hurry up with those scripts, guys. If that happens we could do with having somewhere for them to go. I don’t know if time would pass for them in the crystal or not and, if it did, that would pretty much suck for them.”

“I don’t think it would,” Jonathan said, “but I don’t know for sure.”

“We could do with pressing on anyway, man,” Warren said. “If Holden Webster’s gonna do some of the voices we have to have those parts finished before he goes off back to college. That doesn’t give us much time; unless we catch him at Spring Break, and I don’t know if he’s even coming back here then. Better to get it done now, okay? I’ll get some more work done on the coding.” He stretched his arms and cracked his fingers. “Man, this can be tiring. I’m working eight hours a day here. More. It’s getting to be like I’d finished college and gone to work for Electronic Arts or somebody.”

“Except that you’ve got control, and nobody cares if you leave pizza boxes scattered round the place, and you can take a break any time you like,” Jonathan said. “Although, come to think of it, I hear that working for Google is pretty much like that except that the food is better than pizza.”

Warren frowned at him. “Wash your mouth out, dude. Nothing’s better than pizza.”

- - - - -

Garren Windspear’s hospitality was welcome but the meal at his house was a gloomy affair for most participants. Only Dawn seemed cheerful; Garren’s son was her age and was cultured, well educated by the standards of the environment, and remarkably good-looking in a clean-cut way. He appeared interested in her and was attentive and polite. He was probably the best prospect for a boyfriend that she’d met since coming to Faerun and in fact, at least on first impressions, she liked him better than anyone she knew back in Sunnydale.

The other members of the group were far less happy. Sorkatani in particular was sunk in depression and Willow’s mood was but little lighter.

“Come on, like anybody’s gonna believe it was us,” Buffy said, making a valiant attempt to lighten the mood. “I mean, well, I know this is totally gross, but what about the bits of the bodies that were eaten? That’s a kinda big clue that it was a dragon.”

“Yeah, well, only if people come out here and look,” Willow said. “And hey, things could have eaten bits of the bodies after they were dead. If word gets round that I Fireballed them and Tani and Spike chopped them up it might be kinda hard to prove otherwise.”

“Especially with Galvarey spreading slanders about me.” Sorkatani gazed at her untouched food. “This may be taken by the Harpers as adding substance to his word.”

“Jierdan Firkraag destroyed me through attacks upon my reputation,” Garren Windspear told them. “Trade caravans pillaged in lands under my protection. The village that was the main source of my rents attacked and the crops burned. Bandit raids that I could not stop but that he cleared up in days. Missing persons who I could not find but, lo, he was somehow able to produce immediately. In no time I was regarded as an incompetent and he was the hero of the hour. The Council appointed him overlord of the area and my own people supported him. I still hold title to the land but authority rests with him.”

“Problems that only he could solve, and no doubt created by him,” Jaheira commented. “The Iron Throne used a similar technique in Baldur’s Gate.”

“Killing Sarevok solved that problem,” Sorkatani said grimly. “I fear that we must apply the same remedy here. I do not understand why he has involved us in all this but we must make him regret it.”

“You think the dragon is, like, his pet? Turned loose to burn crops and, well, knights?” Buffy suggested.

“Dragons are pets to no man,” Jaheira told her. “They are intelligent and proud. One could have allied with this lordling for its own purposes, of course. Or the dragon could even be Lord Jierdan Firkraag. Some dragons can take human form. His very name smells of dragon to me.”

“They can do that? That is so not fair. Although…” Buffy’s voice trailed off and her brow furrowed deeply.

“Are you thinking what I’m thinking?” Xander asked.

“I think so, Xan, but where are we going to find a feather duster, a walrus, and nine gallons of whipped cream out here in the Windspear Hills?” Buffy responded.

Xander roared with laughter. Anya gave a brief and tightly controlled laugh. Giles guffawed. Spike chuckled. Dawn giggled. Willow smiled, for the first time since they had seen the bodies of the knights, and then broke into a laugh.

