Author: Milady Dragon
Rating: PG-13, for language and violence
Summary: When Master Archivist Ianto Jones of Torchwood Castle discovers the presence of a powerful magical Artifact, Baroness Gwen Williams hires Captain Jack Harkness and his band of mercenaries to retrieve it.
Pairing(s): Jack Harkness/Ianto Jones; Gwen Williams/Rhys WIlliams
Warning: Fantasy violence
Spoilers: None really; mostly for Doctor Who S1 episodes "Bad Wolf" and "Parting of the Ways", and Torchwood S1 "Everything Changes" and S2 "Fragments". Although the stories have been warped to fit into a fantasy setting.
Author's Note: This is Torchwood in a fantasy setting. Everything that could be considered alien in the normal universe is magical here.
Disclaimer: I don't own Torchwood, if I did I'd have treated it better. It - and Doctor Who - are owned by the BBC, and created by Russell T. Davies.
About ten foot down the ladder, Ianto realized just how glad he was that he'd gone first.
Sure…Jack was immortal. That meant that any traps might kill him, but he'd come back. The problem Ianto had with that was this: if it was some sort of perpetual trap, then Jack might get stuck in it forever, and dying over and over again wasn't something he would wish on anyone. And, to be quite honest with himself, he didn't really want the captain to die once, let alone multiple times. Jack might shrug it off, but to Ianto it was obvious that being dragged back to life wasn't a pleasant experience.
Therefore, when he saw the strange, squiggly writing on the wall just as he was passing the ten-foot mark, Ianto let out a breath he hadn't even been aware that he'd been holding.
"Jack," he called up to the mercenary, "stop."
"What is it?" came the echoing question.
"I think we have a trap here. Hold up for a second and I'll try to disarm it."
Ianto was glad that Jack didn't answer; knowing the man, he would probably have offered to trip the thing just to get things moving. Maybe he should nickname him Captain Lemming…
He leaned forward, lifting the light globe. It was the same, looping writing that had been on the original scroll, but this was carved directly into the stone. Ianto was beginning to think that this was some sort of Wizard dialect, and not what he'd first believed, back at the castle. He needed his glasses…
Doing some strange contortions in order to keep himself from falling off the ladder, Ianto managed to dig the magical spectacles from his pack. He slid them on then, taking a deep breath, he blinked.
The writing swam in his vision, twisting and turning as if it didn't want to be read. Ianto had had the same problem with the scroll; it had taken him weeks to figure out what it said, and now he recognized that the language hadn't wanted to be deciphered. No…that wasn't it. Whoever came up with this particular alphabet made it for a small group of beings, and normal mortals weren't meant to know Wizard secrets.
Which meant…that even though he'd had trouble at first translating it, something within him had been opened to this language. It had just taken time for his mind to catch up with his magical senses.
Ianto shivered. It was now apparent that he'd always been on this path. But it had been traveling with Jack and his mercenaries for him to begin to regain his heritage.
He turned his attention back to the carving on the room's wall. As he focused on it, the curling strands resolved themselves into something he could read:
Only a Wizard can enter here. To be anything else, is to put yourself at peril.
"Jack, you have to go back up," Ianto ordered. "You can't come any further."
"What do you see?" the mercenary asked, with that familiar inflection Ianto had gotten used to.
"It's a warning. Only a Wizard is allowed to come into the room. Anyone else is in danger."
Jack was silent for a moment. "No way am I letting you go down there on your own, Ianto."
The archivist felt warmth spread through his chest at Jack's protectiveness, even as he felt slightly bothered by the idea that the captain didn't trust Ianto to take care of himself. "You're going to have to. There are bound to be wards and spells that will detect if a person is a Wizard or not."
"I'm sure you can deactivate it or something."
There was that warm feeling again, this time at Jack's confidence in his abilities. He stifled the sigh that was threatening to escape. "Stay up there, I'll see what I can do."
Not waiting for the immortal to reply, Ianto started back down the ladder. There was a small, gibbering voice at the back of his head that insisted he wouldn't pass muster either, that he wasn't really a Wizard and that something really bad was going to happen…
He wasn't at all relieved when his feet hit the stone floor.
Ianto lifted the globe, letting the light grow until he could see into every corner of the room. It was more like a wardrobe; it was about six paces long, and half that wide. The strong smell of leather and mustiness hit him, forcibly reminding him of the Archives and making him a little homesick. He pushed that thought back, instead trying to concentrate on what was around him.
It almost resembled some sort of jumble. A single shelf was taken up by all sorts of books and scrolls, along with various types of bric-a-brac. A small table held a metal box, banded in another form of metal and locked with what looked like a padlock but had no obvious keyhole. A rack held what looked like robes, all very ostentatious and not at all Ianto's style.
Ianto could feel the intense itching at the back of his skull, recognizing the magic wanting to escape. He let it, and as the power obscured his own normal vision it was so much easier to see.
Gods, even he was emphasizing that word now…
Even as that crossed his mind, he dismissed it, caught up in what he was being shown.
Almost everything in the room had some sort of magic about it.
Ianto was drawn to the shelves, running his fingers across the books; the magical glasses were automatically translating everything he saw, and he mentally catalogued the titles away for future consideration. Most seemed to be basic science and magical texts; there were a few though, that appeared to be some sort of fiction. There was one, though, that didn't have anything written on the spine; that one tingled even before Ianto touched it, and the itching was so strong it seemed about to drive him mad.
Jack's voice brought him back from his perusal of the shelves. He turned back toward the ladder; the captain was staring down at him, looking concerned.
He shook himself. "Just a moment."
