The Witch and the Dragon – Chapters 25 & 26

Standard Disclaimer

This is fan fiction of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, which were created by Joss Whedon. If you like, you can read my thoughts on the ethics and legality of fan fiction.


[Start reading story from beginning]

[Go back to chapters 23 & 24]

Chapter 25

She came to a halt and fired a beam of green light from her hand, high up into the air. The warning beacon.

Willow felt like her insides had shrunk, as if a great happiness had boiled away, leaving only a hard, misshapen core. They had to win, and fast. She had to keep Tara safe. She had to see her again.

Spike was the first to arrive. The soul of a young woman followed him. Was that…Harmony?

“All I’m tryin’ to tell you,” Spike said, “is that I treated you wrong, and I’m sorry. It’s a simple apology. Is that so hard to understand?”

“Whatever,” said Harmony. “That wasn’t even me. That was some vampire chick that got my freakin’ body right before I freakin’ graduated. I’ve never even seen you before. There’s nothing to talk about!”

“Then why are you still following me?”

“Because even though you’re, like, totally old, I think you could look très hot if your hair wasn’t all floppy and lame. Is it a wig? Can you take it off? Is it all wrinkly underneath?”

He managed to shoo her away and came up beside Willow.

“So trouble’s coming?” he said.

She nodded straight ahead. “That way.”

“You sure? The scouts haven’t seen anything.”

Even as he spoke, a distant wall of slate-gray stormclouds creeped closer, trampling a path across the sunny sky. The first faint peals of thunder echoed over barren land.

“I’m sure,” she said.

Illyria came next. She stood beside them and watched the clouds silently. Then Xander, with his axe.

“Did you find her?” said Willow.

“Not yet,” he said darkly. “But I will.”

Emily arrived, and some of the other witches and Slayers. They were keeping a few of their forces in a ring around the souls, but they concentrated their strength where the attack was most likely.

Dawn joined them now – wiping away tears, cradling her rifle like her own child – and refused to say anything.

Last of all came Buffy. She stopped for a second to cup Dawn’s cheek in her hand, then strode forward and took point in front of everyone. A growing wind tousled her hair. She held her Scythe like the Hammer of Thor.

“Anyone seen Giles?” she asked. But nobody had.

The vast, black thunderhead rumbled above them, cutting off the sun. The air grew cool. Come on, thought Willow, enough theatrics. I haven’t got all day.

Then, miles away, a great red explosion went off from the crater’s rim. Another, and another. The traps going off, she thought. Flashes of light, a low rumble. The invisible protective dome suddenly appeared, like a huge bubble all around, then cracked apart and vanished.

It was coming.

A minute passed. Another. Then Illyria said, “Something approaches.”

The black speck in the distance grew into a lumbering beast. Four…no, six legs. The horns of a bull. Dark plates, like a beetle’s shell, covered its back, while shaggy brown hair grew underneath. Hooves, but also sharp curving claws on the front feet.

Riding it was the figure of a man.

The creature slowed to a halt some distance away, and the man, or the demon, or whatever he was, dismounted. He walked straight to Buffy, unhurried but purposeful. He was wrapped in ragged brown robes, and a brown blindfold covered his eyes – if he had any. His skin was stark white, his hair messy black.

He had a long wooden spear with a curved metal head. He held it by its end, dragging its head on the ground behind him.

Buffy walked out to meet him. They stopped a little way apart.

“Abaddon,” she called out.

He opened his mouth, and the words were like the scraping of metal, the gnashing of teeth on bone.

“Naj rakha, ik raja nakha, rakath ha naja, vi nahn.”

Willow didn’t recognize the language, but by some power of his, the meaning echoed in her mind.

Behold, the apes gather to oppose me, with their rocks and their sticks.

“Damn skippy,” said Buffy. “Sunnydale is my town. And this particular stick is really sharp, made of metal, and going inside your spleen if you don’t back the hell off.”

“Ikraznah ak sarrakiah, nag zakka karajh anakh sikamo, arakatha rikaz.” I shall rip the entrails from your corpse and devour your spirit.

“As pickup lines go, not one of the better ones. Kind of a psycho stalker vibe. How about, ‘Hello, I’m the Locust-King, can I buy you a drink?’”

“Akhaviat rinkankhan mikhar o hajkama arakk shazakha.” You shall not keep me from my birthright, mortal.

She settled into a ready stance, feet apart, weapon forward. “Then come over here and take it, Abbie, ’cause you’re puttin’ me to sleep with the small talk.”

Abaddon took up his spear in both hands. The ground shook. Far off, a row of black dots grew into a galloping horde. Creatures like the one that had borne Abaddon. No riders, just demons.

Dozens of them.

Hundreds.

Thousands.

Willow slipped the medallion around her neck, felt the heat of fresh energy burn outward from her heart, crackling through every muscle and every pore. All around, she could sense her witches readying their own power.

Slayers readied their weapons, that same gun/spear hybrid she had seen in Sri Lanka. Xander leveled his axe. Dawn flipped off the safety on her M16. Spike drew his sword. Illyria just stood and watched her enemies, still and august as the Egyptian Sphinx.

