EAD: Dissonance

Title: The Eye of Trevahmon
Series: Weilder
Series Order: 1
Author: Kylia
Fandom: Buffy: the Vampire Slayer; Doom (2005 Movie)
Genre: Alternate Universe
Relationship(s): Xander Harris/John Grimm; Samantha Grimm/OC
Content Rating: PG-13
Warnings: Permanent Injury; Mutation
Word Count: 11,900
Summary: Follow up to Eye of Trevahmon.

Story

Alexander Harris took the bowl as it was handed to him and breathed in the heady aroma. He could smell the elk meat mixed in with the vegetables favored by the Lrantu tribes, and the different spices used for First Meetings. There was also a touch of wariness in the air. Alex wasn’t sure if that was because of the presence of the silent, but nonetheless imposing bodyguard at his back, or his own presence.

Alex had known about the arcane longer than he’d been ignorant of it and he’d learned to pay as much attention to what wasn’t said as what was. Communication wasn’t always about what an entity said or even how they said it. You could learn as much about a person by how closely they adhered to their own protocols, or how they reacted when you confronted them with something unexpected.

Once upon a time, Alex would have been nervous entering a demon tribe’s territory, with impaired eyesight, a mystical artifact he couldn’t quantify, and an armed soldier at his back he’d known less than six months.

Once upon a time, he’d felt as if he had each foot in two separate worlds, but he hadn’t truly belonged in either one.

Once.

Samantha Grimm watched intently as She’Baru spread the poultice over the rough skin of the man who had come to her for treatment of an injury he’d received hunting that morning. She had made the poultice herself using some local herbs, but she wasn’t sure how effective it could really be.

She and her brother had been living in the Kre’ot village for nearly three months, as near as she could tell, and it was an adjustment. When they had first arrived in this world Samantha was still recovering from what had happened on Olduvai and was trying to adjust to the changes in her own body from the C24. The world she had known was gone. And this one had seemed, at first, to be similar. Perhaps it was on a different timeline or a different level of advancement, but still, some things were still familiar.

However that all changed when she realized that this new world had things hers did not, or at least if hers had, she had never known about it. Demons and magic and mysticism were way out of her comfort zone. She was a scientist. She was used to dealing with quantifiable facts and basic elements that were known and understood.

This world was filled with things that couldn’t always be explained, objects that had as much life and energy in them as she did. She wasn’t sure how she fit in here, but she wanted to try. She needed to find someplace here where she could fit, where she could make a place for herself.

Three days ago She’Baru, the village healer, had come into the tent Samantha was sharing with Elis and stood just inside staring at her, waiting. Sam wasn’t sure what she was waiting for until she huffed and stepped further inside, thumped her Thambo’lir on the ground and spoke with stilted English. “You come with me.”.

She’Baru led her to an area on the other side of the village, where three tents were connected together. She led Samantha inside and sat her down on a pile of blankets before handing her a wood box with hand carvings on it.

Inside the box were stacks of some sort of animal hide that looked as if had been bleached in the sun. Each one had some sort of image drawn onto it. Each had a picture of some sort of plant, vegetable, or a diagram. Underneath the image were carefully printed words in the Kre’ot written language.

Alex had been trying to teach her and John the language. They were picking up the spoken language a lot faster than the written. Sam tried to hand the box back. “I, uh…don’t read your language.”

She’Baru huffed and went over to a table and took out what looked like a book made up of more of those pieces of animal hide, though these were bound together with some sort of twine. She flipped through it as if she was verifying its contents and then brought it to Samantha. “You will learn.” She said firmly.

Sam blinked at her and took the book. This one seemed to be some sort of hand-made guide. Each page had a drawing of some sort of plant, along with a diagram of the moon and the earth that she thought were supposed to represent the time of the month or year. She assumed it had something to do with optimal times for growing or harvesting.

Samantha looked back up at the healer. “I don’t understand.”

She’Baru smiled softly at her and placed the curved end of her Thambo’lir against Samantha’s chest, just over her heart. “Jesh’ar.”

Sam blinked again. She had no idea what She’Baru was trying to say. She really needed to talk to Alex.

Rupert Giles took his place at the head of the long table and looked around the room. It had been a while since he’d had such a full house at one time. He was surprised that both Dawn and Buffy were here. They very rarely visited at the same time.

“I guess we should get started.” He said. “Greece? You want to start?”

He listened with interest as each of the people around the room reported on their particular geographic location. Nothing unexpected was reported until they got around to Lara Mason.

“I have something odd,” Mason said.

“Odd how?” Buffy asked with a frown. “Not a fan of odd.”

“I’m not sure. Lisbeth was doing a routine inventory of one of the storage vaults and one of the artifacts was…broadcasting.”

“Broadcasting,” Giles repeated slowly. “Broadcasting what exactly?”

“Yes. It’s not unheard of. Sometimes there will be an object that turns itself on and emits some sort of signal or magical hum. It could be waiting for a response.”

“Are the vaults protected so that sort of thing can’t happen?” Buffy asked.

Willow nodded. “Yes, but some of the stuff in that vault is a mystery. We don’t know what it is or what it does.” She paused. “Xander retrieved most of that stuff, and we haven’t been able to get it to respond to us since he brought it home.”

“Okay.” Buffy paused. “Do we have anyone else who can get information on those items?”

“Maybe. I’ll look into it.” Giles said.

“You can’t locate Xander?” Lorainne Randolph asked.

Giles narrowed his eyes at the Slayer. She wasn’t normally at these meetings but she’d been doing a lot of the field training for the Slayers at headquarters.

“I might be able to,” Willow admitted. “I just need to research it a little more.”

Giles pinched the bridge of his nose. “Willow. Xander was very clear. He does not want any more interference.”

She frowned and bit her lip and then looked away. Giles wasn’t sure if that was agreement or not, but he’d take it.

Dawn Summers observed the meeting quietly as she took notes on the various items up for discussion. When Xander’s name was mentioned she continued writing, even though she desperately wanted to press Willow and Giles for details. Neither one of them were specific when they told her Xander had left the Council.

She wasn’t sure what had happened, but she knew of at least one place she could find him.

—-

Willow stopped in front of the door to the storage area 1537, where most of the unknown objects were kept. She had swiped her card and entered her pin to get into the central storage area. This particular room had magical protections in addition to the more mundane. The items inside were old and from varying cultures. Many of them had been found by Xander, but not all of them. Dawn had brought a few back, as had a few of the other watchers in acquisitions. The only thing they all had in common was that they were either of unknown origin, or undetermined power or purpose.

Willow had always felt that Xander knew more about some of the items he brought back and had wanted to talk to him about them, but felt she always had time. The Eye of Trevahmon had been at the top of that list, and now…now they were both gone. She shook her head. She would deal with that after she dealt with whatever was happening to the artifacts in storage area 1537.

She let her magic flow out and felt the magical lock disengage. She stepped inside and looked around. When she first walked inside, she could see glowing lights in the darkness of the room, and hear an odd humming, but she couldn’t see where it was coming from. As she walked past the shelves, she felt a heavy vibration in the air. It caused a shiver to run down her spine and she paused, tilting her head, trying to focus on what was causing the feeling.

