Dedication: To everyone who wouldn't give up on The Slayer's Bride, and who nagged me to finish it. *g* We're in the home stretch now.
Xander slowly regained consciousness, becoming aware both of the cold table he was lying on and that someone was dabbing his arm with hydrogen peroxide. Opening his eyes, he saw a bespeckled vampire in carefully maintained filthy robes. The effect was ruined slightly by a nametag reading, 'Hi, my name is Dalton, how's my service?'
"Where am I?" Xander asked.
"The Pit of Despair," Dalton croaked in a voice that was as raw and croaky as a sandpapered frog. "Don't even think," with a cough and a hideous flemish sound, the man suddenly lost his rasp, "Don't even think of trying to escape. The chains are far too thick. Don't dream of being rescued, either. The only people who know of this place are the Prince, the Count, and myself. The odds of someone finding our secret entrance are almost astronomical."
"Then I'm here 'til I die?"
"Until they kill you, yes."
Xander gave the creepily gung-ho worker an odd look, then glanced down to where Dalton was still carefully cleaning out the wound on his arm. "Then why bother curing me?"
"Well, the Prince and the Count always insist on everyone being healthy before they're broken." Dalton said, making a small tsking noise with his tongue.
"So it's to be torture, then." Xander said, a little more confident now that he felt he had a chance. "I can cope with torture." He was slightly perturbed by the way Dalton immediately scoffed and shook his head. "You don't believe me?"
"You survived the fire-swamp, so you must be very brave, and perhaps more than a little stupid. But no one withstands The Machine." With those comforting words, Dalton left, leaving Xander to his thoughts.
At the castle....
Buffycup slipped through her days in a miasma of sorrow, hard-pressed to find the energy to live without her beloved Xander. Each day she was tortured by the expression on his face as she had left him in the fire-swamp. Prince Angelus told everyone that it was his father's failing health that troubled her, and a few people actually believed him. (these people were morons, though)
"'The king died that very night, and before the following dawn, Buffycup and Angelus were married. At noon she met her subjects again, this time as their queen.'"
Angelus stood on the castle steps, and held out his hands for silence to the peasants gathered. Now wearing the crown of the king, he called out in a commanding voice, "My father's final words were-"
"WHAT THE HELL? You read that wrong! She doesn't marry Angelus, she marries Xander. I'm just sure of it...after all that Xander did for her, if she didn't marry him, that would just be a crappy ending!"
"Well, who says that all endings aren't crappy? Where is that written? Endings are sometimes crappy."
"I'm telling you, you're messing up the fic! Now get it right!"
"Do you want me to go on with this, because I really don't have to take this abuse. I can just pack up my fic and-"
"No, no, stay. Keep reading."
"Okay, no more comments from the peanut gallery. 'At noon she met her subjects again, this time as their queen.'"
Angelus stood on the castle steps, and held out his hands for silence to the peasants gathered. Now wearing the crown of the king, he called out in a commanding voice, "My father's final words were, 'Love her, as I loved her, and there will be joy.' Now, I'm really not sure what he was talking about, since it could be anything from this country to his dog Willow, but I'm going to go ahead and present to you, your queen; Queen Buffycup."
Buffycup walked out to greet her new subjects, looking just as beautiful as ever before. There was one Sunnydalian, however, who refused to bow down. It was an old woman who instead screamed, "Boo, boo, boo!"
"Why are you doing this?" Buffycup asked her, rather surprised at the gall of the crone. After all, the Prince ran a tight ship. Odds were good that the woman would conveniently fall out of a hayloft onto a barbecue fork after this incident.
"Because you had love in your hands, yet you gave it up!" shrieked the woman.
"But they would've killed him if I hadn't done it!" Buffycup answered, feeling rather annoyed that the old woman had broached *that* particular topic. Public scenes were not her forte.
