I don't own anything. Buffy and Pathfinder are not owned by me. Nor are the writings of H.P. Lovecraft. They are owned by rich, talented people. I'm a nobody. Please don't sue me. Of Blood Writ Names
A short distance down the hall into the Nevermore wing of the prison was an open entrance to another guard room, its door having long ago collapsed into a pile of singed and rotten detritus. Stepping into the room, Buffy and Kendra briefly examined the burned out shell of a room, before wandering over to the remains of the winch that had controlled the portcullis which blocked the entrance to the cell block.
“This is unfortunate,” Kendra said, examining the slagged remains of the mechanism. “I don't believe that we will be able to open it from here.”
“Well, time to use the ol' slayer strength,” Buffy replied, leading the way to the portcullis. Examining it briefly, Buffy eventually grabbed the metal gate with her right hand, and wrapped her left arm around another section, being careful not to strain her recently healed fingers by pulling with them. “Move back,” she ordered as she set her feet carefully.
Once Kendra was out of the way, Buffy began to pull, the metal squealing in protest as she strained against it, the heavy gate bending as it groaned. Rather than try to lift it, she decided to simply tear it out, allowing them to make a quick exit if necessary. Grunting with effort, Buffy used the traction her magical boots gave her to apply an impossible amount of force, twist her hips as she pulled, until, with a loud screech, the metal failed, the portcullis breaking free into her hands. Stumbling back under the awkward load, she finally tossed it to the ground with a loud bang.
Brushing her hands free of rust, Buffy picked up her sun rod and grabbed her short bow with her other hand. Sharing a look with Kendra, who held her own sun rod and had pulled out the moldy spell book that had once been the property of the Splatter Man, the two nodded, showing their readiness. They had encountered many difficulties over the past days, but now they were prepared to face the chief ghost of the prison.
The final wing of the prison was in poor condition, having partially collapsed during the fire. It had a similar layout to the wing in which they had encountered the Lopper, with an oubliette at the center of the chamber and iron cell doors hanging open all along the outside of the room. The far end of the area had long ago collapsed, with burnt supports littering the floor in that region. A large but shallow pool of stagnant water covered the far end of the room, and had long since filled the pit at its center.
As they took in the chamber, Buffy was overwhelmed by the sickening sense of evil which pervaded everything, the malignancy of the ghost that had long sought to escape this place having seeped into the very stones. Walking into the room had been like walking into the Master's lair before she had died for the very first time, as a veritable miasma of darkness nearly overwhelmed her senses, sending her reeling. When she brought herself back under control, she looked up and saw a large letter 'B' slowly appearing on the wall in fresh blood.
Walking over to the writing, Buffy could smell the fresh sent of the blood, and she found herself almost in a daze as she watched the letter 'u' join the text on the wall. As she watched her name being spelled out before her, she was suddenly struck by the sense that for every letter being written something was being taken
from her. Her life, her soul, her sanity, the very essence that made her Buffy
was being drawn from her one letter at a time, and she could feel her sense of self fading with ever stroke as the first 'f' joined her name on the wall.
Slinging her bow over her shoulder, Buffy pulled the Lopper's axe from her bag and with a great swing, she shattered the brick, breaking up the writing in a shower of stone shards, and with it she felt her sense of self returning. Blinking, she looked up as she heard desperate panting and banging as Kendra chipped away at another section of wall with a dagger, obliterating the letters 'Ken' before her name could fully form.
Looking around quickly, Buffy ran to another stretch of wall and with a single chop of her axe destroyed her name before more than a single letter could form. Gripping her axe so tightly her knuckles turned white, she glanced around quickly. While they could easily destroy the writing before it finished, Buffy had a bad feeling about letting the haunt hold the initiative. As she destroyed her name once again, she thought hard, trying to figure out what she could do besides simply react. Finally, as her sense of self returned completely with the destruction of another part of her name, she had an idea.
Reaching into her bag, Buffy pulled out her final haunt siphon. Looking around the ruined chamber one last time, Buffy grabbed the end of the device and twisted it, filling the room with a golden glow. The walls lit up with green light, which flowed in thick ribbons to her device, draining away the spectral energies in the area and charging the tiny object completely, leaving it glowing faintly green even as its golden light faded away.
