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Gram: Wrath

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This story is No. 2 in the series "The Saga of the Seven Swords". You may wish to read the series introduction and the preceeding stories first.

Summary: When the ancient dragon Fafnir decides to devour all of Sweden, Buffy and Willow must embark upon an epic quest to acquire the one weapon that can stop it.

Categories Author Rating Chapters Words Recs Reviews Hits Published Updated Complete
Miscellaneous > Myths & LegendsbrokenmimirFR151753,5732134,36310 Dec 121 Feb 13Yes

Chapter Ten

Disclaimer
I don't own anything. Buffy is not owned by me. It is owned by rich, talented people. I'm a nobody. Please don't sue me.


A Warm Welcome


Buffy and Willow strolled through the cold forest as the sun waned, following the glowing mote of green light that served as a tracker for the dwarf they were searching for. From their watches, they realized that they had only about ten hours of sunlight before the sun set each day. While they weren't too concerned about the dangers of the forest at night, they were worried about it becoming colder again.

The main source of their new confidence about the dangers they faced came from Buffy's new friends. While their first night had been a series of skirmishes with the over sized wolf monsters, killing the alpha had won the Slayer the loyalty of the pack. In addition to the larger ones that moved protectively through the trees near them, several of the younger wolf pups, although already the size of normal, full grown wolves, hung out near them, sniffing everything they came across and running around playfully.

Buffy thought that they were adorable. Whenever one of the huge beasts came near she couldn't help cooing over it, petting the giant creature like it was a cute neighborhood puppy. Willow, on the other hand, barely kept from screaming the first time one of the creatures opened its maw full of razor sharp fangs to slobber on her face.

“Buffy,” Willow said slowly as she watched the young wolves vie for the Slayer's attention. “We can't bring back a pack of giant wolves with us. I mean, even if we could, there's no way we could take care of them back at the castle.”

“Duh,” Buffy said. Willow let out a sigh of relief for a moment. “Of course I can't take them all. That would be way too much trouble. I mean, can you imagine trying to take care of that many of these cuties?”

Willow grimaced painfully. “Buffy, they were trying to eat us, like, an hour ago. Am I the only one who noticed this? The near eating?”

Buffy rolled her eyes. “You're being silly. This so wouldn't be the first time we've taken something that tried to eat us home. 'Sides, look at him. How can you say no to this sweet wittle face.”

Buffy placed her face alongside one of the wolves, holding the head steady so that both of them gave the witch their best puppy dog eyes. It would have been more effective if halfway through the wolf hadn't opened its mouth and began panting, revealing its enormous teeth. Willow was fairly certain that real dogs didn't have nearly that many teeth. “I can't imagine,” she said sarcastically.

“Just think 'bout the kinda surprisage one of these babies would give the next baddie that tries to sneak into Slayer HQ. I think I'll add walking it to Dawnie's chores every Tuesday. Also: do you smell smoke? 'Cause I smell smoke.”

Willow sniffed, but noticed nothing. They walked more carefully after that, and before long they could see a bright light through the trees ahead. Loud, raucous laughter echoed through the forest, and the two women exchanged one last cautious look before approaching whatever lay ahead.

In front of them was a huge clearing in the forest, and at its center was an enormous longhouse. The building was the size of a football field, with a roof made of sod and roughhewn wooden walls. In front of the building was a huge fire pit, nearly twenty feet across, which blazed cheerily, brightening up the entire area. More smoke rose from a chimney at the center of the longhouse, and a number of smaller buildings were scattered around the edges of the clearing.

It would have looked very inviting, in a primitive kind of way, if the inhabitants hadn't been plainly visible. Standing around the clearing, in particular clustered around the fire, were numerous trolls. Most stood between seven and nine feet in height, with rough, dark green skin and a pair of horns on their foreheads. The only obvious difference between the male and female trolls was the presence of facial hair, and the cut of their loose tunics.

One of the trolls had sharp eyes, and noticed Willow as she observed the gathered crowd. He pointed at her and shouted something loudly to the others. As the crowd turned to face them, drawing hammers and axes as they did, Buffy stepped out from her hiding spot and stared them down.

The crowd of trolls and the Slayer faced each other for a long moment, until one of the younger ones ran into the longhouse, shouting something as he went. A few seconds later an enormous figure stepped out. A enormous, familiar, figure. “I knew I remembered the land of the trolls,” Buffy muttered quietly as Willow joined her.

