Everything either belongs to Joss or it should, no infringement is intended and no profit is to be made. When you get right down to it I’m not really worth suing anyway unless you want a share of an underpaid civil servants wages and it just wouldn’t be worth the hassle trust me.Motel - Five Miles Southeast of Sunnydale – May 2003
The smell of ozone in the air was getting stronger and stronger as energy crackled around and between them. Willow could feel the static discharge starting to make loose strands of her hair stand on end, that’s one thing they don’t tend to mention in the films, if you’re going to get into a Mage-Fight hairspray is essential. It’s hard to look menacing and all-powerful when you look like you’re connected to a Van der Graaf Generator.
Willow threw a momentarily envious glance at Illyria, she’d kill to be able to look the part so effortlessly. The Old One just had a look, almost an aura about her that simply said “I am not to be trifled with” if you were going to be polite, or perhaps “don’t fuck with me” might be closer to the mark.
Vail had an aura too, an actual one that Willow could almost reach out and touch with her mind. It screamed of power, ancient knowledge and arcane magic and to her considerable disquiet Willow recognised much of it from her own brushes with the darkness. Vail was far more focused though, he had centuries of practice and far more practical experience at this sort of thing, it was mildly concerning but at least she knew her own aura would be equally disconcerting to Vail, it was howling the cry of enormous energies into the ether. Willow lacked the subtleties of the warlock's finely honed skills but she more than made up for it by sheer wattage.
‘If the warlock somehow defeats you’ Illyria told Willow, although keeping her eyes directed firmly at Glory, ‘I will avenge your death and scatter his ashes over your grave’ she declared.
‘You’d have to defeat me first’ Glory pointed out.
‘If you think that’s remotely in question you are more deluded than I thought’ Illyria retorted. ‘I am only standing here waiting for you to make the first move in the hope you will accept my previous offer and submit to my dominion over you’ she said.
Glory laughed. ‘Would you
submit to me?’ she asked, brandishing her improvised weapon above her head slowly rotating it, the four yard long steel pole doing a fair impression of a helicopter as the HellGod tried to look a more intimidating opponent.
‘No, but I would not have yielded to Buffy as you did before either’ Illyria replied. ‘Your defeat is inevitable, it is a matter of willpower even more than strength and skill’ the God-King told her. ‘You are not prepared to die to win and I am’ she declared, raising her own ludicrously oversized sword above her head in a two handed high-guard stance.
Vail inwardly grimaced. He wondered idly if the witch would be willing to swap gods before he decided to get the show on the road and began to charge an elemental fireball in his right hand, the ball of magically created flame growing in size and intensity as he mouthed the required incantation.
Less than ten yards away Willow responded in kind and began to generate a ball of energy in her own hand, this one a blue sphere of ball lightning, plasma rather than fire, brute force rather than long-practiced elemental fury. The two of them levitated just above the ground, their eyes locked on each other, seconds stretching to eternity as both charged their mystic weaponry to higher and higher levels. Willow felt her hand start to shake and it began to hurt but she was damned if she’d blink first, the more that was thrown into the first proper shot the better. These weren’t the kind of wimpy magicks you’d throw at a human, this was the kind of firepower that Vail had used to knock Illyria to her knees.
The four combatants eyed each other, Illyria and Glory facing each other on the North side of the Courtyard and Willow and Vail to the South. Someone would have to make the first move, who was it going to be?
Illyria would have bet her blue-sapphire bracelet it would be Glory and she was proved right as the HellGod made a leap forward and sent the flagpole smashing towards the Old One who smoothly bought her sword to block, the pole ricocheting off with a metallic clang.
Willow had broken eye contact for a split second when Glory made her move and Vail took the opportunity to launch his fireball which streaked across the gap between them and vented its fury across the mystic shield she was projecting.
The witch was pushed back by the surprise impact but instantly gathered her wits and fired her own weapon back, the blue ball crackling through the air and sending tiny forks of lightning in all directions when it hit Vails’ own protective barrier. It was actually stronger than his own but he was more ready to receive it and he stood his ground more successfully when it hit. ‘So much for reputation’ Vail sneered as he prepared another mystical projectile.
