Disclaimer. Joss Whedon, Dan Brown et al own the characters. Except for the ones I made up. The plot is mine.
U.S. Embassy. London.
As Robert Langdon ended his explanation of the chase he and Sophie had led over the last two days he opened the carved box and took out the cryptexes. Carefully unlocking the mechanisms he re read the messages within. Andrea’s eyes widened as she heard the poem from her vision.
The Holy Grail ‘neath ancient Roslin waits.
The blade and chalice guarding o’er Her Gates.
“This says the Grail is buried beneath Rosslyn Chapel.” Commented Buffy.
“No, that's the irony of it.” Said Robert. “It’s not there.”
“Is this correct?” Asked Giles, looking at Marie.
“I’m afraid so, Monsieur.” She replied. “It has never been there, at least not in my stewardship.“
“Then why go to the extremes of placing clues around that lead nowhere. It’s nonsense.” Interjected Xander. “You expect clues to lead you to the prize. It’s a time honoured tradition.”
“My husband was not only very clever; he was also very devious. The only thing that I do know is that wherever the Grail is interred, it will be identified by these two symbols.” Replied Marie. She took a pencil and paper and drew two equilateral triangles, one inverted above the other. “These are the symbols of the blade and the chalice. The balance between the masculine and feminine.”
“Buffy peered at the drawing over the top of her specs. “You make it sound kinda sexy.” Upon her realisation her eyes widened. “Oh. ….. It is.” She reddened slightly at the thought.
“There is no need to be embarrassed Mademoiselle Summers, it’s perfectly natural, a celebration of the sacred feminine.” Offered Marie. “It is part of our ritual.”
“And that ritual led to me not speaking to Grandpere for ten years.” Murmured Sophie. Buffy’s sensitive hearing caught the comment and she gave Sophie a sympathetic look.
“Well, we do know that Rosslyn was spelled Roslin many years ago, and that translates to the original meaning, which was Rose Line. The ancient longitudinal line that runs through Rosslyn. Before Greenwich took the honour.” Explained Robert.
“So, what you’re saying is, it might be buried somewhere else along the line.” Said Buffy.
“Exactly, all we have to do is get maps to see where it might be.” He replied.
“We can calculate that from here.” Offered David, pulling his laptop from its case. “Give me a minute to set it up and I can plot the trajectory of the line.”
A few minutes later Robert Langdon was seated next to David, giving him all the information he had on the Rose Line. They followed the mapped line from Rosslyn in a slightly south easterly direction, passing through villages and towns along the way. Giles and Andrea were noting down places that may hold significance as the route was traced.
“Good Lord.” Exclaimed Giles. “This can’t be coincidence. The line passes either directly through or at least very close to the village of Clavering, Essex.”
“Significant, as in?” Queried Xander.
“Rayne Manor is just outside Clavering, and looking at this, the line runs exactly through it.” Replied Giles.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro was having, a mini summer, a veranico; temperatures were in the mid eighties and it hadn’t rained for several days. Most of the locals were out and about readily enjoying the respite from the rains that came regularly during the autumn and winter months. What was never mentioned in the tourist brochures and what ninety nine point nine per cent of the populace didn’t know was that Rio was situated upon a white nexus. The exact opposite to a Hellmouth.
The three storey colonial style mansion house stood at the end of an extensive gated drive with neatly laid out gardens at either side. The signpost at the end of the driveway was in both Portuguese and English, It read The WSC Foundation College for Gifted Ladies.
When Leonard Norton Junior, heir to Norcan Inc. an electronics giant, had bought the house for himself and his new bride Maria, a Rio Carnival beauty queen; he didn’t anticipate that the daughter born one year later, would coerce him into donating the house for the council's project school some twenty years later.
A slightly built man in full butler regale walked stiffly from the drawing room, a silver tray held on his spread palm, with the digital handset placed on a napkin in the centre. He exited to the patio area, blinking and squinting slightly at the bright morning sunlight. The sound of splashing from the pool area caught his attention.
Straightening the front of his jacket he walked quickly toward the sounds and gave a loud ‘ahem’, before rounding the wind deflector. The sounds of splashing stopped and a small squeal and a giggle before the “All Clear “ was announced. He approached the pool to see the grinning faces of Willow and Kennedy bobbing above the side.
“Good morning Miss Kennedy, Ms. Rosenberg, I have a telephone call for you from Ms. Turnbull in London.” He announced, in his light Aberdonian lilt.
