The Black Halo
Disclaimer: I own nothing. The end. Buffy belong to Joss. King Arthur belongs to Touchstone Pictures. The song lyrics are The Black Halo by Kamelot, I don't own them. The title of the story is also taken from this song as it is basically the theme of the entire story.
A/N: This story is going to be a Dawn/Lancelot. I know there's a lot of information presented in this chapter, but please, bear with me as I try and lay a plot out.Come wind
I have resigned myself to death
Come will to show the hidden hand
So I can draw my final breath
You could take me higher
So you said and I trusted you
I may be a liar, but betrayal lies on you
I can feel when the journey ends
Final call for a last defense
Darkness come tonight
I have no fear of what you hold
Darkness come alive
You are the stories I've been told
I possess the power
Of survival in the cold
Life is like a flower
As it stumbles out of fall
We all know when our time has come
This is where I will linger on
Darkness come tonight
I have no fear of what you hold
Darkness come alive
You are the stories I've been told
Darkness come tonight
Nothing can take my faith away
Darkness come alive
Life fades to black from silver grey
Scotland, a place of rolling green hills, yummy accents and vampires that never. Fucking. Quit. Scotland vampires had to be the most determined pieces of demonic trash that Dawn Summers had ever fought against. Not counting the Turok-Han vampires, of course, because those were in a league of their own. An evil, annoyingly resistant to Slayer strength league. Dawn was not a slayer – technically. In fact, not too long ago, Dawn had been a normal girl...as normal a girl as one could be when you were the living embodiment of a mystical green ball of energy. Then came the final battle of Sunnydale, the Turok-Han vampires, the potential Slayers and the Scythe that changed everyone's life. The battle had been hard fought and won, but not without casualties and certainly not without life altering happenings. Willow had taken the Scythe above the Hellmouth and she'd used it to unlock the Slayer's power. All the girls in the world that had the potential to become a Slayer, was
a Slayer. What no one was expecting, however, was the changes that happened to Dawn.
Dawn had fought along side Xander during the Final Battle for Sunnydale. What good that was going to do either of them, Dawn could never be certain, because neither of them were very strong, nor very gifted in fighting. They could have at least been paired with someone that was, instead of sealing their fates as 'We suck. We're going to die.' That hadn't been the case, however. There had been, standing, ready to fight, or...as ready as two Zeppos could be in big, certain death battle. Dawn had been filled to the brim with fear, big, boot shaking fear that had her gripping her sword until her knuckles were white. Then the Turoks had come and Xander had taken the first swing. They grabbed Xander and Dawn, with her quick thinking, grabbed the rope that was holding up a tarp blocking sunlight and pulled it down. Sun spilled into the hallway and the Turoks went up in flame. The victory didn't last long however, because more poured into the hallway, taking the place of their fallen brethren.
What Dawn felt then was unlike anything she'd ever felt before. It was like something had come to life inside of her. Like her blood had started pumping like it was supposed to. She felt an overwhelming power well up inside of her and with a sharp battle cry, she'd lunged at the vampires, swinging her sword wildly. After the battle was over, she'd confronted Willow about what had happened to her and they'd sat down and worked out a solution. Their solution was not one that Buffy was particularly pleased with, but had come to accept nonetheless. The only plausible solution Willow and Dawn together could think of all trailed back to the Dagon Monks and their nefarious meddling in other people's lives.
Dawn was made from Buffy. The Monks had stolen some of her blood to create a body for the Key and to create a link to be able to insert memories and familial ties. The Monks had know that Buffy was the Slayer, they knew what Slayer blood meant for the Key and Willow was smug in the knowledge that her Potential Spell hadn't been wrong at all, it had just been sheer luck that Amanda had also been there as well. What the Monks figured, however, was that they'd made Dawn just old enough to be out of Potential range. They figured that Buffy would not expire for years to come and that Dawn's potential would not be called upon by the Powers. It wouldn't have been either, except for the spell that Willow had done to unlock the Potential in all girls around the world.
There would have been no possible way that the Powers would have called on the potential in Dawn because the power of the Slayer had infused with the power of the Key, diluting it with Magic. The Power of the Key, Dawn had come to learn through extensive testing and rigorous spell work, was a pure source of magic. It was innocent, pure innocence. Which was why it tore down dimensional walls when attempting to open hell dimensions, that's not what the Key was made for and it fought back, it didn't want to be associated with evil. The Slayers power had been drawn from demons, they knew that as much from the Shadow Puppet play presented to them. The pure Power of the Key had sought to expel the demonic forces layered into the Slayers blood, but it had only managed to dilute the effect. Meaning that when Dawn's Potential had been Called by Willow's spell and the Scythe, she was only partly Slayer. Slayer-lite, as Willow had jokingly called it. Diet Slayer. The bad part about all of this, however, was that since the Key had been working so hard to evacuate the demon in the Slayer, it had infused with the Slayer's blood. Thus, when the power of the Slayer had been awoken, so had the Power of the Key.
