"What do we do now?" asked Willow.
"Prepare a teleportation spell, quickly," Xander said quietly.
Willow nodded and began chanting softly, as did Jill who stood to Xander's left. Xander looked back to where Faith was fighting Buffy and was glad to see that she had Buffy on her knees. He then looked to where Tara was kneeling, surrounded by black and purple strands of magic. Her hair was flying about wildly and her body was shaking badly. He looked back to where Valnon stood, still waiting for his answer.
"Ready?" he asked. Willow and Jill nodded, both knowing what he wanted to do.
He stepped forward and made it look as if he was about to speak and then quickly knelt as Jill and Willow let loose the spells. Dawn vanished and reappeared next to Giles. However, the magic didn't manage to reach Anya before a black field appeared in front of her.
"Her death is on your hands, Sorcerer," Valnon roared as he nodded to one of the vampires holding the former vengeance demon, who then sunk it's fangs into her neck. Dawn turned away quickly as the vamp then snapped Anya's neck. Xander's anger rose through him like a hurricane and he unleashed a huge ball of magic at the smiling vampires, causing all of them, bar the one closest to Valnon, to explode.
The magic around Tara grew in intensity and began to expand. Her complete attention was focused on the book in front of her as Faith was thrown into the wall by a viscous back kick from Buffy. Just as Buffy was about to strike what would have been a killing blow, the magic around Tara shot forth and engulfed the blond slayer. Faith watched as Buffy was lifted into the air as the magic spun around her. She watched as Buffy's eyes slowly began to return to their normal color and her face took on a look of confusion and fear. Finally the magic dropped her next to the battered and bloodied brunette.
"W-What happened?" she asked as she looked around.
"You were under a spell, B," Faith said, wincing as she stood up. She then noticed Rachel was checking over Tara who was lying unconscious behind the others.
She led the still confused Buffy over to where the others stood and Dawn quickly rushed over and hugged her.
"What are you doing here, Dawn?" Buffy asked her sister.
"It would appear Valnon kidnapped her in hopes we'd surrender. Anya was also taken, but I'm afraid we couldn't save her," Giles informed her as he walked over to them.
"Where's Valnon?" Wesley asked.
"He used his own magic to escape. Most likely to a deeper level of these caves," Xander said as he dusted the last vampire that had charged him from where he stood next to his master.
"Tara's okay; she should wake soon," Rachel said as Xander knelt next to her.
"Give her some time to rest," Doyle said.
"Not too much, as soon as Tara is awake we have to find him and finish this," Xander said. "Giles, give Dawn a weapon, she's gonna need it," he added as he took Tara's head and gently placed it in his lap.
"You can't be serious. She hasn't been involved in anything this serious before," Giles argued.
"We need as much help as possible, Giles," Xander shot back.
"Giles, do as he says; Dawn can handle herself," Buffy said, having complete confidence in her sister's skill, seeing as she herself had trained her along with Giles.
Giles nodded and handed one of the abandoned swords to Dawn, who nodded grimly as she tested its weight. "Can someone tell me what's going on?" Dawn asked as Tara began to stir.
"I'll give you the short version," Xander said and quickly told Dawn everything that happened and by the time he had finished Tara was fully awake.
"You okay?" Xander asked. Tara nodded and quickly kissed Xander. Willow tried not to feel any anger, but she couldn't help it.
"Let's go," Buffy said, wanting revenge for what Valnon had done to her.
Xander and Tara once again took the lead as they exited the cave they had been in and entered another passage. Both were somewhat weak from their fight and were struggling with trying to keep their emotions in check about the friends they had already lost. Graham and one of his remaining teammates were supporting the injured Major Johnson. Only seven of the warriors from the order were left and one of them seemed to be in a very bad condition.
"How many vamps do you think he'll have guarding him?" Faith asked as she caught up with Xander.
"A few, but it's not them we have to worry about," Xander replied turning to the dark slayer.
"Valnon," Faith said to which Xander just nodded.
"How powerful is he?" Buffy inquired from behind them.
"He's one of the strongest demons alive; not only in the ways of magic, but in physical combat as well," Xander informed her.
Buffy frowned at the answer from her friend. Although the spell Valnon hat put on her had been removed, she was still having trouble controlling the emotions from her ancestor Jenna. She had now accepted everything Jill and Rachel had told her and she had promised herself to talk to Xander once this was over and if they survived.
