Author: Hawk

Title: Another Run

Copyright: May 2001

Rating: PG-13 (Language, Fight Scenes, Graphic Descriptions of Eating Hearts and Brains (With A Light Dab of A1, Perhaps))

Spoilers:
Buffy: Season 2 until Phases.
Highlander: Season 5 until Season finale. Richie Ryan lives and Season 6 does not take place.

Keywords: Buffy/ Highlander/ X-Files/ Forgotten Realms/ Bureau 13.

Summary: An ancient, forgotten enemy of the Immortals makes his return to Earth after centuries of exile. With the leaders and several other members of the team out of town, it's up to the Scooby Gang, with help from Methos and Robert McAllister, to track down and eliminate this threat. But, mysterious figures follow the demon, hot on his trail and with their own intentions regarding him.

Legalese: All characters except those noted below with their respective rights, properties and copyrights are the property of their respective creators, authors, owners, producers and agencies. These characters are used without permission. No copyright infringement is intended or meant, and no money will be made from this story. This story may be copied in its entirety, and may be distributed as long as all copyright information remains.

The characters Borah (the elder), Borah (the younger), Arrin Parkin, Solace, Razor, Condor, Lark, Screw, Drake the Silerwor, Razor and Gath the sailor are mine. I can be contacted at hawk@wandererverse.com.
The characters Steve St. Wolf, Frank Iverson, Randi Jessup, Brian Jessup, and Robert McAllister are property of Steve Pantovich, as is the universe in which this story takes place. Steve can be contacted at steve711@concentric.net.
The character Robin Goodfellow is property of Mike Weyer.
The character Shaw Hunter is property of Tim Knight.

Author's Notes: This story takes place in January of 1999, just after the events in Faith's Story.

Here are the changes from normal shows that may play a part in this story:
Buffy:
1. Due to her drowning at the hands of the Master in Prophecy Girl, Buffy is Immortal.
2. Passion and Becoming never took place, so Jenny and Kendra are alive and well. Kendra has taken up residence at Buffy's and is attending UC Sunnydale.

Highander:
1. Richie Ryan is alive.

X-Files:
1. Mulder and Scully are Immortal, and married. Skinner's their Watcher. Anyone who doesn't like the relationship stories, you are warned.


Another Run

Prologue: Dear John With A Twist
(I Wonder: How Much Did A First Class Stamp Cost 3,000 Years Ago?)

The letter
Sometimes you just want them to know who you were

I write this so my life will not be forgotten. I am known by many names, the most common, at the moment, is 'The Angry One'. But my real name is Arrin Parkin. I am from the Hidden Valley located below the Eastern reaches of Spine of the World Mountains. I am the sole surviving member of the Sy'Tel'Quessir of that Valley. Finding my kin butchered by the Drow Elves when I returned from the Seven Seals Quest, I decided to repay their kindness by attacking any combatant Drow that I found. Soon my name and reputation became known throughout The Eastern Reaches of Spine. I became a General to Lofern the High King of Slorel the Village of High Elf's near my home. With his army I raked the area of Combatant Drow sending them to whatever God they worshipped without a second thought. War was my only ally, my only friend, and my only truth. I have fought Drow for twenty years now, though time has no meaning to me, for I am timeless. Not immortal, for I can bleed and break just like any other mortal, as it would appear as I lay in hiding inside a small crevice, barely keeping my eyes open as I write this with my waning strength. But I have found the Bow of the Rainbows. Although I cannot use it to save my own life, I possess the bow.

Looking over the clump of rocks that I am hiding behind, I can see a Drow Elvin community, busy with their day's work. Some have told me that the Drow have put a bounty on my head; they want 'The Angry One' dead and will pay a king's ransom, at least six magical items and Fifty Thousand gold pieces, for my head. Obviously the Drow have joined forces in this. It is a large bounty; sure to lure a handful of the most hardened Bounty hunters to come after me. Once I met Baurabus, High Priest of Corellon. He told me that Hate was a circle. Now, looking down on the community, like those Drow who must have looked down on my village so long ago, I understood what he was saying. If I get out of here alive, I think I would like to break that circle.

Son of Shobin Parkin of the Hidden Valley

*****

Part 1: Vision Quest
(When Your God Comes To You And Tells You To Go Somewhere, You Go)

Distant past
Toril

Slipping through a fissure in the side of the mountain, Arrin fell to the ground, his leather armor ruined from the battle with the pair of Hydras that protected the Bow of Rainbows. He escaped through a fissure in the cavern wall after having grabbed the Bow. He had left one Hydra dead by tricking the other to kill it with its deadly breath, while mortally wounding his unwitting accomplice with his lightning bolt spell.

The cavern where he now found himself was enormous. The overhead was at least another fifty feet up and the ground was close to one hundred feet down. Crawling between two rocks he looked down into the cave. His eyes widened as he saw a large Drow Elvin community. He raked a hand through his snarled hair. There had to be several thousand Elves down there!

The sight of them caused his blood to run cold. He was in trouble. Weak and with all of his more powerful spells gone, he was alone, armed only with the Bow of Rainbows, a weapon reputedly built for Shevarash, a demigod known to engage the Drow when he was alive. He knew that having it was reason enough for the Drow to kill him. He simply did not have the energy to escape; so he crawled between two rocks, pulled a cape of the Chameleon over him, and passed out from exhaustion.

*****

He stood in a beautiful open field. A very wide river flowed through the middle of it. On an island in the middle of the river, he saw a beautiful crafted ivory tower inside the walls of a shining city. Only Elves or Dwarves could craft a tower so fine, every line had been clearly crafted to maintain the harmony within the large and prosperous city that was built around it, on each side of the river. Arrin was certain, as he looked all about, that this was a dream; but he could not wake up. Somehow he had returned to his valley, the one he had left two years ago. Tears stung his eyes as a single word flowed from his lips. "Portsmouth," he whispered. He knew that this city had not been built, well, at least not to the stage of completion laid out before him. As he stared at the White Mountain Dwarf and Aquatic Elf laborers, working in concert and was lost in his wonder, he failed to notice the Elf who drifted beside him almost as if he walked on air.

He kneeled as he felt a greater presence flood the area. Arrin waited for something to happen. He did not wait long. The Elf introduced himself in a warm friendly voice, "I am Morning Ray." The Elf stepped in front of Arrin. "I am the Avatar for Corellon Larethian, I have come so He can talk to you, Arrin Parkin."

"What would He want with me?" he asked, his voice tinged in awe. He did not understand why the father of the entire Elvin race had wished to speak to him.

"You, of all my children, have caused me to shed the most tears of pain and tears of joy. Now that you have found the Bow of the Rainbow, your reputation will grow throughout the land. Whether it shall be for good or ill only you can decide. I see in your heart that you are tired of the fighting," The Elf said, his voice hollow while his eyes focused on a spot far away. "It is time for you to return to the fold. Ponder hard on this, Arrin Parkin, son of Shobin; to come back into the fold, you must trust me to protect you from danger. If you do not enter my domain, you shall be shunned and will have to live as an outcast to everyone."

"This could be your future if you so choose." Morning Star's arms waved through the air, stretching wide to indicate the work going on in the valley. Then he brought his arms back in front of him and the lush green ground turned into a war zone. Legions of Elves fought one another while hundreds more laid bleeding, broken, and dead in the hot sun. "Or this. Choose wisely, Arrin, son of Shobin, for the balance lies on your shoulders."

*****

Arrin closed his eyes to the horror. Then the sounds of battle were gone. He opened his eyes and found that he had returned to the cavern. He did not hurt as he had before his dream. Wounds that should have taken days to heal even with the three healing potions that he had drunk had healed in a single night. The fact that his body was ageless would not have helped the healing process; he opened his eyes and knew that his dream was an epiphany sent by Corellon to show him the Way.

Still concealed by his Chameleon cape, Arrin rolled over and looked down into the cave. He watched the activity down below. There wasn't much difference in the way the Drow lived their day from the way he had run and played as a child. For so long he had believed that they were monsters. But spying on them and their young now, he had come to realize that over the last two decades it was he who had become the monster.

Screams drew his eyes to a darker area of the cave where three children ran shouting at the top of their lungs. Arrin saw eight female fighters armed with swords running toward the darkness of the outer cave. Even his infravision could not pierce the claustrophobic darkness. He unconsciously picked up the bow and felt it throb in his hand, sending him an unspoken alarm.

He had no idea what the bow's powers were; but, somehow, he knew it was warning him of danger. Just as he knew the bow had healed him. He was unsure how he had known or how the bow had done it; but it was the only explanation that made sense.

As the group of fighters sprinted into the darkness, a second group of five females in robes moved closer. They stayed out of the darkness, waiting for something to happen. They didn't wait long. One of the fighters was thrown bodily out of the darkness, her back hitting the wall. She crumbled into unconsciousness. The bow throbbed even more violently when some...thing spewed from the impenetrable darkness. It was the head of an eighty-foot war worm, with the legs of a Drow sticking out of its mouth.

Arrin watched as the group of five magic users moved their hands in a complex pattern. Arrin did not recognize the movements. Then they stretched out their arms and pointed their fingers at the worm. As the first of the Magic users had completed her spell, the war worm crumbled into itself, leaving nothing but dust.

Arrin saw the men gather the children while the women searched the area for any more danger. They were just beginning to relax when the bow vibrated again, warning him seconds before a second war worm attacked, coming out of the wall just below him. The Drow fighters bravely pressed forward. Their magic users, exhausted after casting the disintegration spell, were now out of the fight. It was up to the fighters to defend their home. Arrin raked his hand through his sweat-drenched hair. He knew that the worm would kill more than half of the Drow before they could gather enough power to stop it.

He lifted his right hand, his figures spread out wide as he whispered a few words in Elvin. As he finished the spell the eighty-foot war worm shrank down to six-feet. The thirty-foot fall to the bottom of the cave would have done nothing to an eighty-foot creature, but to a six-foot boneless worm, the impact with the ground nearly killed it. Seeing the worm flatten as it struck the ground, the fighters rushed forward, hacking the worm to pieces before it could regenerate.

Arrin smiled down at the group of fighters, who hacked and slashed the worm, wondering what in the Nine Hells had happened to make the worm so small. As the Drow fighters gathered around the dead worm, Arrin slipped back into the fissure, leaving both the cavern and his hate behind.

*****

Part 2: Double Edged Sword
(Having A Reputation Is A Good Thing. . . Until You Piss Off One Too Many Of The Bad Guys)

Arrin strapped his bow to his back and strode back into the Hydra lair. He looked around at all the loot that lie about, and then cast a Teleport Other spell. He sent the treasure (mostly weapons and armor) to the cave he used to play in as a boy. The cave that he remembered had overlooked the hidden valley. He was three days from the valley where the Dwarfs and Elves labored together to create a glorious city. He stared toward the east, toward the valley. He believed it would take three days to get there. He knew he could make it in one if he teleported, but he needed time to reflect on what had happen. He needed to rethink his whole life.

*****

Three days later, he arrived at Portsmouth's gates. It was not long after dark. Arrin set up camp about 40 yards from the gates. He knew better than to approach the city by night, since it was not yet finished and his orders were not to let anyone through gates after sundown.

That edict wouldn't be countermanded for anyone, including the city's ruler because the guards had no reason to know his true identity. Only six people knew his true identity. They were Hammersfell, the king of the White Mountain Dwarves, who was in charge of building the city; Sharksbane, the King of the Sea Elves, who controlled the valley's shipping interests, and the other members of the Five; Condor the Magician, Razor the Fighter, Gath the Thief, and Helda the Illusionist. The pact had been written in the blood of those six and Arrin himself; it was absolute and could not be broken by any member. It laid out the terms of the city, who controlled it, and who received recompense. Hammersfell, Sharksbane, and Arrin met twice a month but never in the same place, because Arrin did not trust anyone.

Laying out a tarp, he built a small fire. Then he placed wards that would warn him if anyone approached during the night. He then sat cross-legged with his staff across his knees, closing down his body's senses to rest.

The moon had just started its descent when an alarm brought Arrin out of his trance. His keen ears detected the crack of a twig downwind of him. He shifted his eyes without moving his head and waited for whomever it was to come closer and present themselves. The visitors were cautious but he knew they were humanoid; no animal would step on a dead stick, nor would one approach a fire, even though said fire was rapidly becoming a mere ember. Although he sat still, he was ready to spring into action. He held a shield spell ready to cast on his lips. When one is the constant prey of bounty hunters, a man had to be prepared at all times.

He heard three distinct footsteps now. The three men, unaware that they had been detected, started to move toward him again. When they came within ten feet of the camp, they stopped. Arrin guessed that they had stopped to study his camp. They obviously determined he was safe to approach because one of the trio announced their presence. "Ho, traveler! May we come into your camp?"

"Come on in," Arrin replied. "I have drink and food on the fire."

As they entered the camp, the three men wisely separated, eying Arrin as he sat near the embers. As they sat down, a second man asked, "Why did you stop out here? The city is almost on top of you. "

"I was told that this city closes its gates at sunset. " Arrin said. "I will wait here until the morning to be on the safe side."

"Sounds like a smart thing to do. " The apparent leader said. However, something wasn't right. From the way he stood, Arrin did not believe that he was the leader of the group. He'd bet his last coin that the one who had not talked yet was the leader. The way he watched everything and seemed to weigh it all made Arrin sure of his assessment. The big man went on by saying, "I don't like to enter any settlement after dark; you never know what you might find. "

"Who are you?" The second man demanded, cockiness in his voice. "I am looking for someone. "

Arrin carefully kept his expression impassive and neutral. "Is that a fact? Well, you will not find anyone here. " Arrin said, certain that these men were bounty hunters.

"Who are you?" the man demanded again, this time with more force in his voice. "You don't want to anger me. "

"I am Pac," Arrin said, hoping to avoid battle. "I am only a traveler who seeks more wisdom than I possess right now. "

"If you cross me, the only thing you shall find is the tip of my sword! " The man growled, drawing his weapon and pointing it at him. "So, give me a straight answer. "

"Put your sword away, stripling," Arrin murmured as he rose to his feet, his staff held before him. "I grow weary of your boasts. "

"There are three of us. " The first man said, also drawing his sword. "But there is little need for any hostility. Unless," he drawled, "you are The Angry One. "

"I'm afraid I must disappoint you." Arrin said, while his mind developed a lie to close that chapter of his life. "I believe a big fellow carried his head as proof back to the Drow."

"Who was the man?" It was the man who had yet to speak who had asked the question. He glanced at his two companions, then asked, "What did he look like?"

"A large, hairless man," Arrin said, describing the last bounty hunter that he had run across. "He had a scar running from his left ear to his mouth where a sword or something had cut deep into his flesh. Stood close to seven feet tall, dressed in leather studded armor."

"I know of whom you speak. " The man growled. "His name is Wirily. He was killed by the Angry one about a full moon ago. And since you were the last person to see him alive that leads me to believe that you are The Angry One!"

Arrin sighed, sad that his deception had evaporated like the night mist. "I am not someone you want to engage in battle," Arrin warned. Then he cast a series of magic missiles into the largest of the three bounty hunters, driving him back onto the still hot embers. As the large man tumbled into the campfire his clothes caught fire. Before the others could recover their wits, The Angry One turned on the second man and jabbed with his staff. He struck the man's jaw with his staff's end and broke it. As the injured man fell to the ground, Arrin directed a thought at his staff and it transformed into the Bow. He drew back its visible energy string and energy bolt materialized in firing position. Pointing the bolt at the man who had challenged him, Arrin barked. "Whether I be The Angry One or the great Razor, it matters not! You will leave me or you will die."

Surprisingly, a smile crept onto the man's face. Sneering, he said, "One of us will die this day Archer, but I have nothing to fear because a long life has been promised me. "

There was nothing else to be said. Arrin let the energy bolt fly. It struck the man full in the chest, driving him back into the tree. As his body slid, Arrin mumbled, "Stupid bastard. "

Arrin turned back to the fire. He decided to pick up camp and move closer to the gate. It would not be long before the sun came up once more.

"Is that all you've got?"

It was the dead man's voice. He turned around and saw the man stand up. "If that is all you have, you are in trouble. "

"So you have eaten from the tree..." Arrin said, hoping to distract him while he tried to think of a way to truly kill the man.

"Since you're going to die anyway," the man said, drawing his sword, "I'll tell you a little secret. I am what is known as a Silerwor to the people of this world. I am immortal."

"So...you're telling me you cannot die?" Arrin asked, a sinister smile coming to his face. "Well then, this should not hurt too much."

With those words, Arrin conjured a stonewall ten feet above the man's head. Then gravity did its work. The wall crashed down on the Silerwor, driving him into the ground.

Although Arrin didn't believe anything could have lived though that, he wasn't stupid enough to wait in case the Silerwor had beat the odds. Arrin slit the throats of the two other injured men, gathered his gear and fled. He headed north along the wall of the city, to the river that flowed though the center of it. He stopped long enough to take a quick bath, then he changed clothes. Afterwards, he attended to his morning ritual, then he entered the city through the harbor gate.

As he walked along the docks, he noticed the construction of a large warship in one of the dry docks. It was a three-mast ship with seven ballista, three on either side and one in the front. On the bow of the ship, just above the anchor, was a painted emblem of a pair of war claws crossed with flames surrounding them.

"The cross claw," A young aquatic elf said, intruding upon Arrin's thoughts. "One of four that we have been consigned to build for Gath the sailor."

Arrin smiled at the young elf. "Really? Boy," he drawled, "Do you know where I might find that old thief?"

"I believe he is at the Black Rose Tavern right now, sir."

After giving the boy a silver coin, he walked away from the elf and headed toward the Black Rose, near the main docks. The tavern was long known as one of the places the Five had gathered whenever they may have been in town. Since a retired adventurer that had worked with the Five on numerous occasions ran the place, the tavern accommodated their needs nicely.

Arrin shoved past the swinging doors and allowed his eyes to acclimate to the dim light before he fully entered and took a look around. He saw Gath sitting in a corner with a buccaneer and made his way over to them. Gath sent the buccaneer off with a nod of his head and Arrin sat down in the recently vacated chair.

"Well met, Gath." Arrin greeted as he looked at the thief across the table. "It has been a while since we have broken bread and shared a bottle of wine."

"Welcome, Arrin." Gath's face showed his surprise and pleasure at seeing an old friend. "Are you here to restock or is something else afoot?"

"It is over," Arrin said, knowing what Gath had meant. "I have had my fill of it."

"So what now?" Gath poured the wine and shoved some homemade bread and cheese Arrin's way. "Have you made any plans?"

"Rest, then obtain information about what has been happening since I have been gone." Then he pursed his lips in thought for a moment before he said, "There is also something or someone called a Silerwor. Do you know anything about that type of being? "

"A little, but first," Gath said with a smile, "have you seen my ship? "

"Yes." Arrin took a swig of the Elvin wine and kept his voice low. "Suppose you tell me why you're building a war galley in my harbor?"

Gath simply sighed. "Pirates down the river have been taking a toll for the past six months. They have demanded more and more from each ship that passes through. Last week a merchant carrying spices was taken; the entire ship was lost."

"And you're going to do what exactly?"

"I am going to go have some fun with the pirates." Gath said innocently, his eyes belying the false innocence of his statement. "Nothing for you to fret about. "

"Of course, my friend," Arrin drawled. "Exactly what will this 'venture' cost the city?"

"See, I was going to charge material and pay for the construction of the vessels," Gath said. He must have seen the frown on Arrin's face because he added, "But instead I have decided to pay for both and take my compensation from selling the captured supplies that I recover. Then, once the pirates are all taken care of, I will continue to patrol the waters for you for a reasonable fee."

"You will have to talk to the elders about that. " Arrin said while chuckling to himself. It was good to see that Gath had not changed too much. "Now what do you know about the being known as a Silerwor?"

"Stories is all," Gath said. "Seems that some of their body parts can be used in spells. Though they are supposed to be all gone, there is one thing I do know. Supposedly there is only one way to kill them. You have to cut off their heads. You know what that means."

"Oh, no," Arrin muttered.

Gath took two mugs from a passing bar maid and set one down in front of Arrin. Then he said, "You may want to think about hiring a swordsman. If the Drow really did put a bounty on your head and one of these things are after you, you are going to need help."

"I will work it out. " Arrin said, then took another swig of the drink in his mug. "Just make certain the sea ways are clear."

"They will be." Gath took a long drink that emptied his mug. He wiped his mouth with the back of his sleeve and peered into Arrin's eyes. "Why don't you just go and see him? At least he can give you a sword. "

"I have a few swords. " Arrin replied dourly. Then he shook his head. "Don't you remember what happened the last time I used one?"

Gath nodded. "It was an accident Arrin. I am sure it would not happen again. " Gath said, laughing as he stood up. "It is time for you to forget and get on with your life. "

Arrin closed his eyes for a moment and his mind tumbled back to the past. When he had joined with the Five, Arrin had carried a sword. In their first battle, he had tried to take on a goblin. He swung his sword so hard that he missed the goblin and struck Razor in the leg. The wound was enough to take Razor out of the fight. Since they had journeyed forth without a cleric, the group had almost lost the encounter. Since that day, no one with any brains stood near Arrin while he fought with a sword. "You're right about one thing, " Arrin said crossly. "It won't happen again because I am not going to use a sword. "

"Your call, Arrin. But if you're going to use magic, have a teleport spell ready."

"Now that is an idea," Arrin said also standing up. "I can send him to the pits of Hell."

Without saying another word, Gath walked away shaking his head. He muttered, "Damn hard-headed Elf! If you want something done, you have to do it yourself.

*****

Part 3: War Plans
(What Happened To The Good Old Days When You Could Just Settle A Fight With A Single Knockdown, Drag Out Brawl
Instead Of Playing Fu Manchu And Launching Seven Hundred Convoluted Plots?)

Arrin's campsite outside of Portsmouth

His eyes opened as the breath of life returned to his body. He sat up and shoved the stones off of him. Then he scanned the area to make certain no one had seen his resurrection.

When the people of this world had found a way to kill the members of his race, their numbers had dwindled rapidly. At one time there had been more than a thousand; now they numbered less than a hundred. Since it had become common knowledge that his people did not die the normal death, the magic users of the land had harvested their body parts for spell components, offering as much as ten thousand gold for the brain and forty thousand for the heart.

Drake stood up, brushed the dust from his clothing and off his skull. No one had really known where they had come from, not even Drake. It was as if he had appeared one day, fully grown. He vaguely remembered waking to find a Demon who had smiled upon him as it held a bloody sword in its hand. As he had become fully conscious, the hunger struck him, nearly felling him.

It was a hunger he sensed couldn't be sated by food, no matter how much he could have eaten. He needed something else, something warm but uncooked. He stared at the Demon as it helped him to the table. "Why is it that I am hungry?" Drake asked.

The Demon smiled as he pointed at a human male who stood in a cage. His toothy grin sent chills down Drake's spine. "Kill him, feast on his brain and heart, and drink his blood, then your hunger will go away."

At first Drake was horrified. How could he eat a human being? Yet the hunger overwhelmed him. He stalked over to the fear stricken man in the cage. The closer he came, the more powerful he felt. It was almost as if he was dining on the man's fear.

Later, he came to realize he gained strength from his victims directly proportional to their age and vitality. During the next few years he fed on humans between the ages of 15 and 26. They seemed to be the ripest and the strongest prey.

Soon after, parents used his name to control their unruly children. He was feared and loathed far and wide, able to walk into a town and take whatever he wanted. Then ten years after his 'birth', the prey started hunting him.

The trill of the mourning dove ended Drake's sojourn to his past. He felt an unaccustomed, deep seated burning in the pit of his soul and bit his lip hard enough to draw his own blood. He had made a terrible mistake in telling The Angry One what he was. He cursed his own arrogance and stared sullenly at the horizon. It had been close to three hundred years since the last of his kind lived out in the open. Now they kept their heads down. Hidden among the normal aspects of humanity, he knew of a few of his kind who lived in Mirabar, the city on the other side of the mountains. One of them was actually the constable. Another worked in the stables as a hand, yet another worked as a storekeeper. All three were unsuspected for they only fed on adventurers who traveled through town; people who wouldn't be missed. If he could convince those three to arrest or somehow kill The Angry One, he might be in the clear.

Drake sighed, his hope fading. The Angry One would most likely warn others about him, anyone with half a brain could see that. Which means he had to be silenced, and silenced quickly. But he could not be the one to do it. The Angry one would see him coming from a mile away. He concluded the best thing to do was to have someone else to kill him. With this thought in mind he took the other horses and started heading south toward Mirabar.

Drake stayed off the main trails in the unlikely event that The Angry One had spread the word about him. In the brush, there were plenty of dangers; beasts like Orcs and Goblins ran rampant away from the main trails. Some of those beasts still scared the hell out of him even though over the years he had learned how to handle a sword. In fact, not many were as good as he with a sword. He ended all his battles by decapitating his foe, hoping to see the mist flow out of a human body. He had yet to experience that since coming to this upside down world.

He did not stop to rest that night. Time was essential. He had to get there, talk them into aiding him, then return with them before The Angry One had time to warn too many people.

Just before dawn, Drake reached the outskirts of Mirabar. As he walked into town, he saw someone toss some water out of the window of a tavern. He noticed the constable mounting his horse to take a ride around for his last patrol of the night. A rooster crowed, waking its master, telling him that it was time to rise.

He rode his mount to the stable and a plan began to form in his mind. He had heard the stable boy was a hot head. The constable was always pulling his ass out of fights. Indeed, he would have been dead long ago if it had not been for the constable.

He dismounted and stepped down on stray strands of hay that had been carried out of the stable onto the street. Drake felt the acknowledging pang of another Silerwor nearby. He faked a stumble and grabbed a hold of the pummel of his saddle. He caught a movement out of the corner of his eye and saw the stable boy approach him. Drake hid a slight smile.

"They are hunting us again." Drake mumbled just loud enough for the boy to hear. Before 'passing out'

"Who is hunting whom?" The boy asked kneeling down next to Drake. Lightly slapping Drake's face to try and wake him.

Drake let the boy 'try' to wake him for a while before coming out of his 'faint' opening his eye lids only a bit as he tried to keep the performance as realistic as possible Drake looked up to the lad with weak eyes, in a weak voice he said. "An Elf in Portsmouth--he identified me as a Silerwor and attacked. I...ran."

Drake watched the horror come into the boy's eyes and knew what the boy was thinking. All Silerwor knew that if one could be recognized than any of them could be, it was unthinkable that a Silerwor would announce publicly what he was as Drake had. Playing on this hunch, Drake reached into the pocket of his cloak pulling out a hand-sketched picture of The Angry One, holding it out to the boy he said. "He's the one. You will know him by the bow he carries--it is a powerful magic bow... it doesn't fire normal arrows."

Watching the bland expression on the young ones face Drake knew he would have to throw something sweeter into the pot something that would be sure to install fear in his heart. A slight smile came to his face as he though of it. Keeping his voice low like he was hurt badly he added the damning information. "But most of all, you will have to be careful for he is a Magic user."

Not wanting to over do it, Drake 'passed out' again hoping the young Silerwor would race to the constable. He heard him running away and his acute hearing detected the discussion between the two Silerwors. As he had hoped, the young one's inexperience and fear helped persuade the others to seek out The Angry One. Drake hid his smile of satisfaction. Everything was going as he had planned

*****

"Hail the fire," A voice called from out of the darkness. Both Drake and Doug, the stable hand, turned toward direction where the voice originated.

"Come ahead," Drake announced, his hand close to the sword. Drake wasn't concerned about the stranger hailing them. It was common courtesy to call into a camp and announce one's presence. Anyone who did so was normally allowed to enter. Besides, he had no cause to doubt the capabilities of the members of his party to protect one another.

When he had gone to Mirabar he had only believed there were three of his kind in the city. In fact, it had turned out that four lived there. Doug hadn't been a problem and once the constable had gotten involved, it was easy to enlist the other two. Now they were all in a camp just outside the city waiting for the visitor to enter their moonlit camp.

The man dismounted on the fringes of the camp, his mount following him like a well-trained dog with its reins hanging. He stood just over six feet tall, his blond hair was uncombed, and his deep blue eyes bloodshot, and his clothes stained. He must have been on the road for several days. His shoulders had a great span to them, but at that moment they sagged. He had a great bastard sword with an ornate cross guard that circled back to guard the hand strapped to his hip. On the right side of the horse was a great shield with an emblem of a Golden Dragon on it.

Drake watched the man come toward their fire totally at ease. Then he froze in horror when he saw Doug step forward with a sword in his hand to attack the trekker.

As Doug swung down on the man, his victory seemed assured. But before Doug's sword could strike, it clanged on the side of the broadsword that the man had brought up in his defense. He had drawn his sword so fast, Drake hadn't even seen it leave its scabbard. Then as if the traveler was teaching a lesson to a novice swordsman, he lashed out with his free hand, striking Doug in the center of his chest and knocking him into a tree a good ten feet away.

As he watched the angry eyes of the traveler, Drake decided he'd better find out more about this man. He drew his own sword but kept the point down in a non-threatening manner and asked. "Who are you?"

"I am just a weary traveler. I meant you no harm, yet your man attacked me without warning."

By this time the others were awake. They stared wide-eyed at the man who now stood in their camp with a great sword in his hand.

"I humbly apologize for the boy's ill-considered attack." Drake said nodding at Doug. "What is your name?"

"I am called 'The Blade'. I am traveling to the Portsmouth to pick up some equipment for my journey. I stopped here because it is safer to stay with a group when camping."

Doug brushed himself off and said, with downcast eyes, "I thought he was a threat. I am sorry panic has caused you any distress, sir."

Turning back to 'Blade', Drake shook his head. "Please accept my apologies, sir. He is young and foolish."

"Young and foolish he may be," the traveler replied, still holding his sword. "However I believe he knew what he was doing. He just did not know to whom he was doing it too. I will travel on."

With that, Blade cautiously backed his way out of the camp as his horse followed him.

*****

'Blade' knew there might be a way into the city, but it all depended on what ship was in port and whom you knew. He approached the gate nearest the dock with his hands in plain site and his sword tied to the cantle of the horse's saddle. When he saw the gate guard look at him, he raised his hands above his head, allowing the guard to know that he was harmless. "I am the one they call Razor of the Five. I understand that this is not normal; however, I request entrance into the city tonight."

"The gates are closed!" The guard called back, his tone final. "You cannot gain entrance until the morning."

"If that is what you wish." Razor mumbled as he went about gathering wood for a fire. He unsaddled his horse and left it loose, knowing that it would not stray away from him.

"Douse that fire!" The guard ordered

Ignoring the guard, Razor went about making his fire and setting up his camp. He knew the city laws better than the guard did. He ought to, he snorted. I helped write them, he mused. He was not going to move any farther away than necessary from the gate. He did not want any unwelcome visitors and something about that boy who had attacked him did not sit right with him.

Like the rest of the Five, he lived by his instincts, trusting them completely. When he had received Gath's message three days ago, his instincts had screamed at him, telling him to come to his oldest friend's aid. Sitting just beyond the fire's light, he thought about Gath's message. <A Silerwor? It's been five years since any of them were last seen. Where had this one been all that time and was that kid back there connected in some way to this whole puzzle?>

*****

Drake was very upset about the young Silerwor's foolish attack on the stranger in the camp. After Blade had left, he turned on Doug and snapped, "You idiot! Haven't you learned anything during the past 15 years? Now they are going to know we are here! It won't take long for them to narrow down who we are. Then we are going to be hunted, again."

"You worry too much." The younger man replied with a laugh, staring in the direction that Blade had gone. "I will follow him and kill him just like we will kill this Elf. Don't forget it is you who came to us for help."

"I should not have asked you," Drake said. He turned away from the younger Silerwor and started to pack their gear. "We'd better go. I think he will return."

"I told you I would take care of him." The younger man snapped. Doug grabbed the reins of his horse and mounted his steed. "I will be right back."

As the horse trotted away, Drake felt a sense of doom come over him. Something about Blade did not feel right. Although he didn't know much about the traveler, he did know if the boy caught up to him, the boy would not be coming back.

He turned and looked at the others. "Let's break camp. We will move to the south end of the city and enter in the morning."

*****

Blade made himself comfortable, placing his back against an old tree. He faced the fire, which, at first, would cause most people to believe he stood a good chance of ruining his night vision. That had been the reason the Guard had wanted him to put the fire out. However, Blade's fire served a more sinister purpose, it was a trap set to catch a very large rat.

He didn't have to wait long. An hour had not passed before a piece of twig snapped about fifteen feet off to his left. Smiling wickedly, Blade stuck his hand into his bag. As he brought his hand out, a small orb shined brightly in his grip. He stood up, drew his sword, turned, and pitched the small orb in the direction of the sound. A small area of the night became as bright as day. Caught in the revealing light, his night vision now ruined, the young man froze with a frightened expression on his face. As he struggled to refocus on Blade, he brought up his blade in a defensive position.

"We finish this." The Silerwor muttered.

"Let's dance, although I do not like to fight this close to the gates." Blade replied. "I will give you one chance to surrender your sword and walk away. If you do not take my generous offer, you won't be going anywhere."

The Silerwor snorted, raised his sword, and approached Blade. As they started the fight, they crossed their swords and began to circle, testing each other for weaknesses. Blade moved in a very definitive manner, pressing his attack in one area while dropping off in another, then moving his attack in another area. The smile on his face was easy as were his movements against the Silerwor. When he found a weakness in the Silerwor's defenses, he immediately pressed his advantage. He sliced a deep cut into his opponent's right side before pulling back. He let the wound bleed before attacking again. He scored another hit on the right arm, almost severing it. Then Blade went for the kill. He knocked the sword in his opponent's hands toward the ground and thrust his sword into the man's gut. As the man doubled over, Blade shook his head and picked up his light ball. He stuffed it back into the bag and started to walk off to break his camp, until he saw the blue sparks start to close his victim's wounds.

"A Silerwor." Blade snarled in disgust. The stories he had heard had all said that these creatures were cannibals who could not die unless they were decapitated. He drew his sword again and took the young man's head with one mighty blow before his opponent could revive.

Unfortunately, the stories hadn't told Blade what to expect next. Lightning bolts shot in all directions from the headless body, starting out quite small but soon filling the area. Blade dived behind a rock, hoping to survive the electrical onslaught. After a few minutes, the bolts died off. When he was sure the coast was clear, Blade stood up, dusted off his clothes, and broke camp because the sun had risen.

Then as the gate crept open, he slipped through the crack into the city.

Entering the city, Blade made his way to the Black Rose, knowing that if he were in town, Gath would most likely be staying there. Entering the tavern, Blade found only a few patrons sitting at the tables in the dark corners. He didn't know any of them, but guessed they were regulars as the maids made sure they were well taken care of. Looking around the rest of the room, he saw the owner of the bar and moved toward him. The owner was an elderly human with dark skin, retired from adventuring, he had bought this place and settled down, ready to serve young adventurers with wine, food, story and song.

"Well met, Rose," Blade said, his deep rich voice just barely above a whisper, "Have you seen Arrin or Gath?"

"Well met, Blade," Rose said with a smile on his face, for it had been a while since he had seen Blade. "Arrin is upstairs in his room and Gath just left for the docks. How fare the others? Condor, and Helda?"

"Last time I saw them, they were all good." Blade said. He took a seat facing the door before going on. "But it has been a while since I have run across their paths."

"When was that?" The Rose asked as he motioned over a waitress. Telling her to get one of the biggest steaks and a Mug of the best Ale the house had, he said, "Next you see them tell them I said fare thee well."

