I still do not own it.
Thanks to Starway Man, my beta. Any mistakes are mine, not his.The Prophecies Cycle
Book I: The Red Moon Rises
Chapter 10: Deceptions21 to 27 days until the Red MoonChase Castle, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
Within the castle, there was no realization that Angel was coming towards Sunnydale Town with two Slayers in tow. What there was was a realization that there existed a thorn in the vampires' side; one that had proceeded to unboard and open up nearly every damned window in the castle, and areas that had previously been considered 'safe' were now a death-trap for the unwary vampire carrying out Darla's orders. More than one bloodsucker had burst into flames today, thanks to that annoying bastard of a guardsman and that damned witch companion of his.
Unfortunately, they had retreated to safety (well, what passed for it in a castle full of the undead, anyway) and they were not going to be removed easily. The laws of threshold were very real, and very, very, very aggravating.
Still, in other ways, the occupation of Sunnydale was proceeding nicely. True, thresholds were a problem down in the lower town, but there they could just burn the buildings – most of which were wood – and snack on the people as they ran out to escape burning to death. The first target of that had been the Church. That structure, unfortunately, had been mainly stone; but throw some sticks covered in oil-soaked burning rags in through the windows, and things were going to catch fire.
The holy building may have been mostly stone and mortar, but it nonetheless had a lot of flammable things in them – wooden support beams, benches, tapestries – especially tapestries – and, most importantly, Amarra-damned priests. The less of which were in the world, the better, as far as Darla was concerned. An attitude she'd had since before the Master had given her his gift, and turned her, given her her name.
“I am going to turn her.” Darla's most recent childe said behind her. “I'm going to turn Cordelia, and make her mine, and there's nothing you can do or say to make me change my mind about it!”
Darla turned to face him, letting her game face appear for just a moment and looking annoyed at the fledgling's tone. “There's a great many things I could do to you, Jesse. I could stake you, cut your head off, chain you to the ground outside and let you greet the sunrise..." The female vampire abruptly backhanded Jesse away savagely, in order to teach her newborn (for all of five minutes, now!) his place in the grand scheme of things. "Get up. Now. And I'll admit it's all well and good to plan to get your little lady love; but I shouldn't need to point out that she's safely behind a threshold, and doesn't look to be coming out any time soon!”
“You won't kill me.” Jesse said with a smug smirk, wiping the thin trail of lukewarm blood away from his lips where Darla had broken skin, and crossing his arms over his chest.
“And why would that be, pray tell?” Darla asked, picking up a sword and testing it out for balance.
“Because the guard that's been causing you so many problems? That even that blonde asshole and his psychotic girlfriend couldn't kill?”
“Yes? What of him?” Darla asked, exasperated, snapping out the demand.
“I know him! In fact, I'm Xander's best friend – or at least, the pathetic human I used to be was, anyway.” Jesse smirked at the expression on Darla's face. "So, still planning to use that sword you're holding?"
"Don't get too
cocky, boy," Darla snapped, tossing the weapon down. “So, what was your plan? To show up and pretend you're still human, beg him to invite you into the room? The castle's overrun by vampires. And your insipid little guardsman friend can't be stupid, or else he wouldn't have lasted against us for as long as he has! He won't give you a verbal invitation!”
“Well, I never said he would. But like I did say, I know him; and Xander isn't going to just cut his best friend's head off, vampire or not. His mind simply doesn't work like that; Xander cares too much about his friends and family. So killing him will be easy enough, I just need to get him out of the room.”
“And just how do you propose to do that, hmm?” Darla was intrigued – a little. Unlike the majority of her minions, this one seemed to be at least thinking
a little. Which was potentially promising. Or else, maybe Jesse was just making it all up as he went along. Either way, she'd give him enough rope to either succeed or hang himself trying.
“The same way the rest of us are doing down in the lower town. Fire. Smoke them out.”Jesse said gleefully, rubbing his hands together.
Hmm. At least he has ideas, even if the young fool has no tactical experience whatsoever.
“Oh, yes, now why didn't I think of that?” Darla pitched her voice higher than normal for a few moments. “Because I did, you moron
! Yes, we burnt out the church that way, but that building had a dozen windows; and all of them large, and with easily breakable stained glass. Plus, it was a free-standing building that was able to be surrounded. You think we can do the same thing here, in our chosen stronghold? I don't know about you, but I'm of no mind to see the entire castle go up in flames. And they have that damned witch in there with them. What makes you think she can't just snap her fingers and put out any fire you try to start, just like that?”
The Jesse vampire was now scowling at his sire. He hated being made to look like an idiot as much as the next soulless demon, after all. “Well, I don't see any of your other minions coming up with ideas. I try out my plan, what exactly do you have to lose? A few oil-soaked rags? Hardly that big a deal, when you get right down to it.”Interesting. It looks like there is a bit of spine there, after all; he's not even considering his own personal safety...
Darla thought to herself, as she considered Jesse's words. She had been right to turn this one. Apparently the youth was one those rare vampires that seemed to retain their ability to solve problems, rather than becoming just another meat-headed thug. The Order of Aurelius often got the vampires who were in between. They weren't just mindless brutes, but they weren't that good at problem-solving either.
To be honest, most of the Master's bloodline were just fanatical pricks who liked to quote scripture and ominous-sounding, vague prophecy. Or just appropriate sounding words that at least sounded like they were from Aurelian scripture. Luke was a prime example of that.
“Well, true enough. Your plan does cost me nothing. Even if you die, more of my followers will be coming to Sunnydale soon anyway.” Darla said to Jesse musingly. As will Luke's...that bastard can't be that much farther away now...I can't be seen to not be in control of the situation when he gets here. Guess I'm in the mood to try anything...
Darla went over to the door of the rooms she had commandeered for herself and opened it. “You, and you.” She said, pointing to the two vampires standing outside of the room, holding swords of their own, points resting on the ground. “You two will follow Jesse here and obey his orders as if they were mine. Fail to do so, and you will
answer to me afterward. Do you understand?”
“Y-Yes, My Lady.” One of them stammered out.
“Good. Go.” She shooed all three of them. Jesse grabbed a sword of his own. She caught a snippet of a sentence as they walked away.
“To start, we'll need a number of unlit torches....”Impetuous fool. If you survive this, maybe it'll teach you that there's more to un-life than what's between the legs of that damned nobleman's daughter!
Darla looked back out the window, uncovered this time, onto the town below. Given the pace they were eating the inhabitants, they would be out of food within a week. And that was assuming no more vampires arrived, which was a fool's assumption. Darla knew that at least a dozen more of her followers were barely a day away, and she had issued the call, by magic and by runner, for each and every Aurelian vampire loyal to her to join her at Sunnydale.
Sooner or later, Darla knew, they would be moving out of Sunnydale Castle. As grand as the structure was, it served no purpose in her broader objectives. The castle in which the Master had been...sealed away by the Daughters and their filthy witches was to the north. Or, at least, presumably so; since it hadn't exactly been maintained by anyone for the last six-hundred years. The center of the Hellmouth's dark energies was there, a nexus of power that had served her sire well in his efforts to bring back the Old Ones, and wipe clean the scourge of humanity.And when he rises, it will be me, Darla, not Luke, that stands by his side, heralding the dawn of a new, pure world.The Gates of Chase Castle, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
Angel saw Spike and the vampires with him before they saw him. He tossed the knife he'd been hit by from hand to hand, then slipped it into an inside pocket of his coat. Without any difficulty, he jumped to the top of the ceiling of an unburnt building, walking across it, jumping silently from rooftop to rooftop as he drew close to his grandchilde. Then he dropped to the ground. “Hello Spike.” He said softly.
“Angelus-” Spike instantly looked up from the neck of the woman he was feeding from.
Angel forced himself to say what he was about to say. I just have to make sure Buffy doesn't find out about this part of it...
“Boy, you know that I've never been one to want for any of your scraps.” Suddenly, his face shifted from human to demon, “But then, I have
been living on pig and cow blood for the last century.” He suddenly lunged forward, grabbed the barely-alive woman from Spike and sank his fangs into the other side of her neck, away from Spike's bite marks. He drank.Oh-gods-so-fucking-delicious-I-can't-believe-it...
Despite himself, Angel could feel the rush flowing through him, the human blood was...so....so...invigorating. It had been so long, he'd almost forgotten. For a moment Angel almost felt as if he could single-handedly destroy the entire Order of Aurelius, as the hot and delicious fluid rushed down his throat. But then Angel managed to remember who he was nowadays, and why he was here. So he forced himself away from the woman, and shoved her back at Spike, who let her fall to the ground; the other vampire was too busy looking at Angel to catch her technically still alive body.
“A little bit goes a long way.” Angel said, wiping his mouth idly. “Especially when you haven't had it for as long as I have.”
Spike cocked his head. “Didn't the damn Slayers give you a soul a century ago.?”
“Technically,” Angel corrected, “It was a coven of witches aligned with the Slayers that tried to give me a soul. They didn't succeed at it, however.” Angel said, an evil smirk on his lips. “I'm still the same old me. SURPRISE!” His face went back to a human-like one.
Spike sniffed deeply, but luckily he couldn't smell Angel's soul thanks to his grandsire's foresight and planning. Nonetheless, the younger vampire still wasn't convinced. “So how come you've been hanging out with the Daughters of Sineya all this time, then? On account of people do talk, Angelus. About what you've been doing to our kind. It's not natural, working with Slayers. Hell; even Luke, that bloody tosser, wouldn't use Slayers against Darla and her crew!”
“I know you're fond of the quixotic and pointless, Spike.” Angel spat. “But I happen to like
maintaining my existence, thank you very much. So if that means playing along so that the Daughters of Sineya don't try to turn me into dust, so be it. Or worse, they might try doing that damned spell again – and this time, maybe get it right! I've no interest in that happening, boy, and if only you'd use the brain I remember you once had, you'd know it as well.”
Spike scowled viciously, before his expression became more focused and suspicious. “So you've been fooling the humans with an act, all this time? And none of them ever figured it out?”
Angel shrugged. “What can I say? I'm a damned good actor. And no one ever said Slayers won awards for being smart.” He licked his fangs, unconsciously trying to find any drops of the woman's blood that he hadn't swallowed. “They sent me here along with two Daughters, when they found out about some prophecy. Not that they bothered to mention details, other than it had something to do with the Master. I don't suppose you know anything more?”
Spike shrugged. “Yea. Something about a prophecy drew Darla here. Me?” He shook his head. “I couldn't care less. I'm here for Dru, and for the killing. So how'd you get away from your little Slayer handlers then?”
“Told them I'd come up here, do some reconnaissance.” Angel smirked. “Well, granted, I didn't use a word quite that complicated. Would've gone right over both their heads if I had. Still, they're hanging out down near the entrance of town, waiting for me to rejoin them.”
Spike smirked. “Well, then let's go get 'em. Been a few decades since I tasted Slayer blood!” He turned to head down the street. Angel's hand snaked out and grabbed Spike's shoulder, pulling him back. Spike lashed out at him, but Angel caught the fist before it could reach his face.
“You go down there, you get killed by them. Now, personally, that sounds like fun to me – I can have all the fun with Dru that I want-” Despite himself, he smirked inwardly – as well as outwardly – at the snarl that Spike let out at that idea. Soul or not, getting a rise out of his grandchilde never
got old, it seemed. “But this is a whole lot bigger than just two Daughters of Sineya. Besides, I'm not in the mood to just kill them. Well,” He added. “I'm not in the mood to kill one of them. When we get that far, you can have the dark-haired one. But the blonde one's mine.”
“You're going to turn a Slayer?” Spike snorted with laughter, then started to chuckle. “Bloody hell, that's brilliant!
” He kept laughing for a few moments, thinking of the ramifications of that act. How it would demoralise the rest of the Slayers, not to mention make them look like the complete fools they were, and give rise to an ally who knew all of the enemy's secrets. “Same old Angelus, aren't you? You twisted, conniving, evil old bastard! But why her, in particular?””
“Buffy's a real looker. Talented at giving head, too.” Angel chuckled darkly, mimicking Angelus perfectly. I did live his life for a century and a half. All that he was...all that he did. It's still here...
Suddenly, Angel found himself wondering just how much of this was an act, as he reminded himself never to mention details of this conversation to either Buffy or Faith. The odds were Buffy in particular would not deal well, given her...feelings.
"Buffy? What kind of a name is that?" Spike smirked, shaking his head. “So apart from personal preference - what exactly is it, then,” he shrugged Angel's hand off his shoulder, “that's keeping you from just going down and feeding on them, right now?”
“Because as part of my cover, I trained them both. Personally. That's how I know first-hand just how good those two Daughters are; together, they'd have a good chance of destroying me. So believe me when I say you can't take them both on yourself.” Angel smirked again, staying perfectly in character. “I mean, if you could never beat me – ever
– then I have no idea how you can think you can possibly beat those two!”
Spike snarled again and lunged at Angel. The ensouled vampire ducked under the blow and kicked Spike's legs out from under him. Still, Spike managed to avoid falling flat on the ground, half-crouched on his knees. He pulled himself back up and glared at Angel, who made no move to continue the fight; something which actually gave him more credibility in Spike's eyes, oddly enough. "Try that again, old man, and I'll have your entrails to wear as a belt!"
"Promises, promises."Angel nodded to the castle. “Darla in there?”
“Yea.” Spike said, hands clenched into fists.
Angel saw that and smirked. “Good, let's go see her. I'm telling you, boy, I've missed
her! Oh, and by the way, Sybold's dead.”
Spike's eyes widened for a moment at that, then he chuckled again. “Bloody hell. You beat me to it! Couldn't stand that sanctimonious blighter.”
Angel smiled evilly. “You too, huh?” He turned towards the castle. “Well, I'm going in there to see Darla. If you decide to go and face the Slayers, just make sure they stake you somewhere in the shade so I can come back for your ashes later. And throw them down the sewer, before I, ah, comfort
Spike watched his grandsire stroll towards the gates of the castle, before he easily dealt with the two vampire guards who had no idea who he was and tried to stop him from entering the undead base of operations. Neither of them lasted long, so swearing viciously under his breath, Spike ran and caught up with Angel, escorting him the rest of the way.
No point in letting the annoying old git have a chance to seek out Drusilla, after all.Chase Castle, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
Jesse – or at least, the vampire that wore the face and body of Jesse – reached out and knocked on the door to the room that Xander and the other survivors were hiding in now: Lord and Lady Chase's suite. From what he'd been told, it was Xander, two other guards, that witch, Cordelia, and Lady Chase were all holed up in those rooms.
Which really, when Jesse considered, it, was perhaps a few too many blood bags to take on by himself. If it had been Xander and the two guards alone, the odds would be a lot more in his favor, especially since Xander would be hesitant to kill him...but the two vampires Darla had assigned to him wouldn't be that useful against the witch. Cordelia and her mother he could almost dismiss from consideration, even though Jesse knew that Xander would be motivated to protect the two helpless women. His former friend had often shown a white knight's mentality, on occasion.
Ah, well. Time to give the plan his best shot.
On the other side of the door, Xander looked up immediately from sharpening his sword – sleep was a nearly alien concept to him at the moment. He hadn't gotten any of that recently. Bar one hour this morning...
“You're not thinking of answering that, are you?” Cordelia demanded as she saw Xander get up and head for the door.
“Actually, I was.” Xander answered.
“What are you, deficient?” She demanded. “Its not going to be anything but a damn vampire. If I had known you were such an idiot, Xander, I'd have had father fire you years-” Cordelia broke off as she realized what she was saying. Dad's....dad's dead...
She bit her lip, fighting back tears for a moment.
Xander didn't catch what was going on in Cordelia's head. “In case you didn't realize it, milady, I swore a life-long oath of fealty to your father; not your mother, and especially not you
. So now that Lord Chase is dead, I owe you and Lady Chase nothing - even though this 'idiot' saved your mother's life, remember?"
"Xander, do you think you and Cordelia could possibly get over yourselves for a moment? We are in trouble here," Amy snapped, looking annoyed.
Xander ignored her. "Sooner or later, Cordelia
, we'll get out of this damned mess and go our separate ways; but for now, we're pretty much stuck together. So how about you keep your mouth shut, unless you have something productive
to say?!” Xander demanded, ignoring the frowns of his two fellow guards as he walked to the door. “And of course
it's a vampire! But last time I checked, they didn't just knock on someone's door.”
“And have you ever
checked?” Cordelia snapped back, feeling hurt and infuriated by the way this, this, commoner
had dared speak to her. No one but her father did that! Except now... No. There's no time to mourn Daddy's loss. Not now...
Still, if there was one thing that could keep her distracted, it was a good argument; and right now, Xander was the perfect choice for that.
“No.” Xander admitted, thrown off his balance, as it were. Then he shook his head, as if to clear it. “That's not the point. We have a threshold to cover us, and since technically the only one left who can invite anyone in is your mother, and she's drunk herself into an unconscious stupor, I think we're good. Which means that I'm going to open this door and see what the vampire on the other side wants. Hey,” He added, smiling. “If we're lucky, they might be offering,”
He opened the door, and saw who was standing on the other side. “....room service...” He finished, voice incredulous.
Jesse, leaning against the other side of the door frame with one hand, smiled. “Hey Xander. Miss me-”
Right before Xander, with a burst of insight, held up an icon of Adun, and the newly turned vampire let his demon face show as he hissed and recoiled angrily. “Now that wasn't
nice!”Chase Castle, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
“Oi, Darla.” Spike said, brushing past the guards stationed outside her door and practically kicking the door in as he entered. “Something you should see.” He stepped aside. Angel, not for the first time, wished he had working lungs so he could take a deep breath, steeled himself and entered the room.
“What do you want, Spike?!” Darla demanded, furious at the interruption. She had been planning on how to assassinate Luke when the time came, but now all her musings had been for nothing. “I swear, I'm of half a mind to-” And then she saw him. “Angelus?” She said softly. No, it can't be him...but...of course. I knew the Daughters of Sineya would send him...
“Why did you bring him here
, you idiot?!” the undead matriarch then demanded of Spike. “Why didn't you turn him into dust?!”
“Oh, come on Darla!” Angel protested. “I know I've been missing for a century; but what is that, really, compared against eternity? 'Tis nae worth killing me over, is it?” Angel affected the accent of his homeland, which he'd long since lost in normal conversation. Then he dropped back into his normal voice. “Besides, Spike actually beating me in a fight to the death? Not even he would buy that one!” He chuckled, then ducked under a half-hearted swing from his grandchilde. For the blonde-haired vampire, this was quite an enjoyable little show, hence the lack of effort in the punch.
“The Daughters of Sineya gave you a soul! You're here with them.” Darla brought a sword up to Angel's neck. “Give me one good reason not to dust you right now!”
Angel shoved the sword away from his throat and drew close to Darla, grabbing the front of her shirt and pulling her in, kissing her the way he used to...once. As he'd said, Angel was a good actor. He pulled away a short time later. “How about this? I don't have a soul, Darla!”
He smiled broadly, spreading his arms. “That spell of theirs never worked, even though those fool witches thought it did. I just haven't had a chance to get away from their Slayer friends until now. Great Amarra, you think they trusted
me for the first fifty years? I had to wait until all of the original spellcasters and the Daughters who knew Angelus had died of old age, before I was able to gain some semblance of freedom! And even then, it took me decades of acting before I managed to convince their grandchildren I was who and what they thought I was!" Can this be true?
Darla asked herself hesitantly, fighting an inner battle with her naturally distrusting nature; as, deep down, she wanted
it to be true. She wanted
her favorite childe back. "Go on."
Angel shrugged. "What else is there to tell? The Daughters heard of a prophecy concerning your sire, the old bat nose himself. So they sent two of their best here, along with meself. Those two idiot Slayers think I'm up here scouting the place out, while they wait by the entrance of town. I came here straightaway though, as Spike can tell you. Well, after I staked that mouthy prat Sybold, anyway.”
Darla eyed the so-called Angelus suspiciously. It seemed almost too good to be true; even though, like Spike before her, there was no smell of a soul anywhere that Darla was able to detect.
“You don't trust me?” Angel demanded, playing his old self to the hilt. “I'm hurt, Darla.”
“You'll get over it. And if it turns out you're telling the truth, then I'll let you punish me like you did two centuries ago. You remember; when you finally caught up with me, after I left you in that burning barn to Holtz's tender mercies.” Darla said, savoring the memory.
Angel forced himself to smirk darkly at that thought. “Now that
I'm looking forward to. Alright, so what do you want me to do to convince you that I'm not a liar?”
“Spike?” Darla said, turning to the other vampire. “Where's Drusilla?”
“Last I saw, stargazing on top of the north tower. Why?” Spike asked, frowning.
“Just get her and bring her here.” Darla ordered, staring at her great-grandchilde in contempt. "NOW!"Shit.
Angel suddenly realized where Darla was going with this. The only question was - could Drusilla actually tell, one way or the other, whether he still had a soul? Insane though she was, his childe still had the Sight...Chase Castle, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
“No...” Xander said, staggering back from the door. This couldn't be happening. Not my best friend...not Jesse. Not him, damn it!
“Oh, yes!” Jesse said maliciously, resuming his human mask. “Now, how about you let an old friend in for a little chat?” With a snarl, his human face was gone again...replaced with the image of the demon. “Or, you could just come out. Come on, Xander. Help a...hungry friend out.”
Xander's hand gripped the hilt of his sword. “Jesse...please...this isn't you.”
Jesse laughed. “Xander, Xander, Xander.” He made a tutting sound and shook his head. “I'm not Jesse. At least not the guy you knew. I'm better. Let's face it.” He said softly. “The old Jesse was a loser. A complete idiot with no prospects whatsoever. But now...” He spread his arms. “I'm a new man!
” He spoke enthusiastically. “You have no idea what this feels like. Come on Xander. Its not like we can't still be friends, especially if you come around to my
way of thinking. Think about it-”
Before he could say more, Cordelia grabbed a silver vase from a stand and tossed it, flowers and all, at Jesse. The recently turned vampire easily ducked under the object, chuckling.
“Ah, Cordelia. I'm going to have fun draining you...then making you just like me! Didn't know just how dumb you were until now, though. Silver doesn't hurt vampires. We're not werewolves, after all!” Jesse chuckled some more.
“I'm well aware of that, you undead pathetic idiot!” Cordelia snapped at Jesse. “I just wanted to interrupt your damned speech before you talked this moronic ex
-guard of mine into getting us all killed!” She gestured at Xander.
“Oh, it's not Xander that's going to get you all killed, my love. It's him.” Jesse pointed past them.
Despite themselves, both Xander and Cordelia turned to see another vampire crouched on the windowsill, just outside the threshold there. He threw a rock at Amy's head, knocking her out cold before she could defend herself; it had been Jesse's idea, after recalling what Darla had said concerning the witch. The two other House Chase guards were taken out the same way, the vampire's inhuman speed no match for the mortals in question.
Another vampire holding two sticks with oil soaked rags lit on fire in hand subsequently appeared at the windowsill. “Don't kill them; just set the room on fire!” Jesse said commandingly. The vampire snarled but quickly tossed one of the flame-sticks onto a wardrobe, and the other at a wall covered in tapestries...
Quicker than seemed possible, both targets were awash with flames. “The joys of Aurelian rituals, Xander!” Jesse said with a wide smirk. “Now, you can all just burn to death in there; or, you and Cordelia can come out here where we can eat you.”
“We? You're not Jesse, and I only see one of you...vampire.” Xander said, still trying to get past seeing his best friend as...one of them. It's not Jesse. It's not Jesse.
He tried to convince himself of that. It wasn't working terribly well, though. Its not Jesse,
Xander thought to himself as firmly as possible as he pushed Cordelia behind him, raised his sword and prepared himself to do something that (if he survived) would give him nightmares for years afterward.Author's Note:
I'm evil, aren't I? Next Time, on Red Moon Rises: Will Xander be able to end the unlife of his best friend-turned-Vampire? Will Angel's cover be blown by Drusilla? And what on earth will these two think when they meet eachother for the first time? Find out next time, on Red Moon Rises!