England's green and pleasant land...
places visited in this story are real, but I have taken some... liberties with
the details. Correct info will be listed at the end of the story. The summary
alludes to the last line of William Blake's poem, Jerusalem.
to Jo and Becks, who supported and
soothed all the way through this. Thanks guys - I couldn't have done it without
after you died... what happened then?"
The vampire settled back in his chair, and added; "I don't remember
anything else until I saw Buffy in Wes' apartment."
sighed, and seeing his disappointment, Angel added, "I'm sorry,
that's fine." Rupert Giles hurried to add. "Thank you for your... concise
account of the events leading up to that point. Much of your story corresponds
with the journal that," his eyes flicked to Angel's face, "Connor
wrote for us."
flinched, ever so slightly, at the mention of his son's name. "If I
remember anything else..."
yes, that would be most helpful." Giles was already clearing away the
paperwork he'd used for Angel's account, eager to call an end to his interview
with the vampire.
Angel began, suddenly feeling sorry for the man. "About bringing me back
snapped up. "Let's get one thing straight," he said tersely. "I
did this for Buffy, not for you. If it had been up to me..." he let his
words trail away, and Angel nodded.
understand," he replied softly, watching his companion rise to his feet.
"It won't be long and I'll be out of your hair," he promised.
Buffy we would get you well again," Giles said evenly. "Until you've
got your strength back, you'll stay here." He said no more, but the
message was quite clear to Angel. I'll put up with you for her sake. After
that, I don't care.
away and crossed to the door; the hair on the back of his neck prickled at
turning his back on the vampire, but he knew he could show no weakness to him.
The daylight was refreshing, and safe, and as he descended the wooden steps, he
watched Buffy shepherding about eight or nine girls out into the courtyard for
their afternoon workout.
skirting round the girls, he made his way to the side door of the building and
went inside. Down the hall he saw two more potentials - slayers - he reminded
himself, chattering in the kitchen; both waved when they saw him, and he
exchanged pleasantries with the girls for a few minutes, and also with Lucy who
emerged out of the downstairs loo and smiled shyly at him as he passed by.
wafted in through the open window of his study, and he sighed with relief as he
entered his office sanctuary and away from all the young girls that now habited
his home. He wasn't entirely sure what he was going to do with all of them -
the prospect of them living indefinitely with him was terrifying - but he had
been looking into the possibility of finding them inexpensive accommodation in
the nearby village of Westbury, perhaps rooming with friends of his. Some of
the older girls were showing signs of wanting their independence, but most of
them were too young to be able to fend on their own. What had once been his
spacious and tranquil country residence now seemed to be bursting at the seams
with the addition of 18 young and boisterous girls. Adding Buffy and the
vampire to the mix just made things worse, but he couldn't deny that having his
slayer back was something that he greatly appreciated.
black leather chair around, he was met by the glaring green eyes of Aristotle.
Shooing the cat had no effect, and only when he went to pick him up, the ginger
tom jumped down on his own accord and leisurely strolled off in search of
somewhere else to sleep. The moody creature had just turned up on his doorstep
one day and refused to move on; but since the arrival of 18 girls on the scene,
he had spent more time hiding in quieter places - such as Giles's study.
himself in his swivel chair and picked up his stack of mail. The arrival of the
postman's red van had become the highlight of the day for many of the girls as
they waited for news of home, or the opportunity to flirt with a new member of
the male species. His own post had increased noticeably within the last year or
so, since his return to England with the girls in his care.
He sorted out
the brown envelopes that always seemed to contain demands for money, and he
wondered what had happened to the courteous requests of yesteryear. Today it
looked like rates and the water bill - both high because of the size of the
house. His other post consisted of a request from Wessex University asking him
to give a speech on Greek myths and legends, a photograph from the local
archaeological Society asking if he could identify a strange object recently
unearthed from a Roman excavation; Two letters, one to be forwarded to the
local Coven - given that the address wasn't exactly in the phone book - and he
put that to one side to give to Ella when he saw her tomorrow evening. The other
was a reminder to renew his membership of Phenomena - a great source of rare
and unusual research material that was often impossible to find by any other
The ringing of
the telephone on his desk distracted his thoughts, and he picked up the receiver.
Yes, this is Rupert Giles..."
with growing interest as the caller explained how a friend had given him Giles'
number, because he had a reputation 'for dealing with strange things'.
