(BtVS/Stardust) Beyond the Wal
Disclaimer: I'm poor. I own nothing
Notes: Just something I wrote up after watching the movie 'Stardust' the other day. One of the rare occasions that I enjoyed the movie version more than the book. Fans of both will notice the influence of both though. Mainly in Una, who had her appearance taken from the books but her meeting with Tony from the movie.
Beyond the Wall
Anthony Harris wasn't a bad young man. A little mischievous, or perhaps, more accurately, restless, but certainly not bad. At barely nineteen he was a young dreamer craving adventure. If he had known he lived on a Hellmouth, that every time he ventured from his home at night was an act of risk and danger and adventure of the unknown sort, perhaps this story would have reached an ending before a beginning was found.
This, for better or worse, was something Tony was ignorant of, so our story continues. But we're getting ahead of ourselves. To understand what is to come one must first understand what has already come to pass.
Since time unmemorable, long before the town that would eventually be known as Sunnydale came to be, there existed a stone wall running as far as the eye could see from one way to the next. It's origins, as such things tend to be, are mysterious and lost to time, but its power, well even the first to settle the land could feel that. Fore this simple stone wall represents the barrier between this world and another. A world of magic and myth; the greatest of heroes and the most horrifying of monsters. A world forever apart from our own.
Or so it was once thought at least.
One day, long past the time when the most long lived witness could bare tell, a crack appeared in the stone and then a portion of the wall fell away. The gap left in its place was large enough for two of the broadest of men to pass through shoulder to shoulder with room to spare. And pass through people did. From both sides, though few stayed in their respective strange lands.
Soon though, a tradition was started. Once every nine years, starting long before this land would be discovered
and settled, people would travel in pilgrimage to the wall. For one day and one night both sides would set up a market for trade, exchanging goods and knowledge not found in the other world.
Then, after many years of peaceful trade, a sorcerer came and changed everything. Through dark pacts with powerful evils best not described, lest you draw their attention, the land was tainted with darkness. The taint grew to such heights that a powerful Hellmouth miles away and under the ocean closed, only to open again upon land, not far from the wall itself. Demons and the corrupt flocked to the newly accessible portal.
The cunning sorcerer then built atop this Hellmouth a town, deceptively bright and welcoming and peaceful. A trap for those desperate or courageous enough to seek a better life. All in preparation for the day his pact would come to fruition and a great and terrible power would be his.
From the day this man arrived there would be no more markets nor trade nor peace.
But, as we said, young Tony knew none of this and he approached the gap in the wall at a determined pace early one evening. His thoughts were only on the adventure of it all, of old and vague stories of another world, strange and unknown. Tales he would soon discover were not merely the stories he believed them to be.
There was a guard at the gap in the wall, as there always was. Logically Tony thought that there were many working in shifts, though he could not recall any others beyond the ancient looking man before him. To Tony the fact that such an old man could be considered a guard was just more proof that the tales were not real. What could an old man truly guard against anyway? Tony was indeed showing his ignorance this night.
“Anthony, is that you?” the guard asked squinting in the light of his old fashioned lantern.
Tony grinned and waved as he came to stand before him. “Hi Mr. Samuels, nice night isn't it?”
“You shouldn't be all the way out here this late. This is a dangerous place at night,” Mr. Samuels said. “What brings you out here anyway?”
“I'm going through the wall,” Tony said with all the mislaid surety of youth. To be fair, Tony did have reason beyond simply youth for his confidence. Arthur Samuels had been close with the Harris family since long before Tony could remember. He had even heard tales of Arthur and his grandfather, though he could not remember any in detail.
“There's danger beyond this wall, boy.” It was a line Tony had heard many times and very nearly rolled his eyes at the predictability of it.
“You know what I see beyond that wall?” Tony asked, not waiting for an answer. “More trees. No dangers, no monsters, just trees.”
“This wall has been guarded since the foundation of this town. In all that time nothing and no one has passed through. That's not about to change now son.”
“I could simply climb the wall,” Tony pointed out.
Mr. Samuels pointedly raised an bushy eyebrow at the youth. “Have you ever tried?” he asked with amusement Tony didn't understand. “Go home Anthony. There is nothing for you out here.”
“Alright Mr. Samuels,” Tony said as he turned away. “You're right. I wasn't thinking.”
