Xander reappeared couple of matters in the air above a small lake. Gravity promptly took hold of him, and he fell into the water with a splash.
“Gah!” he exclaimed as he got enough sense of where he was, and stood up. Luckily, at the place of his fall the water wasn't even deep enough to cover him, just sufficient to cushion his fall somewhat. As he made his way to shore, he removed the mask and angrily tore away the costume that had gotten him into this mess. Underneath, he had a T – shirt, which were, naturally, soaked and he shivered as the breeze hit him. The boy looked around. There seemed to be no way away from the lake he had landed into, just trees, trees, and even more trees in every direction he could see. Well, at least he'd get to dry himself easily before choosing what to do next.
It wasn't until he fired the Fireball
spell to get the fire going did the implication of what had happened to him sunk in. He was stuck in the middle of nowhere, in a reality that was not his own, and he couldn't get home even if he found the way somehow. He had to leave everyone he held dear behind, as his very existence would have placed them in danger.
“Figures that would be my luck.” The boy muttered dejectedly. Tears began falling on the realization that he would never see Willow or Buffy again even as he curled himself near the fire. The boy cried himself to sleep.
He woke up from sun's rays in his eyes. By then, the fire had burned itself out, and his clothes had dried up completely, so he put them on, then sat down on a stone to consider his options. One thing was certain, he needed to find civilization soon, as living of the land was not something he was confident he could do very good.
Or was he? He had never gotten the chance to try and figure out the spells he had gained during the events that had landed him in this mess in the first place. He had only had the time to identify them by name before that Balance demon had shown up. Well, the fireball
was what the name suggested, a simple and easy to use spell. He could use it to hunt, as well as defend himself.
The four spells he had gained from the vampires, agelessness, regeneration, enhanced speed and enhanced strength
, were part of the vampires' nature, and it was likely they would become part of the nature of any living thing they were cast on. It was probably a good idea to cast the latter three on himself, as none of the three could hurt. About the agelessness, he wasn't so sure. It could make him immortal, and he was far from convinced he wanted that, especially if he was the only
human in this reality. And especially it would leave him stuck as a teenager.
The rest of the spells, however, needed to be tested for him to be sure of their exact effect, as he knew nothing of the creatures he had gained them from. And it was not
a good idea to use himself as a test subject. While flight
could potentially help him find people sooner, he had zero desire to kill himself by floating to space out of control. And when he thought of giving sparks
, a fleeting image of himself transforming a large metal ring with symbols on it, as well as a smaller device with buttons marked with the same symbols, into Transformers of all things crossed his mind, and Xander was unsure what to think. If this was indeed this ability did, then it would probably be best to never use it.
The woodland magic
, however, seemed promising, considering his surroundings.
“Well.” the boy muttered to himself.” no time like present.”
Without even bothering to stand up, he activated the spell... and almost instantly regretted it when his mind was bombarded with sensations from everywhere around him. He sank to his knees, clutching his head, then collapsed on the ground, screaming when a feeling as if his whole body was on fire consumed him.
The corners of his vision were already going black when the pain vanished as suddenly as it had appeared. Moments later, the cacophony in his mind subsided. He slowly rose up and walked, stumbling, towards the nearest large tree, and leaned against it, marvelling at the sensation of a powerful flow of energy through it. Pressing a palm at a place the bark had peeled off, he felt the energy course through him as well, rejuvenating him.
Xander pulled away, watching the tree in awe. Life flowed so strongly through it that it had restored him, and the drain had barely affected it. He withdrew his mind from it, and reached into another plant, then another. The forest was so full of life, it was almost overwhelming. And when he focused, he could feel every single plant, from the tiny acorn to the mighty tree whose energy he had used to restore himself. And with each plant, he could sense if it was healthy, or grew in good place.
For experiment, he focused his attention to a small seed he could feel was in a good place a small prod with his powers, and it started to grow at impossible pace. In two seconds, it shot out of the ground, and in fifteen more, it had grown as tall as him. He stopped pushing its growth, then focused on one of the branches. This time, the plant resisted his command, but still, flowers appeared and fruit formed. A few more seconds, and the fruit were ripe. He picked one and, sensing it was good to eat, bit into it. A grin appeared on his lips as he chewed on the sweet, juicy goodiness.