Sparks of a different kind were an issue between Glory and Illyria as the two demonic deities duelled with their oversized metal weapons. The God-King was content to parry away repeated attacks as Glory launched a flurry of attempted blows at her. What was really starting to annoy the HellGod already was the condescending smirk on Illyria's face as she countered the attacks. The idea she was being mocked was simply unacceptable and it drove Glory into putting greater and greater effort into her blows and she got faster and faster, already way beyond human reaction times, or even slayer, but still not yet using her full power.
Vail had followed up his first strike with a series of repeated blows, firing balls of supernatural flame one after the other as fast as he could generate them, trying to overwhelm the witch while she was still on the back foot from the first blow, pummelling her with relatively low-intensity fireballs while she continued to try both to maintain her shield and charge her own weapons. Lightning crackled intermittently between them as the fields of energy surrounding both grew and started to interfere with each other more and more.
Willow began to wonder if she’d bitten off more than she could chew as she deflected and absorbed fireball after fireball. It was one thing to know everything there was to know about boxing from reading a book but it was no substitute for actual sparring in the ring. Vail had done this before but Willow’s only real experience was a few rounds with Giles and the borrowed power which he hadn’t really known how to use to its full potential. She knew she could punch like Mike Tyson in mystical terms but she was being jabbed to distraction by a theoretically weaker opponent and she just wasn’t getting the opportunity to retaliate properly. Vail didn’t let up for a second he just kept up the pressure, looking for weaknesses, he had the advantage and he wasn’t going to give it up.
The young red-haired witch was holding her ground, and she was still fighting back, but mentally she was already on the ropes, when it came right down to it Willow was basically too nice a person for this, she didn’t want to kill anyone, she tried not to step on bugs for pity's sake. It was like having a pacifist flying a helicopter gunship, the death and destruction are right there waiting to be unleashed but they just can’t bring themselves to push the button.
Willow threw another ball of lightning then tried a more “conventional” fireball, neither having much effect, she tried using telekinesis to slam Vail into one of the motel buildings but he had that power himself and blocked her.
A little voice in the back of her mind stopped whispering at her from the darkness, as it always did, and started screaming instead. You are going to die
, it said, stop your whimpering and let me out, it bellowed, let me
out if you can’t do this yourself, it told her. Willow was too nice a person for this, Dark
Willow on the other hand…
A sudden massive blow of telekinetic force slammed into Vail and drove him back at least five yards, he had to stop throwing fireballs in order to stabilise himself and his psychic barriers. The blow had been brutal in its intensity, the power came from the girl but it felt different somehow and not just in its effectiveness, generating that blow would have been agonising for her, but in doing so she had hurt him
too and she had enjoyed
it. Her own pain from channelling that much force at once was irrelevant, she just wanted to cause him a bit of pain too. The warlock stared at her in surprise, it was as if someone had flicked a switch and swapped her personality for that of a serial killer.
‘Okay you prick’ Willow growled, hair and eyes shifting to jet black, ‘let’s go’ she said, with a savage grin appearing on her face, her skin suddenly so pale her veins stood out beneath it.
The witch had let her alter-ego out to play, the little voice that was now in the background was the ordinary Willow and it was temporarily content to sit back and watch the fireworks while the Dark Side of the Rosenberg force put the hurt on a demon warlock. She hoped she could wrest the controls back afterwards, and if not she hoped Illyria would chop off her head instead.
Illyria smiled as she parried again, the witch had let her inner self out to play and the Old One could sense the change in power and the way it resonated. Vail was about to get a spanking, as Gunn might say, and it was high time to chastise Glory too.
The God-King had been keeping her distance but now she moved to the offensive and after parrying the metal pole one more time she moved forward to bring her oversized sword crashing down on the HellGod's head.
Glory bought the flagpole up defensively like a quarter-staff to attempt to block the blow but it was utterly futile. Illyria’s “sword” was basically a thousand pound sharpened steel bar and with the God-Kings full force behind it, it buckled the pole instantly, most of the force continuing on so that, although Glory managed to move slightly to prevent the sword slamming into the top of her head, it still impacted with her shoulder with a jarring blow. It didn’t cut her, but having an Old One batter you with a girder still stung a bit. Glory dropped the broken pole and looked at Illyria wincing slightly from the impact. ‘I’m unarmed’ she said, ‘going to put that down and fight hand to hand?’ she suggested hopefully. ‘Don’t you have some kind of warrior ethic or something?’
