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bogwitch

Fic: Old Gods, New Bonds (AtS, Illyria & Drogyn)

I shouldn't sit on this any longer. So what if no one will care. :(



Title: Old Gods, New Bonds
Author: Bogwitch
Rating: PG
Characters: Illyria and Drogyn the Battlebrand (Gen)
Spoilers: Season 5, Power Play, you know the bit with the X Box
Word Count: 1700
Disclaimer: Illyria will accept no ownership from me. Characters were slightly harmed before the making of this fic, so don't blame me, blame Angel.
Summary: “You must adapt or return to your rest.”
Author's Note: I'm not very familiar with Crash Bandicoot as I spent about two minutes playing Crash Bandicoot 2 and got very bored. Oh why couldn't they have been playing Spyro? Therefore, I don't which game in the series they are supposed to be playing. My research concluded it had to be either Crash Nitro Kart or Crash Bandicoot: The Wrath of Cortex,but neither seemed to entirely fit the script. Therefore, Crash fans will need a pinch of salt.



With no emotion showing on her stony face, Illyria watches the apartment door as it clicks back into its frame.

Crash Bandicoot?” she repeats.

The parting words of the one called Spike confuse her and, like so often when she’s left puzzled by the riddles he speaks, he'd spoken of things she cannot possibly understand; wonders of sorts that she has not yet encountered but will most likely disappoint her.

This time he leaves her with the mysterious ‘X-Box’ and ‘Crash Bandicoot’ and already the sound of their names are annoying. They have no meaning she can guess from what she's learnt of this human world, although the vague memories that belong to her shell suggest a game of some sort, a pastime: another piece of useless human junk. Despite this, she still finds herself looking down at the controller in her hand. The object is shiny and plastic, like so much in this baffling new world, and it feels heavy and wrong in her palm. The half-breed had evoked promises of fun and amusement but neither the names nor the controller tell her anything of what that fun might entail. The woman called Burkle did not play such games it seems.

Why humankind uses such trivial nonsense to pass their insignificant lives is beyond Illyria’s understanding. Time, as Illyria understands it, is to be conquered, dominated and ruled with the might of her fist, yet more and more she discovers human pleasures waste time in futile ways, not one leading to a purpose that matters. Mortals do not understand that their lives are transient, fleeting, and are frittered away on such idle distractions. Few use their short lives with real purpose.

The device does not seem to promise Illyria domination of this dimension or any other. It’s not balanced like a weapon; it’s too light, too small, so she dismisses it as useless. She has no wish to spend her energy on the worthless task of finding out what makes it work. But, the smoothness of the moulded shape feels intriguing under her fingers nonetheless, and the brightly coloured buttons, printed with symbols arcane and mysterious, do beg to be pressed.

Many things in this world of men have buttons she’s found. Some of them are even useful, like those in the lifting boxes back at the Wolfram and Hart; the brightly lit ones that allow her to select the floor she wants to stalk. She presses these new ones gingerly, but when nothing happens, she lets the controller drop with disinterest.

“Old One,” Drogyn speaks softly from the couch. It’s a soothing voice, without the noisy chattering tone of the others. It’s one she might bear for a short while, if his only his words would contain any meaning. “Come hither.”

She turns to him. Stares. He is weak, reeking of open wounds and humanity long past its expiration date, of dirt and sweat and old wasted blood mingled together. The only reason she regards him at all is because she recognises an uncanny strength under the spiking pain of his injury. She will take no order from one that would seek to contain her.

“I have no plans to return you the Deeper Well just now,” he assures her. “That was never my purpose here.”

Illyria is mollified for the moment. To him maybe she can stand to listen. Here is one that does not live a fleeting mortal life, over in a blink, a heartbeat, an exhalation of breath. He has a wisdom born of age, suffering and war. She could identify with such a man, a warrior with eyes haunted by violence and the lives he has taken; even if he would have her reinterred and forgotten in the furthest depths of the Well if was within his powers.

“Old One,” her former jailor says again, gently, reverently. He knows how lowly he is next to her, even diminished as she is. “Be seated. Tell me of what bothers you.”

She chooses to sit. Not because she is weary or because he asked her to do so, but because it suits her. She will not burden this man with what is really on her mind. Such a low creature as he would never grasp how small she feels, how lost or so utterly reduced she's become.

