She had gone to bring him some soup, and he waited in the dark room while she got it. He had a lot of questions, but his stomach had started screaming at him the moment she’d mentioned food, so he’d reluctantly let her go so she could get him something to eat.
Xander had so many questions. Where were they? That was a big one. The room he was in was dark, but the candlelight and the dim glow from the fireplace were enough illumination for him. It was a small room, and the walls were made of somewhat poorly cut logs and woodplanks. There was no window, and the floor was dirt. The fireplace was lined with stones and the chimney seemed to work effectively enough.
His bed wasn’t really a bed. He’d been right that it was basically a straw pallet lain over a few poorly split logs. He had lived in some fairly primitive conditions in his life, but he couldn’t ever recall seeing something like this. This wasn’t so much a room as it was a hut. The door Tara had exited out of hung poorly and creaked loudly when she swung it open, and he was sure it was going to collapse off of the rusted hinges that had been inexpertly installed. It offended his carpenter sensibilities.
There was a small cup of water on a rickety table beside his bed, and a single burning candle resting beside it. The cup looked to be fashioned out of tin, and he was dubious as to the safety of the water. He glanced over the rim of the cup and peered inside it, half-expecting to see little demons swimming around in it.
There was nothng. Just water. He sighed in relief, but then frowned as he thought about what the cup could indicate. The poorly built home, Tara’s drab and ill-fitting clothes, the cheap cup, the lack of electricity...
He wasn’t liking where this was going.
“It seems quite obvious that you’ve been transported to a different time and/or space via the portal your alternate self created,” a cultured British voice said with a scoff. “I should think that would be obvious.”
“Whoa! Jeez!” Xander exclaimed, hands reaching up to cover his head in an instinctual flinch. He peeked out from around his arm to see Wesley standing there, dressed, as ever, in his perfect white suit. He peered back at Xander.
“You’re still here,” Xander said. Had he really been expecting that he wouldn’t be?
“That implies that I was ever here to begin with,” Wesley said, rolling his eyes. “Clearly you’ve still yet to grasp the full nature of your delusions.”
“Look, what do you even want?” Xander asked, then grunted a little as his chest flared with pain. He looked down at it to see three new scars hiding amongst all the others that peppered his chest. They were barely healed in the first place, and stood out with an angry redness against the pale white of his skin and the muted pink of his other scars. He touched his finger to one of them, and felt a mild tingle of pain.
The demons. The tiny flying demons that had buzzed through his body.
No. No, that wasn’t it. They weren’t demons. They had been bullets. He’d been shot. Three times, right through the chest. He could remember the icy feeling of death that had seemed to creep up at him from those wounds. He should be dead.
He wasn’t. At least not that he could tell.
“I was merely pointing out the obvious.”
“Yeah well go do your pointiness elsewhere.”
Wesley opened his mouth to response, but that was when the door opened and Tara stepped back inside. She had a crude wooden bowl and spoon in her hand and carried it carefully over to him. Xander felt the smile slide onto his face at the sight of her, and how she was actually holding a solid object. It made him grin like an idiot.
The grin faded, however, when a man stepped through the door behind her. He was a skinny man, with tanned, almost leathery skin. His head was completely shaved, but his eyebrows were a bushy gray that were creased together in what looked to be excitement. His thin lips were formed into an O as he clapped his hands together and brought them to his face. He stared at Xander from between them. His clothes were even more drab than Tara’s, as he was dressed in a brown robe that couldn’t be any more comfortable than a burlap sack. When he spoke, his voice was as thin as the rest of him, but tinged with excitement.
“Ah, Blessed be the Slayer, he is wakened to us.”
Xander furrowed his brow and looked from the man to Tara. “The Slayer?”
“Y-yeah,” Tara said as she sat down in the rocking chair beside him. She carefully handed him the bowl, which he took with grateful, almost shaking hands. The spicy aroma of the soup filled his nostrils and his stomach growled loudly. “I-it’s a...Long story. Eat first. And eat slow, okay?”
