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Tabula Avatar Chapter 46

Sunday evening probably isn’t the best time to post fic but I’m doing it anyway. The second ‘Tabula Avatar’ chapter in 3 days; I’m writing at a furious pace as I am getting close to a very important point. 6,175 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-Six

Katrina arched her eyebrows. “But what if I wanted to play a male pirate?”

“Hey, that’s cool too,” Warren said. “But be a girl first, okay? Just to check that we haven’t put in something dumb that a girl wouldn’t do, or say, yeah? We’ve done our best to think of everything but we’re all guys. Willow’s checked out some of it but she’s not really a gamer.”

“Too busy staying alive to think about how hot, or not, the guy pirates are?”

Warren nodded. “Pretty much. Not that Willow would think that guys were hot anyway, uh, but yeah, she was just pleased to have gotten through the game alive and she didn’t give us much feedback about the roleplay angle. So, will you do it?”

“Aye aye, Cap’n,” Katrina said. “Is there a manual?”

“There’s a PDF manual on the first disk,” Warren said. “That’s another thing. If there’s anything in the manual that’s not clear, or anything we’ve missed out, let us know, okay?”

“Aye aye, Cap’n,” Katrina said again. She toyed with the box of CD-ROMs. “I’ll check it out and report back. But hey, Warren, if I see any faults I’m going to be honest about them. If you can’t deal with concrit then you’d better take it back now.”

“Hey, I can deal,” Warren assured her. “If anything’s wrong we want to know now so we can fix it. We don’t want the first we hear about a bug, or a screw-up, to be from the guy from Activision or Ubisoft or whoever.”

“I guess.” Katrina slipped the CDs into her purse and then directed her attention towards Jonathan’s computer. “Is that your BG2 mod? When are you going to put the next part out? Everybody’s waiting. We want to see the upgraded Underdark.”

“Maybe two or three weeks,” Warren answered. “I got, uh, kinda stuck at Spellhold. There were a couple of problems. Anyway, the pirate game gets priority, yeah, ‘cause that could make us some real money.”

“I suppose that makes sense,” Katrina agreed. “But don’t you dare forget about BG.”

Warren smiled. “Don’t worry. That totally isn’t gonna happen.”

- - - - -

“I thank you, Cromwell,” Yoshimo said. “And you too, of course, Willow. At last I have a blade worthy of the great Yoshimo.”

“Ye’re nae ower shy, mannie,” the dwarven smith remarked. “Nae gie’en tae hidin’ yer ain licht unner a bushel.”

Yoshimo shrugged. “Who else will sing my praises if I do not?”

“Sorkatani would,” Willow said.

Yoshimo lowered his head. “She is too kind. I am unworthy even to walk in her shadow.”

“Thot’s mair wit ah wud hae thocht a mannie frae Kara-Tur wud hae said,” Cromwell commented.

“Kara-Tur is a vast land with many countries,” Yoshimo reminded him. “The ways of Kozakura are not those of Shou Lung.”

“Aye,” Cromwell said. “Ah ken thot.” He accepted a pouch of gold and secreted it away about his person. “Hae ye the parts for yon Crom Faeyr hammer yet?”

Willow shook her head. “We have the Hammer of Thunderbolts, the scroll of instructions, and the Gauntlets of Ogre Power, but still no Girdle of Frost Giant Strength. You’re sure that a Girdle of Hill Giant Strength won’t do?”

Cromwell stroked his beard. “Nae, lassie, it aye maun be yon Frost Giant belt.”

“Bummer,” said Willow. “I guess we just have to keep on looking, right?” She picked up her staff. “Okay, we’d better get back to the others.” She grinned at Yoshimo. “Minsc will be worrying about me. Unless he’s, like, totally occupied with Tara.”

“Minsc!” Yoshimo smacked himself on the forehead with the flat of a hand. “I am a fool, Willow.”

Willow raised her eyebrows. “Uh, I didn’t know you thought of Minsc that way, Yoshi.”

Yoshimo laughed briefly. “You know that there is only one person that I think of in that way. No, I am a fool because I forgot something that could have been important. My ring could have healed Minsc’s injured arm, and I did not think to offer it to him.”

