I do not own Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Angel the SeriesAuthor's Note:
If at any point you feel that I am not accurately presenting a character's personality, feel free to say so, and give pointers on where you think I can improve that presentation (though I'd also ask you to give explanations as to why you think the character, based on their canon actions, is one way or the other). Thank you.The Prophecies Cycle
Book I: The Red Moon Rises
Chapter 2: Vampiric Stirrings24 to 30 Days until the Red MoonChase Castle,
Lordship of Sunnydale
There was little more boring in the world, Alexander – or Xander to his friends – Harris than standing guard in Lord David Chase's throne room while he held court.
Xander was standing just inside the doors of the throne room, wearing chainmail armor on his torso and a sword at his belt. Both standard issue for a member of the House Chase Guard, the small military force Lord Chase was allowed to have under Royal Law. Numbering only about seventy men, it was enough to meet the needs of the Lordship of Sunnydale. The Lordship was far from any border, and like the rest of the Barony of Olvikun, was pretty much entirely free from banditry and the like. Not entirely, but nothing on any large scale.
That left only a few things for the House Chase Guard to do – serve as muscle for the various Constables and Sheriffs that maintained law and order - and collected taxes – guard the members of the Chase Family when they left the castle, guard the castle. Fairly standard. If the Kingdom ever went to war and the King went to Baron Wilkins for soldiers, than Lord Chase, as Lord of Sunnydale and one of Baron Wilkins' vassals, would need to give some of his soldiers over to Royal Service for the duration.
Xander wasn't particularly enthused about his job – or the slim possibility that he might get called up for Royal Service to fight a war – not that he was a coward, or pacifist, but he suspected any war would only help the nobility. Which he was not a fan of. He didn't serve in the House Chase Guard out of particular loyalty to the Chase family – he didn't like them much to be honest. He was here because the job paid well enough, he could do it well, and because he didn't exactly have many options open to him, given that his parents were the town drunks, and people had an expectation of the same from him. But, well, he could do this.
“...Baron Wilkins has raised taxes across the Barony for the duration of his road-improvement project.” One of Lord Chase's advisors was saying. “We can easily absorb the loss – its not much. It'll just have to come out of the profits from one of the investments. I suggest the Falcon Trading Company – you're making enough from it that the profits we reinvest-” Xander didn't hear the rest as he just tuned the whole thing out. If Lord Chase needed him or the other guard standing across the door from him to take someone out of the room or anything like that, he'd call them out specifically.
This continued for what was at least an hour until a particular word caught Xander. 'Vampire'
Immediately he started to listen more intently. Vampires weren't just something that came up in casual conversation.
“The Constable of Bronzeton has reported two deaths that are almost certainly, beyond a doubt, the work of vampires.” Another adviser was reading from a report from Bronzeton, one of the outlying villages. “They were drained entirely of blood, two small holes on their necks. The bodies were were staked already as a precaution, according to his report, which he sent upon discovering the bodies early this morning. Until we get another one, we won't know if they were going to become vampires, or if they were just food. The Constable has ordered a curfew made sure everyone knows not to invite people in, but he doesn't have the capability to defeat the vampire.”
“Dispatch a messenger to the Temple of Sineya in the Agaden Forest.” David Chase said. Each regional base for the Daughters of Sineya, the Slayers, was called a Temple of Sineya.
“But that will take three days before the messenger even reaches the Temple, and another six before any Slayers could arrive! What are we to do in the meantime!?” Another adviser cut in somewhat frantically.
Lord Chase pondered for a moment, his expression cool, calm and controlled. It's easy for him to be detached.
Xander thought sourly. Its not his neck or the neck of one of his loved ones on the menu.
“Dispatch twenty of the Guard to Bronzeton. Have them bring holy water from the reserves, and distribute it among the people. They're to patrol the village in groups of five at night, all with torches. Hopefully we can keep more people from dying until a Slayer shows up to eliminate it, or perhaps it will simply move on, and the Slayer can track it from there.” He paused, then looked over at Xander. “Guard!”
“Yes, Lord?” Xander said, keeping the necessary level of respect he didn't feel in his voice.
“Find the Witch Madison and bring her here. I wish to speak to her.”
“Of course, Lord.” Something that at least involves moving.
Thank the gods. He opened the large double doors and left the throne room. He'd check for Amy Madison in her rooms first, then...well, there were only a few places she'd be.
Few nobles of David Chase's low rank had the kind of money it took to hire a witch of Amy Madison's caliber on retainer, but Lord David Chase was rather unique. His family had always been heavily involved in trade, and indeed, they'd only been nobility for the last four generations – not that anyone brought that up where any of the Chases could hear it – after they purchased the title to the area and built the castle and down. No one was exactly sure why
the area had been mostly abandoned for just under the previous 500 years before 'House Chase' moved in. Xander certainly didn't have a clue, but then, that wasn't his area.
It took him only a few minutes to go from the throne room on the ground floor up to the third floor of the East Wing of the castle, where Amy Madison had taken up residence. To be entirely honest, the witch scared him. Not much – it wasn't as if she'd done much of anything to warrant fear – but just a little. It wasn't because she could use magic. He had no problem with witches. One of his best childhood friends had, it had turned out, magical ability, and had left Sunnydale when she was ten years old to develop her magical abilities, to learn how to control them, under the tutelage of the elders of the Devon Coven – which was, coincidentally, closely aligned with the Temple of Sineya in the Agaden Forest. They still exchanged the occasional letter, though it usually amounted them each sending and receiving a letter about twice a year. But he still counted Willow Rosenberg as his friend, so that Amy Madison was a witch was not why she scared him.
In fact, his letter exchange with Willow, was, in part, the reason why he was afraid of Amy. A few years ago, Willow had mentioned the other witch in passing in a letter. Apparently, Amy had also been a trainee with the Devon Coven but had left it because her magic was “too selfish”, and the elders had been afraid she'd turn dark, and Amy had refused to accept their rulings against her. Xander hadn't told Willow that Amy had, over the last two years, taken up employment with Lord Chase, though probably by this point she – or at least the Devon Coven – had heard about it.
The other reason was that she was...intense. She was amazing focused, and when he saw her, he wasn't sure that, if he accidentally pissed her off, she wouldn't turn him into a frog or something like that.
He stepped off the stairs and into the hallway that led off into Amy's room. As he passed another room – which had an open door – he heard an all too familiar voice coming out of it.
“What are you, deficient?” Lady Cordelia Chase – or 'Her Royal Bitchiness' as Xander referred to in his mind, since she certainly acted like a princess – berated some hapless, unfortunate servant. “I specifically told you how I wanted them arranged, and you completely screwed it all up. Are you so stupid and incompetent as to be unable to get even the most simple tasks – that I spelled out for you small, simple words – done right?”
“My Lady-” The maid started, in an attempt to defend herself, but Lady Chase would have none of it and cut her off before she could say anymore.
“I don't want to hear it.” She said firmly. “Not a single word. You're no longer employed here! Get out of the castle by the end of the night, or I'll see to it that the guards throw you out!” The maid immediately burst into tears – probably this was the job she could get.
Xander took the 'exchange' as his cue to keep going. He really wanted no part whatsoever in dragging that maid out. He rarely wanted anything to do with Cordelia ruining the lives of otherwise innocent servants whose only crimes were not meeting Cordelia's exacting and often impossibly perfectionist standards. And usually it was only small mistake anyway.
He continued on and soon enough reached the rooms that Amy Madison had been given. Xander knocked lightly.
“What?!” Amy demanded, wrenching the door open violently. She wore a simple black dress, which made the steaks of black in her otherwise brown hair. “What do you want, Harris.” He was a bit surprised she knew, his name, but shrugged mentally.
“Lord Chase sent me to bring you to the throne room.” Xander told her.
“And what does his magnificent
Lordship want with me now?” She asked, annoyed.
“I don't know.” Xander said, rolling his eyes. “But I'd say it has something to do with the fact that there has been evidence of Vampire activity in Bronzeton recently.”
“Vampires?!” There. Amy got that intense, almost possessed look in her eyes again. “Alright, let's go.” She said impatiently. Xander shrugged mentally at her about face, but said nothing. They went down the hall, passing a tearful maid. Amy looked at him. “Hurricane Cordelia strikes again?”
Xander nodded. “Looks like it. I heard her laying into the poor girl on my way to get you.”
“At least I don't have to deal with her at all. No amount of money would be worth that.” Amy said frankly, and Xander chuckled.
When they got to the Throne Room, Xander fell back into his position by the door, as Amy approached Lord Chase. She bowed. “Greetings Lord Chase.” She said formally, and the stiffness and faintest hint of disrespect was noticeable in her voice. But then again, she wasn't being paid to be polite. “I understand that you wished to speak with me?”
“I do.” He replied. “There are reports of Vampire activity in the village of Bronzeton. I am concerned about this spreading, about the vampire responsible coming to Sunnydale Town. I want you to make this castle proofed against entrance by vampires.”
“I am afraid that is not possible, my Lord.” Amy said, but held up a hand to indicate she wasn't done. “There simply is no magical way, to my knowledge, to prevent a vampire from entering a building. There is the threshold, and there are spells that can revoke a vampire's invitation across a threshold, but the castle has no threshold for the entire building.”
“No threshold?! I live here! My wife and daughter live-”
Amy cut him off. “I said for the entire building. The various living quarters in the castle do have thresholds. Your chambers, your daughter's chambers, the servant's quarters, and so on. But the castle as a whole, and rooms like the kitchens, the throne room, the grand hall, and so on will not be protected by a threshold. What I can do is set up a series of wards that will go off and raise an alarm if a vampire does enter the castle.”
“Do it.” Lord Chase commanded sternly.
“It will take a day for me to get everything together and into position, but I will get right on it, My Lord. If you will excuse me, I will begin preparations.”
“Very well then.” Lord Chase nodded. “Proceed.”The Red Horse Tavern,
Lordship of Sunnydale
“Vampires? Really?” Xander's long-time friend Jesse asked later that night, as they were both sitting in the one tavern in Sunnydale Town.
Xander shrugged. “That's what the report says, apparently.”
“Gods.” Jesse said, shaking his head in amazement. “I can't imagine dying...like that. I mean...and...Sunnydale's not a large Lordship. Besides vampires usually stick to the cities, don't they? They aren't supposed to bother with tiny villages like Bronzeton.”
Xander made a noncommittal grunt as he took a sip from his drink. “This one apparently didn't. And Lord Chase, as usual, didn't give much of a fuck about us. I mean, sure, he sent a message to the Slayers down in Agaden, and he's ordered some of the Guard to go down to Bronzeton tomorrow.”
Jesse's eyes widened a little at that. “You're not-?”
“I won't know until tomorrow, one way or the other.” Xander replied. “Dying at the hands – or probably teeth, actually - of a vampire certainly wouldn't be of the good, but neither is letting it run free for the better part of six days, first for the messenger gets to the Slayers and then for the Temple to send someone here to get rid of it. Vampires may be a hell of a lot stronger than we are, but five guards together, well armed and all of us with torches? Gods certainly know I hope they decide to stay away from that. Especially if I'm one of the guards there.” He sighed.
“On to the more pleasant aspects of your job, did you see Lady Cordelia today?” Jesse asked eagerly, with a slightest hint of Jealousy in his tone as well.
Xander resisted the urge to roll his eyes. His friend had many good traits, but his puppy-dog crush on Lord Chase's daughter was not one of them. Though he at least had enough sense and awareness on the subject to know that he had no chance – she was a noble, after all – and was content to simple worship her from afar.
“No, I didn't actually catch a look at her.” He told Jesse. “Though I did hear her chew out a maid for a tiny mistake, as usual. Honestly Jesse, you already know it won't ever happen, so you need to get past this – she's not on the pedestal you've gone and put her up on. She's arrogant, pretentious and a total bitch. Guess that comes with being a noble, but she's a thoroughly unpleasant person to be around, and a poor excuse for a human being.”Hill overlooking Sunnydale Town,
Lordship of Sunnydale
“The stars speak to me,” Drusilla began in a soft voice looking up at what she was talking about. “They tell such beautiful stories. Pain and death...it's glorious.”
“Can you shut her up Spike?!” Darla snapped at her Great-Grandchilde. The Aurelian leader had never been able to tolerate Drusilla. She was annoying and just as likely to kill a potentially useful minion – if for cannon fodder if nothing else – as she was to decide to have a pet cat and then wring its neck.
No. Drusilla had been Angelus's project, through and through, and it was mostly because of Spike's usefulness and skill in a fight – even if he was insubordinate to her and irreverent to the Order – that she hadn't staked the madwoman already, now that her Angelus had been taken from her. Once again, she cursed those witches for giving her dear boy a soul, and cursed the Temple of Slayers that protected those witches, so she couldn't get her revenge.
Though occasionally Drusilla's visions did have some usefulness as well, Darla had to begrudgingly admit.
“Don't talk about her like that.” Spike countered, the anger in his voice tempered by his sense of self-preservation. Still, he turned back to Drusilla. “Darla's right, though, love. We'll have all the time in the world for you to talk to the stars later.”
Darla looked at the town below. It was a small place, and under normal circumstances, she wouldn't bother with a place like this, especially given how close it was to the Agaden Temple.
But the Prophecies of Aurelius and the 5th Prophecy of the Dark Oracle...they pointed to the return of the Master. Here, six centuries ago, the Master was defeated and sealed away by the Slayers, but soon he would return. And it was time to prepare for his coming. Luke would be here soon, and he had the service of the Three. Darla could not let him be the one to capture this land for the Order of Aurelius – the honor that the Master would bestow on the one who loyally paved the way for his return would be hers and hers alone.
“Tomorrow.” She told the assembled vampires behind her. “We make war upon the living.” Darla's loyalty to the Order had been, always, as much about loyalty to the Master, as her sire, than loyalty to the ideology of Aurelius. That was more Luke's thing. But she knew how to use the rhetoric and language of the Order to get things done with the rank and file – and she had, not counting Spike and Drusilla, fifty vampires with her – to rally.
“For when the Brood of Aurelius kills, and the blood flows like wine...hell itself has come to town.”