"I will do that the next time I see them." Blade nodded, keeping the knowledge of the attack to himself. The Black Rose was a good friend of Arrin's and he would close the bar down to take vengeance for nothing if he knew what was happening with Arrin. "When he awakens, tell him that I am here."

Just as Blade stretched his legs underneath the table and food was brought to him he saw the Elf in question standing at the top of the stairs, Arrin's eyes never stopping moving as he picked up all movement in the room. His eyes showed the most change in him; they were the eyes of a hunted man. A man who had been living on the edge, and who had worries on his mind.

*****

In his room, Arrin carefully packed his things up. It had been four days since the Silerwor attacked him, so he was hoping that all was forgotten and that he could safely leave the city on another adventure. There was a lot he wanted to do and it was time for him to leave. There was more of the world he wanted to see. Now that his personal war was over, he wanted to stake out his home in the mountains and clean out the cave that he had secretly been stashing things in. In short, it was time that he got on with his life.

Stepping out of his room, Arrin stopped at the landing at the top of the stairs. He let his eyes scan the room, looking for anything out of place. Finally, his eyes fell on Blade, even though he was sitting in a darkened area of the room. Blade was a man one could not overlook; he was just too damn big. A smile came to his face as he moved down toward his old friend. Today he chose to wear the bright gold robes of a magic user. On the left breast of the robe was the emblem of a city councilman.

*****

"Word came to me about your trouble." Blade said as he stood, sticking out his hand for Arrin to grasp in the adventurer greeting. Letting Arrin's arm go, Blade reached back into the pack that he had been carrying and pulled out a short sword. The sword hummed of magic, its pearl handle tailored for small hands, and its blade, though at first glance it was like any short sword, soon proved that it was like no other sword Arrin had ever seen. It was single edged; the back edge was smooth with a surface. "This should help you out."

Looking at the sword in Blade's hand, Arrin's eyes became as big as saucers, the natural almond shape of them almost disappearing in his surprise. Arrin's voice came out strange and tense. "Of all the people I know, I would never expect you to be handing me a sword."

Looking over his friend in disgust, Blade demanded. "Are you telling me that you still don't use a sword? How could you have survived all this time without one?"

"My bow, traps, daggers and magic." Arrin replied. He took a seat but did not accept the sword that Blade held. "I almost cut your legs off back then Blade, I have taken great pains not to have that done again."

"In all the time we have been apart, Arrin," Blade replied with a smile, "I remember that as one of the good times."

"Really?" Arrin asked in genuine surprise, as a plate of food was brought and placed down in front of him. "I have spent all these years hoping to somehow make it up to you."

"Well it looks like we will be fighting again side by side." Blade smiled as he explained about what happened the previous night and early morning. Telling him about his own knowledge of the Silerwor's, finishing with. "Whatever they are, wherever they came from, there is one thing that is definite. They are cannibals. Worse they are a type of Zombie to survive they need to eat the brains and heart of their victims.

"How have they survived this long?" Arrin asked, shock and disgust in his voice. "Surely someone would have done something about it."

"The Magic users all have bounties on them. Seems that the hearts of such creatures power spells as well as Dragon Hearts do." Blade replied, keeping his voice low so no one could hear the conversation. "As for me, well, their kind has not crossed my path until last night."

"You say they are outside the gate?" Arrin asked standing up and belting on the sword to make Blade happy.

"They were last night." Blade confirmed. "I went north of the city so I am betting they went south."

"Let us go see if we can put an end to their disease." Arrin replied as he walked toward the door, quickly followed by Blade.

*****

Part 4: Team Ups From Hell
(The Forgotten Realms Answers To Robin Hood And Dick The Bruiser Layeth The Smacketh Down On The Bad Guys)

Leaving the Black Rose after leaving a few coppers on the table, Arrin and Blade moved toward the southern entrance of the city. Each of them had a small amount of joy in their hearts as they walked down the streets. They would be fighting together again, the first time in close to 20 years. The bond between Human and Elf had grown strong in the time they spent together during the Seven Seals Campaign, more so with each other than with the rest of the party. Although they had respect for the other members in their group, Blade and Arrin had always tried to fight together.

Arriving at the southern gate, Arrin walked up to the guard who stood nearest the gate and asked. "Much traffic coming in this morning?"

"Two parties since dawn, sir." The guard replied, looking with surprise at the crest on Arrin's lapel. It was not often the Council members ventured out of the city proper.

Was one of the parties 4 big men?" Blade demanded, stepping past Arrin and giving a description of the four men who were left in that party.

Not unless they came in with the caravan that came in an hour ago." The guard replied, stepping back away from Blade. "The other group who came in were a group of women from the Elvin village to the East of us."

Turning to Blade, Arrin smiled and said, "Let's go check the two other gates to make sure they are not in the city. When we are positive of that, we will go out to meet them."

"Sir, are those the men you seek?" the guard called as both Blade and Arrin started to walk away from the gate. On hearing the guard's voice, they both turned around to see the four men they were looking for coming toward the gate.

"Just like old times." Arrin replied as both men walked out, telling the guard as he went. "No matter what happens, don't let those four enter the city."

Buckling his shield onto his left arm, Blade pulled out his bastard sword while saying. "Pull your sword it's time to play."

"I am not going to use the sword." Arrin stated as they moved closer to the four Silerwor's. They watched them spread out and effectively surround them.

"Now is not the time to be stupid Arrin." Blade barked, moving his back toward Arrin's as they prepared to do battle. "Pull the sword and remember that it has to be a decapitation blow to kill these things."

"I am not using the sword." Arrin stated calmly as he watched the two Silerwor's in front of him both pull their swords and start toward him. A sly smile came to him as he let them come.

"Pull that damn sword, before I decided to put my own sword up your ass." Blade ordered, his face turning red as he noticed the two ahead of him moving in for the attack.

"Blade did I tell you that I have been playing around with writing spells?" Arrin asked, his smile growing even wider as his arms came up to his chest. "Watch this."

Arrin started to concentrate on the two Silerwor's in front of him. His voice became low, and changed from common to Elfish as he cast a spell that he had only tried once before. Upon completion of the spell, Arrin looked up at the two Silerwor's and finished the spell by saying, "Welcome to my little corner of Hell."

As his words died out, a twenty by twenty-square box of Hell appeared, placing the two Silerwor's in the middle of it, also in the box was a baatezu from the 3rd level of hell. Seeing the creature, Arrin's smile grew even wider as he said. "My present to you. Do with them what you will."

Feeling the heat from behind him, and seeing the two Silerwor's in front of him freeze in shock; Blade took the chance of turning his head to see what was going on. The sight that greeted him was out of his nightmares. A devil that must have been fifteen feet tall, with some kind of boils all over his abnormally shaped body, had grabbed the two Silerwor's who were already starting to burn, and bit into one of them, ripping off his arm. The other just screamed in terror as the demon turned to him.

"Take them to the hell where you belong," Arrin said. Waving his hand and dispelling the magic, the demon and two Silerwor's were now gone, leaving the ground as it was before Hell on Faerun arrived.

"What in Tempus' name was that?" Blade bellowed as he turned back to one of the Silerwor's. The demon had moved in to attack him while his attention was focused on the Demon.

Blocking the swing of the Silerwor's attack, his full attention was not on the fight at hand. So he did not see Arrin moving to his left side and casting Teleport Other on the last Silerwor, which caused him to disappear and reappear in the middle of an active Volcano Arrin had come across. Now it was only Blade and the one he faced, but the fight was a fair match, for Blade was better than most swordsmen and Blade knew that he must survive. The two clashed their swords, starting the old ballet of the sword fighters.

Turning to watch the fight, Arrin recognized the last Silerwor to be Drake, the one who caused all the problems to begin with. Not knowing if fire would kill these things, Arrin prepared to cast Teleport Other again. Just before he did there was a brilliant flash and time stopped. Two men, one Elf and the other human, stood before Arrin as even Blade was frozen in time. Taking the advantage, Arrin finished his spell and sent that last Silerwor to the bottom of the large body of water that lay to the west of them before turning to the two strangers.

Looking the two men over and having heard about one of them Arrin decided to get a spell ready just in case, as he asked suspiciously. "Who are you and what is it that you want?"

"My name is Azuth. It is my job to protect the land from wild magic." The tall man said, looking Arrin over. Seeing that Arrin was not a true magic user, he went on, "Who gave you the spell that you cast, to bring a Demon here and how did you get rid of it so easily?"

Looking Azuth over, Arrin frowned. He had heard stories of the great Azuth, the servant of Mystra, but never pictured him like this, dressed in shorts with no shirt. A year ago when he had stopped off at Condor's house to drop off the latest spells he had come up with, they had talked about Azuth and what he did to people who wildly used their magic. It looked as if he finally came to the arch mage's attention.

Somewhat in awe, but determined not to show it, Arrin proudly straightened up to his 5'11" frame and coldly replied. "I am Arrin Parkin, Son of Shobin Parkin, survivor of the Seven Seals campaign, One of the Avenging Five, Lord of the City in Hidden Valley, First Student of Blade the Warrior, First student of Gath the Thief, First student of Hilda the Illusionist, First Student of Condor the Magician Major, High Archer of Spine, and Master of the Rainbow Bow. No one gave me the spell, I created it."

"So you're The Angry One" Azuth asked his voice low and menacing as he looked over Arrin. "I have been..."

"I am Morning Ray," The Elf from Arrin's dream stepped forward cutting off Azuth's threats. "I am the Avatar for Corellon Larethian, I have come so He can talk to you again Arrin Parkin."

"What is it that you would have me do?" Arrin asked kneeling down on one knee the bow across his raised knee.

"Kneel here child." The voice came to him almost out of the air. "Place your weapons in front of you and accept my quest and judgment. Fulfill the quest and all will come to you."

A warm, yellowish glow surrounded Arrin as he put his bow out in front of him and tossed the Sword over to Blade, who was still frozen in time. Somewhere in the process, Arrin fell asleep and awoke three days later at the Black Rose. Blade sat watch in a chair in the corner of the room. He too was asleep. Though Arrin did not know it, Blade had just fallen asleep after Gath walked out of the room, promising him that he would watch the room so no one would disturb the two.

Awaking from his deep sleep, Arrin secured the room. Leaving Blade to sleep, he left the room and purposefully moved down the street to the temple of Corellon Larethian, where he met with Baurabus, a High priest of Corellon, to start his training. In future years he too became a high priest of Corellon himself.

*****

Part 5: Some Time Later
(Many, Many Moons. Also, How To Bring The Shlitz Malt Liquor Bull Into The Wandererverse)

January 1999
Between Worlds

"This child's life force was the best I've ever had!" One man said to Drake, shaking almost post-orgasmically as he let the child Minotaur's lifeless body fall from his tense, muscular arms. He stood a couple inches less than six feet, with light brown hair and fiery red eyes. His face was relaxed and a look of rapture was in his eyes. Without it he looked like any other handsome male of twenty-eight. His body was like that of a dancer, lithe and ropey. "I could stay here and dine forever."

"Their blood is sweet and very potent." The Drake answered while letting the child Minotaur he had grabbed fall to the ground. He stood roughly six feet tall, with shoulder length blond hair and a massive barrel chest that tapered down to a tight waist and muscular legs. "I wish I had time to taste the brains, but in the Outer Lands there were those who tasted much more pure."

"Better than these?" the first speaker asked as they moved away from their victims, deeper into the tunnel and looking for a way through to the Outer Lands. "They must be strong."

"They are ageless." The Drake replied as he led the way, trying to stay out of sight. "The Minotaur's in this cave are guardians of the passage and have a strong life trail. So it is natural they would be good. Once we get through, however, it will be different."

As the two moved deeper into the tunnel, they did not think about their two latest victims. Nor did they worry about what would happen should someone miss them. The only thing on their minds was to reach the passage and grab an ageless one.

*****

A good hour had past before the two children were discovered by a roving patrol that was assigned to keep the tunnels clear. Picking the children up, they hurried back to the main cave where their village sat, taking the children into the center of town where they loudly called out for Borah, their leader.

"What has happened?" Borah asked, coming out of his home. He was the largest Minotaur in the village, standing just approximately ten feet tall. He carried himself proudly; his eyes became sad as he noticed the two dead children, asking. "Who did this?"

"A Torilian Vampire did this, the life force has been taken from him." One of the patrol members said. Then, checking the other one he went on. "I believe a Silerwor killed this child."

"A Silerwor in our caves." The question was pushed from the mouths of a dozen Minotaurs who were standing around. "We must get rid of it."

"All guards post out to all openings." Borah ordered with a voice tinged with sorrow. "Captain, call for my son. I have an assignment for him."

Watching the guards run to their posts, he turned to the women. "Call in your children, no one leaves the village until it's over."

"Lord Borah, the passage to the Outer Lands has recently been used." A runner came up, stopping a few feet away while trying to catch his breath. "Your son was reported to be in the fields of Toril. I have detached a messenger to get him."

"I have a very important message for you to deliver, Lark." Borah ordered. Looking the young runner over and taking out a pendant that was shaped like a bow, made of a Rainbow diamond and handing it to the runner, he said. "Go with all speed to the Hidden Valley. Seek out the Lord of that Valley and give him this. Tell him that I am calling in his marker."

*****

Every Minotaur over the age of five had heard of that pendant and who had given it to the Borah family. Taking the pendant, he wrapped it up in a felt cloth and stuck it into his pouch. The Rainbow Archer was a legend in the land, a wood elf that stood out in the Elven wars, which spanned close to fifty years and, if there were a winner to the whole thing, he would be it. Not the elves that lived above ground but him.

The Rainbow Archer was born to the Valley Elven clan of Parkin. Born Arrin Parkin, the firstborn of Shobin Parkin, now the Lord of Hidden Valley, which was hidden in the mountains of eastern Faerun, on the world of Toril. When he was about 25 years old, the Drow elves had wiped out his whole village. Only he escaped the massacre, having been away on the Seven Seal campaign. They said it drove him crazy and that he had attacked the world of the Drow like a mad man, going down into their world to kill the leaders of the Drow city who had launched the assault upon his village. Now, over 3,000 years later, he was the Lord and owner of Hidden Valley, with a city that housed close to 4,000 inhabitants, a true rag to riches story. The Hidden Valley was about five days ride from the opening on a good horse. If he started out with two horses, he could change them at Condor the Magician's house, then change again at Gath the Sailor's house, and make it in four days if he kept riding.

*****

Part 6: Welcome To The Hellmouth
(The Invasion Of The Old Farts)

Willy's Alibi Room
Sunnydale, Ca.

"That was easy enough." The Torilian Vampire told Drake as they left the passage and landed in a dark room with blaring music and smoke. That it was some kind of tavern was obvious and one that they could find comfort in, for the place had evil in it. Walking up to the bar, they both ordered a drink, blood at room temperature. Having heard of the stories behind the Minotaur's duties, he turned to the Silerwor and asked. "Do you think they will send someone after us, Drake?"

"No I don't. But we won't be around here very long. So if they do come, they won't find us, and they will not stay very long looking for us." Drake said as he took a seat at the bar. Looking at the human who was serving and wondering what this human had going on with the demons in the room, he decided to play it quiet for a while.

"I don't know you two, but if you're here to hunt and prey on humans, just know that we have 2 Slayers in this town, with other hunters to back them up." The owner of the bar leaned over the bar and told the two, looking at them for a second he went on. "These people have killed over 800 of your kind in less than three days, and that was just the last time."

Reaching across the bar, the Torilian vampire grabbed Willy by his shirtfront, pulling him partly over the bar and bringing Willy face to face with him. "Human, do not now or ever treat my Lord in that disrespectful voice. If you do it again, I will kill you."

"Hey, don't kill the messenger," Willy said nervously, his voice a wine his eyes registering both shock and fear. "I just thought I would let you know what is in town, you two being new here and all."

"Why would you want to help us human?" Drake asked as he looked over Willy, disgust in his voice he went on. "You're not like us."

"I find it easier to run this bar when I am friendly with the locals," Willy grinned, looking around. "And I suppose that your kind needs to drink too. So I opened here."

"Well, Willy, these hunters and the Slayers do not interest me," Drake said as he looked around the bar. Seeing how full it was he went on. "They must not scare these others either."

"We don't go advertising that we are here." The man sitting in the next seat said, looking Drake over, nodding his head he went on in a respectful voice. "The Slayers keep our population down in this town."

"The Slayers?" Drake asked, a slight smile to his face. Looking at his companion, he went on. "Now Screw, that is one you would love to have. The Slayer is supposed to be powerful and her life force would be better that those children this morning."

"I hope you did not have those children in this town." The vampire said. Looking at Screw, he added. "I would not want to be you when the Slayers finds out if you did."

"Don't worry about us, the Slayers do not interest us." Drake said as he and Screw rose from their chairs. Looking the vampire over, Drake knew that the Vampires here were a lot weaker than even Screw was. "Listen for the calling. We will find a place soon and then we will be gathering force. I will show you how to kill a Slayer."

*****

Sunnydale Motor Lodge
Sunnydale, California
11 AM

"Why I am back here on the Hellmouth I will never know." The man known as Adam Pierson mumbled to himself as he pulled into the parking lot of the Sunnydale Motor Lodge. The sun was still high in the sky, which he was thankful for. Steve, a friend of with whom he had worked together killing vampires before, had summoned him here. Now Steve was gone on one of his jaunts and had asked Adam to come in and fill the void that he and his group left when they left Sunnydale. His cover story was all in place; he would be teaching history at the local high school. Smiling as he thought about that, as he walked to the day clerk, who had immediately recognized him and tossed him a key to a room on the second floor. Looking at the key, Adam asked. "Do I pay now or when I leave?"

"Mr. St Wolf has already paid for 2 weeks for you. He has stocked your room as well." The clerk replied, going back to his book as Adam climbed the stairs.

Entering the room, he picked up the envelope that was on the small table near the bed. Opening it up, he moved over to the closet as he read the note.

Things have been quiet around the town. Most of the gang is here, so if you need them just give them a call. Willow may be stopping by to see how you're doing. Just remember that it is that time of the month and Oz does not have full control. Ted will be bringing pizza to you tonight about 6 pm. Have a good visit. Thanks for your help.

"Straight and to the point. Very well written Steve. Now for a nap, then patrolling tonight after the pizza and cold beer." Looking into the closet, he went over the weapons. Checking them against the list that Steve left for him, he saw a bolt action .270 for long-range work, with fifty wooden and twenty silver bullets, two 9mm Glocks with five clips each, 2,000 extra wooden bullets, and one hundred silver tipped bullets for emergencies. Finally, there were about two-dozen wooden throwing knifes and a heavy crossbow. More than enough, especially when the weapon I will be using most will be my sword. Closing and locking the closet, he went to take a shower.

*****

The sun was just setting when he was awakened by a knock on the door. Picking up his sword, he held it along his right leg, out of sight as he opened the door peeked around the corner. Seeing Willow, he stepped back from the door, letting it come open as he made his way into the bathroom to get dressed. He called over his shoulder. "Come on in, Willow. Make yourself comfortable, and I will be right out."

"No problem." Willow replied as she started picking up the mess he'd left of the Pizza box and beer bottles. "I just put Oz up for the night and thought I would walk patrol with you. Maybe I can work a few moves out that I've been thinking about."

"The note says things have been quiet lately," Adam replied as he left the bathroom, pulling on his trench coat with the sword already in place. "Why don't you tell me how quiet it has been?"

"Well, we got two the other night." Willow said as she thought about it. "But it really has been sort of slow."

"So tell me." Adam asked, with a grin coming to his face, "Do you just want to have a boring night of patrolling, or do you want to go out and make something happen?"

"What do you have in mind?" Willow asked, looking suspiciously at Adam.

"When was the last time any of you been over at Willy's?" Adam asked, with an evil grin. Seeing the mischief come into Willow's eyes, he went on "I take it that it has been awhile."

"You're worse than Xander is for finding trouble." Willow replied as she walked out the door, followed by Adam. As they drove along, Willow kept her eyes moving; this was something that you just did automatically, living in Sunnydale. "What are we going to be doing there, anyway?"

"Oh, we are just going to see how many creepy crawlers we can find in the bar, and which ones we can kill." Adam answered with a smile on his face. It had been a long time since the thought of killing came into his mind. Pulling into the parking lot in front of Willy's, he went on. "Just do me a favor, be careful because Steve will kill me if I let something happen to you."

*****

Part 7: Bounty Hunter With A Twist
(When It Absolutely, Positively Has To Be Hunted Down, Captured, Disintegrated, Fireballed, Lightning Bolted, Meteor Swarmed. . .
Oh, Screw It, You Get The Idea)

Foothills of the Spine of the World Mountains
Northern Faerun, Toril
Mid Day

Lark, the runner sent after the Rainbow Archer, was traveling east through the lands of Chex the Griffon. His eyes were to the sky, letting his horse pick its own way through the area. The Griffon was a noble creature with the taste for horseflesh, which often stopped travelers through his lands if they had more horses than they could ride at one time, and Lark had two of them. He was a full day into the Chex area when the Griffon decided to make his presence known.

The morning was crisp, if not cold, as Lark packed up to continue his journey, thinking that with any luck he would be at Condor's home by midday. Packing up the horses with his supplies, he did not hear the Griffon glide to a halt behind him. He jumped when he heard the Griffon say. "Those are some strong horses you have there."

"I can not give you either of my horses Chex," Lark said, slowly turning around to face the Griffon. Putting his right hand on the hilt of the long sword that he was carrying, he went on. "I have very little time to get to the Hidden valley and collect the Rainbow Archer for my Lord Borah."

"Tell me then, why would Borah want The Angry One so much," Chex asked, using a nickname given to Arrin during the Elvin wars as he eyed the flesh of the horses. "That he would risk sending someone across my lands with two steeds as well fed as these two are?"

"A Silerwor came through the tunnels yesterday, on his way to the Outer Lands," Lark said as he watched the Griffon lick its lips. They were both fine animals, just about the best that they had in the herd and he knew that Chex would do anything to get his claws on one. "On its way through it killed two of our children."

"I see you have a fine mare as well as a stallion with you." Chex said, seemingly not paying attention to Lark's explanation, which upset him. Chex's eyes drifted back to the young Minotaur before going on. "Maybe we can strike a deal."

"I don't want to make any deal that would cause me to lose these horses." Lark said, putting up a brave front in front of the Griffon. "I must get to Condor's."

"These two would make great breeding stock and should help replenish my land with horses." Chex went on as if Lark did not say anything. "So I should do something for you. I will take you to Condor's house, but make no mistake; the horses stay here."

Knowing there was no way around the proposal, if that is what you wanted to call it and obviously Chex wanted to call it that, Lark nodded his head. Knowing that Condor would give him horses when he found out what was going on he agreed. "I will accept a ride to Condor's house from you for the horses."

"Climb on my back and I will get you there three times faster than the horses would have carried you there." Chex invited. There was no time to talk as they flew east, over Chex's lands, and then over the forbidden forest. Chex started to make his decent at the beginning of a clearing at least a quarter mile in diameter with an old house in the middle. Around the house were four corrals with horses. One of the corals held five beautiful, black horses with fire for their manes and tails. Each of the horses was over twenty-two hands tall, with bodies that were just a bit smaller than a normal draft animal. Landing next to the stable, Lark climbed down just as Chex flew off, headed back to his home.

Seeing all the horses in the yard, Lark guessed that Condor had visitors and there would probably be a party going on. Condor was one of the most widely known Mage's in the Outlands, having adventured with some of the greater adventurers. Now, he stayed close to home, monitoring the magic of the world and teaching at a school for magic users. Lark had heard of the Black horses with fire for both main and tail before but thought they were myths. Wondering who could own such horses, he moved closer to the main house.

Arriving on the doorstep, he peered inside, trying to see who was there. The first person that came in sight was a fighter; he stood seven feet tall with thick, blond hair and cold, blue eyes. His body was golden brown, showing that he was used to being outside in the sun. At his side he wore a bastard sword; if one looked, and Lark did, there was three throwing knifes in specially designed sheaths that ran down the outside of the swords sheath. The pommel of the sword looked like a miniature crystal ball with a smoky center. This man was the one known as Razor, or Razor the Fighter, the leader of the Avenging Five. Standing next to him was a half-orc in a brown silk suit, the emblem of a broken token on the lapel. Though he wore no visible weapons, Lark knew the nature of Gath the sailor and did not suspect him to go unarmed even with his fellow Avengers. Sitting down in a chair directly across from Gath was a human woman, who wore a long flowing black dress that showed her figure to the best possible advantage. Her powder white hair was down to the small of her back; there was a large leather bound spell book in her lap. Standing next to a big chair, this would be Helda the Illusionist. Facing the group with his back to Lark was Condor. He stood very close to six feet tall, with hair almost as white as the lady's. He was wearing a black flowing robe that covered his body with enough cloth that it disguised what his body looked like. Standing next to the fireplace was the Rainbow Archer; he stood about an inch under 6 foot tall with shoulder length, thick, brown hair and piercing, blue-green eyes that looked older than his body's apparent age. He was wearing a deep, forest green cape over a royal, purple shirt and pants showing his station as a member of a royal family. Although he looked to be only about two hundred years old, Lark knew that he was closer to 3,500 years old. Like Gath, he had no visible weapons; his bow was across the room, leaning up against the corner. Standing next to him was a young girl with hair and eyes as red as hot lava wearing a simple purple dress. The smile on her face put the people around her at ease. Even Lark, who was just looking into the room, was calmed down by that smile.

Taking a breath to gather his courage, Lark stepped into the room and was met by a wall of silence as everyone in the room turned towards him. Never having been in this position before, Lark smiled and said. "Well met, Condor, master of this home. I am Lark, messenger to Borah. I have come in hopes of borrowing a horse to travel to the Hidden Valley, but seeing the Lord of that land is here, I would like an audience with him."

"Well met, Lark," Condor replied, a smile coming to his face as Lark stumbled though the proper respectful greetings of the land. Turning toward Arrin, he nodded his head and went on. "I would grant your audience with Arrin, however he is his own man."

"You may speak clearly here," Parkin said, moving over to shake Lark's hand. "In this room we are all friends."

"Please take a seat, Lark," Condor called out, seeing that he was exhausted and waving his hand, a chair appeared before him. "Tell us your story from the beginning."

Taking the offered seat, Lark put the pendant down on the small table in the center of the room before beginning to tell the story of what Borah had requested.

*****

Willy Bar
8 Pm

Walking into Willy's bar, followed closely by Adam, Willow allowed her sea green eyes to scan over the clientele separating them unconsciously into four separate groups, the first group that her eyes fell upon were the college students, the kind who always tried to prove how rough they were yet some how they didn't have a clue of how much serious danger they were in. As her eyes passed over them she noticed how one nudged another as he indicated her. A slight blush came to her cheeks as she heard the rude comment he whispered to his friend. Her blush quickly faded, as the student called out in what he though was a sexy voice. "Hey baby, want to go to a party?"

Adam disgustedly looked over the trio while getting ready to verbally whip the boy, but was beaten to it by Willow who replied in a voice sweeter than a melon on a summers morning. "Boys, the only party you want to go to is in my pants and your not invited."

Not giving the boys a second though, her eyes fell on the second group, this group was just a cut above the vampires in her eyes, for they chose to be what they were, the dregs of society and proud of it. This group consisted of the outlaw motorcyclists, looking like rejects from the glory days of the Hells Angel's that plagued the LA area in the early sixties. If any of them were really as rough as they thought they were she would be extremely surprised.

The next group was the breed of demons she knew that mostly just wanted to live out their lives in place. Taking jobs as security at night while staying hidden during the day. These demons in their own way actually gave something to society, not taking anything away from it. A reason why Section 7 left them alone, and even helped them when it became necessary.

The last group watched Willow almost as much as she watched them. The fact they were not looking for a way out sent warning bells in the back of her mind. Quickly glancing at Adam she noticed that he was frantically looking around for something or someone, his hand under his jacket gripping his sword.

Two of the men at the bar stood up and faced Willow and Adam; they both wore what appeared to be some type of medieval studded leather armor. The first man, standing less than six feet tall with short brown hair and brown eyes, his frame was that of a swimmers slim build mixed with whipcord strength. Hanging from his left hip was an ornate long sword with a hilt made of a black onyx so black, in fact, that it appeared to absorb all of the light that touched it. His eyes locked onto Adam's. The second man wore the same type of sword in a sheath that was tied across his back. The hilt showing over his right shoulder indicating that he was probably left handed.

"Head Hunters." Adam growled as he withdrew his sword getting ready to do battle. Willow noticed the second man had also pulled his sword and moved to the left as Adam faced them. Watching the two separate Adam ordered Willow. "Willow, go home!"

"Yes." Drake replied as both men moved in to attack responding to Adams outburst. "My race, the one you sentenced to an eternity to the timeless caves have at last returned to our rightful home world."

Figuring it would be a one on one, after all the game did have it's rules, Willow watched in horror as the second man grabbed Adam and pulled him close. As he did so, two very strange things started to happen. First a look of pure rapture came over the stranger's face, at the same time Adams face started to daze over than slowly began to weaken. Why the speaker did not take the opportunity to take Adams head Willow did not know, however that was a mistake he would regret as she became worried over her friends safety. Her eyes became to get angry as she felt the power grow within her. She looked at the three combatants and ordered. "Separate."

The spell was instantaneous. The three combatants flew toward opposites walls. Drake flew back and his legs hit the bar, causing him to do a back flip. Landing on his head a loud crack was heard as his neck snapped. The man who was holding Adam flew back, hitting the wall behind him so hard that the fixings along that wall. Mostly pictures, fell to the floor, while Adam smacked against the wall just left of the door.

The college boy who made the rude comment promptly threw up when he heard the breaking of the neck while another boy who sat with him turned a shade paler. Picking up Adam's sword Willow walked over to him as Willy's clientele decided it was safer to disappear in case the police came. Bending down to shake Adam Willow said in a fearful voice. "Get up Adam, we have to get out of here."

Receiving no reply and fearing the worse, Willow was just about to pull out her cell phone when a cocky British accent came from behind her, a voice she was very pleased to hear under the circumstances. "Did he drink to much, Red?"

"Spike!" Willow exclaimed, coming to her feet as she spun to face the bottle blond vampire who was wearing his brown leather jacket. Handing him the sword she ordered "Take this and help me get him to the car."

Sensing the urgency in her voice and noticing they were the only ones in the bar, he reached down and picked up Adam. Putting him in a fireman's carry, he carried Adam to the car, depositing him in to the front seat before leaving. To maintain the Facade of being the big bad he could not allow anyone to see him helping the Scoobies.

Adam was still unconscious, mumbling in his sleep as he dreamed of a distant past, one that he had almost forgotten. While Willow drove them to Steve's house wondering why he had not recovered yet.

*****

In his delirium Adam's mind drifted back to a time when he had died the first time. When things became really weird. All of a sudden people were after him, wanting to kill him for no apparent reason. At first it was always one on one, which was how the game was meant to be. He only had to fight once so far and that was with an immortal that was twice his age and out of shape. The immortal made a very bad mistake in thinking that Adam was not battle tested and that was a mistake as he had been in more than one battle. But then along came a totally different type of enemy, a type that knew no code. A type who had came after him in a group of a hundred. He had been running from them for more then twenty days now when he found a small tunnel to slip into.

The tunnel had not been used in many years. Adam knew that it would be a great place to hide until they stopped looking for him, or at least passed him by so he could backtrack and lose them. It was not fear that drove him into the tunnel, but a healthy respect for preservation. Traveling deeper into the tunnel, he noticed that it gradually widened out, instead of getting smaller. At the end of the tunnel, or at least at the end of this tunnel about five miles in, was a great cavern with about ten other tunnels leading out of it. In the center of the cavern was a huge chair made of bones. Sitting on it was a Great Beast. Even sitting down, he could see that it was closer to ten feet tall than nine feet and that it had the head of a bull and the body of an Adonis. Around its waist was an animal skin, showing that it had some intelligence and a bit of modesty. Next to his seat was a great two-headed axe. As if feeling the presence of Adam, the creature lifted itself out of its seat and turned to him, picking up the axe.

"You are in violation of the crossroads, Human." The beast challenged, although his voice was not that loud, the amphitheatre effects of the cave made it seem like he was yelling. "I will only give you one chance to turn back."

"With more than a hundred men looking for me back that way." Adam answered back, again the amphitheatre effects projecting the voice to make it ring out. "I think I would rather take my chances with you."

"Than you shall have the question. Answer it correctly and you can pass." The beast said as it stood up, picking up the ax. "Answer it wrong and you will die."

"What is this life threatening question?" Adam asked, moving closer to the beast while pulling out his sword.

"How is Man's life like the Sun's journey around the sky?" The beast asked, stopping just in front of Adam.

"I have no idea." Adam replied as he swung his sword at the waist of the beast, carving a shallow groove across its stomach as the beast danced back out of the sword's path. "But then I really don't care either."

Swinging his axe, the beast caught Adam with the flat of the blade, throwing him across the cave to bang against the wall. Not giving Adam a chance to get set, the beast charged him with his head down, aiming his horns into Adam's chest. As the horns embedded into Adam, the beast raised its head, driving them through his body and killing him. With a toss of his head, the beast threw Adam's body into the bone pile that was being built for its bed. Looking over at the body, the beast sadly shook his head, walking back to his chair to once more sit in it and contemplate the way of it all.

An hour after the fight, the beast heard the sharp intake of breath of a human. Turning toward the sound, he was amazed to find that his latest victim was once again alive with a sword in his hand. Standing up from his chair and grabbing his axe he asked. "What manner of Human are you that you would be resurrected without help."

"I do not want to fight you again." Adam said, knowing that it would be a silly question to fight this huge Creature, especially being as weak as he was after dying. "I only came here to escape the head hunters."

"Who and what are you?" The Beast asked, looking at the now whole skin on Adam's chest where two holes had been not long ago.

"I... I don't know what I am." Adam replied, his voice holding a scared tint to it. "All I know is that a group of men are chasing me to make me an ornament on their wall."

Looking at Adam and feeling that he was telling the truth, the beast motioned toward a space in front of his chair. Another chair appeared but this one was made of wood and leather. The beast offered. "Sit and rest for a while, and we shall talk."

"Who and what are you?" Adam asked, taking the seat. He was astounded when a table appeared before him, set with a plate of meat, bread, and mead in large mugs.

"I am Borah the Minotaur." The Minotaur answered as he took his seat, taking the bigger of the two big mugs and placing it to his lips. "I have been charged to care take the passage between your world and others, stopping travelers from venturing into one or the other."

"They call me Methos." He introduced himself, drinking from the mug and realizing that was the best mead he had ever tasted. He took another long, deep drink. "I only know that I cannot really die. Though I have been killed more times than there are days in one cycle of the moon. But I do not wish to be anybody's trophy."

"So what should I do with you, Holikade?" Borah asked, leaning back in his chair and having thought about what Adam had said.

"I was hoping to stay in this cave until they left." Adam said, also relaxing now that he knew that they would not have to fight again. Pointing to the other tunnels, he went on. "Unless you will grant me passage into those."

*****

Part 8: Enter The Rainbow Archer And Friend
(The Elven Answer To JP Withers)

Condor's Home
Northern Faerun

The room was silent for a few minutes after hearing Lark's story. Then Arrin stood up and turned to his host. "I am sorry that I must make this a short visit, Condor. I must go; there is no telling what a Silerwor could do to this other plane. It must be stopped before it causes too much damage. There is no telling what kind of backlash it would have on our plane."

Standing up, the fighter Razor said, "I will go with you, you may need someone to watch your back."

"No Razor, this is something I better do on my own. However, if you're free for the next few days, I would like you to watch over my city as the Captain of the Guard. I will be putting a Doppelganger in my place until I get back."