Willow closed her eyes, and reached out her magic. All at once it spiraled, going in several different directions at once. Her eyes opened and she lit a light stone to see by. She stared in shock at what she was seeing.

A round circular object, about the size of a baseball, made of some sort of metal alloy that they’d never been able to measure was hovering about three inches in the air above the shelf it had been placed on. It looked like it had cracked, or opened, and was emitting a strange blue glow. When she looked around the room, Willow noticed there were four other similar objects, each opened or cracked and emitting a glow, though each one was glowing a different color.

Willow took a deep breath. She was pretty positive when Xander had brought the artifact in, it had no openings or grooves, and Xander had said he didn’t know what it was, or if it was even worth studying. Xander had also only reported one of them.

She cautiously approached the closest one, with the blue glow and reached out to touch it.

The current that shot through her body knocked the witch unconscious.

No one was aware in the room to see the objects spin slightly and the opening down the middle widen further.

Once the meal was finished, Alex set the bowl aside and tilted his head. He could hear footsteps approaching on his left, and feel the sudden shift as John moved. The footsteps halted when they were only a meter or two away.

“My daughter, Rhuel.” The Lrantu chieftain spoke softly.

John grunted when the woman looked to him as if seeking permission when Alex motioned his head towards the space in front of him.

Rhuel knelt in the dirt in front of Alex, placing her palms on her thighs and took a deep calming breath.

Alex reached out towards the gold figure in front of him. The gold was outlined in a halo of white, which Alex was learning meant she was pair-bonded, and to what in Kre’ot culture would be called a Ro’tun, but Lrantu just called their Lra-blessed match. Lra was their moon goddess.

Alex pressed his fingers gently against the hide on her face. He trailed it up the bridge of her nose, to between her large eyes, until he reached the stone in the middle, right where Anji was. As his finger touched the stone, he concentrated on her energy alone.

“Something awakes,” Rhuel spoke softly.

“The veil is lifting,” Alex agreed.

“What does it mean, Nohra?” The chieftain asked.

Alex sighed. “We cannot hide in the shadow of the moon forever.” Alex told the Chieftain. “I must go and warn my people.” He stood and bowed to the Lrantu. “My thanks for your hospitality.”

“Nohra?” Rhuel asked after he had moved away.

Alex stopped and turned back to her.

“Our legends tell us the Eye protects those that came before when the fire comes and no one is spared.”

Alex focuses his sightless gaze out at the village proper. He knew more than just the chieftain and his daughter were listening, waiting for his words. “Your legends are right.” He turns and walks out of the village, John a silent presence behind him.

It wasn’t until they were well out of hearing range and Alex was sure that John was satisfied that any escort they may have had returned to the village, that John did more than nudge him or grunt noncommittally.

“They called you Nohra, back in the village.” John said.

“It means traveler.” Xander nodded. “I originally met the Lrantu far from here. The Chieftain’s wife is a warrior. She was a treaty bride. Her brother is from a tribe north of here. He was on his way here to be here for the Separation Ritual.” Alex waved towards his back, emphasizing imaginary horns. “When children are born, they have a plate of bone fused to their back. There’s a ritual to remove it when they’re about three days old. The entire family group must participate, otherwise, it’s considered a bad omen.” Xander explained. “So, Veluf was on the way to the village for this ritual, and he ran into some trouble. I helped him out, and escorted him to the Lrantu village.”

“Traveler.” John snorted. “It fits.” He paused. “So, you going to tell me about this vision or whatever happened back there?”

Alex sighed. “You come from a more technologically advanced time.” He paused. “You said once that you had to deal with monsters sometimes, other species. I assumed you meant aliens or something. I mean, you were on Mars, so that wasn’t impossible.”

“Or something.” John snorted again. “We told you about the C24, and how it was artificially created by the people who had inhabited Mars before. We don’t know a lot about when or how or why. Just that it didn’t go so well for them. Much like it didn’t go so well for us when we tried it.”

Alex laughed. “Yeah, those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it, and all that.”

John bumped his shoulder. “Yeah, well, you, me and Sam, we’re the ten percent who are fine on the C24. The other ninety, they turn into monsters, and it wasn’t pretty. But even before that clusterfuck, I’d seen some bad shit.”

“Yeah, back in High school it was nothing but fighting vampires and demons and the next apocalypse. The world almost ended on a yearly basis.” Alex could feel John’s incredulous stare. “I wish I was joking or exaggerating. That went on for several years. Then our hometown sunk into a crater and we…well we kind of wandered around a bit at first, but eventually, we ended up in England.”

“Is that when you started traveling?”

“Yeah, but…see that was the beginning. I spent all those years with my friends fighting demons and then, well, I started to understand them. I connected to them more than I did my old friends. It became harder and harder to go back to England and pretend to be who they were expecting to see. The trips back became shorter and farther apart. I would still do work for them. If they called, or needed something specific, or needed help. But there was something else I was doing. Something they didn’t know anything about.”

John grunted in that way Alex was coming to understand meant he was listening.

“Technically I worked in acquisitions for the Watcher’s Council. If they needed specific items, they would send me out to find them. Sometimes they would send me out to underground estate sales, or auctions, to see if I could find something of interest or something that seemed dangerous, or like it might be important.” Alex paused because this part he’d never spoken about aloud to anyone. “Sometimes I would bring them objects, of unknown origin, or purpose. Sometimes they would try to study them, sometimes they wouldn’t even bother. All of them would get locked into a repository they have.”

“In that big castle?” John murmured.

“That’s the one.”

“Unknown origin or purpose.” John repeated. “That the truth, or just what you told them?”

Alex looked at him, even though all he could see was the halo of blue-green around the purple and gray mass. “I may have fudged the truth a bit.”

“Hmm. And in this fudging, how many objects are in that castle that they don’t even know about at all?”

“A few.” Alex shrugged.

“And this thing that’s going to happen, that Rhuel saw, something awakening, is that something that we can stop?” John asked, already afraid he knew the answer.

“No. It’s already begun.”

“It’s good to see you again, Dawn.” Giles hugged her tightly. “You don’t come home often enough.”

Dawn hugged back just as tightly but sighed a little, looking around Giles office, which looked more like a library. Some things didn’t change. She turned back to face her sister’s old watcher. But some things did. “I know, but this isn’t really my home. It never has been.”

Giles frowned and then sighed. “I guess you’re right. It’s not like you really ever lived here, or called this place home. Your sister doesn’t either, I suppose.”

Dawn shrugged a little hesitantly. She wasn’t the expert on what Buffy did or didn’t do these days. Most of their contact was made via email or text message. Dawn wasn’t sure who was avoiding whom or if they had just grown too far apart.

“Can you tell me what happened with Xander?”

“Willow didn’t explain?” Giles asked in surprise.

“She called and said he resigned from the Council and left England. End of explanation.”

Giles sighed. “It’s a bit more complicated than that.”

“I guessed as much. She sounded like she does when she thinks she should be making cookies but thinks whatever it is is too big for apology cookies.”

Giles huffed a breath. “It’s not her fault. Well, not all of it.” He took a seat at his desk. “It started when we sent Xander out on this assignment to acquire this powerful weapon. We also asked him to inquire after a crystal with protective properties. Something happened on the assignment. He returned, completely blind.”

Dawn sucked in a little breath.

