Beauty Effulgent

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Anya's Choice

Anya stood in the hallway of the high school holding a sword with both hands.  Panic began filling her as she heard the sounds of footsteps running toward them from the basement.


“I think they’re coming,” she heard Andrew say as he hid behind her. 


The pounding of her heart became almost unbearable.  “Oh, God,” she said.  “I’m terrified.  I didn’t think.  I mean, I just figured you’d be terrified, and I would be sarcastic about it.”


The sound of footsteps matched the pounding of Anya’s heart.


“Picture happy things,” Andrew said trying to calm her nerves, “a lake, candy canes, bunnies…”


“Bunnies!” Anya pictured the despicable little creatures.  She could feel rage replace the terror she had felt.  “Floppy, hoppy, bunnies.”



Before Anya could finish her thought, she realized her surroundings had changed.  She was no longer at Sunnydale High.  The stone walls.  The smell of sulfur.  The tapestries.  She immediately recognized her new surroundings.  At first she felt comfort.  She was home. Then she remembered that this was no longer her home.


She was at Arashmahar.  She could feel his cold eyes boring down on her.  She looked up knowing whom she was facing.


“Anyanka,” D’Hoffryn said with a wide grin on his face. “Welcome home.”


“D’Hoffryn, why have you brought me here?” Anya said confused.  “I’m in the middle of a life or death situation.”


“Life and death are precisely what I wish to discuss.”


Anya stared at the towering demon who had once been her mentor.  There had been a time, not too long ago, when she had been his favorite.  She had been revered by lower beings and by others like her.  But no longer.


D’Hoffryn continued, “…your life and death to be precise.”


“You have tried to have me killed for months.  I realize that my life is forfeit and has been since you granted my wish.  Why now do you bring me here?”


“It really hurt me, Anyanka.  You came to me when your life was in shambles.  You asked me to take away your pain.  I made you a vengeance demon again.  How did you thank me? By feeling remorse and guilt.  By asking me to undo the glorious death of twelve college students.”


“I wanted to die,” Anya said quietly.


“Yes, I know,” D’Hoffryn chuckled,  “but I always go for the pain.  The death of Halfrek was your punishment.”


“Why are we going over this?  If you’re going to kill me, be quick about it.”


“Anyanka,” D’Hoffryn went on, “you do not pay attention to details.  You never have.  I said we would be speaking of <i>life</i> and death.  I offer you a final chance at life.”


“Are you saying that if I go back I will die?”


“That will be up to you.  However, you may choose to live forever here at Arashmahar.  You will live as a lower being serving me and my vengeance demons, but you will live.”


Anya was stunned, a guarantee to live forever, something she had taken for granted when she was Anyanka, but as Anya, she knew she was destined to die at some point, perhaps during the current battle. 


She was intrigued by D’Hoffryn’s offer.  Life as a lower being, although a life in servitude, was better than certain death.  She was about to accept, when she thought about why she was fighting.  She thought about the conversation she and Andrew had had at the hospital, when he surmised that she actually liked humans.  He was right, of course, but she would never have admitted it.  She knew her friends were fighting for the survival of mankind, and despite the odds, they were determined.  How could she live with herself if her absence from the fight made the difference and they died and mankind with them? 


It had taken a few years living as a human, but she had really become one of them.  Despite the flaws of the race, despite the annoying emotions and the hatred and the greed, she realized she liked being one.  She knew she had to do her part, regardless of the ramifications.


“I decline,” she muttered.


“What!?”  D’Hoffran’s voice resounded throughout his palace. “I offer you life and you decline?!”


“I decline,” Anya repeated more forcefully, standing up to face D’Hoffryn. 


Regaining his composure, D’Hoffryn sighed and snapped his fingers.


Anya was back in the fight at the exact moment in which she had left.  She hefted her sword and began fighting the Turok-Han valiantly. 


Anya hefted her sword and dusted two of the übervamps in a row. 


Suddenly bringers began to attack.  They were going after Andrew.  She tried to fight them off, but there were too many.  She had just fought off one, when she felt the cold metal of a sword go into her shoulder and then everything became light.


It was so bright.  She tried to call for Andrew, but there was no answer.


Suddenly out of the light she saw two figures emerge.  She strained her eyes, but couldn’t make out their faces.  They walked slowly toward her. 


Anya turned around to run the other way.  An unseen force kept her where she was.  She began to cry, something she rarely did.


She felt a comforting hand clasp hers. “There’s no need to cry.” 


She felt an arm come around her neck from the other side, “You made the right choice.”


Anya turned around and, without a second thought, let Joyce and Tara lead her away.

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