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Chapter Fourteen - What Can You Tell Me

'Now, is one of you going to tell me what I want to know,' Buffy demanded, 'or are things going to start getting messy?'

'Start?' Willy moaned, eyeing the scene of devastation that had, not that long ago, been his establishment.

Buffy held a pool cue in her hands. She was holding it across one of Briares demon's throats, pinning him to the pool table.

'I don't know nothing,' the demon's second head insisted.

'Well maybe one of your friends knows,' Buffy told him. 'And maybe they'll be more willing to talk once I show them, using you as an example, what I'm going to do to them if they don't.'

'Who do you think you are anyway,' asked a demon who looked a bit like a human porcupine, 'smashing up the place like that? Maybe we ought to teach you some manners.'

'Um, guys…' Willy said as Porcupine and his companion - a short squid-faced creature with tattoos down both arms - sauntered over.

'I'm sorry, were you talking to me?' Buffy asked, standing upright. She placed one hand on her hip, while twirling the pool cue in her other hand.

'Were we talking to her?' Porcupine asked his companion, smirking. 'I'm going to enjoy beating some sense into that pretty blonde head of yours.'

'Guys, this really isn't a good idea,' Willy advised.

Squid-face grabbed Willy by the front of his shirt and lifted him off the ground.

'Did we ask for your advice?' he hissed.

'Uh, no,' Willy admitted. 'I'll be quiet now, shall I? Just don't say I didn’t warn you.'

Squid-face let him drop and Willy ducked down behind the bar, shielding his head with his hands.

'Now why don't you hold still, girly,' Porcupine drawled, 'and I promise we'll make this quick.'

Buffy fluttered her eyelids at him.

'Oh that's ever so sweet of you, you big tough man you,' she purred, 'so why don't I return the favour.'

There was a blur of movement and Squid-face fell to the floor, gurgling. The pool cue was stuck through his neck.

'What, but, how did you…' Porcupine stammered.

'Didn't anybody tell you?' Buffy asked. 'I'm the Slayer.'

'The Slayer,' Porcupine repeated. 'This is gonna hurt, isn't it.'

Buffy grinned.

'Oh yeah.'

* * *

'Well?' Giles said as Buffy stormed into the Magic Box.

'Well?' Buffy repeated. 'Is that it? Don't I at least deserve a 'how was your day, Buffy'?'

'I'm so terribly sorry,' Giles responded dryly. 'How was your day, Buffy?'

'Don't ask,' Buffy replied, slumping into a chair at the table. Tara and Willow were already seated, leafing through books Giles had selected earlier. Anya was serving customers and Giles was pacing the length of the shop.

'How was your day?' Buffy asked when he passed by their table again.

'Oh, so-so,' Giles replied. 'I've pulled out all of the books on Celtic lore in my collections, both the one here and the one at home, and Willow, Tara and I have been looking through them all day. I must say, my appreciation of Celtic mythology has increased dramatically, but…'

'But?'

'But I'm not sure that I've actually uncovered anything remotely useful.' Giles placed both palms on the table and leaned forward, sighing as he did so. 'Please tell me you've managed to come up with at least some semblance of a lead on this business.'

'Well, seems there's a clan of demons been living out at Devil's Point,' Buffy explained. 'Kinda like Tony the Tiger, but with snakes growing out of their eyes and ick, it gives me the wiggins just thinking about them.'

'Melicertian demons,' Giles said. 'Probably. Do carry on.'

'Well, anyway, as I was saying, these things had been living out at Devil's Point and doing whatever demony things they usually get up to,' Buffy continued, 'but it seems they've been forced to move inland since some other guys decided to take up residence in their nice, homely cave-system. And guess what? Seems they were evicted recently. As in since our fairy friends moved to town.'

'Is that it?' Giles said when it became clear that Buffy was going to add nothing further.

'Hey, you told me to look into anything odd that had happened since this Irishy thingies turned up,' Buffy retorted, 'and that's what I did. You could at least try to act pleased.'

'Oh, I am,' Giles blustered, 'I was just hoping for something a bit more substantial that's all.'

'Well, it's a whole lot more substantial that what you've come up with,' Buffy pointed out.