“Willow tried to cure his blindness by performing magic on him after he asked her not to. The spell was one she hadn’t used before, and it opened a portal and brought something through from another universe.” Giles shook his head. “Xander was very upset afterward and left, saying that he could manage on his own, and he needed Willow to accept his decision.”

“Do you know what exactly happened?” Dawn asked, feeling like she was missing a lot of information.

“Not specifically. Xander has always been very circumspect with his reporting.” Giles narrowed his eyes at Dawn. “Not too different from your own reports.”

“My research reports are very detailed.” Dawn denied.

“Yes,” Giles agreed, “But your reports about your interactions with the native cultures are not as detailed as we would like.”

Dawn narrowed her own eyes back at Giles. “If you remember, when I agreed to make such reports, I told you then I wouldn’t provide any information that couldn’t be found in any number of places. I would not report on anything that I was privy to as a respected and trusted guest.”

“Well, yes,” Giles agreed, “I had thought you’d come around eventually. How are we to build a proper database of these species if people like you don’t provide such information?”

Dawn smiled sweetly. “You aren’t. The information I am privy to doesn’t belong in any database. Now, back to Xander. He didn’t tell you what happened?”

Giles blinked before shaking his head. “No. He was very vague. He still has custody of one of the Council artifacts and we’d like to get it back but I thought we’d give him some time to adjust to his new situation before seeking him out again.”

Dawn sighed. “Well thank you for the update.” She stood. “I better go get some rest. I have an early flight back to Greece in the morning.” She came around and gave Giles a kiss on the cheek. “Next time I’ll try to make it a whole weekend.”

She left her impromptu meeting with Giles with a frown on her face. He had been more forth-coming than Willow when Willow had called her last week and told her about Xander’s resignation from the Council. But she still felt Giles was leaving some stuff out.

He hadn’t been clear on what specifically Xander had been after. A powerful Weapon? And what about the crystal with the protective properties? That was all very vague. Not to mention this nameless artifact that Xander still had possession of.

She hummed as she slipped into a side room halfway to the end of the hall. She turned on the pocket light she carried with her and swung it around the room carefully. Once sure of her solitude. She took out a round ball on a leather thong. The round ball had a single tiny groove in it. She slid the tip of her knife into it and twisted once sharply and the ball began to glow briefly before it faded to nothing. She placed the thong over her neck and slid it under her shirt then turned her light off and moved towards the door, cracking it open and peered out, looking around to make sure no one was physically around. Once sure the hall was empty, she stepped out and continued on her way. When she reached the end, she turned the corner and went the opposite direction from where the residential rooms were. She knew her little trinket would keep her invisible to the camera, at least for as long as she would need. Then she moved towards the archive storage area.

Getting through the Council’s security was not as difficult as they would hope. Though Dawn was a little surprised to find Willow knocked out cold in what Xander had taken to calling the Unveiling room.

She bent down to check Willow. Her pulse was steady, though her skin was a little clammy. She had a bit of static clinging to her. Dawn could feel it on her skin. It looked like she’d be fine though. She stood back up and surveyed the room like Willow must have done.

“What have we here?” Dawn asked the room at large. She looked around and spotted the five hovering Torvahl balls. “Hmm.” She looked for something to carry them with. There was no way she could walk out of this castle with no one notice them if they were not covered or otherwise disguised.

She noticed a shipping box in a corner and picked it up. She brought it over and set it down on the floor. “Come on, inside.” Each of them spun around for a moment and then each dove toward the box. Once all inside, Dawn pulled off her cardigan and placed it inside, over the balls. She took out another of the cloaking amulets and activated and set it on top of her sweater and closed the box lightly before picking it up and moving back toward the door.

She stopped briefly and looked at Willow. It had been a long time since those days when Willow and Tara had taken care of her when Buffy was gone, briefly. A long time since Willow had lost herself to grief. But she still hadn’t learned that not everything could be solved with magic.

Dawn took her cloaked box and left the storage area, deciding that she was better off leaving the Castle with her pilfered items. These belonged somewhere safe, and she knew just the person to bring them to.

—-

Willow opened her eyes to find Lorraine Randolph standing over her. She pushed her back with a flash of power and watched as the Slayer flew backward into and knocked into the shelf. Willow blinked and sat up. “Uh, sorry.” She didn’t normally react first like that, but she was a little on edge.

“It’s fine.” The Slayer moved slowly. “Are you okay? I just came in here and you were passed out.”

Willow looked around the room, trying to remember what happened. Her mind was a little fuzzy though. She couldn’t remember exactly what happened. She wanted to check on…something. “I’m not sure.” She admitted. “What are you doing down here?” She asked in confusion. The Slayers usually stayed out of the storage areas. They weren’t all that interested in the more research heavy parts of the Council.

“I was looking for you,” Lorraine said simply. “You weren’t at dinner.”

Willow nodded. “Right.” She motioned towards the door, looking around the room, as if she was missing something. “Let’s go now.”

“Are you sure you’re alright?” Lorraine asked again.

“Yeah. Fine.” Willow nodded and left the storage area, still slightly confused, but her head starting to clear.

—-

Alexander Harris sat in the middle of the circle. In each hand, he held a crystal. Sodalite in the left, and a piece of the shattered lewensvera in the right. In front of him, hovering in mid-air about three inches in front of his face was the Eye of Trevahmon.

Alex’s eyes were closed despite the fact that he was virtually blind unless you counted what he’d begun calling Aura Vision, at least inside his own head. He wasn’t using his Aura sight now though. He was trying to gauge the type of perception the Eye gave him. It seemed to provide him with some sort of input that he had been having trouble tracking. He wasn’t sure exactly what the Eye was sensing, or how he could make use of the warning.

He could feel the energy from the Eye, and…something else. Some kind of humming. It was almost auditory, but not quite.

Suddenly there was movement outside his tent and the Eye spun one in a circle and dropped to the ground. Alex sighed and turned to the entrance. “Come on in.”

“Jesh’ar. You have a visitor.” Fleh’mu entered the tent followed by someone else.

Alex stared for a moment. Human, sort of. The flow of energy was similar to what he’d seen back in more human populated areas, but this was a riot of different colors. Reds and blues, yellows, oranges, white, even pink, but through it all, there was a thread of deep green, connecting everything together.

Alex stood and smiled holding out his arms for a hug. “Dawnie.”

“I heard a rumor you left the council and came to see for myself.” She squeezed tightly.

“Let me look at you.” He motioned for her to turn around. She did so and he hummed as he watched the rainbow of color swirl. “You’re beautiful.”

“What do you see in our Broh’ma, Jesh’ar?” Fleh’mu asked with interest.

Alex tilted his head at Dawn. He could no longer see her face or the little creases around her eyes that would tell him when she was making mischief, or just had a long day figuring out the key phrase in rough translation. Still, all these years after Sunnydale, she had become closer to him while the others had all drifted apart.

They shared a common bond. First, it was the bond of the mundane humans living in the shadow of the extraordinary. Then it was the bond of outsiders who recognized when the paradigm began to shift. Finally, it was the understanding that they were more at ease in the wild and sometimes unpredictable communities they’d found friends, allies and dubious business associations than they were in the more strictly protected human areas.

