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Tabula Avatar Chapter 40

I recently put ‘The Cloak of Mist’ up on the new archive Daughters of Sineya, which is a place for Slayer-centred fic including original character Slayers. I had a look at the rest of the stories there, of course, and discovered a writer new to me; ‘Morosthenes’ (also known as Sam Perlo-Freeman) who has written some extremely good historical Slayer stories. One of them is even about a Border Reiver Slayer! Well worth checking out if your interests extend beyond the canon Buffyverse characters. But he doesn’t reply to reviews.

Chapter Nine of Access All Areas, the Spike/Dawn story that I'm co-writing with curiouswombat, went up yesterday.

I have spent several hours over the past couple of days trying to make an icon depicting Dawn in her Shadow Dragon armour from ‘Tabula Avatar’. Just when I had achieved something that I felt wouldn’t look too dreadful, at least not when scaled down to 100 x 100 pixels, the program crashed and I lost everything. Manipping just isn’t one of my skills. I have had to simply concentrate on the writing, which is much more in my line, and so here is the next chapter of ‘Tabula Avatar’. 5,330 words, rating R. Previous chapters are HERE.

Summary: AU from some point during Tabula Rasa, when the crystal doesn’t get broken, but instead falls into the hands of The Trio who insert the trapped memories into the computer game ‘Baldur’s Gate 2: Shadows of Amn’. Events bearing some similarities to those in kallysten and kantayra’s excellent story Tabula Rasa Ad Aeternum took place off-screen during the earlier chapters of this story.

Tabula Avatar

Chapter Forty

The vampire was fast, skillful, and strong. Under normal circumstances that wouldn’t have been too much of a problem; Buffy was faster, stronger, and at least as skilled. She would destroy it eventually, she knew, but it would take time. And time was something that they didn’t have. The relentless magical assault from the Beholder was tearing them apart, hurting them badly, and stripping away their armor of magical protections. Once those were gone they would be defenseless against Shangalar the lich’s devastating arsenal of spells and their doom was inevitable.

Buffy slashed with the Blade of Roses and drove the vampire back a few steps. She took advantage of the brief respite to cast a quick glance around the chamber.

Willow wasn’t invisible any more; a blast from the Beholder’s Anti-Magic Ray had dispelled her Improved Invisibility. Now she was using the lich as a shield, sheltering behind that deadly enemy and repeatedly striking it with her highly enchanted Staff of Rynn, protected from retaliation by Protection From Undead and some carefully chosen Spell Immunities. If the Beholder got through to her again, and dispelled her remaining protections, she would be dead in seconds.

Xander and Anya were working together to neutralize the invisible member of the opposition. A female wizard, or a sorcereress or whatever, and at least as powerful as Willow, judging by the spells that had rained down upon the Scoobies in the first moments of the fight. Every time she unleashed an offensive spell she became visible but disappeared again almost immediately. A Ring of Invisibility, perhaps, although the ring that Yoshimo wore could be used only once a day and Sorkatani had led Buffy to believe that this was the norm for such rings in Faerûn. Between the invisibility, and spell wards that had shielded her from Willow’s retaliatory strikes, the sorceress was almost immune to anything that they could throw at her.

The best that Xander and Anya had been able to do was to keep her fully occupied in evading them and unable to launch any new attacks. Then the unarmored human swordsman, the least dangerous in appearance of the enemy, had disrupted their efforts by attacking and badly wounding Xander. Now Xander was fully occupied in defending himself and Anya was unable to keep up the pressure on the wizardess. She had managed to gain a breathing space and Buffy could hear the woman chanting an incantation as she prepared to unleash another magical strike.

Anomen, who had been frantically casting protective spells upon himself and on every other member of the party that he could reach, gave up his efforts. Most of them had been ruined by the Beholder anyway. He was the only member of the whole group who could see the wizardess in her invisible state, thanks to a True Seeing spell, and he charged towards her with his mace raised to strike.

He didn’t make it. As Anomen moved into an open space the Beholder rotated one of its eye stalks and took aim. A beam of light flashed. Anomen stopped dead in his tracks. His armor, his clothes, his skin and his hair changed color. Everything was a uniform shade of gray. The Beholder had turned him to stone.