The Key was older than anything anyone had ever seen, even older than the Old One's, the very first demons to walk the earth. It predated written text and as Glory had once told her, it had been around since just this side of forever. You didn't get to be that old without having some pretty big mojo backing you up. Dawn's magic was sketchy at best, uncontrollable at worst ever since she'd been awoken. She'd spent two years in training with Willow, the Coven in Devon, Buffy, the other Slayers. Everyone with any power that she'd ever come across was working their asses off to help her find a way to control herself. She found her savior in the most unlikely of places. That savior came to her in the form of Illyria, the Old One that had taken over the body of Winifred Burkle. Illyria had been stunned to see her, had immediately seen her for what she really was, and had bowed her head to a being far older than she. When the predicament had been explained, Illyria immediately tasked herself in training Dawn and it had been going far better than any witch could have hoped. For Willow and the Devon coven, they took their magics from the Earth and nature itself. Beings like Dawn and Illyria, they had an innate magic that was woven into their very cores, it was just a part of them and it was very different to use.
This was, of course, how she'd found herself in Dumfries and Galloway, holed up on Hadrian's Wall with Illyria and some newbie Slayers. “They're still out there,” Yvanna said fearfully, peaking out of a window in an old crumbling tower.
“Get away from the window, stupid mortal,” Illyria snapped disdainfully, yanking the poor raven-haired girl back by her collar. The girl released a soft yelp and stumbled backward, catching herself gracefully before turning a dark glare on the Old One.
“Of course they're still out there,” Dawn retorted, casting an illusion spell against the wall so that she could see through while still being safely on the other side of the room. “We've got three slayers in here plus two of the most power beings on the planet. I'm surprised they're not drooling on themselves” she scoffed.
“Why must we hide,” Illyria growled, lips curling back in disgust. “I could kill all these filthy bloodsuckers with the might of my glare if I wished it!” she sneered “You, Key, you could kill them standing from right here, you have the power. Why are we hiding like rats?”
“Patience, Old One,” Dawn clenched her teeth together, narrowing her eyes at Illyria at the use of her given title of 'Key'. For as much as these two worked together, some figured that they would get along. Dawn and Illyria both pointed out that they hadn't killed the other and thus, they got along just fine. “I'm tired of killing a few of them and then having to come back and start all over again. If we wait in here, pretend they've got us scared, then we can draw out the rest of the nest, hopefully draw out the leader and be done with it.”
“I'm not pretending,” Yvanna pointed out.
these vampires?” Kylie asked, curled in a corner and nursing a broken arm that had been nearly shattered.
Dawn sucked in a deep breath. “Old. Maybe fifteen hundred years, they're powerful – there's no denying that. These are no Fledgling vampires that we're dealing with.”
Dierdre sucked in a sharp breath and brought a hand to her throat, as though the air couldn't get through. “Fifteen hundred years?” she choked, casting a wary glance over her shoulder and to the night. “That's...impossible.”
“Nothing is impossible, Slayer,” Illyria sneered “one would think you would have realized that upon being dragged into this world. I, myself, am thousands of years old. The Key is older than I am. Impossible is a word that does not exist in our world.”
Dawn felt a headache building behind her eyes and released the illusion spell on the wall. “Let it go, Illyria,” she signed heavily. “They are new, they don't know.”
“Don't know what?” Yvanna questioned, most eager to learn about her new duties as a Slayer.
“This land is old, thus it will have much older forces” Dawn answered, sinking down to sit against the wall.
“How long will we be here for?” Kylie asked, looking pointedly down at her ruined arm.
“As long as it takes to draw them out,” Dawn retorted firmly. “You should stay here for the fight, I can guarantee that it will be tonight.”
That put a silence over the entire room as they waited for a sign that the fight was ready to commence. Dawn took that time to examine her surroundings. What they were in looked like it might have once been a bedchamber , it just felt
like a bedchamber to Dawn. She ran her hand along the floor where she was sitting, as though expecting to find an indentation of a bed somewhere. What she did feel, however, was a bump. This would not have caught someone else's notice, where they walking along the floor, but to an observer like Dawn, it was strange. She trailed her fingers over the bump again and then pushed it down. It fell into an opening and she immediately hooked her finger under the board and lifted it up.
