Author's Chapter Notes:
Italics=internal monologue, which only Spike is having at this point.

Muchas smoochas to my awesome beta, slaymehard, you rock! :)

As always, the characters are just like a rental car...we have to return them with a half tank full to Joss in the morning. :(

This story won runner up for Best Plot at the Spark & Burn Awards, so gracias to all ya'll who voted for it! :D I'm not too up on the techie business, so here's the link to the loverly banner:
Spike’s eyes grew painfully wide as he looked in horror at the massive monster before him. The beast growled and shrieked, arching its back to reveal its full, enormous size. The hordes of demons the group was still battling paled in comparison to this creature.

A bloody dragon…a bloody…sodding…dragon!

Illyria and Angel stood close together, their swords tearing through the flesh of the demons before them. Spike could still see them out of the corner of his eye, though his gaze was decidedly fixed on the dragon, and he continued to cut through the various creatures attacking him. He couldn’t see Gunn anymore, though he could hear his hoarse voice shouting instructions. Spike remembered, vaguely, the sight of the demon masses attacking him, Buffy, and their troop in his final battle at the Hellmouth. That battle now seemed like child’s play.

How in God’s name are we going to do this?

Spike briefly glanced down at the ground beneath him, suddenly struck by the magnitude of the demons killed, and the amount still remaining to fight. Angel’s shoulders began to quiver.

“How are we…how can we…?”

“There’s four of us, mate, and only…thirty thousand of them…well,” Spike said, staring at the dragon yet again, “Thirty thousand and one.”

Illyria was enraged by Spike’s attempt at humor, and glared toward the blood-spattered vampire.

“Silence! Insolent creature…we need to decide what to do! This…this beast is only eyeing us up now…toying with us. The demons are mere diversions from it.”

She drove a long sword through the stomachs of three demons, creating a striking, shish-ka-bob effect.

“Well, pet, what genius plan do you have, because I never took Dragon Slaying 101.”

The dragon greedily stared at the group before emitting another horrifically high-pitched shriek. A blast from the beast’s mouth released a spew of fire that encompassed Gunn. He screamed in agony for mere seconds before his charred corpse dropped to the earth and was snatched in the claws of the dragon. Spike could feel his stomach turn as the dragon tore off Gunn’s head and began to consume his remains. The demons had ceased fighting, in reverence to the beast, and to laugh at the reactions of the three remaining fighters.

“It’s useless vampire,” shouted a brown, pig-like demon to Spike.

So encompassed in the first course of the dragon’s meal, neither the demons, nor the three fighters noticed a troupe of black-hooded figures emerge from a white mist. A powerful female voice echoed from underneath a hood, and the dragon ceased its meal, turning toward her. Three figures remained standing, as the thirty or so other hooded figures rushed into battle, swords and battle cries echoing with each strike. The hooded woman who had shouted to the dragon now let out a new series of incomprehensible words.

The white mist now covered the battlefield, and when it dissipated moments later, the bodies of most of the demons lay scattered and lifeless on the ground. The remaining demons feigned courage as they fought the hooded warriors and Angel, Illyria, and Spike, but when they realized their battle was already lost, retreated from whence they came. The group of hooded warriors followed close at their heels, leaving only Angel, Illyria, Spike, and the three hooded figures to battle the dragon. The brown-pig-demon remained, staring blankly at the dragon, in the hopes it would give him some answer. Spike drove his sword through the demon's chest.

"It's useless, eh, piggy?"

The second of the three figures seemed to be staring at Spike intently, and it seemed to whisper something of great importance to the third figure. He shook off the feeling as paranoia, and turned his attention back to the beast before them.

This should be interesting.

The cloaked woman stepped before the beast, and spoke in another strange dialect.

“Must be dragon-ese,” Spike said to Angel, though his wit fell on deaf ears.

The dragon cocked its head to one side as if it was intently listening to the female figure.

“Xthr vanta shar. Thia! Thia, vanta shar. THIA,” the woman bellowed.

A compassionate sparkle flashed in the dragon’s eyes briefly, but was quickly shaken away with an angry roar. It turned its hideous gaze upon Spike. The second hooded figure cried out in terror. Spike recognized her voice in an instant.

“No! Spike!”

A blast of coldness covered Spike before he could allow a word to escape his lips. Though he could see, he couldn’t move, and quickly realized why; he was surrounded in a thin covering of ice. The dragon’s hot blast was useless, merely beginning to melt his icy covering. As it fumed in anger, the cloaked woman who had spoken held an ominous hand with a sole finger extended at the dragon.

“Durantha Thia. Tkewk…so Thia!”

The second cloaked woman pulled a sword from beneath her cloak and as swiftly as a panther, drove the blade into a light, white patch glowing on the stunned dragon’s underbelly. Stumbling back and roaring again, the dragon swayed as it fell with a great ‘thud’ to the bloodied ground.

With a final, ragged breath, the beast shot a stream of fire toward the woman who had stabbed him. Anticipating the dragon’s reaction, Spike had summoned all of his remaining strength and broke through the melting ice. He tackled the woman, barely escaping the fire’s blast. Her hood fell back as they hit the ground; her blonde locks spilling across her shoulders, and glowing in the fire’s haze. Spike’s cool, blue eyes brimmed with tears as he slowly moved off of her body.


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