For a long moment, nothing happened. Then, with a great crack, one of the main support beams for the ceiling broke into a shower of splinters, and the room began to shake. Rocks and wood rained downwards, and all of the stone walls, weakened by both the fire and the women's frantic efforts, began to crumble.
Rushing across the room, Buffy dove on top of Kendra, covering as much of her body as she could with her smaller form as bricks fell on them, drawing a pained grunt from her lips. Finally, after long terrifying moments which felt like hours during which visions of being buried alive, again, filled Buffy's head, the collapse stopped.
Coughing and choking on the dust which hung thick in the air, Buffy stood shakily, before helping Kendra to her feet. “Are you alright?”
“I'm fine,” Kendra answered with a cough. “And yourself?”
“Peachy with a side of keen. I've never been so glad to have gotten used to vamp dust.”
Before Kendra could reply, a great scream rent the air, shaking their bones with its basso power, before rising higher and higher into an outraged shriek. Emerging from the water filled oubliette, the ghost of an old man floated into the air. He had a wild beard, and staring black pits for eyes. He was dressed in the ragged remains of a striped prison uniform, and like both the Mosswater Marauder and Vesorianna, his coloring was entirely in shades of blue.
Buffy hesitated for a moment, considering her options. She only had twelve magic arrows left, and of them, only four were ghost touch arrows, designed to kill incorporeal creatures such as ghosts, and two were the more powerful undead bane arrows. The remainder were capable of harming ghosts, but only slightly, and she wasn't certain if any of her melee weapons would hurt it at all. The Splatter Man looked like a ghost, but she had already wasted an arrow attacking the Mosswater Marauder, which had simply ignored it, being a haunt. Otherwise, she had a few bottles of holy water, several healing potions for when she was hurt, and whatever magics Kendra could bring to bear. Finally, she decided to be careful, simply dropping her sun rod, pulling out one of her plain magic arrows, and firing it at the ghost.
During the brief moment in which she had considered her options, the Splatter Man had already begun casting a spell. He chanted for a moment in the arcane language, gesturing with a tiny bag held in one hand while his other held a spectral candle. With his final gesture the air in the front of Buffy twisted and distorted, and with a stench like sulfur, suddenly, in what had just been empty space, were three enormous rats. They were hideous, black furred creatures with red glowing eyes, and bodies covered with razor sharp, white bony protrusions. All three locked eyes with the slayer and and chittered at her with enormous, razor sharp teeth, before charging.
Buffy kept one eye on her arrow as it passed through the Splatter Man's side, piercing him through, leaving a small hole which oozed a trickle of blue blood down his tattered prison garb, even as she began to react to her new opponents. Kicking hard, her foot struck the closest in the side of its neck between the bone spurs sticking out from its jaw, and the sharp protrusions extending from its shoulder, snapping its neck and sending it tumbling sideways. The summoned monster faded away in a twisted distortion of space even as it hit the ground, leaving no trace that it had ever existed.
Buffy jumped backwards several feet, narrowly avoiding the chomping jaws of the other two creatures, while behind her she heard Kendra finish casting a spell, the golden-white beam of her anti-undead cantrip streaking across the room and striking the ghost, causing him to snarl angrily. “You should have died long before now! For forcing me to waste my time fighting you, I will...”
“Blah, blah, blah,” Buffy interrupted. “I've heard it all before. What is it with you Big Bads always being all with the monologging?”
“You insufferable wench! You will know suffering beyond all mortal reckoning!”
Buffy flipped over the rat monsters, slapping them across their snouts with her bow to keep their attention, before landing on one leg and delivering a powerful back kick as she touched down that caved in the rib cage of one creature, then tumbled sideways to avoid the last, her slayer agility and magical boots allowing her to perform the difficult acrobatic evasions despite the rubble from the roof collapse that filled much of the chamber. As she came to her feet she pulled one of her ghost touch arrows form her side, aiming her bow quickly and firing straight at the Splatter Man.