"Your true love lives, and you marry another!" the old woman harped, not really paying attention to Buffycup's line of reasoning. Turning, she addressed the general Sunnydale populace. "Her true love saved her in the fire swamp, and she treated it like garbage, betraying her beloved Commando Boy-"
"Wait a second," Buffycup said, "I'm in love with a *Research Boy*, not a *Commando Boy*."
"Oh. This isn't Season Four?"
"Nope. Season Three."
"Sorry. Where was I...? Oh, yes. She treated it like garbage, because that's what she is, the Queen of Refuse. So bow down to her if you want. Bow to her. Bow to the Queen of Slime, the Queen of Filth, the Queen of putrescence! Boo! Boo! Rubbish! Filth! Slime! Muck! Boo! Boo! Boo!"
Buffycup woke up with a start from her decidedly harsh dream, still trembling at the memory of the old woman's warted face and bad teeth.
"'It was ten days until the wedding. The king still lived, but Buffycup's nightmares were getting steadily worse.'"
"See? Didn't I tell you that she'd never marry that rotten old Angelus?"
"Yes, you're very smart. Shut up."
In the Pit of Despair...
Dalton slowly wheeled out a huge machine, and carefully attached several nozzles to Xander as Count William stalked around the room in his leather trenchcoat. (which was the snazziest in the entire kingdom of Sunnydale)
"Beautiful, isn't it?" Count William said, admiring The Machine. "I bought it at the Master's estate sale a few years ago. I'm sure you've heard of my deep interest in pain. You know, all the screaming and kicking. Bloody great fun. I'm even writing a book on it. Well, actually, Dalton's ghostwriting it for me."
"Actually, sir," Dalton interrupted meekly, "I'm really not a writer, I'm just a transcriber."
"You'll write if I tell you to write!" yelled the Count. "Anyway, he's ghostwriting it whether he likes it or not. But that's no reason why I have to miss the fun part. So, please, be completely honest on how The Machine makes you feel. As this is my first session with you, I'll use the lowest setting."
So saying, Count William carefully turned a large dial to '1'. There was the sound of rushing water, and then Xander began to writhe in agony. A slow slurping noise filled the room. After several long minutes, an egg timer went off, and Count William shut off the machine. Xander lay on the table whimpering softly.
"As you know," Count William said calmly, "the idea of a suction pump is pretty damn old. Really that's all this is except that instead of sucking life, I'm sucking blood. I've just sucked one pint of your blood away. I might someday go as high as six, but I'm fairly sure that that would kill you. So, let's just go with what we've got. How do you feel?"
"A trifle drained," Xander moaned.
"I love it." Count William said with a smirk.
In Angelus' personal study...
Sitting in his aforementioned personal study (which was decorated in a very black-on-black motif), Angelus was interrupted from his perusal of his collection of sharp and pointy objects by the entrance of his chief enforcer, Wellin. As far as chief enforcers go, Wellin was perhaps not the best of the bunch. He tended to wuss in the face of danger, and he had a stern refusal to wear contacts instead of glasses. But he was also a complete toady for the sake of job security, and that was the sort of trait that Angelus looked for when hiring.
"Sire," Wellin said, grovelling next to Angelus' chair.
"As chief enforcer of all Sunnydale, I trust you with this secret," Angelus said importantly and with great drama. "Killers from LA are infiltrating the Thieves Forest and plan to murder my bride on our wedding night."
"Bad timing," Wellin said, then quickly checked his PalmPilot. "But my spy network has heard no such news."
"Your spy network couldn't find secret information unless it was in a demon brothel!" Angelus said. After Wellin nodded sadly in agreement to this rather harsh truth, he continued. "She will not be murdered. On the day of the wedding I want the Thieves Forest emptied all all the inhabitants arrested."
"Most of the thieves will resist," Wellin protested weakly. "My regular enforcers will be inadequate."
"Form a jock squad, then! I want the Thieves Forest emptied before I wed."
"It won't be easy, sire."
