Spiegel Im Spiegel
Part Seventeen: To The Flame
"Then in the first light of dawning day Grendel's war-strength was revealed
to men: then after the feast weeping arose-- a great cry in the hall of
Heorot... In perpetual darkness he held to the misty moors: men do not know
where hell-demons direct their footsteps."
--Beowulf, Norton Critical Edition
Spike had drifted into a cautious sleep, against a remote corner of the
wall. Behind his head, the cinder blocks were a kaleidoscope of brilliant
colors-the base of the rainbow that darted up and across the azure blue of
the gymnasium's mural. A painted sun shone down on him as he stirred in
his light sleep, his fingers sensing a vibration in the ground-- against
And in his dreams, he saw the horrible explosion of long-ago light-- saw
Tara lunging for him moments before he sank into the deep-- all over again.
And the ground shook with terrible power-- and everything was falling, and
sinking, and tearing apart. And just her tiny hand held him-- clinging
stubbornly to his wrist while the overpowering bursts of light exploded all
around them both.
His eyes snapped open.
"Everyone inside--- stay calm, shelter against the *inside* walls!" a voice
called desperately over a rushing din. Not the sound of tearing buildings,
not the rushing current of light. The sound of humans, shouting to each
other in barely contained hysteria.
He could feel it like a drum against the floorboards, hear it in the air.
Rhythmic, papery noises beating behind the mural he rested against-- beyond
the walls of Heorot and growing closer.
Erin threw her full weight on the door, and rushed into the chemistry lab.
The smell of her stale incense mingled in the air with the smells of her
herbs hanging in bunches from the ceiling. They cast lurid shadows, like
spidery fingers trailing across the periodic table that hung on the wall.
Her foot glanced against a stuffed rabbit, sewn by hand from an old, faux-
fur coat. It slid across the linoleum and took its company with a pile of
homespun toys-- crafted by her own hand for her daughter, that were
carelessly strewn on the floor.
Everything was silent here, the sounds of the crowds being shifted into the
gymnasium faded to nothing in this far-flung wing of the building. For a
moment, she was simply home, alone-- as if nothing was wrong.
She stood in the center of the room, surrounded by her carpets, the sense
of the many spells she had cast here echoing like whispers in the dark.
And Michael burst into the room at that moment, Sophia behind him.
Sophie's eyes met hers from the doorway, her papery, elderly hands resting
on the doorframe, her grey hair piled on her head in an elaborate braid.
They hadn't seen each other since the vampire had come-- since she'd pinned
her to the ground and Sophia had stopped them in their deathgrip.
And they didn't need to speak. They sat on the carpets, and Erin took
Michael's hand in her left and Sophie's in her right. And the magic took
over-- suddenly the room was gone, and there was only her mind's eye,
moving images through her vision-- She was whirling up into the dark air,
and could feel the wind moving against her cheeks. The trees clung against
Heorot's roof, and the clouds clung to the mountainside beyond it.
And it was there. The dragon. She didn't see it, but she could feel it--
A novice would have to chant the invocation-but these were not novices.
And she with practiced skill she teased the spinning green strength of the
barrier from where it flowed from key-- as she had taught so many who moved
through these places. But none had ever seen it as she saw it-- none could
cast this spell in the same way as her.
The web spread like a dome over the building, strong and immutable. And
the triumvirate sat in the darkness of Erin's room, the boarded-up windows
glowing faintly with the light of the barrier, wending through the cracks
in the plywood.
The walls were shaking, as force was exerted on them from the outside.
He could sense something powerful just outside the stones, and as the earth
trembled with its movement, he jumped up from the wall and away.
"Everyone! Just hold to the side of the wall-stay close to the
Spike pushed against the flowing of the crowd into the gymnasium, and
headed towards the doorway. Somewhere, a child was crying, the wail of it
piercing through the sound of a hundred voices muttering in confusion.
And the wall shook again. He could sense something powerful on the other
side. He turned away grimly, quickly approaching the gymnasium doorway in
long strides. There couldn't be much time.
There was a young man, standing at the door, calling out over the crowd,
trying to maintain order. Spike seized him by the shoulder, stared him
down with piercing eyes.
"This has happened here before."
"Hey!" the sandy-haired man called out, jumping back from Spike's grip,
"Just stay inside, we'll be ok if we do what Sophia says..."
He moved into the crowd, flowing past them on all sides, jostling their
shoulders. Spike stepped in front of him, thinking of his peacebound
weapons, taken from him when he entered this place, shut away in a distant
locker near the exits.
"Tell me what it is."