Her opponent had not simply waited idly, however, and had been chanting his own spell while Buffy had prepared her attack. As the arrow left her bow, a brilliant blue orb gathered on the tip of the Splatter Man's index finger, before it suddenly bulged outward, blossoming into four wickedly barbed arrows of blindingly intense sapphire light that flew at incredible speed towards the two women. Buffy tumbled and dodged with everything she had, but two of the magical arrows struck her in the torso, gouging deep wounds which bled sluggishly. Kendra had been casting her own spell, but the other two hit her soundly, rocking her backwards with a cry of pain and disrupting her magics.
The Splatter Man did not get away completely clean in the exchange, however, Buffy's enchanted arrow passing through his stomach at the same moment she had been hit, leaving a bloody channel through his body and drawing another cry of pain from his lips. Chanting again, he began to fly backwards as he gestured, passing through the walls of the open cells in an attempt to foil any attempt at a counter attack.
Kendra began casting a shielding spell to protect herself from further attacks, holding her left hand in front of her as she chanted. Buffy hopped sideways to avoid the last rat monster, kicking out at it even as she drew another of her ghost touch arrows. The final summoned monster was more cautious, however, skittering back from her attack and almost biting her foot, forcing her to pull her leg back sharply, the impossible move enough to unbalance anyone who attempted it with less agility than that of a slayer. Rechambering her kick, she lashed out quickly with two quick feints, high then low, before bringing her heel down on top of its head with a powerful stomp that split its skull with a deep crunch before it too faded away.
From across the room the Splatter Man finished his spell, sending out another wave of magical bolts which caught Buffy in the back, drawing a grunt of shocked pain from her lips. Kendra faired better, however, her magical shield absorbing the two sent towards her as she began to chant another spell, determination filling her face.
Buffy spun and fired her ghost touch arrow, the Splatter Man almost making it behind another wall before he was hit, the arrow striking his thigh and leaving it bleeding freely. Pulling out another ghost touch arrow, Buffy ran around the water filled pit at the center of the room as she knocked it, waiting for a shot as her foe ducked and weaved through walls as he chanted, his hands holding the small bag and the candle once again.
Before Buffy could find a good angle for her to shoot, a distortion appeared in the air in front of one of the cells as the Splatter Man cast another summoning spell, this time bringing an enormous spider, its hairy black body almost as large as a person, its spindly legs spanning nearly eight feet as it scuttled up a wall and across the ceiling, all twelve of its blazing red eyes locked on the blonde.
Buffy ignored the spider for a long moment as the ghost passed through a cell she could see into, releasing her arrow to fly across the room and pass through his stomach, leaving another gaping wound. Her distraction cost her, however, as the spider, which she had thought was too far away to attack, had used that moment to throw a web at her, wrapping around her body and pinning her arms in her firing posture, and then anchoring her to the ground.
Buffy's hazel eyes locked with glowing red as the spider scrambled across the ceiling, black venom dripping downward as it came, until, when it was close enough, it leapt so fast that it blurred through the air fang first towards the trapped slayer. Buffy had been struggling slightly, testing the webbing, but as it moved to attack she gave a great heave, throwing herself forwards, snapping sticky strands as she did. Hitting the ground and rolling painfully across sharp rubble, she forced herself to her feet, spinning into a powerful roundhouse kick which caught the spider in the side as it began to turn, sending it flying into the far wall. It bounced off of the stone, legs kicking wildly, before falling to the ground, scrambling up to its feet for another charge.
Buffy hurriedly pulled the remaining strands of webbing from her person, when she saw a flash from the corner of her eye. Cartwheeling to her left, she turned her head as she did so, in time to see four more magic bolts, these less intensely bright and not as well defined as the earlier ones, but nearly twice as large, and all flying towards her. Leaping through a somersault, she curled her body into a defensive posture as her efforts to evade proved fruitless as the four oversized missiles twisted and turned to follow her through the air, slamming painfully into her, disrupting her landing and sending her skipping across the jagged stones of the floor.
Before Buffy could recover, the spider was on top of her, caging her body with its many limbs, flashing its head downward to bite. She barely managed to get an arm up in time, her magical bracers catching the the fangs rather than her throat. Punching up to try and knock it off of her, she was dismayed when it simply swayed with the blow, straightening its legs to allow it to bleed off power from her leverageless hit, before springing back down at speed, poison fangs flashing and barely blocked once again.