“Not a Twinkie, but good enough.” Well, at least he wouldn't die of hunger while he searched for civilization so long as he kept some good seeds with him at all times. The next moment, however, his grin died when the thought that he knew next to nothing of this place crossed his mind. He needed every advantage he could get for the moment he encountered people, as the fireball was not necessarily a viable tool weapon to use if he was watched by someone who could think for himself. He needed to use the vampire – originating spells on himself... and hope that they were permanent, and not as painful on him as the woodland magic,
Half an hour after he started walking, Xander was glad he took the time to enhance himself when sounds metal clashing on metal attracted his attention. Going in the direction of the sound, he discovered a group of short creatures that looked like humanoid rats ganging up on a young woman wearing metal armor that had seen better days. Even as he watched, she killed one of the creatures and injured another, but not without getting hit in a thigh by a third one's weapon, which looked like a mining pick of all things. Realizing that if he waited, the creatures would beat the woman by sheer numbers, the boy grabbed a pick from one of the corpses lying on the ground and attacked.
Fortunately, the things weren't particularly bright, so by the time they realized someone else had joined the battle, he had already killed four of them, and was near the woman. Some of the rest ran away when they realized they had two opponents now, while the woman took advantage of the distraction and killed two more. It did not take long for the two humans to discourage the remaining attackers.
“Blasted kobolds!” the woman hissed angrily as she inspected a deep wound on her left wrist that was oozing blood. It looked like one of the rat – men's pick had gotten through the old armor. Then she looked up to him. “Thanks for the assistance. I thought I could take them on, but didn't expect them to gang up on me like they did.”
The boy said nothing, his eyes darting all over the place while his mind worked furiously. Xander was relieved that at least, the Pains in the Ass that Be had been considerate enough to send him in a reality that had humans in it. Not having access to the modern things he was accustomed to was something he could learn to live with. Of course, there was still the matter of blending in, however.
His attention was drawn by a bright flash that came from the woman's right palm, just in time to see the few superficial wounds on her body close.
“Nice.” he commented. “Handy trick.” “So there is magic in this reality.”
Xander could see her grin. “One of the perks to be a Paladin of the Silver hand.” she made a face. “An overconfident, novice one apparently. Name's Diana, by the way.”
“Alexander, although I prefer to be called Xander.”
“Well, not that I’m complaining, but how come you end up in the middle of Elwynn Forest, Xander, in odd clothes and with no weapon?”
The boy hesitated, then said he first thing that came to his mind. “It happens when you are robbed, then escape and get lost.”
She scowled, and he half – expected to be instantly confronted about the lie, bit to his astonishment, the woman simply nodded.
“The Defias.” she growled. “Marshal Dughan said a few things about them. They are growing bolder by the day.”
“Um. Yeah.” Xander muttered noncommittally. “So, you can guide me to civilization?”
“Sure.” Diana answered, looking at the tunnel the rat - faced creatures had run into. “It isn't like I will get anything done today anyway. Kobolds may not be too bright, but now that most of them have holed up inside the mine, they don't need to be. I wanted to find the one with a golden tooth to retrieve something it stole without having to fight too many of them, but now there's no chance for that. It will take hours for them to calm down and come out, and I’ve got better things to do with my time.” she peered in the full wagon the creatures had probably just gotten out of the mine when she'd interrupted them. “At least there will be something coming out of this mess.”
Trying to ignore the noise coming from below, Xander dropped onto the bed in the room he had paid for couple of hours later, in an inn called “Lion's Pride”.
The boy chuckled slightly; it seemed that he had gained a guardian angel, and a pretty one too, in one Diana Steele. The girl (when she had removed her helmet, he had realized he had assumed her age wrongly; in fact, she was about the same age as he was.) had not only guided him to the nearby human settlement, a small town named Goldshire, but, she had taken upon herself to introduce him to the locals. She had also allowed him to keep nearly two thirds of the money they had made selling the ore - spoils of the battle they had been involved into, which they had hauled back to the village, in order to help him get settled. She had gone as far as persuading her sister, Corina Steele, to give him a weapon from her stockpile, as well as promised to put in a good word with the local equivalent of both Mayor and Police chief, Marshal Dughan. Luckily, so far nobody had asked him any questions, and by staying down to listen to those coming to the inn, he could get some idea of the place he had found himself in. Already, couple of things were made blindingly obvious by what he heard – one, this reality had multitude of different magic users active, and two, there were different species of sentient beings out there. He had seen a tall, violet – skinned male with pointed ears, who was recognized as a 'night elf', buying supplies from the local trader. He had also seen a short, stocky humanoid drinking ale, identified as dwarf, and even shorter humanoid with a big head... literally, identified as a gnome. Xander hoped that in time, he could learn enough to come up with a proper story to fit in. until then, however, he needed to find a way to make a living without drawing too much attention to himself.
Of course, there was a alternative, in the Halloween spell, but after considering it for a bit, he'd dismissed it. The spell, in a way, warped reality. It was no small magic by any stretch of imagination, and in a reality where magic was common, there was too good a chance that he would be detected if he tried it anywhere near a village, prompting many questions he could not answer. And as he had gained it when his costume self had consumed the focus of the Chaos mage's spell, if he used it, it would be him
who would be the focus of the spell, and if someone decided the magic had to be undone, he would become a target.