That proved impossible, as he very nearly inhaled the soup, giving up on the spoon and simply chugging and chewing it all as fast as he could. Tara admonished him to take it slow as he did, but he simply couldn’t follow that suggestion, although when his stomach started to gurgle around the sudden warm weight in his stomach, he wondered if maybe he should have listened to her.
“His is a hunger that is great,” the old man standing behind Tara said. There was a strange look in his eyes that Xander found disturbing. It was a shining quality of curiosity and wonder that Xander was simply not used to seeing when someone was looking at him. “How cool is this?”
Xander blinked a few times. “What?”
“Oh, apologies, yes of course,” the man said, and bowed a little towards Xander, hands still clasped in front of him in what might have been prayer. “Waddip. I am Brother Jonselm of the Order of the Slayer. It is a certainty and sureness that it’s totally awesome to know you.”
Xander opened his mouth to reply, but then found himself frowning again. He looked from Jonselm to Tara. Her lips were pursed together in mild amusement. She put a hand on his arm, and he felt a smile ghost across his lips at the simple contact.
“You’ll get u-used to it,” she said. Her expression was one of mild amusement mixed with mild exasperation.
Looking skeptical, Xander turned his eye back towards Jonselm. The old man was watching him with a look of barely restrained anticipation. His hands were actually shaking.
“Uh, nice to meet you?” Xander tried.
“Ah-ha! Yes! At the longest of lasts, yes!” Jonselm stepped forward and sat at the edge of Xander’s pallet. He grabbed Xander’s hand and shook is eagerly, one hand clapping him on the shoulder. “The fear for your life was great, and yet now you are alive, with a sureness and certainty!”
“Yeah,” Xander said, awkwardly patting the back on the back. “I’m alive. Sure and certain.”
“Sure and certain,” Jonselm repeated, grinning at him. “I am totally jonesing to hear your tale, now that you are awakened to us.”
“Jonselm,” Tara said, and there was a note of disapproval in her voice. “Y-you promised to let him get c-comfortable first.”
“Ah, I am so totally sorry, Sister Tara,” Jonselm said, causing to Xander to frown at his way of speaking. “The excitement has overtaken me. My bad, of course, of course. My bad for a certainty.”
Tara sighed and looked to Xander. “How do you feel?”
“Okay...I guess. Confused, but that’s not new.” He was always confused, but this was getting to be a whole new level of confusion. “Who is this guy? Where are we?”
Tara looked from Xander to Jonselm. Their eyes met, and she nodded slowly.
“The hut of Jonselm,” Jonselm said, his voice growing a bit more subdued. “Scribe and Artifacter of the Order of the Slayers for forty years quite nearly. You are on the outskirts of Lost Angels, at the edge of the Fields.”
“The what now? With the who what? And the whozits?”
“It’s a small town,” Tara clarified. “And this is Jonselm’s house. H-he helped me take care of you.”
“As I must,” Jonselm said, his tone now deadly serious. He looked Tara in the eye with a kind of awed devotion that made Xander frown in puzzlement. “For two thousand years have we awaited your coming, and it is I who am your discoverer. I could do no less.”
“Wait, two thousand yea-?” Xander began to say, but he was distracted by the look on Tara’s face.
She wasn’t looking at Xander. Her eyes seemed fixed on the wall. No - they seemed fixed on something beyond the wall. Xander frowned and turned to look in that direction.
Caleb grinned back at him.
Xander managed to avoid spilling out of the makeshift bed and toppling the mostly empty bowl of soup over his bare chest, but he still let out a yelp and half-fell, half-scrambled away from the wall. His heart was thumping mightily, and every beat was making his chest burn. Sweat began to trickle down the sides of his face.
