Xander marveled at the sensation coming from the enchanted battle hammer. It felt so right for it to be in his hand, even if it was painfully (literally) clear that the weapon was too heavy for him at the moment. It was obvious that he needed some serious physical training, in addition to the practice in the branch of magic described in the book that unlocked itself for him.
The boy chuckled slightly. This had certainly been a wacky turn of events, that was for sure. The book containing some sort of a magician instructions manual mysteriously opened for Willow, then magically bonded with her. It had bonded with Giles, as well, once the Watcher had touched the book himself. The book failed to respond to the others, and when they looked at its pages, they seemed blank. After some experimenting, another book opened itself for Xander, and the next day, a third one did so for Buffy. For some reason, however, none of the magically locked book would react for Cordelia.
The Slayer, unsurprisingly, bonded with a book containing instructions for use of melee weapons, as well as fighting techniques. The Slayer planned to test both against Sunnydale's critters of the night. Just as eager was Willow, who had quickly learned some kind of fire spell from her own book (and, for Xander's great amusement, nearly hit Deadboy with it the first time she'd tried it.) After that happened, and Giles heard Xander's descriptions of the kind of skills and magic described in 'his' book, namely, ones that helped deal with demons and undead, and keep the allies alive, the Watcher concluded, much to Xander's embarrassment, that the magically – locked books magically – locked books attuned themselves to the people whose mentality was best suited to the knowledge within.
In the two weeks that followed, the four of them had quickly progressed through the first few chapters of their respective books. (The expression of the Watcher's face when Willow had managed to conjure food and water had been priceless.) The flame spells were certainly handy, as proven by Willow, who had managed to torch three out of six vampires douring one of the patrols before the survivors had managed to get into close range. The Watcher was far more hesitant to use his newly acquired knowledge, but he too made his share of kills.
Xander's eyebrows rose at the sight of Cordelia Chase reading a book carefully (he recognized it to be one of the books retrieved during their last treasure hunt that were protected by mechanical locks only, and which were identified as manuals for creating things using tools that ranged from pure magic to blacksmithing hammer.) While the brunette was not stupid like her sheep, most notably Harmony, she wasn't exactly studious type either, and seeing her with all of her attention consumed by reading a book was not something seen very often. Especially when right next to her sat Willow.
“Now I've seen everything.” Xander said in low voice, giving the cheerleader a pointed look, as Giles saw him and beckoned him to his office.
The Watcher chuckled. “Indeed. She has expressed great interest in the alchemy book, particularly in one specific application.”
“Let me guess, Iron to gold?” At the Watcher's confirming nod, Xander rolled his eyes. “Is there a chance of it actually working?”
Giles frowned. “Difficult to say. Magic is a quirky, a times unpredictable thing to begin with, and with those books being technically from another reality... There is a chance it might work with materials taken from the alternate reality, as they are all saturated in magic, but with what we can find here... I don't think so.”
Xander made a face. “I looked into that book myself. Some level of skill is needed to pull off what she wants. And to gain that skill, ingredients are needed. So now what? She'll be coming with us to pick up daisies while we fight the things inside the sub – realities?”
“There is no need to mock her only because none of the books we retrieved that are sealed with magic would open itself for her.” Giles chided. “I looked in the alchemy book myself. Many of the recipes in it that preclude attaining the ability for transmutation are for various potions with healing properties. This will be no small contribution to increasing our survivability, whether she actually takes part in the fighting or not.”
“Humph. I'll believe that when I see it. Anyway, the healing potions were one of the things I wanted to talk to you about. They seem to be universal, not to mention far more powerful than any medicine that can be found on the planet. There's a good chance they can cure many diseases conventional medicine can do nothing about. And there are the materials described on the blacksmithing book. They are supposed to be lighter and stronger than even the best quality steel. Imagine what could be made with them.”
Giles' eyes narrowed. Surely, Xander wasn't thinking to... “You are suggesting that you use that reality repeatedly, so we can harvest resources from it for use in this reality on industrial scale?”
