Place An Angel At My Feet
***Well, I got time to work on something, though you're all probably going to hate me for starting yet another story. But I can't help it! The muses are banging against the bars of Final-Papers-Hell and they demand some creative license for the time being.***
Title: Place An Angel At My Feet
Disclaimer: Do not own anyone
Pairings: Connor/?, Dawn/?, Willow/?, Xander/? (I'm thinking Willow/Xander, but there will be no Dawn/Connor)
Spoilers: All over the place, up to Chosen for BTVS, before the Connor/Cordelia thing on AtS, and RotK for LOTR.
Summary: They were needed . . . so they were taken.
Notes: Oh so very AU so you're going to need to pay attention. While I’m using Connor, Dawn, Willow, and Xander as the main characters of this story, don’t expect them to be as you last saw them. I’m playing with the timeline quite a bit, so expect some strange situations.
It was cold where they threw me.
I hit the ground hard, pain shooting up my back for a moment before I was able to recover. Quickly I found my way back on my feet, fists clenched and breaths coming out in ragged gasps as I tried to control the anger that welled up in my throat. My eyes scanned the empty landscape before me, perplexed to find myself seemingly alone on a mountain covered with snow.
But I was not alone. I could feel it. There was someone, or something, watching me. My neck tingled and I turned around, searching the icy terrain for some sign of life, some sign of my audience. Time seemed to crawl by and the cold began to take effect, starting with a numb feeling in my feet.
"Who's there?" I shouted into the distance. "Where am I? Why have you brought me here?"
And there was no question that I had been brought here. I certainly did not ask for this impromptu vacation. In fact, not too long ago I had been living somewhat sullenly in the warm climate of Southern California. And then it happened. The yank, the sudden, inexplicable pull that brought me from my bed to this place.
"Answer me!" I shrieked as my desperation and rage rushed together and eliminated what remained of my patience. "Answer me or so help me-"
Pain, quick and terrible, exploded in my temples. I gave a choked gasp and fell face-first into the snow with my fists pressed hard against the sides of my head. I lay there in the snow, twitching as the pain overcame my senses. I cried in alarm, face pressed into the snow. My hot breath caused some of the ice to melt and come sliding into my open mouth. I choked on the cold water and tried to spit it out. I rolled over onto my back and opened my eyes as I continued to writhe in pain. My eyes looked up at the clear night sky above me and I prayed for the blinding pain to stop.
And as fast as it happened, it was over. I gave a relieved sob, slowly moving to wipe the tears and snow off of my face. I struggled into a sitting position, pressing my back up against the mountain side and cast a scathing glare around me.
“What do you want from me?” I asked hoarsely. “Who are you?”
It seemed as if no one would answer me, but then the air in front of me changed. A warm breeze blasted my way and heated my frozen face. The air seemed to shift, to warp itself slowly until I could see a light forming in the distance. This light came closer and closer, the air still distorted as one warm breeze after another thawed out the frozen parts of my body.
The light stopped, just inches from my nose, before it began to grow. The size expanded and its radiance increased until I could no longer bare to keep my eyes on it. I raised a hand to protect my eyes from the sudden brightness as I pushed myself up into a standing position once more, determined to meet what was coming head on.
I expected something to emerge from that light, a demon perhaps, but I was surprised to find that no such thing was coming. Instead the light just continued to grow in size until it matched my own height. Sounds suddenly erupted from the light, and it took me a minute to understand that those sounds were in fact words, though I had never heard that language before in my life.
“What is it?” I asked of it, my head turned to the side because the light still too bright for me to look upon it directly. “What is this?”
The light and the sounds stopped abruptly. I blinked away the spots in my vision, dropping my hand from my eyes and saw for the first time the creature that had brought me here.
It had a human shape, but it was not human at all. The skin was the colour of fire, reds and oranges all mixed together. The eyes were large, larger than any normal human’s, and they were blue. Long lashes framed those incredibly large eyes and very thin eyebrows arched over them. The nose was small and looked a bit like a cat’s nose but not entirely. The mouth seemed to be the only normal-sized feature on the face, though because of the abnormality of the others it looked very much out of place. Long black hair flowed down this creature’s back, curling only at the ends. It’s body was long and lean, a hint of muscles on its arms and chest. It wore no shirt, just a loincloth around its middle which seemed to be made of leather. It was by far the strangest thing I had ever seen, and I had seen some pretty strange things in my life.