He expected to see Caleb when he looked back to the wall. His expectation was correct, except that instead of the solid and oh-so-lucidly-real figure of Caleb, Xander saw a floating apparition that appeared to slide slowly across the surface of the hut’s wooden interior. The ever-present wry grin was on the ghostly figure’s face, but his eyes were not focused on Xander, necessarily. They were looking hungrily from Tara, to Xander, and even to Jonselm. There was no sense of specific malice in those eyes, just a general feeling of mindless hatred and disgust.
“We have to get out of here,” Tara said. The sound of her voice seemed to cut through the unreality of Xander’s vision. He blinked and swallowed past the dryness in his mouth.
“Y-you see him too?” he asked. He wasn’t sure how he would feel if she did. Happy that he was not alone in his hallucinations? Or terrified that Tara had succumbed to his own special kind of madness?
“Them,” Tara replied in a quiet tone. “I see them.”
“Seeing?” Jonselm asked in a tremulous voice. At first Xander thought it was one of fear, but the sparkling look in his eyes as he gazed at Tara made him re-think that. Jonselm wasn’t afraid. He was awed. “You are seeing them afar and beyond obscurity? Of a sureness?”
“Yes,” said Tara. “I see them. They’re prepared to k-kill him, Jonselm.”
Now the awed look turned to an almost bashful expression. Jonselm turned to look away from her, and when he spoke, it was to the floor. “His is a life of abomination, Sister Tara.”
“It is not!” Tara shot back. “How can you say that, Jonselm?”
“Sorries, Sister Tara. My bad for a certainty. I-I would have him live, for a sureness. You know this.”
“Um, am I him?” Xander asked, raising a hand close to his head. It made his chest ache to try and raise it any higher.
“Yes,” Tara replied. She reached out and grabbed Xander’s hand. Her hand was warm and solid. He held it as gently as he could, but with a firmness he could not help. His lips twitched in a partial smile, but it died at the look in her eyes. “We have to go!”
“We do?” he asked. Tara tugged him forward and out the door to the main room of the small hut. He half-staggered after her, finding it somewhat difficult to stay on his feet. The drab brown walls of split wood seemed to spin around him as he went. The floor in the main room was nothing more than packed, dried dirt, and what little furniture within was cheap and poorly made. Xander had only a moment to take this all in, as Tara pulled him past it and out the front door.
It was dark outside. The ground was covered in lush green grass with dew that sparkled in the bright silver light of the moon. The stars above seemed as numerous and awe-inspiring as Xander had ever seen them. Their number reminded him of all the stars he’d been able to see in Africa. With no light pollution around for miles, the night sky was a brilliant collection of lights.
That was the universe up there. That was everything that had ever been, and someday it would be all that ever was. Above him were a billion times a billion nuclear furnaces, all raging defiantly against the freezing chill of space. They would burn valiantly. They would burn out. It was thrilling and it was terrifying. It filled him with hope and it filled him with despair.
“What?” Xander asked in confusion. The tugging on his arm made him stumble forward and he fell against Tara. She held him up with surprising ease. He could feel the thumping of her heart, and he could feel the rise of her bosom with every breath she took. The grin slid onto his face again. “You’re alive. You’re really alive.”
“I am,” she whispered. He watched the muscles of her neck tighten as she swallowed nervously. Her eyes flicked over his head. “Xander, we have to get away. Just for now. They know you’re awake. I don’t know how, but they know.”
“The villagers! Come on!” She twisted her body so that her arm went under his armpit and around his back. She stood up straight and held him up as best she could. He was taller than her, but he wasn’t much heavier. She began to half-drag him away from the hut.
The hut itself was situated on the top of a small hill. The village proper lay beneath it, and Xander could make out tiny flickers of torchlight from down below. It was a small village. He didn’t guess more than five-hundred people could live there, and it was as poor and delapidated as any village he’d ever seen in Africa, if not worse. Jonselm’s hut was not the exception to the poor standard of housing.
“Where are we going?” Xander asked as he and Tara reached the top of the hill and began to stumble and slide their way down the other side. There was nothing but darkness and shadow in that direction.