And it struck again. The masonry started to give, and suddenly, one of the
old florescent lights fell crashing to the floorboards. Glass shattered,
and the crowd was beginning to lose all control.
Erin was thrown forward. Blood ran down from her nose in a small trickle.
The others started, suddenly with her in the dull reality of the room.
They looked to each other, momentarily stunned.
Erin clutched her head in her hands, pain flooding through her veins. She
willed it away, trying hard to focus.
"You're hurt..." Sophia whispered, reaching out to her falteringly.
"We have to keep going," she responded. And she seized their hands once
more, and moved back into a world of visions and power.
"You'll be safe if you just stay inside here with everyone else."
Spike felt frustrated anger rising in him and moving through his body.
These were the confines of living in the human world. Before he lost
control, he turned from the room, moving out towards the doors and out.
The boy came in from of him again, this time, several others followed.
"No one leaves."
"I'll kill it."
"What-- are you crazy?"
"Yes, probably. Now let my by."
The three fought to hold their connection, but it was failing. The dragon
was strong, and it lived on magical powers. Where they were so powerful
among humans, they were rendered helpless in the face of this creature-- in
the face of great demons of darkness.
To the observer, they were just three figures in a darkened room, holding
hands in the night. But the power that moved between them cannot be
described in words
And Erin felt the breath of the dragon on her neck. It was drawn to her,
like a moth to a brightly burning flame.
She pulled her hands from the others' grip. The jolted back, the
connection abruptly broken. She jumped to her feet.
They felt the force of a distant impact on the walls. They could hear the
echoing sound of falling masonry.
"This isn't working. Stay here," she commanded, and ran from her room,
leaping over her daughter's stuffed toys as she moved.
The boy stepped in front of him again, and Spike pushed him out of the way.
Suddenly, the others were around him, pulling him back. And he rounded on
"Let me go." he snarled, deep in his throat. In a swift motion, he sprung
from their grips, throwing them to the ground hard. One cried out in pain.
And he collapsed to the ground, the fire of pain moving through his own
skull like lightening through the mountains.
"We're just trying to. help you!" the boy called through his exertion,
trying to restrain Spike, on the ground.
And suddenly, the air filled with the sound of breaking supports and
falling stone. The far wall, with its brilliant mural, was falling,
tearing the room into rough halves.
And the scream of the dragon filled their ears, a multi-layered, inhuman
shriek, and dust mixed with rain in billows on the stunned crowd.
"No. let me." Spike growled, trying to right himself, the panic of his
utter inability to fight his way up overpowering him- his helplessness-his
utter weakness among the humans. They made him weak.
And he looked up from the brightly polished floorboards, the world turned
upside down in his vision. And he could see the reversed image of the
azure sky, falling apart-of an inverted rainbow charred with fire from the
jaws of a black-scaled dragon.
The writing on that rainbow smiled down on them through the fire. 'You can
be anything you want to be!!!' it read.
And the lettering fell to the shattering floorboards. And he read it
absently through the pain, and it was all that was in his mind as he fell
Erin stepped into a dark hallway. Rows of icon cases, that were once the
trophy cases for children's sports teams. The light from the candles
wavered in a soft draft, the glow flickering against the paintings of the
Green Saint- of the young woman draped in jade robes, surrounded by the
whole of creation. But now, the faithful hid, and there was only her to
ward away destruction.
She stepped reticently up the stairs, reaching the wide second floor
landing. Her footfalls echoed cavernously in the quiet. She could hear
the sound of rain on the roof, that would have been soothing once.
Instead, its insistent rhythm contrasted with the silence within, and
reminded her of moments of normalcy in her own bed that were a thousand
years from her grasp.
A wide wall of windows, a story tall, stretched out in front of her,
boarded shut. She could feel it on the other side, moving towards her.
And she realized it was her it was drawn to-her power, her magic. It was
just a half-intelligent creature drawn to the light. Like a raven drawn to
She stepped forward, her movement suddenly timid. She wasn't used to being
afraid. And she was reminded, distantly, of stepping from the hallway into
her father's room in a long ago ICU. The sound of life support and the
sense of finality. And she stepped forward with the same sense of grave
purpose, swallowing her fear that welled in her stomach like a pool of ice.
And she drew into herself the green power of the key, tried to channel it
forward, breathing deeply. Her nails dug into the palms of her hands.
"Leave." she whispered, softly.
The boards on the windows buckled in response. The glass behind them fell
in shards to the ground, the sound shattering the night. She threw her
arms up, glass cutting them from all angles.
She raised her chin, swallowed.
The boards shook and split, falling in a heavy blast into the darkness.
