Chapter Eight

"Terrwyn, a messenger from the Protectorate has arrived."

"What did they say?"

"The Chosen One is guarding a forming portal of dark energies. Someone or something pooled enough dark magic one spot, and it has partially punched through the fabric to the realm of the demons. She cannot come here because the creatures of the night are being drawn to that spot in growing hordes."

"Then we're going to have to take of this ourselves." Terrwyn said.

"You may have most of the abilities of the Chosen One, but you are not her." Andreas said. "You will die if you go up against a Master."

"You expect me to do nothing?" Terrwyn demanded. "This monster is trying to bring back one of the Old Ones, Andreas. One of the original demons. I may not have been Called, but it is my duty to try to prevent this. Yours as well!"

Andreas sat down, heavily, thinking about his wife and son. He was not prepared to die.

"This ritual requires the life of a pre-born. All we have to do is find the mother that they have captured, and keep them away from her long enough for her to give birth and the baby to draw breath. Without that, there will be no rising."

"You make it sound so simple." The older man said. Except, right now, he did not seem older to Terrwyn.

"Simple, yes, but in no way easy." Answered the young warrior. Suddenly, she felt very much the elder of the two. "The Chosen One was created to prevent this very thing from happened. Should I ignore this danger simply because I have not yet been Chosen?"

"No, I suppose you can not." Andreas dropped his head in his hands, and thought of his wife and son again, and what could happen to them if they did not do this. "I am with you."

Terrwyn nodded, then turned thoughtful as she tried to come up with a plan with the little knowledge that she had. "There are magic users in the area. I can feel it. We will need protection of the strongest kind. Something that cannot be broken once cast. They also should be able to give us something of that sort, as well as a transportation spell. If the woman has not gone into labor or given birth when we find her, we can get her to safety. I will leave before sunrise."

When dawn came, Andreas sent the Protectorate messenger back with news of what was occurring, and spoke with the temple priests about giving the unknown woman sanctuary if they could rescue her. If they were able to pull off the impossible, it was more than likely that the demon would attempt to kill the mother and child in retaliation regardless. He also advised them to make sure the villages were safely in their homes long before sunset. Whether they succeeded or not, especially if they succeeded, he knew that the blood demons would descend on the village in fury, knowing that it was where he and Terrwyn where taking shelter. The last thing he wanted was to save the world at the cost of these innocent peoples' lives.

Terrwyn reigned in her horse on a grassy knoll as she looked down at the idyllic little village nestled safely in a hidden valley. The power that she felt radiating from the place burned along her senses. Knowing better than to try to intrude, she waited until she was noticed and approached. It had taken most of the morning to find the village, following her senses tenaciously despite being misdirected several times. It was early afternoon before they accepted that she wasn't going away and sent someone to greet her.

"Warrior, why are you here?" Asked a woman in a simple linen gown. "This is our land, and you are trespassing."

Terrwyn dismounted and went down to one knee. "I apologize, but I am on the gravest of missions. A demon seeks to raise one of the Old Ones, and I must stop him because the Chosen One is elsewhere attending to another situation. I have come seeing help."

"What is it you seek?"

"The ritual requires the sacrifice of a pre-born." Terrwyn said. "If we can protect the mother and babe until the first breath is drawn, then the ritual cannot be completed, but the gods and goddesses of these lands are forbidden to interfere with this war, and I do not have the knowledge."

"Who are you?" The woman asked curiously.

"I am Terrwyn, of the tribe of Andras." Terrwyn bowed before remounting her stallion. "I am one of those with the potential to become the Chosen One, but I have been trained by the gods and goddesses of many lands."

Already turned away, she did not see the woman's reaction to her words. They rode to the village in silence and met with the Coven, where Terrwyn told them what she knew of the demons' plans. She explained what she wished to do, and what she possibly needed to accomplish it. By the time the sun was halfway to the far horizon, she had what she needed, and a little help in the form of a warrior witch.

"We have to be quick." Terrwyn said to the witch. "The ritual takes place tonight, and it is several candlemarks before we reach the village that I traveled from. The fortress that they are using is another three candlemarks from there by horse. The ritual will have begun by the time we reach it, and the sacrifice will be done at the witching hour."