Giles replied, feeling pleased by his apparent notoriety, and asked curiously,
"How may I help you?"
Keeper of the Chalice Well." The other man replied with flair. "At
Glastonbury." He added, when there was no immediate response.
know it," Giles responded. "I've been there - it really is a
you," came the reply. "Normally I'd agree with you. But at the moment
the well is... nasty. There's all this green stuff bubbling out of it and..."
"Perhaps a plumber might be a better..."
things in it."
The Keeper's voice dropped, apparently in case somebody was eavesdropping on
their conversation. "Long, slimy things." He paused, and then
added, "It's not good for business, I can tell you. The Chalice Well is a
popular tourist attraction, but we've had to put people off because they're
scared of what's happening. That's not a reputation that we want."
so." Giles conferred, sliding a pen and paper closer to him. "Why
don't you give me details of what's happening, and I'll see if I can be of
service to you?"
new slayers into groups for their martial arts assignments, Buffy tried to
ignore the general animosity her presence seemed to produce in some of the girls.
To some, she was just another slayer; no better than them, but for some reason
treated with more respect, and they resented that. Some held her in awe, as the
Slayer - the one who had single-handedly chased away every big bad that had
ever dared to cross her path. There was much speculation on what was her
relationship with Giles, and with the vampire that lived over the garage. And
there was a great deal of speculation on why Giles would bother to save a
vampire when it was their purpose in life to destroy them.
suspected that a lot of the dissention stemmed from the fact that her arrival
had 'messed things up," as she had heard Laura exclaim loudly to the other
slayers - making sure it had been overheard by the interloper. She had to admit
that her arrival with Angel had indeed created chaos among the group.
had been the first casualty: the house was large, 6 bedrooms, and Giles of
course had the Master suite. 18 Girls spread among the remaining 5 rooms was
cramped, but not unbearably so, and the flat over the garage was especially
decided that the flat was the ideal place for Angel; very little direct
sunlight, self-contained with its own kitchen and bathroom, and most importantly,
the furthest point from the house that he could find.
the smallest bedroom to Buffy, cramping the girls still further, and aware of
their hostility to her, Buffy suggested she made a temporary bed up in Angel's
flat so that she could look after him.
do no such thing," Giles had replied, horrified. "I forbid
inwardly at his bad choice of words. He had become used to his slayers actually
listening to him of late, and he had forgotten that Buffy tended to have her
you intend to stop me?" She had asked sweetly, and Giles recognised that
appealing to your sense of propriety," he delicately replied.
you think is going to happen?" Buffy exclaimed in exasperation.
"We're not together any more. Angel has been through a traumatic
experience, and I just want to help him."
understand that," he replied, his tone softer. "But think about this,
Buffy. We have a lot of impressionable girls here; it simply won't do for a
slayer to sleep in the same room as a vampire. It might make them think that
vampires are normal people and therefore harmless."
Buffy took a deep breath to calm herself, and added helplessly, "He needs
Giles took in
her bleak expression, and with those four words of hers, he knew he'd lost the
discussion. If he was to keep any kind of control over the situation, he had to
acknowledge how she felt.
" he allowed. "I appreciate your need to be with him, Buffy. All I
ask is that you show some... decorum for the sake of the girls."
she agreed reluctantly. "I look after Angel, but I sleep in my room. Will
that suit you?"
Buffy gave a
tight smile at the memory. She was certain that he knew she had actually spent
most of the night in Angel's room on several occasions, but had returned to the
house before any of the girls were up; they hadn't yet got used to the unsocial
hours that a slayer had to keep.
The hairs on
her arms were prickling, and she had the distinct impression of being watched.
She glanced up to the window of Angel's flat. She couldn't see him, but she
knew that he was there, lurking back away from the light and watching the girls
exercising. Or maybe he was watching her, her errant thoughts suggested,
and she unconsciously adjusted her stance to look more professional.
was whisked back to the present by a loud protest from one of the girls
declaring angrily, "You did that on purpose!"
Buffy sighed. Vi
and Sarah were facing off to each other, both posturing and baring their teeth.
The petite French girl - was her name
Chantal or Sherry or something like that? - had insinuated herself in
between them, trying to keep them apart, but her diminutive form was proving
less than a match for the older girls.
out," Buffy said sharply; all three girls jumped at the command, but
nobody moved and Buffy strode over to stop the altercation before it developed
into a free-for-all.
