Introduction And Teaser
The Emperor’s Key
Several years ago, when I wrote this originally, I hadn't much experience writing grand epics. It was an idea that simply ran out of control to a rather extreme degree. To this day it remains the darkest and, personally at least, the most disturbing story I've ever written. Still I've always been a little disappointed by it, I really think I could have done it a lot better and Now I think it's time I revisited the story. The original still exists over on Fanfiction.net but this, the Twisting the Hellmouth version, is for me the definitive edit.
For this I would like to make a couple of things clear, while in the current Warhammer timeline some of the characters in here are listed as dead I have taken the liberty of bringing them back. First of all I like them and second I think that they work well within the story and I don't want to have to change that. Another important point is that this was written shortly after the end of Angel Season 5, before the retcon that Buffy was never in Rome and that it was a double Spike and Angel witnessed.
So, for this story, season 8 and the After The Fall comic's never took place, it was Buffy in Rome and we pick up events shortly after the last episode of Angel.
I own non of the characters or background used in this story, nor do I wish to make any money from them. The owners are Mutant Enemy (Buffy) and Games Workshop (Warhammer 40,000).
Hidden deep underground, beneath a cave in Germany an ancient monolith cracked open. Runes forgotten by men and written by races long dead glowed, their blue lights dancing and chasing each other around the crack as it grew. Slowly the rent grew into a doorway and then pulled back, further and further, becoming a passage of light. Ten shadows appeared at the far end, walking towards the cave. Two, in the lead, were unlike the others. Thin and elegant they moved with an ancient grace, their sharp features and flowing robes casting ever shifting silhouettes.
One of the two, carrying a bone white staff surmounted with a crystal that cast rainbow patterns before him, turned to the other eight. "We can go no further." They said formally, their voice an almost musical whisper. "This is not our world, nor yours yet. You must find The Key and bring it back here. With haste, before the result of our folly takes it for his own."
The bulkiest of the eight hefted his oversized shoulders, his long, braided, beard caught in a unfelt wind along with a long cape ‘You have already told us this Xeno." Waving a fist they growled. "Remember that we will find this thing because the runes demand it. Not because of your foolish legends."
"Remember that you cannot destroy it or let it be destroyed. To do so would merely send it to those who seek it." The first warned him again as they stopped before the opening.
"Aye we are to be damned if we do and doubly damned if we don’t. Ha." Five bulky figures dressed head to toe in thick blue grey armour stepped out and into the cave. After a moment they carried on deeper into the darkness. The three remaining figures followed. Once they had stepped out it stared to close, sucking the light out of the darkness.
Then once again shafts of light cut into the black, each armoured warrior sending out dim search lights. As one the warriors walked on, following some unnamed instinct to the surface.
Turning down the labyrinthian maze of tunnels without a moments hesitation or doubt they found the entrance to the cave. Before leaving the mountain side their leader spoke again. "Alright Njal which way once we get out of this chaos forsaken hole."
Illuminated by searchlights two blue-grey armoured gauntlets reached for, and opened, a thick bound book from under his own cloak. Muttering a prayer to their Primarch the owner of the gauntlets opened it.
After a moment of silent prayer a large black raven climbed down from his shoulder It perched on the book, a bright red crystal and metal eye covering the side of it's face the only feature.
Its one, truly living, eye flickered from its master to the book with understanding. Screaming it rose from the book and flew up, then out of the cave and south. Towards its intended target.
"We follow Nightwing, he will guide us on wings of prophecy sped by the will of Russ." The three figures nodded and lead their warriors out into the world beyond.
As usual her big sister was off with the Immortal. Dawn rolled her eyes from the clock and back to her book. Every time she went out with that guy Dawn got a sort of sick feeling in her gut. Each time it got worse, as if the guy was complete slime.
At first she thought that it could actually have been something wrong. When she told Buffy about it the semiretired Slayer laughed it off and said that she was probably jealous and to get over it. After he had talked with her Dawn agreed that she was jealous and there was no way someone like him could be evil, but it didn’t stop her feeling it. Or feeling that little twinge of fear she felt every time he smiled at her or Buffy.
She was sitting with her back to the window So when the giant black bird cawed at her Dawn jumped. Trying to get her heart back down to her chest she turned. With a shock she saw what had to be a bionic eye unblinking and looking dead at her.
As the strange bird looked at her Dawn looked back. Almost frozen by it's unflinching gaze. The only words she could think to describe it was black and awesome. It was beautiful, a hunter and predator. Forget rats or other birds, this thing could carry whole cats off. Probably swallowing it in one mighty bite.
With another nerve shattering screech it took to wing and flew off high into the night.
For herself Buffy was deliriously happy, never once that night did she have to think of anything. No worries, no doubt, everything was perfect again. As it was every night in the immortal's bed.
Gone was the responsibility she had carried for years, her nightmares or thought itself.
She was back in heaven, as if she had never left only this time it was even more perfect. Never once did she think of Dawn, her friends or any of her past loves.
The only thing in her world right now was pleasure and a kind of joy she couldn’t describe. Every night it got better and deeper. She loved it and she almost worshipped the Immortal for giving it to her.
With Buffy's mind washed clean of thought on a nightly basis never once did she think, never once did she question.
Blinded with pleasure the Slayer didn't care as the Immortal began to rip her soul from her...