Arthur patted the young man on his back and said, “Go on son. I'm sure your pretty young Jessica would love to see you.”
But Tony was not listening. The moment he had the old guard distracted he turned back to the wall and ran. There was no way Mr. Samuels could catch him now if he did have some trick up his sleeve for trespassers. Tony had been a star athlete in high school and thought there was no way that an old man could catch him at a full sprint.
What Tony didn't know was that Arthur Samuels could easily have stopped him. To do so would have risked injury to the boy, and that was something Arthur could not bring himself to do. His friendship with the Harris family was the last link he had to a life he had long since given up.
Another choice that, had it gone different, would have brought this story to a rather abrupt end.
When Tony crossed through the gap in the wall he came across a dense forest of what seemed like, at least to Tony's limited experience in such things, impossibly tall trees. This was odd since the trees went far higher than the wall itself and Tony couldn't recall ever having seen a forest on the other side.
Regardless he was determined to see his adventure through and pressed on through the trees. Pushing his way through dense foliage he eventually came to a mostly overgrown trail. As he followed the path to wherever it may lead Tony allowed his mind to wonder to his beautiful Jessica LaVelle.
Tony still couldn't believe she had agreed to be his wife. Beautiful, smart, and with a mischievous streak almost as large as his, Jessica was his perfect match and Tony knew it. It was just that with the wedding fast approaching, a steady nine to five he started Monday at his uncle's car lot, and talk of starting a family of their own, Tony wanted at least one more adventure before settling down.
He hadn't expected to find a mysterious forest on the other side of the wall. Tony had only chose to cross it for the thrill of doing what nobody else had and not out of any belief in the rumours he barely paid any attention to.
If Tony had not been expecting the forest then what he found when he came out the other side was something he was completely unprepared for. To his credit, young Tony did not let that shock stop him and made his way down a small hill toward an eclectic array of tents, wagons, and stone and wooden buildings with barely a pause in his step.
It was a market town, but unlike anything Tony had ever seen before – or truly, had been seen since the days the sorcerer had first built his town. To Tony it seemed almost like some sort of Renaissance fair, but closer to something out of one of those fantasy novels his brother Rory likes to read.
Everywhere he looked people were peddling their wares. Most seemed innocent enough, like simple clothes or spices. He'd thought the baskets were normal too, until he saw the seller stick his entire arm inside a basket that should not have went beyond his wrist.
Things only got stranger from there for young Tony. There were animals of every sort for sale, some Tony couldn't even begin to describe, like some creature about the size of a small dog that resembled a two head elephant. Further on he came to a stall filled with small crystal figurines that were incredible lifelike in their detail. A crystal cat caught his eye as he browsed the wares. Jessica always had a thing for cats. Tony reached out to pick it up when the figure suddenly came to life and started rubbing against his outstretched fingers, purring the whole time.
Surprised Tony pulled his hand back and laughed before moving on and stared in wonder at the strange sights he never would have dared dream of before this night. He made it through the entire market and reached the outskirts on the other side when he came across a lone yellow wagon sitting a ways from the rest.
Now on a normal day even our young Tony would have wondered why such an inviting wagon was set apart from the rest, but this day was anything but normal. Perhaps it was the call of one last adventure; Perhaps it had something to do with that strange smelling blue smoke spilling thickly from the tent next to the figurine seller; Perhaps it was simply the surrealism of it all, the dreamlike haze of the first encounter with the unknown.
Regardless of what it was, Tony was drawn to the wagon and thus another cog in the machine of fate turned.
Tony found a small stand next to the wagon that was covered in flowers, but not of the normal sort. These were flowers made of fine crystal and so intricately detailed he could have sworn they were grown rather than blown to shape. Jessica would love them.
Then there was a rustle of fabric and all thoughts of his beloved Jessica fled from Tony's mind. Indeed, thoughts of most anything left him. All he could focus on was the seductive sway of feminine hips as they approached. As they stopped before him Tony's eyes flitted up to the woman's face only for a casual shrug to send the shawl off the woman's shoulders and Tony's eyes followed it down, the falling piece of fabric somehow emphasizing every curve beneath the long green dress.
“See anything that you like?” a playful voice asked and Tony's gaze flew up to meet a pair of deep violet eyes that danced with amusement that matched her playful grin. Curling black locks hung several inches past her shoulders, nearly hiding the gently slanted catlike ears dusted with a fine dark fur.
