Party plans and fighting evil
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
After discarding those weapons that were too rusted and burying the hearts Escalla produced a black circular cloth out of her backpack and spread it on the ground.
As she did that Xander looked on with curiosity that turned to full fledged surprise as she vanished in the black circle
*All that is missing is a big ACME sign hanging from that.*
A few moments later Escalla popped up again, interrupting Xander’s musings.
“What’s keeping you? Do you think I should carry all this stuff alone?” asked the diminutive woman.
“Uh... sure, coming,” replied Xander and grabbed the five useable flails.
With some trepidation Xander approached the hole and let the flails fall in it. Then he went back for the three daggers the incense and mace which he threw in the hole too.
“Hey look out!” came Escalla’s annoyed voice out of the hole after being nearly hit by this last delivery. “Come on in I need your help with placing all this in its place.”
Grumbling Xander slowly climbed down in the portable hole. Once inside he could hardly breathe, he was that surprised. Inside the hole stood several shelves full with books and scrolls, some chests filled with all kinds of gear from shovels to ropes everything was there. Some strong-chests, probably filled with money or jewels were there as well as a two racks in which many weapons, mostly swords and quivers full of arrows, hung. Ten minutes later all was stored in its place and the two came back out of the hole.
Meanwhile Henry had been to the cart and brought it together with Enid and Polk to the scene of the fight. No sign of the Justicar could be seen though.
“Henry, do you know where Jus is?” asked Xander
“Not sure. He said something of looking where the Gnolls came from and that we should be going on in case there were more in the area.”
And so they wandered on. The joyous atmosphere that had been around them was severely dampened and all looked around cautiously, watching for ambushes and other unpleasant surprises.
With time their alertness got less and less and Xander’s thoughts wandered back to the fight.
*Glad that Willow wasn’t there. With her fear of frogs she either would still be running or she would have started the largest bush fire ever. Both I’d rather miss than be caught in. Hmm, I wonder what the girls are doing now...*
Willow and Buffy finally had finished their last lecture of the day. Together they walked to the Espresso Pump to relax from their psychology lecture that had lasted for the last two hours and was, at least for Buffy, very exhausting.
“And another week is over. What is wrong with this place? Lately college is more exhausting than patrols,” Buffy asked her friend.
“You mean beside the obvious Hellmouth answer? No idea. Hey, why don’t you take a night off?” answered Willow.
“We could go bronzing tomorrow or visit Xander and watch the Evil Dead marathon.”
“Great idea. Its been too long since we got a dose of Ash,” replied Buffy, only to add dejectedly after few moments, “But Riley has to patrol over the weekend. Some vampire they want to catch has managed to escape them again and again.”
“Oh come on, Buffy. Riley has all those soldiers with him. He should be able to hold his own for one evening.”
“You are right. Unlike Xander he can fight a vamp on his own.”
Meanwhile they had reached the Espresso Pump and went inside to get their coffees and a sandwich for Buffy.
The next hour they spent in the Pump drinking several coffees and talking about nearly everything besides slaying or college. Then Buffy got up.
“I’ll swing by at Giles’ now. You want to come along?”
“No, not today. I’ll meet Tara in half an hour,” answered Willow with a dreamy tone in her voice.
As Buffy noticed Willow’s tone a short stab of jealousy flashed through her only to vanish again immediately.
*What was that? Why am I jealous of Willow loving a girl? It’s not as if I had that kind of feelings for her. I have Riley.*
Duchy of Ulek, Oerth
Jus scouted ahead while Escalla lounged lazily on Cinder’s fur, who was strapped to Jus’ backpack, and scratched the happily purring hellhound between the ears.
While his gaze scanned the countryside for potential dangers the ranger talked with Escalla in a low voice.
“What do you think of our new friend?”
“He’s a nice guy. A bit strange but hoopy.”
“Indeed,” the Justicar replied with a slight grin. “But that isn’t what I meant. He talks about killing vampires and demons as if it were an everyday occurrence, but he has serious problems with a gnoll who isn’t as powerful by far.”
Before they could continue their discussion the stench of burning flesh invaded their noses and immediately both fell silent. The ranger let himself fall to the ground into the hip high grass and Escalla vanished from sight within moments as she slipped into invisibility.
“Cinders what do you smell?” asked the man in a harsh whisper.
//Fire, burning humans, few gnolls, an owlbear was there recently too. \\\\
“The gnolls are they still there?”
//Yes, maybe three, maybe four. Burn them? Want to see them dance on fire. \\\\
“No, not unless necessary. We don’t want to start a bush fire with us in the middle of it.”
The only answer on this chastisement was an unhappy grumbling in Jus’ mind.
“Oh come on. Don’t be that way, I’ll give you a nice lump of coal later,” coaxed the ranger and quickly the mental purring returned.
Keeping low to the ground Jus quickly crept towards the source of the stench. After about a hundred meters he reached a small copse of ash trees, somewhere in between them the fire had to be. At the edge of the trees he topped and strained to listen for telltale noises and peered around searching the gnolls.
And there was the first. Obviously the gnoll was on guard duty but anything but watchful. Silently the ranger crept behind him and with a quick swipe of his dagger slit the guard’s throat. Before the guard could crash to the ground he was caught by the strong man and slowly deposited on the ground.
Avoiding any further sound Jus crept closer to the gnoll encampment. And soon it was fully in his sight. It consisted of several tents two fireplaces and in one corner seven poles were rammed into the ground. Those poles were now partly consumed by a fire that had been lit at their bases. At three of the poles flames still licked at the barely recognizable carcasses of humans. Two gnolls stood in front of the flames and uttered yipping laughs while they urinated onto the dead.