Someone hobbled up beside her, and she looked over to see Giles. “Terribly sorry,” he said. “I’m afraid I don’t really run anymore. Hope I haven’t missed anything?”

Willow flashed him a fierce smile. “We were just getting started.”

“Oh, good.”

He clasped his hands together, and green glowing runes appeared all over his body. She could feel the mystic forces churning inside him, aching for freedom.

Rough lightning cracked across the sky. The first thick raindrops slapped into the parched earth.

Then the screaming army drew near, and Abaddon charged at Buffy, and the whole world went to hell.

Chapter 26

Willow flexed her fingers. A vast curtain of fire erupted from the ground. Her witches all had pretty much the same idea, and the front ranks of the demons were engulfed in a ravenous inferno. Unable to stop, more and more piled into the wall of death.

But the creatures fanned out, and inevitably, some got through. The Slayers fell on these with abandon, but soon enough the witches had to protect themselves from behind as well as in front, and the line began to falter. The battle descended into a free-for-all.

The roar of voices, the screams of dying foes, the billowing smoke, the rain, the confused melee in every direction. It was chaos. And Willow was determined to do her part.

Her spell of choice was an old favorite: the bag of knives. Except she didn’t have a bag, and the knives were conjured from air, supernaturally sharp, and launched at half the speed of sound in waves of fifty at a time. Variety was the spice of combat.

Every warrior had their own style. One young, blond-haired witch preferred chain lightning that leapt from demon to demon. Another witch, older, favored telekinesis, flinging monsters high into the air and letting gravity do the rest. Emily, Gaia bless her, was fond of the classics. She stood on a pillar of fire, meting out globes of flame like an avenging angel.

Willow searched the battlefield. There was Dawn, spraying out bullets at anything that came close. Spike and Xander stood at her back, protecting her when she reloaded. Xander was bleeding from the scalp, but he seemed okay. Head wounds usually looked worse than they were.

In the other direction she found Illyria, smashing apart demons like piñatas with her bare hands. And yes, that was Giles – standing still, looking around, seemingly idle. Unless you happened to notice that wherever he looked, a column of light stabbed down from the clouds, vaporizing anything it touched.

And still the demons kept coming.

Giles was bleeding from the shoulder, but remained standing. Others weren’t so lucky. Olga, the Slayer from the jungle base, tried to get up and clutched her leg, face contorted with pain. Marissa, one of the less experienced witches, lay motionless on the ground. Dana, the red-haired lieutenant, was fending off enemies from all sides till a claw jutted through her chest. She collapsed. Willow’s breath caught. She had never even known the woman’s real name.

She took an instinctive step in Dana’s direction, and a hot pain seared her left leg. Willow looked down and discovered to her surprise that she was bleeding too. When had that happened?

And more importantly – where, in all this madness, was Buffy?

She found her at last, still locked in her furious duel with Abaddon. Spear clashed on Scythe, ringing over and over like an angry bell. Buffy’s stomach wound had reopened, and cuts had appeared on her face and arms, but she was in full-on berserker mode now, screaming her battle cries, weapon flashing in the rain. Abaddon fought her implacably, forcing her back and back, never taking a hit.

“Buffy!” cried Willow – drowned by the roar of battle – and pressed toward her friend, gritting her teeth against the pain in her leg. Even with her magic, it was slow going, dodging one projectile or another, tripping over demon corpses, fending off enemies left and right. Finally she got close.

She charged up all her remaining magic to strike…

The medallion went dead. It had run out.

Willow clutched it in horror.

Abaddon’s spear whirled, and Buffy’s Scythe flew from her hands, burying itself in a mud puddle some distance away. Buffy staggered back, stunned. The butt of the spear smashed into her chin, and she fell.

Willow watched, helpless, as Abaddon lifted his blade over Buffy, preparing the final strike…

And then a piercing beam of pure light singed his arm, and the spear clattered to the ground.

Willow looked back to where the beam had originated. One of the witches, but who? It wasn’t Emily, and no one else was close enough to –

No.

Abaddon turned to face his attacker. She stared him down, desperate and terrible, beautiful and brave.

Tara.

He picked up his spear and strode toward her. “Rash kajzakna azhah kinava makakh.” I shall feast on the marrow of your ghost.

She replied with another blast of light. This time, Abaddon waved a hand, shattering the spell as it came. She tried again, and again, to no effect. He came to her, irresistible as the tide.

Willow rushed forward, thinking frantically. Could she call someone for help? No, there was no one close enough. Was there any useful spell she could do? Not with the tiny stream of magic she had left. Not against Abaddon.

He seized Tara by the throat and hurled her. She struggled to rise. Couldn’t. Still she glowed, her skirt and hands immaculate despite the dirt and the mud.

Willow’s heart turned inside out. Her stomach roiled, she couldn’t breathe. This couldn’t be real. It couldn’t be happening again. It couldn’t.

Abaddon sneered, lifted his weapon, ran at Tara, and leaped.

No.

No, no.

No no no NO NO NO –

Deep in her heart, Willow Rosenberg made a decision.

[Go on to chapters 27 & 28]

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