“Morning Angus.” Said Willow. She swam away along the side towards the steps. “Thanks, give me a second and I’ll take it.”
He averted his eyes as a naked Willow Rosenberg pulled herself from far end of the pool and wrapped herself in a huge white robe. She trotted over and took the phone and the napkin from the platter. “Hey, hi Andrea, what’s new.” She began as she walked away.
His attention was brought back to the other occupant of the pool.
“Morning Angus.” Said Kennedy. “What’s for breakfast.”
McKenzie allowed himself a small smile to break his otherwise dour Scottish appearance.
“There are the usual selections of fruit and cereals, and the choice this morning is between steak and eggs or the full English breakfast.”
“Great I’m starved. Tell cook to do both, I know Willow won’t go for the full English but she might have the steak. If not I can eat both.” She grinned. “Stand back Mac, I’m coming out.”
Angus McKenzie executed a smart military style about turn and headed back to the house. He didn’t consider himself a prude by any means, his time in the army had shown him that there was more to worry about in life than seeing a naked body or two. It was partly because he wasn’t going to put his position in jeopardy by openly ogling his employers daughter or her girlfriend; and partly because he considered himself a gentleman. For these reasons he had suggested the installation of the wind breaks, he couldn’t watch the other male members of the staff one hundred per cent of the time, and he wasn’t about to start.
Kennedy watched him disappear behind the screen. She ducked under the water. A second later she shot vertically from the pool executing a tucked roll in mid air and landing gracefully on the poolside. "God I love this gig." She said to herself as she wrapped herself in her robe and followed her girlfriend into the Drawing Room.
Willow had a pad and pencil on the desk taking notes. “Yeah, I think you’re right, it seems fairly straight forward. ………No, I don’t think it could either? What does Althenea think.” She listened to the reply and made more notes. Willow then listened to the conversation between David Peterson and Andrea about the Bringers and the First. Andrea repeated David’s message.
‘Great, this is just what we need right now, another apocalypse. As if we don’t have enough to do already.’ She thought. Then out loud she said. “Andrea, I’m going to talk to Ethan myself to get the specifics and see if there’s any way we can gain access to his house. Give our love to everyone, and tell Buffy I’ll call later. Ok.. Bye.”
She disconnected as Kennedy padded up behind her and wrapped her arms around her waist.
“So, what’s the what?” she asked.
“Oh, nothing’ much, the usual, Ethan Rayne’s playing with fire, the council’s on alert, and ... Oh yeah, the First trying to scrunch us and find the Holy Grail“ She said absently.
“Hmmmm, sounds like fun, can we deal with this after breakfast or is it doable before?” Asked Kennedy dryly.
Willow rolled her eyes and twisted around to face her girlfriend. “You and your stomach. If I didn’t know better missy I’d swear you’d call time out in the middle of a battle so you could eat.” She grinned as her own stomach gurgled at the thought of food. “Ok, eat first, then we save the world.”
Angus McKenzie entered the dining room just as the two were finishing their breakfast.
“I trust everything was satisfactory ladies. May I enquire as to your plans for today?”
“Wonderful. Thank you Angus.” Answered Willow. “Well with the girls and their tutors on the field trip we didn’t have any until the phone call earlier, but now it looks as though we have some research to do and calls to make, so I guess we’ll be in the library; for a while at least.”
“Certainly Miss.” McKenzie acknowledged. “Miss Kennedy, you asked me to remind you to call your father this afternoon.”
“Oh yeah, thanks.” Kennedy smiled at the dapper Scot. “Can’t forget the old mans birthday can we.”
McKenzie gave a short nod. “Please give him my regards when you speak with him. If there‘s nothing more, may the maid clear the dishes?”
“Certainly, I think we’re done. Ok Will?”
Willow nodded, downing the last of her fruit juice.
McKenzie gave another short nod, turned smartly and left the room; Kennedy and Willow following shortly afterwards, going up the stairs to shower and dress.
Thirty minutes later found them back downstairs in a large room that occupied most of the ground floor at the southern end of the mansion. The high walls were filled from floor to ceiling on three sides with bookshelves.
Willow walked to the centre of the room, raised her hands and uttered ‘Obscura’, a soft glow emitted from her hands and travelled outwards to all corners of the room. She then moved away from the centre of the room.
