There was nothing left, no demon bodies, no dried cracked remains of blood that had been spilled, no toppled remains of friends lost and most importantly, whether good or bad, there were no piles of dust telling that a vampire had been killed in the alley. It simply could have been swept away; either by nature or man but Buffy held firmly to the small bit of hope Willow’s new spell brought her. While it had told them he was no longer in their world it did not, however say he was dead. They had no idea where Spike had been taken, but seeing the same determined looks in her friend’s and sister’s eyes, Buffy knew they would stop at nothing to bring their vampire home.
Angel furiously paced the small confines of his hotel room. He had not wanted to come back to Los Angeles, but with Buffy determined to find his undeserving grand childe he had no choice but to follow. Wisely Angel hadn’t tried to deter her from her current course of action, but had decided to wait patiently for the time when they found out Spike was truly gone. Once Buffy found this out Angel was positive she would then turn her loving gaze towards him, all thoughts of gratitude and obligation towards Spike forgotten. Angel just had to be patient.
Glancing at the clock on the nightstand next to his bed Angel picked up his key card and quickly left his room. He had a meeting to get to and he did not want to be away from Buffy for long. After all he was sure the meeting would be short and then he and Buffy could get down to the very important business of reuniting.
The soothing sound of wet stone gliding over metal was a welcome comfort to the haggard and weary ex-soldier. Einarr had spent most of his life in the service of the late King Edderon, but his purpose had been stripped from him for daring to actually care what happened to his men. Now cleaning and caring for his treasured sword was one of the few comforts Einarr had left.
Sitting on the porch of his humble cottage, Einarr took his time in caring for his sword, letting his mind wonder over projects that needed tending and crops needing to be harvested. The few cattle he kept would need to be milked again before long. The sunlight was starting to dim in the late afternoon sky and his horses needed their stalls cleaned and new hay to be layered on the ground.
Life overall, was peaceful for Einarr, save for the occasional wolf or coyote that tried to sneak onto his land. Einarr hardly missed his soldier’s life now that it was over, though he did not kept himself ignorant of the comings and goings of Ærworuld’s Free Kingdom's Alliance. Sitting at his usual table in his favorite tavern, located in the small but busy trading village Bri’Eine, usually afforded him with enough soldier and trade’s men gossip to last for months.
It was the recent rumblings of trouble brewing in the Southern realms, well beyond the Alliance borders, that had Einarr spending longer than usual with his menial task. He knew who ruled those lands; he had fought to keep that monster’s army from invading the peaceful towns dotting the landscape in the area. Those treacherous lands belonged to Ktulu, loyal servant of the Dark One, and few if any were brave enough to venture across those boarders.
Sighing, Einarr placed his sword back into its scabbard and rose. He quietly went into his bedroom and returned the weapon to it’s proper resting place on the sword pegs that ran along the side of his simple wooden bed frame; it left the weapon within easy reach in case something crept onto his property while he slept.
Picking up his work gloves, Einarr went back outside and came to a sudden stop. Sitting before his modest home was Caius, Great Dragon and unofficial leader of the dragon clans. He was one of the few beings Einarr knew that could just appear where no one had been moments before.
As a rule dragons could not teleport but instead could fly in the area between time and space, making it appear as if they had arrived out of thin air. It was apart of their inherent magic that allowed the dragons the ability to do this, and not for the first time Einarr curse this talent.
“General,” the dragon greeted, his solemn voice echoing inside the old soldier’s head, “The Father has been found and brought to our world.”
“Giles,” Buffy said, pausing to let her gaze drift over the group that had converged in Giles' room. There was enough room for Buffy, Dawn, her friends and watcher and a few of the new slayers so it was the perfect place in which to hold their meeting. Buffy still marveled at the courage the new slayers were displaying. Most of the new slayers gathered had survived Sunnydale but a few were ones who had heard of the epic battle through second hand accounts.
