Back at Ripper’s, Alican had thrown up a kinetic bubble very similar to the one Giles had tried to use as an offensive weapon earlier. The utensils from the kitchen, acting as high velocity projectiles, bounced off the field and scattered throughout the room. Everything they impacted was impaled.
Willow gasped as a fork landed damn close to her foot, digging deeply into the hardwood floor. With another blocking command, the silverware was deflected. A carrot grater nearly took off her ear, anyway, and when she checked on
The Wiccan held her purse open nearly as wide as her staring eyes. From the bag emitted a violet-pink light, which matched the glowing color of her irises, now. The cloud of color seemed to stream with a straight trajectory until it intersected with their out-of-his-mind friend and
At first, Giles seemed completely un-impacted by whatever
From nearby, she heard the wizard again chanting. This time, he was apparently able to complete his spell, for she saw a dark whirlwind of eldritch energy forming above Giles. It seemed to, twister-like, begin forming a funnel cloud from the ceiling. Dark sparkles of blue energy flashed throughout the dark energy.
Unfortunately, Giles noted that particular attack. Waving his hand upward and yelling something in the foreign language everyone but her seemed to speak, the funnel vanished. At least for a second or two, and then it was directly above the original caster and he was trying to ward it off.
She needn’t have bothered worrying. They hit Giles squarely, only to splinter and fall away.
And, it only brought her into sharp focus for him. With a sneer, he pointed to her and started to chant as she quickly ducked down again, this time adding a general anti-spell incantation that she didn’t have a lot of confidence in.
Rupert! I am highly disappointed in this behaviour, an elderly gentleman suddenly appeared from nowhere in front of him. I insist this ridiculousness end immediately.
The old man, with sour look twisting his familiar features, glared at Ripper. He was dressed in the sort of suit that he had always worn, even around the house. His hair, his eyes, his voice, everything was exactly as Giles remembered him.
“F-father! W-what are you doing here,” Ripper questioned. “You can’t be here.”
Oh, how bitterly disappointing you’ve turned out, the old man stated without direct reaction to the questions put to him. I told your mother this would happen if we let you have too long a leash.
Well, honestly dear… I had a mother’s blindness for her only child. How was I to really know he’d end up like this? How could you Rup…, she addressed him by his childhood nickname. A name he hadn’t heard in years… even decades. How could you break your mother’s heart like this?
“No… no! Th-this isn’t real! You’re not real,” Ripper lashed out. His hands, grabbing for his mother’s arms, passed through them and both apparitions faded from view.
I don’t know why they were so shocked, Phillip suddenly appeared in the place of his parents. I mean, when we needed you most, you certainly weren’t there for us… despite your oath of loyalty… do you even remember that oath now, Old Man?
Ripper helplessly shook his head in a ‘no’ gesture. Unable to believe that Phillip, his old college chum was here with him again. He was dead… killed by Eyghon. And, he wasn’t alone.
I knew from the start you’d be unreliable. I just want to put that on record, Deirdre said to him.
“No…, no…, this is a trick. A spell…,” Giles struggled, but found he wasn’t able to deny the emotional power of these visitations.
Across the room from him,
“You’re not here! You can’t be here,” Giles yelled at the ghosts, who faded from view. But he still wasn’t seeing his foes, or
He continued to gasp in shock and pain at each recognized face. In front of him now, stood a very familiar brunette who hadn’t been gone all that long. He shook his head ‘no’ even more vigorously, wordlessly mouthing the word, his eyes wide in their surprise and beginning to fill with tears.
Why Rupert? Why didn’t you remind me the school wasn’t safe? Why did you just leave me there by myself that night, Jenny Calendar said. She was weeping as she shook her head sadly at him, I-I loved you so much. I wanted better things for us… more time! But you left me there to die alone and terrified!
“I-I didn’t know,” Giles wailed. Dropping the book to the floor forgotten, he reached out toward Ms. Calendar’s slightly translucent form. Even as he cried for her not to go, she was quickly fading away.
It was always Buffy… maybe we had a chance, if you hadn’t been so focused elsewhere, Jenny cried into her hands.
Hey! Don’t blame me, Buffy Summers stared at Giles, It’s not like he did a whole hell of a lot to keep me safe, either, you know.