“Away from there. Just for a little while. J-Jonselm will calm them down.”
“Calm them down? What’d we ever do to them?”
“Nothing. Nothing, Xander. They’re just afraid. Their beliefs...They...”
She’d paused to look at him in the moonlight, and he’d taken the opportunity to try and force a little more air into his burning lungs. For a moment she looked as if she was going to say something more, but then the sound of muffled shouting reached their ears. Tara let out a little growling whimper and urged them onward.
They made it ten steps before a dark shape leaped out of the shadows and tackled them.
They tumbled down together and rolled several feet down the hill. Tara was screaming his name and Xander was just screaming as they went. The thing that had slammed into them had arms and legs and a whole body that was getting tangled up with them as they rolled. A hand smacked Xander across the side of his head. A foot scraped against his shoulder. He elbowed someone in the hip.
Finally they came to a sliding halt and Xander was left panting on the ground. His chest was burning and his eye was watering. He could hardly breathe.
“Leave him alone!” he heard Tara yell.
“Ahh! Offa me! Offa me!” someone else cried. The voice was deeper than Tara’s. A man’s voice. The man grunted and Tara let out a squealing cry. The sound of something thudding into the ground reached Xander’s ears, and he heard Tara grunt and cough.
Xander tried to sit up to see what was happening, but two hands gripped his forearms and hauled him up to his feet. He dangled somewhat lifelessly in the man’s grip, his arms in the air and the man holding his wrists easily. Xander blinked and looked into a dirty face filled with disgust. It was a man’s face. He had a wide face with a crooked and squashed nose. His eyes were set just a little too closely together and his breath was as bad as anything Xander had ever smelled.
“Is a horror for a certainty,” the man said, grimacing at Xander. “Abomination, you are.”
“What’d you-” Xander began, but the last word turned into a breathless croak and he was forced to suck in more air before continuing. “Do with Tara?”
“Shut it, lamer. You’re onna path for death, and you ain’t like to quicken that none, wouldja?”
“Lamer?” Xander muttered. “What?”
The man just sneered at Xander and looked back over his shoulder. “Ho! Here! Got the both of ‘em!”
Xander looked up to where the man was shouting and saw several figures lining the top of the hill. They held torches in their hands, and the flickering firelight was beginning to reveal more and more figures.
“They mean to kill you,” Wesley said from Xander’s left. “I do hope you’ve realized that.”
“What am I, Frankenstein? Lemme go!”
Xander twisted in the man’s grip and tried to pull away, but the man swung a knee up into Xander’s midsection, causing Xander to gasp and stars to flash in front of his eye. The stars burned defiantly against the coming ice, and Xander wanted to weep for each one as they died out.
When he could think again, when he could breathe again, he was on his knees on the grass and gasping for air. The grass was no longer green, but a sickly flickering brown. The firelight from the torches all around him was casting a strange orange tint over the world. The world was on fire.
The world was fire.
“Oh God,” Xander gasped. “I’m in hell. I’m actually in hell.”
“Silence, Abomination!” a voice called out. It was followed by several others. Cries of “Abomination!” and “Horror!” echoed through the night. Someone grabbed him by the back of his neck and pulled him up. He let out another croaking gasp.
“Wh-Who are you people?” Xander asked. He was on his knees, back straight and with a thick hand around his neck.
“Good people,” a woman’s voice rang out. “We see! We see!”
“Yes! We see!” many others chorused in response.
“I’m happy for you,” Xander replied. His voice was not much more than a mumbling rasp. His eye rolled back in his head for a moment as he struggled not to pass out. A few people gasped. He swallowed hard and tried to concentrate.
Tara. Where was Tara?
“Tara!” he croaked. “Tara? Where’s Tara?”
A ring of people surrounded him. Most of them held torches, and those who didn’t held simple weapons like clubs and pitchforks. One had a sword, but it was dented and blunted to the point of uselessness. There was malice in every set of eyes, but that malice was hiding true fear.