It was with regret that Ianto went back to the ladder, looking for some sort of sign as to what sort of traps there were in the room. The magic kept calling to him, and it was difficult not to answer that call. But he also knew that, if he didn't get his mind back on task, then Jack would have come down into the room, no matter the warning. And the last thing Ianto wanted was for the mercenary to be in danger.
The trap was almost too simple to find. It was two more enchanted paving stones, just under the ladder. Ianto knelt before them, running his already charged fingertips over the blocks, sensing out what they were. His eyes widened in horror.
"What is it?"
He looked up at Jack, swallowing hard. "It…it's a Disintegration spell. Whoever steps on two of these stones...ceases to exist."
"Gods," Jack breathed. "I'm not even sure I'd come back from that…can you dispel it somehow?"
Ianto put his hands on one of the stones, probing carefully. He could sense the Disintegration spell easily; it made him almost physically sick, and he felt he could pick it apart, given enough power. He was fascinated by the Recognition magic, wanting to know just how the magic could tell if one was a Wizard or not. As far as he could tell, it had something to do with blood and family, but beyond that he couldn't see. It would be a puzzle for another time. Right now, he had to figure out how to get Jack past this trap and into the room.
"I hate to hurry you," the captain murmured, "but it's getting a bit uncomfortable hanging from this ladder."
Ianto resisted rolling his eyes at the comment, instead focusing on the stone under his hands. Even though the spell was terrible, it was beautiful to see: the patterns of the magic woven into the block itself, a deep blackness that twisted around the very essence of the stone itself. Ianto knew the theories of Matter, and with this newly improved vision he could see that those theories were correct, for the most part. It made him mourn the loss of knowledge that the dying out of the Wizards had caused.
He raised a hand from the stone, using his fingers to pick apart the threads of the spell. It was as if he were back in his father's shop, helping the elder Jones by picking out seams from clothes the Master Tailor would alter. He found himself falling back into the power of the tower itself; once he'd figured out how to tap into that, the work was somewhat easier. But it was still leaving him with a headache resting just behind his eyes.
Once one stone was done, he scooted over to the second one. As he was laying hands on it, he spoke, "You can come down, but stay on the stone I just cleansed. I wouldn't want you to find out if you resurrect from disintegration."
"Like I said," Jack answered, doing as Ianto bid, "I don't think even the Deathless curse would keep me from dying from that sort of thing."
Ianto felt a hand on his shoulder; he was so open to the magic that he could feel the tingling that the Deep Ways that kept Jack Deathless even through his tunic. He glanced up at the captain, and once again saw the golden glow about him, looping strands erupting from his body to fall back into the main mass of the magic.
"What do you see," Jack asked softly, "when you look at me?"
"I see…" the archivist cleared his throat, "I see a glowing, ethereal being that doesn't deserve to be trapped, world-bound. I see an angel."
He turned back to what he was doing, blinking away the spots that looking at Jack with his sight caused. He began plucking at the strands of the black magic, stifling a sudden shudder at how wrong it felt to his hands. The memory of what the scroll had said about the Wizard who'd wanted to find some way to destroy Jack came back to him; that he'd thought the Deathless was an abomination. But the Wizard had been mistaken, because Jack was anything but that. Ianto's skin thrummed with Jack's Deathlessness, it breathed against him like the wind. It was the Deep Magic, a power that he instinctively knew was as wild and terrible and breath-taking as a tempest at sea. A force of nature that no one had the right to control.
But Ianto could. He could feel it within himself as well, a match to the power that inhabited Jack. It was then, as he knelt and unpicked a magic so foul it made him ill, that the archivist finally concluded that he and Jack had always been meant to meet. That magic drew like to like, that the very thing that had kept the captain alive so long after when he should have passed beyond was exactly what now possessed himself. It had taken feeling such unnaturalness to know just how natural both of them were.
He wanted to tell Jack. He was almost desperate to, but in a heartbeat he knew he didn't have the right. Ianto was Torchwood, and always would be. Jack was a free spirit, traveling the world and never settling down in one place for too long. What Ianto was feeling could never be explained.
And so, he kept silent, simply reveling in the feeling of Jack's hand on his shoulder, as he destroyed the black Wizard's spell.
It didn't take too long. When he was done, he stood, blinking back his magical vision. He could see Jack's face properly now, and the expression on it tugged his heart.
"You really see that?" he asked.
"Yes, Jack…I do." Ianto retrieved the light globe and his pack from the floor where he'd left them. He wanted to avoid meeting the mercenary's gaze, so he took another look around the room. "This place is a treasure trove of magic," he changed the subject. "Ideally, we should take everything with us, but there's no way we'll get it all out of here."
"Let's…just concentrate on the Glove and the Dagger for now." Jack seemed to accept the change of subject, taking his own look around.
"I think it's in the metal casket. That makes the most sense, since they would be the most powerful Artifacts present."
The immortal examined the lock intently. "You have a way into it?"
"I'll have to work on it," Ianto admitted. "I've never tried to open a padlock that didn't have a keyhole."
"I'm sure you can do it."
There was that confidence again. Ianto wanted to bask in it, but couldn't take the time. He passed the globe to Jack, directing him to hold it so he could see what he was doing properly, then called the magic back to him once more.
It proved a little more difficult than he'd thought; his head was beginning to ache from using his power so much, and it distracted him a bit. But he did manage to discover a way to manipulate the strange lock. It popped open with an audible click, and even as Ianto was pushing the magic away he was removing the lock and pushing the box's lid up.
There, nestled within a bed of black fabric, was what they'd come all this way to find.
The Gauntlet of Resurrection and the Dagger of Darkness.