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. Holding a Tiger By Its Tail
Buffy slowly came awake in a soft, feather stuffed bed lying in an unfamiliar room. Tensing, she reached out with her senses, relaxing slightly when she noticed no vampires in the immediate area. She could smell dust heavy in the air, and a subtle undercurrent of rot. Sunshine warmed her face.
Slowly opening her eyes, Buffy saw that she was lying in a small room with an open window admitting daylight to fill up the tiny space. The only furniture was a large, comfortable bed on which she lay, although its sheets were coarse and scratchy. Thinking back, Buffy's eyes widened as she suddenly remembered what had happened to her.
After being drained of most of her blood, Buffy had been escorted to this room by a servant. Buffy had been too out of it to do anything the night before, but now she took stock of herself. She was still wrung out from the blood loss, but she had mostly recovered, her slayer healing helping to replenish lost blood at an accelerated rate. Her clothing was as dirty as her body, having not had the chance to wash in well over a day, but she still had her daggers and stakes on her person.
Standing quietly, Buffy walked over to the door and opened it silently. The hall outside was empty, and Buffy could tell that it was part of the main hallway that she had been lead through at the beginning of the previous evening. Pulling the door wider Buffy tried to leave, only to freeze. The cold red glow in her mind returned full force, compelling her to stay. Closing the door, Buffy returned to her bed and sat with a sigh. She was still thralled, she concluded glumly.
Buffy spent the next several hours practicing her martial arts as best she could in the confined space of her room. It was a far better way to spend her time than thinking, since every time she did her thoughts drifted back to home, and the sudden loss of Tara and Dawn. Thinking about them hurt her terribly, and she still could barely think of Willow without a flare of intense anger. Instead of dwelling further, Buffy committed herself to her training.
Eventually, a closemouthed servant arrived, bringing her a meal. The young man ignored all attempts at conversation, leaving Buffy with platter of food. It included sausages, fried eggs, ham, bread, and fried tomatoes, all of which were offered in large quantities. Whatever complaints she might have about her imprisonment, Buffy thought, the food was a far cry from Double Meat Medleys.
Not long after she finished eating an older woman entered. Smiling at Buffy stiffly, she pulled out a tape measure. “I'm a seamstress. The mistress has ordered me to make you a proper dress for tonight's revel.”
Buffy soon found herself stripped to her underwear and being measured repeatedly by the woman. She clucked disapprovingly as she did so. “Your much to too thin, dear. I've seen the way you've been eating here, and you definitely need to keep it up. With some luck, some of the weight might even go to your chest.”
“Hey,” Buffy said, outraged. “There's nothing wrong with my breasts!” Buffy glanced down self-consciously, still fuming.
“Of course not, dear, nothing wrong at all. Still, if you could put a little weight on before the mistress decides to turn you, you'll be thanking yourself for centuries.”
Buffy looked around before reaching out with her senses to make sure they were alone. “Look, is there anyway that you can help me? I'll rescue you when I get a chance too, but...”
“I'm sorry, dear,” the woman interrupted her with a gentle tone. “But there's nothing to be done. The only thing I can help you with is getting the right dress. Now, how do you feel about green? I think it would bring out your eyes very nicely.”
With a resigned sigh, Buffy went with the flow and soon found herself enjoying having her first custom tailored dress made. The seamstress, who eventually introduced herself as Vibia, had very different tastes from Buffy, and it took all of her efforts to acquire a dress that wasn't covered in ruffles and lace, or possessing enormous shoulder pads or an overly tight corset.
Servants brought in a large copper tub while Buffy covered herself self-consciously, filling it with steaming water while Vibia sewed. Soon Buffy was clean, relaxed, and perfumed, and sitting wearing only a towel while she waited for her new clothing.