“His death must come!” someone called out. “We should kill him!”
“I told you,” Wesley said.
“Not helping!” Xander snapped at him. He looked around frantically, and thought he could make out the form of Tara lying unconscious (he hoped it was just unconscious) on the ground. The sight of her caused his heart to drop into his stomach. He kicked out at the man holding him, catching him in the midsection. The man grunted and loosened his grip enough for Xander to fall free.
Xander fell into a half-crouch and then lurched towards Tara. Several hands grabbed his arms and hauled him away from her.
“Let me go! She’s hurt!”
“No! No!” A new voice cried out. No. An old voice. Jonselm. “You must stop this!”
“Shut it, Jonselm! He is Abomination! The law is for his death!”
Jonselm’s bony figure forced itself through the crowd. Xander was struggling weakly in an attempt to get to Tara, but he could not break free. “Jonselm! Help her! She’s hurt!”
Jonselm’s eyes widened and his face paled. He nearly threw himself towards Tara. “No! Oh, Seer, no! What is this thing you have done?” He put his hand to her forehead and then put his ear to her chest. His look of abject fear lessened slightly. “Not dead. But nearly so! How can you all be doing this? Do you not understand who she is?”
“A demon!” someone yelled.
“Guardian of Abominations!”
“No!” Jonselm cried. Tears were streaming down his cheeks as he cradled Tara in his arms, pulling her into a sitting position. “No, fools! All of you, fools! She is the One! She is the Seer!”
Silence settled over them.
“Madness,” someone whispered. It was echoed by someone else, louder this time. “Madness!”
“No!” Jonselm screamed. It was a high, hysterical scream. “She is The One Who Sees All! The One Who Sees Everything! She is the Seer, come to wake the Slayers and save our world!”
“Old madman!” cried the man who had grabbed Xander by the arms earlier. He stalked towards Jonselm and grabbed him by the folds of his robe. Jonselm let out a frantic cry as he was pulled away from Tara, who slumped lifelessly to the floor. “The Seer is not a woman. This, we all know.”
“She is! I have seen it! She sees afar and with great knowing! She sees the Auras and the Lines! She sees the truths and the powers around us! Hear me, my friends, my families! Hear me! She is the One!”
“Blasphemy!” the man snarled, and backhanded Jonselm across the face. “You die with the Abomination.”
The man threw Jonselm back against several members of the crowd. Then held him by the arms and kept him from lunging back towards the big man. Then the man stepped up to the villager with the sword, holding out his hand. The villager placed it in his hand, and the big man turned to point the tip at Jonselm.
“You die with him.” He swept the sword around towards Tara. “And your False Seer with you. For a certainty and a sureness, Jonselm. Your blasphemy will not call the Legion upon us.”
“Not blasphemy,” Jonselm babbled. “For a sureness, Edrig. For a sureness. Please. You mustn’t.”
The man, Edrig, sneered at Jonselm and stepped over to Tara. “A woman Seer. Yours is a terrible madness, Jonselm.”
“No!” Xander screamed. “Leave her alone!”
Edrig’s eyes turned to Xander. “Silence, Abomination.”
“No, you silence!” Xander spat back in a petulant, if not altogether coherent response. “You silence right the hell up!”
“Maybe we do not wait for the trials,” Edrig said with a snarl. The others around him murmured and muttered to themselves as he stepped closer to Xander, the blunted sword still held in one hand. In Edrig’s large hands and with his powerful build, it was still a deadly weapon. “Maybe now is the time of your death.”
“Try it,” Xander whispered. “Go ahead. I dare you. I double dare you. I double dog dare you! I triple dipple dog dare you! Try it! I dueled Death, pal! I went mano-y-vampano with Harmony! I got sizzled by the most powerful witch this side of the West! You think you’re going to be the one to kill me? No way, Jose. Never gonna happen. You know why?”
Edrig’s eyes narrowed. He raised the sword to point it at Xander’s throat. “No.”