Such an obviously abnormal trait should have startled him. Given his inexperience with such things, fear or repulsion would not have been unexpected. He felt neither. They were, in his opinion, somewhat cute. It only made her seem more beautiful, exotic in a way.
“Umm, definitely,” Tony said without thinking. His eyes widened when she smiled and laughed, but not unkindly. He started to babble on, though the slight reddening of her cheeks did not go completely unnoticed by him. “I mean- What I me- What I meant was 'how much for this one?' The blue ones?”
“They might be the colour of you hair, or they might be all of your memories before you were three. I can check if you like?” She smiled as she spoke and shook her head at him. “Anyway, you shouldn't buy the blue belles.” She slowly reached down and plucked a small white flower from the dirt they were all set in and held it out to him. “Buy this one instead. A snowdrop. It will bring you luck.”
Unsure if the prices she had given were playful, truth, or even possible, Tony asked, “But, what does that cost?”
“This one,” she said seriously. “This one costs a kiss.”
Then she reached across and tucked the snowdrop in his pocket. With enchanting violet eyes closed she tilted her head and tapped her cheek. Tony eagerly leaned forward to meet her and just as his lips grazed her cheek she turned and Tony met her own. The kiss was slow and sweet and full of promise.
Lost in the kiss Tony moved to follow as she pulled back, but a hand on his chest stopped him and Tony opened eyes he hadn't even realized he had closed. The smile she gave him managed to be both demure and oh so wicked at the same time as she beckoned him with finger to follow.
He was all too eager to comply and by the time he had rounded the stand she was already climbing the wagon's steps. A glint of silver halted his steps and he followed the path of a slender silver chain running from the wagon to the enchanting woman's ankle.
Turning she caught his gaze and smiled sadly. “I'm a princess, tricked into being a witch's slave. Will you liberate me?”
Without hesitating Tony bent and gathered a bundle of chain in his hands. It wasn't too strong. Fairly weak material really. So Tony pulled out his pocket knife and easily cut through a couple layers of the chain only to watch in amazement as the cut ends twisted of their own accord and reattached even as a small length remain separate in his hands.
“It's an enchanted chain. I'll only be free when she dies. Sorry.”
Why she was apologizing to him Tony didn't know, she was the one in slavery after all, but the pained look he sent her told her he sympathized. “If I can't free you, then what do you want with me?
And just like that the sadness was again replaced with that wicked small and there was a fire behind her violet eyes as she reached for him. Without a word Tony took her hand and allowed her to pull him inside. She carefully checked all directions before closing the door and taking him into her arms. Any sounds of passion that escaped the wagon that night were covered by the bustle of the market town.
All too soon morning came and Tony crossed back through the gap in the wall. The old guard was still there but made no move to stop him or even speak. All he did was rake Tony with a disapproving gaze as he passed.
Normally Tony would have gone to his friends to brag how he, as far as he knew, was the only one to have crossed the wall. But Tony could not bring himself to do that this time. Instead he headed for home, more certain than ever in his love for Jessica and that he wanted to spend the rest of his life with her. He had had his wild, fantastic adventure and that was enough to last him a lifetime. He would never betray her again.
And if he sometimes dreamt of violet eyes, well, that would be his secret.
Or so Tony had thought at least, but fate has a way of interfering with the best of plans.
In the months following his encounter with the woman from beyond the wall things had gone remarkably well for Tony. His wedding had been beautiful, everything Jessica had dreamt it to be and they started their lives together with an easy, loving companionship born of years of friendship before becoming lovers. He had taken to his job as a salesman surprisingly well and earned himself several large commissions in a short time, enough for a down payment on that house Jessica liked. Then came the night Jessica told him she was pregnant. He had never been happier in his life.
And as he left his glowing wife to answer the banging at the front door the smile never left his face. Then he opened it.
Mr. Samuels stood in the doorway, a disappointed look on his face as he held out a basket for Tony to take, a baby sleeping peacefully inside.
“The Mayor's office is handling the legalities and paperwork,” Mr. Samuels assured. “Everything will be finished by morning.”
Tony opened his mouth to speak but the older man spoke up first. “He was found at the gap. The note explains everything.” With that Mr. Samuels turned and started to walk away before pausing. “His name is Alexander.”
And this, my friends, this is where our story truly begins.