"Then we'd best ride." The witch said.

~~~ BtVS ~~ AU ~~ Highlander ~~~

Just a few moments more, Terrwyn thought desperately as she swung her sword, barely keeping the unending horde back.

It had been pure luck and the blessing of the Goddess that they had found the narrow corridor nearly invisible in the dark passage. There was just enough room for her to maneuver, but the monsters were bottle-necked as they attacked and tried to get past her.

Terrwyn tuned out the screams of the woman giving birth behind her, as well as the terse instructions of the witch to Andreas, who had accompanied them on this mission. Instead, she concentrated on holding back the tide of blood demons and other dark creatures that was before her.

"Cast the spell, Talia!" She yelled back to witch who had stopped fighting to aide in the birth.

"What about you?" Andreas yelled back, dividing his attention between his charge and the heaving mother-to-be in his arms. "Once the circle is sealed, it cannot be broken. You will be trapped. This is the only protection we have. He will kill you for ruining his plans."

"If that is what is needed, so be it." She panted, unconcerned with the prospect of her imminent, and most likely brutal, death. "Take care of them. Tell them that I love them."

"Terrwyn, you can't expect me to just leave you!"

"Andreas, I will not be able to hold them back much longer. Even now, I can feel Baultar approaching." The girl told him. "You can't teleport the woman while she's giving birth, so SEAL THE DAMNED CIRCLE! When the baby is born, get out of here!"

Andreas was about to protest again when suddenly, the attacks stopped, catching everyone's attention. From her position, Terrwyn could see the mass of bodies shifting to either side. "He's here, Talia. Cast the spell now!"

The warrior witch nodded and quickly sealed the circle she had drawn despite the blood on her hands. When she spoke to her again, her voice was sad. "I'm sorry, young warrior. I will see that your sacrifice is not in vain. We will care for the woman and child since she has no one. You have my word."

Although that hadn't been who she'd been referring to, Terrwyn nodded anyway. Any response Terrwyn would have made was cut off by a scream from the laboring woman. It was enough to distract both them all, who instinctively looked to her in concern. The next thing Terrwyn knew, she was being lifted off of her feet by a hand around her throat.

"Give me the woman." The blood demon snarled. "Give me the woman now."

"Go ahead and kill me, demon." Terrwyn gasped, instinctively dropping her weapons to try and break his grip. "You will still lose."

The woman screamed again as Talia spoke words of encouragement. Only with the babe's first drawn breath would this truly be over. The blood demon's grip tightened spasmodically in frustrated rage. With lighting fast movements, he had both of Terrwyn's arms trapped behind her back, twisting them until they broke with sickening cracks. As she screamed in agony, he turned her to face the protected people. "Give her to me, Witch, or watch this one Turned before your eyes."

"The circle is unbreakable once sealed." Terrwyn sneered through the pain. "As soon as the child is born, they will be taken beyond your reach. You have lost, cythraul."

"Hold her." Baultar commanded, shoving Terrwyn to a couple of minions.

"The rest of you, break that circle. Do whatever it takes."

Baultar watched with growing rage as the woman's labor progressed. The woman herself was unimportant, but the ritual required the living blood of a pre-born. The child had to be sacrificed before it's first breath, or all of his planning would have been for nothing.

"I see the head." The witch told Andreas, ignoring the sounds of the creatures trying desperately to get to them.

"Get the circle down NOW!" Baultar roared at the announcement.

The sound of the baby's first cries, ten long minutes later, was like music to Terrwyn's ears. "Looks like you will have to wait another 2,500 years, cythraul."

Howling in rage, he grabbed her from his henchmen. He smiled in relish as the insolent whelp screamed in pain as he twisted her arms until the bones broke through the skin. He turned her to face Andreas, Talia and new mother. "I told you that you would watch her be Turned."

Before Andreas could respond, he sank his fangs into Terrwyn's throat, relishing her screams of pain as well as the anguish in the other man's eyes as he drained her life's blood in deep, satisfying gulps. Suddenly, he threw her down and clutched at his throat, gagging as tears of blood fell from his eyes.

"W-what have y-you done?" He rasped.

"What is the matter?" Terrwyn asked him, pushing the pain aside. "Do you not like blessed water in your blood?"

Andreas suddenly remembered the three wine skins that she had gulped down on their way to the tunnels. He watched in horrified fascination as the blood demon began smoking from the mouth.

"How long do you think it will take the blood to reach your heart?" Terrwyn continued weakly. She was bleeding out quickly from the puncture in her jugular.

"You think that this will destroy me?" He sneered despite the pain twisting his demonic features.

"Maybe, maybe not. But at least I will die knowing that you are suffering."

"Oh, no. I do not think so." Baultar growled hoarsely, dragging himself over to her. Anchoring her head in place with one hand, he tore out his wrist with his teeth and shoved the wound into her mouth. With her head tilted back and her mouth completely covered, Terrwyn had no choice but to swallow as the blood slid easily down her throat. Everyone gathered, even the blood demons, flinched at the scream that tore from Terrwyn's throat as the demon's blood mixed with the Holy Water already in her own blood. Her body arched until only her head and heels were touching the ground, then she collapsed into convulsions. The blood demons, Baultar included, inched away when small bolts of energy began to spark off of Terrwyn's body. They instinctively covered up when the sparks turned into a small electrical bolts that blew out the high windows and chunks of mortar from the walls.

"What is happening?" Andreas yelled.

No one answered. Finally, after what felt like candlemarks, but what in reality was probably only candledrops, later, everything stopped and Terrwyn's body went still. All but Baultar and his two minions had long since broke and ran, not knowing what was happening. After a few tense, silent minutes, Baultar shoved one of them towards the body. "Go and check her."

Slowly, the blood demon inched closer. "There is no heartbeat, Master, and she is not breathing."

Baultar looked up at the people across from him in triumph. Andreas bowed his head for a minute, then took a deep breath. Muttering under his breath, he spoke the incantation that would take them to the Coven where the witch had come from, and with a bright flash, they were gone. Just before they disappeared, Baultar heard Andreas's sneering voice one last time. "She was not the Chosen One."

He looked at the body of the dead girl in astonishment. No one other than a Chosen could have fought as she had fought. Finally, he dismissed the words as irrelevant and turned to Angelus. "Dump her in the forest near the village. Let the Hunger take her. It will be a fitting revenge for the human's protector to slaughter the very sheep she defended."

In all of the excitement, none of them noticed that all of the wounds that she suffered during the battle, were suddenly, completely healed.

