Happy birthday to wendylouwho
Here is the next chapter of my BtVS/Baldur’s Gate 2 crossover ‘Tabula Avatar’. This chapter is talk rather than action. Rating R. 3,940 words. 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 loose similarities to those in kallysten and kantayra’s excellent story Tabula Rasa Ad Aeternum are taking place simultaneously with this story, but off-screen.
The upper floor of Nalia’s keep was more home-like than most of the places Buffy had seen in this world. There was a sitting room with comfortable armchairs and a fire that was kept burning in a hearth even in the middle of the night. Burning ‘cheerily’ in the hearth, Buffy thought, that was the way they always described fires like that in books. She pushed open the door and walked in.
None of the candles were lit but the room wasn’t empty. Sorkatani was occupying one of the armchairs, sitting curled up with her arms wrapped around her knees, staring into the fire. She was wearing a long flannel nightdress and her feet were bare.
“Uh, sorry,” Buffy said. “I didn’t know anyone was here.”
“That’s okay,” Sorkatani said. “Couldn’t you sleep either?”
“Uh, I woke up,” Buffy said. “I was so tired after all the work Anya’s had us doing skinning the dragon that I thought I’d pretty much sleep for a week, uh, a tenday, but it didn’t work out like that.” She wasn’t really in the mood for company, and even if she had been Sorkatani so wasn’t the companion who she would have chosen, and she considered walking out again.
“A bad dream?” Sorkatani enquired.
“Yeah.” Buffy shivered despite the room’s warmth. The dream had not been pleasant at all and the worst thing about it was that she had a feeling that it might well be a Slayer dream.
“Me too.” Sorkatani glanced briefly at Buffy and then went back to staring at the flames. “I dreamed of Imoen.”
The young witch had been snatched away from the group only a few hours after Buffy had met her and she could barely remember Imoen. Buffy remembered Sorkatani’s missing friend as a pleasant enough girl, somewhat reminiscent of Willow both in looks and in manner, but who seemed to have been traumatized by her experiences in captivity and who had periodically lapsed into moods of dark depression. She had made an appearance in Buffy’s dream too, but only on the sidelines, and Buffy hadn’t taken a great deal of notice. Other aspects of the dream had been far more compelling of attention.
“I guess you weren’t dreaming of happy times back in Candlekeep, huh?” Buffy ventured. She set down the candleholder that she was carrying.
Sorkatani shifted in the chair so that she was facing in Buffy’s direction. Her change of position revealed that she had Celestial Fury tucked at her side. “Your guess is correct,” Sorkatani confirmed. “I dreamed of Imoen in captivity, in a place that I take to be Spellhold, but being tormented by Irenicus again. I hope that it is not a dream that shows the truth but I greatly fear that it is. ‘You will come too late’, she said. And yet I am convinced that Spellhold is a trap and that if we go too soon we shall just fall into Irenicus’ power once again. I seek weapons of might, armor of proof, wards and charms of potency, before we face him.”
“I didn’t understand my dream,” Buffy said. “But hey, Imoen was in it, and I think we must have rescued her. So don’t worry about your dream, ‘kay? We’ll make it in time.” She decided to keep the disturbing, even terrifying, aspects of her own dream to herself for the time being. There was no point in scaring Sorkatani out of her socks. Even if she wasn’t actually wearing any right now.
“You saw Imoen? Was she well?”
“Seemed to be, and she was with us. But she was just, like, there. It wasn’t like she was doing much. The rest of it, well, I kinda don’t want to talk about it right now.” Buffy went to the other armchair, pulled the Blade of Roses from the sash of her nightgown, and sat down. She followed Sorkatani’s example and tucked the scabbard of the sword into the side of the seat. “Maybe it was all big with the prophecy but hey, no use if it doesn’t show me anything I can understand. Maybe Giles can work it out.”