The problem at
the Well sounded pretty straightforward to Giles, and he told the Keeper that
he believed that he would be able to help restore the equilibrium with a simple
spell. After the phone conversation, he carefully looked up the ingredients of
the spell that he wanted, and began gathering ingredients together from the
well-stocked pantry in the kitchen. The book and supplies went into his bag,
but before he could load things in the car, the telephone rang again.
Coming in from
the courtyard, Buffy found Giles coming out of his study. He had his bag under
his arm, and she asked, "Going out?"
something to deal with," he confirmed. "Buffy, I was just about to
come looking for you."
you," she responded. "Here I am."
so," he replied absently, and he had that look about him that
instantly told her he was concerned.
just had a call from a friend of mine in Wales, asking for a bit of help,
pretty urgently. But I've got this prior appointment at Glastonbury that needs
dealing with first." He turned to
go back into the study, and Buffy followed him. "I need somebody I can
trust to deal with the other problem, and I want you to go to Wales and help
ever heard of the Holy Grail?" Giles replied unexpectedly.
"Sure," she shrugged, wondering where this was going. "I saw
Giles responded, not entirely certain if she was joking or not. "According
to legend, the Holy Grail is believed to be a cup used at the Last Supper by
Jesus, and brought into this country by Joseph of Arimethea. The whereabouts of
the cup now is in dispute, but some people believe it to be in safe keeping in
Wales - at a place called Nanteos."
is relevant because...?"
Grail has disappeared." Giles said dramatically. He picked up a book from
the desk and showed Buffy a picture of a shabby but ordinary-looking wooden
bowl-shaped cup, and added, "I've just had a call from the current
resident of Nanteos, Alexander Powell. His family have been guardians of the
cup for Centuries. The disappearance of the cup is obviously of great concern,
and not really something that the police could deal with properly. The Powell
Estate is also said to be haunted - though I've never seen anything myself -
and the ghosts are being... a nuisance."
thought you said nobody knew where it was?"
a wooden cup at Nanteos; I've seen it, in fact. But as to whether it really
is the Grail... well, there's no way to know for sure."
sure she wanted to be a ghost hunter, or a cup seeker, but she was fed up, and
anything was better than with being stuck in the house with a bunch of
not?" she agreed. "I'll take Angel. It'll be good for him to get
hesitated. He didn't like the idea much, but leaving him here with the girls
was even less appealing. He nodded curtly. "I told Alexander that I would
be sending somebody up there to help out. I'd like to go myself, but The
Chalice Well is very public and can't be left until tomorrow."
himself with the other preparations that he needed, and Buffy went to tell
Angel about the trip and grab a bag for herself, in case the job took longer
than one night to take care of.
It was almost
dusk by the time everything was ready, and Giles had already left for the
Chalice Well. Martha packed up a bag with sandwiches for the journey, and Buffy
smiled because it was nice to be fussed over. She liked the older woman; Martha
and John Fletcher were Giles's housekeeper and handyman respectively, but more
like friends than servants. Giles had told her that he had met the couple years
ago, having had saved them from a vampire attack, and they had remained in touch
ever since. The couple heard about an advertisement of his for home help, and
Giles liked the idea of employing people he already knew and could trust, and
that also had first hand knowledge of the kind of life that he led.
for the first wisp of darkness to cross the courtyard and allow Angel to emerge
from his flat over the garage. It was the first trip he'd made since coming to
England, and in fact he had hardly left the flat at all unless he was certain
that the new slayers were not around.
How Angel had
managed to squeeze his large frame into Buffy's mini was impressive but no real
surprise to her, since she knew how adept vampires were at folding themselves
into impossible places. What was unsettling to her was how big he seemed
squashed in next to her. Somehow, she hadn't really noticed his size in the
last ten days, since he had been rescued from LA. Maybe it was because he had
seemed so lost, so frail in his demeanour that she couldn't help be reminded of
how he had been when he returned from hell; had he been to hell again? He'd
told Giles he didn't remember where he had been, that he had in fact no memory
of it at all. She wasn't sure that she believed that, she had said exactly the
same things herself when she returned - but she could understand why he
wouldn't want to talk about it.