“Hey, don’t worry about it,” Willow said. “Buffy wants you to keep that ring on, ‘kay? It’s meant to keep you safe. It’s not like Minsc was bad hurt.”

“It was a contribution that I could have made, and I did not do so.” Yoshimo shook his head. “I must try harder.”

“Don’t worry about it,” Willow said again. “Bye, Cromwell. We’ll be back if we find the Frost Giant Girdle.” She led the way out of the smithy and Yoshimo followed.

- - - - -

“I expected to see you well before now,” Aran Linvail, operational head of the Shadow Thieves of Amn, said to Sorkatani. “I am sure that you long ago acquired the fifteen thousand danter that I set as my price.”

“I had reasons for my delay,” Sorkatani told him.

“Of course,” Linvail agreed. “You wanted to be sure that you were as well armed and equipped as you could possibly be. I understand. Jon Irenicus is a wizard of exceptional power.” His gaze swept Sorkatani’s companions, resting briefly on each. “You have assembled a formidable force. I am sure that you will have little difficulty in performing a little task for me.”

“Nothing was said about any further tasks,” Sorkatani reminded Linvail. “Gaelen Bayle mentioned only the payment of fifteen thousand danter. I have the gold. Do your part, then, and provide the ship.”

“It is not that simple, Sorkatani,” said Aran Linvail. “The money is of little importance to me. I will take it, yes, for the ship’s captain and crew must be paid, but in return I offer you these magical items.” He laid two pieces of jewelry on the table in front of him. “A good quality Ring of Protection, and an Amulet of Power.”

Sorkatani picked up the items and passed them to Willow. “It’s not the basic model ring,” Willow reported. “Xander would call it a Plus Two, I guess. It’s better than the one that I’m wearing. Or, hey, Buffy could use it.”

“And this Amulet of Power?” Sorkatani asked.

“It bestows some measure of magic resistance to the wearer,” Linvail explained, before Willow could begin her Identify spell. “A wizard or priest who wears it may cast spells faster than normal, and is warded against being rendered impotent by a spell of Silence. And,” the corners of his lips twisted up in a mirthless smile, “it makes the wearer immune to the life-force draining powers of a vampire.”

Willow stiffened. “For Tara,” she whispered.

“I deduce that its powers are not unconnected with the task that you would have us perform,” Sorkatani said.

Linvail nodded. “You are correct. You know, of course, of the struggle that has been taking place in this city over the last three months. A new Guild seeks to wrest control of the streets from the Shadow Thieves. A guild that is controlled by vampires.”

“We have encountered them,” Sorkatani confirmed.

“And slain a few,” Buffy added.

“Yet they come back,” Linvail pointed out. “They must be tracked to their lair and their corpses impaled with wooden stakes. Only then will they be destroyed permanently.”

“Yeah, we got the memo,” said Buffy.

Linvail looked at her. “So you are Buffy the Vampire Slayer? I must confess that I find it hard to believe that you are as mighty a warrior as is rumored.”

“Believe it,” Buffy said.

Sorkatani nodded. “In truth, Aran Linvail, Buffy is a fighter the like of which you will not have seen.”

“I will not dispute your claim,” Linvail said. “You will, then, destroy this nest of vampires?”

“I have a choice?” Sorkatani raised an eyebrow.

“Certainly you may decline to assist,” Linvail said, “but I would not be able to devote my energies towards finalizing your passage to Spellhold whilst I am engaged in a battle for the very survival of the Guild. Your assistance would… facilitate matters.”

“There is no need for such manipulation,” Sorkatani told him. “I would oppose the vampires in any event.”

“It’s what I do,” Buffy added.

“I am pleased to hear it,” Linvail said. “When shall you be ready to make your move?”

“Do you know the location of the vampire lair?” Sorkatani asked him.

“I have some suspicions,” he said, “but no definite proof. However, I know that two of my guild members are on the verge of defecting to our rivals. I have left them alive for the moment in the hope that they will lead me to the enemy’s stronghold.” Linvail leaned forward in his chair and rested his forearms on his desk. “I doubt if they know your associates. You might find it easier to gain their confidence, or simply to track them, than would my men.”