‘If I had a gun powerful enough I’d just shoot you’ Illyria replied flatly and started swinging her sword again.
Vail was being pushed back relentlessly using all his power to shield himself, there was nothing left over available to fire back. Willow had given up on both her own psychic barriers and levitation and was simply walking towards him laughing manically firing blue spheres of plasma from each hand, one after the other taking a leaf from Vail’s own book. It had about as much finesse as being clubbed about the head incessantly with a hammer, all power no control, but it was getting the job done as the warlock tried to regain the initiative but couldn’t manage it.
‘You can’t keep that up for long’ Vail shouted at her. ‘You’ll burn up like a moth in the flame using that much energy’ he said with certainty.
‘I’ll die for the win will you?’ Willow yelled back, firing again and again. Battering his defences down by brute force, ball lightning impacting again and again on the barriers he was trying to maintain. ‘Well you’ll die when I win, that’s for certain anyhow’ she told him. ‘I’m just deciding how much I’m going to make it hurt first?’ she declared. ‘If you’re lucky
I’ll just flay you alive and roll you in salt for a while then rip your head off’ she said. ‘Of course I’ll probably be more creative’ she added with a predatory grin.
Glory caught the sword as it arced towards her again, blocking the half ton of steel with her palms. Even for a HellGod that was damn painful, the shock of the impact vibrated down her arms and set her teeth on edge. She couldn’t maintain her grip and Illyria pulled it free of her hands again. ‘You’re weakening’ Illyria told her. ‘No time for breakfast this morning?’ she asked, readying another blow. She had already struck many and if Glory had thought getting punched and kicked by Illyria had been painful before, having the Old One clout her with an I-Beam was, needless to say, much worse. The damn thing must have been enchanted because otherwise it would have at least bent slightly by now, as it was it was as sturdy as ever.
Glory glared at her opponent. It was barely past dawn, she hadn’t had the opportunity to feed and she knew that Ben would be making an appearance eventually and that as soon as he did the Old One would tear him apart and possibly eat the remains. The denizens of the Primordium were still remembered for their strange dietary habits, they could consume and digest almost anything though it was often done in symbolic victory rather than base hunger. ‘Why don’t you fight fair?’ Glory asked, dodging the next sword strike by performing a shoulder roll to the side.
‘Because I’m not a complete imbecile’ Illyria replied, moving to have another go, swinging the huge weapon around with ease and this time connecting with Glory’s side as she tried to get back up after the roll. The blow knocked the HellGod back to the ground hard where she had to roll again, this time flat on the ground, to avoid a downwards thrust aimed at her torso. ‘I can keep doing this all day, or for eternity if required’ Illyria told her. ‘How long can you stand to be hit?’ she asked rhetorically and began to lay into Glory again and again using the sword almost like a club, pounding her repeatedly around the body, causing her grounded opponent to have to shield herself as best she could from the blows.
Vail finally managed to get off another fireball which caught an unprotected Willow hard and crashed her to the ground. He tried to follow it up but he was getting weak and by the time he could generate another she was back on her feet and simply caught it in the air. While he watched she played with it between her hands then simply fired it off into the sky ‘Nice toy but I prefer my own’ she said and delivered a massive fireball several times as powerful straight into him. The heat coming off it was such that even through his, admittedly weakened, protective shield it still blackened his clothing.
Willow looked at her hands, she had burned her own skin doing it, oh well no biggy she thought and began to generate another as the smell of her own burnt flesh filled her nostrils. Vail was starting to get close to the edge by now, he couldn’t see a way out of this and if she was willing to go this far he didn’t want to know what was going to happen to him when his power gave out and she started to play with him. Vail could imagine very dark things, had done several of them to people himself, unfortunately he was also therefore able to imagine them being done to him
and that chilled him to the core. If this witch bitch was really one of the good guys then he was a goddamn duck, he thought, she was a weapon that could shift the balance of power completely if it was wielded by someone with the brains and ruthlessness to do it properly.
