Speaker-to-Customers (speakr2customrs) wrote,

Tabula Avatar Chapter 44

I’m rather behind in answering comments on my last post. Sorry, I’ve been busy writing and visiting the dentist. I have teeth again now!

Here is another chapter of ‘Tabula Avatar’. 5,500 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-Four

“The Abyss,” said Buffy. “That’s where all the demons hang out, right?”

“It is indeed,” Anomen confirmed. “A realm of evil and depravity.”

“Least there’s a bright side, then,” Spike commented. He was immediately the target of several scowls. “I mean the depravity bit,” he said. “Oh, bugger, just trying to look on the bright side.”

“Humans in the Abyss will be subjected to unimaginable torments,” Anomen went on. “The fell creatures of that realm are powerful beyond all measure.”

“If they mess with me, I Slay them,” Buffy said. “Anyway, I guess we don’t have to get off this ship when it stops there. We can stay in here. I’m guessing this Sphere is pretty impregnable.”

“The Cowled Wizards found it so,” Valygar said. “Only one of the line of Lavok can open this Sphere from the outside without his consent.”

“So we should be safe in here,” Buffy said.

“Unless this Lavok’s been there before getting his end away with the demon birds,” Spike suggested. “Succubi or whatever.”

“Succubi cannot conceive with humans,” Anomen stated. “There will be no such offspring.” Sorkatani frowned, and opened her mouth as if to contradict the cleric, but then said nothing.

“I am the last living descendant of Lavok,” Valygar declared. “With me shall perish that accursed line.”

“Hey, don’t be so gloomy,” Willow said. “We’re gonna get out of here just fine.” She cast her eyes over Valygar. He was a good-looking guy, if you liked guys that is, but boy was he depressed. And depressing. Eeyore had nothing on him. “You’ll get to have a family one day.”

“I am sworn to celibacy,” Valygar replied. “There shall be no more generations of the House of Corthala when I am gone.”

“Celibacy? That is foolish, ranger, for you are a handsome man and many women would be eager to part their legs for you,” Viconia commented. “There are ways to avoid getting the woman with child.” Her expression, as much as it could be seen in the confined space, appeared to be admiring.

It was no surprise to Willow that Viconia apparently regarded Valygar as attractive. Valygar was black; as dark as, for instance, Samuel L Jackson. In a previous conversation Viconia had revealed to Willow that she had always felt closest to Dynaheir, in Sorkatani’s previous group of companions, mainly because of the Rashemen witch’s skin color. Minsc was a light coffee color but apparently Dynaheir had been almost as black as Viconia. There seemed to be little or no color prejudice between humans, at least so far as Willow had seen, in this world – as Terry Pratchett had said about the characters in his ‘Discworld’ books, black and white lived together in perfect harmony and ganged up on green – but it was a much bigger deal when it came to elves.

“Can we get a bleedin’ move on instead of standing around in this sodding corridor for bloody ages?” Spike complained. His lips formed a tight line and his eyebrows had descended low over his eyes.

“Of course, Spike,” Sorkatani said. “Open the door.”

- - - - -

The three knights were gaunt to the point of being emaciated. Their movements were slow and their hands trembled as they lifted the food to their mouths.

“I see signs of the early stages of scurvy,” Giles observed. “What little they have been eating obviously didn’t contain much Vitamin C.”

“So, out with the lime juice, then? If we had any, which we don’t,” said Xander.

“Actually, limes are much lower in Vitamin C than the other citrus fruits,” Giles replied. “The British Navy chose limes because they were grown in British colonies, unlike lemons and oranges, and not because they were the most efficacious preventative.”

“Yeah, that’s interesting, Giles, but not really the point at issue.” Buffy looked to Anomen. “Will this food that you’ve conjured up fix the scurvy thing?”

“The ailment that sailors suffer when they have been long from the land, living on dried meats? I believe so. The holy foodstuffs contain all that is necessary to sustain life.”

Xander nibbled on a piece of the bread-like substance and grimaced. “Tastes like cardboard.”