Buffy and Sorkatani looked at each other and exchanged eye-rolls. Behind them Viconia whispered something into Spike’s ear that caused him to snort as he suppressed a burst of laughter.

“We’ll see what we can do,” Sorkatani said. “And if we find the location we shall attack… tomorrow, you think, Buffy? Giles?”

“There’s no point in hanging around,” Buffy agreed.

“A daytime attack would indeed be tactically sound,” Giles stated.

“Excellent,” said Aran Linvail. “You will find the men in question at the Five Flagons Inn. Jaylos and Caehan, They believe that their presence there is unknown to me.”

“Remarkably convenient for us,” Sorkatani observed, “but I doubt that they will remain oblivious to our identities for long. We shall set off at once.”

“Return here once you have discovered the whereabouts of the vampires, please,” Linvail requested. “I will need to know where, and when, to send my men if they are to assist in your assault.”

“It is good to hear that you are not going to merely sit back and leave the entire task to us,” said Sorkatani.

“This is a matter of life and death for the Guild,” Linvail said. “I shall not trust it entirely to others, no matter how competent they seem.”

“Very well,” Sorkatani agreed. “We shall return, or send word, when we have learned more.” She led the party out of the room and out of the Thieves Guild building.

- - - - -

Lassal bowed low before Bodhi. “They know where we are,” he reported.

Bodhi smiled. “Good, good. You are certain?”

“Not absolutely certain, Mistress,” Lassal admitted. “It seems very likely, however. They returned to the Inn. Shortly afterwards our agent Gracen went inside to make contact with the prospective recruits. He did not return. Instead Sorkatani, Yoshimo, and Anya left and headed for the Docks district. Tolgerias is following them. He will come back here if they do not go to the Thieves Guild, Mistress, but I do not expect him to do so.”

“That is enough to convince me also,” Bodhi agreed. “You have done well, Lassal. We must make our preparations for an attack. In the morning, I think. That is when I would launch my assault if I was in Sorkatani’s place.”

“We shall destroy them, Mistress,” boasted a massive vampire who had been a bar-room brawler in life.

Bodhi rolled her eyes. “Yes, Gellal, of course we shall,” she said. “Go and patrol the outer corridors in case she attacks during the night. Take Durst with you.”

“I obey, Mistress,” the brute grunted. He shambled off, followed by a smaller but equally thuggish vampire, and departed from the chambers.

Bodhi heaved a sigh. “What have I done to deserve minions like that? Oh, yes, I suppose it was the vicious killing and wanton slaughter. I’ll have to be more discriminating in the future. Or perhaps not. It’s fun.” She turned to the most recent of her vampires. “How are you feeling, Valen?”

“I… I am not sure, Mistress,” the former thief said. “I feel weak, not strong. I am hungry.”

“You’ll feel better once you have eaten, my dear,” Bodhi assured her. She clapped her hands. “Tanova, bring out the food.”

The vampire mage came out of one of the side chambers dragging a bound and gagged human girl. “Welcome to the family, Valen,” she said. “Dinner is served. Or should it be breakfast?”

“Thank you,” Valen replied. She tilted her head to one side and stared at the captive. “She looks like me,” she observed. “She’s even wearing the same style of armor.”

“Exactly,” Bodhi said. “Eat her now. I’ll explain later.”

- - - - -

Jonathan held the phone out to Warren. “For you,” he said. “It’s Katrina.”

Warren shot out of his chair and hurtled across the room. “Katrina! Hi,” he said. “Uh, how are you? D’oh! That was a stupid question seeing as how I saw you yesterday. Uh. Let me start again.”

“You sound like you’re not properly awake yet,” Katrina said. “Sorry. I just wanted to catch you before I went to class.”

“Uh, no, it’s not like you woke me up or anything,” Warren assured her. “It’s just, uh, I wasn’t expecting you to call me.”

“I thought you’d want to know this as early as possible,” Katrina said. “You have a problem.”

“A problem?” Warren echoed.

“Your pirate game,” Katrina said.