'Research takes time,' Giles replied defensively. 'It's an art and any art requires due patience and diligence and anyway, why aren't you out there looking into this lead of yours instead of being here harassing me?'

'Have you any idea how far it is to Devil's Pont?' Buffy pointed out. 'And I can hardly ask Mom if I can borrow her car.'

'Quite,' Giles agreed. 'Well, I think I'm best employed continuing my researches here so I can hardly accompany you and Anya's occupied with customers at the moment…'

'We'll go,' Willow piped up, 'won't we, Tara?'

'That's settled then,' Giles said, handing Tara the keys to his car.

'Hey, how come she gets to drive?' Buffy complained.

Giles glared at her over the top of his glasses.

'Because I would like my car back in one piece,' he explained.

Buffy pouted.

* * *

'Well I guess this is the place,' Buffy said, standing at the mouth of the cave. 'I don't suppose either of you thought to bring a light.'

'I've got a torch,' Tara offered.

'Oh don't bother with that,' Willow told her. 'Illuminatus.'

A small ball of yellow light appeared in the palm of her hand and darted forward into the cave, illuminating the entrance.

'Now isn't that much better?' Willow asked rhetorically.

Tara frowned, but said nothing.

'Looks like a snitch,' Buffy commented as they started forward, the ball of light weaving about a few feet ahead of them.

'A snitch?' Tara inquired.

'Sorry. Blame Dawn,' Buffy explained. 'She's got these books and…never mind.'

'I'm sure Dawn's okay,' Willow told her friend.

'Of course she's okay,' Buffy replied. Because I don't even want to start thinking about what I'll do if she isn't.

They crept forward. They could hear the sound of water dripping all around them.

'You don't suppose this place gets cut off at high tide, do you?' Tara asked.

'I hadn't thought of that,' Buffy mused. 'How about we just take a quick look round and get out of here before that becomes an issue.'

'Um, Buffy, I don't mean to sound pessimistic and all,' Willow began, but I think that could be the least of our problems.'

Buffy turned. There was a chittering sound echoing down the tunnel back in the direction that had come. And the sound was getting louder.

'It's probably just rats, Will,' Buffy said.

'Rats, eww.' Willow shivered. 'But, I guess, at least not life-threatening, right?'

'Not usually,' Tara said. 'Look!'

The 'snitch' had darted down the tunnel to investigate the noise and Buffy could see the dark shapes crawling along the floor towards them. Crawling along the walls and ceiling, too.

'Those are really big rats,' she pointed out unnecessarily.

'I hate to sound all wimpy and girly and stuff,' Willow said, 'but could we run now? Please?'

'Running sounds good,' Buffy agreed, turning, ready to fit action to her words.

There was a man blocking the corridor, so tall that the hood of his robe scraped the tunnel ceiling. Buffy had not even heard him approach. The robe he was wearing trailed along the ground, completely masking the form beneath, and the hood was pulled low to hide his face.

'Going somewhere?' he asked. His voice was sweet, but there was an edge to it, like honey dripping from a knife. 'But we've only just met?'

'We can get acquainted some other time,' Buffy told him. 'Right now, why don't you just get out of our way.'

'But I insist,' the robed figure said. He raised a hand and two other creatures stepped forward to flank him. Buffy recognised them as the same type of things she and Riley had thought in the High Street. Not the Tuatha, the other, uglier ones.

'Don't reckon much to your choice of company,' Buffy told him. There was a long knife tucked into her boot, but she could not think of a way to reach it surreptitiously.

'Needs must,' the hooded man replied.

'Yeah, well, if they're meant to be impressive, it's not working,' Buffy told him. 'We've got more than enough firepower to take you on, right Willow? Willow?'

The tunnel suddenly went black as Willow's 'snitch' was extinguished.

'What the hell?' Buffy said.

A large, smelly hand grabbed her so Buffy broke two of its fingers. The hand withdrew.

'I really would play nice,' the hooded man told her. 'You are substantially outnumbered, after all.'

As the man spoke, Buffy realised that she was able to see him. He seemed to be glowing. As her eyes became accustomed to the low level of light, she was able to make out more features of the cave and she turned to see what had become of Willow and Tara.

They were gone.

 

 
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