“Why not? We got ridiculously lucky to find all those books, and while I cannot control exactly what would we find in the sub-reality, with enough attempts we should find all of the materials we may need. So long as I keep making the things small enough, there should be nothing too tough for us to deal with, while getting reasonably good stuff to collect. In time, we could even recruit others to help us; with strength in numbers and improved equipment we'd be able to afford, even larger scale sub -realities should be little problem to deal with. Think about how many lives the healing potions alone could save.”
The Watcher looked at the boy for a while in silence, then sighed. “I suppose I should have expected something like this at some point.” he muttered, mostly to himself. “Xander, I understand your enthusiasm, and I agree that we would do well to equip ourselves as best as we can using the instructions from the books we found. However, I do not believe you have fully considered the implications of what you are suggesting. In order to harvest any resources in amounts to satisfy the demand that would occur if they are offered to the world, you would need the harvests to take place daily, possibly more than once. We'd exhaust ourselves doing it, and there is only a very small number of people that can be truly trusted with the knowledge about your abilities. Many people, on the both sides of the supernatural war, would try and subvert your abilities for their purposes were they to find out about them, and if you try to recruit outside help, there will be no containing the secret unless you choose to employ methods like the ones used by Wolfram & Hart” Giles spat the name with disgust. “But even if you can somehow enforce the secrecy from the supernatural without resorting to black magic, once anything you make is released in the world, then what do you think would happen? Take, for example, the healing potions. Let's say we harvest a number of them, and they are offered for sale. What next? Once it becomes clear they are what you claim them to be, they'll be quickly sold, fetching quite a bit of price, I can imagine. They'd also catch quite a bit of attention from the pharmaceutical industry, as a cure this powerful would threaten to put them out of business. You don't really believe they would just sit and wait for you to expand your operations enough to remove them from the picture, do you? No, they'd do their best to find out who you are and where do you come from, and there would be only a matter of time before your secrets are exposed, and some military fraction somewhere decides it would be good if you worked for them. The consequences could be easily just as disastrous as what would happen if a supernatural group was involved.
And there's another thing to consider. What if, as I suspect, those things can only be collected from, or be produced from ingredients only collected from that reality via your sub-realities? Then what would happen when the source of the miracle drugs is suddenly cut when you someday die, and the pharmaceutical industry has been brought to ruin by your potions. Suddenly, the world would find itself vulnerable to diseases, with nobody to provide medicine. It would only take a single epidemic to destroy civilization as we know it. Is that what you would really want to be remembered for, bringing ruin?”
“I know you intend well,” Giles continued. “But before making anything available to anyone beyond the people already 'in the know', you need to very carefully consider what the consequences of doing so would be. Especially when speaking of objects or substances that could likely gain a vital importance for the world, for them it's essential that the means for them to be acquired without the involvement of your powers. And just in case, I would recommend that you make sure you cannot be placed into position where someone could manipulate you.”
Silence ensued as Xander mulled over the Watcher's words.
“Where are we going this time,Xander?” Buffy asked. “The same as the last time?”
“Same reality, at least.” the boy confirmed. “Also, since vamps don't seem to be much of a threat lately, i'm mixing it with our own.”
“Speak for yourself, dweeb boy.” Cordelia grumbled, being the only one without powers, the fact that the others considering the opposition easy was hardly comforting. “I already have a bad feeling about this.”
“Well, here goes.” Xander said, opening the portal.
“Good lord, what happened here?” Giles asked as he inspected his surroundings. From what was visible, the group had appeared in what looked like a street littered with the wreckage of an impossibly long tower in the style the western popular culture saw as norm for the 'oriental' stories , surrounded by the burned out husks of houses. At the distance, a strange fog seemed to prevent them fropm seeing anything.
Having already appeared behind him, Xander rolled his eyes. “What do you mean 'what happened', G – man? This place came into existence as it is.”
“But... didn't you say you would use the same reaity as the last time?” Willow asked slightly nervously. “This definitely doesn't look the same as before.”