The witch fired another fireball, I'll really need plenty of moisturising cream after this, Willow thought, ignoring the pain from her increasingly charred hands.
Back on her feet and wincing from injuries all over her body Glory became a blur and crashed into Illyria before the God-King could slow the passage of time, it didn’t help too much though as she tried grappling by grabbing Illyria around the waist and got the hilt of the sword crashing into the back of her skull in response, both of them falling to the ground but Glory the more stunned of the pair.
Illyria used the hilt of the sword again and started punching it viciously into Glory’s face before she could regain her wits. The HellGod had only just recovered from the onslaught of punches and headbutts from their last fight and the pain of having her face smashed in again was almost unbearable, it effected her vanity almost as much as her increasingly shaky sense of being truly a deity.
The Old One got back to her feet and after raining more sword blows to break the last of her resolve then threw it aside before bending down to pick Glory up by the hair, holding her up with her left hand while slapping her around the face with her right. It was humiliation as much as anything else, psychological victory over a foe being sweeter than merely physical when the foe was such as this.
Vail's barriers fell, he closed his eyes and waited for the next ball of energy that would end his life but instead he found himself grabbed mentally and sent hurtling back to bounce off a motel wall. Instead of landing in a heap he was slammed into it again and again by the witches telekinetic power, she was trying to break him up internally he knew, already physically frail he knew he wouldn’t survive much of this kind of treatment then as if by a miracle it suddenly stopped.
A howling noise began as Vail was dropped to the ground. He opened his eyes and looked at the witch who was staring at a point just above him, he raised his gaze higher and could see a portal opening over his head. The Senior Partners had decided to intervene, in an instant he felt himself get pulled upwards and into the vortex, escaping the fight.
‘Assholes’ Willow screamed at the portal which closed up behind him. They must have really valued the son-of-a-bitch to expend the energy needed to do that she reasoned.
Hanging limply by her hair in Illyria’s grasp Glory looked around as best she could. Bleeding heavily from numerous wounds the drips of her blood falling to the ground were frequent enough that they were starting to pool. The God-King smirked ‘I don’t think they’re interested in saving you
’ she told Glory smugly.
‘Too much power needed to take me through a portal like that anyhow’ Glory coughed. ‘They’d never manage it after what they did with the seal.’
Illyria frowned. ‘What did they do with the seal?’ she demanded to know.
Glory spat blood on the ground. ‘Just finish it’ she said.
Willow walked over. ‘Kill the bitch’ she said. ‘Or I could do it’ she offered.
The God-King ignored the witch and let Glory go, letting her fall to her knees. ‘You still
to die’ the God-King told her defeated adversary.
Glory looked up at Illyria and began to cry, her tears mixing with the blood on her face. Then with surprising suddenness the HellGod lowered her chin to look down at the ground and prostrated herself arms outstretched. ‘Accept me into your service’ she offered submissively, her blood and tears falling like rain.
‘Oh you have got to be shitting me’ the black haired witch responded coldly. ‘Cut her fucking head off’ she said, with an edge to her voice.
Illyria looked down at Glory then to Willow. ‘But then how would I be God to a God once again?’ she asked, looking down at her vanquished foe with a look of triumph. ‘Oh yes’ she added and punched out Willow, sending her spinning away unconscious. ‘Can’t have an evil witch running loose causing trouble’ she said reasonably. ‘You’ll thank me for that when you wake up’ she informed the witch.
‘You can approach now’ Illyria called out loudly to those that had been watching from a distance. ‘I’ve got a new pet’ she added happily, looking down at the distraught and broken HellGod again. ‘I’ll give you a day to heal before I let them use you as a punching-bag in training’ she told Glory generously. ‘Might be worth steering clear of Buffy though’ she warned. ‘She will likely need considerable persuading not to decapitate you on principle’ she continued, ‘her slayer scythe is more than adequate for the task’ the God-King remarked.
‘My life sucks’ Glory said resignedly. It was an assertion hard to dismiss given the circumstances.
‘Mine’s going very well, even better than I planned’ Illyria told her brightly, though somehow Glory was less than comforted by that.