Author: Alan Podjursky <alan.p[at]orcon.net.nz>

Summary: Ten Years Gone...

Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the Buffyverse except what I have created in original characters.

Feedback: Rean of the Coilm

Pre-fic Comments: I hate plotbunnies. I hate plotbunnies I get from thinking about stinking challenges.

Somewhat unauspiciously, due to the naming convention on my hard drive, this file is named 'btvs.au.13.01.txt'. Note the 13.

Latest addition

Chapter 1

"Few creatures of the night have captured our imagination like vampires... "What explains our enduring fascination with vampires? What is it about the vampire myth that explains our interest? Is it the overtones of sexual lust,power,control... Or is it a fascination with the immortality of the undead?

"And what dark & hidden parts of our "psyche" are aroused & captivated by the legends of the undead? The mysteries of the undead will continue to fascinate the living."

- 'Vampires', Godsmack


Buffy hated university. This was partly due to having to drop out to earn a living for herself and her sister, but also due to the fact that 'varsity students tended to have far too much time on their hands to summon demons and raise hell.

She couldn't avoid this one, though. Willow had tracked Xander down to this little university in New Zealand, and they needed him.

She also needed to find him, which was easier said than done.

"Excuse me, but where's the reception?," Buffy asked a passing student.

The student paused. "You mean the Registry?"

"Uh, sure, the reception, registry, whatever you call it here," Buffy said. "I just wanna find someone."

"The Registry is the big building at the end of Concourse, near the Library and the student building," the student explained, pointing towards the Registry.

"Uh, okay, thanks," Buffy said, not really any wiser.

Eventually, she found the Registry, where all administrative activities happened. The Slayer had somehow managed to get the lady behind the desk to tell her where to find 'Alexander L. Harris' -- the English department. Figured. She couldn't see him in the mathematics department.

After half an hour, she managed to find his office.

If she ever caught up with whoever designed these places... well, they'd better be human for their sake.

The Vampire Slayer nervously knocked on the door, which had 'BSC2.33 - A L HARRIS' marked on it.

"Enter," a familiar voice said.

She did, rather enthusiastically. The door swung too far, hitting a bookshelf and causing many tomes to make a valiant leap for the escape of the door, only to lose steam at the floor.

"I hope you're going to pick those up, Buffy," Xander said. "Shut the door."

The Slayer did so. As she picked up the books, she began noticing a theme.

"Mythology Of The Urals... The Cathayans... Rumours Of Cain... Xander, are you channeling Giles?," Buffy asked. "And why did you disappear for ten years, anyway?"

Xander stood up. He was dressed in a pair of jeans, and a white teeshirt with a german man holding a stein on it. "Gee, I don't know, Buffy."

"We need your help, Xander," Buffy said.

"The Slayer needs my help?," Xander asked. "The universe must be getting sick of using me as a rugby ball."

"Rugby?," the Slayer asked. "Uh, never mind. You have to come back, now."

"Why?," the former Scooby asked. "You've got a thousand Slayers. You don't need a one eyed former chippie."

"Giles... Giles is dying," Buffy said.


She was surprised at how quickly Xander started packing once he heard that. Eventually, he had a suitcase with a laptop, some papers and a change of clothes packed.

"Uh... that was quick," Buffy said. "Don't you have students to lecture or something?"

"We're in the summer semester," Xander explained. "Most students are either here for 'hard' stuff, or working during the summer break. Have you got a flight booked?"

"Sure," Buffy said.

The one eyed scholar turned off the lights in his office, locking the door behind him. He quickly moved to the English Head of Department, explaining that he had a 'family emergency.'

"I'm sorry to hear that, Alex," the HoD said.

"So'm I," Xander said. "I'm not sure when I'll be back, but I will be."

"Okay," the HoD said. "I'll keep your office assigned to you, as long as you return in time for the first semester."

And then they went to the airport.

Chapter 2

"Their steel shines red
With enemy blood
It sings of victory
Granted by the Gods
And as they return
Bleeding but proud
The horizon burns
And the song is ringing loud."