completely aware of her surreptitious scrutiny, but for now he chose to ignore
it. He wasn't really looking forward to the journey to Wales, but it was a
relief for him to get away from the house. The proximity of Giles and all the
Slayers was not ideal for a relaxing experience, and he had done his best to
keep out of everyone's way. Unfortunately, the girls themselves had shown a
great deal of interest in him, though he supposed that was to be
expected since he was the first vampire that some of them had ever seen. Buffy
had laughed when he mentioned that, teasing him that he must be getting old if
he'd forgotten what teenage girls could be like, but it was a discussion he
didn't want to have and so changed the subject. In truth, he didn't want to
discuss anything, really. He answered questions as best he could, but he
couldn't get the recent events in LA out of his head, and just couldn't bring
himself to talk about them.
for pretty much the entire journey to Wales, and Angel thought that he should
have found it irritating, but in fact it was nice to hear her cheerful voice;
and since she didn't seem to expect him to answer her every time, he settled
back into the cramped chair and did his best to enjoy the trip.
you think of the slayers?" Buffy asked, and it was a moment before he
realised he was meant to say something.
seem capable," he replied carefully. Something in his tone made her glance
over to him.
bother you?" she asked curiously. When Angel looked enquiringly at her,
she added, "You know - with all those slayers close by?"
he replied quietly. "They're just girls, Buffy. They don't have the
experience yet to be a danger to me, and even in my weakened state - I can look
out for myself."
caught. That was the longest speech she had heard from him in the last week,
and she didn't want him to lapse back into silence.
said that they're having problems, but he can't find out what causing it."
says that they seem to attract the forces of darkness, so he doesn't like them
going out much by themselves. He's trying to find out why."
works like a hellmouth," Angel suggested. "Demons are drawn to the
she agreed sceptically, before letting her thoughts slide. There were a lot of
strange things going on lately: just after she had come to England, four of the
girls had fled their bedroom in terror, before Giles realised that the
disturbance was caused by a poltergeist and set out to purge it from the house.
There had been other, less dramatic instances too, and Buffy allowed her
thoughts to ponder on them during the remainder of the journey to Wales.
out to be a large square Georgian building nestled in the beautiful Welsh
countryside. Buffy wished that she could have seen the location in daylight,
but travelling with Angel obviously made that impossible.
the grey building, they waited patiently in the Drawing Room for the arrival of
a member of the Powell family to arrive.
really think it's haunted?" Buffy asked.
Angel replied, distractedly. His skin practically itched with the undiluted
power buzzing around the place. "Do you sense anything?"
" she replied. "Something's here, Angel."
in agreement, and the door opened to admit a smart young man of around thirty.
He shook hands with them and introduced himself as Alexander Powell, before
welcoming them to his home.
said that you've had your cup stolen, Mr. Powell?" Buffy asked, wincing at
her own brusque tone.
Alexander corrected with a smile, apparently not in the least put out by her
demoting of his holy relic. "I don't go much on formality. Come, I'll show
you where we kept it."
Angel followed Alexander Powell along a striking wood-panelled hallway, and up
a flight of stairs. Buffy couldn't help feeling a little overwhelmed by the
beautiful furnishings, and she suddenly felt very dowdy in her jeans and
sweater. She cast a sideways glance at Angel, and was a little disgruntled
because he seemed not in the least perturbed by his surroundings.
reached the end of the corridor and stopped outside the door. Or would have, if
the door had actually been on its hinges. Instead, they had to step over a mass
of broken and splintered wood, and it was clear that whatever had burst through
the door must have had considerable force behind it. An empty glass case stood
at the far side of the room, fenced off with a rope barrier.
Angel asked, and Alexander nodded.
guarded, too. But not now," he shrugged. "There didn't seem much
point in keeping either with the Grail gone."
happened?" Buffy asked.
because the Grail is so precious, we keep at least two guards in here, and
there are more outside. The case is electrified, and of course, the whole house
Buffy tried to
hide an inappropriate snigger at the thought of an alarmed house, and Angel
gave her a brief disapproving glance at her stifling of mirth. The youngest
male of the Powell household carried on untroubled.
generally accepted that the Grail is in a bank, but in fact, we occasionally
keep it here - always on high security.
It is not on public display, and we bring it in for select access
toward the door. "Whatever caused that was big. Anybody see what it
frowned at his use of it but said, "No. Everybody who came into
contact with the... intruder is now in hospital. All are unconscious... I thought
maybe they'd used some kind of nerve gas?"