“YOU!” Olaf the troll shouted as he stormed out of the longhouse. He pointed at them as he marched boldly over. “The minuscule blonde one who fought me, and the Witch who banished me to this place!”

Buffy stepped in front of Willow again, her hands on her hips as she glared up at the enormous troll approaching her. “The blonde who beat you, you mean.”

Olaf stopped in front of her, glaring down at her in return. They held that pose for a long moment, as everyone held their breath, before suddenly the troll began to laugh merrily. He picked the Slayer up in a huge bear hug. “Indeed! A mighty shield maiden! Come, let us feast little warrior! Feast and make merry! Ale! Bring ale for me and the fierce little warrior!”

He dropped Buffy onto the ground, before turning his attention on Willow. “You! Did you send me here?”

“Y-yes,” Willow stammered, her eyes wide as she began to gather power to defend herself. Instead she squeaked as Olaf picked her up in a crushing hug.

“Then you shall be feted too, little Witch!” he boomed. “You have led me to the land of my ancestors, where I have become Jarl! I rule these woods, and it is good! Many fine troll wenches, much hunting to be had, and the finest troll warriors to lead in battle! It is troll heaven! Now, ale for the fine wenches! Ale for everyone!”

Olaf dropped Willow and strode back to the fire, where the gathered trolls began to cheer and hand out huge flagons of ale. Buffy and Willow exchanged bemused looks before shrugging and heading towards the group. One of the wolf pups, a young black furred brute whose head was nearly to Buffy's shoulder, left the trees and followed them curiously.

One of the troll women handed Buffy and Willow flagons of ale, and the two women looked at their drinks dubiously. They each held nearly a gallon of alcohol, and were heavy enough that Willow had to use two hands to hold it. The flagons themselves were crudely carved from wood and looked none too clean, and the drink inside was dark and fragrant.

“Drink, warrior!” Olaf boomed. “Share the hospitality of my fire! My booze! My food!”

Buffy looked around cautiously, not certain that she wanted to drink anything brewed by trolls. Actually, she was reasonably certain that she didn't want to drink anything brewed by trolls. The expectant expressions on the faces of the large, well armed crowd, which became steadily darker the longer she delayed, eventually caused her to raise her flagon to her lips.

She had never been much of a drinker, and she had avoided beer at all costs after the cave Slayer incident her first year of college. The ale resembled the beer that she had drunk, although it was far more potent and thick. It reminded her more of some kind of bitter, liquid bread than anything she had ever tasted before.

The crowd of trolls began to chant as she swallowed, banging their own flagons together rhythmically as they did. “Drink! Drink! Drink!”

“Drink deeply minuscule warrior!” Olaf roared. “Drink and prove your mettle!”

Buffy had never been a big fan of giving into peer pressure, but back in Sunnydale peer pressure wasn't in the form of an army of well armed trolls who might decided to tear her to pieces if she didn't do as they wanted. Breathing through her nose, she resigned herself and swallowed the ale in one long, continuous drink, eventually turning her flagon upside down to show that it was empty. The crowd roared its approval and began slapping her painfully on the back as they began to disperse, returning to their own drinking and loud conversations.

“Good!” Olaf shouted as one of the female trolls replaced Buffy's drink. “You are a true warrior! Strong of arm and thirst! You shall be feted with the finest revel in all of Járnviðr! A feast fit for a true shield maiden!”

The other trolls cheered loudly. Buffy tried to say something, but all that came out was an enormous belch, causing her to turn red. She had drunken so much ale that her stomach felt full to bursting, even as the drink began to warm her entire body. Olaf laughed in reply, giving an enormous belch of his own. “It is good!” he shouted. “The feast shall begin in two hours! Until then, make merry and be welcome!”

Buffy turned around to take in the camp, her motions carefully controlled as her super charged Slayer metabolism set to work immediately on the ale that she had consumed. She had eaten nothing but rations for the past couple of days, and so her stomach was empty and her system ready to process anything she took in. The result was a spreading heat as her muscles became loose and her mood relaxed.

Willow looked from Buffy to her own ale, before sniffing it and wrinkling her nose in distaste. Glancing around to make sure that she wasn't being observed, she discretely dumped the majority of her stein out on the ground. She then turned to her friend, a forced smile on her face. “So! Troll ale. That's, um... wow.”