Dawn kept silent as she walked next to her sister. Anya's death was still playing in her mind and she was finding it hard to concentrate. She was also trying to process what Xander had told her about the situation. She found it somewhat worrying to know that not only her sister, but three other of her closest friends were under the influence of some ancient ancestor of theirs. Giles and Wesley were keeping an eye out for any surprises, but so far, they hadn't seen any more vampires or demons. Each was worried about their impending confrontation with the old one. There were not many records about the old ones, but what they did know wasn't very encouraging. Even Angel and Spike had shown fear at the prospect of fighting him. They hoped everyone was ready for what lay ahead.
"He's close," Tara suddenly spoke up.
"Which way?" Xander asked.
Tara pointed to the right and they made their way toward what looked like a forced entrance to a huge cavern. Xander halted the others and carefully looked inside. He noticed at least eighteen of Valnon's vampires and seven demons. He noticed Valnon was standing close to what looked like an altar that had various magical items and books on it. Xander frowned and wondered if Valnon was trying to raise another dead demon to fight them. He turned to the others and nodded his head.
"How many?" Faith asked as she removed her dagger and a stake.
"Eighteen vampires and seven demons in total and Valnon is near an altar. It's possible he's trying to raise another demon," Xander answered. "As soon as we enter Faith, Buffy and I should go straight for Valnon and stop whatever ceremony he's performing," he quickly added.
"Willow and I will place some protective shields on you," Tara said, although they all could see the worry in her eyes as she faced Xander.
"Hurry, we don't have much time left," Xander told her.
Tara and Willow quickly grabbed one of the spell books from Giles and began chanting the spell; Jill and Rachel also chanted something quickly. A moment later a red glow surrounded Xander, Buffy and Faith and then faded.
"What was that?" Faith asked.
"It'll stop Valnon from placing any of his mind spells on you," Rachel answered as Oz and Doyle stepped forward ready to charge in. Spike, Angel and the warriors from the order followed, and finally Giles and Wesley joined them. Dawn, Cordelia, Jill, Rachel, Tara and Willow took up positions behind them. The four witches all prepared some spells for release as they entered the cavern. Xander, Buffy and Faith took up the lead and readied their weapons.
"Stay away from his horn and his claws," Xander warned the two slayers. They both nodded their understanding. "Now!" he shouted.
They charged into the cavern, heading straight for Valnon, who turned in anger at the interruption in his spell. Willow and Tara unleashed a black ball of magic at the seven demons that were now running straight for them. Three of them were caught in the magic, screaming in agony as their skin was burned off. As they fell to the floor, the magic continued to eat its way through them. Rachel and Jill set of two balls of fire at the oncoming vampires, dusting four of them as Oz and Doyle smashed into the lead vampires, followed by the others.
Xander ducked as Valnon swung his giant claws at him and quickly brought his sword up in a spinning arc as he regained his footing, but Valnon easily blocked the attempt. Faith attempted a back kick, but Valnon used his other claw to slam into her, sending her flying backwards. Buffy managed to drop kick Valnon from behind, as he was distracted by Faith and Xander's attacks. Valnon quickly turned and kicked her, knocking her flying backward.
"Is that the best you can do?" Valnon mocked them.
Xander looked over her shoulder quickly to see how the others were doing and was pleased to see the vampires and demons were been held back. He turned and faced Valnon again. He raised his sword and moved in slowly. Quickly he faked a swing to the left which Valnon went to block and then turned and swung his sword to the right, catching the old one in the side, but it didn't manage to penetrate the demon's skin. Valnon swung his left hand backwards, catching Xander on the side of his head, knocking him into Buffy and Faith.
"This is too easy," Valnon sneered as he went to grab the book he had been reading from.
Suddenly, he was sent flying into the altar. He turned to see Tara standing twenty feet away from him, her eyes glowing an unearthly red and her left hand raised. He growled in anger as he stood and made his way toward the sorcerer's mate. Xander saw him move toward Tara and quickly closed his eyes, summoned his own power and sent a ball of purple energy at the demon that quickly engulfed him. Valnon cried out in pain as he tried to counter the attack.
Buffy and Faith both quickly took advantage of Valnon's openness and attacked. Faith hit him with a hard left punch to his stomach while Buffy landed a spin kick in the side. Valnon roared in pain as he finally countered the attack from Xander only to be slammed to the side from the attacks by the two slayers. Faith quickly dropped into a crouch and landed a leg sweep, catching the demon of balance. Valnon went down to one knee as Buffy tried to kick him in the face. Valnon caught her foot and swung her into Faith, knocking them both down. He raised his own clawed hand and sent a wave of black magic at Tara, which sent her flying into Willow and Jill who were running towards them as Oz and Doyle finished off the last vampire. Xander came up behind him and smashed the hilt of his sword into Valnon's back as the demon stood, and quickly followed it up by smashing his knee into the same spot, putting the demon back onto his knees.