While he recounted
his tale, both Buffy and Angel patrolled the room, seeking clues or
inspiration. Buffy knelt by some reddish brown stains and caught Angel's eye. Blood?
He shook his
head imperceptibly, and Buffy asked Alexander, "Do you know what this
idea," came the reply. "I assume it's blood - it appeared this
afternoon. Somebody must have hurt
themselves. I told my staff not to touch or clean anything, as Rupert asked me
Giles," Buffy said distractedly. "Always with the details."
opened his mouth to reply to her comment, when a woman's scream unexpectedly
resounded through the house. Without a
word, they all turned toward the noise and hurried downstairs in search of the
kitchen, they found a terrified girl huddled against the wall, and a
higgledy-piggledy pile of furniture heaped in front of her. The room was empty
apart from the trembling girl, and Alexander picked his way round the mess to
hug the girl.
fiancé, Lorraine," he explained to his guests. "What happened this
down to get some water." Lorraine was obviously upset, and her words all
tumbled out in a rush. "Turned round and there it all was." The girl
was cradling a bleeding arm against her stomach, and she grumbled unsteadily, "This is freaky."
examined her damaged arm with a frown. "This could do with stitches,"
he muttered. "Can you hang on for little while so that I can show our
could reply, Buffy interjected gently, "It's all right, Alexander. You
take... Lorraine... to the hospital. Angel and I can find our own way around."
sure?" Their host asked, looking visibly relieved. "Thank you."
He hesitated, and then said, "Just one thing. Rupert told you the house is
nodded, he heaved a sigh of relief. That would make it easier. "Normally,
as long as we follow the rules, we don't have any trouble from them. But in the
last twenty-four hours all kinds of odd things are happening."
things?" Buffy queried.
opening by themselves, spirits popping up, things going missing... all that kind
the Grail disappears," Angel mused.
think it's connected?"
you mean by 'follow the rules?' " Buffy wanted to know.
you know... there are rooms which they haunt, so we tend to avoid them." He
worriedly looked again at his girlfriends' arm. "We should put something
on that. I think there's some bandages in here, but... I don't know where."
don't..." Buffy started, and Alexander responded with a sheepish look.
"I don't often come in here," he explained.
searching, Buffy found them in drawer in the dresser. Alexander looked so puzzled at the contents of the first aid kit
that Buffy sighed and bandaged it up herself. "Had plenty of
practice," she commented.
surreptitiously removed himself from the group, on the pretext of putting the
furniture back on the floor, and Buffy tried not to notice how much his large
hands were shaking as he moved around the room.
When the arm
was taken care of, Alexander left for the hospital, apologising again for
having to abandon them. He had no qualms about leaving strangers in his house;
Rupert would not have sent somebody to help him that he didn't trust.
Buffy asked, and Angel raised his eyebrows questioningly. She had been about to
ask if he was all right, or hungry, but decided he probably wouldn't admit it
anyway, so she changed track. "What now?"
idea," he replied, and Buffy was relieved to notice that he had stopped
shaking. "But I'm fairly certain that those stains upstairs are demon in
whatever broke the door was huge." Buffy added. "Well then, we'd
better get on with it, hadn't we?"
Left to their
own devices, Buffy and Angel carefully explored the house, and it's 16
bedrooms, Drawing Room, and a variety of other rooms including a library and
billiard room. The huge Dining Room must have been over 40 feet, but the most
impressive was the beautiful music room, with its lavish décor and mirrored
really live like this?" Buffy murmured in awe, and her wide-eyed
expression reminded Angel very much of the young girl that he had fallen in
love with back in Sunnydale.
isn't it?" He asked gently, watching her cross over toward the ornate
Italian fireplace, and spin slowly round to take in all the details.
she whispered back, flashing him such a radiant smile that he had to rapidly
swallow the lump that rose unbidden in his throat. He forced himself to focus
instead on the decorative ceiling that portrayed a variety of musical
instruments entwined, Angel assumed, with the four seasons.