- 'Victorious March', Amon Amarth


Buffy looked at Xander on the plane. "Why did you leave?"

The scholar looked at her. "What?"

"Why'd you ditch us?," Buffy asked. "I thought we had it pretty good -- we'd beaten the First, thousands of new Slayers..."

Xander shrunk into his seat, clutching onto his carryon luggage with a deathgrip. "You knew your place in the world. I wanted to find mine."

The blonde moved around in her seat, feeling hyperactive. "Not good enough. Why didn't you tell us?"

Xander gave her a hard look. "I told Giles. I asked him not to tell anyone else. Happy now?"

"You still haven't found it yet, have you?," the Slayer asked, inspiration striking.

"I'm close," the former scooby said. "I've found the final resting place, I just have to go to it now."


Buffy had no idea what her Xander shaped friend was talking about.


Giles was in England, as he had been working in the administration of the Reformed Watchers' Council. The Council had pulled favours so that Xander would be able to bypass most of the customs checks and the like at the airport. Willow and Faith met the two at the airport.

"Wow, still travellin' light, boytoy?," Faith asked. Xander only had the suitcase and a satchel that didn't leave his side.

"I learnt about... Giles," Xander said, "and had to pack right away. I didn't have time to bring everything I wanted."

Willow gave him a big hug. "Xander! It's so good to see you again!"

Xander hugged his childhood friend back. "It's good to see you too, Will. How's that thing with Kennedy going?"

The redhead stopped the hug, pulling back. "Uh, it didn't go so good... because Kennedy wanted to find her own place in the world, which was okay since freedom is good, but I miss her, and--"

"Okay," Xander said, putting a finger to Willow's lips and silencing her. "That's the Willow I know. Did any of us get married, settle down, and have fifteen children?"

"Nope," Buffy answered.

The four of thems moved out to the small car in the parking lot. Emphasis on the small -- it was a Fiat Bambina.

"Uh, it's just as well that Slayers are compact," Xander muttered, "with cheap ba--um, people like the council. How do we all fit in this thing?"

"What, you're not into the kinky stuff anymore?," Faith grinned.

Somehow, they managed to get in with Willow and Xander in the back seats, holding the suitcase and satchel. They pulled up to a house that looked much like every other house on the street.

"Here we are," Willow said. "Uh, Giles isn't looking too good at the moment."

After extricating themselves from the tiny car, they went in. Giles was in the living room, in a La-Z-Boy armchair.

"G-man!," Xander exclaimed. "You have got to get more sun!"

The Watcher and former Librarian was pale. His hair, never particularly thick even back in Sunnydale, was stringy and thin.

"Don't call me that," Giles said. "God, it's good to see you again, Xander. Come here."

The old man gestured at an armchair next to his. "What have you been up to?"

Xander pulled a journal out of his satchel. It looked to be old, and had a rubber band holding it closed. "Caleb Blackthorne the Third's journal, Giles."

Giles took it with shaking hands. "God... I never thought I'd see this. Have you found anything?"

The one eyed scholar grinned, passing his mentor another small book. "Yeah -- I've summarised my findings here."

Giles paged through the second book. "Most of this is about the... Draconis Albionensis?"

Xander nodded. "Page three, my family tree."

"Hmmm... amazing. I take it that Draconis Biped are the only remnants?"

"Uh, translation?," Buffy asked.

"Oh, sorry, Buff," Xander grinned. "We're talking about Atlantis."

The Slayers and the witch blinked. Strange, the two men looked sane...

Giles grabbed Buffy's shirt, pulling her to his face level in an uncharacteristic display of fervour. "B-Buffy, here is-is the location of the Gem! We must leave immediately!"

"Seconded," Xander said.

"Oh, no you aren't," Willow said. "You're incredibly sick, Giles, you said so yourself and so it really wouldn't be a good idea for you to go, and I don't think--"

"I'm fifty, not five hundred," Giles snapped, "and old enough to decide for myself where I will and will not go."

He grabbed a cane from the floor, rising to his feet. "Well, come on, Xander!"