"Just be sure you make it back." Condor said in a fatherly tone. Arrin was his first students and, even though he could not reach the "Mage" level, for a dabbler he was one of the best that Condor had ever seen, often making his own spells when something more traditional would not work for him.

"Other planes can be tricky," Arrin stated from experience, having traveled them before following fleeing Drow elves. Thinking over a list of things he should take with him, he went on, "Condor, I don't know when, or even if, I will be back. So if you don't mind, keep an eye on my Magic books, those that I don't take with me that is. If some of my spells fall in the wrong hands, all hell will break loose. Literally."

Knowing of some of the more powerful spells in his books, Condor agreed to take the books from the cave and made ready to go with Arrin. After saying his good-byes he nodded to the girl, who waved her hand. The room began to shift. When the blur left their eyes, Condor, Lark, Arrin, and Solace, the girl, were all in a large cave. The cave was close to four thousand feet in diameter; with smooth walls in the ceiling was a perfect circle, blown out at the top to let the natural light in. Around the walls, categorized in type, were weapons, armor, cloaks, jewelry, and some very odd items, like a pair of claws and a well. Over in a small cove, on a podium was a very large book. All around it, stacked in neat piles, were more books. A golden light surrounded them. In the middle of the floor was a large pile of riches, including Gold, Platinum, Diamonds of every color and size, and a few scrolls. The top of the treasure was flat and smooth.

Walking over to the mound, Solace climbed on top of it and laid down, almost instantly turning into a young Amethyst Dragon. The sight of her changing into such a large creature momentarily shocked Lark. < The stories about Arrin were true then, > his brain registered as he took control of himself. He followed the others to a small room in the back. Stopping at the door, he looked up to a small plaque that had writing in Elvish. He translated it to mean, "Time is money, don't waste mine."

"These are the only things I will be taking with me. The rest, if I don't return in 3 years, is yours. Except that which makes up Solace's bed." Arrin was saying from behind a desk, where he was writing on a small piece of parchment. Saying the last with a smile, he passed the list to Condor before going on. "Condor, if something does happen to me on this trip, I want your word that the Hidden Valley will be taken care of."

"You don't even have to ask, Pac." Condor replied, using his pet name for Arrin. Looking over to Lark, he went on. "Will I have to erase your memory about this place, or do I have your word you will not speak of it outside of this place."

"You have my word." Lark mumbled as he looked around. < Who would believe me? >

Packing the things he would need in three large backpacks, taking a couple of bags of holding just in case. Arrin went over the list with Condor one more time. "Ok Condor, here is what I am taking. Traveling books 1, 3 and 8, twelve scrolls containing healing, three scrolls of return, a scroll of lightning, 1 box containing 10 vials of healing, a box containing 5 vials of antidote, and 5 vials of acid, a couple of empty bag of holding just in case they work, and my bow along with 20 silver arrows. If I need more, I will make them as I go. Along with the standard camping bag, can you think of anything else?"

"You will need something to barter with. I would take some extra gems or diamonds," Condor replied, knowing what he took in his adventuring bag. Looking Arrin over he went on in the same concerned voice. "Arrin you must take time to talk to Corellon, have him release those powers that you gave up so long ago, your bow is nothing more than a standard bow, even though in your hands it is still a powerful weapon, it is only a bow and will not be able to protect you from some of the things you encounter. I know that you promised that you would not release your full destructive force any more after the Drow wars but you are going up against the last remaining Silerwor for all we know, and we both know that to live as long as he or she has that Silerwor must be very powerful."

"I will ask him when and if I need it, I believe that between the bow and my spells I can take care of the Silerwor and that is all I really intend to accomplish this trip." Arrin replied picking up the bow, moving over to the center of the cave before going on. "Solace are you ready to go?"

"Ready," Solace replied as she walked over in her human form. "The doppelganger will take your place the minute we leave."

Knowing that Arrin and Solace would need to save their spell energy, Condor cast the teleportation spell that took them to the portal that would lead them to the Silerwor. Before stepping into the portal, Arrin turned to Condor and said. "Three years, Condor. That is all I allow myself to take care of this problem. If you do not hear from me before the end of that time, don't send anyone after me, just carry on and take over the Hidden Valley."

"If anything happens to you," Condor replied, a grim tone to his voice, "There will be no place for the Silerwor to hide, for your friends would not take your death lying down."

"Take care, Condor," Arrin replied as he stepped though the portal, an unfamiliar swelling in his chest beginning to form.

*****

Sewers below Willies bar

Waking up with a start Drake took a quick look around to find out where he was, he did not remember much after seeing Screw grab the ageless one from behind, deciding to let Screw drain a few minutes of life from him before taking his head, he watched as Screw became drunk with the energy that he drained from the bottomless well that belonged to Immortals. He remembered starting to move in to take the ageless ones head when his vision went black and now he woke up here in this strange place. He was not sure how he got here, only that he was and now with Screw laying across from him still in the drunken stupor he slowly looked around trying to figure out where here was.

The walls were smooth and bulged almost like a tunnel only it was perfectly round a small stream ran down the middle moving as if it was headed down yet he did not detect any major slope so he figured that the slope that made the water run was back the way from which the water came from. Going over close to the water he took a quick sniff and discovered that it was rainwater. Reaching his hand in he washed his face more to wake him up than the though of how dirty he must be. Using his hands as a cup he picked up some water and splashed it into Screws face hoping to wake him from the stupor. Seeing him more then opening his eyes Drake then moved back and waited for Screw to wake up.

"What in Tarterus happen?" Screw demanded as he sat up looking around to get his baring. "Where are we?"

"I don't know," Drake replied also looking around puzzled. "But where ever we are we better find a way out and right now."

With out further discussion as one they both turned west and started down the tunnel following the flow of the water. After traveling about a hundred yards they came to a place where the suns rays were beating down into the tunnel. Looking up Drake noticed that there was some type of opening up above only there was a lid of some type blocking the exit with two holes in it. Moving up to the lid, Drake lifted it but when he saw a fast moving huge object coming toward him he closed it and jumped down saying. "I think it would be wise for us to stay down here for a while."

Moving down the tunnel they noticed that the openings were placed about two hundred yards apart, and always with the same strange lid. As they moved toward the center of town the walls of the tunnel became larger and wider, there were two opening that were larger than the small holes that were always placed above the tunnel. Finally they came to a large cavern, the walls were all as smooth as the tunnel only here the room was square, with sharp defined corners. In it there were three openings to leave, two big doorways and a small opening above what looked like a large square pool with stagnant water. Placed in the center of the room were half dozen chairs facing the small well, for being underground the room was neat and clean, to the right of the smaller opening was a set of shackles placed for holding a person in place.

Though the place felt good to him, Drake was a bit uncomfortable and pushed on, followed closely by Screw who also felt the unusual evil in the room. As they moved farther through the tunnel Drake turned as if pulled by an unseen force toward the east into a passage that had a slight upward climb to it. As they walked up the passage they noticed a single door leading into a crypt of some type that had been used by someone as a hovel leaving their blankets and cloths thrown haphazardly around the room. The room had long been abandoned apparent by the rat droppings and the chewed blankets.

"We will use this as our home for now," Drake said kicking a blanket out of the way causing a rat to run for another part of the room. "We will just keep it quiet until we find out what is going on here. Than we will make plans to feed."

"I think we should grab one of those ageless ones and bring it down here for us to live off of for a while." Screw replied as he started to clean the crypt. As Drake walked around the walls making sure they would not be disturbed.

*****

Between Worlds
Minotaur Caves

Stepping out of the portal Arrin, Solace and Lark found themselves in a great cavern. There were ten other tunnels leading out of it. In the center of the cavern was a huge chair made of bones and leather. Noticing the shocked look on the faces of both Arrin and Solace, Lark explained. "This is the Crossroads of the plains, normally someone of Lord Borah's blood will be sitting there. That it is empty can only mean one thing, something is terribly wrong."

That said, Lark took off at a run through one of the tunnels hoping that the others could keep up with him. The passage went east for about a mile before it opened up into another great cavern, this cavern was a thriving community of Minotaurs. However Arrin could feel the fear that radiated with in the area. Looking to where Lark went into an opening in the wall of the cave, Arrin turned to Solace and asked. "Can you feel the fear here?"

Turning to Arrin, sorrow showing in her eyes Solace replied, "I can both smell fear and death here Arrin, death of the young."

"That would be the two killed by the Silerwor," Arrin replied as his eyes drifted to a young male who was looking at him with suspicion and hatred. "Lets just stay here until the leader comes to us."

"Why are we here?" Solace asked knowing a bit about the markers and what they meant to Arrin. "How would these people have picked up one of your markers?"

"Just after I had quit hunting the Drow," Arrin replied, remembering back to when his life was more hectic and adventurous. "I was searching for people with whom to trade. My city was thriving at the time and we had more grain and food than we could ever manage to eat. I had just left my group when a bounty hunter who had been tracking me as The Angry One decided to make his move. He shot me with a poisonous dart, but luck was with me as I fell into a hole. Next thing I remember is waking up in a bed made of leather and feathers. It was the softest place I had ever slept in so I thought Corellon called me home. That was before Borah, a giant Minotaur, was standing over me asking me how I was. They saved my life, so I gave them a marker and told them that if they ever needed help that they could call on me. That was over a hundred years before I met you and we have been together for close to four hundred years, so I am figuring that what ever trouble they are having it must be big."

Walking into the center of town where it appeared that they had their meetings, Arrin and Solace stayed together. His eyes were constantly going back to the Minotaur whose eyes screamed with hate and prejudices. Arrin never understood how a being could hate everyone who was different, the world was just too large, and when you avoid those who are different you end up missing out on a lot of information that could prove important later on in life. Waiting for Borah, the leader of the clan, the two let their eyes drift around the compound. Noticing that there were only warriors present, a very uneasy feeling settled in Arrin's stomach.

"Hail, Borah, I am the Rainbow Archer." Arrin introduced himself as be watched the biggest Minotaur he had ever seen walk toward them. "First let me state my sorrow at having heard about the loss of your children."

"Thank you Archer." Borah acknowledged the greeting from Arrin. Not knowing any other name given to the Rainbow Archer he used that one as a title. "Long ago my people helped you heal from wounds that would have killed you. At that time you gave my grandfather your marker. You told him that if ever we needed you all, we had to do is to send it to you and you would take care of any problem we had. Does this promise still stand?"

"Your people helped me when I was hurt and weak," Arrin replied, knowing that this part of the meeting must be very diplomatic. Looking Borah over, Arrin when on. "All you need to do is inform me what I am to do for you."

"The Silerwor went though to the plain called Earth. Our history tells us this world is where they originally came from. However, I do not believe that they have a defense from them. Legends say that you have had more experience with the Silerwor than any one alive. Since we have monitored that world we know that our race could not go there and be unobserved we need someone like you who will do it for us." Borah said after they shook hands, moving to a table where they both sat and drank some wine. Watching Arrin for some type of response, which he had not detected yet he went on. "Normally I would ask you to bring him back alive to stand justice, however his crime is the murder of two children. I for one do not want to see him again, EVER."

"I understand," Arrin took the death sentence for the Silerwor with out batting an eye. Standing up he motioned for Solace to come to him as he went on. "What do you know about the place that he went to? And what am I too expect there?"

"Earth is a very strange place. They have wagon's that roll without the assistance of horses, strange birds fly making all type of noise." Borah started handing Arrin a fat scroll. "This is what we have noticed in the past 100 years, which is when most of the big changes have been made. The place you are going to gate into is on top of a weakening in the dimensional wall between themselves and what is known as hell. Hell is a place where demons thrive. You name the spook and you will find it here. Most are vampires. They are not like the one's you will see on Toril, these suck the blood of their victims. They are a threat to all that is good, but I am more concerned about the Silerwor. Kill it and then you can return."

Taking the scroll, Arrin and Solace followed the young Borah to the portal that the Silerwor had ducked out into. Before they could step through Borah asked. "Are you sure it is wise to take her with you?"

Looking over Borah with a faint hint of amusement he replied. "Could you leave the breath in your body behind? Could you leave your heart? No friend where I go, she will go."

"You're mated then?" Borah asked confusedly. For he, like the older Borah, had the gift of true sight and could plainly see that she was a young adult dragon.

"We are." Solace replied for Arrin, looking at the Minotaur with steady hazel red eyes. "We are mated but we are not lovers."

"Though keeping it like that is very hard." Arrin whispered into Solace's ears making her blush. Speaking up he went on. "What she means is that though our love is not the physical type of love, mentally and emotionally we are very much in love. So we are mated."

"I think I understand that." Borah replied as he opened the portal. Stopping them one more time before they went through, he said. "They have not had Dragon's on earth in close to six thousand years, please be careful."

"We will." Solace replied stepping though the portal following Arrin.

*****

Part 9: Research Party
(Methos Is Sleeping On The Job, And Xander Finds An Enemy Where He Least Expects It)

St Wolf's house
20 minutes later

Honking the horn even as she was pulling into the driveway at Steve's house, Willow quickly glanced over to the still unconscious Adam stark fear in her eyes. He had been out close to twenty-five minutes and it had never taken this long for any of them to stay unconscious. Seeing first Faith then Larry come to the window at her insistent honking she stopped the car making sure she put the parking break on as the driveway was up hill, she jumped out and raced over to the passenger side throwing open the door she tried to lift Adam out.

*****

Hearing the horn outside and not sure who it was, Faith and Larry stood up from the table that they were playing cards at and rushed to the main window and looked out. Seeing Willow trying to manhandle Adam out of the car, Larry turned and called for Xander who was in the kitchen making him self a sandwich.

Opening the door both boys started for the car at the same time, Xander not having seen Willow pull up grabbed up a Glock 21 on his way to the door keeping it hidden behind his leg out of plain view. Seeing what was happening he pushed the gun under his belt behind his waist and advanced to help Larry who was already helping the unconscious Adam out of the car.

"What happen?" Faiths asked pulling the now crying Willow away from Adam, letting the guys pick him up and carry him to the house. "What is wrong with Adam?"

"I don't know," Willow replied as she started to recall what happen in Willy's bar. Trying not to leave anything out incase something was important. While following the guys into the house.

Placing Adam on the couch Xander facial expression turned thoughtful as if he was trying to remember something that he had read or heard. Then it hit him a memory from a book that he read and something that Shaw had told him. Turning to face Willow he asked. "Willow, did you just say that he grabbed Adam and then Adam became weak?"

"Yes that is basically what happen." Willow replied wiping her eyes and looking at Xander confusingly she asked. "Why?"

"It may be nothing," Xander replied still thinking, wishing that he were home near his books. "Then again we may be in a lot trouble."

"What are you talking about Soldier boy," Faith asked, her eyes on Xander.

"I read something like what Willow is describing in one of the books that I read about Shaw's world." Xander replied looking at Faith still recalling everything he had heard. "I believe what Willow was describing was a Torilian Vampire, Shaw herself was attacked by one. They drain the life force out of the victim not just the blood."

"There was another one with him." Willow said remembering back to the bar. "The second one just watched though as if studying the effects. He was smiling."

"But he did not touch Adam?" Xander asked, feeling for and finding a pulse trying to make Adam comfortable as possible he laid him down took off his shoes and put a blanket over him. Turning back to the group he asked. "Thing is what happen to them after Willow left the bar."

"I don't know but when I cast the spell I heard the neck snap of the one who watched." Willow replied. "What are we going to do?"

"Look guys I have a book that tells a bit about them at home." Xander said as he walked out the door heading for the car that they used while Steve was away. While wishing the others were here however they were all off visiting or taking some type of vacation. Buffy and Steve were in Hawaii, Giles and Jenny were staying in Seacouver, Washington for a meeting of the Society of Watchers, Robin, Amy and Shaw were all somewhere up north visiting family and Kendra was in Jamaica re-introducing herself to her family, Oz was at the school library locked up for the full moon. After mentally clicking off where they all were he added. "Why don't you all look for anything that Shaw had written on Toril. I am sure she has something here about them."

As Larry and Willow went about gathering the books and notes from the Library where Shaw did her writing, Faith slipped into the kitchen and made a pot of coffee and started making some sandwiches. Getting ready for a long night of research.

*****

"Shit!" Larry shouted after about two hours of research finally slammed one of the books shut a look of pure disgust on his face. "The only thing I can find is that damn passage that reads like the Bionic man opening. "Vampires are more stronger, powerful, quicker, and deadlier then any we have seen""

"Cryptic much?" Faith asked imitating Cordelia's voice perfectly. Picking up another book she went on. "What's the matter beefcake, research mode has you wishing you were out fighting?"

"You can say that," Larry huffed as he picked up another book looking over to Willow who was doing research on the Internet he asked. "How about it on your side Willow?

"Nothing here either." Willow replied taking a quick glace over to Adam with worry in her eyes, as she noticed that he still had not moved from the spot that Xander put him in. "I hope Xander can find something."

"Hold on," Faith said as she looked over a passage that was in the book that she was reading. "The word Head Hunter is mentioned here in Michael's Demons:

"Through out the entire world there are no creatures of the Demons more feared than the headhunters.

"These creatures were humans chosen to become immortals, but before their immortality was triggered demons approached these humans and offered them both, increased abilities, especially strength and speed, and immortality. These humans, not knowing that they were destined to live forever anyways, were tempted, and often corrupted, by the demons. They defiled the essence of the immortals-to-be, requiring them to add blood, heart and brain of other intelligent beings to their regular diet, but also giving them some of the traits of the vampires.

"The exact ritual of change is not known and there are indications that it was lost even among the demon lords. How this came to be is a mystery. The ritual in itself also seemed to be flawed. Beside the death of the immortals-to-be, that gave them their immortality, and the loss of soul during that process, that prevented them from acting as the force of light they were supposed to be, that were most certainly planned effects of the ritual, it also robbed them of any memory before their death during the ceremony, any natural magical ability, making it impossible for them to ever learn any magic, and made them vulnerable to holy powers, may they be manifested through holy items, relicts, symbol or servants of the gods. Because of this it is a common belief that the ritual was not as much a pure defilation of an immortal-to-be, but either a melding of an immortal-to-be with a vampire or a ritual that completed the turning process before allowing immortality to activate.

"Whatever took place; their vulnerability to holy powers is not nearly as great as that of vampires. They cause displeasure, can seriously harm them and even dispel them from the vicinity of the source of holy energy, but they cannot kill them. Indeed the only methods to kill these abominations are the same that work on immortals, namely decapitation, pulverization, disintegration and combustion.

"To add to the already great danger they represent, they retain the ability to sense Quickenings, the essence of immortals, without their own quickening, that is believed to still be part of these creatures, being sensible. If they can absorb the quickening of immortals and get any use from them, like other immortals do, is not known, but some reports about these creatures suggest that this in fact is true. The opposite on the other hand is known to be true. Should a Headhunter be killed, his quickening will be released, just as that of every other immortal. Some sources report strange behavior of the immortals that absorbed such quickening, sometimes lasting for only a short while, sometimes being the beginning of a change in personality. If this is what became known as a 'Dark Quickening' is not known, as between the last mentioning of Headhunter's and the first use of the term 'Dark Quickening' more than one millennium passed. And with the Headhunter's presumably extinct so long ago, it is unlikely that this question will ever be solved.

"A warning for those who seek to complete the information about the creatures of darkness, all seers that ever tried to prey into the history of Head-hunter's either died or were permanently confused. How or why this happens is not known, but is believed to be linked with the loss of the ritual that once created the Headhunter's. Head-hunter's themselves are not the danger in this, as there are reports about seers having reviewed some battles between Head-hunter's and immortals or other creatures by looking for the immortals or humans involved.

"Though not much experimentation could be done with these creatures, a group of witches had contained a Headhunter for some time. Drawing upon the research they did on Vampires they tried to restore the soul of the Headhunter. While the report is not easily understandable it is agreed that the quickening caused a feedback that killed the witches attempting this spell. But like the creation of Headhunters this event is protected from scrying. Theories range from the Headhunter still having their soul but it is either contained or defiled to their soul having been destroyed.

"You said he called one of them Headhunters. If one of these things are what Adam and you came across Xander is right, we are in trouble." Faith said after reading the passage. Looking at the worry in everyone's eyes she added. "Uh guys, I think it is time we call in the big guns."

*****

Xander's home
15 minutes later

Arriving home Xander silently slipped in the back door and down the hall to his bedroom he had noticed that his father's car was in the driveway, and hoped that he would not have to talk to him tonight. Starting toward his room Patches called to him. //Hey your dad is in your room. Been in there for a while, and he is drinking.//

"What's up dad?" Xander asked his voice as cold and distant as the icecaps in the artic. Noticing when he stepped into his room that his father was sitting on his bed with a journal in his hand. The journal was still locked and it was not a normal lock so he had no fear that his father found a way to open it yet. Stepping aside he let Patches in the room so he could get to the litter box that was in the adjoining bathroom. "What are you doing in here?"

"Boy I want the truth," His father demanded his voice slurred showing that he was inebriated. Throwing the book on the bed he shakily got to his feet matching Xander's own 6' height he went on. "What are you about when you're out all night? Don't try to tell me that you are studying, an idiot like you don't know how to study."

Shaking his head knowing that his father was going to go off, Xander waited for the inevitable as he picked up a few paperback books that they would need to research the Torilian Vampire. All the while trying to tune out his fathers demands and accusations, his own mind seething with questions that he had asked every since he could remember, questions that he still could not talk to Dr. Green about. Questions that he himself did not realize the meaning of. Questions like: don't you know I love you Dad? Or why can't you just stop drinking and accept me for who I am.

"Boy is you even listening to me?" Mr. Harris yelled becoming angrier as he realized that his son was not listening to him. "Don't ya have any respect for your mother or me?"

Letting his mind drift, to get away from his fathers abusive attitude Xander tried to think of happier times, something that has not been around since he and Willow played in the basement as children. Turning toward the door after getting the books he needed, without saying a word to his father he started to walk out. Wanting to be gone from the house as fast as he could he mistakenly turned his back to his father.

Seeing what his alcohol induced mind told him was a sign of disrespect Mr. Harris grabbed Xander's shoulder from behind and yanked, caught totally unaware by his fathers sudden outburst, as it had been a long while since his father physically touched him. Xander was shot back against the opposite wall where his head and back hit it hard his mind drifted off as he slid down the wall leaving a small trail of blood as he went.

*****

Patches was just coming out of the bathroom trying to give the father and son some privacy. Feeling that Xander was getting ready to leave Patches was just making his way out of the room to see Mr. Harris make his move but realizing that he was too late to stop the attack Patches instantly changed to his other and jumped trying to lessen the blow that Xander would get when hitting the wall, again he was too late feeling that he was letting his companion down Patches took a guard position over Xander his yellow eyes drilled into a shocked Mr. Harris's eyes who was just starting to move in to kick Xander again.

Mr. Harris appeared to be trying to go two ways at once when he saw the six-foot long extinct Saber Tooth Tiger looking at him with those dead yellow eyes. The sudden appearance of the cat shocked Mr. Harris to soberness looking quickly around for something to use to defend himself while backing up into a corner. As Patches moved toward him herding him away from the door and into a corner.

Even as Xander went down the wall and as he transformed into his other, Patches transmitted at the highest level he could. //THIS IS PATCHES, SEND SOMEONE HERE FAST, XANDER IS HURT.//

The transmission was so strongly sent that all of the Guardian Spirits heard it even the ones who were sleeping. Duke who was about eight miles away with Randi and Brian also heard the call and he quickly woke up the other two telling them that Xander was in trouble and they had to leave quickly.

*****

//Willow, You must go to Xander's house he is in trouble.// Lassie send to Willow who was sitting at the computer at Steve's house looking at Faith dumbfounded after she read the information of the headhunter. Receiving the message a shocked expression crossed her face.

The shocked looked passed quickly as she stood up and sent back. //What happen?//

//I am not sure yet,// Lassie replied as she was patrolling the house. //Patches is now in his Guardian form and is too upset to talk. I am moving around the house to make sure we are secure as the rest of the guardians are.//

//Thank you Lassie,// Willow replied standing up. Quickly glancing at Adam and seeing that he was still unconscious she looked at the other two and ordered. "Larry stay here and keep an eye on Adam. Faith come with me something happen to Xander."

Even though he would have much rather gone with the girls to make sure that Xander was ok, Larry knew a command when he heard one and nodded his head. He watched as the two girls left the house wondering what else could happen tonight. Walking over to Adam, Larry put on a new cold compress and went back to the book rereading the passage about the headhunter.

*****

At Xander's house Patches was still watching Mr. Harris who was cowering in the corner with the only weapon he could find, a small stick with a pointed tip. Mr. Harris did not know what the beast was doing in the house or where it came from but this was not something in his mind, that cat was real and those large teeth were very real as well. He watched now puzzled as the cat moved over to Xander and lick his face. Prelude to taking a bite jumped into Mr. Harris's now sober mind. Realizing that the cat meant to eat Xander and probably himself, a fear gripped at his heart a dark stain started to grow in the crouch of his pants and a very awful smell emitted from the same region.

//Come on Xander, I know your in there wake up.// Patches sent to Xander in a very soft message, purring as he licked Xander's face again. Looking disgustingly over to Mr. Harris who was now balled up in the corner a wooden steak in his hand. Patches could smell the fear and the excretion coming from him, Patches tried to mentally send to him. //If you hurt Xander I swear by my bond to him that you will be nothing more than excretions in two days time.//

Turning back to Xander knowing that Mr. Harris was not going anywhere he licked him again sending to Lassie a tinge of worry in his thoughts. //Lassie, Where is Willow?//

//She is on her way.// Lassie replied as he relayed the request to Willow. //She says they are only two minutes from you.//

//What happen?// Dukes strong voice came cutting into the other two guardian's conversation. //Is Xander all right?//

//Duke!// The name was called out by both Guardians at the same time the feeling of relief was plain in the sending. Patches send came over Lassies as he went on. //Xander is unconscious his own father attacked him.//

Taking command of the situation if only for the Guardians as the leader of the "pack" Duke send a general message to the other Guardians. //Everyone stand down. Sherlock, is Joyce home?//

//Yes she is Duke// Sherlock replied, making his way to Joyce's room. //What do you need?//

//Wait till Willow gets there// Duke replied as Randi pulled up into the driveway at home. //If they cannot revive Xander wake her and get her over there as soon as possible.//

*****

"Xander," Willow called out in a worried voice as she fell to her knees next to him. Seeing the blood she grabbed the pillow from his bed and used it to stop the flow that was still coming from the cut in the back of his head. Feeling for a pulse and quickly finding it she breathed a sigh of relief. Knowing that Faith would handle anything coming at them she set about to emitting first aid to Xander, calling back to memory everything that Steve and Frank had taught her.

Facing off with Mr. Harris, Faith let Willow take care of Xander. Her chocolate brown eyes bored deep into his, her voice was cold and emotionless as she announced. "Okay, asshole, I hope you got your will made out. If something's wrong with him you're wasted."

"Sab...Sab....Sabe.." Mr. Harris babbled not being able to finish the though that he was trying to get out. Patches had now left the room going back into the bathroom where he changed back to his normal self and left the bathroom from the other door.

"Oh I would not worry about that." Faith replied the smile on her face showing the disgust and contempt she felt for the man cowering in the corner. "You should be praying that he is ok."

"Move out of my way you little bitch." Mr. Harris barked as he pushed himself out of the corner. Finding his courage now that what he thought was a saber-tooth tiger was out of the room, believing that she would back away from him because of his age and size. In this he was sorely mistaken for Faith did not budge. This was the first family she had known since she was old enough to remember. The last person she considered family was Linda Pryce, and now that woman was dead, killed by Vampires. Steve and Buffy took her in, tearing her away from the dictating and demanding eye of the Watchers and giving her a semi if not full normal life. Now she could have friends who would love her and her them. There was no way she was going to let this man even though he was Xander's father anywhere near him.

Letting him come closer Faith knew that she would have to be careful not to hurt him too bad, after all he was no a demon, well not in the strictest since of the word and besides Cordelia would want a piece of him, too.

Mr. Harris still believing that this was just some girl albeit a very good looking one. He moved forward to push her out of the way to get at this boy. The boy he could not stand, the boy his wife of seventeen years tried to pass off as his son. He knew that Xander was not his son even though his wife had no way of knowing it, there was no way Xander could be his son, for he was sterile, and had been that way since birth.

As Mr. Harris stepped toward Faith, she moved with the speed of a Slayer. Dropping down to one knee she spun around sending one leg out in a spinning sweep she took his legs out from beneath him. Not wanting to hurt him too bad Faith did the one move she knew that was sure to take him out of the fight before it got started and he got hurt.

"Help me out here Faith," Willow ordered a note of command in her voice as she finally stopped the bleeding. "We have to get him to a hospital, I think he has lost a lot of blood."

"Start praying mister," Faith growled as she turned from Mr. Harris who still had not tried to get up from the floor. Walking over to Xander, Faith bent down and picked him up with no help from Willow at all, carrying him like a baby despite his size. Looking over to Willow she simply said. "Slayer strength don't leave home without it."

Walking past Mr. Harris who was still on the floor, Willow fought back the urge to kick him even though he was already on the floor and picked up Patches on their way out saying. "I think we better take you with us."

//Tell the others we have Xander and are in route to the hospital.// Willow silently whispered to Patches as she cradled Xander's head in her lap letting Faith drive the car.

//Sherlock, wake Joyce have her meet the girls at the hospital, they will want a grown up there.// Duke ordered having heard Patches send. //I am sure that Faith and Willow can get him emitted their own way however it would look a lot better if someone older was with them.//

//She is on her way.// Sherlock replied after a few minutes. //Is he ok?//

//We don't know yet,// Patches replied feeling helpless //Willow is doing what she can but he looks weak.//

*****

Mr. Harris home

"Bitch get your ass in here. Mr. Harris called to his wife after taking a shower and putting on clean cloths. He was now sober but still very pissed off. "I want you to get in his room and throw everything he owns out on the front lawn."

"But..." Mrs. Harris replied meekly not wanting to bring her husbands fury down on her.

"Don't but me bitch." Mr. Harris screamed at the woman taking a drink from the bottle he kept in the room. "I don't want to see that bastard in this house again. I don't know how you expected me to love a punk who was not my son."

"He.." Mrs. Harris started to say but was rudely cut off by a slap in the face.

"He is not my son." Mr. Harris replied after slapping her across the face. "I can not have children and this lie has gone on far enough. Now do what I told you."

Hanging her head, for she could not say anything on her son's behalf without drawing attention that at some point in time she had to have cheated on her husband. Mrs. Harris hurried into his room and started to throw his things out the window after putting them in plastic bags.

*****

Patrolling the streets, Charlie and Spike were traveling by Xander's house when they saw a pile of bags on the front lawn and another bag being thrown out. Curious as to what was going on, Charlie stopped the car and both he and Spike moved in closer to hear what was going on inside the house.

"Bitch you had better be done before I get back from the liquor store." Mr. Harris called as he walked out the side door closest to the garage where the car was parked. "If not your things will join his."

Shaking their heads, the two vampires with souls waited until the car left the garage before they pulled the car into the driveway and started to load the bags in the car. Xander did not have a lot of stuff; mostly it was cloths and stakes with a few of Cassandra's books, all together there were only 4 large plastic trash bags. Not a lot when one stopped to consider that he lived in this same house all his life.

Leaving Xander's house Charlie drove to Steve's and knocked on the door knowing better than to try to enter with out announcing their presents first and wait to be invited in. They were both surprised when Randi answered the door with Brian and Larry standing just behind her. They did not expect Randi to be back for a couple of days yet.

"Hey lov," Spike greeted Randi as he noticed the worry etched on her face. "What is wrong?"

"Get in here Spike," Randi ordered stepping aside to allow both Spike and Charlie to enter before going on. "Have either of you heard about any new threats in town?"

"Well," Charlie spoke for the first time, "I heard someone saying the other day how they did not want to be around when the Slayer heard about the attack on the children, but they did not elaborate on that."

Explaining to the pair what had happen with Adam, Randi finished with. "I want you both to find out what the hell is going on."

"Let me empty my car first and I will be right on it." Spike replied as he started toward his car. "Is Xander here, he may want to help me."

"Why would he want to help you?" Brian asked standing near his sister, his mind going over the information that he has heard about the attack on Adam so far.

"Because it is his stuff." Charlie replied also turning to help Spike. "We were patrolling down that side of town when we saw his mother throwing his things out the window."

"Put it in the garage for now." Randi ordered, turning back to look over Adam worry in his eyes. "We will work on that later."

Going back to Adam, Randi took a seat and put her head in his hands. Looking back up to Larry she said. "It is time we called Steve and Buffy back."

"Wait a minute luv." Spike replied having walked in just as Randi made her decision. "Why don't we hold on a few days and see what we can come up first. Call Raven to come look at Adam maybe he will have an idea to help Adam out."

"Well I guess there is no since in calling them home until we find out something definite." Randi relinquished as she picked up the phone to call the Raven's. "But I am calling Nick and Katherine and see if they will come over to look at Adam."

"I too am worried." Brian stated as he moved over to read the passage on the headhunter. "But calling them back home before we know anything will just interfere with there down time and they both need that."

//Xander is now in the hospital resting comfortably.// Duke broke in to the conversation. //Joyce is their taking care of the hospital papers. Faith is getting ready to call you.//

Picking up the phone on the first ring, Randi asked. "Is he ok?"

"Yes but I think we better get in touch with Cordelia and let her know he is in the hospital." Faith replied with a serious note to her voice. "She would never forgive us for not telling her."

"I will do that as soon as I get off the phone with the Raven's I want them to come over and look at Adam." Randi replied just before they hung up the phone. Turning to the others she said. "It looks like he will be ok."

*****

Part 10: Fast Food
(And Shaw Hunter Thought SHE Had Problems With Matchmakers)

Drake's Weapon
Abandon sewer station

Drake and Screw (his companion) were cleaning out the area, making it ready for their command center. All the while talking about what happen in the bar and what was said. Drake was thinking over the weakness he saw in the ageless one, he was a little taken back to bump into the same Immortal that trapped his race in the caves but took it as a sign from his Gods that they were behind him in his quest.

"I am telling you," Screw was saying as he pushed the old bed that was in the center of the room to one side to clear out an area for them to work out the plans that they would make to capture and destroy the Immortals. "Those Vampires were afraid of what ever the Slayer is, and even though they were lesser forms, they were in fact Demons afraid of it."

"I have forgotten what the Slayer is but we do not need to fear her." Drake replied, also moving things that had been used by the previous occupants. "I am willing to bet that we are stronger enemies than it has ever come across. I want to know what happen when you were draining that ageless one. What hit me?"

"I told you before I have no idea who hit us." Screw replied with a deep breath, thinking back to the bar he went on. "I was taking from a well that had no bottom it was intoxicating, are there really more like him?"

"As many as there was of my kind before we were lured into the caves." Drake replied looking over the area and please at what he saw, the power that came from this area was wonderful exhilarating like none he had ever felt before. "We will have to be careful from now on, he knows we are here, and he will be looking for us."

"What do you propose we do first?" Silerwor asked reclining against the wall now that the cleaning was completed. "His energy has left me wanting more. I am thirsty and need some nourishment."

"Lets us go, I need to find out what the situation really is here in this place." Drake replied, as he picked up his sword and strapped it to his back. Picking up a coat that was left by the previous occupants he went on, "One thing I did notice is that people do not carry weapons openly so we will have to be careful and get you something that will cover that sword of yours."

"We need to grab something to eat too." Screw replied looking Drake over, "You have not eaten since the Minatour children the other day."