The house must
have been largely unchanged in recent years, and had many of its original
features. While Buffy found the house overwhelming, to Angel it was like being
in a time warp; he had seen so many houses just like this one after he was
sired, that he found the whole experience disconcerting.
exploration of the house, they found no evidence of the Grail or any demons
that might have stolen it. But they did find plenty of ghosts, wandering up and
down the hallways and entering rooms without opening the doors first. Most of
the spirits seemed oblivious to them, carrying on as if they weren't there. But
some were very obviously aware of their presence, and it was beginning to freak
Buffy a little, the way that some kept looking, hollow eyes that bored right
through her, and she was beginning to wish that she had brought a weapon of
But none tried
to hurt or interfere with them, and after a while it stopped being a surprise
when a Victorian child skipped straight through the wall or a man in tights
ambled along the hallway.
So it was
unexpected when, without any warning, something seemed to grab hold of Angel
and throw him bodily to one side of the corridor. Buffy expected him to fight
off his invisible assailant, but she had forgotten how weak he still was, and,
stunned by his impact with the wall, his response was sluggish.
seconds' thought, she had jumped to his aid, frantically scrabbling at it
to get the danger away from him. Her fingers met resistance, even though she
could see nothing, and she began pummelling at it fiercely until the resistance
vanished and she slithered in front of him, determined to stop anything else
from replacing it.
happened, and she placed a hand on his shoulder. "Angel?"
he apologised, "Caught me off guard."
wasn't listening, and Angel wondered what had caught her attention. He had been
thrown next to a door leading into room that they hadn't yet been in. The door
was locked, but the key, still in the lock, began to turn all by itself.
and curiouser," Buffy commented.
me," Angel mused. "That something wants us in there."
Buffy shrugged, hand on the doorknob. "Let's see what's so important,
The walk along
the path to the well was a pleasant experience. It wasn't yet dark, and Giles
appreciated the glorious colour of the herbaceous borders. Arriving at the rose
covered trellis that led up to the Well itself, he paused to admire the flowers
before continuing to his destination.
The lid stood
open, and it was here that the pleasantness ended; Giles wrinkled his nose in
distaste. The stench from the opening was appalling, and the glutinous green
gunge that bubbled out of it was equally disgusting. Pulling a white
handkerchief from his pocket and wrapping it over his nose, he leant over the
well to get a better view. The Guardian had been correct, because the well was
clearly infested with sinuous shapes, and he stood up, satisfied. It was as he
had expected - the well had fallen victim to supernatural manifestations, but
it was something he could easily clear up.
for the spell, and the ancient incantations took several hours, and by the time
Giles had finished his recitations it was dark. He'd had to rely on artificial
light to carry on, and his voice felt dry and a hoarse at the end of it.
Leaning over the well again, he frowned at what he saw. The nasty viscous fluid
was gone, as were the manifestations and the smell. But it was too soon;
he still had to sprinkle a binding powder over it, and that should have
finalised the spell. This was curious. He finished the task anyway, in order to
prevent a recurrence of the trouble, and then began the process of clearing
away his equipment.
the situation all the way back home, wondering what had happened. Perhaps he
had included an incorrect ingredient to the mix? He was sure it was nothing to
worry about, but it was an odd happening, and he couldn't wait to get back to
his study and dig out his books.
commotion that greeted him on his arrival back, told him he wasn't going to get
the opportunity for research any time soon, and he sighed in disappointment.
Several girls pounced on him as he crossed the courtyard and all began talking
to him at once.
sparring and then..."
"One at a
time, please," he said brusquely, overwhelmed by their exuberance, but
deliberately keeping his voice level. "What have you been up to?"
The excited girls
fell silent to allow one of the older girls to tell the tale. "Sarah got
hurt while we were training," Laura informed him. "Knocked herself
about to ask where the injured girl was now, but it was clear from the way her
contemporaries were shepherding him through the kitchen and into the Family
Room, that the girl was in there.
Only two girls
were in the room with Sarah, the others having been carefully ushered out by the
ever-efficient Martha. His housekeeper was bending over the shaken, but now
conscious slayer. All looked up at him expectantly when he entered the room,
and he squared his shoulders and tried to look dignified. A Watchers work was
that Buffy's hand touched the doorknob, a tingle rushed up her arm and made her
yelp, and she snatched her hand back.
she muttered apologetically to Angel. "Wasn't ready for that."