Kennedy moved to the bookcase closest to her and tilted the centremost book on the third shelf. A rectangular section of the floor where Willow had been standing began
to rise up revealing a communications centre on one side and a weapons cache on the other.
Willow turned on several of the computers and the microwave transmitter. She typed several GPS codes into one of the screens and it came back with a map showing the teams locations. She then sent text messages to all the locations giving them the details and warning of the possibility of attack. She ended the message by stating that it was NOT a drill. Within two minutes acknowledgement codes from all the GPS sets had been returned, telling Willow that all the groups were safe and on course.
Kennedy was busy checking the weapons on the other side of the console. She began to voice her thoughts.
“Y’ know, after nearly two years here, you would think that Angus would have been a little more curious about all the comings and goings.” She said. “Especially that he was in the army before working for dad, and that he seems to know everything about everyone else that works and lives around here.”
“Maybe it has something to do with the Nexus. The Hellmouth used to kinda make people blind about demony things and such in Sunnydale. Why, you’re not thinking of telling him. Are you?” Queried Willow.
“I don’t know. See, I’ve known him for most of my life. He’s always been around, hell; he’s even covered for me with dad before now so that I didn’t get majorly grounded. I sometimes feel that I owe him an explanation.
“You could talk to Buffy, you know, get a bit of insight on how to deal with telling someone, coz when her mom found out there was major trauma and Buffy left home for a while.” Counselled Willow.
“How did your parents deal with you being a witch and a lesbian?” Asked Kennedy.
“I think, they’re still in the denial stage. They thought Oz was weird enough, being a musician, and then Joyce and mom tried to burn us at the stake, but that was a demonic influence, and then Tara…They thought she was just some sort of experimentation."
"Have you told them about us?"
"Oh yeah. Mom still thinks there's time for me to sort myself out and get on the lecture circuit like she did, and Dad, well he's dad. I think he thinks I'm still looking for a nice Jewish boy to settle down with...Not gonna happen." She grinned. "Okay, lets see what Ethan can tell me that he didn't tell Giles."
She was about to push the Speed dial to connect to the Initiative HQ when there was a scream from outside the room.
Kennedy grabbed a sword and an axe from the rack, and dashed towards the door. Willow muttered the counter spell and gestured towards the doors which flew open as Kennedy approached.
There was another scream. Kennedy ran down the hallway towards the sound and turned the corner at the dining room end to be confronted by two Bringers attacking a screaming maid and Angus McKenzie. Angus was protecting the maid and holding the two Bringers at bay with a dining chair and a long poker from the hearth. The chair was taking the brunt of the attack as the shield and Angus was getting in the occasional swipe with the poker as the bringers pushed them back towards the corner of the room. He noticed Kennedy run into the room from the corner of his eye and was just about to shout a warning for her to go and escape when she threw the axe she held in her left hand at the closest attacker.
The axe flew though the air an embedded itself in the head of the bringer she aimed for, the force of the blow knocking it into the path of the other as he was about to strike at Angus. They both fell to the floor, one dead, the other stunned. Kennedy though, was still in motion. As the stunned bringer started to rise from the tangle she swept upwards with the sword and cut the head from the invader. It bounced away across the room, Kennedy halted her momentum and poised herself ready for another attack. None came. She glanced over her shoulder to see a flustered Angus turning to grab the maid who had fainted at the carnage before her.
"Miss Kennedy." Angus began.
"Not now, Angus. Later. Where are the rest of the staff?" She ordered.
Angus collected himself. "Consuelo is upstairs and cook is in the kitchen, I took the liberty of giving the rest some time off as the students were away."
"Right we need to get them together, it's easier to defend." Said Kennedy. "Willow! Dining Room."
Willow came around the corner at that moment, looking puzzled. "Only two, that's odd I don't sense any more." She said. "Where are the other staff?"
"Kitchen and upstairs, only three here, luckily." Replied Kennedy. "How did these two get in Angus?"
"Through the French windows Miss." He paused. "Shouldn't we call the police..."
"And tell them what, exactly." Interjected Willow. "Oh, officer, these two eyeless guys came running in with knives and tried to kill us all, but we axed the one and cut the other's head off. No, wouldn't work. Sorry Angus."
Willow stepped away from where the butler was now cradling the unconscious maid on the floor and uttered a protection spell. Her hands glowed and a blue shimmer of light encompassed the two figures in the corner of the room. "Angus don't try to move from here, you'll be safe until we return, there's a barrier here now that they can't get through." She flicked the barrier with her finger to illustrate her point and it shimmered as she touched it. "Ok, we’ll be back with the others very soon."