Growling, Buffy reached to her side and grabbed the war razor she had taken from the evidence room, flicking it open quickly and burying the incredibly sharp weapon in the spider's abdomen, just behind its head. It twitched in pain for a moment, before screeching like a kettle as the slayer pulled downwards, slitting its entire belly open, spilling a mound of innards onto her before it twisted and distorted, vanishing as the magics keeping it summoned broke with the mortal wound. Buffy tucked her weapon away and kipped up smoothly to her feet, only to be knocked back down immediately as four more oversized blue bolts struck home, drawing a cry of pain from her lips.
Across the room Kendra fired her ray of light, but the Splatter Man ducked through a wall too quickly for her to properly react, the spell dissipating harmlessly against the stone. Grinding her teeth in frustration, she considered her options. Unlike the earlier, weaker undead they had faced, this was an opponent that she was simply too unskilled to easily hit with her cantrips, much less her crossbow. Considering her spells, she came to the unpleasant conclusion that nothing she knew, besides her disrupt undead cantrip, could directly harm a ghost. Finally, she looked at the Splatter Man's own spellbook.
Since she had begun to carry it around she had felt the spellbook weighing on her mind, overtaking her thoughts at the oddest times. She had spent some time that morning transcribing spells she hadn't known from it into her own spellbook, and when she had looked up she had thought she had seen, written in blood, her own name, but it had disappeared when she had blinked. Several more times that day she had seen her name in blood out of the corner of her eye, but it had never been there when she had looked right at it, until they had entered the Splatter Man's own room, and he had made it truly begin to appear.
It was obvious to Kendra that the Splatter Man's spellbook was strongly connected to him, but she wasn't sure how to take advantage of that fact. Throughout the fight she had noticed that he had paid close attention to her even though Buffy, with her magic arrows, was the primary threat, and he had avoided sending any of his summons to attack her. Seizing upon a moment of wild inspiration, she grabbed the pages containing the first spell in the book, and simply tore it to shreds.
After falling to the ground again, Buffy hadn't wasted a moment and had instantly bounced back to her feet, raising her bow and pulling out her final ghost touch arrow as she did. The Splatter Man stayed out of sight, however, and a moment later another disruption in the air signalled the summoning of a second giant spider. Gritting her teeth, she began to move around the room, her magical boots allowing her to drift lightly over the broken rubble without even the slightest loss of stability while she avoided the spider and sought out its summoner.
From the corner of her eye Buffy saw Kendra holding the Splatter Man's moldy spellbook, before grabbing and tearing some of its pages apart. The ghost howled in outrage, drifting into the open for the first time in a while, a deep wound across its chest that had not existed a moment before. Buffy didn't hesitate even for a moment, firing her arrow as he tried to dodge, leaving a large, bloody wound through both of his calves as the arrow passed through one leg and then the other.
Before Buffy could do anything else she dove into a roll from sheer instinct as a second giant spider, whose summoning she had missed, leapt at her back, missing her by inches. Rolling to her feet, Buffy reached into her bag and pulled out her new longsword as the the other spider took advantage of her distraction to leap at her, fangs gnashing. Buffy stepped forward, rising a foot as she balanced on a broken support, swinging her sword with a flourish as the monster flew past her. It screeched as it stumbled, two of its legs landing on the ground next it it in a spray of ichor. Before she could finish it, however, the other spider attacked, forcing her to retreat, her long blade scoring shallow hits as she kept it at bay.
Kendra, seeing the effect the damaged pages had had on the ghost, grabbed another spell and tore it to shreds, eliciting another scream and opening a huge wound down its side. Furious, the ghost waved its arms vigorously as it shouted a spell, ending by pushing its hand towards Kendra as though shoving something invisible at her. From the corner of her eye Buffy could see a ripple in the air that sped towards Kendra, striking her magical shielding and tearing it apart, ripping her defensive spell to pieces. He then immediately chanted another spell, a blue orb gathering on his finger before bursting into four glowing arrows, these smaller and less bright than the previous ones, although all four struck Kendra squarely as she tore another part of the spell book to pieces. Both wizards, living and dead, screamed and stumbled back, spraying blood.