“Sometimes I dream of dying,” Sorkatani told her. “Those dreams make no sense at the time but later I will find myself in a situation that I recognize. I make sure that I do not do what I did in the dream, and I live. It scared me at first but now those prophetic dreams are almost a comfort. I have not had such a dream in a month or more. The dreams I have had lately are not like that. I fear that they are false. Lures sent to trap me. Irenicus appears in them and tries to tempt me to take my father’s power, or so it seems, yet if that is the purpose of the dreams then they are badly chosen. They offer me nothing that I would want.”
Buffy raised an eyebrow. “Wrong kind of temptation?”
Sorkatani nodded. “They offer power. Power through magic. Power to gain things for myself, and also to protect my friends, yet the protection aspect is unconvincing and it seems to be almost an afterthought. As if the sender of the dreams thinks only of selfish motives and cannot really comprehend that someone could really care deeply for friends. And hey, me and magic? So not mixy things.”
Buffy burst out laughing.
Sorkatani’s mouth turned down and her forehead creased. “Did I use the idiom incorrectly?”
Buffy bit back her laughter. “Hey, I wasn’t laughing at you. I thought you were, like, joking. ‘Cause that was just so Sunnydale.”
“I am not good at jesting,” Sorkatani said. She shifted in her chair as if nervous.
Buffy frowned. “Could have fooled me. And hey, aren’t you supposed to be good at everything?” She glanced quickly aside at the fire. The jealousy and resentment of Sorkatani that she still felt had flared up as she spoke and she hoped that it had not come through in her voice. It made her feel like a total bitch, Cordy or Viconia style, especially after what she had seen in the dream. “I mean, I’m pretty sure that you can do magic anyway,” she said, trying to cover.
“I can perform some lesser clerical spells,” Sorkatani admitted. “I can heal minor injuries, and charm animals, and I can Draw Upon Holy Might to give me strength perhaps as great even as yours for a short time. I can slow down the effects of poison, and that is the power for which I am most thankful, for without it I would have died in the Harpers’ Hold.” Her mouth twisted briefly. That was obviously still a painful memory. “The true magic of wizards and witches is a mystery to me.” She fixed her eyes on Buffy. “There are many things at which I have little skill.”
“I don’t see it,” Buffy said. “Hey, you’re the Perfect Warrior, right?” She heard that note in her voice again and flushed. “Sorry. I guess I’m just a little jealous of you.”
“Jealous of me?” Sorkatani opened her eyes wide. “I struggle to control my jealousy of you.”
“You’re kidding, right?” Buffy’s eyes widened to match Sorkatani’s.
“I do not jest.” Sorkatani’s mouth twitched into the beginnings of a smile. “You are stronger than me.”
“Spike’s a little stronger than you too, I think,” Buffy pointed out.
“He is not a girl,” Sorkatani said. “I am not used to girls who are stronger than me. You are faster as well. More skillful with a sword, even. I know that it is wrong for me to resent this but sometimes I cannot help myself.”
“I’ve met super strong little girls who aren’t me before,” Buffy revealed. “I got over it.” A hint of a smile began to appear on her face too. “Of course, beating the hell out of Glory with a troll hammer helped one whole lot.”
“I shall remember that if we ever find a troll hammer,” Sorkatani said. The smile on her face was broader now and robbed her words of any sting.
Buffy smiled back. “Hey, you can tell jokes. I hope. Anyway, I’m jealous of you, I admit it. Everybody loves you.”
“Except for those who want to kill me.”
“Well, yeah, but I mean all of us lot. Willow’s been my best friend since we were sixteen and I kinda think she might choose you over me if it came down to it. Spike treats you like a princess. Giles has pretty much adopted you. I sometimes even get the feeling that Dawn would rather you were her sister instead of me. And your own guys, well, they worship the ground you walk on.”
“I think you overstate the case,” Sorkatani said. “Jaheira’s tongue can be as sharp with me as with any.” She sighed. “But yes, they do care for me, and this pleases me, but it is a worry as well. I greatly fear that I will disappoint them. You quarrel with your friends sometimes. You do things that they think are wrong. You treat them harshly on occasion.”
Buffy felt annoyance building up inside her and her smile faded away.