What a world this place is. Once legions had called her their god amongst gods; her life so glorious, they would fight and die for a mere glance of her face, Enemies would tremble just at the utterance of her name. All was hers to control. Now all that's left of that shining being is forced into this powerless shell, a worthless vessel that cannot begin to contain her. And yet these people, such as Drogyn or those that are no more than the walking remains of mortal men, who should shudder as they look up to her greatness, attempt to call her their equal. They issue commands as if she should care and comply, yet they robbed her of everything. They do not see how far she stoops to live at this human level.

Drogyn could never begin to understand so she will tell him not. Instead, she shares some of her more petty annoyances, of which there are many. “I know not what this ‘Crash Bandicoot’ is. You shall tell me.”

“I believe it is a game, a whimsy.” Drogyn leans forward and picks up the controller she discarded and offers it back to her. “Perhaps you should play.”

She doesn’t take it. “The half breed’s object does not function. I already tire of it.”

Drogyn presses a button and the screen before them bursts into life. “I believe it was the button named ‘Start’ that called forth the game.”

Staring at the screen, she sees nothing to interest her, just strange creatures in a world of garish colours that flash and blind. The sounds the game makes are noisy, raucous, sharp and too loud. Music, pointlessly crude and cheerful, blasts above the row.

Drogyn picks up another controller. “There appears to be enough for two to play.”

This seems to be the extent of Drogyn's limited knowledge, so together they attempt to figure out how to play. Illyria never does know if they are successful, but although the game is pointless and unpleasing, she's compelled to play on. There is violence, if you can call it that, but there is no pain, no agonies to relish, no death; just endless crates to smash and small creatures to squash. She has no idea of the meaning of the fruit or the valueless crystals nor even why she should care.

She deserves better than this, she thinks as her character breaks into another carelessly discarded crate; she deserves glory and honour and the majesty of titanic battles that would rage for centuries. But the world was so different now, stifling in its smallness. Wars lasted years not millennia, the fallen were counted in tens, hundreds or thousands, not in volumes too vast to count. There is no one to grovel at her feet to beg for an end to their suffering. There is no one here that notices her at all.

“I cannot tolerate the humanity of this place,” she confesses and Drogyn just nods, allowing her the space to speak her true thoughts. Indeed, he is wiser than most here. “I held their lives like grit between my fingers,” she continues, “mine to keep or discard. Now they do not see me or the males just stare at this shell, their filthy lusts open on their faces.”

“You must change, Old One,” Drogyn tells her. “You must adapt or return to your rest.”

“I do not wish to.”

“Perhaps it is not for you to choose.”

“I choose to play on.”

At that Drogyn falls silent once more and she listens to his breath, it's animal, physical, laboured with his pain. Human. Eventually he sighs, turns back to the machine and begins to play again.

Illyria knows she sounds petulant, but she doesn’t care. She was made to command and she sees little point in serving the wishes of others, even she deems to agree. It's just that she doesn’t know what to want any more. Human existence is as worthless as the Crash Bandicoot, perhaps she should choose death and reject this wretched humanness she's been reduced to.

Yet like the game, Illyria can’t help but be drawn into their valueless lives. Even those of the vampires that live a fantasy of immortality, lesser creatures marked with the tainted reek of men. They do not deserve her notice; they pretend they live when they do not die and they cannot know how real longevity feels. Yet they're starting to earn the respect she wants to deny them. She even sits here at the behest of one of these creatures, playing their pointless game, little more than a guard to one that had once guarded her, while they chase after those who play the real power games, scuttling around, buzzing like insects and just as significant. They are foolish to think they can win, but she admires them for trying. They fight a different sort of battle, but the struggle is still a war.

Illyria tries pressing another combination of buttons to see what they might do. The result is her character performing a violent jump. Drogyn's character is killed in the battle. This is satisfying.

Angel's people talk all the time of power; about its corruption and the good they think they can do with the backing of Wolfram and Hart, but they understand little of how to wield such strength. The power they know is a phantom, loaned to them by the Senior Partners for their own unknowable ends. This war then is not her own and she wants no part of it. She does not want to become like Drogyn and be dragged in regardless, yet if the alternative is guard duty and the ‘Crash Bandicoot', perhaps she will have to take a part.