“It is nourishing but hardly pleasant,” Anomen agreed. “It will restore their strength, and in time will act to cure this ‘scurvy’, but it will be days before they are fit to fight at our side against whatever lies behind those barricaded doors. Healing spells can do little to rectify the effects of starvation.”

“I have no intention of being here for days,” Sorkatani declared.

“We might have no choice, jabbress,” Viconia reminded her. “Unless we can gain control of this device and return it to some destination at which we can disembark.”

“That is my intention,” Sorkatani said. “To Spellhold if possible. Back to Athkatla as the next best choice.”

“To Spellhold?” Yoshimo’s eyes opened very wide. “A clever idea, jabbress. We would avoid the sea voyage and arrive without warning.”

“Exactly.” Sorkatani nodded and her fingers caressed the hilt of Celestial Fury. “I hope that it is possible.”

“We can but try,” Yoshimo said. He pursed his lips and his eyes narrowed. “It would be useful to know more of what lies ahead of us. Such barriers would not impede golems and our first assumptions may have been in error. It is a shame that these knights cannot tell us what they have encountered.”

Giles nodded agreement as he listened to Minsc rumbling out an enquiry in Rashemeni that met with the same blank incomprehension as had all the previous attempts to communicate. “Perhaps we shall yet discover some mutually comprehensible tongue,” he said. As Minsc fell silent Giles took over and spoke in a language that was ancient before the pyramids were built.

“I understood that,” Sorkatani said.

“Good lord.” Giles put a finger to the bridge of his glasses. “You understand Sumerian?”

“Untheric, I would call it,” replied Sorkatani. “Yes, you asked if they were regaining their strength. I can read the language, and have heard it spoken, although I would not venture to try speaking it myself. An ancient empire, far away from here, that is no longer a great power. It is said that they came to this world from another, long ago, as did the Mulhorandi.”

“Fascinating. Absolutely fascinating. That other world must have been our Earth.”

“We shall talk more of this another time,” Sorkatani said. “For the moment we must concentrate on the task at hand.” She tried a question in the language of the Tuigan hordes of the Endless Wastes. The knights did not even seem to realize that she was addressing them. Yoshimo spoke in the dialect of Kozakura and was similarly ignored.

“There is a spell that would give me the power to converse with them. Give me an hour in which to meditate and I shall solve our problem,” Anomen offered.

Buffy shook her head. “An hour is too long. I’m thinking that being in control of this ship before we arrive in the Abyss would definitely be of the good. Especially when it comes to making the decisions about opening the door to the outside.”

“True,” Sorkatani agreed. She cocked her head and listened as Anya spoke in the Old Norse of ninth-century Sweden. “Another language of your world, I take it? I understand it not but there are sounds in it that seem familiar. I think that there must have been other contacts between our worlds in the past.”

Jaheira clicked her tongue. “We waste time, jabbress. We must move on soon. It would have been useful to be forewarned about what lies ahead but it is not to be.”

The female member of the trio of knights raised her eyes to look at Jaheira and then spoke up, somewhat hesitantly, in a language that none of the party had yet thought to try. An awkward and ungrammatical pidgin version of Elven.

- - - - -

Buffy sat on the edge of the table and swung her feet to and fro. “Okay, somebody give me the Cliff Notes version,” she pleaded. Her knowledge of the drow and elven languages was almost nil and she had understood nothing of the conversation with the knights. “What’s behind door number one?” She pointed at the steel door that had been on the left as they had entered the room.

“Cannibal hobbits,” Dawn told her. The variant of elven spoken by the knights resembled a cross between Viconia’s Ilythiiri and the Keltoran dialect of Tal’Quessir spoken by Jaheira. By now Dawn spoke Ilythiiri fluently and she had been able to follow the conversation with no more difficulty than understanding Korgan’s heavily-accented Common.

Buffy gritted her teeth. She was unaccustomed to being outdone by her sister and she hadn’t missed the touch of smug superiority in Dawn’s tone. “Cannibal hobbits,” she echoed. She glanced towards Giles. “Is that right?”