Jaheira raised her eyebrows and then smiled. A smile gradually spread across Sorkatani’s face. Yoshimo, who seemed to have lost all his previous good humor and had not cracked even a hint of a smile since Sorkatani’s near death, allowed his mouth to twitch into at least a partial grin. Minsc’s grin was wide and cheerful. “Boo says that is very funny,” he said.

Anomen merely furrowed his brows and looked askance at Buffy as if pondering her sanity. Viconia’s eyes narrowed as she flicked glances back and forth between Buffy and the laughing Spike and the corners of her mouth turned down.

“I do not understand,” Garren Windspear said. His son looked equally puzzled. Dawn tried to come up with a short explanation of ‘Pinky and the Brain’ for him.

“It’s a joke about something back where we come from,” Buffy explained. “I thought we could use a little laugh. What I was really thinking was that, if the dragon turns into a guy, maybe he’d be a bit easier to kill then.”

“He would,” Jaheira confirmed. “He would not be able to breathe fire in that form, and neither could he buffet us with his wings, nor bite us in half. I warn you, though, they are said to be able to change back with remarkable speed.”

“Yeah, well, maybe we can hurt him a whole lot before he changes. ‘Cause, building a catapult under his nose? Probably not an option this time. I think this one’s gonna be harder than the Shadow Dragon and that came close enough to handing us our asses in a sling. I say, if we get a chance to get Tara back without messing with the dragon, we take it and run, ’kay?”

Anya pouted. She was still thinking about red dragon leather. Most of the others nodded assent. Willow, however, shook her head.

“I say no. Yeah, getting Tara back is the most important thing, but suppose we go back to Athkatla and get thrown in jail for killing those knights?”

“Surely they would take my word,” Anomen said. “I am a squire of the Order.”

“I was a Knight of the Order until my father died and I retired to take up my duties running the manor,” Garren pointed out. “Lord Jierdan has power and influence. If he is acting against you then your reputation would avail you nothing. I still have friends within the Order, and I shall plead your case, but I can make no promises that my words would hold sway against the falsehoods.”

“Truth spells?” Buffy suggested.

“There are spells that can confound them,” Viconia said.

“We offered to subject ourselves to truth spells when I was accused of murder in Baldur’s Gate, but to no avail,” Sorkatani said. “I think that we must slay the dragon.”

Willow put on Resolve Face. “That’s what I think. ‘Cause, riding in with the head of a red dragon?”

“And the hide,” Anya interjected.

“Pretty powerful evidence that it wasn’t us,” Willow continued. “I say we waste the sucker. And anyone else who gets between us and Tara.”

- - - - -

“Sorkatani’s bunch are in the area,” Rascar announced as he walked into the room that held Tara’s cell. “They’re staying with Garren Windspear tonight.” He frowned at Tazok, who was playing chess with Tara through the bars of the cage. “The plan was for us to do a raid on them and snatch Windspear’s kid out from under their noses but it’s been called off. There’s just too many of them. Conster can’t teleport enough of us in with him to be sure of holding them off while he does the snatch.”

“That is less than a league from here,” Tazok told Tara. “Soon they will arrive and meet their doom. Once they are dead I shall claim you as my prize.”

“They’ll kill you,” Tara warned him. Her expression was grave.

“I am stronger now than when I faced Sorkatani before,” Tazok said. He pushed back his chair, stood up, and flexed the mighty muscles in his arms. “She shall fall before me.”

“Buffy won’t. She’s defeated a god, Tazok. I kinda get the feeling that just being strong won’t help you a whole lot against Sorkatani either. You’re gonna lose.”

“A knife to your throat would make them lay down their weapons,” Rascar sneered.

Tazok growled deep in his throat. “Lay one finger upon Tara and my sword will cleave your skull in twain. Nobody harms her.”

Rascar quailed before the monstrous humanoid’s ferocious scowl. He made no reply but left the room immediately.

“Thanks,” Tara said. “Uh, Tazok, maybe I’ve got Stockholm Syndrome, but you’ve been a real nice captor and I’ve gotten to like you quite a bit. Maybe being your wife wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world, if it came to it, even though I don’t do the thing with guys. But it’s not gonna happen because they’ll kill you. I don’t want to see that. Walk away. Quit before it’s too late.”