“You were at Headquarters,” Alex stated.

The riot of colors shifted in what Alex assumed was a negligent shrug. “Willow’s report of your departure from the Council was very vague. I was hoping I could get some more details if I went there in person.”

“And did you?” Fleh’mu asked with a chuckle.

Alex wasn’t surprised his mentor hadn’t left yet. The first time Alex had come to the Kre’ot village he’d been traveling with Dawn. She was trying to translate a scroll the council had found. They’d thought it was a spell of some sort but they couldn’t tell what type or even recognize the language. They shipped the scroll to Dawn in Greece and asked her to research it. It had taken her many months to even isolate the region, much less the species, but she still couldn’t translate it.

Alex had recognized the language, but at that time couldn’t read it, could only recognize the swoops and whorls and drawn lines. Ronar had agreed to take them both once he was convinced they were scholar’s, like himself, and regardless of what the Watcher’s Council wanted with the scroll, Alex and Dawn just wanted knowledge for knowledge’s sake. If the Kre’ot told them nothing, they would accept it.

Fleh’mu had taken one look at the pair and adopted them, sort of. She had called them Jesh’ar and Broh’ma as if those were their names and welcomed them. Alex learned quickly that Jesh’ar was a familiar word for protege or student. The shamaness had started her lessons on that very first meeting.

It wasn’t until much later, when Alex was farther into his studies of the Kre’ot language that he understood what Broh’ma was. The word simply meant Veil, a doorway between worlds. At first, Alex had thought that it was a reference to Dawn’s past of being the Key. However, the Kre’ot language was complicated and nuanced. No word was simple.

It was that understanding that concerned him now. What had Fleh’mu seen that first day about Dawn?”

“Willow was very tight-lipped about what happened. Saying only that you resigned from the Council.” Dawn sighed. “Giles, however, gave me a bit of a clearer picture. He told me there was an incident with one of the artifacts and you were completely blinded. Though you look like you’re managing fine.” She touched him briefly on the face before stepping back. “Giles admitted Willow cast some sort of spell and he said it backfired, said it opened a portal and brought something through.”

Alex could tell Dawn was a little nervous at that bit. The colors in her kaleidoscope seemed to be overrun with the green for a minute.

“Not something. Someones. Two of them. Twins even.” Alex could almost feel Dawn gaping so he elaborated. “John and Samantha Grimm. John is,” He reached out through their bond, “Hunting right now. He should be back in a while. Sam is…I have no idea.”

“She’Baru took her to her tent.” Fleh’mu offered as she made her way out of the tent to leave them alone.

Alex nodded. “Okay, then Sam is learning to be a healer in She’Baru’s tent. Elis is around somewhere.”

“Elis is here too?” Dawn asked in surprise.

“They really were light on details, weren’t they?” Alex huffed.

Dawn shrugged, her colors shifting slightly. “It is what it is. So, Elis left the coven?”

“Yeah. Her and Sam are Ro’tun.”

Dawn let out a whistle. “I did not see that one coming.”

—-

Lisbeth Hamilton ran the diagnostic on her database program for the third time since the alert had sounded. It kept coming back as optimal. She ran a final check of the system and took a final audit. While that last check was running she took her scanner and walked down to the storage area. Maybe the system was glitching, even if it didn’t realize it, but she could physically inspect the area.

She started with room 1517, two doors down from where the missing items were stored because that room had recently had issues with the security and alarms. It was possible there was something to the issues. The items in that room were large, hard-to-move items, and it didn’t take her long to go through them. Everything was accounted for. Room 1527 was filled with items that combined technology with the mystic arts. Everything in that room was also accounted for.

When she entered room 1537, Lisbeth looked around carefully. This is the room her system said was missing items. She started at one end and carefully began going through them. She was always cautious here because these items were unpredictable. Items of unknown purpose or origin. She found them a bit disturbing if she was being honest. They were supposed to be dormant, but more than once she’d felt as if she was being watched while in here.

When she finished she returned to her office and ran the report. It just told her what items were scanned. She printed it out and compared it to several other printed reports from the past year. The older reports were the same. The number of items steadily increased as new items were brought in. The last report said the total number of items for that room should have been thirty-seven. Today’s report said twenty-nine.

Lisbeth wasn’t sure what it meant, but it couldn’t be good.

—-

“So, tell me. What was HQ really like?”

“Boring,” Dawn said. “We had a meeting first thing. It was like a round-robin of dull. Though Lara Mason brought up something she classified as odd. She said that Lisbeth was doing a standard inventory and one of the artifacts started broadcasting.”

Alex raised an eyebrow. “Are we talking Tesseract here or Delilah’s forgotten signal emitter?”

Dawn snorted. “Since it was in the Room of Hidden Things, what do you think?”

“I think we call it that because those things are supposed to stay hidden, Dawnie,” Alex said. “Was it discussed during the meeting?”

“Not really. They admitted they don’t really know half of what’s in there, and with you out-of-pocket, they’ll need to find someone else.”

“Good luck,” Alex said.

“Are you going to tell me about the name change?” Dawn finally asked.

“Not much to tell. You know, these days, the only ones to call me Xander anymore are the gang. Elis has always called me Alex, regardless of what I asked her.”

“Hmm. Do you think she saw this? This change in your life, in who you became?” Dawn asked quietly.

“She saw something. What and when isn’t important.”

Alex looked away from the rainbow swirl for a moment. “The people out here, they call me many things, but never Xander, so it just seemed like the right time, so say goodbye to who I used to be. That part of my life is over now.”

They sat in silence for several minutes before Alex spoke again, his words soft but serious. “Did you go to the archives?” Alex asked.

“Maybe.” Dawn said with that tone of voice that told Alex she had indeed gone down to the archives.

“What did you see?” He asked, leaning forward a bit.

“Willow was knocked out cold,” Dawn whispered with an evil little snicker. “Oh, and I found these.”

Alex heard her moving some sort of cloth and then he could see an energy source. It was vague though. “What is it?”

“Oh, sorry. I put them in this box for convenience. Here.” She took the lid off.

Suddenly the energy expanded exponentially and there was so much of it. “Whoa.” He felt like the energy was trying to speak to him. There was a hum of vibration in the air and he could sense the Eye was rotating in that way that it did when it was taking the full measure of the area.

He could see five separate energy sources, each one a bright ball of color, the cacophony of noise bright and loud. Then the sound of glass shattering rent the air and everything went white hot and the world exploded in color.

*

Rupert Giles looked up from the book he was studying when the castle shook. The Watcher took off his glasses and tilted his head, trying to determine if that was a natural phenomenon or something more mystical. The lights in the room went out and he took his glasses off.

They weren’t prone to earthquakes, not like other places, and power outages weren’t common either, even with how old the castle was. He moved away from the desk and took a cautious step towards the cabinet near the door. It held emergency supplies. His office didn’t have any natural light and he wasn’t sure if there was going to be another tremor, or if the previous one was natural or something else.

Giles grabbed a flashlight and turned it on. Nothing. Strange. Parker made sure all of these supplies were up-to-date when he did his semi-annual inventory. Giles set the dead flashlight aside and picked up another and turned it on. It was also dead. The third one was the same. Definitely mystical then. Nothing natural would drain batteries like that. It was doubtful even an Electro-Magnetic Pulse would affect the flashlights like this.

