Chapter warning - Bad touching.
Ch. 16 – Revelations
Ethan watched with amusement as Buffy ran from the cavern. He turned to his companion. “Explosives? It doesn’t seem your style.”
Magister smiled. “Not to worry. She’ll make it in time to save her little flock. Well… most of them.”
“You set it all up as a distraction. But, why?”
“It would have been foolish to try to fight her here. If that weapon is all the label indicates, there was no assurance of the outcome. This way I can pick the time and place. Create a worthy challenge and spectacle.”
Ethan nodded slowly. “Ah… For now, just more dead Bringers then. The First isn’t going to like that.”
The vampire waved him off. “It hardly matters. Soon we will be in command of the Turak-Han army and the Bringers will be of no use.” A self-satisfied and entirely too pleased grin spread over Ethan’s face. “What is it now?”
“You said ‘we’,” the sorcerer purred.
“You said we would be in command. You do see me as an equal.”
“I see you as--”
“…annoyance!” Magister finished with a huff. “You may be of some use to me. But that does not mean…”
“You enjoy my company.”
“Careful,” the vampire’s eyes flashed at him, but not with hatred. “You might not be able to handle all you wish for.”
Ethan gave a dark smile. “Promises. Promises.”
“How can such blatant neediness be so repulsive and endearing at the same time?” Magister growled.
“Practice,” the sorcerer smirked.
The large vampire stepped in closer to the man and whispered into his ear. “Impress me. Achieve this simple challenge and all you dream of might be yours.”
Ethan visibly shivered. He swallowed hard before murmuring, “Would a small gift please you?”
Magister turned on his heels, walking away with a dismissive wave. “Go on and steal some trinket you think I’d find amusing. We shall see how far your imagination extends.”
The sorcerer stood straight and cleared his throat. “I wouldn’t call this gift a trinket. But history tells me you will enjoy… having it.” He waved his hand and a section of the stone wall dissolved to reveal an ornately furnished bed chamber, it’s elegance and décor completely at odds with the drab cave around them. Soft light and the flicker of candles bathed the centerpiece, a huge canopy bed. Rich woodwork was highlighted by plush spreads of deep reds and golds. But, as expected, Magister’s gaze immediately found and was glued to the center of the large headboard. Sitting there, draped in a shimmering white nightgown, was Willow. Every bit the offering to a deity.
“How?” the vampire’s bellow held more wonder than bite. “How is she here without my sensing her?”
“Because she’s not here,” Ethan smiled smugly. “How could I present such a treasure in this dreary hole? We are looking through a doorway to paradise. Would you care to accompany me?” He stepped through the slight shimmer of the wall, followed closely by his companion.
“Ethan,” Willow growled, now able to see them. “Let me off this stupid bed!”
“Of course, Luv,” he chuckled at her fierceness. “Now that the gift is unwrapped, the presentation doesn’t matter.”
She slid off the bed and paced threateningly toward him. “I am no one’s gift! And I’m so gonna… oh damn… I’ll deal with you in a minute.” Quickly changing course, she ran through an open doorway at the side of the room.
“Guess it took a bit longer than expected to arrive,” Ethan shrugged. He turned to see his companion’s face and was unexpectedly lifted by his shirt front.
“What makes you think you have permission to touch her?” the vampire snarled.
“Nothing,” he stated calmly. “Not a finger has been place on what is yours. I would never presume to soil your little queen.”
“I don’t belong to him or anyone!” Willow emerged. “I’m going to kill you for what you did to Giles and the rest of us, Ethan. We trusted you. We welcomed you into our family. I don’t care who he’s killed or will kill from now on, it’s all on your head. And no, I’m not stupid enough to think he’ll ever let me escape alive again. But I swear, alive or undead, I’ll remember what you did.”
Ethan blinked at the vampire still holding onto him. “Spicy little firecracker, isn’t she?”
