Off to see the Wizard...
Disclaimer on first page, yadda yadda...
Willow was grateful to be lying on her stomach, regardless of the many pebbles and assorted sticks pricking her body through the thin shirt she was wearing.
Hours of barefoot marching through woods at nighttime had left her tender feet in desperate need of some serious R&R and she had been more than relieved when around lunchtime, they finally came in view of the village they had been striving towards.
At least Willow assumed it to be lunchtime, she had been strangely comforted to note that indeed this world possessed not only just the one sun, but that it rose from the east as expected.
Even more reassuring was the fact that the village was indeed just that, a typical village one would not have been surprised to find in Europe during perhaps the 17th century, complete with assorted animals and outlying farms, though none lay in the direction Faith and herself had emerged from when they came stumbling out of the forest. The village was nestled snugly between the forest and the little stream which had so faithfully lead them into civilization and could be seen to join a river not too far in the distance.
Willow was a little relieved to find figures – very human, two eyed figures – weaving between the houses of the little townlet they were observing, figures apparently intent on typical village style tasks, whatever those might be. In all honesty, she felt somewhat incapable of caring about anything much other than the state of her very sore body, her feet were smarting, her stomach was growling and Faith was muttering under her breath.
“Hmm? I didn’t catch that last part,” Willow admitted shamefacedly when she realised that the Slayer had been addressing her.
“I said, something seems fishy about this place,” the younger girl repeated impatiently. Willow and Faith had found an excellent position to observe the on going’s in the village from, a slight incline one might in an optimistic moment be given to call a hill. Willow, in her infinite Wicca wisdom, had cast an amazingly useful magnifying spell, which allowed the two girls to study the village in all its aspects. Seriously, she thought to herself, this spell was way better than binoculars.
“Why?” came Willow’s startled question, not that Faith was surprised to hear it, “seems perfectly normal to me.”
“And when was the last time you were thrown into an alternative dimension complete with late medieval villages?” she asked, conveniently forgetting that she lacked the same credentials, “this place is way too orderly and…clean…and look, what is an army doing in a sleepy little village like this?”
Willow looked around in astonishment, “what army? I don’t see anyone.”
Faith rolled her eyes at the world in general, useful with the spells she might be, but the witch’s observational skills left quite a lot to be desired for, “Look, do you see that building near the square, opposite the fountain? Kinda beige, tiled roof, with a sign hanging outside? Well, two to one says that’s the village inn.”
Willow squinted in the direction Faith had indicated, unconsciously zooming in on the building in question, “Ok, I see it.”
“Cool. Now, do you see that fat, unnaturally jolly looking bald man under the sign talking to some dude in a white cloak?” Faith asked, lying flat on her back and looking up at the skies.
“Uhm…yeah, I see them. Why?” Willow asked, watching the couple Faith had pointed out to her. They seemed to be mid conversation, and though she couldn’t hear what was being said it seemed to her as if the fat man was deferring to the other, and not very subtly either.
“Right, I reckon Fatty is the innkeeper and the dude in the white cape is some kind of military. I’ve seen at least four others in that get-up around the village, and all of them in pairs…totally looks like a patrol of some kind and I bet he's their boss. What I wanna know is where they’re staying and what they’re up to. It would really suck if it turns out that we’re in the middle of a war zone or something.”
Willow continued watching, brows wrinkled with thought. Now that Faith had given her explanation, she was forced to agree that it would be quite important to find out exactly what was going on around here and whether the army people were staying at the inn because it would mean that Willow and Faith would probably have to steer clear of it. Willow had learnt form the Initiative debacle that the military was to be avoided at every juncture, especially when it was otherworldly military, which might be embroiled in a war over ocular type issues. Shuddering slightly at the thought of two armies engaged in a tug-of-war over a giant sized eyeball, Willow came back to the issue at hand.
The two men seemed to have finished their conversation and the fat guy was hastily backing away from his erstwhile companion, all but tugging his non existent forelocks, while the cloaked man nodded his satisfaction and strode off into the distance. with his back turned, Willow could see something that looked like a sheperds crook embroidered over a golden sun on his back. The fat man wiped sweat from his brow and returned to the building the Slayer had claimed must be an inn and Willow was forced to agree that Faith had probably been right on all three counts. But that didn’t mean she had to like it.
Turning to the other girl who was lying on her back, chewing on a strand of grass and absentmindedly watching clouds form, Willow became inexplicably angry. What right did Faith have to be so comfortable and at ease while she herself had sore feet and a growling tummy?
“Right, let’s go then,” she rasped, somewhat more harshly than she meant.
Faith simply looked at her steadily, “Go where?”