“Don’t you know?” Xander asked, staring at the sword. A slow smile spread on his face as a fat little demon walked up the length of the blade and stood precariously on the edge. It grinned at Xander with a mouthful of tiny little fangs, then gave him the thumbs-up. Xander’s eye went up to meet Edrig’s. “I’m loco
in the cabeza
Edrig just frowned back at him.
“Now, Fatty!” Xander yelled. Fatty suddenly kicked his pudgy little legs out from under him and sat hard on the flat of the blade. Edrig let out a cry of surprise as the sword was suddenly knocked out of his hands. Xander wrenched his arms forward. His left arm was held firmly by the crowd, but he managed to pull his right arm free. He held it out towards the sword. Under his breath he muttered, “Don’t back-talk me, just get over here.”
The sword flipped once and flew towards Xander. The hilt smacked into his palm and he closed his finger around it. With an angry cry of frustration, Xander swung the sword around towards his left at the villagers holding his other arm. Despite the battered quality of the sword, they all instinctively jumped back from it, letting him go. This caused Xander to lose his balance and stagger forward. He did so while swinging the sword around in a wild arc, screaming at everyone to get back.
One of the villagers, a young man in a filthy brown tunic, lunged towards Xander. Xander flailed back, swinging the sword at him in a clumsy arc. The flat of the blade smacked across the man’s face and he stumbled over before falling onto his side, groaning and holding his head.
Whirling around, Xander swept the blade out in front of him as he completed a full circle, forcing the villagers away from him, Tara, and Jonselm. “Stay back! I know how to use this thing!”
“You tell ‘em!” the sword called out in response. Xander’s eye widened and he looked down at the blade. Two eyes and a quirked-mouth had formed just above the hilt. “Only, could we stop spinnin’ so much? I’m gettin’ awful dizzy.”
“You be quiet,” Xander hissed. Then he looked back up to the crowd. “And you people stay back!”
The crowd stood away from him, but they still formed a tight circle around him. Edrig stepped forward again, eyes narrowed in Xander’s direction. Xander pointed the sword at him, but his hands were shaking. His chest was on fire.
“Who are you people?” Xander demanded. “Where am I? What did I ever do to any of you?”
His chest burned. His eye burned. Torchlight flickered all around him. He was surrounded by a ring of fire.
“It starts in fire,” Xander whispered to himself as his eye darted from torch to torch. Was it just starting now? Was this the beginning? It had felt like the end, but now he wasn’t so sure. It starts in fire. It ends in ice.
“You do not quote the Seer to us, Abomination!” Edrig screamed, spittle flying from his lips. “You will bring the Legion upon us!” He charged at Xander, seemingly insane with anger and fear. Xander swung the sword towards him but Edrig ducked under it and barreled into Xander’s midsection.
Something popped in Xander’s chest. He felt blood seeping down his chest, but he had no time to pay attention to it as he was tackled to the ground. Old instinct kicked in and he rolled over pushing off from Edrig with all the pathetic force his muscles could exert. He managed to push himself away from Edrig, but he rolled towards the other villagers, colliding into them in a tangle of body parts. Someone fell on top of him before Xander rolled several more yards down the hill, his fall forcing him out of the circle of villagers.
His chest was fire, and when he looked up he saw the flames of the torches. They were blending together with the rest of the villagers, and suddenly Xander knew it was not a mob of angry villagers coming after him, it was a giant conflagration of fire.
“It starts in fire,” he whispered to himself again. He scrambled up to his feet and tried to back away, but he kept stumbling down the hill. “It starts in fire. It starts in fire. It starts in fire. Oh god. It starts in fire!”
He didn’t know how the words escaped past his lips. His lungs were not lungs, they were a furnace spitting out embers. He clutched his chest with one hand as he backed clumsily away from the huge crowd of flames that came for him.