A bit further back Giles swung his axe at the demon he was fighting as Wesley tried to get back to his feet from the blow he had received to his back. The demon dodged the blow and lunged at Giles, knocking them both backward. The demon reared back, ready to plunge its claws into the watcher's chest, when suddenly he was sent backwards from a savage kick from Spike. As the demon stood and was ready to attack again, Rachel kicked it from behind, sending it forward as one of the Order stepped forward and cut it in half with its axe, causing its blood to drench him and the blond vampire.
Cordelia tried to stay away from the demon she had been fighting, but she had lost her sword and was trying to stay out of the demon's reach. Graham tried to stand, but he was still recovering from the wound he had in his side. The demon finally lunged at Cordelia, who screamed in terror just as Angel smashed into the demon, sending them both flying into the recovering Wesley. Angel vamped out as he began hitting the demon continually in the face, causing it to bleed. The demon tried to strike back, but couldn't dislodge the enraged vampire. Finally Angel grabbed the demon's head and snapped its neck just as he had a flash of Angelus doing the same to Miss Calendar. He shook the memory off as he went to check on the still shocked seer. The three remaining members of the Order approached silently as they all regrouped, glad to see that there was no one but Valnon left.
Tara quickly stood up again as Xander attacked Valnon. Willow was just regaining her feet as well as Oz and Doyle joined them.
"What now?" Oz asked.
"Stay back," Tara said as she moved to assist the man she loved.
Xander ducked the wild swing from Valnon as the demon got back to its feet and quickly jumped back as its other claw tried to take his legs out. Faith came from behind and managed to ram her dagger into the demon's side. Valnon roared in pain and smashed Faith into Angel and Spike as they rushed forward to help. Faith hit her head on a rock, cutting her forehead, but she quickly got back to her feet and ran forward again. Buffy rushed forward and launched a lot of strikes which Valnon easily blocked. Xander summoned his powers again and launched a black ball of fire at the demon's back. Valnon shrugged off the attack with ease and landed a blow to Buffy's side that he quickly followed up with a kick which slammed her into the cavern wall. He turned to face Xander who was just raising his sword again.
"Time to die, Sorcerer," he sneered.
Tara came to stand by Xander's side, her eyes once again glowing red as she summoned all of her power and that of her ancestor. Valnon approached and his horn began glowing purple as his claws seemed to expand.
"I will crush your mate first," Valnon hissed, as he launched himself at Tara.
Tara somehow managed to side step the attack and raised her hand, shooting out a wave of gold light which sent Valnon into the wall. Xander had also moved out of range of the attack and summoned a ball of blue light and sent it at Valnon as he approached again. The ball seemed to disappear inside the old one who screamed out, as he was set alight.
Faith and Buffy both rejoined them as Valnon used his own power to stop the fire. Tara was about to launch another attack when she was engulfed in a huge wave of black light. She screamed out in agony as the magic began to drain her defensive powers. Xander was quickly overcome with rage as he heard Tara's scream and rushed forward and slammed into Valnon.
He smashed the hilt of his sword into the demon's face repeatedly, not caring as the demon's blood began to splatter him. He raised his sword to strike again, but Valnon managed to slam his elbow into Xander's chest, knocking him off him. Rachel and Jill began chanting a counter spell to release Tara as she screamed again. Buffy attacked Valnon as he got back to his feet and Faith quickly joined her. Tara fell to the floor, semi-conscious, as Rachel and Jill finally managed to counter Valnon's attack. Willow and Xander both rushed over to see if she was okay.
"Xander, she'll be fine, but they need you," Jill told her cousin as he came to kneel at Tara's side, indicating the two slayers who were both trying to get to their feet to face Valnon again.
Xander looked to where Buffy and Faith were and then back to Tara and back again. Jill placed her hand on his shoulder causing him to look at her as Rachel knelt down to check Tara's pulse. Jill indicated the slayers again and Xander reluctantly nodded as he turned and attacked Valnon, just as he picked Faith up and slammed her into the wall.