Chapter 3

"A pale, haunted man walks through this crowded land,
he holds his stomach like a girl.
Teared down this last stand, choking on spit and lead.
He wants his women to scream."

- 'Six Gun Sucker Punch', Karma To Burn.


Buffy put her hand on Giles' shoulder, forcing him to stay in his lazy boy. "Giles, you shouldn't be getting up, or excited like this. It's bad for you."

Xander moved over to Giles, stepping on Buffy's left foot and forcing her back bodily. "Oh, sorry, were you there? It's somewhat hard for me to see people sometimes."

"Xander," Willow began, "you knew very well that Buffy was there."

The one eyed man in the Beerfest tshirt looked at the redhaired witch. "No, I didn't. I haven't been thinking of you guys for ten years, why should I start?"

Willow's face darkened, but she remained silent.

"Boytoy," Faith said, "Giles is sick."

Giles took the opportunity to get out of the lazy boy armchair while Xander was bodily defending him from Buffy. "I'm sick, not dead, and will carry on living as if I am alive until I am dead. Do I make myself clear?"

Willow sighed. "Yes. I'm not your mother. But I do think you should stay sitting down."

Xander and Giles escaped to Giles' small library room (the second bedroom, for the rest of the houses in the street.) The old Watcher locked the door behind him.

"You're more in danger of being smothered than from dying of natural causes," Xander observed. "Still, better than neglect."

Giles snorted. "I'm sure."

Laying his satchel out on the table, Xander pulled out a large notebook and opened it to a map.

"G-man, I've found the location of the temple of the Dragon Lords. The main temple is in one of the Lost Cities of Antarctica. Luckily for us, I've got a map of the cities location."

"Don't call me that," the old man said absently.

Giles' finger traced over the map. His mind worked over logistics furiously... "Xander, I believe that we could prepare a small expedition to this City. If this is true, then the ramifications!"

The former scooby nodded. "Yeah. Would you be able to back it financially?"

Ripper stood up, and grinned. "Don't worry about that, let me do the organising."


Buffy, Faith and Willow were sitting in the living room, discussing the changes in their old friend. They weren't bothering to try and eavesdrop on the two, as Giles had immediately soundproofed the house when he had moved in. The Watcher despised being interrupted during research or study.

"What happened to him?," Willow said. "He doesn't like us, for some reason."

"We tried to shield him from the Slayage," Faith thought out loud, "and went too far."

Buffy shrugged. "He wasn't able to do much compared to the Slayers, you gotta admit."

Faith frowned. "Boytoy was hell on wheels if you got in his way, B."

"He's sure got Giles worked up," Willow complained.

"Didn't he say something about Atlantis?," Buffy said. "I think Xander lost it when he lost his eye."

"He could be onto something," Faith mused. "I mean, we've seen a lotta wack stuff over the years."

"The question is, do we let Giles go off on some trip?," Willow said.

"We can't stop him," Buffy admitted.

"Yeah," Faith shivered. "Ripper is wicked scary."


Inside the library, the younger man was laying out timetables with Giles' assistance.

"See? I think we could do it in the time I've got before I have to go back to lecture," Xander said.

"Yes," Giles said. "There's a expedition leaving early next week -- if I start ringing people now, then we should be able to travel with them as far as the Ross ice shelf."

"Okay," Xander said. "Now, people."

"I know some students of the Council that show promise," Giles said. "Shall I bring some?"

"Three," Xander decided. "There are some students back in New Zealand that would get a lot out of this, and we'd be able to pick them up on the way down."

"Buffy, Willow, and Faith are not coming unless they promise to leave me alone for the duration of the trip," the old Watcher said.

"And promise to shut up the whole time," Xander muttered.

"If I may, what caused you to break off relationships with them?," Rupert asked.

"G-man, ever feel alone in a crowded room?"

Chapter 4

"You're a wreck no matter what
You come and see that she's the perfect shot
You pull the strings and make her puppet fly
Your fate can make her cry
And it's all for you."

-'Pull The Strings', The Feelers


Xander blinked. "You work fast, G-man."