- - - - -

Sir Keldorn’s brow furrowed as he stared at Dawn. “Interfere not, girl,” he commanded. “You cannot shield the drow from my righteous fury.”

“Righteous my ass,” Dawn snorted. “You are so gonna be in a world of hurt when Spike gets here. Or Sorkatani, or Jaheira, or Minsc.” She strode forward to interpose herself between the paladin and the badly wounded Viconia.

Keldorn continued to frown. Who was this girl? Her armor and weaponry indicated that she was a thief, perhaps one of the Shadow Thieves who controlled Amn’s underworld, but her manner was not that of a street urchin. Rather did she act as if she were a lady, accustomed to privilege and command, and her fine bone structure and the glossy sheen of her well-brushed long hair reinforced that impression. Yet noble birth was no guarantee of noble deeds, he knew full well, and his hesitation was only momentary. “Stand aside, child,” he warned her, “or feel the edge of my sword.”

Dawn looked at the huge two-handed greatsword and she swallowed hard. It was a scary sword, way too heavy for her to have lifted, and so this guy was at least as strong as Xander; they’d taken her Girdle of Hill Giant Strength away from her after the incident in which she’d run amok and attacked everybody in the Mind Flayer lair, although hey, totally not her fault, and her nerve faltered for a moment. Then her chin lifted and she raised her slender two foot long blade. Her left hand went to her belt and drew a dagger. “Okay, you big bully,” she challenged. “Bring it on.”

“No, Dawn, do not risk yourself,” Viconia gasped out. She stumbled forward on shaky legs. “He is a fool, indeed, but a formidable one. Run for one of the others. I can hold him off for a little longer.”

“I’m not gonna let him hurt you any more, abbil,” Dawn told her. “Hey, it was Spike who taught me how to fight. And Buffy, once she stopped thinking of me as a little kid. You think I can’t kick this guy’s fat ass?”

“He is dangerous, dalninil,” Viconia warned her. “Put not yourself at risk for me.”

Keldorn’s frown grew deeper. He took one hand away from the hilt of his sword and stroked his beard. The evil drow woman was showing concern for the welfare of another even to the point of being willing to fight on, alone and badly injured, rather than let her young ally defend her. He remembered that the decisive point of the fight, the blow to the drow’s ankle from which she had never entirely recovered and that had enabled Keldorn to keep the upper hand from then onwards, had resulted from her acting to protect one of the locals who had intervened on her behalf. The man’s actions in seeking to save the drow could be explained as the result of an evil enchantment clouding his mind; there was no such easy explanation for the act of self-sacrifice from the evil drow.

Could he be wrong? Impossible. She had stated openly that she was a priestess of Shar, the dark goddess who was patron to those most evil of magicians who used the Shadow Weave, and no priestess would ever lay claim to a deity not her own. Evil, indeed, and as an Inquisitor of the Order it was his duty to strike down such agents of dark magic. And those who would shield them from justice. It didn’t even cross his mind to use his paladin ability to detect evil. He took a two-handed grip upon his sword again and advanced.

Dawn ducked under Keldorn’s first swing. She thrust with her shortsword, aiming for the joints of the armor covering Keldorn’s legs, and struck home on hardened leather rather than steel. The point sunk in only for half an inch but it drew blood and caused Keldorn to grunt in pain. The yelp uttered by Dawn, as she felt the sting of the magical backlash from Hallowed Redeemer, was far louder.

Keldorn kicked out at Dawn and forced her to retreat. He struck again, this time bringing the blade across in a low slash at her legs, and she jumped over it. Once inside the arc of its swing she aimed a cut at Keldorn’s arm with her sword and stabbed with her dagger at his armpit. It was a good move, well thought out and delivered with speed and accuracy, but Keldorn was a veteran of hundreds of fights. He half turned, so that the dagger skidded on steel instead of finding flesh, and struck with the pommel of his sword at Dawn’s face. He connected with her jaw. She staggered backwards, stumbled, and fell to the ground. Keldorn raised his sword to strike again.