“Oh, God… not this… not you, too,” Giles cried more heavily. At his feet unnoticed, the two remaining free creatures (the one pinned by the couch was loudly complaining unheeded and squirming about still, gouging at the floor and trying to yank itself free) grabbed the Book and began to drag it away around the tumbled furniture.
“B-buffy, you don’t know how hard I tried…,” Giles insisted.
Hah! Buffy sounded completely unconvinced. You ran away from your old friends, leaving them to die an awful death… not to mention putting us all in danger when you thought you could just shirk responsibility for your actions! Then you ‘tried’ to help Jenny… Big Fail. You ‘tried’ to help Faith… oohh, another Fail for the ‘expert’. My mom gets sick, and you tried to ‘help’ me by being a useless lump… good-bye mom, thanks for stopping by on your way to the dirt hotel! Then, when I needed you most, did you help me? Of course not… but you ‘tried’, right? Well, thanks for nothing! And you had the opportunity to make it up to me… you knew I wanted just one thing from you! I mean, I only DIED for the whole fricking world, but could you keep Dawn safe for me? Oh, hell no! But, again, you certainly ‘tried’… oh wait, no you didn’t! You were too busy getting your freak on while she was missing, remember? Too busy playing with your little Book of Soul-Sucking Evil to bother fulfilling the dying request of your Slayer, who busted her ass for 5 years and threw her future away to make you proud! Yeah, Giles, thanks… thanks for ‘trying’.
“Please… please… stop… stop,” Giles crumbled under the scorn of his Slayer. Because she was right, his “trying” hadn’t done one good thing. He’d just failed her over and over again. “Please…,” he begged her for mercy.
Half hidden behind her protective cover,
My God, grow a spine, Buffy berated him. I mean, if you’re going to be an utter failure at providing protection and training for me, you can at least take the criticism like a man.
Across the room, Alican turned to the first page of the Book of Midnight. Within it, he read silently the presage passage. Recognizing its intent, to make one ready to absorb the dark magicks within, he felt a tremendous pang of guilt that his ancestor had been the sort of man who’d create such a thing and then unleash it on the world. He was even more ashamed that his own path through life, at least before he’d met a relatively young certain Watcher, was nearly a re-tread of the debauchery he now found so humiliating.
Darkest Gods of Heavens and Hells and all the in-between places, the tome started, We beseech thee in the name of horror and pain and blood to fill this vessel with the essence of your power. Let us trespass against those who would trespass against us… and the innocent that wouldn’t have. Let us bathe in the death cry, the bloody wound, the spiritual torture and the skinning of the weak and powerless. Fill us with your infinite capacity to bless those with the stout heart and unassailable will to wield your power with your most corrupting gifts and let this corruption seek out those who can be welded to your honor and destroy all who would not submit. Amen.
Alican took a deep breath and looked at the sobbing form of Giles. For a moment, he thought the Watcher was getting exactly what he deserved, whatever personal torment the Wicca was forcing him to endure. And then, he remembered again his own path and he softened, with effort, to forgive Rupert for his turning to the horrible power in the first place.
And then be began to read, Nema. Timbus ton dluow ohw lla yortsed dna ronoh….
From Giles, dark energy curled up from his nose, his mouth, even his eyes and ears. It twisted in the air and gathered like a dark smog and traveled across the room to reenter the book. There, unseen, it began to fill in the blank pages that Giles had absorbed the words from.
In the meantime,
Alican al Rashid completed the backward reading aloud of the accursed page in the Book of Midnight. He used his magical ability to lift the sofa enough for the alive, but pinned, Quessling to be free and then gathered his surviving brood of semi-pets and headed quietly for the front door of Rupert’s destroyed apartment.
“Rupert Giles,” he said loudly with a turn. When Giles had swallowed back his sobbing enough to meet the half-demon’s gaze, he continued. “What you have done will be with you for a long time. I cannot help with this. But know, this tome will not plague you again. Go home, Rupert. You need your spiritual roots to see you through to wholeness again. This nation is not your home. Go to the
He looked at her with amusement showing in his eyes, for the rest of his face had remained covered their entire encounter.
“You do not,” he said with a smile in his voice. And then he was gone out into the night where the weather over Sunnydale had finally broken.
End Ch 23