"Try sending the world to hell sometime."
"The day of the wedding arrived. The jock squad had their hands full carrying out Angelus' orders."
At the Thieves Forest, Wellin and his hastily conscripted men were packing the wildly resisting thieves into oxcarts and shipping them off to spend the night in jail.
(it should be noted here that after this incident, the thieves hired several lawyers from the noted law firm Wolfram & Hart, and sued the pants off of the kingdom of Sunnydale for the so-called 'Thief-Profiling' arrest method employed.)
As one of the last ox-carts was packed full and sent off, Wellin turned to one of the jocks and asked, "Is everyone out?"
"Not quite," the jock answered, "there's a musician giving us some trouble."
"Well, then, you give him some trouble." With that helpful advice, Wesllin headed off with the ox-carts. The jock (thus advised) headed back to the small hut where a red-haired musician was sitting on the stoop drunk as a skunk, playing a guitar with one hand (not very successfully), holding a whiskey bottle with the other (far more successfully), and singing songs from the formerly popular band, A Fanged Brit Killed My Girlfriend. As the jock moved closer, the musician stopped singing and began shouting drunkenly.
"I am waiting for you, Snydinni! You told me to go back to the beginning, so I have. This is where I am, and this is where I'll stay. I will not be moved."
"Yo, there." the jock said.
"I will not budge. Keep your 'yo there'." the man muttered, concentrating on trying to hit e-diminish-nine. Though, since he was only using one hand, this was not going well.
"The prince gave orders." the jock snarled, and readied his baseball bat to swing. However, before he could do that the musician dropped both bottle and guitar and had managed to draw his sword and lunge in one motion. Considering the number of whiskey bottles scattered around, it was highly impressive. As the musician (who we all know is Inigoz, so that's what he'll be called from now on) continued to mutter, the jock called for help. Soon, Inigoz found himself lifted up from behind by a pair of very huge hands. Looking up drunkenly, he found himself face-to-chest with a familiar jock.
"It's you!" Inigoz said happily.
"True." responded Larry. With one free hand he knocked out the other jock with one punch. "You don't look so good," Larry noted. "You don't smell very good, either."
"Maybe not," Inigoz admitted. "But I feel fine." Assured by his friend's words, Larry let go of Inigoz's shirt. Without such support, the little man collapsed.
"Larry and Inigoz were reunited, and as Larry nursed his inebriated friend back to health, he told Inigoz of Snydinni's death and the existence of Count William, the fanged Brit. Considering Inigoz's life-long search, he handled the news surprisingly well, only passing out once. Larry took great care in reviving Inigoz, and quickly entered him into an AA group."
"That's it," said Inigoz as the two returned to the hut after his first meeting. "I'm cured. Now where is this Count William, because I'm going to kill him."
"He's in the castle with the prince. Got a cushy government job. But the castle gate is guarded by thirty men!" Larry protested.
"How many could you handle?"
"I can't handle more than one at a time," the outed jock said sadly. After pausing a moment, Inigoz considered the odds, and sighed.
"That leaves twenty for me. At my best I could never defeat that many. I need Snydinni to plan. Strategy isn't one of my strengths. I failed that class in high school, along with public speaking."
"But Snydinni is dead!" Larry protested.
"No.... not Snydinni." Inigoz said, suddenly hit with inspiration. "I need the man in black."
"Huh?" Larry asked, wondering if Inigoz had been hitting the bottle again.
"Look, he bested you at strength. He bested me with steel. He must have out-thought Snydinni, and a man who can do that can plan my castle onslaught any day! Let's go!"
"Where?" the poor jock asked.
"To find the man in black." Inigoz said.
"But you don't know where he is!"
"Do not bother me with trifles! After twenty years, my girlfriend will be avenged. There will be blood tonight!" So saying, Inigoz and Larry ran out of the hut in a southerly direction.
End Part Four
Back Part Five coming soon