I don't own it. Moving right along....The Prophecies Cycle
Book I: The Red Moon Rises
Chapter 12: Recuperations21 to 27 Days until the Red MoonCastle Arndstet
Three Days travel north of the Lordship of Sunnydale
“Darla has almost certainly managed to get to Sunnydale before you, Luke.” A cool voice said softly, from the shadows of the room which the vampire in question was praying in.
The centuries-old male vamp ceased his prayers and looked up from the altar. Not long ago, it had been the focal point of a human shrine; but now it had been desecrated, defaced to service the worship of Amarra, the Order of Aurelius, and the Old Ones. Not to mention the Master. For many reasons Luke always preferred to pray at a defaced shrine, rather than one directly built for the purpose of worshiping the vampire god.
There was a feeling of power in such action, after all. Evil always thrived on destroying good, wherever it could be found. Putting away such thoughts, Luke stood and turned to face the speaker, not that he could see him – the shadows in which his newly arrived companion stood were always too solid for even vampire eyes to penetrate. But then, Luke didn't need
to see him. There was only one person who would dare to interrupt him during sacred moments such as this.
A man who had known too many masters, and currently served none of them.
“I am well aware of that possibility, Julian.” Luke said. “Now come out of the shadows you hide in. If you are going to try my patience with words, then speak them from where I can see you.”
“Why should I do that?” The owner of the voice – Julian – asked, sounding amused within the darkness. “You and all your ilk are vampires. I am human, and gladly seek to remain that way. Granted, the concept of immortality sounds pleasant, and it’s not as if I ever spend any time in the sunlight anyway; but somehow, I don't find the idea of a demon inhabiting my body and eating blood for the rest of eternity at all palatable.” He chuckled. “Besides, your attempt to distract me is pointless. Darla is already there, most likely, and you are still some distance away. She always was more goal-oriented than you, I must admit. You stop to deface any holy place you can find during your journeys, and kill in large numbers while you’re doing it. Supremely counter-productive, for anyone with an appointment to keep.”
“The Time of the Red Moon is still far enough away so as to matter not my tardiness. The offerings in blood I have made to Amarra, to Aurelius, to the Old Ones, and to the Master – they are all more than enough recompense for any slight delay in arrival. And it is worth my time to allow Darla to think she will emerge victorious before bringing her down low, where she belongs. Simply hold up your end of the bargain, and when the Master returns, you will get your money.”
“I always uphold my end of the bargains I make, Luke. It’s why I've managed to live this long. It’s the company I keep that always keeps dying off.”
“Something I have noticed for myself.” Luke said darkly. “Cross me, and you will eventually beg me for death before I finally kill you.”
“Cross you? Luke, please. I never even considered that.”
“Lie to me again, and I'll kill you at once on general principles!” Luke shouted at Julian furiously. “You bleed like any other mortal man...all your other abilities aside.”
Julian just laughed. “I’ll let you in on a secret, Luke. And that is, I'm as mortal as you are.” And then, as suddenly as he had appeared, Julian Parthenos was gone, vanished from within the shadows. Sunnydale Chapel, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
“He'll live.” Amy said shortly, after examining the unconscious Xander with her magic. “But he's going to have trouble walking on that leg for a while.”
“Can't you do anything about that!?” Cordelia demanded. “Seriously, Amy, what am I paying you for?!” She had placed herself in charge of the castle contingent as her mother was still a useless wreck, and had taken to cowering in the farthest corner of the Church. The building was a burnt out husk of its former self, but it was still holy ground, and therefore the safest place to hide from the vampires even during the night-time hours. For now, anyway.
“Need I remind you that you're not actually paying me anything?” Amy snapped at Cordelia. “Not you, and not your mother. There is no binding agreement between us, and you couldn’t afford my services right now, anyway. Personally, I don’t know why I haven’t abandoned all of you and left Sunnydale yet. It must be because of a conscience I'd thought had long since atrophied into nothingness...”
“I would've thought your conscience was completely atrophied as well.” Angel commented from where he stood in the shadowed area of the chapel, away from the others.
Amy, of course, knew full well what he was. She had met Angel before, likewise Buffy and Faith. So far, Amy figured, Cordelia, her mother Lady Chase, and the guard, Xander, didn't know what this cursed creature
was. Angel's soul didn't protect him from holy water or holy symbols, but unlike other vampires he could walk onto holy ground like this and survive. It did leave him on edge, and uncomfortable, though.
“Coming from you, Angel, that is beyond rich!” Amy shot back with a venomous glare.
“You know, Amy...” Faith said, from her position close to the door. She was keeping watch while Buffy caught some sleep, before they swapped roles. “When someone gets expelled from the Coven for misusing magic and being, you know, generally evil, they're not supposed to go and get hired by some rich lord in order to become rich themselves.”
“Really. So then all this,” Amy gestured widely, encapsulating their situation, “Is karmic justice for me, then? This,” She touched the lump on her head gently, “too?”
“Maybe. I’m not sure what the karmic justice for being a power-hungry bitch is, but if you believe that all this is your just desserts, then I’m not going to argue with you about it.” Faith replied.
“What about you and Miss Priss sleeping in the back, then?” Amy replied coldly. “Just out of curiosity, what's your karmic justice?”
“We live to kill vampires. That’s it. No chance of a husband or children. No chance to be anything but a Daughter of Sineya. For all our powers, that’s our lifelong calling – and our curse,” Faith said harshly, even though her head never wavered from its position keeping a lookout at the front door.
“Look, whatever your malfunctions are, people, don't we have other things to be concerned about? Like what the vampires are doing in Sunnydale?” Cordelia demanded. “Why are they here? I mean, since when do the undead invade a human township this? Aren't they supposed to be all lone-wolf hunters or whatever?”
“Well, usually they operate in small gangs and nests, but yes, you’ve got a point; they don't usually gather in groups this big. Except whenever there's a cult involved, of course. Vampire cults are annoyingly common.” Amy replied. “I don't know which cult these vampires are aligned with, though.”
“The Order of Aurelius.” Angel supplied. “I have first-hand experience with them.” Yes, I don't doubt it.
Amy understood that comment for what it meant. She idly wondered how long Angel could keep his...secret from Cordelia, her mother and Xander, once he woke up. Not that it really mattered; the two women were no threat to the former Angelus, and while Xander might try to kill the vampire first and ask questions later...in his current physical state, the attempt to do so would be a pitiful failure. Even assuming one of the Slayers didn’t knock him out cold again for daring to attack their pet vampire.
Amy idly considered blurting out the secret just to spite Angel. She was far less fond of the undead jackass than she was Buffy or Faith; given what he had done as a soulless monster, Angel’s moralistic judgments were the height of hypocrisy, in her opinion. The only one she hated more than Angel was, in fact, Willow. She hated all the others in the Coven too...but that tattle-tale, do-no-wrong, butter-wouldn't-melt-in-her-godsdamnned-mouth red-haired bitch Willow had earned the worst of Amy’s venom. Even though there was once a time we were close friends, I truly hate her. Loathe her. I’d kill Willow if I could! Still, one day, she'll get hers. From me, or someone else. Someday...
Amy quickly shook her head and decided to focus. No, given the situation, it probably wasn’t wise to mention what Angel was to Cordelia yet. It could wait for later, especially with the way the dead nobleman’s daughter was eying the undead bastard appreciatively. Best to let her foolish crush develop a while longer; it would be so amusing to see the expression on Cordelia’s face later on, when the brainless little twit finally realized that she had been lusting after a vampire.
“The Order of Aurelius is here because six-hundred years ago, an extremely old and powerful master vampire called, creatively, The
Master was imprisoned under the earth in a castle north of here.” Angel continued. “The Red Moon is coming, and apparently, there's a prophecy that says that when the Red Moon rises, the Master will be freed. Which would be...bad.”
“Wait, do you mean – those old ruins at the edge of the lordship?” Cordelia demanded, eyes wide with incredulity. “That place is an abandoned wreck! It's been crumbling for decades, ever since my great-grandfather founded the Lordship – no, even before then. That place wasn't even worth restoring to turn into a decent castle anymore. So are you telling me there's a – no. That's impossible!”
“Well, tell that to all the vampires that just invaded your town.” Angel said harshly, before examining Xander carefully. “Once he's recovered, you three should leave here as fast as you can.” Then he turned to Amy. “Remind me, did they teach you about sending spells before you got yourself kicked out of the Coven?”
“Sure, Angel, rub salt all over a well-healed wound, thank you very much.” Amy snarked back at him. “Seriously, you already need new material, so stop embarrassing yourself that way. The same goes for Buffy and Faith! And no, they didn’t teach me about that sort of thing while I was with the Coven. I don't know any way to get word to the Slayers faster than sending someone on foot, or horseback. But just so you know, Angel, Xander isn't going to leave after he wakes up simply because you order him to do it. He's stubborn like that.”
“Then you’ll have to persuade him otherwise. This township is no place for civilians, not anymore. Or even a castle guard! He did well enough, I suppose, but look at him now. The man's in no fit state to be anything but a snack, for any vampire that happens to find him.” Angel said dismissively.
“Well enough?!” Cordelia demanded, feeling like she should defend Xander for some reason. Maybe it was because she instinctively felt like her survival was somehow tied to his, or because the ex-House Chase guard was the last remaining fragment of the noble-born life she had lived; but whatever the motivation, Cordelia told Angel angrily, “He's the only reason we're still alive!” Then it dawned on her, “Xander's the only reason I'm not a vampire right now! That crazed psychotic idiot...what was his name, Jesse? He was ranting about making me 'his'!” She shuddered. “So don't talk about Xander like that!” Cordelia added imperiously.My, my. Since when have you and Harris been on a first-name basis, Lady Chase?
Amy thought to herself in amusement. Three days ago, I would have sworn that you never would have deigned to admit that you even knew Xander’s name. Odd how circumstances can make a person out of a princess, isn’t it?
“Whatever you say.” Angel said to the brunette indifferently, wandering away to talk to Faith. He therefore missed the infuriated look Cordelia sent him at being dismissed so cavalierly, even though Amy didn’t. Still scowling fiercely, Cordelia went to talk to her mother, hoping to persuade her to wake up to the reality of their situation. So indulging a personal whim, Amy went over to stare at the sleeping Buffy.
“What are you doing here?” Angel’s gruff voice said from behind her back, causing the witch to chuckle darkly.
Amy turned around to face the vampire, smirking. “None of your business. At least, no more than it’s any of my
business if you’ve finally bedded Buffy yet. Of course, if you wish to volunteer that information-”
“You were right the first time. That’s none of your business,” Angel cut Amy off at once.
“Ah. Then the answer’s no. I thought as much.” The Madison woman never stopped sending Angel that evil smirk as she added, “As I recall, Buffy always wanted you the way a woman wants a man
; even if you don’t exactly qualify as a man, of course. Willow, Tara and I even had a wager about it, when we were teenagers; whether or not one night, Buffy would succumb to temptation and act upon her womanly desires. You know – throw you down onto her bed, rip off your pants and then impale herself on your-”
“That’s enough out of you, witch
,” Angel rasped, fighting not to let his game face show. He cursed himself at once for losing his temper, for letting Amy get under his skin this way; but it was too late to take the comment back now.
Indeed, Amy instantly seemed a lot more cheerful. “What are you going to do if I refuse to remain silent, Angel? Bite me? Oh, but you wouldn’t do that on account of your poor, tortured soul. An ensouled vampire with feelings for a Daughter of Sineya; it’d be tragic, if it wasn’t so laughable! And it must drive you mad, mustn’t it? Smelling Buffy’s arousal, every time she comes near you. Knowing that all it would take is a single word, a gesture, a look even – and Buffy’s body would be yours for the taking...”
“And then what?” Angel demanded. “What can I offer Buffy, or any other woman? A man’s love? You said it yourself, I don’t exactly qualify as a man. Plus, what do you think the elders would do to her, once they learned that Buffy had willingly become one flesh with a vampire? She’d be thrown out of the Daughters in disgrace, the same way the Coven threw you out of their ranks, and I’d never see her again. And she’s too precious to me to ever let that
“I see. Well, that does make a certain amount of sense, I suppose.” Amy replied, looking thoughtful. “Of course, there is
a simple solution to your problem.”
“What are you talking about?” Angel demanded, frowning.
“Convince Buffy to let you turn her into a vampire, and then have someone restore her soul; the same way the Coven did with you,” Amy replied, that evil smirk instantly appearing back on her lips. “Those are incredibly dark magics, granted, but I’d be willing to perform the curse for you; well, for the right price, anyway. That way, you and your lady love could be together forever, or at least until dust do you part. Imagine it, Angel – making love to Buffy every night, for the rest of eternity...”
“I already told you once, witch, that’s enough
out of you!” Angel snapped. “And don’t you dare mention that sick and perverted plan of yours to Buffy, you hear me? Or else soul be damned, I’ll snap your neck in an instant!”
Amy immediately ignited a fireball in her right hand, causing Angel to back off at once. “You could try, vampire. But I haven’t lived this long by leaving myself vulnerable to threats from an undead, lovesick idiot like you. So keep your distance from me, or soon enough – Buffy will be crying over fiery ashes!” So saying, Amy extinguished the fireball and strolled away, deciding to check on Xander’s state of health. Angel quick departed as well, trying to calm down before he did something stupid.
Neither of them paid any attention to Buffy, who was still curled up as if asleep; but the young woman’s eyes were wide open, and had her back not been turned to her companions, everyone would have seen the tears streaming down the Slayer’s cheeks after being forced to listen to that particular conversation.