“Kendra!” Buffy shouted as her friend swayed unsteadily on her feet. Any attempts to help her were swiftly thwarted as the two spiders attacked again and again, coordinating their movements to force Buffy onto the defensive, her sword nearly invisible in the air as she swung it in front and behind of her with every bit of her speed to keep both poisonous enemies at bay.
Kendra pushed past the pain as she stumbled, nearly tripping over a piece of fallen masonry before she righted herself, grabbing her necklace and beginning to chant again. Holding her hand in front of her as she recast her shield spell, the nearly invisible disc forming just in time to catch another batch of blue missiles, her defense drawing an outraged scream from the Splatter Man.
“Why won't you just die!” he shouted, waving a hand at the pit. From its depths a longsword swiftly rose, tossing its sheath aside and pointing its gleaming length at Kendra. Waving his hand, he sent the blade shooting through the air at her like a missile. Stumbling sideways, Kendra tripped over a rock and hit the ground, her magical shield barely deflecting the weapon enough to save her from being skewered. The blade continued its path, hitting the wall and not even slowing until it had sunk up it its hilt in the stone.
“I'd tell you to drop dead, but you already are,” Buffy called, trying to gain his attention even as she chopped off a fang of one of the spiders when it became too aggressive.
“I will kill you both! Then the woman will die again, and then all of Ravengro will burn! I will have my revenge, and all shall burn! Fire will rain from the sky! Every—AHHHH!!!”
Kendra grabbed the next pages, tearing them to shreds as she stumbled to her feet, the damage opening a gash the entire length of the Splatter Man's left leg. Snarling, he gestured again, and a dagger made from a strange silvery white metal rose up from the flooded oubliette and flew towards Kendra. Seeing it coming she held up the spellbook, the blade sinking up to its hilt in the leather tome, drawing an outraged howl from the undead wizard.
Buffy finally saw an opening, backflipping over the spider behind her when it overcommitted with an attack, her blade opening up its back, before following up with a deep thrust as she touched the ground. The spider shrieked and twisted into nothingness, leaving her standing with her weapon outstretched as the remaining creature jumped at her. Lifting her blade, she skewered it right between its eyes, spraying her face with thick ichor even as it too faded away.
Reaching for her side, Buffy dropped her longsword and pulled out one of her only two undead bane arrows. Not even bothering with her bow now that the ghost was so distracted, she simply pulled back her arm and threw it like a dart, the magical arrow flying straight and true, taking him in the shoulder. While the normal magical arrow had inflicted a small injury, and the ghost touch arrows had damaged it more significantly still, the effect of the bane arrow was shocking. Instead of merely punching a hole in his body, the wound opened up wider and wider after impact, until, by the time the arrow stuck in the wall behind the ghost, the injury was so large that his right arm simply fell off, dispersing into blue smoke before it hit the ground.
The Splatter Man screeched in anguish, its body a terrible wreck which would have died long ago if it were not already deceased. Numerous arrow wounds littered its flesh, large enough to see through, and huge gashes decorated it from Kendra's efforts. One arm was now missing, and it had bled so much that its entire body was soaked with the blue fluid. Reeling and maddened from agony, it could do nothing as Kendra pulled the knife from the book and used it to shred the remaining pages.
The pitch of its screams rose higher and higher as new cuts appeared all over its body. The many wounds began to glow with a white light, and cracks began to spread slowly outward from the injuries. Soon the entire body was a patchwork of jagged fissures, glowing with white light, until, with a deafening bang, it burst into pieces, the parts floating about like scraps of a shattered balloon before dissipating into wisps of blue smoke.
All was silent, for a long moment, until finally Buffy met Kendra's eyes and she smirked tiredly. “Well, that wasn't so bad.”
“Not so bad?” Kendra asked incredulously.
“Yup, no one died. Plus: no syphilis, or giant bears, or possessed murder attempts, or freaky romps that will never be spoken of again. So: not bad.”
“That's gloomy enough to make me rethink this whole monster fighting business,” Kendra said ruefully as she sat tiredly down on a large stone.