“It agrees with my own interpretation, certainly,” Giles confirmed. “Pigmies, presumably halflings or a variety of gnome, who killed and ate one of these knights’ companions during their initial attempt to explore the Sphere. Numerous, ferocious, and dangerous.”

“What about door number two?”

“Sahuagin, from their description,” Sorkatani said. “Or some similar species of fish-man, such as the kuo-toa.”

“Cannibal hobbits to the left, the Creatures from the Black Lagoon straight ahead. Check. And the door to the right?” Chairs had been piled up into barricades, presumably by the knights, to block access into the room through the two doors first mentioned. Access to the final, smaller, door was unimpeded.

“Toilets,” said Spike. “Already had a gander. Little wash-room and toilet. Taps that shut themselves off just like a modern hotel.”

“A sensible precaution in a closed environment,” Giles commented.

“A bathroom? Is there a shower?” For a moment Buffy was completely distracted from the task at hand.

“Nah, Slayer, just a washbasin,” Spike dashed her hopes.

“Bummer. Okay, back on topic. Which way should we go first?”

“Apparently the central door leads to only one chamber. It would make sense to start there,” Giles suggested.

“I’m good with that,” Buffy said. “Okay, people, let’s go fish.”

- - - - -

The sahuagin were few in number and confined to a small area with no scope for maneuver. They displayed no great strength or speed, indicating either that the species was less formidable than its reputation or that these examples were weakened by hunger, and all were dead in little over a minute. A search of the bodies and the chamber turned up nothing of use save for a minor Cloak of Protection and a few crossbow bolts tipped with a paralyzing toxin. The chamber floor was knee-deep in water and a drainage vent had been deliberately blocked. Xander cleared the vent, in case the flooded chamber interfered with some of the workings of the vessel in which they were traveling, and the water drained away. They closed the door once more and moved on.

The halfling cannibals were more of a challenge. They attacked almost at once, a howling berserk mob, outnumbering the party more than two to one. They had two spell-casters of more than average ability backing up their warriors. Their tactics were good; they met the intruders at the point where the narrow corridor widened out into a large chamber, so that several halflings at once could face Spike and Sorkatani, and no doubt they expected to overwhelm them. Jaheira had an unpleasant surprise when she sought to neutralize the halfling wizards with a spell of Insect Plague. No swarm of insects materialized. This closed environment, separated from the natural world, was no place for a druid. For a moment everything seemed in favor of the cannibal horde.

It wasn’t enough. Sorkatani killed three halflings with three sword strokes and stepped forward over their corpses. Spike rammed his blade through one of the little savages, released the sword hilt, and seized another halfling by the throat. He snatched the creature up and used it to batter the others aside. Buffy and Jaheira emerged into the open, followed a moment later by Minsc and Willow, and the halflings’ initial advantage of position was gone.

As the halflings fell, however, the spell-casters were able to unleash more deadly spells with less fear of slaying their own side. A lightning bolt crackled through the air and struck both Sorkatani and Minsc. The Perfect Warrior cried out in pain and froze in her tracks. She dropped her left-hand scimitar and it fell to the ground. A tattooed halfling warrior wielding a longsword, a human weapon no doubt looted from the knight who they had slain previously, seized the opportunity to attack. He ran in and smote her upon the right arm. She lost her grip upon Celestial Fury and it was sent flying through the air to land some yards away.

The halfling raised his sword, swinging it with ease even though it was nearly as long as he was tall, and struck again. Jaheira thrust out with her spear to intercept the blow but her weapon was swept aside and Jaheira stumbled. The sword struck home and pierced Sorkatani’s armor of dragon scales. The gleaming red acquired a darker tinge as blood gushed from the wound.

A triumphant grin appeared on the cannibal’s tattooed face as he drew back his weapon for what was intended to be a finishing blow. Sorkatani moved so quickly that she seemed almost to flicker from one position to another. Her foot blurred up and around and smashed into the halfling’s jaw. The little creature was lifted from the ground and hurled through the air. He landed on his back in front of Jaheira. She jabbed down with the Spear of the Unicorn and pinned the halfling to the ground.