"Yes I know, I am feeling hungry," Drake replied, walking to where an opening was he looked up to see that it was now dark outside. "Lets go, but don't make a scene. Find someone no one will miss, No children do you understand me?"

"Yes I understand," Screw replied starting his way up the ladder, calling back down to Drake who was getting ready to follow him he added. "If we don't find anyone we can always go back to that tavern."

"No," Drake replied now also on the ladder climbing up behind Screw. "Stay away from that tavern for the time being."

"But why?" Screws whined not understanding the reasoning behind Drakes sudden outburst. "He sold fresh blood there I am sure he will sell you brains or even a heart."

"We will not be going there because he is afraid of the Slayer," Drake calmly replied knowing that Screw did not have the mental capacity to figure out things like that. "I don't want him to talk to anyone or anything about us."

"Do you think the Slayer is like the Hunter?" Screw asked recalling the man who hunted the undead in Toril, while reaching down to help Drake out of the manhole cover. "I sure the hell hope not, he was relentless."

"I don't think it will be as bad as that." Drake replied as they headed down the alley, although they did not know it they were no longer in Sunnydale but in Cliffborn a medium sized suburb north of LA. As they moved down the alley their first realization was that it was going to be a lot easier than they though to grab someone to dine on. A smile came to his face as he saw all of the bodies in the alley. "I believe we are not going to have any trouble finding something to eat."

"That is assured," Screw said also looking at all the bodies looking for someone who was away from the others. "We can come here anytime we need food."

"No we will have to find two or three other places to work with." Drake corrected as they started down the alley, "We don't want to take from one place too much, less risk of us being mapped."

"Why so many precautions? Why worry?" Screw huffed, looking around the area indicating those who lay upon the ground. "No one is going to miss them."

"We will only take one each tonight." Drake ordered his voice sharp a warning in it. "I do not want anyone to come looking for us just yet."

"Ok," Screw grumbled, not liking the order but too afraid of Drake to do anything about it. Moving into a darker area quietly Screw knocked out two sleeping bodies and dragged them to the nearest manhole cover where he carried them down into the sewer.

Knowing Screw would not go against his order Drake left him to do the work as he moved on down to the alley drawn there by the lighted street ahead. He wondered what the world of his birth had become but on the other hand he didn't want them to know that he was there just yet. He had already made a mistake letting the Ageless One see him and was going to kill him, but then decided to see what Screw's drain would do to him.

*****

The Woman

The street he came out on was more of a sidewalk. Shade trees were in the center spaced out up and down the walkway, with benches under them. As it was still early evening the shops that lined both sides of the street were open with people walking up and down both sides.

At first he did not see anyone of worth, he knew better than to take people from a busy play like this, but when his eyes fell upon the woman he knew he had to have her, to possess her and not for feeding. She would be his mate.

The woman had a classic beauty about her, standing 5'4" with blond hair, which was tied up in a French bun allowing her deep calming crystal blue eyes to be seen. Even her loose fitting black slacks could not hide the woman's motion as she walked toward him. His eyes scanned over her from toe to face than down again, the man in him raised to the fore letting him know that even the evil in him could not drown out his basic instincts when it came to a woman, especially one of her caliber.

As she walked past he stepped into the street and followed her at a comfortable distance watching her walk trying to formulate a plan to get her alone. Following her for more than an hour without the chance to grab her, she finally went into a lot that had more strange wagons than people he knew his chance had come. She was near one of them now opening a door and putting in her packages, letting her close the door he moved in putting one hand over her mouth then using a bug stopper (a handheld leather bag filled with sand) he quickly brought it down on her head and knocked her out. Tossing her over his shoulders he made his way to the nearest manhole cover one he passed as he entered the lot.

Once getting her down to the bottom he ripped a piece of her shirt long enough to gag her and then another one long enough to tie her hands. This was something he had not done since his bounty hunter days, years before but it came back to him. As soon as he was down he called out to Screw and hearing his call he followed the sound of his voice back to him.

"What is she here for?" Screw asked noticing how Drake was being careful not to bruise her. Shaking his head as him memory recalled what happen last time Drake took a woman, they were on the run for a month after that one. "Can you be sure that she is not going to be looked for?"

"No, I can not," Drake, replied annoyed at Screws questions. Looking over the two that Screw had brought down with him Drake smiled then complemented. "You did well Screw, lets take them back to the den."

Lifting the two bodies over his shoulders, Screw let a slight smile spread across his face. Anytime he could cut into Drake's ego was a good time, the relationship between them was not one of mutual respect but of need, Drake needed Screw's speed and abilities as a true Vampire and Screw needed Drakes brains to keep away from the hunter, so Screw tried not to get on Drakes bad side.

Securing the woman to the bed, Drake turned back to drink from one of the bodies while taking out his knife looking across the body to Drake, he ordered. "She is not to be touched."

*****

Cordelia's House
Next morning

Cordelia and her father had just returned from their first Father-Daughter retreat at a prominent hotel in Palms Springs, California. After she entered her room she threw her suitcase on the bed and glanced at the light flashing on her answering machine. The light flashed in rapid succession five times before a short pause and the succession repeated. //Probably all from Xander,// she thought. She had promised her father that she would not talk to Xander for the whole weekend; after all this was their time together and it was only fair. In a way she was disappointed she had only five messages. Cordelia decided to take a shower before she listened to them. She turned on the shower, let the water heat up, and let her silk kimono slide to the floor as she stepped inside. She sighed as her muscles relaxed under the steady stream of soothing water. Then she smiled. It wouldn't be good to see Xander if she smelt like a road warrior.

After the shower, Cordelia looked at the digital alarm clock near her bed. It was almost eleven o'clock. The team was probably out on patrol. The Amazon fell onto her bed and arranged her 'fitness babe' body into a comfortable position before she reached over to hit the play button on the answering machine. The first three messages were from Xander as she had predicted. They were mostly what she had thought they'd be like, a lot of 'hummmm', and a few 'what ifs' but mostly just her honey trying to talk on the phone. Then the fourth message was from Willow. By the time the message was over Cordelia was dressed and flying out the door.

As she drove toward the hospital, her mind was in overdrive. The hospital? Xander? Although Willow had provided her an explanation, she still couldn't believe it. How could Xander be in the hospital? He was a highly trained warrior. As she pulled into the hospital parking lot, her mind had continued to analyze the situation but she was no closer to knowing what had happened.

Cordelia approached the reception desk and asked the woman sitting there, "Can you please help me? I'd like to know which room is Alexander Harris in?"

"Are you an immediate family member?" The woman asked looking Cordelia over. "Only immediate family is allowed in his room."

"I am his fiancée." Cordelia replied. She tried to keep her cool, but she was rapidly losing her patience. " Now will you please give me his room number?"

"I am sorry, ma'am, but hospital policies dictate that only immediate family members are allowed in patients' rooms." The nurse said as she closed the register book.

Cordelia stared down the nurse, gritted her teeth, and growled. "I know that your just doing your job; however, if you don't give me his room number, I'm sure your administrator won't like having the community hear that your hospital is insensitive to the needs of a woman who is concerned about the health and well-being of her man."

"Hey, girlfriend!" Cordelia whirled toward the familiar voice from down the hall and found Faith standing in the middle of the passageway with a cup of coffee in her hand. "Come on...he's in here."

She shot the nurse a frosty look, then approached Faith. "How is he?"

"I don't know, girl. He's been sleeping all night and the doctors' won't tell me anything. Been playing with the idea of throwing one of them against the wall but that won't do any good."

"Maybe my father can talk to them." Cordelia said as she bent down to kiss Xander on the forehead. She took the seat next to his bed and said, "I can't believe his father could have gotten the drop on him. I mean Xander is as quick on his feet as any of us."

"He probably didn't expect an attack from his father," Joyce Summers growled as she entered the room. She graced Cordelia with a maternal smile and softened her tone. "Hi, honey." Cordelia got up and gave Joyce a hug. As the two women embraced, Joyce said, "Face it--none of you would expect your own parents to attack you, especially from behind."

"That's true," Cordelia replied sitting next to Xander. "What can we do about it though?"

"What's to do?" Faith asked, not understanding what Cordelia had meant by her statement.

"I think we should call Social Service on Mr. Harris," Joyce said. "That way Xander will be away from him."

"Social Services doesn't give a rat's ass," Faith said with a snarl. "All they want to do is get a kid into the system. That's how they get paid. Once he's in, we might as well forget him. They'll slap so many restrictions on him he'd never be able to hang with us."

"No way, Joyce," Cordelia said, shaking her head. "Social Services is the last bunch we want involved with this. So we take care of this ourselves. No outsiders."

"Well whatever we decide to do we probably should wait until Dweeb-boy gets better." Faith observed then yawned. "Man...I'm beat! Ready to hit the road, Joyce?"

"Yes," Joyce said as she stood. "I have just enough time to take you home, then get back to work. Are you coming back tonight, Faith?"

"Yep," Faith chirped. "I'll take the night watch--that way Ball Breaker can go to school and her boy toy won't be left all by his lonesome."

"Thank you, CSB," Cordelia said, teasing her friend. "I'll see you tonight."

*****

As Joyce and Faith passed by the nurses' station, Faith's body stiffened. At first Joyce wondered what was wrong with her youngest girl until she saw Mrs. Harris standing on the other side of the station. The woman had just finished setting down a large manila envelope in front of the charge nurse when she noticed Joyce and Faith.

"You're Buffy's mom, right?"

"Yes," Joyce said. She noticed the swollen bruise under Mrs. Harris' left eye. "You're Mrs. Harris, right?"

"That's right." The woman picked up the envelope and handed it to Joyce. "I need to make this short because I have to get back to my husband before he gets upset any further. So here it is--my husband is not Alexander's father. In this envelope you will find everything I know about his real father. You will also find other papers that he is going to need to get by. It's not safe for Alexander to live at our house any more."

"Why not?" Joyce said, but Mrs. Harris waived her off.

"I'm...sorry," the woman turned, tears running down her face and hurried into the elevator. Joyce stood in silence for a few moments before she opened the envelope. She removed a stack of papers and flipped through them. Most of them were Xander's medical and dental records; however she did find his birth certificate. Joyce placed the documents back inside the envelope and walked over to the window to look for any sign of Mrs. Harris in the parking lot. Several minutes later, she saw the woman leave the hospital and climb into the passenger seat of a late model sedan. Then the car drove away. Joyce sighed and drew the documents from the envelope. She began to read them again. When she examined the birth certificate again, she barely heard Faith clear her throat.

"What've you got there?"

Faith's question jolted Joyce from her thorough review of the documents. "Hmmm? Oh...sorry, sweetie--I was just lost in thought." Joyce grimaced and said, "This stuff means they are kicking him out of their home and lives." Joyce pointed at the birth certificate and said, "This document shows that Mr. Harris never admitted to being Xander's dad. This," she waived another piece of paper in the air, "is a page out of Mrs. Harris's personal Diary, which talks about a Nick Fury. Seems they were college lovers. Then there is a two-page letter that is nothing more than verbal abuse against Xander which ends by telling him that his real father is Nick Fury, a man that she has not heard from since the night of his conception."

"Poor Dweeb-boy," Faith murmured. "What are we going to do about this?" she asked while she wiped a tear that ran down the side of her lovely face.

"We'll give him the envelope when he recovers and is discharged from here. Until then not a word, capiche?"

"I've got it covered, Joyce," Faith drawled and smiled at her Slayer-mother as the two women prepared to leave the hospital.

*****

St. Wolf Resident
3:30 pm

Brian answered the telephone by saying, "St. Wolf's resident...how may I help you?" His respectful voice belied the concern he had as his troubled gaze swept over the group standing around Adam. The Immortal was still unconscious after close to forty-eight hours. Randi had just left with Cordelia, so the only other people in the house were the Raven's, a mixed Immortal/Mortal couple that lived nearby. Randi had called them so they could examine Adam and lend a hand.

"Hello, young man." A woman said over the connection. "Is Sir Steven home?"

"No Ma'am," Brian replied. He wondered who was on the other end of the line. Whoever she was, he thought her voice was smooth as silk. "May I help you in any way?"

"Yes you may. Rather, I hope you can." The woman replied. "I need you to get a message to Sir Steven as quickly as possible. Tell him Lady Hargrove needs his assistance immediately."

"I will do it as quickly as possible." Brian started to reply but the line went dead before he could go on. He hung up the phone, started to write a note, then thought better of it. Brian picked up the phone and dialed the number to the hotel Steve and Buffy were staying.

*****

"Hello," Buffy answered as she picked up the phone that was on the table near the lounge chair she laid on. She had just climbed out of the pool and her blond hair was wet. Water droplets jealously clung to the material of her royal blue string bikini, which exhibited her pert and curvaceous body to its best advantage. She had already caught more than one person scoping her out.

"Hello, Buffy," Brian's voice came over the phone line causing her to sigh as he went on his voice serious and sincere. "I am sorry for disturbing your vacation, Buffy but I need to talk to Steve."

"Hold on, Brian." Buffy said. She called to Steve who was clowning around with Mulder and Dana in the pool. Everyone was having a great time, so she had to raise her voice to be heard over their raucous laughter. "Steve, it's Brian."

Buffy hid a small smile as she watched Steve begrudgingly get out of the pool. Her gaze slowly traveled over the length of his body as she followed the well-formed muscles starting at his neck down to his thighs. Once again, the Slayer thanked the Powers That Be for bringing him into her life. After she shook herself from her pleasant scrutiny of her boyfriend, the Chosen One noticed a few dark looks directed her way from jealous women, some her age, but mostly from older women.

// Let them think what they want.// she thought as she saw his face change while he talked to Brain. //He's with me now and that's all that counts at the end of the day.//

*****

Steve gave Buffy a tender kiss as he took the phone from her tiny hand. "Hello, Brian. Is something wrong?" He listened as Brian told him about the phone call. His eyes went blank as the smile vanished from his face. After Brian had finished, Steve somehow felt that he had held back something. "Is there more, Brian?"

He listened for a few more minutes as Brian told him everything he knew of what had happened in the last two days. When Brian got around to telling Steve about Xander being in the hospital and Adam being unconscious, Steve cut him off. "Stop all patrols, move operations to Joyce's house, and tell everyone to stay close to home. Have them check in with each other hourly; we'll be home as soon as we can. Good job, Brian. We'll see you soon. Bye."

He hung up the phone and turned to Buffy. "Pack your things; we're leaving immediately." He glanced at the FBI agents and said, "You two can stay as long as you'd like but something's come up and we've got to go."

"Is it the kids?" Scully asked as she climbed out of the pool, water droplets stubbornly clinging to her buxom body garbed in a black bikini. Her face clearly showed her concern. Mulder followed her out of the pool. Dana didn't wait for Steve's reply; she headed off after Buffy who was even now bouncing up the stairs toward the elevator to their room.

"Well," Steve drawled, clearly distracted by the movement of both Buffy's and Dana's asses as they climbed the flight of stairs. "Can you repeat the question, Mulder?"

"We're going with you." Mulder advised knowing that Scully would already be packing their things with Buffy. He caught the worried look in Steve's eyes and asked. "How bad is it?"

"From what I understand, Adam has been unconscious for about two days and Xander is in the hospital, but that's only part of the problem." Steve stated as he shook his head, his mind racing more than it ever had before. Seeing the puzzled look on Mulder's face he sighed. "A friend wants me to contact her immediately and this friend is not a person who's used to waiting."

"You've got a plane for us?" Mulder asked as they made it to their adjoining rooms. He pushed the door open and noticed Scully had already packed their things and was ready to go. "Something comfortable I hope."

"We'll see," Steve said as he pushed open the door to his and Buffy room and was greeted by a sight that made his skin crawl. Buffy was dressed in a split skirt with a loose fitting green blouse. Her legs were spaced about two feet apart, her face was ashen white, while her eyes were red as tears rolled freely down her cheeks. She held a phone to her ear. Realizing whom she must have been talking to, Steve muttered, "Aw shit."

"He's in the hospital," Buffy said as she hung up the phone. She kept her gaze on Steve as he entered the room. Her voice shook as she continued. "Will something like this happen every time we decide to get away?"

"We don't know all the facts, honey." Steve said. But he knew how she felt. He'd felt the same way more than once. The trick now was to stop her from falling into a depression. "We don't even know why he is in there, right?"

"No."

"For all we know, he was probably clowning around on his board, saw a pretty girl, fell off, and hurt himself."

"You're probably right," Buffy said with a smile as she finished packing.

Fifty minutes later the quartet had boarded a converted Fox class Lear jet and headed East toward California.

*****

She woke up from what had felt like a deep sleep. The woman tried to open her eyes but something blindfolded her, keeping them shut. Panic raced through her body as she realized that she was tied spread eagle across what smelled like a very dirty bed. Besides her head where someone obviously had struck her, she felt no pain. She was reasonably sure that she had not been maltreated, however when she tried to remember what had happened, she couldn't remember anything. Not even her name. That's when she started to scream.

"Be silent, woman!" A strong male's voice snapped at her. "It won't do you any good because no one can hear you."

Realizing this man held her life in his hands she calmed herself. She listened to the sounds around her, hoping to hear something that would help her get her bearings.

"That's better." The voice told her as she felt someone stroking her hair. The voice was sinister and foul. "Only two paths lie before you--Death or Obedience, do you understand?"

"Yes," The woman mumbled.

"Good." The voice drifted back to her from across the room as a blast of air fanned across her body when a door opened. The last words she heard before the door clanged shut were, "Your training will begin tomorrow."

*****

"Tabitha Stevens, the Eye on LA reporter from a prominent news channel, has been reported missing. She may have been abducted." As Willow and Oz cuddled on the couch of Willow's home, talking about the events of the past night, a news commentator droned in the background. Oz would have to go back to the School's library soon for the last night of the full moon. As they stood to leave, they watched the report as the commentator continued talking. "Sources say she was abducted while loading her trunk with her day's purchases at a local mall. Amazingly enough her trunk was still full when police arrived on the scene."

"The ironic part of this story is that she was working on a story about missing homeless people." A second commentator added tactlessly as she shuffled a stack of papers on her desk.

As the couple sat there stunned, the TV screen went blue and was shortly followed by the sign that indicated the channel had experienced technical difficulties. Then a commercial quickly took over from the dead air.

Oz and Willow looked at each other in stunned silence. It was Oz who was the first to speak. "Did she really say that?"

"Bet she's not on tomorrow," Willow replied. The little witch looked at her watch and noted that it was almost time to call Faith. The Dark Slayer was taking muster since Brian had relayed Steve's orders about staying close to home. Xander had woken up long enough for the Doctors to give him a thorough exam. They were satisfied there had been no permanent neurological damage. The doctors had told him that hospital policy dictated he remained overnight for observation. Returning to the present, Will asked, "What do you think the other part meant, the part about missing homeless?"

"The disappearances?" Willow nodded her head. "I can't believe its vamps. They haven't had a chance to recover in LA from our cleansing in July. Not enough time has passed."

"Then... who else would abduct homeless people?"

"Don't know...anything's possible." Oz muttered. "We'll let the Boy Scout know about it tomorrow."

*****

"So your saying someone or something is nabbing the homeless in LA?" Faith asked. The Dark Slayer restlessly paced the living room floor like a cage tigress. Willow had just told her about the reporter and now the two girls were analyzing the problem. "Might be vamps trying to raise their numbers. But we haven't heard anything about a new rash of fangboys and fanggirls partying down in the City of Angels, so that idea might be a bust."

"So we should wait and tell Steve about it when he comes in?" Willow asked, disappointment evident in her husky voice.

*****

Willy's Bar

The sun was lighting the sky with a false dawn when the last of his customers left for the day. Sweeping the floor, he considered how he could extract more money from his clientele. The upkeep of the bar since the bikers had started coming had risen plus Sunnydale police force had just hired three new officers and Willy knew 'as sure as that vampires existed' he'd have trouble with them.

Although Det. Stein was in charge of bringing the recruits around, Willy could tell that they were not impressed with Stein. The bartender carefully stored that information away for another day. Just by casually talking to them, Willy had learned enough to know that they weren't the same breed of cop as Stein. They wouldn't take cash to look the other way, unlike Stein.

All this was running though Willy's mind when there was a distortion in the corner, as two figures appeared to step out of the wall, shocking him back to the present. The pair stayed still as they studied him. The only problem with that was, although they could obviously see him as he stood under a light all he could see were two pairs of crimson eyes. They didn't blink nor did they turn from him, which infuriated him more.

"What do you want?" He yelled at the eyes even though a whisper would have served just as well. "I'm closed!"

As the pair stepped into the light Willy recognized one of them as a Elf, and he had reason enough to know what an Elf was since his run in with Shaw. Wondering if this one had anything to do with Shaw he decided to play it stupid. Having two Elves working together in Sunnydale would have to be very bad for his business.

*****

As they stepped out of the darkness into the illuminating glow of the only light left on, Arrin and Solace both took a slow look around. Seeing no one but the strangely dressed man who was shouting in jibberish in the room, Arrin decided to try and communicate with him through telepathy to find out what the man had yelled.

//What is it that you are trying to say// Arrin sent to Willy which made him stop for a second.

"I am closed." Willy replied, as he looked both Arrin and Solace over with care. "Who are you?"

//I am Pac.// Arrin told him using his favorite adventuring name. He did not know what magic's these people used and decided it was safer to keep his true name hidden until he knew what this world's magic was. The light in the room he passed off as a light spell that was cast upon the thing that was hanging from the roof. //Who are you?//

"I am the owner of this bar." Willy stated in a softer voice as he looked over the two now that they were in the light.

Arrin was dressed in a leather tunic with a matching pair of pants; both his pants and tunic was padded and carried studs on both sides. His bow was strapped to his back with a quiver tied to his left leg. Solace was dressed in a flowing dress with bright colors. Her hair was left to fall down half way down her back.

Since telepathy was not the most reliable communication they could use, Arrin cast a basic translator spell so he, Willy, and Solace could understand one another. "Where are we?"

"You're in my bar." Willie replied, realizing that they did something so he could understand them.

"Where are we?" Arrin asked but did not give him time to ask the question again. What is this world called?"

"You are in Sunnydale." Willy answered looking the two over. "The world is Earth. Where the hell are you from?"

"That is not important." Arrin replied as he looked around the bar, the evil present in the room made his skin crawl, but he was not worried. "Tell me about your world."

"Whatever I tell you will cost you." Willie replied with a greedy grin on his face. "First lesson, nothing in this town is free."

Arrin and Solace exchanged a tired look as Arrin reached in his pouch and extracted a gold piece. He flipped the gold coin to Willie as he said. "If your information is good there are two more just like it for you."

"What do you want to know?" Willie asked as he looked over the gold coin that was a bit larger than a half dollar piece. "For two more of these, class is in."

"What kind of town is this?" Arrin asked as Solace opened what appeared to be bottle of mead, but after taking a sip she spat it out and put the bottle down. Her antics caused Arrin to smile as he picked up the bottle and smelled it. His face took on a sour look as he asked, "What is that?"

"That is beer." Willie replied as he grabbed the bottle from Arrin and took a swig. "This is good stuff."

"The town, Willie, what can you tell me about it." Arrin asked

For the next two hours (that was as long as the spell lasted) Willie explained Sunnydale as best he could. Since he had no idea what side of the line Arrin was on he told them both about the demons and those who had come to town in aid of the Slayers who battled the demons.

As he listened to what Willie had said, Arrin tossed two more of the gold pieces on to the table between them. "If I need more information I will return. You will be well paid for accurate information. The payment for lies or misinformation won't be as lucrative, but it will surely be quite painful. Do we have an understanding?"

Willie gulped and nodded. As the two companions stood up to leave, Solace said, in common, "I just hope we find someone here that we can understand without resorting to that blasted spell." She then followed Arrin out the door carrying the other two cases.

"So what are we going to do now that we know that they cannot understand us?" Solace asked as they walked down the alley between Willie's bar and the building next to it.

"We will use telepathy for now. Perhaps later we can find someone who will understand." Arrin turned into an alley that ran along the east side of Willie's bar as they walked behind the buildings that made up Main Street. Arrin bent over and picked up a small cylinder tube. It was just an inch shorter than his hand lengthwise. It appeared to be some type of metal however its overall structure was weak as it collapsed easily when he squeezed it. Tossing it into a large metal box with junk in it they moved on. They reached the end of the alley when they saw the first of the magic chariots that Borah had told them about. They appeared to be made of some type of metal with two bulls eye lanterns fastened to the front. Borah was right about their speed, but what Borah had failed to mention was they came in different sizes, shapes, and colors, with some having two, four, or even sixteen wheels. He also had not mentioned how loud they were.

The alley ended and another wider road crossed its path that allowed the chariots to pass by. The alley began again across the wide path, when the last chariot in a long procession went by the pair was just about to rush across when a larger chariot entered the alley from the other end startling them both. This Chariot had two long spears sticking out in front of it. Slipping into a doorway they watched as the chariot lined up the spears to skewer a large metal box. It then lifted the box and dumped the garbage into its bed. Watching the whole operation Arrin found himself amazed, //it must take strong magic to do this.// he thought. //Amazing...a chariot that eats garbage!//

As the large chariot came closer Arrin readied a spell just in case the chariot tried to attack them. As the chariot passed them either because it simply ignored them or had not seen them, Arrin relaxed a bit. After the chariot had left, the pair rushed across the street and back out of sight. As they came up on a large building that reeked of tobacco and ale they found the body of a young adult boy lying in a pile of bags containing more refuse. Upon examination of the corpse they saw that his blood had been drained from his body via two holes at the base of his neck. Other than that there was no other marks on his body.

"What do you think did this?" Solace asked.

"I don't know," Arrin replied having never seen anything like this before. Looking around he did not find any weapons nearby. "Whatever did it doesn't appear to have used any weapons. Further, the boy had no weapons on his person, either."

"Arrin," Solace remarked, her voice low in amazement. "Look at his hands, they are soft. I don't think he's ever held a weapon in his life. Could he be a mage of some type?"

"Does everyone here use magic?" Arrin wondered out loud. He was concerned. Perhaps they had bitten off more than they could chew by taking this mission from Borah. "Maybe we should rethink our whole approach."

"I would agree with you." Solace replied. Clearly, she also felt strange about this place. "But Borah's family helped you; it is only fitting that you would repay that debt."

"Look," Arrin said a smile on his face as he pointed between two buildings toward the east. Just the tip of a very large hill could be seen in the distance. "Something familiar."

"Looks like a home to me." Solace stated her voice coming out almost in a song as her eyes lit up. "Want to take us there or should I?"

"I will." Arrin replied again picking up their bags.

Seconds later they were standing on the top of the hill. Before them lay the town of Sunnydale. The sun was now just coming up over the mountain range to the east, awakening the settlement. It seemed like hundreds of chariots were now moving about in the small town. A very long line of them was on a six-lane roadway heading from south to north and the vehicles were stopped almost as if they were parked on the road. It amazed him how many chariots were used in this world; in Toril there would only be a small percentage of these carts. Deep down he hoped that the Hidden Valley would never become this crowded.

"Look," Solace gleefully exclaimed as she pointed to the west. There about two hundred yards away was an opening to what appeared to be a cave. As she moved toward it keeping behind the rocks that would keep her hidden from view from down below she slipped into the opening and entered a long tunnel. Arrin had moved behind her not wanting to let her out of his sight in this strange world. The tunnel went deep into the mountain and was well constructed; however for no apparent reason it stopped. The back wall of the tunnel was as smooth as the sides and it did not take long for Arrin to find the hidden switch that opened the secret door that led into the inter chamber of the cave.

The cave was close to two thousand feet in diameter. Again the walls were smooth but there was no opening at the top. In the center of the cave was what appeared to be an altar. It was made of stone and looked to be about six feet long, three feet wide, and three foot tall. Upon closer inspection of the structure they were surprised to see three sharp hollow tubes sticking up from the smooth surface.

"Evil" Solace said as she transformed to her other form and stepped on it. The Altar, weakened because of the tubes that were placed throughout it, crumbled under her weight. As the altar crumbled, a sadistic smile slowly spread across her face as she laid down and curled up around the now dust that was the altar, her eyes closed as she added. "I can get used to being here; feels a bit like home."

Arrin chuckled. "Fine, luv. This will be our home until we are acclimated to this world." Arrin crossed over to the easternmost wall and set up his bed. After they unpacked everything they had brought, he tested the bags of holding. "Looks like the bags still work here. I thought they might since magic appears to be operative all around us in this world."

"Do you think we will be able to survive here?" Solace asked, and then yawned. She closed her eyes and sighed. "I am going to get some sleep."

A smile spread across his face. //If only I could fall asleep at the drop of a hat, like her.//

As Solace napped, Arrin went outside the entrance of the cave. He stood there, watching the comings and goings of Sunnydale while he thought about what Willie had told him. The Undead? Demons? It just did not seem possible. Then there was this Slayer. What or who was that? Would it try to stop him from accomplishing his mission? Willie said that she went after anything that was not human, and she had an army at her beck and call. As he sifted through these bits of information in his mind, his feelings for Solace, as was so often the case, intruded into his thoughts.

She was more than just a friend. He loved her and knew she reciprocated his feelings. As he felt the warmth of her presence flood through him, a cold sense of foreboding suddenly gripped his heart. //What would the Slayer do if she found out about Solace? Would the Slayer come after her? Would the Slayer kill her? Willy did say the slayer attacked anything nonhuman.//

Arrin shook his head and buried his fears. There was nothing he could do about the Slayer now, so he continued to watch the townspeople go about their way. From up here if he ignored the chariots and the odd giant bird that flew overhead, the scene reminded him a lot of Portsville, his city in the hidden valley. He lay back, folding his hands behind his head and watched as the clouds slowly floated by. Soon, he fell fast asleep.

*****

Iverson Air
Main hanger
2 pm

Faith gripped a Styrofoam cup filled with coffee as she leaned against the Jeep Cherokee she had borrowed from Joyce. She waited as the Fox Lear jet carrying Section Seven's leaders crept to a halt. She was alone this afternoon; nearly everyone else was in school.

She couldn't even hear her own sigh over the roar of the jet's engines. It had been three days since Adam had been conscious. Dr. Greene had decided to check Adam himself, hoping that the Immortal's physical make up would be nearly identical to normal humans. As far as anyone knew there really had been no study of Immortal DNA, so no one understood why Adam was still unconscious.

She took another sip of her lukewarm coffee and the acrid taste reawakened her bitter thoughts about Xander's situation. He was still in the hospital, still unconscious. However the doctors said his prognosis was good; he could awake at any moment. Faith had left the Ball Breaker with Xander when she had left to pick up the Fox Lear passengers. Cordelia had decided to skip school and await Xander's recovery. Hopefully, when he awoke, Cordy would be there to pass on the news that he had a lot of people who cared deeply for him.

Faith saw B walk down the stairs. She could see the rosy cheeks of the Immortal Slayer react to the crisp Southern California morning. Obviously the rest had done her good, though there was a telltale sign of intense worry in B's eyes. As she watched the rest of the passengers that follow Buffy off the plane, Faith knew there would be hell to pay in Sunnydale if B didn't get a grip. When Buffy stopped in front of her, Faith hugged her sister Slayer and said, "Welcome home, B. Sorry everything has gone to shit

"Not your fault, F," Buffy gently teased her little sister of destiny. They clung to each other while Steve and Mulder unloaded the baggage from the plane. "How bad is he and what happened?"

"It ain't good, Buffy." Buffy's eyes widened. For Faith to slip and call her by her name rather than an initial meant the younger Slayer must have really been shaken by all this. They walked in silence for several moments until they got in Joyce's car. After the guys had put the baggage in the back and climbed in, Faith started the car and began to tell them what had happened. "You know Xander's in the hospital. Well, his old man knocked him upside his head when his back was turned. He's still in la-la land down at Memorial Hospital. Get a load of this, though. His 'daddy,'" she said with a mocking tone of voice, "threw him out of the house! After he was the one who put his kid in the hospital! What a piece of work that scumbag is, eh? Anyway, the Xand-man's stuff is in your garage right now, Steve. And listen to this; this oughta get your panties in a bunch! His old lady just spilled to Joyce that 'daddy dearest' isn't Xander's old man. She claims some dude named Nick Fury is his real daddy."

"Nick Fury?" Steve muttered. "I've heard that name somewhere before."

"Don't sweat it, Obi-wan," Faith drawled. "All the info we could dig up on the guy is in a folder on your desk. As for Adam, well, we still don't have a clue. We called in the Raven's, hoping that an Immortal would know why he's been outta it for so long. When they couldn't come up with anything, we called in the Belgian Headshrinker; so far he's struck out, too. He's trying to reach Joe; maybe the Watchers know something about it."

"Faith," the Dark Slayer heard the warmth in Scully's voice, "That was a very concise briefing. Nicely done. Perhaps Mulder and Steve could learn something from you on how to file a proper report. I'm sure Skinner and Merlin would forever be in your debt," Scully said. Then the women chuckled as they enjoyed the gentle ribbing at the expense of the two men in the Cherokee.

*****

Steve watched the three women laugh at their expense and remained quiet for a few minutes, allowing them to have their fun. Then as their laughter died down, a cruel smile spread across his face. "You know Merlin has been telling me that Section Seven is becoming too active and too big for one man to manage. He suggested we might want to start a HQ Division. What about it, Faith?"

"No way, Wander-boy! Don't even play that," Faith replied. She shook her head as she made a speedy left turn that sent Buffy flying into Steve to squeeze him against the car door. "Why don't you draft either the Ball Breaker or her boy-toy? Better yet, take Jamaica Girl; she'd be great holding down the fort behind a desk. Besides all work and no play for this girl," she said and jabbed her thumb against her chest, "makes for a very cranky slayer."

"What about night activity?" Mulder asked, jumping into the conversation. "Any slaying while we were gone?"

"Not much. Red toasted one outside the Bronze last Monday and Prom Queen dusted one in the wee hours Friday morning on her way to an early breakfast before school. She caught it near the abandoned gas station west of the school."

"With reports like that, you'd be perfect for the HQ division, Faith." Steve said as they entered town. "Did you tell the others to meet at my house tonight?"

"Yeah...we decided to be there after school." Faith replied. "We want to know what's happening with Adam."

"Talking about school," Buffy said with a smile. "Why aren't you there?"

"Fine!" she drawled sarcastically. "I'll just dump you on the curb over there, so you can call a cab. Then I'll run off to school."

"Ok, point taken," Buffy replied with a giggle. "I was just wondering what Snyder's going to say when he sees that you're absent."

"Aw, B...that idiot is clueless." Faith laughed as she turned into Steve's drive way. "Besides, school was never one of my favorite subjects."

They climbed out of the Cherokee and the guys unloaded their luggage. The ladies entered the house to check on Adam. Steve turned to Mulder and asked, "How long can you and Dana stick around?"

"Well...we're off till Friday. After that, we need to return to Washington."

"This thing with Xander...I'm not sure about the legalities of having him live by himself while he's a minor."

They carried the baggage to the house. "Emancipation is the only way he can legally do it." Mulder said as he stopped in front of the door. Before they entered, he added, "He has to show that he can take care of himself, which means he need's a job."

"That shouldn't be a problem." Steve muttered. "We'll have Dr. Greene hire him as an assistant and we can pay him out of S7 fun--"

Steve stopped short at the sight that greeted him. Books were haphazardly tossed about his living room while Adam lay on the couch with a cold compress on his head as Dr. Greene sat over him taking his vitals. Joe and Giles sat at the table hidden behind a large stack of books. The room looked like a bomb had hit it. Steve closed his eyes and shook his head trying to remove the image from his mind. When he opened them he shouted, "What the hell is going on here?"