That had been a big surprise to the former Scoobies. When Xander had gathered all of the slayers currently located at the Council headquarters in London and told them of recent events, none of the Scoobies could have ever had guessed at would occurred next. Word had spread quickly and widely through out the slayers both near and far and they had more than enough ready to do whatever it took to find their champion. Most had never met Spike but from tales told by the Sunnydale slayers, they all felt, like Buffy had and still did, that Spike was theirs and no one messed with their champion.
“Where do we stand so far?”
“Well, as you all know,” Giles started glancing over the assembled group. “Willow’s spell confirmed for us that Spike is still alive but we simply have no idea as to where he was taken.”
“Do we know if Wolfram and Hart took him?” Dawn asked, clutching her sister’s hand tightly in her own. Her voice was strained due to her worry over Spike and part of her feared the answer she was about to receive.
“They haven’t got a clue little D,” Faith said from her place against the far wall. “We ran into a group of their goons before heading back here. They didn’t hear us coming so we got some eavesdropping done before we took ‘em out.”
“So they’re looking for him,” Willow said, a thoughtful frown marring her features. “I wonder why?”
“Isn’t it obvious?” Angel spoke up from his spot, which was as close to Buffy as he could get. “They’re only trying to find him in order to try and lure me out. It’s me they really want.”
“Right,” Dawn snorted, disgust obvious in her tone. “Like they don’t know where you are now.”
“I’m the one who took down their agents in this realm,” Angel corrected haughtily as he looked down at Dawn, obviously thinking she did not know what she was talking about.
“Then why bother looking for Spike when all they have to do is go directly after you?” Xander pointed out. “It’s not like you’re an actual threat to them anymore, what with being human and all.”
“Please!” Giles ordered, interrupting everyone before another fight could break out. “We must investigate all avenues before reaching any conclusions.”
“Watcher man is right,” Faith said glancing briefly at her former mentor in irritation. When had the strong supportive man she had known been replaced by this whiney self-serving jerk?
“Its just Spike!” Angel cried, getting tired of their continued insistence they find and possibly rescue the missing vampire.
“Lay off Peaches,” one of the new slayers ordered. It really pissed Angel off when the new girls kept insisted on calling him by Spike’s old nicknames. He suspected he had Dawn and Xander to blame for that small irritation.
“Spike’s our Champion, not you,” Vi stated, her green eyes cold as she looked over the man she considered an interloper to Spike’s rightful place in their lives.
“Girls!” Faith said, raising her voice over the din caused by Angel’s outburst. “We’ve got a champion to find.”
Opening the doors, Faith and the new girls made their way from Giles’ room. Looking over her should at her sister slayer Faith offered a reassuring smile.
“Don’t worry B, We’ll find Blondie and then you’ll be able to kick his ass for worrying everyone so much.”
Watching as Faith closed the door behind her Buffy sighed and wrapped her arms around her sister, pulling her close.
“I hope so.”
Spike was dreaming. For some strange reason he knew this without a doubt but he could not escape the nightmare images playing through out his mind. He could see a lone figure, clearly seven feet or taller and almost just as broad, standing on a hilltop before a vast army numbering into the tens of thousands. Slowly it raised its clawed hands, talons dripping with dark red blood still warm from recent killings, high in the dark stormy sky.
Lightening flashed behind it outlining its inky black wings, which looked much like those of dragons’, and gave Spike a clear view of its three writhing heads. The heads reminded Spike of the stories he’d heard about hydras but this figure had a humanoid body covered almost entirely in sickly green scales. The dirt-crusted armor covering its body only enhanced its imposing stature. Spike could see the handle and tip of a large heavy broad sword hanging at an angel along the things back. This was one weapon Spike knew could level a vast number of enemies without its wielder having to pause during an attack.
It spoke with a silky hiss as harsh winds generated by the coming storm carried its words to the very back of its assembled army. The crowd cheered and again lightening flashed through out the night sky.
Behind the massive army at the foot of the hill lies what used to be a quiet farming village. Now it burned brightly against the night sky with the bodies of its citizens scattered in the rain drenched mud, the scent of their blood still lingering in the air. Guttural cries filled the air when as one the horrid mass raised their weapons into the air and shouted “Ktulu” over and over again.