Willow dropped a Cloudkill on the halfling wizards. They fled the poisonous cloud, choking and temporarily neutralized, and Willow raised a wall of fire to bar their paths. Yoshimo, Giles, Anya, and Dawn loosed arrows and crossbow bolts at the wizards as they emerged from the flames. Xander raced forward with Carsomyr held high and reached the diminutive mages before they could recover.

Anomen and Viconia both cast healing spells upon Sorkatani. Tara tended to Minsc. Buffy looked around for more foes to battle and found no-one. The battle was over.

“Don’t you dare forget your sword this time, Spike,” Anya ordered.

“No problem,” Spike said. “Decent piece of kit, that one. Know exactly where I left it.” He was still holding an unconscious halfling, no longer required as a living bludgeon, and he raised the limp form to his mouth. “Waste not, want not,” he said. “Dunno when we’ll get out of here and it’s not like there’s anywhere to buy blood.” He went into game face and sank his fangs into the halfling’s throat.

Buffy grimaced but said nothing.

“That is a sight that goes amiss with me too,” Anomen said to her. “Yet Spike must feed, and in this strange device there is no other source of blood besides our foes.”

“I know, I know,” Buffy agreed. “I’m just never gonna get used to seeing him doing it.”

Spike drained the halfling dry and tossed the corpse aside. “That’s a thought,” he said.

Buffy frowned. “What, that I don’t like seeing you feed? Like I haven’t made that plain ever since we came to Faerûn?”

“Nah, about me being a bit buggered if there isn’t anywhere to get blood,” Spike replied. “Not just in here, but later. If we’re going on a sea voyage. Have to take some animals along, or something. Don’t want to spend the whole trip hoping for a pirate attack so that I can get something to eat.”

Yoshimo frowned. “I had not thought of that,” he said.

“No reason why you should have, mate,” Spike said. “My problem, my job to fix it.”

“It is not uncommon for sailors to take some livestock aboard ship,” Yoshimo told him. “There were pigs upon the vessel on which I traveled to the Sword Coast. No doubt something of the sort can be arranged when we sail to Spellhold.”

“If we cannot get there in this device,” Sorkatani put in. “I yet have hopes.” She was kneeling beside the body of the halfling who had injured her. “Ah, I thought that he was stronger than should have been possible for one his size,” she said. She stood up and held aloft a pair of gloves. “Gauntlets of Ogre Power,” she announced. “The Hands of Takkok. If we gain nothing else from this expedition it has been worth while.”

“Cool,” said Dawn. “Who gets to wear them?”

Sorkatani’s brow creased. “I know that you would like them, Dawn, but I do not think that it would be the best use of these gauntlets.” She saw Dawn’s lips beginning to form themselves into a pout and she held the gloves out to the younger girl. “See for yourself, Dawn. They are stout leather, reinforced with strips of metal, and not suitable for performing delicate work. You could not pick locks, or make traps safe, with these on your hands.”

Dawn examined the gloves and then handed them back. “Okay, yeah, I guess you’re right,” she conceded. “So who does get them? You?”

Sorkatani shook her head. “They give the wearer the strength of an ogre. No more and no less. I would be weakened if I donned them, as would Spike or your sister, rather than strengthened. No, they should go to one who fights in the front line but does not already have such exceptional strength. Minsc would gain little. Anomen’s strength I would judge to be almost as great as Minsc’s and, again, bestowing the gauntlets upon him would be a waste. Xander would benefit more, and if he had the gauntlets Carsomyr would be an even more formidable weapon, but my vote would go to Jaheira. Her skill in combat is not matched by her strength.”

“Perhaps Xander and I should draw lots,” Jaheira suggested. “I could make good use of the gauntlets, true, but so could he. I have my spells to augment my fighting skills.” She grimaced. “Although in this place it seems my spells are not to be relied upon. We are far from the natural world.”

Xander rejoined the group in time to hear that part of the conversation. “I’m good with drawing lots,” he agreed. “The extra strength would be cool, but I do okay anyway.”

“Uh, maybe you could both have something,” Tara put in. “I have the Giant Strength girdle so that I can use this Hammer of Thunderbolts, but, well, I don’t really use it much. If I pass the hammer on to Anomen, and the girdle to Xander, and Jaheira gets the gloves, I think that would work out.”