- - - - -

Anya flailed wildly with her sword. She connected by sheer blind luck, there was a sound like an axe hitting a log, and the weapon jerked in her hand. She grabbed at empty air with her other hand, took hold of something solid, and pulled. The sword dropped to the ground as Anya released it and brought her right hand up to join the left in tugging at whatever it was that she had caught. A tug-of-war began, Anya being the only visible part of the struggle, and it looked eerily as if she was engaged in a mime act.

Xander had backed away for a short distance to heal himself. The swordsman left him to it and turned towards Anya. Xander raised Carsomyr, his Holy Sword, and moved to intercept.

Buffy bared her teeth. There was no time to think about Anomen, if his petrifaction was reversible or if it meant that he was gone forever, and what it meant to her if he was. At this moment only survival mattered. “Xander!” she yelled. “Take out the eyeball or we’re all dead! You’re the only one who can do it.”

Xander hesitated, torn between the logic of her words and the immediate threat to Anya, and Buffy acted to resolve his dilemma. She threw the Blade of Roses, as she had done against a vampire in the mausoleum below the Graveyard District, and hit the swordsman in the middle of his back. He toppled forwards and fell flat on his face. Xander grinned and charged towards the Beholder.

Buffy drew in a deep breath and turned back to face her vampire opponent. Too late. The ancient vampire seized its opportunity and raced in to the attack. He grabbed her left forearm and right shoulder, opened his mouth wide, and plunged his fangs into her throat.

- - - - -

Haer’Dalis looked at Dawn and his eyes widened. He licked his lips. “Such grace,” he muttered under his breath. “Oh, to have those slender legs wrapped around my waist!” He had been hardly aware of her before this, regarding her as just a kid hanging round the fringes of Sorkatani’s and Buffy’s party, but now he saw her as a beautiful girl just ripening into womanhood. He imagined the rosy buds of her nipples, the virgin cleft between her long legs, the way she would gasp and cry out in surprise and pleasure as he entered her, and he felt himself growing hard. It would be a delightful experience, and, when he grew tired of her and moved on to pastures new, it would serve as a sweet revenge upon the group who had stolen away his position as Amn’s pre-eminent bard.

He saw Keldorn land a blow to the girl’s jaw and send her crashing to the ground. He winced. It seemed that his plan was doomed even before it was fully formulated. Then the drow woman, crippled and bleeding as she was, hurled herself back into the fray. She struck the paladin twice before falling to her knees. Dawn rolled away, scrambled to her feet, and rushed in again. She kicked the knight behind one knee and stabbed at his kidney region. Her sword failed to penetrate his plate armor but she put him off balance and forced him to turn away from the drow.

Haer’Dalis frowned slightly. Others of the party would inevitably be arriving soon. He doubted now if Sir Keldorn would be able to slay the drow before overwhelming opposition made the task impossible. He considered intervening himself, slipping forward and slitting her throat as she was helpless, but rejected the idea. The thought of being caught in the act by Sorkatani, and then being sliced into small pieces with Celestial Fury, brought a cold shiver to his spine and made his burgeoning erection shrink into itself and curl up. Then a smile came to his lips as an alternative plan presented itself.

“Hold, sir knight,” Haer’Dalis cried, and stepped out from the watching crowd. “Wouldst thou slay the fairest maid in all of Amn for no crime save that of loyalty to a friend?” He slid his matched pair of shortswords from their scabbards. He had no intention of really engaging in a duel against the knight, who was much too formidable an opponent for his taste, but he had to appear willing if he were to gain credit in Dawn’s eyes. It would be an ideal first step in his campaign of seduction.

“Fairest maid in all of Amn?” Dawn echoed. “Me?”

Keldorn took a step back and to one side. “Are all here mad?” he exclaimed. His eyes focused on the tiefling’s pointed ears and blue hair. “Hah! You are no elf, but rather a demonspawn, a fiend from the pits. It is a conspiracy of evil.” He raised his sword into position for a strike at Haer’Dalis.

“Oh crap,” Haer’Dalis groaned. His attempt to divert the paladin had been all too successful. He prepared to defend himself. Perhaps Dawn would return the favor by attacking Keldorn from the rear? No, she was now tending to the wounded drow. He was on his own, at least for the moment; exactly what he had not desired.