“You didn’t like it?” Warren was surprised. The game was good, he was certain of that, and he knew Katrina’s tastes well enough to have been convinced that she would appreciate it.

“I couldn’t see it,” Katrina told him. “Everything is grayed out. I can’t see a damn thing. Well, I can see the GUI, but that’s all.”

“Oh.” Warren stood in stunned silence for a moment. “That just shouldn’t be happening. Uh, did you find the graphics settings?”

“I tried everything,” Katrina said. “Nothing worked. Until I tried loading it onto Stephanie’s machine. It showed up perfectly there.”

Warren scratched his head. “What graphics card do you have?”

“A Radeon 8500,” Katrina told him. “Stephanie has a GeForce 2 Ultra. You said you have a GeForce, right?”

“Ti-500, overclocked,” Warren confirmed. “Oh, crap. I never tested it on an ATI card.”

“That’s what I thought,” Katrina said. “You want me to bring it back after class? I think I could do that, but I’d have to rush straight back.”

“No, it’s okay,” Warren said. “I have other copies. Hang on to it until the next time we meet up. Did you, uh, did you play it on Stephanie’s system at all?”

“Not really,” Katrina answered. “By the time that I’d worked out that it was an incompatibility problem it was too late to do much actual playing. What I saw of it looked good, and I went through character creation, but that was all. I’ll take more of a look at it tonight, ‘kay?”

“Yeah, that would be cool. Uh, thanks for letting me know. Crap. It looks like we have a lot of work to do.”

“I guess you do. I have to get to class. I’ll drop you an e-mail tonight or tomorrow. Bye, Warren.”

“Yeah, thanks. Bye, Katrina.” He bit off the ‘I love you’ that had risen to his lips. Their relationship was on the way towards being rebuilt but it hadn’t returned to that stage yet. He heard Katrina disconnect and he put down the phone. “Crap and double crap. The Pirate game doesn’t work with ATI cards. I screwed up.”

“Oh, crap,” Jonathan said. “We totally should have tested that.”

“I know,” said Warren. “Shit. I was going to start sending out demos any day now.”

“It could be a driver issue,” Jonathan suggested. “I heard the Catalyst drivers had a few problems.”

Warren shook his head. “I heard that too, dude, but they’re all fixed now, and there is no way that Katrina won’t have the latest drivers. I checked out the Radeon 8500 ‘cause I was thinking of upgrading soon and the word is that the problems are long gone. I’d decided to wait for the GeForce 4 to come out next month but, hey, I think I’d better get a Radeon ASAP. We have to get things working right now.” He grimaced. “Just when I thought we could take a day or two out for R and R. Our first Crunch Time.”

- - - - -

“Morning is almost upon us,” Bodhi said. “It is almost time to make our final preparations.” She stood beside a fledgling vampire girl whose pointed ears marked her as a half-elf. “What do you think, Tanova?”

“She is a little taller than you,” Tanova said, “but that should not be a problem. She will be lying down, after all.” She gazed at the two girls intently. “The hair is perfect. The clothes fit well enough. Her breasts are not as shapely as yours but in the circumstances I think that will not be apparent.”

The fledgling frowned. “I do not understand why I have to be disguised as you, Mistress,” she said.

“It is not necessary that you understand,” Bodhi snapped. “Your place is to do as you are ordered. This is to confuse the enemy. That is all that you need to know.”

“Forgive me, Mistress, I meant no disrespect,” the girl said.

Bodhi did not reply. She moved away and cast her eyes over another fledgling who wore a Calimshan costume matching that of Tanova. “Close enough,” she judged. “She would not fool one who knew you well, but the veil hides your features. She will serve.”

The young woman’s eyes flickered towards the girl who was dressed as Bodhi, and they exchanged glances, but neither spoke up.

“We have Valen provided for,” Bodhi went on. She frowned at a male vampire. “I see a problem, Lassal. His chest is covered in hair. Yours is smooth.”

“I have thought of that, Mistress,” Lassal replied. He tossed a leather jerkin to the other vampire. “Here. Put that on.” The fledgling obeyed his command and Lassal donned an identical jerkin.

