Broken Arrow (Prologue)
A glass of brandy, refilled more than once this night, stood on a side table, its colour mellowed by the yellow glow of a small table lamp in an otherwise dark room. On the sofa beside sat a small man of unassuming appearance staring at a faded photograph showing him in earlier days… but not alone. His companion was a dissolute-looking young fellow in a leather jacket and the two had their arms slung around each other with more than casual familiarity.
As he continued to gaze at the souvenir of bygone times, the small man’s gaze narrowed. “Damn you, Rupert.” The words were nearly spat in a soft, slightly slurred, British accent, flavoured by alcohol and bitterness. “The Council kicks you out on your arse, but do you come home? Home where you belong? Dear me no. You stay here. Here!” With that, he waved one arm in a dramatic gesture that narrowly missed knocking over his glass of brandy. “So I abandon my interests and come back to Sunnydale, expecting to find you lost and broken and in need of companionship and guidance. But what do I find instead? Her! That girl, that wretched Slayer, keeping you in her thrall, locking you up in her harem, one of her merry band of eunuchs!” Taking the glass from the side table, he drained it and set it down, empty, on the coffee table before him instead. “By rights I should just leave you to your miserable fate – growing old and withered as you stay and life passes you completely by. It’s no more than you deserve.”
He sighed and leaned back against the back of the ponderous leather sofa. “But I can’t, can I? No, you bastard. You have me as surely as she has you… as surely as she has so many. Too many. All dancing attendance on her as though she were Helen of Troy.” Another heavy sigh… and then… then a throaty chuckle. “Oh, but Rupert, one man has never fallen under her sway. One man sees her for the blowsy little guttersnipe she truly is, unworthy and common. One man has power… and the will to use it.”
Getting up, he turned on the overhead lights then went over to a stack of books piled messily next to a set of shelves, sorting clumsily through them until he found a volume that looked old and fragile. He paid no heed to its age, hoisting it onto a large table and opening it with an energy that imperiled it. Rifling through its pages, he came at last to what he sought: a spell. A powerful spell.
Without hesitation, he made quick work of unlocking a cabinet and getting out a number of small, mysterious-looking bottles and a chalice before going to a set of weapons and choosing… an arrow. Gathering all of the items together on the table, he opened the bottles and poured their contents into the chalice before setting everything into its prescribed place, each position carefully considered... well, as carefully considered as possible by a man drunk on brandy and the prospect of revenge. Then he began to intone the spell.
“Nyx, Eris, Eros, Ate….”
Magic crackled in the air and a fog surrounded the table before fading into a soft light then vanishing altogether.
It was done. All that remained was a bit of craft and some legwork.
As he contemplated the mischief and chaos to come, he didn’t worry in the slightest about the powers that he’d invoked with his spell. No, indeed. He felt quite pleased with himself, in fact, and poured himself another glass of brandy to celebrate his imminent triumph over Buffy Summers.
“Let the games begin.”
Not once did it occur to Ethan Rayne that he might have done better to wait until he was sober.
To be continued…