“And yet,” Sorkatani went on, “they love you nonetheless. And I envy this. To wonder every moment if I am doing the right thing, if I will lose their respect, if I will offend them or cause them to desert me if I allow myself to give way to my impulses, is wearying.”
Buffy’s annoyance disappeared. “Well, I just wish I could do as good a job as you do.”
“I try. But I have failed greatly. Khalid and Dynaheir are dead, and I miss them very much, and Imoen is a captive far away. My fault, I know, and I fear lest Jaheira and Minsc will realize that the blame is mine and turn from me.”
“Now you’re just being silly,” Buffy said. “You do the best you can and sometimes things go wrong. That’s just the way life is. Nobody is going to blame you.”
“That is easy for you to say,” Sorkatani said. “You have not lived since you were fifteen with the knowledge that you are the child of the god of murder.”
“When I was fifteen I found out that I was the Slayer,” Buffy told her. “One girl in all the world with the strength to face the vampires, the demons, yadda yadda. The Chosen One with a duty to protect everyone. Try living with that kind of responsibility sometime.”
Sorkatani lowered her eyes. “I am sorry. I did not realize.”
“Oh, for God’s sake stop being so damn anxious not to offend,” Buffy said. “I like you a hell of a lot more when you’re being honest about things.”
Sorkatani’s eyes widened further. “Then you know?”
“I told a lie.” Sorkatani’s voice lowered as she spoke as if she was revealing a deep dark secret.
“A lie?” Buffy frowned. Was this something important?
“I misquoted the prophecy,” Sorkatani revealed. “Deliberately.”
“Can I say, huh?”
“The Prophecies of Alaundo talk of the Children of Bhaal and say ‘Chaos will be sown in their passage’. There are monks at Candlekeep who recite the Prophecies every day and I know every word. Yet when Galvarey was questioning me I pretended that the Prophecies spoke of only one child and went ‘Chaos will be sown in his passage. I was feeling very nervous, for his questioning was hostile, and I sought to deceive him to protect myself.”
“Oh, Sorkatani, come on,” Buffy said, shaking her head. “As lies go that’s not even Little League. It’s about on the same scale as Dawn pretending that she hasn’t been borrowing my clothes without asking. Lighten up. Didn’t you ever, like, cut class or anything?”
“You know. Say you were sick to get out of lessons and really go shopping or, well, I guess you didn’t have a mall or anything in that Candlekeep place, but, hang out with your friends, go fishing, whatever.”
“Imoen would do that,” Sorkatani said. “I did not. Gorion would have been disappointed in me.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Get a life. Compared to you Willow back in High School was the Rebel Without A Cause. Didn’t you go dancing or anything? Ever have boyfriends?”
“Durlyle kissed me once,” Sorkatani revealed. “That is all.” She sighed again. “Another reason for me to be jealous of you. I would like to have a man who would dance with me. Hold me in his arms. Kiss me. And perhaps do,” she lowered her eyes, “other things. I have read books about the relations between men and women, in which they are described as greatly pleasurable, and I hear Xander and Anya and it seems that what they do brings Anya great joy.”
“And she makes sure that everybody knows about it. Hey, don’t go jumping into bed with some guy just to get that feeling,” Buffy cautioned Sorkatani. “I’ve been there, done that, and that way lies badness.”
Sorkatani nodded. “I know. But to have a man who loves me…”
“It’s nice, yeah.” Buffy settled herself down deeper in the chair. “There are still a lot of things that can go wrong. Remind me to tell you about Riley some time, and Angel, well, let’s not even go there. But I guess you can’t get anything if you don’t take any risks.”
“It matters not for the moment,” Sorkatani said. “There is no man who has any interest in me anyway. Unlike you. Two men vie for your affections. Another reason why I have felt jealousy towards you.”
“I’m guessing it’s not Anomen you’re thinking about,” Buffy said, “although I don’t get why you guys all have such a down on him. But hey, if you’re interested in Spike, don’t let me stop you.”
“I do not want either of your men,” Sorkatani assured her. She tilted her head back, narrowed her eyes, and smiled. “Although if I did it would be Spike. I admit that I recognize that he is attractive and there was a time when, had he paid court to me, I would not have been unreceptive. It did not arise.”