Giles made his way to a separate cabinet hidden against one wall. He took out a magically-powered light-stone and activated it. It too remained dark. “Bullocks.” He shook his head and grabbed the sword and knife he kept in the cabinet for emergencies and went to find out what exactly was going on.

For the first fifteen minutes, Giles found absolutely nothing. No sign of any sort of attack or incursion force, and no one who was supposed to be there either. Several of the Slayers-in-Residence were on a training retreat, with some of the field watchers. Half a dozen of the field watchers who weren’t on the retreat were at the French branch handling something that had happened just outside Collioure. Those left behind were more researchers than field agents and they were more likely to stay hidden in their labs or offices until someone came to tell them everything was fine.

Giles finally came upon something unusual. Outside the training room, there were two bodies. Giles approached them cautiously. They were both lying on their stomach, looking hunched over. The first he reached was a blond, and he turned her over carefully.

It was Lara Mason, but her eyes were different. They were a strange milky white color, similar to Francesca Simon, the Coven’s previous seer. Giles checked for a pulse and she was still alive, but she looked to be trapped in some kind of trance. A vision maybe?

Giles moved over to the other person. She had long dark hair. He turned her over carefully and gasped at what he saw. It was Melissa Francis but she was definitely dead. It was hard to tell what killed her but it looked like something had burned her from the inside out. Her eye sockets had been burnt away, and there was a similar charing around her nose and mouth. He tilted her head a little and saw her ears were not spared whatever had happened to her.

“Giles?”

Giles startled as he turned to find Willow and Loraine Randolph coming down the corridor.

“What happened?”

“Where have you been?” He asked.

“We were down in the archives. Something…there was a tremor, and we got knocked out.” Lorraine answered for them both.

“Have you seen anyone else?” Giles asked.

“A few. Most people are unconscious, like that.” She motioned towards Lara. “A couple are dead.”

“And you left them where they fell?” Giles asked. “We don’t know what happened, or what, or perhaps who is responsible.” He narrowed his eyes. “Go, and collect the survivors. Bring them to the infirmary. I will head there now to make sure everything is safe there.” He turned away from the Slayer and made his way towards where the medical wing was.

The infirmary wasn’t in much better shape. Though Doctor Matthews wasn’t injured. She was a little bruised as she had been levitating to replace a bulb in a piece of equipment when she was knocked unconscious. She hadn’t been out long though and was preparing in case there were injured.

“Lara Mason is suffering from some type of trance, as best I could tell. Lorraine Randolph said they found people injured, but she didn’t indicate how many or what type of injuries.”

Matthews nodded. “Go on, Rupert. I can handle it. I’m sure you’re needed elsewhere.”

Giles left her to it and returned to his search of the castle.

*

Dawn opened her eyes and blinked. She was staring at the roof of a tent. A familiar tent. Her mind suddenly spun as she tried to remember what happened. The Torvahl balls. Alex. She sat up trying to see what might have happened.

Alex was still lying on the ground, the balls were hovering in the air, along with the Eye of Trevahmon. There was also a man kneeling over Alex. Definitely human, but there was definitely something other about this guy. His face was very scruffy and his eyes were full of intensity. This must be John.

“He’ll be back in a minute,” John said, turning to face her.

“How can you tell?” Dawn asked, curiously.

John smirked but didn’t answer. “You must be Dawnie.”

“Alex is the only one who calls me that anymore.”

Alex blinked his eyes open and took a deep breath. “This isn’t going to end well.” He whispered before being helped up by John.

“What happened?” Dawn asked.

“The veil lifted.” Alex turned to Dawn. “Did anyone see you take the Torvahl balls from the archives?”

“No.” Dawn blinked. “That’s why I hid them in the box, I cloaked them before I left the castle.”

“Hmm.” Alex thought about that. “They will notice they’re missing. Probably come looking.”

“Can they be tracked?” John asked standing, prepared for a fight.

Alex reached out a hand. “No. They had no idea what they even were. I never told them where they came from, what they were, or even hinted at their true purpose. It’s doubtful they could find that information anywhere else.”

“They do know that you may have that information, however. They may think that seeking you out is in their best interest now, when before it was not.”

“Or they may just go with their plan B.” Elis offered as she stepped into the tent.

Alex tilted his head and turned to the green and gold figure standing in the doorway to his space. “You know what that is?”

“They will seek out another source of information on the items. An expert.”

Alex turned back to Dawn. “I need you to return to headquarters. Find out exactly who has been affected, and what their response is.”

The rainbow of color nodded. “Very well.”

“Ronar will accompany you back to England, but he’ll stay away from the council since they know he’s in contact with me.”

Dawn stepped forward and hugged Alex and then moved towards the doorway. “I’ll contact you once I have something to report.”

*

“We’ve got a problem.”

Giles looked up from the stack of books he was going through, trying to find some sort of reference to whatever had happened earlier. The medical wing was full of everyone who’d been in the castle. The Slayers and a handful of others managed to get by with a quick check, but a lot of others were in more serious condition. There were a total of five dead.

Rebeca Paulson was standing in the library doorway, looking concerned. She was a Slayer who had been found by Xander several years ago, and was pretty grounded and didn’t get bothered by a lot.

“What is it?” Giles asked.

“I just heard from Lacie. Whatever happened here, it didn’t just happen here.” Rebeca said with a pointed look.

Giles frowned. Lacie was one of the Slayers who’d gone on the retreat with the field watchers. They were over fifteen-hundred kilometers away. That was a pretty fair distance from the castle to be affected by whatever happened.

“What did she say? Were they affected in the same way, or was it to a lesser extent?”

“Exactly the same. She said everyone was knocked unconscious by some sort of wave, however when they woke up, the Slayers were fine, the watchers…well they were not. Madeline died. The rest were in some sort of state…similar to the people here.”

“Bloody Hell.” Giles took off his glasses. “Are they on their way back?”

“Yes. I sent Belinda and Tasmin out to help.”

“Good, good.”

“There’s more.” Rebeca said.

Giles looked over at the Slayer. “What?”

“There’s been reports on all the news outlets that some sort of illness or something has downed over sixty percent of the population.” She paused, “Worldwide.”

“Bloody Buggering Fuck.”

*

Alex sat in the center of the village. He could feel Fleh’mu’s energy at the edge of his own circle. He could also feel others in the village as they went about their business. John was on the edge of the village working with Mohl’ren and a few of the other warriors. Alex could also feel Sam and Elis. Sam was with She’baru tending to someone. Elis was…in the forest. Alex wasn’t sure exactly what she was doing, but whatever it was, she felt very…elastic. He wasn’t sure if that was the right word, but his sense of her reminded him of Jesse’s grandmother making pasta.

He pushed those memories away and concentrated on the task at hand. He reached out with his mind and summoned one of the Torvahl balls. He could feel it moving through the air towards him and he knew if he opened his eyes he’d see the glow of purple light shining through the metal alloy.

Alex reached out with his left hand and grasped the Eye, which had been hovering in front of him since he began his meditation. “Show me.” He murmured in an ancient dialect long forgotten.