In a world of the 'X-Box' and wars fought on corporate scale, maybe these small battles will have to do.


The End

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Great stuff. I love the way you convey how alien Illyria is - and the attraction of Crash Bandicoot, while funny, emphasises this. There's a tremendou sense of loss and emptiness here.

Thanks.

>>There's a tremendou sense of loss and emptiness here.

I can relate.

Just saying I'm going to have to read this tomorrow! Though you've probably already gone to bed... Now I have to go. :(

Ooh, I like it! It's all very measured and very Illyria. And I love that apart from at the beginning Illyria never asks a question, which is very true to character, and hints I suppose at a reason why Drogyn might prefer being around the Old Ones rather than people...

I delibarately write Illyria without questions (although she did ask them occassionally in the series, so I can get a away with a couple). But she's a being who would demand to know answers!

Thanks for coming back I'm feeling needy.

Are you sure there isn't some sort of LJ bug where you're not showing up in flists? It does seem very odd - especially with WMWBTY...

No idea, but cat posts get through well enough.

This one being Spike-less, I can see the hard sell, but then nothing else is doing good business either. This is not motivating me to write in the Buffy/Angelverse any more.

WMWBTY has never had many comments though, so I'm used to that!

I think I pretty much rely on seasonal_spuffy... Have you tried posting to gen_storyteller or something?

seasonal_spuffy is great and certainly brings the readers out, but that's no good when my ideas are Illyria related!

I was in gen_storyteller. It never occurred to me to post there, possibly my fic was too shippy.

You could post this there! Presumably?

I know what you mean though - I never really think about how much shippy stuff I put in anything vaguely gen I write, so I've never wanted to join and risk it. Especially since my reading preferences are generally much more shippy than my writing ones.

I'm a shippier reader too (except for Supernatural where I'm firmly Gen). However, I think with something Spike/Buffy, I tend to consider that gen anyway. I rarely go for non-canon ships, and even with Spike/Illyria, I'm playing with them rather than trying to get them together. I don't have that shippy agenda.

If the shipping doesn't intrude (ie. if I'm not being irked by Spike/Other or Buffy/Other and there isn't a porny sex scene every couple of chapters) I tend to feel like quite a lot of stuff is gen. Like those Spike/Buffy Giles/Anya sagas you used to get.

I tend to go pretty canon as well - although having said that I was writing something set in S8 (since been abandoned), which was starting to get Satsu/Dawn undertones. It made kind of sense(!).

I feel like it would hard to try and properly ship with Illyria. But I don't know! It's fun to try and friend-ship her with Giles...

I did fancy writing a proper Willow/Illyria once, but I never got past a drabble.

You can be made to care about a non-canon ship if it's done with real love and logic, like Giles/Anya. Throwing people together for the sake of porn irks me a bit. There has to be something existing there. I always thought the only true slash pairing in the Jossverse was Angel/Wesley.

Ah, now you see, Willow... Not a character I tend to read. Or write if I can help it. :P

I've actually never really thought about Angel/Wesley that much. I know that it's there, obviously, but hmm... Perhaps. Slash to me seems too often to be about pornicising friendship, which, well, is irksome. :D

I used to find Willow easy, not so much anymore.

I don't really care about Angel/Wesley, but I can see it simmering, it doesn't feel like just a friendship to me.

Slash will pornise friendship, hatred and all the rest in between. :)

I just find her annoying...

Wes does seem to get over his vampire-dislike rather easily.

And true!

And this is why you are the best I've seen at writing her character. You understand that about her.

Thank you!

There isn't an awful lot of competition though!

Perhaps not a lot of competetion, but I have started other Illyria fics and stopped very quickly because the author was no where near her voice and it was just too wrong to read.

Yeah, you can say that about every character though. I've always thought that character voice is one of the main things fic writer need to get as right as they can.

True. And the fact that not many try Illyria, and most who do fall flat, makes yours stand out even more because you are able to capture her. With more generic characters, it isn't as noticeable.

Maybe it's because I like describing horrible things, and so does she.

LOL. And making demands instead of asking for things.

I never make demands! I just whine a bit and hope people give it to me...

I love the way you've conveyed Illyria's sense of utter alienness and alienation but also how she's beginning to see past that. Nice work.

The ice queen is thawing!