Magister dropped him without warning, his eyes only on Willow. “At every turn you prove yourself my match. Yet you fight to betray me, to destroy me. I wonder, with all hope for my other now gone, will I finally have my chance at your love?”
“Or what?” Tears began to leak from Willow’s sparkling green eyes. “You’ll rape me again? Kill me… again? I will always love Giles. Nothing you can ever do will change that.”
A deep growl rumbled through the vampire as he stepped intimidatingly close to her. “You profess your love for him, but not a day has gone by before you’ve found your comfort in the arms of another. Don’t dare to deny it. I can smell her on you, Girl.”
Anger made Willow’s tears shine. “Kennedy held me as I grieved. An act of kindness and compassion. Two things you will never know anything about.” She rose up on her tiptoes to stare defiantly into his eyes. “And another reason he will always be better and I will never love you.”
Magister shook with rage. Bringing up a hand, he threw Willow back onto the bed with a blast of energy. “So be it. No more time wasted on pretense and games.”
Ethan murmured behind him, “I’ve found there’s always time for games.”
Reaching back, Magister wrapped a strong hand in the front of Ethan’s shirt and dragged him along toward the bed. Shoving his back into one of the carved posts at the foot of the bed, he effortlessly shredded the shirt, leaving the sorcerer’s torso bare. The vampire eyed Willow intensely as he bent to kiss along the other man’s shoulder and chest.
“Why, Ripper, it’s all so sudden,” Ethan giggled with glee. His arms wrapped around the vampire, trying to pull him closer, but he was suddenly lifted and thrown bodily onto the bed. Willow braced herself, almost being knocked over.
“I keep my promises, Ethan,” Magister rumbled, climbing up to straddle him. “Let’s just hope you’re up to the consequences.”
“Oh, I’m up,” the sorcerer chirped. “Believe me.”
“You see?” the vampire stripped his own shirt off before starting to tear harshly at Ethan’s jeans, all the while staring at Willow. “Those who serve me are rewarded.”
“Yeah, well,” Willow tried to hide how she wanted to recoil from the brutal scene just inches in front of her. “I hope you give him exactly what he deserves.”
Ethan’s powerful hands were testing the strength of the trousers Magister wore. They lasted only a moment longer than his own jeans. Clutching at the impressive manhood before him, he nearly pouted when it was suddenly pulled away as the vampire shifted from atop him.
“Get up and face me,” Magister ordered. The sorcerer complied as swiftly as he could. He knelt up in front of his lover, staring into cold, lustful eyes. One of the vampire’s hands shot out, weaving into his hair, and forced his head downward. “Show me what pleasure you offer.” Ethan quickly and willingly went to work.
Willow tried to look away. It wasn’t the act itself that turned her stomach, it was the forceful brutality of it all. There was no love where love should be, no tenderness where tenderness should be.
Magister grabbed her by the arm and wrenched her against him with a satisfied moan.
Ethan looked up and grinned around the pulsating cock. “Shall we have her join us?” he purred.
The vampire shoved him back to his work. “You should know by now, Ethan, I don’t share.”
I don’t share. The words echoed in Willow’s head, ringing over and over. I don’t share. The room around her bent, flickered, split. I don’t share. She was still there, yet also in another place entirely.
She recognized Buffy’s house. Ethan’s corner filled with books and papers. She sat at the small table facing Ethan, and Dawn was on the other side smiling down at a small pendant… only the girl wasn’t moving. Willow’s hand rested on a glowing ball held in Ethan’s palm.
“Do you know what this is?” Ethan asked.
Willow shook her head, “No.”
“This is an Orb of Nortia.”
“The Etruscan goddess of fate?”
“Yes,” Ethan smiled at her knowledge. “Also time and destiny. It’s the last one in existence as far as I know. I’ve kept it with me for a very long time now. Just in case.”
“What does it do? Can it help us shield Giles from the First?”
