In Which the Key Departs and Dawn Meets the Powers
Chapter Three: In Which the Key Departs and Dawn Meets the Powers
Disclaimer: I don't own Buffy or LotR
“Wakey, wakey little Shell,” sing-songed a vaguely familiar sonorous and yet still tinkling voice.
Dawn rolled onto her back and groaned softly.
“Don’t be ridiculous little soul, it doesn’t hurt anymore,” laughed the voice.
And as soon as she processed that statement it really didn’t and she didn’t know why. She opened her eyes slowly and for a minute she was blinded by gold, and then white, and then it faded into dusky purple and a bright green glow that coalesced very quickly into a familiar figure. A girl of about eighteen with amorphous features, sometimes beautiful beyond belief, sometimes animalistic, sometimes plain, sometimes elderly, sometimes babyish, mostly Dawn just saw her own face.
“You’ve left quite a mark on me little soul; you’re the first soul I’ve harbored since I was a Grecian oracle,” laughed the woman-child.
“My name is Dawn,” Dawn said annoyed.
The woman-child laughed lightly.
“You know very little, little soul…but that is to be expected and I still love you,” cried the woman-child gaily.
She leaned forward and Dawn gasped as the impression of a sisterly hug, a motherly hug, a warm hug, a cold hug, a bear hug, a lover’s hug all skittered across her very being in the space of a heartbeat.
“Holy Shit,” she breathed out.
The woman-child threw back her head long hair flowing in a non-existent breeze as she laughed uproariously.
“You have so much to learn little soul,” she said still chuckling.
“Who are you? Where am I? What happened? How…how did you do that?” Dawn breathed out trying to stand and failing miserably…it was like she couldn’t find her legs.
The woman’s face immediately sloughed off most of her former impishness and suddenly grew sympathetic and morphed into a mother’s face.
“Oh silly little soul, I am the Key, all the energy you have been carrying around inside you for the seven years of your life…it was me and this is a nexus, a small one, the Powers want to talk to you little soul, you are much more than they ever expected and you’ve kept me safe for a very long time. Here there are no boundaries of thought and skin and gravity and physics here will is enough for anything…if you are strong enough and have the blessing of the Powers,”
“The…The…Powers…The Powers that Be?” Dawn gasped wide eyed.
“That is how you know them,” the Key agreed with a grin.
“I’m going to meet the actual Powers that Be,” Dawn confirmed.
“In a sense, they will be confined to a Shell, no being can be released in a level that is too small for their power or too large, in the former they require a Shell, in the latter case a guide and a boat load of experience and preparation. I’ve been outside my energy circle before, it was…terrifying, the scariest thing I’ve ever done,” reminisced the Key with a happy sigh.
Dawn was beginning to see that the Key was almost always happy, laughing, and cheerful.
“And what happens when you’re unleashed, on Earth without a Shell,” Dawn asked gravely.
She smiled sadly.
“My energy is meant to open doors, I was called down from the second highest energy level for that specific purpose and made sentient, I am the equivalent of a soul magnified but when I am activated on the Earthen and Hell planes I expand far and fast and I open every single door I touch, whether I want to or not,” the Key explained, “I should not be used, not on any plane below this one. To do that means destruction until my Shell is dead and I am pulled into the nexus and I wait for those dear monks to bring me back, a new Shell, a new protector, and as many lives as I can live,”
“What do you wear when you’re not in a human…shell?”
“A gem usually, sometimes the monks get whimsical and make me a flower or a weapon of some kind,” shrugged the Key.
“Don’t tell her too much Key, the knowledge could be very dangerous where she is going,” said another voice.
This voice was totally unfamiliar and while it had the same sonorous quality about it, it was sexless and ageless and cold, impartial and calculated, unfeeling and uncaring.
“Take care of yourself little soul as you have taken such good care of me,” said the Key giving her a kiss that slid across her very being and left her breathless, “I won’t forget you, as long as I exist so will you and the memories of your sacrifice and your sisters’,” she promised serious though still smiling.
“And I will keep your secret until the End of Days,” Dawn vowed clumsily sending her own warm, loving hug over to the Key.
“Thank you, little soul,”
She threw the newcomer a flirtatious wink before disappearing into the purple mist with the pronounced hip filled swagger of a powerful woman and a toss of her green amorphous hair.
Once the Key had disappeared Dawn turned to look at the newcomer.
“So, you are the Powers that Be,”
“That is what you call us, yes,” said the Powers, Dawn got the impression of many voices blended together to create this one voice.
The shell they wore was a smooth and sexless as the voice. Mostly human shaped and the color of mirrored silver with no identifying features. The body was broad shouldered and long legged with a trim waist and long white hair the face was smooth and there was no mouth, only two empty eye sockets that were black as starless space and just as empty of life.
“The Key said you wanted to talk to me,” Dawn prompted after a long few minutes of deafening silence.
“Human souls, so impatient and too curious by far, you are children; all of you lower beings in all the worlds contained in the universe,” said the Powers emotionlessly.
Dawn got the impression from their halting speech that they were unused to using her dialect unlike the Key who had been sharing space with her for the past seven years and knew Dawn’s language and all of the languages Dawn knew like the back of her hand. Thus chastised she waited for the Powers to speak in their own time and fell into a kind of trance-like state as time crept by and nothing changed in the nexus. It swirled neutral and purple avoiding the shell of the Powers as much as it possibly could. It was disconcerting to see nothing but black where the purple mist refused to go.
“We have called you here to reward you lower being, we are…fond…of the Key, she is the best creation a lower being has called forth from the upper levels. You have also been kind and helpful to the line of Sineya and stood firm against our enemy. We are obliged to give you something in return. We sent the lower being to you to kill your Shell that we may give you your Gift,”
Dawn didn’t know what to say. On the one hand these were the beings that had caused her so much pain, caused so many people so much grief, all the Slayers past present and future and all the Champions of Light, all their Messengers.
“We know you thoughts Summer’s Dawn but we are not concerned with happiness. Our concern is the well-being of all our worlds and there are many to look after. Our concern is that discord is not spread to the upper levels, as is the duty of all the Guardians of Worlds. We are the Guardians of this one; we owe you our debt nothing more,”
“Death was Buffy’s Gift, what’s mine?”
“Your Gift is life, a perfect contrast. A new world, a new Shell, a clean slate, and most importantly for you we know a new set of Guardians to answer to. We will make you flesh of your own and you will be able to make memories of your own, a childhood, true friendship, and love…all things that mean more to you than anything else. That is why you are a soul and not merely a magical impression imprinted on the Key. That is how you became the perfect protector. What say you?”
“Alright…do it, what have I got to lose?” Dawn shrugged weakly.