The world opened up to him inside his mind, and he saw them all. The children fighting their animal nature. There were so many of them, all across the globe. Wolves, and coyote; panthers, and tigers. Bears, Buffalo, and badgers. He could see reptiles and amphibians; birds and marsupials. So many different species, some he was sure hadn’t existed on Earth in a very, very long time.

They were all out there, sharing their animal spirit with the people who had allowed the veil to be lifted and accepted the legacy they’d been given.

*

“What can you tell me?” Giles asked as he took a seat in front of Corrine Matthews desk. The witch looked exhausted. Unsurprising as she had no doubt been awake for a long time. It had been three days since the incident. Giles wasn’t exactly sure what to call it.

Nothing like it had ever happened before, not that he could find in any of his books at any rate. Nor could he locate any sort of portent or prophecy that warned of an event such as this. He wasn’t even sure exactly what had happened. Only that it had happened everywhere.

Corrine sighed as she slumped into her chair. “Well, out of the fifty-three people who were still in the building when the incident occurred.” She snorted when she said incident. “Seven people died; Nineteen people are in some sort of distress.”

Giles frowned. That was a lot of people. It was almost half. “What about the other half?”

“That’s the really interesting part. If any of this could be called interesting.” She leveled him with a serious expression. “Every single one of those people who walked out of here under their own power has one thing in common.”

“What’s that?” Giles asked, almost dreading the answer.

“Why don’t you tell me. Out of the twenty-seven people who were basically unaffected by whatever happened, eighteen of them were Slayers. Most of which were either newly recruited or still early in their training, or had just returned from a mission. The other nine of us were those residents who are part of the coven or who have a connection to the paranormal community.” She raised a brow at Rupert.

“The other nine people, who were they?” He asked slowly.

“Willow, you, me, the Peterson twins, Andrew, Lena, and Kasidy, and of course my coma patient.”

Giles thought about that for a moment. “Willow, you, Andrew, Max and Flora Peterson all possess some sort of magical ability.” He murmured.

“As do you.” Corrine acknowledged.

“Lena and Kassidy are more kitsune than human.” He eyed the doctor shrewdly. “Are you certain your…patient wasn’t affected? Perhaps it was hard to determine due to his condition?”

Corrine narrowed her eyes. “Rupert, I realize I look like a girl of twenty, but I have been a healer for longer than you have been a watcher. Believe me when I say that he was not affected. He lies in a coma, still, the way he was when you brought him to me.”

Giles nodded. “So, everyone who escaped unscathed is what…not quite human, or magical in some way? What does that mean, exactly?”

Corrine shrugged. “That’s not my department. What I can tell you is that is if this is the same all over the world, there’s no way to keep the supernatural secret, not anymore.”

*

Dawn S’Ranu´ and Ronar went straight to Alex’s house when they reached the city. Dawn liked her visits home about as well as Alex did, though her reasons were slightly different. She had thrown herself into her linguistic studies, and while there was much to be found in many dialects of human languages, she really thrived on the languages of demon communities. Some of them were not only hard to understand, pronounce and correlate to human ideas, but some of their concepts didn’t translate at all.

The only way she had found she could truly grasp those languages and their differing dialects was to truly immerse herself in the cultures they came from. Sometimes that was possible, and an experience worth the pitfalls. Other times, it just wasn’t possible, and she had to learn as best she could.

Dawn preferred the many and varied communities of the other, to those of humans. Sometimes she worried that it was because she wasn’t really human herself, but eventually she stopped worrying about what she was supposed to be and just accepted what she was.

Alex had brought her with him to meet the Erorinn because he had thought she might find their language of interest. She had found more than their language of interest, as it turned out. When he had left after ten days to make a meeting in another village, Dawn had stayed behind.

That was the trip that forced Dawn to institute their ‘what-happens-in-the-field-stays-in-the-field’ policy, though she was sure Alex knew far more about Dawn’s relationship with the Erorinn than just what she was comfortable sharing.

The fact that he never hassled or, or gave her lectures, was one of the reasons he was her best friend. When she finally told him she had married Aneni Ranu´ of the Erorinn, he just smiled softly at her and hugged her tightly. That was why he was more her brother than Buffy was her sister.

So when Alex asked her to return to Watcher Headquarters, a place neither of them called home, she went, without question.

“The witch has been here,” Ronar spoke softly as he approached the front door.

“Not surprising.” Dawn reached out a hand but didn’t touch the door. She pulled out a small spherical ball and a dagger out of an inner pocket. She twisted the ball slightly and cut the tip of her thumb, smearing a drop of blood onto the ball and then released it. It hovered in the air in front of her for a moment and then a holographic display appeared, in curved lines and swirls.

“What’s it say?” Ronar asked, looking at the display.

“It’s been weeks. Probably right after you guys left.” Dawn grabbed the ball, twisted it again and stored it in her pocket once more. “Come on. Let’s go inside. Then I want to go over to the castle and see what the situation is over there.”

“While you do that, I’m going to contact some people to see if they can give me an idea of how the locals are reacting.” Ronar took down the wards and unlocked the door and entered the room.

“Sounds like a plan.” Dawn followed him inside.

*

Rebeca Paulson stood in the doorway to Giles office and waited. It took a few minutes before the older man realized she was standing there. He looked up and blinked at her for a second and then took his glasses off as if that would clarify what he was seeing.

“Yes?”

“We’ve got a call on the internal hotline. From a Hamish Faulkner.”

Giles blinked owlishly at her. He looked at his own phone sitting on his desk. “Why…why would he call the hotline number?”

“He mentioned he’d called you direct, but your number has been tied up trying to deal with…everything.”

Giles nodded.

“I’m not sure why he called the internal hotline and not the one the public uses though.” Rebeca shrugged. “We’ve transferred it to line three.”

Giles nodded and waited for her to leave before he picked it up. “Ham?”

“Rupert? What the devil is going on? I know this dragon shite is something to do with your brand of crazy. I have a group of trainees who’ve all gone a little crazier than we prefer them over on this side of the divide.”

Giles rubbed his eyes because he wasn’t exactly sure what to tell his old friend. “What exactly happened to them?” Were his trainees unconscious, dead, ill, what?

“Lets just put it like this. I’ve got two people in some sort of trance. Another two crying over I have no idea what. Three were lit on fire from the inside, and they are very much dead, and one of my best students just turned into a falcon. So, I will ask again, what the devil is going on?”

Giles blew out a breath. “We’ve had an incident, of unknown origin.”

Hamish snorted. “Alright. I’m going to get these guys situated with Harry and then I’m coming in so you can brief me.”

“Harry is okay? He’s not injured or anything?” Giles asked in interest. He’s known Harry Hart almost as long as he’d known Hamish.

“He’s fine. He was knocked out. We both were, and he’s had a bit of a headache, but other than that, he’s been fine. Why?”

Giles hummed. “He better come with you.” He paused. “Sooner rather than later.” He hung up before Hamish could argue the point, as his old friend was sometimes prone to do.

Perhaps he might get ahead of this thing, whatever it was. Maybe.

*

Alex concentrated on the third Torvahl ball. This one was a pale yellow, and the energy was calm and soothing. He reached out through that energy to see all the people this energy had touched. The recipients of this power were in a state of chaos and confusion. All across the planet there were people whose minds and hearts had been opened up to the thoughts and feelings of others and were unused to the influx of new input.