“That’s better,” Bodhi said. “I think that covers everything. Very well. You three, come with me. I will brief you on your special tasks.” She crooked a finger, beckoned, and then walked off to a side chamber. The three fledglings followed slowly, their darting glances betraying their nervousness, and left the main room.

The door closed behind them. There was a brief agonized shriek, a growl, and a scream that chopped off suddenly. The door shook as something crashed against it. Another scream sounded. A moment of silence followed and then the door opened once more. Bodhi walked out alone.

“I think that they understand their role well enough now,” she said. She brushed something off her hands. “Now for the rest of you. Your task is to fight. Kill as many of them as you can, but not Sorkatani, and not Yoshimo. They must not be harmed.”

“How can we win if we can not harm them?” the burly Gellal asked.

“Did I tell you that you could ask questions? Did I?” Bodhi shot forward with eye-baffling speed, seized the speaker by the lower lip, and jerked his head down. Gellal cried out in agony. “Your mouth is to be used to bite, not to dispute my decisions. I will tear off your lips and leave you unable to feed if you question me again. Do you understand?”

Gellal croaked our something incoherent. Bodhi released his lip. “I understand, Mistress,” the muscular vampire groaned. “I shall obey.”

“See that you do.” Bodhi pushed her minion away. “Sorkatani is not to be slain. Yoshimo is not to be slain. You may strike them, but you must not bite. Your objective is to capture them alive, or to drive them away, nothing more. You cannot mistake them. They are the pair from Kara-Tur. Kill the humans from the west, kill the drow, kill the man from Rashemen, but not the Easterners. Do you understand?”

“Yes, Mistress,” the fledglings chorused.

“Good.” Bodhi put her hands on her hips. “Close and lock the doors. We don’t want to make things look too easy for them.” The minions scurried to obey.

“Mistress,” Valen said quietly, “what about the ghoul?” She gestured towards a grey humanoid that stood in a corner, snarling and muttering to itself, which had taken no notice of Bodhi’s address to her troops. “Can it understand your orders?”

Bodhi shrugged. “I doubt it. I can’t see Sorkatani having any trouble with such a creature. It’s just here to make up the numbers. It has to look as if we are making an effort, after all.” She grimaced. “There is nothing to do now but wait. Perhaps I should not have sent Tolgerias away. I could have passed the time with a fuck. It’s not as if being caught in a… disadvantageous position would be disastrous in these circumstances.”

“There are other men here, Mistress,” Valen pointed out.

“Gellal? Durst? That idiot who we sired only because he looks somewhat like Lassal?” Bodhi tossed her head. “Hardly. They would think that it gave them rights over me. They would become insubordinate and then I’d have to kill them. Tolgerias is intelligent enough to know his place.” She sucked in her lower lip. “On second thoughts, Gellal and Durst are expendable now anyway. Should I? No, they might think that they could disobey me over Sorkatani. I shall not risk it.”

Valen dipped her head and lowered her eyes. Her coloration did not change but it was still obvious that she would have been blushing had she still been a living human. “There are things that one woman may do with another,” she said.

“Indeed there are,” Bodhi said, “but I prefer men. Oh, well, if I was indeed surprised in a state of undress they would wonder how I managed to dress on the way to my coffin. Tell me, Valen, what card games do you play?”

- - - - -

The wizard bowed to Sorkatani and to Buffy. “I am Haz, at your service, ladies,” he introduced himself. “My master has commanded that I obey you as I would him.”

“Well met, Haz,” said Sorkatani.

Buffy raised her eyebrows. “Just you? Or are there a whole bunch of invisible thieves backing you up?”

The wizard stood up straight. “You have warriors and thieves in plenty, my lady. Master Linvail felt that we could offer little in those departments and all that his men could achieve would be to get in your way.”

“He has a point,” Sorkatani agreed, glancing around the assembled company.

There were fifteen in their party, not counting Haz. Valygar was not with them, as he had departed from the city to return to his cabin in the Umar Hills, but Korgan had insisted on accompanying the group. It had been, he had said, ‘tae lang since ah hashed onie muckle beasties’, and they had decided that on this occasion the prohibition against Xander working with evil companions could be set aside.