The final result was a gorgeous gown of pale green cloth which flowed smoothly over her body. It was tight enough around her upper body to show off her petite figure to full effect, but loose enough everywhere to allow a full range of movement. Smiling into the small hand mirror a servant had brought, Buffy couldn't help but relax as Vibia carefully brushed her blonde hair into an elaborate up do. She hadn't pampered herself since she had been torn from heaven, and even if she would rather escape, she had to admit that she had rarely looked better. Reluctantly surrendering her mirror to Vibia as she left, Buffy grinned as she looked down at herself. Buffy's eyes watered as she imagined Dawn being upset that the dress was too closely tailored for her to steal. As angry as Dawn stealing (and all too often ruining) her clothing had made her in the past, now she would give anything for Dawn to be a pest again.
Shaking off her pain, Buffy took the time to carefully stretch herself. Her dress was loose enough to allow her a good range of movement, far better than the dress she had fought the master in at least. Delivering a high kick just to be certain, Buffy nodded before carefully adjusting her hair. She could definitely fight in her new outfit, her foolishness in her high school years having taught her all of the tricks to fighting in wildly impractical clothing, and her efforts with Vibia leading to a dress that was far more wearable than it first appeared. She just needed the opportunity.
Finally, Buffy settled onto the bed as she felt a vampire approaching once more. Opening the door, Annika strode in. “Let me see you,” she said, twirling a finger. Buffy did as directed, spinning to show off her dress. “Very nice. I knew that you were pretty, but dressed well, you are beautiful. Yes, when the time comes I will definitely be keeping you around. Now then, the party awaits!”
Buffy followed the vampire to the ballroom again, and once more was ordered to join in the revelry. Properly attired, and with her nearly forgotten formal dance skills refreshed the day before, Buffy found herself the center of attention on the dance floor with all of the men nearly fighting for the chance to dance with her. Despite herself Buffy was soon having a very good time, nearly forgetting the situation as she moved to the music. For the last year Buffy had spent more time in the shadows of the Bronze watching others enjoy themselves than participating, and now she found herself enjoying what she been missing since her resurrection.
Unfortunately, her fun was shattered when her next partner was Jacob, the vampire that she had fought several nights ago. Tensing, Buffy tried to avoid dancing with him, but she felt her compulsion to party glow in her mind, forcing her accept his offer. Buffy grit her teeth as she began to waltz with the cold bodied monster who, to her annoyance, seemed to be using the dance as little more than an opportunity to look down her dress.
“Hey,” Buffy said sharply. “My eyes are up here you know.”
The vampire smirked condescendingly at her. “What does that matter? Soon, you'll be one of us, and I'm looking very forward to it. For what you did to me... oh yes, I'm looking forward to teaching you the place of a freshly turned vampire.”
“Ew,” Buffy said, her face grimacing in distaste. “I'd rather be dead.”
“You will be, little girl.”
Buffy rolled her eyes. “Really, we're back to 'little girl' again. 'Cause you know, that makes you sound like a big ol' creeper. I mean, pedophile much? Besides...” Buffy's voice, which had been light before, suddenly turned hard and dangerous. “I may be thralled now, but when I break it, I'm going to kill you. I won't play games. I won't mess around. I'm going to beat you to death, and then I'm going to stake you and leave you for the sun.” Buffy smirked in satisfaction when he flinched at her tone of voice.
Twirling away as the song ended, Buffy found another partner, and smiled in satisfaction as neither vampire approached her again. Thralled or not, she was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, damn it.
Eventually servants brought out the table once more, and loaded it with another fantastic spread. Taking the same seat as last time, Buffy nodded across the table at Petros. “How are you holding up?” she asked quietly.
“I am as well as can be expected. Are you alright? You are the one she has been feeding upon.”
Buffy smiled slightly at the genuine concern in his voice. “I'm fine. Slayer healing. As long as I can eat like this, I'll be okay even if she does drain me like that every day.”
Buffy waited silently as Annika gave a blessing to her dark goddess, ending once more with her toast. “Feed your pain.”
The food was as delicious and plentiful as the day before, this time featuring a variety of pork dishes rather than the fowl of the previous feast. “Is this an everyday thing? 'Cause this much food has got be expensive.”