“It sounds like you have somebody else in mind,” Buffy deduced. “It could be Hendak, I guess, but I’m betting on Yoshimo.”
Sorkatani’s blush answered for her without the need for words.
“So what’s the problem?” Buffy leaned towards the other girl. “If ever I saw a guy who worships the ground a girl walks on, it’s Yoshimo with you.”
“He says nothing to show it,” Sorkatani complained. “I could be a sister to him. He treats me in the same way as does Spike, or Minsc.”
“Yeah, well, when a guy steps in front of a dragon’s breath for you, I kinda think it means he’s plenty interested. Trust me on this. I’m not saying that Spike or Minsc wouldn’t have done the same thing, but Spike’s kinda weird that way, he’d have done it for Dawn and no way does he want to boink her – eww – and Minsc’s just, well, Minsc. If you let Yoshimo know you’re interested you’ll be getting snugglies in no time.”
“You really think so?” Sorkatani unclasped her hands from her knees and slid her legs forward until she was in a normal sitting position. “I would welcome ‘snugglies’. I have had little chance to live a normal life. It would be nice to have some fun for a change.”
“Yeah, I guess being brought up in a library by monks, maybe not so big with the whole fun factor, and then there’s the people trying to kill you all the time thing,” Buffy commiserated. “But hey, I had the constant death threats thing too, and I crammed in a fair piece of fun along the way. Although I missed out on the library and monks part. Hey, girls just wanna have fun, right?”
“I do. I yearn to wear a dress instead of armor, to wear a necklace because it is pretty and not because it carries wards against spells, and for someone to bring me chocolate.” Her hands began to wave in the air as she became more animated. “Sometimes I feel like telling Viconia to sod off when she fusses, and it is only because I worry lest I offend her that I do not.”
Buffy grinned at Sorkatani’s choice of epithet, undoubtedly absorbed through association with Spike. “Hey, Jaheira calls Viconia every name there is, and I totally thought they hated each other, but they’re about as good friends as it gets. I think you could throw a ‘sod off’ at her once in a while. The dress thing, well, with people trying to kill you all the time armor is definitely of the good, but you could wear a dress around here. We so have to go shopping together. Willow just doesn’t have the touch and Anya’s all with the saving money first and style comes second. I’m the champ.”
“I would like that,” Sorkatani said. Her hands sank back into her lap and she sighed. “If we have time. Always there is some new task that I must carry out. How long will it take us to have Nalia released from custody?” She pursed her lips. “I don’t even like Nalia. And yet I cannot let her down.”
“Anya seems to think that getting Nalia out won’t take too long,” Buffy reassured her. “And then, hey, we can hit the mall. Waukeen’s Promenade, anyway.”
“I had a dream last night,” Buffy began.
Giles put his hand to his glasses. “A Slayer dream, I presume, as you wanted to discuss it in private. That’s interesting. If I am not mistaken it is your first Slayer dream since we found ourselves in this world.”
“Yeah. Like maybe they took time to catch up with me,” Buffy said. “I could have done without it.”
Giles pulled off his glasses and held them by one arm. “It carried, then, dire portents?”
Buffy cocked her head to one side. “I can’t work out if you’ve gone native with the talky or if it’s just that your British speak fits right in. You know, I was talking with Sorkatani last night, having some, you know, girl talk, which same made me get to liking her a lot more than I had done, and, where was I going with this?”
“I shudder to think,” Giles commented.
“Oh, yeah. Sorkatani said ‘me and magic? So not mixy things’ and I just cracked up, you know? We’re kinda infecting her. And I think you might be going the other way.”
“Yes, quite. Your dream, Buffy?”
“Right. The dream.” Buffy flopped down into a chair and gripped hold of the arms. “It was about Sorkatani, pretty much. I mean, we were all there, or I think we were, I didn’t exactly do a head count. You were there, and Willow, that’s for sure. And hey, Imoen was there, at least I’m pretty sure it was her, and that’s of the good ‘cause rescuing her is definitely on the agenda, right? There was something struck me as pretty weird. None of us were wearing any armor and I don’t think we had any weapons.”