~~~ BtVS ~~ AU ~~ Highlander ~~~

"Ohhh." Terrwyn moaned. Her entire body hurt. Her muscles felt like they were being stretched to the breaking point and her head felt like there was a herd of kelpie stampeding around and trying to force their way out of her eyeballs.

She waited for the pounding in her head to lessen, before attempting to sit up.

Which was apparently a mistake, since her head immediately started pounding once again. Taking several deep breaths to quell the churning in her stomach, she inched her eyes open to glance around and try to her bearings.

Where am I? she wondered. What happened?

The scent of fresh water caught her attention, making her realize that her mouth was dry and she felt like she hadn't had a drink in days. She slowly, painfully, made her way to the creek. Stumbling down to her knees, she bent over for a drink and nearly pitched face first into the water before she managed to catch herself. Carefully taking a sip, she nearly collapsed as her stomach clenched in sudden, painful hunger.

Oh, Goddess, she thought in agony. What has happened to me?

Taking deep breaths to force down the pain, Terrwyn glanced around to gain her bearings. The forest she was in was a familiar one. Not far from the village that had offered hospitality to them when they arrived to fight off a horde of attacking blood demons.

Using a tree for support, she made her way to her feet and stumbled forward. It took her over an hour to make the normally fifteen minute walk. The moment she stepped out of the haven of the forest shade and into bright sunshine, the pain in her head increase tenfold and her stomach began to cramp. So early in the morning, only the tradesmen were about as she made her way to the Temple, where she knew Andreas would be.

The walk through the village was long and painful, but finally, she was pulling herself up the few steps to the large ornately carved doors. By this time, the pain in her head was so intense that she was seeing spots before her eyes and Terrwyn could feel a strange burning sensation on her skin. The pain in her head and abdomen were close to making her pass out. Using the last of her strength, she took the knocker and banged on the metal plate beneath it three times before collapsing against the door, oblivious to the people watching her curiously. By the time she heard someone lifting the inner bar, the pain was so bad that she couldn't convince her body to move before the door was opened and she tumbled inside. She curled into herself and finally succumbed to the blackness darkening her vision, not even hearing the sudden, frantic yells for help.

Andreas, a member of the Protectorate of less than five years, yet had read every journal in the library and had thought he was a least partially prepared for anything that he could possibly encounter, stood in the entrance to the back hallway where he had been drawn by the knocks, unusual so early in the day. He stared at the figure that had fallen to the floor in open-mouthed shock. Terrwyn, the potential Chosen he had seen Turned just last night, was curled in a fetal ball, on the inside of the doorway. Her fair skin was red, blistering and slightly smoking as she lay unconscious in a pool of bright sunshine.

"By the Gods."

End of Book 1