Annika chuckled throatily. “Oh yes, I honor my goddess whenever possible. Urgathoa tells us that we should enjoy all earthly pleasures available to us, both while living and from beyond the grave. And its not just food, or the parties I host. If you would like anything else, then simply ask. I would be remiss as a host if did not provide all the worldly pleasures you could ask for. Any of those handsome men you've danced with? Or, if you would prefer, one of the ladies could grace your bed. Or both.”
“The only thing I want is to beat you vamps to death with my bare hands.”
Annika laughed delightedly. “How deliciously savage. Tomorrow night before the feast I'll let you pummel Manius for a while. It should be good entertainment, and a fine lesson for my other minion.” Leaning forward she gave Buffy a conspiratorial grin. “We lady adventurer's need to stick together after all. I was much like you once. I wandered from town to town, from Cheliax to the Land of the Linnorm Kings, fighting evil wherever I found it until one day I caught the eye of powerful vampire in Caliphas. When I turn you, you won't just be like my minions over there. I can feel it already. You'll rise as a true vampire, not simply some weak spawn. After a few centuries under my control I'll even set you free to find your own path, I think.”
Buffy shuddered at the thought. One of her most terrible nightmares had been being turned, and unless she could escape the thrall holding her it would soon be her fate. The idea of an eternity without heaven, doing evil... it was unthinkable.
Buffy stayed quiet throughout the rest of the feast, merely listening as Annika discussed the history of ghosts in Ustalav with Petros. Finally, after the servants had delivered a rich chocolate cake (of which Buffy ate two slices) she sat back contentedly, feeling warm and relaxed after the superb meal. Even with a slayer's metabolism, Buffy thought, she would be lucky to stay in shape long enough to be turned with the way she was eating.
“You have proven to be quite a source of knowledge, Petros,” Annika said, smiling a shark's grin. “I had simply planned on learning what you knew and then killing you, but I think I'll keep you. You may not be handsome enough for my bed like my other minions, but your knowledge is worth preserving.”
Hearing that, Petros paused for a moment, before scrambling to his feet and running for the door. Annika looked over at Buffy, smiling teasingly. “Catch him and bring him back to me.” Buffy leapt to her feet and ran flat out, catching Petros before he even reached the exit. Grabbing him as gently as she could, she half carried and half dragged him back to the vampire, who now stood next to the dining table. “Hold him still while I turn him.” Saying that, Annika leaned forward toward the wildly struggling Petros, her eyes locked onto his pulsing neck.
The ability of a Golarion vampire to dominate its victim is heavily influenced by how much the victim is determined to fight it. Buffy hated being under the vampire's control, but its commands had not been onerous. She might want to escape, but Buffy often stayed in rooms or followed people. She might not want to be ordered to party, but she loved to dance. She would never let a vampire bite her unless there was a dire need, but she had let Angel do it in the past, and a tiny voice in her head that she firmly denied existing could understand Riley's enjoyment of the act. Furthermore, while Buffy had been healing recently, the loss of Dawn and her dimensional displacement had set Buffy back somewhat, and the masochistic urges that had lead her into her mutually abusive relationship with Spike didn't put up much of a fight against what was happening.
No part of Buffy, not even the smallest most traitorous voice, could accept seeing an innocent being turned by a vampire. The thought of Petros being turned revolted her on a fundamental level, and she opposed the idea with every fiber of her being. The red glow of Annika's domination didn't stand a chance against the tide of righteous anger and soul deep outrage that filled her, spurred on by the wrath of her inner slayer rebelling against the act she was being forced to participate in. Before she could even blink Buffy snarled and grabbed one of the candlesticks, swinging it with every bit of mystical might in her entire body.