“You have but one mage among your number,” Haz went on, “and so that is where he felt that our contribution would be most productive.” He swept out his arm in a gesture towards the lumbering silent figure that accompanied him. “And I bring with me the Key of Last Resort.”

“That’s a key?” Xander gave a low whistle. “It must fit one hell of a lock.”

The wizard uttered a word of command. His clay golem extended its arms. They ended, not in hands, but in massive hammer heads. “A key that few locks can resist,” he said. “Hardly subtle, but effective.”

“Now that could be useful,” Buffy said. “We had a try at opening the door at the end of this corridor, back when I was helping out Korgan, and we totally struck out. Yoshimo couldn’t pick the lock and I couldn’t smash it down. Not that I tried for long, ‘cause I had no idea what was behind it and it was just out of curiosity, but I wasn’t looking forward to trying again.”

“Leave it to the Key,” Haz said. “It is of less use as a weapon, however. Once the door is open I shall resort to my spells.”

“What do you have?” Willow asked. “We should, you know, co-ordinate.” The two mages spent a couple of minutes discussing spell use and tactics.

“Okay, let’s get this show on the road,” Buffy said, when Willow and Haz moved apart.

“Let’s do it to them, before they do it to us,” Xander added.

The formidable group assembled outside the heavy doors that barred the way to a crypt. The Key of Last Resort shambled forward and raised its hammer hands. They descended on the doors with a resounding clang. The door rocked. Again the hammers descended. A gap appeared between the doors. A third blow, and the hinges ripped away. The doors fell flat and the crypt lay open.

The defenders inside reacted instantly. Skeleton warriors wielding greatswords charged at the intruders. A volley of spells, and Azuredge hurled by Xander, blasted the skeletons out of existence. The party advanced into the crypt.

The chamber beyond the entrance corridor was dominated by a massive table. Vampires clustered around it. They hurled themselves at the adventurers. A fireball went off in the room, burning but not killing some of the vampires, and then the undead reached close quarters and swords began to whirl.

One of the vampires, a girl in diaphanous pants who wore a veil over her face, was a mage of some power. She disrupted the cohesion of the attackers with a Symbol of Fear, sending some of them recoiling in panic until Giles countered it with his Tom Petty song, and she injured several of them with Chain Lightning. The vampire mage was protected by multiple wards and she shrugged off a blow from Azuredge. Willow identified her as the biggest potential threat and began to work at dispelling her protections. Xander made the same decision and began to hack his way towards her to let Carsomyr do its work. A male vampire, short but broad in the shoulder, intercepted him and attacked with such power and fury that Xander was forced to concentrate on his own defense.

Buffy slashed the head from the shoulders of a burly vampire and the creature turned into a white vapor. She grimaced. “I hate it when they do that! Why can’t they just, like, dust?” She made a mental note of the direction in which the vapor was heading and turned to face another vampire.

Sorkatani stunned a ghoul with Celestial Fury. She left it to Yoshimo to finish off the flesh-eater and slashed at a bald vampire in a sleeveless leather jerkin. He snarled and struck out at her. She blocked his blow with her scimitar and ran Celestial Fury through his chest. Korgan knocked the wounded vampire to the ground and delivered a series of brutal axe blows until the monster disintegrated into a mist.

The veiled vampire girl unleashed a spell at Willow. The Staff of the Magi absorbed the spell and the vampire snarled out a curse. Willow stripped away one more level of the girl’s protections and Tara smote with the Hammer of Thunderbolts. A Stoneskin took the brunt of the blow and the vampire cast another spell.

Anya’s eyes glazed over. She stabbed Jaheira in the back and the druid jerked upright. Jaheira was unharmed, however, as she was shielded by the druidic spell Ironskins, and she turned and tried to defend herself without harming Anya.

Haz slashed with a Phantom Blade and slew a young vampire girl, already injured by Minsc, who still bore the marks on her throat of the bite that had turned her. He grinned in triumph and raised the magical weapon to strike at a new opponent who had just rushed into the room. An elf girl in leather armor that was cut to display as much skin as possible regardless of the detrimental effect on its protective abilities. She slipped past the Phantom Blade and seized Haz by the throat.