Giles raised his eyebrows. “That’s rather worrying.”
“Yeah. None of us seemed to be hurt, but it wasn’t right. And something bad had happened to Sorkatani. She was kinda zonked out, you know? Her eyes were all wide and stare-y but it kinda seemed that she couldn’t see anything. And everybody was all fussing around her and it was like she just wasn’t reacting. And I heard Willow say ‘I think she’s gone all catatonic. The way you did when Glory took Dawn, Buffy. And hey, with what’s happened, I’m kinda not surprised.’ And Spike was saying ‘But you can fix it, right, Red? Like you fixed Buffy?’ and then everybody kinda looked at Willow.”
“Ominous,” Giles remarked. He took out a piece of cloth, made as if to begin cleaning the lenses of his glasses, and then looked down at what he was doing, frowned, and put the cloth away again.
“Willow wasn’t looking too confident,” Buffy went on. “She was saying things about magic not quite working the same way here, and it wasn’t that simple. Which didn’t go down well with Viconia, I can tell you. So then you started to sing a song. It went ‘Don’t give up, you got friends, don’t give up, you’re not beaten yet,’ or something like.”
“Don’t give up, ‘cos you have friends, don’t give up, you’re not beaten yet, don’t give up, I know you can make it good,” Giles sang.
“That’s it,” Buffy confirmed.
“And did it work?” Giles took out the cloth again. This time he went through with the action and began to polish his lenses.
“I don’t know. That was pretty much the end of the dream. Any idea what it means?”
“I was just about to ask you the same question. A warning, no doubt, but of what?”
“Well, I’m thinking not getting caught without armor and weapons is a good start. Always have somebody on guard even if we think that we’re in a safe place.”
“Eminently sensible,” Giles agreed. “I deduce that in the dream Sorkatani had received some traumatic shock akin to what you experienced when Glory abducted Dawn. Were any of us missing?”
“Like I said, I didn’t exactly do a head count,” Buffy replied. “I didn’t notice Dawn in the dream, or Minsc come to that, or Jaheira.”
Giles went rigid.
“I think Jaheira must have been okay,” Buffy hastened to assure him, “’cause it was only Sorkatani that seemed to have been hit real hard. I mean, we were all looking pretty shook up, but it was definitely like it was Sorkatani who we were most worried about. My guess is that something had happened to Yoshimo.”
“Yoshimo? Is there something between them, then?”
“I said we had some girl talk last night. It came out that there isn’t, but Sorkatani would really like there to be.” Buffy leaned forward in her chair. “If something terminally bad happened to him it would break her up, yeah. I’m voting that we don’t let it happen.”
“Prophecies, even Slayer dreams, are open to misinterpretation,” Giles mused, “but I am inclined to agree with you in this case. Do you have any suggestions as to what we should do to prepare ourselves?”
“Well, like I said, Imoen was in the dream, so maybe there’s no need to press the panic buttons until after we get her back,” Buffy said. “I’m gonna make sure I watch Yoshimo’s back. And we make sure that he has plenty in the way of armor, magic rings, that sort of stuff. Maybe a better sword. Give him the best chance we can.”
“I concur. Not that we wouldn’t have done so in any event, of course.” Giles replaced his glasses. “As an insurance against a worst case scenario I will consider what songs might be of most use in helping someone to recover from a, shall we say, tragic loss. Was there anything else about the dream that may have been in any way significant?”
Buffy shook her head. “That’s about it. I didn’t recognize the place. None of us were wounded. I can’t think of anything more. Sorry.”
“If you have any more dreams,” Giles began.
“Yeah, sure, I’ll tell you right away,” Buffy assured him. She stood up. “I’m gonna get back in there and get some breakfast. Riding on an empty stomach, so not my thing.” She grinned. “I prefer riding on a horse.”
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. Song lyrics quoted are from ‘Don’t Give Up’ by Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush.