I don't own it.
Thanks to my Beta, Starway Man.The Prophecies Cycle
Book I: The Red Moon Rises
Chapter 13: Preparations20 to 26 Days until the Red MoonChase Castle, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
The blonde vampiress turned at the sound of the unfamiliar voice. She saw no one else in the room, and as if in reply to her unspoken question, there was a hollow chuckle. “You may as well stop looking, Darla. You'll not find me if I don't want to be found.”
“What kind of magic are you using to conceal yourself from my sight, you pathetic coward?” Darla snapped.
A stake flew in the air towards her from the shadows, but the female vampire swatted it away with ease. The male voice then said laughingly, “Tut tut, Darla. Watch who you call pathetic.”
“If that was supposed to be a show of your power, then I am less than impressed.” Darla snarled.
“Oh, please. Darla, if I wanted you dust, then I would have taken down that curtain and simply let the sunlight do its work for me - before you had even realized what happened.” There was a pause, but before Darla could speak, the voice added, “My name is Julian Parthenos.”
If Darla could breathe, there would have been a sharp intake of breath as she registered that name. As it was, despite her efforts, a look of recognition flashed across her face.
“Ah. So, I take it you've heard of me?” Julian asked, chuckling with more mirth. “It's always nice to be recognized, if not appreciated.”
“Appreciated? Your reputation precedes you. Your skills, and
your penchant for treachery.” Darla growled at the shadows, feeling annoyed by how she couldn't see who it was she was talking to.
“I'm insulted!” Julian protested. “I've never betrayed anyone.”
“And yet, everyone you've worked for has met with a bloody end? I do not believe that can be merely coincidence.” Darla pointed out.
“Coincidence, shmoincidence. My employers always die due to the actions of their enemies, and their own stupidity.” Julian replied. “And even if you were right – which you're not – then it should comfort you to know that Luke is my most recent employer.”
Darla laughed. “Now that's the best news I've heard all week.” It really is, too. Really, really good news...
She was still fuming over Angel and his attempt to play her for a fool. “But I'm not interested in paying you to betray him. Since that would mean you would work for me...which would defeat the purpose of trying to achieve victory myself.”
Julian laughed. “Smart. Very smart. Annoying too.” He shrugged, even though Darla couldn't see it. “Ah well. Can't blame a man for trying.” Then he fell silent, and said nothing more.
Darla waited for several minutes, wondering if he was gone. She had to admit, Julian Parthenos was...a mystery. She'd only heard bits and pieces about the man, but enough to doubt if he was actually a man at all. Still, she definitely knew enough to know not to trust him as far as she could throw him.
Which was likely to be a very short distance, since he refused to let anyone see him in order to grab hold of him in the first place.
But speaking of Luke...
Darla left her room and grabbed one of the guards standing outside of it, lifting him off the ground. “Where's Spike?” His failure, not once, but twice, left Darla wanting to rip the damn bastard's head off. Unfortunately, he was the closest thing she had to a half-way competent minion she had, except maybe for Jesse, and he was just as much of a failure during recent events as Spike.
“South...South Tower, Mistress!” the guard managed to get out. Good. Now, to deal with him and his damn lunatic...
Darla dropped the pathetic, gurgling minion and stormed down the hall, tearing a tapestry off the wall as she went. By the time she'd finally reached her destination, two suits of armor, three tapestries and a door had been torn away from where they'd belonged and broken or scattered, or both. She'd also taken the time to vent on two more of her minions, staking one that had the temerity at actually fight back as she pounded on him.
“SPIKE!” Darla shouted as she reached the South Tower.
“Oi, we're up 'ere!” Spike shouted down from the stairs. “Now what the bloody hell do you want, Darla?” What do I want? Well, they say actions speak louder than words...
Darla jumped the distance between herself and Spike and splashed a vial of liquid across the male vampire's face, watching in satisfaction as Spike's face burned and he bit back a scream.
“What the bloody hell!?
was that for, you psychotic bint?” Spike demanded, the barest hint of survival instincts stopping him from attacking Darla for her actions.
“Call it punishment. You've failed me twice in a very short span of time now. That does not please me.” Darla grabbed Spike by the front of his shirt and threw him backwards with all her undead strength.
Letting out a small yelp of pain, Spike pulled himself off the stairs and back onto his feet. Glaring at Darla he said, “So what are you planning to do? Stake me?”
“It's crossed my mind. But unfortunately, I have something more important for you to do. Gather the troops, everyone - even your damned lunatic Drusilla. Because tonight, we'll be leaving the castle. It's time for me to establish control over the Hellmouth.”Sunnydale Church, Sunnydale Town
Lordship of Sunnydale
I'm going to leave!” Xander shouted at Angel, once he'd woken up and heard the plan the vampire had proposed. “Sunnydale is my home-”
“Sunnydale is nothing
, you idiot!” Angel responded just as loudly. “This whole place is doomed now. There's no way we could take on all the vampires present here – there's too many of them – even if you didn't have a broken leg, and wasn't so beaten up you may well be a chew toy for a rabid dog.”
Xander sneered at the ensouled vampire. Not bad, for a commoner,
Cordelia thought to herself approvingly as she saw it. Maybe Father was right to hire Xander as a guard, he might actually have some potential...
Harris ignored her and said to Angel, “It's a great turn of phrase, I'll give you that. But it doesn't convince me I should just abandon my home to the monsters!”
“It's not about abandoning your home and your friends here, it's about saving your own life. You're only human.” Buffy interjected. “You've done pretty well managing to survive everything you've gone through so far, sure, but that's been mostly due to luck and vampire overconfidence. And now that you're wounded, your luck is going to run out if you don't get out of here while you still can.”
?” Xander snarled at her like an angry wolf, which actually made Buffy take a step back. “Really? Is that what you think, Slayer
? I've been lucky?” Xander glared at her, stretching the words just a little as he leaned in just a little. “I've been lucky, have I? Because I didn't know that luck had such a stretchable definition.”
Harris laughed hollowly before he said, “I mean, here I was, angry as hell at the vampires for attacking my home, killing my employer, breaking my leg, leaving me stuck in a room for two days with Princess Prissy over here-” everyone ignored Cordelia's "Hey!" of protest - “killing all the other guards in the castle – my friends
, most of them – and then, and here's the kicker, not only do they kill my best
friend, whom I've known since we were mewling infants together, but they turn him into a soulless fucking undead monster
! But now I get it! I've been lucky! Thanks a lot for telling me that, you condescending wench!”
"Hey!" Buffy grew mad after hearing that particular pejorative label.
"Watch you're calling a wench, stud." Faith said warningly, turning away from her whispered conversation with Amy. "Shape you're in, you wouldn't last a second against either me or Buffy here."
“Everybody calm down. And true enough, you haven't exactly been lucky.” Angel said to Xander. “But that's exactly the reason why you and your women should leave, now.”
"Hey, don't you DARE call me or my mother 'Xander's women'!!" Cordelia shouted angrily.
Xander ignored her, focusing on Angel. “I don't care. I'm not abandoning-”
Faith stopped him this time. “It's not a matter of abandoning everyone to save your own skin, pal. Look, Harris, you can't tell me that you think you'd actually be of any use in a fight right now, can you? Not in the condition you're in. You can't even walk unaided! True or false?”
Xander bit his tongue for a moment, then admitted quietly, “True. And I guess you're right, I can't tell you that...”
“So, let's look at this from the first rule of the Slaying: namely, 'don't die.' There are too many vampires for Buffy, Angel, Amy and I to take care of on our own.” Faith said reasonably.
“Hey! I'm not getting drafted into-”Amy started to protest.
Buffy grabbed the front of her shirt and lifted her clear off the ground, leaving the mercenary witch dangling and kicking in the air. "You were saying?"
“Okay, fine.” Amy said stiffly, as Buffy put her down. “Have it your way - for now.”
“But if we don't have to worry about you, the snob and the basket-case-" Faith started to say to Xander.
"Who are you calling a snob
, you - you commoner!" Cordelia demanded haughtily, getting up on her noblewoman high horse. "And how dare you insult my mother! We've had people flogged for a lot less than that, around here!"
"Well, you're in no position to have anyone flogged now. Just in case you didn't realize it." Angel stared at her expressionlessly, which merely made Cordelia glower at him and reconsider whether Angel was 'future husband' material.
"He's right. So why don't you just keep your mouth shut, your Ladyship, unless you have anything useful to say?" Buffy said meaningfully to Cordelia, who simply glared at her and folded her arms across her chest.
"Yeah, as I was saying? Long as we're not distracted with you three, we should be able to at least keep helping the people in this town. Protect them, maybe get them out of here.” Faith continued. “But we need reinforcements. That's what we need from you, now, in order to do your part for the cause; travel south to our Temple in the Agaden Forest. Do us all a favor and take her,” the brunette Slayer pointed to Cordelia, “and her mother with you. Keep them safe. And when you get there, tell Nikki Wood that the four of us need backup straightaway.”
"How much backup?" Cordelia demanded in that same haughty voice as before. She wasn't exactly opposed to the plan, as it meant escaping from certain death; but if there was one thing the young Lady Chase was certain of, it was that she had been born to be no one's servant and accept no one's orders. Well, apart from her future husband and the father of her children, of course.
Buffy just glanced at her in exasperation. “Lots and lots of backup.”