Thanks to Megan for the beta.
Chapter 2: Stolen.
The urn shattered.
“NO!” Willow screamed in misery. “Not yet, not YET!” She scrabbled on hands and knees for the broken pieces of the Urn of Osiris. She could fix it, they could try again, she had to try again.
“Will, WILL! We have to go, we have to go now,” Xander urged.
“No, NO!” Willow shouted, even as her weary muscles began to give in. She was lifted into Xander’s arms as her will, her resolve melted into nothingness.
A motorcycle roared by, moments later a scream sounding from the scrub ahead.
“Anya!” Xander shouted in alarm. Several long seconds of held breath passed before he heard her voice in the distance. She was okay. Relief followed that realization. He couldn’t bear to lose her, couldn’t bear to lose another woman that he loved. His relief turned to guilt at the happiness he felt in knowing that he still had Anya. His best friend had just died, and…
Another motorcycle roared by, the demon driver swinging an axe that barely missed the top of his head.
Now was not the time to be getting distracted.
“Ahn! Tara! We’ve got to get out of here!”
Carrying a now unconscious Willow in his arms, Xander quickly found the other two girls huddled in the brush a short distance ahead and then ushered them further into the shadows and protection of the woods. They would hide until it was safe, then they would return to the house and Dawn.
If Spike lets anything happen to Dawn…
The three spiritual Guardians of the slayer line looked down from their place in the heavens as Sunnydale was slowly reduced to rubble and flames. The Hellmouth drew all sorts of beasts and demons towards it, the promise of a Slayer free utopia far too tempting an offer to pass up. Another of the line was called but with her current incarceration, there was no one to protect the town. This was no good.
The Guardians had been around as long as the Slayer, since the first, yet no living mortal was aware of their presence. Their duty was to provide safe passage for the warriors to their final resting place, and keep track of the living and the dead. Even in death, Slayers were just as revered and sought after. Once or twice a girl rightfully belonging to the upper kingdom had been snatched away by underlings of the other place. However those few had been recovered and returned to the higher realm.
It was not unusual for a Slayer to become lost in her final journey, finding herself in the gray nothingness of the ghost roads. Some believed they had not yet served their purpose, and some were in denial over their passing. All Slayers were granted entrance upstairs, when she was ready to let the past go.
The Guardians were without gender, shape, and size, and they felt none of the sensations that a human experienced. They could not touch or be touched, smell or taste. But they could hear, and they could see, and they could communicate with one another and their charges. No need for sleep or any sort of consumption, they could change their appearance at will, often taking on the form of a human when helping a fallen pass through. Their only purpose was to assist the Slayer on her final journey. As such, they were also without name. So they had chosen their own.
Nosy beings that they were, the Guardians could often be found looking down upon the earth with undisguised fascination. It was not in their capabilities to descend from their higher place and experience this world, yet they could watch. How humans could be so blind, so oblivious of the other creatures and beings they shared with the world was a topic of much discussion. The Slayer was a gift they believed humans sometimes did not deserve.
The most recent to fall in this world was a favourite of them all.
In the entirety of their existence, only once had a Slayer returned from the dead. Drowned, only to be brought back to life before she found herself deposited on the ghost roads. It was not her time and if not for her revival, she would most certainly have been wandering without purpose for a long time. Only recently had she returned.
This second time she passed she had been ready, and was welcomed into warmth and love.
“This is no good at all.”
The one who called itself Demetrius joined the other guardians away from the seeing place, tearing eyes away from the human world. It was Demetrius’ job to find and assist the fallen Slayers on their final journey, the only of the three who could venture onto the ghost roads. Demetrius was the companion and protector of the Slayer whilst she was between her world and the resting place.
The Guardian who had spoken, also known as Persephone, was in charge of the dead, the new arrivals. The only of the three who was aware when the life spark of the current Slayer was extinguished, Persephone’s reason for being was to alert Demetrius of the deaths, so that the other Guardian could either go to meet the Slayer at the gates and help them through the final passage, or to head onto the ghost roads to try and help the lost to come to terms with their passing. Persephone was the watcher of the dead.
“Are we expecting a new arrival? So soon?” Demetrius questioned.
“No, I’m afraid not,” Persephone responded.
The third was in charge of keeping track of the living slayers, and not only from just this world. Known as Dave, this Guardian was the watcher of the living, and was connected innately to every slayer so long as they breathed and had a heartbeat. Each girl had a distinction from the next, carrying a different signature in her essence that could be used to identify her by the Guardian. Dave could also sense the next, knowing which of the many would be called, but not knowing when she would be.
None of the three knew when it was a slayer’s time to fall.
It was Dave’s unique tracking gift, however, that was the reason for distress at this present time.
“Another chosen one has appeared.”
“But that is not possible,” Persephone argued. “As Keeper of the Dead I would have sensed a death. There has been none.”
“Surely one has not returned from the nothing?” Demetrius asked with a worried tone. A few Slayers still wandered the ghost roads, unwilling to move on.
If Dave had been human, a shake of the head would have been appropriate. “One has returned, one who has returned before.”
“But she passed through,” Demetrius argued. “I assisted her passage.”
“And I felt her spark extinguish,” Persephone added.
“I assure you, it is the essence of the One. She has returned,” Dave insisted.
“She has been stolen. Only dark magics could do such a thing,” Persephone realized, an understanding passing through the three. “The witch.”
“I’m afraid it must be so,” Dave agreed.
Demetrius looked towards the seeing place, remembering the chaos witnessed moments earlier. “Although the One has earned her final rest, that world needs her.”
“Look,” Dave suggested.
Feeling puzzlement, Persephone and Demetrius moved to the seeing place and looked down, both Guardians gasping at what they saw. Below them was an undisturbed grave, and Sunnydale was in complete and utter chaos. The One was not there.
“But where ever could she be? She belongs to this world,” Persephone worried.
“To another, a world much different from the place The One knows,” Dave answered. “Her soul has joined with her body of another life, in another world.”
“She must be brought back,” Demetrius said with determination. “We must return her soul to its rightful resting place.”
“She must, but can it be done?” Persephone asked Dave.
“It can. But it will take time.”
Together the three left the seeing place in search of higher knowledge. They all knew that it must be done.
The One would return, but for now, she would be stranded in the other world.
A/N: Hope you a liked this chapter. Comments would be greatly appreciated.
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