Archive | February 12, 2017

Buffy: the Invitation (an Addergoole Crossover), Part 24

Part I
Part II
Part III
Part IV
Part V
Part VI
Part VII
Part IX
Part X
Part XI
Part XII
Part XIV
Part XV
Part XVI
Part 18
Part 19
Part 20
Part 21
Part 22

“Are you sure we should be leaving Buffy?” Willow turned to look behind them as they walked out of the gym. “She’s rarring for a fight, you know.”

“I believe that the most combat-ready members of our staff and students ought to, at the very least, be able to give her a workout,” Regine answered calmly. Far too calmly. “They will be fine. Willow, you’ve expressed an interest in Professor Valerian’s teaching, but I believe you’ll also be able to gain useful information from Professors Solomon and Pelletier.”

“Academics,” Willow squeaked. “Yes. Teachers. Yes.” When Xander glanced at her, she was blushing hotly.

“I will leave you in Laurel Valerian’s capable hands then.” The Director knocked sharply on a door; a moment later, the door swung open. “Laurel…”

“Ah, Willow. You came back. Do come on in.”

“She should talk with Reid and Shira as well. Others, as it suits you. Buffy is sparring with a selection of cy’Luca and with the cy’Doug. I imagine she will be quite a while.”

“I… nevermind.” Xander was surprised that Buffy hadn’t popped her head out of the gym yet, chirping “done!” Then again, this place had been surprising from start to finish.

“I’m sure we can find a way to pass the time. Do come in, Willow. We can discuss… academics.”
Even Xander could tell that Professor Valerian was flirting with Willow. Why wasn’t the Director saying anything? And Willow, Willow was blushing and trying not to smile.

Xander wanted to shout, “Hey. What about Oz?!” but he wasn’t feeling quite that hypocritical. He’d been ready to follow Magnolia anywhere – especially into that hot tub. He couldn’t complain if Will was feeling the same…

…even about another woman.

A woman.

A teacher. Well, he couldn’t say anything about that. Except. “Will? You’re sure she’s not a giant bug?”

“I’ll double-check, Xander.” She hugged him. “Go do what you’re doing, and try not to turn into a fish.”

Okay, he deserved that. He hugged her back a little longer than he needed to, then cleared his throat. It took effort to look the Director in the eye.

She looked – maybe – slightly interested. “It seems that things are more chaotic down in ‘Sunnydale’ than your Mentor suggested, and he suggested quite a bit of chaos.”

“Oh, yeah.” Xander shrugged. “Wacky stuff happens every week. Sometimes it’s wackier than others – see fish thing – and sometimes it’s dangerous and awful. But what are we going to do?” He shrugged. “I mean, we can’t very well just ignore it. Especially not with the Buffster being the Slayer and all. You’re taking the existence of vampires very calmly, I have to say. Is it because you have a vampire taking classes here?”

“The creatures that you call vampires are in a different category from Dysmas. Those things – I have encountered them before, in my past. They thrive near these ‘Hellmouths,’ but they can live anywhere. No.” She shook her head. “The Hellmouth itself is what concerns me. They should not be opening so soon. It is far too early.”

“Wait, what? You know about Hellmouths and your worry is that they’re early? Come on, you’re messing with me, right?”

“I assure you, young man.” Regine’s voice was firm but something about her expression looked amused. “When I ‘mess with’ you, you will most definitely notice it.”

“Right, right, don’t bother the scary lady, she can mess with me. So. Why early? Why not worry that they’re coming at all?”

She studied him. “Normally, I would say that I did not worry.” Her voice had dropped to something like a whisper. “I will do you the honor of being a little more honest with you. I have done my worrying about the gates opening. I have been worried about them for — shall we say, a very long time? — and I have prepared. But that there are mouths to other locations open in Sunnydale — that’s worrisome because it is new information, and because it is far earlier than expected.”

Xander cleared his throat, suddenly uncomfortable. “So there are more coming?”

“There are more coming. Your friend is going to find that there are warriors here with training that very nearly matches her own — because we are going to need far more than one dedicated Slayer-of-demons when the time comes.”

“No more Buffy dying!” It came out before he’d thought about it, like most of the things that came out of Xander’s mouth. He thought about slapping his hand over his mouth, but thought that probably wouldn’t go over well with this lady. “I’m serious. I don’t care how much we need more Slayers, Buffy isn’t dying again.”