“Down to the village of course. We’re not going to learn anything else from up here, and I think we should both eat something,” then she added thoughtfully, “and I could really do with a pair of shoes.”
“How do reckon we should get them? I have a feeling, that ‘Hi, we’re from another dimension, could you possibly clothe and feed us’ isn’t gonna do the trick,” Faith replied with a dose of unnecessary sarcasm, “I don’t think they’ll take dollars and our clothes are blatantly not from around here, so call me crazy, but I really don’t fancy attracting too much military attention.”
“I know that,” Willow replied uncharitably, Faith could be such a pain sometimes, “what I was going to suggest is that I cast a glamour on us so we blend in clothes wise and then we go down there and see what’s what.”
To her surprise, Faith looked at her consideringly before answering, “Actually, that might just be the most sensible thing you’ve said all day. But I think I should go on my own and you should stay here as back-up, you know, in case.”
“In case of what?” growled Willow. She was quickly losing all the vestiges of good humour she had managed to hold on to over the last day, and the dark Slayer was seriously starting to get right upon her nose. Stay here indeed, and miss out on all the fun? Not hardly likely! She was tired and hungry and more than a little cranky, and she was going to be damned if she let Faith manoeuvre her into staying behind with nothing more than shrubbery for company.
“Just in case,” came the overly casual reply.
“Well, I don’t want to,” Willow answered.
“I still think you should,” was Faith’s response.
“I’m not going to,” answered Willow with a low growl.
“You should really consider it,” came the laid-back retort, causing the Witch to snap.
“This is my resolve face Faith!” shouted Willow, “this is the same face I wore when I was all evil and skanky…and with the veins! You shouldn’t mess with the veins, they nearly ended the world! Doesn’t that mean anything to you?”
“Wasn’t there, didn’t see it, couldn’t possibly have cared less,” smirked the Slayer.
“I am coming with you and that’s final!” screamed Willow and blushed; she really hated the other girl for making her lose her temper so easily.
“Jeez, suit yourself,” Faith answered, looking at Willow as if she were the one being unreasonable, “you don’t have to make such a big deal out of it.”
It was then that Willow made her decision: Faith was simply going to have to die.
Unfortunatelly, she might still need the irritating Slayer sometime in the future, so Willow decided to get her revenge in a slightly more subtle fashion. Smiling evilly, she concentrated and cast a complicated glamour over both Faith and herself. To her and Faith, they were still wearing the clothes, and in Faith’s case, shoes they had arrived in. To anybody else, however, they were wearing long dresses like she had seen at a Renaissance Faire Tara had taken her to. Willow’s gown was a soft green, with pale yellow embroidery at cuffs and throat. Out of pure contrariness, she clothed Faith in a pale pink and white dress that just looked plain wrong on the dark-haired girl.
Totally oblivious to the rose coloured monstrosity she was sporting, the Slayer started down the hill, with Willow snickering and not too far behind.
Faith was about ninety percent certain that they would meet one of the mysterious military patrols before entering the village and she was correct.
They had just joined a roughly paved road which seemed to lead towards the village centre, when two men in white stepped into their path. Able to inspect them more closely now that they were standing directly before her, Faith was interested to note that these cloak uniforms sported a gold sunburst on the left breast.
“You are unknown to us, citizen,” said one, clearly addressing them, “state your purpose.”
“Oh,” Willow answered in a nervous breathy whisper which Faith guessed was not entirely fake, “my friend and I are simple travellers, just on our way through town.”
“Do you walk in the light citizen?” one man asked them gruffly and Faith decided it sounded less like a question than an order.
“Uh, of course,” she replied, not certain whether it was the correct answer, adding “Go light!”
Apparently this was the right thing to say as the men looked satisfied and wished them a good day. Nodding graciously at them both, Faith and Willow carried on walking until they were out of hearing range.
“What do you think that was all about?” Willow asked.
“Dunno,” Faith replied, “maybe these guys have a vamp problem or something.”
“Could be,” Willow answered, though she did not think that the answer would be that simple, it was bright daylight after all “guess we’ll find out soon enough.”
Walking silently another few steps, Faith asked, "So how are we gonna get food and clothes? You gonna transmogrify some rocks into gold?"
"How do you know about transmogrification?" Willow asked, sounding bemused. She had indeed planned to do exactely that, once she got a good look at the kind of money she ought to copy.
The Slayer gave her a dirty look, "I have read Harry Potter you know. I'm not completely retarded."
"I never said you were," Willow answered, smiling placatingly. Just wait til we get home, she thought. Once Dawn and Andrew find out she likes Harry Potter, Faith's bad girl cred will be totally shot to hell.
Feeling a little perkier all of a sudden, Willow continued following Faith into the village, a light spring in her step.