A cold fury started to blaze through the Justicar at this sight. His face became impassive only his eyes betraying the extent of his anger.
“Uh oh,” muttered Escalla as she saw the gleam in the ranger’s eyes. “Here we go again. I hope there really aren’t more of them around.”
Quickly Jus crept up behind them and rose up from the ground like an avenging ghost. His sword left its sheath as he bellowed, “YOU HAVE BEEN JUDGED FOR YOUR EVILS!”
Startled the two gnolls turned around but all they got to see was a large, dark shape looming over them. Then a flash as the radiant white blade descended onto them, plunging them into eternal darkness.
As he cleaned his weapon an annoyed voice wafted up from the enchanted sword.
//You, sir, are no gentleman. You should have challenged them and granted them a chance to defend themselves in fair combat. \\\\
“I told you several times, and will do so again Benelux, that when the enemy has a chance to hit back you have done something wrong.”
Escalla’s voice came from a spot of empty air beside the Justicar as she added, “You have to admit that he has style Pointy.”
Benelux’ voice was the epitome of indignation. //I would appreciate it to be called by my name. Benelux. \\\\
“All right. Luxy.”
After a bit of unintelligible grumbling the sword fell once again silent.
As Xander and the others approached the little speck of forest a dark shape left the trees. Xander reached for his gun and at the same time Henry did the same with his crossbow. Before they could aim on the person Enid identified him as the Justicar.
Suddenly he began waving his arms and shouted, “Look out!”
At the same time he started running towards them and drew Benelux. Startled they turned around and saw two hulking shapes coming towards them. They looked like nothing Xander had seen before. They looked like 8 feet tall, upright walking bears whose heads had been replaced with those of giant owls. Their shaggy coat was a mix of dark feathers and brown-black fur.
Between themselves they dragged the ripped open carcass of something that to Xander seemed to be similar to a bison. About the same time as Xander saw the brutes they let the carcass fall and stormed forward, howling with screeching voices. As they drew nearer Xander could see their wicked, long claws, still dripping with the blood of their last kill. One of the beasts headed directly for Xander the other seemed to have decided that it wanted to attack the sphinx.
After Xander finally overcame the mixture of fascination and surprise that had overcome him as the beasts had started to storm forward, much more quickly than he had thought possible for them, he brought his pistol up and aimed at the massive chest of his attacker. In his haste the first shot went wide and hit the carcass the creatures had carried.
Startled by the sudden bang of the gunshot the owlbear’s swipe missed Xander only by the tiniest margin, ripping only a piece of sleeve off.
Before it could try to slash or bite him again Xander shot again, this time a double tap. On the short distance between them Xander could only hit. And hit he did, squarely in the middle of the beast’s chest. And obviously Xander hit something vital as it staggered back a few steps only to crash to the ground where it feebly waved around with its arms.
As Xander turned around he saw that Enid had in the meantime defeated her enemy. But he also saw how bad it could have ended for him, deep, long gashes ran along her flanks bleeding profusely.
“Xander! Duck!” yelled a voice.
Xander, having painfully learned the importance to heed such warnings, immediately dropped to the ground. Barely an heartbeat later, a bolt of lightning thundered through the air where his head had been. The momentarily deafened Xander didn’t hear but felt a large mass fall to the ground behind him. As he turned around he saw the smoking remnants of the owlbear he had believed dead or at least near dead. Somehow it had managed to come back to its feet and nearly reached Xander’s unprotected back.
As the situation finally penetrated his mind and Xander realized how close he had just come to death, he swallowed deeply in an attempt to dislodge the growing lump in his throat.
With a slight hitch in his voice Xander asked, “What were these?”
When he didn’t get an answer Xander turned away from the body and looked over to the others, Henry and Escalla were rummaging through the cart, obviously looking for much needed wound dressings. The Justicar was holding glowing hands over Enid’s wounds. As the light faded from his hands so did the wounds on the sphinx’ side until they were no longer bleeding and much reduced in size.
What remained f the wounds Henry quickly covered with bandages.
With a weary sigh the Justicar rose from his kneeling position and stretched himself. The healing magic he had just wrought claiming its due from him. In a tired voice he finally answered Xander’s question.
“That were owlbears. And it is a bad sign that they were working together with the gnolls. Normally owlbears attack everything larger than a rabbit when they see it. Such cooperation with other races is unheard of and can only be reached with powerful enchantments. Enchantments non of the gnolls can have wrought.”
As all recognized the implications of the Justicar’s observations a deep silence fell over the group.
After a few minutes Xander broke the silence, “And that is bad, right?”
“Very. And we can assume that whoever is responsible was also allied with at least one demon, maybe more.”
“So we take the hellmouthy approach? Research, search, slay?”
“Something like that. First we will continue on to Hommlet. It is the only town within ten days distance. If there is something big going on chances are good that we can learn more about it there.
As the regions seems to have become more dangerous than before I’ve decided that we start tonight with you weapon training.”
“Speaking of weapons. What did you use against that owlbear over there? Is it a magical item?” interjected a curious Escalla.
After nodding his consent to the ranger’s decision Xander answered the faerie.
“No it isn’t magical. It’s an ordinary gun.”
“How does it work? Can you show me?”
“I can explain it to you, but I’d rather not show you. I don’t have too many bullets left and I seriously doubt that I can get more here,” and with that he started to explain the workings of the pistol, drawing on the soldier spirit’s memories where his own knowledge of guns ran short.
Several hours later the Justicar had saw a small glen a bit off the path they were following. Just the place to stay overnight. Fresh water, not easy to look into and in an emergency better to defend than a campsite on the open plain.
End Part 4
Additonal author's note:
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