“Stay back!” he yelled, throwing his hand out towards the flames. A familiar sound ignited past Xander’s ear, and one of the flames - one of the villagers - dropped away, unconscious. Xander looked to his right to find Boba Fett standing there, helmet on and blaster out. The bounty hunter’s head turned to look at Xander. His expression was as unreadable as ever.
“Boba?” Xander asked. Boba Fett said nothing. Swallowing hard, Xander tried, “Anya?”
Still nothing. Then the blaster fired twice more, and Xander looked back to see two more of the flames drop to the ground and fade back into villagers.
“Stop!” Xander yelled to them. He had to clutch at his chest with one hand. The fire was too strong. It was all fire. It was all flames. It was all starting, because it was all fire. He had to tell them, didn’t he? He had to let them know it was all starting. He didn’t know what it was, but he knew it was starting. He tried to suck in air to yell again, but the fire ignited in his chest and he had to drop to his knees. His head lolled down, his chin pressing against the top of his chest. He couldn’t move. He couldn’t think. It was all fire.
Someone grabbed him by his hair and lifted his head up. Xander stared up at the flames that held him.
“It starts in fire,” he told the flame. “It starts in fire.”
“There will be no trials for you,” the Edrig-Flame told Xander. “Trials need not tell us what we See. You are Abomination, sure and certain. For that, you must die.”
“B-but...It starts in fire,” Xander said, staring up at him. “Don’t you - ah - don’t you understand? It starts in fire!”
Edrig’s snarling face faded into flames. His cocked-back fist faded into flames. Everything faded into flames.
Edrig punched him hard with a right cross against his cheek. Xander slumped backwards onto the grass. For a moment there was nothing. Then there were the flames.
“Too late,” he whispered.
Screams erupted in the night. Great gouts of orange flame rolled across the sky. Xander looked up to see Edrig look slowly over his shoulder. Then there came a terrible belching sound that reverberated through Xander’s entire body.
The flames came a moment later. Xander covered his face with his arms and screamed as the heat singed at him. An instant later Boba Fett was on top of Xander, hunched over with his back to the flames spraying out towards them. The heat sizzled at Xander’s flesh, and he screamed as he found himself momentarily certain that he was back in the interrogation room. Sure and certain.
Then the flames died away. Xander looked up to see Boba Fett’s inexpressive helmet looking back down at him.
“Ahn?” Xander asked again. Boba Fett just stared back at him for a moment before rolling off of him. Xander frowned and sat up. There, on the grass in front of him lay the smoking and charred remains of Edrig. Xander stared at the charred corpse for a moment before he struggled dizzily to his feet. There were people screaming all around him. The night had been replaced by a flickering orange nightmare.
He looked up. The villagers were running screaming in all directions. His sword, fallen away from him when Edrig had tackled him, was a melted and ruined mess. The grass all around them was singed or burned completely away.
And there, on the top of the hill, was the start.
There, on the top of the hill, was a giant toad.
And it was made of fire.
“All right,” Xander said, flexing his fingers and curling them into fists. He began to walk purposefully up the hill. The burning sensation in his chest was all but forgotten. The giant toad, at least thirty-feet in height and bigger than Jonselm’s hut, turned one bulbous eye of red-hot flame towards Xander. It let out another belch of flame into the night sky, then turned its entire huge body towards him.
“That’s right, Kermit,” Xander whispered. “Let’s you and me have a chat. My crazy’s got something it wants to say to you.”
The toad ribbited.
Fear not, child: the dark of night.
Fear not, mother: the vampire’s bite.
Fear not, father: the Legion’s might.
For all three tremble ‘neath his sight.
The Seer walks, the darkness fades.
The Slayers wake, so tremble, shades.
The Seer lives, they hear his call.
The Slayers fight, the Gate shall fall.
Fear not, child, the Mouth of Hell.
Fear not, mother, Sarandini’s Bell.
Fear not, father, the watchman’s yell.
The Seer returns.
And so all is well.END - SEE NOIR EVIL
THE START - SIGHTS UNSEED