"Simultaneous research on two subjects," Giles replied. His British accent was a bit crisper than normal. The strain was showing. "This thing with Adam has us all baffled. Then to top it off, Willow just showed us this piece on the headhunter," he said as he pointed at a page in a thick book he held in his left hand.

"Still nothing to indicate how a head hunter could cause this reaction." Jenny said as she entered the room. She had been in the den, which doubled as a Library where she had been looking for more information. She took the book from her fiancé and handed it to Steve. "Look's like you returned to a great mystery."

"Great...just great," he murmured. He turned and headed toward his office. "I have to make a phone call." Steve muttered as he closed the door behind him.

He heard two rings before a man answered him over the connection. "Moon Over Café," the man said somewhat sternly.

"Lady Hargrove please." He was confused by the sharpness of the voice. He knew they were cautious people but he never expected such a cold reception.

"She's busy," the man replied flatly.

"This is St. Wolf." Steve knew the man was probably under orders but he was tired of the attitude. "Please inform her that I am home and will await her call."

"Sir Steve!" The other man's voice became friendlier but still sounded worried. "Hold on; I'll get her for you."

After a few moments, he heard a woman clear her throat over the line. "Sir Steven," Lady Hargrove said, "I need your assistance."

"I am at your service, Lady Hargrove. How may I help?"

"Merlin has informed me you are an excellent man hunter. We could use your talents in that area. It seems that one of my people was kidnapped two nights ago. A location spell has been unable to detect her. We believe this means whoever has her knows she is a witch. The news media in your area has reported on her abduction, which is very frightening to my people here in New Salem."

Steve's mind raced at a thousand miles a minute. The Council of Watchers was an obvious choice, but after the beating they took from his group he wasn't sure if they would have pulled something like this off. He was about to discard the idea, but then, he thought, if they had wanted a way to find New Salem, wouldn't they use one of its inhabitants to do it? "Do you have any idea who might have a reason to capture one of your people? Have there been any demands?"

"No, Steve." Lady Hargrove exhaled, her voice weary. "Tabitha, the one who was kidnapped, is not even a true witch. Her father is human. Normally I would not have involved myself in this; however her grandmother, Agatha, is one of my oldest friends. When she came to me I could not turn her away. We have cast every spell we could think of; however, none of them could locate her. We even consulted with other witches who received the same results. If Tabitha is to be found, it shall be via more mundane methods. For obvious reasons we cannot be involved in that kind of search."

"Although I cannot assure you that I'll find her, Lady Hargrove, and it pains me to say that," Steve said, took a deep breath, and went on, "I will commit all of my resources to find her."

"Thank you, Sir Steven. I know you will do your best. We will await your results, good or bad."

Steve hung up the phone then leaned back in his chair. He rubbed the back of his neck to relieve the tension that had built there. So little time so many things to do, he mused. Steve stood up, crossed over to the door of his office, and opened it. He looked into the living room and found that most of the kids were present, except for Cordelia. <She must still be at the hospital with Xander, > he thought.

He cleared his throat and waited for them to give him their attention. Knowing that he had to make a decision about Xander so everyone would rest easy about that he announced. "Xander's bunking here until he's fully recovered. After that, we'll find him an apartment."

Cheers erupted from the team. After they had calmed down, he turned to Sydney and asked, "Dr. Greene, would you be willing to hire Xander as an administrative assistant? We'll arrange for S7 to pay his salary. We'll have your employment records reflect that he receives ten dollars an hour. That should satisfy a judge that he's making enough money to live on his own."

"I know people who earn less and make a go of it," Giles said.

Faith snickered. "Yeah...it's probably a step up from a school librarian's salary, right, Alfred?"

Giles shot an exasperated look her way. "How very amusing, Faith."

She shrugged. "I thought so."

Turning back to St. Wolf, Giles said, "With the money he already has plus what he earns from the Section, Xander should be able to make ends meet."

"Is there anyone here who think it is a bad idea?" No one said anything in opposition. "Good, now on to other things. Any of you heard about the abduction of a woman in our area recently?"

"It was on the news last night," Brian said. "She was taken from a LA mall while she was putting her stuff in the car. No blood or body was found."

"Did they say anything else, Brian?"

"Only that she was doing a story on missing homeless people." Brian replied. "After that the screen went blank and nothing else was mentioned."

"Really?" Steve asked, looking puzzled. "Why would the screen go blank?"

"I think they did it because of bad blood between the commentator and the missing woman." Willow stated as she said down next to Dr Greene and opened a book. "I got the impression that the commentator didn't like her."

"Well, I hate to do this to you, but we're taking on that case, too." Steve announced. In response to the crestfallen faces in the room, he continued. "I know how you feel, folks, but apparently the girl who's missing is a Tabitha Stevens, a Witch associated with New Salem."

The silence was deafening. After a moment, Giles stood up and pushed his glasses up on his nose. "Steve, has there been any demands?"

"We could do a Location spell." Willow called out easily. "Shouldn't be hard."

"No, Giles, there hasn't been any demands." Then he turned to Willow. "Sorry, Willow, all of the inhabitants of New Salem have tried the Location spell. They couldn't find her. Her grandmother has tried to pop in on her; she couldn't do it. Lady Hargrove indicated that whoever has her has some kind of protection spell around them."

"Steve, this is going to be hard." Buffy said as she sat down next to Adam. "How are we going to find her?"

"I don't know yet." Steve replied. "We're going to have to hit the bricks on this one. Find out where she was; whom she was with. This is how we're going to do this. Joe, Giles, and Jenny will continue to research about headhunters. Dr. Greene, run whatever exams you need to determine what's happening to Adam. Randi will assist you. Willow, Oz, and Faith will continue to patrol here in Sunnydale and ask questions about new people in town. Buffy and I will go to Los Angeles to look for clues. The rest of you will hit the streets and ask some questions." He looked at his people and saw they were ready to go. "All right, let's move like we have a purpose!"

*****

Sewers
Drake's Lair

Drake slipped into the room holding the young woman as quietly as possible and watched her sleep. He felt the power that emanated from her being and wondered for only a second if she was immortal. Then, he realized she couldn't be; she didn't give off the buzz. His gaze focused on her supple breasts. He watched them steadily rise and fall, indicating she still slept. His body reacted to her luscious form and he had to step out of the room for a minute to regain control. She would be an exquisite addition to his collection.

As he entered the main chamber of his lair he noticed that Screw stood in a corner, raw fear in his eyes. Another entity had entered while Drake was in the back room. The being wore a long, loose-fitting black robe with the hood up and his head bent down to hide his appearance.

"Who are you?" Drake demanded. His English was still broken for he had not spoken it for many years. "Why have you dared to enter my domain."

"You are new here," The robed figure replied, its voice hollow. "I foresaw your coming and have decided to help you."

"Really? How, pray tell?" Drake asked with a sharp laugh in his voice.

"By aiding your adjustment to my world." The figure had still not shown its face. After a moment he continued. "I witnessed your arrival in my dreams. They told me you would need an ally here if you were to succeed in your plans to capture those you call the ageless ones."

Drake carefully considered his offer. "What is your 'help' going to cost me?" It was good to have someone who knew about this plane working with them. Besides, if he believed the robed figure would ever betray him, he could always kill him later.

"The woman you have in the back room." The robed figure replied, its voice raspy now. "Her blood will help us. You can use her body anytime."

"Why do you think I have a woman here?" He stepped to the left, trying to look at the figure's face. However, the figure shifted its position to avoid revealing itself.

"I saw that as well." The figure replied now lifting its bony hand. The hand was encased in a blue flame, which captured Drake's full attention. He had seen fairy fire before and knew it was mostly harmless. But for someone to control it as well as this person did indicated that he was above average in the skills of a magic user. Lifting its head the figure looked at Drake. Its white eyes bored into Drake's brown ones. The face that Drake saw was horribly disfigured and just like the eyes there was no color in the facial skin. "Does my appearance startle you?"

"Yes," Drake replied truthfully. "You still have not told me how you can help."

"You are relatively new to this world; I can help you both to adjust." The figure replied as he bent his head once again hiding his face from view.

"Who or what are you?" Screw asked from over in the corner, starting to regain his courage. "Why should we trust you?"

"Do you have a choice?" the man asked. "I am giving you a way to know everything about this world and asking only for the blood of the girl. Well...that and..."

"And what?" Drake asked shaking off the effect of looking at the man's face. "What else do you want?"

"You will have to bring me a vampire, preferably live and female every once in a while so I can gain strength." The man replied as he leaned against a pipe that ran the length of the room.

"You still have not told us who or what you are."

"I am a Black Mage." The man said his voice losing the humor it once held. "We ruled the dark world until that bastard Merlin and his pet the Wanderer found out where our Council met. They killed everyone present."

"So you want revenge." Drake guessed. He felt a bit better about the meeting now. He had regained the upper hand. "I can work with that; release Screw and we will go from there."

The Black Mage nodded his head and waved his hand reciting a small incantation that released Screw from the fear spell that kept him against the wall. Turning to face Drake the Black Mage pointed toward the door that Drake had just come from, then started for it.

"I wish to see what condition the woman is in."

"What are you going to give me in return for her blood?"

"If what I have seen is true, we will have the power to put a stop to all that is good." The Black Mage hissed as he came to a stop next to the bed that held Tabitha. "Now stand back and let me do my work."

Drake moved to a corner of the room and watched. He was unsure what the mage was doing as he passed his hands over the body, or when he mumbled incantations, but he did know that so far the spells and research were harmless.

After an hour the mage finally turned to Drake, his eyes bright with evil. "I will have to move my laboratory here."

"Let me know what you will need and I will make sure it gets here." Drake replied, wondering what this alliance might bring.

"I will need a cage over there." He said as he pointed to the corner opposite of the door. "I will also need two young female vampires. Your vampire can get them for me at a dive called Willie's."

"Yes, I have heard of it."

"Yes, well, that is the only place in town where they feel comfortable."

"Is it that dangerous out there for our kind?" Drake asked, remembering what the vampire in the bar had told them the other day. "I mean what is this Slayer? I don't remember anything about a Slayer."

"The Slayer is a young girl. There is a long story behind the whole thing, but this is the gist of it. The Slayer kills everything that is not human. For years they kept her identity hidden from the underworld. This new Slayer is different though. She has come out of the shadows and attacks in the open. Her name is Buffy Summers. We know everything about her, not that it does us any good. She has allied with the Wanderer. The last Demon who tried to enter his house was dead before he could even defend itself. That bastard has been credited with the death of numerous Demons. He carries the Sword named Demon Slayer."

Drake listened in rapt attention while the mage rattled off the list of the Wanderer's and the Slayer's deeds. When the Mage finished his dissertation, Drake asked, "Are you trying to tell me not a single Demon on this planet has been able to determine a way to destroy these warriors?"

"No one has been able to get close enough. Believe me, many have tried. I can tell you of wars that have been fought with the Wanderer and he has walked away from them all."

"If he is so awesome, why are you here and not in hiding?"

"With the blood of this one," he swept his hand toward Tabitha, "we may have a chance to turn things around. With the blood of this witch I will have my revenge and you will have your ageless ones."

Drake digested the words of the Black Mage and knew that raw hate grew within him, a hate that was all consuming. Drake knew that hate was a powerful thing but it also led to mistakes. As he watched the mage head toward his laboratory, Drake made his decision. He would build an alliance with the Black Mage but he would never trust him. He'd never let this mage make any decision without him.

Drake waited for the door to close behind the Mage before he turned to Screw and ordered. "I want you to go out tonight and find me some soldiers. Pick only the ones who would allow us to succeed in our mission."

"I will do as you command."

"Screw," Drake called out, causing Screw to pause for a moment. "Make sure they know who is in charge."

*****

Part 11: The Infamous Good Cop/Bad Cop Routine, With That Scooby Gang Twist
(The Boston Slayer And Angel Immie See A New Twist To Taking Your Opponents Out From A Distance)

Willow and Oz left Steve's house. As they walked toward Willy's, Oz stole some glances at his red headed girlfriend. Since this had all started, she hadn't been operating on all cylinders. Oz was worried about Willow. He, more than anyone else, noticed how her guilt had affected her. He knew she had blamed herself for what had happened to both Adam and Xander. He wanted to fix this whole mess, if for nothing else than to let Willow off the petard of her own making.

Once they arrived at their destination, the entered Willy's. Oz stopped and took a quick look around. The only people in the bar were two large biker types sitting at the bar, waiting for Willy to serve their drinks.

Oz crossed over to the bar with Willow slightly behind him and growled, "Willy, I'm not in a talkative mood today. So don't yank my chain. What do you know about those two guys who Willow took out?"

"Hey, boy," the large biker on the left snapped at Oz as the werewolf pressed against the bar between the two men, "wait your turn. We were here first."

Faster than either biker could move, Oz reached down and grabbed the stabilizer bar that ran between the front and back leg of the stool that each biker sat on. He then yanked up, sending both bikers crashing to the ground. He turned to the biker who had snapped at him and let him see the glow in his eyes as his canines extended about two inches. They watched fearfully as Oz growled, "Mind your own business."

Just then, Willow snapped, "Oz! Stop it! Bad puppy!"

While Oz backed off at the command in his lover's voice, both men scooted along the floor, desperately trying to distance themselves from Oz. Soon, they both stood up and sprinted for the door.

After they were gone, Oz turned back toward Willy. "Tell me, Willy, who were they?"

"I don't know who you're talking about," the snitch said as a bead of sweat crawled down his forehead.

"The pair who hassled Willow, meat!" Oz growled.

Willy was shivering now. He knew that each Slayerette was dangerous, but none more so than the werewolf. He chose his next words very carefully as he watched Oz for any sign of displeasure. "I don't know what happened to them. When she carried out her friend, I tossed them in the sewer. An hour later they were gone."

"If you're lying..."

"I know," Willy said, and then gulped.

"So you just toss out the people who pass out in your bar like garbage, eh?" Willow asked.

Willy heard the disgust in her voice. "No one cares what happens to the dregs that come though here. I just take the trash out."

"Have they returned?" Oz asked

"No."

"If they do, you know the drill." Willow handed him a business card with a cell phone number. "Contact us at this number."

"Tell me, Willy," Oz drawled. He felt like fishing. "Has anything else happened recently that'd interest us?"

Willy licked his lips and a light sheen of perspiration appeared on his face. "No, nothing I know about."

"You don't sound too positive about that." Willow said, moving toward the bar while she cradled a small fireball in her left palm. "'Be a shame if your place went up in a ball of fire."

"Burning down the house," Oz sang out loud.

"Wait a minute!" Willy said as he watched the fireball grow brighter in Willow's hand. "It wasn't your playmates, Rosenberg. Last night two more freaks came through that wall."

"Came through the wall?" Willow asked.

"Yeah, the same way those other two came," Willy replied with a sigh. He pointed at the corner. "They all came through that wall."

Willow cast a Detect Magic spell and was astounded by what she found. She dispelled her magic, turned to Willy and whispered, "Describe them."

"Okay. The first one looked a lot like the Hunter, though his features were sharper. He had long hair that poked out on top. The second one was a girl with almost purple hair."

"Did they say anything to you?"

"They talked about the death of two children. Also something about them running from the Guardians or something like that."

"We'll be back," Willow said. She grabbed Oz's hand and tugged him outside. Then she turned to Oz and said, "There's some kind of one way Gate spell in that corner."

"To another reality?"

"I don't know!" Willow snapped, then shot a look of apology at him. "Sorry. We've got to get to Steve's and find a spell to close that Gate. Then we need to find Jenny and Amy so they can help me close it."

Oz nodded and the two hurried toward 317 Brandt Terrace.

*****

Faith and Randi left Steve's house and drove toward the Weatherly Park cemetery. They parked the car near the playground and headed deep into the forest, armed with their swords and Glock 21's. Faith's eyes scanned the darkness as they left the open area of the gravesites. The night was quiet and they had at first thought it would be a bust. Then Faith gasped and her hand went to her side.

"Vampires?" Randi asked. "Or is it that time of the month?"

"Vamps," Faith replied. "About fifteen to twenty yards that way."

"Should we try and take them?"

Faith's lips curled into a deadly smile. "Let's go play."

"Could be dangerous."

"All the better."

"I'll follow you." Randi finished, leaving the decision up to the Dark Slayer.

Shaking her head, Faith said, "Come on then, Talks-to-Angels!" They crept closer to the vampires until they saw them. Faith was pretty sure they could take out the fifteen vampires but they needed information more than they needed a body count. "Let's just watch them for now and grab one when they break up. That way, we'll get the information that Steve wants."

"Do you mean..."

"Don't sweat it, Randi," she said with a grin as she drew her sword. "We'll just nab one."

"I don't know about this," Randi muttered as she took a position on one side of the trail to wait for an unsuspecting bloodsucker to walk by.

*****

Up on the hill, Arrin watched as the sun started to set and decided that now would be the perfect time to find out just how much magic existed in the town. With the sun gone it was a good bet that his night vision would not be harmed when the magic revealed itself to him.

Arrin cast his spell and was surprised when he found no magic in the carts down below on the trail. He scanned the whole town and found nine buildings alight with magical auras. The rest of the town however was normal.

One place in the residential area shined more brightly than the others and it was this place that Arrin focused his energy on. Changing his spell from Detect Magic to Know Alignment, the color of the glow did not change indicating that the inhabitants of the house were basically good. Turning his head to the only place in the business district that glowed, he watched as the glow turn a dark red. Thinking that this place would have been the bar he decided to ignore the place all together.

Next, he noticed a faint silvery glow in the forest on the east side of town. He was not sure what it was, but it was alone and he was certain that it must carry some kind of power to be seen at this distance. Arrin decided he would look for clues tonight to try and find the Silerwor. With this in mind he entered the cave to collect Solace.

Arrin paused when he stepped into the cave. Although he was immune to the Dragon Fear that emitted from Solace's body, he wasn't immune to her beauty. No matter how many times he looked upon her true form, he was struck in the heart by the silver arrow of love. She was the most gorgeous creature he had ever seen. Swallowing the lump in his throat he spoke to her, knowing that she had already awakened when he entered the room. "I want to check the town below for both friends and foes. Do you wish to accompany me or would you like to rest here?"

"I will come with you." Solace replied after she changed back into her human form. "I am not sure if we should be separated in this world."

"There is a small glow down on the far side of town near a grove of trees. I want to investigate it."

"Did you check its alignment?"

"Pure good."

The pair left the cave, walked out onto the plateau just out side the cave and looked out over the town. Solace slowly scanned the town, her gift of True Sight showing her where the magical spots were. Her eyes stopped on the light that was on the far side of town. Judging the distance she turned back to Arrin and asked. "Do you want go to that spot first?"

"Sounds like the best plan."

Waving her hand a mist surrounded the pair and they disappeared, reappearing about fifty yards to the north of the glow. Using their infravision they spied two human figures hiding in the bushes on both sides of the trail. One of them carried a sword that was so pure, Solace was amazed that it hadn't warned the girl of their presence.

*****

Faith and Randi watched the group of vampires as they broke into groups of three and four heading in different directions. A sly smile came to Faith's face as she watched three vamps come toward them. The path they traveled would take them right between Faith and Randi.

"I think he is going to do it." One vampire told the other as they walked down the path. "We've been feeding off the dregs of society and no one has raised an alarm yet."

"Yes, Drake is the leader we've been..." The second vampire's voice was cut off when a figure suddenly appeared in front of them. The figure held up what appeared to be a silver crescent in his left hand and held his empty right hand at them palm out. Almost instantly both vampires felt a burning sensation deep within their undead hearts, which expanded through their bodies. Their scream built in their throats just before they turned to dust.

*****

Without giving away their position Solace pointed at the path that the girls were watching. Following her direction, Arrin watched as three bodies walk toward the girls. The bodies that were walking were not giving off the aura of life, so he assumed that they were undead. Fearing for the pair, Arrin teleported himself into the path directly between the girls and the undead.

With his ivory holy symbol in one hand, Arrin raised the other with his palm out and commanded, "In the name of Corellon Larethian, the Father of all Elves, I order you demons to leave these corpses and allow them to rest."

Before the dust had time to settle on the ground, Arrin was gone.

*****

"Did you see that?!?"

"Yeah," The Dark Slayer whispered. She shook her head, collected her thoughts, and turned toward their car. "Come on, Randi. We've got to report back to the others that we've got a serious bad ass in town."

"It didn't even strike them," Randi whispered in awe as she followed Faith to the car. "He just spoke in a weird language and POW! They turned to dust."

"Think about it," Faith said as they approached the car. "Where have you heard that language before?"

"I don't know," Randi answered as they entered the car.

"Think Shaw." The Dark Slayer hinted as she screeched the tires when she pulled out of Weatherly's parking lot.

"Elvish?" Faith nodded. "I don't think so. None of the Elves we've met ever did anything like that."

"Maybe Rambo can make sense of it."

*****

Arrin popped up in front of Solace with a small smile on his face. "Good to know that Corellon's powers work here."

"Those girls saw you."

"I know but it could not be helped."

"Perhaps that's a mistake."

"Perhaps."

"What now?"

"Well, should we stop them?" Arrin asked as he watched them leave in their cart. "Perhaps we can talk to them."

"I could stop them," Solace said, grinning slyly.

"Too dangerous," Arrin replied, realizing what Solace had in mind. "They could turn out to be friends."

"Fine. So, again, what now?"

"Let's investigate the town and see what we can find."

*****

Xander's Hospital room
Sunnydale Hospital

"Cordelia," Xander called out groggily as he slowly woke up. His eyes scanned the room as he wondered where he was. The white walls of his room reminded him of some place but he couldn't remember where. "Any one here?"

"I am here Xander," Artemis' voice floated to him. "Cordelia will be back shortly she just stepped out for a brief second."

"Lady Goddess," Xander breathed easily as a sharp pain in his side produced a grimace on his face. Putting others in front of his own injuries, Xander showed the first sign of true leadership. "Adam, did my books help them find what is wrong with him?"

"Don't worry about that right now Xander," Artemis' airy voice floated back to him in reply. "You must concentrate on getting yourself better."

"You don't understand." Xander replied as he lifted his torso out of bed, ignoring the pain in his side. "I think I know what is wrong with Adam, I think the vampire in the bar that attacked Adam was a Torilian Vampire. They take the life force of their victim not the blood."

"Another Dimension?" Artemis asked in surprise, now becoming visible, standing over Xander who was trying to get out of bed. "Are you saying that whoever attacked Adam came from another Dimension?"

"If I am right yes," Xander said as he steadied himself with the end of the bed, trying to make it to the closet where he believed his cloths were. "And if I am right, we are in trouble."

"Xander, just what the hell are you doing?" Cordelia asked, coming out of the bathroom looking like she had spent the night in the chair next to Xander, which she had. "Get back in bed and let the doctors look at you."

"No time." Xander replied, his voice showing that he had made up his mind. "We have to go now."

"What is going on?" Cordelia asked, now getting worried by the way her boyfriend was acting. "Xander your not well enough to get out of bed."

"Aw come on honey, it's nothing I ain't felt before." Xander gave her one of his devil may care grins to hide the pain that he was feeling in his side. "Hell, little lower and toward the back and it would be the same pain that I have been feeling since meeting Steve."

Looking Xander over, Cordelia knew that there was nothing that she could say or do that would change his mind, so she decided that the best way to work it was to help him do what he wanted to do. Then when they got him to Steve's house, she was sure that Steve and the others would convince him to stay in bed one way or the other.

As Xander dressed his mind worked out the problem, using a book he once read that said a high level Cleric of *** had cured the effects of a vampire attack on one of the lead characters. From all of the things he read, and what he had heard from Shaw's numerous tales, he believed the book was correct. That thought in mind, he forced his own physical discomfort aside and walked out of the hospital room, followed by a somewhat baffled Cordelia.

"Young man." A nurse called as she pressed a panic button located under her desk when she saw Xander leaving his room, still pulling on his bloody t-shirt. "Young man, you need to get back in bed."

"I have things to do." Xander replied, his strength rapidly returning as he moved around. "Who do I need to see of get out of here?"

"Dr. Daniels." The nurse called to a man in a white coat running down the passageway, followed by two men in green scrubs. "This young man should be in bed."

Dr. Daniels stopped in front of Xander. His hand dipped into his coat pocket and brought out a small pen light as one of the orderlies slipped into the room to retrieve Xander's chart.

Shining the penlight in Xander's eyes, the doctor asked a few questions as he watched the reaction of the pupil to the harsh light.

"What is your name?"

"Alexander Harris. My friends call me Xander."

"Where are you?"

"Sunnydale Hospital."

"Why are you here?"

"Accident at home." Xander replied guardedly.

"What year is it?"

"Nineteen ninety-nine."

"What color is my shirt?"

"Green."

"How does your head feel?"

"Hurts a bit but isn't that expected?"

"You feel ok?" The doctor asked, feeling Xander's pulse, which was strong.

"I feel great doc, honest."

"OK." Dr Daniels replied, turning to the nurse after reviewing his charts. "Release him under his own care, we have plenty of other more needy cases to deal with."

"Thanks Doc." Xander replied as he walked to the nurse's station to sign the release papers.

*****

Part 12: First Strikes And Second Winds
(Who Ever Said You Never Learned Anything From Role-Playing Games Didn't Have To Live On A Hellmouth)

As they traveled north on main street Cordelia, who was driving, asked. "You know what 's wrong with Adam?"

"It's a guess." Xander replied tightly as he leaned back in the seat. Forcing his mind to stay off his home life he went on. "But if I am right we should start watching the morgues for bodies with unexplained deaths."

"Spooky may be notified for that."

"Could be, but we can't wait around for that."

"Won't have to, they're here already."

"Hummm" Xander replied blankly, staring out the window his mind now a jumble about his personal life. Quickly he abolished those thoughts, legally there was nothing he could do right now he was too young, but once he turned eighteen...

"Earth to Xander." Cordelia said finally breaking into his thoughts. "Are you even listening to me?"

"I'm sorry honey." Xander replied after shaking his head to clear his thoughts.

"Whatcha thinking about?"

Giving her his most disarming grin he lied. "Honey, I am a 17 year-old healthy male riding in a car with his gorgeous girlfriend, what do you think I am thinking about?"

"HA!" Cordelia barked happily as she turned into Steve's driveway. "That's my man."

Xander purposely held back as he watched Cordelia stroll to the front door, his thoughts returning to his own troubles. Tonight he would sleep in his own back yard, tomorrow he would decide what to do. But right now he had to commit himself to the group, to Adam. Again he forced his personal troubles to the back of his mind after training his facial features to hide his anxiety, a trick he'd had years to perfect. He walked in the house shortly after Cordelia.

As he walked in he noticed that only Buffy, Steve, Cordelia and Brian were in the living room. With his personal thoughts deeply hidden, he asked. "Can we reach Shaw?"

All eyes turned to him, showing sorrow with a bit of pity. In that second two emotions ran through his mind; the first was the realization that the people in this room were closer to him than his own parents. The second was anger for the reason that was the why of it.

Closing his eyes to stop a tear he stated, "I believe Adam is under the effects of a Torilian vampire. They literally drain the soul out of a person. Shaw told us it happened to her once. I read in a book that a highly experienced cleric can reverse the effects."

"Xander," Buffy started in a sorrow filled voice as she moved closer to him.

"No!" Xander barked as he took a step back, not wanting to accept pity from anyone. The look of hurt in Buffy's eyes dissolved some of his resolve, but he remained focus on the problem at hand. In a softer voice he continued, "I am sorry Buffy, but we have to act fast, 'cause every minute Adam remains like that it becomes harder to reverse the effects. Shaw is the only one I know with the necessary experience to reverse the process."

Steve stood silently near the door to his office, his eyes on Xander, watching for a sign of emotion, anything that would indicate his inner thoughts, but didn't see any. Sadness reigned dominant in his eyes as he started forward to speak to his young charge.

"He's had years to build up his defenses." Dr Sydney Greene whispered to Steve as he stepped up from behind him. Grasping his shoulders to stop Steve's forward motion Dr. Greene continued. "The class clown was a defense, now it is the role of section leader. I am making progress with him. Please Steve, let me work with him."

Even though the hurt in Buffy's eyes tore at Steve's heart, he knew to reprimand Xander right now would cause more harm to Dr. Greene's treatment than good. Nodding his head in compliance, Steve then turned sharply back toward his office calling out in a neutral voice. "Buffy, Cordelia, Xander, come in here please."

Caught off guard, the three teenagers turned toward Steve and his office, Buffy still with the sting of Xander's rejection upon her as she sulked to the office close to tears.

Cordelia, her chest puffed out, started toward the office with only the thought of protecting her boyfriend on her mind.

Sheepishly Xander followed the two girls. He regretted that he snapped at Buffy, but he had to make them understand that his personal home life meant nothing compared to what he firmly believed what was happening out there.

"Have a seat." Steve ordered as the three teenagers entered the room. Dr. Greene had already taken a seat in a corner to watch the scene play out.

"Steve..." Cordelia started but stopped when she saw the look of determination in Steve's eyes.

"Xander tell us what you suspect and why."

"It has to be a Torilian Vamp. Steve! Look at the facts." Xander said excitedly as he listed the facts as he saw them, raising a finger for each fact he named. "First, Willow said that for the duration the man held Adam he was becoming drunk while Adam grew weaker. Second, there are no marks on Adam, nothing showing why he should still be in bed. Third, Adam is still unconscious when his Immortality should have brought him back already. All this falls in with the book I read."

Steve digested what Xander said in silence and ended up with the same conclusions as Xander. Without further delay Steve looked at Buffy and ordered. "Get on the phone, call Shaw, get them home as soon as possible."

As Buffy left the room he turned to Cordelia and continued with his command. "Call both teams on their cells, have them come in immediately."

Pulling out her cell phone Cordelia started to punch the numbers.

"Do it in the other room Cordelia." Steve said rubbing the bridge of his nose.

"Oh yeah, right." She replied as she left the room leaving the three alone.

"Xander what would you say if I ordered you to stand down from the action and remit yourself to Dr. Green." Steve asked Xander after gaining eye contact.

Xander stonily looked at Steve, a man he considered a brother as well as his leader. Inside his mind a war waged. On one hand, he wondered how Steve could ask him to stand down on something of this magnitude. The other side answered, he does this cause he cares. The thought process went on for several minutes as he stared at Steve, then all those training lessons took over and his eyes blinked as he came out of his daze.

Slowly, he answered Steve's question in a tight voice. "Steve I respect your judgment and you are in charge, on that I would do what you ordered, however my mind, soul or my heart would not be in it."

"Take today." Steve said, understanding Xander's dilemma. "Dr. Greene will need at least that to explain things."

Misunderstanding what Steve was trying to say, Xander came up out of his chair a hard look in his eyes as he exploded. "Damn it, I know what the fucking situation is, my father is a drunk and my mother is so weak against him she is in some kind of fucking dream world."

"Xander. . ."

"NO!" Xander snapped at Dr. Greene, who started to stand. Steve, sitting at his desk and leaning forward, his fingers tee peed with his index fingers meeting over his mouth as he watched Xander's outburst. "You want to know what my life is like, here it is with no sugar coating. My home life sucks, tough shit, life is hard all over. Shit, no one promised me a silver spoon. I am no different than anyone else. My home life does not dictate who or what I will become. Only I have that power, not you not Steve, Buffy or any of the others."

Xander stopped his speech abruptly as the office door was pushed open the rest of the way. Showing Buffy, Faith, Giles, Jenny, Cordelia, Oz and Willow all standing there with their mouths open. Turning back to Steve he finished by saying. "Now with that out there and you all know I have no regrets, let's make plans to take care of the problems at hand."

Letting Xander take a seat, Steve quickly reverted the attention to him by stating. "You're all back early."

"We got information from Willie." Willow said, speaking out before the others. "The two who attacked us hadn't been back but an elf with a girl came through the same portal as the other two. I studied the portal and it seems to be a one-way gate spell. Willy said the girl spoke of killing two children."

Oz remained silent as he watched the reaction of every one in the room turn sour and vengeful after the mention of the death of the two children. After the group clamed down a bit he spoke, bringing all eyes to him. "All the elves we have met are powerful, but they all have been basically good."

The last sentence stunned everyone into silence as they realized what Oz hinted at.

"Yeah," Oz confirmed.

"Oz has a point." Steve admitted.

"Hold on." Faith interjected, "How many Elves do we have in Sunnydale besides Shaw?"

"None, they are all in LA," came from Willow.

"I believe we saw one, he was wearing a hooded earth tone robe with the hood up, so we can't be sure." Faith said looking at Willow, "we were getting ready to take a vamp hostage, three of them were headed our way when poof! Out of nowhere this figure appears. He holds his hand up and shouts out something in a language that sounds like the one Shaw is teaching you then they turned to dust. Before anything else could be said or done the person goes poof again."

The room was quiet for a second after Faith told her story, than it erupted, every one except Xander shouting out questions.

"Did you see a face?"

"Was it male or female?"

"What did it say?"

"Was it alone?"

"Where did it go?"

"Are you saying this thing dusted vamps without fighting?" Buffy asked with surprise in her voice.

"You got that right!" Randi said, trying to give something to the conversation. "He just said something and poof they were dust."

"It's a cleric." Xander mentioned putting the pieces together, again bringing all eyes to him. Going on he added, "They use the power of their God to banish or turn undead. Depending on the experience of the cleric, he or she could turn a room full of undead."

"Do evil clerics have that power?" Steve asked.

"Evil clerics would try to control them." Xander replied, trying to remember all that he read on the subject.

"Are Amy, Robin and Shaw on their way?" Steve asked Buffy.

"Said they would be back tomorrow."

"Xander, this guy who turned the vamps." Steve asked. "Could he be evil?"

"Sure," Xander replied, trying to make his reasoning simple as possible he continued

"Xander, I want you to say here for tonight with Cordelia." Steve said as he looked around the room before going on. "Oz and Faith will patrol, the rest of you make one sweep through town and then go home. I am leaving Cordelia in charge for tonight. Buffy and I are heading to the city to work on the other problem. If you run into any trouble, call Horace is that understood?"

"Uh Steve, we have to close that gate." Willow said, bringing what she considered to be the most important thing to the front. "As long as it's open more, um... visitors can come through."

Steve turned to Willow as she was talking, his mouth falling open as he heard what Willow was saying. After his brain registered exactly what Willow was saying he asked. "Exactly what gate is that?"

"The one at Willie's."

"Who opened a gate in Willie's?" Buffy asked, her voice showing the surprise that she felt.

"My word that is going to be sticky."

"Can you close a gate?" Steve asked looking at Jenny.

"It is going to take all of us." She replied indicating herself, Willow and Giles.

"Mega magic huh?" Steve asked deep in thought. "Should we wait for Robin?"

"No, we cannot wait that long." Willow replied as she looked in a volume of witchcraft. "We can do it, but it will take all of us because we have to open it all the way before we close it."

"And when we do that," Giles went on, looking over Willow's shoulders. "We are going to very weak."

"Weak as in vulnerable?" Steve asked, not liking where this conversation was going.

"We will get by." Jenny replied with convection. "We can have Cordelia, Randi, Faith, Xander, Oz, and Larry watch over us until we get back here."

"Ok, sounds good." Steve consented, as they all got ready to go on their way. "Buffy and I will go to LA and ask around maybe someone knows something."

*****

"Her blood will allow us to watch the Slayer and her friends." The Black Mage told Drake as he drew blood from the woman's wrist. "It will also give us an idea of where New Salem is."

"I don't care about New Salem." Drake said, throwing two male vampires in a cage that was constructed in the back to the room. "These two are for you."

The two vampires screamed as they saw the Black Mage working on the girl who was tied to the bed. They both have been told about the Mages that practice the black arts and they both knew that death would not come easy for either of them.

