BtVS by Whedon and Mutant Enemy. Marvel U by the parent company and its many artists/writers. Amateur historical fiction, will take corrections – To fit the prompt, I'm rehashing Season One's 'Nightmares' as well as having a Season Seven cameo. I'm using a stereotypically modern structure to choose the bad guy and motive, among other things. Hopefully it's workable for this culture as well. If not, I can change it.
6. Vicuña's Search (#10:Dreams)
Sweating in the light of the sun, a young man broke off from his construction crew to get a drink of water. Bending over the clay jug, he saw, reflected in the water's surface, a bright flash of pink and green. Looking up, he caught sight of a hummingbird before it flew around a corner. Smiling faintly, he returned to quenching his thirst. The day was already cooling dramatically, as a cloud had moved to cover where he stood.
A bright flash told him that the hummingbird had returned and he looked up just in time for it to dive in close. A sudden sharp pain later, it was floating directly in front of his face, a spot of blood on its beak. After a beat spent staring into its beady eyes, the pupils a bright green, he looked down at his arm to see a trail of blood spreading beneath a small pinprick. After raising his head, he raised it higher, his mouth agape as he realized that the 'cloud' overhead was a massive swarm of small birds. Crying out, he ran.
Seeing what was coming for them, the diving birds and the young man whose arms were now coated in blood from many small wounds, the engineers scattered.
Vicuña pressed her hands to the ground, the winged indentation in the loose soil telling her what she'd been seeing all over the emperor's city. Things
were appearing, solid while they lasted, but equally quick to fade into mist, leaving nothing behind but the damage they'd done and the wounds they'd caused. When shouts rose from the district over she sprung to her feet and made for the rooftops. The passage of years had increased her skills, her freedoms and responsibilities growing with them.
Seeing the large form hanging over the wide street, she froze. Surely this must be the worst by far,
she thought, as the winged thing prepared itself for another dive.*SNIKT*
came her bone claws as she ran forward, leaping onto the feathered serpent's broad green back as it made another pass. As it banked, following a sharp turn, she climbed hand over hand until she reached its neck. The monster rose high in the air until it had to room enough to turn over and over. Knowing that if her legs slipped they'd clip a rooftop, Vicuña carefully moved forward until she was able to plunge a set of claws deep into one of its massive eyes. Wailing in pain, the serpent plunged forward to the ground. When it crashed into the road's surface at high speeds, the Chosen of the Chosen was sent tumbling end over end, giving her one last glance at the creature she'd hurt as it faded away into nothingness.
Vicuña came to a stop and shakily propped herself up on her hands and knees, her bruises already fading. She raised her head to see a white loincloth tied with long and thick blue rope. Below that were legs completely covered in black ichor. When she raised her head and found herself staring into a face of bone, a second smaller bone holding long hair back in a loose ponytail, she practically levitated to her feet, claws swinging towards the apparition.
The dark figure was just fast enough to step away out of range, speaking as it did so in a woman's voice. "Hold," it said in heavily accented Quechan. "I'm alive. This is a festival costume worn far to the north in honor of a lord of death. I'm trying to stand out enough to attract the attention of these nightmares and, seeing as one of them brought you here, it seems to be working."
Frowning, Vicuña stared into the woman's eyes as well as she could considering they were surrounded by more of the black ichor and then by the eyeholes of the 'skull.' "I think you'd be better off driving them away."
"No." The skull-woman shook her head. "They've been herding people into this district and getting larger the further in they come. The nightmares are trying to tell us something and I think I can encourage them to do so peacefully."
Sighing, Vicuña sheathed her claws. "They don't exactly seem to be listening to anyone."
"That is why we must get them to watch." Nodding, the skull-woman held out a pot filled with pigment. "Here, wear this. We're going to start a parade."
With the authority granted to her by the emperor as well as the recognition she'd earned from her years of saving lives, Vicuña was able to organize enough artisans and townspeople to pad out the small parade to a decent size. After covering a fair bit of ground, she looked to her left to see a second head emerge from a floating torso, rolling up to replace the first one. Both sets of green eyes twinkled merrily at her as she turned her head sharply away.
When the people in the parade were outnumbered by the figments, the loose and aimlessly wandering group became an organized one, making sharp turns through the streets until it came to a halt in front of a home. Vicuña tilted her head forward, hearing sobbing from inside.
Entering the house, the skull-woman at her side, Vicuña found a woman cradling a young boy of about ten who lay limply in her arms.
Blinking the tears out of her eyes, the woman looked up. A series of odd expressions crossed her face, before she returned to staring at her son's closed eyes. "Have you come to take my boy? He hasn't woke for over two days... Not and been himself. It's all we can do to get him to drink water..."
The skull-woman leaned forward to sniff at an upended cup by the bed. "Traces of poison." She shook her head.
The mother looked up and turned her head, her expression warping into horror. Vicuña followed her gaze to see an older man standing with another cup in his hand. He dropped the cup and tried to run.
"Guards," Vicuña called loudly. The few guards that had joined the small parade latched on to the man and held him for the Chosen of the Chosen to inspect. Behind her, she was barely aware of the skull-woman saying she had something that would keep the boy stable. That in time, he could even be cured.
Vicuña stared into the man's eyes. "How could you do that to your own son?"
"No son of mine," the man spat. "His father's been dead for years."
The guards, as they hauled the poisoner outside, started throwing guesses as to his fate. One of them held that he'd probably be judged as having raised the ire of the gods and thrown off a cliff for his troubles.
Vicuña smiled as the boy opened his eyes.
"Mom," he asked weakly. Fresh tears running down her face, his mother held him close.
Intently, Vicuña leaned forward to stare at the boys' odd eyes. Where the pupils should have been black they were a pure and brilliant green. "Is that a side effect of the poison?"
"No," the mother said. "They've been like that since birth."
Returning to her personal set of chambers alone that night, Vicuña froze on seeing a figure silhouetted against the stars. "How did you get in here," she asked forcibly, having recognized the skull-woman.
"Not the right question," the skull-woman said, rubbing at her hands until the ichor wore off, revealing, in the moonlight, skin pale and pinkish. As she lifted the mask from her face, Vicuña stepped backwards, her mind reeling.
This was the silhouette she'd been seeing again and again in her dreams. This was the woman who Vicuña knew
was coming to take her away. And she was here...
"I knew that was you,
" the woman said, wiping more ichor away from her face. "It couldn't be anyone else. Not to mention the claws were a dead giveaway. Slayer, you may call me the Guardian, and we don't have much time. I need to take an artifact, a weapon,
far to the North, so very far, and I can't do it alone."
Vicuña blinked in surprise as the woman held out what appeared to be a long-handled axe of red and silver metal. "What is it?"
"It has many names." The Guardian rubbed a hand across the handle. "But the important thing to know about it, is that it is yours.