Buffy smirked and made her way over, sitting in front of her on the ground with a groan. “You did good.”
“I didn't do very much,” Kendra said, pulling out medical supplies. Buffy stopped her hands, meeting her eyes levelly.
“You did great. I couldn't have done all this without you. Especially the shred the book thingy. I never would have taken you for the book burning type. Giles would have had a coronary.” Buffy smiled wistfully as they began to clean and bandage their many wounds.
“Well, I had already copied all of the spells that it had contained into my own spellbook, so really, it was just a useless cursed book at that point. Even so, I could almost feel my father glaring at me when I tore it.”
“Yeah, if Petros and Giles had ever met they would have been two tweedy peas in a very Brit-like pod.”
It took some time, but finally both were bandaged and had downed several healing potions apiece, the warm magics knitting their many wounds, leaving them tired and sore, but no longer seriously injured. While Buffy waited for Kendra to rest, she walked over to the wall and examined the sword lodged to the hilt in the rock.
Pulling the sword from the stone, she was awed at how easily it slipped out, and how perfectly it fit her hand once she held it. The hilt was cross shaped and made of silver, intricately worked to appear as immaculate angel wings spreading over her hand as she held it aloft. The pommel had a perfectly round star sapphire which caught the light, seemingly gripped by feminine hands of silver that wrapped around it as though holding a cherished child. The blade was an extremely slender twenty-nine inches of double edged steel, still so finely polished so as to work as a mirror despite more than half a century in the murky water at the bottom of the oubliette. Everything about the weapon felt right in her hand, from the excited tingle in her fingers when she first touched it, to the way it seemed to sing in the air as she swung it about; Buffy knew that she had never beheld a more perfect weapon.
Walking across the room, she stopped next to where its sheath lay in a shallow pool of water. Looking from her new blade to a large rock, she considered for a moment. Shrugging, she swung the blade down at the stone, ignoring years of lectures from Giles about the proper care of weapons, especially the many lecture about what not to hit with expensive weapons.
The rock parted before her blade with as little resistance as if it were made of butter rather than solid stone. Examining the impossibly clean cut she had left behind, Buffy grinned. “Neat.”
“Neat?” Kendra asked incredulously. “It cut stone like it was nothing, and all that you can say is 'Neat'?”
Buffy shrugged, picking up the sheath and sliding the blade home. It was made of the same white leather as the wrap on the hilt, and it had tiny pictures of female angels wearing long gowns and holding swords all down its length done in silver thread. “I like it. Very shiny”
“Shiny,” Kendra echoed flatly.
“Yup. You know, shiny is a good word. I've already got my best stake, Mr. Pointy, and of course my horse is Mr. Gordo...”
“You named your horse Mr. Gordo?”
“So I think I should call my sword Mr. Shiny.”
“Pharasma give me strength,” Kendra prayed, covering her eyes.
“What about your dagger?” Buffy asked curiously, peering at the weapon. The silvery white metal was unfamiliar, although it was obviously a very fine weapon, with a thin, straight blade, and a round hilt covered in a design like golden flower petals that made it look like the blade grew from a sunflower.
“It's made of mithral, and has some enchantments on it, although less impressive ones than your new sword,” Kendra answered.
“Cool. If I had a spec of clueage as to what that was I bet I would be completely thrilled.”
“Its a very rare metal which makes superb weapons and armor.”
“Like I said: cool.”
“Yes. 'Cool'. And being my
new dagger, it will not have a name.”
“No name!” Buffy asked, aghast. “Come on. Cool stuff always needs a good name. How about Mr. Flower.”
Buffy put her war razor away in her bag of holding, and attached her sword sheath to her belt in its place, adjusting the long weapon to sit comfortably despite her modest height. The two women then retraced their steps to the hole that they had climbed down through, bickering good-naturedly as they went about what to call the dagger. When they reached the entrance, Kendra smiled and pulled her magic rope out, holding one end. “Up. Attach. Knot.” The rope rose on its own to the ceiling of the room above, tying itself around a support beam, and then tying itself into knots all the way down its length so that it would be easier to climb. Once they had both made it up Kendra returned the rope to its tight coil, and Buffy put her own rope, which she had left hanging, into her bag of holding.