A noise from the crowd reached his ears. Not the chatter of idle bystanders, or shouts of abuse directed at Keldorn, both of which sounds had been a constant since the fight began. This was a new sound made up of cries of alarm, the rush of feet taking hasty evasive action, and even an occasional scream of terror. Something was approaching fast and causing the mob to scamper aside to clear a path.

The frantic parting of the ranks reached the border of the combat zone. Through the gap dashed out a leopard. Its mouth opened wide in a snarl, revealing an array of deadly fangs, and it uttered a short coughing roar of challenge. Keldorn spun around and aimed the point of his sword at the beast. He had little to fear from its claws, clad as he was in full armor, but knights had perished in combat against such beasts in the past. Claws and teeth could sever the leather straps that held the metal plates in place, leaving the flesh beneath vulnerable to raking and disemboweling, and there was no room for complacency.

Haer’Dalis was more observant. He noticed that Dawn and the drow were taking no such precautions against the beast, despite the blood that besmeared the drow’s skin and armor and that would have been an irresistible lure to any predator, and he saw smiles appearing on their lips. It was no great feat to deduce what the leopard, or rather leopardess, really was. He sheathed his swords.

The leopardess reared up on its hind legs. Its body seemed to twist and distort. Then it was gone and in its place stood a woman. An elf, or rather a half elf, for her ears were a touch less pointed and her body not quite as slim as that of a true elf. She wore armor of alternating red and black dragon scales, a twin to the suit that was worn by the drow, and bore a lightweight shield strapped to one arm and a six-foot spear in her other hand. Haer’Dalis sighed. He had hoped that the transformation would leave Jaheira naked.

- - - - -

A vampire bite could be pleasurable, even erotic, and Buffy had felt ecstasy as well as pain at the fangs of the Master, of Angel, and of Dracula. The bite she had suffered in the Mulhorandi crypt had been a mere scratch and had hardly registered on her. This was different. There was no pleasure from the vampire’s urgent assault, only searing agony as his fangs tore at her, and she screamed. Then she thrust with Daystar and drove it up under his ribs and found the heart.

Now it was the vampire’s turn to cry out. The blade was heavily enchanted and dedicated to Lathander, god of the Dawn and deadly foe to the Undead, and with Buffy’s tremendous strength behind the thrust it brought untold agony to the vampire. Yet he did not relinquish his hold, for never had he tasted blood so rich and so sweet, and he knew that its power would quickly heal his dreadful wound if he continued to drink.

Buffy twisted the sword in the wound. “Say goodbye,” she croaked out, and activated Daystar’s most deadly ability. Sunray. A burst of magical sunshine that burned vampires almost as if it was the real thing. Not powerful enough to dust a vampire outright, not if he were of more than fledging status, or at least not in normal circumstances. Detonating inside his body multiplied its lethality many times over.

Long ago, during her Cruciamentum trial, she had tricked the psychotic vampire Kralik into drinking Holy Water. His destruction had been spectacular and complete. This eclipsed it. The vampire lit up from the inside, making his skeleton briefly visible through skin and flesh, and then burst into flame. Buffy kicked the burning body away from her before it could do her any harm, other than a few blisters, and saw it disintegrate completely. There was no cloud of white vapor this time; it was utterly destroyed.

- - - - -

“Take off that armor, false knight,” Jaheira commanded. “You dishonor it.”

“Like Xander’s gonna be impressed when he finds out what kind of assholes are in this outfit that he’s joined,” Dawn added. “Not.”

Keldorn’s eyes opened almost impossibly wide and his eyebrows ascended almost to his hairline. “Has the whole world gone mad?”

“Yeah, ‘cause that makes so much more sense than you being the one out of line,” said Dawn. She helped Viconia rise to her feet.

Jaheira joined them and laid a healing hand upon her friend. “You should be more careful, abbil,” she scolded. “How did you not have sufficient healing of your own for this eventuality?”