And there was nothing left between them.
She could hear the beating of its wings, a gentle wash of air blowing over
her, throwing her hair back. She could smell the acrid breath-feel the
heat twisting through the carnivorous teeth. It tilted its head to the
side, its eyes bright as it regarded her.
And she pulled once more within herself, teased the light from the ground,
green and swirling in wild patterns like vines. It spun around her and
through the darkness, and she cried out again in a formless scream, beyond
language and all thought. The dragon jerked back, thrown. Its heavy tail
crashed against the wall, its legs clutching to the gothic stonework,
springing back with the force she exerted-escaping into the night as the
stones began to fall. Erin watched it trailing away into the night, a
black, winged shadow retreated to the mountains.
And as the roof collapsed in crushing weight, she smiled.
The first thing that invaded Spike's senses was the sound of steady
rainfall. The next was the scent of coagulating blood.
It was dark, and cold. He tried to move, and a random piece of limp weight
fell against him, and rolled away.
Beyond it, he could see the pale distant rafters that remained from the
ceiling, and he could feel the sensation of rushing wind. And he
remembered. The wall had caved in.
Soft raindrops drifted into the room from the far, collapsed wall. They
sprinkled across his forehead in a soothing spray.
He tried to shake the haze from his skull, and finding the floor against
his hands, he pushed himself up.
Broken bodies. Dead. Dozens of them. He had been thrown among the
casualties of the attack. His head throbbed, and some distant, studious,
clamoring part of his mind reminded him that he *was* dead-- that they must
have taken his pulse, while he was unconscious. And moved him here among
the dead-- where he belonged.
But he did what the other dead could not, and stood up.
And for a small space, he wasn't the evil vampire, or the strong protector.
He was just, suddenly, a very tired and bewildered creature, damp with
rain. And he felt a strange sadness creep into his bones, as he looked
across the charred, colorful cinder blocks fallen from the mural. And the
rain began to beat harder against the remains of the roof.
People were moving back and forth, with few words spoken softly in the air.
A girl was crouching against the wet floor, helping a middle-aged man
splint his broken arm.
Spike moved forward, stepping out from among the dead, and into the small
crowd that had gathered at the doorway. A shape on a sheet was being
dragged in, the old woman he remembered from when Erin attacked him-when
they had fought on Heorot's steps, following it. That time on the stairs
outside this place seemed distant and remote in his memory.
He trailed along in the flow of movement, the overwhelming sadness in the
air, and felt it pulling him forward among these broken, confused people.
And when he saw her, he froze in place. His eyes softened as he tilted his
head slightly to the side.
They hadn't closed her eyes. She was staring, her brown eyes looking up
into the broken ceiling and the sky. Rain fell in her still lashes, and
ran like tears.
Like Anya. And others before and since. And it was far better than what
the ones he'd killed had had.
But somehow that didn't comfort him, or settle the racing movement in his
mind, the weakness in his wrists.
And the old woman moved forward then, beyond the shadowy darkness of the
hallway, her lips moving in strange, rhythmic crooning. And he realized
she was singing-- so softly singing in a voice that sounded strained.
"Oh-- what is this, that I can't see the ice cold hand taken hold of me?"
And her eyes caught his abruptly as she move forward and brushed past him.
The group pulled the sheet forward, towards the casualties-- towards the
In a burst of movement, he broke through the throng and out into the
hallway. Sophia, the old woman turned, broke off her song, and watched him
He kicked at the lock, and the locker fell open, the door falling to the
ground in a senseless clatter.
He quickly surveyed the contents and took what he needed, moving with
And he turned to go.
The old woman-- Sophia walked up to him, her eyes rimmed with red from
unshed tears. She laid a strained, papery hand on his arm, that trembled
with age. He looked down at its weathered beauty distantly, felt its
And their eyes met, and she didn't flinch at the piercing anger in his
eyes. She had a brave heart, and met his gaze.
She understood when she looked at him what he meant to do, and with a sharp
intake of breath, laid her other hand on his own.
He turned away, left her trailing behind him down the hallway, towards the
main entrance and those old, carved stairs.
"Erin was strong," she called after him. He paused.
"She was strong and she couldn't kill it-you can't do this. You'll die."
And he turned in the doorway, slinging his crossbow on his back.
"She used magic," he said, his tone cold, "That thing-that thing's about as
magical as you can get."
"You can't do this," she said firmly, staring back at him with the same
"She used magic," he repeated emphatically, stepping out into the rain, "I
have other methods."
And the storm gathered around the broken halls of Heorot as he moved into
Continued in Part Eighteen: Farewell