Giles smiled. "Y-yes, well, this is important to me. An antediluvian city!"

They were in Christchurch, New Zealand, with Faith, Buffy and Willow right behind them as well as half a dozen students.

"Mr Harris, er, Xander," one of the Kiwi students began, "when are you gonna tell us about this city?"

"Once we're underway," Giles said. "The, um, equipment has been loaded onto the ship and all that remains is to board."

"Giles, have you brought enough warm clothes?," Willow asked.

Giles raised his walking stick threateningly. "Yes, mother."

"Chill, Red," Faith said.

"Subzero, Faith," Xander said, grinning madly.


Once they'd gotten past a certain latitude, ice had started to form on the ship. Everyone below the age of forty five were conscripted to ice chipping duty, so that the ship wouldn't get top heavy. Giles had appointed himself supervisor, bundled up in a blanket or three and sitting in a chair that had been brought out.

"So what you're after is the Temple in the middle of this city?," a student, Jens, asked. He was from a small NZ town called 'Dannevirke.' "Stupid ice."

"That, and the Library it contains," Xander said. "According to what we have, religion, learning, and magic were tied together. Man, I want me some icecream."

Faith threw a handful of ice chips at the one eyed scholar before giving up. Too cold.

"We're after their history books, then?," Keith asked. He was one of Giles' students.

"We can still learn a lot if they didn't record any history," Giles said.

"Giles, what was that Gem thingy you mentioned back at your house?," Buffy asked. "Is it one of those Armageddon things?"

"Uh, no," the Watcher replied "To understand it, you have to understand the philosophy towards species at the time."

"Species? They had little green men?," Jens asked.

"No," Xander answered. "There was Draconis Nematoda, Draconis Biped, the Priests, the Wizards, and the Nothings. Did I miss any, Giles?"

"The Mazoku," Giles finished. "The Gem would uh, remove hybrids from the population by causing the major inheritance from the parents to become the only inheritance so, uh, someone a quarter Priest and three quarters Wizard would be, uh, all Wizard after exposure."

"What's with this quarter Priest shit?," Faith asked. "It's a job, no more, no less."

"Not quite," Xander said. "The Priesthood was hereditary, kinda like the Levites in Jewish society."

"Heavily structured, then?," Keith asked.

"Any demons or vamps?," Buffy asked, priorities always in order.

"That was uh, the function of the group called the Adamantine Hammer," Giles said. "Formed from the d-dragon people. We don't know much about them past what is recorded."

"Why're you so quiet, Red?," Faith asked. "You should be right into this history shit."

Willow looked up from the rail she was de-icing. "I'm thinking."


After half a week, they had gotten to where they split up with the main expedition. It took them about a weeks travel to get to the recorded location of the lost city.

"Well, shit," Faith said. "No front door?"

Bill, the third of Xander's students, looked over to the group from where he was poking at some snow. "I think there's some kind of door here."

They all obediantly trooped over to look at Bill's door. It was a slate roof, obviously to a tower or something similar.

"That's one very unopening door," Xander dryly observed. "Time for some renovating."

After the students had cleared more snow under Xander's direction, they carefully pulled the slate tiles off. Surprisingly, the tiles resembled those used in old rural settings.

"Okay," Xander said. "Hand me a torch, Jens."

The one eyed scholar shone the light around the room they had unearthed. It had a telescope at one of the unopened windows, forever looking at a vista of compressed snow. A floor to ceiling bookcase curved around a quarter of the wall space. The only other feature of the room was a staircase going to a lower level.

"This is soooo cool," Xander said, grinning like mad.

Chapter 5

Deep beneath the ice, a large cavern existed. The light from above shone down, refracted through ice crystals into a bizarre hodgepodge of pure white and rainbows. Very few of the buildings reached up to the ceiling of the hundred kilometer long cavity, numbered among the monstrous ice pillars dotted throughout in their size.

The mighty Temple stood in the center of the city, the towers at each corner of the open courtyard inside demarcating the worship are. Around the compound like compass points were eight towers, solid and unshakable to the Temple's thin, wisp-like minarets. To the east was a huge stone structure, cathedral like in it's size.

