Dawn threw her book across the room in frustration and sunk back into her seat, heaving a sigh of exhaustion and frustration, then almost instinctively glanced around to make sure that no-one had seen it, before crossing the room to retrieve the fallen text.
This is hopeless.
Ever since Willow had got in touch with her and told her what had happened, what with the disappearing act that most of the active Slayers, Buffy included by the looks of it, had performed she had been looking for a reason behind it. The reason she was following this line of enquiry was because she thought that if she could work out why, then she might be able to direct someone as to how to eliminate the reason why, and that might have reversed things.
And she found herself left with a lot of guilt, because of a reference she’d turned up which had been in one of the few books that hadn’t been left to Faith or the Watcher’s Council. And there was a mind-trip in itself, Giles leaving almost everything to Faith.
It was a prophecy in Samarian, referring to the scattering of the Chosen Powers across the bright spaces over the darkened skies. And as far as she could calculate, the math gave her a date of roughly when most of the Slayers had vanished. Although that still didn’t give her any hint as to the why behind it.
And she knew that Buffy and she may not have been close lately, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t miss her, in spite of the fact that Buffy may not have noticed it. The reason that she was letting herself become devoured by the word was because it meant that she didn’t have to think about hoe this was possibly her fault for not picking up on it earlier.
She was also trying to tell herself that Giles wouldn’t have noticed it before the fact, too.
If there was one thing that she was certain of in any of this, it was that there had to be a way to reverse it and bring her sister back.
ARR! ARR! ARR! ARR
Twenty minutes later and his sides still hurt as a consequence of having had precious little to laugh at over the last while. As Ethan scowled at him and pointedly rubbed at his arse all that Giles could do was shrug helplessly at him, in a way which he seriously hope that conveyed that it wasn’t his fault.
And if not… well then, at least he knew.
For the moment, the easiest thing to focus on was not so much the prophecy any more, but a way to close the portal. And the latest line of enquiry that he had turned up in his father’s old notes, referring to a mouth of fire which had been decommissioned by an 18th century French Slayer, Danielle Marie Deveraux, and her Watcher, looked as though it would prove more promising than anything else that they had come across so far.
He had most of the old journals, courtesy of his father’s will, and the fact that his father had kept copies in the house for the sake of research. There may have been a good few years where he’d challenged everything that his father had said, but in the end they’d been on the same side.
Now, of course, the only problem was in getting a hold of the text that the entrance referred to, since Danielle’s Watcher hadn’t gone into any precise detail over the specific technique used before-hand. Afterwards she had only written in her Journal three times, before both she and her charge had been killed in a fight against a Basilisk, although not before fatally wounding it according to the closing notes which had been jotted down in a different hand.
If the Council’s library had still survived it would have been a reasonably easy task, but without the stockpile of centuries of information it was no where near as simple. He’d put feelers out amongst a few people he knew, some who traded in antique books, and others who dealt in even more antique magic. And as soon as Ethan got back from wherever the hell he’d taken himself off to he would get him to do the same.
Giles closed his eyes and gave himself a few moments of indulgence. It would be nice if things could be straightforward even just this once although he knew that there was no point in wishing for it.
Instead, after years of swearing that he wanted nothing to do with it he still wound up fighting on the side of good.
ARR! ARR! ARR! ARR
Ethan slipped through the quiet streets and alleyways, glad to be in his own company for the first time in a while. While Rupert gave him his own space in their home, there was nothing quite the same as getting out on his own for a few hours. He knew now that nothing he did would permanently turn Rupert against him, but life seemed so much easier when he could avoid even the little arguments.
And just like anyone else, he still needed his own space in which to think, every now and then. The point of getting out of the house to perform a ritual even if it was only a basic dedicatory ritual meant without Rupert or anyone else questioning him meant that he still had some control over his own life.
He paused, and scratched at the old Etruscan tattoo on his arm, staring at the skin around it as it went red under the assault and frowning at it as he did so. There had been times when he’d wondered what his life would have turned out like without the demon’s influence during his twenties, and during his darkest moments he found himself admitting that he probably wouldn’t be alive without it.
The other high point of getting away meant that he didn’t have to spend unnecessary time with the Slayer. Even though he liked her well enough, she stole his time with Rupert from him, and whilst he was happy to protect her he was under no illusions as to how she felt about him. Hell, she might even smile at him every once in while, but he had known even after the first day that if he gave her the slightest excuse then she would be more than happy to thrash him.
There was a field some distance from the house, which had once been a rugby pitch before the battle lines had been drawn, and it was this that Ethan came to pause at a half-hour after setting off. He’d used it frequently enough that it only took a couple of circles and ten minutes to reset his wards, before he bowed towards the four corners, and the four elements as well as Order and Chaos for good measure, then passed his hand over the lines of bare earth.
“Ignus,” he breathed, dropping and settling back on his heels with one eye fixed on the line of fire as it spread out over the earth map.
This particular exercise was a variation on one that he’d learned back in his twenties, a combination of a simple meditation and channeling of power and a scrying. Giving the power free reign through him was always a good thing with the way that it refreshed him. And the informative side of things didn’t hurt in the slightest, either.
Closing the open eye he focused on the sensation of the play of power through him, and relaxed into it. A few minutes of deep breathing gave him the mental space which he had to be in, and when he opened his eyes and passed his left hand over the closest part of what was now a fire map, the flame lightened over most of it.
“Magus,” he spoke with all the confidence that he could put into it, now.
A yellow spot, several oranges and a few varying shades of blue sprung up over the far side. He eyed his own spot, which was red and then flicked his gaze towards the green spot which was Rupert. Almost overlapping with the green, was a gray that was threaded through with varying amounts of black and white, which could be none other than Buffy herself. This just went to show how fine a line it was that the Slayer walked.
The second time he passed his hand over it several spots of purple came up as the others faded.
Purple? He frowned to himself. It had been years since he had last seen purple amongst the flames. Would be even better if he could remember exactly what it had meant back then, because that might give him some clue as to what exactly it meant now.
He let his eyes become unfocused, as he stared at one of the spots.
Well that made things interesting, didn’t it?
“Stragus,” this time the word was accompanied by his right hand, since the left linked to the metaphysical and the right to the physically supernatural. Over thirty white spots came up over the expanse of the map.
His gaze flicked over the denser spots; larger groups or the more powerful variety, taking note of where exactly they were. Nothing around the hellhole, though. That was a stroke of good fortune, for once.
“Hominus,” he spoke again without a single gesture and the white spots flickered out leaving a good three dozen or so spots of bare earth, some sharing space with where the white spots had been before.
“Show me,” this time it was a command, not a query. Eight of the spots which had become bare earth gained a delicate white glow over them. Vampires or half-bloods... Or… his gaze passed over the two blues which had come back in the same manner, flicked towards his own red area and then back towards the general area where Rupert’s green had been.
Perhaps a touch of an understatement, but a little less effort than saying I’m buggered. And he couldn’t even palm the blame off, because she had mentioned any information that had been relevant.
Although that was still only if...
Just went to show how much attention he paid, really. And a heartbeat later on of those purple spots flashed up a few inches… feet… from where he was, and the trance broke quite spectacularly as he flew to his feet and spun to face what was represented by a tiny purple dot. Seeing what it was he parted the flames in front of him and drew them back together behind himself. If nothing else it would give him a few moments in which to compose himself.
Well at least that explained a few things a little better. And as the flames drew closed behind him he did one of the things that he did best.