“I did not change my spells after we fought the lich,” Viconia explained. “Too many are protections against the Undead and wards against fell magic, not appropriate for this fight, although what I had would have served had I not encountered a foe who could dispel magic. He pressed me hard and gave me little chance to heal myself.” She bent to retrieve the Flail of Ages from the cobbles. “He came close to slaying me, abbil. Perhaps he would have done so were it not for these riv – these townspeople who aided me. Heal any who need it, Jaheira, for I have not a single spell of healing remaining.”

“I shall, abbil,” Jaheira assured her. She fixed a cold stare on Keldorn. “Had she died,” she growled, “you would have followed her most assuredly.”

“Sir Keldorn Firecam,” a new voice put in, “I arrest you for public affray and assault upon an officer of the law.”

Keldorn turned his head and saw two guardsmen. One was the one that he had punched unconscious earlier. A bruise from the blow was visible on the man’s jaw. “I sought only to protect the city from evil,” Keldorn protested. “It is my duty. And you cannot arrest me for affray without arresting the drow also.”

“Lady Viconia didn’t belt me one on the chin,” the bruised guardsman pointed out. “T’wasn’t her that started the fight, neither.” He turned to Viconia. “You all right, ma’am?”

“I…” Viconia began, and then she faltered, lowered her eyes, and took a deep breath. “Thank you,” she said. “I am unaccustomed to your courtesies. Among my people there is no such thing as kindness, or justice, or unselfishness. We say ‘all trust is foolish’, and ‘trust no one but yourself’. You, and many other people here, stood up for me, even at the risk of your lives. I do not know how to thank you.”

“Why, that was a right fair speech, ma’am,” said the guardsman. “T’was my pleasure to be of service.”

“And I want to thank you, my lady,” spoke up the peasant who had performed a creditable rugby tackle on Keldorn and had nearly died for his pains. “Saved my life, you did.”

“You risked it for me,” said Viconia. “I could do no less.”

“I do not understand,” Keldorn said slowly. “Fair words and, in truth, fair actions. And yet she is evil.”

“Is she?” a new voice put in. Tara stepped into view. Her hair was disheveled, there was sweat on her brow, and she was breathing hard. Beside her was the towering form of Minsc, his usual amiable smile nowhere in evidence, a hostile glower aimed at Keldorn in its place. “Just what the fuck gives you that idea?” Tara went on. “Other than the color of her skin.”

“I see evil here, yes,” Minsc boomed out, “and it wears the armor of a paladin. I am confused, Boo. I cannot smite him, for the fight is over, but I cannot let him go unpunished. What should I do?”

Keldorn shook his head. “I acted only in the cause of justice and the security of Amn,” he said. His brow furrowed with concentration as he at long last used his holy power of divination. “She is… not evil!”

Viconia winced. “Flaunt my shame in front of all, then, as if you have not done damage enough already.”

Keldorn took no notice of her incomprehensible words. “By the gauntlet of Torm,” he said in a hollow voice, “What have I done?”

“You can explain yourself to your Prelate,” the unbruised guardsman said. “Or to Magistrate Brylanna. Put down your sword.”

Keldorn obeyed. “I have done a great wrong,” he admitted. “I crave your pardon, lady.”

Viconia did not answer. She picked up the ruin of her hat from the cobbles and stared at it. “I sought only to buy a present for Giles,” she said, and suddenly burst into tears. Jaheira wrapped her arms around her friend and held her as she wept.

- - - - -

Buffy gauged the position of the woman wizard by that of Anya and lashed out with Daystar. A spray of blood droplets spattered across the chamber floor, Anya tugged hard, and suddenly Anya was holding a wizard’s staff and a robed woman was plainly visible in front of her. The woman clutched one hand to a bloody gash in her side just below her breasts. Her other hand went to her belt and drew forth a wand. Buffy hesitated for a mere fraction of a second before striking again. The woman’s head flew from her shoulders.

Xander drove Carsomyr deep into the huge central eye of the Beholder. The levitating creature fell to the ground and its lesser eye-stalks went limp. Xander pulled the sword free and turned his attention to the lich.