The Tower of the Astronomer had occupants for the first time in hundreds of millenia. The giant building containing the Farcrystal of Sa finally had feet treading it's ancient stones. A face appeared at the window briefly, before a dozen others joined it.

"Okay, boytoy, where are we goin' for the next date?," Faith asked. "Because this is wicked cool."

"I have no idea," Xander said absently. "We still have to map out the place and find the Temple and the Histories."

"There isn't a lot of building by that altar in that open area," Keith said, binoculars in hand.

"Er, I would suspect that the bulk of the religious chambers are underground," Giles said. "Or contained in that, ah, cathedral."

"Well, nothing's happening up here," Buffy said. "Except cold, we've got cold going on."


They found in the center of the Tower they'd entered via the top an immense cylindrical chamber lined with mirrors. Despite the passage of time, none of the reflective surfaces were marred. At the bottom of the chamber was a crystal dish with no visible method of controlling it, and no visible display.

"What is this, some kinda telescope?," Jens asked. "Where's the controls?"

"Stairs... auxillary observation... uh, what should I label this room?"

"Central Scope, Bill," Xander said. "Bill, you and Keith can stay here and map out whatever you want, try to figure out how to make this thing work. Don't break anything, unless you can get a replacement from K-Mart."

The two students absently nodded as they wandered off.

"Right," Giles said, rubbing his hands. "Onto the Temple!"


Xander looked at the altar. They'd somehow managed to get to the open air Temple, and were examinining the above ground parts before they investigated the stairs they'd found going into the ground.

The altar was made of stone, with a three feet square area raised about two feet from the dais that the altar was placed on. A metal tripod held a blue diamond above it. The Gem was obscenely large, almost a foot across, and had eight faces.

"Come to Papa," one of Giles' students said.

"John, try to control yourself," Giles sighed. "German, don't think I can't see you reaching for it."

"This was the Purification Gem," Xander said. "According to legend, it purified the people into one of the five subraces."

"That's so pretty," Willow said. She'd been in shock since the window in the Astronomer's Tower.

"How'd they make this rock work?," Faith asked, sitting on the edge of the altar.

"Uh, blood," Giles blinked. "The stuff acted as a trigger and a catalyst for the reaction."

"Well, let's check out the rest of this place," Jens said.


Half an hour later, the group were gathered back at the altar in the middle of the courtyard.

"Did anyone else check the towers?," Buffy asked. "Because they are so worth the walk. This place is amazing."

German held up a profusely bleeding hand sheepishly. It had a strip of shirt tied around it. "Uh, I cut my hand on a knife down in a storeroom by accident."

"I've got some bandages," Willow said. "Medic girl here."

"Great!," German said. "Here."

The student reached over the altar to let the red headed witch bandage his hand. Xander put out a hand to stop him, too late, as the group watched three crimson drops fall onto the brilliant blue diamond.

"Bugger," Giles said with feeling.

A surge of light flooded out from the Gem, continueing in a haze that washed over the group, permeating them.

Chapter 6

Xander grimaced as a wave of pain swept through his body. Stepping into that black magic stream to stop Willow hadn't hurt as much as this.

He heard a cracking noise, absently realising that it was coming from him, along with a strange sensation that he couldn't describe. The scholar decided to open his eye, then found that the gouged out eye had regenerated somehow!

Lifting his left hand, he found that it was now clawed, scaled, and a blue tinted silver in appearance. He followed the limb, jumping as he saw the great wings and realised that he could twist his neck around to look at the wings!

"German, you get an A for effort but an F for thought," he said, in a deep, rumbly voice.

Looking around, Giles and Willow looked much the same. The students, too, looked human except for a bronze coloured dragon that stood where Jens had been. The Slayers were still roughly human shaped, but were seven lithe feet in height, had scaled skin, and had other draconic attributes including great wings on their back.

"German, I am gonna skin you alive," Buffy growled, as she curled her green scaled fist.