“You killed Valen,” Bodhi snarled. “For that you shall suffer.” She ducked under a sword stroke from Spike and then kicked out at him. She hit hard, as hard as Sorkatani or Spike himself, and he staggered back. Bodhi swung Haz through the air and used him to parry as Minsc lashed out at her with Lilarcor.

“Ooops!” Lilarcor exclaimed. The impact of the two-handed sword was enough to ruin what was left of Haz’s Stoneskin. “Friendly hack.”

Bodhi slammed the mage down onto the stone flags and stamped on his head. Haz jerked spasmodically and blood began to trickle from his ears. Spike returned to the attack and delivered a kick of his own. Now it was Bodhi’s turn to be knocked back across the room.

Viconia cast a spell of False Dawn. The vampires recoiled from the reddish glow and the weaker ones shrieked in pain as their skin blistered. Anomen followed up with exactly the same spell and one of the lesser vampires disintegrated.

Tara dispelled the Domination spell that had turned Anya against them. Anya shook herself, stepped away, and exchanged her sword for her crossbow.

Willow eventually won her magical duel with the vampire mage and set her foe on fire. The vampire girl shrieked and went up in a pillar of flame. For a moment she burned brightly and then there was only a small white cloud. It moved across the room as if blown by an invisible wind.

Spike dueled with Bodhi. They were evenly matched but Spike’s sword gave him a slight edge. Suddenly Bodhi saw an opening, dived away from Spike, and seized Anomen. The vampire’s mouth gaped wide and her fangs gleamed as she bit down on Anomen’s throat.

- - - - -

“I wonder how the guys are doing in Athkatla,” Jonathan remarked. “They should be fighting Bodhi round about now.”

“That’s not my priority right now, dude,” Warren said. He seated the new Radeon card firmly home in the AGP slot and picked up his screwdriver. “I’m kinda busy here. Leave them to it. They’ll be okay. We don’t have to worry about them until they get to Spellhold.”

- - - - -

Bodhi’s head jerked back and she gasped in pain. Buffy had hold of her by the hair and was pulling hard.

“Nobody touches my boyfriend,” Buffy growled. She dragged Bodhi back, ignoring the vampire’s attempts to pull herself free, and kicked Bodhi hard behind the knee. Buffy released her grip on the hair as Bodhi fell.

Bodhi looked up at Daystar poised above her. “You may strike me down, Vampire Slay…” she began. The sword sliced through her throat and whatever she planned to say would remain forever unheard. Yet another white mist formed and drifted away.

Xander paused in the act of dismembering a vampire. He frowned. “I shall become more powerful than you could possibly imagine? No way.” He shook his head and swung Carsomyr once more.

The last of the vampires fell. Buffy ran her fingers through her hair. “Everybody okay? Anomen?”

“I have taken but little harm, dearest,” Anomen told her. “My warding spells held out.” He cast a healing spell and the wound on his throat closed up.

Tara bent over the body of Haz. “He’s dead,” she announced. She drew a symbol on his forehead with her fingertips and chanted the words of a clerical spell. The mage opened his eyes, gasped in a rasping breath, and then his body twitched and his hands came up to clutch at his chest. His breathing stopped, his hands fell away from his chest, and his head lolled sideways. Tara shook her head and stood up.

“We must find their coffins,” Sorkatani declared.

“This seems as good a place to start as any other,” Buffy said. She used a foot to push open a door and stepped through it cautiously with Daystar and the Blade of Roses both poised to strike. “Bodhi went this way.”

A gray humanoid figure lunged at Buffy. She met the ghoul with a double sword stroke and felled it with ease. “No coffins,” she reported, “but – ewww – there’s a whole, like, swimming pool of blood.”

The others filed in after her. “There’s something in there,” Willow said. “I’m picking up magic vibes.”

“Hey, I’m not putting my hand in that stuff,” Dawn stated. She had taken almost no part in the battle other than to fire an occasional crossbow bolt but now she hoped to get a chance to use her trap deactivation and lock-picking abilities.