Not to mention that before he decided to create anything, he needed a better idea exactly what he needed. He couldn't afford to be flippant about it, as he didn't have a Deity to boost the magic as the Chaos mage had had. For anything he wished to accomplish, right now he could only use his own magical reserves. Even under the best of circumstances, he doubted he could do no more than two costumes' worth of transformation.
No, for the time being, it was best to see how well he could do without magic; the 'vampire enhancements' still held, so it seemed that they were indeed permanent. They were no small advantage by themselves, and there was a chance he could cash in on that in the quite dangerous world he'd found himself in.
Three weeks later
“You're late.” Marshal Edwin Dughan, elected leader of Goldshire, chided jokingly when his friend, Brother Wilhelm, joined him at the table at a quiet corner of Lion's Pride Inn.
“Again.” Added Dughan's other guest, Lyria Du Lac, who was already there.
“Well, you try being constantly hounded for training by overly enthusiastic student who recently had a near death experience, to see how you would cope.” the Paladin threw back.
“I hope the girl realizes just how lucky she was.” Lyria said seriously. “It is situations like hers, when rookies overestimate themselves, that gets them frequently killed.”
“Well, Diana won't make that mistake again anytime soon, that's for sure.” Brother Wilhelm said, then a small smile appeared on his lips. “I won't let her.”
The three friends laughed.
“Speaking of little Diana, what became of the boy who helped her?” the marshal asked. “She asked me to help him out, but I haven't seen him since. Did he leave?”
The Paladin shook his head. “No, he's still here. Or at least, he was couple of days ago, when I saw him come inside the Inn. From what I heard, he's been doing various small jobs in the town, like deliveries and such. I also heard he went wolf hunting once with the Peltskinner lad.”
“I heard that as well.” Lyria nodded, frowning. “Someone swindled him about that time, too. I doubt it was Peltskinner, he is usually straight with those he is dealing with. But the bracers I saw him wearing were from two different pairs.”
Brother Wilhelm chuckled at the mental image. “Got swindled...or just as likely, scrounged them up from somewhere. There was no small amount of fighting that took place around these parts not too long ago. Diana tells me he was robbed; if he can't afford new ones, he would make do with what he finds.”
Edwin frowned. “So he told her. I'm not so convinced. If he has nothing to hide, he should have reported the attack. No, the boy is hiding something, I’m sure of it.”
“So? It doesn't mean anything. He certainly won't be the first person to come to these parts in the last few years that is tight – lipped about his past, especially amongst those coming from Lordaeron. You are becoming paranoid, my friend.”
The marshal grimaced slightly at his friend's gentle reprimand. Wilhelm was right, those from the northern human kingdom who had survived the coming of the undead Scourge and the invasion of the demonic Burning Legion that followed did not exactly relish remembering all that had happened to them, so they rarely spoke of it. And if the Defias Brotherhood wanted to plant a spy, they were better than this. And the rescue of the youngest Steele could not have been staged for the simple reason that nobody had known where she had planned to go that day.
“Perhaps I am being a bit harsh.” he acknowledged. “With all the things going wrong lately, I may have just found myself an outlet to my frustrations. Damn it! The mines overrun by kobolds, the Defias Brotherhood prowling the forest, and now persisting rumors of murlocs about. And it doesn't look that the Army will be back anytime soon, if anything things along the borders are escalating.”
“Great.” the Paladin grumbled. “The big threat is gone, and now, we are once again on each others' throats.”
“You expected anything different from the orcs?” Lyria asked incredulously.
“A few years back, I served under Tirion Fordring.” Wilhelm answered. “You could never meet more honorable man than him. Or at least, so we all thought, until one day, he was arrested for attacking alliance soldiers, and tried for treason. Now, he never killed anyone when that happened, however, he did try to help an old orc escape. At the time, we all thought he had gone raving mad for trusting the orc had told him the truth. We all believed they were evil to the core. And yet, when the true demons came three and a half years ago, the orcs fought on our
side. This caused at least few of us to rethink our attitude. Although I may have been a fool to expect that a short time of working together could erase years of hate.”
“I don't care about the reasons.” Edwin grumbled. “dealing with the consequences is bad enough. And by the looks of it, we were all fools to believe the youngsters will have a little more time before having to get their hands dirty.” A/n: So it begins. To be honest, I have yet to decide where I want to take it, though, once the Halloween Spell comes into play. The most logical choice would be objects from other fantasy realms to make an appearance, however, I recently read a pretty good, if somewhat bizarre WoW/Halo crossover on FF.net, author Freedom Guard, and I’m itching to give the whole thing a high – tech twist. Imagine Xander running the Lich King through with a lightsaber :D