Yes, I know I've been ignoring my other stories. Well, not really ignoring so much as being stuck between real life (namely a sick batch of farm animals that need near constant tending), too many ideas, and not enough time. I'm working on them, really, and some of them will be updated really soon. I mean it this time. This was something that's been stuck in my head for years and I finally just had to write it down. Needless to say, it's AU, with Ethan showing up the Halloween before Buffy arrives. The impetus for this is that I haven't really written anything using Jesse and SpaceMary has been bugging me for a Xander-gets-super-powers story for some time now. And knowing me, it would never be exactly like she was expecting. I didn't want to do a typical Super-Xander story, so I needed to go my way and this is what I came up with. Also, since it's October, I felt it was the right time to start in. And thusly I present my new story. I hope at least some of you enjoy it.
I do not own DragonLance (Weis and Hickman) nor do I own Buffy (Joss). Just saying.
Ethan Rayne was rather excited, only a week to Halloween and it was going to be amazing. He had his finely formed plaster bust, his finely enchanted stock of costumes and enough herbs and candles to open up a wiccan supply shop. There wasn't any real rhyme or reason for him choosing the small city of Sunnydale for his little prank, but there was just something that called to him about it. He had just hung up the last of his 43 Dracula costumes when the front door chimed despite the fact that no one had passed by the brightly lit windows. Ethan turned around to see an old man in a worn gray suit and an equally worn fedora walk in and peruse the costumes, muttering to himself. He had a full head of long white hair and an equally snowy and long beard that he stroked every so often in thought. Occasionally he would scratch his head with the tip of his cane as if it was too much trouble to reach with his hand.
“Hello there, good sir,” Ethan greeted, fake smile in place. He walked swiftly with the cunning grace of a salesman to the old man's side. “How can this humble shopkeeper do for you today?”
The man glanced around, flipping through he racks of costumes one by one, muttering to himself about the quality and fitness of each to his goals. “Hmm...” he said as he looked at a couple suits of armor. “I'll need some changes made,” the bearded man said.
“Changes?” Ethan asked.
“Yes,” the old man said, handing over a few costumes. He dropped a list of changes on top. “Someone will be back to pick them up.”
“Having a party, old man?” Ethan inquired as he glanced at the list. The man grinned, looking up at him with an odd twinkle in his blue-gray eyes.
“A party?” the old man repeated in a bemused and partially confused tone. “Oh yes, there'll be a party the likes of which the 'Dale has never seen before.” He turned and pointed to a corner of the shop. “When you're done, hang them on that rack in the shadowy corner.”
Sunlight poured in on the corner in question, giving the illusion of peacefulness that Sunnydale days were known for.
“That corner's in bright light,” Ethan said, stating the obvious that the old man apparently hadn't noticed.
“Ah, but it will be nice and shaded by the time school is out,” the old man said with a smirk. The man reached into his sport-coat and pulled out a large unfolded leather wallet. He opened up the billfold and set three twenties on the counter. “As a deposit.”
Ethan glanced down at the bills and quickly slipped them into the register. When he was done, the old man was nowhere to be seen.
Ethan waited nearly a week and no one came for the costumes. In fact, no one even looked at the costumes in that shadowy little corner. Then, the afternoon of Halloween not even two minutes before Ethan was about to close shop, a young skinny teen picked them up, telling the Chaos Mage that they were exactly what he needed. The boy bought a few accessories and paid off the rest of the bill.
He watched the boy run off, his purchases turcked into his shopping bag. Ethan shook his head and turned the sign from “Open” to “Closed.”
It was nearly showtime.
“I don't know guys,” Willow said, holding up her costume to her body. “That’s a little...”
Willow made a few motions to emphasize that the outfit Jesse bought for Willow was more than a little skimpy. Not that it was indecent, just more skin than Willow was used to showing and in stranger places as well. Willow was not one of the most self-assured individuals in Sunnydale and the thought of going outside her shell was more difficult than one might expect for a girl her age.
Xander, however, was looking at the outfit with a different sort of trepidation.