I do love your Illyria, you manage to convey her otherness extremely well. And also to show how she might be reasoning and make the choices she makes. Especially loved the line: they pretend they live when they do not die

She's not a punk girl with blue hair, so it's great fun to explore a really different point of view.

You're killing me. My DVD player broke just before I arrived to that part on AtS5, and between stuff and other stuff I haven't replaced it yet. It's not that I don't know about the Fred/Illirya thing, just not the details, but I haven't happened on this Drogyn yet.
Can I be excused till I buy a new machine?

You can be excused if you come back and tell me what you thought!

At the moment it's enough to know that people actually want to read it. I don't want to put a ton of work into writing things that no one cares about reading.

Maybe you need to look for someplace other than LJ. The problem isn't in your writing, it's in the list. I'm not sure where else there might still be more interest in the Buffy/Angelverse, but I'm sure it's somewhere.

Hey. You're a great writer, and you have an excellent beta (grins), so there is no excuse for the readers not to read you!

I threw it onto FFN, but it did zero there, which isn't unusual. But it's not helped by neither Drogyn nor Illyria(!) being listed on their character tab list. I always knew a story with no Spike wouldn't do as well, but I got annoyed when I only had one (and a half) readers overnight. Things picked up a little but hmm, is the Buffy/Angelverse worth my while anymore when all I'm really doing is finished up all those outstanding projects?

The only things I can think of that my friends list might get really excited about is either a really porny Spuffy (hey...) or Doctor Who (not going to happen ever, before you start!).

>>...Doctor Who (not going to happen ever, before you start!).

I seem to have lost my ummphh for Doctor Who, though I still like the show. I gave up on my story after reading some of what was out there. Most of it was shippy, so I wasn't that interested, and figured there wouldn't be too much interest in mine.

That's why I'm having so much more fun with ATCs. I've traded 40 in just the last two weeks. Definitely lots of interest! I don't feel like the beggar at the feast.

I am having a few loose ATC ideas, but I think all it'll do is jighlight that I'm no artist! A designer, maybe.

It doesn't help my paints and pens are in a different town to the rest of the arty stuff!

I do belong to a couple of sites that allow only hand-drawn or hand-painted ATCS, but many of the people I'm trading with aren't artists. At most sites the ATCs are collages of 'altered art', many with no pen or paint to be found on them.

Check out:

http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathysartwork/

She does outline her images but most don't even do that.

Some of the sites have swaps aimed at teaching a new technique. You can get into 1 on 1 swapping, where you both look at each others already-created work and choose what you want, or you can join up to create themed cards (usually you agree to more than one card for a themed swap). Since I had so much stock-piled, I've mostly been doing the 1 on 1's, though I've joined a few themed swaps. Did you see my 'colorful cats'? They're on the 2nd page.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/aceo

Ah, the problem with the swapping part is that if I thought it was good enough to swap, then you'd have to prise it out of my dead fingers!

I did try to do something like that with a folder years ago. I spent ages lining things up so everything could be seen. That was before the internet and access to a colour copier, so it was use once and destroy!

Ooh nice cats, I like the window reflection look.


I tend to enjoy creating things but aren't usually that keen on keeping what I've created.

Okay. I'll stop trying to convince you (or at least, I'll try to stop trying. I'm having so much fun, it's almost a compulsion to proselytize).

I like that effect, and I like the idea of writing a story to go with the picture as I did with Idunna's Gryphon. I'm doing a 1 on 1 for a storied ATC, and I'm planning on combining the two--a half-breed yeti's child staring out the window onto a world that is too warm for him.

I find it hard to part with some of the cards.

I'm resisting convincing, I'm just having trouble organise my gear and fitting it in. So much of my art stuff is shared with my mum and it lives at my parents, so I can only do it when I'm staying over.

Maybe the story will help boost the writing. It would be a share to waste that talent. I do find my graphic art muse is in the ascendant when my writing one isn't.

>>Maybe the story will help boost the writing.

I was thinking that. I was thinking too, that it might be a viable enterprise, to create a book of short stories based on ATCs. That would be fun, but might interfere with my trading. :)

Running in to say

HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!!!!!!!!

Hope it's been/is being BRILLIANT!!! :)

Thanks! I wouldn't go that far, but it's been/being okay. had a nice lunch out.


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