“Dissolvo!” Tara said, staring at the bubble that had encased Kellan and Willow. Nothing happened, which she’d half-expected. “I can’t break it,” she groaned, disappointment evident in her voice.
“It’s okay, we’ll figure something out,” Angel told her, stepping forward.
“I’m thinking brute force,” Spike muttered.
“What can we hit it with?” Cordelia asked.
“Whatever’s handy,” Gunn replied. Faith stepped up, still a little dizzy. She moved toward the bubble and swung her axe down against it powerfully. A flash of light burst from the point of contact, and she flew backward, but the bubble only glimmered, not at all damaged.
“Bloody hell, woman! If you don’t quit nearly getting yourself killed, I’m going to kill you!” Spike growled, rushing to her side.
“We have to get Willow out,” Giles said, looking around the cave for something of use.
“Or she has to get herself out,” Wesley piped up. “Whatever Kellan’s doing to her, he’s doing it to himself, too.”
“You’re right. Willow’s strong, but Kellan’s stronger. Her magic didn’t do anything against him,” Tara said as Dawn moved to put a reassuring hand on her shoulder.
“Willow can do this,” Dawn said, with little conviction.
“We don’t know anything about this guy!” Buffy said angrily.
“We know he’s powerful. Is there anything else?” Gunn asked.
“He, uh, he said that he needed to use Willow to cast his spell. That her blood was the most important ingredient. He called her the Power,” Tara said.
“The Power?” Wesley said, almost to himself. “Surely not.”
“What do you mean, surely not?” Buffy asked, whirling around on the former watcher.
“I just…I’ve read about the Power,” Wesley said, a little sheepishly. “In the Togerian Prophecies.”
“Is that the book you keep on your nightstand?” Cordelia asked him.
“Yes, it’s my, uh, light reading,” he blushed.
“What does it SAY?” Xander asked impatiently.
“That, uh, that the Power will fight a battle against darkness, and that the end of the world would be in her hands. That her adversary, though powerful, would be weak, and that if she were able to exploit that weakness then the Vessel… Oh dear.”
“Oh dear? Oh DEAR?” Cordelia said angrily. “Did the prophecy happen to mention, say, the Key, the Champion, the Chosen, the Twice Called, and maybe a BINDING SPELL?”
“It…may have been mentioned.”
“That’s beautiful. Just beautiful. It’s great that you remembered that, Wes. Really, it is,” Gunn ranted.
“I’m sorry, I just didn’t think of it. It didn’t click.”
“It doesn’t matter. What else do you remember, Wes?” Angel said.
“That’s about it, really. It didn’t say anything about how the fight would occur, or when or where. Only that it would, and that the Power would have to act alone.”
“Alone? As in, without help?” Buffy asked.
“Yes,” Wes replied.
“So we sit and wait?” Anya asked incredulously.
“It seems that that’s about all we can do,” Giles replied sullenly.
“I ever tell anyone I’m not real fond of waiting?” Faith said weakly from the ground. Spike was cradling her head in his lap, stroking her hair.
“Yeah, well, you’re not going anywhere anyway,” Spike replied matter-of-factly.
“I’m fine,” Faith protested, trying to push herself up. When she winced and fell back into his lap, Spike said nothing. “Okay, maybe I’ll wait.”
“I can’t just sit here and do nothing,” Tara said, tears in her voice. Dawn wrapped an arm around her, and Xander moved to comfort her.
“Maybe you won’t have to,” Gunn murmured, looking around at the vampires that were moving into the opening.
“It’s a simple spell, really,” Kellan said, grinning at her. “I can make it painless if you’re willing to cooperate. Of course, if you’re not…”
“I’m not! I’m not going to cooperate! In fact, I’m going to fight you,” Willow said, fear in her voice. Kellan’s magic was too strong for her.
Don’t rely on your power. In the last dream she’d had, Tara had spoken those words to her. What did that mean? And why had it popped into her head now?
“It would be much easier on you,” Kellan reminded her.
“Why do you care if I cooperate? What does it matter whether it hurts me or not? You’re the evil one! You’re not supposed to care if I…” Suddenly, it was as if a flash went off in Willow’s brain. She wasn’t going to rely on her power. She was going to use it, but she wasn’t going to rely on it to save her. She would do that on her own.
“I don’t care. I just think it would be easier on all parties concerned if you’d just…”
“You need me to,” Willow said, her voice almost awed. “You need me to cooperate. Or it won’t work.” Kellan smiled maliciously.
“So you ARE smarter than I thought. That’s good. Yes, Willow. You do have to be willing. Of course, there are ways to manipulate free will.” Kellan snapped his fingers, and suddenly Tara appeared beside him, bound and gagged, with a rather large vampire holding a knife to her throat.