She paused for
a moment to prepare herself before firmly grasping the handle again. It wasn't
a painful experience as such, just unexpected; this time she was ready for the
raw power that infused her body, and she gritted her teeth and determinedly
pushed the door open.
warily into the room, Buffy and Angel looked around at the empty bedroom. The
room held the highest concentration of energy that they had found anywhere in
the house, making them both certain that there was something significant about
the room eagerly, and was a little disappointed that the Grail wasn't just there,
sitting in plain sight and waiting to be rescued. So what was it about this
room? Why was the energy so strong in here? Why had they been shepherded in?
looked normal. Elegant drapes and period furnishings surrounded them, and Buffy
couldn't help feeling that it was something of an anti-climax. She'd half been
expecting to find the room teeming with spirits or monsters and now she felt
noticed that her partner appeared to be studying the room before making his way
slowly toward the fireplace.
she asked with concern, before realising what he was doing. His face held that
particular look of concentration that he had when following a scent, and Buffy
fell silent. Could he smell something?
the fireplace and paused. Then he began running his fingers round the brickwork
before digging in his fingers and he pulled. The front of the fireplace
slid out, ancient hinges grating in protest, and revealing a small recess
hole," Angel declared with a tiny triumphant smile.
she grinned, coming to stand beside him. "How'd you know it was
remembered the demon's scent from the Grail room, and it's very strong in here -
especially by the fireplace. I know a lot of these old houses have secret
hideaways in them, and it was just a case of finding it."
a pretty face, are you?" Buffy declared with pride. But her words didn't
have the desired effect, and his face clouded over. "Angel..." she
began, but he waved his hand to stop her.
he snapped, stepping into the small space and Buffy knew full well that he
wouldn't want to discuss it later.
priest-hole?" she inquired instead, watching him feel round the loose
brickwork, and wasn't very surprised when a section of the wall pulled out,
leaving just enough room for a person to squirm through.
"It was a
way of hiding the monks during the Reformation," Angel told her, wriggling
into the darkness. "Behind fireplaces and in the attic were common
places...but having an extra exit as well is unusual."
in behind him, half-expecting to find themselves cramped into another tiny
space. But the area opened out into a dusty staircase leading downwards. She
could see reasonably clearly because a light burned from down below, and that
meant that somebody had been here recently.
Angel said, distracting her from her musings. "This part is earlier than
Georgian; they must have built the current house round this earlier one."
toward the staircase and Buffy twisted in front of him to descend first. What's
with the leading bit? She wondered, feeling niggled. When did he start
doing that? It's my job to go first...
into step easily behind her, and they descended into the gloom of the
staircase. At the bottom, the stairs opened out into a semi-circular chamber
shrouded in shadows.
Just as they
stepped into the chamber, a robed figure appeared, wispy and insubstantial, and
both of them stood absolutely still, instinctively certain that if they moved
at all, the figure would be gone.
you?" Angel asked.
is Brother Simeon," the wisp replied sadly. "I am Keeper of the
might I say that you made a bad job of it?" Buffy retorted, aiming her
irritation at the ghostly monk.
looked uncomfortable, and said, "For 500 hundred years I have been
entrusted with it," he said sadly. "I have failed."
He looked so
forlorn that Buffy instantly felt sorry for him. "500 years?" she
exclaimed. "That's a pretty good record to keep it safe. But... I don't
understand why you're here."
sighed, and the atmosphere seemed to ripple around them. Angel said, "The
power in the air is yours, isn't it?"
The monk replied, and he sounded very tired. "Most of the spirits that you
encountered have been stimulated by the energy I have created. But it takes a
lot of... concentration to maintain this form. I do not have long. When the Grail
arrived at our Abbey, it was put into my care. It soon became clear that our
charge was in danger, and I brought it
here, to the house that originally stood here, for safe keeping. I had to make...
certain deals to extend my life span, but when the Grail passed into the safety
of the Powell family, I could rest until such time that I would be needed
be chosen, doesn't it?" Buffy said sympathetically.
faded, before becoming stronger and reappearing again.
we help you?" Angel asked.
The monk gave
him a very long look before replying, "That is an interesting question
from one such as you, vampire." He paused and Angel looked a little
Buffy said impatiently. "No offence, but you aren't exactly solid, and my
bet is that if you could get it back by yourself you would have. We can help
speak the truth," Brother Simeon responded. "The demon intends to
sell the Grail on the Black market; I have managed to detain it within these
walls, but I cannot hold him for much longer. I would be grateful for your
assistance." He glanced at Angel, and added apologetically, "Both of
what we're here for," Buffy grinned at him, and, his message given, the
monk faded away. Angel's hand brushed against her shoulder, and she turned to
see what he wanted to show her.