Buffy retrieved the Blade of Roses from the corpse of the swordsman and raised both her swords high. She fixed her eyes upon Shangalar. “Four down, one to go,” she said, and took a step in that direction. It didn’t occur to her that they had not used the rare and precious Protection From Magic scroll before entering the supposed lich’s lair, as Willow had wanted it kept in reserve for the forthcoming confrontation with the super-lich Kangaxx, or that the Beholder had stripped away many of their other wards.

Shangalar’s grim head, grey skin stretched tight over a bare skull, turned and his gaze locked upon Buffy. He rocked under an impact as Willow smote him a heavy blow with her staff, her strength multiplied several times over by the Girdle of Hill Giant Strength that she was wearing, but the lich managed to maintain his concentration this time. The words of an incantation came from his lips, or rather from where he would have had lips in life, and four shimmering barred gates appeared around Buffy and slammed shut. She uttered a gasp of surprise and shock and then vanished.

Something approximating to a triumphant smile appeared on Shangalar’s bony face. He began another incantation, to open a gate that would summon forth a Pit Fiend to fight on his behalf but Xander smote him with Carsomyr before the spell was completed and ruined it. The angle of Shangalar’s jaw changed subtly and the smile became a grimace of frustration.

Anya took out a scroll of Protection From Undead from her pack, recited the words, and then joined the other two in beating on the lich. Her sword lacked the necessary enchantments to harm the creature and so she tried to use the staff that she had acquired. It did nothing. She was certain that it was highly enchanted but in her hands it might as well have been a normal piece of wood.

“What happened to Buffy?” Xander gasped out, in between sword blows. “Can we get her back?”

“It was a Maze spell,” Willow informed him. She struck the lich hard on the skull and sent a chip of bone flying. “She’ll… come back in… a few minutes.”

“Not Imprisonment, then,” Anya said. “Good. That’s much worse.”

“Have to… know the victim’s name… to do Imprisonment,” Willow panted.

“Oh crap,” Xander grunted. “He knows it now.”

“Don’t think… that’s gonna matter,” Willow said. Shangalar’s chest had caved in under one of Xander’s blows and pieces of rib clattered to the floor. “Another… few seconds… and this guy is toast.”

“From the plane of fire,” Shangalar intoned, “Efreet, I summon…”

Anya pulled Azuredge from Xander’s belt, grasped the weapon in both hands, and smashed it down on the top of the lich’s head. The skull shattered. The rest of the withered body crumbled into dust and an empty robe collapsed to the floor with a surprisingly loud ‘thud’ and a distinct note of metallic clinking. “And that’s that,” Anya declared gleefully. “Now we loot the bodies.”

- - - - -

Buffy ran her hands over Anomen’s stone face. “You can get him back, right, Willow?”

“Not right now,” Willow replied. “I don’t have Stone To Flesh prepared. Tomorrow, sure, no problem. Or we can, like, take him to a temple. They can unstone him.”

“At a price,” Anya commented. “You don’t need him for anything tonight, do you, Buffy?”

Buffy’s eyebrows descended low enough to require a helium-oxygen mixture in their breathing tanks. “I’m not boinking him, if that’s what you mean, Anya. But hey, I don’t want to leave him like this. It can’t be fun.”

“Viconia put up with it for seventy years,” Willow informed her. “I think we can let Anomen play statues for one night. And, hey, it’s not gonna be easy getting him to a temple.”

Buffy grabbed the statue around the waist and lifted it from the floor. “You were saying?”

“I’ve found out how to open the portal back to where we came from,” Anya announced. “Are we ready to go?”

“Hang on a second,” Willow said. “Amin on’sinta, olvann’oline. Wow. Oh, this is so cool.”

Buffy lowered Anomen to the ground. “What is it?”

“This staff,” Willow said. “It’s the Staff of the Magi.”

“Magi?” Buffy’s forehead creased. “Like, the Three Wise Men? I thought they didn’t have Christmas in this world.”

“Magi like in more than one mage,” Willow clarified. “Or, more like Supermage. This is one major league cool item, Buffy. Like, built in Protection From Evil, Spell Trap, and all you have to do to become invisible is to pass it from one hand to the other. As many times as you like.”