“Jesse, how much did you spend on this,” he asked, holding up with heavy cotton robe. It was crimson, bright and trimmed with a black band with golden runes. It was high quality and probably cost a pretty penny. Then there was the real steel dagger, the leather belt and the leather belt pouch. Things like this didn't come cheap. His friends knew that Xander was sensitive to what things cost, not having had that much growing up as his more wealthy friends did. Willow, with her globe trotting, psychologist parents practically had the house and credit cards to herself. Jesse, the son of more attentive doctors, still had a larger monthly allowance than Xander did in a year.
“Not that much, try it on,” Jesse said, deflecting the question. Xander looked at his friend warily, but his eyes kept being drawn back to the red robes. Jesse handed him three more small packages. “Face-paint, hair dye and contacts.”
Glancing at the label, Xander's eyes widened. “Golden face-paint? I'm going as Raistlin
“Yup, and I'm going as Caramon and Willow as Tika,” Jesse explained.
“I am?” asked Willow, with a confused look on her face.
“You are,” stated Jesse flatly, as he turned her head away from the closet that held her old standby: the Ghost. “And you are not sneaking out of this. You both promised that we could go with matching costumes this year.”
“When you said DragonLance, I was thinking of going as Sturm and you as Tanis,” Xander said. He'd already planned on how to make the costume too: cardboard and tinfoil. “Isn't Raistlin your
“Well, yeah,” Jesse said, not making eye contact, “but Cordy isn't going to look my way with me wearing red robes and carrying a staff, no matter how cool the character is. I'm going for the Warrior Look.”
“You're a skinny white nerd, Jesse,” Xander reminded him. “Just like me.”
“Not all warriors have big bulging muscles,” Jesse protested.
“Yeah, they're called elves and last time I checked, your ears were pretty rounded,” Xander snarked as he stuffed the costume back into its bag, knowing he'd lost the debate and it was far too late to change things at this point.
“Whatever,” Jesse said, waving his friend off.
That night Raistlin glanced around at the strange landscape before him. Houses, similar in style to those of his home village, yet so different, lined a street that had been paved not with cobblestones, but some kind of dark substance that had been flattened and painted with white and yellow stripes. Glancing at the arrows drawn on the pavement, he wondered what could have happened that people would be so incompetent and idiotic as to need a reminder of what side of the road to walk on. Some disaster on the scale of Istar, no doubt.
The red robed mage glanced up at the sky, shocked to find Lunitari missing, and only Solinari. Just last night the Red Moon was gibbous, and for it to have vanished...either Lunitari had come to walk amongst the mortals or he, himself had left Krynn. Judging by the strange contraptions about him, like those rolling down the road with no horse to pull it, or resting like wagons on the sides of the road, Raistlin suspected the latter. And that didn't even begin to take into account the bright lights on either side of the street which were clearly not fire.
Small creatures ran around causing havoc, more than a few looked like goblins of various skin colors, red and green being the most prominent, while still other, larger creatures ran around. The one thing that had yet to cease was his vision of death. All were cursed in his hourglass eyes and all he saw was decay and death.
Some of the creatures noticed him, so with a few muttered words, Raistlin slammed his staff down on the strange pavement and called out a familiar phrase. “Shirak
Light, nearly as bright as the sun during the day, shone from the crystal topping his staff. The creatures shied away, some instinct telling them to flee. Raistlin glanced beyond and saw some creatures not in decay. Their skin was pale, sallow, even those with dark skin; their brow ridges more prominent than a human's should be; and their mouths filled with bloodied fangs. And in the light of the Staff of Magius brought wisps of smoke from their skin, causing them to fall back amidst hisses of pain as their skin darkened and seared like meat in a frying pan.
, you fear the light.” Raistlin said, pausing to cough before looking them in the eyes. “I know not what creatures you are, but you are not like the others.”
“Kill him,” commanded one of them, the voice nearly human, but warped by the fangs.
Raistlin whispered a few arcane phrases and missiles forged from pure magic flew from his fingers, impaling the creatures. It seemed to stagger them, but had little lasting effect. The closer they came to him, or rather The Staff of Magius
, the more their skin smoked. Within a foot, their skin started to burn. Cocking an eyebrow, he whispered a few more words and fiddled with some component from his pouch, sending arrows of flame streaming at them as if shot from a bow. Though it was still a relatively weak spell, it had the desired effect and sent the creatures cowering to ground as the flames consumed them. There was a fear behind their screams, a primal fear far beyond that of your average creature's fear of flame. There was no instinct to put it out, only panicked flailing until there was nothing but wisps of dust flowing into the darkness. The other three creatures ran off in fear, the smoke ceasing to billow from their skin the farther they ran, retreating from its recondite radiance.