At the far
side of the chamber stood a wooden table, and on that, a small object lay at
rest. It looked like a sliver of wood, and Buffy started toward it with
excitement. The Grail!
But in here,
in this strange place, her instincts were on overdrive, and she was not
surprised when something moved out of the heavy shadows before she had taken no
more than five steps toward it.
found our demon," she said, stopping abruptly. The demon emerged further
into the light and Buffy frowned, because she had been expecting something much
bigger. The demon was only about a foot taller than she was, with scaly skin
the colour of the stains on the upstairs carpet. The face, what she had the
opportunity to see, looked pinched tight, with stiff bristles sprouting from
the sides of its face.
lunged straight at her, and Buffy instinctively retaliated with a kick to its
midriff. The demon stumbled back, making an odd hiccupping sound.
up to stand beside her, noticed a swelling appear at the sides of the
creatures' neck, and just as Buffy rushed forward, the swelling doubled in
size, and he had a sudden flashback to the blasted door upstairs, and had a
pretty good idea what was going to happen.
he shouted in warning, but although she spun away instantly, alerted by his
shout, she was unable to completely avoid the power unleashed on her by the
exploding protrusions in the creature's neck. The force gathered her up, and hurled
her unceremoniously at the wall, where she bounced off it and landed heavily on
darted toward the Grail, and Angel delved into the speed of his own demon, in
an attempt to reach it first. He wasn't quite close enough; the demon snatched
it from the table, and raised his hand to smash it against the wall. Apparently
it was a case of, 'If I can't have it, you won't, either.' Angel doubled
his speed, unthinkingly slipping into his true face, and grabbed the creature
from behind. He managed to pull it off-balance, before wrapping his hand round
the raised arm to hold it steady. His other hand finally managed to get a
purchase on the creature's neck, and he yanked backwards viciously. He felt
the sickening crunch echoing in his own body, and the demon slumped down,
nerveless fingers releasing their grip on the fragile cup. Angel watched the
Grail tumble from his captive's fingers, and unthinkingly, reached forward to
pluck it from the air.
girl will be okay then, Giles?" Buffy asked with concern.
be fine," Giles assured her. "It was just a training accident,
apparently. But you know better than anyone how... robust slayers are..."
completely recovered from her tussle with the demon. "Then it all worked
out all right. You fixed the Well, and Angel and I found the cup. Not bad for
one night's work!"
true," Giles agreed tidying his desk thoughtfully. "I wonder... if it
was... the real thing. The real Holy Grail?" he asked hopefully,
"I suppose you didn't..."
with your Slayer abilities," he said, too casually, turning to his
bookshelf to put his reference volumes away. "I wondered if you might
have... sensed something?"
touch it myself, but A..."
her eye, and gave a tiny shake of his head. She understood immediately, and
grinned, changing track with her sentence seamlessly. "A...nyway, you gotta
have some mysteries in life, haven't you? Isn't it better not to
not to look disappointed at the news. "Yes, that would probably be
completely missed the look that passed between Angel and Buffy as they slipped
quietly out of the room.
I changed very
little about The Chalice Well, apart from adding slimy things
to the water. Apologies to the real Guardians, for damaging their lovely
The Story of
There are many
legends surrounding the history and whereabouts of the Holy Grail. I have
chosen this one: The wooden cup (Or Holy Grail) was brought to England by
Joseph of Arimathea, who settled at Glastonbury Monastery. When the monastery
was dissolved in 1539, monks fled with the Holy Grail to Strata Florida Abbey
in Cardiganshire, and the cup eventually found its way into Nanteos, and the
hands of the Powell family.
member of the Powell family - living at Nanteos - died in 1951, the house has
changed hands many times, and it is now a hotel.
I have kept the house owned by the Powells, and invented Alexander. Apologies
if a real Alexander Powell does exist...
whereabouts of the Holy Grail - believed by many to have healing properties -
are unknown, but said to be in a bank vault somewhere - and not still located
in the house.
priest-holes did exist in houses like these, as far as I know, there
isn't one at Nanteos. Other descriptions, I believe, are accurate, and the
notion of an earlier house is based on the fact that part of an earlier house
can still be seen, situated in the basement of the house. The phantoms are real
too, as many ghosts are said to inhabit the Georgian building.