The Price of the Wish

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

The Price of the Wish is a Darker and Edgier Buffy the Vampire Slayer Peggy Sue with strong Lovecraftian elements.

Cordelia, realising she is on the Hellmouth, thinks a few seconds longer before wishing for vengeance, and comes up with A Simple Plan: go back to the day Buffy first arrived in Sunnydale with eighteen months foreknowledge. With that advantage, and her superb people skills, she could easily make Xander suffer as she had suffered while gaining herself a golden reputation into the bargain. She would be feted as the saviour of the world; Xander and Willow reduced to cringing wretches, held in utter contempt by all, even each other. It was just a passing fancy, but she gave it voice, and so sprang an age-old trap.

At first all seemed well. Admittedly, Buffy suffered nightmare visions Xander had never bothered to tell her about, and it was disappointing she had been unable to save Jesse, but those were minor niggles, mere teething troubles. When Amy lost her hand, and Amber was burned alive, Cordelia struggled to convince herself that only bad luck and carelessness were to blame, but she could not fool herself for long. Some great evil had taken advantage of her wish to plunge all the world into darkness.

Around the time she discovered what horrors lay festering under her cosy family home, a few days after several score undead demon lords descended upon Sunnydale, a few days before she saw severed heads piled high in the burning wreck of Jereseleum, Cordelia told Giles half the truth while Xander, by seeming chance, got the full story. When her mother was devoured, body and soul, despite Cordelia's best efforts to save her, she decided she had had enough. Setting aside all over concerns, she vowed to destroy the Ultimate Evil that had warped her wish at any cost. Giving Xander and Willow what they deserved would just have to wait.

After that, It Got Worse, nor has the bottom been reached yet. All indications are that the long parade of horrors Cordelia has endured to date is but the first few rain drops of the coming storm. The night grows ever darker, and there can be no hope of dawn.

However, it's not all gloom and doom. A unicorn gallops through the streets of Sunnydale, a glimpse of transcendental beauty no shadow can dim, while for those mere mortals caught in the crossfire life goes on. Even in the face of impending apocalypse, there is still time for laughter, and the joys of youth.