“I—” She looked taken aback, oh, no. He’d taken the Director aback, and she’d realize what a bad idea it was to invite him here, and he’d have to leave Buffy and Will all to themselves in this place with the hot catgirls…

His brain was doing a Willow. Xander shook his head to clear it.

“That’s how you make a new Slayer. When one is dead, another is called. Giles didn’t tell you?”

“We are certainly not going to attempt to kill and revive your friend to see the results on ‘calling’ new ‘Slayers.’” She certainly looked tempted, though. “What I meant was simply that we needed hunters, other people who could fight. We are, ah, not run-of-the-mill, as I believe you might have already noticed.”

“Yeah, I noticed the vampire and the giant and the cat-girl and the little demon girl.”

“Little… ah. Ivette, I imagine. They were all told to keep their Masks up, but, of course, a directive like that is sometimes just seen as a challenge.”

“Masks? Wait, Professor Valerian said something like that to Magnolia. Something about ‘Mask up?”

“A Mask is, ah. Some of us are unusual-looking, as you’ve noticed. Not everyone can see that — to some people, Magnolia would look like merely a pretty girl no matter what. But with a ‘Mask,’ up, she looks like that to everyone.”

“So, uh, there could be giant bug-demons here? And I wouldn’t be able to tell?” Xander gulped. “I could do without that.”

“We have no giant bug-demons here. There are… spells that allow one to reveal such things, and I know all of those spells.” Regine’s smile was actually reassuring. Xander wondered briefly about his life, that that was what reassured him.

“Well, that’s good. I mean, as far as ‘good’ goes here.” Xander looked at the woman uncomfortably. “You’re way too calm about this whole magic thing, you know. I don’t know anyone nearly as calm as you about this stuff.”

“Eventually,” came a voice from behind Xander — no, purred a voice, a deep alto that was probably male — “you will learn that Regine is far too calm about all ‘stuff.’ And that she is not, by far, the only one.”

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First: Slaves, School
Previous: Introductions

Everyone had their own story about the stairs. Wesley had run up as fast as possible, until their collar had shouted: “so loud it nearly blew out my ears,” Wesley complained. “And then there weren’t any more stairs.”

Talia had gotten in an argument with a puzzle door that had ended with a chute downwards to the reception area. “My collar’s still annoyed with me. Won’t talk to me.”

“Not even for collar’s-choice?” Jefshan leaned forward over the table, looking intrigued. “Mine won’t shut up. “

“Collar’s-choice?” Talia blinked owlishly.

“You know. That bit near the end where the collar picked out which way to go. Collar’s- choice.”

“Oh, that! Yeah, my collar said ‘left’ and that was it.”

“Are we even supposed to be talking about this?” Kayey frowned imperiously over the four of them. “I mean, we did it alone…”

“We did it with our collars,” Des corrected. “I mean,” he added, suddenly feeling uncertain, “Mine talked to me and did magic. Didn’t yours?”

“My collar advised me,” Jefshan agreed, speaking very slowly. “But I didn’t know we could do magic.”

“But-” Des furrowed his brow. “They tested us on that at the very beginning.”

“I used magic,” Kayey allowed. “Once, when the stairway got really uneven. And then my collar, it told me to do something right near the end. But then there was the door.”

::That’s because the collars aren’t supposed to direct,:: Desmond’s collar interjected. ::If a collar starts telling the wearer what to do, it can lead to, well… problems.::

“Problems?” Des murmured. Not quietly enough; everyone sitting next to him looked at him. He squirmed and touched his collar.

“You’ve got a talkative one, too?” Jefshan tch’d sympathetically. “Mine- uch. Yes. You’re talkative. Very talkative.” Jefshan shook their head aggressively. “Surprised there wasn’t a test for ‘how do you deal with someone nagging you all the time.’”

“I think that was the stairway?” Des offered. “I mean, there’s a lot of things to deal with there. How you cope with physicality, puzzles, stress, how you and your collar get along…”

“Danger,” Wesley pointed out. “There was that stairway that turned into a slide. I nearly cracked my head open.”