"How soon will you know where they are?"

"As soon as the blood boils." The Black mage replied to Drake's question as he put the vial of blood over a small flame.

"Good, when you find the Slayer let me know where she is." Drake ordered as he turned to leave the room. "If she is the one I have to be careful of, I will kill her before she becomes a problem."

As Drake walked back to the room that he and Screw had claimed for their new home, he wondered where Screw was with the recruits.

Screw knew what Drake meant by that statement; there was only one way to ensure that leadership would not be challenged that was to kill someone who stood out. He did not mind killing fact is he enjoyed it. Moving through the sewers Drake found a nest of vampires who had three over weight humans laying unconscious on a couch as the vampires sat at table playing cards, his arrival shocked them into silence.

"Which one of you is in charge?" Screw asked quietly. He watched as several Vampires turned toward a dark vampire who stood in the corner studying him. Screw took a minute to look the man over before demanding. "Turn leadership over to me."

"Iffen I don't?" The dark vampire asked his chest expanding at the threat.

Screw did not answer; his attack was so fast that not many in the room didn't even seen him move. Shooting across the room straight at the dark vampire Screw had one target and moved like a laser beam toward it. Seconds before he reached the dark vampire his hand reached out and he literally ripped the head off of it and was back in his original spot before the body turned to dust.

As he looked around the room into the eyes of the vampires present he asked. "Will there be anyone else?"

No other vampire stood out, they all cowered at the savagery of the attack. Screw let them think about what had just taken place; he knew that there was nothing that could shake confidence as fast as silence. After a few moments with no one saying anything Screw went on. "That is good, kill the humans and get ready to come with me."

Two of the vampires' playing cards went over to the sleeping humans and drained the humans of their blood. Than followed Screw as he made his way out of the sewer station. Screw led them to the sub pump station that He and Drake first found. After the group sat down, Screw turned to the group and announced. "I am called Screw, My master is looking for an army to take over this town."

"That is easier said than done." A female vampire called out from the middle of the group. "Others have tried."

"They were nothing." Screw replied as he looked around the room. "I have heard of your problem the one they call the Slayer. Believe me when my master makes his move, The Slayer will be no problem."

The room erupted in questions as soon as the worlds left Screw's mouth. As he looked around the room Screw smiled as he listened to the questions.

"I have heard that one before." Another voice called out.

"What makes your master think he can do where others have failed?"

"It's not only the Slayer, she has a army."

"It's her man who is the threat."

"Even Angelus ran from them."

"How is your Master going to be different?" A strong voice asked from the back of the crowd. Pushing his way forward the man went on. "They have beaten a lot of very nasty people. At the top of the list was Throlog, he was a Demon from the first level."

"They were not ready." Screw replied easily. "We will be."

"They have three of the nine swords of Destiny." The vamp that was establishing him self as the spokesperson said not raising his voice wondering who this new comer was. "They are well organized."

"That is where those others failed." Screw smiled his eyes locking onto the speakers. "When we attack, we will have something that your other groups did not have. We will be organized and have a very definite chain of command, each person will have a role and that person will perform the role to the best of their ability."

As they listened to Screw all of the demons present knew that if they failed their being would be forfeited. There were few demons here that remembered the first Master and they all had a hunch that this one would be more ruthless than all of the others put together.

"If you want to on the winning team, follow me. If not, leave this town and never return." Screw gave them the final ultimatum before he turned and left the room heading back to the sewer station that Drake had set up for their headquarters.

*****

Part 13: Be All That You Can Be
(How To Make Minions And Influence Demons)

Drake's Headquarters
Sewer station

Followed by the group of vampires who elected to come with him, Screw entered the sewer station and took a minute to look around for Drake as the group took seats in the main area. After they were all settled, he took a quick count of the room. He noticed that most of the Vampires in this world chose hosts that were in their teenage years and wondered why that was. As they all became comfortable, he raised his hand to draw their attention so he could start the meeting.

"I have brought you here to show you a new way to exist." Screw started out. "You will be the nucleus of what will end up being the most sophisticated gathering of vampires this place has been witness to."

"You still have not answered any of our questions." A vampire said as he stood up in the back of the room. "This is the Hellmouth, there have been a lot of major players here, and so far the Slayer and her boy toy have killed them all."

"I don't know what is going on with the Mayor in this town," A second Vampire added from his place in the room. "But we all know that he's a major player too."

"I will only say this once," Screw replied to both questions. "All of those who have come before us tried too much, too soon. We will move in silence, slowly taking over the area. Before anyone realizes what is going on we will own this place."

"What about the Slayer?" The first speaker asked.

"I will deal with her."

The silence that followed Screw's statement was defining as all of the Vampires present lost the power of speech. Then, as they understood the meaning of his words, they began to laugh.

"Do you think that the others just laid down and said, 'come stake me, Slayer?'" The speaker asked astonished. "Believe me, those words have been said many times, and still she lives."

"The Slayer will no longer be a problem." Screw replied as he noticed the three teenage boys who were not laughing but talking quietly amongst themselves. "I will just need to find out more about her first."

The side door to the chamber opened to allow Drake to move out into the room. Screw slightly bowed his head in reverence to his master to show the others just who the man entering the room was.

*****

Black Mage workshop

As he entered the darkened room, Drake had two vampires shoved into the cage that was built for that purpose, ignoring the screams as they saw the Black Mage huddled over a cauldron. As he moved to the woman who was still tied onto the flat he demanded. "What news do you have for me on the Slayer?"

"She is a crafty one this bitch. She has found some way to cloak and multiply her aura. She appears to be in three places at once." The Black Mage replied as he looked into a cauldron.

"Well where do you have her now?" Drake demanded, exasperated over the answers he had been receiving from the Mage. "Tell me where she is right now."

"I have three of them." The Mage stated, his tone exhausted as he turned to look at Drake. "Ok, let's see, she is on her way south about 40 miles outside of town. She is also near Weatherly Cemetery; that is at the north end of town. She is also somewhere in the Eastern Hemisphere. The strongest signal is coming from the one in the Cemetery. So start your search there."

"She is leaving the park now, on her way east. I have an address that all three of the tracked signals have been at, together and separately. That is probably her home."

Drake grabbed the piece of paper that the Mage held out to him, and then turned back to the woman. He slowly stroked the side of her face with the back of his hand his mind wondering if he would ever get this one for his own. He turned to back to the Mage and demanded. "Do you have anything else?"

"Not right now," The Mage replied to Drake's back as he walked out of the room.

*****

As he walked into the outer room, Drake noticed that Screw was back with about twenty vampires. His eyes noticed the three boys who gathered in the back and looked over their appearances. They all appeared to be very healthy for vampires living in a place that it was not safe to be undead. The leader of the three stood about 5' 10" with short brown hair and coal gray eyes.

"Come forward." Drake simply said as he made eye contact with the one who appeared to be the leader. As he came forward Drake demanded. "Are you here to spy on my activities?"

As Drake asked the question, Screw moved swiftly to appear behind the friends of the first vampire. In one violent move he thrust his hands through each of their backs ripping their hearts out. A cloud of dust surrounded Screw as a sick smile came to his face.

As they watched the display of speed and strength from Screw, Drake calmly went on as if nothing of importance had happened. "I do not like spies. Nor will I tolerate anyone who will try and stand in my way."

"We were not here to spy." The man who stood next to Drake said, sounding a bit uncomfortable. "We just came to find out what you were about."

"Is that so?" Drake asked, his voice dripping with honey and not believing a word the man was saying. "I give you your life. Go tell your master that I am now claiming this area as my own. Tell him not to interfere with me. If I find that he's working against me, I will make him my target before the Slayer."

"Take him to the sewer entrance, Screw," Drake ordered as she shoved the man into Screw's awaiting arms. After the two moved out of the room he turned to the gathering and went on as if nothing had happened. "I am known as Drake. I have come here to claim what is rightfully mine. You will be the instruments to achieve my goals. I understand that you have a problem with a certain mystical being called the Slayer. I will help you dispose of her, and then you will help me to kill the long lived."

"Like we have been telling your man," The vampire who has established himself as the speaker said as he stepped forward to the front of the group, "it is not only the Slayer, I have killed two in my life. This particular Slayer does not play by the rules, she has an army at her command."

"An army?"

"A large one."

"It is her boy toy." Another man called trying to get into the conversation.

"Every army needs a leader and a few other high ranking officials," Drake stated with a smile. "The Slayer that you all fear. How old is she? Has any of you ever seen her?"

"We have all seen drawings of her." The speaker replied as he pulled out a folded sheet of paper out of his back pocket and handed it to Drake. "This is her and the second one is her boy toy."

"This is just a teenager." Drake said as he looked over the two drawings. "She must have friends."

"Don't go there." A teenage vampire jumped into the conversation. "If you do you will end up just like the others."

"Sounds like you know them."

"I know enough to stay the hell out of their way."

"Get three of these others and come with me." Drake finished the conversation and walked out of the room.

*****

"I have a job for the four of you." Drake ordered as he entered the outer room followed by the teenaged vampire and his three cronies. Handing them a piece of paper he went on. "I want the four of you to attack this house. But do not get caught, set a fire to the house throw stones at it. Hell drop one of those poles on the house it don't matter to me what you do, I just want you to do as much damage to this address as possible."

"We can do that." The teenager replied as he took the piece of paper.

After unknowingly sending the four teenage vampires to their deaths, Drake turned and walked out of the room by the way he came in. His eyes quickly glanced over the empty room, which was full when he left it.

"Where did you send them?" Drake asked to the apparent empty room but he knew Screw was in the darken corner.

"To find more of their kind." Screw replied as he stepped out of the shadow.

"I have sent a few to go after the Slayers home. I want to see how protected she really is."

"I would like to know that myself."

*****

Police station
LA Homicide Division

Just before she followed Steve and the others into Det. Vetter's office Buffy felt the buzz of an immortal and turned to look down the passageway. She recognized the larger and older of the two as one of the officers that helped them seven months back, but he was not the person that drew her attention. As her eyes met with the second man the buzz left her.

By the strength of the buzz that she experienced Buffy knew that this man was older than Steve but younger than most of the others that she knew. A small smile came to her face as she let her eyes drift the length of his body, the man who was obviously an officer looked like he stepped out of a Clint Eastwood or John Wayne movie.

He stood about two inches over six feet tall with blond hair, wide shoulders that tapered down to a lean waist. While he looked young his face showed strength, intelligence and self-reliance, and very handsome. He wore a long leather coat that reached just below his knees that covered the checkered flannel shirt and jeans with the bottoms folded up showing the bottoms of his hand made boots the opening looked to be stitched back to leave access to his guns. Around his waist hung a gun belt that she was sure was hand specially made for him; it was hand made western style and carried a pair of stag horned butted Colt Artillery Peacemakers.

Buffy nodded her head toward the young man wondered why he was dressed in such silly outfit. Letting this new immortal leave her thoughts she followed the rest into the office.

*****

"Oh shit." A training officer told his recruit as they walked down the passageway, when he saw Buffy follow Steve, Dana and Mulder into the office of Det. Vetter. He nodded toward them as he went on in a very serious voice. "Things start to happen when those four come to visit."

"Who are they?" The recruit asked as they walked toward the door where the four walked in. His thoughts on the girl who was obviously an immortal, by the way her long brown coat hung open she had to be carrying a sword. It puzzled him that she did not announce herself or challenge him.

"The propaganda that was passed out was that they were a Black Special Ops. Group."

"Sgt White get in here." Capt. Randall ordered the pair as they walked by the office.

"Shit," Sgt White mumbled as he entered the office followed by the Recruit. "Here we go again."

"What do we know about the kidnapped woman the other day." Det. Vetter asked skipping the introductions.

"Before we get into that," Steve interjected cutting into Sgt. White's reply. "I remember Sgt. White, good to see you again, can you introduce me to this new man?"

"Actually Steve right now that is not umm classified." Capt Randall replied with a wicked grin as he took a quick look over to Sgt White and Waco, <Always wanted to use that line on Steve>. "But as to why he is in this outfit instead of in uniform, he was over at King elementary school giving the why guns are not toys speech."

"I find that the kids learn better when they are interested so I perform a little show before I begin to teach." Waco replied easily as he steps forward extending his hand. "My name is Waco."

"I am Steve St. Wolf." Steve replied as he took Waco's offered hand going on to introduce the others. "This is Buffy, Mulder and Dana."

"Steve St. Wolf?" Waco asked puzzlement in his voice as he looked over the others in the room. His mind calling up all that he had heard of the Man called Steve "the Wanderer" St. Wolf. "I have heard of you."

After the introductions Steve turned to Sgt White and nodded for him to go on.

"We really don't know much at all. There has been no ransom demands." Sgt White replied as he realized that the case had just moved up on the list. "The Feds are taking it over the case."

"Who is the agent in charge?" Fox asked

"Agent Tanaka, he's with the LA office."

"We know him." Mulder replied discuss in his voice. "He's a pompous ass."

"I would suggest taking over the case but it is out of our jurisdiction." Dana put in sharing Mulder's thoughts on the agent. "Maybe we can play nice and see if he will let us see what he has so far."

"Probably our best bet." Mulder agreed.

"Will that be all?" Sgt White asked, noticing the looks that passed between the four visitors and his recruit and wondering what was behind those quick looks.

"Yes that will be it." Capt Randall said excusing the two men. Waiting for them to leave the room he then turned back to Steve as Vetter closed the door. "Waco is here to do some training, as a beat cop. He don't really need it but when we transfer him it will look less suspicious if he comes from LA instead of from the Ventura Sheriff's department."

"Sheriff's Department?" Buffy asked confused.

"Ventura County Sheriff Sam Douglas wants a inside track of what is going on down in Sunnydale." Capt Randall said with a smile. "After the PD down there tried to stop his Swat team from entering the town when a firefight was going on in the streets."

"So you're transferring him to Sunnydale PD?" Steve asked a grin coming to his face.

"That is the plan." Det. Vetter replied.

"What is his cover going to be there?"

"We are going to create a new folder for him." Det. Vetter informed them as she tossed down his real personal folder in front of the group. I don't think they would take someone with a jacket like that."

"May I?" Steve asks as he picks up the folder she just tossed down. After reading through it, he looked up to the Captain and said. "He was trained by Cordell?"

"He was a Texas Ranger for two years but left when he had to shoot someone." Det. Vetter informed them. "It was a justified shooting, and no one was killed though it was close."

"What are you going to do with his personal record?" Buffy asked after reading the folder, "There is no way Stein is going to let this guy come onto the force. He may make them all look bad."

"This is the folder we are going to show them." Det. Vetter grinned as she threw the new folder on the table, which Steve picked up and read through. "This is like the others on the Sunnydale force."

"If my folder ever looked this bad I would have to quit." Steve said after reading the new folder and handing it to Buffy. "You think they will let him come to Sunnydale?"

"I looked at some of the personal records of the Sunnydale PD and this is exactly what they look for."

"We will go see Agent Tanaka and find out what we can about the disappearance. Then we will meet you back at your house." Mulder told Steve and he and Scully stepped out of the office and headed toward the main door.

"I guess we will head back home and hope that they can come up with something Steve replied feeling the squeeze that Buffy gave his hand, knowing that she wanted to get back to her friends.

*****

Sewers Tunnel
Under Willies

"I don't know Charlie," A scared vampire was saying as Charlie gave him a sickly smile. "This new guy is said to have some pretty impressive powers. They say he has a Black mage working for them and they have a witch."

"Bloody hell!" A British voice rang from down the passage drawing both of the vampires attention to the darken area.

"It's Spike!" The scared vampire said as he changed to his game face. "We have to kill him Charlie, he is with the Slayer."

"You first." Charlie replied as he forced the vampire down toward Spike before stabbing him with a wooden knife driving it into his heart from behind. As the dust fell to the ground he looked down toward Spike as he shook his head. "If you keep making me kill those who give me information I will be worthless."

"Don't you understand what is going on?" Spike asked as he turned toward Steve's house followed closely by Charlie. "They have that woman that Steve is looking for."

"What do you want to do?" Charlie asked

"We are under Willie's right now." Spike replied as he walked toward the ladder that led up to Willies bar. "I want you to go up there and create a disturbance so I can follow you up and get out, this way they won't see us together."

"That would be best." Charlie agreed knowing how much damage to his reputation would be done if he was scene on good term with Spike. "I will cause the disturbance. Might be fun beating up some vampires or demons."

*****

Willies bar
Same time frame

It was close to midnight when Arrin and Solace entered Willies bar. As he walked toward the bar, two vampires hurriedly backed away from Arrin feeling the good that he projected. Catching Willie's attention he asked. "Have you any news that I would be interested in?"

"Only that the Slayer is now interested in you." Willie told Arrin as Solace took a seat near the door blocking that escape route.

"You have told me about the Slayer before." Arrin growled his patience starting to wear thin. "Who or what is it?"

"It is not a what, but a who." A demon that looked a lot like the lizard men from his home world started to explain as he turned toward Arrin.

"Keep your mouth shut." A dark skinned man said as he walked toward the bar. Above the whispers that started as he made his presence known the man went on. "I am tired of your interference Lizoid."

"Maybe you would like to tell me." Arrin said his voice dropping to a threatening growl as he turned toward the man who had interfered. Arrin did not need to cast a spell to realize that this man was a vampire; an evil grin came to his face as he went on. "Or should I just destroy you and be done with it."

"Be careful," the Lizard man said just loud enough for Arrin to hear. "His name is Mr. Trick and he is the Mayor's lackey."

"You must be old in your clan." Arrin replied as he reached for his holy symbol while Solace moved to get behind Mr. Trick.

Some deep warning told Mr. Trick that all was not as well as he believed it to be. He acted on a survival instinct that had been breaded into him over the last century. He reached out and grabbed the Lizard man by the throat and pulled him close holding a knife flush against the demons throat. His voice held a worried note as he said. "I am leaving but before I do I want you to know that you're being watched and if you interfere we will kill you."

"And why don't I just destroy you now?" Arrin asks calmly not wanting to risk the demons life since he was going to help.

"I will slit his throat." Mr. Trick replied as he backed up to the door.

"Listen to me well." Arrin ordered a command spell weaved into the word. The spell worked and Mr. Trick stopped in the door with the demon still a prisoner. "Right now my plans only consisted of killing the Silerwor, then leave. If you harm that being, my plans change. My new plan will be to come after you and those you work for. Unlike the being there and obviously some of the others in this room I am not afraid."

"Is that supposed to be a threat?" Mr. Trick laughed as he drew the knife across the demons neck letting it drop as he slipped out into the night.

Arrin stood in shock as Mr. Trick walked out of the room. His eyes drifted over to meet with Solace as he said. "Did he really just do that?"

Bending down to check the demon's pulse Solace looked up to Arrin while saying. "He's dead, "

"It's the way life is." Arrin replied with out emotion as Solace came to over to him. They both turned to Willie, with Arrin continuing. "I don't suppose you want to tell me who the Slayer is do you."

"No," Willy replied his eyes going to the dead demon.

Arrin's face turned a deep purple; he was just barely able to keep his anger in. "Willie I am going to do you a favor. I am going to bless your inn."

It was at this moment Charlie stepped into the bar room with the idea of causing a disturbance while Spike got away. After hearing what Arrin said Charlie decided that this would be the perfect disturbance. Quickly he thought of a way to raise his reputation and get done what he needed to get Spike away. In a threatening voice he said. "I don't think you wanna do that."

"That's Charlie." One of the remaining vampires whispered to another as Charlie walked up to face off with Arrin. "He is the only Vampire who has fought the Slayer and lives to tell about it."

Arrin turned to face the new threat and decided that he was through being the nice guy. "In the name of Corellon Larethian, the Father of all Elves, I order you demon leave this corpse and allow him to rest."

As he called for Corellon Larethian, Arrin could feel the holy aura of his god manifest and spread around and lash out at the undead present. But as the aura closed the vampire before him, he suddenly sensed the aura changing, flowing around the vampire, and ignoring it completely.

"What are you talking about?" Charlie asked as two vampires behind him turned to dust.

Confused that the vampire did not turn, Arrin looked Charlie over, casting a Detect Alignment. His eyes grew just a bit wider when he saw a slight golden glow appear around him. Arrin watched with a slight look of amazement as the vampire raised something that looked like a small wand. As he watched the wand being pointed at him, his mind screamed /Leech!/

Arrin was barely able to throw up a shield in time to reflect the magic missiles that Charlie sent at him. His eyes grew wide as the missiles kept coming at him from the wand.

*****

Hearing the words that the stranger said about blessing Willie's bar, Charlie felt he had found the perfect way to cause all kinds of excitement. His first thoughts were just to cause enough trouble to allow Spike to leave by the sewer system. After all, anyone who wanted to put a blessing on Willie's bar could not be all that bad.

After the stranger cast the spell against him, Charlie felt a small pull however he was not sure what happened. He did know that this man was dangerous and decided to take out whatever threat he would later show. With that thought in mind, Charlie brought up his Mini-Uzi and pulled the trigger, letting the full magazine of thirty-two rounds hose Arrin down.

Charlie continued to hold back the trigger even after the first few rounds bounced off the shield. He had seen the shield spell that both Amy and Willow had cast and was a little surprised that this shield did not show where the bullets hit so felt that it must be weaker and therefore more bullets should get through.

As the bullets ricocheted off the shield they crashed into the bottles that lined the back of the bar. A few vampires turned to dust as the wooden bullets found their way into their hearts. Charlie held the trigger back until he heard the dry click, signaling that the gun was empty.

Through the gun smoke Charlie noticed that Arrin was still alive and was now holding out his hand pointing at him. Charlie had seen enough of spell casters to know that what Arrin was getting ready to do could not be done if he was out of his line of sight. As this realization came to him, Charlie ran out of the room hoping that he had given Spike enough time to leave the area. Leaving the bar, Charlie made it to the alley that ran between the buildings.

Charlie was shocked into immobility as he reached the center of the alley. He fought off the fear as he looked up and met the eyes of a dragon, which he found himself facing. Shaking his head Charlie started mumbling to himself as he looked up into the eyes of the dragon again. "Doesn't the Council of Dragons have something about showing yourself in public?"

"What are you talking about demon?" Solace hissed back at Charlie.

"Since you're here, I need your help." Charlie went on, pointing back to the way he came into the alley where Arrin stood his bow ready to fire. "I work for Steve St. Wolf, and that elf is after me."

"Council of Dragons?" Solace asked, bewildered. Still thinking of what Charlie had said, it had been close to eight hundred years since her parents had died and, since then, she had not seen or heard of another Dragon. "What do you know about Dragons?"

"Let's see what you have to protect you from this, vampire." Arrin called out as he let fly his arrow.

"Stop!" Solace demanded, causing the arrow to stop in mid-flight and fall harmlessly to the ground. Her eyes then went to Arrin as she went on. "This one knows about Dragons."

Arrin faltered in his movement for a minute, his bow now ready to send the second arrow toward the vampire. After the meaning of what Solace said sank in, Arrin turned his attention to his target and demanded, "Answer her question or die."

"The Council of Dragons." Charlie replied, totally confused as he thought that this dragon should surely know about the council. "I don't know where they live but Steve does."

"There are many things worse than death for the undead." Arrin stated, still keeping his bow aligned on Charlie. "If you don't tell us what we want to know, you will experience all of them."

"Who or what is Steve?" Solace asked from just behind Charlie, now in her human form.

"You don't know about the Council?" Charlie asked, still puzzled about what was being said. "Maybe I should take you to see Steve."

"Maybe you should." Arrin replied as he unnotched the arrow. "Just know vampire, the bow is not the only thing I command that you should be afraid of."

*****

Part 14: We Didn't Start The Fire
(You Know You're Scraping The Bottom Of The Minions' Barrel When They Use Billy Joel Songs For Inspiration To Defeat The Slayer)

Xander was shocked when he looked up and found he was standing outside of the Bronze. He had been walking for a long while, not paying attention to where he was going. His mind had been focused on what he intended to do about his situation with his mom and dad. Although he was grateful to Steve for letting him stay temporarily, he felt crowded, what with Randi, Brian, Duke, the occasional visit by Mulder and Dana, and Buffy practically living there. Xander glanced up again at the sign above the nightclub's door and, with a shrug of his shoulders, went to the front of the line where the doorman was waiting.

"Flying alone tonight, eh, Xander?" The doorman asked as he took down the rope and allowed Xander to pass. "Where are the others?"

"They all have something going on." Xander replied, his voice distant. "I just came in to lose it in the music."

After a few more pleasantries, Xander entered the Bronze. He glanced at their usual table and saw some kids he didn't know were there. He sighed and worked his way through the minor sea of humanity to lean his back against a corner on the far side of the hall.

As he lost himself to the music, he went over the fight with his father for the umpteenth time in his mind, searching for answers but finding none. He replayed the scene over and over, while on a subconscious level, he scanned the room, looking for vamps or other nasties. He needn't have bothered; since the big clean up last year, the fang brigade as a whole had avoided the Bronze like a plague.

After about an hour, Xander still had no answers and decided to call it a night, so he pushed off from the wall and left the club for home.

*****

"I don't think we should have let Xander walk off on his own," Cordelia repeated as she looked out the window. "He isn't even packing heat!"

"He must work this out on his own, Cordelia." Sydney said again while he took Adam's temperature and vitals as the Immortal laid on the couch.

"Did you tell him about his father?" Willow asked, also concerned about her oldest friend.

"No, he blew up when I was getting ready to tell him."

"Let's give him a couple of hours," Giles said while he thumbed through another book. "If he hasn't returned by then, we will search for him."

"What else could happen tonight?" Cordelia asked no one in particular. As she chewed nervously on her thumbnail, she glanced out the window and saw four telephone repairmen standing near a pole. After a moment, she lost interest in the workers and turned to ask Sydney about Xander again.

*****

The four vampires who were detailed to attack 317 Brandt Terrace left the sewers disguised as Pacific Bell Telephone workers. One carried a clipboard while another carried a large toolbox. As they approached St. Wolf's house, the vamp with the clipboard said, "We have to do this quick. It looks like some of them are getting ready to leave. If we take them out, we can really put the hammer to the forces of good!"

"This won't take but a minute," replied the vamp that carried the bag as he took out a small axe. Handing it to the biggest vampire, he marked a spot on a telephone pole. "Chop a wedge out of the pole here; it should fall toward the house. The rest of us will get the gas bombs ready."

The vampire who now wielded the axe stepped forward to do his part in the plan. He worked quickly; with his inhuman strength, it took only four strikes to bite in deep enough for two of them to push the pole over. As the pole started to fall they stepped back to watch the fireworks.

Meanwhile, the other two took out bottles that were full of gas, ready to throw them into the house. The wires that were attached to the pole now snapped and fell, sending sparks which started small fires around the area as they flopped loosely on the ground.

The pole toppled toward its target, which excited the vampires even more, as they knew their mission would be a success. But, just as the pole started to gain speed, it stopped in mid-fall. The vampires' smiles faded away as the pole slid down, away from the house, to land harmlessly on the ground six yards from its target.

"What the hell just happened?" The leader of the group asked as the others stood there, wondering the same thing. Undaunted by this failure, the leader lit the rag stuffed into the top of the gas bomb he held in his hand and threw it at the house.

The group watched in stunned silence when the bottle broke in mid-flight, the now-ignited gas falling to the ground, causing a fire to start and grow as the others threw their own bottles behind the leader's.

The flames had now engulfed the entire area in front of the house, turning it in to an inferno. The flames, now not contained by any means, started to spread to the yards on either side of the house as well, and the fire grew as it hungrily consumed any fuel it could reach.

Through the flames, the vampires watched as the little red headed witch who worked for the Slayer stepped out of the house and raised her hands. They watched in awe as she shouted some words they could not hear over the flames. Then it started to rain.

*****

As Faith and Randi strode silently through Weatherly Park, Randi noticed that Faith was more skittish than normal. She decided to draw the younger girl into a conversation to calm her nerves.

"Sort of strange having an unknown elf in town." Randi mused and startled the Dark Slayer. "Geez...little spooked?"

"Huh? No." Faith replied in a soft voice.

*****

Faith shook her head and her face was flushed. <Being jumpy isn't good for a Slayer's rep>, she thought. She didn't want Angel Girl to know that her thoughts had been on Xander. However, something in Randi's eyes made Faith let go; after all they were both in similar situations. She did a quick pan of the park before she sat down at a picnic table. Her voice was low as she said, "It's strange ya know? Before I got Chosen, all I ever really knew was the streets. Then Linda started teaching me to kill the demons, teaching me to do my job. Had to perform, look good for that weasel, Wesley, Linda said. I didn't think we'd have time for emotions, you know? No love, hate, just the job. All I ever was, is what the Council told me I was, and I didn't even let myself know how much Linda loved me. She never told me...maybe she didn't have enough time to figure it out. Then when I met Mulder and Dana, all the pieces fell in place. Now there's all these people-people who care about me not because I'm the Slayer, but because they consider me one of the family. What's really scary is that I consider them family too. I actually wanted to break Mr. Harris' neck when I saw what he did to Xander."

Randi nodded. "I've only been with the group for six months or so, yet they accepted both Brian and me from the beginning, and I'm not even a Slayer. I honestly believe that's their nature."

"Have you ever wondered why?"

"No, I just sort of accept it."

"I guess I'm just tripping..." Faith hesitated for a moment, then smiled a cold, predator's smile as she stood up. "Well, lookie, lookie," she cooed, "I guess we get to have one last dance before we head home."

"What?" Randi asked as she stood up and turned in the direction Faith was looking.

"Well, well, well," a vampire said as he and three others came out from behind some trees. Although the speaker appeared to be a normal Sunnydale vampire, a teenager, the other three were older, dressed in medieval armor with very large bastard swords. "Looks like a couple of the Slayer's friends out for a walk."

"Yes...and that's a very bad thing...for you!" Randi snapped. She moved quicker than she ever remembered, drawing her sword and stabbing with it. She impaled the closest vampire and turned him to dust as the five crosses on her sword glowed. Dancing away from the rest of the group and bringing her sword to the ready position, she noted, "Why do they always gab, when they should attack?" Then Randi snorted. "And they say I talk too much."

"Randi, get down with your bad self! I didn't know you had it in you, homegirl!" Faith sang out as she attacked the second and third vampires. Her sword came out easily enough, but it wasn't second nature to her yet and she was having some difficulty guarding against their attacks. "A little help here!"

"On my way." Randi replied, moving in behind one of the vampires, causing him to turn and attack her. Just in time, Randi's sword blocked his stroke and its power forced the vamp step back from her sword.

"The Sword of St. Catherine!" the vampire hissed as he shied away from Randi. "Where did you get that cursed blade, girl?"

"From a friend." Randi snarled as she swung, cutting a shallow groove across his stomach. The wound, though not fatal to a vampire, caused the creature to drop to his knees and scream in pain. Then Randi took his head.

"Where the hell did these guys come from?" Faith called out, dropping her sword as her arm ached from the vibration that rang through it from the clashing of the two swords. Unphased by its loss, the Boston Slayer was now in her element. She dropped into a crouch and swept the legs out from under her attacker, sending him to the ground. At the same time her left hand reached behind her back to retrieve her favorite stake. After she planted it into the vampire's chest and turned him to dust, she turned, looking for the last vampire. As her reward, she saw Randi deliver the decapitation blow that turned the last vampire to dust.

"I wonder who were these black knights?" Faith asked. She noted that their swords had disappeared along with their dusted bearers.

"I don't know, but we better tell the others about 'em."

"Yeah," Faith said simply. She picked herself off the ground and the two women headed back to the road by the most direct path.

*****

"What the hell are those guys doing?" Willow asked as she looked out the window to see the pole drop on the force field that surrounded the house. She shook her head. "I better put out the fire."

At the window, Brian noticed the fire that now raged out of control and had spread to the neighbor's yard. Willow's voice floated out as she cast the temporary rain spell. His smile faded as he noticed the wires, which jumped in the lawn. He turned toward the front door where Willow stood and screamed, "Willow, NO!"

He was too late. As the rain fell, the flames were dying; however, no one wanted to go outside as the ground was now electrified due to the wires lying in the puddles left by the rain.

"Oh bloody hell." Giles cursed when he understood why Brian had called out. More bottles were thrown at the house as the vampires tried to start another fire, but the only thing that would burn now was the gas inside their bottles.

Brian raced to the door, where a stash of weapons were and pulled out a Glock 21 along with two extra magazines and returned to the window. The young warrior slid open the small side window and lined up on the lead vampire. He aimed just over the shoulder to allow for the bullet's trajectory. The first shot hit the vampire a little high, just over the heart, not enough to dispatch the demon within. Not allowing himself to be discouraged, Brian aimed again. By this time the vampire had turned to leave, so he aimed just a bit lower and sent the bullet into the heart from behind, dusting him. He then targeted the next vampire, one who held another bottle full of gas ready to throw. He aimed carefully; he knew he would only have one shot to stop it, so he took careful aim, slowly exhaling as he pulled the trigger. The vampire turned to dust and the bottle dropped harmlessly to the ground.

As he sighted another vampire, some movement caught his eye. He turned to see Charlie and two unknowns heading their way. Charlie was in the lead, however the look on his face told Brian that all was not well. Unsure of what to do, he turned his attention back to the vampires just in time to see Randi and Faith skid to a stop behind them.

Brian smiled as he lowered his gun. He turned back toward the others who were headed out the back door. "Wait a minute, guys. The cavalry just showed up in the form of Charlie, Faith, and Randi. The vampires are all history."

*****

As they came from the back yard of the house across the street, Charlie noticed the attack on the house and started to lunge forward, but was stopped by Arrin's hand on his shoulder.

"It is dangerous to cross the cart path." Arrin replied, pointing at the live wires.

"I have friends in that house."

As Charlie continued to strain against him, Arrin asked, "What sort of place is this that vampires have friends?" With his free hand, he cast a Web spell, sending a fifty-by-fifty-foot web out over Steve's yard, which suffocated the flames. He had to cast the spell twice more before the flames were sufficiently put out. The energy that had danced through the cable was dormant as well.

Just then he turned to watch the two girls he'd seen earlier dispatch the vampires. It amazed him that the fiends did not turn to smoke, as they would have on his world. He noticed the form the girls had used and approved of the girls' actions.

*****

As Randi turned the corner, Faith's blood boiled when she saw the vamps attacking the house. She jumped out of the car even before it screeched to a stop. "Hey, assholes! Get away from my friends!"

Faith let her anger sweep her away. Her attack was brutal; she flung one of the wooden knifes that Steve had given her with all her Slayer strength at one of the vamps. So sure of her accuracy, Faith forgot the soon to be dusted vamp and focused on her next victim. She threw her body nearly into a 360-degree spin and leaped into a jump kick that struck the last vampire in the face, sending him to the ground. Then the Dark Slayer landed on her feet, drew her short stake, and stabbed the vampire before it could rise.

After the dust settled she looked around for more targets. She saw Charlie, a beautiful woman, and the strange elf.

"Is everything okay?" Xander asked as he slowed down, his face flushed from running down the street.

"Not a prob, X-man. I think we're Five by Five here." Faith nodded toward Charlie and his two companions. "Let's go check them out."

Randi, Xander and Faith strode toward Charlie, Arrin and Solace. Randi said, "Hi, Charlie. Who are your friends?"

"Who said we are its friends?" Arrin answered.

"You're standing with him," Randi reasoned as she pointed to Charlie. "You also helped put out the fire."

"What house do you belong to?" Xander asked, thinking that Arrin was from one of the elf communities in Los Angeles or San Francisco.