Xander brought his sword down in a wide arc and this time managed to cut through the demon's tough skin, drawing blood. Valnon dropped Faith as Angel and Spike finally joined the fight. Valnon smashed his elbow into Xander and then faced the two vampires as Buffy checked on Faith. Angel ducked the wide swing as Valnon stepped forward to engage them, however Spike was not as lucky. He was sent flying into the injured Graham as he finally approached the others. Angel managed to land two blows on Valnon's chest before Valnon swung back. His claws cut deep into the ensouled vampire's chest, causing a loud cry of pain from him before Valnon picked him and flung him at the remaining members of the order, they side-stepped the flying vampire as he smashed into the wall and then slumped to the unconscious floor. Xander stood ready to attack again as Valnon turned to face him. Once again the horn was glowing, but Xander was prepared for any attack.
"Now we end this, Sorcerer," Valnon said.
"Your end is now," Xander shot back as he summoned every bit of power within him, causing his sword to begin glowing golden.
Valnon rushed forward with his left hand posed to strike Xander head on. Xander did nothing but wait until Valnon was a few inches from him before he raised his sword and impaled Valnon as he charged at him. The demon roared in pain as Xander fell to his knees, weakened from using nearly all of his power. Tara managed to stand up with Willow's and Jill's help as she summoned her own power and channeled it into Xander through their link. The sword glowed even brighter as Valnon cried out in even more pain. As the others watched a field of golden energy seemed to surround Valnon and Xander, who was still holding on to the sword.
"Faith, catch," Rachel shouted, tossing the dark slayer a large axe that Giles had been using.
Faith caught it and prepared to strike when she was told. Although she didn't know how she knew someone would tell when the time was right. The glow turned to a bright red and then black until it finally faded. Valnon fell to his knees as his blood coated the floor. Xander pulled the sword weakly out of the demon and fell backward.
"Now," Xander said before he blacked out.
Faith swung the axe high before bringing it down and taking the old one's head clean off. A black cloud began to envelope the demon's body as his blood poured out. It faded somewhat and then vanished.
"Giles, burn the head quickly," Tara told the watcher as Jill and Rachel helped her over to where Xander lay.
Giles nodded and quickly took one of the torches off the wall and walked over to where Valnon's head lay, he spat on the head once before setting it alight. Wesley went to help Angel to his feet as he came around, while Spike helped Graham back to his feet.
"Buffy, you and Faith are going to have to carry Xander. He'll be out of it for awhile," Tara said to the two tired slayers. They nodded and quickly picked up the unconscious form of their friend.
Jill and Rachel suddenly began to glow white. Both closed their eyes as a searing pain ripped through them before the glow vanished.
"What was that?" Faith asked as she and Buffy walked toward them, carrying Xander between them.
"The immortality spell we had placed on us has been lifted. We're mortal now," Jill explained with a small smile. Glad that her father's prophecy was now finished and they could all live their lives without worrying about it again.
"Giles, you and Wesley better take all the items and books off that altar and take them with us. Some of them will be very deadly in the wrong hands," Rachel said as they joined the others.
The two watchers nodded and quickly took all the magical items and books off the altar and placed them in the bags they had used to carry their books in.
"What about the bodies of our fallen comrades?" Graham asked as he leaned on Spike for support.
"We'll come back for them later and then we'll blow the entrance to these caves," Xander said weakly from in between the two slayers as he regained consciousness.
The others nodded grimly, except for the three remaining members of the order who quickly asked for their pay. Wesley had brought the money with them knowing the order would want the money on completion of their contract. They took the money, took one last look around the cavern and then left.
Xander led the others silently into the magic shop. They had returned to the cave and retrieved the bodies of their friends, including Riley's body and silently buried them. Then, using the explosives Major Johnson and his men had brought, they had destroyed all entrances to the cave. Whistler sat on the top of the counter, watching them. Each looked worn out and wasted, which wasn't surprising after what they had been through. Once Giles and Wesley had entered and closed the door, Whistler jumped off the counter to speak.
"The powers are thankful to you all for the sacrifices you have made to defeat this evil and fulfill the sorcerer's prophecy," he told them. "Of course I'm sure you'd all be happier if this had never happened, but it was battle that had to be fought and won," he continued as everyone remained silent.
"I guess I'm gonna have to leave now, aren't I?" Doyle asked, sadly squeezing Cordelia's hand.
"No, you won't. Because of Gunn and Fred's death, the powers have granted you another chance to help Angel," Whistler answered him with a small smile.
