"You have broken your sacred
vow, Dannan. The situation you have created is *UNACCEPTABLE*!"
The elder's voice thundered through the cavernous meeting hall, causing the chandeliers to rattle and the gathered audience to whisper and mumble excitedly in the gallery.
Dana sat in her huge chair at the head of the Council table, looking unconcerned as she casually smoothed a wrinkle in her black velvet robe. She had expected such a reaction -- worse, actually. But she was not about to let this impertinent whelp talk to her like an underling.
She looked up slowly, regarding each vampire at the table with a hard glare... she projected a personal thought to each of the 20 of them. When her examination reached the elderly woman at her left, she paused, looking into the woman's eyes with an ancient trust, and the woman returned Dana's gaze with concern, but she knew there was nothing she could do for the woman she considered her daughter. Dannan was the Prelate of the Council -- she was a big girl, and besides -- the law was the law, and she was as much bound by it as any other citizen, despite her age and power.
"Dannan, do not try to work your magicks on us! You will not sway us from our decision, nor distract us from the law! Your contact with Angelus violates one of our most ancient laws... one that you were directly involved in creating! It puts the future of our whole RACE at risk, and it spits in the face of all we have worked toward. You have acted like an impetuous child, and your selfish dalliance must end! Or... you will be punished..."
Dana's gaze coolly turned toward Martonius... he was barely 1/5 of her age... she smiled with obvious disdain, distaste, and more than a little impatience at his angry grey stare.
"Do not presume to threaten me, Martonius." She said calmly, "I am well aware that none of you are pleased with my decision, but that is of little matter to me. The prophecy cannot be thwarted -- Be'lheran has never written one word that did not come to pass. Angelus will fulfill his destiny, and all of our arrogance and deceit will not discourage him."
She sat back and sighed deeply, regarding her ringed, carefully manicured hands with apparent lack of concern about the proceedings, but continued.
"Besides, As the humans say, `the cat is out of the bag'. Angelus will not rest now until he finds the truth. The events of the prophecy are coming to pass, as written. Despite what we have done to try and stand in the way."
"NO!" Shouted Martonius, "I will NOT allow this!"
"You will not allow it?" Dana mocked, "and
what do you propose to do -- throw your tiny being in the way
of a destiny bigger than anything we can imagine; one that is
bearing down on us like a freight train?" She laughed. "I
would be FASCINATED to see you try."
"You insolent BITCH!" He roared, charging around the table toward her. She sat, unruffled, as he barreled into her energy field. Several court guards approached and began remove him, but Dana shook her head and waved them off.
"You are acting like a child, Martonius," said Rachan, another councilman -- a wise Roman only barely Dana's junior.
"The child that he is...", Dana mocked.
Martonius gave her a panther-growl and returned to his seat.
Rachan scowled at Dana, "Dannan, do not be so quick to judge... Martonius is at least correct in his assessment of your actions toward Angelus."
Dana cock her eyebrow sarcastically, "Do you suggest the Council send me to my room?"
A third councilwoman, Arisha, spoke up, "Dana, you have been a leader of our people for time immemorial. But you have acted rashly..."
"And against the express wishes of the council... based on a democratic vote that was nearly unanimous...", her foster Mother, Erishka, said.
"Not you, too, mother..." Dana whispered.
A young-looking girl, Dana's companion, Maella, rose and move around the table to stand at Dana's right shoulder. "Dana is right. Fate cannot be thwarted... at least not for long... Angelus would have found his way to his destiny with or without her intervention. But this way, at least we have some control over his actions... at least we know exactly what he is up to... perhaps we can make this time a little less violent...the transition less disastrous."
Dana looked up at the blonde girl and smiled warmly.
"Did anyone ASK the opinion of a SERVANT GIRL???" shouted Bennic, a member of Martonius' inner circle of dissenters. The group insisted that vampires were the superior race of beings upon the Earth, and objected to any idea of a shared existence. They belonged to the Society and the Council out of safety and convenience only, and constantly struggled to convince the others that *ruling* humans was the proper way to deal with them, rather than hiding hiding in the shadows like frightened newborns. They were also elitist within vampire society, believing certain clans of vampires superior to others, and disdaining those they felt were below them. The democratic nature of the council was a particular thorn in their sides, and the prophecies of the change in vampire society, the ones involving Angelus, were a source of great fear.
Dana shot daggers at him with her eyes.
Another council member offered, "All have a right to speak at Council. It is written."
Martonius said, "It is also written that Angelus will *DESTROY* us! And you all act as if Dannan had violated a traffic regulation! She has unleashed our extinction upon us! It is only a matter of time before Angelus discovers the wrong done to him by this very council, and use it as a means of annihilating us!!!!"
"Don't be such a drama queen, Martonius." Dana quipped. She stood to address the gathering. "I offer three cheers to Mr. Overreaction, people, but let us not fool ourselves into thinking we can avert our eventual," she shot another look at Martonius, "...evolution. All things pass away -- it is the way of nature, and we are not immune to it. Death makes way for new life..."
"We are not FLOWERS, Dannan!" Martonius' partner, an equally angry young woman named Christiana, added, "We do not bloom in the sun and wither and die at the end of a summer! We are IMMORTAL!!! We, more than any other creature in existence, have control over our destinies -- individual AND collective! Do not try to smooth over your crime with platitudes of "the circle of life"! You took a sacred vow, as did we all, that whether Angelus met his destiny or no, we may not be able to control, but we agreed we would NEVER offer our assistance. Because he is a favorite of yours does not make him any less our mortal enemy!"
Dana rolled her eyes.
The man to Dana's right had remained thoughtful and quiet throughout the proceeding. Toloshan, one of the only vampires her senior on the council, offered his wisdom from beneath furrowed brow.