His self satisfied smirk did not last long as a frantic coughing fit broke out, sending the wizard to his knees. He held himself up with his staff, still giving off light to the surroundings. Some property of the spectrum made the attacking creatures shun him, giving him time to recover. Just as he was about to pull himself upright, strong, familiar hands pulled him to his feet.
“There you go, Raistlin,” a familiar voice said as the hands let go.
“Hello brother,” Raistlin said, not looking at his “savior” to cover the anger he felt at being treated like a possession. “I was surprised to not see you there instantly when I was first attacked.”
He turned and stared for a moment.
“Caramon,” he pondered as he took in his brother's odd change in appearance. “You look...skinny
His brother had the good graces to blush and glance away, but there was no denying that he had lost a significant amount of body mass. But the embarrassment didn't last long. Shaking his head and thinking of memories long past, he glanced at his brother, his twin. In the common lore of Ansalon, twins were said to be one person, each possessing traits that the other needed to be whole. Caramon was the one the ladies always looked at. He was the strong one, the healthy one. Raistlin was the one with the cunning, the quick handed reflexes and an unparallelled mind and wit, not to mention a prodigious talent for the arcane. Caramon was the slow one, while not stupid, he did not possess the bright, sharp wit and intellect that served Raistlin so well. Raistlin was physically weak, sickly from birth; he only survived infancy due to the constant care of his elder half-sister, and his continued survival depended on Caramon's muscle.
“I was worried about you,” Caramon said. “Tika is here too, and we were fighting vampires.”
“Ah, vampires, so that is what they were,” Raistlin pondered. “Very different in appearance from what I have read.”
“We had to cut off their heads,” Caramon commented. “How did you...?”
“Fire works quite well,” Raistlin elaborated simply. Caramon stopped short.
“Raistlin, where are we?” Caramon asked, his tone showing off his fear of the unknown and his reliance on the mind of his brother.
“That I do not know,” he admitted, something the red robed mage never wanted to do. To admit that he was not knowledgeable on a subject was to admit that he was his brother's equal, at least on some level. And Raistlin hated that. He gritted his teeth and refused to make eye contact with the taller Majere.
“Well, uh, let's go see Tika and figure out what's going on,” Caramon suggested.
“Yes, brother, because barmaids are so wise in the ways of interplanar travel,” the mage replied scathingly, his voice a rasp, broken by coughs and dark laughter. “Yes, I'm sure she could just wave her fry pan and we'll go back to Krynn, pretty as you please.”
“Well, she's pretty smart, but I don't think she could really do that,” Caramon commented.
Raistlin stared at his brother for a long moment.
“I was being sarcastic.”
Caramon blushed and scratched his cheek in embarrassment.
“Oh.” he said.
Later, towards the middle of the night, neither brother wanting to sleep in such a strange place, Raistlin was reading in his book, memorizing the next day's spells. Tika, exhausted by the battle, was sleeping with her back to a tree with Raistlin to her left and his brother to her right. Her sword was unsheathed in her lap and her shield bound to her arm for quick use should she be jostled by either brother. Caramon, nominally on watch, took in everything about the strange town that was so different from Solace or any other town they saw in Ansalon. There was the light pitter-patter of bare feet on stone, and Caramon looked up to see a beautiful figure in the distance. She was blonde, lithe and had a build that could only be compared to beauties such as Marilyn Monroe and Frazetta's women. She walked out of the shadows, just barely into view and beckoned Caramon towards her.
Caramon is many things, but wise and possessed of a strong will are not among them. The figure and the infernal powers she possessed were nearly unchallenged in their enchanting of his psyche. Numbly, the tall man climbed to his feet and walked haltingly forward. All he could see was her, and for some reason, his brother, Tika, neither of them mattered. She was all he needed and thanks to her enchantment, that was all he needed to know. Her fingers drew him forward, calling him closer and closer.
