A new Day...
Waking up with a start, Xander palmed the dagger as a soft rustle of noise below brought him awake in a rush. After a moment of confusion as to where he was, the past couple of days came back to him in full and painful detail. Rolling over slightly, he looked over the edge of the barn loft, down below a rather old man was whistling to himself as he went about what Xander could only assume was the everyday business of dealing with animals; feeding, watering, and what he supposed was the milking process.
Shifting in the hayloft, Xander froze as the man below stopped whistling and cocked his head to the side, in a listening pose. Spotting the slightly pointed ears, Xander cursed silently because despite what TV had shown, loose hay was only slightly less noisy than dry leaves when moving about and that was the situation he found himself in now. Checking to the left, Xander gauged the distance to the hay door before glancing back down at the man below, the man that was currently heading for the ladder leading up to his perch.
Shoving himself to his feet, Xander took a running leap from the barn loft, out the hay window to the muddy ground below. Flexing his knees to absorb the impact, Xander tumbled to the left into an alley before dodging through the back side of the fishing village and finding a dark shadow to disappear into.
Catching his breath underneath the porch facing the ocean, Xander considered his options; he had to lay low for a time, at least a couple of days for suspicions to die down before the mysterious stranger makes an appearance, local yokels they may be, but even the village idiot would be able to come up with one plus one equals potato.
Glancing out into the predawn light, Xander noticed the large number of boats putting out from the docks. Small fishing boats mostly as the natives set out to ply their trade. Making a decision, he turned inland, scuttling through the sleepy village as it started to wake and fleeing out into the wilderness beyond.
By noon Xander was sitting on the beach on the far side of the island, secluded in a small cove surrounded by rocks that would keep prying eyes away. Chucking small stones into the surf and wondering where he was and when/if at all he would make it back home, because despite all the games and movies he used to watch, none of them had explained how exactly he was supposed to relieve himself in the woods much less tidy himself up afterwards. The first part he had managed without too much fumbling, the second had required him to sacrifice a part of the wrappings from his purloined shoes to resolve the issue and regain some semblance of cleanliness.
Chucking another rock into the surf, Xander thought about all that had happened recently before adding a bit more force into his throws, the fluke, fray adjacent, Faith, the Sisterhood, Zombie Jack, the bomb, the Sisterhood, the torture, the portal, the dragon/drake thing, his first murder…
Each thought was assisted by another stone disappearing into the surf as his mind wandered more and more afield. Pulling his arm back once more Xander froze for a second as movement in the water drew his attention to a monster slowly pulling itself out of the water. For a moment Xander’s mind drifted back to his thrice cursed time on the swim team as a fish person slowly stood up, a wicked looking blade held in one hand while a rather ratty shield was held in the creature’s offhand.
Checking the area around for a possible escape route, Xander cursed his desire for privacy as the fish monster was closer to the cove entrance then he himself was, blocking off that route of escape and leaving him limited options in the category of fight or flight.
Blinking as the fish monster charged him, Xander acted on instinct, his hand flashing out in a throw sending his last stone flying towards the monsters head. Xander was surprised when the stone struck the charging foe under its left arm, cutting a deep gash in the monster’s flesh and causing it to hiss in pain. Not slowing down at all as it closed, Xander saw nothing but an animalistic rage in the fish being’s eyes. A rage that Xander was all to familiar with, thanks to his nightly adventures on the hellmouth.
Pulling his dagger from his belt, Xander charged to meet his foe, swinging in with a straight strike towards the smaller monster, Xander was surprised when the fish thing ducked under his attack. The next moment Xander found himself painfully on his back from flipping over the foe’s shoulder. Rolling to his right, Xander avoided the next strike before climbing to his feet again. Squaring off with the fish person, Xander stepped into the its range and attacked again, his small blade being deflected by the coral buckler the being had on before Xander was put on the defensive from the fishman’s sword.
Dancing back from his opponent’s blade, Xander felt a deep bite in his side where the sword met his flesh and skittered painfully off his ribs. Ignoring the pain and taking advantage of his opponent’s off balance state, Xander moved back in with his stolen blade held firmly in hand and swiped at the fishman’s neck. He cursed as it dropped low again, the metal tool flashing over its head. Rolling away from the follow up attack, Xander danced back on the beach as he cleared some distance between himself and his Admiral Ackbar reject of an attacker. For a moment the immortal words, ‘It’s a Trap!’ echoed through his mind Before Xander shook the thought off, his opponent wouldn’t get it and there was nobody around to find humor in it.