"Ah, go easy on him Buff," Xander rumbled. "It was an accident."

"I'm going with B," Faith frowned, looking at her blue scaled hand. "The only place we're gonna fit in is at the circus."

"Uh, guys?," Willow quavered. "For some reason, I'm feeling really good from all this depressiveness, which is of the bad since feeling good when other people are feeling bad feels bad and I wanna go home and--"

"We get the point," John snapped.

Giles sat heavily on the edge of the dais that the altar was on. "This does put a damper on things."

"Well, I'm obviously a dragon, as is Jens, the Slayers are Draconis Biped, and I don't know what the rest of you are," Xander said. "The only good part of this is getting my eye back. It's nice, not having it hurt anymore."

"Dr-dragon?," Jens asked. His voice was much easier to understand than Xander's voice. "I'm a dragon?"

"I would hazard that Willow is a, ah, mazoku," Giles said, "and the rest of us are split between the priesthood and wizards."

"I'm a demon?," Willow said faintly. "But I haven't done any black magic for years!"

"It must have been stronger than anything else in you," Xander said. "Will, the Gem don't do humanity."

Giles experimentally held a hand out, palm upwards, and said a few words. Effortlessly, a ball of blue fire appeared. "Remarkable. It's far easier than previously."

German, who had been staring in depression at the Tower they'd entered the city through, jumped to his feet. "Guys! We got company!"

"What?," Xander rumbled. "This city hasn't had any contact with the modern world at all!"

A tall figure was, indeed, walking towards them. The man's bloodless figure was coloured blue, and he was clad in a chainmail waistcoat and a tattered cloak that concealed the rest of him. What flesh was visible had faint signs of decay.

"Vamp!," Faith yelled.

"I am no Nosteratu! I bear you no malice," the man yelled back. "I come to ask why you are here."

Xander turned his head towards the figure. "We are simply scholars, confirming records of this city. Unfortunately, we had an accident with ole blue glass there. I don't think it likes us."

The stranger raised an eyebrow. "I'd say it's only those two females it doesn't like. Chromatics, both of them."

"Chrome-whatics?," Buffy asked. "Look, I don't know anything about this. I'm just along to help Giles."

"At least you're still human shaped," Xander muttered. "And who died?"

The figure scowled. "I did, but it isn't polite to bring it up in company."

Giles pulled a book from a backpack that Faith had carried. "Amazing. You don't look like a vampire, or, uh..."

"Lich," the figure said.

Giles and Xander jumped back at this. "Shit!"

"Good lich," the figure continued, rolling what was left of his eyes. "Don't you people know anything?"

"Time for some interpersonal introductions," Xander said. "And is there any spells to change me back to my normal Xander shaped self?"

"I'm Lyth," the man said. "You're a dragon, you should be able to Polymorph Self."

"Uh, okay," Xander said, feeling stupid.

"I don't wanna be a Mazoku!," Willow complained.

"Tough," Lyth said.

"Uh, we should probably go and check on Keith and Bill," Giles said. "They're probably wondering what just happened."

"Right," Xander muttered, still in his large dragon form. "You go do that."

The old Watcher got up, taking his cane and the two Slayers with him. The students stayed in a huddle around Jens.

"Now," the lich said. "I'm going to assume you both have very little brains, and will describe this in words of one syllable or less."

"That's me," Xander said. "Found a city lost for several millenia, thicker than pig sh--sorry, Will."

"As I was saying," Lyth continued, "concentrate on becoming human."

"Doing that," Xander said, Jens nodding in agreement.

"Now, think harder."

"YES!," Xander shouted as he got back his Xander shaped self, albeit with silvery hair and pale blue eyes. His student Jens similarly managed to recover human shape.

"Crap!," Xander rumbled as he went back to dragon shape. "This could take some more work."


Chapter 7

Keith poked at the large crystal sphere in the center of the massive Tower. He and Bill had found that the central cylindrical chamber extended from beneath the ground floor to the very top of the Tower. It was capped by the clearest crystal he had ever seen -- only the fact that the icepack above the Tower had not left snow on the curved mirror far below betrayed the fact that the crystal cap was there.