The silver candlestick holder moved so fast that it was invisible in the air, and struck so hard against Annika's head that it snapped in two, the end flying across the room and embedding into the wood paneling. The only reason that the vampire's skull didn't simply burst like a melon from the force of the blow was that Annika had felt her domination breaking, and had already begun to move backwards with all of her supernatural speed, lessoning the impact. It was still enough to crack her skull, splitting the skin on her head open in a spray of black blood as she hurtled through the air a dozen feet, her brain bouncing about the inside of her skull like the clapper of a bell.
Dropping the ruined candlestick holder, Buffy pushed Petros under the table and jumped on top of it, scooping up silverware as she moved. The two vampire minions had barely stood before she began to throw, forks and spoons of sterling silver embedding in vampiric flesh at joints and other weak points and digging in deeply, the metal keeping the wounds from healing as quickly as those inflicted by her fists and stakes had.
Running down the table, Buffy scooped up another silver candlestick holder and leapt into the air at Jacob, the vampire that she had beaten before. His eyes widened, displaying his fangs as he gaped at her stupidly, before his mouth forcibly snapped shut as Buffy caved his head in with the candlestick, the downward blow crumbling his body for a moment before he simply dissolved into mist, flowing out of the room through one of the open doors.
Buffy vaulted over the table, feet first into the face of the remaining minion vampire, her quick move saving her life as two lines of flame shot through her previous position, the heat so intense and so close that it scorched the back of her neck and singed her hair as she flew away from the attack. As Buffy struck her target in the nose, she looked back across the room at her attacker. Standing somewhat unsteadily with dark blood running down her face was Annika, her hands still held out, wisps of smoke slowly rising from her palms.
Looking down at her current enemy, Buffy lashed downward twice with her improvised silver weapon, smashing his handsome face before he too burst into mist. Looking up, Buffy dove to the side as two more lines of fire shot outward, the bottom of her dress bursting into flame from her narrow dodge.
“I thought vamps were supposed to avoid fire!” Buffy complained.
“Kill the girl!” Annika snarled. As one the crowd of humans turned toward Buffy and charged.
“Would it help if I apologized about the head?” Buffy called out as she dodged her attackers, reluctant to hurt the innocent victims of the vampires. “Next time, I'll aim for the face. It certainly couldn't hurt anything.”
Annika scowled and chanted quietly, waving her hands for a moment before pointing at Buffy. Her fingertip glowed red, and from it came four glowing streaks of light. Buffy tumbled sideways, her eyes widening as the attack changed course in midair and, despite her most desperate maneuvering, she was struck by all four lights. Grunting in pain as her body began to bleed, she looked down. The attacks had only inflicted shallow wounds, but they had struck painfully all the same. Standing up, Buffy pushed a nobleman aside as she jumped back onto the table, throwing her candlestick holder at the vampire, who simply tilted her head to one side to avoid the blow, her hands already moving and her mouth chanting as she prepared another spell.
Buffy ran hard down the length of the table, but her progress was slowed by people attempting to trip her up, finally forcing her to kick several people away as they stopped her progress through sheer numbers. Somersaulting sideways as Annika completed her spell again, her wild dodge into the crowd did nothing as four more streaks of red light wove through her attackers to strike Buffy once more. Knocked off balance by the hits, Buffy was pulled to the ground by two of her former dance partners.
Struggling to her feet, Buffy finally heaved her attackers away from her long enough to stand, before she found herself knocked backwards once again with a scream as four more hits struck home, opening up more sluggishly bleeding wounds. Pushing through the ring of enthralled humans, Buffy moved as best she could towards the casting vampire when suddenly Petros stood up from under the table, picking up a serving tray and sticking the bottom side into Annika's face. She recoiled with a hiss, her face scrunching up as she was presented with her reflection, or rather her lack of one. “Thats what everyone feels like doing when they see your face, trust me on that,” Buffy said as she finally cleared her attackers. She had thought the fear of mirrors was stupid, but she was glad the local vampires were frightened of their reflection enough for a well cleaned metal serving tray to hold them at bay as well as her cross would have her own vamps.