Flipping the blade around to an underhanded grip, Xander smiled as his fighting style started to fall back to his long memory of holding a stake in much the same manner. Setting himself for the fish being’s next attack, Xander smiled when it charged. Jumping over the sword blade, Xander landed quickly and lunged, shifting his body to the side he blocked the sword arm with his left hand before driving the knife blade down into the heart of his opponent. Glaring into the monster’s eyes, Xander saw the rage fade away for a moment as the fish person’s body came to the realization that it was no longer capable of continuing the conflict.
As the light faded, Xander frowned as the hatred remained in the eyes of his opponent before they lost focus completely and it slumped to the ground lifelessly. Taking a moment to catch his breath, Xander collapsed next to his foe and after a short time his needs overcame his natural squeamishness and like the night before, Xander rolled his opponent. Taking the pouch from the fish man’s belt, Xander was surprised at the small collection of shiny gems and coral within, tucking the haul into his own cloth belt. He then picked up the sword and buckler, seeing the cutlass was old but had surprisingly enough held up well in the saltwater. The buckler was another story, however and pulling the small coral disk off the fish thing’s arm, Xander frowned.
While he had at first thought it a shield that had spent enough time under the waves to be covered by coral, Xander was surprised to find that the disk itself was made from coral with seaweed wrapped around several of the branches to strap it to his forearm.
Standing up, Xander brushed his hands off before checking both ways again and heading for the cove exit. While it was disturbing to leave the fish person where he fell, Xander had little desire to handle the cold corpse anymore and he refused to haul its body anywhere to bury it. His time near the coast was enough to tell him that the body would be reclaimed by the surf at the next tide. As for himself, Xander honestly couldn’t care less.
Staying within sight of the coast, Xander sought a shelter of some sort. Stopping to drink from a stream, Xander pressed on and after nearly an hour of searching and found himself under a rather large tree. The natural hollow the roots made was more than sufficient to protect him from at least the basics of the elements, leaving Xander to resolve the rest of his survival needs, namely food before the sun sank below the horizon. Making his way to the shoreline, Xander scavenged for a time before returning with a rather large collection of mollusks and shellfish that his soldier boy memories suggested would likely be edible.
Dropping them in the hole under the tree, Xander quickly scavenged some windblown wood and several large clumps of dry tender. Setting up a quick windbreak, Xander began to work on the fire. Three hours later a wild eyed Xander grinned manically at the small flame he had managed to create. Quickly working with his gathered supplies, Xander laughed as his campfire was born. Getting the fire to a point where he felt comfortable, Xander moved his small cache of food nearer the flames and watched as the heat did its work.
In a matter of minutes Xander poked the opened shells cautiously with his knife before scooping out the flesh within and swallowing it in a rush. As the seafood disappeared into his gut, Xander found his reaction to be an odd combination of revulsion at the taste and absolute love for the first bit of food he’d had in days.
Finishing up, Xander patted his somewhat full belly before loading the fire up with wood to deter any of the wilds that might take an interest before curling up under the tree and drifting off to sleep.
Asleep, Xander blinked at the argument going on around him. Three individuals were busy squabbling amongst themselves with random punctuations in his direction. Taking a moment to observe the trio, Xander blinked again. The first was an elderly man in travel worn clothes, the thick black boots on his feet were well worn and looked to be the epitome of the description of ‘Seven League Boots’. Next to him stood a much taller man in what he first thought to be cloth but on closer inspection was chainmail. Nothing like the clunky stuff he had seen at the festivals or in the movies, this armor was some of the highest quality Xander had ever seen. The man’s dark hair and skin were enough to offset the massive gleaming battle-axe the man held in one hand while a sword sat at his waist waiting to be used. The third man stood to the side with a massive bronze mace in his hand that he tapped impatiently in his offhand each time one of the arguments seemed to get too involved. That tapping seemed to be the signal and the other two would almost immediately reign in their zeal for a time before starting all over again.