Bill had found some similarly translucent ropes extending from roughly the second or third floor to a point in the middle of the chamber. At that point rested a crystal sphere roughly five times larger than the one in front of him. Four other of the lesser sized spheres were dotted around the perimeter of the ground floor, around the perimeter of the deeply curving mirror that extended in a hemisphere down into the Earth. If Bill was any judge, the mirror was a kilometer in diametre, and the Tower had to be at least five times as tall.

"How d'you think they built something as big as this?," Keith called down as he began to descend the staircase that extended the entire height of the Tower.

"I have no idea," Bill returned. "I think that it's some kind of Observatory, although I have no idea how they pointed it at anything, or how they turned it on."

"At a guess, I would say that it works through mystical means," an old voice called out. It was strangely strong, compared to it's whispery tones of an hour ago.

The two students looked over at the large double doors to the Tower, to see Giles and two... things standing by him. The creatures were seven feet tall, and were covered in hard scales with two large wings apiece. One was green in scale colour, the other blue.

"Giles!," Keith called out. "Uh... you do realise that you've got two demons standing by you?!"

"HEY!," the green coloured one screamed. "I'm Buffy! This is Faith! Xander's stupid hunk of ROCK did this to us!"

The two young men looked at each other, then at the two changed Slayers.

"It does quality work then," Bill said. He then whispered to Keith, "Up a few dozen cup sizes, I'd say."

The British student, staring at the Slayers' breasts which had increased along with their height, nodded dumbly.

"We can hear you," Faith growled, pointed ears twitching. "Out. Now."

Giles gestured at the door with his cane. "You two go back to Xander and the others. I'm perfectly fine here. Keith, Bill, let's try experimenting with this massive telescope."

"Shouldn't they go with us, so we can see if that stupid rock is still working?," Buffy said belligerently.

"As you say, as you say," Giles said dismissively, studying the crystal sphere that Keith had been investigating earlier. Despite the student's contact with it's surface, there were no skin oils or marks left on it.


"You're a scholar?," the lich asked, appearing put out. "You don't seem particularly gifted. Your friend Jens doesn't find it difficult."

"Magic has had a restraining order out on me for years, give me a break," Xander grumped.

He then let out a loud yell of joy, as he managed to stay in his human form for more than a few seconds.

"YEEEEHAH!," he shouted. "Two eyes again! Me and depth perception are back on speaking terms!"

The decaying Elven lich looked at him curiously. "Two eyes?"

"Boytoy here managed to get one poked out ten years ago," Faith called out as she, Buffy, Keith, and Bill approached the square. "Is there any way of letting us do the presto-change-o thing?"

"STOP!," the lich yelled. "Don't come any--"

He cut himself off as two scintillating bolts of blue fire leapt from the still bloody large Gem in the center of the open air Temple to the two temporarily human students, who were blinking in complete shock.

"Wow! How much blood per person does this thing run on?," Jens asked. His hair was a dark yellow-ish bronze in colour, and he seemed to have recovered a bit.

The air around Bill shimmered, as his outline fogged. Xander could see what had happened to him, as it happened to the his student. His skin rippled, as the flesh and bone underneath twisted and grew. It changed in colour and texture, as well as shape. The general appearance seemed to Xander to be halfway between a balloon inflating and one of those 'morph' things you saw on TV. Keith's change was far simpler, as a white glow seemed to seep into his skin. He collapsed to the ground, moaning softly.

Finally, a brownish-brassy coloured dragon was laying almost comatose next to a seemingly normal human.

"Looks like you'll have one more student on looking normal," Xander observed. "Want me to teach you, teach?"

"It won't be that simple," the elven lich frowned. "Brass dragons cannot polymorph as simply as you and your friend can."

"What about us?," Buffy demanded.

The lich waved a hand dismissively. "You're Draconis Biped. No polymorphing for you."

"Why you," the draconic once-Slayer female boiled, before rushing at the lich with a raised fist of hard green scales.