Cordelia couldn't stop the smile that spread across her face as she hugged Doyle as hard as possible. Angel also smiled at the prospect of having his friend back. It helped him put aside the pain he felt at Gunn and Fred's death.
"What about me, Tara, Buffy, Faith and Willow. Will we keep the memories and powers of our ancestors?" Xander inquired as Tara laid her head on his shoulder, missing the pained look from Willow.
"Yes, you will. They'll be a part of you until you die," Whistler answered. "But you will have more control of them now," he added as he noticed Buffy's and Willow's faces turn annoyed at the prospect.
"What about the items we took from Valnon's altar? Should we hide or keep them?" Giles asked as he wiped his glasses with his handkerchief.
"I'll take them and make sure no one finds them again," Whistler said, taking them from the table beside Faith.
"What about me? I broke out of jail to help you guys?" Faith asked, remembering she most likely had the police searching for her.
"The powers have already taken care of that Faith. You are no longer wanted by the police. The powers believe you have redeemed yourself and are ready to rejoin the fight beside the sorcerer," Whistler told her, surprising everyone bar Xander and Giles.
Faith just stared at the balance demon, not really believing what he had told her. She looked to where Buffy sat and noticed she actually smiled at her and nodded. She returned it and then looked to where Xander sat with his arm protectively around Tara. They both smiled at her and she knew she had found a home at last and some real friends. She had another chance here and she would not blow it.
"Good job," Whistler said before he vanished.
Off in the corner, Urial had watched the proceedings with a smile. The old one had been defeated and the prophecy had been fulfilled. But he knew the future son of the sorcerer's descendant and his mate would be called into the fight and he would be of great importance in the continuing fight. But for now they would have some time to heal and rest. His master would make sure of that and he had been made the protector of the sorcerer and his group. He would make sure nothing tried to interfere with what should happen and that no one would harm them until the trials they are destined to fight began.
"What are you going to do now, Rachel? Jill?" Xander asked.
"I want to get to know my cousin. I'm going to stay," Jill said hoping that, now that her father's work was done, she could get to know Xander better.
"And so am I. That way I can get to know my daughter again," Rachel said with a smile, although she also wanted to keep an eye on Xander. She had grown quite attached to her almost nephew. She wanted to know him better and keep him and his friends safe.
"I'll help you find a house then. I have plenty of spare cash to help get you started," Xander offered, glad to hear they would be staying. They were the first members of his family that he liked and he wanted to know them better.
(Two years later)
Xander couldn't believe the changes that the two years since the end of the prophecy had brought. First, after quite a few discussions with Willow, he and Tara were able to begin a real relationship with Willow's blessing. They were surprised when Willow began dating his cousin Jill. Xander hadn't minded too much. He thought they made a good match and they had soon become very close. Tara was very happy that she had found another love to help heal her heart. Rachel had become close friends with all of the gang, especially Giles. Xander was not surprised when they began dating as well. He was very happy for the watcher to have found someone again. His closeness with Jill and Rachel was great. He had spent a lot of time with them getting to know them and they him. He had managed to get them a house close to where Buffy lived.
Dawn had returned to Sunnydale to live with her sister again. Although the Watchers Council could still try something, they knew someone was guarding them. Faith, although somewhat nervous for the first couple of weeks, finally settled and began anew. Her friendship with Buffy was quickly repaired and the others all began to warm to her. However, it was with Xander that she was the closest. Although it surprised some of the gang, they were glad Faith had finally opened up to them and allowed them to help when she needed it. Faith had surprised everyone when she and Oz began dating. Oz had decided to stay after such a long time away. He had buried his feelings for Willow and moved on, although it took nearly a year before he managed to get Faith to accept going on a date with him.
Angel and his team, which now included Spike, made regular visits to Sunnydale. No one was surprised when Cordelia announced she was getting married to Doyle. The big change however came in the middle of the second year, when he himself proposed to Tara and she accepted. Everyone had seen how close the two had become and knew it would only get deeper. Then, a few months later, Tara announced she was pregnant.
Xander sat watching his fiancée as she slept peacefully. In two months, she was due to give birth to their son. He sometimes found it hard to believe how much his life had changed. He was about to become a father and a husband and, even though they still faced the darkness, he couldn't be happier.
"I love you, Tara," he whispered as he closed his eyes and began to drift into a peaceful dream he heard her reply through their link. 'I love you too, Xand.' He smiled as her hand found his and interlocked with his as they both fell into a deep sleep.