After a time the trio finally took notice of him and with a wave, Xander felt a pulse of energy and he found himself waking up in his hidey hole once more. Sitting up, he rubbed the back of his head for a moment as he tried to puzzle out what that had been about before restocking the fire and curling back up to sleep.
In a higher plain Fharlanghn, Heironeous and Saint Cuthbert continued to argue about who the young man best exemplified. Admittedly his recent adventuress did adhere him somewhat to Fharlanghn’s domain, but the other two refused to give up the battle without a fight. Around them, dozens of deities watched the new arrival with some interest as Fate struggled to unravel the rather nasty snarl his arrival had worked into her weave, some even whispered that Ao had actually blinked at the young man’s arrival, but that sort of talk was pushed aside as pure insanity.
Ao never noticed or got involved.
Waking up the next morning, Xander shuddered in the morning breeze from the ocean before stirring the coals in the fire and restarting the sparse flame. Getting it back to a point where he might actually survive, Xander set about his day, first was food, water and then more shelter. While the hollow worked… somewhat, to keep the wind and chill off, he doubted it would protect him from rain or offer any sort of protection from an attack.
Moving back towards the stream he had drunk from the day before, Xander knelt by the water and cupped some to his face as he scanned the area for threats or opportunities.
Having slaked his thirst, Xander returned to his camp and froze as he crested the hill. Below him three people were standing around his fire as they spoke. Adjusting his grip, Xander wondered if he was going to have to fight these people too. He was tired of fighting everything he came across and yes, he was lonely.
Walking towards them, Xander saw them turn to face him directly as an assortment of weapons also came to bear on him. Taking a deep breath, he slowed to a stop a short distance from the trio. Two were considerably smaller and he would have actually thought them children had one not sported a rather well groomed mustache while the female of the two had hair that reached down below her waist. At just over half his height, Xander watched their weapons carefully and decided that, small or not, these two were not to be taken lightly. The third member stood in the forefront, a heavy metal breastplate protecting him from damage as a long sword was held in the man’s hand.
Nodding to the trio, Xander held his new cutlass by his side as he watched them shift nervously before smiling and saying, “Well, since you haven’t tried to stick me with anything pointy yet I’m going to hope for the assumption that we will continue that trend.“
That at least managed to pull a smile from the small female as the two males just frowned slightly before looking seriously at his blade. Glancing down at it himself, Xander looked at the trio for a moment, “Yeah, you really think I’m putting up my blade with three armed unknowns in my camp?” Xander questioned before the two smaller beings grinned disturbingly.
“Five actually,” the small female said before nodding behind the young man from Sunnydale. Turning slightly, Xander froze as two black bears stood behind him, menacingly.
Blinking at the two animals, Xander tried to rationalize their appearance before his mind finally gave up and just accepted it.
Dropping his cutlass to the ground Xander stepped sideways, away from the blade and his ‘visitors’ as well.
Sitting before the campfire, Xander snorted slightly as he tore through another ration of hardtack and salted beef, a combination that he was sure would go down in history as the worst meal he ever loved. So good in fact that Xander barely had time to respond to the question the small party threw his way during the meal.
It turned out they were actually pretty good people. The Big guy was a Paladin of all things, servant of some ‘Torm’ guy or another and was called Isaaq. He had held up a small item in front of Xander after the small altercation earlier and then nodded at his companions. That had seemed to be a good thing as the party had returned his sword to him and then offered him food, something Xander was very happy about.
The two smaller ones were a brother and sister, a duo of Halflings. Had Xander not been as hungry as he was that would have likely thrown him for a loop, but like the Sea Drake two days before, it was something he filed away in his mind and rolled with the situation. Wakueena Rattlefoot and her Brother Mican were a druid and ranger respectively. The two hairy omnivores were their companions.
Nodding at the introduction, Xander had thrown his own name out there and stumbled through a rough draft of his past while depleting the food stock of the small group considerably in an urge to satiate his hunger.
Looking at the human as he finished his story, the trio looked between each other for a moment before nodding. They would help Xander find his way home if possible, and if not, they would at the very least help him find a new home here.
(A/N) So here we have Xander meeting up with the party, ‘Yay’ next stop… Adventure…
And for the record, that Sahuagin nearly killed me… how embarrassing would that have been…