Dawn had always been too curious for her own good. It was something that Buffy had endlessly complained about. But Dawn was a knowledge seeker and if there was something that she didn't know, it frustrated her and she snooped until she did. A secret in Hadrian's Wall that had never been found was something that piqued Dawn's interest so much, she stuck her hand into the hiding place and pulled out what was inside. It took her a moment to comprehend that she was holding a tiny thatched box, it was very old, and very worn and it felt like it was going to fall apart in her fingers if she wasn't careful. Dawn slowly lifted the lid of it. The first thing she saw was a crude wooden carving of a horse. But it wasn't the horse that had made her gasp, and clutch the beast in her hand until she could swallow her heart again. It wasn't the horse that made her dizzy with lack of oxygen and fear. It was the name written on the horse in crooked, capital letters in an ancient language that Dawn could decipher only because of her extensive background in dead language research. It clearly and plainly said “DAWN” and that was almost too much for her mind to handle.
“What is it?” Illyria questioned “what have you found?”
“N-nothing! Nothing!” Dawn hastily responded, heart racing fast in her chest, so fast it felt as thought it were going to pound right through the ribcage and escape. “I found this in the floor, it's...nothing, just a carving,” she murmured, caressing the wooden horse with her fingertips. The wood was old and rotted, eaten through by time and insects, but it was still beautiful and she could still plainly see her name.
Illyria, as always, did not believe a word and came to sit with her, warning the other three girls off with a glare promising death and pain if they so much as listened in. The girls complied and scurried to the other side of the room, huddling together and talking so as to drown out the two women. “I have seen many fights with you, Dawn,” Illyria stated, staring out the window. “Before this time and now. We respect each other, do we not?”
“We do,” Dawn answered shakily.
“Then tell me what it is you have in your hand,” Illyria responded “it must be more than a mere trinket if you've reacted as you have. Tell me, what is it?”
“It's a horse,” Dawn answered, holding it out for the Demon King to see and swallowed heavily “It's a horse with my name on it.”
“Dawn is not such an uncommon name, is it?” Illyria questioned, arching an eyebrow.
“For as old as Hadrian's wall is? For as old as this room is? For as old as this carving is? Yes,” Dawn nodded “yes, it is uncommon. Dawn is an English name, used in English speaking countries. When Hadrian's wall was used...English hadn't even been invented yet.” She shuddered at the thought.
Illyria nodded in thoughtful contemplation. “There is more in the box,” she jerked her head towards the thatched box.
Dawn looked down into the box slowly and saw a piece of parchment rolled up and flattened to the bottom. She swallowed heavily and, with a shaking hand, pulled the paper out and began to unfurl it. Her eyes ticked over the words and as the seconds passed, the color in her face drained away, her mouth dried and her breathing stopped. “Oh...my...Goddess,” Dawn whispered.
“What is it?” Illyria demanded “what did you read?”
“Give me a moment to collect my thoughts” Dawn pleaded of the Old One, dropping her head on to her knees and taking a couple deep breaths. Once she regained her composure, she lifted her head, eyes fixed on the parchment clutched between her fingers. “It says here 'Dawn. If you're reading this, then I have failed in my task. I could not stop the vampires and they have killed me. The Key has been released into the Ether so that the process can be started all over again. This is our purpose, this is our power. The vampires you are about to face were not meant to be vampires, we must stop them, we cannot fail again. I cannot tell you more because it is forbidden of me, you must choose your own path and hopefully you will choose it right. I have suffered loss, but I do not regret my decisions. Only the one that has killed me. We have been born again, I am a past life if you will, hopefully my mistakes will guide you down the right path. Don't forget to tell Buffy you love her, please. - Dawn.”
Illyria remained silent. That was one thing that Dawn appreciated about the Old One. She didn't waste time with unnecessary words. If she had nothing solid to say, she didn't fill the silence with flighty words, she didn't waste time on meaningless comfort. Illyria placed a hand on Dawn's shoulder, bowed her head slightly and stood. Making her way across the room to her previous seat with a hard, contemplative look on her face. Dawn knew that she was mulling over the information that she had just been given from letter that Dawn had obviously written to herself many years ago. Dawn could barely digest the information, herself. These vampires that were waiting outside for them, these ancient vampires – they weren't supposed to be there. The Powers had somehow let them slip through their fingers and it was a screw-up that none of them could fix without the Key's power. It was obvious to Dawn that the Powers had set everything into motion for the Key to reach this point in time, as a human. It was enough to make her head hurt. Time and Space had never been her strongest point, that was Willow's forte and Dawn was happy to let her have it. All Dawn knew at that moment was that she'd gone back in time, she'd failed, her spirit was reborn into what she was now and the process was to repeat itself so that she could try again, if the letter was an indication of what she should be expecting. Dawn's mind swam fitfully.
“This body is entirely too human for my liking,” Illyria complained for what felt like the billionth time since Dawn had known her. “I feel weariness take my mind.”
“Then go to sleep,” Dawn snapped, agitation plainly written on her face, but not for the Demon King before her.
“Old Ones do not sleep,” the Demon King growled “I will be rejuvenated once the sun rises.”
“Then stop bitching,” Dawn retorted.