“No!” Buffy and Sorkatani exclaimed simultaneously.

Tara’s eyes widened. “Is there a problem with that?”

Willow stared at Buffy. “You know something that I don’t?” Buffy and Sorkatani exchanged glances. Willow’s stare intensified. “Come on, spill,” she urged.

“We, uh, had Slayer dreams,” Buffy divulged. “We didn’t say anything ‘cause we didn’t want to worry you.”

“Slayer dreams?” Willow gulped. “The other night when both of you rushed out into the corridor in your night clothes? Or, like, lack of night clothes in Buffy’s case? They were about Tara?”

“They were,” Sorkatani confirmed. “We resolved to make sure that they did not come to pass and are watching over her. It occurs to me that this offer of Tara’s may be the point at which we can change things to prevent the dreams from becoming a reality. The Girdle of Giant Strength, and the Hammer of Thunderbolts, must stay with her so that she is best able to protect herself.”

Willow moved closer to Tara. “You should have told us,” she said to Buffy.

“Blame me as well, Willow,” Sorkatani said. “Buffy and I discussed it and the decision was mutual. Fear not, abbin, I will not let anything happen to Tara. These dreams are warnings and not prophecy. There have been times when I have dreamed of my own death, and I have taken heed of the dreams, and avoided that fate when the time came.”

“So, what did you see in the dream?” Tara asked. Her face had paled slightly.

“A vampire,” Buffy told her. “I think maybe Bodhi, although I never got a good look at her in the cemetery so I can’t be sure. It was in some big old manor house. She bit you. Bad.” She twirled Daystar. “Don’t worry, Tara, like Tani said, we’re not gonna let anything happen to you.”

“I still think you should have told us,” Willow said. “Hey, is there anything else you’re not telling us?”

“Yes,” Sorkatani said immediately, much to Willow’s surprise. Sorkatani’s eyes flickered sideways but her head remained very still as if she was restraining the impulse to look at some specific member of the group. “I shall tell you more at another time. For now I can only say that I apologize for my silence on this matter and that I crave your pardon.”

“Uh, that goes for me too,” Buffy said. “Sorry, Will, Tara.”

“I guess it’s okay,” Tara said. “Uh, if this vision was about some manor house, I guess it’s nothing to do with where we are now. So I could still pass on the hammer and the belt and take them back once we’re out of here. I think Xander could use the girdle better than I can right now.”

“I guess,” Buffy said. “But you make sure you take them back before we go into any place anything like a house.”

The exchange of items was duly carried out. Anomen tapped the Hammer of Thunderbolts with the heel of his hand and beamed. “With this weapon I can truly smite evil.”

“Return it to Tara once we’re out of this Sphere,” Buffy reminded him.

“But of course,” Anomen agreed. “A loan only, but one for which I am grateful.”

Xander belted on the girdle and then took Carsomyr in his right hand and raised it high. “I… have… the power!” he declaimed. The greatsword was still too unwieldy to use in just one hand but its weight was nothing to him now. “Way cool.”

Jaheira donned the gauntlets with less display. “I shall use these well,” she said, “as I did the gauntlets that we took from Desrata in Baldur’s Gate.” She prodded the ground with her spear. “It is strange. The iron floor here has been covered with soil. Was it used to grow food?”

“I guess so,” Buffy said. “There are a few kinda withered plants around. Like it didn’t work out.”

“The soil is barren, dry and cracked,” Jaheira continued, “and yet I can hear water running.”

“It’s getting a little muddy around the edges of the room,” Xander observed. “Like, maybe that pool in the shark-men’s hang-out was meant to be running into here and I set things right when I pulled the plug.”

“We shall not be here long enough to see the results,” Jaheira said. “Let us move on.”

- - - - -

Buffy kicked the corpse of a giant spider out of sight under a table. “I don’t get it,” she said. “We smash a bunch of golems into pieces one minute and we have to put another one together now?”

