Disclaimer: none of the characters are mine, but belong to Joss Whedon and to DnD
Lately, since Willow left for the other worlds and broke up with her, Kennedy Vasquez was having dreams. She was not sure if they were Vampire Slayer dreams (lately, the Vampire Slayers probably were not the favorites of the various Powers – good, bad or neutral), but they did not feel like ordinary dreams either. After all, you could dream of a certain semi-forbidden place on the Yucatan peninsula once, but not for almost two weeks in a row, could you?
Well, you could, just not normally, and Kennedy, though she was still a ‘junior’ Vampire Slayer technically, knew an abnormal dream when she dreamt one, and she also knew what to do. The supernatural, Willow type of magic, may have been gone, but the magic of money remained, and Kennedy had plenty of that. Within 2 days she booked a private flight and flew off to fulfill her destiny (probably).* * *
The abandoned Maya ruins stood there as they always stood, partially swallowed and digested by the jungle, but still relatively hale, crisscrossed by shallow streams. A small bird was caught in one of them, desperately floundering. Carefully looking around and failing to see anyone, Kennedy reached out and pulled the bird out.
The bird had stilled while Kennedy was extracting it, but once it was out of the water and higher up in the air, it unfroze, looked around, fluttered its wings and flew off. Even with her heightened senses, Kennedy quickly lost it in the tangle of tree branches, leaves and the sky.
A sudden sound of clapping caught her attention next, anyways. “Nicely done, Kennedy!” Faith LeHane said as she emerged from the shadows of a broken-down pillar. “I’m guessing that you didn’t come here just for that, did you?”
“I hope not,” Kennedy confessed. “Why are you here, though?”
“I’m going to talk to an oracle,” Faith sobered somewhat.
“Really? Father told me that the natives did have one here, he just did not get into the details...”
“And for a good reason. The conquistadors did not find much gold and glory here, you know,” Faith shrugged.
“Can I come along?”
Faith gave the younger woman a hard look. “If you must,” she reluctantly agreed. “But try to keep quiet and don’t touch anything.” With these words she turned around and went into the shadows.
Kennedy quickly followed.* * *
So far, Kennedy’s slaying career was brief, but it had included the rise of the First Evil and its army of the Turok-Han, so she was somewhat jaded. Still, when she followed Faith through the pillar’s shadow and found herself in some underground cavern complex rather than still in the jungle swallowed ruins, she was impressed. When she looked around and realized that there were dragons around, she was worried.
“Faith,” she hissed quietly, “here are dragons!”
“Yup,” Faith said calmly, “and we’re Vampire Slayers. If it comes to a fight, we can take them on, but let’s not dawdle!”
They walked on.
They walked on forwards, but also, somewhat upwards, as they went up one, and then another, flight of stairs. Everywhere there were dragons, and they were all dark, but of different shades of dark. Some shone like obsidian statues, others appeared to swallow light as if they were patches of shadow, the third had a somewhat lavender tinge to their blackness.
And wherever there were dragons, intently following their movement, there were torches burning with an unnatural green fire, or rather light, since they emitted no smoke, just a sharp, unpleasant smell...
Then, abruptly, Faith stopped at the uppermost tier, and so had Kennedy. They found themselves standing before a pool of some sort, now full of earth, sand and stone rabble, with a statue standing in the middle. The statue was a study in contrasts: from the waist up it was an exquisitely crafted woman, very life-like save for two pieces of black stone, while from the waist down it was a solid, but roughly constructed, pillar of rock.
“Obsidian duchess! Your grace!” Faith yelled to it. “We would like to seek out your knowledge and wisdom!”
“And what will you pay it with?” the voice seemed to come from within the statue, a rough sound of rocks grating against one another.
“Kakistos!” Faith thrust forward a small bag of what appeared to be dust and ashes. “The greatest vampire priest of Anghra-Mainyu!”
“Accepted!” the statue shifted forwards, snake-like, as it grabbed the bag of ashes from Faith. “Ask your questions!”
“What is happening to our world – is it dying?” Faith asked matter-of-factly staring right at the now-animated statue. As to what has happened to the bag of ash, Kennedy did not know, but she did not see it either.
“When the seed of magic was destroyed, the top and the bottom of this world were blown off, leaving it stuck in the center of the four sides,” the statue rumbled. “The sides are still pressing tight, as they do in the world of the Black Sun, and in time this world will be like that world as well. It will not die, just change beyond recognition.”
“Can we do something about that?” Faith asked, clearly having a clue even if Kennedy did not.
“Only the knowledge of the First World can give you that sort of power,” the statue rumbled.
There was a lull in the conversation, as neither Faith nor the statue spoke. “Ask the third question, oh Walker in the shadows!” Her eyes twinkled like two cold stars and her pool shook and shifted as if there was some sort of a viscous liquid under all that rabble.
“We think we will save it for another time,” Faith replied, while looking straight into the statue’s eyes and crossing her arms.
A moment, a two, and the statue nodded. “Very well, but remember the third question!” With these words she sank into her pool and was gone.
But, apparently, not done, as acid began to spill from there instead.
“We leave now?” Kennedy quickly asked the other slayer. She should not have bothered, as acid began to burst through the rock with some rather impressive sounds and speed. The torches too began to melt into a sludge of acidic rock, though the dragons were gone, at least. Realizing the absurdity of her question, Kennedy followed Faith in running for the exit instead.
Even with the slayer speed set on full, they barely made it.* * *
Outside, the jungle had grown darker than it was when they left, and Kennedy could almost, though not quite, see the eyes of various jungle animals and other things that were coming out now that the sun was setting. That and considering the dragons of the Duchess, made Kennedy want to leave this place really hard, but before she could tell Faith, someone else appeared.
“Faith? You okay? And who’s your friend?” the speaker asked. Tall, slim, as graceful as a snake, she was also a snake-haired gorgon, though not snake-tailed. A pair of large draconic wings however quite compensated for that oversight, in Kennedy’s opinion though.
“Sophie,” Faith smiled brightly. “You were okay while waiting here?”
“Yeah, I even made some new jewelry, see?” the gorgon lifted her hand, revealing several rings with gems shaped like frogs. And since the knowledge of the gorgons was rather commonplace, Kennedy was quite sure that these were frogs until recently.
“That’s nice,” Faith grinned back. “Anyways, can you give me a lift to Boston and we’ll be done.”
“What about your friend?” Sophie the gorgon cocked her head.
“Kennedy? She has her own transportation, not to mention family here,” Faith shook her head.
“Fine,” Faith exhaled. “Kennedy, this is Sophie. I rescued her from some vampires before being hired by the mayor of Sunnydale. Sophie, this is Kennedy. She is with Willow-“
“We broke up, actually,” Kennedy said flatly. “Period.”
“Really?” Sophie grinned, revealing a mouthful of sharp, shiny teeth. “You are seeing somebody else?”
“Are you flirting with me?” Kennedy blinked.
“Faith,” Kennedy turned to the other Vampire Slayer who looked more annoyed rather than worried. “Help?”
“Just go out with her, once. Please?” Faith sighed. “Apparently she hasn’t had much luck with dates.”
“Fine,” Kennedy turned back to the gorgon. “But it’ll be only one date.”
“Yay!” Sophie said excitedly. “I’m on a roll!”
As she jumped up and down and Faith rolled her eyes in exasperation, Kennedy actually felt like smiling slightly: working as a bodyguard was a good job and it did pay well, but this sort of excitement? Yeah, she did rather miss it, slightly. In the future, this state of affairs might change, but she will stick with the flow for now.