“You dare to take that tone with me, Key?” Illyria snarled, rounding on the lithe brunette.
Dawn surged to her feet, her glare steely, but her power stamped down under shaky control. “I'll take whichever tone I wish, Old One,” she answered, eyes narrowed.
“Here we go,” Dierdre grumbled, slinking backward to escape the damage sure to be caused.
“Do not think that just because I recognize you as the Key that you hold any power over me, young one. You are still human and mortal,” Illyria said in a dead calm voice, her posture rigid and her shoulders squared.
“Last I checked, you were human as well,” Dawn challenged.
is human,” she spat the word “I am something far greater; my strength and power proves it.”
“I have strength and power too.”
“You are no match for me, Key.”
“Shouldn't we maybe save our ire for those waiting outside?” Kylie suggested hopefully. “You know, the ancient vampire sect that would gladly rip us apart and drain us dry?”
Dawn and Illyria both turned heated glares on the new Slayer and she shrunk back fearfully. “She is right,” Illyria replied, voice laced with barely concealed disgust. “Should we wish to release our anger, let us do it in the direction of these bloodsucking beasts. With me?”
“As always,” Dawn smirked, clasping forearms with Illyria as they both turned towards the window and waved their free hands. The wall burst outward and they were left standing in the open, faced with practically an army of ancient vampires.
Yvanna let out a particularly loud, frightened yelp of surprise and hurriedly pushed herself against the wall, covering her mouth, eyes so wide they were like to pop out of her head. Dierdre jumped away from the wall as it exploded and then nearly fell over as she took in the sheer number of vampires before her. Kylie groaned and dropped her head onto her knees, there was no way she could help them fight, not with her arm.
“Their numbers have swelled,” Illyria noted.
“Looks like,” Dawn answered, eyes ticking around the army.
“I wish to do them harm.”
“All in good time, my dear Old One, all in good time,” a smile danced lightly across her lips.
“What are we waiting for?” Illyria questioned, not harshly, but curiously.
“The opportune moment,” Dawn answered smugly. Their arms were still clasped and slowly, Dawn released her grip. Illyria did the same and they both raised their arms in front of them. “This army will die for the lives they have taken. For the horrors and destruction they have rained down upon men and demon alike.”
“Well said,” Illyria bent her head with a smirk.
“Buffy and her team approaches from the south, I've contacted Willow mentally, they approach from the east.” Dawn informed her.
“I hate being the diversion,” Yvanna whimpered from the back of the room.
“Silence your pathetic crying, mortal” Illyria hissed in displeasure. “Are you not comforted by the fact that the two most powerful beings protect you?”
Dawn's heart pumped with adrenaline, but not fear. Staring out into the cold yellow eyes of the army before her, she didn't feel and ounce of fear because she knew her power and she knew of Illyria's power. She knew of the armies headed their way. She was comforted in the knowledge that this would be a battle won and not a battle that stood on the edge of a knife like all the others she'd fought. Silently, Dawn cast a spell to improve her eyesight and peered to the South and to the East. “I see Willow,” Dawn said blankly. “Buffy can't be far behind,” she ended the spell and turned to Illyria. “We fight.”
“At last!” Illyria cried joyfully. Before Dawn could say another word, she'd leaped from the tower, landed in a crouch on the ground and then sprung at the army of vampires with her teeth bared angrily.
Dawn followed behind her quickly, not waiting to see whether the newbie Slayers were following her or not. Let them cower if that's what they wanted. Dawn and Illyria could cover for their lack of activeness. She needn't have worried however, because Dierdre quickly ran past her, dipping and dodging through vampires, laughing loudly as they lunged for her and missed. Yvanna was less enthusiastic with her plight and had engaged one of the closet vamps in hand to hand with a determined look. Understandably, Kylie was still up in the tower. Illyria was using her inhuman strength to tear the heads off of vampires, or using her fist to punch through to the heart. Dawn was using her magic, casting spells but keeping a tight hold on her control. She knew it was dangerous to use magic in the heat of battle, knew of how thin her control was, knew how powerful she could become. One slip in control could destroy every living and undead thing on that hill top. She had to be careful.
Willow's team and Buffy's team were still a couple miles away, that gave them time to pick off some of the army before the reinforcements arrived. She clapped her hands together, sending a shock wave through the army and then whirled around as a shrill scream of pain pierced the air. She looked just in time to see Yvanna dragged into a small cluster a vampires, a pair of teeth already sunk into her neck. She twitched helplessly for a moment before her eyes glazed and became dull. Dawn had barely had a chance to move before the girl had been devoured and her life stolen. She felt her eyes narrow and her control shake. A second later, after a muttered word and a swift clap of her hands, the vampires exploded right before her eyes and dust rained down on Yvanna's mutilated corpse. The first casualty of the night. Dawn feared there would be many more before they could claim victory.