He drew on his own power, his connection to the Eye as he focused on the Torvahl ball and willed their minds to shield themselves. He knew the instinct was there; they were just too traumatized to give in to what their instinct was telling them to do.

When he felt millions of shields snap into place all at once, Alex sagged, exhausted. He opened his eyes and stared at the hovering objects for a moment. The Torvahl ball hovered for a moment longer before it’s yellow aura disappeared and it dropped to the floor.

Alex picked it up and set it inside the box before picking up the next one, a dark blue.

This one carried the essence of the physical changes for people whose genetics gave them a fraction of what their ancestors had wielded in times past. Alex called on his inner calm and pushed it out to the world, allowing the people suffering from unknown changes to feel his certainty that they would survive, that they could master their lives and whatever fate had wrought.

He breathed out slowly, and after a moment, he felt the echo of it around the world.

Alex turned to the last two balls. One, glowing a bright red, and the last one dark, no longer glowing. By a process of elimination, he knew that had once been the green one, the one most connected with the living force of the planet. He nudged it away for a moment while he focused on the red ball of energy.

*

Dawn made her circuit around the castle. She was wearing one of Aneni’s cloaking amulets so she wouldn’t be noticed until she wanted to be. She started in the Archives since that was where the Torvahl Balls had been stored, and where Willow had been when she was here last.

The archives were abandoned now though. She noticed that everything was locked up pretty tight. They probably didn’t want anyone getting in while things were so…out of control.

Her trip back to human civilization was an eye-opener. The first day or so she and Ronar had spent leaving the villages and territories of the Kre’ot and their neighbors. They hadn’t been affected by what had been unleashed by the Torvahl so it wasn’t until they started to enter human populated areas that things started to become clear.

Still, it had been hard to tell the true scope of the changes, versus the wide-spread panic. Humans were prone to panic first. She knew she wouldn’t get the information Alex wanted until she could see what Giles and his watchers had gathered, even as ignorant as they were to the cause.

Now, walking through the castle she could see that things were not too different. She had passed two of the training rooms on her way up from the archives and she had seen several of the slayers in there sparring, so clearly nothing had changed there.

She’d passed a couple of watchers in one of the research areas, and they seemed to be doing what they did best…researching. Researching what she had no idea, because as far as she knew there was no precedent for what was going on in the world, but no doubt they would try to find something to make themselves feel productive.

Her final stop before deciding to make her way to Giles and make her appearance known was the infirmary. If there were sick or wounded, they would be with Corrine Matthews. She stepped inside the room and looked around.

Several of the beds were occupied, but it was hard to tell what exactly might be wrong with them. She moved around the room carefully, trying to see if there was anything obvious or telling without looking deeper or getting into the records.

“I thought you returned home.”

Dawn moved away from the patient area and turned towards Corrine’s office. The witch was staring towards her but not directly at her. Corrine was a powerful witch, more powerful in some ways then Willow, but her focus had always been on the healing arts. She never used her abilities for fighting evil or even for protection or defense.

“When I saw the news, I came back,” Dawn told her.

Corrine looked in her direction before nodding once. “These people will survive. They’ll be different, but they’ll live.”

“What happened to them?” Dawn asked carefully.

“Different things. They’ve all been changed in one form or another.”

Dawn turned back to the patient beds and took a breath and looked at them with her other sight. She could see their auras, same as before, but now they were ringed with a bright halo of color.

That was new.

*

“Rupert, you want to tell us what’s going on?” Harry Hart asked as he took a seat in the small conference room.

Hamish Faulkner, better known as Merlin to their work associates, sat beside him and raised a brow and silently waited for Rupert Giles to answer Harry’s question.

“I’m not exactly sure, to be honest,” Giles admitted.

Harry and Hamish exchanged a speaking look. “Start at the beginning then.”

Giles rubbed the bridge of his nose. “The beginning for us was two days ago when something happened that knocked out many here. For some, it was brief, for others, that was the beginning.”

“How many are some?” Hamish asked.

“At the time of the incident, there were fifty-three people in the building. Twenty-seven were relatively unaffected.”

“And the other twenty-six people?” Harry asked.

Giles sighed heavily. “Seven died. Nineteen were sent to the medical wing in some sort of distress. There are still eleven people that haven’t been released by our doctor.”

“And what exactly is wrong with them?” Harry asked.

“Dr. Matthews hasn’t given a full report, but my understanding is that they are experiencing a range of new abilities. One of our researchers had to be sedated due to what Dr. Matthews referred to as an inability to shield properly. One of our more seasoned watchers slipped into some kind of catatonic state after he overheard something from five miles away. And our logistics and operations specialist is currently a twenty-foot Burmese Python.”

Hamish looked intrigued. “A python? That sounds like what happened to Roxie.”

“Have you figured out what caused this?” Harry asked. “Or why only half of your people were affected? What about the rest of them?”

“No. We’ve been researching, to see if an event like this was foretold, or if anything like this has ever happened before, but so far, we haven’t come across anything. As for why those particular people, our doctor has a theory.”

“Well? What is it?”’ Hamish asked after a minute went by without Rupert explaining what exactly this theory entailed.

“All of the people who were affected during the incident were one-hundred percent human, with no exceptions. None of them had any advantages, mystical or otherwise, and they weren’t practitioners of the mystic arts.”

“And the twenty-seven who weren’t affected?” Harry asked sitting all the way back in his chair.

“Slayers and witches from a nearby coven mostly. Plus myself.”

“The seven dead.” Hamish asked, “How exactly did they die? Was it like our three trainees? Burned from the inside by something?”

Giles nodded. “A few, yes. Two of them just stopped. Corrine Matthews, our doctor, couldn’t find a cause of death. She said their heart stopped, but she couldn’t find a reason for it.”

Harry was about to respond when the door opened and all three men turned. There was a woman standing just inside the door. She appeared to be in her late twenties, maybe early thirties. There was something off about her, but Harry couldn’t quite figure out what it was.

“Dawn.” Giles stood up from the table. “I thought you returned to Greece.”

“I was on my way to the airport, but decided to return here when I saw what was happening out there.”

Hamish looked at the woman with interest. She was telling a half-truth, but he wasn’t sure which part of what she said was true. “Who are you?” He asked.

“Oh, sorry.” Giles motioned towards the woman. “Harry Hart, Hamish Faulkner, this is Buffy’s sister, Dawn.”

The woman smiled and reached out to shake their hands. “Dawn Summers. Nice to meet you.”

Hamish raised a brow. Another lie, but a vague one.

“They’re old friends of mine from school,” Giles explained. “Their organization, the Kingsmen, is associated with the Watchers. They deal with more mundane threats.”

Hamish snorted. “I’m not sure we’ll have any more of those, Rupert.” He looked across at the woman again. “Ms. Summers,” He spoke the name with a slight question in his tone, “were you affected by the incident? Rupert was just explaining how the people here reacted to it.”

The woman looked at Giles briefly before turning to look back at Hamish and grinning.

*

Several hours later, Giles was going through the reports that the researchers who were working on the situation had provided.

“There’s nothing here that even hints at a cause or any sort of precedent,” Giles grumbled.

“Are you sure that this wasn’t natural?” Hamish asked after reading over one particular report for the third time.