“I’m afraid not. No artifact on this plane of existence has the power to do that.”
“Then what will it do?”
“It’s fulfilling its purpose right now. As long as you and I are touching it, this conversation is not taking place in this moment. It is shifted, overlaid at another point in time, another place.”
“I don’t understand.”
“You will. For now, it will keep this conversation from the First. It will keep us from making a mistake. When we part, you will have no memory of what is said, and I will only know we talked because the orb will be gone. We must discuss how Ripper might be saved.”
“How can we make a plan we won’t know about?” Willow asked.
“A phrase will be spoken that will trigger this event. When the time comes, we’ll both know our roles.”
Magister grabbed Ethan by the hair again and yanked him away. The sorcerer was panting for breath, but clawed his way up the solid body in search of more. He attached himself to the vampire’s neck, crushing their bodies together for more needed contact, more flesh.
“Please, touch me…” Ethan panted.
Willow shook her head vigorously. “No! We can’t do that to him. Giles will never forgive us.”
“He’ll never forgive me. As far as he ever need know, I will have acted alone and you will, once again, be his savior.”
“People will die,” she whispered.
“I know,” Ethan replied sadly. “But I also know the First is exploring other avenues to achieve the same ends. At least, if we are the perpetrators of disaster, we can have a slim chance of fixing things.”
“Ethan, you know the requirements of my spell. How and where will you hide his soul. The First will find him. And when you let It into you, It will know everything you’re planning.”
“Have you ever heard of the Cardea splitting technique? With the help of the goddess of doorways, it is possible to create separate sections in the mind to hide information. Even from oneself.”
“And you learned how to do this?”
Ethan gave a proud grin. “For a time, I was the most sought after moderator of disputes between telepathic demon tribes in the world.”
“All right,” Willow couldn’t help a small chuckle at his boast. “But I still don’t understand where you’ll hide Giles’ soul.”
Magister’s head rolled back in sheer pleasure. “It seems I underestimated your usefulness,” he rumbled.
“Tell me what you want,” Ethan hummed against his skin. “Anything you want.”
The vampire turned his head ever so slightly to gaze again into Willow’s wide eyes. It was plain what he really wanted. With the hand not gripping her, he pushed hard against Ethan’s chest, sending him back onto the huge bed. The sorcerer laid there, staring up at him in lust-filled excitement.
“The, um, the lubricant is in the--”
Magister lunged over him, bracing above his body. He laughed cruelly. “Why should I care? You will bleed for me, Ethan. You will burn and tear for me. You will scream for my pleasure. You are mine”
“B-but it’s been a long--”
“See what happens when you wait for what you want instead of simply taking?”
Ethan clutched at the bedspread as the large vampire over him positioned himself. “Use me… Spit on me… Take me… I’ve always been yours.” His scream of pain echoed through the bedroom.
“You will need to choose your moment wisely,” Ethan instructed the wide-eyed witch. “I won’t be able to help, so wait until he’s distracted. Pick a moment when he and I are in physical contact. That will make the transfer easier.”
“This is insane! There’s no way you’ll survive. And, even if you do, what will the First do to you when It finds out you’ve betrayed It?”
The Sorcerer smiled at her concern. “I was dead the moment the First noticed my existence. If I had refused. If I failed. At least, if I die in this endeavor, it will be an end too noble for the likes of me. He will be free to continue this fight against evil. Dawn will be safe. You and the others will know all he and I had learned of the First’s plans and will be better equipped the defeat It.”
“Dawn won’t know,” the redhead breathed. “She… we’ll all hate you.”
“Yes,” he hid behind a sad smile, “but that is a small price… Some day she might realize and understand.”
Willow wrapped both her hands around his. “She’ll know what you did. I’ll make sure of it.”
“By then it will hardly matter. She’ll have Rupert, she’ll have you.” He stared intently into the Witch’s eyes. “The time to act will be now. Ready…? Take it.” Their hands fell apart as the soft glow faded.