“You have no word for me in your tongue, so do not bother to ask what I am,” it spoke suddenly, its voice surprisingly soft and melodic. “My name is also something that you should not concern yourself with. As for where you are, this mountain be called Caradhras, the mightiest among the Misty Mountains. And this land, it be called Middle Earth. As for your question as to why you are here, it is simply that I brought you here.”
"Why?" I asked, my voice shaking with barely contained anger.
"Why what?" it asked in return, blue eyes curious. It tilted its head and looked me closely. "You must be clearer, Son of Death."
I growled just then, clenching my hands into tight fists. “What did you just call me?”
“Son of Death, is that not who you are?” it asked coolly, seemingly not concerned with my anger. “The child born to those who are not living . . . the one they call the Destroyer . . . are you not he?”
I suppose it meant Angelus and Darla when it spoke of the unliving, and so I didn’t bother to answer. We both knew who I was, though only one of us knew why I was here. I narrowed my eyes, nostrils flaring as I readied myself for battle. It seemed to know what I was thinking. A smile stretched across its face and it titled its head to the side.
“Is that what you really want to do, Son of Death?” it asked me.
“Stop calling me that!” I roared. I reached my tolerance level and decided that if this creature would not willingly divulge the information I wanted, I would simply force it out of it. I leapt with all the strength and speed I possessed, eyes locked on the strange thing before me as I raised my fists to hit it in the gut.
But I found only air. I faltered, unable to recover before I was sent face-first into the snow once more. I hit the ground hard, my vision blurred for a second before I was able to regain my focus. I scrambled to my feet and spun around, enraged to find the creature standing behind me with a bemused look on its face.
“Are you finished yet, Son of Death?” it asked again.
“What the hell are you?” I demanded. “And an answer this time! No crap about how I wouldn’t understand it. Simplify and explain!”
“It’s rather cold up here,” it said in that same soft voice. It gave me no indication that it even heard my words. Instead it walked a bit from me, nearing the edge of path and peering downwards. “If you keep jumping like that, you might find yourself in a messy way at the bottom. And that would be such a waste, for both you and me.”
I snarled in frustration and it only smiled some more. “Very well then, if you insist on being that way, you may call me Jalana. As for what I am, that I cannot explain to you. As I have said before, there are not words in your tongue that could make the attempt. If you must think of me as something, then you may think of me as akin to one of those ‘Powers’ the Angelic Faced One has told you about. The title falls short, but it will do.”
“Why am I here?” I asked again.
“I brought you,” it reminded him. “A situation has presented itself and I needed a champion. I chose you, and brought you here.”
“A champion?” I scoffed, images of my father and his friends flashing before my eyes. “Last I heard, Powers only guided their champions. They do not abduct them.”
“But you aren’t really gone from there,” it replied. “You are both here and there.”
“I merely took a bit of you,” it continued. “I took the Connor that I needed, one not yet affected by the things to come. You are here, untainted by the darkness that will infect the Connor left behind in that world.”
“What do you mean ‘untainted’? There’s nothing wrong with me-”
“Now, there is not anything wrong with you,” it said. “And that is why I chose to bring you when I did. You are the Connor that I need.”
“Need for what?” I shouted, confused by the things this creature was revealing at random. I wiped some more snow from my face, unhappy to find my teeth clattering from the cold. I was shivering and I felt numb all over. I had been on this mountain for far too long. The creature clucked its tongue at me in disapproval, extending its hand in my direction. I jerked back away from it. I eyed it suspiciously, my anger rising once more when it merely laughed at me.
“You will die if you do not allow me to help, Son of Death,” it said in amusement. “You will not manage to leave this mountain alive without my aid.”
“Then why did you drop me here?” I snapped at it. “If I’m supposed to be your champion for whatever reason, why are you trying to kill me by dumping me here?”
“You are here because it is the nearest I can bring you to your destination without being detected,” it replied easily. “The mountain may be cold, but it is not so cruel today as it has been in the past. A day’s journey westward will bring you down from this mountain. A few more days’ journey will bring you to the woods of Lorien. But you must hurry. The Lady of the Woods is preparing to leave these shores, and only she will be able to convince the others of your intent-”
“I don’t have any intent,” I interrupted. “I don’t know why I’m here. All I know is that I want you to take me back home before I freeze to death!”
“I am afraid that is not possible, Son of Death,” it said calmly. “You have been chosen, and the only way you will be able to leave this land is by being victorious in the struggle that is to come.”
“Am I your champion or your slave?” I asked coldly.
“You are the one who is blessed by the Aga,” it replied. “That blessing comes with responsibility I’m afraid.”
“I didn’t ask for any blessing!” I shouted at it. And once more it fell silent, giving me that amused little grin again. It wandered back towards the edge of the pathway, but peering out towards the horizon instead of to the ground. I watched its movements cautiously, frantically trying to rub some feeling back into my arms as I kept a safe distance between myself and that thing. It seemed content to ignore me for a minute, strange blue eyes looking to where the sun was starting its descent.
“You will not be alone in this,” it finally said. “Many more will come, only three of them are you meant to trust. A dangerous game is afoot in this land, Son of Death. And these people will pay a harsh price if the game is lost. Remember that as you make your way towards the golden woods of Lorien.”
“Who said I was going?” I snapped impatiently.
It turned back to me without the amusement from behind. I was surprised to see the fierce look in those blue eyes as the creature looked me up and down once more. “You will go, or you will die here. It is your choice in the end. I can only pray that you make the right choice. The game has not even started yet; it would be embarrassing if my champion dropped out before it began.”
It looked at me once more and then moved so quickly that it disappeared from my sight. I barely had a chance to blink before I felt its hand on my shoulder. I tried to shrug it off, but its grip was firm. Its touch was like fire, spreading through my body at break-neck speed. Soon, the numb feeling that had penetrated my limbs had vanished and I was left feeling oddly warm despite of my surroundings. It released my shoulder shortly and I spun away from it, hand covering my shoulder protectively as I glared at him.
“What did you do?” I demanded.
“I gave you a fighting chance,” it answered. “You might just make it off this mountain alive. But you must move quickly. The spell will not last more than a day, and you must start moving if you wish to meet with the Lady Galadriel.”
“I don’t wish to meet with her,” I retorted grumpily.
“Make haste,” it said, ignoring my outburst. “She makes for the Grey Havens very soon. You must meet with her. You simply must.”
I opened my mouth to protest some more, but apparently it had had enough of me. That same light from before appeared and blinded me. I shielded my eyes reflexively and when it was safe to uncover them, I was not that shocked to see Jalana gone. I turned around, glaring at all the snow around me. It was right; I would not survive if I stayed on this damn mountain. So where did that lead me? Apparently straight to this Lorien place, though how I was expected to find it was beyond me. Lorien was west of here, as the creature had pointed out to me before. But it failed to say how far west it was, or even how I was supposed to make it off this mountain.
“Damn demons,” I muttered unhappily to myself, though I had no proof that this Jalana was a demon. It sure looked like a demon, but it definitely did not feel like a demon. Nor did it smell like a demon. In fact, now that I thought about it, Jalana gave no real scent at all. All Jalana did give off was heat, sometimes searing hot, other times just lukewarm. Whatever Jalana was, demon did not fully describe it.
I growled and looked around once more, unsure about what to do until I felt a slight tug in my stomach. I stopped my movements and looked ahead, seeing the mountain’s path stretched out before me. The tug became more pronounced the longer I stood there and soon I moved in that direction just to alleviate the pressure. With each step down the path, the pulling sensation in my stomach decreased. With each moment I stood and did nothing, the pull intensified to the point of a mild ache. No doubt I was being pulled closer and closer to this Lorien place and soon I just gave in and followed.
I had no idea what I was about to walk into, or about what it was that I would face in the ‘dangerous game’ Jalana was so worried about. I just knew that if I didn’t get off that mountain, I would most likely die. As of right now, I had no choice but to listen to Jalana and search out this Galadriel person.
And for her sake, I hope she has some answers for me.