"While it is true that Dana has broken a vow, it is also true that she only took it grudgingly to begin with, and because she was forced to do so. She has studied the Be'lheran scriptures since before the time of your ancestors." He addressed the table and rose so that the gallery could hear, "She, more than any of us, understands the prophecies of Angelus. It is she who has followed his life. So, we must conclude that it is she who best knows how to handle him."
"But when her curse comes to bear, Toloshan, what then? Who will feed her boy-dog when she is dust?" Martonius snarled.
"I don't propose to control him, Martonius, only to guide him." Dana said.
Toloshan looked back at her, "All the same, Dannan, we must forbid you to tell him explicitly of his destiny or our role in it. And if you should find them, we must forbid you to provide him with the means of fulfilling that destiny. If the Angelus Prophecies should come to pass, they will do so without your magickal assistance."
"How dare you?" Dana finally felt anger slipping through her cool facade, "How dare you forbid me from doing ANYTHING for Angelus, when it is YOU who have broken our laws and meddled in prophesied affairs at the outset!!! You have done Angelus an incredible injustice, and for what??? To delay our extinction by a year? Two? You robbed him of his rightful place at Council, at my side... you robbed him of his right to live among his own kind. You have caused him pain beyond imagining! And you dare to tell me you FORBID me to offer him some small comfort -- some sorely needed counsel and guidance??? He is the last, the youngest, and the most noteworthy of us -- whatever the final product of his life, he is still our brother!"
Silence prevailed for several minutes.
"You may love him, Dannan, but he is still a murderer of our people. And the `product of his life', as you say, is the eventual extinction of our entire species." Christiana said with disdain.
"Not our extinction," Dana replied, "our evolution."
"Whatever you choose to call it," Erishka piped in, "The end result is the same. However, the cat, as you put it, is out of the bag. What is done is done. There is naught we can do about it now, but continue to watch Angelus carefully. Without the Magicks of Incarnation, he might still not meet his destiny in the way we think...and" She turned to Dana with a pointed look, "I am certain that not even Dannan will break that vow."
Toloshan nodded. "It is so. I suggest that Dannan continue to interact with Angelus -- to do what she can to prevent his returning to Sunnydale and the Slayer." He turned to Dana, "You will stay with him -- teach him our ways. Keep him out of trouble, so to speak. Your sacred duty now is to protect our kind from him, even as you take him into our fold. Until your death, you will be his guide... doing your best to steer him away from the Incantations... Does this meet with your satisfaction, Dannan?"
"It does." She said -- it didn't, she thought. She knew it wasn't enough. She knew that she must work to restore Angel to the life he was meant to lead -- the life her people had stolen from him in their fear. It was the council's greatest hubris, and she would move mountains to see it reversed.
"Fine. Then we are agreed." Toloshan said, "I move that the council be adjourned."
Dana agreed, and as prelate, this marked the end of a tense meeting.
Dana, Erishka and Maella strolled arm in arm through the throngs of vampires leaving the main council chamber and spilling out into the halls.
"Another fun day at work." Maella quipped. She had been Dana's companion for some 200 years, nearly 1/3 of her life. She respected Dana; shared her vision of the evolution of their race. She also knew of Dana's special affinity for Angelus, and agreed that what the council had done to him was a horrible crime. However, she also greatly feared one so young who wielded so much power, especially if he was the consort of a Slayer.
Dana and Erishka, on the other hand, knew that Slayers were only people, in the end, and held little fear of them. Between the two of them, they had seen the rise and fall of hundreds of the Sisterhood, or more. So long as the souled ones kept to themselves, they had little to fear from her. Angelus was another story. Erishka knew the whole history, as well, including Dana's feelings, the prophecies, and what the Council had done to the young vampire--she had been one of 5 to vote no on the proposition. Whatever happened to their race was the way of nature. While they should by no means be stupid about letting themselves be wiped out, Erishka felt it was wrong to interfere in the destinies of others. In other words, she was torn in this matter. Slayers and souled ones were usually a non-issue
"But this Slayer is different." She reminded her family aloud. "She is the most powerful of all. And Angelus' love of her will change the world"
Dana put her arm around her foster mother's shoulders, "Erishka, my dear mother, do you not think that I know that, down to my core? I knew Angelus for a thousand years before he was born. So, I know the boy he will do great things for us and for humanity. And you know full well" her smile faded slightly, "that it is only through the love of his Slayer that he is able to achieve his heights. He will be a great leader among us... a bridge between our world and that of the humans. The time for our isolation may soon be coming to an end."
"I know the prophecy, Dannan. I also know that his path will lead to the destruction of the peace we have worked for so many centuries to build. Many of our people will die. He is the reason the soul-restoring magicks have been lost, Dana... too many magicians feared his coming..."
"They are not lost, mother, remember? Not all of them. And those that were had nothing to do with the Angelus prophecies... Angel was restored once not so long ago by a mortal girl -- a companion of the Slayer."
"Dannan, sometimes your sentimentality is frightening. You are the only one who possesses the magicks to reverse what the council has wrought upon the Chosen and his Slayer."
"Mother, SH!" Maella cried.
"Yes, mother, please. If the council learned that I had deciphered the Spells of Incarnation, I would not get away with a reprimand or a shout-down from Martonius and his cronies. I have vowed not to use them, and use them I shan't... for now. There's no guarantee they would work, anyhow. There has never been anyone on which to test them. So don't worry so much." She kissed her mother on the cheek and took Maella's hand, "My dear family, I must be off. I have a date."
Story and Mangled Graphics by Ducks, ©1999. Email the author at firstname.lastname@example.org