Her vision cleared into the single present happening before her. Ethan’s guttural grunts and screams rang in Willow’s head. She felt the iron grip on her arm release as the vampire turned his full attention to the pleasure he was taking in his willing victim.
She knew everything now. Her eyes met Ethan’s and she could see it. He’d hidden Giles’ soul where no one would ever think to look. Ethan had absorbed it, partitioned off part of his own being and turned his body into a vessel. Giles was right there, inside Ethan.
Magister groaned, lunging down in search of blood. He didn’t care what part of Ethan he took it from, he needed it. The Sorcerer had his eyes on Willow, having just experienced the same belated memory. He gave her a subtle but sure nod. He then ran his hand up the back of the beast rocking atop him and scraped his nails over his own neck, leaving four parallel gouges. Grabbing at the back of the vampire’s head, he guided him to the crimson offering and felt him begin to feed greedily.
Willow gathered all her concentration and power. Stretching out to touch them both, she began reciting her spell as softly and quickly as he could. Even with his extra-human hearing, Magister’s mind was too wrapped up in the pleasures of sex and torture to process what was happening. That is, until it was too late.
He pulled back with a start and stared down at Ethan in pure hatred. “You double-crossing coward,” Magister growled. “You’ll die for this.”
“But he won’t,” the Sorcerer whispered. Light was ripped from Ethan’s every orifice and shot straight into the vampire atop him. Both men shook and howled with the jarring force of it. The vampire then tensed, froze, and toppled back onto the bed.
“Giles?” Willow was there, hovering over him and touching his face. “Did it work? Please open your eyes and talk to me. Please be okay.”
Green eyes slowly blinked open and gazed up at her. “Willow?”
“What have you done!?!” Diedre appeared, screaming at Ethan. Loud banging at the locked door was testing the wooden structure. “How dare you betray me? How dare you even think…”
Ethan sat up and looked at Willow cradling Giles. “Time for you two to go.” He sent a blast of energy their way and both vanished. A moment later the First thrust into him and forcefully clawed back every bit of power and strength he’d been given. Ethan gasped, every muscle tensing against the pain as he felt like he was being hollowed out from the inside.
Collapsing off the bed into a heap on the cold floor, Ethan lay there trembling, naked, weak, and in pain. The First was again visible, standing over him in It’s true horned form amidst a cloud of red, angry smoke.
“I gave you everything you ever desired,” It’s voice rolled and echoed from all around. “Power to raze your enemies to the ground. Strength to crush any who stood before you. The lover of your deepest, darkest desire.”
“One mistake…” the Sorcerer mumbled against the hardwood floor.
“What? I don’t make mistakes. I live in the hearts of men and in their twisted depravities. Your black soul is my domain.”
Ethan flopped gracelessly onto his back to look up into the face of evil. “You based everything you believed of me on a memory that took place twenty-five years ago.”
“Humans don’t change. You still desire him.”
“No, we don’t change. But sometimes we manage to grow older and maybe even wiser. The boy then called out for Ripper. The man now knows Ripper was just a pale shadow of everything Rupert is.”
The First stormed. “You threw everything away for the love of a man who will never return it. A man who will never fully accept you.”
Ethan chuckled weakly. “Sometimes I can be funny that way. But your focus is still limited. He is one reason, but there are others in the world who do accept me. Now it might continue for them as well.”
The door finally gave in and splintered open. Four large Bringers entered and descended on Ethan. They yanked him up and stood him before their master.
“Fine.” Knowing the First’s every command, the biggest of the priests stepped up to the prisoner and landed a hard blow across his jaw. “You will learn how I reward nobility.” Another pitiless strike to the face. “Slowly.” To the stomach. “And without mercy.” To the ribs. “You refused to be a king.” Another and another. “Now you will be one more insignificant tool for my use.” Ethan was barely conscious when they dragged him away.