“I saw her doing that,” Anya said. “That’s why I grabbed for it.”

“That was a really smart move,” Willow praised. “It might have saved all of us, ‘cause hey, she was pretty much untouchable with it, and she had some serious shit to throw at us if she’d gotten the chance.”

“That’s my girl,” Xander grinned. “Not just a pretty face.”

Buffy uncorked a bottle of healing potion and drained it. “Why can’t this stuff taste like Gatorade?” she complained. “Hey, I think we did pretty good, guys. We’re not in too bad shape, apart from Anomen, and we picked up some good stuff. Let’s go home. We’ll come back tomorrow and next time we’ll go through the right door.”

- - - - -

Viconia slipped between the covers and lay next to Spike. “Doubtless you will want to slake your lusts,” she said. “Do so, then, and hurry up so that I can sleep.”

Spike raised his eyebrows. “’S no fun if you’re not in the mood, mrimm d'ssinss. Wouldn’t say no to a cuddle, yeah, but if you want to go to sleep that’s fine by me.”

Viconia turned to face him. “Has your desire for me then faded?”

“Never gonna happen, pet, but if you’re not into it there isn’t any point. Not surprising if you’re not up for it after the day you had.”

“True,” said Viconia. “It was distressing. And yet – there were things about it that were… pleasing. I am popular with the rivvin of this city, it seems, and several of them were willing to fight for me. They took my part against one of their own knights.”

“Well, yeah,” Spike said. “You’re a bit of all right, love. Anyone with half a brain would choose you over some git in a tin can.” He put his arm around her shoulders and she snuggled into him.

“I felt… gratitude,” Viconia admitted. “And pride. Yet such feelings are distressing in themselves. They are inappropriate for a priestess of Shar. I can no longer desire to spread destruction and despair throughout Faerûn. My goddess will be displeased with me and I will lose her favor.”

“’S not something I can really help you with,” Spike said. “You can’t just swap over to another one, can you, the way you dumped the drow goddess for Shar?”

“It would be… unwise,” Viconia told him. “Even if Shar did not wreak vengeance upon me herself, or leave me open to the wrath of… she who I will not name, such inconstancy would risk me being deemed Faithless by the Judge of the Dead. If I died in that state Kelemvor would condemn me to the Wall. Better an eternity of torment than that bleak fate.” She put a hand upon his chest and idly stroked it. “I shall never serve as a priestess to any other deity than Shar. She gave me the strength to survive when I was at my lowest point and she shall always have my gratitude for that. Yet in truth I have been but a poor servant to her. I do not follow her precepts as I should.”

Spike had no idea how to reply and contented himself with stroking her hair.

“Perhaps, one day,” Viconia mused, “I might do some great deed in Shar’s name, or win a mighty convert to her cause. Then, if I have gained enough favor in her eyes, she might be willing to let me… retire.”

“Retire? What, and be a housewife?”

“I think not,” said Viconia. “My last such venture did not end well, as you know. No, I shall adventure with Sorkatani and the others for as long as they desire my company. But perhaps I could find a role other than that of priestess. A bard, under the tutelage of Giles?”

“Don’t see why not,” said Spike. “Think you could do anything you set your mind to.” He kissed her gently upon the forehead.

“You are good to me, mrann d'ssinss,” Viconia said. Her hand moved down his body and fondled his cock. It came erect immediately. “Bwael v’dri, ussta ‘che Spike.” She rested her head against his shoulder and closed her eyes.

“Night, love,” Spike said. He held her until her breathing rate changed as she fell asleep. “Not that I’m going to sleep well,” he muttered then. “Not with this hard-on. Hope you’ll be up for a shag in the morning.”


Glossary of Drow Phrases

• ‘dalninil’ = ‘sister’
• ‘mrimm d'ssinss’ = ‘lover (female)’
• ‘mrann d'ssinss’ = ‘lover (male)’
• ‘Bwael v’dri’ = literally ‘Good sleep’, meaning ‘sleep well’.
• ‘ussta ‘che’ = ‘my beloved’

Disclaimer: 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’, what with all the changes that have taken place in the companies involved, 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, pimping, tabula_avatar
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