Tropes used in The Price of the Wish include:
  • Alien Geometries: An incident in the morgue leaves it bigger on the inside, and filled with corridors meeting at impossible angles.
  • Alternative Character Interpretation: of the Watchers. Some are just as depicted in canon, but this is shown to be just one facet of a much more complex organisation.
  • Anthropomorphic Personification: Both Death and Fate make a non-speaking appearance.
  • Badass Boast: As a bluff, Cordelia tells Darla, ""I have faced vampires before, by the score. I've fought William the Bloody, terrified Lyle Gorch and killed an assassin of the order of Taraka. I've fought demons, zombies and werewolves." This is all technically true, but the bluff fails.
  • Badass Creed
    • The watcher's oath: I will remember the fallen, the heroes and the innocent alike. To their memory I dedicate my life. I will strive to live as the heroes lived. I will fight as they fought, in the service of mankind, not for wealth or glory but to protect the innocent, that their slaughter may end, nor shall I lay down my arms while life endures. Without regard to race or creed this I will do, though it cost me my life. (Some watcher factions take this rather more seriously than others.)
    • Wolfram & Hart's mission statement: We are the canker on the rose, the worm in the apple, the slow rot in the hearts of men. From within we shall tear down all they have built, and rule over the ruins until the stars grow cold.
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: Advice Cordelia might have benefited from.
    • With the additional Irony that Cordelia was more careful than with her canon wish to far, far worse results.
  • Batman Gambit: The overarching plot, aimed at the entire human race. If Cordelia hadn't made her wish, someone else would have, perhaps days later, perhaps centuries, and the trap would still have closed upon humanity.
  • Black Speech. The Midnight Tongue. Anyone who hears this sees everything twisted to evil.
  • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: A weapon capable of smashing planets is used against Pkhrxng Fshlfn Dhlkbch, at full power, with no more effect than a slap on the hand. It's said that abomination will be back for another go within a year; by its standards, practically instantaneously.
  • Body Horror: Cordelia's hand becomes "leprous; riddled with decay, pus oozing from the many ulcers pockmarking the rotted ruin of her flesh, and in places she could see the dull white of bone," then it gets worse.
  • Can Not Tell a Lie: Dame Margo, a senior watcher, can neither lie nor be lied to, though you may need to parse her words rather finely to find the truth.
  • Cryptic Conversation:
    • The prophecies, naturally. The day of the sea-foam's daughter is obvious enough, 'When the old man first dances before the great mother' somewhat less so.
    • Everyone who tries to explain what the laughter of the bells means come over like this, since plain talk on that topic is considered insanely hazardous.
  • Doomed Moral Victor: the ethos of one watcher faction. They have no hope of ultimate victory, but putting off inevitable defeat, one day at a time, is what life does.
  • Driven to Suicide: The malign aura of the Hellmouth has this affect on many newcomers to Sunnydale, including those born there. At least four of Cordelia's classmates committed suicide before she was seven, all of them in full view of their entire class..
  • Eldritch Abomination: Several, ranging from an undead shoggoth to the Abomination Beyond the Wall.
  • Elemental Powers: Played with. Four of the Five Great Weapons, sometimes known as the treasures of Ireland, give power over the four phases of matter - solid, liquid, gas, and plasma instead of earth, water, air and fire.
  • Evil Versus Evil: Faced with the prospect of a demon necromancer laying waste his town, the mayor uses a spell powered by human sacrifice to contain it.
  • Exclusively Evil: the De la Poer family, despite being 100% human. When one of them was fostered out, she flayed her new family's dog alive, raised its corpse as a zombie, then performed unnatural acts with it - and she was only four. The older members were worse.
  • Goes Mad From the Revelation: Many instances, starting with most of the world's seers.
  • Heroic Sacrifice: Used and subverted. Dame Margo unmakes her own soul to seal a portal, a few days after a demon sorcerer has made the exact same sacrifice for a different portal.
  • Historical Domain Character: H.P. Lovecraft, with two differences. He lived a few decades longer, but he spent those extra years in an asylum, after glimpsing the true nature of the universe, which didn't stop him becoming a famed author.
  • Hope Spot: Many of the villains like to offer these, then reveal it was just a cruel trick.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. The Mayor sacrifices a baby, and subjects its soul to eternal torture, as part of a spell, while Cordelia watches helplessly.
  • Long Runner: This fic was started a decade ago, and is still being updated regularly!
  • Mind Rape: Experienced, at length, by one point of view character.
  • Omnicidal Maniac:
    • Pkhrxng Fshlfn Dhlkbch seeks to devour all things. Having a mouth large enough to swallow a blue whale whole on its palm might help with this.
    • Omega has the same ambition, on a considerably larger scale. Pkhrxng Fshlfn Dhlkbch looks at the stars and hungers, but Omega has already consumed entire multiverses.
  • Poke in the Third Eye: Now Cordelia has changed the future, seers mostly Go Mad from the Revelation. Fortunately, every single prophetic device disintegrated, reducing the casualty rate.
  • Public Domain Artifact: One of the Four Great Treasures of Ireland, and a copy of Excalibur's sheath.
  • Sarcastic Confession: Since she cannot lie, when she needs to disguise herself Dame Margo wears a badge truthfully saying she is wearing a disguise, which no one believes.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The altars to Pkhrxng Fshlfn Dhlkbch, sealed directly under Cordelia's house by the Mayor a century ago.
  • Secret Test of Character: Explained as the intended purpose of the Crucimentum, for both watcher and invigilator. If either of them fail to object, they get Kicked Upstairs, without ever learning its true purpose. Giles is not pleased to discover this.
  • Shout-Out: Several. The references to The Lord of the Rings and Doctor Who are pretty obvious, but some of the others are rather more obscure.
  • Speak of the Devil: Using the true name of the Abomination Beyond the Wall in any way is an invitation to possession.
  • Tarot Motifs: Both major and minor arcana are used. Giles explains that everyone is connected with one card or another, just as they are with the Zodiac signs, but this only really matters for those exposed to immense occult forces. Unfortunately, by that point all the main characters qualify.
  • Transformation Trauma: A mind-raped teenager is slowly transformed into a mindless demon, screaming all the way.
  • Ultimate Evil: Omega, the last word in Evil. The First lied, unsurprisingly.
    • Ironically, not actually evil, though most of its pawns are. It just believes very strongly that the universe would be a better place if it didn't exist except as part of Omega's body.
      • In other words, it's a paperclipper-type Un Friendly Artificial Intelligence. Something there's reason enough to worry about in real life, though not so much "discovering" as "making".
  • The Unpronounceable:
    • Pkhrxng Fshlfn Dhlkbch, the Eldritch Abomination worshipped by the De la Poers, called Fein Dahlk by most, for obvious reasons.
    • The true name of the Maiden: "a Name that sounded like the laughter of children playing on a golden beach, like birds singing to greet the dawn, yet sweeter than either. It was the sound of new beginnings, of hope rekindled, of an end to all despair."
  • Xanatos Gambit: Used repeatedly by the heralds of the Abomination Beyond the Wall. If any of their plots succeed in full, the world perishes, but while the heroes are stopping the obvious threat, the heralds are busily setting many other plots into motion, all of which are ultimately a red herring.
  1. unless the defeat of a disposable avatar is part of a greater plan. Sometimes, there's no sure way of knowing who really won, itself an incitement to paranoia.