“Yeah,” Buffy said, giggling slightly. “I didn't like it at first, but I can see why people get into this whole... thingie. You know?”

“No,” Willow answered honestly, not having followed her friend's train of thought.

“So, do you like my puppy?” she asked. “I want to keep him. He's so cute.”

Willow looked down at the enormous wolf creature that had followed them into the clearing. “It's something alright.”

“Right,” Buffy said, nodding seriously. “I'm gonna tell Dawnie he's the Summers' family pet. Then I'll teach him to guard her, so she won't get hurt. She's not... safe enough. Always doing her own thing, not worryin' 'bout worryin' me. I worry.”

Willow smiled. “Dawnie's pretty grown up, you know. Not like she used to be, all damsel in distress girl. She could show some of your Slayers what for... for a bit anyway. You've got 'em pretty well trained.”

“I worry 'bout them, too,” Buffy said with drunken seriousness. “People don't think I do, but I know all my Slayers. Every one. An' I hate sendin' any of em into danger. 'Cause they're mine. An' it's my fault they're Slayers. So I have to take care of 'em. Plus, I worry 'bout you. All the time.”

“You do?” Willow asked, surprised.

“'Course,” Buffy said, nodding. “You're my bestest friend. Plus, I already killed you.”

“Killed me?” Willow asked.

“In the future. It was this whole thing. So I don't want to that again. Kill you. So I have to make sure you don't go bad again.”

“Buffy,” Willow said, grabbing her arm. “What are you talking about?”

Buffy wiped a tear from her eye as she slowly explained everything that had happened during her trip to the future. “So I come back, and you do so much magic,” she continued. “All the time. Just: bibbidi-bobbidi-booage. An' I don' wanna lose you to the magic again. An' why did you make me kill you? Why?!”

Willow wrapped her arm around Buffy's shoulders. “It wasn't me.”

“It was!” Buffy insisted. “It was totally you! I should know, 'cause you made me stab you. With the Scythe.”

“Look, I know that must have been terrible for you, having to do that. But it wasn't me. It was just a possible me. A me that did stupid stuff for bad reasons. I mean, that me made you kill her. Bad Willow. Like vampire Willow, just less skanky I hope.”

“Not skanky,” Buffy said, nodding her head seriously. “More loony. Like Dru.”

“Lovely,” Willow replied, scrunching her face up in distaste. “And, okay, that as a possible future? It's all of the bad. But that's only a possible future. Just like all the apocalypsi we've stopped? Possible futures, that we made unpossible. So don't worry. This is just like a prophecy, or a Slayer dream, or that freaky thing in Sephrilian's dimension, or that dream the draugr gave us-you, gave you. Just stuff that could happen, but we'll make sure won't.”

“But what causes it?” Buffy asked desperately. “'Cause you do lots of magic. Beaucoup magic. An' a lotta it is needed, or we'd have badness. So what if... what if my having you save the day, makes you go bad again?”

Willow was quiet for a minute. “I can't believe that would happen. The goddess wouldn't let one of her's go dark just by trying to stop the dark. When we get back, I'll spend some time with the Coven. Maybe I'm doing more magic than I need to. If I am, then I'll get back on the Magic Watcher's plan. You know, cut some spells out of my diet. But just 'cause something bad might happen someday, doesn't mean I can stop being me. My magic... it's important to me.”

Buffy grabbed her in a painful hug. “Oh Willow! I've missed you so much!”

Willow chuckled painfully. “I missed you too. But I really miss air. Air!”

The two friends sat together for a long time, Buffy continuing to metabolize her ale, becoming drunker and drunker as time passed, even without taking another sip. They talked haltingly about the last two years, both finally eager to catch up, but afraid of saying the wrong thing and ruining the healing atmosphere between them. By the time the trolls called for the feast to begin, they had regained most of their old closeness, and Buffy had to be helped inside the longhouse by Willow.

The inside of the building was smoky from a large fire pit at its center, and on either side of it were arrayed enormous tables groaning under the weight of the feast. A silver platter on each table held an entire roast boar, each the size of an SUV, and beside them were various game birds larger than an ostrich. Handwoven baskets contained huge loaves of bread, still steaming as they sat, and nearby were entire kegs of ale.