Gasping for breath he did not need, Spike‘s eyes shot open, a cold sweat covering his brow and soaking his back. Hearing the distant boom of thunder dulled due to the thick cavern walls of the Draco’s home, Spike knew with certainty what he had dreamed of had already happened. Everyone in the town was dead, and Spike had seen the monsters responsible.
Running a weary hand over his scared face, Einarr pushed dirty blonde hair from his eyes. He would have to cut his hair once more, it had gotten too long since he had no reason to keep it at a more manageable length. As it was, the long tresses were escaping the simple tie he used to hold it back. Einarr liked to avoid this chore since he could see more gray strands creeping into replace the blonde despite the fact he was barely fifty. It was a testament to his life serving in his King’s army and the many battles he had lead in order to protect the citizens of late King Edderon’s monarchy and those who lived under the Alliance.
Looking upon his old friend, Einarr sighed and placed his work gloves on the railing surrounding his porch.
“So it has begun?” Einarr asked. Seeing the dragon’s nod confirming his words, Einarr’s mind began to whirl with the implications of Caius’ statement. For years they had prayed for the return of the Father and the Key in order to permanently banish the Dark One and his servant Ktulu. They had been unable to during the Great War and the prison the Dark One was force to reside in was only a temporary fix the Free Kingdom's Alliance had spent almost a millennia trying to solve.
As time passed, and new rulers came to replace those who had fought in the Great War, the threat was summarily dismissed as someone else’s problem. They had underestimated Ktulu and his followers, but with recent stirrings along the southern boarders the Alliance had increased their efforts to a near frantic level of mass panic. Ktulu and his followers simply continued ravaged the boarder towns at their leisure, slowly spreading their evil through out the various Kingdoms that made up the Alliance and the realm of Ærworuld.
Now Caius stood before him with news that the Father had arrived in Ærworuld. Hope stirred within Einarr causing his bowed shoulders to straighten and his gray eyes to sharpen. Looking the dragon leader in the eyes, Einarr spoke clearly and with renewed conviction.
“Gather only our trusted allies. Let no one else know of the Father’s arrival. Ktulu will be determined to destroy him while the greed of some kings will drive them to try and use the Father for their own self-serving means. Give me two nights to get the cottage and animals settled and I’ll meet you on the old highway between Bri’Eine and Cavert.”
With no other words spoken the two allies went to take up their separate task. Their world’s survival depended upon them and this stranger who was prophesied to help save them. Einarr only hoped the Father could survive under the burden of his ready-made legend.
Gaiana could feel the vibrations of her world singing through her veins. Her connection to nature and the well being of Ærworuld helped keep her apprised of any imbalance in the energies surrounding her world. Right now she could feel a darkness seeping through the barriers between worlds and she knew the Dark One’s powers grew stronger. The strange flaring of light in the eastern mountain region, which housed many of the great dragon clans, brought hope to her tired heart. She had been guarding the entrance to the Gods temple for so long she could hardly remember a time before she had taken up her post.
Now she could enter and retrieve the treasure lying within. The one it was destined for had finally arrived and it was up to Gaiana to bring it to the Father. He was the only one who could use what was hidden in the temple’s depths and the time had finally come to bring the Father his birthright.
Hearing a shuffling sound Gaiana opened dark eyes, scanning the area surrounding her. Her gaze soon landed on a tall lithe figure of a leviathan, one of Ktulu’s minions. It’s leathery wings spread out behind it while gray scaly claws extended in preparation for a fight.
Eyes glowing, Gaiana stood and picked up the decorative staff lying on the ground beside her. Summoning the powers gifted to her by the Gods, Gaiana stood firm before the hideous creature.
“Try to enter and die filthy beast,” Gaiana growled low in her throat, her left hand extended, palm facing the creature. A wide toothy grin split its leathery reptilian- shaped face as it hissed its pleasure. It could taste her power in the air around them and a hunger grew within the malformed being. The leviathan would devourer the Gods Blessed One and lay claim the treasure it’s master so desperately needed.