The elf drew himself up and announced, "I am Lord Arrin Parkin, Son of Shobin Parkin, High Priest of Corellon Larethian, survivor of the Seven Seals campaign, Guardian of the Balance, One of the Avenging Five, Lord of the City in Hidden Valley, First Student of Blade the Warrior, First Student of Gath the Thief, First Student of Hilda the Illusionist, First Student of Condor the Major Magician, Fifth and Favored Student of Baurabus, High Priest of Corellon, High Archer of the Spine of the World, and Master of the Rainbow Bow." Arrin replied with a slight bow toward the three teenagers. "May I ask whom I address?"

"I am Xander, from the house of Harris. Not much else to say about me." Xander replied, having heard Shaw and Steve introduce themselves and wanting to make a stab at it. Continuing, he pointed to Randi. "This is Randi Jessup of Los Angeles, Chosen by the angelic host to bear the Sword of St. Catherine, a holy relic which was once the weapon of a woman warrior elevated to the status of divine servant of the one true God after her death." He swept a hand toward Faith, who watched Arrin suspiciously. "This is Faith Pryce of Boston, the Vampire Slayer, Daughter...of Linda Pryce," Xander said lowly and while noting that Faith had shifted from one foot to the other and softened her expression toward the elf, "a mystical champion of good, Chosen by seven of our Ancient Gods to battle the undead and demons that pose a threat to our world."

"Well met, ye chosen warriors of the light." Arrin replied after hearing the introductions. "I am here in search of a Silerwor, who slipped into your dimension through a portal after killing two children. Now the one known as Mayor, with his lackey Mr. Trick, have been added to my list."

"So you don't belong to the houses here on Earth?" Faith asked when she finally understood what Arrin had said.

"We should put up a neon sign. 'All visitors please check in.'" Randi mumbled under her breath.

"Well let's go in and see what the others have to say about this," Xander said as he led the others into the house.

Just as Solace was about to come inside, Duke blocked her entry. He transformed into his Dire Wolf form and knocked her on top of Arrin. He stood over Solace, who lay flat on her back with Arrin underneath her, effectively trapping them both. Duke's jaws were inches away from Solace's face.

"Duke!" Randi shouted. "Down, boy! Let them up...now!"

//She is not what she appears.// Duke flashed at Randi

In the meantime, Arrin softly commanded to Solace, "Stop," when he felt her start her transformation. "We need to learn more than what Willie has told us."

"Fine!" Solace hissed back in her native tongue, ceasing her change. She lay perfectly still as she said in English, "Can someone please get this dog off of me?"

"I will get him off you as soon as you give your word that you will not attack anyone in this house," Randi said.

"You have my word." Solace replied as she tried to maintain a weak voice. She was not afraid of the dog; she could probably destroy it easily. But it was as Arrin had said; they needed answers and these people seemed to be the most logical choice. "I will not harm anyone in the house, unless first attacked."

The raw emotions that flowed with her words told Duke that she would keep her word. In fact he had not felt such emotions in any human's words, this one spoke more like an animal than a human. He backed off but kept a wary eye on her until she was inside and had taken a seat.

"Why did Duke attack them, Randi?" Willow asked. The little red witch slowly backed away from the visitors while keeping Brian behind her.

"He says that she is not what she appears to be."

Willow and Jenny studied the pair closely, only this time they used their second sight. Willow closed her eyes and shook her head to clear her mind. When she opened them again she truly saw Solace. Now, instead of a teen-aged girl Willow found a purplish, young adult dragon facing her. She shot a quick glance at Jenny who stood dazed with her jaw open.

"She's a Dragon!" Willow blurted out.

"A purple one." Jenny added.

"Yeah," Charlie noted. "A Dragon as tall as the bar. Purple, with red demon eyes."

At Charlie's statement, everyone looked at Solace. Jenny twisted her hands and attempted to cast protection spells but stopped when she realized she could not feel the magic flow. Willow saw Arrin whisper something even though he had not moved his hands.

A smile played upon Arrin's lips as he saw the frightened looks on Jenny's face. "Your spells will not work against us."

Willow felt the disruption of her magical flow of energy as well and her soul grew cold. She had lost her edge, that which had made her more than the computer geek she had used to be. And she didn't like it. "What did you do to us?"

"I took measures to protect myself and Solace." Arrin replied simply, "You made Solace promise that she would not attack anyone in the house. She won't, but I won't allow you to attack her either."

"I was not going..." Jenny started but soon realized how it'd sound if she finished the sentence. "I wasn't going to attack you; I merely wanted to protect my charges from a unknown factor."

Apparently he saw the looks of suspicion and, from Willow, wild-eyed panic and said, "I too may have acted in haste. I know nothing about your magic. Thus I tend to overdo my defensive spells in situations such as these."

"I am quite puzzled about something," Giles said. "How were you able to cast an offensive spell against us in here?"

"Yeah," Xander said. "Don't we have some kind of mojo that protects us from spells installed in this house?"

"It only works with offensive spells." Jenny informed them. "Arrin cast a protection spell which is a defensive spell. He would not have known about the spells that are in place."

After a few awkward moments of silence, Xander, typically, was the first to speak. "So tell me, does Fragnor and Smaug know she's here?"

"Who are they?" Arrin asked confused by the names. "What would there concern be with Solace?"

"They are the two leaders of the Council of Dragons." Willow said. "They're nice guys, although their taste in music is a bit off."

"This is the second time I have heard of this Council." Solace said as she looked at Arrin. "I want to see them. NOW!"

"We will." Arrin promised as he looked over to Xander. "Where can we find them?"

"Well see now that is the question." Xander replied nervously as he looked to Giles for support. "The only two people who know exactly where Dragon Valley is aren't here right now."

"Than we shall wait." Arrin said as he took a seat on the arm of Solace's chair while he put his arm around her. "When will they return?"

"They shall be here shortly," Cordelia replied

//"Do you think they are telling the truth?"// Solace asked.

//"We will find out soon enough,"// Arrin replied. //until then we wait.//

//What about the vampire?"// Solace asked. //"Will he be a problem?//

//"Since they already know about you there is no reason to keep him quiet."//

"That's good," Willow said, interrupting their conversation by speaking Elvish. "There is no reason for you to keep anyone quiet."

Both Arrin and Solace were shocked by the redheaded human's heavily accented, yet formally correct Elvish. After a moment, Arrin turned to the redheaded girl. In Elvish he asked. "Can you send?"

"Only to my Guardian." Willow answered. She cursed under her breath at her stupidity. She wished that she had kept her head and just listened in without letting them know that she had understood their dialect.

"How unfortunate. You cannot lie while sending."

"We have no reason to lie here." An elder man man said as he took the eyeglasses from his face to clean them.

"I have learned in my time that those who do not have reason to lie, do so the most." Arrin replied as he faced him. Believing him to be the leader of the group even though there was a Slayer in the room, he said, "Do you know of a Silerwor who came here with a vampire from my world?"

"Pardon me," Xander cut in before Giles could reply. "Outside, you said you were a High Priest of Corellon."

"That is correct. I am his Chosen." Arrin replied in reverence to his God. "Why do you bring this up?"

"Corellon is the Father of all Elves, at least on your world." Xander replied as he looked toward the stairs. He looked back to the others as he went on. "If the books hold true, Corellon is a good God. This would mean that Arrin is basically good."

"Basically." Arrin agreed, not understanding what the boy was talking about.

"Can you reverse the effects of a Torilian vampire's energy drain?" Xander asked cutting to the chase. "Our cleric, a daughter of Mielikki, is not here at present and one of our friends was attacked by one. I am not sure how long he will last if we don't do something to reverse the effects."

"Take me to him." Arrin replied as he stood up, knowing the urgency of the situation.

Xander led the way to the room where they had moved Adam. Dr. Greene stood over him with a clipboard in his hands.

"Excuse me," Arrin said to Dr. Greene and took a step to the side to allow the psychiatrist to leave the room. "I will take it from here."

Arrin stood over Adam and took out a small ivory medallion in the shape of a quarter moon. He laid it upon Adam's chest and recited a prayer in Elvish. At first nothing seemed to happen, but then as Xander watched from the corner he noticed a soft whitish glow spread out from the medallion to encompass Adam. As the glow became softer, he felt a sense of peace he hadn't felt for a long while. The glow stayed there for five minutes before fading out just as Arrin finished his recital. When finished, Arrin stood up and picked up the medallion. He turned back to Xander and said. "Your friend will awaken in the morning. No effects from the drain will remain."

"Thank you for your assistance, Lord Parkin." Xander responded, barely audible as he realized that Arrin appeared to be just as he was before he cast the spell. //He must be very powerful.// Xander thought. "May I ask you a question?"

"Only if you will answer one," Arrin replied as he sat down in an empty chair.

"Fair enough. Would you like to go first?"

"I will answer your questions first," Arrin said as Xander also took a seat.

"Ok." Then Xander leaned forward. "I am guessing that you're from Faerun, but when you introduced yourself you did so as a Lord. Now it's obvious that you're a Priest, too. How do you do that?"

"I am both." Arrin answered simply. "I have experience in a few areas."

"You must have been a pretty well-known adventurer. How long did you actively adventure?"

"Well to be honest, I still get out every once in a while depending on how my city is running." Arrin answered vaguely. "I started when I was very young, about twenty, but in human years that would be about thirteen on my world."

"This may sound personal but how old are you now?" Xander asked

"Well, last year Condor told me that he was twenty-eight hundred years old, I am about forty years younger than he," Arrin replied after some thought. "That is about the best I can do."

"Wow, that IS old!" Xander said with a whistle. "Are you immortal or cursed?"

"Immortal?" Arrin laughed. "There is no immortality, boy. Every living thing dies; that is the nature of the world, ALL worlds."

"How can you say there's no immortality?"

"Everyone can and eventually will die." Arrin replied solemnly. "Even the Gods can die."

"Yes but an Immortal will come back to life." Xander explained.

"An Immortal can die, though. You just have to know how to kill them." Arrin smiled. "When they first came to our world, people said the Silerwor were immortal. A lot of them believed it and started to kill them, cutting out they're hearts to use for spell components. They did not come back to life."

"I guess they wouldn't." Xander agreed. "So what's your story?"

"I am long lived. I ate from the golden tree of life." Arrin explained, "I heal normally and can die from a sword or arrow. But I don't age or get sick."

"That would be cool." Xander replied. "To live for that long."

"You would think so," Arrin replied with a small bitter smile. "But it is not all that you would believe it would be. Especially when you watch friends die of old age."

"Bummer," Xander said.

"So tell me about your group, Xander."

"Now that's a loaded question," Xander replied with a smile. "I guess it depends on who you ask. I've heard different folks calling us different things, but here is the one I like so far. 'We are the vanguard for the Army of Light and it is written that we shall battle the darkness to a stand still'-well something like that."

"You realize that it is impossible to totally defeat evil."

"Maybe," Xander replied neutrally, "but we're holding our own."

Arrin appeared to ponder this. "And your group battles the vampires that plague this town while gaining nothing in return?"

"What we receive from what we do is not something you can lay your hands on." Xander said, although he knew Arrin understood what they received. "The only reward we get or want is to know we've pulled some innocent out of some demon's clutches."

Arrin nodded. "Tell me...who is this 'Shaw,' the daughter of Mielikki?"

"Her real name is Shawukay Redarrow, although I have recently uncovered the name Redstar in her background as well. Here she is simply known as Shaw or Shaw Madison Hunter." Xander told him all he knew about the priestess. An hour passed as Xander regaled Arrin with his tales of Shaw's adventures here, how she was now on the "B" team because of what had happened with Ares. "She is a good friend and we all have reason to be thankful that she came into our lives."

"Redstar is a name known to me." Before Xander could ask any questions, he changed the subject. "I have been here for two days and have seen much magic. Yet when I tried to detect magic I found it in only two places. Did you know about the monsters who eat garbage?"

A smile came to Xander's face as he heard Arrin's take on a garbage truck. After they both had a good laugh, Xander studied Arrin and said, "You can read a person's mind and gather information right?"

"I can. However it is not a magic that I like to use." Arrin replied solemnly. "It is an invasion of privacy that I do not take lightly."

"In this case it will clear up a lot of questions you may have of our world." Xander said with finality in his voice. "Explore my mind, get all that you need to make your visit here easier."

With a nod, Arrin whispered a quick prayer and entered Xander's mind. Although he did not intend it, he saw the confusion raging through the boy's mind concerning his father and his situation. The spell lasted only several minutes, but it was enough time for Arrin to gather what he had needed.

"Xander, what do you know about Dragons?" Arrin asked calmly as he left Xander's mind.

"Oh you saw that, huh?"

*****

"Man...they've been up there for a long time," Willow said.

"It is not an easy thing to return someone's life force," Solace said simply.

"Everything will be all right," Cordelia said calmly. The Amazon beauty scrutinized the strange woman, sizing her up. "We haven't been introduced." Cordelia reached out to Solace, her hand outstretched to greet her. "My name is Cordelia."

"Hello Cordelia, I am called Solace. I am a Amethyst Dragon."

"Okay..." Cordelia drawled. "Whatever. These are my friends." Cordelia then introduced the other people in the room.

As she listened to each name, Solace tried to place a name with a face or particular character. Willow, the redhead; Oz, her boyfriend; Dr. Greene, the oldest man in the room; Giles, the one with glasses; Jenny, the oldest woman in the room; Brian, the youngest male; Charlie, the vampire; Randi, the blonde teen; and Faith the brunette teen wearing the torn shirt. With the names and faces firmly memorized she turned back to Cordelia while pointing at Randi and Faith. "I have seen those two before."

Faith stalked toward the dragon. "I knew it! I knew I've seen your pointy-eared boy-toy before when he destroyed those vamps I wanted for questioning. By the way, how did he wax them any way?"

"He used his clerical powers," Solace told her. "He thought you were in danger."

"How long have you been with him?" Giles went on after a moment.

"Three hundred years or so," Solace replied

"Good lord, how old is he?"

"Perhaps twenty-seven hundred years or so."

"Immortal?" Cordelia asked

"Just long lived." Solace smiled. "You see he possesses a tree of life."

"Are you talking about the Golden Apples?" Giles asked shocked

"I am sure that is what you would call it," Solace replied.

Cordelia watched Solace's reaction while she talked about Arrin. "You're in love with him, aren't you?"

"We are mates." Solace replied calmly as she turned her attention back to Cordelia. "Does that upset you?"

"Actually I was just wondering...how you do...stuff...and...I'll just shut up now," Cordelia said with a red face.

"Two can be very...creative after spending three hundred years together," Solace said with a laugh.

"I'll bet," Faith said with a sick look on her face.

"Although I'm sure we all have...disturbing images dancing in what passes for a mind depending upon the person here," Giles said acerbically, "let's return to the matter at hand, shall we. What does Arrin plan to do in Sunnydale?"

"We are here only for the Silerwor and the Vampire. When we are mission is completed, we shall return to our world."

"That's it?" Randi asked.

"Well...perhaps he may also want to have a little chat with your mayor."

"How come?" Cordelia asked.

"An informant, a lizard man who gave Arrin information, was killed by a dark skinned Vampire who works for this Mayor."

Just then Spike crashed through the door, closely followed by Amy, Shaw, and Robin. Robin faltered when he saw Solace because he looked beyond her mortal disguise and uncovered the form of a mature Dragon.

"Who is this," Robin asked as they walked into the room. "More importantly why is she here?"

"I am Solace."

"And...?"

"I came to hunt down a Silerwor."

"Where do you come from?" Robin asked speaking the language of Dragons.

"Faerun."

"Are you alone?"

"Okay, Faerie-boy," Cordelia snapped, "what the hell are you two talking about and what's your deal?"

Robin looked directly at Cordelia and said in English. "Cordy...this young lady is really a-"

"If it isn't the sprite of my nightmares." Arrin called out from the top of the stairs, interrupting Robin.

"Archer!!!"

The elf and Xander walked downstairs and rejoined the others. "Why are you with these children, Goodfellow? You are not here for the Silerwor as well, are you?"

"Robin, who is this?" Shaw asked. "A Silerwor is not something the team should face without our leadership."

Arrin turned to Shaw and examined her. "You must be La-"

"I am Shaw Hunter." Shaw said, cutting Arrin off. "Who are you?"

"Excuse me, allow me to introduce myself." Arrin said as he reverted to his native tongue. "I am the Son of Shobin Parkin, High Priest of Corellon, survivor of the Seven Seals campaign, Guardian of Balance, One of the Avenging Five, Lord of the City in Hidden Valley, First Student of Blade the Warrior, First Student of Gath the Thief, First Student of Hilda the Illusionist, First Student of Condor the Major Magician, Fifth and Favored Acolyte of Baurabus, High Priest of Corellon, High Archer of Spine, and Master of the Rainbow Bow."

"You are known to me," an awed Shaw replied. "My grandfather use to tell me about the legends of the Avenging Five."

"The name Redstar and its family line are known to me as well." Arrin replied with a small smile. "As are their kin, the Nightstars."

"What do you mean by that?" Robin asked.

"It is not my place to tell you, Merry Man."

Robin looked annoyed by his response. "Archer, you don't belong here."

"I belong wherever I am needed, sprite."

The Faerie started to fume. "Stop being cryptic, will you? Why are you here now?"

"That is my business, however since you always seem to get in my way," Arrin replied coolly, "I shall tell you. I am hunting a Silerwor and a Vampire"

Robin looked confused. "What's a Silerwor?"

"It is a demon who feeds on the heart and brain of their victims," Shaw said.

"There's more to it," Faith said, "than that, Spockette. A Silerwor is an Immie who's made a deal with a demon before his immortality was activated." As everyone stared slack-jawed at her, she snapped, "What?!? Hey, I have layers, you know! I found that stuff in a text we had on them."

Shaking his head, Robin glanced at Arrin. "What happens after you finish your business?"

"I want to see the man they call the Mayor."

"Why would you want to talk to him?"

"One of his lackeys killed someone who was going to help me." Arrin said quietly. "I'd like to ask him why."

"Let it go, Arrin," Robin said, looking at Arrin seriously. "We already have a file on him, but right now he is too well protected."

"Let me tell you a story," Arrin replied his voice cold and hard, matching the look in his eyes. "Years ago a powerful being came to Faerun. He caused terrible problems for my people. Many said he was too well protected. However, I did not care then. I do not care now."

"This is different!" Robin said his cheeks red as he realized what Arrin was talking about. "This man is protected by very dark beings."

"What is the matter, merry man? Are you truly afraid?"

"Not for myself." Robin snapped. "I have lived for many millennia and will probably live for many more. However, the kids aren't immortal or long-lived. They're just above-average teenagers."

"Hey!" the teens snapped.

"If there are risks in approaching this man to your charges, sprite, I will forego contacting him. However, if he crosses paths with me again, he will no longer be a problem for anyone."

"Arrin, Robin can show you the location of the Dragon Valley." Xander said.

"Really?" Arrin asked

"Yes I know where it is." Robin replied.

Solace smiled gently. "Arrin has been looking for my kind for a long time. The dragons on Faerun have been somewhat skittish as of late. If you know where there be Dragons, it would appease me greatly if you would take us to them."

Something in Solace's voice told Robin that this was one woman who would not take no for an answer. "Sure, I 'll take you. Would now be a good time?"

"That would be acceptable." Solace replied regally.

"If you're both ready let's go." Robin said. Then he waved his hand and the three of them disappeared.

*****

Part 15: Separations
(Whether It's The Scooby Gang From Each Other, Immortals' Heads From Their Shoulders, Or Other Dimensional Elves From Their Dragon Girlfriends)

Drake's hide out
Mage's room

Her scream ripped through the halls of the sewer again as the black robed man dragged the impossibly sharp knife against the skin on her arm. He started at the inside of the elbow and traced it down to the tip of her middle finger leaving an impossibly shallow paper-thin cut in its wake. A steady steam of blood traveled down the cut to drip off the middle finger onto a piece of paper.

The man stood nearby chanting in a foreign language that sounded vaguely familiar to her. Perhaps that's why she had the odd feeling she should know what he was trying to do. She fought the waves of nausea that threatened to overwhelm her and return her to the darkness of unconsciousness, a place she feared to go since she now had begun to remember. They had been slow to return; at first they were glimpses of a child in a crib, her hands outstretched as a book floated toward her. This time the child was a few years older, standing over a book where a knight in shining armor had just stepped out of the pages. Often they ended with the image of an annoyed but proud mother hugging her. These glimpses of the past were confusing, yet promising--if only she could remember more.

She glanced around the room, leaving her memories to come back to her on their own. The walls were rough, made of dirt and rock, almost like a cave. It was musty with an aura that sent tingles through her body. She forced her head back and saw a makeshift table with something blue on it. The color drew yet another memory from her mind. This time of an old woman holding the child, her stark and angular features belied by the tenderness as she held the child. The old woman's cooing voice sparked even more memories as she continued to stare at the blue object. Now the child was a bit older, another baby, a boy, sat next to her. The old woman was there, too. She placed a necklace with an aquamarine charm around the girl's neck. That was her last memory as the scene faded away and she fell again into the realm of the unconsciousness.

*****

The mage strode into the main chamber where Drake showed one of the local vampires the proper way to wield a sword. Usually, they trained a different vampire each day, but today, Drake was working with a vamp he had already trained before. The mage shrugged and filed the observation away under "useless bits of information" in his mind. Then he approached Drake with two pieces of paper in his hands.

"You have information for me?"

"I finally broke through and retrieved two addresses for you." The mage confirmed as he handed one of the two sheets of paper to Drake. "And one for me as agreed."

"She is yours...as agreed." Drake dismissed the mage with a wave of the hand, then turned to Screw while he tore the paper in half. "Take Mike and go to this address. We will meet back here before the sun rises."

*****

Screw peered through the passenger window as they traveled toward their target. As he watched the people as they car whizzed by them, it always amazed him how they walked the streets weaponless here. "How do these people survive?" he asked Mike. "Even the young on Faerun carry some type of weapon."

"The people of Earth are closer to sheep then an intelligent race. They hire a force to protect them, then they treat those same people as enemies. It is a good thing for us that they do."

"These people, do they carry weapons?"

"Yeah," Mike replied with a chuckle, "But the weapons they carry are useless against us. It fires a small piece of lead; we're impervious to lead

"Then why is it that you have not taken over?" Screw asked as he watched a group of people leave a building. "With all these helpless people around it would seem to me that you would have a steady supply of blood."

"Before the Slayer came here, I don't know why no one tried. But in the last couple of years there have been four attempts that I know of. They all failed due to the Slayer. In fact last year there was a master Vampire who tried to bring forth Throlog, a major demon. The Slayer and her group stopped her cold."

Screw gasped. "I find it hard to believe that a single human could do all that you claim."

"I said the 'Slayer and her group,' Screw. This bitch has tossed out all the rules. Legend has it that the Slayer is supposed to fight alone and that her support group, the Watchers, are supposed to strip her of her friends and family and provide her a secret identity. This Slayer, though, walks out in the open and, believe me, she has friends all over the place."

"So you would say she is a threat."

"Well she has left me and Richard alone, but I would guess that's because we haven't joined a large group."

"Stick with us; we will deal with the Slayer."

Mike appeared to ignore Screw's proclamation and said, "We're going to have to figure out a way to get inside that house."

"Do you have an idea?"

"Yes, we could do what Richard and I do, you hide in the dark next to the house. I will come running down the street and 'fall' in front of his house. When I call out in "agony," he'll come outside. Then you grab him."

Screw nodded. They parked the car away from the address they had been provided. Mike jumped out and started to jog down the street at a slow space to allow Screw to get into position. When Mike had reached the house, he 'fell' and screamed out like his leg was broke. As expected a young man rushed out of the house.

Screw moved quickly behind him, reached out, and grabbed his bare arm. The effects of the drain were instantaneous. The man slumped into the arms of Mike who had prepared to catch him.

"Child's play."

"Yes but now we have to get out of here before those sirens get closer." Mike replied as he shoved the man into the back seat of the car.

*****

The vampire parked the car in front of the given address. As Drake exited the vehicle he felt the buzz of an Immortal. He was close by. His hand automatically reached into his jacket and touched the hilt of his sword. A sadistic smile came to his lips as he realized that the Immortal would not feel him in the area unless he was very old. He drew his broad sword made of an onyx and reached for the doorknob. The door was unlocked and easily opened. Drake smiled as he entered the house with his sword drawn and ready for a fight.

*****

Michael Myers was a ghostwriter for a popular sitcom that aired nightly, this was to be his eighth and last season. He had been known as Michael Myers for more than sixty years and his current identity was winding down in its usefulness. He had been careful never to allow anyone that he had worked with to see him in person. He had always preferred to exchange ideas and scripts on the net. His death would have to be a sketchy thing as it had been the last three times. He knew that this was not a safe occupation for an Immortal, however the muses flowed deeply within him. He felt that he owed it to himself and the world to write.

Born in the late 16th century Michael learned to read and create almost as soon as he had learned to walk. He had graduated at the top of his class in Europe's most prestigious university and had published ten novels before migrating to the New World on the Mayflower's first voyage.

His indoctrination into the ranks of Immortality by his first death was at the end of an arrow fired by a Pequot Indian just after they had landed at Plymouth Rock. When he returned from the dead, there was no explanation why he was still alive. The others claimed that he was some type of demon, so they tried to kill him again by burning him at the stake. When he recovered from that, he could not comprehend why he was still alive after the fire. But he didn't stick around to find out why; he slipped into the forest never to be seen by the pilgrims again.

The Indians of the area soon grew to both respect and fear him. They called him the Spirit. As was often the case, when something cannot be explained easily, a terrible legend was born about him attacking unsuspecting visitors in the woods. Michael grew tired of being the butt of a legend, so he escaped into the mountains and learned to live off the land. Often he slipped back into some settlement to steal paper and other materials for his writing. He did not feel he was in the wrong; he always left something of value for the store.

Soon he had written over thirty full-blown novels in the small cabin he had built on the leeward side of a small hill. He wrote for the enjoyment of others and would slip into the settlement and leave his novels for others to find. Over the years he witnessed the growth of the settlements into forts that, on occasion, fought off Indian attacks.

As the years passed he moved deeper into this strange land, always ahead of the settlers that were arriving by the shipload. By now he had more than four hundred stories floating around the new nation all under the pen name of anonymous.

Although he did not play an important role in the shaping of the new nation he took care to listen to the people and created stories with the information he gathered. After the Civil War he moved out west. He continued to write paperback stories that were common for the day. He even wrote a few plays that were performed on stage.

Once during the 1870's, Michael entered a small cow town near the Texas/Mexico border to buy more supplies. As he left the general store he was assaulted by a massive headache. He stopped for a moment to rub his temples but the pain did not recede. He forced himself to continue, then looked up and noticed a man who stood in his path. The man was about six-feet tall with broad shoulders and dark hair. Around his waist was a .45 Weatherbee Royal single action pistol, balanced by a sword that was unusual for that time. Even the ex-Calvary officers who still carried their swords wore sabers. This appeared to be closer to a Spanish Rapier.

"I am Darius," the man said in the form of a challenge as their eyes met.

"That's nice," Michael said simply. At first, he didn't understand why this man had gone out of his way to confront him. Then the realization struck him that when he had looked into the man's eyes, his massive headache had suddenly disappeared. "What can I do for you, sir?"

*****

Darius studied the man standing before him. Obviously, the power of the Buzz that he had received indicated this was not a new Immortal. However if this man was ignorant of what he was then this situation needed remedying. He knew how dangerous it could be to walk around without being prepared and decided to help the man.

"Do you know what you are?" Darius asked as he pointed toward the tavern and walked with Michael toward it.

"What do you mean?"

Darius bought Michael a beer and spent the next two hours explaining everything about the "Game." He didn't leave anything out and was sure to explain his own belief's about how they were to conduct the whole affair.

Michael digested it all and smiled which brought a questionable look to Darius face. "I have written some real doozies in my time, everything from hero's to villains. Hell, I even wrote about a race of people from another world, but never in my wildest dreams and I've had a few, could I ever write a story with so many avenues. It is plausible however very doubtful. I applaud your story; perhaps we can work on a book together."

Darius stood up and motioned for Michael to follow him. Once outside Darius walked into an alley and pulled out his sword. Then he turned and thrust the sword into Michael's gut. "Do you feel the blade in your gut, man?"

A pink froth came to Michael's lips as he looked down to see the sword dipped almost halfway into his chest. With shock, anger and pain in his eyes he looked back at Darius and with his dying breath he asked "Why."

About ten minutes had passed since he received the fatal wound when his eyes popped open and he quickly looked around at his own room. He shook his head while he swung his feet to the floor as he thought it was just a dream. He felt hungrier than he could ever remember being as he stood up. He hand was just on the doorknob when a voice cut into his thoughts

"And where are you to go?" Darius asked with a plate full of steak and eggs. "By now I am betting you're very hungry"

"You stabbed me."

"Yes I did."

"I am alive!"

"Yes."

"Then...it is all true?"

Again Darius nodded his head, then took a seat across from him to continue with the explanation and why it was important for Michael to find a teacher.

"I wondered how it happened that I was able to walk away from so many fatal wounds, but Immortal? It is just a bit much."

*****

Michael stepped into the shower thinking about how he was going to end this chapter in his life when he pulled back the screen just in time to see the black blade headed towards him. Instincts of more fights than the Immortal could remember kicked in and he pulled the screen closed while he dropped to his knees, allowing the blade to pass harmlessly over his head. The Immortal sprung up when he felt the blade go by and tossed the screen over his attacker's head to allow him time to get his own sword. It was when he stepped out of the shower that he saw the second intruder. The vampire stood at the door of the bathroom with a sword in his hand and his game face showing. The sword was hanging loosely in his hand; right away the Immortal knew that this threat would be the easier to eliminate. The Immortal watched the distance close as he reached the door. When close enough, he lashed out with his bare foot and connected with the vampire's knee. As the vampire dropped with a broken leg, the Immortal grabbed the sword before he turned around to face the first threat.

Drake tore the bath curtain off his head and turned toward the Immortal, ready to finish the job he had started. However now the Immortal had a sword and by the way he held it, Drake knew that he was no amateur. Drake moved in, his sword going low then high in an attempt to start a pattern that he had used before on experienced swordsmen. After a few moments of the pattern, Drake rushed forward which caused the Immortal to fall back in a quick move that threw him off balance and made him fall. Drake delivered the killing stroke with no ceremony and took a step back as the Quickening came. The bolts of lightning danced around the room before they entered Drake's body. Although the Quickening entered Drake's body, it did not provide him with any information about the man he had just killed. All Drake gained from the experience was an almost orgasmic feeling that left him immobile for a few minutes. When he finally came down from the feeling, Drake calmly cut the heart out of the body and bit into it while picking up the head before he walked out the door.

"Take us back to the lair." Drake told the young vampire as he sat in the back seat to enjoy his meal. "I have to determine a means to learn more about your world."

"Well you can find out everything you wanna know from the Internet."

"Internet?"

"It is a way humans communicate and store information these days. You can find out whatever you want to know from there."

"How do I get to this Internet?"

"I don't know much about it myself." The driver replied, then a sinister smile spread across his face as he went on. "However I know the perfect person who will help us with the right convincing."

"Good idea," Drake replied, his smile matching that of the vampire. "Go and enlist him to our cause."

"Once I drop you off I will bring him to you."

*****

St. Wolf's House

"Now that they are gone, maybe someone will want to know what I have to say." Spike said when Robin disappeared with Arrin and Solace.

"Spike," Giles said as he turned to look at the vampire, "what information do you have for us?"

"I found the bitca St. Wolf's been looking for."

"Oh yeah?" The Dark Slayer asked. "Well, let's have it, bleached blondie."

"She's being held by a Black Mage in the sewers right here in town."

"Lets mount up." Faith said, the first thing that came to her mind.

"No," Giles said as he stepped forward. "We will not go off half-cocked. First off, we have that gate to close. Second, we are going to have to wait for Robin. Believe me Faith, a Black Mage is not something we want to tackle at half strength."

"Or full strength for that matter." Amy added seriously.

"We have to do something." Faith said as she looked to Randi for support.

"Although it pains me to say this, Faith, Giles and Amy are correct." Shaw agreed

"Spike call Steve, let him know what you found out." Cordelia ordered as she decided what course of action to take. Then she turned to Giles. "Giles, take the Magic group and get what supplies you need to close the Gate. We'll go take care of that problem when Robin gets back."

"Gate? What gate?" Shaw asked.

"Willow found the Gate that the Visitors used to come through." Randi replied as the group's magically inclined people started to follow Giles. "We're going to close it to ensure no one else comes through."

"What?!!!" Both Xander and Shaw exclaimed simultaneously.

"You can't do that!" Xander went on as the importance of Randi's words sank in. "To start off with it is the only way Arrin has to get home. Also, I highly doubt it is a Gate."

"What else could it be?" Giles asked, having stopped at the joint exclamation.

"A dimension door." Xander replied, then added after a moment, "Or maybe a portal."

"Xander is correct, Giles." Shaw agreed. "If you try the wrong spell, it could cause more damage than just leaving it be."

"Okay." Cordelia said, accepting Shaw's advice on the subject. "Then everyone sit tight 'til Robin gets back."

"Steve wants to talk to you." Spike informed Cordelia as he held out the phone to her.

*****

"What do you think about Waco and the idea of infiltrating Sunnydale's police force?" Buffy asked as Steve turned on the freeway headed for home.

"Well, it all depends on how they manage to get him in." Steve answered as his cell phone rang.

"Buffy here," She said as she picked up the phone

"Buffy, I need to talk to the Wanderer." Spike's British accent came over the phone to her. "We found out where the girl is being held."

"Spike says he found her." Buffy said to Steve as she held out the phone to him.

"Talk to me, Spike!" Steve snapped. "And where's Cordelia?"

"Hold on, mate," Spike replied.

"Hello?" Cordelia's stressed voice came over the phone after a minute.

"Ok, Cordelia what is going on?" Steve asked.

"Well believe it." Cordelia replied her voice showing the strain that she was coming under. "You left me in a hot seat."

"Calm down, Cordelia." Steve said patiently. "Now tell me exactly what has been going on."

"We were getting ready to go take care of the situation at Willie's when the house came under attack. A few vampires decided to drop a telephone pole on the house, however the shield protected it." Cordelia started and then went on to give a complete, coherent report of what had happened, concluding with. "Now with Robin gone taking the elf Arrin and the girl he was with to Dragon Valley, Shaw and Xander have told us that we can't close the Gate or whatever it is because we don't know what it is."

"Very good report, Cordelia." Steve responded after hearing probably the most informative report he had ever heard. "We will be home in an hour."

"She is getting better at giving reports." Steve said as he hung up the phone and then explained what Cordelia had just said.

"We really should have a welcome mat." Buffy groaned at hearing yet another dimensionally challenged person making an appearance.

*****

Robin, Arrin and Solace appeared on a mountaintop that gave a commanding view of a very large valley. In the center of the valley was a large stone castle with a spread out hamlet around it. The scene reminded Arrin and Solace a lot of their home in the Hidden Valley with one noticeable exception. The Hidden Valley never had Dragons flying so freely, and out in the open. The fact that there were humans down in the valley made the scene all the more incredible to Solace and Arrin.

Arrin watched the Dragons in flight; the younger ones played both in the air and on the ground while the mountains were literally dotted with what appeared to be caves. This was the first time since the death of Solace's parents that either Arrin or Solace had seen a Dragon.

Tears of joy came to Solace's eyes as she looked out to witness Dragons her own age fly and play freely in the sky. With a smile she changed to her natural shape and with a quick look at Arrin she spread her wings and took off to play with the others.