She paused. "Up or down Kenn."
"Up" Came the reply.
"Be careful sweetie. Just because I don't sense any more of them, doesn't mean to say there aren't any."
Willow gave her lover a peck on the lips and they both left the room. Kennedy found the maid huddled in a linen closet muttering about Diablo’s, she'd seen them crossing the lawns from a window and had hidden. The brunette slayer calmed her down and helped her down to the dining room. Willow joined her moments later with the cook, who was extremely puzzled as to why she should be called into the dining room by the headmistress. When she saw the bodies she too muttered in Portuguese before fainting out.
"Crap. What do we do now? Let them sleep or wake 'em up." Said Kennedy.
Willow motioned her hands and the protective barrier fell away. "Make them comfortable and let them sleep it off, it will save the trauma. I'll put a barrier up around the grounds to stop any others getting in. You get a message to the teams and get them back asap, and tell them to watch their backs."
Willow stepped to the centre of the room, bowed her head and held her arms out, palms up, and chanted. " Enemies by it fall. Circling arms raise a wall."
The barrier manifested itself around Willow's hands and spread outwards from the house gradually to encompass the full extent of the grounds as well. As the barrier passed over the pool there was a muffled thud and a plume of water shot high into the air.
Kennedy shot a worried look at Willow. "Was that what I think it was?"
Willow nodded. "Bomb. Must've gotten pushed into the pool by the barrier. Now we know why there were only two of them. Angus must've disturbed them.
Kennedy turned to the butler. "You ok Angus?" She asked. Waving at the Scotsman's gaze. "You kinda have the thousand yard stare there."
He shook himself out of his daze and stared at Willow. "Your hair, it - it's turned white." He stuttered.
She pulled a few strands in front of her eyes. "Oh yeah, it does that sometimes. It'll be ok in a while." She said, nonchalantly.
Kennedy left the room to make the call to the teams
Willow helped Angus place cushions under the heads of the two comatose staff. Consuelo sat huddled in the corner of the room looking like a frightened rabbit, her eyes darting about at any sudden sound. She started shaking and muttering in Portuguese.
"Uh Oh, I think she's going into shock." Said Willow. "She needs to calm down." She approached the shivering maid slowly and with a neutral look on her face. As she crouched beside her she smiled and touched her face. "Sleep." She muttered.
The young girl let out a sigh and slumped forward.
"Will they be alright Ms. Rosenberg."
"I think so, the problem is that they've seen things that they weren't meant to. So have you, actually, but in your case it sorta solves a problem, or rather, a dilemma that Kennedy had, but she didn't know how to approach you. Let's go make some tea and we'll see if we can't do something about your questions."
Kennedy rejoined them from the comms room. "I've recalled the teams. I've also called London, they'll tell Buffy and Giles. Robin says he'll get the school checked for devices, and Riley say's hi and he's waiting for you to call about Rayne. Everything ok here?" She peered at the sleeping staff.
"Thanks sweetie, I'll call Riley in a little while. Consuelo was panicking so I gave her a sleeper. I may need to help them forget this, but I don't want to unless I have to, though, if I do you might wanna give her a name tag... Tea, need tea."
Kennedy gave Angus a weak smile. "Not exactly your average day huh, Angus."
He chuckled at her quip. "Aye, you could say that, Miss."
They moved into the kitchen, Angus insisted that he made the tea, to keep busy.
Kennedy found some cookies and demolished most of the packet before anyone else got a look in. They sat, drank tea and he listened intently as they gave him a brief history of the slayer, witches, demons and the Council.
"So. Any questions?" Asked Willow, as she finished her tale.
"No, Miss I think you have been very succinct. I had been considering some of the comings and goings for a while now. As you know, on my days off I sometimes meet with some of the other service staff in the area, and they all have much more noticeable security than we appear to have. I had discussed it with your father at Christmas Miss Kennedy and he assured me that there was no need for any bodyguards. This incident now explains why, although some extra protection might be prudent, might it not. If you wish, I could make some recommendations."
"Great, we'll consider anything you suggest, although I would like to keep it low key, we are supposed to be a school." Said Willow. "Now. I gotta go talk to Ethan Rayne."
End of Chapter Fifteen.