Giles lowered the book that he had been examining. “It appears so,” he confirmed. “The inner doors will open for a maintenance golem but not for us.”

“The same was true in the dungeon of Irenicus,” Sorkatani reminded Buffy. “We did not have to fight the golem there. I believe that the same will be true here. Regardless, we have no other choice other than to sit here and wait until we arrive in the Abyss.”

“Or until Lavok chooses to open the doors to admit us,” Yoshimo said. “It is strange that he has not done so.”

“The evil wizard fears our mighty forces,” Minsc declared.

“That may well be the explanation,” Sorkatani agreed. A grin came to her face. “Then again, he might just be having a nap.”

“And that ‘we are taking off for the Abyss, please fasten your seat belts and extinguish your cigarettes’ announcement didn’t wake him?” Spike returned Sorkatani’s grin.

The grin spread to Tara. “He wears earplugs?”

- - - - -

The party emerged into the control chamber and fanned out into a battle formation. A tall ebony figure, clad in the traditional symbol-decorated robes of a high-ranking wizard, glowered down at them from an elevated platform.

“Foolish mortals,” he boomed out. “You have entered only…”

His oration was cut short as a barrage of spells, slingshots, arrows and crossbow bolts struck him. His initial retaliation was less lethal than would have been expected, presumably because of his unwillingness to damage the body of Valygar as he intended to possess it for his next incarnation, and Willow neutralized Lavok’s first spells without difficulty. Buffy, Sorkatani, and Spike charged in to close quarters. Only then did Lavok unleash a truly deadly spell, Abi-Dazim’s Horrid Wilting, and the attackers suffered agony as their tissues shriveled. They recoiled from the deadly cloud; but not before Buffy had seized Lavok by the leg and thrown him from his platform.

The wizard landed hard on the steel floor. He was well protected by powerful enchantments, and suffered little injury from the impact, but his next spell was disrupted and he was vulnerable to attack. Minsc brought his sword Lilarcor down upon the mage in a mighty blow. Lavok shrugged off the hit and began to stand up.

“No effect?” Minsc gasped. “I need a bigger sword.”

“Hey!” Lilarcor protested. “It’s not my fault if the guy is shielded. Tell the little red-head to get rid of it.”

Willow needed no prompting from a talking sword. She was already casting spells to strip Lavok of his shielding. “I’m on it!” she shouted. Sparks of energy crackled from her fingers.

Xander swung Carsomyr with all his magically-enhanced strength behind the blow. He hit Lavok across the middle of the back and sent the mage crashing back down to the floor. Anomen hit Lavok on the head with the Hammer of Thunderbolts. Minsc struck once more. Xander brought his Holy Sword down again and made solid contact. There was a flash of light and Lavok seemed to shrivel and shrink. Droplets of blood splattered across the steel decking.

Valygar tossed his bow aside and drew his sword. “You are defeated, Lavok,” he declared, advancing to stand over the fallen mage. “I am your descendant, Valygar Corthala. I shall not allow you to take my body to extend your evil life.”

“I am dying,” the body on the floor gasped out. “It shall be a relief. The force that possessed me has caused me to do much evil.” His very appearance had changed. No longer was he a tall, commanding, figure. Instead a frail and elderly man, his head covered with sparse white hair, lay on the floor.

Valygar raised his sword over the wizard’s throat. “It ends here,” he said.

Xander lowered Carsomyr. “Wait up,” he said. “He’s not showing up as evil any more.”

Valygar frowned. “A trick,” he said.

“Hey, these paladin powers aren’t easy to fool,” Xander pointed out. “I don’t think he could pull off any fancy spells while we were beating the crap out of him.”

“Xander is right,” Sorkatani declared. Her voice rasped from her dry throat but she had escaped from the toxic cloud before taking serious harm. Tara cast a healing spell upon her, as Anomen tended to Buffy, and Viconia saw to Spike. “Do not slay him, Valygar.”

“I sought knowledge,” Lavok explained. “I conjured forth a demon in the belief that I could control it. I was wrong. Instead it controlled me. For a century it has used my invention to spread misery and chaos to a score of worlds. Worst of all is what it forced me to do to my own family.”