“And leave you to Rascar?” Tazok’s nostrils flared. “Even were I not sworn to Firkraag’s service I could not do that. But it will not come to pass. Your friends cannot win against Firkraag’s might in any event. They shall perish. I shall see that they are buried after the manner of heroes. Then I shall take you. I shall be gentle with you, beautiful Tara, and give you great pleasure. Our children shall be strong and wise and will be mighty rulers.”

“Yeah, definitely not the worst thing in the world,” Tara said. “I could live with that, gay or not, if it came to it. Only it won’t. Don’t fight them in here, Tazok. Please. I don’t want to see you die.”

“I will fight them elsewhere if I can,” Tazok said. “I will win, doubt it not, but I would not have you see your friends die at my hand. This is my post, however, and I may have no choice.”

“I hope it doesn’t come to that. It’s your move,” she reminded him.

Tazok looked down at the chess board. “I concede the game. I must go to inspect our defenses, and you have taken too many of my pieces already.” He grinned at her in a fashion that would have been best described as ‘engaging’ if it hadn’t been for his fangs. “As you have taken my heart.”

Tara’s cheeks flushed slightly. “That’s sweet. Come here, okay?” She beckoned him over to the bars. “Bend down.” Tazok obeyed, frowning slightly, and Tara pressed her face to the bars and kissed him. “Goodbye, Tazok.”

“I shall return,” Tazok assured her.

“Maybe,” Tara said. Her blush deepened. “Uh, Tazok, I, uh, if you, uh, if you surrender to them w-when they get here I’ll, uh, let you, you know, take my v-virginity. Just the one t-time. B-but you could have me. If you don’t fight them.”

“You tempt me with your seductive wiles in an attempt to save your friends.” Tazok’s brow furrowed. “It is tempting indeed, but I am Tazok the Mighty and I do not surrender. Also, once would not be enough. I desire to take you many times, in many different positions, and hear your cries of pleasure and passion ring out through many a long night of bliss, and spend days enjoying your spirited company.”

“That’s pretty m-much the nicest thing anyone has ever said to me,” Tara said. “It’s almost a shame it could never work. There are just too many strikes against it. I’m gay, and I’m in love with somebody else, and you’re evil. But it was nice.”

Tazok put his hand through the bars and cupped it behind her head. He pulled her gently but firmly forward and kissed her again with surprising tenderness. “You will learn to love me,” he told her. “Farewell for now.” He strode off towards the main part of the underground fortress.

As soon as Tazok had departed Rascar stepped back in through the other door. He leered at Tara. “So you try to tempt Tazok to desert our cause? Brazen hussy. You shall lose your virginity, never fear, but it shall be to me. And I won’t be gentle. The more you scream the more I’ll enjoy it.”

“Tazok will kill you if I tell him what you said,” Tara threatened.

“Firkraag will have Tazok killed if I tell him what you offered, and that Tazok seemed tempted,” Rascar sneered back. “He doesn’t believe in taking chances. Oh, I don’t think Tazok is stupid enough to take you up on it. He’ll fight Sorkatani all the more furiously to prove that he’s not a coward or a traitor. You seem convinced that he’ll die. Well, she killed him once before, so maybe you’re right. Only then Firkraag will kill her, and all the rest of your friends, and he won’t have any further use for you. So you’ll be mine.”

“Only if Firkraag says so,” Tara reminded him.

“And why should he not? You’re of no interest to anyone else. Unless he decides to eat you, of course. They say that virgins taste especially sweet to dragons.” Rascar sniggered. “Watching that might be even more fun than raping you.”

Tara remembered a taunting epithet that Tazok had directed at Rascar following the thief’s succumbing to her Command to masturbate. A British epithet that was one of Spike’s favorite terms of abuse. She raised her chin defiantly. “Yeah, sure, for you. Wanker.”

Rascar’s face contorted in fury. “I have not forgotten that, priest. You will regret it, I swear. I shall make you suffer.”


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: birthday wishes, birthdays, fic, tabula_avatar
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