“I’ll do it, Bit,” Spike volunteered. He removed the jerkin of the Armor of Deep Night, rolled back his sleeves, and plunged his left arm into the blood. He pulled something out and then yelped in pain. He released the object and it clattered onto the floor. “Ow! Sod it,” Spike exclaimed, and put his fingers to his mouth and sucked them. “Stung like touching a bloody cross.”

“A holy weapon,” Tara deduced.

“Probably,” said Spike. “Somebody else can pick the bloody thing up. I’m not touching it again.”

Buffy took little notice. She was concentrating on her search for the vampire coffins. A corridor opened off the room and she headed along it. Dawn hastened after her sister to take care of any traps. “Jackpot!” Buffy cried. “Coffin central.” She sheathed her swords and pulled a wooden stake from her belt. She went to the closest coffin, kicked off its lid, and stared inside.

A body lay within the coffin, as was only to be expected, still and silent. The pallid skin revealed by the exotic leather armor looked repulsive rather than sexy. Buffy’s nose wrinkled. “Goodbye, bitch,” she said, and rammed her stake through the vampire’s chest. The body collapsed in on itself and disintegrated into a cloud of dust. “That’s more like it,” Buffy said, and she smiled. “Next!”

- - - - -

“We could not save him, nor could we Raise him,” Sorkatani told Aran Linvail. “I am sorry. His golem is still within the crypt. It would not obey any commands from us and stands now as if it were a mere statue.”

“Haz was a valuable employee, and gave good service,” Linvail said. “He has died six times before in the service of the Guild. His luck has run out at last. You are not to be blamed, Sorkatani.”

“Thank you, Aran Linvail.” Sorkatani paused for a moment, out of respect for the dead, and then raised an important topic. “The vampires are destroyed. What of our passage to Spellhold?”

“The ship will be ready in three days’ time,” Linvail promised. “It shall take you to Spellhold. I wish you a pearl of luck in your quest to rescue your friend.”

“Thank you,” Sorkatani said again. “We shall return.” She led her companions from the Thieves Guild and out onto the street. “We have some time to spare, now,” she said to Giles. “Tonight, I vote that we – party.”

- - - - -

Bodhi’s eyes snapped open. She pushed open the top of her coffin and sat up. “That was no fun at all,” she grumbled. “It worked, though.” She stepped out of her coffin and walked from her richly decorated chamber into a larger room. A channel containing a stream of slowly-flowing blood ran around the edges of the room. “Wake up, everybody! We have a wall to knock down.”

Tanova emerged from another coffin. “I shall make that witch pay,” she swore. “The flames were agony.”

“I might make her one of us,” Bodhi said. “I have a feeling that she could contribute a lot.”

“I’d rather kill her,” Tanova said, “but your wishes are paramount.” A third coffin lid slid open, then a fourth, and Lassal and Valen clambered out to join their mistress.

“We shall see,” Bodhi said. “When we get to Spellhold. I think that we deserve some recreation first, though. A night out on the town.”

- - - - -

The Five Flagons Playhouse was full to capacity. The audience sat enthralled as Korgan tapped out a rhythm, Giles strummed his guitar, and a beautiful girl in the silken robes of Kara-Tur danced barefoot in front of them.

The wind is in from Maztica,” Sorkatani sang,
And last night I couldn’t sleep,
Oh, you know it sure is hard to leave here
But it’s really not my home…

Yoshi gazed at her from the wings. Adoration was written all over his face.

My fingernails are filthy, I got beach tar on my feet,” Sorkatani continued,
And I miss my clean white linen and my Calimshan perfume.
Oh, Yoshi get out your cane,
And I’ll put on some silver
You’re a mean old daddy but I like you

“She’s not a bad singer,” a girl in the back row commented to the wizard who sat beside her. A veil hid the girl’s features. “I prefer Viconia, though.”

“Indeed,” the wizard agreed. “When she sang that ‘I touch myself’ song I thought that I would… ah, I think that you can guess.”

“Shush, both of you,” the elf woman in the next seat hissed. “We don’t want to draw attention to ourselves. After all,” Bodhi went on, “we’re supposed to be dead.”


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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