Buffy was led over to the head of the tables, where Olaf gestured to the seat beside him. “Sit shield maiden! Sit beside Olaf! And bring your pet Witch!”

Buffy sat in her wooden seat, Willow beside her, and Olaf raised his flagon in a toast, his gesture quickly replicated by the rest of the room. “To our guest! May her arm always be strong, and her aim true!”

The trolls roared in appreciation, and everyone drank. Buffy took a sip as well, although she was glad that she didn't have to drink deeply after her earlier binge. In addition to her excessive inebriation, she also worried that she would burst if she drank much more.

Despite how much she had drunk, she found herself salivating at the rich smell of real food. While everything was excessively large, it all tasted quite normal, and both Buffy and Willow were hungry enough to dig in greedily. After a little while the wolf pup laid its huge head in Buffy's lap, staring up at her pleadingly. She grinned and started feeding it as well.

“A good spread, though I miss succulent, tender baby flesh,” Olaf said dreamily.

Buffy nodded drunkenly. “'S good. No complaints.”

“Good!” he boomed. “Let us now tell tales, such as our ancestors would weep! I shall begin!”

Standing up, he took another huge gulp of ale, and the room quieted slightly as everyone listened to his story. He told the tale of his encounter with Buffy, from being released by Willow all the way to waking up in the land of the trolls. While everything in his telling was highly melodramatic, sounding like a norse epic told in prose, he didn't actually lie about anything that had happened. Willow noticed the more impressed glances Buffy received after the tale ended.

“A fine adventure, and one that led to good ends!” Olaf finished boldly. “I only miss the loss of my hammer. Never a weapon has better fit my hands! A keen loss that was. Now, your turn! Tell a tale!”

Buffy stood, swaying slightly, just drunk enough to think telling a story would be a good idea. “Your hammer! I have the tale of your hammer, which beat a god!”

Buffy had recently told the story to the shape changer Reithe while she had been searching for the Claiomh Solais, and so she was able, even inebriated as she was, to retell the story of the defeat of Glory. As before she left as much about her sister's role out of the tale as possible, and as she spoke she made sure to focus on her use of Olaf's hammer in her fight. When she finished her story, the trolls burst into cheers, and a toast was held for her valor.

“A fine tale indeed!” Olaf proclaimed. “My hammer may be lost, but it was lost after laying low a god! A fitting end!”

“Couldn't have done it without it,” Buffy said, nodding firmly.

“You are a doughty warrior indeed,” Olaf said. “Many a trollmaid would eagerly seek out your bed, for few are those to slay a god!”

Buffy blinked drunkenly, looking across the table at a large, hairy troll woman, who fluttered her eyelashes coquettishly at the Slayer. Willow stared, unable to tear her eyes away from the most disturbing thing she had ever seen, made even more comical by Buffy's drunken curiosity. “Really?” the Slayer asked.

“Indeed!” Olaf said. “Many troll men as well, though most fear to bed a warrior greater than they!”

Buffy blinked thoughtfully for a moment. “Actually, there's already someone... back home.”

Willow looked at her in surprise. “Really? Who?”

Buffy opened her mouth to answer, but before she could another troll stood and began to sing at the top of his lungs. Trolls were more impressive for the volume of their voices than for their ability to carry a tune, and Willow winced in pain at the sound. Before long the rest joined in the singing, all of them off key, but all drunk enough not to care. Even Buffy sang along after a few more sips from her tankard, despite not knowing the words.

It was a very long night for the only sober person in the area.

Author's Notes
A little of Willow's response to the revelation about Buffy's trip to the future comes from the Retreat arc of the Season 8 comic. Most of it was mine though, since the conversation is in really different circumstances.

Ah, Olaf the troll. He was a lot of fun to write. And drinking troll ale? That's gonna have some side effects. Although she wouldn't have had much choice – the Norse took drinking games seriously. My favorite was a game where the players would alternate drinking a cup of mead, then they would have to make up insulting poetry about their opponent. The loser was whoever got too drunk to make up a good poem. I decided not to do this, because I really didn't want to try and make up Trollish poetry. Or Buffyish poetry for that matter.

Trolls did exist in Norse mythology, but they are pretty ill defined. My trolls are the trolls from the Buffyverse. I've expanded upon them with general Norse culture, similar to the way that Olaf was originally presented.
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