Annika backed up quickly as Buffy charged, chanting quietly as she held up her hands, the thumbs linked together and her fingers splayed out wide toward the slayer. Buffy scooped up a large two pronged silver serving fork on the run, holding it like a dagger as she closed. Just as she began to lunge, Annika finished her spell, flames erupting from her hands and cascading outward, filling the space in front of her. Buffy dug in her heels to stop and raised her arms to cover her face, barely holding in her scream as her dress burst into flames, her arms blistering painfully under the intense heat.
The slayer, her clothing completely on fire, glared at the vampire, her flaming body and fierce expression giving her the appearance of some terrible hell spawn set to extract painful vengeance on her enemy. Sneering to cover how unnerved she was, Annika raised her arms above her head, as suddenly with a great rush of wings a cloud of bats poured into the room from every entrance, all but blocking Buffy's vision. “By the blood, Slayer, we will meet again,” Annika vowed as she transformed into a bat herself, getting immediately lost in the swarm.
Buffy cursed and dove to the floor, rolling back and forth trying to put out the painful fire. “Hold still!” Petros shouted, pulling the tablecloth down onto her, wrapping her up to smother the flames.
Buffy held in a whimper as the cloth dug into the painful burns covering her body, grabbing onto her anger instead as she growled. “When I find her I am going rip out her ribcage with my bare hands.”
“Sounds messy, yet likely satisfying. But I think for now you'll be needing some bandages and more care besides. These are some nasty burns.”
Buffy grimaced. “I'll live. We need to make sure the vamps don't.”
“Annika is probably long gone. She'll fly to town and hide, probably dominate someone to get her a coffin and a carriage to transport herself in. The other two though, are another story. You hurt them badly enough to force them to discorporate, so they must have returned to their coffins nearby. If we can find them before they heal, we can deal with them permanently.”
Buffy stood, her face like stone as she ignored the terrible pain from her burned body. Looking down, she saw that her skin was bright red and covered in blisters, but only in a few places had the burns moved past second degree, the skin blackened here and there in small patches, in addition to the dozen sluggishly bleeding wounds Annika's other spells had caused. “Thank God for slayer healing,” Buffy said, her voice tight. “I'm going to be down for a few days after this, but I've got enough in me to stake a few vamps. I've found that slaying is the best medicine.”
“Good,” Petros said, somewhat relieved although his voice still held obvious concern. “But I think we should at least clean your wounds first. You saved my life, and I won't let you send yourself to an early grave while I can prevent it.”
In the end Buffy was in too much pain to argue with him any longer, so she let herself be led away from the milling, confused crowd of dazed victims to the kitchen. Taking a few minutes, Petros managed to scrounge up enough supplies to treat her wounds, although she was burned in so many places she resembled a mummy when he was done bandaging her. The lotion he found did the trick though, soothing the worst of the pain to manageable (by a slayer) levels, allowing Buffy to find a change of clothing and her weapons and supplies.
After that, finding the vampires turned out to be far less effort than they had feared. Buffy could sense them downstairs, and a brief search found a room with three coffins in it. The fanciest one was empty, but the other two contained helpless vampires. Too sore and tired to even pun, Buffy simply staked them both and dragged them outside by their ankles. Sitting on the porch next to Petros, the two enjoyed a companionable silence as they waited for the sun to rise.
After days under the thrall of a vampire, Buffy smiled with satisfaction as the beautiful sunrise slowly lit up the sky, the first warm rays eventually finding the two staked minions. They burst into flames, consumed in seconds. “Way more trouble than my vamps,” Buffy said, her voice thoughtful. “But I have to admit, that was pretty satisfying.”
Petros chuckled his tired agreement. Author's Notes
The spells used against Buffy included scorching ray, magic missile, and burning hands. A vampire sorcerer is bad business. Don't worry about closure though – we haven't seen the last of Annika.
If you're vulnerable to silver, you really shouldn't use real silver very much, no matter how low class the alternatives. That should probably be on the evil overlord list. Too bad Annika doesn't have internet access.