“Mr. Rope is pretty nifty.”
Kendra twitched. “It is not called Mr. Rope.”
Buffy just pouted as they made their way through the prison. “Spoilsport.”
* * *
The workshop was just as they had left it, and upon entering Vesorianna manifested once more. “I have felt many spirits being defeated, some even being laid to rest entirely. The five have been dissipated, although they will soon reform.”
Buffy nodded, pulling the badge of office she had found in the torture chamber from her bag of holding. “Yup. We made with the redeadening.”
“You found my husband's badge. With that, I can symbolically attain his authority over this place. With the prisoners laid low, I will have the power to cleanse Harrowstone once and for all.”
Buffy handed it over, the ghost somehow holding the metal disc despite her incorporeal nature. She straightened up, her posture somehow more dignified than before, and then she began to glow. First her eyes, then her entire body, began to emit a white light, which then spread outward, covering the walls, and then the entirety of the prison grounds. A cool, soothing sensation washed over both living women as they stood, and before long they were forced to cover their eyes as the light became too bright to see. The air itself seemed to ring like a bell, yet their ears heard no sounds. A sense of anticipation grew, and the air tasted as charged as before a thunderstorm.
Then, just as the tension reached its peak, a tiny voice whispered, “thank you,” and all became still. With a clink, the badge of office fell to the ground, still glowing faintly white for several seconds after everything else returned to normal. Blinking to clear dazed tears from her eyes, Buffy was overwhelmed by the lack
of overpowering malignancy from her slayer senses.
Kendra walked over to the badge and picked it up, frowning slightly. “I think I will have to examine this in more detail later, but I believe this disc has attained some significant power, having been used as a focus for such a tremendous supernatural event.”
“You can do what you want, I'm not going to hit a book for at least a week. I'm just going to kick back and get my rest on.”
Kendra tucked the metal disc in a belt pouch, and the two women slowly walked out of the prison in thoughtful silence. Stepping outside into the fresh air, Buffy took a deep breath, reveling in the sense of a job well done. They had saved Ravengro. Too bad there was no Bronzing to be done.
Looking up at the stars of early evening as they walked, Buffy finally looked at her friend. “So, how was your first adventure?”
“Exhausting,” Kendra answered with a small smile.
“Yeah. Besides sleep and hitting the books, what do you plan to do?”
“Well, I intend to find a way to travel to your dimension.”
“Thanks. But what about after that? Are you gonna sell your home and travel?”
“Well, I have been giving it quite a bit of thought...”
Buffy suddenly felt a powerful sensation kicking her in the spidey-sense like Glorificus to her solar plexus, the previous transition from Hellmouth-level supernatural hotspot to nothing having blinded her slayer senses until too late. She knew that she had no time to react, so she simply shoved Kendra hard. Then it hit. Pain. Fire. Pain. Impact. Pain. Flying through the air. Pain. Darkness... Author's Notes
This is the final part of the prison sequence in the Haunting of Harrowstone. Kendra uses her disrupt undead cantrip as well as the shield spell, recasting it via her arcane bond amulet. The Splatter Man is a powerful wizard, although he is missing his spellbook and therefore has a limited selection of spells to call upon. The very bright attack was a maximized magic missile, the large ones were empowered magic missiles, and the rest were normal magic missiles. He summoned the pack of fiendish dire rats with an empowered summon monster II, and the fiendish giant spiders with normal summon monster IIs – he's a fan of metamagic feats. He used dispel magic to take down Kendra's shield so that she was vulnerable to magic missile fire. Finally, he threw the sword (a +1 keen longsword) and the dagger (a +1 mithral dagger) with his hand of the apprentice class power (from being a generalist wizard). All of that, and he still had a Summon Monster II, four magic missiles, and six uses of hand of the apprentice available! Moral of the story: wizards are scary and complex to write.
That was the biggest battle I have ever written. It actually took me three sittings to write it, and then more time editing it. I hope it was as fun to read as it was hard to write! Also, as is my preferred idiom, after a cliffhanger that evil I feel a need for a good, cleansing maniacal laugh: Mwa ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha!