Gnolls, Demon and threat assessment
Title: Vampire hunting can lead to adventures
Disclaimer: All characters of Buffy the Vampire Slayer belong to Joss Whedon,
Greyhawk belongs to Wizards of the Coast, the characters Justicar, Cinders, Escalla, Enid, Polk, Henry and Morag belong to Paul Kidd
Summary: Xander starts to patrol alone. Then finds this interesting stone...
Setting: Season 4 after the Initiative was discovered by the Scoobies / AU Anya left during Graduation Day never to return. Xander has already his job in construction, but doesn’t show any talent for carpentry so far
Pairings: B/R in the beginning, you won’t be bothered with it too long. B/X in the end (I hope J ), W/T mentioned
Rating: 13, 16 max. Due to some violence and swearing
Feedback: Of course, after all I want to get better.
Author’s notes: *....* denotes thoughts; //...\\\\ denotes telepathic communication;
further notes will be added as necessary
Thanks to Tenhawk for bouncing ideas back and forth with me
That night Xander slept fitfully. Once and again the sounds of wild animals woke him up. As the morning sun rose over the horizon so many birds began to sing that he couldn’t stay asleep any longer with the, for him unusual, cacophony surrounding them.
After a short breakfast the group gathered their gear and stowed it away on the cart. It all went off with a practiced ease that showed Xander that his new travel companions were together for some time already.
Jus set a quick pace for their march towards Hommlet and soon Xander started to feel his legs. But still they marched on. Over hills and through light forests. Once they crossed a small but fast flowing river that nearly carried their cart away. Only Enid’s efforts saved the cart and the totally exhausted pony.
*Man, I think I’ve never walked as far in my whole life.* thought Xander as he sank to the ground at the evening camp.
After a short break Jus left the camp again to hunt for food. An hour later the ranger returned with a large buck slung over his shoulders.
“Xander. Please come here and help me with breaking up the buck.”
“Ehm, I haven’t done that before. What must I do?” he answered.
“No problem. Look here,” with that Jus started to show Xander how to quickly remove the legs and how the other parts of the body had to be cut.
*Eeewww. Perhaps I should start to become a vegetarian.* thought Xander as he cut the buck into manageable bits for dinner. But then he felt his stomach growling in hunger and all thoughts of vegetarianism wen out of the window. Somehow the soldier-possession must have left behind similar knowledge. After only a few minutes he started to become efficient in his work and soon he had the carcass skinned and cut the meat in decent chunks, ready for the fire.
Some of the meat they left raw as Enid preferred it that way, the rest was grilled.
After the meal they sat around the fire and Jus, after being badgered into it by Escalla, shared a story from the war against the evil demi-god Iuz. As he and a group of rangers under the command of the swordmaster Recca fought a guerrilla battle behind the demon armies’ lines.
With darkness falling Xander and the others got ready to go to sleep. Jus divided the guard duty between himself, Henry the skinny youth with his magical crossbow, Morag the Marilith and Xander.
Xander was glad that he had first watch as he felt that he couldn’t sleep yet and he didn’t fancy interrupting his sleep for standing guard.
After two hours of watching the dark for movements Xander got sleepy and happily let himself be relived by Henry.
The next morning Xander woke up uncharacteristically fast. The smell of food cooking over the last embers the fire had left coupled with a tiny hand tickling his foot proved to be too much and Xander shot up and looked around sleepily.
*Someone is missing.* after a few more moments Xander had a name to go with this feeling.
“Hey guys, where is Morag?”
Escalla answered him, “Oh she is visiting her suitor. He is currently on some layer or the other of the Abyss.”
“She has a suitor in Hell? I ‘m almost afraid to ask, but what is he?”
“He is an incubus. We haven’t met him yet, but Morag has talked about him a lot already, he seems to be a nice guy.”
During breakfast they talked a bit more about demons and how Morag reformed and finally rebelled against Lloth. And soon they were again on their way north towards Hommlet.
With high sun fast approaching it started to get hot on the plain. And so he reduced their pace to avoid exhaustion. Even Polk’s incessant chatter slowed down to only a trickle. Only Escalla was still overflowing with energy and flitted from one end of their little caravan to the other on wildly beating wings.
Then suddenly they heard several voices utter yipping, barking laughs.
*Hyenas!* it shot through Xander’s mind.
“Gnolls,” said the Justicar. “At least five of them,” he added after a few moments of listening.
“And they are directly in our way,” remarked Henry and pointed towards the hill in front of them.
“Hoopy! Come on guys, I always wanted to kick some gnoll butt,” exclaimed Escalla and flew a little looping.
“All right. We go in silently and see what the best course of action is. Enid, you and Polk stay here and guard our gear. The rest come along,” ordered the ranger.
So they slowly crept up the hillside, careful not to alert the gnolls on the other side of the hill.
As thy neared the summit Escalla winked out of existence, becoming invisible. Only the slight whirring of her wings betrayed her presence.
Jus pulled Cinders up over his helmet so that he faced ahead too, while Henry slipped another good dozen bolts into the crossbow’s magazine.
And Xander gripped his walking stick firmer after making sure that he could draw his bowie and Glock fast if necessary.
When they reached the summit they laid down in the high grass, looking ahead out of their cover.
About halfway down the other side they saw a group of eight humanoids with the heads of hyenas carrying several bundles to a large toad-like creature that stood at least 14 feet high.
Jus silently whistled through his teeth .
“A Hezrou, that is not good. Here is the plan. I take the tanar-ri, Xander and Henry the gnolls. Escalla you help out as needed.”
With that the ranger crept away, his large form blending with the grassland he vanished from Xander’s sight.
A few moments later the huge demon roared in pain. Behind it rose Jus from the ground. His white glowing sword trailing a spray of black blood. The demon was still turning around as flames shot out of Cinders’ jaws blackening its greenish skin.
//Burn! Burn! Burn the frog! \\\\ yelled Cinders in maniacally glee.
Meanwhile the gnolls had overcome their surprise and started towards the two combatants.
Henry lifted his crossbow and peppered the hyena-people with a stream of bolts. Many found their mark and four went down dead before Henry’s ammunition ran out. By then the last four had reached Xander and Henry swinging mean-looking flails.
One bore down on Xander and lashed out with his flail. Xander whipped his stick up and managed to deflect the blow, but he lost it as the force of the strike knocked it out of his hands. Frantically he grabbed at his belt and drew his bowie knife. With a wild slash he managed to cut the gnoll’s throat open. Coughing up blood the gnoll fell to the ground in front of Xander.
As Xander saw what damage his swipe had caused he started to retch. It was one thing to kill a vampire or demon but to kill a living, sentient creature so was too much for him.
He was so caught up in his retching that he didn’t notice the second one coming towards him with a murderous gleam in his eyes. Before the gnoll could attack the prone human a small staff became visible in the air behind him. The invisible wielder smashed the staff on the gnoll’s head and in an explosion of magical energy it vanished leaving behind a headless corpse.
Meanwhile Henry disposed of his enemy with a few slashes of his longsword, as he had learned from Jus.
The ranger was still fighting the demon. He already bled out of several shallow wounds but his demonic adversary wasn’t in any better condition, one arm hung down uselessly by and deep gashes crisscrossed the tanar-ri’s torso. With a battle cry Jus finally managed to pierce the Hezrou’s heart, killing it.
The gigantic frog-demon crashed to the ground and began to dissolve into black smoke that vanished through a small red-glowing rift in the air.
Sunnydale, underground bunker
Professor Walsh sat at her desk and opened a manila folder. Inside were a bunch of photographs as well as a multi paged report labeled threat assessment.
The first person assessed was Buffy.
Subject Elisabeth ‘Buffy’ Anne Summers:
As the so called ‘Slayer’ the subject is gifted with an abnormal strength, speed and constitution similar to the standard HST called vampire. Subject is well versed in martial arts as well as in ancient melee weapons and crossbows. Knowledge of modern weapons seems to be absent.
Threat level: High.
If cooperation has to be forced I suggest that the subject’s mother Joyce Summers be used as a means to ensure her cooperation. Should elimination be inevitable the best chances for success are present in an attack from ambush.
Subject Willow Rosenberg:
Subject has only very limited knowledge of martial arts or weapons but possesses extensive hacking skills. Her abilities to manipulate those energies called magic are incalculable in power and of unknown source.
Threat level: to be considered high due to magical abilities.
Best means of pressure are the parents and friends Buffy Summers and Alexander Harris. For elimination purposes I suggest ambush tactics.
Subject Alexander ‘Xander’ LaVelle Harris:
Said to have ‘soldier knowledge’ after possession by a spirit but displays none whatsoever. In combat more danger to himself and his friends than to opponents.
Threat level: low
Subject displays suspicion towards the Initiative. Due to that I have taken steps to remove him from the group. Should this prove inefficient I suggest quick termination to prevent him from turning the Slayer against us.
Subject Rupert Giles:
Subject shows mediocre skill in melee weapons and with the crossbow. Subject has extensive theoretical knowledge of HSTs. Due to knowledge and influence on Summers subject should either be removed or brought into the fold.
Threat level: Medium
Subject is extremely shy and possesses absolutely no combat skills.
Close friend to Rosenberg, otherwise no strong connection to the rest of the group
Threat level: low
After several minutes Xander had no bile left and after many dry heaves he finally composed himself again.
Jus came over to Xander and took him aside, “You never before had to kill someone in combat, did you?”
“No, only vampires and I helped with a few demons but never anything like that.”
“I see. But don’t be hard on yourself. It is good when it is hard to kill someone. When it gets easy you are no different from the evil we fight. From what I have seen you don’t have much training with weapons, is that right?”
“Well, I can use a stake but I didn’t get much training.”
“Good or better said not good. I’ll train you with melee weapons and we’ll find out which is the right weapon for you. But now we have to find out what these gnolls had planned and for whom they worked. No gnoll I have heard from is capable to summon a true tanar-ri.”
With that they started to examine the stuff the gnolls had with them. They all wore an amulet of a grinning skull with a violet spiral on the forehead. As weapons they carried flails and long daggers. Under their ragged tunics the hyena-people wore old, cracked leather armor. In total the brutes had twelve god pieces and a few coppers with them.
In the bundles the gnolls had carried they found a mace, several blocs of incense and several hearts.
“That is not good. Sacrifices and they all carry symbols very similar to the one of Iuz,” said the ranger. “It may be that we will run afoul of them again as long as we are in the area.”
End part 3