"Yes." Arrin said, his own voice filled with emotions. His eyes were misty but he fought the tears for Solace's benefit. "Go my love, have fun."

Robin felt the raw emotions coming from both Arrin and Solace, so he kept his distance and watched the drama play out. As he watched Solace fly off and overheard Arrin's statement, he said, "Do you think she will leave you to stay here?"

"Part of me would love for her to stay, with her own kind." Arrin said as he watched her play with the other Dragons. "But my heart could not stand it if she left me. If she did stay, would she be safe?"

"Her safety is assured." A deep voice came from behind Arrin. "Yours, however, is in question."

He turned and found nine ancient Dragons standing before him. "And just who are you to put in question my safety?"

"Child, don't ask such foolish questions," the ancient golden Dragon that who had landed behind Arrin replied as he lowered his head to Arrin's level. "Now tell me how is it that you come to travel with the young one?"

"She found me." Arrin simply replied and hoped they did not push it.

"Where are her parents?" The Dragon to the speaker's right asked while he watched Arrin with suspicion.

"Would you accept that they are deceased and leave it at that?" Arrin asked as he watched the group. His mind calling up the quickest offensive spell he could think of as he heard the low grumble that spread through the gathering of Dragons.

"How did they die?" The leader asked, deep sorrow in his voice.

"I believe they were murdered," Arrin replied.

"How do we know that you did not kill them?" The second Dragon demanded as smoke that smelled like sulfur rolled from his nose to surround Arrin's head.

"You only have my word."

"If that is not enough?" The Dragon asked smugly as he blew a cloud of smoke that smelled a lot like sulfur over Arrin's head.

"That is all you shall receive." Arrin replied as he nonchalantly fanned the smoke away, Arrin's instincts told him that this would be the Dragon who would start the trouble if there were any. So with his false bravado firmly in place and the spell ready on his lips he continued. "Hopefully, for you, that shall suffice."

"Be careful Fragnar," One of the other Dragons warned in a definite female voice. "An aura of old magic surrounds this one; magic far older than his obvious appearance."

"Robin Goodfellow," The first Dragon said, calling attention to the sprite as Fragnar locked eyes with Arrin in silent combat of wills. "We understand that you are with the Wanderer these days. Am I to take it that this one too is with him?"

"Well..." Robin started.

"You may not!" Arrin cut Robin off, while maintaining the eye contact with Fragnar. "All any of you need to know about me is that I am Lord Arrin Parkin, Chosen of Corellon, The Guardian of Balance. I answer to no one save He. Indeed, the only one's I will allow to question me besides Corellon are Solace and the other members of the Five."

"You would stand on your own instead of letting a trusted friend of Dragonkind protect you?" Fragnar asked bewildered by the elf's statement. "Even if doing so would mean your death."

"I would want you to know that if we have trouble it would start and end with me." Arrin replied solemnly.

"Honored ancient one." Solace stated with respect from where she had landed behind and to the left of Arrin. She had seen the nine Ancient Dragons land in front of Arrin and was about to go to him when an Adult Dragon stopped her until given a sign from one of the nine, which allowed her to approach. "Arrin and I have been together for close to three hundred years. Every chance he was able to get away we searched for others of our kind on Faerun, but never found any. He should be considered a friend to our kind."

"How can we be sure he did not kill your parents?" Fragnor asked.

"What!!" Solace exclaimed with considerable heat and emotional pain in her voice at the reminder of her parent's death. After she studied each of the nine Dragons who sat before them on the cliff Solace told them what had happened when she had first met Arrin. She also told them what he had done to the group who was transporting the Dragon parts. She was openly weeping as she concluded. "Then he burned the remains so no one would dig them up. That was when I decided to travel with him, although I did not show him my true form until after I cast the love spell on him. Over the years I too grew to love him as well."

"A love spell?" Arrin asked looking at Solace

"Why would you do this for a Dragon you did not know?" the oldest present asked as he looked Arrin over this time with respect.

"Don't take it personally." Arrin replied tears in his eyes as he realized his life with Solace could be coming to an end. Although he did know of the spell he still loved her deeply. "I would have done it for just about any creature."

"Although that may be true it does not change the fact you did it for a Dragon." Smaug countered, he then turned to Solace and said. "You are correct, young one, Dragon kind does owe him."

"You owe me nothing." Arrin said in a determined voice, his voice weakened a bit as he went on. "Accept her into your fold and we are even."

"Let it be so." Smaug replied, as he looked Arrin over once more before flying off followed by the others.

"I am sorry for the spell," Solace cried, as she stood in front of him in human form.

"Solace it was dispelled long ago." Arrin laughed in a tight voice. "Condor cleared it about three days after we returned, the magic she picked up on was probably the anti fear shield he put on me, it allowed me to gaze upon your true form without fear."

"Pac, you know I am not leaving you, don't you?" Solace asked with a smile

"I am happy to hear that," he sighed. Then he looked into her eyes. "Go play with your new friends. Have fun--our business can wait for a while."

"I will be back for you at nightfall, Arrin." Robin said as they watched Solace fly away. "She should be ready to go by then."

"Thank you." Arrin replied as he laid down on the grass and watched the Dragons play.

*****

"Change of plans." Screw told his driver as they passed the Alibi room. "Take me to that pub."

"The Alibi Room?" The Vampire asked as he pulled into the small lot next to the bar. As Screw got out he went on. "What do you want here?"

"I must know if they sent someone after us yet." Screw smiled as he hoped they had sent a Minotaur after them. A cruel smile formed on Screw's face as he entered the bar with the Vampire on his heels. Screw waked to the bar and demanded from Willy, "Who came through?"

"How did..." Willy began before he could stop himself.

"Who?"

"I don't know their names." Willy replied before he described both Arrin and Solace. "If it helps he carried a bow with a diamond at each end."

"It can't be." Screw mumbled before he asked. "Did he do or say anything unusual while here?"

"Unusual?" Willie laughed. "Well let's see, when he arrives two young local vampires turn to dust. No fighting, no talking, no threats, just he appears and they go poof. Then a local bad ass tried to take him out with a fucking machine gun, but the bullets never touched him."

"Let's go." Screw said as he turned to leave. "We have to find Drake."

"Who is it?" The Vampire asked as he followed Screw out of the bar and to the car.

"I don't know," Screw lied as they traveled toward the lair.

"Do you think he will cause trouble?"

"Only if we let him."

*****

Same time frame
St. Wolf's house

"Good to have you back." Cordelia said as Steve and Buffy jumped down from the car. "Robin and Arrin aren't back yet."

"We can deal with him later," Steve replied as he took a look around at the damage that was done to his lawn. "Right now we get the girl."

"One track mind, much?" Faith asked as she strutted out of the house twirling two stakes in either hand in time to hear Steve. "How 'bout it, Buff? You up for it?"

"Faith!" Steve snapped as he shook his head. "Get serious--ow!" he yelped as Buffy punched him in his arm, hard.

"Back off, soldier boy! She was serious...don't go slamming her for being who she is."

Faith smiled a predator's smile, tossed Buffy one of her stakes, and purred, "Yeah...what B said. We save the innocent, Wander-boy, so it don't matter how bad the odds are for Buffy, K, and me...it's what we do."

Steve couldn't argue with the truth as he nearly choked up again at the raw courage of these "little" girls who had more bravery beating in their stalwart hearts than the toughest regiment in the Army. He nodded, then asked, "Where's Spike?"

"He's waiting for you down in the basement." Cordelia replied as they entered the house. "I though it would be a good idea to keep him here.

"Good thinking."

"Thanks," She beamed back.

"I'll get him up here," Buffy said as she opened the basement door. "Hey Spike get up here!"

"Alright mate, hold your blood."

"Where've they got her Spike?" Steve asked getting down to business.

"In a Station near the Dorm on the back side of the Cemetery."

"Awe Hell," Buffy and Cordelia both groaned as they remembered the demon fraternity from their sophomore year. "Are any college students involved?" Buffy asked.

"No just about thirty Vampires and the two main guys. Oh and the Mage."

"We'll deal with him soon enough. Ok, let's mount up."

"And the mage?" Amy asked nervously as she, Jenny and Willow gathered some ingredients needed for both offensive and defensive spells.

"Don't worry about him," Steve replied with a wicked smile as he pulled back the ejection slide on his Glock 21 and chambered a silver bullet. "If you work the defensive spells on him I'll take care of all the offense we'll need."

"Sounds like you're just going to go in shooting." Xander sneered as he started to gather a collection of weapons suitable for close quarters combat.

When they returned upstairs Steve glanced at Larry and Brian who sat in front of the TV set. "Larry, I want you and Brian to stay and watch the house. We already know that it's targeted, so let's not take any chances."

"Roger," Larry and Brian said in union as Brian turned off the TV. "Make sure you take care of my sister, Big Guy."

Steve smiled gently at Randi's concerned little brother. "Count on it, Big Man."

As the group left the house Xander winked at Cordelia and in his best Tone loc voice said, "Let's do it."

*****

Part 16: Rescue 911
(Wherein The Scoobies Do Their Good Deed For The Day And Methos Does What He Does Best; Drink And Complain)

Weatherly Park
Parking lot.
Two hours before dawn

Section Seven stopped just outside of the mausoleum where they would enter the labyrinth that made up Sunnydale's sewer system. He took a minute to look over his charges; although this would not be their first assault, Steve had been in the game long enough to know each assault had its own risks.

"Okay people, we're going to use a three prong attack. Giles, Jenny, Willow, Oz, Randi and Faith will attack the main chamber, which we believe is directly below the old worshipping fraternity. Cordelia, you take Xander, Shaw, Dru, Spike and Charlie and rover the immediate area, no one gets in or out. Buffy, Amy and I will attack the Mage." Steve gave the orders as he looked over the teenagers, giving an extra second to both Shaw and Xander. Seeing only cold determination he continued. "Amy, you are there only to cast counter spells BEHIND Buffy and I...is that understood?"

"Sir, Yes Sir." Xander barked as he racked a round in the Ithaca shotgun.

St. Wolf gave him a thin smile. "Okay, smartass. Now remember to use that only when necessary."

"Sure thing, Steve!" Xander shouted as he and several of the others loaded and locked their silenced handguns.

"What if the Silerwor is in there?" Shaw asked.

"One of us will handle it." Buffy replied, fingering Vampire Slayer. "No matter what else he is, he's an Immortal."

"Be careful with it, Buffy. I have heard many tales about them and the stories only mention three people who have killed them and lived to tell about it."

Several minutes later, the team sneaked through the sewers using the classic leapfrog method of advancement until it reached a "T" in the pipes. At that point, Cordelia split her team off to the right, while Steve and the others turned left.

Willow and Oz had just leaped Randi and Faith, when Oz's sensitive hearing picked up footsteps about eighty yards down the darken passage. He nudged Willow with his shoulder and almost immediately, Willow raised her left fist shoulder high, indicating that the others should halt their advance.

Oz's tilted his head and tried to listen for additional movement, but he heard nothing. Undeterred, he sniffed the air. He sorted out the different smells of each of the Scoobies and struck pay dirt. Someone up ahead was wearing cologne and another person wore perfume.

He glanced at Willow and held up two fingers. She nodded before looking over her shoulder at Randi and Faith. She signaled for them to remain where they were just before she followed Oz deeper into the passage

As the wolf and the witch advanced, Faith turned to Randi with hostile intent in her eyes as Randi passed the hold signal she had received from Willow to the others. Every fiber in the Dark Slayer's body screamed for her to go help her friends. However, the hours of training took control and she waited with baited breath until she heard the twin "pweff" sound ahead in the darkness as the silenced 9 mm's did their work. Still the group remained motionless until Willow stepped out of the darkness and waved them forward. They advanced toward the little red witch and saw Oz standing behind a pipe as he watched the passage that led into the chamber.

"Two guards in the passage, the chamber is about two hundred yards ahead."

Steve listened to Willow's soft-spoken report and nodded before he turned to look at the duel Slayers, who had blank stares as they reached out with their Slayer senses. The Slayers looked at each other for a minute before the senior Slayer acquiesced to the junior.

"I sense no less than twenty vampires up ahead."

Buffy nodded even though she had detected twenty-two vampires in the chamber. However, now wasn't the time to quibble about minor details. Two vampires one way or the other would not make that big of a difference.

Each teen drew their silenced handgun as they waited for Steve to sound the advance. Thus, they were all struck dumb with shock when Faith said, "Screw this!" and stalked out into the open.

A reckless grin spread across Faith's beautiful face as she strode into the chamber with her sword in one hand and a pistol in the other. "Hey guys...wanna party?"

*****

As Cordelia and her team moved down the passageway, she started to curse under her breath.

"What is wrong Cordelia?" Shaw asked.

"I wish Jamaican Girl was here; her spidey-senses would come in handy about now."

"I have an idea if you're interested, luv."

"Let's hear it, Spike."

"Let me and the youngster here go down the walk first." Spike replied while he indicated Charlie. "Our reps can give us the edge and the first strike."

"I believe that would be logical, Cordelia." Shaw informed Cordelia which brought a silent snort of laughter from Xander, who for a minute envisioned Spock telling Kirk the same thing.

It took Cordelia only a minute to realize that this in its own way would be better than having a Slayer present. After she shot a dirty look at Xander, she nodded her approval and watched the two souled vampires move deeper into the tunnels.

Spike and Charlie walked boldly down the passageway. Soon they came upon a set of guards next to a small offshoot sewer pipe that cut back toward the chamber at an angle.

"Hey ya, Spike." One of the teenage vampires announced as the two local bad asses approached them. "Whatcha doing with Charlie?"

"Just talking about what we are going to do too the Slayer and her boy-toy."

"Aw, Spike, they're old news," the other vampire drawled. "Drake says as long as we don't hassle 'em we're safe."

"And if they do attack us, Drake or Screw will take care of them."

"Well, mate, if those two truly believe that, they won't be around long enough to wipe their arses when the Slayer kicks 'em."

"Hey!" the second vampire snapped. "Drake ain't no lightweight, Spike. Even the Mayor sent Trick over to tell them he'd allow Drake safe harbor.

"Are they here?" The blonde big bad asked.

"Naw," one of them replied. "They left for L.A. Said they were going after two targets and they'd be back by dawn."

"We got enough?" Charlie asked cryptically.

"Yep," Spike agreed

"Whatcha talking about?"

"Sorry, mates." Charlie brought up his silenced mini Uzi and stitched a line across both vampires' chests, dispatching both demons with a single sweep. The smoke eddies were still drifting from the small submachine gun when the rest of the team came onto the scene.

"Must be an escape route," Charlie said as Cordelia looked down the passage. Xander walked past the tunnel and checked the main passage for anyone who might have been alerted to their presence.

"Shaw-"

"Cordelia," Xander's harsh whisper cut her orders off as he continued. "We have a visitor."

"Hide." Cordelia hissed as she stepped into a small alcove and watched as the others scampered into any available hiding spot.

*****

As Screw and his driver, who carried the still unconscious Immortal, moved toward the second passage he suddenly halted as warning bells clanged loudly in his head. Something was seriously wrong. He slowly scanned the area but could not see anything that would cause him to worry. Then it hit him; the guards were gone. He turned to the younger vampire and said, "Take him to the alternate site; I shall cover your escape."

Screw then turned back to where the guards should be. Only now, instead of an empty passageway, there stood a lone girl with a longsword in her right hand. "Looking for me?"

"The Slayer, I presume."

"Unfortunately for you, it's worse," Cordelia replied with a sneer. "Amazon."

Screw didn't understand what she was talking about. He drew his own sword and with a sick grin, he said, "It matters not what you are, girl, because you shall soon be my next victim."

"I wish I've had a dollar for every time I've heard that since I started hanging with the Slayers." Cordelia replied, exasperated. "It gets lamer every time I hear it."

Screw snorted, then rushed to bring the attack to her. He tried to judge her experience level before he would attack in earnest, but soon found that she was highly skilled. She met every thrust with a defensive move that drove Screw back. After evaluating her for a few minutes Screw decided to try something else. He bullrushed her, foregoing striking with his sword to use his vampiric abilities in an attempt to drain her strength. Unfortunately, she calmly met his charge, and whirled her blade in such a manner he couldn't close with her.

*****

Xander wasn't too surprised that Cordy would pull a stunt like this; she excelled at doing the unexpected. Kinda like Faith, he thought. It seemed that she had become much bolder since Faith had joined the group. Xander drew his sword and moved in to help his girlfriend. Just as the vampire reached for Cordelia with his bare hand, Xander struck from behind, causing the vampire to arch his back in pain and drop his sword. The dark-haired Amazon, working from the other side, swung her sword and decapitated him. What happened next took four of the five people by surprise; instead of the vampire turning to dust it turned to smoke.

"What the hell?" Cordelia yelped.

"He was the Torilian vampire." Shaw said simply.

"He turned to smoke."

"That is correct."

"Well I guess Arrin won't have to worry about that one." Xander offered, always seeing the brighter side of things.

From down the passage where the Torilian vampire had come from, the group heard a resounding thud that caused the group to turn as one toward the passage, each with his or her gun at the ready.

"Charlie, Spike check it out; Xander and I will back you up."

At the raven-haired beauty's command, Charlie and Spike raced down the passage toward the sound. Soon, they noticed a body stretched out on the ground. Further down the passage they heard quick footsteps running away in the dark.

"Should we go after him?" Charlie asked as he looked down at the body.

"Let him go." Cordelia replied as she came up behind the pair. Shaw looked over the body and Cordelia asked, "Alive?"

"Yes he is, but he has been drained."

"Looks like an Earth vampire snacked on him, too." Xander said as he turned the man's head to show the bite marks on his neck. "Question now is what do we do with him?"

"We can't leave him; we can't take him with us."

"Oh bloody hell." Spike muttered as he bent over and picked the body up in a fireman's carry. "Let's go. Charlie and I will take turns."

"All right, Spike. Take the rear. Okay team...let's go."

*****

Willow reacted first to Faith's foolhardy move. She stepped into the chamber and launched a controlled fireball, which slammed into the two vampires that were closest to the door at the opposite end of the chamber, engulfing them both in flames.

Next came Oz, now in his werewolf form. As he passed Willow, he veered to the left, away from the flames and vaulted into two stunned vampires. The teen wolf ripped them both to shreds before they could react.

Steve, Amy, and Buffy entered next. The two blondes and the demonhunter hugged the wall and moved toward the door where Spike had told them the Black Mage was holding the girl.

Jenny and Giles entered the chamber with Randi following close behind. Like a carefully choreographed ballet of violence, the Scoobies avoided the usual mass confusion of combat; each knew their job and wasted no time while doing it. Jenny watched as Steve and his group entered the side room. She cast a shield spell that would keep all the occupants in the room and prevent any one else from going after the Steve, Buffy, and Amy.

Randi took up a defensive position next to Jenny as she cast the spell, vanquishing a vampire with her sword. Giles, who took up the other side, calmly shot two vampires down as they moved toward him. With the spell cast, Jenny turned to the three vampires that stood in horror directly in front of her. The Gypsy Amazon's were as black as the darkest void. She raised her hand and chanted a spell. Four white lights hurtled from her fingers and penetrated the chest of the middle vampire, throwing him back against the wall. As he struck the wall his body turned to dust.

After she had cast her fireball, Willow drew her own handgun and calmly shot down two more vampires. Even as she did, the rest of the group drew their own handguns and mowed down the remainder of the vampires in the room.

*****

Steve, Buffy, and Amy quickly made their way to the inner door. The plan was to rush in and catch those inside by surprise; however as the cries of the vampires registered in his mind Steve, fearful of an attack (which could come blindly through the door), dodged to the right at the last minute, followed closely by the other two.

Huddled up against the wall to the right of the door, Steve scanned the path through the cavern in front of the door to make sure none of his group was in danger. Satisfied that everyone was safe, he pushed open the door from the side.

When no attack came, Steve squatted down as low as he could before he looked around the doorframe and into the room. The room appeared at first to be empty, but he knew someone could be standing behind the door. Steve came up quickly with a spring and kicked the door with enough force to cause it to noisily slam against the wall. Now the only place to hide was behind the wall his own back was to, and it would be a dangerous move to find out if an enemy was in the room.

"Try this." Buffy whispered, guessing at what Steve was waiting for as she handed him a concussion grenade. "It should do the trick."

"Remind me to do something special for you." Steve replied in the same low voice.

Steve held the grenade high to allow the others to see it and be ready before he pulled the pin. He counted to ten and rolled the item in. Everyone able to do so covered their ears, waiting for the bang. When it came Steve and Buffy entered the room with guns in hands, expecting almost anything except what they had actually found. They discovered the barely living body of Tabitha Stevens laid out like Christ at the Crucifixion. Her arms were stretched out and dozens of cuts were clearly visible on her nude body. Her head was lying to the side, her eyes vacant and unseeing.

*****

"Let the Dark Lords have you." The Black Mage hissed as he stood over Tabitha, a ceremonial dagger in his left hand, poised over her heart. "I only regret that you are not afforded the sight of the death of your people."

A deep explosion followed by the screams in the outer chamber stopped his ceremony as he moved to the door. Even through the door he heard the battle that raged in the main chamber. It was easy to tell the battle was going against the vampires even though he did not open the door. Fearful for his own life, he decided to abandon both the ceremony and the cave. He looked over his shoulder at the woman who lay on the table and cast a teleportation spell, his laughter ringing in the air as he disappeared only seconds before the door had crashed open.

*****

Steve checked the still girl for a pulse. A sigh of relief escaped his lips when he found one; although faint, it was there. Steve took off his shirt and started to tear it into strips to use it as bandages. "Get Shaw...hurry!"

Amy opened a pouch and removed a small blue vial. She handed it to Steve and said, "Give her this vial of healing. Willow and I have been carrying them for emergencies."

"This will help," Steve said as he accepted the vial. "Get Willow's too. Maybe they both will be enough to enable her to travel to the house."

"The gang just finished off the last of the vampires," Buffy said. "Willow's coming now."

"Get Oz as well," Steve said. "I am going to need him to carry her."

After Steve got Tabitha to drink the two vials of potion, he stepped back to allow Oz to pick her up. They formed a defensive pattern and with Steve in the lead, moved out of the chamber, heading back toward the designated meeting point.

As they moved toward the meeting place, Steve and Buffy felt the slight Buzz of what they at first had assumed was an Immortal. However when the rest of the group came into view, they saw that Cordelia's group also carried a body. Both knew that the slight Buzz came from this body.

"Where did he come from?" Steve asked as the two groups came together.

"The Torilian vampire had him." Cordelia replied flatly.

"Xander, please take Tabitha from OZ." Steve said as the group turned to leave the tunnels. "Oz, take point and scout ahead with Willow as your support."

*****

St. Wolf's home

"I swear I am going to kill that bastard." Adam said as he made his way into the kitchen.

"Are you okay?" Brian asked.

"Yes, I'm fine," he mumbled as he opened the refrigerator and reached for a piece of chicken and a beer. "But I know a certain bastard who's going to be minus a head."

"This guy must have pissed in someone's Wheaties." Larry laughed.

"What do you mean?" Adam asked as he looked back toward the two boys.

"Looks like the people in Toril sent an elf after him too." Brian replied. "Robin..."

"Where is everyone?" Robin asked as he popped into the room, cutting into Brian's explanation.

"They went after the missing girl." Larry explained.

"How long have they been gone?" Robin asked as he looked toward Adam.

"About three hours now." Larry replied as he glanced at his watch. "They said not to worry until it got dark."

"Well now that is a surprise." Robin said disgustedly.

"Would anyone mind if I asked, what the Hell is going on?" Adam asked.

"Well let's see," Brian started out as he flicked up fingers to count off the events of the past three days. "First a Torilian vampire attacked you, then a witch was kidnapped, then we learned of a Silerwor who came through a doorway of some kind at Willy's. Then we learned about an elf that came across hunting the Silerwor. Oh I forgot; the elf travels with a dragon."

"Head hunters." Adam whispered as the memories came back to him. "They realize that the only way to kill these things is to burn them right?"

"WHAT!" Larry, Brain, and Robin exclaimed at the same time.

"They don't die when you cut their heads off." Adam replied. "Are you saying that they don't know?"

"We just assumed that because they were destined to be Immortals they would die the normal way."

"I thought so, too, until I did it to one of those things and it came after me about three months later."

"Holy shit," Robin and Larry echoed.

"Calm down everyone," Robin ordered as he sat down. "We will talk about it when they get back."

"When they cut its head off," Brain asked worriedly. "Will that at least give them time to vacate the area?"

"I don't know how it works, but I assume that it will take some time."

"Let's just hope that it gives them enough time to get out," Brain prayed.

*****

Part 17: How To Ruin A Demon's Victory Party
(Some Days It Just Doesn't Pay To Get Out Of The Coffin)

"Tell me Richard," Drake asked his driver as they pulled onto the drive that would take them to the mausoleum which led down to their home. "How have you survived in this place for twenty years if the Slayer and her Boyfriend are so active?"

"By staying out of the limelight." He replied

"Where are we going?" Drake demanded when Richard turned the car around and headed in the opposite direction.

"I don't know, but right now we are getting out of here. There was some type of Dark SUV in the parking lot and I have heard that the Slayer and her group uses a SUV."

"Are you that scared?"

"That is another reason why I am alive." He replied determinedly.

"I would look upon the Slayer this night." Drake replied evenly. "Stop this car and let me see what she is."

"Are you sure about that? They say that she can feel a vampire up to a mile away."

"I am not a vampire." Drake replied still calm. "Leave me here and then come back for me when she is gone."

"Your funeral." Richard replied as he stopped the car. He had hopped that this Master would have been different and stayed away from the Slayer and her group but he supposed the thrill of killing a slayer was too much even for this one.

"Do not freat." Drake said as if he had read Richard's thoughts. "I do not wish to fight her. Just look upon her to see what I am facing if the time should come."

"I will be down the road, but if you are anything that I though you were, get in the car and lets get out of here."

"Wait for me a ways down this road. I will be along shortly."

Drake turned back to watch the parked cars as Richard drove down the road to wait. The sun had just rose over the low hills when a group of teenagers with three adults and two unconscious forms came out of the mausoleum, it took him only a few seconds to recognize the red headed girl as the one with the immortal in the ali baba room. It only stood to reason that she would be the "Slayer", now he would have to find out whom the others were, for it was them who would be her strength if he could elminate them her power would be reduced.

As they got into the cars, Drake moved back into the bushes and watched as they drove past him. He took in every detail of each car so he could remember if he ever seen them again. As they past him, Drake turned back toward the mausoleum and wondered what had happen inside. After a reasonable amount of time had passed he started toward where Richard waited with the car.

Drake got into the car and looked over to Richard. "We are going to have to go in and see what happen inside."

"Figured that one."

"We shall do so now."

Richard turned the car back toward the mausoleum; he knew beyond doubt what they would find there. He also realized that Drake would never accept it unless he saw it for himself. As he led the way down to the junction they used as headquarters Richard pointed out the dust on the floor where the guards should have been.

"This is what happens to us when that group is around." Richard informed Drake.

"Tell me has anyone ever drew their blood?"

"Rumor has it that the Original master killed the slayer, but the problem here is she still is alive. Or someone is filling her shoes and doing a great job at it."

"Do you know what she looks like?"

"No, everyone who can actually put a face to her is dead." Richard replied thoughtful. "The guy who I want to bring across would know something. If not him then Willie."

"Lets see what happen in the cave." Drake replied, "Then we will see what we can do about avoiding the Slayer and her group while building our legion."

As they entered the chamber they both noticed the amount of dust on the floor and the implications behind it. As Drake inspected the room closer he noticed the torch marks on the back wall and knew it for what it was. He moved into the room that the Mage used to hold the girl and found it empty; as he studied the room he could almost see what happen and did not blame the Mage for his cowardly act. He too would have ran if the odds were so plainly against him. The loss of the girl also meant little to him; there were other women in the world that he could get.

Back in the main chamber Richard had looked down the escape tunnel when Mike the driver for Screw came into the room. The worried look in Mike's eyes told Richard that not all was as calm as Drake would wish it to be. The fact that Screw was not with him did not go unnoticed either.

"Where's Screw?"

"We have to get out Richard, the Slayers group got Screw." Mike said, seeing the incredulous look on Richard's face he went on. "There's something else, I heard the one that got Screw said she was a Amazon."

"Amazon? You mean like in that TV show Xena?"

"How do I know? I just heard the voice a female voice say it."

"So Screw is dead?" Richard said in a sinister voice.

"What do you mean Screw is dead?" Drake asked as he stepped back into the room. "Who did this?"

"One of the Slayers friends." Richard replied with a sneer. "I told you we have to keep away from her and her group."

"They will not get away with this." Drake snapped at Richard, with a clam voice he went on. "Go get the one you told me about, I will know the strengths and weaknesses of this Slayer."

"Alright." Richard mumbled as he left the chamber followed by Mike.

As he stood alone in the chamber, Drake wondered more about this Slayer and what she was capable of. Obviously she was a lot stronger than any of the locals gave her credit for but her friends must be equally as strong. It seemed to him that this Slayer was too active to just let go unchecked. He would have to find out more about her and her group. With that in mind he walked out of the chamber headed back toward the Ali baba room.

Drake moved through the sewers with the confidence headed toward Willie's bar as surely as if there was signs that pointed his way. As he climbed the stairs that lead into the back room of Willies he wondered how many times vampires climbed these stairs for information from the proprietor of this establishment, he also wondered how many of them were alive today to tell the tale. As he reached the room he decided to demand the answers instead of just asking for them.

"Willie, the only way your going to make it out of this conversation is to tell me everything you know about the Slayer." Drake demanded as he walked into the main room. "Start talking."

As Willie stammered his thoughts a jumbled mess at the angry words from the vampire who first made his appearance only a few days ago. His eyes scanned the room to see if he could expect any support from the crowd however everyone seemed to be in their own conversations. The room was barer then it normally was at this time in the morning. Only four men were in the room and they were not the type that looked like they would get into anyone's business.

"What is it that you want to know?" Willie asked surrendering to his lot in life.

"I want to know who this Slayer is, everything you know about her and I want it now."

"That is not an easy answer." Willie replied he noticed the shift in position the group of men who were behind Drake made at the question. In his line of profession it did not pay to anger any customers so he kept his answers vague.

Drake saw the men at the table when he first walked in but paid them no mind. If this was Faerun he would have though them as a band of adventures but since this was Earth and civilized as far as he could tell, so he did not give them much more notice beyond the first glance. His anger was just about at its point when he learned about Screw's death but to have this mortal give him vague answers was too much.

"You have 2 seconds to answer my question." Drake ordered as he slid out his sword.

As Drake's sword came into view, the sound of four chair crashed back as the four men stood up, all turned to face Drake's back and all with swords in their hands. Willie's jaw dropped open as he witnessed for the first time the four men who stood behind Drake. He did not know who these men were so he assumed that they were part of Drake's army.

Drake turned to face the four men and quickly glanced over them. The one closest too him stood just over 6 foot with brown hair, which had turned white around the temple area, one of his brown eyes had a patch over it he was well built. The way he stood with the modified short sword in his left hand showed Drake that he was no stranger to a fight. The man to the right stood a foot taller than the first, with rustic red hair and gray eyes, a overly large mustache hid his mouth from view. The long sword in his right hand looked like a toy in his larger than average hands, his muscle bound body along with the red hair made him appear to be a brick wall. Compared to this man the other three looked small. The third man at the table stood a few inches shorter than the first man with nowhere near the built as either of the first two. Grease smudges on his arms showed that he was more at home with tools than with the sword he carried even though his seemed quiet comfortable with the sword he held. The last of the four men was tall standing somewhere between the first two, however his skinny body seemed to make him look taller than the others. His long black hair and beard showed what he was a hills man of Kentucky, his long trench coat was thrown open to reveal not only the sword he carried but also a shoulder holster with a mini uzi which hung under his right arm, butt forward accessible to his left hand.

"This is none of your business." Drake replied after he took in their general appearances. "Stay out of it."

"Put your sword away, I don't wanna see a lightin show and you don't wanna show me one." The man with the patch said.

It did not take long for Drake to realize that he was out numbered and by people who knew more than a bit about the art of cut and slash, and the speaker knew a bit about immortals even though he was not one himself. Drake put his sword away as he wondered whom these men were. None of them were immortal this he knew beyond doubt, that they carried swords troubled him more then a bit. To hide his confusion Drake smiled as he replaced his sword.

"It was a bad idea to threaten this man," Drake said as he watched them also replace their swords. "He has information I desperately need."

"A man's life is worth more than information." The skinny man said his hand on the butt of the uzi.

"Maybe," Drake replied, as he wished he were somewhere else, away from these four men. "I can get the information elsewhere."

The four men again took their seats as Drake moved to leave the bar from the same room he had entered from, he would have to come back later for the information he thought as he left the room. As he descended the stairs back into the sewer Drake hoped that the four men would leave the town soon, especially the man with the patch, that man more than the other three worried him.

"You know we have to change bases right." Richard asked as he stepped out into the passageway in front of Drake. "We can not stay here."

"Yes I know," Drake replied as he looked down the passageway. "Lets move the operation to the next hamlet."

"Hamlet?" Richard asked confused

"Town."

"Oh, Yea we can do that."

"Where is the other one at?"

"His name is Mike he went to get the boy I told you about." Richard replied as they started down the way that Drake came from. "I also found out something that may be important to you."

"What is that?"

"Screw and Mike went to Willies on their way back to the chamber." Richard started as he watched Drakes features for changes that may indicate trouble on its way. "They were told about a short man with bright red eyes a pony tail on top of his head, and he carried a bow with a diamond at both ends."

"Don't sound familiar," Drake replied as he though about the description. "Did he say anything else?"

"Only that Screw seemed to know him and that who ever it was it scared him."

"Screw has been with me for more than a hundred years and he never showed fear."

"According to Mike, he could not get back to you fast enough when he heard about this new guy."

"Don't make a difference, I will find out who it is later. Right now we have to make a new home." Drake replied, he would have revaluated his options if he would have gave a bit more thought to the description which Richard gave him.

"Sounds good." Richard replied as they moved east. "I already have a spot picked out, Mike will meet us there."

*****

No one ever noticed Billy Jones. He was the kind of person who went through life without recognition. He was neither athletic nor popular among the other kids at school. In fact his classmates wouldn't even bother to ask him to sign his yearbook picture if he had beat the odds and survived the school year. While they didn't know anything about him, Billy had a few things going for him. He possessed an IQ that could challenge either Willow or Giles, though no one else had an inkling he was so smart. His true love was his computer. Although he had avoided revealing his talents in this area even to the kind hearted Amazon hacker supreme, his nom de plume was known far and wide in the hacking community. As "Kiz z" he had hacked his way into just about every main frame in the Sunnydale community. One of his favorite tricks was to hack into the school files where he changed both the grades and teacher's comments inside his personal records. This enabled him to hide the fact that he was a prodigy.

He had spent too much time at the coffee shop and was now a little apprehensive of the long walk home. People had been known to come up missing and he had no wish to be one to disappear. His thoughts were panicked filled as he walked quickly down the street while he kept to the lighted streets. As he passed the hardware store a hand reached out of the shadow and placed itself over his mouth while a second hand grabbed a hold of his arm and jerked him back into the alley.

Billy kicked and swung violently around in attempt to break away from his attacker but already something cold and smooth attached itself to his neck, he felt a sharp pain just before he became weaker as his life's blood drained, his mouth became awfully dry just before unconsciousness threaten to overtake him, just before he dipped in to the darkness something silky sweet touched his tongue and he instinctually grabbed at what ever was feeding his thirst. He drank deeply until finally the darkness took him.

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