“You cannot expect that the entire reality would look the same, Willow.” Giles muttered, slightly embarrassed of talking before thinking. “Vampires!” he exclaimed, a ball of fire forming into his palms before launching itself at the incoming creatures, incinerating one of them upon impact. Several more rapidly closed in, followed by a creature that seemed to be made of fire. Buffy moved to intercept it, closely followed by Xander, as the others unloaded on the vampires.
Whether because it included elements from two realities, or because Xander had poured too much energy into creating it, but this sub – reality turned out to be noticeably bigger than the previous one, though not as large as it originally seemed. Luckily, about a third of the creatures within were vampires, which weren't much of a problem, as Willow and Giles kept blasting the things with fireballs, setting them on fire from a distance, with Buffy and to the lesser extent Xander making sure that the undead remained at a distance. The vampires failed to inflict any damage whatsoever to the Slayer until five of them surrounded her, preventing the two mages from interfering. But even then, thanks to a well – placed bow shot from Cordelia killing one of the vamps, and a strike from Xander's hammer crippling another, the Slayer got away with only a deep gash on her left thigh. Nothing that couldn't be quickly fixed.
The creatures made of fire, however, were a different story. The mages quickly learned to be careful what they were doing when a fireball from Giles (its intended target destroyed moments earlier from another fireball from Willow) accidently struck the creature and not only failed to hut it, but rebounded on the nearest target, which happened to be Xander. Fortunately, Buffy was close enough to intervene, and despite his surprise and pain Xander kept enough of his wits with him to immediately drink one of the healing potions he carried. But even without further mistakes, the creatures proved not to be easy target, as while they were vulnerable to physical weapons as well as non – fire spells, getting too close to them burned, and weapons heated up from the touch.
Between those, some bizarre floating, semi – transparent worm – like creatures that looked harmless at first, but when they got too close, they seemed to sap the magic – users' energy, and some tall, sickly – looking humanoid creatures with long, pointed ears and glowing green eyes, it took the group several hours to deal with the enemies lurking about.
“This is it. We're done.” Buffy said, lowering her sword, after nearly twenty minutes of search revealed no hidden creatures
“Really? Because that was fun. Not.” Cordelia remarked sourly, then glared at Xander. “You said you'd keep these things small and easy.”
“I also said I can't control exactly what can be found inside.” the boy snapped. “It wasn't too difficult, was it? Oh, yes, I forgot. I'm talking to someone whose greatest effort in order to gain something she wants is to reach to her pocket for her wallet. Well, guess what, sometimes there is no choice but to get your hands dirty.”
“On the plus side, the bigger the places, the more stuff we can get from them.” Willow said, looking closely at the nearest building that was less damaged. Previously, they had only looked for someone to fight within them.”
“Speaking of it, how long these places last?” Buffy asked. “How much time do we have to search through this place?”
“So long as I don't leave, as much as we want.” Xander answered. “However, keep in mind that while our surroundings don't change, the time here passes the same way it dose back home. We can't stick around too long.”
“We can last several weeks at least with the stuff here.” Buffy commented as she inspected the contents of the cellar of the building Giles had somehow identified as an inn.”
Giles shook his head. “We can't stay that long. Something bad is bound to happen in the real world if the Hellmouth is left unattended that long. We should take samples of everything that we can find here with us, however; that way, should we encounter something like this again, we will know if it is worth the effort to bring with us or not. But for the moment, I believe we have better things to focus on than foodstuffs.”
As the Watcher and his charge emerged from the building, they were greeted by the sight of Xander, Willow and Cordelia working together to carry out a large metallic crate. Xander was wearing chain mail armor, which gleamed in the light this place was producing. The two girls seemed to be having great difficulty keeping up with Xander despite the fact they were using a metal rod inserted into a ring at the side of the crate to divide its weight between themselves. Buffy rushed to help them.
“What's in that thing?” The Slayer asked as she and Xander dumped the crate onto a clearing before the building.
“That's up to me and Giles to find out.” Willow said excitedly. “Those crates are used to store stuff in them. I could sense this one and three others are sealed with magic, so I assume the best stuff is in there. That thing Xander is wearing? It gives a strength boost. I tried to use one too, but it's heavy, and the strength boost is kinda lost because of its weight.” the redhead said sheepishly. “I figured you and Xander could carry the stuff out from there, it's some kind of store for weapons and armor, while Giles and I try to unlock those crates locked with magic. She. “ Willow nodded at the cheerleader. “Can check out what's in the other buildings that aren't completely destroyed.”
“Who died and made you the boss?” Cordelia asked disdainfully, trudging through half – burned husks of buildings apparently not appealing to her.
“It's either that, or hauling stuff out so we can inspect them at a proper light.” Xander pointed out. “Your choice.”
Rupert Giles, Watcher to the Vampire Slayer Buffy Summers, dropped onto the couch in his apartment, exhausted. He had no energy remaining to deal with the chaos that reigned around hi, his apartment turned into a storehouse for al kinds of objects.
He sighed. Until this moment, he had not fully realized exactly what he had gotten himself into; not that there was much of a choice. Xander's desire to help out, while commendable, made him a threat to himself in the light of the power he now possessed. The rather naive proposition the boy had made not too long ago was a testament of that. Xander simply did not have the patience to think everything he was doing through. In a way, the boy reminded the Watcher of his own misspent youth. But the Ripper could only dream of the power that was placed in the boy's hands.
The Watcher snorted, Who was he to judge the boy? Xander's designs reflected the boy's view of the world. What was to guarantee that in the boy's place, he would have done any better? IT was perhaps for the best that the would never come to find out.
A glance at the mess that was currently his home brought Giles out of his musings. There was a big problem to solve here and now. A problem caused by the really large amount of objects that were carried out of the last sub – reality.
The majority of the weapons and armor discovered in one of the buildings were exactly the same, suggesting that the building, cut in half by the sub – reality's boundary, was some kind of armory. It was perhaps lucky that those weren't enchanted, or there would have really been no room in his home to store everything. It had become crowded enough as it was. And there were things amongst the objects they had collected that none of them was able to use. Since virtually everything within the sub – reality was saturated in magic, some of the enchantments upon the objects they found created a feeling of added weight upon those attempting to use them, to the point of being painful. It would take weeks to take proper inventory of what they had acquired. (The Watcher had been unwilling to allow them to skip class to sort things out, so they had just began grabbing everything sorted as magical and moving it through the portal into the real world.)
But it wasn't the weapons, armors, or other enchanted trinkets that took up most room. It was the magically sealed crates, half of which were taken from the 'armory' and the other half from the ruins of the toppled tower, which Xander had investigated just before leaving. While it was uncertain what they would find, there could be little doubt the most valuable objects from the entire haul was in those crates.
Giles only hoped that a creation of another sub – reality would not become necessary before they sorted out the gains from this one. A/n: I find myself revising my original plans for this fic, which involved Xander being a Hunter, and several characters developing WoW professions. There is no way I could make that work, considering the number of 'dungeon crawls' it would need, as well as the fact that to prevent my fic from becoming too much like wraithrune's, I am deliberately avoiding the time flow manipulation he uses, and there ton't be anyone living comoing out of them unless certain conditions are met. In the revised variant, the only WoW professions that will be seen are alchemy and enchanting, Speaking of wraithrune's fic this one borrows the idea from, thank god his rewrite of the story makes Battlestar Galactica his main universe. Otherwise, I would end up being accused of being a blatant copycat, despite the fact the original 'Dungeon Monk' hints of a Jedi/Sith war, whereas the time period I will use is the Yuuzhan Vong war. That being said, while the cosmic part of the plot for this story will be Star Wars, do not be surprised to see a story branching off in a Stargate main universe, as the two are the sci-fi universes I'm the most comfortable with. The Gang's skills as far as WoW levels are concerned – Buffy level 20 warrior (she is a Slayer, after all), the others about level 8. For Cordy, there's something special planned. Ah, and I almost forgot. The reviewer Prometheus made a very good point, and a very interesting suggestion. One I intent to incorporate into the story, although not in the way that was suggested, as in my opinion doing it exactly as suggested would invite attention long before Xander could take the necessary measures to ensure nobody could manipulate him.