He had made it half way before glowing green arrows flew straight and true, hitting the voluptuous female in the chest and face, melting skin as acid worked its way deep into her body, the scent of melting flesh wafting into the night air. In a fit of rage, the Succubus shed her disguise and attacked in earnest. Hands turned into claws, her tailbone grew into a full tail that whipped around with her displeasure; her feet turned into cloven hooves that clapped angrily on the strange pavement. Finally, two bright red leathery wings grew from her back that threatened to blow Raistlin over with their power.
“You should have never done that!” the infernal creature snarled, showing off her fangs.
“It is unwise to ensnare the mind of my allies, demon,” the mage in question replied, his fingers already moving towards his components pouch. Pig grease slathered on his hands, he spoke the magic word and flames flew out in a semicircle around his outstretched palms, catching the succubus off guard. While startling, they had little effect against such a creature, but it gave Caramon enough of a chance to shake off the charm effect. Tika, coming seemingly out of nowhere, slammed the Succubus from behind with her shield, sending the infernal seductress to her knees.
“Take that, ye vile skank!” she snarled as she bashed the creature once more with her shield.
Caramon shook his head, saw the true form of the creature before him, and promptly moved to cut off her head. The creature rolled to the side, and pulling up its innate magical abilities vanished instantly. Caramon could hear its screech of pain and fury off in the distance, but pulled back to protect his brother and girlfriend.
In the next few hours, they slew a large number of demons, goblins, and vampires, even a few ghouls and one mummy. But everything changed with the coming of the sun. The three natives of Solace watched in horror as many of the people changed as soon as the sun hit them. Goblins turned back into children; monsters transformed back into what they were before. Only the corpses remained unchanged.
Caramon stepped back in horror as he realized he had been slaughtering children under a magical curse. Bile rose in his throat and he went to his knees. The sun caught his arm, and he changed, the sword and armor transforming into fragile replicas of the real thing. He looked around in horror at the scene around him and ran blindly away, unfocused on his allies or enemies. Tika heaved, the remnants of her previous meal spilling out onto the sidewalk. She stumbled into the sun and the same thing happened, her clothes transformed into fragile, weak facsimile of the real thing. She collapsed against one of the steel lamp posts that ran along each street in this strange town and sobbed.
Raistlin was not quite sure what to do. That, more than anything, disturbed him. Logic, based on his observations suggested that he too, would transform as soon as his skin touched the sun's rays. That prompted the question of what was the true form: his present self or the human he would transform into, and even that was an assumption that he would transform into a human. Clinging to the shadows, he pondered the possibilities and decided, possibly for the first time since his Test, to do something selfless. If the person he transformed into no longer had his sight, his Curse
, then Raistlin was willing to sacrifice himself.
Pushing himself to his feet, he walked slowly, nearly stumbling, moving forward like an old man. Instead of just letting the sun just touch a small part of his body, he walked tall into full sun as it streamed across the horizon and down the street. It blinded him like no sun had ever done before. He had seen plenty of sunrises in his time as a mercenary and growing up in the treetop village of Solace. This felt different on his golden skin; it felt like a temporary cleansing of his ills. Raistlin propped himself up with the Staff of Magius and felt the world vanish.
Xander Harris found himself in the morning light wielding a plastic stick with a glassy plastic bauble on the end. The sun was bright and memories poured into his head that he knew weren't his. He shook his head to clear them from his mind and turned towards where Willow was sobbing. He leaned down, resting a hand on her shoulder.
“Willow,” he rasped, the sound of his voice rough and gravely to his ears, like he had just swallowed a wire brush. “Let's get you home.”
He held out a hand to the sobbing girl, only to snatch it away as he saw not Willow, but a rotting corpse that sobbed in her place. Mats of hair were torn from her scalp, and bones shown through her skin in places. Xander heaved, but recovered himself.
“Willow?” he asked, not sure if he wanted to know if he was right or not.
The corpse looked up to match his gaze. Xander took an unsteady step backwards, catching himself only with the plastic walking stick. Willow jumped to her feet as she noticed Xander start to lose balance; slipping his arm over her shoulder, the redhead tried to pick him up, only for him to fall into a nasty coughing fit. His entire body seemed to shake with each expectorate breath and his hand reached for her and missed. Blood flecked his lips on the next cough as he fell to the ground in a heap. He heard Willow calling his name, but it was lost with the rest of the world as everything slipped away.
Thanks be to GreyWizard for all thy help.