“That sounds awful.” Des resisted the urge to reach up and touch his own head. “There were other threats, too, like the stairway over the alley…”

“I think…” Jefshan was frowning thoughtfully. “…maybe we each had a different stairway?”

“But it’s all the same entrance, isn’t it? And we all ended up in the same place.” Talie gestured around the room. “Then again, we all ended up in the same place no matter how long we climbed. Or which way we turned. Or which way we turned that next time.”

“So,” Des was feeling a little braver as people stopped glaring at him, “maybe it was an illusion? No…” He shook his head. “That doesn’t sound right.”

::Not an illusion,:: his collar agreed. ::I can see through illusions. The stairs were real… just magical.::

“Magical,” Jefshan said at the same time. “That’s what my collar says. That they shift depending on the climber.”

“That makes sense. When the stairway decided I was done, there weren’t any more stairs. Decided we were done,” Desmond clarified. “Something about getting along with each other and agreeing.”

“And… maybe being a team?” Kayey frowned. “So they’re not supposed to tell us what to do, and they’re not supposed to encourage us to be unsafe, or to break the rules…”

“But we climbed all those stairs,” Wesley interrupted plaintively, “and we all ended up in the same place. So what did it matter?”

They all stilled. “That,” Jefshan murmured, “is a very good question.”


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January by the Numbers 27: Blustering Bishop: a ficlet.

January by the numbers continues (We’re in February now but hey)

From sauergeek‘s prompt Bombastic bishop blusters, bristles: a ficlet.

The Bishop of Bettenhurst had gotten his position in the usual manner – or at least, the usual manner for the Church of St. Besri, especially the Bishopric of Bettenhurst. That is, the previous Bishop had met an untimely end, and the current one had been closest to his mitre when that happened.

Now, normally in such situations, there was a reasonable grieving and transition period before anyone started thinking about jockeying for the position or moving underlings out of the way. In Bishop Bodrick’s case, however, the man was so bombastic, so obnoxious, so full of bluster and impossible to talk to, that the attempts to remove him began almost immediately.

The problem was, it did no good to get rid of the man if you couldn’t be close enough to grab the mitre, and nobody was getting close enough to this guy to touch his headgear. Bishop Bodrick wasn’t only blustery, he was bristly, and he had a staff composed entirely of lay people (who could not become Bishop no matter how many times they grabbed the hat) and Order of Saint Koben monks, who had sworn to never hold any position of authority. He was crafty, unfortunately, and cagey, and a little bit prone to catastrophizing, and he met fellow priests in a long, narrow hall with a very wide desk between them.

But he was so bad. He would stand in front of the populace of Bettenhurst, chest puffed out, and pontificate on this and that and everything. He would make up new regulations, regulations not ratified by the Pontiff or even the Cardinal, and he would declare harsh punishments for anyone who disobeyed. Soon, the parishioners of Bettenhurst lived in fear of new regulations and dreaded going to hear the Bishop speak. But that, of course, was required.

Something had to be done. Someone had to stop him. They whispered and they moaned about it, complained and muttered and plotted, but nobody did anything. Something had to be done. Someone ought to stop him.

The day he ordered that nobody leave Bettenhurst except with his express permission should have been the last straw. The day that he declared the fourth day of every week a holiday to his name should have been the last straw. The day he stopped all classes for a week so that he could re-write the entire curriculum, and ordered the children to spend the time off writing paeans to his name — those should have been the final straw.

The day he ordered the execution of a baker for spitting in the wrong direction, however, someone finally moved.

Lots of people moved, to be fair, screaming in the streets, rioting, leaving the city — overwhelming the guards, who were feeling not entirely sanguine about the whole matter anyway — tearing down banners to Bishop Bodrick’s honor, singing angry songs.

One monk of Saint Koben moves aside all of the anger and screaming and rioting and quietly stole the Bishop’s mitre and his vestments, his ring and his sceptre. He drugged the Bishop’s food and left the man — in baker’s whites and no shoes, no hat — sitting on a park bench an hour before curfew.

The symbols and trappings of a Bishop were found on a quiet priest’s bed, while that priest, like many in the Bishopric, also dozed in a drugged stupor.

Bishop Pace had quite a bit of mess to clean up, and could anyone really dun him for not looking too hard for his predecessor?

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