Harry looked up from his own report and eyed his friend. “What makes you ask that ?”

“Doctor Matthew’s autopsies.” Hamish pulled out a stack of reports. “Every one of them lists no foreign matter. No chemicals, no objects, nothing that isn’t supposed to be there or that hasn’t been there in previous scans or exams. There is no explanation for why the heart just stopped, for no reason, in a small handful of people or why the others basically caught on fire from the inside. However, she states clearly in every one of these reports that nothing foreign was introduced.” He looked from Harry to Rupert. “You know what that tells me? That whatever caused these people to die was a natural element.”

Dawn looked at the man with interest as she asked, “and what about the people who didn’t die?”

Hamish looked at her silently for a moment before turning away and pulling out a separate stack of reports, also from Corrine Matthews. “These scans and tests she took also indicate that nothing foreign was introduced. Which, again, means that whatever changed these people was already a part of them.” He looked around at the other men at the table, “A part of us.”

“Nevertheless, something activated whatever it was. We need to find that something.”

“To what end, Rupert?” Harry asked. “It is done. Finding out the how isn’t going to change it. It isn’t going to bring back the ones who died.”

“The Eye of Trevahmon,” Giles said suddenly.

Hamish and Harry looked at Giles as if he was suddenly speaking a language they weren’t fluent in. 

Dawn eyed the watcher carefully. “What about it?”

“This all started with Xander’s mission to acquire the Thambo’li and Lewensvera. He returned from that mission injured, and the Eye of Trevahmon hasn’t been out of his possession since then.”

“You think that has something to do with what happened here?” Dawn asked with a tilt of her head. She noticed Hamish was staring oddly at her again but was more amused by the scrutiny than concerned.

“We were never able to determine exactly what caused his blindness or what the Eye of Trevahmon’s purpose was. He was never very forthcoming about it when we asked.”

Dawn sighed as she stared for a quiet minute at Giles and then moved her gaze to the two others. She tilted her head to the side and allowed her other vision to see them. She could see their auras. She’d always been able to do that when she took the time to learn. Giles’ was primarily gray with lines of black, but now it was outlined in a halo of yellow. Hamish had a green and gold aura, but it was also outlined by a halo of yellow. Harry had a gray and purple aura and a blue outline.

“Xander believed in the work you do here, but he also believed in other things.” She said finally. “You’re not always completely transparent, Giles.”

Giles frowned at her, but Hamish snorted.

“What exactly do you mean? You know some of the information we collect is very…delicate, and we can’t share it in open channels.”

Dawn nodded. She understood that. She had always understood that the information she received for translations was sometimes without context and very vague for a lot of different reasons, and though she had a secure and encrypted server, some information couldn’t or wouldn’t be shared unless she came in person, which she wasn’t always willing to do, also, for a variety of reasons.

“And the information you shared with me last time I was here? In-person? That wasn’t an open channel, except in the sense we were speaking openly in a room not too far from this one.”

Giles frowned again and took off his glasses. “I shared with you the information we had at the time. That was before the…incident. We didn’t know what was about to happen yet.”

Dawn rolled her eyes. Why was it that every time she came to this place, she felt like she was sixteen again? “I am referring to what happened to Xander, Giles. Since you brought that up, let’s talk about that for a moment. When I was here, you told me that he was injured on assignment—completely blinded. That isn’t exactly true. You told me that he had possession of a council artifact. As you have just now stated, you actually meant the Eye of Trevahmon; that; that was also not exactly the truth. You said that Willow did magic on him without his permission and brought something through a portal. While it is true that Willow did magic on him against his will, what came through the portal is not a some-thing but two some-ones. That is a lot of misrepresentation.”

Hamish snorted again. “That’s a lot of revisionism.”

Giles finished cleaning his glasses and stared at Dawn pointedly until she took a seat at the table again. “Where are you getting your information?”

“Xander and I are both expected to go out into the places where you can’t send a slayer and interact with the locals. In order to do what you ask of us, we must make friends and allies with these people. Some of those allies are the same.”

Giles looked at her in interest for a moment before digging through the paperwork on the table. “Lara Mason filed this report before the incident, and she slipped into, well, whatever has her now.” he handed it over to Dawn. “It says that she believes that we could perhaps get someone to help with our questions regarding some of the artifacts of unknown origin.”

“Oh?” Dawn leaned forward.

“Several of the watcher reports for the field in the past few years have made mention of someone the locals refer to as Nohra. They’re not sure what language the word is from or what it means, just that other tribes have adapted it for this person. He has a lot of contacts in the demon communities and knows a lot about the different types of magic. He sounds like the person to go to if we need information.”

“You can’t get in touch with the person who acquired this Eye of Trevahmon?” Harry asked.

“Not at the moment. He left England, but I’m not sure where he went. He was agitated.” Giles admitted.

Hamish eyed Dawn with interest. “You said you and this…Xander have similar contacts. Does that mean you’ve heard of this man? This Nohra?”

“I have heard of him.” She said slowly.

Giles sat up a little straighter. “You have? Could you bring him here?”

Dawn shook her head. “No. He won’t come here. But,” She held a hand up to forestall the watcher, “I can escort two people to him.”

“Just two?” Hamish asked with an interested look.

“Yes, just two. Are you interested, Mr. Faulkner?”

“I believe I am.” He smiled at her. “And my friends call me Merlin.”

*

Glossary

Bre’mulat

Sword-like Krea’ot weapon

Frehven

A demon who can pass for human; a society of scholars-value knowledge above all else.  They are a ruminant species and have (something) on their anatomy which makes it clear they aren’t human if one saw them without clothes.

Jesha’r

Kre’ot term of endearment, liken to young one, but that is reserved for a student or apprentice

Kho’ra

Frehven word that means brother.

Kre’ot

Demon (has thambo’li attached to the skull).

Lewensvera

Crystal, seven to eight centimeters in diameter, marbled in blues and greens, similar in appearance to azurite malachite. It’s believed to be mystical in nature and to have protective properties

Reliak

Demon – speaks in a language made up of clicks

Ro’tun

Kre’ot word for soul/heart mate

RRTS

Rapid Response Tactical Squad – Unit of Marines John Grimm was a part of on his world.

Sharak

Venthar weapon; ceremonial short blade, similar to a dagger, very sharp, and coated with poison.

Thambo’li

two bony protrusions, on the head of a Kre’ot, similar to horns or antlers.  

Thambo’lir

The first set of thambo’li which sheds during puberty and is made into a tool or weapon, depending on the discipline of the Kre’ot.  The thambo’lir is a mystical item and contains the life-energy of the Kre’ot who shed it.

The thambo’lir is forever tied to the Kre’ot, and if that connection is broken, the Kre’ot will die.  When a Kre’ot dies, the thambo’li lose all mystical properties, and the life energy has departed

Venthar

Demon species that lives on the other side of the jungle from the Kre’ot.  Temperamental and aggressive but don’t allow weapons of any kind within their borders.

One Comment:

  1. Oh, dear. Giles is so confident he knows best!
    I am thoroughly enjoying this series. I am totally on board with it being your decision alone as to what you write, but am going to cross my fingers that this one calls to you relatively soon, as I would love to know what will happen next.
    Thanks for posting.

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