Valygar sheathed his sword. “This is not as I thought it would be,” he said.

“My life has been stretched out long after I should have died,” Lavok continued. “Bought at the price of my own flesh and blood. Soon it will end, as should be, but I beg one last thing of you. Let me die under the sun of my own world.”

“We intend to return to Faerûn as soon as possible,” Sorkatani told the dying wizard. “Can you show us how to operate this machine?”

Lavok started to shake his head but the motion seemed to bring him pain. He lay still and moved only his mouth. “It would take years to learn the necessary skills,” he told her. “I can set the Sphere to return to the spot from which it departed, if you will help me back up to the control platform, but that is all.”

Disappointment showed on Sorkatani’s face but she accepted his word. “We shall do so. Take us home, wizard.”

“There is something that you must do before we can return,” Lavok said. “The energy to fly between the planes is drawn from the hearts of demons. When we arrive in the Abyss you must slay one such and retrieve its heart. Only then can we depart that realm.”

“Bummer,” said Buffy.

“Bloody typical,” said Spike. “Don’t suppose there’s any beer in this spaceship, is there? That sodding gas cloud has buggered my throat up good and proper.”

“Alas, no,” Lavok replied. “The demon that possessed me had no interest in wine or beer. All that there is to drink is water.” Spike groaned.

“Do not despair, Spike,” Giles put in. “I have tea leaves in my pack and it should be easy enough to improvise some method of boiling water. I’m sure that we shall all feel much better after a nice cup of tea.”

- - - - -

There was no sun overhead. Instead a sullen red glow emanated from the sky and lit up the barren landscape. Buffy wrinkled her nose. “This place stinks. I vote we kill the demon as fast as possible and get out of here.”

“Indeed,” Anomen said. “This dread realm is hostile to humanity.”

“We’re going on a demon hunt,” Dawn chanted. “We’re going to catch a big one. What a beautiful day. We’re not scared.”

“That may change,” Sorkatani warned. “Some tanar’ri can surround themselves with an aura of fear. Perhaps Giles should sing his ‘I won’t back down’ song’.” A smile lit up her face. “Apart from anything else, I like it.”

“Of course, my dear,” Giles agreed. He readied his guitar for action.

“Maybe Dawn’s song worked,” Buffy said. “I can see a big demon right over there. Plus a lot of little ones. I guess we might as well just get straight to the attack. There’s no point in talking when we need its heart. It’s not like it’s gonna say ‘sure, take it’.”

The company advanced to the attack. A swarm of imps rose to defend their master. Arrows flew and spells filled the air. Giles brought up the rear with his fingers dancing across the guitar strings and the Tom Petty song on his lips.

He walked past a large red rock. Suddenly it moved. Arms extended, tipped with vicious claws, and the top of the rock revealed itself to be a demonic head.

“A mortal,” the creature snarled. “A foolish one, to visit the Abyss. I shall feast upon your spleen.”

Giles looked ahead. The other members of the party were heavily engaged in combat and, although they seemed to be winning, they were in no position to rush to his rescue. He was on his own. He searched his mind for some suitable song that would protect him from this formidable-appearing demon. ‘Sympathy for the Devil’ hardly seemed appropriate. ‘Highway to Hell’ would be worse than useless. Suddenly a minor Seventies hit by English folk-rock band The Strawbs popped into his thoughts. The chorus seemed to offer at least some measure of protection.

Oh,” Giles began, “You don’t get me I’m part of the Union, you don’t get me I’m part of the Union…

The demon hesitated. Giles was just beginning to feel that at least he had bought himself some time, in which either he could come up with some more appropriate song or the others could spot his plight and come to his rescue, when a wave of weakness swept over him. His vision dimmed and he slumped to the ground.

Fifty yards away Willow’s eyes rolled up in her head and she toppled sideways. Carsomyr fell from Xander’s suddenly limp fingers and he fell in an unconscious heap. The tanar’ri that they battled, sorely wounded and hard pressed, suddenly found itself granted a respite. It raised its formidable talons over Xander and prepared to pounce.


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, tabula_avatar
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